Friday, October 31, 2014

special



well, blogging didn't make my to-do list yesterday. but i take it as a good sign that it made me sad to miss it! 

recently, i was able to cheer for some incredible special olympians. elijah being my favorite, of course. he participated in the younger age groups, no competition was involved, just fun games and first place ribbons for all. 
it was fun to join in a crowd that went wild with every start signal and absolutely nuts with every finish. there were some truly amazing athletes. i knew none of them, but cheers came naturally. in some special way, it felt like i was watching family compete. 
one high school aged girl ran her race like she was born for it. she was so fast! her form was smooth and precise. she was serious about her run. i was so impressed. even more impressive was her hugging all of her opponents after the race. everyone finished every event. some took ten times longer than others, but they finished. i loved celebrating everyone's accomplishments and efforts. i loved seeing everyone's bright, giddy faces, hearing their shouts of victory and high fiving everyone who came their way. 
more and more i see. 
this community of exceptional individuals and their families, they're something to celebrate.
i'm not an angel for being a special needs mom, i'm the same special sort of person you are. i do have the unique opportunity to see life a little differently every single day. "different" is what i wake up to. "different" is what i'm coming to know as my normal. and i love it. i want to keep seeing the varied design of our creator. he makes no mistake. he intended for differences to be celebrated and cherished. inclusion is wonderful, but sameness is never the goal. i'm thankful for events like special olympics. for me it was a place to get a fresh perspective of how unique we all are. it's a good thing to notice what's different about those around us! i'm becoming more and more comfortable in the special needs community. not because i totally understand everything about everyone, but because i see what we have in common more clearly. we each bear the image of god. and it's beautiful, and that's what makes us all special.

for you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. i praise you, for i am fearfully and wonderfully made. wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. my frame was not hidden from you, when i was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. psalm 139:13-16

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

casting my cares


i've been having a host of physical problems lately. after a few doctor visits and some tests, turns out it's stress and anxiety related. i secretly knew that was the answer. i've always been impressed and a little terrified at the way my mind affects my body. i'm no stranger to the stress and anxiety battle. it's been years since i was on medication, and for now i'm choosing to continue without it. that could change, but i really want to try and change some things in my life first. my doctor said something like "what you need to do is identify the stress in your life and avoid those things". i laughed and replied something like "well, i can't run away from home, can i?"

my home life isn't stressful in a negative/scary way, i think i make it negative by being selfish, but it's just a part of life. marriage, motherhood, child with special needs, paying bills, skinny bank accounts, living in an undesirable apartment, having only one vehicle, constant issues with that one vehicle...it all adds up to me yelling serenity now! every now and then. 
i also can't seem to stop dwelling on things that make me fearful. i dream about my family being hurt, i obsess about my son's future and his day today. is he happy? is he getting enough, are all his needs met? am i enough?

i think something switched in my brain and heart when we moved. moving is stressful, everyone knows that. because i've moved many times, and i expected stress and anxiety, i somehow tricked myself into believing i was managing everything ok. i thought that simply being aware of my feelings was dealing with them. does that make sense?

stress is real, anxiety is real. they're crippling and not things to try and shake off on your own. sometimes there may be a need for help through medication, but even that isn't enough. why is facing these emotions so difficult? until i face them, more than being aware, but really examining their roots, i can't find true peace.

thank the lord, he not only provides the true peace, he helps me on the way there.
scripture is full of "i called to the lord, and he heard my cry" verses like psalm 18:6. that's deeply comforting. sometimes i don't even know what i'm praying, i just call out to him. knowing he hears me, knowing he responds, that peace a signpost to the complete peace to come. the hard part is, accepting that complete peace likely won't come to my heart this side of heaven. i still sin. i still have a broken body. i still have a human mind, bent toward human things. trusting the future hope, eternity with jesus, and being eternally free from myself and my worrying. that's what i cling to. that's what keeps me getting out of bed and loving my family every day. that's what keeps me running to jesus for forgiveness when i trust myself instead of leaning fully on him for everything.

i am sure i will have more stress and anxiety attacks. rather than work hard on trying to avoid them, i want to just rest in jesus and chill the heck out. rely on him. talk to him. listen to him. he is faithful in all things. and while i know he doesn't work my way or in my time, he does work. and he never fails.


