Monday, December 31, 2012

Inspired

Four things:

1. Started a jar project. Two jars this time. One jar of at least one milestone (can be anything from a new achievement to a health thing to whatever) and one jar for my friend Tom. My only two rules are: I cannot under any circumstance remove the slips from the jars. This could mean that there be repeats, but that's okay. My second rule: I must come up with at least one positive thing each day. The jar for Tom will be part of his Christmas gift next year.

2. Be more positive. The jars will be a visual aid for me. And I may need a huge pickle jar for Tom at the rate things are going, but if that happens, then that reinforces a new habit for me.

3. Dear future husband whoever you may be and wherever you are, I know God has chosen you for me and will bring us together in His time when He knows we are ready for each other. For you see, God made me very different. I have autism and ADHD as well as a special medical diet and allergies among other conditions. God is preparing you to be able to handle special needs and preparing your heart for adoption. Because I will not be able to have biological children due to some health complications. It takes a very special man with a very special heart to be able to love me in the way that God wants me to be loved. And you will have to answer so many questions from so many of the men in my life who have become friends with me and would do anything they can, within reason, to help protect me from being wounded. So to my future husband, we may or may not have ever met before, but that doesn't matter; what matters is that you love God, you treat women right, you have a heart and a compassion for special needs and you're ready and willing to adopt. Oh, and you can't drink or smoke. And must love dogs and cats. You're getting shots if you're allergic because all my life, I've had at least one of each all the time. Sincerely, your future wife

4. WHY DID it take the wise men two years to get to Jesus? If it were wise women, we would've asked directions! But I will do a separate post with my modern spin on the Christmas story. It may even be expanded!

Anyway, I just wanted to share this because for those of you that know about the decision I made, I want you to know that I love you and will miss seeing you as much as I have, but I am happier right now. Scared, but happy. And my friend Tom will know where I end up and will be able to update people on a need to know basis. Which means if he doesn't think someone needs to know, he ain't telling him/her. And it will be to protect me. But don't worry because it's just for a season while God moves the area into a position where churches are not only equipped for special needs children AND adults, but ready and have a heart song for them. The need is growing fast on a daily basis. We are ready for the harvest. We just need workers. And if this is something you have a heart for, feel free to let me know because I need a team to help make ready for what's coming. God has called me, and I am trying to listen, but I don't have all the resources yet. I need other people as well. And if you are local, we can still see each other and I'll come back and visit when my friend is available for special days. But I am happier and more at peace now, so I guess it was the right decision.

Love to all and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Asperger's and Autism

I decided to post this on this blog not so much because it is relevant to the title of my blog, as it is because it is part of my journey.

You see, last year, the church I have been part of for three years sent me for testing because of the pursuit of a dear woman who recently moved.

It has been both a blessing and a curse for me, though.

Let me explain. It was a blessing because after all that time, we finally had a name for why I was struggling so much in relationships with others.

But it was a curse because some people, including those who were on a care team assigned to me used it more often than not as an excuse to exclude me from the activities that members can do as well as activities that both members and non-members can do.

For the past year and a half, I have persistently fought against the church because of the exclusions. To no avail. They handed me a document that basically said I would be permanently excluded from the very activity that I fought with them about the most, the one non-members are allowed to do.

It was not fair. Not to me and not to anyone else who looked at that document. The document was deemed as a form of bullying, abuse, discrimination, etc. It had no biblical basis, no Book of Church Order (BCO) basis and was even deemed inappropriate and immoral.

I fought for three months to get a meeting to discuss the issues with the document. And they refused. I tried to get the permanent exclusions section removed and expressed willingness to sign agreement IF they removed that one section. They refused.

I cannot tell you how many times I was told by the team that I was not being allowed to do activities because of the autism. "Because of the autism, you lack empathy, so we cannot risk letting you do that activity because you might unintentionally and unknowingly hurt somebody." "Because of the autism, you cannot do fill-in-the-blank because...."

Then I found out they talked to other churches and to other people in the church. I don't know what was said, but that document showed me the results of what was said. I am not wanted. In that church.

And it hurts.

So because the negotiations failed, I am leaving. That church. For a season. I don't know exactly where. And I don't know exactly how long. But I have to find a church that is more accepting of adults who have special needs.

And only one person from that church will know where I end up. For now. Because I don't want people to be checking in asking me if I found a new church yet.

It hurts too much right now.

It breaks my heart that the church presently cannot practice Matthew 25 and the least of these by including people, including adults, with special needs.

But see, this is also where I find God to be ironic. For this very issue that is causing the separation right now will also be the very issue that reunites me with that church when it finally has a change in its heart song and finally accepts and includes people, including adults, with special needs.

As to my church friends, please, I would be honored to stay in touch with you via Facebook as I do literally journey through theology now.

Because in this leg of the journey, I literally am learning theology in an experiential way, and I am scared!!

Why do I say that? Because Friday, the United States had a horrific incident occur. And I mean horrific. Because of my own lack of complete understanding and preferred detachment due to locality, I am not going to rehash what we already know.

What I will do though is to speak my mind about something that the media spun relentlessly over the weekend and put those misconceptions out to pasture.

Chances are if you listened to any news over the weekend, you may have heard that that sick man that did that heinous act potentially had Asperger's. But here's the thing. He may have had Asperger's, but he also had other problems.

However, for the second time since I got diagnosed last December, a massacre was linked to Asperger's. the similarities to both people were this: they planned what they did. Their acts were very calculated and very meticulous in nature.

Over the weekend, it was stated that the guy who did that heinous act Friday morning lacked empathy and showed no emotion.

Retraction stories have been done, but the damage to the autistic community this past weekend was deep.

Here are two key points from statements this past weekend that you need to know:

1. Autism is not linked to PLANNED violence.

2. Autistics do have emotional empathy (feelings), but may be deficient in cognitive empathy (understanding what emotion they are seeing).

Now, let me tell you from personal experience what autism may look like:

1. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it presents differently in different people.

2. There is high functioning autism, typically referred to as Asperger's, and often based on the presence of verbal skills. I have never identified as Asperger's personally because I had speech delays, so I identify myself as HFA. HFA is based on intelligence as well as Asperger's. you also find more moderate and severe cases, which may be lower functioning. This is where you start to encounter things like an adult who is still not toilet trained. Often, this would be the end where an autistic would be nonverbal. However, there are HFAs who are nonverbal or who have verbal skills that are not quite as articulate as their "neurotypical" peers.

3. Autism is NOT a personality disorder or mental health issue. It, like ADHD, is a processing disorder.

4. Autistics are prone to meltdowns. These often occur when the individual feels overwhelmed or overstimulated or sensory overload. And it results when the person cannot communicate what the problem is. It may be more severe in nonverbals because they cannot communicate, whereas with verbals, it just takes a person knowing how to communicate with him/her. Meltdowns can be as simple as isolating oneself and crying, or they could be more physical in nature: head banging, hitting, kicking, pulling hair, biting, jumping off surfaces, throwing things, etc. But as violent in nature as these meltdowns can seem to someone who has never personally experienced someone with autism, it is not planned violence or even actual violence. And it is usually against themselves and not another person.

Warning: There are people who go too far though in the name of stopping people who would link the two together. I ran into one this past weekend when I witnessed a word attack on Facebook as a mother sought advice for her child. Lots of mothers do. But this one got attacked and accused of linking things. The other woman became unhinged. And she retaliated against me and others who were on both Facebook pages by banning us from her own.

There is something else I need to tell you. I attend ABA therapy sessions twice a month. I got connected through someone at that church. That was a positive thing. So twice a month, I have sessions in which I am learning about why I feel what I feel, how to identify what I feel, how to overcome what I feel or refocus. And two things I have learned are about perseverating and intent versus impact.

So, now you have that background, here's what happened. The woman attacked this mother on both Facebook pages, hers and another page. She got banned from the one, but then retaliated against anyone whom she thought disagreed with her.

I read the post where she became unhinged to my "neurotypical" mother. My mother confirmed as I had that the woman misunderstood the intended meaning of the post. I, as well as others, tried to explain that she misunderstood, and she retaliated against the fact that she got herself banned by banning me and others. But I want you to judge for yourself based on the nature of the posts:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Asperger-Womens-Association/124211010928102?ref=ts&fref=ts

On this page, the woman has made herself out to be the victim, called everyone else trolls, and claimed she is a victim of a witch hunt. She claims the other page on which she launched missiles and got banned from spreads hate. Her grammar is atrocious. Her posts no longer relevant to Asperger's. and her page will no longer be recommended to anyone who sees my particular therapist.

What makes me most angry about the page? Not just that banned me just for trying to tell her the truth that she misunderstood what the intent of the question was but that she then judged me without reading my comments and assumed I was some "NT mother abusing autism." Say what?!? I HAVE AUTISM. I was on her page for support and she overgeneralized and retaliated against being banned for attacking someone on another page by banning me and others! Wow!

BTW, her use of the following terms do not help her case: "trolls," "witch hunt," "gang bang."

And, I find the term "neurotypical" becoming increasingly derogatory because of her.

Here are some other things you need to know about autistics:

1. We are sticklers for the rules. So when I was presented that document by that church, I couldn't sign it because I couldn't agree to the permanent exclusions because I already know what I was told regarding the activity that non-members were allowed to attend and that is that the church could not restrict any member from an activity in which non-members can participate unless the member was under discipline. So because the church already broke that rule, I couldn't agree to let them continue breaking that rule by continuing to exclude me.

2. We are brutally honest. Don't ask us if we like your new haircut unless you are prepared for the potential hurt feelings.

But judge the AWA page for yourself by reading the comments on the post where she had launched the attack that got her banned:

https://www.facebook.com/StopDiscriminationagainstSpecialNeeds?ref=ts&fref=ts

Oh. Just so you know, it was in part my brutal honest that probably led to that document from that church. They said the exclusion was to protect me from what may be a dynamic situation or from failure and to protect others from my brutal honesty. Funny thing, if I remember correctly, we're ALL broken people in a broken world who need grace which gives more than one chance and we need to be in a church where we not only feel safe but loved and accepted and free to be honest with each other. So if you punish me for what I'm supposed to do, and you keep excluding me because you're afraid I'm going to mess up again, yet you never have me another chance to start with even though I have grown and developed over time, are you really exercising grace? Because I didn't see grace in that document. I saw legalism and judgment.

And that hurt.

All this to say, that I do understand where the misconceptions come from, but please do not judge all people in a group by the actions of one.

It is a lesson I must learn as well. We all have to learn it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Wish I Was Normal!

It's sad when a church causes someone to feel so hurt that they would speak those words. It's the biggest insult to God.

But sadly, the document they have me was deemed as abusive, discriminating, and bullying.

So now what? I can't stay because I'll be excluded. But I don't want to lose my friends.

I'm not safe where I am now. I never will be until they start practicing Matthew 25.

What they did is wrong. They hurt me and hurt my relationships because of that one document.

"Flagrant disregard for the peace and purity of the church." Because I consulted experts to try to protect everyone from implications caused by the document. But yet they did the same thing to me spreading word about me against me.

I'm being excluded because I have autism.

I'm afraid. Afraid to lose my friends but more afraid to stay. Staying means excluded. Going means I lose my friends.

I'm confused. And I'm hurt.

Dear God, I'm sorry You made me the way You did. I wish I was normal. Because maybe then I wouldn't be excluded. I'm sorry for insulting You. Please forgive me. Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me." - Be careful when looking for churches.

OMPC is not safe for people or families with individuals who have special needs and never will be. They have chosen to exclude them rather than to actually mainstream them. I know. Because ever since they paid for me to get tested and the diagnosis for autism came back, they have worked harder to exclude me citing the autism as an excuse than they have to include me. Acceptance? Not there. Love? Not there. Grace? Not there. Jesus? Not there. For in their excluding a person with special needs, they have excluded Jesus. And now they have caused me to lose my autism therapy with the only person in the Birmingham area that I have found so far that was actually willing to work with me. As a result, they have cost me my chances of success with Voc Rehab and of ever being able to get a job. And pushed me further from God. And as to my mother who may not even be a Christian? Forget it. Any chance there might have been is now gone because she has endured months of agony and anguish with me as a result of what they have done. They blocked any chance of restoration with the person who actually initiated any and all of the conflict(s) that involved me - the New Testament says we are to seek full restoration. As to church discipline? They won't do it because they don't think I can handle it. My spirit is too fragile is what I was told at one point. Then I was told they can't do it because I wouldn't be able to understand it and that because I have autism, they cannot expect me to be able to do what the non-autistic person/adult can do. Okay. Well, then, explain why they have continually added MORE restrictions when they already KNOW that I can't even handle the ones already in place? But because of what just happened and the fact that they have caused the loss of the therapy, I have had to take action that I did not ever want to have to take. Because that went too far. They asked for it. It is not that I am unable to do it, but because of them, I will never be able to do it. I'm pretty sure that it would be a safe bet that they intentionally did this in order to have yet another excuse to continue to exclude me. So if you are reading this and you have someone close to you who has special needs and you are looking for a good church that will accept you and your loved one, do not go to OMPC. Or you might end up eventually going through what I am now. And that would not be good. Safety? Never going to be there if you have special needs. Peace? They took the same vows. They caused this to happen. And some of them are the leaders themselves. UGH!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God's Plan or Mine?

