Socialize My Skills

Social skills are a necessity in life. No matter who you are, how you were raised, or what you believe, there is a general expectation of behavior and interpersonal communication that we have of one another. I have a different face for the public than I do for people I know and can be myself around and I can switch gears fairly easily. I respect people’s spaces, mind my manners, and can adjust to social cues when I feel like the situation has become awkward. Standing in line and waiting my turn without bumping into the people around me is easy. I can walk through my favorite store without having to touch everything and if I am shopping with someone else, I am patient while they shop even if it is for something I have no interest in. I can listen when it is time to listen, sit quietly when it is time to be quiet, and I can be still for long periods of time if I have to. Conversations are two sided and I am able to focus on what the person is saying as well as respond appropriately. When I was younger, these social skills were more difficult but as I matured my skills evolved more quickly. I am still awkward more often than I care to admit but I recognize it and I work on it. This ability is not so easy for my son Kody or many people with different disabilities that desire and require relationships.

Interpersonal communication opens or shuts doors to opportunities and relationships. People do not always give each other the benefit of the doubt. We pass judgment before we understand the situation especially if we are made to feel uncomfortable. If we are offended, we react with negative intentions and draw conclusions about a person’s character based on a moment of interaction that was less than pleasing. We do not consider why someone has acted this way, just that they have.

Social situations are stressors for my little family. Sometimes they are a nightmare. When Kody was a toddler, I can remember sitting in a restaurant with his three siblings and the look of sheer embarrassment on all of our faces as Kody created quite a disturbance by screaming out in short bursts for no apparent reason. This was common during this period of time for him. It did not deter me at that time from taking my family out to public places, but eventually it would. On this occasion, it drew the attention of a manager who made sure we had two servers and free ice cream to help keep him calm. It was a kindness that washed over me and a relief for Kody’s siblings who had no control over how he behaved in public. I will never forget it.

Kody grew out of the screaming stage after a couple of years as his speech developed but his social skills are still developing. It is incredibly hard to watch my son around kids his age. He wants to fit in but does not fully understand the reason for or accept social rules. Unfortunately that is a turn off for kids his age and most people in general. That includes those closest to him. Conversations with people are usually one sided and only about what he wants to discuss. His idea of funny is usually obnoxious to others. He is impulsive and can put people on the spot. If he has something on his mind he wants to say it right away even if that means interrupting a conversation. Though he is 14, his sense of humor rivals that of an eight-year-old boys where bodily functions are hilarious and annoying others tickles his funny bone. When he is mad or frustrated he wants to hit or kick things. He tends to protest the consequences of his behavioral choices by refusing to do anything at all, negative self talk, and the occasional meltdown where pent up hurt and anger come out at the top of his lungs with great rage and many tears. It is heartbreaking to watch and frustrating to deal with.

The other side of Kody is a young man full of courage, brave enough to take on the world full steam ahead. He is a great witness for Jesus Christ and will not hesitate to point his friends to Him as their Savior. Kody is sensitive to the needs of others and wants to protect the weak. His compassion for the less fortunate is deep and sincere. I believe if he had his way, we would personally house all of the homeless in Houston. His humor is not always obnoxious. His witty observations and fun facts leave me in stitches and he loves to perform for small captive audiences spontaneously. Movie theatres are a perfect example. From the moment we walk into the theatre and find our seats, Kody is performing for anyone who will give him their attention. He is the pre-movie entertainment. Whether it is a little dance or a complete mime routine, he loves to make people smile or laugh. Kody is creative. His escape is his imagination. He dresses up in costumes and fully takes on the persona of his favorite characters. Many a Star Wars space battle has been fought right on our front lawn with lightsaber in hand. He wants everyone to be happy and to have fun. It is the most important thing to him. Social skills are not at the top of his list.

It takes a lot of energy and a great deal of patience to get to know Kody. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable and love him where his abilities are right now. People with disabilities offer humanity an opportunity to show and grow in compassion, love, understanding, devotion, and courage. It will make you a better person. It will make you stronger. Your time and effort is appreciated by parents who desperately want for their family member to be loved and accepted and it is rewarded by your Father in Heaven who loved these special human beings even before they came into this world. Speaking for Kody, “Please socialize my skills.”

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As bold as the bat himself when he sports this get up.

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He created his own persona as king of the vampires with this costume.

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Living large and in charge with Mario.

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Feeling fancy in my grandmothers fur coat. It makes him feel royal.

 

 

Special People

Camp Blessing 2012                Camp Blessing 2013                 The Elder Family

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Angelia Griffin (left) – Challenge Air 2017

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I am always amazed when I meet people who have dedicated their life to a career in the field of special needs or that volunteer their time and resources to bless this population. It takes physical strength, courage, thick skin, the patience of Job, determination, acceptance and a tender heart to do this work. Each person with a disability is unique and so are their needs. What works for one person may cause another person with the same diagnosis to have a meltdown. There may be a need for incontinence care, help with eating or a feeding tube, suctioning a person’s airway so that they can breath, or other hygiene care. Some people have a disability that causes seizures which require the ability to act quickly and think clearly. Others may need constant attention to maintain their safety from themselves or others, from running away, or being destructive.

Of course not all disabilities are high maintenance and not all require so much attention but they do require kindness, understanding, commitment, and compassion. Whether the disability is physical or mental, whether it is intellectual or chemical, constant or cycles, permanent or temporary, this is a human being with a need and there are people that have been called to this mission field to make sure their needs are met.

Camp Blessing

Our family has had the honor and privilege of knowing two very special people, Glen and Laura Elder, who have dedicated their life to offering the opportunity for kids and adults with disabilities to experience camp. Camp Blessing in Brenham, Texas, is a place for our special population to come and be themselves with complete acceptance of who they are – just the way they are. It is four days and three nights of fun and Godly ministry. Each camper has their own buddy who stays with them for the entire duration of camp. That buddy has a counselor to help them and a cabin parent that is there for all of them. They are all volunteers.

My son, Kody, will be going next week. It is his fourth time attending Camp Blessing. His brother will be there as a volunteer. This is Michael’s third time to go. He has attended as a sibling during a sibling week and once as a barnstormer which is a position with a variety of duties for the younger volunteers. It is an incredible life changing experience for these volunteers. Michael cannot wait to go back! As for the campers, they are ministered to in a way that lifts them up and makes them feel special. It is all about them for those four days. Glen and Laura have created a beautiful ministry that touches the lives of the camper, changes the lives of the volunteers, and ministers to the families of these very special campers.

Challenge Air

Another ministry we have had the pleasure to experience is called Challenge Air. I was introduced to this amazing program by Angelia Griffen, a women who eats, sleeps, and breaths ministries of all kinds. Her husband, Kevin, is a pilot and together they help to coordinate Challenge Air in Conroe, Texas, once a year. This was our first year to be a part of Challenge Air and I am pleased to say that it will not be our last. Challenge Air is a unique program that allows people with special needs the opportunity to fly a plane. Their mission is to eliminate the belief that people with disabilities are limited, to raise their self-esteem and show them that they can do anything.

Mission accomplished! Kody is still talking about getting to fly a plane all by himself. Just like Camp Blessing, the volunteers make this experience all about the person receiving the service. From the moment we walked into the hanger the volunteers made Kody feel special. We were all made to feel special. He is looking forward to going back next year and so am I.

I am always overwhelmed by my emotions when attending these events. If you have volunteered your time and resources for either of these ministries, thank you. Kody is not the only one that is ministered to by your efforts. Though I do not carry the responsibility of raising Kody completely alone, he completely occupies my heart, just as all of my children do, to make sure they all know how special they are and that they have as many opportunities to explore who they are to Christ’s purpose as possible. Both of these ministries do an outstanding job in these capacities.