*my earlier post today didn't count. i challenged myself to sit for five minutes and write something every day this week.

no tricks, just treats | banana split cake

when i have company or go somewhere requiring i bring a dessert, this is it. this dessert is an especially great treat for summer, since it's no bake, but i'm feeling like you could love it just as well in october. most recently i made it during my beach trip. the grocery store didn't have the cookies i like to use, so i tried chocolate chip cookies for the crust. wasn't a bad choice at all, y'all. the moral of the story is, you can't mess this up.

b a n a n a   s p l i t   c a k e

crust
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers or cookies (i prefer annie's gluten free snickerdoodle bunnies)
1/2 cup melted butter

whipped layer
8 oz block cream cheese
8 oz cool whip

filling
4 bananas, sliced
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
16 oz bin strawberries, sliced

topping
8 oz cool whip
1/2 chopped pecans or walnuts
chocolate syrup
maraschino cherries

assemble
1. lightly grease a 9x13 dish with butter
2. in a bowl, combine cookies/graham cracker and melted butter until all crumbs are evenly coated. press the crumb mixture firmly into your greased dish. place in fridge or freezer to set while you ready the next layers.
3. mix cream cheese and cool whip until smooth, light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes on medium speed. spread whipped mixture evenly over your chilled crust.
4. evenly single-layer your banana slices on top of cream cheese layer, then spread your pineapple layer, next your strawberries.
5. top with cool whip, covering your "cake". garnish with chocolate syrup, nut and cherries.
6. refrigerate for at least three hours, even overnight if you have time. the longer it sits, the better :)

i hope you try it and love it!

and i have one more treat for you. a SHOP SALE!


20% off everything in my jewelry shop with code TREAT

deal ends friday 10/31

happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

livin' on love


i don't remember a time in my childhood saying anything remotely close to "i wanna stay home, mama". like, ever. sorry mom and dad, it's not you, it's me. i had a yearning for adventure, and almost always wanted outside the confines of my home and family. being away was my happy place. 
now, i'm a mama. and let me tell you. this boy of mine is a home body, head to toe. the child prefers home, he craves his own familiar space and all the comfort that cradles him there. thankfully, i'm a huge part of that! "i stay here, mama. stay home and play with you". not much feels better than being your son's number one pick for all things. well, at least until his papa comes home from work. elijah doesn't actually play with me for very long at a time, but it's beautiful and clear, he like me nearby. 

toss kindergarten into the equation.
your result is a cacophonic gnashing of teeth to "stay home!!!" "please help me, i wanna stay here!" "zero school, no more school. ZERO." i can't handle it. if i had my way, i would give in every dang morning, letting him stay home. and probably buy him donuts.

well, why don't i just homeschool?
that's been in the prayer closet for a time now, and the answer for today is no. in my dreams i keep elijah home and teach him all the important and fun things he needs to know. there are many encouraging stories of homeschooling with special needs, and that excites me! but the thing is, we asked for direction about his schooling and the lord gave us peace and a green light for school. and he's going. for now elijah needs more than i can give him at home. that pains me so deeply to say out loud, but it's so true. the structure and intensity of things in the program he's attending now is exactly what he needs today. next year? sixth grade? the lord only knows. and we trust him to lead us every year to the right place, home or not.

i don't love him less because i send him to school, and he doesn't love me more because he prefers to be at home all day. we just love. wherever we are, together or apart, we love each other. need each other. 
we wake up each day, elijah asking for juice and me wondering how is this my life? i love him so much!

i don't feel like i know what i'm doing as a mama. i think alan jackson was singing about marriage, and amen to that, but me and my boy? we're "livin' on love", too. not the feely, fuzzy sort all the time, but a lot of the time, even that. we have a higher, deeper truer than true love in jesus. he knit our family together, he chose me to be elijah's mom. we're livin' on his love for us, and that oozes into our daily for one another. the lord brought us here to this moment and he's ahead of us in the next. i can trust him to help me with decisions and parenting, because i know he delights in our good for his glory. he is the why and the way i love elijah so much. lord, help me love well!


*i challenged myself to sit five minutes and just write something every day this week. this is what came out today :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

back to church (a little update on how we found a place to worship)


it's been well over two years since i talked about our church desert. we lived many months worshiping and hearing the word preached through podcasts and video. in hindsight i wonder if we chose correctly. should we have kept trying to make things work? did we give up trusting the lord to provide? i don't know. i do know, no decisions were made lightly, and not being part of a church body took a toll on us. our hearts, our minds, our relationships. all affected, but not necessarily for the worse. i think we were more intentional with relationships and our personal time in the word, which is great! but not enough.

i believe church is important, and i'm not sharing today to discuss whether or not we need to be connected to a corporate church, worshiping together, growing together. we always have and always will need it.

last summer when the "we need to move" stirrings began, i started researching churches first. my thinking was, if i could find solid churches, i could find a solid community. and we were starving for a complete community, one that includes special needs families and people with exceptional abilities. a fancy special needs ministry wasn't a requirement, but i wanted a church who was at least aware and accepting to families of all needs. in my hunting i found several wonderful churches, and between seven different states and dozens of choices, i found a favorite. i eagerly spoke with staff there about their ministry, about the special needs community there and in the city and was beyond impressed with the knowledge and love that they poured through my phone and email. their wisdom and guidance served as a measuring stick for my search. i truly didn't expect it to become our church home.

well, we moved at the beginning of summer and the in person church search began.

our church that awesome, helpful one i found last year! was number one on our "to visit" list. we never made it anywhere else. the lord wowed us with an almost immediate peace and connection with the people and leadership there. the word is faithfully and powerfully proclaimed and taught. they take seriously the need to really serve in our local area and around the world. we went to a visitor's dinner at the pastor's home, and next thing you know we were enrolled in membership classes. we chose a sunday school small group to join and have loved getting to know them! my favorite thing about this church is how they minister to our family, especially elijah and other adults and kids like him. their program is incredible. i remember weeping at the computer when i read their vision and core beliefs. were they for real? seems much to good to be true, time will tell.

bless the lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! bless the lord, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. psalm 103:1-5

i feel like i'm rambling today, but let me finish with this.
nothing is too good to be true with jesus. i love seeing how he has inspired a body of believers to seek out those in the special needs community, invite them in, care for them, love them, pray for them. seeing and meeting needs, being the hands and feet of jesus.

we feel normal. we finally feel welcome to worship and connect.
not only among other special needs families, but with the typical families. our common thread is christ and his gospel. it's beautiful to me that there are so many people in my circle now who "get" me, because they walk a similar road. as well as others who "get" me, because they're helpless sinners in need of our savior daily, like me. we were desperate for such things, and the lord provided beyond our wildest prayers. we long to be ministered to, as well as to serve a fellowship of believers. god is so good, and he's brought us to a well of sweet water. i'm so excited to see the lord grow our family here in our new city through our new church. praise god from whom all blessings flow!

a little postscript here, i would love to invite any questions you may have. about being a special needs family and finding a church, special needs ministry and the church...i'm not an expert at all, but i am learning and i live daily in the circumstances. i'd love to hear your curiosity, or even what you/your church already do to minister to special needs families and individuals in your area! i'll try to answer in the comments, but may just do a follow up post :)

and one more thing!
our church is hosting the accessible kingdom conference next month, what an opportunity! if you're an individual with special needs, a church leader, teacher, parent, sibling, friend, employer to anyone with special needs, this is for you! we would LOVE to see you there!