The above video shows one of the most joyful days of my life. Our son, our only child, has autism. Raising him has been quite an adventure with times I was not sure there would be any of me left when the adventure was done!
Times of blackness, times of joy, times of sheer panic for what would become of this child we love more than life itself.
If you are only able to watch the first ten minutes of the video, at least see the flag ceremony and the processional of this graduation. They are full of more joy than any graduation I have ever attended! Let me explain how we got to this day.
Three years ago we left our son in Wisconsin to embark on an adventure away from us—Shepherds College for people with intellectual disabilities. Every August we drove him to Union Grove; every June we picked him up for the summer. Then this June he became a graduate of the three year program possessing a certificate in horticulture.
I can only begin to detail the faithfulness God has shown to us in these three years.
We did not even know that Shepherds Ministries (which my childhood church in Michigan supported all those years ago) had started a college in 2008 until a church friend told us she had gone on ministry trips there.
Then we had forms to fill out, first to enroll Joey, then to secure funding for him to attend the college and to get started in life.
I had forms to fill out to get him SSI (disability), which was denied by the federal authorities the first time we filed because “you have not proven to us you are disabled enough to need assistance . . .” I had forms to fill out to keep him on my Tricare (military health insurance) as an adult. I had scholarship forms to fill out with Joey.
Then, as graduation approached, we had forms to fill out to get aid from the state of Wisconsin for Joey to stay in Union Grove and get an off-campus job and apartment with help from the job placement officer at his college and a caseworker at another Shepherds ministry that oversees the transition to independence there in this delightful small town.
In all, I estimate I filled out a pile of papers eighteen inches thick over the last three years, and God blessed and multiplied my efforts greatly.
I love how the Shepherds motto is “created on purpose, for a purpose.” This place of so much gentle wisdom has taught me much about God’s grace extended to helpless people. For all of us were helplessly enmeshed in sin and headed for hell until God intervened. Some of us have disabilities that readily show; others of us hide them better. But all of us in the human race are crushed and utterly in need of God’s love, power, and faithfulness. Praise Him that He extends them to us!!!