Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Imagination & Healing

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." ~Einstein
I have been thinking a lot about imagination lately and the role it has played in my healing. Can't help but think how important imagination must be in this journey although we often dismiss thoughts not based in any type of reality as just fantasy. 

Imagination can be fantasy sometimes, and to be truthful, imagination can also be destructive. But what if we learned to submit our dreams to God? What if He cleansed them if they were tainted somehow? What if they became holy? What if they were from Him in the first place?

Anyway, here's just a little example of how imagination helped me one time. When I weighed 215 pounds for years, and years, and years, it didn't seem to keep me from remembering the times I ran through the corn field behind my house or beat all the other kids in the 100 yard dash throughout my time in elementary school so when I pictured myself in the future, it was that healthy, athletic person in my mind I always saw living life. Not the sick person I had become. 

And although I'm not the 125 pounds I used to be (I'm not that tall), I am (just for the sake of disclosure so this post resonates with people--I generally don't walk around advertising my poundage) 149 pounds. And even though I am 43, I can run again after twenty years of being almost completely sedentary. I lost the extra weight about seven years ago.

Today, not really even close to having a satisfying career, I imagine myself functioning in the vocation I believe God intends for me. This vision is always before me in my mind's eye, so I challenge you, if you are praying for the healing of a son or daughter, imagine (if it's not too painful--sometimes it is) to think of her as inviting her friends over, and to think of him as shaking the hands of every stranger he ever meets. Or imagine them in any life giving/receiving capacity. The point is, imagine the healing.

This is not a tool to use to replace prayer or meditation upon God's word. It is simply a way of seeing a reality that is more in line with God's will than what we presently see. Sickness is not of Him though sometimes it remains despite our most fervent prayers. I cannot deny this, and it is mysterious to me. Overall, however, I do think His heart is geared towards us living and functioning in health. 

Imagine that world with me, if you will. 

Blessings! 

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “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? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." ~Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hey Y'all (A Note for the Suffering)

I don't know if my hormones are running amok or if God is whispering to my spirit. Either way, I have this overwhelming sense that there are sooo many of you out there feeling like you cannot go on for one more second--for whatever reason--autism related or not. 

I have been in that place of despair and despondency more times than I care to count, and to be honest, I probably will be there again at some point in the future. But I'm not going to think about that right now. I'm just thinking about you, and I want to share something.

It sounds so cliche to say that God has a purpose for each and every one of you...except, no matter how much it is said, these words are still true. Suffering, to us, seems to negate that purpose. I know. Yet, if we can bear to be real about this, although sometimes we cannot bear it, and that's okay, suffering has this way of refining us that cannot and does not happen under any other circumstances. 

I'm not asking you to sit and piously try to think of everything you are grateful for right now. When people have suggested this to me when I was about at my breaking point, I went a bit nuts on them. I'm just asking for you to hold on a little longer. It doesn't have to be pretty. Shaking your fists at God for now will not get you struck down by lightning. But it will let off some steam that's been building up against Him for awhile. And when that's cleared, you can go back to the Lord and really share the hidden places in your heart. This is healing, and it draws you nearer to Him. 

You can trust Him with your pain. He can handle it, and He did handle it when it was all absorbed on the Cross.

In Jesus' Love...Kelly


Friday, December 26, 2014

Defensive People (aka Competitive Conversationalists)

This little book caught my eye the other day during my Christmas shopping at Barnes & Noble. Actually, the title drew me in like a car wreck. No one wants to look, but the curiosity ultimately proves stronger than any feelings of horror so we take a gander anyway. 

Well, this author comes up with a lot of terms for people I can't really disagree with. My favorite is the humblebragger. "I'm so humbled that my book sold over a million copies," kind of thing. No you aren't, and the rest of us know it. 

Anyway, I bring this up because I want to share a little hint with my autistic friends. Sometimes the people you speak with want to do nothing but argue. But it is hard to tell that's what they're doing and after the conversation is over, you feel kind of irritated or depressed but you really don't know why.

The trick is, these people do not sound like they are arguing. Their voices aren't raised. They speak slowly and methodically, but...they are arguing. Constantly. And while I do not want to punch these particular people in the throat (or anyone else for that matter), I want to you to know, I do find these types of chats to be highly annoying (and totally unnecessary). 

Here's how to identify when you are speaking with a competitive conversationalist (who always want to make the winning point, even if and when there is nothing to be won).

Here's a sample discussion:

You: It's a lovely day, outside isn't it?

Competitive Conversationalist (CC): Well, no. Little too hot for me. I love the cold. Last year at this time it was only 55 degrees. Loved it. Global warming, messing up the earth. 

You: Oh, yeah, hmmm. Could be. I don't really know. But at least the sun is shining. It's been raining for the last three days.

CC: Actually, it's been raining for the last two and half days. Started around 6 o'clock. I know because I just sat down to dinner then. 

You: That's true, I guess. Yeah, but anyway, this weather will give me a chance to cut the grass. 

CC: What kinda mower you got? Mine's a (whatever). Cuts through anything. You oughta think about getting one. It's the best. Nothing better. 

You: Okay. Well, thanks. Okay, my phone is ringing. I've got to take this call right now. I'll see you later!

CC: Not if I see you first! 

I realized recently I have a lot of these conversations. They are so draining, but what is important to know is that the roots of these types of dialogues are typically defensiveness and rejection. Be at peace with as many people as possible, but when you are caught up in one of these dead end conversations, try to pray silently and ask God to help you not respond with your own defensiveness (which is what I did for the longest time).

Love well today. Especially while conversing. Autism doesn't keep you from being kind to your neighbor.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When People Do Not Respond

Most of the time my posts are for people looking for encouragement regarding their healing journey. Sometimes, though, it's important to write to individuals on the spectrum trying to navigate life by looking to the normals out there to tell them if their behavior is socially acceptable or not. 

Sometimes, though, I do not think that is a very good idea because I'm not sure they really know what is acceptable, either. 

Over the last few months, whether it be a phone call, an email, or a hand written letter, I have noticed that I am not getting a response from anyone about anything--ever. Last week, the disappointment of not hearing from anyone really put my patience to the test, but I wondered if my feelings of frustration were really valid. Maybe this was just me not understanding how the regular people in the world communicate. Maybe silence is normal. 

Well, after a little research, I learned in this New York Times article that even in the business world, unanswered emails are not at all appreciated. While some people say no response is the "new no," most feel that that this attitude is just plain rude. And honestly, it is.

What I love about the Bible is there really are no "social rules." Jesus simplified life exponentially when He said the most basic but profound thing ever: "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." 

So, sometimes issues that come up really aren't about autism! They are just the consequences of living in a fallen world. If you are still waiting to hear from someone on an important issue and weeks or months go by without a response, inquire (briefly and politely) again. If you are no longer in need but the silence has been painful and confusing, send a brief but polite note about how the lack of response made you feel. Maybe this will make them think twice about doing the same thing to someone else. 

We are all in this life together. We all teach and we all learn. Everybody plays. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

In Sickness or In Health?

 How would you like to live? Which would you choose?

Our attitude toward sickness – whether to ask God to remove it, or whether to accept it as his will – is a key question. To be sure, if I believe that God has sent me a sickness to test my love, I am not going to pray to be rid of it. Rather, I will embrace my cross and refuse to avail myself of any alleviation. Yet, nowhere in the gospel do we see Christ encouraging the sick to patiently endure their illness. On the contrary, he everywhere treats sickness as a manifestation of the kingdom of Satan which he has come to 
destroy. ~Francis MacNutt, Healing

Just some food for thought today. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Remedy for Guilt & Shame

I'm thankful for technology that allows me to give a voice to emotions and thoughts that have been a part of me for most of my life. I'm discovering what other people surely know--that allowing sadness and anger to surface--and then allowing those feelings to be released in healthy ways--tremendously improves mood and outlook! 

I am feeling much better than just a few days ago. I am thankful for the prayers that went up because of my last post and also for the thoughts and comments that were shared with me. 

Many times, after an emotional storm, I reflect on the life of Jesus. The truth is, He suffered rejection of every kind. There was no loneliness He did not know. No insult He did not hear. He was not wanted. And by the time He went to the Cross, people ran away from Him, too. He experienced all of these things so by the time you and I also did we would not be alone like He was. Jesus is always with us and knows exactly how we feel. Thank you, Lord. 

So, with Jesus' suffering in mind, I would like to share a concise healing prayer with you that helps me to renew my mind on most days if it gets stuck in the past. It goes like this:

Lord Jesus, I bind my mind to your mind. 
I bind my will to your will. 
I bind my emotions with your emotions.

This is my remedy for any false guilt and shame that tries to hold me hostage to my memories. Many times after praying it, my mind is instantly cleared, and my spirit is uplifted. I hope if you pray this, the same will happen for you! 

Blessings.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guilt & Shame

It's important to be real. There are many people in this world I admire, but by the time I get around to knowing who they are, they've learned a ton of life lessons I do not even know about yet. This can make it appear that their lives are nothing but a huge piece of cake when they share their success stories from podiums and in books.

But we are all human, and we all go through hard times. Even when things are getting better (and things are getting better for me), life can still hurt. Jesse's Saperstein's book, mentioned in yesterday's post, starkly reminded me of this fact. He writes of the many people who found him to be strange. And how in looking back, he understood why they felt that way. 

As I read, I remembered the many similar situations in my past. My behavior hurt people, and there's a certain amount of embarrassment attached to every memory.

So, I want to make myself a little vulnerable to you right now. I want to share that I carry a large amount of guilt and shame in my heart most of the time. It was not my fault to be born autistic. And no one else is to blame for this, either, but there are so many people in my life who have been angry with me, disappointed in me, ashamed of me, and afraid of me that I would be a liar if I didn't say these realizations do not hurt. A lot. They are, indeed sometimes (like today), excruciatingly painful.

Yet the only reason why I hurt is because of my healing. I am now acutely aware of how my actions and impulsiveness affected other people around me. This was not the case only a few years ago. Even then, I had absolutely no idea. So now I live with the opportunity to think in terms of gray rather than in black and white. Meaning I have to learn how to be grateful for my healing, while at the same time grieve over what was lost because of a disorder. 

Not that I haven't grieved already, but grief is not linear and in reality it's just a hard concept to understand. Grief is not an emotion. It's a conglomeration of (sometimes conflicting) emotions that simply show up whenever they want to appear. Even after years of dormancy.

There are just days when I hate autism. Or myself for having had it. A few months back, I tried to apologize to someone for my past behavior, but that person ran away from me. And then when I went back to my church because, well, it is my church, that individual quit going because of their fear of me. 

As a logical person, and as a healed person, it is easy to see society's perspective regarding their overall discomfort around individuals with autism. I actually understand it. 

On the other hand, as a Christian and as a human being, I find the lack of grace, understanding, and patience toward autistic people to be somewhat inexcusable. I'm not willing to say it's totally inexcusable because I am afraid of casting stones here, but it's just such a big stretch for me--you know--when I go to church and I see contempt towards "the least of these" over and over again. How can that be okay? How does this not make a person angry? How can I say it doesn't make me feel like the biggest reject of all time? 

Once upon a time, and for a very long time, my behavior was weird. But marginally so. I never broke the law. I was never lewd. I suffered from a persistent immaturity, and when the pain of a lifetime of rejection caught up with me, the anguish came out in a number of less than attractive ways. I didn't know how to share it or release it. And when I tried, it scared people.

We are the church. We need to work past our fears of those who are different because this is how healing begins. This is how we demonstrate the love of Jesus to one another. Let it begin in us. Let it begin now. 

Shalom. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Getting A Life with Asperger's



This is a humorous new book I found while perusing the library the other day. Most of the time, stories by authors on the autism spectrum do not interest me all that much, but this one piqued my curiosity for some reason. 

I've only read a few chapters so far but admittedly it's pretty good. Jesse does not describe his journey as a healing one, but clearly--or at least in my opinion--it is. 

Reading his story is somewhat bittersweet. His memories of being bullied evoke memories of my own pain-filled days, and those memories are hard to shut down once they begin to flow. Yet, Jesse's successes are similar to mine, too, and remembering them brings me joy.

I do disagree with this thoughts on "romance." For what I hope are for obvious reasons, I do not advocate sex outside of marriage as he does (because this is part of the "normal" life men his age strive for), but other than that, this story is surprisingly encouraging.  I think it can bring some peace of mind to parents with children on the spectrum. 

Of course, I was reminded the other day by an insightful blog post on Practical Theology for Women that all of these books I have shared with you are really secondary aids on the healing journey. The Bible is always primary because it is God's heart. Out of his heart flows His thoughts for us, and knowing His thoughts is what allows us to be in relationship with Him. None of the world's wisdom can compete with that relationship and the love we receive from it. 

Blessings to you all today. 
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Meaningful Living

I have to admit that Thanksgiving is not all that joyful for me. It's supposed to be--I know that. And I feel guilty for not being able to drum up some sappy prayers or gushing expressions of gratitude while throwing down some turkey. It's just something I've never been able to do--say something that my heart doesn't really feel. It's kind of hard to be sincere amid all the football and Black Friday commercials anyway. 

I don't hate giving thanks. I just hate that I feel like it has to be done today, and if I don't, I'm a loser. Worse yet, if I don't spend the day with others, I'm an even bigger loser. When these things crossed my mind this afternoon, it kind of made me wonder if life really has any meaning to it. And if so, how can I live meaningfully?

Now, people will tell someone like me (single and lonely) to go visit a nursing home, and that makes sense, except I am a big picture kind of a person. You know, I'll walk into one of those places and immediately start thinking of how the health care system is horrible, and how nursing homes need to go the way of the dinosaur. I'll see despair all around, and I'll know that even though I visited once, I will never be able to muster the will to go again, even though the people in there do not deserve to be abandoned. And then...I will just feel like a guilty loser all over again. You get the point. 

So, I did some googling today and found a nice bit of advice on how to live a meaningful life. Really, the guy or whoever wrote the blog really had my number. He said most of us don't live meaningfully because we think we have to do something totally slamming, and so we sit around and try to think of what that thing is, and of course we come up with nothing, so we do nothing. 

Instead, he wrote, if you want to change the world, start small. Take a few seconds out of your day and do something for somebody else, and then just build on whatever you are doing.

It's not that his idea is news but it was good to be reminded of the truth. Sometimes a few seconds is all it really takes to make a difference for somebody. That's something for me to happily chew on for the rest of the evening. It's better than turkey.

Good night, y'all. Blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How to Pray for Healing of a Developmental Disability

Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville, FL publishes a free quarterly magazine called The Healing Line. In the last issue, a person wrote in to ask Francis and Judith MacNutt for advice on how to minister to someone with a condition like autism. The following is their response:

A: Once we prayed for a child with Down Syndrome who changed dramatically during the prayer. We sent the family home and encouraged the parents to pray over the child while he was sleeping and to do soaking prayer. It took several years, but over time, the child was restored completely, even the facial features were healed. We have prayed for people with autism, ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, etc. and it’s very important to ask for discernment from the Holy Spirit for each individual case. Sometimes a generational root is discerned so you will want to do the generational work to clear that. We find that with mental illness and some of the disorders, there is often a generational pattern. Identifying these repeated patterns is a good place to start. Then, just pray for guidance. Soaking prayer is also very effective. Praying for the physical brain is so important and for some reason that is intimidating to people. Many of the mental disorders have to do with the brain misfiring, so we must lay hands on the head and pray for the brain. God can change the brain and balance it.

The story of Francis praying for that child with Down's can be found in this wonderful little (about 90 pages) book:


For the record, I must say I agree with the observation that sometimes generational issues are involved. Such was the case with me.

Blessings!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tidings of Great Joy



The holidays are almost upon us, and usually this is the time of year where my hopes and dreams tend to be renewed within my heart. This was not the case a few years back, however. 

I felt like my life had fallen to a new low when my Jewish neighbor asked me to watch her dog so she could celebrate Christmas with her in-laws. When I initially declined she said, "Oh come on. You are single with no family. What does it matter if you stay at my house? You don't have anywhere to go."

Emotionally, I knew it mattered a great deal, but I had grown weary from the years of praying for the healing I needed in order to be connected with my loved ones so I could spend the holidays (and life in general) with them. I reluctantly agreed to watch the dog and stayed at her home, but as the days crept toward the 24th, my heart became more and more despondent.

It's been a longtime habit of mine to slip outside on Christmas Eve to pray, and that night was no different. The stillness of the December air that manages to turn crisp just in the nick of time in South Carolina and the extraordinarily bright moonlight somehow have always made the atmosphere seem truly holy to me. I am usually then moved to offer up my deepest, most heartfelt thoughts and feelings to God with ease. It's not uncommon for me to pray for  a "Christmas miracle," either, and that year I did have a particular one in mind.

But rather than being able to speak, unexpectedly there were no words. There were not even tears. Instead I stood in the depths of a lifetime of emptiness. Not being able to take the pain of the disconnect even with Jesus, I told Him, "I have nothing to say. My hope is gone. I don't believe in Christmas miracles anymore. Your birth was probably it--the only Christmas miracle necessary, and that should be enough for me." Then I dejectedly went back into the house without even saying an amen.

It wasn't long after that when the dog and I headed to bed. Normally, it takes me well over an hour to fall asleep, yet within minutes I was out. Visions of sugarplums did not dance in my head, but sometime during the night I began to dream, and in my dream, I sat at a writing desk in a small room. 

I tried hard to put pen to paper but because of an overwhelming anxiety, I got up from the desk and then began to pace. I was so caught up in my fear that when three men appeared in the room, I almost didn't notice them.

They all had dark hair and were dressed like monks. Their habits were brown and the men wore golden sashes tied around their waists. They also all held golden tablets in their hands. 

One of the men stepped forward. He simply said, "My name is Sean. I have a message for you. Do not be afraid." As soon as he said this, peace flooded me so deeply that I felt a change in my body even in my sleep, which caused me to wake with a joyful start. 

I excitedly thought, "If the name Sean has anything to do with God, then my dream was from the Lord!" I sprang out of bed and tripped over the dog which nearly sent me flying head first down the stairs, but I hardly cared. I just wanted to get to the computer to find out about this name. 

Sean, it turns out, is the Gaelic form of John which means, "God is gracious." This discovery only heightened my joy. By giving me that dream, the Lord indeed had shown Himself to be gracious to me. 

Yet later on Christmas Day, after happily sharing my story with a friend (who has been a church leader for more than 35 years), she simply smiled but did not comment. Concerned, I asked, "Do you not think this was from God?" She answered, "Yes it was, but those men were not monks, and that was not a dream. They were angels, and you experienced a visitation.

I fell silent. I realized God's graciousness to me had been far greater than I initially understood. To begin with, many people pray to see angels and often ask how that happens. There is no definitive answer, but I've slowly come to the realization that angels are visible when we need them to be visible, but only God knows when we truly are in that place of need. This is not something we can force upon Him. Additionally having a spiritual experience does not make a person holy, which is not a claim I could ever make about myself. I am just as human as anyone else.

Secondly, I told the Lord I didn't believe in Christmas miracles anymore, but He performed one simply to restore my hope. It's been six years since that night, but I think of it more frequently now because like the angels announcing Christ's birth, they too brought me great tidings of joy that is just now beginning to manifest in my life. 

Two thousand years ago, Christ entered the world as Emmanuel and became God with us. There are times we think He has left us, but because of His graciousness, even on Christmas Eve, He finds His ways, sometimes plainly and sometimes miraculously to let us know, "I am still here. Do not be afraid." 

God bless you and peace be with you always. Fear not and Merry Christmas for the Lord is with us all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prayer Ministry: Durham, NC



As mentioned before, occasionally I go online and attempt to find viable prayer ministries throughout the country. All Saints Church, an Anglican congregation in Durham, NC, appears to offer solid healing prayer support for those in need.

You can check them out here.

Blessings!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beyond "Salvation"

For years, I remained under the impression that salvation was merely a short "I confess that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior," and nothing more. 

It wasn't until I heard a comment, "Most Christians today are only about 30% converted," made by Francis MacNutt, co-founder of Christian Healing Ministries, when I began to question why Jesus went from town to town and healed people wherever He went. 

After all, if confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior was enough for the people of Israel to be saved, then why was there a need for healing? And why were they so desperate for it? Dr. Thomas Constable with Dallas Theological Seminary estimates that in the three and half years before Jesus died, He ministered to and healed three and a half million people.

The answer to the above questions is simple. Salvation is not just about being rescued from our sins. God continues to save us when He restores us to health. We are saved when God heals us from our deepest emotional pain. And we are saved when are set free from the chains of addiction. 

You see, every time we are healed, we have the opportunity to become a little more like Jesus. This is true conversion--that we, day by day, and even moment by moment, are transformed into the image of Christ. We go from glory to glory, and it's that radiance of the Holy Spirit which comes from the healing that flows from our hearts and reaches out to those around us searching for God even if they are not aware they are searching. 

Strongholds (addictions, negative beliefs, bad habits, fear, judgment, anger, etc.) hold us back in life. They block the flow of the Holy Spirit, and in turn, our effectiveness as Christians is diminished because we cannot really practice what we preach to others. If we are honest enough to admit it, we really cannot even reach the world with Christ's love, either. So, it's essential to deal with strongholds. It's essential to deal with anything that keeps us conformed to the image of the world, actually. 

We must understand as Christians the depth of the word, "salvation." We must also understand the
meaning of the words, "conversion" and "transformation." We cannot claim ignorance. And we cannot say it's enough that "I already made Jesus my Savior, and I'm going to Heaven." 

When we become believers in Jesus, we also, in that moment of confession, begin to align ourselves to eventually become servants in the Kingdom of God. Jesus once asked a blind man, "Do you want to be well?" That is the question I present to you today. Do you want to be well? To be free? To love? To be completely converted? 

Just food for thought. 

Be blessed today. 

Kelly

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Learning & Autism


I'll never forget the time when I tried to pull away from the bank's drive thru window in my father's Volvo, which weighed a ton. And oh yeah, it was a stick shift. 

In case you don't know, a Volvo doesn't move with just a tap of the gas pedal as you ease off the clutch. It's pop the clutch and punch the gas with lightning speed, but if you can't do this, you sit in a parking lot all day. 

Which is what happened in my case, with more than a few cars waiting behind me. I was mortified. Convinced I couldn't learn to drive. Convinced I was a failure. 

My father, on the other hand, wasn't convinced and he ordered me, above my yelling, to try to put the car in gear one more time. Well I did, and finally got that tank of his to move at least a few feet away from the drive thru before stalling out again. 

What's the point of this story? It's that my dad knew then what Sal Khan knows now. Basically, he (my dad) understood that human intelligence is not fixed. People are capable of learning all the time. Literally. Unfortunately not all people agree on this point, and for those in this camp who have autistic kids, they severely diminish their child's capacity to live a richer and fuller life in years to come. 

By the way, within a few days, I was able to drive that car. It's kind of an important point because I've met parents of autistic kids who refuse to even allow their very capable children to bike ride let alone drive. At some point, I do hope people can realize that there's a difference between keeping a person alive versus letting her live.

Disability does not have to mean intellectual death. Perhaps a great deal more effort has to go into the process, but autistic people can and will learn if they are taught. Please make every effort to teach your children and to teach them well. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Prodigal Goes Home

The winds of change are blowing again. Hard. In my last post, I wrote about moving into a home that I was to share with two other single ladies in Jacksonville, Florida. But God had other plans. 

Just a few days after that post, I ran an errand to my church, but on the way home without even thinking, I suddenly hopped onto 295 North and ended up...at home. My Charleston, South Carolina home, that is. The city I left four years ago thinking I would never live here again. but this is where I've been for the past three weeks and counting.

It didn't take long to see that I pretty much came back as a prodigal. When I left, I thought the whole world had rejected me because of an autism label. The truth is, autism had nothing to do with it. I was angry and bitter, and the people in my life had had enough of it all. And rightfully so. 

As a result of seeing myself a little more accurately, I have been on a mission over the last few weeks. I am searching out those who were the most wounded by my behavior and words and am asking for their forgiveness. I used to just apologize to people and not really have any idea what the offense was, but all of the pain I caused is so clear to me now. So this is not just saying, "I'm sorry." This is, "You were wronged. This is how. And you will never have to be on the receiving end of that from me ever again. Period." 

These past several weeks, I've been worshiping at the same church I thought I had left behind for good. What is amazing to me is that God transformed my heart so much that somehow it has changed me outwardly. Many--and I do mean many--people I interacted with quite a bit only four years ago do not even recognize me. We talk easily as if we've always been friends, and so I've chosen not to remind them of who I was. 

Because..I am not who I was. Sometimes it's better to leave the past in the past and simply start anew. It's true that the old can fall away and we really can become new creatures in Christ--just as He promised. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

St. Andrew's, I am grateful for you. And I love you.

So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.  ~Matthew 5:23-24

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Changes!

Last month has been a whirlwind of change! After six years of not having, nor really wanting a car, some very lovely people from my church and who moved to Japan, graced me with their old Toyota Camry.

I'm one of those people who thinks that if God gave me a car, then He has somewhere specific He wants me to go in it. So, I am praying about that because I sense it could potentially be somewhere radically different than from where I am now. Not that this stresses me out or anything.

And I moved, too, which really normally wouldn't be that big of a deal--however. In this case, I'm sharing a home with two older-than-me single ladies. One of them just got a kitten, which she named Van Morrison. I do like it here, but all of the cognitive flexibility healing stuff I've been writing about here and there is going to be stretched to its outer limits, I'm sure. 


I don't know what the future holds, but if God is in it, I will be okay. Step by step Jesus lights the way of my path!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Healing Prayer in St. Louis, MO

Most Protestant people I know are a little touchy when it comes to anything Catholic, but for the most part, I am not one of those folks. If you go to a church where the true gospel of Jesus Christ is preached and taught, then it doesn't matter to me which side of the religious coin you're on. Faith is faith, pure and simple.

That said, I found online what appears to be a wonderful healing prayer ministry in St. Louis, MO. They are Catholic and offer quite a bit of assistance to those with a prayer need, including the ability to have someone pray for you over the telephone. With autistic children it's almost impossible to get out of the house for long periods of time, so this might be a viable alternative for you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

School Days!

A Facebook friend, Curry, is just about to start his first day of college! He was healed of autism four years ago, and at that time, he was on the same academic level as a second grader. Thank you, Lord, for your marvelous deeds, and for Your great love that even now, you still heal us! 

