Monday, August 15, 2016

 {August} 10 on the 10th

August 10th, 2016

Awoke this morning and was informed that Kai's beloved Teddy was turning 23 today.  Who knew?! 

Balloons were a must.  Kai grabbed the helium tank out of the photo studio and got to work...

While mom had an already much needed cup of coffee.

What's birthday without cake?

All the leftover sprinkles in the pantry - mostly from Christmas - were the finishing touches.

How cool that we already had plans to go to our friends house. NOW it's a party!

Finishing the day with a half mile run with my Jay! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

 {April} 10 on the 10th

It's been exactly a year and a month since I participated in this photo challenge!  Time to jump back in.  It's always so fun to document a day - even a mundane day - because it helps me look for the lovely things.

This was a Sunday spent at home.  Half the fam went to church and I had 2 guys at home with me.  We have been fighting a crazy strep battle with our Noe.  He's had it for three weeks and 2 rounds of separate antibiotics.   We kept him home for rest and for lovin'.  

I prayed throughout the day for joy and for eyes that see lovely.

{This is what 10 on 10 is all about: taking a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month, documenting a day in your life and finding beauty among the ordinary moments.}

Noe's sore throat meant breakfast in the blender.  K and I also participated. :) 

I'm obsessed with candles.  I burn them all the time.  I love making the house smell welcoming and homey - and like fresh pumpkin pie.  Ironically I have found one of my favorite brands at Tractor Supply. 

Hi.  Blah day, no fixin' up selfie. 

Yes please.

Starting prep for a yummy family meal.  

That grin can usually be found behind any manner of Apple product. ;) I love this teenager so much. 

Home sweet home for the day.   Praying over this one - letting him play the Wii to distract him from his discomfort.  Hoping to get him well again soon!

Done - and ready to be enjoyed by all.  The other half of our family is home with us now. 

Screen shot.  I just had to throw this in here too.  For memories sake... 

Dave's uniforms all washed, dried, and ready for the week ahead.   He's been home for 9 days.  Nine beautiful rare days.  I may have blinked back big ol' tears as I prepped the uniforms. 

One more story before bed time.  He read the entire thing by himself.  He's turning into such a big kid.

Monday, April 4, 2016

 {Break Me to Better}

I remember when I was a child I felt strange to be around people who were "different".  Physical limitations didn't really make me uncomfortable, but I wasn't sure how to respond to those who had mental issues.  I had a cousin whom culture would label "different".  He was a child-like young adult.  Mostly he was fun, but every now and then I just felt unsure of myself around him, so it seemed easier to just not deal with those emotions and stay away.

When I became a mom in a rather scary way, 3 months before I was "supposed to",  I was immediately thrust into a life that consisted of medical information overload.

The boys were micro preemies.  They were dangerously early.  The list of things that could go wrong with them was extensive.  I tried to take it all in and adjust expectations of the life I thought I would have.   That's kind of too much to do in a few days time....  But oh my little quivering heart tried to stand tall and do just that.

I knew immature lungs were at the top of the major concerns. So I was trying to wrap my mind around ventilators, trachs, surfactant, and oxygen saturation.  In addition to that we knew that fine motor and gross motor skills were greatly compromised by the boys' muscles missing out on the growth and building that needs to happen in the last 3 months of pregnancy.

Having a child that may have breathing struggles for the rest of his life and possibly never walk or be able to ride a bike were very real possibilities.

And I thought I could probably do this.  Yes.  We would study up on how to help as much as possible, and get used to what that would look like for us.

Yeah - we could do this.

And then K had a brain bleed. And a whole new world of medical professionals and scary possibilities entered our life.

I remember sitting in a neurologists office with my tiny baby.  Just a few months old.  He was cute and cuddly.  Doing surprisingly well for all he had already been through.  While he was on a low flow of oxygen, his lungs were doing incredibly well.  We had started occupational therapy for fine motor skills and Physical therapy for gross motor skills.  While he was responding well to all of this,  neurological questions which no one could answer were creeping in.

Would he recognize us? Would he speak?  Would he be able to form any kind of intellectual skill sets?

To these and so many more questions the resounding answer was "wait and see".

I didn't want to admit to anyone that these were the issues that were like kindling to the  fear fire smoldering deep inside of me.

I would sit in these offices of various brain doctors and observe a lot around me.  I would see other babies like mine. 

"I bet they are hearing a lot of "just wait and see" too.." 

We would exchange little smiles and grasp any solidarity we could find in our tired selves. 

But then I would see some older kids.  Some teens.  Kids in wheel chairs - some drooling or moaning.      There wasn't solidarity because this was something I didn't know at all.  Something that scared me.  A foggy possibility that loomed in my future.  I felt something in the region of the fear fire.  I didn't know how to identify it.  Subtle waves of cultural influence would blow on the embers of that fire - and the flames would sometimes just rage.  But I couldn't really talk about it. 

"How do I do this?" 

"I don't know how to parent like this." 

"I'm lost.  I'm afraid.  I never asked for this."

And then there would be guilt.

I know my God sees our potential.  He sees our hearts.  He sees our biggest fears and hesitations as potential places for sin to settle into.  So he swoops down and rescues us - sometimes by pulling those fears up and making them our reality.  He does this in order to  make them impossible to harbor that which He knows is not for our best.  




He knew I could do better. 

So he gave me a child with mental, emotional, intellectual, and physical struggles.  

And he called me blessed. 

Everything was different when he was a baby.  Cute and little.  Potential untapped.  "Wait and see".  

While wait and see may still always be a bit of a mantra when it comes to our K, he is now 13.  We see.  Maturity will take place, and changes will continue to happen.  But we see  - him.  

See my eyes? My face?  I believe my feeble heart, held in the hands of my all powerful God, shows there.  I am parenting some of my deepest fears.  And this young man has forced me to be braver than I thought I could be. 

I know my parents desire was to raise me in a counter cultural way.  They knew "culture" was devious, fickle, and a lie.   But it still sneaks in.  It whispers its way in like a tangled web of something unrecognizable -  that soon begins to resemble truth. 

I'm fairly certain I would have succumbed to several of those lies if I were not K's mom.   While I have always considered myself pro-life I'm not sure I valued as a beautiful creation formed by a God who makes no mistakes. 

What a privilege.  What a privilege to start each day needy and desperate.  To peak behind the curtain of culture into the realm of eternity and truth.  

This guy shows me.  He teaches me.  He keeps me grounded and humble.  He shows me my limitations and God's power.  

And as he grows and learns more about his own struggles he keeps my heart soft and broken.  - And I am learning that is not all bad.  In fact a soft heart - willing to be shattered for purposes beyond my own agenda has begun to be a hesitant but bold prayer of mine.  

He prefers things very structured and clings to routine.  When things happen that are out of his control - and this happens regularly in a family of 6 - he melts.  It's the only way I can explain it.  I watch my sweet boy just melt away in a puddle in front of me and he goes to a place where he can not be reached.  It literally breaks me.  And that's ok. 

Brokenness has value.  - Just one more thing he's taught me. 

It is during those meltdowns that his realities pour out.  He isn't one to talk a whole lot about how he feels about things during day to day life.  He's getting a lot better about asking for help when he needs it and advocating for himself, but we never quite get a glimpse into his head and heart like we do when he has a melt down.  

"I can't do anything!"

"I am invisible!"

"I'm never going to be okay!"

"I'm afraid."

"I can't do anything for myself!"

And so much more.   So much that has helped me to see, really see, what it is like to be someone who does not have all of the advantages that I have.  

And I need to see that.  

I need to feel that.  

It is so hard to feel that.  And oh do I ever need to.  We all need to.  

I sit and hold him and I cry with him.  I wrap him in a blanket.  I feel helpless next to him.  And I cry out to God on his behalf.  

Among all of his diagnosis {which really mean less and less each year...} is autism. It hasn't changed a whole lot. But it has helped us figure out a few of his responses and form some helpful ways to deal with those responses.  Saturday was national autism awareness day and I gave myself a special "jamicure" in honor of the way our family dynamic has been shaped by autism.  

Puzzle pieces.  

Pieces of my heart.  Pieces that don't exactly fit together in any logical way.  

When I look at my hands I smile.  My boy has my heart.  I'm so glad.  I'm so glad that he has personified some of my fears and shown me an immensely bigger picture.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

 The dress

I came across this dress in my closet the other day.  It was actually packed away in a bin and shoved behind all of my current dresses.

But oh my - the memories this dress brought up in my mind!

This was my "honeymoon dress"

16 Marches ago my sister and I went shopping for my Florida wardrobe.  I couldn't wait.  It seemed like a dream.

One big, beautiful, surreal dream coming true. 

I had just turned 20 and there I was,  laughing with my sister and carefully choosing through aisles of dresses for my honeymoon dress.  Of course I would bring a few dresses - and lots of beach clothes, but I wanted one very special dress.

This one was it.

I bought it and carefully folded it, packing it away in my suitcase.

Dave and I had this crazy, whirlwind, long distance relationship.  Since we lived 500 miles apart and only knew each other for about 8 months before we got married {all the gasps} we really hadn't had that many dates.  I knew this dress would be worn for a very special date.

You guys know my story of ups and downs.  I have never wanted to be fake in what I share.  It's been a hard 15 years in many aspects.  But you know what?  When I pulled this dress out I couldn't stop the grin.  Because I wouldn't change this.

I wouldn't change that innocent girl who had only been on about a dozen dates with the man who she was about to marry.  I wouldn't change our crazy story.  It's almost unthinkable to me, in retrospect, what we actually did.  -And that my parents let us! ;)  But God was writing our story even back then.  No part of it is insignificant.

We knew that we wanted to be married and have a life long commitment before we had a physical relationship; before we settled down.  And we wanted a physical relationship and to settle down. ;) We both held very traditional values and desired to have a home and family.  So we got married after a few months. We knew our commitment to God and to each other was for life no.matter.what.

So all of the betters and worses that came at us, this young couple who had so much to learn about one another, in all directions? - They would hit us hard, but they could not knock us down. 

I love us.  I love our story.  I love our great big God and how magnified He has become in our struggles and weaknesses.  We have a good thing.  A really, really good thing.

This is me in that dress, on that honeymoon, with that guy, who had hair. ;)

It was just as I had imagined.  We were married, and could finally spend all of our days together instead of our limited monthly long distance travel to see one another for a weekend.

It had rained that day but a beautiful sunny Florida warmth still permeated everything.  Our waitress sat us outside on a patio surrounded by twinkly lights.  I remember it was nearly dusk, so those white lights glowed in a really beautiful way.

And life was good.

I'm so glad I still have the dress.  Because pulling it out and having the rush of memories fills my heart.  I feel like right now we are literally on a tread mill of life - just keep running, running, running....
And I need these reminders of all the amazing things God has done in our lives.

You know what?  I may just put this dress on this Thursday.  Fifteen years you guys! Wow.  So hard to believe.  If it's not snowing, I am totally wearing this dress when we celebrate our anniversary.  No Florida this year - just good ol' Jackson, MI.  :) Jackson, MI with the man I love and a story I wouldn't trade for all of the happily ever afters in the world.