Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Generous Love

A couple of weeks ago, I posted comments that were expressed, by some of my readers.  On that day, I was really struggling.  I went to the computer to write, but found myself nearly in tears, just from feeling exhausted.  I went to the emails, comments I have collected, and began to read.  The greatest thing about all those comments is how much of a difference they all made to me.  They picked me up and energized me, when I was feeling quite low.  You, my readers, who have said I have made a difference for you, I must say, have made a huge impact on me and I thank you! 

I have the most beautiful, loving, incredible daughter.  I have the most amazing, caring, spectacular people in my life.  I marvel in how fortunate I am.  I know there are many people out there who have extremely difficult circumstances, some of which I can deeply relate to, others of which are far harder than what I could ever understand.  Yet, I am on top of my game because of those who have picked me up, when I thought I wasn’t able to rise. 

I am sharing this because the honesty weighs on my heart.  I wish I could tell you, everyday was absolutely perfect, but that wouldn’t be quite true.  Some days are full of stumbling blocks, but I feel like I am gaining strength.  I am sure there is a lesson in all of my experiences; a lesson that teaches me, nothing is more important than love.  At the end of the day, this is what truly sustains me and brings me to feeling the depth of my happiness, even though the day may have been muddy.  All the little things that happen, they are just the reminder of how blessed I really am.

First thing in the morning yesterday, Alyssa was bouncing on her ball across the room and she simply stated, “I love you mommy, I love you daddy”.  The day prior was weighing heavily on my shoulders, but I realized, nothing about the day prior really mattered.  My little girl was expressing her love for me and this would certainly wipe away all the silly little things that have felt like road blocks, detours and unsurpassable mountains.  All those little things just don’t matter, when it really comes down to it.  Children with Autism are often referred to as children with special needs.  I can only confirm the special part.  She will go out of her way to check on me, to say hello to me and to share her love.  She is one of the special children God has brought to our world to show us all what is genuinely important. 

We can spend so much of a day in complete frustration and angst.  We are so privileged to have our life, to have love, to have one another…  It’s all good, maybe even great!!  I just want to thank all the people in my life, especially Alyssa, for making me realize, the only thing important here is love.  With that love, I truly think, I can conquer the obstacles I will have to encounter.

I am not sure why I got so lucky.  Yes, lucky!  I don’t feel lucky to have a child with Autism….. I feel lucky to have a child with a heart of gold who loves me without judgment or condition.  She offers her love generously.  If only, we could all love that way!  Today is a new day…  I will keep trying. 

Thank you for reading and have a great week!  Angie

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prefer One Another

I listened to a sermon on Sunday.  It was all about honor and how we can do so much better by honoring one another and putting others ahead of ourselves.  It was said, “If you show honor, all will be well with you.”  The sermon encouraged us to prefer one another, over ourselves.  I love that expression…  “Prefer one another!”

I do believe, our lives are richer, when we do good things, for one another.  I love how it feels to give something to someone, especially if I knew, they really wanted or needed it.  I have been on the receiving end too and it feels wonderful!  I am not only talking about material things; I have been on the receiving end of some of the most gracious hearts, which have changed my life and made me a better person. 

We had a bunk bed in Alyssa’s room.  She slept on the bottom; I never wanted her to be up on the top.  It’s hard to tell if she understands her safety boundaries.  My protection for her created the desire to get her into a different bed, all together.  One of our favorite people, Miss Grace, decided it was time to go do some mission work in Nepal.  She called one day and asked if Alyssa would like her bedroom furniture.  Alyssa LOVES her new bed.  She sleeps better too (less mystery above her)!  Later, we thought we would try to sell the bunk bed.  We found someone who wanted it, but they were having some financial setbacks.  It felt so much better to give the bunk away, so we did.

My sweet Alyssa, she is amazing.  I sometimes worry… what if Alyssa doesn’t have as much to offer her friends, as they offer her.  I was visiting with another parent who has a son with Autism.  We talked about this fear.  She said, “Just ask the other parents to talk to their children and ask them to be nice to her.”  She shared that her son was incredibly welcomed by his friends.  She simply asked for others to be nice to him.  Yes, he was different.  Yes, he was delayed significantly with his learning.  Yes, he struggled with potty training.  When it all came down to it and others got to know him, they preferred him as a friend.  The relationships he developed were like a magic carpet.....  He graduated in the top of his class in high school.  He is very well liked and even though he still has differences, he soared academically, athletically and in relationships.  All of this happened, by the simple gesture of others preferring him over their own inhibitions, fears, etc.  This experience has given me hope.

