Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Angels & Healing

Merry Christmas from Virginia!
As Christmastime approaches, I cannot help but think of God's holy angels and the night two millennia ago when they burst with joy as they announced the birth of a newborn king. Our King. 

Since that time, they have continued to minister to God's children in countless ways, most of the time unseen, but once in awhile, they somehow manage to make their presence known. 

I could be wrong, but I am convinced that angels play a role, if not a significant one, in our healing. 

I remember one holiday about ten years ago when my heart was so full of despair that I could not bring myself to step outside and pray my most heartfelt desires the way I normally did on Christmas Eve. Call me foolish but for me, December 24th always feels as if it holds the greatest potential for the manifestation of miracles. It's only a feeling, but if holiness could ever be tangible or even palpable, I do sense it rather strongly on Christmas Eve. 

But on this particular year no prayers came forth, and I walked back into the empty house where I was of all things, dog sitting for a Jewish family*. This home, totally devoid of any reminder of our Lord's birth, only amplified my despair. Tears streamed down my face, and at 7:30, every minute until bed time seemed like an eternity. 

At 9:30, I finally headed to bed (which is extremely early for me). As I pulled up the covers around me, I prayed, "Maybe Christmas miracles aren't even real. Maybe everyone is right and I'm as naive as the day is long. I don't think I believe in them anymore. It's really time for me to grow up." 

Then I settled down to get to sleep, expecting this to take at least an hour, if not two. Depression tends to keep me awake. Surprisingly however, I fell into a deep, deep slumber in about five minutes. 

Then I had a dream. I was sitting at a desk, trying my hardest to write something but couldn't because of an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. I got up and began to pace back and forth in this little room. As I headed back toward the desk, I heard something. 

When I turned around there were three identical looking monks standing in a row. They had on brown cowls with golden sashes tied around their waists. They also all held a golden tablet in their hands. They had brown hair, but their faces were not entirely distinct. 

One of them stepped forward while the other two remained both still and silent. He said, "My name is Sean, and I have a message for you. Do not be afraid." 

Such a simple dream, but even as I slept, as soon as he said those words a peace in the physical realm was released. The feeling was so powerful that I woke up with a start and literally half ran and half fell down the stairs to get to a computer to see what "Sean" actually meant. I reasoned that if it had anything to do with God then the dream was from Him (I had never had a dream from God until that point). 

Sure enough, Sean is the Gaelic form of John, which as many of you know means, "God is gracious." It was 4:30 in the morning, but my heart was so full of joy, I could not get back to sleep. This is important because I went through almost two decades of major clinical depression. Nothing could ever lift my despair. 

Yet on the hardest day of the year for me, I had a dream that lasted no more than a minute. There I was laughing just hours after declaring that Christmas miracles were not real, and that I was a fool to ever think they were. 

Later that day, I saw a friend of mine who was shocked to see me in such a joyful mood. I decided to share my dream with her. I didn't think she was going to believe me but instead of doubting, she smiled and said, "Kelly, those men were not monks, and that was not a dream. They were angels, and that was a visitation." 

Well, that kind of rocked my world. I didn't know what to make of it. But given the sudden change in my mood (and that sense of unshakeable peace lasted for weeks), it was hard to deny that something out of the ordinary had happened. 

Since that night, I have had several more dreams along those same lines. Sometimes an unseen person holds my hand. I feel a presence even while I'm asleep. Sometimes I do see some people, and they share with each other attributes of God and I'm just kind of listening in on their conversation. And when I wake up, I know I have been changed. 

Angels are not meant to be worshiped. We are not even meant to seek out their names. In the case of my dream, I did not ask the monk for his name, yet it was told to me because it (Sean) contained a message about God Himself--that He is gracious. In this way, the dream was healing, and the healing came through a message told to me by an angel. 

So in that regard we may all do well to learn more about the role of angels and how they function in the heavenly realm. For me, knowing what they do and why has recently helped my prayer life flourish, and prayers are the gateway to greater healing and of course, intimacy with God, which is all He desires from us anyway. He loves us, and in understanding His world and realm in deeper ways, we learn of this love in previously unimaginable ways. 

That is my hope for you all during this Christmas season. I hope the knowledge of God's love coming down for you will break your chains of hurt and pain and that you will experience freedom like never before. Thank You God for Jesus and His healing heart. 

Merry Christmas, Beloved. 


*Many of my friends are Jewish for whom I have a deep and profound love as well as for their beautiful faith. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ginger & A Little Discovery

So about eight years ago or more, one of my wisdom teeth decided it wanted to make its debut in the world. In microscopic increments it has been pushing through my gum every few months or so, causing me to easily imagine what it feels like to get punched in the face. Yet another reminder that growth hurts.

My usual remedy for the pain is ibuprofen. Except a few months back, my stomach began to hurt all the time, too. A little research uncovered that ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers. Well, the pain in my mouth was harder to bear than my stomach woes, so I decided to see if eating a ginger chew (from Trader Joe's--this product is actually made with real ginger) would offset the gastrointestinal issues and allow me to keep treating my jaw ache for awhile with pills. It did. 

