Sunday, August 15, 2010

So Long, Farewell

Thank you, readers, for your encouragement regarding this blog. I have decided to maintain just one blog--found here--and use it as an opportunity to write about many things, including autism. I'd love for you to follow that blog and hopefully you'll find encouragement and hope there as a parent of a child with autism.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Walking the Autism Road with Someone You Love

Do you have a friend or family member dealing with their child's autism diagnosis? Check out this article I wrote about walking with them through it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Blog to Share

A friend of mine from way back when has developed a writing and speaking ministry about how a church can best include kids with special needs in their children's ministries. She recently started a blog about the subject as well. I had the privilege of writing a post for her. I hope you'll check it out!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dashed Dreams Part 5

To the cynic, it may seem too difficult to accept suffering from a good God or too simplistic of an explanation that good can come from suffering. But what else do we have if we don’t have hope? What else do we have but Jesus?

In the end, we cannot know all the purposes God has for allowing disabilities to exist. We cannot see every way that God will use our children to bring Him glory. We can confidently trust, however, that any purpose He has is good.

I want to be the person who has honest thoughts and emotions concerning my circumstances, but who also has active, unwavering hope. I will never say, “I’m trusting God because he will make my son better.” Instead, I will say, “I’m trusting God no matter what.” It’s simple to say, but with a flesh that cries out for comfort, happiness, and ease, I have to actively work at placing my heart in this posture of surrender before the Lord. I want a heart that, even when questioning my circumstances, says, “Yes, Lord.”

I did not come to this place until I learned to trust in the Person of Christ and His heart toward me rather than looking for what He could do for me. I know I’ll be disappointed if I trust in God to provide me with only comfortable circumstances, but I’ll never be disappointed if I look to God to be the source and object of my hope.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dashed Dreams Part 4

When we see pain as an opportunity, the results are scripturally clear. As these verses illustrate, it produces in us a strengthened faith and inner character:

1 Peter 5:10: But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

James 1:2-4: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

1 Peter 1:6-8: In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Romans 5:3-5: And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dashed Dreams Part 3

All manner of sickness and suffering have infiltrated our world because of sin and, in all honesty, that answer given in Part 2 to the “why?” question doesn’t really make me feel any better. Even though I know I am a sinner, autism in my son feels like a punishment that doesn’t fit the crime. But one look at my beautiful, precious son and I backtrack. My son is not a punishment. He is not a burden. He is not afflicted or cursed. He is a beloved child that God has used in countless lives. It is a picture of His heart that He uses a plain “jar of clay” to carry and display His treasures.

Nonetheless, at times my response to talk of good birthed from suffering is a furrow of the brow. It is a difficult pill to swallow. But as soon as I question God, I am reminded that God hasn’t asked anything of us that He hasn’t done Himself. “For Christ also suffered once for sins”[1] for the good purpose of bringing us to God. Paul goes on to give us our response: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”[2] When we choose to surrender to God and allow His will in our lives, thorns and all, our suffering can be purposeful. It can show the power of God that gives us the strength to say, “No matter what, I am loved. No matter what, God is good.”

I personally believe that while we are so quick to categorize pain as a negative, God views it as our opportunity. It is an opportunity to have our character tested and refined. It is an opportunity to live by faith. It is an opportunity to see God redeem and restore a situation we felt impossible. It is an opportunity to experience deep gratitude and joy over even the smallest victories. It is an opportunity to develop compassion for the plight of others. It is an opportunity to influence others and draw them to Christ. It is an opportunity to love with an unworldly, grace-filled love. The opportunities associated with pain that we fear and flee from are endless…if we accept the opportunity.

[1] 1 Peter 3:18

[2] I Peter 4:1-2

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dashed Dreams Part 2

In all honesty, even though Will has grown tremendously since his diagnosis, there are consistent struggles in my home and in my heart that have resulted from my death grip on the ideal dreams of family I’ve had. Every time I attend a parent-teacher conference at his school or see him playing alongside a peer, I am reminded that, no matter what I do, this terrible disability is never going away. Things will never come easy to my son and, because of that, I too will be fighting an uphill battle as long as he’s with me. When I meet other parents of children on the more severe end of the autism spectrum I know that there are some who have not seen their children progress at all. I feel guilty that I have seen growth in my son and I still struggle. I always find myself back at the anguished question: “Why, God? Why does it have to be this way?”

I wonder sometimes how I would have responded if Will had not shown progress at all or how I will respond if he stops progressing. What will I do if the Lord allows additional struggles or difficulties unrelated to autism to be added to my load? Will I still count God as faithful and worthy of enduring pain? I have begged the Lord to heal my son. In His answer, so different than what I have asked for, can I still count Him as good? What is really floating around in my occasional bitterness is the age-old question: Why does a good God allow suffering? Why do bad things happen to “good” people? If He’s capable of healing the sick and afflicted, why doesn’t He act?

From a biblical perspective, it’s clear that no one is good. From the moment Eve bit into the forbidden fruit in an attempt to be like God, sin has infiltrated every aspect of life, literally taking it away with the ushering in of death. Sin keeps us from an intimate relationship with our Creator, just as it keeps creation from its fullness, but in Jesus’ death, He rescued us from the eternal effects of sin. Unfortunately, though we’re rescued, we still live on earth, with the life God originally intended us to have sucked out.

Though now free to walk intimately with God, we are not yet free from the far-reaching effects of sin. Our God grieves over sin, creation groans under its chains, and believers await their final freedom with anguished anticipation. The brokenness of the world belongs to us-- it is our responsibility and ours to live in until God makes all things new. Though He hates sin and the brokenness it causes, true to His nature, He creates goodness and wholeness from even the most dire of circumstances. He is a Redeemer, capable of unleashing us from the chains of sin and making good from it for those who love Him. It’s what Paul meant by Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” This came from a man who experienced great suffering, not only at the hands of other men, but also through a physical ailment, a byproduct of man’s sin problem. The specific health issue is in question, but Paul’s perspective on it is clear: “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”[1]

[1] 2 Corinthians 12:8-10