Monday, August 29, 2016

Sabbatical

I'm going to take a rest from adding to this blog, for the simple reason that typing at the computer makes my neck and back pain flare up. I'll be writing with pencil and paper in the meantime, and hope to add more posts again someday.

Meanwhile, perhaps my readers would like to explore my other blogs:

Harpsichord: A Poetry Blog

Fourteen, Fifteen, Foreigner: My Diary

Growing Up Gaijin: MKs in Japan

Friday, February 5, 2016

Parenting Strategies for Aspies


The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Difficulty communicating
*Much time spent on introspection

Welcome back to myself as a blogger! It's been six months since I last wrote a post, and I want to thank those of you who have continued to view this blog and read or reread the content already on here. I also wanted to let you know about my Facebook page, which is entitled, "Asperger's Traits and Christian Living," the same as the blog. It's the best place to stay alert to new posts on the blog, so please "Join" and "Share," if you're on Facebook.

As to why I let the blog lag for six months, the biggest reason is that I'm expecting a baby, and morning sickness hit me with a vengeance this time, my second pregnancy. A friend predicted that it would be a boy, based on the fact that this experience with morning sickness was very different (much worse) than my experience with my first pregnancy, a girl. She was right! Please keep me (Sharon Rose) and my family in your prayers as we prepare for our baby boy to join us in early summer, Lord willing.

As I grow as a parent, it brings my mind back to my relationship with my own parents as a child. Both of my parents identify with the core Asperger's traits, though in other ways, their personalities are very different. I'd like to list a few ways they helped me to cultivate helpful Asperger's traits and overcome the limiting traits.

1. Starting when I was 3, my dad trained me to smile for pictures. His efforts produced a range of smiles, from half-smiles with only one corner turned up, to cheesy "show your teeth" smiles. (He literally said, "Show your teeth," LOL.) But after I practiced, the smiles became more natural, and I have been unable to NOT smile for pictures ever since. I know two ladies with Asperger's traits who simply didn't smile well when they were little, and were teased about being grumpy all the time, when they actually felt fine. Sometimes, with Aspies, emotions don't reach the face accurately, though with others of us, emotions show too readily at times when they should be hid.

2. My dad's sense of humor involved making up silly stories and seeing if he could get me to believe them. Although he didn't know it, this strategy probably helped me a lot in combating the usual Asperger's traits of taking things literally and accepting without question that others are as honest and forthright as you are. If you use this tactic for humor, I just caution that you do what my dad always did, and explain quickly that you are "teasin', trickin', and foolin'." If you string somebody along too far, they will end up feeling that the joke is on them, and will resent it. By the time I was seven, I could judge when my dad was kidding based on his tone of voice and twinkle in his eye, thereby adding to my ability to interpret nonverbal language, which is a struggle for many Aspies.

3. Fast forward to my teenage years . . . My parents let me know exactly what kind of social behavior was annoying or inappropriate. This felt like nagging and criticism to me, but I needed it. Two of the biggies were: Don't mumble. ("I'm not talking to you - I'm talking to myself," I would reply. Yeah. Not socially acceptable, but a classic case of introspection taking precedence over communication.) Don't ignore me when I've said your name. (Extremely hard to do when I had my nose buried in a book, but I finally snapped out of it when my mom jabbed at my pride by putting up a star chart, "like teachers do for kindergarteners," as she said.)

I think three examples will do for now! In case you're wondering, my parents are still around now, still married to each other, and still two of my closest friends. My dad just doesn't do "teasin', trickin', and foolin'," like he used to.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

"Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Deuteronomy 5:16


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Flashback 2002 - Two Straws or One



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Anxiety or depression
*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Difficulty communicating
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Loneliness or isolation


My mirror told me I was a pretty girl, in spite of my painful braces and pair of glasses. I had long, brunette hair that served me well as a hairstyling hobby. As a freshman at Clearwater Christian College, I was eager for new friends to bond with . . . maybe even a boyfriend.

As Daniel strutted into the campus cafe, the first words out of his mouth were, “Sharon Rose Enterline!” And he sat down on a stool next to me at the counter.

