Devotional 1: The Woman Caught In Adultery

Then the scribes and pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?” “This they said, testing Him, that they might having something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first”. And again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
            She said, “no one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Then Jesus  spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

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I read this account so many times in the wake of my adultery. What grace, mercy, kindness, gentleness, masculinity,  protection, power, control, patience, trust, wisdom, truth, what justice Jesus Christ extends in this passage! There is so much to pull from this scripture, but in my recovery process, I would often rehearse Jesus speaking this directly to me. It wasn’t hard for me to relate to“being the midst,” because there were times that I was completely exposed and vulnerable, standing in front of pointing fingers, expecting the worst reprimanding and highest law. But just as in this biblical situation, Jesus never responded to me that way. He held my face in His hands and spoke words of truth, protection, and healing. He used others to do it, and He also spoke it audibly to me. He is the great shepherd; when He finds one of his sheep that has been lost, what does he do? Luke 15:15 says, “And when he finds [the lost sheep], he joyfully puts it on his shoulders.”

What? He doesn’t beat it all the way home and say, “Bad sheep! How dare you get lost, you knew better than to wander away!” No, with joy, love and trust, comforting the sheep safely on His shoulders, He says,  “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

That is powerfully healing! Read this again and again. Let this sink deep into your bones and let its truth reverberate in your being. This is how The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit see you. This is what they have revealed about themselves to you. They have no greater joy than to see you walking in the truth (3 John 1:4). The truth is that you are forgiven, loved, accepted and pleasing to God.

Did you notice that He did not require an account or repentance from the woman thrown in the midst? He did not address her as or see her as, the woman caught in adultery. He saw the act as sin, something that every other person standing there was guilty of in their own way.  Jesus simply comforted her by saying; I do not accuse you. He called her sin, sin, and told her to keep moving forward and not to do that anymore.  It is my heart’s cry to send that same message to you as you read this book.  This thing, this adultery, is what you did; it is not who you are. Jesus sees you as who you really are. Righteous, pure, and spotless in Him. It goes against all of our feelings and it goes against the judgements of others. It takes faith to believe it is true and to line yourself up to it, but cling to its truth as much as you are able and ask God to help you with your unbelief regarding it.

He simply says; go and sin no more. He still calls it what it is: sin. David said in Psalm 51, “Against you [God], you only, have I sinned.” This was after David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband sent into battle, knowing that he would be killed. But God forgives us when we ask, when we turn away from walking in the direction of sin, and turn to Him again. His Holy Spirit was left here for us as a counselor, comforter and a keeper of what God has entrusted to us until the day of redemption.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I choose every day to believe this is true, to cling to Jesus, and to walk in truth. As I have done that, He pulls off the grave clothes of my sin and lets me dance in freedom. God does a thorough job of cleansing and healing our wounds. He always wants us to heal and is always ready to reveal deeper things about Himself through our situations. He is the great physician and the lover of our souls, and He knows every hair on your head. Put your head in His kind hands, and lay in the lap of His love and freedom.

Let’s Pray!

 Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank you for your unfailing love to me. Thank you that it is your kindness that leads to repentance, and that your mercy is new every morning. Thank you that you are so slow to anger, but so rich in mercy. Thank you that you trust me to make the right decisions and the right choices. Thank you that you have plans to prosper me and not harm me. Thank you that you have a future and a hope for me. Thank you that you want to use me in the lives of others to lead them into truth by your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you love me with an everlasting love, that you will build and rebuild me. Thank you that you never tire of or give up on me; you are always waiting with your arms open and expectant. Thank you that there is rejoicing in heaven when one of your children repents. Thank you that what the enemy intended for evil can be turned for good by your supernatural power and that you cause all things to work for good for those who love you and who are called according to your purpose. Thank you that if I suffer while I do good, it is used for your purposes. Thank you that there is now therefore no condemnation in Christ Jesus! Thank you that I can walk in right standing with you, by what Jesus has accomplished on the Cross. Be glorified and magnified through my life, Amen.

Thank you for reading<3 You can read more in my new book: That’s Not Who You Are, available on Amazon

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Autism Conference, What Did I learn?

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Henri Nouwen, while working at L’Arche Daybreak, said it best, so I am going personalize his sentiment! This is what I learned,

Going to The National Autism Conference was a painful experience for me in many ways. I had to face all my limitations and shortcomings directly, and with my husband and son. It was also a life giving experience seeing my handicaps so clearly and those surrounding me. This helped me make them not just stumbling blocks but gateways to solidarity with those who cannot hide their disabilities and who form the core of our community. 

Any time we take Dorian out of his routine, there is upset. We realized that this was the longest one on one time we had with him…ever. In the past when had a few days alone with him, eventually there would be a sibling to buffer our relationship. We had really excruciating  times with no where to run! We all had to reach deep- so that is good, that is growth, that is progress! This was coupled with intense sessions of Autism Information from sought-out speakers. There were a few parents who simply had to leave, their children couldn’t take it one more minute. We have been there, but we realized, we pushed through this week and we have all found things we really appreciated and are thankful for!

George and I also had some pretty heavy marital issues going on. Some times when you re visit a geographical location it can bring back memories…good and bad. We had to over come, reclaim as it were, this location.

The last day we were at the conference, we went to a session by Dr. Jonathan Ivy on Token Economies. Having tried Token Economies in our home for over 20 years with varying degrees of success, we were interested in having a whole session on this. He did a fantastic job explaining the key components of a successful Token system as well as why they fail. I could understand, during his explanation, why some of our Economies failed or simply never took flight! You have to have a clear definition of what you are working for and what your target behavior is- you may be trying to decrease undesirable behaviors or may be trying to increase one’s that aren’t as evident. He is a researcher and communicated his eagerness to collect more data and do more studies. You can find more about his research at this link.

