Praying for the Stones – July/August 2017

We know many friends and family are praying for our family, and for this we are extremely thankful. It has been a difficult season for us, but also sprinkled with grace and joy. Below is a brief list of prayer requests.

Please know that we sincerely appreciate all who pray for us–we don’t know how we would make it without it. Continue reading

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Activities for Autism/Special Needs Families

For those in the Phoenix area, here is a brief list of some fun activities that are autism and/or special needs friendly.

Annual Events

Special Day for Special Kids (March 18th, 2017)
The event is designed to honor and provide a fun day for special needs children and their families. It is totally free for the kids and their families, the admission, the rides, the fair and the food are offered by Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary Club. The event provides free train and carousel rides, games with prizes, hot dogs, chips, ice cream, and beverages for all. Click here for more info.

Surfing with Nixon (August 25th, 2017)
Surfing with Nixon is a nonprofit organization that gives kids with autism a chance to surf as a form of water therapy. Surfing gives kids sensory input and teaches them to control their bodies in and out of the water, while at the same time bringing families together who are dealing with the same or similar experiences. Click here for more info.

Children’s Museum of Phoenix – Special Night of Play (August 26th, 2017)
Special Night of Play is an evening for families with children affected by special needs, allowing them access to the museum during a less-crowded and more peaceful atmosphere compared to our regular business hours. This event is free for families affected by special needs; pre-registation required. Maximum six tickets per family. Click here for more info.

Wings Autism (October 7th, 2017)
Wings for Autism is designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism (or other intellectual or developmental disabilities) experience when traveling by air. The program provides families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security, and boarding a plane. Click here for more info.

Walks/Runs

Conferences

Ongoing Activities

We Rock the Spectrum
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. As the only kid’s gym that offers an all-inclusive philosophy we have found all children can benefit from our uniquely designed sensory equipment that is specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. The gym includes ten specialized pieces of sensory equipment, indoor play structures, open play, parties, and a monthly “Parent’s Night Out”. Click here for more info.

Hubbard Family Swim School
For children with special needs at all levels of swimming skill. Class focus for the Special Needs classes is based on the swimmers and can include: submersions, backfloats, rollover breathing, and independence in the water. Though the instructors are not therapists or individuals who are specially trained to work with children with special needs, H.F.S.S. offers the opportunity to enjoy the excitement of the water and the freedom it allows to children who have difficulty with motion or expression in varying forms. Click here for more info.

Keen Arizona
All of KEEN’s programs are based on a single principle: pair a trained volunteer with an athlete and let them discover together how much they can do. They might swim (using adaptive equipment, kick boards or flotation devices), they might play in the gym with a basketball or kick a soccer ball. Many love to bounce on balls or be pulled along the floor on a flat scooter. The session ends with everyone coming together in a circle and sharing with the group what they did that day “that made them very proud.” Athletes burn energy, meet and interact with new volunteers, see old friends, and then rejoin their parents, who have had some precious respite time. Occurs on the first and third Sunday of every month. Click here for more info.

AMC Theater (Sensory Friendly Films)
AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where they turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! The Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theater listings for specific showtimes. Click here for more info.

Studio Movie Grill (Special Needs Screenings)
A pillar of SMG’s Outreach for the past eleven years is the monthly Special Needs Screenings, designed for families raising children with special needs, and scheduled following the release of a new family movie. These family-friendly movies are free for children with special needs and their siblings, with adult tickets available for before-noon price. Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles during the movie. Click here for more info.

Snip-Its Salon
Snip-its stylists, in conjunction with Autism Speaks®, receive special training to meet the needs of children with autism. They were one of the first to provide this unique training for stylists so going to Snip-its is a positive experience for children with autism. The Snip-Its website provides a guide for training in hair cutting, and provides  several videos to help acclimate you and your child to the experience. You can also schedule a pre-visit with your child to familiarize them with the salon and the stylists. Available at participating salons. Click here for more info.

Sports Leagues

Special Needs Camps

Redeemed

Creation unfolds before my eyes, moving here and there.
Death, decay, and ravished earth–its inhabitants despair.

In mud, for blood,
the game plays on.
My mind inclined,
that hope was gone:

“This war cannot be won.”
Tainted, all. Worthy, none.

Miserable. Wretched. Dark, it seemed.
“Fear not, my son, you’ve been redeemed.”

.

Redeemed you say? It cannot be! Look underneath my skin;
death, decay, and ravished love, how far afield I have been.

My heart, my art,
my work, you see,
is bent, I spent
it all on me!

