Posts in Faith

Day 183 – New Year

The Christmas festivities have passed and the decorations and tree are all put away for another year and the new year has begun and I can’t help but think that this year is going to be a good one.

I am not quite sure why I am feeling that way.  So far we have had some sickness in the household and an unnecessary sleep deprived night for Andy that threw his great sleeping patterns off.

I still have a feeling that it is going to be a good year so I am excited.

No I am not going to post a whole bunch of promises or resolutions for what I am going to do this year.  I am going to wait excitedly for the good things to come from God because I know, for some reason, that He has a few great things in line for our family this year.

Some great spiritual lessons learned, some special time together as a family, maybe even some amazing growth in the boys?  I don’t know what the blessings will be but I am sure they are going to be wonderful.

My resolutions and promises are pretty weak at best when it comes to the goodness of God.  So as you start a new year with no ideas of all that will happen over the next 365 days, know this, that God is faithful to those who love Him and He is the source of all things good!

Day 180 – God Made You Special

This is a hard post to write.  We were at the hospital all day yesterday with Andy.  We got a call that Andy had a seizure at school and the ambulance was called.  At the hospital Andy had a CT scan and blood work done to find out if there was a brain tumour or infection that caused the seizure.  All results came out normal which was a relief but Andy is home today and he is exhibiting some behaviours no doubt from all the chaos lately.

And to top it all off, we heard that John’s Grandma is not doing well and the signs are there that she will be going home soon.

I confess that I am exhausted and am a bit down today but am making all kinds of efforts to make the day a good one for Andy.  I put on some oldies Christmas music and got out the decorations and am hanging out with Andy in the living room while hanging up the “stockings by the chimney with care”.  Andy has been enjoying Frank Sinatra lately and the CD that is playing is called “Big Band Christmas”.

As I slowly go about, dragging my feet with heavy shoulders, I keep hearing Junior Asparagus singing “When you look in the mirror, you’ll see his touch… ’cause God made you special, and he loves you very much” over and over again.

Andy received a Veggie Tales book this weekend for Christmas called “God Made You Special!” and he has been pushing the button for the music where Junior sings the last lines of the book.  I want you to hear what this book says so I’ve typed the words below.

God made the heavens,
the land and the sea,
the fish in the ocean,
the birds and the bees.

He grew all the plants,
put fruit on the trees.
He made everything –
he even made me!

He picked out my smile,
my eyes, and my nose.
He was very particular
from my head to my toes.

I’m just what he wanted,
and I think it shows
that he’s really creative
and all of heaven knows…

He thought it all over.
He made me just right.
I make him happy –
I am his delight.

When I look in the mirror,
I see his touch…
’cause God made me special,
and he loves me very much!

Sometimes I feel down.
Sometimes I feel blue,
Don’t like something about me –
it’s sad but it’s true.

But then I’m reminded that
God had a plan.
He wants me to be
just the way that I am.

He thought it all over.
He made me just right.
I make him happy –
I am his delight.

When I look in the mirror,

I see his touch…
’cause God made me special,
and he loves me very much!

God wasn’t finished.
No, he had more to do.
He planned something wonderful –
that’s when he made you!

He thought it all over.
He got it just right.
You make him happy –
you are his delight.

When you look in the mirror,
you’ll see his touch…
’cause God made you special,
and he loves you very much!

By Greg Fritz

After spending a lot of time in the hospital yesterday, we had many nurses, aids and paramedics asking about how Andy was doing and then when we got home the messages of prayers and love were pouring in.

Maybe Andy wanted to remind me of something by pushing that button 30 times this morning?  Maybe he wanted to hear it for himself?  I don’t know.

I do know that God was sending both of us a little reminder today through a children’s book that we are not forgotten and that we are loved oh so very much!

Day 173: Autism and the Church

Our chapel has just purchased some land to build a new building in another location in a subdivision close the our current building.  It is all very exciting to us as we make the plans to break ground in the spring.  It reminded me of a post I wrote a while ago about Autism and the Church so I am reposting it here with a few edits.

The incidence of autism has risen to 1 in every 100 children that are affected.  The numbers are staggering considering ten years ago it was 1 in 10,000.  The government is just now coming to terms with the epidemic and beginning to consider an autism strategy to deal with what will soon be a burgeoning population of adults with autism.

As a church and family of God, I think it important also to be prepared to deal with Autism in our assemblies as well.

