These questions have stuck with us for about two years, and though we don’t currently have any solid answers, we want to make the following points clear:
Raylan has demonstrated a verbal communications delay.
Despite proving himself to be capable in most areas and consistently surprising us in areas such as memory, puzzles, and music, Raylan is not communicating at the level of a three-year-old, and actually speaks in very few sentences despite understanding and speaking in excess of 2,000 words (obviously an approximation — we don’t keep a list).
We don’t know what has caused Raylan’s verbal delay.
Raylan is receiving therapy and has been monitored by professionals, but there is no diagnosis to which anyone has attributed his delay. He might have Einstein Syndrome. He might have high-functioning autism. He might be delayed because of hearing troubles that lasted over a year due to severe ear infections. The truth is that we don’t yet know, and to be honest, it’s not incredibly important that we attach a label to him.
We have sought out assistance, and will continue to seek aid in tracking and accelerating Raylan’s progress. We’re not in denial. We’re involved parents who want our son to progress.
We are not embarrassed or afraid of Raylan’s verbal development.
Yes, Raylan should be speaking sentences more often. Yes, we see the looks of confusion on people’s faces when they try to hold a conversation with him and he strongly rejects their advances — we’ve even seen people get offended when he completely ignores them (again, it’s kind of hilarious).
However, we don’t just love our little boy, we’re actually incredibly, immeasurably proud of him. He’s hilarious. He’s incredibly smart. His interactions with us on a daily basis leave us laughing and amazed, and we can’t imagine him any other way.
In other words, don’t “Bless their hearts” or pity us. Our boy is awesome. We’re happy with him, and we don’t lie awake and cry about it at nights. There was a time when we were fearful, but that day has long since passed (more on that in the next section).
He also happens to be super cute.
God is already answering prayers and helping Raylan
I already mentioned the sermon I preached that discussed Raylan (you can find it on our podcast — just search for The Pentecostals of Bossier City on your podcast app. The message was entitled “Thou Mayest”).
Several weeks later, during an incredible move of God in an altar service while Pastor Todd Johnson was with us, I felt compelled to publicly pray for Raylan. I don’t use this phrase lightly, but I felt impressed by God to pray for Raylan in a public manner. We cannot be afraid to pray bold prayers and let God declare His own glory through working miracles in a demonstrable fashion, and it seemed like that’s where God was pushing me.
I anointed Raylan and prayed for him, and felt the presence of God move on us both. There was no light beaming down from Heaven or a dove floating over our heads, but I felt that God touched my son at that specific time.
Later that night, we were going through our typical routine with Raylan. I heated his “milky,” he counted down the seconds on the microwave from twenty, and then I told him to go give his mom “sugies,” where he lets her kiss him on the cheek. Each night, Shari tells him, “I love you,” but Raylan has never reciprocated. That Sunday night, just two hours removed from our prayer, Raylan turned around, looked at Shari in the eyes, smiled, and said, “I love you!”
This was the first time he had told his mom he loved her. She cried for half an hour.
During the course of the next week, Raylan began not only speaking more often, but constructing sentences. It’s been nearly two weeks, and he continues to show rapid progress. We’re not remotely close to the end of our journey, but we feel that it was a direct result of the power of prayer, and that God is going to help us every step of the way.
That’s why we’re not afraid — we know God is with us. Raylan isn’t typical, and we’re absolutely okay with that. However, we do believe that God will progress his speech, he will lead a “normal” life, and the unique abilities that God spoke into him while he was in the womb will lead him down his own, divinely-ordained path.
When Raylan was a few months old, Bro. Lee Stoneking looked at him and without hesitation said, “That boy is going to be a prophet.” It wasn’t a passing statement — it was a declaration. One of the most powerful men of God that I have ever known, who was raised from the dead, having not breathed for 45 minutes, looked at this boy in the early days of his life and prophesied over him. For anyone that knows their Bible, they know that the prophets of God always walked, spoke, and carried themselves in a peculiar manner. We wanted a “unique” son, and we now believe this is all part of God’s plan.
So once again, please do not read this post and say, “Bless their poor little hearts.” The journey we’re on isn’t filled with fear, anxiety, or doubt — it’s all made enjoyable because of one incredible, smart, blonde-headed, dimple-cheeked little boy who brings light into our lives every single day.
We wouldn’t trade him for the world.