Archive for the ‘Parenting Kids w/ Special Needs’ Category

The Gift of Pain

August 23rd, 2013 by Jill


It sounds crazy.  Who would look at pain as a gift.  Who would want it.  Who would be grateful for it.

Pain hurts.

Our hearts, our emotions, our memories, our thoughts, our body, our loved ones.

Pain hurts.

and that is GOOD, very, very GOOD.


October of 2007 –We have a child that doesn’t feel pain.  Half of her body is numb from nerve damage of Spina Bifida.  She can’t feel her legs.  As a result she can’t move her muscles.  Because nerves that feel, tell your muscles- hey move!

When we first moved into our old house in CT there was radiant heaters on the base board areas of the rooms.  One day Jamie was playing with pretend food sitting right next to one.  Other kids did it. THey loved to warm their toes on the baseboards.  Sooner or later you move your foot.  It gets hot.  Jamie didn’t.  Time passed.  Kids played happily.  The house was new to us so we didn’t know yet where a problem lie waiting.  She crawled away to another area of the room and I saw her back.  Her shirt bloody and oozing.  I lifted up her shirt to find a massive burn.  She didn’t feel it.  Not one bit.  Later as she was healing up she would complain about an “Itchy pain” in her shoulder. But the burn was down way low near her waist.  We found out that pain was shooting up her nerves in her back!!!

January of 2011- On the day of her birth our dear Jocelyn died.  We were blindsided by this mack truck of pain & sorrow.  We dug deep searching for reason and purpose in what seemed like a huge hole in our hearts.  By God’s grace we found that reason and purpose.  We saw a greater value and worth in her short little life than we could have ever imagined.  We saw the impact she had on healing so many peoples hearts that were wounded from loss in the past.  But that initial mack truck of pain was beautifully hard and retchedly awesome.  WHY?  Because it was sooo BIG and SOOO PAINFUL that we HAD to face it.  We HAD dig it out.  We HAD to beg God to open our eyes to understanding greater than our humanity could see.  If it didn’t hurt, if the pain had been minor, we, in time, would have “moved on”.  OH HOW GRATEFUL I AM THAT WE NEVER “MOVED ON” AND THAT WE HAD DEEP, DEEP PAIN!!!! Because we clung together with our children, we grew closer to them, we sought the Lord more than ever, we shared to Truths of Scripture with confidence and no shame or worry of appropriateness. And we will NEVER NEVER NEVER forget.  She is a permanent part of our hearts and minds not just because she is our daughter (of course that is true) but because the pain was SOOO immense we will never forget. We can’t.

July of 2013- In the daily routines of parenting, we catch a glimpse, and it stops us in our tracts.  Jamie looked at us with only one eye while the other stared into the distance.  We knew right away.  Shunt failure.  Sean swooped her up and took her to children’s hospital ER.  At first, they didn’t think it was shunt failure.  We insisted. They pushed back.  No it’s not.  Shunt failure is sooooooo painful.  The migraines alone or so intense that it causes one to vomit.  And look at her- she’s happy as a clam.  And she was.  Now, we had had some behavior issues.  But that’s it.  24 hours later she ended up in surgery with nuero getting a new shunt on her brain.

Nothing. Nothing at all.  Came home with NO pain meds. NO PAIN MEDS!!! after they had literally just drilled a new hole in her skull, placed a shunt in and had two very large sets of stitches on her head (with some of her hair shaved off). NOTHING.  She wakes up the next day.  I look at my daughter all stitched up on her brain, missing hair, and I shake my head in amazement of God’s timing and causing us to see her eye problem quickly. I am “wowed” by God causing us to look at her in a such a way that we “happened” to catch her eye not moving.  Had she gone to sleep that night she may not have woken up. God is AMAZING.  We do not believe in coincidence. It is not of our own accord by any stretch of the imagination.  God’s timing was impeccable.  I shake my head again as I look at her and say good morning. She says “mom, my head is kinda itchy”.  I couldn’t help it.  I laughed out loud.  I picked her up and showed her her head in the mirror and said “yes honey, thats where they cut into your head for your new shunt. It’ll probably be itchy for a while as it heals”  “oh, ok” she says and “MOVES ON”.  She did what I am glad that I can NOT do so easily- she MOVED ON.  She had NO pain. So, she didn’t care.  It didn’t matter.


