Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm no Bill Gates!

Melinda and Bill Gates just published a list of five impactful charities for holiday giving.  It's a great list. I admire their pledge to give away the majority of their wealth in their lifetime. Afterall, 1 Tim. 6:7 is pretty clear, "we have brought nothing into the world, and so we cannot take anything out of it."

My list is shorter than theirs. Nonetheless, I'm inspired to share what 2 fabulous nonprofits are doing. I am intimately involved in the leadership of both. They fill a void in San Diego county where 18% of the population live with disability.

Will you consider a gift to Banding Together or Capernaum this season?  If you do, I will match whatever you give. Drrrum rrrrollll please......

Banding Together has a mission to create music therapy experiences for youth with special needs.  Click "Donate" to give.

This fall Banding Together launched a series of 6 Jam Sessions funded by a pilot study grant. We pair typical peer mentors with 15 teens with special needs.  Together they jam the night away with a local musician. The guest artists have found it "incredibly uplifting" reporting that "differences were erased and we were simply a group of musicians immersed in song."  Take a peek at the joy generated by this potent combination of music and friendship.  Your gift would allow us to sustain these Jam Sessions and add a second location.  $333 covers one Jam Session.

Young Life Capernaum has a mission to introduce every adolescent to Christ. Click "Give" for online giving.

After two years in San Diego, Capernaum boasts bi-weekly Clubs in two locations where teens with special needs experience relationship and fun.  One mom said, "this is the only social event we've tried that my son wants to come back to."  Two new part-time staff assist our Area Director training and discipling more than 20 volunteer leaders as they serve teens. Your gift would help fund these new staff members.  Or $555 sends someone to summer camp! Often it's their first overnight experience and each camper gets a one-on-one leader.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No more yippers?!

He earned it!  It took two days but, good things come to those who stay on task, complete their work at school and don't display aggression.  Victorious, off we went from voice lessons to Chevy's, our favorite, sit-down, local Mexican joint.  Well, definitely top 3.

We pulled up to a familiar parking spot in the shopping center less than a mile from home that is "open for our convenience" during a massive renovation.  I noticed the "Fresh Mex" signage had been removed to reveal a definite need for paint.  Must be part of the improvements.  Up we skipped, Reid anticipating trying something new, the Fresh Mex pizza he saw on the menu last time.  "What do you think they put on it...beans?...jalapenos...," we mused.

As he bounded toward the double doors to procure a table for two, I squinted in puzzlement to see the familiar hostess carrying wall hangings out of the foyer.  Security guards helped her rather than waiters.  Eh? Shock. Dismay. A sign. Closed? For good? You've got to be kidding. Why was I not informed? We have a problem Houston.  Start explaining, slowly. Poor Reid. He's been following this kiddie meal around like a carrot on a stick for the last 48 hours. Prepare for meltdown.  All these thoughts ran through my mind, lightning-fast.

Fortunately, my reactions were his reactions. So, with genuine surprise I bombarded the poor catering manager with all our questions. She knows us from countless incidents, I mean visits. In short order, her head was on Reid's shoulder acting out her grief and loss at the fact that we might not be seeing her again.  He was giggling and laughing in emotional overflow and confusion.  The security guard entered in to the impromptu lovefest, handing me coupons to their sister restaurant some miles away. (Like we're gonna drive there.)

Chevy's was the place. Since the kids could only toddle, we've had birthdays there. And weekday bail-out dinners, and after school rewards, and welcomed entourages of out of town guests for their first indoctrination to Mexican food. A flood of memories ensued. The yippers, we called them--waiters with sombreros--singing "Happy Happy Birthday from all of us to you!" No more yippers? Oh this is hard to bear.

In fiesta formation, they'd approach a table shouting loudly, "YIP YIP YIp Yip YIP Yip Yip!" donning the birthday celebrant with a souvenir sombrero.  It was a definite obstacle when Reid was little with such hypersensitivity. I remember times he wouldn't enter unless we could assure him it was no one's birthday.  "No yippers, tonight? Are you sure?" he'd ask in sheer dread at the door.  We'd tell the waiters to whisper-sing his yips and give us plenty of notice if it was our special day.  He couldn't eat, ears covered, eyes wide, waiting until they'd come, yipped, and gone. Oh, memories...and how far we've come.

We regrouped through the dialogue and reminiscing.  Reid processed the news quickly maintaining his top-of-the-world attitude.  He interjected a few choice gems, some more apropo than others as we hesitated to make the final parting.  "You look like Whoopi Goldberg," he told this sweet woman likely looking for a new job now.  I glossed over that one.

"This is my low point, ma'am.  My highpoint was earning Chevy's.  My lowpoint is Chevy's being closed. I'm gonna write this in my journal."

And with not much breathing space in between, "Mom, where should we go? I know, Rubio's! How bought that...since Chevy's is closed."  Resilience, I tell you. Reid is nothing if not resilient.

I gave him a free upgrade and we headed to Las Olas, another of the many Mexican haunts in our town.  "Great idea mom."

