How God Works
I hope you didn't start reading this post in hopes that I would share "how God works," because I will never comprehend how God works....but trust me when I say, that God had this story in the works long before I even knew it...
For three years, I worried about Colin. I wondered what was wrong, would he get better, what could I do to help, what would his future look like…I hoped and prayed that it wasn’t autism. I begged God to fix him, to please take away whatever it was.
But God didn’t fix him.
I was angry and upset. Why Colin? Why would God give me this one thing that I said I couldn’t handle? I had prayed so hard and fervently, why hadn’t He answered my prayers?
Then Colin got his official autism diagnosis a year ago. He has made so much progress and changed so much in the last year.
I’ve changed too.
I started this blog: I reached other autism parents. I was sharing stories that other parents related to. I was educating those who had no idea what autism was, what it can look like, and how it impacts an entire family. I was advocating for those who needed it, being a voice for Colin when he doesn’t have one.
Then I wrote a book to share our story.
Then I wrote a children's book to reach a different audience (the little people who are our future for acceptance of those with autism).
Recently, I have been burdened by the lack of services available to children in our state. With autism prevalence increasing this year, there will be more children who need services that are already scarcely available...I get sick just thinking about the number of children sitting on waiting lists, and even worse, those who don't even know that these therapies are available and highly effective. How many children are we literally failing because of this? How many children will not know their true potential because they are not receiving the services that they desperately need?
I told Curtis awhile back, "I wish someone would just pay me to write and talk about autism. Is that too much to ask for?”
Two weeks after I told Curtis about my (what I thought to be an unrealistic) dream, I was offered a job.
I am now the state director of the Mountaineer Autism Project (MAP). MAP is a nonprofit organization here in West Virginia that aims to improve early detection and diagnosis of autism and supports early, intensive behavioral intervention (ABA). MAP provides advocacy, family support, and informational resources.
Wow. Can we say "Dream job?"
This is a God thing, for sure.
I had no idea that this was even a position to be had. I didn't know that there was really a job out there that would allow me to write and speak in order to improve the lives of those on the spectrum. The mission statement of MAP is literally my description of what I wanted to do…and this literally just fell into my lap.
This isn't just a job to me. This is my passion.
The day before this offer came through, my mom looked at Colin and said, "Look at him. You have changed so many lives with that one."
It is amazing how hindsight is 20/20.
Six years ago, the thought of having a child with autism scared me to death.
Then God gave me Colin...with autism.
As the last year has played out, I have started to see God's plan unfold.
He had this planned out long before Colin was even born. He gave me Colin, with autism. That in itself is such a blessing – because I prayed to not have a child with autism…but look at what an amazing blessing I would have missed out on had God answered that prayer.
Not only is God using me to help Colin, but He is using me to help others who are like him. He is using me to help those who aren't as fortunate as we have been (because I am well aware that things have unfolded so perfectly for us, and others aren't always as blessed).
God knew all along. He had this planned for me. I like to reference others’ words of wisdom in my blog, and today I’m stealing one from Mr. Garth Brooks:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talking to The Man upstairs
Just because He doesn’t answer Doesn’t mean He don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are Unaswered Prayers
We can’t always see God’s will, and that’s hard. It isn’t fun, and it’s really difficult for a planner like me. He knows, though. He sees the whole picture. He has a plan. He doesn’t always answer our prayers because He knows that they aren’t in our best interest. That’s a tough pill to swallow and hard to accept sometimes. There were days (and still are some days) where autism and the grief it brings just engulfs me. I question “why,” and I might not ever know why in this life. (But I have a sneaking suspicion that God knew my big-mouthed self could be used in this matter…)
He is always there for us. No, I couldn’t handle autism – but He can.
Our pastor asked today, "How often do you get mad when God's will isn't done? ......How often do you get mad when your own will isn't done?"
Yep, that one stepped on my toes. I am selfish, like we all are. I wanted what I thought was best for me. But in this situation, I can see how God is using my greatest fear and using it for good. He has turned my nightmare into my mission. He has taken this thing - this thing that I thought would be the end of the life I always wanted - and He's using it to put me on a different path - HIS path. Right where I was always meant to be.
I am ready to do big things for children with autism in the state of West Virginia. I ask for all of your support and prayers as I embark on this new, exciting journey. This will definitely be a learning process for me, but I am so excited for the next leg of our autism journey.