On the first weekend In December, for several years, I have had the opportunity to go to the Tryad retreat at the beach. It was started by my friend David O’Brian who had cerebral palsy. After graduating from Echola Bible School, he made his home in Cannon Beach Oregon. He was passionate about sharing the love of God with everyone especially those who also had disabilities.
Since he knew that many of his handicapped friends didn’t get to go to the beach, he decided to invite them to Cannon Beach Oregon for fun and fellowship. In fact throughout the many years, as friendships developed the conference felt like a family reunion. Several of the people had very fragile physical conditions and needed specialized care, so just arranging transportation was pretty complicated. The students, from Ecola helped at conference. Many of them didn’t have any previous experience with people with disabilities until they met us. It felt a bit awkward for each of us for a while but it didn’t take long before friendships were formed.
David took great care in choosing people to lead worship and speakers who share the Word of God.
Planning for such an event must have felt like a daunting task, especially since he needed assistance with own basic needs. But, as David prayed God always answered and people stepped forward to help his plan take shape. No matter what was thrown in front of him, he never gave up. He example will always give me courage to continue doing the things God has put in my heart.
Sometimes gifts come from unlikely sources. David usually met us at the door when we arrived for the retreat, but this year he watched us from his heavenly home. When I got home from the retreat I reflected on his life. Besides giving me a great time at the retreat he gave me tenacity. And I am grateful for David’s gift to me which was the reminder that God can do great things when we offer him what we have. He showed me what can happen when we push through our problems.
Be on the lookout for hidden gifts that God wants to give you this season. Please share then with me.
There are many moms that have had their dreams interrupted by having children who need special care. I am one of them. Born in the 50’s, moms and dads didn’t have the support systems that are available today both online and in-person. Julie Keon was totally surprised after the birth of her baby girl to find out that her daughter was severely disabled and that she required almost 24 hour care. Despite the difficulty, the mother-daughter relationship taught Julie lessons that she needed to learn. Though the road is difficult, she has been able to encourage other parents and has written a book called “What I Would Tell You”.
When I was growing up, I had fun playing with dolls, but I think I remember asking my mom how I would diaper a baby. I think she said “we’ll figure it out” but I don’t think she thought I ever would.
Many people think people with disabilities cannot have children, so I surprised a lot of them, including myself! At this stage in my life I look back and think, “how did this happen?” How did my daughter actually get to be 28? How did my mom survive motherhood and how did I?
There were a lot of things that I couldn’t do as a mom, but my mom was one of my cheerleaders. She put Velcro on Rachael’s baby clothes and helped me ride the waves of new motherhood. Friends from Good Samaritan Ministries and my friend Colleen were instrumental in helping us survive. Colleen drove us places, planned birthday parties, everything I wanted to do as a mother but couldn’t. Rather than having my disability limit me, my world was expanded because I formed a network of people that were willing to join me on this journey.
One of the most amazing events happened 10 months ago, when I became a Grandma. My granddaughter is truly a reward for persevering the challenges of motherhood.
So on this Mother’s Day I want to thank my Mother for all she’s done for me and encourage other Mothers of children with special needs because I know that the road can be hard but there are rewards ahead. I would encourage any families that are going through this process to find good support systems through family, friends or community organizations such as Joni and Friends.