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Friday, April 26, 2013

Let Me See Redemption Win

If you can’t see the video imbed below, click the link to Tenth Avenue North’s Worn.

I am soul-weary!

It’s been a spiritually tiring week. We watched evil in the form of the bombing of innocent people at the Boston Marathon. We heard about someone sending ricin to our elected officials. We saw a fertilizer plant blow up, harming an entire community. But that’s not the worst of it.

There were things that wearied my soul even more.

I’ve heard Christians use these events as a means of passing judgment against one particular sin, as though their own, regular sin didn’t matter as much. I’ve seen others reply to these accusations with more angry language. I’ve seen mocking of the church not just by those who don’t understand it, but those who claim to believe. I’ve seen the attack against hypocrisy become lunch for those looking for more of which to accuse us. Having been the recipient of such mocking judgments as a youth—where people made assumptions about me because they thought I was religious--it grieves me to see my brothers and sisters in Christ adding to it.

And yet, there was good.

At present, we know of two perpetrators in the bombings in Boston. Compare that to the numbers of first responders, fellow racers and residents of the city who ran into danger, picked up the injured, gave blood, and offered homes. This is positive math, folks. Let’s not forget it.

Yes, there are those who use the Bible for hate. Hitler had a book of verses—taken out of context—to feed his agenda to take over the world and annihilate the Jews. But anyone who’s read the real book knows--in context--it is about the love of a God for His people so great, He’d come into the depths of their sin and take the punishment rightfully theirs. I’ve known so many who have been extraordinary examples of that love.

Let’s talk about them!

Yes, there is hypocrisy and self-righteousness. It’s ugly and hurtful. But if any one of us looked in the mirror hard enough, we might see it at its worst.

Stop blaming, mocking and accusing. Let’s remove the plank that stings the most! The one in our own eyes. Sometimes, when we do this, we see enough to find the goodness in those we’d accuse.

Yes! You read that right. The ones we’d accuse!!!

They are human. They are sinners, just like me, rife with flaws and insecurities. And still, they can be used by God for His Glory—like Paul in the New Testament when he finally saw the light. Let’s look for that Glory! It’s wonderful, astounding, extraordinary.

It’s there!

Find it. Revel in it. Tell me about it! I want to know. Don’t only complain about what’s wrong in the church. There is so much out there that’s good.

Let me see Redemption win!!!

Other posts you might like:

Pondering a Hierarchy of Sin

What Are You Worth to God?

The Great and the Small—God!

Friday, April 19, 2013

A No-Matter-What Kind of Joy

I live in America, the “land of opportunity,” and even though times are tough here, the vast majority of us are wealthy in comparison to other parts of the world. We not only have lists of things to choose from that are purported to bring us happiness, we have reams of lists.

But with all of this, are we really happy?

When I was young (scrolling, scrolling back) we had a woman who’d come to clean our house on occasion. Her name was Mrs. Barnes.inside bus She lived in a comparatively poor neighborhood in Washington D.C. and took several buses to get to our house in the Maryland suburbs. Though she wore a uniform when she cleaned, she always graced our doorstep dressed to-the-nines in the second-hand clothes my mother had given her the week before. She’d peel off her overcoat and turn like a runway model, beaming. “You see what your mother gave me? How does it look?”

She appreciated every little thing.

This woman cleaned like she polished the throne of God. Every thronemuscle pushed against the dirt. All the while singing joyful hymns, praising her Creator. She would even come with craft projects for the spoiled children of her employers—us.

Compared to Mrs. Barnes, I had so much to be thankful for. So much that should have made me happy. And yet I wasn’t, because I lacked the thing that could fill my empty hole—a real relationship with a loving Savior.

Mrs. Barnes had that. It was evident in the Joy that busted from her polyester seems.

I want that kind of Joy. Not a “Happy becuz …” kind of emotion, but a no-matter-what sort of Joy. Not a fickle leave-me-when-times-are-tough, but a there-when-I-need-it-the-most, deep sort of goodness.

I need love. I need forgiveness. I need acceptance for who I am, with a prodding to help me be more.

I need Jesus.

Mrs. Barnes was not a great orator. She did not preach salvation to me. She lived it. And though she was not the catalyst that caused me to finally surrender my life to Christ, she was one of the many who made me look again. Mrs. Barnes will never know the great impact she’s had on my life. I suspect there are many more like her who don’t.

Are you one of those?

Other posts you might like:

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering is too Small?

The Man Who Inspired a Congregation—Sorta

The Button Lady

Friday, April 12, 2013

How To Treat a Child with Autism


I just realized that though I’ve often blogged about my son and the challenges he and I face due to his autism, and last week I complained about how people too often treat him only by his diagnosis rather than the fullness of who he is, I rarely give examples of HOW TO treat him.

