Friday, May 31, 2013

Praise You In This Storm

Dear Oklahoma Friends and Family, the Casting Crowns song which my post is titled after comes back to me right now. I feel a sense of déjà vu as I remember that two years ago, we endured the same weather pattern here in Alabama. It literally feels as if our weather has flipped upside down this year. I am torn. All I can say is stay strong and God is there, with you. Sincerely, a former Oklahoman

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

So my "friend" was gone for two weeks. And right now, I wish he was still gone because I haven't had quality since he's been back. And it feels like he's not my friend anymore, and that really hurts. At a time when I need my friend the most, he's NOT there. I feel sad. I feel confused. I feel torn. If this is what friendship is going to be like, I no longer want any friendship with anyone because in the end I will only be hurt and that's not fair.

Also, yesterday, I made my first real leap of faith with God. My mom keeps saying we'll make it work, we'll make it work. I don't know how we'll make it work. If she doesn't get a new job soon, we'll be down to bare bones minimum between whatever disability and veterans disability is each month. It may mean I cannot get essential medications or essential needs for a long time. Especially since my insurance is bare bones until I can reapply without denial next year (the "Obamacare") and doesn't cover some of the therapy I need due to the autism and other unaddressed issues. Voc Rehab doesn't really help much with what it used to either.

Part of that decision meant understanding that one of the reasons I didn't get the job is because I still am not socially ready for a job. So I'm taking a different and slower path. I'm focusing on therapy and volunteering per doctor recommendations to build toward readiness. I'm not giving up, but I realized yesterday I was seeking a paid job for the wrong reasons. 

I want to be a missionary. I want to use puppetry. That is my job. I want to work with others who have autism and help churches understand the role of autism in their churches. That's my job. I already had my job all along. I just need to figure out how to gain financial support for it. 

Friend or no friend, I'm sure Tom would be proud of me for my decision and what I just openly acknowledged. Now if I only knew what he was.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Am Healing

Even though I still have some physical struggles and even though I have to constantly deal with the challenges of autism and ADHD, I wanted to share my thoughts. I am healing in ways that most people cannot fathom or understand.

I am healing.
I have immune deficiency. 
I wait for the day we can move forward into a life of infusions.

I am healing. I no longer NEED my ADHD medicine and it is now completely out of my system.
I am less fidgety, except when nervous or tired and then I cannot control my need to fidget anyway.

I have autism. 
But I am different, not less.
Treat me like you want to be treated.
Respect me like you want to be respected.
Give me my dignity. 
Help me to bring out my verbal communication.
Do you see how I am gifted in puppets and painting and music and writing? Use my gifts to help me communicate, to help me feel useful, to help me be me.

I have a mom.
She is persistent and relentless.
Don't hurt her baby. 
She might become a mama bear.

I have a friend.
He was a pastor to me.
But now he's just my friend.
He's still a pastor for others though.
He is also like a second (and better) human dad.
He has a special connection with me that I cannot explain.
But it is good and it is necessary and God let it happen.
He believes in me even when I struggle to believe in myself.
He believes in me even when others might not.
He is compassionate and God gave him a big heart.
Because of me and his connection with me, he is now better prepared for a future in which the world has to hurry and start adapting in order to not just be aware of autism, but to embrace those of us who have autism so we can feel loved and accepted, so we can belong, so we can fit in, so we can function as a part of society. 
My friend will be part of the revolution in churches that will spearhead the adaptation of this world. 
My friend is special.
My friend is brave and courageous. He has to be in order to be my friend.
He is consistent and gracious. 
He is loving and tenderhearted.
He is my friend.

I have another friend.
She can seem kind of quirky. Then again, so can I!
She is an artist. Just like me!
She has an easy spirit. Just like me!
She has lots of love. Just like me!
Once you get deeper with her, you get a true friend with a loving heart that is so big that there's no way to escape the love.

I am learning to know God and to see God. 
My friends help a lot with that.
I don't get God in the books. 
I don't see God in the books or in church.
I hear about God at church.
I read about God in the books.
But I feel God. 
God is in the nice, cool breeze on a hot summer day.
God is in the light, refreshing rain after a long, hot week. 
God is in the babbling creek that you get your toes wet during a hot day at the park.
God whispers through creation.
I'm different, so I sense God differently.
See that beautiful rose, so delicate and frail? That's God!
Hear that tiny kitten mewing? That's God!
See a community rise up together after a disaster? That's God!
Feel loved by friends and family? Even that's God!

I was hurt really bad.
By someone who was supposed to be a dad.
By some people who called themselves friends.
By people who said they cared.
Some of them are no longer in my life. 
Others are reunited and also went through their own struggles.
Even though I am different, I am also the same.
We all struggle.
We all need to feel loved and accepted.
We all need to heal.

I am healing.
I am brave.
I am a friend.
I am a child.
I am an adult.
I am a person.
I am God's creation.
I am me!
I am gifted.
I am talented.
I am smart.
I am beautiful in spirit.
I am fun.
I am funny in my own way.
I am creative.
I am blessed.
I am loved.
I am valuable.
I am growing.
I am able in my own ways and sometimes with help.
I am healing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Don't Judge Me By What You See!

When you look at me, can you see anything wrong with me?

Can you tell that I have mitral valve prolapse, asthma, allergies, immune deficiency, gluten intolerance, ADHD, autism, and hearing loss in one ear? 

Can you tell that I lived through abuse and overcame being bullied?

Can you tell that I am anxious? That I missed my friend Tom because he was gone? That I have a crush on someone? That I am scared of being rejected by another church? 

Can you tell I love music, films, puppetry, dolphins, sign language, and painting? That I play many instruments? That I have a Deaf dog? That I have a cat with megacolon? Can you tell that I am worried about whether my mom will have a new job before next month is over and whether I will ever be able to hold a job at all?

Can you tell I am waiting on the results of IgGs to determine if I can be put on life-saving IVIG? 

Can you tell I had my appendix, gall bladder, and tonsils and adenoids removed or two sets of ear tubes?

Can you tell I have a speech disorder? That I worry about how my family will be able to afford therapy for it and autism and the technology we need to help me with my challenges? That I worry about how we can afford my new backup glasses next month and the dental work I still need? 

Can you tell that I feel scared, anxious, and glad about God?

Can you tell this from looking at me?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Churches vs Westboro Part II

I said yesterday that in the face of disaster that a REAL church mobilizes to help. Westboro has released its statement asserting the same thing that happened to Tuscaloosa for the same reason also happened in Oklahoma. Well, here's what I have to say:

Dear Westboro,

You have no idea what being a church is about. You have forgotten about God's grace and love. While you sit at home and run all over the country spewing your hate speech, REAL Christians are doing what Jesus would do. What would Jesus do right now in the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado? Read Matthew 25. Jesus would clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless. Churches and even universities in Oklahoma have stepped up to do just that. Throughout the Bible, one will read that God loved us while we still sinners, that He loved us so much that He sent His ONLY SON to die for us on the cross. An innocent man took all our sins upon himself and became guilty. That's the Gospel. A REAL church shares the Gospel. Dear Westboro, I am going to demonstrate the Gospel to you right now. You spew hate. I cannot hate you because God loved me so much that His Son died for me. I am imperfect. I have sinned. When my friend couldn't call me because his daughter was getting married and his family came earlier than planned, I was jealous. And I sinned against him and as a result I sinned against God. But you know what? My friend demonstrated love and forgiveness and grace and he is STILL my friend! Just like God is STILL there for me because of His great love for me! I have autism. I have an immune deficiency. Doctors gave me five years to live outside a bubble. I am now 34. Why? Because clearly God has a purpose for me and loves me. Why do I have autism? I don't care. It's my genetics. It's environmental factors. But it isn't my sin or the sins of my parents because when the disciples asked Jesus whose sins made the man blind, He said it wasn't punishment for sin. Dear Westboro, you're spewing venomous lies about the very character of God. And you will face God's judgment one day just like everyone else. When you stand before God, and God says to you, "Why should I let you into Heaven when you went all over the USA spreading hate in my name and had all those hate websites using My name?" what will your response be? God will say, "Depart from me, I knew you not." Because instead of helping the least of these, you spewed hate and spite. "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me....Whatsoever you didn't do to the least of these, you didn't do to me." What are you going to do? 

A Growing Believer

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Churches vs Westboro

What distinguishes churches from Westboro?

1. The message. Churches don't go around spreading hatred. Churches share the Gospel. The Gospel is full of Good News about love and grace. 

2. Westboro has a site called God Hates the World. Clearly this contradicts the Bible in itself. John 3:16a-"For God so LOVED the world...."

