I am so thankful for those who have laughed and cried with me.
When I think about the early years of raising our children and the times that were the hardest, the times when we were becoming fully aware of the challenges our son would face and accepting this path we were finding ourselves on, these were some of the heartbreaking, darker times of our lives...
But, there were some really bright spots in those dark days, people I will never forget. Some who stepped into our world and stayed for a little while, and some who are still here today.
Please know, there were plenty of good times, fun and laughter all along the way...and I don't think back on those early years as sad in general. It is only when I start to peel back the layers and expose the memories that I get to some of that pain and heartache. For the most part when I think back, I think back with a smile.
Because these are the years that my children and our family grew.
Mostly, I try to stay focused on moving forward, I rarely allow myself to go backwards...
Sometimes though, going back is needed. It is needed personally to remember, and it is needed to share with others so that they can see. They can see that even though our circumstances may be different, there are many common bonds between us.
I have thought about the people that we have met, that I have met...incredibly strong parents, godly women, dedicated caring teachers, therapists and church volunteers. Many we have lost track of, some are my closest friends to this day.
The ones that stepped into our lives brought comfort and support, they brought laughter and shared tears. Occasionally, they even delivered a much needed dose of reality. One of the most memorable times of someone briefly stepping into our lives happened very early on, just as we were really beginning to understand what was going on with Cooper...
We were just starting to attend a local church and Cooper was doing ok at times in his class, and other times...not so ok. The not so ok times eventually far out weighed the ok times. Lets just say that we were to the point we would fight about who would have to go get him when our number would inevitably flash up on the screen...
One Sunday I ended up just staying in his class with him. I hoped that some how this would lead to me being able to leave him. As I sat on the floor playing with him that Sunday, a lady came and sat down with us.
We chatted a little.
I said I hoped it was okay that I stayed in there with him. She assured me it was. Slowly, as we talked I filled her in on Cooper and what we thought was going on with him. I also told her how bad I felt to bring him and for them to try to keep him, only to have to call us to come pick him up.
The lady looked at me and said, "Oh honey you bring him, he will bless us."
I left church that day, thinking "Who are these people?"
These people who want a cranky, difficult little boy...
You can not truly understand what this meant to me, unless you are a parent of a child with special needs, unless you live it. That does not mean that we do not deeply appreciate those of you who try to understand. I can't explain to you what that effort means either. It's indescribable. Aside from family, we have seen no greater effort to understand, than at our church...
With the people who stepped up...stepped in and volunteered to watch Cooper one-on-one.
Who were these people? These were people that made the parents of that cranky little boy feel loved, wanted and at times normal. These people were the hands and feet of Jesus, and they stepped into our world right when we would need them the most.
Those kind, patient people who volunteered to watch Cooper one-on-one so that we could attend church as a family. Who watched Cooper so that my husband and I could sit together, just the two of us.
I don't know if they will ever really understand what they did.
Those were some of the only times that I felt normal, we could drop our kids off in their classrooms like any other family. And for an hour-and-a-half, I could just take a break and be a wife sitting beside her husband in church...granted most of the time I was so sleepy I could barely hold my eyes open, but we were there...just the two of us.
Looking back, one of the most lived out verses that I have seen is Romans 12:15 ESV:
Those are the bright spots, the shining lights of friends, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. They laugh when you laugh, and they cry when you cry. I am so thankful for that. What an incredible gift...
to receive and to give!
My prayer is this: Dear God, I am so thankful for Your love and provision in the dark times of our lives, for the friends and the people that You have carefully placed and their willingness to listen to Your call. God, I have seen how You never leave us, and I know what a comfort this has been. I pray that I am open to the times when I can be that light for someone else. God help me to see those who are in need of a little light. In Jesus name I pray...Amen.