Well, it’s been no secret that we’ve been on the health struggle bus since we moved here. I’ve spent a lot more time worried about my husband and babies than myself, but that finally caught up with me. After my 10th positive strep test this year and many weeks of waiting, I finally got into an ENT.
He dug around and found necrotic tissue in my tonsils. Not good. He found swelling that was very bad. Before the exam he asked if I had bigger concerns about the sinus stuff or my tonsils. After the exam he asked me when I’d like to get them out. Essentially our discussion of options became option-less. “This is what we have to do!” became the tone of the conversation.
He was kind and patient when answering my questions. He’s hopeful that removing my festering tonsils will help that sinus pressure/infections and other problems. We finished our visit, and I was sent right to the scheduler. My surgery is scheduled for next month.
What does this mean? 10-14 days in bed where I will be able to do little other than pain management work and getting as much sleep as I can. What does this mean for my family?
1. I’m thankful that Rob’s workplace is filled with people who care about each person in my family. He will be able to work and help take care of all of us. I can’t express what that means or how thankful I am that we made the move for him to work with such incredible people. I’m working on a big article for a magazine so my timeline just got pushed way up. I am so thankful my boss is working with me on this. We now have editing scheduled during my recovery.
2. I was supposed to help host our gospel community next month, but now I can’t. If you know how much I love to host, you know I was really so upset to have to share that news. The second I told everyone, people began pulling out their phones and making a meal train, and putting MY surgery on THEIR calendars. We have longed for this ability to connect with the body for so long. I’m beyond grateful for that moment.
3. One of my best friends offered to figure out flying in or out of here if she could make it work without me even asking. My sister immediately volunteered to come stay the weekends to give Rob a break and help. My parents volunteered to come for the surgery day and for a few days to help Rob. A sweet friend even volunteered to just come watch TV with me so I wouldn’t be alone. More friends promised to step in and do whatever we needed- all because they love us.
4. Now a not so pleasant one: I have to stop breastfeeding. I never thought I’d do that longer than a year, but things have been so easy this go ’round, and Joshua has been so committed. Seriously, he loves to breastfeed still. I thought I was so ready to be done, but I already see how it’s frustrating him. I know my body can’t be responsible for such work post surgery, but this one has been tough on my heart.
This is surely going to be trying for all of us. If you think about our family next month, please pray that this procedure goes well, brings healing and restored health, and that the recovery is light on everyone. I hope my babies understand why I can’t be with them. I hope they get along and have so much fun with their daddy. I have every reason to hope this will all go well.
My mind is stressed trying to get all the ducks in a row- one more birthday party, getting Christmas decorations up, getting shopping squared away, and trying to prep as much as I can. I’m a planner. I like to know what’s in front of me. This is surely messing up an already busy time of year, but I’m trying, really trying, to set us up for this to go as well as possible all while remembering to breathe.
As my brain works triple overtime, pray for peace for all of us on the road to surgery and after. It’s going to be hard, but as I am learning, trusting God with my eternity means trusting Him with all of our today’s. For surgery day and after, I am choosing to set my mind and heart in trusting Him to care for all of us. He’s already showing up.
This last 12+ months have been hard on our family. With a tonsillectomy after endless strep, the flu, viruses, ear infections, and on and on, there has just seemed to be no end in sight.
That’s been hard. That’s been overwhelming. In some ways that has put blinders on me which blocked my peripheral. In that, I couldn’t see something huge.
Lauren was talking to me about her friend Jack at school. She’s told me some things about playing with him before. Today she told me Jack used to travel all the time. I asked why. She said, “Jack is a child cancer survivor. He travelled to Disney World, and to see doctors. He’s better now. His hair is growing back.” I couldn’t even think what to say for a second. I asks if she was sure he is better now. She said he was. She said, “Yes, he’s a survivor.”
If that wasn’t enough, a dear friend posted something to the effect of trusting God with her eternity, but not trusting Him with her now. I felt that one. I felt that one deep. God was gracious enough to make sure I wasn’t missing what He was saying to me through this post.
