Months ago I read a post by Andrea that really resonated with me. She posted a video clip about The Horse Boy – the story of a father who traveled all the way to Mongolia so that his son with autism could ride horses and visit a shaman. While we cannot all hop on a plane to Mongolia, the story highlights the lengths we as parents are willing to go to help our children.

It made me think of my husband, Brandon. He leaves in four days for training in Georgia and then on to Iraq for a year. He goes because he loves this country and is committed to serving her. He believes in the cost for freedom, and he’s not afraid of sacrifice.

But he leaves for one other reason: girls


Three years ago, the Army sent us to Boston. It turned out to be, in our opinion, the best place we could be in terms of services and medical care for Rhema. She attends an excellent school for children with special needs – a school that currently has a five-year waiting list. She has been blessed with some of the best teachers eva at her after-school therapy center. The skill of her doctors at Children’s Hospital is unmatched; they are persistent and cutting edge.

Last year, the Army came a-calling and said, “Sorry kids, it’s time to go.” (I’m oversimplifying this for the sake of brevity). We knew that we would have to move, and that Brandon would deploy. The Army has something called the Stability Transition Team – it’s a job that involves operating with a small military team “outside the wire” to train and counsel Iraqi police/border patrol. It’s a dangerous and unpopular job – so much so that incentives are offered to deploying soldiers who will do this mission.

One incentive is getting to choose where you live.

You guessed it. Brandon agreed to take the job in exchange for our family getting to stay in the Boston area a little longer. He was getting deployed no matter what, but by taking on this mission, he essentially gave us 15 more months for Rhema to benefit from some of the best schooling, services and medical care in the country.

There are two reasons I’m sharing this information in blogland.

1) By chance a teacher, therapist, respite giver, or aide of a special needs child may come across this post. I want you to know how grateful we are for you, how much we depend on you, how much your work and care impacts our entire family. I want you to know that we will go to great lengths just so our children can learn, thrive, be who they are, and enjoy life to the fullest. Thank you, thank you for your life-changing work.

2) There’s a parallel to this whole concept of sacrifice that just blows my mind. We, as parents, are willing to put ourselves in harm’s way so that our children can live their best lives.

Andrea writes, “Is there a more powerful example than the cross? For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life. The Easter message is one of sacrificial love. Jesus, who is love, was motivated to go where no man has gone–literally to hell and back–to save you and me…

When we do anything resembling that, whether by affording some outrageous therapy, homeshooling ’til we don’t recognize ourself in the mirror, or driving illogical distances to a qualified therapist, we are following Christ, sharing in his suffering, and becoming more like Him. Go ahead and spill yourself out for someone you love; you’re in good company even if the world doesn’t understand.”

God will go to any length (even death) – just to reach us, to save us, to demonstrate His love for us. The next time you feel unloved or disesteemed, consider this.

24 thoughts on “Lengths

  1. Praying for you all while Brandon is gone. I hope you are able to enjoy your last four days together until he leaves. I’m sure they are stressful ones.

    What a great reminder of God’s love for us. As always – thanks for a great post!

  2. ‘Go ahead and spill yourself out for someone you love’



    you never cease to amaze me. if i did not know you, i would not believe that anyone was worthy of jeneil. (sorry, i know that’s blunt, but we tell the truth round these parts.)

    sir, you are a perfect match for an incredible woman.

    stay safe. you are in our hearts and our prayers.

  3. Wonderful post. How powerful that you, as his wife, are able to recognize his sacrifice for your family. That will make this whole deployment so much more peaceful for you all.

    Praying that God will use these next few days to draw you even closer together as a family and that He will be giving you each peace and joy in the midst.

  4. I love that line, too…
    “Go ahead and spill yourself out for someone you love”

    I will hold you all in my prayers these next months.

    thank you for this post, thank you for your sacrifice, and may you be held close in the arms of God.

  5. I have followed your blog for a long time now and feel compelled to comment after reading this post. My husband serves in the Marine Corps and I am a special education teacher. Given my background knowledge, I can say your family ROCKS! Thank you for sharing your perspective on parenting. Getting to see a behind the scenes look through blogs like yours and Jess Wilson have made me a better teacher. Parents, like you, inspire me to not just do my job, but to love my job. When I see all that you guys do to fight for your children, I feel honored to be a part of that team.

    Enjoy the next few days with your husband and keep writing!


  6. We are all saluting over here. Nigel, especially, has always felt a reverence for soldiers. He loves when we’re in an airport and he sees a soldier. He goes up to the whole family and says, “Excuse me. I just want to say ‘Thank you for serving.'” And it means the world to him to be able to say that. So Brandon, from our family: Thank you for serving. God bless you.

  7. Came over from Barbara’s site and wow,am I ever glad I did.I will be back to read up on your beautiful family but for now I wanted to thank you for all the amazing reminders you put out there in this post and to send your family all my prayers of peace and strength as you begin your new normal.And to your husband … Godspeed and eternal gratitude.

  8. Neally,

    As I look back over the past 3 yrs. I too am so thankful for what God has done for our family. I thank God for the three years that we had together in MA. I am so glad that God blessed Rhema with such an amazing school. I will be praying for Brandon’s safety in Iraq. I am proud of his service to our country. I am proud of you!! You are an amazingly strong woman of God!! I love you and miss you. I am covering you, Brandon, Rhema and Hope in my prayers.

  9. You bless me back Jeneil. Lord, God grant these two peace as they part and make Brandon’s sacrifice yield fruit we pray in the name of Jesus who goes with and stays. xo

  10. Beautiful post, will be praying for your family.

    And I echo your note to therapists – our boys’ therapists and teachers have made an immense difference for our boys and our whole family!

  11. I’ve often thought and said that the closest way we come to understanding how our Father loves us is how we love our children. You both are living grace personified in a way that will have everlasting effects.

    Thank you for loving your daughter so completely.

    As I mentioned in my video, some of my blogging friends have been at the forefront of my prayers. You are one of them, friend.


  12. A co-worker of mine was talking about your blog, so I decided to look it up. I have to tell you, I have yet to make it through ANY of your posts without tearing up. You are an amazing woman and VERY strong. I love your writing and the amount of faith you have. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Keep up the good work!

  13. You have been in my thoughts so very much this week. I am thinking of you and your family. I will be praying for you all. Rhema is lucky to have TWO such amazing parents.

  14. I’m speechless…and ever so thankful for what you and Brandon do, not just for your children but for the rest of us…our thoughts and prayers! I’m so glad that you guys get to stay in Boston!

  15. I don’t know you, but I feel compelled to share with you just how much I will be praying for your family. Your blog here is simply inspiring as is your story of the great sacrifices your husband makes for his country and family, and the great sacrifices you make as a mom doing this on her own while he is gone. Much love and prayers being sent your way, God Bless you all!

  16. Pingback: More than all we ask « Autism In a Word

  17. Pingback: Once upon a time |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s