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!!!
Today is my 49th birthday. Don’t you find that as you get older, birthdays serve as a time of reflection? They become milestones, markers of sort, that represent who we are and the meaning of our existence. I’ve made some brilliant moves in my life, but I’ve made some whopper mistakes as well. While my heart holds fountains of joy, it also reflects the stagnation of regret. It’s life. And all blended together, the final hope, perhaps, is that our lives end up as a mirror, displaying only the image of our Creator. Where Melanie once was, now is only God.
My two youngest are non-verbal. And they get it. They were born getting it and as a result, they’ll never harbor an ounce of regret. Hope and Charlie will always be image-bearers. People consider them to have special needs, but those people have it all wrong. It is we who can learn from them. Here is my morning birthday celebration with the two who have turned my life upside down and all around in the most amazing way. Happy Birthday to ME!!!
She was running late. Could her morning have been more disastrous? It all began when the battery on her phone died, which meant her alarm didn’t go off.
“I’ve told you over and over again to get a real alarm clock,” were words she could already hear ringing in her ears. Her mother was quick to offer unsolicited advice. She always had been.
Throwing off her comforter, the second her bare feet hit the floor, the single mother of two was in a mad dash toward the kitchen to check the time on the microwave oven. How long had that darned light been blinking? At some point the power had obviously gone out, knocking her clock into oblivion. She had no choice.
“Mom, hey…my cell phone died and so my alarm didn’t go off. Can you believe it? I was just wondering…what time is it?” As she asked the question, her eyes were squinted tight. She knew her mother’s response was going to hit her like a brick in the head.
“It’s about high time for you to grow up, Sarah. You’re a single mom who needs a job so you can support your family. How many times have I told you that you need a real alarm clock? That interview today is important….”
Before her mother could continue, the twenty-something year old with long auburn hair, interrupted. “Uhhhh, mom, the time?”
“It’s eight-seventeen, which means you’ve got exactly forty three minutes to get to that interview.” The words weren’t spoken, but were spit at her through gritted teeth. Unlike Sarah who was currently unemployed, her mom’s current full time job seemed to be constantly reminding her that she was a big failure.
Gathering as much courage as she could muster, Sarah took a deep breath. “Mom, could I ask you to come watch the babies? I’m not going to have time to drop them off at day care.” Her heart was pounding. Time was running out and she needed her mother’s help.
Following what seemed to be a dramatic pause, her mom finally answered. “I might as well be their mother….I’d certainly make a better mother than you. Yes, I’ll be there.” Without saying good-bye, her mother hung up.
What her mother couldn’t see was how embarrassed she was that her husband had had an affair, the tremendous toll the divorce had taken on her, and how much her children were suffering because of it all. Sarah couldn’t recall the last time she’d had a full night of sleep…nor could she remember the last time she’d washed her hair. If it wasn’t one of the toddlers waking in the middle of the night, it was the other. They needed water, had wet their bed, had a bad dream, or just wanted to get up and play. Sarah was a walking zombie.
Sleep deprived and feeling worthless, Sarah pulled into the parking lot just on time…but found no empty spaces. Driving into the parking lot next door, there was one slot left, but a car had parked at an angle and had taken up most of the empty space. Carefully creeping into the spot, Sarah tore her skirt as she shimmied out of the six inch space that was left on both sides of her car.
As she opened the front door of the office building, she caught a quick glimpse of her reflection. What had happened ? She used to see beauty when she stared back at herself, but now saw unkempt hair, dark circles under her eyes, and a frumpy frame. Wiping a quick tear from her eye, she shook her head to clear her mind and entered the building. She had to have this job. With this salary along with the child support, Sarah could keep her home. Without it, she’d have to move in with her parents. “That can’t happen,” she whispered, racing to the second floor of the building.
Stretching out her hand, Sarah gently took the hand of the towering man before her. “I’m Sarah Johnson, here about the office job.” Forcing a smile, she did her best to appear warm, friendly, and capable.
Her heart dropped, though, when he told her there was no need for an interview. She was a few minutes late for the interview, and for her would-be boss, that told him all he needed to know about her character. She was ushered out before getting a chance to explain herself. To make it all worse, when she made it out to her car, someone had taken the time to leave a note on her windshield to express what a horrific driver she was to have parked in such a tight spot. In addition to several expletives the letter called her an idiot who didn’t deserve to be on the road. Crumpling up the paper in her hand, she sat in her car and cried. How could she go home and face her mother or her children?
