Interview With My Son Sam – ADD, Aspergers and Surviving School

I’m excited that you popped by today! We have such a treat for you. I promise, you will love it!

May I ask a favor before you listen to the interview?

One of the reasons I did this post is because you asked for it. Several of you wanted to know what it’s like living with or parenting someone with learning differences. I listened and, here it is. So, this is what I want from you. If you could take a few minutes (I promise, it won’t take long) and answer the survey question here, it will help me provide you with content that is informative, encouraging and relevant.

Thanks!

our podcast about Aspergers and ADD with Sam

My son Sam and I sat down earlier this week and recorded a conversation. We talked about ADHD, Super Smash Brothers, Aspergers, teachers, school and some of the challenges of life on The Spectrum.

Do you deal with learning differences?

Are you a teacher or parent struggling to understand your kid’s unique needs? Are you my parents, who never miss a single post?! If you answered yes to any of these questions or you’re just curious to listen in on a conversation between a mom and her 18-year-old son, you will love this podcast.

This conversation is not meant to be a step-by-step guide to living with ADHD. It is absolutely NOT a parenting how-to! We have done some things right and a whole lot of things wrong in that area. I just want to help you understand life from a different point-of-view.

The interview is almost an hour. I promise, you won’t want to miss a minute. There’s a lot of laughter and loads of great information. So, grab a cup of coffee and sit a while (Happy National Coffee Day!), or tune in while you’re washing the dishes or commuting to work.

After you’ve listened to our conversation, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to share comments, questions or suggestions for other topics you would like Sam and I to discuss. You can enter your comments below, or on my Facebook page. Thanks again!

 

 

Becoming American Citizens

Today, Steve and I finally did it! We became American citizens.

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve lived in this country for 40 years. Now I’m wondering why we waited so long.

The ceremony today was incredible – simply breathtaking. Under the backdrop of an enormous American flag, the LA Convention Center hall was filled with thousands of people of every color and race, from 140 countries in the world. There were over 4,000 of us in total.

We chatted with the people around us, from El Salvador, Ireland, Germany and Mexico. Everyone of us excited and eager to pledge allegiance to our adopted homeland.

The judge got up and gave a beautiful speech, extolling the virtues of America but also reminding us of the responsibilities we hold as citizens.

American flag, Star Spangled Banner

With hands over our hearts, we pledged our loyalty to our new country, together as one. We arrived as citizens of 140 countries and left as citizens of one.

A children’s choir sang, they played America the Beautiful and we joined together to sing The Star Spangled Banner. Let me tell you, there was hardly a dry eye in the place.

You may think it’s a weird time to become a citizen.

Some people have asked us, why now? After all, we’ve been citizens of Canada all of our lives. Why on earth would we want to become American citizens now? At this time? In this election year?

All I can say is, I feel like I’ve been cheating on America, keeping Canada on the side like a go-to boyfriend in case things don’t work out. I realized I can’t do that anymore and finally decided to make the commitment.

I’ve lived in this country for 40 years. We work and pay our taxes here. We have three children that were born here – our ‘anchor kids’. We even have two American-born grandkids.

Steve and I were in Canada this past summer on vacation and it was wonderful to be there and spend time with friends and family. We both have an abundance of fond memories from our childhoods there. But one thing became clearer than ever. Canada is no longer home. Our hearts and our loyalties belong here.

And so, we’ve taken the plunge, we’ve pledged our allegiance, we’ve signed on the dotted line. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. We’re here.

Steve and Karen at citizenship ceremony

This is our home. This is our country. This is where we belong.

Life With Pain – What I Found

Here’s what I found. Pain is a gift.

It took years to believe this and there are times I still choke on the words, but deep down, I know it’s true. Pain seems like the kind of gift no sane person would desire, but it is a gift nonetheless.

Several weeks ago I wrote a heartfelt and painful post – Life With Pain – What I Lost. It is a lamentation – mourning the things I lost through years of pain. If you haven’t read it yet, go back and take a look, because it’s where this story begins.

That wasn’t an easy post to write but it came from such a raw place that the words poured out of me. This post has proven to be even harder to write. I struggled with these words for weeks. I wrote and rewrote this post but I’m still unable to express how profoundly pain changed me for the good.

If pain is anything at all, it’s complex. I don’t want to sound trite or give you the impression that the things I found came quickly or easily. They did not. So here is my humble attempt – a celebration of the lessons I learned and the beauty I found in pain.

I found trust.

As a mother, my deepest desire was to keep my children safe, provide for their needs, and let them know they were loved. Seizures and pain robbed me of that ability for years and many precious childhood moments are lost to me. But recently, as we began unpacking the pain of those years together, we looked back as a family and recalled an endless catalog of ordinary days, hilarious mishaps, sweet family times and more. Every photograph and memory is a treasure to be mined over and over again.

Sometimes, in our desire to protect our children from all pain and discomfort, we don’t allow them to experience growth essential to character development. I see now that the trials and difficulties we survived as a family drew us closer to each other and challenged my kids to discover God for themselves.

My children can’t live their faith on the coattails of their parents or grandparents. In order for it to be real, their faith must be their own. I need to trust God enough with my children to allow them to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling”.

God is developing their faith and their character. I trust Him with that.

I found the Source of strength.

Before the years of pain and illness, I looked strong. A young, healthy, type-A woman, I was organized, disciplined and appeared to be in control of my life. But much of my confidence was bluff and bravado, masking a deep uncertainty about my place in life and my relationship with God.

Pain strips everything down to the core. It removes all the skin and fat and leaves the bare bones of the matter.

In the stripping away, my bravado was removed. My confidence was shaken. I questioned everything I was taught. Everything I believed. But when I hit rock bottom, I found a foundation. I found a sweeter, truer, deeper faith than anything I knew before, and I found that I can’t do it on my strength alone.

I can’t manufacture a feeling of wholeness out of emptiness. I can’t coax ‘good feelings’ out of depression but I can tap into God’s power, knowing that it is in surrender to His perfect will that I find the strength to carry on, in spite of the pain.

 

"The cross was Jesus’ voluntary acceptance of undeserved pain as an act of total solidarity with all of the pain of the world. Reflection on this mystery of love can change your whole life.” Richard Rohr

I found a connection with Christ’s suffering.

The cross was Jesus’ voluntary acceptance of undeserved pain as an act of total solidarity with all of the pain of the world. Reflection on this mystery of love can change your whole life.” Richard Rohr

There aren’t words to describe how Christ’s suffering somehow makes sense of my own. But it’s true. It does. I can’t explain this. It’s a holy mystery.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (Is. 53:4)

I found a purpose for the pain.

Pain serves a purpose. It is essential for growth. It clarifies what’s important and leaves us either crushed or strengthened. There was a time I thought it crushed me – a time when I saw no purpose to the pain, no mercy in God’s will and no end in sight. But today I see the work that God is doing in my life and I am thankful for it.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NKJV

I found a community of the wounded.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well. “Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above the master. Following Christ means passio passiva, suffering because we have to suffer.”  (The Cost of Discipleship)

This is one of the sweetest things I found. Pain opened my eyes to the suffering of others and initiated me into a special tribe – the tribe of the walking wounded.

It has given me a deep empathy for others and brought connection and community with those who, like me, are walking through their pain, struggling with their faith and trying to make sense of it all.

I could go on and tell you about the peace I found, about the clarity I now have and perhaps, another time, I will. I’m still unwrapping the gifts that I received through the darkest times of my life.

Pain may be the gift I never wanted but it is one of the dearest I’ve ever received.

How To Mend What’s Broken When You Don’t Have All The Pieces

Back in the ‘olden days’ when Steve and I got married, it was traditional for brides to choose a fine china pattern. This china was used for special occasions and stored carefully in a cabinet – safe behind closed doors.

Everyday dishes were second hand or a cheap set of stoneware purchased at the local Sears. Like a dutiful young bride, I chose a beautiful Minton pattern. My aunts bought me a handful of place settings and I promptly stacked them in my china cabinet where they languished unused for years.

About a year ago I realized the china was just taking up space. I decided to ‘use it or lose it’. We took out the pretty Minton wedding china and a few antique pieces of Limoges, stacked them together on the kitchen shelf willy-nilly and started using them.

At first, family and friends objected and asked if I had ‘regular’ plates they could use instead. I reassured them that that these were my regular plates and it was okay if a piece broke. Before long, one of the beautiful pieces of wedding china fell to the ground and shattered into pieces. It was beyond mending.

When something breaks, it is forever altered.

When a leg is broken, it may mend and become even stronger than before but it’s never the same. Five, fifteen or even fifty years later, an x-ray will show evidence of the break. That bone is permanently marked.

When a heart is broken, it may mend and become even stronger than before but it’s never the same. It is forever altered, leaving a scar, a memory, a mark.

But what if your heart is so deeply broken that you fear some of the pieces are lost? What if you struggle to rebuild a marriage, like we did, searching for ways to fill the gaps but you come up empty-handed? 

Maybe we aren’t meant to have all the pieces. Perhaps there’s a way to fill those gaps and not only make our hearts whole again, but make them more beautiful than before.

 

mended kintusugi bowl

 

This is a piece of kintsugi. It is created through the Japanese art of repairing ceramics with precious metals, demonstrating that broken things can be made whole. This process of piecing something back together makes an object more beautiful than it was to begin with.

This week, Steve and I celebrate 35 years of marriage. It is miraculous that we’ve made it this far – that we’ve beaten the odds and are still together. It’s miraculous because we are broken people. We inflicted damage, to each other and to our marriage. Through our selfishness and sin, we were broken and left without the pieces needed for repair.

But something beautiful happened. We gathered up those broken pieces, surrendered them to the Artist and in the care of His hands, gaps were filled and brokenness was mended.

 

mended broken bowl with kintusugi

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” – Barbara Bloom

When God mends broken people, he fills the ugly gaps with his grace, demonstrating that through the suffering and the brokenness, we become more beautiful.

What if, instead of hiding our scars, we celebrate them? We can show the handiwork of God in our lives, the places where he has filled in the gaps, replaced the broken pieces and turned our scars into precious gold. If we dare to risk revealing our scars, maybe we can bring hope to others who are broken.

Because, He makes beautiful things out of dust…out of us.