No Fear in the New Year

I can still see my mom talking to me in the kitchen of our home. I was probably 10 or 12. I don’t remember anything about the interaction except this:

“Remember, God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.”

She repeated that Bible verse to me often. And now I find myself repeating that verse a lot to my autistic child.

We didn’t know back then that I have autism, but God gave my mom the prescription I needed to beat back unreasonable fears.

Like most autistic people, I struggle with being fearful about situations that don’t cause fear in the general population, and are, therefore, considered things that shouldn’t cause fear. I used to feel powerless to do anything about the fear, which lead me to be selfish and undisciplined.

For example, I grew up in a small town where everyone knew me and loved and supported me. There was no reason for me to fear any authority figures. And yet, when I needed to ask for help outside of class, I couldn’t do it. By the time I was halfway through college I was able to talk with professors outside class. But that truly was an unreasonable fear that made my high school career, while very successful, harder than it needed to be.

This Bible verse helped me feel loved and empowered.

By feeling loved and empowered by God, I was able to share that love through being a more self-disciplined person.

Hmm, funny how when God has me write things, He teaches me new things as I write: Isn’t that what true love is, being empowered to choose, in a self-disciplined manner, to lay your life down for a friend.

So a new way to read this verse may be: God did not give you a spirit of fear, but he layed down his life for you so that you can have his power to also lay down your life for others.

Happy New Year with no Fear!

Moms, you matter, a lot!

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Don’t get me wrong, dads matter, too. But since I am a mom, God talks to me about being a mom, so here’s something I learned recently.

There is a Christian homeless shelter in our area that helps people recover from addiction and get the training they need to become active in the job market and in life. I have been supporting them financially for years, but have never taken the opportunity to visit them, until a week or so ago.

It was a yummy free breakfast on a very rainy summer day. The speaker was a gentleman who was doing well in one of the programs. He was working and had reconnected with his family. It was a great story.

As we toured the facility we were given the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of other participants in the other programs.

The one thing I kept hearing from the men as they shared their stories was how unnutured they had felt by their mothers. Some had mothers who had left. Others had mothers who stayed but were really harsh. They had stories of fathers that they didn’t like, too, but none of that seemed to affect them as much as the pain caused by their mothers.

I have not done any research to see if the anecdotes I heard that morning are corroborated by research. But I am pretty sure that the reason God prompted me to attend that breakfast was to remind me that I need to be more nurturing to my son.

I love him deeply and get so scared about his future sometimes that I can be really hard on him, wanting him to learn the skills he needs to succeed.

Love does include discipline. But, I am noticing, especially for my son, the closer to adulthood he gets, a mom’s encouraging words are very important. They help him as much or more than reminders of what he did wrong (because he already knows and is beating himself up over it).

I know a lot of you moms out there are very nurturing. Keep up the good work. And thanks for being such a good example to those of us who can lean a bit more towards drill sargeant.

Also, I know a lot of you moms out there are single parents so have to fill the role of both father and mother. I will be praying for extra grace for you – that must be so hard!

So now I still acknowledge something that went wrong, if it is becoming a bad habit. But I also try to do more acknowleging of what is going right. I am doing better about acknowledging the fact that even if something went wrong, it has went right in the past, and/or I believe that it will go right in the future.

I am also trying to do a better job of coaching him onto great ways to spend his time – not demanding, but also not just sitting back and letting him flounder with no ideas at all.

I’ll still fail somedays, but I will get back up and try again. Wouldn’t it be great if the homeless shelters shut down due to a lack of disillusioned, lost, hurting people?

Thanks God for patiently training me to be a better mom. And thank you to all of you who shared your stories of pain so that hopefully my son won’t have that same story to tell. Your pain has helped someone. I hope that gives you just a bit of joy – that your pain was not for nothing.

Where’d that come from?!!

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

While adjusting the rearview mirror on my Prius (yes, I drive a Prius, let the judging begin!;), I was surprised to find a few hairs sticking out of places on my face they did not belong. Where’d they come from?!

I hadn’t noticed them in the bathroom mirror earlier that day. Thank goodness I was on my way home – I would have to take care of them before anymore embarrassing public appearances.

I decided to use the other bathroom with the brighter lights, when I got home. To my astonishment, my face looked like a veritable forest. What?! Ok, this was getting ridiculous. What was I to do?

I realized that the bathroom I usually use doesn’t have enough light to properly show problem areas. But the other bathroom has so much light that it makes things look like problems, that really are not.

The only lighting that showed the truth was the natural light.

So if you look to people to help you with problems in your life, be aware that some may be too kind, not shedding enough light on your issues, while others may be too harsh, blasting you with more light than necessary.

Only God’s light can give you the true picture of yourself, both the areas that need a little fixing and the areas that are just right.

God loves you, is for you, and wants to be your light!

We don’t care?

I decided to see if the pro-choice rhetoriticians were speaking the truth about me – that I, as a pro-lifer, don’t care about people once they are born. I do donate to a few organizations that try to advance the pro-lfe cause, so I wanted to know, do I donate more to helping the pre-born or the post-born? I really didn’t know. Maybe the rhetoric about me is true. Afterall, there is truth in the saying that where your money is, there is your heart, also.

After looking at what I donate monthly to various causes, I learned the following about myself:

I donate 8.75 times more money to causes that help US children and families, including disabled and sick children, than to pro-life organizations.

I donate another 2.4 times more money to causes that help US adults, including veterans and the elderly, than to pro-life organizations.

For every dollar I spend on pro-life organizations, I spend $6.25 dollars helping children and families in other parts of the the world (this includes American Indian families, as they are separate nations).

So all told, I spend $17.40 on helping people post-born people here and around the world for every $1 that I spend supporting a pro-life organization.

And these numbers don’t count the organizations I support who primarily focus on people’s spiritual needs. Those organizations are more and more also starting to provide physical help such as school supplies and free meals. The above numbers also do not include the money I spend helping individuals on my own, rather than donating through an organization, or the one-time donations I make to universities and local school foundations.

I was really starting to believe the rhetoric put out by the pro-choice lobby. But after doing some number crunching, I see that I care about the post-born at least 17x more than the pre-born. I would still like to do more to help kids and families struggling here in the US. But the pro-choice rhetoric is decidedly false, at least for me.

How about you?

How our kittens civilized us

Our previous cats were barn cats and alley cats. I would have thought that being somewhat wild, they would have required us to change our lifestyle a lot to accommodate them. Surpringly, it has been our hand-raised kittens that have required the most changes.

I think our kittens are so comfortable with people and houses that they think nothing of getting into whatever they want. The other cats were always still a bit uncertain about indoor life, so kept to a few known places and behaviors.

For instance, after years of asking my husband to keep our bedroom closet doors closed, once one of the kittens peed on his backpack laying on the closet floor, the closet doors suddenly are always closed. (I guess my clothes being covered in cat hair by one of our previous cats who used to like to hide in the closet wasn’t motivating enough to him…)

Our bed, while not perfectly madeup every morning, gets a brief putting together – no more comforters or blankets hanging off at precarious angles and traling onto the floor. If the bed is relatively smooth, and the floor is clear, all is well. Otherwise, someone thinks, “I could pee on that.” New blankets and comforters are expensive!

Toilet lids must be put down. I don’t need a drowned cat or a sick cat. Their water dish is finally getting better use! I guess the previous cats had a fish tank to drink out of, and then a cat fountain when the fish died. Both of those are a lot of work to keep up, but our barn cat refused to drink still water, so I had no choice. Our kittens were fine with drinking from their water dish when we first got them. They are fine with it again.

All dirty dishes must be put in the kitchen, and put in the dishwasher or cleaned ASAP. I think our other cats, for sure our barn cat, also got into dirty dishes, but they were much quieter about it, so got by with it easily. These kittens have not yet learned to be so stealthy.

All savory foods, including potato chips, bread, etc. must be properly stored in something sturdier than a plastic bag. Our other cats would go after unattended meat or dairy products, but didn’t care about anything else. One of our kittens, in particular, loves bread, chips, crackers. We have lost many a hamburger bun to her little claws and teeth ripping through the bread bag.

All dirty clothes must be safely stored in clothes hampers. The kids don’t always follow this rule, but they keep their bedroom doors closed, so at least the dirt is out of public view. But I added a lidded dirty clothes hamper to the top of the dryer, as I was concerned that the cats would think, “oooh, a smelly pile of damp stuff – I could pee on that.”

All shoes, coats, backpacks, really, any cloth-like substance must be properly stored in a closet or on a hook. Anything on the ground that can soak up pee, will be peed on. It is so nice walking through the house and not seeing coats, music bags, dance bags, swim bags, backpacks, lunch bags and numerous pairs of shoes, mittens, socks, hats, etc, strewn about.

Because, as you may have noticed, one of our cats did not like going all the way down to the basement to use the litter box, the guest bathroom on the main floor is cleaner than usual. I have to regularly vacuum the floor to contain the litter that gets tracked out of the box that is now also in that upstairs bathroom.

So, thank you, kittens, for helping me civilize my family!