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Sunday, August 3, 2014

You don't realize the power of one little word

I was gifted the other night, with the opportunity to simply listen to a mom's story who has special needs children.  This mom has a child severely affected with autism as well as some other special needs children in her family and is doing a remarkable job with a husband who works primarily out of town much of a year.  Let there be no  mistake about it.  Parenting one special needs child is hard enough, but having two or more can be downright daunting for the average person who will remark, "I don't know how you do it!"  Believe me, we don't really know, either, you just do what needs to be done and it's simply the love for one's children that drives parents.

What I have discovered working with special needs children and their families, each need to not only feel valued, but be valued.  One mother said to me that her disabled child "saved my life" due to a tumor being discovered while pregnant with this child during a routine ultrasound. 

The majority of the parents who have disabled or special needs children are suffering, however.  Whether it's lack of sleep due to their children's health issues; lack of a social life for both the parents and their children; trying to get the proper treatment, in it's various forms for their children; struggling with the school system to provide a proper education for their children, which is federally mandated by law; or financially making it due to one parent often needing to stay home with their children due to the severity of the child's disability.  Parents of special needs kids have to fight and advocate for EVERYTHING that most folks take for granted.  Even simple childhood activities like teaching kids to swim or ride their bikes is a huge undertaking, not to mention being invited to a peer's birthday party or social activity put on at school.  Sadly, some parents also report being asked not to come back to church due to their child's disruptive behavior. Many have simply stopped going because it's simply a huge ordeal to attend in even the best of circumstances. Our kids tend to get over stimulated and highly reactive and for those who don't feel supported they end up simply staying at home instead.  

What we can't forget, however, is in order for parents of special needs kids to care the best for their kids, they need to be supported and refueled on a regular basis rather than what tends to happen; forgotten.  We all tend to be wrapped up in our own worlds.  Its all to easy to do.  

What was such a blessing, however, to both me and this mom, was simply having a sacred space to talk and allow for her to pour her heart out; sharing unfulfilled plans and simply starting to express to another person the "wondering" as to how things can start to turn around for not only her kids, but for her, personally.  Simply by asking questions and offering support, this mom was blessed and so much so, that she reported to me that she had later had the best sleep she had had in a long time.  Wow!  Makes me wonder what more the Lord wants to do through our talks.  

As my kids are learning in our evening devotions, there is something to be said about "Hope"
"[b]we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but [c]we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  Romans 5:2b-5 NASB
You don't realize the power of just one little word.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On the Move

On the move.  For the second time since moving to Northern Idaho, we have moved, once again.  Fortunately, it was a short move, only to the house next door.  Despite the hassle that comes with moving, it has been a blessing to our family.  As I'm sitting on my deck, which is a much better deck than the house we left, I'm struggling to focus on just one positive result of our new living situation.  This house, although slightly smaller, has air conditioning, cheaper rent and more energy efficient as well has a bigger yard and awesome landlords:  our former neighbors!

I came out to the quiet of the deck to work on this post on a beautiful summer evening and before long, have been followed by two of my four children.  I lamented at coming out where it was "quiet" and they both retorted, "You have 4 children.  There's no such thing as having a quiet place".  With this house being smaller than our other house, it will be challenging to find such a quiet place to work when the kids are awake, but we will adjust.  My children are such a blessing to me.  Despite the challenges and trials of single parenting, each of my children are such a gift and we certainly are learning the art of compromise.

As I think about explaining the benefits of coaching, I'm keenly aware of the lessons the Lord is teaching me and making me aware of.  It takes asking the right questions, being sensitive to focusing on what is truly important in life, what one's values are and taking steps for positive change once that awareness is realized. It takes action!

It's hard to get going sometimes, though,  and the tendency is complacency and adapting to the way things are, but yet not really living life to the fullest.  What comes with that, of course, is a lack of growth and feeling "stuck" leading to frustration.  Being in a sense, "compelled to move", can have various results depending on one's disposition despite the circumstances.  I really don't like the process of moving.  My mother still lives in the house I was raised in and the only time I moved was when I was about 20 and I moved north from our family home south of Seattle up to Bellingham, roughly 100 miles away, to go to college.  The moves as a single person were of my own initiation and exciting.  I moved quite a few times during college and after but it was not a big deal as a young, single woman.  Once my husband and I got married, we moved twice before we started our family and lived in the same house for 12 years, where all our children were born.

Since Joshua, our youngest, was born 8 years ago, we have moved now, six times.  It is so much harder moving with children!  The last 3 times, since moving to Northern Idaho, we have been so blessed by friends and family, helping with packing and moving.  Despite the trials that come with moving, not to mention the disappointment of being asked to move due to owners wanting to sell the rental house, there is a lot to be learned and many blessings, especially when you make yourself open to them, "creating awareness".  For example, I am learning, as I near the end of my 40's, that "Less is more", and God has a plan and I need to trust Him in what I will be learning through the experience, gratefully purging and focusing on what is most important.  I am grateful for all the wonderful people we have met along our journey these past 8 years in the various places we have lived.  I am also learning how to manage each of my children's special needs while also figuring out how to balance my own, to not only get re-charged, but to find that quiet time and space to enjoy the Presence of the Lord so as to seek His direction as a parent and with regards to how He wants to use me, flawed as I am.  I am learning to prioritize and discerning what is taking up space and robbing time from what is of utmost importance.  There is truth to the adage to "count one's blessings" for they are always there.

Our family has been through a lot of changes these last 8 years, some have been challenging but within these times of change and challenge, we have learned a lot, especially in regards to God's faithfulness.  Life is full of change.  Hopefully, we are making changes for the better and I can see of no better way to support one another on this journey than the talks we have during our re-instituted evening devotions.  We currently reading the lives of the saints from Amy Welborn's Loyola Kids Book of Heroes and Loyola Kids Book of Saints.  We need all the help we can get along this life's journey and learning of the faith of those who have gone before us and how their experiences relate to ours, today, is a blessing our entire family benefits from.

How has God been moving you and how have you responded to life's changes?