Well, I ran another marathon.

I ran my fifth marathon this weekend. It was the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, in OKC. I’m tired, sore, and generally in a state of exhaustion today. My time was the worst it has ever been, and I’m blaming an injury sustained this fall, 40 mph headwind for a large portion of the course, and a long line or two (or four ) at the port-a-potty. But I did it, dang it. So, take that. 

Collin and I drove up Saturday afternoon, went to the expo, had dinner with one of his friends, and stayed with another friend. We woke up just before 5 on Sunday, got dressed, and headed down. Collin rode his bike next to me to the starting line, and we waited as the start was delayed from 6:30, to 7, to 8, to 8:15. We were in a parking garage as this huge storm blew through. We sat and laughed and talked and it was, although annoying to be delayed, a really fun time. I crossed the starting line at 8:25ish and ran for nearly five hours. That’s a long dang time. I listened to every song I had on my ipad, as well as a podcast. And around mile 24 I took out my earbuds and listened for Collin. I knew he would be there somewhere (at least I was hoping cause I needed a distraction. For real). 

I turned the corner and there he was in all his spandex glory. He hopped on his bike and that last mile flew. It was fun! I crossed the finish line, got some snacks and my shirt, and Collin and I headed out to have lunch. He had a burger, I had a salad and sweet potato fries. I consider this a victory because I used the salad dressing instead of asking for some fat free kind, and there were onion rings on my salad. It was good. Good. (Not a hamburger, I know, but I will eat one someday).

Yeah, so I did it. And I am going to make a list about it. 

My Marathon Memorable Moments:

1. Gorilla Hill: And entire segment up a hill where there were about 200 people dressed in banana outfits. 

2. Signs that said “Who needs nipples?”, “Go random stranger go”, “You are NOT almost there”, “Worst parade ever”, and my personal favorite “I’d rather be watching a Netflix marathon”. 

3. A lot of GU stops and water stops, God Bless ’em.

4. The wind blew in my face for 6 or 7 miles straight, and then was intermittent. These were serious gusts, too. Like, blow your hat off, run full on and barely move gusts. Awful! 

 

5. I got a tan. First time to ever get sunburned at a marathon. It really makes the swelling and soreness feel that much better. (Sarcasm)

6. See Collin, having Collin ride with me, and driving there and back with him.  I was tired and cranky on the way home and we managed to not  have much conflict. (Put that in the win column!)

7. Nilla Wafers at the post-race snack tent. Hello! Best ever!

8. Someone yelled my name (because it was on my bib) and I said “do I know you?” to them, before realizing that I am dumb.

9. All the families gathered in their yards to cheer and watch runners go by. I always love that. 

10. Collin saw how sore and uncomfortable I was, so he signed my up for a massage today after school. What a dang catch!

This is the second marathon I’ve run this month, and I am currently thinking that I’ll run The Dallas Marathon this December. And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll eat a hamburger this time. 

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They’re “Children with Autism” not “Autistic Kids”…

In 2006, I literally stumbled upon a job working as a behavior therapist for a child with Autism. It changed my world. I had a child with autism in my Sunday school class, and had been around children on the spectrum, but did not understand the intricacies of the Autism Spectrum. When I started working with my first client, within the first few days, I knew it was for me. The challenge, the funny moments, the organized learning, the fun…it was for me. I loved these kids. I changed my major from Elementary Education to Child Development and Intervention and headed out to help families and children affected by Autism.

My first job out of college was at the DFW Center for Autism, which is now part of Easter Seals, then I moved to a private therapy 1:1 center, and am now teaching Special Education. I don’t know everything about Autism, I don’t know all the information out there. I do know, however, some things that help these children learn, that tickles and silly songs may be an effective reinforcer, but skittles will always work. I know that these kids are children first, and autistic second. They are boys and girls who are smarter than most, but cannot communicate as effectively as typically developing children. I love their quirky interests, like the student I worked with that wanted to talk about plumbing, or my current student who loves exit signs and octagons. Not hexagons, octagons. Eight sides, people. I love their splinter skills, how a kid can count to 100 when they are two, but can’t label a door or banana. Relating is difficult for them, but it doesn’t have to be for us. I found this today, and I thought it was a perfect list to post in honor of Autism Awareness Month. 

 

The Ten Commandments of Interacting with kids on the Autism Spectrum

1. Thou shall not yell when speaking to me.
My disability does not impair my hearing and I am extremely bright. Perhaps even brighter than you are.

2. Thou shall not ignore me, talk negatively about me, speak unnaturally slow, or ask questions to others in the room that pertain to me.
I can comprehend what you are saying just fine.

