This week is Thanksgiving week. Many of my friends have been doing “30 Days of Thankfulness” on Facebook, and I have been as well, but I have been thinking that as Christians, an attitude of Gratitude should not JUST be for the month of November, or Just for the week of Thanksgiving, but a Daily habit, 365 days a year. Now I know, this is not an easy task. It is easy to get lost in the sea of all we want, or don’t have. Lets face it, life is full of trials, and it can be a challenge to be thankful in the midst of the hard times in life.
The Bible tells us, however, that a thankful heart and a cheerful heart is like medicine. It will guard our hearts, and when we remember to give a sacrifice of praise, even in the middle of the trials and storms, we find a place of peace in the midst of the storms. This is the place I find myself Daily. As I sat in church Sunday listening to a dear friend and mother of a special needs child share her lessons in thankfulness, I found myself nodding, crying, and smiling as I related to every word she spoke. I felt as though I was standing up there myself.
I Traveled back to a time when Dak was a baby. When all seemed “Normal” , the Baby chatter, the entire development process, and then to the day when it all screeched to a halt. Where there was once “momma” ,” Dadada”, “Baba” there was only silence. where there was once outstretched pudgy little hands reaching to be picked up, to be held, there was only withdrawal . I remembered the fear, the heartache, the worry. I remembered arguing with his Dr’s, who simply felt I was being a paranoid mom “oh boys normally talk later than girls”….or “lets test His hearing”. I remembered giving in and letting them refer him for a hearing test, which turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened. You see, the hearing referral landed on the “wrong” desk…it landed on the desk of Early intervention instead of the hearing clinic. The Lady from Early intervention called me to let me know so I could have the pediatrician correct the “mistake” , and as I talked to her, as my fears and concerns poured out like a flood, she said to me, sounds like you need to bring him here for an evaluation, we might be able to help if there is a significant enough delay. Looking back, I know that what some saw as a “paperwork mistake” was in fact NOT a Mistake, it was one of the best things that could have happened.
I then traveled to the time when Shawna was very young, and was in the hospital, very ill with RSV, and I did not leave her side. My amazing Husband had his hands full with a 5 year old Sara, and a 3 year old Dakota, and they would call me on the phone each night, and Dakota for the first time EVER said to me on the phone “mommy” and I wept like a baby.
The next memory that flashed through my mind was of Shawna at age 3 and Dak at age 5. He had missed the kindergarten cut-off due to where His Birthday falls, and that meant I had him and Shawna both home while Sara was at school, and for the first time since Shawna was born, I watched a friendship blossom and grow. where He used to Ignore his baby sister, there was now laughter and smiles as He acknowledged that she existed, and that she really was “ok” he had accepted her into his world, and it was a beautiful thing to watch.
As I listened to my friend talk about grieving the loss of the child “you dreamed of” and learning to accept the child you have, of learning to be thankful for the small things, or even the “simplest of milestones” being roadblocks, mountains, challenges, I found myself nodding in agreement, remembering each one with a mixture of laughter, tears and thankfulness. Rejoicing in those things that we have conquered, crying out for the mountains we are still climbing, all he while thanking God for this friend He has brought across my path who truly “gets it” .
I found myself giving thanks for my two amazing “typical” Daughter’s who are both a tremendous blessing to me, a comfort to my heart. They are wonderful with their brother, and yet have found a way to maintain their own individuality and social lives in spite of the challenges of having a special needs sibling. They will tell their peers in a hurry that He is their brother, and that he may be different, but He is not less, and while they cherish time without him, they do their best to include him when His mood is to be included.
I found myself Crying out with an overwhelming love, and thankfulness for my wonderful Husband, who stands beside me, and at times behind me for me to lean on as we walk this road together. He is a pillar of strength, always there for me, and is one of the most priceless gifts God has given me. He wont let me quit, but understands when i need to curl up and cry, He wont let me give into self pity, but understands my need to grieve. His love for ALL three of our children is an amazing thing to see, and I thank God daily for that day, 15 years ago, standing on a rock in Joshua tree, California, when my whole body screamed “RUN” and my heart said “No, This is the one”.
My thoughts then went to the friends in my life who have stood by me through this, who have knelt down to Dak’s level, who take the time to see the child, and not get lost in the disability.
Life is not easy, and sure there is a lot I would “Like to have” BUT, I am blessed beyond measure, God continues to provide my every need, and because I have accepted the greatest gift of all, that God loved me enough to send His only son to die for me, I am rich. Jesus took all my pain, all my fear, all the rejection with him on the cross, and with HIS help, I can climb any mountain life puts in my way. Sure I have days when i stumble, when the mountains look impossible, but its on those days when God sends a friend with a hug, a “how are you holding up” a phone call just to say “I am thinking of you”.
To my dear friend who shared her heart on Sunday, Thank you for sharing your heart, thank you for your friendship. You are a blessing.