27 December 2007

Best Lines: Charlotte Mason on False Humility

Tonight, as the girls were playing in the tub, I had a chance to read for a moment. Charlotte Mason's Ourselves is packed so full of insight that it is perfect for bite-sized reading. I like to take a bite and think about it as I do something else. Trust me, when you are reading something great, something brimming with ideas, even the humdrum tasks of the day are interesting. Bored comes from a general lack of interest in things, I think.

Anyhow, on to humility:
But no grace of heart is so travestied in our thoughts as this of Humility. We call cowardice Humility. We say--'Oh, I can't bear pain, I am not as strong as you are'; 'I can't undertake this and that, I have not the ability that others have'; 'I am not one of your clever fellows, there is no use in my going in for reading'; 'Oh, I'm not good enough, I could not teach a class in the Sunday School,' or, 'care for the things of the spiritual life.' Again, what we call Humility is often a form of Hypocrisy. 'Oh! I wish I were as capable as you,' we say, 'or as good,' or 'as clever,' priding ourselves secretly on the very unfitness which seems to put us somehow, we hardly know how, out of the common run of people. The person who is loud in his protestations of Humility is commonly hugging himself upon his compensations we do not know of, and which, to his own thinking, rank him before us after all.

This sort of thing has brought Humility into disrepute. People take these self-deceivers at their word, and believe that they are humble; so, while they acknowledge Humility to be a Christian grace, it is a grace little esteemed and rarely coveted. This error of conception opens the gate for Pride, who comes riding full tilt to take possession. We prefer to be proud, openly proud of some advantage in our circumstances or our parentage, proud of our prejudices, proud of an angry or resentful temper, proud of our easy-going ways, proud of idleness, carelessness, recklessness; nay, the very murderer is a proud man, proud of the skill with which he can elude suspicion or destroy his victim. "Thank God, I have always kept myself, to myself," said a small London housekeeper who did not "hold with neighbouring." There is hardly a failing, a fault or a crime which men have not felt to be a distinction, a thing to be proud of. We can do few things simply, that is, without being aware that it is we who are doing them, and taking importance to ourselves for the fact.

[snip]

The thing is, not to think of ourselves at all...There are many ways of getting away from the thought of ourselves; the love and knowledge of birds and flowers, of clouds and stones, of all that nature has to show us; pictures, books, people, anything outside of us, will help us to escape from the tyrant who attacks our hearts.

26 December 2007

Best Lines

There is nothing like the stomach flu to give occasion for our family to aquaint themselves with their new books. Thankfully, we received many welcome editions this Christmas, which are sure to console us through the next 24 to 48 hours.

One book that we received was Great Children's Stories, which Rahime gave to her nephew. Si was reading it to the children before bed tonight. It contains all the timeless old stories that, only a few years ago, were hard to find outside of the Disnified versions. The editor took the time to make sure that many of the words were beautiful, even though it is easy for a child to read alone. Here is my favorite line so far {from The Bremen Town Musicians}:
Soon they came upon a cat sitting by the road, making a face like three rainy days.

25 December 2007

The Christmas Report

It is 9:15ish on Christmas evening, and Si and I are almost done unpacking all of the generous gifts given to our family. The dishwasher is whirring, full of our brand new stainless steel cookware by Emeril. Si has just finished making homemade ice milk, something he does more often than he should {either that, or he should learn to use Stevia}.

All of the family celebrations went well, I think. We received a somewhat last minute visit from Si's dad, his dad's wife, and his younger brother. The children love their Uncle Larry because he is only seventeen and has loads of energy to use playing with them. And that was such a wonderful way to start off the holidays!

I met my dad's new partner from work. She and her husband joined our family for Christmas since their own family is distant. She told me she reads this blog, which, naturally, flustered me, and now she knows how much cooler I am on paper than I am in person. Her husband met with my approval as he drank more than his share of my experimental appetizer, coconut chicken soup served in a mug and sprinkled with green onion and cilantro, and enthusiastically so at that.

Everyone else that we saw we expected to see. My younger sister and her family came up from Orange County. The others live here, and it was fun to have three new additions {between two sides of the family} enjoying their first Christmas. They were all girls, by the way {one was Baby Q., of course}. I think we will be needing some more boys soon.

I can't leave off without mentioning some of the best gifts of the season. My husband knows I am paranoid about cell phone radiation and he bought me some neutralizers! This is now the only thing stopping me from throwing it away and vowing to become a Luddite.

The Boy received a bike just his size, complete with training wheels, and he is ecstatic. A. got her first tricycle, and I think there is a new learning curve in store for our Usual Morning Walk. Q. received some toys, but mainly played with the boxes, which was to be expected. I bought Si the Worldview Training for the 21st Century audio CDs to keep him thinking during his commute. I don't call him the Worldview Guru for nothing, so the gift worked for him. My homemade gifts went over well enough that I feel comfortable sharing with you about them in the future.

There were a number of sweet moments over the course of the last four days, but I think I am most thankful for a son who ran to me and hugged me instead of noticing his gifts on Christmas morning, a daughter who left unwrapping presents to rummage through the pantry and eat raisins, and a baby who appreciates a box. I saw this glimmer of hope in them, that maybe it is possible to raise children who delight in a gift without giving themselves to materialism.

And I am, as always, thankful for the faithful loving husband who is so very easy on the eyes and the heart.

24 December 2007

Merry Christmas and My Gift to You

My father sent me something earlier this week, but it wasn't until last night that Si and I were able to settle down and enjoy it. It was so wonderful, so enlightening and enriching, that I decided to give you all a link for Christmas.

So here you go. As you can see if you clicked on the link, it is an audio collection of the speeches of Ronald Reagan. The first one is perhaps the most important because it is here that Reagan compares and contrasts conservatism with liberalism {which is a fancy name for socialism} and explains why liberalism {socialism} is not compatible with the American experiment.

I would say that having become so liberal since this speech was given {in 1964} it is hard to say that our country is still "American" in the classical sense, in the sense that America was an experiment in the realm of ideas.

All of that to say, continuing education is the best gift any human person could give or receive, I think.

So Merry Christmas.

21 December 2007

Frugal Moment: Planning for Christmas

I know, I know. It is a bit late to write about "planning" for Christmas since Christmas is only a few short days away, meaning that most of what is done in this time period is often called "last minute." But my mom told me a story a few days ago I couldn't resist reflecting on publicly. Hopefully, she doesn't mind!

Actually, I don't even know if I can say it is a story. It's very simple, really: She and my father once knew a family who claimed they didn't have enough to buy their children Christmas presents. However, they unfailingly gave their children something they needed in the weeks preceding Christmas {new socks, gloves, pants, etc.}.

As an aside, I think I will mention that I think folks should quit buying things for themselves in October or November. More than once, I have purchased something "perfect" for someone, only to have them buy it for themselves before Christmas!

Anyhow, my real point is that having a bit of foresight comes in handy for one with lesser means. Even if one "cannot afford" gifts, one must admit that there is something one plans to buy for the child in the next two or three months. I do this for Christmas all the time. This year, for instance, it was easy to see that both girls will be needing warm pants before winter is over. They probably could have used them the past two weeks, but it is worth it to save them and make them special by wrapping them up and giving them for Christmas.

