April 27, 2011

"Starry Night" Prom 2011

"Jeremy has a crush on your daughter. He thinks she's cute and wants her to be his date to the prom"

My eyelids fluttered rapidly trying to comprehend the thought. What could any young man see in our daughter? I mean really, as cold as this may sound let's be frank, one of Autism's primary features is an icy aloof manner. Affection is not one of their strong suites, leaving the odds of receiving palpable affection rather unfavorable. Trust me they experience hurt, love, joy, fear, and anxiety like everyone else, but the good stuff is often bottle up inside, making the whole package an enigma, riddle, and conundrum rolled in one.

Which points me back to the dubious question, what does this young man see in her? Furthermore, is this really real or something the workers at her day hab unconsciously concocted to make the experience more mainstream and normal? With eye lids still a flutter, the mystery refused to subside. One thing was for sure, I had to see this for myself.

Now, I'd met Jeremy before. He and Dani were king and queen of the prom last year, to which Dani cried most of the time because she didn't like being the center of attention or in the camera's sites. Jimmy always photographs these events so she keeps her eye on him and develops a fuss whenever he turns her direction. (Lately he's been sneaking photos of her using his iPhone but she's learned it takes pictures too. Autistics are smart as can be. Never underestimate their observation skills.) Whenever she was happy at last year's dance her primary interest was the cookies and punch on the refreshment table. She couldn't have cared less about participating as queen posing with the king and I vividly remember being a bit disappointed she didn't have a better time, so the thought of her being a date this year was too slippery to grasp.

Taking a half day off work to attend the event, I ran home, met up with Jimmy, and arrived at her location just as everyone was getting dressed for the prom. With her long pink dress draped over my left arm and bag on my right shoulder loaded with her black paten leather shoes, white frilly socks, and matching hair bow, I traipsed room to room looking for the reigning queen. With all the hustle bustle of pre prom prep everyone was out of their usual spot, leaving me no clue to her location. It took one of Dani's friends pointing me in her direction to get on track. With a few other assists, I zeroed in on her location all to arrive in a room filled with special adults primping for the prom.

My first sight was that of a Down's Syndrome lady who had on what I believe was a donated dress. Outdated in color and style, the garment was not only clean and tidy, but fit her pumpkin shape rather well. She grinned ear to ear as Bekah applied her eye shadow, blush, and lipstick. With a curling iron at her side, the final touches were made to the hair, her pearls were positioned just right, and she lifted up from her metal folding chair for all to admire. She no doubt felt royal all gussied up for the dance and I smiled watching her delight grow by the second. Then, all of a sudden, time stood still as my mind spun back 2,000 years. It was completely involuntary and near overwhelming. Sure as shootin' the realization came to light, not five feet in front of me I was witness to a modern day illustration of John 13 when Jesus washed the disciples' feet. A stronger one's love lending aid and encouragement to one weaker and in need. The scene touched my heart in a spot rarely ever grazed, the forever sensitive scar of sacrifice I've carefully tended to since God called Jimmy and I to serve our own sweet baby.

I'd no sooner traveled back in time when paged back to the present as one of the workers eagerly approached showing me a picture on her phone. Apparently before we arrived Dani was holding hands with her last year's king and upon doing so asked the worker to take a picture to show me. I wouldn't have believed it but the photo was evidence and even as we hovered over the tiny screen in her palm, Dani walked over to Jeremy and took his hand. She knew what she was doing, she clearly enjoyed it, and was sincere to boot. A far cry from last year's focus of foraging off the snack table.

I saw Dani in a new light at the 2011 prom. Her father and I look forward to the day in heaven when we'll meet our little girl whole and complete as God originally intended her to be. But this day, out of the blue and by His grace and mercy, we were allowed an early glimpse of our child living behind Autism's door. She has the sweetest spirit, most kind heart, and great taste in men.

That's my girl!

April 25, 2011

Paper Passion

If there is one thing I love it's paper. I don't know why or when it started, all I know is I have a passion for paper and all that goes with it. I save, craft, admire, and love the feel of all varieties of paper, especially top quality stationary. The bigger the array, the faster I ascend to cloud nine.

Last week, Jimmy and I went to the Paper Source on the Plaza here in Kansas City. It was there I stumbled upon templates to make envelopes and matching liners. Now I'm in hog heaven. I had no idea I could make my own envelopes and liners, why...with this knowledge the possibilities are endless. I'm pretty sure my eyes grew big as saucers when I saw the store owner, who's cute as a bug's ear, make an envelop using a sheet from an old 2010 desk calendar. The creativity stoked my already consuming fire to a whole new level.

For a week I've been churning out lined envelopes trying to perfect the craft. This past weekend we returned to the store to get a few more supplies only to discover another crafty gem, heat embossing. The owner showed me how it's done and I was sold, prompting me to walk out with all fixins' needed to add this to my repertoire. If you love paper and have a Paper Source in your area, I encourage you to visit this delicious place.

Here's a mini tour of our venture.

Dani loved the walls lined with stampers.

Racks of gorgeous paper.

The rest of my loot was on the cashiers counter.

The young man who checked us out reminded me
of our son Drew. It was all I could do to keep from
giving him a big hug and kiss before departing.

Dani got a kick out of the paper bunnies in the window

Perhaps I'll share some of my creations here soon, but before I do, how about you share what hobby drives your passion!

April 17, 2011

John 4:1-26

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”


"Let's get in this line. I want you to meet someone."

Conforming to his wishes, I piloted the buggy into the checkout lane like a race horse at the starting gate. We had a mini-cart full of odds and ends, leading one to believe exiting the grocery store would be a cinch. Jimmy was eager to introduce me to his most recent photo client, the checker of that line, while Dani eyed the tantalizing potpourri of sweets surrounding us on either side. Glancing ahead at the checker, I recognized her even though we'd never before met. As with many of his clients, I hold the advantage of getting acquainted with them as he edits their images on our oversized monitor at home. She was cute as a bug's ear and I couldn't wait to tell her how pretty her photos turned out, if only our dog gone line would get a move on.

I'm generally impatient with slow lines but hadn't given our wait a second thought until the lady customer ahead of us sheepishly mouthed, "Sorry, this is going to take a while." A glimpse closer revealed that her daughter was paying with food stamps, a far cry from a fast swipe of a credit card. I smiled back at her with an it's ok smile to put both our minds at ease. My heart went out to them both as a warm wave of sympathy pulsed through my veins. At least her daughter had family to help her, I theorized in effort to comfort myself. About that time I saw an infant in the cart, melting my heart all the more.

As I pondered the situation of the crew in front of us, unbeknownst to me, Dani was striking up a conversation with a lady to our rear. Zeroing in on a cheery young blond, sweeter than the candy on our periphery, Dani was attempting to communicate. Since Jimmy and I translate for her, we soon boarded the merry-go-round conversation only to discover her son had Autism too. We talked about everything from soup to nuts in the world of Autism and ended up leaving her at the counter as her precious boy underwent a melt down over his torn chip bag.

By the time the automatic doors ushered our exit I was frazzled. Having been bordered, even for a short time, by the poverty and pain, I was perplexed as to the the meaning of it all. The Lord exposed great need in both families, yet the opportunity to help was snuffed out on each account, leaving me to wonder why were we ever there in the first place.

At one point I was about to mention to the blond lady my book Freedom until she specifically mentioned she didn't like to delve too deep into Autism. A little here, a littler there was all she could handle. We had a great conversation, she was a wonderful mother and I told her so, but I never shared my book out of respect for her wishes. I wonder now if I missed a prime opportunity. Then, in the parking lot Jimmy informed me he noticed the mother and daughter ahead of us had to put food back because they didn't have enough money. By this point I was offended. I can't tell you how many times I've asked God for opportunities to help others, and I do but in very small ways, but never in such perfect circumstances as this day. I would have been thrilled to help pay the ladies groceries and delighted to offer my book to this young struggling mother, but for some reason circumstances didn't allow.

Our passage today in verse 4 states Jesus had to go through Samaria. In a day where Jews went out of their way to avoid Samaria and what they felt were its filthy inhabitants, one has to wonder why Jesus had to go through this region. It wasn't conventional and certainly no one's first choice, yet He chose this route to fulfill a mission. Meeting a woman at the well who was a societal outcast, He shared the good news that He was the long awaited Messiah, summoned her to turn from her sin, and accepted her in a pure and loving way. As a result, her transforming testimony brought many Samaritans to believe, making this subtle encounter with humanity's lowest rank one that steered salvation in a direction no one could ever imagine.

As the little Autistic boy at the checkout counter ramped up into a full blown fit, our checker, Jimmy's client, appeared an equal mix of peeved and perplexed. To her credit, she was a young teen with little exposure to disabilities, so Jimmy lovingly campaigned for the child and mother by mouthing over the counter, "it's Autism." Like a cool breeze from the sea, this whit of insight reshaped her demeanor as a glint of acceptance and understanding bedazzled her smile.

In retrospect, now that I think about it, maybe the moral of the story is even though we did not help pay for groceries or offer a book at the grocery store, perhaps this young teen gained greater awareness into the rougher edge of society. Maybe she noticed our patience as we stood in line while the food stamps were being processed, which is out of character for me, or our compassion for the little boy struggling with Autism. Could it be the experience was not in vain but God desiring to show His love through us as He did the woman at the well, with understanding and compassion. No money, no product, no conditions, just genuine loving kindness.

Whether it's at a desert water well or suburban grocery store, you can be sure God is always at work. Sometimes it's tangible and profound, while other times more subtle and unseen. If given a choice I'd rather witness the kind of work He does that blows my hair back and takes my breath away. These scenes are rare as hen's teeth unfortunately and I think it's because to trust in His muted more subdued work, is to challenge and ignite greater faith. Stretching us to live each day, no matter how spectacularly mundane, as if He is working a supernatural miracle. We may find ourselves simply standing in line at a checkout counter, but He is at work and others are watching. That thought alone messes up my hair.



When was the last time you felt God did not use you as you thought He should have? Have you ever taken the time to reevaluate the situation to see if He indeed used you but in a subtle more powerful way?

How do you view and respond to "women at the well" of our society today? Do you turn away, keep them at arms length, or reach out to them?

Take a moment to ask God how He can use you to touch someone today. After you've done this, ask Him to open your eyes to the subtle more artful ways your work will be extended to those around you. Then, sit back and trust you are a beautiful thread in this tapestry of life.

April 2, 2011

For "Crying" Out Loud

I couldn't wait to run my fingers tips across the key board bright and early the next morning. It was a no brainer, as soon as the sun gave rise to the new day, I was going to tell him. He'd get a kick out of this one, no question about it.

It's a thing our son and I have done since the dawn of texting and we rehearse it every time we observe or experience something a beat off the norm. Like the time I feverishly tapped to him a description of what looked like a very old grey haired lady, maybe in her 80's, driving a mammoth Hummer. The paradox was stunning, her small old conservative frame in that modern gas guzzling super-fly. It left me speechless but not textless. Drew knew about it within seconds and I felt great satisfaction just telling him, kind of like paying off a bill.

Oh...and his stories. They are hilarious. He has a way of describing things that always whip up a giggle. Having the same taste in humor, he knows precisely what strikes my fancy, his escapades of late are no exception. Seems he's become a real babe magnet, just not the marrying kind. The women after him are not in his age range or looking for an intimate relationship. To the contrary. They are my age or older, lonely, disabled, and seeking the help of trustworthy young man. Since he's too nice, or shy, to say no, he quietly offers his assistance and then spills the beans to Jimmy and me.

Sometimes it's like a soap opera. Like the time he drove a disabled older lady to her boyfriend's apartment when she thought he was being unfaithful, only to later de-wedged another woman's scooter from the door frame of her sliding glass door. His forte goes beyond transportation too. He's been summoned to move televisions, unclog toilets, and just listen to a lonely soul's concerns. It got to the point where he adopted a stealthier style to his comings and goings. He thought he was on to something until one morning, when he thought he was in the clear, a knock on his car window requesting help scared him out of his wits. He feels a bit stalked at times but the stories are priceless.

Since some accounts require more than a quick text, we've resorted to emails lately. That's why I hastened to the key board Tuesday morning and penned...


I was sleeping so well last night until I had a nightmare. For some odd reason we still had the old hideaway couch in the front living room. Dad was sleeping in our bed but I was on the sleeper sofa, not sure why. Some blond lady, who was standing next to my couch/bed, turned into a little girl about eight years old. She crawled into bed with me and I let her because I knew she had no place to go. I knew it wasn't Dani because I didn't cuddle with her, plus she was blond and a lady the moment before. We just laid side by side.

Then...I heard something in the garage (we had no dogs to rely on). My ears perked and sure enough I heard another sound that proved someone was in the garage. Suddenly, to my right, the basement door opened. It was so real because I couldn't hear the door itself but felt the air pressure of the room change. I looked over and saw two men in black tee shirts come into view. I was terrified. That's when I tried to scream. My first call was miserable. All I could do was whimper. I knew I had to scream hard to get your dad's attention in the bedroom (cuz I was on the dumb hide away with a strange girl) so I bellowed...."Ja..Ja...Ja...Jimmaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!!"

I screamed it out loud in real life, piercing the quiet night air of our home. Your dad put his hand on my side to comfort me but the more I realized what I had done the more I began to giggle. About that time I thought I might as well go to the bathroom, so I got up. As I'm walking toward the bedroom door your dad says, "Did you wake yourself up to pee?" That's when I began to howl. I was laughing so hard I had to bury my face in a bath towel once in the bathroom. It was absolutely hilarious. What's even funnier is your dad had been having trouble sleeping so he was wide awake when I screamed his name!

When I came back from the bathroom I was still howling over the incident. I just kept hearing, ...."Ja..Ja...Ja...Jimmaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!!" Even your dad was laughing at this point. When I crawled back into bed I said, "Well if you'd protect me from intruders I wouldn't have to scream at you."

After all was said and done I got to thinking, if I was in bed with a strange little girl that was not Dani, what are the odds I could have called out another man's name? How would I have explained crowing another man's name in your dad's ear? After that I wished more than anything I could have seen Ecclesi and Cocoa's face at that very moment. Coke was behind the baby gate but Ecclesi never came to check on me. Stinkier. I will be laughing over this for a good long time.

Isn't it great to have someone to share the events of life with? I have no doubt God has a grand sense of humor and got a holy hoot out of my midnight outburst. Maybe in heaven He'll explain silly dreams and life's odd occurrences. Perhaps He'll reveal who the woman by my bed was, why she turned into a girl, and why older maidens feel an affinity toward our son.