I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Answer to Noah's Shirt Chewing...

NOTE: If you came across this page by googling "Shirt Chewing", please click here for the most recent post on Noah's shirt chewing. Thanks!


Sugar.

Who knew that five little letters could wreck such havoc?

As I've mentioned before, Noah has a terrible shirt chewing habit. I can't quite remember when it all started, but we all noticed that it STOPPED completely when we were in Austin. The only thing that was really different was his diet - since we were living out of a hotel for a week. When we got home, we racked our brains to figure out what it was.... what food triggered Noah' s shirt chewing.

We were home about 2 days when Noah started chewing again. Agave Nectar. Sim had put agave nectar on Noah's waffles. We took the agave nectar out of his diet and the next day, the chewing decreased. A few days later, I gave him a peanut butter and jelly rice cake. He started shirt chewing. It had to have been the jelly.. which goes to show that just because it's organic or natural doesn't mean it's good for you. So, we took that out of his diet and then today... well, let's just say I had a weak moment. Noah had his first ever donut today. I have no idea what possessed me to buy a donut, except that they were calling my name from behind the glass case. And I was hungry.. and I completely caved. Guess what Noah's doing right now? (Oh, and he scarfed the donut down in 5 seconds flat). He's chewing up his $15.00 Mardel shirt that I bought the other day.

I'm feel so defeated. I'm glad we've found the culprit, but I hate having to do the sugar-free diet again. Granted, we try to stay away from high fructose corn syrup and things (well, Eli gets lots of the forbidden treats) and we use either sugar substitutes, like agave nectar, or only use organic sugar, but I think we're just going to have to go cold-turkey and completely wipe all forms of sugar out of the house. Hey, maybe I can finally lose those 10 pounds I've been trying 4 years to lose. Glass half-full. Glass half-full. (Christine, I think I'm going to have to read the Feast without Yeast book).

It's also really wild to see how quickly Noah's behavior changed after inhaling the donut. Within 3 minutes he was whiny and weepy. He started banging on the fridge and throwing himself on the kitchen floor and rolling around and whining. I cannot believe I did that to him.

We have friends coming up from Irving today. They'll be here in about an hour and I'm so mad at myself right now. I've been bragging about how much progress Noah has made and they're really anxious to see it. They have a 6 year old son with autism, too, and I really wanted them to see how much Noah has changed since they last saw him. And it only took 5 seconds to completely ruin it all. Aaargh. Lesson learned. Lesson seriously learned.

Noah's Mom

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Autism and Vaccines - Part Two

Okay, so this is not going to become a blog about vaccines, but with all the buzz being created by my new favorite person - Jenny McCarthy - people are starting to pay attention.

This is a post that refutes the CDC study that vaccines play no part in autism. Wow. I had no idea that the people in the original thimerosal test study in the 1930's were all dead by the end of the study. Wouldn't that make you go... hmmmmmm?? But somehow it's okay to put it in our vaccines? Oh, and isn't it odd that the person in charge of the study is a vaccine patent holder himself and on the advisory committee for childhood vaccines?

Like I said, I am PRO-vaccination. Vaccines are good. They're life-saving. I am all for wiping out serious disease. But please take the junk out of them. Please acknowledge that not all kids can handle them. Like Dr. Kartzinel said on Larry King last night.. if you give every child in the world a cat, some will be fine and some will be allergic. All kids are different. It's not a one-size fits all solution.

Take for example preemies. Everyone says that preemies must get vaccinated because they're at a higher risk for getting sick. Why? Because their immune systems are normally compromised... so the doctors say they need to be immunized. But vaccines don't account for weight. If the vaccine dose was developed based around a healthy 8 pound baby (just my speculation), why does the 3 or 4 lb preemie get the same dose? You have a baby with a weakened immune system getting double the amount of vaccine - and their body is not developed enough to handle it. Is this why preemies are at a higher risk for developing autism? And we're not talking thimerosal here. Take thimersosal out of the equation and you still have aluminum, formaldehyde, aborted fetal tissues, MSG, etc going into premature infants. Noah's vax's had thimerosal in them. And his pediatrician didn't trust his vaccines from India. so he was RE-VACCINATED. He was a 4lb preemie who only weighed 4.9lbs at 3 months old. We brought him home at 10.5 months, weighing 11 lbs and wearing size 0-3 clothing. And he was re-vaccinated and then vaccinated again to catch up to the CDC schedule.

I'm not saying don't vaccinate, but maybe it's worth waiting until the child's immune system is fully developed. Maybe it's worth doing a delayed vaccine schedule.

Anyway, here's the article I was talking about:

http://www.rescuepost.com/rescue_post/2007/09/again-a-study-s.html

And that's it from me. I'm not going to write about this repeatedly, but it is food for thought. All this recent autism chat in the news has gotten my blood boiling. No one is saying that vaccines CAUSE autism. We're saying they trigger it in some kids. I'm saying it triggered in my kid. That's all.

