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Day 196 – Do We Need Green Lights From God?

greenlightI had a rough day today.  I had just arrived home from the chiropractor because I had a sprain in my back when I got a call from the summer camp folks where Andy and Ethan were.  Andy had a seizure on the bus on the way to an outing.  They had pulled the bus over on the side of the road and called the ambulance, then called me. Read More

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