Off we went, smiling and joyful. The best was yet to come though.  And this is true for each of us.  Have you noticed that God is constantly changing things up?  Moving us into new territory, into new covenants, out of slavery, into promised lands.  If we'll go.  Do we shift willingly when one door closes?  This is a season of change for us. Allie's in college; we're at a new church; many of my friends are going back to work as their nests empty; Reid's at a new school, with new electives and clubs and people.  To make progress will always require change. He's my role model for embracing it.

We parked in Las Olas' landmark dirt lot by the ducks. It was still an early dinner, early enough that the hostess was not at her stand yet. Reid didn't need her. "We're here!" he sang out to the unsuspecting bartender. "Chevy's is closed so we came to here," he projected loud enough for the men at the bar to hear. As if to imply how lucky they were and display his best singing projection.

The meal proceeded like I was sitting with a Chatty Cathy doll and someone pulling a string on his back to keep it going.  It was one of those glimpses of potential that still lurks beneath the surface.  Each time a new layer is removed it can be washed ashore when the tide is right.

If Jim had been there, he would've agreed, "he's firing on all cylinders tonight."  Everything about the conversation and sequencing was above average...even the volume just a smidge.

"MMmmmm this burrito is good.  Thank you!" to the waitress.

"Isn't she friendly?" as she turned to get our drinks.

"This is the best burrito.  I'll wait til you pay the check now."

"Lets go home and read Oliver in the family room."

On and on his running monologue revealed awareness, appreciation, and ability. All I could do was smile, laugh out loud amazed and try to keep up with the banter.

Sing it with me in your loudest voice: "I'm here, LORD. Wherever you wanna go next."

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:18

The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning...  Job 42:11-13

And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new.”  Revelation 21:4-6

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peace and Order in the Court

I don't think conserving your child (or 18 year old, as it were) is a milestone anyone spends time anticipating.  Little girls playing house don't set up mock courthouses with pretend swinging bars to pass through.  Or rehearse stating their name as petitioner for their babydolls.  New brides don't fantasize about raising towhead kids and then limiting their rights when they reach the age of majority.

Nonetheless, love protects.  And that is what we did today--by both definitions: 1. Protect from harm or destruction 2. Prevent wasteful or harmful overuse of in our case, a person, our precious red head.  I took comfort in knowing that even if I never expected it, God had so ordered this day before Reid or I were even conceived in our mother's wombs. If the Lord willed it then I could submit to it as His good and loving plan.  

Not unlike organizing everyone for a family photo shoot, there were nerves, a few hasty words in the last minute rush, scrambling for quarters to plug the meter, and a quick text to a friend for prayer coverage. Reid's court appointed attorney had prepped me for an expensive downtown parking lot, airport security, stern bailiffs, and all the drudgery of the DMV.  I think we were her first case of this kind.  Turns out it was quite pleasant. 

the scripture bangle took on new meaning
We found curbside parking right in front of the building. I did set off the metal detector but, one glance at my silver bangles and the friendly guard waved us through.  

"Do we take this elevator sir?" Reid was en pointe reaching his personal pinnacle of politeness. A helpful woman who seemed to know her way around surmised our objective and likely heard my pep talk on the street.  Sharing the elevator, she clarified any confusion, "you want the 5th floor, Judge Koleti's court is the one on the left."  Perfect.  

The doors opened and there was a familiar face, Leanne our Regional Center case worker. "Hi Reid.  Are you ready?"  This woman is a crackerjack. She gives comfort to many families at many points in time. She knows the ropes. I instructed Reid, "Follow Leanne...she's done this before." I was close on his heels, and hers.

We entered a hushed courtroom that looked like a stage set for a television show.  Pristine carpet, new furnishings, everyone in position.  Reid scurried into the back row and read aloud a sign posted in several places, "No talking when court is in session.' Those are the rules, Mom."  Right.  Shhhh.  "Take pictures," I quipped to Jim.

Our fortuitous timing meant as soon as we caught our collective breath, the bailiff was announcing the entrance of the judge. "Everyone be seated, please." It was quite dramatic. "Mom, what do I say...I want mom and dad to...what is it again?" Reid whispered to me. The pressure was on to remember his lines.  "Don't worry bud, just answer her questions," I was relaxed now.  "Watch how they do it," I suggested as a Hispanic couple stepped forward pushing their daughter in a wheelchair.  

Pretty straightforward. The kind judge, silent stenographer and hidden clerk were certainly human.  Reid stood up wanting to switch seats with me and be next to Leanne.  No biggie, but the bailiff noticed the movement.  And smiled;)  Ought oh. He came through the gate approaching us.  "What number are you?" Leanne must've held up 3 fingers. "We'll take you next," he said cooly. Score! Now we're #2!!

Into the swinging bar we slipped.  Reid and I took the two cushy swivel chairs. He sat criss cross applesauce in his but didn't spin it. Jim squatted behind us. Reid positioned his mouth right near the state of the art, desktop microphone poised to answer appropriately...then waited.

Eventually the judge who must surely be a mom, addressed him. "Reid, we are proposing that mom and dad continue to take care of you and be the ones to handle your money and talk to the school and the doctor."  His head nodded along.  "Is that okay with you?" 