One can debate about whether it is wiser to, for instance, buy the pants new, or instead buy them second-hand. That is not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that children can be given something if one only thinks hard enough.

Fill a stocking with homemade cookies. Add in those socks and undies that they were going to need by spring anyhow. Small, newly potty-trained children get a kick out of receiving new underwear! Does Baby need a sippy cup of her own? Wrap it up for Christmas!

I remember reading a blog post last year where, in the comments section, the moms were debating over giving their children necessities for the holidays. There was a bit of waxing eloquent over the luxuries of God, how He is so generous with us and gives us special gifts and we should do this for our children at Christmas.

In one sense, I agree. But as I read it, I couldn't help but think that the women engaged in this discussion had no idea what it is like to be poor. And I'm not saying that I think I have experienced true poverty, because I don't think I have.

I wanted to tell the people in the discussion to go read Little Women. These girls were given the luxury of oranges for Christmas.

To the poor, the necessities feel like luxuries. Why not wrap them up?

20 December 2007

Reading Mary Pride for the First Time*

She sighed. "See, you read different books than I did at your age," she said with a smile. And then she pressed two unfamiliar books into my hands and urged me to read them. I took them. Of course I would read them. I am a reader, after all.

The books she lent me are Mary Pride's The Way Home and All the Way Home. I had heard of Mary Pride, and was vaguely aware that she began it all in a way--the exodus of Christian women from feminism and its various entrapments, including, but not limited to, the post-Industrial workplace and the government-funded institutional schoolroom.

It is interesting to read Pride's words, informed as she was by her own personal {pre-conversion} experience in the feminist movement. Her introduction contained an indictment against the fifties, something I didn't expect, although I personally have been uncomfortable with the whole wife-as-decoration mentality with which our culture seems to remember that decade. Here is an excerpt:
Well, who would have believed in 1955 that in twenty short years over one-third of all mothers with children under the age of three would be leaving their infants in day-care? But it happened! The reason it happened, in a land where apple pie and motherhood used to be sacred, is that Christians, along with everyone else, had already accepted the basic outlook on which feminism is based. Feminism is self-consistent; the Christianity of the fifties wasn't. Feminists had a plan for women; Christians didn't.

Although the Bible teaches distinctly what a wife's role shoud be this teaching had been getting more and more muted in the churches until it was almost muffled entirely. Women did not know their calling or why it was important. They became restless.

Motherhood in the fifties, for example, had been reduced to a five- or ten-year span, lasting only until the youngest of the two or three "planned" children was in kindergarten. With an empty house full of labor-saving appliances and a family which no longer seemed to need her, it was understandable that a woman felt trapped at home. She was not expected to produce anything at home; her very inactivity was a status symbol for her husband, proving he could afford to maintain her in idleness. All the action seemed to be out there in the men's world, while she felt bored and useless.

I have alluded to my disdain for the way culture views the SAHM {stay-at-home-mom}, that women, should they remain home with their children, then exist only to chauffeur said children to and from various activities that are perceived as generally more important than the life of the home. People who believe this about motherhood are the people who ask mothers what they could possibly be doing all day. Unfortunately, the popularly accepted alternative remains the same as it was in the days Mary Pride first wrote her book: ditch the kid with a caregiving "specialist" and work "professionally." I've finished the first book, and might share a few more reflections. For now, let me assure any of you who have not read Pride's work that she has affirmed that happy, biblical alternative to the housewife and the career woman, balancing being at home with a great work ethic, creativity, and intelligence.


*NOTE: Quoting or endorsing this book {or any other book for that matter} does not mean that I believe it to be inspired by God or infallible. There were a few places where I disagreed with Pride. However, I appreciated her respect for and her desire to be obedient to the Word of God.

19 December 2007

Tics: There and Back Again {Part IV}

It all started with a one week trial. Si and I discussed it, and it seemed worth it to try going off of wheat. The way I see it, especially now, is that food trials and dietary adjustment are a great way to go. We were at a point where any future tests might be painful and/or dangerous {not to mention expensive}. Any possible treatments involved risking terrible side-effects and future resistance to drugs. Any possible diagnosis might result in having a label placed on our child, which implied the threat of government intervention {the government can be quite pushy once a child is labeled with a disability or impairment}.

Dietary adjustment, on the other hand, is relatively risk-free. It is annoying, to be sure, especially in the case of gluten or soy, which are in almost everything. There are no side-effects, and, if it doesn't work, things can always go back to the old way in no time flat. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

E. was already off of dairy due to some problem--I still don't know if it is an intolerance or an allergy or what--so going gluten-free-casein-free {GFCF} wouldn't be as big a step for us as it would for some families. My use of milk in cooking was only an occasional slice of cheese or sprinkling of parmesan.

So I did it.

Every Monday, I sit down and map out our menu for the week. After this, I make a grocery list. I cannot express how hard it was for me to find a week's worth of food that were gluten-free. I hadn't realized how much gluten we consumed until that moment because we don't eat a lot of bread. But gluten is in pasta and stuffing and cereal and even lots of brands of catsup. It can be a filler in sausage or kielbasa. It can lurk in all sorts of packaged and canned foods.

In fact, I bought special catsup for our week's trial because I wasn't about to give up our Sunday evening tradition of, among other things, country-fried potatoes that the children dip in catsup.

Tuesday night was the first night I cooked this way.

By Friday, he was free of tics.

A week later, I was in tears...

_____________________
Read Part I
Read Part II
Read Part III
You are reading Part IV
Read Part V

Two Books Clubs in One Month?

Is it possible to be in two books clubs at one time? We will find out by the end of January. Both clubs are open for you to participate in!

First, we have my second attempt at an online book club. Last time, I failed miserably. This time, Grace has decided to join me, and Grace is the person to make just about any event {virtual or real life} a grand success. Kristie is participating also, but I do wonder where she will post her thoughts as she hasn't a blog of her own. Would you like to post here, old friend? You may, if you like.

Anyhow, this first book is Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ by Brother Andrew. My goal is to have the book finished by the end of January, posting my thoughts as I go with an official review at the end, maybe the first week of February.

If you want to read along with this book, let me know if you do not have a blog and would like to post your reflections here.

The second book club is not my invention, meaning it will have more participation. It is hosted by Cindy and the book is Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. I am reading it online for free because it doesn't suit us economically to purchase the book. Si says he will read it with me. I have a feeling the book will inspire me to write more chapters of Back in the USSA, which I was planning to do anyhow, but maybe I will do it better after expanding my mind with a good book.

Will you join me in this electronic conversation? Let me know and I will link to your posts!

18 December 2007

Nursing the Wee Ones With Garlic

I once romanticized what it would be like when I became a Mommy and was up at night caring for a sick child. There is one, and only one, reason for this: no one ever told me that it was quite likely I would be sick also! In all my teenaged fantasies about this sacrificial part of motherhood, I never considered the sacrifice coming from a position of weakness. I always thought I would be the strong, well-rested Mommy coming to the rescue, not the weak, sniffling Mommy reaching for a tissue and wishing she were back in bed.

Last night was one of those nights. I had been up late making Christmas gifts. Before I even got a chance to slip into bed, Baby Q. was up crying. And then croaking the most horrible cough I have ever heard. I dutifully suctioned her nose while she screamed, but at least she could breath more easily in the end.

And then I rocked her. And as I rocked her, I listened to her labored breathing and a slightly suspicious rattle in her chest.

It was time to pull out the garlic.

I took Q. to Si while I prepared my supplies. Si put her in a steamy bath, which quickly changed her tune from pouting to playing. And I made her a folk remedy that has proven true every time. I don't know if it will work for everyone, but it cetainly helps our family.

I take a clean washcloth and fill it with a tablespoon {or two if it's for an adult} of minced or crushed garlic. I fold the washcloth up so that there is no way the garlic will escape. I boil water. I pour boiling or almost boiling water over the washcloth. At this point, the whole house begins to smell like Italian food.

Yum.

I take said washcloth to the bathtub and make sure it is still warm but not enough to burn. And then I press it to the skin. Usually, I hold it to the back, chest, and bottoms of the feet for about 15 seconds each. If the child is complaining about their ear, I hold it over the ear for 15 seconds and then also do the feet. Skin is permeable, and garlic is considered an anti-fungal, anti-viral, all around good-for-your-health sort of plant. Some people eat it. We bathe in it.

After we have done a set or two of 15 second intervals, I wash the child so they no longer smell like food. This way, if I have to get up with them later, they don't make me hungry.

You know what? Baby Q. slept well the rest of the night. We put her down in the playpen in our room just in case I needed to get to her quickly.

The toddler woke up at 3:00 AM to interrogate me. She toddled in and stood there staring at me. Then she poked me somewhat forcefully. The she growled: "Q. seep in me woom!"

{Translation: Baby Q. sleeps in my room.}

I told her we would talk about it in the morning.

17 December 2007

Good News

The kids are sick. Si is actually sick enough that he came home from work for the first time in...well, ever, actually. Oh. And the computer crashed. Right now, it is on life support here in the home office. We have performed resuscitation more than once, and we are hoping that it holds on long enough for us to harvest its organs in a way that suits us. If this works it will give a fuller life to the extra, hand-me-down computer that my dad gave me only a week or so ago.

In fact, the crashed computer perhaps overheard me tell my dad that I thought it was on the way out and won't it be nice to switch things over before they get ugly?

Hence the suicide attempt, which slightly resembles one of those high school breakups. You know: I break up with you before you break up with me.

Anyhow, if you emailed me and didn't receive a reply, this is why. I might be a bit hit-and-miss this week.

15 December 2007

More Mystery of Autism Quotes




Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and
Pervasive Developmental Disorder:
A Mother's Story of Research & Recovery


I was going to reserve this for quotes in the latter third of the book, but I couldn't resist starting off with one that I had forgotten in the earlier quote post. Again, I will try and give quotes {with references to original sources if necessary} and headings to separate them.

Let me know your thoughts! All anecdotal evidence is welcome here. It's not scientific in the current sense, but there was a time when science began as a state of observation, of simply looking at the world around us and wondering and thinking and figuring it out. In that sense, anecdotes are the beginning of science.

  • Are some forms of arthritis a result of food allergies?
    I certainly should not have been surprised by the connection between food and physical well-being. My mother suffered from crippling arthritis at the age of forty that turned out to be an allergy to "nightshade" foods: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Her instantaneous recovery baffled her doctor, who was more inclined to call the problem psychological than he was to admit the possibility of a food allergy. Over the years I had seen the odd slipup, when she ate some ketchup or a few french fries, and I knew how bitterly she regretted it the following day. {p. 66}
  • What are the vaccination connections that people keep referring to?
    "We believe we have actually found measles antigen at the sites of disease in the bowel. Based on viral DNA comparisons, we believe its origin in the MMR vaccine, and that autism may be a gastrointestinal disease." [Dr. Andrew Wakefield] {p.156}
    [I]t seemed obvious to me that a genetic predisposition toward immune system dysfunction was the groundwork for the ultimate condition of autism.

    The recipe was simple: start with a child from a family like mine and add cow's milk, ear infections, long-term antibiotics, diphtheria {3x}, tetanus {3x}, pertussis {3x}, haemophilus influenza B, oral polio {2x}, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and rebella before the first eighteen months, then let simmer until all language and social skills have disappeared. {p. 182}
    Later, when I spoke with Dr. Yazbak about his preliminary findings, he told me that he was quickly coming to the conclusion that any live, attenuated virus should not be given to women after their late teens, especially before, during, or after a pregnancy. {p. 183}
    In many of the children, Wakefield found a red "halo" around the lesions, which signals early stages of Crohn's disease. Although he identified measles antigen at these sites, and assumed that this was due to an underlying chronic gastrointestinal measles infections, he also discussed the possibility that the combination of measles and mumps in the same vacination was partially to blame for the damage, citing records collected by the medical associations in Iceland and in the United Kingdom. {p. 196}
  • What type of mother will do the diet?
    "Well, I suppose I could take away all of the dairy," she said. "But I don't think I'll be able to take away wheat." If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I'd be a rich woman. How odd to hear someone say that she would go only so far to help her children.

    "I'll tell you the difference between you and me," I said finally. "When I discovered that taking away some milk made a slight difference, I immediately took away all milk. When I discovered that gluten might be implicated, I took that away as well. It wasn't easy, but it was easier than spending the rest of my life with an autistic child. If you are in denial about this, I suggest you get out of it quickly, for your son's sake. It was nice seeing you again."

    I trembled as I pushed my cart away. Later, I called Lisa and felt her anger rise as I described the incident.

    "I know exactly how you felt," she said. "I've met a hundered like her. I always tell them that when their child's welfare becomes more important than their own convenience, that is when they'll be ready to do something. It's a harsh thing to say, but it's the truth." {p. 162-163}
  • Really? Remove foods?
    What you need to understand is that for certain children, these foods are toxic to their brains. For some, removing gluten may be far more important than removing dairy products. You would never knowingly feed your child poison, but if he fits into this category, that is exactly what you could be doing. It is possible that for this subgroup of people with autism, eating these foods is actually damaging the developing brain. {p. 208-209}
  • Can children really recover from autism?
    When Dr. Rimland stopped by to pick up Alan for a meeting, he walked into the kitchen to find the two children standing on the chairs at the counter, wearing oversized aprons and giggling, taking turns adding rice flour to the mixing bowl, singing out, "Your turn," "your turn!"

    "What are you two doing?" he asked, smiling.

    "Making cookies!" they replied in unison.

    "You can have some cookies when they're done," Miles promised. "We'll save you some."

    "Miles, let me have the big spoon. You can use the cup," Annie said.

    "Okay. Careful, you spilled a little!"

    "These are our two little dietary success stories," I told Dr. Rimland. "What do you think?"

    "These are...?" Dr. Rimland looked at me quizzically, then suddenly, he realized that these two children had once been diagnosed with autism. "They're--they're wonderful," he said in amazement, taking a step back and looking at the children once again. "Wonderful," he added softly. {p. 187}


___________________
Read More:
Mystery of Autism Review
Quote Selection

14 December 2007

Guest Editorial: Letter to a Christian Church {Part 3}

This is the final installment of Si's Letter to a Christian ChurchHere is day one, and here is day two, in case you missed them. Reading them in order is good, since they were originally one, flowing, larger work. He, unlike me, actually wrote this in order.

