Read below for a guest post from Sheila Temple.
Today I am high above the cloud lines, aboard a jet, on my way to a much-needed sabbatical. My destination is China to see my oldest sons and daughter-in-law, during the holidays. In the distance I have jetted away from autism, bi-polar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and a critically challenged colon, just to name a few. Having adopted four children from China in 5 years, each son and daughter needs lots of one-on-one attention. My husband and a host of many friends and family members will care them for while I am away.
I have not made a trip to buy needed supplies for our children today, didn’t load an array of daily medications into the Sunday-Saturday containers, nor dole them out to the children twice a day. I have not done a load of laundry; in fact I left the dishes on the counter to enjoy this “rest.”
I usually have guilt when I have these kinds of getaways, but I realize that we (parents) were made for many things. With special needs children, we are called to servant hood and selflessness. Also, I remember that my other children need me at different times in their lives and I need a relationship with them. One thing we are not called to, in the realm of parenting, is martyrdom. Trying to spend time and energy on family when you have no more energy makes it essential to take a Sabbath. We have limits.
Every special needs parent I know needs rest. Emotional rest, spiritual rest, and physical rest are all vital to help us recharge and be more innovative. Rest makes us able to never give up on the ones that we love so dearly.
Many scriptures point to resting, taking a break, a time to feast on His word and listen to His plan. In fact Jesus, our example, had times of quiet and rest recorded several times in the readings of the New Testament.
The first thing I do to gain some rest is pare down our activities. We do not need to be going full throttle everyday, all day. Sometimes I just have to say to others that I already have a busy day, without adding something else. Unless it is urgent, I just say no. After all, parenting is our full time job. (Even though some of you have a paying job as well!)
Secondly, I arrange respite for at least a 6- to 8-hour window to regroup, refocus, sleep, or be challenged by the Word. It takes some work to find the people that can help with respite, but it is so worth it. You can always trade and help someone that has helped you the next time they are in need of “focus” time.
The third thing I do is strive to pray without ceasing. Whether I am praying for the one needing medical procedures on a certain day, or for another child having relationship challenges, or for people suffering in other countries for their faith, I pray. I lift them up to the Father, who reminds me daily that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I know I will have to return in 10 days to the jobs that are set out for me, but for today, I will soar above the clouds in more ways than one, relying on the One who goes before me, behind me, and beside me!
Sheila Temple is a retired public school teacher, wife, writer, and mother of six. Her favorite things to do are read, write, and spend time with family and travel. She is the author of two special needs books focusing on adoption of international children, Chinese Take Out: An Adoption Memoir (Tate, 2014) and Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption (Westbow, 2015).