David is with the kids right now to allow some uninterrupted time for me to post a few updates. But I am at a loss of where to even begin. So much is going on in our lives right now during this transition. And without having internet access where we're temporarily living (this is not a bad thing, just inconvenient for the grandparents wanting to see their grand babies!), frequent updates aren't possible. I've been trying to keep a list of things that I want to share, but there's just so much. Therefore, I'll just post as I'm able.
I thought I'd begin by documenting a bit about David's "Installation Service" last Sunday. I guess you could say he's now officially the pastor at our new church. :) It was a very special time for our whole family - not only for what the service meant to all of us - but also because of the company we had for the weekend. We were privileged to have David's long time dear friend, Shane Parker - who was also a key instrument the Lord used in our coming to Lake Gaston - preach during this special service for David. In addition, we were so thrilled that he was able to bring his precious family along with him.
The Lord used Shane mightily Sunday morning, delivering a very powerful message, along with much affirmation to my husband. I was so thankful, and I know that everyone was blessed by him sharing Truth, as well as speaking against false expectations, with us as a church body. Thank you, Shane, for being such a special part of this time for David. May God bless you for blessing us. Also, the member of the pastor search committee whom Shane first gave David's resume to, shared at the opening of the service. He eloquently recounted the search committee's long process of looking for the one whom the Lord had ordained to be their new pastor. It was so confirming reflecting on the Lord's providence through it all.
I wanted to share some pictures that we took from the weekend with the Parker family. We had a blast with them, as we always do, and it was so fun seeing our children have fun together as well. Their son, Wiley, is 4 (just short of a year older than John David), and their daughter, Evie, will be 2 before long (6 months older than Claire). Because of their close ages, they had a lot in common, and - like I said - we parents really enjoyed watching their interaction.
The last time that Wiley and John David were around each other was when JD was 16 months old, right before we received his autism diagnosis. As many of you know, we found this out about our son during our missionary training in Virginia. We stopped by the Parker's house - who were living in South Carolina at the time - to break up our road trip to VA. Because of the circumstances where we'd been living, up until that point in his life, John David had not been around many children at all. He was normally fine around adults and older children, but he didn't have much experience being around kids his age. While in the Parker home, John David was fearful - without knowing how to better describe it - of little Wiley. Though he'd watch Wiley closely, and though you could tell he was very interested in what Wiley was doing, he was nothing short of afraid. John David would cling to us in fear and even cry (I'm talking intense tears) when he came close. (I specifically remember the outburst when they were strapped in their seats side by side in the car.)
Once we arrived at our Virginia destination, John David was in a preschool (a first experience for all 3 of us) during the day while David and I attended preparatory classes. Of course, after 5 weeks into our 8 week missionary training, John David's teacher - Miss Marlene (whom we give thanks to the Lord for CONSTANTLY!) shared her concern for John David's lack of desire to interact with the other children in his class. Though John David interacted with his teachers - and they described him as being an "easy" and "delightful" - Miss Marlene said she had never seen a child his age just want to sit and watch instead of play with the other children. Within a week, we were introduced to the terms "High-functioning autism" and "Aspergers" for the first time.
While I didn't intend for this post to primarily be about John David, I did want to share some background so that you might understand how much we were anticipating the Parkers coming to stay with us. We've seen how much John David has learned and grown in the past two years; one of the professionals we've recently worked with said that "he's not the same child as when we first saw him." We agree. But we were interested and excited about the difference between John David and Wiley's first encounter and their most recent one.
I also share a small portion of our story regarding John David to point to the Lord's beautiful sovereignty over the circumstances of our family, as well as those of our new church. It was just about the time that the Lord held up the STOP sign for us to go overseas, that the church at Lake Gaston began their long search for a new pastor. The Lord did not intend for us to serve in Africa at that time; He lead us to Virginia to give us insight about our precious son . . . insight that I'm confident we would not have had until much later. Instead His plan was for us was to return home and begin receiving the services and support that our son (and the rest of our family) needed. God's plan was also to prepare David, as well as the rest of us, for His calling on my husband for the task He had in store. Meanwhile, the Lake Gaston church family patiently waited for almost two years for the Lord to show them the one that He had in store to be their pastor. Though we feel completely inadequate for this position, we are so humbled and grateful for the Lord's perfect sovereignty over every detail, as well as His kindness and grace through it all.
Well, back to John David and Wiley . . . needless to say, they hit it off very well and became big buddies in no time! Meanwhile, David and I sat back and watched with so much joy and gratitude!! Thank you, Father ~ You are very kind!
And as our new journey begins, we want those of you actually reading this to know how much we covet your prayers for us. Please pray for the Lord's wisdom and guidance as we continue to seek His direction for our own family and now our new church family. Despite our inadequacies, we are promised in God's Word that His grace is sufficient and that His power is perfected in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12). He is so faithful; He has been thus far, and - because He IS Faithfulness - we know He will continue to be!
In closing, if you're like me, you prefer to read a blog post that contains pictures. (or you may not even read it at all but head straight to the pictures instead!) Because I'm having trouble uploading photos right now, you'll have to click HERE to see pictures from our time with the Parkers. Sorry for the inconvenience.
4 days ago