Haha. I did not ask for what has happened lately. I am now back in physical therapy along with autism therapy among other things. We are still tricking my immune system through allergy shots that I now have to get every week without fail. But my left hip/pelvic joint came out of place and has thrown my bad knee and leg for a loop. And to top that, my right wrist, my dominant hand, is being ornery. Haha. I always wanted to practice more with my left hand so I can write with it almost as legibly. Guess what? I now have to. As for the autism, I wish people would stop using it as an excuse to exclude me from being involved with activities and things. Hello! Autism doesn't keep me from being able to do anything. Ignorance and lack of understanding or refusing to learn about it which leads to fear does. You know where I am now in the journey of the diagnosis? Embracing everything. I am not afraid of living life. I am not afraid of being with people. Yes, it presents challenges, but the challenges only get harder the more others exclude me. Autism has no physical signs. It is not contagious. So don't treat me like I am something to be feared. I want what everyone wants. I want to be loved and accepted. Not forced to conform to everyone else, the so-called normal people, but loved and accepted for me, as one of God's uniquely gifted people able to serve in the church, the community, the world. I'm not being rude, self-centered, or indignant if I don't look at you when you talk to me. I can't look at you and communicate because it hurts. Case in point, I am a personal story now. 3D films are bad. They have too much sensory stimulus. I have sensory and texture issues. I love music but at church it gets too loud and I feel the vibrations more than I hear the sound. It bothers me. I went to the Belk store at the Summit. I nearly fell out. The upper floor was too much stimulus. I can't stand scratchy material. It is like kryptoite. Cooked vegetables? Not happening. They tend to be too slimy. I can't do a lot of cooking because of texture issues. I didn't plan any of this. God did. For some reason, He CHOSE me to have autism, ADHD, and everything else I have. Maybe He chose me to teach others about people like myself. Maybe He put me at the church where I am now to right the wrong that churches commit when it comes to people who have special needs like me. Maybe He wants churches to open their eyes and to truly see Him through me and others like me. They don't call us PURE for nothing. Fresh honesty. Fresh joy. Fresh love. Uninhibited by fear and anxiety. Uninhibited because we have a different point of view. Autism. Two worlds collide. The personal world and the outer people world. I have a friend. She waltzed into my life and it left me vulnerable to having others enter in as well. Now I am losing my friend. And I am shaken. You see, this summer, God took a pastor and brought some new person in that I haven't even met yet in at the same time. Everyone says pastor will come back but I am worried. What if he doesn't or can't? Three months is forever! But he's not back and I am losing one of the only constants I have had most of the summer! I lost it. I tried to get control. In doing so, I fought and I tried to push people away. So much for that. That was even more scary! So for now, God's plan or mine? Not mine, but not quite His either. Not yet anyway. For now, God sits beside me and guides me, but I'm not ready to let Him have full control. I'm still too scared. Anyway, if anyone from my team stumbles on this, that's what my thoughts are right now and I invite you wholeheartedly to come and take my hands and walk with me as little by little, I start to let go and let God.

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Open Letter

Dear God,
Today I found out that the very people who were supposed to be "caring" for me and "loving me well" during the past 7-9 months really have been doing nothing but double talk. They have said one thing yet done another. Today I found out that my church will never truly be a church because it will never honor all of Your words. Today I found out that You don't really accept special needs people because the church is supposed to be a reflection of you and does not accept special needs people. Today I found out that my church does not really believe or practice biblical restoration of relationships and will not ever as they refuse to allow me to have restoration with my pastor. Today I found out that the past 7-9 months have essentially been a waste of time, energy and effort as today I found out that no matter what I do and no matter how hard I try, I will NEVER be accepted there and the very people who called themselves a team are not going to help any. Today I have evidence of betrayal. Today I have seen that I cannot trust anyone, not even You. Today what was left of my already broken and fragile heart shattered completely and finally. I tried. I failed. IF the intent of the people calling themselves a team was to PUSH me FURTHER AWAY FROM You, then they have succeeded. I'm sorry God. I tried.
Sincerely,
SES

If Churches Are Reflections of God...

If churches are reflections of God and decide to pick and choose the parts of the Bible that it will follow and the parts that it will not follow, what does this say about what God will do in terms of whether or not he will keep His word?

If churches are reflections of God and choose not to honor Jesus by including people with special needs in their community, their worship, service (volunteering), and other activities, what does this say about whether or not God will truly accept the people with special needs?

If churches are reflections of God and exclude people, regardless of whether the person has special needs or not, what does this say about God?

If churches are reflections of God, they have a long way to go to PROVE that God can be trusted!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Who Is Your Neighbor in a Broken World?

I was going to write this on my general topic blog, but then decided that it would probably fit better on this blog because as a fairly new believer, I'm actually thinking that this particular topic is better suited over here because it addresses social issues that the churches might need to investigate further and act upon. Church,  stand up and fight!

