Life Through Art

My Joyous Feature

Life shall bring art into a whole different perspective. Bringing that pure feeling of paint and making it without an eraser. Finding it more like it’s permanent enough to continue. It probably won’t going to remove from that very place.

There is something more unique when it comes into a life of art. Finding that wider feeling to be displayed in a place it will be discovered. Balancing out that recognition to learn more about that life of art. Making it into a work of a masterpiece. That masterpiece shall open that moment up into that life’s purpose. It will also be worth of a dream for an artistic manifestation.

A certain belief of art can be formed into a written format. It can’t be denied into that pure moment of attention. Making it into a story or an essay. Having it made in a handwritten format.

Seeing that vision…

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Missionary Thought for the Week of September 30, 2019: The Autistic Works of Mercy By Aimee O’Connell

Originally posted here: https://www.mission-of-saint-thorlak.com/autistic-works-of-mercy.html

Many are familiar with the Christian practices known as “The Works of Mercy.” There are two groups of such acts, divided into corporal (actions producing physical benefit to others) and spiritual (actions producing or demonstrating moral benefit to others). The traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy are drawn from Scripture and have been taught since the earliest centuries of Christianity.

“Mercy” itself is an interesting choice of wording. Why aren’t these called “acts of kindness,” for instance? Kindness is implied in mercy, yes, but these go beyond being nice; they risk being nice when it is not necessary by giving the benefit of the doubt. They extend kindness unearned… maybe even undeserved. Rather than pausing to gauge worthiness or eligibility, mercy acts now, out of sheer, foolish love. For example: The first corporal work of mercy urges us to “feed the hungry.” Common decency does not let anyone go hungry if we can help it. Common courtesy offers someone food when it’s mealtime. But are we obligated to offer someone food when we were not expecting to, or when they will make no effort to contribute anything in return? Technically, no. “Mercy” is one up from “kindness,” going ahead even when there are acceptable reasons not to.

When it comes to autism, there is a good-sized gap between people’s expectations and our shortfall in meeting them. Some of this is just the way it works out. Some has to do with the invisibility of our limitations. Much depends on pre-existing notions, information and attitudes, along with the dynamics of each situation and how far people are willing to extend themselves past what they originally thought was “right.”

Autism was not written about in Biblical times, of course. But it is both discussed and better understood today, and as such, there are ways in which mercy can be both demonstrated and shown through autistic lenses. These imperatives, these Autistic Works of Mercy, can be studied in scriptural context just as well. They are ways of extending mercy to autistic people, and they can be merciful acts performed by autistic people. These acts apply to anyone, from any walk of life, having any neurotype. Thus, these are acts of mercy inspired by autism, but ultimately, applicable to all.

THE AUTISTIC WORKS OF MERCY

Believe the unseen

Autism is a largely interior, invisible state of being, even when our traits are noticeable. If someone speaks of their autism, expressing surprise might be a natural response – but a merciful response will assure that we believe what is said. “The unseen” refers to the interior workings of a person’s mind: their intentions, their emotions, their imagination, their wishes and their yearnings. An autistic person is pondering and processing an enormous amount of information at any given moment, and so, their facial expression, communication or outward behavior may look like they are in serious thought (because, they are). Facial expressions will not convey even a fraction of what is actively going on within the heart and mind. It is an act of mercy to acknowledge that our inner world is real, alive and thriving – even when others can’t see it or know what is happening there. Avoid being quick to criticize those whose outward actions are hard to interpret. Raise our expectations, and allow others show us what we do not yet realize.

Honor the boundary

This would be much easier if people made boundaries clear from the beginning (in which case, we’d simply honor them, even when we had other ideas). Many times, however, people do not stop and think about their limits, and few people state them explicitly upfront. There is a very simple workaround for this, and that is: ASK FIRST. Then, honor. By asking, we not only extend courtesy to a person’s boundaries, but we might also help them know where their limits are… and, we offer the gift of mutual respect as we do.

Invite the reluctant

This is crucially needed among the autistic community. On any given day, our social energy gets used up quickly by things that are not necessarily fun or fulfilling, yet we have the same needs for connection and enjoyment as everyone else. It takes an enormous amount of resolve, energy and skill to put ourselves in situations most people take for granted. There are some days we just can’t. There are others where we are willing to push. Then, there are days when we are ready and able. We can’t often tell far in advance which kind of day we’ll have until we are there. We also may not know how to join in an existing group or how to express interest in an activity that is unfamiliar. Being invited is a huge, huge gift – even when we do not accept that invitation. Why? Because it reminds us that we matter, that we are valuable, and it gives us something to work toward. (Extending to us the freedom to accept or decline an invitation is a way of honoring our boundaries, by the way!) Even if we have said “no” ten out of ten times, please, invite us again. Our needs may feel intimidating, but please, let us decide if it’s too much or just right. The willingness to include us is a true gift.

