Learning To Live
A Bold Christian Life
And seeing evidence that God answers prayer
My life has been one answered prayer after another. I didn’t see it until many years after the fact, but as I reflect on it, I can see God’s fingerprints everywhere.
As mentioned on my general bio, I was born in August of 1969 in the state of Massachusetts. My Dad was in the Navy at the time, so my Mother and I lived in Florida while he was out at sea. I’m sure that she could tell this part better than me, because I was only 13 months old and am just retelling a story that she told me.
She had recently moved in to a new apartment, with her sister in Florida. One day, and this might have been their first day in the apartment, I needed my diaper changed. My Mother put me on the changing table and began cleaning me up.
When she turned around to grab a new diaper and then turned back, I had disappeared and she noticed the window next to the changing table was swinging back and forth. I had fallen out of the window and we were two stories up!
Needless to say, my Mother started to freak out, because she thought that I had been killed. She found out later that she had jumped over a six foot fence to get to me!
She picked me up thinking I was dead and started walking up and down the street crying out that she had killed her baby.
What a traumatic event that must have been!
I don’t remember anything about it. Apparently, I had landed in some hay, not more than a foot away from a chicken wire fence. I may have gotten the wind knocked out of me, but was otherwise unhurt.
Some people would chalk this up to good luck, but I know better now. There is no such thing as luck. My Wife and I like to call them God-incidences. He had a plan for my life and no mere two-story fall was going to deter him.
He provided a soft landing, and I am still here to praise him for it.
God knows when you are headed for a fall and provides just the right landing place.
My Mom and Dad had another child and I had a new sister. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last and they were divorced. I may have been around 2 or 3 when that happened.
Fast forward a couple more years and my Mom got remarried and I now had a new Step-Dad. I still saw my biological Dad throughout the years and still have a relationship with him now. I can still see the pain in his eyes when we get together, which isn’t very often, unfortunately.
During my Mom’s marriage to my Step-Dad, there were two more children born and now I had another sister and a brother. I was also adopted, by my Step-Dad, when I was six so Austin is not my birth name.
When I was nine years old, my Mom and Step-Dad also got a divorce. After a three year battle for custody, the only solution the courts could come up with, was to split us up. Me and my sister would go with my Mom and my two younger siblings would go with my Step-Dad.
Well, my Mom just couldn’t bring herself to allow us to be split up, so she gave custody to my Step-Dad and agreed to visitation rights. All four of us went to be with her on the weekends and stayed with my Step-Dad during the week.
Now I won’t say that all was peachy and I got along great with my Step-Dad, because it wasn’t. I held a lot of resentment towards him, in the early years, after the divorce. That being said, I never considered him to be my Step-Dad. I always considered him to just be my Dad. I hardly remember my bio-Dad, when my Mom was with him, so my Step-Dad was and is my Dad to this day and I love him dearly. Going forward, I will call him Dad and I will call my biological Dad, Papa.
My Dad confesses that he does not believe in God and yet, he took us to Church throughout our childhood. We were raised Catholic and I performed all the Sacraments up until and including Confirmation, as did my siblings.
As a side note, I am no longer a Catholic and will write an article about why that is, at a later time. Let it suffice to say, for now, that it focuses way too much on Works based salvation and that is not what the Bible teaches.
Anyway, this story may not sound like much, but for an unbeliever to bring his kids to a Church when he would rather be somewhere else, sounds awfully Christian Fishy to me.
I actually chalk this one up to God’s providence. He started my training very early. I just didn’t know it yet.
God prepares you for the future he knows is perfect for you even when you are too young to know what’s happening.
We are now at the part where one of my email messages covered a portion of my life. Since this has already been covered and can be read on my blog or by reading the email update, I will only go into a short summary of these events.
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You can see the article in full here:
Now I’m 13 years old and have been settled in to the family routine for around four years. During this time, my Mom is working at an institution where people send there mentally and physically handicapped children, to be cared for. Many of these children had been there for their entire lives and were now adults.
On many occasions, we would visit her at work and participate with her, and the residence of the facility, when they would do things outside. Over time, I felt something in my heart for these people. Many of them had been abandoned by their parents and had not received any visitations from them in years. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could do that to their kids.
Well that was enough for me. I remember praying to God that, if it was his will, I would have a “Special Needs” child, when I was old enough to be married.
