Now you see it, now you don’t.

My 10 year old son has Asperger’s. If you’re not familiar with what that is, take a look here.

Some days, I don’t see it. Sometimes his teachers wonder why he has an IEP. Most days, he looks and acts just like any other 4th grade kid.

And then, when I forget about it and nearly convince myself that maybe he’s “over it”, a tsumani comes crashing to the shore and I didn’t even get a warning siren.

If you want to know what having a child with Asperger’s is like, imagine walking through this meadow.

Can’t you just hear the birds singing and feel the warmth of that beautiful sun?

And then, out of nowhere:

The situation blows up.

Take last night as an example:

We went from school/work to the store, to baseball practice, an then to dinner out for my birthday. It was busy. It was late. Already past the kid’s bedtime. But, we threw caution to the wind so we could do all the things we needed to do that day AND celebrate my birthday at a nice restaurant. As dinner wrapped up…..

Daddy: “The kids sheets are in the washer and so, when we get home, they aren’t going to have anything to sleep on.”

Mommy: “Right, ok. Well, we’ll just have to use the sleeping bags for tonight.”

Son: “No way. Nooooo way. I am not using a sleeping bag. I hate them. You know that.”

Mommy: “I know, buddy, but, I’ll open it up and you can just sleep on the soft part and use another blanket to cover up.”

Son: “No! Then I won’t sleep. I’ll just lay there and no be able to sleep. I don’t want to do that. No.”

Tears filled my son’s eyes. His anxiety about not sleeping has been really high lately. In fact, his spectrum-y behavior lately has been more consistent. It’s not a surprise. End of the school year craziness tends to mean more of that. I know that.

Mommy: “Ok, bud. I understand what you’re saying. Why don’t you walk outside for a little bit to calm down.”

He walked away with slumped shoulders still trying to keep those tears at bay.

A 9:30pm Target run solved all problems. Truth is, he has needed new bedding for a while but, I kept putting it off because I knew that this change would be tough. I found the bedding that was most like the stuff he already had and loved and when I came in with it, he gave me a big hug.

Not just his normal lean into my body with his arms folded against his chest “hug”. A full on arms around my waist hug.

Then, it was my turn to fight back the tears.

“I love you, buddy.”

Freedom Friday

I came across a meme a couple days ago that has really stuck with me:

:beyourself

Quite the dichotomy.

Have you ever felt this statement play out in your life? If not, or if you’re not sure, here’s some examples of how I have have witnessed this in the lives of those around me:

1. When being yourself means sacrificially living for others:

Some years ago, I met a missionary family with a heart for the people of Papa New Guinea.  In fact, this husband and wife team sold their house and most of their possessions, packed up their 4 kids, and moved smack dab in the middle of a tribe that was known for their cannibalistic tendencies. Many people said this to them: “That’s great BUT isn’t that too dangerous for your kids? Don’t you want to raise them in a safer place?”

2. When being yourself means running towards a disaster instead of away from it:

Ebola. Remember that health scare a few months ago? There were 24 cases between the United States and Europe – 5 of these people died. Whew, we Westerners dodged a bullet on that one, right? Well, that’s not what my friends Jessica and Jason Neal think. When they think of the word Ebola they see the influx of orphaned children that have come to Teamwork Africa’s Liberian facilities. Children whose parents were among the 23,200 Ebola cases confirmed in Africa since March. A staggering 9,300 of our African brothers and sisters are dead due to Ebola. Jessica and Jason recently returned from Liberia. They couldn’t wait run towards the disaster and help however they could. They grieved the travel ban that didn’t allow them to run there sooner. And while they grieved, they received Facebook messages from people questioning whether they really should be adopting their son, Emmanuel, from Liberia (pictured above with Mama Jessica) because “what if he infects your OWN children with this horrible disease.”

3. When being yourself means asking the questions: “What breaks my heart?”

This statement is, in essence, true. In this country we do have the “right” to freedom of speech as well as the “right” to freedom of religion. However, this attitude breaks my heart. And, I believe it breaks the heart of Jesus, too. So, I speak out against it….even when it is super unpopular to do so. Here’s the skinny: I see a big difference in deciding how to live based on what my “American right” is vs. living my life based on the way Jesus lived while he walked this earth. Jesus lived his life based on LOVE, not based on His RIGHTS. He gave His right as *ahem* GOD when He came down to this earth and lived among us and for us. His disciple, John shares with us the evidence he saw with His own 2 eyes that Jesus put love first: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16, NLT) Say what? I’m not only supposed to give up my RIGHTS but now I’m supposed to give up my LIFE? For OTHER PEOPLE?

Yes, we are. Yes, you are. Yes, I am.

Music Monday

Yeah, it’s Tuesday. But, in the spirit of not saying “I’ll start blogging again next week”, I’m doing a music Monday on a Tuesday. I’m such a rebel.

My husband and I are leading worship on Sunday at our church and we’re doing a crazy awesome new song that I want to share with all of you. Nope, it’s NOT currently on Christian radio (*GASP!*) but, when you hear this song, I know you’ll understand why we just have to run the risk of teaching this to the congregation cold anyway.

