On being forged into a warrior mom

If I could summarize our journey from Hell to HOPEISM, it would be in my faith, which I call HOPEISM. It has been my weapon of choice to get me through each battle I have had to fight in my mission to win our war called life with autism and seizures. Vaccine injury to be more specific. It would also be in committing to heart, soul, & mind the words and motto's from Forged, NDCQ, the Lone Survivor, and Levi Lusko in his book, "Through the Eyes of a Lion." I will be forever grateful to the inspiration, encouragement, and mental fortitude found through all of them collectively. Because of that, I am not allowing this tragedy of vaccine injury that has come into our lives to be an obstacle to being used by God. I am instead turning it into an opportunity to be used like never before!

This blog is dedicated to Brandon. His life has been forged by difficulty, obstacles, & all too often because of seizures - pain, blood, broken teeth, & broken bones. Yet through all that he has shown such fortitude. The bravery, strength, & resilience of a true warrior. He taught me that having strength through adversity means that even if you lose every battle, like the Lone Survivor, you never quit fighting until you win the war. That in the words of "NDCQ," you keep "dreaming," keep "daring," & keep "doing." As Team Guppy has yet to be able to escape vaccine injury, we have no choice but to as Levi Lusko writes, "Run toward the Roar." God has indeed given us such incredible power in enduring such impossible pain.

Some days the HOPEISM in that simply takes my breath away.

November 5, 2015

In the Shadow of a Lie

My written testimony for the IACC
               November 2015

My name is Michelle Guppy, parent of a severely affected adult with "autism" -which we all know is not autism at all, but vaccine injury.  Those responsible for causing it and those who do nothing about it in the medical industry - call it autism to avoid any awkward guilt of having been absolutely apathetic about causing it and too cowardly to admit it. "Pharma's profit and our political career protected at all cost!" is their secret motto!

My son is 22.  He cannot read, write, or speak.  He has autoimmune bowel disease, PANDAS, seizures, chronic yeast infections and a host of other illnesses that I guess I made up because no one in any medical center has ever been brave enough to acknowledge it.  Only those physicians who either have their own vaccine-injured child or who were brave enough to believe parents and left traditional medicine to actually rediscover what medicine was supposed to be about all along -- healing.  Healing, not prescribing.  Listening, not doubting because "it just can't be".

I testified before this very committee in November 2013.  You are welcome to view my blog where I shared about that experience.   At the bottom of that blog is a video of what my testimony was that day.  I encourage you to listen to it.  I have the same things to say for this meeting, plus these new remarks. 

Oral Testimony at IACC

Blog about IACC Strategic Planning

Not one thing has changed since I attended that meeting.  Not one thing has changed for any of our children since the very first IACC meeting. Except that they are now adults with even fewer options.  With even more exhausted parents.  Who are even more in debt because insurance still won't cover treatments that actually work.  Except that more are diagnosed with "autism" -- and more will have no doctor in their medical centers who know a thing about testing and treatment.  More doctors in mainstream medicine will refuse to attend biomedical conferences by other doctors who have been brave enough to listen to parents and who are successfully helping their patients overcome pain, make progress, and gasp! work toward healing!   More parents will have need for respite services that aren't there or that they cannot afford.  More "children" will age out of public school and not have been properly educated or prepared for vocational anything and will have nowhere to go.  Our children need "college" not institutions.  Lifelong assistance on working toward skills.

I sat at my desk with a blank document for a week now.  Simply paralyzed.   There is so much I need to share in this letter of testimony to each of you on the IACC that I have simply not been able to sort it out to begin.  But something happened last night that helped me.  Yet another crisis.  From yet another mom.  I will share snippets of our conversations, and those from other warrior parents.  I want all of you on this committee to read their words.  Their cries for help.  And never forget them.  These words reflect what is happening to parents all across America.  Warrior moms and dads and caregivers who have given their all for so long and who are simply exhausted.  Their "HOPEISM" and their "NDCQ" (Not Dead Can't Quit) mentality that has held them up for so long - cracking to the point of wanting to just surrender.  Wanting to just die.

Why is this happening?  Why are parents at their breaking point?  Because people like each of you on these committees will not listen to parents.  You will not go where the truth leads nor where the need lies.  For fear of what it might make you have to confront.  So instead, you study the same things over and over, things that have been asked and answered but no action ever taken.

