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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Sharing resources, research, ideas, inspiring scripture, success stories and even failures...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just in Time!

It's been a rough couple of weeks with our little guy. There have been some changes at school and it's really thrown him for a loop. I know nothing we do as his parents is in vain, but some days we feel worn and empty. Today I read this beautiful poem written by a child with ASD. It's from the Autisable weblog, submitted by "autismfelt"(go to www.autismfelt.com for more info).

I titled this post "Just in Time" because this came to me at just the right time. God knew that I needed to read this, as in my heart I believe this is what Nathan would say to me if he could. I hope you are blessed by these words, as was I.

Hugs & Blessings!

My Mom is ExtraordinaryI hope this poem about Autism touches the hearts of all the “extraordinary moms.” 

It was written by 12 year old Jacqueline Shea.  


My Mom is Extraordinary

  • Chosen by God, she is going to have me.
    Mommy doesn’t know she will give birth to me yet.
    I hope she likes me.
    Mommy is an extraordinary mother, having a special child.
    I am not going to be a normal child;
    But God chose me to be this way.
    God chose mommy to take care of me.
    At first, she might be devastated- she’ll think there’s something wrong with me.
    But God has faith in her, so I know she’ll love me and know that I am perfect.
    I am different.
    I may not speak out loud. I think differently. I speak through my mind and actions.
    I communicate through images.
    I know she’ll love me, regardless of what others think.
    She’s a mother chosen by God.

    Read original post

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Tribute to Dr. Stanley Greenspan

Hi all! I'm on an "autism history" kick and found this wonderful piece written by Alan Stokes on the Autisable Weblog. I am only posting portions of it, since it's long. It is a wonderful and comprehensive tribute to one of the pioneers in the treatment of young children with autism, Dr. Stanley Greenspan. We lost Dr. Greenspan just a few years ago, yet his work will live on way beyond the time when those who met him could remember. I am convinced that Floortime was what "unlocked" Nathan's potential and the only way his therapists could get him to engage during his hardest times as a toddler. It's NOT for everyone, but for us, it was a lifeline!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Autism Light: Dr. Stanley Greenspan

Two years ago today the autism community lost a hero who made a tremendous contribution in the treatment of autism. Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan was the influential child psychiatrist responsible for the development of the autism treatment known as Floortime. Dr. Stanley Greenspan is being named an Autism Light posthumously for his work with opening up a new world to countless numbers of children with autism and for bringing Floortime to the repertoire of autism treatments. His name is also being added to the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan was born on June 1, 1941 and passed away on April 27, 2010 from complications of a stroke. At the time of his death at age 68, he was a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at George Washington University medical school, a practicing child psychiatrist, prolific author, and popular conference speaker. He had spent over 40 years of his life working with and for the compassionate treatment of children with autism. The New York Times at his death said that he, "invented an influential approach to teaching children with autism and other developmental problems by folding his lanky six-foot frame onto the floor and following their lead in vigorous play (Source)."

Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan was a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Medical School. Dr. Greenspan also had an important role in child development as the founding President of the Zero to Three Foundation.  Even with his vast higher education accomplishments, Dr. Stanley Greenspan had an ability to explain concepts in a simple way for others to understand and implement in their own part of the autism treatment world. The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning Disabilities (ICDL) features the following quote from Dr. Greenspan on the first page of their website.

All children have within them the potential to be great kids. It's our job to create a great world where this potential can flourish.
-Dr. Stanley Greenspan, 2007

Dr. Stanley Greenspan's greatest legacy is creating the autism treatment technique known as Floortime. The technique is also used to help people with other special needs beside autism. The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning Disabilities (ICDL) describes Floortime this way: "Floortime is both a specific technique, in which for twenty or more minutes at a time a caregiver gets down on the floor to interact with the child, and a general philosophy that characterizes all daily interactions with the child (Source)."

Dr. Stanley Greenspan was the author or co-author of over 30 books written over a period of 35 years.

Stanley Greenspan was a genius of understanding and kindness. In a world where it began to be the norm to ignore, punish and assume that children on the Autism Spectrum could only learn through rote reinforcement, Stanley stood up and said, "No, there is another way." He took people to task for assuming that behaviors were to be extinguished, not understood as communication, and he wanted people to understand that what people with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder had to think and say was at least as valuable and interesting as anything their teachers and clinicians thought or said. His respectful approach never closed the window of hope, and he always assumed that a great, respectful, developmentally appropriate treatment program could help every person at any age.

Dr. Stanley Greenspan's work continues to be carried on every day around the world by a multitude of practitioners and parents who use D.I.R./Floortime to help children with autism. Dr. Greenspans's family continues to build upon his work as well. His son Jake Greenspan is the Director of The Floortime Center in Betheseda, Maryland and his widow Nancy Thorndike Greenspan, who co-authored several books with him, continues to offer Dr. Greenspan's online Floortime training course on  The Greenspan Floortime Approach website.

You can learn more about Dr. Stanley Greenspan's life and qualifications on these pages.

Special thanks to Dr. Stanley Greenspan for his work that brought D.I.R./Floortime to the autism community. To one who built his legacy on sitting down on the floor with little children who had autism, we stand up and cheer him as an Autism Light that shines every brightly beyond his years on this earth. Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

To read the original article on Autisable, go to: http://www.autisable.com/762589838/autism-light-dr-stanley-greenspan/?cuttag=true#cuttaganchor
Photo: The photos in this post are used with permission of Dr. Stanley Greenspan's family.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lost Connections

I wrote this over the weekend (as you can read, it was a tough one):

"Today was the first time the little man and I went to church in about a month and a half. Crowds are so hard for him! All we do every Sunday is just the kids' Bible class. Going into the sanctuary with the rest of the congregation is not even an option! The problem is we go to a large Latino church (with LOTS of kids) and even the Bible classes are too big for him. I stay with him to help him cope and often both of us come out looking and feeling like we've been in a 12-round fight. He does much, much better with his daddy, but he is often busy with his own ministries at church. Today went well overall (other than someone eating our snacks right out of my bag) because there weren't that many kids there. Oh, and on the way to our car the little man ran out into the street hoping I would chase him. Luckily someone stopped the car that was on the road. It's hard... really, really hard! But life is hard, so we just roll with it. Some Sundays I just don't have it in me, though... and even when I do, I have nothing left by the end of the day.

My husband has been especially busy lately with the music ministry, something we used to do together and I still grieve that loss. I sat alone at my dinner table swallowing my tears over a bowl of cereal while my little guy ate yogurt all by himself and chatted away. I marveled at how far he's come! I've heard that as he gets older it will get easier, but for now, if I don't push him/us, we'd never go to church again! Yet in this walk I feel terribly alone. A month and a half of not going to church and I don't think anyone noticed. Sure, those who depend on me to provide support for the kids with special needs missed my help, but no one missed ME... and I realized it's because I've lost my connections.

I see the world like a movie and I am a spectator. Everything is moving so fast and I'm moving at a snail's pace. While folks are out at get togethers and movies, I'm home teaching my little man turn-taking and correct pronoun use. While everyone else is making plans for dinner parties and graduations I'm helping the little guy socialize on the playground or helping him learn to be safe. The things that used to bind me to my friends have been stretched beyond their strength and cables have come loose. Those I used to be connected with are now connected with others whose lives move at their same pace. When my cables snapped, they became frayed and now it takes much more work to re-connect. It alienates people that I have so little in common with them anymore. My "frayed ends" no longer match up with their nice and neat connectors. Although autism does not define me, it's left its mark and I AM different. The gap between me and those with whom I once regularly socialized has become a chasm and my heart is broken. That's when the awful thoughts come into my head: 'if the earth was flat and I sailed off the edge, who'd know?' In a sense I suppose I have sailed off the edge of 'normalcy' and, therefore, the connections were lost. Cyber 'friendships,' like those on Facebook, don't count!