I encourage anyone with a loved one who qualifies for either of these programs to follow the links I am including at the end of this post and get involved. If you would like to get involved as a volunteer or would like to support either of these ministries financially or otherwise, you will find more information on the official website for each of these ministries.

For more information on Camp Blessing or Challenge Air please visit their websites and follow them on Facebook.

http://www.campblessing.org

http://www.challengeair.com

 

 

Let Me Explain

“Chromosomal Microarray Analysis revealed a copy number LOSS of chromosome band 15q13.2q13.3 of approximately 1.474 Mb in size. The deleted segment, which includes the CHRNA7 gene, has been associated with intellectual disability and seizures…”

This is the clinical result of Kody’s official diagnosis. A chromosome disorder that has been associated with intellectual disability, seizures, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, difficulty with mood regulation, and impulse control. It has also been associated with hyperphagia, low muscle tone, speech delay, autism spectrum disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. This is the explanation for why Kody has the challenges that he does.

As the mother of a child with such obstacles, I constantly find myself wanting to explain his behaviors. I wonder what people think of me as a parent and even more so what they must think of him as an individual. I believe that people are judging my parenting skills as they witness Kody being awkward, difficult, disrespectful, or disruptive. When they see him with his IPad, they must think it is irresponsible of me to allow him so much screen time. I am sure they wonder why I have not taught him social skills or why I allow such disorderly conduct.

My answer to anyone who does not know us or not taken the time to understand the full picture is, “Please excuse our beautiful mess, we are a work in progress and our progress is slower than the average person. But we are progressing.” We have come a long way, believe me. It is a situation that requires constant attention and therefore takes a lot of tools to negotiate or manage behaviors. I am as much a student of his condition as I am an expert. It is not that I am not teaching him these things, it is that he is still learning why, how, when, and where to apply them. So, it looks very messy to an audience.

There is always room for improvement as a parent. I used to ask God all of the time why He would choose me to be the mother of a child who needs strong structure and consistency, strict boundaries and someone with stamina for the daily battles. I have a hard time remembering what I did yesterday! It takes a lot of energy to deal with his responses to being told “no” or making him be responsible for his chores on a daily basis. Everything that takes any work on his part and is not centered around instant gratification is really hard for him. That does not mean he cannot do life on life’s terms, it just means that he takes longer to do it on his own.

In the mean time, if he is awake, we are in training. It means that I constantly question myself whether I am being too hard on him. Have I balanced negative responses to his behaviors with positive ones? What can we look for in his behaviors today that we can use to build him up? Am I being unfair to the other kids in the house? Are my expectations too high, or are they too low?

It is a complicated situation. I have taught Kody for years to “play out the tape.” In other words, think about what is going to happen if you make the choice to break a rule or choose a negative behavior. His teachers at school have also worked diligently on this same concept by using behavior charts and reward systems. He knows without a doubt that when he breaks a rule, there are consequences. When asked, he can also recognize the behavior that caused him a problem (most of the time). Currently his hindsight is better than his foresight. He has grown so much over the years and matured in so many of his behavior choices that I have faith in his ability to overcome most of, if not all of, the challenges he faces.

I would like to offer this perspective because I know a few parents who have a child with similar special needs. We cannot parent these children on an island. Like little bulls in a china shop living on raw emotions and overstimulated senses, they cry out for understanding and relationships like anyone else. Their wiring is different which affects the way they process the world around them. They are hardwired to see things their way and changing that is not easy. It can make it difficult to get to know them and uncomfortable to deal with them at times, but any effort you make will bless you both.

People who open their hearts to the experience are rewarded with a special relationship that offers opportunity for personal growth and a grand adventure. So, when you recognize this dynamic in a family or an individual, I encourage you to reach out and lift them up, offer your support, and love on them. They need you – we need you. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all of the people in our lives who have done just that. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers and your kindness!

