Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In His Image

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Days 22 and 23 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

I think that the greatest compliment any one of us can receive is to hear that someone saw Jesus made present in us. Before we can get to the place of reflecting God to the people in our lives, we have to be transformed and allow God to make us more like Him. I realize that this won't be fully possible on this side of heaven and is a continual (and sometimes painful) growing process.
Day 22 (Created to Become Like Christ) and Day 23 (How We Grow) bring us into the third purpose, You Were Made to Be Like Christ.

From our very creation, we were made to grow in character and become more like God. Our clearest example of how God thinks and acts is shown in the words and actions of Jesus. Our first example of how not to do this is in the garden of Eden, when Eve was convinced by Satan that through knowledge gained from eating the forbidden fruit, "ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5). I never really thought that I had this tendency until I read Rick Warren's words on page 172, "This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and the people around us." I immediately thought of how I usually want to respond whenever my son is having a regression. I start to panic and think of a million different things that could be causing the regression, not to mention the many things I could try to get him back on track. Just last week it was all I could do not to try three new supplements and a medication just to feel like I could make the constant meltdowns and complete defensiveness stop. It was a tug of war within myself not to get stuck in self-pity and frantically try every intervention I could think of and just keep turning to God and wait for His guidance. Autism will often throw situations at us that we can't control and as we grow in faith and knowledge of Christ, we will learn to behave more like him when the going gets tough. I'm definitely not there yet, but the baby steps of progress I've made are encouraging and help me to keep pressing on. This verse in Colossians really encouraged me to keep growing in Christ so that I can be up for the challenge on the days when autism unexpectedly gives me more than I feel equipped to handle,

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience". -Colossians 1: 10-11

It's not easy to let go of our old ways of coping and reacting. It is a given that we will never be able to do this on our own strength, but through cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Rick Warren states this well on page 174, "You cannot reproduce the character of Jesus on your own strength. New Year's resolutions, willpower and the best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God want to make in our lives." We release the power of the Holy Spirit by taking steps of faith. When we take conscious time to learn God's word, restructure our lives to reflect our values and make regular, quiet time for God, we can hear the "small, still voice" of the Holy Spirit, convicting and guiding us. By listening, obeying and allowing our hearts and minds to be changed by what God says, we are made more and more like him.

Our fleshly, human impulses can be viewed as very immature and baby-like. As we are convicted and changed, we learn how to "grow up" in Christ. The first thing we need to do to grow spiritually is change the way we think. On page 182, Rick Warren states, "The way you think, determines the way you feel, and the way you feel influences the way you act." Before we start acting like Christ we have to first start thinking the way he thinks. The biggest key identified in Day 23 is to make the shift from only thinking about your own life to thinking first of others. I never really began to grasp this truth until I became a parent and there was another life fully dependent on me. Parenting a child with autism often takes this to an extreme and it sometimes feels as though we have a prolonged "dependent" state of taking care of our children. It helps me to bear this in a more Christ-like way to think that these experiences are building blocks for building Godly character. Growing in compassion for others, helping others in their time of suffering and learning the true meaning of patience are just a few examples that come to mind of how these qualities can be worked into us as we raise our children. This is a huge undertaking, but with the help of the Holy Spirit is fully possible-one baby step at a time.

Bible Verses for Days 22 and 23:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
-Colossians 2: 6-7

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. -Philippians 2: 12-13

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. -Ephesians 4: 22-24

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
-2 Corinthians 3:18

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
-Philippians 2: 1-4

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blessed and Broken

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Days 20 and 21 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

Days 20 (Restoring Broken Fellowship) and 21 (Protecting your Church) deal with avoiding Satan's traps and promoting unity in Christ's body on earth, or his church. This begins in the smallness of our individual interactions with other believers and expands to reflect how our actions can work towards unifying or dividing a church and even the larger Christian community as a whole.

Day 20 begins with this verse from Corinthians:

[God] has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. (2 Corinthians 5:18, GWT, p.152)

God values every relationship and gives us the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as the most perfect example of being in relationship. This is part of loving others as Jesus has loved us. I am learning about RDI, and one of the principles that I recently learned about is relationship repair. This is helping to remediate the areas where our children have difficulty patching miscommunications and working cooperatively in areas where two people see things differently. The truth is we all need training in relationship repair, whether we have autism or not. Many times important relationships are severed because we are unable to solve a conflict peacefully. On page 153, Rick Warren states, "If you want God's blessing on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must learn to be a peacemaker."

I am going to be honest. I truly and deeply dislike conflict, it makes me very uncomfortable. I will often avoid it if at all possible. I realize through reading this chapter that this does not make me a peacemaker. In Day 20, Rick Warren clearly identifies what peacemaking is not, and that is not avoiding conflict or appeasement (p.154). Jesus often refused to back down, especially when faced with evil opposition. He was also known to have created conflict on more than one occasion. I want to never be afraid of conflict like Jesus. Our author elaborates more, saying, "Sometimes we need to avoid conflict, sometimes we need to create it, and sometimes we need to resolve it. That's why we must pray for the Holy Spirit's continual guidance" (p.153)

This leads me to the seven ways to restore a relationship:
Talk to God before talking to the person. It is so tempting to pick up the phone and just vent to a good friend or close family member or to just act on impulse and tell people how we are feeling in the heat of the moment. On page 154, Rick Warren states, "If you will pray about the conflict instead of gossiping to a friend, you will often discover that either God changes your heart or he changes the other person without your help."
Always take the initiative. The quicker we act to heal and restore a broken relationship, the less time bitterness and anger will have to take root in our own hearts. This is so important to Jesus that he actually commands us to make amends with anyone we harbor a grudge against before we come to worship.
Sympathize with their feelings. Feelings and emotions rise and fall and can cause us to act in ways we regret. Allowing the other person to express their side shows that we care about and respect them.
Confess your part of the conflict. This is where pride gets in the way. Admitting your mistakes can help defuse the other person's anger and can begin the process of forgiveness. Honesty is a necessary step to restoring trust.
Attack the problem, not the person. We must choose our words wisely and take great care not to add more hurt to the situation by focusing on who to blame.
Cooperate as much as possible. The emphasis of cooperation as opposed to competition was helpful to me. It's more about working together, looking out for other people's best interests and not our own.
Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution. Our relationships give meaning to our lives. You can agree to disagree often in the short term while you repair the relationship. After fellowship is restored, you will both be better able to solve the problem.

We have all been hurt deeply by other people. Since we are more inclined to expect loving and Christ-like behavior in our church, it cuts deeper when hurtful behavior comes from another Christian. On an individual level, strongholds and conflict within ourselves can keep God from being able to work in our lives. On a bigger level, it can divide a church community and limit the good that God can do within the community and also for the world at large. I also feel deeply that God wants us to further extend our peacemaking from the confines of our churches to the entire Christian community. We all have our differences and I like the way Rick Warren puts this in perspective on page 161, "As believers we share one Lord, one body, one purpose, one Father, one Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, and one love. We share the same salvation, the same life, and the same future-factors far more important than any differences we could enumerate." God created each of us uniquely and to reflect His glory in different ways, I like the way Rick Warren emphasizes "unity" and not "uniformity" in Christ.

Just as our unrealistic expectations of people can lead us to disappointment, we can be disillusioned by unrealistic expectations of what a church should be. I definitely believe that you should make every effort to seek out the church where you feel God wants you to be. It's just important to realize that since churches are comprised of people, imperfections are bound to come up. The important thing is that we are in a place where we can seek grace, grow in God, love one another and belong to a community. Just as we respect God, we are also to respect our church leaders and take great care not to criticize or put them down, in addition to other church members. We must always make every effort to work out differences and resolve our conflicts before deciding to leave a church also.

I would like to close with God's method for conflict resolution, as identified on page 165:

If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him-work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church. (taken from Matthew 18: 15-17)

Bible Verses from Day 20 and 21:

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. -1 Corinthians 1:10

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. -Matthew 5:9

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. -Matthew 5: 23-24

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. -Ephesians 4:3

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
-Romans 14:19

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We are family

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 17, 18, and 19 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

In today's society, our lives are busy. More time is devoted to working long hours to take care of families. More time is spent taking children to this function or that. More time is spent trying to keep up with the Joneses. By the time Sunday comes around, it's difficult for a lot people to devote a whole entire morning to church. In Day 17, 18, and 19, Rick Warren shares with us the importance of belonging to a church family, how to have true fellowship with others, and how to take care of your "community." Why is this important? As Rick Warren tells us on Day 17...."We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God's purpose by ourselves." We have to make time for church, for God and for our spiritual growth.

