Friday, February 13, 2015

Curse of the Valentine's Box

I feel like I've said this before but here it is again: Pinterest is killing me. K-I-L-L-I-N-G me. And I know all my fellow non-crafty friends feel the same way.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am thoroughly impressed with all you crafters out there who can paint and create and build and bake amazing things that you see on Pinterest. It's incredible how you can see something and then recreate it perfectly.

Take, for instance, the Valentine's box. This week, Facebook has been full of pictures of robot boxes and monster boxes and Lego boxes and animal boxes and even a gum ball box. Truly amazing. But obviously, most of these were completed without the help from a four-year old's grubby little hands. I mean, honestly, parents. Who are you trying to impress? I get it. If the kid makes the box, that's great. But why do we, as parents, feel the need to create or even "fix" something our children make?

What ever happened to the good ole days when teachers supplied a brown paper bag and students colored it and decorated it during art time? Now kids bring such elaborate "boxes" that they need help just carrying them into school. It has become a competition, and life is competitive enough without this added pressure of who has the coolest Valentine's box.

This isn't really about Valentine's boxes, though. And frankly, I've been known to go a little over the top with cupcake decorating and party planning in the past. But listen: this is about our hearts. How we feel about ourselves. Do we need to have the biggest and best _________ (fill in the blank) in order to feel complete? Or so that others will admire us? So they will think we're perfect?

Life can be tough. And very competitive. And honestly, I thought that competition and cliques and trying to outdo others would end after high school. In some ways, it did. But in other ways, life is even more difficult and competitive as a mom. We put ridiculous pressure on ourselves and (knowingly or unknowingly) on others.

I, for one, already feel inadequate enough without the added pressures of other moms and what they project.

"Oh, your kids like to eat brownies? There is too much sugar in brownies."

"I never give my kids juice. They only drink water."

"Those goldfish crackers are terrible for you!"

"You need this supplement to make your children healthy."

"They watch how much television each day?"

"Homeschooling/public school/private school is the best way to educate your kids."

"Oh, you're still in your yoga pants this afternoon?"

I could go on and on.

As much as I try not to, I can sometimes get caught up in this mess. I can allow myself to feel bad about decisions I make for our family. It's easy to do. Just look at Instagram or Facebook: perfection is everywhere. Perfect kids, perfect husbands, perfect skin, perfect hair. Perfect families. It's easy to forget that no one's life is perfect. Everyone struggles. And if you're a mom, you probably struggle on a daily basis. Isn't raising children in this day and age hard enough without the added pressure we put on ourselves when we view our "perfect" friends on social media?

And listen, I'm guilty too. I want to portray my life as grand and wonderful because it is. But it's also messy, and I fail a lot. I hope you can see by reading my blog that my life is far from perfect. My kids aren't perfect, my husband isn't perfect, and (gasp!) I'm not perfect either.

But hallelujah, we weren't made to be perfect! We were created to love God, worship Him, and try to love others like He loves us. Instead of judging each other and feeling discouraged by other moms, let's strive to lift each other up. Encourage one another.

Let's encourage each other by speaking "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Eph 4:29b)

This week, instead of portraying your perfection, try being real to those around you. Show your struggles, your worries, your failures. You might be surprised to find that you're not alone.

And listen, about those Valentine's boxes... Keep making special memories with your kids; just make sure you aren't trying to impress anyone.

And make sure they aren't perfect. ��

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mercy and Peace and Grace

Is it just me or does it seem like life just gets more and more chaotic? I feel like, on most days, Peter and I just see each other in passing. We have so many things going on, and I think lots of other families feel the same way. OT for Jonah on Mondays and Tuesdays, swim team for Brienne on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, piano/guitar lessons for Brie on Wednesdays, and night classes for Peter on Mondays and Wednesdays. Even when everything goes smoothly, it makes for a crazy week. But when things don't go as planned, it can cause a lot of stress.

A couple weeks ago, one of those "unplanned" days happened and it almost sent me over the edge.

Brienne had an eye appointment, and since Peter was at work, I had to take all three kids to the eye doctor's office. This, in itself, can be a stressful thing, since you never know how Jonah (or Vivienne, for that matter) will behave. On this particular day, all the kids were pretty well-behaved. Until they depleted the juice and snack supply that I had brought with us. And once the snacks were gone, everything was fair game.  The little kids thought it would be fun to spin the eyeglass display and try on all the glasses. Fun for them. Not fun for mama. Thankfully, Brie quickly chose the pair of glasses that she wanted and we rushed out of the office.

