The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities

An Interview with Kathleen Bolduc

Not many of us would put together the words love and suffering. Suffering feels like anything but love. One of life’s greatest struggles is to resolve that our all-loving God allows us to suffer; in fact, Scripture repeatedly reminds us that God is love and we will suffer.

Kathleen Bolduc
Kathleen Bolduc

Kathleen Bolduc understands suffering, as she raised a son with disabilities. She has experienced bitter-cold sorrow and has been warmed by God’s loving embrace for more than thirty years. Her book The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities helps us understand that God’s love breaks through most often when we are broken open.

If you are enduring pain and questioning God’s love, Kathy’s words will warm your soul.

Watch the Interview

Love is a word pregnant with warmth and hope, joy and happiness. If love were a season, it would probably be spring; and as a color, we think of red or pink. Suffering, on the other hand, feels void of warmth and life: cold, lonely, painful, and for some, hopeless. If suffering were a season, it would be winter—icy, bitter, bleak, and void of any color.

Falling in love is exciting, falling into pain is excruciating.

Robert Mulholland writes in his work Invitation to a Journey:

The journey of faith, the path to spiritual wholeness, lies in our increasingly faithful response to the One whose purpose shapes our path, whose grace redeems our detours, whose power liberates us from the crippling bondages of our previous journey, and whose transforming presence meets us at each turn in our road.1M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1993), 168.

Interview Questions

  1. How did the writing of your new book come to fruition, 25 years after the birth of your son Joel?
  2. How did your other boys handle your son’s diagnosis?
  3. What led you to write “Are You There, God? …”
  4. What does it mean “to sink into the quiet and let the Lord wash over you”?
  5. How does praise fit into the practice of meditation?
  6. How did Joel’s challenges bring you light?
  7. How did you come to terms with all the broken pieces of life?
  8. How did you deal with the challenges that stress placed on your marriage?
  9. How did your friends respond to you as you struggled through grief?
  10. What qualities go into a strong friendship?
  11. How did you survive the lack of sleep you faced for so long?
  12. How does Cloudland play into your new dreams?
  13. How did you work through letting go?
  14. Why is grief so vital to our lives, and how did you keep your heart open through the painful process?
  15. How do you encourage those who don’t feel rescued by God’s help?
  16. What is chronic grief?
  17. What are some ways as believers in Christ that we can facilitate and help others through their grief process?
  18. What words of encouragement can you offer those who are suffering?

Let Me Hear from You

Throughout this interview, was something said that moved you? Maybe you related to raising a child with disabilities; perhaps the subjects of God’s love, pain, finding peace, worry, meditation, prayer, or God’s purpose for you spoke to your soul. In the final segment, I asked these three questions:

  1. What are you afraid of in coming to the Lord?
  2. What are you running from?
  3. Do you know how much you are loved?

Coming to terms with life includes facing and accepting our brokenness and bringing our fragmented lives to the one who loves us relentlessly. Let’s talk about whatever is on your heart.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Connect with Kathleen Bolduc

Kathleen Deyer BolducKathleen Deyer Bolduc is a spiritual director and a nationally recognized author and speaker in the field of disability and spirituality, concentrating on God’s presence in the midst of disability, disability’s impact on the family system, and ways in which churches can become more welcoming of families of children with special needs. Her newest book, The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities, was recently released by Judson Press. Her books include Autism & Alleluias (Judson Press); A Place Called Acceptance: Ministry with Families of Children with Disabilities (Bridge Resources); and His Name Is Joel: Searching for God in a Son’s Disability (Bridge Resources). Her articles have appeared in Guideposts, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Journal of Family and Community Ministries: Empowering Through Faith, The Journal of Religion, Disability and Health Journal, among many others.

Kathy is also a writer for Not Alone: Finding Faith and Friendship for the Special-Needs Journey, a blog for parents of children with special needs.

Kathy’s speaking ministry has taken her around the United States. She is working with her husband to establish a contemplative retreat center, Cloudland, outside of Oxford, Ohio. Her passions include lectio divina, contemplative prayer, searching for God in the present moment, spending time with family and friends, writing fiction, and reading a good novel at bedtime.

You can contact Kathy and read excerpts from Kathy’s books, order books, view her spiritual direction brochure, and follow her blog on her Web site.

Insight for Living Ministries’ Suggested Resources

Insight for Living Ministries Topical Page:

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Recommended Ministries and Web Sites

Suggested Books

  • Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God by Macrina Wiederkehr
  • The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth by Joyce Rupp
  • Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton
  • Divine Duct Tape: Transforming Everyday Life into Real Life with Christ by Kelli Ra Anderson
  • A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny by Amy Julia Becker
  • Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability by Stephanie O. Hubach
  • Autism’s Hidden Blessings: Discovering God’s Promises for Autistic Children and Their Families by Kelly Langston
  • Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs by Jolene Philo

Notes:   [ + ]

1. M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1993), 168.