Saturday, 25 March 2017


We say them. Or sometimes they get caught in our throat. 

Maybe we type them. Or maybe we change our minds and hit backspace until they all go away. 

There is amazing power in the words we choose to say. And equal power in those we don't. 

A few years ago, after working my way through a lot of loss, I decided that I would write a letter to each of my parents for Christmas.  You see, they have all the material possessions they could ever want or need.  But as parents, the one thing you always want is to know that your kids are okay, and that as much as you may feel like it, they want to know they didn't mess you up too badly.

I didn't have a perfect childhood.  None of us did.  But I had something so precious that it took me no longer being a child to figure it out.  I had unconditional love.  And that's as close to perfect as I think any of us can get. 

Sure, I frustrated my parents.  And I know that I disappointed them on more than one occasion.  But the power in knowing that no matter what, I would always have their love is beyond measure.

I thanked them for doing their best as parents, husband and wife, and friends.  I let them know that I know it was hard at times, and that I appreciated that they never let up, they kept pushing through whatever struggle it was that they were facing.  How brave they were to always choose love, no matter how vulnerable it might make them.  I really wanted to say these things to them, not to those who came to hear the eulogy. 

There is such power in your words, whether spoken or written.  And those who have been there should hear them.

This year has already been a year of loss and struggle for many of those around me.  And I know that some of them feel as though they are walking alone.  Maybe you feel like you're in this battle alone.

I promise you, you are not.  There is someone who wants so badly to walk this with you.  Jesus.  There is such power in His name alone.  And even more power in a relationship with the only one who can truly offer the world. 

Friends, I pray that you would stand in His strength.  He is ready and waiting to do great things for you.  Things you can't even imagine.  You just have to let Him.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for my parents.  And I thank you for waiting by my side for so long, waiting for me to turn to you.  I know that I've made the wrong choices time and again.  Just like I know that you love me in a way that no one else can ever compare to.  I pray that anyone who is feeling alone today would turn to you.  That they would have the chance to feel your beautiful arms surround them with a peace and a strength beyond their wildest dreams.  I pray that we would all turn to you for wisdom in these trying times, and that you would open our eyes to those around us.  Let us use our words to build people up, rather than tear them down.  And above all, let us walk in love, no matter how challenging that may be.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

She Is Perfect, Just the Way She Is

Sorry I haven't written yet this week.  I fell last week and hurt my wrist and shoulder.  And knee.  Well, essentially my entire left side.  I was carrying my 2 year old when I slipped on an icy sidewalk and turned to the left so that I wouldn't land on her.  And as it turns out, since I am now in my mid-30's, I no longer heal overnight.
While once again lying on my couch, I have had time to ponder. 

This wasn't the post I had been planning and working on, but it's really all that I've been thinking of, so here we go.  :)

Our daughter is still being looked at as gifted and possibly being somewhere on the autism spectrum.  While I've known she is a little quirky, somehow having someone want to put that label there makes me feel like less of a good parent.  I have a wonderful friend who has worked in this field for most of her adult career who keeps assuring me that I'm doing everything right in advocating for my child, offering suggestions when I phone with questions about what to do next.  And I feel confident.

But then my daughter wants to know why we're doing all these tests.  We started with the gifted tests as recommended by our school, which proved she is ahead of the average for math and LA.  But then we noticed that some of her behaviours were vastly different than those of her friends. 

She has always talked (A LOT!!!), and she loves people.  So that means that she's just a little awkward around people, not really understanding how to draw out others people's interests in conversation.  Since this is something I too struggle with, we didn't really think any more of it.

My daughter was worried that she would have to do more computer tests (gifted testing was online for us), since she believed she failed them before.  What really happened was that it was a long, boring, silly test that had her making up words and then trying to spell them.  And we got bored.  And she got bored.  And she did the human thing and she clicked random things because her attention span was all used up for the day.  And so her teacher wanted to make sure that the test was as accurate as possible and came over to help her pay attention to the test.  Her teacher said that DD was answering questions faster than she could read them herself!  It was not a failure at all, we just needed to make sure that the test was done to the best she could so that she would be seen for just who she was, and where she is academically.

And we've been talking to her about how God makes all of us special.  Some people are made to be great at math and talking, learning to read really early and struggle in other areas.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, but we are exactly the way God made us.  And He made us on purpose and with a purpose.  Struggles make us stronger and give us the opportunity to learn.

I talked to her about the testing that we are considering now and that there would be no computers.  This would be one on one with another adult.  There are no right or wrong answers for these tests, because they are just looking to meet her where she is and help us to make a plan.  We are all trying to figure out how we can help her to be the best version of her that she can be. 

When I told her that we are hoping that we can learn some new tools for making friends better.  And maybe we could find someone to help her to be more coordinated (the girl is just like I was when I was little, which means she is constantly falling over herself.)  And her eyes lit up.  So much.  And it broke my heart that this beautiful little girl, who can speak at a grade level 5-6 years ahead of her age, would cherish being able to walk in a straight line without falling over.  It is so easy to concentrate on the fact that she is so smart and forget that just because she is, doesn't mean that she doesn't struggle or notice that she's different.

