I had the privilege of speaking with Jolene in August 2010. She was in the early stages of writing and I was one of the many parents that she interviewed to be included in the book. Jolene already wrote a wonderful book titled "A Different Dream for My Child." The book I was being interviewed for was going to compliment that book. It was an honor to get to know such a phenomenal woman and to share our family's story. There was something therapeutic about talking to Jolene. Since then I've been thrilled to see Jolene posting some of the information I've shared with her on her blog. It feels good knowing that my input somehow helped others. And Jolene, thank you for dubbing me your "Queen of Apps" in your latest post. I think I'll have to put that on my resume. ;) You can click the links below if you want to see those blog entries on differentdream.com.
Seriously? There's an App for That? - Posted September 20, 2010
What the Personal Caregiver iPhone App can Do For You - Posted October 27, 2010
Breast Feeding: There's An App for That, Too. - Posted May 27, 2011
Below you'll find a guest post from Jolene as well as an except from the book. You can purchase the book from her website or you can click here to purchase it at 10% off the retail price. I also have one copy that I want to give away to one of my readers FOR FREE! If you know of family who could benefit from this book, or if YOU can, please feel free to privately message me or comment below. :)
Words from Jolene...
When our beautiful newborn boy was transferred to a regional hospital, my husband and I felt lost at sea. A few hours later, we learned that our baby required immediate surgery at a university hospital 750 miles away. Without it, he would die. That news threw us overboard. We longed for someone who could come alongside and pull us out of the water. A book to chart a map through unfamiliar waters and assure us of God’s presence.
But our son was born in 1982 when pediatric medicine was a relatively new field. Families like ours were hard to find. Parenting books hadn’t been written. The internet didn’t exist. Over the next twenty years, even after the surgeries and medical procedures that corrected our son’s condition were over, my search for parenting resources yielded scant results. Eventually, I sensed God nudging me to come alongside young parents lost at sea like we had been, to create a map they could follow.
Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs is that map. It’s a map for parents of kids living with medical special needs as well as conditions like Down Syndrome, juvenile diabetes, developmental delays, and autism, and those facing a terminal diagnosis. It guides parents by providing tools and resources they need to become effective advocates for their kids.
The book features interviews, advice, and resources from more than fifty families, including Tiffany, and two dozen professionals. With their help, the book addresses the situations parents face every day. Things I wish someone had told me, like:
• Asking questions after diagnosis.
• Dealing with insurance companies.
• Preparing a child for a hospital stay.
• Accessing financial resources and government monies.
• Accessing special education services.
• Determining optimum level of care.
• Mobilizing volunteers at home.
• Supporting the sibs.
• Preparing a child for death.
• Planning a funeral.
• Participating in community and church events.
• Creating a special needs trust for adult children with special needs.
In addition to practical advice, Different Dream Parenting tackles spiritual questions families are often afraid to ask. Questions about:
• God’s sovereignty
• Parental guilt
• Setting and maintaining spiritual priorities
• Grieving for children living with special needs
• Grieving the death of a child
• Passing faith on to children with special needs
Thirty day prayer guides in the appendices are for parents too exhausted to form their own prayers.
I remember what it’s like to be lost at sea, thrown overboard by an unexpected diagnosis, and drowning under a flood of caregiving demands. My goal is to put Different Dream Parenting into the hands of floundering parents so they have a map and know they’re not alone. To order the book, visit www.DifferentDream.com and click on the “buy the book” tab.
Thanks, Tiffany, for this opportunity to guest blog at The Art of Lion Taming and tell people about Different Dream Parenting.
An Excerpt from the book...
I Didn’t Sign Up for This, God!
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you can’t move? The car is racing toward the edge of a cliff and you can’t lift your foot to press the brake pedal. An attacker is breaking down the door to your house and you can’t raise your arm to dial 911. Your child is about to run in front of a truck and you can’t open your mouth to scream.
My bad dream became a reality in 1982. My husband and I stood beside our son’s isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit. An IV needle pierced Allen’s tiny arm, and angry red scars crisscrossed his chest. One end of his feeding tube hung on a pole beside his IV bag. The other end rose from the soft skin of his tummy. Pain etched his wide forehead and tugged at the corners of his perfect rosebud mouth.
More than anything, I wanted to reach out and take his hurt away. But I was trapped in a bad dream. Immobilized. Inadequate. Helpless. Though God had assigned me to love and care for this beautiful child, I could do nothing to minimize his pain. My thoughts were an inward scream. This isn’t what I signed up to do, God! I don’t want to be a helpless onlooker. I want to parent my child. How can I care for him? What can I do?
As the parent of a child with special needs, you’ve probably experienced the same sense of helplessness. Whether your child is critically or chronically ill, mentally or physically impaired, develop- mentally or behaviorally challenged, you want to do something. You want to ease your child’s pain, but you don’t know how. You want to help your child realize his or her full potential, but you don’t know where to begin. You want to ask God about your child’s suffering, but you don’t want to be condemned for questioning His wisdom. You want to believe God is with you, but you don’t know how to find Him.
You’re stuck in a bad dream. You can’t move. You can’t speak. You want someone to shake you awake and tell you everything will be okay. Instead, you wake up and must become the parent you never expected to be. You doubt that you’re up to the task. You’re worried about your child’s future. And you’re wondering, Does anyone understand what I’m experiencing?
The answer is yes, many parents understand your situation. In the United States,
• 10–15 percent of newborns, or 431,000 annually, spend time in neonatal intensive care according to the March of Dimes.
• 12 percent of children between ages 1 and 17 had medical conditions serious enough to require hospitalization between 2004 and 2006, the most recent years for which statistics are available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• 13.6 percent of students between ages 6 and 21 were enrolled in some kind of special needs program according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. That’s 706,000 of our country’s school-aged children.
Lots of kids mean lots of parents, dads and moms who are valuable sources of information and advice. In this book, dozens of them share with you the wisdom they gained while parenting kids with special needs.
Support can also come from the surprising number of professionals who work with families of kids with special needs. These professionals—and the resources they’ve created—are available at hospitals, medical facilities, government agencies, private organizations, businesses, schools, churches, and more.
This book brings you advice from professionals around the country and provides information about national organizations and resources. It also gives tips about where to start searching for state and local resources. More often than not, your problem won’t be a lack of resources, but a lack of awareness of them or inability to access them.
Different Dream Parenting contains six sections: Diagnosis, Hospital Life, Juggling Two Worlds, Long-Term Care Conditions, Losing a Child, and Raising a Survivor. Each section is divided into four chapters. Three chapters address practical issues. The last chapter in each section addresses spiritual concerns.
Parents of kids with special needs often wrestle with prickly spiritual questions. I sure did. Sometimes I still do. So do all the parents interviewed in this book, and most of the professionals, too. Every day, we continue to ask questions about our kids’ lives and futures. Gradually, we learn more about how to trust God’s timing and wait for His answers.
As you read this book, please ask your faith questions. Read about how parents and professionals learned to ask questions, wait, and listen. Consider the answers they have discerned and their suggestions about how to find comfort and courage in God’s Word. When you are ready, try out their ideas about how to pray and use Scripture to hear God’s answers to your hard questions. The thirty-day prayer guides in appendix A are designed to help you engage in conversation with Him.
But even with prayer guides and Scripture to guide you, I know how hard it can be to trust the God who is allowing your child to suffer. So I won’t condemn you for asking prickly questions. Instead, I’ll encourage you, cry with you, and support you when your faith grows weak. When you can’t hang on a minute longer, I’ll hold you close until your strength and your faith return.
I hope this book helps you break out of your bad dream, wake up, and move forward with joy and confidence. I pray that the stories of parents and professionals in this book will give you hope and strength.
Most of all, I hope you discover the truth God has revealed to me and many other parents. Raising a child with special needs isn’t a bad dream. It’s just a different dream. And surprisingly, a different dream can be the best dream of all.
Taken from Different Dream Parenting, 2011 by Jolene Philo. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. All rights reserved