Let's start by looking at Day 17, A Place To Belong. In this chapter, Rick Warren explains to us the six reasons why it is important to find a church family. They are....a church family identifies you as a believer, a church family moves you out of self-centered isolation, a church family helps you develop spiritual muscle, the Body of Christ needs you, you will share in Christ's mission in the world, and a church family will help keep you from backsliding. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? However, having a child with autism keeps a lot of families from attending church. So what do we do? How can we find a church family that fits our special families? I would encourage you all to research all of the churches in your community. See if you can find a church that has a special needs classrooms. If not, speak with someone at the church to see what they would suggest doing because you would really like to attend. In the area I live, there are three churches right down the street from me that have special needs classes. I didn't realize this until I started searching. I am very fortunate to have a church family that developed a special program just for children with autism. It's wonderful. I know my child is safe and is actually learning about Jesus while I do the same. A lot of churches are doing things to reach out to families like ours. We just need to find them and let them help us.

Rick Warren moves on to Day 18 by sharing the importance of Experiencing Life Together. This is where we are introduced to the word FELLOWSHIP. When I hear the word fellowship for some reason I picture my great-grandmother baking pies for the church fellowship program she's going to that evening. But what does it truly mean? On page 138 Rick says "Real fellowship is so much more than just showing up at services. It is experiencing life together. It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting and all the other "one another" commands found in the New Testament." In other words, it's when you have a group of other believers who place their hearts on the table and truly open up. We can share our fears, our hurts, our sins and never worry about what others are thinking of us. We pray for each other. We help each other. Rick Warren also shows us that through real fellowship we experience authenticity, mutuality, sympathy and mercy. I like to think that we as readers, commenters and writers of this blog, all fellowship together. Let's make our fellowship even stronger and really lean on each other.

On Day 19, we learn how to Cultivate Community. How do we develop a really strong healthy community? The first thing we learn is to cultivate a community we have to be honest. On page 147, Rick writes "Sadly, thousands of fellowships have been destroyed by a lack of honesty." If someone is doing something they shouldn't, we need to speak up and approach this person. We must chose our words wisely and say it as nice as possible. However, we need to be honest. The second thing that cultivates a community is humility. I love how Rick Warren explains humility in this chapter. "Humility is not thinking less of yourself: it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don't think of themselves." Cultivating a community also takes courtesy. To have courtesy towards others we need to understand where people are coming from. We also need to validate other people's feelings. I think too often in our busy society we really don't stop and let others know that it's ok to feel a certain way and really try to be there for them. We just rush to the next thing on our "to do" lists. Confidentiality is also an important part of cultivating a community. For us to really truly share ourselves with others, we need to feel safe. This is why God does not like gossip. It's so easy for us to gossip. We think it's harmless but it can really do a number on fellowship. The last thing that is important with cultivating a community is frequency. It is important to be in contact with your group as much as possible. As Christians, we crave real fellowship. As humans, we can destroy it. Rick shares on page 151..."When you look at the list of characteristics, it is obvious why genuine fellowship is so rare. It means giving up our self-centeredness and independence in order to become interdependent. But the benefits of sharing life together far outweigh the costs, and it prepares us for heaven."

As parents of children on the spectrum, we need to find a church family. We need to belong to this church family to help us during our difficult days and to celebrate with us during our huge milestones. The church is an excellent place to get the support we need. Once we're a part of this wonderful family, it is our responsibility to go even further and find true fellowship. To find other Christians that we can share our fears, our hopes and our hurts. If you don't belong to a church, I encourage you to find one where you can grow as a Christian and where your child can grow up learning about Christ.

Bible Verses from Day 17, 18 & 19

You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family

-Ephesians 2:19b

God's family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

-1 Timothy 3:15b

Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. -Colossians 3:15

How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God's people to live together in harmony! -Psalm 133:1

You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other with dignity and honor. -James 3:18

They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. -Acts 2:42

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Love of A Family

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Days 15 & 16 of Rick Warren's A Purpose Driven Life. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

Days 15 and 16 are the beginning of Purpose #2, You Were Formed For God's Family. When someone is especially close or dear to us, we often say that person is "just like family". Sometimes we are blessed with a family on earth that is supportive and a source of love. There are also times when our earthly family can be broken or badly dysfunctional. Sometimes social status can depend on what family a person is from. We've also heard the expression "You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family". These are just some of the things that come to mind when our human mind thinks of what a family is.

