Mist on the Water

Sun Rays

I was looking through some of the photo’s I took on a March hike when I spied this one. I hadn’t noticed the way the sun cast rays upon the water reflecting a pinkish-purple. The still barren branches of the tree and the mist rolling in behind all create quite a nice scene.

Mist on the WaterHeavy FogSandy Beach

These 3 photo’s were taken a few minutes apart on that same hike in March. The coastal mist rolled in and out literally before my eyes.

Below are my ever faithful hiking buddy’s.

Hiking Buddies

Thanks for stopping by. See you in May.

A Weekend In April

As Sunday rolls to a close I thought I would share some of the images I captured in my varied and busy weekend. I was most relieved on Friday afternoon to end my work week.  It had been exhausting and challenging on several levels but I decided that instead of thinking about the “issues” all weekend I would do as my Savior tells me to do and cast my worries Him. You know I must say when practiced this works! I am feeling refreshed on many levels this evening and ready to begin the week afresh tomorrow.

Yesterdays post captured images of My Favorite Things from around the yard and house. After snapping, cropping and writing I returned to the yard to determine where my new raised flower beds would be placed. I hope to have fresh, organic vegetables all summer long, I will keep you posted on how this goes. I will confess it is a bit of a stretch for me. I kept my camera nearby and captured a few additional images of the bees and butterflies at work collecting nectar from those luscious lilac blooms. Butterfly sipping Nectar

Busy as a Bee

My daughter Jess came home, fairly unusual for a Saturday, and we spent some time chatting while she cleaned out her car(which acts like a cross between a closet and a suitcase). Both Haley and Kitty enjoyed some of the sunshine and fresh air.

Here Kitty Kitty

Cute dog!

After a nice day in the yard I headed out to a FunRaiser for a breast cancer organization called Team Towanda. I was participating in the health fair prior to the party honoring and celebrating amazing women. It was a great event with food and dancing all night long. I was blessed to have both my sister Kelly and a friend Grace attend the party as my dates.

Celebrating Women at TTF

Sunday was busy and fun too. There was a bike blessing this morning at church, hosted by the Christian Motorcycle Association. No good pictures of our bike though…I will snap a few next time. We rode along the shore enjoying more glorious sunshine until we reached a destination our most recent favorite eating spot, The Bridge. Plenty of good food and fellowship. Once back home I decided it wasn’t time to let the weekend go so we went out where I let my husband beat me at two games of pool:) We were heading around the final corner towards home when I spotted him. Standing so majestically. I could hardly believe it. So beautiful. So still. Such great posture. Patiently watching. Waiting for some unsuspecting prey to come past so that dinner could be fetched. Just look at him. Tell me he isn’t amazing.
Large Crane

My Favorite Things…

Green and Black Chocolate

Earlier this week I was reading blog posts while riding the Easy Street van on my morning commute. Carol over at Wanderings of an Elusive Mind was participating in a photo scavenger hunt. Well you know how the story goes, one click leads to another and you discover a “new to you” blog in blogosphere. Karen from Karma When I Feel Like it Blog host a monthly photo scavenger hunt. The theme for the month of April is “Favorite Things”. For me this immediately brought to mind Julie Andrews and those beautiful Van Trapp children. As I pondered the topic I often found myself humming the tune.

Many of the “things” I would call favorite are felt with senses other than our eyes. Such as the feeling of the warmth of the sun on my skin or the way the sand at the beach feels under my feet. The smell of fresh coffee brewing in the morning or freshly cut grass in the summer. The taste of the cool drink you have been waiting to enjoy or that Italian meat sauce that has been tantalizing your nose for hours. Or my personal favorite…the smell of the freshly bathed little one as she climbs into you lap for a snuggle and a hug.

Since this is a photo challenge I have headed into my surrounding to capture some of my favorite things from  behind the lens. Hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Some of my Favorite Spring Blooms…

Lilac

Purple Iris

Feeding and Watching the Birds in the Backyard is one of my favorite pastimes. It won’t be long now before the baby birds start coming too.

