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Line of Hope

By Marianne Miles

When the editor of Comfort Café alerted me some months ago that the site would be focusing on parents of special needs children this month, I was thrilled! After writing the special needs column, Miles to Go, for almost two years,* the theme would be central to the site this month. Hurray!

I immediately began to consider what BIG topic I should choose to encourage you readers. Maybe I should compile a list of resources or interview experts for comment. Maybe I could awe readers with academic or intellectual insights into the subject of special needs. On the other hand, just maybe I was hoping to boost my ego and view myself as a real expert in the field of special needs. Yikes!

Although I thought extensively and schemed daily, I could not come up with a theme. The only thought that kept coming back to me was the devastation I felt when I first realized that our son had a disability. However, I had written on that theme, repeatedly and recently. What should I do?

I was weeks away from the publishing deadline for May with nothing written, when my husband and I went away with for a spring break vacation. He rested by the pool one day as I enjoyed a quiet breakfast at the restaurant. As I ate, I mentally thumbed through ideas for the Miles to Go column. A pleasant looking woman at a nearby table caught my eye and we stuck up a conversation. Wouldn’t you know, she worked as a school nurse in a California State preschool—for special needs children?

I decided to see what wisdom or direction she might have about what you, the reader, would want to hear. I began asking her questions about the school, her role and the parents who brought their children there. However, I didn’t tell her, at first, about my writing this column, not wanting to sway her in her insights.

She told me that the preschool had 54 children (in a small California community) and that she was worried at the increasing number of autistic children identified in the school. She was encouraged, though, by a significant number of children for whom an intervention redirected nonproductive behaviors. In fact, many of the students graduated from the preschool to mainstream classes in the public schools.

I felt my spirits rise hearing this information—something upbeat for the column! I tried to picture what these parents would feel. I awkwardly coined a question, “So, if this parent, or, uh, one of your parents, who came to your school…well, do they come with some relief, knowing that they’ve found some place to receive help?”

She looked at me with incredulity and mouth agape. Shaking her head she said, “I’m sorry. It just seems like that answer is obvious.” She swallowed as I inwardly cowered. “No,” she said. “They’re devastated.”

“The parents…when they come?” I stumbled like a schoolgirl asking if she could turn her homework in late.

“Yes.” She continued as if talking to one of her preschool students. “They’ve just realized, for the first time, maybe, that their child is not ‘normal.’ Never will be. That’s devastating.”

I nodded my head with a lump in my throat. “Yes, I know,” I whispered. A mental picture raced through my head of my angry and desperate spirit, standing solid, even as my heart melted over my dispirited child, my special needs son. My eyes welled instantly from the pain I experienced as he suffered. Then I also remembered the complete abandon of self-sufficiency my grief brought. I lay crumpled at my Lord’s feet. I saw again the tenderness with which He scraped me from the ground—again and again.

Then I knew. I do want to recognize the pain readers have suffered and assure you that you are not alone in this, as I so often felt when my children were young. However, I also want to tell you that when God puts you through the wringer of trial, He always hangs you on the line of hope to dry. That’s a good place to be. Consider:

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will *himself* restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10)

And hear this:

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (I Corinthians 1:5)

Notice how sufferings “flow” into our lives but, through Christ, our comfort “overflows!”

I’m not an expert in special needs, except the ones God gave me and my family. No one is ever going to ask me to teach a college class on special needs to potential educators or write a book on this syndrome or that. All I have to offer is the experience I received and the lessons learned being a mom of a special needs son.

However, I am an expert on going to the well of comfort and hope, that of Jesus Christ. I can assure you that your thirst will be met, your heart warmed and your back strengthened to carry the weight of your day when you rest in Him.

I am humbled and honored to come along side of you each month with the Miles to Go column in Comfort Café. My goal—to bring you The Hope.

See you next month. Till then, I am praying for you.

©2009 Marianne Miles. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

*Copyrighted back columns are available for reading in archives of Comfort Cafe. Contact Marianne for reprint availability.

Marianne Miles is a free lance writer intent on bringing comfort to mom’s of special needs kids. As she and her husband raised their children, including a son with special needs, Marianne developed a passion to support hurting mothers. Her message revolves around the love and provision of God, even in times of trial. Marianne has worked as a volunteer in the public schools, home school mom, and a teacher in a private school. She writes on the subjects of family and education in the form of devotionals, magazine articles, and poetry. Marianne welcomes reader’s comments and publisher’s questions at Marianne_Miles@yahoo.com.