3. Thou shall believe in me and help me believe in my skills and self worth.
Note the good in me and do not merely point out my negative behaviors. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.

4. Thou shall not perceive me as dumb.
I am extremely intelligent. I do not learn in the same way as you, and maybe not as quickly as you expect me to. Have patience with me. Once I recall information, I never forget.

5. Thou shall not judge my behavior.
I can get overstimulated in certain environments. I may be hypersensitive to sound and loud noises may hurt my ears. Fluorescent lights are distracting for me. They have a humming noise, and can pulsate. All the noises in a room can blur together. Please make accommodations to help me.

6. Thou shall not be so quick to scold me.
Do not tell me that “I know what I did”. I do not. Tell me what my infraction was in a simple, concise manner. I want to please you, but I have difficulties inferring meaning within a vague statement. For instance, do not say please clean up your bedroom. Tell me exactly what you want, such as ‘Please make your bed and pick up your toys”.

7. Thou shall not compare me to others.
Please remind me, and note the talents that I possess. This increases my confidence and positive self worth. Learning disabled or not, we ALL have talents to contribute within society. I need you to help me realize what mine is. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.

8. Thou shall not exclude me from activities.
Please do not mimic me, ignore me, or bully me.  Please invite me to play with you. It hurts my feelings when I am excluded. I like to run and jump in the playground, and be invited to birthday parties too. Grownups can help me make friends by encouraging other children to play with me. I can be a loyal friend if you get to know me.

9. Thou shall give me choices.
I do not like being ordered about any more than the other children. Give me choices so I know you value my capabilities and opinions. Make them simple and concise. Present two options or so. I get confused when too many questions or directions are given at one time due to my processing speed. For instance, ask me if I would like to wear my blue sweater or green one, rather than asking which sweater I would like to wear.

10. Thou shall not judge me by my diagnosis, but by my character.
I am an individual, just like other children. As my son used to say, “Mom my name is John (name changed for his anonymity) not Asperger’s”. A profound statement I would say. 

Buried in the Grave

“All we had was a promise that You gave, keeping us from fraying at the edge”

The friends of Jesus woke up on that day after good Friday with that familiar pit swirling in their stomachs. You know the one, that “something is wrong, what’s happening, why, I can’t move” anxiety and fear that sits in your soul. That awful one that happens when you awaken and for a moment things are ok, and then you remember that they aren’t.

Their Lord, Savior, Rabbi, Teacher, Leader, and friend had been murdered. And, unlike us, they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand that the horrors they saw were the payment for their sin, they didn’t understand that He was coming back, He would conquer all. 

All they knew was a promise that they would see Him again. And this promise was what kept them. 

And we have that same promise. It’s not over. This mess we live in, it’s going to be redeemed. Those who are believers in Christ will see restoration, and He will come back for us. We are not abandoned. 

Even in the everyday things, He is coming for us. The moments when we come face to face with our own sin and selfishness, and want to despair, we can remember He is making all things new. He is working, and He is not done yet. 

So, like the disciples, we live in that place of clinging. We hold tight to the promise that He is coming again. We cling to the knowledge that He is good, He keeps His promises, He restores. We cling to the cross, where He paid it all, and when we hold fast to the cross, we cannot help but remember His forgiveness, His mercy, His grace, and His love for us. 

So, like the disciples held tight to the promise that He would rise again, we do too. He is coming again, and in those moments where we awaken to despair, let His promise be the one that keeps us from fraying at the edge. 

Let the Redeemed Say So…

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A few months ago I submitted a blog to Redtentliving.com, which is a site that encourages women to rethink what it is to be a woman who loves the Lord, and a place where women can go and connect and be women. And be unashamed of their femininity. And be free of judgement. And know that they matter, they are noticed, they are beautiful, they are loved. 

I was asked this week to become a regular contributor to this site. I am excited. Not because I hope to gain fame and fortune from writing, (because, yeah right) but because I love to share and journal and write and tell my story. 

I have been asked over the years why I share what I share on my blog. Why do I write about anorexia, shame, divorce, anger, heartbreak, wanting to punch people who walk slow, ect. in such a honest and sometimes blunt manner. Why don’t I keep it private? Is it for attention? Is it to tattle on people? Is it because it’s cool? Is it because you want to write a book? (No, Maybe, No, and Perhaps one day are the answers to those questions, and I’m kidding about the tattling part, many of the goriest details have been left off the interweb). 