It is wearing to feel like your constantly running to the doctor, scrubbing and Lysoling, in line at the pharmacy, diffusing oils, measuring medicine, and trying to keep everyone well. I have felt that for a long time. It’s real, but this is too:
Inside my blinders I forgot to be thankful that what my kids have needed to be well was just a trip to the pharmacy away.
All they’ve had has been completely treatable. Even with having to go through surgery, the recovery went incredibly well. Even in this long, hard season, I should be so thankful for the positive things that have come, even in the sickness. I should be filled with gratitude for how we’ve had the access and means to care for our family completely. I will be thankful for those things.
I hear you Lord. I will be so much more intentional about trusting Him in each now, as they come.
I don’t give myself enough credit or grace, but I don’t think I’m alone in that. When I drop one ball, no matter how many others are STILL in the air, I feel it deeply.
Yesterday was tricycle parade day at kid’s day out for Joshua. I read the flyer, but:
1. I forgot.
2. I missed the part about them wearing their costumes.
3. I missed the part about needing to bring a tricycle.
Oh the trifecta of failure!
Here’s what happened. I carried Joshua into the gym, and since momma’s arms are his favorite mode of transportation, and I wasn’t leaving right then, he was thrilled.
He and I played chase all over the gym, and he loved running around the cones. All of the kids immediately bailed on their tricycles and ran and played. Joshua did not care that he wasn’t in a costume.
It fell hard on me though as I left headed into the office. After I left work I had to go by Ethan’s school to take his nap mat by since it was left at home Monday and Tuesday morning after I washed it over the weekend. I dropped it in the office, and they were very kind to me. They said that happens all the time, it was no big deal, and that they’d be sure he got it.
A diagnostician was leaving, and she said, “I don’t know why they send those things home so much. You know what happened to my kid’s nap mat when they were that age? It stayed in my car until Monday! We washed them maybe once every 6 weeks, and they were fine! All that they’re doing is giving you too many chances to forget it!”
That. That was what I needed in that moment. Someone who also lives a life with a million balls in the air to say that missing one thing was not a failure. Missing one this was not the end of the world.
That’s where I live. I live in the neighborhood of struggle because to err is human, and I forget that I am. I am a lot of things and have a lot of responsibility, BUT I AM HUMAN. I can make mistakes and not feel any less valid in my efforts.
I know I’m an overachiever. I know that I’ve had to work double time for every opportunity I’ve ever had. I know that aim toward perfection has always been my way, and it’s suffocating.
I see this most when God holds up a mirror when my kids struggle. Right now the biggest place I see this is Lauren. It’s not because we put that pressure on her. She does. She is a little bit too much like me in this area. If she misses the right answer, she gets upset. If everything isn’t 100 percent, she feels like she failed.
God is good in it. He’s giving me chance to change her trajectory. He’s giving me chances to heal this in me by seeing it and having to pour grace over Lauren, I can hear it for myself too. I can hear that getting it wrong is just part of learning. I can hear how 100 percent doesn’t matter as much as learning and trying your best. I can hear that even when you get the wrong answer, you can learn from it to know what to do next time. I get to tell her she just needs to slow down and remember to be patient with herself.
God is so good and He does good for us. He is healing me and teaching her about His heart for her. I am thankful. I am hopeful. I am glad to be His daughter. I am glad that there is grace for this. I am glad to be a part of breaking this cycle for my babies.
I’ve had to examine myself a lot lately. Have you ever had that feeling that all is not well in your heart, but you couldn’t get your finger on exactly what is bothering you? It’s a gnawing feeling. It doesn’t relent, and you have to examine yourself in an effort to keep bitterness or anger or resentment out of your heart. I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt those things welling up. I have so much to be thankful for, and I really am. There was just something that felt heavy. There was something I couldn’t see. When I did see it, it hit me with the full force of an 18 wheeler.
The truth is that those things were rearing up in me over reasons that were all about me. The way I saw life panning out has been interrupted. Doesn’t that always get us- when life gets in the way of our plans? Don’t we feel wronged, even if it’s not deeply wronged, when what we hoped seems all but lost?