Bird with Seed

Bird on the edgeBlack Capped ChickedeeChickadee with Seed

My favorite chair in my favorite room to spend my morning devotion time. On the chair is my favorite blanket to wrap myself in while read from my bible and write in my journal while filling the room with my favorite scent, Midnight Jasmine and my new favorite CD spills into the room.

Morning Devotions

My favorite mixed breed, Haley.

Haley  

My favorite colors, red and yellow fill the room and the vase.

Tulips and Daffodils

Share some of your favorite things below with a comment or create your own post and trackback.

~Paige

Be My Guest~ He’s “Spectrum-y” but He’s All Mine

autismawareness

It is hard to believe that the month of April is pushing into May already. Part of my plan for my blog this month is to raise my own and my readers awareness of the often misunderstood diagnosis of autism. Earlier this month a friend shared his family’s personal story. Today’s post is written by my cousin Beth. My invitation to her to share her story on my blog has caused her words to bubble out onto the page. I have learned quite a bit about the trials and joys both of these family’s have faced over the years by reading their hearts story. It is my prayer that you, my reader, have as well.

Yes, He’s “Spectrum-y” but He’s All Mine!

“Spectrum-y”….. it’s a word those of us affected by Autism have come to know oh-so-well. Loving someone who is on the “Autism Spectrum” has it’s challenges, but with each challenge comes a bounty of blessings. One learns not to take the little things in life for granted. All the typical milestones, we as parents count on, become less and less important when one of our children has Autism. Getting through a shopping trip without a tantrum becomes the best day ever. The first day you don’t get woken up by the security alarm going off because your child wants to go outside at 4 AM… it doesn’t get any better! How about the first time you can go out for dinner and not have to leave inside of twenty minutes because after that the screaming begins…all these become milestones of an Autistic parent. A mother learns that the “competitiveness” we feel with other Mother’s is so insignificant- we start to appreciate how much a laugh, smile, reaction, kiss or a hug means more than a winning Lotto ticket could ever mean. Only a parent who lives with Autism gets how important it is to have a moment of peace and a full night’s sleep without having someone erupt into a tantrum. The tantrums can be fleeting and usually tolerable, but when it happens in a grocery store and you have to leave a cart full of groceries just to get the tantrum to stop… it’s always exciting. It’s certainly never dull….

My son was born September 5,1998… I’ll never forget that day. Not just because he was born then, but because it was the same day Mark McGuire tied Babe Ruth’s homerun record. All anyone could hear all afternoon was screaming and yelling- and it wasn’t from laboring women, it was from their significant others cheering the ball game! Interesting to say the least. I thought then, Corey would have have such an exciting life, simply because of the day he was born. How those words somehow “haunt” me, but not really in a bad way. Simply because if I knew then what I know now, I would have shut the doors and turned on a movie- maybe I could have had a little “less” drama. More of a sit-com kind of life? Maybe “Seinfeld” or “Friends” or something to “lighten the mood”. But I went with the moment. Sports were great that year, and I don’t even like sports. But, if you have to watch sports, that’s how you watch them. oh, well. C’est la vie…Corey was always a pretty easy going baby-he went to bed great… no fuss, slept through the night at 7 weeks, ate GREAT- I couldn’t get enough food into him! I never knew babies could eat so much. He was twenty pounds at 6 months old! He was chubby and did exactly what he was “supposed” to do as a baby and life was good… or so I thought. It couldn’t get much better, right? Until about the age of one…then it all changed.

autism puzzle

His easiness and contentedness would be sharply contrasted by how angry and annoyed he would get, for what seemed like no real reason. Loud noises bothered him, especially music, drastic changes in the weather like wind and rainstorms affected him and not in a good way! And foods became a huge issue- toddlers learn what they like and don’t like, but Corey was obsessed with macaroni and cheese- ALL THE TIME! Morning, noon, night… and if I ran out… believe me, I was at the store no matter what time of day, buying more. The extremes of his tantrums were getting worse. I was told repeatedly that I “spoiled” him or he needed a “beating” to put him in line. My heart knew better. My heart knew there was something else. Corey may have been what I thought was “stubborn” but he was perfect in my eyes and he LOVED his Mom! He never left my side unless it was for close family and he was only happy when I was in view. He didn’t play with kids, he didn’t even a want to look at them and that was ok with me, for a while. But, eventually, it was more and more like he was in a whole other world not a part of ours… and a part of me wished I could be there with him. I knew in the deepest part of my heart, something wasn’t right.