The land so full of death,
was poisoned by my breath.

“It matters not, how much you’ve schemed,
for you, my son, have been redeemed.”

.

My intentions often hid, but my actions speak aloud.
I care less of what God thinks, than approval of the crowd.

My creeds and deeds
have proven ill,
my oaths in droves
lay unfulfilled.

My labors and my plans,
disintegrate like sand.

“It’s not by these you are esteemed.
For my Name’s sake, you are redeemed.”

.

There was a day, a darkened day, whose scorn had been foretold.
A trial, denials, a blackened sky, a traitor’s pouch of gold.

The sting, the King,
sighed on a cross.
The pain and strain,
of lonely loss.

For joy that was ahead,
He suffered in our stead.

The war was lost. Or so it seemed:
“It is finished. They’ll be redeemed.”

.

Three hopeless days. Three anguished nights. No voice of comfort heard.
And then the reign of death was smashed, and He rose undeterred.

The one, True Son
had paid my debt.
My cries will rise
unburdened yet.

For Jesus drank the cup,
but God had raised Him up.

In light this brilliant gospel, gleamed,
our hope: “In Him, we are redeemed.”

.

I believe! But God, there’s more. Though Your hand of grace is plain.
This pain, this endless struggle. It’s too much. I can’t sustain.

My tears and fears
will not abate.
My cares are snares
that cultivate

resentment uncontrolled,
and anger, truth be told.

“No matter how you’ve cried and screamed,
still you, yes you, will be redeemed.”

.

This work I cannot shoulder, Lord, the burden is not light.
I cannot do what you want me to! I can’t win this fight.

I’ve one, my son,
and daughters, three,
and wife, our life,
too much for me!

Tonight your bread supplies,
But what of when we rise?

“Trust. Through my death, and life, I’ve deemed:
You’ll not be lost, you’re my redeemed.”

.

I long to see the Dawning Day. To see You face to face.
I long to see the conflict cease. To end this weary race.

No tears or fears
beset me there.
No cares or snares,
to crush me where

I’ll finally be free.
‘Cause Jesus died for me.

And all will be as I have dreamed,
And all because, I’ve been redeemed.

.

Breaking Bell

I don’t know how many of you have seen the new(er) Tinkerbell movies that Disney has been putting out, but having three daughters, I have. A thousand times. I also have too much time on my hands to think about them. So, in the new movies, there is this mild, fairly even tempered version of Tinkerbell. Sure, she gets red faced occasionally, but by and large she is more curious than anything, bumbling her way through things. Sometimes she is super sweet, and even shows a remarkable amount of self control, as far as I can tell.

Does anyone remember what she was really like in the original Peter Pan? Trying to kill Wendy and all? She definitely tried to get the lost boys to shoot her out of the sky–trying to get rid of the competition. How did Disney go from that evil little vixen to the current dumbed down version?

I laughed as I had a moment of genius, though. I wonder if maybe they plan on having a “descent into madness and badness” type of Breaking Bad thing planned for her. Maybe a story line that traces her from her innocent, fun loving days in the new movies into the jealous and vengeful, children murdering fiend that she is in Peter Pan. That would be awesome.

They could call it “Breaking Bell”.

Forgiving God

Forgive:

  1. to give up resentment of, or claim to, something given in return, compensation, or retaliation
  2. to cease to feel resentment against

Is it ever appropriate to talk about forgiving God? I guess it would depend what we mean by “forgive”. If we are implying wrongdoing on God’s part, then I would say no. But what about the aspect of forgiveness that means, “to cease to feel resentment against”? Continue reading

Step 1 – Powerless over Alcohol

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

– Step 1, The Big Book

We admitted…

The first time I uttered, “I’m an alcoholic”, it was one of the hardest things I had ever struggled to say.

It’s not an easy admission to make. It implies that something has complete control over me. That something has mastery over me. That this thing–alcoholism–is part of my identity. Admitting it to myself was hard, but admitting it to others was even harder. At least at first. I didn’t want to come to grips with the fact that I couldn’t control my drinking. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to admit it–to myself or to anyone else. For years, I didn’t admit it. Or wouldn’t. Or both. Probably both. Continue reading

Helping Special Needs Families

At some point, most families, couples, and individuals will run into a family with a member who has special needs. Their stories, filled with challenges, often give rise to a desire to help. But where to start? As a father of a special needs son, I realize that the idea of helping special needs families can be intimidating. Every family is unique, special needs or not, but the thought of helping a family whose needs are very different than our own, or perhaps completely unfamiliar, can be intimidating.

I want to share some ideas that may hopefully stir up some imagination and creativity regarding ways to come alongside and help special needs families. Continue reading

Praying for the Stones – June 2017

Friends have asked how they can be praying for us specifically, so here is a brief list of prayer requests. We are considering posting a monthly or occasional update. This is the first, so it is a work in progress.

Please know that we sincerely appreciate all who pray for us–we don’t know how we would make it without it. Continue reading

Angry at God

This post has been a long time in coming. Years. It’ll probably stretch into a series.

The thing is, I’m mad at God.

My anger towards God has not been easy for me to admit, especially in a public forum like this. The truth is, I’m nervous about how it might come across. I don’t want to surprise or disappoint my friends and family. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression about the God that I love. I don’t want to lead anyone astray.

But I am mad. And not just a little mad. Not like a kid pouting in the corner over not being able to have a piece of candy. It’s more like a person who feels like they have been betrayed by a spouse. Or like a person who believes that they have been wounded by their best friend. Or like a person who just found out that their understanding of what life is about is not accurate and now everything has been turned on its head. It’s a deep-seated kind of anger. The kind that simmers for a long time and starts to boil over. It’s real anger, and that scares me a little bit. Continue reading

Camping is in Tents

How I picture a meeting between the CEO’s of four of the largest tent manufacturers would go:

CEO 1 (an upcoming small business owner and relative newcomer to the market): Hey guys- I have an idea. I’m thinking about adding a couple inches to the tent bag so that our tents easily fit inside.

(Silence and confused looks, with one dirty look and a gasp of disbelief. CEO’s 2, 3, and 4 all start speaking at once):

CEO 2: Whoa, whoa, whoa…

CEO 3: Slow down there, young lady…

CEO 4: Wait, so you want the tent to just slide right in?

CEO 1: Yes, well maybe with one or two shakes. But yes, it would be plenty big enough to just pop right in there.

CEO 3, visibly disgusted: Clearly you don’t understand the reason for a tent bag.

CEO 1: I mean, isn’t it to hold the tent? And the tent accessories?

CEO 2, rolling her eyes: But if you make the bag big enough to easily fit the tent, how are our customers supposed to spend 30 excruciating minutes crying out to Almighty God for help as they desperately try to pack up their camping equipment in hopes that this time the tent will fit on the first try?

CEO 4: Yeah, what about that?!

CEO 3: Right, and if it’s easy to fit the tent into the bag, how can we ensure that furiously cramming an oversized tent into an undersized bag would be a hauntingly terrible experience, requiring at least two irritated and exhausted fools to argue bitterly with each over which ineffective strategy they should try next?

CEO 4: Mmm hmm. Yeah. Yeah!

CEO 3: The bag. It’s more than just a container for the tent. It represents something bigger. By being smaller. Than the tent.

CEO 1: But it’s a bag. For a tent.

CEO 3, smiling condescendingly: Oh, sweetheart. It’s more than that. It’s a metaphor for life. By making the bag so small that packing the tent consistently proves to be an infuriating process that can take upwards of 30 minutes and that invariably leaves people fumbling and exasperated, panting for breath and on the thin edge of a full mental breakdown, we are teaching a valuable life lesson.

CEO 1: What’s that?

CEO 3: That there is no point. To life.

CEO 1: Wait, so…

CEO 2: No, you wait. For decades we’ve been destroying friendships, ruining family vacations, and causing serious marital discord through the mass production of bags too small for the tents they are supposed to carry: so small that packing them presents a significant challenge for even the most experienced of campers. It’s practically a past time. Campers plan on breaking down the tents being pure misery and anguish of soul. What makes you think you can come in with your “newfangled ideas” and just make bags that fit tents easily?

CEO 1: So you purposely make the bags so small as to ensure that trying to repack the tent strips the customer of not just their sense of dignity, worth, and pride, but it also strips them of their will to live? Well, and of the desire to go camping ever again?

All: Yes!

CEO 1: But what if we made the bags just a little bit bigger…

(All at once)

CEO 3: Sacrilege!

CEO 4, covering his ears and pressing his eyes closed: La-La-La-La-La!!! I can’t hear you!!!

CEO 2: I’m not going to listen to any more of this horse manure.

They all walk off angrily, determined to continue making the bags that hold tents inexplicably much smaller than they need to be.

 

This was inspired by preparations for our first family camping trip, which we would ask that you pray for, if you have a minute. With our neurologically diverse family, vacations can be very challenging. Thanks, everyone!