Autism grows up: Their first jobs!

God will make a way!

It’s been an exciting school year so far at the Akins ranch.

The twins are in their senior year. They are 20 years old and will be 21 in February. They’ve waited quite anxiously for several years for this to happen and now it has.

They have jobs!

Their vocational school, Heartland Career Center, has a program that helps high school students with special needs gain job experience. The twins get school credit for working at their assigned jobs several afternoons a week.

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Isaac’s first day on the job!

Isaac got a job at Pizza Hut. He had to go through the interview process and he was amazing. We’re so proud of him!

Isaiah got a job at a local bakery boutique. He was so excited on Friday because he got promoted from making pie boxes to doing dishes. I got a text from him: “My boss let me do dishes!”

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Isaiah and his tower of boxes!

When the boys were four years old, one of their psychologists asked me what my aspirations were for them. I told her that I hoped they’d learn to read and be independent someday. She leaned forward in her seat and said to me, “That’s just pie in the sky thinking and you might as well get that out of your head right now.”

Really?

Pie in the sky is pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

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Here. Share a slice with me!

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Dear autism families, how do you spell spontaneity?

Because I love someone (1)Because I really want to know.

Sometimes I fantasize about running errands and grocery shopping. Freely, that is. I mean, without all the logistical hoop jumping that has to take place before, during and after.

Before: rustling up the courage to ask someone to either go with me on errands or come watch the family so I can go alone. Then once I’ve got a helper in tow, figuring out when, where, and how it’s going to happen. Get everyone dressed appropriately and toileted and pray that no one has a bathroom emergency before you get to the store.

 

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During: finding the patience to deal with the meltdowns in the store and grabbing grabbing hands before they grab another grape or cherry and plop it in their mouth.  Or, fielding the 1.2 thousand text messages you’re getting from the auties and the babysitter while calculating the difference in cost if you buy 10 pounds of cheese versus 1 pound.

 

After: Dealing with the meltdowns because everyone’s tired and stressed from running errands with you. or the stress of being left at home without you. And praying you don’t meltdown yourself. Not that it would do any good or that anyone would notice.

 

Autism parents

On a particularly faith-filled day I might fantasize about going to a movie with my husband or getting away for the weekend. But most days I don’t have the energy for that. (Not the getaway. The thinking about and hoping for it. )

Now, before you think I’m complaining, I’m really not. This is just reality. And it’s so much a part of our lives, that we’ve grown used to it. We don’t stop to think about how we can’t do anything spontaneously until someone says, “want to go to a movie?” or “Want to get away with us for a few days to the Poconos?”

"MP overlook" --Wikimedia Commons

“MP overlook” –Wikimedia Commons

Alright, I admit, we never get asked to go to the Poconos. We live in Indiana. But you get the idea, right?

“Uhm. No. Sorry. Can’t. Can’t leave the boys alone even though they’re 20 years old. Can’t leave Mama alone, either, even though she’s 80 years old (she has Alzheimer’s).”

I know, I know, our life would be so much simpler if we just put them in a home.

But would it, really?

I think it’s just exchanging one stress for another. And besides, what if we warehoused everyone who inconvenienced us?

Seriously, though, the thought has crossed my mind more than once. But the twins are still in high school and it doesn’t seem right to find them “a home” before they graduate. And Mama? Well, she gets a lot more stimulation with us (trust me on this point) than she would in a home. So she’s staying, too.

Jesse and Ellen

My son, Jesse, showing his Grandma his tattoo. It’s his daughter’s name which is also Grandma’s name, too. But she doesn’t realize that. She has her own rocking chair in the church sanctuary. Adorable!

Besides, group homes aren’t exactly a haven. Those hired to work in group homes are paid a pittance. It’s hard to attract quality people to work as a caregiver. No one is going to care as much as family.

Still, family needs a break now and then.  All parents and caregivers need respite. Time to recharge. I wish people could learn to reach out and offer to help, but everyone is so busy. Way too busy. Busy, busy, busy.

