The Wondrous Love of God

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul? What wondrous love is this, O my soul? What wondrous love is this, That caused the Lord of bliss,To bear the dreadful curse for my soul; To bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing; To God and to the Lamb, I will sing; To God and to the Lamb Who is the great I am, While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing; while millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on; And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be, And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on! And through eternity, I’ll sing on.  And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be, And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on! And through eternity, I’ll sing on.  

As I think about God’s Wondrous Love, I begin with a song. His love makes me sing and have my children sing. This video shows my son, Adam, singing the book and chapter of Psalm 139 from the ThyWord Creation series.

Video 255

His love goes beyond…to feel as His Holy Spirit breathes on my daughter in the early hours of the day, to pray, and calms her brother in Mommy and Daddy’s bed.

His love goes unselfishly to make us into His Son’s and His likeness.

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell

It goes beyond the highest star

And teaches to the lowest hell

The guilty pair bowed down with care

And God gave His Son to win

His erring child He reconciled

And pardoned from His sin

O love of God, how rich thou art

How measureless and strong

It shall for evermore endure

With saints and angel’s song

When men who here refuse to pray

When hoary times shall pass away

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall

God’s love so sure shall still endure

All measureless and strong

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race

The saints and angel’s song

Could we with ink all oceans fill

And were the skies of parchment made

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above

Would drain the oceans dry

Nor could the scroll contain the scripts

Though stretched from sky to sky

Autism: Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals for the New Year

One day I reflected on the day’s blessing, and it sparked my thoughts to my next blog: GOALS — Goals for the NEW YEAR!

That day I had no camera to take any pictures, so the picture you see is from another day. That day only marked a shadow of what I truly experienced with my son, Adam. I had made a goal for him to walk five blocks. Did he wanted to complete this? No! He would walk a few steps, then ask to go back home. With much encouragement to do “all things through Christ who strengthens us,” I got him up and led him along. Although he had some whining that came along for the walk, we managed to reach our five-block goal and back. He even became calm when I said to him, before we got almost to the end of one block, “Ok, let’s count how many foot-spans from where we are to the sign post.” So, he counted with me. He even started counted instead of whining. 

So, when we returned, I told him, “Thank you for saving me from having to call the Whaaaa-mbulance!” 🙂 He smiled! 

We all have goals, but as a mom with a much more challenged child, what can you do? When it comes to creating goals for kids with autism, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. What goals do you set out? When should they meet their goals? How can everyone work on it together? In researching, I have discovered some things that can help, and here they are.  

 

Rest assured, creating an effective goal is as simple as making sure it is a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here are simple guidelines that may help your child achieve the goals you set in place. 

Specific: It is easy to have a general goal in mind for kids with autism, such as increasing their language or self-help skills. However, general goals are hard to work on since they do not have specific behaviors that you are looking to increase. Being as specific as possible with your goal is the most effective way to ensure your child will meet their goal. 

MeasurableWhen we create a goal, we have to make sure we can measure a child’s success. If our goal isn’t measurable, we cannot accurately determine if the goal was met. The two most common ways to make goals measurable are frequency (e.g. three times per day, etc.) and accuracy (e.g. with 80% success, in four out of five opportunities, etc.). 

Attainable: Before we start working on a goal, we have to make sure it is something the child can attain, a goal they can achieve. We need to look at prerequisite skills (i.e. skills the child needs in order to achieve the current  goal). We also need to look at how realistic our goal is. We cannot expect a child to get dressed by themselves each morning if their underwear drawer is too high for them to reach. 

Relevant: Relevant goals are goals that will make a difference in the child’s life. If the goal isn’t relevant to the child, the child will not be motivated to achieve it. If a goal is determined to not be relevant to the child or the one helping teach the goal, it will need to be adjusted to become relevant. 

Time-bound: If all goals had an eternity to be achieved, there would not be a desire to teach and attain the goal in the near future. Making goals time bound ensure that the goal is mastered in a realistic time frame. Determining the timeframe of your goal should be dependent on the goal. The more challenging the goal, the longer the timeframe should be. 

Example of a SMART Goal

Your goal is to work on your child being willing to ask you for help when you are in another room. At this time, your child does not ask you for help when you are in the same room consistently. Let’s go through each criterion to make our SMART goal. 

