How Autism Grew my Faith

A new book from Stephanie C. Holmes. Available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.
3 Topics now available on DVD
Stephanie has collected her teachings on Aspie/NT marriage into a 5 part DVD series. Also available is "Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving: ASD issues that impact marriage & Family" and "Spectrum Teens and the Issues they face".

There are clips of the marriage sessions on youtube:

These videos can be ordered from the Appointments and Products tab.

Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Judge Not

Luke 6: 37 “Judge not and you will not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be condemned.”

I have to laugh when I look back at my oldest child’s toddler years. I have to hand it to her, she was pretty much the perfect baby and the perfect toddler. She was so smart and caught onto things quickly. She made a parent (and grandparent) very proud.

She was strong willed,(but so am I ); so, at first I admired that in her. I was fresh out of graduate school with a near perfect child asking myself, “Why do people make such a big fuss about parenting? I could have several more.” I would see parents with their children in the mall and their child pitching a tantrum over something they wanted or be with a friend and their child constantly interrupting adult conversations. I would think to myself, “My child will never do that! I will make sure of it!” After all with all the knowledge of psychology and parent training books I had read, this seemed pretty easy.

Sure, my daughter got in the occassional trouble at pre-school but mostly because she was so bright no one knew what to do with her. She was verbal so early that in her “under 2” preschool class she was the only one who could speak full sentnces. She was like the leader of the class. The other kids looked up to her because they could not speak. I will never forget the day I went to pick her up and her teachers were frazzled. Not one child had napped that day and it seemed my daughter was reason.

She led a rebellion in the cribs that day. She told all the other children to tear off the sheets from their beds and throw the mattress overboard. The teacher was in the bathroom for a few seconds to wash her hands and when she emerged toddlers where throwing sheets and trying to lift their mattresses. My daughter was the commander in chief of the army. Some said, “No nap!” The teacher said, “You need to speak with your daughter about her leadership because they listen to her more than they do me!”

At the age of 2 my daughter got it. She never did that again but also learned she could quickly get others in her class to do what she wanted to do. She somehow knew she had this power in speech. She possessed something they did not have- words.

How does this have to do with judging not? Well, in my pride I somehow thought my husband and I had done just this awesome job in rearing her and her intelligence and leadership and speech were all results of a well thought out and healthy pregnancy. Why couldn’t everyone’s child behave like mine? Trust me I did not say that when she was in elementary school!  Sure, she is spirited. Many who have taught her would vouch for that. This verse takes on more meaning as you read later into my story. I judged. I wish back then I would have learned this verse.

Later, I can certainly tell you. I have been judged and I have been condemned by others. At times I wonder, “Did I bring some of that onto myself?” I know in my anger with uneducated people trying to deal with my daughter I said things in judgment of them. As you are parenting a special needs’  or strong willed child, I challenge you not to judge others. Believe me, you will encounter church people, teachers, administrators, maybe even your own family who will not understand your child, your child’s needs, or your needs or where you are coming from. Please accept the challenge not to judge, but to pray.  Instead of judging, you can be an agent of change in your surrounding community. I know that is my current goal. I don’t want to change the environment to suit my child. That does not help her. However, how can I educate those around her to understand her and other children that are different. How can I partner with those who work with her to help them. Condemn not and you will not be condemned. You may be persecuted and your parenting attacked, but on the eternal perspective, God has your back when no else does.

A future blog will discuss the age old question- judging versus warning others who are in sin. That is a totally different concept.  Beware of judging the intention and motives of others because we only have what we see- God sees the heart.  When I see others having difficulty with a child and I can see their obvious embarrassment about it I quickly now say, “Don’t worry, I am not judging I live in glass house myself and I will not throw a stone 🙂 “

Whose are you?

In a previous blog I asked the question, “Who are you?” and was intrigued by the Mad Hatter in the New Alice in Wonderland who said to Alice (after her return to Wonderland), “You have lost your MUCHNESS you are not as MUCH as you once were.”  There is another question to ask ourselves- “Whose are you?” To whom do you belong? Who gets to define you or what do you allow to define you?