On, and if you want a fun, interesting, yeah!-someone-took-all-my-thoughts-and-put-them-in-a-book, then you should check out Jenny's book on autism, "Louder Than Words". Go Jenny! Go!

Noah's Mom

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autism and Vaccines

Okay, I'm not a confrontational or even a controversial person. Now, I can stand my ground, and I do turn into a Mama Bear when it comes to my kids - but I'm not some hot-head who likes to stir the pot. So, having said that, I think it's worth looking at the full-page ad that Generation Rescue put in USA Today this morning.

http://www.generationrescue.org/pdf/070626.pdf

It shows you just how many vaccines children under the age of 6 were receiving in 1983 versus how many they are receiving today. In 1983, by the time a child reached 6 years of age, s/he would have received 10 vaccinations. Today, in 2007, that number increases to 36. What gives?

I am NOT anti-vaccine. Please understand that. But I am for a delayed vaccine schedule. I think doctors should give one vaccine at a time and monitor individual response. I'm also against what the manufactures put in vaccines.

Even though thimerosal is "supposedly" no longer in vaccines (except for the flu shot - it is still in the flu shot, but you can request a thimerosal free shot), did you know the DPT shot has formaldehyde and aluminum in it? Did you know the Merck MMR and Varicella shots have aborted fetal tissue in them (and MSG)? And that the flu shot is made up partly from chicken embryos? It's gross, isn't it? I mean, there has got to be some way that the shots can be administered and still be effective without having all this junk in them - and without so many at a time. Is it really necessary to have diploid cells from an aborted baby in our vaccines?

So, I know that most people think... well autism and vaccines hasn't been proven. But it is interesting to see the rise in autism (1 in 150 and steadily rising)... and that it just so happens to correlate with the increase in the amount of vaccines our children are receiving. But let's also not forget all the other junk that has come about or become more popular in in the last 25 years... microwaves, cell phones, computers, laptops (all sorts of things that have electromagnetic waves), high fructose corn syrup, genetically modifed foods, meat with antibiotics and growth hormones, food dyes, etc. And what about all the toxins in the air we breathe? I grew up in Midlothian, where TXI and Chapparel Steel fill the sky with polluted smoke. I cannot tell you how many people in that town have had miscarriages or how many kids living there have asthma. Health problems are on the rise.

So take all these toxins in our food and in our air and couple it with 36 vaccines (that also contain toxins) and a possible genetic component and it's a recipe for disaster.

Whew. Had to get that off my chest.

Noah's Mom

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We're Back from Austin!

Yea! We're back! Wow, what a week. I know there's no way I can do this post justice. I wish I could just videotape myself talking and put it on here. There's no way my fingers can type as fast as my brain is thinking.

I'll get all the frou-frou stuff out of the way first.

Eli was NOT impressed with Sea World. Hmmm... aren't we glad we didn't splurge on going to Disney? He was scared of the rides, did not want to get wet, and had a fit when we tried to get him to see the sharks. Apparantely, he didn't like that it was dark in the shark exhibit. Okay, so this is a child who has gone to either the zoo or the aquarium nearly every single WEEK for the last two years.... and he's scared of the sharks?? Oh, and we missed Shamu because I wanted to save it for it last and then got the time wrong... even though it clearly said 4:00 in the guide that I had in the stroller. The poor guard guy or whoever he was was kind enought to let us watch the whales swim in the water as the rest of the audience - who had Mommy's that could actually tell time - filed out of the arena saying, "Wow, wasn't that amazing?" and other things that made me cringe and avoid making eye contact with Simeon.

Then we went to Austin, where Eli did NOT want to see the bats. Guess what? Oh yeah, that's right. He was scared of the bats... until they pooped on me. Then, he thought they were hysterical. How is it that I was the only one who got pooped on? So, ever since we got home, he has been flying his pretend bats (oh yeah, he has toy bats) and making them pretend poop on my head. Classic.

Okay, so on to the good stuff. Noah was AWESOME. He just blows my mind. I don't even know how to comprehend what Soma was able to get him to do. The first time we went (back in June), Noah wasn't able to answer any questions unless they were held right up in front of his eyes. By the 2nd day of the camp, he was able to hold a pencil and mark the correct answer on a table. I couldn't believe it. Now, it's not pretty or smooth or anything like that. Sometimes, we have to prompt him to answer 12 times or more. And his muscle control is very weak - he wants to drop the pencil or eat it or roll it between his thumb and his forefinger - and it takes enormous effort for him to move his arm away from his chest and out towards the paper. The brain signals in his head are definitely wired differently. But something is kicking in and he chooses the correct answer each time.

So, anyway, Soma would read books to Noah and then he would answer the questions by choosing between two written answers. I know it probably doesn't sound so convincing since he only has to choose between two answers, but he gets the answer right every time - so he either knows his stuff or is a really good guesser. (He knows his stuff). His motor skills are so poor, though, that it'll take time to build it up to choosing between more answers - although he's chosen between three a few different times with me. Eventually over the next 2 or 3 years, he'll progress to typing and writing. Can you imagine?? And he should be doing grade level coursework.

