Wednesday, September 23, 2015

There are no coincidences: Our family's testimony


 
 
It occurred to me that I hadn’t taken the time to share part of my family’s testimony yet in regards to how the Lord has perfectly provided for us and Jacob. I guess when it comes to finances there is a part of us that always wants to keep it a secret, or maybe its pride, embarrassment, I don’t know.  No matter what the case, I don’t feel like this story is mine to keep as a secret.  What God has done has been nothing short of a miracle for us, and it was certainly nothing that we did.
Let’s start at the beginning.  Jacob was diagnosed with autism.  Cret and I were devastated.  It is beyond scary to not know how to parent, connect, and communicate with your child.  Additionally, you don’t know what do for them as far as treatment and care.  The different opinions are overwhelming.  After much research, we decided whole-heartedly on ABA therapy.  It is the only scientifically proven treatment for autism. Over the years, ABA has proven to increase Jacob’s skills, speech, and engagement. 
Ok, so we decided ABA was best.  There was only one problem. Its $5,000/month or $60,000/year and our insurance didn’t cover a penny.  The most heart breaking and agonizing thing about it was that we knew this therapy was statistically proven to help Jacob in really crucial ways, but we couldn’t get it for him. We asked many people to pray for us and for him. 
For a while we tried part-time ABA, but even that was costing us too much and we saw that he desperately needed more.  Then after begging and pleading with Cret’s work they decided to reimburse any therapy we would pay for.  Well, we didn’t have thousands upon thousands of extra bucks to put down, so after prayerful consideration we felt that the Lord wanted us to sell our home.  The Lord had placed us in a home (our dream home we thought) that year and we were able to sell it and earn enough profit for 1 full year of ABA therapy.  There really wasn’t a legitimate reason for us to have made such a profit being in that home less than a year, except that the Lord had his hand on it.  I asked Cret what we would do after that year for Jacob, when the money ran out, and he told me very confidently that the Lord would provide.  I look back at his faith and it astounds me. I believed him.
Approaching the end of the year we had exactly 3 months left of therapy money in our account.  I can’t express the feelings I had at that time.  We literally had no plan for the end of that year. We began to pray.
Meanwhile, I had a friend asking me for advice.  Her child had been recently diagnosed with autism and she was overwhelmed and stressed and sad.  She wanted to know why.  I had a hard time knowing what to say because I don’t have an answer as to why our kids have autism, but I trusted God.  The next morning I woke up and thought, what if God told me, “Allison, I could heal Jacob right now so that he could live independently or I can be glorified more if he remains autistic.” Obviously, I didn’t think God was really telling me this at that moment, but I had to ask myself what I would say.  At that time I found myself praying for Jacob’s healing more than most things.  Did I really want to glorify God most of all or was Jacob my first priority?  So I began reading about people with disabilities in the Bible.  People that were blind, deaf, and lame were allowed to suffer and then healed by Jesus so that HE could be glorified and show HIS power or exemplify our desperate need for a Savior.  Then I read about Job and how the book shows that we know so little about God’s big picture.  That gave me hope because we can trust in God’s faithfulness and sovereignty and plan for us because it’s bigger than our ideas, hopes, and dreams.  I realized that I needed to trust God fully with Jacob and make God’s glory my priority.  I discussed my conviction with Cret and he agreed.
Soon afterwards, our church rolled out the last step of a plan unlike any other.  The vision for this plan was to be in a position to plant churches and send out some of our own members and money to areas where they are needed permanently. These churches will be their own autonomous churches (not branches of our own).  It’s a vision that gives away our church’s money and members all for the glory of God to spread the Gospel where needed. To make this happen, our church agreed on a plan to be built out and debt free to begin planting.  Many members were giving money in order to make this happen for the Lord.  I want to stress that my Pastor in no way pressured anyone to donate, it was something for each person/couple to prayerfully consider between themselves and God.  If you want to know more about this plan visit http://nehbc.com/futurebecomesclear
When we got home from hearing this plan Cret immediately told me to sit down.  He told me that I needed to pray about something.  He explained that we sold our house to for Jacob’s therapy and that God provided that money for the last several months.  There was no logical reason that we had that much equity in a home we had just purchased.  God did it, so he wanted to give money to God for church planting.  We decided to pray on it and then write down how much we felt we should give separately to see if we were on the same page. Obviously, this money was coming out of savings.  Savings we needed for Jacob. This was the time to choose…God’s glory or Jacob. Not surprisingly, we both had written down the EXACT same number (1/3 of our savings).  This would cut Jacob's therapy down a full month. I started crying.  I couldn’t believe the timing of all of this.  God had just revealed to me that I needed to make HIM my priority and now we needed to literally put our money where our mouth was.  AS I sobbed, I told Cret he had better get to that computer and donate it now before I changed my mind. He laughed, but he went straight to the computer and did it right away. It was hard, but we knew it was right.
The most amazing miracle happened that week.  Literally 2 days later, Cret got a call from a man from our church with a job offer.  Cret had not applied for a job anywhere.  I would say ironically, but it is absolutely no coincidence that this job also happened to offer full insurance coverage for Jacob’s ABA therapy.  Within weeks, Jacob began at a local ABA clinic full time.
God has faithfully provided for us over and over and over.  It is impossible to think that the timing of all of this was anything short of the hand of God.  I know that we may still face challenges ahead, but I am confident God will see us through.  We are so thankful.  Through all of this we have learned that there is no other choice but to trust God's plan for our lives, our finances, our hopes and our dreams.  There is so much more to the story, so much more that I could share about God's goodness, but I will leave it here for now.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Team Jacob's Theme Song

