Life Changes

Well, I think this has been the longest time I have gone between posts! So much has happened in between December and now, and I am finally ready to play “catch up!” ūüėČ (I’m starting this writing on the night before Lindsay’s first day of kindergarten, so I might be a bit emotional, as well!)

“Buela” and Lindsay. One of their favorite things to do is sing praise songs together. Every time they do, Lindsay will look up, as if she sees something we don’t. I’m pretty sure she’s entertaining angels.

 

In December, right before Christmas, my parents took our family and my brother’s family on a Disney Cruise!¬† It really was the best time, and it is hard to say who enjoyed it the most!¬† If you know Disney, you know they think of¬†everything,¬†and this was no exception! What’s not to love about being waited on hand and foot for a few days?! ¬†Lindsay enjoyed every minute of it, too, and I might have loved dressing her up in all the Disney outfits! ūüėȬ† Unfortunately, the boys think cruising ought to be a yearly tradition.¬† I have sad news for them, unless they are planning on getting jobs in the near future!

I turned forty in January, and all of my boys made sure to make me feel as old as possible, by decorating the house with “caution” signs, and getting me a cane that squeaks. I still vividly remember my mom turning forty, so I’m not really sure how it happened to me so soon! ūüėČ

In March, we celebrated birthdays,¬† and we celebrated a life well-lived .¬† On March 7, my grandmother, “Granny,” passed away unexpectedly.¬† She was ninety years old, but I think a part of me thought she would outlive us all!¬† I’ll share some of what I wrote to be read at her funeral, but first I want to remember the last time we saw her.¬† We went to a restaurant to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday after church, ¬†on the Sunday before she died. ¬† It was a pretty perfect day.¬† My boys and my nephew had the best time playing outside at the restaurant, and I noticed Granny just soaking it all in.¬† She stayed at the table and entertained Lindsay, and we took her home afterwards. ¬† After she got in the front seat of our van, I noticed she was breathing strangely.¬† I first thought she was laughing, but soon discovered ¬†she was trying to catch her breath.¬† She seemed to be okay after awhile, and even joked around about wondering if she were going to outlive her dog, or vice versa. ¬†(By the way, he‚Äôs now living with us, and we call him ‚ÄúGreat Uncle Beau.‚ÄĚ )ūüėāūüėā ¬†I helped Granny up the stairs of my parents’ house and made sure she got in okay.¬† Most importantly, I put her “take-home” box of banana pudding in the refrigerator for her to enjoy later. ¬†ūüėČūüėČ

Fast forward two days, and I got a phone call from my mom late in the evening letting me know that she thought she’d “lost” Granny.¬† A lot happened in between that call and when she peacefully went to heaven, but the following is some of what I wrote for her funeral:

“Always be kinder than you feel.” Those words are written on a huge print in my house, but if you know my Granny-these are the words she lived by.¬† She had a gift for ALWAYS being kinder than she felt.¬† She had a way of making you feel as though you were the most special, important person in the room.¬† Most importantly, she was devoted to prayer.¬† That was her answer for everything.

Granny LOVED our children.¬† When I had Carter and Cason, she would come over to rock them, help feed them, iron clothes, vacuum my house-just whatever needed to be done.¬† She loved to watch them as they’ve gotten older.¬† She would get so “tickled”¬† at some of the things they’d say and do. She had a special connection with Lindsay Ruth.¬† I feel certain that when we learned of Lindsay’s diagnosis, Granny prayed more than anyone. Every Sunday at church, she would just sit and grin at her and her sweet brothers.¬† I know she still is.¬† Granny taught us all how to choose joy, no matter the circumstance.

When Mom called me Tuesday night, she said, “Laura, I think I might have lost Granny.” It didn’t register at first–I thought, “It’s late. Isn’t she usually asleep by now?¬† Where did you lose her? Where have you looked? She couldn’t have gotten very far.”¬† After all, she had seemed fine earlier in the day.¬† Now that I know what she meant, I realize it’s not true at all.¬† We didn’t lose her.¬† She’s not lost.¬† She’s exactly where she’s always longed to be. She’s rejoicing in heaven!

¬† ¬† ¬†When Carter and Cason turned eleven on March 20, I think I still expected Granny to call and do her famous rendition of Happy Birthday!¬† I am forever grateful, though, that they got to know her, and that she got to know and love Lindsay.¬† Every time I would update this blog, Granny would have my mom print it out, so her “old eyes” could read it¬† with her huge magnifying glass!

As we know all too well, life goes on. ¬†The boys “graduated” onto middle school in May, and Lindsay finished preschool.¬† We spent much of our summer at the pool, which is quite possibly Lindsay’s favorite place!¬† There, she can get out of her chair and just be a kid.¬† She absolutely loves being in the water and splashing for hours.¬† Each year as she gets a little older and grows a little more, she obviously gets a few more stares in her direction. I observed something very interesting at the pool this summer, though.¬† While some children would just glance at her, look away, and go on with whatever they were playing, some would automatically sit down beside her and try to engage her.¬† Mostly, I would just sit to the side and watch the interaction, only speaking up if I felt it necessary.¬† Sometimes I might explain to them that they can talk to her, but she would not be able to answer them. ¬†On one occasion, a little girl asked me if it would be okay for her and her friend to splash Lindsay, because they noticed how much she likes it! I was just fascinated by how it comes naturally to some children to be inclusive, and that most really don’t care so much about what makes them different.

On the other hand, as she is getting older and getting more “stares,” I see how much it bothers her brothers.¬† I’ve sort of had to learn to develop a tough ‚Äúshell,‚ÄĚ in order to not break down¬† when I notice others, noticing her.¬† A few times this summer, kids would just come right out and ask, “What’s wrong with her?” “Why can’t she walk/talk?” I usually explain that she is still learning, and that’s how she was made, but the boys sort of freeze if someone asks them. ¬†When ¬†we were putting Lindsay back in her wheelchair one day, a girl who was around the boys‚Äô age asked Carter what was wrong with her, and why couldn’t she just stand up.¬† I waited to see if he would answer, but saw the shocked look on his face and decided I should probably step in.¬† I gave a short explanation to the girl, but Carter just couldn’t seem to let it go.¬† He kept saying how rude it was for her to ask, etc.¬† I explained to him that instead of looking at it that way, he could use it as an opportunity to educate others. Unfortunately, that won’t be the last time someone asks, and folks don’t always have the kindest way with words. ¬†ūüėē ¬†Later that evening, Carter said, “I should have told that girl that nothing is wrong with Lindsay.¬† She just wishes she had a sister that cute!” He‚Äôs also started saying that Lindsay has, ‚Äúspecial abilities,‚ÄĚ rather than ‚Äúspecial needs.‚ÄĚ I agree.

One of our last days of going to the pool this summer, a lady approached me and told me that she and her children had been watching me and the boys with Lindsay all last summer.¬† She noticed how sweet they were with her and how they just did whatever needed to be done.¬† She then told me that she had lost a baby after 8 weeks, some time ago, and has since adopted several children.¬† She had sensed that God was calling her to adopt a child with special needs for quite some time.¬† (The child she lost had been born with a very rare syndrome, as well.) She said after seeing us at the pool one day last year, she called her husband and told him that she was ready to begin the adoption process again.¬† ¬†She and her kids had watched how much my boys love Lindsay, and they just felt that they could give that love to a special child.¬† You can imagine the looks on our faces as she was relaying all of this to us.¬† She then introduced us to her newly adopted daughter, who happens to have Down Syndrome.¬† I mean, I didn’t even know what to say to her.¬† To think that we were just carrying on with what we think is “normal,” and we had no clue what God was doing.¬† We didn’t do anything.¬† We were just at the right place at the right times.¬† Don’t think for a second that He can’t take your everyday, “messy, normal,” life and do something beyond your comprehension with it.¬† I’m telling you, my girl may not walk or talk, but God is using her story to reach many we may never even meet.

Probably my favorite thing about this summer was the “Tri My Best Triathlon,” that Lindsay participated in, with Carter and Cason as her kid buddies and Miss Kaeleigh, as her adult buddy. ¬†Cason saw a pamphlet advertising the event at Lindsay’s therapy clinic and brought it home to read. ¬†He kept saying that he and Carter should ¬†do the race with Lindsay, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for all three of them. ¬†It really was the neatest thing I’ve witnessed in as long as I can remember!¬† Every participant had a buddy or two to assist them in completing the swim, bike, and run events.¬† For Lindsay, the swim portion meant that Carter tied a raft around his waist, and pulled her in it, while Cason swam behind helping guide. ¬†The biking portion consisted of both boys taking turns pushing her in an adaptive tricycle.¬† Finally, the running portion included the boys both running around the track, while pushing Lindsay in her wheelchair.¬† The best part of the day, and the part I still get tears over every time, is when the three of them were about to cross the finish line.¬† The boys had discussed prior to the race that they wanted to get Lindsay out, and assist her in actually walking across the finish line instead of pushing the wheelchair across.¬† I have watched the video of the finish countless times, and every time¬† I notice something different.¬† While they were still running the track, the D.J. was playing the song, “We are Family.” As soon as they got Lindsay out to finish, the song, “All By Myself,” started playing.¬† Oh my.¬† I think time stood still for just a moment, while I watched my boys help Lindsay out of her chair.¬† Carter made sure she stood up, and Cason got down on his knees, and literally took each of her ankles in his hands to “walk” them past the finish.¬† Right as she crossed the line, Lindsay looked up and gave the biggest grin!¬† It was as if she were so proud of what she’d just done, and I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of a lot of our lives.