We praise You for Your loving kindness, Jesus!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, we know You are the Healer of all mankind. We praise You and thank You for giving up the riches and glory of Your heavenly home in order to come and be with us here on Earth. You suffered with us, and then suffered unimaginably for us. There is no pain we experience that you are not familiar with.

But many people trying to take care of their children who are on the spectrum feel so alone. They have been left by spouses and friends, and it makes it almost impossible to believe that Your eye is still upon them and that they have not been forsaken. But You haven't forsaken them. Nor have You forsaken their children. 

Jesus, let your presence among these people be known and if possible, be felt, too. Reveal Yourself to them, just even for a split second, not for the sake of experience, but for the sake of comfort that You are indeed there. Send your Holy Spirit to provide counsel and wisdom for those who seek after You.

Lord, without hope, we are faint, weak, and sick at heart. Revive the hope of those who put their trust in You long ago but are still waiting for answers and healing. Draw them deeper into Your presence. As they cling to You, the Rock of their salvation, may You reward tangibly all of those who do put their faith in You and seek You with all of their hearts. 

Heal the sick, Jesus. Restore all that the locusts have eaten. You love your children. Again we thank You and praise You for your great love. Thank you, Lord that You are a Redeemer. 

Amen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suicide & Autism



Yes, I am writing this brief post in response to Robin Williams' death. I am deeply saddened by it, but I am also angry, too. Article after article states that this was "so sudden." As if a happy person wakes up one day and decides over a morning cup of coffee to just end it all. 

No. It does not work that way. Depression leading to suicide is never sudden. Ever. In fact, statistically speaking the average length of time a person waits to get treated for depression is twenty years after its onset. How do we not notice another person's suffering for two decades?

An article written for Psychology Today states that a person on the autism spectrum is 28 times more likely to think about suicide. However, what is interesting is that it isn't the autism that generates the thoughts. It is, rather, a response to bullying and social isolation. 

When are we going to start learning how to treat each other? When are we going to notice another person's pain and stop inflicting them with more? 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spiritual & Emotional Maturity


We all know there's an ongoing debate as to whether or not autistic people possess empathy. I can't speak for everyone, but I know I have it. 

But to possess empathy and to be emotionally mature are two separate issues. And although the autistic people I've observed are emotionally immature, many Christians I've met, not on the spectrum, are dealing with the same (for lack of a better word) problem. 

Most individuals I know really do love Jesus and do strive to be spiritually mature. Yet they judge people. They anger easily. They reject out of that anger. They gossip. Why? Because they have not yet dealt with their emotions. 

It is not possible to be spiritually mature without being emotionally mature. Take care, on your healing journey, to bring all aspects of yourself to the throne of God. Pray for balance in your emotional expression.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Emotional and Physical Needs

One of the biggest challenges in my life right now is to identify both emotional and physical (or material) needs

These areas of my life have been repressed for so long (okay, they've been repressed forever), that sitting down to make a list of these needs is painful. And close to impossible, since my mind just draws a tremendous blank every time I try. 

You would think that this is really just a bunch of useless psychology, but I've learned that the human spirit--the part of us that communes with God and stands in His Presence, cannot be healthy...cannot receive fully from God when we deny the other two thirds of ourselves (mind and body). 

Painful or not, though, I do still try. I bring my paper, pencil, and my heart, and I sit before the Lord working out this very difficult problem. To do so means I am working to trust Jesus with needs I never before thought He cared about. But He does. 

Maybe you have been trying to raise an autistic child on your own, and you haven't thought much about your emotions or your body, or if you have, you believe that thinking of yourself is wrong. It's not true. I've also discovered in this process that sharing my needs with Jesus strengthens me to share the needs of others with Him, too. In other words, I care a great deal more for others when I take the time to care about myself. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

God & His Promises



In 2002, while casually reading Isaiah, the Lord clearly spoke to my spirit. "Read that passage again, but every time you see 'Egypt' replace it with your name." 

Consequently, Isaiah 19:19-22 read like this: 

"In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Kelly, and a monument to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Kelly. When she cries out to the LORD because of her oppressors, he will send her a savior and defender, and he will rescue her. So the Lord will make himself known to Kelly, and in that day she will acknowledge the LORD...The Lord will strike Kelly with a plague; he will strike her and heal her. She will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to her pleas and heal her."

I had already been sick for a number of years by the time He spoke these words to me, so I rejoiced knowing a day would come when I would be made well. God, after all, had promised. 

I'm better than I was in 2002. Except, I'm not really where I thought I'd be by now, either. And until last year, there were times when the incomplete fulfillment of this word was deeply upsetting. But during prayer, a thought about this issue came to me. Here it is:

I have learned on this journey that many, many Christians receive promises from God concerning their future. Consequently, I've also seen an error that is almost universally made among those of us waiting for fulfillment who have received such promises. The problem is we end up making those promises bigger than God. And the longer we wait for fulfillment, the easier it is to make this mistake.

It's easy to spot people who have done this. Simply, we get angry when events do not come to pass when expected. We get impatient, we complain, and we seek out other people (rather than God) to confirm what the Lord may have initially said. We also get angry with others who suggest that we may simply need to wait even more upon God. 

God knows our inclination to worship anything more than Him, which is why He tested Abraham. Could Abraham sacrifice Isaac, his only son whom He loved? Remember, Isaac was the promise made to Abraham. 

Abraham proved to be faithful and was willing to lay Isaac down upon the altar. Just as he was about to kill his son, God intervened and sent a ram for the sacrifice instead. This passing of this test was credited to Abraham as righteousness.

