Perfection.

Perfectionism.

A destroyer and a thief.

An accuser.

Imposes deceitful belief.

Condemns.

Has no end.

Things will never be good enough.

It will always be this rough.

To try,

To make things right.

The fight,

Leaves you feeling insufficient,

Like you’ve failed.

Get back up.

You are proficient.

You are down,

But not forever.

Perfectionism.

It is time to sever

The fear and skepticism.

Take courage,

To not be perfect today.

You are better that way.

Be good.

Be great.

Be Mighty and proud.

But perfect?

Disallowed.

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6 Simple Realistic Self Care Ideas: From a Special Needs Mom.

So, we have all seen the lists of things that include suggestions like, get a massage, get a mani pedi, take a yoga class. Not that there is anything wrong with these, but if you are anything like me, I have gift certificates sitting in my wallet for things like this and never get around to claiming them! As a special needs parent, part time working, mom with anxiety, finding the time and the planning for these things just rarely works out. I spend most of my time managing insurance phone calls, therapy visits and scheduling, drop offs, pick ups, and trying to be a present and somewhat pleasant wife. So, I have found that if I lower my expectations a little bit, there can be some very simple things that do actually fit into my schedule here and there. Small things, done consistently, can have a big effect on feeling like I have been able to pay attention to things that make me feel good, in the midst of this normally chaotic period of life.

1. I paint my nails.

Forget about the salon. I don’t frankly have the time or money for that. But, I do love to get creative with my nails every now and then. I like to try a funky different color, unique hand crafted design nail art like stripes or half and half color,or even just a classic color like red. Pretty nails go a long way in feeling good. When my nails are painted nicely, I find that throughout the next few days, looking down at my hands, in the middle of the stormy situation I may be in, makes me feel a level of satisfaction in that moment.

Side note: on the contrary side of things. If you have done your nails weeks ago, and it is to the point now where it’s chipping off and looking horrible, self care might be the exact opposite. Get some nail polish remover and take off the old stuff! Just cleaning up the mess, so to speak, feels really good. Something about restoring the neatness of natural nails after sporting a chipped mess for days can also feel really accomplishing.

2. I take a shower with a nice smelling soap or shower gel.

I know, some self care lists say things like grab a book and pamper yourself with a bubble bath filled with rose petals. I do not have time for that! Instead? I take advantage of whatever time I do have to get a shower in during the week. Exotic fruity fragrances are super revitalizing, especially ones that includes citric scents. Floral scents can be soothing and romantic feeling. These don’t have to be expensive. Your local store’s generic brands will do just fine to invigorate your mood, and the cheaper your buy, the more scents you can experiment with until you find one you love. Trust me, after a minute or two breathing in a lovely scent while at the same time getting a shower in, is a double bonus for your mood!

And, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. Got enough time to shave? That’s an extra self care perk! Feels really good for that first day to have clean shaven smooth legs again. Whatever floats your boat. Whatever you have time to squeeze in and makes you feel good.

Side note: Some days just taking a shower at all is self care for me. Some days, just brushing my teeth is self care for the day.

3. I use my scented oils and diffuse them at bed time.

This one can be a little pricey, but there are memberships to get discounts, or you can find them individually on Amazon or at a healthcare supply website. I joined an essential oil company to get the 25% off my purchases for the year. Since I use essential oils with my kids and myself, it was worth it. But, I digress. This is about SELF care, not child care. I have enjoyed diffusing lavender, On Guard (which helps kill germs), and wild orange. (The last one came as a free bonus with my first order. SCORE)! I also use lavender blend called Serenity, and an essential oil muscle relaxer roller, to ease the tension in my neck and shoulders, before I hit the pillow. God knows how parenting can cause all sorts of tension, especially special needs parenting.

Bonus? If you forget to do it one night, or don’t have the energy, the pillow winds up slightly scented and will still give you the relaxing effect the next night!

4. I do something nice or creative with my hair, clothes, or makeup.

Nowhere fancy to go? No problem. Go try on that sexy dress you haven’t worn in ages. Put on the sexy shoes you haven’t worn since before kids. Watch a you tube tutorial on curling, styling, or straightening your hair in a new way, or a step by step ‘how-to’ of make up application tips. So what if you are the only one who winds up appreciating it. Be forewarned though. It sometimes takes several tries to really master the look you are youtubing. Trust me, don’t despair if you look more like a clown than a cover girl your first couple of tries! Bonus? It gives you practice so you can do it faster when you are actually gonna go somewhere nice. Your skills will improve, and if done well, it makes you feel good. Plus, it makes for a great selfie. If not? Something fun to try again a another night.

Side note: Sometimes self care is the exact opposite. On these days, it might look like just wearing the coziest sweatpants you own, after taking off yesterday’s makeup and the cute jeans that are just a little too tight now. Cuddle with yourself on the couch with that warm fuzzy couch blanket you haven’t washed in ages. Enjoy it, guilt free. These things are comforting, and self care, all the same.

5. Laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine they say. And it is so easy to find these days! Google funny memes. Laugh away. Listen to a comedy station on a subscription music channel like SeriusXM or Pandora. Search through Netflix/Hulu/Amazon stand up comedy shows, or just find ideas in their comedy genre lists. Some ideas? Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby.

I learned early in my journey with anxiety, that laughing does something to uplift the soul. Throughout my life, I have even kept written lists of things that I have found the funniest. It is hard to stay intensely sad, anxious, or mad, when you are in the middle of several good belly laughs. Sometimes, if your emotions are high, laughing turns to tears, of laughter, mixed with pain, mixed with more laughter. It is all ok. Laughter is still a feel good activity overall, which has been correlated with reducing stress and releasing endorphins.

6. Sing.

So simple. Find a radio station or music channel that plays your favorite kind of music, and belt it out, unafraid. Jump, dance, or scream, and sing, to songs that remind you of who you are and what makes you happy, or whatever helps you process emotions. This can happen while you drive, and/or pretty much anytime around your home. Try pulling up the lyrics, so you can really do it well. Feels really good to sing to a favorite song with all the right words.

Don’t know the lyrics? No problem! Sing the words all wrong. Still feels great!

The moral of the story.

Remember, the key is having realistic expectations here! I am a special needs mama after all, and I do not have the time to do many of the classic self care recommendations. However, I have found that the things on this list are easy enough to fit in. I do not expect them to happen every day, or to work out great all the time. But, fitting these things in is sure better than allowing months of stress to build up without paying attention to myself in a positive way. Self love and self appreciation are so important for everyone, and are especially needed for caregivers of others, including and especially, (special needs) mamas.

How do we Know We’re Making the Right Decisions for our Kids?

The simple answer is you really don’t. At least, you don’t ever know beforehand, that is. Last year, both of my sons had a hard year at school. I had a terrifically hard year as their parent. My oldest, Omar, got diagnosed with ADHD, shortly after my youngest, Lucas, was diagnosed with autism. Both were going to schools that really weren’t fully interested in meeting either of their needs. That left me feeling so stressed out, from the time I woke up, until the hours Id lay in bed. I’d ask myself. What is the right thing to do? How can I meet both of their needs? How do I know my choices are right? All I knew was what I was doing didn’t feel completely right. But, I didn’t know what would be better. We can be so scared to try something new that we stay in the ‘comfortable uncomfortable’ for way too long.

For me, it all started with not wanting to believe Lucas really had the level of special needs that he did. I remember the exact moment where the concept was even introduced to me that he might need more intense therapy than we had him in. At the time, we had him in 30 minute sessions twice a week of speech therapy, and one hour, once a week, with a special education teacher. She met with him at his day care to help him participate with the teacher’s group activities and play with friends. After his first speech therapy session, his provider walked with me and my son outside towards my car at the end of the session. I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of the school. Her words were coming in and out. All I could think about was getting to day care in time to get to work in time. I didn’t want a change. Uncomfortably comfortable is certainly better than the drastic unknown, right?

But, she went on. She told me, if I wanted what was best for him, it warranted the drastic change. Stop working. Working had honestly felt like my identity at this point. I liked what I did. I liked making money. I liked having things the way they were. She stood there suggesting that I drastically change everything. And, furthermore, was as bold as to say that “if I wanted what was best for Lucas,” I would make the changes necessary. Tears filled my eyes as I stood there looking at her. I didn’t want to hear the words. I didn’t want her to be right. She couldn’t be right. She had only spent thirty minutes with my son. How could she make such strong suggestions. She couldn’t have come to the right conclusion, surely. I wasn’t ready for it. After months of wrestling with the idea that I could really be doing Lucas a disservice to not improve the setting in which he was learning, my husband and I agreed to make the switch.

