trees and hills

Friday, October 21, 2011

Connie Almony--A Dog With Skin Problems, An Autistic Child, and Heaven Sent Joy

Everyone's Story welcomes Connie Almony, a writer aiming for the Christian fiction market. She's also a mental health counselor, hosts her own blog Living the Body of Christ, and is a dedicated shoulder-to-lean on. She shares with us how well God knows our desires and how He sees to our needs in the least expected ways. Connie looks forward to hearing from you if you'd like to share your own insights, experiences, or encouragement.
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Prepared in Advance
Ephesians 2:10
Years ago, before I knew much about God or how He worked, I prayed He would make me a good mom. But as a believer of the doctrine, “God helps those who help themselves,” I set out to make that happen. I read books on child development, studied psychology and took a job as a counselor in a day-care center. I was ready—or so I thought.
Then God threw me for a loop. He gave me a child with autism. And though some of the above training and experience I accrued helped, nothing prepared me like the unexpected events God threw in along the way.
Shortly after the prayer I mentioned above, my sister and her husband had to move to Kansas. On the day they packed their last belongings in a moving truck, I asked them, “What are you going to do about your dog?” Jan looked at me with pleading in her eyes and I knew that question was mine to answer. I had to figure out what to do with the untrained, allergy-riddled dog that tore up my belongings every time I visited. Great.
So I took her in with the sole purpose of finding her a home—not mine. Within one week her beautiful fur began to fall out, her skin festered with sores and she licked uncontrollably until her skin flamed red. I took her to the vet only to be referred to a doggy dermatologist.
Really?! 
Five to eight hundred dollars later (I can’t remember exactly—it’s all a blur now), I found out she was allergic to just about everything, and would require a special diet, regular medicine and weekly shots that I’d have to administer. All for a dog I didn’t even like.
In the process of getting her well, I trained her. I know, a novel idea … at least to my sister. Turned out she was not as evil as I’d originally thought. She just needed to learn some manners, not to mention gain freedom from the constant, nagging itch that plagued her every, waking moment. And then it happened. I fell in love with her. She became my baby and eventually slept beside me at night. A wonderful friend.
Connie's son and Angel-dog Geisha

Years later, I would tell people she was an angel sent from God to teach me how to be a good mom. In fact, I learned more from her than the books and child-care experience combined. There is nothing like having a living being, who looks to you as its sole means of survival, counting on you alone. Very different from the children I gave back to their parents at 5PM every day, and not seeing them at all when they were sick.
So, as I told people God gave her to me for this purpose, I’d chuckle, “I guess He’s gonna give me a high-maintenance child.” Then my son came. My wonderful, sweet, loving … and yes, sometimes high maintenance, son. The son who needs special training, special medicine and special diets. Just as God had prepared.
Then God went a step further. Two years before my little guy was born, I entered a Christian book store specifically to find something by one of my favorite 19th Century authors, George MacDonald. I found only one title with his name on it. The back cover described the story of a mute boy. Now how could that be any good? There wouldn’t even be much dialogue. But something told me to buy it. So I did. And quickly, I discovered it would be among my favorite books of all time. Such a favorite that the third time I read it was to my three-year-old, autistic son, who had not yet learned to speak. I was a third of the way through the book when it dawned on me how much the Gibby of the story was like my little boy. And suddenly, I knew, everything would be okay. My son may never talk, but God had a plan for him just the same. Just as He had for Gibby.
So this is how God prepared me—to see who my son was and not just what he wasn’t. I thank You, My Creator, for this wonderful gift and preparing me to nurture and appreciate it.
Caution:
Whenever I write or talk about my son and his giftedness in heart, I feel I need to caution readers who do not experience the effects of autism on a daily basis. Yes, I can see my son as a gift from God. His autism has made him quiet and even serene. His particular gifting is in how he seems to read the emotions of others in a room better than the average person. Others struggling with this disorder have a very opposite experience. Their affected child may speak and understand, read and write, but are emotionally distant, and may engage in violent behavior. If you know someone struggling with the effects of this disorder in their homes, please do not press on them how they should see autism as a gift from God. Though I truly think God can reveal Himself through their struggles and their child is also a gift, this kind of intrusion can only leave the afflicted feeling alone and misunderstood. Pray for them … and in any way you can, help to bring them relief!
Author Bio:
Connie is trained as a mental health counselor. While working on her Master’s Degree she actually lived in an all-male dorm as part of the job requirement as a Resident Director. This experience is the inspiration for her current Work-In-Progress (WIP) entitled, One Among Men.
Connie hosts the blog Living the Body of Christ (http://livingthebodyofchrist.blogspot.com/) dedicated to help readers find and use the gifts God gave them. She also writes for InfiniteCharacters.com (http://infinitecharacters.com/), a group blog dedicated to guide writers in their pursuit of a dream and readers in their pursuit of a good read.


