Getting Ready for Spring Break

We just booked tickets to South Padre Island for Spring Break. I am so excited – almost nothing gets me down. I feel like I can endure anything – in 10 weeks I will be on the beach with my husband and kids! I need to make sure I have the right clothes for everyone. I think I may need to trim down just a bit so that I don’t need a whole new wardrobe, but my swimsuit does need replacing regardless.

Need to make sure that there are diversions for everyone for the plane rides, though they are not going to be too long. That is the benefit of living in the midwest – it is only 3 hours to the farthest point in the contiguous 48 states.

All of this excitement and preparation made me think of how I should feel about life, in general. I have a big, glorious mansion in heaven to look forward to. I should be preparing for that experience with the same zest and awaiting it with the same unassailable peace and joy. After all, God has promised that He will give me that mansion, and that he will sustain me as I eagerly await that day.

I should be more excited and preparing more zealously for heaven than for South Padre Island. After all, this world is full of uncertainties. There are many things that could happen to prevent us from going, or that could require us to leave early, or could cause us to have a lousy time while we are there.

But I am thankful that God understands my human frailty and is, as far as I know, allowing me to enjoy his wonderful creation on a vacation. And I thank Him for reminding me to look to him everyday with the same anticipation, since his promises of joy, fulfillment, and security are greater than those offered by an island vacation (though in my frailty, it is hard to fathom!).

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Funding for ASD/Military Family Camp

My parents have a lake home on Spirit Lake, directly across from the Whispering Pines camp property in Burnett County, Wisconsin. The camp property has come up for sale.
 
My husband and I are interested in keeping Whispering Pines a Christian camp that serves the spiritual needs of families in the area. We would like to start a religious non-profit, so we would not own the camp, the non-profit would.
 
Our dream is to have a place for whole families struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have a place to recuperate both physically and spiritually. We would like to offer hippotherapy (horse therapy), physical, occupational, and recreational therapy. We would also like to offer educational and counseling services, and most importantly spiritual support for the whole family through chapel services, kids programs and chaplains. Then, of course, the beauty of the lake and the enjoyment of the outdoors would add to the healing process. Our focus would be on serving military families and other families who have a loved one with a long-term developmental or physical disability. But all families experience extreme stress at times, so we would like to provide a place for all families to heal, and grow closer to God and each other.
 
I realize that there are several other Bible camps in the area, but they all focus on children or offering spiritual retreats for families and individuals without the added physical and psychological care that the we would seek to provide. Also, I understand that there is a new retreat center in the area for families who have lost a child or are suffering under the stress of a terminally ill child. The families we hope to serve do not fit into these categories – the families we hope to serve have a member who is temporarily or permanently disabled, but who is not terminally ill.
 
I realize that there are already two other offers on the property – one to make it into a housing development, another to make it into a campground. However, those offers are contingent on zoning changes.
If we can go to the zoning commission meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17 with a viable plan to keep the property a camp, we may be able to persuade the zoning commission to not approve the zoning changes required for the other two offers.
 
I figured out that with 20% down on a $970,000 dollar loan (that is what the current housing development offer is), we would need about $210,000 for a down payment and closing costs, and about $4500 a month to pay for the mortgage, assuming a loan at 5.25 %. My husband and I are able to finance a chunk of this project. If you, or anyone you know would be interested in supporting such a project, let me know and at what amount. If we could have some sort of viable funding by Thursday, that may help to keep the zoning change from being approved.
 
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. I will not make any comments that disclose financial or contact information public.
Heather Holbrook
 

My biggest Bumper Sticker pet peeve

You know that bumper sticker that says mean things about mean people? It’s been around for years. You know the one – it says, “Mean People S#!%.”

The first time I ever saw that sticker on the back of someone’s car I gave them a WIDE berth. Definitely did not want to get into their way for fear they might decide for some reason that I was mean and would then proceed to do me harm.

The funny thing was, the other day I mentioned to a neurotypical friend how oxymoronic I found that bumper sticker to be. My friend stopped, thought for a minute, and actually thought the bumper sticker was OK! Seriously?!

After I explained that saying someone, “s#$%s,” is mean (I really didn’t think something this obvious needed explaining!), my friend had to agree that the driver with the bumper sticker is now just as mean as the people this driver is supposedly trying to call out.

This bumper sticker helps bring home the reality of the verses in Matthew 5 where Jesus says to be good to those who are your enemies. Because if we are not, then we are just as despciable as them (hey, that’s two weeks in a row God has had me blog on that section of the Bible – hmmmm, God is up to something here…).

This interaction with my friend is a poster child for the social problems those of us with Asperger’s encounter. We are constantly confused by the double-standards that neurotypicals live by (e.g., thinking that it is not mean to say something mean about a mean person to everyone who drives by).

I believe that is one of the reasons God has allowed us Aspies to be around – we point out the obvious hypocrisies considered normal, acceptable behavior to everyone else.

However, before we Aspies become too high on ourselves, remember that even though we realize these hypocricies that are hidden to others, we are no better at living out the truth. Ironically, because of our extreme sensitivity and difficulty at doing more than one thing at a time (e.g., feeling angry and being able to think of the correct behovioral response at the same time), we spend more time being angry with people and more time treating them poorly than much of the general population.

Thank you God for using us to show others the truth of what you expect of us. Thank you for keeping us humbled by the limitations of our syndrome. Thank you that by relying on you, you can help us act in accordance to your will, when we can not on our own.

Back to the Beginning #3 – Easily Frustrated

People with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) are easily frustrated. It comes from our black and white view of the world.

If things aren’t going well, then they are going badly. If things are going badly, there is no guarantee that they will go well again, so we get very frustrated, because this bad situation is what we may be stuck with from now on.

Our black and white thinking is reinforced by (or is it created by – I do not know) our poor muscle planning. We know that if we get into a bad situation, it is not going to be easy for us to quickly get out of it. Our body does not naturally know how to jump out of the way of a ball flying at our head, or a hammer coming down on our finger.

Also, we know that it is going to be harder to learn a new physical skill. And if it is a physical skill that has many parts that are all performed quickly, such as a golf swing, we feel overwhelmed.

In neurotypical people, mirror neurons in the brain allow one person to watch someone else do an action. The person watching is then able to copy that action immediately, and is able to practise that action in his or her head. It has been shown that for neurotypical people, practising the motion in their head is just as effective is practising the motion physically.

This is not so for people with ASD. The mirror neurons do not function properly in an ASD person. An ASD person must consciously train his or her body to do everything (except, of course to jerk in surprise at loud noises!).

Because everything is so difficult to learn, this makes learning new things more frustrating for the ASD person.

Also, it has been found that people with ASD do not have a natural continuum of emotions. They go from being fine, to extremely frustrated instantly, with no gradiation. With training, they can learn to control the external manifestations of those instant emotions, but those emotions will always threaten to come.

Thankfully, with prayer and leaning on God’s love, people with ASD can learn to give their extreme emotions to God, and let Him show appropriate Christian self-control through them.

God can use these intense emotions for His purposes, too, when the person has learned to respond to them properly. For instance, God abhors many things in our current culture. People with ASD feel this same abhorrence so intensely that they cannot ignore it, as can so many others who are able to feel at a lesser intensity.

This intense emotion can then keep someone with ASD consistently working against these abhorrent things, while others just go along with them, not realizing the harm. The key for the person with ASD is to let God channel that intensity into a loving, merciful response, rather than the natural rude, hurtful response.

Lord, I need more help in speaking the truth in love.

This is a Kingdom of Hearts

It seems that many Christians agree that the persecution of Christians in America is coming.

Several weeks ago a Christian friend and I were having lunch and got onto the subject of persecution. She told me how important she thinks it is for resistance fighters to have weapons in order to be effective. Something didn’t seem right about that thought, but not being someone who is good at thinking on my feet, I just listened quietly, deciding to ponder that idea later.

On my drive home I talked to God about her ideas, and this is what I believe he reminded me of.

The resistance fighters she was thinking of were people who were fighting for the earthly treasures of land or political rights. As Christians, we are not (or at least, should not be) fighting for land or any other earthly possession.

We should be fighting for people’s souls. We should be fighting for the truth to be heard and accepted.

If we truly believe the truth of God’s love for us, then our own lives and possessions are worth nothing to us, so dying and loss should be no big deal (terrifying to us as humans, though it may seem).

Therefore, the only thing we are fighting for is the souls of our friends and persecutors. So to kill the body of the one we are trying to reach is 100% counterproductive.

There may be people called to bear arms, but I don’t think so – I don’t remember anyone in the early church defending themselves against persecution.

Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:

 5Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth. 
 7Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy. 
 9Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 

 43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you. “

Lord, those are difficult words. Please help us be  perfect as you are perfect.