Friday, December 20, 2013

Worth It

My heart aches today. It's not often that I get emotional about controversial issues. I figure everybody has the right to their own opinion. But THIS? This just sucks the life right out of me. 

I know I've posted a lot about the hard days; especially since Lexi's diagnosis. I'm not sorry about that, but I don't want you to get the wrong impression. 

Yes, I have two children who need more care than most. 

Yes, the hard days take precedence sometimes.   

Do I ever wake up and wonder why God chose me, of all people, to be their Mama? Absolutely. 

But...

Do I ever wish they weren't here? Sweet Lord, absolutely NOT. 

It's true that we didn't know about either diagnosis beforehand. We opted not to have prenatal screenings with either pregnancy. 1) Because of the invasiveness of the procedure and 2) Because it wouldn't change the outcome.  

In the aforementioned article, the parents of Oliver (who is 5 years old now, by the way) said that if they had truly known ahead of time, they would have terminated the pregnancy. In other words, if they could do it over again, homeslice and her husband would've purposefully ended Oliver's life. 

And, maybe even more disturbing, is that more than one person agreed with that statement. 

You can argue that this has nothing to do with whether or not Oliver's parents love him. I would disagree with you with my whole damn heart. You cannot both love your child and quote "want him terminated." 

Forgive me (or don't) for the way this may come out... 

But praise God Benjamin and Alexis are mine. Much like when I posted about the way children with disabilities are treated in other countries, I feel so beyond ecstatic that I am able to provide a safe and healthy environment for two very, very special kids. 

Though some days are, inevitably, more difficult than others... 

My children are my life. And life is always, ALWAYS worth it. 




One day; one sweet, blessed day... Things will change. 

"No matter what stage of development, no matter the level of physical or intellectual abilities, no matter the race or gender, every human life has dignity and should be nurtured and protected. To claim any child's birth as 'wrongful,' or that having a disabled child is a 'tragedy' as the Valley Medical Center's statement declared not only rejects the inherent dignity of little Oliver, but of all human life."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Honest

I love the ocean, but it can also be an intimidating environment. I grew up snorkeling on the east coast of Florida. With the help of my friend, James, I learned a lot about various sea creatures and ocean life. How anybody can spend hours looking through the lenses of plastic goggles at brilliant colors and intricate detail and not attribute such beauty to a Creator, is far beyond me...but that's beside the point.

More than once while snorkeling, I would take a deep breath and dive down to get a closer look. Also more than once, I would underestimate how far I had actually gone. Turning around only to realize I had to hurry before I lost what oxygen I had left in my lungs, the ocean's top seemed to just get farther and farther away until it felt like I'd never reach it. Sometimes the beginning stages of panic would set in and life may or may not have begun it's movie reel in my mind. Sometimes someone would reach their arm down until it was the only thing I could see. I'd swim and swim until I finally felt the mighty, outstretched arm waiting for me on the other side. I knew I had made it. I knew I would be okay. 

I wouldn't say I've reached the surface yet. Life has gotten a little easier since the move, but I wouldn't call it fantastic. Some days are easy. When the babies are in good spirits; when there's not a whole lot to worry about. We have more good days that bad now, but I wouldn't call it wonderful. Maybe just mildly okay.

Truth is, Cystic Fibrosis and Down Syndrome are still in the constant forefront of my mind. I'm constantly torn between acknowledging their differences and ignoring them completely. I've said that before about Down syndrome. I feel like maybe that's a little easier to ignore. Like I've said, Ben is healthy. Other than a few therapies throughout the month, we really don't have to worry about him. Lexi's CF is a daily thing. Enzymes, doctor appointments, constantly checking her breathing and bowel movements. There's not a break with CF. There's never a time that things will "level out."



And if we're being honest, I don't feel like I fit anywhere. I get together with friends and, inevitably, we talk about our children. They talk about their recent milestones, and I just sit quietly. I don't feel like anybody gets what I'm going through. I mean, how many people do you know who have two children of their own with special needs? It's not like there's a club for mom's like me. Sure, there are organizations for both CF and DS; I get that. But really.



I know the kind of village God has given me lately. I know how blessed I am by the friends I have. I know a lot of people love us and that's awesome.

Sometimes I'm okay with not fitting anywhere. I figure God gave me this story because He knew I would stand out. I know God's not done with me yet. I know I'll reach the surface soon. I can see it. I'm just not there yet.

I was going to apologize for the lengthy post this time. But nevermind.



With all that said, the good news is: Happy's out in full force this time of year! Home-slice spread her jolly "Ho-Ho-Ho's" all over our new place and I'm in love. Christmas is my favorite. Like Elf on steroids, favorite. This year is going to be fun. Ben is old enough to be excited about lights and presents, and this will be Lexi's very first experience with such matters.

Now, excuse me while I sip from my Santa mug and bask in the fragrance of our Noble Fur.

It's a good day. Jesus loves me. That's all that matters.

Happy December!

Side Note: 
If you have little girls, you'll want to check out Little Bowtique! Lauren is super talented and has all her pre-made bows 50% OFF today for Cyber Monday! Which means, you won't pay more than 5 bucks for great quality hairbows! They would make awesome Christmas gifts! Alexis has several and she wears them on a regular basis. Happy Shopping! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mayberry

During our bedouin stage of life, we visited several churches in Atlanta. We walked into the dimly lit sanctuary of one we had looked forward to going to and just as we stood in our places, the praise team began to play. In the middle of that first song, Micah leaned down to me and whispered, "It's like my soul just let out a sigh of relief." I'll never forget the look on his face in that moment. Even in the dim light I could see that sweet, half-grin that had been hiding for a while. He was content.

I'm typing to you from a new place; my haven for the time being. My Mayberry.

Instead of telling you details that will make you cringe, just know that we are safe. We are happy. Mayberry is exactly what you'd expect and "home" has taken on a new meaning... for the seventh (you read that correctly) time.

Truthfully, even in the piles of dirty laundry and multiple boxes still unpacked, I feel like my whole life just took a really long bath. Life is calm here. Kids still play outside, neighbors still wave good morning and Mrs. Barney Fife lives across the street.

Sometimes I wonder if there's ever going to be "the other side." I look at my life and wonder if I'll ever find Happy's hiding place.

Life isn't always pretty. Sometimes it's lined with diagnosis, money issues, rats nesting in t-shirts, moving in three days, and ear infections. Sometimes those things take precedence and that's okay.

God is still God. God is still good.

... And you will always, always find the other side.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Worn

A few things I've learned recently:

1. Croup sucks. 

2. "Pneumonia" and "Cystic Fibrosis" should never, ever be in the same sentence. 

3. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime. 

4. Rats like kitchen towels and t-shirts. 

5. Cockroaches can carry cheerios in their mouths.

6. House hunting can either be really fun or really depressing. The deciding factor? Money.

7. We have incredible friends.

8. You go to church for the people.

9. I like kid Bibles. Ben does, too.

10. Job and I would be good friends.

11. Books don't write themselves.

12. Writing is my therapy.

13. My husband is my hero.

14. Ben hugs and Lexi grins make everything okay.

15. Jesus loves me. 


Happy Reading Between The Lines. Happy Monday. Happy Halloween.





Monday, October 14, 2013

Done

Forgive the rant that's about to take place, but it's been a heck of a month and we're not even half way through it. Albeit, it could be the utter exhaustion I'm currently experiencing (no sleep makes everything worse), but I'd be okay with 2013 being over now. Micah has been gone more than he's been home, Benjamin somehow contracted croup with a touch of pneumonia, Alexis has decided sleeping through the night is no longer her thing and Lawd help us all - we've got a mouse invasion to top it all off. Stick a fork in me 'cause this Mama is done.  

Rant over. 

It's safe to say Happy's been hiding reeeally well lately. At the same time, prayers have been answered, people have been more helpful than I could even process and God is still God

Do you get that? 

People have remarked that they can't believe how strong my faith has been over the last few years. Faith in Jesus is easy. Just because I'm going through tough times doesn't mean God stops being God. I chuckle when I think about where I used to be in my walk with God. I didn't always believe that He is who He claims to be. If things like this had happened to me ten years ago, I probably would've been in this perpetual state of, "God's out to get me." I was raised to believe that I had to dress a certain way, believe a certain way, talk a certain way and go to a certain type of church for God to love me. I thought for a very, very long time that it was that way or the highway. I saw people get shunned and ostracized for believing differently and it took a Bible professor in college to make me see how judgmental and wrong my beliefs were. We put so much pressure on ourselves and other people because we feel like God wants things a certain way when, in reality, He just wants you. Tired, tattered, bruised, confused, angry, 'ol you. He has this amazing power and privilege to change hearts. Jesus died to save you - not your clothes. It has absolutely nothing to do with what you wear, what you listen to or what church you attend. Jesus loves you for you. Heck - He made you, so He must think you're pretty cool.   

Second rant over. *steps off soapbox*

The last few months of the year are always my favorite. Here's to a better week. 

A few Happy snippets... 





Huge last minute THANK YOU to those who have helped me this week (specifically my MIL), and for those who were a part of our Ben-Jammin' Buddy Walk
 team this year! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Common

Ben's newest thing is finding body parts. "Where's Ben's nose?" is a common phrase around here. Now, though, he has to find Sisters nose, Mama's nose, Daddy's nose, Uncle Craig's nose... you get the idea. I was watching him do this the other day; just one of those sit back and watch moments. It struck me like this: Ben has no idea he's different. The way he sees it, everybody's got a nose. We've all got two ears, two eyes and a belly button. Even though he can't tell me what he thinks yet, I can see it through that jolly, unforgettable grin. "We're all the same. Sweet!"


Sometimes I get lost in the idea that my kids are going to be in the different category as they grow up, and I get anxious about how I'm going to explain that to them someday. It might sound silly, but I think I'll approach it like I do everything else: find the good. "You're a little different than your friends, but look... Kate has two ears, two eyes and a belly button. Just. Like. You."



Heavens to Betsy - we're all made in His likeness. There's a super cool common thread right there. Just like Happy and Good are always there, Common is there, too. Sometimes Common stands out like a sore thumb (literally); sometimes he hides behind almond eyes. But Common? Oh, he's there.


We're more alike than different. Ben gets it. Do you?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Village

I vented to a friend the other day. "The hardest part," I told her, "is knowing there's no end in sight." When Micah was in the sand box, we knew when it would end. For the most part, we could even put a date on it. I knew exactly when the hard part would end and life could begin again. Even with Ben's Down syndrome, I remember a distinct time period when I realized my son was perfect just the way he was and life began again.
Alexis is so very different. I'll worry her whole life. Sure, some days are going to be easier than others, but as a whole... I'll worry. About her getting sick; about not getting to keep her. It's gut wrenching to think about the future. So I don't.


I want to clear something up, too. People keep asking me what I need and how they can help. While I so appreciate the gesture, the honest answer is... I have no idea. I don't know what I need. I don't know how to ask for help. I'm tired and I'm overwhelmed and I'm hurting. And I have no idea how to tell you to help me. That doesn't mean you should stop asking. We need a village. If something crosses your mind that you think would help... ask me if it would. I'm trying really hard to not carry all these things alone and to take advantage of "Jesus in flesh and blood." The problem usually is that I don't want to feel like a burden to somebody else. I know what you're going to say; "You're not a burden." And I know that... in my head. It's a humbling experience being the one that needs help instead of the one that helps. I'm learning. Slowly.

Every once in a while, just remind me that you're still there. That's what I need the most.


In Benjamin news...

Dude SAID "more!" Clear as day; I wish I got it on film. We were eating dinner with Uncle Craig and he wanted more of whatever was on Daddy's plate. And there it was... "Mooore." He hasn't said it since, but it was a supremely awesome moment.
To answer your question... No, he's not talking yet. He's working hard to communicate using signs and pointing at things. That's the first step. We're really proud of him and how far he's come already. We have a phenomenal speech therapist who has been an amazing example of patience and has taught us a lot over the last year. One day he'll be able to tell me how much fun he's having in Puggles.

Happy Hump Day.

 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

PB&J

CF makes you a worry wart. It just does. When the blood test comes back positive, the first thing you do is Google "Cystic Fibrosis" 'cause, let's be honest, it's not one of those things anybody knows much about. "9 times out of 10, the initial blood test is wrong" is what it says. So you look at symptoms. "Salty tasting sweat," "minimal weight gain," "greasy poop." You feel like an idiot licking your baby to see if she tastes like the ocean and you try to compare diapers to figure out what exactly "greasy" means. You worry about what you're going to do if the next test confirms CF. You worry about what you're going to do if it doesn't. When the sweat test confirms your worst nightmare, you worry about... your worst nightmare. You check on her every 5 seconds to make sure she's still breathing; you watch her like a hawk and panic with every cry.

That's my reality some days.



But then some days, you forget. You don't think about the chronic side of CF. You just watch her grin and snuggle longer than usual. You take extra pictures and daydream about the future. You write an outline for a book and you thank God for the little things.



Anybody can say, "live like you were dying." I thought I knew what that meant. Micah and I have both survived things we shouldn't have. Our lives have been turned upside down in more ways than we can count. I thought I had figured out how to live like there's no tomorrow. I was wrong. Having a child with a chronic disease? That makes you live differently. Every. Single. Day.


Maybe that's a bad thing. But maybe it's not.

Maybe that's how we're supposed to live this life anyway. We're not promised tomorrow. We're not even promised this afternoon. So today... I'll snuggle a little longer, take a few extra pictures, thank Jesus for the little things and make a mean PB&J. 'Cause my Jesus and my family?

That's all that matters.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today

Written 8/27/13

Today's the day.

It's the day I've been dreading.

CF became real.

I think that moment happens with every diagnosis, if we're being honest. After the overwhelming emotions and the processing of what you were just told subsides, you get past the "numb" phase and then it hits you... for real.

I remember when it happened with Ben. It was the day we started therapy. We had just moved to Florida and Jan was assigned to my little guy. She was completely wonderful, but I balled like a baby after the initial meeting. Down syndrome became real. Ben was officially different and the diagnosis took precedence for a minute.

Alexis started enzymes today. They're going to be an essential part of our daily routine and something that she will likely take for the rest of her life. Right now, she has them (mixed with applesauce) before every feeding. Just one little capsule of yeast-looking pellets that allow her to absorb fats and vitamins that she may not be getting.

As grateful as I am for how far CF treatments have come over the years, the crippling fact remains that there is no cure.

And today? Today that's real. And it sucks.

I will say this...

I've never been more aware of my need for Jesus. And I've never been more aware of the little things. Good is there. She's got a really, really good hiding place right now, but she's there.

And I've had this song on repeat for a good 24 hours. This is my deepest... and toughest desire. One day I won't cry when I hear it. But not today.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Survive

After hearing a lot of things this week, I realize I need to answer some questions and clear some things up. Nobody knows exactly what to say when they talk to me. I get that. But here's the thing...

1. "Your faith is amazing." False. I just love Jesus.
2. "You're the strongest woman I know." False. I'm probably the weakest woman you know; I just know a strong God.
3. "God knows what He's doing." You're right. But that doesn't make it easier.
4. "Miracles happen everyday." True. But that doesn't mean healing Alexis' little body is the miracle we'll get.
5. "I'm here for you." Thank you. That's all I need.

I'd love to tell you this is going to be easy. After our 3 hour, 6 person Dr. visit in Dallas, "easy" is not the word I would use to describe this disease. CF affects the lungs, the pancreas and the intestines. The short version is that mucus builds up where it shouldn't and, without proper care, could build up so much that said organs can't function. It's all a "wait and see" game for the first year. So far, Alexis' lungs sound good so we are focusing on the pancreas. She will start taking enzymes before every feeding in an effort to help her absorb much needed fats and vitamins. Those along with a multivitamin and salt regimen (1/8 tsp of table salt in her bottle everyday) should keep things running the way they were intended. 

I wish I could tell you that I've got this, but I'm overwhelmed in every way imaginable. I'm overwhelmed with information and trying to figure out how to be mom while remembering to be wife and friend and everything else I need to be.

I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for friends that decided to start a donation page for our family. Since then, I'm happy to tell you that we've qualified for state funded insurance, so that prayer has been answered in a big way. The trips to Dallas and the "keeping our heads above water" right now are still there, so thank you to those who have donated already. Knowing we won't be going through the financial burden of this alone is huge.

Lots of you have asked me how we're doing.

The truth?

We are in survival mode. We are literally taking life one day at a time, never knowing what the next will bring. One day we'll get to the "living" stage and survival mode will be a thing of the past. We'll be used to this newest normal and we'll be able to smile more than we cry. But right now? We survive.

I do feel blessed. I know God doesn't give babies like ours to just anybody, so I feel blessed that He saw fit to give me two. That doesn't mean that I'm not dealing with the emotions that go along with a CF diagnosis and that doesn't mean that I'm going to feel awesome everyday. But if there's one thing I've learned over the last few years, it's that God's cool with emotions and the "I'm not okay" days. In fact, He specializes in them because those are the days I need Him most.

So, thank you for loving us. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for sharing our story.

Thank you for surviving with us.




Friday, August 16, 2013

Hope

Written 8/9/13

"I just want a healthy baby." When asked if they want a boy or a girl, that's most likely what new parents will tell you. It's commendable. It's true. 

But what do you do when that doesn't happen?

At this very moment, Alexis is laying on my chest. Her dark, wispy curls are tickling my nose. She smells like Johnson & Johnson goodness and she's just recently found out her fingers are good for sucking. She has no idea.

My heart aches. My body hurts. My eyes are swollen. I've cried for 48 hours.

Benjamin's secret was easier than this one. He's different, yes, but he's healthy.

Alexis is sick.

Alexis has cystic fibrosis.

There is no cure. Those are the words I can't stop repeating in my mind.

Down syndrome was easy. Ben will be different. He'll struggle with things that most people don't.

Knowing Alexis has a disease that will eventually take her life?

Oh God, it's completely unbearable.

So what do you do when your commendable wish for a healthy baby doesn't come true? Well, your prayer life improves. And you cry. You cry more tears than you thought you had. And you do what we've always done - take it one day; sometimes one moment at a time.

A lot of you will read this in disbelief. It probably seems like our family has walked through things that don't make sense. Don't worry; it doesn't make sense to us either. Some of you will blame God. That's okay. Some of you might be angry on our behalf. That's okay; I'm angry, too. None of you will know what to say. That's okay; don't say anything.

Just be there. Cry with us. Pray for us. Don't leave us alone. Be our village.

Jesus loves my babies far more than I do. I have to believe that. I have to hold on to the truth even when I don't want to. I have to trust that He knows what He's doing. I have to pray for a miracle while still understanding that the miracle I want may not be the miracle He gives me.

I want to know she'll outlive her parents. I want to know she'll be there for her brother.

I want to keep her, dammit.

This doesn't seem fair, does it? That's okay. It's not.

But...

God is still God. God is still good.

Where there is fear, there is faith. Where there is heartache... there is hope.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Attitude

She had hands that felt like marshmallows and a Texas drawl that put all others to shame. Ms. Nancy was my first experience with School for Little Children in the Spring of 2005 and she taught me a very valuable lesson: Slow down. As soon as those rambunctious three year olds entered her classroom, it was as if they were all put under a spell. They were calm. I knew from that first afternoon that I was not in Kansas (or Florida) anymore. Life was viewed differently here and I best strap on my spurs and... slow down. I never heard Ms. Nancy raise her voice to those children and she was never in a hurry to get anywhere. She let the kids be kids. We played all afternoon with a few structured activities thrown in for good measure. She taught me the value of staying calm in stressful situations and the importance of taking it easy. I may forget her name someday, but I won't ever forget her spirit.


The more babies I have, the more I'm realizing the pendulum swing between joy and desperation. I'm sure I'm all alone in this, but the first few weeks of getting to know a new baby can throw you for a loop. I have two healthy, beautiful children and I know what a blessing that is, but there are still those moments of, "I love my kids... but." It's an attitude I'm working on and, truth be told, Ben is shining some light on the subject.
Dude loves his sister: seen especially when she's not a happy camper. His whole world comes to a crashing halt when she's crying. He brings blankets, pacifiers, diapers; anything nearby that he thinks would make Sister smile again. When those things don't do the trick, he just lays his head on her chest. It's his way of "giving her a kiss" and trying to make it all okay again. Just like Ms. Nancy and her three year olds, you never see him annoyed or frustrated with the situation. There's none of this, "I love her but..." There's just love. That's all.


If I'm being honest, I've had moments of desperation. Both kids needing me at the same time and not knowing how to help either one. Crying, praying and trying to get my hormonal emotions out of the way so I can think logically. "I love my kids, but I don't know what to do."
Being a mom is hard sometimes. Those moments of joy can sometimes get clouded by the moments desperation and we can easily forget why God says these little lives are precious gifts.
It's all about the attitude. Even if you don't have kids, it's easy to forget that life is good, isn't it? When something goes wrong or doesn't turn out the way you always thought it would, it's easy to forget how to slow down and be thankful. "I love my ________ but..."

Oh... And aren't you glad God doesn't say that? I am.

Moral of the story: stop and smell the salt water today. 
Or if roses are more your speed, sniff away. Just stop. 





Saturday, July 6, 2013

Alexis

July 3rd started off with anticipation. Nervous anticipation. I knew it would be that way. You don't survive last time expecting much peace out of experience number two. Surgery began promptly at noon. My sweaty palms ended up being a nice accompaniment to the sub zero temperatures of the seemingly empty operating room. Nurses, anesthesiologists and Dr. Lin, my super hero, gathered round. Micah held my hand and we waited. At exactly 12:31pm, Miss Alexis Tara joined our little party; weighing in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces and showing off her healthy lungs like it was her job. 
Sister's a beauty with a full head of dark hair and several facial expressions that remind me of her big brother. 
                                                

                                               

                                                
 It was the, "You're going to be fine... but" that I didn't see coming. The bloody sheets and the "Let me go get the doctor" at 4am. She was right. I was fine. I didn't think so at the time, but it turned out okay. Unlike last time, I was well taken care of and communicated with through the whole process. I'm thankful for nurses that take their jobs seriously and make their patients feel more like people and less like science experiments. 

Big brother rocks. He's been a trooper this week and is getting used to Sister being in the world instead of in Mama's belly. He's incredibly gentle and likes to give kisses when prompted. 



      

Two beautiful babies and a wonderfully loving husband who knows how to take care of his family better than anybody else I know. My heart is full. I am blessed. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chapter

The closer we get to D-day (3 weeks from today to be exact), the more I find myself thinking about when Ben was born. Even though nothing went the way we thought it would, it was still one of the most invigoratingly wonderful learning experiences of my life. There's so much that I feel like I don't remember about those first few days and the things I do remember are hard to think about. Painful memories; feelings of guilt for the thoughts and reactions I had toward my own son. So maybe it was a little more "bittersweet" than "invigoratingly wonderful." Either way, growing and learning is all a part of the story. And I'd rather have a bittersweet chapter beginning than no beginning at all.


Am I ready for D-day this time? Physically, yes. My body feels a bit over max capacity and I'm definitely at the "ready" part of the nine month adventure. Emotionally? Heavens, no. I'll probably enter the operating room with a heavy, nervous heart. But that's okay. I'd rather have a nervous chapter beginning than no beginning at all.


Kids are a blessing and a reward. Jesus even says so. Ben is a blessing. It may have taken us a little longer to accept his differences and come around to his complete and utter joy, but I'd rather have to take a little longer to write the chapter than to not be able to write it at all.


We're ready for you to be a part of our family, Miss Alexis. Your chapter is waiting.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quiet

I've developed this bad habit. I start to write something and then I question what I'm writing. "What if this doesn't make sense? What if I'm wrong? What if nobody cares? What if..." Then I give up and promise to pick up where I left off later. Promises, promises.
The thing is, the Lord has been working in a lot of ways in my life. Ways that I probably won't ever share with the world because I don't quite know how to put them into words. Situations I'm not expecting make me do one of two things: Talk about it or shut up. Simply put, this has been a quiet time in my life. Reflecting on the last few years, thanking God for what He's brought us through and looking ahead to see what adventure could unfold next.
So with 37 minutes left of battery on my computer, a dirty diaper waiting to be changed and a growing little girl poking me from the inside, here's what I'll leave you with:
There's this saying, "God's not going to give you more than you can handle." Heard it? It's not true. The idea that the trials and tribulations of this life aren't going to kick your butt and that you'll be able to handle it all just fine is, bluntly, a load of crap. Life is hard sometimes. It just is. Nowhere did God say it wouldn't be. So "God's not going to give you more than you can handle?" Bull.

If God didn't give you things you wouldn't be able to handle... You wouldn't need God. Knowing you won't be able to do life on your own is, truthfully, what's most important. Learning to surrender to your Creator and let Him take the "more than you can handle" is one of the most important and humbling messages you can grab on to. So hold on tight, friends.

God is still God. Life is still good. Normal is still a matter of opinion.

Happy Wednesday! (And a very Happy Anniversary to my parents! Way to show us how it's done. Love you!)




Friday, April 26, 2013

Playbook

Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning with purpose? Ben did. 48 hours ago, my son woke up and decided that was the day he was going to walk. Not just walk, mind you. Walk ALL DAY LONG. Once he started taking steps on his own, his PT always said the next milestone was going to be the day he walked more than he crawled. April 26th was that day and Dude hasn't looked back. When the day was over and I realized what a huge deal this was, I couldn't stop smiling. I used to assume I would be a blubbery mess when Ben decided to take off, but my heart was so happy and proud that tears just weren't in the playbook. If you missed the announcement and short clip of Dude showing off his skills, you can check it out on Facebook.


Happy Friday!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dear Alexis

Dear Alexis,

I can't tell you how many times I've been to the store and held up something pink. Finding out that you are indeed a girl confirmed what I already knew: everything about this pregnancy is different. The physical aspects are the same. I've been blessed with feeling relatively awesome the whole time and actually have enjoyed knowing there's a baby growing in my belly. I know a lot of mama's can't say that due to sickness or other complications, so I'm grateful.
But, even still, this pregnancy is completely different. I'm not worried about your daddy not making it home in time for your birth, I'm not avoiding news broadcasts or looking forward to Skype chats. He's here, live and in person and it's fantastic. Rather than taking my word for it, he's actually felt you move and seen you squirm on the sonogram screen.


I've been thinking a lot about you and what you're going to be like. It's only natural, but my perspective has changed since your brother was born. I made the mistake of putting him in a box. I had such high expectations about what he was going to be like that when he turned out to be different than I expected, it was devastating. So, I'm going into your birth day with a clean slate. I feel ready. God could knock me off my high horse, though, and I'm okay with that too.

Before you enter this crazy life, I want you to know a few things:

1. God is real. God is good. People will try to convince you otherwise, but remember those things.
2. We all make mistakes. Mom and Dad will, too. We'll walk through life as a family and take it one day at a time. Life is good if you choose to see it that way.
3. Your brother needs you and you need your brother. After we chose your name, we found out it means "defender." Ben might need that someday.
4. You are beautiful. You might not always think so, but it's true.
5. Love Jesus more than I do. I once heard a dad say that about his daughter. That's what I want for you.

You are loved, Sister.

Mom

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Birthday

Right at this moment, I am staring out the dining room window, sipping coffee, jamming to JT's new album (because according to my husband, that's evidently just "how we roll") and watching my two year old chase his dog around the house. Mornings should start out like this more often and days should be more like yesterday. It was a good day.


Benjamin is officially two years old. Can you believe it? I can't. I remember March 29th, 2011, like it was truly yesterday and here I am reflecting about that day two entire years later. We celebrated in small ways yesterday. A "birthday boy" t shirt, a breakfast date with friends, a lunch picnic in our freshly mowed backyard and frozen yogurt for an after El Sombrero treat.


I don't know if I'm ready to tell people I have a two year old. Maybe I'm having some growing pains and realizing that my grandmother was right when she warned me that time doesn't wait for anybody. We've learned a lot about that over the last two years. Life is short. It's going to whiz by whether you're holding on or not. Micah and I have both had moments of "I may not make it home." Moments like that happen to a lot of people and you can do one of two things: Panic or Change. If you choose to panic, you'll miss out on life. You just will. If you choose to change, you best get your boots on and hold on tight. (I'm in Texas now; I can talk about boots.)


My point is, I know my babies will grow up quick. I just want to look back twenty years from now and feel like I didn't miss it.

It's a good day. Do something about it.


Instagram photos: Follow me @ambertwebb



Friday, March 15, 2013

Backwards

We've become professional waiters. Not the cool kind with the ties and nifty place to put your paper and pen; the kind who are constantly waiting for something. It's this constant nagging that we've taken two steps forward just to jump five steps back. Micah and I have been married six years. We've packed up and moved all six of those. The moving doesn't bother me. The mindset of always saving boxes and never knowing what's coming next... sometimes it's old.


I've come to the conclusion, though, that maybe God just thinks we're really good at walking backwards. And maybe what seems like backwards to us isn't backwards at all. Nonetheless, the nagging still exists and the discontentment bug weasels his way where he doesn't belong. My job? Squash that dude. Remind myself that the waiting is okay, that God works in mysterious ways and He's got the whole world in His hands. It's simple when it needs to be.

 In Benjamin news:
We've mastered three steps and will walk from one room to the other when holding a hand. Despite being under the weather and not sleeping well this last week, he's cheerful as can be and still the happiest kid in the land. Seriously.


Little sister is growing like she should and we had a chance to take a peak at her sweet face recently. I get the question, "Could Alexis be born with Down syndrome?" more often than not. It's a valid thought. So far, there's no sign of an extra chromosome, but Ben surprised us. She could too. It's rare to have four almond eyes in the same family, but not impossible. I will say this: if God chooses to bless us with another baby from His secret place, she will be welcomed with open arms.


God is still great. Life is still good. Normal is still a matter of opinion.

Happy Spring!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reminded

I love waking up to a clean house. The calm before the toddler, as it were. It's a constant reminder that I'm home - something I took for granted for the first eighteen months of Benjamin's life. Half way through my college career, I had a meltdown. I've never been one to enjoy school, but I knew it was important to finish. I sat down with my advisor and told her that I just wanted to be a mom. "I want to raise good kids that love Jesus. I don't need this degree." That was right after I decided to switch majors from Elementary Ed to Child Development. I didn't know it, but God knew what He was doing with that degree and I'm constantly reminded of that. God's got a hand in it all... whether we see it or not.

I've been reminded of a lot of things lately. To appreciate, to be present, to leave worrying with the dogs, to be thankful, to choose Happy and to love.

I'm not the kind of mom that's going to correct you when you say "Down syndrome baby." I won't jump down your throat if you say "retarded." I won't be writing Matt Lauer a letter and I'm not surprised at all with the way he congratulated a couple on their recently negative test for Down syndrome.
Just like a lot of issues that arise within a church body, I know anger and judgement won't fix it. Does it hurt my heart? Absolutely. Do I wish people viewed Down syndrome differently? Absolutely. But I can't change the whole world at once. What I can do is hug those Mama's that just found out. I can let Ben's smile make you melt. I can pray for the Doctor's encouraging parents to get rid of the extra chromosome and start from scratch. I can answer questions the best I know how. And I can love. One blog at a time.






*Photos taken with Instagram. Follow me @ambertwebb