Tag Archives: guilt

New Year, New You?

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So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRS)

Resolutions are great, except for when they aren’t.  Sure, they serve a good purpose for setting priorities, opening new horizons and creating positive change.  Yet, if we feel we fall short they also come with a side-dish of guilt, something that parents of children with special needs cope with constantly anyway. So what’s the solution to keeping a New Year’s resolution?

Bing Crosby had some good advice “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” In accentuating the positive, I started choosing a variety of goals for the New Year. I choose one thing I’d like to learn, one habit I’d like to change, and one challenge goal that is my personal moon shot for the year.  One year my “learning” and “challenging” resolution were one in the same. I learned to scuba dive despite being claustrophobic and uncomfortable in the water.  Plus, the movie Jaws left an indelible mark on my psyche as a child. Approaching it this way, accentuating the positive, resolutions have become fun, plus I have a whole year to achieve them. I’ve learned how to do things that had lingered on my list of, “someday I would like to…,” I’ve eliminated some bad habits and created healthier ones, and I’ve tested limits and been surprised by what I can do.

It’s the “eliminating the negative” that is the real challenge when it comes to resolutions.  We all fight that voice of doubt that says, “No, you can’t.” Some days we miss the mark, and guilt sets in. We can eliminate the negative by offering ourselves a measure of grace. It takes forty days to make a new habit, or break an old one for good. It’s okay to have a bit of trial and error along the way.  The main thing is that we can trust in Paul’s words to the Corinthians.  “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” That is the true and ultimate new you. The best resolution we’ve all made is to become followers of Christ.  That is the most important “new you” any of us will ever be.  How we celebrate that new creation is important, but when we fall short of perfection in resolutions we can trust that grace abounds.

So how did I do on my 2016 resolutions? I nailed two out of three, and grace abounds.

It is not too late to start a resolution on the second week of January. The year has not been “ruined” by missing a week already. There is still plenty of time to learn, explore, and succeed.

Renewing God,  remind us again of how you make all things new.  Open our eyes to new possibilities and shape us to be who you call us to be. Amen

Happy New Year, and happy new you!

Lorna Bradley

Special Needs Parent Appreciation!

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For the month August, Sandra Peoples and Carol Flory at Not Alone Ministry launched Special Needs Parent Appreciation Month. Plain moms and dads get a mere day to celebrate their talents as parents.  Special needs parents deserve an entire month!  It’s fitting that they chose “back-to-school” month, undoubtedly the most stressful month of the year for most special needs families.  If there is ever a time when we need a bit of extra appreciation, August is it! For all of those therapy appointments, for juggling a tight budget, for giving tirelessly to those who need it most, for the million ways in which you give and care – Well done!

Earlier this year a parent said to me, “I wish there were a devotion just for special needs parents. I read other devotions. I like them alright. I just wish I could find one that really resonates my experience.”  As a gift to special needs parents, Not Alone Ministry created a 30-day devotional eBook. They tackle hard topics like anger, guilt and fear, as well as the lighter fare of parenting, such as hope, friendship and grace. They invited a variety of disability writers to contribute, including me.  You can read more about the project here: http://bit.ly/1ECJEiU and you can download your copy of the devotion here: http://bit.ly/1My3eTT

On a personal note, many folks have been asking about an eBook version of Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving.  The eBook was released on Amazon on my son’s birthday, which feels perfectly fitting! You can find both the print and electronic versions here: http://amzn.to/1h0kSEy

Renewing God, for the parent who gives constantly and takes little for themselves, provide an opportunity for self-care.  For the parent who yearns to hear their child say thank you, help them feel that appreciation in ways that transcend words.  For the parent who worries maybe they are not enough, remind them we are all more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who strengthens us all. Let all that we do as parents be to your glory. Amen

Blessings!

Rev Doc Lorna

Special Needs Parenting Introduction

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Today I am sharing with my readers an excerpt from the introduction of my book, Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving.

I have hit the bottom of the tank today. We had our annual review at the school, and it’s so hard to hear in concrete terms how delayed my son is. I know it. None of this information is new, but it’s so hard to hear again. I worry about his future, let alone how we will afford all of his therapies today. Every single day there is so much to do that I feel I can barely keep up. The needs are unending, and I am not nearly enough.

—Blog Post, Anonymous

 Have you ever been that parent? I have. My experience isn’t exactly the same as my friend’s recent blog post, but it resonates in many ways. Challenging behaviors at school? Yes! Worry about my son’s future? Yes! Endlessly running around to therapy appointments? Yes! A sense at times of being overwhelmed in day-to-day parenting? Yes! A view of the future shaded by anxiety? Yes!

