Shop the fall collection ➔

Tears used to be commonplace in my home. Tears from me, tears from my children.

My younger son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. For so long, my boys didn’t play together. One drove his Matchbox cars while the other jumped on the trampoline. One played cowboys and Indians while the other meandered through the house like a traveler lost in a foreign city. I often held my older son and wiped away his tears as he asked, “Why won’t Bubby play? I just want him to play with me.”  

After one particularly rough afternoon, I felt as if a black hole had just opened up inside of my stomach and sucked in every ounce of me. It was an unstoppable force fueled by fear, worry, and anxiety. He had cried and screamed all morning, but I couldn’t figure out why. Was he hungry? Hurt? Sad? I offered him every snack and drink the pantry had to offer, but nothing stopped his tears. When I tried to encourage him to play ball with his brother, he wriggled and rolled until he got away from us and back into his own little world. 

RELATED: Before I Knew Autism

Later we tried to play outside, and I spent most of my time chasing him all over our huge yard. I carried him back to the sandpile over and over again. Drenched in sweat, I felt anxious and depleted. When it was time to go inside for lunch, he wasn’t ready to leave the sandpile. He tensed as if a bolt of lightning had just entered his body. His voice strained as cries escaped his tightened lips. He held his breath until his whole body turned a light shade of purple. His brother and I just watched and waited for him to inhale again, waiting for the air and calm to re-enter his body.

Later as they napped, I found myself lying face down on my bedroom floor.

Tears now poured down my face and pooled on our brand-new carpet as I tried to muffle my sobs so as not to wake my napping babies. I stared at the relaxing shade of blue on the wall, but inside, I felt more like an empty, dismal gray. My baby needed help . . . and I wasn’t enough to help him. Between my uncontrollable tears and muffled sobs, I begged God to help him. 

“Just take it away, God. Whatever it is. Help him. Give him words. Just let him play with his brother.” I prayed for specific thingslike words and play skillsbut mostly, I just sobbed and hoped He knew what I meant. 

RELATED: To the Mom Trying to Do It All, You’re In God’s Way

Those days were long. The early yearsthey nearly broke me. I wanted nothing more than for God to help my son. The more I pleaded with God, the more hurt I was that He wasn’t answering me. I was hurt, angry, confused, and sad. Sad for my son . . . and sad for myself. 

Four years have passed since my outcry on the bedroom floor. After much intervention, hard work, and dedication, our lives look different now.

And the tears returned to my house again today.

This morning I sat at our hand-me-down kitchen table with my two sons. As we played with Play-Doh, the smell of the salty-sweet dough took me back to my own childhood. I was overcome by the smell of childhood memories and answered prayers. 

We played. 

One simple phrase, but a monumental accomplishment.

This morning, as we played together, I snapped a picture. I remember the time when I prayed for this exact moment. The three of us, sitting at our little white table that has been through several generations in my family. Its uneven surface with cracked white paint, now covered with specks of green, blue, and pink Play-Doh. We sat calmly, rolling out long snakes and using cookie cutters to stamp out ocean creatures.

RELATED: I Am Proud Of My Autistic Sons

We were listening to a favorite Disney song of ours from the movie Tangled. As the chorus started up, I belted out the words . . . and so did my younger son!

His sweet little face, with a speckling of freckles and piercing blue eyes, met my gaze and sang, “At last I see the light.”

The tears immediately fell from my eyes. He had never sung with a song before, so those words touched a special place in my soul . . . but there was something else. A message that came through loud and clear to my mommy heart:

“At last I see the light.”

Just like Rapunzel, I couldn’t have known the amazing things that awaited me along this journey. This moment illuminated so much for me. 

At last, I see that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew exactly what He was doing those years ago when He said, “Not yet, not your way. My will be done.” 

Life’s greatest gifts come in the form of hard-earned triumphs and long-awaited joy. 

And in the end? It is breathtaking and humbling. Just as my sons shaped their Play-Doh creations today, I see God is using my son to continually mold and shape me too. 

Deidra Darst

Deidra Darst, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and autism mom. She is an advocate, author, and shares her family's journey at\She can be found on Facebook and Instagram @theSLPmom

The Best Marriage Advice We Ever Got: Touch Feet Every Night

In: Faith, Marriage
Couple touching feet in bed

Twenty-six years ago this summer, I got a tiny piece of advice on my wedding day that has kept me from making a huge mistake time and time again. A wise woman told me, “When you climb in bed each night with your husband, make sure that your feet touch under the covers. It’s hard to be mad at someone and touch feet.”  I had no idea, all those years ago, how impactful this piece of advice would be and how many times in our marriage this would be the small act that kept us united. This simple act of...

