Worship at the Church at Severn Run had just finished, and on this particular Sunday in December, the message was about ‘having joy in a broken world’. Joy was something I was lacking. I was content with hosting a self-pity party and throwing any concept of joy out the window. I was talking with friends as I slowly made my way to the back of the worship center where my husband, Matt, was serving that day. There was music playing from the back in the tech booth. I immediately recognized the voice as that of Lauren Daigle.
The song was called ‘Noel’ - something I’d probably heard over a million times, but this time, because of the storm I was walking through, the words stopped me in my tracks: “Come and see what God has done!”
In the months prior to this moment my active-duty husband was given orders to a country half way around the world. Shortly after that, our then three-year-old son, Kaiden was diagnosed with Autism. My world was falling apart. Through my tears I told God that he had picked the wrong girl to hand all of this to.
My son Kaiden’s story starts a few years back when he was about a year old. Matt and I began to realize that he wasn’t developing as fast as our daughter did. After being encouraged by a close friend, we quickly enrolled Kaiden in a developmental therapy program. From day one I feared that he would end up having something far more than just a slight delay. Kaiden’s therapist ended up being a true blessing, and she urged us to get Kaiden’s hearing checked. As it turned out, he had fluid in his ears that was most likely keeping him from hearing sounds properly and therefore causing his speech delay. On the doctor’s recommendation, we got tubes put in Kaiden’s ears, and he quickly began speaking and developing. We were praising God because he had given us a miracle! I no longer needed to fear a diagnosis, and I no longer feared that our family would be separated because of military necessities and a lack of access to the needed therapies for Kaiden.
But then, for reasons I could not explain, Kaiden’s development began to slow again. Hearing his sweet little boy voice became a rare occasion. After the encouragement of a close friend, Matt and I were back on the painful road to answers, and revisiting fears all over again. After what seemed like an eternity of evaluations, we were finally given our verdict: Kaiden had Autism. Old fears quickly became my reality overnight. The door to moving overseas as a family was now officially closed as we knew deep in our hearts we were called as parents to give Kaiden every opportunity possible in his development.
During this time, I was doing Beth Moore’s study of Esther with the Moms of Severn Run (a group that I have the privilege to lead). It was at the end of one of our study times that I decided to be transparent and share the new battles I was facing (cue ugly cry!). This was a huge moment for me, because until now I had decided that, even through my fears surrounding my son’s diagnosis, God was good, and I could handle it. I was only half right. God is good, but I couldn’t handle it--at least not alone.
But something happened to me after I shared this…
These precious moms--my sisters in Christ--prayed for me. They hugged me, and some even cried with me. During that week’s Bible study homework God lead me to the most famous scripture in Esther. I had heard it before (and watched it play out before thanks to Veggie Tales), but now it was personal. Esther 4:14, where Mordecai pleads with his cousin Queen Esther to take a huge leap of faith says, “Who knows if perhaps you were made (queen) for such a time as this?”
Could it possibly be that it was part of God’s plan for Matt to receive orders to go halfway around the world for a year, only to follow it up less than two months later with the news of our son’s Autism diagnosis? I began to think differently. Maybe God would use me in the midst of my own personal sadness. Could I actually allow myself to be used by Him to be an encouragement to others who are going through storms of their own? I began to believe that I could. I began to pray that God would use me, and that he would use my story to bring hope to other moms and families.
I recently made the switch to serving every Sunday in the children’s ministry. It’s there that I believe he will use me to be a light of his love, and hope to parents and their children. I pray that I will somehow be able to give back to a ministry that has played such an instrumental role in my son’s four years of life. I mean, just three years ago he went from being the kid who cried so much his parents were paged to come pick him up after ten minutes, to joyfully waving good bye to them as he enters his classroom on Sundays!
My name is Allison Ann Fournier. I’m the daughter of the Almighty God, proud military wife, and mama to an energetic little girl named Caelee and a sweet little boy named Kaiden who has special needs. I’ll never stop fighting for my children. I have no idea what the future will hold, but I do know that I will proudly own my brokenness in hopes that one day I too will loudly proclaim “Come and see what God has done!”