Several recent articles and reports about autism that have caught my attention:
“There’s an app for that.” The Marietta Times reports about the local use of technology, specifically Apple’s iPad and some unique applications, to assist students with autism.
Questions every parent of a special needs child asks, and one that my wife and I have pondered: What happens when our son, who has autism, grows up? Will he be able to lead a happy, productive and independent life? One family’s story is linked here.
“The fact that it was five times as much was quite shocking.” That’s one scientist’s reaction to a possible link between low birth weight and autism. Newspaper coverage of that report is here.
And, from California, one study that examines the possibility that autism individuals have more brain cells than non-autistic persons. “For the first time, we have the potential to understand why autism gets started,” said the study’s author.
Finally, this radio conversation remains one of my favorites from 2011. Chuck Colson talks lovingly about his grandson, Max. We featured Chuck’s daughter, Emily Colson, who shared tender and touching moments of raising Max. It is a must-listen to for anyone with an autistic child in their lives.
Despite knowing Jim Daly for 20 years, I had never heard about the encounter, which happened when he was only 10 years old. And when Jim shared that short personal story on today’s Focus on the Family radio program, I was rather shocked. It revealed yet another reason why he is such a passionate advocate for children.
Tune in on your local radio station, or listen here, and you’ll also hear some unique perspectives about the Penn State situation from our guests Bob and Dannah Gresh. They live in State College, PA and also have a son who is a student at Penn State. They’ll tell about the reaction of the local community, and offer insights about the need for every one of us to stand up and do the right thing when we see — or even when we suspect — evil-doing.
Finally, Focus on the Family offers counseling and resources for those who were a victim of childhood sexual abuse. You’ll find those, along with blog entries from Jim, Dannah and others about Penn State, right here and also here.
I’m listening right now to a review copy of Michael W. Smith’s new instrumental album, “Glory.” It is a beautiful mix of reflection, inspiration and calm.
There are a number of tracks that seem to be right from a film score (Forever, Glory Battle). Others stand alone as songs that seem to be borne out of a quiet moment the composer enjoyed with God (Joy Follows Suffering, The Blessing). The final track is one you likely already know, “Agnus Dei,” with a refreshing new take on the melody.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be hearing this a lot in the days ahead. Every morning my wife spends her devotional time curled up, Bible, journal and cup of tea in hand. She also has some meditative instrumental music playing softly in the room. “Glory” is going to be a most welcome addition to her collection – one that is certainly going to be a favorite in our home, enjoyed when we need to refresh, retreat and reflect.
Pre-order “Glory” here.
Today as we honor those who have served in our military, a story, a few links and a suggestion.
First, some feedback from a listener:
“My husband is a soldier; he’s been deployed overseas to the combat zone and will hopefully be returning soon. About a week ago I called Focus to ask some questions related to welcoming him home. A chaplain from your staff called back, offered helpful suggestions and prayed for our family. You also sent me some materials that offer information and encouragement. I can’t tell you how much your kindness means to me. I am very proud of my husband, and it has been wonderful to hear him describe how he has been witnessing to people while deployed. We both know this was where God wanted him. Thank you very much for all the help and prayer that you offer military families. It is only by God’s grace and the prayers of His people that we are able to continue on with joy and thanksgiving.”
We LOVE hearing from someone we’ve helped. And if you donate to Focus on the Family, you played a part in reaching out to this family in a time of real need.
If you are military, or like me have friends who serve, you should know about some of the practical things we offer families. Let me start by pointing to Dr. Gary Rosberg and his wife Barb, who have a great outreach to military families. Here’s a radio conversation with them about common issues of communication, control and coming together for deployed families.
Related, here’s an article with firsthand insights about some of the challenges couples and parents face when returning home.
In this two-day series, Retired Maj. Gen. Doug Carver and retired Capt. Mike Langston discuss their experiences as military chaplains and their ministry to soldiers on the battlefield. They have some dramatic stories and huge hearts for the men and women they worked with as chaplains.
Here’s a radio program about the realities of life with PTSD, featuring an incredible story of survival and the on-going difficulties. We also offer trusted counseling advice to help with some of the basics for those returning from battle – and those awaiting them.
Alright, now for a suggestion (two, actually). Practically, one way to support our troops in the most important aspects of their service – their faith in God – we’ve got an easy and significant opportunity. Give a dramatized audio Bible to a soldier on the field…and offer them God’s Word. Details here. So far, your financial help has helped hundreds of these unique and powerful tools be ‘deployed.”
Finally, a reminder to take a minute to thank a veteran, and to thank God for the privileges we have in this country.
It was loaded on my iPod, and while I had heard it dozens of times – often cranked up loud on my first “real” stereo system back in my college days – I’m not sure I ever really listened to the lyrics. That particular morning, though, as I walked along the road in the middle of Gunnison County, surrounded by beautiful mountains and enjoying some solitude, I listened and heard the meaning of the song. And on this lovely day I thought they were pretty profound.
Back in 1976 the band Boston released their debut album. It was a highly successful project. An ardent follower of the pop and rock music scene, I played this album a lot — probably a hundred times a year. One song, “Peace of Mind,” has been a staple for classic rock stations, and I’ve heard it often over the years.
I’m not sure why I never noticed the point of “Peace of Mind” prior to this particular morning walk. Despite my familiarity with the guitar riffs and even the chorus, for some reason I had never dialed into the meaning of the lyrics. As I enjoyed the sunshine and trees, though, the message came through clearly. And it grabbed me! I found myself completely agreeing with lead singer Brad Delp as he sang with conviction:
Now you’re climbin’ to the top of the company ladder
Hope it doesn’t take too long
Can’tcha see there’ll come a day when it won’t matter
Come a day when you’ll be gone
I understand about indecision
But I don’t care if I get behind
People livin’ in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
Take a look ahead, take a look ahead. Look ahead.
Walking along that rural highway with my iPod cranked up, it suddenly seemed as though Solomon had packaged one of his proverbial sayings or a line from his ancient writings in Ecclesiastes to some good electric guitar and driving drums. There were timeless themes that are as relevant today as they were back in the 70s. Notions of success, competition, climbing the corporate ladder, striving to get ahead…that’s what Delp was singing about. And I realized there was – and is – an application for my life from this song.
Chasing after temporal values, wrestling with decisions about where we invest our time and energies, overlooking internal peace as we go for the gold…these are ultimately empty and meaningless pursuits.
When we look at what really matters, considering matters with a more eternal perspective, it becomes clear that a lot of what we value is temporal in nature. Unfortunately, as well, is that much of what we ignore or at least treat with less enthusiasm and respect is really quite important. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong in working hard and doing well, but misplaced priorities can sidetrack us from the really meaningful aspects of life.
So, I need to stop and take a look ahead. Look down the road and consider what I believe is important. Will it last?
Will my efforts last into eternity?
In some ways, the work I do at Focus will last. It has an eternal message, and many lives around the world have been touched by our radio efforts. This is a great job, and I am deeply grateful for it. However, as I told Dena last night, “I’m not irreplaceable.”
In the ten years I’ve been co-host of the Focus on the Family radio program, I’ve only missed being on a handful of broadcasts. But in my absence…”the show must go on” – and it does. Whether I am here or not, our team produces great programming, and if someone needs to handle my duties while I am away, they get that taken care of. I’m replaceable at work.
But, as I tell folks with some frequency, despite the joys and fulfillment I find here at Focus, my REAL job is right at home as a husband and father. In these roles I am irreplaceable. I’m the guy. There isn’t a substitute. The responsibility to love my wife and kids is solely mine. It isn’t something someone else can step in and do until I get back.
How about you? You work hard, and you might have a great job. But its temporal compared to the eternal investment you are called to make in your family.
Are you taking a look ahead? Taking a “long view” of things, and making sure your priorities are right? It’s not too late…
John and Kelly Rosati have adopted four children through foster care. They’ve traveled an incredible road, full of challenges and joys. They don’t sugarcoat the difficulties, nor do they despair. They are inspiring advocates for orphan care, and you can listen to their story right here.