Sandy Ramsey-Trayvick has learned to see an unexpected Christmas gift in the lessons she's learned through special needs parenting.

An unexpected Christmas gift was given to guest blogger Sandy Ramsey-Trayvick and her family more than 2 decades ago. Today she shares her reaction to the gift shortly after it was given and how she views it now.

My son Myles got sick on December 10, 1999. My family had attended a Christmas party four days before. I have memories and pictures from that party of my son giggling with excitement as he raced back and forth across the room, practicing his newly developing walking skills. He was healthy and happy. Our family was excited and looking forward to enjoying the holiday season. But our little boy suddenly became very ill. Instead of planning for Christmas, my husband and I found ourselves in the emergency room receiving the news that our 13-month-old had contracted strep pneumococcal meningitis and was in a coma.

I remember sitting next to his hospital bed in the pediatric intensive care unit signing the photo Christmas cards that featured my three little ones all dressed up in their holiday best. Sending photo cards of my kids to family and friends had become one of my holiday traditions. This particular year, as I signed each card, I prayed for God to awaken my baby boy in time for Christmas. I pleaded with the Lord but His answer was no. The Christmas of 1999 was the saddest I’ve experienced.

I asked the Lord for just one gift and didn’t receive it.

There have been a lot of Christmases since then and, thankfully, my son has been awake and at home for all of them. Through that long illness and the special needs journey that has followed, the Lord has blessed our family with gifts I hadn’t thought to ask for as I sat in that hospital room all those years ago.

God began revealing His first gift to us shortly after Myles was hospitalized.

Prior to that long hospital stay, my husband and I held inaccurate ideas about God and His ways. In the midst of some of our most difficult circumstances with Myles, God gave us the gift of truly getting to know Him. We experienced Him as Teacher, Comforter, Protector, Advocate, and Waymaker. Prior to that hospital experience, we had heard about God and His ways, but He gave us the gift of knowing and seeing Him for ourselves. In the almost 25 years since my son’s initial illness, we’ve continued to know God more intimately as we’ve walked with Him through both joyful and painful experiences.

Through this special needs journey, the Lord has also given me the gift of knowing my true identity.

Becoming a special needs mom challenged all the ways I saw myself. My old chosen identity had been tied primarily to my performance and accomplishments—but it didn’t fit with my new life as a special needs mom. As I struggled for a sense of significance in this role, the Lord walked me through His Word to teach me who He says I am. He taught me that my significance—my worth and value—have always been in Christ. I didn’t need to choose an identity because He had already chosen one for me, one that would remain unchanged by new roles or unforeseen circumstances.

As I reflect back over the past two decades and more, I’m relishing an unexpected Christmas gift of remembrance—the ability to look back and recall all that God has done in and through my family’s special needs life. He has continued to give.

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Photo by Igor Omilaev on Unsplash

By Sandy Ramsey-Trayvick

Sandy and her husband are parents to three young adult children. Their son was diagnosed with multiple disabilities 24 years ago after a devastating illness as a toddler. Following her son’s diagnosis, Sandy quit her job to become his full-time caregiver and advocate.

Sandy is currently a Certified Professional Coach. Her focus is to empower special needs parents who are feeling weary by helping them to renew their hope and strength and reactivate their joy.

You can learn more about Sandy and her work at You can also reach her at


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Meet Jolene

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



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