Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weekend Update: Reconnecting With Friends

On Sunday morning, we got up and headed to SS and church like usual. During our small group, my phone and Jim's both vibrated with a message. It was from my friend, Dinah, saying that she and her husband were in town and wanted to meet after church.

Dinah and George, and their two boys, were great friends of ours back in our early days. They were some of our strongest supporters as we navigated our lives with Joshua, learning about Down Syndrome, and how it would change our lives. And they have been some of our most faithful prayer warriors...for us as we parent Joshua...and baby Clark, our now ornery healthy 18 year old...and for the other two children in-between. We have faced loss together and shared many aspects of our lives: good, bad, happy, sad, stressful, joyful...you name it. For 15 consecutive years, we vacationed with them on the beach in Destin, Florida.

SO.MANY.MEMORIES. of the kids growing up and being beach buddies.

So, we met them for lunch after church. We had a great time of remembering and catching up. Joshua was with us, so he chimed in whenever he could.

We talked about maybe going back to the beach with them one year. I don't know if that will ever happen...just because of life and all of the changes going on in both of our families.

I started thinking how it won't be long until we all have grandchildren...and then we will have come full-circle. We became friends with George and Dinah when we were just starting out having our own children...and now, here we are, each of us with some of those children married already. It won't be long until things change again and we are back in the world of bottles and sippy cups and walking with a little one on our hips.

I am so thankful for the friendships God has provided for Jim and I during our lives. Some were for a season, and some have been for life.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Capturing Memories and Handling Disappointment

So something happened this week.

Actually, it happened nearly 2 months ago, and we are just finding out about it now. It involves Logan and Morgan's wedding pictures...OR THE LACK THEREOF.

And let's just leave it at that.

And there are hurt feelings and disappointment and sadness over a moment in time that can never be recreated.

And there is anger.

Because what happens when you think things will be a certain way, and they aren't?

Or, what if you are waiting for something that never comes?

Or, what if you pay for something that you never get?

There are accidents and things that happen that are out of our control...I get that. And there are things that happen as a result of malice. And there's negligence.

And sometimes it's not clear what exactly happened.

So what do you do with all the feelings? And does our response, as Christians, when things go wrong...depend on the circumstances?

And is forgiveness is for everyone in every situation?

I believe the answers should be "no..." and "yes."

But here's the deal. It all looks good on paper...how we are supposed to act and what we are supposed to do. If you take the emotion out of it, it's easy.

But there is emotion...because there was expectation, and now there is loss...and a day and memories that we can never, ever capture again. It hurts.

And bless my sweet daughter-in-law's heart. I gave her the whole "you don't have to respond right now.." and the whole, "pray and ask God to give you the words to say.." and the whole, "one day you can forgive her..." SPEECH.

And that's what she did. She handled herself and the situation beautifully...all the while having to talk her mother and I off the ledge.

I gave her sound counsel, but as quickly as I could think, "look how good I am," I found myself thinking how I could tell everyone I knew about what happened, and how I could intentionally maybe try to ruin a person's reputation.

Oh, yes I did. And I'm ashamed to admit it. 

Because I was so mad. For good reason, but still.

And then the cock crowed.

Not really, but maybe.

UGH.

I'm a slow learner. That's an established fact. This whole week, before this happened, has been GOD showing His truth to me in example after example. From our Sunday School lesson from the book of Jonah, who took offense to something that wasn't his to take on...to a blog post I read just yesterday, on how even if no one else knows the truth, God knows...because He is the One Who sees.  And several other things in-between, God showed me how to act when things don't go my way, and I blew it. Big time.

I love my family. Capturing our special days, and our every days with pictures is important to me. I even love the "out-takes" and the imperfect shots we take...because they tend to show everyone's personalities.

Sometimes I love those shots even more than the "good" ones.

When I'm home during the day, I love to watch The Pioneer Woman at 11 a.m. Every once in a while, tho, the Food Network throws a little Trisha Yearwood in there, just to mess with me. Nothing against TY, I just really like Ree!

But this particular day, Trisha was cooking for her family...her dad and her sister and some other family members. Her dad said something that encompassed my whole philosophy when it comes to taking pictures.

During the course of the show, they were showing pictures of their family in years past. Trisha's mom has passed away, but she was in many of the pictures, and they talked about what Mama said or what Mama did.

And then her dad said this: "pictures are not for now...they are for later."

WOW.

Because, you know, even if you are at an event, you don't see EVERYTHING that is going on.

And sometimes memories are lost...and people die...and OH HOW YOU WISH YOU HAD THOSE PICTURES.

Capture your memories...for later!

Today, we are choosing JOY.

"...just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive." Colossians 3:13

Monday, July 21, 2014

Baseball and Tradition: A Link From My Sister

I have two younger sisters, and one younger brother. I love them. Each of them is smart and talented and fun.

My sister, Leanne, is a great writer. She is passionate about many things: her children, her children's education and Arlington Public Schools, Disney....and Texas Rangers Baseball.

She wrote this great post the other day on the tradition in baseball. I'd love for you to read it.

"Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me." Psalm 103:2

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Wild Friday Night

In other news, my hummingbirds are still fighting.

We had a great day on Friday. Jim was off and he "hanged around" (Joshua's words) the house and worked hard in the yard. I took Joshua to get a hair-cut and did laundry.

Real glamorous stuff.

The weather here has been so nice. Arkansas is sometimes called, "Arkansauna" because it's the "weather you can wear."

Oh the humidity! 

But we had several days last week that were nothing short of AWESOME!

Around lunch, Holly called to say she had made it home from nursing school, and was coming over. She had had her IV check-off earlier and she passed! She got "flashback" on the first try, which, apparently is a huge deal and she was so happy!

Just letting you know that if anyone needs shots, IVs, catheters or a sponge bath...she's available.

Just kidding.

My father-in-law has offered her a full-time-job as soon as she graduates from nursing school. He wants her to take care of all of his medical needs, and basically be at his beck and call. He told her, "can't pay you no money, but you can live and eat here for free."

He's only half-way kidding.

Anyway, after Clark got home from work, we started talking about what to have for dinner. Jim said he "wanted something different," but not Chinese, Italian or Mexican.

WHAT?

So, I suggested IHOP and he said, "well, that IS different." Aaron came over when he got in from work, and we all went there to eat. It was not crowded, and our IHOP was a great place to people watch on a Friday night.

Just sayin' and I'll leave it at THAT.

And then we came home. Jim, Joshua and Aaron sat outside and talked...and played with the dogs. Holly got out her notebooks and sat at the kitchen table, writing notes for her test this week. Clark and Faith decided to paint some picture frames that she's gonna use in her new dorm room this year. They lined up the frames and newspaper and paint on the bar in the kitchen.

I stood in the kitchen and I was just so happy. Holly looked over at me and said, "I know, Mom...I know."

Because, I love my family. I love that we actually LIKE being with each other. I love that we can all be in the same house...and find different things to do.

Or do nothing at all.

I missed Logan and Morgan being there so much.

Just really feeling thankful on this night.

"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God the Father..." James 1:17

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Joshua: Red Flags

Joshua had an eventful week at Therapeutic Recreation (TR). They only met on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Sherrie, the director of the TR program...told all the FRIENDS that she was leaving, and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Oh, wait...that was me.

Actually, she said she was going back down to part-time, and Mrs. Alanna, who has been there a couple of years already, was going to take her full-time job.

Mrs. Sherrie had given all the parents the heads-up the week before so we knew. She has been through a lot this past year...a divorce, followed by the unexpected death of her mom. All of it rocked her world, and really shook up her family. She made the selfless decision to change her position at TR, in order to move home to take care of her dad and her sister. She really is the glue in her family.

I was prepared for Joshua to freak. When he gets bad news, he typically makes himself physically ill...what with the worry and all. I was really concerned, because Clark was picking him up on Wednesday, instead of me. I sent him a text to make him aware.

But, Joshua handled it GREAT. I couldn't believe it. I let Joshua tell me all about it when he got home. He was a little sad, but they all know (and love) Mrs. Alanna, so the transition won't be a big deal. And, the biggest surprise...Joshua is convinced that Mrs. Sherrie will be back. He said, "she will get her family all situated, and she will be back. I know it."

Truth is...he's probably right.

The other thing that happened this week was when Joshua got up on Tuesday morning, he was complaining that his left shoulder and arm were hurting. Like, down his left arm.

You need to know that Joshua rarely complains about ANYTHING health-related. He has a high tolerance for pain, so if he says something is bothering him...it's probably pretty uncomfortable. To say the least.

The first thing I thought of when he told me was...his heart.

When Joshua was 3 1/2 months old, he had heart surgery to repair a defect he was born with. He had two holes in his heart: one that was supposed to close at birth (we all have this)...and then a larger one that was between two chambers. And, there was just one valve. The surgeons not only had to patch the hole, they had to split the already very tiny valve into two valves...one for each chamber.

That was back in 1986.

Joshua goes to the cardiologist at Arkansas' Children's Hospital every 3-4 years for a check-up...and there's never been one problem that has shown up. He still has a murmur, but it's slight.

Every time we go, I hold my breath and try to mentally prepare myself for the doctor to say that more heart surgery is required. They told us back in the beginning that this could be a possibility one day.

So, Tuesday, on my drive, I start praying about it...and I mentally argue with myself all the way to Little Rock. I debated on whether to even take Joshua to TR. I was trying to ask him questions without him thinking I was worried, and without making too big of a deal about it to him. The FRIENDS all love them some drama, so I knew that if I even hinted that I thought there was something wrong...well, he would worry, and he would tell the FRIENDS that he wasn't feeling well...and then they would probably all be crying about it in an hour.

I thought maybe he had hurt it working out...that's what he said at first. But this was Tuesday, and he and Jim went to the gym on Sunday, and he's been fine for 2 days. He also said that it started hurting in the night, and he used the words, "my arm went numb."

In the end, I took Joshua to TR and let him stay. I did not say anything to Ms. Sherrie, but I did text Clark and asked him to keep an eye on Joshua at the pool. They swim on Tuesdays, and the kid group Clark works with is there at the same time as Joshua's adult group. I prayed all the way home and most of the day.

There are just so many things that can happen to kids and adults with Down Syndrome...health-wise. And things can go downhill FAST. They can't always articulate how they are feeling and what is going on...until it's too late. And then sometimes there are things that just can't be helped. Their life-span is not like yours and mine. Anytime he does anything out of the ordinary, it's a red flag.

For example, he is typically up at the crack of dawn. He goes to bed early, and he gets up early. Like clock-work. There have been rare occasions when it's 8 or 8:30 in the morning...and he hasn't been down to eat breakfast. I will go to the bottom of the stairs and listen. If I don't hear him stirring around, my heart immediately starts racing and my hands get all clammy. I fight the urge to panic. I don't want to climb the stairs and check on him.

I just don't know what I will find.

Crazy, huh? But things like this have happened with FRIENDS that we know, so it's a part of our lives...this watching and knowing.

Anyway, Clark had had a really bad stinger in football a couple of years ago, and had extensive therapy for months. So, at the pool on Tuesday, Clark "did some tests" on Joshua to figure out range of motion and pain...when it hurt and when it didn't. DR. CLARK came to the conclusion that Joshua had slept wrong or something. He showed Joshua some exercises and stretching he could do, and used the words, "water work-out," and Joshua was all over it. The boy loves anything health- or fitness-related.

I also figured out that Joshua didn't really understand the word, "numb." Which is what I kind of thought was the case. I said, "if your arm was numb, then you couldn't feel it...or couldn't use it?" He said, "no...it was just really sore."

It's better now. We think he did strain it in some way without realizing it.

I'm just so thankful for every day with Joshua. Jim and I, we feel so blessed to parent him, and have him in our lives. He brings immeasurable joy to our family. This watching and knowing that I talk about...I think it keeps us all aware of how precious life is, and we just don't want to take our time for granted. I like to keep things light here on the blog (and in life), but there have been some hard, sad and scary days...y'all know that, right? I usually just post the funny stuff with Joshua, because that's the way I am. I try to find the good and the funny in situations, because I don't want to focus on the sad.

And, right now, we are in what I'm calling the "years of blessing," and things are good and fun and we laugh a LOT. I just feel like we will face more hard days as Joshua ages. Not today, hopefully, but we just never know. Just like we just never know about our own lives...when they will end.

We don't know what the future holds with Joshua. We do know the One Who holds his future, and ours.

And, as much as I don't want to think of a day without Joshua in it, I know that God loves him more than we ever could, and that He wants the best for him.

"Better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere..." Psalm 84:10