Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Happy Thanksgiving


We had a great Thanksgiving Day. . .

. . . . which included a feast in the ILC cafeteria (it really was delicious)


. . . . and swinging, of course ~ it was a beautiful day here in VA

. . . . and the evening in the home of Bob and Linda Allen ~ what a 
blessing it was to be in a real home on this special day.
 We are so thankful for how - although we were far away 
from our own families - we felt right at home with our mission family. 
Thank you, Allen's, for your warm hospitality!
  

We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  I am sure that the contents of the previous post ~ The Smiling Face Behind a Frown of Providence ~ came as a surprise to most of you (unless you got that information in an email, and then I'm sure at that point the news was quite unexpected.)  It came as a complete shock to David and I as well.  Things still seem a bit surreal.  It's hard to believe that we are here, beginning our 7th week now, at our orientation to be missionaries, and we are not going to the destination that we have been headed towards in our hearts and minds for some time now.  However, I want to boldly testify of the overwhelming, incomprehensible grace and peace of our Sovereign, Triune God, who upholds all things by the Word of His power, and Who reigns as our Prince of Peace, our Hope eternal, and Whose grace is completely sufficient to supply all of our needs in Christ Jesus our Lord (Phil. 1:9).  As David said, God is good and wise and sovereign.  We believe this with all that we are.  So, we have known throughout all of the change of our plans and throughout this time of John David's diagnosis, that God has not stepped down from His throne, nor has He taken off His crown.  He reigns, and He is working all things for our greater good and His greatest glory.  Therefore, we know that God is completely trustworthy and ever-faithful. He always has been and always will be.  

To fill you in a bit on John David's diagnosis...
Like David said, John David has been diagnosed with a mild form of autism - the specialist referred to it as "high-functioning autism".  The autism spectrum is vast, as we have come to learn; therefore, John David exhibits none of the "signs" that you naturally are told to look for in a child.  He is so fun, so sweet, and so, as the term states, "high-functioning."  His cognitive and receptive skills are great.  He makes great eye-contact, reads emotions, and - by how he responds to us - understands/comprehends everything we say. However, for John David, his autism is seen in a delay in expressive language, as well as social anxiety.  In other words, he doesn't talk as much as some other "almost 18-month-olds", and he often has a strong preference for personal space.  We have never been concerned about these things before.  I know that children develop at different rates, so I wasn't concerned that he wasn't talking as much as his sweet female cousin who is 9 months older the he. :)  His anxiety shows itself primarily around other young children, not adults or older kids ~ the unpredictability of toddlers can really freak him out.  So in regard to his anxiousness, I justified it in my mind with the fact that, for his whole 17 months of life, his interaction with toddlers has been so minimal. Nevertheless, after several meetings with pediatricians, a neurologist, and an autism specialist, we agree with his diagnosis.  We were told that, with proper intervention, he may fall off the "spectrum" and not meet criteria for autism by the time he is 4 years old. This may not happen for John David - we don't know what God has in store for him - but it sure was an encouraging thing for us to hear the doctors say.  Actually, two of the doctors didn't think that there was any reason to be concerned about John David.  Furthermore, the autism specialist said that, had she not observed him in his preschool classroom, and had she just seen him the way he is with us, she would not have been concerned about him at all.  She said that our goal is to get John David to act around other kids the way he acts at home.  We have received great encouragement from our many conversations with doctors and specialists, and by God's grace, have embraced all of this.  

Praise the Lord, John David is attempting new words every day, especially this week, and his teacher here at ILC said that he has made 100% improvement with his social interactions since getting here 6 weeks ago.  Now, he gives high-fives to other kids (when prompted) and doesn't cry (usually) when they come running at him. He loves to watch other kids play, and even laughs and smiles at them now; you can tell that he wants to join in the fun. But if and when they get "too close", it still often overwhelms him.  And I'm sure his lack of speech, at this point, doesn't make him any more confident.  So, we will be leaving our orientation early - Monday, December 1st - and will be heading back to Alabama.  We will begin looking for good resources for speech/language therapy, as well as behavioral therapy (to help John David better learn to handle those social situations that make him uncomfortable) and possibly some occupational/physical therapy (John David has hypotonia (low muscle tone) just in his arms, that we can tell, which - oddly enough - is common in children with some of these developmental delays and/or autism.)  We will be posting more information on where we will be settling down as all these things - and more - are confirmed. 

Had we not come to Virginia for this orientation with the IMB, we would have not discovered all of this. . . at least, not at this time.  For, I'm sure, John David would have continued being at home with me, living life as normal, with minimal interaction with other toddlers and hardly any uncomfortable situations.  On this Thanksgiving, we especially thankful for John David's dear teacher who loved and cared for him enough to express her concern when she needed to most.  We have been told that it is crucial to intervene as early as possible; the most intervention that can take place before 5 and 6 years old is a huge blessing.  One of our fellow "quad" mates said that she has a friend who's son is autistic, and it took their family years to get the help for him that we have gotten in the span of 2 weeks time.  Therefore, we cannot praise the Lord enough for His provision, through the resources of the IMB, and for His providence in bringing us here to Virginia, for such a time as this.  We do not see any moment of these 6 weeks, nor any moment leading up to our getting here, as being for naught.  We are so thankful that we serve the One in Whose book were written all "the days fashioned for [each of us], when as yet there were none of them" (Psalm 139:16).  I am so grateful to the Lord God Almighty who has "fearfully and wonderfully made" our precious child; Who formed John David's inward parts and knows his thoughts, before a word is on his tongue (Psalm 139:4, 13&14) - even when those words may come later for him than for most.  

Oh, it has been hard to know where and how to bring to a close all that I have wanted to share in this post.  However, I did want you to know that we are doing so well - by the sufficient grace of God - and that we desire to inform you so that you may glorify the Lord with us, for all that He has done thus far.  David and I see it as a most glorious privilege to be John David's mommy and daddy.  We love him so, and are so thankful for all that the Lord has made him and is making him to be.  As stewards of our son, we simply desire to aid in the molding and shaping and forming of John David's heart and life in a way that is most pleasing and honoring to the Lord.  Please pray that God will grant us grace and mercy and wisdom and discernment to be the parents that we need to be for our most precious little gift.  If you haven't read it yet, the poem Thankful (a few posts below) expresses a little more clearly - although words cannot articulate - our love and prayers for our son.  We will be keeping you posted, and I would hope to guarantee that no future post will ever be this long!          


Just for fun, I had to include this picture...

John David getting pumped up for THE BIG GAME today . . .  
Roll Tide Roll!!


9 comments:

Kenny and Jana said...

David & Katie--

Please know that you are in our prayers as you go through this transition and as God changes yalls direction! How comforting to know that we have an all-knowing God!! Yalls faith and strength are encouraging!!

I know you said you guys would be moving back to AL and looking for resources for John David...I know of several things you could look into for him b/c of my degree (and time at UA) and working with precious children like John David on a daily basis. I hesitated to offer...I know you may already be hooked up with who you need. Please feel free to email me...I would love to pass on any info that may help you guys out.

We look forward to keeping up with you guys in "blogworld"!

In Christ,

Jana (& Kenny) Cook
janacook20@yahoo.com

April Hollingsworth said...

I know you and David trust God with all your hearts, but you still may be sad about postponing your mission work. John David is your first priority and we are all proud of you guys simply for your desire to go to Zambia.

Marlene said...

As John David's teacher here at ILC, I just wanted to say what an HONOR it was to serve the Lord by serving the Kizziah family. As I told them, I look forward to keeping up with John David and seeing what the Lord has planned for his life. Katie & David have been such a testimony to God's grace as they have embraced this new direction in their life and have been SO precious to me even though I "started the concern ball" rolling so to speak. I know it speaks VOLUMES to not only God but the amazing friends & family that have contributed to who they are as people. I love this family dearly and can't wait to see them again in the future! Blessings!!

Laura Forman said...

I didn't get to say goodbye to you both before leaving on Monday, but I want to let you know that our family will be lifting you guys up! You all are so precious and so thankful for the time that we got to spend with you here. We will be praying for you as you enter this next step in your lives. We want to stay in touch with you guys, we have blog too (www.clarkandlauraforman.blogspot.com) That seems to be the easiest way to keep in touch!
We love you guys!!! :)

Robyn said...

What a wonderful testimony! I'm so looking forward to seeing what the Lord has for you and your family. Maybe in 4 years, we will see you in Zambia. I will continue to keep up with your blog - don't let us down!

In Definition said...

What a sweet testimony your blog is to the sufficiency of Christ! Thank you for sharing your journey - and keep writing those long blogs. It is an encouragement to hear of the things God is doing in your life - even in the midst of a surprising turn in your plans.

my husband and I have been praying for you as you come to mind since i received that first update with the news.

many blessings,

laura dawkins

Erin said...

Hey sweet Katie, (and David and John David :), I feel like the worst cousin in the world! I have wanted to call you and talk with you as soon as I heard about this. And I just haven't. I am so sorry! But it wasn't because I didn't care or have not been praying. I HAVE! I know this is devastating, but also encouraging at the same time. The Lord has a special plan for y'all and that precious little boy! And I know you guys know that. Drew and I learned through the entire birth of Griffin about God's timing. We know we believe it is perfect, but until you go through something like we did, and like y'all are going through, I don't think we truly understand it. But His timing IS perfect. We thought 8 weeks was too early for a baby. God thought it was the perfect time. Y'all thought January was the perfect time to go to Africa. God has other plans. And as hard as it is, and how much you desire to be in Africa, just think of what the Lord is going to do in and through y'all here in Alabama! Obviously you are still here for a reason. And to me that is exciting!!
I can't imagine the emotions and thoughts of having a diagnosis of my son like that. But just like you say, God is still on His throne and He is still sovereign. John David is HIS child and He has a special plan for him.
We will continue to pray for y'all and during this time of his therapy. It already sounds like he is improving :) Praise the Lord! We will pray for you and David, the doctors/therapists, and all those involved. Who knows who y'all will touch because of this!
We love you all dearly and can't wait to see you again soon!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, you don't know me, but know my dad. I am Rev. John McDaniel's daughter-he is the preacher at Temple Baptist in Springfield. I wanted to let you know that my son that is 6 years old is also autistic. We didn't get the formal diagnosis until last year, but have always known something wasn't right from the time he was 2 years old. He is high functioning also, but falls under the autism spectrum with PDD-NOS. His is complicated by the fact he also has severe ADHD and an anxiety disorder with OCD features. If you are looking for extra support or someone you can talk to that can relate to what you are going through, I'd be glad to help. Keith isn't social and prefers to paralell play, but with therapy he is making new strides. Best of luck to you guys.

Katie Essex

KTSX said...

Hi, you don't know me, but know my dad. I am Rev. John McDaniel's daughter-he is the preacher at Temple Baptist in Springfield. I wanted to let you know that my son that is 6 years old is also autistic. We didn't get the formal diagnosis until last year, but have always known something wasn't right from the time he was 2 years old. He is high functioning also, but falls under the autism spectrum with PDD-NOS. His is complicated by the fact he also has severe ADHD and an anxiety disorder with OCD features. If you are looking for extra support or someone you can talk to that can relate to what you are going through, I'd be glad to help. Keith isn't social and prefers to paralell play, but with therapy he is making new strides. Best of luck to you guys.

Katie Essex