That's what floors me. On the 3rd day, Noah picked that he wanted to talk about body parts. So, Soma would touch his elbow and ask what she just touched - and he would answer correctly. She did it all the way down to his toes. Well, that's when THE LIGHT BULB went off in my head. Oh my goodness. All this time, one of the "tests" of Noah's intelligence was whether he could point to his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth .We used to work hours on this. I STILL work on this. And because he could never touch his eyes or his nose, he was labeled "stupid", "retarded", "cognitively delayed". Yet here he was, telling Soma that he knew exactly where his nose was ... his belly... his shoulder... and his knees. So, all along, because he couldn't get his brain to tell his pointer finger to isolate his nose and touch it... people thought he didn't know. But he did. And that's the key. He KNOWS. Kids with autism KNOW. They just can't tell you in the way you want to hear it.

And I just got so emotional right then because I realized that my beautiful little SMART boy was doomed to spend the next 12 years languishing in a Life Skills class where they would teach him "life" skills like washing his hands and eating from a fork.... and his brain, which is actively learning, would turn to mush. True, we've made the decision to homeschool... but the reality of what his educational future nearly was just about killed me. And I thought about all these kids who are deemed "unteachable" and how they are being babied and talked down to when they have the ability to learn right alongside their peers. And how many children are labeled MR and are being silenced in institutions where they will never have a chance for someone to hear their voice? And, you know what? Noah might not ever be potty-trained or eat with a fork or be able to stand in line and wait his turn... but it doesn't mean he's dumb. His brain can't control his body. His body betrays his brain, but he's not dumb - and it's terrible that his intelligence
is/was determined by his ability to stand on one foot or wave bye-bye.

And that's what Soma did for us. Noah has always had a voice. We just didn't know how to hear it. By making choices, he was able to tell me that he wants a Cars Birthday cake and a toy train. He "wrote" a letter to Simeon and told him that his favorite color was orange and that he likes it when Simeon plays with him. With me, just this afternoon, he wrote a letter to my mom and said he likes it when she swings him on the front porch and that he thinks her smile is pretty. And when we were in Austin, Soma started Noah on subtraction. He can now add any number up to 10 and is learning to subract 1 and 2. He picked up the substraction within about 30 seconds. I'm serious.

So, I'm just really thrilled. It's still hard because he doesn't want to work with me. I'm Mom, not Teacher. (Although he'd better get used to the Mom as Teacher part). He's definitely testing me and it's very hard for him to hold the pencil. He reminds me a bit of Norman Bates and the shower scene in Pyscho. He holds the pencil in his fist, raises it above his head and stabs at the paper. (Hey boy! What did that paper ever do to you!). Makes me realize Sim was right when he said we can't buy a new kitchen table until after the kids are grown. We have pencil stab marks all over the place now.

I'm also not quite confident in displaying Noah's talents until he gets used to working with me. I'd hate for you all to think this is a bunch of phooey. But I know with all my heart this is the way to go. I met a mom online whose 15 year old nonverbal son saw Soma for the first time in June. The school had him doing preschool stuff in Life Skills. Since June, she started homeschooling and he's already half-way through the 3rd grade Abeka book. In 3 months! Another child had his IEP goal of being able to recognize 4 numbers by the end of the year. That was it. Recognize 4 numbers. Hold up a 6 and have the kid touch a card that had "6" on it. With in 3 months of going to HALO, he was doing pre-calculus. It's not that Soma taught him pre-cal, but that she gave the parents the right tools to communicate with their son. The knowledge and ability to learn is there... you just have to know who to get it out.

So, there you have it. I'm terribly excited. Noah seems excited although he can only handle about 20 minutes at a time. I never really realized how his CP affects him. I just always focused on the autism... so we do have some challenges ahead of us, but I'm just so thankful that God led us in this direction.

Take care.
Noah's Mom

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Headed to Austin

It is 11:45pm and the alarm is set to go off at 4:00 o'clock. And what am I doing? Sitting here blogging.

But I can always sleep in the car, so it's okay.

We are headed to Austin tomorrow via Sea World. Eli turns 4 on Monday and he's been begging us to go to Sea World for the last 9 months. I think he saw a commercial about it or something and that's all it took. At least we got him to quit talking about Disney World. Honestly, I think he just wants to go somewhere that ends in "World". I once told him that we were going to Wally World (Walmart) and he got SO excited. And he didn't even care when we pulled into the Walmart parking lot. It had the word "World" at the end of it - so that's all that mattered.

He is terribly excited. I have a feeling we will be hearing about his excitement for the entire 5 hours it takes to get down there. Sim and I will be half-dead and Eli will be a ball of energy. But it'll be cool. It's always cool to see these things through your child's eyes.

