Sunday, January 31, 2010

Keeping an Ear Open

I love Sundays!

Mine began with worship--two choirs singing to the rafters-- continued with fellowship--great friends who follow us from the patio to the parking lot--and ended with kinship--time with the newly dubbed "core four" on a beach walk and talk time at the table.

Although we were bummed at having to send my niece, Kathryn off on her next chapter, the blessing of the day came as Allie shared her desires for the future with me. Ironically, (because we'd let her sleep in and skip church) her sentiments echoed the very sermon we'd heard and she'd missed.

Not only did I get to recap it for her but, I also got a reminder of how God speaks to us. To the authentic Christian, "coincidences" are more than what meets the eye. When I am listening for direction or praying for wisdom, the simple timing of a comment and a point in a sermon can indicate God's voice in answer to me.

I am being intentionally cryptic to keep Allie's confidence. But suffice it to say that when we listen with ears to hear, God speaks. Praise Him for that!

Then Jesus said, "He who has
ears to hear, let him hear." Mark 4:8-10

If any of you lacks
wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:4-6

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:7-9

Saturday, January 30, 2010

More than a Game

Are you playing? I am having sooo much fun with Doppelganger week on Facebook.

Having posted a "double" as my profile picture, I am currently Annette Benning robbing the cradle with Bobby Brady, Jim's look-alike alter ego. (He switched out the Rob Lowe image I suggested.)

My friends have morphed into Liv Tyler, Nicole Kidman, Christina Ricci, Laura Linney, Doogie Howser and Reese Witherspoon. It's amazing to see the resemblances. I never thought of my cousin as Meryl Streep but in fact, she really does look like her--once it's pointed out.

I was thrilled when Julia Louis Dreyfus' face flashed up on my phone tonight. The fact that it was really my dear friend, Carla, made it even better. All of a sudden, I am seeing others better than themselves--as if through a soft focus filter with full professional make up, hair and style.

Logging onto Facebook is now a visual reminder to me of how God sees us all through Christ. Our old selves are made new, perfected in Him. Although we are all sinners (some of us overweight, middle-aged, double-chinned sinners), He looks at us clothed in the righteous garments of His only Son--and sees something akin to glamorous celebrities posing in all their glory.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

"...we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hebrews 10:9-10

When Jim started working in the surf industry, I had a slight challenge at social events. A Midwestern girl at heart, I was not up to speed on the surf scene. It's key leaders, spokespeople, celebrities and buzz words were lost on me. At the first couple high profile events, Jim would sweetly let me know as we approached anyone who was "famous" in this new milieu. Without his prompts, I could not tell the difference between the surf legend and the valet parking attendant.

Honestly, even once he'd told me who they were, I didn't always recognize them as a household name. But, I got good at nodding along. Halfway through one of these soirees, I realized my own prejudice. Was I going to treat the people who'd been on the cover of a surf magazine differently than those who hadn't? Or could I see them all as God did--daughters and sons of the King?

It was then that I devised my face-saving strategy of treating everyone as if they were a pro surfer. In truth, many of them were. I was better off safe than sorry with the others. My internal pact spared Jim undue embarrassment and also made me a more authentic Christian. For didn't God create every single one of us? Who was I to treat one more highly than another?

I'm a star. You're a star! We're all stars in God's eyes.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. Philippians 2:5-8

"What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." Hebrews 2: 7-8

Friday, January 29, 2010


After Sunday's unfortunate impulse, I had consequences to deal with Monday morning. It's taken me longer to write about it than it did to receive. By noon, I was singing "What Can Wash Away My Sin?...nothing but the blood of Jesus" and drafting this undeniable metaphor in my head. All things are possible! I've been redeemed. My hope renewed. In the long term, by Jesus. In the short term, by Jerry.

A friend had told my husband about a guy in Encinitas who replaces cracked glass on ipods. We'd considered this option before finding a $25 replacement ipod on Craigslist for Reid's Christmas stocking. Now I had a greater motivation to find him. Phone-less in 2010 was not going to cut it. (We disconnected our landline when we got Uverse.) Without a phone, I was completely out of commission.

A quick google search revealed the guy's identity. Jerry Yeh, 491 Second Street. I knew exactly where that was, even without google maps. Jerry was efficient, unflappable, courteous, kind, helpful and a good with his hands. He reminded me of Yubo behind a desk extending his hand in introduction, ready to serve. To say the least, this enterprising electrical engineer was in the right place at the right time. Having identified an emerging niche market, he appeared to be making money hand over fist with very little overhead. He spent the day making people's day!

In the 20 minutes that I waited for my repair, he received 8 calls on his bluetooth and 5 more walk-ins. For each one, he offered no judgment, only restoration and good news. From each one, he took what we offered and effortlessly turned it into what we most wanted. In the colloquial sense, he totally saved me.

Jerry was there to restore what I thought had been lost. In straightforward fashion, he asked each guest, "What happened?" No matter the story, he remained as confident and non-plussed as Jesus with the woman at the well.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." John 4:17-19

As he worked, I observed, "You've pretty much heard it all haven't you, Jerry?"

"Pretty much. The worst was a guy in the army who left his phone was in his shirt pocket during machine gun practice."

"No way!" I gasped. "Could you fix that one?"

"Oh yea," he was not proud, just certain.

Another guy handed his over remorsefully, "dropped in a toilet." "Give me an hour," Jerry promised.

As I wrote my check, a grateful and cheerful giver by then, a stocky, red-faced guy entered with one way worse than mine--honestly just like this picture. Jerry's routine greeting and question were met with a different reply, "Well, I'm a Marine, what can I say?"

I couldn't help but tilt my head like an inquiring pup. I tracked back and forth between the Marine and Jerry as if to ask, "And......?"

He eventually volunteered, "I dropped it and it was so broken, I figured I may as well stomp on it some more."

It was hard not to react to this stunning and sober account. I'm sure my eyebrows lifted, but not Jerry's. He received it like all the rest with full confidence. In a winsome way, I offered some relief from the silence, "you sound like my son." (Reid has a penchant for what we call "do-overs.")

Autism or no autism, we all make mistakes. The experience reminded me that I am not alone! Any embarrassment or shame I might have had, washed away as I saw the pile of parts behind Jerry and met the other customers. With broken phones in hand, we were all the same. Needing repair. The universal human experience was a bond causing us to humbly approach and gleefully exit.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. Isaiah 53:5-7

But Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!" With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. Acts 3:7-10

I left with 5 of his business cards to give to friends...and a firsthand object lesson of what the Savior does for us. The euphoria I felt driving away fully functional, whet my appetite for what it will be like to have God wipe every tear away, restore what the thief has stolen, and enter His Kingdom where there is no sickness or death, autism or broken parts.

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."Revelation 7:16-17

For me that Monday, Jerry was a type of Christ; he prefigured an aspect of Jesus; he was a shadow of things to come. Being authentic Christian is seeing Christ in others and anticipating what He can and did and will do to transform each of us.

"to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners" Isaiah 61:1-3

Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Tell the Truth

How many things do you hear in a day that are questionable or just not true? Our culture could stand to be corrected on many a score.

I was chilling with Reid after school watching Hercules when I hear this, "How do you kill a god?" Hmmuuh?....wait a minute! Red flag. Falsehood. I was glad to be in earshot and slip in the edification for the record, "Reid, we believe in the one true God who was and is and is to come. He existed before the beginning of time and is Alpha and Omega." I could have gone on. Actually, He wasn't created and so can't be killed. Death entered the world as a consequence to our disobedience in Eden. Further, God defeated death when Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose again. "Just so you know."

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, " who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:7-9

Foundational Christian principles (aka the Bible) are no longer be gleaned by osmosis. In this day and age, the tenets of Christianity are not in the underlying fabric of our society. Quite the opposite. One has to go out of their way to learn the gospel. It is not in school curriculum, not assumed by our leaders, not foundational to the way business is done.

A friend of mine was carpooling a 5th grade classmate of her daughters. Having heard a reference they made, the affluent, educated girl inquired unabashedly, "What's the Bible?"

My niece recently found herself surrounded by misled followers of scientology. She'd leave the stifling room to call or text me at points when the propaganda became thickest. A check in her spirit told her something was awry. As she became inundated with lies and spiritual mumbo gumbo, we unraveled them by phone. In every instance, the Bible had a counterpoint to the lies they were putting forth. I found myself grateful for years of study and sound teaching to call upon with her. Informed or not, I believe the God-shaped vacuum in each of us resonates with truth and rests peacefully when it's presented.

I'd like to lay a Pervasive Developmental Disorder diagnosis on our society when I see disregard for the authority of Scripture and genuine ignorance of what the Bible claims. A child with PDD doesn't just wake up from a nap knowing how to smile; turn 2 and begin talking on cue; or maybe ever understand how feelings get hurt. He needs to be intentionally taught every single thing--from the meaning "yes" to how to read facial expressions to modesty. In raising Reid, I have found that stating the obvious in a calm, voice with no affect or judgment as if he were a visitor from another planet works amazingly well. I can't blame him for not knowing or for the way he learns. What I can do is fill in the blanks and tell him what he needs to know to live here. Likewise, maybe what the world needs now--is just a little bit of truth sweet truth.

" Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:16-18

Being an authentic Christian requires knowing what the Bible says well enough to articulate it to others in the teachable moments. The world around me seems increasingly full of lies, which no one recognizes as such. Like checking for counterfeit money, we need to be holding a lot of things up to the light of Scripture...and then showing people how it pales in comparison to the real article.

One of the best exercises of writing this blog for me, has been the habit of selecting a verse for each post. As I make a practice of doing that, it's amazing how the Bible really does have something to say about every circumstance. I'd love to host a show where the audience would throw out a scenario and some star (but who?) would name a relevant text from God's Word. It would be educational!

"my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Outside the Bubble

This is gonna be short and sweet. Day 3 was full.

I was on the road, away from my desk, which can be disorienting and tiring to someone with the spiritual gift of administration. Believe it or not, I actually like sitting at a computer tapping away--be it blogging or my current assignment of managing the minutia required to register 2,400 people for 116 service projects on our church's Community Serve Day. The deluge of interest in this huge undertaking is remarkable. People are driving from L.A. (2 + hours away) to volunteer with us!

Lately, I might be tempted to equate my "job" of serving the Lord with clearing my email inbox of change orders, cancellations, duplications, and other miscellaneous modifications to the Serve Day website. (I am proud of those logos.) Being on the run today--dropping Kat's car off for service, delivering breakfast to someone in crisis, reporting for my weekly library duty at Allie's school and then back for "College Night"--felt like shirking my responsibility.

Actually, I got my authentic Christian payoff when someone in my path midday said, "Wow, that was like divine intervention that you were here to hear that. Who else could I have told?" All I'd done was a little reflective listening and candid sharing of my own perceptions about something non-spiritual, I assure you. How gratifying to watch God show up for this person who I thoroughly enjoy, have actually come to love, and am nervous to offend with any holy roller vibe.

Being an authentic Christian rarely happens at church or on Sunday or even with other Christians. It can I suppose, but more often to really serve Him, we must follow Christ, trusting Him to lead us outside the bubble where authentic seekers seek. I might admit to preferring the safety of church ladies and comfort of cookie exchanges. Nobody loves a holy huddle more than I do. I'm not particularly outspoken and I prefer harmony to conflict. In a spiritual gift inventory, I think evangelism is 13th on my list.

Nonetheless, by showing up, being myself, and abiding in Him, others call out my faith and start using the very lingo I am trying to avoid to make sure they're comfortable!

Wild and crazy! And outside my own doing. I like that.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:3-5

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hard as Rock or Soft as Chenille?

Our kitchen floor is slate: cold stone, hard, completely unforgiving.

We didn't put this flooring in, it came with the house. Daily it informs my household decisions. I buy juice in plastic; I've done away with most of my Pyrex; I prefer wire centerpieces. Drop anything--even Tupperware from the freezer--and it ends in smithereens! No give at all. We are down to two Fiestaware ceramic bowls and I have no one to blame but myself.

When the iphone hit it Sunday, we knew the floor wouldn't give. Maybe that made it easier for me to offer grace. I want to be like Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, gentle, kind, good, long-suffering, forgiving. It is a volitional choice, like yielding to traffic at the taking one for the bending at the knees.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

For years, I had a gorgeous rug from L.L. Bean atop the slate. It was luxuriously soft, braided chenille in rich, multi-colored hues of blue and green. It was forgiving! Not only did it give a little bounce to dropped breakables but it concealed spillage too. I once dropped a full pot of tomato sauce on it from the stove. Believe me when I tell you, it blended right in, practically improving the variegated opalescence of the fibers.

A whole strawberry smoothie, bags of frozen blueberries, red wine, you name it. That rug absorbed a brutal amount of defacement.

Guests would never have suspected any of our mishaps; they vanished even from our own memories. It turned the other cheek in a sense, as we flipped it for increased life expectancy. When I finally retired that rug it was not due to staining or ragged appearance, but because I thought surely it must be in violation of some health code.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; Psalm 103:11-13

Simon & Garfunkel would rather be a hammer than a nail. I'd rather be a rug than slate. And I am awfully grateful that my Father is too.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-37

Being authentic as Kelly Langston has challenged, I will have to admit that I am way more forgiving, lenient, and merciful to Reid than I am to others. How often do I blame my husband or judge my neighbors as harshly as our slate floor treated that iPhone? No comment. In fact, Reid's disability gives him a "get out of jail free" card on many occasions. Could it be that God our Father treats us all as "special needs" as he gives us second and third and seventh chances?

If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." Luke 17:3-5

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Reid-isms that Make Me Smile

10. Don't be shy.

9. Do you have a neck?

8. Nah,na,na,na,na,na,na, na, na, na, na, na, noh! (Staccato)

7. You better _______(fill in directive) or you'll be on the stairs

6. What is your favorite movie of all time?

5. Give me a hug, you big lug.

4. That deserves a reward.

3. We need a van-cation!

2. I'm ready for my movie pay-off

1. Have it all you want, sister!

In the privacy of our own home, they crack me up every time. Outside the home,
in the glaring public eye, a few may require explanation. How many times have I
wanted to respond with Mary Poppins' aplomb, "First of all, I would like to make
one thing quite clear. I never explain anything!"

Since all roads lead to (or from) movie talk, I ought to attribute #10 to Cassie in
Dragon Tales, # 1 to Travis in Old Yeller, #5 to Between the Lions,#4 to a teacher
at school and #7 to dear old mom and dad. Reid has appropriately transferred
them to multiple real life settings though, like when he shares a stick of gum with
Allie (#1), when cousin Will began to negotiate with his dad last summer on vacation
(#7), or when he clears the dishes after dinner (#4).

The boy has a way with words.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kick me!

Who doesn't need a kick in the pants every once in awhile? I got mine--affectionately--from Kelly Langston, my Facebook friend, fellow blogger and author of Autism's Hidden Blessings.

Here is her Authenticity Challenge: to find 12 Christian bloggers who will commit to get real and post everyday from January 25th to February 8th about how your faith helped you deal with a situation. Yikes! that's 2 weeks; I thought it was one when I enthusiastically replied, "I'm in!"

I need Kelly to move next door, call to me from over the hedge, "get writing you sluggard," and reward me with coffee cake when I click "publish post."

Today's an easy one, for yesterday Reid threw my iPhone onto our hard, unforgiving, slate floor when I held firm to my "no, you may not have it now."

If you've been reading long, you know I am practiced at self-control, anger management, and taking deep breaths. Sometimes I snap, but this time, I benefitted from the years of preparation. Having witnessed a shocking number of broken electronics, remotes, speakers, dvd players, ipods, even laptops in the past, made it relatively easy to remain calm. Practice makes perfect.

In the heat of any crisis, if I can call up a verse, glimpse a lesson God might be teaching me, catch an illustration to blog about alter, or fathom some eternal purpose to it, then I am willing to endure it. The more I am able to do this, the sooner I can almost embrace it as character building. For in short order, the Bible promises we and all our stuff will return to dust. Our spirits will be reunited with the Creator for eternity as He originally intended. So, this is all just one short, sometimes miserable, sometimes fun, camping trip anyway.

The verse that coursed through my veins as I surveyed the broken glass and screen gone white was, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

So, silently, sooo silently, I thank God for that truth. In doing so, I was reminded that my relationship with Reid is more valuable than any gadget. The perseverance and self-control I develop are what God cares about. The opportunities to model this and teach Reid respect for property far outweigh the actual property itself. Reid is the treasure who'll be with me in heaven. No thief can steal the character or hope that we amass on this journey through autism.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:1-4

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5: 3-5

To be authentic, I will say it put a damper on the day. We missed our usual morning church and trudged along until deciding we needed to get our praise on at the last ditch 6:45 PM alternative. Not knowing if the phone was repairable or what it would cost, placed us on hold as much as when the electricity had gone out a couple nights before. Worship plugged us back into the power source. It is like magic and clockwork every time I need an attitude adjustment.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:6-8

So that you can experience some of the character developing patience of which I speak, (and because the bus is about to arrive) (and because I need to post again tomorrow) I will pause it there...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Any Readers in NYC?

Did I tell you about the NYU film student, Michelle Delateur, who found The Kingsmen on Myspace? I think behind. In any case, she came, she filmed, she edited...and Rockism, the documentary featuring Reid's band, is ready.

The screening will be January 29th at 11:00am on the NYU campus with Christiane Amanpour, CNN correspondent, as the guest speaker. I can't get there but maybe you can.

Reid's the one on the trampoline at the very beginning. That's my boy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Best Words of Mothering Wisdom I've Received

10. Food works.

9. Keep a journal.

8. Designate a prayer "closet."

7. Listen to your gut.

6. Say "yes" as often as possible.

5.Study your children and you'll know them better than any specialist.

4. I hate to tell you this but, it gets worse.

3. Think of it as a marathon not a sprint.

2. When you want to get someone's attention, whisper.

1. It is more important where my kids are in 20,000 years than in 20.

I am not saying I actually heeded all of this good advice at every turn but, with the bit of hindsight I have, I would say these are the ten that still ring truest.

Each of them has a back story which I'll spare you in the interest of time. Or we could make a guessing game of it: which do you think came from our home program case manager shortly after diagnosis? Which from a fundamental Christian homeschooler? Which as advice for flying cross country alone with toddler twins? Which from another mother of twins when mine couldn't walk? Which from a perfume ad campaign?

Apply it as you may or laugh in acknowledgment.