Category Archives: Life

Going for a ride…

  Yesterday I went for a ride.. It was beautiful and peaceful… The wind was blowing gently. The sun would disappear for a time behind fluffy clouds just to reappear a short while later.

Absolutely peaceful… but it wasn’t perfect.

I watched my special needs son.. frustrated with our slow pace… paddle far ahead. My sister in law had a tough time keeping her adventurous daughter in the boat. My nephew grew tired of paddling and we made mid-water “passenger change-overs”.

Not to mention, if you went too close to the shore the bugs would swarm you.. ghastly mosquitoes and biting flies….

But as I floated through the flooded path between the lakes .. the path we would have had to carry our boats along if the water level wasn’t quite so high… As I floated along I looked at all the little paths among the trees that I would love to explore… How fun it would be to weave in and out of the trees and under the low branches..

The writer in me?IMG_4309

Well I could feel a story lay somewhere in those trees…

But the water was murky.. and I didn’t really know what I would be getting into.. the last thing I wanted was to get in an iffy situation .. one where I would have to ask for help getting out of.

And I was fairly certain I would be swarmed with bugs. Am I afraid of bugs? No… they aren’t pleasant.. but I am not afraid. So why would I avoid them? If there were unpleasant, small buzzing sounds flying in your ears, mouth and in your eyes.. would you want to continue?

Reading the news lately has made me want to retreat more and more from the media. The more I listen to the News ridicule good people and cheer on confused ones? The more I want to get out my kayak and just go for a ride.

Honestly… if I did that?  I would always be in my kayak….

I am not perfect. I would never tell you I was.

In the middle of walking my son through an hour long dip of serotonin.. and rising of adrenaline… an hour of such paralyzing frustration … an hour of him yelling his phrases while clutching my arm.. an hour of him physically and mentally needing me to walk him through his coping mechanisms so that he won’t hurt himself… an hour that seems to stretch into eternity while his body re-balances itself…

… in the middle of this hour of intense “helping”? Yup… I sometimes wish I was somewhere else.. writing.. reading.. yeah, I’d even rather be doing the dishes…

.. I stick it out until I see my son resurface from under those confused emotions… and when I see his confidence return I know it was worth it… but as any parent of a child with special needs will tell you.. it is not easy..

No.. I am not perfect.. I struggle with my failing every day… and then I try to forgive myself for these failings.. but it is hard.

My family isn’t perfect either .. they are amazing and loving … but not even close to perfect. I love them ALL because of it.

2 parents, 5 brothers, 1 sister…

…Grandparents, aunts and uncles too large to really count…

1 husband, 2 biological children, 2 borrowed daughters…

2 parent in laws, 1 brother in law,  6 sister in laws..

… 7 nephews and 10 nieces…

… and soooooo many cousins….

… Ha.. I have even adopted a few  honorary sisters into my life..

Not one of them perfect… not one would say they are…

… when they mess up? I find it easy to forgive them..

Why?

Because this kayak trip through life isn’t perfect.. the wind is sometimes too strong for us (and we falter)… the current is at times to strong (and we long to turn around.. to give up)… the distance is often daunting .. just too far (we doubt we can succeed).. (so sometimes we chose short cuts)… there are hidden obstacles under the water.. sand bars, fallen trees, or even really thick weeds.. all are things that make us want to lash out in frustration…

… and then there is adventure and temptation… floating along a path that is usually blocked by land.. finding a hidden lake.. great adventures…

..life gets to be repetitive… and we humans are weak for our own temptations.. and we think? Why shouldn’t we be happy? Why shouldn’t we do what we want?

.. but if MY adventures could put OTHERS in harms way? Those are THEN temptations… When choosing a freedom.. or acting on a “dream”… hurts your children? Those are paths better left unexplored…

When I mess up … and I frequently do…Whether they are small in my mind or large… I have to ask for forgiveness from God.. and from others..

I want them to forgive me..

..so in return? It’s easy for me to forgive them… (Even if I need to walk away.. and go for a ride first…)

What about the bugs? I know that is what you are thinking… why mention the blood sucking and biting flies… if I wasn’t going to connect them to my story?