This week, the old wisdom tooth went through another growth spurt. I had run out of ginger chews so I hopped over to Trader Joe's to pick up some more. I came home, popped one in my mouth and then decided to give it a few minutes to do its magic but something sidetracked me. So, about twenty minutes later when I got up to take some ibuprofen, I was like, "Hey, wait a minute. My jaw doesn't hurt anymore!" Then a few minutes later, "Hey wait a minute. Maybe now I don't have to take NSAIDs anymore, either!" They are the only "medicine" I take, but I am just not a pill popper. I don't even know the last time I took an antibiotic.

This incident made me wonder if ginger had anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities. Well, I don't know how true the online information is, but the consensus seems to be that yes, ginger does apparently relieve pain and assist with inflammation problems.   

Since people on the autism spectrum often seem to have autoimmune problems, this happy accident seemed too good not to share. My apologies if this is old news to you. But for those of you just stumbling upon better health as I have been doing, at least you have some anecdotal evidence to support what you probably intuitively suspected.

As always, when trying something new (in this case--finding a ginger supplement to aid with pain relief), go for balance. Too much of a good thing never ends up being a good thing. Be well.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Emotional Healing & Maturity

During this--my--journey of healing I, until recently, constantly held onto one assumption. I had assumed that the majority of adults in my life possessed some degree, if not a large degree of emotional maturity but because of autism, I didn't. My primary motivation to be healed was to obtain this elusive maturity so I could grow into the kind of mind I hoped it was possible to possess. 

I'm here to tell you, my autistic friends, that my assumption was 100% wrong. First of all, maturity is not a product of the mind. It is a product of our emotions, and our emotions cannot change if our spirit is in need of healing. Most people do not recognize these things about themselves so the second part of my assumption--that the majority of individuals in my life possess emotional maturity and I don't because of autism--was also flat out wrong.

Emotional maturity is marked by a willingness to love. It's not necessarily measured in how successful we are in loving because learning to love and walking in it is a continual process. Although it gets better with time, loving perfectly doesn't happen until we get Home. Our efforts must be empowered by the Holy Spirit for one thing, and additionally God allows us to fail at our attempts to love others in order to teach us lessons about Himself that are more valuable than gold!

But the second mark of emotional maturity is a willingness to forgive. And that needs to be followed by a willingness to give up the right to be offended. Jesus was never offended by anyone. I'm not saying this is an easy road to walk. But I'm saying it is a necessary one--to desire to be like Him and to walk in His ways. 

You've heard it a million times--you know what the fruit of Holy Spirit is: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Many Christians I know at the moment are anxious to show the world how spiritually gifted they are. I implore you, however, to be anxious to show how much fruit of the Holy Spirit you want to see released into this world through you.

Pursue the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Especially gentleness right now. The Holy Spirit gives us power, but the definition of meekness, which Jesus was and is, is "controlled power." We want to use this power--the power of God's love to destroy the works of the enemy which is precisely what Jesus came to this earth to do. We are meant to do what He did. And to do these things, we must always walk in love.

The need for emotional healing never ends. I don't care how much prayer you've received for your wounds. I don't care how old you are. I don't care about your professional background. I don't even care if you are a healing prayer minister (prayer ministers are usually in greater need of healing than those to whom they minister), I'm telling you today this journey to healing never, ever ends.

You cannot love if you are emotionally broken any more than a bucket can hold water if it has a hole in it. 

Let God heal your wounds. He can. He wants to. He loves you. 



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Social Life

Last week when for the first time I learned all about weak social ties, it was truly a moment when it took everything I had not to facepalm myself. 

Why? Because for literally all of my life, if another individual didn't feel like a friend to me, I rejected the relationship. It wasn't honest or so it seemed. Yet, these casual acquaintances are apparently the primary fuel to the networking fire that pretty much keeps life moving on a forward track for all of us. 

Sigh. Even after stumbling upon the revelation of this type of human interaction, I still think I have issues with it. Not too long ago, one of my own neighbors introduced himself to me and in less than two minutes, he told me he wrote a book, pastors a church he planted himself, and is friends with Bill Gates. And of course, he concluded the conversation by handing me his business card. 

You might chalk up my ambivalence to these types of interactions to autism (my ignorance of them--yes, but my ambivalence--no), but it isn't. The truth is, I'm kind of an idealist Actually, I'm an INFP to be exact. And I love the way Jesus taught us how to relate to one another. In today's world I can't help but think that when we look at each other all we see are dollar signs or some other means of personal gain for ourselves. Jesus, on the other hand, saw right into the heart of every person He ever met, and His response was always the same. He loved. And His love healed. That's how I want to be. 

There are some benefits to networking. I can't dismiss those. But there are also benefits to having things like sacred spaces where no business cards or shop talk is allowed. I long for the days where I can sit quietly in the sanctuary of a church and bow my head in prayer without hearing the latest on the stock market from the people behind me. Silence is golden, and we need to rediscover its worth. 

While I'm glad I am learning to get the inside scoop on how we all relate to each other, and in the future I won't be so quick to ditch the fake feeling "friends," I just want to encourage you to do a little more than working on the branding of your own name, building up your online presence, and handing out the business cards. The truth is if you want to receive, you need to learn how to give. And if you want to be lifted up, you need to learn how to humble yourself. That's the backwards logic of the Kingdom of God. Live by it and you will never fail to walk in blessing. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What Happens During Healing Prayer

It occurred to me today that maybe some of you, if not many of you, would like to receive healing prayer but haven't because you aren't sure of the process. 