I so admire orderliness in others.

He doesn't pull punches in his analysis, for sure. But he felt compelled to write as candidly and biblically as he could. He tells me that only by seeing ourselves as we are will we recognize a need to change. This entire letter is his way of doing that on a large scale. He also tried on a smaller scale, but to Be sure to read a follow-up note after the post. I think you'll find it very interesting.

* * *


The church has lost her witness. That is to say, her example of Christ to the unbelieving world has been severely handicapped by the lostness of her biblical mind and spiritual heart, both of which directed her redemptive activity in ages past. History demonstrates that, since Pentecost, Christians have taken seriously their mission to save souls. But whatever happened to the church’s emphasis on fulfilling the other God-given mandate, the one found in Genesis, known as the Cultural Commission? Due chiefly to ignorance of this commission, believers have neglected their calling to be God’s ambassadors on earth, His agents of redemptive change in every area of society. Put differently, the saints of God are called not only to save souls through the preaching of the Gospel but also to redeem fallen culture by living out biblical principles everywhere they can. The kindly fruits of Christianity have long been known by the unbelieving world (until recently), recognizable wherever Christians have worked to raise godly beauty from the ashes of fallen society. Whether called the “Cultural Commission,” the “Dominion Mandate” or merely “genuine Christianity,” the effect has been the same: The church, when living out its redemptive calling toward souls and societies, has been a testimony of the goodness, mercy and wisdom of God for all the world to see. Will the church today have the resolve to stand in the footprints of Christianity’s great culture makers? Will we be known by our fruit?

The church has lost her witness in unity. Despite denominational differences, the church remains the Body of Christ on earth. But unlike a normal body, our members have little to do with each other. They prefer instead to honor their mutual tolerance by never interacting, finding common ground or unifying to fulfill their common mission to the lost. Yet with the Trinity as our supreme example of unity in diversity, why do Christian churches refrain from, at minimum, serving together in the name of Christ? The day that the congregations in our city agree to find a common purpose and serve Christ side by side is the day that the light of Christian unity will be rekindled from its long dormancy—and the day when the Bride of Christ will again appear beautiful, mysterious and compelling to those who see her. Shall custom and pride continue to separate us, or will we be known by our love?

Finally, the church has lost her witness in unrighteousness. There is no excuse for sinful behavior, especially among church leaders, that stains the holy garments of the Bride as well as her reputation in the world: sexual immorality, greed, covetedness, slander, falsehood, mismanagement, divorce, etc. Led by the great Accuser and always willing to expose moral failings in the church, those in flight from God revel in finding reasons to reject and slander the Christian faith. In view of this potential humiliation, which hangs over the church like a sword, how much pastoral energy is devoted to teaching souls about the righteousness of God, His holy claim upon our lives, surrendering daily to His Spirit, Christian duty, the moral law of God or any number of subjects related to conformity to Christ’s image? Theological sermons may produce knowledgeable laymen, but it will not instruct them on how to live christianly. No believer leads a perfect life, to be sure. But just as redemptive culture-making and Christian unity provide glimpses into the supernatural dimension of Christ’s church, the acts of confession, repentance and restoration of a sinning saint testify to the same. What will the testimony of the church be to the watching world? Will we be known by our integrity?

* * *


Si mailed this four-page letter {all three parts and then some} to 25 evangelical churches in our town. He invited a delegate from each church {e.g., a pastor or elder} to attend a cross-denominational meeting over a free lunch at a local restaurant. The aim was to discuss the challenges facing Christians in our city and how our churches can begin restoring what's been lost: the mind, the heart and the witness of the Church.

A banquet room was reserved. An agenda was thought out. The letters were mailed in a timely manner. Guess how many churches responded?

That's right...none! {Except for the pastor from our church, but that was expected.}

Because the pastors' response was so underwhelming, I told him I would post the letter for my readers. Perhaps it will bear more fruit in this medium. Not that this was his final effort in this area, but Christmas is upon us, so anything more will have to wait until the New Year.

13 December 2007

Guest Editorial: Letter to a Christian Church {Part 2}

This is the second installment of my husband's "Letter to a Christian Church," which he drafted to leaders of the Evangelical Church. You might want to read Part I first.

* * *


The church has lost her heart. That is to say, her life is no longer characterized by holy zeal, faithful ministry and a spiritual focus that gives meaning to these expressions. Like the brethren at Ephesus, today’s churchgoers have forgotten their First Love by neglecting his departing command to make disciples. The evangelistic fire that once burned across the land has gone cold. It has been stifled by fear and lack of readiness. The church’s leadership has only encouraged believers’ dereliction by softening Christ’s pronouncement to “go and tell” into an invitation to “come and see” what our church is doing this Sunday. What initiative to preach the Gospel is required when paid staff do it for us once a week in an entertaining, “relevant,” 20-minute speech? The health of any Christian church can be measured in part by its spiritual reproduction, just as we judge a vegetable garden by its physical reproduction. Noses and numbers notwithstanding, does the spiritual reproduction rate of our churches confirm or condemn our fulfillment of the Great Commission? Or do we deflect that question altogether in favor of the temporal satisfaction of seeing pews warmed by those enticed by our marketing slogans and trendy sermon titles? That which produces greater pleasure in us reveals the object of our heart’s truest affections.

The church has lost her heart to minister. Having spent untold years receiving the blessings of biblical instruction but opening few doors to pour out these blessings to others, believers’ natural, spiritual response to God’s stirring—loving service—has become easier and easier to ignore. Though created to healthfully receive and give like the Jordan River, the people of God instead appear more like the Dead Sea, a cesspool of lifeless, stale water with no outlet. Enabling this spiritual entropy are several factors, foremost being the mistaken belief that only church staff do the work of ministry. “Is that not what we pay them to do?” a tithing member might ask. No, the teaching of the Word is for the equipping of the Body—all of us—for the work of service. Each member of Christ is given a dispensation of the Spirit for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them and, eventually, reach unity in the faith. Oh, sweet unity! But the workers of God are spiritually robbed when their leaders monopolize ministries, fail to equip the saints to serve, bind willing hearts and encourage the mindset that those most qualified to minister are paid professionals. For the sake of the believer’s spiritual nourishment, the overall unity of the church and the Kingdom of God among us, the saints should no longer be made to feel comfortable squandering their spiritual gifts in negligent disobedience.

Lastly, the church has lost her heart’s spiritual vision. The flesh needs no help in blinding the believer to his spiritual nature. In their war against each other, the former regularly attempts to convince the Christian that the latter does not exist. Secular culture does its part by assuming and promoting a purely materialistic, naturalistic worldview. Against these forces, does the church raise its every resource to restore a supernatural perspective among its flesh-bound parishioners? Do we hear our teachers proclaim, “You are a soul; you have a body,” or by their silence do they affirm the existence of the hollowed-out man? In a world filled with physicality, the church cannot afford to leave the secular view of humanity unchallenged. Failure in this task will ring the death knell for the church, for only in the affirmation of the spiritual realm do evangelism, worship, ministry and personal holiness make sense. Without spiritual vision, the saints of God are damned to the shallow self-focus of man-made religion. Any biblical teaching, from the pulpit to the nursery, or any ministry, whether to the saints or the unsaved, that neglects to recognize or engage man’s spiritual nature castrates orthodox Christianity. The renewal of the Christian heart must have as its foundation the ability to see the physical world with spiritual eyes. Only then will spiritual thinking and action again be possible.