That horrid buzzing sound of flies is the sound of the Media… the gossiping… the false reports… the rumors… the people who are unable to forgive themselves for past sins (so they can’t forgive the sins of a young teenage boy who has paid for his crimes)…

… I try to stay away from the edge of the lake…

Why?

When this is my world and I should care what is going on in it? Why don’t I listen?

MY World.. is the world God placed around me… my family.. my extended family… my community.. They are the piece of the world that God entrusted to me..

What about those who don’t have a community who will surround them? Those with out people to love them and support them?

Well? Then I invite them to Michigan to be a part of my world.

As for gossiping and judging people?

Jesus told us himself…

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 7:1-3 NIV

I could write a whole book on what this verse means to the world TODAY.. because it isn’t up for interpretation… But God doesn’t intend for me to show the whole world.. He intends for me to show MY piece of the world! He asks me to show them by living it..

So.. while I CAN see when others sin… I can see how that sin hurts others.. but I will not judge them. I will not teach my children to judge them.. but I will teach them to pray for others. How? I will show them how I forgive and pray for those around me… I will show my kids by forgiving them when they disobey and praying for them everyday..

.. and I step in where God asks me to… in my part of the world…

.. but at the same time? I will not judge others for their weaknesses…

So when I am frustrated by social media and the gossiping… and mostly the unforgiveness in our country today… I will go for a ride.. Taking care to steer clear from the edge of the lake… away from the buzzing and the biting…

..but I do pray for forgiveness for the media… and possibly a change of heart for some… because I believe it possible in all those who want to change… and just like the smile my son gives when he comes through a rough spell…

… it will be worth it…

.. but mostly? Mostly I will just focus on the world God has assigned to me… which is extensive… and includes small communities in other countries…

.. and maybe?

Well maybe I will write a few stories about forgiveness too…

A rainbow…

 Growing up, I had a brother who lived next door. He wasn’t actually related to me.. but my heart adopted him as a brother just the same.

With 5 brothers of my own.. and a sister…? Some would ask why I would want to adopt another one. Others explain to me that you can’t just adopt new siblings.. like puppies…

.. but adopt him I did … Him and his older sister were almost as much a part of our family .. as the siblings who lived with me. We laughed together.. we argued… we planned elaborate schemes… we succeeded .. and sometimes we failed. And at times? At times we all got in trouble together.

This brother next door? Terry… He was best friends with my older brother Paul. Where ever Paul and Terry went? Well .. I was never far behind. Me and my moppy head of curls.. often in a dress… would trail behind the boys waiting for whatever mischief they could find. I never had to wait long..

Surprisingly? They never seemed to tire of waiting for me to catch up. They never rolled their eyes at having to nail steps into a tree for me to get into the tree house. They never forgot to warn me to stand clear of danger.. or swarming bee hives.

These 2 boys were my first friends.

When my brother Paul enlisted in the Navy.. it left me and Terry to finish out our Senior year alone. I sure did miss my brother that year.. but it’s the year I got to know Terry the best.

And MAN did we argue that year.. We debated whether Mail Order brides would have worked.. OK.. I debated.. Terry flat refused to believe that anything less than true love in a marriage would succeed… We argued about my boyfriends.. and his girlfriends.. We argued about the best season to visit the beach.. and once we even argued about arguing…

Occasionally I would frustrate him so bad?? He would clamp his mouth shut and walk out the door…

..but he would still pick me up for school the next day… without fail.

 But all the while we were arguing.. I got to know Terry really well.  I knew he wanted to SAVE the world… so he planned on enlisting in the Navy with my brother. I learned more about his “actual” siblings… I saw that he would give away his last dollar.. and even his shirt if he needed to. He loved country music… He loved “hero” movies.. especially Steven Seagal ones. He loved his truck… His family was so very important to him…

… and he wanted to find true love…

Well after graduation .. we parted ways. He enlisted in the Navy and I didn’t hear much from him for years. He was off keeping the world safe… having adventures…

10 years later.. he started calling me when he was home. Especially when he was upset. He would tell me how proud he was of his kids.. and how he still wanted a love that would make him happy.

