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Rebecca Lisa

Things that I like & think & spend my time on…

As I have loved you, so you must love one another…

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 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:34-35

I’ve had the concept of this painting in the back of my mind for a while. The verse came to me recently, and got me contemplating exactly how he loved us.

He died for us of course, that’s fundamental to our faith. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) We think about the physical pain, the beating and tearing of his skin, the blood loss, and the agony of trying to breath while nailed to the cross. And that gives us a picture of an intense and devoted love. How often do we think about the emotional pain he endured at human hands while physically suffering to save us? He was betrayed, and he responded with love. He was abandoned by his closest friends in his darkest hour, and he persevered in loving them, and us, alone. He was mocked, insulted, assaulted, wrongly condemned, handed over to a bloodthirsty mob to be murdered… And he just kept loving them. He could have stopped it at any time and he just kept walking in love to his death on the cross.

And that’s how we’re supposed to love each other…

About My Son’s Autism

When my son was born I thought I had a healthy baby boy. And I thought that for two years. We started noticing he wasn’t learning to talk like our friends’ kids were. His Sunday school teacher said something to us about it and we got him into speech therapy. We had a lot of family members telling us he was fine, that some kids learn when they’re three or four and not to worry. His speech therapist asked us if we wanted him referred for an autism assessment. She wasn’t suggesting he had it, she just said we could check if we wanted to. I thought it was a good idea so I could finally stop worrying about him.

He had his assessment when he was three and a half. There were two psychologists and a pediatrician. We thought he was doing okay. He was obviously behind where they thought he should be. I thought that was because I was a young mom and I didn’t know what I was doing. They didn’t give us the results that day.

We weren’t supposed to have him with us when we went back. We took him to our friend’s house and we went to our meeting. I was expecting to hear them say he didn’t have autism. We sat at this big table in a boardroom with all these strangers and they told us our son fit the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. I think I went numb. My husband started crying. They kept talking. They said he was too young to tell us how severe it was. He might never learn more than a few words. He might never learn to use the bathroom independently. He may never move out. We were given a pile of papers to take home. They said he had government money, but it was up to us to figure out how to spend it. We left. We got in the car and I started crying. I remember the world literally looked darker than it used to. Josiah wanted to get coffee before we went back to the babysitter. I didn’t want to but I went. I sat in McDonald’s and stared at my coffee cup with tears rolling down my face. Some people were looking at me and I didn’t care. I don’t think I spoke.

I barely remember picking him up from my friend’s. I didn’t want to see her when I had news like that. We went home and I just cried. We called our family members. I made a few calls myself, and I let Josiah make some of the calls I should have made because I just couldn’t. Some people cried when we told them. Some people didn’t understand why we were crying. Someone said, “You’re acting like he died. It’s just autism.” Except it felt like death. It felt like we’d lost our son. We’d thought we had a healthy little boy who was going to have a childhood and do kid stuff and grow up and move out and have his own life. All of that was gone and replaced by the cruel reality that the rest of our lives could be spent dealing with the worst parts of autism. I was told I would have to fight for him his whole life.

I couldn’t deal with it. I gave myself a week to cry, and sleep, and feel the loss of my son. Then I picked myself up and read through the papers and we figured out his funding and found therapists for him and started dealing.

I went with him to his speech therapy once a week, and dropped him off at his behavioral therapy five days a week. I stayed with him sometimes. They were wonderful and encouraging and they promised me it would get better. But it still hurt so much. For a long time when I looked at my son all I saw was autism. When he flapped his hands or shrieked or stared at the lights instead of people. We stopped taking him to public play areas, like at McDonald’s. It hurt too much to see him around other children. His behavior was so starkly different.

His therapists were right, of course. It’s gotten so much better. He’s communicating really well and he’s been taking care of himself independently and he’s even learning how to have friends. It’s far more than we were told to hope for at that first meeting. It’s still hard though. He has a full time EA at school and we have to have special meetings to talk about his progress. It’s still hard seeing him with other children his age and noticing how different they are. We never let him play outside unsupervised, and we really only trust my dad to babysit him. He’s just so unpredictable and it’s so hard trying to explain to people what to watch for. For example, a few weeks ago he had a welt on his head because he thought he could fly like Superman and just jumped off the playground before his EA could react. She’d been working with him every day for a couple months. As his mom, at this point, I know him so well I usually know what he’s going to do before he does it. That’s not something I could teach someone else.

I wrote this blog because this topic comes up a lot with people. I always thought I would write it down one day… It doesn’t feel finished. There are a million more things I could say. I guess this is all I needed to say today.

Spiritual Death

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My newest painting. It took about 5 weeks, start to finish (because I mainly paint in the evenings when my son is in bed and I’m not too tired to be creative.)

It’s about spiritual death. It’s based on a dream I had that was sort of creepy, but it reminded me of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37.

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

The thing that strikes me about this passage is God isn’t dwelling on the fact that they’re dead. He’s much more interested in giving them new life.

In my dream I thought I was at church, but all I saw was a heap of skulls and all the jaw bones were missing. Some of the skulls were deformed and one was raised up on a stick with a mark on it’s cheek painted with blood. That’s why the skull in my painting is uneven (look at the eye sockets and cheek bones.) And it’s where the red X came from. The words at the top are from T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men. It’s an old favourite of mine and those verses seemed fitting. The words at the bottom are from the passage in Ezekiel.

It looks like a very dark painting, and it is, but it’s also hopeful. In the old testament God sometimes uses blood to mark those He’s going to spare. I see my painting as a metaphor for the spiritual death often found in modern churches. But God isn’t content to leave it that way and is always offering to bring new life. Even when all that is left are dry bones.

Only Ever

I smiled

and you called me shallow,

I frowned

and you thought me mad.

What you didn’t know

was all along

I was only ever sad.

Valerie

Valerie is the dragon in my old nightmare.

Cold blue eyes wreathed in the flame of her red hair.

Gold and jewels adorned her ears, neck, wrists, fingers.

She wore it like a shield,

A shimmering distraction from the blackness of her heart.

 

She did not love—could not love—save for herself, first and only.

 

Her rage was the fire bursting from the hell of her own soul.

She poured it freely, gladly, relishing the heat of the flames.

She’d watch her world burn with delight,

Fall into the arms of would-be heroes and feign kindness to build it up again,

Ready for fresh flames.

 

She was a dream weaver, and a spinner of nightmares.

She’d pull the young heart in with promises of perfect joy,

Then paint pictures in her mind of the monsters that would steal,

Beat, rape, murder, leave as garbage wasting on the cold wet earth.

And then she’d laugh when she saw the fear she created.

 

Her voice was cold.

A sickening sing-song.

Merry, and so reasonable.

A storm that shook the walls and shattered the mind.

So calm, so reasonable.

 

She hated everyone.

Too much to hold a job;

Too much to live anywhere long.

Until she married money

And a house on some land,

By conquering the feeble will

Of what remained of a man.

 

She hoarded everything and anything,

And displayed it so perfectly in every inch of her home,

Glittering and glistening and filling the yawning void.

Houses were built for things,

Not people.

 

She wanted to be worshiped.

She settled for hatred too.

She’d stab you just to hear you scream.

But don’t get blood on the carpet;

What’s the matter with you?

 

She was the most beautiful, smartest, sexiest, superior to everyone on earth—so she said.

 

A tiger does not bother about the opinion of sheep.

She loved to say it.

Told it to her children.

They were gods among mortals.

Unless they walked away from her.

Then they were detestable, insane, idiots.

 

Kindness is weakness. Cruelty is fun. Intelligence is the only virtue.

Why would you befriend an idiot?

 

She said, “Don’t drink.”

Then,

“Here’s some booze.”

“Do you want some brandy before school?”

“Be safe.”

“Have some matches, a new lighter, a new knife.”

“Let your little brother drown if he wants to!”

 

She said, “You’re a narcissist. Lock yourself up. Stop making a display of yourself. You’re disgusting. Your abuser was the victim, not you. You’re evil, worthless, insane.”

 

Honor your father and mother.

I don’t know how.

Forgive.

I can’t forget.

Move on.

I have to let the poison out…

Lost

We got lost on the bus today, sort of…

A few weeks ago my husband was out of town and I had a little boy to entertain who was asking questions about buses, and I realized he hadn’t been on one since he was a baby. So I planned to take him on a bus adventure to entertain him and satisfy his curiosity (and maybe help overcome his fear of firetrucks.) But it didn’t work out until today. I looked up all the nearby bus routes and tried to pick a short one. After finding our bus in a part of town we weren’t expecting we learned that on weekends the #15 turns into a #16 before turning back into #15 and taking us back home… So we were on the bus for two hours instead of 30 minutes. Oh well. He did great anyway, and the bus driver let him practice pulling the cord when we were waiting at a stop (thumbs up to the kid friendly bus driver, and also the guy who gave up his seat so we could all sit together:) )

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Read This Book! A Severe Mercy (And Some Thoughts On God)

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I read this book for one of my classes in college. I hated it at first. It was so sappy and romantic and really not my thing at all. But then he started talking about God, and it got interesting. Then his wife died and it was heart-wrenching. And as he wrote about grieving her he also talked about the idea of a severe mercy.

“It was death—Davy’s death—that was the severe mercy. There is no doubt at all that Lewis is saying precisely that. That death, so full of suffering for us both, suffering that still overwhelmed my life, was yet a severe mercy. A mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love.”

He explains his realization that he was jealous of God. His love for his wife was greater than his love for God, but her love for God had grown greater than her love for him. Lewis explained to him that an early death preserved their love for each other, and released him from his jealousy in order to make right his relationship with God.

C.S. Lewis believes that natural love has to die, one way or another. In another book he explains that the natural loves, when worshiped before God, become a kind of evil. For example, mothers who love their children to the point of not allowing them to grow up, because they will not be without them. In A Severe Mercy he states, “I sometimes wonder whether bereavement is not, at bottom, the easiest and least perilous of the ways in which men lose the happiness of youthful love. For I believe it must always be lost in some way: every merely natural love has to be crucified before it can achieve resurrection and the happy old couples have come through a difficult death and re-birth. But far more have missed the re-birth.”

The concept of a severe mercy is that God loves us so much he will put us through any kind of pain necessary to achieve our best good. In this story that mercy was death, in my childhood it was divorce. Twice.

I know that sounds horrible. I have so many scars and so much pain in my heart from those wounds, but I can see now how God was working through it all to shape me. Each divorce drastically changed the course of my life and brought me to God. Through that turmoil I met the people who taught me some of my deepest values. I learned important lessons about what kind of person I want to be. I learned empathy and compassion and not to compare pain. He brought me to Bible camp, where I finally found Him, and learned so much about him from so many people. My experiences at camp led me to Bible college, where I met my husband. He has helped me so much. And God gave us our son. Being his mom has saved my life. So many days the only reason I kept going, kept fighting, was for him. His needs–his autism and his peanut allergy (of all things)–brought us to our church, where God keeps speaking to me, healing me, and shaping me. God showed me this today—the severe mercies in my own life—and it actually helped to finally understand my seemingly needless pain as a part of His plan for my best good. It wasn’t what I wanted. He knew what I needed. He could have left me alone with my family, instead He chose to break me and make me His. A severe mercy.

Cabled Baby Hat – Pattern

I made this hat for my friend’s baby, because she’s super adorable and babies need cute hats…

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And the pattern:

For a 16″ circumference, Cast on 120

gauge: 20sts = 3″

I don’t remember my needle size, but it’s a worsted weight yarn and I tend to use smaller needles than recommended…

do a k2p2 ribbing for 3″ to make the brim

repeat the first section until you’ve got most of the head knit (I don’t remember how long, sorry.)

follow the second section to decrease.

Pull yarn through remaining sts & make a large pom pom to attach.

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It’s a little big on her (she’s about 6 months in the photo) but it looks cute like that anyway, and she can grow into it.

It’s been about three months since I finished it, and my notes are lacking a couple details so it’s not my most informative pattern unfortunately…

P.S. – Photography credit goes to her mom! I was so excited to give it to her I forgot about taking pictures!

Photography Mittens – Pattern

I haven’t been spending as much time knitting lately, but I was motivated to make these after my snowshoeing photography trip with my dad. Because it was really cold and I couldn’t work my camera with my mitts on… I made up my own pattern, but the idea is something I saw online a few years ago.

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I have plenty of that green wool, I just made them different colours for fun.

 

PATTERN:

3.25mm double pointed needles

worsted weight yarn (wool is better)

 

Cast on 40sts

knit a cuff (k2, p2) 1-2 inches

knit 1 round

Increase 1per 4 (48 sts)

knit 1 round

increase 8 evenly (56sts)

knit 1 round and place thumb markers (3 sts each end)

Start thumb shaping – increase 1 stitch per thumb section every other round until there are 18 thumb stitches

slip thumb sts to holders

knit 1.5 inches

Cast off 8 to make hole for index finger

next round cast on 8 to cover hole

knit in round 2.25 inches

decrease every 4th

knit a round

decrease every 3rd

knit a round

decrease every 2nd

knit a round

k2tog around

pull yard through remaining sts.

slip thumb sts to needles

pick up additional 5 to fill gap

over 3 needles, 7,9,7sts

knit in round until 1/4 inch is left to finish thumb

decrease at end of each needle

knit 1 round

k1, k2tog 1 round

k2tog 1 round

pull yarn through

turn mitten inside out

pick up 10 sts above index hole

knit straight patch to cover hole

secure sides leaving bottom open

weave in ends.

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