For all the moms with special needs kids. And special kids with needs. And needy kids who don’t feel special. And stuff.

I see you.

I see you walk away from drop-offs that suck your strength. I see how you hope that he won’t lose his way through the day. Hope that she’ll make it through the maze of misunderstood. Hope that he won’t be diminished by the deflating confusion of being different.

I see you at the birthday parties when the conversation goes there. I feel the flush rush to your face as you swallow hard and pretend. I see the pharmacist informing you polite and professional that, ‘Um, I see your funds are depleted?’ I see you lying eyes wide in the dark. Tears slipping silent because you don’t want to wake them with your worry. Your desperate gut-twisting how-the-hell-can-this-be-happening worry.

I see your heart break.

And here’s what else I see.

I see that your beautiful kid is one in a million. Except that, there are seven billion people on this blue-green rock around the sun. So, although she’s a Never-Before-Never-Again edition of No-One-Else-Ever, if she’s one in a million? Then there are seven thousand other people a lot like her.

Which means –

Your child is not alone.

And neither are you.

Because if all moms everywhere were to lift the lid on their hearts? I would bet a week of sleep that you’d find some insecurities. And the mom who snubs you sweet and smug by telling you how her kids have never fought bedtime or refused green leafy things or suddenly needed to poo in the middle of a mall – she needs your love to cover her more than most. There are no perfect kids. No perfect families. Let the mercy that God has shown to you and yours spill full and free. Offer wisdom. Wetwipes. Compassion. Possibly caffeine. And ladles of grace. You have no idea how heavy and wholesome your kindness might land in the heart of a mom who thinks no one knows, no one sees.

But friend, you have to grip courage with white-knuckle fists –

Because here’s the hard truth every mama needs to stare brave in the face:

Your kid has special needs.

Yes, your kid who is pretty and sporty and sings in the choir. Your kid with low muscle tone and ADD. Your kid who captains the side and cruises through Algebra. Your kid who limps through days too long with no song in his bones. Your kid stamping chubby and heavy in a tutu amidst prancing flamingos. Your kid who laughs easy and free and hacksaws the violin. Your kid who can’t hear you come into the room. Your kid who stares from the stage and can’t see you waving wild.

Because your kid has your DNA. Your congenital sin defect.

Every one of us has a learning disability. Wisdom is shouting in the streets and we shush it. We do it our way.

Every one of us has a physical disability. We’re all terminal.

You and I and all our kids test positive for the sin that twists us spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially and psychologically. And screws up the world.

But here’s what I know about you, because you’re brave:

You will tell your kid that there is a Redeemer. You will say it and sing it on repeat – that Jesus is hope to the hopeless, peace to the restless. You will tell your kid that the ground at the foot of the cross is level, and that her journey into newness will take her to her own spacious acre of Kingdom to cultivate. You will recite and remind – that there is One who rejoices over her with singing.

You will do what it takes. You will let out the seams or put up the hems of school systems that, in all fairness and in all the realms of reasonable possibility, can’t tailor a unique educational outfit for everyone. You will have faith in the God who carves doors through walls of what-ifs and what-nows. You will teach your child the life skill of adapt – make a plan – solve the setback. Because I’ve heard it said wise and true: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall survive.

You will make home a refuge for the small tired soul who drags his bag and flops down sad at the end of some days. You will find ways to make things funny and fun. You will hunt for the wonder. Laugh crazy. Lick the baking bowl. You will live light and loud.

You will not worry too much about those who tut-tut judgment when you make the conscious choice to surf the waves of a tantrum when it would be easier – quicker – quieter – less embarrassing – to forfeit the teachable moment and calm the storm by giving in.

You will stop, drop and roll. Stop the frantic dizzying circles of stress. Drop down in prayer for wisdom and discernment. And roll with the punches – always leaning into the life-giving habits of consistency and congruency.

You will stop trying to be brave enough for the rest of your life. You will practise Pilates: breathe in – and with the strength of the exhale cast your burdens – make yourself brave – for just the next decision.

You will stick it on the bathroom mirror and let the words wash clean over you: ‘The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.’ (Deuteronomy 29:29).

You will remember that there is a God who sees your child’s heart and mind, chromosomes and concentration span, optic nerve and eardrums, sensory system and sensitive soul. He watched her form in the darkness. He equipped you to carry her then. And he will equip you to carry her now – until she can carry herself.

[Click here if you’d like to listen to the audio of this post. Just me and Vocaroo in the study. And a golden retriever. And some hadidas.]

. . .

Please pass this on to a mom who might need it – or share it on Facebook or Twitter? And if you haven’t yet, grab a free copy of The Prayer Manifesto for Moms.

What do truth, courage and obedience look like for you this week – whether you’re a mom or a dad or any other wonderful kind of human?

It’s an honour to serve you here. Drop me a comment if I can serve you better. You can sign up to receive these posts by email, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Wow! Amazing words of encouragement! My 7 year old daughter soooo struggles at school. She is smaller than all her peers, doesn’t run as fast, can’t read as well, doesn’t understand math at all, doesn’t get invited to birthday parties, is extremely shy. BUT, she is so beautiful and kind, and funny! My sweet, sweet, little girl was placed with us when she was 2 weeks old. Addicted to cocaine and sexually abused. The adoption was finalised when she was almost 4. Now, at 7, my brave girl knows she is different. It is so hard for her to go to school and fail at almost everything. Thank you for reminding me that God knows all this and keeps her in his hands ALL THE TIME – even at school.


    • Wow, Lani.. Thanks so very much for sharing. I will pray for you and your lovely little one. I can just imagine how hard some days must seem. Every strength and blessing to you! And thanks for stopping by – come again 🙂 Love Dalene


  2. I am so very privileged to receive your posts that I feel
    truly blessed. What joy you bring to me when I see that
    a new post has come in. I give God all the PRAISE and
    GLORY for having such a lovely friend to fill my day with
    such joy.Although aged, I have learnt a lot now myself while reading this and listening to the audio. THANK YOU!


  3. Dear Dalene,

    It’s 8:53pm. Exhausted from a full day’s intense doing-everything-that-it-takes regimen of neurological stimulation and physical therapy on our 4 yr old special needs daughter, her Mom has fallen asleep on the couch. She mumbled once more how so-sore her back was just before she slipped away into dreamland.

    Not much that we can about it. She wants to push through. Her child needs her sacrifice. Every day is a singular fight against time and gravity. She wants her child to walk and talk one day. She dreams about it. We talk about it. She faithfully keeps God’s promise of healing close to her heart, praying for that day to come. She’s such a wonderful Mom.

    She texted me today. Said she wanted me to read a blog. Told me this lady understood our journey. Explained to me how she read the blog article over and over again. Repeated often how it filled her heart with joy.

    Now, I’m not a Facebook fan. I hardly ever do status checks. But tonight I did, searching for your link on her page. And I read your beautiful words of wisdom.

    It is true. You do know. You do see. May God bless you with divine reaches and impact farther than you can imagine.

    And while they are sleeping, I’ll be reflecting on your kind message while the words in it softly find resting places in my soul. Dad.


    • Hi there and thanks so very much for stopping by, and for the encouragement! I’m so honoured to have been able to encourage you in your journey with your daughter… Every strength and blessing to you guys, Dalene


  4. Dear Dalene. Wow. Another one! Yesterday evening, honestly, I was ready to give up on God. Hope hurt too much. My dear, angel child, who made me a mother the moment I met her stick-figure body in a hospital cot at age 2, is now 17. She has auto-immune enteropathy. Her gut doesn’t work. Her kidneys don’t work. Her pituitary gland doesn’t work. Now, I’m told, her brain is going backwards – fast. And she’s developed a terrifying psychosis. She’s 1.22m tall, weighs 30kg (a big improvement on the 5kg when she was 3), and I hold her as she sobs why she just couldn’t let me admit her to a psychiatric hospital. “If I leave you, I get sick. Really, Mommy, I do!” And it’s true. She does. Physically ill. So yesterday, I had a 13 hour day in the car, trying to follow doctors’ orders and have her admitted to a psychiatric facility where she would not see me for a week. In the end, they wouldn’t have her. After all that, two weeks of sobbing and praying and pleading, months and months of tests and sleeping on hospital floors, driving endlessly over that damn mountain we hide behind, here we were again, alone in the darkness of a world that won’t have us. And trying to find R50 for petrol to get us the rest of the way home. I was angry. I was enraged. I yelled at her, I yelled at my parents, I yelled at my 12 year-old autie Pickle Princess who wanted blue popcorn, I threw my phone across the garden because it didn’t say what I wanted it to, I chucked the packed and unopened bags into the bedroom with a crash, I fired off angry cynical messages to the people who care about me most, I wished we had not been spared in that terrible car accident. I told God it’s over. I’m done believing. I feel asleep thirsty, too tired to get a glass of water, my Pickle wriggling and whispering her stories next to me in the bed. I just slept. Today, I woke up confused, because again, here was God, in the silence of the early morning, I felt that same yearning. Through the overwhelming psychic and physical pain, I still wanted to make that connection. I still believe, and I don’t know why. What do I believe in? I believe we are loved. I believe we are seen. I believe we are heard. In the grandeur and majesty and eternity that is God, some cracked-up, exhausted mom living in the middle of nowhere with two off-centre kids the world won’t have, still matters to Him. In this heavy feeling of failure and shame and loneliness, there is a God who still loves me and us. All I could say was, “renew a right spirit within me” over and over again. Our little, also cracked-up, rescued dachshund snuggled onto my lap. Automatically, I stroked her and spoke the words she wants to hear every morning. In that moment I felt, this is the Spirit in me. It is the Spirit of gentleness. That, for now, is the right spirit within me: just be gentle. Emma


    • Wow Emma, thank you so much for sharing here… Gosh. No words for the pain you’re carrying. But I will pray with you and for you, and for your family, and that God would reveal Himself to you and them in fresh and astounding and renewing ways. Sending much love..

      Liked by 1 person

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