  • Specific: Child will say “help me” while handing the object they need help with to the adult. 
  • Measurable: Four out of five opportunities. 
  • Attainable: We will first work on a situation where an adult is in the same room. 
  • Relevant: Your child frequently needs help when playing with new toys or opening and sealing food. 
  • Time-bound: Two weeks. 

As I look back at last year, I can rejoicingly say that Adam has been more specific in asking Mom and Dad for help. He has even recently asked for help — to be seen by his pediatrician — because one of his ears was hurting.  

The goals that I’ve set out for Adam this year are…. 

Specific:
  • Adam will continue to learn how to pray in the mornings by himself, with his sister, and with parents;
  • learn how to tie his shoes and sneakers;
  • learn how to make a meal;
  • do more house chores;
  • read more; and
  • memorize scripture, songs and specific hymns.  

Measurable: Four out of five opportunities. 

Attainable: We will work when adults and sister are in the same room. 

Relevant: Adam will need help when learning a new song or scripture song. He will need help when he can’t remember the steps to tie his sneakers. He will need help in knowing measurement when learning a recipe. He will need help in knowing where to clean and what to clean with. He will need help with words he does not recognize or is unable to pronounce.  

Products We Use

In order for my son to successfully work with me, I would like to share some products that my husband and I have been using and will continue to use, for we know that healing is a long process, especially when it comes to the mind, along with much prayer, patience, communication, etc.  

 

These two products we got at our local health food store. I put one tbsp of the flax oil, and one cap of the Added Attention in his orange juice. The flax oil has a different flavor that tastes like yogurt. We’ve had positive results with these two, especially the Added Attention.

Lavender oil I apply for his anxiety, in the tub, a dab behind his ears, and on his feet; and, sometimes I use the rolling pin as a relaxing sensory tool, which he loves. Sometimes his sister comes asking for rolling for her back and legs. As I am doing it, I am easing their minds with a playlist of music or talking to them in a playful matter.

This one we are just now using. Don’t really like the taste, but we are trying it out.

This one I like, although we have finished the bottle.

No matter what your goals are for your child, and what products you would like to use to accompany the work ahead, I wish for you GREAT accomplishment! Keep pressing on to “Higher Ground”! 

Does God Care About Autism?

Does God care about autism? “You may not think so” is the first thought that may come to mind!  “Why me?” you may ask. This journey has definitely gotten me to think more and more about how God really cares.

I can relate. In a Seventh-day Adventist church, you as a mom may not feel accepted because someone may stare or a negative remark may be spoken…until you get to the point that you want to go home, never to return. Oh, how I have experienced that when I would be in the children’s room at a church I used to attend; my husband and I would love being in the children’s room, but it wasn’t a sensory room per say for our son to be calm enough.  However, my husband would take Adam alone to try to get him calm in the sanctuary, leaving my daughter with me in the children’s room. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not. There was one time when my husband returned to the room and told me that a member close by him and Adam had told him to take our son outside because she couldn’t hear what was being said up front. We felt sad and just wanted to leave. How else could she have said it? Or, could she herself have moved, I thought. We moved on, left it alone, and left it to Jesus to give us a lesson to learn.

As I thought about the text John 17:3, it became clearer to my mind about three months ago. God wants to reveal himself in everyone by his son, Jesus. But, as a Christian mom with an autistic child, the task becomes even harder to get that connection started. I first needed to join myself with Him to know more about Him in His words given by His Son, His spokesman.

Parents with these children are the only spokesman they have, especially if one is non-verbal. We need to be so “plugged in” to God that Jesus, who is like our “electricity,” will help to keep the light burning once it’s lit.

Once I got myself plugged in correctly by having more time with Jesus in the morning, I was able to ignore hearing the negative responses or misunderstand notions, and ask Jesus to help me lead my son in the direction he needed to go. I came to realize that seeking to get him into a traditional Adventist church was not what I should be doing, especially as my beliefs were shifting via my studying time with my husband.

Our connection to God and to Jesus was growing and is growing in a way that we believe that God wants us to be. So, sitting in the pews as we used to do is not really a major issue anymore. We have come to the point in our life that we homechurch, and currently worship with another couple if they are available to come over to our house.

If God cares for the small sparrow, how can he not care for autism? Although this blog is trying to reach out to all families with the autism disorder, because His love is so BIG, it reaches all disorders.

Along with God’s words for comfort and hope, Steps to Christ, and Counsel on Diets and Foods, one secular book caught my attention that I love. The author is Kelly Langston, a marketing consultant and autism activist. Here is a picture of her book.

