Finding Strength as a Special Needs Mom

weights-646496_1920I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit

in your inner being.

—‬Ephesians‬ 3‬:16‬ (NIV)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

 

Probably the one thing that I have lacked most often during my life as a special mom is strength. You wouldn’t know it, because I have a strong demeanor. I typically appear unshaken by what the world throws at me and unmoved by disappointment or setbacks.

I’m not a basket case or a bundle of nerves. But there have been so many days since my baby’s diagnosis when I have felt very weak. Seventeen years later, I can tell you that just this week after a failed dental visit, my “inner being” became a deflated balloon.

In Ephesians 3, Paul is not referring to physical strength. He is encouraging his friends to have the strength to remain in Christ. This is the strength and power to comprehend and then faithfully remember the depth of Christ’s love for us. That is the supernatural power that is required when we are weak on the inside. The apostle writes of something that often goes unmentioned and unacknowledged. There is a great depth of weakness that can occur on the inside, while the outside keeps up appearances. There are times when it feels like keeping our faith intact is too hard. Carrying on as if there is a good God who is looking down on me lovingly, watching over me, and blessing me…sometimes I feel as though I may not have the fortitude it takes to keep that up. That’s OK. It’s the reason for Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. Thank God we have this letter so that we know we are not alone; our generation is not the first to deal with such weakness. Ephesians 3:16 is what we have as a help so that we can buck up and regain the strength we need. This promise is what I can read every single morning and know that if I simply close my eyes and ask for strength and power, the Lord will renew and refresh me. I have found supernatural strength in the midst of the darkest moments, not on my own, but by recalling this one promise.

Feelings of weakness and defeat are things that will definitely come calling over and over. Issues with my 6 foot tall sweet teenage son are no less likely to surprise or challenge my resolve than they were at the start.  However, those feelings of weakness and defeat are easier to overcome, each time, the sooner I remember that I have a promise of strength and power for my inner being.  God’s glorious riches are more than enough fuel for my spirit, and they are available to me at all times.

 

Are your emotions convincing you of a different story? Read Ephesians 3:16–19

aloud to yourself. Tell your emotions they don’t get the final say; rather, God’s

Spirit in your inner being will be in charge of your mind and heart today. That is the

place where, when all else is weak, you have glorious riches of strength. Tap into that

strength and find the power you require.

 

Originally written for Key Ministry.  Click here to read the post on their website.

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The Question we all ask

thinking-2725279_1920And his disciples asked him, saying, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
John 9:2-3, KJV

In just a few weeks I will be traveling to Haiti, for the purpose of ministering to the parents of children with special needs. There is no blog post for them to subscribe to, no website or Facebook group to join for their child’s specific condition or disability. It is a world I, as yet, cannot even fathom for a family like mine.

Their greatest challenges for raising a child with disabilities in a third-world environment are not the physical ones. I mean — the physical hurdles are gigantic: no running water or electricity, sleeping on a mud floor, walking as the only means of transportation. Just take a minute and consider the accommodations your child requires and figure out how you would do it in those conditions. But I imagine the mental, emotional and spiritual hurdles are even greater. The culture in Haiti commonly holds that birth defects are curses, and babies born cursed are more often than not abandoned. So the stigma and scarlet letter that those families carry around with them, combined with virtually no support or assistance available in the community, must exact a great toll on their hearts and minds.
As I studied and prepared my heart for the trip, God brought to my attention the story in John of the man, born with a disability – blindness. The disciples were curious as to whose fault it was that he was born disabled. I became aware, through my studies, that this belief of a birth defect being a “curse” has been around since Bible times, and even the Jews had a variety of beliefs about those being born ill or disabled, and all of them were negative and held a stigma that went far beyond the disability itself.


Jesus cut through all their misinformation and false beliefs in an instant. And His words can cut through any doubts or questions we may still have today. “WHY?” Is not an ancient question, nor one asked only by the uneducated minds of a third-world country. We ask, in our hearts, all the time. We encounter family members, church members, and people at large who ask the same question. Maybe not out loud, or by making bold accusations, but the question is asked in hearts, all the time.


“…but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Jesus completely avoids the conversation about cause. He goes straight to the purpose behind it. One might read the story and say, “Sure. So that he could be standing there and be healed by Jesus, so miracles could be seen.” But then what about my son? As of this day, my child has not been healed. So then, where are the works of God? I did a search on that term “works of God” and found every instance in the Bible where it was used. Do you know it was never used of miracles or physical healing? In the Old Testament it was used to label creation. And in the New Testament — every single time — it referred to salvation.


Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 (NIV)

You see, the more I studied this story, this man, his parents and neighbors, and the response of Jesus, it became abundantly clear. The reason that disability, physical defects, special needs are allowed to be present, is for the salvation of mankind. For God’s perfect love and perfect plan of sending Jesus to redeem us, to be seen in the world. The man’s blindness wasn’t allowed simply for the show of a healing miracle. It was for the purpose of a lasting transformation in his life and many many others. All the neighbors, family members and religious leaders who would see him would not be entertained, but rather they would be SAVED.

 

What if, instead of looking for healing, we were looking for salvation? What if we viewed our call as parents and our child’s call as one to spread the “works of God”? If I view my son’s life in that aspect, I believe he has already fulfilled that purpose many times over. I see the difference he has made in the lives around him. I see hearts softened and turned towards Christ. This is the message I will take to Haiti with me, the message of salvation. And It is also the message I will turn my focus to here at home. By shifting my perspective to the eternal purpose that we are each called to, I can now see my son as much more typical than I did before. I can see that he is perhaps much more successful than most kids his age, in accomplishing his call. I don’t need to know what happened to cause the genetic disorder, but I am certain of why God allowed it, and that empowers me to take up the call more emboldened than ever before.
I believe in healing. I believe it is possible today, just as when Jesus walked the earth. I believe that God can heal my son today, in the blink of an eye.  I want to be careful to point out I’m not suggesting for a moment that any of us stop expecting miracles.  But make no mistake that the greatest miracle of all is salvation.  And all that God allows, or heals, is for that purpose.


A prayer for today: Lord, I have so many questions and things I don’t understand. Help me, today, to shift my focus on the answers that you ARE providing. There is a clear path you have designed for us, and I need your help walking it out. Give me the confidence to follow where you lead, and the boldness to know that you have a divine plans for your works to be made manifest in my child’s life.

Get yourself some “but” 

But we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever…. Hebrews 6:19-20a

The most comforting thought I can conjure, is that God’s plan for my life is to give me hope and a future. Lots of people quote Jeremiah 29:11 because of it’s promise of prosperity or protection. I must say that as a mom whose baby’s future is so uncertain, hope is that one thing I can’t do without. there are days of setbacks and challenges when I can’t imagine one good reason to get out of bed! Hebrew 6:19-20 says “But We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” I emphasize the word “but” there because it is actually one of my favorite words in the Bible. (super weird, let me explain)
I love how the authors of the Bible used that little conjunction over and over again: they spell out a dire situation, a negative prognosis, a disaster waiting to happen, and then they write my favorite three letters “but”. Everyone from David, to Queen Esther, to the new testament apostles had their “but” moments. I like to think of having Hope as always having a “but”! Praise the Lord, I can recite for you endless stories of how things looked bad, but God. Let me make clear that this applies to every area of our life. Having a special baby impacts everything. The ripple effect of a diagnosis rocks it all. Some of my “buts” include: 

  • My marriage was almost over, but God redeemed it. 
  • Our financial crisis was about to drown us, but God made a way for us to overcome. 
  • My child was given a life sentence of despair, but God substituted it for a life filled with joy.

Because all things work together for the good of those who love God, our marriage crisis actually made us so much stronger. The financial crisis pushed us to Biblical financial wisdom that changed our future. The genetic disorder that should have stolen my child actually gave me one that was more than wonderful. 
There is always hope in Jesus, because we are guaranteed that every situation has a “but”! There is an anchor for my soul, which makes it firm and secure. Jesus is my high priest forever, which means He is my perpetual “way where there is no way”, He is always the answer to every unknown. He covers me, provides for me, intercedes for me in advance, before I am ever even aware of a need. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Lean In: Whatever you are facing today, try writing it down or saying it outloud not with a period at the end of the sentence, rather conclude with these three letters and a few leading, promising, hopeful dots: but…..

Why Me?

EVERY special needs mom has thought this, said this, prayed this at some point.  It’s human nature to wonder why something so unusual, so challenging, so beyond the norm, would befall me.  What did I do to deserve this? Why would God think I could handle this? Why can’t I just have normal stuff happen to me and my family?

Asking “why” doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a child with special needs.  It just means I wish I could understand what God sees in this situation.  I don’t know your story, but I have good news – I can answer your “why”. Continue reading

SOLES FOR HAITI

I am so excited to share with you about my upcoming trip to Haiti!!! I will be visiting a very special ministry, called Footprints of The Son.  Footprints is a school and outreach for children with special needs.  The Ministry goes far beyond education, and encompasses the health and well-being of the student, plus care for the family members who have chosen the difficult path of raising a child with special needs in an impoverished and challenging environment.  The idea of a mom, grandma, aunt or sibling caring for a disabled child in such a difficult place has changed me forever.  As I ponder my own struggles to raise an exceptional child, in this great country, with the many resources and blessings that we have at our disposal, my heart aches for those who face much more impossible odds than I can imagine.  Please read my posts Special Priviledge and  Why Me  for more about WHY this ministry is so important to me.

So I’ve decided to visit them! To take the same message of joy, peace and hope for special needs parents that I write about here, to these sweet ones in Haiti.  But in addition to the words, I want to take something tangible to the families and parents that will bless their daily life.  The request I received was for Flip Flops! Yes, the same flip flops that we wear a few times and lose at the beach, or leave laying around.  They are the shoe of choice for adults in Haiti, and a good pair is hard to come by.  So I will be taking 150 pair of new, high-quality, durable flip flops to distribute to all the caregivers of the 80+ students at Footprints of the Son!

I NEED YOUR HELP!
 I would like you to send me a pair (or two) of flip flops for my trip!

  • They should be durable and new.
  • Men’s or Women’s adult sizes 7-10.
  • Recommended stores: Old Navy, Gap, Walmart & Target
  •  Drop them in a bubble padded envelope and send them through the US Mail for just a couple of bucks!
  • Mail them BY END OF AUGUST
  • Melanie Gomez, 18331 Pines Blvd, #200, Pembroke Pines, FL 33029

Any questions or other information you need – please post it in the form of a comment at the bottom of this post and I will get right back to you 🙂 Thank your friends!

 

Water into Wine

Raise your hand if the picture of wine is what got your eyes to stop on this post – no, wait, don’t raise your hand! LOL  Has anyone else noticed there are more and more posts about moms and wine.  I think I see more posts with a mom and her wine, than I do with and mom and her kids.  School must be out for the summer!

Well don’t worry, this isn’t a commentary on the new trend of wine moms.  But, because wine is so “in”, it caused me to stop and listen carefully to the lyrics of a brand new song by Hillsong (Water to Wine*).  The lyrics are beautiful, and implore Jesus to “turn this water into wine” from the story of his first miracle in the Gospels (see John 2:1-11).  It’s a really cool miracle but never really struck me on the same level as healing the blind and lame, or raising the dead back to life.  But as I spent some time listening to the song, I turned my thoughts to why Jesus would turn water to wine.  Continue reading

It’s All About ME

Anybody else have one of those friends who, no matter what you start the conversation with, whether a problem, or good news, or a current event  –  it always ends up being about her?  You could call and say “my grandma just died” and within 4 minutes you’d be hearing a story about how hard it was for her when her grandma died.   You run into her at church and when you mention that you want her to come see your new car, she ends up boring you with stories of her own car search.  She can neither celebrate or comfort you, because it’s all about her!  Not much of a friend at all, so I am wary to say to you today: My blog is all about ME!