The more that we've read, the more we truly see some really cle
ar signs that she fits in the spectrum.  Of the 4 personality marker types we've researched, 2 of them must have been written about her.  I mean, they were her to a "T".  And it got me to thinking that there may be many other people in our boat.  Knowing that there is something a little different about their child but not being able to quite put their finger on it.

Before her, I wasn't a Mom.  She didn't come with a manual.  And for our family, she is just my darling daughter.  I don't want to think of her struggling.  It is so hard to stand by and watch when all you really want to do is rush in and fix everything.  And sometimes, you can't.  And that sucks.

I know that we are in for a long road to a diagnosis.  And that we will have a lot of questions along the way.  And I'm going to try to write about it (while still maintaining my daughters privacy), so that you can walk with us.  And maybe we can walk this walk together.  Or maybe it will just help you to know that you are not alone in this process.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for each of my children.  I thank you that you have made each of them so different, and yet so perfect.  God, I ask that you would guide us in raising them, and that you would fill in all the holes we leave.  That you would open the eyes of our hearts on those difficult days, so that we could see them the way you see them.  And that we would depend on you for strength and perseverance as we advocate for what's best for them.  Help us to find our support network, so that we know we are not the only ones going through this, and that our children are perfect because You made them.  In your name.  Amen.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Mental Health

I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy with my hubby tonight, and it touched on mental health issues.  It's such a difficult subject for so many people.  And unless you've been there and done that, it's one of the most formidable things to try to explain to someone else.

My first husband suffered from depression.  Looking back now, I can see a little more clearly the struggles that he had each and every day. 

We were young when we got together, and I had just gotten out of a tumultuous relationship with a high school boyfriend.   A high school boyfriend who also suffered from mental health issues and it ended with me having to let his mother know that I couldn't do it anymore and that I felt her son was going to need suicide watch.

And in walks this new man, with the best laugh I've ever heard in my life.  I still miss that laugh and that huge smile.  What I would learn over the next couple of years was that smile was hiding a lot of angst.  And worry over the future of everything.  And what felt like the weight of the world on his shoulders.  It was a very challenging relationship, but I was determined to see this one through.  We bought our first house together, discussed children.  I had a ring on my finger that was all we could afford at the time.  And we really worked on making it.  Until we just couldn't do it anymore.   I kept the house since he wanted to go and explore the world.  And he left, just like that.

To say I was devastated was an understatement. 

I spent the next 3 years putting myself back together, learning who I wanted to be outside of a relationship.  I learned how to be truly happy, all by myself.  I found that I could go home at the end of the day by myself, and be content. 

When he returned from his travels, he asked about getting back together.  I had given this a lot of thought and decided that I really didn't want to.  I was actually really happy just being me.  And I wasn't willing to give that up to go back to who I used to be.  I didn't like that girl anymore.

I moved on with my life, meeting my husband, and falling in love with Jesus.  I found a man that loved me, quirks and all, and we had dreams of changing this world together.

He moved on to what we all thought was the perfect girl for him.  They shared all his common interests.  She loved the outdoors.  And they seemed to be really happy. 

Until his Dad walked into my workplace one day. 

He looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  He had just been released from the hospital after a death defying fight with adult mumps, which left half of his face paralyzed, with scabs all over his face and neck. 

And upon being released from the hospital, he found out his son had lost his life-long fight with depression.

He walked up to me and said "He's gone."  Naively, I asked where he had gone.  Had he left on another trip? 

Well, no. 

And my life would never be the same again.  Neither would anyone else who had loved that man at one time or another. 

I managed to keep it together while my ex father-in-law was there, comforting him as best as I could through my own shock.  And then he left and I just fell apart.

All I could think was how could I have left this happen?  How could I have not done something to stop this?  It wasn't rational.  There was no logic to these thoughts.  And to be perfectly honest, I still have days, almost 10 years later, where I wonder if I could have done something differently.  Could I have been his saving grace somehow?

My brain tells me that no, there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome. 

My husband doesn't really know what my life was like before him.  Not because he hasn't tried to understand, but because he can't.  It's hard for someone who has never gone through it to understand that your logic becomes a little bit warped as your mind tries to make your world make sense.  And everyone's situation is just that little bit different.  And it's difficult for me to go back to that time.  I survived, and some days, that's all I want to say about it.

I don't know where you are.  I don't know if you've ever walked the lonely rode of depression, certain there was no help for you, that you were just too far gone to be helped.  I don't know if you've had to watch someone you love struggle with every day life, not knowing what to say or do to make things different.  Please, ask for help.  Do not think that you have to do this on your own, but reach out.  There is someone out there that would love nothing more than to help you, if only you would ask.

I know that writing this has been one of the hardest, most exposing things I have ever done.   I pray that it helps someone out there to know that they are not alone in this.  And maybe gives some insight to those on the outside. 

