He is Our Hope


He is there as our hopes are fading.

He is there as the waters rise.

He is there as we cry out, Why?

He is there for us.


He is our source, our fuel, our strength, our hope.


When we despair, He shows compassion.

When we lose it all, He fills our needs.

When we lack strength, He gives His power.

When the earth gives way, He sustains us.


He is our foundation.


We might not sense His sturdiness.

We might not grasp His strength.

We might not hear His encouragement.

Yet He protects us like a mighty seawall.


He is our great I AM, our Savior, our Faithful One, our Rock.

He is Jesus.


–Teresa Wells


Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

Prepare for Storms



Spring in Texas makes me think about tornadoes. Maybe it’s because we came face to face with a tornado on May 27, 1997 as we drove down I-35 bound for south Austin. Imagine how it feels to look out your car window and see a big, picture perfect funnel only a couple miles to the west. It was the first tornado of the day, and the violent storm system was headed south, just like we were. We managed to stay thirty minutes ahead of the ominous black skies, tuning in to local radio stations the whole way. When we finally arrived at my sister-in-law’s house, the kids took cover in the bathtub while the adults listened to the grim news reports and gawked at the small trees in the front yard spinning franticly.


There were 20 confirmed tornadoes that day, lasting six hours. It was an unbelievable day.


That day isn’t the only reason I connect Spring, Texas, and tornadoes, though. I grew up hearing how my mom sheltered at school when her town was devastated by a killer tornado. My grandparents, aunts and uncles had tornado cellars. Tornadoes are just a part of the landscape around here, especially in the spring. However routine, though, they are never welcome, they are never predictable, and they are always stressful. Just ask the people of my community who lost their homes the day after Christmas in 2015, or the people of East Texas just this past week.


My family is prepared to weather storms. We have a history of preparedness. We know the signs of a tornado day. We know where to go, what to take into our safe place, even what to wear. Rick and I have been ducking and covering as a family for almost 36 years.


My family is prepared to weather other kinds of storms, too. For 32 years, we’ve been weathering storms as a special needs family. At first, we ducked and covered. What else can you do when you’re slammed with a reality you’re not prepared for? Then you learn to trust God in a real, honest, everyday way. You get to your feet and stand in faith. With every storm, you might be knocked down, but it’s to your knees. And you stand on the truth of Psalm 91:4 when it says, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”


We don’t always enjoy the storms of life—in fact, we never do. But we love the benefits that come afterwards: we grow. We persevere. We experience God in a deeper way. Personal growth, perseverance, and experiencing God on a deep level are things that happen when we depend on Him when times are hard. These are extraordinarily good things that happen during extraordinarily hard times.


When you go through a storm, just know this: it will pass. You will get through it. Have faith in Jesus. He will walk you through the storm. Afterwards, reflect on how far He brought you. Even when it seemed like He was silent, be assured, He wasn’t—He was covering you with His feathers. You were safe under His strong wings.


When you look at the damage your storm has spawned and realize you’re still standing, fall to your knees in gratitude for His faithfulness that shielded you, even though His protective touch was as light as a feather.


And prepare for the next storm, because it will come. But so will He.




Image: Tulen Travel, Unsplash

What a Wonderful World: the Song of Sunday’s Win

The beautiful swell of violins envelopes the Italian restaurant, and the raspy, familiar voice croons the words that make the whole world smile:


I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world.


Across the table, Kristen listens and asks, “Who is that?”


My husband, Rick, says, “Louie Armstrong.”


Kristen’s eyes widen as she repeats, “Louie Armstrong?”


We nod, knowing her incredible memory for singers will catalog this name forever.


But this is not what brings sudden tears to my eyes. It’s the song itself.


It is, indeed, a wonderful world…now. The world has changed for my little family, just in the last hour or so.


Call it redemption, call it a turnaround, call it whatever you want. I just know God gets the credit.


