The Getaway

Last week Rob and I were able to have a getaway - just the two of us.  We headed further south to Florida.  There was quite a bit of tears early in the morning as Anna realized that we were leaving and she was not going to get to go.  She begged.  Before we left Rob pulled the map out and showed the two little ones where we were going.  Anna was quite worried that we would run out of gas.  Daddy assured her that there were gas stations where we were going and that we would be able to get gas for the car.


When we left for Florida I had never seen the ocean.  I was so excited to be able to see the ocean and mark that off of my bucket list.  When we got to Georgia the ocean was not too far away.  Rob took a detour so that I could be able to see the ocean.  It was neat to look out and see the water.  We drove over a bridge and took in the sights of the ocean.  I loved it.  

God has really been working in my heart about how fearful I am of certain things.  For a long time - I think my whole life - I have been deathly afraid of bridges.  It was wonderful to drive over this bridge and not feel one ounce of fear or panic.  (That has NEVER happened before).  I know it may sound like a little thing to some; but for me it was a huge event.  I am learning to trust God and know that He will take care of me and that I can depend upon Him and do not need to be afraid.  Even on bridges! 

I love palm trees.  They look so fake to me; because every time I have seen something that looks like a palm tree it has been fake.  Youth work and banquets expose you to A LOT of fake palm trees.  I found myself having to touch them just to feel the 'realness' of the tree.  I love palm trees!  

 The highlight of our trip down to Florida was being able to spend quite a bit of time at the Hope Children's Home in Tampa.  We toured the facilities and were able to eat lunch and get to talk to the kids and staff at the home.  God has done great things for this ministry and it was a blessing to hear how He has taken care of these children and provided for the needs of the home as they care for these precious little ones.  It was hard to leave after our lunch and tour - this ministry really touched our hearts deeply.  

When we were done at the home we drove over to Clearwater, FL to see the ocean.  We drove right past Clearwater Christian College.  We did not stop by the college; but got a photo that said we were there.  ;)

The highlight of the trip was our tour through the children's home; the second best thing about the trip was getting to see the ocean.  It was wonderful to experience the ocean.  I loved it.  I loved the smell of the ocean.  I loved the sound of the ocean; and I loved the feel of the ocean.  It was wonderful.  What beauty God has created!  We were able to see dolphins jumping up out of the water.  It was breathtaking.  It brought tears to my eyes to realize that I was able to do something that I had wanted to make sure I did before I died.  It was wonderful.  I loved the ocean.  

 My husband spent a month in Florida years ago when he traveled with an evangelist.  He was able to show me a lot of things that he remembered from his time there in Tampa.  It was wonderful just to have the time to be together and have him share memories from years ago.  I loved having him as my tour guide!!

I loved the white sand and the feel of it between my toes.  There were a lot of seagulls there.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not fond of these creatures.  I did pretty good with these birds sitting, flying and walking all around us.  Once I got a little bit jumpy and grabbed Rob's arm when a bird was flying towards me.  (He thought I was telling him that there was a tarantula on his back or something and jumped quite a ways in the air. He had to catch his breath when I told him I was just a bit afraid of the birds flying).  So, while I did well on the bridge - the bird thing proved that I have a ways to go with my fear of birds.  (I will say though that there would have been a time when I would not have gotten out of the car with the seagulls around - so we are making strides in the right direction).  

We were not able to get a picture of our hosts that allowed us to stay in their home.  They were wonderful!  We enjoyed such sweet fellowship with them and  saw once again that the bond in Christ is deeper than can be understood.  Thanks Jeff and Allison for the wonderful time there in Tampa.  Your hospitality was a blessing to us!.

We came back from Tampa challenged to live a life of faith and obedience to God's will for our lives.  We were thankful for the time away.  We were richly blessed.

Power to Live

I asked the Lord where He wanted me to read.  The house was quiet.  The children resting.  I heard the still small voice calling me to come.

Proverbs 3.