Scripturally speaking there are a couple of instances I can recall, where people with disabilities needed help from friends.  There was a paralytic man who wanted to see Jesus and his friends lowered him through the roof to the Lord. Another man had been sick for a long time and sat by a pool that could heal him but he had no friends to put him into the water.  Autism is a fairly new epidemic and there isn’t really scriptural reference for handling Autism in the church.  So most of what I say are practical helps.

First of all, there really has to be a genuine love for this special group of people and their families.  It is not an easy disorder to deal with as a family and having the love of those in our assemblies makes a huge difference! Believe me, it can be a balm to the wounds of the heart to know that your family is truly loved.

That being said, an effort is required and it begins with educating yourselves.  Don’t always depend on getting all the right answers from the family members either.  I know I have been approached by people in meeting and it really is hard to get everything covered in a 5 minute conversation by the coat racks.  So look it up on the internet.  Read blogs by parents of children with autism and their every day struggles.  There is actually a blog called The Inclusive Church with great, practical ideas on how to include kids with Autism!

Don’t ever make assumptions!!!!  Autism is a disorder where children have odd behaviours and outbursts because of unusual things like a smell or buzzing lights.  These parents have children that do not have a wheel chair or obvious physical features that indicate that there is a disability so they are used to being judged as terrible parents based on the behaviours of their children.

Asking parents what you can do to help is helpful to some degree.  But I do have to admit that I sometimes don’t even know what to ask for with regards to help.  Certainly give them time to come up with a list for everyone.

Some children with autism are darters.  They run off very quickly and since they often do not understand dangers like cars and parking lots or even the concept of being lost.  They will walk away and keep right on walking.  So please stop a child with autism from walking/running out of the building without their parents or an adult.  Depending on the severity of the child, you may have to grab their hand or physically block them but the danger of them running into a car is very serious.  And I have been in situations where my son has gotten away from me and people have just watched him run past them with me running in hot pursuit.  It sure would have been nice if that person had stopped him keeping me from having to run 1/2 a block to catch up to him.

Even if you haven’t done the research, please don’t be afraid to interact with children with autism.  Even if they can’t talk, you can easily say “hey, kurt, I love your slinky.  That looks like it’s a lot of fun to play with”  “give me five” or “you are growing up.  Look how tall you are now!”  Don’t be afraid even if it is awkward for you talking to someone who may not understand or can’t respond or can’t respond properly.  You will get better at it and you will get to know their likes and dislikes.  It is far worse for you to ignore this family out of fear of what to say than to engage with them and experience a few awkward moments as you get used to it.  This is part of showing that love and it is showing that you are making an effort!

This is a big one!  I know that friendships in the assemblies are important to kids in that they have positive influences on each other and it encourages them to stay in the assemblies.  PLEASE, PLEASE, encourage your children to include children with autism or even kids with social awkwardness.  As a parent of children with social difficulties one thing that happens is, we mourn the loss of what we had dreamed for our children including social acceptance and popularity.  I know that I had envisioned my children being social butterflies and having wonderful, lasting friendships in the assemblies that would carry into their adult life just like the friendships I had as a teenager.  It is difficult for many of us parents to see our kids struggling and being left out of the other kids sleepovers, movie nights, birthday parties and outings because of their social awkwardness, it just breaks our hearts.

I think it is a help to a parent to have their children’s peers teaching their child social rules and what is acceptable and what isn’t.  I think it may even be more affective than a parent teaching them not to mention how beneficial it is for the “normal” kids to be making an effort to include these kids on their own personal growth.

Social clicks and special activities amongst them that continually exclude others who are not so popular aren’t necessarily encouraged but are present sometimes.  When this happens, kids with Autism don’t get a chance to benefit from social learning opportunities around their peers and the social kids don’t get a chance to learn the ability to socialize with kids with Autism.  It’s a lose/lose situation.

“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:46-48

I realize how difficult this can be in taking a lot of folks out their comfort zones to reach out and make an effort to the people affected by autism.  But if you can just imagine for a minute how much these families are struggling and really what you may be giving up is nothing compared to the daily struggles they face.  You are really only risking growth and an opportunity to truly reflect Christ in your life and an opportunity to minister to Christ Himself. “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matt 25:40

Day 166: Faith and Autism

Faith and Autism,

I have been posting about the different issues that we have to encounter as parents with children on the spectrum as a way of making people aware of the struggles a family faces on a daily basis and in the different ages and phases of life.

Today I wanted to share something that helps us (my husband and I) with those struggles.  It not only helps us with our struggles, it keeps us strong, maintains our marriage, provides a hope, and picks us up when we are down.

It is faith.

We believe that God is personally taking care of us, protecting us and that He is using others to encourage us.

What is faith?

