I recognized the subtle differences in my fourth and youngest daughter, first, by comparing her growth—physical and developmental—to her three older sisters. I noticed her difficulty pronouncing “dada,” saying it as if she had an accent, and her very odd way of pulling away from me even before she could walk, at ten months of age.
I recognized her total disinterest in looking at anyone, family members or strangers, almost as if we mattered very little in her life. I was sure she was hearing impaired. But not until I found myself on the bedroom floor at the side of my bed where I’d knelt to pray and then crumpled, heartbroken and crying out to God in hopeless despair did I accept the fact that she would never be like her sisters. And there on the floor beside the bed, where I’d pulled my dusty old Bible off the nightstand and turned to the book of Psalms, was where I found the words—the very truth—that would carry me every day after in peace that passes all understanding, no matter where my child’s challenges might take me.
Without thought of where to find the scripture that might ease my fears, or give me some hope to cling to, my eyes fell on the 139th Psalm. There I read the answer to those unknown’s that had haunted my days since Farema’s unexpected birth. As I read the words of the Psalmist, I found the answer to how well God knows me:
You know when I sit, and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
As I read further, I learned through the words of the Psalm, that never was there a moment when God was not near to me, and no matter the disappointments in my life, God would not leave me on my own:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Just before that day in my room, I’d come to realize that raising a child with classic autism can be a devastating endeavor, permeating every aspect of family life. I had daydreamed of future years with the “empty nest” and a chance to do my thing until, without planning or anticipation, I found I was pregnant. Disappointed and distraught, I told myself it would only be a few years longer. But as I sat there on the floor, reading the Word of the Creator, I understood that my life and that of my daughter with all her special needs and challenges had already been planned—long before my own birth. God had it all under control!
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
That day my outlook on raising my daughter changed dramatically. I no longer felt the weight of guilt that I’d secretly carried, believing that God had given me this burden, this child, as some sort of punishment for the times I’d chosen my own way instead of his. I began to look forward to each day filled with new and sometimes miraculous accomplishments that I’d been told by the doctors just wasn’t on the horizon for a girl like mine.
My freedom came with knowledge that God had made my daughter as he made each of us, exactly as he’d intentioned. For Farema and me, every day, hour and moment of our lives God has never once let us walk alone, or left us on our own; he has been faithful to hold us close to himself and guide us on this journey through life, including this amazing, puzzling, and mysterious world of autism.
Lauri describes her childhood as perfect. She was raised by Christian parents, a mother who was a recording artist, nationally known as “Little Marcy” who sang about Jesus’ love in a child-like voice, and a father whose magnetic personality won him great success as a salesman for Word, Tyndale and Harvest House publishing companies. But although her early life was a road of blessings, walking the path God had designed for her, Lauri’s life took a detour, and she found herself walking the broken road of lost dreams and great sadness.
Through raising her fourth daughter, born with a devastating biological brain dysfunction known as Classic Autism, Lauri describes in her heartrending and vividly honest true life account how she found her way back to a closer, more personal relationship with her Lord.
In Lonely Girl, Gracious God, Lauri reveals the depth of autism’s devastation to family and loved ones, and the truth of God’s unfailing grace. She learns to trust Him in all things, and to see that God sometimes allows trials and pain to draw his children into a more personal relationship with Himself.
Today, Lauri hopes to bring comfort to those whose lives have been turned upside down by life’s disappointments and hardships by revealing to others what she has learned— that nothing in life is by accident for those who love the Lord.
Finding a new capacity for patience and perseverance as she struggles to find a life for her autistic daughter, Lauri comes to understand that often the sorrows of this life are God’s way of showing us that by His unfailing grace, He alone can satisfy the greatest longing of our hearts and that He will always be there to hold us steady as we walk that broken road, with newfound hope and confidence, that leads to His open, ever-loving arms.
Lauri is available to speak to women’s groups and conferences, certified by CLASSEMINARS, Inc., CLASS Communicator
Lonelygirlgraciousgod.com 2262 Dale Ave, Eugene, OR 97408 541-485-5450
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