I never imagined that one day I would be standing up in front of regional specialists who work with kids who have early intervention needs, such as developmental, physical, speech, and occupational therapists. As I stood in the small room on a local college campus, I was addressing these, as well as school counselors and psychologists, special education teachers, and state care coordinators.
“Just tell everyone about your experience with First Steps,” I was coached one day. “It’ll be great!”
I believed that initially until the moment arrived for me to actually talk. For some reason, I can give a talk to a classroom or a youth group, but this crowd intimidated me. I gulped and realized that I was the only parent present for this one-day conference.
I sighed, took a deep breath, and placed my glasses on the podium in front of me. Maybe I won’t feel as nervous if I can’t actually see the looks on their faces, I thought. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.
Why was I so anxious? It’s not like it was the first time I spoke about our two girls and what we, as a family, experienced with our state’s early childhood intervention program, First Steps. About halfway through my talk, it suddenly dawned on me that my intimidation originated from the fact that I had finally found my “people.” I was finally connecting with the special needs community in Indiana after tireless years of seeking the support and camaraderie I needed.
That moment finally arrived.
I spoke plainly but honestly, neither overly lauding nor denigrating the people who served us. But I prayed – oh, how I prayed! I asked that the Holy Spirit would guide the words of my mouth, because I had absolutely no preparation at all. I didn’t know what I was going to say until I actually stood up and said it.
This was coming from the girl who always prepares for potential obstacles in life. I was the one who dreaded giving a presentation or speech in school, making sure I rehearsed it twenty times before the live performance. But this day was different. I just trusted that God would provide the right words to be spoken and heard…and they were.
When I finished fifteen minutes later, three women approached me, all with tears welling in their eyes. They all thanked me and said they needed to hear what I said, needed to know that what they were doing every day was truly making a difference. For so long they had been carrying the baggage of state politics, buried underneath paperwork and regimens, and they had forgotten what their purpose and passion was.
God wanted to remind them that day, through my words. In so doing, at least three of them left encouraged and renewed in their resolve to help the kids and families who needed what they have to offer.
Finally, the coordinator of the workshop asked me if I would join the First Steps parent council, which is an advisory board offering input into the state’s program for kids with developmental disabilities. I obliged with gusto.
You see, my mission isn’t exclusive to Apert Syndrome or writing books about my personal experiences. My mission is God’s mission – it’s what He has in store for my life, which extends far beyond my reach, into the hearts and lives of countless people who are losing hope and losing faith.
May they discover or rediscover God through my hands and my voice.
Text Copyright 2016 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2013 “Chair” by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.