Extreme Compassion

A few weeks ago something was said to me that I will never, ever forget.  Three simple words: "I CAN RELATE" will forever be etched in my mind.  

In one of the collaborative classes that I teach in, I have been impressed by a student from very early on.  I have not noticed her for the super cute side pony she frequently rocks or her academics (although she is very bright), but for the way she treats one of "my kids".  As most of the students in the class are annoyed or bothered by his interruptions or quirky habits, she sits next to him and treats him like he is "normal" and will go as far to ask him to partner up and read their novel or offer him pencil lead or paper when he needs it... which is most days.  She doesn't use a lot of words with him, but her compassion probably says way more than anything she could ever say.

 I went home yesterday thinking of her and wondering why...why is she so nice to him? Why does she care?  Why aren't other students more compassionate towards him?

Today I received an answer to my why questions.  I walked up to this student with extreme compassion and handed her a "gotcha" (a form that allows us to give out positive consequences to our students when we catch them doing something great).  I told her that I have noticed how she treats this student in class and it has really impacted me...before I could even ask her WHY, she said to me, "I can relate, I was on an IEP until last year so I understand what students like him go through everyday."

My heart was full of so many emotions as she spoke with so much compassion.  I fought back the tears as I told her how much it meant to me to see her extreme compassion and ability to go against the norm and actually befriend this student.  I told her about my son...the one I pray for over and over to have someone befriend him in a special way.  The one who is loved by so many, but doesn't have play-dates or a buddy the way his typical brother did at his age.  The one who isn't able to communicate like his peers or go up the slide on the playground by himself.  The one who ends up hanging out with his parents at birthday parties and gatherings because he isn't able to keep up with the other kids his age.  All of these things flooded my mind and it was overwhelming.  But, then the Lord whispered something to me too...

Tiffany, I am the Alpha and the Omega.  I see it all.  
I know Jack's needs and I know yours as his mom. 
Jack is my child and I will provide him with everything he needs.  
Continue to rest in my love for Jack.  

So, as I continue to trust that the Lord is taking care of Jack, I thank him for students like mine who have encouraged me and allowed me to see this extreme compassion we're all called to convey to others.  

Be blessed!  


1 Corinthians 12:25-26
that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Jack walking up to the register to pay for his new shin pads for soccer!


Need a Favor

I am writing today (after taking a few months off-where does the time go??) to ask you for a favor of sorts.  Let me give you some background first.  In May I took a Special Ed teaching position at Will Rogers Middle School in Miami, OK for the 2013-14 school year.  I have always had a heart for those who need a little (or a lot of) extra help, but since I have had Jack, it's turned into a passion of mine.  I see these kids as "my kids"...maybe even more than before because I can so closely relate to what they go through everyday.  I see their triumphs and victories after gaining a concept they have worked on over and over... and I also see their pain that occurs day in and day out when I look into their tear-filled eyes.  It's all I can do to not join them and allow my tear-filled eyes to turn into alligator tears streaming down my face.  

You might be wondering where you fit into this picture.  Here's the favor I need from you-from every parent out there.  

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE talk to your kids about those with special needs.  It might not seem like a big deal or something you need to do...but, it really is.  We so strongly believe that communication is one of the biggest keys to true acceptance.

Start the conversation off with something like this and see where it leads.  

1.  Ask them to refrain from using the "R-Word".  Or, tech-tard or any other form of "tard" out there.  You'd be surprised how hurtful this is to our kids and how often it's used.   

2.  Ask them if they know any kids with special needs from school.  If so, ask them to walk by this student and simply say "hello."  It's amazing what a simple greeting can do for our kids' confidence.  

3.  Provide them with answers to questions they might have about kids who go to the resource room for extra help.  Explain that these students might just need a quiet environment, or more one on one help...it's not because they are "dumb" or "stupid".

4.  Ask them if they would be bold enough to defend a kid with special needs who is bullied.  Teachers see lots of things, but not everything.  We need others to be brave and stand up for our kids too!  

