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trust

Last year,  I spelled out the word “Steward” with our  Scrabble letters and set them upon my kitchen windowsill to guide my intentions throughout 2014.  When I chose the word “steward” as my focus, I remember thinking that I really needed to be a better steward of my time at home, as I had lots of aspirations for my creative business, but often became derailed too easily.  This was the year that I would not allow things like Facebook and internet surfing to steal precious time.  I would set business hours and art hours and stick to them!  I even bought Julie Morgenstern’s book, Time Management from the Inside Out, to give myself an added boost.

By mid-January; however, it did not take me long to realize that God had a different vision of what it meant for me to be a good steward of my time last year.  The power struggles between my girl and me had reached an all-time high and I was failing miserably at being the calm, loving mom that she needed me to be.  The anger I felt inside felt a little scary some days and I knew it was time to ask for help.  My time this past year was meant to be spent in healing.

I spent a good 4-5 months working with a counselor,  just healing my spirit.  Allowing myself to grieve parts of my life journey, my boy’s autism diagnosis, and my girl’s unique struggles.  As I released the trapped feelings from my brain, their physical grip on my heart loosened, as well.  With a new found sense of calm, I was then able to move on to other aspects of our current situation that needed attention.

As a preschooler, my girl had been diagnosed with sensory processing difficulties, an anxiety disorder and ADHD.  I often describe all these diagnosis  as the “leftovers” of autism.  While we sought interventions for my girl when these things first became apparent, the symptoms lessened over time and I guess I just pushed those very real struggles to the back of my mind, as we were still heavily in the throes of addressing my boy’s autism. That said, it was now time to better understand and address my girl’s needs.

So, my husband and I began meeting with a counselor together to hone our parenting skills.  While we share a number of strengths in our marriage, we also made the realization that we needed to communicate and be more assertive about our own individual needs.  We both felt like “martyrs” for our family, working somewhat independently to survive.  Recognizing the importance of validating and supporting each other so that we can function better as a unit has been big for us.  And, as you can guess, a happier, calmer Mom and Dad sets the tone for a more loving, peaceful household.  Apart from our counseling, my girl is now receiving occupational therapy each week to address her sensory needs and we are in the process of completing some educational evaluations to see if there are any other areas that we might be missing.  Lots of hard work going-on here!

As our family continues to heal and move forward together, I have decided that my word for this year is going to be “Trust.”  Trust the process.  Trust that life will reveal itself and unfold just as it supposed to.  And while I keep dreaming and setting goals for myself, I will hold these things loosely, allowing God to gently guide my path.  He’s got this.  I just need to trust Him.

If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment.  Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace.  Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             -Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

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While I am far from being a skilled horsewoman, horses feel like kindred spirits to me.  Something about looking into a horse’s eyes seems reverent-like you can see straight through to their souls.  So gentle.  I have this whole romantic notion of what it would be like to live on a dude ranch.  Wide open spaces.  Mountains in the distance.  Hair blowing in the wind as I gallop through the fields… And then there’s reality.  Me.  A mama over 40, not even having sat on a horse since middle school, taking her first adult lesson several years ago.  Trying to trot, two-point, post and steer without peeing in my pants at the same time quickly put any thoughts of taking-up life on a ranch into proper perspective.  That said, I do look forward to getting my horse- fix every other Saturday when we bring my boy to his horseback riding/therapy sessions at Mesa  Vista Therapeutics.

Donkeys and llamas raise their heads in acknowledgement as we make our way down the gravel driveway, slowing for Clementine, the pot-bellied pig, the occasional chicken, or Little, the blind farm dog.  When my family spills out of the car,  the familiar farm smells of hay and horse manure greet our noses.  Teenage volunteers muck-out stalls and saddle-up horses in preparation for eager Saturday morning riders.  My boy scopes out the horses in the stalls, hoping to see one of his favorites waiting just for him.

I still remember those first lessons with my boy around the age of 7.  Hours before leaving each Saturday, he ruminated over the possibility of having to ride any other horse other than his favorite at the time, Winston.  Once there, I watched as my boy slouched in the saddle and struggled to remember his right from his left when steering. Progress was slow, but my boy enjoyed himself and that’s worth something all on its own. Fast-forward two years later,  that same little guy,  legs long in the stirrups, now confidently tells us (and himself) that he doesn’t have to ride the same horse every week.  He can be flexible and besides, Winston is stubborn.  He sits-up tall and chats easily with his helpers about everything from porch lights to Presidents.  He deftly holds the reins and steers his horse around barrels, trots, two-points (one of his favorite skills), and practices posting.  My boy is at ease with his body and the horse beneath him.

Our Saturday crew is a diverse one with special needs ranging from high-functioning autism, to down syndrome to cerebral palsy.  I have witnessed one teenager, with the support of another rider, start-out a session with his muscles seized-up in a cross-legged position only to relax into the slow rhythm of the horse’s gait and fall asleep by the end of his session.  His older brother, who happens to have down syndrome, sits jauntily atop a stately black horse named Breeze, confidently urging him to “Giddy-up!” Each time this beautiful boy makes his way around the ring and passes his grandmother, who is visiting for the weekend, he smiles broadly, waves, and proudly greets her with a joyful “Hi, Eemaw!”

Something magical happens when you put a horse and a person in need of healing together. Something both physical and spiritual.  The slowing of the heart-rate.  The relaxing of the muscles. An unspoken bond of love and understanding.  And, as a parent of a special needs child, to be able to witness this connection is a gift.

Throughout this journey with my boy, there have been times when I feel like I am constantly on the receiving end. So, as I pondered Autism Awareness Month and all that it means for our family, I thought how nice it would be to give back in some small way.  Throughout the month of April, I will be donating 25% of all art sales from my Etsy site, Dandelion Studio,  to Mesa Vista Therapeutics.  Not interested in purchasing any art right now?  No problem.  Just hop on over to the Mesa Vista Therapeutics website and you can make a donation right on their website!  Won’t you join me in celebrating autism awareness and the beautiful people who are helping our children live their best lives?

 

 

“Nail that sucker open if you have to!”  She is speaking of the door to my heart.  Not only literally, but figuratively.  My assignment is to create a box to express what is means to open my heart, allowing my true light to shine.  I look at the boxes on the table in front of me:  a striped Stride Rite shoe box,  an old wooden cigar box, and two or three worn heart-shaped boxes, once bearing Valentine chocolates.  Nothing really grabs me, but I bring home the cigar box along with the supplies for several other projects on my list.  I figure the inspiration will come eventually.  And, if it doesn’t, I’ll have to dive-in, regardless.

Often, some of my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night, when I am trying to sleep.  And fortunately, I wake-up at my usual 2:30 in the morning with the words to an old Micheal W. Smith song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” running through my head.  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.  Open the eyes of my heart.  I want to see you.  I want to see you.  That’s it!  I need to open the eyes of my heart in order to truly see you, God!  If I want to see my true self, I need to see You more clearly.

I e-mail my art teacher the next morning.  “Can you set that heart-box aside for me?  I need to cut a door in it.”

The outside of my box comes easily, as this is the part of my heart that I am comfortable sharing with the outside world.  A few images from an old book.  Some tissue paper.  One or two embellishments.  Simple grace with just a bit of reserve.  But the inside of my box?  If only you knew how many layers!  Turquoise paint. Scrapbook paper. More paint. Gel Medium. Fabric. Gesso. Wax. Oil pastels.  An old quilt piece.  My grandmother’s vintage jewelry.  A sprinkling of glitter.  This project is long and messy.  Sometimes, it even feels a bit scary.  What if I try something and it is a big mistake?  A mistake that’s hard to fix?

Just like my heart-box, the transformation of our hearts is not a simple process.  Layers have to be sifted-through and deciphered.  Expectations.  Fears.  Wounds.  Some layers we choose to keep.  These layers feel right.  And some we choose to alter into something more beautiful, better able to reflect God’s spirit.   As a result of this sifting, deciphering, and altering, though, we end-up with a whole heart.  A soft heart.  A heart full of grace, compassion, and movement.  A heart radiating  God’s beauty.  Our beauty.

She tells me that I have places in my heart that are in need of healing.  Wounded areas that are keeping me stuck.   I consider myself to be a fairly introspective person, and at the same time, I am aware that in the messiness of my own life, it’s difficult to be objective sometimes.  Certain portions of my heart, those  areas where dysfunctional ways of thinking  have worn deep grooves, may well require a little more care.  I long to live with a whole heart, not just a chosen portion, but a full, thriving heart. I am advised to regularly practice forgiving and releasing old hurts, allowing God to restore those still wounded pieces of my spirit.  She also suggests the heart-healing properties of rose quartz.

Now, I do not know a lot about holistic healing, but figure I can’t do any harm in purchasing some quartz.  This is how I find myself standing at the counter of a curious little rock shop, sifting through a plastic bin of  pink quartz gemstones in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Most pieces are smooth and shiny, shaped in the form of tear drop pendants or small round beads for creating necklaces and bracelets.  I have a hard time selecting a piece for myself, as I’m not even sure what I am supposed to do with the quartz once I bring it home.  Wear it?  Carry it in my pocket? Set it on my kitchen windowsill? I guess the rock shop owner senses my quandary when he suggests that he can just chip a piece off of a larger stone, if I’d rather have a rough piece.  I take him up on this offer and a few minutes later, he returns with a small lump of rose quartz, jagged and yet still beautiful in its soft pink color.

Several days later, I carry the quartz with me to my art session.  When I tell her how the shop owner chopped a piece off just for me, she laughs, saying, “Now, isn’t that symbolic?”  I didn’t get the truth to her comment at the time, but soon after my session, the words to Janice Joplin’s song “Piece of My Heart” start running through my head. Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!   The shop owner chipped that chunk of quartz off its larger self just like I am designating the injured portions of my own heart for healing!

Some mornings, I take my pink quartz along with me in my jean’s pocket, jagged edges and all.  Other days, I leave it sitting on my bedside table and give it a glance or two before going to sleep at night.  If nothing else, I appreciate having this visual and tangible reminder that I have placed the wounded areas of my heart into God’s hands, trusting that He will guide me in the healing process.  And so, I ask you, do you ever feel like you are stuck?  Like you get to a certain place in your life and you just can’t move forward?  Perhaps you might want take a little piece of your heart and offer it to God for His healing.  Allow God to smooth down those rough edges and restore your heart in the way that only He can do.

*photo:  courtesy of google images

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