Autism Awareness

Going Blue

Today is National Awareness Day for 2014! I know there are many days on the calendar that are designated for a special purpose or cause. In fact, you can find a 2014 calendar here that shares many of these special days. There are many people who suffer with many issues. Honestly, cancer sucks, diabetes sucks, cerebral palsy sucks, and the list goes on! For this day, we turn our attention to the effects of lives of individuals and families who are affected by autism.

We are one of THOSE families!

In November of 2012, we found out that one of our beautiful sons was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which is a high functioning form of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Later in the next year, we received the notice that a second son was diagnosed with autism as well. It is fair to say that it was a fairly complicated year.

Do you know that 1 in every 68 children are dealing with autism, which includes 1 in every 42 boys (www.autismspeaks.org)? Children with autism are more likely to be bullied or harassed. If you are dealing with this possibility I highly recommend checking into the Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit and the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit. You can find information about that kit here.

One of the struggles that we face as parents is that we face the comments and concerns of other parents and “concerned” adults. Our children have emotional outbursts that they cannot always control. Some of the simplest things can send them spiraling out of control. Recently, in school, a teacher was disciplining a whole class but our son thought they meant only him. He lost it at school. Autism is hard to explain to others because our children do not experience the world the way “normal” children experience it.

I am starting to hate the word, “normal!”

What is normal anyways? What does it mean to be “normal”? Are any of us truly normal? By definition, if we truly believe that we are all unique creations of a loving Heavenly Father, we are all different. There is no normal. Actually, normal is found at the foot of the cross. There is where we are all at the same place. But, I digress…

I do not hate autism. I cannot hate autism because autism is part of my kids. It is part of my family. It is part of what makes my kids who they are. Do I wish that things were easier for them? Would I take their place in a heartbeat? Will I fight every day to make sure they get the help and consideration they need to get where they want to?

YES

So, will you join me in remembering the individuals and families who deal with autism every day?

 

We Believe: Day 1 – Who Are You Listening To?

If you have not heard this awesome album, you can listen to it here, or at http://transmission.virb.com/webelieve.

Have you ever ridden on public transportation before? Or attended a sports game? Or visited an elementary school? If you have, what do all of these venues have in common?

Did you guess it? Noise, sound, voices…

We Believe (album cover)Like each of those locations, our world is full of competing voices. Brands shouting their messaging at you. The media trying to fit you into one mold or the other. People over you trying to make you into them. It is deafening, confusing, maddening, overwhelming… it is…

There are times when I need to see a clear vision. I need to hear a defined voice. I want to follow reliable direction. I crave guidance from a trusted source.

It’s how we hear Your voice, when the world’s so crazy loud
It’s how we make the choice, to seek You above the crowd

Doctrine #1 of The Salvation Army is the inspiration of the track “The Word.” The doctrine says simply that the Word of God is the place where we should find our start. It should provide the clear vision. God’s Word has a defined voice. The Scriptures give reliable direction.

The Bible can give us the guidance we so desperately need!

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalms 119:105 NIV)

In addition to the Word of God, where are other places we can go for help?

Soli Deo Gloria!

This devotional material is based on the album, We Believe, by Atlanta-based band, transMission. This material is being presented as additional throughout-provoking material. It is not meant to be doctrinal material. Quoting from the band itself: “Instead think of these songs as the frame which supports the art itself. The illustration to the sermon. “We Believe” is the illustration. The Doctrines are the sermon.” If you would like to listen to the tracks, they are found here, http://transmission.virb.com/webelieve.
Thanks for reading!

Place of Quiet Rest

Do you have a special place? Do you have a place of “quiet rest”?

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God,
Cleland Boyd McAfee (1866-1944)

Photo credit to Paula Blevins

Photo credit to Paula Blevins

Some people enjoy being out in nature. Some people like being in beautiful spaces. Some people have a special “prayer closet”. Where do you go when you want to be with God?

I have not always had a place or a time. In fact, it is something that I still struggle with! I have also struggled with time. I am not necessarily a morning person.

What is your best place and time? Where do you find your place of “quiet rest”?

God Notes: Motif

God Notes: Motif

The Meaning of Life

From: “theme, predominant feature,” 1848, from French motif “dominant idea, theme”

Meaning: In music, a motif or motive is a short musical idea, a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition.

