Who Are You? Obey, Wait and See

“I’ve been waiting” could be one of the themes of my life.  “God delivers “could be the second. As I sit here with my 21 year-old daughter and a friend in a trendy coffee shop, I realize how blessed my life seems right now.  Of course it’s not “perfect” (as if there were such a thing), but God has given me so many of the desires of my heart.

Let me qualify this by saying that the desires of my heart have changed over the years as God trained me.  Some of my key desires before my children were born were to finish my doctoral degree and to secure a meaningful job the area of community health or health behavior change. And after my children were born I simply wanted us all to “live happily ever after”. Easy peasy, right?  Not so, I learned.

When my children came around and my sweet Katie was diagnosed with autism, everything changed.  My goals in life were threatened.  I quit working on my degree to research and create good therapy for Katie (there were not many programs  20 years ago).  My plans of working at least part-time were replaced with  surviving the upheaval of autism.  “Happily Ever After” seemed long gone.

What I didn’t know at the time was that God hadn’t taken away my dream of happiness, He had just asked me to wait.  He had things to teach me about what happiness really means. I learned it has little to nothing to do with having a degree, having a dream job or a perfectly healthy family.  It has everything to do with realizing we’re not in control, that we can trust God with our lives, and that He delivers gifts at the perfect time.

God has blessed me beyond what I even knew that I needed or wanted.  After four years of hard work fighting the effects of autism, He provided a lovely person to care for my children so I could finish my degree.  After 20 years of raising children with special needs, He gave me a job teaching graduate students in Public Health.  In the meantime, He gave me the opportunity to start two non-profit organizations, to write, speak, home-school and to explore new hobbies.  My children taught me wonderful lessons about life and love–often as we walked through pain together.  These are things I may not have tried nor learned had I been given the life I anticipated when I was 22 years old.

Overall, God knew me better than I know myself.  He developed and used personal gifts I took for granted, and taught me to forgive myself for the gifts I wish I had but don’t. He made my life far more rich and interesting than any plan I could have devised.

As you wait for something in your life– a situation to change, a financial situation to be relieved, a health problem to be resolved or a special person to “come around”, remember that God’s timing is perfect and that He will deliver what is needed at the perfect time.  He does not provide an overnight delivery service because He works through messy people and situations who or which need deep, heart level, or systemic change.

Easter is coming soon– but Good Friday comes first.  When we learn, like Jesus, to be obedient to what God suggests for our lives, we will eventually witness the resurrection of who we really are.  Nobody knew for sure the truth about Jesus until His death and resurrection.  It took the death of his earthly body and of His personal will for Jesus to reveal who He really was– God incarnate– God on earth.  Then He changed the world by the revelation of His true self. When we walk the path he puts in front of us, no matter the condition of the road, we will reach His intended destination for us.  It may take months or years of obedience–but it’s good and worth the wait.  Who are you?  Obey– and wait– and see.





Pray, Show up and Trust

parenting effortsAre your parenting efforts making a significant difference? How can you know? Spoiler Alert! –You can’t know!

Parenting is just like that.  You may be working on potty training, language skills, academics, or polite behavior.  You may research the best strategies, prepare and even get teaching “props” to enhance the learning.  But sometimes your kids don’t respond in the way you want. They don’t react like your friend’s child, or like the blog-post child, and they certainly don’t meet your expectations. Then what?

A recent experience reminds me of this issue.  I traveled out of state to present a workshop to encourage parents raising their children who had disabilities. I spent weeks trying to perfect the workshop. When the day came I began by introducing myself and asking the participants to do the same.  Their introductions through me for a loop!  The room was filled with loads of teachers and only a few were parents who had special-needs children. What? I am happy to speak to teachers– but I use a different presentation. That day I was ready to talk to parents and my preparation reflected it.

What to do?  I presented my material as planned and tried to tweak it with discussion (theirs and mine) in order to meet the needs of teachers.  However, this group was quiet, leaving me uncertain about whether my attempt was successful.

