Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Office: Book Review of A Thorn in My Pocket by Eustacia Cutler

From the desk of Cathy Harvey, Administrative Assistant to the Deans of Shepherds College

We were recently blessed with an book and resource shower by some very caring supporters of the college who have had their eye on us for the last few years and shown incredible support in time, talent, and resources.  The faculty have been giddy with delight waiting for all the materials to be catalogued and available for check out, but I have a confession.  I cheated – just a little. Because I am the one assigned to catalogue and shelve all the materials, I already took one book home and read it cover to cover. Small perk of my job! And it was a pager turner!

Because I can be so verbose, I sometimes challenge myself to summarize a book, movie, or character in one word.  For Eustacia Cutler’s biography, A Thorn in My Pocket, Temple Grandin’s family story as told by her mother, I can think of one word; one word to summarize her life as matriarch of the Grandin family and mother to an autistic child before autism had a viable definition:  Gutsy.  Or how about “Courageous?” “Intelligent” also works, as does “Spent” or finally “Rewarding,” although in all honesty that is not the overall thread weaving it’s way through this book.

Gutsy.  I’m not sure what I was expecting when the appeal of learning more about Temple Grandin tempted me to pick out a book written about her family from her mother’s perspective.  Perhaps I was thinking of humorous family anecdotes, neat happily-ever-after vignettes peppered with scientific research that helped solve Temple’s peculiarities.  By contrast, it was more of a “shock and awe” telling. Cutler (her name by a 2nd marriage) chose raw honesty in portraying the demeaning habits of her first husband and the fear he struck in all of them as he practiced physical and emotional abuse, journalling for years a twist of lies to acuse his wife of insanity.  It’s a page turner as the reader wonders if and how Mrs. Grandin will live through that relationsip in addition to raising four girls, including Temple who regularly battles her undiagnosed autism.  Bullying, screaming, meltdowns, constant care, finding nannies, divorce, and advocacy wear on the mother and the reader. Is there hope this could possibly turn out well?

Courageous.  How does a mother keep her sanity in such exhausting circumstances?  Temple’s mother sought the fine arts, and found respite from abuse and renewed energy successfully auditioning for theatrical poetry readings, Class B jazz bar singing gigs, and acting, until shredded vocal cords forced her voice into silence for at least six weeks for speaking and seven years for singing.  Minus a physical voice, her writing and constant research to figure out her daughter who would not accept a mother’s hug or touch pushed her toward constant and progressive goals.  Not losing her sanity or herself so she could be there for her children and as an example for Temple kept her strong.

Intelligent.  Woven throughout is an intelligent script about the history of medical and psychological thought and practices from the “Leave it to Beaver” era through modern breakthroughs.  As a Harvard graduate, her advanced vocabulary and parallel examples from classic literature create a literary banquet for the mind.  I had to defer to a dictionary numerous times to understand her vocabulary in targeted explanations of philosphy and thought as she tried to understand her husband, herself, and Temple and the family dynamic woven between all of them.

Spent.  I appreciated her raw, gutsy honesty in spelling out this excruciating journey without giving it a syrupy sweet ending with rainbows swathed across the background.  Her transparency about her difficulties offer a bond of understanding to others plodding a similar rocky path of unknowns with their children. Parents might come away from this book feeling more grateful to God that their journey is easy compared to hers, thankful for a support system unlike anything Cutler had, especially in the era in which Temple was born. 
Finally, Cutler types a curious bibliography that includes: history, psychology, science, ethics, biographies, Temple’s works, public television programs, research and education, plays and fiction, and a few organizational references.  All of these add to the credibility of her writing, research, and the journey of her thought processes through her nightmare years, but what an ending.

Her daughter went on to create such a successful system of herding cattle that 1/3 of the ranches in the US today use her system. She writes for magazines and books; she tours, speaks, and is quite an amazing overcomer in a man’s world of husbandry and ranching.

I guarantee you will be caught up in this monsoon from page one.  Gutsy.  Courageous. Intelligent. Spent.  And finally—rewarding! 

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day by Day - Final Thoughts

Thank you to the MIE 2015 team for the continuation of their story in Jamaica. Read the May 11 blog to start at the beginning.