There was some of that coming in, and by the time I noticed it, I had already given it more ground than I realized. I was sad. I was defeated. I didn’t understand why. Why were there things that were always going to be hard or at least harder than I expected or planned? Why was there so much more to do just to get to okay? Were things always going to harder than I wanted them to be? What would happen when I am no longer here to carry that weight?
These thoughts kept me up at night until I looked at myself closely enough to see them and what they were doing to me. Robbing me of peace. Shaking awake the reality that in some ways, everything would not turn out how I thought. With ruined dreams, slain hopes, and a picturesque life taken away, I had to figure out what was more important, what was most valuable. Were those things it? Had I hoped in them? Had I trusted that things would just go the way they “should” so much that them not going that way had shaken me?
I was half praying and half thinking through what was happening in my heart and mind, when a song I heard years before came to mind (link to video below). It struck me like a lightning bolt, and I could not be more thankful.
Though You Slay Me. In this I remembered that what He is doing is for my refining. What He’s doing is for His glory. What He’s doing is preparing me for eternity. What He is ruining is my way so that I would seek to know His. What He taking are my dreams so that I might know the destiny I was created for. What He is slaying is my desire to depend on anything besides Him, and in that, He is setting me free from the expectation of what things are supposed to be in my mind so that I might know that what He has is better. In crushing me in all of it, He is showing me the grace of receiving a beauty that is coming when I clutched the ashes of what I thought was over. It’s not over. He is not finished being good or doing good for me.
What is coming is more knowing and living in the truth of His sufficiency in all things. What is coming is splendor and joy through the exalting of the name of Jesus, whether or not life has ease. What is coming is deeper foundations being built into who I am because He loves me enough to show me what He has for me beyond what I planned for me.
What does that cost? Letting go. Living the hope I know to be real, and trusting His Father heart to meet me and minister to me and restore in me what was meant to feel like loss. I am not lost. I have always been in His hand. He has always been working for my good- especially when it didn’t feel like it.
What’s next? Waiting. Trusting. And waiting some more. This waiting is with the greatest expectations that what is coming will not wound but will bring with it the joy that I’m promised in Him. If you’re in this place too, hold fast. The things that hurt are not meant to break you beyond what needs to be wrenched from you.
What is coming is glorious. What is coming is for your good, and will work about a weight of glory that will be in you now and with you for eternity. Every bit of it matters. Every bit of it is seen. In every bit of it, you are being loved.
I’m trying really hard to take care of myself through creating time and space for opportunities to rest and be still. This is counterintuitive for me. I spend my days (and nights) caring for others and our home. I wanted to try to find a way to have an opportunity to just be and relax.
The idea I landed on was simple: take a 20 minute bath after Rob gets home. It didn’t have to start at the same time. With three kids, everything requires flexibility so that wasn’t important. The important thing was that it had to happen, and it had to be at least 20 minutes Monday through Friday that week. Here are my take aways and the things I learned:
1. I’m not used to slowing down. I set a timer to ensure I stayed in the whole 20 minutes. The first time I checked it to see how much time had passed it had only been 6 minutes. I checked because I was already feeling antsy from being still. I wouldn’t let myself check it again, but it was hard the first few days to not just rush out of the tub.
2. 20 minutes flies by when I’m making lunch, but when I’m trying to be still, it seemed like an eternity. Again, it felt weird to be alone and not doing something for that long.
3. No one died. I have an incredible husband who is an amazing dad. He took great care of our kids without me. I don’t have to be right there doing everything for everyone to be okay all the time. They were fine without me in the same room, and everyone survived and was happy to see me after my bath.
4. I really love the tub in our new house, and I really love bath bombs still. I honestly forgot I even had them, and I’ve hardly used our tub in the almost year that we’ve lived in our house.
As much as I had to fight down my impulse to get out sooner or to not feel bad about that 20 minutes, I’m glad I challenged myself to do this. It truly was a challenge for me. I’m sure there are people who get long hot baths anytime they want who will read this and think, “What’s the big deal?” This may seem like the norm for others, but doing something just for me is not my default.
