Social Media, Special Needs, The World We Live In

The Good Preacher

Before yesterday, I’d heard the name of Pastor Greg Locke— mostly because of his removal from the Twitter Platform and his political views.

Before yesterday, I’d paid no mind to Pastor Greg Locke— there is not a whole lot he and I have in common.

Before yesterday, I’d not much to say about Pastor Greg Locke.

But, that was before yesterday.

That was before one of his sermons began to make rounds— one that made my heart hurt and initiated a viscerally angry response all at once.

The good preacher delivered an uneducated and incredibly misguided sermon this past weekend. I subjected myself to the whole video of it because I wanted to be clear what I was hearing. I wanted to be clear that there wasn’t room for misunderstanding.

“Your kid could be demonized and attacked, but your doctor calls it autism,” he exhorted.

“Ain’t no such diagnosis in the Bible,” he evangelized.

While it is true that there “ain’t no such diagnosis in the Bible,” to be fair, there are a lot of ailments that aren’t in the Bible and we don’t refer to them as demonic possession of any sort.

This kind of dialogue is damaging.

The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder is 1 in 44 and while you might think that that makes it common, it is still commonly misunderstood.

Since my oldest son’s diagnosis I have spent EVERY single day advocating for awareness and acceptance and fighting for inclusion, for services, for insurance coverage…Every. Single.Day.

Hateful speech like that espoused by the good preacher only makes the misunderstanding grow. It only further seeks to alienate our children.

This kind of dialogue is dangerous.

You don’t have to search too hard to find stories within the special needs community of parents who are searching for hope and find messaging like that of the good preacher’s.

You don’t have to search too hard to find out what happens when those same parents take drastic and harmful action based on these kinds of beliefs.

You don’t have to search too hard to find the stories of a parent who drowned their special needs child believing they were possessed or the stories of parents who feed their children bleach thinking that will “fix” them.

Yes, speech that pontificates like the good preacher’s only further spreads misinformation, mistreatment, and hate.

Last night, after realizing that he’d come under fire for his words, Pastor Greg Locke doubled down on his words.

He offered no remorse or apology, but dug his heels in.

He went on to attack anyone who disagreed with him and did so in the name of God.

If this is the type of man you follow while searching for your salvation, I would suggest perhaps you search elsewhere because God is not in his messaging.

That is not God in his words.

God is love. God is not hate.

My two boys have autism. They are good and perfect gifts from above. God knew them and formed them in the womb and made them in His image.

God doesn’t make mistakes.

There’s a lot more I could say about the good preacher, but I’m a lady and Christian, so I will refrain and instead pray for his misguided soul.

Bless his heart.

The World We Live In

What Have We Learned?

A year ago I sat in disbelief watching the events of the insurrection unfold in the Capitol Building.

I’d seen similar events in movies.

I’d seen newsreels of similar events in other countries.

I never thought I would see it here.

But it did.

It did. It happened. Rioters stormed our Nation’s Capitol Building attempting to stop our electoral process. Some attempting things much more nefarious carrying zip ties or having previously erected gallows outside the building. Some may have just been caught up in the moment and along for the ride. Whatever their motivations, it happened.

It happened and we can’t pretend it didn’t.

We can’t forget it happened for, as Winston Churchill once wrote, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Now, I try my best to be overtly political here or anywhere on social media to be honest. My opinions are my own and nothing a random user on Facebook news page is going to say to me is going to change that or vice versa. So, I save it.

I would be a fool to think that everyone thinks or believes the same as I. I firmly believe if we truly took time to listen to others, we may learn something— something about their beliefs, something about them, or something about ourselves. But, I know that isn’t how everyone thinks about such things.

So, I apologize if this piece isn’t your cup of tea.

The thing is after watching our president’s speech, I find all that happened a year ago today still feels so heavy.

The way our country works is that once every four years we vote for our president. Once every four years one candidate wins and one loses. One candidate’s supporters are happy and one candidate’s supporters aren’t. Then we all move on and do it again four years later. That’s how it works.

What we don’t do is stage attempt to stage a coup, storm the Capitol Building, and carry out an insurrection.

That is not how things work.

I’ll let you in on a little secret— I haven’t always voted for the winner.

Nope, sure haven’t.

But, I’ve never wanted to see duly elected president fail. And you shouldn’t either. If they succeed or fail, we all succeed or fail. We should root for each other and want to succeed. In a perfect world, we should want every four years to continually be better than the previous ones.

When George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton the outgoing president left a letter for his successor that said in part, “Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Bush got it right.

I hope we can all embrace his sentiment as we never forget the history behind us.

We all win together.

We all lose together.

Let us not forget.

Holidays and Occasions, The World We Live In

I’m Feeling ‘22

Here we are— another New Year’s Eve. It feels like I just sat down to reflect on the year that was 2020.

After a year that was long and hard, 2021 seemed to move at a faster pace. The world began to reopen. Life began to resume. Things felt more like, dare I say, normal, even if they weren’t.

We laughed. We played. We traveled. We welcomed new ones, welcomed back loved ones, and mourned as a others were welcomed to their eternal home.

The wheel of life kept rolling on.

The children grew in ways I did and didn’t see coming. They found new passions in things they learned and things they did. They climbed mountains and conquered challenges. They made new friends, tried new things, and throughout it all they maintained their spirits and their laughter sustained me.

My husband and I celebrated 14 years together in this adventure we call life. We continue to laugh and love and hold on to each other. Life is less scary when because I’ve got someone by my side who sees the real me and is still willing to hold my hand.

I took the lessons of 2020 and focused in 2021 on who and what is important to me.

There is only so much time in this life and I choose to spend mine in ways that matter to me.

I volunteered where I felt called.

I learned to say no and do so without guilt.

I made new friends and grew older with the old.

I shared— my heart, my feelings, my ideas, my words.

I learned it is okay to walk away from relationships or commitments that no longer grow me in positive ways.

I don’t know what it is about New Year’s Eve, but it makes us feel like there is a fresh start ahead.

In reality, aside from the calendar changing, not much else does. Yet every year this night comes with a promise of hope and feeling that a blank slate is stretched out in front of all of us.

The world begins again tonight and anything, yes, anything is possible.

I hope the year ahead brings more joy and less tears.

I hope the hard lessons of the past two years never leave us, but grow us and continue to remind us what is precious.

I hope we all never stop learning, loving, and laughing our way through our days.

I hope that somewhere in this year ahead, we all find or do or make something that brings us joy.

I hope that we are all here this time next year to reflect on the year that was.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling ‘22.

Parenting, Social Media, The World We Live In

It Starts At Home

There was an incident at our local high school yesterday with a threat made via social media.

Shortly after the news broke the story, because the media, they always come, the district issued a response. They explained a threat had been made, the student responsible had been identified and removed, and that at no time was anyone in the building in danger.

It seemed to me our school district and the local police department had it handled. As someone who lived through a lockdown or two in high school, I was satisfied with the response they provided. That, however, was not the case for everyone. Worried parents flocked to social media and as I am sure you can imagine the rumor mill started working.

Turns out, the incident in question was a vague threat issued by a kid who reached his breaking point over bullying. On a community Facebook page alive with discussion on this topic, the mom of the said student explained that, while inexcusable, her son has been bullied and he chose to make a Snapchat post that was stupid and wrong.

Her comments were met with a mixed bag of reactions.

There were those who had similar stories from their children about being bullied endlessly and there were those who chose to illustrate the point of what a bully is in their replies.

All of it got me thinking.

No way, no how should anyone ever make someone else feel unsafe, but at the same time, how long can we expect to push someone and they not reach their breaking point?

Right or wrong, you can only beat someone down for so long before they act out. We hear stories about this constantly where a children hurt themselves or end their lives or choose violence because they feel like there is no other way to go.

We blame social media. Yes, it certainly exaggerates the issues. We blame video games and movies and maybe those have some effect on actions. We blame the schools for not doing enough and maybe they could do more. All those pieces have a part in it.

But, it starts at home, Friends.

We need to stop clutching our pearls and feigning surprise. We need to be a bit introspective and look within ourselves. Children learn what they live and it starts at home.

Just take a gander through comments on social media posts– the way adults are speaking to each other is disgusting. We are living in the age of the keyboard warrior. It should be of little surprise that our children are watching and modeling our behavior.

How can we expect better of our children if we can’t do better ourselves?

Social media, entertainment, school environments, and peer pressure– they all play a part, but so do we as parents. We are responsible for raising up the next generation into fine adults.

Now, I understand that sometimes, we can do all the right things as parents and impart all the good lessons, but once away from us our little loves can choose to make poor choices. It is in those moments that we, as parents, have to take responsibility for our children and not excuse their poor behavior.

I challenge you to ask your child questions and dig a little deeper. Are they speaking with kindness and being a friend to everyone? Are they using social media responsibly and appropriately? Are they speaking up for others? If they can’t be kind are they being quiet?

The true content of our character is found in how we treat others.

The World We Live In

Where Are You Then?

Back to school is in full swing this year. Things are looking and feeling a little bit normal. Our school district opted to begin the year with masks optional in the buildings. While I had mixed feelings about that, I was confident the administration had the best interest of all the students at heart and I fully expected mask guidelines to change eventually.

Last week the number of students in quarantine rose and it was time for the district to pivot.

As of this past Monday, masks were no longer recommended, but required to attend school in our district. I supported that decision and for a lot of reasons, but most selfishly, I DO NOT want to have to do remote learning again EVER if it is unavoidable. I also understand that masks keep everyone safe. Sure, my kids are healthy. They don’t have any underlying conditions that we know of. They might catch COVID and likely they would be okay, but that isn’t the same for every child. One sick child is one too many as far as I am concerned. We should do our part to protect our most vulnerable ones.

Now, my opinions on masks are my own. I understand people disagree. They are entitled to that just as I am entitled to feel as I do. I’m not a doctor nor am I a scientist, but I am a mom who can tell you we did not have one case of the flu or a cold in our house last winter. That never happens! You will not convince me that the masks had zero part in that.

However, supporting masks or not is not the point of this piece here.

(Back to life in our small community with the announcement of the mask requirement…)

People lost their ever loving minds over this.

I have no other way to describe it. From fighting with other neighbors on a community Facebook page to hatred and threats being spewed to planning protests. One of my children even watched as a fellow student was removed from a school bus by police for refusing to wear a mask on the way home or leave the bus on their own free will.

It. Was. Wild.

You may think that because I don’t agree with the methods employed that I don’t agree with standing up for something you believe in.

Let me be perfectly clear– that is not it at all.

I believe in your right to dissent. I believe in your right to protest. But disrupting my child’s education, making them or the teachers, staff, and administrators feel unsafe, or attempting to bully a bus driver? Pegging yourself as a “patriot” and a “freedom fighter” as you hide behind the keyboard calling the PTA president a “puppet” or the superintendent a “weasel?” That ain’t it, Kid. That ain’t it.

I truly hope all of these parents who are so fired up about the mask requirement at our schools stay fired up.

Please, by all means, keep that fire, but let’s channel that energy into something a bit more productive.

Attend board meetings regularly.

Volunteer at your child’s school.

Help out with the PTA.

Support the faculty and staff.

Coach the sports team.

Be a Scout leader.

Don’t just show up when it suits you.

All I am saying is that if you have time to plan a protest at the Board of Education on a random Tuesday morning, you certainly have time to read a book to your kid’s class or help serve muffins at a PTA event. Sorry not sorry.

I can admit in the past I didn’t have or make the time to volunteer like I do now. I am totally not throwing shade at anyone who legitimately cannot contribute more than they already do. I get it. We all have lives and other obligations that may prevent us from doing all we would like to do.

But those are not the people I am talking about.

I am talking about these loud, angry parents who are vocal for something they don’t like and they think negatively affects them. They make the time in their lives to fit in protesting or attending a board meeting because this time they are big mad. They have hours to argue with a neighbor on Facebook, but have their feelings hurt when someone questions them. They have all the time for that. Cool.

But, what I want to know is where are you the rest of the time?

When the youth foundation is asking for coaches? When the scout troops need more adult involvement? When the schools need supplies? When the PTA is BEGGING for more than just the same handful of giving parents to help? When your child’s teacher needs you? When the board meetings are just regular business? When another human being needs an advocate or some compassion and you won’t directly benefit from putting a hand out to help?


I know where you’re not.


Yes, keep that passion. But let’s harness it and channel it into more than just this one moment where you feel so wronged that you just can’t help but speak up. Because if we could just all work together and work for good, damn…

What a wonderful world that would be.

A Few of My Favorite Things, The World We Live In

It Was Just A Dog

We lost our old dog, Molly, yesterday.

She got sick on Sunday, we found out it was cancer and bad on Monday, and by Wednesday, she was gone.

We made the hardest decision a dog owner can ever have to make. I know that it was the right choice, but my heart just isn’t at the place where it accepts what my mind knows.

And it hurts. And it is going to hurt for a long, long time.

“It was just a dog.”

I’ve heard people say that. I am sure I have been guilty of thinking or saying it from time to time myself.

But I can assure you, from the bottom of my heart, Molly was never just a dog.

No, my Friends, she was so much more.

We brought her home as an engaged couple months before our marriage. She followed us along on our adventures. She moved with us and was there when we welcomed home our four babies. She kept me company when Josh worked night shift for so many years. She sat beside me when I was sick with morning sickness and laid next to me when I lost a baby. She kept watch over our children and was there through it all. She is as much sewn into the fabric of our lives and the pages of our story as we are.

Her loss is one that will hurt for a long time and she’s left a Molly sized hole here.

I don’t know if there is a heaven, but I’d like to believe it’s there. I can only hope it exists and that if I make it, a little black dog with a wild wagging tail is there to meet me.

So, you see, no, she wasn’t just a dog. She was family and she’s going to missed for forever.

Parenting, Special Needs, The World We Live In

Something ‘Bout This Time of Year…

Tomorrow is the last day of the school year. A year that has felt like a really long year– like really, REALLY long.

Last school year ended in a bit of dumpster fire, but in a lot of ways the 2020-21 year told the previous one to hold its proverbial beer.

But, it is ending with a bit more normalcy than we’ve seen in the last 14 or so months.

My kids’ schools were able to put on some treasured year end traditions. They made things like our annual field day happen. They gave the kids a chance to take a break from all the hard work and let them be kids like they had been pre-COVID.

Our superintendent sent a beautiful email today thanking all of us for our hard work and collaboration and for a successful school year. He encouraged us to take the next few months to relax, disconnect, and be families.

And I am here for it.

I am ready for the slower pace of summer. I am ready for the extra time with my kids and to take a break from the daily grind.

However, if you are anything like me, this ending is bittersweet.

To be perfectly honest, the end of every school year is a little bittersweet to me. It signals the end of another chapter. I’m not so good with endings or goodbyes.

It also makes me aware of how speedy the 18 summers of childhood go by.

There was a lot of growth with all four of my kids in my home. Tomorrow after we pick them up one last time we’ll celebrate all they achieved– honor roll, killing virtual learning, mastering counting numbers and reciting the alphabet. We will celebrate all of the big and the small wins.

As this school year ends, that’s what I want to remind you to do, my friends– celebrate ALL the wins.

Maybe your Senior is graduating after a really strange last two years of high school. They’re donning caps and gowns and ready to set the world on fire.

Maybe your middle school child learned a new skill this year or tested into a higher level of a subject academically. They did this in the midst of a pandemic, y’all.

Maybe your painfully shy child stepped outside of their shell and made new friends. They cultivated these friendships in all sorts of new and creative ways this year.

Maybe your child rocked their IEP goals. Now they are off to the next level of learning when a few months ago this didn’t even seem possible.

Maybe your child just made it. Maybe they just survived the year and are no worse for the wear. That’s okay too.

Celebrate it all because they just moved their mountain and they’re on to the next one.

And in the words of the late great Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way!”

Happy Summer, friends. Only 100 short days until we get to do it all again. Let’s make them count!

Parenting, Social Media, Special Needs, The World We Live In

Raising Them Kind

Kind people are my kind of people.

The older I have gotten I found this to be more and more true. I don’t have the time or patience for pettiness and being mean simply because you can.

When I was pregnant with my oldest I remember telling my husband that our child could be anything they wanted to be, but they couldn’t be the “mean kid.” There would be no bullies in this house. I’ve spent my 11 years in parenting reinforcing that believe in my children.

I’ve tried my best to raise them up and raise them kind along the way.

I’ve taught them to think before they speak– is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If you can’t answer yes to all three of those questions then perhaps you shouldn’t say it. That doesn’t mean they can’t stand up for themselves or assert themselves, but it does mean they do it in a respectful manner.

Becoming a parent of two boys with special needs really puts kindness in a whole different light for me.

We live in a world that isn’t built for those who are different, who doesn’t accept those who don’t “fit” and is quite often unkind because of it. The thought of this is quite possibly what broke my heart the hardest on diagnosis day– that the world was harsh and I couldn’t fix that for either of them or couldn’t always shelter them from the hurt ahead.

We fight every single day for acceptance and inclusion and yes, kindness for our boys. My little guys are the sweetest, most loving boys and just want that in return.

There have been moments like the time at school pick up that Jack introduced me to “Friend,” a little boy who would go on to become his best friend, that have made me feel so hopeful.

There have been those moments of pain when my heart has broken for them like when a neighbor child purposely excluded them loudly exclaiming that she didn’t want to play with them because of how “weird” they are. The response from her mother about it broke my heart even more.

My daughters see this and it has made them both two of the most empathetic humans you could meet. I see their kind hearts reflected in how hard they love their brothers, how they stand up for them and in the friends they choose to surround themselves with.

Kindness starts at home.

It starts with me. I know I have fallen short at times, but I do my hardest to remember the lessons I’ve impressed upon my kids and walk the walk. I’ve give the grace to others that I wish to see and I find myself drawn to like minded others.

This week I connected with an amazing mama who I am so excited to get to know better. We met at a park and the time flew as we chatted about everything– our husbands, kids, families, favorite pediatricians, common therapists and experiences. It was awesome and I am excited to see how we can use our voices and platforms for good.

We live in a world that seems to put a kindness in the column labeled weakness.

I completely reject that notion– you can be kind and not be a doormat. Take a scroll through social media comment sections and you’ll see what I am talking about. I experienced some of it firsthand last month while sharing our story during World Autism Month. It’s disheartening, really.

But, here’s the thing. Kindness isn’t weakness. Kindness doesn’t go out of fashion. Kindness is free. It is up to us to speak up and speak out to make this world a better place and leave things better than we found them.

It starts with you and me.

It starts in our homes.

So, let’s raise them kind as we raise them up.

Lindsay Althaus of The Althaus Life Toledo Moms Jūpmode

Parenting, Special Needs, The World We Live In

World Autism Day

World Autism Day is today– April 2nd.

This is our fourth World Autism Day. The irony is not lost on me that it was a beautiful day much like today in April, a month that shines the light on Autism, some years ago when we became personally aware of Autism as it entered our lives.

I could pepper you with statistics– 1 in 54 children are living with Autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Autism comes with a slew of co-morbid conditions. Early intervention is essential. Funding for much needed therapies can be very difficult to obtain. There is no cure.

But the stats are stats and what is more important than stats are the living breathing 1 in 54 people those stats represent.

What is important are the advocates out here fighting for awareness and acceptance.

What is important is making the world a kinder, more inclusive place for those living with Autism.

On this day you may see feeds similar to mine flooded with words about Awareness and Acceptance. Both are important so, so important.

I believe that awareness leads to understanding and understanding leads to inclusion and inclusion leads to acceptance. As a mama to two amazing little boys on the spectrum, that is all I want for my boys– acceptance. I want them to be included, feel loved, be treated with respect and kindness, and be accepted for everything that they are.

Autism is a part of them, but it is not the definitive part or the sum of all their parts. It is just a piece of the puzzle that makes them whole. They are kind and sweet boys who love hard and deserve acceptance.

We celebrate our children on this day. We celebrate them for who they are and who they will be. We celebrate them for all the hard fought, hard won accomplishments. We celebrate the families and the caregivers. We celebrate the friends. We celebrate the teachers and the therapists.

We celebrate each and every single person who sees us and loves and accepts our family.

My hope is that on this World Autism Day you take some time to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder. My hope is that you will talk to your children and teach them about differences and being accepting and kind. Talk to them about inclusion and understanding.

Because I promise you if you do you will be part of the change this world needs.

You will be part of the change OUR world needs.

I would not change my boys for the world, but I surely would change the world for them.

Special Needs, The World We Live In

Speak Up and Speak Out

A stapler. A piece of paper. Staples.

Basic office supplies, right?

Now imagine you sent your child to school only to have them come home with a note to you that had been stapled to their head.

I bet you would be pretty pissed off.

Now imagine you were then told by the superintendent that the person responsible for this, an aide in your child’s classroom, was only going to receive a note, a warning in their personnel file not to do it again. She’s still in a classroom and with vulnerable children.

I bet you would be livid.

This isn’t a made up scenario.

It happened.

It happened to a little boy with Autism in Boardman, Ohio.

This child is verbal and was able to tell his mother what happened. Had he not been, there is a pretty good chance that she would have never known because the school did not notify her about it.

Take that in– an aide stapled a note to a child’s head and then they didn’t even tell the parent about it.

I tell you what, this isn’t even my child and my level of anger and disgust about this incident is through the roof.

This is an example of why I spread awareness and why I advocate and talk so much about my boys.

Even though my children are in a educational setting where they are loved and treated with dignity and respect and cared for, I will continue to speak up and speak out for other children who aren’t as lucky.

So, if you’ve been following this story like I have, you may be wondering what you can do?

Reach out to the Boardman Local Schools Board of Education. Tell them that a written reprimand is not enough. Tell them that their attempt to sweep this under the rug will not go unnoticed.

Speak up and speak out because all of our children deserve better than what the Boardman Local Schools has given this child.

Contact info for Boardman Schools:

Vickie Davis, Board President
John Landers, Board Vice President
Jeff Barone, Board Member
John Fryda, Board Member
Frank Zetts, Board Member

Tim Saxton, Superintendent
(330) 726-3404

fcvblogsquad #floodthefeed #macadematters #boardmanohio