Sometimes You Just Can’t See Where You’re Going

300px-Flickering_scotoma   Visual-aura-300x225 As I was driving Brynna to dance class this week something strange happened.  I started to see a jagged line like the one in the top picture.  Only the line I saw looked more like a lightening bolt.  I also had some gray clouds blocking my vision that were similar to the bottom picture.  As cars were approaching me a gray cloud would be covering one of the headlights.  Or a lightening bolt would appear between me and whatever was in front of me. I wasn’t scared.  I knew exactly what was happening to me.  I started to wonder if my face or my hands were going to go numb.  But they never did. We got to dance class and Brynna smiled as she told me bye.  I smiled and told her to have fun. She had no idea that I couldn’t see all of her face.

The lightening bolt and the gray clouds are a signal to me that I’m getting ready to have a migraine.  I had migraines frequently when I was a teenager. But I haven’t had one for 10 years so I was surprised it was happening.  This was my first time having visual disturbances while I was driving and it was pretty unnerving.  We were 35 minutes away from home.  And I was going to somehow have to get us back home after dance class.

I knew exactly what I needed to do.  First I texted a friend and asked her to pray that my vision would return to normal so that I would be able to drive home.  Then I drove to Walmart to buy a Mt. Dew and pain medicine.  I know from experience that the quicker I get pain medicine and caffeine in me the better my chances are of the migraine not getting out of control.  As I was drinking my Mt. Dew I began thinking about what I was going to do if I couldn’t drive home.  My sister works in the town that I was in.  Maybe she could leave work to drive me home.  Then Taylor could drive her back to work.   So I decided I would call her if my vision didn’t improve.  Within 45 minutes my vision returned to normal.  I still had a pretty bad headache, but I felt like I could drive home.

These are the life lessons that I learned from driving with a migraine.

Sometimes you just can’t see where you’re going – Life with special needs kids is hard.  Sometimes you feel like you can’t even see where you’re going.  There are obstacles in your way that keep you from seeing clearly.  You feel as if it’s not even possible to get to your destination.  You worry about your child’s future.  Will she learn to read? Will she learn to write?  Will she learn to drive?  Will she be able to leave home? or will she always live with us?  You research what products and therapies would be best for her.  You think, you plan, and you worry. You take her to doctor appointments and therapies.  You do everything that you know to do and yet sometimes you just feel like you can’t see where you’re going.  But you keep going because you know if you stop then you’ll never get to your destination.  You keep going because you believe that one day those things that are unclear will suddenly become clear to you.

Sometimes you need to let Someone else drive – Sometimes God removes the obstacles and we’re able to drive again.  My vision returned to normal and I was able to drive home.  But if my vision hadn’t returned to normal I was going to have to scoot over into the passenger seat and let my sister drive. Sometimes I need to scoot over into the passenger seat and let God drive. He can see much better than I can.  I spend too much time steering my life in the direction that I think I should go.  And God is sitting in the passenger seat thinking “If she would just let me drive we would get there a lot quicker.  We wouldn’t have to take all of these winding roads.  We wouldn’t have to turn around and go back because we missed the turn.”  Yes, I just need to learn to let Him drive.

Sometimes you have to keep going even when you want to  quit –   I kept driving when my vision was impaired because Brynna needed to get to dance class.  I could’ve pulled off the road.  But if I’d sat on the side of the road waiting for my vision to return to normal she would’ve missed dance class. Last week I wrote my blog post To the Lady Who Shook Her Head and I was thinking that it might be my last.  Lately I’ve felt overwhelmed with life.  I’ve felt like my life needs to be simplified.  My blog is the only thing that I could come up with that I could give up.  I published my post and was surprised by what happened.  My number of Facebook readers tripled.  Then I got an email from a senior editor of the Mighty.  She asked permission to publish my post on their website.  I read the email.  I read it again because I still couldn’t believe it.  Two days ago the Mighty published my blog post and I’ve had many more readers than I normally have.  I’m thankful for more people reading my blog but I’m even more thankful for comments like these:

Being childless by choice these articles really help me to understand and have more patience. Some days my *people level* has bottomed out by the end of the work day (I’m a social introvert) but I still need to run some errands – when I find myself about to shake my head or glare I truly try to stop myself and think of these stories…I really, REALLY don’t have any idea what parents deal with at all so I take a deep breath and try to put a genuine smile on my face and quickly finish my errands.  Thank you all for sharing your stories, they touch and teach and reach a lot of us.

Hi – I was just reading your post on the Mighty, and I had to look at your blog. My 9-year-old daughter has ADHD, phonological disorder, Developmental coordination disorder, and sensory processing disorder. I don’t know where you live, and I only have one unique little girl ( I also have a great 12-year-old son) but I wanted you to know you are not alone. I understand the everyday struggles and joys. Your family is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

My post touched someone who doesn’t have to walk in my shoes.  She realized that she shouldn’t shake her head.  My post touched a mom who walks in the same shoes that I walk in.  Both of us know that someone out there understands and we don’t feel so alone.  Last week I wanted to park this blog on the side of the road and just walk away.  But then God orchestrated a series of events to show me that I’m supposed to keep going.  He wants me to keep going even when I’m weary and I can’t see clearly.  So I’ll keep writing about the beauty in our brokenness and I’ll pray that it brings beauty into your brokenness.

And it’s time for me to scoot over to the passenger seat and let Him drive. 532309_457716370918628_1833968588_nphoto credits:

http://www.thecompleteherbalguide.com/

http://www.migraine.com

www,everythingsandnothings.wordpress.com

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To the Lady Who Shook Her Head

To the Lady Who Shook Her Head:

Do you remember me?  I was the mom walking behind you yesterday.  I know you wanted to turn around and stare.  But you didn’t.  I heard you ask your son “Who’s behind us?”  He turned around, looked at us, and then told you it was 3 people.  And then you shook your head. Maybe you were shaking your head because he didn’t give you the full description of us that you were looking for. Maybe you were shaking your head because you think I’m a bad mom.  Or maybe my girls were getting on your nerves.  You might have been thinking that if I would just discipline my girls then they wouldn’t act like that.  Maybe you were thinking that you would never allow your children to act like that in public.  I know your thoughts because 10 years ago I had those same thoughts.  It was easy to have those thoughts when our older girls behaved perfectly every time we were in public.   I had never walked in the same shoes that the mom with the misbehaving kids has to walk in.  But I wear those shoes now.

I wish you had seen the strategy that we put into place earlier when we entered the building.  You would have seen me come in with only one little girl. After I signed us in you would have seen a handsome man enter with another little girl who looks a lot like the little girl standing beside me. You would have seen us walk up the hallway just far enough apart so that our girls couldn’t hit each other. Then you would have seen our girls hug and kiss us and say “I love you” before they left with their therapists.  You would have heard a therapist talk about how sweet and loving our girls are.  And you would have witnessed the amazing look of victory on my face because we made it into the building without making a scene.

I wish you had seen what happened in the bathroom.  I wish someone had seen what happened in the bathroom because I have no idea what happened.  All I know is that I went into a stall and I told the girls to stand beside the sinks.  And all of a sudden everything was out of control.  They were hitting each other and yelling at each other.  I wish you could have seen that I disciplined them and then I tried to convince them that they should be nice to each other.  I wish you could have seen me take a deep breath as I pulled the bathroom door open.  I wish you had known that the only thought in my head was to just get out of the building as fast as we could.

I wish you could have seen the man walking in front of us when our girls continued to make a scene. He never turned around.  He never shook his head.  If he judged us he did it privately.  And then we rounded the corner and the girls got louder and more upset.  And then we were behind you.  I really wish you would have walked a little faster.  The only thing that I had on my mind was getting out of the building and you were walking kind of slow.  I wish that you had realized that the 3 people behind you have feelings.   I wish you had realized that whispers, stares, and shaking your head only make my life harder.

I don’t know if you were still there when I leaned down to sign us out.  But it was at that moment that one of my sweethearts hit the other sweetheart on the back of the head with a coloring book.  You might not have seen it but there were many people who did.  I was irritated and I was embarrassed. I probably turned about 50 shades of red.  If you didn’t see it happen perhaps you heard the chaos as you were walking to your car.

I wish you could have heard me tell my husband about everything that had happened. I told him how much it hurt when you shook your head.  I wish you knew how defeated I felt.  And that I’ve cried many tears over the years because I just simply have no idea what to do.  I wish that you knew that we are doing the best that we can for our family. But sometimes we have really bad days.  Sometimes I’m angry because we’ve been given this life to live. Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly do it anymore. And that’s how I was feeling yesterday when you shook your head.

I wish you could have seen how my day turned around when I got home and found a package in the mailbox.  It was a book called The Life that Overcomes.   I didn’t even know this book existed.  A ministry sent it to us to thank us for supporting them.  It’s not a coincidence that this book arrived when it did.  The Lord knew that I was going to need some encouragement at the end of this day.  He wants me to overcome my fear of what other people think of me.  He wants me to choose to have a good day even when someone shakes their head at me.  He wants me to learn to overcome my emotions and stop thinking that I can’t do this anymore.  He wants me to learn to enjoy my life even when it’s hard, even when it’s out of control, and even when I can’t find much to be joyful about.

The next time you see a mom who’s struggling with her kids, could you do something for me?  Could you smile and say something kind?  Kindness can change her world.  If you don’t know what to say, could you show kindness by letting her go in front of you?  Could you say a prayer for her?  Prayer can change her world too.  And I would like to ask you to forgive me for being irritated with you for shaking your head.  Because chances are that you walk in a pair of shoes that I don’t have to walk in.  And I don’t understand your struggles any more than you understand mine.

Sincerely,

The mom who was having a really bad day yesterday

The Most Beautiful Sentence I’ve Ever Heard

Hope said the most beautiful sentence that I’ve ever heard.  She ran up to me and said “I spilled Sprite on the floor!”  I clapped.  I cheered. She smiled and she was proud.  I sat there in amazement and I even wondered if I was dreaming.  Did I hear her correctly?  Did she really say what I think she said?  I was so wrapped up in celebrating that I didn’t even think to check on the mess.

Why would that sentence make me so happy?  Hope has articulation disorder.  So this sentence is a reason to clap my hands, blow up some balloons, and throw a party.  Just a few months ago Hope would have said “I pilled prite on the floor!”  Putting the “s” on the front of a word was not something that she was able to spontaneously do.  This sentence had 2 s-blend words in a row.  And she said them smoothly.  It was a huge moment.  Hope’s speech therapists were excited and amazed when I told them what she had said.

The next day we were driving home from Easter Seals.  Hope became irritated with Mikayla and she said “You’re bad”.  Mikayla said “No, I’m cute!” Then Mikayla began to talk lickety-split and it was getting on Hope’s nerves.  So Hope screamed “Stop talking!!!!!”  Mikayla very calmly said “No, I want my mouth open!”  Brett and I looked at each other, smiled, and shared a really good laugh together.

Then Mikayla yelled “Stop touching my seat!” and Hope said “You’re tupid!”  Well rats.  She left the “s” off of stupid.  Wait a minute.  She knows she’s not supposed to say stupid.   I wiped the smile off my face and I reminded Hope that she’s not supposed to say stupid.  She very sweetly said “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

This is what life looks like at our house.  It’s often 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  One day Hope can say two s-blend words in a row.  The next day she will leave the “s” off of a word and she doesn’t even notice.  But even if the girls are taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back, they are still making progress. Some days seem to be filled with only steps backwards.  Those days are totally frustrating. I eat chocolate and I remind myself of the progress that they’ve made on other days.

I took the girls to a doctor’s appointment yesterday.  We were in the bathroom after the appointment and I realized that Hope had her shoes on the wrong feet.  I smiled as I helped her switch them around. Yes, she’s 10  years old and she sometimes still gets her shoes on the wrong feet. But that honestly doesn’t bother me.  I had only told her one time to put her shoes on and she put her shoes on.  Not long ago I would tell her to put her shoes on and she would yell “I can’t do it!”  She wouldn’t even try to put them on and she would end up crying.  So shoes on the wrong feet is actually amazing progress.

Yesterday we went swimming at a friend’s house.  Mikayla & Hope have always stood on the steps and just put their feet in the water.  They don’t like water splashed in their faces so they’ve never actually got in the pool.  With a little coaxing from big sister they decided to get in the pool.  They were both smiling and having the time of their life.  They talked about the swimming pool party the whole way home.  Progress is sometimes just two wet swimsuits and two girls with silly grins on their faces.

Our girls have taught me that progress can be very slow and steady.  It doesn’t come overnight. It can even seem nonexistent.  But then suddenly when I least expect it, the girls will do something amazing that makes me clap, cheer, and celebrate.  Yes, I can even cheer over spilled Sprite. And it makes me smile.

I’m Accepted by The One Who Matters Most

accepted #6

Rejection.  I don’t like that word.  I don’t like how I feel when that word happens to me.  But rejection happens.  No one gets through life without experiencing it.  Rejection comes in many different ways. You’re the last one picked every single time.  You cried because you weren’t invited to the party.  You didn’t make the team.  Your best friend announced that she didn’t want to be your friend anymore. Maybe your mom or dad walked out of your life and never  came back.  Or a boyfriend said that he didn’t want you anymore because a new girl had caught his eye.  Your husband said the wrong thing and you felt rejected.  He had no idea what he said. And you had no idea why he didn’t know what he said.  Or maybe your spouse walked out of your life without any warning.  Your child has grown up and never comes to see you. Rejection hits us all and it can knock our feet out from under us.

The only thing worse than being rejected is watching your child be rejected.  If you have a special needs child you are most likely too familiar with rejection.  You want your child to feel loved and accepted. But she may be laughed at or even ignored.  You desperately want her to have a friend.  But she doesn’t.   One of your biggest dreams in life is that your child will be invited to a party.  But it hasn’t happened yet.  You secretly wish that people would talk to your child instead of ignoring her.  You wish the strangers in front of you in line wouldn’t stare and give dirty looks while your child is having a meltdown.  It would be a dream if you ever heard the words “I’m not in a hurry.  Please, go in front of me.”

I recently spent a long, miserable day feeling rejected.  A few days later a song came to my mind.  My husband sang this song at our church in the early 1990’s.

I’m Accepted by Degarmo & Key

I may not be rich
Don’t wear fashion clothes
Don’t live in a mansion
Don’t have much that shows
Never won a contest in popularity
Don’t have much to offer
But Jesus still loves me
I’m accepted, accepted
I’m accepted by the One who matters most

Never set a record in sports agility
Never was magnetic in personality
That don’t really matter
I’ll do the best I can
‘Cause there’s a God above me
Who loves me like I am
I’m accepted, accepted
I’m accepted by the One who matters most

If you think you’re a loser
When you fail it seems at everything you do
Just remember there’s a Savior
And you are worth enough
He gave His life for you
I’m accepted, accepted
I’m accepted by the One who matters most

As I was listening to this song I was thinking about kids with special needs.  Many of them will not win a popularity contest.  They probably won’t set a record in sports or have a magnetic personality.  Many people will look at them and they will think that they don’t have much to offer.  But Jesus looks at them and He knows that they have a lot to offer.  He accepts them exactly as they are.  He accepts all of us exactly as we are.  It doesn’t matter what we can or can’t do.  It doesn’t matter what we’ve ever done. We’re all accepted by the One who matters most.  All of us were worth enough that He gave His life for us.

Last Sunday we attended 2nd service at our church.  When I brought the girls into their class, the 1st service class was ending and there was music playing. The kids were playing and dancing around.  I was mesmerized by what I saw.  The man who was teaching the class was dancing with a sweet little girl who has special needs.  And he was smiling down on her as they danced.  It was a beautiful moment that I was privileged to witness.  I still get tears in my eyes as I am typing this.  That sweet little girl is accepted by the One who matters most.  And she’s accepted by a man who understands God’s love.  He took a few moments out of his life and made a difference in her life.  And it was beautiful.

The next time we’re standing in a line and someone shoots us one of those “you need to control your kid” dirty looks, I’m going to remember that She’s accepted by the One who matters most.

The next time someone steps out of a long line because they don’t possess the patience that our girls require, I’ll remember that She’s accepted by the One who matters most. 

The next time our girls are overlooked or ignored I’ll remember that They’re accepted by the One who matters most.

The next time people are staring at us because they don’t understand why our life looks different than their life looks, I’ll remember that We’re accepted by the One who matters most.

And even when I encounter people who are unkind and intolerant, I’ll remember a man dancing with one of God’s little princesses.  And it will remind me that God creates beautiful moments  when special kids are loved by special people.  Those beautiful moments are what carry me through the next moments that might not be so beautiful.