Scripture openly tells us of an enemy who is prowling like a lion, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. That information alone should cause Believers to be on guard and to expect the unexpected at all times. If an actual lion were prowling around our homes, seeking to kill us, we’d be on guard, right? But our human nature is to not worry about those intangible things we can’t see or touch. And so we are shocked when the demonic scoundrel makes his move. Shaken to our cores, we’re left to make sense of something that makes no sense. But it should’ve made perfect sense to us. BECAUSE we’ve been told there is an enemy prowling around like a lion who is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy us. haha. UGH! We’re so stubborn and set in our ways.
If you’ve ever felt like your foundation has been rocked, this video might be for you today. I hope so.
Do you ever have those days when you feel sad for no reason at all? Not all days can be good ones, can they? But the dark days, perhaps, serve to make the bright days all the more radiant. Maybe they serve a purpose. I know on days when I feel disconnected, I long for a connection with God even more. And on all days, He is the there. Always ready to wrap me up in his feathers and allow me to feel His presence. If you can relate, then you’ll enjoy this short vlog:
Blessings to you!!!
As a parent, how often do you rush to meet the wants and needs of your children? If you’re anything like me, it’s a constant. And it’s a pleasure, too, isn’t it? To have the opportunity to pour into a life. How much more, then, does our Heavenly Father, who is perfect love, pour into us without a moment’s hesitation? If you can relate, you’ll enjoy this vlog:
Would love to hear from you!!!
Are there times you feel guilty about praying about the small things? Especially when there are BIG things going on all around you in world? Well let this VLOG encourage you today. God cares about the little things!
Can you imagine what it would be like to be nonverbal? I mean, completely non-verbal? Not one word. Ever.
That’s the life of Hope and Charlie.
The way they communicate is the way I would communicate if I was non-verbal. Through behavior, they show me how they feel and what they want or need.
Big hugs mixed with giggles means they’re happy.
Pulling me to the pantry or the fridge means they’re hungry.
Peering out of a window means they want to go outside.
Sounds simple enough, right?
At times, though, being non-verbal is so much more complicated. A bit tricky even. Because sometimes Hope and Charlie want to tell me they’re feeling frustrated, sad, or angry. Other times they want me to know they had a bad dream or that they feel bored or that they have a tummy ache or that they miss their big brother so much it hurts. During those times, they might throw things, pull my hair, melt down into a heap of wild and wooliness on the floor….or else find a corner to hide in with head down as if wishing to give up and disappear.
I wish on every single star every single night that they could be given the gift of speech.
But at this point, those stars are not the wishing kind.
I try to put myself in their shoes.
Would I want to try different foods? Explore different places? Meet new people?
If I would, they would. Even though they can’t tell me.
So we mix it up. We try new things. Sometimes we score big…other times it’s a total bust. But we try. Together.
We’re partners in the truest sense of the word.
Oh, you may say, that requires so much patience. Indeed it does, but not on my part. I have it easy. I have the voice.
It’s the Hope and Charlie’s of the world who can teach us all about what it means to be patient and to endure. Stop for a minute and think about all the things we get impatient about day after day. A restaurant forgot a portion of our to-go order. The traffic light took too long to turn green. The lines were too long at the grocery store. Our order from Amazon didn’t get delivered quick enough. The pastor preached beyond his time limit. A friend didn’t return a text until the next day.
We complain. We grumble. Then we post about it on social media.
And even worse.
We feel entitled.
To an easier lifestyle. To fast service. To perfection.
UGH. Isn’t it supposed to be the millennials who have the entitlement issues? haha.
I didn’t realize I had this mentality until Hope and Charlie came into my life, turning the world completely upside down. Or right side up. Yes, definitely right side up. They blasted into my space with their extra chromosome and shook things up big time. Changing my priorities. Showing me the difference between what’s important and what’s a throw-away. I don’t have it exactly right yet, but they are certainly teaching me.
How long will it take mom to find the splinter in my finger?
When will it dawn on her that I need her to lie down with me for a little while at night before I go to sleep because I’m afraid of the dark?
How can I let her know she’s tying my shoes so tight I can’t feel my toes? that bananas make me gag? that I’m scared of bumble bees? that I can’t manage steps too well? that I fell off of the swing today? that I lost my tooth two days ago? that someone stared at me and made me feel bad? that I can’t find my favorite toy? that I nearly choked on a piece of candy?
Until she figures it all out, I’ll manage. Making the most out of life. Wearing a smile. Giving hugs. Being happy with all I’ve been given.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be nonverbal?
Can you imagine what it would be like if we were all so patient?
Just my rambling thoughts.
To survive is one thing. To thrive is another. Being a special needs parent is not a blip of time that quickly ebbs and flows without much of a hitch. Far from it. It’s a lifelong role that will wear you out, twist you up, and throw you down … there are so many hitches!!!
The good news is you have options. Here are three simple strategies we can all utilize to succeed as special needs parents right now:
FIRST: This is your life, so make the choice to love who you are and what you do. Try this. Right now, wherever you are, close your eyes for just a couple of seconds to envision your special needs child. How do you see her in your mind’s eye? Carefully take in her face and all that makes her unique. Is she smiling? Does the sound of her cute giggle melt you? Can you feel her fingers entwined with yours? I’m guessing those images make you feel joyful. This is no trick … it’s a scientific fact. When we stop and meditate on people we love, our bodies release serotonin. It’s an instant mood booster. So whenever your journey seems more than you bargained for, when you’re feeling worn out and pushed beyond your limits, go back to this place. Hesitate and meditate. A dose of happiness is always within our reach and is as simple as a choice we can make.
SECOND: Recognize the difference between a calling and an assignment. If you are a special needs parent, hear me say this: You have been called! It doesn’t matter whether you were given this child through birth or through the gift of adoption, you have been chosen. When people say to you: “God only gives special kids to special people”, it’s the truth. Embrace it. Believe it. Accepting a calling is much more effective than merely tolerating it. And through acceptance, psychologists guarantee you will find empowerment. But how? It’s actually very simple. Practice by saying it. Speak it out loud with words: “This is my calling in life and I can do it!” When our brains hear us speak with authority, our bodies comply by believing it. The same is true when we speak negatively out loud, so don’t!
THIRD: Be real. While you can choose joy and accept the fact that this special needs journey is a calling, you must still give yourself permission to be real. Every single day, your child is completely dependent upon you … and this may never change. Perhaps she’ll never move out on her own, drive a car, marry, or juggle her own medical appointments. The monumental nature of your responsibility sometimes feels overwhelming and the “what if” moments hit you like a mack truck hurling from the sky. In those times, it’s necessary to be real. Cry if you need to….hire a babysitter, go out for coffee, schedule a vacation, talk to a counselor, write your thoughts in a journal, confide in a friend, join a church, or take yoga. Do whatever is right for you, but do something. Denial can produce depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and a host of other health issues. So be real. Be you. And remember, no one expects you to be perfect.
Don’t we all have the same goal? Being the best we can be for ourselves and for those who’ve been entrusted to us? By implementing these three simple strategies, we can take on this challenge and find success. We are in this for the long haul. We are in this together. And our kiddos are worth it!
Just my thoughts!
Charlie entered my life through the gift of adoption just over eight years ago. He has an extra chromosome, is on the Autism spectrum, remains non-verbal, and has sensory processing issues that often send him caving in the nearest corner. The baby of our family, he is also my sweetest cuddle bug and has me absolutely wrapped around every single one of his fingers. For me, Charlie is perfect; in fact, my life is complete because of this little Cheese Puff:
It’s not an easy journey, however. Selfless love is never easy. I’m Charlie’s caretaker twenty four hours a day for seven days each week where I serve as his head chef, his clean up crew, his security detail, and his best buddy. Most of the time I succeed. When I walk into any room, I break down each and every nitty gritty twist, angle, and point of view to locate all potential threats or hazards within seconds. Charlie can’t grasp danger, so that’s my job. Most of the time I succeed, but sometimes I fail. And in those times when I fail, my buddy doesn’t have a voice that allows him to summon me for help. Today was one of those days.
Can you see that ring around his right ankle? At some point during the night, Charlie managed to get a cord from a toy tightly wound around his ankle. Thank God it didn’t cut off all circulation. It was so tight, however, his foot turned blue. He can’t tell me how long he stood still beside his bed waiting on me to rescue him. It could’ve been hours. He can’t tell me how badly he was frightened or how much it hurt. All he could do was just stand there beside his bed waiting for me. And waiting. And waiting. Trust me, this is more than any special needs mom ever bargains for.
As the momma of two kiddos who have special needs, my guard is always up and I am always on. That’s not a prideful statement, but a necessary fact. I’d rather let down the rest of the world than to disappoint them. I must’ve said I’m sorry one-hundred times or more as he collapsed into my arms. And you know what? My love for him was enough. Because love conquers all fear, pain, disability, hurt, and trauma. Cuddled into my arms, the thought of being upset or angry with me never entered Charlie’s mind. Love fixed it all.
I correlate so much of being a special needs momma to our incredible Father who loves us so selflessly that He took all of our sin and imperfections and died for us, redeeming it all. We take pride in how intelligent, successful, or physically attractive we are…but the Savior sees us as a bunch of special needs kids. Just like Charlie, sometimes we get into an awful predicament. And perhaps we’re so trampled by life, stifled by our circumstances, or so broken that we can’t find our voices to call to Him for help. So we wait. And wait. And wait for Him to come. Know this, friends…not only is He always coming for us, He is always there. We don’t even have to call. And no matter our situation, He loves us beyond measure. Yes, love conquers all. It fixes everything if we allow it to.
This is what Charlie has looked like ever since being freed:
Tuckered out after a trauma-filled night, the little man won’t leave my side. Even in a zombie-like state of sleep, when I move, he moves. So I just sit here beside him, listening to him saw his logs, allowing him to feel safe. I am his security detail, after all. It’s part of the job.
In the same way, if you’re going through a particularly difficult time, know that God is right beside you, wanting you to feel safe in HIS arms. He is your security detail, after all. It’s part of the job. Let Him be your comforter today.
Just my thoughts…
The human brain’s primary goal is simple: Keeping us safe and ensuring our survival. Every time we formulate an opinion of someone, whether it’s a sixty second introduction or a lifelong connection, that opinion is based on whether our brain has determined we are safe or not safe in that relationship. And often, we form those opinions in less than one minute of meeting someone. We are a shallow bunch, right? Within sixty seconds of meeting a brand new human being, our brains fire up life experiences, prejudices, and pre-conceived notions in order to size that person up. There’s no fact-finding or exploration to the brain’s archaic process at all. Our brains, then, are wired to feel instantly secure with people who are much like ourselves. We not only want to survive and thrive, but we also want “our kind” to survive.
The mind of a special needs mom, however, is notably different which is one of the many positives that comes along with this unique journey. Her primary goal is to not only keep herself alive (so she can necessarily take care of the special one in her life), but to also keep her child safe and to ensure his/her survival on a planet where individuals who have intellectual and/or physical disabilities are too often marginalized. As a result, her brain is re-programmed to not sum people up in less than one minute. The special needs mom, in fact, throws everything she ever thought she knew out the window the moment she comes face to face with her child. In a flash, life is no longer the same…and never will be again. Pre-conceived notions? Prejudices? Life experiences? They no longer hold any sway over this mom, because her measuring stick has transformed into a magic wand…the woman suddenly wants to save the world.
When life flips to something brand new and unexpected in the blink of an eye, everything flips along with it. From this point on, she’ll give everyone a chance to be kind and good and patient and accepting…because her child’s survival depends on the human race being what it needs to be. Special needs moms, for instance, constantly seek out and watch to see how people view her child. She can spot a soft face, a smile, and understanding eyes even in a large crowd and she will return the smile. Always. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime. In addition, she’ll thoughtfully listen to how people respond to her child, hoping for the best. Kindness and warmth, even when void of understanding, go a long way. And when someone takes the initiative to bend down and look eye to eye with her little boy, it will catapult her heart into the heavens. That one simple act speaks volumes: “you have value” … “you matter to me” … “I don’t see myself as any different than you”. By choosing to serve others, even with the simple act of intentional kindness, you are a living sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
To a special needs mom, you can be cultured and educated or crass and unrefined…liberal, conservative, or a person who doesn’t give a hoot about politics…none of it matters. As long as you have true compassion and acceptance for those who are physically and/or intellectually challenged, you are in her circle for life. She’ll love you instantly and forever, because you and “your kind” actually are the key to the survival of the special needs child and the world as we know it.
The following pictures are of a little fella who was born with Down syndrome in an Eastern European country. The first picture is of him in the “baby orphanage” when there was still hope for him finding a forever family. The second picture is of him only a few months later, after being sent to a “mental institution” when he wasn’t adopted. The final picture is of his grave. Without touch, love, acceptance, and proper care, he died. This is the reality of the world we live in.
In our country, you might say, this kind of thing would never happen. And you’re correct. In the United States, an estimated 75% of children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted….in other countries, that figure jumps to 90%+. Because of a genetic test, children who are diagnosed with an extra chromosome while in the womb don’t even get a chance. The statistics are staggering. There is no middle ground. As citizens of this earth, we either value all life or we don’t value life at all. Life not only matters while in the womb but also AFTER the womb. It’s life y’all.
Consider for a moment what a world without individuals who have special needs might look like. It would present an existence where the concepts of compassion, patience, and unconditional love are absent. Every human being has a purpose, even those who by the world’s standards are less than perfect. This is why the mind of a special needs mom is wired so differently. Our mission is not about the survival of a political party or a church denomination…our mission is about saving the best part of the human race. The human race, at it’s very best, is not power and strength…but when we purposefully choose to bow our power and strength to acknowledge the value of one who is considered “the least of these”.
“…and whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” Matt. 25:40
Just my thoughts.
To most people, a superhero represents someone otherworldly who fights evil and promotes good. This person is practically perfect in every sense of the world. Balancing compassion and mercy with a raw hunger for justice, this warrior is able to overcome seemingly impossible odds in order to protect the weak. He is a guardian, a defender, and as long as he is present, all in the universe is balanced.
And while most all special needs kiddos enjoy the likes of Spiderman, the real superheroes are quite possibly the ones who are behind the scenes in the day to day muck of life…demonstrating love, acceptance, long-suffering, and the patience of Job.
In my case, they are intelligent, beautiful young women who could earn just as much money babysitting for typical kids. Instead, though, they choose to make a difference in the life of a child who doesn’t have the attention span capable for a Disney movie or a picture book…and who is unable to understand the rules of a simple board game.
They could spend their time with a child who is is able to verbalize his or her needs, but choose to be with a nonverbal kiddo who expects them to be mind readers, seeing all…knowing all…and being all.
They routinely get smothered in slobbery kisses, slathered in mud-coated fingers, and clobbered by food that’s been thrown by the hand of a frustrated child…and take it all in stride, with a smile.
Vigilance is constantly required to make sure the escape artist doesn’t breakout while under their watch and that no one ends up playing inside of the toilet, climbing up on a dresser, or hiding in a garbage can.
Yet they don’t see a broken human being who needs to be fixed. They see a perfect little someone who simply needs an extra set of helping hands.
My Dream Team (as I call them) are amazing. I trust them, depend on them, and adore them. But when I watch my kiddos grow and blossom under their care, I know they are much more than any label I could give.
Because they really are Superheroes.
Balancing compassion and mercy with a raw hunger for justice.
Overcoming seemingly impossible odds in order to protect the weak.
Guardians and Defenders.
Balancing the Universe.
Practically perfect in every sense of the word.