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! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

What Kind of Love?

I was talking to a woman the other day who said we use the word "love" so much that it has kind of lost its meaning. She's right. We do speak as if our favorite pair of socks and a friend, spouse, or child are actually on the same plane. 

In addition to that conversation, all this week I've been thinking about a man I periodically encounter. On his best days, he is able to cordially say hello to me, but more often than not for reasons I'm not too entirely sure about, all he can manage is a sneer and an eye roll. 

Needless to say, his rudeness had been getting on my nerves for most of this past year. 

Then I thought, "What if I'm being taught a lesson here? What if I just choose to forgive him? What if I choose to bless him on his not so great days?" 

I started doing that. The end result is the sneer now just makes me laugh. Why? Because I suspect God is probably laughing about it, too, thinking, "Kids will be kids." We all undergo transformation in different areas and in different times in our lives. Maybe this issue is on God's agenda for my friend, and the time for change just hasn't presented itself yet. 

I've also learned that it's okay when someone isn't where we think they should be. What matters is that God knows where they are, and through their shortcomings we can learn to be patient and forgiving while we wait for others around us to grow--if they ever do. 

And by the way, we can take a more honest look at our own shortcomings while we are dealing with those of someone else. Relationships do bring out our own weaknesses.

So, back to the opening sentence in this post--when I write about love and I'm praying for your children to know it, and I'm asking God to help me walk in it, I'm talking about the love of Jesus Christ which is demonstrated through radical and consistent forgiveness. The ministry of reconciliation. The ability to make peace in the middle of turmoil and putting down the stones when everything in you wants to hurl them at your enemy...

Friends, just because we have misused the "L" word doesn't mean we can abandon its truth. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy the same way if not more (com)passionately. When you do, the world will see Christ in you, and honestly nothing else matters in life more than that. 

Blessings to you all.