Thursday, June 30, 2011

Temptation to be Hard and Fake

God desires complete honesty with us. He hated the pretense of the Pharisees. That was the one thing He continually called out in front of others. I desire to be authentic in all I do. I desire to be completely honest with Him. Also in turn I want to be completely honest with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lately I have been struggling. It is my heart. It is filled with ugly. I have been reminded from listening to Dee Brestin on Moody Radio of this and my journey through the Psalms. I think I just have been stuck. I have not wanted to really deal with the hard things that life has dealt me recently. So I sit in denial.

God and I discuss many things but I hold these things back. I pretend they are not there. This is not healthy and hurts our relationship. He never forces me. He is gentle. But now I need to confess. I hate that I have to continually deal with migraines and pain. I hate that I struggle with fear that my daughter will never be okay to live on her own one day. I hate that these things limit us from many things I would like us to do. I hate that I don't deal well with my oldest daughter in the struggle of having a sister who is different. I hate that I treat my husband poorly because I want to take it out on someone. These things are all wrong.

Oh Lord save me and rescue me. I have this big ball of yuck and my only chance for freedom from the engulfing chains are your mercy and grace. Lord save me from myself. Help me accept the things that are hard with trust. Help me to give them to you in your care for me and remember I am not alone. Help me to be honest. I am beaten and bruised by the enemies lies and the lies I tell myself. I want to be whole. I want to be real. I want all of YOU and nothing more. Hold my heart secure in this position of wholeness. Oh Lord to behold You is the most beautiful thing. This is all I want. This is how I am prepared to walk this hard road with trust. You are my strength, rock and shield. You are my guide and my front and rear guard. You hold me securely in your right hand. Thank you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our World of Autism - Expressing Love with Difficulties

We have a real difficult time in this area between siblings. My oldest child is a highly sensitive child. She thinks that everyone should cry things out together and hug to work out conflict. My youngest child does not like to do much of anything but apologize and forgive with words quickly. She is sincere in this and repentant but wants to move on. She does not see a benefit in hugging and crying. As you can imagine this set up for conflict resolution is extremely troubling for the two of them. It is a continual struggle in our house.

My youngest has aspergers syndrome. She does not like her sister to hug her what so ever. Only on very special occasions does she allow a hug. She will tolerate a hug for coming and going but that is it. The only exception she makes to this rule is for her parents to hug her. I think this is because we know the right pressure she needs for this. She is uncomfortable truly if the right pressure is not applied. In other words hugs can be painful.

However, her sister does not understand at all. She sees it as a further assault. The absence of a hug is what is painful to her. Oh how I wish I could get her to understand. The problem I hear with some other parents of autistic children is that at times they are even uncertain if their children with autism love them. This breaks my heart. It is hard to know I am sure when they do not hug or express emotion too deeply. But they do love.

Today this is what played out.  I have been teaching my oldest to see the signs of love her sister expresses. My oldest came to me for hugs. She was bawling because she was so upset. She really felt unloved by her sister. She cried for probably ten minutes. (It was a big blow up.) I held her and let her cry and talk it out and cry some more. My youngest runs to get her legos out and built a sign with them. It was her sister's name and a heart. She came in and marched around holding it up. It is her way of expressing love.

It was not enough because the oldest could not see this as love because it was not a hug. So the youngest girl goes out and builds this cool design and brings it in for her. Here sister I built this for you. Again, an attempt to show love. As I explained this concept to her she started to understand. She cried some more mourning the ability to be loved on by a sister the way she desires. As we calmed down and talked it through her sister came back yet again and started doing some crazy funny dance for us. She just desires for us to laugh. She does not want to see her sister cry yet a hug is too hard for her. A hug would have stopped this whole ordeal but it is one of those things that many kids with autism struggle with.