The Lord does keep His promises and He delights in doing so. But if you are experiencing a delay in the fulfillment of something you expected years ago, perhaps it is time to examine your heart and ask yourself what means more to you: God Himself or the words He spoke over you? 

Just food for thought today.

Kelly

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hair Care


It might seem silly to you that I'd write about hair care. But I figured if God is willing to heal me at such a late time in my life, it may happen for someone else, too. If that's so, you have a lot of catching up to do in terms of knowing how to take care of yourself--emotionally, spiritually, AND physically

I haven't had anyone to show me the way out, yet I've really needed the guidance. Even small tips like these have been a big help in how I care for my body, but I've spent years looking for them. So I'm hoping this post and others like it will save you some time so you can concentrate on more meaningful things in life.

So, anyway, my hormones are all over the place which I've discovered affects my hair. Until recently, I've either had locks like straw, or my head has felt like a total grease pit, and sometimes all of this has happened in the same day. Very frustrating! 

But not long ago, I read a tip that says for healthier hair, condition it first, and then shampoo it. Well, I tried that. And...it didn't work. But! I discovered if I shampoo, condition, and then shampoo it one last time, my hair stays clean, shiny, and soft for days!  It's a small victory, but I'm pleased with the results.
 
Try it and see if it works for you...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jesus Loves You



I suddenly feel like for so long I have inadvertently been on a quest for perfection rather than to grow closer to the Lord Jesus. Somehow on my journey rather than pursuing healing, I began to search after social acceptance thinking these things are one and the same. They are not. 

Actually, I have been striving for healing because I wanted to be a person who can help others somehow. I've also prayed for decades to have an understanding of what I am supposed to give to this world--because I believe we are here to primarily give and not take. At the very least, I think we are supposed to leave something worthwhile behind, whether it is hope, or our joy, or...something of real value...with real substance, to generations coming up after us.

A true Christian...one who denies him or herself and who picks up her cross and carries it daily, will never find acceptance in this world. That is not the goal. It is not even the prize. But healing...healing is what gives us the ability to pick up that cross. It gives us the strength to carry it, and that daily carrying is what leads to transformation so we become more and more like Christ everyday. 

Last night as I was thinking over that same question, "What can I give? What can I say that might make a difference to people?" the answer came rather clearly and suddenly. It was simply this:

"Tell them I love them." 

So, here we are. And so here you go, precious people known and about to be known by God. You are loved. The Lord Jesus Christ loves you. Autism does not stop God from loving you. Autism does not stop God from loving your autistic kids. If you in are the Father, He is in you. If you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you, and He can never, ever leave you, nor can He forsake you. If you are in Jesus Christ, you can never be, nor will you ever be alone in this world again. 

If you do not know Him, but want to know Him, just say, "Come Lord Jesus. I believe you are the Son of God. I invite you to come and live in my heart. Please forgive me for my past sins and mistakes. Help me to forgive others who need to be forgiven. In Jesus' Name. Amen." 

Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God. Nothing. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Seeking God & Autism



Now that this healing journey of mine has lasted for the last seven years or so, I've come to understand that seeking God (which is how this journey started--by seeking Him) is not an easy task--for anyone. That being said, I now also believe that an autism diagnosis in the mix makes understanding the Lord a little bit more of a challenge. 

Why? 

To begin with the Holy Scriptures are filled with symbolism from beginning to end. And up until six years ago, symbolism was completely over my head. Even so, I came to realize that being able to understand Biblical symbolism is crucially important to discern the many ways God imparts His perfect will to us. I prayed for God to change my thinking from the concrete to the abstract, and He did.

Without understanding the hidden meanings of places, names, colors, and so forth, particularly in the Old Testament, scripture becomes nothing but a litany of rules and regulation. Symbolism, on the other hand, reveals God's heart toward man and to all creation. Symbolism reveals both love and relationship. 

God also imparts His will to us through dreams, which is another mine field of symbols. 

If you are looking for healing, answers, understanding, knowledge, hope, joy, peace...or for whatever you need, you too, can seek God. He is all and knows all. And He draws near to those who draw near to Him. He is also rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Healing Prayer Ministry: Fairfax, VA

From time to time, I stumble upon healing ministries while surfing the internet. Recently, Healing Grace Ministries' website came to my attention. I'm especially encouraged by this organization because according to their "about us" information, their ministry is based on the teaching of Francis and Judith MacNutt.

Every prayer ministry is different, however the School of Healing Prayer at Christian Healing Ministries (founded by the MacNutt's) is pretty much the gold standard as far as the level of training an individual receives when learning to pray for others. So, if you are seeking healing and live in the Fairfax area, this very well could be a great place for you to visit! 

I hope you'll give it a try. 

Blessings.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Camp I Am Special & Autism

This week, my church sent just me away to retreat for two days at a place called the Inn at Marywood.

Marywood, St. John's, Florida






Believe it or not, I stayed in this huge, beautiful home by myself (the part of the house on the right there with the chimney is now actually a chapel), as guests normally come and stay on the weekends. 

It wasn't until it was almost time to leave when I saw and spoke with some of Marywood's staff members. (Until then, they worked like little and wonderful elves, staying unseen but providing for my every need. I don't know how they did that!) And as we spoke, a crowd of teens appeared and were about to go out on the long dock that sits on the St. John's River.

The gentleman (an exceptionally kind person) who served me breakfast explained that those kids all had autism and each year they come to St. John's for a week of camping. As many as fifty teens come at a time and amazingly they each have their own aid who are volunteers.

Even more amazing is the fact that each volunteer serves at this camp for seven weeks every summer. There are seven camp sessions...a new one starts each week. I was told that volunteering at Camp I am Special is so popular that 400 people are on a waiting list to spend time with these autistic kids. 

This is a non-denominational program. People from all faiths are welcome. I hope this can be a positive resource for some of you. 

Blessings!

Sunset on The St. John's River




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Self Injury, Cutting & Autism Pt 2

Last weekend, I told the story of how I had developed a twenty year addiction to cutting. Today, I am going to share how that addiction abruptly ended. 

First, I told a therapist about my problem. Amazingly, I had kept quiet about this since it all started. Shame is an effective silencer, but I struggled even more deeply with the knowledge that I kept willfully harming the body God created for me in love. 

My counselor was honest in that she said I had less than a 10% chance of being able to quit hurting myself (although I do not know where that kind of statistical data comes from) because I had been doing it for so long. But she gave me a book to read  by Dr. Marsha Linehan which included a chapter on brain chemistry and something called Emotional Baseline Theory. 

In short, I learned I did not cut myself because I was mentally ill. Rather, when aroused by excessive emotion, my brain chemistry took days and days to return to baseline, unlike a regular person whose brain could get back to its baseline in just a few minutes after an emotional upset.

I also learned that any shocking injury to the body produces a flood of neurotransmitters which restore a person's brain chemistry within seconds. This is what happened to me, and why I was hooked so early and easily. Overwhelming feelings of shame and anger were replaced with instant peace when I cut. The difference in my emotions was hard to ignore.

But as it turns out, holding some ice cubes in the palm of the hand or standing on cold concrete with bare feet will produce the same chemical effect as cutting. When I read that, I knew I would never choose to injure myself ever again.

And as of June 1, 2002, I never have. Not only that, but somehow I bear no scars. I should be covered in them, but there is no trace of what held me prisoner for so long. 

God is good. When we are ready to be healed, He is ready to answer. 

Be blessed. 

Kelly

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Self Injury, Cutting & Autism


Nancy Stafford


A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Nancy Stafford (from TV's Matlock) at a women's conference here in Jacksonville. A woman of deep faith, she travels around the world to teach hurting women and girls of God's healing love

Perhaps even more importantly, she takes the time to listen to the stories of the women who come to hear her. And after listening to me, Nancy encouraged me to share the following part of my life for those who might need to hear it. 

In 1981, when I was ten, a phone booth near my house shattered. Upon seeing the mess, I had wondered if the glass was truly "safe" as it was labeled, so without a thought I ran my finger over a piece. Not surprisingly, my blood instantly flowed. 

Photo by: Rolando Pujol
I was first diagnosed with major clinical depression at age 13 but had been suffering with it for years when I encountered the phone booth. So while my finger bled, it wasn't hard to notice that my feelings of pain and anguish suddenly disappeared. As a result, I would spend the next twenty years of my life cutting myself open to deal with emotions too powerful to handle any other way. 

Self injury is common among people with autism. It's also common among other groups of people who are suffering with overwhelming pain inside. And cutting, a now popular form of self injury, can be deadly. I was headed down that road. Over time the episodes grew more frequent. I also made longer, deeper cuts and it finally became impossible to count how many I even made. The danger of cutting into a major vein or artery became very real. Plus hepatitis was a constant threat because I always used dirty, broken glass off the street to slice through my skin. 
 
People actually cut to live--not to die. But in the end addictions of all kinds lead to death no matter what kind of life they offer in the beginning. On the edge of destruction, I needed help to bring this season of my life to a close, and in the next post on Tuesday, I will share just how that happened.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Emotional Healing & Autism




The worse I feel inside, the more technical I want to be when writing a post. Guess that's an attempt to use intellect to cover up what is inside of my heart. 

It's easy to do because for a long time, I just didn't feel much of anything. If something positive or negative happened to me, in a day or two the feelings of that event would fade, and no matter what, I couldn't remember how I felt--about anything. 

But...I don't have this problem anymore. In fact, what's going on now is that the pain from my past is sort of in overdrive right now. 

The truth is, and I will write about this more later, when I was somewhere around a year old, my mother began to be abusive toward me. And my aunt, who was named my godmother abandoned me also despite knowing what was happening in my life. 

Some families do not have the financial means to help themselves or their children. This was not the case for me. The things that happened to me were a direct result of choice. And then if that wasn't enough, blame was heaped upon me "for having something wrong with you" as if I just thought being autistic was just such an irresistibly fabulous idea. 

The way I was treated and rejected is the force behind this blog. I was reminded of this yesterday that nothing less than perfection is acceptable in my family. But that is what is truly unacceptable. And to continue to wound people from a weak and limited point of view because we choose to not understand or to pray for Jesus to love others through us if and when we can't is equally unacceptable. 

We forgive those who trespass against us. But we learn from the trespasses themselves--we ask God for His mercy that He would transform us to be more like Him. We ask Him to help us not to wound others as we have been wounded. 

Rejection hurts. Especially when the same kind continues for 42 years. Enough is enough.

But feeling my feelings is a freedom I haven't had until now. And that is healing.

A tip when praying for the healing of emotional memory: Target the temporal lobe of the brain in your prayers. This is where emotions are recorded in the human brain. Autistic people have feelings. Those feelings just need to be accessed.

Blessings.