I just got home from traveling to hear my nephew speak in church. He is embarking on an 18 month service mission for his church and was asked to speak before he begins. As I was about to listen to this 18 year old boy speak, I expected the depth of…well, an 18 year old boy; a little life experience, definite bravado, some joking with a touch of God-loving faith mixed in…he was about to dedicate a chunk of his life to serving God, after all.
What I got was something very different and very special.
He didn’t sound like an 18 year old. He sounded MUCH wiser. The reason behind this is because of what has happened in this boy’s life. At the age of 12 he was in a terrible bicycle accident which led to a compound fracture in his leg. Medical mistakes led to compartment syndrome which means that the tissue and muscle in his leg were cut off from blood supply and began to die. He nearly lost his leg during this ordeal. Twenty two surgeries and six years later he still has his leg, but is in constant pain each and every day. As he stood and spoke about service and love he spoke with wisdom far beyond his years. I commented to my brother that it’s sadly ironic that we do EVERYTHING within our power to avoid trials like this for ourselves and our children, even though going through these trials are the very thing that makes us more than we ever could have been otherwise.
With that in mind, this week’s episode is probably my favorite that we have aired so far! Our guest, Sherrine Hayward, is incredible in a way that you just can’t be if you have not walked through trials that shape you into something more refined and more wise than you ever could have been without them.
To introduce this amazing lady to you, I want to include an excerpt of a letter Sherrine sent to us describing herself and her son Dayton:
“I am the mother of six children. The oldest is Dayton, and you may recognize him from the Mormon Message, Dayton’s Legs.
I have five other children younger than him. My children range in ages from 21 to 4 years old. We have always included Dayton in life. Dayton is nonverbal and I care for all of his physical needs. But he communicates with eye blinks. And, we do everything together as a family. He hunts with his dad and runs with me. I race with him and he and I completed an IronMan with my friend. It was an incredible experience. SO hard and not something I ever thought I could do.
Now I am not anything special. Believe me. But I believe in full inclusion in every way. ALL people deserve to be given life. One of my best friends told me once that the only requirement a person needs to have to be fully included is to breathe. I believe this with all of my heart. I think many moms of kids with disabilities are afraid to reach out. They are afraid to include their kids in life. It is hard. But it is so beautiful and they wish for it. It is possible to include these children. Belief in them is all they need and that the world needs.”
I was so touched by Sherrine’s story and her interview is the perfect lead-in to Christmas.
If you want to feel love, encouragement, and wisdom then listen to this interview.
If you want to teach your kids how to love those with challenges, then listen to her wonderful advice.
If you want to know how to be kinder and more loving….more Christian, then listen to this interview.
The thing that stuck out most to me from Sherrine’s letter that I shared above, was the phrase “Now, I am not anything special.”
How often do we see ourselves as “not anything special” when we are, in fact, a ray of light in a world full of darkness? To all the moms out there who are “not anything special”, you are doing so much better than you think.
You have sacrificed to be a parent and that alone is a selfless, serious business.
Just because life is not easy and just because we are walking hard paths does not mean that we are doing it wrong. In fact, it probably means that we are doing it right and being stretched into something amazing. As Sherrine said “I would never wish a child with disabilities on my enemy, but I would wish it upon my friend. It is such a blessing!”
I want to thank Sherrine for sharing Dayton with us, and for reminding us that hard does not equal bad. Holland is beautiful!*
We covered many topics that can help YOU and YOUR FAMILY:
how it feels to have a child with disabilities
the benefits of inclusion for kids with disabilities
how to teach our kids to be loving and kind to those not like them
how to help the caregivers of kids with disabilities
Sherrine’s decision to have five more kids after Dayton
how humor helps with trials, and how trials shape our lives
Resources we shared in this interview:
*WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
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.
Dayton’s Facebook Page:
“Dayton’s Legs” Mormon Message https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwwxBjpvDVQ
MOM SQUAD CHALLENGE
When you see someone with a disability- or even if they look different- just smile at them and say “Hi”.