12 December 2007

Guest Editorial: Letter to a Christian Church {Part 1}

Have I ever mentioned that Si is a writer? He is. A good one, actually. A few weeks ago, he went on a business trip for three days. He's not one to waste time, so he spent several hours penning his thoughts about the Evangelical Church in America. The letter, which he entitled Letter to a Christian Church, is divided into three parts. I offered to post the main portion of the letter over the course of the next three days.

By the way, this isn't meant to be only a criticism. In the future I will explain Si's plan of action on how to deal with this, or at least how he plans to try to deal with it here in our own town.

* * *

The church has lost her mind. That is to say, she no longer thinks the thoughts of Christ or avails herself of his gracious gift of biblical reasoning. The Christian mind displays the extent of its lostness every day in its inability to think biblically about any subject commonly thought to be “secular.” No longer trained in church to apply biblical reasoning to seemingly non-spiritual matters {e.g., the purchase of a car, the use of birth control, workplace ethics, etc.}, believers are left to make each life decision on the basis of pragmatic, even carnal considerations. They cannot help it. Theirs is a mind of sparse biblical categories with which to think about life. This is an indictment of church leaders, who are called not only to impart but to model a Christian mind to those in their spiritual charge. Do not be misled: Mature bodies and warm hearts are no substitutes for a biblically impoverished mind.

The church has lost her mind in worship. Christ’s promise that his people would worship God in spirit and in truth has been twisted into an invitation to sing praise songs in thoughtless emotion. While a definite place exists for diverse worship styles, which God-enthroned heart does not recoil at irreverent or theologically shallow choruses whose object is more human than divine? What does worship God “in truth” mean if not that every word of every song conform to both logic and sound doctrine? But the words that so often proceed from the mouths of God’s people lack spiritual depth, content and worth. Absent the richness and beauty of the truths of God found in Scripture, the church must rely on manufactured emotion to charge her time of worship. Dimmed lights, throbbing drums, building crescendos and repetitive stanzas: though they may deceive the heart, the mind lays spiritually inactive, longing to cling to and exalt in the glorious doctrines of our Lord and Savior. Herein lies another judgment upon us. Who, if not the teachers within the Christian church, are called to and responsible for training up the believing mind in these glorious doctrines? Who, if not the teachers, are afforded the privilege every week of expounding the wondrous truths found in history’s great hymns? May God forgive the church for confusing emotion with spirituality, for tolerating worthless substitutes for doctrinal declarations of worship, and for ill-preparing believers to know the difference.

The church has lost her mind in defending the faith. Though the enemies of truth gather in ever-growing numbers and boldness, church leaders have performed a shameful defense of their spiritual heritage by neglecting to prepare Christian minds for battle in the marketplace of ideas. In the area in which we should be the most well-versed and comfortable, precious few in our pews can present a convincing case for faith in Christ. Name 20 people in your congregation who can argue against Naturalism or Postmodernism, the two primary worldviews in American society? Ten people? Five? How many can contend for the faith against door-to-door cult evangelists without ending the discussion by saying, “Well, that’s just what I believe on faith”? The church is sent out like sheep among wolves, yet one of her greatest weapons—the Christian mind—is as dull as a spoon. Despite the non-intellectual culture present in our country, and evangelical churches in general, believers must be prepared to employ that aspect of the image of God especially designed for defending the faith—the mind—with the aim to tear down ideological strongholds, bringing every thought in captivity to the obedience of Christ.

11 December 2007

Mystery of Autism Quote Selection




Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and
Pervasive Developmental Disorder:
A Mother's Story of Research & Recovery


If I reported every single quote that struck me from this book, I think I would be in violation of copyright laws! There was so much to learn, and the writing was so engaging that it pulled me into the learning process right with the author, like I was playing detective alongside her. And I suppose I have felt like a detective in the recent past, so maybe that was part of it.

As in all of my reading, I had moments where I was struck by how little I know. It is a healthy, humbling experience. I love the feeling of sitting at someone's feet, absorbing all their wisdom, but trying to also sift out anything that might be harmful or wrong.

Some of the quotes in this book were simply shocking to me. These are the quotes I decided to share, the ones that challenged how I viewed autism, or other neurological issues. All quotes are directly from the book, but I will try to make a note of the original source if the book was quoting someone else. I'll also add some headings to separate the quotes.

  • Is autism a biological drug trip?
    In reading about autism I have come across several characteristics of autistic children that are strikingly similar to those of people "tripping" on LSD or mushrooms:
    • Extreme self-absorbency
    • Insecurity and need for familiarity
    • Staring at an object at length
    • Self-stimulatory behavior
    • Postural insecurity
    • Sensory overstimulation
    • Inappropriate laughter and irrational fears
    • Paranoia and difficulty with eye contact
    • Bizarre preoccupations
    • Difficulty communicating
    • Unusual responses to food
    • Abnormal serotonin levels

    Watching my son move about the living room, I see an eerie connection. I remember a sort of overwhelming pseudodizziness, a sense of overstimulation that made me feel like I had to shut down for a few moments, so I would lie, facedown on the carpet for a few moments, until I felt better. I see Miles doing the same thing and I really think I understand why. {p 43-44}
  • Is there any connection between autism and schizophrenia?
    I also heard a talk by Dr. William Cade, who was looking at urinary peptides in his lab at the University of Florida, with similar findings to those of Paul Shattock and Kalle Reichelt. He had originally discovered these substances in the urine of people with schizophrenia, and then later, in those with autism. When his schizophrenic patients implemented the gluten-free, dairy-free diet, many of them experienced a spontaneous remission.{p. 115}

    [snip]

    "Wait, I just had a thought," I said excitedly. "What if the age of onset determines the ultimate diagnosis? Like, if a whole family has the predisposition, some kind of 'global immune dysfunction syndrome,' and a virus or something is the trigger, then a one-year-old ends up with autism, a seven-year-old gets ADHD, and an adult gets chronic fatigue?"

    There were murmurs of assent, and then I amended my thought. "On the other hand, I may be oversimplifying. I think that the autistic kids are being much further impaired by the problem. Maybe autism is the ultimate disease state. Like, if whatever caused autism happened to an adult, they would probably get..." I thought hard for a moment and then was struck by the answer. "Schizophrenia." {p. 119}


  • Is Down's Syndrome improved by diet restriction?
    I let out a low whistle. "Wow. This is amazing. I have never seen values like these before!...0.574, wait, here's one at 0.622. This is incredible. There are at least thirty foods like this. Does this child have autism?"

    "No...Down's syndrome."

    I couldn't believe my ears. Everyone knew that Down's was caused by an extra chromosome in the twenty-first pair of chromosomes in their DNA.

    "Down's syndrome? That seems impossible. I thought Down's was purely genetic."

    "Well, yes, the occurrence is genetic. But the disease may be immunological, and treatable, to some degree. In this patient, at least, I believe that there is something that I can do to help."

    A few minutes later I met the little boy and his mother, and observed that although the child was verbal and was actually doing quite well, he showed some overt signs of allergy, like itchy skin and dark circles under his eyes. His mother had long suspected that some foods made it harder for him to function and was quite willing to try restricting his diet. She told me that after speaking with a friend whose Down's child had been helped with vitamins and diet she had decided to give it a try. Dr. Kopelson had recently put her son on a vitamin supplementation program that seemed to be helping.

    Whether this particular child's immune problems were coincidental to his Down's syndrome or whether the two were related was unclear. Dr. Rimland later sent me a videotape about the late Dr. Henry Turel, who put Down's children on megadoses of multivitamins and found that the musculoskeletal and other outward features of the disease improved as much as did the subjects' mental functioning. If this was true, did it mean that there was some critical metabolic dysfunction and that early treatment could mean a reversal of symptoms? I just didn't have enough information to judge. {p. 137-138}


This is enough for today. If the last third has anything more that rocks my schemas, I'll be sure and add another quote collection.

___________________
Read More:
Mystery of Autism Review
Quote Selection Two

10 December 2007

Defeating Autism





Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and
Pervasive Developmental Disorder:
A Mother's Story of Research & Recovery


A new friend of mine bought this book for me after I shared with her a small slice of our war against our son's tic problem. As I told her about how it was immediately apparent to me that going the tradtional route {through doctors and specialists} was going to take too much time, that I already had a hunch concerning his problem, that I resorted to massive amounts of research, she said that my story reminded her of this book.

Now that I have read two-thirds of it, I can see why. In fact, I think if I had had a child with autism, I could have written this book. Instead, I write a series on tics.

I have felt like some pieces of our puzzle here weren't in place. After reading this book, I believe I am on the right track, and I also believe that most of the pieces will fall into place in time.

I cannot suggest this book highly enough. If you know a parent of an autistic child, a child in the autism spectrum, a child with ADHD, a child with pervasive development disorder {PDD}, a child that is retarded, a child that has learning disabilities, etc., give them this book.

This book, by the way, really is written like a mystery. I can say from personal experience that it is true to the experience. When I first decided that E.'s tics were related to chemicals, we removed all additives from his food and tried to buy organic as much as we could afford {our long-term garden plan is much more affordable}. He got better. Then he got worse. So we purified our house. We changed cleaners, soaps, and detergents. He got better...and then worse. We removed the rest of the dairy {he was already off milk} and he got better. And then worse. We removed the wheat. And then and only then was he almost completely well.

I say almost because I think he hangs onto normalcy by a very thin string at times. Other times, he is doing so well that it is hard to imagine that this was ever an issue.

This book describes an identical process of exploration and discovery. And the author's theory seems to be that children respond positively to the removal of an allergen or irritant, but then their other allergies or sensitivities rear their ugly heads, and so more trouble-shooting becomes necessary.

I am not finished, but I'm curious what will be the end. Did she discover the actual cause of regressive autism, or even a subtype of regressive autism? I ask this because I know that my son is sensitive to all of these things, but I also know that that is not normal. God made a world that is good. What has happened to our children that they are unable to live in it? What has changed in the last, say, fifty years or so?

GM crops? Was the wheat changed? Vaccines? Maybe giving them at younger ages starts some sort of overactive immune function? Genes? Maybe kids are being born with some sort of digestive problem that starts it all? Milk? Is all the medicating of the cows finally wreaking havoc on our children?

These are the real questions lingering in the back of my mind. The surge in autism is undeniable. I hope that Seroussi {the author} has even a hint at an answer.

Regardless, I would say to read this book. It is important that families learn to fight these battles ourselves, enlisting the aid of doctors, therapists, nurses, nutritionists, etc., rather than depending on them to solve the problem. It's just like homeschooling, in a way. No one loves the child like Mom and Dad. No one knows the child like Mom and Dad. More importantly, no one is ultimately accountable for the child like Mom and Dad.

Do the research. Make the sacrifice. Fight the battle. Maybe win the war, and have a normally functioning child.

_________________________
Read More:
Quote Selection One
Quote Selection Two

07 December 2007

Tics: There and Back Again {Part III}

If I were to thank anyone or any organization for the beginning of the end of our journey with tics {and I do believe we are almost done with them around here--at least the majorly distracting ones that seem to be sensitive to foods}, it would be a tie between Generation Rescue and Dr. Amy Yasko. I have never contacted either one, but just reading the information on their websites helped me further my own research in ways I never thought possible.

My hunch has always been that the cause of much modern disease lies in the gut. I know this sounds overly simplistic, and yet one must admit that there are a lot of strange, seemingly unconnected sets of symptoms that respond well to improved nutrition, tweaking the diet, and so on. Why, if the disease begins, in the instance of autism, in the brain and is essentially neurological in nature, does it seem to respond well to a basic gluten-free-casien-free {GFCF} diet? Why do some women with a problem that is seemingly psychological in nature, in the instance of post-partum depression, respond well to an increase in their intake of the B vitamins?

These were the sorts of questions I was asking myself, and all the while I was trying to follow my hunch, not for the purposes of developing any philosophy of disease, but for saving my son not just from tics, but from any additional neurological damage. I was more afraid of what I couldn't see than what was obvious.

It was in reading Lenny's Story, an article that appeared in Latitudes magazine, that I first considered a wheat-free diet. Lenny was a child officially diagnosed with autism that is now officially diagnosed as normal. This is the paragraph that got me:
I worked in a hospital and started networking with physicians about autism. Soon, I received a call from a doctor who had an autistic son. I told him all about Lenny. His response was, “Your son has a leaky gut from a vaccine injury and you should immediately take him off wheat and milk.” He explained that proteins from gluten {in some grains} and casein {in milk products} were leaking through the intestinal wall undigested and were acting like an opiate in my son’s brain. I dismissively thanked the good doctor for calling.


Shortly before I read this, my friend Kim had shared with me about her nephew, who had been diagnosed with autism and then, after being on a strict GFCF diet, was now merely Asperger's. I, like the wife in Lenny's Story, began to wonder what harm could come from abstaining from wheat for a short time...

_____________________
Read Part I
Read Part II
You are reading Part III
Read Part IV
Read Part V

06 December 2007

Buying a Dream Home

Okay, so the title is misleading, to say the least. We here are not in the market for our dream home. But we are hoping to buy a home within the next year. If you recall, we did own a house once, for a short while, and we miss, more than anything, the sense of permanence.

I think I've learned some lessons from the house we owned. One of the biggest lessons was concerning storage. For instance, a smallish house will feel much larger if it has lots of built-in storage. But a house that is almost 1900 square feet will feel tiny if it doesn't have that same storage space.

Our old house? No linen closet.

What can I say? We were young and ignorant, and it was really cute.

So anyhow, I am trying to come up with a list to think about while house shopping before we are actually house shopping so that it is all ready ready already when I need it. Some of these aren't actually requirements, but they are things I want to remind myself to consider.

What I'd like you all to do, if you would, is tell me what you have looked for. This will help me with my list, and be much appreciated.

On with the list...

  • Garage with side door: Our current garage in the house we are renting has a big door for driving a car into, and a door into the house {it is an attached garage}. But there is no door into the backyard. This means that I cannot use its abundant storage space to store toys for the kids. This means Si can't take the lawnmower directly to the back, but must drive it out the large door and around through the side gate. Buying an older home would solve this problem, as it was only fairly recently that builders made side doors "optional" and charged around $1,000 for them.


  • Storage space: A linen closet is a must. A large pantry and/or lots of cabinets in the kitchen are, too. We don't own a lot of clothes, so shelving and cabinets in the shared spaces would be more important to us. Floor-to-ceiling bookcases would be awesome, but that might be more of a do-it-yourself project.


  • Clean flowerbeds: If there is mulch or bark or something covering the dirt, pull it back and see what is growing under there. We have been surprised by a full lawn underneath this stuff! Grass is worse than weeds, in my opinion, when it is growing where it shouldn't.


  • Windows to watch the children play: When we only had one young child, I didn't think about where windows were. Now, it matters to me. Being able to see the children in the backyard from the kitchen would be ideal as they live in the yard and I live in the kitchen. In the spring, open windows allow us to talk to each other.


  • Functioning sprinklers: No more unlandscaped properties for us! Even when our landlord finally installed sprinklers, they have been a source of irritation, always breaking and leaving large spaces where the grass turns brown. If I ever get serious about a place, I will turn on the sprinklers and watch them run.


  • Zoned for horses: Our dream property would be zoned in such a way that we had the freedom to have an animal if we wanted. I want chickens.


  • Newer air conditioner: Lately I have found these ugly houses {not kidding--the exteriors are awful} that have been gutted and renovated on the inside. The kitchens are beautiful, and they have all new appliances. This is a great deal, but it can trick me into thinking the house is younger than it is. Old air conditioners cost a pretty penny to run, so its age should be considered before purchase.


  • No pools: I just can't do it. It gets really hot here, and still I don't want a pool. Next door to the house we owned was a slightly smaller house with a pool. Pools have filters and vacuums and gadgets that cost money to run, and you can't cut back or the pool will grow something yucky. Our neighbors had electric bills that were $100-$200 more than ours, even though our house was a bit bigger. It just isn't worth that kind of money to me to have a pool.


  • Resale value: We hope to buy a house to stay in for the long haul, but we musn't ignore major flaws thinking we will never sell it. I have noticed that four bedrooms tend to sell better than three. More importantly, a door on the far side of the house bothers people. Even though some of the plans that have a side entry are great on the inside, it still lacks curb appeal in a way that makes people think twice about buying it.


  • Fireplace: Living rooms, in my opinion, need a focal point. Since we don't use a TV for this, I like a fireplace. It helps that my uncle usually gives us free firewood from his ranch. The ideal would be a potbellied stove that actually heats the place like the MPL family has.

What do you look for in a house?

The Darndest Things {12/07}

It's time for another month of wild and crazy antics! The stars of our show are Big Boy E. {aged 5.5}, the lovely Miss A. {aged 2.75}, and Baby Q. {who will turn 1 on December 31st}. These lists really do work better than a baby book. Baby books are too proper to have places to write out funny stories. Besides, the stories are often so intertwined I'd have to write it in each child's book.

Better to have one family list. At least, this is what works for me.

So on to the fun.


20 December 2007: She Loves Him
After lunch today, we had some extra time. The girls romped around the playroom trashing the bookcases while E. and I cuddled up on a giant bean bag together to read. Q. toddled over and began to interrupt this process by climbing all over us. She is still quite uncoordinated, and I watched her with interest, for it was obvious she was trying to get somewhere to do something...we just weren't sure what. I assumed, because she is in love with me, that she would plop herself in my lap.

But she didn't.

No. She plopped herself in his lap. She smiled up at him. He hugged her. She squealed...and then crawled away.


20 December 2007: Big Songs for Little People
There is nothing cuter than a toddler wandering around the house singing, "What can wash uh-why my SIN? Nuh-ting but the bud of JeeeeeeSUS!" over and over and over because those are the only two lines she remembers.


19 December 2007: He's Growing Up
Today, when I was tucking E. in for his afternoon nap, I noticed that his doll, bear, and two blankets {with which he has insisted on sleeping ever since he was old enough to insist on anything} were all missing. I checked the upper bunk, and, sure enough, he had stored all his treasures up top.

"Why are your doll and bear and blankets up there?" I asked him.

"I don't want them any more," he smiled. He looked a little unsure about what I would think. "I am saving them for another boy."

He means a new baby. I am not pregnant, but I hope the next time around God blesses us with a boy so that E. can complete his joy by giving his baby toys to a little brother.


5 December 2007: Rocks in my Dryer
Miss A. has a new affection for rocks. She finds them everywhere, can spot them a mile away. She adores putting them in her pockets, only to forget about them. And no matter how many times I think I've emptied them, I find a rock in every load of laundry.

She doesn't like to share them, and can often be heard shrieking, "No, E.! That my wock. That my wock!"

For Christmas, we are getting her a plastic purse. It's clear so that she can put her treasures inside and still see them.


5 December 2007: The Little Gymnast
It's been a week or two since Baby Q. took her first uncertain steps. She is now trying to walk almost every time she wants to go somewhere. She is a Maggie Simpson in this regard. She walks with a rhythm: step step thump....step step thump.

It is interesting to watch her walk because she is my smallest child. {Those of you who knew E. as a baby are probably shocked to hear this.} She is compact, petite, and probably weighs around 16 pounds even though she is only a few weeks from her first birthday. Her lightness gives her an incredible agility, and she looks like a gymnast as she falls, only to hoist herself back up in what is almost a bounce.


4 December 2007: The Apologist
E. was reading me some of his book for Sparks. When got got to John 1:1 in his book he read: "In the beginning was the Word [Jesus Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." This concerned me greatly, especially because he was reading to me, so I couldn't see the brackets. And, of course, it still concerned me. Honestly, I think there are so many verses more appropriate for young children than having them memorize something requiring so much abstract thought.

E. instantly became animated: "I don't believe that Mom! This is not true. This is just not true."

Fearing that he was becoming like his mother, I tried to put a stop to it. I reminded him that there are many things that he doesn't understand, which is different from not believing them. So he pulled out his Bible. He turned to Genesis. With a tight voice, he read me Genesis 1:1. He pointed. "This is the beginning," he says. Then he turned to the New Testament. "Jesus wasn't born until here. So I don't believe this."

So then I had to explain that the words "Jesus Christ" weren't actually in the John passage, that Sparks had taken liberties with the text. We read the verse in the Bible so he could see the difference. Then we went through the Catechism, which confirmed that the Son of God was God, and therefore had all His qualities, including being eternal and infinite. Then we talked about how the Son of God was present at creation, whereas He didn't aquire the name Jesus until he was conceived and the angel told Mary what His name was supposed to be, and then He wasn't called Christ until even later than that.

I get tired even writing this. The point is that our young apologist calmed down. He decided, however, not to memorize "Jesus Christ" as if it was part of the verse. "Because it isn't, Mom," he said.


1 December 2007: Best Excuse of the Year
E. actually said this to me last month, but I kept forgetting to write it down. No matter. It still takes the prize. When in trouble and being disciplined, I told him that he was going to have to learn to obey without being asked a second time and with a good attitude. His response? "But I can't obey! Sin has corrupted the whole world!"

04 December 2007

Against the Rush

My personal protest against busyness began in graduate school. I remember contentedly writing in my daily planner, filling up every little slot of time. I felt so productive. Important? Maybe that, too. I did schedule in time to do relational things--dates with Si, Friday nights with my roommates, etc. But each slot was filled.

Assigned.

Designated.

Let's call it the preplanned, prepackaged life, where everything is foreordained {even if you're an Arminian} by your daily planner.

I had a professor that was really into the Spiritual Formation Movement. He was also a bit of an existentialist. One day, he attacked daily planners and all that they signified as an idea with such ferocity, that I felt compelled to throw mine in the garbage.

And so I did. With great relief, might I add.

I have never had a real, filled up and compartmentalized, daily planner since then. Oh, sure, there is a calendar on our wall in our kitchen. And it has things written on it. And there is also a printout that explains the rhythm of our days. But that is, for me, somehow very different from a planner that I lug everywhere, that I aim to fill up with "important" things to do.

For me, a planner was something I was a slave to. A rhythm? Well, that is something sweet, for it means that we do not have to wake up and plan. Just like a musical rhythm, it is the beat of the song of our house, to which all of us dance along, playing our separate parts.

The interesting change when I threw away the planner was that I no longer felt rushed. I didn't plan more appointments in a day than I could remember because I didn't have a place to write them all down and I didn't want to neglect any commitments. This then resulted in long stretches of time that were free. Which has now resultes in long stretches of time spent reading to my children, reading near my children, taking walks with the children, reading with or to or near Si, cooking in a leisurely manner, and so on an so forth.

The days are full, but they are not hurried.

Today I was thinking about the impact of such a life on my children. For one moment today, I felt a sense of rushing, coupled with annoyance. This is because while the children were outside playing, the toddler kept coming back inside. She needed a jacket. She needed to go to the bathroom. She needed to show me a rock. She thought that maybe she needed to go to the bathroom again.

The final time, I felt annoyed. This was not because she kept coming in and out, but because of The Boots. The Boots must be taken off each time she comes in, and then I must help her put them on each time she goes out. She knows how to take them off herself, but she does this s-l-o-w-l-y.

The important thing is that I noticed that the second I felt the rush, the sense of urgency or impatience, I wanted to take her boots off for her.

It was then that I realized another important connection between leisure and learning, something I've been thinking about through my reading of Poetic Knowledge.

Leisure and learning are synergistic from very early on, but I just recognized the fact today.

When I think of my busiest day, I cannot ignore that it involves a lot more work on my part. And this extra work is always me doing things for my children. I don't mean this in a lazy, I-hate-working sort of way. I mean this in a we-don't-have-time-for-this sort of way.

For instance, on a busy day I will take my toddler to the bathroom. I will dress her. I will clean up the messy toys. I will put on her socks and her shoes. I will wash her hands for her. I will pick her up and put her in her carseat. I will pick her up and get her out of the car. I will pick her up and put her in her bed for nap. I will lift her out of bed and run her around to leave again.

I will do all of these things even though she can do most of them for herself because I do them faster.

I do them faster, more efficiently, and better, by the way, because I have had years of practice.

Which brings me to my point.

My daughter would not have the same years of practice if I always did these things for her, and if we were very busy people, which we are not, but if we were, I would be very, very tempted to always do them for her. This is because when I am busy, I hurry. When I hurry, I do not have time for little people to practice buttoning their jackets.

Ahem.

I see this as a very good argument against the socially acceptable family rush. It is admired, especially in suburbia, to chauffer children from event to event. Leisure time is often associated with laziness or sloth, and so it is scorned by the masses.

However, if leisure enables learning, then it might be learning that is being scorned, whether or not this is subconscious. This, by the way, might explain part of why we have lots of very good ballerinas and soccer players that are, for the most part, very poor readers and thinkers.

So, here I am, seeing another good reason to stand against the rush. Walking slowly allows my children to learn so many skills. It gives me time to instruct and help rather than do it in their stead.

Time invested in learning and growing and living the vibrant life is well spent indeed.

01 December 2007

Tics: There and Back Again {Part II}

Back in December, I wrote that we had discovered a lot of E.'s tic triggers. By triggers, I mean that, first of all, having upwards of fifteen tics at a time for most of the day did not last forever. The severity waned over the course of about a month, and we were left with many tics, but a little boy that was still able to function.

I now, due to research I have done, have three or four theories concerning exactly what happened to our little boy. One would be PANDAS, which, unlike other tic disorders, is the result of an autoimmune reaction to a strep infection, and is also characterized by a burst of tics at the onset rather than a gradual increase of tics over time.

However, I am not sure it matters what it is called as long as I can find the root issues and treat them. And once the doctor told me that preschool was the best solution for the problem, I knew that it was up to me to get this solved.

We did see a second doctor, and she told me to relax, that, had she been there on our initial visit, she would have run a full toxicity scan since sometimes such a dramatic onset can also be a sign of poisoning.

This doctor also informed me that he was probably a candidate for Tourette's, but that a diagnosis for the syndrome requires the child to have symptoms for a year.

I mentally gave myself until August 2007 to solve the problem. This is when we would hit the one-year mark, and E. would be a candidate for a Tourette's diagnosis.

Within five or six months, I had discovered major triggers for the worsening of his tics. However, I hadn't solved the underlying problems. He still had a few little shoulder-shrugs each day, among other things. I felt that triggers were nice to avoid, but we needed to solve the problem.

Early on in this journey, a friend of mine mentioned Asperger's. This particular friend didn't know a lot about it, but she was a former teacher who once had a student with Asperger's. She said that all she remembered about this student was that he had tics coupled with an amazingly high reading level. She knew that our son was an avid reader already at the age of four, and thought there might be some connection.

This is how I ended up in the world of researching vaccines and their side-effects, because many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders like Asperger's believe that there is a connection between the excessive toxic exposure from vaccinations and the rising rates of autism, ADD, ADHD, Asperger's, and Tourette's.

While researching the vaccines, I did find that some of the preservatives in them were the same ones that I avoided in food for E. because they were specific triggers. Why would I allow a doctor to inject him with a trigger chemical {which, by the way, is the least natural way for the body to receive a chemical because it bypasses the entire lymph system, the skin barrier, and the protective acids in the saliva and stomach and heads straight for the blood} when I didn't even allow the poor boy to eat it? Needless to say, we discontinued vaccinations. We had already had our consciences pricked over other issues with vaccines, anyhow.

By the way, don't let anyone ever tell you that vaccines are harmless. If that were true, the U.S. government would not have set up a fund for the purposes of paying off the victims.

Moving ever onward...

It was research done by parent of children with these syndromes, not medical doctors, that would eventually lead me to the solution I was looking for.

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Read More:
Read Part I
You are reading Part II
Read Part III
Read Part IV
Read Part V