5.  And, lastly, share with your children Scripture about all of God's children.  We are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made!  Psalm 139:14

Do you still have questions on what to say and what not to say?  We'd love to hear from you and keep the dialogue going...

Thanks in advance for joining us in our mission to educate, unify, and foster acceptance!



2 FOR 20!!

Been meaning to order a ROCK WHAT YOU GOT tee... 
(or two)? 

Well, now, is the time to get 'em!  

From Monday, April 29th at 10:00 pm until Tuesday, April 30th until 10:00 pm we are offering a HUGE special...2 TEES FOR $20 (+shipping if we have to ship yours)!!  

Available Colors/Sizes:

Small (1) in Navy/ Orange print

XS (1), Medium (2), Large (2) in Navy/Lime Green print

Small (1) in Navy/ Pink print

XS (2), Small (3), Medium (2)in Heather Gray/ Pink print

Email us at: sales@thecommonthreads.org to get yours--first come, first served. We will notify you via email if we do not have the size and/or color you would like asap.  And, we will update the blog with accurate information frequently.  Thanks!!

*10% of all sales this month are going to Ian Winfrey, 
an amazing young man from Grove, OK*


Impossible Prayers

A few weeks ago, I was reminded by my MIL and FIL to pray the "impossible prayers" more.  Pray for those things in my life that I have absolutely no control over, the things that ONLY God can do.  Continue to pray the prayers that I have prayed for years with "no result".  Sometimes (or a lot of the time) I  pray for the things that seem very possible to me because I can contribute to the outcome...but, in those prayers of complete and utter dependence on Him, something special happens.  There's something so powerful about totally releasing a stronghold, person, or circumstance to The One who knows the beginning and the end.  The One who knows how many hairs are on the head of the person I am praying for.  The One who is in every detail of every circumstance I face.  

The Word is full of so many scriptures that inform us that God is able, so why don't we (I) go to His throne more with these impossible prayers?  The Lord was so incredibly gracious to allow me to see two miracles just days after bathing in these truths.  The stuff ONLY He can do is still taking my breath away today as I write about it.  

Jesus said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God.  
For all things are possible with God."  
Mark 10:27

About a week after I received this reminder and had been praying for some pretty "impossible" things to happen, the Lord gave me something I had been missing since the middle of March...

Andrew and I just put the boys down for the night and were getting ready for bed ourselves. We had just replaced our stolen iPad with a iPad mini over the weekend and we were playing around with it.  Andrew was asking Siri what to wear the next day because our weather had been anywhere from 40 to 75 that week...gotta love Oklahoma weather!  Anyway, right after he spoke the words "What should I wear tomorrow?", our notes from our original iPad showed up on the screen of the iPad mini.  You might be thinking, "huh?!" or "what?!" right about now.  Trust me, that's exactly what we were thinking too.  Andrew immediately emailed the documents to me and as I looked everything over, it was all there.  Most of the notes from my book, my journal entries, Jack's progress notes that I have taken since his diagnosis, etc.  We just looked at each other and didn't know what to say...but, we both knew it was a miracle.  It was something ONLY God could have done.  We were not backed up to iCloud.  We didn't even know what iCloud was before all of this happened (shocking, I know.) And, yet, there it was, right in front of our eyes.  Simply amazing!

We can't explain it and it doesn't make sense, but we are completely okay with that...because we believe in His word that tells us:

God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  Ephesians 3:20

About a week after we got the notes back, we had the opportunity to see another sweet miracle.  I decided to take Jack's cane to school to see if he would attempt to use it again instead of his K-Walker.  We tried to get him to use in January and he wasn't too fond of it-it was used more as a sword with Will than anything else :)  When we picked him up that day, he had not tried the cane yet, so we decided to give it a shot on the way out of school.  As soon as I put the cane in front of him, he grabbed it and just took off towards the door!  It was as if  a light-bulb went off at that moment and he felt confident that if he needed the cane, it was there to help him.  We all stood there amazed, grinning ear to ear.  And again, we knew it was the Lord doing what ONLY He can do.  

