Friday, December 25, 2015

The Gift of Friendship

I am writing about friendship today because I know this issue is on the heart of every mother who has a child with autism. You worry and wonder if your son or daughter is ever going to experience the joy of relationship.

To be honest, beginning last year I began to worry and wonder about this very same thing myself. While I interact with people everyday and communicate with them on deep and even intimate levels, it wasn't enough to generate friendship with anyone. After awhile that realization became disheartening.

But I'm learning how to write down my prayers, so I asked God for a friend (on precisely 11/24/15) and told Him the exact qualities I wanted in that friend.

Well, I'm here to say that before I knew it, that prayer was answered--in its entirety. Again to be honest, my mind is still completely blown. But my heart is overjoyed. This has been a long time coming.

Parents, you are right to want this for your children. Do not stop praying for healing so friendship can happen. They need other people. And other people really need them.

Life is hard, but doing it with others turns the dreariness of life into a world of color and joy.

Blessings to you and may the majesty of Christmas rule and reign in your heart today. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Forgive Me, Forgive You

To turn the other cheek is so hard
When the other cheek is already bruised...

Those are a couple of lines from an old Steve Camp tune--a song that readily came to mind today after being mocked by someone who I see only rarely and really don't know at all. 

After the encounter my initial thoughts ranged from, How. Long. O. Lord? to Why do people keep treating me like this? In fact, why does ANYONE treat anybody else like this? 

The fact is I don't know, and no answer to that question is either good or acceptable. Truthfully, at some point or another, we all lose our patience with people we know and deeply love. It never feels good, but this kind of imperfection makes sense to me. It's the random unkindness and blatant disregard for complete strangers that breaks my heart, whether it happens to me or to anyone else around me.

See, a lack of kindness at its core is where hatred is birthed. The violence that we see all around us comes from that hatred which starts or takes root by an agreement with one's self to be unkind. This thought generates a deep sadness in me. Hating someone is a choice, which more and more people choose everyday.

Although deeply pained and wanting to put this whole incident out of my mind, I ended up thinking about this situation through a bit more, and I finally accepted that in Christ, there's only one answer. It is to first forgive and then to respond to the mandate that we go ahead and turn the other bruised cheek just so that same person can slap it hard, too. No. Matter. What. 

Father, only You can give me the strength to do that because I only want to retaliate right now. I can't, on my own, love people who insult me. Only you can give me strength to bless when all I want to do is to curse. Only You can use this as an opportunity for me to become more like please. Please help me. 

Thank You, Holy Spirit for comforting me today and always. And I'll just say it--to the acquaintance who gave me something interesting to think about today--God bless you and may He richly pour out His mercy upon you. I pray He continues to prosper you and to bring you joy and peace wherever you go. Thank you for your words to me. Something good is already springing forth out of the pain...I've learned once again through this that God is indeed good. 

Blessings to all of you who are suffering tonight. May the Lord be with you always! 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Healing vs. Perfectionism

People, once they are healed, will have emotional wounds to deal with eventually. 

It's just a given. Disability of any kind usually leads to rejection and social isolation. Being an outcast hurts, and the only way to cope is to either literally withdraw from the world, or withdraw by creating a false persona. Most people subconsciously opt to do the latter because total isolation is simply too painful. 

To ease the pain, a quest for perfectionism begins, and--it's just a thought--but this quest alone may initially bring people to healing ministries. Why? Because if you are healed, you are whole, and if you are whole, you are acceptable. You are acceptable because you are, in the sense that you now look and act like others around you, perfect. 

Maybe that's how you think it should go. Maybe you think that's how it would go, just doesn't. And when that realization hits, you have to go somewhere to deal with the pain of still not being perfect even though you may look that way on the outside.

So, then, if there is no way to ever truly be whole, should a person pray to Jesus for healing or accept their brokenness and just play the hand life gave them? 

This is an easy question to answer.

We should always pray for healing because, in a nutshell, healing is real. It does alleviate a great deal of pain, and it is a gift that God gives us, and "gives" is the operative word here. We are recipients of grace and mercy. The healing is not earned. We receive it because we are loved by our Father and Creator. 

Perfectionism on the other hand, is striving. We receive nothing. Instead, we try with effort and might to take something from the world around us. I say "try" because the attempt to extract love, acceptance, and approval from others and from God will always be futile. We will always fail. And the result of that failure is, we will never be real...

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love--outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves--the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most people in the world there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to this cult of shadow is what is called a life of sin. ~Thomas Merton

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Beloved Enemies

On the (almost) eve of my 44th birthday, I cannot help but sit and marvel over what God has done in my life, particularly over the last eight years.

Up until that time, it was as if I was invisible. At times I didn't even feel human. I drifted from day to day with no thoughts of a future and often wondered how my heart continued to beat through the night. I had no conscious will to live, but something in me kept hanging on. At times, I truly resented that part of myself.

But one day, I happened to attend a conference featuring Judith MacNutt. While listening to her speak, a myriad of dormant feelings began to awaken in me. I didn't leave that conference healed, but I did leave with new signs of life stirring around in my heart. And I didn't want to die anymore.

