Christmas Surprise

It is kind of ironic that she squealed like a pig when she saw it.

Sarah wanted a Tea Cup Piggy toy for Christmas. She really wanted it. It was a little pig toy that said over 20 phrases when you pressed the button on its back. It was housed in a cute little plastic tea cup and came with accessories to dress up your piggy. I bought one for Sarah and hid it with the other Christmas presents in my closet, but soon I found evidence that she had discovered it. The Christmas paper was unwrapped, box open and the toy was on the closet floor. I put it in another hiding spot, but she found it again. This time I hid all the presents in the basement storage room. When I came downstairs there she was jumping up and down squealing in delight, clapping her hands in glee with the piggy toy at her feet. (She also opened other presents as well.)  I told her that Tea Cup Piggy and the other gifts were for Christmas and to leave them alone.

I thought of one more place….

There is a space behind my bedroom door. When you open the door it stops at the corner of my dresser. With the door open, there is a pocket of space behind it. I put all our Christmas gifts in this spot and draped it with a bed sheet. It seemed to have worked. Each day I checked and the sheet remained unmoved.

Then one day, I found the plastic sunglasses accessory that went with the Tea Cup Piggy on the floor. I pulled back the sheet and found that Sarah once again found the toy, plus ripped open and destroyed boxes that contained gifts to siblings, nieces and nephews. I sighed. I had to once again find another spot.

Sarah did not know that I discovered her secret and I saw her walk upstairs. She carefully opened my door thinking she was going to find her secret stash.  I stood in the foyer looking up at my bedroom door and waited.

In less than two seconds later, the loudest shriek came from my room. Not a squeal, but a shriek! I raced upstairs to find Sarah frantically looking behind my door for the presents. Her eyes were wild and she was beside herself. She was not prepared for this Christmas surprise!

“Sarah, I told you the presents are for Christmas and not all of them are for you. You will get your toys at Christmas. Now go!” I pointed for her to leave my bedroom.

Sarah gave me the most exasperated looked. She screamed a high pitch scream at me and with clenched fists stomped off.

*********

The older I get the more I am humbled that Jesus, out of His great love for us, left His throne in Heaven and came down to earth. The perfection of Heaven was forgone to come to an imperfect world. An infinite God took on a form of finite man.  This great love, this salvation, this gift was for us. While it was prophesied the Messiah was coming, no one 2,000 years ago expected Jesus to come as a baby and be found in a stable in Bethlehem.  Unlike Sarah’s Tea Cup Piggy gift, He was not meant to be hidden, but for the whole world to discover. He is Emmanuel (God with us)!

Our Savior’s birth truly was the biggest and best Christmas surprise!

Merry Christmas!

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:1b-11

What Lies Beneath

The kids were playing basketball outside and I went out onto the driveway to watch them. After a few minutes, I found myself pushed from the driveway unto the front yard. (Don’t mess with the kids when they are playing against each other!)

Under my feet the yard was filled with holes. Everywhere I looked there were these tiny holes in our grass.

“Did you aerate the yard, David?”  I asked David as he came walking outside to see the kids play.

“No, I didn’t. I think the squirrels are burying their nuts.”

I have never seen anything like it. If this is the case:

  1. Word must have gotten out in the squirrel community that the Gregory yard is the place to be seen this winter.
  2. If this is any indication of our winter this year, be prepared. It is going to be a very harsh winter!

Soon, though, our grass began to die. Each morning as I left for work, it seemed like the patch was getting bigger. What are those squirrels doing?

David did more investigation and found out we have grubs; HUGE grubs in our yard. You can peel our grass back up like a carpet and there they are! So gross! He spoke to a specialist and he said that the holes were from skunks and raccoons digging in our yard for a late night snack. He said the holes are the first sign we would see of what lied beneath.

What lied beneath….

Right now it is fall and I love seeing all the leaves change color. What I find interesting is that they don’t truly change. Those colors in the leaves were always there, they were just covered up by the chlorophyll. Once the chlorophyll breaks down, the colors that were underneath break forth.

Interesting thought…. Things that lie beneath are bound to break forth. Luke 6:45b says, “Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.”  (TLB)

It can be gross like the grubs or beautiful like autumn leaves.  What a challenging thought!

