Rhema was a few months shy of her 2nd birthday when she started receiving speech therapy. There was no autism diagnosis yet, but tests indicated a hearing loss due to fluid buildup in her ears. Ear tubes were quickly inserted, and we waited with baited breath for the promised language explosion.

Messages to my faithful friend Cha:
Dec 2005
since she can hear significantly better now, the speech and language should improve. i’m praying to see major improvements very soon… like NOW.

Jan 2006
she is starting to say some words… maybe? i still would prefer that she be quoting shakespeare by now. but there goes God teaching me patience and trust again. =) i’ve even enrolled in a speech therapy class myself – i have homework and everything! trying to do what i can to help rhema catch up…

March 2006
I’m so impatient. I want her to talk, talk, talk and understand everything I teach her. She’s nowhere close to where I want her to be…

Five years and an autism and seizure diagnosis later, Rhema is still pre-verbal. Never has my desire for her to ‘talk, talk, talk’ wavered. In fact, as she grows older the longing to know her heart-thoughts — to have even just one real conversation with my girl– only intensifies.

I was thinking about a funny practice we had in my church youth group. The leader would ask if anyone had any prayer requests. Then he’d ask for “unspokens.” Those were prayers requests that you had but didn’t want to say out loud, so you just quietly raised your hand. Then we’d all pray for the “unspokens.” God heard every word, every request of the heart, even if it was unspoken.

It dawned on me that Rhema has many unspokens. Oh, how she speaks…

Her big toothy smile and giggles tell me she is so happy to be here

Her soft hums say she’s content

Her deep gaze with big brown eyes whispers ‘I know I’m safe with you’

Her spontaneous hug is the only way she knows to say thank you

Her shrieks are excitement uncontained

Her wailing usually means ‘I need cheese or a popsicle stat.’

Her very life is one beautiful, unending song: God is good!

Brandon sent the following message to a friend after Rhema’s ear tube surgery. He could not have known…:

She’s BEGINNING to talk…very little, but my estimate is that she was about 8 months behind, so I anticipate a daughter that we can’t get to stop talking in about 5 more months… You know her name means “God’s spoken word to the soul/heart” as it is used in the Bible. We always prayed that she would be a witness for Christ…and for months we were afraid that she might not even be able to hear or speak. I quietly thought that perhaps the Lord was going to use her to speak in ways that words might not be able to…that she might have a special gift of communicating or living that spoke of Jesus in speechless ways…but it was ironic that we called her that name and went thru about 1 year wondering if she would ever speak…but she won’t be silenced. Jeneil says we will always tell her of this time and the prayers we prayed…and how special her gift of speaking is…

(Smile). Sometimes God’s plans for our children are even bigger than our own.

I daresay, Rhema – and the precious ones like her – do and will speak of Him in ways that words cannot.

And I believe there will be a day (if not in this life, then in heaven) when she will hear and respond and talk and sing to her Maker forever; she will be unhindered by autism.

Until then, there is much to hear.

19 thoughts on “Unspokens

  1. Beautiful…….In our silence He still hears us. I love you Neally and we will never stop praying for our Rhema. Thank you for allowing God to use you through this blog ministry. I am so proud of who you are!

    Love your baby sister,

  2. That’s right! If not in this life, then in heaven! And all will be well. And their words will pour out – praise, adoration, worship uncontained. Their Creator will smile with delight at them. And this life will be gone and forgotten. I am believing and praying with you, for Rhema, for Erik, for all those little ones who can’t make words yet. The day will come! I hope it is soon, but if it’s not, that doesn’t matter. It will come! xx

  3. I quietly thought that perhaps the Lord was going to use her to speak in ways that words might not be able to

    amen, sweet friend. amen.

    i cannot tell you how much i enjoyed my time with rhema the other day. rolling together on the soft blanket in my room – rubbing her back as she burrowed into the covers. there may not be words, but there is a connection that forces us much deeper than spoken language.

    while i pray every day for the words to come, i too stand in awe of how much your baby communicates.

    yet still, i pray.

  4. I’m right there with you.  Not wavering in the desire to hear our children speak but taking in all that they do offer.  They are indeed a blessing and even in their silence, perhaps because of it, they teach valuable lessons they don’t know they are teaching. 

  5. Love it!
    So many unspokens. They are unspoken, but not unnoticed, not ignored, not unimportant, not unsung. I am only now learning to listen to the love song around me everyday that God is singing to me in tiny blessings throughout my days and nights. It is unspoken, but at the same time loud and clear if you train yourself to listen. Grace on you as you listen to Rhema’s songs. And we can’t wait for the day she uses words! It’s just a matter of time.

  6. So beautiful and so inspiring. As much as we long for the words, it is that connection of thoughts and hearts that matters most. Both of my boys teach me that – the one who has scripted and memorized words, and the one who, as of yet, has none. With or without the spoken words, they find ways to reach you, to touch you.

  7. Wonderful. Just wonderful. I worried once that Ryan wouldn’t understand a relationship with Christ… and God spoke to my heart, “You don’t worry about that. That’s my job… just keep going.” Love it… and you can bet Rhema has huge purposes… one of them is already happening. She, through you, encourages me! Jeremiah 29:11!!! 😀 thank you for sharing again!

  8. This is such a beautiful post. I smiled when you mentioned “unspokens” – it has been a long time since I heard that word, but it brought back memories of being a struggling teenager too embarrassed to tell others what she was dealing with but wanting to reach out somehow anyway.

    God is doing great things in both of you!

  9. This is such a beautiful post. Would you mind letting me repost it on my blog next Friday? I write about special needs ministry and feature posts from parents of children with disabilities each Friday so that church leaders can have the opportunity to learn more about the realities of life and faith for those whose lives are affected by special needs. I’ll include a link back here and encourage readers to check out your other posts because your whole blog is a blessing!

  10. Oh, how she speaks. Thank you for reminding me…there is so much beautiful, “unspoken” language around us…if we will only listen, and hear.

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