Thursday, October 20, 2011

As it is in heaven....

The truth doesn't hurt--it does make me cry though. I was surprised this article in the Orange County Register brought me to tears. Usually I don't even click on them; they've become cliche; or I'm calloused, not sure which?

In any case, this time I did and by the paragraph when Mark and Kylie get called into the principal's office, I was all choked up.

We tease my husband, Jim, that he's become so sensitive in his middle age, crying more often at chick flicks or in church. In his own defense, he has a theory that his emotional response is brought on by some pure truth. To experience guileless authenticity in stark contrast to our corrupt world touches a deep place in our hearts. A yearning we all have. Some would say, the Holy Spirit falls when the waterworks begin.

So here's the truth from God's Word that dropped into my head as my heart was poked.

What happened at that OC high school was more than kindness or charity. Kylie's initiative and the response of his peers was a tangible demonstration of God's Kingdom coming to earth as it is in heaven. Do you know--really believe?--that accepting Jesus makes us sons and daughters of the King of Kings! Literally, we are adopted into His family to receive the same inheritance--eternal life plus immeasurable riches and the right to rule.

Unfathomable, until we see it dramatized in a true story like Mark's. Who can grasp...?

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) Ephesians 1

Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us,
who blood-washed our sins from our lives,
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father,
forever—and yes, he's on his way! Revelation 1:6

Now listen, daughter, don't miss a word:
forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.
Since he's your lord, adore him. Psalm 45

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Luke 11:1-3

(I also love it because Facebook is a new, regular part of Reid's Language Arts activities at school--age appropriate and socially relevant. And could there be a better case for inclusion?)

You did click the link and read the article, right?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

All God's Children

If you've never been in a room full of kids with disabilities, you haven't lived!

That wish may not be at the top your bucket list but, trust me if you ever get the chance it will tip your whole bucket upside down. Add music, worship or performance to that room and you approach an other-worldly experience that quickly becomes spiritual.

There is nothing quite so humbling or profound as watching people express themselves creatively without inhibition. I have had this experience a handful of times: at a Music Therapy Center recital, at Beyond Limits adult Sunday school class, and at the Young Life Capernaum Club Talent Show last June. Take a peek at what our friend Sean Horton captured on film.

My experience must only begin to approach God's delight at watching us, his children--all of us differently-abled--using the gifts He gave us freely without comparison or ego or pride to adulterate them. It's pure and true to a liberating extent.

"Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart." 1 Samuel 16:6-8

To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey." Matthew 25:14-15

Photo credit: Bill Wilson

P.S. You're invited to visit a Capernaum Club every other Thursday night at 6:30 at Flood church offices on Ruffin Road in San Diego.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Last Thursday of all Thursdays, we experienced a power outage in all of San Diego. Perhaps you read about it. What the news didn't mention was that Paula Dawson and I had been working for months with Tobias Haglund planning our first annual San Diego Capernaum fundraiser. All that day, we had loaded, unloaded and shlepped belly bar tables, glassware, raffle items, and provisions from around the county up to the 5th floor rooftop venue for this "perfect evening." By 3:00 we were home to shower. At 3:38 the power was out. Regardless of the unforeseen problem, we were back on the roof by 6:00 unable to turn our enthusiasm off.

As Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." Following is the letter we delivered the morning after to nearly 100 guests who could not make it...and a few more pictures because we were just so pumped up to celebrate the first year of this ministry!

The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, "We've never seen anything like that!"

Luke 5:26 The Message

the namesake story of Capernaum matched our experience last night at the Rooftop Soiree when God said, “Let there be candlelight and a full moon.”

Have you ever planned something that didn’t turn out quite the way you planned it…yet it was still awesome?

Clearly, last Thursday night we were planning one thing and the Lord had another idea. Our preparations for you to hear the highlights of the first year of San Diego Capernaum’s existence were thwarted by the power outage. But not doused.

