Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Defying Autism

Here’s a subject dear to my heart because it affects so many children: autism.

Autism is increasingly prevalent among children today. More and more parents are frustrated and overwhelmed because they have an autistic child and don’t know how to best meet his or her needs, and still meet the needs of other family members at the same time. This book could really help. For a glimpse of the heart behind it, enjoy this interview with the author of Defying Autism, Karen Mayer Cunningham.

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 fulltime 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 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.

--Thank you Karen. Hope my readers check out your book.

Janey L. DeMeo /

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vanish by Tom Pawlik

Here’s an adult supernatural suspense novel I thoroughly enjoyed: Vanish by Tom Pawlik (Tyndale). A real pager turner. Here’s the gist of the story (hopefully, without any spoilers).

The protagonist, lawyer Conner Hayden (known by his wife as Connie), sees bizarre, white-eyed people—or shadows that waft like ghosts. He can’t decide if he’s losing his mind, sick or if something really weird is going on.

Conner finds himself plunged back into familiar scenarios from his past. Haunting scenes of his family as it once was before he separated from his wife and before his young son drowned, unfold like a movie, but also seem real. The wispy creatures seem tangible—not at all like in a vision. Is Conner stuck somewhere between death and life?

Conner also discovers that the whole population has vanished except him. The stores are empty, no cars on the road, no sign of life . . . He later meets another man, then a few other people who are in the same predicament as he is. With the exception of finding one another – at least for a season – they too are all alone in an empty world. They have lost friends, even family members. And they too experience flashbacks from their past, and see the ghostlike creatures.

One key character Conner meets is a young boy who seems to be lost, or orphaned. The boy later plays a key role later in connecting the dots between Conner’s failed past (divorce, irresponsibility, guilt etc.) and his relationship to God.

More than just an intriguing plot, this book thrusts you forward through the characters and their discoveries about themselves.

Buy your own copy of Vanish here.
And buy its sequel, Valley of the Shadow here.

Check out Tom Pawlik’s website here.

Check out reviews by other CSFF bloggers:
Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Donita K. Paul
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © June 2009 /

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The American Patriot's Bible

The American Patriot’s Bible – The Word of God and The Shaping of America, NKJV provides a historical overlook of America’s heritage. This delightful book is laced with inspiring accounts and powerful quotes underscoring how the faith of our forefathers shaped America—all strategically woven within the pages of the Bible.

The Bible is an easy-to-use tool with special features including: full-color family record section, a list of godly values that birthed America, appealing layout and artwork, presidents’ photos, a section on monuments and their inspiring inscriptions citing the forefathers adherence to biblical values . . .

The stories in this Bible—and the way they intertwined with Scripture—moved me profoundly.

I see only two weaknesses: First, I noticed some typos. Second, some evangelicals may shun this Bible because of where the President Obama’s picture is placed—in the same section as Martin Luther King. Although most would agree that the election of a partially black president is the historical fulfillment of Dr. King’s fight for racial equality, others would argue that present governmental policies are far removed from the kind of freedom King advocated, and thus consider the placement of the two men in the same section controversial and confusing. Hopefully, though, people won’t let this deprive them of owning a book worthy of any household library.

I am a member of the Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program.
Click here for a YouTube video featuring The American Patriot's Bible.

Janey DeMeo -- /

Copyright©June 2009