Kody's choir attire

Handsome and debonair in his choir attire.

 

Special Needs

I have had countless conversations with other moms and dads about the struggles and joys of raising kids. Families that include a child with special needs, whether physical, mental, or emotional, face unusual challenges and have a unique strength that can be hard to wrap your mind around. We even look at each other and wonder how does the other one do it? Disabilities are so different for each person and their families.

In our family, my youngest son, Kody, was diagnosed around the age of three as having an intellectual disability, ADHD, and a speech delay. It was an emotional and difficult time for his father and I. Kody’s disability did not present itself in obvious ways. It was the little things like taking longer to crawl and walk than normal, constantly moving or trying to get away from me in public, not playing with other kids, he was impulsive, screaming at the top of his lungs in restaurants or other public places but not crying, and horrible tantrums. By age three, he had a vocabulary of less than ten words. The rest of it was literally his own language and you could not understand a word of it. It was frustrating but I never imagined it was due to a disability. Honestly, I thought he was just a hyper little boy challenging authority and that any delay was due to the fact that he had a house full of people doing everything for him because he was the baby of the family. The concerns were there but I was not worried.

I decided to ask our pediatrician a couple of questions about some of Kody’s peculiar behaviors and delays. He suggested that we have him tested. My mother is a special education teacher and after I talked to her about the pediatrician’s recommendation and the concerns I had, she suggested going through the school district for testing. We did not have insurance at the time and this was a practical starting point for us. Sure enough, he qualified for an early intervention program through our school district which was the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD). Can I just stop for a moment to give a huge shout out to those in the mission field of special education? Thank you for all that you do. Yours is truly a labor of love.

I can remember feeling like someone had just taken a blowtorch to my son’s future and I was terrified. I was angry and sad for him and for us. I had a million questions. How do you parent a child with disabilities? What are the rules? Am I doing everything I am supposed to do for him? Do I discipline him the same way as before? Does he need therapy? Will he get better? Will he get worse? What am I supposed to do for him, Lord? It was overwhelming and I did not want it to be true. I was not the only one. It was a sensitive issue between his father and I. Like I said before, Kody’s disability was not obvious. It was subtle and easy to excuse as defiant behaviors or developmental delays on which he would eventually be able to catch up. His father felt that the diagnosis was premature and would label him for the rest of his life; harming his future and closing doors to opportunities. I had the opposite state of mind. I felt that if we started dealing with the facts now, we could give him every chance to develop his full potential. Looking back, we were both right and we both just wanted what was best for him.

Unfortunately, all too often families are ripped apart because of the strain of having a child with special needs. I hope that if you are a parent or guardian of a child with special needs, that you do not forget to take care of yourself. My husband and I did not divorce because of Kody, but we were not always on the same page and it did add stress to our relationship. I encourage couples to seek wise counsel and support for your marriage before considering divorce. Trust the Lord with your family. He knew what He was doing when He blessed you with that child.

I know how blessed I am to have my son. Every day is a challenge but it is also a precious gift. We teach each other how to be better human beings. His future will be different than his brothers and sister but it will be just as bright. We are doing everything we can to make sure of that. He has gifts and talents that have a purpose and will serve him well. Though I still worry about what it will look like for him as a grown man, I know that the Lord has him in the palm of His mighty hand and is already working out the details of Kody’s life.

For the families of all children with special needs, God grant us:

Strength to carry their burdens.

Patience to care for their health and wellbeing every minute of every day.

Wisdom to understand their needs and the resources to meet those needs.

Love like Yours to love them right where they are at in good times and in hard times.

Big shoulders to catch their tears when they are let down in this world.

Courage to fight for their rights and give them a place in society.

Enough energy to care for them, our family, and ourselves.

Inspiration to make the most of our time together.

And fill our lives with peace and joy for the journey ahead.