He delivered his line clearly, on cue and right into the mic. "Yes, that is okay with me." Everyone grinned. I don't think he tries to be cute.  He can't help it.  We beamed with pride. And the blessing of more time to learn from his childlikeness.

We processed out through the bar that Reid held open for us just as the bailiff had on the way in. At ease once in the hallway, amidst the accolades of good job and attaboy out popped, "Reid, I thought you were gonna sing her 'Shine!" Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

...for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  James 4:14-15

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:6-8

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Up on the Roof

Monday September 24th was a picture of answered prayer.  Our second annual Rooftop Soiree fundraiser for San Diego Capernaum was actually a first. Remember the blackout?

Nick Duellman Photography
Seventy or so (not to over spiritualize but that was the number of disciples sent out two by two in Luke 10) gathered on a gritty rooftop of the 10th Avenue Theater and Arts building to celebrate two years of this relational ministry to teens with special needs.  Many were friends of friends learning about it for the first time.  I felt like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins having a moment on the rooftops of London astounded to see, "It's all me pals!"

My bit part in the program was to make sure no one missed the symbolism of being on the roof. Here we stood overlooking our coastal city with seagulls eyeing the buffet.  It was as easy as popping into a chalk pavement picture to close your eyes and be transported back to the first century town of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Easier yet to glance over at the painting Joel Anderson did for us.

"Capernaum" by Joel Anderson"
Jesus passed through Capernaum often drawing a crowd every time.  On one occasion he healed a man with a disability.  What's more, he forgave his sins.  Why this man?  He says it was because of the faith of his friends--not his own.  Those four friends did whatever it took to get him to Jesus.  The went to great lengths lifting his stretcher to a rooftop, peeling back tiles and lowering him right in front of Jesus' makeshift podium.

Our Capernaum leaders are those stretcher bearers. They believe.  They make a way. They want their friends to meet Jesus. They take them to Him.  Their faith makes a difference.
Nick Duellman Photography
I read from Mark 2 though its also in Luke 5. The morning after, various amplifications and ways to personalize it kept occurring to me.   Today's paralytic is the autistic. With more than 1 in 90 boys being diagnosed, we all know its the single largest disability represented in special ed classes.  True, most of our Club attenders are on the spectrum with a few Down syndrome sprinkled in and nary a wheelchair in sight. Makes me wonder if those faithful friends from Scripture might have taken their autistic friend in another entrance to avoid the noise of the crowd and the sensory bombardment of wall to wall people in a tight mid-eastern mud home?  There out of the fray, they could sit with him, peel back a few rooftiles to relieve the frustration and then, only then, absorb everything about Jesus.

Joel is an accomplished artist and autism advocate.  He doesn't always make it to Club because it can be loud.  Nonetheless, Joel is more than comfortable behind the video camera.  He expertly filmed our first Talent Show. Tobias Haglund, our San Diego Area Director, makes has invested in a friendship with Joel.  Dressed as pirates they attended a medieval dinner because Joel loves that. Like the faithful friends on the roof, Tobias steps outside the box to say "yes" to relate to Joel. Together they sit at Jesus' feet.

Tobias Haglund sums it up
Tobias spoke my favorite thing of the night. This young man after God's heart shared, "what I love most about Young Life is that it's incarnational ministry." Meaning...Jesus (fully God) became a man and moved into the neighborhood of earth to walk among us.  "In the same way Young Life leaders move into the lives of teens to meet not special needs but basic needs." 

The Rooftop Soiree felt like a block party to me, on a street that just had a cul de sac added. A lot of folks who remind me of Jesus moved in and real estate values went up!  Now everyone wants to live there...'cuz its the best street in town;)

Is there a Capernaum Club near you?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In His presence

Being in the presence of the is that possible this side of heaven? What happens when we are in His presence?  Who can survive it?  How do we enter?

Not all of us get to visit heaven and return like little 4 year old Colton Burpo did. Moses radiated after being the presence of the Lord.  Another time he had to be protected in the cleft of a rock as the glory passed in front of Him lest He die.  I've got it on good authority that the God who saves us also wants to be our friend and share secrets with us. This means more than liking His status.  It requires a face to face.

Entering the presence of the Lord only happens intentionally.  "No one who lives in this world is a friend of God accidentally," writes Beth Moore.  Beyond talking about it as something does one get there?

Once again, Reid ends up being my teacher.  We went to a worship service Monday night that was outside our usual paradigm of church.  It was in a church, but there was no program, no end time, and no song lyrics.  There was worship--very expressive worship--including dancing, banners, and almost all eyes closed.  As soon as the band began, Reid knew what to do.  Innately, he was behaving appropriately doing things we haven't really modeled or taught him.

