Thursday, April 27, 2017

Doing Good

This week, I've been sharing about feeling weary.  Yesterday I shared a verse and some resources for helping bring us back to Jesus. As I've mentioned for me, feeling weary means feeling overwhelmed and wanting to retreat to my bed.  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when our schedule is too much.  Too many places to be, too many chores left undone.

Other times, I get overwhelmed when I feel like what I'm doing doesn't matter.  I will do most anything for someone who I feels values me.  But when I feel like people are taking advantage of me, it's hard for me.  I question, "Why am I running myself ragged for no good reason.  No one cares but me."  I'm not great at confronting people appropriately to ask them stop treating me that way or tell them how I'm feeling.  So, I internalize it and it piles on my stress.

I'm also a law and order kinda girl.  I like to follow the rules, I like it when other people follow the rules.  I want people who don't follow the rules to be held accountable.  I don't necessarily want people harshly punished.   I'm not perfect and I don't expect others to be. I just want people to own their mistakes and be honest about it. It's what I try to do and I can't always understand when people don't.

When one of these things is out of balance AND we have a crazy schedule, it really does a number on me.

I know that as a Christian, I find my identity in Christ.  I should be deeply fulfilled by my relationship with Him and not by what others think of me.  I should forgive others as Christ forgive me.  I know all these things.  But I'm not perfect.  I'm still growing in Christ.  I'm just trying to be honest here about what overwhelms and stresses me.

When I get to this low place, I try to remember this verse.

I have this verse taped to my laptop.  Under it I've written: "my job is giving not the receiving".

It helps me remember my purpose.  I'm supposed to do good.  I'm supposed to do what God has called me to do.  It helps me refocus on where to find my value - in Christ. When I feel weary and that I want to run away, I am reminded to not give up.  I remember that I'm actually doing things for Christ through doing them for his people.  

Through writing these blogs this week, God has shown me that I'm weary and overwhelmed when I am out of my own lane.  I'm out of my lane when:
  • I'm doing too much
  • I'm doing things that are out of line with what God has called me to
  • I forget that my identity is in Christ and not in what people think of me
  • I feel like I'm in charge of how others act
  • I feel slighted because others don't do what's right
  • I am trying to be in charge instead of letting God be God.
LORD, forgive me when I serve away from you.  Pull me under your yoke and help me stay in my own lane.  Amen

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Come to Me"

Yesterday, I wrote about feeling weary right now.  My main tool during these times is usually giving myself grace.  Honestly though, I'm not great at giving myself grace.  My next line of defense is scripture.  Today, let's talk about one of those scriptures.

In this section of scripture, Jesus is inviting people to salvation.  My study Bible calls it the great invitation.  Jesus is saying come receive salvation, learn from me and serve the LORD.

Jesus references a yoke in these verses.  A yoke is used to join two animals together to plow.  It invokes hard labor.  Yet, in these verses Jesus assures us that his yoke is light.  It should be our pleasure to do the work of the LORD.  It's not hard labor.

The awesome thing about this passage is that Jesus is inviting us into a relationship with him.  He's not telling us to do something on our own.  He wants us to do it together.  He wants us to both be under the same yoke.  He wants us to learn from him.  Jesus wants to give us his gentle spirit.  He wants us to have rest.

Although I accepted Jesus as my savior many (many!) years ago, I still need to be reminded to return to my relationship with Him.  Especially when I'm feeling weary.  Weary and overwhelmed usually go hand in hand for me.  I'm overwhelmed when I'm doing too much that's not important.  I'm not staying in my own lane.  In these verses, Jesus is calling me back to His lane.

If you're feeling weary, let me encourage you to come to or return to Jesus.  You might be thinking, "Aimee, did you miss the part where I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I can't add one more thing to my schedule."  You don't have to add an hour of Bible study today.  Add some praise music to your day.  Read some scripture when you wake up.  Pause to pray.

If you have never received Jesus as your savior, PLEASE contact me.  I'd love to answer your questions and pray with you.  Jesus wants nothing more than you!

Here are some resources to help....
My Shane & Shane playlist on Spotify
Proverbs 31's First Five app - designed to help you give your First Five minutes to the LORD every morning.
Echo Prayer app
- Add in some prayer requests and Echo will ping you to remind you to pray.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Friends, let's get honest here...who among us is NOT weary?

Everyone I know is.  The Spring is exhausting.  I think it's baseball season that does it to me.  The games aren't always at a set time and place.  It gets rained out a lot. Then we have tournaments all weekend and I can't get anything done at home or take a nap.

Also, spring in a school is over the top cray-cray!  We've got state mandated testing.  End of year performances.  Projects.  Planning for next year.  Field trips.  All. The. Things.

The crazier my calendar gets, the sleepier I get.  My bed is my retreat.  I want to crawl in and let the world fend for itself.  As glorious as that sounds, it's not realistic.  I have to get up and face the world with all it's craziness.

I do try to stick to my schedule during these crazy times.  I will be honest, I do sleep in more mornings and miss my Bible study and writing time.  I try to make it up during the day but that doesn't always happen either.

When I'm feeling this way, the main thing I try to do is to give myself some grace.  No one at my house expects super perfect super mom except me.  So, I try to dial it down a little.  More frozen food for dinner.  More dishes in the sink longer.

There are two verses I cling to during my weary times:

I'm going to talk about them Wednesday and Thursday this week.  Come on back!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cheaters Never Win?

While researching for Tuesday's blog, Be Still, I came across Psalm 37.  I was looking for the Bible verse "Be still and know that I am God." That's Psalm 46:10. The concordance (the part in the back of your Bible that helps you find verses.)  showed 3 verses contained the word still. The first listing says "Be still before the LORD and wait" Psalm 37:10.  I feel like I'm in a season of waiting for the LORD to show me my next move so my curiosity was piqued.

What I found in Psalm 37 was a very practical how to guide on handling yourself with the bad guys are winning.  It wasn't the verse I had been looking for but it was the word I needed from the LORD.  Isn't God amazing?

We all come upon people in our lives who are doing things all wrong.  They cheat. They lie.  They steal.  They treat people awfully.  They don't own their mistakes.  They are downright mean.

And yet...

They seem to be prospering.  They get the promotion. They buy a bigger house.  They drive a better car.

As a Christian, I'm often torn in these situation.  My brain knows that God has a plan for me.  A plan to prosper me and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11).  I even know the old saying "cheaters never win".  So what to do when it seems like cheaters are winning?

The verse that the concordance pointed me to was 37:10

Stay in your own lane.  Keep your eyes on your own paper.  Worry about yourself.  That's what to do when it seems like cheaters are winning.  Be still and let God be God.

Kids love to tattle and get in each other's business.  They aren't generally sneaky about it either.  A couple of weeks ago, I had a kid tattle on another one then 10 minutes later come back to ask what I'd done about it.  I gave him my classic line on such matters: "When that's your business, I'm gonna let you know."

Isn't that what God is telling us here?  "When you need to worry about, I'm gonna let you know"

Instead we are to keep our eyes on our own paper.  Stay in our lane.  Do the work God has given you to do.  Let Him work out the rest.  Remember the old Steven Curtis Chapman song "God is God".  There's a line in the song that says God is God and I am not.

That's the key - remembering that God is God and I am not.  And that's what Psalm 37 is trying to teach us to do.  It's full of practical advice on how to trust God and let Him work.

For a great article about all of Psalm 37 and how to let God be God, read this

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Jr. Engineer

"Aunt Tracey, do you have any problems that can be solved by hand?"

This is B's latest question to everyone he meets.  "Do you have any problems?"

Aunt Tracey explained some electrical problems she was having and he quickly informed her that he couldn't solve that one.  Thank goodness he knows his limitations.  However, she did need something to organize her shoes.  He was all over that one.

Monday B had asked me for an old towel.  He created a dog treat holder/dispenser from it.  You put the treats in the top opening. Then when your ready to give your dog a treat you push the treat out the smiling mouth to your dog.
He told me about asking his friends at schools about their problems.  One little girl has an annoying little sister.  He used two toilet paper rolls to make a her a 'sorry phone' so the sisters can apologize to each other.  

Another little boy at school has his torn up up boxing gloves. B used a Kleenex box to create a pair of gloves for him.  The amazing part about this story, to me, is that all of last year and the first part of this year, B would have referred to this boy as his bully.  The boy just irritated B something fierce.  I don't think it ever became actual bullying but B did not like this kid.  Now here he is trying to create something to solve the kid's problem.  

The common thread in all these stories is empathy.  B wants to know what problems people have and wants to work to solve them.  There are some people who will tell you that autistic people have difficulty empathizing.  Horse puckey!  

I believe autistic people have communication problems.  They don't know how to express or handle the empathy they feel.  It may overwhelm them at times.  They may not have the skills to deal with what they are feeling.  

I'm proud that B is able to empathize with others and use his creative skills to help them solve problems.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Be Still

"If God's not throwing open a door, just be still. Wait for Him."

I gave this lovely piece of advice to a friend and colleague last week.  Doesn't it sound pretty?  Just wait for the LORD and it will all work out.  Of course, I didn't mention that you have to be seeking the LORD, asking for guidance and listening for His response.  Easier said than done, right?

I've been working on this a while in one particular area: seeking the LORD, asking for guidance and listening for His response.  And I'm here to tell ya - it's not easy and it's not fun.  Especially in our get things done, make things happen world.

You hear it all the time, "If it is to be, it's up to me".  Go pull yourself up by your boot straps and grab life by the horns.  Take what you want.

This is the gospel of self and it has nothing to do with God.

Yes, God expects us to do some work.  Think of how far the Israelites had to walk to get to the Promised Land.  They had to leave Egypt and do all that walking. But He wants to lead.  Remember the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night?  God was leading.

How many times to we forge ahead and THEN ask God to bless what we're doing?

I do it all the time.  It's easier.  Because then I'm moving.  I'm doing something.  I have the illusion of being in control.

Friend, be assured.  It is an illusion.  If you want God's best for your life, you must seek Him, ask for His guidance, listen for His response and then act.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Be Better

This week we've been talking about leadership. We started with some leadership quotes on Tuesday.  Yesterday we discovered 3 types of leaders.  Today we'll wrap up with ways to be a better leader.

Of the three types of leaders we discussed yesterday (people, process and thought), I am mostly a process leader.  I'm organized. I like thinking about systems.  I'm empathic and I like to use that skill to think about how people will react to the system.  I'm not a fan of status quo. I love to learn and grow and make things better.

I'm also a thought leader.  Duh, you're reading my thoughts now ;).  I do like to think a lot. I love to read on a wide variety of subjects.  I really like to try to apply principles across disciplines.  This thinking marries well with the process leader in me. I like for my big thoughts to lead to change.

Since I'm not great a leading a group, I figured I wasn't a good leader.  I can boss people around like Helga G. Pataki but I'm not so great with the motivating part.  And, I'm going to be really raw and honest here, I'm not very patient when people don't get the big picture.  Wait, that's not exactly true.  If people don't get the picture that's fine.  I guess I'm not great with people who don't WANT to get the big picture or don't WANT to get better.  I have a hard time empathizing with people who don't want to get better or who aren't self motivated to get better.  So, I like partnering with people who can motivate others to want to improve.

I believe that everyone can be a leader.  Everyone has some one looking to them for guidance.  But not everyone is a leader all the time.  Some times you lead, some times you follow.  The key to being both a good leader and a good follower is to be better.  Be better today than you were yesterday.

5 ways to be better today than yesterday

1. Read the Bible & Pray - I wholeheartedly believe that God has a plan for us (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11).  One of the ways God reveals Himself to us is through His Word and speaks to us through prayers.  

2. Read - it's important to read widely.  Right now I'm reading The Energy Bus.  I mostly read nonfiction but I do sprinkle in some fiction to clear my palate.  If you don't feel like you have time to read, try audiobooks.  

3. Podcasts - I am a huge fan of podcasts!  Podcasts are basically radio programs.  Podcasts are free.  I use the podcast app on my iPhone.  Through the app you can search for podcasts or explore suggested ones. My favorite podcasts are Freakonomics Radio, Hidden Brain, The EntreLeadership Podcast, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast and DriveTime Devotions

4. Be Self-Reflective - I'm such an overthinker that I'm shocked to realize that everyone is not self-reflective.  I'm a firm believer in thinking about where you are, where you're going and what you need to do to get better.  Journaling is a good way to reflect.  Set a time and write about your day for 5 minutes.  You'll start to see patterns.  These patterns can show you areas you need to improve.  Journaling can also help you see your strengths.  I always remember the struggles better than I remember my successes.  

5. Talk - you must have someone you can talk to about the ways you are growing.  Journaling will help you see things from your point of view but you also need to hear other people's point of views.  But, be careful with who you trust.  Talk and process with someone who loves you unconditionally and wants you to get better.  

What do you think?  What are ways that you learn to be better today than you were yesterday?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

3 Types of Leadership

What do you picture when I say leadership?  Be honest.

Most people will picture:
  • a man (yes, still in 2017. I wouldn't go on about this except to say "please stop")
  • a tall man (here is actual academic research about the tall part.)
  • someone standing in a power pose
  • the color red will usually be in the picture

For a long time, I thought you had to a motivator to be a good leader.  You had to be a LEADER OF MEN {dun dun dun sound effect here}.   You could be a rah-rah jump around and pump everyone kind of leader.  Or you could be a let's get in the trenches and I'll show you how to do this leader.  There's a million ways to be that kind of leader.

Then, I read this article, Not a People Leader? Here are Two Other Types to Consider from Be Leaderly.  In the article, Jo Miller describes 3 types of leaders: people leaders, thought leaders and process leaders.

People leaders - the leaders of men mentioned earlier.  These people can get a crowd whipped into shape and moving in the right direction.  Military leaders come to mind but it doesn't have to be that overt.  Lots of people are people leaders without being loud.  They know how to connect with people, motivate them and get the most out of them.

Process leaders - these people know how to make things work.  This is the person you call when you need to figure out how to move 200 people through a conference with only 5 rooms.  They can break it down and figure it out.  I find these people are usually very efficient because they can see the workflow - they just know the best way to get things done.

Thought leaders - these are your big idea people.  They understand where your organization needs to go.  Thought leaders are passionate and innovative.  Denise Brosseau (author of a book on thought leadership) says, “Thought leaders are the trusted opinion leaders and go-to people in their fields of expertise,”

Do you see yourself in one of these three types of leadership?  Let me know in the comments or on social media.  Tomorrow I'll tell you what kind of leader I am and we'll talk about how we can all improve our leadership. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thoughts on Leadership

I've been thinking a lot about leadership lately.  Leadership can be tricky.  Today I want to give you some graphics that will guide our week.  Tomorrow we're going to delve into types of leaders.  Thursday, we'll talk about how to become the leader we want to be.  I'm excited about this week!

Leaders will experience both success and failure.  How you handle both will determine the future of your leadership.  

Dr. Justin Tarte is an educator that I follow on Twitter.  This tweet really stuck with me.  A huge part of leadership is about establishing culture. Establishing culture is directly related to how people are treated and held accountable.  Part of the hard work of leadership is holding others accountable for the standards of your organization.

I so love Tina Fey.  She is smart and funny, two things I aspire to be.  I love this quote from her because it's the essence of leadership.  You have to get things done.  Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Another Tina quote.  I'll admit, I'm a cryer.  A bawl bag actually.  I try to suppress it most of the time but it can get ugly.  What I love about this quote is that you have to own your emotions.  You can't be an emotionless leader.

I hope you'll join me this week and join in the discussion about leadership.  Post your favorite leadership quote on Facebook or Twitter and tag me.  I'd love to know your thoughts. As always, you can always leave your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What We'd Like You to Know

Every year our school district does Autism Awareness shirts.
This year I added our hashtag to our shirts.
Two years ago I wrote a post called April is Autism... In that post our family shared what we'd like you to be aware of about Autism in April and every other month.

I thought I'd revisit that idea this year and see if anyone's answers have changed.  I asked them "What do you want people to know about Autism?  What would you want people to know about B to understand him better?"

"He's not saying random stuff just to say it.  He's saying it because it's the first thing that pops in his head and he can't always filter what he says."

"That he is different from other people, and he just understands and reacts to things different than other people."

"Everyone is a little quirky.  B's a are a little bigger and he can't always control them." {I'll note here that at the beginning of our Autism journey Ryan said to me "if he is, you are" because B and share some similar quirks.} 

This whole site is about what I think of Autism.  Autism can be hard.  But it can be a gift if you choose to look at it that way.  As with most things in life, it's your perspective on this issue that shapes the issue.

And participating for the first time....drumroll, please....

"I'm creative and messy.  Autism is a trait. A trait is something you're born with and that you can't grow out of.  Autism is a trait of mine."

There you have it folks! What the Barti (plural form of Bartis, like octopus and octopi) want you to know about Autism and our B-man. If you have questions, we'd love to hear them in the comments!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Acceptance vs. Awareness

Yesterday I wrote about wanting Autism Acceptance. We want people to respect and love B just the way he is.  I created this graphic to get you thinking about Acceptance vs Awareness.  

As always, let's talk about these things! Leave questions or comments below!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Light it up Blue

Lots of people like Autism Speaks, I just don't happen to be one of those people.  I'm not upset if you do like AS, it's your choice.  I like grapefruit Perrier, lots of people don't.  There's not animosity there, just different choices.

Like many families, we were pointed to Autism Speaks immediately upon diagnosis.  Because B's diagnosis was more a confirmation than a surprise, and because I'm a geek, I had already started researching.  I don't recall how I found Diary of Mom's blog but I did.  Probably it was her welcome post.  As I read more of her posts, I started to realize that I agreed with many of her positions.

Jess's main point that really resonated with me was who to look to learn about our kids.  Of course, we should listen to medical professionals, but shouldn't we also listen to autistic people?  Grown ups who have been where our kids are now?  Shouldn't we seek to know what they think about the issues that effect them?  One major criticism of AS has been the lack of people with autism in leadership positions.  No other group would stand for this.  Imagine the NAACP not including African Americans! Autism Speaks seems to assume that since some autistic people are non-verbal, they don't have anything to say.

AS also spends a lot of time focusing on what a huge burden autism is for families and caregivers.  Let me be clear: mothering B can be difficult but it is not a burden.  Mothering a 13 and 16 year old right now is not a barrel monkeys but not one is going to form a fundraising group and scare mothers every where with how hard it is to raise teenage boys.  Mothering is a challenge no matter who your kid is.  But, it's the joy of my life.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I appreciate that AS does a lot of research.  That's awesome.  But the fact is that my kiddo already has autism.  I'm not interested in curing him from it. I don't need to know what I could have done to prevent it.  In fact, I don't believe it was preventable.  I believe B is exactly who God intended him to be.  What I want to focus on his how to make sure B loves who is he and knows how to navigate his particular set of challenges.

That brings us to therapies.  As soon as B was diagnosed, it was recommended that he start ABA therapy.  ABA is SUPER EXPENSIVE.  I'm talking $75 an hour, not covered my insurance.  And time consuming.  B was recommended for 30-40 hours a week. That's in addition to school.  Good Gravy! Plus there were no good options close to us.  So we put it off and sought other options.  On Jess's recommendation (through her blog and Facebook page, not to me personally.  We not BFFs but we totally could be), I started reading what autistic adults thought of ABA.  The opinion that stuck with me was "dog training".  As I understand it, ABA focuses on the undesirable behavior in an effort to change or stop it.  Imagine spending 30-40 hours a week focused on your weaknesses! Given the fact that we want B to be proud to be autistic and that we feel like he doesn't need to be cured, ABA does not seem to align with our philosophies.

We prefer to discover why the behavior is happening and help B develop coping strategies.  For example, when B hits, we don't just say "don't hit".  We do that for sure, but we also try to figure out what made him angry enough to hit in the first place.  Right now he's having a hard time accepting information from his peers.  It makes him angry when someone is telling him he's doing something that he thinks he's not or asking him to do something he's not ready for.  He's lashed out at his classmates a few times in the past weeks.  So we've developed a strategy - go around the classmate and ask a teacher.  Don't get into an argument with the messenger, go to the source.

Every April AS asks you to light it up blue.  Blue is the focus of their efforts because blue represents boys.  Yes, more boys are diagnosed with autism than girls.  But girls are effected.  How must they feel when an entire month is dedicated to building awareness of a part of them, leaves them out?  A national organizations should seek to be inclusive of all effected.

So, I wouldn't ask you to light it up blue this month.  I will ask you to accept B for who he is.  And accept others for who they are, even when it's hard.  I invite you to ask questions to help you understand better.  I invited you dialogue.  But that's not a catchy slogan that markets well or raises millions of dollars or helps people feel better about themselves.  Sorry.  Not sorry.