Daniel had the darkest eyes you’ve ever seen, and a skin tone that had always been tan.  He didn’t have dimples, but when he smiled, I felt like he was giving me a gift.

Now, young men who could speak English were scarce where I came from, so I was glowing with his attention.

I remember Daniel asking me, “Can you speak Japanese?”

“Yes, I’m good enough at it,” I told him.

He asked, “ Can you carry on a conversation, like we’re having right now?”

“Yes,” I said. Then I mentioned my best friend Mary.  “She’s a missionary kid, too,” I said.

“You must miss her,” Daniel stated. I noticed how good he looked in that bright blue dress shirt. Bright blue might be my next favorite color. Hmm.

“Yes,” I replied, “But our parents are really good about getting us together whenever possible.”

Then it was my turn to ask questions. “How about you?  Do you speak any foreign languages?”

Daniel frowned and looked away from me.

“Have you been to any other countries?” I persisted.

“When I was little, I went to Mexico with my dad,” he said.

“Ever go on missions trips?”

He responed with more frowns, and then turned to the cafe worker and asked, “Can I get a cookies n cream milkshake?”

“Sure.”  The guy mixed up a milkshake, put the lid on the cup, and said in a low voice, “Do you want two straws with that?”

“Not this early in the relationship,” replied Daniel, in a stage whisper. “But you could pour it into two cups. Can’t get through the day without chocolate!  So I thanked him and devoured my share of the shake.

On Friday, I stopped in at my friend’s dorm room.  “Hi, Sharon Rose!” said Jess Lynn. “Come on in. We have some spare time before our next class.”

I brought up the person who was on my mind. “Do you know Daniel Everest?” I asked. “He talked with me the other night in the cafe.”

“Yeah, I went to high school with Daniel, up in Pennsylvania,” said Jess Lynn.

“Really?”

“Yeah.  His parents are missionaries to Ukraine.”
           
“Wait. Are you sure he’s a missionary kid?”
           
“Yes. He went to my school for tenth grade, spent eleventh grade in Ukraine, and came back and graduated with my class,” said Jess Lynn.

At first, I was delighted.  No wonder we had hit it off so well.  Daniel could understand me because he had faced similar experiences!  But at the same time, I was mystified.

“I specifically asked him, ‘Have you been to any other countries?’ And he wouldn’t answer!”

Jess Lynn offered no explanation. “I guess you’ll have to ask him about it.”

Later, on our ride home, I told my mom what I had learned. “He was downright deceitful, Mom!  He knew I was an MK, but he wouldn’t tell me that he was.  Why would he keep that a secret?”

“I don’t know, honey.”

 “How am I going to tell Daniel that I found out?”

“I don’t know, Sharon Rose,” Mom repeated. “I’m sorry he didn’t tell you he had been to Ukraine.  You looked so cute when I came into the cafe and saw you with Daniel.  You had your head propped on your hands, turned his direction, with your ponytail over your shoulder.  I can’t figure Daniel out,” Mom concluded.

She and I were awake most of the night, puzzling about Daniel Everest, and we finally decided to go for an early-morning walk. 
           
We stopped in at a restaurant for breakfast.  As soon as we were seated, Mom put her head in her hands and said, “Sharon Rose, these boys are taking forever to grow up!  You’ve been a teenager for so many years now . . . and I’m so tired of waiting!”

A waitress hurried up and said, “I’m sorry, I got here as fast as I could.”

I did let Daniel know I knew. I wrote him a letter, which he acknowledged, and he no longer hid his MK status from me. Now at least, I knew for sure.

Many things happened as the days moved on. Acting in The Sound of Music was what I loved best about my first semester in college.  I had done a lot of acting in Japan, learning my lines in Japanese.  This play seemed to connect me with my past.

I knew that Daniel didn’t want me around, but I shamelessly chased him. After all, I was only 18, and immature in many ways.  To me, Daniel Everest was mysterious and fascinating. 

All this time, I had been confiding in Jess Lynn. “He’s got a big ego,” she told me.

I wanted to know why she said that.

“In high school, he was always talking about Ukraine and what he had done there, and kids made fun of him because of that.”

So Daniel used to be an MK who bragged.  Then, attempting to balance out, he had gone to the other extreme, refusing to talk about Ukraine at all.  Didn’t that prove that he was trying not to have a big ego?  I wasn’t sure.

My parents took my problems to my Bible professor, and he summoned Daniel to his office.  I waited outside.

When our professor called me in, I got an apology from Daniel for “coming on” to me.  We also talked about my loneliness, and how I needed to pray and wait for friendships. Daniel looked gorgeous, even while wearing orange – a color I normally hate.

My jaw dropped and my eyebrows shot up when Daniel gave me another peek into his MK experience. He described his emotions during the time he left his home in the Ukraine for Pennsylvania. “I used to cry every night,” he said. “I missed my home and my friends, and I got picked on in high school for talking about the Ukraine. That’s why I don’t like to talk about it anymore. I’d rather keep my mouth shut and fit in.”

“You used to cry every night?” I repeated, in shock. “I cried every morning, because I didn’t want to wake up in Pennsylvania, instead of in Japan. And I’m still crying now!”

But I was comforted.  The Bible professor insisted that I promise not to send Daniel any more letters or give him any telephone calls.  We were to be casual friends only.  So I agreed.

“Okay,” I said. “I understand better now. Thank you for your kindness, Daniel – truly.” 


The best thing about my friendship with Daniel may have been this poem I wrote about him – or rather, about an exaggerated version of him! These are new words to the song the nuns sing about Maria in The Sound of the Music.
             
When I’m with him, I feel stressed.
He’s my focus; I’m obsessed.
He can send me into dithers of delight.
With an ego that’s so huge,
He’s a guy I’d hate to lose.
He’s a cute one, he’s a hot one, hold him tight!
He’ll politely tell you lies.
You’ll get lost in his dark eyes.
He’s a heartthrob!  He’s addictive!  He’s a man!

How do you solve a problem like Daniel?
How do you grab his shirt and pin him down?
How do you find a word describing Daniel?
A player, a flirt, a king (of hearts).
Many a thing you’d love to hear him tell you
Many a thing you try to understand.
But how do you catch his eye?
Without him you know you’ll cry!
How can one guy be so much in demand?
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Daniel?
How do you let him know you think he’s grand?
\
The following year, guess who I saw in the office hallway when I went to pay my tuition? Daniel Everest – in a lime green shirt. He greeted me, saying, “You look different now, Sharon Rose, with your braces and glasses gone.”

I glanced away, then met Daniel’s deep brown eyes head-on. I paused, and replied sincerely, “I hope I am different.”

How this topic relates to Christian living:

Ephesians 4:32
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Pride and Prejudice Quote



The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Boredom with small talk
*Too quiet or too talkative
*Difficulty communicating


Mr. Darcy: I fear I am ill-qualified to recommend myself to strangers. . . . I have not that talent that some possess of conversing easily with strangers.

Elizabeth: I do not play this instrument so well as I should wish to - but I have always supposed that to be my own fault - because I would not take the trouble of practicing.

How this topic relates to Christian living:

I Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Friday, June 5, 2015

14, 15, Foreigner

About a year ago, I received a suggestion from an anonymous reader to write about what it's like for an Aspie to study a foreign language for the ministry (as opposed to academic reasons). The same person also requested info about being an Aspie on the mission field. I'm a missionary kid (MK), and I studied Japanese with tutors, at a Japanese elementary school part-time, through an after-school program, at church, at Bible camp, and last but not least, in drama club.

I thought often about this topic of learning another language, wondering how to scrape the surface of an experience I spent my life on from ages 3 to 17. Here's the answer!

14, 15, Foreigner: MK in Japan

This new blog contains the story of my time as a missionary kid in Japan in 1998, the year I turned 15. The posts are taken directly from my diary, with the added sparkle that my years studying English Language Arts were able to provide. Here's your chance to see what it's like to try to learn a foreign language while being a foreigner yourself.