This is when experience saved my day:  

It told me just to teach to the best of my ability.

It told me that the participants were here for a reason because this event had been prayed over in advance.

Experience told me that God sometimes takes us by surprise and uses us in ways we don’t expect.

As a matter of fact, at the end of the day one woman told me she attended the workshop to get continuing education credits, but that she realized she was really there for her own personal encouragement.  She gained spiritual insight she didn’t know she even needed.

You might be doing something now on behalf of your child or some other situation in your family.  You may not be seeing the results you expected.

It’s okay. Take comfort in knowing that sometimes much is happening even though you can’t see it.

As I sit here blogging in a coffee shop, I just ran into a friend who is a women’s minister.  She told me that a group of moms in her church have been using my book, Persevering Parent, in their support group, and how much it has helped them. I had no idea about this group–and it’s been in progress for six months. Good things happen that are beyond our view.

Are you unsure if your efforts are making an impact?

Take heart and know that your efforts with your children are changing them little by little in ways unseen. The situation where you see no progress may be transitioning to an outcome that just has not been revealed to you yet.

In short, over 25 years of parenting, God has repeatedly taught me to do three things:  

1) pray about situations,

2) show up, and

3) trust Him with the rest.

In what ways are you discouraged?  Are you praying about it? Showing up?  Then trust God with the outcome!

“So do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised.”  Hebrews 10:35-36

Answering Fear

A thief could be stalking you. The thief I’m speaking of won’t take your car or household treasures.  This one tends to hunt down, steal and then destroy your joy and confidence.  It’s insidious and it feeds on your response.  This thief is fear.

Last week I blogged about how the “fear of men”  can prevent us from living out God’s call on our life.  It  can stunt our social and emotional growth and disrupt the fulfillment of our and God’s dreams for us. It steals potential happiness before we can even sense its presence.  It can also interfere with how we parent.

I certainly know how parenting a child with social, emotional or behavioral challenges can be fraught with fear.  Taking care of any child is a serious endeavor, and one with special needs brings new and formidable tasks into our lives.  It is understandable that when our child has autism, ADHD, bipolar, anxiety or other challenges, we can fear how others will interpret the social missteps, emotional reactions or behavior outbursts.  The key is not letting this snare stop us in our tracks.

I struggled with this when my kids were young. There were some family activities we avoided because I feared the misunderstanding of others.  My husband and I didn’t take our kids camping because we didn’t want to inconvenience other campers (and feel embarrassment) if our kids started to fight or experience a loud meltdown.   We didn’t want our family to appear uncouth or for us to be regarded as bad parents.  Bottom-line, we were afraid of the opinions of others.

Thankfully, not everyone responds like me. Recently I met a mom (Leanne) who has a young child with autism, but she refuses to let the opinion of others get in the way of enjoying time with her child.   Proverbs 29:25 tells us that “fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” This promise of safety includes spiritual and emotional well-being.  Leanne knows she can’t please everyone, but she rests in the truth that she and her family are who and what God intended. Your family may be atypical, but know that God created each child in your family specifically for you to parent.  We can be considerate of others, but balance that with the call to live life with our kids.  Trust God to keep you emotionally strong as you practice facing uneducated opinion.

So how do you answer your fear?  With action! Go ahead and go camping, skiing, boating, to church and to the movies.  Your child may present you with some interesting challenges, but God will guide you through them and through the fear of what others might think.  Have a short speech or pre-printed card ready for the challenging times, “Sorry, we’re working on that,” or “He/she has autism and this is a tough environment.”  Or you may choose to ignore any disapproving glances, knowing that you and God are working on something bigger–imprisoning that thief and gaining joy and confidence in its place!  You go, my friend!


The Fear of You

fearYou are my inspiration and my stumbling block. Yes, you! This has been my first week into my Year of No Fear, and I thought you should know that the impetus for it originated from my care for you– but also from my fear of you. Although fear has invaded several areas of my life over the years, my current motivation to overcome it was initiated by the insecurity of revealing myself and my family on the internet—and how you (people, in general) would respond.  Here are some of my specific fears:

1) fear I might do something “wrong” (in  a tech-culture sort of way) while posting

2) fear that someone would either consider me or my family members weak or pathetic, and feel sad for or even critical toward us

3) fear of the opposite—that sharing victories or blessings would cause people to think I am boastful or conceited

4) fear of  writing or sharing something that someone might consider worthless

Some people might call these “insecurities”, but it is fear at its core.  While many consider public speaking to be a major fear, public writing (online) has been one of mine.  My friend Amy (www.CapacityforJoy.Wordpress.com) describes honest blogging as akin to public speaking in a bikini.  She’s right. It can be scary letting all your private stuff hang out–especially when you have experienced criticism while being vulnerable in real life.

But that is ultimately not an excuse to succumb to fear—in this case, as the Bible puts it, “the fear of men”.  We need to get to the point where we get serious about fearing (revering and obeying) God! His call to us is not to be ignored–even if it makes us uncomfortable!  And ultimately, obeying His call frees us to be our genuine selves and liberates us from the anxiety of wondering what other people think.  God wired me to love writing and with a desire to make a difference in the world.  Sometimes my attempts to live out my calling might seem mediocre, average, or less-than average.  And I’ve decided that’s ok. Really. I posted a video (sea turtle) on my Facebook page a few weeks ago in spite of its mediocrity (compared to cute cat videos).  I specifically posted it to overcome my fear of sending out mediocre content.  Some people actually liked it, but that’s not the point.  That turtle brought me joy and I wanted to share it.  Good enough. There. Done.

Are you “afraid of men”?

What are you doing–or not doing–because you are afraid?

What potential blessings are you missing?

What can you do this week to take a little chip out of your fear?

In my next blog, I’ll relate this concept to special needs parenting and consider how God historically has moved His people through fear.  God’s work is historically and currently life-changing, so tune in.

But for today, I want you to know that I’m not afraid of you.  So, in honor of God, in response to his call on my life, and to move forward in my theme for the year, I’m pressing PUBLISH on this blog site.

Good enough. There. Done!






Choosing a Year of No Fear

I had a dream recently that is typical for my unconscious nighttime adventures.  I dreamt I was on a beach vacation with a group of family and friends, but was stressed out because we all had identical black suitcases and I was constantly confused about which was mine.  I went from one to the other, certain I had found mine, only to reach in and discover that it was someone else’s.  I was anxious to be missing my own belongings and worried that I would be unjustly accused of theft.  Also, I was worried about how badly I needed a shower…

I know there are some particular anxieties revealed in this dream that might interest some psychotherapist, but, for today let’s focus on the feelings of anxiety in general.  This dream reflects what God and I know about worry in my life.  It has played a starring role too often.  In response, God directed me to choose a theme for my year– the theme of No Fear. I rarely even make New Years Resolutions so choosing a theme for a year is a totally new experience for me, but it’s sorely needed. Others may not see fear as prominent in my life because I don’t always act based on these feelings, but God and I know I have to beat them down regularly.

As I write, I am cautious about using  the word, “fear” because I have rarely had my life or safety threatened in a way that others may have experienced, and I don’t want to minimize those intense events.  Worry or anxiety, however, has fear at it’s core.  And fear, played out in our minds and bodies over time has a negative impact on our health and quality of life.  Research demonstrates that it puts us at higher risk for cancer, auto-immune disorders and chronic inflammation and illness.  More importantly, it is like a vice on your life.  Over time, fear squeezes out joy and traps you in its dreary grip, making you feel like you will be in its forced service forever.

For parents of children with special needs, fear can be a daily occurrence.  You may be afraid that your child with autism, who wanders out of your watchful eye, will run into danger.  You may have a depressed child that you fear might harm him or herself when left alone.  I worried about how my child would act at school and if she would face rejection. I was anxious about taking trips on an airplane lest I not return to raise my children.  The list of potential worries in parenting are endless. And to top it off, I was afraid to stop being afraid because I thought that letting my guard down might lead to disaster.


If this sounds at all familiar, join me in living a Year with No Fear.  In Isaiah 41:10, God tells us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my mighty righteous hand. ” It is worth the risk to let go and let your guard down because God’s guard is always up! The magnificence of that will be the topic of another day.  For now, let’s just make the commitment to stand against fear.   It will be a struggle and I need accountability.  Do you?  Let’s help each other.







Raising our Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioral Challenges/ Insights for Parents Looking for Strength

Here’s a presentation I did at the Pepperdine University Lectureships in the spring of 2015 about raising children with social, emotional or behavioral challenges.  It will give you some background into how these issues affect children and parents–and how God can calm our hearts and give us hope as we cope.  I meant to leave time to discuss how churches and congregations could help– but ran out of time.  I hope someone benefits from this audio recording!

Audio Presentation

“I Can’t Do This!” : Facing Your Limitations as a Special-Needs Parent

“I can’t do this!” I cried out to my mother, choking back the tears.  She had come across the country to visit the grandkids and give support to me, a struggling mom in a new community with no friends or family nearby.  This season was the beginning of my journey raising my daughter Katie, who was showing the first signs of autism.  I also had a newborn daughter who was limiting my sleep and gobbling up any extra energy I might have used to cope with the situation.  For me, this was a season of grief, intense learning, and attempts to immerse Katie in structured play, learning activities and conversation for most hours of the day.  I was committed to doing all I could to give Katie the best chance possible for a fulfilling life.  This was admirable, but I was afraid of failure and held myself to unrealistic standards.  As I tried to be the perfect mother/therapist, I found myself engaging in self-condemnation and guilt for not having the “right” personality or temperament when Katie needed them.  For example, I bashed myself for not being playful enough when she was a pre-schooler, and not being tough enough when she was an adolescent.  Of course, there were many things I did well on behalf of my child, but I overlooked them in the quest to stamp out my weaknesses.

What I needed–and perhaps what you need– is to remember that God blesses people in spite of human weakness and insecurity, and that He provides help in areas where we need it.  You may be battling with a child who is depressed, anxious, or exhibiting behavior that you cannot control.  It is easy to feel inadequate in these situations.  It helps me to look to Biblical examples to see God’s provisions for people who felt the same. For example, Moses and Gideon both felt completely inadequate for the jobs God designed for them (see Exodus 4 and Judges 6), but God did not excuse them from their calling—instead He sent technical and moral support (Aaron and Purah) to help.  At other times, God actually decreased tangible supports (as He did in decreasing the size of Gideon’s army), but worked out His purposes in miraculous ways, showing divine strength in spite of unfavorable conditions.

Over time, I learned from these Bible characters to hand over my weaknesses to God and to ask Him for the strength and wisdom to raise my children.  He has answered this request, but He also taught me to drop my guilt and to accept my imperfections (not my sins, mind you, but my personal limitations).  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes about something similar. He tells us that God would not take away the “thorn” that plagued him, but instead told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”  Not only does God fill in the gaps of our insufficiency but His light shines more brightly because of our weaknesses.  It’s ok—God has got this!

God also reminded me in Ephesians 2:10 that He created me—and you—“to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  He is not surprised at our weaknesses and how they are highlighted in certain situations as we raise our children.  Just because the task we face is difficult does not mean that God did not ordain it for us. In fact, God has made a habit of asking his people to do things that seem impossible because it is then that his power is most evident.

I remember myself as a brand new mom of my first baby (Katie), and how the weight of responsibility hit me for the first time as I held her in my arms.  I recall praying fervently, “God, please make me a godly mother”.  Over the years, I did grow as a godly parent, and facing challenges as a special-needs parent was a primary means through which God honed my ability to parent in a godly way.  The more desperate I became as a special-needs parent, the more He taught me about what is important in His eyes.  He reminded me that He expects me and my children to “love mercy, act justly and to walk humbly” with Him (Micah 6:8).  Never has He suggested that a college education or earthly success are His priorities for my children, so I do not need to beat myself up if my kids do not live up to these standards.  Instead, He taught me that He values gentleness, kindness, peace and love as these are characteristics of Jesus that we are to represent to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20).  If not for the lessons learned as a special-needs parent, who knows how long it would have taken me to integrate these lessons into my personality and priorities?

