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Inspirational Readings

Welcome To Holland
Special Mother
The Cracked Water Pot
The Gardener of Children
Heaven's Very Special Child
A Father's Prayer

Welcome To Holland

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 guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, Michelangelo's 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 guidebooks. 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, 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 planned."

The pain of that will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning that fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

-Emily Pearl Kingsley

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Special Mother.

Most women became mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen? Somehow, I visualized God hovering over Earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew. Forest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Cecillia. Rutledge, Carrie, Twins. Patron Saint....... give her Gerard. He's used to profanity." Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child".

The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She is so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But does she have patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. I watched her today. She has a sense of self and independence that are so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make it live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied.

"She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says Mama for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.

"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see -- ignorance, cruelty, prejudice --- and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in midair.

God smiles. "A mirror will suffice."

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The Cracked Water Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. There is a lot of good out there. There is a lot of good in you! Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life! Or as I like to think of it--if it hadn't been for the crackpots in my life, it would have been pretty boring and not so interesting...

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The Gardener of Children

These seedlings came into this world different from the rest.
Their leaves and blooms not quite formed.
Then along came a Gardener, who saw past their flaws.
With gentle hands, he used his tools and knowledge
and took great care.
Tending to "these little ones" with nourishment and persistence.
Giving them a second chance to blossom and grow,
Enabling them to show their unique colors to the world.

These are the Many Faces
of the
Gardener's Children

Madison, Sadi, Shelby, Maisie, Alex, Terry, Nathan & Zachary

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Heaven's Very Special Child

A Meeting was held quite far from the earth.
"It's time again for another birth", said the angel to the Lord above.
"This special child will need much love.
His progress may be very slow,
accomplishments - he may not show.
And he'll require extra care from the folks he meets way down there.
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away.
In many ways he won't adapt,
and he'll be known as handicapped." said the Lord
"So, lets be careful where he's sent,
we want his life to be content," says the Angel.
"Please Lord, find the parents who will do a special job for you."
They will not realize right away
the leading role they're asked to play.
But with this child sent from above,
comes stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they'll know the privilege given,
in caring for this gift from Heaven.

Their precious charge, so meek and mild
is Heaven's Very Special Child.

by: Erma Bombeck

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A Father's Prayer

When... the times are low,
and shadows get longer,
the sun seems to sink beneath the sea,
the night approaches.. darkness.. all over...
The fears grip our hearts..
the silence increases...
the city is quiet..
no voices.. no sounds..
an occasional bird sounds at a distance..
and fades away.. into the horizon..
The night gets deeper.. and darker...
Silence... Extreme silence....
I raise my hands in prayer!
God.. give me light.
Far.. somewhere.. I hear a morning bird..
I see the dark sky..
And.. then..
a sudden streak of light..
appears.. from the horizon..
The morning awakes..

I remember..
When the night is darkest..
        The morning is just around the corner.

Written by: Ashish Sehgal
May 1999 - India

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