Many years had passed and I had long forgotten that prayer. Knowing now, what I didn’t remember then, I can see that God did NOT forget that prayer. He answered it!
Obviously, the answer to that prayer, at the time, was yes, but you’re not ready yet.
Fast forward another seven years and I am a single young man, just about to turn 20 years old. I am out walking around town, trying to attract some unsuspecting young woman, when a neighbor of mine sees me and asks if I want to go with her, to pick up her boyfriend from work. Since I wasn’t having any luck finding the woman of my dreams, I agreed to go.
We drive over to her boyfriend’s place of employment, which is in the next town over, at a Pizza Shop. We go in and wait for him to finish up. While we were waiting, his co-worker, a pretty young woman with red hair, shows up at the counter and begins a conversation with my neighbor. Her and I exchange a few pleasantries as well, before I am out the door and headed home.
A few days pass and to be honest, I really hadn’t thought too much about that trip to the Pizza Shop. It is my 20th birthday and my Mom is taking me out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant. Just before we are about to leave, there is a knock at the front door. I open the door and am surprised to see my neighbor and that pretty young woman with red hair standing there.
I explain to them that I can’t visit right now, because I was just about to go out, but will return in an hour or so and would be happy to meet up with them then.
So, my Mom and I went to dinner and then came back home. I called my neighbor and she picked me up, so that we could all hang out for the evening.
As I’m sure you have figured out by now, that pretty young red headed woman, became my Wife.
While I had been out looking for the woman of my dreams, God already had the date setup, with her, ahead of time and revealed her to me on the same day I was looking!
God knows what you need before you do and is at work putting it together, exactly the way you need it, whether you see it that way or not.
Six months, before we got married, my Wife Grace gave birth to our first son. It wasn’t your typical run-of-the-mill type deliveries though.
Grace had fallen on some black ice and this was the second time that this had happened. Just to be safe, we went in to the hospital, like we did the first time, to have a stress test done on the baby. He was already six days over-due.
This time around, something was wrong. His heartbeat was dropping and they determined that an emergency cesarean section needed to be performed.
Fortunately, the surgery went well and Andrew was born. He passed the APGAR tests, but it was noted that there was very little amniotic fluid in the sac with him. We didn’t think too much of that, at the time.
A day or so later, the Pediatrician noticed that Andrew’s kidneys appeared to be enlarged. It turned out that they were indeed and he had to be sent in to the New England Medical Center (NEMC) for further care.
As it turned out, Andrew had a blood clot in the outgoing veins of his kidneys, causing the blood to get backed up, which explains the enlargement. They gave him a blood thinner to try and dissolve the clot. It worked and he slowly cleared out the clotting and his kidneys returned to normal size.
At 12 days old, Andrew had a seizure and it was determined that he also had a clot in one of the veins of his brain that caused it. Andrew had suffered a stroke!
Being young and inexperienced parents, we were petrified at the thought of losing our son, before he even had a chance to live. We cried often.
Andrew had several seizures over the next few years ending with a Grand Mal, full body one, when he was four years old. This one shook us up pretty bad. It lasted for over an hour and a half and the Doctors had to give him valium to stop it. We thought he was going to die that day. They started him on a new seizure medication, at that point, and he is still on it and seizure free to this day. Praise God!!
As of the time of this writing, Andrew is 18 years old. He can walk and he can talk, but he does have severe learning disabilities.
Here is a snippet from my blog and email update:
“He has been diagnosed with Aphasia, Epilepsy, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS), Anti Thrombin III deficiency (AT3), which is a blood clotting disorder that probably caused the initial stroke, and he has been tested many, many times with the determination that he is mentally retarded. He reads at a Kindergarten level with mostly inconsistent results and cannot tell you what day it is.”
Andrew is “Special Needs” and an answer to prayer!
God hears your prayers. God answers your prayers. His answers are simple. They are YES, NO and Yes But You’re Not Ready Yet.
In addition to Grace being the Woman Of My Dreams, she is also the Perfect Mother for Andrew and his siblings.
Grace has Dyslexia and ADD. I am only mentioning that because it is relevant to our kids and to the answered prayers that I have received.
I was one of those kids that always did okay in school. I didn’t have any real “Special Needs” and was able to graduate and go on to college.
As it turns out, being “Normal” is my handicap.
As Andrew grew to school age, I was in complete denial that he had anything “wrong” with him. Since he could walk and talk, very articulately I might add, I just couldn’t see him having any problems.
Grace, however, had been where Andrew now was and could see the signs, WAY before I even had an inkling. She would mention things to me in passing and I would just blow it off and say that she was nuts.
Well, she was right. It still took me a few years to come to grips with it and she might even tell you that I still haven’t gotten there yet. She would be right again!
Andrew’s education was a long and hard fought battle that was almost entirely done by Grace, with help from an advocate for a few of those years. I don’t want to say anything bad about the school system, but suffice it to say that they have budgets and don’t like to stray from them very far and you have to learn your rights as a parent to get much out of them.
Grace is a person that will tell you that God gave her that name to remind her of how much she needs his grace. I say he gave her to me because he knows I need a double portion of Grace just to handle that one prayer request, from long ago.
As of this writing, Grace and I have been together for just over 20 years. We have been through many trials together and we have had many joyous occasions to celebrate too. I would not change one single day of it.
Grace is still exactly the woman that I need. As we have matured, she has become even more of what I need. We are perfect for each other and she is perfect for our children. She is a fighter and a winner. She is full of grace and full of the Holy Spirit. I admire her in so many ways.
Grace is just as much an answer to prayer now as she was when I first met her.
God’s answers to prayers are for your entire lifetime. He is actively forming Grace into exactly who she needs to be to support this family. He is actively forming me into exactly who I need to be to lead this family.
God knew that I couldn’t handle a Special Needs child by myself, so he created the perfect helper, just for me. For that, I am extremely and eternally grateful!
God is active and accessible. He is living and capable. He knows and responds.
In 1992, I was unemployed and I deserved to be. I had been a slacker and only did enough work to get me through the day and did not do any more than that.
Over the years that followed, I moved from job to job, not lasting more than 2 or 3 years at any one place. Fortunately, I was smart enough to make sure I had a new job before leaving the one I was at. Each step generated more money and more responsibilities. I was slowly moving towards the field of my interest, which is computers. I had been self taught since I was nine years old. It was one of the things I did to escape reality, in those days.
Here is a quick list of the significant events that happened over the next decade and a half:
- In December of 1991, a good friend of ours, suddenly passes away, due to a heart attack.
A wake-up call!
In the early Spring of 1992, I walked to work and used this time to pray to God. I prayed that somehow, I would get a job using computers and making $50k per year, by the end of that year. Remember this one!
In November of 1992, Grace’s Dad passes away. A lesson in compassion.
January 1, 1993 – A new job with a lowly position and very little money. A lesson in humility.
January 1, 1994 – Two years later and my prayer had still not been answered! Learning patience.
In December of 1994, our son Tyler was born. Great Joy and a reward!!
January 1, 1995 – Still no answer! More patience.
January 1, 1996 – A new job having nothing to do with computers. A toughening up experience.
In August of 1996, we move in to Grace’s parents house where we rent it from her Mother until we can afford to buy it for ourselves. A lot of work to do, but we are happy to have a home of our own. The beginning of responsibility.
January 1, 1997 – Nothing! Yet more patience.
January 1, 1998 – Hmmm, I now have a job in an office where I do get to use computers. I am not making anywhere near $50k. A hint of answered prayer.
January 1, 1999 – Another new job, using computers, but still nowhere near $50k. Encouragement.
In December of 1999, our daughter Devynn is born. I have my girl!! Great Joy and a reward!!
January 1, 2000 – Same job as before. Received a few raises and promotions, but still far shy of $50k. Learning to do more than expected of me.
January 1, 2001 – New job! Making $45k per year! Hmm, I wonder if maybe God had not forgotten his promise. Still not $50k, but not bad! Sight of the goal in reach!
In 2001, we are finally able to buy the house, from Grace’s Mother. Although this is a joyous time, we now have a mortgage and are a little scared. More responsibility.
On September 11, 2001 tragedy strikes the USA, when two passenger planes are flown, by terrorists, into the twin towers in New York. The very next weekend, Grace and I paint the American Flag on our 22 foot fence, while people drive by honking their horns and shouting out supportive things to us. The country pulls together and people flood into their local churches looking for God and answers. Learning that I am not invincible and neither is my country. More humility.
In November of 2001, my Grandfather passes away, due to cancer. The entire family, including 9 Aunts and Uncles, surrounding him with love. Death is not what it seems.
January 1, 2002 – Same job, same position … $52k per year!! After 10 years, this prayer was answered and the answer was again, Yes, But You Are Not Ready Yet! Learning to be grateful and counting my blessings.
On September 11, 2002, Grace’s Grandmother passes away, almost to the minute that the twin towers were brought down the year before. More compassion.
January 1, 2004 – Another new job doing exactly what I had taught myself to do back when I was nine years old and making significantly more than $50k! God had already answered this prayer, but he didn’t stop there! Learning to go the extra mile.
January 1, 2006 – Yet another job still doing much of the same work. This one is much closer to home and provides much better benefits. Much more administrative work than I had first thought I would have to do, but still enjoyable. Learning to be content with what I have.
Now this prayer may seem rather greedy to you and it certainly has to me, as I have reviewed it from time to time. God didn’t answer this prayer because he wanted me to be successful according to the World’s standards. God granted this prayer, because he knew that I would grow from the experience.
Every event listed here has worked together to make me who I am today. Interwoven with that, was the slow progression of answered prayer. Again, he was molding me in to the person I needed to be to have that prayer answered.
God finishes what he starts. His reward is greater than you can imagine. He wants you to learn from the experiences you have and he wants you to be responsible for what he has given you.
The past few years, while eventful, have been rather smooth. It was during this time that we really started getting in to our local church.
We got involved in our first real Bible Study and suddenly our eyes were opened to things we had never seen or heard of before. When we finally understood the concepts we were learning, our lives changed forever. Our relationship with God, through the life of Jesus, took on a whole new meaning.
I realized that I was not living right and needed to make some drastic changes. We were sinning against a Holy and Just God and thought nothing of it. We had no idea!
I often had the attitude about work, that God would take care of everything and I didn’t need to put my best efforts forward. Why should I, if my salvation and eternity were solidified? I didn’t have to answer to any Boss, when I knew my Father in heaven was taking care of me. Why even try when God was going to do it all for me, because he loves me so much?
Boy was I WRONG!!
There is absolutely no doubt that God loves me. That part is not in question. What is in question is what I thought he expected of me. From the very beginning, in Genesis, God gave dominion over all creation to Adam. He was expected to take care of it and every creature that walked it. He was made to be a good steward over that which he was now responsible for. That means, he had to work. He had to give his very best efforts to take care of what God had given him.
The same is true of us. He gave us the blessings that we have in our lives now. He gave us our Body, our Mind and our Spirit. He gave us our families, our talents and our interests. He also gives us our happy times and our challenging times. All of these things are the gifts that God has given to us, while we are here on this Earth.
What we do with them, is our gift back to God.
So if God gives you a blessing, in one of those areas, are you going to give him back a piece of garbage?
I should hope not, but often times we do just that. We don’t take care of our bodies. We flood our minds with fruitless endeavors and fill it with evil types of entertainment, from TV to the songs we listen to and look at pornography. We don’t study God’s word and therefore strengthen our Spirit enough.
We sit back and wait for God to make all things right, without lifting a finger to help him. Not that he needs our help to do anything, it is our expectations that are flawed. He wants to see what you do with it and in what shape your willing to give it back to him. The shape in which you give your blessings back to God is reflective of the state of your heart towards him.
In order to be good stewards of what God has given to us, we need to remember him before every action and ask ourselves if this is really what he wants you to do.
This is a hard road. It is not easy. He never said it would be. In fact, he said it would be hard. People will hate you because you love him. You will go through trials and tribulations. You may even get persecuted for your beliefs. These things are happening to Christians all over the world right now, as you read these words. People are actually dying just because they love and believe in Jesus.
It doesn’t get easier as you mature in your faith either. The trials and tribulations get stronger, because you are stronger. God is creating an unshakable faith in you that can only be refined with fire, in the form of trials and tribulations.
Do not be afraid of this! Always remember, that God will never bring you to something that he cannot bring you through.
Give your very best to God at all times. This is your gift to him. You will stumble. You will fall and you will fail, at times. Lift all things up to God and he will help you to persevere. You will come out the other side better than you ever were before.
Our fourth child is worth a story all his own. You can read about him here in Our Ongoing Trial.
God Bless and give him your very best in EVERYTHING you do!