I know the best things in life are worth working hard for. I know God sees how hard we work as parents and He understands. I know I can do this with His help, even when I feel completely alone and utterly disconnected."

Today I got these verses as my devotional:
"11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity" Jeremiah 29:11-14 NKJV

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Great "Daddy" Post on Autisable! Written by Stuart Duncan

Being an Autism Parent: Overcoming Self Doubt

  • The hardest part, I think, to being an autism parent is the doubt. Not just in general but the self doubt in particular.

    We ask ourselves

    It doesn’t really matter where your child is on the spectrum, we all ask ourselves the same questions.
    Am I doing the right thing?
    Am I strong enough?
    Am I smart enough?
    Could I find a way to make more money?
    Could I fight harder/smarter to get the services my child needs?
    Am I listening to the right people?
    Will what I’m doing now, be enough?
    Am I making the right choices?

    To be fair, these are questions that pretty much all parents ask themselves but it’s just so much more so when your child has autism (or any special needs).


    I’m not supposed to write this… I’m supposed to keep up the illusion of competence. Some people believe that I’m a wonderful father and I have all the answers…
    People visit blogs like this for that. They like to be able to relate to the struggles to… but mostly, they look for the positivity. Especially from me. Because it’s what I usually do.
    My wife often bugs me about being “the great autismfather” on the internet because I get some great feedback from readers and on social networks but the honest truth is… I have doubts. In the future. In what I’m capable of. In myself.
    I know my son is going to turn out great.. because he has greatness in him already. But still, I worry. There is a lot of time between now and when he’s on his own. There is a lot that is going to happen.
    It doesn’t matter if someone out there thinks I have all the answers. I don’t.
    It doesn’t matter if someone out there thinks that I’m a role model. I’m not.
    Right now,  I’m not making much money. I’m not sure what to do about certain behaviors that we just can’t seem to get our son out of. We have sports and other events coming up in the summer that we can’t afford, we’re not sure we could take time away from work for or that our son would even be ready for socially or physically.
    Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pity post. So please don’t leave comments telling me to keep my head up, or to offer me advice on how to get through it…
    I’m sharing this to prove a point. Even if you think someone is a great parent, even if you think they’re a perfect parent… no matter how confident or smart or wise or positive they may seem sometimes… you will still find self doubt. That person will still be asking themselves the exact same questions you may be asking yourself.

    When it gets to be too much

    The point is, it’s ok. It’s perfectly natural to ask those questions and to doubt yourself. Everyone does it. Some do it more than others but everyone does it.
    The problem is when it takes over and moves into the realm of depression. Because then, your self doubt starts to become a self fulfilling prophecy. You will fail where you wouldn’t have otherwise.
    For me, and I’ve seen it in others too, when I start to hate myself too much for not being able to do enough… I have a hard time finding the will to do anything. So I don’t. And then I hate myself for that too. And it spirals.
    I guess the trick is not to dwell on it. If the self doubt is going to be there, no matter what, then don’t dwell on it. Because when you do, when it’s all you think about, it consumes you.
    Either you wake up the next day, shake it off and tackle what ever that day has to offer…. or you don’t.
    That’s when your strength, smarts, income, abilities and everything else won’t be what holds you back, it’ll be your self doubt.

    Focus on the positives

    They say to think happy thoughts and just be proud of yourself for who you are and what you’ve accomplished. I’m not a self help guru so I can’t really put it more eloquently than that. Nor am I very good at dealing with my own self doubt most of the time which definitely makes me one of the least qualified people to guide you through it.
    But I will say this… my children are happy. They’re fed. They are wearing clothing.  They are out of the rain. They love me and they are loved too.
    I’m not sure how long that will last, because I have self doubt. It’s in my nature to think that I’m not good enough going forward. I’m a parent. An autism parent.
    But for what it’s worth… right now… I’ve done better than I thought I would. So maybe I’ll do better in the future than I think I will too.
    And I bet, if you have self doubts, you too will find that if you look around and take stock of all that is in your life right now… you’ll find that you haven’t done half bad either.
    It’s ok to have self doubts. But it’s also ok to slow down once in a while, keep an open and objective mind and appreciate what you have.
    You’ve earned it. You got you there.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reposting: "I'm Not a Helicopter Mom... I'm a Sherpa"

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day! We had the most amazing weekend! Here is a short but poignant anecdote written by a mom, Meredith, AKA "notanafliction" (http://notanaffliction.autisable.com/) on the Autisable Weblog. I find this analogy so applicable I couldn't help but repost it. I have lost track of the number of times people have told me I hover too much over Nathan ("back off," "let him be a kid/boy," "RELAX!"). Well, this short anecdote completely captures why I do what I do. I hope you all will find it just as applicable to your lives... This is what we were called to be by having the loved ones with ASD that we have.

Blessings! DC

I'm not a Helicopter Mom... I'm a Sherpa

                  Sir Edmund Hillary, Colonel John Hunt, and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay at Mount Everest.

Everyone loves to hate Helicopter Parents: the ones who grab all the Easter eggs at the egg hunt to guarantee their child doesn't walk away without finding one; the mother who calls her grown child's employer to negotiate a better salary on his behalf; the mom who wipes her kid's butt long after she's capable of doing it herself.  We mock parents who shield their children from any of life's challenges, preventing their kids from learning how to handle problems on their own.

When you're a special needs parent, it's easy to look like you're helicoptering, even if you're not. I want my kid to snap his own pants, but so far he lacks the hand strength to do it, so I am forced to help. He works on this with his Occupational Therapist at school and with me at home, but he still can't pinch the snap closed. So I make him go through the motions of snapping, and then I get in there and close the snap. To the untrained eye I might look like a Helicopter Mom, but I like to think of myself as a Sherpa Mom.

Sir Edmund Hillary gets all the glory for being the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, but he never would have gotten there without Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, providing the expertise gained on his seven previous expeditions on Everest.

A Helicopter Mom follows her child around the playground to prevent him from climbing anything dangerous and scraping his knee. A Sherpa Mom watches her child at the playground so she can step in if he has been playing by himself too long and needs encouragement to interact with other kids.

A Helicopter Mom brushes her child's teeth for him. A Sherpa Mom puts the toothbrush in her son's hand and holds her hand over his to show him how to brush his own teeth properly.

A Helicopter Mom speaks for her child. A Sherpa Mom models appropriate language so her child can learn to speak for himself.

A Helicopter Mom flies her child to the top of Mount Everest. A Sherpa Mom carries the oxygen and warms the soup so her child can climb to the top on his own.
To see original, please go to: http://www.autisable.com/762511088/im-not-a-helicopter-momim-a-sherpa/?cuttag=true#cuttaganchor

Friday, May 11, 2012

From CNN: A Dad's Story

I know it's Mother's Day this weekend, but I've been saving this story since last month and I didn't want to wait any longer to post it. It is written by a father of several children with ASD, but I think it certainly applies to all parents of children with special needs. You may need some tissues (as most of the stories shared here usually require). This article describes exactly why we NEED to support businesses like Roses for Autism (http://www.rosesforautism.com/), Lucas Works (http://www.lucasworks.org/) and others like them.
God bless you all!

A heart shattered by a glimpse into autism

By Rob Gorski, Special to CNN
Mon April 16, 2012
Rob Gorski and his wife, Lizze, have three boys on the autism spectrum, Gavin,12, Elliott, 6 and Emmett John, 3.
Rob Gorski and his wife, Lizze, have three boys on the autism spectrum    

Canton, Ohio (CNN) -- As the snow started falling, I drove to Giant Eagle to pick up some groceries. With a storm on the way, I needed to stock up on supplies in case we got snowed in.
I pulled into the parking lot of the store and found a spot right in front of the entrance. I sat there for a few minutes, collecting what I needed to take in.

As I reached over to the passenger seat to grab my wallet, I glanced over at the car next to me through the passenger window and saw three people who were loading their groceries into their car. I also saw a large man standing there, reaching over the hood of their car. He was wiping the snow and ice off the car's windshield with his bare hands.

The owner of the vehicle looked at him with an icy stare that seemed to say, "How dare you touch my car." She seemed disgusted just breathing the same air as the man cleaning her windshield. Instead of asking him to stop or giving him a few dollars, she quickly climbed into her car and gunned the car forward so fast the man was knocked back.

A few seconds later, the man got up, walked to my car and knocked on my window. I hadn't even processed what I had just witnessed. Now he was coming over to me and I had no idea what to say.
"Please, not now, I just want to get what I need and get home," I thought to myself. Where I live, it's common for people to approach you for money. I took a deep breath and started to open the door. The man opened it the rest of the way, being careful not to hit the car next to me.

This man stood well over 6 feet and wore sweatpants, a light flannel shirt and boots that were left untied. It was roughly 20 degrees outside and he was clearly not dressed for the cold. In a rather abrupt voice, he broke the silence by asking, "Can I have your change?" I scooped up the change I had in the car and gave him everything I had, which was only $2.37. After handing him the money, I explained that I didn't have any more.

"I'm cold and hungry. Can you take me to the shelter?" he asked. I noticed his hands. They were at his side but his fingers moved silently up and down, as though he was playing an invisible piano. He spoke with great difficulty -- in a stilted, mechanical fashion and his face showed no emotion. I never felt threatened, although he stood in my personal space about 1 or 2 feet in front of me. He would occasionally look in my direction, but never at me. Although he stood so close, he avoided eye contact. "Can you drive me to the shelter? Because it's warm there and they have food," he asked me again. "I'm homeless and very hungry," he said. "I'm not lying to you. If I lie to you then you might not help me."

I really didn't know what to say, because I wasn't comfortable driving him anywhere. Then he asked me to buy him some food and gloves. I thought about what to say. I knew he would have a hard time understanding: I don't have any money. My family is struggling to survive each day. I was trying to figure out how to explain to him that I couldn't help, but I was at a loss for words. Then something happened that shook me to the core and completely broke my heart. As I was trying to tell him no, he looked me in the eyes. All of a sudden, I was looking at my oldest son.

My wife and I have three boys with autism; the oldest is 12. Looking at the bare-handed man was like looking through some special window at my oldest son, 20 or 30 years from now. It was like being run over by a freight train. I was washed by a wave of clarity and my eyes and heart were now open to what was happening in front of me. Suddenly I was transformed from a person trying to avoid the whole situation into a parent, filled with compassion and understanding. He again asked me to buy him food because he was hungry and gloves because his hands were cold. Something about him was so familiar.

Yes, I would buy him some food. I would never deny any of my children food if they were hungry. He smiled in my direction and took my hand without looking at me and led me into the store. His hands were cold, hardened and chapped.

I noticed the looks people gave me as I walked with the bare-handed man into the grocery store. His clothes were old, beaten up and had a foul odor. He asked me to buy him a gift card so he could buy food later, when he would be hungry again. So we walked over to the rack and he picked out a Giant Eagle gift card. I put $25 on the gift card. I gave him $25 in cash and asked him to please buy some gloves and a bus ride to the shelter. He asked for the receipt so "When the police stop me, I can prove I didn't steal this." He told me again that he wasn't lying. I told him I knew he wasn't.

He turned to walk away, stopped and looked in my direction as if to say "Thank you," but didn't. What he did said more than a simple thank you. He showed me his eyes again for a brief moment before he turned around and left.

I was beside myself with grief. How could someone I didn't know have such a profound effect on me? It took everything I had not to burst into tears. I just couldn't shake just how much the bare-handed man reminded me of my oldest son. Their eyes, mannerisms and even the way they speak were so similar. My son struggles with boundaries and personal space simply because he doesn't understand, not because he wants to be invasive. All I could think was, "How does this happen?" I was smacked in the face with reality.

Someday I won't be here to take care of my children. What if this happens to them? What if they are the ones wiping off a windshield with their bare hands and almost being run over by someone who doesn't care? I can't let that happen. I won't let that happen.

Since that cold February day in 2011, I have met the bare-handed man on a few more occasions. Along the way, I learned that his name is Tim and that he remembers me. Tim has shown me just how much work still needs to be done.

I would like to think that my experience that day -- the way people treated Tim in that frozen parking lot -- was an isolated incident. Sadly, I know it's not. Things like this happen all the time. To this writer and father of three beautiful boys on the autism spectrum, this is simply unacceptable. We need to do what we can to help the world better understand both children and adults with autism. I'm terrified of what the future might hold for my children. I have witnessed how cruel and unforgiving the world can be to people who are perceived as different. It is an ugly reality but one I'm working to help change.

Please help spread autism awareness, even if it's one person at a time. Remember that the autistic children of today will be the autistic adults of tomorrow. These people need and deserve our compassion, understanding and respect. Let's help to ensure that what happened to my friend Tim in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle doesn't have to happen to anyone else, ever again.

Editor's note: Rob Gorski writes for "Lost and Tired," where he blogs about the reality of raising three boys on the autism spectrum. He and his wife, Lizze, have three boys, Gavin,12, Elliott, 6, and Emmett John, 3. 
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rob Gorski.

U.S. kids and autism
Overall: 1 in 88 U.S. kids have autism; up 78% from 2002

Total: Estimated 1,000,000 children with autism

Boys: 1 in 54; up 82% from 2002

Girls: 1 in 252; up 63% from 2002

Non-Hispanic white children: 1 in 83; up 70% from 2002

Non-Hispanic black children: 1 in 98; up 91% from 2002

Hispanic children: 1 in 127; up 110% from 2002

Symptoms typically apparent before age 3

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Related story: Parents of autistic children who "take nothing for granted" 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flower Power!!!

Last night I found out about this amazing company called Roses for Autism. Below is their story. Talk about empowering individuals with ASD! This company embodies what we would all want for our loved ones: to learn and obtain a useful skill that will allow them to be a real part of the workplace and a valued member of society. I highly recommend that if you are planning to buy flowers, especially this Mother's Day, you consider purchasing from this organization. Charity can be a handout, like "giving someone a fish." These guys are "teaching them to fish."

Jim Lyman and son Eli

Roses for Autism was the inspiration of a father of a teen with autism. Like many parents of children with disabilities, Jim Lyman dreamt of a future where his son, Eli, would have a meaningful job and continued opportunities to grow as an individual. 

Through his work in agriculture Jim knew that local farmers were struggling to find qualified workers to keep their businesses alive. He had the vision to see a perfect opportunity for an innovative program that would meet the needs of both the autism and agricultural communities. 

Roses for Autism not only provides individuals on the autism spectrum the chance to learn the skills necessary to maintain meaningful employment, but also serves as a model that can be replicated nationwide to develop unique opportunities for them as a whole new competitive workforce. 

Started in 2009, Roses for Autism is the first business endeavor for Growing Possibilities, a nonprofit social enterprise founded by Ability Beyond Disability that is dedicated to growing independence in the business world for individuals with Autism and other disabilities.

Wonderful Essay About Autism- written by an 8 year old!

(get your tissues) I saw this on the Autisable Weblog and HAD to share it here!!! I hope you enjoy it... Nathan will not have any siblings, but I can certainly imagine many of you out there can understand this boy's love for his brother.
Autisable's Weblog Tuesday, 08 May 2012

By Jonathan H. Berry, 8 years old – 3rd grade (Submitted by Sheila S. Hudson, Grandmother)

*Won 1st place at Cooper Elementary School in Loganville GA in essay contest called “Reflections”

Autism from an 8-year-old's perspective

My baby brother, Michael, has Autism and is three years old. He is just now learning to say some words. Autism is something when it is hard for a baby to learn to talk. Sometimes it is hard to understand him. He calls me ‘Jonin’ and he calls my brother ‘Woo-woo’.

