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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Two Straws or One


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

Darren 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 Darren 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,” Darren 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?”

Darren 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 Darren, 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 Darren Everest?” I asked. “He talked with me the other night in the cafe.”

“Yeah, I went to high school with Darren, 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.  Darren 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 Darren 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 Darren.  You had your head propped on your hands, turned his direction, with your ponytail over your shoulder.  I can’t figure Darrenout,” Mom concluded.

She and I were awake most of the night, puzzling about Darren 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 Darren 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 Darren didn’t want me around, but I shamelessly chased him. After all, I was only 18, and immature in many ways.  To me, Darren 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 Darren 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 Darren to his office.  I waited outside.

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

My jaw dropped and my eyebrows shot up when Darren 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 Darren 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, Darren – truly.” 


The best thing about my friendship with Darren 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 Darren?
How do you grab his shirt and pin him down?
How do you find a word describing Darren?
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 Darren?
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? Darren 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 Darren’s deep brown eyes head-on. I paused, and replied sincerely, “I hope I am different.”

"BEHOLD, WHAT MANNER OF LOVE THE FATHER HATH BESTOWED UPON US, THAT WE SHOULD BE CALLED THE SONS OF GOD . . . ."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Pride and Prejudice Quote


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.

"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: Sharon Rose's Diary as a Missionary Kid 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.


"MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, AND I [JESUS] KNOW THEM, AND THEY FOLLOW ME."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Testimony of Salvation


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 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."


"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, 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."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Natural Products Tool Kit Part Two

Doctors come up with some of the strangest solutions to pain. I've been told by doctors:

Exercise more, and you won't hurt so much.

Drink your water room temp instead of cold, so you won't hurt so much.

Let me stick needles in you, so you won't hurt so much.

Let me pump you full of steroids and then send the nurse in to give you a suppository.

Let me take your X-ray so I can figure out how to help you not hurt so much.

Let me give you a colonoscopy, MRI, CAT scan, and ultrasound so we can figure out why you hurt so much.

Let me run tests on you so we can confirm that you're hurting for other reasons.

Let me inject your gums with Novocaine so the drill won't hurt.

And the only one I really liked: Let the anesthesiologist give you an epidural so giving birth won't hurt so much.

So, aside from having Asperger's Syndrome and bipolar disorder, I also have had fibromyalgia for at least 13 years. That kind of chronic pain and fatigue sent me into a search that spiraled from primary care to sleep study to CPAP to tonsillectomy to treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome to acupuncture to chiropractic to Oriental medicine, to special diets and on and on.

So what works? First of all, for my manic-depressive symptoms (which come and go) I am on two antipsychotic mood-stablizing prescriptions, as well as a prescription to alleviate symptoms (named drowsiness) from the other drugs, and an antidepressant which I take as needed.

I also take numerous vitamins and minerals, especially those that have showed up on blood tests as being in insufficient quantities.

What I am going to give you now is a list of ways I cope with physical and emotional pain. Please understand that not all of these products will work for you, but the prices are generally low enough for you to give them a try if you are suffering from pain.
  • Stopain (from the pharmacy) is a spray containing menthol, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil. I carry it with me at home and out of the home. I can slip into a handicap-sized bathroom stall and raise my shirt to spray Stopain on my back and to stretch alone. 
  • T-Relief (formerly named Traumeel) (purchased at Vitamin Shoppe) is a homeopathic pain remedy in which the active ingredient is arnica. I just stick a tablet of T-Relief under my tongue and let it dissolve. 
  • Emu oil (from cleure.com) treats burns and insect bites. This stuff works better than calamine lotion, better than aloe, and better than hydrocortisone. 
  • Triple antibiotic for cuts and scrapes? I still keep that around.
  • Sometimes what I really need is a warm bath in which I dissolve epsom salts with fragrant essential oils that are safe to apply to skin. I currently like peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils for bathtime. Dr. Teal makes an amazing Himalayan pink salt with added oils that makes me feel wonderful, even though I have to drive to my parents' house to use their bathtub first!
  • My favorite essential oil fragrances for emotional distress are honeysuckle and sandalwood / cinnamon. Also, have you ever tried cedarwood oil? The aroma is very soothing.
  • Sunflower oil and safflower oil make great carrier oils, and you can buy huge bottles from Wal-Mart. Ours is a gallon jug, and it's so much healthier than canola oil, which is usually GMO. 
  • I currently DISLIKE lemongrass essential oil. It smells and tastes like soap.
  • I add 3 drops orange or peppermint essential oil (one or the other) to a jug of apple juice, just for fun. The kids love it!
  • I make orange syrup from brown sugar, hot water, and orange oil. Delicious and just as healthy as 100% maple - much cheaper.
  • Hyland's #8 magnesium phosphate (purchased at the health food store) works great for menstrual cramps. 
  • For tummy aches, I used to have a warm pac that is filled with clay (bought at Wal-Mart, I think). It is called a ThermiPaq. Since we don't have a microwave, I set the oven to 170 degrees F, and heat it for about 10 minutes. 
  • It's important to put heat only on soft places of your body. The spine and neck should be treated with cold only. I use an All-Temp Comfort Pack (bought at a chiropractor's office), which I keep in the refrigerator and pull out almost every day for about 20 minutes on low back and another 20 on neck / shoulders. 
  • My husband and I exchange back rubs, and we use Nubian Shea Butter Body Lotion with myrrh and frankincense (from Vitamin Shoppe). There is also a similar, thinner lotion by Shea Moisture. It goes on as smooth as butter and smells heavenly! 
  • Lastly, I have a Conair handheld massager that I use on myself (from Bealls Outlet for $9.99). 
I hope these recommendations will help my readers. Please share this post to those of your friends who suffer from chronic pain.

Lots of love and best wishes to you all!
Sharon Rose

P.S. I almost forgot! To alleviate pain, I do some really thorough stretching of the specific places that hurt the most at any given moment. I hold stretches for a quick count to 40, instead of doing lots of reps. Stretching is a powerful tool, as are walking, swimming, and drinking lots of cold water.

