A Special Needs City on a Hill

There’s a post going around Facebook; it’s the “Have You Ever …” version for special needs parents. It’s a mixed list of “Have you ever … Diffused a Meltdown or had to <insert whatever> for your child.” I reposted it because I thought there was a little community in it. Some, “Hey, you aren’t alone!” Most people responded by saying they had done all but three, maybe two. We’ve done them all. All nineteen on the list we have experienced to some extent. My husband said, “WE WIN! What’s our prize?!” Special needs and all that comes with it gives us community, the ‘I get it’ with each other. But ‘have you ever’ considered just maybe we are not only our own little community but a special needs city, a Special Needs City on a Hill?

I posted this list after a night of sickness in our house. Sickness from our guy who has special needs and an ongoing disease that’s causing side effects of daily sickness. All day, every day. One of our other children has had that run of the mill stomach virus that just won’t leave. Just when we, and he, thought it was gone, nope. He took a flying run down the hallway to get to the bathroom and almost made it there. Almost. And then there is the dog. Yes, the dog. Even she is now in on the fun. Aging doggies who leave piles of ick? Makes you want to run right over and visit us, right? Bring your hazmat suit.

There is community in our special needs world that others may not ever understand. We go to bed nights whooped with the thoughts that others, even those closest to us, have absolutely no idea what goes on in between these walls. We rarely venture out of them because who wants clean up on aisle five?

We aren’t pretty when we go out. It takes planning. Do you have the medical bag, extra IV fluids, things for those emergency bathroom moments? Extra everything, actually. Just getting in and out of the car takes planning, more than one person to help, making sure all the tubes and cords aren’t caught on anything. It’s an orchestrated event. After all this planning, my introverted self would stay home nine times out of ten if given the choice. Community is hard. This little light of mine? Hide my light under a bushel, please.

But what happens when we do go out? What happens when we leave the comfort zone of our little world? What about the community of people who aren’t on the list of “Have you Evers?” What are we, and they, missing when we don’t shove ourselves out there? We’ve been called to be a city on a hill, a light that cannot be hidden. I don’t know about you, but when we go out, there is no hiding us. We are ob-vi-ous.

I will tell anyone and everyone, “I’m fine.” Even when everyone and the dog is puking their guts up. Maybe what the community needs to know is we aren’t fine. We are struggling over here. We have done every single thing on the “Have You Ever?” list and we need you to come to us. We can’t go anywhere. Please come here. And just know it isn’t pretty. Hold a puke bucket. Get messy with us.

Matthew 5:14-16 is the verse about being a city on a hill, a light that brightens the whole house. I love how The Voice’s version goes on to say, ” so men and women … may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to me, and may turn and praise your Father in Heaven because of it.”

Maybe we go there. Maybe they come here. Either way, we are a City. We have a special needs community with each other already. We know what each other is going through. We get it. I see you on that “Have You Ever?” list. But do they? I’m becoming okay with being different. (Finally, it’s only been how many years?) We’ve been made different, a Special Needs City, and we shine bright. Shine so others may see creation at its fullest. Shine so others may see our devotion to our Father in Heaven. Shine so others may turn and give praise to Him because of it.

Don’t worry, we will make sure the stomach virus is well gone before we come your way, World.

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Adoption Month. We Live it Everyday.

It’s National Adoption Month. Normally, this month’s celebration goes by with little hoorah. Only those who have adopted bring it to the attention of others. We change our Facebook profiles to show we are pro-adoption. We tweet to the masses all the adoption blogposts. We retweet, repost and tell anyone who will listen about what the Chapman’s are doing. You know, THE Chapman’s. Steven Curtis and Mary Beth. Anyone who is a Christian and who has adopted is in the know about the Chapman’s. Just me? This month. It’s our little way of reminding everyone that adoption may have been a one time thing for most of us. But adoption, we live it everyday in our house.

Adoption isn’t a one time thing and life goes on normally. Adoption happens everyday in our house. It comes back in questions, in trauma, in the giggles, interests, and in the face of our child and in our lives everyday. We are reminded of this responsibility that we begged God to have. We are reminded when we meet the eyes of people who do not understand trauma one bit. And I don’t mean the everyday person; I’m talking about educators, physicians, people who we expected to support this journey yet are so blind to the needs of adoption. Adoption is an everyday battle to be won for our child.

But isn’t that just how Jesus does adoption? It’s how he adopted all of us into his fold. He sees us at the heart just like we see our child. We continue to question him daily about this road he had adopted us into. He sees all of our trauma and baggage we brought along with us and did not leave at the alter when we said yes to him. When we say, ‘No one understands me and what I am going through.’ He does. When everyone, even the most educated do not understand our hurts, our needs, the one who adopted us sees. Jesus didn’t just adopt us on day one and leave us to the wolves. He sees us and fights for us everyday. And he sees the needs of our children.

National Adoption Month. It’s in the news this year because of congress and the cuts that may or may not be made. You can bet I am on the side of keeping those tax benefits because this adoption stuff isn’t a one time thing. Yay, it’s Gotcha Day and it’s done! Nope. Gotcha Day happens everyday. We gotcha every single day and all that comes with this adoption. The joy (Oh, the joy!). The trauma (Yeah, trauma.). Adoption means one of us now; to make one’s own. Jesus made us one of his, everyday. And our child’s adoption is no different: this month, every month, everyday is Adoption Month in our house.

Lipstick Review is Backkk!

I could hear the people chanting, “Bring back the Lipstick review!” Or maybe it was just the voices in my head. Either way. The long wait is over. Basically, a much younger friend told me my lipstick was “spot on.” (Young people lingo. This is good, right?) I took it as a compliment. And the inner-chanting for the lipstick review began.

Plus, I’m tiring of writing of the hard days. We had a good night last night. We actually left the house as a family for the first time in months. And by ‘left the house’ I mean we went somewhere fun. No hospital, ER, doctor appointments, just family fun. And there was lipstick. Not that chapstick lipstick I normally wear. Which is great and amazing and deserves its own review. But real lipstick.


I’ll stop the suspense. My go to lipstick of the moment is — Lorac PRO Matte Lip Color. I got sucked in to one of those last-minute checkout counter displays at Ulta one weak moment during the hard days. I was shopping my feelings and bought four. They were on sale, okay! Half off was my excuse. Little did I know these would become my favorites and most complimented (two compliments) lipsticks.

Number 1 — EASY. This is my requirement for all lipstick. I have to be able to put it on without looking at myself, rub it in, go. And then not look at myself later and think, “Dear God, what was I thinking and where is my reliable chapstick?”

Number 2 — It lasts. It lasts and doesn’t give me flaky chapped lips that I just have to dig for ole’ reliable again.

Number 3 — EASY. I know I mentioned this already. But I want a lipstick to be not just easy to put on and wear. I want it to be easy to carry around. In a pocket, my purse, the car cup holder, wherever. I don’t want it to melt in the summer or be rock hard in the winter. I don’t want to sharpen it. I don’t want those pencil slivers poking me when it gets down too far and I need to sharpen but don’t have a sharpener. You know? I want the same thing all the time. EASY.

Yes, I bought four. Remember, I got them HALF off. Bargain city. And the colors were amazing. So many of them looked good on my skin I couldn’t decide. So, four. I have Greige. Apparently, greige looks good on walls, fingernails, and lips. Dusty Plum is light lavenderish, pinkish, taupe-ish: one of the compliments was, “I love that! But, I could never wear purple lipstick!” Thanks, I think. I didn’t think it was that purple, but maybe? Cabernet sounds like red wine, of course, but is really just a brown. And it was the color that was “Spot on!” And my favorite, but least worn so far, Aubergine. Not many chances while in the hospital to wear dark eggplant lipstick. But, I’m ready now that fall is here. It’s coming out.

I love Lorac cosmetics (Obviously, I bought four lipsticks.) because they are made for those of us with sensitive skin. And my skin can be a bit persnickety. This lipstick comes in a satin formula, but I love the matte. And as I’ve said before, it lasts. One and done. You get what you get for the day. Except maybe a swipe of that ole’ reliable chapstick. Maybe that will be the next review …

Is God Still Good When The News Isn’t?


I read someone else’s good news with a little bit of sting in my heart. All of the responses were filled with joy. (As they should have been.) More than a few read, “God is so good.” Yeah, God is good when the news is good. But what about when the news isn’t all we had hoped it would be? Is God still good when the news isn’t?

I hope people aren’t thinking God isn’t as good here because things are hard these days? I don’t have as many “God is so good!” comments coming my way. I get more prayer emojis on my end. But the truth is, I’m not living in a world where I think God is only good when the good things happen. Just because we haven’t been able to ring that final bell resounding the end of our difficult journey doesn’t mean God suddenly went bad. Actually, I believe something quite different.

Even thought our journey has been pain filled, it’s dang hard if I’m honest, I still get to see more of God’s goodness than you might imagine.

When I read Psalm 31:19 it tells me to take refuge in him and I will find his goodness. I don’t know about you, but I seek refuge in God in the hard times much more often than the good. During those good days I’m rolling along, windows down, without much need for refuge. But those rocky days? Duck and cover. God’s refuge, here I come. Psalm 31 says, “How great is your goodness … for those who take refuge in you.” I’ll find God’s goodness during the rough stuff way more often than the easy days, right?

God’s goodness doesn’t change according to our circumstances. Remember, that thing about him being an unchanging God? Just because I am wavering and scared and anxious in this fire does not mean God is feeling the same. He is where my refuge is found. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found God’s goodness in their fire, didn’t they? (Daniel 3:8-30) They sought refuge in God in that furnace. And that’s exactly where they found his goodness. Not before they got in it, God didn’t save them from their troubles before they were tied up and thrown into that fire. But, right in the middle of that fire is where the goodness showed up. “…there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.” (vs.29)

My news isn’t the resounding congratulations I would have planned for this ending. There was no bell ringing announcing our finish line like we expected. But, that’s okay. I’m not much on public ugly crying anyway. Which is exactly how that scene would have played out for me. I can find my refuge in God. It feels good there. In his presence is where my hope and his goodness is found (credit: Francesca Battistelli). He knows our plan. What’s that Proverb again about me planning and God establishing? (Proverbs 16:9) I’m resting in this plan. God’s goodness is here.

Favorite song today:

This is Bigger Than Me

There are days I don’t know what to pray. This whole thing is so much bigger, scarier, than I ever could have imagined. I don’t even know which way I want it go. This is bigger than me.

I’ve always had a pretty good handle on medical terms. And special needs was something we finally felt comfortable in. Nothing we dealt with was too emergent. I had time to research, ask, or Google!, to my heart’s content. But this is bigger.

I’m in deep now. Things are coming at me fast. Critical care isn’t my wheelhouse. I’m a thinker. I mull things over. (Yeah, yeah, maybe I tend to Dwell.)I don’t have a trigger-finger when it comes to making big decisions. (My mouth got the trigger-finger, not my brain.) But intensive care is … intense.

I’m in a place where I can’t rely on me anymore. I can’t even completely rely on the intelligent people God has placed around me. Oh, believe me, big important people think they know all the stuff going in. But, my guy has proven them wrong time and again these days. This is so much bigger than them.

When I see the smartest of the smart come through my son’s room and admit, “I don’t know,” It’s humbling. So big.

Where do we turn when even the best of the best, the highest paid, the people everyone else looks towards say, “I don’t know.”?

I keep hearing the Chris Tomlin song in my head, “Our God is greater, Our God is stronger, Our God is Healer, God you are higher than any other…” It’s like the Holy Spirit is reminding me this is bigger than me, but it is NOT bigger than my God.

God has given us a book, his Word, and it is filled with reminders of how He moves in big ways. I’ve lived long enough to not expect God to use fireworks in every moment of our lives. (Don’t think I’m not asking for the really big show here.) But these big stories are a reminder to me of who God is, of how big he is.

He is a God who can hold back seas, shut the mouths of lions, turn people to stone, rip temple veils from the hereafter, and who I trust to save my soul. Why wouldn’t he be big enough to handle what is going on in the here and now of my life? Of my boy’s life?

Right now, this is big. There are medical terms of which I understand about every third word, nights on end of being awake, and watching my guy hurt a hurt like I’ve never seen before. But I am trusting, hanging on to hope, my God is bigger than all of it.

I’m going back to the Bible stories of my youth to remember God holds us. He hasn’t forgotten us.

  • Psalm 105:4 (CSB) “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:8 (VOICE) “And he will be leading you. He’ll be with you, and he’ll never fail you or abandon you. So don’t be afraid!”
  • Matthew 10:29-30 (CSB) “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet, none of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs on your head have all been counted.”