Park, make that Parking Lot. That afternoon, as I approached the parking lot of Jacob’s day program, I saw commotion toward the right side. As I slowed to turn in, I realized the commotion was my son and two staffers. They were basically trying to keep him safe and out of the street. I pulled in, threw the van in PARK, rolled the window down, and opened the sliding door. “Hey Jacob, you need a ride?”
I went on to ask what was going on and one lady said Jacob had wanted to go for a walk. And walk they did, taking a stroll all over, spanning two small parking lots. In buildings and around buildings. He had enjoyed the sunshine, twirling and singing. With ‘body guards’ on each side, as it can take two staff members to constantly redirect him away from the street.
As I stopped, Jacob got in the van as if he was ready to go home. But, rather than sit down, he exited out the other side door! I jumped out and one of the other ladies quickly tried to catch him. He moved between cars, again toward the street. Arms jerking and elbows flying.
This Christmas memory is from 2017 but is a lesson that bears repeating.
Our two youngest grands chose to stay with us a few days during their Christmas break. We did all kinds of things and had a lot of fun.
One afternoon we met cousins at the theater and saw the movie, They Followed the Star. That night I was getting Savannah to bed and laid down with her to say goodnight. She was in a chatty mood and quickly the conversation turned to Jacob. She told me that sometimes she is nervous around him and went on to remind me about a time he scared her. She was with me that day. I knew exactly what happened. I saw her frightened face and heard her cries. Oh how I hoped she had forgotten the incident, but it was still in her memory.
We talked about how brave she was then and still is, and how it is okay to have those feelings. I gave her assurance of our presence/protection. As best I could, I tried to explain how Jacob has a harder time expressing his needs, his wants, when he is in pain, or when he is afraid.
I talked about how God made us all different. “I don’t know why God chose me to be Jacob’s mom or us to be his family or why He made Jacob like he is, but, it was part of His plan.” Sweet S (then 8 years old) said, ‘Mary & Joseph wondered why God chose them to be parents to Jesus, too. Just like God made us different, we can all serve God in different ways.’
I have to tell ya—what I thought was going to be a sweet goodnight hug and kiss, turned into a most wonderful Christmas gift. Snuggled beside her in the dark, tears streamed down my face. She gets it. A tender, compassionate heart. Combined with discernment beyond her years.
It is hard to know my son has hurt or scared people. And, unfortunately, he will again in attempts to communicate. I never want anyone to be afraid of Jacob but sometimes his actions make others want to run the other way. And yet, God can use a painful time to bring awareness and understanding.
May we all choose to not focus on the differences that scare us but on how we can serve the perfect ONE who made us all precious in His sight.
Pictured is that spot with no clients congregating (as I wouldn’t post pictures of people without their permission). So, in this case, use your imagination to see the amount of space at the entrance/exit minus the two steps down. The area isn’t large and quickly gets small when numerous people are hanging out.
As you can imagine, I went into overdrive worrying about how many of those people Jacob would ‘pick on’ as he came out. He would have no choice but to walk between them. He swung the double glass doors open and walked out to their comments, “bye Jacob”, “see you tomorrow Jacob.”
In my mind I thought, they are going to wish they hadn’t been nice because Jacob is about to ‘give them what for’. Did he? NO. He. Did. Not! He walked right between them never giving them a look. It was as if they weren’t even there, as if they were invisible.
I was shocked and thrilled. It truly felt miraculous. They weren’t invisible to me. They were real and had precious hearts and I wanted so badly for them to know how much I appreciated their kind ‘good-byes’ to Jacob. To thank them for their sincere spirits.
Outside, looking in, others could think that Jacob walking calmly from the building to our van, through a sea of people, was not a big deal. A small accomplishment. Inside, looking out, I can testify that it was huge. HUGE.
This I know, the size of the blessing doesn’t matter. A tiny one or one unusually enormous. Look and you’ll see them all around. Count your blessings, name them one by one.
My heart is filled with Thanksgiving. May blessings of all shapes and sizes fill yours.