It makes me think of dear Sarah. What lies in Sarah’s heart overflows into her speech. I love it when we get glimpses of a girl that loves her family, all things pink, believes Disney princesses are real, and loves to dance and sing with her whole heart. While her speech and singing are incoherent phrases at times, I know it is something that brings her joy. It is written all over her face!

While Autism affects so much of her life and her abilities, not even Autism is powerful enough to cover what lies beneath. ❤

 

The Summer of Sarah

This morning Sarah raced to the bus arms flapping like she was a bird. She reached the bus doors before the bus driver had an opportunity to open it and Sarah clapped her hands in glee. When the doors open, she bounded up the stairs and took a diving leap into her bus bench seat.

This is a happy Sarah!

This summer we have some “Happy Sarah” moments that I want to share with you. We know it is because people are praying! While we did struggle with increased OCD behaviors this summer, enough that we needed to increase her OCD meds, it is these “Happy Sarah” moments that are like a breath of fresh air.  It is these little pieces that make you laugh, gain perspective and encourage you.

I have shared with you how the car would make Sarah cry (Sarah blog “Hands Free Calling“). She would start her high pitch whine and she would not stop until we were out of the car. Thank you for praying for her on this issue. This is Sarah now:

This is Sarah with her head out the window enjoying the summer sun! What a difference! Sarah also enjoys waving at herself in the side view mirror.

She also enjoys dancing to music in the car:

She has got some moves!!!  The song we are listening to is called “The Point” by ‘The Lasting Hope’ –(A Christian band I heard at Big Ticket Festival) When you get to the chorus, that is when Sarah started dancing. 🙂

In Sarah’s prayer blog “She a Babe”, I shared how Kendall has been taking Sarah out to stores. A few weeks ago she took Sarah to the Salvation Army to look for some clothes. Sarah picked out a few things and they went to try them on. At one point, Kendall left her in the dressing room to find more clothes. She was further away in the store, but she heard Sarah from the dressing room saying loudly, “You look like a PRINCESS!!” Kendall raced back to find Sarah checking herself out in pink skirt.  She didn’t get a photo of it, but she did get this of Sarah trying on a pair of pants that she was quite pleased with:

Needless to say, Kendall bought the pink skirt and these pants. They were each a $1. If you can feel like a princess for only $2, BUY THEM!

Thank you for your continued love and prayers for our girl! Like marathon runners looking forward to the people on the side lines holding cups of water out for them as they run, these moments are our cups of refreshing water on this marathon with Autism.  They are sweet reminders of our Lord of this precious gift He has given to us with Sarah. She comes with challenges, but the benefits are worth it. It reminds me of Psalm 4:7a:

“You have filled my heart with greater joy…”

It is as if these moments the Lord pours these ‘greater joy’ times into our hearts to sustain us.

The Summer of Sarah has been just that. Greater joy! 🙂

Giver of Good Things

“Here you go!” Another dandelion was thrust into my face.

“Oh how pretty, thank you!”, as I held my growing dandelion bouquet in my hand.

Our backyard was a carpet of yellow dandelions and the kids were on the hunt to collect them all.

I would ‘ooo and ahh’ over each one. I rubbed a few flowers under their chins ‘to see if they liked butter’ (I am not sure why we do that with dandelions, but we do.) The kids would be so happy that their chins turned yellow because they wanted me to know that, in fact, they did like butter.

Then they would race back out to the yard to find more yellow flowers.

Sarah, around 4 years old at the time, was in the backyard with the kids and I thought she was also picking flowers. When the kids came up to me with their flowers, Sarah came as well. Each kid dropped their flower in my hand. Sarah was the last one.

I held out my hand. Sarah looked at me, looked at her hand and dropped the contents into my hand.

I was expecting a flower but it turned out to be the biggest bug I have EVER seen!

I screamed, not just a shriek, but a blood curdling scream. I chucked the flowers straight into the air as I got up and ran. I did a dance of wiping my arms and legs just in case the insect was still on me.

(When I was growing up I was playing in a neighbor’s abandoned car and it had a wasp nest in the back seat. I was only stung twice, but now have a HUGE fear of insects.)

Sarah looked at me like I was so strange….she gives me that look a lot! To her, she gave me her gift and she was proud of it.

The kids still tease me about my reaction to her gift that day.

Recently I was speaking to my co-worker who is an Associate Pastor at the church I work at and we were discussing Psalm 51.  Psalm 51:10 is one of my favorite verses, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

He mentioned, though, the struggle of Psalm 51:8b. “…let the bones you have crushed rejoice.”

His comment stayed with me. For days I wrestled over this verse. Crushed bones is pain, crushed bones is anguish. It is place of excruciating pain in your life.

I think we have all been there; that place where you struggle to catch your breath.

What is my reaction, though? In that space do I truly rejoice? Do I thank Him for the ‘crushed bones’ in my life? Or do I complain to Him, telling Him it’s not fair and I ‘deserve’ better?

I come back to the truth that I know He is a good Father and gives me all that I need.

I am reminded of Matthew 7:9, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

As much as I try to give good gifts to my kids, just like Sarah gave me what she thought was a good gift; I could never out give my Heavenly Father.  He continues to give me good things, and as challenging as this is, this includes a life with autism.

Autism has been a bone crushing experience, but I have seen a faithful Father be ever so tender with me. He has provided and taken care of us. I have witnessed daily the power of prayer of people faithfully praying for our girl. I have seen my faith deepen when the path before me was dark and I was at a loss of what to do for her. I’ve clung to the One who is Faithful and True as I desperately needed Him for strength and guidance. It has been bone crushing, but I rejoice because I know my Father. He is the giver of good things!

She a Babe

My phone flashed that I received a video.

It was from my daughter Kendall.

I chuckled as I saw it was a video of Sarah with the caption “She a babe.”  (Yes, you read that correctly.)

I opened up the video to see Sarah trying on sunglasses at a drug store. She was quite pleased at herself as she posed in the mirror that was on top of the sunglasses carrousel. She was making a peace sign with her two fingers and saying “cheese” into the mirror.

Kendall was supposed to pick Sarah up from my sister’s house and take her home. David and I went to Jim’s university to see Jim play lacrosse and we were juggling who was watching Sarah.

Why was Kendall not home with her?

I called from the game “Hey, what’s up? You took Sarah out???” I try to avoid taking Sarah out as she usually cries and can make a scene.

“I picked her up from Aunt Leanne’s but then I thought Sarah might enjoy going out. I took her to Subway for lunch. She danced in the store! The employees thought she was so funny! We walked around the city’s downtown park and Sarah was strutting and posing on the sidewalk. It was hilarious!! I then took her to RiteAid and she was trying on sunglasses. I LOVE HER!!”

When I got home from Jim’s game Kendall showed me the video of Sarah walking in the park. She walked fast with her head down and then she stopped, looked up and posed with her hand on her hip as if she was a model walking the catwalk. Where did she learn that?!?! It was funny and adorable!

I laughed but a wave of conviction came over me. I’m an adult and her mother and I’m reluctant to take Sarah out, but here is her twin sister giving her a girls’ day out!

It comes down to the fact it takes work to take Sarah out and sometimes I am too tired, too lazy or too willing to take the path of least resistance. It is humbling to be challenged by your teenage daughter, but sometimes a humbled spirit gives you that push you need to break out of your comfort zone.

Currently I am studying the book of Ruth. Ruth could have taken the path of least resistance and done what her sister-in-law had done and stayed with her people. But Ruth didn’t. Ruth stepped out in faith and went with her mother-in-law to Israel. Ruth humbled herself by gleaning the leftovers in Boaz’s fields to feed them both. She humbled herself by following her mother-in-law’s instructions and approaching Boaz to ask him to marry her.

Personally, I would struggle with what her mother-in-law, Naomi, suggested. And while her heart might have been pounding as she made her way to Boaz’s field, Ruth’s response to Naomi was, “I will do whatever you say.”(Ruth 3:5)

Her response is refreshing. Instead of refusing and giving Naomi all the reasons of why she couldn’t, Ruth’s heart was one of openness and humble obedience. Over and over again Ruth did the uncomfortable and stepped out of her comfort zone. Her story inspires me; her story challenges me.

So I am making a conscious effort to take Sarah out more. I realize that in less than 5 years all the kids will be in college and this will be my new normal with her. So far we have gone to lacrosse and softball games and she is doing very well! She sometimes yells out phrases that only make sense to her, but she isn’t crying!

My favorite thing she has done so far is at her younger brother’s high school lacrosse game when she stood up and started clapping to a song played over the loud speaker. The song talks about clapping your hands. Sarah heard it, stood up and started to clap. She looked around puzzled wondering who was asking her to clap.

I smiled at my sweet girl and thought Kendall is right, “She a babe.”

God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5

Strengths

There are times when I laugh so hard, I snort. I try to hold it in, because it certainly isn’t ladylike, but I just can’t help it.

Yesterday was one of those days.

We had some plumbing issues. To fix it we needed to cut open our bedroom’s closet wall to gain access to the pipes in our shower, which meant that we had to clear out everything on my side of the closet. This exposed a weakness of mine, I keep anything and everything that our kids did or made. If a project at school or at church had my child’s handprints on it, I saved it.

David nicely, sweetly, gently encouraged me to purge some things from my four drawer cart that I keep all the kids keepsakes; one drawer for each kid. But, as I went through the drawers it brought back a flood of memories.

One of the keepsakes I found was from Kendall sharing her strengths when she was in elementary school. It listed out 28 things she thought she was good at. It started out fine: “I’m good at baking, school, making people laugh…” But, then she said things that really did make me laugh: “I’m good at watching TV, thinking, eating food.”

Then I read the next one on the list and the snort laugh came out…

“I’m good at breathing.”

She sure is! She doesn’t even have to think about it! (Though, ‘thinking’ is a strength of hers!) She is that good at it!!

At my work we have been going through our strengths to see how God made us and how we can be more effective as a team. I have found this fascinating as I see how God has made me. While I have done personality tests before, this test, I feel, was spot on about how I am wired. It was a confirmation to me about my college degree, why I like to work with certain personalities and why I love and feel called to work at a church.

Yet, on this Autism journey, I feel like in my humanness I am weak. People have said to me, “God gave you Sarah because He knows you can handle a special needs child; I know I couldn’t.”

While I know that is compliment, I don’t feel like I am strong. There are days that I feel like in my own power, I am very, very weak.

It reminds me of a very low point on this journey. I had had it. The weariness and weight of life, the constant screaming of Sarah, her poop smearing on walls, the financial burden of the cost of her care all became too much. I was walking into the living room and heard a crash in the kitchen. I knew Sarah had gotten into something. (It turned out she swiped plastic cups and plates off the counter unto the floor.)

“Really?” My heart sank, tears welled up in my eyes as I sighed and started to drag myself into the kitchen to see what she had done.

Just then my knee buckled from my weariness and I thought I was going to fall. I felt someone behind me, catching me, picking me up from under my arms and putting me back on my feet. I quickly turned around to see who was behind me, but I was by myself. I will never forget that moment. It truly was,

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

That day will ever be on my heart as a reminder that Christ is my best strength over anything I face! I don’t need a personality test to know that. He continues to infuse me with His strength and remind me He is always there!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13

To Be a Katherine

I did a double take as I dropped Kendall off at her friend’s house for a birthday party/sleepover when she was in 7th grade. Her friend Katie, the birthday girl, took me by surprise. I caught my breath when I saw this young girl’s face and I recognized who she was.

“Katherine?” I hesitantly asked.

“Yes.”

“You’re Katherine?” as I put my hand to my heart.

“Yes”, she looked at me with such a puzzled look. Her mom, who was in the living room helping all the girls unload their sleeping bags and tote bags, came to the door with the same puzzled look.

I couldn’t help it. Tears started to well in my eyes as I looked at Katie’s mom and said, “Your daughter has a very special place in my heart.”  I confused her even more because we had never met before and she and Kendall became friends during this current school year.

I explained to them why. When Sarah was in 3rd grade and she had the most amazing experience!  Her autism impaired class was integrated with Katie’s 3rd grade class.  These general education kids learned side by side kids with special needs and learned to accept them.  I told them how one parent in the class told us that her son who always struggled in school gained confidence as he saw and helped children with tougher issues than he had.

Sarah found a friend in Katie (Katherine). Katherine loved to read and Sarah’s teacher said Katherine would sit down in the reading nook in the classroom and Sarah would join her. Sarah loved to be around Katherine and Katherine accepted her for who she was. Sometimes Katherine read to Sarah and sometimes they just sat together while Katherine read to herself. Sarah’s teacher said that she caught Sarah picking up a book trying to imitate Katherine reading. She said it was so sweet to watch. Sarah adored her and Katherine was the first non-related friend Sarah had ever had.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Katherine began to help Sarah learn to read. Sarah would copy what she was saying and soon Sarah was reading ‘ICanRead’ books! Her teacher said that Sarah would listen and do whatever Katherine taught her. She said the look of pride on Sarah’s face was priceless!

I loved how Katherine was not afraid of Sarah or Autism. She wasn’t afraid that she was going to “catch” Autism, but saw Sarah as a friend and wanted to help her.  Sarah learned how to read because a girl named Katherine took the time to work with her.

By the time I finished my story, Katie’s mom and I were both crying and we hugged.

I told her, “You will never know how much your daughter’s kindness has made a difference in our lives.”

Her act of kindness has stayed with me. I shared her story when I spoke for several years to 3rd grade students at a local public school about Autism Awareness.  The school wide program was called “Everybody Counts” and each grade at the school learned about a disability. (It was a great program! I wish my kids’ elementary school had it!)

I would talk to these students about Autism and its common characteristics, and then I would share Katherine’s story.  Afterwards, I would look directly at the students and asked them, “Will you be a Katherine?  Will you be kind and be friends to a child with special needs just like Katherine did?”  As I stared into these little eyes, their heads would nod in agreement with such heartfelt emotion.  It was so sweet!  I shared with them that autistic children, while different from them, are kids too, and just want to be friends and accepted.

To be a Katherine! One girl’s actions inspiring others on how showing kindness can make such a difference in others’ lives! I wonder if any of those kids remember her story and showed kindness to others. What an amazing ripple effect that would be! No matter what, Katie’s actions are still felt today in our lives! I don’t know if she has forgotten this, but we never will! She opened up Sarah’s world just by being kind and being a friend. She might have thought what she did was small, but it meant the world to us!  Like your prayers!  Your prayers for Sarah truly mean so much to us! It is the lifeblood and encouragement to us to keep going on this Autism journey. We can never thank you enough; we are seeing such a difference in her!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

Picture (Im)Perfect

I love seeing photos of my family and friends taken by professional photographers. My favorite family photos are the ones taken in autumn with the changing colors of the leaves as the picture perfect backdrop. Truly beautiful!

It reminds me of a photo shoot we had at Sarah’s Autism therapy center when she was five years old. The Center hired a professional photographer to take photos of our families. This photographer was amazing! Children with Autism do not always cooperate, but she was patient, kind and came prepared. She gave me the proofs of the photo shoot and I treasure them because they reflect what our lives were like at that time.

These are scans of the proofs so the quality is not what I would like, but it will give you the idea.

I call this one ‘Mesmerized’:

mesmerizedsarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

The photographer had a plastic gun that when she pushed a button on it, bubbles would float out of the nozzle. She used it to gain the children’s attention and to get them to look at the camera. My children acted like they had never seen a bubble before. I was standing next to her, waving my arms and saying, “Smile! C’mon! Look at the camera! Over here!!” Nothing; my children were totally mesmerized by dollar store bubbles.

I call this photo “Nitpicking”:

sarahtoe.jpg

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

Why look at the camera when you can focus on your brother’s big toe?

This one, one of my personal favorites, is called “Rockstar”:

rockstarsarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

I have no idea what song was in Sarah’s mind at the time, but she was rocking out to her own beat.

You go, girl!

(I love that her siblings do not seem affected by Sarah’s personal dance party.)

This photo I call simply, “I give up”:

igiveupsarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

There are times when I compare my mothering of Sarah to the titles of my kids’ photo shoot.  “Am I doing enough? Am I enough for her?”  If I become mesmerized in my mind on all the things I am not doing, I will lose focus on what God is calling for me to do today. I can nitpick at all my faults and tell myself I am no “rock star”, but then I will lose sight of how He has been my continued strength in my weakness. He created Sarah and He created me to be her mom. I might want to give up, but He reminds me how far we have come. (This blog has been such a wonderful reminder and encouragement of His continued faithfulness!) So with a deep breath and a proper perspective of who I am in Christ, I reach out for His Hand as He continues to lead me down this road.

This life is not picture perfect, much like this photo shoot, but I treasure it!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

 

“The Winner”:

bestonesarah

Photo credit: Sherry Kruzman Photography

Every Life is Precious

I love studying history. I get that love from my Dad who taught history and US government for over 30 years.  There are some moments in history, though, that make me physically ill. One of those times was hearing about the Nazi program called ‘T-4’ that claimed over 200,000 innocent lives. Special needs children and adults that were deemed ‘useless’ to the Nazi society were murdered via gas chamber, lethal injection or most cruelly, starvation. It was believed that this program was the training ground of the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution’ plan. On the United States Holocaust Memorial Website (www.ushmm.org) there is a photograph of doctors around a person in one of these ‘T-4’ institutions with the caption that translates “Life only as a burden” as the sick propaganda and ‘justification’ of their evil act.

Viewing this time in history with the fresh eyes of having Sarah makes my stomach drop. My heart aches for these families that lost their loved ones because they were viewed as unworthy of life. I wonder how many mothers mourned for their special needs child for the rest of their lives.

This past Sunday was ‘Sanctity of Life’ Sunday. Our church bulletin had the title “Celebrating Sanctity of Human Life: EVERY LIFE is precious.” My thoughts immediately went to Sarah and that her life is just as precious as anyone else’s. It is just different than the norm.

Many churches on ‘Sanctity of Life’ Sunday, quote Psalm 139:13-16 to describe how our God made us. Jerry Bridges in his book, Trusting God Even When It Hurts, says Psalm 139:13-16 needs to be read as one thought. He paraphrases it:

“God created our inmost being and fashioned us in our mother’s womb so that we might be equipped to fulfill the plan that He set out for us even before we were born. Who you are is not a biological accident. What you are is not a circumstantial accident. God planned both for you.” (pg. 166)

Sarah is not a biological or circumstantial accident. God has a plan for her life and while it looks different than other lives and has more challenges, it is just as precious.

Sarah brings us such delight. Last week, Kendall was teaching Sarah the multiplication table of 7 x 3 just for fun. Over and over again Kendall sang a tune that ‘7 x3 is 21’ to Sarah. She then said, “Okay, Sarah, what is 7 x 3?” and began to sing her song of ‘7 x 3 is…..’ and waited to see if Sarah would answer. Sarah was working on a puzzle at the time and with a sparkle in her eye looked at Kendall and then back down at her puzzle and sang back to her ‘22’. Kendall and I both started to roar in laughter. Sarah looked up and had this smile on her face that she knew she was being silly.

I thank the Lord for Sarah. She has enriched our lives for the better. I am thankful that our society has schooling and therapy options for her and other special needs people. I am thankful that people have a passion for teaching special needs individuals and have made it their career to teach, help and improve the quality of life for those with special needs.

Every life is precious. I couldn’t agree more!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

Gift Wrapped

A few years ago I went to the Amazon website and saw that I had 334 items in my ‘cart’.

What?!

I clicked my computer mouse over the image of the grocery cart in the far right corner to see how I could possibly have that many items.  As I began to read all that was in my cart, I laughed.

Scroll after scroll, page after page, I saw a certain theme and knew who did it. It was all things Barbie, My Little Pony and even a pink Power Wheels electric car!

“Oh I see Sarah really wanted the Holiday Barbie. She has 3 of that doll in the cart.” I said laughing to Kendall as we viewed Sarah’s wish list.

I deleted everything in the cart and was very thankful that I do not store my credit card on my account. I was telling my friend and fellow mom on this Autism journey what Sarah did and she shared with me her story.

Her son, Jonathan, is a friend of Sarah’s at her school and he, too, saw a few things on Amazon that he liked. Jonathan clicked away and then found my friend’s credit card to finalize his purchases. He said nothing to his mom about it but was very excited when the deliveries began to come to the door.

She knew something was up based on Jonathan’s reaction.

As she opened one of the boxes she saw the packing list she knew what Jonathan had done. When she began to pull the items out of the box, all of them were individually gift wrapped! After all, in Jonathan’s mind they were gifts to himself!

His birthday was coming up so my friend gave him some of the items for his birthday and saved the rest for Christmas–after she told him to never do that again!

At Christmastime, I look back at this past year and am so thankful for the family and friends that have prayed so faithfully for Sarah. I am humbled and in awe of the power of prayer in her life! While she still has some issues and struggles, she is doing so much better!

It is also during this time I think of the best gift that I and the entire world has ever received was not gift wrapped in wrapping paper and a bow, but rather was wrapped in swaddling clothes and found lying in a manger. Jesus, our Savior and the promise of God’s redemptive story, is the best gift! When I think about how I am ‘making it’ on this Autism journey it is because Jesus is my source of hope, joy and peace.

Hope, joy and peace; the very things we hear around Christmastime because they reflect the One we celebrate!

Merry Christmas!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12