Keep Reading

Faith is a Verb, So We Go to Church

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman and teen daughter in church pew

Every Sunday morning we rush out the door bribing, coaxing, and threatening our kids to just “Get into the van!” Luckily, we live remotely rural so we don’t have neighbors to witness our often un-Christlike eye rolls and harsh sighs as we buckle each other up. We’ve always lived within a five-minute drive to a chapel, and yet we are usually there not two minutes before the service starts. Once sitting in our seats, we’re on high alert for noise control and sibling altercations for the next hour of what is supposed to be a peaceful, sacred, spirit-filled service. Which...

Keep Reading

3 Simple Ways to Be a More Confident Mother

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and young child smiling outside

Do you ever ask yourself why you can’t be more like that mom or why can’t your kids be like those kids? The comparison trap is an easy one to fall into if we aren’t careful. At the click of our fingers, we see Pinterest-worthy motherhood in every category. From the mom with the black-belt kids to the mom with Marie Kondo organizing skills—it’s easy to look at their lives and feel like we’ve fallen short. Even worse, is when we start to strive to become something we aren’t or prod our kids to become something they aren’t.  Comparison makes...

Keep Reading

Grief Is Persistent But God Is Faithful

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Woman praying by ocean

The loss of a parent doesn’t just sting, it leaves you with an irreplaceable hole in your heart. It’s been two years since my loving daddy went home to be with Jesus, and the loss I feel is still unimaginable.  I know in my heart he’s in a better place that is absent of pain and distress. However, his physical presence and wisdom are so dearly missed here on this earth.  He left behind an army of a family who adored him and looked to him for solid guidance. No matter how hard I try to look to the bright...

Keep Reading

I Gave up on God but He Never Gave up on Me

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother hugging son, color photo

I grew up in a religious house. We went to church every Sunday. My mom taught Sunday school, and we participated as a family in most church events. We believed in the power of prayer, hope, faith, love, and forgiveness. As a little girl, I watched my dad kneel at the side of the bed every night and say his prayers. In the last six years, my faith has not been what it should have been. It has plummeted into the depths of nothingness, buried deep below the darkness. I have felt angry and abandoned by God. In response, I...

Keep Reading

I Count My Blessings Every Day

In: Faith
Mom and child by beach

I remember being jealous of my classmates often. I would look at the girls at my school who seemed to be living such a carefree life. They would do well in school effortlessly and go home to their moms, dads, and siblings, to a house they’d grown up in. I wanted that so much for myself! I wanted my mom and dad to be together, and if it wasn’t too much to ask, a sibling or two. I wanted us to live in a house where I could have my own room, but I wouldn’t mind sharing if I had...

Keep Reading

Dear Lord, Make Me a Grace Hunter

In: Faith
Woman with crutches looking out window, black-and-white photo

I want to be known as a grace hunter. Every day, I pray I would be given eyes to see the world in which we live through a lens of grace—a lens that causes me to marvel at the ways of my God and be constantly filled with wonder. I am thankful I have no choice but to live life at a slower pace. I pray for the ability to see the beauty and God’s grace in the seemingly small and insignificant things. RELATED: In the Midst of Grief, There is Grace I pray for eyes to see His grace even...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Follow Your Beautiful Heart

In: Faith, Kids
Mother and daughter smiling

When I held you in my arms for the first time, it was like time stopped. As you looked up at me with innocence and new life, I was struck by the reality that my main role in your life would be to guide and direct you on the right path. I hoped I would do the best job possible. As I watched you grow, I basked in your joy of putting on your pretty dresses, adorned with layers of costume jewelry, parading around the house for your father and me to see. I dreamed often of what path you...

Keep Reading

So God Made Midnight

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and newborn

When God created a mother, He created her to love and serve in every moment. He knew the constant need would sometimes overwhelm her and she would have no choice but to rely on His strength and grace. He knew she would feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day . . . so God made midnight. He knew a mama’s days with a newborn would be busy and sometimes chaotic. He knew she would be distracted by meeting needs and attempting to find balance—that sneaking in a hot shower would become almost a luxury . . . so...

Keep Reading

Lord, I Don’t Want To Face This Storm

In: Faith
Rain cloud over a lake, color photo

“I feel like I’m right in the middle of that rain shaft, suspended over the ocean,” I told my husband as we waited out a Florida afternoon rain on our hotel balcony. “There’s light and beauty all around me, but I feel like I’m just lost in that storm.”  Just two nights before, we awoke to the cries of our 11-year-old son, the pain in his right lower abdomen so great that he woke up from a deep sleep. Our vacation took a solemn turn as my husband loaded him up in our rental car and drove to a children’s...

Keep Reading