Monday, January 17, 2011

Prayer for Joanne Heim's Healing

Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Joanne Heim. Perhaps you haven't either, so I'll fill you in.

She is the author of The Simple Wife as well as a few other Christian books. And last week, at the age of 38, she suffered a massive stroke.

She survived but the right side of her brain continues to swell. Doctors are doing all they can to keep her in a coma until the swelling subsides. In the meantime, her family is calling on you--all of you who pray for healing, to please get down on your knees to lift this sweet woman, her husband, and two young children up to the Lord.

Lord Jesus, there is nothing I can say in terms of trying to understand what You want to accomplish through all of this. In fact, when You say the laborers are so few, I sometimes wonder why You don't do more to protect those who do love to serve You. I say this with a trembling heart, knowing full well You are sovereign and indeed watch over Your flock with a loving and protective gaze. I also know You will stop at nothing to bring glory and honor to Your name, so please forgive me for the questions that live on in my heart, O Father. Despite my confusion, I still praise Your Holy name, Jesus.

Gracious Lord, I lift up Joanne Heim and her entire family to You now. I ask for You to allow them to see Your signs and wonders in this situation. I ask Lord for You to perform miracle after miracle, so that they may never forget the good works You have done and will continue to do. I ask that You sustain this family in practical ways--that You somehow give them rest, financial security, food, and the peace that only You can bring.

I ask, Lord, for the impossible. I ask for You to reduce the swelling in Joanne's brain and for You to restore the brain tissue in her head as it was before the stroke. I ask that there be no further threats of blood clots. Please restore all of her vital signs to normal. Allow her to maintain her speech and mobility, Father.

I further ask, Jesus, that You would prevent further attack against the head and brains of your children. This area of the human body seems to be a target of the enemy right now, but we bind him by the power and authority of Your name, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray for Toben, Joanne's husband, that you preserve him perfectly throughout the remainder of this journey, Lord. You can do it. There is nothing You cannot do. Nothing at all. Let Toben feel Your love for him. Let him see Your face and the faces of the angels, Lord, who are already there ministering to him. Loose Your love, O Lord.

I pray for Joanne's children, Lord. Bring loving women into their lives who can stand in the gap for Joanne right now in terms of lovingly meeting their physical and even emotional needs so that they may know Your love for them, Father. You care for this family. Thank you, Jesus. And in Your name, I pray all of these things. Amen.

If you would like to know more about how you can help the Heim family, please click on the badge on the top right of my blog. It says, "Praying for Joanne" and is the same picture that is featured in this post. Thank you and God bless you all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ministry & Autism

The comment I most often hear from parents of children with autism is, "I would like to go to church, but my son/daughter tends to be disruptive so we stay home."

And in the case of adults with autism or Asperger Syndrome, it is not uncommon to find that we simply do not fit in with our Christian peers so we tend to avoid fellowship, too.

I think about this problem often because healing usually takes place in church. And healing ministry for people with autism, I expect, is shortly going to be a dire need if it is not already.

Years ago, I met a mother who was embarrassed to bring her deaf son, a teenager, to church for fear he would cause a scene. Her refusal to let him be around other people upset me. I asked her to let him come anyway, and after a good long while she relented.

The very Sunday this boy came to church, while standing next to me, he began to shriek (so he did make a scene) while the rest of us worshipped. I asked (on paper), "What's wrong?" He wrote, "Nothing! I just heard the words God and Jesus in that song. That's all." Well, that was a scene worth making.

God opened up his ears just for a moment, but a week later he (perfectly) spoke his first words after being able to hear for a day. About a month later, after receiving more prayer, he was able to hear permanently.

There were times when Jesus went to people in order to heal them, but most of the time people sought Him out. They went where He was. I think the same is true today. The Holy Spirit can meet us where we are without us seeking Him, but most often if we want His touch, we need to go where He is.

People with autism and their families need to be in church. They need to be able to talk with prayer ministers trained to pray for people with cognitive disabilities. And finally, they need to be able to attend healing conferences curtailed to some of their differences so they have the chance to fully experience all of the wonderful happenings that take place at such events.

In Jesus' day, women and children were considered the dregs of society. The children, especially, were rebuked when they tried to get close to Jesus. Instead of getting upset, however, the Lord said, "Let the little children come unto me." He wanted to hold them and love them.

Today, regardless of age, people with a diagnosis of autism are now treated like the dregs of society in a church atmosphere. This must change. Jesus has His arms stretched open wide for all of the lost and hurting, and He is longing for us all to walk straight into them.

If you are a parent sitting home on Sundays, my heart is with you. Be encouraged and also remember to be willing to forgive those who do not understand. Overcome evil (exclusion from church) with good. The Lord will reward you. He will meet you where you are.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Autism & Vaccines

So yesterday, or maybe even the day before, Dr. Andrew Wakefield's research linking autism with vaccines was found to be an "elaborate fraud."

Forgive me for being out of the loop, but I thought this was determined months ago, if not longer.

At any rate, I have to say the new findings please me. While I do believe the anecdotal reports of parents who have seen their childrens' behavior change after they received a vaccination, I do not believe it is the vaccine itself causing the problem.

What is frustrating and heartbreaking to so many of us is that it is not likely that autism truly has a singular cause. I think a combination of a number of genetic factors as well as environmental ones create something of a perfect storm in a child probably born with a brain already predisposed to neurological anomalies.

In other words, I see the development of autism something like a gun, a bullet, and a trigger finger. Separately they cannot do damage. Put the three together, however, and you have an entirely different story.

Additionally, here is something the scientific community and lay people alike tend to overlook when trying to explain the rise in autism.  In fact, I've never heard anyone mention this, but thirty some years ago the world's population was about 3 billion. Now we are pushing 7 billion.

Scientists now know that autistic people get married. They have children. It therefore stands to reason that if the world's population is growing, so is the population of autistic children. Even if parents are not autistic themselves, I would be anxious to see if at least one of them has ADD or perhaps other neurological issues such as dyslexia or narcolepsy. Combined with the genes of the other parent, I think these conditions can worsen in the next generation, even if it is just one parent with a diagnosed neurological disorder.

I am not indicting anyone here. I want you all to know that. Also, I am not opposed to science in any way whatsoever. The issue here, concerning vaccines, is that even if Dr. Wakefield had been a little (or a lot) more credible, his experiment (which really had nothing to do with vaccines) still should never have been considered valid. The sample size in his study was simply much too small. It never should have been published.

Unfortunately, science is not immune to pride or greed. There is a race to find a cause and a cure for autism, and in this case the person or people who are able to do that will go down in history. They most certainly will be some of the most famous scientists to have ever lived.

Try to keep these things in mind when looking over the newest research. I'm not saying to avoid feeling encouraged if you see something that can be helpful for your children. Just remember to guard your heart and your child's heart, too. Sometimes the treatments and therapies can be as traumatic as the condition itself.

Be blessed today. I know this is hard and perhaps you don't feel like you will ever get out of the desert. My heart is with you. I am still wandering in it, too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

So it's another new year, and today I've got two things on my mind. Can you guess what they are?

Being real and loving one another.

The first thoughts came to life the other day while reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. She (Ehrenreich) goes undercover to see what it takes to land and keep a plush corporate job and in the process she learns that landing that big, beautiful dream job means she has to tell a boat load of lies about herself to get it. 

We wonder why people have very little intergrity today, but why do we wonder? Even beginning in childhood we are taught that if you want to get ahead, you have to be anything but yourself. Not even a better a version of yourself. Just someone else entirely.

Uh, nope. Not interested thank you. I want to be myself. What about you? Do you know who you are or what's inside of you, or have you fashioned yourself into the image someone else thinks you should be? Think about it.

As for loving one another, it's simple really. Jesus said if we loved Him we would keep His commandments. And He commands us to love each other.

Up until a few years ago, however, I loved no one at all. I was a Christian, but I just didn't care. Still, I had an intellectual understanding of the Bible and one day, 1st Corinthians 13 really began to bother me. The truth of it resonated deep within me. If I didn't love others, I was nothing before God.

The thought of this made my blood run cold.

In response, I cried out to the Lord to give me compassion for His people. He answered on the spot. I was only able to love just one other person then, but it was a start. And He's been building on that foundational prayer ever since.

The lesson here is this: A diagnosis of autism does not mean you cannot or (dare I say) even should not have a heart of compassion. Regardless of what's going on in my brain, if I understand what the Lord's word means, I can pray for everything I lack to be added to me. When we ask, we receive. I know I do.

Yesterday I had lunch with a new friend. He said, "When I first met you, I thought you were really, really nice. Seriously. Well, either that or you are on Xanax (I assured him I am not). I wasn't sure which (he has no problems with honesty), but you never know these days."

Jesus makes us look different to the world. Okay, so the world thinks we are on anti-anxeity medication in order to explain the difference, but I'll take it!

Anyone, regardless of who you are, or what you've been through or have even been diagnosed with, can be changed into the real you by the love and power of Jesus Christ. And in turn, when you are transformed, then you can go into the world and help others become transformed, too! That's how you love in the Name of Jesus.

May you all seek your healing this year and find it abundantly!