So, then tomorrow night we're headed to Austin, where we'll stay for the rest of the week. Noah will be going to this autism camp at HALO. I.Cannot.Wait. I'm so excited for Simeon to see how awesome Noah does when he's with Soma. I think it's going to blow his socks off and just really make him see Noah in a different light. I'm not sure how Sim handles the whole autism thing. He's the strong, silent type. I more than make up for his silence by yapping away every chance I get. Everyone knows my ups and downs with autism, but Sim is just very quiet and keeps to himself. But I do think it's hard for him... and I just think he's going to be blown away when he sees Noah's potential. I know he knows this whole thing is really important to Noah because he ended up selling his motorcycle to pay for the trip - which was a huge deal and completely his idea. So, it's going to be really amazing to see what all happens.

Anyway, it's really cool how the whole camp thing worked out. We were originally planned to go at the end of October - which was great. We booked back in February and the end of Oct was the earliest they had available. No problem. However, Nandini's papers got pushed through faster than we thought. The judge granted us verbal guardianship (yea!) and although there's a few more steps involved, we should be able to travel next month. Well, that put a kink in our plans. Soma is now booked up a year in advance and if we cancelled, we were out of our money and out of luck.

Well, the day after the found out about Nandini's verbal guardianship, we got a call from HALO. We hadn't talked to them, so they had no idea that we were going to cancel. I'm not even sure if they know we're adopting - so it was completely a random call. Well, they had a family scheduled to go to camp this coming week, but they couldn't make it. So HALO wanted to know if we'd be interested in switching camps. Isn't that amazing? I mean, God really took care of this for us. It was just so unreal to be crying about cancelling the camp one night and then wake up in the morning to find out that another family wanted to switch dates with us. It was just such an incredible experience.

So, here we are... about to embark on an amazing journey for Noah and for us. I cannot wait to see what Soma gets Noah to do. She is just fantastic with him. I think it's going to be a great week. We're going to Sea World. We'll spend a week at HALO. We're going to go to Lake Travis every day to swim (Noah LOVES the water). We're going to see the bats out of the bridge on Congress. I can't wait.

Okay, enough with the blogging. The alarm is going off in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Momma needs to get to bed.

I hope everyone has a good week - and can't wait to catch up when we get back.

Noah's Mom

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Discovering Mardel

I am not that hard to please. Just give me a wad of cash and point me in the direction of the nearest SuperTarget and I will remain on a marvelous high for at least 2 weeks. But today, I discovered something even better. I went into Mardel Christian Bookstore for the very first time.

I am majorly in love.

I LOVE IT!

It weren't for the fact that the kids were getting antsy and I did not (in fact, never) have a fat wad of cash on me, I would have happily stayed there until they kicked me out at closing. What an awesome place. A homeschoolin' mom's place of paradise. If you could see me typing this, you would witness firsthand the goofy grin I have on my face as I'm remembering my journey into the wonderful world that is Mardel. (Insert big, fat, happy sigh).

A friend suggested that I buy "The Power of the Praying Parent", so when we had a few hours to kill between therapy appts today, I stopped off in Mesquite, pushed my buggy through the door and instantly became a kid in a candy store.

I completely forgot to buy the book I came in for. The one reason I stopped. But I did get Eli an awesome T-shirt that says, "On the 6th day, God created the dinosaurs" and it has a big, fierce picture of T-Rex on it. He loves it. Noah got a nice train shirt that has a bible verse on it and we carried out a shopping cart full of bargain books. I LOVE books and cannot control myself when I enter a bookstore. I was telling Jamie (Trushna's mom) that I have spent so much in bookstores since we started homeschooling that I think Sim is going to fax my picture to all the local stores with the words "Do Not Sell Anything To This Woman!!" written underneath it.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I maintain my own personal and private Paypal card. My little (and emphasis on little... more like microscopic) nest egg that I can spend on whatever I want without feeling guilty. And it all goes to the kids anyway, so it's not that bad.

After cavorting in paradise, we then went to Old Navy to look for new shirts for Noah. He has chewed holes in the neck of all his T-shirts except for two and with those, he's sucked the dye right out of them. It looks as gross as it sounds. But they didn't have any good T-shirts on sale and I didn't really want to spend a fortune on shirts that are going to be chewed like a dog toy. But I did get 2 because it's gotten to the point where I can't ethically dress him in holey shirts and then venture out into public.

They also had their Halloween costumes on sale, so Eli got a dragon one and Noah got a lion. He didn't have a choice... that's all they had in a size 4/5T - except for a skunk and I didn't really want to dress him like a skunk... .although he is a little stinker. Ba-Bing! Bet ya didn't see that one coming! lol. So right now, Eli is watching TV with his extremely hot dragon costume on. We have the air off, the windows open, and the fans on, but he firmly attached to his costume and refuses to take it off. He's really into dress-up, though. We have a trunk full of old Halloween costumes and he's parading in an ape costume, Sully costume, or knight costume (and others) for at least 5 hours a day. Hey... feed the imagination, I say.

So that's it. I'm extremely happy right now because the kids are happy and I discovered my fave new store. We've got some super new bedtime books to read now and the kids are all decked out in their Jesus shirts.

Bliss.

Noah's Mom

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Still Sick

Noah is STILL sick. It's been going on for over a week now. Low grade fever. Bad tummy. I have no idea what it is. He seems to be feeling okay - wants to watch videos and swing. But he wasn't too interested in jumping on the trampoline last night. And he's been up since waayyyy before dawn. He's drinking a lot, but not eating too much (unless, of course, I give him a bunch of potato chips. Then, all of a sudden, he's made a miraculous recovery. Sneaky little thing).

He also has a TON of fire ants bites. Poor kid. We decided to go for a wagon ride the other day and he didn't want to get in the wagon. He just stood there whining. We kept saying, "Just get in. It's okay, get in." But he wouldn't. He just kept whining. Finally, Sim picked him up to put him in the wagon and we noticed that his poor little shoes, his leg, and his pants were COVERED in fire ants. That's when he let loose with the screaming. And the thing with Noah is that a bite on him is different than a bite on anyone else because of the whole abscess-developing-thingamajig that he has going on. A simple mosquito bite develps into a full-blown pus filled abscess. Blech. So you can imagine all the little things that have developed on his ankles and his leg. And... he has recurring MRSA Staph which we have to watch like a hawk. We have to be really careful and constantly sanitize his hands. If we touch him, we have to sanitize ours. Wash the sheets and towels each morning in hot water. Now we're on double-time, hoping that the bites go away without an infection getting into his muscle and his bloodstream. Anyway, I wonder if that's why he's still feeling bad. Maybe the other thing was just a virus and now his fever and tummy ache are from all the bites? Who knows? It's tough being Sherlock Holmes 24/7 - oh, and without Sherlock's pay. lol.

We're off to my parent's house to get their magic Emu Oil potion.

We are a bunch of nuts. lol.

Noah's Mom

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Baby Jane Doe

I am so sad right now. I can't explain it. My heart just aches.

I had mentioned a few posts ago that my brother and SIL were trying to adopt a baby, who is the biological sister of the little girl they adopted a year ago. The birth mother has been on heroin for 9 solid months, so this baby would definitely be born addicted. For 5 months, they've been getting the run around. Well, the baby is due any day now and we found out today that she already had the baby earlier this week and the hospital let her take it home!! Are they insane??? For pete's sake, what were they thinking? She had her last 5 kids all at the same hospital, so they tested Alaina (my niece) right off the bat for drugs. This is a new hospital and all I can think is that they didn't test her. I don't know. Is drug testing routine for all newborns? I just cannot understand how they let that baby go home with the birthparents.

Let me give you a bit of background though, so you'll understand why I'm so mad. The BM (birthmother) has been on heroin for 9 months. This is her 6th child. She doesn't have custody of any of them. Alaina (my niece) was born with meth in her system. The BF (birthfather) is wanted on several different charges for drug dealing and has been to prison many times. His wife (yes, he's married) is currently in jail for prostitution. His 17 year old daughter fatally shot another girl last summer (it was ruled an accident... but who knows). They all currently live with the BF's mother, who has breast cancer and is in no shape to take care of anyone. The BM, though, is completely and totally avoiding her uncle... .the person who has been trying to faciliate the adoption and the only sane one in the bunch. We found out through the BF's sister that the baby was born. Oh, and that "the baby cries all the time". Uh, yeah, it cries all the time. It's addicted to heroin!! Ugh! I'm so disgusted by the whole thing.

I'm just frustrated and I'm trying not to be. But what kind of life is this baby going to have? Has she been to the hospital (since the birth)? Is she receiving treatment? Probably not. If so, CPS would have taken her (the baby) away by now. I think they're trying do it on their own. And I'm really scared about shaken baby syndrome. I'm scared to death they're going to lose their patience with her and shake her. They're just such shady characters. This innocent little baby is going to be caught up in this vicious cycle.

I'm sure some of you may be asking why don't we call CPS? Well, the birth parent's number has been disconnected. They move from place to place. When the uncle went to the last address he had (the grandmother's), he was told they weren't there anymore. He went to the aunt's and was told the same thing. It's all secret. And without a number or an address you can't do anything.

I am upset that my brother and SIL didn't get to adopt her. But the main thing is that I'm just so sad for this little baby. I'm sad that she's going to be raised in a house full of drug addicts. I'm sad that it's unlikely that she'll ever know anything different. And I'm sad that she might grow up to do the exact same thing. I just don't understand some people. I really don't.

So, if you could spare a prayer for Baby Jane Doe, I'd really appreciate it. I just pray that God watches over her and protects her and allows for her to come through all of this in one piece. I hope she's one of the ones that can overcome her environment - that she will be a survivor.

Thanks for listening.

Noah's Mom

Eli's Joke

So, we're laying in Noah's bed last night reading a book. Eli picked out "MONSTERS: The World's Most Incredible Animals", which, amazingly enough, did not give him nightmares (although I had visions of the absolutely terrifying hatchet fish all night long - go figure). Anyway, Eli suddenly says:

"Mom, did you know I'm a vegetarian?"
"You are?"
"Yeah, I don't eat Whataburger. I eat WhataBOOGERS!" heeeheeheeeeheeee

He totally cracked himself up. And I cracked up. And Sim cracked up. Even Noah started laughing.

Ahhh, the world of a 3 year-old. Never a dull moment.

Noah's Mom

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Autism Church

Weird title, right?

Where do I begin? Well, first of all maybe I should explain what I'm doing writing about church on a Sunday at 10:25 in the morning. Shouldn't I be at church? Yeah, I should. But Noah's sick and Sim is working, so I'm here... sitting at my computer.... writing about church on a Sunday morning.

For a long time, we didn't go to church. It was just too difficult with Noah. In the beginning, when he was little, it was just too hard for me to see other kids his age and watch them progress, while Noah was regressing before my eyes. Then... he went through the Shrieking-Screaming-15 Hours-A-Day phase and we didn't really leave the house for a long time. Then we went a few times to a few good churches but we always stopped going. I would be afraid that Noah would have a BM in Sunday school and I didn't want anyone changing him. Or what if they whipped out the goldfish crackers and he grabbed a few? Would the other kids make fun of him? Would he be a distraction? Would the teachers dread seeing Noah's footsteps darken the door? Would they be relieved when we didn't show up? I was just so worried about what everyone else thought - and plus, it was just really hard. Not everyone is welcoming of a child with special needs - especially one who spins in circles, flaps his hands, and makes weird sounds with his mouth. Some churches actually believe kids with autism are possessed. Some are scared of kids/people who are different. You don't realize this world exists until you live it.

Fortunately, we've found a wonderful church in our town. I still let my paranoia get the best of me and end up spending most of the time in the nursery/toddler room with Noah. He can't sit still for long. But while I'm lucky to finally find a place, there are families all over the world who don't go to church for the reasons I mentioned above. It is RARE to be welcomed. It really is. And I know that I could not have made it - still can't make it through a day - without God to turn to. Absolutely no way. So what do you do when you can't find a church?

You go to www.childrenofdestiny.org . It is what's kept me afloat these last few years. It's the website of two ordained ministers who have a son with autism. They have truly turned their experience into a positive one. Every day, they send positive scripture and a message to help you get through the day. And every Sunday, they broadcast what I call "Autism Church". It's a regular sermon, but is very laid back and very much for the layperson - which is what I need. You can listen online (it's about 30 minutes) or read the week's sermon online - but it's a way to still go to church if you can't make it - and it's done my people who know exactly what you're going through.

Today's sermon is about Hearing God. It's only recently that I've truly heard God speak to me. All this time, I prayed and prayed... but was always looking for the answer that I wanted to hear. Oddly enough, I never heard God reply. Oh yeah, I always THOUGHT he was telling me to do things... but in retrospect, it was really just what I wanted. And I always ended up crashing and burning.

I look back at all the things we did with Noah and all the things we could have done. Now I can see that all along God was telling me things - and since it wasn't what I wanted to hear, I didn't listen.

Thing are going so well with Noah right now. Not perfect. Not extraordinary. But well - and we feel a peace about it. And guess what? The things we're doing now.... homeschool, homeopathy, the Listening Program, OT, and HALO (the RPM therapy in Austin) are things that I learned about (repeatedly) 2 years ago!! Some I even learned about 4 years ago. And our homeopath... who is in Washington and who I love dearly and who has really helped us out so much... guess what? I road the airport bus sitting next to him and conversing with him over TWO years ago at a conference in St. Louis. And for an entire year before that, I kept reading great things about him. And when did we start seeing him? About 6 months ago. God planted the seed to homeschool in my heart about 4 years ago... and I've spent 4 years researching it (which doesn't explain why my first day of homeschool was such a disaster... but I digress). After 3 years of public school (some great experiences, some downright terrible - that Noah's still paying for) and we've brought him home. And he's doing great.

So the key is... listen to God. Let go and Let God. But how??

Read below...

Hope you all have a great and blessed Sunday.

Noah's Mom

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Current Inspirational Topic
(Note: The following message is a companion article to a message which aired on Autism One Radio. To hear the broadcast at any time, please go to:http://autismone.org/radio/?archive=1641&bg=&FromA1 and click on the arrow next to “Listen to Jack and Rebecca Sytsema.”)

HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD

(Jesus speaking…) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27, NIV)

WHEN WE THINK ABOUT IT, prayer is an amazing thing. Through prayer, we are able to communicate with God, Himself. When we pray, the Divine Creator of the universe is listening to us as we present the deepest cries of our hearts to Him. But as we are praying, are we also listening to Him? Have you ever considered that prayer is actually a two-way conversation, and that He has something to say back to you? God is indeed speaking back to us, although we may not be recognizing it as God because we are not accustomed to hearing His voice.
Some may be wondering if there is any truth to that statement. Consider the fact that throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, God spoke to His people often. He spoke to the kings, the judges, the prophets, the shepherds, and the disciples. He spoke to old and young alike. He spoke to those in powerful positions, and to those with no social status. He spoke to the righteous and the sinner. From Genesis to Revelation, God was speaking to all kinds of people.

There is absolutely no Scripture in the Bible which even suggests that God stopped speaking when the last word of the Bible was written. Throughout the ages, God has continued to speak to His people. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord, that includes you! He speaks direction, comfort, insight, correction, exhortation, promises and the like to His people today. “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying…” (Revelation 2:7, NLT).

WHAT PREVENTS US FROM HEARING GOD?

We firmly believe God is still communicating – or trying to communicate with His children on a regular basis. With that assumption in mind, the question often many predictably ask is, why don’t we hear Him more often? One reason is that we may not recognize how the Lord is attempting to speak. A bit later in this article, we will give several possible ways to hear from God. The other main reason for not hearing the Lord in our lives is that we may be dealing with issues in our lives that do not prevent Him from speaking, but can prevent us from hearing and receiving His voice. Here is a list of five possible issues (this list has been adapted from Marilyn Willett Heavilin’s book, “I’m Listening, Lord”):

1. DISTRACTIONS

Have you ever found it difficult to pray, or, once you set your mind to it you become bored and distracted? We often miss what God may be trying to say to us simply because we are unable to focus on Him. If we are having a phone conversation with someone while trying to do three other things, chances are we won’t have absorbed all of the conversation. This is one of the reasons that we are exhorted by Scripture to meditate on God and His Word. If we can find a strategy to minimize our distractions, we may be amazed to hear God speaking to us.

2. DISAPPOINTMENT

When we feel God has somehow disappointed us, it can be very difficult to hear Him, or even to want to hear Him. Disappointment can become a barrier. But King David gives us an excellent example of how to handle disappointment with God. He was not reluctant to tell God of his frustration and discouragement. Rather than become silent before God, he told the Lord just how he felt. I encourage you to do the same thing. If you’re disappointed with God, say so. He wants to talk with you no matter what it is you have to say.

3. DISCONNECTION

Sometimes we can feel disconnected or distant from God because of something we have done. Sin in our lives can have a powerful disconnecting effect that causes us not to hear God’s voice. We recently focused a radio program and article on this topic. If you feel disconnected from God because of unresolved sin in your life, I urge you click here to go to the article and radio program in order to help you deal with it so the channels between you and God are once again clear.

4. DISINFORMATION

Often as Christians we look to our churches and our colleagues to build our theology rather than basing our doctrinal stand on what God’s Word says. This is why many have come to believe that God does not speak to His children today—not because of anything the Bible has said, but because of disinformation they have received somewhere along the line. God has given us His Word and His promises, and He expects us to check our decisions and our beliefs with Scripture so that we will not get tripped up with disinformation. We are always correct to ask God to renew our minds so they conform to Him rather than to the beliefs of the world (see Romans 2:12).

5. DISBELIEF

Many cannot and will not hear the voice of God in their lives because they simply do not believe. They may have come to salvation, and may even pray from time to time, but they really expect little or nothing to come of it. If we truly believed that every time we pray, God—who has control of everything in and around—not only will listen to us, but desires to converse with us, we would pray every chance we get. But often, because we don’t see immediate or what we consider to be adequate answers to our prayers, we fall into disbelief. But, we must remember that we serve an all-powerful, all-knowing God that we can trust to give us the very best in spite of what we ask for, or in spite of how we interpret His answer. If we have fallen into disbelief, our first prayer back toward God should be, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NIV).

SOME WAYS WE HEAR GOD’S VOICE

As I mentioned earlier, it may be none of these five issues that keep us from hearing God. Some are not hearing Him because they do not recognize how He speaks. We may be hearing Him, but have not learned to perceive His voice. To perceive means to take hold of, feel, comprehend, grasp mentally, recognize, observe or discern. Learning to perceive God’s voice and acting upon it is a key to living a successful Christian life.

So, how does God speak to us? Hearing the voice of God is not as difficult as many might think. There are several ways. While this list is not exhaustive, it shows some of the ways God speaks to His people today (portions of the following list have been adapted from Leanne Payne’s “Listening Prayer”):

1. THE BIBLE

The first and foremost way we hear God speak to us is through the Bible—Holy Scripture which is His written revelation to humanity. When reading the Bible, has a verse ever just seemed to jump off the page? When that happens, it is often God communicating a particular truth to us for our particular situation. We should never underestimate the power of Scripture as an instrument of God to speak to us in a personal way. In fact, the Bible is our litmus test for any other kind of revelation we feel we are receiving. If we think we have heard God, but what we are hearing contradicts the Bible in any way, you can be sure it’s not God’s voice you are hearing! Powerful as the Bible is, however, many today make the mistake of saying that God ONLY speaks to us through the Scriptures. Even though revelation must align with the principles in the Bible, there are other ways God speaks today.

