Sunday, May 31, 2009

Miss Andrea Celebrates her 100th Post!

I am a sucker for kinesthetic edu-tainment. When we homeschooled, my daughter's friends affectionately called me "Miss Frizzle." (Could it be, the hair?) I implored them to paint circus posters a la Mirette on the High Wire, parade down the street like the Ox-Cart Man, boastfully sell their "Best in the 5 cent World Salsa" cum Slappy Hooper and countless other activities from my favorite curriculum ever, Five in a Row. Mixing literature and life is a passion.

No surprise, I want to celebrate my 100th post! It marks a milestone; a critical mass of writing for what I hope will be a "blook" one day. I am half tempted to have a party with friends who would sort 100 blocks with me into batches of 10, do 100 sit-ups, drink lemonade with 100 ice cubes and 100 cherries, or some such thematic antic the likes of which Miss Bindergarten and I dream at night.

My kids are growing up though and if I expect them to ban the baby stuff, then so must I. Convinced by my old friend and new Doctor of Divinity, Kathy Dwyer, I decided to mark the occasion with a new Autism Unplugged banner! I'll thank my biggest supporter (and husband) 100 times for designing it and knowing html. And, in hopes of getting 100 responses, I'm announcing an Essay Contest tomorrow!

Celebrating serves an important function. I learned this in the educational realm at a Brain Gym conference years ago. They refer to it as "anchoring a skill;" maybe the Biblical term is "putting a marker" or an ebenezer here. Whatever you call it and however you do it, by all means celebrate! Naming the accomplishment or significant progress in any area of development has the power to reinforce and ensure that it happens again.

When Reid mastered riding a 2-wheeler bike (at age 10), we went out to dinner and cheered. When Allie wanted to be baptized, we designed invitations and engraved frames. For our 10th anniversary we went to Kauai. For our 20th, we went to Vegas (don't ask). When The Kingsmen had a successful gig, we threw a karaoke party.

Anchoring the Brain Gym way is like hitting a reset button in the brain and body. It can raise the bar on expectations and set a new threshold. Marking even minor steps in the right direction are cause for celebration: going a week without caffeine; selling 1 of the 100 rummage items in the garage; making a dreaded appointment with a doctor; speaking up in class.

Two years ago on Mother's Day's, Jim presented me with my first Apple MacBook on a wing and a prayer that I'd use it. Second only to the cross-country skis he gave me when we were newlyweds, this has been my favorite gift from him. It represented his belief in me and came with a hopeful expectation for my future. It was as much a vote of confidence as anything. By giving me a laptop, Jim was seeing in me a writer and calling out a future vocation. He was also giving me a nudge.

I have found a voice, entered a discipline of writing, and am plodding toward my end goal of having a book length story to tell. The unexpected perk, which actually Jim predicted too, is connecting with a new group of blogging buddies who span the world yet know no boundaries. Friends you can look up at all hours of the night to gab on topics not often broached in my regular social circle. Worth celebrating? I say so and I say now.

What new skill can you anchor at your house? How will you celebrate?

Let me know in a comment.

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. Genesis 28:18

Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."
1 Samuel 7:12

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-12

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Presence of a 1:1 Aide

Reid's school Talent Show was Wednesday. Horray! He transferred his musical skills to a new domain by auditioning, rehearsing, and performing without the aide of music therapist per se, but rather, teachers who are musical. The whole experience was a culmination of many goals mastered and an opportunity for the faculty to see a different facet of Reid.

Picture his solo of "People All Get Ready" by The Frames on a cavernous black stage all by his little lonesome in a glaring spotlight with his skinny knees pulsating rapidly up and down in panic.

He also did this dance number with his classmates:

Yes, I notice he is a whole head taller than the elementary age kids. Granted, it's time to transition him to the Adolescent Program upstairs. Clearly, he has the initiative of Aesop's fabled hare. Anyone can see how much loves the limelight! Not to mention, he can bust a dance move like none other. (Do I need to tell you he is the one on the far right?)

A spiritual point worth making struck me later that day. As I drove back to our "home district," it was dismissal time at the local elementary school. What a contrast to the footage I was excitedly viewing on my digital camera at a red light (living dangerously, I know). A host of schoolchildren congregated on the unprotected sidewalk of a busy artery waiting for two crossing guards to escort them 3 blocks safely under a freeway to residential streets beyond. The ratio had to be 40:2 at least.

I nearly gasped imagining Reid in that crowd with the inherent dangers of his impulsivity and sensory issues. What a "new normal" we have carved out for ourselves. Never could he exist, let alone thrive, in that size crowd.

