Lindsay Ricks: The Blessing of Parenting a Child With Special Needs

Wed Nov 13 10:00:30 EST 2019
Episode 55

When Lindsay Ricks first heard that her son William would be born with Down Syndrome, her mind was flooded with questions. Seven years later, she has found growth, purpose, and strength in her son’s special needs. William has led her to step out of her comfort zone and to find a new identity in a journey she firmly believes she chose.

As I’ve come to understand who He is, I’ve come to understand who I am and who I’ve always been, and how I’ve been prepared and trained and schooled for this moment my whole life. And I think with His help I will glory in it…
Lindsay Ricks

Find Lindsay’s blog here
Lindsay Ricks’ Instagram

Article: Navigating a Dual Diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism

Website: Apraxia Kids

Sister Hinckley Quote: “I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”

Scripture Reference: Alma 29

Scripture Reference: John 9

TV Show Reference: Madam Secretary

Article: "Daily Experiences Among Mothers of Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder"

Elder Neal A. Maxwell Quote from his talk, "But For A Small Moment": “...The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy, how infinitely greater Jesus’ capacity for joy, when he said, after his resurrection, “Behold, my joy is full.” How very, very full, indeed, his joy must have been!”

President Gordon B. Hinckley Quote: “With the ever-increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things.”

Speech: Douglas D. Holmes


Morgan Jones 0:00
An estimated 8% to 18% of individuals with Down syndrome may also have autism. William Ricks has both, as well as Apraxia, a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for him to speak. To her son William, Lindsay Ricks once wrote, "You have taught me not to give up; to offer smiles even during the hardest of times. You have taught me compassion, love and patience. You have turned my life upside down and inside out and forced me out of my comfort zone."

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Lindsay Ricks graduated from Brigham Young University in public relations and business. She served a mission in Santiago, Chile, before working as an event planner in Washington D.C. Lindsay and her husband, Dan, reside in Oakton, Virginia and are the parents of four children: three boys and one girl.

This is "All In" An LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, "What does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" I'm Morgan Jones and I am so honored to have my friend Lindsay Ricks here with me today. Lindsay, welcome.

Lindsay Ricks 1:16
Thank you.

Morgan Jones 1:17
Well, before we start, I have to tell people I have known Lindsay since I was a little girl. And I've always looked up to you, even before you had William, which is what we're going to be talking about today. I've admired you and looked up to you and so I'm just so excited to introduce people to you.

Lindsay Ricks 1:35
Thank you so much. It's good to be here. I kind of feel like a mule at the Kentucky Derby considering all of the incredible people that have been on this podcast so far, like Sheri Dew and Anne Romney, but it's good to be here.

Morgan Jones 1:48
You're not a mule, first of all. Let's get that out of the way (laughter). So as we kind of get going in this conversation, you have how many kids?

Lindsay Ricks 1:58
I have four children.

Morgan Jones 2:00
So it's three boys one girl, right?

Lindsay Ricks 2:02

Morgan Jones 2:02
And William is your second.

Lindsay Ricks 2:05

Morgan Jones 2:06
And William was born with several different special needs. Can you give us a brief synopsis of the last seven years that you've had with William in your family?

Lindsay Ricks 2:16
Yeah. So, really the story does start about seven years ago when my husband and I were excited to welcome a second child into our family. I was 20 weeks pregnant and we went in for our level two ultrasound, which is where the doctors measure every part of the baby's body, at least as much as they can. And we were just excited to find out what the gender of the baby was. I think a good word to describe my state of being was naive. Things have always gone easy in my life and according to schedule, and at that appointment, we found out that our son had a hole in his heart and it would require open-heart surgery soon after birth. And they said that this type of heart defect was very common in babies with Down syndrome, and asked had we done any screening. And we hadn't because the screenings were not accurate at that time, things have changed a lot since then. Even a sister-in-law got a false positive and so we just didn't want to do any screening because we were going to keep the baby regardless. But since there was a really high probability that this baby had Down syndrome—I'm a planner, and I like to know everything that I can beforehand—and so we did an amniocentesis, which was 100% accurate. I don't know if people know what it is, it's when they go in and they extract amniotic fluid out of your stomach and the baby's DNA is in there. And they found out that he had Down syndrome and told us about a week later. So it's just been an interesting experience, to say the least, very colorful since then. He was born 20 weeks later, I was full-term, but the problems started immediately and everything was just crazy. I mean, I don't even have the words to like describe it. I know many people have been in my shoes and it's hard to adequately articulate exactly your feelings and what's going on. But he was in and out of the hospital for the better part of a year. And his second year of life was probably my favorite. He was just healthy and he was happy. His first birthday was just a celebration of life. We couldn't believe that he made it through. Then a couple years later, we found out that he had autism—he was diagnosed with autism. His preschool teachers came up to me and said, "We love having William in our classroom," it was in the public school, "but we just don't have the resources and the hands to really help him and do what he needs. We think that he would do better in an autism classroom." And I remember saying to her, "Autism? My son has Down syndrome. He doesn't have Autism." And they said, "We don't know, but we just think that the methodology and how we teach the kids with autism would better suit William." And so we said, "Okay." Again, I just wanted to know. Regardless of what classroom he was in, I wanted to know, well, does he or doesn't he? And we got a diagnosis a couple months later that he also had autism and apraxia, which is just another delay and motor planning. And so he's got a very colorful life, like I said, and I think it was hard because I don't know anybody that has a son, or a child with all of these things. And so it's been really good experience for me.