2. GOD’S STILL, SMALL VOICE

When God speaks to us in this way, we just know that we know something is right. We have a strong feeling to move ahead in one direction, or we find an issue in our heart has been settled, and the answer is clear to us. Some may call this intuition, or even a “sixth sense,” but it is often an inaudible voice of God speaking directly into our spirit.

3. OTHER PEOPLE

God can and often does speak a very direct word to us through other people. Some biblical examples of this are: King David expresses, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2, NIV). “But men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, NIV). This can happen not only in preaching and teaching we receive, but also in conversations we have. When the Lord uses someone to speak His words to you, they hit you in a deep and profound way—like someone turning on the lights in the midst of darkness.

4. GOD’S CREATION

“For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, NIV). Have you ever felt the presence of God in a sunset, a flower, or even a raging thunderstorm? At times great beauty in nature or even in a moral truth can be a vehicle for a direct word from God. In the Bible, we see He used a rainbow as a sign of His covenant with Noah. He used dew on a fleece to help guide Gideon. He caused a fig tree that did not bear fruit to wither and die. The righteousness He makes available to us is likened throughout Scripture to white snow. If we take the time to stop and look around us, we may be surprised to find that God is speaking through His creation.

5. DREAMS AND VISIONS

“‘We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’ Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams’” (Genesis 40:8, NIV). We see many biblical examples of God speaking to His people in dreams and visions. He spoke to Joseph, Solomon, Pharaoh, many prophets and kings, and Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) by this means. Joel 2:28 says, “afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. …Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” God still speaks through dreams today. If you awake from a dream that seems unusually vivid and very real, you may want to ask the Lord if He is trying to speak something to you through that dream.

6. EXPERIENCES

Sometimes referred to as a “religious experience,” there may be times when God speaks to you through a very specific incident. Sometimes this happens in prayer at home. Sometimes this happens when we respond to an alter call. Often this will occur when people first become saved. When God speaks to us through a specific experience, we will be able to point back to that moment in time as a benchmark for a shifting in our lives.

7. ANGELS

All throughout the Bible, God sent angels as His messengers to speak to something to His people. This method of communication is still one He chooses to use from time to time, and one that we cannot discount. One day God may surprise you!

8. AUDIBLE VOICE

While this is relatively rare, there are times when God chooses to speak in an audible voice. He did so in young Samuel’s life as well as to many others in the Bible. Once again, this is not something to dismiss as impossible. Genesis tells us that it was by His audible voice that God created all of heaven, earth, and every creature that has breath. Can God not use that same voice to speak to His creation?

Our prayer for you and your family is that you would hear the voice of the Good Shepherd clear and strong in days ahead.

With blessings,Jack and Rebecca Sytsema

©2007, Children of Destiny. All rights reserved.

To receive each new topic via email as it becomes available, please send an emailto us at prayer@childrenofdestiny.org. To view the Scripture Guide, please scroll down.

HEARING THE VOICE OF GODSCRIPTURE GUIDE

Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying…(Revelation 2:7, NLT)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.(John 10:27, NIV)

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.(John 10:3-4, NIV)

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.(Revelation 3:20, NIV)

As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."(Hebrews 3:15, NIV)

Afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. …Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.(Joel 2:28, NIV)

God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.(Job 37:5, NIV)

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"(Psalm 29:3-9, NIV)

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"(Isaiah 6:8, NIV)

And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."(Luke 3:22, NIV)

I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.(John 5:25, NIV)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

New Pictures



We finally have some new pictures to share. We haven't had a studio (i.e. Walmart) picture done in two years. Hmmm... now I remember why. It's the most stressful thing ever! It is impossible to get both of those boys to look at the camera and smile at the same time. Noah was really chewing the top of his shirt that day. We had to keep running over and yanking it out of his mouth. By the time we got out of the way, he was chomping on it again. And Eli decided it would be fun to make faces at the camera... and then when he saw how it riled me up, he thought it'd be fun to continue doing it. I think he enjoyed seeing my face turn all shades of red. By the end, I think I could've used a good dose of some strong prescription medication. So, we've learned that the way to go is to do separate photos. We can get them each to smile and look at the camera separately, but having to coordinate it together takes the skills and agility of an Olympic athlete.

We also have a new picture of Nandini, courtesy of one of the moms who travelled to India a few weeks ago. Isn't she cute??? I cannot wait to bring her home. The anticipation is killing me.








I have some updates to post later, but we've got to make a grocery store run. Going to Walmart in our town is a feat in itself... but doing it on a weekend... oh man. It's a whole different story.
Noah's Mom