I recently spoke to a crowd of nearly 900 at the AACC World Conference held in Nashville and spoke on “Helping Families with Special Needs Kids.” In this seminar I wanted to leave the audience with the understanding that just because a child has special needs or challenges they are not excluded in God’s promise in Jeremiah where He says, “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Hope for a better future.” In addition to that, the couple, the family who has a special needs child they are not excluded from that either.  My daughter has Asperger’s and often she will say, “I can’t do that I have Asperger’s! or That is too hard for me- I have Asperger’s.” To this I often reply, “Asperger’s is what you HAVE it is not who you ARE!  Let’s look at who you are- you are my child that I love very much. You are God’s child so you are made in His image. You are talented and smart and things are challenging FOR you but your challenge does not DEFINE you.”

In that same flow of thought, your past, your childhood, your trauma, that thing you are most ashamed of, your education, your socioeconomic status, those things someone said to hurt you- they DO NOT DEFINE you unless you let them.  For believers, we belong to God, as such HE defines us as “Beloved, His Child, Precious, Valuable, worth sending His Son to die for and so much more!” Let us let go of those things from the past- those bondages that try to hold us back and focus on WHO ARE in Christ and WHOSE we are.

As in Overcoming I said I cannot explain why trials an tribulations happen but I know God does NOT MAKE bad things happen to us. Allowing and Making are two different concepts. I do know God is good, faithful, love, holy, just, and He will MAKE all things good according TO HIS WILL AND PURPOSE.

I think of Joseph, who was left for dead by his brothers, sold into slavery, and later in a position not only to save his family but the future of Israel when he said to his family, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  This is echoed in the NT when Paul said “All things work together for GOOD for those ARE IN CHRIST.” That is – those who BELONG to Christ- who are HIS. A speaker at the conference, Mike Huckabee said, “No, not all things ARE good, but we know the ONE who can make things GOOD according to His will and purpose- but we have to LET him.”

I hope those of you reading this- BELONG to Him and know WHOSE you are. If you do not, you can ask Him to forgive you, come into your life, and then you will Belong to Him!

When Spiritual Leaders Fail You

Numbers 23:19

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

“All we know is that all things work together for good those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Soon after my daughter was born in 1998, in the midst of joy after a battle with infertility I was thinking, “Could it get better than this?”

Life was great! Graduate school was done. My part –time job would allow me to bring my baby  to work with me. My husband’s job was going great! Finances were good. Things were moving and happening. I was no longer fearful of what could go wrong or guilty that we were being blessed.

Ah Utopia. Not for long. Let me explain that my husband and I met at our church when we were kids. We were child hood sweethearts and when we were teens it was obvious we would marry.

We had a great church with great staff. We had healed from something painful a previous leader had done to hurt the church before we were married.  It was all good again. Our church was a place of safety and happiness. After a few years of this church bliss, it was evident something was not right. I had discernment about a relationship between a pastor and church member not being appropriate but who dare to accuse a pastor without proof? It was just an intense feeling but I struggled with what to do.  I go to my pastor to set up a date to have my baby dedicated to the Lord before the church body. There was tension between he and another pastor as to who would do the service. We were close to both so it did not matter to us, but the tension over it was strange.  He allowed me to set up the Sunday after Christmas which  I had wanted because my husband’s grandparents were in town for Christmas.

It was awesome- the whole family there to be a part of this special day. It was so special. What was I worried about? Was it just negativity creeping in again? Were things going so well I just imagined something with the pastor and the church member?

The next Sunday the senior pastor stands up and begins reading from 2 Samuel 12- which if you are familiar with the story it is when the Prophet Nathan is confronting David for his affair. As he began to read that story my husband and I knew what he was about to say, my heart sank. He would admit to an affair  and be resigning from his position that day. This was the  pastor who had married my husband and I. This was the man we looked up to as one of integrity. This was the man who 1 week earlier dedicated our child. Shock and stunned and hurt cannot even begin to cover the range of feelings that day.

