Groves of Lemon Trees

Do you ever hear or read someone’s story and afterwards feel totally thankful that your situation is not as harrowing? Maybe you read about someone’s difficulties and you feel compassion for them, but deep down you are relieved that you are not experiencing those things? Or maybe you read/watch/hear someone’s personal account that clicks with you and connects with you because you are experiencing something similar or it somehow resonates with you for one reason or another? Maybe you feel encouraged because you know you aren’t alone in the hard times? All of the above are just a few of the many reasons I started to write nearly four years ago.

I usually write whenever the inspiration hits. I’m not a “planner.” This can be good and it can be not so good. Usually I write because something reminds me of the imperfect world we live in. It’s kind of like the not so fun reminder makes me want to turn the negative circumstance into something refreshing, encouraging, and sweet. Something like lemonade. Sweet but maybe a little tangy. Like with lemonade, hopefully all the ingredients combine to make something real and refreshing. 

I learn as I go with writing. Sometimes I may add a little too much sugar. Other times I have a little too much lemon “tanginess” (is that a word?) Maybe I add too much water at times. Maybe sometimes though, the lemonade combination is just right. 😊

But one thing is for sure….I have groves and groves of the primary ingredient- lemons! God and life’s circumstances have ensured that I have an unending supply! It’s quite a beautiful grove, and at times I can not keep up with the abundance of the produce! Some of the lemons have gone to waste, due to limited time, limited resources, and being unable to handle the abundance. Yet many of the lemons have gone into making lemonade! Despite the variations in the different batches, my prayer is that it has all been real and refreshing. I pray the “lemonade” will continue to be that way.

I’ve decided to create a devotional from some of my “lemonade” so I am going to have to be a little more intentional about how I spend my writing time. I hope to still blog some, but I need to shift my focus to the devotional since my time and schedule can fill up quickly. The autism Mama life can be a busy one!

I pray that whatever circumstance life hands you, you’ll allow it to help you grow your grove or garden into something that will enrich, sustain, and refresh others. 

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Groundhog Day and Autism

(Originally shared last year on 2/1/21.)

I know I share a lot about autism and yes it is probably because we deal with it on a daily basis. I wanted to share the following, not because I feel sorry for myself or because we’re having a harder time than usual dealing with Landon’s disability. I wanted to share it because I think it’s a pretty profound and very good example of how it feels to live with a child with autism. I’ve honestly never heard such a good analogy. The analogy is “having a child with autism is like living in the movie Groundhog Day.”

Awhile back I began reading a book which was recommended to Murry and I called Wrestling With An Angel (Greg Lucas). It is an excellent book written by a police officer who has a severely disabled son. If you are interested in seeing what it really is like living with a child with a disability, this is a great book to read. (Note: This is not a feel good book and kinda heavy, but very authentic and you might need some Kleenex if you do read it.) I guess the Groundhog Day analogy is a bit more light-hearted but super good and true!

A family member sent us the Welcome to Holland Poem awhile back and Murry wrote the following after reading the poem. I thought it was so good!!! Raising a child with autism is almost identical to living in Groundhog Day each and every day. We are so thankful for the encouragement, prayers, help and support we have received along this journey of having a child with a disability.

The following is what Murry wrote:

If you haven’t read WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley, I encourage you to read the long unabridged version. It is really good. 

However, I would liken our autism experience allegorically (not exactly of course) to Punxsutawney PA… specifically in the movie Groundhog Day. It is never a vacation… Holland or Italy doesn’t exist.  You are there to work. Like in the movie you realize that you were meant to learn that it isn’t about you and your dreams… you were meant to help others.   

Yet, in this world you learn that you will always be stuck in the same day even if you learn your lesson… whatever it is. Lol..  Knowing you will never see Holland or Italy… you are always in Punxsutawney. 

There are a lot of good things. You learn to play piano (or musical chairs), take CPR (literally for your child’s sake), save other people falling from trees (or autism panic and in other dark places)… hoping that you will do your part leading people to Heaven than you otherwise would. 

Also there are great people in Punxsutawney that are loving and helpful. But most of those people don’t know they are in Groundhog Day. Only those who are also living with a child with autism. 

If you know of someone who needs encouragement or someone to talk to please call a Christian who has a child with autism. We have had those people in our lives. They are always encouraging, always finding God in everything, and NOT always having the all answers… but knowing that He does. 

Your friend,

Tiffany

A Healthy, Realistic Balance

A patient man is better than one strong; and he that can rule himself, has more worth than he that winneth a city.

Proverbs 16:32

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”

Hebrews 3:13

Have you ever been around a person who was completely negative? I don’t mean they had a bad day or were going through something hard and venting about it. I mean an Eeyore type of person. (Eeyore, was the fictional character, a donkey, in Winnie-the-Pooh.) These type of people can never find anything good to talk about in life, and are constantly moping or complaining. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m drawn to these types. I want to be a friend to them, to encourage them. While I can be a friend to them, encourage and help them, etc., it’s ultimately up to the person, with God’s help, to become a healthy, balanced person.

(Note: I am not referring to someone who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. These are very real health issues and should ALWAYS be addressed with compassion, love, and by  those who are trained in this area. I hope to write some on mental health and Christians at some point in the future. It is an issue I feel strongly about).

So, being an Eeyore type is one end of the spectrum, but what about the other end? The people who are sickeningly sweet. The ones who you can’t talk to without getting a three point sermon on why your life is awesome. These types almost sing a musical for you every time you encounter them! This well-meaning type tends to lecture you, all in a positive way of course, about all the wonderful aspects of life. This seems good, but the problem is this type can never ever mention anything that is not positive! For example, if you called this type to say you were sick with Covid and couldn’t make it to dinner, they would reply “How wonderful! I just know you’ll be fine and it’s actually good that you have Covid to naturally boost your immunities!” 

Their favorite phrases are probably “HOW WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!” and “AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!”

This type can never acknowledge a negative occurrence in life. They can never admit “well this stinks.” While this person sounds “positive”, the problem with this is in refusing to acknowledge the negative circumstance, they can never really empathize or even sympathize with others. They are out of touch with the reality that negatives happen and need to be acknowledged.

Of course I will not name names, but I have actually encountered both of these kinds of people in life- the Eeyores,  and the Mary Poppins of the world. If each of these types would move more toward the middle of the continuum, they would be so much more palatable! They would honestly be effective, loving and lovable friends. But unless they get a grip on their attitude, they will remain completely detached from reality! The reality that life is filled with positives and negatives. (For those that are Christians- I know that in the end, in Heaven, life will be free from ALL negatives, but if we can’t be in touch with the reality of the present and the problems/blessings others experience right here and now how can we expect to be an effective friend or example?)

I love those in life who are just real, you know? They experience the full range of emotions as situations in life occur and they share it- the good and the bad- and remain strong, humble, resilient, far from perfect, beautiful souls! I hope to be that way. I want to be that way- relatable- on the good and bad days. I hope to be able to understand what others are going through (in the hard times), yet be a source of encouragement and positivity. Realistic and never fake. In the middle of the continuum. Always. Like the Velveteen Rabbit. (Except maybe not with my eyes dropping out and getting too loose in the joints. 😊)

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

Blessings today and every day.

Your friend,

Tiffany

An Encouraging Thought

I originally posted the following blog a little over two years ago. Lately, I’ve been thinking a good bit about purpose…probably because of the new year, discussions about resolutions, etc. There have been times when I struggled with purpose and understanding the “whys“ of life. The thought came to mind more than once lately of how much I’m encouraged and even inspired by those who share their stories, struggles, and how they’ve made it through hard circumstances with God’s help. I’ve been blown away at times by others sharing how something I’ve shared has encouraged them! It’s totally God’s hand at work-nothing I’ve accomplished alone.

Today I want to encourage you, yes you, to continue to share your story- in writing or otherwise. While you are doing so, look for the little ways God reveals He is at work in your life. You may be shocked at just how real and ever present He is. Don’t worry if you are in a season like Frodo where he ”wished the Ring had never come to him.” We don’t always get to choose the situations that come to us in this life, but God promises to use the hardest of circumstances for His glory, if we will allow Him to! I hope you enjoy the following and pray you experience God’s presence continually no matter the circumstance. Blessings!

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)

My husband and two older kids were watching Lord of the Rings recently, and this quote caught my attention, again. I remember it making an impression on me the first time I watched The Fellowship of the Ring, and this time I stopped again when I heard it and reflected on the meaning. We don’t get to choose what circumstances life throws at us at times. It reminds me of a cross stitched quote my mother had hanging in her bedroom years ago. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you’re like me, just thinking of that makes you nervous! How will we know what to accept and what to change? The answer is in trust.

We often don’t get to decide what cards we are dealt in life. Sometimes the game of life seems to deal us good cards, and sometimes it feels like we get only the bad. We want to fix everything, to make everything right, but that is not always possible. Some things cannot be changed no matter what we do. If we’ve prayed about it, and are following God’s leading, really all we can do is trust God and keep moving forward.  We don’t have to worry about deciding what will and won’t happen in our lives, we can leave it up to God! Let Him decide that, let Him allow the things He wants to happen in your life. All we have to do is use the time, talents, and treasures He has given us. Is it easy? No! Do we always understand? No! Did God allow the circumstances that are happening in your life right now? Yes! All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Time. Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging and flying at the same time. It’s what our lives are made of. We only have a limited amount- say 100 years if we’re lucky. Not to sound all gloom and doom, but life goes by faster than we think and we really don’t know how much time we have here.

All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us”.

That makes me not want to waste time doing unimportant things. It makes me want to be kinder, to love and give more. To not worry as much. To make sure I’m fulfilling God’s purpose in my life.

I love the way Sam, Frodo’s friend, stays with Frodo throughout his journey with the ring. Whether Frodo fully realizes Sam’s devotion or not, it is obvious to the viewer that Sam is a true and loyal friend. I think Sam is a reminder that God sends encouragement when we need it and He makes sure we know we aren’t ever alone.

The situation we find ourselves in that we have no control over was meant to happen. Remembering that brings us peace. It will all make sense eventually, if not in this life, in the one to come!

There is hope and joy in simply knowing you are living out your purpose. It was hard for Frodo to see the hope and joy in his situation when he was carrying the heavy burden of the ring. We all have a burden of some sort. Think about what burden you “wish had never come to you”.

All the human emotions you feel are normal. But remember, there are other forces at work besides the bad ones, there is good at work, too! God is in control of our lives if we’ve put our trust in Him. Our “burden” didn’t catch Him off guard or take him by surprise. He’s working when we can’t even see it and “that is an encouraging thought”.  

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” 

Your friend,

Tiffany

An Encouraging Thought

I originally posted the following blog a little over two years ago. Lately, I’ve been thinking a good bit about purpose…probably because of the new year, discussions about resolutions, etc. There have been times when I struggled with purpose and understanding the “whys“ of life. The thought came to mind more than once lately of how much I’m encouraged and even inspired by those who share their stories, struggles, and how they’ve made it through hard circumstances with God’s help. I’ve been blown away at times by others sharing how something I’ve shared has encouraged them! It’s totally God’s hand at work-nothing I’ve accomplished alone.

Today I want to encourage you, yes you, to continue to share your story- in writing or otherwise. While you are doing so, look for the little ways God reveals He is at work in your life. You may be shocked at just how real and ever present He is. Don’t worry if you are in a season like Frodo where he ”wished the Ring had never come to him.” We don’t always get to choose the situations that come to us in this life, but God promises to use the hardest of circumstances for His glory, if we will allow Him to! I hope you enjoy the following and pray you experience God’s presence continually no matter the circumstance. Blessings!

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)

My husband and two older kids were watching Lord of the Rings recently, and this quote caught my attention, again. I remember it making an impression on me the first time I watched The Fellowship of the Ring, and this time I stopped again when I heard it and reflected on the meaning. We don’t get to choose what circumstances life throws at us at times. It reminds me of a cross stitched quote my mother had hanging in her bedroom years ago. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you’re like me, just thinking of that makes you nervous! How will we know what to accept and what to change? The answer is in trust.

We often don’t get to decide what cards we are dealt in life. Sometimes the game of life seems to deal us good cards, and sometimes it feels like we get only the bad. We want to fix everything, to make everything right, but that is not always possible. Some things cannot be changed no matter what we do. If we’ve prayed about it, and are following God’s leading, really all we can do is trust God and keep moving forward.  We don’t have to worry about deciding what will and won’t happen in our lives, we can leave it up to God! Let Him decide that, let Him allow the things He wants to happen in your life. All we have to do is use the time, talents, and treasures He has given us. Is it easy? No! Do we always understand? No! Did God allow the circumstances that are happening in your life right now? Yes! All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Time. Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging and flying at the same time. It’s what our lives are made of. We only have a limited amount- say 100 years if we’re lucky. Not to sound all gloom and doom, but life goes by faster than we think and we really don’t know how much time we have here.

All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us”.

That makes me not want to waste time doing unimportant things. It makes me want to be kinder, to love and give more. To not worry as much. To make sure I’m fulfilling God’s purpose in my life.

I love the way Sam, Frodo’s friend, stays with Frodo throughout his journey with the ring. Whether Frodo fully realizes Sam’s devotion or not, it is obvious to the viewer that Sam is a true and loyal friend. I think Sam is a reminder that God sends encouragement when we need it and He makes sure we know we aren’t ever alone.

The situation we find ourselves in that we have no control over was meant to happen. Remembering that brings us peace. It will all make sense eventually, if not in this life, in the one to come!

There is hope and joy in simply knowing you are living out your purpose. It was hard for Frodo to see the hope and joy in his situation when he was carrying the heavy burden of the ring. We all have a burden of some sort. Think about what burden you “wish had never come to you”.

All the human emotions you feel are normal. But remember, there are other forces at work besides the bad ones, there is good at work, too! God is in control of our lives if we’ve put our trust in Him. Our “burden” didn’t catch Him off guard or take him by surprise. He’s working when we can’t even see it and “that is an encouraging thought”.  

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” 

Your friend,

Tiffany