You see, sometimes one must throw caution to the wind. If you know me even a little, you probably get that I am not a cautious person. That can get me in trouble in many ways (and boy, has it) but, I look at my no-holds-barred outlook as a gift from God…and I am learning in my 30’s that patience is also a virtue (who knew? 😉

There is no possible way to hear this song and not feel like NOW is the time to dance for joy!


Or, as Jeremy’s cousin Jess, a crazy awesome missionary serving the people of Ethiopia posted this morning:

Freedom Friday: Love is Worth the Fight

Naive. Idealistic. Young.

These are a few of the names I was called this week….by complete strangers. Like I told them, I’ve been called a lot worse things in my life;-)

How did this name calling come to be? Well, I read a newspaper article one of my friends shared on Facebook about an event that happened at one of my local high schools.

What happened was this: A group of Somali parents and students protested outside of the school during school hours – they were protesting what they feel is ongoing unfair treatment by school officials because of their nationality. They were also protesting the fact that a young Somali girl’s picture was put on Snapchat and it indicated that she was part of ISIS. That was the last straw for the Somali students who explained that they have been the target of racial bullying. You can read the full article here: http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2015/03/18/students-protest-conflict-tech/24967679/

I finished the article and came to the comment section. And then, I nearly lost my breakfast.

An overwhelming majority of the comments boiled down to this sentiment:

MOSQUE VANDALISM BRISBANE

What in the world? Did I just get transported back to the 1950’s?

I couldn’t sit by silently and let these comments go unchecked. So, I responded with this:

“Anyone that comments about how “they should go back to their own country” should really take a good hard look at why you are saying that. Do you even know what you’re suggesting?

Would you want to return to a country where you, your daughter, or your mother could be raped as a weapon of war? Let’s step out of our American dream, please, and admit that none of us can truly get it and most of us have never tried to get it.

What we can do is love our neighbors and try our best to understand them!”

Here are a few of the ways that my St. Cloud neighbors responded to me…

“They made their bed, now they can sleep in it. Oh wait, that’s right, they would rather come here and create the same mess they created in Somalia.”

“Somalia is an absolute craphole, yet many Somalis appear to want to replicate the culture that created that craphole here.
Assimilate or go back and join Al Shabaab. It’s really very simple… I don’t want to live among culture destroyers.”

“We are a nation founded on Christian-Judeo principles. Learn to live it and love it or GTFO.”

“Ours is a nation built on Western principles. The Somalians come from a culture as different from ours as night is to day. They have a completely different set of values associated with their ideology. It is a culture I want no part of. Why is it that wrong? Am I not allowed to choose what I do and do not like? Who I do and do not wish to associate with?”

“Persons in this country have and deserve to be picky as to who their neighbor may be; we have all earned the right, we have earned it in blood.”

Wow. Just wow. So, for a few hours, I engaged in what was actually pretty friendly debate with these folks and, in the end, was glad that I did so.

Did I magically eradicate racism from St. Cloud with my “We Are The World” idealism? No.

Did my youthful passion soften the hearts of any of my fellow debaters? I don’t know.

Did my naive “love trumps all” stance cause any hate speech to be taken back? Nope.

Is it worthwhile to confront racism in calm and composed manner? YES. A thousand times yes.

love conquers all

Freedom Friday

Can you imagine a life without freedom? A life where your main dream in life is to come to America for the chance to have a life where you are not someone’s property or where you don’t awake to the sound of civil war?

Can I really, truly connect with what that must feel like? No. But I can ask this question of the people of St Cloud, MN who have racist things to say about the growing Somalian population: what if it was you? Have you thought about your daughters and wives and mothers being raped as weapons of warfare? Have you thought of living in a refugee camp for years with no home to call your own?

I’ve thought about it. I’ve felt a tightening in my chest about it.

How do I respond? I smile at the Somalian man in the gas station with me. I hold the door open for a Somalian woman and her kiddos coming into the doctor’s office. Simple, yes….but, when the mom looked up at me and smiled with light in her eyes, I knew it wasn’t so simple after all.

Here’s a beautiful way folks are responding to child refugees coming to our country: http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/faithshare/people-are-writing-letters-to-the-migrant-children-and-they-are-beautiful/

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What are you doing? How are you showing your heart to those who need love and acceptance today?

Freedom Friday

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“Since we have been united with (Jesus) in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” – Romans 6:5-7 (NLT) 

This verse + this quote = BOOM. I must not be blind to my sin, thinking that it is “not that big of a deal” because I’m not a murderer or rapist. Sin is sin is sin. There are no levels.

I need to be honest about the areas of darkness in my life. When I confess those areas to God, He’s not surprised at all. So, why do it? Simply because when I confess it to Him, light shines in the darkness, and the darkness no longer threatens to overcome me. Today I speak this truth to myself: I am no longer a slave to sin. Christ died for me…all of me…even the dark parts.

Music Monday

I don’t agree with a lot of things John Piper says. But, you know what? That doesn’t really matter. We agree on Jesus and Jesus trumps all – including, but not limited to, anyone’s hang-ups (including my own).

I can’t get this song by Shane and Shane (“Though You Slay Me”) and Piper’s words out of my soul. A couple worship leader friends of mine introduced my to this video some months back and I swear to you I have never been the same since that day.

“Therefore, do not lose heart. But, take these truths, and, day by day, and focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning – get alone with God and preach His word into Your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.” – John Piper