Gracious Blog Readers,
I’ve been away.
It’s been over six months since I last wrote a post. Thank you, though, for sticking around to see this one.
It’s been a hard year. One that whooped me to the likes I haven’t experienced since Autism D-Day ten years ago. No incidents of death, disease or dismemberment. And certainly nothing compared to much greater injustices and suffering in the world (maybe even happening at your house.) But stressful, nevertheless.
Rather than bore you with wordy descriptions, I shall bore with words and pictures. A visual representation, à la PECS: Why I fell off the grid the second half of 2014. Without further ado, I humbly and apologetically offer my own Postcards from the Edge.
2014 in pictures
January 2014 began auspiciously enough. “By gum, I shall finish this book!” I vowed. But, alas, my beloved church imploded.
I shall not speak further on the matter.
By March, we were blessed to join a vibrant church plant, where I was asked to build a new special needs ministry. AWESOME. How many church plants launch with a Special Needs ministry initiative from Day 1? None that I know. I frantically called upon the expertise of Joni and Friends and The Inclusive Church, and we were up and running by April.
With the skyrocketing rates of disability in the San Francisco Bay Area, if you build a Special Needs Ministry, they will come. Quickly. And bring friends. In a matter of months, we tripled from 5 to 15 special needs participants/families, with a wait list to boot (a “wait list.” For church. Oh, how the heavens must groan.) By May, as Edna Mode would say, “It has completely confiscated my life!” Because if raising a special needs child requires at least 4 times more work than a typical child, so does raising a special needs ministry.
We were also been knee-deep in IEP season. It took 12 months of negotiations and haggling (“Lord, help me not lose my witness…”) to convince our SD to swap out an ineffective SLP for our son.
Between juggling what felt like 3 full-time jobs — publishing/writing, autism-parenting, and a rapidly growing church ministry– I was starting to get slammed by things like this…
… And this…
By June, home sweet home began looking like this…
By July, something had to give. But home, hearth and Special Needs families are not widgets easily set aside. So, farewell Facebook and blog. For now, at least.
In August, life sweetly flipped the script, again. My brother (moved by great compassion) shipped us off to Europe for a weeklong respite. I’ll spare you the gruesome, pitiable details how much we positively suffered in London and Paris, sans kids.
Instead, let’s fast-forward to One Moment In Particular…
During a tour of the Notre Dame, I was struck by a panel depicting the Road to Emmaus. The Disciples had committed their lives to follow Jesus. Yet He died, leaving them utterly bewildered. Now what?? As they stumbled along, they failed to recognize the risen Savior among them. He had sidled in close, tucking in tight, to dialogue and lead them to clarity and fresh conviction. I, too, had committed to lifelong discipleship, which included a call to write. Yet my plans kept getting hijacked. The moral to both? We may not have eyes to recognize, but Jesus is actively present with us. KEEP WALKING.
Fueled with fresh determination, I took a sabbatical from church ministry in October. For every weekend that month (I have the most supportive husband in the world), I holed up a cabin to focus on the manuscript. Only I hit a new wall: Crippling self-doubt, hyper-criticality, perfectionism and fear of failure, of not meeting expectations. I just couldn’t focus, let alone commit much to print. I felt trapped.
Stuck and desperate, I had myself checked out for ADD/ADHD, OCD, anxiety, impaired executive functioning, or God-Only Knows-What-Not Otherwise Specified. The doctor expressed mild concern I might just be a high-strung overachiever, seeking performance-enhancing drugs (go on, laugh. I almost did.) But he agreed: I was overwhelmed with few alternatives, and needed help. Diagnosis is still TBD. That was November 13th, the day of our 15th wedding anniversary. Oh, the irony of, “In sickness and in health.”
December slipped in. Too exhausted for festive decor or merriment, we eschewed parties to bunker down for a month of Silent Nights. While the rest of the world ate, drank and made merry, Jesus silently entered into a chaotic world of fear and confusion. Christmas doesn’t have to be happy or merry. It was meant to be holy, set apart and reverent. We ought not expect too much from a broken planet anyway (Hallmark and Hollywood LIE. “Every kiss< does not> begin with Kay…”) Jesus never had a tree. Yet Christmas survived. We shall, too. Such is the hope we have in Christ.
And here we are
Truthfully, I’d hoped to return to the blogosphere in triumph: book published, and jubilant reports of sales screaming off the shelves. But things rarely go as planned,
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
~ Proverbs 19:21
God has His perfect plan and timing. He does not use us to get His holy projects done; He uses projects to get us done; to get us holy. Ministry, parenting, or publishing is not His ultimate objective. Me, His child’s sanctification — our perfection-ification– is. And history shows He does not birth His perfect plans, prematurely. Trust that He is an On-Time God.
Madness and joy. Joy in madness
So here we are. Two days into the new year: No tree, no book, no glory. Just a lot more gray hairs and extra poundage. Beat up, banged-up and busted, but having gained priceless lessons on humility and surrender. The world doesn’t consider batterings as blessings; Disciples do. And for that, I am deeply grateful.
I came back because I needed to. Post-diagnosis journaling saved my sanity once (like so many of us, I don’t have time for therapy.) But to go half a year without a place to park my mental-stuff was leaving me emotionally constipated.
I came back because I needed you. Every interaction, every click or comment reminds me we are Not Alone in our struggles. Thank you for being that for me.
Tears that erupt in the midst of senseless sorrow –among friends who “get it”– are sweetest and most precious…
When there’s nothing we can do to help each other’s suffering, nothing to alleviate the pressure, we need trusted friends to grab us and say,
“Here! Hit this. Take a whack at ‘Weeza!”
It makes no sense. Life often doesn’t make sense. Well, to us, at least.
When life hijacks our joy, hijack it right back. Ambush senseless sorrow with defiant joy.
Like Ms. ‘Weeza, this is my chance to do something for my fellow special needs parents. This is why God called me to write.
I want to keep showing up –however infrequently or incoherently I may stumble in– even (especially?) when I don’t have my schnitzel together.
I pray you do, too. Although we may never meet, though I may never know the face or diagnosis of your child, or the specifics of your family’s pain, I pray we can experience what C.S. Lewis said,
Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
A Holy (if not “Happy”) New Year
Ten years ago when our son was diagnosed, I had no idea that my faith crisis that followed would become the manuscript for Faith Rehab: Spiritual Recovery for the Special Needs Parent (God willing, it will be published this year!)
Now, a decade later, I faced another cataclysmic year of feeling overwhelmed, dreadfully inadequate for the task assigned.
But God has already demonstrated that He never wastes pain. When He permits me to stay in situations that exceed my capacity, it’s because He plans to expand it.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
~ Hebrews 12:7-13
So, thank you 2014, for one of the most thrilling, butt-kicking & humbling years in a long time. I’m leaning into the wind, trusting and believing that last year’s struggles were but discipline, training and stretching. Sowing, for a season of new blessings to come.
And thank you for sticking with me. As we enter 2015, I look forward to whackin’ more ‘Weeza’s with you.
Happy (Holy) New Year.
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