Here is the message God has for us as parents.

Your child is greatly loved by God.
Your child is greatly valued by God.
God has a wonderful purpose for your child’s life,
No less than that of any other child.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him,” Psalm 34:8.

To see His goodness in me and for my son and daughter, I invested in books that gave me a start in their connection and nearness to Christ.

These were my first investment in plugging in myself and my children to be nearer to Jesus. I can recall about six years ago, every morning writing out their memory verses that are from another book that has all the memory verses to all eight books. I don’t know if they are still in print, but the Spirit of the LORD got them to me at the right time when I needed to get the ball rolling in my children’s spiritual well-being.

With some knowledge and experiences in learning how to pray through scripture, I practiced. They would hear me pray through the scriptures, and we have prayed to someday to be awakened by them praying on their own or saying something or praying a prayer. That would bring a smile to our faces.

Scripture songs have really played a part also in seeing God’s love poured into their hearts. I recall sharing a playlist of Jack Marti’s and the Cadet Sisters from 3ABN, and after the playlist ended, Adam brought his composition book to me in the kitchen and opened a blank page to get me to write in order the ones he requested.  Talk about “orderliness” in this mental stage of his young life! I knew right then and there in the kitchen that God was in control and was in communion with him in such a miraculous way. It brought a smile to his face, and both him and his sister were so freely willing to sing from their books with joy every morning. From that day, I still have their composition books and they remember the songs. Sometime they may need my help, but the books are visible for their access.

Promise To Treasure

God’s faithfulness:  

“Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.” This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

There is a scripture song that is sung by Esther Mui that I also listen to that says, “For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” So, I needed to learn how to be faithful.

We needed to learn to trust and obey the Promise Maker. When we walk with the Lord, In the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. This is so hard for children with ADD, autism, ODD, etc., to really do if they don’t understand what it means to do it. These conditions look so different and play in so many different ways. We came to realize that if we wanted our children to trust and obey Jesus and our Father, we needed to look within ourselves to see if we are obeying his will, doing what we need to do to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. We needed to read Counsels on Diets and Foods, and watch videos of what others did in changing their children’s diet. We have now changed to a plant-base diet and eliminated foods that were bringing anxiety attacks and aggression. I was able to get three cookbooks to experiment with, two vegan and one gluten-free, and also find a liquid supplement by Buried Treasure that has helped with Adam’s alertness and awareness.

This hymn is one we would sing over and over again as a reminder to them when we are disciplining them. When they finally “get it,”  our hands are also lifted in praise to our Father.

This is when I had a part-time job, and before leaving would spend a moment outside to pray.  Here is Adam with his hands lifted while saying the “benediction, just what his Father would say” from back of the hymnal #919, Hebrews 13:20-21: Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, May you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

More Promises to Treasure

Joy, peace, hope – Romans 15:13

Competence – 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Caring and blessing – 1 Peter 5:6-7

God is on your side – Deuteronomy 1:27-31

Victory in the battles – Romans 8:37

A life for your child – Deuteronomy 30:19

Power in weakness- 2 Corinthians 12:9

There are more, but I would like for you to get the book by Langston I mentioned above, if you are able to.

There is power in weakness for sure.  For He said, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” For eight years now, I can truly say that I have been given grace and strength from the LORD, even within the hardships of the whining, screams, etc.

Here is a recent pic that I took of Adam and Naomi in the early morning, catching them in that time of quietness and time with Jesus!

Below are individual pics of ways we have used the WORD to transform them to become more Christlike.

To know God, have to know His Laws — who He is and what He said. I have found the song The Perfect 10 that they now sing now and again and love.

I love making poster boards. So I had these letters printout from a book I have in teaching autistic children how to read, and wrote out scriptures from a book compilation that I purchased from Rod and Staff.

This poster board was when I searched for scriptures to know GOD, to know Jesus, and to add scriptures to let them know that the Holy Spirit is the manifestation of Jesus.

Philippians 2:5-10 and Philippians 4:8 are other scripture songs that I have taught my children, and Matthew 1:20… this part that begins, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:20 is one of the songs from the Desire of all Nations from SonLight).

Making WarBinders was another idea that came to mind, after watching the movie “WarRoom,” and then building two different WarRooms, first in their bedroom and then the lanai.

These books by “ThyWordCreations” have also helped.

