Zip It!

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So, I am currently in a Women’s Bible study group. We are reading through Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman. The book is good, in the sense that it causes me to think, consider, and well…..learn to keep my mouth shut. There is a time and place for everything, and quite frankly just because I am thinking something, doesn’t mean I need to say it. Is what I am saying truly beneficial? Is it helpful to others? Am I speaking truth? Or are my motives more about being right, and having the last word? Yes, admit it. We have all been there! The truth is, I might legitimately be right and my words valid, but that doesn’t mean I need to use my words like a sledge hammer.

Let’s make no mistake about it. Words have power. They can build another up or destroy. Words can decimate, far greater than a sword. We have all probably had experiences where someone said something that hurt us, and we carry the scars of how those words made us feel, even years later. I remember words a friend’s older brother said about me, when I was just ten years old. The teenage boy’s thoughtless words probably meant nothing to him, but cut me deeply.

I do not want to be that person. The one whose words sting.

I can be wise when I choose what words to say……or not say.

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning.  Proverbs 10:12-13a NIV

 

 

It’s Fall, Y’all!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”……. okay, so that line from a song is the wrong season, whatever. I am so happy that it is Fall. The other night I watched geese fly overhead in their typical V formation. The soybean fields surrounding my house are turning yellow. (Yes, soybean plants are beautiful in the Fall—unlike corn stalks, which get brown and dry before harvest.) The leaves here, are just barely starting to fade from their summer glory. The nights are cooler. Speaking of weather, I am not pleased that today, the first day of Fall, is supposed to be 87 degrees. What is with that? I am unable to wear all my super cozy sweaters when it is that warm! I still have a box fan going in the house—even with all my Fall decorations now in place, around the house. I am ready to burn my apple/pumpkin/cinnamon candles. Being the weather geek that I am, I watch my local meteorologist every night, live on Facebook, who is kind enough to give all us weather geeks the details. He said Ohio is going to remain in the 80’s well into October. Noooooooooo!!! That just isn’t right, people.

Here is a post from my archives……enjoy it while you sip some hot coffee (or if you are in the same overly warm circumstance as I am….iced coffee).

Fall Montage

This is what I love… My favorite season of the year…

This is what I’m looking forward to seeing, I can’t wait!

This is a visual montage of what Fall means to me…

I love Autumn- Yes, I do!

I love Autumn-How ’bout you?

 

 

That Day

The years have come and gone. New buildings have taken the place of the old. People still fly across the country, albeit with more scans and body checks. Children have grown up. Life goes on. And yet……the memories of that horrible day, mixed with heroism, and the ultimate sacrifice of so many, remains. Although no longer as visible, there is a ragged scar, left on this country’s memory. It is a reminder of that fateful day, fifteen years ago. The day that so much changed….

A DIFFERENT WORLD

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

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The day was normal. Just like any other. Elementary school children chattering with each other. My teaching assistant and I were working with our reading groups on that Tuesday morning. A sunny day, nothing out of the ordinary…and then a fellow teacher popped into my classroom to tell me to go and watch theTV in the school conference room. I excused myself, leaving my kiddos with my assistant for a minute.

I stared at the television, not comprehending what I was looking at. The plane, the World Trade Center, the fire and smoke. People everywhere. The second plane hitting the building. News anchors eerily silent as, even they, had no words for what they were seeing. Chills ran across me as I stared in disbelief.

I numbly walked back to my classroom. Knowing that life was different now.

I told my assistant to go to the conference room.

I looked at the faces of all my young students and realized that life as we knew it would never be the same. These children would grow up in a different world than I had.

And it made me so sad.

September 11, 2001 — We Remember

Kicking and Screaming

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Sometimes in life I find myself saying NO. No, to the way things have worked out. No, to plans not going my way. No, to living in the midst of the mess.

I tell myself, I deserve for things to go my way. Right?  I’ve already been through so much.

Unfortunately, many times, God has to pull me, kicking and screaming, into His plan. I only see my problems, but God in his infinite wisdom has already provided my Salvation…..for  anything I face today, tomorrow, ever.

In this intricately embroidered tapestry of life, I often see the frayed edges, loose strings and ugly knots, but God sees the beauty of His work. He views the bigger picture with all its vivid colors, interwoven relationships, and perfect plan.

Everyone knows there are challenges in this life. Some of those challenges are small daily obstacles, and others are seemingly insurmountable, but for those of us that are followers of Christ, I remind you, as I also remind myself, of Jesus’ words……..
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

His words make a difference.

They give hope.

They are life.

 

 

Will You Pray For Me?

IMG_2026.JPGThe whispered words are often spoken in the quiet….the question hanging in the air, being held there by the trials of this life.  Will you pray for me? Sometimes, the person can’t remain quiet, and instead of a soft plea, the words tumble out in frantic desperation. Will you pray for me? Hearts crack wide open, gushing pain, and fear, and sorrow. When our world feels as if it is leaning too far to one side, and it makes us sick with all the unknowns, we often ask, will you pray for me?

Or maybe, we don’t. Maybe we don’t tell. Maybe we don’t ask. Maybe we feel like our problems aren’t big enough to be prayed about. Or are not worthy enough of prayer. Could it be we are scared to let anyone know our struggles….because if we do, they might think less of us? How many have the mistaken idea that being a Christian means always having it all together? That we can’t share our hurts, our need for prayer…that we need to be strong, toughen up, and hold it in.

This week alone, I’ve had several friends and family tell me of their friends and family who are in need of prayer. A young child, chronically ill, requiring life changing surgery. Parents desperate for healing. A mother of young children just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has already begun to spread. Children heading back to school, parents hoping all goes well when their children are away. Safe travel. An upcoming wedding. A child whose cancer has returned. A freak accident that never should have happened…but, it did. A family member that has passed away. A child about to be born. So many things, almost overwhelming……… Almost.

But, those of us that are followers of Jesus Christ, adopted into God’s family, can bring our hurts, our joys, our concerns, and our uncertainties directly to Him. The Creator of the universe, the One who calls all the stars by name, the One who created life from nothing…..big enough for all of time and eternity…..and yet close enough to hear His children when they call out “Abba (Daddy), Father!”  He hears us. He sees us. He knows us. Even when we cannot put into words all the heaviness we hold in our hearts….He understands.

Some people have the mistaken idea that prayer is a passive thing. That it is a last resort. Instead of what it truly is…..the incredible opportunity to talk to the Almighty.

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8: 26-27 NIV

Be Changed

The other morning I was driving the back country roads with no other cars in sight, on my way to a meeting at the next town over. As always, I was mesmerized by the blue sky, white fluffy clouds and the vastness of the sky out here. The fields, were vivid green with corn and soybean. The landscape dotted with white farmhouses and red barns. On mornings such as this, the world looks like a picture postcard of country living. I took that moment to thank God. Saying “thank you” is so simple, and yet, so profound.

In acknowledging the beauty of nature, I am, in fact, acknowledging the beauty and creativity of the Creator of it all. It is He, that is the giver of gifts.

Instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong, or uncomfortable, or boring in life, I choose to focus on the good. Make no mistake, choosing thankfulness is always a choice. When I focus on the problems, life can seem so small. It makes me feel grouchy and short with others, and causes worry. When I fill my mind with gratitude and thanksgiving, my world might not change, but I most definitely do. Might that be the reason why God tells us over and over again in His Word, to give thanks? So that we can experience, the joy?

Being thankful changes my perspective, and it changes me. I find myself much more appreciative of my life and all that is in it.  I’m not perfect, nor is my life. I’ve had my share of wonderful experiences and painful tragedies in the forty-eight years I’ve walked this earth. This day, choose to walk through your life with your hands open to receive all the gifts that God daily gives…….and, be changed.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

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Where On The Continuum?

 

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Those of you that know me personally, or have been reading my blog for some time, are aware that I am a special education teacher and an independent special education consultant. I have a myriad number of friends with children that have some type of diagnosis. I grew up with an aunt with intellectual disabilities, and have a grandson on the autism spectrum. I have an online page for parents of children that have various special needs, and am co-founder of a parent networking and support group. I tell you all these things, not to give you a list of my credentials, but to let you know, when I speak about special education, it is from years of experience. My passion and drive has always been to educate an advocate for those individuals with disabilities, and their families.

I am “back in school” to get my Master’s degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders. My classes on transition, collaboration, and behavior have validated a lot of what I have thought for years. The other day, during class discussion, we were going back and forth about the “Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)” continuum. The continuum being from very restrictive, such as individuals living in an institution, to the very least restrictive, when children (with disability diagnoses) are in their general education classes with only a minimum of supports.

I read an article the other day, written by a mother of two children. One diagnosed with Down Syndrome and one not. The article discussed how she wanted her child with DS to have full inclusion. The author believes, in her opinion, that all children, regardless of (dis)ability, should have a fully inclusive experience at school.

Her article made me wonder. Do all parents feel this way? Is full inclusion really the best education, regardless of diagnosis, for all children? Is being with “typical” peers, using the same general curriculum, always the most appropriate learning for all involved? I took this topic to my online page for parents. Those that replied to the discussion, had some interesting perspectives. Parents told of their children, that are in full inclusion, getting in trouble frequently, and often requiring, but not receiving, more sensory breaks. Others talked about a mixture of “pull out” special ed classes and general ed, while others wanted their children out of the general ed classroom altogether, because their child was being bullied. This parent spoke, of feeling her child was safer in a special education classroom. I believe all these parents wished full inclusion would work, but unfortunately that often isn’t the reality. Maybe some of my readers  have children in full inclusion and it is working. I’d love to hear your stories.

Special education has come a long way since the enactment of Public Law 94-142, The Education of All Handicapped Children Act, forty-one years ago. Reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, over the last twenty-six years have created more opportunities for those students with disabilities, and their families. Before 1975, special education services were hit and miss. Some students, who desperately needed services, didn’t get anything at all. Even with all the good that has occurred since this time, there is still a long way to go……….

I am a firm believer in everyone having a voice. I believe in real collaboration, working together to form solutions that will be good for all involved. Do I expect perfection? Absolutely not. I doubt anything will ever be perfect……but, it can be better. Here are some questions I think about, not because I have all the answers, but because I think we need to think about these issues and consider the implications. In this way we (the families, student, schools) can make the best choices possible. Isn’t that what special education should be about?

  1. Is full inclusion always appropriate if a child is unable to work at their grade level? Should we alter the integrity of grade level curriculum in that classroom? Or are modifications always okay? How many accommodations/supports are too many to still be considered for full inclusion?
  2. Is having a special education teacher in the general education classroom for one or two academics, enough?  Does working with the special ed teacher, in the general ed classroom, make the child feel even more different? Is working one on one or in smaller groups in a special ed. classroom, wrong?
  3. What about all the non-academic activities? Some students have difficulty during unstructured times. Some students require more sensory breaks. Some students require a person to teach them and daily practice with them, social skills.
  4. Is is right to expect a general education teacher (who might have only had to take one or two special ed. classes to get their degree) to understand a myriad number of disabilities their students could have? Can we expect them to be proactive instead of reactive in their classroom behavior management? Is it fair and equitable to treat all the children the same? Does fair always mean equal?
  5. How do we keep students from being unkind to each other? Do we talk about a student’s disability to the class? In order to help the class understand “why” a student might act the way he/she does?
  6. Should the student who has a severe intellectual disability, be subjected to taking standardized tests at their grade level? (For example, should a fourteen year old with the cognitive ability of a toddler be expected to take an eighth grade test? And if so, why? How will the results even be close to any kind of accuracy?)
  7. Should a teenager with high functioning autism have less supports in his general ed classes, because he “doesn’t look like he has autism” and “we don’t want him labeled”?
  8. Is overlooking a student’s true needs, an inherent danger in inclusion, because sometimes a student doesn’t “look” like he/she needs special ed services/supports? (whatever that is supposed to mean)
  9. If/When do the rights of a child with special needs carry more weight, than a child who does not have special needs?
  10. Are we making decisions now that will ultimately benefit the student after he/she graduates? Shouldn’t all of school be preparation for life after graduation? Especially, with teenagers, how to we make sure our children will have a smooth transition?

Blog readers, what do you think? I would be interested to hear your opinions, your experiences……