Twenty-five of us did make it, believe it or not. We have included the photos to prove it. We hope this goodie bag might be the next best thing to being there. When you have time, read on and we will tell you how it went.

Many of you have asked this morning after, “How can I help?” The short answer is: You could complete the enclosed giving card and return it to us. Our top priority is to increase monthly giving through electronic funds transfers of any amount. More on that below

Parents of special needs kids share an almost universal experience of finding God’s greater glory in the midst of what can feel like disappointment or loss at first. A son you thought you’d teach to surf never does. Instead God’s plan for him is to touch hearts through music and transform your family from the inside out. A daughter who may never live alone brings joy to hundreds of “typical” kids at camp with a highly contagious laugh. Last night was one more opportunity to practice flexibility, acceptance of whatever the Lord gives or takes away, and squint our eyes to recognize hidden blessings.

Who would’ve imagined how the Spirit would move amidst the more intimate crowd: the One Hope wine rep was clearly inspired; a volunteer catering assistant hugged us and said he’d like his daughter to work at the camp he heard described; one diehard couple came unshowered after cleaning their salt water aquarium that had flooded; and every single one of our faithful volunteer leaders stayed into the wee hours to fellowship.

We were blessed by your intentions of attending. It was an incredible setting. Liz Stiger told touching stories about the privilege of being the “best friend” to numerous teens with disabilities. She has walked alongside them as they face real trials and make life-changing decisions. She called us to bold belief like the four men who lowered their friend through the roof at Capernaum to get him to Jesus' feet. She told modern day examples of transformation that take place when we invite Jesus into our heart. And she testified to the benefits that inclusive camping offers to the typical kids.

Wonderful as it was to hear her, sample savory treats and and sip a cold Corona after braving the incredulous traffic to finally get there, our goal was not just to show you a night on the town with food, music and a spectacular view. Our goal was to communicate to you the vision of Young Life Capernaum, show you the mighty way God is working through our Area Director, Tobias Haglund and his team, and give you an easy opportunity to participate.

We are convinced God wants San Diego Capernaum to be healthy and self-sustaining. After just 6 months in operation we have grown from serving 8 families to 22. It gives us joy as a Committee that God lets us help Him collect the financial resources needed to sustain and grow this ministry. We have seen first hand the incredible things God is doing through Tobias and his faithful and unbelievably talented leadership team. You can too on our webpage or Facebook where we will post the slideshow and Talent Show video we prepared.

Our fundraising goal for the second year is $70,000. We need $40,000 to “keep the lights on” (pun intended). Another $15,000 would enhance the program (North County is begging for a second Club location), provide additional training, and send more kids to summer camp next year. We also think it prudent to have $15,000 in the bank going into year three. Praise God that we currently have $13,000 in monthly pledges, so we are on our way.

The enclosed card outlines three ways to participate with us; we need Prayers, Players, and Payers. We hope you will check one of those and return it to us.

Payers may give online or by mail. We have donors giving from $5 per month to $400 per month. The automatic withdrawal option is easy, maintenance free, and gives you an email receipt every month. Please consider this as you contemplate your participation. Other donors prefer to give one-time gifts. We appreciate both.

We praise God for the incredible memories of last night: the full moon, the safe arrival and departure of our speaker from Washington, our accident-free exit down five flights of stairs in the dark, the opportunity to feed the homeless of San Diego with copious party trays, the flashlight in Sally’s purse, 2 out of 4 Kingsmen singing Switchfoot's “This is Your Life” unplugged, the exuberant smiles of downtown dwellers who could walk home, the unforgettable memory of being above the fray as sirens sounded without ceasing and the Kingdom work God lets us help Him do.

Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this? Isaiah 53:1-3

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family Portrait Bloopers

Am I the only mother with a shoebox labeled "Christmas Card Bloopers"? One day I swear I'll make an album of those. They tell more of the story than the staged ones that made it to print and got mailed.