Wednesday, April 8

Wednesday, we left Jamaica.  While we were sad to be leaving this country our hearts had come to love in such a short time, we left knowing that we had faithfully spread the love of Jesus and that the relationships we formed will last for a lifetime.  It was a long flight day, but God was certainly with us in every little detail.  We arrived back on campus at 2:30 AM on Thursday, exhausted but beyond thankful for God’s faithfulness. 
From our journals: 

It was very tough leaving the kids that we taught VBS to.  This missions trip has brought me closer to God and also my Shepherds College family.  A story I want to take home about today is that my Jamaican experience was very exciting and fun.  I like swimming in the pool at downtime.  Also, I liked the work projects that we worked on in Jamaica.  Buckets for Jesus, buckets for the Lord.  Yeah yeah!  Also I liked the devotions that we did at night time.  ~Wade

Some of the ways this trip impacted my life… I connected and made friendships with older kids as well as younger.  I was amazed at how I handled situations outside my comfort zone.  The team was hand-picked by God.  I met new brothers and sisters in Christ.  Sharing in the work the Terroades do for the body of Christ was a priceless experience.  I’m willing to wait and rely on God for all my wants and needs.  I’m excited to do more work for Christ.  Next year there will be another opportunity to serve God on another missions trip. ~Jonathan
One thing I learned about myself today was that I love God more than ever.  Today, God taught me to be happy and pray for the kids.  Some ways this trip impacted my life is that I got to tell the children about God and I got to know them more.  They just love seeing us and being around us. 
The best memory from today was riding with Raymond (our driver).  Today, God taught me to be patient.  Some ways this trip impacted my life… it taught me not to be materialistic and trust in God.  It also taught me that I love to teach kids about Jesus.  ~Andrew 

Some ways this trip impacted my life is all the kiddos, especially Jade and KaShawn.  Jade showed me that being quiet isn’t a bad thing and loving everyone even people I didn’t like.  KaShawn showed me that someone might just need someone to talk to or play with.  The Terroade's showed me to give everything to Christ and love him with everything I have and to praise Him in all situations.  ~ Nikki 

I felt sad going back and happy to see familiar faces.  This changed my faith on how to have a stronger faith towards God.  Today, God provided for me by taking care of our flights and our plans.  One way that I have been changed after experiencing this missions trip is by having far more faith and patience with God through his wonders, I can rely my true self to him.  Some ways this trip impacted my life… faith. Patience.  Love.  Kindness.  And most of all… A deeper love for God!  ~Micah 

One thing I learned about myself today was I am a different person from my experience in Jamaica.  Today God taught me I can teach the gospel without being afraid.  A story I want to take home about today is I am a servant for the Lord.  If he calls anyone to do his work in a different country, let him lead you.  Some ways this trip impacted my life… I have a better understanding of God.  ~Olya 

One way that I have been changed after experiencing this missions trip is by how much need there is in the world.  We should help and put away our own needs and help others in need.  The best memory from today was being with the group, the best group ever.  Today God taught me how to love more, better, and godly.  I know God better.    A story I want to take home about today is how awesome my group is.  We had so much fun together.  We all including staff are so close.  We have connected and been together for eight days which is so amazing.  ~Willetta 

Some of the sweet times as a team included coffee and tea time on the Terroade’s porch overlooking water/top of hill after lunch,  students leading devotions in the morning, team devos at night, nightly revamping of crafts, dance parties in Miss Pollard and Mrs. Cyr’s room, singing all the time, praise songs at our hotel with the open door and Caribbean right near us, sharing with the Terroades what we learned from them Sunday night, hearing the Terroade’s testimony,  swimming in the Caribbean together, carved butterfly gift from the Terroades in our favorite color, Aunt Eileen’s appreciation as we left VBS supplies… and many more. 

Final debrief thoughts: 

1.  How did you grow most from this trip?  

I need God’s word more in my life.  Reading God’s Word will help me throughout the day.  I need Jesus time and doing devos helped me put it into practice again. ~Willetta 

I told God I was willing to do anything.  He put challenges into the trip to make me think of other positive ways to accomplish his greater good.  ­~Jonathan
Just seeing how you don’t need to have everything in the world to be happy.  ~Crystal 

 God taught me how to rely on him far more.  My faith grew and I love to see how he can give me more wisdom and knowledge.  I did gain knowledge towards how much he loves me and the kids.  My growth was learning and seeing the love through the kids’ love.  ~Micah  

I grew closer to God.  ~Nikki 

The way I interacted with the kids. ~Andrew 

I think how I grew from this trip is trust in God in every situation that life brings you. ~Olya  

2.  As a result of the trip, what are some thing you can apply to your life back home? 

I can write down what I read in my Bible study.  I am happy to say that I have been doing that.  I have been  spending more time with God praying, reading and listening to devotional music.  It has helped my day and when I don’t do it I have not so good days so I know God wants a relationship with me and I with him. ~Willetta

The Terroades were servant leaders.  They showed me how to do it through their testimony.  My focus isn’t on myself but rather how I can serve God better.  ~Jonathan 
I would keep on reading the Bible and keep telling the word of Jesus Christ.  ~Crystal  

I need to have a better spirit – to be kind, a better leader.  To show my true value to God.  To always rely on God, trust him and have stronger faith.  I can apply my heart towards doing better to the students, teachers, and to always gain wisdom.  ~Micah

I want to witness to my sister.  It is going to be hard because I don’t know how to.  ~Nikki 

To trust in God in every situation. ~Andrew

I now know that a missions trip isn’t just to pass time in your life.   A missions trip is to serve others who don’t have as much as you do.  Let God tug on your heart to go someplace that you are afraid to go, let him use you as a tool for his purpose and kingdom.  ~Olya

Pray more and also spend more one on one time with God by reading God’s word, spending less time watching TV and more time in God’s Word.  ~Wade

3.  Is there anything else you’d like us to include in the blog? 
I am so happy I had this Jamaica experience with Shepherds.  It has changed my life.  ~Willetta 

God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.  ~Jonathan  

I really enjoyed going to Jamaica.  ~Crystal

I’m glad I went.  Thanks so much for letting me go.  ~Micah

All the kids were fun to work with.  ~Nikki 

I grew a lot spiritually. ~Andrew

God can use you no matter how old you are!  ~Olya 

That I had a blast in Jamaica and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my spring break anywhere else besides Jamaica with my shepherds college family.  I feel even closer to my Shepherds college family now more than ever.  ~Wade 

We are beyond thankful for God’s abundant faithfulness and kindness to us.  He showed up in ways more awesome than we could ever have asked or imagined.  We (the team leaders) are so proud of our students – of their selflessness, hard work, diligence, flexibility, servant’s attitudes, compassion, and love. 
Thank you to all who prayed, supported, donated, and cheered us on!  Our lives have been impacted and changed by this trip.  Thank you, God, for allowing us to experience a small part of your world and the body of Christ.  

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day by Day - Part 4

Thank you to the MIE 2015 team for the continuation of their story in Jamaica. Read the May 11 blog to start at the beginning.

Monday, April 6

Monday was our last day of VBS.  We taught about Jesus’ resurrection and forgiveness of sins.  Students were sad to say goodbye to the kids they met.  They gave gifts to the kids like bubbles, chalk, and bracelets some of the team and other students at Shepherds College made for the trip.  We finished our time with the Terroades by completing some work projects and sharing supplies.  It was a difficult to say goodbye.  We were able to form some great relationships with the kids.  While it’s difficult to say goodbye, we are so thankful for these relationships.  We know that our lives are certainly richer because of it. 