"Yes Jesus!" came out of his mouth between songs. "Hallelujah!" after another.  Our roles reversed as he put his finger over my lips to shush me between songs.  "They don't clap between songs here, mom," he instructed. Always nice to have social norms explained in a matter of fact tone. I just can't remember when I was the one needing that.  Seated between Jim and me, (our customary containment strategy) Reid must've flashed Jim the LOVE handsign half a dozen times.  As if to say, "Thank you for bringing me here and being here with me." Everything about his body language said, "I am in my element." He stood up whenever he was inclined and it wasn't out of place.  He reached for the heavens and no one wondered what he was doing. He pogo jumped up and down in utter joy and I wanted to join him.

As we concluded a soaking chorus of "Holy Spirit you are welcome here" he blurted out, "That was a good song mom." Those around us grinned ear to ear in agreement. Later, he whispered enthusiastically, "MOM, it's like when Tobias comes." I took this to mean they worship in spirit and in truth during their hour together on Tuesdays.  It must feel the same to him; not a performance but humbly entering the presence of the Lord and experiencing peace. At another sweet spot, he leaned into me putting his head not so much on my shoulder as near my heart in lil' boy love. I couldda melted right there.  It's all been worth it. This boy-man is charismatic in every sense of the word.  In the spirit, there is nothing autistic about him. Jim and I were the ones appearing a tad out of sync.

After Dr. Joe Ozawa shared a stirring and straightforward testimony, people were invited forward for prayers of healing.  One might have mistaken this as the crux of the evening.  Results-oriented me, always looking for a sign or wonder, will admit to being disappointed that my hungry husband wanted to go home and eat. It was 9:00 after all. Reid was the first one to the car walking taller and more confidently than ever.  "Don't you want to go up for prayer Reid?  Come on..." I urged.  "No, Mom. You and Dad go. I'll wait in the car."  He'd already put his arms wide around both of us giving our outside shoulders a little push when the last call was given for anyone else to come forward.

By then, Reid had gotten what he needed.  The meat of the program for him was entering the presence of the Lord.  At once dramatic and subtle, that mysterious reality was undeniable.

Revisiting one of the songs this morning (below) I am compassionate with myself.  It's not easy to "let go of your heart...let go of your head" as the lyrics prompt, after years of hypervigilant monitoring and constant commentary, which is how Reid and I have navigated this natural world for 18 years.  Almost everything requires a directive, explanation, or advance notice. I have my guard up for street crossing, video displays, and any number of other enticing traps both literal and figurative.  Ready all the time...for anything.  Like I'm in the presence of an enemy. And we are. I need to watch my back. I am the designated driver and responsible adult for myself and another who is vulnerable and less aware.  Or is he?

So I find myself face down, eyes closed, putting concerted effort into intimacy with God. For me, it's easier when I'm alone. No one needs a meal, homework help or a prescription filled. No one's watching. I don't have anywhere I need to be in an hour. Music takes me there. I carve out the time and take the first step. You know what appears?

An image floats into my mind's's me sitting on a loveseat contained with Jesus. This time I'm in Reid's head leaning in...not so much on His shoulder as close to His heart...silently with words unspoken...I sense love and trust and gratitude all rolled into one physical gesture of knowing and being known.

And something, if not everything, changes.

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  Jeremiah 33:3

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. Exodus 34:28-30 

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is ... the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.  1 Corinthians 2 :11-13

Friday, October 5, 2012

Testing 1...2...3

Got this new app allowing me to post remotely. What does this mean to you? More frequent posts, likely shorter in length with more typos. Lets give it a whirl.

The Kingsmen have a gig in the morning so maybe I can swing a photo of their soundcheck.

My grandmother turns 100 tomorrow too. Nana! In her lifetime she has seen the invention of the car, television, cell phone, and computer. I'll never forget the Christmas we gave her a microwave to which she replied with a characteristic guttural grunt,"UH what am I going to do with that?!" She got used to it and now uses it exclusively.

I still don't have a microwave Nana. Ugh ghastly things.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 17, 2012

Where's Reido?

We had a rare treat celebrating the Feast of Trumpets last night at Maranatha Chapel.  Jim, Reid and I ventured out in response to a last minute invitation on Facebook.  I was excited; Jim willing; Reid unsure.

Questions flew the whole way there. What church?  The big one where we saw Bethany Hamilton. What feast? The one where Jewish people ring in the new year.  Off we went adventurously.

Have I mentioned that we like routines?  For us, the third time's usually a charm.  Going to a new place requires vigilance, teamwork and often compromise.  Other times, spontaneity is the charm.  This was a divine appointment.

The right attitudes prevailed. We pulled up to the Southern California mega church early enough to find a parking spot in the far corner.  Nudging Jim at the sight of the surely well-stocked cafe bookstore, he caught my drift and threaded his way through rows of cars to a less tempting entrance. (Reid could spend the equivalent of two services browsing Veggie Tales videos.)  Herding him past the playground and childcare rooms with streaming positive reinforcement, we reached the sanctuary doors.  Despite my confident forging ahead with program in hand, Reid shrinked in retreat at the onslaught of energy exuding from the 3,000 seat capacity crowd.

Jim sweetly offered, "Go save a seat. We'll join you."  We do this tag team relay with hardly a word. "Turn your phone on."  Experience and timing make it possible with eye contact alone, maybe a charade code gesture.  We know the drill. He'll track Reid to the restroom and beyond as he acclimates to the new setting and hopefully, gradually, talk him into sitting with mom. Long story short and several texts later, they made it down to the third row on the far left where I was seated, right behind the makeshift dance floor for Israeli dancing.