My steady work became random, per Diem, assignments. We entered the world of the unknown. In every single way imaginable. How will I parent this child well? What if I make mistakes? What if they are huge mistakes? What if they are mistakes that cost him a better prognosis than if I hadn’t made those mistakes? Decisions. Which therapies? How much? Ones that insurance doesn’t pay for? I hated the world of the unknown. I like having a clear plan. I want to know what is the best option and choose it. Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t offer that option. There is no one and only way to do it. Each child is unique, and so are my husband and I. We knew we had to figure out the best that we could come up with, and found solace in the fact that we could always re-work the schedule as needed throughout the year. And that’s what we did. We started out with full time preschool with a special needs teacher. At first it was decent. Lucas had 6 kids to one teacher in a class. Slowly, other kids entered the program until it was way too big for the teacher to manage well. Administration was not supportive of what the kids needed as individuals. Knowing it didn’t feel like the right decision made me sick. We decided to switch gears, and put him in full time ABA therapy, and reduce preschool hours.

For my son with ADHD, there was a constant battle of helping him feel good about himself in the middle of being reprimanded so frequently, due to his poor impulse control. Do we try medications? Do we begin behavioral therapy? Do we make a reward system? Will that help? We set up a meeting with his teachers and school psychologist. The result? “Omar is so far intellectually beyond the average kid his age or grade. Therefore, putting strategies in effect for him to perform at his best would be giving him an unfair advantage over the other students.” That’s when I realized, his school wasn’t going to fight for him, so I had to.

Change.

That is one thing I have had the hardest time with. Yet, this journey has forced me to learn how to cope with it. Things are going to change. No matter how much I do or don’t want them to.

This year, we tried something drastically different. I’ve learned by now, not to be afraid to try drastic. At least then, I can say I’ve tried everything available. My oldest son will be at the same school as my youngest, and for completely different reasons. My oldest will take on the challenge of being in a full-time gifted program to help keep him better engaged. He’s had to deal with a lot of change in his life; a big move from NY to FL, his brother’s brain surgery and autism diagnosis, a new school, and a major change in both parents’ work schedules. He is so inspirationally adaptable to change. As for Lucas, we decided to reduce his ABA hours significantly. This was tough for me. I used to see ABA as his best chance of learning the most, while his brain is still so teachable. But, darn that word again. Change. He will now be enrolled full time in the exceptional student Pre-K program, which will be a blended class of typical and special needs pre-K students. I have a good feeling about this year. I have a good feeling, because we have all grown so much in our ability to more boldly make decisions, assess what’s working and what’s not, and be able to seek the next step. We have learned not stay stuck in something that isn’t working.

So. Back to the question. How do you know that you made the right decision? Well you won’t know before time has passed. You may feel like you have, but that may change. And therein lies the answer. The only way to really be able to do the ‘right thing’ for your kids is to be open to change. Be open to the fact that a choice that worked then, might not work now. and vice versa. Be open when something isn’t going right. Be open that sometimes the scariest choice is the best one. Sometimes overcoming the fear of the unknown frees us to experience the wonderful we had been searching for all along.

This year, I am willing to take on change. I won’t let fear hold me back. If our best choices don’t work out, I will know that on the other side of that can be better ones. Only, if I am willing to accept change. The end of something is usually just the beginning of something else. And, as long as our family sticks together and is willing to make the necessary changes, then we can embrace this journey, with continued hope and anticipation of good things to come.

Finding Cooper’s Voice Submission. What I’d Say to Myself When my son was First Diagnosed.

Dear Sweet Mama,

If I could go back in time and hug you tightly, and promise you it was all going to be OK, I would. There are many things I’d say if I were face to face with you. But I’ll start with this.

You Will Get Passed the Diagnosis.

When the diagnosis is new, your vast range of emotions will be hard to sort through. You won’t know if you are happy that someone confirmed you weren’t wrong about the diagnosis, or if you are scared to death about what this will all mean. It’s OK. It’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to cry, scream, question why, feel bitter, and isolate yourself for a time. But don’t stay there mama. Please inch your way back out. There will be times where it will feel impossible. Hold on anyway. You and your little one will make it through. You are an All Star team together. You will inspire and feed off of each other’s accomplishments and strength along the way.

Autism Will Effect Your Marriage and Your Other Son.

