We were at a gathering recently, and Rhema was having a rough day. There was a big tantrum. Then lots and lots of running. She could not stay still.

I chased her into a kitchen where two women were chatting and cleaning up.

I heard:

“… So hard… But their daughter Hope? Now that one is smart.”

Her voice held an It’s-such-a-pity tone.

She looked up in surprise when she saw me. I knew that they had been discussing my family, my daughters. I knew the woman meant well; she was speaking out of concern.

She just didn’t know.

(I used to think “smart” only came in one flavor, as well. When I graduated from Dartmouth, I thought I was pretty smart. Since then God has humbled me – largely through my children – and taught me about wisdom.) 

Rhema raced over to a cabinet filled with glasses. I caught her before she could accidentally break a glass. Then she darted out of the kitchen, and I followed close behind.


I wanted to get the chance to say,

“Rhema is smart, too. No, she does not really speak. She’s still learning how to point. We’re still working on non-verbal imitation. Still working on object labeling. Still trying to teach her to sit and attend; to identify colors, numbers, letters, animals, etc. Still trying to teach her how to draw a straight a line.

But she is so smart, so wise.

In spite of continuous electrical activity in the brain – comparable to a radio station losing its signal over and over again – she has managed to learn.

In spite of auditory processing problems, she understands that when I say “I love you”, she is loved.

In spite of sensory integration issues, she is learning how to navigate this world and make it through a day.

In spite of a broken communication system, she is a master problem solver and comes up with resourceful ways to get the things she puzzle_girlneeds and wants… everyday.

If you could really consider all of the challenges she faces, you would be amazed, like me, at how much she has learned, how well she has done. She’s brilliant, I tell you. 

Oh. And she’s a puzzle whiz.”

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to say.


This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight.” Jer 9:23-24

28 thoughts on “Smart

  1. Empathizing with every line and phrase you turn. A related verse resonated with me lately. When I spoke to a local MOPS group and it was in my outline as well as on their binders for the semester and then in my mailbox from another organization, I figured it was one to personalize. (Not like I need it on a Goodyear blimp or anything?!) Ephesians 3:14-19 “….to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Praying Rhema and Reid and Hope and Allie know that love even if they never appear “smart.”

  2. Over and over again, your life and mine have these funky parallels — the overheard conversation could so easily have been about my girls (well, replace “Hope” with “Rose” but you know what I mean).

    Give your brilliant older daughter an extra hug for me.

  3. I hope those woman had the grace to be embarrassed.

    Rhema is brilliant. All of our special flavor kids are brilliant. They overcome more each day to just be with us, then those clucking hens in the kitchen will over come in a year.

    Hug those girls close and hug yourself!


  4. Sis, pray not only for those women, but for all people (especially the adults) who walk around daily with blinders on. Not only does your precious angel withhold more wisdom than most, she has the gift of teaching us – but ONLY if we open our eyes to the glory of God. What a blessing for me that your eyes are open to the works of God through Rhema, and that you selflessly share these priceless lessons to all of us. All of God’s creations are wonderfully made in His sight, and I am grateful for His diversity.

    I continue to pray your strength. Keep looking to the hills from whence cometh your help!

    All my love to you and your family!

  5. I couldn’t help but think what a gift it is that the meaning or pity of those words would be lost to Rhema. She bopped out of that kitchen enjoying the stimulation of the many sights and sounds around her without giving a thought to the words that were somewhat carelessly tossed about in that room.

    It reminded me of a story I heard once about a deaf man who was in a climbing competition. A challenge was put before several top climbers to scale a newly completed skyscraper. The crowd began by encouraging all of the climbers. Yelling out things like, “Go for it!” “You can do it!”etc. But as the few top climbers were nearing the top floors, they were struggling and worn. The initial burst of adrenalin depleted. The words of the crowd changed to questioning of if they could do it. People actually yelling, “you’ve done great – no need to prove that you can make it all the way!” etc. The climbers (for the most part) could hear the crowd’s negativity and the questioning that they were expressing about the climbers ability to reach the top began to discourage those who could hear the change in “atmosphere” of the on lookers. However, the one who did not have the ability to physically hear only “heard” the encouragements signed by his friends and family before he began. He was the ONLY one to make it to the top…

    God has amazing purposes for each of our children. Rhema is designed exactly as God meant for her to be and she has the gift of blocking out some of the negativity of this world…negative words – even intentional ones – may not affect her as they would others. She will reach the summit for which God has created her for…with the encouragement and love of her mother (and other family members and friends) who have invested time and energy to plant those positive seeds deep within her.

