There are a lot of parenting books in the world—both faith-based and not. However, there are very few Christian books for parents of children with special needs. My primary goal in writing “Eat, Sleep, Save the World” was to offer encouragement to families who feel exhausted, overwhelmed and discouraged. These parents don’t need another how-to book. They need to feel supported. I used my own experience as a mother to my son, Charlie, who has cerebral palsy, as well as Scripture that has spoken to my heart, to hopefully reach the hearts of other parents like me.
I had so much fun with the structure of this book! There are six parts:
Within each part I share anecdotes from my own life interwoven with stories from the Bible to highlight the traits God as already given us as parents to our special kids. The “already given” is the biggie here because I didn’t want this book to be about buckling down and trying to be more patient or hopeful or thankful. Instead, I wanted it to point to the places in our lives where God has given us the supernatural ability to be so through no effort of our own, but his.
Each chapter also opens with a tie-in to my favorite superheroes who have shown such traits. It’s a cliche and somewhat misleading to call a kid with special needs or their parent a superhero, because honestly, we’re just living our lives. However, there are characteristics that we have in common with such heroes that God has given us that I believe we should celebrate.
Charlie is 7 and attends first grade at our neighborhood school. I’m starting with that because there were times when he was a baby and had a tracheotomy to breathe and a g-tube to eat and suffered from seizures, that we weren’t sure he would make it. The fact that he is now a healthy 7-year-old boy who rides the bus in his wheelchair to school amazes me every day.
Charlie was born 10 weeks premature with a rare syndrome called Beckwith-Weidemann Syndrome, and he was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He is a joyful kid. Despite being mostly nonverbal, he knows exactly what he wants, always, and will let you know!
He loves music and doing math on his communication device and watching his 5-year-old twin brother and sister play soccer. I think our lives look wonderfully ordinary: school, homework, sports (Charlie does therapeutic horseback riding), dinner and then discussions about sharing and breaking up fights during the chaotic bedtime hours. I love it all.
There are very real physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges that go into parenting a child with different needs. The emotional and spiritual tolls can be the hardest to overcome because parenting never stops. We all get worn down, and some challenges we face won’t get fixed until heaven.
I hope this book puts those long days in perspective. I hope it reminds other parents like me that we can do this, are doing it every day and doing it better than we think we are. We are often so hard on ourselves because there is always something more to be done or done better. But God wants us to know that he ultimately has control and he wants us to find joy in the small successes and to remember to lean on him.
I share our own experiences with finances, bullying, guilt, health crises, navigating the education system and everything in between, so that God can use my life and the life of my child to help another parent who might be experiencing the same thing. There is power in the knowledge that we are not alone.
When I was in the thick of it with Charlie in his most medically fragile years, I didn’t need another list of things to do. I needed a hug and the support of those who understood and had walked the road I was now walking. That’s what I hope this book will do.
I hope readers walk away with a sense of peace and purpose and camaraderie founded in biblical truth. God does not want us to live and parent alone, and there is joy in each and every one of our parenting journeys.