Love is shown differently with this condition. You just have to look for it. Know they are fiercely loyal and when you need someone to go to bat for you they will be there for you. It is just going to look different. It is the way their world works. I am praying we can all understand this and know how to best express love to one another.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: The Waiting Place by Eileen Button

The Waiting Place: Learning to Appreciate Life's Little Delays

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

This book is a collection of essays that the author has put together about the waiting places in her life. She chooses certain life experiences and writes about them. Talks some about how God works as we wait and how we need to just enjoy the moment of waiting. Though the book was not awful, I did expect more to be written about God. Instead I learned a whole lot about the author and her life. I think some people can relate to the stories in the book but it was a missed opportunity to be pointed more toward Christ in these things.

The author herself seems sweet. I feel like I know her because of the stories she has written. They are good and entertaining. I mourned with her through disappointments. Laughed through funny times. I now feel as she is a friend.

When I select a book I look for one that does point me more toward Christ. I want that to be the center. I do not read for entertainment. This book was more entertainment reading with a little bit of God thus it is called a Christian book.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go to the linkThe Waiting Place: Learning to Appreciate Life's Little Delays

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Real Literal Mind - Another Aspergers View

Today we had to follow a lot of street signs like this. Arrows that point up. My young aspie said, "Mom I do not understand this we cannot go up, it is not like we can fly up there." Her perception of the world is so very different. I must continually listen so I know what she is thinking. What she reasoned makes perfect sense the sign does point up. So I explained to her that they cannot make the arrow point appropriately because it is on a 2D surface. Only if they used 3D they could make it the right way. So on 2D this is how the direction go straight looks.

Yesterday I was trying to teach her to walk in a straight line on the sidewalk. She did not realize she needed to do this when following family. It was necessary because many people were coming and going. When she followed this straight line concept she kept going until she came to a wall. A door was to the right before the wall yet she was focused on keeping a straight line. We had to explain to her that she just needed to follow the parent. It is okay to turn when they turn. We had to draw a picture to demonstrate.

Then tonight she saw a commercial for the new remake for Footloose. She saw them dancing and asked, "Mom if her foot is loose how can she dance?" She was dead serious. Her mind thinks very literally.

It must be hard to live in a world that is so different. It may be like living in a foreign country. So many things do not make sense. I am listening and teaching. She learns so well and grows from those things. I am so very glad and thankful that she is so verbal. I am also so glad I am so attentive. God is giving us both insight and wisdom. I adore her. I take so much for granted. Most people learn these things naturally as you go. Some like my daughter don't. Before you are tempted to judge people because their view is different take some time to get to know them first. Their view of the world just may be different from you own.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Facebook Frustration - Reason for My Absence

Facebook is running a beta test that has caused some users without their knowledge or permission to lose their Most Recent/Top News buttons on their home page. You can read about it here. This creates a problem for social networking. Now all users in this beta test only see what Facebook decides to show them under News Feed. Some items are from posts just a few minutes ago and others are posts from yesterday. It is a jumbled mess.

The way I navigate Facebook and use it as a way to pray for you all and the issues you are going through in life is first scanning all Tops News. Then I browse my categories of friends that I can get from the Most Recent button (which is now missing). I have created categories for groups of friends. Some of you are my partners in ministry, some siestas, some church family, some biological family, some high school friends, etc. The lists go on. I view each of these lists as time permits to keep up with you all and network socially.

Now with this change I can no longer do this. Instead I just see a jumbled mess of random updates and it is very frustrating. I can still pray and interact with the first page that comes up but that is all. I will be missing most all of the other posts that do not make it to that first page. So this picture accurately shows how I feel about this.

Until a fix, I am sorry for not interacting or being around on Facebook unless they get this fixed it seems quite pointless to me. It would only be one sided with me posting and not interacting. I have emailed them about this bug. It seems many in the test group are complaining. I have not seen one positive post about this. A friend has emailed them for me as well. You can email them as well for me if you like. Also my ministry page is still the normal kind so you can like us there by going here It will be easier to interact there. I may simply open a new account. Hoping to get all my friends back. I am just taking this as a time to break for a bit. Know I love you all dearly and hoping it will be fixed soon. You can still email me at angela [at] refreshmysoul [dot] com and find me on twitter here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Trusting God in Everything by Jan Johnson

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

This 94 page retreat guide is set up in 7 chapters that explore the 23rd Psalm. It is designed to read slowly in a quiet retreat like place. I did not have the opportunity to review it this way but instead reading through it at my review pace, I was challenged to see my Savior as a wonderful Sheppard who is enough for everything.