There is currently a huge backlash in the blogging/social media world against moms who post about their children with special needs. Really mean accusations are flying at moms who chronicle their child’s struggles, or disclose challenges their child faces.  The accusers point out that revealing private information about one’s child, without the child’s explicit permission, is abusive and simply for the purpose of the parent’s own self-promotion.  So again I point out: this post, my blog, all my writing and public speaking are about ME!

Why? Why would I dare be the girl who wants to talk about me? Why would I make myself the center of my discourse? The answer is found in the book of Revelation:

And they overcame and conquered (the one who accuses them) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony. – Revelation 12:11

the Bible tells us that the sacrifice Jesus made for us, combined with the word of our testimony, is the key to overcoming.  Therefore, I must write about my journey.  I must speak to others about the challenges I face and how the Lord has rescued me from them.  How His grace has supplied all my needs, and calmed all my fears.  I’m not writing for pity, for excuses, or even to entertain.  I want you to know that I put words to paper (well, to screen) so that one other mom might know that there is hope, peace, joy and salvation.

For this reason, you will soon see promotions for my upcoming book! Yep! Congratulations, you’re the first to know.  The book is already through the final stages of editing and shortly will be published and available for purchase or download.  Will you read some details about my son’s diagnosis and struggles? Yes you will.  But be certain the book is not about him.  Being a special needs mom, you see, is not about the special needs child.  It may feel like it, or look like it, but it isn’t.  It is about the mom.  She is the special one I am targeting.  She is the one with whom I desire to share the “word of my testimony” and whose own testimony will, one day, touch others.  So please stay tuned, make sure you “like” my Facebook page, and most of all, be encouraged by my testimony to know that you can overcome.

My impression of a bathroom “selfie” LOL

 

Special Momma, the Choice Is Yours

When you receive a diagnosis for your child it is usually in the form of medical reports.  The full Doctor’s report gets sent home with you, along with plenty of supporting documentation.  In our case, the geneticist sent us home with medical journal reports that outlined all of the possible (terrible) characteristics or symptoms that would accompany our son’s genetic anomaly.  He was just an infant, but the reports painted a bleak outlook for his future.

Our choice that day, and every day since for the past sixteen years, was:  upon  which report would we base our lives.  We could treat this infant as if he were already a disabled person, who would be defined by the limits and difficulties described in the reports.  Or, we could believe the report in Psalms 127 that says children are an inheritance of the Lord.  And the report in Psalms 139 that says that He has knit us together in our mother’s womb and we are fearfully and wonderfully made – all of us.

I’m not talking about being delusional, or living in a state of denial.  We are aware of the challenges that our little guy faced, and still faces.  But we have taken our example from the book of Numbers, when Moses sent out twelve spies to report on the land the God had promised them. Ten of them came back with a really negative report about the challenges to be faced.  But two of the spies saw beyond challenges.  All twelve agreed it was a land better than any they had seen before with wonderful fruit.  But only two spies understood that all the blessings and treasures were completely worth the price of a few obstacles.  Further, they insisted, the Lord would surely help them overcome.  Unfortunately the masses went with the ten spies, fearing the battle that would be required for such a wonderful prize.

So we base our lives on God’s promises – His report.  Just as in the example of the Israelite spies, the prize has certainly been worth the battles.  Yes, battles there have been aplenty.  But the reward, the treasure, and the promised land are exactly as reported!  Our son may have similarities to the original medical reports, but if I’m being honest he is much more accurately described by those Psalms.   It’s a choice we make every day, and in the face of every set back and situation.  You are just one choice away from a really good report! Won’t that be nice for a change?

melaniegomez3

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. (This post was recently revised, on my 49th!)  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

Running or Just Running Around?

H”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

It’s Time to get over your Perfectionism

“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

When being a joyful mom doesn’t make sense

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 Striking Similarity between Special Needs moms and a Queen

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

Perfect Timing (it’s not a thing)

Two years ago 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

Courage to Keep Up the Daily Grind

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