There has been several times when the Ten Commandments needed to be reminded in their behavior to bring them back to obedience and correction. So, the booklets are the “Ten Commandments” written out.

These are the Ten Commandments repeated on a gift box.

I see it now that, while I am doing all I can here at home, being inside a church will not draw them nearer to God.  It’s the “confidence of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6.

The Lord has promised good to me (you),
His word my (your) hope secures;
He will my (your) shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

May these words by John Newton, who wrote these words in the song “Amazing Grace,” bring you the assurance that Jesus, and through Him our Father, will do far more than we can ever imagine.

God bless you, and let’s lift up each other in prayer.

Praise Ye the Lord who is worthy to be PRAISED!

Autism — Scattered with Some Disappointments, Mixed with Some Bitter Tears

Disappointments. We all face them, adults and children. I’ve had to ask the question since my son’s diagnosis with autism: “How can I, his mom, and his dad help our 8-year-old handle disappointments?”

According to a blog, “My Aspergers Child,” I was recently reading, as well as my experience with my son, I’d like to share the following tips on dealing with disappointment:

1. Allow your son to make mistakes, which often leaves kids frustrated. I can probably count on two hands how many dishes and cups and glasses have been broken. With mistakes, there are successes.

2. Be understanding. Your son may not get over the disappointment immediately. This doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong, but not all kids bounce back at the same rate. Be patient and understanding and soon your son will grow to forget the disappointment itself, but your reaction to it and what he learned in the process will stay with him.

3. Give your son time and space to deal with his disappointment. Try to help your son see that this is a disappointment that may not be as serious as he thinks. Sometimes you will have to step back and direct your son to continue dealing with his disappointment in the privacy of his bedroom. After a reasonable time, check on your son — and usually you will find that he has calmed down and has put things into perspective.

I do sometimes give both him and Naomi a small cup of “calm” tea, chamomile tea, and/ or mint tea. When I give it to him, I tell him, “Here is your cup of calm!” Sometimes he many not be receptive, but there are days when he is.

4. Don’t try to fix it. This is not easy, but kids are often more resilient than we give them credit. Though children of all ages may be quick to dramatize their displeasure, most bounce right back.

5. Don’t try to save your son from disappointments. Many parents erroneously believe that, for kids, disappointment should be avoided at all costs. Everybody makes the team, everybody is included. There are several problems with this attempt to make everyone feel good about themselves. First of all, it isn’t fooling anyone. Telling someone they’ve done a great job when they clearly haven’t is not only insulting, but it tends to set a tone of low expectations. Self-esteem is built through mastery, not through pretense. Second, it isn’t grounded in reality. Giving a child false expectations about his abilities and skills is not only dishonest, but unethical. Lastly, letting children face the letdowns of life, however painful, is necessary for emotional growth. Children who haven’t had practice developing coping skills for disappointment fall apart later on when no one is standing there ready to rescue them. Though the pains of life can be heartbreaking at times, they are learning experiences that, when faced with the loving support of a faithful parent, help prepare children to deal with struggles in the future.

6. Listen, don’t talk. You’ll be tempted to start pointing out all the reasons why the situation is “not so bad,” but kids don’t function the same way grown-ups do. Logic plays very little part in soothing a disappointed child. Listen intently to what your son tells you about his thoughts and feelings.

Most of the time when I listen to my son, its usually if it’s something Naomi did to him — took away a toy or something else minute. After listening, I try to say something to get him to understand, and lastly, remind him that he has a friend in Jesus.

His sister and he are like two peas in a pod. 🙂 Other times they can be like night and day, but they are learning to get along, one day at a time.

This was a moment when I felt so proud of my daughter, cheering Adam on to copy some words I wrote on the yellow paper onto their papers, and giving him the motivation to write along with her.

7. Congratulate your son when he handles disappointments reasonably. Nothing encourages kids to face and deal with disappointments reasonably as much as moms/dads who display pride over their child’s actions. Kids love to hear parents say, “I’m so proud of you for not losing your temper” or “You did a good job understanding.” Words of support and encouragement each time a youngster makes a decision to deal with a disappointment can really help to turn inappropriate behavior around. Kids seldom tire of hearing that they handled a situation with good judgment. The desire for parental approval and praise is one of the chief motivational forces in a youngster’s life.

8. Offer personal experiences. You can even point out that, as an adult, you are still disappointed by things that happen to you.