~ Amen

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

 

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”  ~ Theodore Roosevelt

 

I have had to learn many lessons in my life the hard way. As I get older I grow more and more weary of the trouble I create for myself. I make better choices these days and I praise God for the woman he has allowed me to become despite myself. When you are a parent, you do not want to see your children making the same mistakes you did or have to witness them learning life lessons the hard way. However, I cannot be with my kids for every decision they make and I know what stubborn cloth they were cut from. So, what are my options as a parent? What can I do to ensure their safety and success in life? Well, first of all I can take a dose of reality and let go of the magical thinking that says I have any control over their indefinite safety and success in life. I am setting myself up for a slap in the face if I think I can. It is unrealistic to think that our kids will escape this life unscathed, never face tragedy, financial hardship, relationship issues, health problems, or worse. Next, I recognize that prayer is my biggest weapon on their behalf. No matter what God’s answer, he loves my kids more than I am humanly capable and not only knows what is best for them but wants what is best for them. Besides prayer, I assess my own witness in their lives. What lessons am I teaching them?

 

One of the hardest things I have had to learn is accountability. In my opinion it is one of the most important lessons in life. By the way, I am not concerned with perfection just progress. Without accountability the consequences of the bad decisions we make in our life are always someone else’s fault. It is a victim mentality and it is dangerous. If I do not teach my children accountability, then the world will.

 

One of my favorite sayings is: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I personally pair that with accountability. If we have not been taught or have refused to learn how to take responsibility for our choices, we can become stuck in a miserable place in life, never accepting that we can change.

 

Accountability has a bad reputation these days. I think false pride, entitlement, and narcissism have found their way into the water system. It has a weak connotation when we filter it through false pride. Accountability takes humility and a willingness to humble ourselves which we usually perceive as a weakness. Ironically, humility takes more strength and courage than pride.

 

One of my children recently became unglued when I confronted him with accountability. I was instantly met with a defensive stance. This rattles my cage to the core. I recognize the posture of this place in his heart. It is the same as mine when I face my own giants at times. When accountability becomes a teachable moment with my son, I brace myself mentally and emotionally because I know it is going to be an intense discussion. I know that he knows the truth of his matters, but before he owns the choices he has made that got him into his predicament we have to do combat.

 

The inspiration for this post is a recent incident over grades and upcoming finals. The emotionally charged conversation was about low grades in two of his classes. Most of his reasoning was sound and legitimate, BUT he was not owning his part in the situation. What it boiled down to was that the effort he needed to put in was greater than the effort he was willing to put in and he did not want to face himself. He was adamant that it was not going to be his fault if he failed these classes. As we whittled away at the excuses, he reluctantly accepted that he had not made these classes a priority and given either of them the attention they needed. That is a tough pill to swallow when you are facing unpleasant consequences because of the choices you have made. I know because I take the same medicine all too often. It is hard to be honest with ourselves but even harder when we are not and it is devastating to watch our children believe such a lie that leads to their destruction.

 

This may be a lesson he has to learn the hard way. We will find out after finals. One thing is for sure, he knows that I love him and that I believe in him. He knows that accountability is a strength; not a weakness and we both know that he is capable of great things.

 

It Is What It Is

 

I am sitting at my computer this morning wondering how I should introduce my son, Kody. Do I start off defining him by his disability? Or open up with a cute anecdote or a story about one of his many challenges? Should I begin this dialogue discussing my own trials with Kody and how our family deals with his disability? I feel confident that at some point all of these perspectives will be addressed as my story grows in this blog. There are so many facets to having a child with special needs. It is life consuming. Everything you do or plan is pretty much filtered through this situation first. For instance, a simple task like going to church becomes an issue of strategy. What moods are we dealing with this morning? How disruptive are we going to be? Where can we sit that will give us room to wiggle and whisper the inevitable “Shhhhhhhh’s” while trying not to disturb other church goers? Are we on our way to a tantrum? Do I really want to take the electronics away as a discipline in this situation because then no one is going to get to hear the sermon?! What kind of chaotic mess am I going to look like as I try to manage his behaviors? These are just a few of the persistent questions I ask myself just for the two hours we are attending service.