I also think people are afraid of kids with autism. They worry they won’t be able to interact with them. I admit, it is a little overwhelming sometimes. But it’s a worthwhile, important endeavor. It’s part of what makes us human.

Caring. Kindness. Love. People with autism need those things.

And so do their parents.

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Pinterest Cooking Sleepover Recipes

The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop!

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop.

Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post.

Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe!

Pinterest Cooking Sleepover Recipes

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It’s been a long cold winter in NE Indiana. The kind of winter that calls for lots of comfort food. (Thank goodness for baggy sweaters!)

Last Friday I invited all the girls at our church, ages K-12 grade, to a Pinterest cooking sleepover. It was a total blast and I can’t wait to share the recipes we tried! I’ve been collecting Pinterest recipes for a long time on my Pinterest board. I will never find enough time to make all of them, but having a cooking sleepover allowed us to make and try six different fattening and  delicious recipes! Some were a hit and others were so-so. All were kid-friendly and fun.

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Before we started our cooking activities, I reminded the girls how God made us with His hands and how special we are to Him. I asked them to remember as we worked with our hands, how God loves what He made just as we love what we make. I reminded them that they are royalty–the daughters of the King of Kings.

Recipe 1:

Pepperoni Roll-ups

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Bing free-use image. I forgot to take pics of our finished products but this is exactly how we served them up!

This was so easy and the kids loved doing it. They were delicious, too.

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I spread parchment paper all along the table and after the girls washed their hands, gave them each two crescent roll doughs, five pepperonis and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Most recipes call for a stick of string cheese, but using grated cheese was less expensive.

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I had the help of three other adults and the older girls pitched in and helped the younger girls. This activity worked for all ages and all abilities. One of our teens has autism and an intellectual disability and she had no trouble participating like everyone else. We all had fun eating the pepperoni and cheese, too, as we worked!

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We used cupcake paper to put the spaghetti sauce in for dipping when we served them. The girls loved them. They were surprisingly filling, too! (Uh, the roll-ups, not the girls!)

Since we have a western theme going on for our Children’s ministry, while the roll-ups were cooking, I read them a cute little book about a little cowboy and a very bossy cowgirl who’s a know-it-all: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door. We talked about how to be a good friend and the difference between being bossy and being a leader. The book also emphasizes forgiveness, so we were able to discuss that as well. (And yes, the teen girls were just as engaged. I find that teens love story books.)

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door

The next thing we made were loaded nachos! I modified a very spicy recipe for little girl palates so it wasn’t so hot. We used Scoops brand Tostitos for the girls to put the filling in themselves. (Adults mixed the filling.)

Recipe 2

Loaded Nachos (for kids)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans refried beans
  • 2 cans whole kernel sweet corn drained (I think you could easily use frozen as long as it’s thawed and drained first)
  • 1 can nacho cheese sauce
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (2 could be used if your kids like spicier foods)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese

Instructions:

Mix together and put in Sccops shells (you could spread this over a pan of chips, too)

Other recipes include beef or chicken, jalapenos and avocados. Any mix like this can be modified to your family’s preferences.

After the shells are filled, sprinkle Mexican mix cheese (Colby and cheddar) over top. Put in oven for a few minutes until cheese is melted on the top. Serve.

NOM! Just typing this makes me hungry!

This recipe made two full cookie sheet pans. The picture above doesn’t do justice to how delicious this was! And all the adults agreed these would make great little hors d’ourves for a party!

Recipe 3

“Gourmet” Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate is like a hug from the-1

Again, I modified a Pinterest recipe. If you do a search on Pinterest for “Crock-pot Hot Cocoa” you’ll find lots of variations. Here’s what I put in our 8 quart crock-pot (this is not diet-friendly by any means but it’s delicious!)

  • 2 bags chocolate chips (you can use any kind, we used bittersweet)
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups heavy whipped cream
  • 12 cups milk (almost a gallon — we used 2%)

Heat in crock-pot on low being careful not to scald it. Stir often as the chips melt. When I served it to the little girls I added cold milk to their cups to cool it off. I served the adults straight up and hot. We didn’t have any marshmallows but I think that would have ruined it, actually. It was so good!

Recipe 4

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

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We had beautiful red, juicy strawberries but my method of making dipping chocolate bombed. I’d read a blog from Pinterest that said you could just melt chocolate chips. Don’t believe it. I knew better because I’ve helped my friend make candy before and she’s super picky about “tempering the chocolate.” But, I thought I’d try it.

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If you’re going to dip chocolate, get a dipping chocolate. That’s my number one recommendation. It really is a science. Bakers has a great dipping chocolate for the microwave that is super easy to use.  I’ve used it in a special education class before and you really can’t ruin it.

Next time I’ll use a chocolate fountain. I’ve successfully used those before without failure.

So what happened? I must have gotten the chocolate chips too hot and they hardened in the bowl. So I added butter and it helped some, but still it wasn’t thin enough for dipping. So I gave each girl a spoonful of chocolate in their own little bowl and plopped their strawberries on them. And, as it often does when you cook a flop, those strawberries and chocolate were the most popular treat of the night!  Everyone begged for more.

Recipe 5

Cherry Pizza

Why not go out on  a limb_ That is where-1

Who doesn’t love cherry pizza? The teen girls made this easy-peasy treat and we served it for breakfast:

Ingredients:

  • Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
  • Can of cherry filling
  • Cream cheese frosting (we made ours from scratch; recipe here)
  • Butter
  • Granola

Instructions:

Roll out the pie crusts (we used two pie crust to make two pizzas) and slather with butter. Bake until browned. Remove from oven and spread 1 can of cherries on each pie crust. Drizzle with cream cheese frosting and granola. Serve.

We didn’t put the frosting and granola on the pizzas until the next morning. (We re-heated the pizzas first.) They disappeared fast! Nothing was left!

Recipe 6

Cheesecake Cake Batter Dip

The girls’ favorites were the strawberries. But my favorite was this dip. I was exhausted by the time we got to this point and it felt so good to settle in with my hot cocoa and this dip with graham crackers. The teen girls mixed this one up themselves. It was sooo good! Instead of serving it dip-like, we frosted graham crackers with it for the little ones. Us older girls dipped to our heart’s content.

I found this recipe on Pinterest but the pin was taken straight IWashYouDry.com (see URL on the picture caption above). There are other variations on this recipe on Pinterest using Funfetti cake mix, so check those out, too. I chose this one because I love the tang of cream cheese and sour cream. Our first batch tasted “funny” and I think it was the vanilla. I think we got a bad bottle. So we threw that batch out and made another without the vanilla and it was scrumptious.

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup white cake mix
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sprinkles
  • Graham Crackers for dipping
Instructions:
  1. Place cream cheese in your mixing bowl and beat on medium high speed for 3 minutes, or until it becomes light and whipped.
  2. Bring speed down to medium and add the sour cream and vanilla, mix until incorporated. Slowly add the powdered sugar and cake mix to the bowl and mix until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then gently fold in the sprinkles.
  3. Serve cold with graham crackers, pretzels, or fresh fruit slices. Enjoy!

I can hear the Mommies of the Year yelling at me about how unhealthy these treats were. This is not something I recommend serving on a regular basis. These were party foods. One night of supreme, delectable indulgence.  And because there were so many of us, there was little chance of over-indulging.

Besides, I’ve promised the girls that at our next sleepover in the summer, we’ll have a pool party and consume copious amounts of fruits and vegetables to make up for it! I see lots of smoothies in my future.

If you have any cute raw fruit and veggie recipes, send them my way!

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Sometimes Mama Bear needs to back off

The Bear Family Stand Up

I’m subbing at the high school this week in a special education classroom. That means that my twin sons who take life skills classes are in my department. This is great fun for them. But today my Mama Grizzly showed a bit when a staff member (not a teacher, a support staff) rudely snapped at one of them, first thing in the morning. No hello. Nothing. Just a bark.

