This Dream

August 25, 2011

I have this dream. It involves Jesse and I sitting on our couch in the morning. He’s sipping coffee and we are talking about the upcoming things in our day. Then, we hear ‘the sounds’ emanating from upstairs. And soon, six sets of little feet come pitter-pattering down the stairs. We help them grab their bowls of cereal and glasses of milk.  As we all converge around the living area, Jesse prays and reads something from the Bible.

That’s it. That’s my dream. Its simple. Nothing fancy. It has been my dream since I met him – Jesse. I always wanted a lot of kids and when he said 6 sounded fun – well, we were meant for each other. We got married and started building our lives together.

We bought a huge house and got pregnant. Our little lady arrived on the scene.

Around this time, we fell in love with the youth group at our church.  We felt God calling us.  At the same time, Jesse discovered a calling to return to college and study graphic design.  He started a work from home job and went back to school. I started working full-time.  We became the youth ministers at our church and we just felt so excited about the things God was bringing into our lives.  Soon, this little dude came too.  And we were very excited.

Jesse’s work-from-home job became demanding – they didn’t even give him 2 days off for Evan’s birth.  I had a c-section and had limitations – I couldn’t carry anything heavier than the baby.  This made it hard to care for our little ones.  In the end, Jesse had to leave that job.  We moved out of our gargantuan house and into a two bedroom apartment.  Six months later, we were officially in foreclosure.  I started working night shift. I got pregnant. We stepped down from ministry.  The bill tally was $1000 more than we made each month. Peanut butter and jelly was our daily staple.  It began to feel a little less ‘exciting’. 

In my third month of pregnancy, I developed kidney stones.  In my fifth month, overwhelmed by the circumstances around me, I became depressed and suicidal.   Our apartment lease ended and my parents offered to let us live with them. I think ‘very worried’ hardly described my mom’s feelings.

We moved in and welcomed some Good News.

At Evan’s 18-month check-up, the doctor was concerned about his lack of speech.  Soon we sat in a neurologist’s office and listened to his remarks that we were likely looking at ‘autism spectrum disorder’. 

In these moments, I felt so far from the patter of six little feet and Bible readings over coffee. Some days I still feel pretty far from it.  I wonder if it is even worth considering anymore. 

At the beginning of this year, a good friend of our’s prayed for us.  He told us that God was going to restore us this year.  I remember feeling hopeful and doubtful, all at the same time. 

Saturday was Jesse and I’s sixth anniversary.  Unfortunately, with my new job, I had not been able to request it off. However, that morning I received a call saying that I could have the day of.  Lying in bed, I began to think about the last year and the gratitude just overwhelmed me. 

We paid off over $30,000 in debt, when I only made $21,000 the entire year. We moved out on our own. Jesse got a job – a great one. I got a job – a great one, with great hours.  I’m starting to feel restored.  This morning, I had this song in my head:

It’s been a long, hard road these last few years. Yet, it seems we are finally rounding the bend.  In the end, all of the struggle, the pain – it led us straight to Him. We could not have survived it all without Jesus. It sounds hokey and cliche, but He truly has been our Savior. 

Which brings me to Evan…

I just hope this road leads him straight to You, Jesus.

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God has a purpose for giving Evan autism, Ashley. 

You just don’t know what it is yet. 

For the record, I hate those words.  Just don’t even try them on me.  I don’t believe for one minute that God gave Evan autism.  I don’t even believe that God made autism.  Why would a God who is described as love, kindness, grace, etc….give someone autism or even create autism? 

No one has given me a good answer for that question.  The closest was that the good of this situation would far outweigh the bad.  Even that seems unsatisfactory.  Certainly God – omnipotenet and omnicient and omnibenevolent – could come up with a plan that does not include autism.

In fact, I would like to postulate that He did come up with a plan that did not include Autism. 

It went something like a man and a woman in a garden named Eden…

And ends with a man on a cross and an empty tomb. 

He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins.

The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.

And by His stripes we are healed and made whole.

Isaiah 53:5

With a child who has autism, a parent rarely hears the words ‘healed and whole’.  They don’t come in the autism FAQ  or Q&A sections.  In fact, the mantra for most goes something like this.

No cause. No cure.

Rehabilitated at best.

Therapies are expensive and unproven.  Doctors are uncertain.  People respond to the ‘A’ word with confusion and glances askance.  And I hear them describe my child as disabled, when his laugh tells me otherwise. 

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

God can heal autism.  God will heal autism. 

And we will be part of that plan. 

Because we believe…

Jesus replied,

“If you have faith as small as a seed, you can say to that mountain:

‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.

Nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

MOVE MOUNTAIN!