Adjusting to the riotous worship and noise, Reid inched his way to my row in slow motion. The entire crowd of worshippers put their hands down and were seated to hear some announcements.  Mesmerized and still fearful of applause or some other eruption, he stepped cautiously into the pew and remained standing just in case he had to bolt for the foyer.  We didn't know a soul, except for the One we were all praising. The anonymity and heavenly diversity made it quite comfortable. A Jewish man in a suit, yarmulke and phylacteries pushed a double stroller back and forth; toddlers were up on parent's shoulders; a man in a wheelchair did 360's in the aisles; it was all good on this unusual night.

The usual pastor introduced a special guest, the "Singing Rabbi." Dressed in impressive regalia, he asked everyone to stand back up at the very moment Reid finally sat.  Stunned mostly. He was all in from that point forward. I can't even put into words the excitement.  Maybe that's why we danced!

Reid repeated key words, "Jews, Gentiles!" Laughed at appropriate places in Ray Bentley's quick summary of the history of Israel and their 7 feasts. Bentley explained how Jesus' death, burial and resurrection coincided exactly with the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. He outlined the fall feasts that foretell the the second coming merely whetting our appetite for more. Jim whispered to me, "that's the part I don't get." Will any of us ever know it all?  The layers of prophetic meaning and multi-sensory richness in the Hebraic traditions are like the Word of God itself.  One could mine it forever and still find mind-blowing treasure. The great news is that our participation in the party is not contingent on full comprehension. Reid was modeling that for us.

This dress rehearsal party anticipating the rapture continued outside on the patio with a Phil Wickham concert and all manner of trumpet blowing. Which presented our next challenge. The ongoing challenge really, of answering where's Reido?

Mind you, Reid can get through a crowd quicker than Jim can get through an airport.  Like a lizard, he seemingly slithered under wheelchairs, through pews, over small children and was gone leaving me and Jim in the gridlock muttering pardon me, 'scuse me, sorry on his behalf.

Once we funneled out the doors, we split up with another silent high sign. Jim to check the car and I to scan the throngs of revelers. If the whole thing hadn't been so fun, we'd of left right then.  But it was perfect. I wanted a plastic shofar!  I wanted to stay all night.  Standing on a concrete wall in the cacophony of trumpet blasts from preschoolers and legitimate robed priests alike, it dawned on me.

I texted Jim: i'm by the stage guessing reid will be too once music starts.

And then again within minutes with this photo: found him

Reid in the cream tee; best available seat
He was right where I wanted to be: in the front!

God spoke to Moses: Tell the people of Israel, These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of God which you are to decree as sacred assemblies.  Leviticus 23:1-3

The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast!  ... Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master.   1 Thess. 4:16-17

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fleeing Boston

One of the things I miss most about Allie is her truth telling.

Toward the end of her senior year in high school this trait became more and more laughable as she expressed her opinions of my wardrobe.  In some psychosomatic effort to engage vicariously in her packing for college (and have something constructive to do myself since she would not let me help), I overhauled my own closet.  Emptied the entire thing including shoes and started from scratch to determine what, if anything, was still in style, fit and wasn't stained.  One needs an accountability partner to do this well.  Allie was mine.  With one glance she communicates so much: "Are you kidding me right now?" "Definitely Goodwill."  "Don't let me ever see you in that." or simply, "No." I ended up with a few decent items we now refer to as "Allie-approved."

She dared not comment on the pouch. I love my pouch--a flat Bagallini travel bag with a jillion zippers that rides over the shoulder. She'd donate it if she could. What bugs her is that I never take it off. "It looks like you're about to flee," was the truth be told.

Aha! That's exactly what I love about it. I am ready in an instant. My keyless ignition button is on my person. So is a pen, my wallet and library card. I have what I need at hand's reach. I am armed and ready whether Reid bolts out the door impulsively or I find myself with unexpected time for a Trader Joe's stop. I can turn on a dime with this pouch, like Kanga bounding through the Hundred Acre Wood after Roo.

As soon as she explained, I understood the sentiment. The pouch became a symbol of all the times she been the trailing sibling.  Left to shut the door; decide whether to follow or sit tight; have her own plans deferred.  For me, the pouch is practical. For Allie, it was a painful reminder that her mom might be gone a flash.

Alas, "She'll be back. Back real soon," to quote our favorite board book, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Like Jeneil's Hope on the first day of kindergarten or the eldest owl, Allie knows her time with mom will come, eventually.  And when it does, we savor it.

I didn't dash out of Boston as one friend suggested, "Tell her in advance that you're gonna hug her then turn and run like h*** so we aren't all embarrassed."  Not me.  I had cried my eyes out the week before.  So I was free to stand on the corner of Boylston and Mass Ave. Linger actually and watch Allie walk away from me. Toward her dorm, toward independence, into the unknown...knowing that she was leaving my nest but staying in the shelter of the Most High.

Hey, what's that around her neck?

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty...He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge... Psalm 91

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:6-8

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings  Psalm 17:7-9 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mentorship right under my nose

What a week last week was! Four school night's out can nearly do me in.  Each night was worthy: an ASA film festival, our Banding Together board meeting, the Miracle Project launch in San Diego, a Kingsmen gig, Young Life fundraiser and Prom!!  Yet, on the heels of these daytime highlights: Allie presenting her "senior legacy" (one of 7 voted by classmates), an IEP, extra rehearsals and of course the up-do hair appointment, nails and pre-prom prep, they created a dizzying array of highpoints necessitating several take out dinners and a do-nothing Sunday.

Life is full. Where to start?

How 'bout with a line from yesterday's sermon? Summarizing a sermon on discipleship, our pastor implored us to, "look behind you, and see who's following you." All of us have opportunities to mentor and be mentored.

I saw this Friday night. A group of young musicians, The Dudes' Bandslam, are steadily following Reid and his Kingsmen bandmates. The Dude's Bandslam has been together a little more than a year. They opened Friday night for The Kingsmen who've been gigging for five years.

Mentoring is one of the key buzz words embedded in the threefold mission of Banding Together: to give music therapy scholarships, mentorships and instruments to youth with special needs. We toil in trial and error to create the first chicken, or is it the egg, of a mentorship program.  Gaining momentum, we were just awarded a grant from WRAMTA for a series of Jam Sessions linking local musicians with kids. Another smashing success that's evolving are Soundcheck Jams with touring musicians at the Belly Up Tavern. They deserve a post of their own.

Try as we might, it seems the most solid example of mentorships is right under our nose. It was obvious last Friday night; The Kingsmen themselves are the mentors!  How often is this how God works?  His ways are mysterious and higher than ours.  While we're busy compulsively planning good things, He hits a pop fly into left field. His upside-down Kingdom way never ceases to surprise and delight me. It makes me laugh honestly, in acknowledgment that it is so much better than anything we could have asked for or even imagined--around any brainstorming board table.

Back to the gig: the Dudes' Bandslam played the first set at our coffeehouse fundraiser.  We do a series of 6 of these throughout the school year.  Local high school bands and jazz ensembles perform, invite their own following. By selling raffle tickets, we raise money and awareness for music therapy.  Each one is awesome in its own right, having a different flavor depending on the crowd and tenor of the band.

I'm biassed obviously, but the last one of the season is special because it puts our mission into 3-D. Kids--with autism, who've grown up with music therapy--are up on stage rocking the casbah in order to raise money so kids like them, but younger can get the same benefits. Innately, they demonstrate our mission better than any board member could articulate it. They embody the mission. It rocks!

So, this tongue-tied board member hopes you can see from the pictures what took place. A community turned out.  Their were so many webs of connection between the audience--from church from Miracle League baseball, from the chiropractors office, from Capernaum.  Everyone knew somebody. That made for a receptive, encouraging environment.  Nervous as they were, the boys had the crowd whether they remembered the lyrics or sang off key.  Dancing in the aisle and hooting was encouraged.  We--because I include myself in the bunch--were like a bunch of college freshman having our first beers at a frat house. Crazy and carefree...

The paparazzi rivaled a royal wedding. In addition to the professional photographer, Stacy Bostrom, who volunteered (her portraits of kids make me drool), there were 3 videos rolling, a couple SLR's, and every iPhone in the place. Again, whether they kept or missed the beat, this was going down in history. Note: these pics are from my phone; hers will follow.

By the time the second set came around, our partner sorority Alpha Xi Delta had collected $400.  The Kingsmen took the stage and brought it home. Reid took the announcements from there. As front man, he has developed a comfortable schtick telling the audience where else they perform and what he likes best about being in the band.  On a roll this time, he even gave the last call for raffle tickets and said, "we messed up" when one of the songs had a false start.  No worries, they are seasoned performers. One comrade mom who has known Reid since our boys were kindergartners riding horses was mesmerized, "I don't think I've ever heard Reid speak." Such is the transformational power of music--and the stage for him.

That's when I saw it. On the overstuffed loveseat sat the entire Dudes' Slamband squished together, almost on each other's laps. The four of them, elated their set was done, watched every move The Kingsmen made.  Wielding drumsticks in the air, they copied unabashedly showing us how mentorship works. Never mind the local pros, The Kingsmen were mentoring them--modeling how it's done--breaking down the next steps--showing rather than telling what it is to be a band.

They need to have an encore ready next time, for they brought down the house!  Everyone wanted more.  Adrenaline rushing through his veins, Reid broadcast to every lingering fan, "Mom, I did an awesome job! That deserves a treat." He doesn't need a microphone.  Once home, he remained on top of the world spouting off another historic one-liner: "Mom, I DO wanna do more gigs. When's the next one?"  The thrill of living one's destiny feeds on itself and can't help but be passed along.

This from the boy who hours before didn't want to go. No one would have guessed how nervous he had been beforehand.  I hope he doesn't remember either:)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  Hebrews 12:1-3

What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas ”; still another, “I follow Christ.”  1 Corinthians 1:11-13

Friday, April 6, 2012

Run to Papa first

Notice the order there?

I hadn't before (and I just blogged about this verse.

Our Wonderful Father comforts us directly. He doesn't hire a counselor, delegate it to mom, or stand at a distance watching through a two-way mirror. He is hands on, demonstrative and effective.

Aware of my tendency to call a girlfriend, my husband or my mom before going to my Abba God, I began a new discipline awhile ago. Before I pick up the phone with a question or quandry, even to share exciting news, I stop myself. Instead, however quickly, I close my eyes and go to God first. I may still call the friend but I am noticing that I hear more from the Lord this way. And find a different, deeper satisfaction in Him.

This intimacy of "throwing myself headlong into His arms--celebrating His rescue" Psalm 13:5 doesn't come easily to someone who grew up without a Father. But it can be learned! Barry Adams Father's Heart materials are a great resource.

"No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first." Oswald Chambers

Likewise Beth Moore writes, "No one is more pleasurable to be around than a person who has had her cup filled by the Lord Jesus Christ."

Correlated with Children of Destiny's Turning the Tide! Prayer calendar for April.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is He who will save us. Isaiah 33:22

American Idol is on tonight! In addition to entertainment and joint focus for our family, it provides an apt illustration of this Scripture. Reid predicted Scotty McCreery as last year's winner and this year we're rooting for Joshua.

At first glance I did not link those 3 titles--judge, lawgiver, and king--with the concept of saving. Condemnation comes to mind before rescue. Certainly the three outline our judicial system and represent a triune God. But then I recalled how the American Idol judges graphically illustrate "the save." One save per season. Last year it was especially dramatic with Casey (click to view). We sit on pins and needles, braving the commercials, sweating each of Ryan Seacrest's fakes to see who will be cut each week. And then whether the judges will use their one save of the season or not.

The Bible is clear about God being judge. That's a relief! I don't have to concern myself with doling out criticism or seeing all sides of an issue. It's also clear on how to be saved.

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31

I feel for those American Idol contestants under the immense pressure of rejection. As each one gets cut, I pray they remember the difference between the judges and the Judge. It's easy to misplace our fear of the Lord. We will be inevitably defeated by the fear of man.

Not to put autism completely aside, we idolized our home program case manager. She was a godsend when Reid was 5 yrs. old. Her passion was to support families, especially moms in the early diagnosis stage. She was gifted at setting up a program, staffing, training, listening and walking alongside those in the midst of the initial panic and information gathering that marks that phase. I don't know how she put up with me--on the phone or my doorstep ranting and neurosing for hours on end.

She shared with me once that as much as she loved it, there was a pitfall. Emotionally desperate moms (myself included) tended to set her up as a "savior." She arrived on the scene with answers and seemed able to save their child from certain demise. This was a danger for her, since she knew that was not true. And also for them, since she was not omniscient, omnipotent, nor Savior. She could help, but she could not save even one of them.

Having made this mistake in degrees with others after her, I have finally learned that no therapist, drug, diet, or intervention can save Reid. God, the God who designed our sense of smell, heals sensory integration disorder. God, the one who knows our every thought, knows the mind of a even the nonverbal child with autism. No expert, no matter how expensive or experienced, can direct us as well as God can through His Holy Spirit. Don't give them the power that is God's alone, to save....from autism or any other human condition, including death itself.

The insanely good news is that Jesus has more than one save per season!! He came to save us all.

‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' Acts 2:20-22

Correlated with Children of Destiny's Turning the Tide! Prayer calendar for April.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What are we working for?

Today Children of Destiny's Turning the Tide calendar prompts us to pray for Teacher, Aides and Therapists (we've known a few) with this verse:

But as for you, be strong do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7

work for... reward.... Those are loaded words at my house!

Trained as we are in the ways of the autism world, I can't read them without picturing a PECS chart of possible motivators. "What will we work for today, Reid?" A video, piece of gum, or student choice....

From a tender age the premise can be established: tit for tat. You do what I want then, I'll give you what you want. It can quickly become a way of life.

After pooping on the seat or emptying the silverware, Reid's been known to shout, "That deserves a movie payoff!" And so his artful negotiation developed. Here's how ridiculous it can seem:

"You want me to do what? Three chores in a row? Compost, garbage cans, and silverware? What's it worth to you? Can we go to Target?

From the earliest days of our journey, this thinking smacked of no good to me. Oh! not that it doesn't work. It the short term. Yet, isn't there more to parenting than compliance? Don't we want children for more than transactional accomplishments? Where is the love?

Given the choices we had (and have) as consumers in the autism market (which is a growth industry), I searched for what would be the right choice. Applied Behavioral Analysis or Floortime seemed the prevailing options at that time. The Bible doesn't give specific direction about autism intervention and the myriad of therapy choices, anymore than it does about spanking, but seeking the Holy Spirit, we have to glean what we can from related verses. And consider the character of God.

He didn't create people just to get the garden of Eden weeded. He wanted company walking in the cool of the day!

