Peter Pan & Secret Choices {Autism Awareness}

As I sit here on the couch with my 3 teenagers {where did my babies go?} watching a movie, my 18 year old son, Matthew, sits the closest to me.  I don’t suppose many young men his age would have the look of pure delight on their faces as they watch Peter Pan while munching on graham crackers and giggling.  He looks over at me with his big, blue eyes and smiles, as if to say, “Isn’t this great, Mom?!  Even though I’ve seen it a million times!!”  And tears fill my eyes because it dawns on me that I’m looking at my own, beautiful, perfect Peter Pan……

Ahh…autism.  I think everyone has something happen in their life that will, literally {or emotionally}, bring them to their knees.  Many times, more than once.  For our family, it was and is “autism.”  This word came into our vocabulary when Matthew was diagnosed with it at the age of 2 1/2.  We were in a new town, my husband worked 80-100 hours a week, and on top of that, we had a 1 year old daughter.  In a way, I was glad to have a diagnosis, and I was so glad it wasn’t called “This Mom is Clueless, Exhausted, and a Failure.”  Very glad.  Even though that’s how I felt.

Autism - Matthew (2)

I haven’t always had the most confidence in myself, and so many times in my life, in various situations, I’ve told myself, “I can’t do this!” or “I can’t handle this!”  But thankfully, I’ve experienced that God can.  What a relief!  {And I’m not delusional.  Really.}

Years ago, a chapter in an old book I was reading was titled, “Secret Choices.”  This one chapter had a huge impact on me.  It talked about the hundreds, if not thousands, of silent choices and decisions we make each day…little and big decisions that flow from one moment to the next, every day.  They are “secret” in a way, because these kinds of choices are not announced out loud.  It was refreshing to me to know I had choices in my everyday life, even when I felt like I was drowning in diapers, wipes, tantrums, and therapies.  Whenever I recognized that I was going through the day like an emotionless robot.  You know, when you’re just reacting to everything, constantly going from one thing to the next – cleaning up this spill, tripping on that toy, unclogging this toilet – all while supposedly taking care of yourself, cooking a great dinner, and being a loving and supportive wife when your husband gets home.  I realized I could choose to be grateful, patient, and loving towards my family.  Why?  Because nothing catches God off guard, nothing surprises Him, and He can handle my crazy life.  And on top of that, He loves me unconditionally.  Whoa.  Actually, choosing to believe that statement was just the beginning!  I could secretly choose to accept my son for who he is and sleep at night {if he was sleeping!}.  I could secretly forgive myself for my weaknesses and any I perceived in my husband.  I could secretly forgive awful looks from strangers towards my son and pray for them.  I could secretly choose to forgive the ignorant comments from “well-meaning” people.  I could secretly choose not to have a meltdown when all 3 of my kids were melting down in the middle of Target.  I could secretly choose to make my husband a priority, hunt down a brave babysitter, and schedule date nights.  I could secretly choose not to mentally beat myself up whenever Matthew does something cringe-worthy – sneezes on someone, takes food off their table at Chick-Fil-A, or passes gas during a quiet moment in church.  {Smile.}  Lastly, I could secretly choose to mentally throw away the so-called “perfect super-mom cape” I thought I should be wearing and choose to do the best I can.  This “secret” perspective has helped me feel more at peace, and it has protected me from bitterness, anger, jealously, and the kind of self-centeredness that encourages self-pity and pushes others away.  Have I done this perfectly? Ha! Of course not!  I’m still a work in progress.  But thankfully with God, all things are possible.

Autism - Matthew (1)

Do you have a Peter Pan at your house?  I do.  And while seeing progress sometimes feels like watching grass grow, I secretly choose to be eternally grateful because while he may never really grow up like other kids do, our family has a front row seat to watch him fly…in his own way…with graham cracker crumbs all over his face!

In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, we are spreading the word about ASD and how it affects the families in our very own community.  Jodi and Matthew’s story is just one of many that we will be sharing, and we hope you will join us as real local moms open up and tell their stories all throughout the day.  To read more, please click here.

[hr] bAbout Jodi F.

A native Houstonian and living in the Cypress area, Jodi met her hubby Chuck at Texas A&M.  Next came teaching elementary P.E., then making the happy transition to stay-at-home-mom to three great kids, Matthew {18 ½}, Mary Beth {17}, and Anna {13}.  After trying out various educational options, the Ferguson kids are happily homeschooled {with Mom drinking lots of coffee}.  Jodi and Chuck are the Founders of Camp Blessing Texas, a Christian summer camp for those with disabilities and their siblings.  Find out more at or contact Jodi directly at [email protected]


  1. Jodi… What a great reminder of the secret ways we can worship and glorify God in every area of our lives. You are an amazing mom of some amazing kids! Thanks for embracing even the struggles and loving your family so well! Love you!

  2. Beautiful, Jodi. I’ve been learning a lot recently about what it truly means to give it over to God. It’s about giving what we DO have to the Lord so He can multiply, whether it be for us, for others, or even just to teach us. I love you and your family so so much!

    P.S. I remember watching Peter Pan the first ever time I babysat your kids! 🙂


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