Joy no matter what. A blog by Deanne Nelson.

Blogging, Speaking, and Writing | Jesus and Autism | The Nelson Family Journey

The Little Things Do Matter April 9, 2013

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Last October my husband Grant and I celebrated sixteen years of wedded bliss. There might be just a touch of sarcasm with the bliss part, but I do cherish my marriage and that man. I recall the day he proposed and placed an engagement ring on my finger. It was a BIG deal, and I caught myself looking at that diamond many times a day. Sometimes I would exaggerate mannerisms with my left hand just so others could see and enjoy it too! In time, I must admit that I stopped appreciating that diamond, and in recent years I had pretty much stopped noticing it all together. Now I love my husband more with every year; I truly know that. I credit the Lord God who has the power to make all things new with that miracle. But I have been a poor possessor of my wedding ring, as I have not cared for it as I should. It somehow became a small thing in my life of big worries, and I took it for granted.  I know this because one day my diamond went missing. Even more, I was not the one who noticed that the diamond was gone. I was at the hospital working a RN shift in the ER when a coworker asked me where the diamond in my ring was. I was horrified to look down at my left ring finger only to find empty prongs where a diamond once was. Now, my ring was very modest. The diamond was smaller than a pea, but it was my diamond and what it signified in my life was truly enormous. And yet, I had failed to notice that this symbol of love and devotion had even been altered. Worse yet, I had no idea at all when and where it fell out. The possibilities were enormous…. I have three children and a mangy dog with a lot of hair. I always have my hands in some sort of mess or project.  I had been doing lots of painting as well, both at home and my church. Laundry, dishes, cooking, yard work, on and on…not to mention my work shifts as an RN where I wash my hands every few minutes, and countless blood draws and patient care tasks with the donning on and off of gloves. My head was spinning with all of the possibilities and I was quickly resolved to the fact that my diamond was lost forever. The’ where’ and ‘when’ could never be answered. It was humanely impossible. Of course, as soon as my friend Karen noticed it was gone, we both frantically looked on the floor beneath us, as if it had just popped out at that very moment. A girl can dream. It is true that we don’t realize how precious some things in our lives are until they are gone. Suddenly, I wanted that diamond back more than anything, and yet I could not honestly recall the last time I even took a look at it. I just assumed it would always be there.

The rest of that day I did what any good woman does who loses her only piece of real jewelry….I pouted. I told my sob story to anyone willing to listen. My co-workers heard it, my patients heard it, and of course, my husband heard it. He handled it like a star and promised to replace that diamond with the brightest cubic zirconia I could find! I was not amused. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Now, it dawned on me to pray about it, but I felt very selfish and silly to consider coming to the Lord with such a ‘small’ issue. After all, I was at his feet continually in regards to my sons and their struggles with autism. I was daily seeking his provision and guidance on behalf of their education and growth. I knew as well that there were countless far better and more worthy prayer topics than my ring in the world, and that cries for help and hope were reaching his throne at every moment. Who was I to waste his time on some petty diamond? I decided not to pray at all over it right then. I did however take notice of my ring every few minutes for the rest of that day…go figure. And I did feel sadness and regret with each remembrance of it. Why hadn’t I taken better care of it? Why hadn’t I taken it to get checked or cleaned even once to be sure the prongs were tight? Oh, regret and guilt can weigh a heart down, and drown out a profound purpose waiting to be unveiled.

My shift ended late that night, and I found myself in my car in the hospital parking lot. Eight hours had passed since I realized my diamond was gone.  It was then that I let myself cry over the ring, and it was then that I felt the Lord tugging at my heart. It was the first time since the incident occurred that I was quiet. Sometimes we need to get completely alone to get quiet, and then we can hear better. As I began to listen, I felt the Lord reminding me that not only was it ok to seek him about this, but that he was the only one in the entire universe that knew exactly where that diamond was. Not only that, he knew the exact moment it had fallen. I was sorry that  I had refused to come to the only one with the real answer, presuming that he would be too busy for this. If we truly believe that God does not have time for the little things in life, then we are also saying that he is not big enough to handle it all. Numbers 11:23 proclaims a word from the Lord, ‘….Is the Lord’s arm too short?….’ He is the author of all creation, and he can most certainly handle ALL things, including the smallest details that might seem insignificant to others. He absolutely cares about the things we care about, and is not limited in time, space, or resources as mankind is. I thought of the gospel account in the book of Matthew about the woman with the issue of bleeding for twelve years. For her, it was a big problem in which she needed help. She saw Jesus walking by and knew that if she could only touch him, that she would be healed. She went forth boldly and reached for Jesus with all of her heart. Well, Jesus was on his way to an even more pressing need at the same time….a young girl who was literally dying. That would seem to be the bigger need of the two, and yet Jesus stopped to help the woman that reached out in faith. He knew of the other need, but was also available immediately for what seemed less pressing. The girl he was headed to see indeed died, and that situation seemed hopeless, but Jesus in fact healed them both. Belief and faith were required….not an appointment or triage level of severity.

Right then and there I prayed a simple and honest prayer, and I meant it with all of my heart. I told the Lord that I acknowledged him to be God over everything and asked forgiveness for not trusting him with this immediately. I affirmed that he indeed knew exactly where my missing diamond was, and if he saw fit, to pick up that diamond and place it right smack in someones field of vision who would know what it was. That was it. I pulled out of that lot and headed for home, and my heart started to burst at the thought of what God might do. I had an eager anticipation and expectation, which was completely opposite of the hopeless feeling I had at work that day. I started singing praises to the Lord loudly in the car. I only lived five or so minutes from the hospital then, so I was home in a hurry. It was close to midnight and my family were all asleep. I knelt by my couch and waited. With each passing minute the expectation in my heart grew. I had only been home around ten minutes when the phone rang. I knew that I knew that a miracle had happened. On the other line was an RN from work….’We found your diamond.’ I could not even speak. I ran out the door to head back to the hospital. The tears were pouring down my face and my hands were trembling. I was sobbing and laughing at the same time. The God of the universe had moved that diamond. It was incredibly humbling and life changing for me to realize how he indeed saw and cared about such a simple detail. Nothing is too small, and nothing is too large. He is not so big and far off that he will not open up heaven and reach right down to touch a human life. What a magnificent God!

I raced into work like I was on fire. There at the charge RN station were a group of my co-workers, one of them holding my precious little jewel in a biohazard specimen bag.  Yes, it was my diamond. It was lost, but it had been found. I was overwhelmed, and easily blurted out what God had most assuredly done. There were many tears, and they were not just mine. The best part was where God put it… My diamond was found on the counter right beside where the charge RN sits and where the daily room assignment sheet was kept at that time. This would be the one and only place in the ER where every RN’s eyes would go, but no work would be done with our hands. We would simply look at our assignment, and then go off to the patient care areas to do our work. Yes, it was in the most unlikely spot to have fallen, but the most likely spot to be seen. It was just laying there in the middle of this counter which had been visited by many RN’s that entire day. Even the skeptics had to wonder how in the world it got there. It still gives me the chills and brings a great smile to my face.

The drive back home was brilliant that night. I was elated and felt sure I would not even be able to sleep. I went into my two boys’ room when I got home with that biohazard bag and diamond clutched in my hand. I dropped to my knees at their bedside and began to pray and praise. It was then that a beautiful promise filled my heart that I will never let go of. I knew God was  telling me that I needed to trust him for the greatest jewels of my life.. My two boys were the precious gems that I feared for and agonized over the most. I would be up some nights in anguish over thoughts of their schooling, their social struggles, their unknown futures and if they would somehow be independent …and who would take care of them one day if Grant and I were gone? Those are crippling fears. But that night as I knelt and held on to that tiny little diamond, those fears were quieted and peace came. God reassured me that surely he had a purpose and plan for my sons’ lives and that I could rest in that. If he would see to it that my small and meager diamond was taken care of and not lost in some dark place, then all the more I could be sure that my sons, who are of immeasurable worth, will have a bright and hopeful purpose and future ahead. Now every time I look at my diamond wedding ring, I am reminded of God’s love as well as Grant’s. I am sure to notice my ring many times a day now. I love that ring more than ever.

Do you know that the Lord God knows exactly who you are? Do you know that you can trust him with every longing of your heart? Nothing is too small that he will not hear you. He knows you by name and his love for you is without limit. Do you feel small and unimportant and wonder if God sees you? Let this verse prove to you that you are enormous in worth to him…..

Matthew 10:29-31….29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Here are our rings…safe and sound. GE DIGITAL CAMERA


For Now We See In Part….. April 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 9:45 pm
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At three years old our son Nathan spent many hours daily in therapy…physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, as well as one on one instruction in applied behavioral analysis. The days all seemed to  blur together in a sort of misty autism haze. The ole’ mini van wracked up thousands of miles in those continual loops around the valley of the sun. We were living in Arizona back then. While I felt certain that all of the therapies were inching him forward in skills, I would soon come to know that the golden nugget of all therapies for Nathan would be music therapy. His MT gurus were Rich Maston and Kathleen Walsh, and these two creative therapy geniuses had a way of pulling things out of Nathan that no one else could. I loved those therapy sessions the most of all, and I even got to sit in a small room with a one way window and watch every interaction. I shed many a tear in that little dimly lit room. I cried for every small victory and I found myself chatting away with the Lord from start to finish. The memories of those sessions will be me with always, and as it turns out, Nathan has held on to some of those memories as well.

It was a usual Tuesday morning as Nathan and I made our way into the College of Nursing building at Arizona State University. Rich and Kathleen’s therapy sessions were held in a room on the third floor. I can even picture now the very hallway, the very room, and yet there are some details that I failed to notice entirely. One such critical detail was the fact that there was a fire alarm pull just to the right of their entrance door, and just at the right height for little boy hands to grasp. Hard to believe that the first time I took notice of it was as my almost four year old son was mid-pull. NO NATHAN!  Too late. What happened next played out in painful and vivid slow motion. First came the alarms that filled every nook and cranny of that five story building. Oh yes, those alarms were piercing to typical ears, but for a sensory sensitive child like Nathan, it was pure trauma. This same boy would fall apart at the unexpected cry of a baby in Target. To be sure, it did not go over well. I think I heard my palpitating heart beating louder than the noxious sirens. He couldn’t even cry at first. It was like the shock of it all paralyzed him. I went into my best Carl Lewis mode and scooped that boy up and made a dash for it. The stairwells were ablaze with thunderous echoes of college students and faculty making their way out the building.  I tried to convince myself that Nathan’s wails and cries were possibly being drowned out in the chaos. As we muddled our way to the exit, I could hear some of the students questioning what might have happened, and if there was a real fire. Oh yes, the real fire was coming up behind them…a pint sized boy with autism who was lit up in full I have lost it mode. By the time we got out the exit, I was disheveled and sweating. I vividly recall feeling exhausted in every way, but the emotional drain was what kicked me the hardest. It was humiliating to look around at the sea of students who had to evacuate the building on account of us. It was humbling to hear them whispering, as I felt certain that arrows of judgment were being aimed directly at us. I focused all of my efforts directly on Nathan, as I feared to even look up at the many faces sure to be staring at this clumsy mom and her unruly son.  It was not long before everyone realized what had happened. It was the boy with autism who pulled the alarm…yes indeed.

Someone give me some ruby red slippers!! There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. I think all autism parents should get one free ‘do-over’ card a year. When such social calamity strikes, one can wave said card in the air and be transported back home to bed…the safe haven for calamity. Tantrums that lack bystander stares are much easier to take. Can I get an amen??

Within minutes two Tempe Fire Department trucks came careening into the parking lot. This distraction would be my chance to just sneak away and call it a day. I told Rich and Kathleen in tears that we would be leaving, but they were too smart for that. With love and firmness, they both said ‘NO.’ If we left, then Nathan would soon learn that such behavior and tears would get him out of following through with therapy. And so I cried, he cried, but we were staying. Maybe we could have some fun watching the firemen and the trucks…or maybe not. Nathan would soon start to get restless and I found it was hard to contain him well standing up. I was still unnerved about it all when I instinctively chose to sit down on the grass beneath us. My plan was to sit with him while wrapping my legs around him in the ‘you aren’t going anywhere’ jujutsu move. It would just so happen that it had rained the previous night in AZ….one of the five days out of the year!…and the grass my behind landed on was soggy. I could feel the moisture permeating through my pants, but there was NO WAY I was getting up from that muddy ground. I would sit like a fool and endure it, as I felt certain I could not take one more ounce of humiliation.  I could hear it already, Did that mom of that autistic boy soil her pants??  And so there Nathan and I sat, amidst the mud and the tears. Has anyone ever been there and done that??

Of course, both Nathan and I got through that trying scene. In fact, that trial would come to be the very event that all other unexpected autism mishaps would be compared. It became my endurance measuring beam in a way. Crying fit in the middle of the grocery store at a sudden sound??…No problem..At least the fire department did not have to get called out. High pitched shrieks when different pieces of food touch on the plate??…No worries at all. At least we did not have to evacuate hundreds of people from a building. On and on the comparisons would be made, and in time, the fire alarm incident became a source of laughter and encouragement, not just for us, but for others as well. There was even a time after we moved near Charlotte NC that another boy with autism pulled a fire alarm at our church. They were visiting and the mother was horrified that the church had to be evacuated. I could see her crying and aching just to leave. I knew exactly what she was feeling and we laughed and cried together as I shared my very similar story with her. Sometimes people need to feel that they are not alone in their struggles. Aren’t we blessed to be trusted to struggle in this life? For it just so turns out that in struggle, we find strength, endurance, and perseverance if we can learn to trust the Lord through it. Here is a colossal promise-  James 1: 2-4..2′ Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.’  And we then can become a voice of hope for someone else, which is a profound gift. How can we touch another struggling heart if we have not struggled ourselves? I have long since thanked God for that fateful fire alarm day back then, and figured I had learned what he had intended for me to learn. It would be another couple years before he would reveal even more to me. I had only seen a very small part.

As Nathan, now ten years old, and I were sitting at our dining room table a few weeks ago, I asked him if he remembered anything about Arizona. Now he still struggles with communication delays and he gets off topic quickly. It is a challenge to have a conversation with him, and so I posed the question, but had very little anticipation of a meaningful reply. I just about fell off my chair at what came out of his mouth. He said ‘I remember that I pulled the fire alarm at Kathleen and Mr. Rich’s and all the people had to leave. It was my fault.’ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT????  I was flabbergasted beyond words. I stared at him in total disbelief. I had never spoken to him about it. Not only did my son speak in clear words of a time that I had always assumed he was somewhat clueless to, but he recalled how his actions affected others. This is so opposite of what is expected and seen with autism. The hallmark of the disorder is a type of self-centered awareness, and yet here was my beautiful boy recalling this event in such a selfless way. I could scarcely take it in. I had so many questions, but he was essentially done with this conversation. I had heard enough to fill my heart to overflowing. I had always assumed he was not comprehending much as a young child….that he was lost in his own head. He had so few words and seemed to stare off in his own world. I used to agonize over how to reach him. I would envision Mt. Everest, with Nathan one one side and me on the other. How in the world would I get to him?? But then here we are some seven years later and Nathan blurts out a few words to reveal that he indeed has always been there. I wept openly many times that night. The enormity of it still captivates me. I was busy erecting gigantic mountains of impossibility back then, while the Lord God was taking Nathan’s hand over easy terrain. Yes, I had given much focus to the struggles for too long. God was aware of so much more, and of so much more to come. Dear God, you are mighty and powerful beyond my comprehension. I pray to live with a heart of anticipation over what you are doing and what you are revealing next.

What is it in your life that has caused your flesh and heart much pain and grief? For those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; within those hardships lie the seeds of abundant blessing. In time, those seeds will bear powerful fruit that exalts the Lord. What greater calling in life is there than to glorify the Lord? Is it a fatal and painful diagnosis that you bear? A broken and scarred relationship? An addiction or bondage that has held you down for years? We can be completely assured that every shred of dust and ashes in our lives today will be traded in for beauty. We must grasp on to the fact that we are only seeing a small glimpse of the glory to come. I have heard people say that once they see God, they will have a few grievances to discuss with him…a bone to pick if you will. Not so. In his glory, there will be total awe and praise, and every pain will be vanquished. Oh, if we could only trust him for what is around the corner. If we could only lay down every burden at the foot of the cross and not turn around and pick it back up again.  We must trust him that his ways and plans are far greater than ours, and that we see only a small glimpse of the masterpiece that our God is creating in and through our lives. Trust him today.  He is not done.

1 Corinthians 13:12…..Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Job 26:14…These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?

Here is Nathan visiting Mr. Rich and Kathleen in AZ about a year and a half after our move to NC. What a trio they were!AZ visit!!!! 015AZ visit!!!! 014


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