Early on in our journey, we visited Dr. Serena Weider in DC and pursued Floortime with a vengeance. This antithesis to ABA was revolutionary at the time. School districts wouldn't, claim they couldn't, do it. Therapists would only do it in a hybrid approach along with the more scientifically proven behavioral theory. To me, it answered the cliche WWJD question? If He were the parent of a kid with autism, what would Jesus do? Floortime is a vivid picture of what Jesus did (and does) with each of us.

He got down on our level, became flesh no less, to engage with us, entering into our humdrum lives even following our lead as Floortime instructs. He meets us at the well drawing water, or in the leper colony where we're stuck, or at the tax collecting table where we work...spinning tops or flipping lightswitches back and forth ad nauseum. Whatever holds our interest, he starts there and patiently uses it as a means to relationship with Him.

I can only think of one chart in Scripture: those Big 10 ground rules on the stone tablets. And when we broke them to shreds. He rewrote them knowing we couldn't keep them to the letter, anyway. He'd have to send His only Son, the only one who could. Yet he wouldn't send him to show off and go home with all the stickers. He sent Him as a servant to get down in the mud with us. It's by sticking with him, abiding in relationship that we learn how to really live. You see, He is the reward!

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” Genesis 15:1-3

Surely God in heaven wants to give us the reward of being with Him for eternity. He doesn't force, bribe or coerce us into choosing it though. He gives us free will to worship Him, lift our eyes to His gaze, enjoy His presence. Like the most compelling Floortime player you could imagine, Jesus lovingly persists and hounds us and keep things just beyond our grasp in hopes that we will want to engage intimately with Him. It's why He created us in the first place.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:5-7

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Repentance: my new best friend

Today's prayer prompt on the Turning the Tide! April Calendar leads me to confession. I've fallen into a common trap set for strong women who are motivated by challenge. It's a deep hole that can trip you up at various points for long periods of time on the autism journey. Beware!

"...for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me strength and power. Philippians 4:13 The Living Bible

My mom taught me self-esteem through this scripture--or at least a portion of it. Whether it was my warped listening or her incongruent circumstances of being a single parent, I mostly heard the first part: you can do all things! Abruptly cropped there, the verse became a distorted lie and my head swelled past the healthy percentile. She had me convinced I could be president of the United States if I just put my mind to it. "Mind over matter" was inflated to more than mere axiom.

So, only mildly daunted by the impossibility of conception, I entered adoptive motherhood of twins confidently. I can do anything I set my mind to. I kept marching through early intervention and autism diagnosis, I can do this, watch me. My strong-willed self-talk escalated until it approached ugly fallacies like, "my love will make the difference" and "I know better than anyone" and "I don't need help, I'm fine." Floortime, 40-hr. week intervention, team meetings, PRT, Brain Highways, GF diets, homeschooling, bring it on. I was invincible--and deluded.

I shudder to think now, how great God allowed the demands to become before I would admit the truth, even to my own husband. The raw reality was clear to us both when I finally said, "You're right. I can't do this." I had long before started calling my own shots and was far off base from things God had asked. That's not self-esteem, it's not scriptural; it's sin straight up. I had agreed and perpetuated an ugly mess of pride, self-sufficiency, idolatry, unbelief and control. As each layer of wrong thinking is revealed, the Lord has graciously led me to repentance.

Repentance is my new best friend, for without it I'd still be mired down in that trap with no way out--still trying to do the impossible...alone...or with the added weights of shame and guilt.

Repentance is a powerful punch to the enemy of our souls that's actually deceptively simple. As I come across a verse--like the one today--that I've either misinterpreted, misconstrued or missed the mark in living out, I simply turn around from what's false and agree with the truth as laid out by my loving Father in heaven.

This is amazingly similar to what Reid does at school when he missteps on one of a myriad "School Rules." They call it "turning the day around." Maybe he left the area during morning meeting. He has a chat with one of the teachers to recognize the rule and hopefully choose to turn it around. No condemnation. No permanent penalty. Just returning to life as usual with new resolve to abide by whatever rule. Let's just reason together.

Whether in the natural realm with school rules or the spiritual realm with God's stated principles, freedom begins by recognizing we got something wrong. Then turning away from that, I can agree with truth and walking increasingly toward it. It's a process made habitual by individual small steps.

For example, as I read Philippians 4:13 and realize my flawed thinking, I pray something like this repenting and agreeing with Scripture:

Lord, forgive me for thinking I can do anything without you. I repent for giving ground to pride and selfishness and control. I repent for putting other people and things (idols) in the center of my life. Thank you for offering me Jesus' help. I want to operate in His strength and power which is far superior to my own. I ran myself ragged chasing solutions and doing a million things you never asked me to do. I am so sorry for listening to so many experts before my own husband, let alone You. It went awry like confetti following the law of gravity, when I made my own rules. I need your strength and power. Thank you for the help of Christ. Help me stay close enough to you to hear only what you are asking me to do.

"...for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me strength and power. Philippians 4:13 The Living Bible

Correlated with Children of Destiny's Turning the Tide! Prayer Thrust.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18