This little Psalm addresses our needs in every way. It is one that is beneficial to just let sink in deep as you ponder it. The author broke it into pieces as we studied verse by verse and included different Bible translations which proved helpful in exploring this in-depth. She also provided word meanings.

Scripture is really all we need to grow and this book provides this. You don't need flashy books just Scripture. We do need to focus more on meditating slowly on the words of God.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon click on the link above.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some Thoughts on God and Suffering

I am listening to the audio book, A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada. You can get it free all this month from Christian Audio. They offer a free audio book each month! An amazing ministry.

In this book I am just amazed at how brave she is. She is writing this book in the midst of her great pain. Usually when I am in a season of great pain I will back off a bit in my writing. Yet I look at her and she is facing it head on. So it has inspired me to do the same.

I have been struggling greatly this past month with migraines. My migraines are worse then the ordinary variety because they can cause a stroke. Because of my brain scan it is possible I have actually had a stroke during an episode. So it is something that is a little scary and I take seriously. It is frustrating when I have to fight daily through a season like this. To complicate matters my bones as well have been very arthritis like. Again, a battle with everyday pain. Yet no one knows. It is an invisible illness.

Invisible illness is so hard. It feels like being trapped in a prison of invisible bars which no one can see but yourself. There is no breaking free. I am completely at the mercy of God. Why? Not really sure. Yet I trust. I trust Him and it keeps me desperate for Him so for that I give Him glory. However or why I have been given this companion of pain, it has been allowed by God. So it is for a greater purpose than I can even see. I trust. I walk. I cry. I trust.

Love this quote, speaking of pain, "It is a full blown attack on my mind body and spirit. It is like an all out war and it is not pretty. I believe satan views disability as his last great stronghold to defame the great character of God. The devil relishes when God's people complain and doubt."  ~Joni Eareckson Tada

It is funny with invisible disability because as I ride up the elevator at church with older people they look at me and comment that I am youth. Oh to feel like a youth. I just grin and wonder if my pain is the same as theirs. . What happens when I turn their age? Will the pain increase? Will it stay the same? I just say a quiet prayer for them. I understand pain more than anyone knows. I look normal and healthy so they cannot understand. I think even if I said it is painful to take the stairs, they would not believe me.

So what do you do with this? You can get biter and turn away from God seeing that what He allows is not best. You can be your own savior. Or you can turn to Him, and absorb the pain while counting it a joy that you even get to share in some of the sufferings of Christ. It is an honor. It is a deeper place of intimacy.

Don't get me wrong, God is the Healer. He can heal. I pray for healing all the time. Yet this is the time to understand what to do when He says no. When He says no, there is a blessing even in that. Trust Him.

I just want to encourage you if you are suffering with an invisible illness. Hang tight to Christ. He never lets go. Rest in Him. Trust Him. Know nothing is allowed unless God knows it will bring a greater glory. Trust Him. So you will not see me complaining. It is pointless. I will just keep on smiling and trusting and enjoying a greater place of intimacy that only my Lord and Savior can understand. If you are in this same place please let me know. I would love to pray for you.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

X-Men and Aspergers - A Mother's View

My husband and I are going on a date to see the new X-Men movie. We are science fiction geeks and enjoy these things together. I am really into observing human behavior so seeing the back story of these fictional characters will be especially interesting to me. PLUS a friend of mine has a son in the movie which makes seeing this one an even more fun event. And it puts us a few degrees of separation closer to Kevin Bacon. Okay so I digress here...