Miss Kaeleigh and Lindsay

The last leg of race, running to, “We are Family!”
Getting ready to cross the finish line!
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ‚Äú II Corinthians 12:9-10.

A song I’ve been hearing frequently on the radio is called, “Life Changes.” It talks about how quickly things change, and how we can wake up one day and nothing is the same.¬† We’ve had so many¬† changes over the last year, and I know that will only continue.¬† The biggest one I’m currently experiencing is that Lindsay is turning six and has already started kindergarten.¬† When I went to take her in for her kindergarten assessment, it was almost comical.¬† Carter and I were sitting in the hall, listening to her giggle her way through her meeting with her teachers.¬† I looked around and noticed all of the other mothers that were anxiously waiting while their children were “performing” for their teachers.¬† This time around kindergarten is much different than when I took my two boys six years ago.¬† Most parents are hoping their children know all of their sight words and are already reading.¬† ¬†I’m just hoping my daughter is loved and that the other children will be kind to her.¬† Of course, I’ll be thrilled if she gains some new skills toward independence, but I’ll take “loved” and “accepted.”

We’re only a few days into kindergarten, but I can just tell that Lindsay is so happy!¬† I wrote a little book that I went and read to her class about her in order to answer any questions they might have. My favorite question from a little boy ¬†after I had finished reading was, “Can she run?”¬† Maybe not now, but there will come a day when everything that holds her back here on earth will disappear. I can only imagine!ūüôĆūüŹĽ

I’m obviously going through a pretty huge adjustment period, but I know I’ll eventually get used to this new “normal.”¬† I have been delivering groceries on the side for almost a year now, so hopefully, I’ll get to do that some more.¬† It’s a fun job that allows me to do a little something for myself and meet new people!¬† When you are so used to taking care of someone every second of the day, it feels really strange to all of a sudden not have every minute occupied!¬† Thank you for continuing with us on this journey, as we learn and grow through so many of our life changes.¬† And, Happy 6th birthday to the most beautiful little girl in the world!

I might have gone overboard on the unicorn theme!

I recently purchased this necklace for several reasons…Another Pitt Hopkins‚Äô mom has created a t-shirt/accessory line, where the proceeds go directly to fund research for our kiddos. They only had 10 of these necklaces made, which include the logo for Pitt Hopkins. I wear it everywhere! To see some of her designs, or to have something unique made, her website is http://rareitees.org ūüėä

 

Until next time,

Laura

It’s a ‘Wonder’ Full Life

I’ll go ahead and give fair warning…if you don’t care for “raw” and “real,” you may want to stop reading now! ūüėČWhen I decided a few years ago to share some of our journey, I realized that transparent is the only way I know how to be.¬† Somehow it’s just easier to be painfully honest in writing¬†since it doesn’t¬†require¬†us¬†to see each other’s “ugly cries,” if we don’t want to. ūüėä I’ve had some things on my mind lately and thought I might actually blog about them at some point, but something kept telling me I might want to see the movie, “Wonder,” first.¬† Boy, am I glad I did!¬† It addressed so many of the things I’ve been thinking on and possibly worrying about a little too much.

Pitt Hopkins Awareness Day

I’ll admit, I broke my rule with the boys about having to finish reading a book first, before seeing the movie.¬† I had also promised them we would see¬†“Wonder” over Thanksgiving break, and we didn’t get as far into the book as we had planned before¬†the break¬†was almost over.¬† For those who haven’t seen it yet, I promise I won’t give too much away!¬† If you’ve seen the previews, though, you probably have a pretty good idea of the story.

Before we get to the movie, I should explain what has been on my mind so much lately.¬†¬†The¬†reality is hitting me that Lindsay will start kindergarten next year.¬†¬†She’s been in preschool for almost three years¬†now, but we are about to enter a whole new world.¬† Since she is in a county that believes in¬†complete “inclusion”¬†in the classroom, that means she will be¬†in a typical kindergarten class.¬† Back in my teaching¬†days, I¬†would have thought this was ideal.¬† Now that we are talking about my child, it’s a new ballgame.¬† Of course, I want her to be included, and I think having “typically developing” peers is essential.¬† What I worry about,¬†though,¬†is Lindsay being the child that everyone whispers about and no one wants to get to know. I can’t even type that without the tears¬†beginning.¬† I wonder things like, what will she be doing when everyone else is learning to read and write? How¬†distracting will it be to her classmates when she starts “singing” in her sweet little voice, at the¬†top of her lungs? What will she do when all of the other kids are running and playing games at P.E.? Will everyone stare at her in the cafeteria, when she has to have help feeding herself? The list goes on and on. I’ve had many parents tell me that all of the kids will love her, and they will just get “used” to having a child with¬†disabilities in their classroom.¬† That sounds wonderful and all, but when your child is the one everyone must get “used” to, ¬†it’s¬†beyond painful.

Watching her favorite shows!

I’ve never been a crier in movies, but that changed about a few minutes into watching “Wonder.”¬† Of course, I felt for the little boy, “Auggie,” when he realized¬†that because of his severe facial deformities, people¬†often wouldn’t look at him, or would do the oh-so-familiar, look quickly and then look away. Even worse, people would¬†just come right out and ask him what happened to his face. ¬†(Sort of like¬†the lady yesterday, who looked at Lindsay and asked, “What’s wrong with her?” ¬†Once I’d had a few minutes to digest what she said, I really wish I had answered, “What do you mean?” It’s hard enough when children ask these questions, but can we please agree that as adults, that is never an okay question to ask?) I hurt¬†for the boy in the movie, that he was fully aware and had to endure the¬†stares and comments.¬† Then, I¬†became overwhelmed¬†with thoughts of gratitude, first, that Lindsay most likely won’t know if others are talking about her.¬† A few seconds later that gratitude turned into heartbreak, that she most likely won’t realize others are staring and/or talking about her.

Teaching Lindsay to arm wrestle!
I thinks she likes herself!
Sweet little “Poppy” at therapy.

I am not the first parent to have a child with disabilities, nor am I the first parent to worry every day over all of the unknowns.¬† All I can do, though, is speak from my experiences.¬† When¬†I watched this movie with my boys, I thought it certainly should be required viewing for every school-aged child and¬†his or her¬†parents.¬† I honestly think that for the most part, we tend to maybe avoid eye contact with those who may be seen as different because we don’t know what to do.¬† The na√Įve part of me wants to believe that, because I simply cannot justify that anyone would purposely choose to either avoid or make fun of someone because of something that makes them unique.¬† I think so many things in the movie were huge eye openers, not only for me, but¬†also for my boys, as¬†they realized more than ever how important it is to choose to be kind.

I met my lifelong friend for lunch the other day, and she said something¬†I hadn’t ever¬†really considered before¬†that might have caused a few tears for both of us.¬† I’m sure I mentioned something about¬†wishing Lindsay could talk, etc., and she said, “I really¬†think you are¬†her voice.”¬† I think she might be right.¬† Until she is able to effectively communicate one day, (and I believe that she will) I am her voice.¬† So as hard as it is to watch her slowly achieve “inchstones,” (I know most people have milestones, but we have “inchstones,‚ÄĚ over hereūüėČ) that’s exactly what I will be.¬† As much as I wish weeks weren’t filled with therapies to learn to be able to use one finger to push a button, learn to put one foot in front of the other to take a single step, communication devices to tell us what she wants, and school assessments that are too painful to look at, I will keep doing it.¬†¬†As long as she needs me to explain to others why she’s riding in a “princess carriage” to get from place to place, I will keep explaining.¬† If she needs me to continue to¬†ask people to move out of the way so we can get somewhere in her carriage, I will gladly do that, too!ūüė¨

“Boys…You probably shouldn’t leave your math lying around if you don’t want me to eat it!”

I asked both Carter and Cason what the most important thing was that they¬†learned from “Wonder.”¬† Cason immediately said he liked the quote, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”¬† Yes, please.¬† Always.¬† Carter said he learned to not be afraid to be yourself.¬† I couldn’t agree more. I learned so many things, but it stuck with me how much the issues with Auggie affected his sister.¬† Since he had been born with so many problems, she sort of learned to suppress her feelings and to just keep things to herself.¬† Of course, as I watched, I thought of the boys and how our day-to-day must¬†affect them.¬† Almost immediately, though, I realized just how proud of them I am, too. ¬†I learn so much about how I want to be by watching how they treat their sister, when they don’t even know I’m looking. ¬†They just “get” it.¬† When Carter felt so bad because Lindsay hadn’t ever been¬†trick-or-treating and created that experience for her, it blew me away.¬† He set up houses for her to visit, carried her to each house, and gave her his best candy.¬† When Cason tells her how cute she is, wants to know¬†exactly what she worked on in therapy or what she did at school that day, I cannot help but be grateful. ¬†When Carter could choose to write a poem about anyone for school and he chose his sister, he demonstrated the fact that he is not afraid to express how he feels about her¬†in front of his friends.¬† Just recently, the sweet lady who sits behind us at church told me, “Every Sunday I watch each of them take care of her and her little needs.¬† They do things they wouldn’t necessarily have to do, but it’s things that make her moment better.¬† The boys don’t do it to be seen, just comes naturally.¬† They have no idea they are being observed.”¬†Thank you, God, for making their ten year old hearts so tender. And thank you, Lindsay, for being¬†the¬†exact teacher they need.‚ėļÔłŹ

“Trick-or-Treating!”
Carter’s poem he wrote for school.ūüė≠
Who needs to walk, when you can be carried?‚ėļÔłŹ

.