Most of the time I have at least the tiniest twinge of guilt when I take time for myself. I’m learning from life and those dear to me that I have to. My friend Becca taught me that you can’t pour out of an empty vessel. You have to fill yourself up with good things you need to be able to pour out for others. I have to be full. I have to rest and refuel, and I can’t do that if I never slow down. I have to remember that I’m a person still, and having needs comes with that territory.
20 minutes a day may not seem like much, but it was so good. I can’t wait to do it again. So here’s the challenge, if you’re still with me:
Find something that requires you to be still and alone. Don’t do anything that requires any kind of effort- just be. Create the space to do that for 20 minutes a day for at least five days in a row and see what happens.
No one will die. All the wheels won’t fall off without you. You are a person who has the right to need things no matter what your days are filled with. Slow down. Be still. Breathe. Give yourself that gift. Give yourself some space. No shame. No guilt. Remember that you are worthy of good things, and rest is something you are called to.
It’s hard to know where to begin. When life ebbs and flows in tiny wakes, we forget it can be rough. When the wakes form into giant waves that send you reeling, it’s hard to remember your strength. Even when you’ve known the sea was building, you see the wave out on the distant horizon, and know it’s coming for you, that doesn’t mean the wave can’t crash so hard that your lungs fill with a sting that makes everything hurt; in that moment trying to breathe is useless. In that moment all you can do is wait for the wave to pass and then fight to get your head above water.
That’s what these moments have felt like. For a long time we’ve had good reason to believe that Ethan was on the autism spectrum. His speech is still pretty delayed (even though he’s surprising us all the time), he does not like making eye contact, he has tantrums and outbursts out of nowhere, he is completely impulsive, and loves the rhythms of repetition. We were not surprised to hear the developmental pediatrician say he has, “high functioning autism,” but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hit like the wave breaking in a hurricane. It doesn’t mean that even with our suspicions in hand, being clued in for the first time to the fact that there are things he’s going to have to work much harder at than most kids wasn’t crushing. Oh, the pain of knowing that there are challenges your child will face that you can’t fix or make go away! It is the deepest and most real pain.
Does this change anything about how we see Ethan? No. Does this change who he is to us? No. See the list above has everything to do with Ethan’s behavior and development and very little to do with his heart. He is the kindest child. He genuinely cares about those around him. He loves to be outside. Fresh air and movement are his love languages. Well, music belongs in that list also. He believes in himself, and he is fearless in the face of new challenges. He is tenacious and not easily deterred. He loves books, and he really loves Pete the Cat books. He memorizes them faster than most any four year old can. Words matter to him, and I think it’s because he’s had to earn every single one. He is the coolest kid! He has a smile that can take any hard moment or day and make it better. He gives the best hugs. He wraps you up in his arms and legs and lavishes all the affection he can on you. He is amazing. He is a gift, a blessing, and a joy. He always will be.
So what does this diagnosis mean? It means we will have access to tools that can help and equip Ethan for his life. Ethan will learn behavioral things and speech things, and we will learn how to be the parents he needs us to be. We will learn more how to meet him where he is, and we will learn what it means to come alongside him in the ways he needs.
This autism diagnosis isn’t a curse, but it is a means to open the right doors for him. When I think of it that way, I can see what good that access can do for him. I won’t pretend it hasn’t been an exhausting time trying to figure out insurance, evaluations, scheduling appointments, and hanging in on day to day life. It’s been hard. When I’m stressed, I don’t sleep.
Sleep has been elusive for me for weeks. That’s one way I know it’s time to step back and ask for help. I’m so bad at that, but I reached out to a friend named Kristal whose son has autism, and she told me it takes a village and welcomed me to talk with her anytime. That was the first thing that fought against the feeling of figuring it all out alone. That feeling, the feeling of community, took the sting from my lungs and is allowing me to breathe. The next big breath came when the ladies at the speech therapy place we toured spent hours each day chasing down our benefits and working to get us set up. They kept in contact and kept reminding us that they were going to make sure Ethan gets that he needs.
