I Read A Book! The Life We Never Expected …

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The Life We Never Expected: Andrew & Rachel Wilson

I’m gonna be honest. Right outa the gate, not even out of the Intro, this book ruffled my feathers just a bit. In fact, it was the first sentence. “This is a book about surviving, and thriving, spiritually when something goes horribly wrong.”(pg.13) I had some trouble with those two words, horribly wrong. I never want to give my son the impression that he is something that has gone horribly wrong. I don’t believe that. And I try not to live that.

BUT … I quickly remembered my best defense is a good offense. And my best defense as to not feel all the feelings in these types of books is to go on the offense. I typically steer clear of ‘these types of books.’ Anything having to do with a personal story about special needs written from a Christian perspective can hit too close to home and I quickly guard my heart. (Yes, I know I write a blog about exactly that subject. Welcome to my husband’s world of trying to figure me out.) It has taken me years to build up this hard outer shell and I work hard to not have it cracked open by ‘these types of books.’ Why? The Wilson’s actually write a great book telling all about this special need world, and how it was not what was expected …

Their book jumps right in to describing some behaviors that are all too familiar in my house. Obsessions. I’ve mentioned before, we have quite a collection of Apples to Apples cards and reusable grocery bags. We don’t leave home without them. While it hurts to read of others experiencing our same trials, it’s also somewhat of a ‘Yes!’ moment at the same time. It can be difficult to go out of the house and experience the stares and questions at times. I would love to see them out sometime with our kids both dragging along their obsessions to feel that camaraderie of our ‘normals.’

The Life We Never Expected expresses the daily grind that comes with the special needs world. The monotony of limited language when their aren’t any other adults to be found, the paperwork, the meltdowns, lack of sleep and the public embarrassments. They weave some of my favorite bible verses and add some new ones, as well.  Like Malchijah of Nehemiah. It is a reminder that while special needs can be tiring, literally, our children have been given a far-reaching power to be effective for Christ. They are noticeable. People see them. We may have expected scouts or sports teams and all the ‘normal’ childhood events. But children are a blessing. Don’t doubt God’s promise, even if that promise doesn’t look like you thought it would.

The Wilson’s do a wonderful job of weaving light-hearted moments into their story. Because we know all to well this life is nothing if not comedic. One of my favorites was Rachel sharing her t-shirt idea for health professionals: “I’m not your mummy, so please don’t call me that.” How many times have I been called mom rather than Mrs. McKeever while at my son’s appointments? Is it so difficult? And it’s always in a baby-talk voice, even though Evan is practically into adulthood. Something about special needs brings it out. I loved these common moments in the book that I thought no one else experienced and hated.

I do typically struggle with reading ‘these types of books.’ They are often a reminder of the tough stuff. Sometimes they provoke jealousy in me. I see others who have more help; a bigger circle of support. Sometimes I see moms who are better at things where I wish I had that certain gift. I do better to just avoid reading things that will put my mind in a funk. But this book, The Life We Never Expected, was a joy. It admitted the tough stuff. And it always pointed me back to Christ. The Wilson’s reminded me I should fix my eyes on not what is seen, but what is unseen. (pg.148)

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Special Needs Humble Pie

I got a big helping of that special needs Humble Pie last week. You may have been there yourself before. Maybe it was the public meltdown stares. Or people wondering with perturbed looks surrounding public restroom issues. Possibly, you’ve been in a special needs situation that has been a bit humbling. They come often. So often, in fact, I am pretty used to them. Special needs is humbling.

But this last week I purposely put myself in the humbling situation. I had to humble myself in order to avoid a more disastrous outcome.

It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was definitely awkward. Well, I am the Queen of Awkward. But I fought the idea anyway. Inviting strange looks; I wasn’t sure I was up for it this day.

Evan loves bags. All bags, but mostly reusable grocery bags and gift bags. His biggest OCD trigger is probably bags. He will point to every bag hanging on a woman’s arm. He will reach to touch every bag within reach, much to the dismay of most strangers. And he will obsess over one bag even if he already has 22 bags in his hands. Such was the case this day.This particular day Evan wanted a pink bag. A PINK BAG! I had heard his much quieter request for a pink bag the day before. I couldn’t find any pink bags, so I ignored him and the building drama the best I could. Trying to keep the need for a pink bag on the down-low. But what Evan wants, Evan gets. And Evan wanted a PINK BAG!


So bright and early we arrived at the nearby outlet mall where we had been staying on our mini-vacation. We were some of the first shoppers on the property. And I prepared myself to go door to door at every single store and ask the store keepers if they had any PINK BAGS.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” ~ Philippians 2:3

It was weird. It was awkward. How do you tell someone we need one of the bags you put your purchased merchandise in and it needs to be PINK. If it isn’t pink, no thank you, I don’t want it anymore. As soon as Evan would see another color, he would shake his head and say no. Out the door we would go. To the next store.

Humbled.

I asked again and again if they had any pink bags. I could see Evan’s tension rising as we would leave one store and head to the next. I became more and more humbled and resigned with every stop. It became easier to ask. People were kind as they offered a yellow bag or a plain brown bag. Only kindness came from everyone. I think that was just as humbling as the asking: receiving kindness when we really needed it. But the tension in Evan’s mood was just below the surface as he needed the pink bag.

“God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” ~ James 4:6

Into Charming Charlie we went. I had never shopped there before. I passed it by the prior day because I didn’t think they had anything I needed. (Boy, was I wrong.) I asked the sweet young girl if she had any pink bags. She pulled out from under the counter the most glorious sight. “You mean like this?” Hallelujah! Yes, just like that lovely, bright pink bag! Evan’s eyes lit up. Relief rushed over me. I said I would buy something to get it. She handed it right over without need for a purchase. She saved our day!

Evan said to me in a hushed voice, “I want another pink bag.”

Humbled. Again.

Why do I fight being humbled? The more I read God’s teachings on being humble you’d think I would welcome it. Nope. But this is exactly what God wants from me. And not the fake kind of humble we all try to pull off when someone gives a compliment. We try to say thank you without appearing pompous. (Why is that so difficult?!) I’m talking about that kind of humble that makes you go ‘whoa.’ There is someone, something, bigger than me here. Maybe it’s another person. Maybe it’s Jesus. Humbled.

Sometimes that special needs Humble Pie isn’t very tasty stuff. I wish I could work out the situation any other way. But almost always when I look back I see how God has changed me or used that time for his glory. And for that I am grateful for when he humbles me through special needs.