When illness gets you down…

sick guy cartoonAt some point in our lives, all of us will deal with significant or ongoing illness for ourselves and/or in the lives of those we love.  Many individuals have the blessing of general good health for most of their lives.  Sometimes we take that for granted.  For others, dealing with injury or with a medical condition of some kind is a life-long challenge.  There is a refining of the soul that seems to happen sometimes when one faces constant physical illness or challenges.  I have known many such individuals who had at some point made the choice to live lives of extraordinary grace and strength, with God’s help.  Choosing to see the blessings of life and even the blessings of illness or of injury or other medical and physical issues is not easy.  Our natural instinct seems to be a very keen awareness of our own suffering and a desire for that suffering to be removed.  After all, who doesn’t love to feel wonderful?  And yet, we must remember that we have only one life, and the “sick days” or even the on-going health issues are a part of it.

Sorry u r under the weather woodstockHow, then, can we deal with illness?  How can we cope with our own suffering or the suffering of someone that we love?  How can we make the most of life when illness or injury or a medical condition seems to limit our time, our energy, and our enjoyment of life?  In a way, I feel unqualified to answer this question.  After all, I have enjoyed general good health for much of my life.  And yet, I have had experience with both illness and injury, and I’ve definitely known the heartache of experiencing sorrow and pain with loved ones who were suffering.  There are many wonderful books about the theology of suffering or the spiritual, emotional, and practical considerations of dealing with physical challenges.  There are stories of amazing people who have refused to let physical challenges or illness define them.  I’ve read several books that are powerful testimonies about overcoming obstacles, including illness and injury.  The theological studies and biographical testimonies that I have read cover these issues much more comprehensively than I will attempt to do here.  All that I can offer is a simple observation, born out of my own recent experience.

Snoopys mind wanderingI have been dealing with a health situation for some time that has greatly affected my ability to function as a wife and mother and to plan ahead.  I never know when I am going to have a bad day.  I have recently been very frustrated by the frequency and duration of my health problems and how they affect my family.  Last week, I was up very late one night.  I didn’t want to try to sleep because I felt so nauseous.   This was on a Wednesday night (actually early Thursday morning).  Because I was feeling so sick and could not sleep, I had a lot of time to think about how my illness was impacting those I loved.  I had missed church due to my illness the previous Sunday, and then I’d been forced to miss church again on that Wednesday night. I had felt okay for most of the morning but started having symptoms just before lunchtime.  Often, when that happens, symptoms progress so quickly that I am not able to meet the bus carrying our little boy who has special needs when it comes at 3:00 p.m.; so I have sometimes been forced to call my husband and have him come home from work to meet Logan’s bus.  (His bus must be met by an adult).  On that Wednesday, symptoms were progressing a little more slowly, so I was able to meet Logan’s bus myself and be downstairs when 3 of Logan’s brothers arrived 30 minutes later.

On that day, I thought that if my symptoms would hold off for a couple of hours, I could get our 5 school-age boys to church for the Wednesday night meal so that they would not miss Children’s Choir or Missions, but I knew that I was in no shape to stay. In addition to feeling awful and knowing it was going to get worse, I didn’t want to be around food since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast and the thought of eating made me sick. So, I made sure the boys got their homework done and then took them to church at around 5 p.m., with my husband, Travis, planning to meet us in the parking lot.  I pulled our Suburban around to the back of the building, near the fellowship hall where the meal is served, and then I pulled to the right beside a row of cars in the parking lot to let my boys get out and meet their Dad.

Be careful signI didn’t expect any difficulty with safely dropping off the boys since I’d called my husband as soon as we arrived.  He was on his way out of the building to meet us.  In addition, due to homework and needing to wait for our Middle School age son, who arrives home from school much later than his younger brothers, we were almost 30 minutes later arriving for the meal than most people who eat at church on Wednesday night.  I thought everyone else would already be in the building.  However, as it turned out, I almost got one or more of my boys run over that day, just because of being sick. I had gotten out of the Suburban myself and was supervising the boys as they were getting out of the car on both sides when a sweet lady who had come up behind our car decided she would drive around us. I had five boys ages 7 & 7 (twins), 8 (special needs), 10, & 12 around the car on both sides, was pulled over to the right obviously unloading, and was out of the car trying to get all of the boys safely across the parking lot to the sidewalk, and yet I could not see where all of my boys were right at that moment.  If she had waited for one more minute, I would have had all of the boys safely on the sidewalk and  Travis would have been there to get them inside, but she must have felt she couldn’t wait.  I had pulled really far to the right, but she came around us on the right, with hardly any room between vehicles.  Even though I was out of the car trying to make sure all of the boys got safely to Travis and trying to watch the boys on both sides, I was unable to keep my boys safe.  If one or more of the boys had come running around the front of our vehicle right into her path, they would have been toast.  From the moment that the woman began to pull around my car until the moment when she could have hit one or more of my boys if they had happened to run around the Suburban was just a couple of seconds.  It had happened so quickly that I could not get in front of her and was powerless to stop this upsetting and potentially lethal incident, and it was all because of me being sick.  The thought of what could have happened completely undid me.

Charlie Brown sighLater that same night, after Travis got home with the boys and they had all gone to bed, at one point my hubby wanted to talk about Spring Break and what our plans would be.  He wanted to do a short trip, and I had to tell him that I am not in any shape to do it.  After all of these incidents had taken place in just a few days, I was feeling very frustrated.  My illness has not just affected me.  It affects my family in many ways.  It’s even more frustrating since I have already had lots of tests and scans but still don’t have a firm diagnosis.  In fact, my Doctor referred to me at last week’s appointment as “a mystery”.  So, I had gotten pretty down and had no problem at all thinking about all of the things I dislike about being sick.  I had quite a mental list going.  I might not have been outwardly griping around my family, but I certainly was feeling frustrated and upset inside. 😦

cartoon checklist photoIn this state of mind, a thought occured to me.  I should make a list of all of the good things about being sick.  I honestly did not expect to get very far.  I thought that I would be doing well to come up with 3 or 4 things and that even those reasons might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination.  I decided to call this exercise my “Top Ten List of Good Things About Being Sick,” and I began to think things through.  My original thinking was that after I’d named 3 or 4 lame reasons that being sick can be good, then I would put down the same phrase for all of the other slots to round out my top ten list, “Sorry.  That’s all I’ve got.”  At least I was thinking about the subject with a little bit of humor, but I certainly can’t say that I was optimistic.  Perhaps what I was really looking for was an excuse to stay in my frustrated mindset and proof that there really was nothing good about being sick.  However, a strange thing happened.  When I began to think about things that I could be thankful for about being sick (even though my effort was half-hearted at best), suddenly all sorts of reasons began to occur to me.  Before I knew it, I had a list of 8 things that can be good about being sick.  (Although, honestly, I’ll take wellness any day).  I thought for a little while more and could not come up with any additional good things, so I did end my list the way I had planned, with “Sorry.  That’s all I’ve got.”  I put my list on my facebook status, with my little attempt at humor as my closing statement.  Just a few minutes after I posted my list of 8 good things, two more reasons really did come to me.  I added them to my status as a comment, surprised that I actually had come up with a list of 10 good things about being sick.

For me, the whole exercise was a lesson.  Here’s what I learned:

I chose to light a candle...

I chose to light a candle…

1.)  It’s okay to acknowledge feelings of frustration, anger, depression, grumpiness, and dwindling hope.  If we are going to be honest in prayer, we have to just pour all of that out.  God knows how we are feeling.  He is just waiting for us to say, “This is how I feel…., and yet, I know that You are God.  I have done all that I can do, Lord.  I am depending on You and waiting on You and trusting You.”  Then, he can begin to minister grace and comfort and wisdom and, yes, healing (whether that healing is emotional, spiritual, physical, or all 3).

2.)  It can be healthy to spend a little time analyzing yourself and figuring out what is most upsetting to you and why.  (For me, the root of the greatest frustration was definitely not feeling that progress was being made toward getting better and, primarily, the negative impact on my family.  I also miss my old, more productive and dependable life from “before”.)  Sometimes, we need a little time to grieve all of the changes and the impact of illness or injury and to mentally process both the knowns and the unknowns.

3.)  After taking some time to think about what you are feeling, there is one thing that seems to begin to turn things around and change an attitude of frustration, fear, or doubt (that there could be anything good in the situation).  The simple cure is very effective.  It is thankfulness.  Even though I didn’t feel thankful yet when I began making my list of good things, I soon began to see my own illness and even sickness in general through a new lens.

4.)  When I began to make even the slightest effort to see things differently, it was as though God met me right where I was and opened a window so that I could briefly see the (sometimes) hidden value of things that are hard to experience in the here and now.

5.)  I surprised myself, but it really was God surprising me all along.  He promises to work everything for good in the lives of those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28)  Could that possibly mean even nasty germs or cancer cells?  Could it include tragic injuries or even lifelong medical conditions?

Yes.

The answer is … yes.

It’s not that those things are good in themselves.  After all, when we reach Heaven, it will be filled with only what is good and righteous and pure.  Illness, injury, pain, and physical limitations will not be there.  The truth that we hold on to in this life is that God will take even these things and cause them to work together for good (for now, for forever, for His kingdom!).  What a promise that is!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  – Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Snoopy doctors woodstockAm I a completely reformed grouch?  Well, perhaps I am semi-reformed.  I can’t say that I will never wish something hard or painful or yucky would just go away.  I know that many times in my life, the removal of a trial will be my fervent prayer.  But what I do hope to remember is that if I look for reasons to be thankful, I will find them.  If I look for the good, it will be revealed.  I still won’t understand everything, because God’s ways are higher than my ways.  Now, I know I see through a glass darkly; but someday, I will have full understanding.  Right now, one of my main questions might be, “Isn’t there some other way I could learn this?’  Then, in Heaven, when I suddenly know even as I am known, I believe that all of my questions will be answered before I can even ask them.

So, here is my list of the top ten good things about being sick.  (What was written on that sleepless night is in italics below.)  This really is so much more than just a list.  For me, it was really an exercise… in thankfulness and trust.

Cindy’s List of the Top Ten Good Things About Being Sick
🙂
Snoopy thank you dance1. Being sick makes you really thankful for the times when you are feeling good so that you don’t take health for granted.
🙂 
2. It is really something to be thankful for that most illnesses don’t last very long.  (With all of the germs around us, how miraculous it is that we are so often well!)
🙂
3. Being sick helps one to appreciate the amazing complexity of the human body and the capacity for healing.
🙂 
4. Beling sick can slow one down long enough to re-focus priorities.
🙂
 
5. I’ve heard people say that they would not choose to have missed what they have learned and experienced through an illness or injury. (not sure I’m there at this point, but I’m thinking about it)
🙂 
6. When you are sick, the people who love you are always there with a prayer or some other kind of caring. You love and appreciate them already, but the experience of ministering to one another bonds hearts like nothing else.
🙂
7. When you are sick, you realize again how amazing it is to never be alone and to have God’s presence with you through everything. It is a comfort to know the hope of healing, the hope of Heaven, and the hope of tomorrow (and to have peace when nothing makes sense because you know that your life is held in loving Hands).
🙂
8. When you are sick and you look in the mirror, you realize that your normal look is not so bad after all (compared to the bleary-eyed stranger staring back at you).
🙂
9. ?….? I’ve got nothing.  
(Note:  this is the way I originally wrote the list.  I had nothing here, but God was not finished teaching me yet.)
🙂
10. Hey, I was doing well to come up with 8 good things, don’t ya think?
Just a little humor. Gotta keep smiling, right?  🙂
🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂  *  🙂
At this point, I thought that my list was finished.  I certainly did not think that I could come up with anything else to add.  I was ready to give myself an “E” for Effort.  However, it wasn’t even five minutes before I had added the following:
🙂
Okay, I thought of 2 more, so here are my amendments to the list:
🙂
9. Going through any kind of struggle (including being sick) can make one more compassionate.
🙂
10. Going through trials helps me grow as a Christian. “…the trying of your faith worketh patience…”
The bad part is that now everyone knows for sure that my patience needs work (as if anyone was fooled in the 1st place).
🙂
The funny thing is that when I started typing the list I had only thought of 3 or 4 good things, so it was going to be more of a joke to only go that far and then say, “I’ve got nothing” for the rest.  But, when I started out with thankfulness, the other good things just kept coming to me.  This thankfulness thing really works!  🙂
🙂
Pollyanna glad game quoteIt may seem simple, and some people may label me a Pollyanna; but I have discovered again and again that being thankful is the way to go.  What’s the alternative?  Being miserable.  Sometimes I may spend a little time in misery land, but I don’t want to stay there.  If I’m going to be dealing with something difficult, at least I can recognize that there is still beauty in life, there is still good in life, and that I am never alone through any of it.  Choosing to see the good and to be thankful is not rocket science.  We all know that keeping a good attitude and staying optimistic is important.  Sometimes, illness just squeezes the life out of our optimism, and we need a reminder to take back our mental, emotional, and spiritual power over frustration and despair by choosing to look for the good and be grateful.  So, when illness gets you down, take a step of faith by choosing thankfulness (even if you don’t feel like it), and then wait on the Lord.  He will lift you up!  🙂
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
there is always something to be thankful for“Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”
– Psalm 28:6 & 7
🙂
“Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.” Phil. 4:6
🙂
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
🙂
This post was written by Cynthia  Boyd
🙂

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Advertisements

The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

A revelation of grace, grief, joy, love, blessings, and challenges

For parents of special needs children, family and friends who love them, and others who want to understand.

We're in this together.

We’re in this together.

 When it comes to the here and now and the practical issues of parenting,
there are certain facts that are true for every loving parent and child.

*  Every child is different, and their needs vary significantly throughout the constant changes of growth and development.

*  Every parent seeks to meet the needs of their child or children, no matter how challenging those needs may be.

*  Every loving parent tries to stay in tune with the heart of their child and to know and even anticipate their needs.

*  No matter what a parent experiences in caring for and loving a child, the love and the joy over-ride everything else.

*  The two most important goals of most parents are:
(1) to help their child go through all of the developmental stages in their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth
and 
(2) to help their child learn how to become an independent and contributing adult with the skills, knowledge, wisdom, character, and faith they will need to live a life of meaning and purpose.

keep trying signSAME  GOALS, WITH INDIVIDUALIZATION
For parents of children who have special needs, these basic facts and primary goals are the same.  However, the methods of achieving these objectives can be vastly different, often with much different expectations and a highly individual timetable for development that is discovered only through continued effort and the constant need to adapt to the individual child’s own pace in learning and in reaching developmental milestones.

For some children, a developmental timetable can be relatively predictable.  However, many children with special needs seem to have their own internal pace.  Developmental experts can make predictions.  Teachers and therapists and parents can set goals, but the true timetable for learning and developmental progress cannot be set externally.  It is revealed by time.  Sometimes, the developmental milestones are met more quickly than anyone expected; and sometimes progress can seem to take place, only to be followed by regression.  Sometimes, progress happens but takes a long time.  Parents of special needs children come to know the unpredictability of progress all too well.  Special needs parents also learn to re-evaluate the very concept of progress.  If, for a special and wonderfully made child, the “norms” are not the norm, your hope for progress in every area possible must still be kept alive.  For some, progress can mean the absence of regression.
The Key Truth about goals:
Even if hopes for progress and positive change must be adapted somewhat for an individual child, those sparks of hope are kept alive (and fanned into a flame of persistent faith in the un-revealed potential within) by the deep love of parents for precious little hearts and souls.

Relying on God’s strength and seeing the child within
Every situation is different, and all parents of special needs children deal with ongoing needs and challenges that require all that we are and even more than our best.  God’s strength and His promise to work everything together for our good are crucial in my own life as far as mental and emotional well-being.  However, I certainly cannot speak or write for every special needs parent or for every kind of situation.  Special needs can be physical, emotional, mental, developmental, academic, sensory, social, behavioral, functional, ambulatory, or medical.  (Note:  I am not a special needs professional, so I may be leaving something out.)   The term “special needs” can also apply to any kind of combination of various types of needs.  However, … it is not the needs alone that special needs parents want others to seeIt is the child.  Certainly, an awareness of special needs can be crucial, but recognizing the uniquely precious child within is even more so.  Each child is unique not only in their needs and challenges but in the blessing of their precious life.

