She was falling apart. The craft supplies she had left in the car, and then brought into the house (I saw her bring them in), were missing. She cried, screamed, demanded that we all help her look for them. We looked in all the obvious and many not-so-obvious places. No one saw them.
At her request, I went back outside to the car with her to look again. While there, I asked if she had prayed. I barely got the words out of my mouth when she said, “Please, God. I need help!”
We went back inside, and she continued to rant, although she was a bit calmer. The rest of us went about our business, and she continued to look.
Within a few minutes, she came into my room, sniffling. “I felt like God was telling me to look in my closet again. I did, and there they were, on the floor.”
I guided her through apologies for her behavior in the heat of the emotions, and she was sincerely repentant. She went about organizing her craft supplies, which was her original intention, and I rejoiced, thanking God for the progress I had seen in the incident:
The meltdown wasn’t as bad as before we began seeking help and receiving therapy.
It didn’t last as long as in the past.
Most importantly: She prayed, God answered, and she recognized His answer.
Just like in our lives, our children’s faith grows as they pray about “little” things and God answers, building their faith to believe Him in the bigger things. This is major progress and a reason to rejoice.
I have shared more stories of God’s work in my family and our homeschool recently here:
For more from the Be Fully Persuaded series, including testimonies of God’s love and faithfulness to my family in times past, click the graphic below:
Blogging for Good: #EndItMovement
I’m blessed to be at home with my children right now. Blessed that they’re home with me. But there are 27 million men, women, and children who are not so blessed. They are slaves. Join me today for “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” as we raise awareness of modern-day slavery so that we can begin, together, to fight for their freedom.
The Struggling Reader is a sponsor of this blog. As part of our agreement, I agreed to review their products. However, I am not required to write positive reviews. All opinions in this review are my own. I believe The Struggling Reader program will be helpful to you.
The Struggling Reader – Sight Words Test and Instructional Activities
My daughter and I continue to work through The Struggling Reader program. Our latest adventure is Sight Words. As with Phonemic Awareness and Phonics, the assessment was very easy. The flashcards were preprinted with sight words (most frequent to least frequent). I made copies of the evaluation sheets, and I marked my daughter’s responses, including times she read the words correctly but hesitated before answering.
The assessment made it clear which sight words needed the most work. With that in mind, I turned to the instructional activities and got started. As with the other The Struggling Reader programs, the sight words activities were each marked with the types of learning styles they work best with. The activities are fun and easy to do with items you probably already have on hand.
The Struggling Reader’s sight words program is, like their other programs, reasonably priced. The value increases when you realize that the Eckenwilers have done all the hard work for you! The entire program is set up and ready to use.
(One more photo because I had a model who needed to pose with the product. )
Where You Can Meet the Eckenwilers of The Struggling Reader
If you’re looking for more information about The Struggling Reader and would like to preview the products before you buy, you can meet the Eckenwilers at one of several homeschool conferences and conventions this year:
What I Wish I’d Known about Having a Child with Special Needs
I could probably write a book about things I wish I’d known about having a child with special needs, but a few things really stand out. If I had it to do over again, here are the main things I would tell myself as I started out on this journey:
Trust your gut. While you may grow tired of being right, especially when it means more diagnoses to face and more things to deal with, you will be right more often than not. God has given you the instincts and intuition needed to care for your child. Trust yourself.
You won’t get all the answers you want. Real life isn’t like TV shows and the movies. Often, there are no easy answers. After years of specialist appointments and therapy sessions, we still don’t have the overarching diagnosis for our daughter. Genetics doesn’t even have the necessary tests for the next step developed yet. And, if you do get some answers, there’s often no good answer for the question everyone asks—and that keeps you up at night: What’s the prognosis? Will she outgrow _____?
Life will settle into a routine. Despite how overwhelmed you feel with each new diagnosis, therapy, medication, and specialist, life does settle into a routine, something that feels like a new “normal.” Hang in there through the transition. Things will get better.
Words of Wisdom from Other Special Needs Parents
I asked some of my friends who have children with special needs, defined as children who are gifted, have medical issues, neurodevelopmental issues, learning challenges, etc., what they wish they had known as they started this journey. Here are their thoughts:
“That I didn’t need to rush and try to ‘fix’ all delays and problems at once. We found we could slow down and address the most pressing issue one at a time. Much less stress involved!” - Heather Laurie
“Oh, it’s ok to do only FOUR long division problems a day and call it ‘math’ for the day. You are doing all 4 operations, so it is big bang for the buck. Especially if you have a child who is struggling to master it.