Protocol probably varies from ministry to ministry, but I can describe the process with which I'm most familiar. 

In a nutshell, prayer ministry starts with a phone call. You find a church or para-church ministry and contact them to make an appointment. There is no cost for the appointment, but some organizations require you to fill out an intake sheet (a questionnaire of sorts) so they can kind of get to know you before they ever see you. Personally, I like the intake sheets. They are a big time saver.

The intake sheets contain questions that ask about your nuclear and extended family. That is because patterns of illness tend to run in families. For example my father had diabetes and died at age 59. His father also had died diabetes and died at age 59. Also, cognitive issues have been prevalent in my father's family line for at least three generations. These types of patterns are pertinent and should be addressed during ministry. 

After you fill out the sheet and email it back to whoever sent it to you, then comes the actual appointment. A prayer ministry that cares about accountability will always have a team of two people doing the praying. The atmosphere should be quiet, inviting, and peaceful. 

My prayer appointments have always been about 90 minutes long, but for about the first 20 to 30 minutes, you will be asked quite a few questions. Basically you are sitting through an interview, and while you are giving your responses, both team members are listening to you but are also listening to the Holy Spirit for His wisdom so they will know how to pray for you. 

When that part is over, that's when the praying begins! Again, it's typically a quiet, peaceful process. No one doing the praying should ever shout, move suddenly, or touch you inappropriately. Prayer ministers should let you know if they feel led to hold your hand, give you a hug, etc., and ask for your permission first. I rarely say this, as I don't like the expression, but truly during a prayer session it's pretty much all about you. Your safety and your healing come first. It's all that matters.

Healing can and often does take place even as prayer is still continuing, but in my case, that has never, ever happened! When I first began receiving prayer, I used to feel disappointed and a little jealous of others who got noticeably zapped by the Holy Spirit during their own ministry appointments. But then I would go home and about three days later my own healing would quietly appear, pretty much without fail. 

Through that (having to wait and return home empty-handed so to speak) I learned that healing is not dramatic at all. It's actually kind of boring and often hard to initially notice to the point I can't help but wonder if that's why people don't really want to be healed. It doesn't draw attention the way injury does. That may be not be true, but still...the thought has crossed my mind a time or two... 

So there you have it. If you want to be well, you know the first step. Don't wait. Pick up the phone and change your life. The Holy Spirit is waiting for you...

Monday, October 31, 2016

On Surrendering

I've recently become friends with a street person. Her name is Corliss. She has impeccable manners. Her speech flows flawlessly from her lips. She has no addictions to drugs or alcohol, nor is she mentally ill. Yet the streets have been her home since 2000. 

Last night, when I asked Corliss how she felt about living outside for so many years, her answer kind of startled me. She said, "Well, it's never really bothered me until just a couple of nights ago. Then for the first time ever, I cried about what's going on in my life. I guess this is starting to get to me." 

To some of you, this whole scenario is probably a turn off, and that's okay. I get that. But in my mind, any one of us could substitute her homelessness for a number of situations to which we haven't learned to wave the white flag of surrender (which her tears symbolized). 

Maybe you have a dead end job. Maybe your marriage fell apart a long time ago. Or like a growing number of people, you have a child with a disability and are at the end of your rope. But regardless of how you feel, how tired you are, or how empty your heart is, you refuse to let go. Letting go is failure to you, and you just can't go there in your mind. You just can't fail

For so many years I had that belief, too, because truly I did actually fail in all of my attempts to do just about anything. Worse, when I pushed into God with prayer and seriously began walking in His will, I only encountered more failure in my life. It took me over ten years to understand that not only does the Holy Spirit really do this (lead us into failure) but He does it with intention. Why? Because to live we must die, and there is no other way around it. 

So many people I know right now are hitting their 40's, and they are getting a taste of the world's definition of success. They've written books and are even showing up on TV. That might lead you to think, "Why not me? If only my child was well. If only I had a better job. If only this. If only that."

I know. I went through this myself (and to some degree still am--but this mindset is truly beginning to die now) until I started to look back and see the patterns that emerged from my own past. I spend a lot of time with unloved people. I don't look for them. They just seem to show up on my radar. When I wondered why, I saw that Jesus was teaching me to love the way He does. These people can't love me. They have no resources upon which to draw. But I can love them because I can draw upon Him.

I mean, if it were up to me, I would be the center of everyone's universe! It's true! I would not be hanging out with those who need love. Instead I'd only be with people who love me! But is this really life? I don't think so. Not any more. 

I'm not suggesting here that you attempt some kind of weird transcendence above the material needs we all have. But what I am perhaps saying is that if you have a sense that you are somehow blocked in life, maybe there's a need to surrender to the very thing you have been trying to climb over, put behind you, or shove in a closet somewhere. That thing has a purpose, and it is not to take your life. Paradoxically, it is to give it. But you have to give up to receive, and that my friends sounds easy but, in all fairness it's not. It's truly very  hard.

