Monday, January 30, 2006

just where did dionne and those psychic friends get off to anyway?

I have been asked more than once, "If you had known then what you know now, would you still have had children?"
What a question.
Yes, I have twins on the spectrum, one HFA and one AS. Yes I am aware of the statistics on siblings and probabilities, etc. I still wrestle with whether or not our family is complete.
On the good days, "Maybe not!" I boldly declare, almost daring someone to try and talk me out of it.
On the bad days, I swear I will never again be so flip as I was on the last good day and I wearily and more resolutely than ever state,
At this point we work together fairly well. It would probably be pure hubris to add another cook to the alphabet soup mix, but today was a good day so I say,
Maybe not.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

my intellectual emancipation

"We need not to worry so much about the loudmouths as about the quiet acts of subversion and training by dangerous people, up and down the country, who on the whole keep their mouths shut."

~Lord Douglas Hurd

I've been reading a lot of political stuff lately, with my current invalid status and a very helpful husband, I have time to really indulge myself.The Alito confirmation hearings stirred my interest about a number of issues.
*See? I don't just obsess about autism related matters, people.
And with all my reading, my allegiances have not been tested, just further shored up. I have to say I can see why there has been such a movement away from traditional news sources to the internet and bloggers for information. The current media via newspapers and television is just ridiculous. There is too much money and power delegateded to too few information outlets. I don't want news that only supports what I believe. *Note this does not necessarily apply to my personal relationships. In those circumstances, I want to hear my opinion replayed to me but in someone else's voice, i.e. my husband's, etc. So any family or friends who happen read this,don't go getting any ideas about whether or not I really want to know what you think. Even if I ask you. Perhaps especially if I ask you. But when it comes to current events and the events that historically may have shaped them, I want the facts. I was blessed with reasoning skills just like the next fellow. I don't want someone's or some entity's analysis presented as truth; I can make that determination for myself, if given the factual information. Anyway, the only way I can get to that stage of the game is to listen to or read two totally extreme opposites and then hash it out with whatever other sources I can find to answer my questions. It is frustrating that everything I can easily access is tainted if not out and out generated to support a political agenda or some commercial outfit. So to heck with the supposed vanguard who have labeled this "Generation {wh}Y." It is hard to really care about what is going on in our nation or world at large when it is all as simulated as a Pixar movie or as contrived as a reality program.
There you go. That's my rant for this afternoon.

Here are my findings from all my research:

*everything is President Bush's fault. Even when there is compelling evidence to the contrary, everything is still his fault. My current back injury...oh you better believe it.

*Michael Jackson has completed his transformation via plastic surgery and is actually a woman.

*Senator Kennedy is far more heinous of a politician than I ever thought possible. I won't speak to his personage, since I don't know him, but....oh my gosh! How can Massachusetts be home to all those great centers of learning and letters and continue to vote that vile man into office?

*Alito is my new modern day hero. I may even have a crush on him.

*There are intelligent conservative rational and critical thinking people out there who don't just blindly follow the dogma that the party I align myself with gets such a muckracking for in the general press (And in my own mind, to be truthful. Apologies my bretheren).

Now I can finally purge myself of the feelings of inferiority that have plagued me since leaving the conservative, if not dangerously narrow, folds of home for the great big liberal world of Higher Education and the highly educated. I am excited to finally shake the notion off that to be a thinker and be credible, one must embrace Godless liberalism with no exception.
Wheww! Free at last, free at last!

So today's ramblings are really my way of saying "Thank you!" to Al Gore for making these revelations possible.
Vive la internet!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

overheard: Kwanza

Driving through downtown on Friday we passed a group of black people waiting to cross the street.

In the back seat Abby says to Emma Jean, "Those are Kwanza people. They celebrate Kwanza. Kwanza is not my favorite holiday."
"Abby, why do you say that?"
"Because we don't celebrate Kwanza, so it's not my favorite."
Then Emma Jean, always ready with her two cents had to throw in, "I don't celebrate Kwanza either."