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that we are never truly alone.  I thank you for picking me up out of that pit and showing me that I could have so much more, if only I could put my faith in you.  I thank you for your patience and grace as you introduced me to the new me.  I lift up all of those who are suffering because of mental illness.  I pray your strength and peace over them Lord, and ask that they feel your love and grace beyond measure.  I pray that they would turn to you as I had to, so that you could make me whole again.  In your name.  Amen.

Friday, 3 March 2017

They Aren't Little Forever

My Sweetie is about to turn 7.  It feels like somehow I laid down for a nap and now she's more than halfway to being a teenager.  How does this happen?!?

I prayed for this little girl, and after our first round of fertility helpers, we finally got pregnant.  It was almost the pregnancy to end all pregnancies for me.  I was so sick.  I didn't know it was possible to be so sick all the time.  It was definitely not just in the mornings!

I was promised that she would be small because of my difficulties.  It turns out that doctors don't actually know everything.  She arrived into the world with a fight at a healthy 8 lbs 10 oz.  She was so small and alert.  I was so lost.  We learned how to nurse together.  She taught me patience and a love I could never even fathom before she made me a mother.

I watched her eyes widen as she said her first words "wiggle giggle".  And she has been talking strong ever since.  I got to witness her first steps.  And her determination to never let a tower stand.  She would come from the other end of the house to knock down a tower of blocks if she saw me building it.

I watched her fall in love with her little brother, confident that she knew how to do everything for him.  She doted on him like he was her very own baby doll.

It has been a privilege to watch her learn and grow over the last 7 years.

As I watched her play with her little sister tonight, huddled under the kitchen table and giggling, I couldn't help but wonder who she's going to become.

I already know she is loving, caring, loyal and has the memory of an elephant.  She remembers little details for years and years.  She doesn't have many friends, but those she does she is fiercely loyal to.  They are her friends for better or for worse, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

She wants to be a police officer when she grows up because she wants to make a difference in other peoples' lives.  She isn't phased by people who are hurt or seeing blood (unless its her own, that's a whole different story!)

She loves to cook, clean and help anyone in any way she can.  She's not afraid to work to earn her money.  She excels at reading and math, and loves anything to do with science.

I don't know how all these things are going to add up as she grows.  I do know that she's going to grow up long before I'm ready for her to.  I'm not even ready for her to be 7!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Serving Souls or Eating Crow

Today is Day 1 of our "Zip It: The Keeping it Shut 40 Day Challenge" by Karen Ehman.  We have a Facebook group if you would like to join us.  There are almost 3,000 participants!

The very first day is about realizing the power of our words.  The words Karen used that stuck with my the most were, "words are powerful, and they have consequences."

This.  So much of this.

Like everyone else, I've had conversations that have stuck with me over the years, for better or worse.  I remember quite clearly an awful conversation I had in high school with a girl I didn't know very well at the time.  She was quiet, but always kind.  Something was said to me, and I reacted.  And I said some words that still make me cringe. 

I had the opportunity to see this girl, well, lady now, since this was over 15 years ago.  My daughter was having emergency surgery, and wouldn't you know it, one of her nurses was this very woman. 

While I had never forgotten how awful I had been, I had no idea if she still thought of me, or how awful those words were.  I got my answer to that when she came into the room.  One look at me, and I knew that she remembered that day as clearly as I did. 

Now I was sitting by my daughter's bedside with my husband, waiting for the surgeon, and also thinking about how I needed to make things right.

She was quite nice to us, making small talk to help distract us from worrying, and answering all of our questions about what we would be expecting as they got our daughter ready.  She was really professional, never letting on that her last experience with me was not very cordial.

My husband and I sat with our daughter, laughing about the things she was saying after they started the anaesthetic, finding her really funny and encouraging her silliness. 

I don't know if any of you have ever apologized for something that felt like an entire lifetime ago, but I can tell you that the words don't come easily. 

As I sat there waiting for our daughter to be brought back out, I sheepishly told my husband that I had said some unkind words to this woman back in high school and I needed to apologize.  I had been an insecure and foolish young girl with a wisecracking mouth and it was coming back to bite me in the rear.

After our sweet little girl was brought out, I asked the nurse if I could have a minute to just talk to her.  I think we were both so nervous at this point because it was so awkward.  I apologized for my words back then, and told her that she didn't deserve them.  I was so sorry that something I had said in the spur of the moment would have such long-lasting effect, especially when she had been nothing but kind to me.  She thanked me for actually apologizing as not very many people would do that so many years later.  She told me the things that had happened in her life after school, and then asked about me.  I wouldn't say we parted friends, but at least now when I see her, I can genuinely smile, and I hope she can too.

I learned two things that day with regards to my words. 

They can last in both the speaker's mind and the recipients, but you can always apologize.  It is never too late to make things right.

And that I would so much rather speak words that would build someone up, rather than tear them down and end up having to eat them later.  Crow has never tasted good.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you would help us to guard our words.  Let us run them through your grace and love before they come flying out of our lips.  When we are poised to react to a situation, soften our hearts and our minds so that we don't say something that we will regret in the years to come.  Thank you for all the beautiful souls that we have the chance to impact every day.  In your name.  Amen.