Finding the Lock – Part 3

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”
~Ephesians 3:20

Rhema started Day 3 off by bolting into the building and attempting to swipe markers from the office. But the main office door was locked, and Rhema was not happy about it. She was resistant to walk away from the door. Soma pulled out a stencil board and a pencil and asked Rhema about the door. With a little prompting Rhema poked the pencil through the letters, spelling LOCKED. And then she calmed.

We moved to the classroom and as Soma began the lesson we realized that Rhema had cut her hand, most likely during the struggle at the office door. Soma said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have cut you with the pencil.” She looked at me and apologized, “I feel horrible.”

Rhema touched the scratch on her hand.

Soma said, “I’m so sorry. Does it hurt?”

She held up the stencils.

Rhema spelled, IT WAS MY FAULT.

You guys. I just sat there frozen in disbelief. I couldn’t even breathe. So often it has seemed to me that Rhema was not even aware of her actions. Who was this person? Taking responsibility, seeking to remove guilt from another. How did she even know the expression ‘It was my fault’?

Unfazed, Soma continued with the lesson as if my whole world had not been forever altered.

It was a geography lesson and I was in a haze. I vaguely remember Rhema being prompted through spelling words like river, meander, mountains, glacier, plains and delta.

I “came to” when Soma announced Rhema would be given a multiple choice test on what she’d learned. She explained to Rhema that this is what they do in school – they give tests to see what information the student has retained. Rhema selected the correct answers to the questions. I had to guess on one of the questions because I did not know the answer. Rhema got 100.

She asked me what Rhema had done in math. Huh? I mumbled something about patterns and counting. Soma started off with simple addition and subtraction and progressed to showing her how to add and subtract 3 digit numbers. Soma quizzed her non-stop for about 15 minutes and included math problems and reasoning. This child who cannot verbally count to ten. I watched as if in a dream as she pointed to number stencils and answered every math problem correctly.

Soma asked her, “Is this easy or hard? Tap E for easy or H for hard.” Rhema tapped the E and then Soma encouraged her to spell the rest of the word. EASY.

Well, that did it. The math did me in; my mind thoroughly blown.

Hope leaned over and whispered that I was “crying a little bit.”

I got on the phone and blubbered to Brandon, “Get on a plane to Texas. You’ve got to see this. You’ve got to see what’s happening.”

Brandon got to Texas for Day 4 of RPM camp and was able to see Rhema do math problems and answer questions. Her emotions seemed to be all over the place during her sessions that day. She cried at one point and spelled SAD – the first time she’s ever been able to communicate an emotion like that. Soon after, she was in a super silly mood and one of the last words she spelled in her session was DAD.


Coming home was strange… even our house feels different somehow. Rhema is the same girl she’s always been with the same challenges and needs, yet everything about her and everything around her feels illumined, forever changed.

The task of picking up where Soma left off and continuing to teach her to spell on the letter boards is daunting. The first couple days back have been hard. I’m scared to death we’ll botch the whole thing, but we’re giving it all we’ve got. We know too much now.

These hidden treasures are in all of our children. I believe that now more than ever.

God has done this amazing thing in our lives. It is indeed the gift I have prayed and waited for (and I know many have prayed along with us – thank you!). He signed his glorious name on it all in love. I am overwhelmed and humbled by such grace and generosity. Five years ago I wrote here: I want to tell everyone I know that God is the Speech Maker. With Him, nothing is impossible. He alone can give words to the one with no voice.

Come and listen.

Can you hear her?


18 thoughts on “Finding the Lock – Part 3

  1. I’ve been away so I read all 3 parts in 1 sitting. I am in awe. I started crying when tomato juice guy offered his tablet (part 1) and I didn’t stop until Rhema wrote dad (part 3). This is wonderful Jeneil. I pray that things just keep getting better and better.

  2. Oh my gosh, absolutely wonderful! Don’t worry about botching things up, the foundation is there, I am confident that if you explain to Rhema that you guys will try your hardest to continue the things you’ve learned, that she can also continue to communicate, perhaps you can have your own alphabet board, you will continue to make progress, and Rhema will continue to communicate.

    On a side note, I’m curious… Soma is always pictured wearing a loose, plain tan, over sized shirt. But under she has what looks like bright colors. Does she wear that shirt to provide less visual distraction during lessons?

    • Thank you, Christina!
      I’m not sure why Soma wears the shirt. The temp is intentionally cooler in the clinic so that may have something to do with it. Some students have aggressions so she might be protecting her arms. Also, you’re right it could be to provide less visual distraction.

  3. Oh, Jeneil. Communication is an incredible gift, but it’s a massive change, and, well, some of us are a bit unsure about change, even the very best kind. It’s beautifully, terrifyingly hard and huge, and it comes out every which way… for her and for you.

    Rhema, Rhema. Think of all the verses and sweet words you’ve whispered to her. You’ve planted the seeds and nurtured them and now, the rain has fallen and the sun is shining and sprouts will be popping up all over the place where everyone will see them and know they’ve been there all along.

  4. I don’t comment very often, but often enjoy reading your posts. This one brought tears to my eyes. How amazing/encouraging.

  5. All three parts of this brought forth emotions hard to describe. A combination of joy, excitement, hopefullness…I am grateful God is making miracles happen in Rhema’s life. She is now beginning to be able to share the deep thoughts of her heart that she hasn’t been able to before. Can’t wait to learn more.

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