One of the topics we talked about in my group during my non-Bible book study the other night was what would we like to change about ourselves...and how do we hope this book study will help.
I can't remember if I even answered the question. By the time I told a little bit about myself, I was kind of at a loss for words. I don't know WHAT I hope to get out of this study, other than stepping out of my comfort zone and making connections with other women. Which, that would be GREAT! I think I talked about how hard it is for stay at home moms/wives to meet other women when you have older kids. Or, when you are in my situation with an adult child who lives at home. Or when you are in my situation with an adult child with special needs who lives at home.
And that I hoped to try and be more engaged this year...on my part, anyway. That's why I came in the first place.
When my kids were younger, there was Mother's Day Out, and I became friends with the other moms whose children were in the same class with mine. There was also a group of us that met at McDonald's every Wednesday, and we let the kids play in their indoor playground. When the weather warmed up, we would meet with our kids at the park and have a picnic...aka: wearing the kids out for naptime.
But when you have an adult child with special needs who lives at home, there is no play group for them. And even if there was...or if you find a program they are interested in...or if they have a job...you can't ever make it seem like you just want a break
Because, we love them so much, and never want them to feel like want to be away from them.
But here is a little nugget of truth: there are very few breaks. While I may go hours or maybe even a day (doubt it, but for argument's sake) without being concerned about our other children, Joshua is ALWAYS on my mind.
I'm not complaining at all...just stating a fact. I LOVE my days with Joshua, and I am blessed to have a great support system...family and friends I can call for an encouraging word. Or two! But how many times when your kids were toddlers did you want to have a minute to yourself? Or, on those tough days, just walk out the door and keep on walking? I don't remember many days like that, but I'm sure I had them.
My days now are spent answering the same questions over and over and over. Everything has to be planned in advance...very little is spontaneous because Joshua doesn't handle that well. Everything is in a routine.
But there are also days when the talk turns deep...and I see glimpses of God through the eyes of my child. Precious, precious times.
We've all read this, right? http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html
But I see my life with him as part of my ministry here on earth. Not only do I try hard to provide him the fullest, most rewarding life, I also want to be able to tell our story to others. God opens doors with Joshua that we might not ordinarily go through. He uses Joshua...what we've been through, what we've learned...and we can share the love and HOPE that is Christ when we allow ourselves to connect to other people. We educate...hopefully...and we encourage...hopefully. And we try to point others to Christ as the Source of any good that is in our lives.
On three different occasions over the Christmas break, Jim called my attention to the obituary section of our newspaper. Three different obituaries of people with Down Syndrome were listed...different ages...but young. All three times, I told him, "I DO NOT NEED TO READ THAT."
Statistics show that people with Down Syndrome live shorter lives, but I don't want to think about a time when Joshua is not here with us.
I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THAT.
I know God has ordained Joshua's days, just like He has ordained mine (Psalm 139:16).
I realize, at this point, that this post is all over the place. Sorry. I don't really know how to tie it all up in a nice, neat bow.
But, after some thought, if I could go back and answer the question from my non-Bible book study, I would say that the thing I hope this study will change is that I will open my heart to others. I guard my heart pretty fiercely. I feel like I have to. The things that I've been through with Joshua, the things that I know, the things that have been said to me...all have made me guard my heart. I feel like by guarding it, I protect the ones I love.
But maybe, I guard it to keep people out. Because if you don't let people in, they can't hurt you, right?
"God's peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:7