Recognize the struggle

This is an opportunity to remember that autism is not devastating, but it can be very exhausting and discouraging. Ordinary tasks can feel like uphill battles. Having to explain our needs (sometimes, not realizing them ourselves) and keep up at the pace of everyone else takes a toll quickly on our health and functioning. When we reach a point of saying we need a break or that we are done for today, we mean it. We are not trying to cut corners; in fact, it can be quite humbling to admit we can’t go any further right now… and, a tremendous gift to be able to say that in a place where we will receive support and encouragement for when we start up again.

Quiet the heckler

This is the only work of mercy here whose outcome is out of our control. If we think of ourselves at a performance where an audience member begins disrupting those on stage, we are largely unable to prevent their outburst. Even security cannot guarantee silence from hecklers. What we can do, however, is express our disapproval of their behavior and ask them to refrain from further disruptions. Or, if that heckling happens to be in our own voice, we can stop being disorderly… or hold off saying anything in the first place.

If we paid a great deal of money for tickets to see a performer who is not living up to our expectations, we may be theoretically justified in complaining. But are we ever actually justified in disrupting someone who has the right to be doing what they are doing, even if they are doing it poorly? What about those genuinely giving all that we have, even when it is not enough for those around us?

There is a great difference between feedback and heckling. People are entitled to let us know when we need to do something differently or better in line with expectations. But heckling is a form of shaming, and it is demoralizing to endure aggressive and rude comments when we are running short, whether our performance is on a paid stage or in the ordinary company of our peers. Chances are, we know we are failing. Verbal shaming does nothing but cultivate resentment, isolation and hostility. Let our voices remain merciful when the need for feedback arises.

Offer interpersonal rest

Autism and spoon theory have much in common. Autistics begin with a limited amount of interpersonal energy each day, and each task uses our available units until our energy is gone and we need to recharge. Some days we start out with a full battery. Others, we have not fully recharged before jumping in. Some tasks require only a little energy; others deplete our supply after only a few minutes. Freedom to rest allows us to recharge and function more fully when we return. Our need to rest from interpersonal activities is very real, and offering this gift shows a true interest in our wellness – which we do not often encounter, especially when our need to stay home or sit quietly is seen as something wrong or an affront to those who are more inclined to interact. Offering us rest is a true sign of friendship.

Embrace the irregular

Every one of us has a set of patterns we know and follow. We have our own rules, preferences and sense of what is good. We also carry a rough sketch of our expectations for what will happen and what the people around us will do. Life does not always cooperate with our plans, however; nor do those with whom we live and work and encounter in our daily doings. Some people do things in completely different ways than we expect. We can become outraged or impatient when things seem too different. Sometimes, irregularities are objectively wrong for the situation. Most times, they are just… different. For those times when different is just different, letting it go can cultivate peace instead of strife… and, can help us feel accepted and valuable, even when we know we are different.

One last word for those of us on the autism spectrum:

Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves can be hard to comprehend. Many days, autistics feel like we are asked to conform to other people’s expectations, which puts our neighbors BEFORE ourselves. We have difficulty finding that balance between meeting our own needs and meeting the needs (or, expectations) of others. Perhaps these works of mercy can be a beginning, for those of us who are autistic, to understand how God desires us to be treated. Perhaps we can learn to love better by extending these acts, first, to ourselves, and letting that be the example for how to love our neighbor.
– Aimée O’Connell, T.O.Carm.

Today’s Word with Joel & Victoria Osteen Ministries

Today’s Scripture
“But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day…”
(Proverbs 4:18, AMPC)
An Exceptional Future
We all face challenges. We all have obstacles to overcome. But if we can keep the right perspective, it will help us stay in faith so that we can move forward into victory. You may feel right now as though the challenges you face are too big or too overwhelming. One thing I’ve learned is that average people have average problems. Ordinary people have ordinary challenges. But remember, you’re not average. You’re not ordinary. You are extraordinary. God breathed His life into you. You are exceptional, and exceptional people face exceptional difficulties.

But the good news is that we serve an exceptional God! When you have an extraordinary problem, instead of being discouraged, be encouraged, knowing that you’re an extraordinary person, and you have an extraordinary future. Your path is shining brighter and brighter because of your extraordinary God! Be encouraged today because your life is on an extraordinary path. Keep standing in faith, keep declaring victory, keep declaring the promises of God over your life because you have an exceptional future!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, today I lift my eyes to You. I know that You are the One who helps me and has given me an extraordinary future. I choose to stand in faith today knowing that You have a wonderful plan in store for me in Jesus’ name! Amen”

The Reward for Well-Doing By Bobby Schuller

Originally posted here: https://hourofpower.org/the-reward-for-well-doing/

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

– Galatians 6:9

Did you know it may take a long time to see the seeds of goodness that you have planted in the world reap a harvest? In fact, sometimes you won’t have the joy of experiencing the fruit of your faithfulness until you get to Heaven. Nevertheless, I urge you to not grow weary in well-doing, but keep pressing on and letting the Holy Spirit empower you.

