Holden Turns 6 years old and...

On March 7th, my youngest son Holden turned 6. And just like any 6 year old boy, the day was a special day. But on this day, there was more going on than would be expected. Holden was diagnosed with autism just before his 2 year old birthday, and so for the last 4 years, our family has been on an unpredictable and challenging journey.

One of the most difficult things for Cheri and me revolves around the mystery of what Holden is thinking. We don't get to hear his thoughts in words because Holden doesn't have the ability to talk at this stage in his journey. We long to hear his voice. We long to know what he is thinking. We just can't wait to hear him express his emotions, and his affections too. To date, we haven't ever heard Holden say, "I love you" or "I miss you" or anything of the like. And that hurts our heart. For us, but more so, for him.

For a few years now, we have hired a consultant/therapist (Kathy) who has helped us in this journey in uncountable ways. She is a certified RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) consultant. One aspect of her work involves teaching us how to cultivate an environment that stimulates brain development in Holden. And we've done our best to foster this. But to be honest, it's been very hard at times to stay motivated. Why? Well, for many reasons, but one big one is because we see very little, if any, progress with the visible eye. Sometimes in honest moments, we just wonder, "Is this doing anything?" "Is this working?" In short, we start to doubt if the process that we've ascribed to is actually going to do what we hope and expect.

And then along the way, we have these moments. They are moments of wonder and beauty. They fill your heart with hope and even draw your heart to God's heart. These moments may seem small to the onlooker, but when you live in waiting, and at times doubt the process, and then you have that moment that infuses your spirit with life, man there's nothing like it!

And so one of those moments came on the week of Holden's 6th birthday. Up to this point, Holden has mimicked a few words that he's heard us say, but he's never used a word that was congruent to the moment and used it with the right meaning. But on this day, Holden walks up to mom and (drum roll please) he said, "Peetzha."

It may sound simple to you that our son said pizza, but for us, that was extraordinary. It was a moment of wonder and beauty. A moment of hope and encouragement. And it reminded us that our faithfulness in the process is working. Holden's development is going slower than we would desire, but God reminded us on Holden's birthday, that He is walking with us, walking with Holden, and that what we are doing with him and for his development is without a doubt working!

What all of this also reminded me of is the spiritual life. There is a process for our development. God is at work in our lives. He invites us to be participants. At times we doubt. At times we wonder if what we are doing is working. But again, development takes time, and it's often hard to see with a visible eye. But you know what, if we pay close enough attention, God will bless us with these seemingly small moments, which can become moments of great wonder and beauty and hope. They remind us that walking with God, doing our part, being faithful in the journey, that all of it is worth it. And that the God who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete. Keep at it. God is working. And along the way, pay attention to the small moments of wonder and beauty and hope. And then, celebrate them like crazy, and more so celebrate the God who makes it all possible!