|Connie's son and Angel-dog Geisha|
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.