I’m not a morning person and neither is my boy. I woke him up and left the room. Next thing I knew I was hearing loud noises. LOUD. It sounded like he had started a demolition project. I hurried back to his room to see he was lifting television equipment and slamming it back down. Pulling wires and shoving cords and generally in a frustrated state. I got everything back to where it belonged and made sure a program he enjoys was on the TV.
Half an hour later I returned to get him dressed for the day. He was uncooperative pushing me away with his hands and his feet. I put my game face on determined he wasn’t getting the best of me. And while I was frustrated, it didn’t last long and he was ready to go.
Jacob was very cooperative leaving home and seemed to enjoy the scenery as I took a longer route to give him a little more riding time. Once at the center, he got out fairly quickly and walked right up the steps. And then, proceeded to bother the two guys sitting on the bench that he scared the week before! ARGHHHHH…… I jumped out of my vehicle and managed to redirect him into the building. ONLY for him to turn around and yank an earring off the staff member at the check in desk. She wasn’t fazed. I was. Finally after shaking up everyone in his path, he headed toward the kitchen and I back out to the parking lot.
Why, oh why? One day he is almost perfect and the next day just the opposite. I can take him slamming equipment. I can take him pushing me around. I cannot take him being a bully. I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes knowing I don’t know how to make it better.
Why, oh why can a few minutes one morning affect your whole day putting you in a downhearted funk? I was unmotivated to start anything on my to-do list that day. A heavy cloud was smothering me. I wondered around the house trying to pick one thing to do. Either a necessary chore or a just-for-fun project. Nothing. Not one thing interested me.
I sat back in my recliner and fought back tears. At one point, our Golden girl, Gracie, came up beside me and laid her head on my arm, searching my face with her big brown eyes. She has such a sweet, sensitive nature. And as I reached to scratch behind her ears, she started licking me. Covering me in puppy kisses. Oh, how God uses His creation to feed our souls.
In an effort to shift my attention, I picked up a book I’ve been reading and opened to my bookmark. My eyes read this sentence, … trust totally in the Lord’s feet. IN the Lord’s feet? Hmmmmm….. I did a double take and reread the sentence – I would lay my worry and trust totally at the Lord’s feet. AT, not IN. Ever skim a page and miss important parts of a sentence? (An indication of my mental state.) In this case, I felt I did need to trust IN. He would carry me, HIS feet would take me where I needed to go.
It was a day where I didn’t accomplish much but I was in a much better frame of mind when it was time to pick up my fella. All because I recognized God speaking to my heart through two unsuspecting sources—our dog and a fictional book.
Why so downcast, oh my soul? Put your hope in God.
As we were getting ready to leave home, I heard Jacob in the master bedroom. I knew he was probably getting into something he shouldn’t have, so I headed in there. Sure enough, he had been through my purse, with the contents scattered on my desk, the chair, and the floor. I gathered everything I saw, and told Jacob it was time to go.
He headed to the door all the while probably thinking, ‘she doesn’t realize her keys are not in that purse.’ I’m searching the purse, checking every pocket, turning it upside down and giving it a good shake in hopes of hearing those keys rattle. Nothing. Yes—missing. I did a swift glance around the room to no avail. Thankfully, Mike’s keys were nearby so I grabbed those and headed out. Seemed Jacob was up to his old tricks again.
I ran a few errands and came home knowing the first item on my to-do list was to find those keys.
Follow along with me and feel my amusement turn to frustration!
My work satchel was by my desk. I started with it by pulling everything out to be sure he hadn’t dropped them there. It was a sensible place because it was under my purse when Jacob got all nosey. Not there.
Next, my desk. Miscellaneous papers were haphazardly stacked on either side of my laptop. I quickly straighten those making sure keys weren’t hidden in between. No such luck. Opened the three desk drawers. Nothing. Looked under the desk chair and pulled out the desk to check behind it. Nothing.
Searched the dresser, chest of drawers, and nightstands making quick work of shuffling through stuff that should have already been put away and opening each drawer. I got down on my knees and looked under the furniture. The high and low game revealed nothing but dust. (And why I didn’t document my search with photos!)
