Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Vortex of Love

Tonight Mom and I had another evening of taking my aunt back to her apartment and driving her and Grandma to a restaurant to eat. Grandma paid for everyone's meal as a Christmas / Birthday gift to my mom :) My aunt made it back to her apartment and she and her roommate were happy to see each other when her roommate opened the door. 

The drive back to my grandma's house was uneventful and I had no problems helping Grandma into the house. However, Mom had a bit of trouble getting into the garage (it's an old garage door), and she got a bit frustrated which resulted in her taking her frustration out on me. 

Later Mom and I talked and she said that she didn't like all the driving around she had to do as part of her caregiving routine. I gathered from the conversation that she didn't feel appreciated. Earlier I gave Mom a Hobby Lobby gift card as a small birthday present and Mom was really excited about that and a surprise birthday card a neighbor gave her.

Our conversation made me realize why those little gifts were so precious to Mom. It seems that Mom was starved for love growing up, and she is still hungry for love. Tonight I shared with her Romans 5:5 which says hope (in God's love) does not dissapoint because God pours out His love through His Holy Spirit. That seemed to cheer her up along with a hug :) :) 

Yet I came to my room and had a bit of a near teary moment because I do not want to be a vortex of love. 

I do not want love to come to me and I just to take it and keep demanding love and keep demanding praise and such. I do not want others to feel like they can never please me and that everything anyone does isn't good enough because I always need more love. 

I also do not want to have to be in a situation where another person is pulling love from me and demanding more and never has enough from me. Specifically, I do not want to get married and discover Prince Charming is a vortex of love. That would be bad. That is a fear I have in getting married. 

I want to be a fountain of love - a little bubbling fountain where people can be encouraged and see that Christ loves through me because I am imperfect at loving people. Not just because of my ASD, but because I am not perfect - I sin and need Christ my savior. 

I want to marry a fountain of love fueled by Christ. Fountains give life and love, but a vortex only takes away.

We are all vortexes of love apart from Christ. Only Christ can fill up the holes left from our development. These holes just take away and suck love out of other people and demand more love from those around other people and can't give back. But Christ covers these holes. He is all in all, and transforms His followers from vortexes to reflections of His true fountain of love. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Tea and Hot Chocolate

Mom and I finished our Christmas with tea and hot chocolate! Mom liked her cute snowman mug :)

Yesterday I wrote how I was struggling to get in the Christmas spirit this whole season. Well, I'd have to say that after that post, I was feeling more in the Spirit. Not just the Christmas Spirit, but letting God's Spirit talk to me more. 

I was able to stay calm when Mom was worried about going over to my grandma's house to take her and my aunt to church. Turns out, they weren't sure how it would all work out as it was blowing snow. Mom and I were concerned about Grandma falling on the ice as she has osteoporosis and is quite unsteady. When Grandma said she didn't think she would go to church, I reminded her that God understood and that she made a really good decision to stay safe and warm inside her house. My aunt wasn't too disappointed either, and so Mom and I went back home after wishing them a merry Christmas. 

The morning of Christmas, I got up and made Mom some breakfast. We jammed to some Jars of Clay and Third Day Christmas tunes. While opening presents, we jammed to Chris Tomlin's Glory in the Highest CD. Some years I see presents as a competition: did I get enough presents for Mom to 'match' what she gave me? If I feel like I didn't break even with Mom and she gave more than I did, I would feel guilty afterward. But this year, I was more grateful for her presence than her... presents! (Yes, that was a pun for any of my blog stalkers who enjoy puns!) Mom and I bought each other really inexpensive practical gifts and that was nice :) 

Then I read Isaiah 11 - 66. Like the whole thing. 

Mind. Blown. 

Like. Wow. WOW! GOD IS LIKE SUPER EPIC! He wipes out WHOLE NATIONS and saves HIS PEOPLE - His Redeemed - for Himself all through Christ and - oh man - did I say that was epic already??? There's a bunch of prophesies specific to Christ, and tons MORE that are general promises for those that are redeemed through Christ and were for the people of the Old Testament. Oh. Man! 

Like I said: Mind. Blown! 

That was really nice to set the stage for the next part of our Christmas which was taking my grandma and aunt out to dinner en route to taking my aunt back to her apartment. 

We went to one of the few restaurants that was open. The server wasn't as quick as his co-workers, but we eventually got everything we asked for. I felt like asking the manager to ask him to get a move on it since we had two family-member clients that had to get places before it got too cold, but I think God was teaching me patience. I was nice to the guy even though I thought he should've done a better job for how busy the place was and that they seemed to have adequate staff. However, God reminded me that Christ treated us not as we deserve, so I should treat this server not as he deserved. I was nice and we all wished him a Merry Christmas and tipped him adequately. 

Mom was a bit worried about Grandma walking on the ice, but there wasn't much, and she was ok. There was one moment where both she and my aunt were using me for balance, and I was thinking, 'Ok guys. At least we're right by the car.' We made it to my aunt's apartment and I helped her open the door. She was turning the key the wrong way in the deadbolt and I showed her after the door was open so she could see the bolt going in and out of the door. Mom, Grandma, and I made it home uneventfully. It was just super cold. 

Hence the need for tea and hot chocolate once Mom and I got home :) 

I know it's a pretty obvious thing to point out, but definitely focusing on Christ helped me this Christmas. God worked through  me to display His love and care on the day we celebrate His birth. For that, I am thankful :) 

Monday, December 24, 2012

What remains when traditions are stripped away

Mom and I are struggling to keep the true meaning of Christmas in our minds this year for a few reasons. 

First, our tree has been downsized a lot. We've gone from a 5 foot tree in the corner of the living room to 
this little ornament tree from Target because my crud is in the corner as you all can see. 

I still have Mom's presents around it :) :) 

Second of all, Mom and are not going to my aunt's house in Littleton like we normally do because she has other Christmas plans. 

Third of all, Mom and I are going to take my grandma and my aunt with special needs to church tonight and then out to eat tomorrow before we take my aunt back to her apartment. We will basically be focused on family caregiving on Christmas day. 

I can 'check out' and treat Christmas like I did when I worked at the group home: It's a holiday, but I'm at work for some of it and I can focus on the clients but not on what the holiday is really about. I can make Christmas about keeping Mom happy and making sure she has a nice Christmas and not really celebrate it myself in my own heart. 

However, I can do all these things: joyfully help my aunt and grandma as well as encourage my mom if I remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas. 

Today I felt myself checking out, so I spent some time in Isaiah chapters 9 to 11. I read the familiar verses of "For unto us a child is born..." to Mom and that cheered her up. Christmas is about redemption. Christmas is about Christ coming to redeem His people out of the world being held captive by sin. Christmas is about God and His love for the world. 

If I focus firstly on Christ and celebrate His birth, that encouragement derived from that and He can better display His love to my family as I help meet their physical and emotional needs. If I focus firstly on Christ, all traditions can be stripped away: we could go without our little ornament tree and little presents, yet I could still rejoice in Christmas because I would be rejoicing in Christ. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Isaiah 4:2

And THIS is why I like the book of Isaiah and one of my friends likes the book of Isaiah too!!! :) :) :) :) 

"In that day, the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel."  - Isaiah 4:2 (ESV emphasis added)

 I asked myself, "What is the fruit of the land that would be the pride and honor of the survivors?" Then I thought of the 1930's Dust Bowl because Mom and I watched a PBS special on it (yes we're nerds).


Kansas and other places in the Midwest were utterly laid to waste and buried under dust. The agricultural community lost its only source of income. 

Those people that didn't relocate to the cities and survived the Dust Bowl really truly rejoiced over the crops they had once the Dust Bowl ended. They had survived and persevered, and now they had a crop again! 

I'm sure these people had other 'fruit of the land' that resulted in surviving the Dust Bowl. They probably learned a lot about improvisation in hard times and just what determination and loyalty to their land and their way of life truly meant. 

The Israelites Isaiah was writing about were the ones who would return from exile. They would once again live in and off of the Promised Land again, but he was also writing about God's people overall. So how about us as Christians? In one sense we are also the "survivors of Israel" because we're God's people stuck in a fallen world. 

That verse struck me because in one sense, I have survived a lot. I really did survive being born very low birthweight (3 pounds and I was term), having Hepatitis B, having measles and menengitis, having severe sensory integration problems (WHERE THERE WAS NO INTERVENTION FOR ANOTHER 10 YEARS FOR IT GRRRRRR...), mild autism spectrum disorder, and attachment issues. 

So, what has that taught me: Well, that God is The Man because only He could've brought me through that. So, one fruit is gratefulness to God :) Empathy for people going through hard times, because, man! They are no fun. A dependence on God for comfort through it, and a seeking of Him that ultimately led to me accepting Him as my Savior. The Fruit of the Spirit because God made me new and His Spirit is in me. Yay for tangible examples, and my life happens to be one of them :) 

Interesting! :) I pray for all my Christian brothers and sisters that are going through hard times and are / have survived little and big things. I pray that they would be able to trust God for fruit from it and trust that He is with them in it :) Because it's cool when He shows the fruit and brings Him glory and makes Him more real for us :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

A compilation of thoughts and feelings about today's events

I can't think of a clever title to this post, but it's a direct excerpt from my journal. I only share this because maybe someone can be helped inseeing how I still rely on my faith to help me think about the mass shooting today.
Mom and I went into a nearby movie theater to watch The Hobbit and watched two and a half hours of hilarious dwarves, pretty elves, short hobbits, a crazy Gollum, and really ugly giants and orcs battle it out in Middle Earth. 

We walked out of the movie theater and I checked Facebook in the car to tell my peeps that the movie was FREAKING AWESOME!! People were posting about some tragedy and one of my HDFS friends had her political commentary on it. I was thinking, “What the heck did I miss?” Then I checked Google News and I said in a very Sheldon Cooper-ish voice, “Oh, Lord!”

Battling it out in Middle Earth with some smelly orcs wouldn’t be as bad as realizing some crazy guy shot up a classroom where 20 kids died. Like school aged kids. Like just coming out of early childhood and discovering the joys of middle childhood kids.

Like kids I worked with when I was hping out my first year of AWANA and kids I have been a nanny for and kids I saw swarming the Summitview building.

I’m rocking to some Skillet because it’s sorta like how I feel right now like how headbangers at Marylin Manson or heavy metal concerts headbang like, “F-THE WORLD!!!!” Except, I could be headbanging like, “THIS WORLD SUCKS AND NEEDS JESUS!”

I told Mom and she agrees that we both feel waves of numbness mixed with waves of sadness and waves of anger.

I don’t understand in a personal way why some of my friends posted stuff like “I will hold my son tighter tonight.” because in one sense, they are in Colorado and this happened in Connecticut. A good friend explained to me that these parents sympathise with parents who have lost kids in this shooting, and this has made my friends grateful that their children are still alive. She also said that they are comforted in a way by their kids’ presence.

Even though I initially told her that I didn’t get it, I sort of do. I have thought about helping the school-aged kids in AWANA with their game time and later getting their awards at the AWANA shop, and I haven’t thought about them for a long time. I’ve thought about the two kids I was a nanny for over two summers, and I haven’t thought about them for a while. They are in 2nd and 3rd grade now. In a way, I guess I’m ‘holding my kids tighter.’ I’m thinking about them more, and I am grateful that the kids I have helped are safe. I have prayed that nothing bad happens to them.

At Chipotle after I read about this event, I saw a little baby. I think it was a boy. It was in a lime green shirt and in a high-chair facing away from me. He was a brown haired squirmy little guy, and one thought I had was that I wondered what sort of world he would grow up in. Would things like this be the norm that he would hear on the news? I hope not, but if the world is going to be more depraved before Christ comes back, I am afraid he will view it as somewhat normal.

As I was making dinner, I thought about if I ever met Prince Charming and had kids. If they said, “Mom, I heard about a mass shooting in [insert city] in [a school / mall / who knows where].” would I just say, “Oh. Yeah, that’s been happening for a while, kids.” I wouldn’t brush it off and say, “Yeah yeah. Ok, dinner’s at six. Do your homework, guys.” Depending on their developmental levels and how it was affecting them, I would talk it over with them. But it was a sobering thought to realize that I’d say, “Ok, as a kid, I had to learn how to deal with it like this…”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s just a really weird thought to think about. That events like this could become somewhat the norm. Like how high speed chases on the news are talked about but they’ve sort of lost their, “brand new news story no one has ever experienced ever!!” appeal.

Aaand, my HDFS Nerd side wants to have a go at something, so here we go:

How to explain a mass shooting to your child at various developmental stages:

0 - 2 years: keep the routine normal, try not to tune in too much to the news so that you keep yourself emotionally responsive to the child’s needs.
2-4 years old: Explain that an emergency is happening in another city and they need this TV time and that is why [insert kid’s show] is not on. Put in DVD’s or stream a movie to device. Heck, the cute kids’ movie will be better than the news. If the child asks, explain that someone made a really bad choice and hurt a lot of people, but the police in that area are making it safe for everyone else. Maybe use toys to explain (toy cops, firetruck etc.) “Now the cop is blocking the school so the kids will be safe now.” “Now the ambulance is getting the hurt people out.” Tell the child that Jesus will help the people there feel better and we should pray for them. Jesus can help us feel less scared too. 

5-7: Same thing just slightly more advanced. Explain basics of criminal justice system (thank you, paralegal nerd side) if child asks what will happen to suspect if suspect is alive). Explain basics of public safety system (911 / police / fire) and how they would respond in child’s area of residence. Explain that Jesus is still in control and we should pray. Explain how Jesus making us new helps us not make bad decisions like that. If it is a bullying related incident, emphasize child can help other children in the school environment who are ostercized.

8-12 Let the child come to you with what he / she understands. Listen. Ask open ended questions and then explain what he/she does not understand about the situation (disaster planning, criminal system questions, emotional questions, theological questions). Be available to talk if he/she needs. Answer ‘The Problem of Evil’ question as concretely as possible. Using cultural analogies LOTR, Narnia, whatever child is interested in to help illustrate how yes, the real world is full of villians, but Jesus is the true hero. Discuss how child can share this stuff with friends. Discuss concrete ways to help the community to do some good and spread some Jesus.

12+ Let adolescent come to you, listen. Answer questions as needed. Let him/her know if he/she needs additional support, you are there. Continue to help adolescents develop a Biblical response to stuff like this and nurture empathy and being real with how God helps us cope with this.
TAAA DAAAAAAAAAA! I sorta think that’s awesome that I have a template - it’s not foolproof, but I have a TEMPLATE of how to explain to a kid about mass shootings / mass casualty events and I don’t have to listen to the news to see “Now how do you explain to this to your child?” because I HAVE a birth - adolescence quick guide!!!!!! WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO! Prince Charming (if he’s out there) better be impressed :D
But seriously, it’s nice to have. I would’ve liked some support even at age 14 when I learned about the Columbine shooting. It didn’t help that Mom and I actually went to the park near the school while news crews and the national guard and police were surrounding the place. Whoops. I think that made the whole emotional processing of the event worse. I had to ask God the hard questions on my own and rely on Him alone for emotional support. It was bad at times, but I guess now I’m grateful I had the experiences. Maybe after living through these experiences, my future generation will have more security in God through these types events won’t have to feel so alone. 

Bad guys should be Orcs

Bad guys should be like the orcs in The Hobbit! Slimy ugly and obviously very mean looking! That way we'd know to eliminate them from our surroundings as to keep ourselves safe. 

I mean, if a 3000 pound Orc came stomping down the street and entered a school zone, the CIA, FBI, SWAT team, and the hobbits and Gandalf would be there to take him DOWN! 

But bad guys do NOT magically morph into orcs so we can be like, "GAAAAAAANNNNNNNDAAAAAALLLLFFF HEEEEEELP!" They sometimes aren't obvious that they are the bad guys. So they can do stuff like sneak into schools or malls or movie theaters and kill a lot of people and that's bad. Really really bad. 

There's a reason why bad guys don't just morph into orcs. Because we all have 'bad guy' in us. I mean, if I snap at my mom and my skin turned green like the wicked witch of the West,  she would know, "Uh oh... grumpy snarly Katie is here!" Same if she snapped at me, she'd uh - get warts all over her face, so I would know it's 'evil mom.'

Left unchecked, us two might just become orcs because our evil natures would take over completely. However, God has saved us so the old sinful orc-ish nature is gone and even though we battle it, truly on the inside we're good :) We're not ugly warty evil witches, but at our core, we're princesses :D (Guys that are saved, inside, you're not orcs / stormtroopers / evil character. Inside you guys are like Super/Spider/Ironman / Jedi / Gandalfs / Aragorns). 

Aaaanyway, that's something I've been thinking of. We can say that the person who did this shooting is like a really REALLY evil bad ugly orc that GANDALF MUST KILL IMMEDIATELY, but we all are to some extent orcs. Nothing could save this guy but Christ, and Christ would transform him, and nothing can save us except Christ. The orc-ness disappears as Christ transforms us. 

That is the hope of the world, and Christ is the only way the bad guys are going to get eradicated.