God's idea of a family takes our limited view to a whole new level. We were pre-planned and destined to be part of the greatest, most powerful, influential and dynamic family that possesses riches we can't even imagine: the family of God. God's very nature is love and relationship and out of love we were created to be in relationship with Him and with one another. God is made present when two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20) and our brothers and sisters in Christ help us to grow in love and knowledge of Him, so that we can share Him with the world. The way we love one another in Christ is the most powerful witness to the world, and is one of the most important commandments. Being a part of God's family entitles us to an inheritance, where God will meet all of our needs "according to the glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Rick Warren sums up our inheritance as children of God this way: "First, we will get to be with God forever. Second, we will be completely changed to be like Christ. Third, we will be freed from all pain, death and suffering. Fourth, we will be rewarded and reassigned positions of service. Fifth, we will get to share in Christ's glory." (p.119) Basically, anything we could ever need beyond all imagining belongs to us as part of God's family. We officially become a part of God's family through baptism.

Baptism is our official rite of passage or initiation into the family of God through new life in Jesus Christ. On page 120, Rick Warren states, "Your baptism declares your faith, shares Christ's burial and resurrection, symbolizes your death to your old life, and announces your new life in Christ. It is also a celebration of your inclusion in God's family." Jesus commanded us to do this as well (see Matthew 28:19 below). This is crucial and signifies an important turning point in a Christian's life. With baptism also comes responsibility, for us to continue growing in faith, love and knowledge of God so that we are living the truth of this important sacrament. Rick Warren makes this point also by stating, "Baptism doesn't make you a member of God's family, only faith in Christ does that. Baptism shows that you are a part of God's family." (p.120).

Day 16, What Matters Most takes us further into why God created us to be a part of His family: Love. On page 125, Rick Warren writes, "After learning to love God (worship), learning to love others is the second purpose of your life." Not only are we to love our neighbor, but we are to pay special attention to our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is because, "God wants you to be in regular, close fellowship with other believers so that you can develop the skill of loving" (Rick Warren, p. 124) Having a faith community and meaningful relationships with other believers is a source of strength, accountability and stability. This is an important foundation that we need so that we can share Christ with the world.

There are three important truths about love Rick Warren identifies that are learned through fellowship with other Christians:
Life without love is worthless. Relationships are the most important part of life. They are what give our life meaning and they cannot survive without love. Love will last forever. The love of God is far beyond anything we can conceive. Love is the legacy we leave behind, and how we treat eachother determines what our legacy will be. We will be evaluated on our love. God has instructed us that the most important thing we learn how to do is to love, and how we love determines the quality of our relationships. When our life on earth is over, God wants more than anything to know that we lived this to the fullest and were able to love as He does.

I sometimes think of the autism community, in particular the moms of children with autism as a family of its own. There are many different members who have different views and roles. All are part of the whole. All of us, especially at the beginning of this journey are in such a great need of love. Not just earthly love, but the love of God, that is bigger and greater than the obstacles and heartaches we face. As we fellowship and grow in our own love and knowledge of God, we can be His hands and feet in the world. We can make His love present and bring others into the greatest family there is.

Bible Verses:

1 John 3
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Matthew 28:19
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

John 13: 34-35
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are you there God?

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 13 & 14 of Rick Warren's A Purpose Drive Life. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)

Day 13 opens up with the following Bible verse:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. - Mark 12:30

Read that verse again and then ask yourself I truly giving God all of me or just my leftovers? In the past few weeks, we've learned how to worship and how to become friends with God. Now, we want to make sure our worship is pleasing to God. Rick Warren gives us the four characteristics of worship that is pleasing to God. They are as follows:

* Worship is accurate. In other words, we don't make God out to be who we want him to be. He's exactly who he is in the Bible.

* Authentic worship. This is when we truly feel it. We're not just going through the motions at church. We're actually connecting with God. For me, this happens when I think of how truly awesome God is and all of the incredible things he's done in my life.

* Thoughtful worship. I really like how Rick Warren encourages us on page 104 to use another word besides praise, amen, hallelujah, or thanks. He also tells us to be specific. Thank God for the actual things he's done or doing in your life.

