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God Nods

We all have a purpose. We may discover our purpose early or late in our lives. We may find it through a job, a hobby, a life circumstance, tragedy, or through a relationship. Sometimes our true purpose is so great, so impactful, that should God show us His plan, we would become fearful and consumed with doubt fleeing from the very thing we are called upon.

I’ve had more “God nods” in the past two years than I can even count.

Instead He shows us little flickers to guide us on our path. He sends people into our lives when we need them. A song you need to hear pops on the radio at the right time. A chance encounter with a stranger that eerily shares your struggles. Even a reassuring phone call from a friend who speaks truth to you when you need to hear it most. I like to call these “God nods”.

I’ve had more “God nods” in the past two years than I can even count. Looking back it has been perfectly orchestrated by His hand. I feel the need to tell you about one particular encounter that happened a few months after receiving the news of Scarlett’s autism. The news was still raw and I was very much still grieving but doing my best to stay strong in front of others. On this particular day I was filled with nervous excitement. I was meeting at the home of my mentor, Jennifer Allwood, to shoot footage with Sebastian De Geer of GeereD Up Films, LLC,  for her upcoming course. I knew there were going to be other business women there but was I unaware of who would be there.

(Pictured L-R: Michelle, owner of Boodle-Lou, me, Jennifer AllwoodChastity, of Chastity Stemmons Enterprises, and  Anna, owner of Inspired by YOU Jewlry )

Sitting around the table with Jen, Vicki, Jennifer’s assistant, Michelle, owner of Boodle-Lou, Anna, owner of Inspired by YOU Jewlry , and Chastity, of Chastity Stemmons Enterprises was one of the most impactful “God nod” moments I’ve experienced to date. I didn’t know it then but it was a major turning point for me; spiritually, personally, and for my business.

We individually spoke about what was going on in our businesses and small talked while we were each pulled away to film our specific part. As the women went around telling their stories, the cards started to fall in place. Anna was a school principal whose goal was to take her leather earring business full time. Michelle’s job was teaching children with special needs while she ran her furniture and decor business on the side. (You see where I’m going here, right?)

Then there was Chastity. You see, Chastity is one of those women who walks into a room and people stop dead in their tracks. She has a presence about her that is unmistakable. And when she speaks, you can’t help but listen. I was not ready for Chastity. I say that with all the love. I was not ready. I was not ready for the truths that this amazing woman was about to speak over me. I was not ready for her to shake me up and turn me inside out with her words spoken out of love.

She spoke that my purpose was being handed to me but I wasn’t receiving it. Her words of truth were unable to penetrate through my armor of grief. I couldn’t hear that the very thing that I was grieving was in fact my purpose. That my purpose was to be a voice for those who would come behind me on this journey. As she spoke over me the flood gates opened. Have you ever full on ugly cried in front of five women who you not only look up to but also just met in person? Well, that’s what I did.

Some people are brought into our lives to shake us up.

My first reaction was complete denial. I fought hard. I remember calling a friend on the ride home in tears. Thinking “who is this woman and what right does she have to say these things to me? She doesn’t know me! I AM accepting opportunities as they come to me! I AM walking in my purpose!” However, her prophecy lingered with me and ate away at the grief. I couldn’t get her words out of my heart. There was no shaking this. It took me months to let her words truly sink in. To fully accept His gift she spoke to me. As my grief diminished, her words grew louder. His nods became more frequent. I was not ready at all to step into my calling. Looking back, I NEEDED His truth to spill out over me more in that moment than I’ve ever needed it before. He sent Chastity because I NEEDED shaking. I NEEDED to be turned inside out. I NEEDED to be awakened.

I tell you this because I could have missed this moment if I would have let my nervousness of the unknown give me an excuse not to go that day. I could have missed the opportunity to receive His gift had I refused to let it reach my heart.

LADIES! Do it scared. Do it nervous. Do it unsure. Pay attention to the gifts given to you. Then RECEIVE THEM! Pull them close and take them in. It is a gift for you for the taking. Some people are brought into our lives to shake us up. Take time to listen.

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Julie of Ohana Swirls, Tells Us Her Autism Story

May, May is here and autism awareness month.. was last month, right?

For us, autism is daily. It’s been our life for 14 years.

A journey, that has had the lowest of lows and many gifts in happiness too. Lowest of lows, waking up at 7am on Sunday morning in 2009 and discovering my son, age, 6, was not in the house, no where! My husband had just deployed for a 6 month tour of Iraq. My youngest was asleep.. and Brandon was gone! It was certainly the scariest time for me! Thus began the time of many sleepless nights and long days. He was so challenging to be around, the screaming and carrying on. We rarely received a break or respite, to recharge. I began to trust the care of Brandon & his brother to therapists that were familiar with autism, simply so I could have a break from the insanity, that was our life. It was a very difficult stressful time.

We’d shudder in the house, so afraid as to the reactions or behavior of going out to the store, let alone Disney World. After years of ABA ( Applied Behavior Analysis) therapist accompanied community outings, we embarked on the ” Happiest Place on Earth”.. well, our first venture was anything but happy, resulting in my “mama meltdown”. The last straw, after days of the stares and glares toward my son and one college age gal received the brunt of it. Maybe next time, she’ll think twice of continual glances toward a child having behavioral challenges, after all we’d paid to have an enjoyable time and autism was certainly challenging us at every opportunity, it seemed! We persevered, re-adjusted our daily plans to include less stimulation and more calming activities. We did the best we could and left the door open for another possible visit.

We did return, a few years later after winning a week’s stay at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. He was older, he’d worked through some struggles. We were more seasoned. We re- visited previous challenges .. and guess what- he did fantastic! Truly, a gift to know the “Happiest Place on Earth”, could be that for us too!

Autism really strained Brandon & my relationship. I felt disconnected from him. Maybe it wasn’t disconnected, I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep and having to be on high alert, all. the. time. I was simply in survival mode and trying to have some sort of normalcy for the rest of the family. My husband worked a lot. It was so hard. People would say, it will get easier, as he gets older. It was really hard to think about the future, when I was trying to get through the present. Brandon wasn’t communicating, he was being taught to use a communication device, which he still uses today, “Speak For Yourself”. We tried different therapies, like therapeutic painting, music therapy, occupational therapy & speech therapy too. We’d overcome the wandering and running. We’d see progress in some areas and regression in others. We’d read books, lots of books, went to conferences, doctor’s visits, trying to seek a solution, a cure to stop the madness! Trying to figure out how we had a child that was catergorized as severely autistic. I mean, how does that happen? We just had to stop and listen to our gut and do what seemed to be the right thing.

It’d seemed like the right people came into our lives at the right time. Knowing what we needed, even if we didn’t. Often times, we’d simply go on trust, that maybe they could help our lives be a little calmer.

Once he turned 13, it was like a switch. Behaviors changed. It was as if his brain and body had a conversation, and the result was this is who you are. Be content. Just be. This shift combined with my learnings from yoga, I planned a trip, Brandon & I. We flew to visit relatives for 2 weeks. It was a pivotal point for each of us and our family. Terrified as I was , filled with anxiety, I managed to calm and enjoy.

While on the vacation, I had an opportunity to participate in an art class. I learned of felting scarves. A new and different art form, which left me wanting to learn more. One of my classmates, had an alpaca farm. She invited my family and I to visit. I instantly fell in love with these beautiful creatures. Their personalities reminded me of Brandon. They are quiet, inquisitive and very aware of their surroundings. I returned home, feeling refreshed and energized that I’d conquered my greatest fear! I’d been told gifts would be on the opposite of the fear.

Before I knew it, I’d created an online business, “Ohana Swirls, a boy. a mom. art. their autism journey”. All in efforts to teach Brandon functional job skills utilizing products he’d made. We sell notecards of his paintings. He folds the cards and fills the envelopes and counts in sets of five. We’ve recently added birdhouses. He builds and paints each individually. Profits from his birdhouses go into his ABA therapy. Sometimes we do a Facebook Live, where you have the opportunity to watch and interact with him. He really enjoys knowing whose watching him on FaceBook. It also gives me a chance to explain and maybe help our FB friends understand autism a little more than they did before.

My beautiful alpaca & merino wool scarves are also available in our shop. I really enjoy the creative process! They also make great table runners! Something fun & different!

Just think, if I’d never taken the trip with Brandon, Ohana Swirls wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet all the amazing people that have encouraged me along the way. Truly, an idea on a whim.. simply never know where life will lead.. Ohana is Hawaiian for family and Swirls is for the art, that is now and the future.

We’d love for you to visit us and follow us on our autism journey. Brandon continually amazes me and I think most times I learn a bit more from him, than he does from me! <3

Much aloha,

Julie
Ohana Swirls. a boy. a mom. art. their autism journey.
ohanaswirls@gmail.com
etsy.com/shop/ohanaswirls
facebook.com/ohanaswirls
instagram.com/ohanaswirls

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Baking Up A Difference

Last Thursday Kerryn, Christina and I had the honor of presenting our donation check to the middle school aged children and faculty at Autism Works. This was our first time at their facility and I promise you it will not be our last.

During our visit we had the privilege of meeting Executive Director Dessarey Klarlund and hear her story. It was both emotional and powerful. She founded Autism Works when she saw a need for her own son who has Autism. I love hearing of peoples “why”. Boy, has she made a difference! I was surprised to hear that Autism Works is the only organization in the Kansas City area that provides support and programs for the Autism Community.

 

#LIVE at Autism Works!

Posted by Sweet & Saucy Life on Thursday, May 10, 2018

To learn more about the services they offer you can find them on Facebook here or visit their website at www.autism-works.org 

All of this would not have been possible without you purchasing the ebook and your generous monetary donations. Thank you again for continuing to show love to me and our family and the causes close to our heart.

Love and sprinkles,
April

*Photo Credit: Christina Marie Z Photography