Don’t Be Jealous of Our Romantic…(WOW! Write On Wednesday! takes 1.30 min. to read)

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I’m glad I got your attention. Romance always does, right? You wonder where we might have gone that you’ll get to try some time. Or perhaps you’re thinking we found a great new spot for dinner and you’ll be adding it to your list of places to go!

Well, lane change! That’s not exactly where I taking you. Instead, I’m taking you on a little trip. Oh, yes, it’s a real trip. But it wasn’t the trip I was expecting and neither were you.

Recently, we realized in planning a trip for ministry, that the hopeful 3 days we’d hoped to have (just the 2 of us seeing the sites after the meetings) would need to include our son. The usual care options for our 33 year old son with special needs weren’t available for that frame of time and we would need to take him with us or not go. Delete the words not go and romantic. Even though the trip had nothing to do with romance, just the two of us getting to be together can be romantic because we’re not really alone that much!

We’ve come to realize that sometimes that “romantic dinner for 2” will actually be 3, or the trip that was to be just the two of us will be including our son. It’s a matter of vocabulary and attitude. If we want to do these things, sometimes we need to think outside the box and just make a new plan.

When your plans get changed, the romance you hoped would happen – doesn’t, or you can’t do what you’d thought you might, can you change the vocabulary and attitude to fit the circumstances and enjoy the journey?

I haven’t arrived yet; I’m still learning, but now I generally make sure I reserve a table for 3!

What are WE COMPLAINING about?!?!? (WOW! Write On Wednesday! Read in 2 minutes)

 

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Do you know someone who doesn’t complain? It’s not me, and it’s few people I know.

Someone in my life seldom – if ever complains. He is happy with little; seldom requests extra things; is happy with whatever food is put in front of him (and eats it!) and with few exceptions ever even asks for much. He doesn’t worry about his clothes. He wears what he has – and it’s a slim wardrobe. That guy is our son Joey.

While he has special needs, I find it quite intriguing that he is (for the most part) really content with the very simple things in life. He doesn’t seem to notice what he doesn’t have, can’t do, or what others have or are doing. Sometimes when he must join me in going places I realize how much his life is “led” by me and in some ways how few choices he has; yet he doesn’t complain about it. He just seems to take life moment by moment without complaint about now or worry about tomorrow. What lessons we learn from him!

What I most notice is that he is content; content with little; content with life.

So what about us? What if we simply paid attention in the next 24 hours to see how much we complain? AND THEN, what if we stopped complaining for the next 24 hours?

What if we simply looked to the good, shared positive things, complimented (sincerely) others, thanked others for things they did for us, praised others for worthy things, praised God for the day and how he provided for us? Instead of complaining to or about a waitress or sales person – entered into uplifting and helpful conversation or perhaps in the midst of poor service asking, “How is your day going?” (And really caring to hear the answer.)

Want to join me in a 48 hour experiment? Take whatever 48 hours you choose between today and next Wednesday….and share with me (on my Cindi Ferrini – Author/Speaker Facebook page or here on my blog) just what happened in your 2 days that is different, new, and nice…and maybe life changing!


I’m in and I’m not complaining about it! Please join me!

 

Brain Groove – WOW! (Write On Wednesday!) Takes 2 minutes to read!

Visiting a dear elderly friend who has short term memory issues (likely dementia/Alzheimer’s) recently was a little challenging because I’m pretty sure she repeated the same thought and story in one way or another 50 times in our hour visit. I know her mind, her brain, is in a groove she can’t get out of. She doesn’t have a clue she’s repeated herself. I was totally fine with responding 50 times with the same (hopefully) tender response. I’m used to it. I have a son with special needs, and some days he just gets in his own groove and can’t get out of it. It might be the days of the week, or where he’s going with Aunt Susie, or some “idea” in his head I can’t even understand. I try very hard not to get frustrated, but it IS different when you live with the person who can’t get out of that brain groove versus only spending an hour with someone!

However, in true fashion, I caught myself saying something the other day….and I realized it was MY brain groove. It’s a particular issue that bothers me about dealings with people; but the difference is this: I know I say it, I know I’m repeating myself, and I know it must really irritate a few people! As a result, I’ve made it a point to limit my brain groove comments! I don’t need to keep repeating the same old thing….I need to make some changes. So my changes have become saying what I need to briefly or not at all, and only to people who either understand or care! I know my brain groove issue could also become a sin issue – especially if I attach a name to my frustrations and make sure everyone knows about it! If I can do something to make a change, then I should, otherwise it becomes an issue for which I’ll likely have regret.

