Bloggy Moms

Friday, November 29, 2013

Choosing God During the Rough Times

This morning I woke up early. Not my plan as we have a big day ahead of us. Then to top it off Princess did not get to sleep until after 12 a.m. (Long story.) Since I was awake already I chose to check Facebook while I was getting the sleep out of my eyes. That's when I spotted it: a post from another mom of a Special Needs kid. She was feeling discouraged. Just simple things really but for us who have Special Needs kiddos and deal with so much already, things can be magnified. It can be easy to let that attitude of discouragement eat at you. She was trying hard to be positive but needed some additional encouragement. I offered up some words of encouragement. Then I ended by saying that I would be praying for her.
I literally felt compelled to come write this post instead of trying to go back to sleep. Somehow I knew that everything will be alright if I don't get more sleep but that I needed to share how I look for God in the rough times. Some of you might know how it is when it comes to writing, you've got to get it out while the thoughts are swirling otherwise you will forget them or lose the opportunity.
I often wonder where the heck I come up with some of my thoughts because to me they sound like they are coming from a much wiser, older woman. Then I look back at my life and think "Yeah well I have lived quite a few lives in my short time here on earth." With that being said I do feel qualified to impart some wisdom.
One of the things that I struggled with early on when we first got the diagnosis for Princess was "Why me?" I have already had more than my fair share of pain and suffering. I was a good kid. I never did anything to really deserve a less than perfect child. Then God reminded me (and continues to remind me) "Why not you? I chose this special child for you to raise because I knew that you and your husband would be the perfect parents because of the trials and adversities you have faced." I have learned to embrace my calling. I consider it an honor to have been entrusted with this very special child.
The other day I was at a meeting with other moms of kids with special needs at my church. It was a small group so we went around and told a little bit about ourselves and our child. I mentioned some of the struggles that we had had recently with Princess. In response to this, one of the other moms said, " I bet you cry yourself to sleep at night." I wasn't sure how to reply to that because my answer would have taken time away from other peoples' sharing. At the time, I just gave a short answer and moved on.
 As I reflect on the Facebook post from earlier today and the comment from the lady at the meeting, I can't help but see how the two are related.
To me it all boils down to my attitude. I can choose to stay in bed and cry "Woe is me!" I can choose to compare my child to other children and become bitter. I can choose to continue to ask "Why me?". Or I can choose to look for God's blessings in the midst of our struggles. I choose the latter.
How do I do that? Well, it ain't easy. It is something I work very hard at. Every. Single. Day.
I look for the hand of God and the face of God everywhere. You know what? Because I choose that, I often find it win places where others might miss it.
I see God's hand when I am looking for the matching sock while helping Princess get ready for school. God knows that we could have a meltdown on our hands if just the right sock is not found so He helped me find it just as I was about to tell Princess that she'd have to choose another pair of socks or wear her shoes without them.
I see God's face in my sweet friends. They encourage me and do not pass judgment. They don't try to tell me how to parent my child because they know that I have to parent my child differently than they do. They do simple things like make my child a PBJ instead of insisting that she eat what everyone else is eating. They know that because of her sensory issues and anxiety, she might not be willing to try something other than her old standby. They check in on me and let me know that they are praying for me just when I need to hear their voice.
I see the hand of God in the details of providing just the right people at just the right time. The care and compassion that we have experienced from professionals on some of Princess's roughest days just blows me away. Sure we have seen some people who were not very kind but those people are few and far between. When we encounter them, I try to have the mindset of "What would Jesus do?". Sometimes it is to stand up to them or to let their superiors know but other times it to just let their words and actions fall like water off of a duck.
It's interesting because this summer we had a less than stellar experience with one of our community helpers that really bugged me. This individual was able to see our daughter and our family several more times. He started to see and understand my daughter's issues were through no fault of her parenting. Kind of funny how God worked that one out.
Right as I am typing this it is beginning to rain. I had planned to go to an outdoor mall today with my daughter and her BFF. I can look and be discouraged or I can be encouraged that that means that we are going to have a low key day. This is probably what Princess needs after a busy day like yesterday. We can still have fun today. It will just be different.
I see the face of God in my dear husband daily. He is the perfect mate to travel this road with. He is so gentle and understanding. I am the one who gets caught up in the moment. He brings me back down and helps me to focus on the little things. I am so blessed that he chooses to walk this path right beside me.
Trust me. My life has many ups and downs. I can choose to let those ups and downs waiver my faith in God or I can choose to look for His handiwork on a daily basis.
What are you going to choose?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reflections on Thanksgiving Thoughts From a Mom of a Special Needs Kid

I know that many of you have seen or read about people on Facebook posting one thing a day that they are thankful for for the past month or so. Heck maybe even some of you reading this may be thinking of your thankful thought for today or tomorrow. I did not participate in this new ritual this year. I'm not sure exactly why. I do know one of the reasons was that I was afraid I might miss a day. So instead I'd like to tell you about a few things/ people that I am blessed by.

First of all I must thank God for all of the blessings in my life. While that might sound like some Christian lingo. Like you expect from me. Let me explain. Even though this past year, even the past five months have been incredibly difficult for my family, we know that God has been with us every step of the way. He brought a new friend into my life who has been an invaluable resource and encouragement to me. He gave us a new educational advocate. We liked the former one fine but she was just too expensive. Our new advocate is affordable, close by and best of all she has a child like my daughter. She has walked many miles in my shoes. She is able to help my husband and I navigate the rough waters of the school system. As I have mentioned previously, our church has an incredible disabilities ministry. It is through this ministry and the staff and volunteers who run it, that my daughter has been able to find a place where she feels loved and accepted on Sunday mornings. I am eternally grateful to God for this.

Princess has been to no less than six elementary schools in her short education, four in just the past year alone. We have lived in the same house since her birth. We recently were told that she would be at the same school for the remainder of the school year. When I heard that I wanted to shout "Hallelujah!" from the rooftops and mountain tops. This is something to be grateful for indeed.

The school that Princess is currently attending serves kids like her who need more structure with a loving staff. They work on academics and behavior goals with lots of positive reinforcements. At first Princess hated this new school, but in the last few weeks she seems to be complaining less. I'll take that as a sign that she is adjusting. I am grateful for this new school and the staff who work there.

I am thankful for medical professionals who take the time to show my family and I love and patience. There was one time this summer when things were not so nice but the nurses showed Princess grace when she did not deserve it. They understood that her illness was making her make choices that were not pleasant. They could have easily given in and been harsh but instead they took the high road. There was one nurse in particular who shared with Princess that she had a son about her age. She loved on her as if my daughter was her own. We have often wondered if we would ever get a chance to thank her in person. Well you know what? God knew that was a desire of our heart so recently he gave us the chance to do just that.

Princess was at the medical facility where this nurse works getting a cut looked at. After the doctor fixed it up, we headed out to our car. Who was out in front of the building? Why none other than our angel of mercy! Our family got to thank her in person. We were able to tell her how much her kindness meant to us. As she was walking away to get back to work, Princess ran up to her and asked to give her a hug. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Even though Princess is a friendly outgoing child, she struggles with maintaining friendships. Those few friends that she does have mean the world to her. I think that they mean more to her than the average child. The friends she does have have to be able to forgive her and show lots of patience. Princess has three friends who are a blessing to her and in turn a blessing to us. One is a friend she doesn't see much but who is very dear nonetheless. Another is a boy that she met at church. They enjoy just hanging out whenever they are able to. The third friend is my best friend's daughter. I am grateful as I see this friendship blossom. They are so good for each other. This friend remembers the not so good times but chooses to focus on the good times that the two friends share. I am told that this friend and her mother pray for our family every morning on the way to school. We are blessed indeed!

I must conclude this list by mentioning my husband, AKA Princess's dad. He has had to shift his thinking about what a dad should teach his daughter. He has has to learn a whole set of acronyms and jargon. He has attended many IEPs. He is the one who is able to redirect Princess when she gets agitated. He loves Princess the way a child should be loved, unconditionally. He did not sign up for being a parent of a child with special needs but he is embracing it. He is choosing to let it make him a better man.  Those of you who do not have a child with special needs may not be aware of this but many dads of these children throw in the towel or are in denial about their child. Princess's dad is not one of these men. For this Princess and I are grateful.

At the end of the day I can choose to focus on the negative, the hardships we have experienced this past year or I can look for God's blessings. I choose to actively seek His blessings on my family's life.

May all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving. Keep looking for God's blessings in your life no matter how big or small.