Living with Unresolve

“Life would be so much better if I could just remove this one thing.” Do you find yourself saying that? It’s that present problem that you never planned for, but it came. And it’s usually something that you don’t have much control over no matter how hard you try. Like a chronic health issue, an ailing parent, a wayward child, a disengaged spouse, long-term unemployment.

If you truly have a “one thing,” you don’t have to um and ah to conjure it up; it’s an instant response. Because it’s the thing you wake up thinking about and go to bed praying about. No matter how much you pray or change yourself, that “one thing” can still persist—maybe even for years, maybe for life. With that “one thing” persisting, how can you even experience that “life to the full” that Jesus came to give? Do you wonder sometimes if that simply wasn’t meant to be for you?

I’ve faced some tough stuff in my life and even some close calls, but most big things were resolved. Even when my father died suddenly at 55, that was hard, but it was final; resolved. When my son Josiah was diagnosed with autism at age 2—a neurological disorder that doctors say has “no known cause, no known cure, and is lifelong”—I encountered my first big wall in life that I couldn’t get over, naturally heal from, or work my way out of. It’s open-ended, unresolved. Uncomfortable.

I had no grid even in my spiritual life for a problem that didn’t have a foreseeable expiration date. And worse, it affected my only child before my eyes…and not one area of our family lives has been left untouched by it. Still, God says, “I have good plans for you and for your child”… “I work all things together for good”… “I do good work in you.”

Faith progress is believing that He just is Good News that eclipses the power of that which is unresolved right now. He is the Solution to every unanswered question in our lives.

So, how can we live with resolve while that “one thing” is still unresolved (according to Colossians 1)?:

1. Tap into God’s supernatural strength. God offers us a strength accessible by faith that is not our own. It is more than mere day-to-day survival; it is filled with enduring hope and expectation despite the present circumstances. It empowers us to persevere in prayer and speaks to us, “Never give up. Keep walking. Keep trusting.”

2. Cultivate joy and thankfulness. We have to practice these responses by reveling in what we have been given through Christ and engaging his promises instead of succumbing to despair and complaining. The best practice is giving away to others the very thing that you need yourself—like encouragement, prayer, or time.

3. Relentlessly pursue your destiny. God has bright and beautiful things planned for us, and equips us to do each one. The devil would love nothing more than to trap us in the “Land of Why” so that we become embittered to pursuing our God-given purpose. Instead, I dare you to move, to risk, to dream with God again! He is always forward moving—God of the Breakthrough, Restorer.

We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. Col. 1:11-12 (The Message)

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Hope is Not a Strategy

“Hope is not a strategy.” A simple statement, but one that I’ve been chewing on the last couple of days. The context that I heard it in was at a seminar for churches on how try to prevent terrorism at your church before it happens. Ya know, the security specialist who has worked in the Israel airport and at the Mall of America in counter-terrorism says, “A lot of churches just ‘hope’ something bad will never happen to them. Well, hope is not a strategy… so you need to have a plan.”

“Hope is not a strategy.” That is so true. In life. In the Christ-following life. In autism life. Now, I LOVE hope, don’t get me wrong. I mean, look at what I named my blog. Hope is so foundational that if it doesn’t exist in the first place, there’s very little you can build upon at all. But, hope is a lot like a little blue pilot light. It must be present before the gas can be ignited that will actually throw out some serious heat.  Like a pilot light would never be able to cook your dinner by itself, hope does very little real work without the help of a partner.

Hope Always Pairs Up with Something

Hope itself very rarely just “works things out” like we hope it would. But, when coupled with action and faith, it is a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, when hope is coupled with denial and fantasy, hope is horribly destructive and it eventually blows out altogether–a very dangerous place to be. Here are some statements I’ve either said or heard to let you know what I mean:

“I hope our marriage gets better.”
“I hope God will pull through and heal my child.”
“I hope autism gets cured one day.”
“I hope I don’t stay depressed.”
“I hope God hears my prayers this time.”
“I hope my child will just get better so I don’t have to get more therapy for him.”
“I hope that rash/lump/swelling/ache/pain will just go away.”

You know what? Sometimes these things really do work themselves out. But a lot of times they don’t. In all of those statements, the most important thing missing is YOU or me. If we don’t take the personal responsibility to partner hope with something of substance–either action or active faith–we’re going nowhere, sister. Because hope is not a strategy.

Expectant Hope

Granted, sometimes hope needs to be paired with patience, but even true godly patience is active with expectancy because something has already been planted. “Yes, let none who trust and wait hopefully and look for You be put to shame or be disappointed” (Ps. 25:3). The very posture of God-like patience, trust and hope is still active. It leans forward and scans the atmosphere always looking for signs of growth and breakthrough. But notice the proper target of our hope when it comes to spiritual things. It is not in the need being fulfilled, but hope is placed IN God, the person–our Daddy. “And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You” (Ps. 39:7). It’s trusting that His character is that He loves us like crazy and He inherently is good all the time.

Now, when my husband tells me that he’s going to do the dishes, and I say, “Well, I sure hope so.” I really don’t have a ton of confidence that it’s actually going to get done. We need to check ourselves regularly that we’re not pulling the “Well-I-Sure-Hope-Sos” with God. Real, godly hope is not mere optimism. It is expectation that something could happen or change for the better. You’ve got to have it. And you know when you don’t. Like Prov. 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Are We Really Heartsick?

I know I’ve been heartsick before, and it’s a bad pit to be in. Often my heart has gotten sick when I have put hope into an actual strategy that ended up not panning out like I hoped it would. We autism parents have got to keep moving, though, don’t we? Who has tried something like the GFCF diet, B-12 shots, a myriad of supplements, Respen-A, chelation, HBOT, NAET, speech therapy, OT, PT, ABA, on and and on and on, and not gotten the results you had hoped for?

I’ve done all these and more, and some have helped more than others. And I will continue to try new things because if you don’t try, you don’t know what you’re missing that really could help. When I try new things that could help my son, hope is activated. I have a strategy, a plan. I’m stepping out and taking a risk, and I’m optimistic that something could help and I’m working it. BUT, when it doesn’t help, I can get more pessimistic and sick about all the work and effort and money that didn’t produce much. I can also take it personally, like I failed somehow. It’s exhausting.

Now, hope paired with fantasy is not cool either. Marital issues, for instance, rarely just “poof” go away without some serious work on both people’s parts. You add a stressor like chronic sickness to the mix, and things come out in you and your spouse that you didn’t even know were there. “I hope it gets better” will go nowhere. But, with an action plan, perhaps some counseling, and practice, you can have a lot more hope that things will change. Are we willing to do the work? Are we willing to stop making excuses and work on ourselves?

When Hope Links Arms with Faith…

What I’m learning more than anything is that I can hope in my God, in His Word, and in His plan more than anything in this fallen world. He is not a man that He should lie. But, we’ve got to “up” our game when it comes to hoping in God. Our own hope arises from desire and expectation, but when paired with faith in our God, we come in agreement with what Jesus has already provided. There is a confident assurance that we place squarely in the the most capable Hands that we can have what’s already ours–even healing for our kids. Hope–that little flame–when ignited by faith IS a strategy. It can release unbelievable, supernatural things. Faith is stronger than hope, but faith without hope doesn’t make any sense at all. Hope, meet Faith, and dance!

 NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Heb. 11:1 (AMP)

This Pilgrim’s Progress

Sometimes you just have to pause and reflect on how far you’ve come. In the thick of a chronic condition like autism where you are working with today’s reality while stretching toward tomorrow’s possibility, you need to make sure you’re increasing in strength. While setbacks, emotional days and disappointments surely will come, the question becomes, “Yes, but at the end of the day, am I still moving forward?”

It’s an awkward place, living in the “inbetween.” I am neither at the start like we were when we first got Josiah’s diagnosis over 3 years ago, nor am I near the desired destination (I don’t have a clue what mile marker we’re even at right now, quite honestly). Life is being lived in the “inbetween.” It’s one of the most rugged places in life. But it’s the richest spiritual journey I have ever been on.

The word “journey” doesn’t really seem to suffice, though. But “pilgrimage” does. I’ve gained great comfort and fuel from Psalm 84 that describes a pilgrimage.

