It's Okay About It: Lessons from a Remarkable Five-Year-Old About Living Life Wide Open

It's Okay About It: Lessons from a Remarkable Five-Year-Old About Living Life Wide Open

by Lauren Casper

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718085421
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,237,314
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Lauren Casper is the founder of the popular blog laurencasper.com, where she shares her thoughts on life, parenting, and faith. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo! News, and several other publications. She also has the joy of serving on the Created for Care team, a nonprofit ministry dedicated to serving foster and adoptive families. Lauren and her husband, John, have two beautiful children adopted from Ethiopia. They make their home in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Read an Excerpt

It's Okay About It

Lessons from a Remarkable Five-Year-Old About Living Life Wide Open


By Lauren Casper

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2017 Lauren Casper
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-8542-1



CHAPTER 1

"Watch Out for Diesel 10!"


I know I'm biased, but Mareto is far too adorable for people not to notice. His head is covered in tight black curls that remind me of springs, and his cheeks are soft and squishy and always ready to smile. When we go out in public, strangers often try to talk to him.

We might be making our way down a grocery store aisle when it happens: A sweet older woman smiles and says, "Hello, young man!" Mareto looks up, pleased that someone is speaking to him, and blurts out, "Watch out for Diesel 10!"

I laugh as the stranger glances at me in confusion, and I awkwardly mention something about five-year-olds and Thomas the Tank Engine. She smiles, still confused, and walks away. Mareto has already retreated back into his own mind, but even so, he remains ready to warn the next person who might try to engage him in conversation.

This was Mareto's standard greeting for well over a year. We had different ways of explaining it to strangers, friends, and acquaintances. Sometimes we'd just keep walking. Other times we'd say how much he loves Thomas the Tank Engine movies, and occasionally we'd stop to explain that our son has autism and often struggles with the "right way" to engage with new people.

One day it hit me that in his own special way, Mareto was doing what most of us wish we could do. Many people — myself included — say that they're sick of shallow talk, and they would much rather get into things that matter when they talk to people. I think what they're really saying is that they want to talk about the things they care about, the things that make them ... them. Yet they continue having the same surface-level conversations we all have every day, probably because it can feel rather awkward to actually dive into topics we're passionate about.

It's scary to let people really see us right off the bat. We keep our barriers intact until we feel safe and have tested the waters to determine whether or not this is the crowd with whom we can be ourselves. Fear keeps us from forming relationships.

For me — and I imagine for most people — it's the fear of judgment that causes me to hold back and talk about things I don't really care about. It's just easier. After all, we're each unique, created with varying interests and gifts, so the things that make me excited might seem silly to others. But that doesn't mean we should hide those parts of ourselves.

For example, I love movies, and I always have. I love vintage Hollywood and current blockbusters. Give me Judy Garland and a bucket of popcorn, and I'll consider it a great day. Same goes for Sandra Bullock and a bag of Sour Patch Kids. Talking about movies, my favorite TV shows, and actors is fun for me because I'm interested in those things. But most of the time I wait to get to know people before I ever bring up the topic on my own.

Last summer I went out to dinner with a group of my girlfriends. These friends were fairly new to me because we'd moved to a new city and had only recently started attending their church. On the drive to the restaurant one of my new friends brought up an actress, and I lit up. Suddenly we were chatting about movies and actors with our heads close together. Our other friends laughed and mentioned how out of touch with that topic they were, but they also smiled as we talked because it was fun to see our enthusiasm.

Do you see my point? To every other person in that van, what my friend and I were discussing was shallow and meaningless. But to us it wasn't. We shared a similar interest, and we cared about our topic — silly as it was to other people. Soon we moved on from movies to donuts, and we began bonding over another shared love. Next thing we knew, we realized we had both grown up in California and had even more in common than we first realized.

Before, I had been afraid that perhaps my new friends would judge me as superficial or "worldly" if they knew how much I loved movies. A little voice in my head had whispered that it wouldn't look good for a pastor's wife to care about any of that. But that little voice was lying and talking to my insecurities.

My friend's simple comment about an actress she liked caused my guard to go down and opened the door for us to connect more quickly. I now consider her one of my dearest friends, and I love that I'm as comfortable chatting with her about movies as I am discussing more serious things, such as both our sons' developmental delays.

The path to connection with others can start with expressing joys we have in common, but it can also go the route of sharing heavier issues we feel deeply about. The funny thing is the way we sometimes avoid both types of conversation — which reflects the way we hide from each other.

Case in point: I may love movies, but I'm also passionate about bigger things, such as orphan care and prevention, global hunger and access to clean water, history and politics, race relations, education reform, and disability awareness and acceptance. But I tend not to lead off with those topics for fear of being viewed as "too intense." They are heavy, massive issues that I worry will make people uncomfortable, so I keep them to myself unless someone else leads the conversation in that direction.

One place where this changes completely, though, is the Created for Care Retreat. Every year, in February and March, I make the seven-hour drive from my home in Virginia to a lakeside resort in Georgia. Together with eleven of my dearest friends, we spend four days working as hard as we can putting on retreats designed to create an environment of rest, refreshment, education, and encouragement for nine hundred foster and adoptive mothers annually.

Women come to Georgia from all over the United States and Canada. Some missionary moms even fly in from the countries where they serve. Some are young mothers in waiting, and some are empty nesters who foster. Our educational, political, social, spiritual, and financial backgrounds are all over the map, but we all have one thing in common: our experience in foster care and adoption. Something truly special happens at these retreats. Invisible walls crumble to the ground, and strangers become sisters.

The first year I attended Created for Care, I came home and tried to explain it to my husband, John. It was my first time going away to something like this, and we both had worried that the money and time sacrificed wouldn't be worth it. But it was and then some. The word I kept returning to as I talked to John on the ride home from the airport was relief. I felt so much relief — relief and acceptance.

John looked confused by my description, so I tried to explain why I had such an overwhelming sense of relief. It was because I didn't have to hold back in my conversations. I was among friends, even though I'd never met the women at the retreat before. When we talked in the halls and corners and by the fire or over our meals, we didn't have to preface anything with a long explanation of "adoption-ese." We all already knew what a home study entailed, why the wait was so hard, what "cocooning" meant, and what a trauma anniversary was.

Having a shared language and experiences, we could skip over the first eight steps of new friendship and had the freedom to simply talk about the things we cared about and what mattered to us. The result was instant connection and acceptance. Not having to put forth extra effort either to explain myself or to hold back and keep things to myself could only be described in that one word: relief. I hadn't realized how hard it had actually been to not go there with the people in my life. I didn't realize how tired it had made me to constantly hold back in relationships.

Christ's example in Scripture shows us a relationship model that is very different, though. When I read through the New Testament, I see story after story of Jesus wasting no time to connect with people's hearts. The beautiful thing is, not only does he get straight to their hearts, but also he does it differently with each person — knowing that we are unique. What opens up the woman at the well is different from what opens up his relationship with Zacchaeus.

As I watch each story play out, I see Jesus drawing people out with simple questions or statements. There was no deep theology or fancy explanation — just an acknowledgment of who they were, or a question about who they wanted to be. The result was an individual coming to life.

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he asked her for a drink. It might seem insignificant to us, but that question opened up her world. She knew it was unusual for Jews to speak with Samaritans, and her interest was immediately piqued. When she asked him about it, he responded, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10). Just like that, Jesus went from zero to sixty, from asking for a drink of water to sharing the gospel with a woman he had met only moments ago. It wasn't coincidence; he knew which words would open her heart to him.

The story didn't stop there, of course. He went on to ask her about her husband, which again prompted her to share more of her story. In turn, Jesus told her all about her life and the good news. She left marveling at this exchange and wondering if he was the Christ — all because Jesus saw her and asked for a drink of water.

As Jesus was passing through Jericho on another day, he stopped at the base of a tree. A short man named Zacchaeus was perched in the branches, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus looked up into the tree and told Zacchaeus to come down because he was eating at his home tonight. Instead of a glimpse, Zacchaeus got dinner with the Christ! As the townspeople muttered about Jesus dining with a sinner (Zacchaeus was a tax collector), Zacchaeus repented and Jesus proclaimed, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:9–10).

Zacchaeus developed a relationship with Jesus because of a request to dine together. Can you imagine if Jesus had stood at the base of the tree and the two had exchanged greetings before awkwardly conversing about trees and the view and the weather? There would have been no relationship.

Thankfully, Jesus is the ultimate example of getting to the heart of the matter and skipping over things that don't. His purpose is clear, and it is, I believe, also what we all crave: relationship. We were made to connect to one another, and we crave meaningful relationships; but we let our insecurities build a wall between us and others.

It's scary to put ourselves out there, to ask questions or invite others to our homes and into our lives. It's hard to take the time to share what makes us tick, why we live the way we do, or how our past has changed us. It's scary to share who we are, because we can only hope the world loves us and accepts us.

But it's beautiful when we swallow our fear and open ourselves up to finding friends who don't judge, with whom we can share understanding and love.

This is part of what makes the Created for Care Retreats so special. You can tell another mom that you let your child eat a snack thirty minutes before dinner, and she won't judge you. Instead, she will assume your child has known starvation, and a snack is a way to reassure that little heart that in your home there will always be enough food. You can bring up the fact that you haven't gotten a sitter in eight months, and instead of assuming you put your children above your marriage, other moms will understand that your child likely has extreme separation anxiety or connecting issues. They can understand how you are going through a season of building foundations that weren't established at the beginning of your child's little life.

It's also beautiful to discover a friend who loves the same television show, music, or sport as you do. That person who lights up whenever you talk about football together becomes a safe place, and you progress from discussing college brackets to problems at school or struggles with finding the right church. In the same way, because I found common ground talking movies with my friend, it led to conversations about our shared home state, cultural differences, and later, even race issues in our country. Isn't it incredible how it all starts with a simple connection and then moves into a deeper relationship?

When Mareto greets people with his loud, "Watch out for Diesel 10!" he is sharing what makes him light up! He reminds me of my own desire to connect with others around the things that make me tick. Maybe Mareto is actually the one who knows the "right way" to introduce himself to others. Mareto doesn't have the barriers that urge me to test the waters first, so nothing holds him back from letting people into his world right away.

I want to live like that.

CHAPTER 2

"Christmas Is Ruined!"


I sat on the couch, holding my breath, watching Mareto play with a pile of squishy rubber blocks. It was a warm summer morning, and Mareto was quiet and focused as he placed one block on top of another. I was silent, afraid to move and ruin his process. A little stream of drool began running from the corner of his mouth, a sign that he was really working hard to concentrate.

He reached over to the pile and grabbed another block to place on top of the first two. When he carefully set down that third block to form a small tower, I burst into cheers of joy and excitement as he looked up at me with pride in his eyes. I clapped enthusiastically while tears streamed down my face.

My husband and I had spent three mornings a week for almost a year sitting in a room covered with mats and watching the occupational therapist play with our son. As they played, she explained all the steps that our brains take to do something as basic as stacking three blocks.

On this day, Mareto was finally taking those steps.

What we once would have considered effortless and unimpressive was actually the result of hard work, many mistakes, and a great amount of energy. I thought about how much we take for granted, and I realized what a gift it is to feel this level of joy over my child stacking blocks. Then I laughed out loud when Mareto began working on a new tower — this one five blocks high.

Sometimes life can be an absolute mess for a while before things start to come together the way we had hoped. When it doesn't go the way we expected, we have to shift our mind-set to create a new definition of success. Mareto may desperately want a large rectangular block to sit steadily on top of the tiny square block, but no matter how many times he tries, the block will keep toppling over and the tower just won't rise.

Life is exactly like that. Sometimes we have to step back, re-examine, and try again ... this time reaching for a new block. Maybe it's not the block we originally wanted to use, and we need to apply a different vision to the project. Maybe things are taking longer than we expected, don't look as pretty as we had hoped, or are more difficult than we anticipated. Life doesn't always look the way we want it to.

When this happens, Mareto shows his frustration by loudly lamenting, "Christmas is ruined!" I don't know where he got this phrase, and while it is an overly dramatic way to express disappointment, it's also strangely familiar. More times than I care to admit, I've looked at failures in one season of life and felt that my entire story was ruined.

Becoming Mareto's mommy looked nothing like I thought it would. I spent years desperately trying to make a large rectangular block balance steadily on my tiny square block. Everyone else had large rectangles, and I tried to build a tower that looked like theirs.

Month after month became a "try again" month as John and I hoped for a baby. Month after month, then year after year, my failure to conceive was spotlighted by other people's successes. As friends announced pregnancies, I cried in the bathroom. Christmas cards joined their torn envelopes in the trash can, because the smiling faces of happy new parents told a story that reminded me of all I was missing. My Christmases felt ruined.

Friends innocently made jokes about not drinking the water at church because a baby boom seemed to be happening. As if it were that easy. I listened to women talk about their family plans and how many children they wanted, spaced perfectly apart by three years. They didn't know what a luxury it was to believe they held that kind of control over their lives.

It was supposed to be simple, right? It was easy for everyone else, so what was wrong with me?

When the doctors finally told us that it wasn't possible for us to have children, I was completely devastated. My heart was broken as my dreams of motherhood fell and shattered at my feet. I silently lashed out at God, at friends, and at myself. I felt like an utter failure.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from It's Okay About It by Lauren Casper. Copyright © 2017 Lauren Casper. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: "It's Okay About It" xiii

1 "Watch Out for Diesel 101" 1

2 "Christmas Is Ruined!" 10

3 "You're Making Me Feelings" 22

4 "The Hill Is Very Tired" 32

5 "My Batteries Is All Gone!" 42

6 "Here's Some Gold Dust!" 52

7 "Hi, I Nato!" 62

8 "Aww, That's So Nice" 72

9 "Look! The Tree Rainbow!" 80

10 "I Smell Jellyfish!" 90

11 "Stephen's in Danger!" 100

12 "It's Too Loud My Ears!" 110

13 "Look Around-I Need to Talk for You!" 120

14 "I Can. I Will. I Believe." 131

15 'Or Yes, or No?" 141

16 "This Is My Mommy" 152

17 "You're So Cutie-ful" 162

18 "Cheese and Crackers!" 173

19 "It's a Job-a-doo!" 184

20 "Today Is My Birthday!" 195

21 "Jesus Is God" 204

Conclusion: Wide Open 214

Acknowledgments 217

Notes 221

About the Author 224

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It's Okay About It: Lessons from a Remarkable Five-Year-Old About Living Life Wide Open 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lauren takes what is offered to her and uses it for growth and extending understanding to her readers. Her journey of motherhood and finding internal strength isn't one she wants to bottle up. We're fortunate enough to get a sneak peek into the life and mind of a little wonder of a boy and the woman raising him. You'll walk away feeling blessed and touched after reading Lauren's new book and you might just share Mareto's opinion that "It's Okay About It" in your own world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I get frustrated with my own thinking. It tends to be cyclical and harried, repetitive and disheartening. I often feel a pull within my own heart to slow down, reevaluate, and tame these discouraging and nonproductive thoughts. It's Okay About It offers this very thing. Seeing the world through Mareto's eyes as told by Lauren has allowed me the freedom to step back and think about life differently. From challenging me to rethink my definition of success ("Christmas is Ruined!), to encouraging me to find laughter and joy in the everyday ("I Smell Jellyfish!"), and even inspiring me to live unafraid of what unexpected things the future might hold ("I Can. I Will. I Believe."), It's Okay About It has given me the gift of a refreshingly new perspective. And that, most certainly, is okay with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lauren's book is full of moments of stepping back and viewing life from a different perspective, or even more so, appreciating the individual perspectives of others. The stories she shares about her son and daughter are so relatable and beautifully written. While some of the topics discussed can be heavy, she writes in such a way that gives things life and lightness without ignoring their weight. As a social worker, this book will be one of my resources to recommend to parents, not because it is full of therapies and exercises, but for the opposite. A parent fresh from an appointment and diagnosis for their child will have binders of information handed to them. This read is one that helps slow down the speeding train of information and take a deep breath, lean into their child, and pull close to God. One of the best things I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time!
BDEmerson More than 1 year ago
"It's Okay About" It is full of sweetness and hope while not shying away from honesty and vulnerability. If you are parenting a child on the autism spectrum, if you have walked the path of infertility, if you have added to your family through adoption, or if life simply looks different than you planned, you will connect with this book! Casper's intentional parenting is inspiring and the message of childlike joy is contagious!
KimmieJean More than 1 year ago
n "It's Okay About It", Lauren Casper shares poignant lessons she's learned from living life with her five-year-old son on the autism spectrum. With each new chapter, I was challenged to live my life more fully in Christ's love and grace. In You're Making Me Feelings, Casper challenges us to embrace each emotion, lament as much as joy. In It's Too Loud My Ears, she reminds us of the importance of unplugging from the constant noise. And It's A Job-A-Doo, Casper uses her son Mareto's excitement over every job he's given to challenge us to have the same excitement in everything we need to do. Her book is both affirming of things I've felt having me saying "yes me too" AND challenging me in new ways to become more like Christ. I encourage you to purchase it- you won't be disappointed!!
KimmieJean More than 1 year ago
n "It's Okay About It", Lauren Casper shares poignant lessons she's learned from living life with her five-year-old son on the autism spectrum. With each new chapter, I was challenged to live my life more fully in Christ's love and grace. In You're Making Me Feelings, Casper challenges us to embrace each emotion, lament as much as joy. In It's Too Loud My Ears, she reminds us of the importance of unplugging from the constant noise. And It's A Job-A-Doo, Casper uses her son Mareto's excitement over every job he's given to challenge us to have the same excitement in everything we need to do. Her book is both affirming of things I've felt having me saying "yes me too" AND challenging me in new ways to become more like Christ. I encourage you to purchase it- you won't be disappointed!!