I have wondered if Alyssa will be able to achieve balance in her relationships.  Then, I look at my own life, and realize, I have some pretty special people surrounding me.  Maybe, if you are on the outside looking in, you might think, we are “out of balance”, so to speak… maybe by income, upbringing, homes, vehicles, etc.  The bottom line here is that it doesn’t really seem to matter.  We all have the ability to impact one another in different ways.  Somewhere along the line, someone preferred us over themselves and the same thing happened from us to someone else.  I believe, this has sustained and nurtured relationships and kept them impartial.  The give and take does not have to be measured.  It just needs to be real and from the heart.  The end result… perfect balance. 

If honor is what it takes, I know I can say, “All is well with me.”  I will do my best to prefer others over myself.  I will hope others will do the same, especially for our sweet Alyssa.

Thank you for reading and have a great week.  Angie

Happy Birthday Grace!!  We miss you!!  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


A friend of mine shared, she really likes to read the comments left by others.  So, I thought it might be fun to share the comments that have come to me by email.  As I went through my folder, reviewing all the comments again, I was extremely touched.  I didn’t include all of the comments because there were so many, although, there weren’t any negative ones.  These expressions mean the world to us and have brought many happy tears.  Thank you all for being a part of our journey and for continuing to share this with others too!

For the sake of privacy, I will put the quotes in, without names. 

“I completely fell in Love with Alyssa this year. I also want to tell you how much I respect you for everything that you guys do for Alyssa. I know it's not easy and you don't get direct gratification for things you do for her so I hope that you know that IT MATTERS and makes a difference. Alyssa is SO incredibly lucky to have you guys.”

“WOW!!  Those are AMAZING pictures!!  Of course, the subject matter is absolutely beautiful!! : )  Thanks for the reminder and the wonderful message - your blog continues to be an inspiration to me!!”

“Angie......I love you.....Thanks so much for sharing Alyssa's journey and your journey as Alyssa's mom. You, my beautiful lady, truly are an inspiration as is your beautiful daughter.”

“Hi Angie, I wish I had your faith and wisdom. I am very low and appreciated the words in the posting.”

“I thought your blog was a wonderful reminder to parents to let their child experience life, good or bad, so they can grow.  I have to remind myself constantly to let my girls do just that and they are in their 20's.”

“Her smile makes everyone’s day. “  “She is always smiling.  What a precious gift you have been given.”

“I have seen this lovely picture of Alyssa numerous times, but I am one of the "lucky ones" to see her beautiful face often!  She is a "delight" & she has a special place in my heart!!”

“Beautiful.  My daughter really likes Alyssa and talks about her almost every day.  She thinks Alyssa is terrific and last week we had to purchase black berries to be just like Alyssa.”

“Thanks for making me cry this morning, more out of the joy you so well conveyed in your last post but also some tears of sadness that all children don't have loving mothers like Alyssa that advocate for what's best in their lives. I especially like the fact that given enough space children will usually find beautiful ways of connecting with each other and adults (parents and teachers, especially) for the most part just need to let children find themselves, each other if we can just keep from trying to mold them into what we think they should be.  I really enjoy reading your posts as they remind me to keep focused on what's truly important in life...Love, Peace, Gratitude, Joy.  Thank you again for an uplifting message.  Peace and love.”

“I can't tell you how many times I wish I wouldn't have reacted and felt "crumbled" like you said. It's one of the hardest moments of being a parent. I totally agree with you that our kids are our teachers, and I too thank God for giving me my kids, as hard and humbling as being a mother can be at times.”

“I've been reading your writings; I like what you have to say. I also did not know you were that talented of a writer. I am very impressed and I don't impress easily.  lol”

“Wow.  You are a beautiful writer. It brings tears of joy to my eyes each time I read your writings.  I am so in awe of what you have done with Alyssa and what she has done for you.  It is a miracle.”

“Your messages and words of wisdom always seem so timely!!  As parents, especially what I'm experiencing right now with raising teenagers!!  It is so much easier to try to stop the behavior or immediately react to being disappointed by their behavior instead of really seeing and feeling the whole picture.  Your story with Alyssa brought tears to my eyes as I've reacted way too quickly, way too many times with my own kiddos!!  How fantastic that Alyssa was able to feel your emotions and respond with such an appropriate and mature connection - you're awesome Ms. Alyssa!!  Thanks for sharing such intimate experiences about your life with Alyssa and parenting - it is so helpful and heart and mind awakening on many levels!!”