“For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” – Viktor E. Frankl

What is the theme of your life? Is there a recurring motif that you can hear over and over again? For some of us, our families are our theme, or work, or our church. And, while all of these are not bad, they are not the best. Let’s listen to the lesson from His word today…

Today’s Lesson:

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 NIV – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

The Lord God should be the theme of our lives. Whether we are home or at work, it should be about God. Whether we are alone or with a group of people, it should be about God. Whether we are still in school or working or for some of us, both, it should be about God. God should be the central theme of our lives.

Some questions for you to think about:

  • What is the meaning of my life? Who is the meaning of my life?
  • Do I truly love God with all of my heart, soul, and strength?
  • What makes me special or important? What did God do in me that He didn’t do in anyone else?

Prayer:

Dear God:

I want You to be the main theme of my life. You give me meaning. You give me life. Write on my heart with Your love.

Amen

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Thoughts from Oklahoma: “Above the Skies”

When I arrived home from Oklahoma, some of the images still went through my mind and heart. Out of those images and the experiences, a song came out!

Above the Skies

2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes

Verse 1

I look outside my window

See the hopeless faces staring

They’re looking for a place to go.

And when your life gets shaken,

Everything you know is taken

That just leaves one last thing to know…

Chorus

And I know, I know this life has trouble

Pressing down on my tomorrow

But, I know my God’s above the skies!

And I know, I know through all this yearning

More about Your grace I’m learning

But, I know my God’s above the skies!

Above the skies, above the skies!

Verse 2

I see an Army waiting

Lives are changing, God’s creating

Hope out into this world in need.

From every corner moving

Hands and feet of Christ are loving

To His loud voice is all they heed.

Chorus

The recording is awful but it gives you an idea! You can click here to listen to it or post this in your browser: https://www.dropbox.com/s/18ui4ktw73z3sgs/Above%20the%20Skies%20%282013%20Oklahoma%20Tornadoes%29.m4a

Thoughts from Oklahoma: The Complete List

It has been an amazing experience in Oklahoma!

Here is a complete list of my posts from that experience!

May 28: Day 1-Seat at the Table
May 29: Day 2-Partners in Service
May 30: Day 3-Two Generations of Service
May 31: Day 4-Praise You in the Storm
June 1: Day 5-New Recruits Joining the Army of Hope
June 2: Day 6-The MARC of a Good Partnership
June 3: Day 7-Serving with Old Friends
June 4: Day 8-Big Storms, Small Towns
June 5: Day 9-Meeting Needs at the Point of Need
June 6: Day 10-Spiritual Care Ground Forces
June 7: Day 11-Army of the One
June 8: Day 12-Saying Goodbye but Not Forgetting

Thanks for walking this part of the journey with me!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 12-Saying Goodbye but Not Forgetting

This last post from Oklahoma is dedicated to the all of the officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers. I would also like to include all of the people I had the honor of working with from all of our partner agencies.

The weird thing about leaving now is that there has been so much good done, but there is more to be done! God has called up other faithful soldiers to carry the burden a little further! And, for that I pray for Holy strength for the local personnel who will carry it even further into the future! So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

There were long days and confusing ways! There was good teams and greater dreams! There was care and prayer! There was walking and talking! There was no “us and them.” It was always “we and Him!” So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

This experience has changed me. It has changed my perspective. It has changed how I view people. It has changed how I view myself. It has renewed old friendships and made new ones! It has brought out new partnerships and strengthened others! It has shown me a different kind of world, without borders and rules! So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

I pray God’s peace and protection over this land. For the love and care of the Father, I place these people in Your capable hands. Knowing that in all things, my God is bigger than the skies!

“For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (Psalm 108:4 NIV).

So, I am saying goodbye, but not forgetting!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 11-Army of the One

My time in Oklahoma is winding down.

One thing this experience has taught me is how proud I am of the work and ministry

of The Salvation Army. SPOILER ALERT: If you do not like The Salvation Army, then this blog post will not be something you want to continue reading.


I love The Salvation Army! We are the Army of the One!

My Army feeds people.

My Army helps people.

My Army talks to people.

My Army prays with people.

My Army loves people.

My Army cares about people.

My Army works for people.

My Army serves people.

My Army witnesses to people.

My Army prays for people.

My Army stays with people.

My Army holds people.

My Army stands up for people.

My Army is an Army of the One!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of Gods grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV).

I love my Army!

I love the people of my Army!

I love the Head of my Army!

“And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18 NIV, parentheses added mine).

Soli Deo Gloria!

Consider donating to The Salvation Army Oklahoma Disaster Relief Fund!

I can tell you I have seen first-hand where it has gone and still needs to go!

Emergency Disaster Services (EDS)

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 10-Spiritual Care Ground Forces

The Salvation Army is constantly evolving and changing the way it responds to disasters! Due to the impact that this tornado had on the people in this area, The Salvation Army wanted to make the Emotional and Spiritual Care support to be a priority in our initial service delivery. While Emotional and Spiritual Care has always been an understood in our disaster delivery service, the Army is now deploying officers (ministers) and carefully chosen, trained volunteers as Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists. These ESC personnel are tasked with the care of not only affected people, but also other disaster responders. The Salvation Army sent one of the largest continents of ESC personnel to this disaster response in my memory.

Because of the increased response in this trained personnel, we were able to deploy ESC teams with trucks and other vehicles to affected areas as “spiritual care ground forces.” These ground force teams were able to get into some areas that our mobile feeding units could not get into and offer assistance. Some of the areas were so damaged and difficult to traverse that the ESC teams were forced to walk along roads dragging coolers of cold drinks and snacks. Far from just offering physical comfort, these teams were bringing the love of God to places that had seen such sorrow!

I had a chance to work with these teams for my first two days here in Oklahoma. These dedicated officers and volunteers took to their work like trained soldiers. Every morning, they would go to the distribution warehouse and load up with supplies. From drinks to snacks to candy to small toys, they were loading up “ammunition of love” to be shared with everyone they came in contact with! They prayed as they walked! They prayed as they talked! They spoke hope to people who did not have any hope! The days were long! Some of the teams had to seek shelter during inclement weather. There were sunburns and tired feet, exhaustion and emotional wear. But, these faithful soldiers trudged on and brought hope, peace, and love to the people of this land.

Pray for the people of Oklahoma! Pray for those who are helping! Pray for those who will be staying and helping in the future!

God Bless the people of Oklahoma!
God Bless the work of the responders!
And, God Bless The Salvation Army!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 9-Meeting Needs at the Point of Need

Today, I met a wonderful lady at the Little Axe Multi-Agency Resource Center. I have been doing emergency disaster assistance casework. I asked her if I could share her story.

May 19th was a special, but ordinary day for her family. Her husband was in Shawnee with the grandmother getting ready for the birthday party for their 16-year old. While they were away from their home, disaster struck! A friend called her from a storm cellar and told her that everything was gone!

Path of May 19 & 20 2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes

Her husband tried for two days to get back to the site of their home but was not allowed. When they finally got to the site, they saw that everything was gone. It was a total loss!

Newalla, OK is a small rural community in east Oklahoma County, south of Oklahoma City and near Norman. Sandy has lived on that property for 14 years. Each and every one of the five children was born and raised in that home. She has lived in this area since the 4th grade. This was her home!

She said that when she returned she was horrified. Everything that she knew and everything that she owned was takes away but the storm! They were worried for their pets. The Bibb family has four dogs, a cat, and a bird. Fortunately, the dogs and cat have been located, but all they could find of the bird was the smashed cage.

What makes this family’s situation even worse is that the danger is not over!Right now, they are not in danger of tornadoes taking whatever is left. Their fear right now is the looters that have been going over their property taking whatever they pleased. A local church brought them some tents, cots and toys for their children. When they returned, the only thing left were a few toys!

The family is trying to make the best of it and staying out on their property. Their three-year old has not returned to the site because their is still broken glass and dangerous debris.

“I don’t have a home. Tornado came and ‘blewed’ it away!” – three-year old disaster survivor

The family has been working on clearing their property. They have been hesitant about allowing groups to help because they are unsure of their intentions.

The three-year old is still maintaining a good outlook on the situation. If you ask her about going home, she will look at you and say with a smile, “I don’t have a home. Tornado came and ‘blewed’ it away!”

When I asked this lady if I could share her story, she said that I could, but she began to tear up a little!I asked her what she was feeling and she said this:

“I just want a home for my family! A nice place for them to live!”

This family has been working with FEMA to make that happen. The Salvation Army was able to offer her financial assistance to help her family with their emergency needs. She was extremely grateful and thanked me over and over.

Although she declined to have her picture, I wish I could show you the look of resilience in her face. After meeting her, I am beginning to understand what #OklahomaStrong really means!

We had prayer together before she left for which she was very grateful for! She said that was one of the first times that someone offered to pray with her during this experience. She said that prayer was the best thing! I agree!

#PrayForOklahoma

Soli Deo Gloria!