It is a belief in a God who not only created us, but loves us and gave the consequences of our sins to His only Son to offer us the gift of salvation from those consequences but also a promise to be forever in His care on earth and beyond that in heaven.

We have all seen the words John 3:16 in the stands at sporting events.  What is John 3:16?  It is these words from the bible “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

We accept this gift by faith, not on our own merits so thankfully, it is not conditional!
Ephesians 2:8-9 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

And once we receive this gift, faith is our hope.
Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

We practice faith all the time.  We put faith in banks when we deposit our money, we put faith in babysitters when we leave our children with them, and we covet faithfulness in relationships with our spouses, family and friends and we even show faith in the chairs we sit in to hold us up.

We (my husband and I) have a faith in God and He has never let us down and has revealed to us in many circumstances that He is taking care of our family.  (See blog post Day 12!)
We have a confidence that although life is harder for us, there is a bigger and much more rewarding purpose to our circumstances.  We couldn’t carry on too well if we did not have faith in that.

Where do you put your faith and is it holding you up?

 

Day 158: Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada.  This morning Andy and BJ are sitting in the living room and watching a Veggie Tales movie while Ethan sleeps in.

I have to be thankful for the progress this year in being able to sit in the kitchen while Andy sits in the living room peacefully with his big brother and the other sleeps.  This was not so much of a possibility even last year.

Andy still had to be closely watched last year and sitting in the living room meant that things were going to get tossed, ripped or scattered and the front door was quite the draw for him.  I am also grateful for the added help from my oldest with Andy and Ethan.  BJ loves his brothers and has been such an increasing help with them over this last year.  It has been such a blessing!

We had a good night’s sleep and I was up for at least an hour before I was joined by Andy.  I think that is a blessing, I will never take for granted again.

I enjoy a little time to myself in the mornings before I am required by someone for something.  That little bit of time to take care of my own needs physically, spiritually and mentally before tending to others needs is a God send.  The day just seems to flow all that much better when that happens.

I had an interesting read this morning that I thought I would share.  I must note that it really has nothing to do with what I have written here but it was an incredible story of the word of God I know and love and am thankful for in the mornings.

From “Seed Thoughts” at www.goodnewsgranary.org

George Whitfield (1714-1770), who was used by God to spread the Great Awakening, became perhaps the best-known preacher in Britain and America in the 18th century. In May of 1750, after hearing Whitfield preach, John Thorpe and three friends attended a local “Hell-Fire Club,” an atheists’ gathering. To amuse his friends, with amazing accuracy Thorpe recited the sermon he had just heard Whitfield preach. With remarkable tone and clever mimicry, John Thorpe presented the preacher’s message until, suddenly, he slumped into a chair and cradled his weeping face in his hands. With a self-inflicted wound, he had been converted under his own preaching! For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”(Heb 4:12). Subsequently, John Thorpe was greatly used in Bristol in the salvation of many.

Day 125

 

I was thinking that perhaps something should be put in Uplook with this regard so I started writing it myself.
Autism and the Church
The incidence of autism has risen to 1 in every 110 children that are affected.  The numbers are staggering considering ten years ago it was 1 in 10,000.  The government is just now coming to terms with the epidemic and beginning to consider an autism strategy to deal with what will soon be a burgeoning population of adults with autism.
As a church and family of God, I think it important also to be prepared to deal with Autism in our assemblies as well.  
Scripturally speaking there are a couple of instances I can recall, where people with disabilities needed help from friends.  There was a paralytic man who wanted to see Jesus and his friends lowered him through the roof to the Lord. Another man had been sick for a long time and sat by a pool that could heal him but he had no friends to put him into the water.  Autism is a fairly new epidemic and there isn’t really scriptural reference for handling Autism in the church.  So most of what I say are practical helps.
First of all, there really has to be a genuine love for this special group of people and their families.  It is not an easy disorder to deal with as a family and having the love of those in our assemblies makes a huge difference! Believe me, it can be a balm to the wounds of the heart to know that your family is truly loved.
That being said, an effort is required and it begins with educating yourselves.  Don’t always depend on getting all the right answers from the family members either.  I know I have been approached by people in meeting and it really is hard to get everything covered in a 5 minute conversation by the coat racks.  So look it up on the internet.  Read blogs by parents with autism and their every day struggles.
Don’t ever make assumptions!!!!  Autism is a disorder where children have odd behaviours and outbursts because of unusual things like a smell or buzzing lights.  These parents have children that do not have a wheel chair or obvious physical features that indicate that there is a disability so they are used to being judged as terrible parents based on the behaviours of their children.  
Asking parents what you can do to help is helpful to some degree.  But I do have to admit that I sometimes don’t even know what to ask for with regards to help.  Certainly give them time to come up with a list for everyone.  
Some children with autism are darters.  They run off very quickly and since they often do not understand dangers like cars and parking lots or even the concept of being lost.  They will walk away and keep right on walking.  So please stop a child with autism from walking/running out of the building without their parents or an adult.  Depending on the severity of the child, you may have to grab their hand or physically block them but the danger of them running into a car is very serious.  And I have been in situations where my son has gotten away from me and people have just watched him run past them with me running in hot pursuit.  It sure would have been nice if that person had stopped him keeping me from having to run 1/2 a block to catch up to him.
Even if you haven’t done the research, please don’t be afraid to interact with children with autism.  Even if they can’t talk, you can easily say “hey, kurt, I love your slinky.  That looks like it’s a lot of fun to play with”  “give me five” or “you are growing up.  Look how tall you are now!”  Don’t be afraid even if it is awkward for you talking to someone who may not understand or can’t respond or can’t respond properly.  You will get better at it and you will get to know their likes and dislikes.  It is far worse for you to ignore this family out of fear of what to say than to engage with them and experience a few awkward moments as you get used to it.  This is part of showing that love and it is showing that you are making an effort!
This is a big one!  I know that friendships in the assemblies are important to kids in that they have positive influences on each other and it encourages them to stay in the assemblies.  PLEASE, PLEASE, encourage your children to include children with autism or even kids with social awkwardness.  As a parent of children with social difficulties one thing that happens is, we mourn the loss of what we had dreamed for our children including social acceptance and popularity.  I know that I had envisioned my children being social butterflies and having wonderful, lasting friendships in the assemblies that would carry into their adult life just like the friendships I had as a teenager.  When I see them struggling and being left out of the other kids sleepovers, movie nights, birthday parties and outings because of their social awkwardness, it just breaks my heart.  
I think it is a help to a parent to have their children’s peers teaching their child social rules and what is acceptable and what isn’t.  I think it may even be more affective than a parent teaching them not to mention how beneficial it is for the “normal” kids to be making an effort to include these kids on their own personal growth.  
Ideally we would see this in our assemblies but sadly we are seeing the growth of social clicks and special activities amongst them that continually exclude others who are not so popular.  When this happens, our kids don’t stand a chance and are at risk for leaving the assemblies as soon as they become adults.  
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:46-48
I realize how difficult this can be in taking a lot of folks out their comfort zones to reach out and make an effort to the people affected by autism.  But if you can just imagine for a minute how much these families are struggling and really what you may be giving up is nothing compared to the daily struggles they face.  You are really only risking growth and an opportunity to truly reflect Christ in your life and an opportunity to minister to Christ Himself. “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matt 25:40 

Day 81

This is the letter I am giving with the gifts in the previous post:

A Christmas greeting to all the special people in Andrew and Ethan’s lives:

This is the story of two boys who came into the world with blond fuzz on their heads and bright blue eyes. They have very distinct personalities, making Andrew and Ethan two endearing little boys. The way they grew up was quite unlike most little boys, however John and I believe it is for a bigger purpose than most of us may realize.

Like most parents, we had expectations for our children to grow up as outgoing, athletic and popular kids with superior grades in school. We hoped to see them get good jobs, marry and have families of their own. But that was not to be for Andy and Ethan. It wasn’t long before we realized things would be different in our household.

Andy would spend hours flipping through books; he particularly enjoyed the phone book. He would stand behind my back and play with my hair for lengthy periods of time without pulling or hurting me. He didn’t respond to his name but would respond to his favourite character on TV. I would repeat, “Andrew, I love you…I love you…I love you…” until finally he would say, “I you.” Andy stopped saying “I you” at 18 months.

The tests were all done and the neurologist confirmed that Andrew was autistic. Apparently he thought I needed clarity because he reached out and took my hand and said, “This is going to be hard”. At that moment, faith and confidence in a supreme God who loves us were like arms holding me. John and I knew He would give us what we would need to raise this little boy. It was this that gave us peace in the storm.

We were slowly figuring out what to do for our Andy when, little by little, we were forced to realize that Ethan, our youngest, was behaving just like Andy. We couldn’t deny it any longer; Ethan was autistic, too.

Thus began the change in our expectations for our little family. No longer were we set to cheer from the sidelines as our boys scored goals or attend their school plays. Instead, this family found new things to cheer and discovered blessings that most will never get to experience. And through it all, we continued to hold firm to the promise that our God would take care of us when times were tough!

There were plenty of tough times, too, and not at all what normal families consider to be tough. Bouts of crying with no communication to know if it was a tummy ache or a desire to eat a certain favourite snack or watch a favourite show. Most nights, sleep was a luxury and taken for sporadic moments, usually on the couch while watching a child that was up and ready for the day to begin at 2 am. Often it was soon after the other brother had just fallen asleep for the night.

But then there were moments we cherished. Like when Andy—who usually had no interaction with his siblings—tried to console his little brother Ethan, who was crying, with a gentle touch on his shoulder and a smile as if to say, “It’s OK, please be happy.” Or when Ethan sat at the table during a family get-together with china plates and crystal glasses and sipped from his crystal like a pro, quite enjoying the treat.

There was a day when I was feeling a little sad that I couldn’t have nice things in the house, because the boys usually destroyed nice things. Ethan had been pulling threads out of the curtains in the sunroom and using the strings to stim with. On entering the sunroom, I first noticed the floor strewn with these strings. I then went to examine the curtains with the gaping holes and dangling threads. A feeling of frustration swept over me.

Looking through one particularly large hole, I noticed outside a bit of familiar colour. I went out to get a better look. Sure enough, there, up in the tree, was a nest. A very large bird’s nest with threads woven in to cushion the occupants. Threads from my curtains! Ethan had been discarding thread after thread in an attempt to find a better, longer one for stimming. These threads made it outside as the boys went out to play. The birds readily took these discarded threads and built a nest with them, I daresay the warmest and most comfortable nest in town. Ethan had helped the birds to build their nest!
Christmas day is near, and some of us are reminded about Jesus’ birth. I tend to think that people these days have mixed opinions about Jesus. Most folks find it extremely inconvenient to have religion forced on them when they aren’t
interested; in fact, some grow to hate hearing the name of Jesus because of it. Some feel they are being unfairly judged
by religious people, and take offence at that. Others haven’t even heard of Jesus. Could I ask you to look with me beyond this other curtain, the one that keeps people from seeing Jesus clearly?

A lot of hurtful things happen in this world. If there is anything that I’ve learned, it’s that everyone has some trouble in life. Something that wounds, exhausts, frustrates or angers you. Not one person is free from troubles, despite appearances and wealth. And strange to say, religion, which was supposed to provide comfort and help in times of trouble, has perhaps angered and confused many as well. Trust is gone and with the trust, hope is gone too.

So whether it’s the heartaches or our disillusionment with what are supposed to be the answers, we feel like a curtain has closed on our souls, keeping the sunlight from shining in, obscuring our view. Often we see troubles as a punishment from God or a sign that he doesn’t care. But is that how things really are? Is it possible that the fingers that tear those ragged holes in our lives are actually the things God uses to help us really see?

I would like to introduce you to Jesus. I want you to lay aside any previous notions you may have about him and hear me out. If you know John and I, then you know that our life isn’t always easy. But it’s our testimony that being friends with Jesus has made all the difference for us.

Jesus started out on this earth as a very special baby—which is why we celebrate Christmas. One of the amazing things about his birth was that it was predicted many hundreds of years before: when he would come, how he would come, where he would come, and the family into which he would be born. But before all that, Jesus was the eternal Son of God. He lived in the splendour of heaven where everything is perfect. Angels served him. Yet he left all that to come to this sad world for us.

He took on a body that could feel tired, hungry and weak. He didn’t come expecting to be served but to serve others—the lonely, lost, sick and sad. He healed the lame, blind and deaf, and washed the feet of his disciples. He provided nourishment, encouragement and truth from God to those who were waiting for a promised Saviour. He never did wrong and loved greatly. He cried in sympathy with others, was pleased when people accepted what He was saying, and he loved having the children near him.

Although Jesus came and did these wonderful things, that wasn’t the main purpose of his coming. He came to provide salvation for all people. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). But he came to take the punishment for our sins by His death on the cross. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). It is the gift of salvation that is offered to everyone who will believe. Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

We hope that you will examine the Lord Jesus Christ in a whole new way this Christmas season. Why not get a Bible and read his story for yourself in the Gospel of John. It may be that the hard things in your life have torn open a hole in the curtain this Christmas so you can see Jesus for who He really is, and discover what He is offering to you now.

Andy and Ethan are a gift from God too. We’re amazed at how these two little boys with no words can show us a God who loves and cares for all people in simple ways. Like the hole in the curtain, we’re looking for that beautiful home in the sky.

We wish you God’s greatest blessings at this holiday season