Jordan and Makaylee spent a lot of time writing all the lyrics to this amazing song to try and raise donations for our team for the Autism Speaks Walk.  Please listen, share, and donate if you feel led. I am so proud of these girls for using their amazing talents and time to try and help. Thank you for your support. Click this link to donate:
 
video
 
Here is the link to see them featured in the Autism Speaks blog:
 
Here is the video's youtube link:
 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My 5 yr old's BFF is 23, and I'm ok with that!


Something remarkable happened yesterday. Jacob made it clear that he has his very first BFF.

Jacob rarely expresses interest in people.  We always get pumped up when he requests someone because its such a rare event. Sometimes he asks for Mommy or Ms. Misti or Daddy, but once he sees them it is a short lived excitement.  My sister-in-law always gets so excited when Jacob runs up to her to give her even a quick hug.  He just isn't that in to people. He fixates on certain items or toys that holds his interest at that specific moment.  He loves electronics, but he just doesn't care much about having friends yet.  That's pretty much what autism looks like for many people.

Lately, however, Jacob has been requesting his old therapist Summerr.  Words cannot describe the type of therapist she was to Jacob.  I've been told that sometimes therapists/students bond a little more with particular teachers/children they work with and this was no exception with her and Jakey.  He instantly loved her, her energy, her silliness, her singing.  She is a special person through and through.  But as our lives changed, we had to switch therapy companies and no longer could keep Summerr on with us.  I am pretty sure I cried for a month about it.  Summerr brought out a silliness in Jacob that we had never seen, she got him to say things we never could, she played games with him that he refused with others.  She was just that good. 

The other day I called Summerr and asked her to babysit because Jacob has not stopped requesting her.  A human.  He was requesting a particular human over and over.  I mean, this is big.  So she agreed and what happened was simply magical to me. 

Jacob was playing on Cret's IPhone as she pulled up. Anyone who knows Jacob, knows that getting him to voluntarily give up an electronic doesn't happen.  As she walked up, I yelled to Jacob, "Summerr is here!" He instantly dropped the phone and ran to the front door with a smile I have rarely seen on his face, and never about a person.  He waited until she came in and gave her a huge hug and kisses.  Then as I showed her around he ran into the game room to grab his giant old therapy table and tried to lift it up to bring it to her, as if he wanted to get right back to work with her (because that's where they always used to play).  I don't know, maybe its just me, but moms who have kids in therapy all day know they don't usually request more therapy.  LOL So, it just continued from there.  He rode on her shoulders and would keep looking down at her face to make sure it was still her.  He kissed on her and read to her and made her play with him.  He even snuggled with her at bedtime and Jordan said she saw him grab Summerr's hand.  It was his first time ever to play with a friend for longer than 2 seconds.  My heart is so full I could just explode. 

So, his BFF happens to be 23 and I happen to be really excited about it.  I know most moms wouldn't want their child's best friend to be an adult, but I guess sometimes that's what autism looks like.  It is different, it's challenging, it's special, and it's so rewarding.  I am so thankful that the Lord put this wonderful woman in our lives and that she loves Jakey so much. 

God, thank you for therapists and special education teachers that truly invest their lives in these precious kids.  Raise up more teachers who genuinely care because they make such a difference. Thank you for Summerr.  Please continue to bless her life as she blesses others.