What Rachel Smalley, and the public, doesn’t understand about mainstreaming special needs children.

Every ‘type’ of race, gender, personality, difference (this list could go on) are already part of our communities, societies, cultures, schools, universities, work places etc. Whether or not we all feel, or believe, or choose, or behave as if we’re all here is another matter. Well intentioned exclusion in its extreme leads to things like genocide. We need to be very careful about whether one person or group’s desires are of more or equal value than another’s and how we can all live interdependently not in isolated or isolating independence from others.

Autism & Oughtisms

Today a reader of my blog asked if I’d read a recent article written by Rachel Smalley, up on the Newstalk ZB website. The reader was not happy about what she read there, and having read it myself I also feel the article needs a public reply. There is just so much wrong with the way Smalley frames the debate she is looking at, that it is hard to know where to start, so I might as well begin at the beginning.

Bu Via Tsuji, via Flickr

Smalley’s article starts off with the recent example of the child with Aspergers and dyslexia, who had been expelled from school because of an incident with a skateboard. She uses this example to launch into the question of whether it is a good idea to mainstream children with special needs. She uses two examples to frame the debate: One where an…

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Healing and Restoration

So, subsequent to Community or Conformity, my questions would be:

  • what constitutes healing?
  • is healing the same for everyone?
  • do my limited knowledge and view of life inhibit what I understand healing to be?
  • I could probably go on!

Jim Stallard in “You Owe Me Dinner” said,

What is most beneficial to me is not so much a building that meets all the legal requirements, but rather an attitude that meets all the attributes of Jesus. And whilst Jesus certainly healed people, he didn’t heal everyone. I wasn’t healed, but I still needed all of my faith to help sustain me.

The Designer, Creator, Restorer and Sovereign God (as, to me, He has proved Himself to be) made us for relationship with Himself and each other. When we rebelled against His design and order, spoiling both types of relationship, He made the restoration of them possible by acting  in accordance with His own design. He made whatever sacrifice, and performed whatever action, was necessary to make available these restored relationships – if we desire to return to living according to design.

This God has declared that, for those who have chosen to return to this love-relationship, He will be using everything as part of the process of completing the restoration/healing He has provided for. Even the brokenness in individuals, and families, and communities as a result of their rebellion against design and order.

My response? This God, Father, has also declared that what He wants is for no one to perish as a result of their rebellion. He stated that He will use every choice, consequence, person and power; even rebellion itself, to draw those who will come, to His healing restoration. Sometimes we want to be ‘healed’ from the thing/s which are bringing us or someone else to restoration of relationship. And I see restoration of relationship as the ultimate in healing. I choose not to pursue the temporary, thereby sacrificing the permanent; the eternal. I would prefer the temporary at present, because this is the tangible which I have known. But I have had glimpses and tastes of  eternal healing and restoration. Therefore, I will trust the One who has proven Himself faithful and a promise-keeper; I trust that He is healing me and those around me from everything that hinders my intimacy with Him and those He has given me; I trust that He is healing others from everything that hinders their intimacy with Him and those He has given them.

I have witnessed and/or experienced healing after specific prayer; with and without the anointing of oil; with and without the presence of the one being prayed for; as a result of general living in surrender to the design and power of the Creator. I have also witnessed in one healed miraculously on a number of occasions, the healing of leaving the temporary and tangible for the eternal and permanent in death – because that free but expensive ticket had been taken hold of. 

I want for myself and for you, life according to design. Purpose, fulfilment, peace, unity, love, intimacy with the Creator and the created. May the process continue until its completion, may you desire to join me in this process. This is a journey with a certain destination. This journey is already paid for. Take hold of your free but expensive ticket and join me for healing, restoration and life according to design.

 

What would healing mean for you?

Community or Conformity?

For those in Christian circles, this may be a familiar theme. For others, maybe strange; perhaps ridiculous; novel…

My middle child (almost adult) was sharing a story from a friend/previous teacher concerning the desire of some people that they be ‘healed’ from their blindness. Someone pulled their car over to the side of the road to invite this friend and her companions to church, exclaiming that he had prayed for the healing of blind people in the past and they were ‘healed’. Her response was that she believes in and has seen God’s miraculous healing herself, and that receiving her sight was for God’s timing. Perhaps more importantly though, this passer-by came across as pushy and didn’t even address this friend directly but spoke about her to her companions (very common). My eldest has been stopped in the street by someone insisting on praying for his ‘healing’, which he was obliged to allow. Their father and I have repeatedly been asked (sometimes by the same person) to present our children at the front of the church building so that others can pray for their ‘healing’.

My daughter’s response?

 In relation to this subject, I haven’t been prayed for or have had this offer personally, but I know my parents have. I’m not sure how they responded in those situations, but I know from my perspective that I don’t consider myself sick. If I hadn’t been blind, there would be so many people I would not have met, people I wouldn’t have been able to share the gospel with and places I wouldn’t have been. I also think that if my sight were restored, I’d have all this vision and wouldn’t know what to do. I would have to learn to read and write again, and basically how to do basic every day things. Furthermore, I/we live in a developed country with services such as Vision Australia and Guide Dogs. In Jesus’ time when he healed blind people, they were “begging”. (No V A back then). So, while I have no sight I can live life, work, I have family and friends and a place in society. These people, because of their lack of sight, experienced absolute poverty: no food, money or social class in society. For Jesus to heal them was not only to heal their sight; but to restore (or rather allow) them a place in their communities. So basically, I’m happy the way I am. I will have my sight healed in one way or another (be it in this life or when I see Jesus in Heaven); but if God chooses to heal my sight while I am here on Earth so be it. If not, I’m feeling perfectly healthy and well and happy with my life at the moment.

My response? I’ll end with quoting myself from the Sympathy Versus Empathy post:

Sympathy alone would lend me to want to change another’s circumstances or person to suit me, make me feel better, achieve my goals, remove all that is a bother to me, include all that would make my life easier…A good beginning but a potentially disabling, judgemental, intrusive and ultimately self-seeking end. Not any of the things I associate with love, compassion or community. Empathy, on the other hand, and if an extension of the sympathy I first experience, would lend me to consider what would be in the best interests of the other. I might ask what their experience actually is, what their goals and frustrations are, what are their passions and hurts…the list could go on. I might then be able to feel and say, “I think I can see how you feel or why you would want that.”

Unity, inclusion, community, acceptance, respect, interdependence, individuality…cannot exist in conformity. I think we are sadly mistaken if we have imagined conformity to be the same as inclusive community.

A Duck’s Life

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Fly and swim and glide and float

Taste all that passes by.

Paddle, preen, itch and scratch

Sit in the sun a while.

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 Protect what’s yours, enjoy the sun

The water, feed and breezes.

Mate, then nurture, feed and teach

Your charges through the seasons.

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 Take a step, do what comes next

Enjoy all that surrounds you.

Worship is to live your life

As you were created to do.

7/1/2014

Grace, Mercy, Truth, Knowledge, Discernment…Wisdom

Grace:

I choose to think, say and do what will be in your best interests regardless of how you treat me. I choose to favour you because I want to. I’m not going to do what pleases you always, but what would be in your best interests.

Mercy:

I choose to not give you what you deserve, but better than you deserve. I choose not to punish you, but shower you with loving kindness.

Truth:

I will be honest; with myself, with The Designer, with you, with others…

Knowledge:

I will find out as much as I can, about as much as I can.

Discernment:

I will think through all knowledge, thought, action, word, judgement…

Wisdom:

I will use knowledge, truth, mercy, grace and discernment to

think, speak, act, assess…live.

I choose to progressively and increasingly become this person, because this is the nature and character of my designer and restorer; because this is how He behaves towards me; because He has made me His dwelling place and is processively infiltrating my being with His.

Marriage, The Fall and The Cross 28/10/2011

Been to a wedding today…

Two designed to become one

Under God

Each choose to walk alone

Outside of God

She clings to, seeks fulfilment in him

Consequence

He desires to rule, dominate

Curse

Christ, fully pleasing

Submission

Dies to sin, for all

Satisfaction

Risen to life for all time

Paid in full

Consequence, curse, death

Complete redemption

Two released from bonds

To self

Purchased, to freely choose life

As designed

The path now walked, once again

To become united

Submitted to, fulfilled in, ruled by

Christ Alone

My Path To Freedom

What a courageous battler! In our day of quick ‘fixes’, which often turn out to be band aids with no healing power, it’s an encouragement to see a victory.

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John 8:32

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

It all began when I least expected it – during a time that was supposed to be happy. It was a celebration of a new beginning – the birth of my third child, Jonah.

Shortly after marrying my wonderful husband on May 23, 2012 – I became pregnant again for the third time. I was not expecting it. To be honest, I thought I had the flu.

What I really had – were two pink lines. Welcome back to Mommyhood, I thought.

Flash forward. March 12, 2013 – my son was born four weeks early. After a battle for his life in the NICU – he returned home when he was 9 days old.