Next, we had to go all the way across town to the base for flu shots. But before we could head that way, we had to stop at home to replenish our snack supply. (Yes, I stuff my kids with snacks when we have to sit somewhere and wait. When they eat, they are quiet and still. Judge me if you wish, but I promise that you would rather my kids be eating than climbing on the furniture. Or screaming because I won't let them climb on the furniture.) Anyway, we stopped at home for a potty break and snacks, then headed to the immunization clinic. We had to wait a bit, but the kids were fine and they willingly and happily got the flumist.

By this time, it was getting close to lunchtime, so we rushed back home so I could feed the kids. We were home for approximately 43 minutes before we had to head back across town for Jonah's OT session. OT usually lasts about an hour, but on this particular day, it ran over by about 30 minutes because they were working on some new skills. By the time we got out of there and headed home, I knew there would be no time for Jonah and Vivienne to take naps. Nap time is my saving grace, so when we miss it, it is bad.

On the way home from OT, Jonah was happily singing and Vivienne was unhappily screaming. This was our conversation.

Vivi: Jonah, stop singing! Mommy! I can't hear!
Me: I know, baby. It's ok.
Vivi: No! Don't say baby!
Jonah: (still singing)
Vivi: I! Can't! Hear!
Me: Vivienne, stop screaming.
Vivi: No! I can't! I THE BOSS!

Aaah. Can you feel the tension in my neck? Even now, two weeks later, I can feel my blood pressure going up. It's delightful.

So, I listened to that the whole way home.

Once we got home, I had to get supper in the oven and then we rushed out the door again to take Brie to swim team practice. We headed back across town and dropped her off, then headed back home. But guess what? Both little kids fell asleep 3 minutes before we got home. Not cool. So I left them in the car while I went back and forth in and out of the house to finish cooking supper. (Is that illegal? I hope not...) Jonah and Vivienne both woke up about half an hour later so I carried them inside and sat them down at the table for supper. Neither one was in a very good mood, as you can imagine. In fact, sweet Vivi screamed through the entire meal. But I was just relieved that we were now home for the evening and we could relax a bit.


After taking four bites of food, Peter texted me with the joyful news that he had a flat tire and I was going to have to go pick up Brienne from swim practice. This is usually his job. And I had to leave RIGHT NOW or I would be late. So, once again, I loaded up my supremely happy children and headed, you guessed it, BACK ACROSS TOWN.

The whole twenty minute drive consisted of Jonah and Vivienne arguing about who was dirty and who wasn't dirty and who needed a bath and who didn't need a bath. And Jonah was crying because he needed another snack. Sorry, buddy. Snack time is over.

We picked up Brienne, headed home, and then it was time for baths and bed. Thank goodness the day was over!

Now, generally our days aren't that crazy. This particular day was a doozy, but most days just consist of your normal busyness that comes with being a parent. But recently I've realized that I freakin' lose my mind around 6:00 every evening. I can handle the temper tantrums and the eight million trips to the potty and the rushing from here to there up until a point.

And that point is apparently 6:00 p.m.

Because by 6:00, it's bath time for both littles, and then the dreaded bedtime routine follows shortly afterwards. I look forward to bedtime all day. (Don't tell me that you don't feel the same way.) But the actual bedtime routine makes me nutso. The kids bounce off the walls while I try to read a story, then everybody has to go potty, then I have to put diapers on both littles, and then we say prayers, and then I attempt to get the kids in the bed. Easier said than done.

It is not my favorite thing.

At the beginning of the new year, I asked the Lord to show me a Scripture that could be our verse for the year. Sort of like our motto. Last year's verse was a good one and I'll write more about how that verse came to fruition in another post, but I was needing something for this year.

The verse he gave me was Jude 2:
"May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you."

Isn't that a great verse? I felt like it particularly applied to me because I have been in need of some mercy. And peace. And grace, for goodness sakes!

I need mercy. Mercy from the Lord when I sin. Mercy from myself when I mess up. Mercy from Peter when I offend him. Mercy from my kids when I deliberately make them angry. And I need to show mercy too. Mercy to my kids when they make me crazy. Mercy to Peter when he makes me crazy.

I need peace. I need God's perfect peace. Peace that surpasses understanding. Even in the midst of chaos and crisis and freak out moments, I need to feel His peace and to know that He is with me. He knew what he was doing when He made me a mom to my kids, and I need to remember that truth.

I need grace. We all make mistakes. And I am so thankful that Christ doesn't punish me for my mistakes. For my temper. For my exhaustion. But just like I need grace, my kids need grace too. They are still young and sometimes I think they should act like they are older than they are. They love to play and be silly and sometimes they need to have a good old temper tantrum. I need to give them grace when they get out of control. And I need to remember that they are only little once.

This year, 2015, I want our home to be filled with mercy and peace and grace. I want our family to love each other and forgive each other and be an example of Christ to each other. It may be chaotic and loud and crazy, but we can still feel Christ's presence in our home and in our hearts if we allow Him to fill our souls. That's what I want from this year.

Friends, may mercy and peace and grace be multiplied to you, too.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

13 Things I Learned From Running the Disney Half-Marathon

I took Brienne to Orlando this weekend so that I could run the Disney half-marathon. We also went to cheer on my dear friend Angie who ran the full marathon. She is superwoman.

Here are a few things I learned (just in case you're thinking of doing a Disney race):

1. You should always run a 10k or a half-marathon during the year leading up to the Disney half so that Disney can verify your time. This is very important. Disney doesn't just take your word for it that you'll run a 2:15 half. You must have proof. I didn't have proof. Thus I was stuck in the last corral with all the walkers and the "I've never run before!" people. I was literally shoving people out of my way, running in the grass for about half the race, and I even ran into the back of one dude because he stopped right in front of me.

2. To go along with #1, don't get stuck in Corral P. Seriously. You'll hear things like, "Thanks for coming to P with me. Get it? Pee?" Um, yeah. It's 4:10 a.m. My sense of humor hasn't woken up yet.

In addition to the clever jokes from my fellow "runners," the dj wouldn't let our corral start the race until we had a sing-along. "We saved the sing-along for you, Corral P!" I don't know about you, but singing "Let It Go" at 6:35 a.m. while the professional runners are already freaking finished with the race is not cool. (See what I did there?)

3. People will take pictures of anything.
"Hey! There's the monorail. I know I've been riding it all week while I've been here at Disney, but I'm running now so I'll take a picture of it."
"Hey, there's a dj!" Um, yeah, he's playing music. That's what djs do.
"Hey, there's a Mickey Mouse sign!" As if there aren't 5,853 more Mickey signs...
People, just because we now have a camera at our fingertips at all times does not mean we need a picture of everything we see. I mean, what are you really going to do with a picture of running shoes that someone left on the side of the road?

4. Cinderella's Castle is the money shot. Seriously. If you want a picture, that's the one you should take. I almost cried when I entered Magic Kingdom and saw that castle. I'm such a hopeless romantic.  And wouldn't you know it? My dang phone was jacked up and I couldn't get a picture. I should've gotten one of the 3643 people around me to text me a pic.

5. Blue Powerade is nasty. That is all.

6. I don't have patience for ridiculousness while I'm running. Look, if you want to hold hands and take a stroll with your significant other, that's great. Just don't do it in a flipping race. There are some of us who would actually like to run.

7. Some people are multi-talented. I passed up one dude who was video blogging or vlogging or whatever you call it when you video yourself talking about what you're doing. He was "running" and documenting every single thing. Good for him. He'll remember that race forever. But I wonder if he continued doing it for the remaining 12.9 miles...

8. I might have anger issues. I wanted to punch that vlogger in the face because his commentary was annoying. And I really wanted to push everyone out of my way. It's a RUN, people. I might need counseling. Or medication.

9. To be a runner, you have to be slightly insane. How else can you explain waking up at 2:45 a.m. to catch a bus at 3:30 in order to wait in your corral for almost three hours? (And just so you know, in the three other half-marathons I've run, I've never had to get up that early.) Speaking of insanity, there were three girls (I'll call them girls even though they were adults, married with kids, because they were waaaay younger than I am); anyway, they were standing near me in our corral so we struck up a
convo. I'm friendly like that. They had never run in any type of race; not a 10k or even a 5k.
Basically, they woke up one day and decided it might be fun to run the Disney half even though they had never run before. Who does that? And to top it off, one of them had a Walmart sack full of Gu. Like 45 packs to share among the three of them. And they had never had Gu before. That was a train wreck waiting to happen right there. (If you don't know what Gu is, Google it. It's exactly what it sounds like. Except you eat it.)
Here's one more example of insanity. There was a group in my corral - two guys and three girls. The girls were dressed as Mrs. Potts, the little teacup Chip, and the candlestick from Beauty and the Beast. The guys were Gaston and Belle. Seriously, the Belle dude had a full Belle gown on, complete with a long tulle skirt and a crown. It was amazing. But the best part? As soon as we crossed the start line, "Belle" headed for the woods to pee. I have to say that there's something slightly disturbing and yet oddly fascinating about watching a "princess" stand up and urinate on a tree. It takes all kinds...

10. Runners are a friendly group of people. This isn't something that I learned from this race. I've always known this to be true. But at Disney, everyone is super happy and encouraging.

11. My body can't handle long distances. No more half-marathons for me. I know I've said this after each of my other three halfs, but I mean it this time. My knees hurt, the tips of my toes hurt, and 4 is my favorite number so I'm good. If you ever hear me mention that I might want to run another half, please, please, please talk me out of it. I'm begging you.

12. If you want to run a fun race, this is the one to do. There were a couple boring stretches but overall the course was great. Running through Magic Kingdom and Epcot was so much fun! And if you don't care about your time, you can stop along the course to take pictures with all the characters.

13. Much like life, you can't sprint an entire half-marathon. (I mean, I guess if you're a pro, you can. But I'm not a pro.) And the unexpected sometimes happens. You run into someone. You have to stop for a potty break. There are more people than you expected. No matter how well you train, you can't anticipate everything that may happen. And that's ok. Take life as it comes and deal with what you can.

I can check the Disney Half-Marathon off my list and now I never have to do it again. I'm glad I was able to do it though, and I'm especially glad I got to see one of my friends complete her goal of running a marathon. That was truly inspiring.

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The New Year Is Upon Us

Since 2015 is now upon us, I thought I would put together a list of goals for the new year. I'm writing these down mainly for my sake, but feel free to read them too.

Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Run a half-marathon. This one is coming too quickly. January 10th, to be exact. Why did I sign up for this again? Bleh...

2. Memorize Scripture. I've done this two different times with Beth Moore and Living Proof Ministries and I'm doing it again this year. It's a great way to meditate on and memorize 24 Scripture passages.

3. Pray diligently for my kids. Brie is 11 years old and will be exposed to so much over the next few years. I want her to know Christ in such a way that everything she does reflects her relationship with Him. My prayers for Jonah include continued healing from autism, school success, and becoming more social. And for Vivienne, I'm praying for obedience as well as for wisdom so I can help her use her "powers" for good and not for evil.

4. Act and look younger. Brienne still comments on the "crinkles" around my eyes and I really need to fix that, if possible. (Can you say "eye cream?") (Also, every time she says "crinkles," I want to punch her in her young, youthful-looking line-free face. Ah. I jest.) But more than looking younger, I need to act younger. I've always thought that having young children was supposed to make you feel younger, but that has yet to happen for me. I guess I need to be more intentional about playing and being silly with my kids.

5. And to go along with #4: Laugh more, yell less. This particularly applies to bedtime. No matter how impossible that may seem...

6. Try not to kill my dog. And I'm not even joking. This resolution entered the list because Mikey just peed all over my kitchen and dining room. For the ten millionth time. And Vivi was splashing in it because, "puddles!" I'm over his uncontrollable bladder. Ain't nobody got time for this.

7. Study God's Word consistently and read the Bible with my kids often. This seems self explanatory, but it's unbelievably difficult to get up before everyone else and study the Bible. Mainly because if Vivienne hears the coffee pot or sees the glow from my iPhone, she thinks it's wake-up time. (I swear she has supersonic hearing and can see through walls.) And as far as reading with the kids, my little ones have a really hard time sitting still for any length of time. I think the South Georgia gnats have a longer attention span than they do.

8. Eat more whole, unprocessed foods. This is a biggie. Did you know a recent study suggests that by 2025, 1 in 2 kids born will have autism because of all the crap that's in our foods? Speaking as a mother of a child with autism, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Plus, whole foods help cure a variety of illnesses, so why wouldn't we want to eat more of them? I know, I know. Easier said than done. And I'm pretty sure Nutella isn't considered a whole food. Darn it.

9. Serve and open our home to others more. We have a tendency to come home from school, work, activities, etc. and shut ourselves in our house, not wanting to be "bothered" by others. But Christ never said to huddle inside our homes. He instructed us to open our homes to those around us. This is a goal of mine, even when our kids are running around like monkeys. I also want to find more opportunities to serve as a family in our community. This has been especially difficult here in Georgia for a variety of reasons, but I'm keeping my eyes open for ways to serve.

10. Potty train Vivienne and convince Jonah to poop in the potty. (Too much info for you?) I would love for both kids to be completely potty-trained before we move this summer. Vivi loves to wear panties but she also loves to pee in them. She does it on purpose and then smiles when I discover her puddles everywhere. Did I mention that she's delightful? And Jonah - for some reason he is terrified of pooping in the potty. I've tried everything. Candy bribes, iPad bribes, threats. All to no avail. My next step is to bribe with presents. That's how desperate I am.

So, these are my goals for 2015. I'd be curious to hear your suggestions and some of your goals, too.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Breaking the Nativity

I can't believe it's already mid-December. I just realized it has been over two months since my last blog post. Apparently, things have been just a little bit crazy around here.

We had a quick chaotic trip to New Orleans in October. It was fun. But traveling with little kids is hard, y'all. It's like the kids just have some sort of innate ability to sense our fear and trepidation. And they understand that once we're all strapped in the car and driving down the road, they have our undivided attention and we are their prisoners. It's a flippin' hostage situation. "Get my juice!" "Not this movie!" "Vivi's talking to me!" "Jonah looked at me!" Aaahhh! I've said it once and I'll say it again:

Traveling with kids is what hell must be like.

And once we actually got to New Orleans, Jonah had a meltdown as we attempted to walk around the French Quarter. And Vivienne had a meltdown at the Aquarium. And they both had meltdowns at various random times throughout the weekend. Peter and I had already decided that we were using this New Orleans trip as a sort of trial run to get ready for our trip to Disney which was scheduled for Thanksgiving week. But after three days of hotel living, tantrums, and flat-out exhaustion, we realized our kids were not ready for the "Happiest Place on Earth." 

And thank goodness we cancelled that Disney trip! Because, dun dun dun... Jonah and Vivi got the stomach virus. One week before Thanksgiving. It was loads of fun for all! I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say, we went through three cans of Lysol trying to disinfect that mess. Then immediately following the stomach bug, Vivi got the flu. Yippee! Then my parents came for Thanksgiving, and we just really tried to not infect them with all our nasty germs. I'm not sure we were successful... 

While my parents were here, my mom taught Vivi the song "Hush, Little Baby." You know the one. The sweet lullaby that you quietly sing over your child as you rock her to sleep. Yeah. So now every night as I rock Vivienne, she yells that song at the top of her lungs. The. Top. Of. Her. Lungs. 

I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand the meaning of the words "hush, little baby."

Thanks, Nanna. 

And with sweet Vivienne, if you give an inch, she takes a mile. One night after I rocked her for a bit, she wanted Peter to rock her. For days afterward, she thought he should rock her after I finished rocking her. Um, no. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

And one morning, she woke up at some ungodly hour. Like 4:30 a.m.  And wouldn't go back to sleep. So I took her to the couch and tried to get her to rest with me for a bit. Yeah. So for the next couple days she thought she should nap and sleep on the couch instead of in her bed. What the heck?

But she can be stinkin' hilarious, too. This was our conversation one night at bedtime:

Vivi: You daddy. I Mikey.
Me: Oh ok. Hi, Mikey dog. How are you?
Vivi: Can I go outside and poop?

Um... Huh?

And the other night, after hearing, "I pee in my bed," Peter opened her bedroom door to find Vivi stark naked in her bed, clothes and diaper thrown on the floor, standing in a puddle of pee. Grinning proudly.

I know every parent has stories like these. But y'all. I'm too old for this.

With Christmas just around the corner, we've been talking a lot about the birth of Jesus. Now don't get me wrong - the kids are dying to get under the tree and tear into their presents. But I'm trying to do my best to give them a healthy perspective of what Christmas is actually about. We made a Happy Birthday, Jesus cake last weekend and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. I'm not sure my little kids fully understand it all, but we're trying. We've also been reading parts of the Christmas story and we've made several ornaments to go on our advent tree. The kids really love doing that.

I've been wondering if all this talk of Mary and Joseph and the baby is sinking into Jonah's and Vivienne's little brains. The answer became clear to me last night. I walked into the living room to see Vivi throwing the Little People nativity set on the floor. (You know how everyone on Facebook is posting sweet pictures of their precious children playing contentedly with their little nativity set? With all their little toys worshipping Jesus? Yeah. That's not happening in our house.)

I looked at Vivienne and asked her what she was doing to the nativity set. Her reply? "I breaking it!"

Oh. Of course you are. Because that's what we do with the Christ child and His family. We break them.

But then, in runs Jonah, screaming, "But baby Jesus! Baby Jesus! I need the baby Jesus! I need Jesus!"

And it hit me. When was the last time I needed Jesus? When was the last time I was desperate for Him? A year ago when Jonah was diagnosed with autism? Two months ago when we were agonizing over where our next move will be? When was the last time I truly sought Him? When I truly needed Him?

I feel like Vivienne, like I've broken the nativity. Like maybe I'm not living my life as if my every breath depends on the Savior of this world. I've tried hard to help keep Christ in Christmas for my kids, but have I kept Christ for me?

The world is so full of distractions, full of things, even good things, that take up our time and draw our attention away from Christ and the reason we are put on this earth. To bring glory and honor to Him. And it seems that no matter how early I get up to have some quiet time with The Lord, something is going to draw me away from Him. Whether it's a seemingly urgent email or a crying baby or the dog needing to be let out. There is always something to distract me.

My prayer is that I will not let this season pass by without fully resting in Christ. My desire is to want Him so deeply that I will feel desperate for His presence daily. And that is also my prayer for all of you, my friends. Take time to reflect on the miraculous birth of the Christ-child. But also remember Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He came to earth, lived a sinless life, died a sinner's death, and rose from the grave so that we can have abundant life. So that we can bring glory to Him. He wants to lead us and guide us through the hard times, the good times, the exhausting times. He is always with us. May we live desperately for Him. Because, in the words of Jonah, "I need Jesus."

Monday, October 6, 2014

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today...

One year ago today, Jonah couldn't form an original thought. Everything he said was a repetition of something he'd heard before.

One year ago today, Jonah wasn't able to look people in the eye when they spoke to him.

One year ago today, Jonah was having six or seven daily meltdowns because he couldn't transition between activities.

One year ago today, Jonah had no interest or awareness of others. He was locked in his own little world.

One year ago today, Jonah could not tell me he loved me and I wondered if I would ever hear those words from him.

One year ago today, Jonah was diagnosed with autism. And one year ago today, my world fell apart.

I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table, crying with Peter. I can still feel the desperation and the fear.

But thankfully, our story doesn't end in desperation and fear.

One year ago today, I cried out to the Lord. I begged for mercy and healing and redemption and grace.

And God was so faithful to hear my cries. Whether He chooses to grant us our requests or He has different plans for our lives, He is still faithful. And I've learned over the past year, that the Holy Spirit knows exactly where we are. What we feel. What we fear.

Throughout 2013, I participated in a scripture memory challenge where I had to memorize two scriptures every month. The Holy Spirit led me to so many of these scriptures that I probably would not have chosen on my own. Here are just a few:

"I will remember the deeds of The Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds."
Psalm 77:11-12

"Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember The Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your home."
Neh 4:14b

"The Lord replied, 'I will personally go with you, and I will give you rest - everything will be fine for you.'"
Ex 33:14

"Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living."
Ps 27:13

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Ex 14:14

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."
Ps 126:5

Even before we knew that Jonah had autism, God knew. He knew about Jonah's diagnosis and He knew that I would need reassurance. He knew that I would need to be reminded of how He had been faithful to me in the past. He knew I would need encouragement to fight for Jonah. He knew that I would need to be reminded that God fights for me. That He is always with me. He knew I would need to remember that God is good. He led me to those scriptures because He knew I would need them.

Even before I knew I would need them, He knew.

Today, Jonah can carry on short conversations.

Today, Jonah looks people in the eyes when he speaks.

Today, Jonah has six or seven meltdowns a week instead of six or seven meltdowns a day.

Today, Jonah loves to play with other children.

Today, Jonah tells me he loves me.

Today, Jonah is being healed.

Our sweet Jonah still has a long way to go, but he has come so far. He has improved in ways that I never thought possible. And honestly, I don't know why God chose to answer my prayers in the way I wanted. I don't know why He is healing Jonah when so many other children need healing. It's not because I'm more faithful than other parents. Because I'm not. It's not because our family deserves healing, because we don't. It's not because God loves me more than He loves others, because He doesn't.

Maybe He's healing Jonah so that we can share our story with others. Maybe He's healing Jonah to remind us all, to remind me, that He is the Great Physician. That His love is miraculous. That He is merciful. Whatever His reason, I want to be found faithful in bringing Him the honor and glory. Sometimes I am just completely overwhelmed by God. By His mercy, by His grace, by His love.

One year ago today, I thought God had forgotten Jonah. Had forgotten me.

Today, I think God has big plans for Jonah.

One year ago today... May I never forget...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two and a Half Weeks

Two and a half weeks until school starts. That's it. The lazy days where we lay around in our pjs are almost gone. The mornings spent riding scooters in the driveway - have all but disappeared. The nights when we stay up way too late - won't be happening anymore. Where has the summer gone?

To be honest, usually at this point in the summer, I can't wait to ship my kids off to school. I mean, I need a routine, people. But this year, I'm just not ready for school to start again.

When summer started at the end of May, I was dreading it. Dreading it. Brienne went to visit her Nanna and Pappy in Louisiana for a couple weeks and I was NOT looking forward to being "stuck" at home with the little kids. I could foresee temper tantrums, knock-down drag-out fighting, afternoons spent not napping, and no time to myself. My attitude was terrible which caused the outlook to seem very bleak.

But can I just say that this has been one of the best summers we've ever had? (I hope I'm not jinxing myself since there are still two weeks left.) Now, don't get me wrong. There have been some tantrums. Some fighting. Some afternoons spent not napping. And there hasn't been much time for myself. There have been moments when I wanted to run away. Times when I've felt the need for a heavy dose of medication. (Just being real, y'all.) But for the most part, it's been a great summer.

Brienne took tennis and horseback riding lessons while she was in Louisiana. And when she finally came back to Valdosta, she joined the local swim team and she also started guitar lessons. She just came home from church camp last night, and I have loved hearing all about her crazy friends and the games they played, and seeing her so excited about new worship music makes me almost giddy. I love how she and I can just hang out and talk without too much attitude. I'm amazed at how much I enjoy being with her now that she is growing up. (It sounds like it wasn't ever fun being around her. It totally was! But I love this new older version of her.)

Most days, Jonah and Vivienne completely exhaust me. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. We've spent many mornings playing at a local park, and we've also enjoyed playing at Jump 'n Jacks, which has tons of bounce houses and blow-up slides. Jonah is doing amazingly well in his OT sessions, and his therapist really feels like he will be completely fine in a couple years. That is music to my ears and an answer to my prayers.

Sweet Vivienne is truly an entity unto herself. Some days (and by "some days," I mean every day), I really don't know what to do with her. For instance, she spent three whole days wearing goggles. Who does that? She's bossy and defiant, but she's also loving and giggly. She's my most cuddly child and I love it when she climbs up in my lap for snuggle time.

Just tonight, I was holding back tears of laughter while putting the little kids to bed. We were reading the story about David and Goliath and as I was reading, I pointed to Goliath and asked Jonah who he was. He answered with, "Goliath." We read a little more then I pointed to David and asked Jonah who he was. His answer? "Otis." Otis? Really? How many hundreds of times have we read this story?? Otis? Sheesh.

Then I turned to the story of Jonah and asked, "Should we read the story of Jonah and the Whale next?" And Vivi whined, "No! Read Vivi and the Whale!"

I'm telling you - these kids are a hoot! 

I've recently been studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians and I came across this verse:

"How can we thank God enough for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?"
1 Thess 3:9

Y'all, this is exactly how I feel about my kids. I can not thank God enough for the joy they bring me. They amaze me with their funny sayings and their cute facial expressions and their insights into life. They are precious jewels. Priceless to me.

Two and a half more weeks, then these long summer days will be over. We will rush through breakfasts, hurry off to school, and once again become busy with after-school activities and the hustle and bustle of life.

Two and a half more weeks.

Lord, don't let me take this time for granted. Thank you for the joy my kids bring.