When Rhema colors – and she colors a lot – her fingers, face and clothes display her work. The paper looks like scribbles of blues, purples, reds and black.

I’ve learned to look closely, the moment her pen touches the paper. In so doing I’ve discovered a prize. She freely writes letters, numbers, mom, dad, her name, Hope, the alphabet… and hearts. She draws hearts (!). Some of the letters are embellished with circles on the end and extra swirls. Some letters find the edge of a box she’s drawn, others are in the center. She writes each letter quickly and then scribbles over it. You’d never realize it when looking at the finished product, but there are words. Hidden words on the page.

The first time she wrote her name – it wasn’t just her name, it was a work of art:


Rhema copies her name for the first name.

Isn’t that just like our kids? There’s so much to see and hear and discover beneath their swirling colors and sharp patterns, the seemingly odd choices and even difficult behavior. We get caught up with the dealing, the just-making-it-through-the-day.

When right there, right before our eyes, is treasure.

Don’t forget to look.

Describing Rhema to a group of college students I once said:

She does not often look up. She may cover her face if you speak to her. She may not seem to hear you or understand what you are saying. She rocks and hums. She squeezes her eyes shut. She shrieks and giggles. She does not speak. She rarely shows emotion on her face. She has no super-talent that we know of – she’s a Special Olympics gymnastics dropout. She has really good days and really not good days. She’s predictably unpredictable. She is often overlooked, occupying the periphery. She is severely affected by autism and a stubborn seizure disorder. She needs help with every part of her day. She is God’s workmanship, fearfully and wonderfully made.

You really should know her. She’s amazing, she’s beautiful, she’s gentle and smart.

How do you get to know her? Say hello anyway. Come near and catch her soft smile. Hear her sweet song. She has this way of loving, of showing you things you’d never expect to see.


2 thoughts on “Hidden

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