Behind The Podium
Today I will speak to a room full of well off, generous people who have it in their hearts to give to an amazing place, Morgan’s Wonderland.
I am curious.
How did I get here?
I have always been outspoken, not always in a good way.
I tend to lead rather than follow and not always down the right path.
If everyone said right, then I went left
I did my best, for many years, to go against the grain.
I had labeled myself a victim for so many years. It always gave me an out.
Along Came An Angel
Then my Justin was born.
Not This Girl
When she was handed the diagnosis of Autism and Auditory Processing Disorder, I made it my number one goal to not let it make her a victim. It was not going to be her out.
Our family would not cave to it.
My little girl would put autism to shame and I would make sure of it.
Autism has tried many times over the years to bring us down and make us it’s victim.
Autism Is A Failure
While all the other kids made Build-A-Bears at Justin’s first time attending a school mates birthday party, she clung to me for dear life because of the hum of the machine that turned the stuffing.
I was pouring sweat and trying not to cry while the other moms and dads looked on with pity in their eyes. When I finally caved in and said we had to leave because I simply couldn’t take it anymore, Justin completely lost control of herself because she wanted the princess off the top of the the little girls birthday cake. As we were leaving the party, Justin crying and screaming and me sweating, crying and apologizing, the 5 year old birthday girl removed the princess off of the top of her cake and ran after us. She very sweetly handed it to Justin and said “she can have the princess if she wants it, it’s okay with me”. That only made me cry harder. It also put autism to shame. It made autism look stupid. It reminded autism that it didn’t have the compassion that a five year old has and it needed to leave my little girl alone that day.
Autism has brought the most amazing people into my life and given me opportunities that I never dreamed of.
Justin has one of the most amazing teachers. She loves on my little girl. She lets Justin hold her hand constantly. She is patient with Justin but doesn’t let Justin take advantage of her special need.
She has faith in my little girl. She believes in my little girl. She makes me know that everything is going to be just fine. She even laughs at the stupid jokes that I make when I’m nervous, maybe out of pity or maybe because I’m super funny, I’ll never know.
Another one of her teachers tells me everyday how much she loves my Justin and let’s me know how great she is doing in gym class. She offers to help with Justin outside of school, something that not too many people offer up. She sits patiently and colors with my little girl so that I can have a moment of adult time and listen to a speaker. She doesn’t bat an eye when we eat together and Justin acts a little odd, she actually acts like she enjoys it.
Run Autism Run
Justin won’t be autism’s victim and neither will my family.
Autism will crumble at the sight of my daughter. It will hide when it sees her coming.
It will fear the sound of my voice. I will send shivers down it’s spine with my mommy glare.
Autism doesn’t stand a chance against Justin. It’s not smart enough to bring her down. It can’t compete with her infectious giggle and her contagious smile.
Autism is simply too weak for my Justin.
If autism was smart, it would bow out gracefully now while it still had a shred of dignity left because there is no way that I will ever allow it to make Justin it’s victim. Never. Never. Never.
God Is Good And Generous
Today I get to go talk about Morgan’s Wonderland and what it means to families like mine, families with special needs children. I get to thank the people who donate and allow us to have a place where we can take our families and not worry about the stares, the questions, the physical and mental road blocks that we have to face.
At Morgan’s Wonderland it doesn’t matter if you wheel your child in, pull your child in a wagon or assist them with their walker. It doesn’t matter if you child is yelling “Australia” over and over at the top of their lungs or talking to themselves nonstop. It doesn’t matter if they are laying on the floor, the picnic bench or the slide. It doesn’t matter if they are wearing prosthetic legs, helmets or bright orange earphones.
When you go to Morgan’s everyone matters and everyone is normal. All the kids are just that, kids.The kids in the wheelchairs get to swing on the swings and the blind kids get to drive the train. They get to be kids and there is not a single person there that is going to ask you what’s wrong with your child. Everyone is too busy watching the smile on their children’s faces.
When I look at my little girl I know why God chose me.
He gave me Justin to remind me that everything he makes is perfect. He gave her to me to remind me that I have nothing to prove. He gave her to me to show me what true innocence looks like.
When I finally gave it all to Him and surrendered to His plan for my family is when He gave me the chance to stand in front of all the generous and loving people who open the hearts and support Morgan’s Wonderland and simply tell them thank you.
Gracious Father thank you for the blessings that you put in our lives and the lessons that come along with them. Humble us. Open our eyes to the beauty behind what we see as a flaw. We know that you make everything perfect in your eyes. Give us your eyes to see and your heart to love. Show us how to be your hands and feet and teach us how to spread your word. When you give us the chance to stand in front of a crowd, give us the courage to use it to glorify your name. In Jesus name, amen.
The first time that we took our family to Morgan’s we found ourselves apologizing for Justin’s fit while standing in line for the train. Someone had to actually put their hands on our shoulders, look us in the eyes and tell us “It’s okay, don’t worry, relax, we all understand”. We finally let out a deep breath and spent the rest of the day watching our little girls play with complete abandonment.