Changing the Past

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This morning I took some time to fix a painting that has been bothering me for months. When I did the original painting I was so focused on painting three snow covered mountains I didn’t really think through the rest of the painting. I did a nice sky, the mountains, and then I had a lovely, empty foreground. The perspective was all off because there was nothing in the foreground to indicate that the mountains were miles and miles away. In fact they looked more like little foothills that were quite close – not the effect I was going for. I have had that painting on my wall for months. I’ve stared at it a millions times. And this morning I finally set out to try and fix it. I added snow-covered pine trees and a snowy path in the foreground. Only the peaks of two of the mountains are still visible, but I learned a great deal from this whole experience.

While I was working on this painting this morning I thought that in a way I was changing the past. Unfortunately when it comes to our past there’s nothing we can do to change it. The good news is that God has made a way for us to be free from the sins of our past, no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done. In Isaish 1:18 it says, ‘”Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”‘

Will we, like the mountains in my painting, still have visible remnants of our past in our lives? Yes, but as the trees in the painting help put things in proper perspective, so too does the Lord help us keep our lives, past, present, and future, in proper perspective. We’ll know where we’ve been, we’ll know what we’ve done, we’ll know our shortcomings and our faults, and with the help of the Lord we will be able to face the future with certainty knowing that He will never, ever leave us. As Psalm 9:10 says, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Also, in Jeremiah 29:11, we are assured that the Lord does indeed have plans for us and that they are good – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Through His Son, Yeshua (Jesus), the Lord has made a way for our sins to be washed away. Instead of having the stain of sin on our hands, Yeshua took our penalties for sin onto Himself so that all we have to do is accept what He did on the cross and our sins are then forgiven; not merely covered over, but washed away. If you have a past that could use some cleansing, if your conscious could use some cleaning, if you need a proper perspective on life, click here to learn how you can do that. It’s even easier than fixing a painting!

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Joys and Blessings

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I’m having a very special morning. It’s just about perfect. My husband is still sleeping. Our son is sleeping, and because he has sighted non-24 he will probably be asleep most of the day as he was up most of the night. The house is quiet aside from the occasional grooming noise from one of the cats. But the thing that is making this such a wonderful morning is the snowfall. The temperature is in the 30s, the wintry mix has changed to snow, and by tonight it’s going to be like a giant ice rink outside after a quick flash freeze, but for now it’s beautiful!

There’s something to be said for light, dainty snow that whirls and plays on the wind, but this isn’t a dainty, timid snowfall. This snow is falling in huge clumps with purpose, determined to get to the ground as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s beautiful. It’s mesmerizing. It’s beginning to accumulate on the trees, and by the time it’s done I’ll just bet the trees will be heavy laden with the stuff. Even after seventeen years I am captivated by the beauty of snowfall. I could watch it all day.

I was just reminded of the first time I saw snow on the ground after we had moved to Wisconsin. I grew up in southern California, so the only time we saw snow was if we went to the mountains or if we went to Sea World around Christmastime. They would bring in a snow making machine and the kids would go wild! But the first time that I saw snow after we had moved to Wisconsin, it was, well, magical.

We were living in an apartment. My husband was working second shift. I had gotten our son to sleep and was puttering around in the kitchen when my husband came home from work. He took me by the hand and led me to the main entrance to our building. When he opened the door I could barely believe my eyes. The landscape had been transformed with snow – a good four inches of it. I have no idea how long I stood there in wide-eyed wonder taking it all in. I touched it. I tasted it. I looked at it some more. The next day I bundled our son up in a snowsuit and boots and he and I shared our first experience with winter as it was meant to be.

God’s world is amazing. His miracles are all around us. Our days are filled with joys and blessings if we will only open our eyes to see them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the snow.

Surviving in a Toxic World

The last few months have brought lots of change my way. Change! Yay! First there was the wheat, or lack thereof. I had known about the harvesting practices of over 90% of wheat crops in the United States for quite some time; specifically the introduction of Roundup a few days before harvest to force any unripened stalks to go to seed. Unfortunately the Roundup survives all the way to your dinner table and we ingest it. Nummy! I had been praying, asking God why I seemed to be having a relapse in my fibromyalgia symptoms and kept getting the feeling that the wheat needed to go. Within 24 hours of my cutting out wheat from my diet the fog in my brain seemed to clear (known as fibro fog). I knew I was on to something. I made some major adjustments to my diet – again. No wheat, no soy sauce (the only soy I used) with an increase in rice and potatoes. It took some getting used to, but I knew it would be worth it.

