By Tim and Laura Paauw
In the beginning of the school year we were asked by our son Nolan’s teachers about what types of communication we would like to receive home. We answered, “Pictures, photos, and notes of anything that seem memorable.”
Because Nolan is nearly non-verbal we have not been able to “see” his day like we have for his twin sister who comes home regularly and can’t stop describing every second of what she did in vivid detail.
We can verify that a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words. We have been reminded through the pictures and the videos of what joy Nolan provides to others, of the gains he is making in life skills and friendships, and what he is learning to do. we celebrate having a video of him counting deliberately to 10. we have pictures now of him WITH FRIENDS (what a gift)!!
This past week, we were told Nolan sang the word “Glooo-oo–ooo-ooria!” in a famous Christmas song along with his classmates at school. He even was so excited he sang it out loud when the rest stopped. This may sound embarrassing or trite to you, it is not to us. We about cried when we heard that he was participating in worship with his peers!! On Sunday in church he spent part of the service sitting next to us, just listening and taking in the sights and sounds of Sunday. All of a sudden, it happened… the church stood up and sang “Glooo-oo-ooo-ooria!” and Nolan smiled and began belting it out–and carried that tune after others finished. You wouldn’t believe how many people told me how precious that was for them to hear as we left church that day.
Often in life we forget to celebrate the simple moments within our own life’s journey. We should be cherishing each. St. Augustine once said, “Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
I will admit that I take way too many breaths without contemplating the air I took in which allowed me to live that moment. I take way too many steps without being grateful for my legs that guide me. I forget that I’m running an intentional life race fixing my eyes on Christ and rejoicing on His path (Hebrews 12, Proverbs 16:9) and instead I often give in to negativity, self-pity, and live in a fear focused on my struggles rather than God’s strength (Isaiah 41:10).
Laura and I can remember a time not long ago when we weren’t sure if Nolan would say anything. We were told that there is no cure to Autism and you never know what progress he will make. We made a choice at Nolan’s diagnosis not to let the diagnosis or his struggles define who he is. Rather, we would read the research and advocate for his strengths, celebrate any steps of progress he makes, and pray for him to find joy in running life’s race focused on Christ–the same as what we should be doing for each person in life.
So, I challenge you today to PAUSE (Psalm 46:10a) and PRAISE (Psalm 46:10b) the Lord for His work in your life (even the breath you just took). Remember, your life has a purpose and God gifted you in abundance toward His purpose. That should give you reason to celebrate everyday, whether you are in a deep valley or dancing on a mountaintop.
Here are a few of many moments we have celebrated this year in Nolan’s journey…