You see, I'm confused.

President Obama recently announced his support of same-sex "marriages." Now the media has had a field day questioning if he is gay. Hmmm....

In local Alabama news, a girl who is gay claimed she was excluded from a senior class composite and yearbook for being gay.

Evidence that President Obama cannot be gay? For one thing, he IS married to a woman and has two daughters. For the entire time that he has been in office, he has been the subject of harsh criticism. Come on people, he got into office at the start of a recession that was actually beginning before President Clinton got out of office. President Bush the second got all the blame for it. President Bush the second got us engaged in a war that we really did not need to be involved with while also engaging in a war that we did need to be involved with. President Bush never proactively did anything about our failing healthcare system in which insurance companies profit from underinsured individuals and raise premiums because hospitals are not getting the money owed to them by individuals who are rich enough to pay for their own healthcare but manage to get out of it because they do not have insurance and also because of people living in America illegally living off of slave wages taking the jobs that American citizens need. Do you know who paid for that $40,000 appendectomy? An underinsured individual who not only paid for his/her own medical care, but also the care of the uninsured.

President Obama took a Republican concept for reforming health insurance and got it passed and signed into effect. He has received nothing but criticism for it. Republicans now claim it is illegal to mandate that individuals get insurance. Why? Isn't theft also illegal because as it stands now, all the uninsured people out there stole thousands of dollars from me and my health care and I am underinsured (meaning my insurance pays for the necessary things, but does not include dental or the speech and occupational therapies I need for my autism). And if it's illegal to mandate individual health insurance, then isn't also illegal to mandate individual drivers carry car insurance? Also, if you are reading this and you are a healthy uninsured individual, what are the reasons for you not having health insurance? Do you not value your health and your life? You don't buy car insurance AFTER having a car accident or house insurance AFTER having a tornado take your house, do you? You buy it BEFORE there's an incident. A car and a house can be replaced, but if you become sick with cancer, you may not be able to get health insurance to get the treatments you need to survive and you might end up dying. Not that cancer might not take your life anyway, but do you understand what's at stake?

President Obama gave in to societal pressure on the issue of same-sex marriage. Does this make him any less of a good presidential candidate? No. I plan to vote for him because he was proactive in the health care reform which now lets me go to my women's doctor for a yearly checkup at no charge because it's preventive care. Men had the ability to do that for their prostates long before women could and really there's no difference in what is being checked for: CANCER.

Do I support his stance? No. Because as I understand what I've been taught in my theology classes and at church, marriage is between one man and one woman and is supposed to be for life. It's a covenantal thing that was established at creation. Adam and Eve. Covenant. The two were created to be helpmates for each other. Not one inferior to the other, but equal partners. But men are supposed to be like Christ and take the lead when it comes to church attendance. And women are supposed to submit to their husbands as they would to Christ. Don't ask me to explain that one because I honestly still don't get it except that women were created smaller than men and physiological different.

The thing is that now there are even some churches that support same-sex unions as well. As much as I will refuse to condemn any church that does this or any individual that chooses this lifestyle, I also will not condone it. I will not condone it because God called it sin in black-and-white in the Bible. But I will not condemn it because God is the only one who can do that.

The facts that were presented in the local news about the girl being left out of the senior composite. From the school's stance they told her she was supposed to wear a "drape" like all the other girls. They told her again after she chose to wear a tuxedo instead. She chose not to. Basically, if that's what was stated, then that's the rule that was presented and because she broke the rule, she is dealing with the consequences. Her stance, they left her out because she's gay. Hmm.... Does that mean that gay people are exempt from rules? Because IF in fact what the school claims is true, forget her sexuality, she broke the rules. Rules are rules.

Rules are rules. Problem there. You have some individuals, even with high functioning, who are special needs and may not always get the rules. Are the rules explicitly worded so there is no room for any loopholes? Are the rules actually even realistic? And if you're saying that the person can do what EVERYONE ELSE does or that they can have the SAME ACCESS that EVERYONE ELSE has yet you are making rules that forbid that person from actually having that, then are you really being fair when what you are saying the person can do or have is not what is happening?

Special needs. Special needs are in your churches people! Open your eyes! You may not SEE it. But listen. Look and learn. Some disabilities are hidden. Do you have a person in your church who seems "defiant" or "impatient" or "impulsive?" They may seem that way, but they may have autism or ADHD. What are you, the church, doing to INCLUDE these people? Are you doing anything? Do you understand that EVERYONE has gifts that God gave them to use for Him in the church? God doesn't see a person with autism. He sees a person that He created in His image. Why are you not including him/her when God does?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

His Story My Story My Story His Story

This past fall and winter/spring terms, the women's Bible study at my church has been one of unity in large group and intimacy in small groups. During the fall, we studied who God is and what God is like through a super fast paced study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. During the winter/spring, we began to delve more into our personal stories and learning how to REALLY LISTEN to each other. This is MY story. His story through my life and experiences.

So the BIG day came today. It was my turn to share. Only one problem. It meant communication. Communication that was not necessarily a form that I was comfortable with or ready for. I already felt the pressure of having a harder life in my short lifespan and feeling a little envious of everyone else. I had even thought in the past week that I did not even want to try to share. What could I say? How could I say it? What if it's too hard? What if it's too much? How do I tell my story without feeling unsafe?

So this past weekend, I finally landed on a solution. I hear God in music and in nature. The babbling of a creek in a park. Songs. So what if I could find a way to use that to my advantage. Use songs to help tell my story. I would still tell my story, but I would use the songs to help me communicate in a way that would feel safe for me. That way, I could just explain why those songs told my story.

So that's exactly what I did. This is my story. My story through songs. God's story through my life as told through songs.

The songs I chose that best fit my life are: "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North, "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns, "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North, "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North, "Move" by NewSong and "Get Back Up" by TobyMac.

I had some help finding scriptures to go with the songs. And I will admit, in some ways, I may have "cheated," but you know what? I was able to communicate just enough with the help of the songs. I was not trying to wimp out by using songs to help me tell my story. Nope. Wimping out would have been to back out entirely. But instead of backing out entirely, I took the creative approach to overcome my verbal communication challenges and tell my story.

So here is my story. Grant it, a small part of my story, but still my story. My part of God's bigger story.

"You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North
There's a girl in the corner with tear stains on her eyes/From the places she's wandered and the shame she can't hide/She says, "How did I get here? I'm not who i once was./And I'm crippled by the fear that I've fallen too far to love."

(Bridge)
But don't you know who you are,/What has been done for you?/Yeah don't you know who you are?

(Chorus)
You are more than the choices that you've made/You are more than the sum of your past mistakes/You are more than the problems you create/You've been remade

Well she tries to believe it that she's been given new life/But she can't shake the feeling that it's not true tonight/She knows all the answers and she's rehearsed all the lines/So she'll try to do better but then she's too weak to try

Bridge
Chorus

'Cause this is not about what you've done/But what's been done for you/This is not about where you've been/But where your brokenness brings you to/This is not about what you feel but He felt to forgive you/And what He felt to make you new

II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

To me, this song mirrors the very things that I feel and have felt on a frequent basis as I went through abuse at home and bullying at school. I did not have a safe place growing up. A lot of times when a child grows up in an abusive home, there is a lot of shame. The child sometimes has the distorted view that somehow he/she did something to deserve that treatment. But that is just not true.

"Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns
I was sure by now God you would have reached down/And wiped our tears away,/Stepped in and saved the day./But once again, I say amen/And it's still raining/As the thunder rolls/I barely hear you whisper through the rain,/I'm with you/And as your mercy falls/I raise my hands and praise/The God who gives and takes away

(Chorus)
And I'll praise you in this storm/And I will lift my hands/That you are who you are/No matter where I am/And every tear I've cried/You hold in your hand/You never left my side/And though my heart is torn/I will praise you in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind/You heard my cry you raised me up again/My strength is almost gone how can I carry on/If I can't find you/And as the thunder rolls/I barely hear you whisper through the rain
I'm with you/And as your mercy falls/I raise my hands and praise/The God who gives and takes away

Chorus

I lift my eyes unto the hills/Where does my help come from?/My help comes from the Lord,/The maker of heaven and earth/I lift my eyes unto the hills/Where does my help come from?/My help comes from the Lord,/The maker of heaven and earth

Chorus

Revelation 7:17 (ESV) "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Psalm 121:1, 2 (ESV) "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

In the middle of the storms that create the feelings of shame and fear, the hope is that God would intervene. And He does. It may be in unexpected ways, but eventually He always comes to the aid of His children.

"By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North
Why are you striving these days?/Why are you trying to earn grace?/Why are you crying?/Let me lift up your face/Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love?/Why are you still searching?/As if I'm not enough?/To where will you go child/Tell me where will you run?/To where will you run?

(Chorus)
I'll be by your side wherever you fall/In the dead of night whenever you call/Please don't fight these hands that are holding you/My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side/They swallowed the grave on that night/When I drank the world's sin/So I could carry you in/And give you life

(Chorus)
Here at my side wherever you fall/In the dead of night whenever you call/Please don't fight these hands that are holding you/My hands are holding you

And I, I love you/And I want you to know/That I, I'll love you/I'll never let you go

Psalm 37:24 (ESV) "though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand."