Unfortunately, not too long after I made those changes the fog seemed to settle in again. And there was still the matter of the constant, widespread pain that I had been experiencing for literally as long as I can remember. I started feeling defeated, but at the same time I started thinking about a true story I had heard a few years ago about a woman who was so adversely affected by modern life (chemicals) that she had to move into a cave just to be able to live without the severe reactions she was experiencing. That got me to thinking, not about moving into a cave, but about taking a good, hard look at every single thing that I was either ingesting or putting on my skin. That was about a month ago and I have made some huge changes since then. I have also had some very surprising results.

Gone are the days of my using hand lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, and fabric softener. I’m cutting way back on laundry detergent, doing a second rinse with white vinegar, then I’m hanging my clothes and sheets to dry, in winter, in the basement. Yay! Anyway, when I began looking at the ingredients lists on these products I wasn’t surprised by what I saw, but I when I started thinking about it I became very angry. Hand and body lotions are petroleum products. Deodorants and anti-antiperspirants contain aluminum, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. Toothpastes contain fluoride as well as other harmful chemicals. The really upsetting thing is that people have been led to believe that these products are beneficial, that they are solving a problem that you need solved, and that your life will be much better off for using them. Well, I wouldn’t be so quick to believe that if I were you.

Within 24 hours of my cutting out these products (and it was very difficult for me to do) I realized something was very different. My fibro fog was completely gone and I could think clearly. The heaviness, almost a depression, that accompanied it was gone as well. That was huge, but there was something else that I was, and still am, shocked by – the widespread pain that I have been living with since I was in my early teens has vanished. It is gone. And I even did something really stupid that confirmed that these products are the culprits.

About two week ago I took a look at my hands and just had to use some lotion. I had been using a mixture of shea butter and olive oil, but was getting a rash from the shea butter. So I used some lotion on my hands and feet before bed and in the morning I couldn’t believe what had happened. The fibro fog was back in spades, and my body was aching. As the day progressed the symptoms began to subside slightly, but it wasn’t until the following day that they were gone again. That little lotion indiscretion wasn’t pleasant, but it did prove to me that the chemicals in our “every day” products are poisoning us. I know how that sounds, but please hear me out then do some research for yourself.

In 2001 I started researching the affects of aspartame poisoning and saw that its symptoms were very similar to fibromyalgia. I came off of aspartame cold turkey and had a great relief of my symptoms although they never completely went away. As the years went on and our food and water supplies became more toxic my symptoms returned as if nothing had ever changed.

In doing my latest round of research which included looking at fluoride I was once again shocked and angered. The symptoms of fluoride poisoning are identical to those of fibromyalgia, including the trigger points that are used to solidify a diagnosis for fibromyalgia. I remembered how my mother always made sure that the bottled water that was delivered to our home when we were little was fluoridated so that we would have strong teeth. I have been ingesting fluoride my whole life. I simply thank God that He has brought me to this place of freedom from it and I am trusting Him to heal whatever damage may have been done.

There are some other disturbing facts about fluoride. It was first put into a public water supply by the Nazis in the Jewish ghettos. I don’t think they were concerned about children’s teeth. Come to find out that fluoride actually damages teeth in addition to causing infertility, widespread pain, and mental fogginess. The Nazis were trying to neutralize the population. Fluoride also gets down into your bones so even if you stop ingesting fluoride it will take your body years to detox from it completely. It’s very nasty stuff. Well, it’s poison.

It’s a real trick to stay away from fluoride. I now use Dirty Mouth tooth power which has no fluoride in it. I rinse with reverse osmosis filtered water (that’s the only process that will remove fluoride from the water). I use filtered water to cook with. Frankly I’m a bit tired from making all these changes, but I feel like a new person. I was telling my husband a few minutes ago that all the extra work and taking care to avoid these toxins is a very small price to pay for feeling so much better.

I am very much looking forward to living without the constant pain and depression of fibromyalgia. I am still taking it easy, trying to give my body the rest it needs to get rid of these toxins from my system. And I do have a day here and there where a couple of my trigger points act up, I’m assuming from the detox process. It’s going to be a long road, but I know that as long as the Lord is on that road with me – or should I say as long as I’m on the road with Him – I know everything will be just fine.

May God bless you as you seek the truth and His face.

Do SOMETHING Every Day

From my art blog. Enjoy!