I asked Abby what she even knows about Kwanza. She said that she heard it on TV at Aunt Susie's. Then she asked why we didn't celebrate Kwanza and I told her very simply that it is a holiday tradition that people who decendended from Africa celebrate, like Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah and Mexicans celebrate the Posadas. etc.

Then she asked, "Do the people who celebrate Kwanza get presents?"
"I don't know much about the holiday Abby. Sorry I can't be more helpful."
"Oh. That's alright honey. Everyone makes mistakes."
Then Emma Jean added for the sake of tradition, "We got our magnetix for Christmas last time.On the fourth day of Christmas."*

You can always count on Emma Jean for the random interjection. She just can't help herself. She is the reigning queen of the last word. Of course, she is the queen of everything.

Often lacking in orginal expression, yet somehow never at a loss for words. That's our girls!

And so we stand on cultural diversity in our little corner of dysfunction junction. Even Sesame Street can't whip them into the proper political correctness of the day.
Que lastima.

post script: I did think it was interesting that Abby made the association between Kwanza and black people. She is one of those "Can't see the forest for the trees" people, only it's more like she can't even see the trees for the branches and leaves and sometimes it's the tiny little weblike veins in the tree leaves that catch her eye.

*Don't ask. I am still sleuthing this one out. I am working on a theory though. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

consumer confidence remains high

It was so nice. I want to go to school there! I hope they will get accepted more than ever after seeing the school and hearing the teachers and headmasters speak about the curriculum. It is a dream education, IMO. We spoke to a 5th-6th grade teacher and the first thing she said was that while her children had graduated from Trinity Christian, another local school and very highly regarded, if she could start over she would choose Covenant because of the excellence in character training and the parental involvement and Christ-centered teaching enviornment. I got teary during the presentation because the school is just everything that we want for the girls. Jimmy was totally sold afterwards too. He had been less certain and was bugging me about the school his nieces and nephews go to, which is fine and who knows? We may end up there, but it does not impress me at all. Anyway, I am going to an open campus there tomorrow to check it out during the school day. Two things that are super neat that they do there is on Thursdays, all the moms gather to pray for the students and the school and on Fridays, the dads gatheer at lunch with the kids and do the same. Isn't that cool? I went to excellent schools. I was very fortunate. I know that I was shaped into a lifetime learner in part because of my primary education. But, while my elementary school was terrific academically speaking, the character development was sorely lacking. It was called a "Christian school," but it was really just a superior education stamped with a prayer and that is not what we want for the girls. Rigor is not enough, KWIM?
We will find out sometime in early March. We have a family interview conducted in our home and some testing to do, yet. I will schedule those by next week, with any luck. I am excited. I will be pretty disappointed if this doesn't work out. It is a super neat place. I know it sounds an awful lot like, "It was an honor to even have been considered," but it really is amazing that this school is even on our radar. When Abby was dx'd in '03, my hopes of them having comparable learning opportunities to the ones that I had growing up were something I counted as lost. Even if they don't get in, there is victory to be claimed in the very possibility, KWIM?
Thanks for the prayers. I was so much less anxious; I know it is because ya'll interceded on my behalf.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; Lamentations 3:24-25

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Open letter to A. Cohen (editorial response #12)

Spoken like a person whose life has not been touched by the 'autism hysteria,'
I can assure you that my children and the children I have been around as a result of the 'autism hysteria’ in our lives have far more going on than simply having different personality types. Simply being quirky doesn’t cripple an entire family’s ability to function and particpate in the world. I don’t know what kind of people you have been running around with who would be “eager” for an autism diagnosis, but I only know people who are eager to get out from under the autism umbrella. But what do I know? I am just an obsessed and hysterical parent.
Your response is remarkably uninformed and officious. Check out the DSMV IV and do some reading about the disorder (Autism is not a disease, as you mistated). Also, there are effective treatments and interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders. No cure perhaps, at least in the traditional sense of the word, but remediation with early and intensive interventions is well documented. Because it is a disorder and not a disease, there is not a 'one size fits all' plan for recovery, but recovery does happen. It is happening around here everyday.
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

Here is the editorial letter to which I am responding. I guess this ignorant person's missive is well-suited to the ignorant editorial that sparked it.

"Hand-in-hand with the hysteria over vaccines and autism, is the hysteria about autism itself. In my neck of the woods (Boston), it seems that any kid that talks late, is shy and/or is introspective gets labeled as having some disease on the “autism spectrum”, e.g., Asperger’s syndrome.
Autism is clearly a disease; but an autism “spectrum” has never been demonstrated (only hypothesized), and no effective treatments for either autism or the supposed “spectrum” have ever been demonstrated.
While it’s great that society recognizes that some children have different personalities, we’ve become obsessed with turning personality differences into pathologies. I expect that this eagerness to label kids as autistic is causing a great deal of the “explosion” in autism, and is causing uneccessary parental anguish and societal expense.
Comment by A. Cohen — January 13, 2006 @
8:36 am"
And people wonder why I am forever pushing to raise awareness. This fool is exactly why.

Friday, January 13, 2006

"I love you more than germs...."

After acting, well just not as Emma Jean as usual and then asking if she could take a nap(!), I felt Miss Beans' head and she felt really warm. So I took her temperature and sure enough 101.9! I was so surprised. She didn't appear to have any other symptoms. Anyway, I got her into some cozy jammies and was getting my bed ready for the patient when Abby began fussing over our sick sweetie. She went to hug Beans and I told her after that, no more hugs or kisses until Mommy said Emma Jean's temperature was normal. I reminded her that she didn't want to get sick and when someone has a fever, it means they have a germ. Now Abby has an unprecedented aversion to germs. Not because of anything we've done. I am pretty nonchalant about stuff like that. I am of the school of thought that too much anti-bacterial everything weakens the immune system. I mean I clean and we wash our hands a lot, but I am not a freak about germs like some folks. Like Abby for instance. Anyway, I can use this little predilection of hers to my advantage at times so I figured the germ warning about sister would keep Abby a mile away. But do you know what my sweet Bitty Bee said? She gave Emma Jean another hug and said, "Oh sister. That's alright. I love you more than germs."
I know that was Abby speak for 'I won't even let a germ come between us."
How sweet is that? Sister love. It just doesn't get any better than sister love.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

the agony and the agony....

