And gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hearing The Good News From The "Least" Among Us

I have a wonderful Christmas story to share this year.

A cognitively impaired young man wanted to be in a children's play at a local church. The organizers and the other children in the play didn't want to include him because he was a little too old and they "knew he would mess up."

The annual Christmas pageant was the church's big event of the year, and the church had become known in the area for their portrayal of the Nativity story. So it was with great hesitation that they let this young man participate. They decided to make him the Innkeeper so he would only have to stand in one place and say one line: "There is no room at the Inn."

The night of the play came, and the church's auditorium was filled. The moment came when Mary and Joseph knocked on the door of the Inn. The young man with special needs answered the door as he had been instructed, stood in the spot as he had been told, and recited his line. "There is no room at the Inn," he said boldly and clearly.

Mary and Joseph turned to walk away. The young man saw that Mary was weeping on Joseph's shoulder. He jumped out of his spot and ran to them.

"Wait! You can have my room," he said.

Some in the play and in the audience thought the play had been ruined that night. But others knew better.

May the peace of our Lord be with you this day. Love, Theresa

Friday, December 12, 2008

Inviting John The Baptist To Christmas This Year

It is the Season of Advent for those of us in the Christian Church. The word 'advent' is Latin for 'a coming or arrival'. Advent in the Church is a season of preparation and rejoicing -- we are waiting for the arrival of the Christ Child on Christmas Day.

I cannot think about Christmas this year without thinking about John the Baptist. He is one of the people we most closely associate with Advent, but not with Christmas. Though he is mentioned in all four Gospels in the Bible, it is his place in the Gospel of Mark which is of particular interest to me this day.

In Mark there is no Christmas story. There are no shepherds, no star in the east, no wise men, no manger. Instead, there is a wild man named John who eats Locusts, dresses in animal skins, and lives in the desert (a place of great significance throughout the Old and New Testaments).

The cry of John the Baptist is one of repentance, which means change. He challenges us, warns us, to awaken our most contrite and vulnerable parts. He points the way toward healing and wholeness, toward the world of the heart.

Our children, like John the Baptist, are beautiful reminders that Christmas is not all light and fluff. Simply by being, they crack a hole in the veneer of the glitzy, happy-only holiday that has become Christmas. They remind us that it is a Season of repentance and change, of deepening our spiritual lives, of putting love front and central in our lives. And they remind us that all of our days should begin and end with John’s cry in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.

"As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth." Luke 3:4-5

PRAYER: Lord, we know that You are our hope for peace on earth, and for peace in the heart. We thank You for being newly born into our world again this Christmas. Help us to prepare a way for You each day of our lives. Amen.

Always, Theresa

May Christ be newborn in your heart this Christmas

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Extending Mercy To Those Who Trespass Against Us

Humans are meant to react to hurt by wanting to do something about it. When our hand gets burned by a flame, we quickly pull it away to safety. When we break a bone, we keep the injury still. When we have a laceration we clean and bandage it. Emotional wounds, however, can present more of a problem.

When my child is insulted, I feel angry. When someone excludes him I feel helpless and sad. When someone I trust lies, I feel betrayed. I am tempted to do something about it. I want to avenge the wrong. I want to correct the injustice and make sure it does not happen to someone else.

But that is not necessarily the course God wants me to take, and it is not necessarily the path by which healing will be brought forth.

God knows and understands my emotional pain and He does not ask me to deny it. He asks me instead to let it pass into His hands. He is my Caretaker and He shall spread His healing balm over my wounds and the wounds of my child. He brings us restoration according to His Will, His Way, and in His Time.

When God calls us to stand up to our offenders, we must do so with courage and faith. When anointed, we are empowered to serve as His apostles, evangelists, intercessors, and servants. When God calls us to quietly absolve our offenders, we must do so with the same courage and faith.

Last Sunday was the Feast of Christ the King in the Catholic Church. The Gospel Reading was from Matthew 25:31-46 (what you did/did not do for one of these least ones, you did/did not do for me). It reminded me that when my child is excluded, Christ is excluded. When my child is mocked, Christ is mocked. When I am betrayed, Christ is betrayed.

And when I do not show mercy to another, I do not show mercy to Him.

The only true justice for injury is His. And whether we are called to publicly stand or quietly exculpate, there is no healing except in showing mercy and forgiveness. To submit to His mercy and all it asks of us is to submit to opening our eyes to see things we might otherwise have missed. It is to realize that when we ask our Savior the question, "Lord, when did we see You?" Jesus will answer, "When not?"

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me acknowledge my feelings when I am hurt and let them flow into You. Help me to be compassionate and merciful in the disappointments and unfairness of life, especially in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those I trusted, and in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied.

Always, Theresa

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Am The Disabled Child, Author Unknown

I am the child who cannot talk.You often pity me. I see it in your eyes. You wonder how much I am aware of...I see that as well. I am aware of much...whether you are happy or sad or fearful, patient or impatient, full of love and desire, or if you are just doing your duty to me. I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater, for I cannot express myself nor my needs as you do. You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times. I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated. I do not give you answers to your everyday questions, responses over my well-being, sharing my needs,or comments about the world around me. I do not give you rewards as defined by the world's standards...great strides in development that you can credit yourself. I do not give you understanding as you know it. What I give you is so much more valuable...I give you instead opportunities. Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine; the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities; the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible. I drive you further than you ever go on your own, working harder, seeking answers to your many questions, creating questions with no answers. I am the child who cannot talk.

I am the child who cannot walk. The world sometimes seems to pass me by. You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children. There is much you take for granted. I want the toys on the top shelf.I need to go to the bathroom...oh...I've dropped my spoon again! I am dependent on you in these ways.My gift to you is to make you aware of your great fortune,y our healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself.Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them. I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright, to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.I give you awareness. I am the child who cannot walk.

I am the child who is mentally impaired. I don't learn easily, if you judge me by the world's measuring stick. What I do know is infinite joy in the simple things. I am not burdened as you are with the strifes and conflicts or a more complicated life. My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child, to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love. I give you the gift of simplicity. I am the child who is mentally impaired.

I am the disabled child.

I am your teacher.

If you allow me, I will teach you what is really important in life. I will give you and teach you unconditional love. I give you my innocent trust, my dependency upon you. I teach you respect for others and their uniqueness. I teach you about the sanctity of life. I teach you about how very precious life is and about not taking things for granted. I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams. I teach you giving. Most of all, I teach you Hope and Faith.

I am the Disabled Child
~Author Unknown~

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All Are Invited To The Table Of Plenty

I've recently been encountering the understanding gap in places I would not expect to find it -- a house of worship and a religious school yard.

We moms of children with special needs encounter the understanding gap more than we care to say. Sometimes it can seem that people just don't get it, other times it seems they don't want to get it. This can be a great source of pain and weariness: it is tiring to educate the whole world, and frankly, it is neither possible, nor our job to do so. Yet there are times when we are called to stand up, and to declare the dignity of people with special needs. "Disability is not a mistake! Disability is not a divine punishment! It is not something from which one needs to be healed! Disability is part of God's plan!"

In our current culture that admires and seeks to attain physical perfection and worldly success, we and the Church must protect the "less than perfect", the defenseless, the vulnerable, the marginalized, the poor. All human beings are created in the image of God, having dignity, value and intention. “The Lord said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11).

Disabled People are created perfectly in His image. Each of us is made "so that the work of God might be displayed."

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned", said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:1-3).

Jesus Christ showed us how to treat the sick, poor, marginalized and disabled: ”Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:12-14).

The poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind are not on the "invited lists" as they should be. Today, I am sifting through some "un-invited list" hurts, and lifting them up to the Lord. As I work to focus my thoughts on the wonderful priests, nuns, lay people, and school communities God has placed on our family's path, I see that I must also acknowledge the pain and rejection we have experienced by the others.

As a daughter of the King, I shall put on the armor of God and stand tall. I, we, our children have the right to say who and what we are. "We are children of God, wonderfully and fearfully made!"

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me remember that these "understanding gap" experiences, though painful, are opportunities to rest in You, to learn, and to teach. Help me to know how to conduct myself with dignity when I or my child is being wronged. Help me to know when You want me to step forward and speak out. Thank you for sitting with me today and listening to my mother's heart cries. With You I can be still. With You I can be. With You I am always on the "Invited List."

Love, Theresa -- If We Are The Body

Monday, October 27, 2008

Receiving The Grace To Go On

I live in New England where winter is long. It is October, and the leaves have been turning and falling from the trees for several weeks. Yet I hesitated getting out our winter coats; it still felt warm.

Last week, winter bit down on us for the first time this year. Frost on the grass and ice on the car made me see that winter was indeed, inevitable.

Though I knew that winter was coming, the inevitable was not real for me until it had happened.

I think it is similar for those of us who have a child with a poor prognosis for survival. We know that their passing is going to happen, but we can still be shocked when it does. It will be, or has been, the most difficult and painful experience of our lives. Though prepared, there was never any way to be ready.

PRAYER: Lord, sometimes the pain of life and loss can seem unbearable. You are a God of miracles, and I ask that you perform a miracle in my heart today. Heal me, ease my pain and sorrow. Help me to go on. You are the Source of rest and strength. I turn to You in Jesus' Name, Amen.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finding Sleep In Our Heavenly Father's Arms

Doesn't it warm your heart to see a little baby toddle toward the arms of their parent? Their parents' arms represent love, safety, acceptance, and rest. These are the arms that reach out when they are hurt, afraid, or tired. They rock them to sleep, they lift them with joy in the morning.

Sometimes we can feel exhausted by trying to meet all of the needs of our families. Many of us suffer from chronic sleep-deprivation. We seem to become accustomed to it, forgetting what a full night's sleep feels like. Perhaps today we can try to climb into the lap of our Lord and get some rest.

Our Heavenly Father wants to lift us into His loving arms and carry us. He longs to rock us to sleep at the end of our day, for we are his children.

PRAYER: Lord, I come to you today as Your child, as Your little girl.I know You have Your arms wrapped around me and my child. Thank You for reminding me to rest. Help me to find some time to be still, to close my eyes. Relieve me from the burden of fatigue this day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Forgiveness Is The Fragrance The Violet Sheds On The Heel That Has Crushed It" -- Mark Twain

"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it" - Mark Twain

We all carry stories of people being cruel to our children, of treating them with prejudice, marginalizing them as outcasts. But none sting our mothers' hearts more than when these experiences come at the hands of our churches, our priests, our ministers, or other religious leaders.

Jesus' words on extending the supportive community of acceptance are crystal clear: "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they can not repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Parish priests, ministers, rabbis, and religious people are human. They are going to make mistakes and say things and do things they shouldn't. When this happens, we have two choices: we can speak up, or we can go away. Speaking up will not necessarily bring victory, and "going away" might feel more like defeat. Therefore, we must discern what the Lord wants us to do when we encounter these battles. When anointed by God, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).

As children of God, we are going to be called to forgive our offenders. Forgiveness of those who have hurt our children does not justify what they did, and it does not undo it. But it is a commandment. God's Word says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25).

So let us not permit hurtful circumstances to take our precious energy, or sway us from a right relationship with God. We must put on the armor of the Lord as we go forward. With Him, we will be able to stand when the arrows are sent our way. He will protect us and our children in battle.

PRAYER: Father, I need your help today with forgiving those who have trespassed against my child. I want to forgive fully from my heart, and I ask You to forgive me for hurting others. Please heal the pain I carry from the arrows' onslaught. Heal all wounds, especially those of my offenders. Help us all to do Your Will. I pray all of this in Jesus' precious name. Amen.



Below is an article about a priest, a church, a community and a special needs family who are in desperate need of our prayers. I do not know the details or the different sides to this story, but it looks like all parties are in need of healing.


A Catholic priest has filed a restraining order against the parents of a severely autistic 13-year-old boy in an effort to keep him from attending the church in Bertha on Sundays.

Church officials claim he is too disruptive.

The Rev. Daniel Walz alleges that Adam Race's unruly behavior endangers others who attend the Church of St. Joseph.

Race's parents have ignored the restraining order, calling it discriminatory, and Carol Race, Adam's mother, was cited by police and is due to appear in court on Monday for violating the order.

"He said that we did not discipline our son. He said that our son was physically out of control and a danger to everyone at church," Carol Race said. "I can't discipline him out of his autism, and I think that's what our priest is expecting."
Carol Race said it all started last June, when Walz and a church trustee visited the Races at their home address the behavior of Adam, who stands taller than six feet and weighs more than 225 pounds.

In an affidavit, Walz said the church "explored and offered many options for accommodations that would assist the family while protecting the safety of parishioners. The family refused those offers of accommodation."

Carol Race said the family of seven, which has attended St. Joseph since 1996, typically sat in the cry room or in the back pew to keep avoid disrupting the services and did not hear a complaint from the parishioners until Walz showed up at their home in June.

Even after the restraining order was served, the family continued going to the church and would leave during the closing hymn to avoid contact with others, Carol Race said.

The Diocese of St. Cloud issued a statement saying the petition was filed "as a last resort out of a growing concern for the safety of parishioners and other community members due to disruptive and violent behavior on the part of that child."
Walz said the boy's behavior worsened over time, telling authorities that Adam has been "extremely disruptive and dangerous" since last summer.

According to Walz, Adam struck a child during mass, nearly knocks elderly parishioners over when he hastily exits the church, spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights when he is being restrained.

He also one time assaulted a girl by pulling her onto his lap and, during Easter mass, ran to the parking lot and got into two vehicles, starting them and revving the engine, Walz alleged.

"There were people directly in front of the car who could have been injured or killed if he had put the car in gear," Walz wrote.

Adam's parents have to sit on him and sometimes tie his hands and feet to get control of him, Walz wrote.

Carol Race has an answer to each complaint.

She said her son makes spitting faces but doesn't spit and acknowledged he has occasional problems with incontinence. She says that she and her husband sit on Adam because their weight calms him down, which is why he pulled the girl onto him.
She also said they do use soft straps to bind Adam's hands and feet on occasion because it calms him, as does the revving sound of engines, which is why he started the cars.

Some disability advocates are getting behind the Races.

"It's unfathomable and concerns me that we've taken a situation with special needs and we're making it into the criminal matter," said Brad Trahan, the founder of the RT Autism Awareness Foundation in Rochester, who has asked the bishop of St. Cloud to rescind the restraining order.

Carol Race just hopes the ugly back-and-forth doesn't tarnish the image of the church.

"The church isn't bad," she said. "But it's what some individuals do within the church."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

And Jesus Wept

Jesus Wept (John 11:35).

There are few things more profound to me than the meaning in this verse. Jesus had arrived at the tomb of His good friend, Lazarus. He knew of the accusations that He could have saved him. He saw the grieving of His close friends Mary and Martha. He knew what He was about to do. And Jesus stood at the foot of the tomb of Lazarus, and He wept.

The Lord stood openly and He wept.

There are, and will be, moments in our lives when we cry. Rain falls into every life, some more than others. We cannot control and manage every aspect of our lives or the lives of our children. We are human. And we are not the first mothers to weep. Rachel and the women of her time wept over the children of Israel who were taken away as slaves (Matt 2:13-18). Rachel refused to be comforted. The Bible never told us that she was acting badly or should have been accepting of comfort. She was permitted to cry, to grieve, and to mourn.

Jesus demonstrated to us at the tomb of Lazarus that we need not run from our tears. For do they not come from the same place that loves, accepts, supports, and advocates for our children?

That which is tender enough to love, is tender enough to cry.

PRAYER: Lord, help me remember that You are holding me when I cry, and that it is healthy to give voice to my feelings. I thank You for Your tender compassion and love. It is only in my own ease with human feelings that I may truly share Your Love and Mercy with others.



Friday, October 17, 2008

Shining the Light in Public

Special needs moms often become witnesses to the injustice and suffering imposed upon the marginalized and persons with disabilities in our society, just by living our everyday lives. A simple trip to the grocery store, or trying to access a locker room at the "Y" can require us to suddenly become an activist or a messenger of God's compassion and change in the face of scorn.

But struggle and conflict are elements of human life. We will all have pain, we will all have loss. In knowing God, and through the grace of God, we are given the strength to endure. When our heads bow in despair, we must remember that there is One who shall gather us in His arms and lift our chins and dry our tears.

God will also send us "angels on earth" to help us just when we seem to need them most. These angels may be in the form of doctors, nurses, friends, or strangers. They are God's reminder to us that He is with us, and His hand is on our shoulder.

Though not a political blog, the link below (a report on MSNBC's Nightly News) is for me, a heartwarming public reminder that we are not alone upon this road we walk.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for Your "angels on earth", the people you send into my life who remind me of Your loving mercy. Bless these people as they reach out and show me Your love when I am in need. I pray that I too, may bring Your love to my family, my friends, and to this hurting world.

In His Peace,


Thursday, October 16, 2008

God Sees The Big Picture

I believe the life of a special needs mother can be compared to riding a roller coaster. There are upswings of great joy and relief, and sudden, unexpected drops into grief and sorrow. We have struggles and challenges in our lives that most mothers would never dream of. Our road is different.

But being different does not mean it is a mistake -- God doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't look at our children and the challenges they are facing and wring His hands. There is no Heavenly panic over our little ones. They are perfectly and wonderfully made.

And we as mothers of children with special needs are no surprise to God. In fact, we have been specially chosen to be their mothers. When we are feeling weak or incompetent, we must hold on to the knowledge that He has equipped us with the strength and grace to meet the challenges of our lives. Even when we feel we are faltering, we are never beyond His reach.

Our children are made in the image of God. So are we. He holds us all in the palm of His hand. He sees, and we are never alone.

PRAYER: Lord, though I may not understand the path You have set before me, I trust You to lead me. Watch over me and my child this day. Help us to remember that You are always beside us, and fill me with Your Spirit. Amen.

Your Sister in Christ,

I have learned and learned again that I must surrender -- to yield, but not capitulate -- to the path that has been laid out before me.