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Life in a family that has two Aspies in it (I’m one of them) can be interesting at best. I don’t even want to talk about the “at worst” scenarios. Suffice it to say that there are times when try as I might, no matter how much I want things to go smoothly they don’t. This means that sometimes my passions, like art, music, and writing, get set aside for a time because, well, life.

A few days ago I decided to make it a point to do some art every day. Nothing big, but something. I’d like to share my work from day one and day two, both done in colored pencil, both 5×7. Today being day three, and it being the time of day that it is, I’m a little worried that my streak might end at two days. Unless I try a mini drawing. That just might…

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Getting Real in the Autism Community

If you’ve ever taken a peek into the autism parenting community there’s something that you will notice almost immediately; parents shouting from the rooftops that they would never change anything about their child because they love them just the way they are. Well of course they love their children, but to proclaim that they wouldn’t change a thing, well, I hate to say it but I don’t buy it. Maybe I’m different than most other autism parents. Well, I know I am. And perhaps our situation is different than some, but the bottom line remains the same; if I had the opportunity to change some things for my son I’d do it in a heartbeat. Here’s why.

First, a little background. By today’s standards for diagnosis I have what would be considered high functioning autism. Just a few years ago it was called mild Asperger’s Syndrome. When I was growing up I was simply someone with a very high IQ, quirks, and crippling shyness. When I became pregnant I had one of those mom intuition moments and just knew that our child was going to be like me, and I didn’t have a problem with that. From the moment he was born I knew that he was special. Even the nurses commented that they had never seen a newborn who was so alert and engaged. He grew into a happy, fun-loving baby then toddler. He laughed easily and would pierce me with his steady, unwavering stare, locking eyes with me every chance he got. Then when he was about sixteen months old he had the last round of vaccinations he would ever have because after that round of vaccines our happy little boy disappeared. His laughter disappeared. He couldn’t stand to be left alone. So many things changed in such a short period of time. He was still highly intelligent and engaged, but damage had been done that could not be undone. Over the years our son faced many challenges that come with being on the autism spectrum. He, like me, has mild Asperger’s Syndrome, but in addition to that he also has to deal with issues related to being vaccine injured. He has been classified as disabled. My hope is that one day he will be able to live as independently as possible, but until that day comes – if it ever comes – his dad and I will be here to support him in any way he needs.

The frustration that my son’s condition has caused him over the years has at times been gargantuan. The ways that his life is “not normal” are significant. So pardon me for becoming angry when I see other autism parents say that they wouldn’t change a thing about their child. Pardon me for finding it unfathomable that a parent wouldn’t want to change their child’s condition to make things better. Pardon me for not falling in line and joining the chorus. Pardon me for not embracing victimhood. Pardon me for wanting my son to be able to have a normal sleep schedule instead of one that keeps his waking hours traveling around the clock (he has sighted non-24). Pardon me for wanting my son to be able to do all of the things that most parents of 19 year olds take for granted. In most homes there would be celebrations over a teen who was accepted into the college of their choice, or landing a good paying summer job. My husband and I were ecstatic when our son made himself a meal that consisted of more than crackers – he made a freakin’ sandwich! Woo hoo!

Love isn’t the issue here. We all love our children more than we can say. But let’s get honest about things. Our children deserve it, we parents deserve it, and the autism community as a whole deserves it.

Parable of the Leaven

This article was originally published in January 2002.  The world has changed in many ways since then, but the lessons of this article are still relevant for those who bear the name of the Messiah.

Parable of the Leaven

My husband and I were talking about how this Christmas (2001) was so different than past years.  I just couldn’t seem to get into the celebrations and joy that usually accompany the holiday — with the exception of services at church on Christmas Eve, which were exceptional. After talking for a while we finally figured out what was wrong. Ever since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9-11 my heart has been heavy beyond belief. Yes, our world has changed, but more than that I think I’ve come to realize just how close to the end we are. No, I don’t know the day or the hour, but things are looking a bit dicey from a worldly perspective.  And that has given me a new sense of urgency for the lost — and for those who grace the pews in churches across this country every week and say and think that they are Christians but are not.

In the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 13, we find the seven kingdom parables.  I’d like to take a closer look at one of those right now.  In verse 33 we find a very short and widely misunderstood parable about a woman who introduces leaven into three measures of meal.  “Another parable He spoke to them:  `The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.’”  That’s all that’s said, but in these few words Jesus spoke volumes.

