Saturday, April 4, 2020

This Autism Mama is Finally Speaking Out About Autism Awareness

This autism mama is finally speaking up for Autism in the midst of what seems to be the worst live Jumanji game of all time (tornados, pandemic, dam broke, earthquakes) I have hesitated because I have very strong opinions about Autism Awareness and sometimes my opinions are not in line with the cool kids. 

Today I slowed down enough to really observe how this crazy time actually effects people with Autism and how reducing Autism to awareness and a blue washing of the world is not helpful. At all. 

First, let's talk blue. Blue is the color the organization called Autism Speaks co-opted for Autism. Autism Speaks is not an advocacy group for Autism. Most autistic people or people with autism (some autistic people are not fans of person first language) feel that Autism Speaks is a hate group. The money they raise is to eradicate and has a poor track record of showing respect for autistic people. Check out their commercial called "I am Autism." It shows an eerie focus on  neuro-diversity as well as using fear to scare parents into treatments and tactics to "cure" autism in children, all the while using none of their funds to find a cure but to show autism as a devastating disability. The founders of AS compares the "3 million children" in the United States with autism - one of which is MY SON - to a crisis on the level of 3 million children suddenly going missing or 3 million children waking up all on the same day, gravely ill.

When you support BLUE - you aren't supporting autism - you are supporting Autism Speaks.

Awareness is not enough. I actually have a shirt that says Autism Acceptance not Awareness. Awareness is not even sort of enough. That is like saying you notice that people with autism exist. If in this day and age if you haven't noticed autism exists we need to make a shirt and an advocacy group for obtuse people. The logo would be:

Acceptance for autistic people is critical. It is who they are! They are not abnormal or weird. They are neuro-diverse. The rest of us are supposedly neuro-typical. I guess we are but as a former teacher and now a teacher of The Good News of Jesus Christ, I am here to tell you, everyone learns and functions differently. It is just that the majority of us can be lumped into a group that can function as a herd... typical.

Autism also know as ASD is a spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders. It is a spectrum that includes what USED to be be compartmentalized as either, Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified/PDD-NOS (our former diagnosis.)   Understanding that Autism is really a diagnosis arrived at by finding some of a group of dis-ordered functions of a person's cognition and development gave the need to erase the other labels. Why? Because if you know one person with autism - you know one person with autism. But honestly, how many people do you know that are EXACTLY alike?

Autism effects land differently on different people, but for a majority of people with autism, all the change we are currently facing can be very trying. For some people with autism this time of distancing and extreme change in routine can mean a huge stressor. Please don't assume that ALL people with autism are loners and love the isolation. Yes people with autism isolate but schedules are critical. Change is anxiety producing and depending on the level of understanding, either due to age or cognitive ability, you may not be able to explain enough why we aren't still going to school or can' have their specific chicken nuggets anymore for a while. My son is currently obsessed with people not following the distance rules. It may be different for everyone. Just as it is for us neurotypical people. Hmmm

So what can you do?

Colors - Maybe choose rainbow colors since it signifies that we are all different

Instead of Lightbulbs - think puzzle pieces so we can all fit together

Instead of Autism Speaks - look for organizations that advocate for families for education and therapies. Check out this link click here 

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Season of Weighing In

One time in my mid twenties I decided I wanted...I needed bangs. I was good with hair. I could do a lot with hair average people could not do. I spent a lot of time learning how to fix my own hair. Why in the world should I pay $15.00 to have someone cut a few strands of hair. I mean really. I had watched my stylist do it many times. I had this! So I cut my bangs. (Use the word “butchered”) I had to wait a couple of weeks to get in to have them fixed so they could grow enough to shape and be repaired. I tried to pretend it didn’t happen. She knew. What she said to me was this, “I won’t ever step into your pulpit and try to preach if you promise me you will never try to cut your own hair again. A deal was struck. 

I learned a valuable lesson. There is common knowledge, opinions, somewhat experienced or educated opinions and actual learned education. I have a Masters of Divinity which is a professional degree much like a law degree or a medical degree but I can’t serve as an attorney for someone in a court of law and I don’t think anyone would want me to do surgery on them and I am certain that my hairdresser would NOT want me to cut my own hair. But I can help someone understand theology and depth of knowledge of The Trinity. 

It’s ok and natural to form opinions about issues. It is even ok to read up and form somewhat educated opinions about issues but that doesn’t make you an expert in that field. 

Let’s use this season of heightened health anxieties to learn three things:

  1. Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them and sometimes they stink. 
  2. Opinions, even educated ones are not always fact and most usually are not completely accurate. 
  3. You DON’T have to share your opinions. At least not in public. They cause so fusion where clarity by experts is needed. 

If you have that much to weigh in on that is not grounded in formal education consider starting a blog 😉 so that those that want to hear what you have to say can find all your brilliant thoughts. A blog also serves as a way to remove your opinions from a platform that needs facts to be clear and educated. 

See you in blogger. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

I am missing Jesus!!!

In reading  Luke 2:41-49  in my devotional time I was left with an interesting parallel and some questions that come to mind. The passage is the one when Jesus as a young boy travels with his parents to the Temple for Passover worship and on the return home Mom and Dad (Mary and Joseph) realize they are missing their little boy. They were missing Jesus! 

How many of you, in this time of a virus that has separated us, from church, work and even each other feel like we are missing Jesus? Sometimes I feel closer to Jesus than ever. Some of the noise has been blocked out and I have more time on my hands to reset my priorities toward reading and even just sitting with Jesus. Yet, not being with people, YOU, I feel I am missing the part of my relationship with Jesus that comes from being with the people of this church, the people in the community and others I have come to love and serve (and serve me.)

Mary, I know, was frantic, looking and looking for her son. When they found Jesus he was back at the Temple, impressing all the learned rabbi’s with his depth of knowledge of God. And here is where my pondering began. I remembered the passage containing Jesus’ remark.“Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” In the translation I was reading the verse said, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” There was a big enough difference between the two, I felt compelled to go back to the original Greek text to see what Luke really wrote. 

What Luke said was intriguing. Luke wrote, Had you not known  that in the things of the Father it is necessary for me to be?” Excusing the sentence structure, I read this to be that Jesus is supposed to be in all things, “God.” 

What a beautiful and comforting thought for these days and the days that lie ahead. It may still be a while before we can assemble, together, in the same building. Ministry looks very different. Pastoral care is almost weird and disconnected feeling. There are days when I am left thinking, “Where is Jesus? I am wondering if he is hiding, has run off or if I am not looking hard enough for him. I have become just like Mary.

But here is the beauty, when I find him, he was never hiding. He is always where he was suppose to be, in the things of God. Jesus is with those that are afraid. Jesus is with those that need to hear his words and his life. He is with those that are suffering. And yes, Jesus is with those that have yet to understand why we are being asked to do the things we are doing. 

Like Mary, I never needed to be worried. Jesus is always right where he belongs and I can always find him there and you can too. Go to God. Go in prayer. Go in tears. Go in fear. God will melt away the troubles, brighten the hope and reveal Jesus to us to sustain us.

As we wander the next few days, stay “in tune” with us. That is how is will have to be for a bit.

We are still a body, together, apart

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Label Maker

Phew! It has been a whirlwind of crazy social media, news media and even listening to people in crowds. Let’s be honest, listening to crowds of people conversing is it’s own form of media.  Between the political race, highly publicized religion growth and church growing pains and even the weather’s devastation of late, opinions are flying high.
Once upon a time conversation was a bit more flowery...detailed, filled with rich descriptors, lush adjectives and expansive explainations. Much like this: She seemed mush older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen."Or this:
“She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on--the other was on the table near her hand-- her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not put on...”