I could list a 1000 more examples God has given us through our children with special needs.  From jumping out of trees and belly flopping on hard ground only to brush off the grass and MOVE ON, to ripping braces off your teeth with your bare hands because they were annoying, or ripping all your toenails off (yes and the flesh too) while in bed one night because they were “too long”, or maybe something even more hair raising than toenails- like twisting out 3 teeth in one night (with your bare hands) that we NOT EVEN AT ALL loose so that you could have teeth come out like a sibling did!!!

and so on…….

next time somethings hurts

next time something wrenches your gut in pain and sorrow

next time pain blindsides you

next time pain slowly etches away at your mind, emotions, and memories……

it may take you time, but don’t “MOVE ON” and be “tough”

there’s no great godly glory in “toughness”


dig deep, keep your eyes open even when you want to look away

beg the Lord for wisdom and discernment, for perspective to see what God sees and not what you see

you WILL NOT be diminishing the event of pain, nor will you “MOVE ON” quickly


you will heal and find you have within yourself a great capacity to care

(and less and less of an ability to “move on”)

And THAT is a VERY good gift that pain will give you.




Good Clean Fun

April 21st, 2013 by Jill


The Color Run is a short 5k run/ fund raiser that travels from city to city.  It’s an absolute BLAST!!!! They douce powdered color on you throughout the run.  It’s really more of a walk than a run- surely a family and friends type event. So Jill’s sister, nephew and friend came into town to join all of us Martins at the Dallas Color Run.  If you are curious you can check out their website at

So we set out for a good time, family bonding, opportunity to encourage and be silly as a family!!! We started clean, all white, but with each turn in the run came another color station.  The stations have color dust everywhere, as well as workers showering you with color at every moment!  We took the opportunity at a few stations to make a few “snow angels” in the dust.  Hey why not?  We HIGHLY recommend this event to every family.  It may be in a city near you soon.

The pictures tell the story best….

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color run


12 Baskets Full

April 19th, 2013 by Jill


Sometimes God has a special gift for us.  Waiting.  We don’t even know it’s there.  Then one day, when we least expect it.  We are asking God for our daily bread, and He gives us more than we can ask or imagine.  A little bit like the fish and loaves story in scripture.


At the beginning of March we brought a special therapist to our home, Nancy Thomas.  She came here for 5 full days, 6:00 am until 10:00 pm, WOW long days!!! Nancy Thomas specializes in helping children with attachment issues and conscious development.  So most of her work is with adoptive children from challenging pasts.  Even though our children were adopted at young ages, many of our children still struggled with things.  We’ve spent their entire lives helping shape their character, bond as a family, and work hard to be overcomers in all areas of life.  No matter how much we prayed, worked, encouraged, taught, disciplined, encouraged more, taught more, etc there still seemed to be a piece of the puzzle missing. So we brought Nancy to our home to help us identify the missing pieces, see what we needed to do differently or keep the same, and most importantly- how could we help ALL of our children become God’s best in each of their lives.

Well it was a tall order in this unique house, but not for Nancy!  She has spent years rehabilitating children from extremely abusive pasts.  Helping them overcome horrific things such as childhood molestation, neglect, trauma, and more.  She helped us see that even though our kids came to us young, their long lists of infant surgeries, PICU life, foster care, and drug exposure added up to a lot.

