Saturday, February 9, 2008

Welcome to Holland

Earlier in the week, I was very frustrated with dealing with the whole epilepsy thing. Sometimes the stress of everyday builds up to a breaking point, and I had reached that point. I haven't written much about Spencer's epilepsy on my blog, but it does affect every single decision we make and every part of our lives as parents. On the day I was having a breakdown, I received this in an email from a friend.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

What a reminder to me. God didn't plan for me to go to Italy but to Holland. And He is my guide.

His plans and the journey He takes us on are always better than the plans and journey we have in mind for ourselves.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Isaiah 55:9
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Emily Pearl Kingsley’s article has been widely circulated in support groups and medical circles.Please credit as follows: As published in “That All May Worship and Serve,” July, 2002, as published on the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries web site.


Cheri said...

I will continue to pray for you and your family.Just remember that God knows the outcome. That's always easier said than done.I will pray that you will have the faith of Noah from here on out!!

Love you, Cheri

Janet Roller said...

So good. I think this analogy could apply to so many situations - "the new normal" (like Carol Kent's book). I love this post!

ocean mommy said...

Amy, I have watched from a distance at how your family takes this on with such strength, courage and grace. It's obvious to me, and a whole bunch of other people, that you know that your strength comes from God. HIS hand is so present on your family and Spencer is, well, that child has an annointing on his little life that is so strong...I can not wait to see what God does with him!

Carol said...

This made me cry. I am learning so much from you. God is really using your experiences in a mighty way.

God's girl said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. That gives great insight. Our plans are not always God's. His ways are best even when they do not seem to be to us. Great way to explain that. Lifting a prayer for your family. You have blessed me today!
Much love,

Kimberly said...

Thank you. Thank you for sharing so openly about this. For giving us a glimpse of what life is like for you and how you feel. I am so glad that your hope is in the Lord! I am blessed every time I come by your blog.

Wifeof1Momof4 said...

You know I know all too well what you are dealing with. Prayers are going up for you and Spencer.

I remember thinking the same thing when we first got the news about Ethan and some many times since then.

God IS with you and He knows exactly where you need to be. In His arms.

Can I borrow this? I would like to share this at church next month.

Lysa TerKeurst said...

One of my sons from Africa has very significant learning disabilities. At times it breaks my heart and makes me want to fix it...though I know in my heart only God can do that. So, I've just started praising God. I don't praise Him for the disabilities rather I praise God because maybe He's has them there for my son's protection. Maybe that's the only way my son will stay on the path toward what God knows He's assigned Mark to do.

Thank you for this stirring reminder. Maybe I will also write a post about this, this week.

Sweet blessings to you and Spencer!

DeAnna said...

Wow! How powerful for us all to remember that no matter what the circumstances that God charts for us, whether it is a child with a disability or something else that forever alters our lives - He is STILL in control of it all. He is the one that knows what the ultimate outcome will be. He is just waits for our response to be one of complete surrender to Him and His will. Thank You Lord for the Hollands that you place into our lives. Without them we would not get to receive the awesome blessings that you allow us to have while there.

Jenny said...

What a beautiful analogy! I stumbled across your blog from somewhere, and sent up a prayer asking God to bless your day~


Van said...

You have a special place in my heart. The day my sister had her fist episode with epilepsy will remain forever engrained on my life. A very active faimly that included horse-back-riding every day and water skiing most weekends and all summer - we had to readjust. Thank God He was (and is) Lord in our home. His grace took over and we survived -- well. I am praying for you.