Romans 8:28 has always been one of my favorite verses. When I was young, I believed I understood the meaning. It was pretty straight forward, right? All things work together to make good things, happy things, happen in life. I believed that circumstances will eventually work out exactly the way I want, so long as I loved God, did the right things, was basically a good person. Right?
I kinda didn’t think about the last part of the verse…the “called according to His purpose part.” Yes- I now realize the naivety of that interpretation! 🤦♀️
Life hits and hits hard at times.
I learned that it definitely did not always turn out the way I wanted it to. Thankfully I have learned and continue to learn that our circumstances will turn out the way God wants if we allow Him to work in our life. Ultimately it will be in our best interest for His purpose.
God often uses the very things that are our weaknesses, struggles, and pain to achieve that.
It never crossed my mind as a college student that disability would ever be a part of my personal life. When I was in college, I knew one thing for sure, I did not like working with individuals with autism. They actually scared me. I was a speech-pathology major who quite honestly did not enjoy working with those with severe disabilities. I wanted to work with those cute little kids who couldn’t say their “r” or had a little lisp.
One semester, when I was in graduate school, I had a huge probably 300 pound adult patient with autism. It honestly made my knees knock every time I had to work with him. He loved Neil Diamond. All he wanted to do was listen to his Neil Diamond cassette tapes on his hand held tape recorder and so that is just what we did during his speech therapy sessions! I definitely tried to work on speech goals/life skills with him, but he was easily agitated. I remember sweating bullets, thinking, if he decides to kill me, how long would it take for someone to find me!?! Everything was good so long as he got to listen to his music, which we did…a lot!
Over the course of time and working with articulation and language disorders and those with a variety of other disabilities, I decided autism was the hardest one to deal with! At least to me.
I definitely didn’t want to deal with all that.
God has a sense of humor doesn’t He? 😂
After having a child with severe autism for over 9 years now, I think maybe I’ve warmed up to it! Actually now I feel a sense of connection to all those with any disability and their families. I feel compassion and empathy on a level that I would have never known had God not added Landon to our family.
Am I saying that life is easy now?
No way! If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I have some challenges in dealing with my son’s disability. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Some days the autistic behaviors (aggressive outbursts, bites, hits, kicks, and scratches) leave me in tears and concerns for the future. I truly appreciate the encouragement, support, help, and prayers I’ve received along this journey. God truly has a plan and a purpose for it all along and in the last 6 months or so, God has allowed me to see the very beginnings of the next part of His plan. I’m beginning to see those very first pieces of the puzzle come together.
So for the last nine years, maybe I didn’t see how Landon’s autism, my speech therapy background, and all that went along with it would really benefit anyone or anything. I started writing this blog about 4.5 years ago to encourage others in their difficulties and I’ve had some awesome feedback. My prayer has always been for God to use the writing, and my experiences to encourage others. But if I’m totally honest there were times I felt like there had to be more than being an autism mama warrior. I’ve always felt in my spirit I was supposed to be doing something more. I love to write and encourage others, but there seemed to be something else I was supposed to do. I just couldn’t figure out what the missing piece was.
Things sometimes get a lot worse before they get better, don’t they? That’s honestly where I was about 6-7 months ago. Not much seemed to be going right in several areas of my life.
A few years ago, a speech-language pathologist in the area saw me in SAMS and asked me to come work for her in Early Intervention (EI serves babies from age 0-3.) At that time, I was totally swamped with dealing with Landon’s behavior and medication issues as well as full-time homeschooling my two older kids so I declined her offer.
About 6 months ago, as I said, I was really going through a trying time with several issues, and this particular lady came to my mind. I felt like I should message her and see if she needed any help with speech therapy in early intervention. Crazy, right? Despite the struggles going on in my life, I felt the nudge to do this. Message her. Reach out to her and see what she says. I thought to myself, “this is crazy, I’m sure she doesn’t need help at this point.”
So I did it.
I sent her a message.
I didn’t even have her phone number so I just sent her a message through Messenger.
She responded in a couple of days.
“YES” was her response.
She told me she would still love to have me come work for her. She said she never found the right person to be on her team.
I realized right then that I wanted to do this.
I immediately told her that I have a pretty full schedule still with homeschool and mommy duties I would only be able to work a few hours here and there.
She said “You can work as little or as much as you want.”
“You can set your own schedule and hours.”
She then asks, “How much would I have to pay you to get you to come work for me?”
I’m thinking, “hold up.”
“You want to hire me- someone who hasn’t worked in speech therapy for 17 years- (although I had maintained my certification) and let me decide my hours as few or much as I want-and pay me well for it?!?”
“And would I happen to be interested in working with babies with autism and their caregivers (as well as other disabilities)?”
“Yes, I’d love to work with babies with autism and their families.”
(The organization she contracts with receives speech therapy referrals for babies from birth to three-years-old in need of early intervention.)
“God, I’m in shock.” I said out loud later on that day. “I might be catching a glimpse of your plan and purpose now.”
It isn’t just about me.
It’s about others.
Others who I can relate to and understand now because of my own experiences with disability.
I began seeing some speech therapy babies and their families in August.
I’m excited for the opportunity to serve in this way.
In every patient,
in every family member,
I’ll see a glimpse of Landon,
a glimpse of my family,
a glimpse of God’s plan,
a picture of other image bearers of God.
I am seeing the first little pieces of the puzzle fitting together.
This is something God had planned all along.
I’m familiar with sensory issues, behavioral therapy, many medications and their good and bad side effects, natural supplements, bone-weary caregiving, the effects of a disability on other family members, self-care, spiritual growth, and prayer just to name a few.
Am I saying I have it all figured out?
No, of course not.
But I understand more than I ever did when I was a kid in college. Hopefully in a few years I’ll know so much more than I do now.
I understand Romans 8:28 better now, it just took me a little while to get there. 🙂
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
~Romans 8:28 (NLT)
Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’
~Matthew 25:40 (The Message)