And all the while parents like me are helping pull back parents who I am speaking of from the edge of despair.  I don't pity us parents and our trials.  I pity those of you who are made aware of our trials, our needs, yet do nothing.

This is not just one parent -- I hear these same vents, these same cries for help from many!  We parents who are overwhelmed with our own children and adults cannot physically help in these situations!  We need help ourselves!  We need crisis caregivers and a safe Prescription drug free place where they can get help and we can get sleep!  Respite!  Reprieve!  We need doctors who understand that autism is medical, NOT psychological!  We need healing, not prescription drugs!  We need treatments and testing, not restraints and more prescription drugs!  We need short term residential options that will honor and respect use of supplements, special diets, and individualized treatment plans.  Where?  Where is such a place that parents can afford and don't have to be on a waiting list?  Behavioral meltdowns and crisis' do not wait until the child's name comes up on a waiting list.

This from a parent:
Well ya know he seems okay, til he's not! We all cried ourselves to sleep around 1. Talked about family suicide, that's just so not normal. We r just going through so much.  I can't stop crying and I know I have to calm down but I'm not handling it all. Too many days without sleep! I'm scared, of so many things that I feel paralyzed.  I've got to help him somehow! I know that it's his stomach as well because it's happening right after food!  I'm teetering on the edge of despair!  Either God will intervene or.... Life will be not worth living!

This from a parent:

It's sad that other people don't have any idea the life we live. The despair, the constant struggle

This from a parent:
I don't know if I'm okay .... it's all just too much. It's so hard to have NO HELP so I can work.  I'm gonna call and get his teeth done, even though stupid insurance won't pay. I don't know what to do. Maybe his teeth hurt. THEN, I'm going to go to the neurologist and see about these crazy incidents being seizures? What else is there? I surrender.  Surely God cares, I just can't tell anymore

How many more similar messages must be shared with this committee for you to understand the emergency this epidemic of vaccine injury, excuse me, "autism" is?

The meeting I attended to give oral testimony was during a strategic planning.  There were items listed for people on the committee to "discuss" that any parent like me could have drawn out a treatment and action plan for in one day.  It took this committee a year to look into those things!  Things we've been begging organizations and committees to take action on for years.

Part of the problem is that the scope of this committee is too large.  There must be two separate committees to address the needs of both ends of this diverse spectrum.  Those who are higher functioning and who can speak for themselves, and those like the majority of our children who are non-verbal and significantly affected.  To have high functioning "Asperger" adults or professionals on a committee addressing the needs of those like my son is not appropriate.  They have no clue what our lives are like.  We need parents on this committee -- parents who know what is needed.  What it's like.   The entire first half of each of your meetings should be parent presenters or independent thinking professionals and physicians who actually help heal our children.  Then the second half of your meetings is making what they share that is needed -- happen.

In closing -- though I have much more to say -- I will say this...  If you want to truly know what the issues are for us, ask us.  Set up an online survey and ask.  Ask what are fears are, our needs are, what is working, what isn't.   And if you want to actually be the committee who does something about it -- believe what we say.  And act on it.

Back to my friends in crisis...

One of them has an adult son who is non-verbal.  He has a myriad of iatrogenic and epigenetic disorders that cause him to have periods of behavior issues because he is in pain and cannot communicate that.  He has aged out of public school, and his parents fear he will be dismissed from the private program because of medical based behavior manifestations that he cannot control.  His parents have gone to infinity and beyond for him and still cannot find consistent medical care nor can they afford to pay for things that might help that insurance won't cover or that are deemed illegal to medically use.  They both work just to care for him, and if he must leave this program, one of his parents will have to stay home with him until they can somehow find another place that will accept him.  He needs 24-hour supervision.  He needs highly trained staff.  State-based institutions are not an option.  Parents like me, like all I know, would rather die than send their child to such an abusive restrictive incompetent prison.  As if there were even enough to hold all our children if we had to resort to that.

So tell me - what do I tell her?  What do I tell all who message me long after each of you are sleeping soundly?  Where do they turn?  Where can their children go? 
Who will help them?

I sure can't.  While my friends are living their own brand of hell, I'm living mine with seizures in my son.  I've been to every top Neurologist in my mega-medical center.  No help.  None.  It is I who bring research to them, and they who look at me dazed and confused.  One replying with, "Well, what's your end game for him?"

The truth is a lion.  It is a powerful thing.  It is a scary thing for those living a lie.  When that truth roars in the jungle, many instinctively run away if they value their life.  Their career.  But few....only a few brave souls run toward that roar.  Pursuing truth at all cost is greater than any harm or death that might happen in its pursuit.  Dr. Wakefield was one such person.  Recently, RFK, Jr. another such.  Many parents and advocates and thinking organizations and physicians have run toward that roar.  Recently the Nation of Islam has joined the ranks of those brave souls running toward the roar of truth. 

What will this committee do?

Will you run toward the roar in pursuit of truth for what has happened to an entire generation of our children who are fast becoming adults, or will you remain in the safety of the shadow of a lie?

Your position, your influence on this committee means that you agree to be a pacesetter in addressing the epidemic of "autism" and all that goes with it.

If you do nothing, if you do not run toward that roar and do all it takes to help our children, you will still be a pacesetter.

You will have simply decided that there will be no pace.

June 8, 2015

I have 99 stressors

I recently wrote this as a Facebook post ---

I have 99 stressors and 102 of them could be solved by being able to take back all the vaccinations I allowed.
It's that kind of weekend.......
Autism sucks.
And all I see in my news feed is how they want to give Bruce Jenner some "courage" award. Bite me. Courage is what our kids do daily -- having to live with something they don't understand, are in pain because of, but cannot change with money or an operation. Courage is the parents whose lives have been uprooted, who can hardly find time to do or pursue any interest because of the never-ending relentless demands of autism. Courage is how they stay and face it each and every day. Finding a way to deal with what they cannot change. Courage is overcoming what defeats you no matter how many times it defeats you.

It seemed to strike a chord with many of my fellow autism warriors.  I can't pretend to know why or speak for them on why -- I just know why for me.

This past weekend was a particularly tough one.  Ok, it sucked.  Big time.  A wonderful consult with a wonderful autism doctor earlier that week led to a renewed commitment to following the ketogenic diet she has for my son.  She even shared recipes she uses which was a huge stumbling block for me - just figuring out what to cook, what ratio, etc.  Saturday I was to go shopping for all the ingredients and begin a cook-a-thon to have a bunch of meals for him ready to go.

I guess that was the beginning of it.  That yet another weekend would be consumed with yet more autism.  It's summer.  School's out.  We should be footloose and fancy free.  But no.  Lately autism has seemed like a huge solid mass sitting in the room that I could not move or escape seeing.  It was in every room.  In every aspect of life.  But it's more than a solid mass that bears a burden so heavy it breaks your back trying to move it - literally.  It's more a vapor.  It permeates every corner, crack, and crevice.  Saturday mornings are the mornings Todd gets up after sleeping in (for him) and gets Brandon, -- his bacon, his bath, etc. so that I can have a morning not doing those things.  But I guess when Todd got up, he went outside in the Log Cabin and I guess fell asleep in the chair in the remote corner you can't see from stepping outside the back door.  I got up, Brandon was up, and Todd was nowhere to be found.  I called, yelled, and literally called - his phone.  No answer.  I had no clue where he was....I did look out in the Log Cabin, but didn't see him.  I did call, he didn't hear.  I became more and more angry.  The one morning I get to not have "autism" I found myself doing autism.  Finally Todd came in the back door all leisurely, and of course every one of those "I have 99 stressors" were unleashed on him.

And it went downhill from there.

I try to be so hopeful with my HOPEISM.  I try to overcome autism as best I can for Brandon, for me, for my family.  I think most days I win in that.  But also, I try to be real in the process.  And I guess if I'm being totally real - one of the most courageous things one can do is admit not so much defeat, but an overpowering.  A suffocation.  An oppression.  A desire to raise a white flag and just quit.  Those are the sides of our lives with autism that hardly anyone sees in its true raw form.  It's too embarrassing.  Too open to judgement.  Too real.   Too ugly.  Too much.

The things we argued about, the things I yelled about that day, were very much directed to each other.  But it wasn't about us.  It was because of autism.  Autism had slowly crept in all around us for too long and we were suffocated.  With no one else around, we turned on each other.  The things he said about me, the things I said about him, -- were all a direct result of there being not only no more of "us" individually, but no more of "us" as a couple.  I think at one point when he was sharing things with me, I had totally tuned him out.  I admit that.  He knows that.  I was just beyond my limit.  I had nothing more to give or say. And I'm not one who has a lot out loud to say anyway.  He did at one point ask what I was thinking, and I simply said, "Nothing."  But that was a lie.   I was lusting.  Pure in the flesh lust.  No, not for another man and romantic escapades.  Just lusting for a weekend away from autism.  And not "a weekend" - but "weekends."  The kind of weekends you get when you can send the kids to the other spouse or to Grandma's.  Not a four hour teaser, not someone else in my house, but to just be in my house for a whole weekend with no autism.  To be able to plan to do something, and to actually be able to do it.  I was thinking that for us the only way that would ever happen is if we divorced and had two houses.  I imagined what it would be like to get to spend an entire weekend at the beach, or swimming laps and going to the Nature Trail.  Of going out to dinner after that. Of watching a movie (heck, going to the movies!) without humming and Brandon's head in the middle of the screen, or having to check on him, get something for him, take him to do his toileting routine.  I wasn't totally selfish in my lusting - I wanted that for Todd too.  He has no time at all in our house, by himself.  I imagined the years added to his life if he could just have every other weekend of peace and quiet and no indigestion.

 But --- back to reality in that the entire Saturday I went back and forth to grocery stores finding ingredients for autism.  Spending money on autism.  To spend the rest of the weekend cooking for autism while in between taking care of autism.  

I love my husband dearly -- our marriage will survive -- this is simply to show the reality, the enormity, of the toll autism takes.  At least for me.  I know Todd and I have a strong marriage, more credit for that to him than me, and I'm sure the reason why we've survived as long as we have is because God blesses our marriage.  We are committed to each other - but that's not to say that even the strongest marriages with the strongest of people are shatterproof.   I was shattered.  I wanted to run.  I wanted freedom not from marriage, but from autism.  And to show the depths of autism's root in every aspect of your life, I felt that the only way to break the suffocation of autism in my life would be to leave my marriage. What kind of a society are we in where to get help -- the only way we can is to live in two houses so at least we get every other weekend off?

Autism is lifelong.  Think about the strength and perseverance these families have to endure all they do for so long?  Teachers are insane by the end of the school year -- our school year has been 21 years now with no summer break in sight!  Not even a professional day.  A WEEKEND.  OR HOLIDAY!

Think about that.....

I can always tell when it's "Camp Blessing" time.  We hit the end of our rope.  Then we get 4 nights off. Which gives us just enough of a gulp of air to go back down only to slowly drown again until the next gulp of air comes around the next year.

These people -- these people who do these surveys about marriage and stress with autism - where are they when they get the same results every damn time but do nothing with those results?

Where are these autism organizations who know the number one need is not genetic research but direct help?  That help being respite.  Away from the home respite.

My gawd, we are married people cracking under the stress - at least there's two of us.  What do single parents of autism do?

I sat there on the couch looking at my husband sitting on the other one, and I saw him cry.  We were at the, "At least I get to be home for some time without Brandon when he finally can, or does, get to school" and he said, "When.....when do I get to be in my house without autism -- ever?"  Our Pastor had given him a book -- and he was like, "When........when can I even think about reading this book?  I go to work early to work out so autism doesn't kill me......I come home and try to help with Brandon.......then I go to bed.........."

He was right.

He has all this equipment to go repelling... "When?" he asked with tears in his eyes.....  When will he ever get the chance to pursue something for him?

When will April (Autism Awareness Month) ever mean something useful to thousands of families like ours?

I know how I long to be able to do what I want to do, but at least I do have a few hours humming free while Brandon is gone. One could say that I could do "all the things" I would like to do then, but consider that we are only talking about 4-5 hours a day, and researching how to better help Brandon consumes most of that before I even realize it.  But for Todd -- when for him does autism end?  When is there non-work, non-autism for him?  Retirement you say?  Nope, no prize for you -- retirement will never come to those who have autism in their lives.  At least not our kind of 100% dependent autism.

So in the scenario of our very bad awful weekend -- what is our solution?   Our quick fix?  Where is the self-help book for respite to magically appear?  Where is the marriage seminar/enriching weekend that we could even go to?  When in reality, the opportunity to go kayaking or have a weekend off is our marriage-seminar/enrichment weekend!  That is all the "therapy" we need.

That is what real courage is. Never quitting the fight even when you know you most likely will never win. No cure to change the situation, no regular help to make it more bearable.  Courage is continuing to fight when all you want to do is quit.

So the sun went down and still no solution for us.

All there is, is a new day, continued HOPEISM, and a God-sized resolve to do the best we can in the face of never-ending autism.  Sunday Todd woke up and did dishes and shop-vac'd our house and I cooked, and cooked, and cooked.  Then Sunday night we tried to watch a movie between Brandon humming and getting into things in the kitchen.  Our immediate solution is that since we both can't do things together - that at least one of us needs to be able to have some sort of life.  Todd must find some buddies he can go repelling with, shooting with, on weekends.  I need to cook dinner later so he can have some time after work to chill before leaving one job and jumping head first into sharing in another job -- autism.  I'd like to say that I could take Brandon and go somewhere leaving him time to have the house to himself - in peace and quiet - to read his book.  But where?  Where do I go with Brandon for a day? With his sensory limitations?  His toileting needs?  His diet needs?

It's these daily challenges in "Life with Autism" that leave so many of us deeply hurt and angered when we see words like "courage" and "Bruce Jenner" in the same sentence.  When we see celebrities portrayed as heroes.  It's not courageous at all to be rich and able to buy the change you want and it's insulting to no end to be a part of a society that idolizes everyone but the most deserving of respect among us.  When we're invited to a marriage seminar put on by people who have never had to endure what we have to for as long as we must and attended by married couples who have not a clue what real marital stress and hardship is. 

I feel proud that we as a society are finally understanding the need to honor and help our veterans with healing retreats for them and their families.

The time has come to recognize the rest of the battle-weary warriors as well.

Parents of children, youth, and adults with autism.

No, I don't know how that could happen.

But I know it must.

And it can.

Churches have empty buildings every Saturday.  There are EMT's who would volunteer time along with those churches that are full of servants of every age and ability.

Campgrounds have cabins - with funding help and volunteer help from all aspects of the community, weekend respites are a doable thing.

As much as our marriages or the parent needs the respite - our children/adults need the recreation.  They need somewhere to go.  Something fun that they can do.

I just wonder how many more marriages will crumble or shatter as ours did that weekend, how many more single parents will have a nervous breakdown, - before those who can be a part of doing something about it -- before those who should be doing something about it --

Do something about it.

And in the meantime, all we can do is the best we can.  We love each other and we love the Lord.  We live, laugh, and love.

We choose happy and face autism with the courage of a soldier in battle.

And hang on to the HOPEISM that eventually we'll win.

Or that reinforcements will come......

January 27, 2015

Autism, PTSD, and me...

I was recently asked by a news reporter my reaction to a study comparing the stress of caring for someone with autism to the stress experienced by combat soldiers returning from war.

Here is the study that compared the stress levels of both groups:

Click here to read article

I was asked if I agreed with the conclusions...

I do.

Here is the news report on that article and my reply:
Fox News Report on Autism and Stress

Now before all the combat veterans go hatin' on me, let me be clear that in no way do I compare our wars.  Though I very much do consider my "Life with Autism" a war I fight daily -- it is not to be compared with being on enemy ground with your life and the life of your brothers and sisters in the military on the line.  No way.   But I am saying, we both battle the same demon in terms of ongoing, traumatic stress, and the effect it has on us and on all those around us.  I may not be dodging sniper bullets, grenades, and bombs; but I am battling seizures, illness, aggression, and a lifetime of constant supervision and care, and so very much more.  I can't say what PTSD looks like in a combat veteran, but I know what it looks like in my life, and in the life of those I know.   It is traumatic.  It's ongoing. In fact, for those like me, I would say it's more, "Continual" Traumatic Stress Disorder.  There is no "Post" about it.  My son is 21 years old. I've been fighting autism for 18 of those years.  If we're comparing it to soldiers, which that article does, my tour, our tour, is a continual one.  There have been no reprieves.  We have no reinforcements to speak of.  It's hard to explain the toll that takes.  A soldier can leave the battlefield. The battlefield may never leave them, but they can walk away from that battlefield at some point.  I have yet to be able to do that.

Think about that toll.


Eighteen years now....

My son doesn't read, write, or speak.  He has seizures on average of every 3-4 days.  Often, more often than that.  Some weeks when he's not having a seizure, he's recovering from one.  With the gastrointestinal disorders he has, we constantly battle calories and nutrition.  Special diets, special school, special everything.  There is nothing normal about our life.  Autism does not take a break or give you one.  It is a state of continual stress that like with the PTSD of combat soldiers, is hard to describe unless you are living it.  Even on the rare days where we aren't in a state of chaos or having seizures and my son does sleep, I still wake up often thinking I hear him choking from a seizure. They happen that often that I hear that awful, hideous choking sound in my sleep.  In our house we have a rule, no one screams in excitement about anything.  No one makes any noise that might sound like Brandon having a seizure...  Even those tiniest of mishaps will send us running in panic to find Brandon to see if he's ok.  That's how conditioned we are from the constant stress we live with.  It makes us unable to relate to the "real world" out there.  We are just too far removed from it.  Too war torn and battle scarred to fit in with those who live a typical life with life's typical stresses or challenges.  We no longer relate to our "typical" friends and find our best support system in our community of others who are there and live that.  I would imagine that for a veteran returning from war, much of the stress is in trying to deprogram from that life to civilian life.  It has to be an incomprehensible shock.  That is the kind of shock it is for me in trying to make our "Life with Autism" somehow mesh with -- life.  We can do nothing normal.  Anything normal we try to do, takes ten times longer because of all the interruptions and distractions.  There is no, "Yay it's the weekend, time to have fun and do things!" For us it's more, "Oh gawd, how much longer until Monday!"   The things we would like to do, are not the things our son can do and so it's a constant, stressful battle trying to mesh our two worlds -- while keeping a marriage.  Gawd-forbid if one has an "other" child as we do.  A typical child who will always get the short end of a very short stick.  Stress upon guilt-ridden stress.

Another aspect to me in how you can compare the stress but not the war, is in the lasting effect.  I'm sure a big component of PTSD for soldiers is that while they may have left the battlefield, it is still very much with them mentally.  My son, unless he is miraculously cured, will be severely affected for the rest of his life.  He will need constant 24/7 care and supervision for the rest of his life.  There will be no "golden years" of empty-nest or retirement.  I won't get to fully leave my war unless it's in a casket.  Something society has failed to see for both of us as described in the article above.

And speaking of caskets, do not think for a minute that the stress for both isn't a deadly kind of stress. The suicide rate for veterans is astronomical.  It's more epidemic than the epidemic of autism.  And the epidemic of autism is huge.  In autism, that stress is not only killing the parents, it is causing parents to kill their children!  They kill themselves because it's the only escape from the constant demands they see, and they kill their child because they know there isn't, nor will be in their forseable future, any help for them!

The question was then asked, "What can society do?"

While our wars are very different, I feel that what we need is very much the same.  Help.  Not another study as to what our stress is, how bad it is, what kind it is, --just help.  Not a pill, not a pat on the head, and certainly not your pity.  Just help.   You can't wave a magic wand and make that soldier not hear those bullets, not re-live those battles, not un-bury his brother who was killed beside him in battle.  But you can ask him what he needs help with, house, car, medical treatment, medication, counseling if that's what they need.  You ask what they need and you help them get it. You give to those who help them if you can't help them directly.

Same with us.  You can't fight our battle for us, but you can fight it alongside us.  Help us in our advocacy of what we need.  What must be changed.  You can't make my war go away, but you can help provide an opportunity for me to leave it for just a little while. Donate to those like Happy Someday who provide vacation opportunities for parents like me.  Donate to programs that provide respite for parents and recreational activities for their loved ones.  Ask what they need and provide it however you can.  If you are blessed with money, help them with something they need.  If you are blessed with time, spend time with their loved one so the parents can have much needed time together.

We need people helping people and not psychologists doing studies about whether we need help.

We need Americans to help our heroes returning from war; and we need society to help our families living "Life with Autism" have an occasional break from their war.

Written by:


Donations to help those who help our heroes:
Chris Kyle Frog Foundation

Lone Survivor Foundation

Boot Campaign

Donations to help those who help Autism Families have respite:
Camp Blessing, TX

Happy Someday

Easter Seals Greater Houston

January 11, 2015

In the Light: Christmas in the Log Cabin...

I waited for the CD that would contain what I was hoping would be a glimpse of the magical, miraculous Christmas we had.  It's not like me to put my HOPEISM in things of this world, but I have to admit, as I stalked the photographer's page, I was really hoping the pictures would turn out good.  After all, the third time is a charm, right?  I rescheduled that photo shoot three times before it finally happened on the third try.

In our "Life with Autism" it takes much effort to do the smallest of tasks.  So I guess that's why these photo sessions are so important to me, we just have too few of them.  But the ones we have managed to do, seem to take on a theme centered around an event or season in our lives...

The one before Matt would leave to Boot Camp...the beginning of Matt's Navy journey, his marriage journey, and our "Camo" journey as proud Navy parents.

And this one that I call "Praising Him in the Storm" ----  the song by Hillsong, titled, "Stand."

You stood before creation
Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

So I'll walk upon salvation
Your spirit alive in me
This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all

I'll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours

And I remember that indeed being a season of standing tall with arms high in awe of everything really, just completely surrendered to the one who gave his all for us.  Surrendered to knowing there is purpose and praise in all things....

Then this year... in Matt's Navy journey it's hard to plan anything, but we found ourselves blessed by Team Guppy 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, my mom, and my brother and his family all together for Christmas.  So I called the photographer and asked her to come to our Log Cabin and capture some of our chaos.   It almost didn't happen. It was so cold, and so rainy, and we rescheduled a couple times for weather and other reasons.  But on the last attempt, we finally did it.    I knew before any picture what the theme for me would be.....  Light.  It has been such a dark season for some of us, that I just wanted to capture light.  I wanted God's love to shine through satan's darkness.  That we were all together this particular Christmas was a miracle in itself.  It mean restitution for some of us.  The birth of "the finger" greatly contributed to restoration.  No, not that finger, but I'll leave the rest of that story to pique your curiosity for perhaps a blog to come.   Suffice it to say, it was one of the merriest of Christmases I can remember and I am so thankful that my mom was at the heart of it.

I wanted to capture this picture in this way as a reminder that in any darkness, there is still light.  In any hopeless situation, there is hope.  Through any brokenness, there can once again be wholeness.  In this picture represents many different people in our family, many who have gone through such struggle.  We have one beginning their Olympic journey, another giving all they have in pursuing their Navy journey.  We have someone just about to cross the finish line of their college journey.  We have Brandon and our "Life with Autism" journey.......   This picture represents so much in challenges and disappointments.  Some I have shared about, some very private.  But what I wanted this Christmas, this photo session to capture, is the light that is within each of us through Christ that can shine through any darkness.  The light that in Team Guppy --- will NEVER QUIT.
The chorus of the song by DC Talk, "In the Light" is what was running through my mind when I asked all of us to hold the lights for this picture.....

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the light

Oh it was cold and dreary and rainy that day, much like many days in my "Life with Autism."  But the HOPEISM I do my best to live by is that even in the darkest, deepest pit, there is still light if you choose to see it.  Christmas is my favorite time of year because of how I love all the lights and all that Christmas is about.  The magic in believing in Santa - and oh how I believe!  How God still performs miracles, and oh how I believe in that because of how we've seen them in how Brandon survives each seizure.  Because of our Savior and the Birth of HOPEISM and how if you reach out to embrace it and wrap yourself around it, you will never truly be in darkness.  And I think that's what has made this Christmas so very special to me.  There has been such darkness all around me.  So many seizures.  So many disappointments.  But at the same time my HOPEISM has brought such light.  Such joy.  Such peace.

It was a circus the day we did those pictures.  It was chaos.  We didn't get to go to that perfect spot I had planned, it was too wet and rainy and cold.  We didn't get the absolute perfect pictures that I imagined, though we came darn close.  But we captured the most important thing of all......light.  The light of love, of laughter, and of our lunacy.  Ok, my lunacy in making everyone wear Santa hats under protest.

What you can't see is the vice grip Todd has on Brandon's hands.

The moment Todd let go of Brandon's hands......

The light that is family, faith, and fellowship.  Because in the end, it's not about any one of us, who we are, how perfect we are, whether we've achieved our goals or not.   It's about the light that shines within us, and how we use our life, our light, to shine through our darkest of nights or in being a light to others through their darkest of days.  

I love how Jenifer captured this picture.  The light of the candles is what you see.  We are all there around that table, but all you see is the light from the candles.  We are merely shading in the background of God's canvass.  You don't see us, just the light.  And I guess if I were to have a HOPEISM for this New Year -- it would be just that...

That you don't see me, you see light.  His light.  His perfection.  His HOPEISM.

And at Christmas, especially for me for this Christmas,......oh what a gift that is.  To see light where there is none.  It's the legacy I want to leave behind for my son.

There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
And there is a spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes his home
Carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world

Frustrated brother, see how he's tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she's been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame
So carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world

'Cause we are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let's raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times
Carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, deceived and poor
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world

Thank you Jenifer, of Jenilee Photography, for capturing our crazy, mad, wonderful Christmas.