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This is a story of a very special gift. It was not a gift I would have chosen; it was a gift God chose for me. And as you know, or perhaps will be given the heart to know, gifts that God hand selects are the best gifts you will ever receive, even though it often takes time to gain a heart of wisdom. My Gift was given to me on 21 January 1987. His name is Chad Timothy. He is my beloved son and he came wrapped in autism. Written over a period of twenty six years, I have occasionally shared bits and pieces with other hungry hearts. One such heart summed it up best by calling it a "diary of glorious darkness." You may have been given a similar glorious gift, though unwanted and with a "no return policy." Don't throw away the gift just because God's wrapping paper looks different. Discover the gift in the darkness. Discover a life much bigger than you dreamed it could be. Discover a life of grace without yourself at the center. Are you and your autistic child cosmic jokes or is there a plan you cannot see? A plan so vast your mind's too small to comprehend the grandeur of it all? Come into my living room and join me as I unwrap my Gift from God. Perhaps it may give you the courage to open yours. And maybe, just maybe, an answer to that "why" question that haunts you. (A box of tissues may come in handy.)
About the Author
The library of my one room country school, though teensy, boasted glorious tales of a life beyond the reaches of my small central Minnesota farming township. Surely there was a world out there worth exploring. My family lived in financial poverty only; we seven siblings lived larger than our surroundings, even papering the old outhouse with Wordsworth sonnets. You may have read about people like me. I did walk or ride my 20" Schwinn a mile and a half to school each day (weather permitting, and it is not true that hills are higher or the snow deeper on the trip home) and cut paper dolls out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. I learned that you can ride pigs if you don't have horses, never raise cucumbers to sell to pickle retailers thinking you will strike it rich, and that it was normal to eat eight meals a day. I also learned there was a God who loved me and died for me and had planned an amazing role for me in His Cosmic Drama. I determined to become His actress and focus my life on an Academy Award performance. I added some fancy schmancy education beyond my one room country school which allowed me the great privilege of serving the marginalized of society in my professional, volunteer and personal lives. It has been my honor to serve at-risk teens, people in poverty, the dying, and mothers of children with disabilities. God blessed me with both successes and failures; heartache, pain and beauty; and miraculous experiences and unbelievable opportunities. One quite amazing opportunity led to my becoming a playwright and lyricist. That should not really surprise you, what with my putting on Christmas plays with sixteen country school cronies half a century ago and taking a year or so of piano lessons from a back woods piano teacher when I was six. (I am self-taught on the flutaphone, kazoo and comb.) Brenden Books are a Haven for Your Heart... With a Side of Whimsy. They are best read with your favorite cuppa coffee, tea or hot chocolate and at least one delectable confection. (This I also learned early on in life on the farm.) You may wish to have a supply of tissues. Tears are the language of the heart and I both write and speak that language fluently. Laughing and chortling are also great for your heart so prepared for full belly laughs as well. And did I mention I wear hats?