“I just want you to know that I have not been able to read any or your posts without shedding tears, tears of gratitude, hope, love, joy. Thank you again for sharing your heart and soul with all of us. This post reminds me of the many times that I've heard my sweet sister say "There is only one of us here" and how we approach each day and each moment of each day has an impact on the outer world and the people in it. I think that if we can all live each moment with gratitude in our hearts, each moment becomes a sacred tribute to all the love, truth, peace and beauty that is promised to all and by doing so we strengthen the connection that exists between each other and all other forms of life also. Thank you for sharing the lessons you and Alyssa have learned together with the rest of us.”

“Angie, thank you for such inspiring posts. I look forward to your post every week.”

“Wow, that last paragraph really hit home. I think we all suffer from internal erosion and you are so right, we need each other to help deal with life. That's why we have each other. Richard Bach once wrote "there is no problem without a gift in it for you; you seek problems because you need their gifts." By reaching out, you are giving people the opportunity to be gifts to one another. Thanks, Angie”

“I just want you to know how much I love reading your blog and getting to know Alyssa...she is just wonderful and I *love* her!  I look forward to your post every Wednesday :)”

“As always, I enjoyed your latest post and the message you convey in each one. You and your daughter share a message of hope that encourages us all to find better ways to treat ourselves and others.  Thank you so much.”

“Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your blog. Your love for Alyssa oozes from the words. Thank you for sharing your experience. I can only imagine that many find strength and reassurance in your sharing.”

“You always make me cry (in a good way). Thanks for sharing and making my life richer.”

I enjoyed the last 5 postings that you did, since I've been very behind on my email since I've been traveling.  Your words are inspiration and your dedication so admirable.  Hang in there and thanks for including me!”

“Well, I was going to start on my on-line open water diver course for scuba and opened Angie's website and shed tears more than once and at times continuously while reading of beautiful little Alyssa and was filled with such deep feelings of gratitude at being able to share in the wonderful experience of a bright, loving and beautiful little girl named Alyssa. Thank you so much. I couldn't stop reading till I got to the end and wanted more. Angie is a very talented writer who can convey more heartfelt emotion in a few words than most people can in paragraphs. I will share her website with as many people as I can and I hope it makes them cry like I did.”

“Your story is beautiful, moving and very inspiring!!!  I believe with all my heart you are giving strength and courage to thousands.  You and Alyssa are changing lives.”

Again, I would like to thank you ALL, so much.  Without readers, I would feel pretty silly writing every week.  Hugs, Angie

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Simple Pleasures

I was at the grocery store this morning.  I often feel punished, while at the grocery store, bound by the expense and caught in the middle of making the right choice and spending the extra dollars needed to eat healthy.  This morning was different.  I met Jim.  Jim was sent to the store by his daughter-in-law (I believe that is what he said).  He came to me asking for a little help with his list.  First, he asked, “is there such a thing as green onions?”  I smiled and replied, “Yes!”  I took him to the scallions.  A few minutes later, Jim came back.  Next, he said, “do you know what these are?”  I looked at his list and read, grape tomatoes.  I admire his daughter-in-law for being specific, since there are so many different kinds of tomatoes.  Jim had some pretty difficult items on his list, so I continued to help, gathering ginger root, sugar snap peas and cole slaw mix.  Having shopped at this store for seven years, I knew right where the items were.  It was so much fun for me to help him find what he needed.  I am glad he perceived me as approachable.  After we collected all the items required from the produce section, Jim gently put out his hand to shake mine.  He introduced himself and shared, he was 85 years old.  I never would’ve guessed.  Age is just a number.  He was a pleasure to meet.  This was a priceless experience, a true freebie at the grocery store. 

Yesterday, Alyssa and I were in the living room.  She was bouncing on her ball, giggling away.  I began to tap the ball with my foot and with every touch, I would say, “boom”.  After several taps and booms, I accidentally tapped the ball when she was up in the air.  She literally went BOOM, on her bum, to the floor!  She started cracking up laughing, hopped right back up on the ball and started bouncing again.  The next hour was filled with extreme and rejuvenating silliness!  Her pleasure, smile and laughter impacted me greatly.  I got to smile and giggle too!

When I was a child, my mom would make us “egg in the hole” for breakfast.  If you have never had one, it’s simply buttered bread, with a hole cut in the center, where you can crack and drop the egg into, then cook and serve.  We loved them, as kids.  And, I can honestly say, I still do.  Egg in the hole was always a favorite and eating them without utensils was a bonus.  After all, it looks a lot like toast.  One day, I decided to make them for Alyssa.  She looked almost confused.  How did the egg get in the middle of her toast?  She picked it up, examined it thoroughly, and then took a cautious bite, followed by many more ambitious ones.  The same old breakfasts were not that exciting anymore, but this was fun and new, even though it was still just egg and toast.  I am not sure what she liked more, the egg in the hole or freedom to eat this delight with her fingers.  She ate two.  I was overjoyed she liked them.

Sometimes, the littlest things can bring great enjoyment to our day.  Although the last few weeks have been littered with many challenges, I am thankful for other experiences I have had.  They have served as reminders to me.  What’s important does not seem to be the depth of the strain, but the things we do to enlighten our spirit.  With summer upon us, this is such a great opportunity to go for a hike, pick some flowers, sit in the sprinkler, get some rays, take a jeep ride, and embrace all the beauty around us.  I hope to offset, the things I have allowed to distract me, from other great things, like life’s simple pleasures. 

I would like to thank Kara, with Kara Wright Photography, for capturing so many beautiful pictures of Alyssa!  You are incredibly talented!  We are incredibly thankful!  

Thank you for reading and have a great week!  Angie 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I went to an inclusion conference in Denver a few years ago.  This conference is designed to educate families, teachers and administrators on the benefits of inclusion.  I wish everyone would go to this conference.  It was such a great view into the lives of those who are affected by all different kinds of disabilities.  A common thread at this conference was the determination parents had to make a difference for their children.  What moved me most, the personal stories shared by the individuals who were labeled with disabilities… their stories, who motivated them, how they felt, and what they were currently doing. 

One young man with Downs Syndrome shared a story about his early childhood.  His mother was taking him to school in his wheel chair and the crossing guard said to her, something to the effect, but not a quote….  Your son is never going to be able to cross the street, why do you keep bringing him to school?  The young man telling his story clicked a button and a slide show started.  The first picture was of him showing off his black belt in Karate.  Oh my goodness, the lump in my throat... huge!  His mother helped him see his own abilities.  Her perseverance encouraged him enough to have the determination to go the distance.  He didn’t stop at the black belt; he went on to open a gym for other individuals with Downs Syndrome.  Those words from the crossing guard seem to have inspired him.

Another young man told his story.  He rode the special bus to school because that's what kids did who were disabled.  When he was about ten years old, he realized, he was different.  The special bus wasn’t so special after all.  This bus set him apart from the other students at the school.  The bus told his peers, “He was different, disabled, and basically… incapable”.  The bus told him, "He wasn't good enough to ride with the typical kids."  As he talked, my heart ached for him.  The pain he felt as a child was great.  This experience motivated him to show the world he did have capabilities.  If I remember correctly, he became a writer, sharing his story, through poetry. 

The next experience was the one that affected me the most.  I was a bit early to this session.  I grabbed a seat in the back, unaware this was going to help me hide my overwhelming emotions.  I sat and waited.  Before long, a projector turned on at the front of the room.  I watched words start to form across the screen.  I wasn’t feeling so smart for sitting in the back at this point because I couldn’t see who was typing.  It wasn’t long before the crowd shifted to their seats and I saw the typist.  He was in his early twenties.  He wanted another soda and was typing away, requesting for his mom to bring him one.  As soon as he stopped typing, he gazed at the words he wrote and then read them aloud, “Mom, I want another Pepsi, please.”  I lost it.  My tears fell faster than the tissues could catch them. If he typed something, it made it possible for him to repeat what he read aloud, but spontaneously he had difficulty forming his thoughts, typing them first was a necessity.  I had never seen anything like this before.  It was awesome.  If you are thinking "Autism", you are right.  His mom and a team of professionals spent years working with him, determined to bring his abilities forward.  He was in college, working towards a degree.  Although his lessons took him longer than his colleagues, he didn’t become discouraged, he wanted his degree and was going for it.

What makes you determined?  I was talking to one of the mom’s at school one day.  I said to her, “how do you stay so thin?”  She said, “Exercise is a priority, my house isn’t clean”.  For her, priority created determination.  For the young men, from the inclusion conference, it was their parents’ perseverance that motivated them and gave them the determination to rise above the label of their disability.  For me, my determination comes from the smile on Alyssa’s face.  She is incredibly enthusiastic and happy.  I, like most moms, will do anything for my child, my angel.  I want the world to see her shining smile and know Autism is a label, not a priority, whereas, her happiness is.  
Thank you for reading and have a great week!  Angie