3. In times of disasters, churches don't go around claiming they were punishment for sins. Even if they might believe that theologically. In times of disasters, churches are mobilizing partners and members to go in to provide relief. Westboro? They go in and protest asserting it was a "Godsmack" and telling people to repent.

4. For what it's worth, according to Westboro, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON IN THE BIBLE WILL GO TO HEAVEN. They disagree with anyone who doesn't believe exactly the way they believe, so according to them, God hates Christians. They protest Protestant Churches. Oh wait, did someone forget to tell them that just because the word "protest" is found in the word "Protestant," that that is not what being a Protestant means? 

Anyway, I want to send out a word of encouragement to all those who have suffered from the recent tornado outbreak. Having seen what happened in Alabama, I know this is something that will have long term impact. Oklahoma Strong. 

By the way, I secretly, now publicly, wish Westboro would be hit as I'd love to hear their justification and reason for it if they do. 

Dear friends and family, regardless of what Westboro says, stand strong.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Frenetic Friday

Okay. So I did the interview. No job. At least I tried and got practice. I wasn't exactly meshing with this particular one anyway. I'm not sure why. Not exactly. It may not even be on my end. Am I disappointed? Slightly. But I'm okay. It means I wasn't quite ready yet. I'm fine. 

On the medical front? Awaiting test results, follow up with the oncologist next week, and plan treatment approach. My white blood count is finally in normal range after SIX YEARS and now we're watching those IgGs and subclasses again to see if I can benefit from and we can persuade insurance to cover infusions. We knew it was coming. It may be the last option short of bone marrow biopsy. 

I miss Tom!! About right now, he's probably sleeping or about to wake up tomorrow because the other side of the globe is almost a whole day ahead of us! But now I know how Santa Claus does it all in one night!! I think? I will be jumping for joy when I hear him again! Seriously! One more week....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thoughtful Tuesday

Sometimes life is a fight. Everyday my life is a fight. I have autism. Life is more challenging for me. Sometimes I need people to help me fight. Tom is one. My mom. Friends. But when you enter my world, you become a fighter with me. And I need more fighters. Tom's around the globe right now. But I know his words are echoing right now. His pride. My mom's pride. God, are You proud of me right now too? I'm really trying. Who are we fighting? Those who try to tear me down or try to keep me down. And there are many that have, do, and will. Everyone has a fight though. And that comforts me because it means I'm not alone. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Manic Monday

You know that feeling of dread when you either forgot to study for an exam you knew about or you walk into class and the teacher essentially says, "Welcome to hell. Your worst nightmare is about to come true. Pop quiz." Well, that's how I feel.

Short of studying the mock interview questions and hoping those will be asked today, I feel unprepared. I feel a little helpless. 

But, I know I have my mom and my friend Tom both strongly supportive of me right now.

Tom has asked me to e-mail him about it later as he's on his way around the globe probably even right now. 

I'm sure I have others cheering for me as well. 

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest. I have to eat and get dressed for the interview now. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

To my birth mom and to my non-biological moms, to my friend Tom's wife, to the single women with no families and to the moms of furbabies. God created Eve to be a helpmate to Adam. Women were created to be nurturing. To all the mothers of special needs. Your job is more challenging, but you will reap more blessings.

One word of caution though: Watch those sneezes! They can cause whiplash.  I have to seek care tomorrow before or after my interview. 

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Thought

Saw my first ballet performance today. 

Scored a purple desk chair for $6 and a pink flamingo for $.25. 

And learned that you can possibly get whiplash from a sneeze. 

And that's how I end this weird week before Tom leaves and I have my interview. 

Two main things to pray for this week:

Pray for me to feel better and do well on the interview regardless of the outcome.

Pray for Tom as he travels this week to Japan and Thailand and for a safe return. I happen to know there is a certain someone he is wanting to meet and he has to return safely if he wants to do that!! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Thoughts

So my friend Tom is leaving for about two weeks and this is going to be a really trying time for me as we haven't gone that long without communicating since things transitioned in January. I don't know if he understands how much this is going to test me and how much he will be missed.

I have a job interview Monday afternoon. 

Social group graduation on the 21st.

Oncologist on the 16th.

I want to speak from the heart now.

Ever since I started writing because of what happened and the conflict that started me writing, it was because people wouldn't let me have a voice in things. They blamed me even though the start of the conflict really was not my fault. Not when you fully assess what started it. 

And although maybe when I look back, I could have done things differently in terms of my response, but I honestly did not have the tools I have now. However, neither do I feel like the other parties truly acted with the grace they spoke so much about. 

I honestly do not believe that anyone fully understands grace until they are at a point in which they are forced to seek it out and happen to find the one or two people who consistently demonstrate it to them. For me, Tom has been THE main person who has done exactly that.

Tom has seen me through the worst of times and now some of the best of times. Yet he has not once abandoned me even when he has probably had every reason to do so. Because of his example, I can now see where God can handle whatever I throw at Him and yet will still be there waiting for me at the end of it all. 

But I also want to say that I will never be anything but honest. Yet I do feel like there may be others who have been less than honest with me and things are starting to unravel as a result. It is frustrating at best. I am asked to be honest, yet they are not being honest with me. And it hurts. 

I have a hard enough with trusting people, with trust in general, and this does not help. All I have ever wanted is the truth. And I have given them every chance I can to be honest with me. They still have that chance even now. Why? Because of grace. 

I am going to write a few letters over the summer to a few of them because I feel it would be the most appropriate thing I can and should do because I need to get some things off my shoulders if I want to heal from the hurt that was inflicted on me by their actions. And maybe by my taking this first step, they will respond in kind. 

Who knows? But surely it cannot hurt to try. Especially since Tom can attest to the growth I have had these last few months. 

I will never be perfect. Neither will they. But there are things that we all could have done better to better preserve the dignity and the respect and the integrity and the peace and the purity of each other and of the church. 

It will not presently change anything. Not as long as their man made document exists. Because I still feel it is unbiblical. And honestly, they just do not have the necessary resources in place to integrate people, particularly adults, with special needs right now and until they do, it is not the safest place. But who knows? Maybe one day, with Tom's compassion and firsthand experience, and the fervent prayers and strategic mobilization efforts of others, they will. And as Tom and I talked about one time, he'll have the honor of saying, "I told you so" to the others because of God's ironic plans. 

My heart remains with my friends, but I have to move forward right now and I have to heal, so for the season, I have to be in a different church where resources are already in place. 

I just really wanted to get this off my chest. Because I cannot clarify things with Tom until after he's back and I don't need it weighing me down on top of the fact I'm already missing him! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Thought

So this Westboro Baptist Church group which has extremist thinking and seems fixated on the sin of homosexuality and wants to blame every bad thing that happens on homosexuality is coming to Tuscaloosa to assert their misbelief that the tornadoes of April 27, 2011 were God's wrath for homosexuality? Well, this could be interesting!

They are a hate group. They make Christians, TRUE Christians, look bad. They give God a bad name. 

Their website address? Ordinarily, I wouldn't be so bold about things like this, but seriously, I do feel that I must speak up on this. 

First of all, yes, I do believe in predestination because it is scriptural. Second, I do believe Jesus came to die for our sins to make a way for us to come to God. It's called grace. Third, I do believe that sexual immorality is a sin based on Scripture, but I don't believe God sent disasters just because of that. I looked up the flood they referenced on their site. No where in the first six chapters was there reference to sexual immorality (that I could make out literally). God was sad that people had become so violent so He destroyed them. There are, after all, many sins. 

I live in Alabama. Let me tell you what I remember. When that tornado came (which I literally called a monster), it tried to destroy a state, a region. Physically, it did destroy a lot. But let me tell you what else I saw in the hours, days, weeks and months that followed. I didn't see a God of hate and judgment. I saw a God of love, compassion, grace and mercy as people came from all the state and the country and even from around the globe to help Alabama residents recover. I saw outpourings of love from all over the world. Does that sound like the wrath of God? 

Alabama stands strong in the face of adversity. Alabama will always stand strong. 

What this WBC group does is wrong. They spread hate. Our response should be love and grace. I secretly pray that a minister will join any counter protest against them and share the TRUE Gospel with them. Because they clearly haven't heard it. 

And Wiki, as much as I am against it, has a good write up on them and their leader.  But what I would love to see and hear is what area pastors have to say about this group and its beliefs. 

In the end, we are not God and we don't know everything about God except for what He chose to reveal to us. In the end, God is the only one who can judge anyone. But in the meantime, we must fight against false teachers, which is what WBC is. They are a sick people, and much to my shock, the irony is that another hate group, the KKK, finds WBC to be too extreme even for them. 

Dear God, I pray over this stir that WBC is causing touting that natural disasters are because of Your wrath. I am sad that this group misinterprets Your Word and perverts in such a manner that it can literally cause people to turn away from You and from TRUE Christians who are not hateful. I know You are in control of all things even when I am less than certain, and You are even in control of this situation. I know You hate no person. You hate the sins they do and You feel sorrow for them, but You love them all the same. I pray that You awaken WBC to their wrongdoings and continue to work in those who encounter them in a positive manner. It's in Your hands. Thank You for loving me and for blessing me. Thank You for blessing Alabama and for loving its residents. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Super Saturday

It's cold! In May! In Alabama! Birds chirping. God's humor. Molly Jean will not be shaved this year. Welcome kiddie pool, hose, and soap!

Three main needs after utilities, housing, transportation, medical, and food? 1. New glasses for backup. 2. iPad with cellular for job which I need to get the iPad. 3. Pool.

Adding more therapies in addition to ABA. Speech, painting and puppets. Good news? Puppets are helping me be more verbal! And from what I understand people like verbal! Now about that honesty?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

Thankful too. But there's something about roses that makes me thoughtful. No two roses are exactly the same. Never. Like people. Even twins. I'm sure my friend Tom would say Amen! to that. And in my ABA session today, we focused on preparing me for mock interview Tuesday (last social group before "graduation") and some things Tom can do to help ease some anxieties I have about him leaving and being gone soon. I have to prepare my object lesson for him too.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Well, God Did Give Me Lungs....

Now I am THAT patient. The one who lets out a blood-curdling scream at a doctor's office. Thanks for my lungs!

Crying Out to God

In the modern world, I'm sorry to see You excluded from church Jesus. Maybe churches have forgotten about the least of these as they continue to reinvent discrimination. I hardly ever see mixed race churches. Most of the churches I see are rich and white. I haven't exactly seen a church with a poor congregation. I hardly see a church with special needs people. Maybe one or two in wheelchairs, but hardly any other. Apparently hand flapping and squawking is too much for them even though You God accept them and gifted them just as much as You did anyone else. I hardly ever see a church with women who came from abusive families. I hardly ever see churches open their doors anymore to the person who needs food or shelter or even a friend and a kind hearted person willing to listen. Whatever happened to real ministry here at home? You know my family is facing financial upheaval and in the meantime, I need new eyeglasses, 12 dental procedures, our garage door is broken, our mailbox post and mailbox need replacing, our dog needs a doghouse that won't have the roof fly off in the wind, I need infusions as soon as the doctor agrees to them, I need an iPad before getting a job but need a job to afford the iPad, and we need food. My mom needs a new job. Without it, I can't go to the doctors for treatment anymore and I will die. But no one is checking to see if we are okay. Not one person. No one is checking to see if we need anything. No one is doing ministry to me or to my family. No church wants me. Why? Because as soon as they found out I had autism last year at my old one, they immediately grasped every negative and untrue thing about autism and pushed me away from You. And because I got vocal, the new one has pushed me away too. I have found NO SAFE CHURCH yet. No loving church yet. No church that knows how to include You. It makes me sad. And I have tried. I have tried so hard to be a person who can be respected and belong. I have tried to be a friend to others. But no matter how hard I try, no one seems to want me. Not the way You created me. They want me to be something or someone I cannot be. The only person I have had even bother to be a REAL friend to me-Tom-I don't even know anymore if it's a friendship because he still treats me as though he were still my pastor and not entirely as a friend. After almost five months, I still don't know him as a friend. And I'm really wrestling with that. After five months, I still see no sign of being moved toward church membership. And I'm ready to just give up. It hurts God to see and to experience this. And whoever sees this may end up judging me for it, but You know what? I don't care anymore because there may be one person out there who reads this who may be able to relate to what I'm going through right now and realize that they are not alone. I feel alone. I feel hurt. I feel rejected. I feel sad. I feel frustrated. I feel confused. I feel unwanted. I feel isolated. I feel like no one cares. I feel like You don't care. I asked You to help with the friendship with Tom and I feel like it's unraveling and not because I didn't try. I did. But even if it wasn't his intention, I still feel neglected and unwanted by him. I asked You to help my family be provided for, and now we're about to unravel. What did I do to deserve all the bad stuff? Why have You abandoned me? Why God? Why?