Unlike the first year, when we were just trying to find a way to make life livable, for the past year all the ABA therapy, speech therapy, and social skills building opportunities we have been working on with the girls was persued in hopes of being able to enroll them in public school in '06 for kindergarten. With mom all set to help us, we even had our house on the market and were ready to move to the appropriate school district. In November, the people who have worked the most with the girls and in whom we trust to give us good guidance concurred (independently) that they would really be best served in a private school setting. I was disappointed. We hoped to rely on a public school from kinde-middle school so we could begin re-stocking the coffers because we are on the brink of ruin after shelling out so much dough to help them overcome their autism. Our thinking was that it was likely inevitable that there would come a time for them to need private school for high school and possibly middle school, when the social demands might compromise their ability to succeed academically. Plus, it just felt like a defeat after all our hard work not to really meet the goal we had set out upon. We have swallowed this minor diversion and have set about looking for the perfect little school for them and we found one. It is exactly the kind of school I would want them to attend, regardless of their differences: excellent academics, Biblical instruction, highly structured, etc., but the reason I really think it is perfect for who they are is that the curriculum and atmosphere of the school is very character-driven. The emphasis placed on developing the Fruits of the Spirit is equal to the emphasis on academics. The school has high expectations of its teachers, students, and the parents to reinforce a code of behavior that reflects Christ's teachings about love and what the character of a Christian should be. My girls especially need an atmosphere like that, each of them for slightly different reasons. Emma Jean is a real social bee. Inept as she may be, she desires interaction and thrives upon it. She is also an attention junkie. These two things can be great motivators but there are drawbacks too because of the way her Asperger's manifests. One way she wears her disorder is that because she is unsure of how to act a lot of the time yet is a quick study of the people around her, she will find someone who she sees as being successful with others and emulate them. Sounds harmless I realize, but she takes it to a whole other level. She virtually assumes their persona: mannerisms, accent, everything. It is kind of freaky to observe. I could always tell which therapist she had worked with by her accent and manner when she came home. If she had worked with one, she might have adopted a New York accent and because I was familiar with all their therapists at BI, I could recognize them in her gestures and how she played. It happens fast too. She only has to be exposed to a person for a short period of time. There was a boy who was really troubled that we overlapped OT and ST with and after being around him the first time for maybe 15 minutes in the waiting room it took days for me to undo the "Elijah (his name)" that she had latched onto. That's the real rub. It would be one thing if she was attracted to the most wonderful kid in the room, but because of her personality, sunny and a little rambunctious, and her need for attention, she is drawn to the rowdiest most outlandishly behaved kid in the room. We have to be very careful who she is around. We have to pick her peers and playdates with a great deal of care because disorderly playmates reap havoc and in a big way that inteferes with the neat child she truly is and undermines her behavioral progress. I'm sure ya'll can see what the implications could be if she were in a crowded classroom where order and good manners and kind-spiritedness were not required. It would be chaos for her externally and internally. She is very smart, her IQ is somewhere in the range of 'exceptionally gifted.' But we all know that it doesn't matter how smart someone is if they cannot get along or are removed from the classroom for disorderliness. To further complicate matters she is a perfectionist and seeks approval from her teachers, but because of her social deficits, she doesn't 'get' that what she is doing is not okay until well after the fact, and then she is crushed and it is difficult to get anything out of her afterwards. Unfortunately, again because of her social deficits, she really doesn't learn from her mistakes in judgement. Her impulsivity related to her ADHD makes it a tricky area to navigate. She has to learn from her mistakes and like everyone else, natural consequences make excellent teachers, but she needs a lot of patience and tenacity on the part of the adults who are monitoring the learning experience, if that makes sense. One good thing about her though, while it may take a lot more somewhat contrived and black and white circumstances for her to learn a social lesson, once learned her perfectionism kicks in and she doesn't seem to revist the once problematic area again. Now Abby, she is totally different, but also needs a very closely monitored enviornment. She would never be attracted to a rowdy kid getting into trouble. She is SO, totally rules governed that the last thing she would want to participate in is something that is 'wrong,' be it according to the rules of the classroom or her own, often arbitrary set of rules. That said, she is not as naturally sunny and likable. She is kind of a crumungeon. We joke that she is like a cranky little old man in a five year old girl's body. She likes to do well and she is smart too, well above average, thank goodness since autism is more often paired with MR than not. And she does well, most of the time. Until she suddenly doesn't. Then it is bad news. Her understanding of what makes the social world tick is more limited than Emma Jean's and her social interractions are unsuccessful a lot of the time. She is not always aware of it, which I think is a bit of a blessing sometimes. But she has keen sense of injustice and is very aware of when she is being excluded or made fun of, sometimes she perceives injustice where there has been none and she really gets mad or emotional and it is difficult and takes quite a bit of finessing to talk her down. Then she holds a grudge and that is no fun and not a personality trait that bodes well for her social future. Silliness is confusing to her as are a number of the ways that typical little kids act. Her language and prosody (manner of speak) can be stilted and hard to understand at times and her peer group is becoming aware of that and loses interest in interacting with someone who is unintelligble and whose manner is kind of stiff and unnatural. So Abby needs to be in a classroom where there truly is a zero-tolerance for bullying and the children are held to a high level of expectation when it comes to kindess and grace. I am crying now picturing recent interractions on the neighborhood playground. It is so hard to watch and there is little to nothing I can do even when I am there to compensate or help her navigate these social pitfalls where she is so plainly deficit. I can't bear to think of turning her loose in a schoolroom where kids can be cruel, unknowingly often times at this age. But I realize I have to, God it is so hard and heartbreaking. She doesn't always show that she is aware of these rejections, but she does have real feelings and falls apart, breaking down in tears because she "Doesn't have any friends and never will!" I am helpless because it impossible to teach her the understood and unspoken rules of kid-dom. We try, don't get me wrong. We are relentless in our social instruction, but it doesnt really seem to take. Again, this is all part of Autism Spectrum Disorders, possibly the most crippling part as they mature. Despite all these obstacles, my girls are really awesome little people. And it's not just parental bias that says so. Really! Everyone who has worked with them agrees that they are too smart, too high-functioning, and have too much to offer to be pigeon-holed by the labels of their disorders. For the most part, their dx's do not define who they are and don't interfere with them being typical and bright children. Unfortunately, there are ill-informed stereotypes of the disorders out there that tend to dominate how people think about people with ASD. Before I learned otherwise, if someone said, "autism" I thought of Rain Man or some made for TV movie I saw on Lifetime once with a kid humming and rocking in the corner, flailing about every once in awhile. And while yes, ASD does look like that on some people, it certainly doesn't look like that on my girls. In fact, if I didn't tell you about them and you met them and spent a short period of time with them, you would likely never think a thing was wrong with them, unless you are sensitive to spectrum disorders. But even when I was looking for preschools for them last year, I had so many doors closed in my face the minute the "A" word was spoken. "Good Christian folks" would deny us access to their little pre-school program because, "we are not eqipped to deal with special needs." It was a real eye-opening experience. I began to see why many parents decide not to reveal their children's dx.

