A Miracle for Rebecca/
This little girl had life-changing, life-saving, rare, dangerous surgery yesterday and is starting the long recovery process, after over four years of constant pain and unanswered questions. PRAISE GOD, it went well! I don't know this family well but we have many mutual friends and I've followed their story. It is amazing to see their faith in the middle of real suffering.
In the grand scheme of things, my worries are much less significant and one part of me knows that. However, they're still there and the only way I know to start disarming them is to write about what God has already done.
The holidays are coming. Then February will be here in the blink of an eye and that means it's time to make decisions for school for next year. Walker is five. He turned five 8 days after the kindergarten cut-off so he will already be one of the oldest children in his class. I don't think holding him back is a viable option. He's smart and I think will welcome the academic challenge of it too.
However, the thought of sending that boy to real-live kindergarten terrifies me! I know what kindergarten is like, having had experience with it with the older two. They loved it, it was fun and a good experience for them but I see too well all the pitfalls where Walker could get stuck. The cafeteria is outrageously loud. There is lots of ambient noise in the classroom. There are numerous transitions to new rooms, with new teachers. The rooms are big. While there is structure, there is also more freedom and that's not good news for him. He's high functioning enough not to qualify for services through the school so it will be on the teacher to decide how to provide for him. Terrified is an understatement.
I'm writing this as I spent another car ride in tears realizing that I won't be dropping him off next year in the bubble of protection that is his current AMAZING pre-school. So, I need to remember God's provision for him already and pray and trust that there will be provision in the future. I need to list out every thing I remember about what's been done for him to help me in my unbelief.
First and most importantly, God changed him. I wrote about it here. He is still autistic but SO high functioning. He was most certainly NOT high functioning. One day, he couldn't answer a yes or no question or even understand what I was trying to communicate and the next day he could. This happened while Tom was praying at a men's retreat. Truly, God rescued him from this place in himself where he was unreachable. Today he is a funny, interactive, loving little boy.
When we go to get Hayes at school he's usually still sleeping. Walker likes to gently stroke his hair and sweetly talk him out of his sleep. He now wants to be a helper in a way that he NEVER did. When I came out from putting Hayes down for a nap the other day (a lengthy process) Walker had put away all groceries and was so proud of himself! These are all developmental stages Hayes is in now that Walker hadn't hit at three and a half and was not on the trajectory to ever get there. He was veering a different direction. God changed him and there is no doubt.
Also, the Holy Spirit told me to go be friends with my sweet friend Amanda. She is the one that saw things in Walker I never understood and gave me tools to equip him and our family. I'm not sure I ever would have actually sought help for him because the professionals we'd seen at that point did not guide us down that path. A doctor gave me a handout on anger management and the director of the school he was at told me I should have him pick up rocks as a punishment. Amanda was a voice of reason. Amanda is also a blessing to me because she's such an awesome friend but this is about Walker.
Amanda is the one on the far right, looking like she's about to sprint away because she was. The full marathon started before the half and her race had already begun. I know that she would also like to point out that even though she isn't wearing an official race number she did, in fact, pay for the race.
Another way God provided for us is his wonderful school! He was not able to successfully be in any environment without us. Tom and I had started alternating going to church so we didn't have to take him and I rarely went to the gym because it was such a disaster. All social functions had to be at our house so he could stay in his room or we got a sitter so he didn't have to come with us. Once he entered his beloved Mrs. Marshall's class, all of that started changing. I think God gave her a deep love for him and he flourished! 1 John 4:18 says perfect love casts out fear and one of Walker's biggest issues is anxiety. While you cannot 'love away' all the issues of a child with autism, love goes so far in creating an environment where they can be successful. That confidence translated into other areas of his life and he's able to handle situations where he previously would have fallen to pieces. I can't imagine where he would be without his experience in "The Moose Class." His preschool in general has been a tremendous blessing to our entire family. That is certainly God's provision as well.
One of the therapists that comes to our home for Hayes has great insight into Walker and is a believer. She has spent hours talking with me about different ways to help him and is an awesome resource for me. My awesome friend Megan (far left in the pic above), the only other person I've ever felt led by the Holy Spirit to pursue friendship with, is equipped to be an advocate for him within the public school system, if we need that. She already talked me off the ledge this summer after an unsuccessful stint in summer camp renewed all my fear.
If he does go to the school H and C attend, there is a kindergarten teacher that would work with him. I developed a close relationship with Harris' teacher last year and found she has special education students integrated in to her class this year. I've not had a conversation about faith with her but she is clearly a woman of faith. It's present in all her interactions. She is very funny and constantly cracked jokes and Walker would love that. Harris told her he was getting a haircut after school and she told him bald would be a good look for him, which he still giggles about. She's playful and her class atmosphere is both highly nurturing and highly structured. Whether he will do that I don't know but God's grace in allowing me a glimpse into the heart of a public school teacher that would be willing to accommodate him is merciful. I know they exist.
Caroline is a provision for him, too. She has patience and tolerates his lack of social graces far more than most children would. She is a safe place for him to develop his skills. He trusts her. Why on earth she wanted to push the stroller I have no idea but she was so happy to be doing it!
I feel like the father in Mark 9:
17A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.18Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
I believe, help me overcome my unbelief! I see God's provision for him. I believe he will continue to provide. And I am also terrified because I can't see the next step yet.
For anyone that made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading it. It helps me to write it all down and I'm motivated to put it together coherently by the thought that people will read it.
"For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.