Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's in a Name?

A name is not merely a word to reference things. A name is an identity, and as much as some would like to believe it "is only a name", it is a definition, a blessing, or a curse. Something to live with or live in spite of. A name can alter one's life drastically.

Change Miss to Mrs, and see the hope in a woman's eyes.
Change Mrs to Miss, and see tears pool as loss and grief spill from the heart.
Change Stranger to Son, and you have the story of salvation. If that doesn't change a life, nothing will.
See a child named Stupid, Ugly, or Unwanted and witness the impact of such names. Change those names to Creative, Beautiful, and Beloved and watch a miracle grow before your very eyes.

A name can be everything.

About a month ago, our family had to deal with the imposing of a name.

My husband and I have been married 17+ years. He is a wonderful man. Most women I know would love to have a husband like him, and I understand why. He is a fabulous dad. He is generous, kind, has a servant's heart. He doesn't go to bars, doesn't drink, doesn't gamble, doesn't do drugs. He is faithful and trustworthy. He truly is wonderful.

He's also confusing.

Despite the wonderfulness of my husband, he has an odd inconsistency about him, and over the years I have sought counsel from multiple church leaders, women's mentors, all kinds of Christian sources. For the most part, I was told it was my fault. I was too demanding. I was too negatively focused. I just refused to see the good thing I have. I just didn't want to follow. I needed to repent of being too headstrong. You get the idea.

My general thought has always been that it is hard to follow someone who walks sort of a messed up drunkard's path. I always felt I was standing on sand that could change at a moment's notice. Not Rob's character, but his thinking, what had his interest, and what was important.

He would assure me he supported something I wanted to do and then seemingly sabotage it by putting in so many other things it became impossible for me to whatever it was. I could go and on, and as most of you read it, you would see each puzzle piece and give it an explanation and dismiss it. I know because it has happened to me for 17 years. However, my friend Debra listened as I explained all the puzzle pieces that had finally grown to the size of Mt. Everest, and she new the real name of the mountain. The real name is Asperger's.

Asperger's is a form of autism. It isn't like most of us think of when we think "autism". Most of us think of children locked in their minds unable to talk, respond, or function alone. Asperger's doesn't fit the classic picture at all, which often makes it hard to identify.

Asperger's is often found in geniuses. It has nothing at all to do with intellectual ability. It does affect emotional and social ability. Imagine someone with an IQ in the genius level who gets "stuck" with the social and emotional maturity of a teenager. Imagine the things that characterize teenagers: the impulsivity, being driven by gratification, the emotional maturity, the short-sighted thinking, only see the details without seeing the big picture--like the consequences (the trees but never seeing the forest), inability to see others' point of view, inability to empathize. Now, imagine adults capable of doing adult things, having adult lives, but still think and respond as teenagers. Now, think about being married to one of them.

While it is true that having a name for our insanity is helpful. It says that under the circumstances, we are normal. It also means we are doing really well. 80% of Aspie marriages end in divorce (thus, we are thankful for the 20%). It means nothing I could have done in the last 17+ years would have helped Rob respond differently. It took a lot of guilt and responsibility off me and hopefully him.

It also means Rob isn't simply being insensitive and will one day get a clue. It means all the things he has done for 17 years that has broken my heart he will most likely continue to do because he still won't know better. Try that realization on from the side of a man who wants to be a great husband and from the side of a woman who simply hoped for another adult to help carry the load and be her support. There are no words for the sense of grief that washes over you at that moment.

It's just a name. Nothing has changed. And yet, everything is different.

There is no cure, and if you read most articles about Asperger's, it'll leave you horribly depressed and hopeless because it points out that there is nothing you can do. Thankfully, we are not ones to care about what we can and cannot do. Instead, we care about what God can do and what He wants to do in and through us.

We believe He can accomplish His plans for us, plans to give us hope and a future, plans to do us good and not harm.
We believe He can be glorified in our hearts and our marriage.
We believe He can give us strategies to not just survive but to flourish.
We believe Asperger's was defeated on the cross, and we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.
We believe He can use us to show others that Asperger's is not a death sentence but just another mountain that offers a great view from the top.

Yes, a name changes things. Sometimes the changes seem bigger than us, but no matter what name gets thrown at us, we are sure that the name of Jesus never changes, and that is what changes everything.
Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jericho's Walls

This is the 100th post on my Jerri Phillips blog. How wonderfully appropriate that it would deal with healing and the fall of the enemy!!!

As some of you may remember, back in February, I had symptoms indicative of a heart attack and went through a battery of tests. Thankfully, there was no heart attack. However, we were shocked when I was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. The Lord poured peace out on us, though, and we trusted Him to handle it. I watched my blood pressure, and really, there was nothing more I could do. It was up to the Lord.

A week ago Friday, I had my repeat echocardiogram to see if there were any change. Friday I went in for the results.

In short, he said it had not changed. The echo showed my left ventricle wall was thickened. The doctor asked me about my blood pressure, which is fabulous. He asked why it was elevated at his office, and I gave my explanation (it was not done with the correct protocol, but if he wanted to use the correct protocol, it would be fine). He agreed my explanation would truly explain it. Then we got into serious discussion about why the wall was thick, and we discussed my workout routine. Rob and I play tennis 3 times a week, and I walk 20-25 minutes every morning (yes, EVERY morning), and I do toning exercises every (yes, every) day. He said that could explain the thickness.

Then I brought up my bigger concern. When the nurse called in February, she said the wall was “significantly thickened”, but when the nurse called Tuesday, she said it was “slightly thickened”. There seems to be a large difference between “significant” and “slight” in my mind, so I was disappointed that there was no change. He decided to pull up the results so I could see the numbers, and he could explain better.

For those who like numbers:
Outside wall went from 1.3 to 1.1.
Septum wall sent from 1.2 to 1.0
(stuff I don't remember) 4.3 to 4.8

Those looked good to me, but then, there was a huge jump in the next number. He was quiet a moment and then said, “Uh, I have to change what I said. Your heart is a lot better. The thickness measurements have dropped, and the volume your heart is pumping has increased. Your heart is doing great. And after comparing these, I would say had I known your exercise routine and then looked at your latest results, I would say they were normal. Your heart is what it should be for your exercise load.”

I just said, “Thank the Lord.”

I asked when I needed to drop back in or have another echo, and he said, “For what? There’s nothing to check. You’re fine.”

Isn’t God absolutely amazing???!!!!!!!

So as you celebrate the season of Christmas and God’s gift of Jesus, celebrate with us this gift of healing that the Lord has given, too.
Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gratitude 10--Finding My Way Back

When I posted about my shoulder on November 17th, I knew it might take quite a bit of time before I was able to post again. The pain I experienced was unbearable, and I knew a great deal of healing had to occur before I would be able to write again.

I had no idea that the return would be delayed further by emotional pain that at times would feel utterly unbearable and would require healing before I could write again.

As I sit to write this, I feel as though I am learning to walk again. Perhaps that is because I am. A different path has been laid out before me. To the casual observer, it might look like the same one, but to those who have walked here or have walked with me, it is obvious the path I thought I was one is merely a mirage. This one is laiden with landmines, heartache, and questions. Some days the very thought of it leaves me overwhelmed and heart broken beyond words. Other days, a determination to believe in the promises the Lord has repeatedly given forces me to keep moving. And on other, days that are coming more and more often, an excitement that this journey is not one of loss but one of joy, victory, and prosperity propels me forward with an anticipation that only God himself could put in my heart. It is on those days that I know we will not merely survive, but we will flourish, and we will teach others to flourish as well. The question then becomes how to walk this road, not the one I thought I was on or the one I hoped for, but this one. I confess that I don't know. I am learning.

My writing has always been about my journey, and with a new journey and learning to walk it, I find myself learning to write again as well.

On one hand, it is tempting to simply write as though as were well and nothing had changed. I could do that. I know how to perform well. I am quite adept of presenting a lie. I've done it for many years.

On the other hand, I am shakey as to what to say or how much to explain at this point. And frankly, I'm tired of the clouds that have settled over us for the last month. I am ready to see some sunshine, and the fastest road through the clouds is not denial, but gratitude. It doesn't fix things, but it certainly does wonders for one's hope during the journey. And so, I offer thanks.

Thank you God in Heaven...
1. For your forgiveness when I blow it huge.
2. For not walking away when I get mad and ask why.
3. For catching every tear and sitting with me as I cry.
4. For folks who say, "Yep, it's that hard."
5. For your faithfulness.
6. For your promises that are always yes and amen in you.
7. For being with us in the middle of the night when sleep eludes us.
8. For giving different kinds of "crazy" specific names.
9. For friends who pray fervently and love deeply.
10. For strategies to overcome.
11. For the determination to watch the enemy fall under our feet.
12. For the conviction that we can overcome and teach others to overcome as well.
13. For Debra who wouldn't let me be in denial. :-)
14. For people who prayed when all I could do was cry.
15. For laughter.
16. For Christmas.
17. For children who love this time of year.
18. For the 4th Writers, who offer grace.
19. For Mary B, who calls in reinforcements.
20. For Vicki, who googles and arms herself so she can stand with me.
21. For whoever had the great idea to put lotion in Kleenex.
22. That Anna's pathology came back with "Benign" on it.
23. That Robert's foot wasn't broken.
24. For Christmas songs that we can turn up really loud and sing to--even louder, of course.
25. That you never waiver.
26. For the hard times.
27. For the easy times.
28. For Christmas lights that transport us beyond...
29. For 60 dozen cookies that went to our soldiers in Iraq, and all the women who made them.
30. For peace.
31. For the 20%.
32. For knowing where I am and being with me...even when I feel I am having to find my way back.

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"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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