For those of you who don't know, I've had several jobs in the last year. Right after Will and I got married, I got a job working for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama as a Customer Service Representative. Now, I was blessed to get that job in the middle of the year, when school had already started and we needed for me to work. I met some wonderful ladies, and enjoyed my time there. I started in November of 2008, and by the beginning of 2009 I had had my share of moments of frustration with people on the phone who I had bad news for regarding their insurance benefits or rejected claims. They would, in turn, let me have it verbally (for lack of a better term). Needless to say, I was frustrated and a bit burned out.
But, there are many things that my parents taught me. One of these is that you finish what you start. I do not walk away from challenges, or difficult situations.... and that is what this job was. About April of 2009, I had a revelation. It started small with a feeling, and I didn't pay much attention. Soon, though, I realized that the Lord was speaking to me.
Now, His voice is not audible. The clouds do not part, and He does not bellow through a loudspeaker His will for my life. But never doubt that He speaks. His voice clearly sounds in the recesses of my heart. I just have to be listening. Thank goodness He helps me to hear Him.
So, in April of 2009, I knew in my heart that I would be laid off from Blue Cross. This was not insecurity, and this was not fear. The Lord gave me a peace, and let me know that I would be leaving BCBSAL. When, in June they laid off every customer service representative across the state except in Birmingham, I was not surprised. I was thankful that the Lord had prepared me, and that He was calling me to something else.
After a few weeks unemployed (6 to be exact) the Lord led me to a job working as an aide for an autistic child at a private school in town called Churchill Academy. Now this was a whole new world for me. I graduated from Troy University with a degree in Elementary K-6/Collaborative Education, so I was not without experience with special education. But to go into a school where I was not the lead teacher, and work one-on-one with a child who is autistic was something that was a new consideration for me. The challenge was clear.
The Lord took led me through my doubts and answered them with His truth at every turn. He truly showed me that this was my calling for the next year, and that He would give me grace to know how to understand, teach, and minister to this amazing child. And oh, am I so glad that He chose this for me! What an adventure it has been to spend time with Jack, who has truly become a piece of my heart. Every day he greets me with a smile, and says "Watch me, Mrs. Mary Frances!" His beautiful heart is so truly tender, and he has a sweet spirit that longs to love those around him. One of the amazing things about Jack is his love for DVDs and movies. If it is animated, then he probably knows the trailer for the movie, and can quote the entire thing in his movie announcer voice... oh it thrills my heart! While his language skills are still very much developing, He is a whiz at math, reading, and spelling. Autism is still such a mystery, and we still do not know how it occurs, or how best to treat the symptoms. Because of this, Jack often takes breaks to decompress so that he doesn't get overwhelmed. As is common with children with Autism, he does not like chaos, and will cover his ears when things are too loud. If he feels vulnerable or in trouble, he will act out by trying to run to the loft, or fall to the floor and refuse to get up. But if he loves you, he truly loves you... and wants to give you butterfly kisses all day long. He wants to care for those around him. If someone is crying or upset, then he is aware and tries to comfort them, although he is often ignores others throughout the day otherwise.
Now I could go on all evening, but I truly just wanted to show you a little corner of my life. To let you know what my day is like with my little friend, and to acknowledge what an amazing blessing it is to be used by the Lord to help this child learn all he needs in a loving environment. I love spending time with Jack, and I'm thankful that he loves me beyond my impatience and obvious flaws.
The other day, Bonnie (Jack's mom) asked him what the word "love" means. Now, sometimes it takes a moment for Jack to process, and this time was no different. She said that he looked around as if searching for something to reference. Then, suddenly, he looked up and said, "It's good." This brought tears to my eyes. Jack doesn't often describe things. That's something that we're constantly working on. But he knows what love it, and he knows it's good. How precious that this sweet child has such a simple grasp on such a wonderful gift. Love is good. God is good.
My point? God is always good. Good as He leads, good as He makes His plans for us, good as He prepares the way, good as He finishes the task. He always knew that I would be leaving BCBSAL, and he knew that I would work with Jack. He knew that I needed another task, so he provided a place... He always knows.... and He's always good! I could not be more thankful!
Here are some fabulous pictures of my friend Jack. Enjoy!
With friends at the bowling alley... utter chaos!
At the pumpkin patch - Mom's teaching him to use the camera!
Not so much a fan....
A true smile with a favorite DVD - he carries one of more every day!
He found his pumpkin! He loved this pumpkin patch!
On the drive home from school. He's quoting a movie trailer!