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Miles to Go—The First Paradigm

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By Marianne Miles

When I was speaking at a women’s retreat on mothering, a young woman approached to ask, “What resource should I use to teach my children about God?” I could tell by the hope in her eyes that she wanted the one magical children’s book or video that would provide instruction so that she could check off that box on her ‘to do’ list.

“Everything,” I quipped. “You must use every book, CD, video, flash card, game, computer software or any other resource you can get your hands on and use them continually.” In this answer, I only implied my true sentiments—that she needed to give sacrificially of herself. I wanted her to feel the magnitude of the job set before her. There is, in fact, no task more important or privileged than to train our children to seek God’s face. Knowing God is their only hope of true wisdom.

But what does this have to do with parenting a special needs child? Everything! A special needs child has no less need of God than any other child does. Sometimes, we assume there is knowledge more relevant to special needs children.

I know moms who maintain a knowledge base of their child’s disability that would rival specialists’ understanding. I also know moms who think their children are perfectly normal, denying an obvious handicap. Alternately, I seemed to have accomplished a hot and cold way of dealing my child’s needs, with effort dependant on things such as my blood sugar level and the waxing or waning of the moon. Quantity of effort is important but what is taught is paramount.

I think we parents spend an inordinate amount of time and energy with our special needs kids, and it is important to research information available about your child’s malady. These efforts can seem primary. However, don’t allow the instruction of the Lord to take second place. Enfolding your special needs child in the family circle of instruction of God’s truth sets straight his place in the family and in the Kingdom.

Do I have a magic book or video for you on how to do that? No, but I would encourage you to set aside time regularly for teaching and worship with your children. When our children were young, we employed many means to train them, including a family worship three to four nights a week just before they went to bed. We read from a children’s Bible storybook, asked comprehension questions, applied examples from our lives, and then sang a few songs and prayed. Now, this all sounds idyllic, but to be honest, there was a lot of just teaching the kids to “sit still”, “keep your hands to yourselves”, and “wait to speak.”

In addition, the real challenge came at song time. My husband’s favorite song was “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” I’m not going to say my husband has a poor singing voice, but there was the time that our daughter asked, “Dad, why does your voice sound like Ernie’s?” (of Sesame Street fame.) I wondered sometimes if our pathetic efforts were worthwhile but I recently experienced assurance of that fact.

One Sunday, I was privileged to sit by my oldest son and his wife in church. My other adult son, Jon, who is special needs, led singing with a group in front of the congregation. The order of worship listed the next song as, “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” Suddenly, memories beamed me back in time to our living room, twenty-six years before.

There, next to my thigh, cuddled our three-year-old son, Jon, in his yellow, footed sleeper. His six-year-old brother sat cross-legged next to his father on the couch in his superman pajamas. Our daughter, a new baby, slept in my arms. Then Dad sang out in his Ernie voice, “What ken wersh arway our sinnns?”

Jon needed to take his finger out of his mouth to sing with us in answer, “Notin’ but de blahd ob Gee-SUS!”

The vision dimmed in my mind as the church congregation continued in song, “Oh, precious is the flow that makes us white as snow…” I turned to look at my adult son on my right—then my younger son up front. Their gazes and crooked smiles confirmed the transport of their minds to the same time. However, there was more than nostalgia in our mind’s eyes; there was the shared view of the face of God, experienced in this song of hope.

I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness to our family in blessing feeble attempts.

©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.

Bio:
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.