Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Journey of Marriage

Mike & I celebrated our 14th anniversary yesterday. Mike grilled steaks and made rice and roasted asparagus for us for dinner as I didn't get back from Ames until 6:30 - another autism therapy appointment - a constant in our lives. I was very impressed with this "gourmet" meal - and Mike was impressed with himself that he carried it off. Mike also was sweet to stop and pick up a pot of daisies at the store on the way home. The past 14 years have a certainly been much different than what we'd expected and yet here we are, still together, happy most days, and committed to staying together over the long-term - no matter what new challenge may present itself.

Early in our marriage we started saying something that has become a running joke - "we may grow old together old and miserable, but divorce is not an option". I think this has been a good mindset for us, albeit a little glum. We're hoping for old, happy and lovin' life - but we'll see. Regardless, we are committed to doing life together. In a culture where the divorce rate is at or above 50% (80% for families with kiddos with disabilities), I praise God for carrying us through. It is by His grace that we can continue to love each other and most days enjoy our life together.

There are definitely days when we drive each other crazy - me driving him crazy with my cooking, putting onions and garlic in way too many foods for his taste, and him driving me crazy by generally eating like a 3rd grader (Mike willing admits this). He's an engineer, and I'm a musician. We approach life with very different perspectives and yet I see how God has placed us together to bring balance to both of our lives and to make a great team to raise our 3 beautiful children.

Aside for the tension that is inevitable when people share their lives, I feel so blessed to be sharing my life with a wonderful Christian man who loves me and our kids and shows that love through his incredible servant-leadership in our home. He is a tremendous blessing in my life and is always ready to do what needs to be done. A couple years ago while I was struggling with severe back pain due to several bulging discs, he told me I was no longer allowed to do the laundry as this was something that always did my back in. And he's been the main laundry man in our house ever since. This is just one example of the servant heart he has.

Our marriage is far from perfect, but by the grace of God we've found a way to do life together in the midst of life's challenges with joy, laughter, and endurance. Endurance is probably #1 characteristic needed in any marriage and in life in general to walk the road God places before us and do so with the joy of the Lord. I continue to pray that God, by His grace will give us the perseverance and endurance to continue on, to run the race set before us and finish strong. I pray that for each of you also! God Bless!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vaccine/Autism Link Coming to Light

2008 has been an exciting year as I've watched more and more information come to light about the link between autism and vaccines. Since starting our journey with autism I have done extensive research in this area and have a strong belief that vaccines played a major role in the development of Seth's autism and many, many other children. The rise in the autism epidemic from a rare disorder affecting 1 in 10,000 20 years ago to a common disorder affecting at least 1 in 150 today directly coincides with the marked increase in the number of vaccines given to the children of our nation. Seth received 36 vaccines by the age of 15 months. I know as an 150+ pound adult I would not want to receive 36 vaccines in 15 months. I have little doubt that if I were to undertake such treatment my health would be adversely affected. Can you imagine what that many vaccines could do to a 8-20 pound baby whose immune system is not strong enough to deal with that many insults?

Earlier this year it came to light that the national vaccine injury court settled a case in which they conceded that a young girl from Georgia named Hannah Poling was harmed by receiving 9 vaccines on 1 day at the age of 18 months; harm which later resulted in an autism diagnosis. The media tried to portray this case as an atypical case of autism which was brought on by a mitochondrial disorder. But scientists are finding that perhaps as many as 50% of kiddos with autism have some type of mitochondrial disorder. Our son is one of those 50% who struggles with mitochondrial/cellular energy issues. Jon Poling, the father in this case is a Johns Hopkins trained neurologist who has spoken out to clarify misinformation that the government and media have shared. He shared his views on this issue in his letter to the New York Times editor

Hannah Poling is not a unique individual in the autism community. Many children have mitochondrial susceptibilities that mean that the number and frequency of vaccines in our current schedule will case harm. There are almost 5000 other cases before the vaccine court claiming that vaccines caused autism. Just this week the court began another series of test cases. These cases claim several different causation routes related to autism, including harm caused by thimerosal (mercury based preservative) and live virus insult (from measles component of MMR).

Do I believe that vaccines are the only environemental trigger causing autism? No! I believe that there are many toxins in our environment, including mercury emissions from coal fired power plants (we lived less than a mile from such a plant while I was pregnant with Seth and during his first 9 months of live), pesticides in our food supply, preservatives in commonly eaten packaged foods, food dyes, fire retardants in mattresses and pajamas for children, and the list goes on and on. But I do believe that vaccines are the primary and most heinous culprit causing this epidemic. The other toxins I mentioned are around us, in our environment and our bodies are able to filter some of them out while vaccines are injected directly into our little one's bodies with little hope of the body being able to combat the toxins and immunological insult.

Just this week a very well-known, mainstream doctor spoke out on concerns she has about the safety of our vaccine schedule. Bernadine Healy, former director of the NIH, spoke with CBS news and shared her growing concern about the possible link between vaccines and autism. I applaud Dr. Healy for having the courage to speak truth when so many in the medical community are clinging to outdated, flawed studies that claim there is no link. We have yet to compare vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children to see what the difference in the rate of autism is - does this not seem like a very logical means of ruling out a link if there really is none? But the government has refused to do this study, perhaps because they already know what the results will be and don't want to be held responsible for the way in which they have damaged an entire generation of children in the name of "good medicine".

Other studies that mainstream docs cling to as proof that there is not a link are fatally flawed, if not purposefully altered to support the conclusion they want to believe. For more info on these studies and the major problems with them check out There you will find links to numerous papers that speak to the issues with these studies. The Denmark study is my favorite, since the pediatric neurologist at the Mayo Clinic who diagnosed our son told us about this study when Seth was first diagnosed, claiming it was definitive proof that there is no link. Ha!! This study is a mess and provides me no assurance that there is no link between vaccines/thimerosal and autism. At a follow-up visit with the doc I gave him a paper written by Boyd Haley, a chemist from the University of Kentucky, that detailed the flaws in this study - I'm sure this paper hit the shredder before he ever read it, but I had to give it a try.

I am hopeful that truth will come to light on this issue and passionate about sharing this information with others. Some question why I spend my time "ranting" about vaccine safety since changes now won't help my son. This is not exactly the case. If the medical community will come to terms with the true causes of autism, they will then be able to help more families treat the real underlying issues that are contributing to autism. Perhaps then I could work with my local pediatrician rather than having to drive 3 hours to a find a doctor who will help me address the medical issues my son struggles with. And ultimately I do not wish this journey upon anyone else and will do anything I can to spare my family and friends the pain that we have had to deal with. I share my concerns especially loudly with friends and family who are pregnant or have a new baby, encouraging them to do some research and come up with their own vaccines schedule that does not include 36 vaccines in 15 months. If I've spared one family from the journey of autism (and I'm fairly certain I have), then all my "ranting" is worth it, even if some people in my life think I'm a bit fanatical.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lovin' Life

After returning home from my California getaway, I am so thankful for the time away. It was a wonderful time catching up with my friend and enjoying the weather and beauty of southern California. We had a wonderful time sharing about our lives as moms and wives; we visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park and enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach; we cooked good food and shopped at Whole Foods (a favorite store of mine); and we talked at length about healthful living, a passion we share. While I greatly enjoyed the trip, I also enjoyed coming home to see my family and friends. While in California my friend remarked that she was struck with what a full life I lead. I am indeed blessed. I have a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful children. I am involved in a growing body of believers who express genuine love for one another and others. I am honored to be able to use the gifts God has given me to serve this body in a variety of ways and to minister to residents at the Iowa Veteran's Home in my part-time job.

Yesterday morning as I sat in morning worship at our church and last night as I returned to church for a graduation celebration for the high school seniors, I was surprised to realize that I desire to remain in the community God has placed me in long-term. I hope to be able to sit with my kids at these celebrations as they graduate high school with a body of believers that have known my children since they were toddlers. I feel blessed to be doing life with a group of believers who seek to know God with all their hearts and desire to minister to those around them in need with God's love and compassion. I hope that my experience with this body of believers is the norm, but as I talk with family and friends around the country I fear this is more the exception than the rule.

For years I have desired to move to a larger city in a different area of the country. But I guess my trip to beautiful southern California and my joy in returning home made me realize that I do indeed have a full life, a life that I love, in the midst of all the challenges before me. My dad has always got on my case about wanting to move, saying that it's not where you live, but what you make of where you live that matters. On this point, I will have to admit that I'm realizing he was right, as he is on many things that I don't always like to agree with him on. So wherever God has placed you for this season in your life, however long that season may be, seek out other believers to do life with. Look for a body of believers that are genuine in their love for one another and purpose to do your part to show love to others. Invest your life in such a body and you will be blessed beyond measure. And with this love and support in your life you will be surprised at all that God is able to do through you!!