Tag Archives: faith

What happens when you yell at church?


Something happened at church. Or perhaps what you need to know is, what didn’t happen.

I pulled up to the church and Max bounced out of the car swinging his favorite vacuum. Several people were unsuspectingly milling around by the front door, exchanging greetings. “Watch out for the people!” I yelled behind Max as I watched his 8-pound Oreck swing like a ten ton wrecking ball. I fully expected to see the crowd part like the Red Sea, people diving into the bushes head first as Max and his vacuum bolted toward them. But instead, they extended their arms for a handshake, or a pat on his back.

Every time I walk through the doors of our church I remember the years we lived in isolation, and the five years of staying home on Sunday mornings when we could not find our place. Autism held us hostage. But it is not a bitter memory; it is the soil from which God grew a victory. When I cross that threshold now with Max, it feels like holy ground. Max comes most Sundays to serve as a greeter, and at the Welcome Center, and as part of the clean up team, otherwise known as the “Grunt Crew.” Max has clearly been given one of the lesser-known spiritual gifts of vacuuming. But what has changed Max’s life is what has changed mine: he is loved. He belongs. He is indispensable. We have been back at church for twelve years now, and none of this has been easy; sitting quietly is not part of Max’s skill set. But it’s as if the whole church is learning to breathe a little deeper, and in that, we find there is enough room for everyone.

After a wonderful and slightly aerobic morning, we could see from our seats at the Welcome Center that Pastor Paul was finishing up the message, or “the talking” as Max calls it. That’s Max’s cue. He flew into the sanctuary and took his position in the back. This is Max’s spot, up several stairs beside the sound booth. He worships there most Sundays, all 190 pounds of him, dancing above the congregation. Most Sundays Max bounces so hard that one would expect him to go right through the wooden platform floor, dunk tank style. But he won’t. Some of the men at church noticed the same risk. They got together one day and reinforced the floor where Max dances. It was months before anyone told me what the men had done. There was no mention of cost or inconvenience; no suggestion that perhaps the sound booth should not be used as a 1960’s GoGo booth. Instead, they just strengthened the floor. Maybe this is what we all want – to find the spot where we belong, and to know that others will hold us up in it. My friend, Pastor Brooks, said to me recently, “We move from a family attending church, to a church that becomes a family.”

Max and I could now see the music team taking their positions on stage. Max started dancing even before the music began, bouncing on his toes as if he were walking on hot sand. He was extra excited this morning, anticipating our church picnic that would follow the service. But when the music started, it wasn’t a dance song at all. Instead, it was slow and piercing, a quiet rhythm that pulled us forward. Everything became still. There was a shift in the room, as if the Spirit was pouring in like a gentle tide, surrounding us, lifting us, washing over our feet. The entire church rose in unison to stand in the deep, with our hearts turned to God. And when the song ended, no one moved.

Well, almost no one.

Max could no longer contain himself. He threw his arms over his head and leapt from the platform. He got some good air and then stuck the landing with the precision of a Russian gymnast. And when he landed, he yelled. Loudly. This was not your average run of the mill shout, or even the kind of noise one might expect when leaping from such a height. No, this was the kind of sound one exerts when instigating a food fight.

“BAR-BE-QUE! Max yelled across the church, his arms still stretched to the sky.

I ducked down to make myself slightly more invisible in the now well-lit church, wishing there were a dressing room curtain I could quickly hide behind.

Through squinting eyes I watched as the church moved in unison once again. But this time every head fell forward, every shoulder curled. It was as if a single rogue wave had crashed over the entire congregation. A moment later those same heads bobbed back up for air with a burst of laughter that filled the sanctuary. And then the most remarkable thing happened. Or perhaps, didn’t happen.

No one stared…or sighed…or scowled. No one even turned around to see where the sound had come from. Instead, every person just wiped the salty spray from their faces and turned to smile at the person beside them. The same sweeping tide that had lifted us to God in worship was drawing us together in love.

Max darted into the crowd and started shaking hands with people as if he were campaigning for office. I just leaned against that reinforced platform, trying to decide if this was completely embarrassing, or achingly beautiful. And then I heard something in the distance. It was a man’s voice, rising above the laughter in the church,

“That’s our Max.”

1 Corinthians 12:18,22  “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”

Thank you friends,

Emily Colson

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. - specialneedsparenting.net

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