Morgan Jones 5:46
So Lindsay, as you've dealt with this, you've had a lot of unexpected experiences. And so what have you learned over this process about dealing with the unexpected?

Lindsay Ricks 5:58
Well, when I first found out about William, there were two big things that happened that helped me deal with this bombshell that was just thrown in my lap. My first gut reaction to when I found out about William was, "I've done something wrong." Maybe I forgot to take my prenatal vitamins, or maybe I didn't eat enough fruits and vegetables, or I didn't exercise as much, or I exercised too much. And then I started thinking, "What about my husband? And what is he going to think? And I feel bad because I don't think he thought that I was going to give him a child with special needs, and how is that going to work out? And how's my family going to handle it?" And I knew my family would handle it well, but I think up until that point, I had been known in our community, in areas, "Lindsay Rick's," they would have said then, "she was the Mormon girl." But now they would say, "she's the member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints." But I think now, and I realized this then, that if people were talking about me in a circle and they said, "Oh, do you know Lindsay Rick's?" "No, I don't know who she is." "Oh, she's the one, you know, she's got the child with Down syndrome." "Oh, I know who she is." I think that that's how people would know me. It was just kind of a new identity. So I didn't know what to do with that. And so that part of the unexpected was really hard. It was this mixed bag of emotions. And then on top of that, I was so devastated. And then I just thought, "My baby can hear me." He can hear and I don't know where his spirit is, but if he's aware that I'm like, devastated at him coming into our family, it was like adding insult to injury. And so like, how do you deal with that? And I have an aunt that called me and said, "Lindsay, I was in sacrament meeting and had this little vision of you and William that I wanted to share with you," and she said, "I kind of had this glimpse into the premortal life, and I feel like you knew William and you wanted him in your family, and you called dibs on him and you told everybody to back off, that he was yours." And when she said that, I mean, I still get emotional thinking about it, tears just welled up into my eyes. And I just felt like I chose this. This is not Heavenly Father doing something to hurt me. This was a choice and I feel like I did do that. I feel like I would do it now. You know, everybody, he is mine back off. He's coming to my family. That's just my personality. And so when I understood there's a plan to this, there was a purpose. I wouldn't have just wanted him willy nilly into my family. I was an event planner before I started having children and I knew that this was integral into part of my plan. And so that was a big thing for me—is knowing that I wanted this. So every time things have gotten hard and difficult and the unexpected have happened, I've just thought, "I chose this and I wanted this for a reason." I love that quote from Sister Hinckley that talks about how she doesn't want to drive up to heaven with her hair perfectly done, and her nails all done. She wants to drive up with peanut butter on her skirt and kisses on her cheeks, and dirt under her fingernails from helping the neighbor garden. And she wants the Lord to know that she really lived. So I think that I am the same way, I don't think I wanted a life living in the Garden of Eden where things were just easy. I think that I wanted to get my hands dirty. And so I think that that was a turning point in my life.

But then the other part is in Alma 29, I remember reading it and in the first nine verses, it talks about this transformation that Alma has. He first starts out with saying, "Oh, that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart." He wanted something that he wasn't. He wanted to have a voice as a trump and declare to repentance. But then he says in a couple of verses later, "But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me." And I think I felt the same way. I mean, I'm definitely not perfect, I have really bad days. But I think that I need to be content with the things that the Lord has allotted of me because there's a purpose in it. And then a couple of verses later, he says, "I'm going to glory and what the Lord has given me," and "He gives me according to my desires." And so for me, I think that I desired William. And he gives us according to our desires, but he said, "I glory in what I have." So in these short nine verses, you see this transformation of him wishing he had a different life, but then being okay with what he was allotted, and then somehow finding so much joy in what he's been given. So I think I'm learning to make lemonade out of lemons, and I think that that's the trick of it. And I think that our Heavenly Father is so loving. The experiences and trials that we're dealt, they are tailor-made and customed to bring us the most happiness and joy. So I think, for me, that's helped each time I've encountered something crazy. You know, and I have three other kids and trying to manage all that they have, but it's like I said, it's really good for me and I'm finding so much joy in what I do.

Morgan Jones 11:54
Yeah, there are so many things that you said that I think teach important principles. The first being when you talked about questioning "What did I do wrong?" It reminds me that story in the scriptures where the parents of the blind man say, "Who hath sinned, he or his parents?" And I think it's so important to recognize that it's not the result of something having gone wrong. It's the result of something having gone right; that God's plan is being made manifest through this. So I think that's a beautiful thing that you taught. I love the idea of seeing this change over time in Alma. I wonder, Lindsay, as you've kind of gone through this, how has your relationship with God and your prayers changed over time?

Lindsay Ricks 12:45
I think that my prayers are still evolving if I'm honest. I think that my prayers are more constant than once in the morning, a couple of times over food, and once at night. I'm really into the show called "Madam Secretary" right now, it's a political drama. And usually when there's like some crazy thing that's happened in the world, it's like, you know, "Report to the Situation Room," and so she's supposed to go to the Situation Room. And so I, in my prayers throughout the day, I feel like I'm always dealing with an issue, a fire that needs to be put out. I have a son that's got some medical concerns that I'm having to address. Like, it's always something. And so I picture myself, not as if I was Madam Secretary, I'm the president of the united states. And I have this table of professionals and whatever the situation is, I have certain people around my table. So if it's something about William and his medical issue, I have his doctors sitting there, and I have them in my mind giving me reports. But I always have the Spirit and Heavenly Father have a seat. And I always have Elder Bednar have a seat because he's my favorite. And I just play in my mind, what counsel would they give me about this situation? So I mull it over and I try to look at all the aspects and I do it with this prayer in my heart. "Heavenly Father help me sift through this. Help me understand what I should do. If Elder Bednar were here right now, what would he tell me to do? If my mother were here if my husband were here, what would they share with me?" So I think that my prayer is an all-day thing. I know that sounds bizarre but my life is so crazy. I mean, my husband and I, we joke, we feel like we run a McDonald's franchise. We've got three kids in diapers, and we're flipping hamburgers and we're trying to have fun while we sometimes feel like the whole place is burning down. But I feel like I need that sustaining help not only to problem solve, but I need that grace to help me do what I need to do every day. Otherwise, it would just weigh me down.

Morgan Jones 15:12
I love that analogy, the "Madam Secretary" analogy. I think a lot of people who are listening, I think there's probably two different camps: one, people that have had close experiences with parenting a special needs child or loving someone who has special needs. On the other hand, I think that you have people that want to be of support to those people, but don't have any idea what it's like. And so I kind of want to talk to both groups. First of all, Lindsay, for those who have never had this experience, what are some things that people might not even think of that a family going through this phase?

Lindsay Ricks 15:59
You know, I read an article not too long ago that said that they did a research study on moms of kids with autism and combat soldiers. And they found that the hormone and stress levels of combat soldiers are equal to those of mothers that have kids with autism. And I mean, the thing is, nobody really understands unless you're in it. I have such a supportive family and wonderful community, but unless you live it, it's hard to adequately like articulate exactly what it is, but it's nonstop. I mean, the hardest part with William is he would just scream nonstop. And there's only like so much screaming that you can handle and what were the screamings for? Was he in pain? Probably. Was he frustrated because he couldn't talk? Probably. Was there something else? You know, I told him no, that he couldn't have his iPad? Probably. There are so many things, but it was just nonstop. I couldn't change his diaper easily. He would freak out getting in and out of the bathtub. My husband I, we would joke, maybe I shouldn't say this. People that have seen the show "Dumb and Dumber" and how like Lloyd and Harry, we're talking about the most annoying sound in the world. And they just started screaming and that was like, the most annoying sound and to be able to keep your sanity when it's constant screaming is hard. And then being able to keep your sanity and be able to give something to your other children and your husband and your community is is really hard. The screaming was hard but with William, it's that he's a wanderer, and the special needs term is "eloping." Which at first one I heard I'm like, "What? Is someone getting married?" No one's getting married. It's just the special needs term for when they leave the house or they leave a certain area and they just take off, and William, that's his favorite thing to do. And it is so scary. I remember this one time I was down in the basement with our son Cooper and I usually can hear William somewhere in the house and I couldn't hear him for a little bit. So I said, "Cooper, will you run upstairs and go find William and just make sure he's okay?" And so he ran upstairs and then he came downstairs. He's like, "Mom, Bro—" we call him Bro because when he came home from the hospital, Cooper couldn't say William, so he called him "Bro," and it just stuck. And he said, "Bro is screaming." So I lept out of my chair, ran upstairs, and William had gotten into the garage and he had open up my minivan door and started playing with the buttons. But he had gotten his whole hand stuck in the door. The screaming that I heard from him was awful, devastating. I was sure that he had broken every single bone in his hand, but I think he walks with angels and I think he was protected, he didn't even have a bruise from it. So, it's nonstop with having a child with special needs. But on the flip side, I think that our victories look different than most people's. I think that our lows are lower and our highs are higher, for sure.

Morgan Jones 19:22
I've loved following along, over social media, with kind of this journey that your family has been on. Seeing things like the whole thing with the school bus and how you had to work to get a school bus to come pick him up.

Lindsay Ricks 19:39
Oh my gosh, that's such a long story. And I won't bore people with it. But this bus stop issue, I mean, parting the Red Sea would have been no more miraculous than the fact that the Lord helped me change his bus stop. But then just changing the bus stop was one part, but like getting him on the bus is so hard, and the meltdowns, and I couldn't get him down the driveway, and we couldn't get him up the stairs on the bus. For Fairfax County, you can't carry a child up the stairs because there's a liability. So he had a lift that he had to go up, and then he got so excited about the lift that we couldn't get him off of the lift. And it's just been one thing after another, but this year, we got him on the big boy bus and he's riding to school with our oldest son Cooper, and seeing him get on the bus every day, just like it's no big deal. I look out of the window and I watch him and I'm filled with so much joy and love for him that he's done something like that. And that was a huge thing for us. That wasn't a small thing that was huge. Brushing teeth is huge. It's taken us years to do that. Getting his haircut. He gets ABA therapy because he has autism and ABA is "Applied Behavioral Analysis" or something. But it's the conditioning that we do. If we want to get his haircut, we first desensitize him to just looking at scissors. Having him be okay with just having scissors in the room, without him having a meltdown. And then once he does that, or you practice it, you let him see scissors for like 10 seconds and then you give him a goldfish because that's his favorite food in the world. And then you show him the scissors again, and then you give them a goldfish. And so you kind of pair this rewards system with it and then the more comfortable he gets and the fewer meltdowns he has, then you start clipping the scissors just so he can hear it. And you have to desensitize him to the sound of that. And so, this all takes months and years and it's still a workout when we get his haircut but, first of all, he looks adorable every time he gets his haircut. And second of all, he's getting there. He's getting there. And so, yeah, our victories look very different but I just want to squeeze him and scream and tell everybody how proud I am of him. It's just, it's different.

Morgan Jones 22:24
Well, I think when you were talking about him getting on the school bus, there's something about interviewing parents I really enjoy, but I think the thing that I enjoy about it is thinking about us. I don't have kids, and so I always think about how we must look to Heavenly Father. And so thinking about Heavenly Father being like, "I'm just so proud that they did this. And this was a hard thing for them." And so I think that that's really, really beautiful. Another thing that I've loved seeing on your social media is the service dog. So William just got a service dog. And you are learning how to—

Lindsay Ricks 23:05
—train this dog. And yes.

Morgan Jones 23:09
And how is it?

Lindsay Ricks 23:10
It's, you know what, it's a miracle. We had our fourth little girl, our fourth child, in January and we were literally, not literally, but spiritually we felt struck by lightning to have this child because we had a full plate already and we didn't feel like we could handle another child. But the Lord made it very clear that there was another child for us, and so we took a leap of faith. This dog, there was this same amount of spiritual lightning that hit us because I'm not a dog person. I never have been and it felt like just one more thing that I had to keep alive. And I kept suppressing it, but there were a series of experiences that happened and the stars were aligned and it was very clear to me that this dog was meant for William and so we found her and she's still at this place that they train dogs. But yeah, we hopefully will get her before Christmas. She's still being trained, and he goes every day and he tries to bond with the dog. He throws the ball and he gives her treats and we hope that this dog will really be a buddy for William. William requires one-on-one attention throughout the whole day. We have to zip him and lock him in a little tent when he sleeps at night. He has to have one-on-one attention and if he doesn't, he really struggles. So I think that this dog will help him with that. The dog will be able to block him if he's walking out somewhere or wandering and we don't want him to go. I'll be able to say block and the dog will get in front of him and prevent him from walking or she'll try and sit on him or whatever. She'll be in charge of William's talker, which he has a communication device, he's nonverbal, but he says "Mama," "Dada," and "Lala" is the name of the dog because he can say Lala. But he can communicate in full sentences on his communication device. So this dog is going to be in charge of keeping that with him. I can't think of a greater gift than to give a child a voice. He can't go up and down the stairs holding the talker, we call it "the talker." And so to have a dog be in charge of that for him, it's going to be like such a gift.

Morgan Jones 25:30
Yeah. So one thing that I've appreciated about this is that they are things that I never would have thought about. So having never experienced this myself, I always think, "Oh, that's something that I never would have considered," and all of those things that you just were talking about, like getting his haircut, I never would have thought of those things. So then for someone, Lindsay, that does have a child with special needs, and let's say there's someone that just had this baby and the baby has special needs and they're dealing with all those emotions that you talked about earlier. What would be kind of your advice to someone in that situation?

Lindsay Ricks 26:14
My advice, it's kind of a President Hinckley advice, he says, "Every new convert should have a friend, a calling, and to be nurtured by the good word of God." And I think that everybody that is in this situation, they need a friend. They don't have to be someone with the same special needs or special needs at all. It could be their husband, it could be somebody else, but you need a friend. You need a calling and not necessarily a calling in the ward, which it could be, but a project or something that gets you out of the day-to-day rigors of the stress and the all-consuming issues that you have. It's nice to kind of come up for air and have a productive distraction. And then the nurturing of the good word of God is the most important. My text was the Book of Mormon, and I feel like the Book of Mormon helped me navigate this special needs world more than any other book. And it's because it's brought me closer to Heavenly Father. Everyone's situation is so different and so you have to get it from the source. You have to get the answers from the source. I think for me and understanding the atonement, it's so comforting to know that the Savior has felt what I feel, especially since I don't know anybody else in my situation. But I think the power that comes from knowing that he felt what I feel and He paid for all of that is that he also was healed from it and so He knows perfectly the steps to take to be able to be healed. So that has kind of created this magnetic force that I feel towards the Savior in wanting to know, "how do I get through this?" "How can I find contentment in the things that have been allotted to me?" Because He knows and so understanding that has been probably the greatest gift that I've received—is being able to need the Savior more than I ever have before.

Morgan Jones 28:36
Lindsay, how has William blessed you and your family? And why do you think that children with special needs are a blessing?

Lindsay Ricks 28:47
So, it goes back to what you were talking about in John 9, how the disciples came to Jesus and they saw this blind man and they said, "Who sinned? This man or his parents?" And Jesus says, "Neither," but the part that I love is, he's blind so that the works of God can be made manifest. So I think, how cool is it that I get to be part of that,in these latter-days, to show the world that there are so many wonderful things about Him. So how William has blessed me— and this is kind of different description and so kind of bear with me—but the lows have been lower, and the highs have been higher, and this whole aspect of opposition has been in full force. And my husband and I, we were in Puerto Rico last week celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.

Morgan Jones 29:41

Lindsay Ricks 29:42
Thank you, we made it. He's been such a wonderful, I mean, I couldn't have done all this without him, too. But in Northern Virginia, it's been so hot in September and so when we were in Puerto Rico, it was hot too. And I like, I couldn't enjoy the heat because I had just come from heat but I know that when spring comes, I am so ready to be so hot. And there's something to be said about being able to enjoy life because of opposition. And I think my food tastes so much better after I've been fasting. And seeing William get on the bus is so much more rewarding and joyful because I've seen how hard it has been. When we brought our first son, Cooper, home from the hospital, he was healthy and he just came home and I took it for granted. And when we had William, I remember seeing all of these families take these perfectly healthy babies home and I just thought, "They have no idea how good they have it." And then, in a weird way, I am grateful for that because, with our third and fourth child, my joy has been so full in being able to bring home these healthy children. Elder Maxwell said, "The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy. How infinitely greater Jesus's capacity for joy when He said after his resurrection, 'behold, my joy is full.' How very very full indeed his joy must have been." And so I think that it's this whole opposition. "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." These issues and struggles that I've had, they've—in a totally roundabout, weird way—have brought me so much more joy because I appreciate so much more. I don't know if that makes sense. But I had this lady—one Saturday, my husband and I, we took our kids to this gym that is specific for kids that have autism. And there's this banner on the side of the wall that says something like, "This is a place where you can have fun and you never have to apologize for being who you are." And there was this mom there with a son who had autism, and I was there with our brand new baby. I mean, she was four months old. And the son came up and just scratched Caroline in her face and she started crying. And I remember seeing this mother and she just lost it. She was devastated and she just felt so bad that her son had just done this to Caroline. And I sat there and I just started crying, and I got up and I gave this woman a hug and I said, "I am so glad that your son just scratched my daughter's face because I've been there and I know what you're going through." Like my capacity to have compassion has increased 100 fold and so why am I not grateful for the things which the Lord hath allotted me? It's brought me so much more purpose, meaning, and fulfillment and joy in my life.

Morgan Jones 33:04
That's powerful. I thank you for sharing that. I think that example is so valuable because we can all think about how we would react in that situation. When you haven't been the mother on the other side, maybe you react very differently, but I think that that's such a great example. I loved something that you wrote previously, you said, "I'd come to church and hear speakers or teachers tell stories when they received the answer that they prayed for, and that miraculously, they received their answer. Yet I wondered what those speakers would say had they not received the answer they prayed for. What then? Would they still acknowledge their prayer was answered?" And you talked about how you've learned things about prayers being answered, and maybe not in the way that we thought, but what have you learned overall—we kind of started this conversation talking a little bit about prayer—and so I'm curious about what you've learned about prayer and miracles as you've gone through all of this?

Lindsay Ricks 34:15
I've learned that the Lord is very aware of us. I know that God knows and has numbered every hair on my head and He has numbered the sands of the sea and there isn't a sparrow that falls from the sky that He doesn't know it. So my prayers have become more meaningful because I need him and I know that man is nothing without Him. I can't do anything and how have my prayers evolved? I am not sure. I mean, I told you about the Situation Room and how I get into that. But how do I justify when my prayers aren't answered? I think I analyze the situation that I'm going through if I feel like I haven't received an answer. That quote that you read is from something that I wrote, and I was talking about my son, William. He was having a heart failure and I was having to run him to the hospital and there was a fork in the road and I had to choose which way to go and I chose one way and it turned to be awful and he was screaming in the back of the car and I literally thought he was going to die. And I remember thinking at that point, "Why wasn't my prayer answered? Like, why did I take the wrong route?" And then I turned around and then went a different way, and of course, every light turned red and everything happened to make it take longer for me to get there. I remember trying to pull into the garage and the parking teller was taking his time and then the car in front of him didn't have any money. And it was just, it was just one thing after another. So when I looked back and I think, "Why didn't I feel him close by?" I think that those times, is when I double down, and I say to myself, "Okay, I need to learn something here." Because if I know that He knows me and every hair on my head and has felt everything that I have felt, there's a reason why I don't feel that answer right now. And so I doubled down and I searched and I study and I try and figure it out. And looking back on that, the things that I have learned from that experience, have shifted my life and my testimony and my alignment with the Lord in a way that I never thought would have been possible otherwise. I learned about submitting my will to His and that His will is always the best and his timing is always perfect.

Morgan Jones 37:09
You mentioned earlier that you love Elder Bednar, I also love Elder Bednar. And you have written some about this talk by Elder Bednar, "That We Might Not Shrink," And I love the example that he gives in that talk, the, "Do you have faith not to be healed?" And so many times we have these things where we're praying for miracles, we want the result that we want. And oftentimes, it actually doesn't work out the way that we thought and the question is, how do we respond in light of that? How have you felt the atonement strengthening and empowering you, as William's mom, maybe to do things that you didn't think you were even capable of doing? I love that you mentioned earlier with the service dog that you're a dog person, I'm not a dog person, and when I watched your video, I was like, "I bet she's not a dog person."

Lindsay Ricks 38:07
I'm not a dog person.

Morgan Jones 38:08
But I admired so much that here you were doing this thing with this service dog that's out of your comfort zone.

Lindsay Ricks 38:14
And I am excited about it now, which is crazy.

Morgan Jones 38:15
Yeah! So how have you seen the atonement giving you abilities to do things that you didn't think, maybe seven years ago, that you were capable of doing?

Lindsay Ricks 38:25
Absolutely. It's the merits, mercy, and grace of the Lord. It's merits, meaning it's His character, and coming to understand that He will help me. He's omniscient, He's omnipotent. He's omnipresent. He loves me, and so in those times that I need him, I know that I can count on him. My confidence in myself has strengthened because my confidence in Him has strengthened. William had a feeding tube the first three and a half years of his life, and I had to place a feeding tube over and over again. Both an NG tube and a G tube, and it was awful. I had to have so much faith in the Lord that, A, He knew how to guide me and that He wasn't a respecter of persons, that He wasn't just hanging out with President Hinckley in heaven. But that my inability to place a feeding tube was important enough for Him that he could give me the grace and the enabling power to be able to do that. And then the mercy side of him is knowing that I'm not perfect and I make so many mistakes, and knowing that the Lord has always had imperfect people to accomplish His purposes and that His mercy is extended to me to cut me some slack, has been so empowering. I think my confidence in myself, like I said, has strengthened but as I've come to understand who He is, I've come to understand who I am and who I've always been, and how I've been prepared and trained and schooled for this moment my whole life. And I think with His help, I will glory in it, and I will do the best that I can to live His will and do what He wants me to do.

Morgan Jones 40:22
Thank you. That reminded me there's a talk that I love. It's a BYU-Idaho devotional. And it was given by brother Douglas Holmes, who's in the young men general presidency, and it's called "God Confidence," and he talks about how nowhere in the scriptures does it talk about self-confidence, and that's something that we teach in our culture over and over and over again, in the world today, "self-confidence, self-confidence." And he talks about how what we really need is God-confidence. And that when we come to know God like you have come to know Him, that's where our confidence comes from. So our confidence is not placed in ourselves, but it's placed in God, and when we understand who He is, then we understand who we are. And I think that's just so incredibly powerful. In conclusion—

Lindsay Ricks 41:11
I think I wanted to share one other thing before we get to the last comment, and that is, what do I love most about having a child with special needs? The thing that I love most is his ability to pull out people's gifts. Whether he is having a meltdown in the store and people stop and they try to help me and I see this side of compassion that strangers are offering to me. Or when he's getting on the bus, the kids at the bus stop all get onto the bus without a problem, but when William gets on, the bus driver lights up and he gets so excited and I know that William brings out the best part in this bus driver. Granted, he pulls out the best and the worst of me, but I think that's where my tutoring is coming from, is he's helping me see what I do well, and he's helping me see what I need to work on. But he's got us a special buddy at church who's assigned just to him and seeing this guy—his name's Aaron Walker, shout out to him—with William is just, I mean, it's unbelievable. So I get to watch William bring out the gifts that everybody has, and it's just overwhelmingly incredible.

Morgan Jones 42:36
That is so cool. I think that's such a beautiful thought. As we wrap up, I just thank you for sharing all of your experiences. I hope that this has been as valuable to other people as it's been for me. But I just think that our experiences are meant to be shared and that we have so much to gain from hearing the experiences of other people. So thank you. Lindsay, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Lindsay Ricks 43:09
For me, what it means to be all in is to drink the bitter cup without becoming bitter, and becoming better. Looking at these "bitter cup" experiences with more purpose instead of why me? It's doing hard things with a smile on our face. It's not just enduring, but enduring well.

Morgan Jones 43:40
Thank you so much.

Lindsay Ricks 43:41
Yes, thanks so much.

Morgan Jones 43:44
We are so grateful to Lindsay Ricks for coming on today's show. You can learn more about Lindsay and her family in today's show notes. A big thank you to Derek Campbell of "Mix at Six" studios for his assistance in creating an enjoyable audio file for you to listen to, and as always, thank you for listening. If you haven't already, please leave us a review on the Apple podcast and know that we read and appreciate each and every one. We'll look forward to being with you again next week.

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