Just as she was ready to bang her head on the steering wheel and scream, her cell phone buzzed. It was her neighbor, a middle-aged widow who loved to come visit her and bring fresh bread. Picking up the phone, she read the text. “Praying for you. No matter what happens today, just be reminded that God sees ahead and knows. He’s at work right now preparing a way for you. Trust Him. He believes in you and so do I.”
The question is this: Who are we? Sarah? Sarah’s mom? The Would-Be Boss? the person who left the note on her car? or the neighbor?
Do we lead with compassion and love? Or with Judgment?
There are so many lessons we can learn from the special needs community, but I think one of the most important is about judgment. They don’t judge. Ever. I guess when God created these amazing individuals, he just took the judgment gene right out of them. And you know what? They’re a lot happier than the rest of us. The key, I’ve come to believe, is that they don’t really have much of an expectation of others. Their primary expectation is for themselves, and they give 100% every day. If you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to you…but if you’re not nice to them, they’ll still be nice to you. Because they’re kindhearted. It’s who they are regardless of who you are.
If you’re frumpy, grumpy, running late, or running on empty…they’ll never judge. Instead they’ll love you, flaws and all. And it’s powerful. There is something incredibly disarming about being in the presence of friends who always lead with love.
I once heard it expressed that “expectations are premeditated resentments”. And I believe it’s true. It’s our expectations that entrap us. Think about it this way…if we always imagine people have a reason for doing what they’re doing, as with the case of Sarah in this example, it’s much easier to lead with kindness. Which leads to a much better life for everyone. It’s not about encouraging people to be victims, but about erring on the side of forgiveness…and believing the best in people first.
Maybe that person who was late to the meeting had an alarm clock that didn’t go off as planned…perhaps their intentions were pure and they feel really horrible about being late.
Maybe the reason that person parked in the tight parking spot next to you, making your efforts to get into your car uncomfortable, was because there were no other spaces.
Maybe she’s a single mom, raising two young children on her own for the first time.
You get the idea.
Grace. Mercy. Redemption.
It’s who Jesus IS.
And Who we’re supposed to pattern our lives after.
In this process, will we sometimes give a free pass to some nasty, thoughtless, inconsiderate individuals? Of course. But who cares? What does it really matter? In the whole scheme of things, especially in light of eternity, what matters most is the “who” we choose to be.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. ~Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)
Just my rambling thoughts today.
Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, down syndrome, melanie hollis, non verbal, parenting a non verbal child, raising a non verbal child, raising special needs kids, special needs blog, special needs kids, special needs mom, special needs mom blog, Special Needs Parenting
Most little girls, at some point in life, play house. Pretending to be a mom, they push their perfect little baby dolls around in miniature strollers, acting out the role of protector, provider, defender, teacher, and friend. The role playing is not only healthy, it’s preparation for what is (hopefully) to come later on in life. Yet I think it’s safe to say that not many little girls ever assume the role of a special needs mom. As such, the God-given task at hand, when offered through either birth or adoption, is daunting and overwhelming. The identity shift is enormous. One moment you are heads, and the next, you are tails. The contrast is honestly that stark. And here are five things you need to know about the moms in your life who are on that journey:
- We are scared. The unknown components of this adventure we’ve been called to traverse terrifies us at our core. We juggle non-verbal kiddos who are prone to explore, yet who don’t understand cars, direction, or stranger danger. Our doors, therefore, display a host of different types of locks while our windows house hidden alarms. We shudder when we hear news stories of special needs children being abused and mistreated…and we become physically sick, overcome with terror, when one of our own dies at the hand of bullying, a preventable accident, or an onset of sudden illness. As we age, we think about our child’s future. A lot. We work tirelessly to set up a network of people who love them and who accept them, and we dare to dream that all will be ok even when we’re gone.
- We feel inadequate. If you do an internet search on special needs children, you will find hundreds upon hundreds of opinions on what works best for the advancement and progress of our kiddos. There are enough therapy tools to fill an entire city block. It’s intimidating. We’re intimidated. Our minds play tricks on us as we wonder if we’re doing enough. Sure, we love enough, but are we implementing the best procedures? Is it our fault that our child is not making a needed breakthrough? Most nights we are up late feeling guilty. Kneeling down beside our sleeping children, we pet their heads, kiss their cheeks, and promise we’ll do more the next day. And that is our intent. However, each day brings new challenges, so again, we close our eyes on the day feeling inadequate….wondering why God chose us….hoping we’re enough.