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
      who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. (Ps. 84:5)

To put that into context, one author says, “A pilgrimage is holy journey with a purpose in every step. The pilgrim knows that life-giving challenges will emerge. New and old places in the heart are visited. Blessings are received and healing takes place. After the pilgrimage life is seen with different eyes and it will never be the same again.” That’s exactly what I’ve been experiencing.

In one translation, instead of saying that their minds are on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, it says, “their hearts are on the road that leads to You.”

When they pass through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. (Ps. 84:6)

So, I found myself in a valley of autism. And I was weeping. It was scary. It was lonely. It felt dark and rocky, ominous and depressing. And worst of all, at a time when I really needed to feel God the most, it honestly felt like I couldn’t find him at times.

But one thing I could have easily missed is the phrasing when they PASS THROUGH the Valley of Weeping. Pass through means that you don’t set up your tent there forever. You don’t let that be the place where you live. When you’re in the Valley of Weeping, it can feel like you’re never going to get out, but you will if you keep your mind set on God, your destination, your destiny. If there is one tactic that the Devil uses it is to get us to give up and accept our circumstances, to be paralyzed by fear, to stop praying, to be stuck in depression and hopelessness–and to live there. But God’s Word says to never give up and to persevere until God makes a way.

And in that valley, while you’re there, I’ve learned that you can MAKE IT a place of refreshing springs. That means rather than reacting and being kept spinning by our circumstances, we can choose to react differently. In our situation, when everyone around me was trying to show me ways to cope, I had to choose to hope. When depression wants to overtake me, I have to choose to receive His joy. When society shouts at me to “accept the circumstances,” something rises up inside of me and I chose to keep my eyes set on God’s promises.

When I feel unprotected by God I have to choose to trust him completely. Where there is death, I have to choose to speak life. Where there is fear, I have to learn to agree with faith. When I am tempted to worry, I have to choose to believe that God does not lie when he said he will work “all things together for good for those who love him.” That is making this valley a place of springs.

The Scripture says “the autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.” I think it’s important to note that in the land of Israel, the summers are hot and dry—no rain at all. Then, around October, it starts to rain. The autumn rains are what soften the ground that had baked hard during the drought of summer. And after those autumn rains, they could then plow and sow their winter grains. God is all about growth and restoration. I’ve come to know that he never wants to leave us in a broken, dry, and victimized state. He always is about turning things around and bringing life where there was lifelessness. He’ll even put the seeds in your hand!

 They will continue to go from strength to strength, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:7,11)

Or as one translation says, they will go from strength to strength, increasing in victorious power. Have you ever experienced this? People saying, “I didn’t think I could do it, but I was stronger than I ever thought I could be.” With each experience in life where your fortitude is tested and you past that test, with the next big challenge you face, you will go into it stronger, more confident, more powerful when you have pressed into God for developing that strength.

    O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]! (Ps. 84:12)

Jesus came to give us life to the full. I just say to Jesus, hey, fill’er up! I want all you came to give. Including healing for my son. I am standing in belief before a God who does the impossible and showed over and over again that it is his will and very nature to heal people—soul, spirit, emotions AND body.

This is the pilgrimage I am on. Not for comfortable Christianity, but refined in the fire, taking risks, committing all, and confidently looking to Christ, the author and finisher of my faith. The One that guides me through the “inbetweens,” because though I cannot always see what the destination, or even the next step in front of me looks like, he can, and he is with me. This I now know for sure! Do you know it too?

What a Ride!

What a ride I’ve been on these past three years! A crazy, topsy-turvy, loopy, up and down and all around, frightful, thrilling, out of control–but buckled in–ride. Almost two months ago to the day, my sista-friend and I decided to go to Valleyfair amusement park to celebrate the spiritual adventure we’ve been on in the past year. As we entered the amusement park–two 30-something moms brought together by autism, but bound together by God’s healing and grace–we decided to approach everything we did that day through a spiritual lens. It was a day that I will never forget.