So many of you know that this has been a prayer of mine since Jack was diagnosed at 9 months old.  He will be 4 years old in July and Andrew and I have prayed so many "impossible prayers" over his life the last 3 years...we are thankful to the Lord for giving us hope and for allowing us to see Him at work!

My prayer for anyone reading this is for you to be encouraged to pray the "impossible" with me. 

Pray for that job you so desire.
Pray for your marriage to be strong in the Lord.
Pray for your child to say "momma", to take a first step, to make a new friend.
Pray for your loved one to follow Jesus.  
Pray for deep relationships with others.
Pray for financial freedom.
Pray to forgive the unforgivable.  
Pray to give up a stronghold in your life.
Pray for complete healing-- emotional or physical.  

Let us never forget--
Our God is able.  Our God is stronger.  God you are higher than any other.  

Be Blessed!!



Our Little Light

Little Light of Mine
Shine so Brightly.

What a precious gift to have this video of Jack and the two doctors who have been so helpful to our family the last 3 years.  Thank you, Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport, LA and The Children's Center in Bethany, OK for all you do!  You give families hope and somehow make us feel "normal" as soon as we walk in your door. May God continue to bless the work of your hands!  


Giving Back~April

Meet Ian Winfrey. Ian is a a sweet 8 year old who lives in Grove. His parents are Susan and Rod Winfrey and he has 2 sisters, Madison and Chloe. Ian was born with a neurological condition called Angelman Syndrome which is a deletion in his maternal 15th chromosome. Some characteristics of Angelman Syndrome may include a stiff jerky gait, developmental delay; absent speech; seizures, fascination of water, and a super happy/ excitable demeanor. Despite Ian's diagnosis, he is one happy, loving, laid back, beautiful boy who makes everyone he comes in contact with, smile. He teaches us all to enjoy the small things in life, smile at the beauty around us, and laugh even in the midst of trials.

He is now 8 years old and is currently in a wheel chair, however, a lot of "angels" walk and Ian is showing much progress in taking many assisted steps. He currently attends Grove Lower elementary and has a wonderful team of teachers, aides, speech, occupational, and physical therapists that help Ian progress daily. Ian also receives extra therapy at home by a local pediatric PT twice a week and by his family.

Ian and his family will be attending the Dallas Angelman Syndrome Walk this year May 18th. Will you please help by supporting this cute little guy?

Angelman Syndrome Foundation hosted 30 walks in 30 cities across country to raise awareness, funds to find a cure for Angelman syndrome. More than 10,000 supporters attended and raised approximately $1,030,000 to date! Not only is investment in AS research expected to help those living with and affected by AS, but other conditions that share related symptoms such as autism, epilepsy, Rett Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome and even forms of cancer. By investing in AS research, we have the potential to positively impact the lives of more than 12 million people worldwide. Since 1996, the ASF has funded over 66 research grants totaling over $4.6 million. The most aggressive funding of research is aimed at finding therapies and treatments for curing certain AS symptoms.

Thanks for sharing your amazing son with us, Susan! Also, Ian's mom is the founder and creator of Hipperbibs(www.hipperbib.com).  Please check out her website and see if it might be something your child needs...there are so many great designs and they are very durable! 


CP Awareness Day 2013!

The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
Psalm 118:24

Today, March 25th, 2013 is designated National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day by the US Congress.  We are so thankful to those who have worked so hard to make this happen.

You might be wondering, how can I raise awareness?  What is it that I can do to help?  You might be surprised how easy it really is.  I can't tell you how much encouragement we have received from conversations that have taken place because of a t-shirt.  Talking about, educating, fostering acceptance...these are all things we are about at Common Threads and we pray that you will join us in our mission to spread awareness.  

And, I wish all of you could see how Jack responds to seeing "his" glasses and walker on the tees...he is so proud and I know it provides him so much comfort to know that others support him.  Never gets old to see the smile on his face :)  

So, we are wearing some GREEN today or a Common Threads tee...or both!  Will you join us? Then, post your pics to our Common Threads FB Page @common threads, on Twitter @common_threads1 or Instagram @thecommonthreads (#cpawareness)? 

If you do, you will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE Walk by Faith or ROCK WHAT YOU GOT tee!!  

Today, we honor our son, Jack and the thousands affected by Cerebral Palsy.  You are our heroes and we are blessed because of you; your joy, perseverance, and unconditional love have taught us so much.  May you always know how much you are loved right back.  



Say Cheese!

Are you a special needs family who would love to have new family portraits?  Or, do you know a special family you would love to nominate to receive a family portrait session?  If so, this is the place to be!  

Here at Common Threads, we are always looking to partner with others who share our mission of being an encouragement to others.  My sweet friend, Abby Coyle of Abby Coyle Photo Artistry (www.abbycoyle.com) is offering a special family a mini photography session completely free!  

All you need to do is comment here and tell us why you would love to have family photos taken or why you would like to nominate a family and you could win!  The session will be for 30 minutes, near Oklahoma City, so the receiving family need to be willing to travel to the OKC area in order to enter the contest.  You must enter the contest with your comment by Monday, April 1st at 10:00 pm.  And, Abby will contact the special family after the contest to discuss location, time, and date.  

Friends, please share the word...we would love to hear from lots of families!  

Be Blessed!


Choosing Joy

As we were driving home from Oklahoma City on Saturday in the pouring rain, without a front passenger window, and glass pieces everywhere (our car was broken into while at the State Fairgrounds watching HS basketball and numerous items were stolen, including Jack's iPad, my purse and wallet, and our camera), Andrew looks at me in the backseat, sitting in between Will and Jack and says, "We will not allow the enemy to steal our joy.

John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full." 

And, from that moment on, our attitudes shifted.  Our perspective changed.  And, boy did we need it to.  We were all sad, angry, depressed, blindsided, blaming ourselves (Will kept saying, "I am so sorry, Mom,I should not have brought the iPad."  Man, I love this kid's heart), and just flat-out sick to our stomachs.  

But, as soon as Scripture was spoken, we were different.  

We were lighter.  

We laughed.  

We praised Him in the storm...literally.  

We knew that so much had been lost-countless videos of the boys and most of a "book" I have been working on for almost 2 years about our experiences the last 4 years.  

But, we knew that we still had SO much, too. It was hard to have bad attitudes when we focused on what we still had and not what had been lost. 

And, although it's not a fun situation to go through, our prayer is that something good will come out of this.  Who knows?  Maybe the person who took the iPad will watch a video of Jack walking for the first time or sitting up on his own as his brother cheered him on, or read something I wrote and it will make an impact.  Maybe this person will see those with special needs differently.  Maybe this will soften a heart that has been hardened.  Or, maybe because of something they read about the Lord, they will turn back to Him or come to know Him for the first time.  Only God knows.  But, I am choosing to believe that He allowed this to happen for a purpose far beyond my understanding.  

Lord, you are so faithful to give us your Living Word when we feel so robbed and beaten up...help us to continue to choose joy over anger and sadness and have the right perspective. And, we know that you are in control and see everything.  So, again we pray that good will come from this circumstance, even though we may never see the end result ourselves, because we know that in all things, You work for the good of those who love You. Amen.  

After a rough weekend, we were thankful for a very joyful moment at Horses for Healing (www.horsesforhealingnwa.com) in Bentonville, Ark!

What a perfect week to get back on the saddle! 

And, the Lord gave Jack a horse named "Scooter"!
God Bless Horses for Healing!


Giving Back~ March

Since March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, we are giving back to Reaching for the Stars, a Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy.  

