Category Archives: Peace

Hope at 3am


Where we find hope, even at 3:00 am -

Dear friend,

I started to write you a charming little story and was halfway through…when Tuesday night hit.

Let me just say that most of our days and nights are good. Not easy, but good.

For the past two months, however, Tuesday nights have been different. It’s as if autism grabs hold of our lives like a 1950’s sci-fi flick, the one with the pretty little plant that suddenly starts eating unsuspecting by-passers. But there are no cheesy special effects here. No curtain to peel back to see what’s behind. It is 2am, and life is loud and messy, all of our tried and true strategies failing.

I breathe in and force prayer into my mind and mouth, to drown out the noise and my ugly thoughts.

I ask God for strength for the next second.

I blow it.

And then I ask Him again.

Finally the raging battle, which is too big to be fought on earth alone, subsides. It is quiet. My son is asleep.

I stand in the bathroom with my toothbrush in hand. I have no energy to fall on my knees, or close my eyes. “This is really difficult,” I tell God as if He were standing in the bathroom beside me, helping me to hold the weight of my toothbrush. “I know you are here with us. I know, even when it is this hard.”

I turn on the television to clear my mind. I watch an ad for a body lotion that will shimmer in the light and make your arms “look thinner and more toned in your holiday dress” the voice claims. And then I hear about a door buster sale, with record-breaking low prices, on toys. More and more toys.

So let me clear through all the clutter and noise – in the midst of the Christmas season, in the midst of your Tuesday nights, or Wednesday mornings, or Saturday afternoons. There is one truth. Jesus.

God sent his one and only Son, Jesus, into this world as a tiny baby. He sent His Son into this world of Tuesday nights, to be our hope. God planned this before He ever created you or me, knowing that this world, and our hearts, would be filled with brokenness and struggle. He knows it’s difficult. He has not forgotten us. He tells us, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” He tells us, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” He tells us, He knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. God sent His Son Jesus into this world so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus is all that is true and noble and right and pure. Jesus is the One Truth left standing when all else has crumbled.

So I will save that charming story for another time. Because right now someone else might be standing in a bathroom at 3am with a toothbrush that is too heavy to hold alone. And if that someone is you, take comfort.

There is One Truth we can hold onto.

It is the same Truth that holds the whole world together.





Max’s Two Words about Autism

Max's Two Words about Autism -

“Max!” I said with the kind of enthusiasm I hoped would be contagious, “We are going to like this new doctor. He has a daughter with autism!”

I tried to mask my own nerves, wondering how we would get through the next-day’s appointment in the city. I watched Max for a reaction as he bounced in his seat and started eating his dinner in a style reminiscent of a wood-chipper. Sometimes dinner in our house is so active that I think our dining room chairs should be equipped with seat belts.

“Max,” I cried excitedly drawing his attention away from the — gluten-free — grain-free — dairy-free — creation that only resembles food by the fact that it is on a plate.

“Who else has autism?”

Max’s eyes brightened. “Max has autism!” he answered, sitting up a little taller in his chair.

“Yeah! That’s right!” I cheered. “So we like this doctor already!”

Our over-zealous dinner conversation hung in the air as I took my first bite of dinner. The word autism has been a part of the conversation in our home since Max was very young. But on this night, when I gave that word a purely positive spin with Max, I felt like a fraud. I’m not telling him the whole story. And in truth, I don’t know the whole story Max would tell me. What would he say about autism?

Thoughts of this journey and the bittersweet sound of the word swirled in my mind. None of this has been easy, yet God has made it beautiful. Autism has been the fertile ground in which God has grown my faith. And it is the ground from which God has brought love and joy and goodness to us, and to others. There have been victories so sweet that I can almost feel myself climbing the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, hands thrown up in the air like Rocky Balboa, shouting that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

And then there are the other times…the not so pretty times…when autism collides with life and I fall face down in exhaustion, in weakness, breathing out one-word prayers that lift above me like a feather in the wind.

“Help.”    “Father.”    “Help.”

And God hears.

God sees.

But…Max. What would he say about autism?

“Max,” I said, placing my fork down on my plate and gently turning toward him. “Can you tell me something about autism?” The question lumped in my throat.

Max took another bite of food, as if he hadn’t heard me. I silently reprimanded myself for such an open-ended question. Max struggles with conversation, and especially with questions as big as this one.

I turned back to my dinner and pushed my food around knowing I could let that question float away unanswered. Maybe I didn’t really want to know the truth. What if he told me it was painful, or that he feels frustrated by the challenges, or even that he is simply tired of it all? Because I’m sure, at times, that is true. But God loves me enough to hear my words of pain and struggle when I turn to him. So Max deserves the same, for me to love him enough to hear his truth as well.

I leaned toward him and slid my hand along the table to gently, bravely, ask for his attention. Max is so handsome, almost 25 years old now, and a Christian; he belongs to God. He has touched more lives with is sweet spirit, and his uncontainable enthusiasm, than most anyone I know. I smiled as I caught a glimpse of his missing sideburn, the result of his overly efficient shaving experience the night before.

“Max,” I breathed, “Can you tell me two things you want someone to know about autism?”

He looked down and, without hesitation, spoke two simple words that left me speechless…

“Love.  Peace.”


By Emily Colson

Photo credit: Kacey O’Gara

Waiting for Wisdom

Asking me to let go of worry, even in the really big stuff of life, isn’t a reasonable request. Maybe, instead, it is a remarkably gracious offer. -

We’re told not to worry, but what about the big stuff?


If I had more closet space, I’d probably fill it with my anxieties. Maybe I’m just expressing my inner Woody Allen, or feeling the plight of single motherhood. But sometimes I wish I had someone to help me with the really big stuff in life. The weight of responsibilities can press against me until I begin to feel like a 90 year-old woman in an Osteoporosis prevention ad. Take your calcium…or you too will hunch over and spend your life looking at your feet.

I brought Max into the hospital…again. He’s seen this oral surgeon before, as well as several others locally. But when it comes time to go forward with the surgery, I always back out. I’m sure he doesn’t actually need his wisdom teeth removed, and the small extra bonus teeth he grew are just signs of an overachiever. Those are practically trophies. I realize that a lot of people have their wisdom teeth removed successfully. And afterward they eat snow cones, watch a couple of movies, feel sore and swollen and call it a day. But they don’t have autism.

And they don’t have me for a mother.

I worry. I fret. I Google. I think of every possible thing that can go wrong, and try to come up with a solution for each of those imaginary problems. And then I try to envision how I will live with the guilt of having been the one that said yes in the first place, the one who started the whole ball of problems rolling by driving my beautiful son to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning for surgery. It’s hard work being me. After several rounds of this emotional aerobics I finally settle comfortably into denial and say, “maybe we will do it next year…maybe.”

But this time we are going forward. We have a surgery date in July.

When I started writing this blog, I wanted to tell you that it is perfectly okay to be scared, and worry, and fret, and micromanage, and still trust God. Because some situations really are bigger and scarier and more fret-worthy. My son will undergo general anesthesia. He will have several teeth removed that he might need later in life if he wanted to, say, chew. He could have a very difficult recovery and there might only be enough drugs for one of us. Many times Scripture tells not to worry, but this is not my category of worry; everyone knows that worry does not count when it is applied to a situation involving your child. A mother’s worry is part of the perpetuation and protection of the human race. It is as necessary as oxygen.

I knew others would agree. So I sat at my computer and Googled, because genuinely, I need someone to help me with the big stuff in life. First, I came across Benjamin Franklin. He was holding a key and a kite, but it was about to storm so I knew he had plenty of time to talk with me. “Ben, what do you think about my strategy?” I asked aloud as I searched his quotes. “Shouldn’t I have solutions for all the unknowns, for the problems to come, just to be ready?

“Do not anticipate trouble,” Ben said, “or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”

“Sunlight?” I said with my eyes wide as saucers. “Ben, it’s about to storm! And you’d better put that key down or somebody’s gonna get hurt. I’m a mom, I know this stuff.”

Let’s type in Joyce Meyer; she might be available. I’ll just throw her a question while I watch her on YouTube. “Joyce,” I said as I stared into my big shiny computer. “Help me. I know you’ve battled worry. And you’re a mom – you get it. Making back-up plans is just how we roll with autism. We’re not supposed to fly without a net, are we?”

And I heard Joyce say, “Worry is another way of saying I don’t trust God fully. I want to have a back up plan here in case He doesn’t come through.”

I stared at my glossy computer screen wishing we were on Skype, or having tea, or braiding each other’s hair. Then I could tell Joyce that her words are filled with wisdom, but they can’tpossibly apply to my situation – a time when my child is going into surgery. There must be a special dispensation for such circumstances, a piece of gold-stamped stationary with a hand written excuse. Max has never been through anything like this before. There are risks. And I’m scared.

I closed my eyes as if to block out the sound of it, the thought of it. I will do everything I can to insure Max has the best doctor, the best care. I will ask questions. I will bring in extra help. But to think I shouldn’t worry about something as big as this?

That isn’t a reasonable request.

I opened my eyes to the blur of papers cluttering my desk. Something caught my eye, a postcard standing out from the white pages like a patch of blue sky. And I read aloud the blocky hope-filled letters imprinted across the front,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. God will be with you and will never forsake you.” From Joshua 1:9

I breathed and sighed and looked up. A little bit of weight began to slip from my shoulders. God is with us; He promises not to leave us. And remarkably, His loving arms are outstretched as if he’s offering to hold the whole messy ball of wax, my anxieties and needs and fears and cactus-like spikes of perfectionism. He’s willing to keep it for me, to put it in His coat-check room so that I don’t have to carry it around.

One by one, I begin to pry my fingers loose. I start to get it. Asking me to let go of worry, even in the really big stuff of life, isn’t a reasonable request. Maybe, instead, it is a remarkably gracious offer.

Emily Colson