Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Unlikely Likely Suspect

This guy Nehemiah wasn't regarded very highly in Jewish culture. After all, he was a enuch, meaning he was castrated. To Jews, this meant that he had no prospect of an "inheritance" of future generations, (children). Succeeding, was everything in the Jewish tradition. He was an attendant to the Persian King, the royal cup-bearer. Though, Nehemiah was a faithful and prayerful servant of God.

Think of this for a second. No one ever imagined Nehemiah could be anything but a simple cup holder for a king. His life, thought of as meaningless...pitiful, by most others. What could he possibly accomplish?

The king obviously liked him and thought favorably of him, despite his "disability'. We know this because when Nehemiah heard of the awful condition of Jerusalem, he became deeply saddened. The king took notice of Nehemiah's mourning and asked him the reason behind it. Nehemiah explained his grief to the king and the king granted him permission to go to Jerusalem and appointed him GOVERNOR of Judea! Wow! Right!?!

But that's not all! The story gets better! Nehemiah left his plush, easy-going, unexpecting, uneventful life for an uncertain and desolate place. Remember, he's a "nobody" with "no future"...and everyone knows it, acting as Governor of his homeland, Jerusalem.

He gets there and tells the Jews of all that God has put on his heart to do and of his plans to get it done, and they begin rebuilding the Jerusalem wall from the RUINS & RUBBLE! (Hmmm...) THEN, opposition from other leaders and nations...with schemes to destroy Nehemiah's and the jew;s progress. Nehemiah prayed to God for protection and they DID NOT STOP WORKING! Instead, Nehemiah positioned them with weapons in the exposed places to protect themselves and their families. They continued working AND keeping guard against the opposition! They worked non-stop...TOGETHER! They finished the wall in 52 DAYS! 52 DAYS!!!!


Of course, Nehemiah didn't stop there...he helped the poor, faced yet more opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, restored God's laws to the people, encouraged his people and carried out many reforms.

This unlikely suspect...when no one else would, (even though many more "capable" could), was the likely one that God used!


When you see someone that doesn't seem to have the ability to be of "value:...or doesn't appear to have the potential for greatness (to be remembered for his/her good)...just remember Nehemiah's persistent prayer to God, "Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people."...then turn to the BOOK of Nehemiah in the HOLY BIBLE and read of his SUCCEEDING! :)

He's got his own BOOK in the BIBLE! Is God FAITHFUL or what!!!!! :)


Celebrating behavior!

You know...when my son Jason was diagnosed with Autism. I didn't freak out. I really didn't even cry. I don't know that I believed it. I do know, however, that I had no idea how it would impact my life, my children's lives, my friend's lives or my son's life.

I had no idea that my heart was going to ache each time I was gently and not so gently asked not to bring Jason back to a pre-school or Sunday school or playgroup. I didn't know that I was going to be painfully aware of what we were all missing when he didn't reach developmental and cognitive milestones. It was beyond my imagination that I wouldn't find the services he would need to treat his Autism. I couldn't have fathomed that the costs involved for medical, biomedical, educational and therapies would be out of my grasp. I couldn't have known the feelings of failure in not being able to provide the best for him. There were no indicator's that when he entered the school system that I would have to fight for my son to be educated.

No one sat me down and said, "Get ready for the longest and most heart wrenching battle". No one told me to grieve. No one told me that they were sorry. No one and nothing prepared me.

I'm thankful that I was clueless and didn't have a melt down. I wouldn't have been able to function for him or my other children. I'm so thankful that I was just too busy to sit down and have a prolonged pity party. I'm most thankful that it has been one day at a time. Any inclination would have made me believe that it wasn't possible with all that I already had on my plate.

I heard a story once about a man who was rock climbing alone...he fell into a crevice and was stuck and injured badly...realizing quickly that no one would be able to find him to rescue him...he knew the only thing he could do was cut off his own arm. Then he had to walk out of there on foot. It took him days. Then when people asked him the questions..."How did you survive?", "How did you do that?", "What prepared you for this?"...he said that he didn't know he could until he had to.

Looking back...I didn't know that I could be "here" and be okay, let alone experience joy. I do know how I survived though...I know how we all survived...and thrived even!


Through Love. Through Hope. Through Friends. Through Family. Through Faith. Through Acceptance. Through Repentance. Through Humbleness. Through Strength. Through Encouragement. Through Forgiveness. Through Patience. Through Perseverance. Through Endurance. Through Commitment.

I think of who I was before my relationship with God and even though at the time I thought was a relatively good person...I am so thankful for who God has grown me up to be and I so look forward to realizing where I will be and what I was able to survive and thrive and overcome with God's character refining me and stretching me.

I can't wait to find out what God believes about me...what He thinks I can do...that I don't know that I can! I can't wait for all of my children to realize how much more they are because He knew about us what we couldn't imagine for ourselves!

Whatever it day at a person at a time...He will get us through. He was, is and always will tell us the truth. He proves it everyday! No matter the struggle's title..."Autism", "Cancer", "Divorce", "Abuse", "Addiction", "Job Loss"...we will be MORE than we are now because of Him and the experiences He allows into our lives.

And today...I will educate my son's teacher in that after 6 weeks of difficulties and struggles that Jason has persevered through in adjusting to a new, unyielding, overstimulating environment...when he is just now showing signs of remarkable improvement...with over 30 negative remarks on his behavior report...and now three good remarks in a row...we MUST stop for a moment to celebrate as not to overlook the progress and quickly move on to what needs to be "worked" on next...because then we won't realize what we CAN do...that we once thought we couldn't! And neither will he.

Maybe He Just Has Autism

If you were to meet my son, Jason, you might walk away with an impression of him as being “all boy” or “talkative” and almost certainly, “busy“. But it‘s doubtful that you’d describe him as “intense”, “complicated” or “restless”. No, you’d have to spend a lot more time with him to begin to entertain those thoughts.

None the less, for more than three years now, I’ve watched this child of mine, struggle with an issue, and suffering many things from many physicians and other “professionals“. I have spent all that I have and yet, he is no better but rather, in some ways, worse. Why then do I continue to devote all of my resources and efforts on his issue. The answer is simple. His struggle is my struggle. His suffering is my suffering. His issue is my issue.

This last week was quite difficult, but no different than most, in regards to our issue. Inconclusive (expensive) medical test results, negligent care providers carelessly endangering my son‘s safety, self-absorbed administrator’s covering truth, condescending (unsolicited) self-appointed advisors, unreliable and unfunded resources, lack of service from insurance CSR‘s, unsympathetic creditors and overwhelming frustration for a problem solver like me - a results oriented person like me.

The issue… insurmountable Autism.

Autism. An issue that begets more issues that begets struggles that begets suffering that begets hard, tedious, expensive, time consuming, isolating work. It also seems to beget an otherwise nice person making a stupid comments to me like, “Maybe he just has autism.”.

“Maybe he just has autism.”

Comments similar to this are frequent. If people don’t say them…they think them. Strangers, co-workers, neighbor’s, friends and without fail, family members. My response always depends on my frustration level and my discernment of their intention.

This one, however, was different. This one is the worst of it‘s kind. This is the spirit killer comment. This is the one that causes you to lie awake all night wondering if you are making an issue about your issue! This is the one that makes you question everything about yourself. This one makes you wonder, “Maybe I just need to accept that….maybe he just has autism.”.

Maybe. Maybe not.

You see, that‘s what ‘they‘ all think! “Maybe he just has autism.”. And then, ‘they’ do what ‘they’ do best…nothing. That’s how the mindless think. That’s how the unbelievers think. That’s how the defeated think.

I’m different. I’m his mom. I’m intentional. I’m a believer. I’m desperate. I am not defeated. I am not mindless.

That is why it’s not just Jason’s issue. It’s my issue too. If I didn’t carry his issue with him and for him, he would just be left alone with his issue.

Check out Mark 5:21-43.

Jesus traveling by boat heads to the shore, where a crowd has gathered to see him. He gets out of the boat and they surround him.

I imagine a rock concert, or better yet, a tin can of sardines. People are there from all over…gathering, pushing, shoving to get as close to Jesus as possible. I can hear them calling out his name, as they elbow their neighbor, just to get a better look. I picture his apostles acting as His bodyguards, desperately trying to protect the Lord from the crowd. This crowd, building in excitement…in meeting someone…famous.

They’d obviously heard rumors and stories about this Jesus…healing the sick, feeding the poor, standing up to oppressors and performing miracle after miracle, where ever He went. And now, here he is…on their shore. They’re all debating with each other their beliefs, their opinions, their ideas of who He really is. “Maybe he’s just a teacher.”. “Maybe he’s just a prophet.”. “Maybe he’s just demon possessed.”. “Maybe he’s just crazy.”. Who would think…“Surely, He’s God!”.

Among that curious throng of people, is a father who breaks through the crowd and when he finally reaches Jesus, he falls to his feet (in worship), begging Him earnestly (intentionally), asking for Him to come lay hands on his dying daughter.

This father was desperate. This father was intentional. This father believed in Jesus‘ ability to save his baby girl. Otherwise, why would he have wasted precious time trying. This father was different than the majority in the crowd. He believed in Jesus’ ability to save his daughter.

When Jesus saw and heard this father, what did He do? I’ll tell you what he didn’t do first. He didn’t ignore this father, among all the other‘s who were surely screaming their requests. He didn’t look at this father and roll His eyes while letting out a big sigh. He didn’t give the father advice about how he could have avoided his daughter’s illness. He didn’t get frustrated that the father came to Him. He didn’t explain that He’d like to help the father, but He was a little busy at the moment. No, Mark 5:24 states, “So Jesus went with him…”.

On their way, surrounded by “a great multitude” of people, Jesus barely able to move without someone “MINDLESSLY” touching or bumping into the Savior, a woman comes up behind Jesus. This woman had an issue of her own for 12 years. She INTENTIONALLY touches his garment BELIEVING that if she could just touch a piece of his clothing she would be healed. And she was. Jesus stopped in the midst of the great crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

He is being pushed, pulled, poked, touched in every direction in this huge crowd of people following him and he asks this? I can imagine the perplexed looks on His disciples faces, and one finally asking, “WHAT?!?”. An easier question to answer might have been, “Who hasn’t touched my clothes?”!

Jesus felt His power go out of Him, only when this UNCLEAN woman reached out and touched his garment. She receiving His power, instantly healed, just as she had believed. After hearing Him ask, she knows that He means her, among all the others that it could have been, because she KNEW immediately that she was healed…she FELT it. So she falls to his feet (worship), fearing and trembling (reverence) and told Him the truth (confession - she was unclean and wasn’t supposed to be there). He then tells her that her FAITH had made her well. (Her faith in Him - was the “thing” that she had “done” to make her well.).

Jesus continues on with the father of the dying daughter with the great “mindless” multitude still following when someone from his daughter’s house comes to tell the girl’s father that his daughter is dead. Instructing him that there was no sense in bringing Jesus to her now, it was hopeless. “Maybe she’s just dead.”

Jesus tells the man, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” ---- Why didn’t he tell this to the father? The father just learned that his daughter is dead. Why does it not mention a typical reaction of a father receiving this news? Defeat. Grief. I assume it was because he believed in Jesus and His saving power, even though he surely had never seen anyone raise a dead person.

Jesus stopped the great multitude, still mindless; still aweless, from following and only allowed three of his disciples and the father to continue.

Many were gathered at the home of the girl, weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus asked them why they were weeping and informed them that the girl was not dead, but only sleeping. They ridiculed Him. They didn’t believe. He sent them all outside, except for his three disciples and the mother and father. Jesus took her hand, commanded her to rise and she did, immediately! They were overcome with great amazement. Jesus then commanded them strictly that no one should know it. This miraculous event happens in front of their eyes and they can’t tell the world? Why?

The believers were given a reward for their faith. The doubters were not because they weren’t convinced by that time, this, likely wouldn’t either. In their doubt they wouldn’t believe and Jesus knew that. They’d make excuses or come up with reasonable doubt…saying, ”Maybe she WAS just sleeping.”.

Maybe he just has autism.

That’s what the great multitude mindlessly believe. I believe differently.

What is respite?

noun, verb, -pit·ed, -pit·ing.
1. a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief: to toil without respite.
2. temporary suspension of the execution of a person condemned to death; reprieve.
–verb (used with object)
3. to relieve temporarily, especially from anything distressing or trying; give an interval of relief from.
4. to grant delay in the carrying out of (a punishment, obligation, etc.).

Respite care is a productive program with valuable social opportunities held in a safe environment for a special needs child or dependent adult, which enables their caregiver(s) relief from continuous care. The caregiver receives a portion of the day or night for precious time apart from their normal routine to care for their own emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs. 

Without time off, caregivers become weary and are in a continual state of providing care. Caring for persons with intellectual/physical disabilities requires frequent breaks, however in Houston, Texas there is a lack of community services available for these individuals to enjoy time apart from their daily routine of providing continuous care.

Consequently, as a result of stress associated with their isolation and around-the-clock routine, families suffer emotionally, and serious health and social risks can occur.

Respite care has been proven to alleviate this burden and help sustain the health and well being of caregivers. Improving the wellbeing of caregivers can avoid or at least delay out-of-home placements for their loved ones. In addition, respite care can reduce the likelihood of abuse or neglect, as well as divorce. Overall, respite care is inherently valuable and helps to sustain marriages, strengthen families, and form community relationships.