How was this happening?  This event caused a major pain/hurt/trauma in my life. Not only was he someone I trusted and admired- he was a spiritual leader. How could he be duped into this? This really rocked my world and changed my opinion of leadership. It became a major trust issue. I mean if you can’t trust a pastor who can you trust?  This was a painful lesson that pride can creep into anyone’s life. In the midst of my joy and triumph having a baby- this was not the time to doubt God. Many months later,  God did use this tragedy- this moral failure to work out good in the church body. Sure, many families left which felt like losing family members but people deal with pain in different ways. I came away from this experience a little more guarded and less trusting of man, but reassured that God is not a man that He should lie. His promises are true and he never breaks His word. We have to respect the mantle God places on a leader, but it hurts when they fail us. It feels like such a betrayal. However, pastors and leaders are humans with a sin nature to crucify daily also. They do make mistakes.  Part of the issue is we put people on pedastals where only God belongs anyway. Pastors and spiritual leaders are people. They deserve honor and respect, but we cannot put them on a pedestal. When a leader fails you, and you are hurt and do not know who to trust, this I can promise you, God does not fail you. He can always be trusted to work anything out for your good if you let him.

The Desires Of Your Heart

Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Have you truly ever let this verse sink into your heart? What does this mean?

“He will give you the desires of your heart?” What about all the other verses that tell us that the heart is deceitful and cannot be trusted. What desires? My desires or God’s desires for me?

This verse is the foundation of my personal story.

Getting pregnant and having children is the American dream for most couples. At the church I formerly  attended most families have children. Many couples had large families and the children and youth departments were overflowing with children at that time. However, it is one of the things that causes heart wrenching pain when you are infertile. I am a counselor by trade and dreamed of having a large practice while have 3 children and living the American dream. When my doctor told me that there were issues with me getting pregnant, and maintaining a pregnancy, I was disheartened. I had already had one ectopic pregnancy. I was devastated. I was angry at God.

I began to ask questions like “God, if your Word says you open and close wombs why is mine closed and so many teens who don’t want babies and abort them are open? You said children are a blessing. Why can’t I have this blessing?”

I began to search through the archives of my memory for verses to claim and promises to stand upon and I kept repeating “He will give you the desires of your heart.” I claimed and believed and hoped.

A year went by. Mother’s Day came and I wept at the altar as Hannah did when she cried out to the Lord for a son. Nothing happened. I shouted many times, “He will give you the desires of your heart!”

I went to Liberty University to complete my graduate degree in counseling and met someone who taught me the meaning of this verse. He went on to tell me his story that he and his wife had been trying for years to have a child and his wife had multiple miscarriages and he stood on the promise of Psalm 37:4. I sarcastically said I was glad that “worked for him.” He asked me what I meant.

I explained my saga with not being able to get pregnant and my hopes and dreams based on this simple verse. Then he asked me, “Stephanie, are you delighting in the Lord?” “Will you love Him and trust Him no matter what the answer? Is your relationship such with Him that He is all you need or has this need to be a mother  become the obsession? Do you really trust Him to keep His promises? This verse is a conditional promise. It requires you to do something first. Delight in Him and Him alone.”

Woah! So simple, yet I missed it. I took this challenge and changed my whole attitude and way of thinking. Well, for those of you who need closure to a story as I do. I began January 1998 with a new focus- to delight in the Lord and trust in His promises. February 1998 to the doctor’s shock I was pregnant with my first daughter. My oldest daughter was born in October of 1998!

Persistent Prayer

This summer my home church was doing a study on parables.  I was asked to preach in the mid-week service and one of the parables I chose is located in Luke 18 called either “The Persistent Widow” or the “Unjust Judge.”  First of I find it interesting how we can find those different Bible headings- you can focus on the injustice or the persistence of the widow. As in all parables, Jesus gives the reason for the parable. In this one Jesus tells you upfront why He is telling the parable, “And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Then He tells the story of a widow who was being mistreated in the judicial system and the judge finally relents because  she was annoying him (v5).  Jesus says if a unjust man who does not love this woman and does not fear God or man can relent after the widow’s pleading, how much more does the Father who loves you, who does care for you personally, want to act on your behalf.  He is making the point that God the Father is opposite from this unjust judge in EVERY WAY. Yet even the unjust judge finally acted on her behalf. At the end of the parable (v8) Jesus said, “Nevertheless,  when the Son of Man comes, shall He find such faith on the earth?”

If you have read my previous blog on Forgiveness- catch this important point. Luke 17 ( the proceeding chapter) is one of Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and He says one of the main things that block our prayers is our own un-forgiveness towards others.

Then Luke 18 tells us in our prayer life we must be persistent.  Jesus had previously taught the disciples “how” to prayer in Luke 11 in what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”   We then put Luke 11, 17, and 18 together. When Jesus teaches how to pray he starts with “Our Father Who Art in Heaven- Hallowed be Thy name.”  Although the point is simple, God the Father is holy and righteous and He is the ONLY one who can meet our need or bring healing to us. We cannot look in other places then finally come to God for help when nothing else has worked. HE is the one to whom we pray, and the one who can meet the need. “Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”  We can pray until we are blue in the face with great faith and passion, but if what we are praying for is outside of God’s will IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. God will not give us something or do something on our behalf that is outside of HIS WILL AND PURPOSE. So as Steven Furtick said recently,” EVERYTHING I ever thought I NEEDED that God TOOK AWAY, turns out it was BLOCKING something BETTER He had PREPARED.”

We have to trust God in the answer- even if the answer is NO or WAIT or NOT YET. God is not a mean God when He does not answer the way we wish. He will only answer a pray that is in HIS WILL. “Give us this day OUR DAILY bread.” God promised in the OT and NT that His children will not go begging for bread. He promised that if HIS people tithe, He will provide their daily bread- their daily NEEDS. We confuse our wants and our needs. God has promised the NEEDS and sometimes we get the WANTS. “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” What is a trespass? The original GREEK word is paraptomah. Paraptomah means a mistake, sin, offense, unintentional error, malicious intent, willful intent, fault, a slip, or a fall. That pretty much covers everything a person can do to us right?  Back in Luke 17 Jesus told his disciples they had to forgive “everyone their trespasses.” Who is everyone? Glad you asked. The Greek word for everyone is hekastos. Get this: hekastos means “each and every, every man or woman, verb tense is one that means past and present or those who have not yet done anything in the future. So we have to forgive EVERYONE sinner and fellow Christian of everything from a little oops, a little mistake or error to intentional, malicious harm. So, “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE forgive those who trespass against us” should take on new meaning.

“And lead us not into temptation.” We know God never tempts us, so this passage is asking for wisdom to not even go into situations that could be tempting. Help me BEFORE I am tempted- and God will. Once you are in the situation, it is not God’s fault for decisions you make. First of all He wants to help you not get into the tempting situation. Then when you are there, if  you FLEE and ask for help HE WILL be faithful. But we need to ask ourselves do we put ourselves in situations that are too tempting then blame God for our mistakes? “For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory FOREVER.” We sometimes forget that God is eternal and we have eternity in our hearts. If we do not see a need met or healing here on this earth- it will be done in Heaven. WE are not guaranteed to see our answers this side of Heaven- and that is sometimes where we get tripped up.

So when we pray, we are to pray without growing weary. We are to TRUST that even though we do not see what is going on, God will act on our best behalf. He is a HOLY God that knows what we need, when we need it, and how we need it. God is both holiness and love. He loves us and will care for us and provide for us, but He is HOLY and He will not answer a prayer outside of His will. God’s time line is not our time line. Remember we are eternal beings and our 75 plus years on earth are nothing compared to the eternity we will spend with Him.

