Armor Up

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In the stillness of the morning, before sun awakes, I find Him there. I stagger to my chair, coffee in hand, and pull up my soft, checkered blanket around me. This is our meeting place.

I shut out the day that is to come – with it’s changing of the sheets, daily sanitizing, picture schedules, and behavior charts – and allow God’s presence to envelop me in peace.

I can’t tackle the day on my own; in my own power. This journey of our son living with severe Autism can at times be all consuming. From sun up to sun down, our life is a whirlwind of love, pain, laughter, frustration, and perseverance. Therefore, I must daily equip myself for whatever may lie ahead.

In Ephesians 6:10-11 it says “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (NIV).

This is what I must do. In the stillness of the morning, while sitting with my checkered blanket, I must “armor up.” Satan would love nothing more than to paralyze me with worry for all that this autism journey entails. The enemy would love nothing more than to make me feel defeated, ill-equipped, depressed, or full of dread for what is to come.

Friend, I don’t know what kind of journey you are on but let me encourage you to “armor up” each day.

The Helmet of Salvation: Protect your mind dear friends. There are so many times that I leave my mind unprotected and allow my thoughts to run wild. I begin to worry about my child’s future, his aggression, and fearing for the unknown. Instead, I must remember to surrender every thought to the Lord and to remember that He is sovereign. Do not forget that Christ died for you and for your child!

Breastplate of Righteousness: Protect your heart. Satan likes to remind us of all the times we have failed as parents. Goodness, have I messed up. There is no manual for this special needs parenting gig and sometimes I fall short. When Satan beings to attack our heart, emotions, or self-worth, we often times freeze with shame. Protect your heart, friend. Remember that you are forgiven and dearly loved by God. God has entrusted your precious child to you for a reason and He gives us grace to do better each day.

Sword of the Spirit: Trust in the truth of God’s word. The enemy will tempt us to feel as though there is no hope on this journey called life. Find your meeting place with the Lord each morning. Wrap yourself in the truth of His word so that you are ready for the day ahead. When we stand firm on the truth of God’s word and we daily glean from its pages, we are able to wield it against all lies from the enemy.

Shield of Faith: Cling to hope in Christ. When the enemy attacks with insults and setbacks, it is easy to fall into the temptation of defeat. As a special needs parent, I must be sure to keep my shield up so as to protect myself from being hit with lies such as “He will never overcome,” “Your child will always be alone,” “No one understands what you are going through.” Put up your shield friend and keep faith. Do not doubt the promises of God.

Belt of Truth: Know God intimately so that you know His truth personally. Satan fights with lies. He is an accuser. He sends messages that contradict the very heart of God. When the world says that my son is an outcast or gives little hope for the future of my child, I can stand firm knowing that God’s plan for my son is to give him a “hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: Be available and ready to share the good news of Jesus Christ! The enemy wants to cloud our vision so that we are so overwhelmed in this special needs parenting life, that we forgot the very purpose for which we (and are children) have been created. We are each created to bring glory to God and to lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Armor up friends! There is no “special accommodation” or excuse for not living a life sold out to Jesus Christ, special needs parenting and all. What if this special child you have been gifted with is the very way that God intends for you to share Christ with others.

Find your meeting place with the Lord each morning. Remember that there is purpose in this life God has gifted you with. Fill up on the pages of His word. Stand on His promises and protect yourself against an active enemy. It’s time to armor up!

First Published for my partners at Joni & Friends and Irresistible Church at

https://irresistiblechurch.org/armor/

What if it's not "Just a Season"?

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Seasons come and go. They are ever changing. Although winter might drag on for what seems to be a little too long, eventually spring comes pushing through with it’s new growth and life.

For most of us, there are seasons of life that ebb and flow. For example, we try to hang on to the sweet memories of the “infant stage” when the nights with our babies are long but the snuggles so sweet. Although the early years can be hard, we are encouraged to cherish them knowing that this season of life will pass all too quickly.