It was supposed to rain that day, even talks of severe thunderstorms or a tornado watch. But, we decided to brave it anyway. Ominous clouds would come, and then they would go–a lot like life. My friend didn’t want to ease into the rides. We stepped through the gates and she said, “Let’s go on the Wild Thing, and we’ve gotta sit in the very first car–that’s the best way to experience it.” As we waited for the ride to start, I felt like a school girl, all nervous and giddy and a little scared. That thought creeps into your mind, “The only thing between me and death is this little strap and this bar across my lap… and if we get stopped on this ride at the top because of mechanical failure, I will die of a heart attack.” Alright, here we go. I couldn’t put my hands up the first time we rode the Wild Thing. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. But I did on the fifth!

I put my arms up! On the Wild Thing with friend Michele at Valley Fair. Happy to say, there's 28 lbs. less of me now.

We literally did every single thrill ride in that park, including the Power Tower, and the newest “Steel Venom” ride. That one had me so scared-thrilled that I opened my mouth but I couldn’t even get a scream to come out! There is something so vulnerable about your feet dangling as you’re hanging 185 feet in the air.

On every big ride that we went on, I realized that the scariest part was that “moment”–anywhere from 3-10 seconds where you have climbed to the highest point and then been left suspended think about why you ever decided to get on this ride in the first place… and THEN they shoot you, drop you, jolt you through the rest of the ride. The “pause” is where the real fear can come in.

Remember how I decided to look at everything with a spiritual lens on this trip? I got to thinking about how often we become decisive that we are going to go on a spiritual adventure, we get buckled in, we’re excited for the unknown, we’re making the climb, and then we have a “moment” where fear grips us. On a roller coaster, you can’t get off, but you can get off the spiritual adventure because of fear. Rather than power through when we suddenly see the challenge we may have ahead, we want to go back, escape, retreat to a comfortable place (even though comfortable doesn’t mean safe anyway).

It reminds me a lot of Peter, who had extraordinary faith to step out of that boat and onto the water. He must’ve had a moment where he thought, “This is amazing! I’m doing it!” When his eyes were on Jesus, he was part of a miracle. When he looked around and saw the wind and the waves, he freaked out. He began to sink. How many times does that happen to us? We’re actually doing it when our eyes are on the Father and his promises, and then we get distracted by the sight of something scary, and we start to fail. It’s all fear’s fault. Fear is just faith in the wrong guy. That’s why “do not fear” is found 365 times in the Bible–one for each day!

Surprisingly, my most fearful moment at Valleyfair actually had to do with water. I really worked every angle to get out of this, but my friend wanted to go over to the water park. I kid you not that the scariest part of the day for me was being in my swimsuit with no towel, going up stairs and waiting in lines in front of all those people. I felt so exposed. I remember thinking that I NEVER would allow myself to feel this way again because of this weight that I had put on. Autism weight. Of all the things I had surrendered to God, I didn’t know how I could let go of the comfort of food. But that moment brought me to a final place of “ENOUGH”! I decided then and there that I will not allow myself to be a victim anymore, and I AM NOT POWERLESS!

In two months, I have lost just shy of 30 pounds on the HCG diet, and food no longer has a hold on me. It is amazing what has happened in my life since I surrendered that idol over to God. I will lose a total of 75 pounds by next September. That’s my goal, and I know I can do it now.

Josiah also had his 5th birthday, and I was okay. In one year, I have come very far on this ride. Looking back at the post on his 4th birthday reminded me of that. Truly, to God be the glory. To sista-friends, I am grateful. For giving God all of my “Plan Bs,” I am looking to be challenged, joy-filled, and thrilled–coming to a greater knowing that I can depend on his strong arm no matter what crazy twists come my way.

He Wants to ‘Do It Again’

This week I made a new Facebook friend with a testimony to make my heart soar. Her son, Curry (15) was completely healed from autism. God miraculously healed him. Do you know what the word “testimony” means in Hebrew? It means “do it again.” When God does something for one person, it reveals his heart on the matter, and he wants to do it again. Revelations 19:10 says, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” When we speak of what he has done, it is able to affect change again for the present and the future. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that for my son!

This 10-minute clip by Pastor Bill Johnson explains the power of the testimony:

Here are some excerpts from Curry’s healing testimony, as told by his mom, Aneta Harris:

On Saturday, March 6 we were getting ready to leave for Night of Fellowship a home church in Peachtree City. This was just our second time going, and were going because Bill and I had been wanting to supplement what we were already getting in church on Sunday mornings. Well, little did I know what God had in store for what was to come! Curry came to me as I was changing clothes to go and told me that he wanted to be healed and asked “Now, what do I have again?”; I told him aspbergers, autism pretty much the whole nine yards! So, he wrote those labels down on a piece of paper to show to whomever to request prayer for healing. When Bill found out what Curry was doing, he immediatly started to cry.