The average person, who does not know my son, is not likely to have a clue since they rely solely by means of verbal communication in order to get to know someone. Because of this reliance, he or she may not know how to use the very thing my son is gifted in—heart. Though I already have a few examples of one church’s response to a member with autism (see “Jake, The Encourager”) and I also have a post by the couple who leads a ministry for special needs teens in our county (see “Young Life for Teens with Special Needs”), I have never told you how one man, who did not know my son at all, reached out to him and invited him to help in ministry.

Michael Dransfield will always go down in my memory as the man who got it right! How did he do that? By looking past the disability.

gymnasiumThe church I attended at that time held its services in their gymnasium. For this reason, it required a team of volunteers to set up and breakdown rows of chairs before and after services. After one service, I was busy chatting with a friend—as is often the case—while my son watched the hustle and bustle of the clean-up crew. Mr. Dransfield, bright smile on his face, approached my son and asked, “Would you like to help us clean up?” I quickly interceded to inform him my son didn’t understand because he had autism.

Michael—absolutely undaunted, smile never wavering in the least—answered, “That’s okay. I’ll show him what to do.”

While I himmed and hawed about whether to allow it, or if I should oversee and help—knowing he needed lots of demonstration to understand—my son had already followed Mr. Dransfield to his first chair, and was off to set it on the rack. I just sat back and watched. My son stacked chair after chair, then pushed the stack to the storage room. All at the direction of this man with a generous heart.

My son emerged from the storage room strutting like he was the man of the hour. He had purpose! Someone believed in him and waspeacock willing to take the time to work with him. I didn’t feel any of the guilt I usually feel, whenever I sign my son up for activities that would require the coordinators to find a “buddy” to oversee him. I didn’t feel the need to be the “buddy” myself. I just watched him be productive. I loved it. And what’s more, he loved it too. He was so proud and I was proud for him.

Thank you, Michael Dransfield, for giving me this beautiful image of how TO treat a child with autism. I will never forget!

Other posts you might like:

Be His Witness By Demonstrating With-ness

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering Is Too Small?

11 Days Past Autism Awareness Month

Friday, April 5, 2013

Am I An Autism Mom or the Mother of a boy with Autism?


Being that it is April, Autism Awareness Month, and I have a child with autism, I am compelled to write—once again—on this topic. I never set out to write about autism. I’m hardly an expert. But it seems that’s what you do when faced with this disorder on a daily basis.

I don’t usually share information about my son’s diagnosis right away when I first meet people—that is, unless he is standing next to melens making continual truck noises, and not responding to the person’s greeting. Then, I have to explain, he is not being rude, he’s autistic. However, if I meet you—sans son—I’d rather you not know this little piece of information. Not because I’m embarrassed by it. Only because it suddenly becomes the lens from which people view me once they find out.

“My son’s autistic,” I mention, for whatever reason.

“You should meet so-in-so,” they always respond.

I want to ask why, but hold my tongue. I know this happens because the person wants to connect me with a potential resource. However, let me tell you, I have more resources than I need, and would like to sometimes connect with others based on issues rather than my son’s diagnosis. And just like there is more to my son than his disability, there is more to ME than his disability.

A couple weeks ago, during the hand-shaking/greeting portion of our church service, a lady in front of us held her hand out to my son. I informed her, the reason he did not shake hands was because he was autistic. Yes, maybe I should take the opportunity to teach my son to greet properly in these moments, but I am unsure about forcing the greet-ee to partake in such an activity, so I don’t. After the service, the woman, who I’d never met before, asked me how things were going with the autism. Honestly, at present, they are no worse than what the average parent has in dealing with an adolescent boy. In fact, I sometimes think I have it easier! However, feeling I had to speak for the whole of my parent group (those with disabled children), I said something like, “As well as they can be.”

You see, had I said “wonderful, fantastic” (having God in my hip pocket and all) I’d be giving the impression we had no issues due to this diagnosis. Why is this a problem? Because it is untrue. There are real challenges the average person has no clue about and I’d love for CB028861that person to keep “autie families” in mind when they encounter us or make plans that might include us. Simple things like taking a young man to a public restroom (with his mother) are suddenly not so simple. Thank goodness many public facilities now have Family bathrooms, but when they don’t, I have to endure the scowls of lines of women using the restroom, and am forced to explain to each and every one of them why my fifteen year old son is in there with me.

Still, saying things are awful feels inaccurate as well. My son is more than an autistic boy. He is a sweet, kind and helpful young man—when he understands. He’s blessed my life in so many ways, and I am grateful for him. To only see him in light of his disability, only speaking of him in those terms, is somehow incomplete. Yet that is all people ask about.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care about whether you call my son an “autistic boy” or “a boy with autism.” Those are only words to me. What I want instead is for people to treat him (and to some degree me) as more than just that thing.

Other posts you might like:

Jake the Encourager

Young Life for Teens with Special Needs

Be His Witness By Demonstrating His With-ness