Dealing with the desire to “fix” things
Part of being the parent of a special needs child is knowing (and dealing with the knowing) that you cannot give to them everything that you would like for them to have.  Sometimes there are issues of health, mobility, understanding, communication, ability, independence, a “normal life”, and even length of days.  As parents, we can’t change everything, and we can’t fix everything as our hearts long to do.  Some things are out of our control and are in God’s hands.  Even the things that seem to be within our control are in God’s hands, and that really is the best place for them to be.  So, we hope… and we never stop striving to make things the best that they can be for our children.  We trust, and keep walking with God, knowing that our lives, our hurts, our hopes, our loves, and our deepest longings are in His hands, too.  Most of all, we love.  We keep loving, knowing that love is the best gift and that love is something we have in abundance only because God first loved us when we were sick and weak and lost and blind and unable to fully live.  He is our hope and the source of love.  He made our precious children, and He will someday give to them a life that is more than we could imagine, eternally whole and fully aware of how unique and special and loved they are.  We will surrender our need to make everything alright and trust that God will make everything right someday in ways that we never could.  Our job is not to “fix” or to “make everything better” but to love.  We will accept that some things will be different for our child, but we will never give up trying to make things the best that they can be.

Key truth about acceptance and surrender:
Hoping and striving, trusting that there is a purpose for your child’s struggles, and relying on God’s promises can allow us to focus on what is truly important.  God’s love for you and your child and your love for each other will always be the most important and eternal aspects of life.  Although the journey through life with your special needs child involves a lot of unknowns and griefs, love will carry you through them.

Look at me!   I may not be able to fly as high as some, but I am trying to fly my best. I am special.  I am unique.  I am beautiful!

Look at me!
I may not be able to fly as high as some, but I am trying to fly my best.
I am special. I am unique. I am beautiful!

difficult road aheadTHE MYSTERY OF THE JOURNEY

It’s as though a parent of a special needs child has begun a journey with an uncertain destination, incomplete road maps, and a set of broken tools.  The compass has no needle, so direction is unsure.  The spyglass has a broken lens, so you can’t see what’s ahead.  The GPS keeps chanting “Recalculating, recalculating…” inside your mind as you deal with an unfamiliar landscape.  Your watch has stopped working, so there is no accurate timetable or way to measure progress made against whatever progress might be possible.  Your cell phone has a low battery, so it’s difficult to communicate with your family and friends.  They are still there for you, and they also love and know your child; but it’s hard for them to invest enough time to truly know and understand what you are experiencing along the way.   Your pain comes through in spite of the dropped calls, but sometimes they don’t know what to do or say.  The rest of your immediate family is travelling with you and your special needs child, and hopefully your spouse is with you in every way as you face the journey together.  If you are a single parent, hopefully you will be able to build a support system of loving friends and family who will come alongside to help your child (or children) when needed and also be a help and support to you.

family journey in the fall

GRIEVING, HOPING, LIVING

Your other children each have their own journey, with their own issues and needs along the way.  They need you to travel with them as well, so you are simultaneously experiencing very real life journeys that are vastly different, depending upon the needs and special needs of each of your children.  In addition to all of the common struggles of growing up, your other children also face unseen hurdles and even their own griefs as they love and try to protect their special needs sibling.  There are a lot of things about having a special needs sibling that can be very difficult, but you try to teach your other children along the way that love and thankfulness are the keys to enjoying life moment by moment with their special needs sibling, while also grieving for them at times.  So, as parents, you are not only dealing with your own feelings and griefs and questions and challenges (in relation to the challenges faced by your special needs child), but you are also dealing with helping your other children to understand, cope, grieve with hope, love without condition, and handle their own feelings regarding everything related to their special needs brother or sister.

For parents, it’s incredibly hard to balance the unknown aspects of the journey with your special needs child (and each of your family members’ own struggle with the family’s journey on that road) while also experiencing the milestones and life changes of growing up with your other children.  These milestones and life changes have been revealed to the very core of your heart as something that cannot be taken for granted.  On the one hand, they are incredibly sweet since you recognize what a miracle each of them is for the child as you witness the wonders of growth and change.  On the other, you grieve inside for the fact that these same milestones and life changes are not all going to happen or are not going to happen in the same way for your special needs child.  The balancing act becomes one of grieving while rejoicing, often without revealing your heart in the moment (so that the internal struggle does not diminish the joys of very real accomplishments and life changes for the child who is moving forward).
Key Truth about living hopefully even while living with grief:
When the waves of grief wash over you, you eventually learn to immediately focus your thoughts on all of the blessings of life with your special needs child and all of the victories, from the most minute to the biggest of the big, that have happened in the life of your special needs child and in your heart as you have loved and cared for him or her.  Thankfulness is the only antidote to grieving that I know.  It is the lifeline that will pull you out of the crashing waves of grief and into the presence of Christ.

