Keeping on

So one night Brandon and I decided to watch a movie my mother had recommended called, Facing the Giants. This was years ago – Rhema was two or three. I think of that time, the span of a year, in which Rhema was diagnosed with autism and then with epilepsy as the year I could not concentrate. We were immersed in 30+ hours of ABA, speech therapy, OT and any other therapy I could find. I remember walking around the grocery store thinking, ‘My daughter has autism.’ I recall sitting in church as people sang and the pastor preached and the only thought running through my head was, ‘My daughter has epilepsy. My daughter has autism.’

(What’s so interesting is that even now, after all these years of continued therapy, IEP meetings and appointments and the myriad days and minutes of living life with my beautiful, complex, amazing girl, the shock of her autism can still knock the wind out of me).

Anyway we put in this movie starring a Christian film director. The suppporting cast was made up of volunteers from a Baptist church in Georgia. During the first twenty minutes of the film, B and I laughed because we thought the acting was so amateur. By the end of the movie we were bawling like babies.

There’s this part in the movie where a boy has to do the death crawl across the football field while he is blindfolded and carrying another team member on his back. The boy keeps crying out, “It’s too hard! I can’t do this. It hurts!” And all the while his coach is beside him, yelling at him to keep going and not quit. Call me crazy, but at that time in my life when my world had fallen down, when I seemed immobilized by a haze of grief over my child’s diagnoses, I felt like God was talking to me… through a small-budget football movie… telling me to ‘keep going.’ That He was with us and would get us down that field.

(I know nobody ever has time to watch videos. But in case you do, this is the scene.)

As Rhema and I try to do RPM at home I am again reminded to press on. It’s not going so well for us, this RPM. (I’m chuckling because that is the understatement of the year). I don’t feel like a natural teacher. I get discouraged and feel like I lack the skills, patience and perseverance to teach her well. My gratitude and admiration for her teachers and what they do every day has increased even more.

From Rhemashope Faceboook page:


We’ve had many days of (ahem) less than successful RPM sessions, but Rhema and I seemed to really make some progress today! A precious mom in Australia gave me some ideas to try, and by the end of the session my girl was pointing to letters on a letterboard to spell words. (Thanks Bec!)

Afterwards Rhema had a huge smile stuck on her face. She is not a big smiler. Brandon said, “She seems really happy! She can’t stop smiling!”

I think she knows. We’re not giving up. We’re going to keep trying and working hard to help her find ways to communicate. We’re getting better and closer every day. And I think tonight she really grabbed hold of that hope.


When I am most overwhelmed by the road before us, it seems then that Rhema will show me something. Something that speaks louder than words. In her own, amazing Rhema-way she encourages me that she is learning and growing and communicating all the time.

I think it’s her telling me. And me telling her. And God telling us…

Yes, my love. I know it’s so hard. Today we are going to keep on.

5 thoughts on “Keeping on

  1. Oh my gosh!! Dave and I have totally watched that movie and had the same reaction as you….giggling at the laughing and then crying as te movie progressed. Thank you for the beautiful post.

  2. What a gorgeous smile she has. Your perseverance is inspiring. I love that a mom in Australia was able to help! Wonderful world.

  3. That smile is just amazing! And is it just me, or does she suddenly look so grown-up? She knows. 🙂 Someone recently told me to look at progress over months and years, because up close in the “daily” stuff it can often be hard to see. Cheering you on!

  4. Jeneil,

    Your thoughts leave me breathless at times. My eyes glaze with tears that are blended with so many diverse emotions. The honesty you offer is courageous and fearless and so very helpful and refreshing to read. I am grateful to you for sharing your life with us. Rhema and Hope are extremely fortunate to have a Mom that loves them in the special way you do.

    I hold similar awe for my wife Michelle and the unyielding patience, fortitude and love she has for my autistic son Ryan and my typical son Justin.

    Mothers are truly an incredibly wondrous gift to us all.

    Thank you for sharing with us your Motherly inspiration.

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