In the Scriptures leaven always represents sin.  (Matthew 16:6; 11-12, Mark 8:15, Luke 12:1, I Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:9)  Yet somehow throughout the centuries it has been taught that the leaven in this parable represents the church and how it will grow to take over the world.  If Jesus was likening the kingdom to leaven, we’re all in big trouble.

In Jewish culture three measures of meal, or three loaves, represent a fellowship offering.  This stems back to when the Lord and two angels visited Abraham and Sarah and they were offered three measures of meal.  These measures or loaves are always unleavened.  It would be unthinkable to add leaven to this offering.

Rather than look at the leaven as the kingdom of God, let’s look at the unleavened meal as the representation of the kingdom.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  – I Corinthians 5:6-8

In this passage we can see quite clearly that believers are warned against allowing leaven to corrupt their lives.  If this is the case, then in the parable of the woman and the leaven, the leaven would represent sin (in any form it may take) that has been introduced to the church and has raged unchecked until the whole church has been infected.  This could be through wrong teaching, allowing secular agendas to rule rather than Christ’s agenda, or any number of things.  It could also take the form of marrying non-Scriptural traditions to celebrations of Scriptural events.  Unfortunately this happens a great deal at Christmas.

I’m not talking about the fact that Christmas is a converted pagan holiday.  I honestly believe that it has been celebrated long enough for Christians to have come to the realization that while the roots of this winter celebration are indeed pagan, our focus is on the birth of our Savior and the priceless gift God has given us through that birth.  In our modern society we more often see the marriage of this celebration of Christ’s birth with the secular traditions of Santa Claus and the doors that can throw open if we are not diligent in protecting our children from the barrage of Christmas television specials that make absolutely no mention of Christ.  In fact, some of these specials are blatantly and overtly occultic.  And because it is these sorts of shows that millions of children watch, the vast majority of them don’t know that Christmas has anything to do with Christ.  Their only knowledge of the holiday is of magic and presents galore.

Just a few weeks before Christmas our three-year-old son and I were talking and he mentioned Santa.  I was a little surprised that he very clearly recognized Santa even though we don’t have any Santas in the house.  I explained to him who Saint Nick really was and that he is a good representation of the spirit of love and giving that people have around this time of year.  I was also quick to explain to him that the real reason we have Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and that Jesus being born was the most precious gift God has ever given to us.  So we give each other presents to remind ourselves of God’s great gift.  And we have a tree because the sole purpose for Jesus being born was to grow up and die on a tree for us.  Jesus took an instrument of hideous torture and destruction and made it into the most beautiful thing in the world.  So we decorate trees to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and the beauty He brings to our lives.

When we, as believers in Jesus, blindly accept errant teaching or the traditions of men, we are harboring leaven in our lives.  And just like a pinch of leaven will indeed leaven the whole lump of dough, that little bit of sin will invade our lives like a cancer.  But thank God that He is gracious in showing us where we have leaven so we can be diligent in removing it from our lives.  We, as the body of Christ, are called upon to keep ourselves clean while waiting for the return of our Messiah.  Let’s ask God to daily reveal to us the things in our lives that are not pleasing to Him so we can indeed be ready for His soon return.

Binky Cat, The Prodigal – One Lost Cat Comes Home

In late 1996, when I started my first Under The Shadow Of His Wing website using nothing but a WebTV unit and lots of patience, my husband was also writing some articles for the site. I dedicated a section of the site just for his articles and I called it Dan’s Corner. This article was written prior to mid-1998. This is one of my favorites from Dan’s Corner. I hope it becomes a favorite for you, too.

Binky Cat, The Prodigal – One Lost Cat Comes Home

From Dan’s Corner

I knew at the time that there were lessons to be learned from this experience. These lessons were finally made apparent to me a few days ago.

We have a little black and white cat named Blitz. Like many cats I know, he is seldom addressed by his real name. We’ve always called him Binky. Binky is nine years old and he’s always been an inside cat. And he’s always been very timid. One day toward the end of December of last year Binky turned up missing. We searched the house thoroughly thinking that he may have gotten stuck someplace. That was no good. We turned our attention, with much more concern, outside. As we combed the neighborhood we wondered how he could have gotten out. We also wondered why he would have wanted to get out. Didn’t we provide for all his needs? What more could he want? Having no children, our cats are the closest thing we’ve ever had to having kids of our own. So when the outside search yielded no Binky, we were quite upset. Especially since our last outside cat became an automobile fatality three months prior.

Fearing the worst, and having done everything in our power to recover him, we prayed and committed him into God’s hands. We were sad for our loss. Three weeks later the gentleman who owns a business on the property adjacent to our house said that he saw a black and white cat run under his storage trailer.

We went to investigate, and sure enough, it was Binky! However, he had became a totally different cat. He wouldn’t respond when we tried to call him, and when he saw us coming he bolted in fear. I was a little perplexed and a little irritated with him. This behavior went on for another month. I would leave him bowls of food and he would ignore me and run like heck back under the trailer if he saw me coming. Our other neighbor had a live trap that they set in hopes of capturing him, but Binky was a little too smart to fall for that one. We held out hope and prayed for his return as I continued to feed him.

We had our theories about him. We thought maybe one of his parents had been a wild cat. That might explain his sudden need for the outdoors. We thought the neighboring business’ security dogs may have scared him out of his wits. We thought a lot of things.

Finally, late one afternoon as we were heading out to do some shopping, I stopped over with his food and saw him sitting on top of a pallet nearby. As I approached, he jumped down and ran away. Or so I thought. But he hadn’t run away! He was sitting looking at me. I called his name and he jumped up on to another pallet. Was he beginning to recognize me? We’ve had him since he was a baby. I couldn’t be that forgettable, could I? As I continued to call to him he began to meow. “Binky . . . meow . . . Binky . . . meow . . . .” He did recognize me! Then he came to me! I gave him the cat food I had brought and he began purring and rubbing on me. My wife said she almost began crying as she watched from the car. I soon carried home a skinny, dirty, stinky and very happy little black and white cat. It took a couple of weeks of hissing and posturing before our other three cats accepted him back into the house. Now he’s put most of his weight back on and everything is status quo once again.

Last Sunday night, as we were in the intercessors’ prayer meeting before the evening service, our pastor said that he felt the Lord had placed on his heart a burden of prayer for the backslider. When he asked us to pray for those believers who had fallen away my mind turned to the story about Blitz. And the Lord began to tie some things together for me regarding that experience. How much are we, at times, like that cat?

If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the Lord who is my refuge — then no harm will come to you. No disaster will come near your tent. — Psalm 91:9-10

Like Binky, we can get out of our dwelling place. When we do, that conditional IF kicks in. We’ve been given free will. If we decide to split, the Master of the house is not obligated to cover us. We may step out just an inch to see what’s out there, we may leap out when discouragement and doubt visit us, or we may be dancing the rebellion reel. Once out we become a prime target for the adversary. If he gets his hands on a stray lamb, he will try to carry it as far away from the Shepherd as possible. Binky was enticed by what might be on the outside. After he jumped through the torn screen on the front door he was gripped by fear and confusion and got lost. So do believers that backslide.

If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the other ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one who wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the other ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. — Matthew 18:12-14

While Binky’s departure was worrisome and aggravating, we wanted to find him and bring him home very much. Hey, we love the little guy! God loves His lost ones, too. I have slid some in my life. I had become discouraged and angry and I hardened my heart to God. Reflecting back on that time, I know He was calling my name and looking out for me while I ran from Him. Much the same way that I had tried to make contact with and care for a lost cat who largely disregarded my efforts. The Lord also admonishes His saints to try and reach His lost cats. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” I appreciated my neighbors help and encouragement in trying to catch Binky. The Lord has endless grace for His beloved backslider.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, You are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. — Psalm 139:7-8

In trying to understand why Binky didn’t just come home, it occurred to me that he had lived in this house for some time. Being an inside cat, he didn’t know what the house looked like from the outside. From his viewpoint he might as well have been in China or on the moon. He was only fifty yards from the house all along, but in his little mind he was lost. Lost! Many of us become separated from God and we think we are unrecoverable, unlovable or unwanted. God’s house can be right in front of us but our perceptions get so clouded with sin and the world that we don’t recognize it. Truth is, no matter how far we think we’ve wandered from God, He is always right there. I remember a song that said, “You can walk a thousand steps away, but it’s only one step back.”

As I was with Moses, so will I be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. — Joshua 1:5

God is always there for His beloved children who wander and He wants very much to restore them to fellowship.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. For this son of mine was dead, and is alive again, he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate. — Luke 15:20 and 24

God loves us so much that He will continue to call to those who are like little lost cats. He hopes that they will one day recognize His voice and come to Him. On that day, with a tear of joy in His eye, He will carry them back skinny, dirty, and stinky to His house to once again wash them in the Blood of the Lamb and make them whiter than snow.

Quite a lesson from such a little cat.