Gratitude is ...

LOOKING FOR THE BLESSINGS

One of the many blessings that is a part of life with the incredible gift of your special needs child is the fact that there is a sharpened and very keen level of awareness of the need to be more fully aware in all of life.  If I am more aware of the pain and challenge and difficulty and loneliness in my life, I must also become more aware of the joys and blessings and victories and wonderful moments and graces within the tough moments.  Here are some examples of the ways that this awareness of the need to become more aware manifests itself in my life as a special needs parent.

>  In my moments of the most acute need, when I am dealing with some aspect of now or of tomorrow, I can become so aware of the fact that the challenge is mine to face that I could miss the sweetness of possessing this need.  Here is part of the fuller awareness that I need to find and to remember:

I have this need because of an infinitely incredible gift.

*  I have this need because of life and because of love.

*  I have this need because somehow God saw something within me that could be made beautiful with the help of a precious little soul who has become my teacher.

every journey begins with first step

>  In moments when hopelessness begins to creep into my heart, I can become so aware of feeling overwhelmed that I miss the lessons of holding on to hope.  I can even miss the truth that hope is at its most powerful when the answer or solution or resolution or realization of that hope seems the most remote.

I have this hope, and I hold on to this hope, because I will never give up seeking to make life better and more full and loving for my child.

*  I have this hope because I know that there are people who have never given up on me, and I have seen how powerful this force of hope can be in my own experience.

*  I have this hope because all things are possible through Christ.

*  I have this hope because when desperation has caused me to lose my hold on hope, I fall into the hands of my Father, who surrounds me with His love and with the knowledge that all hope is found in Him.

*  I have this hope because life has infinite value and because I have been blessed.

My help comes from the Lord

REJOICING IN THE VICTORIES

>  In moments when a victory happens, I sometimes become acutely aware that there is almost no one that can really grasp the significance of this victory because so few see the entirety of the struggle.  I can become so aware of the loneliness of incomplete knowledge that I miss all of the blessings that should be my focus.  Here are some reminders of the blessings within each victory.

This victory has happened because of the will and the spirit of a little trooper who keeps on trying and is often so blissfully unaware of the fact that this moment was long in coming that nothing dims his joy.

*  I can rejoice in this victory because it means that all of the investment of time and love and care and therapy and intervention (which was valuable in itself, even without and before tangible results) has produced a positive change that has made life better in some way for my much-loved child… which, in turn, gives hope and motivation to keep going!

*  I can rejoice in this victory because it is a reminder that even though I may feel alone sometimes and even though there is no one (other than Travis and I) who has seen all of the parts of the story of our Logan from the beginning until now, I meditate on the fact that we have not been alone.  We (my husband, my family, and I) have had each other, and we have had the presence of God with us every step of the way, even in the hardest moments that no one else has ever seen.  I can also recall and rejoice in the fact that there are so many wonderful people who have loved our Logan (and still do) and who have been a part of his journey and ours in very significant ways, helping both him and us to reach the vantage point from which we can look back and see all that has taken place.  The feeling of loneliness and of recognition that few can fully grasp a victory is replaced with thankfulness for family and friends and teachers and therapists and specialists and doctors and volunteers in support organizations and respite volunteers and Sunday School teachers and workers, and child care givers, and special family friends who have cared for Logan, and Choir and Missions and Vacation Bible School teachers and helpers at church, and people who volunteer to serve as a “shadow” for Logan and focus on his needs, and every kind stranger who has ever spoken a word of encouragement.

uphill road

PERSPECTIVE ON THE ROLLER COASTER

It’s really difficult to explain this crazy roller coaster of parenting a special needs child.  There are moments of sheer terror or panic and moments of thrills and laughter.  There are many times when my heart and my life feels so full of love, and there are also many times when the uncertainty, the questions, and the challenges threaten to attack my peace and steal my joy.  There’s so much more involved in the experience than could possibly be contained in this article.  While it can be exhausting to experience the intensity of so many emotional highs and lows involved in the blessing of parenting all of our children (and particularly our son who has special needs), there is also a strength that is born out the the knowledge that for every awareness of difficulty and acknowledgement of pain, there are blessings and joys that come to light with the re-focus.

THE KEY:  It is this secondary focus on the awareness of the flip side (to every difficulty) that reveals burdens shared and lifted, victories gained, spiritual lessons, simple joys, and love… always love. 

And many, many times, that side (the blessing side, which we see by faith and also because it is very real) is what we’ve learned to see first.  We choose to see the positives There are a lot of blessings!  There is a lot of joy!

 

  Loving our special needs child has made us better people because he has helped us to see all of the joys and blessings.

Loving our special needs child has made us better people because he has helped us to see all of the joys and blessings that could have been overlooked.

Logan's most recent school picture

Logan’s most recent school picture

Many things are the same for us and for other special needs parents as for any parent and child.  Highs and lows are experienced in every family.  Challenges and heartbreaks come.  Victories and heart-warming moments come, too.  There are moments of recognition and realization that are so significant and memorable that they become part of the story of every parent and child.  Moments of realization with other children might be about discovering an ability or talent that can be nurtured.  A moment of realization with Logan might be a flash of recognition that we have been praying the same prayer (that this would be the year, the month, the day when he would finally learn to chew and be able to eat real food) for six years now.  A moment of victory with another child might be all A’s on a report card.  With Logan, a recent moment of victory took place when Logan finally did something that most children do as a pre-schooler.  Last year, there was a day when Logan took a paper out of his backpack when he got home from school and showed it to me.  It was the first time he’d ever done that (at age 7 rather than at 2 or 3.  A couple of weeks ago, Logan again brought me a paper; but this time, he spoke to me about it. It was the first time he’s ever brought me a paper and told me about it…at age 8 (almost 9).  He brought me this paper (I scanned it so that you could see it here), and he said, “Look, Mama!  It’s Logan’s beautiful heart!”  I could not have said it better myself.

"Logan's Beautiful Heart"  It's purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out.  A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

“Logan’s Beautiful Heart”
It’s purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out. A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

We certainly cannot deny the fact that our Logan is a child who has special needs.  More importantly, though, Logan a little boy.  He loves to have fun and be silly.  He loves to run and play.  He may not be able to experience everything in the same way as his brothers, but he experiences everything with his whole heart.  When he’s happy, he is whole-heartedly happy.  He makes others happy, too!  Logan does have a beautiful heart.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

I believe that every loving, special needs parent, like us, experiences

a process of learning to  SEE   beyond …..

the needs,

the challenges,

the diagnosis,

and the uncertainty of the future

to the most important thing…

the precious and wonderful gift of their child.

There will always be many questions about tomorrow.

*  There are questions about how much progress Logan is going to be able to make.

*  There are questions about how independent he is going to be able to become.

*  There are questions about who will care for him when my husband and I no longer can.

In addition to those concerns about the future, there are many needs right here and now.  With our five other boys and all of their needs, it is hard to find enough time to do all that we need to do for Logan.  He is getting special therapy for his eating issues twice a week, but he also needs a lot of one on one time (as do all of our boys).  He needs us to read to and with him, to do math flash cards with him, to play board games with him, and to teach him to do household tasks.  There is so much that can be done and so much that will need to be done in and for his future.  However, we can’t let ourselves get so caught up in all of the tasks and all of the unknowns that we miss just simply loving and relating to Logan right now.  We need to enjoy him, and there is much to enjoy.  From his affectionate nature to his quirky sense of humor, to his fun personality and all of the things that he is learning, Logan is an awesome little boy.  Developmental targets and statistics and academic goals and plans for the future are all very important, but Logan’s beautiful heart and soul are the most important.

faith makes things possibleSo, while we don’t want to sugarcoat a life that has major challenges and many heartaches that no one else sees, we choose to look for the blessings.

While it’s true that we are always aware of our own human emotion and human reactions to life’s challenges, we are on a journey toward having a sharpening of vision.  We are learning to see the flip side of tough realities.  Our spiritual eyesight is responding to the lessons of the heart and soul and learning to see blessings first.

When we look at our Logan, we do see infinite blessings.  We know that many, many others see the blessing of Logan, too, and that’s really what we want as parents.

We want to know that when you look at our child, you see a little heart and soul that is a blessing of uncalculable and infinite worth.

–This post was written by Cynthia Boyd

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

NOTE:  Even though this post is fairly long, it still feels as though I have published it in an incomplete state.  There is so much more to write and so much more to learn and experience.  There is so much in my heart, and I haven’t been able to put it all into words yet.  I can see the value in sharing the words that are already here, even though there is more to come and much more to understand.  So, here are the thoughts that have made their way into this revelation of life.  I hope they bring understanding and help someone.  If this post touches your heart, please share it with others, using this link:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-secret-life-of-a-special-needs-parent/

For more on the story of our personal journey, read this post:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/one-brave-little-boy/

Or, read some of the other posts in our  “Special needs, Special blessings”  category at:  https://familysong.wordpress.com/category/special-needs-special-blessings/

 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Obstacles road signNote:  I love this little sign.  The figure is not stopped by the obstacle, he jumps right over it.  Parents of special needs children, this is you!  You are an overcomer of obstacles, a stubborn warrior who will not give up, and a tidal wave of love that cannot be stopped.  Sometimes, this is my sign, too.  And, sometimes, I need a sign that is a little bit different.  Sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure being lifted over the obstacle or carried through the storm by the strong hand of Father God, and sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure and his family camped out in front of the obstacle, working and hoping and praying for victory.  If you pan back a little farther on my camp out sign, you will see that the ground on which our campsite stands is not really earth.  It is the hands of God, where He is holding us as we wait and work and believe that this obstacle will be conquered.  If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I can assure you that nothing else would help you more with all of the challenges of life, and nothing else will make you more aware of your blessings and give you more hope for eternity.  If you have questions about life and eternity and God and purpose, please go to our page called, “Do You Know Jesus” at this link:

http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

There, you will find links to many web pages that have been designed specifically to answer any question that you might have.  Some of these pages even have the capability to be translated into multiple languages.  Let us know if you find the anwers you are seeking.  We are praying for you!

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Here’s a music video with some precious photos of special needs children and Moms and Dad. It will bless you!

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Note:  Here’s a link to an article for parents whose child has been diagnosed with ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder).

http://thestir.cafemom.com/toddler/135651/10_steps_to_take_if?utm_medium=sm&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=autism_fanpage

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

A Little Boydie told me…

Just a reg’lar Mom in a house full of boys

praise4ever

praise4ever

I'm a busy wife and mother of 7, with 6 incredible boys still at home and a beautiful married daughter. Our boys range in age from our 10 year old twins to our 22 year old. We have 2 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, one in High School, and one High School grad. They are all incredible and special. One of our boys has special needs. I'm a musician, singer, writer, composer, blogger, and teacher. I'm thankful for our home and family, for Travis, my amazing husband of 39 years, and for family and friends near and far. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and that He has given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Personal Links

View Full Profile →

Giving a Song to say “Thank You”

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father of 7, and a Minister of Music and Worship, I am very blessed. For a total of 32 years, I have served as a Minister of Worship for some wonderful congregations in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. It is a joy to lead God's people in worshipping Him through music, and I am very blessed to serve at First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia. I'm also a composer, lyricist, arranger, and orchestrator, with choral anthems, songs, and orchestrations published by Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard), Lorenz, Choristers Guild, and Lifeway. My web-based music publishing site, WorshipSounds Music (formerly Boydbrain Music), offers Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Congregational Praise, and Vocal Solo music. Our worship blog has become an extension of worship ministry, and it is a privelege to share information and inspiration with other worshippers. My desire is to glorify God through my life, ministry, and composition work. I believe that music is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God's love and mercy and to glorify Him. My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years. We have 7 children. Daughter Meredith lives in Texas. Sons Jared, Zachary, Braden, Logan, Austin, and Camden range in age from 7 to 19 and are still living at home.

Personal Links

Verified Services

View Full Profile →