"HEAL ME, O LORD, AND I SHALL BE HEALED; SAVE ME, AND I SHALL BE SAVED: FOR THOU ART MY PRAISE."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Natural Products Tool Kit Part One

It seems these days, we are all poking into corners and down aisles and through websites just to find products that are not only natural (with no added chemicals, fragrances, or dyes) but also reasonably priced. I have been on a search for natural toiletries, home remedies, and cleaning products since 2010. Here are my finds: 
  • For Sensory Integration Dysfunction (AKA Sensory Processing Disorder), I put in silicone ear plugs (from the pharmacy) when I go into large groups of people. 
  • Sunglasses (from the optometrist) whenever I go into bright, sunny places. 
  • For toiletries, I use Yes to Carrots cleanser and Yes to Coconut shampoo and conditioner (from Target). 
  • I use Aveeno Baby Eczema Cream (from the pharmacy) as a moisturizer that keeps my skin hydrated all day. 
  • I use Nubian Black African body wash (from Vitamin Shoppe). It works great on my toddler, too - no tears, and the silkiest hair you've ever felt. I also use it to make a water-soap mixture to pour over the baby wipes that I cut from flannel receiving blankets. The wipes stay fresh in a wipes container, and the dirty wipes go into another wipes container, to be washed in hot water and reused. 
  • Castile soap bar (from Cracker Barrel's gift store) - a good Christmas present - great for washing hands at the sink.
  • Aquafor by Eucerin (from the pharmacy) for red, rough hands. Feels great - works great. 
  • ACT Toothpaste (from the pharmacy) helps my dry mouth amazingly. It also inspires me to brush teeth three times a day, instead of once. 
  • It seems simple, but I now do not use a brush on my hair. Brushes tend to pull and break the hair. My hair is wavy, and I finally figured out that a comb would do as well and better than a brush. So I don't have as many feathery fluffy pieces on top of my head, trying to grow long again. 
  • Tom's of Maine deodorant (from the pharmacy) is the only brand that leaves out aluminum. Aluminum should not be ingested or absorbed through the skin. It is a metal that should not be part of our bodies' makeup. (This is why it would be good to swap out your Teflon-coated frying pans for stainless steel or ceramic-lined pans, which wash up much more easily than Teflon.) Aluminum is generally supposed to be the only ingredient used as an antiperspirant. However, I've been using Tom's of Maine deodorant for years, and though it does not claim to be an antiperspirant, when I'm wearing it, I almost never sweat . . . and I live in Florida. If you still sweat, then use Arm & Hammer aluminum-free deodorant with added baking soda from Wal-Mart. 
  • For seasonal allergies or sinus headaches, I recommend Ayr Nasal Rinse (from the pharmacy) and Dr. King's Homeopathic Allergy and Hayfever Spray (from Vitamin Shoppe). I spray Dr. King's on my tongue after sneezing. Sometimes it clears up the stuffy nose, scratchy throat, etc. without a hitch. Other times, I have to use it in combo with Ayr Nasal Rinse. To get the right temp for the nasal rinse, I fill it 3/4 full with lukewarm water, and 1/4 full with hot or boiling water from the teakettle. Then I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and then rinse my nose according to the directions. 
  • We recently had the privilege of having the carpet in our downstairs living room, hallway, and hall closet replaced with quality laminate by Empire Today Flooring at a 50% off discount on parts and labor. My kids don't need Zyrtec anymore! Wow! Thank you, parents / landlords for paying 100%!
  • As far as food allergies go, I have had terrible Irritable Bowel Syndrome for years, and finally linked the symptoms to the meat I have always eaten. I am now a vegetarian, for the sake of my health. I like the freedom of not having to cook meat, which is the most difficult and time-consuming part of cooking. 
  • For better sleep, which to me, seems at the root of my various other symptoms, I have discovered a solution! Tranquil Sleep chewable tablets by Stress-Relax (from Vitamin Shoppe). These tablets contain 5-HTP, Suntheanine, and Melatonin. They get me to sleep on schedule, about an hour after I eat two tablets, and I wake up early and have sustained energy throughout the day. Praise God! 
"WHAT? KNOW YE NOT THAT YOUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST WHICH IS IN YOU, WHICH YE HAVE OF GOD, AND YE ARE NOT YOUR OWN? FOR YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE. THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY AND YOUR SPIRIT, WHICH ARE GOD'S."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Flashback 2014 - Holy Spirit on the Job


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."

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

Yes, I do.

"FOR HE HEATH SAID, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, NOR FORSAKE THEE."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Forgetful Tooth Fairy


I had another loose tooth. I was excited, because a loose tooth always fell out sooner or later, and then I would get a visit from the Tooth Fairy! Of course, I didn't believe in the Tooth Fairy - not really. I just pretended to believe, and so did everyone else in my house.



I lived in a large, large house. "My house has three stories, an attic, and a basement," I told my friends at school. “My bedroom is on the third floor, and my mom calls to me through the air vent from downstairs, and I can hear her. But we have to be careful not to close the door to the stairway because the doorknob is broken. Once I got stuck behind the door and I had to wait until Mimi heard me yelling and let me out. Our house has FIVE bedrooms!”

My friends weren’t listening anymore. They were talking about peanut butter instead. So I wiggled my tooth with my tongue, twisted my brown braid around my finger, and wondered what the Tooth Fairy would do this time.


My Tooth Fairy tended to be forgetful and confused. More than once, she had left money under Pop-pop’s pillow by mistake. Another time, I had to run round the house finding nickels under every pillow. And then, last December, I had found a note under my pillow in place of the tooth. “Look for your money under the smallest pillow in the house,” the note said. I picked up all the small pillows, and still I found no money. Finally, I knew where to look - the nativity scene, on the coffee table in the living room. Tucked under Baby Jesus’ head was a quarter.

As I smiled, remembering Baby Jesus in the manger, my tooth fell out! Break time had ended half an hour ago, and my teacher was writing “Insect reports due Friday” on the chalkboard. I tasted blood. I raised my hand, and the teacher called my name: "Yes, Sharon Rose?"

“My tooth just fell out. May I get a tissue?” I said.

“Yes, you may. Would you like to go to the water fountain to rinse your mouth?” said my fourth-grade teacher.


“Yes, please,” I said. I quietly left the room. My teacher understood about loose teeth and forgotten milk money and drawing pictures on your desk. I used be scared of her, because last year, when I was in third grade, this teacher had caught me skipping in the hall. She thought I was running, but I was really skipping and singing, “See you later, alligator. After a while, crocodile,” in a very soft voice.

But this teacher had scolded me and told me to go tell my third-grade teacher I had been running in the hall. I did tell my teacher, and she just nodded her head. With 29 kids in that class, I was the least of her worries. But I never skipped inside the school again.