As you face difficult situations in parenting your child with social, emotional or behavioral challenges or disabilities, remember that none of this is a surprise to God and that He has a plan and purpose for you and your child as you struggle.  Your limited ability to help your child is not a stumbling block to the purposes He holds for him or her.  I love how (in Judges 6:12) the angel of the Lord shouted out the potential He saw in Gideon although Gideon was weak in the eyes of the world.  The angel called him “mighty warrior” to Gideon’s great surprise.  God realizes the potential in us that we cannot always see. So do the best you can, but know that God can more than overcome any limitation you have as a parent. Your weaknesses can actually be wonderful tools in God’s hands when you face the challenges He gives you.


Hopeful, Trusting, Confident and Calm

“Calm, assertive energy in the human –and calm, submissive energy in the dog”– that’s what Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, strives to create in his work with dogs and their families.  I’ve recently watched a few episodes of his Family Edition show and it’s been enlightening.  Surprisingly, when Cesar is called in to “rehabilitate” a dog, a common part of his process is to train the humans in the family to relax. Dogs are masters of reading body language and other cues indicating human emotion, and they respond accordingly.   Because of a dog’s social-behavioral “pack” mentality, changes in the psychological energy of the dog owners (“pack leaders”) affect their canine friends in fascinating and almost miraculous ways. A calm and assertive human almost always effects a positive change in dog behavior. I think, in a similar way, a calm and assertive parent usually brings about positive behavior in a child.

While this might seem like a blog about becoming a calm and assertive parent (which is a good goal)—it is really about growing as a hopeful and trusting parent. Let me explain. My children are young adults now, but when my oldest “pup” was young and showing signs of autism, I responded with anxiety, tenacious research, and problem solving.  As time passed with misdiagnoses, limited local resources and other stressors, my anxiety increased. I soon learned that autism is not a puzzle easily solved.  Helping my child was too big for me to negotiate in my own strength.

Like many parents of children with social, emotional or behavioral challenges, I looked for the perfect combinations of therapy, medication and specialized programs to give me a sense of peace and hope for my child’s future.  I never completely found it there because people, systems and medicine are constantly changing and are sometimes more helpful than others.  While I longed to trust that God would provide and care for my child, His provisions were not always on the time table or to the degree that I wanted. This fueled my doubt, worry and hopelessness—and led to a more intense striving for solutions and answers. By the time I learned to turn over the burden of these issues to God, I had already worked myself into a hopelessness and exhaustion that I didn’t see coming. Without hope and confidence in a rock solid foundation, it was impossible to feel internally calm.

I didn’t realize the significance at the time, but regaining hope was a key ingredient to my ability to parent with “calm, assertive energy”, as opposed to “frantic, anxious energy.” Like many of the dog owners on Cesar’s show, I was not even fully aware of my intense internal striving.  One day I felt the overwhelming burden, however, and turned it over to God, dropping on my knees to pray for myself and my family.  I admitted to God that the problems were too big for me, and I asked Him to take them over.  Right then and there, I felt a burden lifted from my shoulders and I knew with certainty that God and I were in this together.  I was not alone– and neither are you.

I wish I could honestly say that I never took those problems back as my burdens, but I have.  However, now I more quickly identify my useless striving, and more quickly lean on God again.  If you took an honest survey from my kids, I think they would tell you that most of the time, I exhibited the external behavior of a calm, assertive mother.  I was not the yelling sort, or a complete pushover (at least not most of the time.) However, as calm as I may have looked on the outside, I was often behaving like a duck—appearing to peacefully glide upon the water while my legs were paddling crazily underneath. I know they sensed my internal state even if neither of us could explain it, and it most certainly affected our lives.  When I was actively listening to God’s directions, I was able to relax and feel so much more internal confidence and peace as a parent.  I learned that many things will not will work according to my plans and timing, but I know that God is in control and that I can trust and hope in Him to lead “my pack”.

You may find yourself in a similar place with your child.  Your problem solving style may be different, but in all cases it is critical to learn to calmly and submissively trust our Father in Heaven. The results may be nothing short of miraculous—for the peace and calm of the entire family.


Lately, a hymn has been on my mind and part of the lyrics keep replaying themselves into my soul:


“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness,

I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name,

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”


I pray that you ask for and listen to God’s calm and assertive voice so that you might learn to trust, hope, and be confident and calm as a parent. It will make all the difference.


“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3)


The Blessing of Broken: Keeping Christmas Bright When Your Child Has Social, Emotional or Behavioral Challenges

The hustle of the holiday season has arrived. While festive decorations, sweet treats and images of Santa Claus are exciting for most children, holidays can be difficult for kids who struggle with social, emotional or behavioral challenges.  One year, my five-year-old was anxious that Santa Claus– whom she identified as a stranger she had only met once at the mall—was coming into our house on Christmas night.  She couldn’t sleep until we reassured her that we would not allow him in that year.


For kids who are anxious, many things about the holidays can be uncomfortable–the details of holiday travel, altered schedules, and even attention from infrequently-seen relatives.  Kids who struggle with attention deficit or hyperactivity may feel under- or over-stimulated and act out during holiday activities. Long lines at stores or waiting to open gifts may trigger impatience. For children with shifting levels of energy and mood such as in bipolar disorder or depression, the expectations of family members may be difficult to meet as the appropriate mood may not always coincide with the timing of the holiday event.

A child’s emotional challenges stress their parents during holiday events, as well.  Moms and dads who normally accommodate their child’s differences feel conflicted as they balance their child’s needs with expectations of extended family or friends.  The pressure of others’ expectations can tempt parents to push their child past known comfort levels, triggering meltdowns or emotional crises.

Here are a few guidelines for parents that may help keep peace and joy during the season:

  • Pay attention, adjust, and educate.  Note what specifically bothers your child and adjust- even in the face of peer or family pressure. It is reasonable to urge and expect a child to push past some discomfort (we all need to do this) but if a holiday activity continually triggers major distress, you may need to modify it for the sake of mental health in your family. I know this can be hard. In my family, after many years of traveling to visit both sets of families at Christmas, we decided to slow the pace and do alternating visits.  It involved some awkward moments and uncomfortable education of family members, but was worth the effort.
  • Know that it is okay to skip, postpone, or modify a holiday tradition.  The best traditions exist to serve families by providing moments of reflection over cherished beliefs or values.  If we start to rigidly serve traditions instead, they can become burdensome and steal our joy. While it may initially be disappointing to modify beloved family traditions, you will find that new ones that “fit” your family’s needs will serve you better in the long run.  Stable kids are the best gift to parents during the holidays, and parents who learn to be flexible and realistic are blessings to their children.
  • Consider the environment.  For many kids, planning activities that are “abbreviated” and less formal makes it easier for them to emotionally and behaviorally adjust.  Anxious, depressed or irritable kids may balk at over-stimulation, so it may help to separate big events like dinner, gift-giving, and tree-trimming onto different days.  It may help to open a few gifts each day over a couple of days rather than doing it all in one sitting.  Events with long waiting times can be problematic for children with limited attention span, so cancel or plan those events to keep waiting at a minimum.
  • Maintain a semi-normal routine when possible.  Most children feel more comfortable when they can eat some familiar foods, wear preferred and comfortable clothing, and have breaks which “normalize” an abnormal day.  Post a visual schedule of upcoming activities and talk to your child ahead of time so they know what to expect during a holiday gathering.
  • Shift personal expectations about what the holidays should look like.  Many people grow up with visions of what a “perfect” Christmas should be, with the right food, decorations, and a smiling brood of children.  Even when we make modifications for our kids, families of children with mental illness learn the fault in this ideal when a happy event turns into a crisis within moments.  My family experienced a reality check one year when my daughter got into a major altercation with another child right before our Christmas celebration.  The magic of the evening was dampened, but I came to accept that “life happens” on every day of the year—even on holidays–and that it was really okay.