We had spent years parenting the “fetal alcohol” and “disability” side of our kids.  She helped us turn our eyes to the heart of the matter…. attachment.  It is something that we take for granted as we parent our kids, snuggling them, kissing them, telling them stories.  But when kids spend countless days in hospitals, 9 months in the womb cringing from burning alcohol and drugs, and more— it causes ones brain to develop different.  The part of the brain that we use in bonding with others (the cause and effect part of the frontal lobe and temporal lobes) is atrophied. Brain scans show those parts of the brain look like swiss cheese.  So even though we loved on our kiddos day and night, it wasn’t enough. Even though we teach them character, it’s not enough.  There are parts of their brains that “need an extra workout” to help them attach appropriately to people and in turn, care about themselves and others. Learning how to love, really love, not just enjoy others.

Here’s how it usually works:

1) RESPECT (wow- my parents are all powerful and they meet my needs when I cry)

2) TRUST (wow- they keep meeting my needs, now I know if I cry they will help me)

3) LOVE (I bond to my parents BECAUSE I first respected then trusted them.  That bond is love)

4) CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE AND THINGS (I care about things because I am cared for)

You see this developmental cycle doesn’t develop correctly in lots of adoptive children as well as children with disabilities.  We try so hard to fill them with #3, that #4 doesn’t happen. They learn to enjoy things and learn to manipulate others.  They learn how to reflect character qualities that we teach them to get what they want.  But there’s something missing.  So we start at square one.  Even though some of our kids are 10 years old, they need to start from the beginning. RESPECT 1st above all in every little thing.  Love is 3rd.  I’m sure part of you is thinking- that’s a bit extreme- shouldn’t it be a balance? OK OK it’s not that we are not loving them- of course we are still loving them!! Remember first that their brains are already out of balance- so we need to rebuild the brain and the heart.  Just imagine if you broke your leg.  When you got the cast off you would have to work extra hard to rebuild it.  It’s not that you are neglecting the rest of your body.  You are focusing hard and deep on your leg SO THAT your WHOLE body can work together BALANCED in a healthy way.  … and THAT is what are now purposing to do.  Rebuild our children’s hearts and brains in a HEALTHY way.  The end goal- that they can truly be TRANSFORMED by the Word of God in all areas of their lives, not just mimic the Word of God.

So this Daily Bread turned into overflowing baskets of fish and loaves.  More than we could ask or imagine.  It’s a lot of work when God gives you more than you can imagine. A lot of work.  But sometimes that is part of the deal.  Surely when all those people got tons of fish and loaves on the hillside there with Jesus, they had to pass it out, clean it up, and cook it before they could enjoy it.  Part of the deal.  So right now we feel like we are holding 12 baskets full.  Full of more than we could imagine.  Everyday we ask for grace and wisdom to parent God’s children well.  God, in His sovereignty, knew that some of our kids would have these obstacles in their past, and He knew this day, Today, would come too.

We share this with you so you can SEE God at work in the lives of children with broken pasts.  So that you will SEE that God can do more than man can imagine.  Sometimes, people are afraid to adopt.  They hear stories or hard times and struggles with kids.  Yes that is true sometimes.  But NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING is impossible for God!!!! Adopting an older kid with a broken past-  HA! God says- HA!  I’ve totally got that covered! Stop fearing and start believing— It’s the same with our relationship with God…

1) Respect

2) Trust

3) Love

4) Care- that transformational work in and through us.


One last food for thought…. over 400,00 children are in Foster Case in the United States alone.  Over 53,000 are already legally freed for adoption and just waiting for homes.



53,000 !!!


Mission Minded Kids- part III

April 13th, 2012 by Jill


While we have many missionaries back home from around the world, we know the importance of teaching our children to stand firm in their faith right here in America.  Important lessons in life don’t always come from a text book, and they can be a lot of fun too.  With a little CREATIVITY and FUN you can teach your children vital truths for their future.