You see, before our peaceful lunch at the Italian restaurant, we attempted to eat at a Mexican restaurant elsewhere. Sunday lunch at a restaurant is our tradition, and it’s Kristen’s favorite activity. She had given a thumbs-up to the Mexican restaurant, which catered to our family’s various food allergies. All was right in the Wells’ World.


Until it wasn’t.


When we got out of the car, Kristen slammed the door, began shrieking, yelling, and amping up for a temper tantrum. Why? I don’t know. The last time we’d eaten out, she’d done this very thing and had continued her shrieking as we stood in line. People around us had been startled, probably frightened, and of course stared at us, trying to figure out why this person was so upset. Now, Kristen was repeating the same behavior, and one peek through the window told us the Mexican restaurant was shoulder-to-shoulder with the after-church crowd. Rick and I concluded we shouldn’t attempt taking a shrieking, yelling girl into an already chaotic place. (You’re welcome, Chiloso)


As we all got back in the car, Kristen alternately yelled, screamed, begged, cried, and said hateful things to us all the way home. Not fun.


But please don’t misconstrue her behavior for that of a spoiled-rotten person who just wants her way. With autism, it is so much more complex. I don’t have everything figured out, but here’s what I think I know:

  • She has no confidence in herself.
  • She feels like a failure in many areas.
  • When she gets in a rut, she doesn’t know how to get out. She is in a rut in terms of appropriate behavior while eating out (her favorite activity).
  • When we leave the restaurant and opt to eat at home, we are essentially allowing her to stay in her rut, even though we know we can’t take her inside a crowded place in her frame of mind. It’s the proverbial rock and a hard place for us as parents.


We came home, terribly discouraged. In the front room, Kristen was sobbing. She had wanted, more than anything, to go out to eat. It was the highlight of her week. Yet, she had done the one thing that would keep her out of the crowded restaurant. It was like the old saying, cutting off your nose to spite your face.


At loose ends, my husband, daughter Sarah and I talked through what had just happened. We felt so helpless. But the more we talked, the more we realized the answer. Sarah went in the front room to talk to Kristen. Rick and I listened to her soothing encouragement.


Sarah’s words were simple, and Kristen hung on them. Sarah’s words reminded me of Abilene’s encouragement in The Help. Sarah told Kristen how much she believed in her. That she was a good girl. That she was kind. That she loved her.


To each affirmation, Kristen responded, “You do?” or “Yes.” She needed to know she was loved no matter what, even if she had screamed how much she hated us. Unconditional love was what her sister was offering, and Kristen gratefully accepted it.


That was the moment the day went from horrible to wonderful.


At Sarah’s suggestion and Kristen’s insistence, we all prayed, linked together like a football huddle. Then we gave lunch another go.


Another restaurant, again with Kristen’s thumbs up approval. Italian food, no line (the after church crowds were long gone). We had a relaxing lunch, praising Kristen’s quiet, appropriate behavior. She confidently overcame her rut. There were lots of hugs, smiles, thumbs up and affirmations.


And when Louie Armstrong began crooning, I almost lost it. Because that song says it all. Enjoy the happy, easy moments. The little things, like flowers blooming. Your child smiling at you across the table. Enjoying life together. Breathing easy. These moments are magnificent and simple and fleeting and sometimes, hard won. They make life truly wonderful.


And I think to myself what a wonderful world.









Image: Alex Jones, Unsplash

Song: What a Wonderful World

Written by George David Weiss, Robert Thiele

Sung by Louis Armstrong




Dear Special Needs Parent: Take Care of Yourself


Dear Special Needs Parent,


Take care of yourself. The life you live is intense. Your peaks and valleys are extreme. At times, it seems like you’ll never stop living in the valley. Then suddenly, things ease up. You wonder, Will this last? If I celebrate peace, will I jinx things?


Friend, how stressful it is to go from one extreme to another. Long term stress, or chronic stress, is not a good thing.


Are you managing your stress?


That may seem a trite question but the ramifications are far reaching. Recently, chronic stress has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.


As a special need parent, this is sobering on many levels. There aren’t many things within your control, but there is one: how you react to your situation. Friend, it might make a great difference in the long run.


How you react to the valleys, peaks, constant changes and all the unknowns in your life as a special needs parent will make a critical difference now, but also 20, 30, 40+ years from now.



Think of all the thoughts that float through your mind throughout the day.

  • How is my child?
  • Am I hovering?
  • Should I be jotting down my observations for the doctor?
  • Am I doing enough?
  • How will my child do out in their world today?
  • Who can I call to check on my child? Or should I be calling?
  • How will I present my child to the world today via clothes, shoes, cleanliness, etc?
  • Do I worry too much?
  • How are my other children?
  • Do I have too much on my plate?
  • Have I focused too much on my special needs child?
  • How are we as a family?
  • How is my marriage?
  • How are my relationships?
  • How are my finances?
  • How is my child’s medical condition?
  • Am I vigilant enough?
  • How am I communicating with the schools?
  • How can I do more?


Those are just the random thoughts. Then there are the critical decisions, like

  • When do I set up guardianship?
  • What does my child do after high school?
  • What happens to my child after I am gone?


This just scratches the surface. No wonder you’re stressed.


Yet it is in how you cope with these thoughts and decisions and all the many changes in your life, that ultimately makes the difference. Here are some suggestions.



You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need special equipment. You don’t need a lot of time. But you DO need to start something, now.

  • Go for a walk. Take your child with you.
  • Jump around in your den.
  • Put on a yoga dvd.
  • Anything, but do it.



Whatever is keeping you up at night, change it.

  • Go to bed earlier. Eight hours is a good goal, and less is undesirable. Remember, your life is intense.
  • Make your sleeping environment dark and comfortable.
  • Cut out sweets, caffeine, and electronic devices a couple hours before you sleep.
  • Eat your last meal several hours before you go to bed.
  • Get in a routine to help your body wind down and know it’s time for sleep.



Different from rest, but equally important.

  • Enjoy a hobby.
  • Put yourself in another world for at least ten minutes.
  • Get outside your own world and bless someone else. Your life is a challenge, but others have different challenges. Write a note. Bake a cake. Have coffee with someone who needs to get out. You’ll bring them joy, but the joy you will experience will be soul-deep.
  • A good belly laugh is good for your spirit, and good for you physically. Laugh with people, laugh with books, or find a good television show that consistently makes you laugh.
  • Gather with friends and family. Challenging sometimes, but the people we love, love our special ones and all their idiosyncrasies. You need these people. You need this time. Don’t avoid fellowship.


Above all, pray.

  • God loves you. Explore the Bible and find out how deep His love is.
  • Spend time praying. Prayer is a two-way conversation between you and God. Remember to just be still and listen after you’ve poured out your heart to Him.
  • If it seems that you don’t have time to sit with God, you are wrong. This is the one thing that will get you through the stress of everyday life, the intensity of special needs parenting, and the crucial decisions you must make for your child. Take heart: God will lead you. Even better, God will love you unconditionally as you make mistakes, as you succeed, as you fumble your way along. No matter what you do, if you put your faith in Jesus, He will never leave you.


Dear friends, embracing stress is not a good way to live. Let’s embrace a better way to live within the boundaries of special needs parenting. Let’s be happy, loving people who happen to walk a difficult path. We can do this—with God.



Blessings — Teresa

This beautiful photo: Nathan Anderson, Unsplash.com


Lead photo credit: Andre Hunter, Unsplash.com



Don’t Lose Hope: A Letter to Special Needs Parents


Dear Special Needs Parent,

This unexpected life is weird, wonderful, wild and ugly, isn’t it? I think we, of all people, are the ones who can rightly say, “It’s complicated.” Hang in there. You are brave, even when you don’t feel brave.

The best advice ever given me is what I offer you: Don’t ever give up hope.

