About Me

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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I Am Restless...

This feeling usually precedes some sort of spiritual awakening of some degree. 

It feels like sandpaper on my soul.

The first time I felt it, I was working at a florist in 2006, making great use of my degree in Child Development. ;) 
I loved that job. 
 I loved the people I worked for, I loved the creative outlet of designing floral arrangements. 
I loved walking into the flower shop and smelling beauty.
I loved the sentiment of the gesture of sending flowers to someone.  

But this annoying restless feeling wouldn't go away.
I felt God saying, "I've called you for more."

One Sunday morning, I was reading the announcements in the church bulletin and noticed they were needing a  2-yr-old teacher at the preschool.
I knew this was the source of the sandpaper.  
I called the director, which happened to be a good friend, and the next day I interviewed and was hired.  

I loved that job, too. 
I worked there a year until I became pregnant with Maddie.  

The next time I felt this annoying feeling was in 2014.  
The year before had been one of the worst years of my life. 

My neighbor invited me to a writer's workshop for victims of the 2013 tornado. 
I didn't realize I had unresolved issues, but was interested in attending.

I had no idea that would lead to one of the most powerful spiritual lessons of my life.  

It's back again.  

If history repeats itself, change is coming.  
My go-to band when I get like this is Switchfoot. 

I love their sound, their message of making the most of the time we have, their intensity.  
It's good stuff.

In the lyrics of that song, 
"Whether I sink, whether I swim, it makes no difference when I'm
beautifully in over my head."

Right now it feels like winter, 

but I'm hoping spring is right around the corner.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Happy Halloween!!

Maddie LOVES Halloween!
Dress up is her most beloved activity so combine that with candy and it's heaven!!

She was Minnie Mouse!

This year she went up to the doors all by herself...

She did a great job saying, "Trick-or-treat" and "Thank-You", and then she would run back to us and say, "I did it!"

Halfway through the night, we taught her to say, "Happy Halloween!"
At this house, they had fun talking to her and when she ended with Happy Halloween, they laughed and said, "Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas!" 

She then told the next few houses, Merry Christmas!  LOL!

For those of us trick-or-treating ourselves, we left candy out in a bowl for trick-or-treaters to help themselves.
Daddy taught her which candies to select in a situation like this...chocolate trumps all others, of course!

We had a great time this year. 
The weather was gorgeous and the neighborhood was bustling with activity!

Another year in the books!

"Happy Halloween, Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Don't Fix Me, Just Enjoy Me"

A couple of years ago I had a conversation with another Down Syndrome Mommy with a few more years experience. 

She had wise words for me. 

I knew at the time this wasn't just another casual conversation at a birthday party.
Something inside me said, "Listen up, and listen well.  You need to hear this!"

She humbly offered advice from her plate of perspective and experience with a side of "if I had to do it all over again."

The context was therapy.
At one point, we needed two hands to count all the the specialists in Maddie's life.  

In all her wisdom she said, "Don't forget to enjoy them."

I heard her words, and knew they were important, but it took a while for them to permeate.    
We had a full schedule of appointments for Speech, Occupational Therapy, Cranial Sacral adjustments, etc. 
It wasn't a walk in the park for any of us.
As a mom, we just do what we have to do and sacrifice what we need to for the sake of our children. 
I thought this was what life with a special needs child was supposed to be like.
I didn't see it at the time, but Maddie was so frustrated. 

I wonder if she could have articulated it, if she would have said,
"Don't fix me, just enjoy me."

Hind sight is 20/20, right?
I can see now that we are in a good, healthy place how all that effort and energy and economic resources spent on helping her may not have been for the best.  

I had a crisis of purpose, and God was whispering to my soul.
It began with a casual conversation at a birthday party.
Then, it was the thought, "why don't you homeschool?"
I opened my heart to the idea of homeschool, and it's like when I did, my eyes were then opened to see Maddie the way she was meant to be seen.

Nothing, thus far, has been as rewarding in my motherhood journey as homeschooling.
And it's really not so much about what she's learning (or not learning), it's much more about discovering what makes her tick.
It's noticing that her attention span is very limited from one day to the next and connecting cause and effect.  
It's seeing that look in her eye and the joy she feels when she gets it.
It's connection.

And isn't that what life is all about?
I would venture to suggest this idea of trying to fix our children is universal.  
It may rear its ugly head more easily in children whose needs are easily identified, but it could be true for any parent.

My friend's words were so wise,  I believe they are worth repeating.
"Don't forget to enjoy them!"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Let's Catch Up, Shall We?

We had an unforgettable summer, in both good ways and bad.  

Maddie just turned 7, which seems so surreal.
She picked out water balloons at the Dollar Tree and wanted to throw them on her birthday.

She would get really frustrated when they wouldn't bust!
Her Daddy taught her to throw them high...


