Thursday, March 31, 2011

Headed for Completion

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:18-20

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:5-7

I love the way God speaks a different message to me each year through the holy days of Passover, Easter, and Christmas. ...and how they are connected--a sort of spiral curriculum just for me. For years as a mother, I've identified with Mary "pondering these things in her heart." Rendered speechless for fear of misinterpreting or getting ahead of God is an all too familiar posture. Noodling on the bigger picture is my favorite pastime.

This December though, in the middle of our Many Moods Christmas concert, it struck me afresh. Mary had been told she'd give birth to the Messiah her people had been waiting on for centuries. The King who would deliver them from the evil reign of King Herod and others.

How would this helpless, homeless, human babe in her arms get from here to there? How much more would she and Joseph be responsible to prepare him? Was it presumptuous of her to even believe what the angel had said?

She'd been waiting 12 years, perhaps long enough to have tabled the promise, before she had any real evidence of it coming to fruition. By the time Jesus stayed behind at the temple, Mary might well have needed a reminder of who He was to become. It was not her first reflex when He turned up missing. Nor is it mine when Reid goes missing in Target or church or the Farmer's Market.

Sadly, I watched a mother from a podium recently recount the deficits and delays her teenage daughter had as a toddler. In front of her, the girl performed with a cheerleading squad from her public high school. Rather than relish the inclusion or celebrate her accomplishment, in essence this mother re-labeled the poor girl publicly. With tears and pity from her old wineskin, she mortified those of us listening on. Holding her daughter to an old diagnosis, she set a powerful example of what not-to-do.

I wanted to go tell the truth to that teenager of who she was in Christ; how God saw her in her potential; how He was completing the good work He'd begun in her. Hard to do at an autism fundraiser...where the sympathy vote seems to always win...but, then there is this blog...

Last December, Reid and I began reading this list of affirmations from God's Word every night at bedtime. And you know what, we are starting to believe them. It causes us both to act as if they are true. Some nights he picks 4, other nights I read a whole page; some nights he joins me in a hearty "Amen" after each one, other nights I oblige his, "don't do the 'amens.' Every night, I trust what God has done, is doing and will do to cause Reid "to grow in wisdom and favor and stature with God and with man," just like he did for His only begotten son, the baby Jesus.

Other variations of the list are here and here. Just pick your favorite.

There is reality and there is hope. Reality as I know it is constantly changing. Hope does not disappoint. I choose to believe even when I cannot see. For it is by our faith, that we are healed! God finishes what He begins; the baby in the stable became a Messiah who died for our sins and rose from the dead. Exactly as it is written. And He will King of Kings.

The same God who planned that, can bring our kids on the spectrum to completion. Easter is coming my friends!

Let this song sink in. Let your faith arise...believe...agree with the Creator.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:23-25

...hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:4-6

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grateful for Surround Sound

Every single morning these ladies bless me: Elvira and Nancy, bus drivers extraordinaire. Long time readers will remember God's grace and provision in the first bus drivers I ever trusted. Same Nancy, new sidekick. She has circulated back to our route and brought Elvira along to harmonize.

What is it about these two? They may not win any awards for the song writing jingle, but they make my day! Everyday. Full of love, they spill it all over Reid with this customized cheer when he boards the bus. It began as a reward for being ready and waiting "on the step" at 6:55am. Honestly, now I think they do it whether he's late or not. What is it about Reid? He brings out the best in people.

These ladies go above and beyond driving safely. They drive sweetly. Now that the ready-on-time goal has been 90% accomplished, they are onto a wave-to-mom maneuver. She actually honked at me last week when I missed my cue. (It takes two, ya' know.) After my end of the waving ritual is complete with my blessing spoken outloud, I shut the door to peace and quiet knowing my guy is in good hands. I breathe easy knowing they genuinely care. Daily, they give me that gift of peace of mind.

Love my son, love me. Is it not true for all parents? The quickest way to our hearts is to show authentic, pure, agape love toward our offspring. Don't give me a thing; you don't even have to give me the time of day. Just invest in my kid and you've won me for life.

Churches know this; thriving children's ministry is the key to growing a congregation. A ministry I admire, Southeast Asia Prayer Center takes it to the mountains and disciples whole villages in Tibet after giving heart surgery to kids.

Afterall, it's the heart of God the Father. He says, love my one and only Son, Jesus, and you love me. He wants nothing more.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
. John 14:5-7

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:22-24

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:20-22

Monday, March 28, 2011

Serendipitous Victory

Some nights it just all comes together! (like it was planned in advance)

Last Saturday was the third in a series of six Youth Helping Youth concerts to raise money for Banding Together, a nonprofit with a mission is to provide music therapy scholarships and mentorships to kids with special needs. The Kingsmen have been the de facto poster band for Banding Together since it began. Certainly, they epitomize the mission. They are no longer alone, however. This once-a-month opportunity has attracted interest from other local high school bands who love applause just as much. And two new special needs bands are forming.

The Pacific Ridge School Rock Jazz Ensemble, Vast Zephyr, Dirty Gold, The Third Edition and North Coast Singers Capella group are also getting in on the action, performing to share their passion for music and raise money for kids with special needs who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford music therapy. They know firsthand the power music has to motivate.

Unbenownst to me, a professional videographer in the audience offered up his gifts in the moment to capture the evening and the cause on film. Thank you Sean Horton! Reid got roped into the interview since I'm the last to leave. I don't think he minded, do you?

What do you see? More than money raised, the quality of the actual performance, or number in attendance, I see joyful happy moms who once feared letting their boys play in public. I see an inclusive community of all ages. I see respect for differences. I see admiration. I see innate leadership skills in kids who are marginalized in other contexts. I see joy. I see freedom that comes through the power of music. I see full engagement. I see proud fathers in attendance. I see peace. I see the Kingdom.

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. 1 Chronicles 15:15-17

Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God's faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!
Psalm 117:1-2 The Message

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-11

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Poor Lucky Dog

Many of you know Benny from Facebook. He's getting to be an old dog. Alas, he is having to learn a new trick. And I for one, have faith he can do it!

Our newly landscaped, drought tolerant yard has come to symbolize many things this winter. In the natural realm, it represents countless things the Lord is doing in the spiritual. Last weekend, I was pointing out another parallel to my husband. I couldn't help but notice the tri-trunked sapling draping our hammock reminding me that our marriage is a cord made stronger with God (Ecclesiastes 4:11-13) and I swear the runners of the strawberry plants are being sent out 2 by 2 just like the disciples to spread the gospel (Luke 10:1-3). Lest he miss my train of thought, I prefaced my revelation to Jim, "I am talking about a spiritual reference now in the symbolic." His loving retort, "When are you not?!"

Honestly, I may need to write a museum gallery guide to the yard. There are that many references to scripture, the Tabernacle, and Biblical truth that have become obvious to me as we watch God on the move in our lives this season. I think mounting placards would be too much, don't you?

Anywho, one of the more mundane examples has to do with Benny. Along with the rest of us, his habits are in flux. As a result of the drip irrigation, removal of grass, and new traffic pattern, his previous patch of dead brown crabgrass (ie. toilet) is no longer recognizable to the human eye. Of course, being a dog, he can still sniff it out somehow and returns to exactly the same spot even though it has been completely transformed. This simply won't do as far as I'm concerned. With the clean, new designI have a renewed standard for this beach grass and intend to keep it green and hygienic.

As responsible loving owners, we factored his needs into the plan and actually had better things in mind for him too. Namely, a custom patch of astroturf around the side yard. It's an upgrade: deodorized, and private--whether he knows it or not.

The prophetic parallel from God showed itself in the interim before the turf was complete. Ben was so confused and tentative. I'd "auckk" at him in gutteral canine correction for so much as stepping on the pristine mulch. I think it was clear to him what not to do, but he was clueless what I wanted instead. What were his alternatives?

For several days, he'd hang by the back door looking back at me with each individual step of his four paws, as if to say, "Is this ok? How 'bout here?" It was a game of "hot and cold" where he checked in with me to see if he was on the right track.

It was so cute in a pathetic sort of way. Here he is beseechingly wondering whether he'd found a suitable compromise. It was off the mulch, away from the grass seedlings. Okay, that worked as a stop gap and demonstrated to me his adaptability and nimble mind. All the while, Jim was skeptical, "Let him go on the mulch. He's a dog. You really think you can retrain him?" He forgot how much behavior mod I had under my belt.

My poor dog had to struggle a bit to figure out what I was after. But I am here to tell you that he did! My lucky dog, I had his best interests at heart. It's official folks: you can, in fact, without a doubt, teach an old dog new tricks! Benny loves this spot and visits it happily every morning for all his toileting needs. Master and best friend are happy:)

The good news is, we are all retrainable too. What is the Lord my Master asking of me today? Can I watch and listen for His feedback closely enough to figure it out? Do I crave His good pleasure? Am I attentive to His directions to go right and turn left? Do I live to hear His praise?

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-22

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:21-23

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-20

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Which Self-Talk Reveals

Ok, this clip from Father of the Bride is more than just hilarious. I'm searching for it as I work on a book proposal recounting our April 2010 to April 2011 adventure as it relates to and requires a number of re-words. "Re: Re: RE: REID!" is my working title.

I needed to recall Steve Martin's choice list as he flounders to control the attack dogs:

"I'm Relaxed..."

Much more on that later, but I happened upon something easier to tell in one sitting. You hear Steve Martin's self talk? As in numerous comedies, it is made audible in the movie for laughs.

"All I could think about was the size of this place...we coulda parked our whole house in the foyer..."

I live this brand of comedy daily. Reid lets us know exactly what he is thinking with an increasing amount of self-talk both at home and school. On the surface it is just one more "maladaptive" behavior to reckon with and raise concern. Looking deeper, the self-talk is actually worth much more than a few laughs.

Reid's externalized thought process literally reveals his motivations, where he's stuck, what challenge he's facing, and how hard he is attempting to do the right thing. It's a gift of revelation. A helpful tool in showing us how to set his potential free.

By talking to ourselves (albeit silently), don't we all process what is happening around us. We might encourage ourselves or beat ourselves up. Surely we prep up for the day's challenge over the coffee pot or in the closet choosing what to wear. Listen to yourself and take note of how much dialogue you have with yourself.

As I realize this, I am actually grateful that Reid's thoughts are as pure as they are. He sounds an awful lot like Paul in Romans ruminating over the battle between our old and new natures:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:15-20