On this special Mother’s Day episode, I’ve asked Becky Davidson from Rising Above Ministries to join me as we talk about finding joy when our circumstances don’t meet our expectations. Becky is one of my favorite encouragers, and I’m excited to share her message with you today.
Becky is mom to Jon Alex, who is 22 and has epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy. She was married to Jeff for 26 years before passed away 3 years ago. Now as a widow and solo parent, she continues to run Rising Above to reach out to special-needs families.
- Rising Above
- Special Needs Moms Are My Heroes (by Jeff)
- Jeff’s book, Common Man, Extraordinary Call: Thriving as the Dad of a Child with Special Needs (affiliate link)
- A Mother’s Day Like No Other (by Sandra)
- By the Brook online retreat for female caregivers
Since this is a guest episode, I don’t have a full transcript, but here are some of the highlights!
“Expectations this year—we just have to throw them out the window. There’s no blueprint for what we’re experiencing.” -Sandra
“We really did it big on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. So that piece is gone. When you have a child with profound special needs, he can’t go out and do something on his own. That void—I was feeling it leading up to the weekend.” -Becky
“As special-needs mom, we have lots of practice at lowering our expectations and changing our expectations.” – Sandra
(Speaking of one the worst Mother’s Days I had experienced …) “Every picture was worse than the one before. I just cried! All I wanted was a picture with my boys and that shouldn’t be too much to ask on Mother’s Day. But it was too much to ask. It didn’t happen.” -Sandra
“As special-needs families, you plot and plan everything, and then when one little thing goes wrong, it’s the domino effect. When that one falls, they all go down.” -Becky
“Last year I got what I wanted—a great picture. But that’s a reminder of how different this year is. It’s not going to live up to that. I had to lower my expectations, be realistic.” -Sandra
“My very first Mother’s Day ever, Jeff got me a rose bush. We even moved it when we moved houses. It was the sweetest thing—it bloomed last weekend! I don’t take care of it, but it keeps blooming. I’m so thankful that I have that first gift from all those years ago. I will remember that, and remember what I do have to be thankful for this year.” -Becky
“I have so many people in my life to make sure I’m taken care of. But it does make me mindful of those moms who don’t. My heart goes out to them.” -Becky
“Everybody wants to be seen and needs to be seen.” -Becky
“If it’s not going according plan for me, it’s likely not going according to plan for someone else, so maybe I can spread a little joy there and make it a brighter day.” -Sandra
“If everyone would think of someone beyond themselves, just think what a happier place we would live in.” -Becky
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakuk 3:17&18
“I love that imagery of taking joy. Like we don’t have to sit back and wait for it. We can fight for it. And some days, like today, we do have to fight for it.” -Sandra
“If I get up in my head, and I think about my circumstances, especially now with all the news, if I fill my mind with that and I focus on my circumstances, I’m choosing not to take the joy. I’m choosing to be in that place of feeling unsettled, unhappy, and comparing my life to someone else’s.” -Becky
“Comparison is the thief of joy. We as special-needs families have the tendency to get stuck in that comparison trap—comparing my life to what someone else’s life on Facebook looks like. ‘Oh, I’m missing out. Well, look at everyone else and what they’re able to do. We’re not able to do this.’ My joy is caput because I’m focusing on what I don’t have. For me, I’ve had to put some hard boundaries on myself to help me stay in that place of joy because it’s so easy to get sidetracked.” – Becky
“When I am in that place of ‘woe is me,’ then I remember I’m not the only one dealing with this. There are people who have it way worse than I do. When I focus on what I do have, I’m naturally going to be filled with joy. But when I choose the comparison trap, and when I choose to not have a heart of thanks—boy, it’s not pretty.” -Becky
“Expectations are a huge stealer of joy. Comparison as you said, and then not feeling thankful. If I feel myself drifting toward sadness or disappointment, I can pinpoint it’s one of these things. Either an expectation didn’t get met, someone else got something I thought I deserved, or I’m just not looking around at the blessings I do have and being thankful for that.” -Sandra
