Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We are taking the next two weeks off to enjoy the holidays with our families. We'll return with a new bible study on Wednesday, January 6th.

Thanks so much for reading our blog and joining the discussions. We're looking forward to connecting with you again in the new year.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Spectrum Spirit!

Nicole, Jessica and Chrissy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 14 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)

It's amazing how one little chapter of a book can mean so much to a person. It's also amazing how one prayer in a chapter can totally define a chapter. I do have to warn you all that I, like most of you I'm sure, am feeling the stress and frustation that can come along with this most magical time of the year. This chapter brought it all home to me.

In Chapter 14, Your Secret Weapon, Joyce Meyers gives us the ammunition we need to make it through Satan's games. Here's a re-cap.....she starts off Chapter 14 with a story of Vincent Newfield. God spoke to Vincent one day and clearly told him he would work for Joyce Meyer. Over a time span of about two years, Vincent suffered set backs, let downs, and devastation. He felt the anger and the frustration and couldn't figure out why this wasn't happening. He questioned whether he had really heard from God. But he never gave up. He pressed through all of this doubt, anger and confusion and finally has the job that God told him about. (How awesome that must feel to know what he heard, to know that he obeyed and to be rewarded for his work.) Joyce then encourages us to always press through the anger and frustration. She says that the Bible tells us that we will be angry. On page 194 she writes "Scripture plainly tells us: 'When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.' (Ephesians 4:26)" She then continues with "We can be angry, but we must not stay angry; we can be disappointed, but we need to get reappointed. God will always give us a new beginning when something did not work out the way we planned." One other important point that Joyce makes is that it's so easy to push anger, frustration and others feelings we don't want to deal with, deep inside of us. However the problem is these feelings will eventually begin seeping out. (She makes a wonderful comparison to old nasty smelling food in your refrigerator that eventually spoils and smells up the entire refrigerator.) Joyce then encourages us to not "stuff our stuff". We need to deal with these problems now and not later. On page 197, Joyce says "God uses the truth to set us free (see John 8:32), but it is not the truth about someone else that sets us free, it is the truth about ourselves we need." In other words, we need to deal with our own stuff. We need to lay it all out on the line with God. He already knows how we feel. Joyce encourages us to stop blaming others and look at ourselves instead. Joyce then wraps up Chapter 14, by giving us our secret weapon. She says the best way to get rid of anger, hurt and frustration is to be good to the people who may have contributed to this. On page 201 she writes "God, by Your grace and mercy, I am going to be good to that person. I am not going to tell others what he has done to me. I will not speak ill of that person, but I will pray for him, as You want me to. If I see the person who hurt me, I am going to walk right up to him and say hello. I am going to be kind and obey Your Word and overcome evil with good, by Your grace."

Wow! What a prayer! And you guessed it, that's the prayer that really defined this chapter for me. How true this prayer is! I can name a lot of crazy hurried shoppers who have made my angry list. I'm going to memorize this prayer especially this Christmas season. I mean think about it, if we stay angry at this person and let these feelings inside of us grow, which is just want Satan wants us to do, we will be hindered from doing what God wants us to do. However, if we pray this prayer and let it go, how free we will feel inside! If we keep all of our frustrations inside (which I'm sure if you're like me you have tons of frustrations during Christmas time trying to get everything ready) we'll blow up. I came close to it tonight. I was trying to bake over 7 dozen cookies for a cookie swap. (I've already made a note on next year's calendar to give this whole cookie exchange thing to God to see if He really needs me to do this. Very stressful.) My kids are going crazy telling me what they want for Christmas. My husband calls wanting to know what's for dinner. The dogs want outside. The power bill is due. Oops, garbage day was today. I got to the point where I just slammed my spatula down, yelled at the kids, locked the dogs outside and tuned everything out. That's when God grabbed a hold of my heart and said "Did you just hear Sean tell you what he wants for Christmas?" I immediately thought "yes, he told me last week too. I've got to get these cookies done." Then I hear "But he couldn't tell you last year." It's time to clean out the refrigerator. I realize that for me to get so upset over being pulled in so many directions that I totally miss out on truly appreciating my kids mean there's something deeper going on. So, I pray. That's when I realize that I'm trying so hard to make our Christmas' like "the Joneses" and every other "typical" family out there so that maybe for just one day we don't have to think about autism, what we're eating, what supplements to take, etc...But you know what, no matter how hard I try, my family is not "typical". Even without an autism diagnosis in the family, I still don't think we're typical. I need to let go of this jealousy I have over "typical" families and embrace what God needs me to or their childhood won't be much fun for them. I want my kids to one day tell others how much fun they had as children, like Joyce's husband did to her one day. I want my kids to have the best memories possible. At the same time, I feel like I have so much pressure on me that our "fun" times end up being frustrating. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that we all want to be good moms. We all want our children to remember how wonderful their childhood was. However, for this to happen, we have to give God our anger, our frustrations and our hurt so that we can raise our kids the way He wants us to raise them instead of letting Satan whisper lies in our ears. Our children with autism can have wonderful childhoods. We just have to help them a little harder to create them.

This is my goal in raise my children the way God wants them to be raised. For them to have a wonderful childhood, for my son with autism to reach his absolute fullest potential (which I believe he'll be healed one day) and most importantly that they know God. There will be days where it seems so far away, but like Vincent Newfield, I'm going to push through the anger, the frustrations, the hurt and even the let downs so that we can get what I believe God has spoken to me.

So, in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of the year, before you start all of your holiday baking, clean our "your refrigerator" so nothing can spoil. Take a break from your cooking and your shopping and be a child again. See the Christmas lights with your kids, go caroling with your kids, even write a letter to Santa from you with your kids. Most importantly, be with your kids. That's the best gift we can give them! (Especially when our fridge is clean!)

Bible Verses:

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,and give thanks to his holy name.For his anger is but for a moment,and his favor is for a lifetime.Weeping may tarry for the night,but joy comes with the morning.
—Psalm 30:4-5

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
—Proverbs 14:29

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
_Romans 8:28

I pray that this Christmas as we all start preparing for our favorite time of the year, You will help us keep our refrigerator cleaned. If we need to clean it out beforehand, please show us this. Help us stay strong in the plan You have for us.
In Your name we pray,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What A Shame!

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 13 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)

Shame is such a powerfully negative word to me. When I hear expressions like "You should be ashamed", "What a shame" and "just shameful", I can actually feel myself shrink inside, even if they aren't directed at me. In Chapter 13, Never Be Ashamed, Joyce Meyer makes an important distinction between guilt and shame, which are often confused: "Guilt is a feeling about what you do; shame relates to who you are as a person." (p.181) Shame leads to feelings of great unworthiness, and if we're not careful can get deep down into our soul, giving us a shame-based nature that is an open door for the enemy.

Two of the five elements of the shame-based nature identified by Joyce that reasonate with me the most are perfectionism and false or excessive responsibility. These two pitfalls present themselves whenever I am faced with something that I feel is important or if I feel that I could have done something better. For me, these two relate to one another. In certain situations I will put a great deal of pressure on myself beforehand or do a number on myself afterward. This autism journey brings these both to the forefront and forces me to confront these tendencies head-on. I'll start with perfectionism: I have always strived for approval and achievement and for many years my ability to meet these high standards completely determined my self-worth. Once I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, I continued to try to live up high expectations. When things don't turn out the way I expect them to, my first thought is sometimes, "What didn't I do right?" or "What should I have done better?". This leads me right into false or excessive responsibility. I have guilt over not having had more knowledge when my son was a baby about how environmental and biomedical factors could likely have contributed to his developing autism. Now that I have this knowledge, I feel that I must share it in the hopes of preventing others from this type of loss. If they choose not to take the information that I offer, I have to make a conscious effort to then distance myself so that I don't bear excessive responsibility for their choices.

The good news is that God shows us a way to overcome these tendencies. We need to dwell on what the Bible says about who we are, not on our feelings. For me, these tendencies cause me to focus on myself too much instead of on God. This opens the door for the enemy to feed me lies, and steal my strength, focus and joy. God wants us to be free to be who He made us to be, unashamed. On page 188, Joyce cautions us to make sure that we aren't the victims of "identity theft" by reminding us who we are in Christ: "You are a child of God. His power is in you and He will enable you to do whatever you need to do in life. You are a new creation, the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21). You have an assignment from God and a great future. Your past has been washed away in the blood of Jesus. You are awesome-totally, absolutely awesome!"(Joyce Meyer, p.188)

Bible Verses:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"
-Romans 8:1

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
-2 Corinthians 5:17

"Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him."
-2 Corinthians 5:21

"Yea, none that wait for thee shall be put to shame: They shall be put to shame that deal treacherously without cause. "
-Psalm 25:3

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
-1 John 4:4

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Satan and his dirty dirty tricks!

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 12 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)

I've got to hand it to him, when it comes to deceiving people, that is one thing Satan is good at doing. He knows how to get into our heads and stop us from growing as Christians. He doesn't want us getting closer and closer to God. He wants us to be further and further away from God. The easiest way for Satan to do this is through guilt. He knows if he can put that one thought in our head that makes us feel guilty, it puts a hold on us that can stop us dead in our tracks.

In Chapter 12, Your Own Worst Enemy, Joyce Meyer teaches us how we can be our own worst enemies. As human beings, we all make mistakes. We are all guilty of doing something that we are not proud of. There are three main points that I got out of this chapter that I'd like to share with you.

"Many times, the guilt we feel over our mistakes is much worse than the mistakes themselves." page 168 Joyce Meyer

"No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to live without making mistakes." page 169 Joyce Meyer

"You can enjoy life and have the strength to keep going if you learn to repent quickly, receive forgiveness quickly and quickly get back to doing what you are supposed to do." page 173 Joyce Meyer

The main thing I learned from this chapter is that a guilty conscious has no place in my life nor any other Christians life. As Joyce said, we all make mistakes. We're human. What's important is that we learn from them, repent, receive forgiveness and move on. Sounds simple, right? I really wish it was that simple. However, there is someone else in this world who likes to torment us and keep us as far away as possible from God. His name is Satan and he's got a big bag full of tricks bigger to do this. He knows what each of us feel guilty about. Then he'll whisper it in our ear just at the right moment to try to trick us. He's really good at it. But what we have to remember is that God is even bigger, better and stronger than Satan. He will help us through Satan's games. We need to know scripture by heart so that when these guilty feelings overcome us, we can swoosh them away quickly. To me, it's like when Satan tempted Jesus for 40 days. (Matthew 4:1-11. See below.) Satan tempted and tried very hard to trick Jesus. However, Jesus answered and fought each of these temptation with scriptures. That is what we need to remember today. Satan is still among us today tempting us and trying to trick us. We need the Word of God to help us through these games. How many times do you think Satan has put the guilty thoughts in our heads to keep us from growing as Christians? Too many. It's time that we realize our past mistakes are just that, in the past. God forgives us. We need to forgive ourselves as well and move on quickly to what God has planned for us.

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)
The Temptation of Jesus 1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

Dear Lord,
I thank you for every life that was brought together through this blog. Thank you for the new friendships being formed and the ones yet to be formed. Lord, I lift up each and every one of us as we continue our journey through autism with our children. I pray that you show us through Your Word how to clear our minds of any guilt that can be hindering our growth to You. Thank you for giving us Your protection through all of this.
In Your name we pray,