Christmas at Our House

What a wonderful holiday season we have had this year.  With Christmas approaching we have been able to spend time as a family and for the first time - in a long time - perhaps ever - we feel like we have officially gotten off the merry-go-round.   

We have had the time to make the time for family. 

We have always had a holiday tradition to set up the tree the Monday before Thanksgiving.  This year we almost made it - we got it done on Tuesday.  Rachel did get her's set up on Monday in Germany.  For the record:  I *loved* Rachel's tree in her little apartment!

 This is the first year we have had a fireplace hearth to put the stockings on.  Anna did not yet have a stocking.  While we were preparing the hot chocolate, Daddy took her to the nearest yellow store (Dollar General) and let her pick out a stocking for herself.  She was thrilled with the pink camo one.  ( I was like huh? when she brought it home; and thought that Daddy was a better parent than me - because I would have tried to talk her out of that particular one...) 

Right before Thanksgiving we had some snow fall from the sky for about 30 minutes.  We have some pretty excited children.  Perhaps the smile on her face captures how all of us were feeling while the white stuff was coming down.  We miss the snow!

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday counting our blessings, eating a lot of food and spending time with our friend Julie.  We loved having her with us for our special day!   Thanksgiving just is not the same without friends to share the day!

Perhaps the thing that brought us together the most as a family this year was being able to be in the Christmas Cantata drama together as a family.  We were able to play the part of a family who realized just how different life would be if Jesus had not come to earth as a baby to die for the sins of the world.  It was so much fun being able to go over our lines night after night.   (I will admit, however, that the last week I was getting tired of the same lines over and over again - but don't tell Rob, he was thoroughly enjoying every practice session we had!) 

This is the first year in all of our years of homeschooling the children that I took off for an official Christmas break!  It has been wonderful!  One of the first things the boys did for their break was to slaughter five chickens that James was able to purchase from an area farmer.  They learned a lot.  I did my best to be supportive of this endevour; but I will admit that most of the day that day I spent indoors hoping that all was going well outside. 

The church Christmas party was a wonderful blessing to me in so many ways.  I can not even begin to express all that happened in my heart that night.  God is good.  We also had our annual "White Elephant" gift exchange.  Everyone was so suprised when I stole a box of phones - old phones that no longer work.  There was a method to my madness.  I was babysitting the next day for the couple who works with the teens in the church.  They were taking the teens on an activity and I was watching their little girl.  Both her and Anna LOVE phones.  Needless to say, the day was pretty easy.  They played with those phones all day long.  It was the best white elephant gift that I have ever brought home!

It was such a blessing being able to babysit that day. It brought back a lot of memoires from people who babysat for Rob and I when he was a youth pastor.  Many many activities were made possible for me to attend because of babysitters!  It has been many years ago; but I am still thankful for any of you who watched our little ones years ago.

We were able make ginger bread houses with the little kids.  They loved it so much.  It was a lot of fun.  I think this will become a regular part of our holiday traditions in years to come.

We also were able to spend an afternoon making a variety of breads for neighbors and friends.  It was fun working together and enjoying each others company.    

We have had evenings spent playing games with the kids, watching holiday movies from our childhood and just making memories of our own.   God is so good to give us the gift of family!

We have a little girl who is very excited about her upcoming birthday.  Christmas brings the joy of Christmas to her along with joys of birthday celebrations.  I can not believe she is almost six years old.  What a blessing she is to our family!  We are so glad God gave her to us!  I do believe that the age of six is the year of cheesy smiles.  She seems to have those down to a 'T'!

We trust you are enjoying your family this time of year. We sure are!  We miss our Rachel who is not with us this year - and is in Germany; but we are so thankful for this opportunity for her.  She is with us in our hearts and we look forward to talking to her on Christmas Day via Skype!  We love you, Rachel!   God is so good to all of us.

Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did!



This past week marks sixteen years since our daughter died of SIDS.  In some ways, it seems like it has only been yesterday – in other ways, I lived every single day of those sixteen years remembering someone so dear to my heart.  Someone I miss and think about and long to see again.  In that way, it seems like a long time.

The day she died I remember thinking how sad it was that it was so close to Christmas.  Twelve days before Christmas.  I remember wondering out loud if this would make Christmas’ from there on out hard.  Someone listening assured me it would not.  He was wrong.  Every single Christmas since that cold December day sixteen years ago has been affected by her death.

The unfortunate thing about losing a loved one so close around the holidays is that there are so many more trigger points that affect the memories.   I have gone from loving Christmas and feeling like it is “the most wonderful time of the year” to a sense of dread because of how many memories it brings to my mind.

I see the Christmas lights go up around town and I am brought back to the memory of seeing the Christmas lights on the way to the funeral home for the visitation that night before her funeral.  We put up the Christmas tree and I think about how we took the girls’ picture by the our decorated tree, never knowing less than twelve hours later she would be dead.  The photos a cherished memory of our last night together as a family. 

Perhaps the hardest part for me as the holidays approach is the festivities at church.  Our lives have revolved around church.  Before Ally died and since Ally died.  I have found that church festivities are the same no matter the church you attend.  There are the carols that are sung for services.  There is the auditorium decorations that are so similar.  Green garland, white lights, poinsettias….  And, of all the trigger points that take me back sixteen years the ones at church seem to be the hardest. 

The annual Christmas cantata has become a source of unbearable sadness.  For in the music, I remember the hours and hours of practice I had done that year to get ready for our church cantata.  Ally would sit in her seat next to the piano and I would practice the pieces that our choir would be singing.  The sound of the Christmas music had been a part of my life for weeks and weeks before she died.  She was always there with me while I played – and her absence from the cantata brought more pain that I can put into words.

The Christmas music was playing on the radio the moment I walked into her room and found her not breathing.  The look of death is haunting and cruel.  I will never forget that moment as long as I live.  The 911 call and watching my husband do mouth to mouth as I begged the emergency operator to get help to us as fast as she could.   The Christmas wreath on the door shook as the first police officer arrived and walked through our front door.  I took him to her room – and he took over the CPR as I grabbed his arm and begged him to make her breath again. 

The house was soon filled with firefighters, police officers and detectives.  The phone was ringing and I did not hear it.  I was only brought out of my state of shock by the sound of someone crying – uncontrollably.   

The sound was one I could not make out and I remember wondering what the sound was – only to realize that it was my husband on the phone with someone.  I later found out it was one of my closest friends calling to see what time the cantata practice was that afternoon.  Suddenly, I was brought back to the present and realized that I was not even supposed to be at the house that morning.  I was supposed to be at a cookie exchange.  I had called and canceled the night before because something had to be taken out of my schedule.  Life had gotten too busy.  The cookie exchange was the chosen activity. 

I remember them taking Ally out on a stretcher and I begged for them to put on another blanket.  It was cold outside and I could not believe that they did not have her covered up better.  I ran in and got her blanket while they waited at the door.  The already knew something I did not know.  She did not need her blanket.  I stayed home to make arrangements for someone to watch Rachel and Abbey.   Rob went ahead in the ambulance.  I would be following behind shortly.  The detective had more questions for me as did the other detective that went with Rob.  As I look back, I wish I could change that.  I don’t know why I stayed.  I knew I was coming along right behind them; but I wish I would have left with them. 

I remember the phone call that came as I was heading out the door to the hospital.  It was Rob – and Pastor answered the phone.  He said he could not tell me and wanted Pastor to let me know.  Pastor’s voice was quiet as he hung up the phone and looked over at me and told me that Rob had called to let us know that they had done everything they could but that she was gone.    I will never forget the next moment,  I sunk to the floor weeping.  Deep weeping from the depths of my heart.  Like I had never cried before.  But just as strong as the tears came from the depths within me I felt someone right there next to me.  It was God – I knew it.  I could not see Him; but He was right there beside me as sure as if I could see Him face to face.  I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was weeping with me and was with me right there as my heart shattered into a million pieces. 

I remember hearing “Oh Holy Night” playing on the radio as we went to the hospital.  I do not remember who I was with – or how I got into the car – only the song – and an incredible sadness that I had never experienced before.

When we got to the hospital emergency room I remember holding her body and realizing how true it was that our body is just a shell.  I remember talking about the funeral arrangements and what day it would be best to have the funeral. I remember thinking of all the people we needed to call, all the plans that needed to be made for her funeral in four days.

 That was Saturday.

I remember crying the entire night.  I have never cried that long and that hard in my life before that day.  I grieved through every hour of that night.  That would be the longest night of my life.   I begged God to make this be a dream; then my prayers went to begging God to forgive me for whatever sin I had committed that would make Him punish me so severally.  My chest hurt as I cried from the depths of my heart and I did my best to wrap the pillow around my face as I cried – fearing I would awaken the girls asleep in their beds. 

The next day was Sunday. I remember getting the girls buckled in the car to go to church.  The infant car seat base was left bucked in the seat; but it remained empty.   My five year old daughter said in surprise, “We forgot Ally – then she looked up at my eyes and remembered.  I closed the door and tears spilled down my cheeks.  It was going to be a long day.     I played the piano for church and Rob led the singing.  It was something I wanted to do for God.  I wanted Him to know that no matter what I would serve Him – even if my heart was breaking.   It was the only part of that day that felt normal – in an odd sort of way. 

Our Sunday afternoon was spent at the funeral home.  We had an obituary to write, flowers to choose, and a casket to pick out.  More tears.  We left the funeral home to drive through the area cemeteries to pick out where we wanted her buried.  We found a beautiful cemetery close to the church and then headed back to church for the conclusion of choir practice.    The Christmas Cantata that had been scheduled for that Sunday night had been postponed to the following week.   The choir practice that had been reserved to go over a few rough spots of a Christmas cantata was now being used to practice the music for our daughter’s funeral in three days.

I could go on and on about how Christmas triggers memories of our daughter’s death.  Year after year it happens and year after year I hope and pray that it is better than the last year.  Time heals all wounds – right?    That has yet to happen.  Each year I am paralyzed by the memories that come along with the holidays.  This year was no exception.  Each year I hope that it will be easier.  Each year it is not. 

The absolute hardest thing for me each and every Christmas is the church Christmas party.  It usually falls on the same weekend that Ally died.  Just like it did that year.  Each year I am begged to go and each year I find that I just can’t.  Too many memories.  Too many confusing feelings .  It does not feel right to go to a Christmas Party on the weekend your daughter died – even if it was sixteen years ago.  It’s the weekend that my heart shattered into a million pieces.  The weekend my life changed forever.  How can I go to a party on a weekend like that? 

This year was no different.  The little kids begged for me to go.  I told Rob I just couldn’t.  Too hard.  Too many memories.  How would it look?  I was pulled.  The sadness and hurt I felt cut deep.  While I did want to go – I found it to be something that would be inappropriate for me to attend.  Yet, it did not seem right for me to stay home either.  It *has* been sixteen years.

Rob urged me to make a phone call.  He felt I needed to talk about these feelings with someone.  I was unsure of making the call.  After all, it *has* been sixteen years.   I should be over this by now.  I should not be still crying this hard over the memories that come with this weekend.  Finally I made the call.
I told her about the feelings.   I cried.  I told her how much this week brought back the memories of that weekend sixteen years ago.  The trauma of finding her and then the days that followed in preparing to bury her.  I wept as I remembered.

Then she said something that pinpointed the problem.  This week I remember her dying.  Within this week I remember all the horrors of her death.  Death is a horrible thing.  Death brings trauma.  I understand that!   

Then she reminded me of HOPE.   Christ brought HOPE when he rose from the dead and conquered death.    Because of Him I do not have to fear death - even the death of Ally sixteen years ago.  She reminded me that Ally is not dead – she is alive.  She is just not here.  She is “Waiting in Heaven”.  As she talked, I realized I was remembering her dead – not alive.  As she talked I saw it!  She is not dead!  She is alive.  The horrors of that weekend – have been conquered.  She is alive.  She is in Heaven.  Her days are filled with happiness.  Remembering her dead is paralyzing.  Realizing she is alive fills me with HOPE. 

She then encouraged me to go on.  This is the hard part.  To go to the party and to have a good time.  How?  Is that even appropriate?  The questions came through tears and I told her I did not see how I could do this.  She encouraged me to think of what Ally’s days are like in Heaven.  Complete happiness.  Complete peace.  Total joy.    I need to think of her days now not of that day back then.  She then encouraged me to ask God to give me a verse from His word to allow me to see that it was time for my life to go on.   

I got off the phone and the clock was ticking.  I needed to get going.  The family needed to leave soon for the Christmas Party.  I knew I needed to go.  It was time.  I quickly got around and then headed out to the van.  I prayed as we drove that God would give me a verse, time had not allowed me to pull out my Bible.  “God, I know your word.  Surly you can bring a verse to mind that I have memorized.  I need something from your Word!”      Just then the phrase came to my mind, “For our light affliction which is but for a moment…”   I knew God had given me the verse, though I could not quote the verse in it’s entirety I had enough to hang onto through the party.

I stepped into the house and started talking with people.  I quoted the phrase several times when I thought about Ally.  I chose not to look back at the weekend sixteen years ago – I chose to look ahead to the future.  All the heartaches of earth cannot come close to comparing to the things that wait for me in Heaven.  This light affliction is but for a moment compared to eternity.  I participated in the games – and had fun.  Lots of fun.  For the first time in sixteen years I did not feel guilty.  It’s time to go on.

I came home and tucked the little ones in bed and then pulled out my Bible.  I wanted to read the verse God had given me in its entirety and context.  What I found was breathtaking.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair… For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory:  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

I just sat there amazed at His goodness to me.  He gave me these verses!  I don’t need to look back and remember the trauma of that day and the days that followed Ally’s death.  Those are things which are seen – or have been seen by me  - and praise the Lord, they are temporary!   They don’t last.  I need to look to the things which I have not yet seen; but are just as real as those memories.  Heaven is waiting.  She is waiting in Heaven.  Eternity with Christ will never end.  It is eternal.  

I closed my Bible and thanked God for HOPE.  I am on a mission this year.  To keep an eternal focus during the holidays and build memories with the children God has given me.  So thankful for a God that is living and offers me HOPE even in difficult situations. 

The Getaway

Last week Rob and I were able to have a getaway - just the two of us.  We headed further south to Florida.  There was quite a bit of tears early in the morning as Anna realized that we were leaving and she was not going to get to go.  She begged.  Before we left Rob pulled the map out and showed the two little ones where we were going.  Anna was quite worried that we would run out of gas.  Daddy assured her that there were gas stations where we were going and that we would be able to get gas for the car.


When we left for Florida I had never seen the ocean.  I was so excited to be able to see the ocean and mark that off of my bucket list.  When we got to Georgia the ocean was not too far away.  Rob took a detour so that I could be able to see the ocean.  It was neat to look out and see the water.  We drove over a bridge and took in the sights of the ocean.  I loved it.  

God has really been working in my heart about how fearful I am of certain things.  For a long time - I think my whole life - I have been deathly afraid of bridges.  It was wonderful to drive over this bridge and not feel one ounce of fear or panic.  (That has NEVER happened before).  I know it may sound like a little thing to some; but for me it was a huge event.  I am learning to trust God and know that He will take care of me and that I can depend upon Him and do not need to be afraid.  Even on bridges! 

I love palm trees.  They look so fake to me; because every time I have seen something that looks like a palm tree it has been fake.  Youth work and banquets expose you to A LOT of fake palm trees.  I found myself having to touch them just to feel the 'realness' of the tree.  I love palm trees!  

 The highlight of our trip down to Florida was being able to spend quite a bit of time at the Hope Children's Home in Tampa.  We toured the facilities and were able to eat lunch and get to talk to the kids and staff at the home.  God has done great things for this ministry and it was a blessing to hear how He has taken care of these children and provided for the needs of the home as they care for these precious little ones.  It was hard to leave after our lunch and tour - this ministry really touched our hearts deeply.  

When we were done at the home we drove over to Clearwater, FL to see the ocean.  We drove right past Clearwater Christian College.  We did not stop by the college; but got a photo that said we were there.  ;)

The highlight of the trip was our tour through the children's home; the second best thing about the trip was getting to see the ocean.  It was wonderful to experience the ocean.  I loved it.  I loved the smell of the ocean.  I loved the sound of the ocean; and I loved the feel of the ocean.  It was wonderful.  What beauty God has created!  We were able to see dolphins jumping up out of the water.  It was breathtaking.  It brought tears to my eyes to realize that I was able to do something that I had wanted to make sure I did before I died.  It was wonderful.  I loved the ocean.  

 My husband spent a month in Florida years ago when he traveled with an evangelist.  He was able to show me a lot of things that he remembered from his time there in Tampa.  It was wonderful just to have the time to be together and have him share memories from years ago.  I loved having him as my tour guide!!

I loved the white sand and the feel of it between my toes.  There were a lot of seagulls there.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not fond of these creatures.  I did pretty good with these birds sitting, flying and walking all around us.  Once I got a little bit jumpy and grabbed Rob's arm when a bird was flying towards me.  (He thought I was telling him that there was a tarantula on his back or something and jumped quite a ways in the air. He had to catch his breath when I told him I was just a bit afraid of the birds flying).  So, while I did well on the bridge - the bird thing proved that I have a ways to go with my fear of birds.  (I will say though that there would have been a time when I would not have gotten out of the car with the seagulls around - so we are making strides in the right direction).  

We were not able to get a picture of our hosts that allowed us to stay in their home.  They were wonderful!  We enjoyed such sweet fellowship with them and  saw once again that the bond in Christ is deeper than can be understood.  Thanks Jeff and Allison for the wonderful time there in Tampa.  Your hospitality was a blessing to us!.

We came back from Tampa challenged to live a life of faith and obedience to God's will for our lives.  We were thankful for the time away.  We were richly blessed.

Power to Live

I asked the Lord where He wanted me to read.  The house was quiet.  The children resting.  I heard the still small voice calling me to come.

Proverbs 3.

I settled into the comfortable chair, wrapped the blanket tightly around my legs and opened to the passage.  A familiar one.  I have read it before.  Many times. 

I started reading and came to the verses I knew so well.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths...."

I stopped and meditated.   My eyes went to the notes towards the bottom of the page.  (Study Bibles are worth their weight in gold!) 

I read the notes:  "The verb trust is complemented by the verb 'lean'.  Trusting in God is a conscious dependence on God, much like leaning on a tree for support."

I stopped.  He has been teaching me about grace.  Grace is when God enables me to do a task.  (Divine Enablement" - I have heard it called).  My mind started to think about all the areas of my life where I need Divine help.

Home Schooling
Parenting a special needs child
Parenting a 'normal' child
Being the wife my husband needs
Being a Friend

The list went on - so many areas where in my own strength I mess things up - big time!  (I know by experience)

Then it hit me - Trusting is depending on Him to show me what to do; and even more than that!  Trusting Him is knowing that He will not only show me what I am supposed to do - He will give me the strength, the knowledge, the means in which to do it. 

It is depending on Him to get me through the week, the day, the hour...

I have a relationship with the God of the universe.  The same One who spoke the worlds into existence wants to empower me to do what He has called me to. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to me every second of every day!

Every time I feel overwhelmed with school work.
Every time it seems that autism is more complex than I will every understand.
Every time I am at my wits end telling a child just how I expect a job to be completed.
Every time I am confronted with selfishness that destroys the bond of unity with my husband.

Every singe time these things come up - power is there to respond sweetly, gently and the way Christ would.  I just need to lean on Him and I will find the power of God for each situation.  That is the Christ Life! It's not trying harder - that is 'leaning on my own understanding'.  It is not 'just hanging in there'.  That still has me at the center of the circle. 

The Christ Life is coming across these situations in my day - and going to God and saying:  "God I don't know what to do."  "I need your love to enable me to respond correctly."  "God, I need your wisdom to understand how to handle the special needs you have brought into our home." 

Here is the most exciting part:  Every time I lean on Him and not on myself - He will give me the power to do what needs to be done!  Every singe time!  God will never ever fail me!  He will always make me know the path to take and give me the power to walk it!  Talk about a blessing!

I heard Him speak to my heart that morning:  "Martie, Lean on me with everything you've got.  Don't depend upon yourself.  Consciously realize that I am here and want to help you and I will make your path for every situation straight so you can walk without tripping."

I thanked Him for this truth; and consider myself blessed that because of grace I can live each day with purpose and meaning.  It is allowing Christ to live His life through me. 


A Devastating Handicap

Autism demands that his brain remains in a constant state of evaluation (or perhaps that is the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome  FS).  Either way, it’s my observation.  To take in life he must constantly analyze.  The autism does not dominate his brain; but rather impairs it.   Is there more of a handicap when others can’t see the handicap?
They don’t see the slanted eyes that identify a difference.  They don’t see a child with attachments like braces or a wheelchair.  (Attachments identify a difference).  Autism at his degree has no noticeable identification.  Not at first, at least.

His autism causes him to know there is a difference; but he lacks the ability to see what it is that he does –or is - that causes the difference (or perhaps it  is the FAS).  Either way, I observe him taking in the world and now as he is getting older *he* sees the differences.  He is unsure of what he does that makes there be a difference; but he knows there is one.

It’s the reason why when he senses that someone is not sure of him that he tries harder to get them to notice – to like him.  You see, to Zak there is no one that he does not like.  Everyone is a friend, or a potential friend.  The world is full of his friends or friends that he will make as soon as he meets them – everyone.  Finding someone he does not like does not occur to Zak – that is out of the question.  

He does not read that they can’t handle the differences.  He does not read that they don’t know how to respect differences.  No, he reads their disrespect to him as something he has done wrong.  That more effort on his part needs to be put out to show them that he *can* be liked; because in Zak’s world you can’t dislike someone.  There is no one that he dislikes – so he must have done something wrong to make them pull away from him.  He must try harder – and harder – and harder. 

His persistence is annoying to those who disrespect differences.  He has not clue how to read a person who makes a negative comment to him and walks away.  He stands there and his brain evaluates this language.  It is impossible for him to decipher because it is a language he does not speak.  Rejecting someone, teasing someone, yelling at someone – is not a language that he reads even when it is spoken to his face.  (I know I have watched disrespectful people bite at him with their words).   Zak  will sit there confused -  I do not.  I sit there in amazement that a person could treat someone who has come so far, made such strides forward in such a disrespectful way.  I read the language loud and clear and it cuts me to the heart.

There is a person who has treated Zak in a disrespectful way not once; but many many times.  A grown up.  Zak has become fixated on this person - mainly because he wants more than anything for this person to like him.  He does not.  This does not stop Zak from trying - every time he sees this person to interact with this person in hopes that the interaction will go differently.  It's like a puzzle to Zak.  He must do something to make this person like him.  He was fixated on it.  He talked  about this person frequently at home, in the car, when I tuck him into bed at night.  I knew in his mind he was obsessing to try to figure out what he need to do get this person to like him.  An impossible feat because ignorance in a grownup is seldom a handicap that is able to be overcome – especially when the ignorance is brought on by pride that is unwilling to be reasoned through.

We had come home and while we were out there had been yet another interaction with this person who had stooped to a much lower level than I thought possible for a grown person to reach.  The words had been filled with hate and anger.  I had witnessed this interaction, yet again, and knew this time that I needed to put a stop to it.   We walked into the house and started putting things away and Zak started talking about this person as if he was a superhero.  He told me how strong this person was, how hard he worked, how old he was…..  I had heard it all before.  I call it Zak's superhero talk.  He does that about a lot of people.    Zak talks about this person all the time.  I stopped the glowing praise he was casting on this man… 

“Zak what happened today when this person was talking to you?”  I quizzed

Zak’s face got red and his eyes got tears in them that threatened to spill over.  It was then that I realized that he reads more than I wished he could.  His social literacy rate is increasing and I was seeing in my son something I had hoped that I would never witness:  I was seeing that my son was seeing that someone was disliking him because he was different.  I realized right then that he knew more than I thought he did.

Zak went on to relay the story about how this person had yelled at him and  had been mean to him; as soon as he got done telling me about the encounter I had witnessed between the two he started back in with the superhero talk about the man. (I heard again how strong this man was, how hard he worked, how old he was...)

 I had my fill.  I would not sit and listen to it anymore.  This person was no more worthy of Zak’s respect then a dishonest man is worthy of public office.    I had to tell him the truth.  I would do it briefly and honestly; but he had to know the truth.

“Why do you think he talked to you like that?”  I probed.

Zak’s sat as still as a statue.  He had no answer.  His face got redder and I wanted to take him in my arms and tell him how sorry I was that people would treat a child with disabilities like how I had witnessed him being treated.  I did not. 

Victimizing a child with handicaps causes greater handicaps.

“He does not like you….”  I left my words to hang in the air and be caught by his mind one by one.

There was silence.  Then Zak said, “I know.  I just don’t know why.”

“Because some people think that they are very important and should not have to take the time to talk to kids or have kids talk to them…”  It was the truth.

Zak looked at me questioningly and then said, “Is it because of the autism?  Does he not like me because of my brain?”

I told him I did not know why he did not like him; but that I did not want him talking to him anymore.  “He does not want you to be friendly with him.  You may say hello; but that is all.  People like that need to be left alone.”

 Zak looked at me with sadness in his eyes, “OK, Mom.  I will just say hi to him.”

I wish people could see the world through Zak’s eyes sometimes.  I wish they could see that to him, everyone is a friend. I wish they could look past the things he obsessively talks about and see that he is trying to interact with them – to be part of our world and escape the world where he is stuck.  The world of autism.    

I know that as Zak gets older and interacts with the world around him he will be exposed to all sorts of people.  Many are kind – some are not.  

Zak will always be in our care – autism has a way of making that reality (or perhaps it is the FAS).  Either way I will spend a lot of my time watching Zak as he interacts with others around him; and I am finding out that when he encounters people who are disrespectful and mean I see the picture a little different than some.  It is during those interactions with people that I realize Zak’s not the one with the mental handicap.   

You don’t need slanted eyes to identify the difference, or braces, or Autism or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – pride and conceit are  greater handicaps than any of the other things listed above. Unfortunately, for those seriously afflicted with these mental impairments they find themselves unwilling to take the very guaranteed remedy for what ails them:  a steady dose of HUMILITY.