Tuesday, September 16, 2014

She Got It!!

I was thrilled and nervous went I hit publish on our big Jack birthday idea. We had agreed to raise almost $3000 to cover the cost of a wheelchair for a little girl named Nellie Jo. We had 15 days and needed our friends and family to join in with us on this dream. I said a quick prayer, clicked publish and then waited by my phone.

I shouldn't have worried. Immediately, email after email came in, showing that our amazing family, friends, and yes, even those we have never met, were determined to get Nellie Jo her chair. In fact, over 50 of you gave, which is truly incredible. We were blown away. Thank you for believing in this idea and for generously giving.

And the reason for reminding you of this? I am so happy to share with you that our girl got her chair last week!! And it is perfect. Medically speaking, it is a chair that is expertly fitted to her specific needs. This will change her life, no doubt. And not only did I want to share this fabulous news, we have a video! (Click here if you can't see it)

I knew she was adorable in the photos I saw, but I am now officially in love with Nellie Jo. Isn't her laugh and smile the best? Because of you and your willingness to believe in our birthday idea, we were able to do something tangible and life-changing. Doesn't get much better than that. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
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Monday, September 8, 2014

And Off He Goes

All the feelings this morning, friends. This kid went off to school. Very confidently, I might add.

But first, Jack just being adorable.

I remember when this little backpack was huge on him. It's crazy how our children grow. There is still a part of me that worries about all that school entails, but my worry is in no comparison to how excited I am to see the amazing things this kid will accomplish this year.

Checking out his new classroom.

And his communication cards.

He thinks it's pretty awesome!

And one last hug from daddy and off he went.

We hope this school year is filled with lots of learning and lots of fun! We love you, buddy.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lord, please let me hear his little voice.

I found myself tucked away in a tiny monastery over the weekend. (You read that right.) I went with a couple of friends to a small group of nuns who just so happen to open up their beautiful home to visitors longing for a quiet place to pray, rest, and retreat.

The nuns have their living quarters on one side of the monastery, with a small chapel at the center, and guest rooms flanking the other side. We were free to use the chapel, any of the cozy and quiet rooms on the guest end, and the grounds surrounding the facility. We were also invited to join the nuns for morning prayers. This non-Catholic was touched when upon arrival, the nun explained that while we were using their space, they would be praying for us. These are women who have spent the last fifty years in prayer, each and every day. I was honored.

Visiting the monastery was perfect timing. A kiss at the end of summer, awaiting the beautiful autumn. I am a "fall" girl. I feel most alive in the season of changing leaves. I'm always more energized. More focused. I had dreams about using the monastery time to strategize and plan out my entire fall. Goals, projects, vision. You get the idea.

As I sat down to think about entering September, the month I refer to as "mine", my thoughts went to my boy. Does this happen to every parent? The immediate recognition that life is totally and completely altered because of our little ones?

One of the theological mysteries that I often contemplate is prayer. Since having Jack, I have spent more time pleading with God than I ever thought was possible. Pleading with God for each and every breath. Pleading for health. Pleading for protection. Also, more time spent in thankfulness. Utter and life-altering thankfulness for each milestone. More acceptance of his life and his needs. Acknowledgement that for some reason, Jack was spared and he is on this earth.

This is the confusing balance. Of wanting and pleading for more. Always more. Feelings of desperation. But also of accepting more. Of knowing we are the lucky ones. Of gratitude. This is why prayer is such a mystery to me.

And so in the first moment of quiet at the monastery, I scribbled down these words. I had stolen away to an outside deck. My view was a big golden field and an outcropping of trees beyond. I was watching the sun dip down the big Montana skyline and as I saw the light fade, I wrote these words:

For Jack
How much do I ask for?
How much do I accept?
The line always fluctuates.
Always longing.
Then reminding myself how good we have it.
My boy is alive.
He is JOY.
But still, I ask.
I plead.
Lord, please let me hear his little voice.
And then I kinda just went quiet for the rest of the weekend. That was my prayer. That was enough.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Kid Who Is Rarely Mentioned

Is there any parent out there with a differently-abled child who watches how typical children react when your kid is around?

(FYI this is a given. OF COURSE we do.)

Honestly, most kids realize very quickly that Jack is different and maybe they stare a little and then they go on their merry way. I have yet to get the kid with tons of questions and I have only gotten the rude kid once. Trust me, you will always remember the first rude kid.

I know it will happen more as Jack gets older and I have read enough on how to deal with those situations that I feel pretty confident how to respond. From what I have heard from seasoned parents, most children feel comfortable once they realize that non-typical kids have interests and like fun things, too. For instance, Jack loves boat rides (the new, best thing ever!). Jack loves the wind in his hair and to go fast. He also really likes Sesame Street. See what I'm doing here? You find some common ground. You tell them that Jack might walk differently and he may not be able to say many words, but he sure loves to play catch! And then if you hand the kid a ball and invite them to play with you, even better. Bonus points for awesome parents of typical kids who take the initiative in these conversations.

But friends, there is this whole other kind of kid that rarely gets mentioned. This is the kid who when seeing Jack arrive, runs full-speed to our car and yells out "Hey Jack-man!" Then later, he notices Jack playing with his toys and reading his books and sits down next to him to play. This kid doesn't give up after a minute when he realizes Jack is not responding in the way he'd like. He is fine to just sit there with him. He is comfortable. He talks now and then, but really, is happy just being there. He doesn't ask questions or need direction.

I was thinking about this little friend and you know what? He has always been excited to see Jack. I don't know how else to describe it, but he is an innately kind child. One who is not afraid or shy and doesn't need any prodding from his parents.

This is the kid who is rarely mentioned. I hear a lot about how kids are mean to those with special needs. I hear a lot about getting left out and not included as the years go on. It comes with the territory of kids growing up, becoming aware, and just doing what humans do. I understand why bloggers write so much about it, because it just hurts.

But then there are the kids who are just kind, plain and simple. No strings attached. No "what can you do for me?" in the relationship. I pray Jack always has a friend like this in life.

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