Beauty in the Broken Places of Special Needs Parenting

by Oct 9, 2014Encouragement, Spiritual Support7 comments

Parents of kids with special needs often feel broken. Lorna Bradley's devotional encourages parents to find beauty in the broken places of their lives.

By Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

I’m so pleased to introduce you to my new friend, Lorna Bradley. She’s the mother of an adult son with Asperger syndrome. She’s learned to look for beauty in the broken places. In this devotional, she explains how she finds it in cats, knick-knacks, and parenting a child with special needs.

Beauty in the Broken Places

I have lived with cats my entire married life. They are naughty. Every day as my son leaves the house he calls out, “Coco, don’t set anything on fire.” This has yet to happen, but I tell you she has the potential.

I find that living with cats impacts my home décor. Knick-knacks need to be non-fragile, bottom heavy, or inexpensive. Preferably all three. My mother visited Spain and brought back for me a tall and delicate porcelain figurine. I’ve glued it back together so often that it is more glue than porcelain at this point. Coco just looks at me all innocent. Who, me?

When I was younger, imperfections used to bother me. Nicks and chips and brokenness have come to matter less. Maybe that has to do with the lessons learned over a decade or two with special needs. We all have brokenness somewhere. Maybe it’s the brokenness that says, “I’ve lived a life. I’ve taken some hard knocks. I’ve come out stronger for it. The chips and nicks mean I’ve been out there trying.”

There is a style of Japanese art work called Kintsugi. It means “beautifully broken.” It is pottery that has been broken and then repaired with seams of pure gold or silver. When I see these amazing creations of beauty from brokenness I see that perfection is over-rated. The real beauty comes from the brokenness.

Sometimes as a special needs parent I feel broken like that porcelain figurine. I’m sure you do too sometimes. Knocked about, nicks and chips out there for everyone to see. I also know we are not alone. God walks with us on good days and bad days alike, pouring his love and grace into the broken places. Where God pours in the gold, we are made all the stronger for the journey.

Loving God, fill the broken places so that your glory shines in the world for all to see. Amen.

But he knows where I am going.

And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

Job 23:10 NLT

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By Lorna Bradley

Rev. Dr. Lorna Bradley is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In addition to developing curriculum for special needs parent support, she has led a parent support group for four years and worked in welcoming ministries for ten years. She and her husband have an adult son with Asperger’s. Lorna enjoys spending time with her family, entertaining, traveling, scuba diving, and running. You can read more blogs by Lorna at


  1. Jolene

    That is so true!

  2. Downs Side Up

    Beautiful. Yes, we are perfect with all our scars of life, the marks we have gleaned along the way. Flawlessness is rather boring after all.

  3. Denie Sidney

    What an awesome point of view as I struggle with a season of transition and brokenness. Thank you!

  4. Jolene

    Kerith, glad it helped you, fellow recovering perfectionist!

  5. Jolene


    That Leonard Cohen quote is a favorite of mine. I wanted to use it in “The Caregiver’s Noetbook,” but royalty issues prevented it.

  6. Cora

    Beautiful post, and good to remember.

    Leonard Cohen says, in “Anthem”:

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

  7. Kerith Stull

    This is simply beautiful. As a recovering perfectionist, I still worry about things that are “not quite right.” As parents of disabled children, we are taught by doctors, therapists, teachers, and others to look for what is “not quite right” about our children and “fix them” in any way we can. How lovely to think about putting the pieces we have back together again with gold and to see the beauty in that brokenness. Thanks for sharing. Just what I needed to hear today!


  1. Special Needs Parenting: From Coping to Thriving Giveaway | Down the Gravel Road - […] deacon in the United Methodist Church. If that short description rings a bell, perhaps you read her Different Dream…

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Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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