Did you notice the ratio of adults (in the back row of the video clip) to students in the little troupe? With your trained eye, you probably recognize them as classroom aides. They are close at hand should anything go awry. It never does; for their mere presence ensures the kids' best behavior.

A reasonable assumption at Reid's school is that every student has significant behavioral challenges. Pleasantly surprised by their competence, my husband and I actually whispered in wonderment during the show. It's none of our business, but tempting nonetheless, to armchair diagnose his classmates. For this hour of time, it was hard to tell. Rest assured though, they are there with good cause and at large expense.

Classes are typically a 3:1 ratio with ancillary staff circulating as "problem solvers" on call and close at hand if required to intervene or enforce. Ever so gradually, they wean the kids off the dependence of the shadow aide they may have had in their referring school. Progress is measured by independence, self-control and functioning in a larger group.

What also impresses me (reviewing the video) is how little the aides actually do. Really they just stand there making their jobs look easy and planning to be obsolete. No verbal prompts, not much physical maneuvering, no big sticks, no PECS cards, no modeling hand motions, no hand-over-hand.

This is an illusion. The reality is they have worked strenuous, painstaking hours to get to this point. They've established their authority, consistency and expectations elsewhere. By May at the Talent Show, it is their presence alone that reinforces desired actions and appropriate behavior. Tenuous, but certain success.

Jesus was with us for just a little while on earth. He performed miracles and invested arduous hours in sandals teaching on the road. Then it was time for Him to leave. Now, even while He mysteriously lives in our hearts, it is largely dependent on us to tune into His presence. When I enter into His presence, I sense Him behind me, next to me, with me, leading me. That awareness keeps me on my toes behaviorally. Knowing He is close, elevates my thinking and aspirations. He holds me accountable silently without force. Just by being there.

What does being in God's presence mean to you? Would you leave it in a comment....

Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present... 1 Corinthians 5:2-4

For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Colossians 2:4-6

God said, "Don't come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You're standing on holy ground." Exodus 3:4-6

Thursday, May 28, 2009

God is Incredibly Concise (and could blog)

I was miffed, to be honest, when my Beth Moore junkies wanted to break for the summer. Rats! What about me? How will I function without the accountability of facilitating and hosting the group? (The only time I vacuum is the night before they're due!)

Now I think I understand why. God had something else in mind for me. A summer prayer group based on Alex Aronis' "Developing Intimacy with God: An Eight-week Prayer Guide Based on Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises" caught my eye on the church website. Same day, 8 weeks, fit my time slot like a glove.

So this morning I rekindled an old love of meditative, contemplative, listening, centering prayer. Call it what you will, it frees me from the confines of my own sin, judging, and having the right answers in a Bible study. We sat in silence letting every niggling thought float by in the current of an imaginary river overhead. After 8 minutes or so, the leader led us to listen for God's answer to four questions about our basic wants and needs. Somewhere between those single-word responses came this poem.

While I admire the gift of sparse and succinct communication, I am certain I've not written poetry since 3rd grade! One of my favorite non-autism-genre bloggers is Abraham Piper at 22 Words. Every single day, he poetically conveys content on a myriad of theological and literary points. Each post is 22 words which puts a cool parameter on his design.

Personally, I err on the side of amplification, rephrasing, and overuse of synonyms! How I love words. The only blogger I know with longer posts than mine is Beth Moore herself! Limiting myself to less than 100 words would take either a great deal of discipline or divine intervention.

Today, I had a smidge of both: the discipline to clear away extraneous thoughts and an experience with the one, true, and truly concise, God.

What does this have to do with autism? You decide...or better yet, ask God.

From Still to Know






silt sinking into bedrock


Do you have a summer study?

I beg you to click on "comments" below the scripture.

"Be still, and know,
that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:9-11

" 'Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.
Ezekiel 19:9-11

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:24-26

photo credit:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

"Erasing Autism," is the title of the article in Newsweek. The illustration jars my spirit. It would be wrong to cut Reid out of our family portrait. The ultimate exclusion. Equally wrong to eliminate him from the church body or society at large. Kudos to Ari Ne'eman for having the courage to stand up in Washington and defend neurodiversity.

Since they were born, I have felt my utmost purpose as a mother is to assure both my kids that their lives are on purpose and their position in our family is secure. Adoption has heightened that goal in my mind as much as (or more than) autism.

This article comes on the heels of NPR, Time and GQ reviews of Karl Taro Greenfield's book, Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir, about his brother Noah who is now, in fact, a man alone with aging parents and a brother who will not necessarily be his keeper. While I admire Greenfield's honesty and empathize with his circumstance, I am saddened by the bitterness, resentment and cruelty in his voice. As a mom, I hope to model and instill values that will dictate a different prerogative in my daughter's life as a sibling.

This double assault to my sensibility is a stark contrast to where my mind dwells. It reminds me of a huge victory my daughter scored over the Enemy last summer when she proclaimed God's sovereignty in designing our family.

Arguably, Allie has withstood the most potentially damaging impact of Reid's autism. The demands of his behavior and intervention could certainly be breeding grounds for resentment, perceived neglect, and anger. She would have every earthly "right" to object and could have the most to gain by erasing Reid from the proverbial family album. Oddly, ironically, fortunately, wisely, she does not desire that. Like Ari Ne'eman, the Aspie in the Newsweek article, she is close enough to the reality to be an informed expert witness. She also has absorbed enough of God's truth from the Bible that it is the plumb line for her attitude toward her brother.

Last summer, we found a winning solution to the recurrent and age-old question of how to vacation with extended family. My generous, peace-loving mother rented us our very own place a mile or so away from her vacation home. In her words, "it was the best visit we'd had in 14 years." Not being under the same roof turned out to be a key to enjoying a week together. There was no comparison between her model home "Moor the Merrier" and our "Duck Inn" on the Isle of Nantucket. To each his own. Truth be told, we preferred the sunken sandy threshold and indestructible nature of the Duck to her pristine white slipcovers and fine bone china collector appointments. Can you say, damage control?

We enjoyed lots of different pairings of cousins and aunts without the tension of sharing bathrooms and sleep patterns. My mom claimed one night to herself with Allie--an intentional effort to compensate. Woohoo! Fancy schmancy time alone with grandma to shop in Nantucket town and sleep at the big house under 500 thread count cotton sheets. Score! Reid stayed behind with us in the beater, low-rent, rental shack we'd pragmatically chosen. There was a wistfulness to their departure, recalling what might have been, reckoning what is "normal" and even wishing life were different. We all felt it.

That night, as Allie scampered off excitedly for their girls night out, she remembered she had not said goodbye to Reid. She asked my mom if she could go back in to do so.

My faithful mother has experienced her own loss in regard to Reid's autism and our family's reality. When Allie rejoined her in the car she couldn't help but notice, "Oh, Allie, you really love Reid don't you." Allie said, "Oh, yes I do. He has come so far. I used to wish Reid didn't have autism but now I am glad he does because I have learned so much. I am much more patient than I would be otherwise and life would have been so boring. I wouldn't be who I am if it weren't for Reid." Further discussion about the fruits of the Holy Spirit ensued. Without any hesitation, my meek, sage, spirit-filled Allie, had edified the moment and "taken her thoughts captive and made them obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:3-5

We learn from children. I learn from Allie. According to the Bible, the Kingdom of God belongs to such as them. Allie's perspective even on adult issues, is an example to us. If the ultimate spiritual rebellion is to think we can make decisions that belong to God alone, then the converse is what I'll strive for instead. The ultimate spiritual obedience is to accept from the hand of God all that He allows in our lives.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus Philippians 2:4-6

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:11-13

"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:15-16

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We Did It!

What a day! What an hour! What a group! Six mothers in the San Diego area, acquainted through their children's autism, congregated at the beach. Inspired by Autism File magazine's example and challenge, we each grabbed a friend in order to stage a photo shoot in our city.

Along with hundreds of moms around the world, we were psyched to celebrate and document our camaraderie, triumph over adversity, strength in numbers, love that moves mountains, and our kids abilities and accomplishments.

Have you ever met a new friend who was not a stranger? Among the six of us, many were meeting for the first (or second) time. No matter. Our invisible tattoos matched! All of us had made similar choices, seen beauty in the same light, endured related pangs, been patient for healing, and bear the same badge with pride. Without much explicit sharing or rolling up of any sleeves, we knew each other's life stories--in large part. Amazingly, as the photos illustrate, we left the beach having formed a sisterhood. Women are amazing creatures. And adversity is an amazing bonding agent. Autism is like Krazy Glue.

Look with me through the 3-D super sonic, invisible, tattoo-seeing, infrared glasses to appreciate that one of these women has been widowed for more than a decade, one lives in chronic pain, two have two boys on the spectrum, one has a son in a group home, three have homeschooled, one currently homeschools, one has a daughter on the spectrum, one is in the military, and one adopted twins (ok that one's easy). What I love about the video is the joy that shines through it all like the sun through our San Diego marine layer in the morning along the coast. It's as if the friction of life has caused the glow of each soul to burn brighter.

Autism mums can be a diverse lot. Some are angry, some are militant, some are bitter, some are divorced, some depressed. And yet, some glow. This group of women amazed me as, unbeknownst to even us, we sounded a common chord last Sunday: we don't want pity; we are so blessed; we want to stand up and be counted. As if after a good stair work-out (I've heard), we are pumped with endorphins saying, Feel the burn!

A friend loves at all times, and a (sister) is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:16-18

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:7-9

They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:9-10

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That Didn't Just Happen!

Last month, I gave a talk to the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group that meets at our church. Their theme for the year is "Adventures in Mothering." It immediately seemed destined that I say yes, since we had titled our adoption letter "Adventures with Andy and Jim" 15 years prior. Certainly, adventure is something we claimed to seek out. As it happens, it seeks us out too! The A-words seem to cling to me like dog hair on velour: autism, adoption, adventure, awkward. (Hoping Alzheimer's won't be next.)

I was given the topic, "Raising a Special Needs Child" and asked to liken it to a particular theme park ride. A roller coaster came instantly to mind. As God would have it, my talk to these young moms, centered as much on God's Timelessness and Providence as it did on autism.

Babbie Mason swooning Timeless, sums it up musically. Scroll down here if you want to hear a clip of her great song and voice. For 99 cents, it could be the best deal on Amazon.

Coincidences aren't really chance at all. Rather, they are signposts of God at work "orchestrating a holy-set up to speak to us" as Beth Moore says. He sustains and guides human destiny because He loves us (and because He can). Any and every circumstance--infertility, adoption, autism, illness--works together for good, across the barriers of time to accomplish His purposes.
I reflected on the verses that had guided me through infertility, then took on new meaning in hindsight. Verses like John 9:1-3 which I first interpreted as, "Why am I infertile?"...and then again later, "why does Reid have autism?" Serendipitous, how we chose a verse like "immensely more than you can ask or imagine" for our adoption appeal letter not knowing how literally God would answer it giving us two babies not one! Uncanny, how God led us to choose a verse in the past knowing what it would mean to us in the future.

I built my premise on Ephesians 3:20 that God operates in a 4th dimension. In addition to height, length, and width, He has time at His disposal. The whole talk is about 40 minutes so I'll be excerpting her in print for some time.

Here's the clincher. Nervous and excited about public speaking, I arrived plenty early to acclimate to the large multi-purpose room where MOPS meet. At their sign-in table along with the name tags were directories for the year. Guess what was on the cover? A roller coaster and the Ephesians 3:20 verse! Who knew?
You got it! Not only does He know, He loves each of us enough to make our day. I love how He loves us with mini-miracles (as my mom calls them) like that...deploying His infinite power over timing and providence in finite details to demonstrate His immense love for us.

Has God made your day lately? How?

And I pray that you...grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge Ephesians 3:17-19

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory
Ephesians 3:20

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. John 9:1-3

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Moms (Open Mic) Night Out

What did you do for Mother's Day? When Jim asked me how I wanted to celebrate the day, I took it as a round tuit to do something I've been meaning to experience for awhile: Open Mic Night at the nearby E Street Cafe. Rallying the troops for such an off-beat adventure on a Sunday night is ordinarily difficult; on Mother's Day it was a shoo-in. Jim was thrilled to get off so easy. My wish was his command.

One thing you must know in advance:

Compliments of his new school, Reid has a thorough and effective Behavior Intervention Plan. One of the replacement behaviors they have taught him is to "move to a quiet area" (to replace throwing a shoe, running for a plate glass window, or biting your neighbor). Handy skill, well worth teaching. They've identified the antecedents to each of his maladaptive behaviors and itemized them for the benefit of all. During calm moments, Reid recites, writes, and is otherwise drilled on the five occurrences that warrant "moving to a quiet area" to pre-empt the meltdowns. The goal being for Reid to internalize these explicit triggers to his own agitation, take a minute away, and self-regulate eventually without even a prompt from the teacher. The plan is scientific, genius, and strategically comprehensive. His particular five reasons to move to a quiet area, which are committed to memory:

1. feeling silly

2. work is hard

3. others are loud

4. difficulty concentrating

5. difficulty communicating

I had several motives for getting to the Open Mic Night. Re-living my college days was not one of them--although that was a perk. (The vibe was reminiscent of The Rathskeller at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Student Union.) Rather, it seemed to be a relatively low frills, low cost night out for the whole family (ie. engaging everyone's interest). In addition, I am currently on the look-out for places to take Reid and his fellow Kingsmen band members to socialize (move beyond bowling), expose them to other performers, and scout out possible performance venues. Before I invited all four of the teens, I figured I better see whether censorship would be required.

We had a relaxed, lovely family "date" for less than $20 in just over an hour. No dirty jokes were delivered. Two guys who looked like twins in white t-shirts and jeans (note to self: this is what cool guys wear) played original, acoustic songs they'd written in the style of Jack Johnson or James Taylor. Reid enjoyed them, adding a little percussion by beating on our belly bar table and the one next to us. Although we tried to discourage him from getting up and actually dancing, once we received the warm smile from a 20-something, female patron bored with her computer, we relaxed into the scene. Most folks were engaged primarily with their laptops. The poor JT-wannabes were providing ambience at most. Reid was, in fact, flattering them with his rapt attention and adding to the entertainment value.

The third contestant was "Big Eddie." The cafe owner introduced him awkwardly, "Do you really want me to call you, Big Eddie?" Eddie was merely paunchy, a 70's boomer with an electric guitar and rhythm track to back him up.

He gave a shout out to Reid having eyeballed him in the smallish crowd, "Hey I need a drummer, if you're interested," and invited others to "shake your bootie if you want to." Reid got back on his feet (a notable moment of compliance) and poised his legs like a hoofer in an audition for Chorus Line. Now he had permission to tap his feet alternately right and left, and snap tap his fingers! Gotta love natural inclusion opportunities!! Big Eddie was cool with me.

He interspersed a few lyrics he'd written between lengthy guitar solos. A total departure from the other two, Big Eddie was more of an Eddie Van Halen wannabe. I wondered where his wife and kids were. They would have been identifiable in the intimate audience. During the fifth guitar solo, Jim commented, "This is why I sold my amp and electric guitar." Not Big Eddie. He's stickin' with it! A rocker for life.

After his third song, "Cosmic Love," we called it a night and headed home. Sunday is a school night. Very amusing, good clean fun, a peanut butter cookie and a tasty macchiato made for a happy camper van headed home on Mother's Day.

The punch line is this: at bedtime as we were tucking Reid in, reflecting on the novelty of the evening, openly laughing at the memory, Reid chimed in, "I think Big Eddie needs to move to a quiet area."

The high-level cognitive function that goes into a comment like that was not lost on me. It was a special treat to hear evidence that he has generalized his behavior plan, not only into our home environment but also projected it onto others in coffee houses. The comment attested to his sense of humor, ability to track and process the conversation, and put himself into others' shoes. Big Eddie was "being silly." Or was he?

They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute. Job 21:11-13

A word aptly spoken
is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 25:10-12

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.
Mark 6:46-48

Monday, May 11, 2009

Everyday is Mother's Day

Anita Renfroe, a stay-at-home mom turned youtube phe-mom-enon, captures one facet of motherhood that does seem to be universal: our tendency to remind with cliche comments. Judging from the erupting ovation at the end, everyone can relate to her tongue-twisting litany of phrases that our mothers used, that even we are tired of saying but are somehow unavoidable. Certainly, our family must have tuned them out in daily use!

Imagine for a moment how often and by how many different support people, our kids with autism are subjected to these and more "helpful" reminders. Is it any wonder so many of them develop aggressive tendencies as well? It must be a torture akin to hearing the William Tell Overture ringing repeatedly in your eardrums throughout your waking hours. For each of your IEP goals, to be prompted by every therapist, aide, and case manager who hovers over your shoulder, "what do you say?" "use your words," "hands by your side," "quiet hands," "regular voice," "no talking," "personal space," "do it the fast way," "how do you ask?" One begins to see the benefits of sign language and hand signals very quickly. Or PECS. Spare me the constant drip, drip, drip.

Let's get 'em all out there! What phrase has become a noisy gong at your house lately?

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; Proverbs 27:14-16

I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 2 Peter 1:12-14

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Best Title in the World

For most of my childhood and early adult life, my primary aspiration was to be a mother. Still, after all the mellowing that age, reality and experience has accomplished, being a mom remains the title of which I am most proud. Maybe that is why this Autism File project appeals to me so much. As soon as I received it from Jeneil at Rhema's Hope, I got on the line, as it were, to organize a shoot here in San Diego. Oh Lord, "I want to be in that number!! When the saints go marching in..." was my theme song that day.

Maybe it's because of the campaign's edge. It's more Helen Reddy than Hallmark. It doesn't sugar-coat motherhood when autism is involved. As lovely and feminine as these women are, behind each one is a story of struggle, sorrow, hard work, loss, small victories and endless hope. The undefined yet undeniable details of their story make them all the more beautiful. To those of us in the same boat, the camaraderie is palpable. Proclaiming our reality focuses our force, strengthens our activism, magnifies our moxie, and generates gratitude for guts and grit.

The sermon this morning resonated with a related truth. Using the story of Ruth and Naomi as the springboard, our pastor pointed out that sorrow can form our deepest relationships. Both women are widowed, penniless, and destitute. Sharing this struggle bonded them more than any family parties or good times they'd ever had. How true. This would explain why I feel such kinship with each face and every far corner of the earth on this video. Women I've never had coffee with, never walked with, never partied with, but who I feel I know at a deep level.

Of course, the end of the story is that God blesses Ruth's faithfulness (to Him and her mother-in-law Naomi), with another husband, and a child who gives her place in the lineage of King David and Jesus of Nazareth. Not bad for a family that almost ended completely with 2 homeless beggar women!

I pray He will do the same for each of you "autism mothers" reading this. May God bless your faithfulness to Him and your family for generations to come.

Now, when are you taking a portrait in your 'hood?

Do a favor and win a friend forever; nothing can untie that bond.
Proverbs 18:18-20 The Message

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
Romans 12:10-12 The Message

God reward you well for what you've done—and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you've come seeking protection under his wings.
Ruth 2:10-12

Monday, May 4, 2009

Even Netflix has its limits

Some will recall my saga of perpetually lost and found library privileges. Netflix recently revoked our privileges too...or shall I say, "put our account on hold?" Stifled by the stagnation of red envelopes to our mailbox, I called to inquire "pourquoi?" The agent informed me that there is a 6 disk limit per year on "claimed lost" disks. Apparently, they were counting and we'd reached that. (This is why I don't borrow movies from friends-- far too risky.) The customer service agent on the line asked, "Do you know how this happened?" "Oh, girlfriend," I was tempted to ask her, "how long is your shift?"

Here's a lesson in awareness, now that April (and Autism Awareness Month) is over: not everyone needs to know the whole story. I opted for the "play it dumb" approach and was most thankful that she had the authority and grace to reinstate our account. We'll try harder, this time.

What really bothered me, more than their tallying our delinquency was that they didn't inform me we were out of favor. Did they figure I was counting how many disks were scratched beyond repair, returned in an open envelope only to slip into oblivion, dropped into the storm sewer or eaten by the dog? Were they going to send me a pink slip? Apparently not. As forgiving as they are (Netflix was founded when Reed Hastings got fed up with Blockbuster late fees), they do have limits. And not surprisingly, we reached them. I just wish they would have told me that my time was up! Instead they cut me off and waited for me to call and beg for reinstatement.

No one has more mercy than God the Father. Throughout time He has had mercy on wayward humanity, through the Fall, the Flood, the Cross, and one day the Rapture. Yet, certainly in His perfect justice there are also limits. Does He tell us when we've reached them? Send a pink slip in the mail? A bolt of lightning to straighten us up? Or is it up to us to log in and check our status, place a call, prostrate ourselves, return to the prayer closet, fess up?

Maybe sometimes He does announce our status to us. For me right now though, He doesn't have to. I've been counting. It's been more than 6 dyas since I had a bonafide prayer time. He knows that I know, that He knows, that I have been out of touch. The onus is on me to simply make the prayer time, prioritize the Bible study, and care to share.

Sara Groves has a great song, "How Is It Between Us?" that describes the ennui I've been feeling for the last couple weeks. My study circle concluded for summer and although we met to celebrate Purim (as the climax of Esther) and watch One Night with the King, we are "out of the Word," so to speak. That means I am out of the daily disciplines of prayer and study that change the course of my day and enlighten my outlook. God knows it; I know it; now you know it. Amazing the power of accountability and the weakness of our flesh. More amazing is the power in those habits.

He is there waiting, I know, with a fresh word if I would just open it. A new infilling if I would take time to bow. How many days does it take you to notice the stagnation of your spirit...and dial up to complain, "Where are my movies!" "Where's the fruit?"

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

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:7-9

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-6