Went into the bathroom and checked around the sinks. Also looking for drawers that weren’t closed shut and into cabinets. Nothing but frustration building.
I considered going through our closets but that thought was overwhelming so decided to come back to those later, if not successful.
I literally crawled around on the floor and shone a light to look under the love seat. Nothing. This is getting ridiculous.
I was 99.9% sure that my keys were in our bedroom but goodness that rascal made speedy work of making them hard to find. He has hidden my keys multiple times and unfortunately always in a different spot.
Back on my knees and raised up the bed skirt.
AH HAAAAAA! That rascal had tossed my keys under our bed. Yes, they were in the last place I looked!! I might need to put a finder fob on my key ring. Not that I misplace them but someone does it for me!!
When I picked him up, I told him I’d found my keys. I don’t think he was even a little impressed. I’m telling ya, he is a smart cookie! That day he was definitely up to his old tricks, once again.
As I dropped Jacob off at his day program, a couple of the guys were out front talking to the center manager. The conversation revolved around when they’d be going to a certain restaurant. Of course, I didn’t know the ‘whole story’ but I could easily see that one of the guys was frustrated. He would ask a question and she would answer him. He repeated the same question and she answered again. And again. Exasperated, I heard him say loudly, ‘is there someone who could give me a better answer?’
I drove away laughing our loud and couldn’t wait to tell Mike. We find ourselves using that phrase around home. That could be the story of my life. And probably yours.
‘Your son may never walk or talk.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘His collarbone was broken at school.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘You need surgery.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘This is borderline.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘Your request has been denied.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘She is bleeding internally.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘That is a seasonal item.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
‘The doctor called. It is cancer.’ “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
If you have ever been around Jacob, when he wants you to talk to him, he reaches for your mouth. In a sweet, gentle way. Sometimes he might want you to keep singing. ‘Don’t stop.’ Sometimes, he may want you to tell him about a certain picture in a book or magazine.
And, sometimes it may be his way of asking you to repeat what you said. His way of asking, ‘what did you just say?’ He will look me straight in my eyes and I can read the question in his. He wants to know the plan, what are we about to do, where are we going, is he staying home that day, etc. Many mornings when he gets up, that is part of his routine. Questioning what the day holds.
Last week he did just that and I answered his imploring eyes, “we are going to SV.” He turned to walk away and quickly came back and reached for my mouth, “we are going to SV.” Headed out of the room and came back asking, ‘what did you just say?’, with his eyes. ‘Did I hear you right?’ “We are going to SV. But, today is Friday so tomorrow you can stay home.” Mike was watching this exchange and said, “is there someone who could give me a better answer?”
Again, I laughed out loud because that had to be EXACTLY what Jacob was thinking!
This post has been bouncing around in my mind for months. The lyrics to the song Andrae Crouch released in 2003 have been on continuous loop as well. “Is there someone who could give me a better answer?” “Why, yes.”
Jesus Is The Answer For The World Today
Above Him There’s No Other Jesus Is The Way
Jesus Is The Answer For The World Today
Above Him There’s No Other Jesus Is The Way
Jesus Is The Answer For The World Today
Above Him There’s No Other Jesus Is The Way
Jesus Is The Answer For The World Today
Above Him There’s No Other Jesus Is The Way
If You Have Some Questions In The Corners Of Your Mind
And Traces Of Discouragement And Peace You Cannot Find
Reflections Of The Old Past, They Seem To Face You Everyday
There’s One Thing I Know For Sure That Jesus Is The Way
I have mixed emotions about Halloween. When it comes to that day on the calendar only one thing interests Jacob. CANDY. As a little guy, I’d dress him up and we’d go to a few houses in our neighborhood or maybe hop in the car and go to see what yummy treats (think – chocolate) grandparents might have to drop in his orange jack-o-lantern bucket.
But, how do you explain the concept of trick or treating? Dress up in something fun or weird or scary, carry a bag or bucket, knock on a door, and scream ‘trick or treat’. Seems simple enough. In a twisted sort of way. Jacob either didn’t get it or got it and was much too smart to play along. I’m going with the latter.
We enjoyed a few Fall Festivals when he was young and that was probably more fun for him than the door-to-door aspect. Either way, he got more than his share of candy and didn’t miss out. Unfortunately, I could only find a few pictures of my little cutie.
Now, we pretty much ignore the day. I know. We are such scrooges. We don’t turn on the outside lights. We even try to make it look like we aren’t home. The doorbell ringing constantly, along with the dogs barking nonstop, is too much.
One Halloween, years ago, I dropped him off at his day program. A note had been sent home earlier in the week indicating that everyone could dress up, if they’d like, and there would be trick or treating in the building. Well, I knew Jacob wasn’t interested in wearing anything out of the ordinary. So he went as himself. Best way to go, right? Goodness, some days I can barely get him to wear clothing of his choosing.
It was a rainy, dreary day that set a depressing tone. I dropped him off at the center to greetings of witches at the door and painted faces lurking. And drove away knowing he’d get more than enough candy.
A few hours later as I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch, I got a call, ‘Mrs. Pigford, Jacob is having a really tough day. It might be good if you could come get him.’ I phoned my friend to cancel lunch and headed toward the center. When I got there, he was visibly upset. I could see that he was stressed as he had been biting his hands. I appreciated the call which gave me an opportunity to, hopefully, relieve him of whatever caused his ill mood.
I realized two things that day. First, Jacob is bothered by costumes. Maybe not from a distance but up close he is not having it. And, secondly, Jacob cannot be trusted when candy is being given out freely. He assumes anything in reach is fair game and that he should have it all. There is no reasoning with him that everyone gets a Hershey bar. He doesn’t understand ‘share what you have with others’. Never has and probably never will.
One other thing that I considered afterwards. Barometric pressure. I honestly think it was not what caused his trouble then, but I do believe the weather wasn’t in his favor and added to his anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong. I so wish Jacob could participate in the fun and games. I thoroughly enjoy seeing little ones dressed up as unicorns and bumblebees and super heroes and princesses. Such wonderful memories of those years with our other son.
It’s just one of those days, each fall, that didn’t and doesn’t makes sense to Jacob. Who needs Halloween when he has a stash of all his favorite candy in a drawer at the ready?
And, I’m perfectly okay hanging out with my guy, at home, on October 31st. Letting him sleep late, if he wants, and choose his favorite candy. After breakfast, of course!
Trick or Treat. Sweets can’t be beat. Give me something good to eat! If you don’t, just beware, I’ll show you my underwear.
When our boys were in Elementary School there was an emphasis on saving energy. Teaching kids to be mindful about turning lights off, the concept of going green, recycling, etc. Hopefully, that is still part of school curriculum today.
It’s fun to have a Watt Watcher at home making sure they, and their family members, are not wasteful. However, Jacob never had a good grasp of that concept. He wants lights on! Whether he is in the room or not. And if turning a light on and off repeatedly is wasting energy, then he is king of that. To go from his bedroom to the garage, he may turn every light switch, as he passes, off and on several times as he is leaving home.
Sometimes when I am waiting for my fella to come out at pick up time in the afternoons, I know when Jacob enters the hallway because I see the hall lights going off and on. He would be good at checking all lights in a building to make sure every bulb is in working order.
And, he is particular about which lamps he wants on around the house as well. Sometimes he will come get us or a sitter just to turn a lamp in his room on or off. He has trouble with the fine motor required on most lamps. We even have a guard on a few wall switches around our home to keep him from ‘flicking’ a switch constantly. Imagine the garbage disposal being turned on every time he passed by.
Another fun fact while we are talking about lights; he has Christmas lights in his bedroom all year long. No shame here—he loves it. Thankfully blinking lights don’t have an adverse effect on him like they can with some people.
Jacob has never seemed afraid of the dark. He doesn’t have a night light in his bedroom but occasionally he will turn on the bathroom light before falling asleep. I can’t help but think about how the Bible talks about Christ being the light. He lights the way for us both naturally and supernaturally.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jacob lights his way physically by using the power of electricity. He’d choose light over dark every time.
He is the opposite of a Watt Watcher. What is that? A Watt Waster?
It was a hard morning. Not that it started out difficult. Jacob was groggy and slow to get moving but he finally got up without extra coercing. Something was a little off though. He was spinning more than usual. Getting him dressed made me dizzy. In the end, all articles of clothing, socks, and shoes remained on so that was a win.
He wouldn’t eat or drink anything before leaving home which isn’t unusual. He didn’t appear to be upset at all. Just nothing interested him. But as we started toward the garage, he became agitated. I still don’t know what set him off. Had I known what the next 30 minutes were going to entail, I could have given him a chill pill. Hindsight is 20/20, right? I have a couple of options in our arsenal that could help calm him but I didn’t see this coming.
For some reason he started chasing our two dogs. He never does that. Neither of them ever bother him but they were underfoot in the hall as we were headed to the garage (which is typically where they are every time we are leaving home). It seemed like he was out to get them and frankly they were frightened by his behavior. Both had their tails tucked. The male is usually pretty cool with any behavior Jacob exhibits. He’ll wait for me at Jacob’s bedroom door even if he is bouncing off the walls. Our female is more ‘sensitive’. Let’s just say, if Jacob is acting out, she goes to the other side of the house to be clear of him. I think this particular day it was a matter of them being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently, he was going to take his agitation out on anyone or anything in his way. They probably could have used a chill pill, too.
As a rule, I have low blood pressure but I could feel it rising! Once I got G & L separated from him, he took it out on me. Grabbing at my clothes and my arms, swatting at me, both of our elbows flying, pictures being knocked off the wall. It. Was. Crazy. Town.
Finally, I got my arms around him in a bear hug and into the garage. Where, you guessed it, he didn’t want to get in the van. Refused. Circled it fussing and pulling on me. At one point, I got in the driver’s seat and cranked it, trying to ignore him. Hoping he’d settle down. Eventually he got in but then would not let me buckle him up. Had me by the wrist, at arm’s length, where fastening the seat belt was impossible. Twice I got back in the driver’s seat to give both of us time to calm down before trying again. Once I got him buckled, I was out of breath and in tears.
I backed out of the garage but just sat in our driveway bewildered at how quickly he was out of control and how helpless I felt. It was one of those moments where I prayed he would forget whatever made him mad to start with. And, that once he was away from home and away from me, all would be well in his world.
I drove the few minutes to his day program in silence. Too angry, too upset, and way too frustrated to even talk to him. On good mornings, he is buckled up without the added safety clasp that keeps him from unbuckling. This wasn’t a good morning so I had made sure to use it. Now that we were at the center and it was time to unbuckle and get out, he wouldn’t let me release the safety device. A wrestling match ensued where after some time, I accomplished what I set out to do. Once unbuckled, I quickly got back in the driver’s seat to give him space to exit. After a while, he tired of sitting in the hot van, got out, opened the driver’s door, and grabbed me. He wasn’t giving up his bad mood easily. Realizing I was not getting out nor giving up my, now, bad mood either, he headed toward the building.
The entrance looked safe enough. No one was standing in the doorway. (LINK – Clear a Path: https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2019/09/12/clear-a-path/.) There were two fellas sitting on the bench outside chatting and enjoying the breeze. He walks past them many mornings without giving them a thought or glance. This wasn’t one of those mornings. He got to the door only to turn around and grab both of them. A staff person on the inside and I saw it at the same time and both hurried to rescue them from Jacob’s grasp. It was upsetting enough that they weren’t doing anything to bother Jacob. But, on top of that, they are legally blind so Jacob’s touch rattled them both terribly. The staff member remained calm assuring the young men that Jacob didn’t mean to scare them and he was going inside. Once they were free of his grip, Jacob started to run away but I grabbed him and literally wrangled him into the building. The staff member took over and escorted him down the hallway toward the kitchen.