Just points to ponder. Be blessed today. Love your family. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love well.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Gluten Free Update

Way back in January I decided my body needed a break from gluten, but as it turned out the addiction to bread and breakfast cereal was so strong my new diet didn't actually begin until the end of March. 

Actually, I didn't start a "new diet" per se. I just stopped eating bread and cereal but kept everything else the same. 

Well to my surprise, about the middle of April I discovered that the scalp pain and tenderness I had my entire life just disappeared completely. The bleeding patch of dry skin on my pinky knuckle that had been there for two years also cleared up in a matter of weeks. And my hair that became so dry that it only needed to be washed once a week now needs to be shampooed every other day. It's soft and shiny just like it used to be. 

There was an unexpected downside to going gluten free and that is for many months, I had a terrible case of heartburn. Personally, I think bread may absorb stomach acid, but really--I have no idea. On the other hand, I had been taking a lot of ibuprofen at that time (I quit doing that), which I later learned can also cause stomach upset so that might have been the problem, too. Either way, I'm okay now---things seemed to have balanced themselves out.

And I have lost some weight, but I want to go on the record here to let you know that a gluten free diet is not the cause for weight loss. I gained weight by eating gluten because every time I did, I had an autoimmune reaction that caused my body to dump a ton of nutrients. In its attempt to keep me alive, my body began to grab anything it could from my food intake and stored it as fat. In other words, it was the autoimmune reaction that caused my weight gain. Not the gluten itself.

But from April to mid-August, I still hardly lost any weight, and that didn't make sense to me! I eat the same thing everyday (to cut down on something called "decision fatigue" which I plan to write about soon) and constantly walk, walk, walk! 

Well, to my surprise it turned out I wasn't eating enough (so I was still storing fat, grrrr)! Why? Because for the first time in my life I haven't been hungry in between meals. Nutrients are actually staying inside of me and are doing their job. It never occurred to me I was still starving (which is why I didn't do a calorie count sooner. Under eating has literally never been an issue in my life, so I didn't expect to encounter that at this point in my life!). Once some calories were added back into my meals, the weight did start dropping off rather easily. I'm down 15 pounds now and my clothes after being too small for a couple of years are beginning to fit me just fine. 

So there you go. If you think gluten is a real problem for either yourself or someone you know, then try to go without it for a few months (it takes that long or more to see how its absence really affects your body). If there's no difference, it's better not to quit eating grain. Otherwise the best diet tip I could ever give to anyone is this: If you do nothing else, cut down on your sugar intake. Next to smoking, there doesn't seem to be anything worse for our bodies next to excessive sugar consumption. 

Take care of you and God bless! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Crazy Idea

Circuit Rider Preacher

I woke up with the strangest idea this morning. My mind has been on all of the families I've heard from over the years who can no longer go to church together either because the environment is too stimulating for their kids or they are simply not welcome. 

With that in my mind, I thought, "Why not bring back the idea of circuit rider preaching? If a family can't get to the church, why can't the church get to them?"

So since then, I've been daydreaming about getting ordained and traveling around the country in an RV and holding church services for you in barns or open fields, or anywhere people would feel comfortable without the usual rules and social niceties. Y'all could visit with your neighbors again, take communion together, and do whatever--just to feel like the Body of Christ for once instead of shunned lepers. 

I don't think my ideas are totally outside the realm of possibility. In 1808, my fifth-grandfather, John Benwell reopened Sidcot School after it had been closed for almost eighty years

Sidcot as it is today.
His grandson, Joseph Austin Benwell made his home in India for awhile and became a well known painter. He painted this somewhat iconic portrait of Florence Nightingale.

Joseph's brother, John, traveled to America and spent four and half years documenting the abuse of slaves. Another member of my family defended abused slaves in court, and still others released their slaves and then opened schools to teach those same people how to read and write. 

My point with all the family info is this: I have lived a strange life and have an unusual family background where virtually everyone either loved the Lord and/or took a stand against cruelty and oppression. Almost all of my father's Baptist family either served as elders and deacons in their respective churches. The Quaker part of his family, which dates back to 1689, lived in various places around the world and opened schools to teach others general knowledge and the love of Christ. 

And as for the Episcopalians, well--one of them became a founding father of our nation. So, maybe all of my weirdness has a purpose and somehow it shaped me to be able to give back to our world. I don't know, but if so, I'm willing to give whatever it is that I have to give for the sake of another person's freedom that I have so graciously but unexpectedly been given..

Anyway, when Jesus said blessed are you when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man (Luke 6:22), I'm pretty sure He wasn't referring to Christians who reject other Christians because you or your kids have a disability.

But I know that pain. I was once beaten up on a church retreat. Asked to leave choir and home group because I didn't relate well to people my own age (never mind that I did relate well to an older crowd). Called a coward from the pulpit in front of 1500 other people because at that time it was easier for me to communicate in writing than in person. Told by my first pastor, "You are nothing and that's all that you will ever be." Those are just a few of the more memorable encounters I've had with my elders. But there are many, many more.

I want something better for your children than what I faced--and still do sometimes face--alone. While we Christians are failing miserably at creating churches that serve as something like hospitals--where the brokenhearted are healed, I still dream that this can be a reality. Still want to try it. Still want to bring people together and see us unified and reconciled, and yes, dare I say it, still want to see hands laid on the sick and they receive healing right on the spot. I want the oppressed captive to go free!