Shortly after his return – I noticed the simple things were getting harder. Walking. Cleaning. Getting out of bed. There was…

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Miscommunication and Misconceptions

Written in braille and stuck to our kitchen wall is a comment written by my youngest while she was in the 5th grade. It was part of a book response, I believe, and reads as follows:

Sometimes we can misunderstand things and assume things that might not be the truth. But you can overcome those things by talking about it with other people and making sure you don’t assume things too often because what you think is happening might not be true.

Having blind children leads to lots of misconception and miscommunication – some because of intentional ignorance, some because of a lack of information or real-life experiences. A few are disheartening, most are  amusing, and some downright hilarious! We laugh about the disability in our family because it is a normal part of our life (though not our life in its entirety). My children are not offended by the word ‘blind’, because they are blind; their vision is not impaired, they have no vision and this is normal for them. They do not feel as though they are ‘missing out’ on things they have never experienced, and their father and I have always endeavoured to do our best to engage them in as many experiences as we can. I have no desire in this post to share the disheartening (though that may come another time), but here are some of the humourous – with my mostly-grown-children’s permission.

Our youngest was 3 years old and did not want to ride on the shuttle-bus at Australia Zoo in Queensland, crying almost hysterically and shaking somewhat. She had spent the day with our new friend, not wanting anything to do with old familiar family members, but suddenly HAD to be with me. It wasn’t until we had driven off a little way that I had a thought and told her that we were not going into space; it was not that kind of shuttle but more like a tractor with carriages. The crying stopped and she instantly desired to go back to the new friend. 

This same child a couple of years later was in our new vehicle with siblings, myself and an uncle taking the new car for a ‘spin’. While looking around the back of her seat she found a button (for folding down the back rest giving access to the boot/trunk) and asked what it was for. The accommodating uncle said it was the ejector seat button and immediately the tears started to flow until she was informed that the car did not have an ejector seat.

The eldest has recently had his first sky diving experience, which he loved. I wonder how I knew that he would…

At the age of about 5 years, Mr. fell from his top bunk bed. It took a number of seconds before tears began to fall and when I asked what he thought when he fell, he responded with, “I liked it when I was going through the air, but not when I hit the floor!”

A couple of years earlier, perhaps age 3 years, I was cleaning at one end of the house when he and is first sister were playing in the living area. His sister could not crawl or move about independently as yet. I was constantly venturing out to their space to respond to his sister’s whimpers but whenever I arrived, there was nothing going on and she was alone. Eventually I decided not to leave but stand in my place silently for a few minutes. Mr. 3 year old came running out of the laundry, clapped his sister on the head with both hands, and subsequently ran back to the laundry. When his name was announced with volume and intensity, he responded with, “What!” I asked why he hit his sister, “I didn’t,” he responded. I then explained to him that I was standing in the room and saw him do it. He was in fact ‘in trouble’ but I was in stitches.

Miss in the middle has given/experienced much consternation! Here are a couple.

As a Miss 5, she with the rest of us were going to experience the ferry across Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. She was very concerned about the car-carrying boat tipping over and depositing us all in the water, where there may be sharks. We were informed my a member of the crew that even if the ferry sank, the roof wouldn’t be submerged but someone was not convinced. The day before our trip, as cars were being driven aboard, we were allowed to walk onto the bottom deck to see how much the boat would rock. We were then ok to travel. Whew!

One of the best stories though, was when she was somewhat older but only by a few short years and entered the bathroom where dad had finished his bath after sowing crops in the paddock. She found little balls on the floor and was distressed about the headband she believed had broken, and picked a few ‘beads’ up asking dad to fix it for her. His response? They were not beads but dried urea (which had to be explained – ask a farmer), and were very quickly dropped again.

Laugh out loud! It’s good for your heart, body, soul, spirit, family, relationships, work, attitude…just laugh a lot. If you can’t find your laugh switch, and I know what that is like, look for someone who can find it for you…and thank them. 

Broken, Scarred, Loved, Free

Oh, what is it that is precious to me,

What draws me to my knees?

Not in fear, but sweet surrender.

The scars on You, for me.

The scars left by the marks of pain;

My sin, betrayal, rebellion.

Your scars prove that Your love for me,

Will o’er these have dominion.

What also do I hold so dear,

That which keeps me on my knees?

Not downcast, but in adoration.

Is it not the scars of mine I see.

Do not my scars two truths proclaim;

Show of defeat and victory?

The path of brokenness I’ve walked,

By Jesus’ blood, I’m healed and free.

New life Christ walks, new flesh He has.

And so too, soon, will I.

But ever precious to us both,

Our scars, just to remind.

29/12/2013