Friday, August 24, 2012

The Fragile State of a Mother's Heart

I cried all the way home, and I am not a crier.

Yesterday was the second day of first grade for my precious little peanut. It was the first day that the kids were instructed to put their back packs by the classroom door and then head out to the playground to play until the bell rang. Then they line up  on the basket ball court.

Yesterday, as we walked to the play area, a sweet little girl came up to my daughter, Ryan, and talked to her. They then grabbed hands and went to the play structure together. My heart was overwhelmed with joy.

You see my daughter is different. She has a chromosomal abnormality. She is the only one one the world with her particular differentiation, and the bottom line is that too much genetic information is not how things are supposed to be.

She doesn't really talk. Her "run" is not like a typical 7 year old, because getting her body to do what is natural for others is a lot of work for her.

For Ryan, learning is difficult but loving is easy.

Yesterday the morning was blessed. Today the morning broke my heart.

The same little girl was there, so I encouraged Ryan to go play with her. Ryan tried to grab her hand, but the little girl pulled away. Ryan followed her into the play area, but the little girl turned her back on Ryan and went in the other direction.

I watched my daughter be rejected.

This summer I grieved the loss of kindergarten for this very reason. In kindergarten there was an amazing teacher who--long before Ryan was in her class--considered kindness to be the most important thing you could ever teach. She looked at Ryan as a huge gift to her and the other students. Every day I knew Ryan was safe, cherished and valued.

How can I bear, with grace, the devastating reality my daughter must face?

HE will mold me, and SHE will show me. As I breathed deeply and continued to watch I notice two things:

  • Ryan didn't skip a beat. She went to the play structure, climbed to the top of the slide, looked to make sure I was watching and slid down. She did the same thing over and over again, laughing the whole time.
  • The other little girl didn't find any one else to play with. She never smiled, and actually looked a bit lonely.
After Ryan had "conquered" the slide 6 or 7 times she bobbed out to me and gave me a big hug. When she walked into the classroom, she was all smiles and big waves.

She was okay. I was a mess.

My husband and I did not know there was anything special until after Ryan was born. When she was two days old and in the hospital, my pediatrician came to examine her. When he finished he said, "I am so, so sorry. But I would put your baby in the category of there's something not right, but I don't what it is."

I said to him, "Well...I painted on the wall above her crib, 'And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good.' I guess it is time for me to figure out if I really believe that."

In high school English I didn't realize that Flowers for Algernon was preparing me for my life. A life I wouldn't trade, a life that I love...but I don't love those moments when it is hard for my kids. Even though, in this case, it WASN'T hard for my daughter; it was hard for me.

And so she went into her day smiling, and I got into my van, turned on Christian music and cried. I let the songs remind me that God is in control. He loves her more than I do. He loves me more than I love her.

I am not sure how that is possible.

I am not sure how to survive the fragile state of my mother's heart. 

"And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good." Genesis 1:31

Friday, August 17, 2012

Odd Memories

Sometimes my husband is a genius.

I was remembering a time, over a decade ago, when the little girl in the picture was just a baby. Her older brother, who was 11, had done something wrong. I can't remember what it was, but whatever it was  escalated into one of those family "moments". 

Mom is yelling. Boy is crying. Dad wants it all to go away.

My son said he was going to run away. In a fit of tough love I told him he couldn't have his shoes. I shouted, "If your going out on your own, you have to do it on your own. No shoes from this house," or something equally ridiculous.

My son headed out the back door into the yard. We lived on a hill, and our back yard had a top portion, a bottom portion and a field beyond that. When he got down to the bottom part of the yard, my hubby grabbed the baby, ran out the door, and met my son just before he got to the field.

He then handed the baby to my angry adolescent and said, "Here. Take her."

My son was dumbfounded. Baffled, he asked, "What?"

"Yeah. If you are not going to be here I'd rather not have any kids. It will be easier."

My husband then turned around and came inside.

That was it. Drama was over, I was laughing hysterically, and my son could come back home with his dignity in tact. Things calmed down and we ate dinner. Our family of four was all under one roof.

Sometimes I make such a big deal out of every little thing, when what I really need to do is simply breathe.

" But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."-Galatians 5:22-23

It was an amazing display of the fruit of the Spirit in an unexpected moment and a creative way.

I love that guy.