Anyway, I realize this is very long. I am just trying to work it all out. The conundrum that I face is this:Do we tell them? It goes against every fiber in my body not to be forthcoming about their dx's. It feels dishonest. However, we have been advised by many other parents and even their therapists not to reveal the full nature of their disorder. To maybe offer speech delay and play up the twin factor since it is widely accepted that twins often have speech and language delays. I don't know. It feels really hypocritical to seek a school because of it's emphasis and accountability regarding matters of character and then not disclose fully a significant fact about my girls.To further complicate this decision, this perfect little school is very expensive. But I know that they are also very generous with finacial aid. When we apply for it, they will look at our records and naturally ask, "Why do you need this aid? If having your children attend a school like this is so important to you, why haven't you planned for it? Why don't you have any savings? Why are you in debt?" Explaining why would require us to reveal their dx's. How else can we tell them that getting the girls to the point that attending any kind of school has cost us everything and then some?I know this is terribly long-winded. I appreciate anyone who has managed to wade through this lengthy post. I am thankful that I had a place to type it all out and work through the mish-mash of thoughts and feelings I have on the matter. This is my first attempt to do so. Thank you for bearing with me. If anyone has any insights or thoughts or suggestions about what we should do, please share them and be frank. I have to submit the first part of the application process next week. We will attend an open house on Tuesday and if the first applications are accepted, then we will go to round two which will include interviews for all of us. The enrollment deadline for September 2006 is next month. I am so anxious. Any input will be very much appreciated.
And of course, prayer, prayer, prayer.

Thank you.

“but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Mark 4:19-20 NIV

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

would you know it if you saw it?

One of these children has autism. Can you tell which one?

My vent to anyone who ever said:

"all kids do that"

"they'll outgrow it."

"awwww. I miss that stage."

"they just need more dicipline"

"you're just too hard on them."

"spoiled. that's all there is to it."

"but they look normal."

"so what's their special gift?"

"it could be worse."

"God gives special kids to special people."

Quiet doesn't always mean "shy"

A tantrum doesn't always mean "naughty"


Would you know if you saw it?

© 2005 Autism Gear

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Look out Carly Piper!