Why? Because God started this story in my soul many, many years ago. Way before I was a thought in my mother’s head or a bump in her womb, before she was a thought in her mother’s head, a long time ago. God knew that He would do something miraculous in my life, He knew that I would be gifted with words and honesty and wit. He knew that the path He would set before me would be one that was difficult, heart wrenching, and narrow. He knew that in that narrow place, I would find Him, as a four year old little girl, and He would save me and make me His own, and He would grow me and mold me. He would give me words to say and His still soft voice to hear. He gave me the gift of Himself, and I am going to share what He has done. God knew that I would walk through trauma, I would spend nights in a treatment center, I would cry over relationships ending, I would worship His goodness in the little things. He knew I would seek Him in foreign places. He knew my heart would be drained and wrought out and changed and molded. And He instilled in me a desire to share those things. 

He knew that someone out there wants to know that they can survive their husband’s betrayal. He knew someone needs to be reminded of restoration and redemption. He knew that someone, somewhere needed to be encouraged to be honest about struggles. God knew that a man or woman who is struggling with anorexia needs to read and know that the struggle is long, but the war can be won. God knew that others would be encouraged by my words, and fortunately, we live in an era where I have a platform for that. God knew others needed to be encouraged to write and tell an share and open their hearts. 

But even more than encouraging others, writing what He has done and what He is doing in my life and heart encourages me. It reminds me to step outside the daily grind and remember the things He has done. Sometimes the person who needs to be encouraged by my writing the most is me. Sometimes, I am the one who needs to be reminded that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, that shame has no place in my life, that the past does not predict the future. I need to be reminded that my story is not one of shame or sin or struggle, but one of beauty, growth, and joy. And writing this blog reminds me of that. 

I am redeemed, and let the redeemed of the Lord say so and praise His mighty works. That’s why I write. 

 

He makes Beautiful things out of Us…

There is a song I’ve been listening to that has become one of my favorites.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change at all?
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found?

Could all that is lost ever be found? I wondered that for a long time. I knew God would redeem, I knew He would restore. I knew that He would keep His promise to “restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). I knew He would, but I had no idea the beautiful thing He was forming and making through pain and struggle. 

On March 13, I went to the Arboretum with Collin. It was a regular Thursday, I knew nothing was going to happen because in a heated argument a few days before, (wherein I acted like a fool and broke up with him, not meaning it at all, just talking out of my butt) Collin blurted out “I was going to propose to you on Thursday!!!!” and I said back “Why did you tell me??!?!? I ruined it! It’s ruined!”.

I was getting ready at my apartment that Thursday, and I was a bit melancholy. Collin asked me what was going on, I answered “I’m just sad I ruined it and we’re not going to get engaged today”. He didn’t say much after that, he just reassured me that I didn’t ruin anything and his backup plan was spectacular so not to worry. 

We got in the car, we drove to Dallas, holding hands and chatting. We pulled into Whole Foods, got food for a picnic, and set off for the Arboretum. We went in, and Collin walked to this spot and we started eating. Then he says “I got you something”, as he pulls this book out of his backpack, “it’s an ‘I’m sorry your not getting engaged book'”. I didn’t think much of it. Collin can be a little quirky, and so can I, so it would totally be something one of us would do. 

He hands me a book, it’s brown, it’s small, it’s titled “Reasons why I want to spend the rest of my life with you”. I start reading it, and laughing because each page is dedicated to some reason he loves me, and there are drawing to accompany it. Drawings that his students drew. It was perfect. It was sweet. It was hilarious. The pages doted on how weird I am, my ears, my laugh, my love of knowledge, and my hair…and the drawings…perfection. 

But, because I’m still a bit dense, I had no idea he was proposing. Then, he gets in front of me, and says “did you really think I wasn’t going to propose today? Will you be my wife?” I nod. He says “I didn’t hear you”. I’m crying (ugly cry, y’all), he says “Can I have your hand?” I give my hand to him and in that moment, I am overwhelmed. All I can think is “Thank you, Lord. Thank you. You are good. Thank you for redemption, mercy, grace, and joy”. 

And, so in that moment, and in the struggles and growing pains that have happened in our relationship, I have seen a small glimpse of His restoration. That, ultimately, all that is lost in this fallen world will be found. And marrying Collin is a small picture of that. It’s a reminder that God will make all things right, He will restore and redeem, and He will make beautiful things out of us. 

 

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Reading the book, kissing, laughing  at the sweetness.

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Did you really think I wasn’t going to propose today?

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Working Title: Ugly Cry 

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Joy, pure joy.

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Our kids will have fabulous hair.

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Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy”