We Are Family

Yesterday, on my way home from work I was thinking about my childhood in rural Maryland. There were seven siblings in my mother’s family. No one moved very far away, and so grandmother, brothers and sisters, and cousins got together often.  My head is full of wonderful memories. Birthday parties, holidays at each others houses, summertime kickball and whiffle ball games with the cousins, church, picnics, Saturday afternoon drives for ice cream, spending the night at my cousin’s, graduations, marriages, babies being born. I was born in 1968, the first granddaughter, after three grandsons. I, the first granddaughter, was born on the same day (not the same year) as the first grandson. My cousin and I have had fun with that throughout the years. There are ten of us cousins in all. Six girls and 4 boys.


Sometimes I think back on my own childhood in the 70’s and 80’s, before 24-hour cable, the internet, and cell phones. My childhood was making up our own games, playing outside, riding bikes, catching lightning bugs, cake and ice cream at birthday parties, slumber parties, and watching my cousins play ball. (Football in the Fall, and Baseball in the Spring and Summer) We all loved each other. None of us are perfect, but we love family. reading-77167.jpeg


As time went on, and we all grew up, we went our separate ways. College out of state, careers, marriages, children…. I sometimes wish my own children could have known what it was like to have the family so close by and to bond together in ways that now seem nearly impossible. Life is much faster, more frantic, and further apart.

I will be celebrating my fiftieth birthday this May, and as an adult, I can now look back and realize the gift our parents and aunts and uncles gave us. The gift of time. The gift of love. The gift of family.


Kindness, Matters

Last week I was at Aldi. For those of you that aren’t familiar, it is a grocery store. It was a Friday evening, I was tired from a long week and just wanted to get my groceries and get home. At this point in the day, I am sure I looked like a weary woman on a mission. You all know what I mean. We’ve all been there. I got through the store, pretty sure I had everything I needed. There was one line open at the time (isn’t that always the way at grocery stores?) as I began to heft my boxes, jars, bags, and cans on the conveyor belt. There was quite a line behind me, lines always make me feel guilty like I am holding everybody up. It wasn’t my fault, but I usually have “full cart” guilt.


It is at times like this that God will use my circumstances to teach me a life lesson.

“Hey, may I help you unload your groceries?”, said the petite dark-haired woman behind me in line. Me, being in a tired daze, looked at her, “Um, you don’t have to do that.” “I don’t mind. My teenage son is usually with me to help me get all the groceries up here and then helps me bag stuff. I know what it is like to have to feel hurried when you are doing it yourself.” “Well, okay. If you want to help me.” She shook her head and began loading cans and boxes well……like a mama. She knew what she was doing. I appreciated her help and told her so. She just shook her head and smiled. I finished going through the line and bagged my stuff and loaded it in the truck. As God would have it, she was in the SUV parked next to me. As she came out and unlocked her vehicle, I thanked her again for her help. She said no problem, now “go home and relax”.  I smiled at her.


I was tired. She took a few moments to offer help. She loaded cans and containers. She wasn’t attempting world peace, she was attempting to give me peace through her simple act of kindness.

She made a difference to me, that evening at Aldi. She understood that small acts of kindness can mean a lot to someone in need.


“Dear Heavenly Father, please bless that dark-haired woman from Aldi. I don’t even know her name, but I know that You do. You saw us that evening. You know who we are. Thank you for this simple, sweet lesson. Help me to step out of my comfort zone and show kindness to others.   In Jesus name, Amen”.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me…” Matthew 25:40  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23

Winter’s Last Hurrah!

I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my colorful cozy socks, pajamas, and a long sweater. I’m wearing comfy clothes to winter’s last big party. Here in Ohio, we’ve had several inches of snow overnight and the wind has caused drifting. I love snow, so I am happy, but several of my warmer weather friends are miffed that there is snow and it is supposed to be Springtime! March is always a wild card, what can I say?


I suppose I will wait a little longer before bringing out my spring decor. I’m okay with that, after all, I am the one that doesn’t do well with excessive heat. I enjoy spring, but I struggle with the heat and humidity of summer. I will complain about that later, say about three or four months from now.



Here are some of my completely unintellectual and funny insights into snow days.

  1. When one has three dogs, beautiful white snow doesn’t last long. Why do the dogs always want to pee outside right in front of the windows? Snow loses it’s sparkling beauty when it is streaked with yellow. Just sayin’.
  2. Snow always ends up inside. Between boots, and dogs……I just noticed a big puddle in the front entry. One of the dogs rolled around in the snow and then came inside and “melted” all over the floor. At least it is just water. It could be worse. (I have mud season coming up in a month or so—mud is way worse. Ugh. April showers bring May flowers, hmmppffff. It is more like a stinkin’ monsoon. Rain and dirt= mud. Mud thick enough to make me lose my boots.)
  3. I lit my candle lanterns on the mantle this morning. Candlelight is so much better than sunlight streaming through the windows. Sunlight highlights streaked windows and dust. I try to ignore this fact. I hate dust. Dust mocks me. I just need to live in the semi-dark. It is so much easier that way. Everybody and everything looks better in the soft glow of candlelight. Don’t argue with me.
  4. I like sweaters. Well, really I love sweaters. I am so happy to live in a state that for a good part of the year I can wear a sweater and be comfortable. The other part of the year (namely summer!) I sweat like a horse and probably smell like one too. I can’t wear sweaters in the summer. Heck, in order to try and stay cool, I try not to wear much in the summer at all. Well, I wear what I can get away with and still not get arrested. It is a real struggle.
  5. Our mailbox has survived another winter of the snow plow. When the plow goes down our country road one can hear it coming! All one can see is a wall of snow flying through the air and when all the snow settles, one looks to see if the mailbox is still intact. This is a real thing, people. A lot of people around here have summer and winter mailboxes. The winter mailboxes look like they have been through a war….and I guess they have. Banged, dented, with lids that one has to jiggle to get closed, you’re lucky if your box still has a workable flag left on it. All due to the savage attacks by the plow.



Everyone have a great day. Yea, for snow days!

Learning To Be Comfortable With Myself

I recently read a quote by Matt Haig that has stuck with me.

“To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy human selves……”

This quote came from a post about how society works hard to make us feel less than, so we will buy more, want more, try more, expect more—because we mistakenly think those things will make us be more. What a lie, straight from the pit of Hell.


I am coming up on the big 5-0 birthday in May. I am more “fluffy” than I was in my 20’s. I am beginning to get the smallest little crinkles around my eyes, and my hands are starting to resemble my mother’s. Some days my grown kids get on my nerves and my frustration leaks out. I stress myself with deadlines, and timelines and not enough free time. I am not perfect, at all…not even a little bit…but, I am okay with that.


I don’t know if it is because I am running headlong toward my fiftieth birthday, and I feel by this point in my life I am more comfortable with my decisions, I’m fairly comfortable with myself, and I am relatively happy. Or whether I have become wise to how discontent happens, and I make the extra effort to not allow that to happen to me. Of course, I am not happy all the time and certainly not every day…but I am content the majority of the time.

Something else I have figured out over time is that my mistakes, my less than glorious messes, my pains, and my flaws are often what draw others to me. Not because people want to wallow in mistakes, but more like it encourages them and they know that they are not alone in wading through this life one day at a time. C.S. Lewis reminds me of this with his words.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one…”

Today I am content with: 

  1. Dining room furniture that has served us well, even though it now has scratches and chipped paint and the wood top needs to be refinished.
  2. Dust…..it is everywhere. House will never look like Better Homes and Gardens. Oh, well.
  3. Pet fur….it is also everywhere. I love my animals.
  4. A bed that wasn’t made, but is still so comfy. A place I can snuggle with my husband at the end of long days.
  5. Trash that needs to be taken out…..because we have so much.
  6. Stuff that should be thrown out of the fridge because it is starting to look funky. Needless waste! I have never gone hungry.
  7. Bad hair days. I have learned to embrace my cowlicks.
  8. A scale that weighs me, but doesn’t show my true value.
  9. A stack of books that I will one day read. I will. I know I will.
  10. Mistakes I’ve made. Too. Many. To. Count. Tomorrow is a new day. A “re-do”.
  11. Words were spoken out loud that shouldn’t have been. Why did I say that? Ask forgiveness.
  12. Tears shed. I have found that I cry a lot more than I used to. Sometimes sad tears, but a lot of times happy tears. I hope my heart is always tender.
  13. Eyes that squint when I smile. They are happy wrinkles that show the map of my life.
  14. A yard that looks like a bomb dropped on it. The bomb is in the form of a friendly, furry, collie mix that loves to dig and rip up plants by the roots and trot around the yard with the root ball still hanging out of his mouth like it is the first place prize. I am at peace with never having pretty flower beds.
  15. I like to be comfortable. Yes, I can dress up, but I find myself caring less and less about being fashion forward and more and more about eternal beauty.
  16. It is okay to say no to things. I need to do it more often.
  17. Sometimes it is fine to do nothing, as a matter of fact, it is necessary.
  18. Loving my husband. The one that will be there for me, after everyone else is grown and gone.
  19. I’m okay with reused and recycled. I like things that have a history.
  20. Relationships with family and friends…..the faces of the ones I love fill me until my heart overflows. Priceless.





I’m So Sleepy…

The blankets were pulled back, and the pillow fluffed. I was so ready for bed. On most days, by the time bedtime rolls around I am so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open. The busyness of life can be, and often is, draining. Don’t we all feel it?

I over-think. Over-stress. Over-worry. My head aches, my neck is sore, and if I sit for more than a few moments I will fall asleep. I need to keep going…….

What I really need is rest. Body relaxing, spirit rejuvenating, mind soothing, rest.

In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV

My Cup Runneth Over

The children, all of them so different, so special, so vibrant. I cherish the memories I have of them. On occasion, I will sift through those moments and gaze on the photos of them that I had snapped with my mind’s eye. I see their young faces, and if I am very still and listen I can still hear them……


“Mrs. Webb, these milk jugs stink. Are you sure we can use these?” (I, as a young novice teacher, was gathering milk jugs for an art project and had neglected to thoroughly rinse the plastic jugs. Shew. On to plan B!) Malisha was my helper that first year of teaching. A big heart and a big smile. Even as a nine-year-old, she knew everything about everybody in our small town. I loved that girl.

“Mrs. Webb!!!!!!” (Luke was severely intellectually disabled, but he knew his teacher.) He proceeded to run at me down the aisle of Walmart and tackle me to the ground in a hug. His parents were embarrassed by his display of affection, but I didn’t mind laying on the floor, staring up at Luke’s ecstatic face.  I was blessed to be so loved.

“Mrs. S, pat belly? Baby?” (Lori had Cri-du-Chat Syndrome and was intellectually disabled.) I was pregnant the entire year I had Lori in class. From the end of August through May. Lori was amazed by my growing baby bump. Her dear mother had explained to her there was a baby growing inside. When I left school three weeks before the end of the year to have my little boy, Lori’s mom asked if they could visit me in the hospital to see my son. It was the culmination of months of anticipation for his arrival. Her face, that sweet innocent face, as she stared in amazement.


“Listen, you $#%**#$@!! You can’t tell me what to do!” His little face was covered in snot, from a perpetually runny nose. He was only six years old but tough as nails. I always liked this little guy, even though he threatened my life on a regular basis. This little boy is now in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, and gang activity. It makes me sad. His little face haunts me. I often wonder what else could have been done.


“Raise the roof! Let’s give it up for Jesus!” Shea was a perpetual ball of ADHD energy, who would often interrupt my lessons with her impromptu come to Jesus meetings. She always made me laugh and drove me nuts too. How could you not love her? She was genuine and unfiltered. Boy, was she unfiltered!


“AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” His screams reverberated off the walls. This kindergartener had autism and he was in a full-blown meltdown. Throwing himself to the floor, kicking and screaming, and I felt helpless. He was overwhelmed and at the time, so was I. This little guy became one of my favs. He taught me a lot over the years I worked with him. All of my students on the autism spectrum brought something different to the table, and for that I am grateful. Each unique and special in their own ways. These kiddos were the beginning of my passion for this population.


The students I have been so very blessed to have in my life…through public school, homeschool, tutoring and consulting. Some for a short time, some for much longer….each left with a part of my heart. Each leaving an unforgettable impression on me. My cup runneth over.





The Autism Pandemic


Recently, I had a friend ask me a question about my thoughts on autism. Now, anyone that knows me, knows I have an opinion or two or a thousand about this particular subject. After mulling things over I have decided to write a blog post about it. I’ve written posts on autism in the past, but I’m going to do it again because I believe I need to share some important information. If this post does nothing else I do hope it makes my readers think.

I am going to write this post as if you are just reading my blog for the first time and don’t know me or know anything about my opinions. If you are a long-time reader, please just hang with me. Hopefully, you will also learn something new or at the very least this blog post will make you consider the truth about autism.

Before I begin I just want to say I do not wish to be offensive to anyone. That is not who I am, but I might say some things that people will be offended by. There is a difference. I know many individuals on the autism spectrum, some on the higher end and some on the lower end, and several in the in-between. I am friends with families that have been dealing with autism in the day to day. I am a grandmother to a grandson on the spectrum. Most days I don’t feel worthy to speak for them, but I hope they know my heart. There are as many different opinions in the autism community as there are people. Some individuals with high functioning autism (formerly Aspergers Syndrome) have no desire to be neurotypical and find it upsetting that people want to find a cure for something they do not consider a problem. Other families are struggling with children who are unable to talk, but scream at the top of their lungs as they beat their heads on the hard floor until they bleed. Children that won’t eat, or have extremely restricted diets and those whose guts are such a mess that severe diarrhea is an everyday thing. Kids who require physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language. The list goes on and on……


As a teenager, I knew I wanted to be a special education teacher. I grew up with an aunt with intellectual disabilities, born in the 1930’s. The doctor that delivered her told my grandma that she should be institutionalized. My grandma said no. When I was sixteen I was babysitting and helping with children that had Cystic Fibrosis, and Prater-Willi Syndrome. I volunteered for the Special Olympics. By the end of my junior year of high school, I only lacked two credits in order to be able to graduate. My senior year I took two classes first thing in the morning and spent the rest of the day at an independent study at the special education preschool next door. During the summers between my years of college, I worked in group homes for developmentally disabled adults, as well as summer camps for these same individuals. By the time I graduated in the spring of 1990, with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education, I had a lot of practical experience under my belt. Over the past twenty-eight years I have worked as a special education teacher, consultant, and passionate advocate in the mountains of rural Appalachia, an urban inner-city school with gang violence and drive-bys, suburban schools large and small, and now in the rolling farmland of the Mid-west. In the midst of all this, I also took some time (along with my work from home husband) to homeschool our three children so I also understand that educational choice. During these years I have worked with children with a myriad number of different diagnoses, from severe and life-altering to mild issues. Because of my passion for assisting students on the autism spectrum, I chose to go back and get a Master’s degree in special education with a graduate level certificate in autism spectrum disorders. Honestly, I would not have been able to get this certification in the past, certainly not when I was in my twenties or early thirties because this certification didn’t exist at that time. It has been fairly recently that concentrations in autism have come into existence. College and university educators are realizing that the astronomical increase in autism spectrum disorder diagnoses over the last three decades requires teachers to have an excellent working knowledge, passion for, and a will of steel to instruct and nurture these kiddos.


When I was in college in the late 1980’s, my professors did not talk much about autism. They were wonderful educators, but autism was rare and they didn’t think their students would have much opportunity to work with children on the spectrum. By the mid-1990’s I began getting students diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). PDD falls under the Autism Spectrum umbrella. Then I would get another student, and another student on the spectrum. My special education director sent me to conferences, I was asked to be a member of the Autism Peer Advisory Review Board (where special educators that worked with students with ASD, helped general education teachers to understand their students with autism and gave practical help/assistance) and my passion for this population began to grow.

In the late 1980’s autism was 1:10,000 children. Autism was considered a rare condition and most people, unless you were in the field, didn’t know much, if anything, about it.

According to the CDC, Children born in 1994 and who according to the 2002 CDC study had an ASD prevalence of around 1 in 150, probably started first grade in the fall of 2000.

And so starts the beginning of what would become a full-blown tsunami of children with autism spectrum disorders.

So, in roughly six or seven years children being diagnosed with autism went from 1:10,000 to 1:150. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in. Even if we say that over that time period diagnosis of autism was more accurate, that could only explain a small amount of the diagnosed children. I personally do not believe that the medical profession did such a horrible job of diagnosing these children. Maybe some, but I think that amount is on the lower end of the scale. Something happened during that time period. Something that was forever changing the lives of children…..


In 1983, children got 10 shots (birth to six years) and by 2013 the total of shots was between 36-38 (birth to six years). So, people (often well-intentioned, but uninformed) cannot say, “Well, you got all your shots and you are just fine.” Anyone born in the mid-1980’s and earlier did not have anywhere near the shots that children have today. This also does not even touch on the fact that vaccines are filled full of neurotoxic chemicals. Heavy metals such as mercury (in flu shots), and aluminum used as adjuvants (what makes your body have a reaction to the vaccine). Formaldehyde and Polysorbate 80 are poisonous. Formaldehyde is the chemical used in embalming! Some people will say, “A little bit can’t hurt, right?” “They wouldn’t put that in there if it were going to hurt anyone”. I don’t know about you, but I think poison is poison. It would be like you saying you are thirsty, and I give you a glass of water, but then I say, “Um….I put a drop of strychnine in there. It was only a drop, it shouldn’t hurt you right?”  That is crazy, right? That is what is happening with vaccines. The known neurotoxins that are in vaccines are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, cause inflammation, and all kinds of physical issues for our children. Think about this, studies show that this generation of children are sicker than any generation before them. Our children are afflicted with developmental disabilities (autism being one of them), ADHD, severe life-threatening allergies, asthma, diabetes and a plethora of auto-immune diseases.

In 1988 something changed.…..pharma companies that made the vaccines were no longer going to be liable for any vaccine injury. This was an open door for these massive companies to crank up the number of vaccines given to children. Vaccines are money in their pockets, the health of the children be damned.

In 1988, under U.S. Code 300aa-22 Standards of Responsibility it states, 1) No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings. 

The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is part of the CDC. According to their statistics, the prevalence of autism was at 1:250, 1:150, then 1:110, then 1:88, to 1:68. The 1:68 is based on 2010 data. In the meantime, 2013 showed 1:50 and in 2016, 1:36.  Anyone can look at these numbers and see there is definitely an increase in autism. The numbers are astronomical! These numbers of the children tracked by the CDC are terrifying. Yet, there are those in the autism community (parents, educators, medical professionals) that believe that the CDC stats are still too low.

Dr. Brian Hooker, a top vaccine scientist for the CDC, and whistleblower, states “CDC numbers are actually too low, and that the real rate of autism is much higher”.

What does this mean for us as a society, if we are currently at 1:36 children being diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum? Boys are 4.5-5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD, although girls, especially those who are higher functioning, tend to fly under the radar of diagnosis until they are much older. They might be the ones that seem a little odd or quirky, but try to fit in. The girls with higher functioning ASD, often do not have the major behaviors of the boys, and so they can go undiagnosed or self-diagnose when they are older.

MIT researcher Dr. Stephanie Seneff has stated that given current trends in autism diagnoses, she expected by the year 2025 half of all children with being diagnosed somewhere on the autism spectrum. 

In 2002, the CDC found evidence that might lead to understanding why young African-American boys were being increasingly diagnosed with autism…then they destroyed the evidence. Yes, you read that correctly. The CDC destroyed the evidence. The evidence that showed an increase in autism of these precious little ones, was thrown in the trash. That makes me angry!


Some people might say, “I want to see the evidence”. For those people I would show you the 145 peer reviewed medical/scientific research papers that currently show a link between vaccines and autism. This is not all the articles that are out there, but it is a start.

Honestly, I could write a book about this topic. I know it can be overwhelming, but I ask that you do your own research. Look up the information. Be informed. Ask questions. Dig deeper. The lives of our children will depend on it.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. -Edmund Burke