So, you know, if anyone else thinks this is a good idea, feel free to start a Go-fund me page for this endeavor* (for the RV--lol). If I tried it, I'd raise about $12 since I have no real social network, but I'm just saying, if anyone wants to "send" me, here am I, and I'm willing to go! 

Love to you all. I think of you everyday. Blessings and the peace of our Lord be with you today! 

*To be clear, I really do not want anyone to start a Go-fund me campaign. I was only kidding! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Rocky Road of Restoration

Last night I read an article by an autistic gentleman who underwent experimental surgery in order to restore his emotions. His story absolutely fascinated me. To begin with, I had no idea any such surgery or treatment existed, even if it is only experimental. More importantly, however, there is now someone else in the world with whom I can relate regarding the strange difficulty of emotional healing taking place rather late in life. 

Like me, he found that having a new understanding of others' emotions and subtle intentions brought unexpected pain and a sense of being overwhelmed. It was one thing to be vaguely aware, if at all, of people who made fun of me. It is now another to be fully aware, and then to look back and be able to see how that same scenario occurred hundreds of times before in my life. 

Basically, healing on this level is bittersweet. Before it can be enjoyed completely, grieving is a necessity. I was so surprised to learn how angry and disappointed I felt. Then I realized I needed to undertake the overwhelming task of forgiving just about everyone I had ever encountered. When you are shut out of life, you are shut out everywhere. It's the hardest thing in the world to admit, but I wanted to be free of anger and bitterness, so I did--admit it. As a result, joy is surfacing in my life as well as a deep gratitude to God for my healing. 

Somehow this man's story reminds me of another I read when I was just 12 years old. Titled Flowers for Algernon, it was written by Daniel Keyes in 1959. The main character, Charlie, undergoes surgery to "make [him] smart." His intelligence is restored and soars, but a lab mouse (Algernon) who underwent the same surgery, and who experienced the same cognitive surge, ends up deteriorating and then dying. 

I remember feeling very sobered by that story, yet not so much because of the death of the mouse and all that it implied. Rather as Charlie healed, it was his awareness of how others perceived him before his surgery that pained me. Like I said, there's just something very difficult in that moment when the ways you've been perceived by others for your entire life becomes more than crystal clear.  

By the mentioning of this story, it might sound like I'm coming down on healing today. I'm not. I don't expect anyone to deteriorate and die as a result of their prayers and interventions!!! Never give up your faith! 

Instead I think this is more of a realization that restoration is not really that easy. We rightly perceive that our lives will change when healing occurs. We wrongly overlook the fact that there is a process involved in the healing because it includes a period of transition. Additionally, there is confusion in a sudden gear shift while traveling 100 mph down the highway of life, especially when this happens at the age of 40 or 50. Unexpected losses happen and must be grieved. Relationships change.

Even so, is healing worth it? And specifically was this healing worth it? Yes. Emotions are beautiful and created by God. He has them, too, you know. And all that He made for us, I want to have. I want to live in the fullness of my life no matter how overwhelmed it makes me at times. All that God made He called good. That includes tears, anger, pain, and so forth. It takes some getting used to, but for me to want to go back from where I started on this journey? No way. Not a chance.

I am grateful to God for all that He has done, and although I think brain surgery shows great promise for emotional restoration in people with all kinds of cognitive issues, I am especially grateful that my healing was done without surgery. Thank you, Lord! 

Blessings...and keep praying for your own healing. Take courage and do not be afraid! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Freedom From Silence

When parents have shared their stories of their autistic children with me, I haven't been able to help but notice over the years that most of these kids bear the names of Old Testament prophets. Clearly then, these parents believed their children had a destiny in Christ to fulfill and gave them the names that identified that destiny as (being) prophetic. And specifically, what are prophets called to do? They proclaim, by use of their voice, the Word of God. 

I'm truly not a fan of stating the obvious, but something in me is rising up and getting angry over the fundamental fact that autism's biggest crime against a soul is its power to silence a human being by robbing a child of his or her ability to speak. 

I do not yet know how this happens neurologically speaking, so I do not know specifically how to pray for this healing (although once I prayed for the healing of someone's deep mind which drastically helped with that person's communication). Spiritually, I can see the enemy's motivation quite clearly (and probably all of you reading can do the same), though. People respond to the Word of God by hearing it, and people are set free by the authority that comes through a spoken prayer. Take away a person's voice, and you take away their spiritual authority.

This point was simply but profoundly illustrated to me a couple of months ago by an interaction I had with a dog. 

There is a little Australian Shepherd in my neighborhood who, for four months, did nothing but charge and incessantly bark and snarl at me as I walked by her yard, which was, and still is, several times a week. 

One day she startled me so much that I just turned to her and said, "Doggie, I don't know what's wrong with you, but I need to tell you that I'm tired of this routine so here's the thing. After today you are not going to charge at me anymore. You are not going to bark at me anymore. We are friends. I love dogs. I love you. And from here on out you are going to love me, too. It's that simple." 