Here is some information from their website: www.reachingforthestars.org
{Launched in late 2005 by two mothers in Atlanta, Georgia, “Reaching for the Stars. A Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy”  (RFTS, Inc.) has grown into the largest North American pediatric Cerebral Palsy nonprofit foundation led by parents, with a focus on the Prevention, Treatment and Cure of Cerebral Palsy.  We are committed to serving the needs of children with Cerebral Palsy, their families, and the care givers involved in their care. You can read more about our story here in a feature on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website about Cerebral Palsy.
The RFTS mission is centered on the belief that leading-edge pediatric research, increased awareness and education will lead to new treatments of Cerebral Palsy, improving the lives of impacted children and their families. Research for CP, particularly in children, is under-supported and severely under-funded… slowing progress towards better understanding what causes Cerebral Palsy, how to best treat it and how to eventually cure it.}
Our family is so blessed by RFTS and all they do for children with CP...thanks so much to everyone for supporting their hard efforts!  
Be Blessed!


Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month so I thought it would be appropriate to share a few facts with you about CP.  And, to ask you to join us in spreading a little extra awareness and acceptance this month for those with Cerebral Palsy.  

Did you know?...

1.  Over 800,000 Americans, and over 17,000,000 million people worldwide are impacted by Cerebral Palsy, the most common motor disability in children.  Can you believe those numbers?  And, still, there is very little federal funding for research and awareness.  

2.  Cerebral palsy is incurable – Cerebral palsy is damage to the brain that cannot currently be cured. Treatment and therapy help manage effects on the body.

3. Cerebral palsy is non-progressive – The brain lesion is the result of a one-time brain injury and will not produce further degeneration of the brain.

4. There are wonderful organizations like Reaching for the Stars, a Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy, that need your help in spreading awareness for our kids.  You can start by checking out their website: www.reachingforthestars.org

5. Children with CP can absolutely take your breath away, just by being themselves?  And, teach you more about life than anyone else on earth ever has or ever will without speaking a single word?  

I did not know any of these facts three years ago...but, today I sit here and write these words to spread awareness, foster acceptance, educate, and unify.  All because God chose me to be "momma" to a sweet little guy named Jack Wesley.  I consider myself blessed and thank the Lord for giving me the chance to witness something so remarkable each and every single day... pure joy, no judgment, perseverance, and the ability to soften even the hardest hearts.  

Please join us in the fight for our kids with CP and Be Blessed!!

There is no stopping this guy!


What will you ROCK?

We want to know...what will you (or your child) ROCK in a 

Leave us a comment by Thursday, February 21st and you will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE tee!  

It looks like Will and Jack will ROCK their skills on the basketball court! I apologize for the squealing in advance.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, 
in order to bring praise to God.  
Romans 15:7


Giving Back ~February

Meet the McLaughlin Family...

Michael and Ryan Elizabeth McLaughlin are the proud parents of four children – Conner (9), Ellie Kate(7), Henry (4), and Lucy (1). Both Ellie Kate and Lucy were born with a terminal genetic disease called NKH. Sadly, Ellie Kate passed away from complications of the disorder on December 23, 2012.

Having two special-needs children has changed the McLaughlin Family for the better. Through their daughters, they have been given a heart for families of special-needs children and for families who have children who have passed away. When you have a sick or disabledchild, you can feel isolated and the world seems to shut you out. Mike and Ryan want to stop that pattern in the Community and want to open people’s eyes to the special needs world and to things people can do to help those who are hurting mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. With that in mind, they were led to start the Hope Link Foundation and Support Group in the Oklahoma City area, working to support families whose children suffer from rare, serious and undiagnosed disorders.

God has blessed the McLaughlins in so many ways. They feel honored to have been chosen to parent all four of their children, and consider their journeys with Ellie Kate and Lucy as a priceless gift. God loves ALL people and created ALL in His image and for His glory!


We are so incredibly blessed by this amazing family...they have encouraged us so very much.  Their heart for the Lord, each other, and those who have special needs is such a sweet gift to our family.  Thank you, Ryan and Michael for being you!  

