Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finding Christ in the Struggle

As she contemplated the surgery that her daughter was about to endure, Beth wondered how this could possibly be the right answer. How was breaking her child's legs, in essence crippling her, the way to help her walk?

She had prayed about it for months. It was not the first and would not be the last challenge that her child and family would face, but this one was hitting her harder than any of the previous trials.

Born at 26 weeks gestation, her daughter had endured a grade III intraventricular brain bleed which resulted in cerebral palsy. As part of her cp, Suzy's legs were permanently twisted. The surgery she was to undergo was designed to straighten them.Until now, her mobility was limited to moving with the aid of a walker. Through the results of this surgery, doctors felt she would be capable of walking on her own. This was a big step towards independence, which was her parents desire and prayer for Suzy.
But why God, Beth implored, did the method of treatment have to be so cruel and extreme? Beth was afraid. And so was her child.

Have you ever been faced with a situation like this? Knowing that you are trying to do what's best for your child, but also knowing that there will be extreme discomfort and possibly even pain involved? Has this left you wondering where Christ is in your struggle?

Leaning on and trusting God had become a way of life for Beth from the time she was a child. Thankfully, her daughter's journey had made her even stronger in her faith. So she leaned on God for comfort with scripture. 

Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The surgery was considered a success by the doctors, but it was only the beginning of the trial. After Suzy recovered for six weeks in casts, more challenges arose. The ease of learning to walk was not what they had expected. Physical therapy was intensely painful for Suzy. Knowing her daughter's high tolerance for pain, this brought Beth to her knees. After several visits at a rehab facility, Beth decided to call on their in-home physical therapist.
Hiding in her bathroom, out of the sight of her daughter and the therapist, Beth cried to God as she listened to her daughter scream in pain. Thankfully, after this visit, Suzy's therapy became more bearable. Following seven months of fear and anxiety, Beth was finally able to see a light at the end of the tunnel as Suzy made tremendous strides in her ability to walk. 

How can we find Christ in our struggles so He can sustain us and give us strength? Is it even possible to find God in the midst of such pain?

Throughout the trials of her daughter's surgery, Beth looked to God for her strength and comfort. Although she experienced fear in the process, she also found hope. As Suzy turned a corner and she was able to see the success of this horrible ordeal, she found this verse that gave her clarity.

John 9:3b, NIV:
Neither this man (child) nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him (her).”

Over time, Beth began to see Christ in the circumstances surrounding their family and this medical ordeal. Friends brought meals, gifts for her daughter, and spent time visiting. A wheelchair ramp was built by the men of their church. Thoughtful cards were received. Their family was ministered to in ways that she had never expected. These were the hands and feet of Christ.

Three years later, Beth celebrates as her daughter walks independently down the aisle of the church for choir performances. Watching, the congregation also cheers on this child who has endured so much. God has truly been glorified as they witness this miraculous transformation.

Though the challenges of their child's journey continue, this family is thankful that they also continue to find Jesus Christ. They see it in the healing that He has done in their daughter and through the comfort and clarity of His Word. And they find it in the love that He gives them through friends and loved ones who support them.

As parents of special needs children, we are often left wondering how we will make it through our circumstances. Admittedly, it is not easy. We find ourselves in the valley again and again. It is important to remember that the ways Christ presents himself may be unexpected- relationships, meals, wheelchair ramps, gifts. But even in our pain, we must look and expect to see Him. We must recall His promises to us. Through our struggles, my prayer is that we can always find His redeeming grace, remembering the blessing that He is with us always and forever, until the ends of the earth.

"Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Understand the Leash

My husband and I were seated on the patio area of a restaurant recently when I overheard the comments. 

"Look at that! I can't believe someone would do that to their own child!!"

I looked around to see the topic of her indignation. A mother with a toddler. The source of disbelief was the leash that was strapped to the child and held by his mother. It had a harness at one end that attached to the child's torso in a comfortable fashion. On the other end his mother hung on tightly. 

I looked around. All about me I saw the traffic of a busy intersection. There were hundreds of people moving to and fro. Other restaurants lined the street with open air seating. Shops also lined the street, complete with clothing racks and other places perfect for hiding.Time turned backward in my mind to December of 2003.

Going to the mall to see Santa is an annual tradition for our family. We've been doing it since my son's first Christmas and we haven't missed a single year. The kids are always excited about our yearly trek.We start the evening by eating at our favorite Italian restaurant located next door to the mall and then we move into the mall in search of the line to see Santa. But December 2003 almost put a stop to this long-held tradition.