` After months of hearing, “there’s nothing wrong with him”, “he’s a typical boy”, ” all boys are slow” ( between you and me, I never quite understood what that meant?) and “you’re being paranoid” I FINALLY got someone to “hear” me- she asked me if he was ever diagnosed “On the Spectrum”? Nope. No idea what that even means? So, being the “neurotic” person I am… I Googled it…Oh My Gosh!!! Finally! It wasn’t me! He was everything Google said and more! Fast forward about 3 months when I could finally get to see a doctor and yes… he was officially diagnosed with PDD-NOS- a form of Autism diagnosed in children under the age of 6. Now I could get help from school for him- he qualified for services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language. Yay. What I didn’t realize in the midst of my happy dance, that while Corey would “qualify” for Special Education, I wasn’t prepared for what home was going to be like… here it comes. I still had a daughter to care for, too. Most of my family didn’t believe me or want to know about it- it was embarrassing. The friends that cared to even know what I was going through asked and the ones who didn’t care, couldn’t tolerate his tantrums and they stopped calling. Going out to the grocery store, mall or a restaurant became the most difficult trips- it almost wasn’t worth it. But I needed to get out and be around other people. Strange noises made him scream, smells made him freak out and unfamiliar places put the fear of God into him like nothing I had ever known. What I didn’t know then, that I do know now, was if I educated myself “enough”, I would have known all those things, right? Being a parent to an autistic child is a learning process. It’s also one where a lot of tolerance is learned, too. I’ve had many people stare at me and him, people have told me I’ m a bad Mother- that one came not only from strangers, but from family, too- if I knew how to be a decent parent, he would never act the way he does. One learns to ignore it. But it makes everything just a little more difficult. Other parents brag about how smart their kid is, how talented their kid is, how many friends their kid has- I had a “party” when Corey wrote his name without assistance for the first time… in first grade!!!! The first book he read by himself… in second grade… was cause for celebration! Mardi Gras paled in comparison to how many people I called and celebrated the news with! With his success came struggles- his OCD. He became infatuated with things that got in the way of his day, sometimes. Sea animals was and still is a big one for him- Star Wars, video games, cartoons, Titanic The Movie- but the biggest was penguins. He talked about them day and night, all the different kinds, he had videos, books… we even went to the penguin exhibit in Mystic- to this day years later, he still remembers everything about that one penguin. That one seemed to take over his life, but we all listened and in a weird way, became educated by him. Truthfully, I’m glad he took it down a notch…but no obsession he has now EVER compared to “The Penguins”… that one was tough. We did it, though.

Corey is 13 1/2 now and in middle school. He likes girls, video games, different types of foods for lunch -pizza and cheeseburgers are his favorites, though- he likes to cook, he likes math. I could never understand that one but it makes sense why… it’s predictable, just like he likes it. Predictable. That’s our life. Our whole family life. Predictable. Sometimes boring, but we do it because it works for him- the peace through the process is something my whole family and those closest to me have had to learn. I know, God doesn’t give me what I can’t handle, but I guess what I’ve learned? He can bring it on! I can handle anything! Sometimes, life doesn’t always go the way we want it to and Corey learns that everyday with great difficulty. I see it in his eyes when he’s faced with a sudden change. It seems so minute for some of us, but for him, he works so hard to just get through the day and when he does, there’s a certain gratification he gets from doing a good job… and so do I. Partly because I know how hard it was for him to do it…but mostly… because I’m his Mom and I get to love every single second of watching him.

Thanks to both of my guest bloggers this month for sharing such courageous stories.

Autism Flower

Warning…that can be habit forming

Good Habit

Habits. We all have them. Habits can be viewed as good. Habits can be viewed as bad. Habits can be developed. Habits can be changed.

A habits is defined as a practice or tendency.

A few habits that come to mind are:

Bathroom Habits

Buckling up

Listening

Eating Habits

Viewing and Reading

Driving

Nail biting

Smoking

Exercise

I have been working over these past four months to develop some new habits and have seen results in several areas. Consistency is key. It has been said that it takes 30 days to make a habit. Change is not easy however, in fact it can be downright painful at times. We must often stare down what we can often view as a glaring inadequacy. Now I know there are those among us that would flip that statement on its head and say it is an area to be improved, which it is but most often when we are seeing ourselves we tend to look at it from the other perspective. I will say however with practice I have begun to see a shift in my thinking from the inadequate person to one who is constantly seeking to improve and grow herself. This doesn’t happen overnight so be patient with yourself.

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.  ~Samuel Johnson

I lean on God and draw from His wisdom and strength, asking where I should seek to change. A number of years ago I smoked cigarettes. I had quit the habit many times but for one reason or another always started again. One day I felt the Lord telling me it was time to quit. So I did. It was quite easy to put them down. As in the past I resumed smoking again after a period of time but this time I really struggled because I knew I was being disobedient to what the Lord asked me to do. Eventually I put them down again but this time it was a real struggle, the cravings were intense and I yearned for a cigarette like I never had before. The season of grace was gone. It had been present when I obeyed initially but not now none the less the directive to quit hadn’t changed. Lesson learned here…do what the Lord asks when he asks…it will probably be easier than if you delay in your response.

Motivation and habit

My personal successes in 2012 include maintaining a well organized home office, creating a priority list of tasks and getting through them each month, rising at 4:30 each morning to spend quiet time reading and journaling, using my directional consistently when driving(this may seem odd but it makes me nuts when others don’t use one so I realized that CHANGE starts with me), and to add to the list this month hanging the laundry outside to dry in an effort to conserve more energy.

What about you…are there new habits you need to develop or old ones you need to let go of?

Daybook Entry April 21, 2012

April 21, 2012 The Simple Woman’s Daybook

simple-woman-daybook-large

FOR TODAY

Outside my window…the sun is shining and the leaves are popping out more fully. I can hear the traffic on the street below through the open window, and the songs of the spring birds. I can feel the warm spring breeze on my face as I peer through the window.

I am thinking…what a perfect day this is.

I am thankful…for so many things. To mention just a few; my best friend and husband Steven, forever and encourager and cheerleader in my court. A wonderfully warm spring day to enjoy. The rain that is coming which is desperately needed in my little piece of the world.

In the kitchen…not too much is happening at the moment.

I am wearing…well…sweaty work-out clothes and sneaks. I took a bike ride with my guy before he went off to work.

I am creating…the life I am meant to live.

I am going…to a worship service this evening at a church we always enjoy visiting. Excited to hear the speaker.

I am wondering…if I should head to the grocery store today.

I am reading…Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and listening to the Big Burn on audio.

I am hoping…to get the closet cleaned and organized tomorrow.

I am looking forward to…a day of rest.

I am learning…to walk out one of my favorite scriptures~ All hard work leads to profit but mere talk only to poverty.

Around the house…things are pretty tidy and the animals are content.

I am pondering…how I can infuse God deeper into my daily life.

A favorite quote for today…

Turtle Quote

One of my favorite things…a great pair of shoes.

A few plans for the rest of the week: special meeting tonight, hope to try Hot Yoga on Monday, maybe trial a few new recipes.

 

 

Haley, Steven and Paige

I don’t think I have shared this picture yet. We took a hike about a month ago on a clear early spring day. A fellow hiker offered to snap our photo.

~Have a wonderful day.

Paige

Panty Hose takes New Life Form

Earth day2

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~ Native American Proverb

Last week I went on a quest to discover a comfortable pair of panty hose. I am of the opinion that it was a man who disliked women that created the things. It is my preference to avoid wearing hose at all costs however last year the hospital adopted a new dress code. Among other particulars we cannot wear capris’, open toe shoes and must wear panty hose if in a skirt or dress. Believe me I would completely ignore this new code if I felt I could get away with it, the hose portion anyway. I need to be in compliance though so last week I set out to find a pair of hose that I wouldn’t need to peel off midway through the day.

Research on the subject revealed that the higher the lycra content the more comfortable the hose would be to wear. I scoured the internet, read reviews, compared cost and made a decision. All my research pointed me toward No Nonsense Almost Bare as the top dog. Many of my co-workers laughed at my on line purchase…why not just buy them in the Walgreens up the street? 2 reasons. There is nothing more frustrating than NOT finding the brand I want at the store(something that occurs in the specific world of hose all too often). Second, if there is no cost for shipping why should I be the one running around? Let them come right to the door.

What does all of this have to do with celebrating Earth Day you ask. When I went on the No Nonsense webpage I learned that the company has a recycling program for your worn out hose. It seems as though the panty hose has progressed beyond the garden tie on the tomato plants. You may be sitting on a park bench created from recycle hose! Cool huh? Check it out…most of us have them, now we can send them back, free of charge and create a new piece of beauty. I like it!

I wore a skirt the other day and pulled on a pair of the hose. I wouldn’t go so far to say that these hose are comfortable but I don’t think I would say that EVER about hose. I did find them to be wearable for the entire day so a winner in my opinion.

What creative way have you heard about to recycle a frequently used item into another item? Please do share so that we all can learn. It our planet, let’s take care of her.

Consider the Earth

Our Earth

The Earth is ours to enjoy
For every little girl and boy.
But we must always be aware.
That all its beauty we must share
With all the children yet to come,
Who want to laugh and play and run
Around the trees and in the fields.
So we must keep our planet free
From messy trash and debris
With air that’s clean and fresh and clear
For all to breathe from year to year.
We must never ever abuse
Our sweet Earth that’s ours to use.

 

 The poem was part of a collection written for school teacher to use as part of an earth day celebration, no author was notated.

I have made several commitments this year to help conserve our resources. Here is a glimpse of my list:

hang laundry outside to dry

plant a small vegetable garden

continue to ride the commuter van

turn the faucet off

discover new ways to recycle(ideas I will share along the way)

buy organic

carry trash bags when I hike to clean up along the path

 

What are your ideas to recycle, reduce and/or reuse? Please share below…we may learn new ideas.

Earth day

Designed Perfectly

follow me

Last December my husband and I were out doing some final shopping for one of our many holiday events when he spotted someone he knew. This is not too unusual for my very social husband who really thinks that a stranger is someone he has only yet to meet. We struck a conversation with this guy and his wife who are about the same age as us and like us a second time around marriage. Inspired by the chance meeting he extended an invite to them to join us during one of those said holiday event, an invite which they accepted. Since that chance(not) meeting we have had the opportunity to fellowship with this couple on a few occasions and have become better acquainted. During our most recent evening together the conversation moved toward how God uses us in our life and I was struck by how perfectly we are each crafted to sometimes thrive at other times just survive in our sphere of influence. Let me elaborate.

S.G is employed in the local boat yard as a welder. The mostly men who inhabit the world in which he has been assigned can be shall we say tough, sometimes mean-spirited, crass kind of guys. I know from our conversation that S.G is often challenged by the hardness of the environment yet he is well equipped to handle these guys. S.G has a personal walk with God that enables him to speak boldly into their lives. And it would seem that there is a knowing respect for S.G’s relationship with his savior which at times actually curbs the language and behavior(at least in his presence). It is through him that the light of the Lord is shining in this dark place.

As I pondered this man and his sphere I was struck by how uniquely gifted we each are for exactly our personal sphere of influence. I could not imagine walking the walk that S.G is called to but that is not my walk. Many people have remarked to me over the years how difficult “my” calling is—working with cancer patients;yet I enjoy the rewards daily often finding myself even more greatly blessed than those I minister to.

I was recently reading in the book of John and I came across the story when Jesus reinstates Peter. In this passage Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves him. When Peter confirms this to be fact Jesus says to him then follow me. So Peter does. But Peter notices that they are being followed by one of the other disciples and asks Jesus, what about him? To which Jesus replies, what is that to you. You must follow me. Jesus to telling us that it doesn’t matter what the other guy is doing, all that matters is that we are obedient to His command and follow him.

Each one of us is uniquely fashioned by the Creator of the universe to influence an assigned sphere. We need to be less concerned about what the person next to us is doing and more concerned about if we are doing everything we are called to.

What is your assigned sphere of influence? Are you doing your part to spread His light?

Be My Guest Autism Awareness Post

autismawareness

James and I met last March. We were part of the medical mission team in Guatemala. Over the week as James and I became acquainted he shared with me how having a child with autism has shaped his life. I was delighted when he agreed to write a guest post because I feel that when we become more informed myths and untruths are dispelled and I believe that autism is a frequently misunderstood problem. What follows is a glimpse into the life of his family.

When Paige first asked if I would contribute a piece for her blog regarding Autism, I first thought it would be a very easy task. My pride took over. I am integrated into our community as a member of three boards serving individuals with Special Needs, the Chair and Executive Director of another board serving the Autism population, provide bi-monthly respite nights for families called Parent’s Night Out (PNO), bi-monthly Parent Resource Information and Support Meetings (PRISM), and I am also a parent of a 15 year old young man with classic/severe Autism. I thought I had a lot to say, and I could do it quickly.

I was sorely mistaken.

In fact, everything changed last week. Let me explain by telling you how we arrived to this point. I served 20 years in the Army. I grew up as an enlisted soldier and transitioned into the officer ranks as a helicopter pilot. It was during our tour in Alaska where we received the diagnosis of Autism. We heard all the buzz words parents hear long before they receive an Autism diagnosis. “He is going to be an engineer some day,” or, “look how good he plays by himself, he is such a good baby,” or, “He is so smart and so quiet,” among many other statements that later reentered our thoughts when we were told that Jacob had Autism.

At that time Autism was diagnosed 1 in every 166 children. I remember the Center for Disease Control among other advocate groups stating that it is fast becoming an epidemic. The numbers were updated three times since then, 1:150, then 1:101, and now recently the CDC stated it is 1:88. I have not heard the term “epidemic” since 1:166, but I supposed the numbers would now support their claim.

We learned quickly that there were several areas that would occupy our energy and would keep us focused in the wrong direction. As a family, we decided that we would focus our efforts in areas that were within our skill sets. We were not doctors, so we refused to spin our wheels chasing causes or cures, but to work with Jacob in the “now”. I used to be a professor at the Virginia Military Institute and I taught leadership. I would engage my students in an exercise were they were told to define success. I received a variety of answers. After the drill, the students would ask me for my definition. I would state that I cannot define success, but I can define failure; failure is succeeding at the wrong thing. This lesson has proven true in everything we do for Jacob.

Now let me explain the last 12 years. Our lives have been rearranged, turned over, expensive, embarrassing, challenging, off color, disciplined, fragile, strengthened, and tested. Patti is Jacob’s mother and an amazing young lady who can be as stubborn as she can be gentle when needed. She has defended, offended, laughed, cried, and been the bedrock of our family. Jacob has been ostracized, ridiculed, but he has been loved, accepted, and prayed for by family, friends, and our church. Seven years ago, he was in a catastrophic accident where 70% of his body sustained 3rd degree burns. He was in a coma for 45 days and went through an amazing recovery period. It was during that time we decided that I would retire from the Army, we would live in Lexington, Virginia, and we would start ministry to help families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. In our ministry, we discovered that 80% of marriages end in divorce, the mother usually raises their child with Autism, and she becomes isolated without support.

Jacob has terrible tantrums. I have a friend who is from Greece. He owns a restaurant in Lexington, VA, and he participates in our annual fundraisers. He asked me, “What is Autism?”

I replied, “Nick, how frustrated do you get when you try to communicate and you can’t find the right words, or the person you are talking to, just can’t understand?”

“I get so mad,” raising his arms above his head showing his frustration. I explained, “Autism is a disorder that keeps a very intelligent person from being able to communicate. They can get so upset that they lose control. It is like what you feel, times 100.”

If a child has a diagnosis of Intellectual Disability, their IQ is below 70. That’s the only diagnosis. However, that is not the same with ASD. In fact, for Jacob, the diagnosis came from a team in Seattle, Washington. Not every child will get a multi-disciplinary diagnosis, but all will agree that the testing is much more complex than an IQ test. Every diagnosis is complex. Unfortunately, because of this complexity, Developmental Pediatricians, Psychologists, Nutritionists, Practitioners of Holistic Medicine, parents, and school professionals rarely agree on the causes, cures, or approaches for treatments. Healthcare providers disagree on funding for treatments, schools argue over therapies, and parents are left paying the bills attempting to find out the “cure” or even what works in keeping their child somewhat integrated in society.

For 12 years, we altered our lifestyle. We had extreme difficulty in finding childcare for social events that my unit would sponsor, or when friends would invite us over for a BBQ. For 12 years we have grown accustomed to segregating ourselves. Our friends had learned to not ask us over for dinner because they did not want us to be forced to decline and they did not to feel guilty. For 12 years we kept our family vacations within close proximity of Jacob’s ability to travel. We flew from Alaska to the states when he was three, and that was the last time. We have felt the wrath of Jacob if we were forced into long periods in the car. In fact, anything that is contrary to his routine would eventually end with a “melt down”. While flying helicopters, I learned an Emergency Procedure for an event called a “High-side”. High-side is an emergency situation where the engines and rotor system begin an unexpected and rapid escalation. This event becomes destructive to the helicopter. Sometimes the symptoms are gradual and are not noticed until the engine has escalated too much to resolve. Other times, escalation can happen within a split-second. Just as a helicopter’s engine can high-side, Jacob’s behaviors or “meltdowns” can occur gradually or suddenly. We would often find ourselves in a very precarious situation at a grocery store, restaurant, library, school, or other area. We had developed “Emergency Procedures”. It became just easier to stay at home.

For 12 years, we had been so wrapped up in our lives and ministry with Jacob and our community; we (Patti and I) did not see what was coming.

So, what happened last week? I often travel to conduct leadership seminars. I was asked to fly to the New Mexico Military Institute and conduct two sessions on a Saturday. When I gave Patti my itinerary, she asked if she and Jacob could tag along. I just returned from Guatemala and a myriad of thoughts flashed through my mind; airport security, lines, TSA screening, outbursts, what happens if he high-sides on an airplane while flying, full body scans, Jacob is non-verbal, what happens if we separate, and the thoughts went on and on. Patti was convinced this was an experiment she wanted us to endure. We decided to take the chance, and we begun praying earnestly for God’s peace.

The time approached closer and my anxiety level skyrocketed. I have done this leadership seminar many times, but my worries were about Jacob travelling. Patti and I went into planning with excruciating details. We planned every exit strategy for her and Jacob that we could think of permitting me to continue on the trip if necessary. She called American Airlines and stated her concerns. I remember driving to a track meet for our other children when American Airlines returned her call, assigned her a special agent to answer her questions, addressed each of her concerns, and made accommodations for Jacob. We were excited that American Airlines were very supportive, but our anxiety continued. American Airlines reached out us and attempted to ease many of our concerns.

We departed for Roswell, NM. We tried to make our trip as comfortable as possible. We flew from Reagan International on Friday, March 30th with a layover in Dallas. We made our connection easily and landed at Roswell, International that afternoon. After a great dinner and an evening at the pool (Jacob loves pools), we retired exhausted and in utter amazement on how well he travelled. We laughed as we reminisced on how Jacob begged to sit at a window seat (typical for 15 year old boy). He drank the water given by the flight attendant, he waited his turn to grab his backpack from the overhead bin, and he walked through the airport politely and with a purpose. I had a wonderful leadership seminar on Saturday, and on Sunday, we departed early for home in reverse route.

We landed at Reagan, picked up our luggage, and were in the truck heading for home when I noticed that Patti was quiet and later crying. I asked her what was wrong. She said this trip was liberating. She said, “For 12 years we could not go anywhere out of fear that Jacob would have a meltdown. Now, I am wondering where we should go next.” As I write these words, I joined her in crying.

I can honestly read Philippians 4:6-8 in a much better perspective.

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The sky is the limit. I just asked her if we can stay domestic. I don’t want to deal with Customs.

James Cook
Chief Operations Officer at Sayre Enterprises
Chairman and Executive Director of Rock Bridge Family Services
Jacob’s Father
Patti’s Husband