It’s hardest when you feel that lump that says not all is right, and it’s harder when you’re like me and hate asking for help. I’ve always had to go out and work hard for everything. I’ve never been one to be dependent on other people and have always only wanted to depend on myself (marriage was the first time that began to change for me). In the few weeks in getting everything rolling, I know it will take a village. I know that helping Ethan get what he needs will be hard at times, but I know we aren’t alone. I also know he has a daddy and mommy who will fight to no end to advocate for him!
Since the diagnosis, one of my great joys is to hear Ethan sing the song “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman (link below). Everything in this song is a gift for where we are. He sings it with such conviction that it fills me with hope that if or when the bullies come, or he’s left out or treated differently, he will hold fast to every incredible part of who he is.
This is a diagnosis. Ethan is still Ethan, and I could not be more proud of the person he is and the person I see him becoming.
Our “middle” Ethan turned 4 yesterday. I’ve said it before and I will always believe that he is adventure personified. He has the sweetest way about him, and watching him sneak a kiss on top of his baby brother’s head always makes me smile. When we catch him doing things like that, the look in his face always says, “Just be cool guys!” He is an incredible kid.
This year his progress has left us in awe. His communicative and social skills are developing at such a pace that we are watching him flourish. It is an unfolding heart that as we begin to see inside we have even deeper understanding of who our son is. That feeling leaves me breathless. That feeling leaves me awash with new hope.
We celebrated Ethan with some of the people who love him and our family most in the world. We had the best time, and he was so excited- about his birthday cake! This year that’s just what he wanted, and as soon as he saw it, he got in his seat, with a plate, ready to go!
Part of this delay is that it makes it harder to connect abstract language so directions like, “Blow out the candles,” are not easy to understand. Yesterday, Ethan loved getting to have us sing happy birthday to him, and he, without help at all, blew out his candles! That connection happened. He understood, and then he did it. Something so “simple” may not seem like a big deal in your house, but my heart just about burst wide open when this moment happened. It was incredible. It was another testament to how far we’ve come and where we’re headed. I could not be more proud.
Ethan, you will always be my guy and my pal. I hope you always love to sing and dance with Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. I hope that each year we add another candle to your cake, we know more and more about your beautiful heart, and that you know how deeply thankful we are for you and your life. You are a gift and a blessing and a joy, and momma loves you all the time- always, no matter what!
I’m always behind on the new slang “the kids are using nowadays!” I say that jokingly, but I really mean it. When I catch up, my husband usually already knows what it means so he’s my dictionary for stuff like that. Here’s my least favorite: “So extra!”
I really don’t like this term for a couple of reasons:
- The meaning it encapsulates
- The fact that I think it just sounds stupid. Say it out loud. Say it in context. Here’s an example: “She did so much for her kid’s birthday party. That’s so extra!” Does that not just sound really stupid out loud?
Here’s why it really bothers me. It’s a putdown. It’s a knock. It’s saying someone’s effort at something is “too much.” Why? Because this person who is putting them down wouldn’t work as hard as them in the same situation? Probably. Does it sound petty and a little jealous? I think so.
As a Texan I can say, most of the best things in life are extra. Guacamole. Queso. They are extra, and when you add either in they bring a magic that would otherwise missing. That’s a little joke, but why would anyone want to knock someone else for doing more than you would?
Look, I’m not about putting others down because they do anything differently than me. I’m not about looking at HOW someone tends the garden of their heart. I’m all about keeping my eyes on mine, and watching how I’m cultivating what’s growing in me. When something blooms in someone else, I want to look at that beauty and celebrate with them, and I don’t care how those blooms came. If those blooms came through different talents or different means, it shouldn’t cause someone to want to pluck the petals in someone else’s garden. That’s what you do when you talk about people this way. Even if you don’t have the guts to say it to their faces, if you say it to enough people, it will get back to them, and it will hurt.
Why would you want to hurt someone or ask them to diminish themselves? What about that could ever be okay? Look, we are all really good at not seeing the best parts of ourselves. If someone does see this as a good part of themselves and you criticize them, you could level that garden in their heart with one blow!
Here’s the deal: I am that person. There’s not been anything in my life that I’ve not had to work really hard for. I have worked and toiled and labored for everything. Being all in is the only way I know how to do anything. You may not know that’s my story. Here’s another part of my story.
We never really got to have birthday parties. Our family just couldn’t afford it. We had everything we could for our birthdays, and I’m thankful for that. As the parent now, I go big at birthdays. I love to throw my kids parties! I love to have fun things for the kids to do, I love decorating, and cooking for our guests. I love to give them a day where they know that we love them and want to celebrate them. Maybe I want to give them what I couldn’t have. You need to know someone’s story and why they do what they do before you put them down. I’m thankful for their lives, and I want to celebrate that by going big- it’s the only way I know to do it, and I’ve never regretted it!
I realize that everything about the way I do this and other things would cause people to call me “extra.” Here’s the deal though: I am a confident woman who is very comfortable with who I am and why I do what I do WHICH MEANS I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT IT. While these people are busy being petty, I’m busy enjoying my life without a need to rob myself of joy through comparison. Expend your energy on something positive for you instead of using it up putting others down. Does that make anyone feel better? If that makes you feel better, really look at the deepest parts of yourself because that’s not okay.
Can we all as adults just agree not to talk about each other this way? Maybe that’s why this is something the kids are saying nowadays- it’s immature. It does nothing to build anyone up. It does nothing to contribute to your soul. It does nothing besides grow a discontented spirit that needs to put others down because you are not willing to work hard in the same ways or on the same things.
Maybe these people need to be a little more extra. Maybe they wouldn’t put others down if they were willing to get up and give all their effort to something. Maybe they need a little extra dose of grow-up-and-stop-being-petty!
In the end that’s what this is. It isn’t really an issue with the mom throwing the birthday parties or making fun snacks for the class or the person who does whatever their soul loves to do. This is your issue, and it only reflects what’s really in your heart.
Grow something better. Cultivate something beautiful instead. That’s what we all need. In the chaos around us, we all need to be about growing and giving each other something to celebrate. Be willing to celebrate someone else even if it’s not what you would do or how you would do it!
Now someone pass the guacamole. Don’t forget the tortilla chips!
When I began this journey at Graduate school, I knew it was a calling. I knew I would carry the name of Jesus with me everywhere I went on any campus I worked on when that day came.
What I didn’t see until the last few days was a reason why I’m studying what I’m studying is important; I did, but not in relationship to the current state of the world. I’m going receive degrees in Communication Studies and Conflict and Dispute Resolution. Have you watched the news lately? I can’t think of a better thing to be involved in than teaching people how to use their voices effectively and well along with teaching them to deal with conflict in healthy ways.
As I come to the end of my time as a student, I am incredibly grateful for this call that put me on this path on the way to making a difference in this world for the glory and renown of Christ.
On my graduation cap, I will paint the quote, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I am changing the things I cannot accept…” – Angela Davis
What would the world look like if we all did something about the things we couldn’t accept? Genocide. Human trafficking. Rape culture. Bullying. Corporations owning politicians. Injustice. Clean water for all. Racism. The list is much longer than this, and I don’t think that I am at the end of this journey; I am content to wait and pray and move when called.
What does that thing look like for you? What can you no longer accept? Get in the fight. Stop waiting for someone else to get it done. Get yourself up and get it done! Find your voice and use it. Nothing will ever be better or different unless we shout down and fight against what is unacceptable.
If you think it’ll be scary, you’re probably right. If you think it’ll be hard to do, it probably will be. Don’t let any of that stop you from chasing down that thing by equipping yourself and making a difference. The difficulty is easy to see upfront, but that doesn’t mean the it won’t be worth it. Changing the world by ridding it of what is unacceptable in it is something we can all aspire to.
God is a God of justice. You were not set free for just you. You were set free to release His call in you by listening to and following Him. Go for it. If He is calling you, He will see you through. I say this as a wife and mom of three who was completely unsure of where the time or energy to do anything outside of my regular day to day would come from. It isn’t easy, but I’ll never doubt that every step of this journey has been worth it!
Go make a difference. Change is seldom easy, but is often worth it. If we all begin to change the unacceptable things, they will eventually be defeated. Stay in the fight. Be about your call completely. Never give up.