Today is the first day of school for my youngest child. Lan begins his senior year without the watchful eyes of big brother nearby.

There was a time I’d be worried sick.

Today, I’m simply grateful.

Today my kid is flying solo!

Class schedule finalized? Check!

IEP (individualized education plan) in place and all participants on board? Check!

No big brother around to chaperone? Check!

Lan is “free to be me.”

And that’s a good thing.

I vividly recall Lan’s first year of high school.  He was tiny compared to the other kids, walking out of class with his hands over his ears because he couldn’t stand the noise.

Three years later, Lan stands head and shoulders above most students and is an eager participant in the hallway chatter!

No longer a freshman or marching band “rookie,” he is making plans to map out his future. Lan envisions a future without his parents watching every single step he makes.

There was a time I pondered “what if” into infinity. I’ve learned to replace “what if” with “why not” and search for possibilities.

  We will never know how far we can go if we don’t dare move our feet!

Conquering Everest begins with one step. Even if we never make it to the top, we can still end up miles ahead of where we started.

Still, some of the most important steps we can take aren’t physical, but mental.

We can’t always change a condition, but we can certainly change the way we think about it, pray about it and live with it.

Autism is only one adjective used to describe a person. It doesn’t necessarily have to define him.

Party animal.

Marching band member.


These are words Lan uses to describe himself.

As parents, we pushed, prodded, and even yelled a time or two to get this kid to reach his potential, clueless to just what that “potential” would be.

Lan slowly made strides that eventually gave him both confidence and enthusiasm to go it alone. He is no longer afraid of flying “solo.”

I realize now, God did the very same with me!

It wasn’t fun.

And it certainly wasn’t easy.

Yet, our Heavenly Father can force us into situations that will ultimately bring out the best in us.

I’ve learned how to write and have guts enough to let people read it. I can now work a camera without breaking one. My computer skills have improved exponentially. And honestly, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been forced along this ASD journey.

God can take what looks like a mess and turn it into a message that will draw us nearer to Him!

Even when we feel alone, we are not alone. God is ever present through both fears and tears.

I don’t have to have the answers as long as I give God my problems.

 Like Lan, I’m now “free to be me.”

I’ve conquered my fear of flying solo!

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Mark 1:35 NKJV

By Lilka Finley Raphael

Author, Editor, Gardner, Photographer, Pharmacist


  1. Hi Lilka! It must be something to compare and contrast the years with Lan. He is a special blessing to you and your husband…but you know that all too well!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. He reaches us something ALL the time! My boys are only 15 months apart but about 6 years apart in behavior and attitude. Yet, Lan is the one with the proper perspective many times out of all of us.


  2. “Autism is only one adjective used to describe a person. It doesn’t necessarily have to define him.”

    Lilka, this one is close to my heart. Like how we would never think to say “He is stomach ache poor thing”, or how others would never say about my stomach ache “Oh I always find “they” are so loving aren’t they!”

    Keep writing dear sister!! ((hugs))

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 😁 😁 Thanks for chiming in Paul! Your words ring so true. Cracking me up, but true! It’s a challenge some times to make time to write but I’ll keep at it for as long as He prompts me. ((Hugs)) right back at you! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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