Wednesday, November 30, 2011

pondering Nancy and Babe

Nancy was my friend. At least, until she wasn’t.  

Nancy was fun, friendly, kind. We had a lot of fun together.   

Until the kids at the bus stop told me she smelled like urine. Turned out she did, due to a health problem of some kind, but I’d never noticed before. As we approached late elementary school, remaining friends with Nancy was social suicide.  So I just stopped.  I stopped being her friend.  I never once bullied her, but I’m sure what I did was worse.  I spit in the face of the years we’d spent carefree and happy. I acted like she didn’t exist. 

I cared about Nancy, she was a wonderful friend and I enjoyed her company … until someone told me I wasn’t supposed to, and I listened.  

Babe was a na├»ve little pig.  All he knew was that the sheepdog Fly had offered to be his mom, and he loved her.  Then Ma Sheep told him Fly was a wolf – vicious, cruel, and that Babe shouldn’t have anything to do with wolves.  Babe could hear Fly barking and worried Ma was right.  He spent that day in misery, second guessing his heart.  Then Fly came home, kissed him, and tiredly asked how his day had been.  Babe flew headlong into her love and swore to never think ill of any creature ever again.  Not Fly – Not Ma – Not Anyone.

Babe was right.
I was wrong.

We moved away the summer after my sixth grade year.  I have no idea what happened to Nancy.  I'd love to find out. And I'd love to apologize.

Never again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

family advent

We love this time of year.  When we first learned about advent, we had no idea "how to do it" - now we settle right in.  Every year I tweak things a bit, but we find comfort in the familiar, so much of this remains the same.  I do try to find new scriptures and teach them a few new songs each year, but they still like to sing the old ones, too, so those get worked in spontaneously. :)

I've typed up this year's plan to print for easy reference, and thought - why not share?  Much of this came  our way because others shared with me.  If you find any of this helpful for use with your family, enjoy.  I've been looking forward to this for several weeks now, which I suppose is the essence of advent, isn't it?  When you anticipate the season of anticipation...  

Order:
Light candle/s.
Pray.
Read story. (this is our first year with this storybook, we'll see how we like it - mostly thinking of little Mary with this)
Discuss.
Read a passage of scripture (weekly theme)
Sing (weekly theme)
Recite Prayer (repeat nightly)
Sing O Come Emmanuel (repeat nightly)
Scriptures
Hope: 
Psalm 25:1-7, Psalm 42, Psalm 130, Isaiah 40:27-31, Luke 1:5-17, Is 42:5-9, Isaiah 25:6-8, Luke 1:46-55, Romans 8:25

Peace: 
Luke 1:26-38, Isaiah 9:6-7, John 14:27, Luke 1:67-79, John 20:21, II Cor 5:14-21, Philippians 4:6-7

Joy: 
1 Chronicles 16:31-34, Psalm 16, Isaiah 35, Matthew 13:44-46, Romans 12:9-21, Hebrews 12:1-2, I peter 1:3-9

Love: 
I Cor 13, Deut 10:17-19, John 13:34-35, I John 4:13-16, Mark 9:2-7, Luke 6:27-36, John 14:15-23

PRAYER (Henri Nouwen, nightly)
Lord Jesus,
master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people,
walking in darkness,
yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” “Come Lord Jesus!” “Come Lord Jesus!”

SONGS:

O COME EMMANUEL (nightly)
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

HOPE: 
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

                  Come, thou long expected Jesus,
                  born to set thy people free;
                  from our fears and sins release us,
                  let us find our rest in thee. 
                  Israel's strength and consolation,
                  hope of all the earth thou art;
                  dear desire of every nation,
                  joy of every longing heart.

                  Born thy people to deliver,
                  born a child and yet a King,
                  born to reign in us forever,
                  now thy gracious kingdom bring.
                  By thine own eternal spirit
                  rule in all our hearts alone;
                  by thine all sufficient merit,
                  raise us to thy glorious throne.


LOVE: 
Love Came Down at Christmas

Love Came Down at Christmas ,

Love all lovely, love divine;

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and angels gave the sign.


Worship we the Godhead,

Love incarnate, love divine;

Worship we our Jesus:

But wherewith for sacred sign?


Love shall be our token,

Love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and all men,

Love for plea and gift and sign.

PEACE: 
Let There Be Peace on Earth

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

JOY: 
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay

Remember, Christ, our Savior

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan's power

When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy



In Bethlehem, in Israel,

This blessed Babe was born

And laid within a manger

Upon this blessed morn

The which His Mother Mary

Did nothing take in scorn

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy



From God our Heavenly Father

A blessed Angel came;

And unto certain Shepherds

Brought tidings of the same:

How that in Bethlehem was born

The Son of God by Name.

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy



CHRISTMAS EVE: 
O Holy Night

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining, 

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 

Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. 

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! 

O night divine, the night when Christ was born; 

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 


Truly He taught us to love one another, 

His law is love and His gospel is peace. 

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. 

And in his name all oppression shall cease. 

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 

With all our hearts we praise His holy name. 

Christ is the Lord!
Then ever, ever praise we, 

His power and glory ever more proclaim! 

His power and glory ever more proclaim!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 



CHRISTMAS DAY: 
Joy to the World!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.



Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods,
rocks, hills and plains

 Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.



No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.



He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders, of His love.

pondering advent

Happy (liturgical) New Year :)


Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. 
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. 
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. 
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. 
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. 
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. 
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
~Henri Nouwen

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

pondering victory

Last night a dear friend joined me for a Sandra McCracken evening of hymns at a church in the city (notice I didn't say "concert", it was anything but a concert... and that's what made it lovely... but I digress).

Like us, our friends' oldest child has Asperger's Syndrome (and they're just about the same age).  It makes for a unique family culture, when this is the case.  We shared happy stories that she rightly pointed out most "normal" parents of "normal" kids would consider disasters.  Like her daughter finishing the 5k... she finished!!  That's party-worthy stuff right there!  What all ensued between the starting block and the finish line left us both in stitches, but she did it!  And like our son NOT climbing the cliff with the sheer drop beneath it on our family hike yesterday.  Of course, our mountaintop "conversation" around climbing said cliff surely left those around us scratching their heads and doubting my parenting prowess, but the fact of the matter is, the boy did NOT climb that cliff.  He did, of course, have to go a few rounds with me about it first... 

"Mom, trust me!"

   "This is a time for you to trust me. You will not climb that without a rope and a harness."

"Why can't  you just have courage Mom?"

     "I have courage AND wisdom. You'll understand when you're a Dad."

"I understand how you feel, Mom, but ...(heavy dramatic sigh) ... I'm doing it.  If I die, I hope you miss me" (spoken from the heart in a way that made me stifle a laugh)

"If you go one more step in that direction you're grounded from all electronics for two weeks." (spoken flatly, with a smile)

"But Mom!! It won't matter cause I'll be DEEEEAAAADDD" (make that last word drag out for a good 20 seconds or so)

"Yes, but what if you survive? How miserable will THAT be?" (still flat but with a smirk this time)

I can only imagine what other parents on the mountain top were saying/tweeting/status-updating about the crazy woman who didn't panic (as any sane person surely would) and continued such an odd conversation with her 13 year old.  

But guess what?  Doesn't matter. 

It was a victory.

No screaming, no wrestling, no tears, no hurt feelings, NO ONE DIED (LOL) ... and more importantly no one is grounded for two weeks (wink).  

Yes, I'm glad my friend can understand that this was a victory.  And I'm even more glad that our kids' special needs have brought us together.  I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

pondering with the Gabe Dixon Band and Julian of Norwich

all will be well
even though sometimes this is hard to tell
and the fight is just as frustrating as hell
all will be well...

you can ask me how but only time will tell
all will be well


Monday, November 7, 2011

pondering life's sweet spot

For the past 2 years I've been writing a regular column for Autism Asperger's Digest called,  parent to parent :: the sweet spot.  My final entry just came out in the latest issue, and I wanted to share a few excerpts with you.  In case you're thinking "Aw, no more?" please celebrate with me, as this is a conscious decision to move on toward greater challenge and a wider audience.  Future Horizons was not able to pay me for my work.  I expect that to change, soon.  At least, that's the goal!  Oh, and look out for the next issue - some handsome faces you'll recognize will be on the cover. :)

A few excerpts of my final (regular) column.  It may not  flow well, because I've lifted the opening and closing paragraphs, and included only a bit of what came in between.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the title of this column: the sweet spot.  For me, it describes the place where we find ourselves balanced between a broad view of life and actually being present in the here and now. Without a view of the horizon, we can fret over needless details, but if we fail to enjoy today, we can become overwhelmed by worries that belong to tomorrow.

The sweet spot mentality plays into making marriage not only work, but thrive.  I've seen the statistics on autism and divorce and it breaks my heart.  None of us are immune to the heartbreak of divorce, and all relationships suffer under stress.  But I simply refuse to accept that our marriages must deteriorate because our children have challenges.  I believe that with intentionality and (yes) work, we can foster balance in our marriage and family life.  I reject blanket statements like "Your kids have to come first!" or "Your marriage has to come first!" These relationships are not pitted against one another- they are integral parts of us and of each other.  There is no need for absolutist prioritizing.

Your child needs you to kneel down, look them in the eyes, and listen to what they have to say.  Your partner needs that same focused attention.  Every day.  For a few moments, when you're together, look him or her deep in the eye and give your full attention.  This is the best gift you can give a person, young or old.  If I'm giving my husband my attention and one of our children enters the room talking, my response needs to be, "I'm having a conversation, please don't interrupt."  Similarly, if I'm giving one of my children my attention and my husband walks in the room talking, I need to ask him to wait a moment (and he does). Mutual respect - not competition. 

Living in life's sweet spot is simply my way of describing something we all recognize when we experience it but don't always know how to attain: peace.  Peace within radiates out to everyone around us.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."  I take that as a bit of a challenge.  Stop reacting.  Start choosing.  Keep one eye on the big picture while remembering to be present in the moment.  And be at peace.

pondering again

Romans 14

I should not drink alcohol in front of an alcoholic
I should not eat meat in front of a vegetarian
I should not cuss in front of my friend who is easily offended
I should not wail with Lady Gaga while certain people are in the car
I should not discuss politics with my family
Yes, Lord - I submit.

Galatians

I must not allow a yoke of slavery to be placed upon me
I must not step outside of grace and into legalism
I must not cheapen the cross by living according to others wagging fingers or clicking tongues
I must never, never give anyone less than the Spirit control over me
I must never shut up about the change Love has wrought in my life
Yes, Lord - I submit.

So?

Where's the path?

What do I "shh" about to keep peace, and what do I scream from the rooftops?  When do I sit and weep silently to myself and when do I get up and walk out?  When do I sacrifice the small offense for the greater good, and when am I straining at a gnat but swallowing a camel?  When do I submit, and when do I rebel?

Yahweh! Yahweh! 
Take this heart and let it break.  
Guide me... I have no idea what the answers are.  
I surrender.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

WOW!!!!

I'm feeling kind of blue tonight, so imagine my joy when I checked Arnold's Angel Tree page and saw that he had over $1,000 already!! I thought maybe it was a mistake, he was at 0 just a day ago.  I'm so happy and thankful!  If you gave, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Pray with us that his family answers the call soon and that all their needs are met for reaching him.  The thought of him transferring to an institution is unbearable.
Arnold signing "I love you"


Ask and ye shall receive....

Thank you. And thank You.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christmas warriors for Arnold

It's time for Reece's Rainbow's 2011 Angel Tree!  Our family has chosen to sponsor Arnold this year. That means we have a goal to raise $1,000 for his adoption grant account.  We know first hand what that can mean for him.  When we went to adopt Mary, the money donated to her Reece's Rainbow account literally made all the difference; adoption grants allow families to cover the agency fees, travel expenses, and other costs of adopting.  We have learned that there is no shortage of willing families, but most don't have the kind of cash needed to heed the call.  Let's remove that obstacle!



Will you read about Arnold here?  Let his description touch your heart, even a wee bit?  Then go to this page, scroll down to ARNOLD and click "donate".  You will have the option to choose an ornament (or 2, or 3...) with Arnold's picture on it, or simply make a flat donation.  An ornament is $35.  I bet there are a few people on your Christmas list who you desire to "gift", but who "don't need a thing".  Arnold needs a family.  Consider honoring your loved one by changing the world.  Yes - adopting one child can't change the world, but for that one child, the world will change.  This gift matters.  As you present your loved one with their ornament, share with them what it means.  We thank you in advance.







Here you see Mary holding one of the 2008 Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree ornaments.  She'd just been home a couple of weeks when we took this special picture; special, of course, because only a few months before, we'd found her on Reece's Rainbow.  Over 500 special needs children world-wide are now home with their forever families as a result of fundraising and advocacy by Reece's Rainbow.






A final note, some of you may remember how we spent months fundraising and advocating for sweet Olga, who had cerebral palsy.  We raised over $2,000 for her, but a family was not able to get to her before she was transferred to the institution, where she sadly passed.  Or not sadly.  I would not wish a bedridden loveless existence upon anyone.  Such a hard truth.  But I want you to know that the money that was donated went into other accounts, and helped bring home children like those seen here on the homecoming page.  It's such a blessing for me to scroll through and see faces of children we've prayed for, smiling in their parents' arms.  You might enjoy clicking on the 2008 link, see if there's anyone you recognize there? :)  While Olga's passing was a blow, and remains one of those places in my heart that I dare anyone to placate with pat-answers, I choose to hold on hope and continue advocating for waiting children.






Please help us help Arnold, and rejoice with us when he is finally home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

a cello player beep boxing

yes.
cannot wait to see these guys tonight.

when death dies all things live!