Recently we have had different families over for dinner on a few different nights.  Sean taught the kids a lesson on standing firm in your faith and what the shield of faith is all about.  He passed out shields to each kid, made of foam board and rope handles, and passed out soft foam balls to all the kids. It’s a simple game that ALL KIDS can play, no teams, no big rules or strategies, no big concepts to understand– just guard yourself with your shield and throw the ball at others when able. :)



The pictures below are from different nights and different families, but the lesson was the same.  (Note: in one picture Sean is under “attack” from ALL the kids!!! THAT was hilarious!!! Thank you little Joshua for helping protect him with your shield!!)

Backyard Maple Sugaring !!! part I

February 23rd, 2012 by The Martin Family


We are blessed to share a beautiful property with our church since our church provided housing for pastoral staff.  In gratitude for the wonderful things that God puts in our lives, sometimes right in our own backyard, we share these pictures :) With a little creativity, resourcefulness, diligence, and family team work, we are going to have a bountiful harvest from 7 very large maple trees.  The first 24 hours we collected 7 gallons of sap!  Knowing that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup, we will harvest each day in high hopes to obtain 2 gallons of sweet maple syrup in the end!  LONG LIVE PANCAKES!!!

An activity that the WHOLE family can participate in.  Everyone got to drip a tap or two, hammer in the taps, and connect the tubes to the bucket.

 Jamie LOVED the power of the drill!! She was amazed to see the sap drip out right away.  Little Joanna wanted to help with everything (note the tongue sticking out for concentration :) )


Joel liked the drill and really wasn’t interested in the sap– power tools!!  Sarah INSISTED on pulling the cart with all the supplies.


Sophie was the hole inspector, she has a good eye for detail.  Jacob drilled holes once all the little ones had “moved on” to running in the grass :)

Our Sugaring Team!!!


Josiah found a lower jaw bone of a deer.  With a lot of Coyotes on the property, skull bones are found often.  Last month, while on a walk with Nauna & Nat, Josiah found a raccoon skull.




A roasting oven/crock (18 qt)– a busy mom’s way to cook down sap into maple syrup :) Works like a charm- holds a lot, cooks slow, no burning issues, no need to hover. Perfect.


 Look at that glassy surface…… a vision of goodness :)

Tune in soon for the end result :)

To Him Who Overcomes…

January 25th, 2012 by Sean


We are overcomers!  The book of Revelation tells us that to him who overcomes there are incredible rewards waiting.  We resonate with this idea, not just in the church, but in our culture.  We love a story of an overcomer, and I have a great story of one for you.

A few weeks ago two of my boys were asking for something.  They really wanted this thing and mentioned it a couple of times.  I said to them, and included Sophie, that I would get it for them if they memorized the book of Titus.  Sophie, being so quick witted, said she didn’t want that thing so she wasn’t going to memorize Titus.  I made a different offer to her, and she said she still wouldn’t do it.  She was intimidated by the task.

Sophie has dyslexia.  It is a challenge for her to read, so memorizing that much is a huge challenge.  Jill and I encouraged her, told her she could use her Kindle, which reads to her.  WeSophie Titus 001 told her that we would help her and give her some tips on memorizing.  She began to get excited.  She began to believe  that she could do it.  She was on her way.  She also refused to use her Kindle because no one else was using one.

Today Sophie completed the task!  She not only memorized the book of Titus, but she also beat everyone, including me.  Sophie is beaming, knowing she overcame a huge obstacle to accomplish this task.  She is ready to move on to the next book.  An appetite has been Sophie Titus 002 created, and we intend to feed it!

I tell you this story not to brag about my daughter, but to encourage everyone in two things.  First, if you are looking at a seemingly insurmountable task, push on.  Sophie gave up before she even started this task.  After a little encouragement and the promise of a little help, she gave it a shot.  She found some success early and discovered that she was capable of doing something she was sure that she could not.  But she overcame!

Second, I tell you this story so that you too can be encouraged to memorize God’s word.  We don’t do this just for the sake of memorization, we do it to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2)  and so that we hide God’s word in our hear that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).  I hear people all the time tell me that they can’t memorize.  People tell me that their mind just can’t do what it used to do.  I say those are excuses and you are to be an overcomer!