Forgiveness: Out with the Old

Forgiveness is a difficult subject to discuss. As Christians we should be the best at it after all Christ forgave us a debt we could not pay and paid it through His own life.  This is the whole point of the Unforgiving Debtor parable. The Master forgave the first debtor his HUGE debt; then the debtor could not forgive another debtor of a small debt.   Jesus concludes, “The Heavenly Father will forgive you as you forgive others.” This line is mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Trust me as a counselor I get it that there is major trauma and trials that happen- that people hurt you intentionally and do not repent or take accountability.  A quote often attributed to Corrie Ten Boom ( who knew a little about suffering) is, “Forgiveness is setting the captive free and realizing you were the one being held captive.” It is one thing to overcome the situation that hurt you; it is another to forgive the person that caused the trauma or the harm.  Search for Significance by McGee tells us what FORGIVENESS IS NOT: It is not letting go of holding the person accountable, it is not allowing the same offense to keep occurring, it is not a single event in time it is a process, it is not denying what happened to you, it is not based on if the other person deserves it or asks for it, it is not forgetting. Forgiveness is a process that starts with a mental decision. It is not about the other person- it is about YOU- YOUR FREEDOM.  Luke 17:1-5 says, “‘It is impossible that no offenses will come to you.” We don’t often cross-stitch that promise and put it up on our walls in our home. But it is a promise Jesus spoke- we will be hurt. He promised “In this life you will have troubles, but I give you MY peace, that where I am there you shall also be.” So when we have hurt and trauma- He will be there for us. But your freedom from the hurt is dependent on YOUR willingness to forgive. Recommended readings: Bait of Satan by John Bevere and Search for Significance by Robert McGee. Forgive for YOUR sake.

Who Are You?

On a recent vacation we rented Tim Burton’s new “Alice in Wonderland.”  The Disney cartoon version to me was eccentric, loony, spontaneous, and really had no point.  So, I was not thrilled to get it, but after a pretty good review from Plugged In Movie, I rented it because my kids really wanted to see it. Wonderland, or as we learn Underland, was eccentric and colorful as it was portrayed in the cartoon version but there was a major plot twist.  Alice had been there as a child.  Now she was much older.  The people of Underland knew Alice to be imaginative, creative, confident, kind etc.  When she left Underland the mean queen of hearts grew in power. There was a scroll that foretold Alice would be the only one who could defeat the queen and bring balance back to Underland.  So for many years, the white rabbit had been searching for Alice, and finds her at age 20 about to be engaged. When she arrives back in Underland she is unsure of herself, and does not believe she can do this huge task.  She struggles to believe she can fulfill her purpose- this task of saving Underland.  At one point in the movie, the mad hatter who is not as whimsical as he is in the cartoon, but more on the verge of despair/insanity turns to Alice and says, “You are different than the last time you were here- you have lost your MUCHNESS. You are not as MUCH as you once were.” It was that line that struck me.  How many Christians have lost their muchness and struggle with the thing they are called to do- their purpose? What if a person does not truly understand they were put on this earth by God for a purpose and with His might can accomplish this task?

Here is what I know about our enemy: 1) He does not want you to succeed. 2) He does not want to see the Kingdom of God Advance in any way. 3) He does not want you to have prosperity. He wants you be in bondage and to be hopeless.

Here are things I KNOW about God: 1) He loves us and wants us to be FREE and for us to prosper. 2) He wants to expand HIS Kingdom through us. 3) He has created each of us with a person.  4) Because He has a purpose for you, He has equipped you for that purpose.

It is easy for us to allow our personality, our past, childhood events, our environment, socioeconomic status, race, people, significant events, roles, position, or what others say, our success etc to define us. But none of these things DEFINE us.  God created YOU to be YOU with a purpose and plan and gifts you to be able to fulfill that plan.

We are all ministers. Some of us do it professionally as a paid church staff member, but all of us are called to minister to others. So I want to challenge you- what are you letting DEFINE you? If it is not God- you are reading the wrong definition beside your life. You have a purpose- don’t lose that MUCHNESS. Because we are all so MUCH more when we are in HIM.


Revelation 12:11 tells us “And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

We go through life and encounter numerous struggles, trials, tribulation, or trauma. Why does this happen? I cannot attempt to explain why God allows various things to happen in our life, but I do know that when things happen to us we are able to overcome it through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, and when we overcome it we should share our testimony so that others can be encouraged and overcome their circumstances.  I believe God has a plan for every person and no matter what has happened in your past, He wants to use you for His glory. He loves you and wants you to live life victoriously.  We are in the end days, the time before we will be raptured as Bride of Christ.  It is time for those of us who believe in God to believe not only in Him but that He can empower us to live a life of freedom of joy. We need to be a light to this world and share what He has done in our lives and find those who are hurting and help them overcome. Revelation 12:11 tells us “And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”