I’m delighted to welcome Gillian Marchenko as a guest blogger today!
Whether your life has been touched by a child with special needs or whether you’re simply struggling to accept the gift of brokenness God has given you, you will be blessed and moved by Gillian’s memoir.
Enter to win a copy of Sun Shine Down, the story of Gillian’s daughter Polly, by doing any of the following, then leaving a comment to let me know what you did:
- Like Gillian’s facebook page.
- Subscribe to Gillian’s blog.
- Like my facebook page.
- Subscribe to my blog (click “follow” to the right).
- Leave a word of encouragement for Gillian below.
- (Less conventional, more helpful) Stop for a second and pray for Gillian and her family as she has three speaking engagements this week, including the National MOPS convention this weekend.
The winner’s name will be randomly drawn and announced tomorrow morning.
Now join me as Gillian remembers the importance of brokenness in her life…
It’s supposed to rain later today.
My left arm aches.
I broke it in two places, two different times in my childhood, and now sometimes when the weather changes it aches, either up near my shoulder or in my wrist; the places it broke.
The aches remind me of those times; the agony and pain, the fear of being in an emergency room as a child, spending the night for the first time in a hospital, getting attention from classmates and extended family, people signing my cast, ‘Get well soon!’. Me trying to itch the inside of my cast with a hanger, not being able to swim for half of a summer because I couldn’t get my arm wet. Being a bit doped up on the medication to ease the hurt.
My broken arm became my whole world. How could it not be when the pain was great, instant, and overwhelming?
At the time there was no way of knowing that the pain wasn’t going to be my new normal.
For all I knew I could be in that kind of fear and pain for the rest of my life.
I went to the hospital and got help. The excruciating pain eventually turned into a dull ache and then only, a flimsy itch.
Life went back to normal. I was found splashing around in the kiddie pool within eight weeks.
But a dull ache returns now and then.
And I am reminded that at times in my life, I’ve been broken.
Recently I went to four parent-teacher conferences for my kids in two different schools.
I was prepared to discuss each kid, I thought. But when I sat down with Polly’s teacher (who has Down syndrome and stars in my recently published memoir, Sun Shine Down), I was surprised to read that she hadn’t met her goals. After a whole year at school Polly still couldn’t figure out classroom procedures. She struggled with transitions every day.
Polly was cute and everyone loved her, but basically she was still just walking around making messes in class.
And the dull ache, the fact that I had a child with a disability started up again.
Polly’s birth shattered me. I teamed up with Jesus and my husband Sergei to put myself back together, but much like that pesky jigsaw puzzle you’ve almost completed, a few pieces were lost in the mix, and now I walk around with empty spaces.
Most of the time the spaces are used for good.
I have more compassion for others.
I understand grace better.
I relate to others through my brokenness.
And sometimes it feels right.
But there are other times when it still breaks my heart that Polly is behind her peers.
I am OK with Down syndrome.
But there will always be days in my life where the rain will come.
And because I’ve been broken, I will ache sometimes.
It doesn’t mean I love my kids less or that I wish my life was different.
It just aches.
And that’s OK, I think.
Gillian Marchenko is an author and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei and four daughters. Her book, Sun Shine Down, a memoir, published with T. S. Poetry Press in the fall of 2013. She writes and speaks about parenting kids with Down syndrome, faith, depression, imperfection, and adoption. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago Parent, Thriving Family, Gifted for Leadership, Literary Mama, Today’s Christian Woman, MomSense Magazine, Charlottesville Family, EFCA Today, and the Tri-City Record. Gillian says the world is full of people who seem to have it all together. She speaks for the rest of us.