We caught up with Lacey Buchanan to talk about her new audiobook Through the Eyes of Hope. The interview was recorded and can be played below. Enjoy!
ANNOUNCER Welcome! You’re listening to an exclusive author interview brought to you by christianaudio.com.
VICKI MORGAN: Hi and welcome to the conversation! I’m Vicki Morgan with Christian Audio, and today I’m speaking with author Lacey Buchanan about her new audiobook Through the Eyes of Hope. It’s a candid but hopeful story about her son, Christian, who was born with a very rare birth defect, disfiguring his palate and causing him to be born without eyes. It’s a very rare birth defect, I think there are only like fifty cases in the world. But the heart of this audiobook is even more rare in the fact that it’s so raw and so honest. Lacey tells a story about her life being interrupted when she was expecting her first child (and they were joyfully expecting their first child). In fact, she was on her way to becoming a lawyer. She was happily married to her high school sweetheart. Life looked pretty good. But when Christian arrived, that’s her son, Christian, everything changed. She could only watch and pray as he spent his first four weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit.
When he was finally allowed to come home, both Lacey and Chris, her husband, struggled to understand their life as new parents of a severely challenged and disfigured son. They received disapproving stares and critical attitudes and were swimming in a maze of medical legalities, plus navigating law school, it all was putting a strain on their marriage.
But the undercurrent of Through the Eyes of Hope is love. They had love for their son, they had love for God and now, they have an even greater understanding of God’s love for them. Lacey doesn’t sugarcoat her story, and that’s what makes this audiobook so special, so real, and her journey so hope-inspiring.
You’ll be glad to know that after years of medical procedures, doctors have worked wonders on Christian’s cleft palate. And today he’s thriving at the Tennessee School for the Blind. He is an absolute joy to his parents and he inspires millions around the world who are now following his story.
Lacey, thank you so much for joining us today!
LACEY BUCHANAN: Thank you so much for having me.
VICKI MORGAN: So, I’ve given some of your background and the gist of your new audiobook, Through the Eyes of Hope, but it’s more than just an audiobook for parents with special needs children. Through the Eyes of Hope, I found, is really a GPS for any of us whose life takes an unexpected, dramatic turn.
LACEY BUCHANAN: Yeah, you know, I faced one of the worst days of my life, the day that I found out my son was blind and that he was facing so many complex medical issues. And normal became a word outside of our vocabulary, really.
VICKI MORGAN: So the first thing that you do in Through the Eyes of Hope I notice is thank God for leading you down unfamiliar paths. Now rocky roads, I can understand. Hard times, I can understand. But unfamiliar? I mean, I don’t think any of us wants to be just thrust into the unknown!
LACEY BUCHANAN: Well, none of us ever really want it, but it’s in those times where we face those trials, those unfamiliar paths that we’re really being refined and God is stretching us outside of our comfort zone. And it’s during those times that we really are becoming more than we could ever be by staying inside of our comfort zone and by staying on those familiar paths. So there is something to be thankful for about them.
VICKI MORGAN: And you really do go into great detail in Through the Eyes of Hope … that whole process that you went through of being bewildered and then a little angry, maybe, and then grateful. At first glance it appears that you’re just documenting the challenges that you’re facing raising a child with special needs. But then I saw the deeper message. Through the Eyes of Hope is an illustration really about how God loves us. When I was glancing at your Twitter posts, the things that you posted about Christian, all remind me of what God would tweet about us if He could.
LACEY BUCHANAN: Yes. And that really is the bigger picture. When I had both of my children that’s when I really started to grasp just how much God loved me, and in that unconditional and really unfathomable love there is hope beyond our circumstances, and there’s trust beyond explanation. And so during those unfamiliar paths that we just spoke of, I was able to hold onto the fact that my Heavenly Father loved me even more than I loved my own children and that was almost something so big my mind couldn’t comprehend it.
VICKI MORGAN: So, are you still working on comprehending that?
LACEY BUCHANAN: [laughs] Yes, definitely. It’s amazing to think how much God loves us.
VICKI MORGAN: It is. I mean, if we actually look inside ourselves and really come face to face with our own sin, well, it looks pretty ugly. According to the Bible, it says that even our righteousness is like filthy rags to God. But He looks at us and through it all and in spite of it all He loves us anyway.
LACEY BUCHANAN: Right. The Bible says we all fall short of the glory of God. We all have things that we’re dealing with … battles that we’re facing. Sometimes they’re obvious like Christian’s, and sometimes they’re not. But thank God that He loves us, despite that and through that.
VICKI MORGAN: Yeah, and I do thank Him every day for that. It just struck me as we were talking about what is “normal” and what is “healthy,” that I really want your opinion on this. So, being Christian’s mom, are you finding that the words “healthy” and “normal” are a little misleading? Is there really any such thing as “normal” or “healthy” or “special needs,” or is everyone really just a unique and perfect individual in the eyes of God?
LACEY BUCHANAN: Yeah, you know, I always say “normal” is a setting on the dryer. Who gets to say what normal is? You know, it’s sort of a pretty obscure concept, if you will. And, you know, we are all so unique down to our fingerprints, no two people have the same fingerprints and each and every one of us is created by God so uniquely. Yeah, I mean, what is normal? If you were trying to define it, normal is so different for everybody. Christian’s and our life is normal for me. That’s what we live every day. So yeah, I mean, I let God define me and don’t worry about the normal. [laughs]
VICKI MORGAN: Well, Lacey, part of your audiobook, Through the Eyes of Hope, made me choke up quite a bit — the part where God speaks to you quite audibly and says, “You prayed for this child, Lacey. You asked me to let him live. And I did. I gave you a gift, and now you act like it’s a burden.” That just made me go, whoa … what happened there.
LACEY BUCHANAN: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s so easy to get swept away in the pain and those trying moments. I mean, it was painful. We were watching our four-day-old child be taken away to surgery. It was painful. And there’s no sense in trying to say it wasn’t. And it’s easy to just want to blame somebody for our pain and God is an easy target sometimes, if there’s nobody else to blame. But when you reallybegin to understand the character of God and know that He doesn’t change and He is one-hundred percent good and one-hundred percent love, it makes you look at life in a whole different way. And so if God is good, and He is, then Christian couldn’t be a punishment. That’s not the character of God. And so it really changed everything I knew about myself and about my child and about God.
VICKI MORGAN: But isn’t it true that even before Christian was born, even before you knew if he was a boy or a girl, you had written a note in your journal to Christian and you were saying, “You are my child, and if something’s wrong with you, nothing will change how much I love you.” Seems like you were foreshadowing what was coming, but you had no idea.
LACEY BUCHANAN: Yeah, I call it one of those God-wink moments. Long before I ever knew that I would be the mother to a special needs child, I wrote that in a little journal, and found it a few years after Christian was born and I hadn’t even thought about it until that point. And it was one of those moments where everything kind of comes together and that was God preparing me for what was to come.
VICKI MORGAN: And so through all this, you’ve received a lot of encouragement through social media … an amazing amount of support, millions of followers. And I get the feeling your supporters are your lifeline. So, knowing that, what would you say to the parents who are sort of embarrassed or afraid to share about their special needs child online? Afraid to post about their special needs child?
LACEY BUCHANAN: Well, God told me a long, long time ago when Christian was very young, not to hide that baby. And I get (I can understand) these feelings of fear of what people are going to think. That’s really why somebody might feel embarrassed. They’re not really embarrassed about their child. They’re embarrassed about what other people are going to perceive and think about their child. And sometimes they do it to protect their child. And sometimes that is necessary. But I really encourage people to think about who they know that their child is and realize that the words of strangers, even strangers who perceive incorrectly … they don’t define your child. And it’s so simple to say, but it’s so hard to put into practice because words do hurt. And we have to remember to let God define who we are and to let Him define our worth because God says we were worth dying for. And I encourage those parents to, you know, just really focus on that and don’t put so much stock into what a stranger might say because it’s probably going to happen. Somebody is going to have something negative to say. But we don’t have to let that define us or decide our direction.
VICKI MORGAN: And that is good advice for everybody. I’m going to ask a difficult question that’s related to this, and I hope you don’t mind. But parents do deal with it every day. It’s bullying. I mean, kids get bullied online. They’re teased about just about everything. And parents will discover compromising pictures of their children being posted to the world online. By their peers! Being as socially media-savvy as you are and the mom of a special needs child, what advice can you give to brokenhearted parents whose children are being bullied online?
LACEY BUCHANAN: I have, sort of, a two-fold rule that I sort of follow when we deal with bullying online. The first thing that I would say to other parents, and it’s something that I try to follow through as well, is take the bullying seriously. You don’t have to ignore it and just let it fester inside of you. It’s okay to stand up for your child, and it’s okay to tell somebody that they’re wrong. You don’t have to shrink back when you’re standing up for your child. And really, if you don’t stand up to these people, it will never stop. They’re just going to move on to their next victim. So I always say take it seriously. I’ve had to report people for threats and things like that and I absolutely will without hesitation. But at the same time, I also would say give grace, give grace, give grace. People are not always going to say things politically correctly. You know, there’s a lot of terminology going around in the special needs community that people outside of that community, they’re probably not privy to it. So, it’s okay if they don’t use the correct language. Give people grace to ask questions and to feel comfortable asking questions, or to say things.
You know, I really try to look at people’s intentions rather than what they actually said. And even with bullies … we’ve had bullies who, you know, they want a reaction, they want to stir me up and make me angry. And they want me to lash out at them so they can send it right back to me, and that’s a never ending volleyball game, back and forth, back and forth. So I always let them know they’re wrong and extend grace and let them know that it’s okay and I’m not upset, and I’m willing to talk with you and have a conversation, but I won’t listen to you call my child names. But if you want to discuss this, let’s discuss this. And I try to open a dialogue. And sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s how I’ve always handle it. And most of the time it seems to be pretty successful.
VICKI MORGAN: Well, that takes a lot of pride swallowing, but coming from you that’s great advice because I know you’ve been bullied and I know you’re facing this. You know, you made a good point. People’s comments don’t define your child, and a lot of people don’t really understand the world of a special needs parent. We’re too busy trying to make sure that our kids are getting straight As in every class, that our kids are dressed just right and we have X amount of friends.
And I don’t want to insult anybody, but it seems petty because when you’ve been allowed to see that each and every child is special just the way they are, then it seems petty to focus on these things. In the Christian community and otherwise, people think that they need to be perfect parents.
LACEY BUCHANAN: Perfect parenting is a myth. It doesn’t exist. And kids don’t need perfection. They need love. And they need love in action. So there are a million ways to be a good parent. And that looks different for everybody. Every kid needs something different. And God chose me to be Christian’s mom, and He chose every other mother out there to be the mother of their child, and that means that He is going to equip you with what you need to do it. And of course we’re never going to be perfect, and that’s okay because that’s what we were talking about in the beginning, God loves us anyway.
VICKI MORGAN: Lacey, there is so much to your story. Through the Eyes of Hope is not just for parents with special needs children; it is for everyone to understand God’s love. And I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this, so is there anything that I missed that you would like to personally share?
LACEY BUCHANAN: I hope that all people of all walks of life will read this book, not just parents of special needs children. And like you said I think there is a deeper message that anybody can resonate, whether they have a special needs child or not. And so I hope that people realize this book is for everyone.
VICKI MORGAN: Well, I agree. I also really regret that we didn’t have a chance to chat about Christian, how he’s doing, what he likes, his fabulous personality. So, if we want to get updates on him and read your blog, join your community, get to know Christian a little bit better, how would we do that?
LACEY BUCHANAN: Well, you can find us on Facebook at Lacey and Christian Buchanan. We’re also on Twitter. And my blog is christianbuchanan.blogspot.com. And you can also learn more about the book at eyesofhopebook.com.
VICKI MORGAN: Well, thank you Lacey. Thank you. Through the Eyes of Hope is a great reminder of God’s love, His patience, His unwavering care for us. And somehow Christian’s story reminds me the Gospel of the love God has for us and expects us to have for others. I think that’s the most important part. And Christian’s story has certainly captured our hearts here at Christian Audio. Thank you so much for your time today!
LACEY BUCHANAN: Thank you so much for having me.
VICKI MORGAN: Get your copy of Lacey Buchanan’s breathtaking new audiobook, Through the Eyes of Hope at christianaudio.com. If you would like a free audiobook each month, just join our mailing list. I’m Vicki Morgan. Thanks for listening!
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