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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March Podcast: Marcie Strandburg

Mercy me. I missed March 31st to post Miss Marcie!

Marcie Strandburg is a one of the few, the humble, the prayer warriors. She showed up when I advertised a Moms in Touch prayer circle for special needs moms several years ago. In order to appreciate how unique and faithful she is, you need to know I sent more than 100 email invitations!

She is a rare gem of a tender heart who really prays--alone, together, outloud, silently, by email, in her sleep. We have become closer friends since then and now serve together on several committees. Marcie is Prayer Captain for Young Life Capernaum San Diego. She heads up Aspirations, a monthly Asperger's support group at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad. Her website is a great local resource. And--the Lord multiplies her time--she's been instrumental in hosting our next Concert of Prayer there too! Save the date: Saturday morning, May 21st!

You won't hear any of that on this podcast though, just her humble heart of love for the Lord and her son, Jacob. I love doing these because every time, I learn something new about one of my friends. Listen and love...

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Nancy, beloved bus aide, often has a story. Reid is the last drop off for them in the heat of the afternoon so depending on the length of the tale, Elvira sometimes turns the engine off. Especially on Fridays, it's like gathering at the water cooler with them or Miller time, depending on your prerogative.

This afternooon's report was good. Apparently, the bus broke down in the morning. Never fun, you can only imagine how that unplanned variable could unnerve a busload of half a dozen kids with developmental disabilities. With their various needs, one common denominator is the need for predictability and structure. Nobody does unexpected change well, especially at the end of the week.

Nancy was excited though, "Oh, I've gotta tell you...this morning...the coolest thing! Reid was great."

The bus petered out . . . Elvira's foot to the floor still wouldn't accelerate it. Losing power, she edged to the side of the road registering a mechanical failure. At that point, "Reid stood up with both hands outstretched and declared, 'Remain calm everyone." And they did. Some filed out to play with a neighborly dog. Reid remained in the vehicle (that in itself is a marker). A new bus arrived in due time and off they went for a good day at school, albeit tardy.

Nancy didn't know the British origin of that phrase or that it's been my mantra during times of domestic meltdown for years. Here it hangs in our upstairs hall:

Today, the first day of April, this sounds like victory to me. Not only was Reid able to hold it together and be calm, he also had the composure and authority to pass along his mastery to others. That's a move from surviving to thriving.

My goal used to be keep calm and carry on in the face of chaos. I'm shifting. Now I need to keep calm and carry on rather than leap for joy in elation and awe at the transformation God is bringing about before my eyes.

So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!— to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. 2 Timothy 2:2 The Message

See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42:8-10

But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. 1 Corinthians 10:22-24

Friday, April 1, 2011

Puzzle No More

The puzzle piece icon has become an almost universal symbol for autism. Generally speaking, I steer away from it. I don't sport the ribbon pin, keychain, bumper sticker, or mindset--though these clogs did catch my eye.

Nevertheless, today is the day--April is the month--to get on the Autism Awareness band wagon. While I am changing my profile pic, screwing blue bulbs into my porch lights, and printing out my Turning the Tide prayer calendar today, I figured I would also search BibleGateway for what the God has to say about "puzzles."

"The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things." Jeremiah 17:8-10 The Message

Read that verse again! The puzzles no one can figure out, are not secrets of darkness to Him. He has a strategy; He's not stumped; He's ordained our days.

He is not puzzled over this epidemic. He is up to something. Further, it is just not His way to hide things from us. He's just waiting like a desperate mom, for each of his children to make eye contact and call out His name.

The Light it Up Blue campaign is easy to scripturalize. As we seek to Shine a Light on Autism, let's call upon the God of Genesis who brought light itself into being with His words, "Let there be light." His Son, the light of the world, came from heaven to earth with a mission to cancel our sin, heal the blind, seek and save the lost. His Spirit communicates those secrets of darkness to us when we ask. According to both the book of Revelation and little Colton's account in Heaven is For Real, there is no darkness in heaven. God and Jesus literally light it up.

I am celebrating dramatic deliverance and freedom this month that we've experienced since last April, which was very dark. From that hellhole of pharmaceuticals, panic, and power failure, we have been rescued. It sounds like I'm preaching but really I am astonished--like Colton's parents--or the Israelites looking back at the Red Sea--that it is all real! Everything He says He does, when we do it His way: remove the idols, pray without ceasing, and submit to our husbands. He shines a light on autism, cancer, AIDS, and every other disease that puzzles us.

Are you getting on the band wagon this April? Ask the Lord what He would have you do. He is faithful to reveal it one piece at a time.

"Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever. He knows all, does all: He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down, he provides both intelligence and discernment, He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark--light spills out of him! Daniel 2:22 The Message

Suddenly, God, your light floods my path, God drives out the darkness. I smash the bands of marauders, I vault the high fences. What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him Makes it. 2 Samuel 22:28-30 The Message