Monday, December 27, 2010

Hebrews Past and Present (and future)

We're done with yet another Advent season of Hebrews! :) I really like going through it. Last year, I had to cling to the promises of Jesus being ultimate and my example in perseverance a lot because I was going through a pretty rough patch with finding work and my mom freaking out about me not having a steady job. I was also still dealing with my past because the current dynamics of my family were bringing it up. 

This year, I was surprised to find that the only real terrible distraction from the true meaning of Christmas was all the preparations: getting stuff for the casserole, picking my aunt up so she could help make the casserole, being ready to go over to my cousin's house, etc. It wasn't a terrible distraction relatively speaking :D Though, I was thinking about it when I was up in the middle of the night & that's why it took me longer to get back to sleep. I think Mom's fretting about all that - starting on Christmas Eve was a factor. When she was worried about it Christmas day, I kindly told her that I knew the plans, and she probably shouldn't freak out so much that she misses Christmas altogether. I had to remind myself of that. Was my righteousness in how well I helped my aunt make the casserole or in Christ? Was our holiday success wrapped up in getting out of the grocery store on time and to my cousin's house on time or was its success in gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for why Christ came to earth as a baby? 

No matter if I deal with a really intense family crisis like I had with a relative dying around Christmas 2007, or whether it's just the mundane things, I always have to remember who is supreme and handle the rest of Christmas through that lens. This way, no matter what happens, I can always find hope and joy. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Faith is concrete!!!!!!!

I've been bouncing the idea around of faith being concrete for a while to answer the question: How can God reveal Himself to people who rely primarily on the concrete world rather than on abstract concepts? Today when I read Hebrews 11 it hit me. Verse one says, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." Light-bulbs DEFINITELY went on in my head!!!!!! 

I was listening to OC Supertones' song Faith of a Child. Suddenly, I realized that kids do have faith, and they don't wait until they can grasp abstract thinking. They get it when they are still in the sensorimotor & concrete operations stages of life (Thanks Piaget!) in other words, infancy to middle childhood. Their faith is first expressed in their parents when they form some sort of attachment relationship. Children realize that they have one primary caregiver who feeds them, spends time with them, and cares for them. Children get stranger-anxiety around six months of age when they are held by anyone other than their primary caregiver because they realize, "Hey, you're not the person who cares for me on a daily basis!!!" They experience this attachment relationship in sensory ways by looking at, making sounds to, and reaching for their caregivers. Elementary school children know their parents are there to pick them up from school, help with homework, and attend their activities. They ask their parents for advice and rely on their parents to teach them different skills. This attachment relationship continues. 

Attachment to God is a little different because we can't physically see Him. Yet we can see evidences of Him. One of the most comforting things that got me through the deaths of two family members in undergrad was my biochemistry class. Yes, that sounds weird, but when I looked at the complexity of the cell, biochemical pathways, and cellular machines in the cell, these were all evidences of a Creator who was an engineer at the micro-level. He was telling me, "I exist." Even when I didn't understand why these losses happened or why He allowed them in His plan, but being reminded that He exists was the beginning of how He comforted me. Some people have said that they see something like the Big Dipper or a butterfly and are reminded about a particular aspect of God's character, often when circumstances would lead them to believe that God is not good. The more sensory things we experience and know about: God's influence in changing someone's behavior patterns, His hand in Creation, personal encounters with God such as answered prayer, hearing a certain song, etc. the more secure our attachment is to God. As this grows, we can withstand adversity without wavering in our faith as much. Psalm 1:1-3 verifies that as well as the lives of Biblical figures like Job, Moses, Peter, David, Ruth, Daniel, Joseph, Paul, and the list could go on. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible...And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  Hebrews 11:1-3, 6


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Celebrated but lacking; Worshiping and whole

I was listening to Chris Tomlin's "Glory in the Highest" Christmas CD. Worship songs sound more epic (to me) when they are live. This CD is recorded live, and thus sounds EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!! One of my favorite things is when Chris or whoever the singer is goes a capella and it's just him and the crowd singing to their Creator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) Yes that kinda makes me eek a little bit :) 

While I was listening to this CD I found myself praying for Dr. Grandin. Suddenly I remembered when I went and saw her lecture with a dear sister in Christ who was willing to be nerdy with me :) :D :D When she came onstage after the Poudre Library staff made their introductory speech, clapping and cheering erupted through the packed-out auditorium in the UCA. People were cheering (I eeked) and shouting her name. People cheered and clapped for her at the very very end after the Q & A as she left to go to the book-signing table. This is sorta her life: lecture as a professor where it's more normal, research, and then lecture at special functions like that where other nerds sort of give her the rock-star treatment. There's a reason I have dubbed her as Super-Nerd (with the Superman theme-song playing in my head after I say/think that). 

I wanted to be like that. Waaaaaaaaaay back in my premed days, I wanted to be a doctor and at some point open an International Adoption clinic and go around speaking about attachment and adoption as well as medical issues adoptees face. I wanted to tell the world my own story to show that I've overcome so that other kids wouldn't have to suffer as badly as I did. In my head, I did sort-of want to be a rock star super-nerd. Yet as I achieved each academic milestone: getting into CSU, graduating 17th in my class out of 320, doing well in my first round of college classes, etc. I felt that something was missing. Until I really started to let Christ into my life, I felt like even though I was achieving stuff, I was always striving to prove myself. I was always wondering if I was good enough. I was always wondering if each accomplishment would somehow redeem my past. 

I don't know if Dr. Grandin still feels the need to strive. If she still wonders if her life is worth it, even when she's standing on stage in a packed-out lecture hall with everyone cheering for her. If she doesn't have Christ, she really is incomplete standing up there. 

In contrast, one of the places where I felt complete was surrounded by my Summitview people singing and worshiping God. Travis would wrap up a song and we would cheer, but we're not celebrating Travis because he is cheering for someone else: the Maker of music, the Giver of life, the reason for all of our joy (Thanks Steele Crosswhite). I  didn't have to strive or achieve to prove myself. In Christ, I found my worth. He imputed worth onto me on the Cross. Who cares if I didn't have the most glamorous job or if I didn't make it into medical school. I had Christ and that will resonate into eternity. 

In my head, I pictured Dr. Grandin among a crowd singing and worshiping God. Maybe even at a Chris Tomlin concert - or maybe at Summitview - where she's just singing with everyone else in the background being led by a worship leader. Out of the limelight. Off-stage. Maybe among a group of people that have never heard her lectures or read her books. But yet, I picture her complete because she found her Creator and Savior. With those contrasting images in my head, I pray that one day, this image will one day - by God's grace and power alone - become reality! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Working hard to rest - or letting someone else do it!

I feel like I sorta started a trend with opening Mr. Bloggy to the world with this Hebrews for Advent thing. Well, since it's apparently encouraging to others, I guess I'll keep it going!

Hebrews 4 is all about entering into God's rest. We do this by believing and holding fast to the Word of God. Well, none of us does this perfectly. We all have this goal of entering into God's rest, but we never really truly get there. Even when I look back at my own life before I became Christian, I sort of started to understand more of who God is, but honestly reading the Bible was like reading a foreign language. I remember my small group leader asking me to read a passage that made absolutely no sense to me as I was reading it. I remember finishing and saying, "Ok, I read it, what does that mean?" There was also this striving to do better, to not sin as much to make God happy. 

