8/27/2012

Carly's Voice

http://carlysvoice.com/

I just finished reading Carly's Voice.  I purchased the book after watching a video of Carly and seeing a girl who acted just like my Bethany. For me, the book was heart wrenching because I have been through similar struggles and experiences.

Carly's dad, the author, details the daily difficulties in living with an autistic child.  As I read the book, I felt all the emotions I had previously dealt with while taking care of Bethany.  I identified with the pain, disappointment, confusion, guilt, sleeplessness, frustration and helplessness Carly's parents felt as they walked through life with Carly.

Carly's family hired experts to work one on one with their daughter, but it took nine years before they had a breakthrough.  The child, trapped in an autistic body,  was mute and unable to let anyone know that she had her own identity.

Even though Bethany has not been labeled "autistic", she acts like an autistic person and probably would be given that label if we were to start over with the medical process.  I imagine that she also is her own person with a personality that can not relate to our world in the normal way.  This thought gives me hope and inspires me to keep working with my child.

The child's behaviors were much worse than Bethany's.  She tore up her room and demolished the kitchen at every opportunity.  She threw herself on the floor, banged her head, ran away, and was a danger to herself and others.  Like Bethany, she often rocked back and forth, flapped her hands, and threw temper tantrums.  Her family ended up putting her in a group home part of the time so they could manage life.  Unfortunately, Carly was abused and they had that difficulty to work through.

Carly has learned to communicate by typing.  She can only use one finger, so her typing is laborious.  She says that she writes in her head, but it takes forever to get what she is thinking out on paper (or computer.)

She told her own story near the end of the book and answered some questions.  This was probably the most helpful part of the book because she explained some of her behaviors.  She doesn't look straight ahead because her brain takes hundreds of pictures at once, and she can't focus or make sense of anything.  Her body sometimes feels on fire, like ants are crawling all over, or like a shaken up bottle of soda.  That is why she bangs herself or throws herself on the floor: to try to get rid of the feeling.

Her rocking helps her cope with all the stimulation coming her way.  She has a difficult time filtering out sights, sounds, smells, textures--everything comes at her at once.  The teen has learned to audio filter.  The different sights and sounds are stored in her brain and she sorts through them later.  She said this is why an autistic person may have a delayed emotional reaction.

Carly wants to be a normal teenager.  She insists on attending a normal high school, although it has taken much time and work to get to that point.  Eager and bright, she wants to be a spokesperson for autism.  She says that she can tell about autism "straight from the horse's mouth."

Understandably, she doesn't like it when people don't believe she is the one doing the typing and thinking.  She also hates it when people say that she doesn't really have autism because she cares about other people.  Since she really has autism, she feels that she has earned the right to say what autistic people are feeling.

Although the timeline in the book was a little confusing at times, I found the book helpful and would highly recommend it for people who have or work with special needs children, especially those who are non-verbal.

7/26/2012

Good News--God's News!

My talkative preacher brother, Brian Watson, called this evening with exciting news.  Last week, while he hunted for alligator in South Louisiana, a stranger and his wife stopped to ask for directions.  My brother, his hands filled with chicken necks and greasy string, greeted them, and the conversation quickly turned to God.  

The man wanted to start churches for hunters in the swamps and marshes of South Louisiana, but he didn't know how to get started.  The conversation was God ordained!  Less than two years ago, Brian had been led to become a church planter for outdoorsmen in Texas.  The two men exchanged contact information and my brother promised to find out who the man could talk to about starting churches.

As my brother researched, he found out that the person in charge of church planting in Louisiana was none other than a friend from our childhood church!  He was quickly able to help the two connect with each other, and his ministry will now expand to another state.

In the short time Brian and his family have stepped out in faith to minister to outdoorsmen, God has led him in planting three churches with another one about to start.  God has led in every step of the way, opening locations for churches and leading men to step up into leadership.  

Brian said that they had just ordained a man into ministry, and he had recently met three hispanic men who want to lead or start churches.  He also said that six people were waiting to be baptized!

The Outdoor Life church is a little different than most.  It meets on a weeknight rather than on the weekend to accomodate the needs of hunters.  Small group Bible studies and worship services are held in private businesses, some catering to hunters.

Brian's income is small.  He has stepped out in faith to do this ministry, but God has provided every step of the way.  

If you feel led, pray for my brother's health.  He suffers from major allergies and asthma and needs to see a specialist.  Pray for the money to do so. Also, pray for a dear friend of his who suffers from depression.  This friend has been instrumental in helping start the churches.  Lastly, pray for the church plants and leaders who will be stepping out in faith this year.

It is good to know that God is at work!

7/16/2012


Why I appreciate my friend, Kathy:

Loyal, long-lasting friends are rare for me.  Because I have a handicapped daughter, I don’t get out much.  However, my best friend has stuck by me for the last thirteen or so years, and I appreciate all that she is and has done for me.

She understands my personality and calls me because she knows I don’t like making phone calls.  I can count on her to check up on how I am doing, and she also remembers what is going on with my children and asks about them as well.  I know that she prays for me and my family, and I am thankful for her concern for us.

During past difficulties, she and her family have provided much needed furniture and also have purchased an expensive wheel chair for my handicapped daughter.  They have done this out of love, even though they could have spent the money on themselves.

Also, in past years, she has included my daughter Noelle in outings to places we can not easily go such as Disneyland and Magic Mountain.  We all consider these fun outings to be a blessing.  Her thoughtfulness in remembering us is greatly appreciated.

So thank you Kathy, for being such a caring and loving friend.  I usually take you for granted, but I am so glad we have each other!

With love, (phileo and agape)

Your friend,
Teresa

7/02/2012

http://www.amazon.com/How-Will-Measure-Your-Life/dp/0062102419

It's time for a book review.  I just completed How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Chistensen.  Christensen is an award winning professor at the Harvard Business School.  Although the title of the book sounds like it is about setting goals and making plans, the book is much broader than that.

The author combines plans for personal life, business and family.  He takes most of his examples from the good and bad choices businesses have made.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book include:

Solving the challenges in your life requires a deep understanding of what causes what to happen.

How do you allocate your time, talent, and resources?  What is your strategy?  What do you want to achieve and how will you get there?

What motivates you?  True motivation is intrinsic.  Financial motivation rarely satisfies the quest for meaning.  He uses the quote, "Find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life."

From page 61, and one of my favorite thoughts,  Change can often be difficult and it will probably seem easier to just stick with what you are already doing.  That thinking can be dangerous.


Where you spend your time, energy, and money determines what is really important to you.


A strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it is effectively implemented.

Chapter 6, "What did you hire the milkshake for?"  is most intriguing.  He points out that goods and services meet a need or serve a purpose.  It is our job or a business' job to find out what need the item is meeting.  He used a milkshake as an example. I think of the ipad, iphone and ipod.  Steve Jobs was so forward thinking that he could figure out what we needed or wanted before we knew we wanted it.  The author points out that businesses fail when they don't pay attention to what is happening around them.  We can't go forward by maintaining the status quo.

Regarding school, he suggested that children are not motivated by school itself.  However, they do like to have friends and be successful.  He suggests that schools work on developing those two motivations for children by giving them many opportunities to succeed.  He didn't really address how to develop friends.

In the last few chapters, Christensen relates business practice to home life.  He offers some great advice about raising children and developing a family culture.  He emphasizes living out character traits such as honesty, kindness, and the desire to work hard.  Also, he cautions against allowing children to be involved in too many outside activities--he suggests that we not completely outsource our child rearing.

Although not everyone will be interested in reading a book like this, I think it is thought provoking and helpful, especially when desiring to develop a purpose in life.  It was highly recommended by Hugh Hewitt.

6/04/2012

Guess what?  Tomorrow is voting day!  Even though it is just the primaries and Mitt Romney has already locked up the nomination for the Republican party, we still have other people to vote for and we SHOULD!

My recommendations:
President:  I'll leave to your convictions.
US Senator:  Elizabeth Emken--she is the only one of that huge array of people who I have seen endorsed anywhere.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could oust Feinstein?
US Representative District 31:  Gary Miller
State Senator District 33:  Bill Emmerson
State Assembly District 40:  Mike Morrell
County Committee District 3:  I am voting for 3 of the 9, although I am open to voting for more if you know of other deserving people.  These were the three that I know I agree with politically.
Neil Derry, David Rempel and Lane Schneider
County Supervisor District 3:  Neil Derry

State Propositions:
No on 28--this is one of those fake term limit propositions and we are better off not changing the system than making a bad change.
No on 29--more taxes that will probably go for enriching political cronies and bureaucrats instead of for true cancer research--and do we really need more taxes for something that is already well funded privately?

If you are not in my districts--can you believe all the different districts we have in California?  My one little neighborhood is in District 31, 33, 40, and 3.  No wonder I can't ever remember who represents me!

Anyhow, if you are conservative, check out voter guides for your area:

http://www.electionforum.org/

http://www.christianvoterguide.com/

5/09/2012

For Aaron and anyone else interested:  These were favorite after school cupcakes when we were growing up.  I don't think they ever lasted more than a day when she made them.

Black Bottom Cupcakes 

Bee Watson

Ingredients:
1 cup cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 c sugar
1/8 tsp and 1/2 tsp salt
1 c Nestle's chocolate chips
11/2 c flour
1 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 c water
1/3 c cooking oil
1 T vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
chopped blanched almonds (optional)

Cream cheese mixture:  combine cream cheese, egg, 1/3 c sugar, and 1/8 tsp salt
Stir in chocolate chips.

Mix the dry ingredients together in another bowl.  Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla; beat until well combined.  

Line muffin cups with paper baking cups, fill 1/3 with chocolate batter.  Top each with a heaping tsp of cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with sugar and chopped blanched almonds.

Bake at 350ยบ for 30 minutes.  (Note from Teresa:  I'm not sure the time on this is correct.  I usually bake regular cupcakes for 18 minutes, so check for doneness at about 20 minutes.)





4/08/2012

I recently heard Michael Medved discussing how many Americans believe in God.  According to this survey from 2011, the vast majority believe there is a God.  It seems that the belief in God by college graduates is a little higher than those with just a high school education, debunking claims that college causes one to lose his belief in God. The only exceptions are those with post graduate degrees.

Gallop poll

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 77% of Americans believe Jesus rose from the dead.

Rasmussen poll

I don't think this makes people Christians, but it is certainly hopeful!

3/15/2012

As Christians, we roll merrily along in life--taking care of our regular responsibilities, praying, reading and studying our Bibles, and seeking to love and serve God. Perhaps we get complacent in the everyday affairs of life. Then WHAM!, something awful happens--maybe because of our own sin, because of our human flaws, or even like Job, for no apparent reason at all.

Sometimes we need to encourage and help others who are going through these unexpected problems and burdens.  I think of Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Since I am in the praying, encouraging and listening spot for several friends right now, I decided to research this verse.

I came across this commentary on Galatians 6 and found it thought-provoking and helpful.  It is long, but it is a good Bible study when you have a little time.
http://christianbookshelf.org/maclaren/expositions_of_holy_scripture_b/burden-bearing.htm

It is good to examine ourselves and make things right--forgiving and loving in the body of Christ.  It is best to recognize that Satan wants to divide Christians and destroy the joy of our salvation.


Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


May God help us to see the truth, to recognize that we are free in Christ, and in our struggles to love Him more.  He endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy set before him. (Hebrews 12:2) We are called to follow him, enduring our cross--He is our leader, our example, our Lord and Shepherd.

2/21/2012

Mardi Gras!  Memories of "Throw me somethin' mister!", glass and plastic beads, cheap plastic toys, and doubloons are just a small part of the uniqueness of the weeks before Ash Wednesday.  My mother loved parades, so we attended as many as we could--often after church on Sunday.  

Our pastor gave up on preaching about the evils of attending parades named Bacchus, Zeus, and Endymion.  He told us to come to church and then enjoy the fun of New Orleans!  Sometimes we even opened our church for snacks and bathroom stops.

A kaleidoscope of senses,  the beauty and scents around St Charles Avenue enveloped us--the rich green grass, huge, stately oaks draping their branches just above the ground, pink azaleas in full bloom, and handsome homes with well-manicured lawns and gardens.  

My dad would always drop us off with our belongings--paper bags for holding the loot, an icebox filled with sandwiches and water, and usually a ladder and maybe a lawn chair if we were lucky enough to own one at the time.  Then he would expertly navigate the narrow, car-filled streets until he found a parking space to squeeze in--almost always under a shade tree since we did not own a car with air conditioning.  

Then it was time to watch and wait.  Just watching the people lining up around us was fun enough.  Someone was always dressed in a ridiculous costume and the green, gold and purple mardi gras colors abounded.  Since we watched the parades in the "family friendly" areas, we felt safe, and although the beer flowed freely, not too many people over-imbibed.

Finally, the parade would start.  I liked the marching bands the best with their syncopated dances.  Next would come the prancing, well-groomed horses with their masked riders dressed like royalty.  My dad became an expert at whispering in the ears of one of these krewe members and gaining a doubloon for my mom.  Then the decorated floats rolled slowly by carrying the krewe and the beautiful girls chosen to be queens and maidens for the day.

The members of the floats tossed glass or plastic beads, toys, stuffed animals and doubloons to the eager, shouting crowds.  Aggressive and eager, my mother expertly grabbed beads and stomped on doubloons.  Sometimes the competition was stiff and the beads would shatter--this was before the cheap glued plastic beads tossed today.  

One time, I remember us going to a parade after church.  Mama was in her high heels and carrying my baby brother Nathan at the time.  She managed to step on a doubloon, her favorite item to catch, and she considered it hers.  Some guy tried to pry her foot up and take it, but she determinedly remained balanced keeping  her foot on the ground and hanging on to my brother. Finally, he gave up enough that one of us--Aaron, I think, was able to snag it for her.

Tired after a very long day of parade watching, we would begin the long walk to the car with all our belongings.  Once we made it home, we would go through our loot and select our favorite items to play with.  A few days later, my brothers and I would pull out the beads and play Mardi Gras by standing on my brothers' twin beds.  That usually didn't last long because my parents didn't allow us to jump on the beds!

My mother saved most everything we caught and figured out something to do with it.  The glass and quality beads were melted into Christmas ornaments.  She sold some of the stuff back to the Mardi-Gras krewes for the next year. After having grandkids, mama kept boxes of goodies under beds and in closets for the children to play with.  My handicapped daughter Bethany still likes swinging the beads.

So on this Shrove Tuesday, I wish I were there!  Laissez les bons temps rouler!


1/23/2012

Books I've read this year:

Scandalous by DA Carson  In a nutshell, the uniqueness of the way God saved us from our sins is scandalous.  Carson looks at the unusual way Jesus lived, died and was resurrected--we've heard the story and take it for granted.

The Chronicles of Narnia  I like to read this series every year.  The books are so encouraging, wholesome and uplifting.  I finish each book with a smile of satisfaction.

In process:  America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard  This book on economics and business cycles was written in 1963, but when I read the first chapter, I thought it had been written recently.  Solomon's adage that "There is nothing new under the sun" certainly holds true when it comes to government and economics.  Although this is not a quick read, I have gained understanding of the underlying principles of how the economy works.

I've also read a Jeeves and Wooster book--my favorite type of light reading because it is silly and fun--no worries!





I've now lost 21 pounds! Thanking God for helping me find a program that works for me.

1/20/2012

It's a feeling good day!  I am down two pants sizes and need to take in my clothes.  I'm back on HCG and going to the Schwarz Wellness Center.  Time to pull out the sewing machine!

http://www.schwarzwc.com/Home.html