“A couple of years ago, as I was in the middle of a church service, God spoke to me about my oldest daughter, Hannah. Hannah was getting ready to go into kindergarten. She only knew 12 letters, struggled to write her name, and was fighting against a speech and learning delay. I was so afraid of what the next year would bring. During the middle of worship, I remember putting my head down and saying, ‘God, I am so scared for Hannah going into kindergarten with so many delays. I feel like I’m sending her to the wolves.’ I was so humbly broken.
No matter how hard Hannah tried, she was going to struggle. I just couldn’t handle the thought of sending her into kindergarten knowing she was so behind and embarrassed of her speech delay. How would the kids respond to her and would the teachers be patient with her? God was quick to respond. His presence came over me and He said, ‘Mattie, where I send Hannah, she won’t know the language. Teach her MY language. That is the language I am going to use.’ What a moment that was! I was filled with purpose as Hannah’s mother. All the pressure I’d felt for Hannah to accomplish in kindergarten suddenly vanished and my heart was filled with direction. With my head down and full of fear, God met me with His message of Hannah’s purpose.
I knew after that moment, the only thing God was asking of me, as Hannah’s mom, was to teach her His language. I didn’t need to feel the pressure of her knowing the alphabet. God didn’t say He was going to use the alphabet; He said He was going to use her, and the only thing I needed to do was teach her His language, of how to love others well and how to serve. I decided at that moment, I didn’t care if she was ever able to learn how to multiply or write a paragraph. I needed to teach her how to forgive and extend grace. I made it a mission to start teaching her scripture so she could be filled with truth. Arm her with the tools necessary so the enemy would never be able to attack her with lies. Teaching her identity, belonging, and purpose in Jesus Christ became an everyday conversation. I needed to start teaching her how to access God in prayer. Most of all, I knew I needed to teach her how to hear His voice. I also vowed to myself I would not tell her about the conversation I had with God until after He called her, but I needed to teach her how to listen for His voice so when He does call her, she will hear Him.
As Hannah grows, God shows me glimpses of why He may indeed call her into missions. Hannah LOVES to be outside. Hannah loves National Geographic and she is passionate about saving the environment. She loves serving other people and sharing the Gospel with strangers. When I think about Hannah’s future, I get so excited! I know that nothing, not a syndrome, not a speech delay, not even a bad report card will ever take away the plans God has for Hannah. The only job I have as her mother is teaching her to hear God and obey Him.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a meeting at the school for my youngest daughter, Elaina. As we are preparing for her to go to kindergarten next year, we have a lot to consider. She doesn’t know any of her letters, she still isn’t potty trained, and her speech needs are significant. Her team of therapists and teachers all sat around a table to discuss benchmark milestones and upcoming testing for her. My heart just started to break, and break, and break some more. They tried hard to make the data look good, but the truth of the matter is, Elaina is so very behind. The team started to talk about the possibility of Elaina going to a school for children with moderate to profound cognitive delays. A school that kids can attend up the age of 26. A school that may be more equipped for her needs, depending on what the testing will show. A school that is near to my heart. I worked there during my senior year of high school, and in the walls of this school, God called me to be a nurse. I love this school, I just never imagined Elaina would need a school with so much support. I wasn’t ready to consider the thought of having my daughters at two separate schools. I was also faced with the instant grief that no matter how much support my Elaina could receive, getting a high school diploma isn’t promised. I finally just burst into tears. My husband was in shock, and the teachers did their best to tell me everything would be okay and this school was just one of a few options.
I have found there are just some moments in this journey I could never have prepared for. The teachers continued to talk about Elaina being a kind student in the class and then I read the words on the screen, ‘Elaina sits with her peers.’ As I read this with tears streaming down my face, Jesus entered the room and gave my heart a vision. I saw an image of Jesus standing in front of many people, but little Elaina was sitting at His feet with her little hands open. Jesus then said to me, ‘Elaina sits, Mattie. Elaina sits, teach her to sit at my feet and she will always be fed.’
See, although Elaina moves at a different pace than others, she is still learning and growing every day. She is constantly amazing her father and I, and we celebrate all of her milestones. As I read the words, ‘Elaina sits with her peers,’ Jesus stopped me in the middle of my heartbreak to let me know I had a job to do. If Elaina can sit then I have a purpose in showing her where to find His feet. As Jesus intervened, He gave my heart a sense of peace and the power to fight all the fears ahead. After we jump over this hurdle, there will be another one. I battle with the fear of what will happen one day when I am no longer here? Who will take care of Elaina and who will love her like I do? When Jesus told me to teach Elaina where to sit, He wanted me to know there will always be a place for her in front of Him and His hands will always supply all that she needs. When my heart was breaking about the possible plans for next year, Jesus redirected me, just like He did with Hannah a couple of years ago. He showed up and He gave me purpose as her mother. He wanted me to know that as I was being faced with all the ways Elaina was delayed, He saw something that mattered. If she can sit at His feet, she can receive, and not just a handful. She can receive as much as she wants. The miracles ahead for Elaina are going to be endless and they will continue even after I am gone.
I just need to teach her where to sit. How do I teach her this? I take her with me. I take her with me to sit at His feet when I pray, when I listen, when I praise Him, when I serve others, and when I enter our beautiful church. I teach her where to find Him in her day, and I trust He will always fill her hands with all she needs.
When God created my daughters, He created them with a purpose greater than their diagnosis. Although their syndrome causes many challenges that bring heartache from time to time, one thing remains constant, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ (Psalm 34:18)
Being a special-needs mom is hard. The last couple of weeks have been hard for our family, but God has been so near. Jesus loves to partner up with parents. He’s partnered up with me the past two weeks to speak truth into this hardship. To remind me that it doesn’t matter what building Elaina finds herself in next year because her seat is saved in front of Him and He is the ultimate teacher. Let Him into your heartache. If you ever find yourself filled with grief and your spirit crushed, know that He is close. Let Him speak life into your circumstances. Ask Him how to equip the kids you are raising and let Him tell you how to prepare them for their future that He planned long ago.
I pray this story meets you where you are and encourages you today. You are loved, friend, and you have a purpose!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mattie Book. You can follow their journey on their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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