I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God
so that you may know that you have eternal life. [1 John 5:13]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Interview with Karen Mayer Cunningham - Author of DEFYING AUTISM

Leave a comment to be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Karen Mayer Cunningham's book!


You have a real mix of talents in addition to being an author. Will you please tell us about yourself?

I am a stand up comic and speaker with a passion to impart truth and hope to people and to remind them that God is still purposed to have them move into their destiny.

Your new book, Defying Autism, is about your son, James. Will you tell us a little about him?

James is my first born, the apple of my eye. He was born right on time, perfect in every way. He progressed and hit all of the appropriate markers ahead of time. He was one of those vey easy babies that you could pass to anyone and he was still a happy baby. He was pointing and babbling at a year, and into everything!

He sounds adorable! At what point, did you start to notice that something was wrong?

We took James in for his 18-month check up and shots, after which his behavior took a dramatic, turn for the worse. When we brought him home, he would run to the same spot in the hall and stand with his back to the wall and slam his head backwards into the sheetrock. To say this was upsetting was an understatement, but then I thought maybe this is the dreaded terrible twos, or little boys are rough. So we would redirect him and send him on his way. The redirecting stopped working; it was though he could not stop behaving this way. He had many other strange habits, obsessive behaviors that began to appear. He would eat the little pieces of sheetrock, where he had actually put a hole in the sheetrock, he pulled the wallpaper off and ate it, he pulled up the corners of the carpet and ate the foam underneath it, he ate the rubber lining out of our car doors, he watched videos for hours standing in front of the TV.

What did you do? Who did you go to for help?

First we went to other parents of children. I owned a salon so I had the free advice every hour from women who had “already been through it”. I wanted to believe as they all said, that this is a phase, this is the two’s, little boys do strange things. We then went to professionals, pediatricians, speech therapists, ENT specialist, pediatric specialist, state agencies, MHMR and of course our church for lots and lots of prayer.

What can you tell us about autism?

Autism is a severely handicapping disorder that begins at birth or with in the first two and half years of life. For many years autism occurred in 5 out of 10,000 births, however since the early 1990’s the rate is now calculated at 1 in 150 births. Most autistic children are perfectly normal in appearance, but spend their time in disturbing behaviors, which are marked differently from those of normal children. They may stare into space for hours, throw uncontrollable tantrums, show no interest in people including their parents, and pursue strange repetitive activities with no apparent purpose. They have been described as living in a world of their own. Some autistic children have remarkable giftings in certain areas such as music or mathematics, and all need help.

What was your greatest fear?

My greatest fear was losing my child at five or ten years, or as an adult, to an institution. I would watch the movie Rain Main over and over again and assume that would be the best outcome for my son.

What was a typical day like for you and your family?

A typical day for us would be James up before we woke with a video in and grunting for what he wanted. He would only eat a few foods, several times a day he would throw up to let you know he didn’t want or like something.

Crying, tantrums and fits filled the day from sun up to bedtime. His fits had no beginning and sometimes it felt as if there would be no end. In the spring of 2000, when he was almost 6, he was still in a diaper, on a bottle and only spoke 20 words.

Did school help James?

School did help James; he did much better with a strict structured environment. The opposite of that however, is that it is hard to duplicate that environment at home with a family. School helped James academically, but not emotionally or socially.

Did church help James, or you?

Unfortunately, church did not help James at all. My husband and I were music ministers and would fill-in at churches that were looking for a full time staff person. This meant a lot of changes every few months – new locations, new staff, and new strange glares inferring what a bad mother I must be for my baby boy to behave in such a way. Church turned into a place I dreaded and had been such a place of family and belonging before.

What was the turning point for you in this journey?

Having heard the weekly cry of my heart for help for my child, one of my clients recommended a ministry team, a deliverance team, Gospel Revelation Ministries. I didn’t know what deliverance was, but I had no doubt I needed some. I went through personal deliverance and then followed with James in the spring of 2000. I was terrified but they said that God said he was going to be healed, so I stood with their faith. As we brought James into to the room for deliverance, he began to thrash and point to the door to leave, he was ready to go. The team prayed and laid hands on him. They said that the first demonic curse would have to go in Jesus’ name to the dry places. With that, my son reached his hand out and screamed, “come back, come back, come back, come back!!!” He was calling out for the demons that were leaving him. That was the turning point!

So, what was next?

The first thing I did was the most difficult. I changed my mind.

I changed what I believed that God could –and would – do if petitioned. I changed what I thought about the stories in the Bible. I changed my belief in what is available to us, TODAY, by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

When I began to be open to the truth of the scriptures, and not just what someone else said I should believe, or someone else’s interpretation of the scriptures for me, then…the Word of God began to truly be a light unto my path.

That was several years ago. How is James today?

James is wonderful! He is 15 years old going in to the 9th grade. He’s six foot tall and an amazing athlete. God’s promise is that he will restore our minds daily and James has caught up with remarkable speed. He is still about 2 ½ years behind academically, and in three resource classes, but is making up lost ground daily. He is completely healed from the oppression of autism.

What do the professionals say?

Doctors say it is something, maybe higher than what they have in the medical field. It is nothing short of a miracle!

What can families hope for who have children with autism?

Families can believe and stand for their loved one’s healing. Jesus is in the miracle working business. He healed James.