You and your spouse are going to handle this entirely differently. Don’t give up on each other. You will want to get an immediate grip on things, spending endless hours researching autism: diets, therapies, doctors, insurance benefits. You will be hyper-vigilant, leaving no stone unturned. It will feel like you can change everything if you start services “early enough.” Is it early enough? Yet, your husband will seem unaffected by the diagnosis, in denial, maybe in shock. A barrier will grow between you, from the inability to grasp and articulate the difference in your emotions. Love each other through this.

Things will never be the same after the diagnosis. Should working parents stay home from now on? How will we coordinate all the pick ups and drop offs with all the new services? How can we maintain some semblance of stability for our older son, who will be dealing with this in his own way? The diagnosis will feel all-consuming, overwhelming. Remember, your husband and kids matter more than the diagnosis. Take time to sit down and be present in the moment with them.

Find Your Support Team.

You will need to find “your people.” The ones who “get it.” You might feel like you are drowning, but your team will help rescue you. They will give the most sincere and comforting “I understand” compassion you’ve experienced yet. Families with older kids have made it through this phase, and have invaluable information regarding available programs, special needs schools and therapies, and how to best advocate for your child. These things will constantly evolve, based on your child’s age and development. Your team will serve another purpose. They will remind you often of, perhaps, the most important thing. Your child is beautiful, and you are an amazing mama.

Perfectionism and Comparison.

You will need to throw away your perfectionism. Completely away. Perfectionism will stop you from fully accepting your child, and from forgiving yourself and your spouse a million times over. You can let it go. I promise. Take it one day at a time. Keep growing. You cannot control everything. That is OK. Who wants that sort of responsibility anyway?

It will serve you best to toss comparison out as well. Sibling to sibling. Your child to other people’s children. Your motherhood experience to others. When you see the posts about milestones other people’s kids reach, you may feel a renewed sense of sadness for what you and your child don’t have. Feel it. Then move forward. You have something just as special. You and your child’s list of accomplishments were hard worked for and well earned. Celebrate them!

Don’t lose sight of your son’s amazing strengths and unique abilities. Don’t get so obsessed with therapy and doctor visits that you forget your child is incredible. More than anything else, he just needs his mama’s unconditional love and praise. These things are simple to give. But not if you are too burned out.

Coordinating Your new Schedule.

I want to give you permission not to keep every single commitment. It is OK to cancel or reschedule a therapy visit, a doctor appointment, or even a planned event with family or a friend. Some days, rest, or keeping you and your child’s sanity, will be most important. It’s OK. Don’t feel guilty. Your best really is good enough.

Hold on to Hope.

Some of those milestones you fear will never come? Some of them will come! I promise. Don’t give up. Potty training? Effective communication/words? Making a friend? Hope for these things! Some of those small things? Dressing himself? Tolerating brushing his teeth? Staying at the table for most or all of a meal? They are possible. Hold on to hope. True, some of them might not come. But, some of the ones you thought could never come, they will. It will be as exciting as you hoped when it happens.

Love Yourself. (Breathe).

Patience has limitations. It will be tested repeatedly during this journey. You will often feel like you are alone and depleted. Breathe. Often. Stop. Close your eyes, and breathe. You will find the energy anyway. You will do everything you know how, and never give up. To be honest, you will feel like it sometimes. Forgive yourself. I am cheering you on from the stands, and giving you a standing ovation.

You Will Persevere on the Journey.

Finally, I want to remind you, that you and each member of your family are Rock Stars. You will climb mountains that you couldn’t even see the peaks of when this journey began. You will meet some of the most amazing people along the way, climbing their own mountains, teaching, loving, and inspiring you, and boosting you up along the way. You will do the same for other families. And, those mountains? You will look back from the top and finally grasp, this journey isn’t really impossible for you.

A Letter to my Son’s Therapists. Thank you for Everything you Do.

I bet when you have a name on your schedule letting you know you have a new evaluation, that you have no idea how much you’re really going to help. Sure, you probably know about your profession, and are likely skilled at the therapy you provide. But do you know how much else you help? Do you know that you are sometimes the only people I can talk to about what I’m feeling, what I’m going through, and what my son’s behaviors have really been like? Do you know that sometimes you’re the only one who believes the things I say have been going on with my kids? Do you know that sometimes I feel like you are the only other people who get my child, besides me? When we are here with you, we feel seen, valued, appreciated, taken seriously, like we are part of the team and not doing this alone. Do you know what that means to families who are raising a child with special needs? It means the world, in case you didn’t realize. Do you know that sometimes you give me the words I don’t even know how to put together to make sense out of what we’re going through? Do you know that you refresh our hope? I have a feeling that you got into your field because you might think you understand all this. I thought I understood it too, before my son was diagnosed with autism, being myself a physical therapist.

However, I suspect you may not understand the magnitude at which you help us. In case you didn’t realize, and even if you do, I want to tell you thank you. Thank you for seeing what my son can be capable of even before he’s even close to mastering the skill. Thank you for listening to the real answer when you ask how has the week been for you guys? Thank you for coming up with endless ideas and tips to make our struggles easier in every practical area of our lives. Thank you for genuinely caring above and beyond what your job would require. Thank you, because I can see the way my son touches your life in your smile and in your enthusiasm over his accomplishments. Thank you for never being intimidated by his wildest angriest tantrum. Thank you for making sense with him when he doesn’t have the speech for what he wants. Thank you for pushing him in a firm but gentle way to reach milestones we thought might never come. Thank you for teaching me when and how to push him to be better much more effectively.

Maybe you’ve heard ‘thank you’ before, and maybe you thought you knew why people said it. Just in case you didn’t understand the capacity of how much you actually help, I want you to know. Thank you for walking this journey with us. Thank you for helping both my son and me to overcome some very significant battles, some that other people don’t even understand we face. Thank you for not letting us do this alone. Thank you for not letting us get stuck in pity or defeat. Thank you for seeing us through the highs and the lows. Thank you for being consistent and persevering for us. Thank you for helping us find our courage. And, thank you for being the magnificent unseen heroes that you are.

We Finally Made it Around the Lake

It was a huge selling point from a real estate standpoint. We fell in love with the lake when we saw it. My husband pictured running around the lake, and I pictured family walks in the evening watching the sunset together. It was right across from a playground, both within two blocks from our house. No more winters with snow. No more packing up two kids into car seats to enjoy where we lived. We were moving from NY to Florida, and the lake was one of the most beautiful things we were looking forward to about our new neighborhood. We had put an offer on the house almost immediately after seeing it. After a counter offer, we accepted. Deal sealed, barring a few hiccups along the way. But, our beautiful new home that we had fallen in love with, and the lake, were going to be ours. And from the first moment we saw the lake, it entered into my heart and dreams as a symbol representing our great life ahead. Change was coming, but we knew this lake was going to be a landmark in our daily scenery, and the background of us raising our boys in our new life in Florida.

Before we could enjoy it however, back in NY, before we moved, panic began to settle in my thoughts. Panic. What if the baby (Lucas was 1 year old then) runs away to the lake? What if gator chases or tries to get one of my kids? Anyone who knows me won’t be shocked by my plan to address this. I educated Omar about alligator safety and had him practice reciting an escape plan and running in zig zags, which was what we had heard you do if a gator chases you. And, I signed up Omar for a Safety-Swim class to become completely competent at swimming before our move. I still felt the panic thinking ‘it’s too close to the playground. Lucas might wander off to it somewhere while we think he is safely in the playground.’

Eventually, these feelings settled, and I knew I just had to trust these things would work themselves out. But, just to be sure, I signed up Lucas for Survival Swim lessons. They were set to begin immediately upon our arrival to our new home in Florida! Feeling at peace again, that I had done my part in keeping my kids safe, we again felt the excitement of owning our own home in Florida.

When we arrived in our new home, reality set in. Florida is beautiful, but hot, rainy, and buggy. Slight hamper on our lake dreams, but, we still got to enjoy it greatly. There were the breathtaking colorful skies. Each evening, a different array of shades of pink, blue, purple, orange, yellow filled the sky. The sounds of the wildlife and birds that the lake attracted were a symphony we hadn’t known, having both been raised in the city.

But shortly after we moved to Florida, we went through a very hard season in our lives. Lucas began having seizures, and needed brain surgery. I stopped working outside of the home, to be with him, while he recovered from surgery. It would take time until we could figure everything out about how to move forward. The lake was still the background to this season in our lives. I’d bring Lucas around the lake. He’d sit in his stroller with a hoodie on his head and a pacifier in his mouth. We needed to cover his head to keep the scar protected from the sun. I had to do a fantastic job of convincing him to leave it on. He was two by now, and I felt guilty about the fact that he still used the pacifier. But he’d been through so much, and it made him happy.

The lake was my sanctuary outside of the house, where I had felt trapped. Aside from the lake, I stayed home, while the world went on just as it had before my world had changed. The escape from the house to sit on a bench while Lucas napped, or quietly looked around was my time. I had a moment of not being needed, while I sat at the bench once he fell asleep. There I read inspiring books about going deeper into my faith and relationship with God. We’d stay there, until older brother would come home from the bus stop.

My older son’s bus stop was across from the lake. I’d see the lake and birds in the background as he walked up to his bus from my car every morning. It was behind him as he ran down its steps and straight to my car excitedly. The lake was our scenery for nearly every school day for two years. We enjoyed the spring time especially, when all the baby cranes, ducks, and gators made their entrance into the world. Eventually, Omar had to start walking by himself, as things got harder with Lucas. But, I cherish that part of the season with Omar.

Then, there was the vulture season at the lake. For many months, the lake had dried up quite low and vultures feasted daily on dried fish and exposed eggs. The family walks were usually in the evening, and so were frequently accompanied by the sound of my alarm alerting me that my son’s seizure medication was due. Did we bring it with us? How fast can we make it back to give it to him on time? Did we remember bug spray? The dried up lake seemed to mirror the challenges we were facing.

Slowly, the lake and our family traditions came back to a more revitalized state. Omar and Lucas traveled together in their green motorized car that Santa had brought them, speeding happily around the curves, half on grass, half on sidewalk path. Other times, Omar would ride a scooter up ahead while Lucas stayed with me in the stroller. He’d always U-turn back on the scooter to reunite with us. Many nights I made a point to walk with Omar alone. He’d bring along a little sound machine to alert us of what kind of bird or duck we saw. We’d stop periodically at lakeside benches to look up random facts on google. Our alone time was such a highlight for me in the midst of difficult times. Thinking of it now, it’s been a while since Omar and I have had that.

The stories go on. Around the lake, Omar learned to ride his bike for longer and longer distances without help. He was persistent and he finally got it. Independent. Too far away from earshot to have conversations around the lake anymore. I still walked with with Lucas in the stroller. It was hard for me. Lonely. Lucas would be in his own world with the iPad. He’d have just gotten over screaming and fighting to go to the playground instead of the lake. One time he had even thrown his body out of the speeding little motorized car, while his brother was driving past the playground towards the lake. If I’m honest, it became miserable, and I was bitter. The lake became a symbol of something else I wanted that I couldn’t have. I wanted a simple family walk without major behaviors causing disunion and robbing me of my joy.

Time went by, and my husband suggested we give it another try. I resented him for suggesting it. It would be too hard. Not worth it. To be a good sport, I tried anyway. Mostly, it was as disappointing as I expected. Lucas ran away often, threw himself on the ground often, wanted nothing to do with my husband. But my husband tried to soothe him. Still, Lucas yelled, cried, made us stop and wait and bargain for him to get up off the floor and walk. Success seemed dependent on me giving more than I felt I had to offer. I just wanted things to be easier. The playground and the lake we loved were just too close together. Lucas would choose the playground over the lake every time. That made the lake seem impossible to enjoy.

But, last night.

Last night, we made it. Last night, we went for it. We were brave. We gave it another try. Omar rode his bike. Lucas walked with me, holding his leapfrog game and Catboy from PJ Mask. We had fun. We had joy. We had family time. However, I do miss Omar. Omar, as our relationship was before Lucas had autism. I often miss Omar while we are all together, because Lucas consumes so much of me to keep him safe. Omar went off on his bike, which he now knows how to ride alone pretty easily. I remember when Omar would cry and cry when I’d tell him to keep his foot on the pedal instead of immediately stepping to the ground when starting to lose his balance. Yet, there he was, accomplished in what he set out to learn, zooming clear around the lake on his own. And here was Lucas, giving our new dynamic a fair try. We finally did it. We made it all the way around the lake. No stroller. No Lucas on the floor. No unreasonable kicking and screaming. No out of control, anxious momma. And there was I, finally able to truly enjoy our lake, and family, again. It came from persistence and patience.

This lake has been a prominent figure and symbol through years of my life now. I am so glad we bought his house. I love this lake being the scenery to the seasons of our lives.

Where was God?

Sometimes you look back at a situation, and you don’t know how you even made it through. You look back and see all of the reasons why you thought you were not going to survive it. But that’s the thing about life. Eventually we get to look back. We get to see the end that we feared, the outcome.  But, faith is about holding on when we don’t know what the end is going to be. When the end seems like no other outcome is possible but disappointment and devastation, we must still have faith. Sometimes, we are so distraught about what we are going through that we don’t take a minute to see, at the mid point of the progress how far we have come. So I am making a point today to take note of how far we have come. I am making a point today, to give God all the glory for every blessing in the midst of this struggle. I am giving Him glory for never leaving us alone during this struggle. I am thanking Him today, because even though others can look back at our journey and ask, ‘where was God?’ I can look back and say that every single time I thought the end was near, God did something amazing to move us forward, and rescue us. Today I will remind myself. When the situation seems too big to face, and when the battle seems too hard to fight, and the hope is hard to come by, He has always been there working things out for good. And, He isn’t going to stop now.

In the last few years, the experiences that I thought were an unwanted STOP sign on all my heart’s desires, turned out to just be a signal rearranging us, and setting us on a new path. One far more challenging, and far more trying, but I know He has never left us unequipped for this road.

When we got the news about my 1 year old having a large arachnoid cyst in his brain that was pushing the right side across midline into the left side, and was going to need surgery, God sent us to an amazing neurosurgeon who immediately had a plan to correct the issue. When insurance tried to delay the surgery, God opened up the doors at an amazing children’s hospital so we could have the procedure sooner. When other doctors said that scar tissue can cover up the areas that the neurosurgeon fixed, God instead kept them open and flowing.

When I was desperate and sleepless in the hospital, He sent me plenty of encouragement  through messages from friends and family, and scriptures to hold onto.

When we got home, and I didn’t know how on earth I was going to be able, emotionally and physically, to clean the brain surgery scar across the right side of my son’s head, God steadied my hands and my heart to do it just right.

Before we went through any of it, He set us up with an amazing new church family, who walked every step of the journey along side us, and still does.

When I was worried about my son’s seizures, He sent me a doctor who gave us his cell phone number and actually answered it in the height of what we were going through.

When he had yet another seizure, and I had nothing left to pray, He sent a friend to get on her knees with me and pray for Lucas and me.

When I knew that Lucas’ behaviors meant something more than just being a regular defiant toddler, and I was at my loneliest, God sent me to the most amazing individuals and Facebook groups to get support to have the conversations I didn’t know how to have with anyone else. Other mothers and special needs moms and writers going through very similar struggles and journeys shared their hearts and hope with me. God showed me love and that I wasn’t alone.

When we got the autism spectrum diagnosis, and had long waiting lists for needed services, He opened the door and shortened the time by months earlier than expected.

When I thought I couldn’t handle this for another day, He sent me the perfect song, with all the words I needed to hear to find the strength to go on a little longer.

When I thought I wasn’t going to be able to attend church due to my son’s unique and special needs, He birthed a special needs ministry in the heart of wonderful souls at my church, in which my son continues to thrive.

When I thought that the season for doing the ministry I desired was going to have to wait years to be a possibility, He sent me the email about joining the prayer team, who functions exactly during the time Lucas would already be in child care. That meant Lucas’ needs wouldn’t stop me from serving.

Through it all, He knew that I’d need people praying for me and for my family. Through it all, I had that.

When I needed to stop working the way I used to, God provided the income in amazing ways.

When I thought my son would not ever be potty trained, he overcame that struggle.

When I thought that he was not going to be able to answer simple questions and that guessing what he wanted to was all we’d be able to do to reach him, he learned the difference between saying yes and no verbally.

When I thought I had no patience left to parent my kids and be a wife, He made me new.

When I needed a friend, He reminded me who was there with outstretched arms to comfort me and hear me be honest.

When I felt most alone and depressed, God sent us the perfect counseling to bring to life old dead bones in me and in my marriage.

When I felt like giving up, God reminded me, that He is still in control, and always will be.

So, when I face a day that feels impossible to get through, I will look back. When I am tempted to say, and people ask, “Where Was God?” I will say this instead. I see all of the times that God never left me. I will be brave because, I’ve only made it this far through His wonderful blessings. Despite the circumstances and impossibilities of all that we’ve been through, He always showed up, and never a moment too late. He is a specialist at making a way where there seems to be no way. He has never stopped holding my hand through it all. In that, I will find my courage to believe that He won’t let me down. Not now. And, not ever.

Isaiah 43:19 1See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.