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 parents...read 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 Dictionary.com 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. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Praying "Against" Autism

Last night I watched a man on YouTube praying "against" autism. Without doubt, his intentions were loving and kind. 

Still, something inside of me balks a little when I hear someone say they want to come up against an illness in prayer. 

Maybe it is because I have been on the receiving end of this type of intercession too many times to count, but really, how does a child in that same situation of being prayed for perceive those words? How do they know that someone is not coming up against them personally? They don't.

Worse, are the intercessors trying to bind up and cast out a "spirit of autism"? Autism is not a spirit but rather a conglomeration of physiological, neurological, emotional, and yes, even spiritual issues, so again, the choice of words one uses during prayer is pretty crucial here. 

I think it's wise to not make a prayer recipient feel like they themselves are the enemy (i.e., "I am coming up against something that is inside of you."). Rather, it would seem more benevolent to say, "I would like to pray for the healing of autism and anything else that might be going on today." This choice of words makes the illness the problem to be dealt with. Not the person with the illness.