Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to Redefine Special. Whoever you are, and why ever you’re here, I’m glad that you found this spot.

I began writing years ago, sensing that it was important to chronicle my journey as the mom of a special needs child. That journaling, which began on a PC the size of an ATM machine, continued in spurts for many years.  Only recently did I take the giant leap of publishing my experiences, one small blog post at a time.

This blog is titled Redefine Special, because that is where my journey took me.  After the initial highs and lows (and more lows) of having a special child, a great hope, joy and peace eventually broke through.  It broke out over everything in my life. I truly had an awakening to what Special is.  It’s not a burden to bear, a hardship to contend with, or even something to just accept. The definition of special has been changed by our society and put in “air quotes”  – to be used as a euphemism for less than, undesirable, or outcast.  My journey brought me  back to the original, true definition of the word: extraordinary and particularly valued.

I am writing each post for that one other special mom out there, who thinks she just has to accept her struggle in life, and deal with it.  No sister!  Follow along with me and you will see, you are so exceptionally gifted in this life.  YOU, too, are special!

If you’re not that mom should you read on? Well, apparently YES! The most unexpected part of sharing my story has been the people who are affected by it.  Men, women, moms, dads, college kids.  People from every walk of life have taken a moment to tell me they are so touched, changed, or challenged by the posts.  Because it is a true story of God’s mercy and grace, it is an encouragement to all.

Browse through my posts, which are listed in the left-hand column, or on the home page, just scroll down below this post to see my most recent posts.  If you are impacted or challenged by any of them, please leave a comment! You can read the background story of my son’s diagnosis on the page called “Why I’m writing this blog.”  I would definitely suggest going back in time to my first few posts if you’re looking to find your own redefinition of something (start at the bottom of my list of posts).

Special Priviledge

I would like to confess to you a recent realization: I am the product of Special Needs Privilege.  You’ve heard all kinds of privileges being thrown around as accusations lately, but this one is probably not at the top of the list.  However, I’m now fully aware that such a thing exists, and I’m one of its victims.   Continue reading

Just Keep Swimming

You know that scene in Finding Nemo where Dory and Marlin are swimming  deep into a bottomless, dark cavern?  Marlin, Nemo’s Dad,  has no idea where they’re going or what will happen next, yet his friend Dory is happily singing “Just Keep Swimming!”  The two of them together sum up my special mom split-personality perfectly.  Some days I am overwhelmed by changes, unsure of where I’m going and what will happen next.  But other days, when I’m at my best, I can happily sing to myself, “just keep swimming!”

This past month has been chock full of changes: Continue reading

when i’m 50….

I’m thinking about my age, as you can see from today’s title.   Since it’s my birthday, my actual, chronological age cannot be avoided or denied.  I’m 48.  But I must admit that most of the time I live my life feeling like I’m somewhere in my late 30’s (anyone else?)  I honestly forget that I’m “pushing” the big Five-Oh! Over the past few months, however, the impending half-century mark has been on my mind. A lot. Continue reading

The (awkward) Mother’s Day Spotlight

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

Mother’s Day is upon us!!!  As a mom, it’s MY holiday.  “Mom” is probably the deepest, most powerful identity that you could find buried inside of me.  Giving birth to my children changed me in powerful, miraculous ways and that label is branded on my heart forever: “mom.” Continue reading

Waterfalls and Grace

Psalms 42:7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

I’m a little old school, so I’ve been hesitant to go all-in with Facebook and other social media “relationships”.  I define friends as people who I’ve met in person, and over time developed lots in common with via shared experiences. But it’s 2016. I am currently collaborating on a book with a woman I’ve never met! It’s a new and curious experience to encounter people online whose passions, experiences and mission align so strongly with my own.  I’m not sure of where she lives, no clue of her favorite food or TV show.  But nonetheless, I now count her, and several other FB strangers, among my friends.  

I recently submitted our diagnosis story for the new book she is writing, and she edited the heck out of it – LOL! Truly she’s a fantastic editor, I’d love to send her everything I write, but I feel that would wear the friendship thin pretty quickly.  Within her editing, however, she highlighted one sentence and commented: “I absolutely love this sentence!!!! Wow. Such a powerful thought, and worthy of a blog post all on its own.” Continue reading

Running or Just Running Around?

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding” Psalm 119:32 NIV

if there’s a one word description of my daily/weekly life, it’s running. Now before you get the wrong impression, let me make clear I am NOT a “runner”. I don’t lace up running shoes and head out with my headphones and bouncy ponytail – I see those women all over town and admire/envy them – they’re adorable. I’m talking about running around. Racing from one thought to the next, multi -tasking at light speed between multiple coinciding responsibilities, and our car keeping these winter roads hot between therapy appointments, story time, group activities, meetings, etc.  Most moms I know are this kind of runner. Special needs moms just replace the usual running to soccer practice or ballet with doctors, therapies, medications, behavior crisis, etc. Continue reading

Pickles and Perfection

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:41-42

pickle jar


The jar of pickles in this picture reminded me of the most important lesson that this perfectionist-natured person has ever learned.  Perfect is over-rated.  Not only is perfect over-rated, but I’ve truly learned that when life is perfect, you miss out on all the best stuff. Continue reading

Santa Claus Forever! (revised re-post)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Hear me out.  I know that the holidays seem loaded with landmines for special kids.  They bring questions, uncertainties, health or emotional crises, party/travel/gift anxieties, or even uncomfortable interactions with well-intentioned family members. I’ve been there, friend, my special guy is about to experience all the highs and lows of his sixteenth Christmas.   Continue reading

Here’s Not Here

If I admit something to you that you may find shocking, or at least slightly inappropriate, do you promise to still be my friend? Here it is: I love “The Walking Dead” tv show! My guys got me into it during the first season and I’m hooked.  OK, you promised, so now you have to keep reading.  This blog isn’t about zombies or guilty pleasures. But the title, “Here’s Not Here” is a quote by one of the main characters this season.  It’s how he deals with the reality around him of a post-apocalyptic world.

My latest revelation in the special mom journey, is realizing that – for all those early years, the struggle-to-comprehend years, the more-questions-than-answers years – Here’s not Here.  Let me explain, with the help of my (least) favorite prophet, Jeremiah. Continue reading

It’s a Party! (is she drunk?)

Here I sit, in the Easter Seals lobby.  Extra large Miami Dolphins coffee mug in hand, laptop in front of me, headphones on with Israel & Newbreed’s latest song “My Strength” blasting in my head phones.

“You’re the joy no one can take away, You’re the peace inside I can’t explain! You’re the strength I need, you will always be my strength!”

I will admit to you that I am openly dancing in my seat!  Honestly, these people are lucky I have enough self-control to not be clapping or, worse, singing along. So much joy right now.

I am not in a party environment. The joy level here is zero.  The parent/guardian/caregiver faces are not celebratory.  The whispered conversations seem foreboding.  I wonder if the passer-bys think maybe my coffee mug has a little whiskey in it for good measure. Continue reading

The Royal Me

Life as a special needs mom is about as far away from Royalty as you can get! Remarkably, however, I have found great wisdom within Esther’s pages.  How on earth could I identify with a queen?  Well, first of all, Esther wasn’t born a queen.  She started out as a regular girl with a less than glamorous, even less than average, life.  Then, she kept running into extremely unlikely circumstances.  Every step of her journey was completely atypical for someone like her.  (sounds more familiar now, right?) Yet God designed each of those steps specifically for a great purpose she could have never fathomed. Continue reading

5 Things Pre-Natal Testing Wont Tell You 

Not for the first time, I find myself comforting a pregnant momma whose doctors have diagnosed a problem with her unborn child. Prenatal tests and needles have determined her child to be imperfect – medical opinion agrees that termination would be in the family’s best interest. I’ve experienced these conversations before: the doctor provides all of the medical and cognitive complications that very likely will be present at birth. The uphill battle that will ensue for the child to survive, and the imperfections that will remain. I have no issue with doctors presenting the facts for parents to make an informed decision. Families make these impossible decisions every day. My only issue is that doctors cannot inform any parent completely. Their prognosis has no way to include extremely important facts that parents should know. Continue reading

Perfect Timing (one-year anniversary post!)

One year ago today I hit “publish” on my first blog post.  As soon as I did, something occurred which could never be un-done.  I stepped into a new landscape which I had contemplated for several years.  I had delayed that moment for so long, because I had not found the perfect timing for it….and I still haven’t.

In honor of the anniversary of making that giant leap, today’s post is about one of the great myths of our generation: Perfect Timing.  So many of my friends are currently struggling with the pull or desire to do something or change something, but the perfect timing just won’t present itself.  Anyone, in any season of life, can succumb to this vicious cycle, but the special needs mom is perhaps most prone to be defeated by the “I wish I could, but I can’t right now” thought process. Continue reading


Each and every post I write has the same foundation: Redefining the word Special.  Seeing that “Special” really is special has changed my life, and has helped me see many other things with a completely new perspective as well.  Today I’m talking about redefining, or at least expanding our definition of  COURAGE.

“Be strong and courageous” – How many times have I heard sermons or teachings on these four words from the Bible?  We recently spent an entire month teaching this theme to our Elementary kids sunday school class.  This is one of the overarching messages in the Old Testament for the people of God.  Joshua received this emphatic commission before embarking on his epic adventures.  King Hezekiah used it in his speech delivered to the people of Jerusalem on the eve of invasion by the Assyrians. But only recently did I discover this instance:

“Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Dont be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

Continue reading

Who’s in Charge?

“Jesus take the wheel” by Carrie Underwood is playing on an endless loop in my head as I contemplate this post (and now it’s stuck in your head too. You’re welcome).  Although it’s a sappy country song, I adore her voice, and I love that chorus. What better response to out-of-control situations in our life? Whenever I feel like I’m in a tailspin, whirlwind or just plain mess, I probably can look down and realize that I’ve totally lost control.  Spending a few days this week at a large gathering of special needs families, I was reminded very clearly about the importance of who is in charge. Continue reading

The “M” Word

As you may know by now, I frequently contribute blog posts to a site called TheMighty.com.  It’s a cool site designed to form a community of individuals with special needs or disabilities where acceptance and understanding take place, and stigma is erased.

They send out a monthly request for stories, with specific topics or assignments.  Recently the topic was “Marriage and Special Needs”.  I immediately began formulating my response to this request – I am, after all, married.  Sounded like a slam-dunk project.

As I wrote, I kept adding more and more disclaimers, apologies, and caveats to the piece.  Among my personal friends who are special moms, several are divorced.  I have witnessed their struggle, their hard work, their perseverence, and their anguish over every challenging decision.  They were so forefront in my mind as I wrote, I was almost ready to cancel the whole thing.  I would never ever want those lovely ladies to think that I was somehow judging their provision for their child as less-than.

But then, it struck me.  I was apologizing for being married.  I was bending over backwards to disqualify my marital status.  And that won’t do.  My BFFs know I love them, and love their parenting, whether single or married, so I pulled out all the apologies,  wrote the article and hit “send” before I could re-read it and change my mind.  Continue reading

The OTHER Special One

My heart today is overflowing with gratitude for God’s gift to me of the most special boy. I can’t even describe to you the stark difference between who I was before he came into my life, and who I am now.  The world would call him my “typical” son.  Oh – that is so mistaken! Continue reading

My ONLY post about golf, ever!

OK, here it is.  The one millionth blog post about Jordan Spieth since Sunday.  What?  you, my dear friends who spent Sunday afternoon doing laundry, DONT know who that is? Well, that’s ok.  Neither did I. Continue reading


Recently while perusing my Facebook stream, I gave my usual overly dramatic eye roll to some quiz about how you rate yourself.  Pa-LEASE! Who has time for those stupid quizzes? Then, of course, I quickly gave myself a mental rating without having to suffer through the quiz. (You now can give ME an overly dramatic eye roll).  Disclaimer – I do not often lack self-confidence – my initial rating was pretty high.  My initial response to any challenge is usually positive and self-assured (you know, glass half full!). But then later that day, alone with my thoughts, I became aware of how poorly I was rating myself on a variety of fronts, throughout the day.  You see when I examine the motives of my heart, and weigh all that I know to do versus all that I do, I can be very negative on how I “rate”. Continue reading

You’re Fired!

Dear “Chromosome 8p duplication & deletion”:

This letter is to inform you that we have decided to let you go.  We are aware that when the geneticist originally assigned you to our family, by strapping you around our second child at only 6 months of age, she indicated that you would be with us for life.  However, we’ve decided to go in another direction. Continue reading