Monday, August 13, 2012


This is my refrigerator:

It may not be perfectly organized for some people, but it is amazingly organized for me. That means I am making progress.

Just because I have not reached menu following perfection does NOT mean I am going to give up! Here is week #3:

MEXICAN MONDAY   Tacos.  I am trying Trader Joe's taco shells, so we'll see how we like them.

CROCK POT TUESDAY  Chicken with green chiles and cheese over rice and salad. As you can see I have started storing my lettuce in Mason jars. It keeps them so much crisper!

SIMPLE WEDNESDAY  I have Bunko this week, so mac 'n' cheese and fruit it is!

THURSDAY  Homemade pizza

FRIDAY  Burgers, of course!

SATURDAY  Fish Tacos...this time I really WILL make them

SUNDAY  Finger food and salad. We will eat out by the pool and have my hubby bbq shrimp and veggie skewers. We'll also have water melon and salad. This is the LAST Sunday before school starts, I want to make it fun!

I will remind myself of verses out of Proverbs 9:

Wisdom has built her house. She has hewn out her seven pillars; She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; She has also set her table...For by me your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you.

Let my days be multiplied, and let my years actually be full of life!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Because Not Every Bible Study Has to look the Same

I think I am finally ready to accept the fact that I don't fit in. May be I never will.

Perhaps that is okay.

I sit in leadership meetings for women's ministries and I often argue in my head...sometimes even out loud. What if you never find a best friend in your small group?

I think that church can sometimes feel like the loneliest place on the planet.

For years I have wrestled in and out of the midst of planning a brighten a corner project there is always much anticipation, excitement and conversation to be had. But in between the wild times, in the down times of real life, I sometimes find it hard to find a sincere "hello".

This summer I think I may have changed that. I accepted that I don't fit in, and prayerfully created a Bible Study that I would love. It came as a result of praying about two things:
  1. How to be a better steward, and REALLY use what God has given me to His glory.
  2. How to provide an engaging environment for Ryan, my 7 year old daughter with special needs.
It was centered around Lysa Terkeurst's DVD series WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN SAY YES TO GOD . I love Lysa Terkeurst, who is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her relaxed style, wrapped around simple verses with stories woven in was just what I needed this summer. This is how the day was scheduled:
  • 10:00 arrive.
  • 10:15 do fun, creative activities with our kids
  • 11:00 kids outside with childcare, moms watch the video and discuss
  • 12:00 Potluck lunch
  • 12:30 Open the cover to the pool and swim
 This is what it looked like:

I feel like I have new friends. I know that Ryan engaged in more activities than she would have had I not done it. Although she doesn't talk, I know that brain of hers is watching, and learning. This was the scene at my home last night, after the last Bible Study had ended earlier that (very, very hot) day.

You can't see it, but my Bible is to her left, and she is holding the workbook "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God". She had her stuffed animals sitting on the couch, and she was inviting them into the conversation about the book.

Precious. A great reminder. What Happens When Women Say Yes To God? Their children sometimes say yes, too. This never would have happened if I had just waited to fit in.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


When I woke up yesterday, I had one thought: AWAY.

I knew if I did not invest some time putting things away, throwing things away, or giving things away, I might end up being locked away in a loony bin. 

That might be an exaggeration.

But not much. I confess with eyes wide open that I am not a great housekeeper. I am not even a good housekeeper. I am not a hoarder, but I do not keep an environment that allows the rhythm of my life to function at its ideal. It is an on going struggle.

My daughter and I have a saying...when we get something simplified and organized we say it just feels more, "ahhhhhhhhhh....." We both know exactly what we mean. 

There is a peace in simplicity.


"for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." 2 Corinthians 8:21

Does it get any more simple than that?

This summer, my home has functioned more closely to the way that I desire. My girls and I hosted a weekly Bible Study here, so the word of God has grown.  I have really searched and found a better path for Brighten A Corner Ministry, so God's work will be done. My family has had lots of time together in the sun and relaxing, so my family feels stronger.

Now I need to simplify so that there is less burden of excess. Everything I keep in my home drains me of something--space, mental energy, a decision that needs to be faced.  Some of these things also add benefits...function, fun, or memories. As I grow, it is my hope that my home will both function as I want it to function AND look like I want it to look. 

The only hope of that happening is AWAY...putting things away, giving things away, or throwing things away. Away I go, to get to work!