Thursday, September 14, 2017

Back to School Reflections (from a mom of children with special needs)

"My grace is sufficient for you..." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

When the Scale is Tipped

It's been just over one week since the yellow bus stopped in front of our house and picked up our children for another school year.

Back to school.  
Moms experience a lot of different emotions in regards to those three words.  Moms of children with special needs experience even a wider range of emotions.  Some words that came to my mind as our five children started school were:  respite, refresh, rest, but also guilt, trepidation, and WORRY.

I worry about our son feeling that he belongs.  I worry about his (sometimes) challenging behaviour.  I worry if he will have another accident at  school (he still wears pull ups).  I think about his IEP that we need to make.  I pray for extra patience for his teachers.

But then I see God's grace.  His presence sends a spirt of calmness over me.

I read encouraging notes from his EA.  I see beauty and compassion spilling out of his EA.  I see teachers and a school that make modifications and welcome him into their community.  He gets invited to birthday parties.  His siblings help him with his back pack and other school things.  His teacher sends pictures of him reading with his reading buddy.

And that's when the scale is tipped.
God's grace and peace far outweighs any worry or fear.

Monday, December 19, 2016

One Thousand Gifts (continued)

"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that hey may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ" (Colossians 2:2).

(photo taken in Caledonia, Ontario)

God's Word is filled with words of hope and encouragement.  It is filled with His faithful promises.  His words are always there for us to nourish our soul.  God also desires us to be united in love, encouraging others with our words and deeds.  

Encouragement sometimes comes in the least expected places, but also at the most needed times.  This is exactly what happened to me very recently.

The words from a young bride in her thank-you card brought tears to my eyes.  (I truly am able to say that I have never cried from a wedding thank-you card before)!!

It was an extraordinarily busy time.  I was feeling extraordinarily tired and rather discouraged.  God used the words from this beautiful, young, godly woman to fill my heart with hope and encouragement.  We often think that it is the elderly who give wisdom/advice/encouragement to those who are younger, but God uses everyone of all ages to encourage others and to speak words of hope and love.

We need to be quick to give it, open to receive it, and be blessed by it!  I was so blessed by her words, and I hope and pray that I too am able to be a blessing to others, especially during this Christmas season of joy and hope!

Continuing to give thanks...
-God's words of hope and encouragement
-encouraging words from others
-encouraging words in a wedding thank-you card
-this Christmas season of hope

-encouraging words of hope and spiritual nourishment from this devotional for parents of children with special needs
-when others are able to share their stories of hope with others

-encouraging words and get well wishes from these cards for Seber after his surgery (from his classmates and Nicole's friend)

-her heart for others and her desire to encourage others with her Christmas gifts 

-Christmas lunch party with the Down syndrome association
-being part of a supportive community with others who share a love for those with Down syndrome

-gentle, loving nurses and doctors

-our first Christmas as a family of seven!

-that our long hike to our sledding hill was worth the effort!

-siblings enjoying the hills together

-how my teenager's silly antics make me smile

-how his face lights up when he gets to go in the truck
-how he loves to spend time with his children!

Monday, November 7, 2016

One Thousand Gifts (continued)

 "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD you God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

We are all on a journey. 
On this journey, there are so many unknowns.
This journey that we have been on has been filled with wonder, excitement, many learning opportunities, blessings, challenges, joys, but also doubts. 

It is in those times of doubts, I need to remind myself to keep trusting in the One who is leading me. 

I am very thankful for the many learning opportunities that I have experienced throughout this journey that I am on.  I am constantly learning and trying to educate myself.  These learning opportunities come from so many different sources.  It could be from a conversation with another Mom, an encouraging article online, reading some one's blog, reading a book, meeting others, first hand experience, etc.  One of my most recent learning opportunities was at the "Life to the Full" conference in Niagara Falls with my daughter, Nicole.  
At the conference about Special Needs, we learned about ability and identity.  We were reminded that everybody belongs and that we need to move from "exclusion to tolerance to inclusion to BELONGING".  The Biblical view of identity was discussed and we were reminded how ability does not equal identity.  Dr. Erik Carter explained 10 dimensions of belonging, which included: being present, being invited, welcomed, known, accepted, supported, cared for, befriended, needed, and loved.  We were reminded that we are one in Christ and we were challenged to treat others in the same way that Christ did.  

I am so thankful for the journey that we are on.  I am thankful that I have a God that I am able to trust in and who will lead me through this journey.  I am also thankful for the many learning opportunities that I have.
Continuing to give thanks...
-our exciting journey
-a God whom I am able to trust in
-countless learning opportunities
-amazing speakers and a blessed conference
-weekend away with Nicole

-spending the weekend with my precious daughter
-her precious heart and desire to learn more about special needs

-being in awe of God's amazing creation, and His awesome power

 -the beauty and majestic falls

-our view from our room

-a beautiful lit up sky

 -a visual reminder of God's love for us and our identity in Him

 -new experiences (going down the rail car)

Monday, October 17, 2016

No Holding Back (Why our family doesn't like to use the term "disability")

No Holding Back
(Why our family doesn't like to use the term "disability")

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)"
Every day he amazes us with his abilities.
He never ceases to amaze us (and make us laugh)!
Although he has only been home for 6.5 months, he has learned SO many new things and has adapted so well.

There is no holding back for this guy!!!

He is God's masterpiece, created in His image, and we can't wait to see what God has planned for his life!

We don't like to focus on what he is unable to do, but rather what he is able to do.

Yes, he has special needs, but we wouldn't call it a disability!  He has so many abilities and is constantly proving that to us on a daily basis!  When I think of the word, "disabled", I think of something that doesn't work.  It reminds me of when our daughter disables her older brother's Ipod, (which she thinks is funny, but he doesn't), and then it doesn't work.  Our son, who has Down syndrome, does not have a disability; he just has special needs.

We hope and pray that others will recognize and embrace our son's many abilities!! 

In the short months that our son has been home, he has learned countless things (and continues to learn countless things) such as...

-writing letters (learning to write his name)

-learning tons of sign words (here he is signing the word for "friends")

-doing whatever his siblings are doing (both good and not so good sometimes!!)

-most sporting activities (including hockey, gymnastics, football, soccer, baseball, golf, skate boarding, etc.)

-learning to ride his bike with training wheels

-learning to love (or sometimes just tolerate) his pets (as he was quite terrified of animals when he first came home)!

 -being Mr. Flexible

 -loving the water; he was scared of the water, such as bath time, when he first came home, now he LOVES the water!

Seber is God's masterpiece, His handiwork.

We've all been given different gifts and talents.  It is our hope and prayer that we will be able to encourage all of our children to use these gifts and abilities to honour and give praise to the LORD.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” (ESV)

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. Thomas A. Edison