Finding HOPE

This post was co-authored by Lisa Simmons and Colleen Swindoll Thompson.

FINALLY . . . she had something to work with.

Finding HOPE
Image from Photodune.

Lisa Simmons felt understood—there was something different about her son Daniel, and someone acknowledged it. Before autism became a world-trending subject, doctors and diagnostic numbers defined Daniel merely by what he couldn’t and wouldn’t do. Lisa invested her life into finding what Daniel could do. She needed what we all need . . . hope. In my interview with Lisa this month, she shares how she redefined success and found hope.

Here is a portion of her blog written about our segment on HOPE.


As I thought back to our experience and journey with Daniel, I realized that with the diagnosis of PDD-NOS (autism wasn’t a word used much at all in 1990), that it actually gave me hope. I was just happy that someone finally believed me when I said, “There’s something . . .” and yes, I said the word “wrong.”

As I thought about the word hope, I came up with an acrostic to express how this word fits into our lives with Daniel.

H—Head and Heart Merge

When Daniel was first diagnosed, I had known in my heart from the moment they lay him in my arms that something wasn’t right. I didn’t say anything then because I had no reason to, but something just continued to nag at me. When we got the diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and even though I had no idea what that meant, I was glad that the doctor didn’t think I was just an overanxious mother. I still didn’t know exactly what to do, but I knew I was going to do something.

It gave me hope. I realized I wasn’t powerless and that God wasn’t finished with Daniel or me.

O—Optimism and Options Emerge

It’s easy to see only the negatives of having a child with a disability. All of the dreams you had for your child as well as your own life are shifted—if not totally eliminated—with the diagnosis.

Still, optimism is a choice—not a fairy-tale type of choice, not a live-in-denial type of choice, but a choice to see the best in the situation and especially in your child. I’m not saying you won’t experience dismay, sadness, or even depression, but constant pessimism only hinders and may even submerge the options available to you.

Look for what is possible and you will see options for opportunities all around you.

Finding HOPE

Image from Photodune.


P—Plans and Preparations Surge

When Daniel was first diagnosed with PDD-NOS, the neurologist told me not to expect him to do things like learn to ride a bike, rollerblade, or just about any other activity of the kind. Of course, I went out and bought a bicycle. We propped the training wheels up on blocks, I held his little feet on the pedals, and we went round and round on our modified stationary bike. Once he got the muscle memory in his legs and brain, it was just a matter of putting the back tire on the ground.

Guess what? Daniel knows how to ride a bike, rollerblade, snow ski, swim, and drive a car!

We prepared a positive plan, remained dedicated, worked hard, and didn’t give up.

E—Eyesight and End Results Converge

Our hopes and dreams change once we realize there will be different challenges for one child than for his or her brothers/sisters/friends. That is not the end of hope; it’s just a shift in our focus. Many times, my children were a reflection of myself. If they were good, then I was good. If they were bad or failed at something or misbehaved, it was a reflection of my job and my image as a mother. My focus was really on me. With Daniel, I learned that my focus had to be on who God made Daniel to be and what kind of heart repair He (God) was doing within me. My focus shifted from me to God, then to Daniel. That had been my hope all along. I just had never looked at it from that perspective.

God has put you in a place, right here, right now to put your faith into action for your child. Psalm 39:7 says, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My HOPE is in you” (NIV, emphasis added).


Let Me Hear from You

Where is your hope these days? Have you allowed a diagnosis to define your life or your child’s life? Are you willing to adjust and focus on what is possible rather than on what doesn’t seem possible? Maybe you are allowing life to define you—which leads to disappointment. Instead, choose to find HOPE, to pursue what is possible.

What would that look like for you? Let’s talk about that together.

(Click here to watch the interview with Lisa Simmons.)

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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5 thoughts on “Finding HOPE

  1. Really??? Lol…I’m supposed to be able to read this but my eyes are so teary it’s nearly impossible!
    You nailed it on how I view myself as a mom…when my son is doing well I’m a good mom….but when he struggles I have failed.
    So much of my mood seems tied to my son’s mood.
    I need to keep my eyes on Jesus knowing HE has a plan. Not just for my son but for me.
    Thank you Colleen and Lisa for sharing your heart. It’s good to be reminded my feelings are normal. But also to remember I have a Savior who wants to walk next to me.

    • Sally,
      Sometimes we just need to know we are not the only one’s struggling with life…just this week I had to tell myself this message…that GOD created my kids, I carried them by His allowance, and His love for them knows no bounds which means, what happens in their lives is under His management. I am called to do the best I can but that is nothing compared to what God can do. It is a daily discipline to harness my thoughts and feelings, to examine and integrate truth, and to not be led away by my feelings. So you , my friend, are not the only mom who wrestles. There are times when I wonder what Mary, Jesus’ mother, felt as she raised her son…so different, so unlike any other human being…what was that like? I think there must have been feelings of isolation and loneliness. I’m with you friend, we need one another to help us along and to remind us to keep our focus on our Lord as He moves and changes our lives and transforms our soul’s. You are so dear to write. Thank you, Colleen

  2. How very well said and shared with those of us reading, and those of us watching the video. As a mom of the 15-year-old son with severe autism, I can completely understand and see what each of you were speaking about. I am so grateful that God is not left me alone in this journey for he has given me not only of himself but a wonderful husband and an older stepson who has been amazing through our journey the last 12 years. Thank you for sharing. Julie Winkle

    • Julie,
      I am so sorry my reply has taken so long…I’m in recovery from back surgery. Thank you for your kind words…I am so glad the video was an encouragement to you. I can imagine some of your own internal thoughts….I have many that only the Lord and I share. I too am blessed with an incredible husband, a wonderful step son and daughter, and my own children…two typical and Jon who is my youngest. In an amazing way, God weaves us all together, turning our lives in ways that require we lean on one another and help each other in order to make it through. I am so thrilled you have found the video encouraging and hope you will continue to connect when you need a friend or listening ear. Colleen