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Our Special Needs Journey

Few parents sign up for a special needs journey.  It comes to them without their permission. Some parents get a diagnosis quickly.  For parents like us, it can be a slow, arduous, confusing journey.


Early in the morning of July 25, 2016 we ended our special needs journey.  Our daughter, Lisa, left her limited body for her eternal one.

After the months of heavy grief subsided and we found the beginning of our new life rhythm, the lessons I learned from this journey that chose me surfaced. They are lessons that taught me about love, perseverance, forgiveness, the uselessness of guilt, the treasure of small victories. 

I wrote a book about Empowering Your Child who Has Special Needs


So I've added this page for these lessons. Some will be the practical adaptations and solutions that worked for our set of special limitations.  Some are my very personal growth lessons that I don't think I would have learned without Lisa.  I will also share what I am learning about the unique grief journey as a parent who raised a child with special needs.  

I'm starting with some information about Lisa's life.  You'll find that below.  You can also read our abridged  CaringBridge posts for more detailed information. 

Whatever brings you to this page, whether it is you own journey or someone else's, I hope we can share support for each other.

Go to the contact me page and send me a message. Sign up to receive any new posts.

No one should ever take this journey alone.


Lisa Kay Goodwin
January 4, 1976-July 25, 2016

Lisa’s Story

Lisa Kay Goodwin was born on January 4, 1976, in Bryan, Texas to change the world of Mark and Kay (Brigman) Goodwin and anyone else who got close enough to to know her.  Nothing was simple or easy for Lisa in the beginning of her life.  From six months of severe colic, seizures at a year old, and losing her mother in 1979 to cancer; Lisa began a journey that would take every bit of bravery, endurance, flexibility, and hope.

In 1980, where her dad introduced Lisa to Debbie Salter, a young woman he was spending lots of tine with especially on the telephone; Lisa asked, "Daddy, is she going to marry us?"  On Novemebver 8, she did.  Debbie married Mark and Lisa.  They each pledged their lives to one another to make life better by sharing the journey together.

It was not to be an easy journey.  A month after their wedding, Lisa was hospitalized for unexplained muscle weakness and finally diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Relieved, they went home bringing that it was just "something to live with."

Unfortunately, it was just the tip of the iceberg.  Learning problems surfaced early and she struggled through school, special education, special school placements that required bussing her to other locations.  High school graduation was a summit celebration in 1996.

School problems were only one layer of Lisa's complex make-up.  More physical complications followed.  Heart surgery to replace two valves following a life-threatening heart infection, two hip replacements, three knee surgeries all introduced the scary implications because of anesthesia.  Every time Lisa demonstrated her stubborn perseverence and proved to her doctors that "she was not the China doll everyone feared she was."

In 2008 she began to experience eye issues that continued to escalate and endangered her vision.  She became legally blind, learned to use a mobility cane and other resources for the visually impaired. Multiple eye procedures, serum drops made for her own blood serum did not prevent irreparable damage to her cornea.  Eventually, she received two cornea transplants that required sewing her eye shut to enhance healing.  They returned vision to 20-200, just enough to see shapes, color, and images on TV if she sat close enough.

To say that Lisa has had a difficult life is an understatement.  But ask Lisa about her life and she would tell you about her love for color, art, country music, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and dancing.  She would tell you about her family and friends, her church and her ministry of encouragement by sending homemade cards.  She would tell you that she's traveled the world land visited different time periods through audio books.

Lisa almost never complained.  Count up the losses in her life and then see her smile her way into a room, catch you off guard with her wit, humble you with her simple, tenacious faith, and you understand why Lisa touched so many with so little.

Beginning in February, 2016, Lisa's heart, her big, generous, sensitive, simple heart began to fail. Three hospitalizations, 10 days each with many attempts to stabilize or reverse this process did work. After Lisa's last hospitalization July 11, she went home on hospice.


Early in the morning of July 25, Lisa ended her long and winding road. Today she rests in Jesus with more freedom and peace than her body ever gave her. She is with her Father who loved her so much that He created no one else quite like her.

 I pray that by sharing Lisa's story and my lessons from it, we can encourage each other in whatever journey God has for you. Lisa's story reminds us all that there is only one reason to persevere and that is to finish the race.

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Focus on the Family Article Features Lisa's Story


To promote the Joni and Friends' book, Real Families, Real Needs, Editor Chonda Ralston chose my contribution about Lisa for an article in the Oct-Nov issue of Focus on the Family.

Showing 2 of us praying in the room dedicated to Lisa.

While in Kenya at Africa Nazarene University, I was able to see the girls' dorm room we are renovating with Lisa's Memorial Fund.  Crawford Hall 233 was dedicated in honor of Lisa and for God to use to inspire women to pursue all God's knows they can be.

Click on the picture above for the dedication video and enjoy the pictures below.

This is the built-in closet on each side of the  

door coming into the room.                             

cover shows a brown teddy bear with a bandaid on his leg
A picture of Lisa in gold sweater and wearing a cordoroy cap with a buckle band
Bond-haired 1 year old Lisa in a sleveless lace and ribbon decorated dress
4 yr old Lisa in yeallow and white Easter dress.
Lisa in blue shorts set holding her blue and white school bag and strawberry shortcake lunch box.
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