I Can’t Do This

I can’t do this.” I said it to myself over and over while the shower water rained down over me. “Please God, I just can’t do this.” When I finally shut up long enough to listen to God speak the first thing that came into my head was, But I can.

Months of lack of sleep, zero exercise, and bad hospital food will put a person in this mindset. (Hospitals, you are a hos-pi-tal. Time to step up the healthier food choices that doesn’t cost a fortune for the families who are now living there. I could write a whole piece on what families need while living in the hospital. But, one suggestion: underwear in the gift shop. Don’t ask.) I can usually take the day head on. Like I tell my kids, “You’ve got this.” But lately I feel like saying what one of my guys says, “No! I don’t got this!

I’m not the first person to cry out to God “Lord, save us.” (Matthew 8:23-27), “Heal him, Lord.” (Mark 5:21-43, John 4:43-54), “Take this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42). Sometimes God chooses to stop the storm and to heal the child. And sometimes he takes us through the valley of the shadow of death before we see the beauty on the other side.

I’ve always wished God would tell me his plan. I’d like to know what lies ahead in this life story. But then, if I knew this hard road had been coming, dang, I’m glad I didn’t see it coming. I’m glad God has his plan and he’s got this.

I can’t do this; be a wife, a mom, a nurse and keep my tears behind dry eyes. I had dreams of doing things in the medical field a lifetime ago. That didn’t happen for reasons upon reasons. But here I am, working (and living) in the medical field every day. I didn’t expect my patient would be my own child. Now that those long-lost dreams are alive and well in my everyday life all I can think of every moment is, “Please God, I can’t do this.” But God reminds me, He can.

Song that’s getting me through:




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Still Blessed with an Unhealthy Kid

You’ve all seen them. The social media posts titled #Blessed. They run the gamut from the genuine to the, well, not so genuine. Have you seen the hilarious videos poking fun at us Christians titled with the same hashtag? You would think with all the jokes about #Blessed the serious social media posts would have dwindled by now. Nope. Still plenty of #Blessed people out there.
We love our blessings, don’t we? What do you think of when I say ‘blessing?’ Cars, houses, jobs, new outfits, children? Healthy children, am I right? Don’t get me wrong, I am so blessed by the good health of my other children. I do not take it for granted. Count me #Blessed.
But what about our unhealthy kids? Do you think of unhealthy children as blessings? If we are blessed to have healthy children all across the social media, does that make me unblessed to have an unhealthy kid? Oh, please, hear this … We are still #Blessed even with unhealthy kids! Get on your Facebook and Twitters and Instas and tell the world. You are #Blessed to have an unhealthy child.
Psalm 127:3 “Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.”

Do you see anywhere in this verse where it says only healthy children are a blessing? Me neither. Children. All of them. Healthy or unhealthy. Is it Easy Street and cupcakes and roses all day long? I did not say that. Nope. Having an unhealthy child is harrrddd. But don’t miss those blessings. Please don’t miss your blessings amidst those hard, hard days.
God gives verse upon verse in the Bible about blessings. Matthew 5:3-12 is where Jesus speaks to those things that we don’t often think of blessings: trials (James 1:12), being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), mourning (Matthew 5:4), and when we need a hiding place in him (Psalm 34:8). Don’t miss your blessings in the difficult days when your children are unhealthy.
Our version of #Blessed may be miles away from the norm. But everyday I’m bearing witness to the ways God is working and using my unhealthy child to bring glory to him. My guy has the ability to break down the hardest heart, the crankiest of medical staff, just by asking, “What are you doing at home today?” He brings them close. Isn’t that what God asks us to do? Get in and do life with others, tell them about what Christ has done for us. My unhealthy child has a way of bringing a hospital full of people in with just a smile faster than I could any day of the week. He is my blessing.

You Are Worthy, Moms

Serve as if serving the Lord. I tell myself this on those days that get really hard. Those days when I’ve been up all night and still wake to cleaning the hard stuff while administering the life giving stuff. When all I really want is to sleeeep.

Mother’s Day can be a tough one to see the pretty pictures of kids waking their moms with cards and breakfast in bed and everyone heading out for church or lunch dressed in their best. I am so blessed with a husband who sees me. He sees me every day, especially on Mother’s Day.  But if you feel unseen, know that there is a great God who sees you, on this Mother’s Day and every day.

Mother’s Day can be like any other day in the house of a special needs mom. The floors and toilets still need to stay clean. The IVs still need to get changed at the exact times. The meds delivered; all day, every day. And, this is all before any thought has been given to a shower. (Showers are over-rated.) Mother’s Day is just another day.

Except this. On Mother’s Day I remember how much I love. How much my heart breaks. How far I will go to make life be the best it can be for my kids. All of them.  On Mother’s Day I remember that I have a great God who sees this work done in secret. He sees me, he sees all of my kids, my family.

Wherever you are this Mother’s Day, don’t feel diminished by the pretty things posted on social media. Today, remember you are worthy. Worthy of Jesus dying on a cross for you. Showered or not.

It’s Okay to be Broken By Special Needs

“Never let them see you cry.”

This has pretty much been my life motto since as long as I can remember. When I was in my early twenties I was sitting in church with my mom. We were listening to someone give a moving testimony that I can’t remember because I was blocking it from my mind. I couldn’t let it get in. Wouldn’t let its words soak into my soul for fear my tears would let loose. My mom looked at me with her own tears rolling down and whispered, “You must have ice water in your veins.” She couldn’t believe I could sit there and not be moved to tears. But, I refused to let others see me broken.

You see, I’d been hurt not long before that time. Hurt by hard words from someone I held close and gossip from those I didn’t even know well. You understand how that goes. Sticks and stones… Words have the power to run deep no matter who speaks them.

I learned right then and there to lock my tears up behind a wall. Never let them see you cry.

And then, several years later, my amazing bundle of special needs was born into my world. No doubt, it rocked us to the core. But, by this time, I had been working long and hard on keeping those tears locked somewhere deep in my core. I gave all I had to God during that time. Except my tears. This would not break me.

I’ve had two decades of time to build my special needs wall of no tears. It was built on a foundation that started way before special needs came along. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve become somewhat hard-hearted over time.

Until now.

Our son, who has those same specials needs that built my wall decades ago, received yet another diagnosis that will make life even tougher for him. Tougher for all of those who love him.

My hard-hearted wall finally came crashing down.

This past month I have cried more than a lifetime of tears. It’s like a dripping faucet that can’t be fixed. Crashing waves that ebb and flow. As I write this I can’t stop the tears from falling off my cheeks. And you know what? It feels okay to not have that wall anymore.

It’s okay to be broken by special needs.

I wonder if God is saying, “Finally! Finally, Stephanie.” I am broken. And it feels good.

Maybe this is why it feels so good to be broken: Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

When I’m broken, the Lord is close.

So being broken every second of every day? The Lord is close. Every second of every day.

I long for that day when there will be no more tears. When God wipes them all away. When there is no more death to worry about, cry about, and no more pain. Oh, how I long for the days to come when these are gone forever.  (Rev.21:4)

I still don’t like crying. I don’t like others to see me in my most vulnerable times. (Yeah, it’s not pretty. I’m an ugly crier. No dainty tissue-tapping here. It’s full-on nasty.) And, I still find such embarrassment in my tears. I hear the voices of others begin to talk. What will they say? But I’m working on hushing those voices in my head and listening for that still, small voice. I’m leaning in to hear when the Lord is close to my broken heart.

(Aaand there it is. I’m crying again.)

Song that’s getting me through:

Trusting God in the Hard Times

You know the Hillsong United song, Oceans, right? We all know it. We love it. We sing it with gusto. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s anthemic. It’s Hillsong. It’s the beautiful voices (and to be imitated dressers) of Joel Houston and Taya Smith. Let’s look at a few of the words.

“You call me out upon the waters – the great unknown where feet may fail … And I will call upon your name – and keep my eyes above the waves … Your grace abounds in deepest waters … where my feet may fail and fear surrounds me … Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders … take me deeper than my feet could ever wander – and my faith could be made stronger – in the presence of my Savior.” [Songwriters: Joel Houston, Matt Crocker, Salomon Ligthelm © Capitol Christian Music Group]

Beautiful, right? No doubt. I could sing this song all day long. But have you listened to what we are actually singing?! Let me paraphrase. It’s a song about asking God to lead us into the deepest depths of the ocean, where we cannot reach the bottom with our feet. They are dangling out there where the sharks and jellyfish can get them. And, did I mention sucking both air and saltwater while sinking? While all this is going on, the song wants us to keep our eyes above the waves.

What Am I Singing? THIS is the place my trust is made stronger. This is where grace abounds. Out in the deepest water with fear surrounding me is where I have just asked God to lead me? I don’t think I want to sing this song anymore.

We got one of those phone calls this week. The kind of phone call that no one wants to receive. The phone call that made us realize we are being led into deepest waters where our faith will be made stronger.

When you have a child with special needs and the diagnosis just keeps getting harder it is difficult to see God’s purpose. It was mentioned to us to think eternally after this diagnosis. Meaning, think bigger than the here and now. Okay, so my gut reaction was – Heck, No! I don’t really want to think eternally. Because that means I have to think of this life coming to an end someday. I have no desire to let go of my child. But remember, I already sang to God asking him to lead me where my trust is without borders. Well, here we are. I’ve never been in these waters before. I have no choice but to trust His plan and purpose. And I would bet that plan is eternally bigger than this life has to offer. Like it or not.

Trusting God in the hardest times is Hillsong’s Oceans come to life. Here I am in the deepest waters. (I’m in deep, no doubt.) I’m calling on His name (Rom.10:13). I’m resting in His embrace (Psalm 62:5). I’m hoping He helps me walk upon these waters; wherever he calls me. And my faith will be stronger for it (Rom.5:3-4).