Please visit www.hopelink.org to find out more about the Hope Link Foundation and www.carepages.com -"EllieKate", for updates on Lucy and Ellie Kate.

Common threads chooses a family, organization, or ministry to donate 10% of our profit from our t-shirt sales to every month.  If you know a family, organization, or ministry who share our mission, please contact us as we will be on the lookout for those we can serve. 


Special Needs Shout-Out! {Hannah}

My sweet Hannah Christine is fourteen and a half years old today!  She adores her eighteen year old brother, Tyler and wants to meet, date, and/or marry Justin Bieber!  

Tiffany:  Can you tell us about the day you found out that Hannah would have special needs?  What stands out the most to you about this day?  

Wendy: The phone rang at 2:30 on the afternoon of February 11, 1998.  My four year old son was on a play date at the neighbor's house and my husband was on a business trip.  The caller was my OB-GYN.  From her hushed tones, I knew that something was wrong.  In the next moment, the doctor shared the words that would change my life forever: "You are carrying a little girl, and I'm so sorry to tell you that she has Trisomy 21."  Then,  she stopped talking.  As a speech-language pathologist, I didn't need her to tell me that my precious, longed for daughter would be born with Down syndrome.  My heart broke in that moment.  Fear rushed in.  Thoughts that I would never see my daughter walk down the aisle, go to prom, have best friends, or learn swirled in my head.  Then, we began to talk.  I had agreed to undergo prenatal testing after miscarrying Hannah's twin early in my pregnancy.  The thought was not that there would ever be a choice to be made about having my baby, rather that we would be prepared if there was a medical issue to face.  In hindsight, however, I can honestly say that I never expected to receive that phone call.  What stands out the most about that conversation was that time seemed to stand still.  I remember the light pouring in the kitchen window.  I remember having to sit down because I couldn't breathe and I remember telling my doctor that I knew, deep in my heart, that God was sending her to the right place.  I was a therapist and already had a knowledge base about kids with disabilities, and I was familiar with the Oklahoma Soonerstart early intervention program.  I, at least, knew where to begin the journey.  

Tiffany:  How were you able to make it through the first few days/weeks/months/years after her diagnosis?  

Wendy: I spent the following week overwhelmed with emotion.  I grieved the many things I feared this little girl would face or go without in her lifetime.  After a week of darkness, I settled in and began researching Down syndrome.  I contacted the National Down Syndrome Society and asked to be connected with a parent mentor.  I started compiling a notebook of things to be aware of and things to expect.  And I prayed.  I prayed.  To this point in my life, I had been in church and studied and searched for God but never fully trusted Him to love and provide for me.  My marriage ended in the months before Hannah's birth and my anxiety and fears about being a single mom with two small children threatened to overwhelm me.  I remember hitting my knees one night sobbing in uncertainty.  In the midst of my tears, I heard His voice, "If you will just trust me, I will provide."  Those words pierced my heart.  In that moment, I truly accepted the gift of His love and something within me changed forever.  I was filled with a surreal peace during the remainder of my pregnancy.  The day Hannah was born was filled  with joy and we were standing on the promises of God.  The job is too hard; the shoes are too big for me.  He carries me and my little family on His shoulders.  I often am afraid that I'm not enough...then, I remember that He is!

Tiffany:  Tell us more about Hannah's personality and interests now.  Does she have a favorite activity, sport, etc. that she really enjoys?

Wendy:  Hannah is a lot like her momma and her brother!  We all tend to be quiet in large groups and the total opposite with just a few people.  Hannah is funny and witty.  She has an insight into God unlike anything I will ever experience!  She absolutely knows that she is "perfectly and wonderfully made" and that God has big plans for her life.  She loves to sing and dance.  She is a natural-born teacher and can often be found teaching a kindergarten class in her bedroom!

Tiffany:  Hannah attends private school and does extremely well; how has she been able to be so successful in school?

Wendy:  Hannah is in the seventh grade in a private school and does very well.  We started working on "going to school" as a young toddler.  I have always been a strong inclusion advocate and took a strong stance that Hannah should be raised and educated alongside her regular peers.  I set the same behavior expectations for her that I set for my son.  I expect her classroom teachers to hold her accountable as well.  Over the years I have utilized all of the therapy services offered by the local public school system and made sure Hannah had private services as well.  I have learned how Hannah learns, and I do my best to provide that support at home.  Each summer, we work on concepts that will be taught in each of her classes during the following school year.  We read the novels and do novel studies.  This pre-teaching gives her a basic knowledge base, and she has always attended better when she has some foreknowledge of a subject.  I placed a classroom aide in the general classroom to assist Hannah beginning in the fourth grade.  The intent was to enable Hannah to learn to her maximum potential while eliminating the possibility that her needs would place any extra demand on the classroom teachers.  She receives general classroom accommodations (pre-teach material, quiet room for tests, etc.) but no curricular modifications.  She learns the same material and does the same amount of work as her peers.  Her classroom aide serves as a scribe and provides any re-teach that Hannah needs.  Hannah has an incredible work ethic and loves to learn.  I am amazed every day by her abilities!  

Tiffany:  What is a piece of advice you might give another mom or dad who recently found out their child has special needs?

Wendy:  My advice to another parent who has recently learned that their child has special needs would be to understand that they know their child better than anyone else.  If they believe something needs to be done or something is wrong, don't take "no" for an answer.  Persevere!

Tiffany:  What hopes and prayers do you have for Hannah?  

Wendy:  My hopes and prayers for Hannah are that she will grow to be everything that God has designed her to be.  I pray that she will always know that she is a marvel, a miracle that God has brought and that He is using her to change lives.  I pray that she will experience love as an adult and have the opportunity to be married.  I pray that she will never fully understand that some people expect her to be lesser-abled because she looks different or has a diagnosis.  

Tiffany:  What is the biggest blessing you have received from having a child with special needs?  

Wendy:  The biggest blessing that I have received from having Hannah is Hannah!  I get to live life with this love-filled, ornery, funny, witty young woman!  She makes me see God every day!  

Tiffany:   Lastly, what is something you wish others knew about children with special needs?  

Wendy:  I wish that others really knew that children with special needs can rise to abilities many in the world don't think possible when they are given opportunity and support.  I wish the world knew and understood that moms and dads of kiddos with special needs are tender.  We are always praying that we are doing everything we can for our child while trying to live as normal lives as possible.  


Wendy, thank you for sharing your sweet family with us!  Your words are beautiful and encouraging... and so is your precious Hannah.  Don't you just love how much she enjoys life?  Hannah is a blessing to those around her and God is using her in a BIG way!  Be blessed!!

This is our first Special Needs Shout-Out at the blog and we are so excited to share these precious ones with you.  If you know of someone who might want to be featured in the future, please email us at: commonthreads15.7@gmail.com.  Thanks so much!  


Second Chances

Today is a special day.  It's my sister's birthday.  

My sister that I love.  

My sister that looks a lot like our dad, too. 

My sister that I got to have a fun lunch date with last week.

My sister that loves being an aunt to my boys.

My sister that is so full of grace.

My sister that loves the Lord and lives her life to bring Him glory.

And, My sister that I never knew, until now.

(For all the grammar snobs (myself included), I tried to substitute "who" for "that" and it just didn't have the same feel...agree?)

What a gift to have my sister in my life after so many years-someday I might feel led to go into more of our story, but for today, I am just forever grateful to the Lord for forgiveness, restoration, and second chances.  Only He could bring so much healing.  Only He could do what He did in our lives.  

So, today, I encourage you to think about a relationship in your life that might need to be reconciled or maybe you just need to ask for forgiveness...for "the things which are impossible with man are possible with God."  Luke 18:27

Happy birthday blessings, sweet sister!  


The boys love their auntie!

Dad and his daughters...what a special reunion we shared.  



As we walked through Target on Sunday after celebrating Will's birthday in Tulsa over the weekend, I noticed something.  Wait for it...this might surprise you (but probably not).  We are SO incredibly HURRIED.  "We" as in, my family and everyone else in the store yesterday.  Lately Jack has not wanted to be carried or pushed in any way, shape, or form.  So, he has been walking a lot in his K-Walker or by holding one of our hands.  Yesterday he was in his walker...and yesterday he was almost knocked over by a grown man, rushing through Target. And, although he didn't even acknowledge he almost took out a 3.5 year old with special needs, I couldn't be too upset with him.  Because, we, too were hurried and said countless times, "Let's go, Jack" and "Come on Jack, keep moving." Meanwhile, he is just enjoying life and "taking it all in".  He says "hi" to strangers and makes eye contact with every passing shopper and smiles at them as if they are long-lost bff's.  And, why is it that we are so concerned with others having to stop an extra 5-10 seconds so that he can get through a door that we are having to hold open because automatic doors are a luxury?  Sorry for that last rant, but seriously.  

I am challenging myself to do as Jack so often does and say hello to others, smile at strangers, and to be more available to "take it all in"...and lastly, not feel bad when my son's disability causes someone else to do the same.  

Be blessed this Monday!

"Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalm 46:10

I couldn't help but think of this Veggie tune..."Busy,Busy".

And, here's the birthday boy!


As Long As

How can three little words have so much significance?  It might sound something like this, "As long as my child is healthy, I will be okay." Or,  "As long as my son or daughter is healed, everything will be fine."  How about this one-"We would adopt, as long as we knew everything would be okay with the baby...I mean, what if something was wrong with it and it disrupted our lives?" And, one time I actually heard these words, "I don't really care it it's a boy or a girl... just as long as it's not retarded." That was a first for me...granted, I have heard "just as long as it's healthy" quite a lot (and even said it myself), but for some reason, these words grieved me so deeply.  Maybe it was just the fact that it was such an honest response.  

Currently there are ultrasounds that indicate whether or not you will have a boy or a girl.  And, you can have further testing to determine if the baby has a chance of having certain special needs like Down Syndrome, or Spina Bifida.  And, although most will say they just want to know "what they're looking at", statistically in these cases, the child will NOT live. The child will be killed because of a found disability before birth.  There is also new genetic testing being reported that allows parents to find out the complete DNA sequence of their child long before he/she is born into the world.  Some believe this is just the start to even more testing and preferences, such as, being able to identify if you will have a child who is "athletic", "smart", or "good looking".  It is only the beginning and it sounds very scary.  

It's like we want to question God's plan, or his ways and have things our way.   It might be hard to imagine having a child with special needs and it definitely is not what you would ever want for them...but we are not God and often we do not see the full picture as He does.  But, I can tell you that I get glimpses of why God has made Jack as he is...and in those moments, it all makes sense somehow.  All of the heartache, worry, fear, and sadness is gone and is replaced with hope, peace, purpose, and indescribable joy...a joy that I have never experienced before.  I am confident that when we surrender to the Lords plan and allow him to lead our lives, the blessings we receive are far greater than anything we could plan or do on our own.  

So, what do we do when "as long as" doesn't happen the way we wanted?  

What do we do when there isn't a surgery to be had, a pill to take, or a treatment to completely heal?  

What do we do when we find out our "healthy" and typical 9 month old has a life-long, incurable condition?  

What do we do when our teenager suddenly has MS and our lives are turned upside down?  

We turn to Jesus and call on him day and night...and we trust the Word which tells us that God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).  There is so much comfort in these words, right?  

Father, help me to be obedient to Your plan and be someone who says, "I know I will have suffering and go through difficult things in life, but as long as I am grounded in You, I will not be shaken."  

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Phil 4:13

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned", said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:3

Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.  Romans 5:3