I don't think it's a sick or twisted trait. We all long for truth. That longing in me wants to embrace the twin runny noses on the front porch of our Chicago house the year my toddlers hung on the icicled rail gazing west into the sunset. The truth those bloopers told was how much we all longed to go {back} west to the beaches of 72 and sunny San Diego.

Family portraits present the same dilemma. Do we dare tell the truth? Let alone frame it. We were in Nantucket last week and took the opportunity for a professional photo shoot. Jim took these from the sidelines. The truth is: we love to recycle, keep the beach clean and make music!

Certainly, I'm not the only one who prefers candids. But these are pushing it don't you think? We shall see what Cary Hazlegrove got. And then decide what to submit for the yearbook Senior Picture.

"Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Psalm 15:1-3

Not so fast," said the king. "How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?" 2 Chronicles 18:14-16

For God's Word is solid to the core; everything he makes is sound inside and out. He loves it when everything fits, when his world is in plumb-line true. Psalm 33:3-5

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seeing Potential

Reid came running off the bus as elated as his cheery bus drivers. He was in proud possession of another "Social Superstar award" from school. Waving it with shoulders back and a big wide grin made him seem 3 feet taller than when he'd left that morning. The thrill of victory!

It reminded me of the one he'd brought home last January. It's still on the bulletin board waiting to make the blog. It reads "Hygiene Social Superstar" which was ironic at the time. I imagine it may have been a one-time-only creation from the genius staff at Pioneer Day School.

What lies beneath the surface (but is not lost on me) is the fact that his nose was running heavily that week with a persistent cold. He hates to handle tissues, let alone use them to actually wipe his nose. The fact that they gave him the "hygiene" award that particular week, first made me laugh. Were they being sarcastic?! I could see the disgusting result of 7 hours of drip being wiped on the same shirtsleeve.

But really and truly, they live out the tagline on the Director's auto signature: "Great people are those who can make others feel that they, too, can become great." Mark Twain

To perceive, let alone treat people according to their potential is a mighty thing. They did not emphasize the mess, the inconvenience or the breach in sanitation mores. Instead they rewarded the progress toward mastery in personal hygiene. Maybe it was one swipe of a kleenex? or two squirts of anti-bac soap? I'll never know, but I appreciate it. Their intention heightened Reid's awareness of his own ability. Their belief was in a future eventuality.

It reminds me of how God the Father sees us through the blood of Christ. He doesn't see our sin or messed up lives. All that is cancelled by the cross. He sees us instead through Jesus--white as snow, forgiven, with a destiny as sons and daughters clothed in robes of righteousness, heirs to his inheritance. A mighty thing indeed!

God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. This is not only clear, but it's now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. Romans 3:25

God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! Romans 8:15-17

It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it...From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. Colossians 3:10

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Favorite Words from Reid's Latest IEP

10. charismatic

9. initiator

8. seizes

7. leading

6. enthusiasm

5. contagious

4. kinesthetic

3. joyful

2. laughing

1. charismatic (yes, it was used twice)

I realize this is taking things out of context, but sitting there sharing a copy of "Present Levels" with Jim, I couldn't help but underline the words that popped out at me. This is our boy!

How wonderful to be around a table of people who notice, appreciate and acknowledge his strengths while they shore up his considerable deficits. Keeping the gifts in sight is what motivates us all, including Reid. As it's been said, we become what we focus on.

I wouldn't have imagined ever saying this but the morning after, I told Jim I wish those meetings were more often. To brainstorm and collaborate with people who care so deeply about Reid's future and work creatively and tirelessly toward common goals, was energizing.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:7-9

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-3

Monday, July 25, 2011

Always laughing?

Having a sense of humor is:

a. valuable
b. preferable
c. mandatory
d. all of the above

Standing at the sink, I made statement "a" like an opening bid then raised it to "b" before Jim added "c" and the correct answer "d."

In progressive waves, we have realized this truth. Was a time, we could not laugh. At the mere suggestion we'd make the cynical retort, "It's that or cry." Worse yet, "shut up, it is not funny!" which I think I actually said to my mom when she suggested, "it helps to have a sense of humor about it, don't you think?"

"It" being the precarious predicaments Reid gets himself (and us) into or our inability to control him. At the time, it may have been climbing into a recycling bin or cutting to the front of an ice cream line unabashedly.

Another time, a college buddy of ours came to visit with his family of four from Ohio. We hadn't seen them in years nor met each other's kids. The hallmark of this guy (and his wife coincidentally enough) has always been his sense of humor. On and on the stories go, of spring break trips when he used cream cheese to soothe his sunburned face since Noxema was unavailable. Or numerous one-liners he's coined which live on in our collective family lexicon but make no sense cause "you had to be there" for his Chaplin-esque delivery.

Leave it to them to identify the humor in our family dynamic. It was his wife who said, "So are you just laughing all the time?" For that was their experience of a day with Reid. What a funny, entertaining household must be created by his antics. Hahahaha...the possibility gave me pause. When had amusing become annoying and how could we go back?

Yesterday, for whatever cumulation of reasons, Jim and I were genuinely, simultaneously, heartily both belly laughing with Reid (not at him which is a key distinction) in public! It felt like a milestone of joy replacing grief. Reid's exuberant joy superceded any vestige of anger and fear we used to hold.

On the way home from the beach we had stopped for the ritual Roberto's burrito. Often we get it togo. Tonight Kool and the Gang was wafting through the outdoor patio seating area which drew Reid out like a magnet. While Jim ordered at the window, Reid was in plain view. I saw him approach a solitary male diner but could not hear what he said. The man bemusedly looked around for a parent or some explanation. I laid low in the car in my barefeet and modest cover up. He hadn't done enough to require my intervention.

Then began a series of dance moves in between the two-top tables. Starting with a little step ball change, he transitioned to the Snook torso twist, the Linus and Lucy dance, then what looked like the Elmo slide from my vantage point. The sequence brought unavoidable chuckles from a neighboring table of 2 men.

Jim rounded the corner of the building, grinned at his dancing fool and offered his own woot woot and Latin hip movement to the party. To which Reid shouted, "let's get Mom!" "Let's all dance....come on mom get outta the car."

I tried to duck, hide behind my hand, and lower my gaze but the entire town had eyeballed me by the time Reid got to the driver's side car door. He opened it and tried to pull me out across the front console. I had to go now. The last time this happened I was in a wedding dress back-paddling out of the mosh pit Jim's (they-don't-call-him-Gumby-for-nothing) relatives had formed at our wedding. I've changed since then. For this time I raised my hand above my head and busted out my best John Travolta Sunday Night Fever move as I came around the car.

So much for take out. We sat there groovin' and movin' enjoying how contagious joy can be...and grateful we'd caught it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Knowing Your Own Strength

We have a big dog. Large by any standard--treat size, food type, kennel cost or flea prescription--Benny's weight hovers just below 100 pounds. Over 7 years we've come to know him affectionately by numerous names: Puppy Precious, Gentle Ben, Big Ben, Charlie Tiger Lion (Reid's redub of the MGM lion), Old Yeller, New Yeller, Benny Boy, and Aslan.

He stands guard like a sphinx at several sunny posts in our backyard. He is an early warning system for both the UPS truck and pedestrians slowing in front of our house. Often he howls without leaving his spot and even from an upside down prone posture in his corner of the living room. No need to get up, just sounding an alert. He is ever on guard whether at the back fence or the front door, waiting...watching. In addition to being a guard dog, he's a big hunk-a-munk who sleeps at the foot of Allie's bed and plops on my feet while I prep food at the kitchen counter. If you know him intimately as we do, he's a tender heart.

If you don't, he is easily mistaken for Cujo (especially from the other side of a closed door). His seriously startling bark puts the postwoman off several yards when she has to deliver an oversized package. The burliest contractors are caught unaware (until they toss his tennis ball).