Well, I didn't think anything about it afterwards because we have all asked dogs to be quiet thousands of times, and it virtually has no effect on them. But two days later, as I passed by this house on my walk, this dog, for the first time ever, rather than charging, came trotting slowly toward me. Then, she sat on the edge of her property and raised her front paw to me. And most importantly, she never made a sound. And from that time up until now, she still behaves this way. She no longer barks or charges at me. 

I realized later that I gave a word of command to this dog, and she responded to that authority--but I should say, as I've said before, this is not my authority--it is authority that comes from the Holy Spirit. My point is, though, I spoke this word. And something which was out of control responded to that word and submitted to it. 

I could only conclude from that experience that if a person is going to pick their battles with autism about what healing you want to see in your kids, I think it's time to wage an epic war on their forced silence. The word "voice" is mentioned 216 times in the Bible. God's voice and ours are the primary way we build relationship with Him and He with us. It is also the method God generally uses to advance His kingdom and how we defeat the enemy in our lives through prayer.  

It is time for your children, named after the prophets, to be able to speak. I curse this silence in which they live. And I pray with all of my heart, soul, and mind, for the prison doors to be opened for these beloved children of God to be able to proclaim the majesty and wonder of Your works, Lord, to all future generations! Jesus, I loose their voices. I loose their praise and thanksgiving! I loose everything they have ever wanted or needed to say to everyone around them! 

Heal them all God. Heal them all. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Permission Granted

The Wizard of Oz
One of the biggest changes for someone coming out of the spectrum is a newfound ability to choose. The paralyzing, inflexible I'll stick to my routine and follow every rule at all costs thinking fades over time. Choices turn the sepia world of Kansas into the colorful, glorious land of Oz.

But while the ability to choose did ultimately present itself in my life, I ran into another unexpected snag and that is, I didn't feel like I had any internal permission to make any of these new choices. 

Internal Permission? Yes. I realized that as we journey along in life, we need people to inspire us, embolden us, encourage us, and to push us forward. Externally we need to hear the voices of others tell us, "You can do it. It's okay." Eventually, their voices become internalized and finally they become your own, so in any new situation you might want to try but of which you are unsure you can say, "Hey girl, you've got this."

And honestly, I have no idea why we have this need...but...we do.

I realize it when I get up in the morning and the weather is awful, but I want to be healthy. I don't get in gear until I hear my friend's voice in my mind say, "Go for your walk! You can do it." Permission to be healthy, granted. Or when I'm faced with meeting a new person, "She might be the most interesting person you'll ever meet. So go have lunch with her." Permission to make a friend, granted.

In the end, choices are the pieces that create the mosaic of our lives. Choices, even wrong ones at times, lead to emotional and even cognitive freedom (our brains heal and grow when we choose to do something over nothing). They create opportunities to explore life, help us to live in wonder, and cut down on our ability to presume that we will know the outcome of any given situation. Really, we don't know what will happen until we try, so...just try. Permission to be uncertain, granted.

This is a total aside but here's some permission to color in your Bible.  This post/idea looks awesome! Now, for some people in this world, to do such a thing is blasphemous. But I say grab those highlighters and make some art magic out of scripture. And while you're at it, put the radio on, sing at the top of your lungs, and even if, like me, you look like a drowning victim while doing it, just dance. It's fun.

Permission to live. Granted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Water Into Wine: The Miracle of Transformation

I must confess, I never thought much of the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. It just didn't make sense when you consider just about everything else He did either saved or restored lives. So, if He did all of that, why bother to make some alcohol just to make drunk people more drunk at a party? 

Over the years, I have searched high and low for answers to my questions regarding Christ's first miracle, and I've read numerous commentaries about this particular work, but no one's thoughts have really satisfied me. 

One day a few months back, while my mind was wandering, a thought came to me. What if this miracle did not foreshadow the Lord's death on the cross as many have supposed (with the wine representing Jesus' shed blood), but rather the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost (where the wine would be symbolic of the Holy Spirit)? What if the miracle is about the transformation that God causes to happen in us after we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? 

Here's where I'm going with this:

The miracle was not about the wine. The miracle was about turning water into wine. Think about it--about the symbolism of water. Water has no properties. It has no taste. No color. No scent. What we see in this story is the change, by the hand and word of Jesus of this particular substance without property into an entirely different one--a substance with robust taste, fragrance, and color--and potentially so alluring that a proverb warns people not to look at it for too long.

In other words, the water was transformed and changed into something beautiful by an external source. It did not change itself. It had no power to change itself.

So, we see here that Jesus is the transformer of the water, but why did He say to Mary, "Woman, my time has not yet come?" If memory serves, Jesus generally referred to "my time" as the time He would die on the Cross. Maybe that is why so many people believe the wine refers to His blood here. However, if this incident is looking ahead to Pentecost and He's referring to the Holy Spirit, then what He could have meant was, "My Spirit cannot be poured out on all people until after I die, am resurrected, and ascend to the Father. So why are you troubling me with this request now?" 

There are so many interesting little details in this story that parallel with Pentecost. Jesus was at a wedding feast. Pentecost was a celebratory feast. At the wedding in Cana, there were 6 stone jars that each held 20 gallons of water. At Pentecost, 120 people were present. In order to serve people wine, it must be poured out. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out. At Cana, people were already drunk by the time Jesus performed this first miracle. At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell, people were perceived as being drunk as they received the Spirit. At Cana, the wedding host was commended for saving the best wine for last. Throughout the Gospels, the disciples are told over and over again by Jesus that He has to leave them because something better after Him was coming. In this respect, He again, saved the best (the Holy Spirit) for last. 

