As parents of a special needs child, we have struggled over the years; however, we had no idea how much our hearts needed what Pathways could give until we attended the Core Training last year. We both thought we were going to Pathways for reasons unrelated to our roles as Kayden’s parents. Little did we know that Pathways would provide an amazing shift for our entire family…especially for our sweet Kayden. This is our story told in two parts. We each have a unique perspective on our role in Kayden’s life and how the training healed our hearts.
A dad’s perspective…
I remember the day Kayden was born. She was a beautiful baby with huge brown eyes, and I was so overcome with emotion and love that tears streamed down my face as I held my baby girl for the first time.
It all changed 11 months later when, in the middle of the night, I had to do CPR on my beautiful baby girl hoping and praying that God would give her back to us because she was gone. Over and over I cried her name as I pumped her chest and breathed my breath into her, begging her to wake up and breathe. Time stood still, and I have no clue how long it took, but finally after what felt like eternity...Kayden started breathing again. She was back, but our lives instantly and forever changed. The lack of oxygen had done damage to her brain, and we began a journey that we are still on today. This journey has taken us around the country from doctor to doctor and from therapist to therapist trying to help Kayden in every way that we can.
Both Lisa and I changed our career paths so we could do what we needed to do to help Kayden, but we put our emotional well-being into whether or not she was going to be okay. This is way too much pressure to put on a young child…let alone one with special needs!!
After my wife Lisa came back from the “Walk”, I saw incredible changes in her and realized that I needed do to this training as well. I stepped into that room not knowing what would come up for me. What I dealt with in that room was anger, bitterness, and resentment towards God for allowing this to happen to my beautiful baby girl. I had pushed all that down and tried to keep it buried. I had given up on life, was playing small, and resented the very people who loved and cared about me. I was irritable and cranky most of the time. I was angry at the way people looked at Kayden…I wanted to hide and protect her and keep her away from all the judgments that I saw in others. I had no idea how much pain and hurt I was carrying in my heart, but I was able to release all that pain, anger, resentment, and hurt during “the Walk” training of Pathways. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders and I could breathe again.
I do look at Kayden Joy so much differently these days. Kayden lives each and every day “in the moment” and finds joy and happiness in the little things of our lives…snow on the ground, a bug, a puppy, and a smile. She doesn’t judge others, but shows love to everyone she meets. She is an incredible example of how life should be lived. I truly understand now that I have live to each and every day to my fullest potential so I can be an example to Kayden. If I don’t reach for my goals and my dreams then why would I expect her to be the best she can be? I want to be a Daddy that Kayden can be proud of...knowing that I have done the absolute best that I could do.
Kayden Joy is an amazing gift to us as well as to the world, but to be honest with you, I didn’t truly understand that until after going through Pathways. We are blessed to be her parents and we know that God has incredible plans for her life!
It has been placed on our hearts to start a scholarship fund to help other parents with special needs kids go through Pathways because we know the pain, the heartache, and even the financial difficulties that occur while raising these beautiful children. The scholarship will be called the KAYDEN JOY scholarship. Lisa and I owe a lot to Pathways, and we understand that we must share this training with others so lives can be helped and these special children can have parents that are truly healthy. If you have been blessed then please bless other families by donating to this scholarship fund. GodBless…...
A mom’s perspective…
I came into this training with my heart broken wide open. There were things in my distant past that I had to face and overcome, but being the mom of a special needs child was what was really eating my lunch on a daily basis. I didn’t have a clue about how broken my heart was until I stepped “into the room” last June.
Our eight year old daughter, Kayden, is the light of our lives. She has a smile that will knock your socks off, and we believe that she has a mission of hope and healing to spread in this world. That’s what I see today, but before Pathways, this is what my life looked like: How do you cope when you’ve endured so much heartbreak because of your child’s struggles that you don’t want to get up in the morning? How do you express how angry you are at God for allowing this disability to come to your child? How do you live with the guilt when you are blaming yourself for your child’s “brokenness”? And what do you do when you are asking yourself on a daily basis why God thought you were strong enough to handle this…because clearly you are not?
Behind all these questions was a feeling that I was not worthy to be Kayden’s mom. I knew in my heart of hearts what a gift she is, but I didn’t believe that I had what I needed to be a good mom to her. By the time I completed the Walk last June, my viewpoint completely changed. I claimed something for myself that is vital to my relationship with Kayden. I did the hard work that brought me to acceptance. I truly accept where we are today. I accept that Kayden is perfect in God’s eyes and that she understands more about life than most people I meet in a day. I accept that I have everything I need to be an amazing mom to her. I accept that there is a story unfolding around us that’s bigger than Kayden, Jeff, and me. I accept that we are part of an overall plan to make the world a better place. But more than anything…I accept this gift of Kayden Joy. Just as she is…no conditions.
When you have a special situation in your life like we do, people will often say things like, “God gave you this because he knew you could handle it.” I used to respond, “Well, let me tell you something. If there’s a list in heaven of people who can handle special needs children, I want God to heal Kayden and take me off the list.” I felt so much anger and resentment when people said things like that to me! Now contrast that response to this: I had a really hard day a couple of months ago because of something that happened with Kayden, and I called a dear friend to tell her about it. I was crying as I recounted the story. When I finished telling what happened, I said to my friend, “You know what, I don’t want off the list anymore.
As hard as this day was, I don’t want off the list.” There was total silence on the other end of the phone. My friend couldn’t speak because of the tears. She had heard me say I wanted off the list for so long, and this turn-around in my heart was an incredible and joyful thing to us both. I knew in that moment that I had claimed something so significant for myself and our family that our lives were literally changed forever.
This is just the beginning of the story for our family. We are moving on from here with hope, joy, and peace. And we see that hope, joy, and peace written all over the faces of Kayden and her little sister, Alexa. Children truly are barometers of their parents’ emotional state. When we were depressed, resentful, and angry, so were our children. Kayden revels in the unconditional love and acceptance we feel for her today. She was angry with us before Pathways, and we were struggling with serious behavior issues with her. Today Kayden’s natural gifts of joy and love shine on her beautiful face, and she’s going about her ministry of hope and healing. Those are the gifts she brings to the world…gifts that she can now freely express.
So here’s what I want to say to parents of special needs kids…you need this training. These special kiddos need strong moms and dads to take care of them, but we can’t do our best if we don’t take care of ourselves. You deserve a full, happy life, and so does the special child who relies on you. You can’t do it alone. Get the help you need and deserve. From my heart to yours…
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