Our son Jeffrey had always been a confident kid, not afraid to step out and do his best to experience what other kids were doing, in spite of his disabilities.
So one day he comes home from school and says there’s a college fair coming up, and he planned on going. The school had already arranged special transportation for him, and his aide was going along too.
Phew, boy – well, OK…
He got home from the fair that day, and was so excited. He decided that he wanted to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), which had campuses in either Arizona or Florida.
Yeah, but we lived in Oregon!
But then came the reminder again that I wrote about in my last post Whose Child Is He?. I needed to trust God with Jeffrey’s life. If God opened the doors, we would walk through.
However in the back of my mind – I just couldn’t help it – how could college happen?
It was the summer of 2009, and Jeffrey had just finished his junior year of high school. Gary and I figured we probably should at least check out the nearest campus, so in the middle of July we took a trip down to Phoenix for our summer family vacation.
Our first stop was to head to Prescott which was about 2 hours from Phoenix. ERAU had arranged for us to tour the campus.
The college was impressive indeed – they owned about 35 of their own airplanes! The majority of the campus was also wheelchair accessible.
Jeffrey’s dream had always been to be a pilot. We were trying not to dissuade him, so after the tour we met with 2 counselors.
The first counselor explained to us that Jeffrey would have to pass an FAA medical exam in order to become a pilot. Couldn’t help it – my stomach started to sink a bit.
All of us in the room stressed to Jeffrey that even if he didn’t pass that exam now, he might be able to in the future. In the meantime he could always focus on something else in the aviation field.
After that we met with the special needs counselor. She was so nice, and so positive! She stated that if Jeffrey were to pass the FAA exam the campus would be required to modify some of the flight simulators to accommodate Jeffrey’s wheelchair. Jeffrey was all smiles. She also said some of the dorm rooms were accessible, and that they could provide assistance to him during the day, but we would have to find someone to help him after hours.
Again Jeffrey was beaming, but now all I could think about was “how on earth will we be able to afford all this?” Yet both Gary and I maintained a positive attitude, and left the campus with a pretty good feeling. After all, Jeffrey still had another year of high school before he really needed to make a decision – anything could happen!
After our college tour, we headed back to Phoenix to spend a week at a beautiful resort called the Tapatio.
One day we were at one of the pools trying to stay cool, but it was steaming hot, and I was getting pretty cranky.
We decided to head to the pool cafe for lunch, and of course we couldn’t immediately find a table that we could fit Jeffrey’s wheelchair under.
I started complaining, forgetting that when you have a special needs child there’s always someone watching you. And during my “whine-fest” there was.
As we continued to look for an open table, all of a sudden a woman comes up to me out of the blue and says she wants to give me a hug. Wake up call!
It turned out that her and her husband were staying there with their teenage son, who had autism. She saw us fumbling around, and her heart went out to us.
To me, it was just another reminder of my Heavenly Father who, even when I’m not acting as I should, often goes out of His way to bring someone to me that I can talk to – who had at least a general idea of the emotions and stress building inside me.
God loves you very much, my friends, and no matter where you are, or what path you may find yourself taking, He’s there and can help you through the day.