There are seasons of life people look forward to with expectation – whether it be the young family season, empty nest or retirement season, we know that life is ever changing.

But what if it’s not “just a season”? What if the predictability of life’s ebb and flow for most people looks nothing like the life you’ve been handed?

This is where we find ourselves. Maybe some of you do too? As the parent of a special needs child, maybe you are coming to terms with the fact that there may never be a “diaper season,” “feeding tube season,” “baby toy season,” or “empty nest” season. This may always be our normal. No seasons, just life.

We pray for the best and make plans for the forever. We dream up house plans we would have never thought of before – the one with the built in apartment for “someday if he’s independent enough” or the protective padded walls “because he’s getting bigger and stronger.”

We say goodbye to seasons and learn to embrace a unique ebb and flow all our own. Growth and milestones are celebrated as they come. We love fiercely, cry often, and learn to maneuver an entirely different world; a world with no seasons.

So what if it’s not “just a season?”

Look for the God Moments: Our God is a God who pursues the hearts of His people. He is never absent from our every-day-less-than-glamorous, messy lives. If you have gotten to the place that God feels far removed, it is not because He’s not there, but because you have taken your eyes off of the Savior. It is easy to get so caught up in a world with no seasons, that we forget to look for the ways God is at work in our everyday lives. Look for the God moments. Look for the many little ways He reveals His presence in the midst of life. His whispers of love are in the hand held, eye contact made with your child, the song that filled your heart, and in the friend He was sure to put in your path today. In the midst of the never-changing seasons, God wants to meet us in the middle of it all. Look for the God moments to spur you on and lift you up.

Trust God’s Sovereignty: Do you trust in the sovereignty of God? I hope that you do. If you find yourself in a world with no seasons, this fundamental question is of utmost importance. Hold on to the knowledge that God does not make mistakes. Your child’s disability comes as no surprise to Him. Furthermore, God handpicked you to be the parent of your special needs child. This means that however ill-equipped you feel to live in a world with no seasons, God knew you were up for the task. Although at times we feel like cowering in the circumstances of life that come crashing down around us, we must pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. Walk in a boldness knowing that if God has called you to this way of life, He will see you through it.

Find Gratitude: Although the days are hard and the nights are long, I have found a place of gratitude to rest my weary soul – so that when I breathe in the grace that God has so delicately covered the fragments that are our life, I can see the work of His masterful plan and find peace in trusting Him through the process. You see, if we didn’t know the pain of falling apart, we would never know the joy of being held together by the Lord. If we didn’t know the desperate heart cries of a parent on behalf of their child, we would never know the victory found in trusting God’s sovereign plan. If we didn’t know what it’s like to earnestly pray for healing, we would be less likely to notice even the smallest of ways that God is moving and the milestones or small victories made. Be thankful for the lessons discovered in having to depend on Jesus as your only source of strength, for some have never discovered the joy that can be found in doing this.

If you find yourself in a world with no seasons, take heart. God is working in the midst of it all. When we begin to look at our season-less world as a gift, the heaviness in our hearts begins to dissipate. Do you trust Him enough to embrace a life that is so unique, so dependent upon Him, so broken and yet so beautiful, that if lived in obedience to Him…it just might point others to Jesus? And if so, dear friend, wouldn’t it be worth it all?

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

First written for my partners at Joni and Friends and Irresistible Church

https://irresistiblechurch.org/just-season/

To the Warrior Parents

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You get tired of the fight, don’t you? The constant that is our lives. For all the articles written about how special needs parents should make time and care for themselves, you’d think the world would realize that these are luxuries we special needs parents often cannot afford. We are set to the tumultuous beat of the world’s drum that dictates a never-ending battle for our children. And if we skip a beat, it feels as if the system is poised so that everything you’ve worked so hard to put in place for your child comes tumbling down; then we must start over again. Fighting. Pushing. Trying. Praying. It is not a fight for the “extra” in life, for privilege or preference. On the contrary, we are in a fight for our child’s basic needs: equal education, the ability to communicate, medical equipment, health coverage, to become functioning members of society, and on and on the list goes.