Today those sentences would take on an abreviated style. Dickens’ beautifully written descriptors would be condensed to, “That girl is boojy.” And the second sentence could be transformed in the 21st century as, “Whoa, she is a train wreck.”
We have devolved in to an abbreviated speech replacing our expressive language with short-hand labels. There is even a dictionary that aids us in navigating such labels. Urban Dictionary (NSFW)  In addition to UD, Webster’s dictionary adds many of these labels and their definitions to its list every year, almost as to certify their existence and usage.
Why dedicate a whole blog to an English writing style treatise? The issue in a nutshell is that labels DON’T TELL THE STORY. Those long descriptive sentences came from writers that wanted you to get the whole picture of who you were reading about. There weren’t usually photos or film with these stories. Today we have photos and film. So our language has devolved (to degenerate through a gradual change or evolution.) to looking at someone or situation and give that person or circumstance a label without knowing the story. 
Currently I have the luxury of meeting and working with a group of women that have amazingly sad and transformative stories. They are in the process of rewriting their stories by taking control of their lives and direction. It is impressive to behold. I really hope you have the opportunity to listen stories like theirs soon. 
My heart is broken when I hear people diminish their story by reducing the story, or worse, the woman to just a label. I would list them here. But truthfully, I don’t want most of them perpetuated. 
I watch people reduce a presidential candidate to labels like, “crazy”, “megalomaniac”, “pedophile”, and even the “b” word often used for women. All used without knowing, or worse yet, caring to know the story.

What if labels are positive? I still feel like we are diminishing the story. A person’s story is important. We can’t know the “thousand words” a picture tells us if we don’t take to know the context or story of the photo. 
Labels are unfair, damaging and hurtful. When I use them I look back and realize they make me sound judgemental and harsh. It also shows a lack of ability to use the English language in all its glory and beauty. Taking the time to know the story and retell it with accuracy of adjectives not only brings authenticity to our speech but also paints the subject with accuracy. Using real words instead of short handed labels we show our intellengance rather than put the lack of it on display for the world to see. 
In the novel, “The Scarlet Letter” set in the Puritan era during the years 1642 to 1649, tells the story of Hester Prynne who conceives a daughter through an affair and then struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. She is labeled, forced to wear a large red letter “A” to display her sin to others. When I read this book in middle school as a judgy adolescent I was appalled for someone to be labeled so excluding labels for the others In her life that helped her write her story. But here we are doing the same thing. But we don’t pin the label to a chest with a simple, single letter leaving everyone to decide if “A” stands for “adulterer” or “amazing.” Now we just pin the whole word right on social media for it to go viral. 
When my daughter Alli was little we would order her a roast beef without the cheese at a restaurant that would label the wrapper with a bright orange “special” sticker to keep it from being grabbed for another order. A child that never lacked in self-esteem, would carefully peel the sticker off and place it proudly on her chest, convinced the sticker was meant to describe her. Why can’t we allow for that; self-labeling by allowing someone to write their own story. We would have to take the time to “read” their story but aren’t humans worth being truly known. And isn’t it better to use the brain God gave you by flexing those speech muscles? 

"She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom." The Scarlet Letter

Saturday, January 11, 2020


The weight of a burden I have found myself carrying on my heart has become so heavy lately that it at times the burden has become a distraction to my functioning. I have started and then deleted several blog posts for fear adding to the already existing rancor in the world of social media, church; everywhere. I didn’t want to give space to others to find an excuse to once again belittle, be ugly, demean, or condescend to someone in the name of political strategy or platform, theology or doctrine or even gender, cultural or racial bias. 

Then I read this headline: “Christians are supposed to care about people.” And I thought, YES!!! (Link Below)

If you sit down and read NOTHING else today, please read this. I am not asking you to change your mind although in my OPINION some of you need to, I am merry suggesting that you change the tenor, the framework, the vitriol of your speech, social media posts, and interactions. 

The best change in the world could be that we still have differing options and beliefs but that we choose to express those beliefs in a positive manner. And yes, as my daughter often says to her toddler son, “I understand you better when your words are kind and not yelling at me.” Try it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Tree(house) of Life

Last night shortly after falling asleep my son sent the following text:

I was shocked and did as he said. I went to Facebook. There were videos and articles all over the social media platform. By morning it had reached state and national news. The even was described as “the fire heard round the world.”

All day my mind was flooded with memories of our trips to the treehouse. The first time being shortly after Horace began building it. It was barely a forth of the final size. Even then it was an amazing site to behold. The mash up of lumber and trees was nothing like any treehouse I had ever seen, in fact it was larger than my home.

Over the years, the tree house was where we went for a fun day, to take out of town and even out of country family. No matter people had come from or what sights they had seen, everyone was always in awe. We were always in awe because each trip showed us a new feature, addition or an intricacy we had missed on previous visits.

The treehouse was where I went to hear God’s voice as I discerned my call to ministry. And I later was blessed to preach at the handmade pulpit and take a church youth group there as the pastor.

Years later I was blessed to gain special permission to “borrow” the pond next to the treehouse to baptize some great people and one special baptism I will never forget.

I am sad the treehouse is gone. I have heard from many who are equally sad. I am sure there will be an investigation and maybe even an arrest. There will be clean up to do from the debris and currently there is a burned out hole where once stood a managary of constructed majesty. In my faith tradition, the remnants of the sacrament of holy communion is returned to the earth from where it came. It seems only appropriate that the remnants of the sacrament of baptism, in the pond, in the treehouse sanctuary, in the hearts of those that encountered Our Great Creator are also returned to the earth in ash.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn

"By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For your were made from dust and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19
God did not pull any punches with Adam and Eve after choosing to feel they knew more than God and it would be okay to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. And thanks to what we call the "Fall" we have been repenting ever since. 
Wouldn't it be nice if it were all those two crazy kids' fault. But lets be honest, I know I need to repent of something DAILY! Based on our impulsive and logical thinking the average amount of a remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals to about 35,000. I am sure I need to repent of at least a quarter of those decisions.
Repentance isn't saying, "I am sorry." Although I am certain God would appreciate a gracious, heartfelt apology occasionally, the word repent doesn't just mean that you feel bad for what you have done, or for that matter, have thought about doing. In scripture in both the original Greek and Hebrew the words used to describe repentance as a radical change away from a mind of sin.
This turning motion makes me think of the television shows where someone has a surprise awaiting them and they are turned away and then when the time has come to reveal the surprise they turn completely around. So as I picture myself turning away from something i also picture myself turning to something.
Can you turn from something without turning to something. Can you remove something, a habit, a choice, without replacing it with something new in its place? Will that space remain open without a placeholder?
Could that be the answer as to why humanity has failed at repentance for our entire existence? Could it be that when we recognize the need to turn away, a radical change from what we are doing to a something entirely new. Like the make over shows, we whirl around with a new look, everyone will be stopped, dead, in their tracks by who they see standing before them. What if the effects have dramatic impact that resonates throughout the world because that difference has divine DNA?
Genesis 2:7 "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
That is what we have inside of us, Divine DNA, the actual Breathe of God. The world has sin within its brokenness. But us, we have God's divinity living inside of us and as we turn away from the world and turn towards God the world falls away and the reveal of us is surprising. We are no linger dust, we are life. We are breathe. 
The Lenten season is a time where we realize the mortality of our earthly life; From dust you came and dust you will return. But once the dust clears away we are a soul filled with the breath of God; a soul that will surprise the world with a new life, a new way of life, a new way.

This Autism Mama is Finally Speaking Out About Autism Awareness

This autism mama is finally speaking up for Autism in the midst of what seems to be the worst live Jumanji game of all time (tornados, pande...