Even as a Christian, I could fall into the trap of not being good enough. This was really difficult when I was called out on social-graces type stuff. Here I was - a Human Development and Family Studies student who struggled to interact with her peers. Ironic in a painful way. I wasn't a leader, though I was super-old for being in the college group. So many other girls were doing 'better' than me by officially discipling (mentoring) other girls and achieving developmental milestones like full-time jobs and getting married etc. I wasn't finding rest because I wanted to do better to do more for God. I wondered if God was really pleased with me. 

Hebrews 4:14 - 5:10 talks about Jesus as the High Priest. He is the mediator between God and I. He brought me into God's family so I could finally have a true relationship with my Creator instead of sitting there wondering if anyone was really truly out there. He atoned and became a propitiation (thanks for big words, Mitch) for my sins and so I no longer was condemned for my sins :) :) :) Something I learned last year was that I didn't have to strive as hard to please God. This doesn't mean that I could just sit there and sin and let myself atrophy. But it meant that I didn't have to compare myself to others. God started the work in me, He will complete it. Forward progress is made just by growing closer to God and obeying. If I fall down, I don't have to beat myself up and say, "Bad girl, bad girl!" If I fall down, Jesus bends down and picks me up again so we can keep walking. Because I don't have to strive, I can look at others in my life and truly love them and encourage them instead of secretly comparing myself to them :) :) That is true rest indeed :D 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Resting in God this year

Hebrews 4 is all about entering into God's rest. This verse confused me A LOT when I first read it waay back when. The lights came on in my head last Christmas when Summitview went through Hebrews during Advent and I heard, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. God rest ye merry gentlemen / let nothing you dismay / remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. Suddenly I began to get it. I was like, "Oh my gosh!!!! This is the answer to Hebrews 4!!!!! I felt like a super-nerd having an, "I GET IT THEOLOGICALLY" moment when I think I heard that song when Mom and I were shopping at the mall. I was sorta zoned out for a few minutes thinking about it.

Anyway, going through Hebrews again, I got to think about it even MORE!! Rest means not striving, not struggling, peaceful. Kinda like my stuffed animals here in the picture hehe :D Just chillin'. When can we be just chill in every circumstance? WITH JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) No really! This doesn't mean that we go through life all zoned out and totally not caring about anything. We still have the normal range of emotions, but with Jesus we don't completely meltdown in a crisis situation. Of course, we as believers living on earth aren't ever completely sanctified on earth, so of course we're going to melt-down at points and never be perfect. That's why the author of Hebrews is like, "ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER!!!!" so we stay as focused on Jesus as we can & thus can spend more of our lives resting in Him :)

So, personal appy: In what circumstances has God helped me rest in Him this year?????????

1. Definitely definitely the finding-a-job circumstance. That was hard. I cried. A lot. I got mad at God. A lot. I had several meltdowns. My friends and even Mitch encouraged me greatly during this time reminding me that God is good, He is provider, He knows my needs, He will reward me for seeking His kingdom first and trusting Him with the rest. I did find more and more rest in that, and I was more confident in sharing that rest & trust I had in God's goodness with Mom so she could see that God is real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

me as a giant teardrop
2. In dealing with my past. This is an ongoing thing, but God hammered into it this year. That was and still is hard. I do cry. A lot. I'm a giant teardrop at times. I rested in Isaiah 52, 61, 54, 40 - ok, I just rested in the promises in the book of Isaiah :D The Breaking Free study helped a lot. My 'Summitview Moms' helped a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My friends helped a lot!! Team Fun encouraged me with Truth when I would cry. I rested in the fact that God allowed my past for His reasons and He showed me often how much He has healed me already. When I would read something in the HDFS literature, sometimes He would remind me how He did that particular intervention. For example, I had a broken self-concept for a long time and that's a giant hindrance to development. He showed me that finding my identity in Him progressively fixes that particular area :)

3. Closely related to to dealing with my past was getting my ASD diagnosis. Talk about my world just caving in and blowing up in my FACE..... That hurt. A lot. I cried. A lot. I had insomn1ia. A lot. I spent many hours (in between doing what I normally do) under a specific tree on the CSU Monfort Quadrangle journaling about it and crying. And praying. My rest was John 9:3, 2 Cor 4:7-9 and 12:1-10. My rest was that I was growing closer to God even when all I could do was cry. There was a time when I had a meltdown and in the middle of rocking, crying, and banging my head against something, I felt God say, "I'm here. Open your emotions to Me." I stopped banging and let Him take all the emotional pain that was too overwhelming and that I needed so badly to be released physically. I let Him take it so I could just lay there and cry. And I felt joy. No kidding. I felt joy that I could bring my emotions, my broken neurology to my Creator. I felt joy that I had a connection to my Creator because there are people on the spectrum that don't. I don't know if Temple Grandin has a connection to the One that made her and a cattle on a thousand hills, but I pray so much that at some point she does.  I rested knowing that God has a plan for my weakness. He has a future for me and He will use this for His kingdom. And one day, I will not have an ASD anymore. My friends reminded me of these truths, and I felt better and I kept on coming to God with stuff. Did I do it perfectly? Nope. Oh no... definitely not. But each time I did come to God, I learned more about Him. He showed me that He can and is using me even in spite of my ASD. I am still in children's ministry and I - with massive massive amounts of God's help was able to nanny for a single parent this summer :D and sometimes I doubted my abilities, but when I noticed progress in their behavior and when they would come to the door and almost knock little me over with hugs, I knew that God was helping me connect with them :) Our God is greater / Our God is stronger / God You are higher than any other / Our God is healer / awesome in power / our God / our God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes, God used that song a lot!!! THANKS SUMMITVIEW WORSHIP TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman :)

4. Guy stuff. Since I'm a girl. I write more about this in another blog post, but basically, God helped me find rest in the fact that He is pleased with my development in whatever trajectory He decided to lead it and I don't have to strive to meet developmental milestones like marriage to please Him and be useful to Him. He also showed me more of how He is my eternal Husband. He gently reminded me, "Katie, I coded your DNA. I know you. You don't have to be afraid to tell Me things." Also, when I would whine and cry and pray in the middle of the night, I would say, "God, I thank You that You're my eternal husband, because I think an earthly husband would be grouchy if I woke him up with my crying in the middle of the night." Yay :) I know that God has given me rest in this area when I can go to weddings and enjoy them and eek without feeling the, "God, when will that be me???" feeling.