 

I anticipate stress on some level everywhere and in everything we do. It is hectic and hard. The pressure never subsides completely; you never really relax. As a matter of fact, I just got off of the phone with him. His teacher contacted me and told me that he is having a rough morning. I use a few different strategies to address situations like this. I asked him what was wrong and he presented his case. I offered a different perspective to no avail (typical response) … he was determined that the world was against him at this point. So, we move on to the nitty gritty and discuss consequences for the choices he is making. I walk him through what will happen if he continues to make these negative choices (giving him control and accountability) which means he loses his electronic privileges, television time, will have to write sentences, and could end up with extra chores depending on how far he takes his behavior. With my gut clinched, I hang up emotionally and mentally exhausted. Even as I write this I am wondering if I got through to him and hoping that he has chosen to turn his day around.

 

This is how we live each day. Moment by moment, inch by inch, and mile by loving mile. He is a beautiful mess and so is his mother. Bless his heart, he did not get to choose his parents and do not get me wrong, I would not trade this child for anything. Yes, life is tough most of the time and there is a lot of stress that goes with the territory, BUT there is also joy, love, pride, and satisfaction. He has given me such purpose and continues to sharpen me (I need a lot of sharpening) and shape my character (and others lucky enough to know him) as God uses him for such a beautiful cause. I have never regretted having a child with a disability. It is what it is.

 

So, I want to help people understand the heart of a parent that has a child with a disability. It may sound like I am complaining when you read about our experiences but that could not be further from the truth. I share our journey with you because I want you to understand us and love us where we are at. Do not be offended if we turn down invitations at the last minute or if we do not stay long at social gatherings. We pick and choose our battles. Please do not judge us for not being socially appropriate or when we show up mismatched and with bed head. It is going to happen more often than I want it to but that is our life. Most of the time we are just happy we made it to our destination in the first place. Do not take it personally if I leave a conversation abruptly or if I look distracted when we are talking. Excuse my frantic facial gestures and over exaggerated expressions as I walk in the door. I am trying to have a sense of humor about my life and laughing at my situation is the spoon full of sugar that helps me deal with it. It is not that we need your sympathy. We need your compassion, your assistance, your acceptance, your understanding, and your Christ centered love. To those of you that do just that … thank you.

 

John 9:1-3 
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Flying High

Courageous … he was terrified but refused to get down. He finally told the attendant to push him off the platform … determined to conquer his fear.

The Rut

How do you break a rotten rut in parenting? Why are bad habits so easy to fall into and good habits so hard to form or keep? I have “told” my kids time and time again, “If you will do it right from the beginning, it will be easier in the long run”, or “If you will do the hard thing now, you will make things easier on yourself down the road.” This is usually said in the context of chores, school work and studies or eating healthier… and I know better than anyone that I am actually talking to myself too. As the words rush through my pursed lips, I feel the guilty sensation like a rock hitting the bottom of my stomach. You know the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”? Well, that principle is from the devil. I hear myself reason with them, trying to convince them with practical wisdom, but they are smart. Kids know when you are not on the up and up with them. If my actions are not aligning with my words… I mean they are not blind. I cannot expect my kids to watch what they eat if I am not working that same program. If I am asking them to clean up after themselves and I myself have left a trail everywhere I have been, then all I have done is confused them.

What about relationally? If I show disdain for a person who has inconvenienced me or grumbled as I go to help a friend, but then sit and encourage my children to treat others with the love of Christ and to always be ready to forgive… what can I expect from them? So, what do I do about this weak foundation I keep trying to build for them? Do I stop teaching them just because I’m not walking the line perfectly? Of course not. I grow with them. I do not stop requiring obedience or setting expectations for them but I apply them with grace and mercy just as my Father in heaven does for all of us. Yes, there are consequences and discipline for choices that they make when they miss the mark just as there are for all of God’s children. I see the consequences for my choices as a parent reflected back to me every day… good and bad. We have to have a reason to change. There has to be a revelation of our sin for us to recognize it for what it is.

So, how do we break a rotten rut of bad habits? Once I finally get sick and tired of being sick and tired and fed up with the miserable cycle we get caught in, I surrender. I raise my white flag and do a face plant at my Father’s precious feet. Then I own my mistakes and ask for forgiveness. I give Him praise and worship for loving me and then I ask for His help to rebuild what I have messed up. Now, the easier way is to hit my knees before I open my mouth to another living soul on a daily basis but that is something I am working on… with His help. I have yet to see the Lord leave me stranded. He picks me up, dusts me off, and I pick up where I left off but with a much better perspective and a new-found energy to be the example of what I expect from my own children. I visit this place often by the way. The battle is real and I am constantly asking for forgiveness and renewal but I NEVER give up. Perfection is only going to be found in heaven. Progress… that I can do.

My prayer usually goes something like this:

Dear God,

I am a broken human being. I will never be perfect as a parent. You have blessed me with these wonderful children to bring up in the way that they should go but I am having a hard time with that today. Please, show me where my parenting is weak and strengthen me there. Do not let my brokenness be their guidance. I want to bring you glory in my parenting by raising children that will bring you glory. Forgive me for my shortcomings and align my heart with Yours for these children as I raise them.

-Amen

First Things First…

Hi, my name is Staci. I am 43, a college student working on a bachelor’s degree, single mother of three (one girl and two boys), grandmother to one granddaughter, care giver to my twin niece and nephew, student ministry hospitality team coordinator, homemaker,  friend, sister, daughter, and whatever else the Lord calls me for. I have started this blog for a few reasons. My number one goal is to minister to the parents of children with special needs and to bring more understanding to the public about this

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Some of the zoo crew and their shenanigans on St. Patrick’s Day at Galveston Beach.

population. It is a sweet burden to bear and one that offers far more benefits to those that care for a person with special needs than is comprehensible. A life where sometimes the challenges outweigh the victories. The victories are not always lasting and you learn to celebrate the moment.

With this blog, I want to share personal experiences and open up a dialogue with others looking to connect with someone that can relate as well as people who do not have experience with disabilities but want to understand this aspect of life more. I also want to offer resources that I have used myself or find that have helped others.

As this blog evolves you will be able to find information on events, camps, clubs, support for parents, educational resources, volunteer opportunities, and many other links and information to help make the best decisions possible for your family and to educate yourself with. The resources are out there but it can be overwhelming. My goal is to spotlight quality resources making it a little easier to navigate.

Another reason I have started this blog is to give a voice to single parents period. Yes, I have a child with a disability but I also have two children that do not. One is grown and has a daughter of her own while the other one still has a few years before he can fly the crazy coop. So, we will talk about trying to raise a healthy family when you have some pretty complicated circumstances and how I have survived by keeping my eyes on Jesus. My stories are not going to be about how I manage perfection but how I manage my beautiful mess.

Later, I will be adding some unique and interesting features that include bringing awareness to small businesses in my area with interviews and information that I hope will be fun to read and even more fun to visit.

Lastly, before my precious children begin arriving home from school and I begin the painstaking task of delegating chores, finding something to make for dinner that will not cause WWIII, and finding a way to make yard work a “fun” family affair, I will just add that I am an aspiring writer with an agenda. This blog will serve as my platform to introduce a very special series of books that I am just beginning to work on. These stories will entertain but more importantly they will educate. That is all I am going to say about that for now but I will reveal exclusive information and introduce you to characters as it comes along.

So, this is it. My first blog and your first look into my life and my purpose. I am excited to see my passion become a reality and I look forward to getting to know all of you.