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The reason she snapped at my son was valid. It was how she handled it that wasn’t. He’d left his backpack in front of a locked classroom door, and while waiting for someone to unlock it, he slipped into my room to visit with me.

When the staff member arrived, she flew into my classroom and barked, “Whose stuff is that in the hall in front of Mrs. —‘s door?”

angryandbitter

Isaiah, who is almost always cheerful and sweet, and wouldn’t do anything wrong on purpose to inconvenience someone, jumped up from his chair and headed toward the hall door, “Oh, that’s mine.”

To which she responded with a great scowl and angry voice, “Well then move it, it’s in the way.” (Or some such phrase of which I don’t remember the exact words.) All I know, is that I never talk to students that way, and especially not special needs students.

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It’s all in how you say it. And I realize that teachers and staff have bad mornings. But bad mornings should be left at the schoolhouse door. Being a grouch doesn’t model appropriate behavior to students who need it more than anyone. I dare say that teens with autism need it more than elementary-aged children (although they all do desperately need it).

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I did complain to their teacher about her, but as I was doing so, I felt petty. It’s impossible for me to protect them from all the rude people on earth. Especially now that they are adults. (They are 19 but still in school until they are 21.) Still, as an educator myself, I feel that all students should be treated with respect. Tone of voice speaks volumes.

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As I shared in my post on my philosophy of education, school may be one of the only places some kids have that’s a safe place to fall. If they are to feel valued, school personnel must treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what a child’s label is, they are still deserving of politeness.

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Maybe the snarky  staff member works with hard behavior cases. I don’t know. But I do know that children will act the way you expect them to most of the time. I know this because I’ve worked with some very, very difficult students. No one should ever be valued less because of their limitations or emotional struggles.

i-believe-in-youThis Mama Grizzly is learning which battles to fight. It’s not easy. There will be many more instances, I’m sure, when I won’t know whether to bite my tongue or take up the torch on behalf of my sons. It’s because of their vulnerability and inability to know if an offense is truly something they should be reprimanded for, or an honest, un-meant mistake. A student with autism isn’t always going to process that a book bag in front of the door might be in someone’s way.

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This frustration at the world for not understanding autism is part of what parenting these kids is so difficult. We want people to understand them, and frankly, most people aren’t even going to care. It’s something I’m learning to accept. Even 19 years later.

autismbI think as long as I live, the Mama Grizzly side of me, will always wrestle with the teacher in me, to teach the world how to get it about autism, kindness, and respect. Thankfully, the kind side of me won today, and I didn’t go toe to toe with the staff member. A part of me wishes I hadn’t complained to the teacher.

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Sometimes I feel I should wear a sign that says, “If you think I’m opinionated, you should know how much I want to say and don’t!” There’s so much inside of me that feels like it’s going to blow at times when people are rude to my children or other people with disabilities.

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Only with God’s help am I able to model appropriate behavior when I’m feeling protective. Since my gift is words, it’s also my weakness, and I know I need to temper my opinions with grace.

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Have you ever felt the need to stand up for your children? How did you handle it? What do you think I should have done? Should I have said something or not?

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When autism parents kill–it has to do with hope

autism-1As a parent of twins with autism, I know what it’s like to feel desperate and alone. I know how it feels to have doors close and be left with no one to help carry the load. Professionals go home to their families, most don’t have any idea what it’s like to live with the turmoil. They get to sleep through the night without worrying if their child will harm themselves or wander off.

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Maybe you’re reading this and you have a child with autism. Like me, you probably think you’d never entertain the thought of murdering your child, no matter how desperate your feel. But we have to remember that our experience with autism isn’t another parent’s experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning murder in any way shape or form. I think I’m trying to understand the emotions that drive someone to do such a thing.

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And I do get it. I do. When you are screaming for help and no one comes, you feel backed into a dark corner of no hope. I believe it’s loss of hope that causes parents to kill their disabled children. At least, I think that’s what happened in the case of Dorothy Spourdalakis who murdered her severely autistic son, Alex Spourdalakis, age 14, last year. (You can read the story here.  It’s compelling. Sad. And too often a common story regarding severely autistic children.)

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But in the case of Gigi Jordan, I’m not so sure. In that case it appears it was a selfish act. Or was it? Could it be true that she killed her son in order to protect him from an abusive father? It certainly can’t be true that she couldn’t obtain services for the child. She’s a millionaire. If she couldn’t obtain services, then who can?

Cases like this are just one reason I was prompted to write a book about autism (My book, Autism: Practical Help and Spiritual Hope for Parents, will be available in April 2015). Parents need to know there is definitely hope in this journey. Hope doesn’t make the road easier, but it makes it bearable.

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Autism isn’t who my children are. It’s a name of a disability that causes significant challenges in socialization, speech and behavior. All people with disabilities are precious. planned for and valuable to God. As much as I love my children, I know that God loves them even more, and He has a plan and purpose for their life. I sincerely believe that if we pray and ask God to send us help to cope, and what services to access, He open the doors. At least, that’s what He’s always done for me.

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As I wrote in my book:

“With God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26. I clung to that scripture and believed it the entire time
my twins were growing up and I continue to hold on to it today.  Things I thought they may never do, they’ve done. More than I ever imagined.

God’s Word tells us that we can’t begin to imagine what He  has in store for us (1 Corinthians 2:9). I can testify to this.

I will admit, when I see children suffering, I have a lot of questions for God. This is when I lean on the faith that God knows what He’s doing and He is up to something good, whether we see it right now or not.

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As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), I see children suffer more than I want to. Life is hard and I certainly don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain. I know what it’s like to feel alone and hopeless. This is why it’s important that Christians reach out to hurting families. If they reject our offers of help, then at least we’ve tried. Without the hope of Christ, what hope is there, really?

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All human life is sacred because we are created in the Image of God. Murder is never the answer to the frustrations of parenting a child on the autism spectrum or a child with any kind of disability. Yes, it’s difficult. But it’s do-able. More than that, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. The struggle has been worth the benefits. My sons love me with the purest form of unconditional love I’ve ever known besides Jesus’ love. They are truly God’s gifts to me.

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The following video was prepared for Sanctity of Life Sunday which is in January each year. If you’d like to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves, you can find information here: BeAVoice.net.

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Autism musings: control freaks

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As autism parents, we may find ourselves seeking to control other things around us because we can’t control autism.

I’m guilty of it myself.

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The incident that occurred recently with the young man with autism and the fake ice bucket challenge doesn’t help things.

Sometimes, because of the fear autism brings to our door, and the lack of control we have to change it for our kids, we may find ourselves trying to control other areas of our lives.

fearFor myself, I cope by being a workahaolic. I admit it. I’m happiest when I’m deep into my work as a pastor’s wife, writer, substitute teacher and full-time student (I’m pursuing a special ed. degree.) If I’m busy I don’t have to face the incessant worries of what my twins’ future may hold.

managing fearI need to remember that fear is a liar. Worrying about their future, or whether or not someone will talk them into doing something that will hurt them, is fearing something in my imagination. As a writer, I’m extremely imaginative. You have no idea the things my brain can dream up!  Thankfully, I’m not alone. Thankfully, I can tap into God’s peace when I’m afraid.

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Corrie Ten Boom, holocaust survivor, wrote, “If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes.” Sometimes it seems that some people are given more hardship than others. But I have no doubt that God will equip us for these difficult situations if we ask Him to.

fear-1_thumbBut do we remember to ask? And when we do ask, and He provides us with an answer that isn’t what we think it should be, do we turn that help away? Are we too proud? Too embarrassed?

I’ve had to give up a lot of control in my life in order to get the help I need. I’ve had to let go of being afraid of what people think, for one. The woman who comes into my home every day after school to help me with the twins, sees my house at its worst sometimes. She also attends our church. I have had to give up the fear of her telling someone what she sees.

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“Did you know the pastor and his wife didn’t make their bed today? And there were dirty dishes in the sink? And the kitty littler box was full and she’s always behind on laundry? And they didn’t have supper until 8:00 PM?”

I run that risk because if I want to accomplish the dreams in my heart, I’ve got to be able to let someone help me. It’s scary and uncomfortable. But it’s not as bad as regret. I don’t want to lie on my death bed and regret I didn’t try to pursue the dreams God placed in my heart.

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Psalm 34

I know a woman who has to control every single little thing her in her life and the lives of others around her. When she isn’t able to, she gets extremely upset. She has a big heart, but she has no idea how much pain she is in or how offensive she is to others. There’s something inside of her that feels out of control. Whether it’s pain from her past, a bad memory, or some other fear, something keeps her hand in every pie. I feel sad for her because it’s also not in her nature to accept advice or direction from anyone else. That would mean giving up some control, wouldn’t it?

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If you struggle with control, I encourage you to give up one thing this week that you obsess on and have a difficult time letting go of. Maybe it’s how the dishwasher is loaded or how laundry is done. Maybe it’s a pet peeve. Letting go and letting God is liberating and freeing. Jesus came to make us free. Give Him what it is His in the first place and give peace a chance.

What will I give up this week? I’m going to give up an extra hour of study time and work very hard to be in the moment with my family.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Share with me below what it is you will let go of. I’d love to celebrate with you!

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Strong girls aren’t mean girls II

Stronggirlslogo2Yesterday I wrote an article for my column about a group of teens who poured bodily fluids on an autistic classmate by tricking him into thinking they were doing the ALS ice bucket challenge. They poured the vile fluid on him from the roof of his garage while recording and posting it to Instagram.

autism-1I can’t watch the video without crying. As a Mom with teen boys with autism, I can’t imagine someone doing that to my sons. I have to wonder — where was the voice of reason in this group of kids? Did no one stop to think about how it would make their autistic peer feel?

 

If just one of them had stopped or refused to participate–would it have given the others a chance to slow down and think about the consequences of their actions?

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Strong girls aren’t mean girls. Strong girls stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. They are strong enough and have the courage enough to go against the flow, to be different, to say no when their heart is telling them something is wrong.

Rubber Duck Against The Flow

God’s Word reminds us of the Lord’s call to care for the defenseless. In Leviticus chapter 19, God instructs those with fields and vineyards to leave a portion of the harvest for the poor. There are many scriptures in the Bible that instruct us to help those in need: Leviticus 25:35, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Isaiah 58:6-7, Psalms 41:1-3, Proverbs 11:25, 19:17, 22:9, Matthew 5:42, 6:1-4, 19:21, 25:31-46, Luke 6:38, 11:41, 12:33-34, Acts 20:35, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 12:27-31, 13:1-13, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Galatians 2:10, Ephesians 4:7-12, 1 Timothy 5:16, 6:17-19, Hebrews 13:3, 13:16, James 1:27, 2:2-9, 2:15-16, 1 John 3:17-18.

Psalm 82:3 reminds us to: “Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

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A Strong Girl who is attentive to God’s voice won’t go along with the crowd. She’ll listen for that still small voice above the boisterous noise and giggles of a group of bullies. This power and strength isn’t because the girl is exceptionally strong, but because she has tapped into THE STRENGTH that the Holy Spirit provides.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote about a third of the New Testament, reminded his friends in Corinth of this supernatural strength when he wrote in his letter to them:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” 1 Corinthians 2:1-4.

Paul was a bold guy, but even he was afraid at times. He knew that his preaching was only powerful because of God’s power. If you’re scared to stand up, be yourself, go against the flow–ask God for boldness. I guarantee He will give it to you.

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When I am in a conversation that I feel isn’t right, I pray quietly to myself and listen for God’s voice. “Give me the right words, Lord. I don’t know what to say.” I pray this if I’m being bullied, too. (Yes, grown ups are bullied, too!) God has never failed to help me in those uncomfortable situations.

Teenage girl being bullied

Then there are times when I’m with friends and I get that icky feeling inside that what we’re talking about isn’t pleasing to God. If you’re in a situation and you feel that ickiness? It could be the Holy Spirit pricking your heart, warning you to stop before it goes too far.

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Sometimes when people, young and old, are in a crowd, they get caught up in the excitement and rowdiness of those around them. This is called mob mentality. But God has called us to go against the mob. He’s given us the power through His Holy Spirit to do so. All we have to do is listen for His voice and obey.

In summary:

  • Strong Girls aren’t mean girls.
  • Strong Girls go against the flow.
  • Strong Girls defend the defenseless.
  • Strong Girls listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice and obey it.

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Let’s hear it for special education teachers!

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Breakfast!

I’m subbing for a special education teacher this week. She’s a first year teacher and do you know what my first clue was?

The only break she has all day is 30 minutes for lunch.

So the next time someone tells me that teachers only work 6 hours a day and that they are overpaid, I want you to walk in this woman’s shoes. She is on the run from the time that first bell rings. If she’s not teaching she’s running from one class to another all over this building.

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Special education teachers are often overworked. Their hearts are big and they put the needs of kids first. Today several children have arrived hungry. One of my students is eating crackers and milk in my room right now. It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach.

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A few of the children aren’t bathed. Their hair isn’t combed. It’s heartbreaking. There has been no nurturing for these sweet kids. They live hard lives.

I love filling in for this teacher for three days but I’m worried that she’s not getting enough time to recharge. Special Ed teachers want to fix things. But we can only do so much. That frustration alone is weighty.

Battery Recharger 1Do you think public school teachers have it too easy? Have you thanked your child’s teacher today?

If you’re a homeschool mom reading this, give yourself some encouragement and take some time to be refreshed. When I was homeschooling my kids, I took one hour each day to myself. I relished that hour. I trained my children to sit on their beds and read if they didn’t want to nap. They were not to disturb me unless it was blood or fire. I’d love to have that hour today!

Even Jesus took time to himself. And last time I checked, none of us are perfect like He is. If He needed it, we do, too.

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Love,

Karla

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Back to school

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I’m waxing nostalgic about the twins going back to school on Tuesday.

I resent that classes start so early in the summer. Seems to me they should take less days off during the year for teacher in-services. Why can’t they do those before the school year begins? Why cut a kid’s summer short?

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One of the reasons this is an “ugh” for me, is that I’ve finally gotten the twins into a good routine this summer. And now, we have to learn a new one.

It’s not that easy with kids with autism. Change in routine is very difficult for them and for their whole family. So now, instead of chores in the mornings, they’ll have chores and homework in the hours after school, and it’s super difficult getting them to cooperate because they’ve held it together all day at school. There’s just nothing left for them to give when they get home.

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But laundry still has to be done, and messes cleaned up and toilets scrubbed. Then there’s the hygiene. Basic stuff for regular folks. I know at the end of the day the idea of doing dishes is a struggle for me. And it’s so much more difficult for the boys.

technology-infused-classroom-cartoonWhile you’re reading this, we’re most likely at the local super center finishing up our school supply shopping. And getting new shoes. Tomorrow, the boys go to their first day back to school. And I’m sad. I enjoy having them here. I enjoy the lazy summer days and watching them help their Dad in the yard. It feels like school steals all that away.

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Which is why I enjoyed homeschooling my kids so much. I loved having them around. I loved the freedom of being able to jump in the van and go to a museum or library or the forest. But I know that the twins are attending classes they truly need now to be well-equipped to be more independent.

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It’s not about me. It’s about them and their future. And I’m just whining.

I’ll get over it. I always do. We’ll hit our stride somehow and find a new way to cope with new routines.

Peanuts_TeachersHow about you? Do you have circumstances in your life that force you to change up your routine? How do you deal with it? Let me know!

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