Yeah, those are the four main areas of Katie's life that God helped me find rest in Him :) :) :)

Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD YOU'RE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks SO MUCH that I can find rest in You and I can continue to find rest in You just by praying and connecting to You and reading your Word OBVIOUSLY and - thanks for my SUMMITVIEW FRIENDS for encouraging me with Your Truths and just by their example of living by faith and it's so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You that I am finding more and more rest in You even if it's through tears or after a meltdown or after I have to repent of some serious sin!! Thank You that You share the moments of me giggling to me crying in pain from something that's really bothering me. God I am soooooooo thankful that it's BY YOUR GRACE ALONE that one day, I'll wake up in Heaven and find rest in You because You're there and there will be no more sin or brokenness coming between us!!!! :) I always imagine You and I drinking tea and me snuggling in Your lap with a fuzzy blanket :) :) hehe! That will be super-awesome-ultimate rest :) :) :) :) :) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) God, I pray also that my brothers & sisters would come to know Your rest better here and look forward to the rest in Heaven. I pray Mom comes to rest in your salvation. I pray Temple Grandin does too. And I pray that other people I know who don't know You also come into Your rest because You bring them there through the Cross!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN!!!!!!!!!! ((HUGS))

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A little community church in a little college town

Wow! God is SUPERTIGHT! :) So, I got to hang out with this girl from Zolder 50 which is a church in Amsterdam that was started by people at Summitview 8 years ago. It was cool to hear what they were up to and even COOLER to hear that they were supporting a church in Kenya that ran an orphanage. The Kenya church/orphanage seemed very much like the Nepali church & affiliated orphanages run by people that are also connected to and supported by Summitview.  In my head I had this diagram: 
So wow. I mean SERIOUSLY! WOW!!! The church in Amsterdam reaches people from all parts of Europe, so God is using it to reach other parts of Europe too. But seriously!!! God is - in a distant way - using US at Summitview to reach kids we've never met in Kenya, Africa!?!?!?!?! And in parts of Europe most of us have never been to??? I thought of Col 1:3-6 where Paul thanks God for the church in Colosse because they heard the Gospel, understood the hope they have in Christ and they are a witness to others so God is bearing fruit in that church. 

It just reminded me of this: God is using this little church in a little college town to reach the world. We're not the biggest church in Fort Collins. And Fort Collins isn't the largest or most famous college town. For a while, we didn't even have a building, and when we got it, it was basically a hand-me-down building from a larger church in town.We're not the most known church in town. Yet God chooses to use us.

I see this pattern played out in other areas too. I remember being part of a church in Littleton that also had a really good missions program in many parts of the world. God uses these little churches to reach people in really unexpected ways :) I think it's just so that we can look at it and say: Oh wow!!! OH WOW!!!!!!! That is so AWESOME!!!!!! God is so AWESOME!!!!!! :)  Not to us, but to Him be the glory!!! :) 

Monday, November 15, 2010

All the Single Ladies

Wow!! I haven't had a girly-related post for a while. My purely nerdy side has taken over this blog for a while. Not like that's a bad thing :D Anyway, the single women in The Rock/Symbio are dropping like flies. With two weddings and TWO dating pairings of 2 good friends within about two weeks, I'm at that stage where I'm like, "DUDE!!!! EVERYONE'S GETTING MARRIED including EVERYONE YOUNGER THAN ME!!! :O " That's not a bad thing because that means dressing up & hanging out with people I might not get to see every day and of course dance parties when the reception comes. 

I've been wrestling with the marriage question for a while. For much of my college life & even into grad school I assumed at some point I would probably get married. If so, the goal was to somehow attain enough developmental normalcy and get to that point where I could manage issues from my past adaptively enough so that it wouldn't freak out Mr. Whoever and it wouldn't affect the next generation. Well, that whole achieving-developmental-normalcy was completely ripped apart with my diagnosis of PPD-NOS. Suddenly I was like, "Crap!!!!!! I will never be normal even though my HDFS training equips me to develop / participate in interventions that help children and families lead a more normal life. Hm. God, that's ironic, but unfortunately not very funny." I also thought, "Wait, if I struggle with social interactions and other stuff, does that make marriage possible?" According to Dr. Grandin, it's only possible if I married another person on the spectrum since our brains would be more similar. She bases this on interviews with married people who have autism since she herself is not married. According to Donna Williams (author of Nobody Nowhere and a special education teacher / consultant in Australia), it's possible because she's married and has high-functioning autism as well as multiple personality disorder (resulting from extreme physical/verbal abuse as a child) as well as other DSM diagnoses. According to my friends, it's possible if God wills it and whether He chooses me to be married to a person on the spectrum or an NT person, He has His purposes. 

This should close the case, but there is more to consider than just the fact that I officially have an ASD. What was my goal in marriage? It was to go down the expected trajectory of a Christian 20-something woman: Get saved, get involved in college and/or young singles ministry, get married, focus on raising children to know Christ and minister to other families in the same demographic. Much of the women's literature in the Christian world is geared toward married women, and the singles literature (from what I've read) is: be content & learn about God until Mr. Whoever-God-Chooses comes along. Having noticed these patterns, it made sense to conform my life to these expectations. Also, Mom really wants grandkids at some point, and as an only child, I'm her only source for that. Dr. Grandin has several other brothers and sisters, so her parents got grandkids from other sources.  Therefore, she probably didn't have that pressure like I do. In summary, my goal in getting married was to say: I'm following the normative pattern of a Christian woman's life and I'm giving Mom grandkids. I know God would use marriage for His sake and that is something that still excites me, but to be honest, that wasn't my primary motivation. 

Another thing to consider that God helped me understand from Mitch's message yesterday on building intellectual towers for ourselves is this: am I giving up on marriage because I might be bad at it and thus need to build my accomplishments in other areas such as research, a career, getting a PhD, etc? When I realized this, I thought, "Dang." Marriage or singleness with a focus on professional development and/or getting a PhD would not be glorifying to God if the primary motivation behind either one was just to further my own sense of accomplishment. That is humbling. Very humbling. This made me cry, but I needed it. Both the crying and the humbling. Yes, if I stayed single AND got a PhD AND became a professor, I would live a life really similar to Dr. Grandin :D (though I will probably never be as famous as her & that's completely ok!!!) but if I lived for my own accomplishments, how much would I really be allowing God to work through my life to reach academia? Or if I had a career & stuff but lived for that, how much would I rally be allowing God to work through my life to reach my community & workplace? Similarly, if I got married and lived for that I would be in danger making my husband and children live up to the make-Katie-appear-like-she-is-developmentally-adjusted and I would be repeating the same parent-child cycle that I'm still hurting from. 

God, You made my brain, You determined the places I should live in order that I may know You and learn more about You and come alongside You in Your work. For these things and for Your redemptive power and Your ability to teach me more about Yourself and conform me to Your Son (by Your grace) even when it hurts and makes me cry - I am really really really really thankful. So, Thank You for making me realize that my singlness or marriage must firstly be motivated by You and Your glory. My accomplishments either professionally, academically, or developmentally will fade literally a million years from now. But what You do with my life when I have submitted to You will remain. That's humbling and still makes me cry. But God, I just ask You to use me in whatever capacity for Your glory and Your glory and accomplishments alone. I know I will never perfectly submit to You. THANKS FOR SHOWING YOUR FORGIVENESS AND PROPITIATION FOR THAT and a TON of other things on the Cross. Amen :) 

PS: In Heaven, I actually get to give You a hug and that's pretty exciting! :) 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A specialist mind needs a like-minded person

I wrote about the joys of having a specialist mind in an August blog post on this site. Going throughout life these past few months, I've just wanted another like-minded similarly-wired person just to hang with and to share random awesome nerdy stuff with and someone that I didn't have to act normal around. This need to have someone to relate to and someone to go to and lean on has been a void in my life that has never really been filled. I knew I was different in childhood, but I couldn't figure out why. I received support from teachers, relatives, and my mom as a child, but I was also called to be a support to an adult earlier than is developmentally appropriate. 

The lights came on in my head during my quiet time when I was going through Beth Moore's Breaking Free study where she goes over how God can fill the voids in our lives with His unfailing love. In Ephesians 3:19 Paul prays that we would know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. According to Moore, the word know in the Greek is ginosko which implies experiential learning of a concept - learning by trial or perception. I pretty much 'eeeked' because I thought: "THIS MEANS THAT PEOPLE THAT ARE VISUAL LEARNERS OR CONCRETE THINKERS LIKE DR. GRANDIN CAN EXPERIENCE GOD'S LOVE!!!!" That was super-awesome to think about because I think it would be way cool if she came to know Christ :) :) 

Then God reminded me: You need to learn this too. Then I was like, "What!?! Oooooooooooh! I get it!" The reason I wasn't getting God as the One to run to / confide in / lean on and who could relate to my crazy brain was because I haven't really experienced it. Until now!!!!! Until He gave me that nerdy thought about experiential learning. During seminars on college teaching in grad school we talked about different learning styles and how students can get concepts using more than one learning style and experiential learning is the best method. God, using this study, revealed that He works in that same way. He understands our own unique learning styles because He has wired our brains in specific ways. For example, I'm an auditory learner, so oftentimes, theological concepts really  click when I hear them integrated into a song. I also get excited when I can compare concepts to HDFS related concepts. God knows what my special interests are at the time (because He's God!!!!!!!!!!) and so He uses them in teaching me things. Creationism has been a long term special-interest within my Christian life, so He uses biological concepts and reminders of Himself as Creator to really root and ground me. 

What does this mean to tie this all together? If all this is true, I no longer have this need to try and find that one earthly mentor that understands my brain and thinking to be my go-to person. God is more than enough. He wired my brain and knows any/all special interests I currently have or ever will have, and He has shown me that He can connect with me in moments where all I can do is jump around and eek or if I go into a meltdown and all I can do is cry. He knows the voids in my life left by my past, and He knows how best to fill them - even more than any attachment specialist or HDFS interventionist. I can stand on this foundation of truth with confidence and seek God to lean on no matter if I have to go to Him for mundane ordinary things or share an ultra-nerdy moment with Him or ask Him for help when my ASD makes functioning difficult. 

Though I have began to get this in fragments, it seems like I got a more complete picture of how this works today. As God teaches this through experiential learning - meaning throughout my life - I will always be learning this at a deeper level and will only truly see it in full in Heaven. It is in that hope that I continue to press on and ask God to teach me more about His love and presence now. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God in the darkness of my past & rebuilder of my future

My friends keep bringing up the song Our God is Greater by Chris Tomlin because the Summitview worship band has led us in it a few  (a lot) of times. It's a pretty epic song!!!! That song came just in time in my life to remind me that God is bigger than any limitation I had. I think I had newly been diagnosed with my autism spectrum disorder when we sang that song. Of course, I ended up crying profusely upon hearing the song & digesting the lyrics.

Thanks to having a 'specialist mind', I can hone in on one concept and just go with it. The part of the song that really made me cry initially and has resonated with me every time I hear it is, "Into the darkness You shine / Out of the ashes we rise / There's no one like  You / None like You ..." THAT LINE HAS SO MUCH MEANING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, God is the source of energy and in the beginning He made electromagnetic energy shine out of the void of nothingness as His first act of creation!!!!! Second of all, God shines light into man's heart which is dark due to sin (2 cor 4:6) and this light is the Gospel. Third of all, God shines light into dark circumstances - not just in general, but He is with us through each individual circumstance & shines His light in a specific way so that we see it. This is backed by Psalm 139:11-12 "If I say 'surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to You." I read that and eeeked and then cried because I can see God's light shining in my own circumstances. Yes, I didn't always have someone who was consistently there for me emotionally, but I had a ton of other adults I could go to. I attended a church that emphasized works-based gospel, but I had a grandfather that showed me what it truly meant to trust God as an example to keep my heart close to Him.

Second of all, God brings us up from the ashes of utter destruction. Back to.... GENESIS again! Thanks pastor John Meyer for this :) Adam and Eve blew it with eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, but God didn't annihilate them on the spot. He gave them the promise that the woman's seed (Jesus) will crush the serpant (Satan's) head right there afterward. He clothed them and told them that they would still work the ground and be fruitful, but there would be pain now. Yet He didn't completely leave them. Isaiah has a bunch of references about freeing the captives and restoring them, with the clearest proclamation of bringing them out of the ashes in Isaiah 61. He brought Ruth from being a young widow in a hostile nation to marry an awesome kinsman-redeemer & bear a son that would be in the Messianic line!!!!! He brings Paul out of being a super-fanatical persecutor to church-planter / New Testament writer. He has brought me out of being an abandoned traumatized child with a bleak developmental outlook to being His child - His daughter whom He is using to reach the next generation & people in FoCo - by His grace. And He has turned my whole ordeal with discovering that I have an ASD from pure crushing dissapointment/grief/anger to an area where He can show His sustaining grace when/if I let Him :)

Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like You
None like You

Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Out God
Our God


Monday, October 11, 2010

Is this a veneer of academic musing?

Expanding outside my current fixation can hurt sometimes. Not because I'm expanding outside it, but because of what I might find. Today I began reading Nobody Nowhere by Donna Williams who shares her experiences living with Autism. She appears to have more severe sensory issues than Dr. Grandin and more severe delays in speech. However, the aspect of her life that struck me the most even in the opening pages was the trauma she experienced at the hands of a physically abusive parent. She understands the origin of her abuse in adulthood when she is able (as best she can) to examine this parent's life. Another thing that struck me was Donna's writing is raw experience and emotion while Dr. Grandin's is a blend of personal experience that is generally coherently backed with the research that has been done as of the publishing of that particular book. APA style citations dot Dr. Grandin's narratives. In a sense, Dr. Grandin's life is told in a nice orderly way and polished by an academic lecture-style veneer that isn't too obscure for the general population to see through.

As I read Dr. Grandin's work and listened to her lectures (both on YouTube and LIVE!!!) I could touch this veneer (figuratively speaking) and trace the logical flow of her life and how the research explained it. I could stand on it and begin walking out my life as a person who newly discovered she was on the autism spectrum. Yet, there are parts of my life that are too painful to be ordered as nicely and laid out. There is still pain from parts of my childhood that come out and are too painful to try and really analyze and put into this nice life-backed-by-research framework.

Donna Williams doesn't try and fit her life into a nice research-backed narrative. She lets us see the pain and experience the pain she experienced. I hurt when I read how she hurt because she touches those pieces in my life that are too painful to handle just on an academic level. There is no academic veneer to hold her life together or hold back any of the pain. In defense of Dr. Grandin, she also is honest about her painful experiences. They came in different ways than Donna's did, and her pain is just as real. However, it's easy for me to see how Dr. Grandin could focus on academically analyzing her experiences rather than accessing the pain if her style is to emphasize how her life connects to autism and neurological research rather than just a pure narrative of her life.