In preparation for seeing this film we watched the last X-Men movie a few nights ago. It was the one where they were making a cure for the mutants. How they thought they were defective. I was thinking how real this is to our life. Some of the characters wanted to get the cure while others did not. Some felt there was nothing wrong with them. This mutation was a gift. This is the debate I see in the autism community as well.

Personally, I only have experience with my own child who is most likely mild aspergers. She does struggle understanding social situations, has sensory issues, is somewhat delayed developmentally, very literal minded, but pays very close attention to detail, solves problems in creative ways, and seems to be happy most of the time. She is amazingly smart and so funny though she does not realize it. She is honest, reliable, loyal, and determined especially if it is a topic that becomes a borderline obsession. She amazes me. She is different from the majority but I would not want to "cure" it.

I have no idea what it is like to have a severely autistic non verbal child so it is easy for me to appreciate the traits on this end of the spectrum. I am a believer that God makes us all perfect. Sadly in a fallen world things are not perfect here yet God is still sovereign over them. Our weaknesses here make us stronger and draw us nearer to Him if we let them. So like the X-Men, I see my child with super abilities. Sure she is different and this presents difficulty but we need people like her. I am thankful. No need for a cure. Just good training and teaching. Our family is stronger and more compassionate because of her. We would not trade our situation for the world.

Friday, June 3, 2011

CD Review: Abide with Me featuring Phillip Keveren

I received a copy of this CD Free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Abide with Me, piano and praise is a nice compilation of Phillip Keveren's favorite hymns that inspired him in his life. He is a very talented piano player. I really appreciate an instrumental CD that inspires one to praise the Lord. It includes some of my favorite hymns as well. I found it calming and peaceful. I could see myself doing my writing while listening to it. It is a wonderful CD to have in your collection.

To get a copy from the Discovery house go here.
You can download individual MP3's from Amazon here.

Some Thoughts on Phineas and Ferb - Dealing with Idols of the Heart

I really find this kids show comical. Take a secret agent platypus, highly gifted boys who can build anything, then add a wanna be villain and you have a good show. Oh and do not forget the sister who is always trying to "bust" them by showing their great inventions to their mom.

It reminded me of something I have been doing a deep study on lately. Idols of the heart. I love the example of these two boys because even though they are highly intelligent and do amazing things they are never prideful about it. They are not disobedient either. They are never trying to hide their adventures or inventions they just simply disappear everyday because of something the evil Dr. Doof is doing inadvertently.

These boys have been one hit wonders, put together huge events, built amazing restaurants or roller coasters, even a portal to Mars to name a few of their summer adventures. They are amazing. If anyone had a right to be prideful it would be them. However they are not at all. When their amazing inventions disappear they are surrendered to that. They don't know where they go or why but they are ok with it. Yet their sister gets all flustered she cannot bust them.

The reason I love their example is because they are not too attached to their accomplishments. There are no idols of needing approval, recognition, or fame in their hearts. They are using their great giftings to live life and make summer better for others along the way.

Their sister Candace on the other hand has a severe need for approval. So much so that she loses opportunities for enjoyment of life because she is all focused on busting them. She desperately needs approval. Thus making it obvious it is an idol in her heart.

I wonder do you have anything in your life that robs you of the things you should be enjoying? Anything that rears its ugly head in you? Anytime that happens in your heart you may be dealing with an idol. This is how we participate in idol worship. We get so focused on something that it takes all of our time and attention. It gets our worship. We cannot rest until "it" happens.

So I ask you, do you have something in your heart like this? Have you recognized it as an idol of some sort? The first step is recognizing and admitting/confessing it. Then seek to replace that thing with Christ. If you have a desperate need for approval. Don't worry in Christ you are fully approved. Rest in that. It is only in knowing who we are in Him and who we belong to that will truly set us free from these heart idols.

I am glad for the example of Phineas and Ferb. Leave me a comment about your thoughts on this if you have seen the show.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And the Winner Is....

Heidi! Congrats girl! Hope you enjoy your free coffee and books!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our School's Out contest!

Please email me your mailing address at angela [at] refreshmysoul [dot] com and I will get them right out to you!
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