- We need family and old friends. While we may appear too busy or too distracted to enjoy a phone conversation or a visit, it’s true that it takes a village. If you don’t slow us down, we will work ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Please hear my heart in this: You remind us of who we used to be before our identity became “the special needs mom”. Your familiar voice snaps us back into the awesome reality that life is much bigger than our child learning to potty, communicate, or ride a bike by a certain age. You are a gift to us in more ways than you can imagine. Not only do we need to hear your voice, we need your smiles and hugs. We need your presence. If we make it, and Good Lord, we have to make it, a large part of that will be because of you. So if you have a spare minute, call us or text us just so we’ll remember….because when you avoid us and when you’re silent, we forget.
- Sometimes people are cruel. When we go out into public, we are painfully aware that we are taking a risk. Because we’ve all experienced the stares, the off-handed comments, and the all-too familiar rejection, we are always in defensive mode when out and about with our children. As mommas, we want to protect our kiddos from a world that doesn’t always offer patience and understanding. But you can help with that. If you see a special needs mom out with her child, even if it looks like she doesn’t need your help, offer a word of encouragement. Tell her she’s doing a good job. Say a kind word about her child. Let her know, above all else, that you “see” her and that you “see” her child. Don’t look away.
- We make mistakes because we are frazzled. We wake to find our child has painted his entire room in poop. He eats the dog’s food with glee, but won’t touch anything that’s on his plate at lunch. When we’re not looking, he dances on the dining table buck naked, sticks his head into the toilet, and tries to climb up the chimney. He stuffs bark up his nose, hides rocks in his ears, and pees on the dog. He laughs when you scold him and cries when you try to teach him. He pulls his sister’s hair, hides in kitchen cabinets, and sleeps only four hours each night. So give us a break. If we snap at you, come off as a half-crazed nut job, or don’t answer a text right away, it’s not because you don’t matter to us. It’s just that life is different for us. We are a special needs mom!
down syndrome, melanie hollis, parenting a non verbal child, raising a non verbal child, raising special needs kids, special needs blog, special needs mom, special needs mom blog, Special Needs Parenting
The dreaded guilt trip. If you’re a special needs parent who is also juggling typical children, you know this trip all too well. Where’s that ticket back to normal, right? Managing necessary therapies and medical appointments on top of meeting every single one of your differently-abled child’s needs, you have very little time to meet the desires of any person who can take care of himself. Are you hungry? Can you make a sandwich? Then don’t ask me to stop what I’m doing to make food for your lazy bones. haha. Can you relate?
Life before becoming a special needs parent might have been about leisure, even though at the time we didn’t quite realize how easy we had it…but now our lives are about pure necessity and survival. As a result, parents often feel they need to apologize to their typical children for the unique challenges a special needs sibling brings to the family, but I never will. Here’s why:
First, I’m a believer in The Lord and His word. In Exodus 4:11, we become privy to a conversation between Moses and God. In this heart to heart, God explains that He is the One who creates disabilities. Scripture says:
“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”
Then again, in Jeremiah and in Psalms, we are reminded that God formed us and knew us even before we were born. In short, if God formed and created my two specials with Down syndrome, and if in His great wisdom, He also chose to not give them the gift of verbal communication, then who am I to judge? or to complain? or to apologize? If in His sight, Hope and Charlie have been perfectly crafted, then they should be accepted and embraced as such.
Second, life is hard. With the implement of sin and our arch-nemesis (satan along with his slimy little minions) life was designed to be a battle and a struggle. Without the hardships, though, there would be no test. And without the test, there would be no need for a choice of salvation and the promise of eternal life. James 1:2 says:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” … emphasis on when.
In a nutshell…if you are a believer, life will not be a big cake party…even though I LOVE cake, especially with icing, don’t you? But God says, “No! You shall not always have cake” (my paraphrase)…and it’s for a very good reason.
See Romans 5:3-5:
“….but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
And James 1:2-4:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The trials and hardships, according to God’s word, are incredibly good for us. They sharpen us, mold us, and teach us to become more pliable so we can ‘be complete and lack in nothing’. Do you want tenderness? brokenness? gentleness? patience? Then spend some time with someone who is unable to communicate with words or with someone who is unable to walk or to hear. Look into their eyes and see past the disability into their heart. It will change you. It’s an indescribable gift when you see someone for who they are. Why would I ever apologize for giving my typical kiddos that daily gift?
Third, having been brought up with a precious grandmother who was handicapped, I have personal experience. Stricken with what doctors called the most severe case of rheumatoid arthritis they’d ever encountered, she couldn’t walk, turn her neck, use her arms/hands…and couldn’t feed, dress, or bathe herself. She never held me or hugged me, because she wasn’t able. I, however, never knowing her any other way, knew her simply and utterly as my Grandmomma.
When she needed water, even as a young girl who had to step up on a stool to reach the faucet, I’d jump up to fix her a glass with a straw. I remember holding it for her and allowing her to drink until I heard the familiar slurp of the last drop. When someone would call on the phone, I’d stand and hold the phone to her ear for as long as she wanted to talk. “A little closer,” she’d say with a sweet grin. And I’d proudly oblige. If she wanted the TV channel changed, I changed it. If she had an itch on her nose, I grabbed a tissue to scratch away. I did all of this as a little girl and never thought of it as unusual at all. When I became a teenager, she’d have me read the Bible out loud to her. At the time, I thought it was because she wanted to hear it…now, I realize she wanted me to hear it. I loved that woman so much. She was funny, smart, and the strongest person I’ll ever know. If I sit quietly for a moment, I can still go back to the pew I sat in at church, beside her wheelchair, and I can hear her singing “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…all other ground is sinking sand.” It will always be my favorite hymn.
Because of my grandmother, Elaine Morrow, I’m who I am today. I wouldn’t change that experience with her for the world. When I see someone who is handicapped in any way, instead of turning away, my heart leaps and I leap along with it…rushing to say hello, to shake a hand, or to give a smile. Because of her, I love the special needs community with a love I cannot begin to describe. She left an incredible legacy that is now being passed down through the lives of Hope and Charlie. I see it so clearly. During my childhood, I was given the invaluable gift of compassion and of service through my grandmother…and I rejoice in that gift. As that legacy was passed to me, it is now being passed along to my typical children as I watch them care for their special needs siblings. I’m thankful and not ever sorry.
So, to all of the special needs families who’ve heard the familiar whispers:
- What about her other children? Do they get enough attention?
- I’d never want to be in a family with someone who has special needs.
- Do they even have a social life? I bet their kids cannot wait to grow up and get out of that situation.
When you hear those empty words, just stand firm on what you know:
- Your child was created perfectly by a God who doesn’t make mistakes
- Life for the believer is always going to be full of trials and hardship
- By serving those with special needs, you are serving The Lord
- By allowing your typical children to serve their special needs siblings, you are teaching them to serve The Lord
- Your typical children are learning a vital life lesson that will chip away at selfishness, corruption, haughtiness, and greed….revealing virtues that are most important.
“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me.” Matthew 25:40
There’s no time to think once you become the parent of a special needs child. I mean, literally, there is no time to think. In reaction mode, you are simply expected to be on every minute of every day. You anticipate constantly, actively seeking out ways your child could injure himself, choke on something, and escape from the house. It’s very much like being on a never-ending covert operation to protect those in your care. Once a well-meaning pediatrician who isn’t raising special needs children said to me in jest: “You know, you could order a couple of those big bubble balls and just roll Hope and Charlie around inside of them all day every day.” He laughed. I didn’t. I’ve had to reclaim pinched legs from the angry mouths of furniture. I’ve had to dig a whole piece of Chex cereal out of a throat with my fingers as my child was turning blue. And I know what it’s like to search for my little girl after she managed to quietly sneak away from a beach house after seeing a little boy playing ball down the street. Give me the darn bubble ball!
While it’s harrowing and not for the faint of heart, I must tell you, being a special needs parent is slowly transforming me into someone quite different…maybe even better. In three significant ways, in fact, this adventure has forever changed my view on life:
Lesson #1: To be remembered means everything.
I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. For instance, I no longer fret over not being invited to a party, a shower, a wedding, or even a family holiday dinner…I get it. I’m different now, and there are people who will never feel comfortable with me and my unconventional lifestyle. As a result, I’ve learned that missing out on an invite just means I can use “babysitter” time to do something I love, whether that’s a movie, a dinner out, visiting the library or a museum, or laying on a beach with my toes in the sand. On the other hand, however, when those invitations do come, albeit they are very rare, I appreciate them more. To me, each invitation says: “I know you’re in the trenches every day, secluded from the typical world, but I haven’t forgotten you. Even though you might not be able to come to my event, I want you to know that you were thought of.” Yes, to be remembered, means everything.
Lesson #2: Collecting memories is more important than collecting dust.
Continuing in the vein of not sweating the small stuff, I also don’t give a hoot about whether my kids or my house look like they’ve been torn from the pages of Southern Living Magazine. My kids have sensory issues and neither like to wear clothes, so if I can manage to keep their private parts covered, it’s a good day. And my house? Thing-a-ma-bobs and trinkets become projectiles for non-verbal, temperamental kiddos (and sometimes for momma too)…so, my house is gloriously bare for the most part. My kitchen? It never closes. And I spend more time in the laundry room than in my bedroom and bathroom combined. I am a first-born who loves order, schedules, things that match, and clean smelling things (and people) … God has played a hilarious joke on me. But you know what? When my kids allow me to fix their hair and dress them up, and on those rare occasions when my house smells fresh and looks crispy clean, I bask in it. I mean, I sniff my little ankle biters and kiss their chubby cheeks until they’re shoving me away … and I walk through each room taking in the order of it all. In those times, though, I often reflect on the person I once was and regret how much time I spent on things that don’t matter. Pretty houses and fashionable clothing rot away and disappear, but the time spent mending a hole on a stuffed teddy bear’s foot, holding a hand that has just made a mud pie, and jumping up and down with your kids on a bed that hasn’t been made yet…those moments will stand the test of time.
#3: Love is always the answer to everything.
All of this brings me to the last and most important point. As a parent of a special needs child, I realize time is fleeting. Kids who have special needs often don’t enter the world with the mightiest of immune systems. When they go down, they sometimes don’t recover. I’ve spent months in a hospital as my daughter has gone through three very serious open heart surgeries, and on one of those occasions, she coded. I can take my mind back to that moment and replay it all in vivid detail. In that instant, I realized how fast I could lose her and how quickly everything would change. An invisible switch flipped inside of me that day forcing me to look at my life in a brand new way. If everything can change in an instant, then I must make every attempt to live my life to the fullest each day.
My favorite apostle of the twelve is Peter…probably because he didn’t always get things right, but still managed to love and serve with reckless abandon. Consider these words:
1 Peter 4:8-11 ….”above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.”
The greatest way being a special needs parent has changed me and my view on life is by chipping away all of the minutia, trivialities, distractions, surpluses and excesses in my life. This incredibly challenging journey has broken me down and has allowed me to “see”. So if I grab your neck the next time I see you and say “I love you” … well, you’ll know why. (and if I don’t, it’s only because you’re giving off some sort of vibe telling me to keep my danged hands to myself.)
Know this about me. My home is open. My heart is open. I always want to hear from you. I want to talk to you and to hear your voice. I want to hurt when you hurt and to rejoice when you rejoice. I love you. I honestly love you.
“…and the greatest of these is love.”
Oh, how I rejoice at being called to be a special needs parent. For once I was blind, but now I can see!
Proverbs 27:14 is a strange verse, isn’t it? “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” A curse? Really? Isn’t that a bit harsh?
At first glance, it might seem like God actually cares about whether we bless our neighbors in the morning or in the afternoon. haha. But alas, that is thankfully NOT the case.
My spiritual gift is encouragement. Blessing others and offering encouragement comes easy to me…sometimes too easy. I was a cheerleader in high school, a financial adviser after graduating from college, a women’s ministry leader in young adulthood, and I’m now a mom to two very cute special needs kiddos. It appears encouragement is my detail.
While God doesn’t care about how or when we encourage or bless others, He very much cares about the intent and heart behind it. I care too, don’t you? If in a large group, for instance, someone says out loud: “Melanie, you are a good mother” … those words don’t mean near as much to me as when I’m alone with someone and they same the very same thing. For my ears only. The exact words bear more weight when spoken privately. But why?
Sincerity is perhaps never more beautifully pronounced than when words are spoken in those quiet intentional moments, face to face, one on one. But those moments are uncomfortable, aren’t they? To look someone in the eyes and to express the truest part of your heart to them is difficult because it requires us to tear down our walls and be vulnerable. As prideful human beings, we don’t like that too much. We fear rejection, judgment, or even apathy. Give us a computer or cell phone, however, and we can type away:
- Your smile is beautiful!
- Great looking kids!
- I love you!
- I hope to see you soon!
- I remember all of our good times!
- You’re such a great person!
Put us face to face….all alone….and the words don’t come as easy. Intimacy, however, was created by God when He chose us for communion with Him. “You are My friends,” He tells us. Corporate prayers, while sometimes magnificent to hear, are probably put on pause or mute by our Father who wants to hear our hearts. Let it sink in for a minute. He has called us His friends.
My favorite people on earth, without exception, are part of the special needs community. Until I take my last breath, I will believe they were created to teach us all about this subject. With no desire to manipulate, to gain an advantage, or to impress, they speak from their hearts. Katie, she grabs my face with the most tender hands and says: “I think you’re a beautiful angel.” She means it, and every time, I tear up. The honesty is almost too much. Heather, hooking her arm around my neck the way she does, says: “You’re so good to me, and I love you, buddy,” before kissing me on the cheek. In response, I just want to burst. In that same way, just like Katie and Heather, we need to speak and listen to one another’s hearts…honestly and openly spreading love to a world that is starving for it. That, I believe, is the point of Proverbs 27:14.
Click here for a quick laugh and to see Mona & Claudette’s take on the subject:
With Blessings, The Truest of Hearts, & Laughter!
My daughter, Lydia, and I have zany redneck alter-egos who are called “Mona & Claudette”. They were created out of thin air, really, after one of my other daughters began her (now) four year battle with suicide. I guess we needed to lighten up a bit, and scripture does say a merry heart is like medicine for the soul. In our case, it has been just that.
At some point in time, we began documenting some of our favorite exchanges on YouTube and Facebook. We’ve created, in the process, a bit of a loyal following. Sometimes they want to visit us, other times to send us things, but yesterday we received a sweet email. The message was from a person who has commented on nearly every video we’ve ever posted. He teases us, banters back and forth with us, and generally, loves us. Remarkably, our alter-egos have created a special friendship with him.
A portion of his email to us said this:
“Your videos are definitely a blessing. Your love for the Lord shows, making people happy and forget about their problems for a few minutes. I love the fact that you have love for the disabled. I have spina bifida and am paralyzed from the waist down since birth. It can be rough at times emotionally, but God has really blessed me in my 45 years.
Doctors told my parents I wouldn’t live to be an adult but here I am…. I’d love to make it a point to come visit y’all when I’m up there next. Well, I’ll go for now. God bless.”
Lydia and I are not comedians. Heck, most of the time, to others, we probably aren’t even funny (even though it should be noted that we happen to think we’re absolutely hilarious). But because we’ve chosen to scrape, fight, hook, and claw for joy through our sorrow, we’ve connected with others who are like us and who get us. It’s been an incredibly fun journey so far.
Now, it appears Mona and Claudette may be taking another step. We were recently contacted, out of the blue, by ABC producers who are creating a brand new Mark Burnett reality TV show that is sort of like Shark Tank. Starring the amazing Steve Harvey, it will be filmed in front of a live audience and will SEED new ventures. And it just so happens, Mona and Claudette have been working on a new venture.
It’s no secret that our heart and passion is for the special needs community. At this moment, in America, 716,000 adults who have special needs are living with parents who are over the age of sixty. Those parents are juggling a lot. They need a break from time to time…to vacation, to relax, to tend to everyday business, and sometimes to address medical issues. Respite care, however, is nearly non-existent.
In addition, at this very hour, we have adult friends who have Autism who are battling depression and even suicidal thoughts because they lack community. One, in particular, is being bullied, and as a result, has had to spend time in a mental facility. You see? These adults need a get-away sometimes too.
Our vision is to create a private respite home/center that will provide short term entertainment and care for high-functioning, special needs adults. Housing a game room, swimming pool, basketball court, and putt-putt course, this incredible space would offer a low-cost escape with plenty of fellowship and friendship. The parents and caregivers, in turn, wouldn’t have to worry or be concerned about those they care for.
To accomplish raising the money for this venture, we have been in the process of creating a super cute product that will be partially manufactured by the adult special needs community, which of course, will also provide paying jobs for them. THIS product is aptly called: “Mona’s MuuMuus” and will be rolled out in around 4-6 weeks. And in October (drumroll please), it looks as if Mona’s MuuMuus will be showcased on ABC by none other than Mona & Claudette. (God help us all).
We are so excited about this opportunity, but are even more ecstatic over seeing the possibility of our vision becoming a reality. If you’d like to be a part of this, you can:
- Follow Mona & Claudette on Facebook here: Mona & Claudette Facebook
- Share your favorite Mona & Claudette video
- Offer your creative thoughts and ideas
- Volunteer your talents and skills
- Pray for this vision to become a reality
Lydia and I are so grateful for your friendship, your acceptance, and your support. For those of you who “get us” and who understand that nothing we do is about us, but about our special friends who we love more than fried okra, sweet tea, and Keith Urban…well, a big old bear hug of love goes out to you.
We will post updates as we have them. Until then, we love, we serve, and we believe!