His Turn

Seniors

Things always move a little differently for this son of ours. I really thought I had convinced him that with all of the chaos, upheaval and general disruption to life and schooling due to covid19 that maybe we could go ahead and be done with school for now and postpone his graduation until in the fall sometime. There are two important things I should have realized before I assumed his silence meant acquiescence. The first being that his silence is never acquiescence. Seriously, if he does not give an affirmative agreement then you better not expect that he has accepted any sort of change in the plan. Secondly, numbers and dates have strong significant meaning to him and I should have known that graduation for seniors this year, no matter how it looks, happens in May. Not in April. Not in June. And certainly not sometime in the fall. May. May is graduation season.

What can I say other than, you know, autism.

It’s been a big year for Sam with us trying to loosen up the apron strings so to speak and allow him to have more freedom with being an adult. He has been responsible for getting his work done each day and we usually go over it after he’s finished. His favorite subject has been grammar because he wants to be a writer/cartoonist. (True story, when he was younger he wanted to be a cartoonist that delivered babies. He has since decided against the baby delivering part.)

We got him an ipad for Christmas and if you know us at all you probably realize what a big deal that is since we are not a tech heavy family and very reserved when it comes to devices. We have been quite surprised and pleased by the maturity he has shown having such a powerful device at his disposal. He is a very fast and also effective texter. And when I say fast I mean faaasssst.

One of the first things he did when he got the ipad was to create this little video clip of himself. Then he added the dragon. Still not real sure how he worked that and I realize it is rather basic but for a kid who had only had the equipment for all of ten minutes we were impressed.

In a very creative and fun exercise he made up the beginning of a short story that ended with a cliffhanger of sorts. We shared it with a couple of children in our church and he asked them what should happen next. He then created the next animated chapter based on their response. They bounced it back and forth a couple of times before ending the story with a happy ending. I really would love to see him develop this concept more of working with little kids and developing What happens next stories. There are parts to this one that really crack me up and if this is what he can come up with on his own Just by winging it I cannot wait to see what he can do with some actual training in animation. But one thing I do hope is that he doesn’t lose that old school style of cartooning. I love that his cartoons look like cartoons. (Turn your sound on if you watch and please do watch.)

Sam is unwavering in his desire to draw and create cartoons both animated and on paper. And I think we would be blown away if we could catch even a glimpse of half of what he sees inside his head.

He is a hard worker but it takes a minute to get him there. But be ready because when he does get there he is going to talk to you the whole time he does whatever job you have given him. I would have laughed in your face had you told me seventeen years ago that I would one day be telling that non-verbal two year old to please be quiet!

Right now we are trying to figure out what lies ahead for this special big-hearted-cartoon-drawing-story-telling young man. Maybe trade school or some sort of college in the fall. Classes that will help him continue to develop and polish his skills in animation. Meaningful work of some sort. Like every other young man at this juncture of his life Sam is facing the future with plans and dreams and hopes to leave his mark on the world. He is big and bold and full of ideas.

He is completely undaunted by the unknown. I love that about him, about the way an autistic brain works. He is fearless. To his way of thinking both of his big sisters reached this point and now it’s his turn and he’s ready.

And you know what? I believe he is and I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring.
We love you so much, Sam Jam! Congratulations on your graduation, bud!

Hannah

Seniors

I love doing senior pictures. It’s such an amazing time in someone’s life and so unique too. The satisfaction of accomplishment mixed with the anticipation and excitement of a future full of possibility, there is nothing quite like it.

A senior session is even better when it is with someone I know and whose family I just love to pieces. Hannah is the oldest of seven siblings and one of my daughter’s dearest friends. Their family is a little bit larger than ours (by two) and they also know what life with autism is like. But it’s not just those common factors we share that make Hannah special…it’s the person that she is.

Hannah comes from a military family and I watched her come into our small community at the beginning of her ninth grade year. Not only was she leaving the homeschool life but she was also entering a class of a mere thirteen students, most of whom had been together almost all of their lives. How much courage must that have taken? To be the new kid who had to make a place for herself and make friends? But she did it with a quiet strength of character and genuine grace.

I have seen her navigate difficult situations and seen the fruit that is born from doing hard things, and doing them well, blossom in her life.

We have come to know and be blessed by her beautiful heart and know that great things are in store for her as she prepares to pursue a nursing degree in the fall.

Like most people I tend to contemplate that otherworldly creature of Proverbs 31 mainly within the confines of wifery. After all, the famous passage begins with, “An excellent wife who can find…” but I think it is important to note that King Lemuel was relating what his mother had taught him as a child about the kind of wife he should look for. Meaning that there were qualities he should search for in a woman and not that she would magically come into being when he placed a ring on her finger.

I say all of that to say, dear Hannah, practice being that woman today, nourish her attributes now. The seeds have been planted in you all of your life but now you must tend and cultivate them in ways that you never have before. Continue to be trustworthy and diligent. Look for the needy around you and care for them just as you have those around you when they have been in need of a faithful friend. Clothe yourself with strength and dignity and laugh in the face of adversity when it comes your way because you have no reason to fear. Open your mouth in wisdom and let the law of kindness be forever on your tongue.

In a way it is only fitting that this chapter of your story ends with the weird and crazy quarantining toilet paper shortage of covid19. All of your life He has added layers of humor and adventure to each page, allowing each line to reveal His love for you. Follow after the One who formed you and has called you, Hannah. Trust in His plan and seek Him first above all things and everything else will fall into place.

One last thing. I read this Elisabeth Elliot quote for the first time when I was your age or thereabouts. It probably isn’t new to you the way it was to me but I leave it here for you to tuck away into your heart and mind as you move boldly into your next chapter:
“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

Be different, Hannah, wherever He sends you. Not for the sake of being different but for the sake of shining His love and light into the lives of those around you just as you have been doing in this corner of the world.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you. And congratulations on a job well done!