I was close to my twin sister. Though Adam and Naomi are not twins, I often get asked if they are. So, I often think about my sister and any disappointments that I can share with them.

9.  Offer perspective. Whatever the situation may be, you can find a way to help your son put it into the proper perspective without ever using the dreaded phrase, “It’s not so bad…”  or “It could be worse.”

10. Be patient, then be a little more patient, and then have even more patience as your son figures out how the real world operates.

Here are some key questions that were mentioned in the blog I read, to help my son brainstorm ideas on how to resolve the problem himself:

  • Are you going to try again?
  • How big is the problem? It feels like a disaster. On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it?
  • How can we make sure that this problem doesn’t mess up anything else in your life?
  • How long do you want this disappointment to make you feel bad?
  • How long will the disappointment last? A day, a week?
  • How upset do you want to be about this now, given that is is going to feel better soon?
  • Is there a part of this issue that you can control, change, or improve?
  • Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
  • What are some alternative things to say to yourself to counter the alarm messages going through your mind?
  • What can you do now to make the situation better?
  • What do you think went wrong?
  • What is the worst part of it for you?
  • When will it be time to move on? (Often times, the sooner people get going on Plan B, the sooner they start to feel better.)

This is key is for youngsters with Aspergers or high functioning autism to learn to distinguish between serious disappointments and trivial ones.

Disappointments are a part of everyone’s daily life, and the greatest one that I can think of for all of us who are Seventh-day Adventist is the day of the Great Disappointment in 1844, October 22.

As I pause to think of the disappointments of my life and ones that my children are facing, I live in the Hope knowing that…

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way,
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on the beautiful shore.

When there, we won’t have to experience disappointments and bitter tears anymore. SELAH!

Through the Eye of the Storm, Through the Eye of a Child

Hurricane Irma…another hurricane that will not be forgotten in the state of Florida. For Mom, Dad, and Nana, this was not our first hurricane, but for my children, it was their very first experience to see and feel the heavy rain and wind that passed and hovered over us during our stay in Arcadia, Florida.

As Mom and Dad were watching the news, Adam and his sister, Naomi, had their eyes on their toys. There was no evacuation for us until in the middle of the day. Before the storm, we drove from Charlotte County to Arcadia to experience the feel and sound of it from a safer location. Our first comforting sight when we arrived at the Arcadia Seventh-day Adventist Church was the double rainbow in front of the church.

It did not rain the morning or afternoon that Saturday. The storm hit Florida on Sunday at 2 a.m. Twelve hours later it hit Lee County. Seven or eight hours later it hit Charlotte County, where my family lives. Four hours later Arcadia was hit.

It was the roughest 36 hours for all of us. We adults were trying to prepare for our comfort by selecting pews in which to rest; meanwhile, my son and daughter were finding comfort in each other by playing, jumping and crawling around, positioning their toys in the spot where they would sleep; and finally, together, we were singing “A Shelter in the Time of Storm” and “Psalm 40:8.”

We got the remaining bands of rain and the winds in gentler movements. It was the best way to take refuge in the worst part of the storm. We slept in the sanctuary of the church. We prayed. We got on each other’s nerves. Dad’s birthday was Saturday, but in the midst of it all, we did not get to sing “Happy Birthday” until that night, when a friend and his wife prepared a special dinner for him.

In my son’s eyes you could see a bit of excitement and urgency. He did well getting his toys and helping me gather a few pieces of clothes to put into the suitcase, but during the storm he struggled with being cooped up inside for hours and hours, not able to go outside to play.

There was a moment that my daughter was scared and told me so. So while the wind howled, the story of Noah and the Ark immediately came to mind. She lay on her back, and I lay on my stomach near her feet; we lay still on the pew in pure darkness, talking about how Jesus, in His great power from his Father, calmed the waters after 40 days and 40 nights. I also told her this storm wasn’t going to last as long as the one in Noah’s day, and that brought comfort to her. I prayed with her and shared with her Psalm 46:1, 2, which says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea….”

After it stopped I was hoping to see another rainbow, but God had already allowed us to see that double rainbow on Saturday, prior to the coming of Irma. What a beautiful sight that was to all of us who were able to see it. What also brought comfort to the children and me was the scripture verses, as well as what we were able to do for one of our neighbors.

This storm also helped us with learning to deal with little storms in our lives, and it gave us hope again to live for Jesus and God by becoming missionaries for them. So, thank you, Irma — and good-bye!