My husband and I have 5 kids. Together we have 3 kids, plus one each from our previous marriages. But we count them all as our kids. Our oldest two were 8 years old when we met, and both lived with us. They are now in their late 20s and married with children. They both attended public school. We've homeschooled our 3 younger children.
My husband and I married in 1995 and shortly thereafter had our daughter Amber. When she was almost a year old, we got pregnant....with twins! A boy and a girl. Our twin daughter Samantha was born with Down syndrome. She also had some medical issues, including some heart conditions that required surgery at 10 months of age. Our twin son Noah had no medical complications. That first year was very difficult. We had two pre-teens, a 19-month-old and then twins (one with serious heart conditions). It was a trying year, to say the least. At the time we were part of a very large church and not connected. Our family, though they tried to help, were very busy with their own work schedules and families. My husband was an independent contractor/truck driver, and frequently on the road. So I was on my own a lot. As I think back to those years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was by God's grace and His grace alone that I made it each day.
I remember one special way that God revealed Himself to me. After my twins were born the doctor came into my room to tell me of Samantha's condition. I cried and prayed. I asked God if He could hear me. I told him I was afraid and I needed His help. I prayed for strength. I opened my Bible for comfort in the Psalms, but ended up in Isaiah where I found a direct answer to my prayer in Isaiah 41:10. I found a red pen in my drawer and marked it. At the time I wasn't very familiar with scripture, so had I not marked it with a red pen, I wouldn't have recognized it as the same verse when a couple of weeks later a lady from church called me to pray with me. She asked me to open my Bible to Isaiah 41:10! And there was the one scripture in my whole Bible that was marked in red ink! Over the years God has given me this verse several times. He helps me! By His grace alone.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Homeschooling my daughter with Down syndrome is like watching little grains of sand falling in an hourglass. The repetition and review that is necessary in teaching a child with Down syndrome can make progress seem slow. If we focus on the hourglass, time seems slow, progress seems slow. When we stop focusing on the hourglass, before we know it the grains of sand have all fallen through and it's full. Then we turn it over and start all over again. When I'm tempted to be discouraged, I turn my focus to God and His promises. I'm reminded that it is He who called us to homeschool, and it is He who equips us. So many times He has provided just the right curriculum, the right tutor, the right evaluator, the perfect timing, the finances needed. When I turn my focus from the grains of sand and instead focus on Him, I am amazed at the progress I see.
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