Julian Is Twenty
This cute little guy is leaving the teen years behind and turning 20 years old today. How can this be happening already?
Julian Dale, our firstborn son, filled my heart with joy and fulfillment. I had prayed a long time for this child and was excited to have my very own baby boy. He was a peaceful, calm, and contented baby. I remember asking my Mom if it's alright to just hold him even though he was sleeping, because he basically slept and ate for the first month or two. I didn't want to train him into thinking he needs to be held all the time, but Mom reassured me it was quite fine. I was a highly inexperienced young mother, but don't we all start there?
In about two years he was joined by a baby sister. Julian and Jacquelyn were happy little playmates. As the months went by, Julian developed into a shy, intense little guy, and his bouncy and outgoing little sister was the perfect complement to him.
Mostly, he was a happy child, but we noticed he had unusual fears and sensitivities. After several years, a friend suggested he may be autistic. I had never heard of it but was willing to do some research. Because he was our first child we, naturally, figured his issues had to do with improper training on our part. We also did not want to 'label' our child as an excuse for bad behavior...irrational fears, screaming in terror, disobedience, tension, etc...
I have regrets, simply because we were young and ignorant, tried to make him fit into a standard mold, and made ever so many mistakes. The good news is that mistakes are not final. We can learn from them, we can apologize, and we will keep learning for the rest of our lives. Though Julian has not had an easy life, I am convinced that God gave him to us intentionally (as my husband told me many times when I grew discouraged) and that He has our good and His glory in mind.
Through the years we've asked God to guide us to the right answers, the proper methods, the path He wants us to walk in as we raise our children, deal with autism, and face various other complications. His ways and thoughts are certainly foreign to ours, but He does give direction by the Holy Spirit if we take the time to listen and respond.
Some issues were solved by medical intervention, some by hard work and diligent training, and others by trained therapists and educational aides. There are also limitations we have to be willing to live with. Our life on earth will not be perfect in the sense of all problems forever solved. But we press on toward the goal of living in Christ...
"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14
Seven years old and ready to head out the door for his first day of school. After failed attempts at homeschool, we had a meeting with the local school's special ed teacher, psychologist, and speech and language therapist. They were wonderful to work with and gave us much assistance in finding a plan to meet Julian's needs.
To our utter amazement, our son flourished in public school with the help of an aide and a therapist plus a very sympathetic teacher. They watched him change from a fearful and shy little guy who sat on the sidelines into a social butterfly. We noticed changes at home too. It was an incredible answer to our prayers for help. For us, having trained professionals come to our rescue in those first few years of formal education was invaluable.
We are grateful for a Father who knows and meets our needs at just the right time. We're so proud of our son, of the obstacles he has overcome, and not a bitter bone in his body. He is kind, a lover of peace, gentle, thankful, and an encourager.
Some of his interests include...
Map-making. He made this at age 12 by tracing the states from a road atlas, cutting them all out, and taping them together.
Reading about history, facts, or sports. Fishing. But I think he gave up on fishing on this particular day and switched back to reading.
Miniature golf. He informed me the other day that the course here in Sugarcreek is open for business. I expect we'll pay them a visit quite soon.
Tennis. We don't play often enough to be good at it, except for Dale, but it's a great game for the four of us to play together.
Highways. This is what his bedroom looks like most of the time. Stacks and stacks of papers with roadmap information taken from an atlas or google maps. He is, of course, an excellent navigator. He's been studying roads since he was a toddler. At just a few years of age, I remember him craning his neck to watch the roads and calling out corrections when we took the wrong ones. I have decided it will be a lifelong fascination. A very useful one at that.
Puzzles. Sometimes he likes it and other times he refuses to do them. He had fun helping Mommy when she came to visit. I love the bond they share.
There is another thing Julian loves. His job. Or maybe I should put it the way Dale does, "He is Passionate about his job!" A friend of ours was willing to give him a try with loading and unloading furniture. We had no idea if and how it would work, but Julian liked it from the start. It was another answer to prayer, as this had been an area of some concern. We will say it again, "Our Father meets all of our needs." He has been so incredibly faithful each step of the way.
Julian is his dad's right hand man on any home repair jobs that come up.
His favorite spot, by the front window in the living room.
When God gave us this young man He gave us a precious gift we love and treasure. I've said it before, but he is the most unstressed person I know. As a child, he was often intense and frustrated, but God has changed that so drastically.
"We love you, Julian, and hope you have a very Happy Birthday!"