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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Room At The Inn: A Christmas Story

I have a wonderful Christmas story to share. I wrote about it last year, and it is worth being told again this year.

A young man identified as "mentally retarded" wanted to be in the Christmas play at his church. The organizers and the others in the play didn't want to include him because they knew he would "mess up."

This 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 arrived 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. When 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 pageant had been ruined that night. But others knew better.

Merry Christmas, and may God bless you all.Theresa

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have Yourself A Merry Special Needs Christmas

Are you feeling frustrated by the circumstances of your life? Are the holiday preparations and anticipations making you nervous? Often, the burden of our overwork as special needs moms can lead us to feelings of anxiety, turmoil, apprehension and depression. Doctor's appointments, IEP meetings, medical testing, holiday shopping, traffic jams -- it doesn't take much for our teetering schedules to spin out of control. How can we overcome our feelings of frustration when they occur?

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Luke 12:27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

When we are overwhelmed and do not know what to do, remember that God will provide for us as He has always. His peace is there for the taking whether we have been dealing with our child's needs for a long time or if we have just recently received their diagnoses. If our lives don't look like most people's, and we don't conform to the norm, let it be. We have our own road, and we are not alone upon it. You and your child are unique. God had a plan for you long before either of you took your first breath. The call to us from Scripture is clear. We are to be still. Stand still — not because of our own countenance or sense of composure, but because God is our refuge and our strength.

There is peace where the humanity and humility of our special families meet God's mercy and grace. May your family's Christmas be unique, holy, still, and blessed. Love, Theresa

Please take a listen to Immanuel (God Is With Us) below. It is sung by children in England -- it is as if they are singing it to us and to our children. THIS,my dear sisters in the Lord, is our Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas, A Very Special Version

Friends, this was sent to me by a mother of a child with Autism. I think it resonates with special needs mothers regardless of the diagnosis of our children. It was written by Cindy Waeltermann, Director, AutismLink.

May God bless you and your beautiful children this night, Theresa

Twas The Night Before Christmas (In a Special Needs Family's Home) by Cindy Waeltermann, Director, AutismLink

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse

We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
Asleep early for Christmas? unlikely path

The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When visions of Christmas
Ran through my OWN head

Did I get the right gift?
The right color and style?
Would there be a blank stare
Or even, maybe, a smile?

Friends & family come
But they don't understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from bending his hands.

"Just make him stop it," some say
"Just tell him "no",
You must learn to be tough.."
On, and on they do go...

We smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The debate is moot
Let them all take a side

We know what it's like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
Achievements, regressions

But what some don't know
And what some don't see
Is the joy that we feel
Over simplicity.

He said "hello"!
He ate something green!
He looked me in my eyes
He did not cause a scene!

He peed on the potty!
Who cares if he's ten;
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again!"

Some others don't realize
Just how we can cope
How we bravely hang on
At the end of our rope

But what they don't see
Is the joy we can't hide
When our children with autism
Make the tiniest stride

We may look at others
Without the problems we face
With envy, with wonder,
Or even distaste,

What we want them to know
What's important to see
Is that children with autism
Bring simplicity.

We don't get excited
Over expensive things
We jump for joy
With the progress work brings

Children with autism
Try so hard every day
That they make us proud
More than words can say.

They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach a star in the sky

So to those who don't get it
Or can't get a clue
Take a walk in our shoes
And I'll assure you…

That even 10 minutes
Into the walk
You'll look at us all
With respect, even shock.

You will realize
What it is we go through
And the next time you see us
I can assure you

That you won't say a thing
You'll be quiet and learn,
Like the years I learned too
When the tables were turned."

Cindy Waeltermann, Director, AutismLink

Monday, December 14, 2009

Acceptance: My Compass, My Prayer

To yield but not capitulate. This is my motto and my daily prayer.

As the mother of a child with special needs and a life-threatening illness, I have come to embrace that my life is not my own. My compass is acceptance -- not the kind that surrenders to injustice or abuse, but the kind that yields to the reality of what I cannot change or do about a situation. It is an acceptance that understands and trusts that God has a plan for my life and the life of my child. It is an acceptance that frees me to do that which is within my power, and that to which God is calling.

True acceptance is not resignation, it is not powerlessness. It does not leave me feeling beaten or discouraged, but rather, serene. It is not passive. It does not preclude the possibility of change. It requires me to feel, not to deaden or push my emotions away. It asks me to bend, not to break.

In "The Inner Voice of Love" Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, wrote that we are constantly facing choices, and that the root choice is to trust that God is with us at all times. He helps us see that God will give us what we most need. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, the Apostle Paul wrote about the thorn in his flesh and how he prayed for it to be removed. God's answer was not its removal, but an assurance of His grace: "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

Friends, the acceptance that is my compass is not a compensation for my pain or the suffering of my child -- it is an outgrowth of it. I pray to be open to God's graces and and His Will in and over my life. I work to focus not on avoiding my trials or hoping they go away, but on the truth that God will be my strength and supply the grace I need to persevere. Thorns and all.

Peace be with you and your families this day. Love,


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

John the Baptist, John the Light of Advent

We in the Christian Church are in the Season of Advent. The word 'advent' is Latin for 'a coming or arrival'. Advent in the Church is a season of preparation; we are waiting for the arrival of the Christ Child on Christmas Day.

When we think of Advent and preparing the way of the Lord, we often think of John the Baptist. He is one we most closely associate with Advent, yet how much do we really know about him?

We know that John's parents, Zachary and Elizabeth, were childless and prayed that their union would be blessed by a child (Luke 1:6-7). Their prayers were answered when late in life, Zachary was visited by an angel of God who said, "...Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John."

We know, too, that John the Baptist was related to Jesus Christ. Their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, were cousins (Luke 1:36).

St. Luke tell us "the child grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel (1:80).

In Matthew (3:1) we learn that John lived in the mountainous area of Judah, and his clothes were made of camel's hair and belted by leather.
His food consisted of locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4).

John had a popular ministry. "People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea, and the whole region of The Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:5-6). Among his disciples were the future apostles Peter and Andrew.

John baptized Jesus Christ: "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:13-15).

John was questioned at the height of his popularity if he was the messiah and answered, "I am not the Christ, but I am sent ahead of Him." (John 3:28).

As Jesus Christ's ministry began to strengthen, John recognized that his own was coming to an end: "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30).

St. John was a prophet who announced the coming of Jesus, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'"

Imprisoned and later executed, Jesus said of him to his followers, "John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light." (John 5:35).

John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
This is who was, and is, John the Baptist. The voice of one who cried out in the wilderness, a lamp who burned and gave light. No angels, shepherds, wise men, or stars heralded his coming (though the heavenly messenger Gabriel spoke to his father about his birth and call.) Yet from his obscure place in the wilderness he moved the world.

May we choose for a time to enjoy his light this Advent.

Peace, Theresa

PRAYER: Lord, we thank You for being newly born into our world again this Christmas. Help us to slow down and enjoy the light of Advent as we prepare the way for You. Amen.