I got in the van shaking. Now I needed a chill pill. How did the morning go so wrong? There was nothing to indicate he was sick. Would I get a call to come pick up my disruptive son? His behavior was scary to say the least.
Instead of running the planned errands, I went home to let tears flow. To hug our sweet Golden Retrievers so they’d know all was going to be okay. To pray the day would get better. I didn’t see how it could get much worse. To weigh the pros and cons of letting him stay home and sleep in the next day or take a chance. A chance that there would be a repeat performance.
There are moments when I feel, I know, that what I need most is to rest in peace. To embrace God’s spirit. The spirit that pours over me to sooth my soul was my chill pill that moment. Did you know chill pills come in many forms? Not to be flippant but seek the Holy Spirit when nothing is going right. A few other ‘pills’ that help me – rest, prayer, tears, reaching out to a friend, and one of my favorites, a mocha frappuccino!
I am so very thankful for new mornings. Thankful that the next morning I determined to try again. And he was like a different person. He was fairly cooperative getting dressed and out the door. He tried to keep me from buckling him up but that didn’t last long. Once at his drop off point, he got out within a few minutes and walked in without incident.
Clap your hands all you people, shout unto God with a voice of PRAISE!!!
That’s a tough one. And, in the name of transparency, one I’ve been convicted of lately. Many years ago, I realized that God gave me the heart of a servant. Finding joy and purpose in helping others is a result of following that call. I also know God gave me Jacob. Meaning, being his mom and serving him would be a life-long task. God made me exactly the way I am to be able to best take care of the gift He gave me 40 years ago.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Galatians 5:13 NIV
Something I’ve started doing, that has brought me a great deal of pleasure, is hosting tea parties. As I prepare for a party and serve my guests, I have the second part of Galatians 5:13 on my mind. Serve one another humbly in love. My heart is full as I demonstrate that simple act. The first part of the verse talks about being free. Listen closely, being free in Christ doesn’t mean focusing on myself (indulge the flesh) but being free to show Christ to others, by serving. It doesn’t cost me anything to serve in love.
So, here is the ‘confession is good for the soul’ section: Seems like every time I get settled in to read a book, or watch a movie, or watercolor, or …., Jacob realizes I am ‘free’ to serve him. I don’t know how he does it. Waits until I am done in the kitchen. Or sitting with my feet propped up. And he will do whatever it takes to get my attention. Sometimes he will lean in to get close to my face and give me his sweetest, melt his mom, smile. Truly I can hardly say no to that! Or, take an opposite approach. Become demanding and pull me toward his room or the kitchen refusing to let go. Unfortunately, I let those little things get the best of me. Some days I have no patience left to spread. Can’t I just focus on what I want right now? Just a few minutes?
Don’t think so. No, here he comes handing me an empty cup. I let that simple act frustrate me way too much. He’s thirsty and needs my help. What kind of mother am I? One that hears Satan say, ‘you’ve been serving him for 40 years!’ And I’ll think, that’s right. That’s the truth! Not once has he poured himself something to drink.
Then he brings his DVD player wanting to watch another movie. Or the huge case of DVDs. The word wait is not in his vocabulary. I’ll carefully explain to him that I’ve just helped him select another one and to go watch it. He’ll study me seeming to listen intently, then turn and walk away as if he is going to do just that. Mike and I may look at each other and give a thumbs up. He’s actually going to obey. Only to return less than 5 minutes later as if it has been hours. I fully believe he tried to wait. Again, I let his need aggravate me. Bless his heart, why shouldn’t he get to watch another movie? He changes his mind more than anyone I know. But, I change mine, too. What was I doing that was more important? Serving myself, that’s what!
Quickly God called me out on my attitude. It needed adjusting. Was I serving in love? NO. Jacob was gifted to me to grow my faith, my patience, my endurance, and so much more. To stretch me beyond my capabilities so I quit trying to do it on my own. I cannot do it on my own. And, guess what? I don’t have to. God knows it isn’t easy but His arms are open wide to lighten my load.
There’s a fine line between serving Jacob versus taking away his ability to do it himself. “Lord, teach me to know the difference.”