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Tag Archives: Loneliness

It’s lonely out here…

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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“In ministry, I have found that our own thoughts can be quite dangerous. We start second-guessing what we should have done, what should have been said, what could have been changed, or why we did one thing over another. The quiet times mulling over our thoughts can create sadness, discouragement, and sometimes even anger.”

This. From a fellow student of ministry in an ordination class I am taking. A class that for several weeks I have struggled to keep up with honestly. I’ll admit it. A class I am struggling not to fail.

This student had described exactly what I had been wrestling: loneliness, worry that I had goofed up, doubt. This need to have it all together. And, then the desperate want to just fall apart.

As pastors and shepherds, we are called to encourage. To guide. To lead others to know Jesus and His love in a way they have never known.

Yet, there are days I feel deeply discouraged and terrified that if I say the wrong thing I’ll guide and lead someone astray.

As His ambassadors of love, we are givers of grace, forgiveness, and apologies that we often have to swallow to give when we are the ones who have been hurt, because after all we are that “Christian pastor.” When what we want to do is scream at the abuser, lash out at the persecutor, or just plain scream at God for allowing the hurt at all.

We love even when it doesn’t make sense. And, most of the time it doesn’t make sense. Because it didn’t make sense for Jesus, either. And, we desperately want others to know this kind of love.

We follow His will despite doubt, fear, intimidation, and the flaming arrows of Satan.

And, on top of that we worry about every conversation. The devil beats us down about every flaw. He does one heck of a number on our heads. And, we often have very few we can talk to, because most look to us for the wisdom.

It’s lonely out here.

So, we offer the encouragement we so need ourselves.

For me…it’s twofold. Not only am I a shepherd. I also have the role as a counselor to children as my “day job.” I am looked to as their guide. The one to provide sound advice. Steer them in the right direction. Provide them with the “right” tools. Be an encourager. Sometimes even just safety, security, and even love.

But, I agonize over whether that guidance was right? What triggered that meltdown that I didn’t catch in time? Did I make a decision that may have caused hurt? Said something that triggered some emotional response?

Worried that one misstep could royally mess them all up.

It’s lonely out here.

But, the children still need guidance. Safety. Security. Love.

So, the encourager uses the words she needs to hear herself.

Can I offer a little advice? From a pastor? A counselor? A never-ending encourager?

If you have a champion in your life, throw that champion a floatie. Offer some words of encouragement for all those times they have saved you.

Because, it’s lonely out there. And, well…sometimes the encouragers need a little saving, too.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2018 in Mercy, Ministry and Education

 

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Binding the Missing Pieces

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

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It creeps up out of no where. Your day begins just like any other, You get up. You get dressed. Go about your normal routine.

But, then something feels off. Different. Out of place. Out of sync. Your normal routine feels off balance. And, deep down inside something inside of you begins to break. Your heart. The one that is missing a significant piece of that normal routine.

For me all it took was the morning paper. Picked up from outside on a Sunday in which I should have been at church. A Sunday after I dropped my son off for his first year at college. 9 hours away.

A simple newspaper. A routine that was off, A reminder that something was different. That a piece of my daily life was missing. A floodgate of emotions and tears that began with a hole in the pit of my heart.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

In our lives we will have moments of brokenness. Moments when our hearts are lonely. Times when the holes in them are so huge it doesn’t seem anything can patch them up. Maybe for you it is grief. Maybe it is that friend who lives far away, or the one you don’t speak to often enough. Maybe it is those words you never said. Maybe it is your son, daughter, niece, nephew starting a new life in a different place. The memories probably flood your heart, tearing away at the hole that resides there. All triggered by a scent, a memory, a date, a word, or a Sunday paper.

And, you feel it. That part of you that is missing.

But, God…He binds those wounds of loneliness. Of grief. He fills those holes left from those unsaid words. Those many miles.

He fills our hearts with the missing pieces. With the promise that we will be reunited with the ones we love.

He fills us with peace when we begin to worry.

He fills us with His steady love when we feel lonely, and provides us with comfort when the Sunday paper becomes a source of our mourning.

He takes the black holes in our hurting hearts. The wet tears in our crying eyes. The deep fears that fill the depths of our souls, and rights our out of sync routine.

God. Despite our loneliness, He can fill our incomplete hearts.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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When Joy Seems Hard to Find

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The grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason. -Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Chistmas

Usually Christmas brings me much joy each year. By the end of November, I have my tree up, my shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, and I am ready for Christmas music, lights, and festivities.

This year? Not so much. This year I have been somewhat of a Christmas grinch. Not really sure why the usual joy I have for the season has been replaced with the mood and attitude of Scrooge, and a cloud of perpetual gloom, that began long before the season ever did.

Back in the fall I made the decision to leave my part-time job in order to focus on my studies as a counseling student, my ministry, and my work in the evenings with teens and families in the community. While ultimately I believe God made it clear this was the move for me, it hasn’t always been an easy one. It has also come with a number of changes and adjustments.

Like the days at home while most everyone else is working. The days that have left me feeling lonely and isolated.

Like the missed appointments with clients that has meant missed paychecks, missed gifts, and missed “mommy” dates with friends. Leaving me feeling lonely, isolated, and broke.

Or, the nights spent mentoring, counseling, and helping others while my family is at home cuddling, playing, and bonding.

Or the cold, dreary weather that seems to have lingered, making it even harder to muster up the strength and motivation to just get out of the house.

Or, maybe it is the realization that comes when you visit your sibling in jail, give him a hug, and know that once again you will spend another Christmas without him.

Whatever the circumstances, I am left with feelings of loneliness, isolation, moodiness, and gloom. A deep ache and longing for some “thing” that just seems to be missing this year.

Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. Romans 15:32

I have tried to find that joy. I have tried to fix this bah-humbug mood of mine. I have tried every “remedy” I could think of.

Flipping on those shiny lights and turning on Christmas music just to get through a gift wrapping session.

I have tried to create happy moments with my family by scheduling times to cut snowflakes, make hot chocolate, or enjoy ice cream by the tree.

I even remembered the way my mom got us in the spirit-with good ole fashioned living room dance parties with Elvis as the emcee.

I plastered on smiles for my kids. I have gone through the motions trying to put the jolly back in this holly season. But I couldn’t find it.

I couldn’t find it as the lack of cheer now spilled to my children. So that those planned moments to spend together this season only ended in fights, declarations of “This is boring…” and meltdowns. So that Mommy is now the one making the ornament, cutting the snowflakes, making the Christmas cards, and decorating the tree-isolated and once again…alone.

I couldn’t find it, because all I wanted to do was sit under the tree I didn’t even feel like putting up, and cry. And then, cancel the whole Christmas shebang altogether!

“I bring good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born this day in Bethlehem. Luke 2:10-11

And, so comes that voice. The one that always shakes me out of my sulking, when all I want to do is drown in self-pity.

Look around you, January.

At what exactly, Lord? Yes, I am aware that this house is a mess. I can’t find the strength to do that either.

Look around at your home, January. The mess that means laughter, and yes, even chaos have filled these walls. A mess that shows you are blessed beyond measure. 

Listen, January.

To what? Those screams? The screams from a  desperately emotional child? The screams back from his weary momma?

Listen, January. To the laughter. To the fighting that means they are learning to navigate the world of relationships. 

Look at your mantel, January.

Really, Lord? Now you are going to point out the fact that my home is full of dust!

You mean the dust that is not unlike that of that lowly manger sitting there?

Oh, right.

The lowly manger of a king born. The king who we celebrate each season. The king who deserves much more than my isolated and lonely bah-humbug.

The joy that has nothing to do with money, lights, paper snowflakes, or abandoned cups of hot cocoa. The joy that lies in a manger. The joy of a baby, born alone, isolated and desperate in the midst of dust just to save me.

To save me from loneliness when that missing piece seems nowhere to be found.

To save me from isolation when I’m stuck in a cold and dark house alone.

To save me from self-pity and sorrow when the paycheck quits coming, the gifts aren’t there to wrap, and your feeling anything but holly jolly.

The joy that can’t be wrapped up in a bow. Can’t be placed in well-organized moments, and perfectly baked cookies.

The joy of Christ that reaches down to fill all the longing and lonely places that dwell in this heart.

The true joy of the Christmas season and every season in between.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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He Wants to Be Your “Friend”

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and He will give you all you need.” Matthew 6:33

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A few months ago, I wrote about the phone addiction I witnessed while in line at Starbucks. At that time I disconnected from the constant need to keep scrolling through endless updates, and navigate my day with my nose buried in my mobile device.

And, I was doing pretty good. I had finally resisted the urge to spew every one of my wayward thoughts on-line for all my “friends” to see. I was pretty sure that my hiatus from constant status updates, email checks, and tweets had its impact. I now had the strength and willpower to let all the negativity that clogged my newsfeed go. I had learned to run to God with my problems instead of Facebook.

I think it’s OK to download again, I said.

I can limit myself, I said.

I can make sure the negative things I see don’t affect me. I am sure they won’t alter the way I see and love people, I said.

I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

The realization that I was once again turning to all my “friends” again wasn’t in any way earth shattering. It all began with what almost became a simple “I’m feeling sorry for myself, and I’m all alone” status.

Until that voice said to me: “January, what are you doing? Do you really want to go there again? I’m here. Talk to me.”

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12

If I call on my greatest friend, he will listen. But, I had stopped calling on Him lately. Instead, I was relying on every “like,” and comment of agreement to confirm that I wasn’t alone. That someone else was listening. However, with every comment, I realized…I was still alone. There are still some things all my “friends” just couldn’t possibly understand.

The truth is, I wish I could say I only had that one moment of Facebook weakness, but that’s not the case.

See, I had quickly gone back to the mindless scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh throughout my day just as quickly as I had deleted the whole mess in the first place. Until I had spent more time on the couch scrolling and refreshing than playing and engaging with my kids.

Until I began the frequent eye-rolling at posts that quickly turned to judgment and condemnation. The judgment and condemnation which is so unlike the example I am supposed to be of Christ.

Until my days were filled with gruesome, negative, and cruel news stories again, and nothing at all to lift my spirits.

Until I once again began my morning reading Facebook posts, and not my Bible.

Until I started telling all my “friends” about my problems, and not once talking to God.

I had done it again.

I certainly wasn’t practicing what I had preached months ago.

And, I had once again sunk into a wave of negativity, judgment, and whoa-is-meing that was not at all becoming.

Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. Proverbs 4:15

This is not to say that Facebook is an evil thing that must be avoided at all costs. There are some inspiring posts and stories out there. Friends I follow just for this reason. I have family, former co-workers, and high school classmates that I enjoy catching up with, and then other “friends” whose witty posts give me a much needed laugh. And, who can enjoy a football game without a little friendly rivalry?

But, honestly…for me? The constant scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh is a trigger for me. A trigger for my insecurities. A trigger for my past to come back to haunt me. A trigger for my often critical view of the world and people, and one more reason for me to say that I don’t have time for God.

One more reason for me to think I am all alone. That all my “friends” don’t care, don’t understand, don’t get what I go through day in and day out, don’t….whatever. When really the friends that do care, are saved in my phone contact list. The ones whose emails, kids’ names, addresses, and hidden insecurities I actually do know. The ones who I can actually call, say “I miss you. I need you right now. I feel alone and I’m having a crummy day,” and know they will come running to first sulk with me, and then tell me to suck it up, because we all have those days.

And, then there is that other “friend.” The one who has no Facebook or Twitter account, yet knows exactly when I’m alone and need support-whether its 11 at night or at 4 in the morning. The friend I have in Him. The comfort and peace I can find in Him to which no scrolling and refreshing, or hundreds and hundreds of social media “friends” could ever compare.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Craving More of God

 

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The Wails of the Lonely

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17

I recently had a conversation with a fellow mom about the chaos that often comes with motherhood. As we stood together talking, and as the conversation moved forward I began to share some of the struggles I have at home with our “monster,” I noticed the blank stare, the one that usually comes when someone doesn’t understand.

She just doesn’t get it.

Unfortunately, it’s a phrase I repeat to myself often. One, I am sure many parents of children with special needs also say to themselves on occasion.

After an afternoon spent enduring the wails and screams of a child who can’t tell you why he is screaming. After being slapped in the face, kicked in the shin. After having wrestled a kid on the bedroom floor to keep him from doing the same to himself. After carefully planning every detail of the day, so the same kid’s routine is not disrupted. After searching high and low for the EXACT same yogurt in the EXACT same package.

After confiding in those with “neurotypical” children. After enduring the blank stare, and the empty smiles. After the “Oh, but he’s so cute. He’s so sweet. He’s such a good student,” I repeat to myself-“They really just don’t get it.”

And, it…for lack of a better word…sucks.

It’s lonely.

It’s dark here some days.

It’s exhausting. Emotionally draining.

And…it sucks.

And, while I hate to admit it. I also envy you. I envy the fact that you don’t get it.

See, I would love to be able to enjoy a trip to the grocery store with my children. At times, I even feel guilty for leaving them at home, even though I know it was my attempt to rid myself of embarrassment of having one scream if we veered off the schedule, went over our two store limit, or if the store did not have his beloved Gogurt.

I want nothing more than to make a date at the park with a fellow Mommy. Sitting and chatting on the bench, while their children frolic without a care. I secretly envy that time as I stand here gently urging my five-year old to please stop screaming and come down the slide.

Envy when another mom can handle an angry child without having to endure a blood-curdling wail or slap in the face.

Resentment after the,” But, he’s so cute. He’s so smart. He doesn’t look autistic” (And, yes, we have heard that one!). Resentment when those blood-curdling screams accompany empty stares, empty “It’ll be OK’s,” and my subsequent response: “They just don’t get it.”

O. God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Psalm 61:1-2

But, He gets it. In fact, He gave this child to me. One I didn’t think I had the patience or strength to handle. One who has helped me prove otherwise. One who will help me work on my envy and resentment.

He gets it. He gets our “monster.” He gets what we go through at home. And, while it sucks, He is never going to leave us lonely.

And, He isn’t going to let me endure this walk through the many valleys of autism with resentment, anger, and envy.

Watch over your heart with all diligence-for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

I can’t help the inability of others to understand what we go through. I can’t help the blank stares, the well-meaning, but empty words. The missed play dates. The not so relaxing days at the park. The grocery store meltdowns.

These things will remain a part of the journey God has given us.

However, I can help the way I see my circumstances.

I can help the way I view those of others as well. The way I react to them. I can realize that we all have circumstances we would love to change, and let go of the envy that resides in my heart.

I can lean on God when I feel alone, exhausted, and emotionally drained.

The one who is always there. The one who struggles through the tantrums, the routines, the heartaches, the triumphs with us.

The one who hears the wails of the lonely.

The one who truly gets it.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Autism and Faith

 

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You Are Right. You Are Different: An Open Letter to My Teen

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I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Philippians 1:9,11

I know, I know. It’s Mom. Again. Doesn’t she know that parents just don’t get it?

Parents have no idea what teens go through, right? Parents have no idea what you feel. They can’t possibly understand the pressures you have. Parents have no idea what it is like to be hurt, lonely, abandoned, confused.

Parents have no clue what it is like to be a teen!

Let me assure you, that while there are some things about your teen years I don’t understand, there is more that I actually do.

I was 16 once, too. Many, many years ago, but I still recall there was a time when I also thought my parents were clueless, and knew nothing. I do know what it is like to be a teen, and I remember just how hard it was.

I too know what it is like to try so hard to fit in. Although, I never had to endure 5 years of braces (only because Mimi and Pa couldn’t afford them), I do know what it is like to look “different” from everyone else. You can look at your little sister and see why. Know why I tell her she has beautiful hair. Just know you were not born to “fit in.” Let’s just hope it doesn’t take you 19 years to figure this out, too.

I’ll be honest. Sometimes I don’t know what you are going through. My parents were never divorced. I don’t know what it is like to have two homes, two Christmases, two sets of parents, siblings, and grandparents. Two sets of families. However, it doesn’t mean my parents always got everything right. It doesn’t mean I didn’t hear them argue late at night. It doesn’t mean they didn’t have their own problems, or that I didn’t feel any less isolated or alone. When you are 16, you think your parents are complete morons. Trust me-once you become a parent, there will be days you feel like a complete moron.

I’m sorry if my lunch box note puts added pressure on you, since you think I don’t get that either. Maybe you are right. School work just came easier to me. Truthfully, I didn’t need my parents’ pressure. I had enough of my own-the kind I put on myself. See, I mastered schoolwork in much the same way you master wrestling moves on the Xbox! I studied into the wee hours of the night, and at age 35…I still do! And I’m 35. Still trying to finish school. I just don’t want this for you. I applied to college much like you will in a few short months, and I got accepted into a few, but I couldn’t go. I had to make tough choices. Again, I don’t want this for you. So, yes. I get the pressure, but I want you to explore things, see places, do things that your parents didn’t get to do. It’s called wanting the best for our children. You’ll get it when you become a parent, too.

I assure you, son, I do know what it is like to be hurt, betrayed, lonely, abandoned, and confused. At 16, I went through things I never want to hear that you have gone through. Betrayed by those I thought could keep secrets. Hurt by many more. And, let’s not start with confusion. I haven’t met a teen yet who isn’t confused. And I hate to break it to you, but life isn’t less confusing 20 years later!

So, I’ve been 16. I’ve been pressured, broken, hurt, lonely, and confused.

But, you are right. You are different.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans for good, and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

You know God. This is something my 16 year old self knew nothing of.

Do you know what that means?

That friends will betray you. Life will always be confusing. Parents may never make sense. You may never fit in.

But you…you have God.

He will never betray you, or leave you lonely. He will make a way when life gets so confusing there could not possibly be a way out. He doesn’t want you to fit in with the rest of the world. He will give you courage to make tough decisions. Strength to get through any battle. Power to conquer any obstacle-grades, braces, girls, college, whatever.

You have God.

So, yes, You are right. You are different.

You are not the 16 year old version of me. Alone in her room. Terrified because her best-laid plans were crushed by circumstances, betrayal, and tough choices. Searching for hope in everything but the only one who could make her feel less lonely, less confused, less different.

You are right. You are different. You never have to feel like me at 16.

Because, you, my son, have God. And that makes all the difference.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fail in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in On Parenting

 

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The “Monster” in Our Home

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

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It’s a little after four in the afternoon. The bus has arrived. The routine questions have been asked, and the usual answers have been given. 

Then it begins. 

We have lasted a good few weeks without an afternoon meltdown. We have an afternoon routine established for Hunter that alleviates the need to throw himself on the ground outside. However, the snow days we have had recently has thrown a wrench into our perfectly planned afternoon routine. 

And so a meltdown begins to brew. All over a donut. A donut I said we would get one day. Today, of course, had to be that day. 

And so, my afternoon home with my children begins with picking Hunter up off the frozen solid ground. 

I have mentioned before that Hunter has autism. Although a mild form, Hunter is still a creature of habit. Many odd and sometimes tiring habits. Habits he refuses to break, and those we wouldn’t want to break. He also remembers EVERY thing. Things from years ago, and of course trips to Dunkin Donuts. Unfortunately, the sweet, happy-go-lucky youngster most people see turns into a screaming, kicking, stomping monster when habits or routines are broken, or when something he thinks should happen today, tomorrow, or next week does not.

It is often adhering to these habits and routines that can wear a parent down.

It’s often the screaming, kicking, stomping monster that makes a parent want to throw in the towel. Makes us remind God that we didn’t exactly sign up for this when we decided to have kids.

Sometimes, taming and calming the monster in our home is just plain exhausting. 

Sometimes, I admit it. This little boy can make me angry. He can wear on my patience. On my nerves.

And on most of these afternoons, I just feel alone.

I am genuinely glad that most people do not see the Hunter I see on many afternoons. I am glad most see the sweet, happy, and free little boy that for the most part he is, but sometimes, the fact that others get to see this side of my little boy also makes me angry. It makes me feel defeated.

It makes me feel alone.

It’s hard for people to understand when he is acting out in a grocery store because they don’t have banana yogurt, or because he has reached his two store limit. When he has fallen on the floor in a fit in the middle of the church. When he grunts and walks the other way when someone speaks to him.

It’s hard for people to understand just what I went through from the time the bus arrives to the time dinner is put on the table, especially if there are no Ramen Noodles (which we have to go to the grocery store and get NOW). No one else sees the many times I have had to restrain him so he won’t hit himself or bang his head. No one has had to witness his lying down in the middle of the street simply because I touched him. No one has had to listen to 20 minutes of screams that not even Hunter understands.

I’m glad no one has had to see this side of the monster in our home.

But, it doesn’t mean that on many days, I don’t feel alone.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Yet, I don’t have to feel alone, because I have this assurance from God that he is always with me.

He’s right there with me as I carefully place the laminated school busses back on the fridge door. He’s right there with me as I explain he misunderstood. That we were not going to Dunkin Donuts today.

He is there with me each and every time I have had to pick both he and I up off the bedroom floor. 

He is here with me when I just don’t know if I can handle another afternoon like the one before. 

When I am mad. When I am afraid. When I am ready to throw in the towel. When I am feeling that no one is there who understands or really gets it.

He lets me know I am never alone.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Autism and Faith

 

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