That year, after we had filled our bellies with ravioli, maniccotti, and lasagna, we ventured into the mall and found Santa's line to be a mile-long. The kids were only five and three, so instead of standing in the long line we decided to do some shopping first and then come back to see if it had shortened. 

My husband, who doesn't get an opportunity to Christmas shop very much, asked if he could wander off alone and try to buy some surprises. Anticipating that these surprises might just be for me, I happily obliged. 

This was my first mistake of the evening. I didn't realize how difficult holding on to two children alone in a mall was going to be (especially since one was a hyperactive and impulsive three year old with undiagnosed ADHD). Perhaps I should have realized this would be a problem based on my experience of taking her to the grocery store. But the mood was merry and I had no worries except what my dear husband might be purchasing to put under the tree.

No sooner was Rob out of sight than Sara Ashley darted across the mall and into a clothing store, hiding in one of the round clothing racks. As I frantically screamed her name, looking for her, Robert walked in the opposite direction headed to the nearest candy machine. After retrieving him, I was finally able to find Sara Ashley, only to have her run away from me again. This happened at least four more times within the next 45 minutes, and all the while she giggled at this game she had created. My description of this game: Scare Mommy to death and make her very angry in the process.

After 45 minutes of this, with Rob still no where in sight (where was he???), I finally found my daughter (again!) and grabbed her arm, holding on for dear life. The line for Santa had shortened slightly and I thought if we could just get in it, maybe she would place her focus on sitting in Santa's lap and not on hiding from me. But not one minute later I felt my arm jerk as she tried to dart away again. This time, I instinctively jerked her back to me- hard. As I turned to angrily explain to her that she could NOT run away again, I noticed that she was holding her arm (the one I had jerked) in a very unnatural position. 

Oh my Lord, have I broken my child's arm??? I crumbled. I did everything I could not to cry in front of my kids. Where in the world was my husband?? HELP!!!

A few minutes later, Rob finally showed up, shopping bags in hand. Turns out this man who has a keen sense of direction when outdoors, gets totally lost when inside a mall. He had shopped for 30 minutes and then it had taken him 30 more minutes to find us. (Even today, he still gets lost in this mall?!) So here I stood, with Robert on one side of me and Sara Ashley on the other, close to tears. 

"Look at her arm Rob! She can't lift it. I think I've broken her arm!"

Rob looked and agreed that something was definitely wrong. We stepped out of line and headed to the closest ER, only minutes away. Unfortunately, Sara Ashley had also busted her lip at school that day while playing on the playground. As we checked into the ER, we were greeted by two employees who took each of us to different areas of the hospital and questioned us about what had happened to her. I was SURE we were going to be charged with abuse and taken to the nearest jail cell. 

After the nurse who was examining Sara Ashley had convinced me that I had, indeed, broken my child's arm and I was in hysterics, the doctor came in. His examination was quick, and with a pop of his wrist, her arm was back to normal- fully functional. 

"She had nursemaid's elbow," he told me. "It can happen pretty easily. Be careful. Once it happens one time, it can easily happen again." And off he went.

Needless to say, I have never been so relieved in my life. We left the hospital and headed home without seeing Santa and with my husband vowing never to go back to the mall again. A week later my sister went back with me and we finally got that year's coveted picture with Santa (see above). Thankfully, by the next December, my husband agreed to go back and the tradition continues. We can now look back on this experience with laughter and have shared it often with Sara Ashley and Robert who don't remember it at all (thank goodness!).

As I sat and watched this mother holding the leash, I thought to myself, I completely and totally understand this leash that she has attached to her child. Like our heavenly Father who desires to protect us when we go to Him, a parent desires to protect their child. How can we fault someone for that? 

When a child is impulsive and hyperactive despite discipline, lacking normal reasoning skills and an understanding of danger, when a parent is working their hardest to teach their child obedience and respect but has to work within these differences, a leash is not a cruel tool. It is the protection of a loving parent. 

Whoever goes to the Lord for safety,whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
can say to him,
    “You are my defender and protector.
    You are my God; in you I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2
Parenting is hard, especially in a fish bowl. Do you have a leash experience? Or maybe just a time when, because of your child's differences, you chose a different path than others that caused judgement?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


This morning as I awakened, my mind drifted into a peace that it hasn't felt in eleven days. My children are home! Last night they arrived with the stories of a wonderful vacation shared with their grandparents. Souvenirs were displayed, stories were told, and hugs exchanged. Great. Big. Bear. Hugs!

There is nothing quite as comforting as waking up knowing exactly where your children are- because their heads are lying only feet away from you. Whew...I can breath a little deeper today. Thank you God.

So this morning I am coasting. Happy to have my children in one place, under my own roof. Happy to have a few weeks left of summer to be lazy and carefree. Coasting...

Looking back, I realize that this has been an entire year of coasting for Sara Ashley and her learning differences. Unlike the years leading up to this one, we have had an almost pain-free normal year of school, friendships, extracurricular activities, and academics. Actually, we have had a stellar year. With her award winning essay, Character Award, interest in horseback riding, and several new friendships formed, it has been a groundbreaking year. This coasting thing is becoming very comfortable. And that makes me nervous.

When things are going so right, do you begin to wonder when they will inevitably start going wrong?

This is called fear and it has the power to altar my perspective tremendously. 

Fear is nothing new to me. It's something that I'm not proud of and I work hard every day not to let it control me. But it still rears its ugly head on more occasions than I would like to admit. Faith, courage and love are the antithesis of fear. Upon discovering that this year of coasting is creating fear in my mind, I have begun to pray for faith and courage. Prayer can provide answers. The fruit of my prayer and what God has asked me to remember is found in these verses. 

A Time for Everything
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11

1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for 
every event under heaven-

2 A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time 
to uproot what is planted. 

3 A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 

4 A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.

5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 

6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and time to throw away. 

7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together. A time to be silent and a time to speak.

8 A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. 

11 He has made everything appropriate in its time.  

This is our time for coasting. 

So today I try to remember to celebrate. This is a wonderful season for my daughter. She is thriving. She is growing and learning. She is happy and beautiful. She is my heart. This is her time. 

Does that mean that tomorrow won't be her time too? I have to erase that fear. Troubles will come, like the changing winds of the seasons. But, like the wind, the Holy Spirit stays with us throughout our seasons. 

Loving us.
Guiding us. 
Empowering us in our journey. 

I am determined! I will not be afraid! I will allow myself to be free to enjoy the seemingly effortless coasting of this glorious season. 

And I will thank God for the fruit.

How about you? Are you coasting these days too? Or perhaps this is a season of storms for you? Let us pray for you. Please leave your comments or Message me so that we can pray for you or celebrate with you during this part of your journey.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Love and Logic

The brain is a mysterious thing. God gave humans a unique brain. Unlike the brains of other living creatures, our brains allow us to use reason and logic, and give us free will. We have dominion over all of the other animals because God granted us a superior brain. (Genesis 1:26)

Logic and reason are powerful tools that we use in our everyday lives. But how we use them is of utmost importance, as I found out about six years ago...

One late summer day when my daughter was six years old my husband called me with some news. The excitement in his voice was undeniable. He shared with me that he had just signed her up for little league football cheerleading. "It will be so fun for her! And she'll look so cute in that cheerleader uniform!" he exclaimed. The eagerness in his voice practically jumped through the phone. "She CAN do this!" he practically yelled.

I was driving at the time and it was all I could do not to pull the car to the side of the road and have a panic attack.

"Cheerleading?!? How in the world do you think she is going to be able to learn all those cheers? Not to mention adding the movements and cute dances to the equation!?!"

My mind inwardly screamed in outrage at the lack of logic and reason that he had exhibited when signing her up for this mistake. I was practically in tears just thinking about how it was all going to play out. Just a year earlier, Sara Ashley had been diagnosed with an expressive language disability. Word-finding and memorization were her biggest weaknesses. Surely this was setting her up for complete failure!

But my husband would not be swayed. "We need to let her give it a try," he insisted. Despite my strong reservations, I conceded.

Cheerleading started in early August. The practices were hot and long. The coach was a former professional cheerleader with little tolerance for the antics of six year old girls. But as the practices progressed and I watched my daughter, I was amazed. Although she did have some trouble remembering the words to the cheers, she learned the routines with ease. She blended seamlessly with the squad and had a great season of cheerleading! My husband was every bit the proud daddy! And, despite my initial reservations, I was a very proud mama too.

The abilities of my daughter in this circumstance defy all logic and reason. The previous school year, she had been unable to learn her complete alphabet and hadn't been able to count past eleven. How was it possible that she was successfully performing cheers and dance routines?

Logic and reason are certainly gifts from God. But, as humans, we are still not capable of fully understanding what God can and will do in our lives if we give Him the chance. If we allow logic and reason to dictate our willingness to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we are not using these gifts the way God intended. And, as my husband taught me, if we use them to limit our potential or the potential of those around us, we are misusing them altogether.

When Joshua walked around Jericho seven times blowing his trumpets in order to overtake the city, was he using logic and reason? When the young and small David declared that he would fight the giant Goliath and even shed the armor provided to him by Saul, what kind of logic was that? When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water towards Jesus, there was no reason or logic involved. These men were not making their decisions based on wordly logic. They were acting in faith and obedience to God and their heart's desire to follow Him.

Recently a friend told me about her five year old son's learning disability. Somehow his brain has associated letters with numbers. If asked what the letter "F" is, he taps his leg six times (as F is the sixth letter in the alphabet) and comes up with the answer "6." The logic of his brain is amazing and interesting to me. He is sure to be magnificently creative! But I am certain that it is very frustrating to his mother at this point. Trying to teach him to read has become a task akin to beating her head against a brick wall. Her aspirations for his future are limited to the abilities that she can currently see. She is not alone. I have heard this from the parents of many LD kids.

Looking back now at my own daughter at the age of five I can totally relate. My hopes for her were also limited and I was very fearful of what her future would hold. When we are faced with a brain that defies the logic and reason that we can understand, it scares us. We long for our children to succeed and to thrive in this world that operates by a strict standard of norms. But as I look at my daughter now, and all that she has overcome, I can speak with authority when I say that we must reach beyond our own comfort of human logic and reason to allow our children the opportunities to reach their full potential. The only way we can do this is to listen to God's promptings and, with His guidance, step out in faith. 

God's will for our lives is to look to Him for direction. His love for us is enough to give us peace in our circumstances, whether they make worldly sense or not. Our decisions should not be based solely on logic and reason, but on our heart's desire to follow Him.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Ephesians 3:20 The Message

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, Down in my Heart!

Dear Mommy, Daddy and of course...Bert!
I miss y'all sooooo much but that's not gonna stop me from having a lot of FUN! I have friends too!
I love y'all! 
Having a great time! SA

Summer Camp. I remember it with such fondness. Meeting new friends, camp fires, hokey songs, cafeteria food, and the outdoor adventures. Even the bad parts hold fond memories: scorpians in my shoes, a homesick friend, bug spray, and not wanting to leave when Mom and Dad came to pick me up. Seems like camp is just a typical rite of passage for most kids.

But for kids with invisible disabilities, camp can be a scary place. Both for the kid and for their parents. Counselors who are often young and don't understand the nuances of our children's differences, as well as cruel judgement by peers are valid concerns for families of these children. It is important to research the camps and their philosophies before sending our kids off on this summer adventure.

This year, I treaded slowly and carefully into the camp waters. After speaking to several friends who have sent their own girls to this particular camp, I began to feel a level of comfort about letting Sara Ashley go. Then, as I read the medication dispensement instructions, I felt even better. Blister packs were required (no possible mix ups) and medications were given by a nurse each morning and evening. Finally, after receiving a very detailed questionnaire asking me about my child's personality, likes, dislikes, and pretty much anything else that I could possibly impart to them about her, my comfort level went from a 5 to a 9. This camp truly seemed to care about my child and her ability to have a positive experience!

After these findings eased my mind, together Sara Ashley and I made the decision for her to go to camp. She was both excited and apprehensive. Making preparations for the week brought an intentional process. Although the camp suggested packing in several small duffel bags, I knew that this was a recipe for disaster for my child. I could visualize clothing from both bags scattered all over the floor of her room as she searched for that perfect shirt she wanted to wear. Instead, I packed her in one large and very organized suitcase. Once opened, everything could be seen at a glance. We reviewed everything in the case and how it was to be used, stored and discarded until we picked her up. We talked about the logistics of taking her medicines, the use for each toiletry item, and every other detail I could think of to prepare her for her week. Although she seemed exasperated with my demand that she slow down long enough to listen to this information, I know that in the long run it was helpful to her.

For the first time ever, I dropped her off into her dorm without having a long conversation with the staff about her ADHD and dyslexia. This transition is due,  in part, to her age, and to the preparatory efforts of the camp. As SA matures, I am beginning to rely on her to voice her own needs and reveal her own differences if she feels that she needs to do this. In the past, I don't think she was mature or verbal enough to advocate for herself. This is a scary but necessary step for us.

Despite the comfort level that I had attained prior to camp, I did worry. As each evening approached, I worried about her ability to fall asleep. This is often hard for her active mind and body. Each morning, I awoke to concerns about her ability to make friends who would accept her for who she is (wonderful, energetic and playful!!). And each day I prayed for her well-being, both physically and mentally.

By the end of the week, I was very ready to see my sweet girl! Arriving at camp, she quickly introduced me to her new friends. I was overjoyed to see that they sincerely liked Sara Ashley. I was also thrilled to hear from some of her counselors who told me of her positive attitude and sweet nature. 

Driving home, I asked Sara Ashley if she had shared her learning differences with her new friends. Not that she needed to, but my curiosity just got the best of me. This is what she said:

"They asked me why I was so wild. I told them that I have ADHD," she shared. "They told me they were so sorry for asking." This she said with a bit of amusement in her voice and a cute smile.
"I told them, 'No, it's OK! It's part of who I am, and it doesn't bother me at all!'"

Thank you Lord, for this child who accepts herself just the way she is. I know that she will face future challenges that may cause her to doubt her self-worth, but for this moment in time, I am thankful. May you continue to use her to teach me and humble me. Because of your works in her life, and in mine, I've got the JOY down in my heart. . .to stay!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Good News

Reflecting over the last three months, it's hard for me to believe how much has happened. In March, God layed a desire on my heart to somehow help other parents who have children, like my own, who live with life challenges. The "help" He called me to would be in the form of a book. As most of you know, this started the process of writing the book tentatively titled "Unexpected Gifts, God's Blessings for and through Children Facing Life Challenges."

So far, I have interviewed nine families and spoken to countless others, in fact I can't seem to keep up with the people who would like to share their stories with me and for that I apologize. I want to hear all of them! I have also spoken to two groups, written five chapters, have completed a book proposal, have had author business cards printed and am writing endorsement letter requests. I have spoken with two self publishers and am planning to attend an American Christian Writers Association Mentoring workshop in July where I will be mentored by the editor for Wesleyan Publishing and will meet other writers from across the nation. I am excited!! Needless to say, I am also overwhelmed by God's loving and guiding Hands in this process. I certainly know that I am not capable of doing this on my own. I pray that God's blessings are on this book. He knows that parents of kids facing life challenges need love and support, HIS love and support.

A few Saturdays ago I went with friends to hear Babbie Mason and Jessica LaGrone speak at Roswell United Methodist Church. They shared with us their newest bible studies. Babbie spoke about Embraced by God and also used her wonderful musical talent to bring us to our feet in praise. Jessica shared an intriguing study called Namesake, When God Re-Writes Your Story. I enjoyed hearing her talk about Jacob and how God changed his name and his character. Both women were excellent speakers and inspired me further in the writing of my book. They also confirmed the calling that I have received as each quoted bible scripture that has spoken very loudly to me over the last few months. The verses were quoted as their "favorites" and are as follows:

Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Ephesians 3:20
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

These verses speak volumes to me everyday as I encounter parents who share their stories with me. They speak to me about each of our own possibilities to glorify God. They speak to me of the lengths and depths of God's love for us. And they tell me that the path to fulfillment exists only through Him. Despite what others may perceive as our limitations, despite what we may even see as our limitations, God is always able to do more. Remember this as you rise each day to face the world. God is good!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Knocking on the Door

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

"Knock knock," Sara Ashley called from the back seat of the car.
"Who's there?" I replied.
"Banana who?"
"Banana robot!" 
She squealed with laughter as I smiled in amused confusion.

These were my daughter's preschool attempts at humor. Not very successful to the average listener (like her older brother), but they did make my heart smile.

However, all was not happy during that period of time. It seemed that everywhere around me, doors were closing in my face and in my daughter's future. That year, as Sara Ashley was completing kindergarten, my husband and I met with her school's special education team for our year-end meeting. This was a dream team of professionals who were working their hardest to meet our child's needs. But there was no denying the tests results that stared me in the face that morning. In black and white I read the words:

Does not meet the requirements necessary to be promoted to the first grade.

All around me, for a period of two or three years, I found doors closing:
  •  At Mommy and me in the library it was too hard for her to sit still and listen- slam!
  • Ballet and Tap Lessons found her running around the room to the beat of her own drum- slam!
  • Shopping at the local mall left me frantically searching for her as she hid in the clothing turn stiles- slam!
  • And now the school that we had counted on to teach her was not able to meet her needs- SLAM!

Denise faced similar challenges with her son who has the condition of Asperger's syndrome. Although the doctors and her son's preschool teachers did not recognize the severity of her son's struggles, she knew something was drastically wrong. So the obsessive research began. Hours and hours of research that took her away from nurturing her young daughter, from keeping up with her other responsibilities, and from being the balanced person that she needed to be. Denise shares a particular closing moment from this period in her past. A family vacation. As she and her husband packed, she remembers with clarity his pleading demand.

"We need you to be part of our family Denise. No books or research about childhood illnesses while we are on our trip!" 

Does God open and close doors in our lives? Were these "slamming doors" God's will?

My answer is a resounding- I'm not sure. I am certainly not a theologian, but here is what I do know:

  • Whatever our circumstances, whether we feel persecuted or encouraged, whether we see doors as open or closed, God is with us to comfort and love us. If we seek Him, we will find Him. Matthew 7:7-8, Matthew 28:20

  • God's purposes cannot be thwarted. If God wants something to happen, it will. If that means pushing us forward in a trajectory that leaves us kicking and screaming in protest, so be it. A better response would be to settle in and watch what He's going to do, knowing that His purposes in our lives are for our good and His glory. Job 42:2, Jeremiah 29:11

  • Clarity comes later, faith comes now. Although we may not understand our current situation, we must have faith that God's purposes are greater than our current situation's pain or sorrow. Looking to the Bible can give us this clarity. How often, when we read the account of Jesus dying on the cross, do we stop and wonder why God allowed him to endure such pain? But as we read on, it is made abundantly clear that God's purposes were for our own redemption because of His love for us. And that Jesus sits magnificently on the throne at His right hand, in glory. Remembering His faithfulness to us in the past can give us faith to realize that our current circumstances are only temporary.

Despite my knowledge of these three things, when I find myself in the midst of fear for my child, my human reaction can be quite...well, human. The verse in Matthew 7 makes it sound so simple. "Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you." I can assure you that during that period of time I was knocking, but it wasn't on God's door. Instead I knocked on other doors during the early years of our struggles. I knocked on the doors of doctors, specialists, teachers, other parents, and professionals who I thought would hold the answers to my daughter's differences. At the time, my logic in this type of seeking was: What could God possibly tell me that these professionals didn't already know? Hadn't He equipped them with knowledge as part of His divine plan? Couldn't I just bypass that personal "seeking" part? What I learned was: While nothing is wrong with seeking the help of experts and professionals, they can never take the place of praying to God for direction first. 

So I tried. Really. really. hard. To find the "answers" to help my daughter. I tried until I was all tried out. I was defeated. Finally, at my wit's end, I sought Him. I prayed.

God, what is your will for my daughter's life?

Although I did not get immediate answers or see the skies part and hear a thundering voice from above, over time I began to understand. God's ways are not our ways. What did not make sense to me in the here and now over time began to make sense. I can look back now and understand the guiding hand of God. Without the failings of one school situation, we would not have been led to find another school which has proven to be one of the biggest blessings in our lives. And without being forced to try new and different hobbies and outlets, Sara Ashley may never have found her true passions of horseback riding, art, and the outdoors.

And although I can admit that some things will never make sense, my faith and trust has grown as I have continued to seek God through prayer and personal relationship. I have seen God support me and our child in her circumstances. So now, when I don't understand, I still trust in His innate goodness and His promise that He will never leave or forsake me(Deuteronomy 31:8). I trust that it is His desire to give each of us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Looking back now, Denise also sees that God's plans for her son's life, as well as her own, were for her good. In leaving behind her obsession with researching her son's disability, she found a renewed relationship with her daughter, a new doctor who skillfully guides her family on how to help their son, and a new calling in a large church production that gives God glory.

These days, I am still confusingly amused by my daughter at times. Don't we all feel that way about our kids now and then? Thankfully, with God in charge, I don't have to understand everything. I simply have to seek Him and know that His guiding hand is leading the way.