6.28.2017

A New (and specific) Ministry for MOMS.

The 2016-17 school year was the most difficult I have experienced as a mom and as a homeschooling parent. Every day I felt like I was treading water, trying to keep from being pushed under, and it was only because of God's amazing and unending grace I made it through.
The reason for the struggle: Learning Needs
Five of my children battle intense learning issues which create frustration, exhaustion, and discouragement every.single.time they open a book or pick up a pen.

In the middle of September, I had to throw out every piece of my carefully chosen curriculum and start from scratch. I thought I knew my kids. I study them. I am, in essence, a student of them. The past eight years (since our first child was diagnosed with dyslexia) have found me devouring books and articles, scouring websites, and attending seminars to understand what dyslexia is, what it is not, and how I can serve my kids the best way possible.
But there was a problem.
I am not dyslexic.
And because I am not - I don't understand their world. I try to understand, I strain my ears to listen to adults who share their stories, I bury myself in documentaries and movies that highlight learning struggles so I can try to piece it all together in order to see the bigger picture, but the truth is ...
I have never walked a mile in their shoes. I have never even walked around the block in their shoes! I simply don't get it. And because I don't get it - I misread much. I see defiance and laziness and apathy instead of seeing the truth: My kids can't do certain things. At least not the way everyone else does them. Dennis tells me just about every day, "CAN'T and WON'T are not the same, Michelle. CAN'T is outside of their control. WON'T is a choice."
Yet I miss it. Far more often than I want to admit.

I will not bore you with the details, but I will share that after ten months of intense trials, arguments, books thrown across the room, countless tears, disappointments, heartache, dozens of conversations, prayer, and looking at my husband in tears asking, "WHY didn't the Lord make me dyslexic? If He had I would understand! I would be more compassionate. I would be a better mother and a better wife," the Lord has shown me the purpose of my suffering.
Ministry.

Twelve years ago I sat on a hospital bed after delivering our son Matthew and said, “Lord, I am not the first mom to lose a baby and I will not be the last. This has to bigger than me. So what we can we do?”
Five years later we started our Miscarriage Ministry and though the website is stagnant, never updated or added to, we have logged over 30,000 hits. Why? Because women grieving the loss of their precious babies need to know they are not alone.
And mothers of children who have learning needs and/or special needs need to know the same.

I am now repeating the question I asked on the hospital bed - but in different circumstances.
"I am not the first mother with children who have learning/special needs, and I am confident I won't be the last. This year of unending struggle cannot be wasted, Lord! It has to serve a purpose that is bigger than me, bigger than our family, and bigger than how a mind does and does not work. So, what is it, Lord? How can we make my tears matter?!?"

In all of my research, study, and seminar attendance I have uncovered more information than one person needs to know about learning needs, but I have yet to discover anything that ministers to the hearts of the mothers who are in the struggle and the fight with their children. I am not the only mother weeping. I am not the only mother feeling guilty or isolated or fearing what the future looks like for her children. I am not the only one who understands the reality that these issues affect every part of my children's lives ... not just when they are sitting in front of a textbook.
There are other women like me - and I want them to know they are not alone.

Because the Lord is gracious and kind, He had me studying the book of Job with a friend the past few months. In many of the most trying moments, He would bring Job's words to mind. Though You slay me - YET I WILL PRAISE YOU. One way I can make this incredibly difficult year count for something eternal is to turn it around and use it to serve and minister to others who need the same comfort I needed when the overwhelming waves crashed upon my head.

And so, praise the Lord, a new ministry is about to begin!

I would like to invite women with children/teens who struggle with learning needs or special needs to my home for an evening of encouragement and support.
This is not a workshop, an evaluation, a diagnosis, or an IEP meeting.
The purpose is simple:
Share our stories, encourage one another, and pray.

Wednesday, August 2nd, 7:00 pm
(private message me or email me for details)


I chose to use this photo of my children to draw attention to this ministry for three important reasons.
1. The struggles our children face are REAL and we need fellowship with other women who understand. We can use the labels, call the issues what they are, and do so with our heads held high.
2. No more shame! Whether our children's struggles are obvious or invisible, there is nothing wrong with them. Each one was created in the image of an amazing God who purposely designed their minds and bodies to work differently - for a purpose. We may not understand His reasons or His ways, but we can rest in the truth that they ARE fearfully and wonderfully made!
3. Tears, disappointment, discouragement, frustration, and shame are realities for those who must engage in physical, mental, or intellectual battles every day. Life is hard enough without the added burden of not being able to read, see, or get out of bed. But the difficulties do not completely snuff out the JOY life offers. My son can barely read, cannot remember one times table, and does not read social cues well, but he loves to swim, listen to stories, ride bikes, gives hugs, build Lego's, worship, and laugh with his friends! Even with a diagnosis of "severe dyslexia" - life is GOOD. And there are many, many reasons to smile!

I have no idea what will come of this night, or where the Lord is leading, but it is clear that He IS leading - and pulling me right along with Him. For the first time in the last 10 months, instead of buckling under the weight of my trials, I am REJOICING in them!

My prayer for this ministry is that we will emulate the beautiful scene in Scripture of the four men who carried their friend to Jesus because they knew there was no better place for him to be ...
at the feet of the Savior.

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