In my perfect world, we would all do things not to be seen, but because it is the right thing to do.¬† We would be so used to “choosing kind,” that it would be second nature to us. We would be like the Publix I was in the other day¬†that had two employees with Down Syndrome, feeling acknowledged and valued, as they happily bagged groceries and carried on conversations with each person who came through their lines. Disabilities would be invisible.

Dress up days for school might be my favorite!

If there‚Äôs one thing that gives me comfort in this life we’re living, it‚Äôs that as unfair, exhausting, and frustrating¬†as it may feel sometimes, there is One who knows just how I feel. He watched as his Son was ridiculed, spat on, denied, belittled, and ultimately sacrificed, for me. For you.¬† I can’t begin to fathom that.

(Isaiah 53:3-5) We despised him and rejected him; he endured suffering and pain.¬† No one would even look at him-we ignored him as if he were nothing.¬† “But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne.¬† All the while we thought this suffering was sent by God.¬† But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did.¬† We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.”

What a ‚ÄúWonder‚ÄĚ full¬†life we are living, as our pain pales in comparison to the pain our Heavenly Father chose to endure. ¬†Our trials don‚Äôt even begin to compare to what He suffered for us, simply because of His Amazing love. ¬†And so as Lindsay continues to teach us, we are hopefully able to help others in some¬†small way¬†through¬†what we‚Äôre learning.

Until next time…

Laura

 

On Turning Five, and Other Random Thoughts!

The birthday girl!
“Helping” at physical therapy!
My favorite girl!

Well, it’s been so long since I’ve updated Lindsay’s blog, that I forgot my password to even get on the site!¬† Of course we’ve had no shortage of “busy-ness” in our lives,¬†and despite all of the negatives associated with social media, it at least allows me to keep some sort of photo album! ¬†In the last several months, we have “graduated” 4th graders from the school they’ve attended since kindergarten, spent countless hours getting the house we lived in for 16 years ready to sell, squeezed every last drop out of summer¬†fun, attended physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech¬†with Miss Lindsay,¬†gone to¬†IEP meetings for the school Lindsay has been in for two years as well as at her new school, sold the old house, all three kiddos have started new schools, and we¬†just celebrated Lindsay’s 5th birthday!¬† Needless to say, we have had a¬†lot going on,¬†and some pretty huge changes.

4th grade graduates!
Visiting Lindsay’s old room for the last time!
Our second home this summer!

In whatever the season of life I find myself, I notice that I almost always go through a little period of “mourning” the season that has just ended.¬† For example, I get a little sad each year when school ends for the summer. I¬†go through the same thing when it starts again in the fall.¬† I guess it’s the same for any major life change.¬† I¬†get comfortable in whatever our little routine is at the time, and then I am sad to see it go.¬† It was especially difficult at the end of the last school year, because I¬†knew all three kids would be changing schools.¬† We’ve spent the last five years at the boys’ school, and the last two years at¬†Lindsay’s.¬†¬†Not only was I hesitant about how they would do in a new environment, trying to make new friends, and just¬†adjusting to all of the¬†differences, I was apprehensive¬†for how I would handle it all as well.¬† At Lindsay’s previous school, her teachers and therapists knew her well.¬† They knew what made her laugh, what made her upset, when she just didn’t want to do something versus when she didn’t feel well, etc.¬† When you have a nonverbal child, someone knowing and loving her is everything.

As many of you may know, IEP meetings for children with special needs are never the most fun experience. So having two within a matter of months was not exactly ideal. I felt pretty good when I left the first¬†one at Lindsay’s previous school at the end of the year. I thought¬†we would just have a short meeting with the new school system¬†for the second IEP¬†and possibly change a thing or two. What I did not take into account is how difficult it would be to basically “introduce” Lindsay to a whole new set of teachers and therapists.¬† I remember leaving the meeting early in the summer and bursting into tears once I got in the car. (I might have also cried a time or two in the meeting! ūüė¨) It wasn’t that the team of people weren’t incredibly kind and knowledgeable, but I left thinking to myself, “Can Lindsay do ANYTHING?”¬† When you are asked numerous questions such as, “How does she get your attention if she needs help?”¬† “Which hand is more dominant when she is making a choice?” “Does she have any words?”¬† The list goes on and on, but, when most of your answers are, “I don’t know,” and, “She really doesn’t,” it makes for a very long and emotional day.¬† And somewhere in the midst of all of those emotions, it’s easy to feel like a failure.¬† I remember thinking, “Why don’t I know the answers to some of those questions?”¬† “Should I be doing more of this or that?”¬† I was also imagining the looks on the teacher’s and therapists’ faces after we left. I’m sure they were wondering if I knew anything at all.

Getting ready for a communication device evaluation!
#teamwork

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you might know that I have mentioned that as Lindsay gets older, it will be more obvious to others that she is not developing typically.¬† For the first several years, it may not have been so¬†noticeable to those who didn’t really know her. There’s always that awkward silence now when someone asks me how old she is.¬† Do I follow up with, “But, she has special needs?”¬† Sometimes I might, and sometimes¬†I just really don’t feel like it.¬† I mean…she’s five, right?¬† That’s all they asked.¬† If someone asks me how old the boys are, I don’t usually answer with their age and another “fun” fact about them. ¬†Some of you may have seen that she also has a wheelchair for transport now, (which we like to call her carriageūüĎćūüŹľ) and I would be lying to say it doesn’t sting a little each time we get extra stares in our direction.¬† When I took the boys into their new school on the first day a few weeks ago, I was already feeling all kinds of emotions.¬†¬†As I was walking back out to the car and¬†pushing Lindsay in her chair, I heard a little girl ask her mother, “Why does she gots that?”¬† I sped up, because I honestly didn’t want to hear her mom’s answer.¬† On the day of Lindsay’s school Open House, I couldn’t help but notice all of the other children following the directions and making a little craft with their parents.¬† I kept looking around, hoping she wasn’t the only one in a chair or the only one with special needs.¬† I also noticed how a lot of adults either don’t make eye contact at all, or don’t really have anything to say to the mom pushing the wheelchair! (By the way, after I was telling some of my family about the things people say about Lindsay/the wheelchair, my father-in-law came up with a great response.¬† He said the next time someone asks why she has one I should answer with, “It came with her!”)¬† I just love that answer, and I might have to use it!!

1st day of her new school!

Now, please don’t hear me as having a “pity party” for myself.¬† I just know that before we were met with the challenges we face on a daily basis, I’m sure I was the¬†one who avoided uncomfortable situations.¬† I probably felt that things like this only happen to other people.¬† I imagine everyone who faces pain, loss, difficulty, etc., once felt that way, too.¬† When you suddenly become the “other people,” though, your perspective on a lot of things begins to change. Until you experience being “the other,” it’s difficult to understand. ¬† One thing in particular that weighs on my mind lately is anytime I see a person holding a sign wanting help on the side of the road.¬† Instead of doing as I have often done, looking the other way and making my judgment-I start to think about Lindsay. What if that were her? ¬†We are often so quick to say, “Well, they could just get a job.” Could they? Can she one day? I just don’t know.¬† I do know that she has every advantage, because she just happened to be born to parents who will go to the ends of the earth to get her what she needs.¬† Not everyone has that. Some are stuck in a cycle they are not equipped, either mentally or physically, to escape.¬† Having her has challenged the way I view everything, such as how quickly I can form an opinion on how someone else “could” or “should” do something. She’s made me want to be a little more patient, a little more forgiving, a lot more loving, and a little less harsh, when I am not in another person’s shoes.¬† I KNOW that regardless of whether I wanted to learn these things the way I’ve had to, I desperately needed to learn them.

I also know that God doesn’t love like I do. He doesn’t pick and choose.¬† He loves us all. Even the “others.” Especially the “others.” ūüôā ¬†He doesn’t love the “typically developing” child more than He loves Lindsay.¬† He doesn’t love the people of¬†my country more than He loves those born in any other country. He doesn’t love the person with a large bank account more than the one living paycheck to paycheck. ¬†He doesn’t love the parents of the child whose life was spared more than the parents who lost a child. He doesn’t even love the Christian more than He loves the one who doesn’t believe in Him.¬† He loves and pursues us ALL.

Trying out some wheelchair basketball!
Long day!

I don’t need to look any further than my own children to get a glimpse of how God loves. It’s unconditional. The boys think Lindsay’s wheelchair is the coolest thing ever and have already come up with all kinds of games they can play in it. They fight over who gets to push her around in it, and both wanted to push her to their classrooms the first day of school. ¬†The three of them can make each other laugh, even on the worst days. In Carter’s “All About Me” presentation for school, he chose to talk about Lindsay and Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, on one of his slides. ¬† Cason tells her all the time that she is the cutest girl in the whole world. ¬†(And, he reminds me, “I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister!”)

Lindsay turned 5 on August 23, and we celebrated her on Saturday with “The Five Little Ducks” theme! (It’s her absolute favorite video to watch on her iPad every day.) I think she loved being the center of attention, and I am thankful for how much she is loved. She LOVES music, clapping for herself, being in the water and working on her tan ūüėā, her brothers, her iPad, and tearing up paper or anything else that might be important! (She’s been known to “taste test” some of her brothers’ homework!)¬†As her mother, all I want for her as she grows is to be treated like any other child is treated.¬† She deserves that.¬†She’s changed a lot of hearts and¬†lives in her 5 years, without saying a word. How many of us can say that!? ‚ėļÔłŹ

What good is cake, if you can’t wear it?!
Watching her shows!
Mean mom…even turns the pool into physical therapy!
Love!
Mrs. Carol has worked with Lindsay since she was an infant.
Wearing his “Loving Lindsay” shirt to school!
I can always count on Cason to help me take Lindsay for a walk!

John 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (ESV)

Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (ESV)

 

Until next time…

Laura

Keepin’ It Real…Part 2

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Over¬†a year ago, I wrote a post entitled, “Keepin’ It Real.”¬† Welcome to part 2!¬† I know I have been absent from writing for a longer period of time than usual, but a lot of life has happened in between.¬† It’s hard to know where to even start!

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So glad to have “Gran” back home!

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First of all, my mother-in-law spent eighty plus days in the hospital.¬† It’s hard to even believe that is true at this point, but it made for some very long days, weeks, and months, for everyone in the family.¬† Around Christmas time, especially, it was hard to remember what “normal” for us even felt like anymore.¬† We just couldn’t believe that the year before, we were all experiencing Disney-and here we were wondering if that would even be possible again. Praise be to God that she is now home and continuing to improve a little each day!

In the midst of “Gran” being so sick, I think everyone in my family got sick more times than I can count. It just felt as if we couldn’t come up for air. I also spent much of the winter packing, getting rid of “stuff,” and packing some more for our family to move. (NEVER doing that again!!!) Then, as soon as we did move, we ALL got sick again! (And you moms know- even if you get sick, you still get to take care of everyone else!;-) )

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Throughout all of this time, I had days where I just fell completely apart.¬† Cried about the smallest thing.¬† Worried about things I usually wouldn’t.¬† I would get so overwhelmed at everything going on, that I couldn’t seem to accomplish anything. I know that on more than one occasion, I literally talked aloud to God, asking if we could just have a little break.

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He might have snuck out of class to see her!

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Recently my mom gave¬†me a book that someone recommended to her, after hearing some of¬†my “story.”¬†¬†I don’t get a whole lot of time to do much other¬†than be a parent, but¬†I knocked most of this book out in a few days’ time.¬† The title, No More Faking Fine, got my attention pretty quickly.¬† I’ll be honest, I thought that¬†“faking it,”¬†must be what my mom thinks I do; thus the reason for giving it to me! Esther Fleece does a wonderful job in¬†the book of explaining how much we miss, both in relationship with God, and others,¬†when we pretend things are always going well. (I only underlined almost everything in the book!)¬† I think we all may “fake fine”¬†to a degree. I know I have¬†certainly done so at times in order to¬†simply survive the day.¬† I’m sure you can relate, when someone asks an innocent, “How are you?”¬† We usually have a quick response, such as, “I’m good, and how are you?”¬† (A lot of times I’m thinking, they probably really don’t want to hear about the fact that one of my kids is sick, I really could use a nap, and I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done that needs to be.)

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In a previous post, I talked about how I grieved deeply for about a week when we first got Lindsay’s diagnosis a little over two years ago.¬† Sort of as if I were a robot, I decided that my grieving¬†period was up at the end of that time.¬† I thought that I needed to get it all out, and then move on with my life.¬† While it’s true that I cannot stay in a constant state of sadness in order to be able to function with daily life, it was foolish of me to think my grieving was over after a week.¬† Far from it.¬† I’ve heard several parents of special needs’ kiddos speak of coping with a lifelong disability as similar to opening a door, looking¬† inside for a few minutes, and then closing it back before seeing too much. While in our heads, we know that there a lot of unknowns about the future, it is almost impossible to try to digest too much at one time. At the same time, as Lindsay gets a little older each day,¬† I get sad for different things.¬† Sometimes they are completely unexpected, like¬† the other day when¬†she had been playing in her room for a little while.¬† When¬†I went to check on her, I noticed she had a little gash above her eye.¬† It was already beginning to close, and I noticed a little blood that had dried in her hair.¬† She was as happy as could be while¬†I cleaned her up, but I got so upset wondering what had happened.¬† I knew she was fine, but the fact that she couldn’t tell me what happened just overwhelmed me.¬†¬†I wondered if she had cried when it happened, and no one heard her. I started worrying about how many things might happen that I will never know about.¬† I was not only sad, but angry, that my child does not have the ability to do something so simple.¬† It still hurts to see kids her age and much younger, be able to run, slide, and play with age appropriate toys.¬† It’s hard to have to park in a “handicap” spot and get stares from people wondering why you are carrying your four year old into church, or the grocery store.¬† So while I accepted over two years ago that this syndrome would change the way we go about daily life, the grief still comes in unexpected waves.

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Poor little eye…
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No thanks, I don’t actually want to make a choice today!

One of the things that reading Faking Fine did for me, is it gave me permission to feel the way I feel.¬† Much of the book focuses on “lament” as a language that God wants us to express to Him. We can often get caught in the trap of thinking that we should just be stronger, if we want to be a good “Christian.”¬† I love the way Ms. Fleece describes her own grieving process, as¬†she relays¬†how her counselor explained to her¬†the¬†very necessary steps of confronting every bit of hurt we have experienced, in the effort to heal.¬† “Lament, he said, is simply expressing honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned.¬† Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, lament is the language God has given us to talk to Him right in the middle of life’s messes.¬† It’s real talk with God when you’re hurting, when all you can do is cry out for His help.¬† It’s a prayer that says, God, I’m hurting-will You meet me here? And as such, it is a prayer to which God always responds.”

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The book goes on to say that God doesn’t just want our “happy.” He wants us to be honest with Him.¬† He wants us to cry out to Him, ask questions of Him, and realize that He hears it¬†all, without judgment. ¬† Probably¬†the most profound quote¬†to me was¬†when Fleece talks about the fact that¬†God is present with us in our laments, and that knowledge has to be enough sometimes.¬† She says, “Sometimes we need to love God more than the happy ending we are hoping for.” What that says to me is that even though I may express my deepest desires and hurts to Him, He may not provide a “quick-fix.”¬† Instead, I must learn to find happiness within the hurt.¬†¬† Building my relationship with Him is superior to getting all of the answers I want.

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Playing the “No laugh challenge!”
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I’m never going to argue with a 10 year old brother, who wants to dry his sister’s hair!

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In my experience, there is so much happy in the midst of so much hurt.¬† I see it every day, when my boys voluntarily carry Lindsay to their room to play, offer to dry her hair, fix her iPad just the way she likes it, or sing along with the same silly songs she listens to every day.¬†¬† Listening to the boys pray at night always gives me a perspective I wouldn’t¬†otherwise have.¬† One night after life had been particularly crazy, and we were all getting over sickness, Carter ended his prayer with, “Thank you for our good life.¬† Thank¬†you. Thank you.”¬† I remember thinking, “Boy, I’m glad he thinks this is the good life!”

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I think she knows she’s cute! ūüėČ

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Finally, this quote from Grey’s Anatomy a few weeks ago caught my attention enough that I had to rewind it several times: “You don’t get to call what is normal.¬† When you have a child, you might not get to have what you ask for. You get what you are given. And it might be wonderful. And it might be painful. And it might be both.”

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I think I’m gonna like it here!
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Bed head!

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Until next time…

Laura

 

 

 

Use Your Words…

Proverbs 16:24–Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

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I’ll admit it..I’m a slacker!¬† ūüėČ If you know me, you know that’s not entirely true- but with writing,¬†I certainly have been lately.¬† It is almost impossible to find a few minutes here and there to capture my thoughts.¬† (If you’re a parent, you can relate!¬† Your kids just know if you¬†might have found a second to yourself!)¬† After a while, though, I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head, that I just have to let some of them out!

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After a few frustrating days of her being sick, and us not really knowing what was wrong-she was finally feeling some better!

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I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I tend to “compartmentalize” my thoughts.¬† It’s probably just a survival skill, but it’s how I operate.¬† For example, if it’s as simple as a “to-do” list for the day, I have to break it down into one thing at a time.¬† If I don’t, I just get overwhelmed and shut down completely.¬† If we are talking about something much more difficult, such as processing the magnitude of Lindsay’s syndrome¬†and what she needs/will need in the future, I have to think day-to-day.¬† (I’ve tried the whole ‘worry about every little thing that might happen in the future’, and it never works out too well.) ūüôā

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I know that I have said it repeatedly, but I think my biggest¬†frustration with Pitt Hopkins, is how much it affects speech. I think of how frustrating it is to always wonder what Lindsay would say to me in any given situation. Sure, I can tell if she’s happy, upset, or tired. Those are pretty easy to determine. I wonder little things, like does she ever get bored? What was her favorite part of the day? Does she want to play in her room, or would she rather go outside? Simple things, but they’re all a guessing game for me. I would love for her to just be able to tell me about her day. Of course, I ask her all of these things, but I usually just answer for her.

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Apologies are hard to come by sometimes, but he knows his words matter.

¬†With nonverbal children, or even with typically developing children, we often hear the phrase, “Use your words,” in order to try to get them to ¬†verbally express their needs. This is usually in an attempt to steer them away from expressing their frustrations physically, or through fussing or crying.¬† It’s no surprise that in the season of life I find myself, then, that words are so important.¬† Words are¬†powerful.¬† They can lift someone up, or be used as a weapon.¬†¬†While we’ve all heard (and probably used) the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” it’s simply not true.¬† I can still clearly remember unkind things that were said to me as a child, as if they were yesterday.¬† Most of us probably can.¬† We might even still believe them. We can be given a¬†hundred compliments¬†and one criticism, and what is the one thing we remember?

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It’s very rare to have all five of us in the same picture!
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Pretty a”Dory”ble!

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¬†We work every single day to get Lindsay to imitate sounds, by singing songs, trying to get her to repeat things, and letting her watch little videos.¬† We’re just anxious for one word.¬† Any word.¬† I’ve often even joked about how funny it would be¬†if she said certain¬† words as her first. I can see so much personality in her, and I can’t wait until we can help her let it all out,¬†using either¬†her words or the help of a communication device.

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First debate

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The other night as I was putting Lindsay in her bed, Carter came out of nowhere and asked, “Mom, if you had one wish-what would it be?”¬† I told him that it would probably be that Lindsay could walk.¬† (At the time, I was simply thinking it would be great if she could get in her bed by herself.)¬† He just looked at me and said, “I like her just the way she is.” It was almost as if I had offended him in some way.¬† I told him that I like her just how she is, too, but sometimes it would be nice if she could walk.¬† He said, “Maybe for a little bit, but then I’d want her to go back to the way she is.”¬† He’s only nine, but his words in those few seconds humbled me, and changed my whole day.

A few weeks ago, my boys participated in their first debate with their school’s debate team.¬† When they were handing out awards at the end of the day, one thing really stuck out to me.¬† The lady handing out the awards told the children that greater than winning any award, was the importance of learning how much their¬†words matter. They are learning now that the words they use, and how they use them, mean more than winning any debate. Not long after, Carter told me about a boy asking him if he’d ever said a curse word. He told me that he responded, “No, and I don’t ever PLAN to!” ¬†While I’m so thankful he’s still innocent, I hope he will always think about the words he chooses to use.

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Lately, words have broken my heart.¬† In this never-ending political season, I’ve seen more hateful words than I care to see for the rest of my life.¬† I think¬†the part that bothers me the most, is that I’ve¬†witnessed¬†so many Christians act as though they have a “license” to use their words to destroy people.¬† It is okay to disagree.¬† I just can’t understand how it is ever¬†okay to belittle, call people names, and question their hearts. It reminds me of my teaching days, when I would have a student that talked nonstop!¬† I remember a time or two, having to remind them that we did not need to hear every single thought that came to their mind!! ūüėȬ† I constantly have to remind myself, as well,¬†that words cannot be taken back once they are spoken. One of the few things we can control in this life, is what we allow to come out of our mouths.¬† I think of the argument my boys often like to use to justify their hurt or anger over what the other one has¬†said or¬†done to them.¬† “He made me” say this, or do that, is typically¬†their response when questioned about why they reacted in a certain way.¬† I spend a lot of time¬†revisiting the fact¬†that no one can make them do anything.¬† It is a choice. We always have a choice. After it is all said and done, is¬†the risk of¬†losing a relationship(s)¬†worth a few “angry words?”¬† The same people we may tear down with our words today, might be sitting in the seat next to us at church tomorrow.¬† They may even be sitting at our dinner table.

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I ache for my little girl, and so many others like her, to be able to speak any words at all.¬† I’ll even catch myself sometimes¬†having an entire car ride with her, in total silence.¬† Then, I’ll feel guilty that I could have used that time to talk to her.¬† I could have sung to her.¬† I could have prayed over her.¬† I could have used my words to be a blessing.

Trying out her new gait trainer for the first time!
Trying out her new gait trainer for the first time!

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I will spend every day of the life I am given on this earth, trying to help Lindsay use her words.¬† I believe with ongoing research and advances in technology, this will be possible one way or another. I also want to choose my words well.¬†¬†In Cason’s class last year, they had a motto that stated, “Build each other up; don’t tear each other down.”¬† We have been given a powerful gift, that so many would¬†love to have.¬† Let’s use our words as a blessing.

Until next time…

Laura

 

Ephesians 4:29–Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Matthew 15:18–But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Proverbs 12:18–There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:1–A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Colossians 3:8–But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

Proverbs 21:23–Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Colossians 4:6–Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Proverbs 17:27–Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 11:12–Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.

Matthew 7:12–So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR!!!

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Happy fourth birthday to my favorite girl!¬† We spent this past weekend celebrating Lindsay, and I think she has enjoyed every minute.¬† I’ve sung “Happy Birthday” to her countless times, and she laughs every time! Today, on her actual birthday, she gets to go to physical therapy and speech, followed by a haircut.¬† This will just be a short and sweet post, celebrating the girl that brings us all so much joy!

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We had Lindsay’s party on Saturday, and I really think she enjoyed being the center of attention!¬† This is the first year where she seemed to enjoy playing with her toys, and, of course, eating the paper as Cason helped her open her gifts! ūüėȬ† Her precious teacher even took the time out of her weekend to come to her party. (Have I mentioned before¬†how much we love her ?!)

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I’m not exactly sure why, but every year when we sing to Lindsay, I make it through about two words before the tears come.¬† Just hearing the chorus of family and friends singing to her, brings back a flood of emotions all at once.¬† I am reminded of how precious life is. I acknowledge just how far she has come, at her own pace. I look around and take in all of the people that are rooting¬†for her.¬† These people have celebrated every milestone with us, they have hurt for us, cried with us, and most importantly, prayed for us. One of the best parts is watching my boys get more excited to celebrate Lindsay than they do for their own birthdays.¬† Cason really takes seriously helping me plan and decorate.¬† He is proud of his sister, and he loves to stand beside her.¬† Carter loves to point out everything to Lindsay, and he tells me exactly what she loves to play with the most.¬† On Saturday, when everyone was singing to her, he held up her hands at the end as if she had just won a marathon.¬† He was so excited for her, and it reminded me that she will always have people to cheer her on, through big or small accomplishments.

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We chose a “Finding Dory” theme for Lindsay’s party for several reasons.¬† One, it was the first movie we were brave enough to take Lindsay to see!¬† Secondly, I loved the fact that Dory had a “disability” of her own.¬† She had “short-term memory loss”, and spent much of the movie trying to remember places she had been, while looking for her parents.¬† I loved that she had friends with her along the way, doing whatever it took to help her.¬† The motto of the movie was: “Just keep swimming!”¬† We have sort of adopted that idea into our family, as we continue to¬†take things one day at a time.¬† The¬†boys even changed the words for Lindsay, to “Just keep scooting!” ūüėȬ† (She does a little “army” crawl across the floor to get to wherever she wants to be, so the boys started chanting that one day as she scooted!)

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While I was already feeling a little emotional at her party, my mom came up to me and showed me a couple of verses she had looked up earlier that morning.¬† She told me she had been praying on the way to the party for God to show her what she needed to see that day. ¬†A minute or two after she had prayed these words, she was behind a car on the road that had two verses listed on a sticker.¬† Curious, she looked up the verses, and read the words from Mark 2:11-12. “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

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These verses immediately gave me hope that one day, Lindsay will, too, “take up her mat,” and walk.¬† (You can tell me differently, and doctors can tell me differently, but I won’t believe you! ;-))

Thank you, for supporting us,  praying for us, holding our arms up in victory when we need to celebrate, and for loving us, and loving Lindsay.

Happy fourth birthday to the best thing that has happened to our family.  To God be the glory.

Until next time…

Laura

This Little Light of Mine

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Lindsay got to go to her first movie: Finding Dory! We loved the message so much, that her birthday in a few weeks will be all about it!

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Clearly, we have been enjoying our summer, because writing has certainly been on the back burner!¬† Just when I get used to¬†a new “routine,” it’s time to move on to another one. Somehow, this summer has gone by faster than any I can remember, and I don’t like it! I really do SAVOR these days,¬†thanks to sweet Sara. ūüôā¬†We have spent the summer going swimming, going to camps, therapy a couple of days a week, reading, seeing movies, VBS, and actually enjoying some down time.

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Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
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Okay, mom-you can go ahead and leave!!

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The boys went to church camp for the first time this year, where the theme was, “Glow in the Dark.” They learned about shining their light in this world, and learned their key verse in Matthew 5:16.¬† They’ve been singing all of the songs they learned since then, and they were excited to get to sing some of them again at VBS!¬† Of course, now I’ve been singing the songs as well, and learning some of the moves! I love how excited they get and how many ways they can think of to be a light to others in this world.¬†The theme of being a light has really stuck with me, too.

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I’ll go ahead and confess that in my stage of life,¬†I find it¬†is very easy to get “down” about a lot of things going on in the world and in my own home.¬† If I look for them, I can find a lot of little things that I wish were different.¬† I can go through periods of feeling “cheated” out of the life I thought I wanted, envious of others who seem to have it so much “easier” than I do, or just worn out from all I have to do in a day to get us from place to place. It’s so, so easy to let those things consume me sometimes.¬† But, if there is one thing I am learning over and over again, in this life the only thing I can control is my response and my reactions to any situation.

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Practicing in the gait trainer at therapy.
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Swinging on all fours!

I also find that God¬†often intervenes in my lowest moments.¬† When it looks as if Lindsay’s progress is painfully slow, all of a sudden she’ll really show out at therapy!¬† She’ll stay on the treadmill (in a harness) and actually try to take some steps, when she used to just lock her legs and refuse.¬† We’re in the process of ordering her a gait trainer, (walker) because she is showing some signs of making forward progress in the one she uses in therapy.¬† These things are so encouraging to me, because even though they may take forever-they show progress! Some days, one or both of my boys will have just the right thing to say, or do something so ridiculous to snap me out of my “funk!” So, even though it might be easy to find everything that is “wrong” or “unfair” about the world, it’s so much more beneficial to find all of the things that make life sweet!

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At the pool the other day, I was sitting on the edge watching Lindsay as she sat in the water.¬† She could sit that way for hours, just enjoying splashing and watching others run in and out of the water.¬† I noticed a group of boys and their mothers all playing together, and I thought I recognized a few of the mothers.¬† I finally realized that at least two of the boys have gone to the same school as Carter and Cason.¬† I’m not sure how many there were, but each boy in the group had something in common- they all had Down Syndrome.¬† I continued to watch them as they¬†were having¬†the best time playing, and for some reason just could not stop the tears. (Thank goodness for huge sunglasses!)¬† At first, I was crying just because I was thrilled that these boys had each other.¬† Then, I cried as I looked at each mother-acknowledging that they had all once been in the place I have been.¬† They probably have all been through some of the same grieving processes that I know.¬† This¬†may not be the life they would have chosen years ago, but still one that they find so much sweetness in every day.¬† While I was on a roll, I then had tears for the fact that my little girl, though she doesn’t understand it now, was sitting and playing alone.¬† Because her syndrome is as rare as it is, it’s not likely to look around the pool (or around the state)¬†and find someone in her same shoes.¬† About that time my mom came over, and I told her why I was crying.¬† I had just finished saying¬†that I worried about who would play with Lindsay one day, when a little girl stooped down beside her and tried to engage her.¬† She was trying to show Lindsay her Barbie doll, and I knew immediately¬†why she had come.

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That’s how it happens, isn’t it? You can be in tears of sorrow one minute, and the next be in tears of joy!¬† All because one little girl chose to show her light, even though she had no idea how profound it was to me. Just the day before that, we took my kids and my nephew to a trampoline place.¬† I found a few¬†spots I could safely put Lindsay to let her play, which is not easy to do in a place surrounded with trampolines!¬† At one point, my nephew (also 3) noticed Lindsay sitting and watching.¬† He told me he was going to go and get his bear, and asked me if I thought she would like to play with it.¬† I told him that I bet she would love it, so he was¬†extra proud to run and get it.¬† After she had played with the bear for awhile, he asked me, “Does she like it?” It was so simple, but that three year old recognized a way to be helpful, and he just did it.

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Playing with her cousin’s bear!

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Often, like so many others, I’ll look on social media to sort of “escape” reality for a little bit.¬† Lately, I’ve found that instead of pictures of cute kids and what everyone ate for dinner, ūüėČ there are more and more things for which I have to push the “hide” button! I have made a choice that the world is hard enough, hateful enough, without my help!¬† With all of the negativity that is constantly streaming on TV and social media, I want no part of it.¬† I can’t think of one time where sharing or “liking” hateful “memes,” videos, opinions, etc., brought about any good.¬† In fact,¬†I would suspect it does the opposite.¬† I saw a quote from Lysa TerKeurst that said, “Let’s not hash, bash, or trash on the¬†Internet. Remember, the¬†Internet never forgets.”¬†I just know that I have enough troubles to keep me occupied, and I never want my kids to be able to look back one day and see that I contributed to making someone feel “less than,” or that I thought my feelings or opinions on any topic were superior to those who have reasons for feeling differently.¬† I want to be a light, and I don’t ever want to use my little corner of the world to do or say something that interferes with that.¬† As my nine year old said the other day, “Why would anyone spend time being hateful, when they could spend that time helping others?” That certainly solidified my decision to choose being a light over the need to be “right.” If I won’t allow my children to go out of their way to say things with the purpose of proving their point, in order to be hateful toward any particular group of people, I certainly cannot be an adult doing the same! Of course, we all have opinions, and reasons for them, but I feel they shouldn’t be at the expense of others.¬† I think of it like this: if I am the only exposure to Christianity someone ever has, I cannot imagine that the impression I give them is that I am no different than the rest of the world.¬† If they see me playing along, putting down others with whom¬†I may disagree in the same manor children on a playground would do, how can I expect to show them Jesus?

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I want to follow the examples of the”little lights” I’ve seen.¬† I want to look for more ways to be just like the little girl at the pool, my nephew, my own boys, and of course, my Lindsay.¬† She is a little light everywhere she goes and to everyone she meets!¬† I hope that when I am tempted to jump into the negativity that is so prevalent, I instead look for ways to be helpful. I can be encouraging to someone by writing them a¬†note, offering to listen without judgment, helping¬† teachers when they have more than enough to do, and opening my eyes wider to see what God is showing me. One person at a time, I believe there is so much light to share- in a world where we have more than enough darkness. Sharing¬†a few pictures of my kiddos reminds me of all of the light in my world. ūüôā

I’ll close with the chorus of the “newer” version of “This Little Light,” the boys have been learning…

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

And in the darkest night

I’ll be the brightest light

No covering up, no shutting it down

No blowing it out

I’m gonna let it shine all around

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

Until next time…
Laura

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I had no idea…

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When I was growing up, my mom would often say, “I can’t wait until you have kids of your own one day!” Usually, it was in reference to something I’d said or done that she couldn’t wait for me to experience from the other side. ūüėČ I just know I had all these grand ideas of how I would do things, how I wouldn’t do things, things I would and wouldn’t say, and how I would always be prepared with just the right answers for my children.¬† (I think¬†we all¬†probably know where this is going…then I actually had kids!) ūüôā

First of all, when you have multiple kids that happen to be born on the same day, it’s a good day when everyone has been bathed and fed! (We used to keep these little charts for the first month or so of the boys’ lives, just to keep up with who had been fed, changed, etc.¬† I can’t promise that there weren’t days where one boy was mistaken for the other one, and fed twice!) By God’s grace, we survived those days and barely remember them now. One thing I do remember though, is the feeling I had every single morning when I woke up bright and early. I used to describe it as almost feeling like Christmas morning! I just couldn’t wait to see them, feed them, and dress them! They were the answer to¬†countless prayers over many years, and I have been thankful every day since.

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Another thing my mom would always say is, “You’ll¬† understand¬†when you have your own kids!”¬† Boy, was she right.¬† I’m not sure, but I think she meant one day I would understand how much you can love someone, unconditionally. ¬†I think she was talking about the times that you’re so proud of them, you feel like your heart could burst.¬† I’m pretty sure she also meant that when someone or something hurts your children, you hurt more than they do. That you want to just be able to “fix” things that go wrong, but can’t.¬† She must’ve¬†known that I would understand how it feels to lie awake at night, wondering if I said or did the right thing in whatever the most recent difficult¬†situation. Surely, she was referring to the times that you are¬†so tired you can barely keep your eyes open, but your kids need help with something or just have something they want to share.¬† I bet she wanted to tell me how difficult it is when you know that your child knows the right thing to do, but for whatever reason- they pick the wrong choice. She knew that even when you could not imagine loving another child as much as your first child(ren),¬†you absolutely will.¬† She would’ve told me that you¬†feel so conflicted¬†when you¬†want to¬†be¬†several places at once, making sure each child feels important.¬† I know she wanted to tell me how hard it is when you have to let your children learn the hard way sometimes.¬†¬†She knew that each day, you have to let go a little more. I’m sure those are just a few of the many things my mom was referring to when she told me that one day I would understand. After all, we haven’t even¬†reached the teenage years! ūüėČ

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I don’t think when we had those conversations, my mom envisioned that one of the things I ‘had no idea’ about was what it would be like to raise a child with “special needs.” But, here we are! In my opinion,¬†it’s very much the same and also very different than raising “typically developing” kids. ¬†It’s the same in that you love them as easily and unconditionally. It’s different in that you wonder if everyone else feels the same way. It’s the same in that you want them to reach their highest possible potential.¬† It’s a little different when you might have to adjust your expectations, or at least be reasonable with them. It’s the same wanting them to be independent.¬† It’s different when “independent” may not be entirely possible. Same is that you make sure each child has what he/she needs for school each day.¬†Different is that this means cups with thickened milk, diapers,¬†foot braces, and chewy¬†necklaces instead of books and homework.¬†¬†¬†And, it is absolutely the same that you want people to treat your children well.¬† There’s nothing different at all about that.

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It’s all about how you look at things!

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I get just as excited for Lindsay to hold herself up on all fours as I do for Carter or Cason to meet one of their reading goals.¬† I laugh just as hard when she’s destroyed her hair¬†in thirty seconds after¬†I’ve spent ten minutes fixing it,¬†as I do when the boys say something hilarious.¬† I¬†ache for her when she’s having a rough week and can’t tell me why, just¬†as I do when one of the boys is having a bad week and can tell me why.

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We go to the dr. to eat the roll of paper.

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I had no idea until I became a mother how many times I would change my mind, how many words I would eat, and how many¬†ways I would be humbled by something one of my children said or did. I didn’t know that not only¬†would I¬†have to be their biggest advocate, but that I would also need to learn when to let things go.¬† I had no clue how special it would be when Lindsay’s teacher practiced with her and had her “hand” me a Mother’s Day gift that she “made.” I didn’t know¬†how much an unsolicited hug from my non-hugging son could¬†make my day.¬† I am surprised by how much fun it is when my other one decides we should just stop what we’re doing and¬†dance. ¬†I didn’t know that it is possible to find joy no matter what, and that I can choose to find it every single day. Even on the days or weeks where it seems as if all I do is go back and forth from school to school to pick up a sick child¬†and¬† have¬†about a hundred things I need to get done, I am just thankful that they need me. ¬†And, although I still cannot fathom how much our Heavenly Father loves us, the complex feelings I have for my children give me a tiny glimpse.

Being the mother to three unique, strong-willed individuals is rewarding, fun, hard, scary, exhausting, humbling, funny, frustrating, challenging, unexpected, and wonderful.  Sometimes, all at the same time.  I love every bit of it. That, I know.

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Until next time…

Laura

Words that start with “H”

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Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Well, I’ve just been sitting around lately, bored and wondering what to do with my time.¬† ūüėČ Seriously,¬† I wish!!¬† It’s more like, I haven’t had a spare minute to even think about writing.¬† Or when I do, it’s at night when all my eyes really want to do is close! It seems “Mom duty” has been needing a lot more attention lately, so I’ve just been trying to survive.

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Couldn’t agree more! ūüôā

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The initial title of my post was, “Hard,” but another “H” word kept sneaking in, so I changed it.¬† (It’ll come up later-don’t worry!) Lately, for a week or two at a time, life has simply been hard.¬† I don’t know another way to put it.¬† I think we’ve established before that I really do try to stay as positive as possible, and clearly, the devil picked up on that.¬† We had the good majority of a week where Lindsay¬†had a stomach “bug,” and it was terrible. Not that any are lots of fun, but throw in a child who is both nonverbal and not particularly mobile, and that leaves a very frustrated momma and little girl. At one point, I literally got all of the boys’ clothes/lunches ready for school the next day and was sure I was headed to the emergency room with Lindsay.¬† As much as she had gotten sick, I just knew she had to be dehydrated.¬† Of course it was after hours, so I called and spoke to the on-call nurse to relay my concerns.¬† She asked all of the obvious questions to try and determine if Lindsay was dehydrated and in need of possible IV fluids.¬† After speaking to the doctor, they decided we would first try a few doses of an anti-nausea medicine, which slowly started to work over the next few days.¬† (As¬†a side note, can I just say how much I love the questions from the nurse¬†such as, “Is she still able to get up and go to the bathroom when she needs to?¬† Can she still walk to the kitchen to get a cup of water and drink a few sips?” Of course, I would like to respond, “Oh yes, she also does back handsprings down the hall, while telling me what she’d like to drink.”¬† Now, I know the sweet nurse doesn’t know Lindsay or her abilities, but it doesn’t make it any more fun to explain that she’s actually nonverbal and cannot get out of her bed without being carried.) Once we finally got her to feeling better, she made it a few days in school before they were out again for spring break.¬† So, we had a few “normal” days before we had another solid week of hard.¬† For reasons I still do not know, Lindsay was UNHAPPY for an entire week.¬† I don’t mean a little fussing here and there; I mean anytime she was awake, she was crying. I’ve often said that one of the things that makes dealing with all of her issues a little more bearable is the fact that she is such a happy girl!¬† Her overall disposition has just always been so sweet.¬† So, for her to be obviously miserable, it was excruciating.¬† I even left her physical therapy early one day and marched her into the doctor’s office, just knowing he would find an ear infection or something.¬† NOTHING.¬† He determined that she was just throwing tantrums, and that it was a “typical” behavior.¬† While I agreed that she was, in fact, doing that to some degree, I know something was bothering her.¬† She would just arch her back in pain,¬† and scream.¬†Exactly a week from when she started being so¬†upset, the boys were having some friends come to a bouncy place to celebrate their birthday.¬† I decided not to bring Lindsay along, because it would have been next to impossible to carry her around for two hours.¬† And given her awesome temperament lately, I didn’t want to chance dealing with that as well!¬† She stayed with my dad during the party, and he said she was happy almost the whole time.¬† I was sure that it would all change when we got home, but she was still happy!¬† It was almost like a switch had been flipped, and she was back to her “old” self.

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Sometimes, I let the hard stuff almost consume me.¬† I get wrapped up not only in my own, personal difficulties, but I feel so deeply for others who are dealing with their own.¬† It gets overwhelming hearing and reading about those coping with¬†“ugly” diagnoses, dealing with losses, struggling with infertility, losing relationships, etc. This world is just hard.

Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

One day when I was just overcome with frustration because I couldn’t do anything to make Lindsay happy, I just lost it.¬† Cried like a baby.¬† I gave myself a good ten minutes or so in the shower, where I knew no one was listening.¬† Then I just started praying for “moments.” I prayed that if Lindsay was going to be upset all of the time now, that I would just cling to the little moments when/if she was happy.¬† If this was going to be her new “normal,” I asked¬†that I would¬† learn to be grateful for the tiniest¬†things.¬† (The truth is, I was so worried that she was going to be unhappy from now on,¬†and nobody would want to be around her.¬† I think that was one of the scariest things to me.¬†) And, as much as I just wanted to throw my hands up and give up in the middle of some of her fits, that¬†wasn’t really an option. You know, because I’m the mom.

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Finally back to herself!!
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Working hard on cause/effect
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Driving the truck at school

In the middle of the hard, I had hope for better things to come.¬† (I told you there was another “H” word!) Sometimes, I might just hope for a few quiet minutes. Other times, I have great hope that Lindsay will overcome many of her obstacles.¬† I will NEVER, as long as I live, stop hoping that she will walk, talk, and be able to learn how to do some things independently.¬† I posted a little video on Facebook one day showing her playing one of¬†the apps we added on her iPad ¬†at speech therapy a few months ago.¬† One day, it all started “clicking” with her, and it was obvious that she was understanding a little cause/effect.¬† I stated at the time that it might not seem like a big deal, but that it is huge for us!¬† You see, something that small gives me bigtime hope for things to come!¬† We had Lindsay’s annual IEP meeting at school a little over a week ago, and I commented to everyone in the room that one sensitive area for me is when someone may innocently ask me what Lindsay understands. Maybe because I don’t really want to know, or maybe because it’s scary, but I try not to really think about that specifically too much.¬† I get tears every single time someone asks me, but Lindsay’s school physical therapist gave me a great response for the next time:¬†She said, “Ask them, how much time do you have?!”¬†She might be one of my new favorite people.¬† ;-)Lindsay’s teacher and all three of the therapists quickly jumped in to give me evidence of her understanding in the classroom, and I left with more hope than I’ve had in awhile.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

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She was thrilled to meet the bunny!

Last Friday, I did a rare thing for me, and I left the kids home with Chip in order to go to a women’s event at my church with my friend, Laura. (Because our moms both had excellent taste in names. ūüėČ ) We heard speaker and author, Annie F. Downs, talk and preview her new book, Looking for Lovely.¬† I loved so many of the things Annie spoke about, as she encouraged us to look for ‘lovely’ things in the midst of so many hard things we encounter in this life.¬† Some things are simple. Some¬†are profound.¬† One of my favorite quotes that I underlined in her book says, “If you aren’t experiencing pain, you aren’t experiencing beauty. Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of the light. If you aren’t allowing yourself to feel the hurt, sadness, loneliness, and disappointment this fallen world has to offer, you probably aren’t feeling the fullness of the joy and beauty the redeemed moments have to offer.” She’s referring to her tendency to be a “quitter” and to not really want to stick around and see uncomfortable or painful things through to the end.¬† It speaks to me in a little bit of a different way.¬† What I am learning to be true is that even in the middle of the very hard times, in your lowest of lows, you learn to appreciate the beauty of the smallest things. I am desperate for anything for which to be hopeful during these times.

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Cason making his own “Band-Aid” out of felt!

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In my case, a lot of what keeps me going,¬†is laughing at the things the boys do and say most every day. One night, Carter said the sweetest prayer followed by, “Lindsay, let’s talk about your future.¬† You could be a very successful underwear model.” Another night, he said, “When I grow up and get a job, I’m going to bring everything I need to my office-including a mug that says, ‘I love Wednesdays!'” When Cason was trying to ask him a question one afternoon as he was drinking water, he said, “Cason, a man drinking out of two straws is serious. He doesn’t want to talk.” A few weeks ago, for book character day at school, Cason chose to be Dobby, (a¬†vertically-challenged¬†house-elf from the Harry Potter series) and he said, “It’s like I’m the perfect size!” As if my kids weren’t entertaining enough, I have texting with my mom!

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I can always count on a good laugh texting with Mom! Another one I love is when I sent her a picture where Lindsay had taken her diaper off. Her response: “Did she yak her diaper off?” Of course, I responded, “She yaked her diaper off.”

 

 

Even when life feels overwhelming, when we have to look a bit harder to find hope, we have¬†it in Jesus.¬†¬†He is the way to two of my favorite “H” words: Healing and Heaven. Oh, how I long for both!

 

*I heard this song by Lauren Daigle recently, and it has played over and over in my head.  This is the first verse and chorus.

Letting go of every single dream

I lay each one down at your feet

Every moment of my wandering

Never changes what you see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess

My hands are weary I need your rest

Mighty Warrior, King of the fight

No matter what I face, You’re by my side

Chorus:

When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move

When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through

When you don’t give the answers as I cry out to you

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you!

Until next time…

Laura

 

 

What we can handle…


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If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “God only gives us what we can handle,” I could take us all back to Disney World again! ¬†And again.¬† Now, don’t get me wrong; I’ve probably even said it to someone before dealing with what I do now. I¬†hear it said¬†so many times when people are going through hard times.¬† The thing is, I sure wish it were true.¬† If it were, my life would be full of sunshine and beaches, no laundry, and possibly pedicures every few weeks!¬† That’s about what I can handle, on my own. This concept is not original to me by any means. I didn’t come up with it, but I do think about it a lot.¬† People certainly mean no harm when offering this sentiment to those who are hurting, but I think it puts us in a dangerous place of thinking we have some supernatural power and don’t necessarily need His power.

I don’t think for one minute that God looks at someone and says, “She’s strong. She can handle¬†that devastating diagnosis.”¬† Or, “He’s got it together, he can handle losing a child while battling cancer himself.” Does he look at someone and decide they have just what it takes to handle a lifetime of being a caretaker? I don’t think he singles out a child and decides they would be just right for life in a wheelchair.¬† The bottom line is that we can handle nothing without Him.¬† While I don’t believe He “picks” people to handle tremendous hardships because they are so “strong,” I do believe that He¬†cultivates the qualities in us to equip us as we deal with¬†them¬†along the way. He also places people along our path who demonstrate his goodness when we might feel as if nothing “good” happens anymore. Unfortunately, because of sin,¬†we live in a fallen world, and bad things happen to “good” people.¬† Sometimes, good things even happen¬†those we might consider to be¬†“bad” people.¬† Until we meet in heaven, that is not going to change.¬†These thoughts¬†have been swirling around in my¬†head¬†for awhile now, and just yesterday, I ran across a quote that puts it perfectly: “God doesn’t give us what we can handle, God helps us handle what we are given.”

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Lindsay’s live-in physical therapists

Now that I’ve let you inside my head for a little bit, (it’s a scary place to be ūüėČ ) I do have some examples of ways we have been blessed along¬† the beginning of our journey with Lindsay.¬† The funny thing is, some of these did not become obvious to me until after the fact.¬† Sometimes, it was months before I saw how God helped me “handle” even small details that I was too busy or involved to notice at the time.

I’ve talked to my mom on several occasions about the time that we were doing some extensive blood testing per Lindsay’s neurologist’s orders.¬† Because she was having so much done, he decided to break down the bloodwork into two different days.¬† (For those who understand more about medical terms than I do, she was having a micro-array of her blood done in order to see if we could find a cause for all of her delays. ) Probably about a week before we came in for the second half of testing, she had already undergone a lot of “pokes” to get the first half done.¬† The doctor told us we could come in whenever we wanted to finish the second part. (This testing was to be done¬†in a separate¬†part of the¬†hospital, unrelated to the neurology department.)¬† The day we came in to do so, the nurses got everything set up as we were about to begin.¬† All of the sudden, the doctor appeared in the area of the hospital we were in and sort of “intercepted” us.¬† He came in the little room in¬†his “street” clothes, closed the door, and told us we would not be completing the second round of testing.¬† He had just gotten the results from the week before, and he said he believed the cause of her issues to be something with her 18th chromosome.¬† Any further testing would be done¬†with the blood we had already taken,¬†essentially saving us more “pokes” and lots of dollars.¬† ¬†What we later realized to be a “God-thing,” was the fact that¬†the doctor¬†wasn’t even working in the hospital that day.¬† Furthermore, he had no idea we would be there on that particular day.¬† We never figured out how he discovered we were there, or how he was able to arrive with the information we needed to keep us from proceeding with extra testing.¬† At the time, we were preoccupied with this new information and worried about what it all meant.¬† When he left the room, he instructed the nurses to take everything from that day out of the computer as if we had never been there.¬† In the midst of hearing some hard news, I feel God put us all in exactly the places we needed to be to receive a little unexpected blessing that day.¬† We may not have realized it at the time, but we¬†do now.

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Almost daily, He gives me little encouragements, in the form of two blond-haired 8 year old boys. While I try to shield them from all of the “grown-up” discussions we might have, I’ll occasionally let them overhear on purpose.¬† It’s a constant battle in my head¬†between wanting to let them be kids and wanting them to know real life, hard “stuff.” One such example came recently, when I was (and still am) beyond disgusted with an insurance company. I’ll spare you all of the gory details, but, I was loudly voicing my frustration with their choice not to cover some things Lindsay needs. To the boys, it’s black and white.¬† She needs this = she gets this.¬† To insurance, it’s more along the lines¬†of- if there is any possible way we can hide the exclusions in the tiniest fine print and avoid paying¬†= success. Anyway, after much discussion about the “injustices” we were feeling, I heard Cason sweetly telling Lindsay, “Oh, you’re gonna talk, Lindsay.¬† And you’re gonna prove them all wrong!”¬† Guess who gives him such confidence? (Hint: It’s not me!!) I only wish one of them could talk to all of the fine folks I have talked to at the insurance company! One of these individuals happened to call me on the way home from school one day, so the boys got to hear my end of the conversation.¬† I kept my cool until I heard the word “unfortunately,” one too many times.¬† At some point, I remember starting to cry (which I hate)¬†and telling the lady that it doesn’t matter how I feel about their decision, or how unfortunate she feels it is; what matters is my child is not getting what she needs!!!¬† (Don’t make me go all¬†Mama Bear on you!) A few nights later as I was in the boys’ room to read, I could hear Carter sloooowly scooting down the hall. I was just about to tell him to hurry up, when he came in the room with Lindsay.¬† He had put her on a blanket and pulled her down the hall so she could “talk” to him in his room!¬† Some days, it is as if these boys know just what I need to get over my little pity parties that I occasionally throw for myself.(I usually don’t invite anybody. ūüėČ )

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Carter and Lindsay having a little discussion!

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While still dealing with appealing our insurance company, we talked with several people who encouraged us to pursue other avenues in order to help Lindsay. ¬†I don’t think it was an accident that they gave us these suggestions, and that their suggestions were successful! About a week¬†after exploring one of these opportunities and filling out the necessary paperwork, we learned that a lot of what she needs/will need in the future due to her disabilities, ¬†she will be able to receive!! Every teacher/therapist that I have talked to said they have never seen the process happen so fast!!¬† Such a huge answer to prayer!ūüôĆūüŹĽ

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This past Friday, I picked Lindsay up early from school, since it is so close to my bible class.¬† I was going to the boys’ school to help with their Valentine parties , so I figured she wouldn’t mind coming along. When I got to her school, I ran into her teacher in the hallway, who couldn’t wait to tell me about her day.¬† She told me that her physical therapist had gotten her to stay on all fours all by herself for some time!¬† I realize this might not sound like anything special to you, but it’s HUGE for Lindsay! She does NOT like to be in this position, and usually won’t even do it if you are helping her.¬†Ms. Lisa¬†had tears telling me about it and said that the whole gym was cheering for her! Then, as I was walking into the boys’ school pushing Lindsay, a lady was smiling and waving at me.¬† I was quickly trying to figure out who she was/if I knew her.¬† I just smiled at her and pretended to know her when she said, “I’m Carol.¬† I work with Lindsay! I just worked with her this morning; let me tell you about what she did!” I finally put together that she is the “Mrs. Carol” I always hear about who is Lindsay’s school physical therapist!¬† She told me how proud she was of her and how much she enjoys working with her.¬† Another unexpected blessing I needed came when I was least looking for it.

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This is her, “I am supposed to be napping, but I’m not!” face.

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I can give example after example of ways God has quietly guided us as we try our best to “handle” what we have been given.¬† Some of these blessings are huge, and some might seem so small. Some I¬†share with everyone, and some I keep closer to home.¬† Things I used to think were coincidences are no more.¬†I don’t think I would have ever realized some of the things I notice now had I not been given the opportunity to parent Lindsay.¬† I’ve mentioned before that one of the most difficult aspects of her¬†struggles for me is not being able to hear her words.¬† There are days where she is so excited, waving her hands, “singing,” and I am just dying to know what she is trying to say.¬†¬†The days where it’s obvious she doesn’t feel great, I wish it weren’t so hard for me to¬†figure out the source of her frustration. But every single ¬†day, I have hope that one day she WILL tell me all of the things she’s been trying to say!

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Telling me all about Sunday School!
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What taking all 3 to the grocery store looks like on a “snow day.”

So,¬†as great as it sounds, I don’t believe God thinks I can handle more than you can.¬† He does not write these stories of difficulty into my life or yours.¬† He hurts when we hurt. Those of you who have children know that feeling. We all have lived, or will live through pain, heartbreak, tragedy, etc. The good news is that if we ask,¬†He will walk with us every step of the way as He ‘helps us handle what we are given.’ And I absolutely believe He will shower us with unexpected blessings along the way!

Matthew 7:7-8-Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

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Psalm 46:1- God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Hebrews 4:16- Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Until next time…

Laura