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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Welcome back Diane! Let me know if there is anything I could help with. God Bless! Doc
Thank you so much Doc! Your doing exactly what you’ve been doing — advocating, speaking, leading, ministering, building and expanding SpNMin is exactly the encouragement I need to keep pulling my weight, too. God bless you, your family and ministry!
You are fabulous Diane. You never have to doubt again. Your writing touches the depths of my heart.
Oh, Bonnie! Thank you so much. I debated whether to even write this, much less post it. Devilry, no doubt. I seem to be a favorite of his for picking on 😉 Thank you for your encouragement!
Diane, you are an awesome writer, friend, and I’m so blessed to get to learn from you
Thank you dear Sherry! So blessed to be doing life together with you and your family. We love you!
Ohmygosh I love you! This is why I signed up for your blog updates — you make me laugh and cry AND pray. And you make me want to FIGHT HARDER. I’ve been wondering what happened to ya’! I’d just found your blog (and was gobbling it up — so yummy) when *POOF!* you disappeared. So I was pleasantly surprised to get the update. Your year sounded a lot like mine, actually. Which is why I laughed and cried so knowingly.
We have three children (2, 4 and 6) and all are affected by mild to severe language disorders (the baby doesn’t understand as much as he should and generally does not converse; the oldest did not speak until he was 5 and understands about 30% of what is said; our middle child is just that — somewhere between the two).
We moved out of state, sold our old home, bought a new one, and lived in provided temporary housing — resulting in three moves IN FOUR MONTHS — for my husband’s new job (after over ten years at his old one). I had never lived anywhere but my home state. Ever.
My marriage almost ended.
And I gained ten pounds.
Some days, when I wasn’t on the verge of a panic attack — I truly just wanted to kick things and scream obscenities. (Where is Weezer when you need her?!)
But this New Year’s Eve at Mass, I offered profound thanks for this arse-kicking, supremely HUMBLING year. It made me know myself, my weaknesses, my strengths, and my Savior.
Can you put a price on that?
Truly happy to have you back, friend.
Happy, happy New Year.
PS Don’t ever doubt that you are a good writer. Doubt that you are being faithful to your craft, MAYBE (because we all need a kick in the rear and good self-evaluation) but don’t think for a second that it is not worthy of your energy. You’re good. Really good. And I CANNOT WAIT to buy your book.
Welcome back! I had thought about you quite a bit over the Christmas break… had noticed your absence and was wondering where you went. Was hoping everything was ok. I can relate! Be good to yourself and hang in there! Blessings! 🙂
Thank you Kathy! Christmas is a very mentally-crowded time (at least for me). So honored to be in your thoughts and occupying valuable real estate 🙂 I’ve missed being here and connecting with you all. Not sure how often I can keep up blogging until the book releases. But I’m looking forward to being more active on the Facebook page at least. Happy New Year!
Oh, ANITA! You are a kindred spirit, I can tell 🙂 And you just blessed me to bits. You just gave me the epitaph for my tombstone, “She made SN moms laugh, cry and pray. She made them want to fight harder!” OH! If I can do that, then I’m obeying what God’s set me up to do. It’s readers like you that kick me in the butt (in the best way) to keep doing this. THANK YOU for your encouragement. Not sure how frequently I can maintain blogging (same challenges from last year remain in this year) but I’ll my best to (are u following on Facebook? I’m a lot more active there. Would LOVE to connect there with you.) So thankful and rejoicing with you, that you, too, can see your trials (all due respect. WOW) as a time of humbling, breaking down yet rebuilding, as only our God can do. As long as the journey leads us to a Closer Walk With Thee, amen? One more thing: her name is spelled Weezer? (face palm) Eegads, you’re right. My Spidy-senses-OCD-tendencies are tingling! Fighting the urge to go back and correct… Nah. I’m practicing being ok with being (gulp) just ok. Not perfect. Onward, my sister…! God bless.
Kindred Spirits — you have no IDEA. Know how I found you? Bing-searching “Tiger Mom, Special Needs”. (Bwah-ha-HAAAAAAAA! …Wiping tears of laughter…) And then I read your post about how God gave you a loud voice so you would be capable of directing traffic for passing cars as your special needs munchkin bolted like a pony, and I was like, “Twins? Could it be? But I’m of Scottish descent… Weird….”
Ohhhhhhhhh the coversations we could have over hot, caffeinated beverages…..
Not on FaceBook (because as I am so Tiger Mom, OCD, hard-headed, Southern-girl that I homeschool all these people) and I do not have the time. Will be content to read your blog. And that book you should get back to writing. 😉
My email is listed with you, give me a shout! I am a freelance writer on spiritual matters as well (tiny, tiny — not all big and important) and am HAPPY to be a bouncer-offer of ideas. I also edit… So I got that goin for me, which is nice.
Cheers, m’dear! XOXOXOXOXOXO
You found me via a Bing search on SN Tiger Moms?? LOVE that. And I just added you to my mental “pick their brains first” list 🙂
Diane, as always your post was awesome––encouraging, timely, hilarious and spot on! Thanks for reminding us that life is messy and that’s okay and that there’s a purpose to our pain. I can’t wait to be first in line at your book signing! Thanks for the best year in review that I’ve read in 2014 and 2015. 🙂
Thank you Adele! And I know you get me. There may be 31 flavors of crazy, but at the end of the day, we’re all equally a cold or hot mess 😉 And BTW, YOU are going to be instrumental in that book party becoming a real thang!
I miss you Diane!!!! I think about your clan here and there and i still wonder where you guys have moved to…miss seeing you in the parkin lot too. Hugggsss girl, see you there or in the air!!!
Winnie!!! Hope you and your clan are doing well, too! We are still local. Just a tad further south. We shall have to find a Safeway parking lot to rendezvous, for old times sake 🙂 Much love!
Diane, ah, I get it. This was a colossal year for me too. A lot of lonely suffering when I guess there didn’t necessarily need to be. Let’s catch up when you have a moment to breathe! Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him! Love, Helen
Oh Helen, its been too long! Moments to breathe are more like coming up for frantic gulps of air… before submerging again 🙁 Amen to keeping our eyes fixed on Him — and not the storm! Please do drop me a note offline whats been going on with your family! Love u guys!
Im sorry for such a stressful butt-kicking year! God’s always doing something, isn’t he? hugs!
p.s. I recall emailing bun & edie about rdi…a yr ago I think? Referred by friends 🙂 small world!
Ruth, I receive your hug, gladly, thank you! Indeed, He never lets us squat or settle 🙂 And what a small world indeed!!