To the warrior parents who have children with special needs… Don’t allow the fight to consume you. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The fight can be exhausting can’t it? The battle of the mind is as real as the physical battles we special needs parents face day to day. Discouragement sets in. We begin to wonder if anyone else cares about these giants we daily face on behalf of our children, who are oftentimes unable to fight for themselves. In the midst of it all, dear parents, do not forget that God sees you and that “his compassions never fail.” Great is His faithfulness to never leave us. When we find ourselves overwhelmed from the fight, we must fix our eye on Jesus.

To the warrior parents who have children with special needs… Don’t lose your fight. There is a careful balance we must find between ensuring our child is given every opportunity to reach their greatest potential (whatever level that may be), and just being so battle weary that we allow the fight to overtake us. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring are a reward from him.” Parents, do not forget that our children are a reward from God, entrusted to us. In our weakest, most exasperated moments, we must remember this and continue to persevere in making a way for them. I know how easy it is to become worn. Don’t give up. Fill out the paperwork for the one hundredth time, reapply for services again, meet with the teacher, ask the questions, and speak up for the child who has no voice. Our children are worth it; they are our greatest treasures.

To the warrior parents who have children with special needs… Don’t lose your hope. As a parent of a child who has special needs, we must have a double dose of hope; hope enough for ourselves and hope enough for our children. In a world where “awareness” is lacking in action and our children may seem to be falling through the cracks, a hope big enough to sustain can only be found in Jesus Christ. Psalm 121 says, “I lift my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Parents, lift your weary heads and set your sights on Jesus. He is where our strength comes from as we daily fight to make a place for our children. He is the maker of heaven and earth and is fully able to see us through – to give us hope for ourselves, hope for our children, and hope for the future. Even more, he loves us and our children with a love far greater than we could ever comprehend. We can trust Him.

First posted by my partners at Joni and Friends and Irresistible Church

http://irresistiblechurch.org/warrior-parents/

 

When we are Broken and Poured Out

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I had to restrain my child today. This is the part of severe autism that no one likes to talk about. As well as he is doing and as much as he has overcome, everyone has a bad day. This was his.

He had stubbed his toe on the corner of the wall hard enough that it bent back the nail inside his sock. It must have been very painful. How frustrating it must have been to have been hurt and not be able to tell anyone about it. How terribly painful it must have been when I was asking him to put his shoe on so we could go to school. How was I supposed to know his nail was bent back inside his sock? And he couldn’t tell me. Not with words anyway.

Do you know what it feels like to have to move in such a way to keep your child from hurting themselves or others? Can you possibly imagine what it’s like to have to set up a barrier of mats between yourself and your child so as to protect yourself (and him) until he is able to harness his rage?

I can tell you, in that moment, all hope seems to be sucked right out of you. As the parent of a special needs child, you are left feeling drained, defeated, and depleted as a darkness sets in like no other. All the good, everything your child is working so hard to overcome, all the strengths, all the victories and accomplishments seem to fade in the gravity of the mere sixty seconds of rage that feels like an eternity.

I was finally able to figure out why he was so upset. Once he calmed, I helped him with his toe nail and we were able to get his sock and shoe on. He pulled me in and gave me a big hug and kiss as if to say “Thank you, Mom. That’s exactly what I was trying to show you but didn’t know how. I’m so sorry.” But by the time we got in the car and he walked into the school building with his little happy-go-lucky, step-hop that he does, I was worn out.

Just that morning I had spent time alone with the Lord. I had asked him to fill me up! And now I already felt like any “filling” that had been done had been spilled out. I was done with my day. And it was only 8:30 in the morning.

How quickly we allow our circumstances to dictate our perception of reality and steal our joy.

The Lord gently reminded me of the verse I had studied earlier that morning. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him,” –John 7:37-38.

