Throughout the planning process our minds are focused on all of the families that will attend. We focus on making them feel encouraged, loved and uplifted. The joy that it gives me to see these families come and enjoy their night out makes the 6 months of planning worth it. I know full well what it means to them because I know first hand what it's like to live with a special needs child. I sometimes don't realize how much I'm blessed by Near His Heart; I'm so busy planning and getting things together that it's not until the week of the dinner that I sit back and think...Hey this night is for me too!! Most of the time, that thought comes in a moment of frustration when I feel lost as a parent of my sweet yet often challenging special needs child.
Raising a child with special needs is obviously different from raising a child that's typical. However, I think the thing that surprises me the most is the emotion behind raising a special needs child. I get emotional about every decision that's made concerning Jacob. Jacobs hindrances with autism are frustrating, but it doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to the emotion of my heart. I'm constantly doubting my ability to be his parent and I always second guess the decisions I have to make for him. I constantly have to make hard decisions regarding his future. I worry what life will be like for him next year at a different school, when he gets into middle school and high school. Will he go to college? Will he be able to work? Will he live at home forever? Will he ever get married? Will he have kids? It's a feeling I've never felt when dealing with my typically developing, yet very rambunctious Caleb. Raising Jacob is a humbling experience on a daily basis. Not that I am humble by any means, but I realize often my need for Christ and his power to work through me and give me patience and humility with it all.
There is a phrase in the song "10,000 Reasons" that is often my prayer daily. It's not a fancy phrase but it's so often the cry of my heart. There are days that are hard physically, emotionally and spiritually and this is the only prayer I have for that day...
"Let me be singing when the evening comes."
I'm excited for Friday night to get here. It's a time that I enjoy ministering to other families while in turn these families minister to me. I love seeing their children, I love that they are filled with hope, I love that they have a night of rest, but most of all I love that they hear about the one that is the Great Comforter.
To all of the Near His Heart families, we love you, we care about you and we enjoy seeing you every year!