The Ultimate GMO

*Image is from Rodale’s Organic Life

Genetics. We can’t get away from them. Pretty much everything we eat, unless you are a strict geophagist, has a genetic component. And what constitutes a genetically modified organism? People have been modifying the genomes of plants and animals for millennia. Just look at all of the varieties of apples we have, or man’s best friend.

It seems that the term, GMO, is reserved for creatures whose genome has been altered by means that are beyond natural cross-breeding; alterations that would never happen in nature, by any stretch of the imagination.

And what about our genomes? We are finding that things people once thought were simple choices, like alcoholism, lesbianism, being socially insensitive most of the time (now known as autism) have very strong genetic components.

I, of course, struggle with autism, and I am certain I could very easily become an alcoholic, which is why I am very careful about how much and when I drink.

So why does God tell me through the Bible,

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)?

God does not say I shouldn’t drink alcohol at all, but I shouldn’t let it take me over, instead, I should let Him take me over. But for someone who is a candidate for alcoholism, I can understand how that would be a very tough statement for someone who actually does struggle with alcoholism.

And why, when God knows it is extremely difficult for me to think of the perspective of others (actually it is impossible, on my own, without a lot of coaching, first), does he say this in Philippians 2:1-4:

(1) Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, (2) then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.

(3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

As I was talking with a friend about this the other day, suddenly the following flowed out of our conversation. Now, keep in mind that I have a biology minor, so I am somewhat well-versed in the scientific perspective of biology in general, and genetics in particular. But as we were talking, God seemed to pour this through us:

Yes, we are all genetically predisposed to various things, be it singing, stealing, dancing, dealing, cooking, cheating, making things, murder, smiling, smoldering, you get the picture. It is impossible for us, on our own power, to follow what the Bible says, to even want to follow what the Bible says, without this:

(5Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (7)So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ (8The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you it is with people born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 5-8)

So, Jesus is saying that to be part of His kingdom, I need to be genetically modified. I need to be unnaturally changed by the supernatural to even be interested in living life to the fullest.

Does God actually change our physical genome, or does he just give us the supernatural power to overcome our genome, I don’t know.  I just know that I want that!

Jesus, later in that chapter tells us how we can experience being born again:

(16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16 -17)

Believe in Jesus, and God will genetically modify you by giving you his Holy Spirit to help you do the impossible.

Wow! I want to be the ultimate GMO! How about you?

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Work for words

It seems to be working – lately we have been giving our son jobs to do if he can’t control his mouth. Last week there was one evening where that snowballed a bit, and he ended up with quite a few jobs. After getting a few jobs for saying mean things like, “you’re stupid,” when I told him he needed to stop playing computer so that we could go pick up my husband, (his dad!) from work, he got upset about how many jobs he had, and couldn’t seem to shut his mouth off, ending up with 10 jobs. Some of them were very light, though, like, “go feed your sister’s fish.”

But lately he has been able to keep the job count a bit lower. I am so proud of him. I understand how hard it is to control one’s tongue,  as I was constantly in trouble for that same thing as a child. I never dared call my mom a name, but I did get into verbal wars with my siblings, constantly. I still have a long way to go on total tongue control, which means that my poor son does not have a perfect example to follow.

Thank goodness for Jesus’ example. Jesus wasn’t always, “Minnesota Nice.” He said things that were hurtful, unpopular and got himself into trouble sometimes. But Jesus wasn’t always loud and brash, either. Sometimes he used no words at all, but let his actions do the talking.

My prayer for all of us today, and especially for those of us with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism is that we would be able to control our tongue – to really think before we speak. I pray that we would remember to carry our gripes to God, first, so that He can help us sort through what really needs to be communicated, and what we should just let go of. Often things we find offensive are just us misunderstanding a situation, or being far too petty. I ask God’s love for us, so that we can let that love cover a multitude of sins in ourselves and others, forgiving as he has forgiven us.

What will happen to him after I die?

Isaiah 49:15  Though your mother may forget you, I will not.

Once I had allowed God to comfort me over the losses I felt, there were still fears about the future that lingered. I should add that, I still need to seek God’s comfort on a regular basis, but the deep devastation that I first felt is not usually there. It does still rear its ugly head at times. But knowing that God comforted me once, gives me the courage to let him comfort me again.

The biggest fear I had was, what will happen to him after my husband and I die. Even if we are able to leave him money or set up a plan that seems like it will create a safe, fulfilling environment for him, how do we know that things will go as planned.

I thought of the stories of nursing home abuse, or of people stealing money from the vulnerable relatives they are supposed to be helping. I remembered friends who were horribly abused by foster siblings or stepparents. I knew that I would never be capable of setting up something that could guarantee his safety.

Then God reminded me that He had created my son, and he had a plan for him. Like His plans for all of us, it might include some tough times. God agreed that yes, my son might experience horrible abuse after I am gone, but that God was bigger than that and would be able to bring my son safely out of that. God reminded me of how the beautiful things he has done in people’s lives who have endured such difficult situations. He reminded me how much I was growing, and how much more meaning my life had because of the tough situation of having a child with special needs.

I am thankful that there are now many excellent services for adults with special needs, such as specialized employment and group homes. I am also thankful that my daughter truly loves her brother, and will most likely be willing to help him out.

I hope and pray that my son does not have a tough time after I am gone, and I will do my best to set up help for him, but I find comfort in knowing that no matter what life brings, God will not leave him.

All of our hopes and dreams are gone

 (My child has Autism Specrum Disorder? Devotional #2)

Romans 8:28  God works all things together for the good of those that trust in Him.

I had to let go of the dream of getting to know all of the neighborhood moms while watching my son play ball with theirs. I had to let go of the dream of having a house filled with the friends that my son had invited over. Gone were the dreams of making new yummy treats that he would be excited to try, or checking out new restaurants as a family.

The dream of a wedding to attend, grandchildren, even just a house to visit him at faded. Gone was the certainty that someday my husband and I would have an empty nest to enjoy. The reality that my life may never change much from what it is right now, was very depressing, to say the least.

You don’t realize how many hopes and dreams you have for yourself and your children, until you are forced to let them go. You don’t realize how much of your own joy you have tied up in what you think your children will become.

The only dream I had left was the promise that God works all things out for the good of those who trust in him. He reminded me of all of the people who lived fulfilled, but very different lives, such as Mother Theresa, Amy Carmichael, and numerous other heroes of the faith. They may not have had the home in the suburbs, the 2 kids and the 7 grandkids, but they were more fulfilled than most. I just had to adjust my view from the America Dream, to God’s dream for us.

Though it was still hard to hear about how well everyone else’s son was doing in T-ball, while mine cried because he hated it so much, I actually began to feel a bit honored that God would entrust our family with the challenge of living counter-culturally in such an obvious way.

I pray that you would be able to get a glimpse of the good that God has for you in the midst of this very difficult situation. And if you can’t see any good right now, remember that God does not break His promises, so keep holding on. He will work things for good, because He promised He would.

It feels like our son has died.

(My child has Autism Specrum Disorder? Devotional #1)

Psalm 23:4  Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your rod and your staff, they comfort me.   

The son we had grown to know and love seemed to disappear. He was no longer just the bright boy who refused to use his words, the boy who had amazing hearing and a memory that wouldn’t quit and who was just too sage to speak his mind.

He was no longer just the boy with the infectious laugh that everyone couldn’t help but giggle with, even when they had no idea what was funny. Gone was the guy who just loved to shoot baskets, throw rocks into the river and roll bocce balls for hours at a time.

Our son seemed dead. Instead, we were given a boy we hardly knew. One that could talk but wouldn’t, but not just because he was being sage or stubborn, but because it was actually difficult for him. A boy who didn’t throw rocks or roll bocce balls on end just because he enjoyed it, but because he had a disability that made it difficult for him to stop and change what he was doing.

Instead of seeing our son as quirky, but whole, I now saw how broken he was. Thank goodness for my husband, who is more of a rose-colored-glasses, glass-half-full sort. I think he was able to keep a better perspective on things than I. My heart was truly broken.

Though I had suspected this reality since he was six-months old, having to come face-to-face with the fact that I would never be the mother of a “normal” son, required a lot of letting go.

The only thing that got me through this difficult time was Psalm 23. As I walked through the house I could see the deep canyons walls on either side of me. The path I was on was dark, with no sign of the valley ending. Having the promise, that God would comfort me brought me through to the other side, and it will bring you through, too.