I love being a dad. There’s nothing better in this world than seeing my kids smile and watching them learn and grow. However, there’s also a price to be paid for being a parent. Before we had our own family, I used to look at people who had kids and hear them talk about how happy they were, but all the while I would be thinking to myself, They don’t look happy. They look tired and poor and like they never have a moment free. At the same time, I watched every single one of them grow in character; they were more patient, more kind, and more loving, even those who had started out really rough around the edges. Indeed, parenting is a sacrifice, but there’s something extremely rewarding about giving yourself away for the sake of your children. Being called to invest in another human being tirelessly and without thanks builds the human spirit and strengthens the soul unlike anything else.

Friend, as a Christian, pouring into the lives of others without earthly reward is one of the most profound and deeply spiritual experiences you can have. Whether it’s your children, grandchildren, spouse, friends, or students, relinquishing your own desires for the sake of another will enrich your soul, even when you don’t perceive a benefit or payoff. If you’ve been walking the road of faithfulness for a long time and feel close to giving up, my heart’s cry for you is to keep going — keep giving, keep loving, keep praying, keep sacrificing, and keep trusting the Lord to finish the good work He started, both in you and in those you care for!

Prayer
I pray for strength of character, Jesus, to not give up on the people you have called me to invest in.

Reflection
Is there something or someone in your life that you are tempted to give up on? If so, lift that situation up to Jesus right now.

Monday 26th Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 9.46-50

An argument arose among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Memorial
Saint Jerome

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

The Gift Is Not Getting Off the Hook By Bobby Schuller

Originally posted here: https://hourofpower.org/the-gift-is-not-getting-off-the-hook/

“You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

– Exodus 4:15-17

While we learned yesterday that Moses did not want to carry out the call to lead the Isrealites out of Egypt because he felt inadequate, I believe the Lord’s greatest gift to him was not letting him off the hook.

After God became angry with Moses’ excuses, He showed mercy by telling him that He would send his brother Aaron along to help shoulder the burden. Together, they would lead the people, and Aaron would do the talking. I don’t know about you, but I’m really thankful that the Lord was not convinced to revoke His call on Moses’ life just because he didn’t want to go. You see, as much as Moses thought he knew what he wanted, God showed mercy to him in empowering him to move forward toward his destiny. If the Almighty had told him to go back to Midian and raise his family, what would have become of history as we know it? And what would have happened to him? Had I been in Moses’ shoes, I probably would have spent the rest of my life wondering what I missed; thinking about that burning bush and imagining the mysteries it might have held.

Friend, it was the Lord’s mercy that He didn’t let Moses off the hook, and the same is true for you. Don’t live the rest of your life in regret simply because you are afraid to make a move. Being called to do great things is a gift, and it’s part of the cost of discipleship. The more of Jesus you take on, the more of yourself is required, but the reward will always be greater than the risk! Rest in that truth and step fully into your calling.

Prayer
Thank you, Jesus, for not letting me off the hook when difficult things are required of me. I want to see your great plan unfold in my life.

Reflection
When in your life did God not let you off the hook?

Live for Something Greater Than Yourself By Bobby Schuller

Originally posted here: https://hourofpower.org/live-for-something-greater-than-yourself/

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

– Philippians 2:3,4

Years ago, I had a really good friend who was an atheist and an alcoholic. I used to talk to him about the Lord all the time and tell him that Jesus really could help him with his addiction. Since he didn’t seem interested in making changes based on mere conversation, I decided to invite him to take part in bettering the lives of other people. The church I was pastoring at the time used to help at a homeless shelter every Saturday morning by cooking pancakes for the families who lived there. I asked my friend to head up this ministry, and much to my surprise and delight, he accepted the challenge! As hard as it was for him to do, he put together a team of volunteers and got up at 5:30 a.m. every Saturday to serve breakfast to the homeless. As he began to devote his time and energy to something greater than his own pleasure, I watched his life transform. His heart opened up to the things of God, He received Jesus as the Lord of His life, and a year and a half later, I baptized him!

Friend, choosing to live a life of service and sacrifice has the power to release you from the devil’s strongholds. Like my friend who was set free from alcoholism and unbelief, devoting your energy to something greater than yourself can break the chains by which you have long been bound. Nothing can stand against the Lord’s Spirit working in and through a surrendered follower of Jesus, so resolve to let go of what is familiar and embrace the responsibilities and challenges you were made for. In a life completely relinquished to His call, there is fullness of joy!

Prayer
I want to give my life to something greater than myself, Jesus, because I know that you will replace my surrender with your matchless power.

Reflection
What greater thing is God calling you to? What or who is holding you back?