It might not look great right now. In fact, things might look pretty bleak. You might not imagine how you’ll ever be lighthearted again. Your life is so intense, you can’t think about anything but big, heavy issues. Things you never used to think about. Things your friends never have to think about. Things you wish you didn’t have to think about, but you must. It’s not an option. It’s your life.

You may wonder how in the world you went from such a blessedly normal existence to this slightly bizarre life, where suddenly you understand medical terms without the benefit of a medical degree. At times, your existence seems surreal. You never thought life could be so different than what you expected.

You may have lost friends. Oh, not all at once. But little by little, the friendships fell by the wayside. Some you can trace back to relocation, some…you just lost. Maybe you saw their compassion turn to impatience, or maybe they couldn’t handle your pain. But some friends have faithfully stayed by your side. And new friends have joined you in your journey. These are the true friends.

And pain…pain is now part of your life, whether you like it or not. It’s like an unwelcome member of the family, speaking up at inconvenient times. Sometimes your pain is quietly managed in the private places and cover of night. But other times, your pain overwhelms, shouting for recognition in the sunshine of day. Pain is that ever-present thorn in your side that must be addressed. When it is, pain can be reasonable. When shoved aside, pain becomes a monster waiting to pounce, grown beyond proportion.

Why? you ask. Why me?

There are no easy answers to why. But take heart, friend. The best news is this: God is on your side. When you wonder if there is anything good left in this world, the answer is YES. Yes! Look in the mirror. You are God’s creation. Your child is God’s creation. You are the reason Jesus came to the earth to bridge the gap sin left between God and man. Because of Jesus, we have hope for our future. We have hope for our children. We have hope for our happiness. We have hope for our world. Jesus loves children, and He loves you. Even when we think our children suffer unimaginably, He never leaves them. He is faithful. We have hope through Him that we will never be alone. We will always be loved. Our struggle here on earth will not be in vain but for a purpose. His purpose.

Don’t lose hope, friend. You have Jesus.


Viewing God Through Circumstantial Lenses


When Kristen was first diagnosed, I wondered why. Why, God?

Then my Why, God turned to Did you cause this, God, or did you simply allow it? Cause or Allow?

It was important to me, because it shaped who God was for me. I was swimming in a pool of disillusion. My circumstances were reshaping who I’d always thought God was. I was redefining God in terms of my new life i.e., my life as a special needs parent. A person who suddenly, undeservedly walks a very bumpy road. I was caught up in my circumstances, and I viewed God through the lenses of those circumstances.

Now, years later, I realize I wasn’t being fair. I was angry and wanted to lash out at the One who controlled things, because I felt so out of control.

I asked the wrong questions. If God had answered audibly, maybe He would’ve said, “Cause, allow…both are irrelevant.”

There is a Bible passage where God, in the form of a sword-wielding man, speaks to Joshua and tells him, pretty much, his question is irrelevant. When I read Joshua 5:13-15, along with Lysa TerKeurst’s commentary, it made me remember my own irrelevant questions:

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

As Joshua was looking at the fortified city of Jericho, we might be seeing his courage falter a bit. The Lord tells him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Despite this, seeing reality up close is another thing.

Suddenly a man with a sword appears before him, and Joshua jumps to the defense: Declare yourself! Are you for us or against us?

It was the wrong question. The angel of the Lord was neither for him or against him. He had a different purpose altogether.

He was there to remind Joshua to focus not on the circumstances, but focus on the Holy God who controlled all things, even the Promised Land Joshua stood on.

When I was faced with challenges beyond my ability, I looked at my circumstances instead of my God. I ended up angry, disillusioned, and fearful.

Then God reminded me where I could find Him: I felt compelled to open my Bible and flip through the pages. My soul was raw. I needed hope.

I found my hope, in verses I’d not read before. Passages from Isaiah, from Luke, from Psalms. By the time I finished reading, my soul felt refreshed. I didn’t find my answers, yet I was more than satisfied.

When we look at God through the lenses of our circumstances, we won’t see Him clearly. We will ask unfair, irrelevant questions. We won’t find answers.

When we look at God with no lenses, no filters of expectations, we will see Him for who He is. He is God. Whether or not we find our Why matters less the more we know Him.

A Stranger’s Words in a Private Place

img_0344Two minutes, then she was gone. I wiped the tears that trailed down my face. I couldn’t give in to the sobs that threatened to overtake me. I had to be strong.

I looked at the empty spot where the stranger had stood a moment earlier. Had that just happened? Maybe not – it had been a crazy day, after all.

It was the day we would find out the answer to many questions. My sweet Kristen had been diagnosed with LAM and on this day, we would visit a specialist who would tell us her prognosis. We would find out if she would live a significantly shorter life; if she would suffer; if we needed to make lifestyle changes. We were scared but trying not to be.

Kristen, who is developmentally delayed and has autism, read us like a book. She had heard our conversations more than we realized. She recognized our anxiety level. She didn’t for one minute buy into our soothing words. She acted out on what she had heard, what she saw in our body language, and what she’d overheard earlier in the week.

It was awful.

Have you ever heard the school chant, Everywhere we go, people always know, Broncos! Broncos! Broncos! (not Denver; Denton High School)

That’s how our day was. Everywhere we went, people always knew.

Our visit to the medical facility was a two-part appointment, one in the morning for a breathing test and the doctor visit after lunch. When we returned to the medical center, I urged Kristen to come with me to the restroom. She yelled no, stomped her feet, then followed me in.

“Okay, go ahead and go to the bathroom, honey,” I told her as I headed in to a stall.

“No!” she yelled. “I don’t need to go!” Her arms were firmly weaved together in what she calls the “mad arms” position.

I knew she had to go. She just had two drinks. “Kristen, please, just go. It’s not a big deal. Just go.”

And then I heard a woman’s soft voice say, “Excuse me.” I winced as I heard Kristen’s usual response of, “No! Excuse ME! I’m upset!” yelled out, and I could see and hear stomping and flailing arms, and the slamming door of the stall next to mine.

I put my head in my hands and thought, Lord, please…

When I came out, there was a woman washing her hands. I turned on the water, thinking, I could ignore this or address it.

I smiled at her and said, “I’m sorry she was rude to you.”

The woman smiled and shook her head. Her voice was soft and sweet. “She wasn’t rude to me.” She hesitated, then said, “You know, I just started praying for you. I prayed that you would have peace and just an extra measure of patience.”

Her gentle words touched my bruised heart. All day long, Kristen’s out of control behavior had been turning heads. Her words had been poisonous to Rick and me. It was my birthday, but all she knew was that something bad was happening today, and it was about this doctor’s visit. No amount of cajoling or positive rewards could make up for her perception.

My eyes teared up as I took in this sweet stranger’s words, thinking how badly I needed extra patience with my daughter on this crazy day, and how badly I needed peace for our uncertain future. I think her eyes were misty, too. I would have hugged her, but I would’ve been a basket case – and then what would Kristen do?

So I thanked her, and I felt encouraged.

This sweet stranger, who had nothing to gain, gave me so much that day. Her prayers and her words of mercy were rejuvenating. They were just what I needed to keep going, to look at my daughter with fresh eyes and say, Okay, I can do this, no matter what people think, or say, or how grim the prognosis.

That sweet woman changed everything for me.

I want to do that for someone. Lord, open my eyes to the needs only You know.

Kristen’s prognosis was better than we imagined. We left the medical center feeling optimistic about the future and encouraged by a stranger’s prayer.



From Awful to Wonderful, Hope is the Bridge

ej3-zfjxr6q-eryk-fudala-hopeYou never know how good you have it until you don’t.

I always think that whenever I’ve been sick. Afterwards, I think, It feels so good to feel good!

I haven’t been sick lately, but we’ve had a few things occur that have jarred our little world. Enough to make me appreciate normalcy.

Now, after weeks of wishing for normal, longing for boring, it’s back: Routine! Blessed monotonous, always a dull moment routine. How I craved it! If I could hug it, I would!

Have you ever felt this way? If you’ve been through a surprising, bumpy road that maybe you knew was temporary, but seemed unending at the time, maybe you know what I’m talking about.

In the beginning, your adrenaline surges. Eyes wide open, you’re taken aback, but you’re ready for this! Your mind is on high alert. You’re a prayer warrior. Bring it on!

But then, the adrenaline settles, and so does your situation. Reality sets in…this could be awhile. Hmmm. This could be a drag. But we’ll get through it!

Then…there’s no question. It IS a drag. And it seems to drag on and on. Your mind tells you there’s an end, but your spirit is losing hope. The words coming out of your mouth don’t even sound like they belong to you. Who is that grouch talking? You need an intervention, the heavenly kind.

Just when you think you can’t get any lower, you pour your heart out to God. You tell him you can’t do it anymore. You’re sick and tired of it. It’s wearing you down. You can’t even remember how it felt to be the real you.

Friend, that’s when God swoops in and shows his abundant love! To be sure, he treats us in different ways according to our needs and personalities. But we walk away knowing without a doubt God loves us, without condition. We walk away with hope.

And hope is the one thing we cannot live without.

Hope is the bridge that gets us from awful to wonderful. If your day is awful, tell God about it, right now. You need his hope. Your situation won’t change, but your outlook will. If you look at an awful situation with hope, you can make it.

I know.

Leave me a comment and I’ll pray for you, friend. We all need hope.


My favorite name of God: Yahweh


The early Jews considered this name so holy they didn’t even say it aloud.

This name is to be highly revered. In my Bible, it’s easy to simply read past it, mistaking it for “Lord.” But it’s in all capital letters: LORD.

It’s like a call to action — Stand at attention! Or, maybe more appropriately, Get on your knees!

That’s how I feel when I read Exodus 34.  God shows Himself to Moses.

Because humans couldn’t see the face of God and remain alive, God told Moses to stand in the cleft of the rock, and He would cover Moses with His hand while He passed. God allowed Moses to see only His back, not His face. And He would proclaim to Moses His name (Exodus 34:17-23).

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands,and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Exodus 34:5-7 NIV

2God is declaring Himself. He is the Almighty God, Yahweh. The LORD.

Moses fell to his knees and worshiped. That’s the way it makes me feel, too.

Can you imagine it? To have Yahweh, the Almighty One, walk in front of you, speaking just to you?


Yahweh says He is



slow to anger

abounding in love and faithfulness

maintaining love to thousands

forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin

does not leave the guilty unpunished

I am awed by this passage. Every portion of it is worthy of meditation and worship.

But what stands out to me is the contrast. There’s so much mercy and love and grace, but then it’s followed by justice.

Harsh? Maybe we can shift our thinking to a time when we were cheated, and it seemed the cheater would go unpunished.  God says the guilty will be punished. Suddenly that justice gives comfort.

But you know what? We’re all the guilty ones. In some way or another, we’ve all been the cheater. But God says in these verses that He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. He does this through His Son, Jesus (John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life). God is loving and merciful and just.

It seems unfathomable to have God Himself walk in front of us, describing Himself, telling us who He is. But here’s the awesome truth: we have this privilege available now. This minute. Maybe not in the way Moses experienced it. But every time we pray, every time we open the Bible, God Himself talks to us. Each time we call out to Him, He’s there. Yahweh in all His magnificence is available to us, now. Just like with Moses.

Yahweh, glorious One, thank you for being just as available to me as you were to Moses. I might not see You with my eyes, but I see You on the pages of Scripture. I see evidence of Your love in those who serve You and in Your creation. Let me draw near to You today. Amen.