In that moment of that realization, I cried. I had checked out the book from the CSU library and was reading it under a tree outside the CSU Animal Sciences building and ended up laying on the grass with my face buried in my sweatshirt crying. Because I did that exact thing that I could see Dr. Grandin doing. I would rather write a nice semi-academic book on attachment, autism spectrum disorders, and sensory deprivation and weave in my own experiences than write about my pure emotions and experiences. I would rather see my life and experience my life the way Dr. Grandin presents her life: Protected and presented behind an academic veneer. The pain is still too hard and I don't like to cry. I do cry, but I wish I didn't hurt after 20+ years since some of these experiences. Yet I know that God doesn't want me to hide my pain behind any sort of academic research. He was there and sympathized with every pain & psychological trauma I have felt. God wants to reach behind the academic veneer of all of us that have our experiences as inspiration for our research because He doesn't want our theses, dissertations, poster-presentations, and peer-reviewed publications. He wants what we feel deep down in our souls - He wants to touch the deepest pain we have so we can feel His love & healing there. That's what He taught me as I began to read Donna William's unabashed account of her life. He wants me to open my life up like that - not just for the world to see & learn from - but so I can feel His hand.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Songs and lessons from back in the day revisited

My roommate and I were singing worship songs that we used to sing in The Rock a long long time ago in a dorm far far away. The song that made me cry was Give us Clean Hands by Chris Tomlin. I remember singing this with Aaron Ritter or Nathan Hrouda leading us with the acoustic guitar in Danforth Chapel. In my Junior year, I'd sing this with my friends, our voices bouncing off the stone walls & floor. Tears would be streaming down my eyes because I was asking God to rid my life of an idol. That idol was this chemistry professor that a fellow Rocker and I had the previous year. We had tried to reach out to him, and I had gotten to know him a bit during office hours since I struggled in his class at the beginning. Over the summer, I realized that I still thought about him because I wanted him to be there as a bit of a father-figure since my mom was dealing with her brother's cancer and needed my support at the time. At the same time, my grandpa who was my current father-figure was showing clear signs of dementia. Over that summer and into that next year, I often would go to this professor instead of God for my issues or just sit there and wonder what he would think rather than ask God.

Yet I was reminded that he was an idol every time I sang that song. "We bow our hearts / we bend our knees / oh Spirit come make us humble / we turn our eyes / from evil things / oh Lord we cast down our idols / give us clean hands / give us pure hearts / let us not lift our souls to another .... oh God let this be / a generation that seeks / that seeks your face O God of Jacob. " In a sense, I was lifting my soul to another. 

l did this a bit this summer too when I found out that I was on the autism spectrum. This time, I hadn't met this particular professor except by watching documentaries and lectures she did. Dr. Temple Grandin is a bit of a legend in the autism world as well as the livestock world. I wanted to read her stuff & wished I could spend a day with her as someone who could mentor me & understand how my brain worked. I knew about the father-figure void, I didn't know I also was looking for a mother-figure. I realized that at points, I wished she would serve as that person to tell me that everything was ok, that it was ok that I had these struggles, and that she had gone before me and would help me along if needed. Well, as we've never met, she can't do that, no matter how much I spent imagining that she could.

I allowed God into these thoughts much sooner than I had allowed Him into my thoughts the last time this happened. He was the One who comforted me where I felt that lack of someone being there. He reminded me that He is my Creator and knows my brain better than anyone else. He is also accessible 24/7 and can handle my most giddy giggly moments to my most extreme meltdowns better than any earthly parent or parent-like figure. In fact, He was present even in the midst of a really bad meltdown about a month ago. When I sang Give us Clean Hands, I cried because though God had to take me through this "Yes this professor is awesome and could possibly fill the parental void, he/she isn't supposed to. I am" process, He taught me more about Himself in deeper ways each time. Knowing that He is Father, Healer, Overcomer, the Ultimate Famous One, the best example, the ultimate strength in our weakness, and the ultimate Comforter was worth all the tears I have shed through both of these processes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Multiply Your Life - Turn it up as a case study!

Yesterday I was looking up some random stuff & found this article here about deep pressure as a therapy for people on the autism spectrum. The author, Dr. Grandin (yay CSU profs!) used her life as a case study and then incorporated other research to support her experiences in her literature review. After that, she wrote about an experiment she conducted with other college students using the same deep pressure techniques she used on herself. Research backing her experiences and the data from her experiment with college students verified that the technique she discovered is valid & works.

Something that hit me in the midst of me reading that like, "THIS IS SO NERDY BUT SO AWESOME!!!" is this: she opened her life up to help other people and she's used her strengths to improve life for animals. In her journal articles, she backs up her work with research, but there's a sense that she pours her life out on these pages because she wants others to benefit. Her life is a bit convicting because I have to ask myself: how much am I willing to pour out my life - both its weaknesses and its strengths for others? The apostle Paul admits that his life is poured out like a drink offering (2 Timothy 4:6) and in multiple places he speaks candidly about his weaknesses, the most famous being in 2 Cornithians 12. where he boasts about his weaknesses. In a way, Dr. Grandin does this by being up front with her sensory struggles or other issues related to autism and how she's used research to figure out how to cope.

I've struggled with attachment issues, low self-esteem, and other issues because of different things in my past. All this has been complicated by an ASD and I have had to learn how to cope as well. However, I have more than just research to lean on. I have the words of my Creator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) He has seen me in my darkest moments. When I was crying too hard for words & was alone, He heard me when in my little heart I asked where He was. When I tried to get to Him by doing good, He showed me that all have sinned and fallen short of His glory, but I could be justified by His grace by Christ. As I let Him free me from the effects of my past & remove the shame of having multiple disabilities, I can share this experience with other people. If others learn from my life - not about what I did, but more about how God can help them, than this is pouring out my life in a similar way as Dr. Grandin has. Yet, that journal article focuses only at relieving physical/neurological sensory issues. God - when I allow Him to use my life - can change people's life here on earth, but also give them hope for eternity.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Worship in the Specialist Mind

Several people think about a mind that is on the autism spectrum as being a specialist mind. In the DSM-IV, one of the main symptoms of classic Autism, atypical Autism, or Aspergers Syndrome is that someone has a special interest in a select few topics to the point where he or she has difficulty talking or thinking about other things. That was pretty much my life to a T in elementary school. I didn't get any sort of social skills training until junior high when my two aunts worked on it with me. With their help, I was able to talk with friends about more than my fixations. These fixations (or special interests as other people might call them) were mainly around people, places, natural science topics, or medical topics. Good things resulted from several fixations: My medicine fixation got me to premed, my science fixation got me into psychology / HDFS and fueled my interest in research and now I have a master's degree. When I listen to interviews by Temple Grandin, I can tell when she starts going into her fixations, even though she has had training on speaking as a professional. One thing that's nice is that others know her fixations so they generally keep things within those interests. She often starts to tangent into her cattle research or about stuff she's written about early intervention for children on the Autism spectrum whenever she's answering a question and something related to the question or her answer reminds her of those two topics.

When I was little, my special interests were not dealt with in the most adaptive way (more on that here if you really want to know). The only special interest that others tried to stop Dr. Grandin from having was her thing with the squeeze chute. They put a weird Freudian spin on it, and now all developmental psychologists know that Freud's theories are pretty whacked and the only reason we ever talk about him was because he knew early development was important. Erik Erickson straightened a lot of Freud's stuff out, so that's good. Anyway, Dr. Grandin still talk about how it was hard for her to explain to others that the squeeze chute met a sensory need she had, and no one got it until sensory dysfunction started to be researched. In fact, she used this fixation to advocate for research and intervention for sensory issues, especially for people on the Autism spectrum.

Wow... speaking about tangenting, I'll give people bonus points if they can figure out my current fixations... ahem.. anyway, how does all this back-story relate to worship in a specialist mind? As a Christian, I am to submit my mind to Christ. Yup. Even the not-normal parts because as Creator, He allowed my DNA to be sequenced to express all my neurotypical and autistic traits! Something I wondered was: How will God use any fixations I have or end up having for His glory? If God hard-wired my brain this way, it must be for a reason that He sees is good.

I got a glimpse of the answer during worship at church when the worship leader asked us to focus on one specific trait of God as we sang a song. It was one of those, "I GET IT!" moments. Paul often prayed for people to know more about one of God's attributes specifically. If someone has a specialist mind, he or she can take a particular aspect of God and dig deep for information about it and how other attributes of Him relate to it or how it is played out in the Bible. I've had this happen before :) During my premed days, God tackled me with His Truth that He is Creator and He did not create by evolution. He used our biology major pastor to do it :) I went from being the skeptic evolutionist girl to the girl everyone knew talked about Creation and God as Creator. I still do to some extent, but that really fit well with my special interest of medicine at the time, so I had a one track mind for both for a very long while. Did it help? Yes. No matter if I found the world confusing or painful, knowing there was a Person who created it and redeemed it was my comfort. It kept me humble because I didn't learn things only with the intent of puffing myself up. I knew that Someone had made the human body, chemistry, the physical laws, and He allowed me to learn them for His glory.

I think in heaven, we will have perfect brains that will be able to also be specialist brains. We will never stop learning about God, therefore, we would need a lot of storage room to learn about His many attributes. Yet we will not do it in isolation. We will do it in perfect community, extending perfect love to each other and being in perfect love and relationship with Jesus Christ who made us and redeemed us all!!!! :)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

GOD IS THE FAMOUS ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wrote something sort of similar in my other blog... Today I read the story of Hezekiah and I am always struck by how much he pursued God, yet pride was still his downfall. It started when he thought that God loved him more than most after he was miraculously healed. He got comfortable with his accomplishments and he showed them off to the Babylonians as 'his.' Nope. Not his. God's.

I think God is really ramming this idea down in my brain that HE is the FAMOUS ONE, not anyone else (ahem: Temple Grandin, Chris Tomlin, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Beth Moore, Corrie Ten Boom, Tim Tebow, John Elway or anyone else that I think is pretty cool & the world sees as famous). By the way, wow, that's a decent list going... anyway, going off the song Famous One, it's interesting how God's fame is established as Creator. "YOU are the LORD / the Famous One, Famous one / Great is your name in all the earth / The heavens declare You're glorious, glorious / Great is your fame beyond the earth " The song goes into how Christ is sovereign and the desire of every heart & how He alone is God. Then it goes back to God as Creator

"The morning star is shining through / and every eye is watching you / REVEALED BY NATURE & MIRCALES /You are beautiful / YOU ARE BEAITUFUL! " :)

Yay! God as Creator is one fixation that definitely can go deeper & that is one that He definitely gave me because I initially denied His title as Creator to His FACE - even after I accepted Christ. Then God used John Meyer to slap me around some until I was running around as premed going, "God is Creator - EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!" He always brings me back to this Truth & then other Truth flows out of that :)

God alone
Is my Creator, Savior, Comfort, Example.
He lifts me up and brings me down.
He has formed my brain with its weaknesses and talents.
And any accomplishments are for His glory.

May I walk humbly before my God
Repenting when I sin,
Running back to Him when I put my hope in another
And may He use my life to bring others to know Him
As Creator, Savior, Comfort, so they can sing along with me
That He is the Famous One, and His name is great beyond the earth

Friday, July 30, 2010

To answer a friend's question

Click on this to make larger so you can actually read it!

There we go!!! In the world of academia, this concept map would be called a model! These are great ways to put really nebulous concepts into more concrete and/or visual terms for those of us that need it. In academese, we'd say that character produces hope when mediated by the degree to which one is conformed to the image of Christ & the degree to which said person understand more of God's character. (Yes, I am a nerd. WOO!)

This is my attempt to answer a dear sister in Christ's question, "How does character produce hope?" based off of Romans 5:4 which states "and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." (ESV)

Character is produced via conforming to Christ's image usually through suffering. OUCH. No DOUBT that I know this. When hope in everything else is stripped away, I am left with only one option: entrusting myself to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19). The degree that I entrust myself to God as my faithful Creator is highly correlated to my knowledge of Him & how much I really want that relationship. This degree of trust is also dependent (or moderated) by how much I really want to seek God. This may be why God chooses to sanctify His children by suffering. If life is good, we might be tempted to not really seek God, thus our trust in Him and knowledge of Him may not grow as fast. Though even in suffering, I've been prone to turn toward other things than God. Yes, here's another nerdy graph to illustrate my point :)

This is why we need God's grace to grow. This is why Paul covered grace by faith & justification before this point, because if we tried to work through this logic model & graph on our own, there would be no forward motion. We wouldn't even get to the mediating factors. It is Christ who is our comforter & all in all & here in the love & power of Christ we stand :) :) Woot to Stuart Townsend who wrote In Christ Alone in 2002 because that song is pretty awesome :) Anyway, Christ makes it possible for character to produce hope because is the Triune God that is the driving force behind conforming us to His image & behind us learning more about the character of God through the Word :)

So in sum, yes character does produce hope - in a very complicated way and all by God's grace!!!!!!! :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Example

Since I've realized that I have this new challenge of an ASD and how it plays out in the way I live, I have had to reconfigure and rework my life - the way I see my past, present, and future. How exactly does this recently discovered (or diagnosed) piece of my identity into my life overall and how do I live knowing that it influences what I do without it controlling me and how I think of my identity overall? How much influence does this have on my decision making about my career and other aspects of my future? How do I tell others? Why does God have me in this position? How does this affect my continued healing from my past? 
To answer these questions, I've longed for a role-model, an example. Someone who's been there that I can ask these questions to. I wish I could spend a day or several days just talking to a specific person about this who's been there and see where she's been in life, not just what she has written down, but to really understand what her life has been like. I wish she could be there to walk down at least the first part of this 'new path' with me so if I needed anything - an encouraging word, an 'I understand, I've been there, here's how to handle it' piece of advice. 

However, this person has limitations. Any person I would pick to be my role-model would have limitations. There's no possible way to learn all the research around ASD. And every person with ASD has it affect him or her differently. Therefore, there could be things she struggles with that I don't and vice versa. This person can't always be there 24/7 and even if there was a decent friendship there, friendships aren't always perfect. 

Then who is my example? Who do I really really want to be with me down my path of life as I go with this new challenge? Who do I really want to be there when things get rough or when I achieve something that I didn't think was possible? Who do I really want there when I get in a funk and completely loose it? I know the answer. His name is Jesus. We as believers are called to imitate His life, follow His example, and thus be an example to those around us. Christ gave of Himself at The Cross. Christ has felt abandoned. Christ has felt rejected by the world. Christ is my Creator. He ordained my days before they were ever written. He knew exactly what I would face as I went through life. He knows every single piece of research, every discovery about the brain & human development that we will ever discover, and He knows all the secret nuggets of nerdy awesomeness that we will never ever be able in our limited human knowledge & technology (in a fallen world) to discover because He is Creator. 

God, Savor, Creator,
I need You as I walk down this path. I know I don't physically see You, but I see Your hand in Creation, in Your Word, in the lives of other people, even those that I want to be my role-models that I don't know if they know You yet. When I am sad, when I am frustrated, when You allow me to have victory, may I come to You with all of it. You are there when I can't sleep. You are there when I have a melt-down and seem all alone. You have seen my life- all my life, every happy moment, every painful moment, You've heard every encouraging word that's been said to me and every time someone has snapped at me out of frustration or anger because she couldn't understand what was wrong with me or how to fix it. You know my path. You have ordained my days. You are my example in humility, service, love, and compassion. You give me empathy beyond what I have ever been able to feel. You offer unconditional forgiveness because You died for all my sins on the Cross. You sustain the relationship when I withdraw into my own world and want to shut You out. You see those moments anyway and are there with compassion and no condemnation when I come to You. You take away my shame. 

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tounges above
Praise this mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love! 

Here's my life and Here am I to lead. Amen :) 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I still taste & see that He is good

Psalm 34 is really awesome. I think I might've done a verse-by-verse study on it at one point, but with a more general theme woven through. However, I wanted to focus on how this verse applies to my dealings with adjusting to life knowing that I'm on the autism spectrum. Throughout this process, there have been times where I've focused more on gathering information and looking at how other people lived life on the spectrum than going to God for direction. I've also wanted to talk to others on the spectrum (especially one particular person who has achieved great worldly success even while being autistic) about issues that were coming up rather than going to God. These things are not wrong in themselves, but in absence of God, they can only give me so much hope.

Psalm 34 (ESV)My thoughts
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
All times means all times. Philippians 4:4 says "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice." This is only possible when I realize that
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad. (NIV says: Let the afflicted hear and rejoice).
My soul was prone to boasting in my master's degree, in other things, but again, like Paul, I must boast in the Lord. That is the gist of 2 Cor 12:9-10. I don't just boast in the Lord in my weaknesses to make myself feel better, but so others in similar situations or with other weaknesses can be encouraged. Affliction also leads to humility which leads to dependence in and eventually joy in God.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
For everyone that has dealt with disabilities & illness, there is hope! I have found Jesus! Come with me, see who He is, exalt Him together!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK J
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Yup! This is the line in Taste & See (lyrical adaptation to this song) that made me cry really hard. My shame is gone as You draw near!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Growing up, no one realized that I was on the mild end of the autism spectrum. Therefore, all my behaviors that fell in that category were often corrected in a negative way (see my blog post on that). I was pushed to be normal and now knowing that I'm not still hurts. Growing up, I feared that I would be less of a person if I didn't achieve that sense of normal. However, God intervened, saving me just as I am. He is my Creator and knows my limitations better than I do and better than any assessment can measure. Because Christ took away any impurities standing between me and God, I can stand before my Creator without shame.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
In times when I was alone in my room as a child, I would pray and ask God to help me get through life. I knew I needed Him, even though I was operating on a works-based gospel for a while. God answered with the ultimate solution to my problems: Jesus Christ, and also allowing me to get tools such as early interventions & really amazing teachers to help me as I developed.

God protected me throughout my childhood by allowing me to be in an over-sheltered environment so I didn't get into bad situations with peers that, in retrospect, I probably wouldn't have been able to handle with my ASD.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!


EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK J If David had my manerisms, I'm guessing he would've paused while writing this and maybe jumped around in his room and eeeked and then thought, "Hm, I should verbalize that – like THAT!!!!!" I have tangiblely tasted & seen that God is good even in this 'discovering' my ASD experience. God used me to share the Gospel with my evaluator, and He has given me amazing friends at Summitview to help me J
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!

 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
So I might lack certain social skills & cognitive stuff, but eternally, I lack no good thing. I have full access to my Creator & the securest attachment ever because God made it possible not me. I have the hope that in eternity with God, all the ASD stuff will fall away and I will live with God and others that He has redeemed in perfect relationship which btw NO ONE has experienced, forever!

Even the most accomplished HDFS interventionists with amazing families and even those that have overcome insurmountable odds may still feel like they lack something at times. But those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. That's how I understand the verse in my head.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Statistically (and yes, I know God doesn't operate according to statistics), people with diagnoses on the autism spectrum marry less. However, this doesn't mean that God can't use me to impact the next generation. In fact, He has used me in various classroom & babysitting capacities, even if it was for short periods of time. My prayer is for the next generation to see God working through my life.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
I'm thankful that I grew up in a family that knew right & wrong and had a pretty solid Biblical worldview. Temple Grandin often talks about growing up in the 1950's where most families followed standard social conventions that she had to learn (though her parents & teachers had to be more patient to teach her). This training in childhood helped me seek God, even if it was trying to please Him by doing good rather than seeking Him alone for salvation. That part came eventually because His kindness led me to repentance and ultimately salvation through faith in Christ alone. This strong moral understanding & training is a very strong protective factor in both our lives.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
I am righteous because Christ imputed that on me (2 cor 5:21). Thus, He hears my prayers because they are not hindered by my sin (Is 59:2). J This is not true for those that ultimately do not accept Christ as their Savior L
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.

 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
How has the Lord already delivered me from the challenges of having an ASD? By being my ultimate source of comfort because He knows what it's like not to fit in, and He has overcome the world & all its imperfections. He is my hope.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.


EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK verse J I have definitely had a lot of afflictions developmentally: attachment issues, early trauma, secondary PTSD from my mom's experience with my early medical issues, clinical depression and body image issues in adolescence, and all with the thread of autistic tendancies running through my development. Wow. And yet God preserved my intellect so I could go to school & eventually Colorado State University where I accepted Him as Savior. He has healed me from a lot of the trauma, though there's still yet to heal. He has allowed me to get a Master's in Human Development & Family studies to help others have a better developmental outcome than I had. These things have scarred me, but not crushed me. And that is all by God's grace.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Those who do not ultimately accept Christ will be eternally condemmed (2 Thes 1:8-9). THE LORD HAS REDEEMED MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have taken refuge in Him. Yes, interventions that I can use on this earth are good, but my ultimate hope is God. He works all things, including this, for the good of those who love Him & for His purposes (Romans 8:28-9) so that others may see Christ. In this, I know that God has a purpose for my life, even though it's not – nor will it ever be - a typical life. Therefore, I know that wherever God leads me and whatever challenges I face due to ASD or other things, He will use them for His kingdom if I give them to Him.

Wow. Seriously. Wow. God is pretty awesome! J

I will love You Lord forever

My lips will always sing Your praise

From deep inside I feel it rising

Come glorify the Lord with me

Come glorify the Lord with me

I taste & see that You are good

I hide myself within Your love

In your presence I lack nothing

You're all I want and You are here with me

Yes You're here with me J

I looked for You and Lord You found me

Delivered me from all my fears

With hearts wide open faces shining

My shame is gone as You draw near

My shame is gone as You draw near

I taste & see that You are good

I hide myself within Your love

In your presence I lack nothing

You're all I want and You are here with me

Jesus, Oh You're glorious

In Your presence I lack nothing

In Your presence I lack nothing

In Your presence I lack nothing

In Your presence I lack nothing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fate (more accurately Grace) Smiled at Destiny

Wonder by Natalie Merchant

Fate smiled at destiny

Laughed as she came to my cradle

Know this child will be able

Laughed as my body she lifted

Know this child will be gifted

With love, with patience and with faith

She'll make her way

People see me

I'm a challenge to your balance

I'm over your heads

How I confound you and astound you

To know I must be one of the wonders

Of God's own creation

And as far as you can see you can offer me

No explanation

Fate smiled at destiny

Laughed as she came to my cradle

Know this child will be able

Laughed as she came to my mother

Know this child will not suffer

Laughed as my body she lifted

Know this child will be gifted

With love, with patience and with faith
She'll make her way

full lyrics here

Natalie Merchant's song Wonder was inspired by a woman with a disability. When I first listened to it, I sort of knew what it was about, but not really. I always liked the part of the song that I posted here. It's taken on a new meaning as I've had to deal with my limitations in a new way.

I was listening to this song again today and suddenly I realized, "This song is really fitting for Temple Grandin and Helen Keller.". For both, the world would've looked at them in their early lives and just pushed them aside. Experts in the medical and psychological fields at the time would've said that they were destined to have a really poor outcome and a life largely cut off from the world. Yet God graciously provided both of them with advocates that helped them to communicate with the world and achieve what many would consider greatness. Helen Keller became a writer & speaker as well as an advocate for the blind & deaf. Temple Grandin is currently a professor & an advocate for those of us on the autism spectrum.

Why did I focus on these two people when I listened to this song? During my elementary school years, I looked up to Helen Keller & became slightly fixated on her life because I was becoming more aware of how my severe nearsightedness limited me & I also dealt with multiple installments of ear-tubes, so I had ear problems as well. Helen Keller was that person that 'went before me' in some respects to show that even if I had multiple sensory limitations, I could still adapt to my environment, and accomplish something.

Recently, I was diagnosed as having PPD-NOS otherwise known as atypical autism. However, I was SUPER-CLOSE to being diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Even as someone who studied Human Development & Family Studies, facing life lived on the autism spectrum still seems like a very daunting task. One of the first things I thought of was this documentary I watched in one of my HDFS classes about early interventions for children on the spectrum. Temple Grandin was the person that narrated that documentary, thus I began to read more of her work. I guess you could say that I am borderline fixated on her life as well, but here's the reason: She is paving the way of how to cope with life on the spectrum, and she knows that her life is being used this way.

It's like God sees that there are certain disabilities that are very difficult to live with, so He - in His timing - puts these people that live out a certain disability very publicly and in so doing, pave the way for others as a way to inspire and provide hope. It's His grace that people marvel at and cause wonder that Natalie Merchant writes about. Helen Keller & Temple Grandin's stories remind me that it's grace that we see in our own lives & others that gives us hope that He will help us make our way.

Grace smiled at destiny

No this child will be able

Laughed as my body she lifted

No this child will be gifted

she'll make her way

(lyrics adapted)

PS: Here's a video that explains the story of Wonder

Friday, July 09, 2010

Spiritual Head-Injuries during Childhood

Jen Smith has a really great blogpost on her blog about the Helmet of Salvation: here in reference to how the spiritual helmet guards one's thoughts. My dear roommate sent me some reading about how the helmet in the Roman soldier's armor was a key life-saving piece of armor. If the soldier sustained a head-injury there was no MRI, no neuro-surgeon standing by to care for his injury in a sterile environment. The soldier could bleed out from an open wound, sustain a stroke, have pressure build inside his skull, contract an infection after a few days, etc. Basically, head-injuries pretty much meant death back in the day. Even now, brain-trauma from open or closed head wounds can be debilitating. Depending on the nature and location of the injury, different and/or multiple functions can be damaged.

So why am I bringing this up? I had this thought after something happened with me this morning that made me react really badly in a situation where I didn't give anyone including myself grace for messing up. God informed me that I was getting spiritually attacked, thus I needed my armor on pronto. I indignantly asked Him, "Why do I need the helmet of salvation when my BRAIN'S MESSED UP ANYWAY!?!?!" (thanks to a mixture of genetics + early development btw). Then God gave me this word-picture that He knew only a nerdy HDFS / formerly premed person would understand.

He gave me this picture of a child being hit on the head repeatedly & throughout his/her early development. Blows could come from a parental figure, circumstances, lies from the world, or several of those sources. What I was reminded was that spiritually, I was that kid. I took repeated head-trauma to my soul with people & the world saying "I was not normal enough, I was too medically/developmentally difficult to be worthy of true unconditional love, I couldn't do enough to fill a void in someone's life." This damaged the function in my soul that connected to God rightly. You could say that I formed an avoidant attachment to God through this. I wanted to know God, but I felt like He was always mad at me & that He didn't really care because I felt like I was an inconvenience. I also felt a stronger pull than the normal population to pay for what I did wrong by beating myself up both mentally & physically. Therefore, I learned enough theology in Sunday school to get by, but I never praised Him as Creator, and only prayed during crisis moments. Even then I doubted that He would truly listen & come through.

Then in college someone explained to me: Yes, you are sinful. Yes, God is perfect. But God sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God saves us not on our own merit, but because Christ paid our penalty for our sins. I accepted that because it made perfect sense. I couldn't try on my own to be perfect. I needed Christ.

On an eternal-security level, God has secured this attachment. I have His Spirit in me as a deposit as a guarantee (Ephesians 1). On an emotional level, sometimes I feel like I still have a disorganized attachment to God. This is when the head-injured part of my soul still feels the blows from my past. The old injuries are re-opened and God is always in the process of healing them. Will my walk with God be marked by my past soul-injuries for the rest of my earthly life? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe the wounds are so deep that God will be there to intervene to keep them from getting worse, but they may still be there. Maybe He will heal them completely. I know for certain that in Heaven, God will make my soul new, thus healing my wounds once and for eternity.

Like a child that might have had a head-injury & needs extra protection, I must always remember to keep the helmet of salvation on. I must always remind myself that I am saved & allow God to protect my thoughts, especially in crisis situations. I must allow God to keep hold of me in case I loose my step and fall, or something tries to hit me in the head & re-damage me. God, like a good therapeutic professional, knows exactly what I need, is there in a crisis when my wounds flare up & cause me to think or act out of the hurt rather than Truth, and He soothes those wounds & improves my functioning toward Him & the world. Clinging to Him also gives me hope & reassurance that because of His grace, I will walk around feeling the hurt & damage from my spiritual wounds only for this world, and will walk around in perfect relationship with Him forever.