How about you? What’s your brain groove issue? For some it’s gossip; thoughts; for others pornography; for others eating more than they should…it’s whatever we keep doing without even giving it much of a second thougth…it just happens because we let it. While we’re mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually able, we should get “hold” of that issue and make sure we’re not making it our brain groove.

That’s my story and I’m not going to keep repeating it!

 

 

 

 

I SURRENDER vs. I QUIT (WOW! Write.On.Wednesday! Takes < 2 minutes to read.)

“You are like an oak but God is making you into a willow.” Not the words a young wife and mom would welcome hearing from their mother-in-law. But indeed, my mother-in-law (whom I loved) was right.

I have a strong constitution; I know what I believe and I stand firm in it, and I know in whom I believe. I have a clear sense of right and wrong/true and false, strong convictions, and deep love and devotion to family and friends with whom I share healthy relationships (mutually caring, honest and respectful). But I’m also very not perfect. My mother-in-law, others, and I recognize my strengths and limitations.

It’s easy to be strong, confident, bold, and firm when life is going the way you think it should or want it to, but when the hard and cold winds of life blow, it will be the oak branch most likely to snap. The willow will bend and bow.

In the process of “life” (embracing a son with special needs: cerebral palsy, mental challenges, epilepsy and who’ll always be with us, the death of 5 family members within 10 years, and various “life” situations) were stormy winds to help me learn to bow instead of break. I learned, in the midst of many life challenges that I needed to become more like the willow if I wanted to survive the storms. The willow surrenders to the wind; the oak gives up and quits.

Most people I’ve talked to don’t particularly like the storms of life, but seem to be thankful for them. Lessons learned get us through (not necessarily “over”) the challenges and heartache. It takes time, but we learn it’s better to bend and bow in surrender to the Lord than to snap and quit. And the interesting thing: we’re always being tested to see if we’ll surrender or quit.

Are you more like the oak or the willow?

 

 

THE EYES HAVE IT!

Previously posted/newly updated for THIS our new website/blog!

Reading Time @ 4 minutes

My husband had finished his requirements for graduation from dental school at THE Ohio State University, and was given a menu of options and opportunities regarding where he could spend some discretionary free time. He chose to work at University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, doing dentistry for children with special needs.

He’d been taught in dental school to look into the eyes of his patients to be sure they were not experiencing any discomfort (okay, pain) as a result of whatever procedure was being done. What he noticed when looking into the eyes of these children with special needs, was how absolutely beautiful, even captivating their eyes were. It wasn’t just the color of their eyes, or the fact that some of them couldn’t even focus their attention on something. It was just “that look”.

For most of them, the only communicating they could do was with their eyes. It was fascinating to him to watch their eyes as he worked on their teeth.In the early years of our marriage and his dental practice, he worked in a few nursing homes whose residents were children with special needs. Dealing with drooling patients with flailing arms, squealing with uncontrolled emotion, was very sobering. It was challenging from a dental perspective as well as an emotional perspective. He was always thankful to come home where things were calm and “normal.”

When our son Joey was born he seemed quite “normal”, but one night, Joe was caring for Joey so I could get some needed sleep. Joe scooped Joey out of the crib like he’d made a great football catch and took him into the family room to play on the floor for a bit. As he rolled Joey gently back and forth, even rolling a ball to him, attempting “catch” with his infant son, he caught a glimpse of Joey’s eyes that took him back to his experience at University Hospital. He knew “that look”. He picked Joey up and held him close, saying, “Oh God, not my son!” 

What Joe knew that night, I was not yet seeing. I noticed that Joey wasn’t doing the things others his age were doing, but the doctors assured us he’d catch up – developmentally delayed. But the truth was this: instead of catching up, the gap kept getting bigger in what he could do and what he should have been able to do. 

For Joey’s first birthday, a few of my gal friends and their children gathered at the home of my parents for a little picnic. All the other children were running around their property, throwing stones into the pond, and eating a kid friendly lunch by themselves. What a shock it was to me that Joey could do none of that. He sat is the high chair, had to be carried everywhere, and needed help putting food into his hand. A dear friend, whose son was a little younger than Joey, but running circles around him, privately chatted with my mom about the boys. She shared her concerns about Joey. Because she cared enough to share in such a loving manner, it prompted us to begin asking some difficult questions of the doctor and pursue testing.

It must have been difficult for her to bring up her concerns, but what a loving gesture that was. She was often the one to call me at just the right times – when I’d gone through a rough day – listening to my concerns, allowing me to cry, and encouraging me.

Sometimes we want to deny what we see. We want to close our eyes, and pretend what’s happening isn’t. We want to turn our heads the other way or even go to sleep. But denial won’t get the help that’s needed. We need to open our eyes, and move forward. Once we accept what we are seeing, we can begin to take the necessary steps to seek the right doctors and diagnosis – getting the help that will allow our child to learn all they can. The earlier the recognition and acceptance, the earlier we can get help, and the better chances the child will have to gain the kinds of skills and learning they’ll need to make it in this world.

We’ve been on this journey for many years now, so I’ve had many opportunities to look into the eyes of parents and children. What is very difficult and challenging in the early years, can indeed become a great blessing later on. Today, if I’d be asked to vote whether I’d take this journey again, I know I’d raise my hand and say, “Count me in! The eyes have it! ”

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Previously posted/newly updated for THIS our new website/blog!

Reading Time @ 3 minutes.

Perhaps you, like I, have missed the opportunity to show compassion or love to someone simply because they have special needs and we don’t know and don’t seek a way to connect with them. Perhaps we have no idea how to engage in conversation with them or their caregivers – no idea how to, well, walk a mile in their shoes!

When our son was a few years old, my husband was finally able to express his fear and disappointments regarding the handicaps and challenges that were a part of our every day existence and of concern to us and our sons’ care. It wasn’t easy for him to share his heart, but did so through tears, only to hear the cutting words of the listener, “I thought you were tougher than that.” That was the last time he shared anything about our son with that person, and for that matter, with few others for many years.

If we truly walked a mile in other peoples’ shoes, we’d quickly understand what they have to deal with. We’d become aware of the hot button issues that tick them off, and we’d become sensitive to what makes them tick. We wouldn’t have all the answers.

We wished we could have had people to talk to when our son was small.  The people we reached out to were probably not equipped to mentor or help us. For that reason, we desire to mentor couples with young children, to listen to their challenges, to cry with them, and to encourage them.  Sometimes listening to their struggles is difficult because we relive in our minds the complexities of our early years; however, the positive outcome is that with the help of the Lord in our lives, we make it; and in turn we can give them help and encouragement to make it too.

Every time we feel as if we want to quit, we remember that we are called to this purpose and that God did not make a mistake. Maybe we can help others who have a similar life situation as we do but who are a few steps behind us in their journey, or perhaps we can simply be one who’ll provide a listening ear if we are not in the same life situation. We just need to be willing. Willing to extend the love and compassion that person needs for the moment.

 Ask yourself:

  •  Am I willing to be a listener to someone who has a challenge different than my own?
  • What would it take for me to approach someone with special needs (and/or their caregiver) and ask how I might help or pray for them this day?
  • Might I offer to assist in a “caring” capacity at church by watching a child with special needs (thus allowing the parents a time of uninterrupted time to sit in church together?)
  • Take a moment to observe what you see. What must their lives be like? Sit quietly and contemplate how you would “do” your life, given what you are observing. Then take a moment to contemplate the things you aren’t seeing (meal times, bath routines, temper tantrums, sleepless night, medical issues, etc.)

 

Remember that their work is not 9-5 but 24/7. We might just provide them with the love and compassion they need to keep them going…all because we took some time to WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES.

GET A LIFE!

Previously posted/newly updated and posted on THIS our new website/blog

Reading Time @ 3 minutes 

Get a LIFE!

I’m often tempted to say that:

  • When things aren’t going my way and I think, “Wow, if I could just get a life!”
  • When frustrated, I sometimes say, “This is life?”
  • As a young mom changing diapers I’d catch myself thinking, “This is not what I thought children were going to be all about. I wonder when I’ll get a life.”
  • When our son wasn’t developing on schedule and we’d be doing the same therapy for the trillionth time, I’d sometimes say, “I just wish someday he’d get this, and get a life.”
  • When others don’t get in line with our wishes we sometime say, “I wish they would get a life!”

I guess it’s true that the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, but do you ever feel stuck in yours?

It would be such fun to be able to pick up and take off – to the other side of town for dinner – without calling on someone to care for our adult child with special needs. It’s not an easy task to find someone to “fill that bill.” A teenage (boy or girl) would not be appropriate to watch our grown son. A “service” to bring a stranger to care for our son (who would not be able to tell us if anything went wrong), is not a comfortable option.

I’d love to be able to travel with my husband like we had dreamed when we were younger. But if a night out is hard to accomplish, a week is not much easier. And it would be such a treat to say “yes” to friends who are going to see a movie or go to a play – last minute!

Oh…If I could just “Get a LIFE!”

But, while the grass is often greener on the other side, I face the fact that life is different for us than for some of those around us and that we have choices to make. And for us (and you) choosing what we feel is right means choosing what we value. It’s that simple and it’s that complicated.

In our society we want to fix things so life is not interrupted or inconvenienced. If we could take a pill to make everything perfect, we would. Because no pill can cure us from challenges and struggles, we have to decide what we value because that’s how we’ll decide what we’ll do. For us the reality and choice was valuing and caring for our son, and the knowledge that doing so would last a lifetime – either his or ours.

So how does that look today? As a woman who now has grown children and grandchildren, I thought I’d have outgrown this saying, but sometimes I find myself seeing others in retirement doing what we’d hoped, and hear myself saying, “I wish I could get a life!” But on good days – and most of them are, I realize that all of us have times when things don’t go our way, and we all have to “grow up” and learn to go with the flow. I occasionally get frustrated, or feel sorry for myself, but see many of my friends do too – their frustrations are just a different flavor. And, we all look back on those mundane days of childrearing – doing the same thing over and over again with much fondness, and sometimes with a secret wish to return to or re-do a few of them!

I realize I do have a life. It’s one that includes caring for our son who has brought so much to our marriage, family and life. It’s about being tethered to home more than we thought we would, but being able to look out over our beautiful wooded back yard and say, “I’m pretending to be on vacation today,” while reading a book and sipping my Café Vienna, or actually traveling somewhere but keeping in mind the pace will be very slow with Joey at our side. It’s about being thankful for a sweet handful of family and friends who stand in the gap to care for our son when we have opportunities to speak at conferences or for ministry. It’s about recognizing we’ve met wonderful people that we wouldn’t have, had Joey not been given to us. It’s a romantic dinner for three, which still means I don’t have to cook!

Yes, I’ve come to realize that while we all want to “get a life,” we wind up finding that the phrase just needs to be reworked: “This IS our life!”And it’s really pretty special.

Special Needs – The IMPORTANCE of RELATIONSHIPS: Marriage, Family, Friends, etc.

Previously Posted – Newly Posted to THIS our NEW BLOG/Website

Reading time: @ 4 minutes

MARRIAGE:

With a divorce rate hovering somewhere in the 80-85% range, we know it takes a lot of work to make marriage work, along with all the other relationships one has in the world of special needs.

In order to make marriage work, Joe and I have had to Divide and Conquer! That would mean splitting up and one of us accomplishing something while the other “mans the fort”. It’s not always our first choice, not fun, but it’s what works! The idea for YOU, is to consider how this technique would work for you. Here are a few ways we made it work:

1-      In the early days, one of us would go to church. The other would stay home with Joey (and our girls, sometimes). The one at home would bundle up and pack up the car with the children, meet whoever was at church and trade places. That worked during those years when we could have Joey with us IN church and when there was no place to put him AT church.

2-      If Joe was asked to speak somewhere or meet with someone, Cindi would manage things at home, allowing each the opportunity to go out.

Additionally it’s important to Pamper Your Marriage!  We can’t do life as usual for very long without some kind of relief from the pressures of caring for another’s full-time needs. Here are few ideas:

  • Plan intimacy
  • Take time to sit and talk, hold hands, take a walk
  • Grocery shop together and make a recipe together.
  • Plan a weekend away when you have opportunity. Just don’t forget to come home.

Talking things  out is crucial to a marriage. That takes time. Here are a few ideas that will help you think what might work for YOU:

  • Write out “care issues”.
  • Talk through decisions until mutually coming to an agreement (working through smaller pieces of the decision rather than the big chunk).
  • Offer solutions without judging or jumping to conclusions.
  • Show respect for each other’s ideas.

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS certainly include extended family – the children we have and our own siblings. This relationship can be tricky because we to accept help but not take advantage of those who offer help.

We wanted all of our own children to be treated the same but knowing there are some things the person with special needs would need that they won’t. Because of that, we were careful not to ask or expect our own children to care for our son unless we asked them to do so like we would of a babysitter, and then followed through with also financially compensated them. We never wanted them to feel obligated all the time to care for their brother.

We made sure to have family rules, which included the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them” and Mark 12:31, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” If we could follow that, we thought we’d be able to set a good example for our children, neighbors, teachers, etc. Also, we always desired to work as a TEAM (Together Each Accomplishes More).

Family meetings and goal planning were always tops on our list as a family, so we knew we were all on the same page, and no one could say they felt left out or unimportant. Everyone had a “say” at our meetings!

OTHERS: Friends , teachers, aides, administrators, people at church are folks to keep near us for the well being and help in development and learning of our child with special needs. Our goal? BUILD BRIDGES rather than BURN BRIDGES. These people will give us help in getting to the next step of life. Not everyone will be able to help and be a part of our child’s journey, but it’s important to give as much help and advice (to those willing to learn) so they can be of help and assistance for YOUR life journey. Not all advice we will receive will be helpful, but we can accept it, try it, and use what works – disregarding the rest.

For daily doses of hope and encouragement join us on FACE BOOK at UNEXPECTED JOURNEY