We are still working on potty training but definitely making some progress and heading in the right direction.
She's still not sleeping through the night, and it seems like we may have to look into another sleep study to to check on her sleep apnea.
Her expressive speech has improved drastically.  
The other day we were in JCPenny's looking at purses and she said, "ooh, look Mom, cool, huh?"
It seems insignificant, but this was the first time I remember her stating an original thought on her own that wasn't just repeating back something said to her, or asking for something she wanted.

We have been very focused on homeschool lately.

Throughout the summer months, we tried to do homeschool, but we could never really find a rhythm.  It was very hit and miss, and Maddie was not exactly cooperative.  
I had invested in a set of curriculum that targeted neurodevelopment, thinking it would be the perfect fit.
As it turns out, it wasn't.  

In August, I decided to shake things up and focused on reading and having fun.
Armed with just a picture book, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, we began a whole new homeschooling adventure!

Together we made our own Jesse Bear.
(before you think, oh i could never do that, believe me...if I can do it, so can you.
I made lots of mistakes in the making of Jesse Bear, and he looks more like the Hunchback from Notre Dame than he does a sweet, cuddly bear, but Maddie doesn't care! She loves him!)

She practiced her scissor skills when cutting out the pattern.
We used fine motor skills to stuff Jesse Bear.
And we discovered how wonderful the stuffing feels, a new sensory exploration!

Before we sewed Jesse Bear up, we gave him a heart.
We read Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ Jesus forgave you."
We talked about how Jesse Bear's heart is kind, tender, and forgiving.

On one of the pages in the book it shows Jesse Bear chasing butterflies with a net.  Maddie picked up on that and I found a butterfly net at the Dollar Tree.
We "caught" butterflies and counted them.

 The "butterflies" are just a pad of paper I found at Mardel. I folded them in half, thinking they would flutter.

We had a blast! And she just so happened to catch 7 butterflies on her 7th birthday, so we talked about how old she is now.

I only intended to spend a couple of weeks on Jesse Bear What Will You Wear? but she is still so excited about the book, we continue to read it every day.
She's began picking up the words and can read "red","pants","bear", and "wear."

Next week we have the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma's annual festival and fundraiser with a 5K run.

We are gearing up for that and excited to see our friends.

Maddie has already decided she wants to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween (which she absolutely LOVES!)  Of all the holidays, I would never have guessed Halloween would be her favorite, but it is!

Hopefully, I'll keep the blog updated more often now that we have seemed to find our daily rhythm with homeschooling.

Until then,
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Embrace

God can be confusing sometimes.

For those not familiar with my situation, read this post.

I consider those five days between hearing and believing what was possible to be a spiritual pilgrimage for me. 

During those five days in my daily bible reading plan I've been following, I "stumbled upon" verses like John 15:7,

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

The next day it was John 16:23b-24
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.  Until now you have asked nothing in my name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

The progression of the journey had three parts.

First, I had to reconcile whether or not I truly believed God was ABLE to work this miracle of breathing life back into the baby.

Once that was established, the next step was determining whether God DESIRED to work a miracle. 

Most of my nights during this five day time span were spent on my knees in prayer, for at least some portion of the early morning hours.
I'll admit I'm not accustomed to praying on my knees, but I discovered there's something about that posture that makes the prayer experience deeper, more real, and tangible.

After some intense prayer, I concluded it was God's desire.

Finally, I had to reconcile whether or not I had the faith to RECEIVE  the miracle.  

Looking back, perhaps that's where the plan faltered.

Isn't it incredible that the God of the universe whose spoken words have the power to create the sun, moon, and stars yet he chooses to partner with fallible, feeble humans?

I'll be honest, that Tuesday afternoon, during the moment of truth when there was, in fact, no heartbeat, my first thoughts were, "God, I can't deal with you right now. Leave me alone."

Full disclosure: my ego couldn't have handled such a miracle.

I don't know for sure if that's why things happened the way they did, but there are a few truths I have picked up along the journey, which helps to know there is purpose.
1) God is good.
2) It's prideful to assume I'm entitled to answers.
3) Gratitude not only heals but transforms.
4) An eternal perspective changes everything.

The biggest take-away, however, has been this:
Embrace whatever comes your way.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Follow Up

I know dying-pain.  
We became acquainted when I was 20 years old.
Dying-pain is slow, deliberate, and methodical.  
It wants to go unnoticed until it gradually takes over.
For a naive little girl, it was unrecognizable except for a single moment of clarity when I saw it...just 30 minutes away from cardiac arrest.

What I experienced last week was not dying-pain.
It was unrelenting-pain.
In contrast to dying-pain, unrelenting-pain demands to be noticed.
It's greedy, voracious appetite will accept nothing less than your full attention.
It's in-your-face-drill-sergeant-pain that insists you wake from slumber and FEEL!

It was scary.
But I've never felt more alive than when I was scared to death.

I've been on a journey exploring pain and its usefulness.  
So often we pray for the removal of pain, but what about the redemption of pain?

We went to the ultrasound appointment.
We did not experience the miracle we were hoping to see.
There was no heartbeat, and I felt nothing.
I was numb.
I stayed numb the rest of that day, the following day, the day after surgery.
Until finally, unrelenting-pain showed up.

"Wake up!", he shouted.
"Cry, feel, experience this life!"

It's too soon to process the events of the past few weeks.
But one thing I do know,
you can't stuff it down, ignore it, distract yourself from it.
If emotional pain is ignored, it will manifest itself as physical pain.
Dying-pain, unrelenting-pain, whatever you name it, it will come.
Listen to it.
It could redeem you from yourself.

My goal is to gently allow time and space to process what's happened.
Answers will come when the time is right.  
God-willing, I just have to keep myself open to the journey ahead.  

I want to thank  you all so much for walking with me through this journey.
I cannot describe the comfort I feel knowing I am surrounded by so much love.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Beginning of the End or The Way to a Miracle?

On May 2nd we found out we were pregnant.

Today, June 4th, it was confirmed the baby had died. 

The verse that's lingering in my mind is Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen."

My body has refused to give up hope and has not begun the miscarriage process.  
It's been 3 weeks.
I couldn't commit to the finalization process.  
Although it makes no sense, my doctor suggested we do another ultrasound. 
So, next week I will go in once more to see if we find a heartbeat. 
This, however, is more than likely the beginning of the end.  

Hope drives us to do crazy things, but I'm not ashamed.  
I need to know that we have given God sufficient time to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.  

In some ways by praying this verse over the situation, it seems like I'm putting God's power on trial.  
I believe he is able to breath life into this baby, but I also know that even if this is the beginning of the end, I will follow Him.  

When I asked why Ephesians 3:20-21, God led me to another verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9
"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." 

I confess I put God in boxes.
I say I believe in miracles, but do I really?
The definition of  a miracle states:
"a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency."

If on Tuesday we go and we do not see a heartbeat, I will look like a fool believing in miracles.
But what if we go and see the heartbeat?
I think I would rather risk being a fool than offending God with a spirit of unbelief.

Besides, even if this is the beginning of the end I won't fall,
Isaiah 41:13
"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you."

Click here to read The Follow Up

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ups and Downs of Down Syndrome & SPD

This has been a crazy week of lots of ups and downs.  

It began Sunday. 
I usually teach in the nursery, but this Sunday Kyle and I were in Maddie's class teaching.  
This was the first time for me to teach her class. 
Sometimes life has a way of dishing out a large dose of reality.
I never realized how difficult social situations are for her. 

At home she's busy, vibrant, talkative, and on the go.
In public she's reserved, shut off, defensive, and withdrawn.

It's heartbreaking. 
Big Down. 

The next morning she and I were out pulling weeds in the flower bed.  
She was beside herself with joy!
At one point she pointed to her face and exclaimed, "I'm HAPPY!!!
Huge Up!

Later that same day we went to the library.
While I was getting some books to check out, Maddie was playing on the computers.
Another little girl came to the library and after a few minutes she came up to me and said, "I saw your daughter sitting over there and she was mean to me!"
Her mom quickly chimed in and said she was not mean.
I told her sometimes Maddie just doesn't know what to say to new friends.

It's interesting that this little girl interpreted Maddie's "stand-offishness" as mean.  
I know what she's talking about.  
Maddie does not respond appropriately or what we consider to be polite in social situations.  

It's heartbreaking.
Big Down.

But then we get home and she helps me in the kitchen and I'm blown away by her abilities.

She was helping roll out naan bread!  

After her good work she exclaimed, "I did it! I did it! I did it!" 
Huge Up!

This is actually a typical week for us, full of ups and downs.  
There's always something to learn from all of it.

We've realized we really need to practice teaching Maddie how to handle herself in public.
Things that you don't necessarily think you have to teach kids like: 
1) When someone says "hi" you say "hi" back to them
2) When someone tells you "bye" the right thing to do is say "bye" back to them
3) When someone asks how old you are, tell them "I'm 6"

And then of course, the things that we all have to teach children like
1) What a compliment is and to say thank you afterward
2) How to have a conversation (ask a question, wait for a response, they ask a question, you answer)

We've got a lot of work ahead of us! 
Next time you see Maddie, help us practice.  
Tell her hi and ask her how old she is!

Friday, April 17, 2015

This is it.

For me, this is it.

This is what childhood is all about!!

I cannot even put into words how much I love these photos.

You know how there are little gifts in life that give you just the boost you need to keep on keeping on? 

This is it for me.
Consider me boosted!