The Lord speaks to me through Benney. Yesterday it happened again. Walking him around our loop, we passed a woman tangled up with two miniature dogs. They yipped and yapped at my Big Ben from all the way across the street. Ben is easily 5 times their size yet they feel the compunction to get his dander up. It didn't work.

I imagined the thought bubble over his head, "You gotta be kidding me...really?" Ben kept his stately pace, glanced over but did not dignify them with a response. He didn't have to. He knows the strength of his jaw alone could crush a pack of papillons. There was no need to bark.

I've been praying in new ways this year, casting out demons, taking authority over principalities and rulers of darkness, and reading Jesus' words literally when it comes to healing. In establishing this new habit, at first I think I yelled or at least raised my voice slightly thinking that must be necessary for these more powerful prayers to work. At times, I felt the need to call in others who knew the "right way" or had more authority or experience. Rather quickly, I've seen that it is not about the volume, amount of noise, or how loud our bark.

God's Word is more powerful than any two-edged sword. When we claim His promises, even silently, it suppresses the enemy spirits that yap in our minds taunting us with lies. Believing the power of His blood shed on the cross and knowing the authority we have in Jesus' name is the strength we need in spiritual warfare. When we do, His victory is ours (Romans 8).

The Lord has many names: Savior, Almighty, Commander of the Angel Armies, Provider, Brother, Yahweh, Healer, Protector. To know Him intimately is different than to hear His thunderous voice from afar or read about His wrath. Once you trust Him there is no fear--of Him or anything else.

Notably, Benney only barks when contained at home, not out on a leash. As long as we're connected, Benney and I carry on with our walk and those pesky little spirits flee like a terrier on a tether. Likewise, as long as I'm connected with Jesus (abiding as the Bible calls it; He as the vine, I the branches), I carry on with life dismissing as many demons as He lets me sense. For I know without a doubt, that my God is greater, awesome in power...Our God...Our God... Doesn't take long to remind me of a song:

(Apologies to my small dog owning friends. It's just a metaphor.)

"Here's what I'm saying: Ask and you'll get; Seek and you'll find; Knock and the door will open. Luke 11:8-10

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:5-7

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. Luke 10:18-20

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A New Car!

Standing in the Toyota Carlsbad used car lot, Jim tried to track the various specs our salesman, Mo, had committed to memory. Which Prius in the row was the best value for us? They honestly need a chart (or a website like CarMax). Without it, the oral recounting was as lost on us as the details of our genealogy.

Jim started to sound like a parrot, reiterating his own clarifying questions.

"How much is the that one again?"

"What was the mileage on the white one?"

"Has the black one been discounted yet?"

Each time we moved down the line to the next car, we lost site of the sticker on the previous one. It's a larger-than-life-size game of elimination. And that was before we got to my color preferences.

Reid must have been thinking this looked a lot like a rental car lot at any airport in the country. He knew what to do. Hop in, hang on, and start scoping out the glovebox.

As we'd piled out of Jim's MiniCooper, Reid opened the back door of the silver one right next to us, "I like this one. Let's go." (Come to think of it, that's the one we drove off the lot 2 hours later. Hmm..)

I was on Reid-patrol since Jim is the premier negotiator, "Well not yet, Reid. Dad has to talk to the man here and think it through. It costs a lot of dollars so, it might take him a little while." This is when the circular Q and A ensued.

That was our cue to search for a vending machine. Before we did, Reid put a hand on Jim's shoulder and came out with a phrase I imagine he must hear frequently at school, "Dad, are you having trouble making a choice?"

The kid speaks the truth...and keeps us laughing:)

I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Matthew 11:25

Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
Psalm 25:11-13

Get wisdom—it's worth more than money; choose insight over income every time.
Proverbs 16:15-17

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 1o Things I am Thankful for this Week

1. a husband who serves (and surfs)

2. a decisive husband

3. a husband who seeks righteousness

4. children who are set apart

5. children who embrace their destiny

6. children who tell me they love me, often

7. friends who hold me accountable

8. friends who pray aloud, face down, and without ceasing

9. friends who text me Scripture

10. Eugene Petersen's translation of The Message

11. a God who reveals Himself to me specifically through rain, numbers, and newspaper headlines

Oh, that's twelve.

Hallelujah! I give thanks to God with everything I've got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God's works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment! Psalm 111:1

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Deafening Silence

I must report a new noise around here. Accustomed to the after school din of Nick Jr., BluesClues intro or Between the Lions, I was shocked twice this week by the sound of silence. It's a beautiful thing. And I think it really is a sacred thing too.

Peace, at last. Hurrah! The addictive trait of zoning out to television has has been broken and is staying so.

Can anyone relate to the shock and dismay of this? Without my asking, Reid turned off the set and chose to get his homework, sit in concentration to complete it, and then simply sit and be. This concept of rest is unprecedented in his repetoire of recreational activities.

Once upon a time I (or a team of therapists) would structure his every waking moment and attempt to factor in some quiet in theory. In practice, this always took more of my time and energy and talking than it was really worth. Prompting and following through; reinforcing and praising.

Somewhere in the teens, I acquiesced to the age appropriate allowance of vegging on the couch after a long day of school and bailed on the hope of productive independence. I'm ashamed to admit, it's just easier and I've run out of steam.

But praises be! It is happening spontaneously before my very eyes. Again today, there was a reasonable amount of tv, then a bath, a rest period, then engagement with dad. No tv blaring, no pleading and negotiating.

"Be still and know that I am God," is an oft-quoted verse to slow our American 21st century pace. In my past reality, living with someone whose engine runs on constant high, it seems slightly unrealistic. Hyperactivity has a contagious aspect to it. It dictates that at least one other party is launched into a synchronized orbit. Like a tag team surveillance operation, Jim and I have developed a rhythm over the years of alternating being "on." Supervising, intervening, available and alert. This has been our norm for years. The house is rarely quiet. As one friend duly noted, its like the terrible two's but you haven't outgrown them. (At the time, I did not appreciate that.)

Even if I forcibly remove myself to the hammock in the backyard, a habitual hyper-vigilance cues me to the tv's buzz, the garage door creak, the stainless fridge door flashing open. "Just in case;" "you never know;" "better safe than sorry" reminders caption every quasi-meditational thought in my head. We are not accustomed to rest or stillness.

How does one who is never still begin to know God? Or develop intimacy with Him? It's easy to see how our hyperactivity--whether chosen or imposed--serves to separate us from hearing--knowing--experiencing God. If experiencing God happens in stillness, then how will it happen for the hyperactive child or parent? It is both a discipline and a skill.

What I'm realizing this month in gratitude is that the converse of that Scripture is also true: Knowing that I am God enables you to be still. As Jim and I acknowledge God on the throne in our home, knock other idols off the high places (yes, i mean tv), and take more of His Word literally, peace arrives. We can all be still, not because we changed anything in the physical--rules, rewards, or policies--but as a result of changes in the spiritual invisible realm.

The change is inexplicable and undeniable. But don't take my word for it, take God's.

Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, and also obedience. You hear the prayer in it all. Psalm 65:1 The Message

Quiet, everyone! Shh! Silence before God. Something's afoot in his holy house. He's on the move! Zechariah 2:12-13

"But oh! God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!" Habakkuk 2:19-20

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Giving up the Need to Know

I can explain almost everything around here--no matter how odd. How did the trash can get in the living room? Why is the mail on the curb? What's that brown smear on the towel? Where is the scotch tape? Do we have any Parmesan? What time is...?

As moms who make a vocation of studying their spirited, strong-willed, challenging, indigo, otherwise unique children, I can nearly read Reid's mind. True confession: I take pride in that. It's second nature to surmise a motivation for almost any of his behaviors. I'm not saying I can control, extinguish, or modify them but, almost always I can hazard a good guess as to the method behind the madness. Small comfort, I know.

This baseball, Exhibit A, is an exception to the rule. I have no idea where it came from!

When I asked Reid, "what does it say?" he answered, "Babe Ruth." Obviously. You do the math (or spell check as it were)!

It is Reid's writing for certain. But I am clueless as to who, what, when, where or why it got autographed. What brought Babe to mind? Who explained the concept of signing to him? What precipitated the burst of appropriateness and synergy of understanding?

I silence the barrage of questions running through my mind in order to revel in the independence that it marks. He's achieved something I can't explain! I didn't witness it happening and I can't decipher its arrival. Good for him! And oddly, newly, surprisingly, gratefully, there is freedom in letting that be.

In my mind, the limited edition autographed baseball immediately became a tangible symbol of Reid's increased comprehension of the world. It's also a momento of the joy that is mine (did I say joy? not despair, fear or regret) when I relinquish the need to know every minutia of his daily life. Truth be told, it's really control fueled by pride and fear. Sayonara!

I just finished studying the tabernacle of God in Beth Moore's A Woman's Heart. This tent of meeting that the Israelites carried through the wilderness for 40 years was God's dwelling place with them. A minutia of detail surround its construction and every color and composition of thread used; every position of every piece of furniture and curtain in it has meaning. One could re-do that workbook 5 times and still be discovering. There is sooo much we don't know about the symbolism of Christ, about how to pray, about how the spiritual world works. Marvel in it! And let it be...for God to know and show you if and when He decides you need to know.

Wasn't this the fatal flaw of Eve in the Garden? Her driving motivation to gain "the knowledge of good and evil" was what the enemy held out to her as reason enough to break a simple, solitary rule established for her own good.

Like a maturing child learning that I actually can wait for Christmas morning without peeking at presents, I am learning from Reid, from autism, from the ever-loving, patient teacher, Lord, to trust and not know everything. I don't have--don't want--to have all the answers.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:33-35

God commanded the Man, "You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead." Genesis 2:15-17

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace... Ephesians 2:6-8

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter People are Re-people

Reid has a keen eye for truth and excellent ears. As I clue into what fascinates him--be it a certain video clip or a song lyric--I find meaning. Either meaning that he has gleaned or a message he is attempting to communicate with those who will listen. Or both.

I am learning to interpret this more quickly and trust his "stims" as creative and intentional. Admittedly, it has taken me awhile. What can I say, I'm slow.

Over and over, I am reminded and convinced that "he gets it." Like yesterday in church, when he repeated the third sermon outline point to me as a command, "Stop doubting mom, and believe!"

He may appear tuned out in his own world but, in fact, he adeptly straddles two worlds as Lucy did Narnia and London. There are no coincidences. He is communicating truth in a unique way--both receiving and proclaiming it.

This day after Easter, may I present this explanation of the resurrection Reid-style?

(Click here for the video link if you're on Facebook.)

Distilling the gospel to its most elemental, it is a three part saga:

God created man to dwell with Him in Eden.

The serpent undermined His authority introducing sin.

Jesus came to be sin for us on the cross to reconcile us with God.

It wasn't until the jillionth time (I'm estimating) that this segment was rewound and replayed on our set, re-rented from the library and re-searched on Youtube, that I realized the beauty of it. Leave it to Reid to recognize truth "Between the Lions."

The celebration of Easter at its core is that we are re-people. Repentant, restored, reconciled, resurrected, rejoicing, reunited with our God. Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dancing with Mal

I just finished Emily Colson's book, Dancing with Max. It is a terrific read disclosing her journey getting to know both her dad and her son all at once. Her faith and immense love--themselves gifts from God--are central themes enabling her to appreciate that her son with autism is a gift. Her masterful writing and disarming humor refresh the familiar story line of diagnosis to acceptance. I could particularly relate (as in, laugh outloud) to this excerpt:

Max had an appointment with a doctor who specialized in integrative medicine. He wasn't one of those crystal-worshiping, incense-burning practitioners, but a rather sophisticated doctor utilizing both alternative and conventional practices... He needed Max's treatment history, and of course, in the process, he would realize I was not neglectful crackhead parent, but a serious overachiever-type mom. The cross hanging around my neck would speak of my faith, my commitment, my clean lifestyle. I even found a way to tell him that I'd spoken at several area conferences, just in case he might need such a service. All those years as a graphic designer creating corporate identities taught me the power of communicating the right image. I pictured this doctor eventually inviting us into his home, telling me secret cures for autism, while he stood at his kitchen counter mixing Chinese mushroom powder into wheat grass. And he would realize that helping Max, the innocent child of a loving Christian and by-no-possible-fault-of-her-own single mother, was his life's mission.

"Does he have any language?" the doctor asked as Max sat silently outside the door.

"Oh, yes. It doesn't come easily, but he uses full sentences now," I answered.
He fired off a list of questions about sleep habits, diet, digestion, but kept coming back to the issue of language. "You said he does speak, is that correct? He's right outside my office door, and . . . I don't think I've heard him say anything."

"Yes, he's just very anxious here," I explained as if we were colleagues.

Our appointment was nearing an end, and I was pleased at the doctor's willingness to order numerous laboratory tests. "Could your son come in so that I could talk with him a bit? Would
he do that?" he asked.

"Maybe," I answered. "Max," I called as I looked into the hall. "Can you come sit with Mommy for a minute? Then we'll be all done and do something fun." Max stood up as if he always followed my requests and entered the examination room. The doctor greeted him, but Max brushed past his desk and stood silently at the window gazing out over the Cambridge neighborhood. "Good job Max," I proudly commended. "We're going to do something fun next."

And then it happened. My son must have a locator device implanted in his brain, because it only took him two seconds to see into a storefront window on the street below that obviously had commercial refrigerators. And with that motivation, my son spoke his first, and what would be his only, words for the doctor to hear.

"Mom, after this we can go to the liquor store."

Delighted at the prospect, Max walked out and sat beside my mother, who looks as much like an alcoholic as Mary Poppins.

The doctor's eyes shone on me like headlights. I was so busy being perfect that I forgot to laugh. The more I tried to explain, the worse it looked; he wasn't buying the whole refrigerator-obsession thing.

She has been there! I have been there. She has been where I have been! Thank you Lord that you do whatever it takes to free us from a spirit of pride.

It happens bit by bit--like becoming real. Reid, like Max, has taught his mom many things, not the least of which is to recognize embarrassment as the indicator light of pride. Having a son with absolutely no social inhibition continues to set me free from a fear of man.

Allie too. Just last week, she recalled sitting in a theater dying a thousand deaths because her brother was "so embarrassing." "What was he doing?" I'd forgotten. "Being overly happy," was her description. Is that such a crime? It's exactly what he does though. He expresses uncontainable joy so much so that it's socially unacceptable.

Even when he was a toddler, I found it hard to correct him for being too gleeful during library storytime, too excited to meet Mary Poppins at Disneyland, or euphoric when Souplantation had Barney bean salad (our term, not theirs) in the buffet smorgasbord. Gradually (unable to control or contain it), I've come to realize that it is more my problem than his. He embodies joy. That is a gift to those who receive it. And if it bothers someone on the way, that is their problem.

Now only a vestige of my pride remains. I recognize it in this clip of Reid cutting loose at a recent Banding Together coffeehouse concert. He's the one--the only one--on the dance floor doing aerial 360's. I am one feigning nonchalance in the black and white raincoat. Who's the woman dancing with him unabashedly? That is Malvina. Thank you Lord for friends who have more love than pride . . . who dole it out liberally all over everybody . . . who don't squelch his exuberance. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:9-10

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:6-8

Above all, love
each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-9