Archive for the 'Family & Heroes' Category

Who is the Older Brother?

Monday, June 11th, 2007

As most of you know, Sunday morning sermons often get me writing. Sometimes they don’t even have to be good ones. If something sparks a thought that is typically more than enough. Other times, the sermons can be very thought provoking.

Yesterday morning we had the first of four guest preachers come in. The fella did not come empty handed. At first I thought he might. He started in telling us the prodigal son story was more about the older brother than a salvation story. Well, that is true. Go to Luke 15 and read the stories in the given context for yourself. The story is primarily about the older brother.

So, what is the kicker? I’m the older brother.

It is hard for a younger brother like me to identify with the older brother in the story. I’m the baby of the family. We can all identify with the prodigal son. He is the one who did wrong and needed forgiveness. And of course that is the character I want to see as me. But that won’t happen today. The character we should all strive to be like is the father. But today, I’m the older brother.

Instead of rejoicing that the one who was considered dead had returned to life, the older brother was all caught up in the fairness of things. That younger brother was a jerk and deserved to be left at the pig sty. But there he is getting more stuff. There he is getting love he doesn’t deserve. There he is the one that rejected us all and squandered away things he never worked to get.

So, you wonder how this relates to me. I’ll tell you. I have lost all patience and disowned a member of my family. She may not know it because she is still in the far land. But in my heart she has been dead for a while. If I told you what she has done, you would probably get indignant and tell me disowning her is just fine. It all seemed right to me. She went way too far. Yet that aint what the Spirit told me. It aint what Jesus told me. The preacher pointed it out well. I am the older brother.

When the sermon was over, the shepards walked through the flock. We were all singing but some of us were handling some tough stuff. One pastor stopped as the tears rolled off my face. He pulled my head close as my knees hit the floor. We prayed together for a while. I was sort of embarrassed so I moved out quick before anybody else could talk to me.

The truth is, I don’t feel much better. I don’t know when I will. I suppose it will happen when she finally comes her senses. There aint a guarantee that will happen either. But if it does, I will not ditch the party.

Tough Day, Fun Day

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

This evening my new church met at the park.  This was the first encounter they had with Tiger in a difficult social setting.

I had a great time, but it would be hard to convince folks of that.  To the untrained eye it looked like a miserable situation.  This was difficult for Tiger.  I had to deny much of what he wanted.  And this made for a few difficult moments.  I spent about two hours wrestling with the boy.

Many wonderful people went out of their way to show us a little love.  They were sympathetic to both of us.  They understood how doing these things is necessary to teach him about social situations.

I also saw a little misunderstanding.  See many folks told me, “I don’t know how you do it.”  They saw the difficulty we face and missed the blessings.  That is a shame.

Many good things are difficult.  That makes life more worthwhile.

Champions don’t look for easy match-ups.  They desperately want to fight the most difficult opponents.  They live for the struggle.  They train relentlessly.  They are not often down for the count.  They are always down for the struggle.

Tiger and I have some bouts of our own to fight.  I have high expectations of him.  He will be a truly excellent man.  He will achieve great things.  I can see that in his eyes.  He will not only figure out how to survive in a neuro-typical world, he will thrive in it.  And by that excellence he will help the cause of acceptance.

My family is not wimpy.  We train relentlessly.  We live for the struggle.  We look for the difficult bouts.  Today Tiger wrestled with a difficult situation.  I wrestled with him.  We had fun because we like to wrestle.  He is a little smarter.  I am  proud of him.

Gratitude

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Some people go above and beyond what they have to.   We seldom realize the sacrifices that we claim to remember.  We find ourselves unable to pay the debt we owe.

I can’t write a thing that would be good enough.  My freedom and safety exist because people I did not know died protecting them.

Today, I will shed tears for the fallen warriors that protected me.  Tomorrow, I will live in a way that would make those fallen warriors proud.  As they look down on me from heaven, I hope that they can see my appreciation and gratitude.

Daddy, will Tiger be autistic in Heaven?

Friday, May 11th, 2007

A few years ago, my son Alex asked me, “Will Tiger be autistic in Heaven?” I have to admit that at the time I said no. I had a whole different outlook on things then. I viewed autism as a disease instead of a way of being. Now, I have come to a greater understanding.

It is my understanding of scripture that in Heaven we will be made, “whole.” So, missing eyes, teeth, toes and arms will all be replaced. But, autism is not a missing thing.

I am amazed at how Tiger drinks in creation. He communes with his surroundings in a way I never would. There are things about his perception that are uniquely autistic. He sees order where I do not. He is fascinated by textures that I dismiss. He is interested in tastes that I will never try. In many ways, Tiger is more “whole” than I am.

Will Tiger be autistic in Heaven? I certainly hope so. I’m sure he won’t have sensory overload anymore. But I don’t think his senses will be dulled to accomplish that. He will be whole enough to enjoy all of the splendor and glory. He won’t have problems with social awareness anymore. But that won’t stop him from noticing the often missed patterns and order either.

It comes down to the fact that none of us are whole on earth. We have to understand those who differ from us to see what we have been missing. Then we become a little more complete. We may not be any more alike, just more complete.

So, will Tiger be autistic in Heaven? That depends on how you define autism. All I can tell you for certain is that we will all be “whole.” I can’t see Tiger’s wholeness excluding his wonderfully autistic attributes. I can’t see my wholeness excluding some of those either.

Useless

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

I have determined that it is imperative to keep all books.

Tonight my daughter, Dezzie calls me wanting math help. I no longer have any old math textbooks. This ended up being a problem. See she does not have her textbook either. And, we were working this over the phone.

The first question was tough enough to get. She was to factor a trinomial function into two binomial functions that are multiplied. You know the good old FOIL (first outside inside last) method but in reverse. No big deal. As soon as she remembered the word trinomial, I popped up a tutorial on the web and that all came back to me.

The second one went like this.

“Dad, I have to find the isotopes.”

“Wait, is this chemistry or algebra?”

“Algebra.”

“No isotopes in Algebra, Honey.”

“I don’t know!”

“What is the problem?”

“F sub X..”

“F sub X? Oh, a function! Do you mean asymptotes?”

“Yyyes.”

I don’t remember how to do that stuff. It has been 20 years since I have done that. No easily found help for that on the web. So I am rendered useless all for the wont of a high school algebra book.

She is supposed to meet a friend early in the morning to get some help. I hope that works out.

The Last Day

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

My church is finished. Today we read the will. We had decided to merge with a church that was strong and could help us. Today we held the last worship service. The plan is to remodel the building while it is closed. In August, there will be a contingent who will come to the old building and start over from scratch as a plant church.

I did say we read the will. For those of you who are not familiar with Restoration Movement Churches (Christian Churches, Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ and some others) and their history, let me give you a little background. An important document in the movement’s history is The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. One of our members used that document as a basis for the Last Will and Testament of Pitman Creek Church of Christ. We read it and said Amen. It is done.

Now I am a member of the oldest church in Dallas, the Highland Oaks Church of Christ. I have attended there a few times. They have a special ministry for special needs children which provides care for Tiger. I hope to move into this ministry as soon as we are all wired in.

I’m getting acquainted with the man that has grown that ministry from nothing into what it is today. I like and admire him. He is more experienced than me and I hope that he will use that experience to mentor me. He has worked with Special Olympics for years and I can’t let that experience go untapped. I’m very serious about helping autistic people and their families. I think that this may be the perfect place to do it.

I don’t know if I will be part of the group that comes back to Plano or not. I guess I’ll figure that one out when I have to. Whatever happens will happen and I will be a part of it.

When I was a boy, I used to climb up the windmill. My grandfather would put down his hoe and walk over. He would reach up with those big hands and gently call for me to jump. I always did. He always caught me.

Leaps of faith are not so difficult for me. Especially when I see those hands reaching out and that familiar voice calling me. God keeps catching me. I’m going to keep on jumping.

Autism, Hope and some Tough Love

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Since I decided to post a little about autism, some things have happened. I have joined the autism hub and that is a wonderful thing. I now have some new friends and they are fantastic. I also picked up some other readers that don’t like me or my attitude very much.

These folks seem to think that they are entitled to argue with me in my comment threads. They get a little hot under the collar when I won’t publish their comments. I am getting a quite familiar with their despair. Their comments are full of desperation.

At first I wanted to rip into these folks. But, I can sense that they are hurt. I have already felt a lot of what is eating them. Their troubles are real and ugly. So I asked God about how to handle this. Long ago I decided to adopt a passage of scripture as my own personal mission statement. In this passage is the phrase, “Comfort oh comfort my people.” I consider preparing a way for the Lord into people’s hearts to be my God given purpose. God typically tells me what to do before I ask. I just have to go look and see what He already told me.

I want to encourage those who have misplaced or misused their courage. I have learned though that people are not encouraged by empty platitudes. Good reasoning is the stuff of hope. Anything else is just pretending.

To the folks who are hurting because of things their children do, let me offer you some of that stuff of hope. Let us reason together.

You may face some difficult times right now. Those difficulties are overwhelming. The big trouble is: you don’t have time to be overwhelmed. You have already come to the right conclusion: life is hard and it is not fair. There is however a way to claim your hope.

When the Israelites faced the dangers of Canaan’s land, they were instructed to remember the Red Sea. Courage is found in recognizing one’s past victories. This courage is the fuel for the challenges at hand. This means we have to consider the progress we have made and the struggles we have survived to face the challenges of today.

If I ask God, “How can you love me and still let me suffer?” I have to remember that He delivered me from suffering before. I have to remember all the ways that He blesses me right now. Then and only then can I look at things from the perspective of the delivered and not the perspective of the victim.

I can not remember a time in my life that I did not know one particular hymn. That hymn contains these lyrics:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed

When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done

Sure, my son Tiger has troubles. I pray unceasingly for him to speak. I pray unceasingly for him to stop hurting himself and others. Then, I thank God Almighty for the fact that he has come so far. This boy can dress himself. This boy can relieve himself without assistance. This boy can bathe himself. This boy can use his PECS book to tell me things. All of these things are mile stones to me. They may sound small but to me each of these things deserves a parade trough the Arch. These things are the stuff of hope.

That is why I can put optimism and autism into the same sentence. Many have accused me of not knowing what real trouble is. They say that ignorance is why I can say what I do. That is absurd. I know real trouble. I live with more of it than I will ever share. I face it down and overcome it every day.

And if you naysayers have the spine to try, I will go out of my way to help you do the same thing! So quit assuming you know me! Get over that jaundiced belly of yours, cowboy up and start facing down your troubles! And for crying out loud, get started so I can lean on you sometime when I need a hand!