I settled into the comfortable chair, wrapped the blanket tightly around my legs and opened to the passage.  A familiar one.  I have read it before.  Many times. 

I started reading and came to the verses I knew so well.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths...."

I stopped and meditated.   My eyes went to the notes towards the bottom of the page.  (Study Bibles are worth their weight in gold!) 

I read the notes:  "The verb trust is complemented by the verb 'lean'.  Trusting in God is a conscious dependence on God, much like leaning on a tree for support."

I stopped.  He has been teaching me about grace.  Grace is when God enables me to do a task.  (Divine Enablement" - I have heard it called).  My mind started to think about all the areas of my life where I need Divine help.

Home Schooling
Parenting a special needs child
Parenting a 'normal' child
Being the wife my husband needs
Being a Friend

The list went on - so many areas where in my own strength I mess things up - big time!  (I know by experience)

Then it hit me - Trusting is depending on Him to show me what to do; and even more than that!  Trusting Him is knowing that He will not only show me what I am supposed to do - He will give me the strength, the knowledge, the means in which to do it. 

It is depending on Him to get me through the week, the day, the hour...

I have a relationship with the God of the universe.  The same One who spoke the worlds into existence wants to empower me to do what He has called me to. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to me every second of every day!

Every time I feel overwhelmed with school work.
Every time it seems that autism is more complex than I will every understand.
Every time I am at my wits end telling a child just how I expect a job to be completed.
Every time I am confronted with selfishness that destroys the bond of unity with my husband.

Every singe time these things come up - power is there to respond sweetly, gently and the way Christ would.  I just need to lean on Him and I will find the power of God for each situation.  That is the Christ Life! It's not trying harder - that is 'leaning on my own understanding'.  It is not 'just hanging in there'.  That still has me at the center of the circle. 

The Christ Life is coming across these situations in my day - and going to God and saying:  "God I don't know what to do."  "I need your love to enable me to respond correctly."  "God, I need your wisdom to understand how to handle the special needs you have brought into our home." 

Here is the most exciting part:  Every time I lean on Him and not on myself - He will give me the power to do what needs to be done!  Every singe time!  God will never ever fail me!  He will always make me know the path to take and give me the power to walk it!  Talk about a blessing!

I heard Him speak to my heart that morning:  "Martie, Lean on me with everything you've got.  Don't depend upon yourself.  Consciously realize that I am here and want to help you and I will make your path for every situation straight so you can walk without tripping."

I thanked Him for this truth; and consider myself blessed that because of grace I can live each day with purpose and meaning.  It is allowing Christ to live His life through me. 


A Devastating Handicap

Autism demands that his brain remains in a constant state of evaluation (or perhaps that is the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome  FS).  Either way, it’s my observation.  To take in life he must constantly analyze.  The autism does not dominate his brain; but rather impairs it.   Is there more of a handicap when others can’t see the handicap?
They don’t see the slanted eyes that identify a difference.  They don’t see a child with attachments like braces or a wheelchair.  (Attachments identify a difference).  Autism at his degree has no noticeable identification.  Not at first, at least.

His autism causes him to know there is a difference; but he lacks the ability to see what it is that he does –or is - that causes the difference (or perhaps it  is the FAS).  Either way, I observe him taking in the world and now as he is getting older *he* sees the differences.  He is unsure of what he does that makes there be a difference; but he knows there is one.

It’s the reason why when he senses that someone is not sure of him that he tries harder to get them to notice – to like him.  You see, to Zak there is no one that he does not like.  Everyone is a friend, or a potential friend.  The world is full of his friends or friends that he will make as soon as he meets them – everyone.  Finding someone he does not like does not occur to Zak – that is out of the question.  

He does not read that they can’t handle the differences.  He does not read that they don’t know how to respect differences.  No, he reads their disrespect to him as something he has done wrong.  That more effort on his part needs to be put out to show them that he *can* be liked; because in Zak’s world you can’t dislike someone.  There is no one that he dislikes – so he must have done something wrong to make them pull away from him.  He must try harder – and harder – and harder. 

His persistence is annoying to those who disrespect differences.  He has not clue how to read a person who makes a negative comment to him and walks away.  He stands there and his brain evaluates this language.  It is impossible for him to decipher because it is a language he does not speak.  Rejecting someone, teasing someone, yelling at someone – is not a language that he reads even when it is spoken to his face.  (I know I have watched disrespectful people bite at him with their words).   Zak  will sit there confused -  I do not.  I sit there in amazement that a person could treat someone who has come so far, made such strides forward in such a disrespectful way.  I read the language loud and clear and it cuts me to the heart.

There is a person who has treated Zak in a disrespectful way not once; but many many times.  A grown up.  Zak has become fixated on this person - mainly because he wants more than anything for this person to like him.  He does not.  This does not stop Zak from trying - every time he sees this person to interact with this person in hopes that the interaction will go differently.  It's like a puzzle to Zak.  He must do something to make this person like him.  He was fixated on it.  He talked  about this person frequently at home, in the car, when I tuck him into bed at night.  I knew in his mind he was obsessing to try to figure out what he need to do get this person to like him.  An impossible feat because ignorance in a grownup is seldom a handicap that is able to be overcome – especially when the ignorance is brought on by pride that is unwilling to be reasoned through.

We had come home and while we were out there had been yet another interaction with this person who had stooped to a much lower level than I thought possible for a grown person to reach.  The words had been filled with hate and anger.  I had witnessed this interaction, yet again, and knew this time that I needed to put a stop to it.   We walked into the house and started putting things away and Zak started talking about this person as if he was a superhero.  He told me how strong this person was, how hard he worked, how old he was…..  I had heard it all before.  I call it Zak's superhero talk.  He does that about a lot of people.    Zak talks about this person all the time.  I stopped the glowing praise he was casting on this man… 

“Zak what happened today when this person was talking to you?”  I quizzed

Zak’s face got red and his eyes got tears in them that threatened to spill over.  It was then that I realized that he reads more than I wished he could.  His social literacy rate is increasing and I was seeing in my son something I had hoped that I would never witness:  I was seeing that my son was seeing that someone was disliking him because he was different.  I realized right then that he knew more than I thought he did.

Zak went on to relay the story about how this person had yelled at him and  had been mean to him; as soon as he got done telling me about the encounter I had witnessed between the two he started back in with the superhero talk about the man. (I heard again how strong this man was, how hard he worked, how old he was...)

 I had my fill.  I would not sit and listen to it anymore.  This person was no more worthy of Zak’s respect then a dishonest man is worthy of public office.    I had to tell him the truth.  I would do it briefly and honestly; but he had to know the truth.

“Why do you think he talked to you like that?”  I probed.

Zak’s sat as still as a statue.  He had no answer.  His face got redder and I wanted to take him in my arms and tell him how sorry I was that people would treat a child with disabilities like how I had witnessed him being treated.  I did not. 

Victimizing a child with handicaps causes greater handicaps.

“He does not like you….”  I left my words to hang in the air and be caught by his mind one by one.

There was silence.  Then Zak said, “I know.  I just don’t know why.”

“Because some people think that they are very important and should not have to take the time to talk to kids or have kids talk to them…”  It was the truth.

Zak looked at me questioningly and then said, “Is it because of the autism?  Does he not like me because of my brain?”

I told him I did not know why he did not like him; but that I did not want him talking to him anymore.  “He does not want you to be friendly with him.  You may say hello; but that is all.  People like that need to be left alone.”

 Zak looked at me with sadness in his eyes, “OK, Mom.  I will just say hi to him.”

I wish people could see the world through Zak’s eyes sometimes.  I wish they could see that to him, everyone is a friend. I wish they could look past the things he obsessively talks about and see that he is trying to interact with them – to be part of our world and escape the world where he is stuck.  The world of autism.    

I know that as Zak gets older and interacts with the world around him he will be exposed to all sorts of people.  Many are kind – some are not.  

Zak will always be in our care – autism has a way of making that reality (or perhaps it is the FAS).  Either way I will spend a lot of my time watching Zak as he interacts with others around him; and I am finding out that when he encounters people who are disrespectful and mean I see the picture a little different than some.  It is during those interactions with people that I realize Zak’s not the one with the mental handicap.   

You don’t need slanted eyes to identify the difference, or braces, or Autism or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – pride and conceit are  greater handicaps than any of the other things listed above. Unfortunately, for those seriously afflicted with these mental impairments they find themselves unwilling to take the very guaranteed remedy for what ails them:  a steady dose of HUMILITY. 

To Uncomfortable

We spend our days talking about the dream.  The one He has given us.  Our quick phone calls to one another throughout the day contain tidbits of information about the dream.  We sit at the dinner table and listen to the children as they pray and realize that they are dreaming with us.  Their prayers are proof of that fact.  We tuck them into bed at night, turn the lights off throughout the house and escape into our seclusion to talk about the dream. 

It dominates our thoughts.

It consumes our conversations.

It fills our future calendar with dates, and times and agenda’s of things that need to be done to start living the dream in reality.

This day was no different from any of the others.  The days jobs were done, the children tucked in their bed and the house was quiet.  We sat together on the bed.  Pillows propped us up as we sat next to each other and dreamed.  We started thinking about what in our life that needed to change to make the dream a reality; and as we talked we realized He was calling us out of our comfort zone.  To the place of uncomfortable.

How many people have started out to live the dream He has given them and found they had to encounter uncomfortable?

We realize as we talk and plan that He is calling us to this place of uncomfortable and we realize that the path that leads us to uncomfortable has a name: FAITH. 

 Faith is easy to talk about; but to walk? 

He has given us the dream.  It is of His own making.  The burden on our hearts is of His own placing.  We look at what He has called us to do and realize that we cannot do it.  He can.  Faith grows in our lives when we allow Him to live His dream through us.   

We fall asleep talking about the dream and the work He will have to do in order to accomplish it and as sleep seems to creep closer and closer we throw out the question:   Are we willing to go to uncomfortable in order to see the dream become a reality?

The question is poised and sleep claims us both.  I awaken in the morning with the question still fresh on my mind as if it had just been asked minutes before; but this morning the question is personal, the struggle within my own heart.  “Am I willing to go to uncomfortable in order for God to be able to use me for what He has planned for me to do in my life?”

My husband keeps bringing up this man; and as he talks I realize that my husband has been challenged to move to uncomfortable.  He is asking me to follow; and while I wish to say that I am ready and waiting -I find myself holding back.  I dislike uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable means putting aside what I want for a greater purpose.  Uncomfortable means not having the answers and having to rest quietly in provisions that have been promised.   

I despise myself for holding back within my heart.

I pour the hot coffee, add the creamer and sit down on the sofa.  I open my Bible and Him where He wants me to read.    I turn there. 

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee:  I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.  Be strong and of a good courage…”

I know the words are for me – picked out by Him to show me that He will be with me when He leads me to uncomfortable.  He urges me on…

“…Be strong, and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord they God is with thee withersoever thou goest…”

I sit there in quiet meditation of what He has shown me in His word.  It is His promise to me.  The steam from the coffee makes it’s way up into the air and disappears.  I watch and think and then I say to Him, “But do you know how this makes me feel?”  He assures me that He knows every thought that I think, every emotion I feel and I laugh at such a human question to such a infinite God.

The wrestling in my spirit stops and I tell Him I want Him to take me there - to uncomfortable.  I want to see Him work to watch Him perform His will through my life.  I ask Him to lead me and He assures me that His promises are just as true today as they were back when this man claimed them. 

The fear of uncomfortable is gone when I am immersed in His promises.   

 I have nothing to fear. 

“Do your work in me”…. I whisper; and in my heart my hands are raised in worship to a God who promises to meet every need.  I close by Bible and in my heart I am at rest – in Him.