We left the house with Curry on a mission and the labels in his pocket. Worship started and afterwards Bill Huse starts telling everyone about a friend that he had the oppurtunity to pray for his autistic kid and he gives an update on a lady who was healed of depression then he continues on with another story of a kid being healed of autism. Meanwhile, Curry is in the back of the room weeping uncontrollably. John Waller speaks up and says “I think we all need to pray for Curry.” Bill Huse says that before we do that, let’s talk about what the bible says about this.

Please, understand that all this for me was kind of surreal for lack of a better word. Unless you have a child that is autistic, you cannot imagine what I have experienced up untill this point in my life. And the thought that God was about to do something BIG put me into a dream like state; there again for lack of a better word and description. Bill, Curry and I end up in the middle of the room with about maybe 30 people pouring out their hearts and pleading to God on behalf of my son. This lasted for about an hour and a half. When it was over, I felt like a ragdoll. Curry says now that when he stood up that he immediatly felt different. Right after this he carried on a conversation with a really sweet lady, Heather Laba, for a good 15 minutes. Bill, Curry’s dad, was watching and knew by this that Curry was healed that the autism was over. Mrs. Laba told Curry that she has teenagers and that he seemed perfectly normal to her. She didn’t know Curry before this night. And he said to her, “Well, Mam, that’s because God just healed me.”

Curry slept till 1:00 the next day and when he woke he walked into the living room and said “Mom, I’ve been healed!” You have to realize that there was probably a little bit of a shock factor going on with me at this time. But, the first thing we noticed was that Curry’s feet were straight, as opposed to toes pointing out. This was something that we had really been working hard on through Brain Balance program. And we noticed right off the bat that Curry just held himself differently; less rigid and more relaxed. But still even after seeing this we tested God and Curry for about 2 days; making Curry try to do all the things he struggled so much with before. He could do them all.

Basically, God took all the things away from Curry that worried me almost to the point of not being able to deal anymore. Rocking, pacing, strange gait, sleepless nights, flapping of hands and no friends. One thing that people need to realize about Curry is that Jesus has ALWAYS been his obsession. His only desire is to worship his Creator and Savior. He is such an inspiration to those that really know him and to me! I pray that this testimony will change the lives of my friends and their friends and their friends…. Curry decided that it was the end and he named it and claimed it and God honored it!

And in subsequent Facebook updates, she says, “Just had a parent conference at Brain Balance (an awesome program Curry has been in for the past year that helps autistic spectrum kids) to get testing results. Curry is no longer on the autistic spectrum; received his graduation certificate. Just more confirmation that God has healed Curry of autistic spectrum disorder”… “Curry started working with a tutor this week; he is flying through his work. He is processing like CRAZY!!!! He will be working through the summer so he can be ready for entering his appropriate grade/age level in the fall”… ” I was told that Curry’s hand grip (fine motor skill) went from that of a 6 year old to age level which is 15 years old!!!!!”… “Curry is no longer in glutten/dairy free diet bondage!! Curry eats whatever his big heart desires now. He says he feels like he’s eating at a king’s table when he eats Chick-fil-a FRIED chicken strips!”

I love testimonies! But, remember, they all seem to have  a common theme. You have to go after healing. Someone has to pray. Someone has to believe what God says. Someone has to contend. God’s standard is that he is Healer, and he “does not show favoritism for one person over another” (Rom. 2:11). If you say you’re believing for healing to another Christ-follower, they almost look at you sympathetically with a “well, if it be God’s will” sort of head nod. I think it’s because we’ve all lost people that we prayed for God to heal. Or that it doesn’t make sense to us why some get healed and some don’t, so we’re too afraid to get anyone’s hopes up. We’re afraid to get our own hopes up. Well, I pray that if you or your child needs healing, you will be spurred to take a risk of faith, because God wants to “do it again.”

Healings are breaking out all over the world. Check it out: http://healingherald.org/

At the Intersection of Autism Awareness Day and Good Friday

April 2, 2010. This is an interesting day. World Autism Awareness Day AND Good Friday. Perhaps it is an odd collision, but it’s caused me to pause to reflect on this intriguing eclipse. As they end up aligning together, it really so well captures the contrast I am faced with every day.

Whose voice in my life is louder? When two very weighty realities exist together for my family, which one am I most aware of? Autism, or the life and promises that Christ died to give (or gift) us?

Autism—like any sickness, problem, crisis or circumstance—is so boisterous. It regularly makes itself known and grabs hold of every single one of my senses. It get’s “all up in my business, in my grill,” so to speak. On the other hand, when it comes to things of the spirit, I have to choose to consciously make myself aware. I have to decide to enter in to His presence and realize He is with me always. I really wish He was louder. I could totally miss Him if I wasn’t listening for, looking for, seeking, chasing, loving Him.

I have learned something about myself. While I am an information junkie, a hard worker, and a person with a heart for justice, immersing myself in the quagmire of autism has the propensity to suffocate me. I can get really caught up in the drama quickly if I allow myself to. I have analyzed it from all angles—and there are a lot of angles. I know what I believe about autism—the evidence to support my chosen theories, and the reality of my experience. I have felt the weight of our story and the many, many stories of the others also in our same autism lifeboat adrift at sea. I’m not naïve. I’m not uneducated.

I agree, it can be pretty depressing that more isn’t happening to find the cause or fix the problem. And there are sides that get taken within the autism community itself, and the politics, the insurance woes, the vaccines, the role of the public schools, the environment, the food supply, the mercury fillings in my teeth. And that doesn’t even touch the very personal everyday life inside our homes and in our children’s therapy sessions and in the doctor’s (alternative or otherwise) office. You think our kids have attention problems… in that long list, how can we parents hardly focus on anything, let alone everything?

I was reading an incredible book called Strengthen Yourself in the Lord by Bill Johnson, and I thought this paragraph captured my dilemma so well. “Believers often fall into the trap of thinking they can find a solution by looking at a problem from every angle and letting it consume their world. But what happens is the affections of their hearts get drawn away from the Lord, to the point that they care more about the problem than giving Him what He deserves. They are letting other voices speak louder than His, and this is always irresponsible… This does not mean that we are not to give attention to problems—but we need to address them from God’s perspective.”

So on this Good Friday that happens to land at the same time as Autism Awareness Day, what is God’s perspective on the whole matter of autism, my passions, my son, my convictions, my reality?

Isaiah 53:4-5 (Amplified Bible)

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being FOR US was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was beaten beyond belief. I want to cry. And one of those stripes was for autism. And because of those stripes, our children and those of us who choose to trust God and believe what He said, are healed. But, beyond that, he gave everything for us so we could share in everything that was given to Him. Are we aware of his benefits more than we are aware of the problems?

Remember when VH1 used to show “pop-up videos”? As the video was going on, there would be a little thought bubble POP UP with some extended factoid or comment. What if we took in life that way? As the scene unfolds before us that may be frustrating and confusing, one of His promises POPS UP immediately. You can’t help but look at that. Its presence is speaking louder than what is going on in the background.

Psalm 103
O my soul, bless GOD, don’t forget a single blessing (not one of his benefits)!
He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.
God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet…
As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him.

How freeing is this? It does not mean I take myself out of the equation. No, I will still fight with everything I’ve got for my dear son, and for your kids too. God feels the same way for us! But it’s too big of a burden for any of us to carry ourselves. I think the voice I’m supposed to hear today loudly is what Paul says in Colossians 1:29, “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice. Your great love. I’ve been sozo’d (made whole for spirit, soul and body–“sozo” is the Greek word for “saved,” so the next time you come across it in the Bible, let the whole meaning POP UP in your mind)!

Finally, I want to share this beautiful video on Good Friday. I’ve often heard this song and thought of my son, and now I think of Mary and what she was thinking about her son, Jesus, too.

Trapped, But Pursued

This past month, I keep encountering a certain word. After I reflected on it twice, it continues to show up in different contexts. Now it really has my attention. I’ve been asking myself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” Well, let’s see if by the end of this post I have that figured out.

The word is “trapped.” Trapped. I start to feel a little claustrophobic just staring at the word.

The first time it grabbed my attention was when I was looking at a blog post written by a couple from church that is doing missions work in Haiti. Mind you, I read this a couple weeks before the earthquake hit. They stopped to visit an orphanage–a mission for handicapped children–at Christmastime. Many children with severe mental and physical handicaps are simply abandoned, “left with little hope for someone ever loving or caring for them.” I looked at the pictures, and my heart broke. I thought of my own son. If he had been born in a different geographical location and under different terms, what would become of a little boy like him? 

This statement jumped out at me: “Several were in wheelchairs TRAPPED in a body and mind that didn’t work like ours. Others had bodies that served them, but minds that didn’t.” I cried. Who will love them? Who will go after them? My son has a trapped mind in a body that works and looks perfectly normal.

Shortly after,  I saw this YouTube video of a lovely, well-spoken 17-year-old with autism who was able to articulate what it was like when she was Josiah’s age. She said, “It was akin to being trapped. I couldn’t communicate or express myself in any way. I had to be taught how… they are desperate. They can’t communicate. They feel trapped… If you open the doors to try to get them to communicate you give them hope to get connected to this world, and ultimately to be much more successful.”

And then, the Haiti earthquake hit. I watched a news report about how there were little to no officials or equipment on the scene to try to recover people from the rubble. The reporter said family members and friends were desperate trying to get to their loved ones themselves. They were grabbing at concrete and trying to use hand picks to get through tons of rubble because they could hear the faint cries and screams underneath. An impossible task, really. Yet, how could they stop? They could still hear life.

I know it’s not the same thing, but it made me think about our kids with autism. Everywhere we turn, there seems to be obstacles to breaking through to them. Something completely blindsided us. We’ve been left with a mess and wondering “why?” The “professionals” are really not at the scene digging like they should or seemingly could with the equipment and resources they must have. But, it is parents and some friends–desperate ones–digging. Lifting off one piece of rock at a time with their bare hands, if they must, to reach their children. Because as long as they are “in there,” the drive is relentless to get them out.

Back to Haiti… Someone is not supposed to be able to live more than 72 hours without water. In 72 hours, rescue begins to turn to a recovery mission. Urgency gives way to a pace devoid of the same hope to pull someone out alive. But a little 5-year-old boy was found alive 8 days after the earthquake. A 16-year-old girl was just rescued alive after 15 days of being trapped. I’m thinking at this point that perhaps we should redefine “impossible.”

Two days ago, my husband and I took Josiah to a new place to obtain some speech therapy on top of the full-time therapy he’s already getting at an autism center. He started out just fine until the new therapist started placing too many demands too quickly and he became so upset and stressed. She thought it might be better for Joe and I to leave the room for a little while and see if she could calm him down. We could view the room from a television. We watched our little son go under a table in the corner and ball up into a fetal position, crying. It’s not that the therapist was mean or anything, it was all just too much for him. He was feeling trapped. He LOOKED very autistic at that moment. My heart began to collapse. “How do I rescue him? It’s been 2 1/2 years, and he’s still trapped. Words and understanding are still illusive. How do we break through?” I felt trapped.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about being a “prisoner of hope.” Essentially, being trapped in hope. This is the scripture it was based on: “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zech. 9:12). That verse has been very empowering to me. But I realized something very profound in my own life recently. Hope is so good, but it is inferior to faith, and it’s not the same thing. I needed to lock myself into a prison of hope for a while to escape from being trapped by despair. But, now it’s time to experience faith‘s fight and freedom. Hope says, “It can happen.” Faith says, “It will happen.” Hope is really the springboard to faith, because it says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Faith reaches for the results that hope maintains a yearning for.

Holding on to hope can keep you alive for quite a long time while you’re trapped. But faith is needed to bust you out to a new reality. It just takes a little bit of faith, Jesus said, and you can say, “mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. NOthing will be impossible for you” (Matt. 17:20).

Nothing is impossible. So just know that I’m coming for you, Jo Jo! We’re pulling you out. I know you like tight spaces, but I want to see you in the wide open.