Whether you’re a special needs parent or not, there’s such a good reminder in these verses.

“Come to me and drink” – God never forces Himself on us. In the midst of life’s chaos, we must seek Him to fill us and quench our thirst. The world will throw those things at us which are sure to leave us feeling parched and worn. All of the “positive thinking” can fill us with a temporary and counterfeit hope, but it is a weak alternative to the living water God offers to sustain us with.

“Whoever believes in me” – Is your trust in Jesus Christ? Friends, our joy and hope will never be found in our circumstance. When our focus is taken off of the Lord, when our lives reflect that we are functioning in our own strength, when we have allowed ourselves to settle into a faltering faith, we will surely be overcome.

“Streams of living water will flow from within him.” – Water is powerful. Get enough water with a large enough current, and a river can overcome barriers with little effort. Do not forget that the river of the Spirit of God can overcome all obstacles. When we depend on the Lord for our strength, the matters of this world pale in comparison. Keep your eyes fixed on the source of the river of life within you.

My son’s occasional aggression is heartbreaking. We all have real, very sharp cutting struggles in our lives. God does not ask us to brush off our battles. He does, however, ask us to come to Him. Our hurts are His hurts. He longs to fill us up and sustain us with His joy, grace, and peace that surpasses all understanding. When the waves of life crash around you, keep your eyes fixed on the source of living water. He will get us through.

First Published for my partners at Joni & Friends and Irresistible Church

https://irresistiblechurch.org/broken-poured/

When They Say, "I Don't Know How You Do It."

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“I just don’t know how you do it.”

I get this a lot. It is usually accompanied by a very sympathetic shake of the head with wrinkled brow. Or “I couldn’t do what you do.” Insert here an overwhelmed and far off look.

These things are frequently shared with me by friends and family who know our story and who have a front row seat to our autism journey. But before you offer up these familiar phrases, here are three things you should know…

1. I can’t do this on my own. We parents of high needs children don’t have some sort of hidden superhero cape. There is no extra dose of strength or stamina that the Lord has measured out to us. I have to daily depend on the Lord and ask for His strength.

There are times when I become so completely overwhelmed as a special needs parent. I have had my own meltdowns and breaking points. There are times when my heart feels so completely broken for the struggles of our child that I just cry and feel helpless…and that’s when I usually realize I’ve been doing life on my own, in my own strength. I’ve been forgetting to give each day, thought, and moment to God. Once I remember that God is in control and completely sovereign and that He has a perfect plan and purpose for my life and the life of my child, I can operate out of a much more confident and peace-filled place. It doesn’t mean life becomes easier, but it does mean that I don’t have to face struggles alone. So, the next time you see me rocking along on this journey of having a child with severe autism and you think, I just don’t know how you do it…I don’t. I don’t do it. It’s a me and Jesus thing and without Him, I’m a mess. Thankfully, we were never meant to shoulder the weight of this world on our own. 

2. Others make all the difference. Parenting a child with autism is never a one-person job. I am not equipped to meet my autistic child’s every need. I am, however, equipped to do my very best to diligently seek out those who can help me meet his needs in the best way possible.

Ever since our son was two years old and received his diagnosis, he has had a team, also known to us as “Ezra’s entourage” if you will. There have been therapists and educators all along the way who have partnered with us in helping our son to reach his full potential. When educators crossed our path who did not truly believe in our son, he regressed and it was heartbreaking. When educators crossed our path who believed in him and pushed him to do more, he rose to the occasion every time. There have been therapists in our home for years who have shown Ezra love and care. These people helped us to not feel so alone. Ezra has a team built around him who are there to challenge him and cheer him on. When educators, therapists, and the family work together, it’s a beautiful thing.

There have also been family members and friends who have come alongside of us on this autism journey. A simple meal brought, someone to help you with groceries, or just a text to check in can brighten a special needs parent’s day. For those who have poured themselves out to support and love our family, you have made all the difference.

3. You can and would do what I do. Many times people say, “I couldn’t do what you do.” But the truth is, yes, you would. There is no manual for this special needs parenting life. I didn’t go to college for this, wasn’t prepped or prepared for this. But every day the sun rises and we make sure to the best of our ability that we do the very best we can. We love and care, we fight for our child’s rights, we push him to do his best, we surround him with those who believe in him, and we pray. We pray big, God sized prayers. You just never know what you are capable of doing until it’s the very thing you are given to do.

We don’t operate out of some sort of special needs expertise, but rather out of a place of unconditional love. We depend heavily on the Lord to see us through and others to encourage and support us along the way. It is because of these things that we are able to walk this autism journey. We are not alone.

“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 righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10

First published for my partners at Joni &Friends and Irresistible Church at

https://irresistiblechurch.org/say-dont-know/

When it All Goes Wrong

I know your heart, dear parent of a special needs child. I know how it feels when it all goes wrong. I understand those moments that make you hit your knees to plead with the Lord on behalf of your child. I know the cry of the parent who feels they have tried it all and yet frantically searches for anything that might provide a new breakthrough.

I’ve been there when it all goes wrong. When this year’s obstacle was last year’s victory.  When one step forward seems to make everything else take three steps back. You find yourself scrambling to hold it together. We want to fix it, try this, and try that. We collect our tired bodies and heave ourselves into bed just to try it all over again tomorrow—cleaning up the brokenness when it all goes wrong.

Dear parent of a special needs child, we can find ourselves on a slippery slope, you and I. Dark moments can lead to discouragement and despair. There are two things we must establish in our hearts and minds early so that when it all goes wrong, we stay strong.

1 Flaws today do not determine failure in the future.

As my son struggled to the ground in an aggressive meltdown, my heart sank. In that moment, I was consumed with worry for his future. My head began to spin with all the what ifs. We often believe the lie that our child’s rough moment equals a rough day, that his rough day means he had a rough week, and one rough week ruins our entire month. We fret about the future as we evaluate the flaws. When it all goes wrong, one moment turns into an eternity. When it all goes wrong, we must pick ourselves up and remember that this was just one moment. We must press on. We must spur our children on and help them overcome. We must remind ourselves that God holds the future of our children in His sovereign hands, and we need to trust Him with that. Flaws today do not determine failure in the future, instead they cause us to readjust and trust.

“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 righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

2.God’s got a bigger plan than you.

When everything goes wrong, it’s easy to try and grasp at ways to get a handle on things; to control them. It seems reasonable that if I just try hard enough, challenge my child to overcome, search for all the best “ways,” that we should end up as one of those success stories you hear about on the news. But what if God is writing our stories differently than what we expected? What if His blessings lie in the burdens? What if the story He has planned for you looks much more like unconditional love than any success story on the news? We must be willing to accept His perfect plan, even when everything seems to be going wrong. We must be willing to trust God with the pages of our lives. Even in our weakest moments, God is not taken by surprise nor is His sovereign plan shaken.

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”  Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

I know your heart dear parent, do not be discouraged. Even when it all goes wrong and everything seems to be falling to pieces, the Lord is holding everything in place. He is the one in control of the future, and His plan is bigger than ours. And because I know your heart, I know you probably need that reminder as much as I do.

First Published for my partners at Joni & Friends and Irresistible Church  http://irresistiblechurch.org/goes-wrong/

Some days are just meant for play. No cleaning, no working, no demands. Just breathe deep. Breathe in the closeness. Savior the small things. After it all goes wrong, playing trains for a day is exactly where we need to be. 

Some days are just meant for play. No cleaning, no working, no demands. Just breathe deep. Breathe in the closeness. Savior the small things. After it all goes wrong, playing trains for a day is exactly where we need to be. 

From One Special Needs Parent To Another: Don't Give Up

Dear Parent,

I know how easy it is to feel like you are all alone in this, but you’re not. While your child’s special needs may be different from mine, we are on a very similar journey. I want to encourage you with three words. Simple though they may be, these three words are so important for the task the Lord has given to us. The Lord has entrusted you and I with the life of a child who has special needs. So, no matter how ill-equipped you may feel, no matter the severity of the disability, no matter how weary you have become, let these three words spur you on as you care for your child. From one special needs parent to another: Don’t Give Up.

I know your weariness. I know how you sleep with one eye open and one ear listening throughout the night, just in case. I know how you wake in the wee hours of the morning to change soiled bedsheets and to wash your precious child. I know that often times coffee and a prayer is what keeps you going all day. Don’t Give Up.

I know your discouragement. I know that no matter how many times you give yourself a pep talk, you will find yourself comparing your child’s development to other children their age. I know that for every milestone achieved, it seems there are a million more standing in the wings. Don’t Give Up.

I know your fears. I know you fear for the future of your child; wondering what level of independence they will have, their wellbeing, and what will happen to them when you are no longer around to make a way for them. I know you fear for your child’s education and whether the school budget or politics will limit their chance at having every opportunity for personal growth and success. Don’t Give Up.

I know your joys. I know that overwhelming sense of excitement when you watch your child achieve something for the first time. These are moments of pure joy that others might find hard to understand like when you feel as though you have just conquered the world because your child made eye contact with you for the first time. I know how one touch from your child can make all the days of struggle melt away in an instant. I know that little things are not so little in this life of ours. I know that those moments and milestones that bring us such joy are almost puzzling to the rest of the world. Don’t Give Up.

I know sometimes you might feel like giving up. As you fight and you push and you try your hardest to make a way for your child in this world, sometimes you become weary. Sometimes it seems like an uphill battle. Don’t Give Up. No matter how battle-weary you become, you must hold tight to this task the Lord has entrusted to you. Because no matter how ill-equipped you may feel at times, the Lord specifically chose and gifted you with this special child.

Let us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue making a way for our children. Giving up should never be an option. Continue praying over your child, the Lord hears you. Continue those late nights and early mornings, the Lord is with you. Continue those therapy sessions and treatments, the Lord will provide. But most importantly, protect this gift that the Lord has entrusted to you and Don’t Give Up.

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”

First posted at www.IrresistibleChurch.org 

My Back to School Prayer for My Special Needs Child

My Heavenly Father,

I lift up my precious baby boy to you. As much as I love him, I know that you love Ezra with a love far greater than I could ever comprehend. He is your child. I ask that you pour out your blessings upon him as he begins another school year.

Lord, I lift up Ezra’s teacher to you. I ask that you would grace her with patience, understanding, and compassion in extra measure. I pray that when the hard days come, because they will, that you would refresh her spirit and rekindle the passion she must have to work with such a special group of children. I ask that you would give her the energy and courage necessary to not allow my child to settle but to push him and to help him grow and learn. Father, more than anything else, I pray that his teacher would fall in love with him just as we have. May there be opportunities for them to share a smile and a snuggle. I pray she would look upon my child with unconditional love. I ask that you would purpose it in her heart to be one of Ezra’s greatest advocates. And Lord, I thank you for her. I thank you for her love of special children like mine.

I lift up Ezra’s bus drivers, teacher’s aides, therapists, and principals to you, Lord. Again, I pray that they would fall in love with his contagious smile and sweet heart. I pray that he would not be looked at as an unfortunate statistic but as an amazing individual with incredible potential. I ask that as a whole, this group of staff would not assume that “He can’t”, but rather “He might if we try. If we push him. If we believe in him.” Please put a burden on their heart to connect with Ezra and to see what an awesome little man he is. Let their hands be your hands, their hearts be your heart, their words be your words, and let your mercy flow through all those who will come in contact with Ezra this year.

And finally, I lift up my sweet Ezra to you. I pray that his classroom would be a place of comfort, security, excitement, and learning. I ask that you would calm his spirit and give him the self-control to be able to grow and learn. May the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, patience, gentles, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, and self-control dwell within him (Galatians 5:20-25). May he be blessed with the strength to overcome challenges.  It is my desire, Lord, that he would feel accepted and loved for exactly who he is and that he would be offered every opportunity to achieve. I pray that he would be able to make a friend this year- a true connection to a fellow classmate. May his frustrations in not being able to communicate melt away this year as he develops the skills necessary to express himself. And most importantly, I ask you Lord for your provision and protection of him. I pray that he will be able to control his impulses to flee and I pray for a watchful eye from all of the school faculty. Father, use Ezra’s struggle to build perseverance, develop character, and also to bring hope to all whose path he crosses.

 I am placing my hope and my trust in You, Lord, for a year of great milestones. For I know that nothing is too hard or impossible for you! As hard as it is to “let go” and watch my little baby go off to school, I thank you Father, that he is not alone. I thank you that you go with him each and every day. I entrust him to your care.

Amen

Hanging On and Letting Go

Half a year ago my tiny little boy, who (in my mind) was far too small to grace the steps of a yellow school bus, let alone the doors of an Elementary School, began his public school carrier. He had just turned three years old. Three!

You see, because he has this diagnosis of Autism, he is able to begin school early in hopes of getting him the structure, therapy, and help he needs early on so that later he might be able to integrate into a regular classroom setting. It makes sense… but it was terrifying.

I have quickly learned that by being a Special Needs Parent, there is a very peculiar balance of Hanging On and Letting Go.

I believe every parent wrestles with this to some extent, even with neurotypical children who have no disability. I am simply saying that (to me) there is something about having a special needs child that makes them seem more vulnerable and from this vulnerability comes an overwhelming desire to protect.

Let me explain with just a few examples:

- Ezra requires a lot of hand-over-hand and self-help. (Hanging on)

- He is very impulsive and requires constant supervision. (Hanging on)

- We do not know what the future holds for Ezra but we know that there is a possibility that he may be dependent for a very long time, or maybe forever. (Hanging on)

- We know he needs therapy and we search for the one that “seems right” and have to entrust him to the “experts” to help him as much as possible. (Letting go)

-Realizing that although he has many disabilities or delays, I cannot wrap him up in bubble wrap and keep him safely by my side. I must push him to try, push him when he fails, and push him to get back up and do it all over again. (Letting go)

-I am terrified to leave my mostly non-verbal child whose number one impulse is to flee, with anyone other than us, his parents.  However, there are times that I have to go somewhere or do something and I must trust another to help care for my little man. (Letting go)

This odd balance of Hanging On and Letting Go goes on and on. My heart tells me to protect and to shelter him but I know that I must push, teach, and let him experience the freedom of being a kid – as much as he possibly can.

I have realized that this crazy notion of Hanging On and Letting Go will probably forever be a part of our family’s life. But do you know what else I have realized? The Lord has gently reminded me that as much as I struggle with which things to “Hang On" to and “Let Go" of, the whole time He holds my baby in the palm of His hands.

Isaiah 41:10 says “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 righteous right hand.”

The Lord will uphold Ezra with His righteous right hand! I do not need to fear. I do not need to be dismayed. What better hands to entrust my child to, but than to the Lord’s?

When I remind myself of this, all of a sudden, this Hanging On and Letting Go tug of war that plays out in my heart is eased as I am reminded that He Is God. He is in Control. He is holding Ezra by His righteous right hand as my little one journeys to school, to therapy, and wherever else his little life may lead.

I continue to pray for wisdom and discernment when it comes to making life decisions for Ezra. I still do a lot of Hanging On (I mean really, he is only three years old!) but I am learning that Letting Go may be more an issue of the heart. Maybe I need to “Let go” of some of my fears, remembering that the Lord promises to offer strength and help. The Lord NEVER "Lets go", so that I can. He holds Ezra in the palm of His hands. Praise the Lord!

Ezra: Out of school and enjoying some summer fun!

Ezra: Out of school and enjoying some summer fun!