Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Joshua and the Wristband

Our Daily Fred: If you’ve followed us for a while, you are familiar with the wristband debacle of 2013. 

Or maybe it was 2011. 

I can’t remember. 

For the past 8 years, or so, we’ve taken a family trip to the beach over Spring Break. We used to go in the summer, but then the younger boys started having summer football practices...so we started going in the Spring. 

The place we stay gives everyone wristbands, and you’re supposed to wear them while you’re on the property...or on the beach. You know, to identify you as someone who is renting a condo on their property. 

Every year, I think, “this will be the year that it’s not a *thing* with our #1 child...” and, every year, I’m wrong. 

And, every year, I’m baffled. 

Baffled at how an adult human-being absolutely cannot abide an innocent strip of plastic-y-vinyl-y material that never hurt anybody...hanging loosely on their wrist. 

Baffled at how, in a family of, say, 10 or so people, 9 people can slap on the wristband without a thought...but that 1 person sees the wristband as a declaration of war. 

We don’t put it on him too tight. We make it a point to be careful with this, so that it doesn’t “choke” his arm. And then we lull ourselves into thinking things are okay, until at dinner when someone notices, and asks, “where’s your wristband?” 

Then we get a defiant glare, along with a lot of mumbling. 

Usually, by the time we are all headed down to the beach the next morning, we’ve forgotten about it...until we notice the incredibly thin and stretched out band is back on his wrist, barely hanging on. We all wonder when the stretching-out-of-it happens, because it’s never done in our presence. Does he stay up all night? What? 

This year, I walked into our condo bedroom, to find a big bowl of chaos going on. He’d lost the wristband. 

LOST.IT. 

I was so frustrated. He.is.32.years.old and it.is.just.not.that.hard.to.wear.the.stinkin.band. But I helped him look through the room, the bathroom, his bed, THE TRASH. I even looked through the clothes in the dryer. No wristband. 

Fortunately, the nice people at the place had given us an extra one. 

I put this one on him a little tighter. Don’t worry, it still wasn’t even remotely touching his wrist. 

Later than evening, I found that band on the dresser...snapped in two. 

What.in.the.world? 

UGHHHHH. 

This past Sunday, Joshua received the sweetest gift from sweet Mrs. Renee Bond: chocolate chip cookies, and prayer bracelets for her husband. 

Joshua’s been doling those cookies out like he’s Oprah...”YOU get a cookie...and YOU get a cookie...” 

And as he slipped one of those prayer bracelets on, he smiled real big, and said, “now THIS is a band I will wear!” 

We are continuing to pray for you, Bro. David! Thank you, Mrs. Renee!

"Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." Ephesians 6:18

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

KON-MARI, Y'all

So it seems nearly everyone I know is watching the tiny tidy lady show, and throwing out everything they own. 
If you’re one of the 2 people who haven’t heard of this show, it’s this sweet lady who helps people cleanse their homes and closets of all the unnecessary things. 
You’re supposed to clear everything out of your closet, and, before you bring anything back in, you hold up each item, and ask yourself it it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, you toss (or donate) it...but not before thanking it for it’s service. 
I want to thank God, who has blessed us far more than we deserve. And Jim’s parents, for helping us get through college...which enabled us to get jobs...which, helps us buy (borrow, share) the things we need, including clothes. 
But whatev. 
I’m all about a spirit of generosity. 
So thank you, black leggings, for holding things in over Thanksgiving and Christmas...and for stretching beyond the bounds of spandex and thread. Thank you for being my “go to” for all the tunics, and for staying smooth when I stuffed you into my FUGG (fake Ugg) boots. 
You were like pants to me. 😢 
Now that there’s a hole in you, I can no long wear you out in public. I still love you, but this is good-bye.” 😭 
And just so all y’all know, the only clothes that bring me joy (besides the velvet sequined leggings I wore on NYE) are my 7 pairs of flannel pajammies...and so I will now be wearing them everywhere I go until the first of May. 
Or mid-April, if it gets too hot. 
"And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

Monday, January 7, 2019

Hello Blog, My Old Friend...I've Come to Write on You Again...

Remember that time I had a blog and I updated on it regularly, like a journal, so my kids/grandkids would be able to read about our family after I'm gone?

Remember that year when Mom fell off the face of the earth?

So much has happened during the last year and a half or so. I probably won't go back and recap it all...maybe I'll just wait til something comes up. I don't know.

But here we are in January, and so far it's awesome!

And, by "awesome," I mean it's quiet...calm...uneventful. Nothing like the past 6 months in our family...with an engagement, a wedding, the announcement of 2 more grandbabies coming, a job promotion, and two of ours finishing grad school. HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD!

Right now, I'm content to just be.

To sit and think and (hopefully) write some things.

School started back here today, which affects me not at all, because my kids are grown...but I remember simultaneously hating this day, and also being kind of relieved at this day.

Anyone else?

I'm the crazy mom who loves having the kids home during the holidays, and during the summers. I love the chaos and the no schedule and the lazy days. But as much as I loved it, my kids did get restless...and it wasn't until after they were all back at school that I realized how nice it was to just have a minute to breathe.