I wish I had known to trust my instincts and not second guess myself so much.” – Carol Anne Swett
“One thing I wished I had known or would have told myself is that it is okay that our children are different. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. What works for one child, doesn’t always work for another.” – Joy Ellis
“I wish I would have spent more time in the beginning addressing the emotional needs rather than seeing it as an academic issue. I put all my energy in finding the right curriculum, the right method, and the right strategy to ‘fix’ my child that I forgot about the child. My child doesn’t need to be ‘fixed,’ my child needs to be confident in her own abilities, feel loved, and feel capable. This is her journey, not my project or homeschool obstacle. God knew she would struggle with dyslexia and He had a plan and purpose for all of it. He also gave me charge over this child so He will equip me. I just need to trust in Him and relax.” – Richele McFarlin
“That I would have fight for everything from diagnosis, therapy, treatments and second opinions.” – LaToya Edwards
“Two things… 1) That at our darkest moments (for which there will be many), we should hold on and know that at some point, there will be a reprieve, a breather, a breath. That while we await the next thing to happen, and it will happen, there will be moments of light and promises of warmth. 2) That being J’s mom will be the most fulfilling, purposeful time in my life.” – Gina St. Aubin
“That you don’t have to end up with the normal cookie cutter life you think you should have to be happy and at peace with who you are and who your amazing child will grow up to be. You will find happiness in the smallest of things and live life so much more than you ever knew was possible.” – Cheryl Bailey
“Sometimes Johnny Ben will not eat or sleep for a few days. After talking to his doctors we realized that there really isn’t much we can do about it and that he will “bounce back” after a few days. In the beginning it really stressed us out, but now we just offer him nourishing shakes and relaxing environments and wait without near as much anxiety. A close second is that he may never speak. No one told me that up front.” – Angie Schott
“That it would be a challenge but as the chosen mother to this child I am equipped to handle it! It takes research, prayer, and love. That I do not have to fear the unknown. God takes the hard and makes it beauty from it.” – Angela Biehn Parsley
Paul Eiche wrote a letter to himself and his wife on this very topic—what they wish they’d known at the beginning of their daughter’s life about her struggles and medical issues.
For more articles about homeschooling or parenting a child with special needs, click here.
For over a year, I have shared testimonies of God’s work in my life in the Be Fully Persuaded series. And I love reading others’ stories of God’s faithfulness as much as I love sharing them.
Because of our common beliefs and goals, I met (online) and made a new friend in Jennifer White. She is a prayer warrior and a firm believer in prayer’s power. We have shared our hearts and many answered prayers through social media, emails, and phone calls. Our shared focus on God and His answers to prayer led her to ask me to write a testimony for her book Prayers Spoken, Lives Changed. This testimony is one I have never fully shared here, and it makes up a chapter of her encouraging and inspiring eBook.
For Valentine’s Day, we want to offer you the evidence of God’s love expressed in Prayers Spoken, Lives Changed—absolutely free! All you need to do is visit Jennifer’s site and sign up for her newsletter. She’ll email you the download link for the book so you can read my testimony and the others included in the book.
We pray that this book blesses you and reminds you that God’s love for you and your family is deeper than you can imagine and that He is actively at work on your behalf!
*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this site!
Letting Go, Life, Writing, and Margin
I’ve been thinking a lot about my two words for 2014 lately. “Let God” has led me to let go of a home-based business I’ve built for two years, start a new one with accompanying ministry opportunities, and even reevaluate my blog and writing. It has been a difficult and painful process, but I’m finding something else.
Just before the new year, I began a YouVersion.com devotional plan called “Margin.” It confirmed what I already knew—that I must determine what God’s purposes for my life are, and I must say no to every activity, no matter how good, that doesn’t fulfill His purposes for me. I’ve been seeking His will and wondering why, when I know He has called me to write, I also feel that He is drawing me to a new venture as well as renewing my passion and commitment to homeschooling our children and being the best mother I can be.
Then I realize something that I’ve heard before but that never hit me the way it has now. It also explains a lot about why I struggle so much in my calling as a writer.
My writing is an overflow of my life. If I don’t spend time living, I have nothing to write about.
Why has it taken me so long to realize that being a writer isn’t about just sitting in front of the computer all day every day. (Well, sometimes it is, but not usually.) One reason I struggle so with writing is because I’m focused on the writing, not the living!
When I play with my kids, read great books, start my day in prayer and Bible study, knit or crochet, have great conversations with friends, enjoy sharing dreams and plans with my husband, prepare great food for my family, and stay on top of my household chores, I have more to write about (and it comes more easily) than when I’m trying to “be a writer.” In fact, I often know exactly what I’ll write before I ever sit down with my computer because I’ve had ideas come to me throughout the day, and I’ve composed mentally in quiet moments doing dishes, folding laundry, and knitting or crocheting. That means less time sitting in front of a screen, which makes my husband and children very happy.
Why didn’t I see it before? Why did I read or hear it but not understand? I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to comprehend the necessity of living a life full of love and purpose in order to be a good writer.
I’m just glad I finally got to this point. I’ll continue posting articles, but no more than two or three times a week, usually. I have a life to live with my beautiful family, with children who are growing up way too fast and a husband I need to stay connected to since I want our 12.5 years to be 200 more. I have books to write (and I’m working on that too), and I have a new ministry to pour into—one my children can fully participate in with me.
I’m excited to see where God is taking us, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you.
How do you build margin into your life to focus on what matters most?
Join me at iHomeschool Studio, an online homeschool conference with iHomeschool Network, this week for “Time Management for Special Needs Moms (and every other mom!)” as I share more of my journey toward margin and rest.
Can’t make the live session? Your ticket includes the MP3s of all sessions so you can listen to the recordings later!
*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!
When You Get a Different Dream
I have written about how my writing has taken a much different turn than I expected. (I explained that in more detail in a chapter I wrote for iBlog.) This turn of events came about because I gave birth to a child with special needs. My life is much different from what I imagined.
Jolene Philo got a different dream too, when her child was born with a birth defect with serious health repercussions. I first became aware of her story when I reviewed her book Different Dream Parenting. Since then, I have interacted with her regularly on Twitter, and I enjoy visiting her site.
*This post contains affiliate links. The commission I make from your purchases is the only income I receive from these products. Thank you for supporting my site!
iBlog Pro and iHomeschool Studio
I have been blessed to be part of iHomeschool Network for a couple of years now, and I am always amazed at how much stronger we are when we work together.
Once again, I am stronger from collaborating with iHomeschool Network on another book! (I wrote several chapters in iBlog, which released last year.) The book is iBlog Pro, and it is full of all-new information to help you take your blog to the next level!
If you missed iBlog last year, you can still get it here:
And, in case you missed the announcement I made earlier, I’m speaking next week at an online homeschool conference created by iHomeschool Network. It’s called iHomeschool Studio, and I’ll be speaking about time management for special needs moms (and every other mom!) on Thursday, February 13, 2014, at 3:30 pm ET. There are other speakers on Thursday—great speakers all week, in fact! The ticket price includes MP3 downloads for the sessions you can’t attend live. It’s a fantastic deal! Order your tickets here:
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned here for free with the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. This post may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Unstoppable with Kirk Cameron
After recently purchasing and watching Kirk Cameron’s Monumental, and because I have dealt with my share of tragedy and suffering, I was excited to receive Unstoppable, in which Kirk tackles the question “Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?” I respect Kirk and believed he would tackle it in a God-honoring manner. I wanted to see how he handled this tough question.
The DVD is Dove approved for ages 12 and up. My older daughter, who is a very mature 10.5, and I watched the DVD together. (After seeing it, I believe that I was right to wait a few years before allowing my 8.5-year-old watch it.) We both feel like it was very well done, although it was different than I anticipated.
I guess I thought Kirk would offer some “answers” of a sort, trying to comfort and encourage through the platitudes people often offer when someone is suffering. Unfortunately, they’re normally not any more helpful than the words Job’s friends spoke to him in his suffering.
Instead of saying the same things we always hear about how God works everything for good and that God has a plan and a purpose in and through our suffering (He does, but that’s not always immediately helpful to hear), Kirk tells us about a loss that set him on this journey and then shows us his answer to where God is in the midst of tragedy and suffering.
Kirk’s answer is biblical truth, and the presentation is highly visual and is presented in a way that will stay with me for a long time.
This DVD is for anyone (ages 12+) who has ever grappled with hard questions about God’s presence in the midst of our heartache, pain, and agony. I recommend it and will watch it again.
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. If you have won a giveaway on my blog in the past thirty days, you are ineligible for this giveaway. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18 or older and will end on Wednesday, February 5, 2014, at 9:00 pm CST. To enter, leave a comment telling me how I can pray for you this week. Only one comment per person (but you can include as many prayer requests as you’d like in your comment!). Duplicate comments and comments left after the giveaway ends will be deleted.
The winner will be chosen at random using the plug-in “And The Winner Is.” The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the end of the giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond with the requested information. The information will be sent to Propeller Consulting, LLC so they can send the DVD. If I don’t receive a response within 24 hours, I will choose another winner.
Enter now: How may I pray for you and your family this week?
To the Parent Struggling with Your Child’s Diagnosis
Note: This article does not address having a child with a terminal diagnosis. If this is your situation, my heart goes out to you. Please let me know how I can pray for you by leaving a comment or sending me an email or private message through social media.
Your child just received a new diagnosis, or you’ve had a diagnosis for a while and it’s just hit you—or something else has happened and you have a whole new understanding now….
I’ve been there. In your shoes. Right where you are.
Through the years, my daughter has received medical diagnoses, neurodevelopmental diagnoses, and diagnoses of learning difficulties. We’re still seeing genetics every two years, waiting for science to catch up with her DNA, looking for the elusive genetic disorder that ties everything together. Even though I suspected and was expecting most of the diagnoses she’s received, they still threw me for a loop. Some took my breath away, leaving me speechless.
For a while, I would look at my precious child and be unable to see anything other than the diagnosis, the new treatments, medications, or therapy needed. I would fret about the cost of what she needed. I would care for her needs on autopilot, trying to process all the new information coming at me.
Sometimes I was in denial, unsure of (or not wanting to deal with) the ramifications of the new diagnosis. Later, I awakened to reality and had to deal with everything the new diagnosis meant while still living with the uncertainty of exactly what the future holds.
Often, after making my peace with a diagnosis, something happens much later that causes me to face the reality of a diagnosis again. I have been confronted with the continuing social issues that a diagnosis of high-functioning autism brings, or a health crisis after seeing her in a stable place with her medical issues for a while.
It’s hard. So hard.
More than anything, what helps me is to take a step back from all the jargon, medications, and other treatment options to really look at my child.
She’s beautiful. She smart. She’s kind and loving. She has an innocence that’s lacking in a lot of children today. She is slowly figuring out humor, and that makes me laugh because she’s constantly asking, “That’s funny, isn’t it? Is it funny?”
She’s the same child I fell in love with before all the diagnoses. Each diagnosis is just a tool that shows me what treatments, therapies, and medications will help her to reach her full potential and be her best self.
You’re struggling today? Look at your child. Really look at him. What made you fall in love with him first? That child is still there. Look past all the new information you have and realize that your child hasn’t changed. You just have the information you need to meet her needs in a way you haven’t been able to before.
Breathe. Take one day at a time.
Still struggling? Please let me know if I can do anything to help. Leave a comment, send me an email, or connect with me on social media. I still have those days too, but they don’t come as often. Take heart.
What is your best advice for making peace with your child’s diagnosis?
*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!
Today’s post was written by my sister-friend Kristin Andrews, a woman who has been part of my life since I was seven months old. She doesn’t blog but writes beautiful thoughts in her prayer journal during her daily quiet time. She has agreed to share this entry from her journal with us.
Hearing God Amid Life’s Distractions by Kristin Andrews
The Lord has made two things.
He has made ears that hear.
He has also made eyes that see.
Proverbs 20:12 NIRV
I never realized how important hearing was until my son lost hearing in his left ear. I have watched him in a crowded room, misunderstanding what people say. I have watched him do something he thought I told him to do even though I said something entirely different. I have also watched him get closer to me when he really wants to understand what I have to say about something.
Isn’t that much like us? In a world full of distractions, do we sometimes misunderstand God because we can’t hear Him because of everything else that surrounds us?
Haven’t we done something that we thought God told us to do, only to find out we hadn’t really heard Him at all?
Isn’t it interesting that if we get close and truly give Him our time and attention that we will hear what He is really saying?
Pray: Lord, let me not be distracted or deceive myself into thinking I am hearing you. Let me draw close to read your lips and hear your words. Open my ears and let me hear! Open my eyes and let me see! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For more encouragement, visit these guest posts I (Jennifer) had appear on other sites this week: