Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Did It!

First of all, I want to thank you all for your prayers, love, and support this week while I got ready for my little speech at the capital. Today was the big day. With Derek, in his uniform, and Ella Grace all dressed up and by my side, we arrived at about 10:00 this morning. The meeting started at 10:00 but I was told as long as I was there by 10:30 that should be plenty of time for our turn on the agenda. Um, yeah, right.

I haven't been to the state capital since I was 12. In the sixth grade, I was a page, and had a great opportunity to learn about how our legislature works. Well, that was a long time ago and I have pretty much forgotten all that I learned from that experience. I just remember getting my picture taken with then Governor, Bill Clinton. I wish I had that picture to show you. :) I love our state capital. I really think it has to be one of the most beautiful in the nation.

To be honest, I was pretty much in freak out mode before we left the house this morning. My friend, Leslie, who is Co-Chair of this Autism Task Force told me there would be about 25 people there. Well, when we arrived, there were A LOT more than 25 people in that room. I thought I might hyperventilate! Derek stayed outside and entertained EG, and I went on in to listen to other items that were on the agenda. I must say politics is pretty interesting to me. There was one Representative that got pretty fired up when they started talking about supporting senior citizens. I think this Rep. said he was 80 years old! He was so passionate about this subject that he had to be called down for using a four letter word too much. I was astonished!

Two hours later, (yes two hours later), at 11:55 I was on. I was actually feeling a bit more calm as I sat in the meeting realizing these were all people from my state that were all there to talk about something they believed in...just like me. However, as I approached the microphone, I got a little nervous again. I introduced myself, Derek and Ella Grace and began my speech. It all went okay until I got close to the end and I did it...I cried. I cried, not once, but twice. I just couldn't help it. Two of my autism mom friends were there with there hands on my shoulders to support me the rest of the way through. I was a bit embarrassed for my display of emotions right then and there, but it just happened. I guess you can practice a speech 100 times but there is no practicing just being real. As I sat there trying to gain my composure, I heard this little voice, "Momma?" Isn't that the sweetest thing? I guess EG was making sure I was okay.

After my speech, I looked up and all of these Representatives were standing and applauding. I couldn't believe it! I KNOW it did not have anything to do with me though. I won't bore you with my entire speech. Here was just my closing remarks:

"In closing, I want to mention I have two heroes in my life. One fought for freedom for our county and one fights for freedom from autism every day."

All I can say, is getting through this experience has been by God's grace and all of your prayers. Thank you so much!

I got zero pictures today. I thought this was going to be a great day to take pictures of Ella on her first visit to the state capital, but I didn't. I guess with the excitement of it all, I just completely forgot. I have to mention she was such a trooper. She walked the halls and stairs to keep busy while we waited, waving to all the old men and stealing hearts. I think she was a big hit! Ha!

Since I have no pictures from today, I thought I would include this picture. This is Derek flying his Black Hawk over the capital for Legislative Days a couple of years back.

Oh, and I thought this was funny. My mom asked me if I saw the Representative from her town. She said, "You know...His name is "X" and he has gray hair and always wears a black suit." I was like, "Um, Mom, you just described every man that was there. That is what they all looked like. That doesn't help me out too much." We both laughed and laughed. Ha!

34 comments:

Jacquie said...

I can't see my computer through the tears. What an awesome experience... and good for you for letting the tears come! I love what you said about your husband and son in closing. It sounds like you hit a home run!!

Derek said...

Wow, I am so proud of you that I'm still beaming seven hours later! I'm proud of the courage you had today to fight for something we truly believe in. I proud that you were able to overcome your nerves and tell a story that needed to be heard by people in the positions that can make a difference in the lives of our children. The things worth while are never as easy as we would like them to be. As for the crying, don't worry about the crying. I was right there with you as was the majority of the room. Evan is so blessed, more than he will ever realize to have you as his mommy.
Thank you for who you are, I love you with my whole heart!

Der

Megan said...

Leigh Ann what a wonderful story. You are so inspiring! The unconditional love you have for your family is so evident in everything you do. I love your blog. Yaay for your speech, yaay for you, and I am sure they were appaulding for you!

Becky said...

I know Alvin thinks I'm crazy. He's watching TV and I'm over hear wiping my eyes while reading your blog. He's not even asking tonight, he's heard it too many times. "Oh, I'm just reading someones blog". I had shared your blog with Alvin a couple of nights ago and told him how I actually met you one day in the mall.

Wow, Derek is such a wonderful man to be there for you and I loved what you said in your closing remarks. It gave me goosebumps. You have been on my mind all day and I couldn't wait to hear about your day. Sounds like you had everyones attention.

Lauren said...

I told you that you would be amazing and you WERE!!!! I wish I could have been there to see you in action. You melted all those crusty old men! Derek is right...Evan is so blessed to have you for his mommy. You're a wonderful example for the rest of us. Must go wipe tears now!

Laura said...

I have tears in my eyes! What a beautiful ending to such a great cause!

P.S. As soon as I read the part about Bill Clinton, I thought to myself, "OH! I hope she posts that picture!" A girl can post her wedding pictures but can't find the ONE picture of herself with the former PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! Ha!!

The Polk Family said...

You brought me to tears...you are such an inspiration! And I must say, if the reps were standing and applauding after your speech...then yes, you and your story and the awesome closing remarks were definitely the reason. :)

Scott said...

I"m do proud of you LAH!!!! You just made me cry. I wish I could have been there.

Kelly said...

I'm sure Scott would be proud of you too - but that was me that left that last comment.

Candy said...

That is GREAT, Leigh Ann!!! I've been thinking about you all day and I've said lots of prayers. :) You are such a wonderful mom and such an inspiration!!! I'm proud of you!!

Abby said...

Wow Leigh Ann! I am so proud of you! That closing remark was a zinger - I have on my ugly cry face right now! Evan is so blessed to have you and Derek rooting for him everyday!

Amy said...

Leigh Ann! I'm SO proud of you! You stepped outside your comfort zone to talk about something SO important! I wish there were more moms like you!

Heather said...

PTL!!! I KNEW you would do great!! It's so funny. I prayed for you this morning, but at noon, God brought you to my mind. So, I prayed for you again. Isn't He awesome!! I had no idea you were starting to speak right then, but HE did. Oh, God is too cool!! I wish I could have seen you, too!! I'm sure you deserved that standing ovatation!!

Heather said...

Leigh Ann- I am so proud of you! That is so awesome and I know God was glorified in everything you said and did today! So important and so wonderful that you were chosen to speak for this cause!
(BTW- we need to try to meet for lunch sometime b/c I am CLOSE to Little Rock!)
I love what you said about your "heroes!" You are such a blessing to me and I know to others!

Angela said...

Yea! I've been praying for you today. I'm proud of you!

Betsy said...

I've been thinking about you all day. I'm so glad it went well. I know Derek is proud of you!! You are a wonderful mom, Leigh Ann. Congratulations on doing something so difficult and hopefully changing some hearts today!

The Garners said...

Leigh Ann, this is so awesome--what a day for you guys!!! I'm glad it went well--you've been on my mind all day!

P.S. that is SUCH a cool picture you posted, too!

Megan said...

I got your email and replied, not sure what happened. Just now I resent my reply. Maybe you'll get my email now.

Megan L Hutchings said...

Sweet Leigh Ann ~ I am so proud of you! I thought about you all day yesterday...what you were feeling, how the speech went, etc. I knew in my heart that you were going to move that room and you DID! I wish I could have been there to watch, to listen, and see you make a difference. Your closing remarks made my eyes tear up! Do not worry one moment about crying. You were being real and that is all that matters!

LOVE YOU!

LOVE YOU A GOOGLE... said...

I am so proud of you for all you do! You are such as awesome mom and wife and just a wonderful EVERYTHING! Don't worry about the crying, you made all of us cry just reading your blog, I can only imagine what being there in person would be like. You are definitely someone to look up to! Yeah, for Derek for being such an awesome support system. Every girl needs one! :) Love ya, LAH!

Meredith said...

Aww Leigh Ann! I am so glad for you! You are so couragous! What a wonderful person you are!

Julie said...

I am so proud of you! What a remarkable lady you are! Just reading your closing comments put this huge lump in my throat! Evan is so blessed to have parents who fight so hard for him!

God Bless You Leigh Ann!!!

Michele said...

That is so awesome!!! What a wonderful experience - what an amazing opportunity!

Nicole M Wood said...

I have tears of joy!!! I am so proud of you. I have goose bumps all over. I have been reading your blog for a while now and had to come back and read how it went yesterday.

Faith said...

Oh my word, reading your husbands comment left me in tears! So sweet!

I'm so proud of you Leigh Ann! What an awesome opportunity to tell Evan's story! What a blessing you are to him and everyone else you come into contact with!
Hugs, Faith

Melissa said...

Leigh Ann, I knew you could do it. Tears can't be prevented from a mom telling her autism journey. God used your family today to start a ripple in this wide world of autism awareness. I am so proud of you! Cried when I read your post! Your Husbands comment was so touching. I love what you said at the end of your speech, so true, very powerful. I will now pray that the hearts of those you spoke to will make the right changes for our children. God Bless you for the courage to be a leader for all of the ASD moms' like us out there. From your lips to God's ears, he will make this work out!

Anonymous said...

Who could have have guessed that when that young girl and boy were teens at BCBC God was preparing them for lives together, for the family they would raise together and their love for Him and each other. Isn't He Great! I am proud of the Wife and Mother you have become ... proud that you and Derek are following God's plan to raise your children ... proud that you looked to Him for strength to speak up for Evan. You did a good job! You do it everyday being Evan's Mommma.
Julia H.

Lindsey said...

I am so proud of you. What an amazing mom you are!!! Truly, you are an inspiration:) Great job!

Katie said...

I'm so glad that everything went so well! I wish I could have heard all of your speech!

Meag said...

Leigh Ann I am so proud of you!!!! I thought about you all week and so much missed being able to keep track of you and yours! I am so glad it went well, as I knew it would! I am also glad you were "real" and spoke from your heart! You make me swell up with pride of your - congratulations!

By the way, your closing remarks that you shared about brought me to tears!

LOVE YOU!

pengelly love said...

proud of you :-)
mel

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I'm SO proud of you, Leigh Anne. Honestly, I think tears keep you real, and I love that you were able to let some of that shine through in your speech. WAY TO GO, friend.

Lauryn said...

Good for you! I am so proud of you for standing up for our kids!
Tenn just passed the Autism Discrimination Act - or something like that.. so we now get our therapy paid for. :) It takes people like you to tell the story to get things done. I wasn't completely bawling til I read your husbands comment. Tissue - please!

His Doorkeeper said...

Leigh Ann, I just am now reading your post after being out-of-town for the wedding. How proud I am of you and how you spoke! Wow! I would have cried so much they would have ask me to leave! You did your family proud!