When I came back to the classroom after drinking from the water fountain, my fourth-grade teacher was sitting behind her desk and the class was doing seatwork. I slid into my seat, which was near the teacher’s desk. My teacher raised her eyebrows and said, "You didn’t tell me you had a loose tooth."

I whispered back, “I didn’t, until right after lunch. All of a sudden it was loose, and then it fell right out!”

“Your mom will be surprised, “ said my teacher with a grin.


“So will the Tooth Fairy,” I said to myself. I didn’t say it out loud, because I didn’t want my classmates to know I believed in the Tooth Fairy.

That afternoon, when I got off the bus, I walked into the house just beaming. “How’s my bad little kid?” said Pop-pop. “Did you get any more zeros on your worksheets?”

“Yes,” I said, and showed him my test on the Civil War. The teacher had written “100” at the top in red ink, with eyes in the zeros and a smile below.

“Got any kisses for me?” said Pop-pop, and he puffed his cheek in and out. I gave my grandpa a kiss. I could smell his coffee breath and feel his scratchy whiskers.

Then Mimi called out from the kitchen, “Is that my Sharon Rose?”

“Look, Mimi!” I said, dropping my book bag and running through the dining room. I smiled big and pointed to the empty spot in my mouth.


“You lost a tooth!” said Mimi. And she gave me a soft, warm hug. “I hope you still have it. The Tooth Fairy will want it, you know.”

“It’s wrapped in paper in this pocket of my bookbag.”

“Good.”


That night, up on the third floor, Mama read to me from Little Women. I fell asleep listening to the way Jo made friends with Laurie by coming over to cheer him up when he had a cold.

“Sharon Rose, it’s time to get up!” Mama called. I rolled over in bed. I hated waking up. It was my least favorite thing to do. But as I ran my tongue over my teeth, I felt as though something were different, and then I remembered!


I sat up quickly and flipped my pillow over. Nothing! Not a note, not a coin, not even the tooth I had put there before going to bed. What a disappointment!

“Mama, you remember I lost my tooth yesterday, right?” I said.


“Yes. Why?” Mama was in a hurry, like every morning.

“The Tooth Fairy took my tooth, but she didn’t leave anything for me.”

“Just keep getting ready for school, Sharon Rose. I’m sure the Tooth Fairy just made a mistake. Maybe she’ll be back tomorrow night.”

Slowly, I pulled on my shirt, skirt, socks, and shoes. I couldn’t understand it. This had never happened before. What was wrong with this Tooth Fairy? Why couldn’t she just play by the rules? She always wanted to pull my leg. Maybe she was still mad at me for swallowing the second tooth that ever fell out. Luckily, that happened on the same day as the first tooth, so I had still put one tooth under my pillow that night. But did fairies hold grudges? Judging by Tinker Bell in the Peter Pan story, I guessed they did.

Oh, what nonsense. The Tooth Fairy was just Mama - or Mimi - or maybe Pop-pop. Between the three of them, you’d think they’d get it right, I mused.

I silently ate my breakfast oatmeal and then trudged back to the second floor bathroom to brush my teeth - the ones that were left. I picked up the toothpaste tube and reached for my toothbrush. My eyes widened, and a smile lit up my face. Tied around my toothbrush with a rubber band, was a dollar bill.


Thank you, Tooth Fairy.

"HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER: THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG UPON THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Are You Still Mad at Me?


I'm going to head back in my imagination to the Christian elementary school I attended in Pennsylvania. The rules were strict, but I loved school and seldom got into trouble. Until . . .

One day at school after gym class, we waited in line in the hallway for our teacher to lead us back to our classroom. There was a lot of whispering and talking going on, which we all knew was against the rules when standing or walking in line. I knew those kids who were talking were going to get in trouble.

One of the ways we communicated without talking was to finger spell using the sign language alphabet. I decide to get the attention of my best friend, in line behind me. She was one of the few who were NOT talking. I finger spelled "Q-U-I-E-T," but she just shook her head at me, so I spelled it again. She still didn't get it,

Along came our teacher, and she was determined to call out those who had been talking. She started at the front, pointed to one child after another, looking them in the eye, and telling the culprits, "Go back to the classroom and hide your head in your arms at your desk."

The teacher came up to me and demanded, "Were you talking?" I solemnly shook my head no.

Then she came to my best friend, who feel she needed to mention: "Sharon Rose was using sign language."

The teacher whipped around and told me, "Go bury your head!"

My eyes widened, my eyebrows rose, and I spun on my heel and flounced off. To me, the unfairness was tense with irony. I thought the rule was to be quiet - not to refrain from communicating! I had misunderstood the rule - and I loved going by the rules - even when others did not.

I didn't speak to my best friend for the rest of the day, which was almost over anyway.

The following morning at school, my friend lost no time in asking me, "Are you still mad at me?"

I shook my head, then smiled.

That was when in dawned on me - I had been mad! Is THAT why I hadn't been behaving like my usual self? Being mad was not something I experienced very often, probably because of being an only child. I had used non-verbal communication to let my friend know I was mad at her - and I hadn't even had any practice.

These kind of stories make me "mad" at those who insist that all those on the autism spectrum should be in therapy. We sometimes do express our emotions appropriately, even naturally. It's something we can definitely overthink. Sometimes life experiences are simply something we learn from and decide from a new viewpoint how we'd like to express ourselves, verbally and non-verbally in similar situations in the future.

"THE LORD IS GRACIOUS, AND FULL OF COMPASSION; SLOW TO ANGER, AND OF GREAT MERCY."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Two Cultures


Some of my readers may have caught on that I am a missionary kid. I spent nine years of my life in Japan, with my parents. I studied Japanese hard, and became conversationally fluent at about age 16. I love both Japan and the USA. I have been living in Florida since 2001, with two extended trips back to Japan since that time. Please enjoy the irony contained in my two lists below.

Reasons Americans are lovable:
  • Individuality 
  • Forward-moving projects 
  • Sense of humor 
  • Flexibility and freedom 
  • Focus on fun 

Reasons Japanese are lovable:
  • Group mentality 
  • Careful consideration before action 
  • Serious mindset 
  • Meticulous attention to detail 
  • Focus on education 
" . . . BY THE SCRIPTURES OF THE PROPHETS, ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT OF THE EVERLASTING GOD, MADE KNOWN TO ALL NATIONS FOR THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH: TO GOD ONLY WISE, BE GLORY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST FOR EVER. AMEN."