How this topic applies to Christian Living:

I Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Testimony of Salvation

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Anxiety and depression
*Loneliness and isolation


I am 31, and I have been a believer in Jesus for 29 years. Yes, I prayed for salvation, at my mother's prompting. when I was 2-1/2 years old. I was very verbal for a 2-year-old (as my daughter now is), and my mom had taught me at least 12 Bible verses by memory. My favorite Bible verse was: "My sheep hear my voice" (John 10:27). My mom says that my attitude and obedience changed after I prayed to Jesus and trusted that He would forgive me.

My parents read me many Christian stories and Bible events from the time I was very small. They recorded many books on cassette, so that I could listen to them over and over again. My favorite book was (and still is) The Tanglewoods' Secret, because the little girl telling the story helps a shepherd find a lost sheep.

When I was nearly 6 years old, I heard an invitation where the preacher said, "If you can remember a certain time when you asked the Lord into your heart, then raise your hand."

I whispered to my mom, "I don't remember it." That was when I decided to go forward and pray for salvation, this time led by a missionary lady who was a friend of our family.

Years passed, and leading up to my 13th birthday, I was struggling with doubts about the Bible and religion. I'd been studying world history, and I wondered why I believed the Bible was true. Was it just because of my parents? Or did I really know for myself that the Bible is true?

I could sense an enemy attacking my thought life, so I looked up the passage in Ephesians 6, regarding the full armor of God. I drew pictures of the armor of God, with labels, and taped them over my picture, to help myself visualize this truth - or WAS it the truth? I still wasn't sure.

The night after I turned 13, I again felt doubts washing over me. I turned on the light, picked up my Bible, and turned the pages. The Lord led me to John chapter 10, the chapter in which Jesus gently explains, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:10). He goes on, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).

Suddenly, it all made sense. Jesus IS real! I had been listening to Him and following His leading for so long that it seemed natural to me. But I knew other people did not live that way. So why was I different? Why would I even care about doing what was right and apologizing when I was wrong, unless I could hear the voice of my Savior - my Shepherd - my Jesus.

He is my all in all. He loves me - and He loves you. Won't you lean against the shoulder of that Shepherd who went out of His way to find you through this blog post? Won't you put your faith in Him. He died for you. He rose again for you.

I love my Shepherd, and I believe His Holy Word.

How about you?

P.S. After typing this article, which God had laid on my heart, I went up to my bedroom and flipped my Names of God calendar. The name for today was: "I AM the Good Shepherd."


How this topic applies to Christian living:

Luke 15:4-7
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Flashback 2014 - Holy Spirit on the Job

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Anxiety and depression
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately


When I first started dating my husband, we got engaged early on, and suddenly I was very upset. I used to dislike change, and I could see with this marriage, all the dominoes I had placed carefully around myself were tumbling over and getting knocked down!

My fiance told my mom, "Sharon Rose not only worries, but she wants me to worry with her!"

No more. I love change now, and I throw worries out the window. That's what being a wife and mom has done for me. I have learned to trust God much more than ever before. Let me tell you a story about the Holy Spirit's voice of Scripture in my mind at a time when I decided NOT to worry.

Flashback 2014

Yesterday, I took Annika to the doctor. She turned out to be fine, but it was a long, stressful drive through traffic. As I got close to home, I came to a stop at a red light. I decided to wait for the light to turn green, even though I could have turned right on red.

When the light changed, I began my turn. I heard a honk from a car behind me and quickly turned my head. There, beside my car in the twilight was a bicyclist!

I felt my face turn pale realizing how close I had come to running him over. My first reaction was thankfulness for the narrow escape, but by the time I reached home and carried my baby inside, I was in tears.

Besides the obvious thought: "What if I had run over that bicyclist?" I immediately struggled with further implications. That is the route my husband often rides on his bike. I thought, "What if a car runs over my husband some day?" Horribly worse yet, "What if I run over my husband on his bike?"

I beat down my emotions as though beating down water in the deep end of the pool. How could I keep my head above water?

"Fear not," I began to recite. "Fear not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10).

The next thought following this quotation was; "Do you believe that?"

Yes, I do.

How this post applies to Christian Living:

Hebrews 13:5b
For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.