Friends, can you see that we are the water in this story? Every believer is water in the story. On our own, whether we like it or not when we start out on our faith journey (in Jesus), we are nothing. It is not until the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, is invited into our hearts to dwell with us, that He begins His transforming work in us. Like wine, He begins to flow through our being within, when He indwells us, but then at the same time His Spirit is poured out over us externally, which causes us to change. It's God--an external source of power that causes us to change. And when He does, we become palatable to people. We become fragrant, giving off the aroma of Jesus. And He makes us beautiful. Our faces become radiant. In other words, we now, because of Christ, have substance in us. What was once nothing becomes something. We are meant to become alluring to an unbelieving world.

When we see these things, then we understand the magnitude of this miracle--of the water being turned into wine. Transformation is the Lord's most amazing enduring healing work. It is the ongoing change of a human being from the time of conversion until the time of death. Yes, it's awesome a tumor disappears or the blind see, but when you get down to it, to see the Lord always at work over the lifetime of His children, the hope this establishes, at least in me, takes my breath away. I pray the same can happen to you.

Blessings today! May the Lord heal you and show you His unrelenting love toward you today. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Open Door

Photo Credit: Kelly Noll
This week has been kind of a big one. 

First, in record time, I made a second friend (who happens to be the funniest person on earth. We're talking Carol Burnett funny here). Given that it took me all of my life to make the first one, the second coming along less than a month later has left me sitting in quiet awe this past week. 

It was an action of Friend #2 that opened my eyes to one way, if not the way women connect with each other, though. She brought me to her house and gave me a quick tour. Something about her joy in showing me her home made me realize that under the surface she was really saying, "I like you and am choosing to let you into my sacred places." When I saw this, I knew this needed to happen with Friend #1. 

As odd as it sounds being as old as I am (44), I've never invited anyone to come to my home before. In the beginning, after first striking out on my own, this was due more to the fact that I worked about 80 hours a week. I had no time to invite people over. Yet as time passed, my house always felt barren to me. I grew ashamed of opening my door. Then fear took over. Some people are terrified to leave the house, but my problem was the opposite. To let someone in it became equally terrifying. 

Even so, new thoughts and understanding have been permeating my mind this past month. I realized Friend #1 is the safest person I know. She has the biggest gift of encouragement I've ever seen. And she meets people exactly where they are emotionally without trying to knock down their walls with a wrecking ball. She just quietly waits around until a door is opened and then willingly walks through when she is invited to do so.

Seeing all of these things in my friend, I decided it was time to literally open the door and invite her in. Which I did. And she accepted. The visit was short, but in my heart of hearts I know the meaning of this small act on both our parts is somehow huge. I can't explain why. I just know it is.

As Friend #1 says, "It's the little things." 

Yes indeed. Thank you, God, for the beautiful little things. And for giving a heart reasons to beat again. I am grateful. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Holy Spirit's Role in Healing

Looking back over which posts here have been read the most often, I noticed a printable prayer chart for the brain ranks the second highest. 

Most of us who pray have been told that God likes specifics when we approach Him, so using a chart while interceding or petitioning is not a bad idea. It's not a bad idea at all.

Yet as I think back over this healing journey of mine, it has occurred to me that I am pretty sure I have failed to mention the Holy Spirit's role in my own life. I want to correct that right now. I know Him, love Him, and have sought Him for every single need I've ever had over the last 15 years or so.

Basically, He is the part of the Trinity responsible for healing.  Now for some of you, this is a no-brainer. For others, this could be a bitter pill to swallow. Even among Christians, the Holy Spirit is almost a taboo subject. Even so, Matthew 12:28 clearly reveals it is He who heals.

We see this because in the preceding verses, a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and the Lord healed Him. Yet when the Pharisees heard of this, they said, "It is only by Beezlebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

But Jesus replied, "If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself...but if it is by the Holy Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Jesus had no superpower. When He healed people, it was by the power of the Spirit.

This makes total sense to me. All of you are praying for the healing of brain function when you pray for the healing of autism. What other entity could flow so easily through spaces so tiny that not even the end of a needle could permeate? 

And that is what needs to happen by the way. The Holy Spirit needs to be invited into any healing prayer session in order to touch and reach the very thing you want healed. Without Him going into those dark places, prayer becomes as difficult and labored as sitting on a three-legged stool with one of those legs missing. Guess who has to hold it up in that case? The person sitting on it. And in due time, that person will become aware of just how much effort they have to make in order to just sit down. As we all know, sitting should be an effortless activity. So it is with prayer. We do the talking and listening, but God does the doing. All of it because it's not by might nor power, but by His Spirit.

You cannot heal anyone by praying the right prayers with the right charts and information. This is striving with human effort. It is only through and by the power of the Holy Spirit that miracles and transformation happen. If you don't know Him, but want Him in your life, find out what you need to do to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I can promise you, when you receive Him, your life will never, ever be the same! 



Friday, January 15, 2016

Going Gluten Free

Wheatfield by The Crossing
So long wheat (and a few other grains). I knew thee well. 

We would still be intimately acquainted had you not made my intestines feel like they were full of buckets of Pop Rocks--for most of the last month, but you did, so we are no more. 

It's true. I've had to go gluten free. Unaccustomed to having to acknowledge or slow down because of any type of pain, my digestive woes which began before Christmas, truly took the cake. Actually, I had to also admit the source of my woes which is Celiac Disease, a hereditary autoimmune disorder. Thanks Dad!

I am not writing this post to garner any sympathy from people. Giving up gluten is not a big adjustment in my life. Rather, I feel it is important to address whether or not particular diets alleviate some symptoms of autism and if so, how much. For at least a couple of decades or more, special eating programs have been touted as a cure for autism--as if a diet were responsible for the brain's woes. Unfortunately this is not the case, although a poor diet certainly does affect cognition. Sometimes even dramatically. 

As for me, the absence of gluten has done wonders in keeping me out of the nearest bathroom at any given moment, but there is no difference at all in my thinking or energy level. There is also no change in how I socially interact, either. The fact is, years ago I began to believe my problem with food (at the very least) had to do with estrogen in processed meats and milk as well as the 150 pounds of sugar I consumed in a year. That's how much most of us eat in 12 months, on average.

To think, back then, that sugar caused emotional and cognitive issues was just a hunch, but as it turns out eating excessive sugar causes what's called glycation in your brain's nerve cells. When I gave up most of my junk food (i.e., ice cream, ice cream, and ice cream) eating habits my emotions leveled out in just about a week's time. The change was immediately noticeable and has remained consistent for the last seven years or so. 

I have been wanting for some time to write a post like this because as hard as it is for you to get your kids to eat--and you are just happy if they eat anything, my heart breaks every time I see a child on the spectrum (which is often) downing one serving after another of nothing but fries or some other carb. Not only do foods along these lines have no nutritional value, they also cause more damage in the brain--the very damage many of you spend tons of time and money trying to reverse through other means besides diet. The healthiest eating possible is a must for potential healing to occur. 

So why do people think gluten abstinence helps with behavior issues? There are a number of possible reasons. If a child on the spectrum does also have Celiac Disease the absense of gluten will reduce pain and discomfort, which will in turn, reduce a child's need to act out to communicate pain. 

Also, when people make one life change they usually make others related to that big change without realizing it. In this case here, eliminating gluten will usually mean a reduction in simple carbs, which again is really what is behind brain fog and energy loss. When the fog clears and energy increases, better and healthier choices are made which allows for greater energy expenditure which usually helps with sleep cycles. You may attribute all of these improvements with gluten elimination because that is the only choice you were aware of making, but really so many other factors truly made up this entire equation. Correlation does not equal causation. 

Autism is a brain disorder that affects the whole body on a systemic level. It is not the body that affects the brain. That's a bummer, I know. I've been thinking about autism's internal origins due to battling autoimmune issues for over ten years now (I've had them my whole life but have only been fighting back this last decade). Is my brain messing up my body? Or is my body messing up my brain?

For me, the question is now settled and at present, except for this recent digestive issue, I'm healthier than I've ever been. My goal is to stay that way! I hope all the same for you and yours.

Goodnight and blessings to you! 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Eye Contact & Autism

Eye Contact by Manu34
This post is for all my female friends out there working hard to overcome autism, although the issue of eye contact is probably the last thing you want to read about today. After all, you've probably been told no less than a million times how impolite it is to not look at someone when they are speaking. 

Well, I experienced an interesting twist on this a few weeks back. My friend asked me look at her with more intention when I was speaking. Honestly, I don't find making eye contact to be difficult, but the prospect of becoming emotionally transparent probably made me avert my gaze more than I realized. 

In short, I still did what she asked and just a few minutes into our next get-together, all I can say is my emotions suddenly got an entire makeover! I continued to speak, but the whole time I wondered, "What in the world is going on here?" I couldn't wait to get home and research what happens with our brain chemistry when we simply look into the face of a trusted person during a conversation. 

Honestly, I have been so in the dark about eye contact that I've only considered it a social construct to communicate politeness to others. Really--that's it. I apologize to many of you who already know what I've only just discovered, but if I can reach even just one soul who has been as clueless as I've been, well, this post will be worth it. 

In short, looking at a trusted person or even a beloved pet for a few minutes or more releases a truckload of neurotransmitters in our brain that do a world of good for us. I used to go back and forth on the issue of brain chemistry and autism--wondering if parts of the brain didn't work at all and thus could not produce neurotransmitters, or if they just had to be primed a lot like old water pumps but would eventually work again. Well, I'm convinced more than ever of the latter (so keep on practicing those boring social skills), because when your brain starts working the way it should, life takes on a whole new meaning!

By the way, looking at someone's left eye in particular is what sets off this whole pleasant hormonal cascade in your head. Just an FYI there in case any of you want to really try looking at somebody else when you sit and talk with them.

Dr. Caroline Leaf repeatedly states that our brains are hardwired to love and be loved. The more I learn, the more I see how right she is! This is what life is all about.

Blessings to you today!