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Write Like a Rock Tumbler


When I was 13, I had a rock tumbler. It was a red barrel with a lid, and it was hooked up to electricity, which made it rotate on its base for several weeks, 24/7. The rock tumbler took ordinary stones and several coatings of gritty paste and produced glorious, shining stones that were worthy of pendants on necklaces.

I write like a rock tumbler.

I stick in ordinary thoughts and gritty opinions, and mull them over and over in my mind. That is why when I type blog posts, I type up final drafts. I've completed the rough drafts in my head before ever putting fingers to keyboard. I revise as I go along, and then do a final proofreading, run my articles by my mom and dad as my critics, and then click publish.

I write with pencil and eraser every day, carrying a little notebook with me for random thoughts and ideas. I've currently got nearly 50 ideas for blog posts jotted down in that little notebook!

But I produce polished stones - I mean, polished essays - on the first or second try, and revise as I go along. Sometimes I think I hit backspace with my ring finger more than all than the other keys combined!

Occasionally, I take out my notebook and scrap paper jottings, and type up the words on Microsoft Word. I organize the thoughts into file folders for the various ongoing writing projects I'm working on. Later, I sort and combine the disconnected thoughts. I also keep a quotes book for ideas I pick up from reading, TV, or just my own quotable thoughts. All these activities are helpful to me as a writer in the realm of organization.

But for blog posts . . . I write like a rock tumbler. Do you?

"BUT THE COMFORTER, WHICH IS THE HOLY GHOST, WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY [JESUS'] NAME, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, AND BRING ALL THINGS TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE, WHATSOEVER I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flashback 2014 - Change


I have always hated change. Even when I got engaged to the wonderful man I married, I bawled for hours because I could sense that with that one domino toppled over, all the rest of the dominoes would follow. And boy, was I right!

I got married on April 23, 2012. We had our baby girl on March 14, 2013. It has been a wild, marvelously adventuresome experience to start a new family.

And yet I still feel sometimes that change is wrong, just because . . . it's change.

Well, here is a list I wrote in July of 2014. The list is entitled: Ways I Have Changed Since Becoming a Mom. They were not necessarily connected with raising a child, but having that child and my happy marriage had made me more open to change than ever before.

I mentioned this list to my mom's cousin and told her I had changed 24 ways. She was unimpressed. "That sounds about right," she said. Well, what do you know? I'm normal after all.
  1. Fewer slacks and more skirts / dresses 
  2. No more earrings 
  3. Bobbed hair 
  4. Kerchiefs as head coverings in church 
  5. Hospitality tea parties 
  6. Neighborhood walks 
  7. More alert to baby's needs 
  8. More energy to get up early 
  9. Singing special music at church 
  10. Making more craft favorites 
  11. Tried Pinterest 
  12. Fewer Facebook chats 
  13. Witnessing more persistently 
  14. Praying with more confidence 
  15. More loving towards my husband 
  16. More church-rotating 
  17. Crafts for missionaries 
  18. More clear insight into God's Word 
  19. More thankful for God's provision 
  20. Realizing that I am a writer and a song-writer 
  21. Getting prepared for homeschool 
  22. Better able to ask for help 
  23. Officially a soul-winner 
  24. No longer fearful or worried - instead, OBEDIENT! 
"JESUS CHRIST THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TO DAY, AND FOR EVER."

Monday, April 6, 2015

It’s Not Funny!


Off ran Mary Jo past the sandbox.  Off ran Kerri Anne beyond the slide.  And there was I, straddling a bar, deserted by my playmates, and struggling to get down.  Other kids were always faster.  It wasn’t fair.  I had been trying to learn to somersault over the playground bars, but, unlike my nimble friends, I didn’t quite have the “hang” of it yet.

Mary Jo was a ten-year-old tomboy with an older brother and sister to pick on her.  Kerri Anne, while she liked to read and sing, was friendly and athletic.  I, on the other hand, was an only child who would rather stay indoors and cross-stitch than climb a tree or run a race.  I was the oldest, having turned eleven in August, and my legs were long.  But sitting still was my habit, and I disliked playing tag.

When I finally swung off the bar to the ground, I hurried after Kerri Anne and Mary Jo, crying, “Hey!  Don’t run so fast!”  Panting, I caught up with them at a blue but rusty double swing.  They were sitting together on one side, giggling their heads off.  I wondered why.  I gripped the cold metal swing and leaned forward.  Then I saw the opposite seat.  It was covered with water!  Very funny. 

“I’m not going to sit in a puddle,” I huffed.  I tried to squeeze in between my two chums.  Why wouldn’t they stop laughing?  Kerri Anne’s high-pitched giggle rang in my ear.

“It’s not funny!” I yelled suddenly, and I saw my palm come down hard on Kerri Anne’s head.

“Sharon Rose, that was rude,” Kerri Anne said, all the laughter gone from her voice.  And she stepped out of the swing and walked straight ahead.  Kerri Anne’s brown bobbed hair was straggling.  Strange . . . her hair almost always flounced.

I stared after Kerri Anne in shock.  The enormity of what I had done came with a sickening lurch.  I heard Mary Jo say, half-jokingly, “I was laughing too.  Why didn’t you hit me?”

I didn’t answer.  I couldn’t realize that I had hit Kerri Anne, and I couldn’t understand why.  Sharon Rose, the missionary kid, had never struck anyone before.  Why would I do it now?  And if I were going to hit someone, why not a bully, instead of Kerri Anne, the preacher’s kid, who didn’t mean any harm?

Mary Jo and I slowly got off the swing and strayed apart.  Neither one of us comprehended the quarrel, which had seemed to come out of thin air.  There was no fun in swinging now.

I tried hard to think of a reason or an explanation for my misbehavior.  I supposed the. . . the exclusion had angered me.  Kerri Anne had been MY friend first.  Mary Jo also had been MY buddy, before I introduced the two of them.  I wanted them to be friends with each other, of course, but not without including me.  It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t nice.

Kerri Anne trudged across the sand and into the library.  I felt that a wilderness had come between me and my special friend.  I didn’t know how to make things right.  I was used to doing what was right and good, and so being mean bewildered me.  I wanted to keep Kerri Anne’s friendship, but I had never had this problem before, and didn’t know how to solve it.   

Mary Jo and I followed Kerri Anne slowly.   Peering into the library, we found Kerri Anne looking down at the floor.  Mary Jo pulled me in by the arm and said, with the air of a peacemaker, “Sharon Rose has something to say to you.”  Then she disappeared out the door.

But I couldn’t think of anything to blurt out.  I knew the proper phrase would be, “I’m sorry,” but I hated saying I was sorry even more than I hated being wrong.  Oh, I felt awkward.  Why didn’t Kerri Anne speak?  She was so cheery most of the time, but even hearing something unkind would be better than silence. 

Of course, I was very sorry, but my mouth wouldn’t say it.  I thought of asking, “Does your head hurt?” but that would be dumb, and I was never dumb if I could help it.

Giving up, I shrugged, left Kerri Anne in the doorway, and wandered over to a wooden bench.  I put my head in my hands, leaning my elbows on my knees.  I couldn’t tell how long I sat there, so perplexed and ashamed. 

Then I felt Kerri Anne coming towards me, and I looked up timidly.  Kerri Anne smiled!  She held out her hand and said with energy, “Let’s make up.”

“Yes, let’s!”  Delighted by such an easy ending to the quarrel we'd been in, I shook my friend’s hand vigorously.  It was my same hand that had struck out, before I'd thought what I was doing.  But that was all forgiven now.  I was forgiven! 

Mary Jo had been watching the reconciliation from a distance.  Now she skipped up, grinning at us - both her pals.         

I jumped up immediately, and we all ran off together.  Kerri Anne, Mary Jo, Sharon Rose - all three were laughing.

"MOREOVER IF THY BROTHER SHALL TRESPASS AGAINST THEE GO AND TELL HIM HIS FAULT BETWEEN THEE AND HIM ALONE: IF HE SHALL HEAR THEE, THOU HAST GAINED THY BROTHER."

Friday, April 3, 2015

Abnormal? Narrow? Obsessive? Who, Me?


So. Do you think my interests are broad enough, O thou off-the-autistic-spectrum neighbors, who have broad interests?

Here's my list, little changed since I was a child . . . .

  1. Alphabetical Order
  2. Biblical Faith
  3. Card Making
  4. Children
  5. Classic Literature
  6. Counseling
  7. Crochet
  8. Cross-Stitch
  9. Dramatic Theater
  10. Editing
  11. Education
  12. Facebook
  13. Healthy Eating
  14. Home Decorating
  15. Interrelating With People
  16. Japan
  17. Japanese Language
  18. Libraries
  19. Loving My Family
  20. Mental Illness
  21. Missionaries
  22. Missionary Kids
  23. Movies
  24. Origami
  25. Pets
  26. Pinterest
  27. Proofreading
  28. Psychology
  29. Reading
  30. Scrapbooking
  31. Singing
  32. Table Games
  33. Teaching
  34. Twins
  35. Volunteering
  36. Watching Figure Skating
  37. Watching Ice Hockey
  38. Writing

"THE WORLD IS SO FULL OF A NUMBER OF THINGS,
I'M SURE WE SHOULD ALL BE AS HAPPY AS KINGS."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson




Up and Down the Spectrum | 3 Games for Kids


Since Asperger's syndrome is considered to be on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, my question is: Can a person slide down the scale to be lower-functioning at a certain point in life? It's pretty well agreed among Aspies that moving upward on the spectrum is a real possibility, as experiences are gained and maturity is increased.

Now, my Asperger's traits have placed me quite high on the spectrum since my diagnosis at age 18. I definitely had learned and grown to earn that place on the spectrum.

Now, I'm wondering if I'm slipping back towards low-functioning autism. Is that even possible?

I'll tell you why I'm curious about this: I've been ROCKING. I catch myself sitting in a chair or on the sofa, and rocking side to side or front to back. And when I'm in bed, it feels so good to thrash my head rapidly back and forth on my pillows.

I've always considered rocking to be something autistic people did. There's also spinning - something I loved as a young child and into elementary school. My friends loved spinning too, and we invented two fun games involving spinning, besides the fun of spinning while on a swing with the chains wrapped around each other. Our parents thought these behaviors were normal, and I think they were, too.

If you have kids who like to spin, go ahead and read about the games my friends and I made up.

1) The Shoe Game - Everyone in the room takes off their shoes and flings them into the middle of the floor. Then we spin around and get dizzy while trying not to step on any of the shoes. No winners or losers.

2) The Statue Game - One person is the spinner, and she holds the hands of another kid and lets go without warning, so that her friend freezes into that shape as a statue. Then the customer comes and the statue store clerk tries to sell a statue. This involves pressing levers on the statue to make it move! Whichever statue is picked by the customer gets to be the spinner next.

3) The Billboard Game - This is not a spinning game, but who doesn't love to have something for the kids to do while riding along the highway? My friend would ride I-95 from Delaware to Pennsylvania and back. We strained our eyes to see the billboards coming up, and whoever called out a word from that billboard first, earned one point. We lost a point if we accidentally called out a word on a billboard for beer or cigarettes. (We were preacher's kids, after all - and Baptist to boot!)

" . . . THEY BLESSED THE KING, AND WENT UNTO THEIR TENTS JOYFUL AND GLAD OF HEART FOR ALL THE GOODNESS THAT THE LORD HAD DONE FOR DAVID HIS SERVANT, AND FOR ISRAEL HIS PEOPLE."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Ride My New Bike


I had finally learned to ride a bike. And now, my mother was coaching me on taking various turns on the bike. This was a white and purple bicycle, a beautiful girls' bike, which had been a surprise present from my parents.

I remembered how my parents had gotten me out of bed one Saturday with the promise of a surprise downstairs. I'd been excited and happy – until I saw what the surprise was. The thought that hit me with the devastation of fear was: “Oh, no. Now I'll HAVE to learn to ride a bike.” Up until then, the only bike I'd had to practice on was a yard sale find. But this was a new, shiny bike, and I guessed it was expensive. I thought, “Oh, no. Not this. I don't want to learn to ride a bike. It's too hard.”

Mama helped me and helped me, first on the old and plain bike, then on the new white and purple bike. But I didn't like practicing. It was really not fun. I wanted so much to run inside all the way up the stairs to my third-floor bedroom and play with paper dolls and stickers instead. That was what I thought was fun. I could not understand why other kids liked riding bikes.

But it was no use saying that I just didn't want to. Every kid had to learn to ride a bike. It was a rule. Plus, I was already eight years old and I didn't want to ever have to tell another kid that I couldn't ride a bike if someone asked. I wouldn't tell a lie, but it would be so embarrassing to have to say I couldn't.