15 comments:

  1. Hi Connie and Elaine! Great post!

    I have had experiences similar to yours, Connie. I had a dog with terrible allergies and my son has Aspergers. And I love George MacDonald! It's always amazing to see how God weaves our various experiences into something for His plan, even if we don't see it at the time.

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  2. Excellent article. God promises all things will work together for our good (Rom. 8:28) with the condition that we love Him and that we're called according to His purpose. His purpose might be quite different than what we perceive. He has a way of preparing us for things we have no idea are on the horizon.

    Blessings,

    Tom Blubaugh
    Night of the Cossack

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  3. Jennifer, fascinating similarities you & Connie share! So glad you visited Everyone's Story today.

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  4. Tom, you've definitely spoke the truth. There have been so many times I wonder why a particular event is happening in my life only to later realize that this was all His way of preparing me for what He wants. Thanks for the visit to Everyone's Story.

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  5. Beautiful Blog....great lesson learned from your post.

    We never know why something or someone is brought into our lives.

    NEW FOLLOWER.

    Stop by my blog to see some flying bats at the bottom of the Blog Hop candy post. :)

    Elizabeth

    http://silversolara.blogspot.com

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  6. Wow, there is another MacDonald fan with a dog and child like mine. Thank you all for stopping by and sharing in my story. I have been so amazed at how God has revealed himself in my life. It hasn't always been in what we normally think of as the blessings, but how He holds my hand through the difficult times. It' amazing to really know I can get through ANY storm because He will always be there.

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  7. Connie is an amazing gal! I am privileged to call her a friend and glad she is also serving as an Area Coordinator now in the MidAtlantic Zone. Thanks so much for sharing your testimony with us! Blessings!

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  8. What an inspiring blog, Connie. Thanks for sharing with us. I'm so happy for the wonderful relationship you and your son have. I'm glad too that you were able to help the poor, allergic, unhappy dog.

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  9. Thanks for sharing, Connie, and for the all-important caution, too. On the lighter side, as one with a dog who just chewed the sleeve off my husband's coat (that he left outside!) I'm hoping the puppy-training starts kicking in soon. :-)

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  10. Hi Connie, Such a touching story. It's so exciting to see how the Lord prepared your way and you walked every step with him. Thanks for sharing. I love the picture of your son and the dog.

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  11. Connie, thanks for being a guest on Everyone's Story this past week. You're a sweetheart of a mom and friend and I pray for many blessings of joy & health to you and your family.

    ♥ Elaine

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  12. Thanks Elaine. And thanks to the rest of you for coming by and sharing in my story. God has written many wonderful stories, both in the Bible and in the lives of His children. It's always a blessing to see His love unfold through them.

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  13. Elaine,
    Thanks for featuring such an interesting story.

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  14. Elaine,
    Weighing in as one more with a son on the spectrum (asperger's). And having had dogs with allergies, I applaud your dedication. Not an easy row to hoe.

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