“Comparison is such a temptation on Mother’s Day. It’s easy for us to get on social media and scroll through all those perfect-looking pictures of all those other families and think I’m the only one who’s not living the dream today.” -Sandra
“I will take social media fasts when it’s holiday time or people going on vacation when I know I don’t get to do those things. I will purposefully step back because I find myself in that comparison trap, and I know what that does to me. It starts with us and it trickles down to our families.” -Becky
“Conversations like this are also helpful, where the two of us say, ‘Today isn’t as awesome as it could have been or should have been,’ but there is still joy if we will take it, hold on to it, and share it with each other.” -Sandra
“I’ve learned through my times of grief that you have to acknowledge it. It’s ok to say, ‘You know what, I’m disappointed that this didn’t go the way I wanted it to go.’ You have to acknowledge that emotion. But once I acknowledge it, I can choose to move on. When you’ve done what you can to move on and still feel it, that’s when you can go to a friend and say, ‘Look, I’m stuck right here in this emotion of being disappointed and feeling this way.’ Talking it through with a trusted person, with a friends who’s not going to get in the pit with you, but help you talk it through and come to the other side.” -Becky
“Sometimes I have to borrow faith from my friends. I may be running low, I need your faith to buoy me through this hard time. Or I need your joy, I need whatever it is that’s lacking in me. We comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received. We can allow others to comfort us with comfort they have received. It’s a back and forth of lifting each other up.” -Sandra
“You have to be willing to be in community to do that. You have to be willing to say community is important … If I’m not building those relationships with people, then I’m not going to have those people I can go to. I’m not going to have that trusted friend I can go to to say, ‘I’m struggling. Can I borrow some of your joy today? Can you help me? I’m unsettled in my mind right now and I’m needing some peace, can you help me process that?’ We need each other! When you’re down, I’m going to be there to pull you up and vice versa, but we have to realize the importance of being in community with other people, even if we can’t do it in the traditional way right now.” -Becky
“It reminds me of the book of Ruth where they come back to Bethlehem and they come back to their community, and they come out and say ‘Oh, Namoi, we’re so happy to see you,’ and she says, ‘Don’t call me Namoi. Call me Mara. I am bitter.’ And we can be hard on her, but this is her community and she’s being honest with that community. As someone who struggles with that—I struggle with vulnerability, I struggle with sharing my needs—that is a huge encouragement. She is honest about how she’s feeling. This was her community when she lived there. And she can go back and say, ‘Man, things didn’t go like I thought they would go. I’m coming back with less than I left with, and I need you to come around me and support me.’ Community is vital, and it takes vulnerability on our part to build that community.” – Sandra
“Finding those trusted people takes time where you can be vulnerable and be willing to share the deep parts of your heart. We aren’t meant to do this life alone. And I can’t image not having my people who are there checking on me, seeing if we’re ok, if we have our needs met, if we’re good.” -Becky
“And if we don’t feel like we’re getting that today, it can start with us. We can be the ones to text someone else first and we can start that. If someone is listening today and thinks, Well, I don’t have that, well, you don’t have it yet. You can build that. It can start with us. Someone has to go first.” -Sandra
“There is a lot of potential, even on hard days, to find the joy and to spread that joy, to keep widening our circle.” -Sandra
End in prayer.
Becky shares about the upcoming free conference, By the Brook:
This retreat includes encouragement, inspiration, dynamic worship and powerful teaching—all while spending quality time with other moms who “get it.” You’ll experience amazing worship and have fun during special breakout sessions. You will leave refreshed, restored and renewed!
We are SO EXCITED for our retreat to be available for all moms and female caregivers for FREE! We see this as an opportunity to connect with women raising children with special needs all over the world. This year due to COVID-19 restrictions we have decided to move our By the Brook retreat totally ONLINE!