    Sorry for the length of my comment! I’m short on time or I’d convert it to an e-mail.


  6. also, the creative spark: Why is she so drawn to putting things in slots? I tend to think there’s a lot we just don’t understand yet. The expression of that spark is a work in progress, but I don’t doubt that it’s there.

  7. it’s so hard to hear that kind of thing. i know you wish you’d been able to educate those women, but believe me lady, you do. each and every day, you do. you’ll get around to them next time.

  8. yes. she IS smart! and persistent! like you!

    i’m not sure what will turn others around from the pity to the real SEEING.

  9. Love the post! I come from an intellectual family (my parents are college profs) so before Kayla I had a narrow version of “smart” as well.

  10. Those women will be educated at some point to understand that different does not equal not smart.

    Rhema is definitely smart – she daily overcomes more obstacles than everyone. Hugs.

  11. Good for you.I wish I had been there I would have said all of those things for you and then smacked them.:-)Love, Gramma Smith

  12. If that bible verse is how you measure smart, then I’d say Rhema and children like her are the very smartest ones. They are tapped in for sure to a much higher form of intelligence.

  13. I think that those women – and many other people – really need to view intelligence differently. Rhema is smart in ways that not even we can comprehend. We have so much to learn from her. xoxo

  14. Oh, girl! I love the expression of your heart (and His Truth)! I spent about three hours this morning meditating on Scriptures having to do with wisdom and discernment. (Didn’t intend to go there, but He took me there.)

    There’s not enough space for all of my notes, but here are a couple of them:

    DISCERNMENT-acuteness of judgment & understanding

    PENETRATION-power of seeing deeply into a subject in spite of everything that intercepts the view

    DISCRIMINATION-capacity to trace out minute distinctions & shades of thought.

    A DISCERNING mind is not easily misled. One of a PENETRATING mind sees a multitude of things that escapes others. A DISCRIMINATING judgment detects the slightest differences.

    I’d say Rhema is discerning, penetrating, and discriminating (and brilliant!) … with wisdom from the Spirit (reference 1 Corinthians 2:6-16). “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” (v. 13)

    So, there! 🙂

  15. PART 2:

    I’d say that Rhema is discerning, penetrating, AND discriminating … with a wisdom beyond human understanding.

    “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” (1 Corinthians 2:13; see v.6-16)

    So, there! 🙂

  16. OK, Jeneil. The enemy does not want this comment to post! This is my seventh try. Maybe it’s too long; I’ll try it in three parts this time.

    I love the expression of your heart (and His Truth!) here, and, just this morning, I spent three hours meditating on Scriptures about wisdom and discernment. (I didn’t intend to go there today, but the Lord led me there.) There’s not space for all my notes, but following are a few …

  17. Wow, wherever I go it seems that I hear these kinds of insensitive comments. Must be a weird week. Let me just say, you are not alone in your experience of these comments but you certainly are wise in how you handle them!

  18. A puzzle whiz who loves to run? I think Rhema and my Bitty would have a great time just hanging out together :). They might not actually interact much, but I think they’d give anyone who tried to keep up with them a run for their money ;).

    I can totally relate to not being able to slow down long enough to actually give the response you want to. I hope those women read your blog because your response is perfect… you are so right.

  19. Oh, girl, I am sorry for cluttering up your comment space. A weird (but unsuccessful!) force was blocking the way yesterday! At least you got it. Feel free to delete my duplicate fragmented comments! 🙂

  20. Hey Jeneil!
    I don’t know whether you “do” blog awards or not; but I have two on my blog today for you.

    I am blessed to call you friend!


  21. Jeremiah 9:23-24 is my life verse. There is no other worthy boast than that of Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I, for one, thinks that anyone who does the same makes us the wisest of them all.

    Thank you for continuing to share your story with us. You are my hero, today. Thus, today, I will offer my own children more patience than I have, more time than I want, more hugs than I assume that they need. You are a good mother. Thank you for giving me a window into how to “do it” better.


  22. You know, over the past few months as I’ve been reading your posts, time and time again I’ve thought “That kid is amazing!” “How brilliant!” “She’s so smart.” And I’m sure every other mother reading your blog can see it as well. We get it! We all know how resourceful and creative our kids have to be to make it through each day. And we see their amazing gifts that are so overlooked by the rest of the world. It really feels like a parallel universe. I’ve heard comments like that as well, and I know I don’t handle it with as much composure as you have.

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