Today was a day that ranks up there with the day I got married, graduated from college and had my kids. Today, Shelby surfed.
No big deal, right. I mean, kids surf all the time. In Hawaii they surf before they are potty-trained. But Shelby is autistic and for her, surfing is a big deal.
Today was our first time at Surfers Healing camp. Started by former pro surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his wife Danielle after seeing the amazing results of surfing on their autistic son Isaiah, Surfers Healing camps are now held nationwide for children with autism to have a fun day at the beach and be like any normal child. Which is no small feat. For children with autism, the sensory experiences of sand, salt water and even just the smells of the beach can be overwhelming. For some kids, the biggest struggle is getting a life jacket on, but today, I saw first hand just how far a little experience can go.
Shelby’s struggle, waiting in line for her turn. Luckily, a teacher from her school last year was working the life jacket tent and scooped her up and kept her occupied. But the real acts of faith were yet to come. After a successful run on the board, Shelby’s surfer was paddling out again when a big wave knocked both of them off the board and separated them. Shelby was floating (thanks to her life jacket) and her surfer quickly swam to her as did a volunteer on the shore. In no time they had her back on the board and paddling out as if nothing had happened. Shelby, known for freaking out over a loose string on clothing, did not scream, did not meltdown but went with the flow. And what did her mother on the beach do? I kept on video taping her. I didn’t yell or scream or even run out into the water. I’m not the type of mother who wouldn’t normally react either…so much so that I joke that this experience proves I’m going for “mother of the year.” (Ask Jeff and he’ll tell you if it had been him, I would have been screaming my lungs out.)
Do I think that Shelby’s reaction is what led me to be so calm? Well, I’m sure her reaction influenced mine, but what really stood out for me: Shelby’s amazing trust that this surfer, this man she had never seen or met before in her life, was not going to let anything bad happen to her. She had ultimate faith that she was safe. And so did I.
I didn’t actively pray about Surfers Healing (except that the weather would allow it, we’ve had water spouts, funnel clouds and a nasty thunderstorms in the past week, including at 4 am this morning!, oh and with any luck, Hurricane Irene will be here this weekend). I was very interested to see what would happen and how it would go. I had no real expectations good or bad. But somehow, when I saw my daughter being placed on the surfboard in the water by a surfer whose name I did not even know, I knew it was okay. I knew God put her with that surfer today and it was going to be an experience like none other. God did not disappoint.
Today I learned my daughter can surf. I learned that surfers can be angels on long boards. I learned that when you place your full trust in God, there may be bumps along the way, but you are never disappointed.
Mahalo Surfers Healing! Mahalo God!