Our hope is to implement a Token Economy for our son’s morning routine this school year. I was equally inspired how I might use these more to motivate everyone in the home, including myself!!

When the week was done, we all felt saddened at the thought of leaving the campus! Something really shifted in our dynamic through those days together, we all had to be mentally and physically strong and we were…together. I learned more about my self, as I often do- but I learned more about my husband and son too because I willing to really listen. I learned that at the end of the day, it isn’t your test score, diploma or degree that brings great success or a platform from which to speak, but it’s your resilience and grit that is going to make you stand out and move forward<3

(Read the earlier blogs on the conference; National Autism Conference-Getting There, Autism Conference- Day 1, Autism Conference- Days 2 and 3)

National Autism Conference- Day 1

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We got to the conference on time, yay Allman’s!! We took Dorian upstairs to his “Children’s Institute” classroom met by warm staff, eager to meet him. We were awarded a scholarship this year for him to be part of this fantastic program while our conference is going on simultaneously.

The morning was filled with introductions and a Keynote by Vince Carbone highlighting Skinner’s “Legacy to Education”. This was followed by David Mandell’s Session on “The Shifting Sands of Autism Policy and Policy Research”. Which all of the attendees attended and were informative and helpful. I sense that every one here has a deep interest in Autism and is excited at the prospect of parents and professionals networking to be part of a bigger, supportive team.

We went to pick Dorian up for lunch, he seemed pleasantly calm and informed us on the way outside to the picnic area, that he was not autistic because he liked Batman! We have had discussions about his “specialness” from time to time, some times he asks questions, other times he specifically does not want to have those conversations.

George and I decided that we wanted to attend the session by Dr. Robert Naseef titled; “Families of Children with Autism: Taking Care of everyone’s Needs”, in the afternoon. This title really spoke to us because we constantly feel inadequate as parents especially  giving our other daughter who still lives at home, enough of our time. It hasn’t been easy for any of our children and we both feel we have failed them in many ways as parents. But Gabby is the middle child and it has always been easy to overlook this adorable and accommodating child. Several years ago, she started developing uncharacteristic  behaviors that made us have to pay attention and intervene. Dr. Naseef addressed this later in his discussion stating; “we don’t want our typically evolving kids to develop symptoms to get our attention.” We can see now that this is clearly what she was doing, but we didn’t recognize it at the time that it was happening.

His discussion went much deeper than the title, building a strong foundation and contextual platform for the birth of a family. He referred to the book; The Birth of a Mother, by Drs. David and Nadia Stern, explaining that when a baby is born, a mother and father are also born as well.

He asked the audience if it was possible to “give your children equal amounts of time”? We all had to agree that it is impossible to do that, to which he added, “we give them each special time.” He shared that raising any child was difficult on the marriage relationship, “raising a child with autism is over the top!” He gave a list of what siblings want/need and reads as follows;

*They want parents to notice their accomplishments

*They want a fair amount of attention

*Time alone with parents

*Time alone with friends

*Freedom to complain

*A family life as normal as possible

*Information about their brother/sister’s condition

We are thankful, and can look back over the last few years and say that we have really attempted to build these habits into our once fragmented family, in an aggressive way.

Other nuggets that were shared by this Psychologist/ Father of an autistic son were; “We need to celebrate all the little things. Success is the reinforcement”. “Life keeps giving us a chance to learn what we need to learn.” And, “Help them live the life they have, the best way possible.” Dr. Naseef is also a WordPress Blogger and you can find his blog; “Love doesn’t keep score. Siblings do” with this link.

George and I found needed strength and affirmation from this session. The stress of raising a special needs child makes your deficits as a couple and as individuals annoyingly glare like neon sign, and only by God’s grace and strength are we walking this together. We got another glimmer of hope that as broken as we are, that we have what it takes to raise this son we have been given for another day. Dorian’s name means gift and we need to remind ourselves, often, to see him in that light- because we both struggle to. Thank you to all of our friends, family, and therapists for your help and encouragement to us in our story, and thank you Dr. Naseef for taking your time to share yours and listening to some of ours.

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National Autism Conference-Getting There.

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We are blessed to be able to attend the National (and there are inter-national attendees here as well) Autism Conference at Penn State University this week! I thought I would blog nightly and reflect on the things from each day.

So now, I will back up and start at the beginning of this story :-)We never know how things are going to play out with our son in any given situation.  We have been prepping him all summer about this trip, but we cannot be sure how he is interpreting any thing. He is typically not happy about any plans we make that he hasn’t made, and he always complains, so we are used to that! We have to sell him on any thing we do except anything having to do with eating or playing video games of course!!

About 30 minutes into our trip a few incidents happened that made my husband pull the car over in a fury and make me want to say; “take me back home, I don’t want to go with either of you!” Sometimes it is one thing after another with our son. Things that make sense to him I guess, but drive us absolutely bonkers and add an incredible amount of stress to our marriage. During this frustrating scenario that was going on, my husband bit his own tongue by accident, enough to make it bleed!! It was just all so awful! I was angry and frustrated, they were each angry and frustrated, and then my heart went out to my husband because things like this happen so frequently. There was just nothing to say that was going to be helpful, I could only sit in the salty silence of acceptance. My flesh wanted to go home but I got out my guitar instead and started singing my songs.20170730_200513

We got through unexpected traffic and dinner ,which continued the “ordeal”, and made it to our room. The pool at the hotel is very nice and relaxation came, when we all got in the whirl pool. Peace…

When our son hit the bed, with all of it’s hotel comfyness and pillows, it didn’t take him long to go out! He looks so peaceful when he sleeps, all of that frustration he deals with in a day  fades away and it is well with my soul.20170730_223916