Finally, as you experience your own holiday blurps, know that God specializes in bringing beauty from even the worst situations in our lives.

Our holiday blunders helped me realize that the normal extravaganza of previous Christmas’s actually got in the way of celebrating Jesus’ birth because we had a tendency to be distracted by gifts, decorations, food or family traditions.

As the external festivities became more stressful, I was able to more clearly grasp the true gift of Christmas– Jesus came to earth to restore lost peace and life to people living in a broken world– including to my “broken” family.  I missed this message until I felt crushed enough to see it.  

Our difficult holidays led me to refocus on God’s best gifts– eternal life (John 3:16), love (John 15:11), joy (Ephesians 3:18-19), and peace (John 16:33).

This true meaning of Christmas is beautiful!  I have a brand new joy for the season! Keeping this perspective can keep your holidays bright through many blunders.

Finding Hidden Blessings in Special Needs Parenting

“Show Eddie the ball!”  This is a frequent exhortation around our house because Eddie, our 12-pound terrier mix, often loses his ball while chasing it around the yard. So Grace, our brainy border collie/ laborador retriever, is often tasked with helping her brother find it. She listens to our command, perks up her ears, and immediately finds the ball and nudges it with her nose into Eddie’s view so he will see it and retrieve it. Often Grace will just do this on her own without our command. She picks up her own ball first and then races back to show Eddie his. Sometimes she has to point out the ball several times before Eddie retrieves it. She will patiently show it to him again and again, until he finally finds and gets the ball. It’s a sweet sight.

This scenario13876417_10209012722367753_7486198944097850675_n reminds me of what we do as parents with our children, again and again. And, in a spiritual sense, it’s what God does for us (but I’ll get to that in a minute). 

In a physical way, we help our kids pick up or find “the ball” when they drop or misplace it.
They forget their lunch, lose their homework, fight with their siblings, and throw temper tantrums– dropping the proverbial ball over and over.  Children with neurobiological challenges such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression or other conditions may “drop the ball” more often.  They may seem sloppy, unorganized, forgetful, have poor social skills or difficult behavior.  We need to patiently point out better ways of handling problems or more efficient ways of doing things.  They may not follow our directions for a variety of reasons related to ability or will.

I know this isn’t easy. It is hard to be patient, day after day, pointing out the same thing over and over, especially when our kids seem to ignore the good advice or opportunities we present. 

It can make us want to blow– and sometimes we do.

That given, still we are called to extend grace to our kids in spite of the challenges. It’s then that we need to step back and look again for “the ball” that God is showing to us.  If we pay attention, we will see that He points us to His wisdom, blessings and rest.

Sometimes we don’t receive the blessings He gives because we are too busy running off in a direction we think is b14212563_10209266475231416_6400361242407916955_n1est. And, sometimes the blessings are hidden among the challenges in our lives.

Over the years of parenting children with special needs, some of the blessings God has shown me are that I can have peace in chaos, hope in disappointment, and even joy while waiting for situations to improve.  These things are not easily found. God has had to show them to me again and again until my eyes were trained to find them myself.

I missed out on some of the peace, hope and joy on many occasions early in my days of special- needs parenting.  I was too busy running around willy- nilly trying to find the blessings through my own means. Just this week I faced  disappointment, pain, and unfulfilled dreams.  I spent some time scanning the grass and first saw the weeds instead of  the “ball of blessings”.

But now I know that the ball is there.  In time, like Eddie, I will find it because God’s Grace will keep pointing to it again and again.

Soon we head into the season where we give thanks for our blessings.

Even if you cannot always clearly see your blessings, know they exist and keep your eye out for God’s Grace to show you.