Well, he probably has it because God wants me to be a good therapist. I am really good with him. I play with him and help my mom with him. We have a little place for him where there is a pool full of beans, blocks, a work shed, lots of puzzles, a parachute and a tunnel. My mom lets me and my brother, Andrew, go down there with him.  We usually play Clown Town!

Sometimes I help my mom put him to bed. I say, “Let’s go to your room,” and then I get into his bed then get out so he realizes that he needs to get in to his bed. Then, when he gets into his bed, I put on his covers, turn on his music, turn off his lamp and then say, "Goodnight Michael,” and shut the door and go downstairs quietly. 
God gave Michael a gift so I can learn to be around him and know how to be around Autistic kids.  That is why Michael has Autism.

Monday, May 7, 2012


"What doesn't kill you... makes you stronger."
"God doesn't give you anything He knows you're not strong enough to bear."
"The trees with the strongest roots are those that have weathered the worst storms."
I'm sure there are plenty more sayings in relation to this topic, but I think you get the point.

My last post was titled "Strong Enough? Strong One?" and it referenced both a song by Matthew West and a short anecdote by Suzie Eller. I included the link to the story behind Matthew's song Strong Enough because the girl in the video said something that made me chuckle. In response to her mother saying "God doesn't give you..." she says, "Well, He must think we're pretty freakin' strong!!" Actually, the first lines of the song itself made me chuckle when I first heard it. The words are: "You must think I'm strong to give me what I'm going through. Well forgive me if I'm wrong but this is more than I can do." I wasn't amused because either of those things are funny but because, interestingly enough, one was about the other and they both reminded me of my usual comeback whenever anyone says ANY one of the three quoted remarks I listed above...

For YEARS whenever anyone has said one of these to me in reference to the hardships I've encountered, be it illness, infertility, or the little man's special needs, I have ALWAYS responded by saying: "Then I don't want to be strong! Let me be weak but let me live in peace!" People laugh when I say that, but it is the absolute truth. One of my favorite lines in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is that by Gandalf they Grey and it's exactly in reference to this type of situation. Here is the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=vrlTeoFcf-Q&feature=endscreen

God surprised me with Matthew West's song when we went to see Casting Crowns in concert. Matthew West was one of the opening acts. I knew of Matthew from his work with Operation Christmas Child. Meeting Matthew at the 'meet and greet' was such a treat! He was so nice and so down to earth. He joked that he wished he had a "tough" name like my husband's...my husband replied with his usual, "Yeah, I wish I had a normal name like Matthew." But it wasn't until we saw and heard Matthew on stage that I realized what God had in store for us. He shared a little bit of the background for his new album "The Story of Your Life," how he'd retreated to a cabin in the woods to work on this project. He'd asked folks online to share stories of their lives in hopes that these would inspire him to write. He was so moved by these stories that in addition to his album, he published many of these in his book Story of Your LIfe. But of all the songs, STRONG ENOUGH touched me the most.

You see, way before our son was diagnosed our children's pastor, Jonatan Toledo, preached a sermon that to this day is etched in my heart. He spoke of the word "Shema" in Hebrew from the book of Deutoronomy (ch. 6:4-9):

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deut. 6:4-9 (NKJV)

That very day I decided that my house and my own body would be adorned with words from Scripture. I got artwork proclaiming God's promises, I got throw pillows for my bed to remind me of His word, and I got jewelry with scripture inscribed to wear as often as possible. Like the Lord's commandment to the people of Israel, I wanted my son to see the words we, as a family, were choosing to live by. Here's where it comes back to the night of Casting Crowns and Matthew West. Inscribed on my jewelry and on my artwork was Philippians 4:13... the verse on which the song "Strong Enough" is based!

So, you see, way back then God knew what we know now. He set things in motion knowing the long-distance view. I am blessed. Truly, truly blessed to know His voice. So... "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." 2 Cor. 12:10

In that concert hall it hit me like a ton of bricks: I DON'T have to be strong enough. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me... for when I am weak, then I am strong!


Meeting Matthew West
Lyrics to Matthew West's song Strong Enough:

You must, you must think I'm strong to give me what I'm going through
Well forgive me, forgive me if I'm wrong, but this looks like more than I can do... on my own.

I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me, Lord, right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough for the both of us

Well maybe, maybe that's the point to reach the point of giving up
'Cause when I'm finally, finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up and reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me, Lord, right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough...
'Cause I'm broken, down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God and You are strong when I am weak...

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be... strong enough...
Video for the song with lyrics:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBJwA0I8P-4

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Strong Enough? Strong One? More Reposts...

Hi everyone! Some more amazing stuff I've been just itching to share with you!!! 
Two GREAT videos from Matthew West. Here are the links:

On that same theme:
T. Suzanne EllerApril 2, 2012
Strong One
T. Suzanne Eller
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)
The wind blew through my fingers as I held my hand outside the window. The bright sunshine seemed foreign after several days in the small hospital room.

My husband had insisted that I go home. “Take a long bath, babe. Take a nap in a real bed. I’ve got this.”

After four weeks, my world had shrunk to my son’s bedside, X-ray rooms, the therapy wing, and a dimly lit cafeteria in the basement. I had no idea how long my son would be in the hospital, or what awaited us when he was released. The doctors used phrases like, “It’s uncertain at this time.”

Before the drunk driver hit my son, I was strong. It wasn’t that my faith hadn’t been tested; it had. But this was my child, broken and battered at the hands of another, and I couldn’t fix it.
As I drove home, I heard these words deep in my spirit:
When you are weak, you are strong.

That didn’t make sense to me. I felt anything but strong...

When I arrived home I took my bath and a nap. Afterwards, I pulled out my Bible and flipped to the verse. And there it was. Paul’s words:
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The apostle suffered with a “thorn in the flesh.” Scripture doesn’t tell us what that was exactly, but we do know that it was something he couldn’t fix on his own. When he prayed, God reminded Paul that His power comes through when we are at our limits.

There was no mistaking it. Like Paul, I was at my weakest point. As a mom, I wanted nothing more than for my son to be okay and the wreck to be behind us. I wanted my son at home. I was exhausted by long nights on a too-small, too-thin cot, and days of caring for my child as he battled extreme pain.

Yet God was trying to tell me something. Something I hadn’t realized until that moment.
I didn’t have to be the strong one all the time. While I was caring for my son, God was caring for me.

It took a year of therapy and prayer to make my son well; there were many more weak moments ahead for this momma. But in each, I paused and I whispered these words:
“When I am weak, then I am strong.”

My strength was not found in my own abilities or even my staying power. Instead, I was strong because God sustained me and filled me with His grace in the midst of the battle.
Sometimes, when that period of my life is brought up, friends remark, “Suzie, your faith was so real during that time.”

I can’t help but remind them that I was far from having it all together. What they were seeing was God’s grace and love poured over my weak places.

Are you struggling today? Do you feel weak? Whisper it with me:
“When I am weak, then I am strong.”
Dear Lord, thank You that Your grace is all I need. Thank You for Your power in the midst of my weak places. I offer up my need to be the “strong one” and replace it with the knowledge that Your strength is sufficient. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Visit Suzie’s blog where she’s giving away 5 {paperback} copies of A Confident Heart and sharing four things you can hold onto when you need strength the be the strong one – for yourself and others.
Join Suzie in her “Live Free” Facebook community to find daily encouragement on how to live free.

Reflect and Respond:
Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up. ~Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (November 4, Morning).

Today, exchange feelings of defeat for praise. Thank Him for doing what you cannot.
Write down one way that only God can lift you higher than the weak places.

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

© 2012 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105