Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tulsa Workshop- Thank you!

Tulsa Workshop- Thank you!

I just finished up one of the most amazing experiences of my life- teaching a class with Dusty Rush at the 2011 Tulsa Workshop! Wow. Now THAT was an experience for a little girl from Viola Arkansas, population 326. There were more people in our classes than in the Viola Public School system when I graduated. Humbling, a great honor for sure.

(For all you Viola folks, you’ll not be surprised to hear that I kicked my heels off and told a story about wetting my pants in public while eating from a bag of beef jerky at a gas station. See? The city life hasn’t changed me a bit! : D )

Lots of you have asked me about cd’s of the class. I’m honored. This link will take you to the Workshop Multimedia site where the classes can be purchased. Our classes are CD 61 and CD 95.

Many thanks to Dusty Rush who is not just an incredible mentor but one of my best friends. Teaching with Dusty is absolutely one of my favorite things to do in the whole world. He is easy to work with, extremely wise and hysterically funny. 

Dusty is moving to Atlanta’s Campus Church to be their new minister in April. We will miss the entire Rush family desperately, but know that they will be warmly embraced at their new church home, that’s what makes it bearable. Many well wishes to Campus and the Rushes!

Thank you also to Terry Rush of Memorial Drive! I will always appreciate that he took a chance on me. Love you Terry and Mary!

 Thank you to John Dobbs, Janice Garrison, Mason Puckett, Steve Tucker, Carl Feril, Jennifer Alpers, Bobby Valentine, Shane Coffman, Tanya Gambill, Angie Burns, Lori Mize, Laura Cottongim, Tim Rush,  Amanda Bledsoe, Sheri Stephens, Nancy Woodall, Jamie Foster, Paula Harrington, Marilyn& James Sikes (my parents) who have listened to me continually talk since 1976, Roger Duvall, Crystal Rush, Jenny & Seth Simmons and Steve Floyd for the love and encouragement. Much love and thanks to UCC. You are an incredible people of God and I am blessed to call you family.

Kari Woodall took wonderful care of my boys. She is every mother’s dream sitter and beautiful child of God. Thank you Kari!

Final, greatest thanks goes to my husband Greg. Truly a blessing from God, he is my best friend and biggest fan, since 1989. He makes the good days great and the bad days bearable. You are by far, the funniest one in the Sanders House. Love you Babe.

What Joyce Left Behind

What Joyce Left Behind

Last night, after a long painful battle with cancer, my dear friend Joyce passed away from this earth. I wish I could sum up what she has meant to me. I can’t, there aren’t enough words and I won’t even try.

What I have been thinking of today, is one of the ways she affected my parenting. About three years ago, we were having one of our weekly, Chick Fil A lunches, when a brawl erupted from the kids play area. Parents went scrambling in and crying kids came pouring out. I was panicked myself for a moment, imagining that something terrible must have happened to cause such a huge fight between kids.

I was right. It was terrible. There on the bottom of the pile of fueding children, the absolute bottom, were my boys Zeke and Zack-Still scratching and biting!  Not only had they been involved in a Chick Fil A street fight, they started it…by hitting EACH OTHER. I was so angry and embarrassed, I could hardly breathe. The store manager wasnt’ exactly thrilled himself.

I escorted them back to the table. Each brother began immediately to plead his case and cast blame on the other. They were both bruised, bleeding from scratches and wailing. I was on the verge of a crying mad fit myself, when Joyce spoke up ”Boys, do you want to know what I think?”. They began bobbing their heads up and down sensing Joyce was about to settle this grave dispute for them. She leaned very close to them and said quietly,”I think you are some REALLY GOOD BOYS. And I also think you have learned your lesson and will NEVER again fight at a Chick Fil A.” 

What happened after she spoke, I will never forget. Something shifted. They immediately started to cry. They wrapped their little arms around each other, offering apologies and promises to never fight again. I felt my own anger evaporate. “Someday this will be funny” she whispered and smiled.

Joyce  taught me a powerful lesson that day in diffusing anger and speaking life over people. Calling out goodness in others is far more important than making sure someone has learned their lesson. Mercy trumps punishment, especially when most of us are already bruised and bleeding. What a wonderful lesson to leave behind, but that was Joyce- wonderful.

Roll With It

Roll With It

I rarely struggle with finding something to say to someone. If you knew me in real life, I bet you would agree.  However,  there are three people in this world who can leave me completely speechless…and I gave birth to all of them.  Zane, Zeke and Zack manage to throw me for a loop daily. It’s not so much what they do, although, I would be lying if I said that I am never surprised by the things they come up with. The parts of parenting that tend to  dumbfound me almost always involve something they have asked…or said…or yelled out in a very public arena.

 Because of Zane’s special needs, we struggle to find family activites that we all enjoy or can even tolerate together.  We have stumbled on to bowling and have been excited to find that Zane is a good bowler. I’m not exaggerating a bit when I say that to see him do a “typical” activity (well to boot) is thrilling. Breathtaking for us, in all honesty. It’s so monumental to us we sometimes react in unexpected ways.

On our first bowling trip Zane marched up to the ball return, grabbed a ball and threw it down the lane.  Then just as purposefully, he plopped down in his seat. The ball wasn’t even 3/4 of the way to it’s intended destination when he asked “MOM? Can I get a corn dog? It’s 12:30. I always eat at 12:30.”.  As soon as he asked, I heard a noise and looked down the lane to find he had knocked over every single pin.

My heart skipped a beat. I swelled with pride. He’s a bowler! Zane’s a bowler!  I’m not going to pretend I didn’t suddenly imagine him standing in a bowling alley in front of adoring crowds beneath a banner that said “Autism Doesn’t Stop Me!”. Camera’s flashing and Zane posing with a bowling ball to inspire others…it was all bouncing around in my head!

Sound like overkill? Well, that’s what it’s like to have a kid who struggles to do “normal” things. The completion of an everyday activity takes on greater importance. So it was with this fact in mind that I understand what prompted Zack’s exhuberance.

  The second the last pin fell over, Zack lept from his chair and screamed “TESTICLE!” . He began jumping up and down just like one of those people who win an new Toyota on the Price as Right. I had never seen him so happy before.  As luck would have it, everyone  in the place simultanteously decided to stop talking at once because Zack’s exclamation echoed all over the building.

Some giggled. Some frowned. It felt many eyes watching to see what I would do.

I wanted to get under my chair. It was a flimsy folding model and there was no way I could completely fit, so I ruled that out. Besides, Zane was pacing around, worrying (outloud) about the fact that it was 12:31 and a hotdog was not in his hand yet. Zeke was squirming around trying to decide if he should laugh or not. Zack was fully engaged in some sort of hip thrusting, happy dance over Zane’s strike in the middle of the room. We were causing enough of a scene without me burrowing under bowling alley furniture.

I wanted to say something…anything. I didn’t. I walked over and picked up my ball and pitched it down the lane. I tried to exude a “Nothing to see here folks. Move along” vibe. It worked. People went back to their game. Zane noted the time 12:34, no hotdog. Zeke bowled. We rolled with it.

After a while, I found some words “Son, we don’t scream out “ testicle”.  I understand you were excited but we don’t yell out body parts when we a happy. Okay?”. “Okay, Mom. But why not? Aren’t testicles good things?”.

Once again, I was at a loss. What should I say? Yes, testicles are good things. Still, we don’t scream it out. It makes others uncomfortable. It makes ME uncomfortable! That’s not how the world operates. Modesty, good manners, etc…

I took a deep breath. I looked down at his earnest little face and with all the wisdom I could muster I asked,  ”WHO WANTS A BOWLING ALLEY HOTDOG?!”.

Adventures in Autism: Puberty (groan)

Adventures in Autism: Puberty (groan)

Well, here we are. We have arrived to the point of time I have dreaded since learning Zane had Autism. He is in the beginning stages of puberty… and it sucks just as bad as I had feared it would.

He’s moody, pouty, full of bravado and accusation. He is also needy, confused and plagued by insecurity. Throw that all into the complicated mess of being Autistic, add in some other mental health issues and you have a perfect storm of misery for Zane and our family, most of the time.

The only way to survive Zane’s rocky transition into adulthood will be to hold on to God and my sense of humor. So with that, I give you a window into last Sunday afternoon.

Mom: Son, you are going to have to start shaving soon. (said with a smile, but a knot in stomach and sudden flashes of holding him as an infant)

Zane: “Weally?” (Really. He has a slight speech impediment)

Mom: “Yes! It won’t be long. (Thinking to myself, “Are we really going to turn him loose with a razor? Maybe some safety scissors from Target, instead. I can paint some flames on them. Maybe that would make him think they are cool?”)

Zane: Staring at my face intently. “Mom… Am I going to have a mustache like Dad’s…or yours?” (Slowly he reaches out and touches my mouth.)

Mom: “No Baby, you are going to have a big grown up man mustache like Daddy’s!” (Mentally clearing next week’s calendar for an upper lip wax)

Zane: “Oh! Thanks MOM!”- Exclaimed while checking out his budding facial hair in the passenger’s mirror.

Mom: “You’re welcome Son!” (Smiling,  but secretly thinking “Crap.”)