From our journals: 

From this experience leading VBS and completing work projects, I learned to be more flexible, not getting angry when people pinch and pull your hair.  And laughing off mistakes.  ~Jonathan 

Today, God provided for me by having me be with the greatest missions team members ever.  ~Wade 

Today, God provided for me by letting the Terroades into my life and being able to explain my testimony to people I just met.  ~Nikki 

A story I want to take home about today is all the kids were amazing and are the best thing in a VBS I’ve ever been.  God is great and Jamaican kids are cute!  When I see the kids through pictures I know they are in God’s hands and he will work on them.  ~Micah 

From this experience leading VBS and completing work projects, I learned that God can use you.  I know that I am very young.  Many people think that children can’t impact the world.  ~Olya 

Today, God provided for me by giving me Auntie Eileen and Uncle Ken.  I love them so much!  Today, God taught me how much grace God gave me and how much he loves me to go on this trip.  A story I want to take home about today is this entire experience.  I had such a good time the way this was.   I like all the people here.  Jamaican people are so sweet and kind.  I love them so much   I love how we were safe this trip.  God has given protection over this trip.  I hope that God will bless Jamaica abundantly above and beyond.  I can’t wait to tell the people back home who love you so much about the awesome trip I had.  ~Willetta 

Tuesday, April 7

Tuesday was our last full day in Jamaica.  We had set this day aside to do some touristy things.  We did our shopping in the morning and had lunch at a beautiful beachside restaurant.  Through the Hensel’s (the missionaries we met on Saturday), we were able to meet and taste the food of one of Jamaica’s premier chefs.  We were able to swim in the Caribbean in the afternoon!  God certainly is the creator of some pretty incredible things! 

From our journals:  

A story I want to take home about today is I tried my first Jamaican patty and it was good.  ~Andrew

A story I want to take home about today is that Ms. Pollard is great at negotiating with  prices.  She helped me out today and I liked having her there.  ~Nikki 

One thing God showed me today was His beauty in the ocean and the beauty through the warmth.  God is great and did a great job.  ~Micah 

I swam in the ocean.  I saw God’s awesome creation.  A story I want to take home about today is God is all powerful, all knowing, and my heavenly Father made me the way I am.  ~Olya 

            Today, God provided for me by letting me see another wonderful day in Jamaica, shopping and spending time with my friends.  ~Willetta 

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day by Day - Part 3

Thank you to the MIE 2015 team for the continuation of their story in Jamaica. Read the May 11 blog to start at the beginning.

Saturday, April 4

Saturday, we did our third day of VBS and taught the kids about Jesus’ death on the cross.  Our students taught that the story doesn’t end with Jesus’ death and prepared them for Easter Sunday and our last day of VBS on Monday.  After VBS, we met another local missionary family, the Hensel’s.  They shared about their ministry of medical missions and a Bible college.  We also had a chance to share about Shepherds College and what we were learning in Jamaica thus far.  

The kiddos are very sweet.  I really felt connected to all of the little boys.  Today, God provided for me by giving me flexible pants with every activity that we do. ~ Wade
A story I want to take home about today is we did a play showing the kids how Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  And we got to play outside with them.  ~Crystal 

I had a great day.  I think the kids are learning that Jesus loves us all enough to die for us.  Today, God provided for me by meeting the Hensel’s.  One thing I learned about myself today was I am good with kids.  ~Andrew 

A story I want to take home about today is when life’s burdens get so heavy and it seems I’m all alone, I can cast my cares to Jesus and come boldly to his throne.  I find his grace sufficient and His promises I heed through His very life he sacrificed and He lives to intercede.  ~Jonathan

Sunday, April 5

He is risen!  On resurrection Sunday, we celebrated at Annotto Bay Gospel Chapel.  We participated in a communion service, followed by a church service.  One of the students had the opportunity to greet the church and thank them for having us join the service.  In the evening on Sunday, the Terroades came to our hotel and shared their testimonies.  Their testimonies are powerful examples of God’s persistent and life-transforming grace.  We were privileged to hear Kenneth play both the saxophone and flute.  He is a gifted musician.

A story I want to take home about today is  that the Terroades love God and love to show people and take them in.  They care about all the kids they teach.  The Terroades show that God is #1 in their lives.  They have had everything taken away from them.  They almost got a divorce.  I am happy that God saved them.  ~Nikki 

I am so grateful that He is Risen today!  My savior lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Today,  God provided for me by letting me worship in Jamaica.  The best memory was praising God.  ~Andrew 

One thing I learned about myself today was my testimony can be shared anytime.  ~Micah 

Today, God provided for me by showing me what I am struggling with in my life – Trusting in Jesus.  The best memory from today was hearing the Terroade’s testimony.  ~Olya

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