Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I just love the opportunity to gather with loved ones and reflect on all the things we are grateful for, realize how blessed we truly are, all while eating some amazing food. Though, I'll be honest, my kids don't eat the whole smorgasboard. The rolls and a few bites of turkey maybe. But back to being thankful....
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:8 NIV
Although I don't always love the special needs parenting journey I am on, there are plenty of things I am thankful for. By focusing on the things we are thankful for, we can set aside our worries and constant striving, and simply rest in the good things we do have. And when you start counting those blessings, you'll see both big and little things around you to be thankful for, and it will fill your heart with some much needed contentedness, joy, and peace in your special needs parenting journey.
“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to the world.” -Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Believe me, there's plenty of things I'm thankful for, but today I'm going to share just five things I am thankful for in this special needs parenting journey.
It's so easy to focus on all the areas our children are struggling, their weaknesses, how far they are behind their peers.
In the Genesis account of God creating the world, He said "it was good," after everything He created. He didn't just say "it was good," when it was all done. We must do that too. Celebrate the little victories as well as the big. Celebrate not just the huge milestones, but every little inchstone in between. And whether they've made a lot of progress, or just a little, progress is progress and I'm very thankful for it!
What progress has your child(ren) made this year?
Being a special needs parent molds you into a different person. Stronger, more determined, more resilient, more passionate about a world you hadn't experienced before. I'm thankful for that.
But the way I've grown the strongest? Is my faith. Sure, I've questioned God a lot in this journey, but I also trust Him more than I ever did before. I need to rely on God like never before. My faith is totally different now, than it was six or seven years ago when my older son started getting diagnosis after diagnosis, and I am so very thankful for the ways my faith has grown.
In what positive ways have you grown this year?
I'll admit, I've lost a few friends in this special needs journey. But I've gained so many more. Whether I met them online or in real life, I've met people I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.
And I'm so thankful for all the friends who have stuck by us or we've met along the way, family members, my children's teachers, and therapists. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I'm so grateful for mine, for all the people who pour into my children in ways I cannot and celebrate with me every new bit of progress.
(Oh, and speaking of community, feel free to join our Embracing This Special Life group on Facebook for Christian special needs mothers. We have fun getting to know each other, sharing our journeys and hope and encouragement and fun memes. Because no one should go this journey alone.)
Who are you thankful for in your village?
I was a middle school English teacher before becoming a special needs parent. The things I've learned since this journey began are priceless to me. I devour books on sensory processing and speech and language as if they were the middle school books I used to love and recommend to my students. I appreciate all the new things I've learned that have helped me care for my own children. And I'm always thankful when I'm able to share my new insights with others.
This new education I've attained has opened my eyes to a bigger world than I had previously experienced. A world where I now have more compassion, more understanding, more passion for advocating for what is best for each and every child. I know that if I were to ever return to the classroom, my teaching would be totally changed because of everything I've learned on this journey.
What things have you learned this year?
And last, but definitely not least,
I loved my children even before they were born. And when both of them received diagnosis after diagnosis, I grieved. I cried. I feared for their future. I've compared them to other kids and felt devastated at how far behind they are their peers.
But I'm thankful I have the privilege of watching them blossom in their own way. I'm proud of how hard they work to learn what comes so easily to others. I love their own ways they interact with the world and they show love. I love the gifts and talents and passions God gave them. I love how they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 149:13). I love celebrating with them when they learn a new word or a new skill. They bring so much joy and purpose to my life and I am so thankful that God gave them to me.
What gifts and strengths and personality traits in your child(ren) are you proud of?
What things are you thankful for in this special needs journey? Please share with us in the comments below!