John 10:28-30 (ESV) "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

This song reminds me that no matter what, God is always there by my side. As a sort of defensive mechanism to the abuse and the bullying, I ended up becoming a perfectionist. Perfectionism is both a good thing and a bad thing. But being a perfectionist trying to earn grace and acceptance and love is not a good thing. Because no matter what I do, I can never earn that. Try as I might. So being able to trust that God is always there by my side is a constant struggle for me.

"Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North
So you thought you had to keep this up/All the work that you do so we think that you're good/And you can't believe it's not enough/All the walls you built up are just glass on the outside/So let them fall down/There's freedom waiting in the sound/When you let your walls fall to the ground/We're here now

(Chorus)
This is where the healing begins/This is where the healing starts/When you come to where you're broken within/The light meets the dark/The light meets the dark

Afraid to let your secrets out/Everything that you hide could come crashing through the door now/But too scared to face all your fear/So you hide but you find that the shame won't disappear/Sparks will fly as grace collides/With the dark inside of us/So please don't fight this coming light/Let this blood come cover us/His blood can cover us

Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,..."

Romans 5:9 (ESV) "Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God."

In the past couple of years, I have started to see where God has begun a healing process with me as I learn more about what has really been going on with my physical health and other areas. Recently, I learned that not only do I have ADHD, but I also have autism. And I still need testing for dyslexia. But knowing is half the battle as now I can learn more about how I am impacted and learn how to overcome the challenges that are presented. I do not have a disease that needs to be cured. I have a challenge to overcome. And I can do it because God will bring me through it. And I am not to be ashamed of it because eventually it will come to surface. I do not need to be putting up facades because in doing that I am fighting against the very people who are trying to help me and I need help. I need to stop fighting God because He is on my side.

"Move" by NewSong
I'm a man in need of a miracle/But all I have is hope/God I need to see Your power fall/Like it did in the days of old/I know You're who you say you are/Cause You've proven that to me/But this time seems impossible/Won't You help my unbelief

(Chorus)
I need to see You move/I need to see Your hand/I'm trying to live by faith/I don't know if I can/But I know You've not changed/There's nothing You can't do/I've done all that I can/The rest is up to You/I need to see You move

Like Moses in the wilderness/Like Daniel when he prayed/Like Simeon in the temple/When he finally saw Your face/Lord like them I'm just a man/And I've got everything to lose/So what you did for them/Would you do for me/What I'm desperate for is You

Chorus

I'm finding out what it really means/To trust You Lord with everything/To trust You, really trust You

Chorus

Through everything that I have encountered in my life, all of the hardships and other challenges, I have often felt that I really do need that miracle but that all I have is hope. I struggle with trusting God, but I am learning just what it really means to trust Him.

"Get Back Up" by TobyMac
You turned away when I looked you in the eye/And hesitated when I asked if you were alright/Seems like you're fightin' for your life/But why, oh, why/Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare/You saw it comin' but it hit you out of nowhere/And there's always scars when you fall that far

(Chorus)
We lose our way, we get back up again/It's never too late to get back up again/And one day you gonna' shine again/You may be knocked down, but not out forever/We lose our way, we get back up again/So get up, get up, you gonna' shine again/It's never too late to get back up again/You may be knocked down, but not out forever

You rolled out of the dawning of the day/Heart racin' as you made your little get away/It feels like you been runnin' all your life/But why, oh, why/So you pull away from the love that would've been there/And start believin' that your situation's unfair/But there's always scars when you fall that far

Chorus

This is love callin', love callin'/Out to the broken this is love callin'/This is love callin', love callin'/I am so broken/This is love callin', love callin'

What this song speaks to me about is that no matter how hard I fall, I can't fall so far that God cannot help me get back up again and get back in the fight. Whether it's because of something that I have done or something that has happened to me, I can still get back up. It is a song of hope and a song of courage. And like Gomer in Hosea when we initially hid from God but God still pursued us, I need to stop fighting and allow people to love me.

All of this realization that I am now starting to be able to share comes on the tail of having done a study on some of the names of God and identifying situations in my own life where I have seen those names the most. I still struggle, particularly with God as a Father, but I am taking baby steps and reaching milestones. I need help and I am done fighting against those who are trying to help me.

And I know God was working in this because in each of the six different songs there was one recurring theme throughout all of them that tied them all together. Frankly, this whole experience sharing my story even though through a more creative and unique channel of using song to help tell it has been very life affirming and confirming. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Contemporary Christian Music, a.k.a., Ay Ay Ay! Apparently Confusion Runs Amok Even in "Christian" Circles.

My head is spinning right now. I decided to Google the lyrics of "One World" sung by TobyMac. Little did I know that right on page one of the results would I find a blog post asserting that TobyMac and DCTalk "sing the devil's music in the name of Jesus." ?????!!!!!????? Yep! So I looked because I was curious. Yeah. The writer of that post, well, let's just say that from what I have been taught, there is NO passage of Scripture that says that a Christian can't use the rhythm and style of hip hop, rap, country, rock, etc. to glorify God and spread the message of the Gospel. Is there really a such thing as "the devil's music?" Can't prove it by me. What makes music right or wrong when it comes to the controversy of that old and stiff Southern Gospel (no offense, I'm only 33 and most of the Southern Gospel was written BEFORE I was born) and CCM?

Music, in itself, is not good or bad. God created us to sing and dance for Him. Rap is not good or bad. Where you have to ask about the quality is what is the message? IF a Christian is using his words to glorify God, encourage others, edify the church and speak the truth in love, then regardless of the music style, it is good. However, if the lyrics tear people down (race and gender included), curse God, and promote violence and hatred, then it is bad. It's not the music; it's the lyrics. So, here's my stance: Give me my TobyMac music. His music, his lyrics have helped me through some tough times of late. Between him and Casting Crowns and Tenth Avenue North, I have been able to find God. Am I where I want to be yet? No. But I thank God that there have been some people whose music has reached through my bubble and brought me back up for air.

On another note, the aforementioned post writer has apparently been a subject of controversy over some things he has apparently done. And, well, he has no way to contact him as he claims he has health issues such to the extent that he cannot read or answer e-mails. Hmmm.... No offense, but sounds fishy to me.

Secretly I kind of hope that TobyMac sues that man for defamation. Basically calling Toby the devil. Really?

Okay, I am going to go sleep over my topic of my first piece of writing that is not going to be written for publication. I might blog about what I learn along the way. God's great name/names of God. I can start it officially after the Gluten Free Expo this Saturday. Praying for good weather, more volunteers and that plenty of doctors and nurses attend.

Monday, February 20, 2012

WHY Are There So Many Versions and Translations of the Bible?

So a Facebook debate ensued when a friend of mine posted a question on a good version (other than the KJV). It was an intriguing debate of which my own curiosity has been piqued. One point brought up on the pro KJV (King James Version) was that modern versions rely heavily on something called the Critical Texts and thus have a lot of omissions and make God impersonal. Of course, this is debatable based on some of the out-of-context verses that were being used as a defense. And I need to do more research on the matter as well as ask my pastors and other friends who have seminary degrees to help explain things. The pro modern version (NIV, ESV, NASB, HSCB, etc.) side of the debate concentrated on the antiquity of the language used in the KJV, which if you think about when it was written (1600s) as opposed to now (text talk and more of a street language), really this is a good point. In the Westminster Confession, the group that wrote it believed the Scriptures should be made available to ALL people in THEIR language. The history of the KJV centers on how it came about in an attempt to put God's Word into the hands of the everyday, common person who was not necessarily educated in the Hebrew, Greek and Latin. But today, no one I know uses "thee" or "thou," thus making the KJV, in all its poetic beauty, quite antiquated. Not to say it's irrelevant, just that it's old.

In this debate, I learned that even the modern language versions are different. The NIV is more contemporary and topical. The ESV is very literal.

Let me clarify though that I am referring to versions as opposed to translations (NLT, The Message). Not that translations are bad in themselves, but they are more like a writer's interpretation rather than a language translation.

Another thing the Confession points out is that ONLY THE ORIGINAL manuscripts are the actual God-inspired Word. All versions, as a result of differences in interpretation, typos, not having EXACT translatable words, etc., have potential for error. BUT, this does not detract from the deeper, most crucial message of the Gospel and the need for salvation.

So if you are looking to take the message of the Bible to everyone, you use a version that is in the language of the majority of the people in a given area. Sort of like how you adapt a message to fit the majority of the audience. A pastor might speak on a child's terms if his audience is mostly children. He might take the same message and use more details if talking before a lot of doctors and attorneys and other pastors. Or he might shorten his sermon if he has a lot of youth and college students. Or use a simpler message for homeless people who might not have a lot of education.

Which version do I like? Well, ESV is what my church uses and my pastor stands behind. And it's very easy to understand.

And if anyone reading this has gone through seminary, I need to hear from you. What is your view and insight on this area?
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