James’ story could be anyone’s story. I was not the “good” Christian, but I stood, no matter what, believing for my child’s healing. Your healing may be through diet, environmental changes, behavioral changes, or even the way James was healed. However it comes, do not waver from the promises of God. Exodus 15 says, “I am the Lord your God who heals all of your diseases.” He is Jehovah Rapha, our God who heals. If it is in His name, it is in His will!
Karen, where can our readers get a copy of your book, or find out how to have you come and speak for their group or organization?

They can find out more about my book and speaking information on my website at KarenMayer.org. I would love to hear from any of you who are dealing with autism in your family or among your friends. I hope you are encouraged by our story – that there is hope, healing, and freedom for your situation.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Righteous One

1 John 2:1-2,7-8,12-17

My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.

When I did a word search at bibleverses.com on “righteous” you can imagine how many hits I got! Psalms and Proverbs alone produced about 10 screens full of bible verses containing the word. In Jeremiah, where I spent a lot of time this morning, God reveals to Jeremiah that He will send His Righteous One to save Israel. I looked up righteous in the dictionary: adj. acting in a just, upright manner; doing what is right; virtuous. Webster’s says to see “right” and “wise” for a more detailed explanation.

Right and wise. Old commandment/new commandment. John is telling his audience that “God’s commandment” has been the same since creation – since Adam and Eve! It is very old, indeed! Yet it becomes new by Christ’s sacrifice. It holds us to a higher level of righteousness. It demands a more rigorous evaluation of our lives, and our actions. It requires a deeper, more committed faith. I think our human nature is to want to be right. But we know that God desires wisdom.

John’s use of “little children,” “young men,” and “fathers” probably refers to readers at various stages in their faith lives. He is telling us that no matter if we were “saved” yesterday or if we have always believed, salvation is ours. But we cannot love this world. We cannot desire its laws and its habits; its standards of right and wrong; its ways and its truth. We are to walk as Christ did—in the truth and in the light of God’s wisdom. John tells us, ”the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.”

Our wants and needs will be met by God. Our lives in this world are but a moment in time! So we must not delay. And we must not falter. Begin anew. Choose to be wise over being right, “because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”

I hope you spend your day walking in the light of God’s wisdom and rejoicing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

This devotion was originally posted at Worship for the Weekday on April 23, 2004.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writing Challenges and Goals Revisited

Yesterday was an odd kind of day! I was scheduled to deliver the message at an assisted living/retirement community and had planned to act out a "fictitious" woman from the bible who had witnessed the last supper. Oops! Nobody told me they changed the time from 11:00 to 1:45! So much for that, though I learned some interesting things as I researched Passover and read all four accounts of that night in the New Testament.

On the way home from not delivering the message at 11:00 I remembered that one of my friends was scheduled to present at the Richmond Christians Who Write Meeting. Though I had planned not to go so I could spend time with my husband and do some things around the house, I decided to attend the first part of the meeting so I could hear her presentation. God was all over my day! My friend delivered a powerful message about obstacles writers face (I think it ended up being 15) and how to overcome them. It was amazing to hear the scripture she relied upon to overcome each one in her own life!

I had just this past week given myself (yet another!) kick in the pants to get back on track with writing as God desires. I've honestly been spending too much time "diddling" and not enough doing intentional, serious writing. The meeting yesterday gave me the additional push I needed!

Yesterday I submitted 2 poems to one contest and a short story to another contest. I haven't been diligent about submitting for several months and it felt good to get back on track.

I'm reposting my goals and scripture focus that I established and shared in January. The women at Christian Women Take Root sponsored this exercise and I'm glad to have it as a reference. I had this page posted over my computer at some point. Don't know where it is now. . . hmmm . . . The scripture focus is John 16:33 from the Amplified Bible.

My action goals are Pray More, Write More, Be Gentler With Myself, Spend More Time with God. The white blocks adjacent to each 1/4 of the circle contain specific activities that will assist me in accomplishing the goals. (If you would like to do one for yourself, I used Powerpoint to make a "presentation."

Here are some links to previous posts where I offered encouragement for writers. Hope these are timely for you--and helpful.



One of the things that stands out from my friend's presentation yesterday was her statement that we are ordained by God to write. It's not about us--it's about the Word of God through us. That alone is reason to write! I don't want to get to heaven and have God ask me why I didn't write more of what He told me to write!

My friend also shared that when we are in line with God's desire, He takes care of the details--time, circumstance, creativity, inspiration. All we have to do is obey. I like that!

"Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness" (Isaiah 30:8 NIV).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vanity of Vanities

I was inspired to write this during the sermon at church this morning. The pastor was speaking about grace and how difficult it is for us to comprehend how wonderful God's grace is. The music was especially powerful as well. An altogether grace-filled morning!

Vanity of Vanities

In our striving to understand and
explain we labor in vain.

No deed can earn
No words express
No voice resound
No thought contain

The effort made

The sin forgiven
The hope renewed
The history changed
The night less dark
The day more bright

The hours more precious
The life well lived
The broken bread and wine consumed.

Vanity of vanities that we should even try. Yet labor we each and every day to capture full the grandeur and completeness of the Love of God expressed once for all time by Jesus on the Cross.

© Mary Moss – June, 2009

“ Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NKJV).