Our journeys as special needs parents are as varied as the differences among our children. Each child is unique and precious in the sight of God, and there is no other exactly like our own. Yet there are common challenges and common experiences shared among us as special needs parents. As clergy, I have led a variety of parenting support groups for more than five years and it never ceases to amaze me that, regardless of how varied the diagnoses within each family, there are common cords that bind us together emotionally and spiritually. Throughout the years I have seen healing of deeply held emotional and spiritual wounds through coming together in a supportive, welcoming Christian community and working through our challenges together.

My journey toward writing Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving began years ago when members in my congregation asked me to lead a Bible study for special needs parents. I looked for a resource I could grab off a bookstore shelf that would address the emotional and spiritual concerns of the special needs parents and had limited success. I was in the midst my studies in a doctoral program at the time and I realized that I had found an area of tremendous need for resources within the church. This epiphany changed not only my academic focus, but the trajectory of my ministry.

Through my personal journey as a special needs mom, my experiences as clergy walking with families with special needs, and academic research into how best to build family resilience, I developed a seven-week study. Each chapter addresses a common challenge and offers a positive perspective grounded in scripture and practical tools that can be revisited again and again.

  • God and Special Needs
  • Understanding Chronic Grief
  • Breaking Free from Guilt
  • Tools to Increase Patience
  • Self-care for Caregivers
  • Building Healthy Relationships
  • Hope and Healing

Whether parents read Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving as part of a small group study or read it individually, I pray this book provides both insights into a loving God and practical tools for the journey ahead. Encouraging special needs parents is at the heart of my calling in ministry, and I hope that the book will be a blessing.

Next week I will share a passage from chapter six, Building Healthy Relationships.

Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving is available at Huff Publishing and Amazon.

Blessings,

Lorna

Magnolia Leaves and Good Neighbors

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For your name’s sake O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11 NRSV)

If I knew magnolias were so messy I probably would not have planted them.  We moved to Texas twenty years ago into a new construction neighborhood.  The front yard was put in by the builder, the barren back yard was a constant mud pit with the pounding thunderstorms virtually every afternoon.  Add a four year-old who saw no issue with red Texas clay and new carpet… we needed some landscaping, stat!

Living in the south for the first time I made a snap decision that we needed magnolias. I loved the movie Steel Magnolias, the strength of the women, the way they kept going in the worst of times, the way they could rely on each other. Magnolias are the trees of the south! Magnolias on the fence line would be perfect!  Right after we got the yard put in a neighbor down the street commented that her husband wouldn’t let her have magnolias, “They are so messy.”

Messy?

Thus began the guilt.

The leaves fall year round.  Really?  When they get stressed in the heat they REALLY fall.  Drought? They throw a pouty, hissy-fit of leaves all over the place paying no attention to which side of the fence whatsoever. On our lawn or in the neighbor’s pool, those trees don’t care.

But I sure did.

I could clean up after messy trees in my own back yard, but it’s not like I could hop the fence and toss our leaves back over to our side.  Well, not unless it was the dead of night with a waning moon. Don’t ask me how I know this.

After twenty years those trees are really big now, dropping trashcans full of leaves at a time. Guilt by the bagful. I sometimes contemplate baking cookies for the neighbors as a sign of repentance. Then I’d get busy and the cookies never quite make it to the oven. I have even felt guilty about that!

New neighbors moved in two years ago.  We met over the back fence one afternoon. I apologized profusely about our trees.  “Let me know if they are a problem or if you need branches trimmed back. I’m so sorry they’re so messy…”

A gracious smile stopped by tumble of word. “We love your trees.  They are beautiful. We wouldn’t have a bit of shade in the evening without them. Just look at all the blooms about to come.”

Blooms? What blooms?  The guilt for messing up their yard took away the beauty of the blooms.

Funny how guilt is so insidious, yet serves no purpose. We beat ourselves up for things that matter little to others. We withhold forgiveness for ourselves when others offer it freely.

Special needs parenting can come with a heaping plate of guilt for so many things. Guilt for birth differences, lack of access to therapy and medications, lack of time for family and friends, short-changing siblings who get a smaller share of everything, to name a few. Does any of that guilt serve a purpose? Does it help in anyway?  Or does it just make the load heavier?  Do you work through it to a place of forgiveness just to find a few days later that you’ve picked it back up again?

Our lives are messy, like those trees.  So what? We grow stronger through the years, blessing others in ways we do not even see. We too have beautiful blooms. Do we take the time to recognize them for ourselves?

Whatever guilt it is that you carry, God is bigger. God forgives, wiping clean the slate for a fresh start. Allow yourself to live into that gift by giving over to God your guilt and taking back a life free of self-condemnation.

My prayer for you today, enjoy the blooms!

 

Image: Magnolia Grandiflora Flower by Andrew Butko [GFDL 1.3 (www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl-1.3.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons