Giving Thanks – Today and Everyday

So it’s been about two months since I last posted. I didn’t intend to actually let it go this long between posts, but sometimes life just gets away from me. Those with kids and families and jobs will understand. Life gets chaotic and we often get caught up in the day to day of it all and don’t often take the time to do everything we want to do.

Not much has changed in the last two months. We did get an appointment at Children’s Mercy hospital for Wyatt that will be in January. The appointment will last 3 hours and it will tell us exactly where on the spectrum Wyatt is. It’s a step in the process, but really I don’t feel like it’s going to tell us very much that we don’t already know. Still progress is progress and that is always good. Kenzie on the other hand continues to excel at everything she does. She’s got quite a few words already and will no doubt soon be putting them together to make short sentences. While Wyatt tends to lag behind, she soars forward.

So that’s the updates on the kids, now on to the real reason for my post. Last Sunday I was able to make it to church. Hurrah! In our sacrament meeting (that’s the first hour where we renew our covenants) we sang a song that really just stuck with me. I had sang it many times before, but it had never really jumped out at me until Sunday. The hymn is call Count Your Blessings. So that part that really got me was these lines: “Count your blessings; Name them one by one.”. It got me thinking about what blessings I had in my life. I know that I am blessed and when asked I can usually come up with one or two blessings in my life.

This time of year though that just doesn’t seem to be enough. This time of year where we spend time with our families and our friends and give thanks for all that we have it didn’t seem like enough to just come up with one or two blessings as if they were just a simple stock answer. So I started to think about my blessings, I started listing them out in my head – naming them – as I thought about writing this post. My blessings are numerous, endless really and naming them only makes it so much more apparent how much I have to be thankful for.

It might seem simple or silly even to list out blessings, but for someone like me who struggles with so much on a daily basis I’ve found that if I make even a short list in my head about the blessings I have – or try to find a blessing that I was given that day it helps me feel connected to my God.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I will list out a handful of my blessings and I will challenge each and every one of you to come up with a list yourself. Obviously I can’t make you, but just spend a few minutes thinking about why you’re truly thankful this year. Don’t just do it today though – today it is easy to give thanks, to come up with your reasons and your blessings – keep doing it each and every day. As you go to work or school or you stay at home with your kids, name your blessings. Name them one by one and even try to find what you have to be thankful for that day. As I’ve learned with Wyatt, naming the thing gives it so much more power. If something is already a blessing in our life that is powerful all in itself, but it we were to give it a name, if we were to call attention to it each and everyday just think how powerful it could become.

Warning some of these will no doubt feel very common, but as I said – naming them gives them more power.

  1. I am in generally good health
  2. I am married to my best friend
  3. I have two beautiful, unique and healthy children
  4. I have a job that I love to do that is capable of supporting my family
  5. I have a warm apartment to live in
  6. I have food in my fridge and pantry
  7. I had enough money to go see a movie with my husband for the first time in months
  8. My son now calls me “mom”
  9. My daughter doesn’t have OCA and as far as we can tell is not delayed in any aspect of her development
  10. I have a few wonderful friends that feel more like family than mere friends
  11. I have managed to pay off about half of the debt that I’m in
  12. My son can now put three to four words together in one sentence

These are simply only a few of my many blessings, I am so thankful for the blessings in my life, I am so thankful for everything that I have been given and I hope each and every one of you that reads this had a very happy Thanksgiving.

Losing My Religion

Alright so my last post was a pretty long one about the journey we’ve been on with my son and trying to get a diagnosis for him. As of September 14th we have the official diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). It’s official he’s autistic and now we have an even longer journey ahead of us to not only get him fully evaluated so that he can be ranked on the spectrum (to determine just how severe his autism is in each area), but to also get him the therapy that he needs that he isn’t already receiving. The therapy that was recommended to us was ABA therapy. This stands for Applied Behavior Analysis and what it boils down to is behavior therapy that is geared towards reducing unwanted behaviors (such as tantrums) and increasing desired behaviors (like eating dinner or heck being potty trained). A lot of the ideas behind this train of therapy stem from classic conditioning and a whole host of other things that gave me flashbacks to my Psych 101 class from college.

So this is great right? We have the diagnosis. We’re even on the waiting list to get the extensive evaluation (it will be a few months though before we get an appointment). AND we’ve sent in the application to the state’s Regional office to enlist their help with getting ABA setup (and paid for). We’re doing all the right things. We’re moving in the right direction at least. We have all of these things to do and read and learn. It’s all great. Except none of this makes days like today any better. Days like today make it hard to see the good. Days like today make it hard to see past this bad spot, to see beyond to what could one day be. Tonight we made spaghetti for dinner. Now most of you will ask: what’s the big deal? Spaghetti is great, it’s an all around favorite and despite the mess is pretty kid friendly. Yes, well not in my household. Tonight we made the spaghetti with panini noodles instead of the typical spaghetti noodles. We did this because they’re so much easier for our daughter (who’s 18 months) to eat. Well Wyatt doesn’t like panini noodles (apparently) and so he refused to even touch his plate let alone try a single bite of his food. He spent the entirety of dinner crying in his chair while the rest of us ate. Afterwards he subsequently went to bed without having eaten anything.

The thing that no one seems to get is that this is an every day thing for us. Every day we struggle to get him to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day we deal with fits and meltdowns over food that he has even asked for. It is exhausting, it is frustrating and it is heartbreaking.

You might be wondering what this has to do with religion (if not, well you’re going to find out anyways). Over the last two and a half years as we’ve been dealing with everything it has been hard to stay connected to my religion. It’s been hard to make it to church (impossible at times). It’s been a daily struggle to even pray. Reflecting on the last few years I find it rather ironic that early on I had a friend who envied my faith and my resolve to endure to the end. The thing is, it’s not easy. It’s easy to have faith without being tried. It’s easy to have faith when you’re not being tested. It’s easy to have faith when you’re not struggling every single minute of every day just to make it through.

It is not easy to keep faith when you feel beaten down. It is not easy to keep faith when every moment is a struggle. It is not easy to keep faith when you can’t even see that ray of hope, that light at the end of the tunnel. When you go weeks and months and years struggling for something better only to be denied at every turn, to watch time and time again that better thing slip through your grasp it is near impossible to not lose your faith. You start to question what you believe. If my God loves me why does he let me struggle so? If my God loves me then why does he continue to deny me the things that would help me?

It is easy to blame your circumstances on God. It is easy to even convince yourself that there is no God because your circumstances are so bad. The thing that I’ve come to learn though is that this isn’t how God works. He will bless us, he will guide us and he will help us. However for us to get these things from him we must first put forth our own effort. We must first do everything that we should be doing. We need to try every single day to be the best version of ourselves. We need to try every single day to do what we can to be like Christ. We need to be kind and patient and understanding and giving and caring. We need to pray and study the scriptures we need to not only ask for God’s help, but show him that we are doing everything we can in order to help ourselves.

God gave us this life to live, he’s ensured that we have the freewill to make decision for ourselves, to learn and grow and become our own person. It is our actions or lack of actions that bring about our own circumstances not something God has or hasn’t done. We have grown into adults and we are responsible for each and every one of our actions. We are responsible for our circumstances. Even more so we are responsible for how we choose to look at our circumstances. My life is hard, there is true struggle in my life and I can either feel defeated by that or I can look at all that I have in my life that is good. Anyone can focus on the bad things in life, all of the things that make it hard to make it through the day. Not everyone can look at the good things, the small things that add up to so much more than all of the bad.

Through all of this I have learned that I need to keep my focus on the good things, the small blessing that I see in my life each and every day. It doesn’t mean that having faith will be any easier. It doesn’t mean my life will be any less hard. It sure doesn’t mean that Wyatt won’t throw the exact same fit tomorrow at breakfast, lunch, and dinner that he did today. It does mean though that I will cling to my faith, I will continue to strive each and every day to be the best version of myself and do all of the things that I need to do and in that I know that God will continue to watch over me and my family and bless us.

Why can’t you just tell me what’s wrong?

Sorry this is a day late – had a friend get into town yesterday afternoon and was busy visiting with her and wasn’t able to finish this until today.

Alright so this story starts back in September of 2016.

For those who don’t know me well and who don’t know my son Wyatt well we’ve always struggled with keeping him up with his peers and we’ve always struggled with tantrums and behavior issues. Now before you start saying that he’s only 3 (going on 4) and toddlers have tantrums and they all develop at different rates, thank you for this very helpful and meaningful advice. However when your kid will drop to the ground outside or in the store and immediately try to slam his head into the concrete/tiled floor I think it goes beyond the fact that toddlers have tantrums. I’m not even exaggerating these instances, we’ve had on numerous occasions had to snatch Wyatt off the ground before he could bash his head into the hard surface and cause great harm to himself.

Now for those who would suggest that we try the “cry it out” method of parenting: I will tell you that I am a huge supporter of this method. My daughter does on many occasions throughout the week cry it out when she’s gotten overtired and doesn’t actually want to go to sleep. However this approach is useless against Wyatt. We have done what we can to the point of letting him throw his tantrum (head banging and all) in his room and on several occasions he went strong for over four hours and still showed no signs of letting up.

So as we tried to deal with this the best we could – mostly with lots of stress and frustration on everyone’s part – Wyatt had his 3 year well check with his Primary Care Physician. We love his doctor, she is truly awesome, but she is however not an expert in all things. So knowing that there was clearly something going (something more than normal toddler behaviors) she started the process of getting us to a specialist. The first person we were sent to was a Developmental-Behavioral pediatrician that was about 30-45 minutes from us. So really not horribly far to go to get answers. Only problem was that there wasn’t an opening until April. So between the months of September and April we could do nothing except exist as we had for the last few months with no answers and no good way to actually handle Wyatt or is tantrums. We had hope though, we had an appointment and that appointment would give us answers.

When April finally did roll around – at which point Wyatt had improved slightly at least in the realm of banging his head against things – we were more than ready for his appointment. An hour and a half long appointment and dozens of questions and detailing out Wyatt’s life the doctor – the specialist – said rather definitively that Wyatt did not have Autism and that while she couldn’t diagnosis him with ADHD because of his age that he would get that diagnosis in a year or two if his symptoms didn’t regulate per his age. In the meantime it was recommended that we take Wyatt to therapy. This could help in the interim to address his behavior issues.

So we had a direction to go. We had a tentative diagnosis. The problem was that actually getting him in to see a therapist was much easier said than done. Most places had waiting lists that were years out. Something that I found more than frustrating. How can there be such a lack of qualified people to help children who need therapy? Especially in the cases where the situation might be time sensitive? At the time we were under the belief that given time and therapy Wyatt would grow out of his behaviors. If that was truly the case then what was the point of being on a waiting list for a year or more? It was not going to help us in any way because there was a possibility that at the end of the waiting list (when it was finally our turn to get an appointment) his behaviors would be resolved. If they weren’t then we would’ve spent a year in stress and frustration trying our best to manage without any help or direction. I can’t imagine what that would be like. How is it okay to allow this to continue? How is it okay as a society to leave parents and children waiting living a life that isn’t good for any involved? There has got to be a better way to get those who need this type of support the help they need when they actually need it.

Well back to my story. We did manage to get Wyatt into therapy back in June. Any guesses on how this started? You guessed it! With us detailing out Wyatt’s life, with explaining every aspect of his life and our lives together. We had to go over his routine, things he doesn’t like, things he does like, things that trigger his tantrums, things he does, things he doesn’t do, areas in which he is delayed, areas in which he excels. At the end of the first hour long appointment – in which we didn’t even finish all of the intake process – the therapist brought up the possibility that Wyatt might need further testing by Children’s Mercy’s Neuro-Developmental department.

Okay, fine, I called up Children’s and asked about getting an appointment, at which point the person on the phone asked me what for. Apparently him needing tested for neuro-developmental delays is actually too broad a category and they needed a more specific area to test, such as Autism (or more specifically Autism Spectrum Disorder). So I had to call the therapist back to get more clarification on what she actually wanted him tested for. Can I just say how stupid it is that so much responsibility is placed on the parent to get these appointments right? We are responsible to not only fully understand and comprehend what the doctor is telling us (generally in not so simple terms) is wrong with our child and then relay that information accurately and effectively to another person who may or may not have medical knowledge so that they can in turn make a decision that will then impact the future of your child.

Alright, stupidness of appointment scheduling aside we did figure out that, yes, we in fact did want Wyatt tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now to get such an appointment through Children’s requires us to gather and fill out information which we then have to mail back to them so they can evaluate it. Once that is reviewed they will determine if you qualify for an appointment. At this stage they will send you EVEN more paperwork to fill out which has to be finished and sent back in before the child is placed on the waiting list for an appointment. The waiting list itself can take up to several months for the child to reach the top of the list and get an appointment.

Now we made our current therapist aware of this process and the length of time it would take to get in for an appointment so to potentially help offset all of this filling out and waiting around she also recommended us having him evaluated by the psychologist in the office to see if he thought Autism Spectrum Disorder was an appropriate diagnosis. This appointment actually only took a little over a month of waiting. We scheduled it in June and the appointment was at the beginning of August. Once more we were hopeful that we would get answers, that we would be able to get the right help for Wyatt that would help us help him.

Going in we were told that the appointment would take at least an hour and a half. It took almost exactly an hour and a half. Any guesses on what we did for that hour and a half? That’s right! For the third time in almost as many months we detailed out Wyatt’s life. Everything we talked about in the first two sessions with his therapist we talked about again with this new doctor. When there was about half an hour left to this appointment the doctor’s supervisor (probably not the correct term) and was given an overview of what was talked about in the first hour of the appointment. At which point the two doctors stepped out to confer about everything that was discussed and how they wanted to proceed. When they returned we were told that Wyatt has a “Unspecified Neurological Disorder”. What exactly does this mean?

Well it means that after almost a year of waiting and bouncing around different appointments – with more waiting to be done in the next several months or more – they agree that there is something wrong with Wyatt. They can’t say what is wrong with him because even after everything they don’t have enough information to give a definitive diagnosis, but they will continue to see him and gather information in order to be able to make the diagnosis that actually stands between us and getting him the correct therapy. The therapy they think Wyatt could actually benefit from is actually really hard to get the insurance companies to agree with meaning that he will first need to be given a diagnosis with all the correct documentation and data in order for the insurance company to agree to pay for it.

This is another thing that baffles me, diagnosis aside, how can the treatment that is going to help my son be denied because he doesn’t have the right diagnosis? If the doctors all agree that this is what will help him and this is what will get him to the end point where he’ll be able to socialize with others and excel at school then how can it not be approved? How can it not be accepted? How can they tell me that I can’t pursue that course of treatment for my son simply because he doesn’t have a certain diagnosis?

There is something fundamentally broken with our society if this is the common experience parents have to go through in order to find not only the right diagnosis for the child, but also the right treatment. It should not take almost a year to get your child into treatment, the treatment should not be denied simply because the doctors can’t make a definitive diagnosis based on an hour to an hour and a half appointment.

So this post was definitely more on the ranting side of things with a decent amount of complaining, but I did want to share what we’ve been going through in this last year. I wanted to get it all out because it has been one of the most stressful and frustrating experiences I’ve ever had to go through and my sympathies go out to any parents going through the same struggles as me. I feel your pain and all I can say is we’ve got to keep hanging in there. We just have to keep going and doing until we get to the right doctor who is going to make the right diagnosis and get our kids the right treatment. That’s our burdens as parents, to do everything we can to help our children be the best they can be.

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone has a great week!

It should’ve been…

So this is another video post. I plan on posting a longer post around motherhood and the challenges I’ve been facing in that department probably Saturday.

In the meantime I wanted to share this song with everyone. Every time I hear this song I stop to think about the words of it. For those of us that have faith, who go to church, who do everything that their religion says they should do have you ever stopped and thought beyond what you were doing? You’re being faithful it’s true, you’re praying every day, you’re going to church every week, you’re reading scriptures, you’re paying your tithing, you’re paying your fast offerings. You’re doing everything you know you’re supposed to be doing (and if you’re not, well maybe you’re trying – I’m trying, every day I try and every day I do as much as I can and I leave the rest up to God and his mercy), yet is it really enough?

Is it enough to do all of those things? To have them be habit, to have them so engrained in us that we don’t even have to think about them anymore? Or should we be striving for more? Should we be striving for greater? What is the true meaning behind those actions if they are simply habit? What is the true power behind our prayer if we don’t put any true thought into it? Can we do better? Can we be better? Can we make these things a part of our life, can we keep them sacred and holy, but at the same time strive to remind ourselves daily – hourly, minutely – that all that we have been given, all that we can achieve is because of His sacrifice.

He sacrificed himself for us, so that we could be redeemed of our sins. He took our place, he endured our sins and gave us the ultimate gift: the chance at redemption, the chance at being cleansed of our sins so that we might return to Heaven and live with our families for all eternity.

I think it would be a most cruel injustice to Him and His sacrifice for us if we let our responsibilities become habitual. I believe in the value of praying daily, in studying scriptures, of paying tithing, of going to church, of everything else we do in accordance to the gospel (even when I fail to do these things, but I am woefully human and filled with faults and misgivings that I strive every day to make up for and improve upon), but it’s not enough to simply go through the motions. We cannot let ourselves slip into daily habits. We have to stay vigilant and excited about our faith. We need to stay interested in our studies of the scriptures, always searching for new meaning or new understanding in passages we’ve read before. We have to find those moments throughout the day that we can feel The Spirit with us and when we feel it we need to take that moment to revel in it, to say a small prayer in that moment.

There are so many people that I know who pray at church or at specific times in the day (typically morning and night) and they convince themselves that that is enough. They pray when they believe they are supposed to, but I would challenge that and say there is no schedule on which to pray. God is everywhere and in everything we do and so there is no better opportunity to pray than throughout the day; maybe when we need him the most, or simply because we’ve seen a blessing he has given us and we want to give thanks.

I know so many people who have read The Bible and The Book of Mormon and that is a great and mighty thing, but there are others I know who have not only read them both numerous times, but who continue to read them. They read and study and they learn something new every single time. I want to strive for that: I want to strive to be the person who doesn’t just read the scriptures, but to be the person who is continuously looking for meaning and understanding, seeking it out from others who might have read it and understood it differently because then their testimony becomes part of your testimony and vice versa. It is an amazing thing to strengthen one another and form those bonds.

So this ended up being a bit longer than I expected it to be and maybe a bit more preachy than I intended. Do not get me wrong: I do not mean to offend anyone, I am not judging anyone or how they are living their life or practicing their faith. I am simply challenging my own in the hopes of bettering myself each and every day.

Thanks, as I always I hope you enjoyed my thoughts!

Thankful for the chaos

Alright, so not a requirement to listen to the song, but it is what my post is about today. This is actually one of my favorite songs by Scotty McCreery. Also this will probably be a shorter post, mostly me reflecting on the song and what it makes me think about every time I hear it.

Have you ever stopped and thought about your life? Have you thought about your day to day and how even if it’s total chaos there are so many blessings to be thankful? What exactly are you thankful in your life? Are you only thankful for the good things? What about that every day chaos? You might think me crazy but I am so thankful for every aspect of my life.

Now that’s not to say that it’s easy. I struggle, most days it’s hard to see any good at all because we are literally drowning in the chaos and worrying about the future. I mean there is just so much: the debt, Wyatt’s therapy and trying to figure out what’s actually wrong with him, worrying about my job and if I’m doing enough. When there’s only one income there’s a lot of pressure to do everything you can to make sure your family is provided for, there are a lot of worries that plague me every day around money: will we be able to afford food for the month, will we be able to afford diapers and wipes for both kids, what about gas for the car to get to Wyatt’s therapy appointments and then to work after, what about the rent payment, what about the car payment? It is so easy to only look at the negative things, to only think about the what ifs.

This song helps me to remember that even those things that make it so hard to get through the day are things I should be thankful for because they are blessings, they are everyday reminders of how much we do have. So just like the song says I am thankful for all of the laundry I have to do, I’m thankful for the sink full of dishes, I’m thankful for my screaming kids and the messes they make. I’m thankful because it means my kids have clothes, and we have food and despite it all our kids are just like every other kid with their tantrums and their messes.

So just take a moment and think about your life. What are you most thankful for in your life? Is it all the nice things you might have or is it all the things you think of as burdensome or as chores and work? Is it those things that give proof to the love in your home? To the great family that you have? Mine are.

See, shortest post yet 🙂

As always thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!