Day 7: Effective Communication
Proverbs 12:18 -The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.
Happy Seventh Day of Thanks Everyone!
For those of you who have been on the Thirty Days off Thanks journey for the past five year, you know of my mini-me. For those of you who don't know my mini-me, Ms. Delilah Christina, you are in for a real treat because she is a riot. Besides being very intelligent, sneaky, diva-licious, a sultry songstress, an amazing artist and having a touch of class all in her own league, she will cut you a sharp eye in a heartbeat to let you know that you've just reached the end of her tolerance and her wrath is about to ensue. (Yes, I still claim her!!!! She is definitely mine).
Being the mom of this uniquely gifted young lady has been such an adventure. For those of you who don't know, Ms. Delilah is autistic, has catamenial seizures, and is "minimally" verbal. However, the minimal is in quotes because however minimal she is verbally, she is definitely an effective communicator. It has been such a privilege to see the ways in which Lilah has communicated throughout the almost 17 years she has been affected in her speech.
In my brief description of Lilah, I mentioned that she is an artist. She has been drawing since she was two years old. Before that age, I would teach her to copy the basic things that I knew to draw. But somewhere around two years old, she got a mind of her own and created her own masterpieces that were way beyond what I could even dream up. I was amazed at how she could draw flowers and geometrical shapes that were contoured so perfectly. She would draw cartoon characters. I still have her first Dora the Explorer and Boots drawing, which was really good for a two-year-old. I say all this to say that Lilah has used her art as a means to communicate to the world. Whether using her art as a tool to draw something with prophetic meaning or wanting to say what's on her mind and heart, Lilah picks up her pen or pencil, crayons, markers or colored pencils and starts drawing away.
Recently, Lilah had a bad accident during one of her seizures which ripped out one of her front teeth and cracked several others. That devastation is a reflection for another day. At one of the first dental visits, her dentists promised that they would fix her teeth and make them as if they were brand new. I imagine hearing those words relieved Lilah in a big way. Another thing I forgot to tell you about Ms. Delilah is that she inherited her father's vainness. She likes to look in the mirror at herself for long periods of time. (SMH!) She is also destined to be a fashion model and a singer, both of which require that her teeth and smile are on point. I'm sure Lilah seeing her teeth cracked and not at all like they used to be concerned her. The damage to her teeth has had us at dentists' appointments every two weeks for almost three months. And, unfortunately, each time we've scheduled a subsequent visit, although the dentists had hopes that during that visit, they could and would rebuild her teeth or put crowns on them, it could not happen.
One day, we were in the waiting area of the dental clinic. The patient before us had an emergency so it was already almost thirty minutes into Lilah's appointment. Lilah took out her notebook and pen and started drawing her teeth and all the dental instruments. When she finished, she pointed to her actual teeth and said "fix it." That was her way of letting me know, "Ma, this appointment is taking too long. Why am I not in the dental chair getting my new teeth already?" I went to the receptionist desk and asked, "Ma'am, do you know when they are going to call my daughter in for her appointment. I need to show you her drawing and tell you that she pointed to her teeth and said fix it, indicating that she is getting impatient." The receptionist looked at Lilah's drawing and said, "Wow! She did that?" Afterwards, the receptionist looked at Lilah and said that was an amazing job you did. I'm going to go in the back right now and see how much longer it is going to take for them to come get you."
As she promised, the receptionist stood up from her chair and went to the back for several minutes. When she came back, she told me and Delilah, "you are the next person. The tech is cleaning the room right now so that the dentist can call you." That message set Lilah at ease and got her to sit comfortably back into the waiting area chair. About ten minutes later, they called my baby into the dentist office. Lilah successfully sat through phase two of her root canal procedure with very little numbing medication (she hates to get numbed). When the procedure was completed and she realized her teeth were still cracked, she went to go find her notebook with the drawing of her teeth and the instruments and held it up to the dentist and said "Fix it!"
This time, Lilah had a different demeanor and a different look on her face. It was one of those side-eye looks as if to say, "why you have me leaving this office one more time looking crazy, with these cracked teeth?!!!!!!?" Her dentist is so sweet. She replied, "Awwwww! I know, Lilah. I'm so sorry we couldn't do that part today. I promise we are going to build them back and make sure they look brand new when we are done. I promise." Lilah looked over at me to get confirmation of whether we really couldn't do the rest of the work on her teeth that day. I spoke to her, explaining that her teeth still needed to heal, that the canal of her tooth still had to drain its fluids, and the dentist had to put more medicine so that she wouldn't get sick with an infection. After that reassurance, she understood why she had to still wait for her teeth to be restored, and gladly put on her coat to make her exit from the dentist office.
This is not the only time Lilah has used her drawings to communicate her desire or a need. Several weeks ago, Lilah began to shout, "Water is falling!" repeatedly for a seven-day period. Along with this declaration, she began to draw her famous lock and key drawing with a chamber-like structure that she said was "The Temple." Later, I discovered she was drawing the section of King Solomon's temple that mimicked the outer court, the inner court, and the Holy of Holies chambers. One of the most intricate details that she would draw was a pool, which I believe was the Shiloah pool. She would immerse herself completely in water for those 7 days.
Throughout that week, as I prayed, I strongly felt that she was telling me that she wanted to be baptized. I begin to teach her about baptism and its importance. I told her that I would take as a sign that she wanted to be baptized if she woke up on the seventh day still declaring "Water is Falling" and wanting to be in water. On the seventh day, she did just that. I prepared a complete baptism ceremony which ended in her receiving Holy Communion. It was such a beautiful moment, which I believe ushered her into the next dimension of her healing. Stayed tuned because you all are going to amazed and awe-struck at the miraculous work God is going to do in Lilah's life.
Today as we give thanks for effective communication, please consider donating to the organization C.H.A.T (Communication Health, Advocacy, & Therapy) whose mission is to increase access to speech-language therapy for children with few to no options to empower them so that their voices can be heard. You can donate at chatwithus.org/donate to help children access the power of their and unlock their ability to effectively communicate.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!