Not Always Nothingness


We had completed our outdoor chores just as the day was coming to a close. He had been tasked with leaf raking. His sisters were in charge of distributing the leaves around the plants. I found him sitting on the ground, silent, staring out into seemingly nothingness. I’ve seen him this way multiple times before. He said nothing, never even acknowledged my presence as I approached him. His arms bare, bright red shirt with classic humorous phrase on it, he has always liked shirts that seem to speak for him, for his words are few, they always have been. As I sat down in the grass beside him, I followed his gaze. Nothingness it seemed was in fact the beginning of a beautiful sunset. The blue sky sinking into streaks of pink and orange. Bare trees silhouetted in front of the colorful display. He sat silent and motionless.

I always struggle this time of year. I have for as long as I can remember. When the days are cold and darkness comes early, I tend to give way to feelings of sadness. Maybe sadness isn’t the right word, melancholy perhaps. I have read that many of History’s creative types were prone to bouts of “melancholy”. I take a little comfort in knowing I’m in good company. I find myself struggling until the buttercups begin to show themselves. They are the first to usher in spring and with it warmer days.

As we sat there staring I became acutely aware that the bare trees made me uncomfortable. Their leaves long gone, the deciduous giants looked oddly vulnerable. As the word floated through my mind, I began to ponder. How in the world could something so seemingly strong be vulnerable? Maybe that is why I do not like to look at the trees, perhaps I think that if I am seeing them in that state of nakedness then I am invading them somehow. As we sat there thinking of such things I made a “Hmph” sound. He looked at me, he said nothing. I spoke.

“Hey Bud. What do you think of the trees with no leaves?”

The world calls him autistic. I call him awesome. Some would call us cursed. I call us blessed. Many years ago I mourned what the world calls normal, I mourned what I knew would never be. Atypical. We had answers but in the answer there were an infinite number of questions and uncertainties. I never really told anyone at the time of my grief. I hid it. My fear would exit myself in the form of anger or anxiety. Sometimes it still does. He spoke, his characteristic, loud monotone voice like music to my ears.


“They’re okay? They don’t bother you?”


“They sort of bother me.”

“Why?” Clearly he was puzzled. How could I be bothered by something so abstract yet so finite?

“They seem sort of naked or something.”

“But won’t they be back? They always come back.” The leaves were the “they” to whom he was referring.

“Yes. In the spring, when everything starts to grow again. The trees lose their leaves in the fall, they go to the ground and compost down into the soil.”

“Well that’s good.”

“It is, I reckon.”

“If the leaves were there we couldn’t see that bird or squirrel.” I hadn’t noticed them but there they were, doing whatever it is birds and squirrels do in trees on cool days. Scurrying about being an adventuresome bird and resourceful squirrel. They had captured his attention long before I sat down.

In the vulnerability the trees had allowed a part of themselves to be seen that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. To capture the attention of one of the most unique of thinkers. In their vulnerability and loss they were life-giving and were now able to ready themselves for new life and new growth. He had seen that I had missed it entirely. As we sat there in silence watching our new-found friends against the backdrop of God’s paintbrush, I gave thanks for a new perspective, for the reminder that joy comes not from my circumstances around me, but from within. I gave thanks for a unique and amazing boy and his insight into the things that go beyond the naked eye and that in vulnerability there is healing and life renewed.


Unrealistic Expectations

by Gina Mayfield

Recently we celebrated my daughter’s second birthday party. As a lot of moms do I began scouring the internet at party planning blogs and Pinterest to get ideas on what kind of theme to do. After a lot of searching I settled on a milk and cookies theme – cute and simple…or so I thought. I mean, how hard can it be to bake cookies and buy milk – right? pinterestlogo2With the help of ladies from work I gathered my cute containers (similar to the ones I had seen on Pinterest) and set out to plan my menu for the perfect milk and cookies party! I settled on eight different types of cookies, three types of milk, Oreo ice cream dessert and a birthday cake. Easy peasy…or so I thought.

As I was settling into the cookie baking I decided to start with chocolate chip cookies. I set out with my Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe and my mixer and went to baking. When I pulled them out of the oven – it was a giant cookie mess! They were not cookies, they were more of a cookie sheet as they had all combined together. I tried again and sat by the oven to watch – same result, tried again, same. I thought maybe it was the recipe so I decided to try another chocolate chip cookie recipe and that didn’t work either. At that point, I was losing it! It was over – I was not going to be able to pull this party off. I might as well go and purchase cookie dough. I threw those in the garbage and started on my other cookies and thankfully they all turned out well….and my chocolate chip cookies were made from cookie dough.



As I was having my cookie debacle the Lord began to speak to me, ” Gina – you have let impressing others with your cute party make you lose sight of everything. Lose sight of honoring and celebrating your little girl, lose sight of having people in your home and entertaining them and lose sight of Me. I have called you to love Me and love others not impress others with your parties”.

I know I am not the only one has let social media make you a crazy mess! But, why do we do it? Why do we make ourselves crazy in order to impress others? Why do we let comparison creep up on us? Why do we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves? 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. We need to be authentic with each other and stop the ugly comparison game. Some people can pull off gourmet meals and smock beautiful dresses and that is ok if I cannot do that. Instead of slamming myself for not being able to do that I can thank God for the gifts He has blessed those ladies with and thank Him for the gifts He has given me. My focus should be serving my family and friends but most of all be transformed into His image.

I’m learning that it’s often the little things that speak love to my friends and family most. It’s abandoning the dishes to play with my little girl. It’s making myself stay up late and watch that football game with my husband. It’s an impromptu visit to the park with friends. It’s being available.

While I’ll still try to make things pretty and creative, it’s not going to be my focus. My goal every day should be to show love to my friends and family instead of planning that Pinterest spectacular birthday party. When I am faced with the temptation to compare myself to the glories of others, I’m going to contemplate on the glory of God instead.


Messy Monday Milkshake Madness

Image result for Jack's milkshake

by Kim Hamm

The month of April came and went like a whirlwind. It came in and turned our house upside down. After ten years, it was time to do some home repairs and remodeling. Everything we owned was moved out of the house and stored in the basement and garage so that the work could get done without interruptions. Needless to say, five people living in the basement for three weeks can cause quite a few stressful moments! There were many “spilled milkshake” days.

Let me explain. It had already been a very stressful weekend. Let’s face it. Getting ready for church on a normal Sunday can be a challenge but when all the clothes that your entire family own are dumped in the basement, it can be downright scary. Our new living arrangement started off nice and orderly. All of the clothes were stacked in neat piles and everyone had their own area to keep all their “stuff” organized as much as possible. The problem was that after three weeks of stacking everything neatly and living out of storage bags and bins, all the mountains of clothes started falling. Everything became a huge mess. So, to get the week started off right, after school on Monday, I decided to go through Jack’s drive through and get Kayla and myself a delicious milkshake.

We were having a great time talking, singing to the radio, and enjoying our milkshakes when it happened. As I turned onto our street, Kayla’s milkshake spilled … no, exploded everywhere! One moment I can see beautiful blue skies. The next moment all I can see is milkshake running everywhere. It was dripping down the front of my windshield and onto my dashboard. It was running down my face from the top of my head. I couldn’t see so I immediately turned on my wipers which did nothing to help the situation because, obviously, the milkshake was on the inside, but who can think logically when a milkshake has exploded all over the inside of your car … not me! We had no napkins (I can never remember to ask for them when I need them) so I started grabbing jackets from the backseat to throw on my dashboard to absorb the gooey, sticky mess. I pulled into a driveway and sat there with milkshake in my hair and all over the car. Kayla and I just stared at each in shock and disbelief.

I would like to say that I remained calm and cool at that moment, but I would be lying. I let out a scream, more out of shock than anger. I could just imagine my car smelling like sour milk all summer long. As I looked at Kayla, I only said two words … “How?” and “Why?” I wasn’t really expecting her to give me an answer because how can you explain an unexplainable accident. She just shrugged her shoulders in confusion as milkshake dripped off our hair and faces. Later, as I was cleaning up the milkshake mess, it hit me.

The entire month of April we had been living in a messy state of total disorder and displacement. All of our family routines were halted and our lives were thrown into chaos, mess, disorder and stress. It was just like the messy milkshake that had been thrown all over my car. I realized that life is exactly like that milkshake explosion – messy, unexpected, surprising, stressful, exciting, and chaotic. When you are in the middle of a terribly difficult situation, you can’t see the end results. That’s when you have to let out a scream of frustration (at least I did) and then put your car back in drive and just keep going forward.

Whatever situation you may be dealing with this week, this month, this year, be encouraged that this challenging season will not last forever. You may not know the outcome today, but you can rest assured that God can use any messy, frustrating situation to grow and mature us. Today, as Kayla and I look back on our messy Monday milkshake madness, we can both laugh. Why now and not in the moment of the madness … because God has a way of changing our perspective on the other side of the mess! Don’t give up when you are sitting in the driver’s seat, but you can’t see where you are going. Just let go and let God take control while you wipe the milkshake from your eyes.

Psalm 37:23-24, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”