Having the time to catch your breath, when you have a busy family, is so nice...and not underrated at all.

So this morning is quiet...and slow.

But it's still a Monday, so you best believe I made muffins for Joshua. I'm not a complete psycho.

We were supposed to have Rhodie today, but the census was down in the NICU, so Holly got canceled. Joshua has spent all morning up in his room...singing, dancing, working out, praying, reading the Bible, writing in his journal.

I've spent my morning doing all of that, too...except the working out part!

He came downstairs at lunch time...sniffing the air, and looking around. If we have the baby, we almost always go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch...because about 11:15, Rhodie will start yelling, "CHICK-EN! FRIES! KETSUP! AH-PUL JOOSE! ICY CREAM!"

Today, since we don't have him, I thought we could just eat something here. I said, "Joshua, you can eat Dad's leftover sub sandwich that's in the frig." Joshua: [HUGE SIGH} "okay..."

He's not too good at hiding his disappointment.

He also made a "S'more" for his dessert, but he said he could only find half of one graham cracker...so he layered: 1/2 graham cracker, 1/2 Hershey bar...and he put 1/2 marshmallow on top. Then he microwaved it for, like, 2 seconds.

And I didn't say a word.

Teaching independence, one cold, hard S'more at a time.

What are your goals for January? I have some.

Do you have a word for this year? I think I do.

This morning, I'm feeling peaceful, thankful, encouraged, expectant.

HAHAHAHA...at first, I typed "expectorant." I'm not feeling expectorant at all. Thank goodness!

"...Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?" 2 Samuel 7: 18

Thursday, October 11, 2018

When "Bad" Things Happen to "Good" People

If you're reading here, most likely it's because of a connection you have with Down Syndrome. I mean, that's why this blog was started. My sister set it up for me, because she said I should share my stories of our life with Joshua. It's been a great outlet for me, and possibly...maybe...hopefully...it has brought some encouragement to others who are walking a similar path.

If you don't know, we got the "surprise diagnosis" of Down Syndrome when Joshua was born...meaning, we didn't know about his diagnosis before his birth. Because of my age (26), and the fact that he was my first child, very little testing was done during my pregnancy. I pretty much had a picture perfect pregnancy, with no red-flags, and no reason for concern.

What I don't write a bunch about on here, is that 10 years later, I gave birth to our fourth child, Clark, at just 27 weeks, 4 days. It was a pregnancy full of complications. Even tho he was very premature, and weighed just over 3 pounds, he was relatively healthy, for his gestational age. After 7 1/2 weeks in the NICU, he came home, and all was well...chaotic, with 4 kids...but well...for almost 2 years.

A few weeks after Clark's 2nd birthday, I was lovin' on him, like Mommies do...and I felt a hard place in his abdomen. I told Jim about it, and he said, "it's probably just the way he's sitting." Well, I sat down, and I didn't feel a hard place like that in MY belly...but Clark wasn't acting like he felt all that bad. I remember him being a little fussy, but I blamed it on teething. I mean, who goes straight to thoughts of cancer in a perfectly healthy toddler? Still, later in the week, I was at the pediatrician with one of our other kids, and I casually mentioned it to the doctor, and asked him to check it out.

Fast forward to that night, after a day full of rushing around having tests, we were admitted to Arkansas' Children's Hospital for surgery. Clark, our baby, had cancer. He had a malignant tumor, the size of a man's fist, growing out of his liver. He had surgery to remove the tumor, and part of his liver...and began his chemo regimen a couple of days later. His cancer was contained, but it was fast-growing...so it was treated aggressively.

It was during this time that the questions and comments started...people asking "why?"

Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do believers have to suffer?
Why do children have to suffer?
Why would God allow this?
It's too much.
This.can.not.be.
Does God still heal?

In 2010, a sweet, young couple in our church were expecting their first child. She'd had a miscarriage or two, but this one seemed to be "sticking," and we were all so excited. But, after an ultrasound, their world came crashing down. Their child...their son...was deemed to have complications "not compatible with life outside the womb."

They were presented with their options. We all knew what their choice would be. They believe that life begins at conception...and that God is in charge of life and death. They chose to carry Karston...that's what they named him...to term, knowing that, unless God intervened, their son would die at birth.

And they prayed. Oh, they prayed. We all did. The parents were in ministry at our church, and the students really rallied around them. Our church, our community...we all banded together for one common goal: we prayed for God to heal Karston.

Karston's parents were so faithful. They were vulnerable, hopeful...and raw. Many times during our worship services, I would see Karston's big, ol' dad...arms stretched wide, face up to Heaven...pleading with God for a miracle.

What a testimony it would be if God healed Karston. It would have lit our community on fire for the Lord, no doubt. I could just imagine the lives that could be reached for eternity!

This was all the stuff I was telling God...the reasons I was giving as to why He should heal Karston. I'm sure He loved hearing my opinions on what He should do.

I remember a conversation with Karston's Dad. We were talking about trials...and the different people we knew who were facing extreme difficulties in their lives. He said, "I'm just glad that my trial is only for 9 months."

I took that to mean that he was thinking it would all be over then: the anxiousness, the sleepless nights, the waiting, the pleading, the unknowing, the hoping...it would all be done in 9 months, and then they could move on.

But you and I know it's not that easy, right? There are scars that come from trials that stay with us forever. And over the next few days, weeks, and months, my heart ached as I watched them come to terms with that. Like, I ACHED for them. I think, for me, it's easier to go through something myself...than to watch someone I love go through it.

Does that make sense?

The big revival I imagined would happen if God healed Karston? It didn't happen. But what did happen was like what happens when you fan an ember. It was slow...steady...quiet. Lives were changed. Friendships were formed. Hope was rekindled. Faith was renewed. Strength was evident. Relationships were created. Seeds were planted. Jesus was found.

And we are still telling this story today...of two parents who recognized the sovereignty of God in the most difficult of situations...who remained faithful in the midst of a great trial...who were able to praise God after experiencing the unimaginable...who tell this story over and over, and point to Jesus as the source of all good things...and who continue to give God the glory for the son who took one breath, and was whisked to Heaven.

Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do believers have to suffer?
Why do children have to suffer?
Why would God allow this?
It's too much.
This.can.not.be.
Does God still heal?

You know, it's okay to not know all the answers. It's okay to answer, "I don't know," or "I agree...I don't understand that, either," when someone starts asking these questions around you.

I don't know how a plane works, but I get on one, and trust it to get me to my destination. My husband works for a utility company, but I don't know how electricity works, really. I just know that when I flip a switch, the lights come on. I don't know how medicine is made, but I take it if I need it. I didn't make that chair...but I trust it to hold me. There's a lot in life that we don't understand.

I don't know everything about God. What I do know about Him, about His character, I know from what the Bible says. It tells us that God is good...that He loves us...and that He has a plan for us. It tells us that a thousand years is like a day to Him. It tells us that our lives are like a vapor.

One of my most favorite passages is the Bible is found in John 9: 1-3: As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” His disciples asked Him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."

And this is what I believe about this, in a nutshell: some things are caused by God, and some things are allowed by God...I don't know which things, and I don't understand it all. Sometimes I don't agree with it, and sometimes I don't like it. But I came to a moment in my life when I had to lay it all down...my will, my way, how I think things should be...because my will is easily influenced by my circumstances, and my way is many times wrong, and because there are situations when I really DON'T know what is best. Because I believe in Him, I believe that He loves me...and I believe that He is "for" me, and wants the best for me.

I believe that God doesn't waste any of our experiences...He is refining us, teaching us to depend on Him in all situations, strategically putting us in places where He can use us to bring comfort and encouragement...places where we can share our stories...places where we can point to HIM. He is bringing us in line with His will for our lives. These trials we are facing? He will bring us through them, or He will bring us home. 








Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Power of ONE-October 9, 2018

I'm kind of slacking in the blogging department, I know. I still LOVE it, and I still long to leave some things for my children and grandchildren to read...but life is keeping me on the go!

Or maybe I just need to be more disciplined.

Probably the discipline one.

Anyway, this is October: Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Or, as we like to call it in our family: The Month of Joshua's People.

Every day I am trying to post a thought or a memory about our Down Syndrome journey. I should just link it to the blog, or link the blog to Facebook...but this blog is the last avenue I have to share from my heart. Now that Joshua has Facebook and Instagram, I have to be more careful in the things I know he will read...because I never want to hurt his feelings in any way.

Anyway, if you want to keep up with the daily posts this month, you can follow me here.

I know I post a version of this every year in October, but I can’t help it. Every time I think of how God went before us in this journey...how He was working on our behalf, even when we couldn’t see it...I can’t help but share this story. 

Because it’s all so unlikely. 

Unlikely that a little Kindergarten girl would befriend a very different little Kindergarten boy...and that they would be friends all the way through school. 

During Joshua's 2nd year of Kindergarten, he met Lindsey Walker. Lindsey's mom was a teacher at their school, and they lived in our neighborhood. I don't know how it happened, or why, but Lindsey Walker latched on to Joshua...and would not let him go. She became his friend, confidant, protector and helper. 

Her family also went to our church, so she and Joshua were in Sunday School and children's choir together. He couldn't get away from her if he tried! 

Lindsey Walker told him what to do and when to do it. She helped him when he needed help...and even sometimes when he didn't! She fought WITH him...and she fought FOR him. She was a friend to Joshua, and a blessing to this Momma for sure! 

Joshua and Lindsey Walker stayed friends all the way through school. I think they were even football managers together in the 7th grade. They graduated together, and Lindsey headed to college...to be a TEACHER. 

Joshua's life would've been quite different without Lindsey Walker, I'm certain of it. 

If you are a parent, tell this to your kids...if you're a teacher, tell your students...if you're a student, understand this: never underestimate the influence you can have in the life of even ONE other person. 

All that Joshua accomplished in school first started with ONE teacher who believed in him...and ONE little girl...who took a chance on an unlikely friendship with ONE little boy...and it made ALL the difference in the world. 

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense." Proverbs 27:9