* Practical worship. My absolute favorite thing he wrote for Day 13 was on page 105. "We sing, "Onward Christian Soldiers" on Sunday, then go AWOL on Monday." So unfortunately true. He then continues on with "when you praise God even when you don't feel like it, when you get out of bed to worship when you're tired, or when you help others when you are worn out, you are offering a sacrifice of worship to God. That pleases God."

By now, we have a pretty strong understanding of how to worship God beyond just singing. But what about when the going gets tough? Do we still praise him in the midst of our heartaches? Do we still thank him for our blessings when our prayers are not being answered? It's a heck of a lot harder to worship in the midst of a storm. So how do we do it? How do we get up out of bed every morning and thank him for the day ahead when we know how tough our "autism" days can be? How do we thank him for our blessings when our one prayer request is not being answered? How do we still lift his name up higher than anything else on this earth when he seems so far away?

In Day 14 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren shares with us four things to do during these dark times. On page 107, Rick writes "The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant." So hard, but so true. We all have learned from this chapter that God hides from us intentionally to help us grow. We learn to trust him. The first thing we must remember to do during our storms is to tell God how we're feeling. Tell him we're mad that our children still have autism, we're scared that no one seems to agree on what we can do to help our precious children, that it's a financial struggle, it's impacting our marriages, our health and by golly our sanity! He already knows how we're feeling but he wants to hear it from us. I believe it's because it breaks down that wall we put up between us and him. The more we open up to him, the more we rely on him and trust in him. Think about your group of friends. The ones you are the closest to are the ones you share more with how you feel about things. That's what God wants. The second thing Day 14 tells us to remember during the dark times is to focus on who God is, his unchanging nature. On page 111, it says "Remind yourself what you know to be eternally true about God: He is good, he loves me , he is with me, he knows what I'm going through, he cares and he has a good plan for my life." We have to remember these things during our most trying days. The third thing we need to remember is that we need to trust God to keep his promises. On page 112, Rick says "When you feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust him tin spite of your feelings, you worship him in the deepest way." The last thing and most important thing that Rick encourages us to remember during these dark times is what God has already done for you. God sent his only Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross. For this reason, we should desire to worship God through all of eternity.

So let's take it all back to autism. Let's say that today has been a really tough day. Maybe a tough week. Usually your child is connected, playing, language is pretty great. Sure he has autism but he's making some great milestones. You're going to church. Reading your Bible. Participating in this really cool online Bible study. Everything is falling into place. Then...BAM! The storm hits you. Your child is in his own world again. He's scripting, humming, not playing, behaviors are through the roof. You haven't done anything different. You pray. You pray for healing. You pray for wisdom. Nothing. You don't understand what's going on. You start to wonder did he eat something he shouldn't? Is he catching a bad virus? Is this the toxins inside of him? Did someone do something to him at school? Is he regressing again? You pray. No answer. At this point, we panic. We grasp for straws. We forget about the four things that Rick Warren encourages us to remember. We are in the midst of the storm and it's a big one. At this point our child needs us to be strong. They need us to stand firm against these winds and draw near to God. How do we find him? Through worship. Know that God is with us. Believe that he is with us. Remember everything that he's done for us in the past. Including Jesus dieing on the cross. We will get through this. Even if we can't feel God near us, he's there. Just keep pressing forward and know that God has our very best interest in heart. And remember our Verse to Remember for Day 14...

"For God has said "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you." Hebrews 13:5

I know we all have our tough days. I know that if I am having a great day today, there's another mom of a child with autism who is having a tough day. I believe what Rick Warren wants us to learn from Day 14 is that worshipping God during the tough days is the best worship of all. I'd like to do something different this week. I'd like for us all to write in the comment section below this post something wonderful that God has done for your family as far as autism is concerned. Maybe it's a milestone your child reached, a new outlook on life that you have gained or even a prayer that's been answered. This way, when you have that tough day or I have a tough day, we can all go back and read the good things that are happening for all of us and for our children. I believe this will help us all to worship God when we need to the most!

Bible Verses:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. -Romans 8:28

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. -Psalm 27:14

"Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." -Mark 12:30

The Lord has hidden himself from his people, but I trust him and place my hope in him. -Isaiah 8:17

"For God has said, "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you." -Hebrews 13:5