Well Abby did great! There are three kids and two teachers, how ideal is that? She was beaming from ear to ear. Genuine delight like that is somewhat uncommon for Abby to express naturally. Jimmy and I were really happy to see that expression of unmitigated joy on her face. Thank you Lord.
There are some areas that could prove problematic for Abby. So even though I really didn't want to, I had to tell the teacher about her autism. She was very receptive though and did not seem put off or anything. We'll see how class two goes.
I am trying to stay positive. I mean Abby's participation was great and it will be a good fit for her, I just didn't want to bring up her disorder. It makes me nervous about trying to keep it on the down-low when we apply to schools.
All in all, our first forays into the non-theraputic world were succesful. YAY!
"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

Monday, January 09, 2006

Nard would be proud

Emma Jean did great in her first gymnastics class. She is really a natural. She was so awesome on the uneven bars. The teacher was about to show her what to do and boom! She had already executed it perfectly. She did really well about not talking constantly the first half, but kind of got side tracked at the end, LOL. We'll work on it. She was so cute. She always used her little Olympian finish at the end of each exercise. There were older girls practicing who were clearly serious gymnasts training at the same time. At one point they began practicing their tumbling and would run then do some stunts (double back flips, etc.). When they would finish and do the pose, Emma Jean just couldn't contain herself and would begin clapping and cheering like mad. She charmed those serious teenagers. It was something to see. She'll be running that place before too long. Thanks for the support and for asking about it. I am still smiling with pride.
Tomorrow is Abby's turn. She starts her swim lessons in the morning.
"But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him." 1 John 2:5

Saturday, January 07, 2006

let the games begin!

Abby starts swim classes this week. I am so excited for her. She seems like a natural and I am hoping that once she learns the basics she'll really excel and enjoy swimming. I think it could be a terrific lifelong sport for her. In the short term, I know it has a tremendous and positive impact on her language and attention and I am looking forward to meeting some people outside of the therapy circuit, both for her and for me.
Emma Jean will also be starting a new activity: Gymnastics (or 'Nastix' according to her, LOL). She has taught herself how to do backflips on the trampoline already and on the ground she can do a pretty decent round off and even a front handspring! I was a 'Top of Texas Tumbler' when I was her age so it's in the genes. When I spoke to the gal who runs the program told me that Emma Jean could wear shorts for her first class just incase it turns out she doesn't like it. I had to laugh. Like it or not, Emma Jean is not about to go without the whole get-up. I am still hearing about a tumbling birthday party I took them to almost two years ago that they weren't suited up for appropriately. Who knew?
Anyway, I have the same hopes for Emma Jean in so far as meeting some new folks. Just another stride towards life among the Earth People.
Look out people, here we come!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Great Expectations 2006

I am part of an autism elist that sends out daily scripture and prayer. It is awesome. I have been so blessed by this ministry. This came today. I am blown away by the relevance of this epistle. If you would like to participate in this elist, click on the link 'children of destiny.' I don't read the emails everyday, but I am seriously blessed every day that I do. His word has a way of doing that for His children. Praise Him!
One evening not long ago, I was spending some time with my wonderful husband, Jack. That night I was weary and discouraged. After five years of dealing with the awful affects of autism, my vigor was waning. I was tired and low. In an effort to help revitalize my strength, Jack suggested that perhaps we needed to spend more time in prayer after the kids were in bed at night.

I burst into tears. “What more does God expect of me? I have no energy left at the end of the day after all I have to deal with! And now I have to spend what little time I have for myself doing one more thing?” I have to admit that my reaction shocked me as much as it shocked Jack. Without warning, up and out of me came truth of the depth of hopelessness that I had fallen into.

It became clear I had to go back to the Lord to allow Him to minister to me, if nothing else. How did it get this bad? I had become a living example of Proverbs 13:12, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” My heart was sick and I had grown weary. In 2005 we had seen little progress with Nicholas, dealing with full-syndrome autism, and had come to the sad realization that our second son, Sam, was also dealing with significant developmental delays. I began expecting bad days – and I got them. The real question then became not “what does God expect of me?” but, “what do I expect of God?”

As I allowed the Lord to minister to me, I began to realize that the discouragement and hopelessness I was feeling was the result of my own self-pity. I had begun to focus more on the loss and pain I was suffering rather focusing on God’s future and His promises. The result was pessimism. I had lost sight of the love of God in my life and in the lives of my children. I had lost my expectation in God for a victorious future.

Then the Lord reminded of something else – future is synonymous with expectation. I went to the dictionary just to see if the terms were linked. I discovered that one definition of future is “an expected state.” And in one definition of expectation is “a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen in the future.” There is no question that one coincides with the other.

God is able to move on our behalf when we expect Him to do so. It really is a simple matter of faith. Do we have faith in God or not? The answer to that question really does determine the path we will follow and what the future holds. It determines how much we will allow God to move on our behalf.

For me, I am determined to shake off the hopelessness and discouragement of this past year. I am choosing to awake each day and make a declaration of God’s goodness every day before the demands of the day overtake me. This is a great exercise for any Christian. The Psalms are full of wonderful declarations of God’s power and faithfulness in the midst of adversity. It may be good to read a passage aloud each morning – even if it’s only a few sentences. Some examples are:

• “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” (Ps 55:16-17, NIV)

• “With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Ps 60:12, NIV)

• “Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies.” (Ps 68:34, NIV)

• “Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” (Ps 77:13-14, NIV)

• “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Ps 84:11, NIV)

These are only a few passages from the Psalms. There are great statements of faith we can declare from both the Old and New Testaments.

This exercise is more than just making positive statements or wishful thinking. It is allowing hope in a mighty God who is able to do all He has said to begin to rise up within our hearts. It is declaring the truth, which will set us free. That in itself will bring a measure of healing to a sick heart.

But there’s more. As we truly grab hold of hope in God, it will transcend into faith. With our faith arising, God can then grab hold of our circumstance and cause us to overcome. And it is through faith that we will see demonstrations of God’s power. He has the power to heal, the power to deliver, the power to set us free. And, yes, He also has the desire to do so on our behalf. The only true way for us to tap into the power of God, not only for ourselves, but for our children, is to expect Him to move.

In 2006, Jack and I have determined that we will allow an expectation of God’s love and His power to determine our future. We will wake in the mornings declaring that we have God’s strength for today and hope for tomorrow. We will choose not to live “under the circumstances” of our lives, but we will catch a new wind of strength to soar above them. We will expect to have the joy of the Lord. We will expect to see good things for our children.

Does that mean nothing discouraging will happen in the coming year? No. But we can choose each and every day what our response will be. We can either walk in self-pity and doubt, or expect to see God’s hand move in our circumstances. We have determined that no matter what the year brings, we are going to believe in God’s faithfulness to us, we are going to expect to tap into His overcoming strength, and we are going to expect that He will move with power on our behalf. We are expecting a great year in 2006.

Take a moment as we begin this new year to allow a fresh hope in God’s great faithfulness to come on you. Read Psalm 66. And then answer the question for yourself: what is your expectation of 2006?

May the Lord richly bless you in this coming year,
Jack and Rebecca Sytsema

Thursday, January 05, 2006

table for four, please!

We have dined as a family twice this week and what an absolute pleasure it has been. Abby struggles some, but Emma Jean is obviously delighted with this turn of events. And so am I! Jimmy said how sweet it is to look around the table and enjoy a meal and 'conversation' as a family. He and I have both misted up while sneaking a peek at the precious ring around our humble table during grace. It was so far out of reach not too long ago.
Oh, I am so happy! PTL!

"You can't change circumstances and you can't change other people,
But God can change you."
~Evelyn A Thiessen

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

thought for the day..well maybe just for the hour, okay a couple of minutes anyway:

Have you tried Panexa for that?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

my little know it all

So this morning I was sitting in my chair working on my Bible study and Abby wanted to know what a certain part of the study material said. It was the recap, but I explained it as a summary saying that it took all the material that I read on the previous pages and condensed it. From way across the house in the dining room Emma Jean, who was coloring and not at all involved with anything either Abby or I were doing in the living room, pipes up, with great authority of course, "No, that's not right. A summary is a ship that goes under water to look at things and uses a parrot to look at what is on top of the water while it's down there."
Oh this child! She asks me how to spell a word then argues with me about the spelling.

And people wonder why I am crazy.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. Psalm 65:11

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Glory to God in the Highest Heaven!

Happy New Year!

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth.
~Martin Luther

  • International Day of Prayer for Autism & Asperger's Syndrome