My journey to healing officially began then, and I endeavored to work intensely to recover. Interestingly enough, it was during this same period of time that I had accrued almost overnight, and for the first time ever, enemies. And not just one. They appeared everywhere. Especially at church.

Now, when I talk to people about having enemies, their eyes grow wide with fear. They think I'm about to engage in a long saga about some kind of victimization, and naturally (and to their credit), they don't want to hear the story...but read on because this is not that kind of story.

No. I am here to say that the most joyful revelation I have had, and it came only recently, is that all of those enemies that came out of the woodwork eight years ago, have been the biggest and most tremendous blessings I could ever experience.

My enemies taught me how to forgive. How to love. How to persevere. How to bless. How to wait. How to praise. How to give. How to cry. How to pray. How to rejoice in suffering. How to obey. You brought meaning, focus, and purpose to an empty wasteland of a life. I am alive because of you. Thriving because of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have given to me more than anybody else ever could. Truly, I say to you, may the Lord bless you and keep you and to make his face shine upon you. You are beloved.

Enemies are nothing to fear. In fact, their sudden appearance generally signals to you that God, too, has just shown up in your life. And where He is, victory, growth, change, and healing are never far behind! Thank You, God, for the gift of a restored life.

On the contrary, "If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." ~Romans 19:20

More will love them.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

You Are Not the "A" Word

Word Art Created by A&J Reader, JE. Thank you!
A priest said that to me not too long ago. Taken aback somewhat, I thought, "Well, I haven't really ever seen myself as the 'A' word." Then I realized he didn't mean that "A" word. He meant autistic and added straightforwardly, "That chapter in your life is through. You are healed. You have an entirely new identity in Christ."

As Nigel spoke, I didn't say much. He prays for the healing of others constantly. He has seen miracles and he has heard all the stories of healing miracles--for decades now. He also knows when someone shares a testimony that does not ring true. I had wondered for some time if he thought I fell into that category. Now I know he doesn't. And to hear that declaration spoken over me, "You are healed..." Well, I didn't think it would make all that much difference in how I thought or felt about myself, but it seems to be making all the difference in the world right now. 

I marvel at God's ability to transform. It's such a mystery--just like our physical growth. As children we grew everyday. Yet, we couldn't feel it. We couldn't see it, either. But one day out of the blue when we put on some pants, we found them to be three inches too short. Exposed ankles--and nothing else gave our growth away--nothing we could internally or definitively measure, anyway. 

So it is with healing. We wait, we watch, we pray, and if asked we would probably swear we would be able to recognize the moment that "big" change occurred. If you are one those people, that is wonderful for you, but most of us I would venture to guess would be just as in the dark as a newly lanky child who sprang up overnight after waiting for what seemed like an eternity to grow. I know that's where I am. In the dark. Things have happened. I have grown...but how...I know not. 

But what I do know is this: I am not the "A" word anymore. Praise be to the Lord God Our Healer! Thank You, thank You, Jesus. Your love leaves me speechless.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Baby Steps

Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss in What About Bob?

I think even Scripture tells us not to despise small beginnings but because I do not, at the moment, feel particularly motivated to look it up, let's just say that yes, somewhere in the Bible this profound and marvelous truth does indeed appear.

For this reason, I am not despising my recent move which happened a few days ago. Until then I lived in an apartment owned by my employers which they generously provided for me for three months. Now I live 7 miles down the road in an apartment over a three car garage.

Being new to the area and still showing next to no skill in the social networking department, finding an affordable place to live was a huge concern for me. But I prayed and managed to get a feel for what I wanted for this next season in my life. 

Every single prayer regarding my move was answered. I wanted simplicity but independence. I wanted to put more of my healing to the test but not feel overwhelmed. Again, this is exactly what was given to me, and my heart is full of gratitude. My spirit is full of awe. And I am in the beginning phases of understanding what it means to feel humbled by God when the heavens finally open up after they seemed like brass for the past couple of decades. 

God...bless this home and the couple who heard from You to provide me for exactly what I needed. Let your Holy Spirit rule and reign here, and let your love flow from this place. May all who enter here experience Your healing and Your presence. You are truly an amazing Father! 

Thank you, Jesus, for all that You give and all that You gave. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Context is Key

Pretty much every mature Christian knows Jeremiah 29:11 by heart. This verse is probably one of the most quoted in all of Scripture. It's good to know God's word off the top of our heads, but sometimes when we do, it's easy to gloss over other verses that are just as pertinent. While we do that hurried half reading, half skimming the Bible, we can easily miss out on some much needed additional encouragement. 

Jeremiah wrote this famed promise in a letter addressed to the people of Judah who had just been exiled from Jerusalem. While they expected to return immediately, Jeremiah exhorted God's people to settle down, marry, and build homes in Babylon. He explained to the Judeans they would be in captivity for seventy years. 

Seventy years! What crushing news. This is why God, in essence, said to His people, "Hey! I know that all seems lost--that you think this is the end--but you are wrong! When it's all said and done, I am going to fulfill all that I've promised you!!! Keep your chin up and carry on!"

Today, realizing this promise came from the context of such a devastating captivity made me think of the hopelessness people feel when they think about the captivity in which their children with autism live. Hope seems far away; the future bleak. 

But what if you are a parent who knows in your heart of hearts that healing was promised to your son or daughter? What if you had a dream that was so real there was no mistaking the contents of that dream in which you received a promise of healing?

"Yes, I had that dream, many years have passed. It must not have been real." Or simply, "It's too late. It will never happen." 

I know how frustrating and confusing this can be, but just the other day, I heard a response to this very same lament and it was simply this: "The longer you have to wait for your healing, the bigger the testimony when it finally comes."

To this response, my heart says, "Amen and amen!!!" 

By the way, my favorite part of Jeremiah 29 is not actually verse eleven. What I love immediately follows: Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you [...] and bring you back from captivity. 

Like I said, context is key. A glorious promise erupted from crippling loss. And in that loss, God asked his people to live in peace in a strange land for decades.Yet in the end, He said He would be back to "come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place." 

I don't know about you, but all of that--the rest of those verses surrounding Jeremiah 29:11 makes me smile. Why? Because waiting is hard, especially when the suffering never seems to end. But I want you to know, God has not forgotten you. Keep praying and seeking. He will be found by you. God loves you. 

May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you today. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Evidence of Healing

I have noticed some changes in my thinking and doing lately. I thought sharing those changes might encourage some of you. Here we go:
  • Ten years ago, my auditory memory was about the same as a four-year-old's (according to cognitive testing results). I could not even recall two consecutive numbers just seconds after they were read to me. This week, I have been able to memorize the first 17 verses of Psalm 103. This is the healing of auditory working memory.  
  • For the last six weeks, I have been able to fall asleep in 15-30 minutes. Until then, it usually took one to two hours--if I fell asleep at all. Many times I didn't. This is healing of circadian rhythms and the timely release of melatonin in the brain. 
  • I am becoming aware of small muscle groups throughout my body--primarily in my face and lips, hands, and in my back. Consequently, my speech is beginning to change as I stop putting a heavy emphasis on f's and s's. Speech volume is beginning to drop as I am now becoming aware of how much pressure I am putting on my throat as words come out. My posture is improving which is alleviating back pain. This is kinesthetic healing...awareness of movement. 
  • I am in the very beginning stages of learning how to plan small events for myself. This is the healing of executive function in the frontal lobes of the brain.        
Now, I want to say this did not happen overnight. I imagine that some of these changes have been a result of my new job, and the challenges it has placed on me stimulated weaker parts of my brain--this stimulation promotes brain healing. But the manifestation of these changes does appear to be noticeable to me at once. Further, the book pictured above has confirmed to me that this healing is really happening and more can be expected. 

As for me, right now,  I am just pleased and a little thrilled to be able to do things that I've attempted many times before but failed. It's a little bit like living in an old world that has suddenly been enhanced somehow. It's the same but clearer than it ever was. I especially love the changes in my sleeping! 

I keep writing about this healing for you! I am going to be 44 soon and am still changing! Do not give up praying for yourself or for your family. No matter how arduous it seems or how impatient you feel. Something always happens when we pray!

Journey on...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

All's Well That Ends Well


So, I decided to read Shakespeare for the first time in my life. As of this morning, I have completed the first act of "All's Well That Ends Well." The title just seemed to be so appropriate. 

The truth is, I have never really enjoyed British literature. The reason being is I never understood it. The syntax, the different spellings of familiar words, the unfamiliar words, and an enormous amount of innuendo found in Shakespeare's works were always completely beyond my comprehension. After the 11th grade, when he was required reading, I never gave Billy Boy another thought. 

Until yesterday that is. 

Because of and thanks to the brouhaha over Memorial Day weekend, I started to think some more about neuroplasticity.

I wondered if more cognitive healing was in the realm of possibility for me, which led me to a book by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young called, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain.

Her story is remarkable. In a nutshell, Arrowsmith-Young lived with learning disabilities galore that made some of my struggles look like a cake walk. Yet at the age of 27, she developed her own neurological exercises to strengthen the weaker areas of her brain, and she overcame each and every one of them. Then she developed a program to help others overcome their learning disabilities.

She mentioned, in her book, a person who could not plan, which is one of the problem areas I still deal with. This is an issue with the front left part of the brain, and according to Arrowsmith-Young, it can be strengthened by reading (for hours at a time!--this work is not for the faint of heart) fables, parables, and allegorical stories. 

I thought this was interesting because I have always hated fables, parables, and allegories. It was if I already unconsciously knew this was a weakness and thus made excuses ("They're just boring!" was often my prime declaration) to avoid such stories. 

But after reading the many accounts of Arrowsmith-Young's success, I decided this was going to be the summer of reading. The summer of diving deep into symbolism and not coming up for air until I understand this new world of ideas and thoughts. I don't know if it will cure my planning problem, but I know new connections will be created in my brain, and that can never hurt anyone!

I would encourage all of you to get your hands on The Woman Who Changed Her Brain. Nearly every single person she's written about who attended her school would have been diagnosed with autism in the U.S. 

What she does instead of looking at one encompassing diagnosis, is she identifies, based on cognitive testing, any number of learning disabilities a person (she does work with adults) may have. Believe it or not, at times, the cumulative effects of all of those disabilities do resemble autism (many of her students cannot speak when they come to her school), but she is proving, at least to me, that those she is working with are really not on the spectrum. It gives me pause as I wonder how many children in the United States are being misdiagnosed and are living without hope when something, in fact, may be done to change the course of these many lives.

As for me, I see glimmers of hope. I struggled through the first twenty minutes of my Shakespeare reading today, but--with dictionary in hand--as I continued, the reading became easier. After an hour or so, the plot of the play became clear, and the rhythm and meaning of the language no longer stumped me as it did so many years ago. For me, this is something worth celebrating!

Never quit learning friends. And never give up.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feelings & Autism

For as long as I can remember, my feelings have been strong. Not being one to enjoy a loss of balance, emotionally speaking, my feelings about my feelings have also been strong. The end result has always been an internal tug-of-war which generally stops me in my tracks until the emotional storms pass. Then life goes on. 

Yesterday I wrote a post while one of those storms raged. I was filled with disappointment, some despair, much impatience, anger, and more. I spoke of the pretentiousness I feel like encounter on a regular basis and wonder why no one else seems to see what is plainly a growing issue--with everyone--not just Christians, but I did target my particular demographic yesterday.

And I still do, but I want to go on record that I've been guilty (for most of my life) of being pretentious myself. Everything from my comments on Facebook (which I've stopped using), who I know, what I wear, to what I say and even what I do not say for a long time, have been tainted with a kind of self-righteousness that does not sit well with me anymore. In short, my insecurities, fears, and dreams have turned me into a bragger so I could gain the acceptance and approval of other people.

I do not think that the people I encountered this weekend meant to cause so much pain. I do not think they meant to cause any pain to be honest. They communicated pretty much the way anyone else does these days, and they are forgiven. Even so that doesn't mean that bragging, boasting, and excluding others is acceptable. It really isn't, except the only way to put an end to something is to realize it's been started in the first place. I don't think anyone really knows they've even gotten to this point.

This way of relating to others is part cultural, but also much of it stems from our fears. I think all of us are afraid of rejection and exclusion to the point we exalt ourselves as a way to fortify our emotions against the judgments of others--but if we are not fooling them, we at least may be drawn to the comfort of fooling ourselves.

We were made for relationship, however, and even since yesterday when I decided to stop spending social time with others, my throat has been hurting, my heart has been pounding, and my lymph nodes have become sore. My body is telling me that isolation hurts, so I am not sure how to handle all of this. For now, though, I still prefer to be by myself. 

As hard as this is, one of the things I'm enjoying in this process is that I'm learning not to judge my thoughts and feelings. It is taking a little bit longer for my emotions to level out but I think it's because I'm not forcing myself to "get over myself" in a hurry just to please other people who believe that a depressed Christian is somehow not living right. The longer I take to work through this, the more honest and peaceful the end result will be. I expect God to take this mess and make something beautiful out of in only the way that He can. He will make a way. I have to trust that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

To Disclose or Not to Disclose


Today was just one of those days. And so was yesterday. And the day before. Holidays mean time off from work and time off from work means well-meaning people want to include you on their trip to the beach or some other such place.

As old I am, this has yet to bode well...for so many reasons. Strangers begin to wonder why I'm single. And childless. Or why I'm not a globetrotting white collar worker because I am single and childless. When my answers exclude a diagnosis of autism but still do not satisfy, the quiet judging begins. Then dinnertime comes, and I find myself seated between people who suddenly decide it is fitting to speak over and around me. Never to me, and it becomes too much trouble for them to even make eye contact. 

How fun.

And then there was this morning, when I attended a prayer meeting for the third time time. Now, the other two ladies who come generally do not show up on time. And after their arrival, they usually talk quite a bit, so not much praying actually gets done. 

But I asked them for prayer this morning because my heart was still hurting from the weekend. Instead of listening and praying though, they impatiently looked at each other and spouted off scriptures and platitudes that were neither fitting nor helpful. 

Then later, one of the ladies told me their meetings were part of an agenda they had and my asking for prayer should have been reserved for a later time. They wanted to pray about other things.


In response to this latter case I decided to disclose my diagnosis, but only to let these ladies know that I would not be returning to pray. Autism is not my identity, and I do not need people to see me through that lens anymore. I simply shared to give them a bit of an explanation of any perceived communication differences.

Actually, I really do not have that much trouble understanding other people, but in my early years, my mother chose to express anger with the silent treatment, which was often. This set the stage for my prayer life. I needed someone to talk to and God was the Person who was always willing to hear me. As a result, relationship with Him was firmly built. To this day, I pray constantly, and at this point in time, I cannot live without doing so. 

Instead, regarding relationship challenges, I find that the communication gap between myself and others comes not from me not knowing what to say, nor from a misunderstanding about what is being said. Rather, I think the old me is sort of fading away and what was once important to me really isn't anymore. But I think these same things are still important to just about everyone I know.