Of course, “knowing how” and “being able to” weren't exactly the same. I had “known how” to ride a bike for several years. To ride a bike, you had to sit on the seat and hold the handlebars and then push the pedals with your feet. But why wasn't it easy for me? Why?

And then one day – finally – it was easy. This time, Papa was helping. He was holding the back of the bicycle seat for me while I pedaled, and he was running along beside me. All at once, I looked around and spied Papa back behind me, smiling and panting to keep up. But he wasn't keeping up!

I thought, “I'm riding a bike. I have two choices. I can get scared and think I can't do it and quit and fall off. Or I can believe that I really am riding the bike and that I can do it now and keep going.” I kept going.

That day, Papa and I had big news to tell Mama when we got home! “And Mama,” I told her, “you were really right that if I go faster it's easier to balance and stay on the bike! I didn't believe you at all, but that's just how it is. It doesn't make sense, but it works!”

Later that week, I was practicing my new moves out in the back parking lot, which was spacious and quiet. Mama called out, “Now do a figure eight!”

So I did a figure eight, and fell off of my bike, and went splat on the pavement. I was pretty shook up, but not actually hurt. I staggered to my feet, and yanked the bicycle by its handlebars. The handlebars were twisted around backwards, but I didn't care.

I didn’t care, because my mother was laughing at me. I had never known I could feel this angry at anybody. I had never felt this angry at my mother in my whole life. I stubbornly pushed the bike up to the grass, dropped it, and strode away from that accursed bike and into the house. I climbed all the stairs to my third-floor bedroom, and hid in my “bed-chamber” - which was the corner behind my bed’s headrest.

Usually, I went to my bed-chamber to read or cut out paper dolls. I had a lamp and a blanket there. But other times, I also went there to be alone and to cry. This time, the tears weren’t coming, but the anger was still intense. Why does every kid have to learn to ride a bike anyway? I’d been happier before I ever sat on a bicycle seat.

And now, Mama was coming and knocking on my bedroom door.

I did not say, “Come in,” but Mama came in anyway.

“Sharon Rose? I’m sorry I laughed at you, sweetheart. I was just so relieved that you weren’t actually hurt.”

I sniffed. “Are you sorry you told me to do a figure eight when it was too hard for me?” I asked.

“Yes, I am,” replied my mother. “I am so proud of how brave you are to keep trying at something that is hard for you. You know, your schoolwork has always been easy for you, and I really think it’s important for you to try activities that are difficult at times. Does that make sense to you?”

“Like playing the piano, which is also hard for me?” I asked.

“Yes. I want you to keep taking piano lessons and keep practicing hard, because I believe it’s good for you, and so does your Papa.”

“Okay,” I said with a long, drawn-out sigh. "I guess I could learn to like bicycles someday. At least, I won’t give up after one spill, but I still don’t like riding bikes like the other kids do.”

“I love you, Sharon Rose,” said her mama. “Do you forgive me for laughing at you?”

“Yes, of course. But it really did hurt my feelings.”

“I know. Now let’s go down to the kitchen and get some ice cream sandwiches out of the freezer. Falling off bikes might make you work up an appetite, right?”

“You know, this time, I think you are right,” I answered.

" . . . THE DAY OF THE LORD IS NEAR IN THE VALLEY OF DECISION."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Symptoms of Mental Illness


Let me just say this straight out: Asperger's syndrome is NOT a mental illness. Asperger's syndrome means a specific way of viewing the world and behavior based on that specific interpretation of events.

If you have Aspeger's syndrome, you may or may not have various mental illnesses at the same time. I do. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year before discovering I also had Asperger's syndrome. ALSO is the key word. There is overlap.

For example, having Aspeger's traits meant that I was highly sensitive to sounds, and that could make it exhausting to spend time in a big room filled with people. It may cause me to behave in a strange way, like running to the ladies' room during a wedding reception in order to get some peace and quiet, or slipping out of a party to lie down on the hostess's bed. Extreme stress leads to episodes of mania or depression, and Aspies get stressed out faster than most.

For those of you who may be wondering if you or a loved one has a mental illness, I will post a list of characteristics of mental illness, given to me by my psychiatrist. If there are changes in more than two of these areas, there is possibly an episode of mania or depression coming on. Depression is diagnosed after several of the following abnormal or fluctuating symptoms are felt for two weeks or longer. Mania can be diagnosed much sooner, after about five days without adequate sleep and unusually high energy or racing thoughts.
  1. Sleep
  2. Appetite
  3. Speech
  4. Energy
  5. Concentration
  6. Racing Thoughts
  7. Moodiness
  8. Restlessness
  9. Magical Thinking
  10. Detachment from Reality
I know what you think I'm going to say . . . Run for your Bible, and read till you feel better. Right?

Wrong. When you are dealing with the symptoms of a mental/emotional illness, you need to run to a psychiatrist and then a pharmacy - not to a Biblical counselor. In 2010-2011, I  tried the natural medicine approach to treatment, and I developed my worst bout with psychosis (delusional thinking) since 1999. Not good.

So. I have said my piece. This is where I stand on this topic. If it weren't for psychiatric drugs, I would never have gotten through college or have married and had a child. I would have had to be in the "loony bin." Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. And I am not ashamed.

" . . . THEY BROUGHT UNTO HIM ALL SICK PEOPLE THAT WERE TAKEN WITH DIVERS DISEASES AND TORMENTS, AND THOSE WHICH WERE POSSESSED WITH DEVILS, AND THOSE WHICH WERE LUNATICK, AND THOSE THAT HAD THE PALSY; AND HE HEALED THEM."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flashback 2011-2012 - Our Secret Wedding


With Valentine's Day in our recent past, and our third anniversary coming up in April, I thought now might be a good time to share about my relationship to my gentle, faithful, hard-working, Aspie husband James Patrick.

All I really know is what worked for us. Since we are as happily married as can be, and still head-over-heels in love, maybe our story will challenge other young people to look beyond the wedding and prepare for the marriage.

First of all, James and I were both desperate. He had never come even close to having a girlfriend. His romantic imagination had prepared a volume of poetry which spoke directly to my heart.

I, on the other hand, had been involved with three men, but had never gotten the relationship to progress to engagement or even discussion of marriage.

I had high hopes for one of my guy friends to ask me out, but instead when I approached him about starting a relationship, he told me frankly that he was satisfied with our friendship. I was not. I was 27, and I wanted romance - preferably right away!

I had dabbled with online dating sites in the past, and got two short relationships and two guy friends out of my efforts - oh, and a teddy bear and a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Yeah.

Then my dreams were dashed by three other guys I liked well enough to marry. I approached each one and got the answer, "Just friends," from each of them. That was where mania stood me in good stead - I would not have dared to be so up-front had I not been hypomanic at the time. On the heels of these disappointments, I decided I would try yet another dating site.

As dating sites go, Match.com seemed to be as good as any. But it was there I found my man - or rather, he found me. He clicked "Favorite" after reading my profile - I saw that, and "Favorited" him back.

Our relationship went like this:
Emailing. Meeting for the first time the following week, with my parents as chaperones. Holding hands for the first time at his request. Going out to a Christmas play on our second date and getting asked if we were married. Changing our relationship status on Facebook to "In a relationship."

Next, saying, "I love you," and sharing our first kiss. His writing what I call "a proposal without the punchline" over Facebook chat. His meeting my group of friends from church. Getting engaged on our fifth date - secretly! Picking out our wedding rings together. His asking my dad's permission a week later, as my parents had been traveling. Calling his dad to share our secret news.

Setting boundaries - We opted for semi-courtship in that we had chaperones around whenever we were indoors, but meanwhile took long walks and car drives alone together to talk privately and to kiss. Keeping our engagement secret - we did this because: (1) I had chronic pain and fatigue as well as bipolar disorder, and it had been proven that I don't hold up well under stress. (2) James wanted our wedding to be SOON. (3) My parents didn't have much money. So we opted for a simple wedding with only five guests. I wanted to be able to announce to people that I had gotten married, as opposed to telling them I was engaged and they weren't invited to my wedding. The secret worked well!

Picking out an apartment and furniture together, so that James could move closer to me and my family. Taking premarital counseling. Finding a pastor who would agree to perform our ceremony. Relying on my mom for wedding details.

Getting married, five months after the day we met. I wore my mother's wedding gown, and James wore a suit and tie that I had picked out. My mother, father, grandmother, and the pastor and his wife were our only guests.

Going straight home instead of on a honeymoon, because: (1) I wanted to feel more in control of the situation, and (2) James had just started a new job and I didn't want him to have to take vacation time right off the bat. Announcing our married status via Facebook the next day. The first comment: "What?"

Living happily ever after. And that is the story of our courtship and wedding. May the King of love reign in our home.

"I WILL GREATLY REJOICE IN THE LORD, MY SOUL SHALL BE JOYFUL IN MY GOD; FOR HE HATH CLOTHED ME WITH THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION, HE HATH COVERED ME WITH THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, AS A BRIDEGROOM DECKETH HIMSELF WITH ORNAMENTS, AND AS A BRIDE ADORNETH HERSELF WITH HER JEWELS."

"Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald


I LOVE this story. I didn't realize at first why I liked it so much. It's because the story is about a young lady, Bernice, who has Asperger's traits and doesn't know it. Back in the 1920s, no one had ever heard of Asperger's syndrome anyway. But the story is about how Bernice comes to grips with her own social awkwardness, and how a little social instruction from her popular cousin Marjorie changes her life, her attitude - and her hairstyle.

You can listen to the story here:
Librivox.org - "Bernice Bobs Her Hair"

"He wondered idly whether she was a poor conversationalist because she got no attention, or got no attention because she was a poor conversationalist."

" . . . CHARITY ENVIETH NOT; CHARITY VAUNTETH NOT ITSELF, IS NOT PUFFED UP, DOTH NOT BEHAVE ITSELF UNSEEMLY, SEEKETH NOT HER OWN."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flashback 2014 - Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness


My one-year-old daughter lied to me the other day. If she had waited just a while, we could have called it an April Fool's Day joke - but no, this was definitely a lie. I wonder whether she will escape having Asperger's traits at all, considering how highly we Aspies value the truth!

Here's what happened: My baby was bouncing in her play center, in which she normally has a lot of fun. But this time, her babbling turned whiny, so I asked her, "Do you need a diaper change?" and I did the sign language for change.

Baby girl got a little smirk on her face, and did the sign, "change."

So I lifted her out of the bouncy chair and laid her on the changing pad. Lo and behold, her diaper was as dry as could be!

So I'd been bamboozled by a one-year-old who just wanted to get out of her chair. Hmm . . . I wonder if she'll value honesty more later on, like a true Aspie - though it wouldn't hurt us to have a child who is OFF the spectrum among us, since all four of Baby's caregivers have Asperger's traits.

I remember the first lie I told. I was three, and I was left alone in the bathtub for a few minutes. I was interested in the chain that connected to the plug. I grabbed the chain, pretending that the chain was the reins of a horse that I was riding.

All of a sudden, the plug came out, and the water began to go down the drain! I was shocked and flabbergasted, and couldn't imagine what to do next.

My dad came into the bathroom and asked me, "Did you pull out the plug?"

"No, I didn't," I told him.

I think if I had known to say, "Not on purpose," that's what I would have said - because that's definitely what I meant to say.

But to my dad, I was simply lying, and he punished me.

I have always believed my punishment to be too severe - but that is obviously in the past. And I so seldom told lies after that, that the early lesson in "no lying" did the trick.

"WHEREFORE PUTTING AWAY LYING, SPEAK EVERY MAN TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOUR: FOR WE ARE MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fans of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood


Until I had a baby, I didn't watch children's television (not since I was a child myself, obviously). Now, we watch kids' TV for at least an hour while eating breakfast. The more I watch of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (based off of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood), the more I realize this show is great for Aspie kids!

Each time he doesn't know what to do in a social situation, or when he needs to calm his emotions, Daniel Tiger sings a little slogan taught by his parents or teachers, These little jingles help kids learn how to compromise when friends want to play two different games, or how to get calmer when they are worked up or mad.

These are the kinds of lessons all children need to learn. But since children with Asperger's syndrome don't learn by observation as much as they learn by direct instruction, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is the perfect TV show for Aspie kids.

As the commercial says: "A show about everyone's ups and downs, it will put a smile on your face."

Daniel Tiger Becomes a Boy With Autism’s Guide to Social Life

"REJOICE WITH THEM THAT DO REJOICE, AND WEEP WITH THEM THAT WEEP."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Bible Color Coding


Red - Promise
Orange - Principle
Green - Command
Blue - Christ's Character
Purple - Example
Pink - Prayer

These are the colors I use for underlining favorite verses in my Bible. You uber-organized Aspies might like to try it. It helps me really think about the verse as I select which color to use.

As I was searching for images of Bibles, I picked this one because my middle name is Rose. When I enlarged the thumbnail, I was surprised to see that this Bible was open to John chapter 10 - my favorite passage of Scripture. John 10 is about Jesus being my Good Shepherd. Now I call that a "God-wink."

"THY WORD IS A LAMP UNTO MY FEET, AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: Dear John by Nicholas Sparks


I recently read a book by Nicholas Sparks, entitled Dear John, I enjoyed it pretty well, except for one major problem: it does a disservice to those with Asperger's traits and their families.

First of all, the gentleman in the story who has Asperger's syndrome (the main character John's father) is stereotyped beyond recognition as an Aspie. He fixes the exact same breakfast every day for years, and talks about literally nothing except his one obsession - coin collecting.

John's dad is what we literary people call a flat and static character. By contrast, round characters show us the complexity of their lives, and dynamic characters change and grow throughout the story. Nicholas Sparks is promoting the myth that Aspies cannot and will not ever change. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Secondly, when John's girlfriend Savannah points out to him that she believes his father has Asperger's syndrome, John gets so angry that he injures three grown men! Um, excuse me? She was just trying to help!

To make matters worse, the book then goes on to have Savannah apologize all over herself for even bringing up the name of Asperger. And that is where the cookie crumbles - in the assumption that it is very rude and inappropriate to suggest that a certain friend of yours might possibly have Asperger's syndrome. Come on, now tell me how that is helpful.

Dear John was a good book sandwiching a dangerous lie. Don't be fooled. It's still a good read, and I loved the ending. I'm picky about endings, so that's giving kudos to this future classic written by well-known author Nicholas Sparks.

"IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE: OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY; BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Favorite Words


To my best friend from childhood - an Aspie like myself - the world of her experience is divided into two categories: "scandalous" and "peachy." She has lived out years of her life assigning experiences to these two groups. And because her adjectives are not too common, she has succeeded in getting her point across with minimal annoyance to the listener. Saying things that lack the annoyance factor . . . this is key.

I once went out with a guy who soon proved to be an Aspie. He told me he really didn't have any interests, aside from viewing art galleries, which is what we were doing on our date. To top off the lack of broad interests, he described everything he talked about as "insane" - not a very good descriptor, and obviously not true.

Come on, Aspies - as my off-the-spectrum friend says, "We all need to broaden our horizons." Try coming up with a pair of new buzzwords, and test them out!

"SALT IS GOOD: BUT IF THE SALT HAVE LOST HIS SAVOUR, WHEREWITH SHALL IT BE SEASONED?"

Monday, January 5, 2015

Just Follow the Script


To illustrate the way Aspies follow scripts in social situations - sometimes inappropriately - I will tell the story of how my friend could have badly hurt my feelings if I hadn't been an Aspie myself and understood where he was coming from.

I called up my friend and asked if he and his brother would come over to my house the next day. "I have decided to have my dog put down," I said. "She has just been sick for too long, and she's starving to death. It's the right thing to do. . . . But I'd like to have you guys over to give me something to do to keep my mind off it. I've already cried enough."

"Sure, we'll come over," my friend told me.

When my friends got there the next day, my doggie had gone to doggie heaven, and I didn't really want to talk about it. That was why I'd invited the guys, knowing that if I invited a girl, she would be all sympathetic and weepy, whereas the guys would be practical and dry-eyed. My theory worked. They did not ask any questions about how it went at the veterinarian's office.

However, my friend DID ask an innocent question that could potentially have made me mad at him for good. He asked: "How was your day?"

The first thought that popped into my head when he asked that was, "How do you THINK my day went???" Then, the second thought as I saw his face cloud over, realizing what he had done, was: "He's just following a script. It was thoughtless, but he definitely didn't mean to hurt my feelings."

I breezily responded, "I went to the library and borrowed a few more books." And the crisis was averted.

Next time one of your friends says something that hurts your feelings, check and see if they're following a script. "How was your day?" is a standard question that people ask at dinnertime, and if you're not one for small talk, simple questions like that can pop out at the wrong time occasionally. Live and let live. We've all made bloopers.

"YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND THE WORLD SEETH ME [JESUS] NO MORE; BUT YE [MY DISCIPLES] SEE ME: BECAUSE I LIVE, YE SHALL LIVE ALSO."

Newlyweds - Flashback to 2012


I wrote the following journal entry on September 18, 2012, after I had been married nearly five months. It delves a little into the topic of Aspies married to Aspies, and how that dynamic works . . . .

I'm concerned because I don't want to write my blog anymore, and I have no good reason to quit. So I'm hoping that if I journal some more, I'll get the other pressing thoughts off my mind and have room to plan what I'd like to write for my blog.

My life has changed so much since I started the blog, and maybe thinking about Asperger's traits just doesn't matter so much to me now that I'm a wife and about to become a mother in six months or so. My deficient energy and motivation is a much bigger concern to me at this point. So is my moodiness. These are the "unhappy" aspects of my chronic conditions [fibromylagia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and bipolar disorder]. Dealing with Asperger's syndrome is like playing a game by comparison! That's why I chose to write about Asperger's in the first place - it is something I actually seem to have "fixed" or "overcome."

Asperger's syndrome is not an ongoing stressor in my life. In fact, James's [my husband's] Aspie traits just make him that much more lovable to me, because it means I can understand him in a way few other have been able to do. I identify with him, and I don't judge him. He is the same towards me.

Sometimes I feel that James admires me more than I deserve. One of the best things about my relationship with James is that I can tell him whatever is on my mind - even it I'm ashamed of it - and he really wants to listen! He likes for me to tell him the truth, even the unhappy parts.

Last night, James was nuzzling and kissing me, and I grinned and said smugly, "I'm getting attention!" James brought that up again this morning and said he likes giving me attention. Isn't that splendid? I have long ago discovered that people thrive on attention.  It's sad to think that James went a long time without getting much attention from anyone. . . . I'm so glad to be the one who gets to give him extra special attention for the rest of our lives.

I hope I'll know how to give him enough attention even after our baby arrives. I think giving the baby attention together will count as quality time with each other. There will be those looks we'll share of amusement or astonishment or horror at what the baby does. I'm looking forward to that.

"FOR ALL THE LAW IS FULFILLED IN ONE WORD, EVEN IN THIS; THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF."