Season of Stress

We’ve gone through a rough patch with Jacob over the last month. Seems he would wake up mad. To say, ‘he got up on the wrong side of the bed’ is an understatement. The word rage comes to mind.

Recently, I had a check-up and was explaining to my doctor that I felt like I had wrestled a bear that morning. It was only 10 A..M. and I was exhausted. Dr. C started talking about how stress makes inflammation worse. My mood, emotions, and posture all reflected a sense of defeat. “We have to look at what can help you. Since your situation isn’t going to change, you might need a medicine to help you have better days.” Honestly, I do not like being told I need to swallow a pill to help me parent.

I’ve read that mothers of autistic kids can have stress levels equal to soldiers in combat. Sounds like an exaggeration, doesn’t it? Key word – CAN.

Stress will compromise my health.
Stress will make me sick.
Stress will cause physical pain.
Stress will shorten my life. 

Some days I would agree that autism seems like a war zone.  Jacob isn’t throwing punches but I still feel battered.  It hurts deeply to love him so much and not be able to fix what is causing his behavior. 

And then I notice my behavior isn’t great either.  Sad. Depressed. Neglecting self. Apathetic. Tired. Becoming negative and someone I don’t like.  Surprising myself at something I would say.  Less compassionate.  Less tolerant.  Less understanding with family and friends.  Shorter temper.  The reality is, that in my case, there are seasons when medicine is a wise addition to self-care. 

Sometimes I will choose to not do the right thing or what needs to be done because I don’t have the energy to follow through. I have to accept that I am not superwoman. Don’t have to be. Shouldn’t try!

I read a devotional in New Morning Mercies, a book by Paul David Tripp, and on this one day, in particular, felt like it was written just for me. The last chapter says this:

Paul is arguing that God’s gift of and sacrifice of his Son is your guarantee that he will grace you with every good thing you need until you are finally free of this broken world and with Him forever in eternity.  You do not have to wonder about God’s presence or his care.  You do not have to fear that he will leave you on your own.  You do not have to wonder if he will be there for you in your moment of need. When you give way to these fears, you commit an act of gospel irrationality. If he gave you Jesus, he will give you along with him everything you need.   

I was reminded that in the midst of calmness or chaos, whether serene or stressed, I am never, ever alone. I have Jesus.

In my worn-out state, I always wonder what Jacob might be feeling and/or thinking to make him lash out. Is he stressed with his mind in turmoil?

One hard morning, it was just the two of us in the van, I sang this chorus to him on our way to his day program:

Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, and
Nothing I desire compares with You.

Lynn DeShazzo

Even though my voice cracked and my eyes filled with tears, I could sense him relax.

Thankfully, the past week has been smooth sailing with precious Jacob. We have definitely enjoyed peaceful days.

Even when I don’t acknowledge it, I am certain that we have been given everything we need. (Remember need and want are two very different things.) Thank you, Lord, that along with giving me Jesus, you daily supply my needs!



Jacob opened the refrigerator and pointed toward the top compartment on the door.  I reached for the bologna, sliced cheese, and mayo to make him a sandwich.  He watched as I got the loaf of bread, put it all together, cut it into quarters, and plated it up.  He took one bite and handed it back to me.

“But Jacob, this is what you wanted.  This is what you picked to eat.”  He was not having it.  He started waving around hoping I could read his signal. 

I opened the freezer and pulled out two packages of frozen Sausage Biscuits.  He watched as I put them in the microwave and selected 1 minute, 20 seconds.  Seems I read the signal correctly.  While they heated, he casually thumbed through a magazine.  Once warm, I stuck them back in the freezer for a quick cool down so he could eat soon.  That didn’t take long.  I opened a package and cut it into bite-sized pieces and put it on his plate.  He immediately handed it back to me. 

He was frustrated.  So was I.  He opened a drawer and handed me a snack-size Hershey bar.  “No, you chose bologna cheese. You’ve got to have something to eat other than chocolate.” 

Jacob goes to the refrigerator and again, points to the sliced cheese.  I point to the already made bologna and cheese sandwich.  He is adamant that he doesn’t want it. 

And then, then I catch where he looks.  At the oven.  CHEESE TOAST!!  That day, I totally missed his cue.  He will often point to the cabinet for me to get a pan.  And usually wave in that direction.  I did not see him waving toward the oven.

What is it like for him to not get his point across? To not get what he is ‘asking for’? When his attempts at communication fail? To be misunderstood?

Bless his sweet, silent heart. I made him six pieces of cheese toast. He patiently waited for them to cool. And then he dug in. He was practically humming he was so happy. He folded and ate the center out of each piece as he ALWAYS does, spreading his toast across the bar. Then he proceeded to eat every single bit, crumbs and all.

And as he did, I have a feeling he was thinking to himself, FINALLY!!  Mom understood the assignment!

So Good!

One of Jacob’s favorite meals is lasagna.  He will eat Stouffer’s when the mood strikes, but homemade is always preferred. 

A couple of weeks ago, we were having Supper Club at our home and providing the entrée.  I decided I’d make two kinds of lasagna.  Not that we needed both but knowing leftovers would be welcome, it was the way to go. 

I have two beef lasagna recipes that are both delicious. Here is the recipe for the beef lasagna I prepared for friends.  I don’t recall where I got this recipe but it’s fun to make because it has ‘extra’ ingredients.  Don’t be intimated by the ingredients list!


1 1/2 lb. Ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes
3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp basil
2 Tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
*1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms
2 Tbsp butter, melted
9 lasagna noodles
1 egg, beaten
2 c. cottage cheese
2 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 c. Swiss cheese, shredded
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained
1 (6 oz.) can ripe olives, drained and sliced
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic cloves in a large Dutch oven until meat is browned.  Drain.  Chop tomatoes adding to the meat mixture along with the next 7 ingredients.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Remove bay leaves. 

Slice mushrooms and saute in butter; drain.  Set aside.  Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.  Set aside.  (I usually remove noodles and lay them in a single layer on wax paper.) Combine egg and cottage cheese, mixing well; set aside.

Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.  Spread 1/3 of the sauce in the pan.  Arrange 3 cooked noodles on sauce.  Layer 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese and all of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. 

Top with 3 more noodles.  Spoon 1/3 of sauce over noodles and top with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and ripe olives.

Layer the remaining 3 noodles, Swiss cheese, remaining Mozzarella, and the last 1/3 of sauce in the dish.  Cover and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  Uncover.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Serves 12. 

Jacob was quite happy that we had leftovers! A day or two later, he had finished two good-sized servings and reached for his IPad. Pushed a button marked, So good. And we heard a male voice say, “that is so good“. It was the best moment!! I was so glad my sweet boy was enjoying every bite of the lasagna I made with him in mind. And he used his device appropriately to tell me!!

The chicken lasagna dish I made is my favorite. I try to eat gluten-free and discovered this recipe about 6 years ago. It has a lot of steps but everyone who has tasted it really likes it. Here’s the link if you are interested:

*Note: because the chicken lasagna also called for mushrooms, I omitted them when I made the beef one this time. Jacob likes it either way but since the chicken one called for mushrooms, I decided not to include them in both. Not that readers care but a couple of people who were in attendance that night might catch that!

Honestly, I didn’t offer this one to Jacob because he is such a fan of the beef lasagna. After all, according to him, it is soooooo good!!