I suppose I could or should stay silent, but like all human beings, I desire to have closeness with others. But after today...and this weekend, I think it's just time to throw in the towel. When every single social activity ends in tears, it's time to quit trying. Not quit life--except for being alone, life is pretty good right now. No...I mean it's time to quit people. So many are so unkind and thoughtless. And pretentious.

I know they know not what they do, but sometimes too much is just too much. Love is not on the mind of most Christians and really, that's just sad no matter how you roll the dice. 

An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure. ~Drum Eatenton, the Poet Laureate of Dogwood Lane.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Francis.

This post is a little late in coming as Francis MacNutt, founder of Christian Healing Ministries, celebrated his 90th birthday on April 22nd. Still, I wanted to take a moment and give thanks to God for the life of this man. Lately, I have thought much about him and am coming to realize that the restoration and now the wide scope of the modern day healing ministry have pretty much everything to do with Francis. 

Since a great deal of his biographical information can easily be found on line, I am going to skip over those particulars. What I want to mention here is the consistency in Francis' choices to make sacrifices to God that often resulted in much personal pain for him and later his entire family. Because of those sacrifices, however, thousands upon thousands of people all around the world, over the last 40 years, have been freed from their chains. And now they, too, can serve God in the capacity in which they were first called.

I am one of those people and to say I am grateful is a supreme understatement. Yet to not say it as well as a thank you to Francis for his life's work and devotion to Jesus Christ, at this point in time, would be an unacceptable oversight on my part.

The footsteps of a righteous man are ordered. Thank you, Francis, for your "yes" to God and walking on the path He chose just for you. God bless you both now and forevermore!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Healing Journey Continues

I have experienced some of the biggest changes of my life all in the last two weeks or so. None of them were expected, but I feel like some of my dreams are possibly in the beginning stages of coming true. 

In the late summer, I had returned to South Carolina, my former home state, thinking that I had healed enough emotionally and cognitively to rejoin my peers and try to resume the life I used to live there, but better, of course. 

Yet it did not take me too long to realize that my dream had been an old one, and God had opened my eyes to greater and deeper desires to live for Him with a complete devotion. There is just something about the confines of home that do not allow a person to pursue those dreams to the fullest, and so I began to pray about the possibility of going somewhere else, but where...I knew not. 

But just a couple of weeks ago, an email from a man in Virginia showed up in my inbox. The message was a job offer. I met this individual at a prayer meeting and did not know at the time that he was the president and CEO of a faith-based retirement community.

I had not worked since receiving the ASD diagnosis. I suppose I had gotten to the point where deep down I was not sure if steady employment was even possible for me. Yet this job was an opportunity of a lifetime. My healing journey had stalled out in a huge way, but this was the jump start I needed to resume taking those steps forward into a healthy, whole life. 

My heart and my spirit give thanks and praise to God for these new chances and surroundings (since I clearly had to move here to Virginia, which is beautiful!). My gratitude towards this gentleman, his church, pastor and family is really more than I can express. They have been so loving and welcoming. The same is even true of all the people with whom I work. They are remarkably kind. 

I have a long way to go on this road to recovery. But God has brought me a long way all at the same time. He is good and He is able to do that which He said He would do. 

And that which He started in you, He is also able to complete. Keep pursuing your dreams. Pray for God to restore your hope and to fulfill your longings. He cares about them. And He loves you. 

Blessings and peace. 


Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Open Letter to Barbara S. Boatwright

First, my apologies to those who come here for information and prayers for the healing of autism. Once in awhile, I write of personal matters although those tend to be people and relationship oriented, so in a sense, even those posts document the healing-of-autism journey! Thank you for your patience. 

Now to the heart of the matter. 

Dear Barbara, 

Because our lives continue to take us in completely different directions, I have not had the opportunity to catch up with you in person. Looking ahead, it appears as if this will still be the case in the weeks and months to come, so I am using a different approach to speak to you albeit this is an unconventional one. 

When our paths first crossed, I had been newly diagnosed with autism, and bitterness over that label had already begun to set in. Yet God saw to it to briefly put me into a church where I would finally encounter Him, and there He would begin the arduous work of beginning to unravel the ties that bound me as well as shatter the chains that left me without life and hope. 

There you introduced me to the concepts of inner healing, generational healing, John Paul Jackson and all of his work, Judith MacNutt, healing prayer, and the list goes on and on. Despite the darkness that pretty much consumed me, I was able to still see the truth in everything you presented to me, and those truths ended up turning my life upside down. 

But emotionally, I was a wasteland. And it took me having to leave not just our church but an entire community to learn just how broken my heart really was. It was shattered, and except for the fact that our Lord can do anything, it really was beyond repair--in least in terms of human standards. 

Out of my brokenness, I acted irresponsibly and even recklessly. It was not until two years ago when I read the writings of Leanne Payne did I truly understand this as well as the depths of my dependency upon people to bring me healing, and of my constant desire to "bend" to others as well as my refusal to make myself "vertical" before the Son (anyone familiar with L.P. will understand this reference. For brevity's sake, I will not explain it, but should you research her concept, you--anyone reading this today--will find it to be life changing).

I spent my remaining time alone working and praying my way through her books, letting God heal me Himself, and in the end, emerged more whole and Christ-centered than I ever could have imagined. I am so profoundly grateful. 

After my dependence on others for healing left me, I went on to take the first three levels of healing prayer at CHM, and there I experienced more deliverance and inner healing, and I began to see from God's perspective, my new identity in Him. I do have a new identity in Him, and I am committed to living it out because it is not for my sake that He called me to be His. It is for the sake of others who need Him just as much as I do. 

Once my healing began to take root, I could plainly see the things you mentioned to me in an attempt to teach me God's ways were all true. Your ideas were life giving. All of your decisions--even the harder ones--led to my freedom, which is still increasing day by day. I want you to understand that I never found fault with you. I sensed that something good would come out of the pain, and it did. 

I also knew that my lack of anger was a unique reaction and that is why it caught my attention. Historically, I was never one to respond to what looked like rejection with any type of grace, so I prayed about it and asked God to show me His will in all that transpired. He did beyond any measure I could have ever conceived of on my own. 

I hope you will choose to believe that God has healed me considerably because this is evidence of His presence among us, and because we see Him we can be strengthened, gain hope, and pray with a more fervent faith for others who are suffering. Our Lord is still a healer. And you, being in the healing profession may be encouraged to know that even the most far gone people can be brought back from the brink. How much easier then should it be for you to pray for those who are not so far gone? Do pray for and with them. Walk in the call that has been placed upon your own life.

So, thank you that for the brief time you were in my life, you managed to open the door to a whole new world for me. I have no idea where this journey will take me, but you will always be with me. You will be remembered with gratitude, and when I pray for you, you will always receive a blessing. Our Father truly delights in you. 



We are all family in Christ Jesus, therefore consider: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." ~ 1Cor 13:4-7

Love well, my friends. Love well. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Goodbye John Paul

Every culture and social sphere has those people. People who are just known by all the others in those same spheres. There seems to be, in human nature, a need to just zero in on someone for no other reason than to simply admire them. In the Christian realm, John Paul Jackson, who died today, was that person--or at least one of them. 

Yesterday, when I wrote the original text (well the first paragraph up there is still from my original blog entry) for this post, I more or less had in mind not John Paul but my memories of the way people admired him and others like him. For the most part, those memories are not overtly positive, and I personally believe admiring leaders is actually a burden to them in the long run. That is why I do not do it. On the other hand, I am fiercely loyal. 

Anyway, in my attempt to communicate why I choose not to be in awe of other people's fame, I feel like disrespect for a whole array of individuals was imparted instead. I can't let those words stand so they are gone now.

My problem was and still is that I never knew John Paul Jackson, yet his sudden departure from this life has left my heart in acute pain. I think I was a little angry about that yesterday. I do not feel like I have the right to mourn for someone I don't know. 

Except not mourning has proven not to be an option. Tears keep falling out of my eyes even when I will them to stay in. 

Maybe when I was not looking he became a father in the faith. I don't know. Truthfully, most of the time I listened to him my tendency was to mentally argue most of his points. Then I would begrudgingly admit he was right (well, not all the time, but usually) and go through the same thing a few days later. I have been watching him weekly on youTube and Streams for four years now. 

When you feel some dissonance over what another person is talking about for that long I guess you do not pay attention to the love that creeps in for that same person. But I guess that is what happened to me. And to many other people around the world, too...

John Paul Jackson, you have seen your Father's face. You are finally in His arms. God Bless you, John Paul, and thank you for your faithful service to Our Lord, Savior, and King--Jesus Christ. You ran a most excellent race. Peace be with your family, and God, bless them richly with your comfort and care, too. Not just now but forever. 

You are and will be sorely missed.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Psalm 46:10

Whether it is during my favorite show Major Crimes (sorry Downton Abbey fans), or written in a Facebook post, lately "Be still and know that I am God," keeps showing up in the unlikeliest of places. 

Ever the anxious person, I have come to realize that this scripture is more than a nice sentiment to calm jumpy nerves. Rather this is a command and now I see that until I learn to submit to it, there will be no forward movement in my life. 

Why? Because everything else is striving. It's human effort. The Hebrew translation of "be still" is rapha which means to cause yourselves to let go or "let yourselves become weak." Poetically it even means "the place of the dead." 

What if this means to cause yourselves to become weak to the point that you appear dead? 

Why would we ever do that? Because the Hebrew name of God in this passage is, Ribbano Shei Olam, which means Master of the Universe. Basically, we let go to learn of God's salvation (which is amazingly spectacular) rather than to continue to trust in our own attempts to save ourselves which do not even pale in comparison. 

Also, the present meaning of the verb to know is different than how the ancient Hebrews understood it. 

In our Western culture to know something basically means we have memorized a fact. We know that apples grow on trees for instance. To the Hebrews, however, to know something means to experience it. We know God parted the Red Sea because we remember this has been written in Scripture. The Israelites knew it because they were standing on the bottom of the dry Red Sea floor while giant walls of water towered over them to their left and to their right. 

God is not asking us to cognitively remember the fact that He is good. He is asking us to be still in order to experience His goodness that we may know in our hearts how lovely He is. For our sake. Not for His. He knows He is good. But this...this is for our healing. 

The hardest about being still for me is that it stirs up the ire of friends. They do not verbalize it, but it is so apparent they constantly strain to keep the question, "Why are you not doing anything?" from tumbling out of their lips. My stillness frustrates them!

I understand, yet even so, I cannot help but think of a growing baby in a womb. Does a mother really need to do anything but to eat and rest for her child to develop in her body? No. And so it is with our healing and faith. Things come together in a secret, dark place usually without our awareness and when it is time, what has developed and matured will be brought forth into the light. God will make it happen and when He does, it His Name that is to be praised. Not ours. 

So be still today, and know He is God. Our Father loves you. And He has great things in store for you. Your lives matter.

Thank you, Hebrew for Christians, for your notes on Psalm 46:10!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How One Man's Hobby Shaped Our Lives

Uncle Harold's Fly Tying Kit
Uncle Harold did not set out to become a household name. In fact, he really did not like people all that much. My great-uncle was grouchy (think Walter Mathau in Grumpy Old Men), anti-social, and sort of reclusive. Oh, and if he had been a seven-year-old today, he would I am almost certain, have a diagnosis of autism. I am equally as certain, had this been the case...had he been a child during this generation, he never would have done much with his life later as an adult.

He was born in another time, however, when it was not so unusual to have overdeveloped interests in things like fishing and baseball. I imagine he started to make his flies as a way to pass time. Later, when people realized his products were better than others, he sold them as a way to support himself and his wife. 

Eventually,  because of his unique skill, Uncle Harold was contacted by Family Circle. He wrote a fishing guide for their publication sometime in the late 1930's. 

Then in December of 1950, he was featured in The Saturday Evening Post. By that time, Uncle Harold's fly tying kits were being shipped all over the world. They had long been the best in the market.

By the time I came along in 1971, Uncle Harold had sold his business and retired. To my sister and me, our great uncle was a man we loved (the birth of two little girls seemed to melt his heart) who always had a box full of cotton candy colored feathers and beads to give us upon each visit. We knew nothing of his success in the business world. And he had no interest in revealing that to anyone. 

I probably would never have had known anything to this day had it not been for Google and my vanity. I typed in his name in the search engine and saw he was mentioned on one fishing blog after another. After commenting on one, a man contacted me to let me know Uncle Harold was going to be featured in a museum exhibit in Pennsylvania. 

This man, who did not like people, was still bringing other people together more than 30 years after his death. To be able to unite others, for almost any reason, is a powerful ability. I laugh because if he realized that is what he had done with his life, he would probably find it a bit irritating. 

So, a gentle word to you parents. If you can live with the Asperger's symptoms and your child is doing reasonably well in school, I would encourage you, especially if your child is older, to forgo the autism diagnosis. I know it is tempting to pursue every benefit available but sometimes I think that a child's gifts and talents get lost in that process. It's stressful and the labels that are meant to help end up becoming a heavy burden.

Rather, I would encourage you to pay sharp attention to any hobby your child has mastered. It was probably tempting for those around him to ask in my uncle's case, "What good can come out of beads or feathers? Can't you think of something better to do?" Well, these two seemingly inconsequential objects earned him (literally) millions of dollars in his lifetime. That is a far cry better than the less $1000 a month Social Security disability will bring. 

Just an aside here, but Uncle Harold and Aunt Valda had a successful marriage. And as it turns out, my great aunt really did not need supporting. She was amazing in her own right. She worked for the Department of Labor, and I found one of her studies in the Library of Congress that she co-authored in 1939.

Sat. Evening Post issue featuring Uncle Harold

I just love stories and this is one how two slightly unusual people shaped and changed our world. Thank you both for you what you gave to me!

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. ~Proverbs 22:29

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Remembering Elizabeth

Elizabeth Read
Miss Elizabeth Read (1911--2000)
Can't help but smile when people imagine how awful the single life must be for me. The truth is, the most fulfilled and joyful person I have ever known was never married a day in her life. Her name was Elizabeth Read, and it is my honor to have been her great niece.

In brief, today is her birthday. Born in 1911, she later graduated from college and became a teacher. In 1939, she earned a master's degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania. She eventually became the Chair of her high school's History Department until her retirement in 1972. From that point on she traveled the world non-stop for more than twenty years. Elizabeth lived to be almost 90.

Those are the broader points of her life; however, she is probably the reason I am able to sit here and write to you today. She used her teaching abilities to reach me. Oh, I cannot tell you how many times Elizabeth took me to the library's Reading Circle, or how many books she gave me, or how many plays we attended...

Thanks to this amazing woman, I learned to read when I was 3. I didn't speak much, and evidently I didn't DO much either, because my lack of involvement with life and other people almost landed me in the remedial class in the first grade. No one else, except for my father, realized I could read. But she knew, too. And little by little, Elizabeth drew out of me what had been sitting dormant for years. She realized I had a mind, and she found a way to open it up.

I love you, Elizabeth, and as the years go by, I miss and appreciate you more and more everyday. Until we meet again.

And to your autistic children. Read to them every chance you get.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hello Everyone!

Some of you who visit are beginning to leave friendly and encouraging comments along with some beautiful prayers. I just wanted to say that you are starting to feel like friends and I thank you for that!

Also, a couple of people have asked me to share more of my own personal history. I want you to know I take such requests seriously and am now praying on how and when to best do that. The older I get, the more I realize that timing is such a crucial element in how and when God moves. Maybe it's because this process involves a tremendous amount of faith.

Operating in His perfect timing seems to have a much larger and meaningful impact on those around us, which is what we all really want, isn't it? At least I do, especially when it pertains to the healing of others. 

In the meantime, while I pray and wait, I have added an Instagram widget to this blog's homepage. My intention in doing so was twofold.

A Heron At Last! by Kelly Noll
First, by posting my photographs (you can see the whole stream if you click in the box) you can see my story, until I can write it, as it unfolds. The scenes show you where I've been and in a way, who I am. 

Second, I just wanted to encourage all of you parents out there. You've been told autistic people are not connected to the world, cannot see it for what it is, and have no passion for life around us. Well, maybe you will feel otherwise when you see one of my photos of a sunrise or sunset. Never do I feel so alive or connected to God and others than when I am outside marveling at the beauty and wonder of creation! I think this is evident in my pictures.

We are not blind nor oblivious to the world we live in. And it simply is my heart to just want to share some of the majesty of this beautiful earth with you. We do see. And we are connected.

Blessings. Thank you for caring. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Printable Prayer Chart: Praying Over the Brain


So much of the human brain is affected by autism that I wondered if it would be useful to make a prayer chart for all of you interceding for loved ones on the spectrum. 

I put together a little something (click here for the .pdf file) and hope with all of my heart that this is in some way beneficial to you!

Most of the information I share regarding cognitive issues and brain healing comes from the research of Dr. Caroline Leaf. She truly has a passion for health, science, and Jesus, and she ties all of these elements together remarkably well! Thank you for your commitment to excellent research, Dr. Leaf! 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Healing of Tourette's Testimony: A Progessive Journey

This story, which you can link to right here, is one of my favorites where a progressive healing is concerned. The testimony highlights a father who, though he had every reason to grow bitter, chose to keep seeking out the truth regarding God's ability to heal. As a result, he never gave up praying for his daughter's healing (Luke 18:1) which she ultimately received. 

This testimony mentions something I just wrote about the other day. A prayer minister commanded Tourette's to leave. As most of you probably know, or at least I hope you do, this syndrome is strictly neurological, so such a command is useless in this case, and the child was negatively affected by that prayer as was the whole family because her lack of healing after ministry tremendously disappointed them. 

On the other hand, reflecting on this issue of speaking commands, although Jesus didn't order a sickness to leave (he ordered demons to leave), he did order parts of the body to work when they previously did not. 

There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means "Be opened!'). At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.  ~Mark 7:32-35

My hat is off to Andrew Womack Ministries for sharing this story. This family did not have a positive experience when they went to them for prayer, and although this could been concealed in the testimony, it wasn't. Also, I am happy that they shared the story of a progressive healing rather than an instant one. While those types of testimonies are always exciting and encouraging to hear, for most of us, the journey to healing takes a bit longer and requires perseverance. 

image of human brain
Pray for God to Heal A Brain!
Stay the course, and don't give up. God is with you always. Blessings! 

P.S. Thank you, Maria S. for bringing this testimony to my attention! Many blessings to you and your family! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Blog I Love

Learning to listen to other voices is crucial in the autism recovery process. Learning the value of human emotion and our need to express our feelings in a balanced way is also crucial. Last week, in the search for blogs that can teach me how to better do both, I came across a gem. 

It's called Sayable by Lore Ferguson. Not only are human emotions explored and honored, but Jesus is in the heart of it all. Love it! 


candle with bible
"Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet."

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Disabled" Is A Crappy Word

Honestly, I never thought crappy would ever show up in one of my blog post titles. Except the other day, someone's online photo caught my eye and underneath it the caption read "Disabled," and that's when I thought how crappy that word really is. 

The prefix, DIS, had suddenly loomed large in my eyes the moment I saw it and with good reason. It means away, asunder, apart, or utterly and as puts it: used freely, especially with these latter senses, as an English formative (whatever that means): "disability; disaffirm; disbar; disbelief; discontent; dishearten; dislike; disown

Do any of those words sound positive to you? I told you...dis is one nasty prefix.

You might not draw a paycheck but there is nothing about you completely separated or apart from ability just because you do not work right now. The same is true even if you never work again. The fact is, if you can read this post and make sense out of what I am saying, then you have what it takes to figure out how to do something positive for yourself and for others around you.

Just because a body part doesn't work anymore or it never did, doesn't mean the brokenness from it has to transcend every part of your life for the rest of your life. There's more to you than that. 

So please, if you post a picture of yourself online, find a better word better than "disabled" as a self-descriptor. If you don't, you will probably hear from me.