As the school year is closing out, I have been reminded lately of all the special people God has placed in our family's life this year that have loved and served us by helping Will and helping us through the diagnosis in October and all that has come with it. One thing I have learned through all of this is that God is faithful and He will provide many avenues of encouragement and help when we don't know what to do. I started keeping a list of the times He has clearly shown us that He's taking care of Will and, looking at the list, it's primarily perfectly placed people. I am so thankful for people who have gone above and beyond for Will or who have simply asked how he's doing or how we're doing. If you're reading this, you are more than likely included on that list. But I'd like to name names:
- Mrs. Dawson and Mrs. Hennings, Will's teachers in preschool. As Mrs. Dawson so often reminds me, she has loved Will from the start. And the start was quite a day. She came to our house to meet Will before school started and Will wouldn't even look at her, much less say hi or talk to her. He has come so far from that day, thanks to her wonderful classroom and her desire to understand and relate to Will. Those teachers have been instrumental in Will's life!
- Marla Chauvin, Tracy Smith, Megan Davis, and Faith Payne. These ladies are current and former students who are our babysitters. But they aren't just babysitters. They love our children, ask about them, and practically beg to babysit. They love Will and Reese so well that Will began to come out of his shell and look forward to when the babysitters were coming, which was a big step.
- Our school district! Everything we read in our autism books talks about "how to work with an unhelpful school district", etc, but we have had nothing but encouragement, help, and love from them. The best part is more than one of them have directly said, "God has a plan for Will" and encouraged me not to give up. Will has a speech therapist and an in-home trainer that have worked hard with him and he has learned so much from working with them. For parents who aren't trained in all this, this is such a blessing for us!
- Sherry Maggard, our preschool minister, has encouraged our family beyond belief. She has let me know she's praying for us and for our children. She has made an environment that Will loves to go to and where he is loved and accepted.
- Donnie and Nicole Fowler. These two had Will in AWANA. I was scared at the beginning of the year that Will wouldn't be able to do AWANA and memorize all those verses, much less speak out loud. But, let me tell you, he has that book memorized front to back and he absolutely loved going to AWANA to see "Mr. Donnie". I could tell him on Wed. morning that we'd be going to see Mr. Donnie and he'd be so excited the whole day.
- My discipleship girls have walked through alot with me this year and were quick to ask about how I was doing and handling everything. They also specifically asked about Reese, which also really blessed me. They were a God-send for me this year!
- Last, but definitely not least, our families have been instrumental. Paula and Angie, for bringing concerns up when it definitely must have been hard to say. Paula also, for always trying to expand Will's horizons. Mom and Dad, for seeing Will as perfect and expressing that to me. Sarah, for being affectionate with Will and your constant attempts to have conversation with Will even when he doesn't answer. Chris and Jen, for your unconditional love for Will and our whole family.
I definitely have learned that there are two perspectives to every situation: the positive and the negative. When I think of all the wonderful people around us and all that God has and is teaching me through our sons, I am filled with gratitude. I wouldn't get to see the hand of God so closely if I didn't have a son with special needs. He is a gift!