Eventually he found that love…

He had a couple years with her… Those years made him so happy… His smile practically jumped out of the photos I would see. And he adopted more kids .. (We are very alike in that way..)

Those years made me so happy for him…

I never actually saw Terry again after graduation. I heard his voice so many times… but I never got to see his face in person.. It just never worked out..

… and I will have to wait a while longer it seems…

You see? Terry was in a car accident last week… and God called him home.

Today I sat in church and listened to my brother’s voice shake as he stood in front of everyone… Talking about his friend… sharing about how they had finally reconnected after all those years of going in different directions because of the Navy. I admired how strong Paul was to stand up and share his story.

I am not that brave.. I am not a great speaker.. I have to let my words flow through my fingers…

.. but I loved my adopted brother just the same…

I know that Everything will be Beautiful in its time… and in Time we will see why Terry was taken from this Earth so early… and it will be Beautiful..

…but I have still shed a few (ok.. more than a few) selfish tears.. because I will miss him…

… but I am so glad Terry was put in my life… God knew I needed a good friend.. a faithful and stead fast friend for those frustrating teen years… and I will gladly shed these tears and feel this heartache in exchange for all those wonderful memories…

.. and his smile will always shine through my tears… because he hated anyone to be unhappy… Making it his goal to make people smile..

.. so I will smile for him… and I will see him again soon…

Love you Terry…

It’s a Spring thing… understand?!?

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I have a son who has special needs… He has autism with a touch of bipolar. As a parent? That can be tough on a day to day basis.. or it can be easy.. depending on the day… and Honestly? Honestly it depends on the season. Summer is the easiest for us…  .. but Please don’t think my son is the norm for all kids with Autism… 

There is a very accurate statement out there.

If you know one person with Autism? Then .. you know ONE person with Autism.. 

Every child with Autism is an individual.. every child with Autism has their challenges.. every child with Autism has their super powers…. Every child with or without Autism.. is a child… first and foremost.

But in our little crazy household? 

Summer time is the easy season to parent. So much to do.. free time to explore. 

Fall and Winter come with their mood challenges… 

But Spring?

Spring is a challenging time for our family… The longer days… the warmer temps… the increased activities… These all increase the serotonin levels flowing through all of our veins… but for a child with a mood disorder? It wrecks havoc on the delicate balance in the system.  For us it means increased happiness.. increased agitation.. increased activity.. increased anxiety.. increased frustration… increased laughter.. increased tears.. and sometimes… increased aggression.

I say sometimes…

There were years that all I could remember was the aggression.. because it is devastating… Can you imagine anything more devastating than your child hurting another person? Can you imagine anything more devastating than your child feeling so “in danger” that they lash out to protect themselves? Can you imagine anything more devastating than your child feeling so OUT of CONTROL that they punch themselves in the head to relieve the “pressure”?

All of these things threaten to overwhelm me in the Spring…

But I am Blessed… My husband has always provided a stable platform for me and our two children. Because of this, I have been able to have careers flexible enough to care for our son. Flexible enough that I can be home for him when this Spring thing happens.

With my husband’s support.. constant prayer … and the wonderful people God has placed in my son’s life?? We survive every spring.. Every year we grow a little stronger and mature (my son and I both)…

My son has grown so much.. in fact… that this spring? When the flowers bloomed.. I was able to do some things I enjoy in the spring.. Like taking walks and reading books… and sewing prom dresses.

So someday soon… I hope to rewrite this spring thing…

Control…

...taken by Kristina Olmsted..

Sometimes?

Sometimes I make plans… Oh can I make some detailed plans... Plans to be productive.. plans to be helpful… Plans to organize my plans…

And then?

And then God shows me that it is not MY will … But HIS that I should follow…

When I don't listen to what God's Will is.. things tend to go wrong. Just little things.. but there are enough "little" things that I have to deal with? That I start to feel like a salmon … fighting against the current to swim upstream. When I continue to fight against the current… YUP… I feel stressed and exasperated! You probably know the feeling…

When I tried working at the preschool my kids attended? I was good at my job.. and I enjoyed it! I REALLY enjoyed it. But I fought my kids to go to school every day.. with a child on the Autism Spectrum.. with a side of Bipolar? Fighting them to do something that stresses them? It doesn't really work out very well. I kept having to go pick him up from school because he was overwhelmed. He was stressed.. I was stressed.. my neighbor who was putting him on the bus was stressed…

…and then?

Then one November? My kids were sick… the whole month. I missed a WHOLE month of work.. A runny nose here.. a sore throat there.. a cough… a wheeze… a fever… some bronchitis…

sigh…. and then I sat still and listened…

You see .. MY plan was not what God had in store for me. It took me 3 years to figure that out.. yes I said 3 YEARS.. I am stubborn and persistent. Once I decided to listen to the Still small voice of God.. I realized what He was telling me. HIS plan for me was not at that preschool that I loved… and I wasn't listening…

So at the end of the year I resigned… and I stayed home for the next 6 years. And God? God sent me family after family who needed in home care for their kiddos. I never had a shortage of work.. and I never felt like I was swimming upstream… Now it was challenging and was hard work.. don't get me wrong… but I never felt like I was fighting against every element to make it work…

With that slight change in will-power? I had turned it around, swimming in the direction God was trying to lead me… and BAM.. I was back in control..

Except control is an illusion… I never really had control in the first place….

50 firsts…

Someone once asked me what it was like to live with special needs.. Not just special needs really.. But with Autism (and a side of bipolar).. At the time I couldn’t really answer..

I mean.. With autism you know what you get.. Overload.. Anxiety.. Obsession.. meltdowns..

But add Bipolar? Then you add unpredictability.. When you get home? You don’t know if you have a child with a good mood or anger.. Or tears. When your son comes out of his room? You don’t know if you will have cooperation or frustration..

Honestly?

Honestly I can’t tell you if I will see my Son.. his autism.. OR his bipolar… from one minute to the next .. Especially in the spring months..

So to the question? I simply said, “It’s a roller coaster ride.. But it’s worth it.”

And that IS the truth ..

Tonight I watched a movie with my girls called “50 first dates”.. It was really cute .. a little crude in places (yes I am very old-fashioned.. I don’t like crude jokes).. But still cute.. And worth the watch..

For anyone not familiar.. 50 first dates is about a young lady who is in an accident that results in a brain injury. Because of the injury, she cannot create new memories .. So everyday her dad and brother recreate the last day she remembers. Over and over and over again.. When she meets a new guy, he has to help her fall in love with him over and over again.. every day.. Like EVERY day.. Eventually they develop a system.. They create a video of flashbacks since the accident.. Events.. Dates.. And eventually their wedding… And the young lady writes her thoughts in a journal.. A list of things she doesn’t want to forget.. Important things ..

Then she goes to sleep and wakes up refreshed.. And starts each day over again.. Remembering nothing .. Then she watches the video and reads her notes .. EVERY day ..

At the end of the movie? When we saw that she had to be reminded of her child that she couldn’t remember. As the credits began to roll, my daughter said.. “What a terrible way to live”..

But what if she never progressed beyond that accident.. What if she never stopped living that day over and over? What if she never lived ANYTHING NEW beyond that day?

That would be terrible indeed..

But to have flashback videos and hand written notes every morning.. To catch her up to ? To remind her she is married? To remind her she has a baby?

To be living that married life?

To be a mom?

That is being Blessed!

Being a mom to a young man with autism? Living with a loved one with Bipolar? It is very similar to “50 firsts”..

Every morning I wake up.. And I watch a flash back of important moments in our lives.. Important break throughs.. Flash through my mind.. Every day while I drink my chai? I read through the notes I have made through the years.. Only the important ones..

And then I set forth!

I set forth to make new Memories.. New important events.. I deal with each event as they occur.. Living in the moment! Never bringing the past into play.. Not remembering the mistakes from the day before. Unlike the movie? These choices are voluntary.. To choose to forget the bad.. to forget the mistakes..

THEN? Then I record those moments in my mind.. Sometimes I even write important information down..

Some days are good.. And just like movie? Yup.. Some days are a disaster.

And just like the movie? Sometimes the days are so bad that I cry myself to sleep at night ..

Then every night ? I sleep and the stress washes away. I wake up each new day ready to conquer some new activities.. With my flash backs and handwritten notes.

And we celebrate every “first” that comes along.. His first 2 word sentence at 5, his first full night sleep at 6.. His first solo cooked meal.. His first time walking to class on his own..  The first test taken by himself.. The first time he stayed home alone..

Ok.. You are right! There are WAY more than 50 “firsts” in our life.  But we celebrate each one…

I know that some people look at my son’s life .. At MY life.. and they think, “What a terrible way to live”..

But to me?

To me a world without my son in it? A world without 50 OR 100 “firsts” being celebrated?

What a terrible way to live…

at day break… 

.. when the sun rose..

I woke early today. Before the sun rose over the horizon. Fog clung to the Earth with a chill in the air. If you looked closely through the fog, you could see deer moving slowly and quietly through my backyard.. Eating treats where they can find them. With spring, my backyard is coming to life.. so the deer stopped often.. If you didn’t watch closely, you would miss the movement at all.

As I drink my chai, I find myself thinking.. Did Mary, mother of Jesus, look out her window 2000 years ago and see a quiet foggy morning? Did she wonder what would happen that day? Did she wonder why Nature seemed so calm when her life seemed to be falling apart? Did she wonder why God didn’t send a terrible storm? Full of fury and winds?

I have a long list of things I would like to get done today. Mostly getting prepared for the fun family celebrations this weekend… But it is definitely work.. and I would rather sit here.. blending into the still world around me.

The still world around me?

Being still this morning? It made me stop and remember.. Remember that right about now? Right about now Jesus would have been in pain and bleeding.. Jesus would have been exhausted.. And marching with a heavy cross upon his back.. Moving forward as fast as His earthly body would let him…

Yet Jesus never complained.. He never tried to get out of His duty.. Jesus knew what God was asking of Him.. He knew He was about to die to save us all from an eternity in Hell.. Yet when Pilate told Jesus that he could set Him free.. Jesus didn’t jump at the chance.. He simply answered…

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (‭John‬ ‭19‬:‭11a NIV)

In other words.. Everyone on Earth is only given the power which God has allowed them… and Jesus knew that He was sitting in Pilate’s office that day because it was God’s Will that it should be so..

So what did Jesus do?

He politely refused Pilate’s help.. He accepted God’s plan for Him.. He picked up His cross and Jesus set off to do God’s Work.

I am tired today. I fill my days with volunteering.. and parenting. I squeeze in doctor’s appointments and cleaning the house. I have chicks to care for, chickens to feed and laundry to wash. This week I have also had friends who needed support, children who needed to be listened to, people who needed prayer and meetings to attend. Not to mention fighting off a virus.

I literally had no time to write this week.

So today? YUP.. today I am tired.

But when I think about Jesus on Good Friday? Think about Jesus on the hardest day of “work” in His short life?

I think I will politely refuse Pilate’s offer to set me free from my tasks. And with this last sip of chai, I will hoist my cross.. my heavy tasks.. up on my back and set off to do God’s Will…

…because my day will be nothing like Jesus’s Good Friday… but it is what God has asked me to do….

Have a Blessed Good Friday…

My poor cup..

My cup runneth over…

I always tell people that you can’t write about life .. if you aren’t out there living it. So I am out there.. living life. But life isn’t just exploring, meeting new people, learning, having a good time, and laughing. Sometimes it is fixing things, moving households, comforting loved ones and saying good-bye. But I wouldn’t give up the “good” living to avoid the “sad”.

In fact… If my life was a cup? It would overflow frequently with all sorts of emotions.. all sorts of activities.. all forms of life…

For the last couple months, my cup has indeed been very full. My “living” consisted of hard work and a busy schedule as we prepared to perform Seussical the Musical at our High School.. During this time, my daughter found that Dr. Seuss must have agreed with our family’s philosophy.. because she found this among his many famous quotes…

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”  Dr. Seuss

But sometimes I cram too much living into a small amount of time.. Or Life comes crashing into my schedule and overwhelms it. This month? My cup was definitely running over with Life. As much as I tried to stay organized.. YES you guessed it.. IF you came to my house during the Seussical shows, you would have found piles.. Sewing piles.. laundry piles.. paperwork piles… Chaos! All organized chaos.. but chaos just the same.

As Christians, we constantly tell ourselves and remind others that God only gives us what we can handle. Sometimes we wear it like a badge.. sometimes I use it as a cattle prod.. (to get myself out of good book… Or out of bed… or to leave that glorious sunshine.. to get back to work)… but sometimes I think we get stuck on “accepting” God’s Will for us.. Kind of like a “stop your whining” reminder.. I find myself forgetting that God sent a model for us when our Life Cup floweth over.

God sent us Jesus to model for us what He expects… When Jesus was not looking forward to the hard work that His Father had set before Him? Jesus was overwhelmed!! Jesus knelt in prayer and cried out to His Heavenly Father…

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 NIV

This was not Jesus whining about hard work.. or whining because He knew He was about to die for our sins. No. This was Jesus being overwhelmed with the task before Him. What does this mean? This means that God says He will understand if we need to tell Him we are overwhelmed. God is giving us PERMISSION to ASK if a task can be taken away. We can ASK if He will heal a loved one.. we can ASK if He can change the Path before us.. The answer might be “No”… but it is okay to ask..

Then God shows us that He expects us to accept his Will.. accept his decision in all things. “Your will, not mine.”

God ALSO shows us through His Son that He doesn’t expect us to be strong all the time.. He expects us to fall apart when our cup runneth over with Life.. Then we have to rise.. brush off our knees.. and get back to Living.. 

 How? You ask. How do we know for sure?

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Jesus wept when He found that He was too late and His friend had died.. Jesus was so overwhelmed.. His cup of emotions ran right over the top… And He gave into His tears. 

This week should have been a relaxing week for me.. Our production was over.. the set cleared away… the stage clean.. Yet my calendar filled to the absolute brim.. My Life Cup filled with Activities.. Good activities… fun activities.. but definitely too many.

And then my mom called.

It seems that God called one of His children home to Him this week. While my uncle was in India.. visiting his grandson.. he had a heart attack and passed away. Now.. I imagine my uncle was one of God’s favorite children… Because he is an amazing man.. and I can imagine God couldn’t possibly wait any longer to call him home…

but still…

..still… My Uncle will be greatly missed until we see him again in Heaven.. I can see my uncle standing at the pearly gates.. inviting me in with that Great Smile of his… inviting me to stay at his mansion until mine is ready to go.. and especially offering to help me explore those streets of gold.. 

 But today? 

Today I think God will understand if my cup runneth over.. and I think God will understand if I ask that my aunt and my cousins have their cup of sadness taken from their lips… I think He’ll understand if I ask Him to pour some of those emotions into my cup.. as full as it is.. so that I might share this heavy task with them.

..but as always.. it is His will.. and not mine..

The small stuff…

In my life I ALWAYS celebrate the small stuff.. I make little goals and update them often.. When my son said his first 2 word “sentence” at 5 years old ? We celebrated.. Then I set my goal to using a “sentence” every day. When my daughter read her first book solo.. at 5 years? We celebrated… then we set our goal to reading a book (solo) everyday.  When my son told me he was mad .. Instead of melting down? YUP!! We celebrated! (I admit my son looked confused when his mom laughed and hugged him for saying “I’m mad at you.”) We celebrated and then talked about what made him mad.

When my daughter stood up to the bully who had pestered her for years..? Ok.. that was a BIG thing.. but still we celebrated.

Big goals sometimes take too long to accomplish.. and admit it.. If goals are too hard, sometimes we give up.  So by keeping my goals small? My milestones achievable? Yup.. I tend to celebrate a lot.

Which is healthy…at least I think it is…

As an author, I celebrate each milestone too.. especially with book selling! Yesterday Shadows broke through the ranking of 100k on amazon’s best selling ranking. Doesn’t sound that great really, lol. I know.. I know.. it sounds like Shadows is barely floating. But to me it is a small goal. Ranked #100,000 out of a million books? It’s the top 10%.. To me that’s great..

SOO.. Yesterday I celebrated reaching my milestone…

Today? Today I set my next goal to keep my ranking up to 100k..

What am I celebrating today?

Today I am celebrating that I am only 16 “likes” away from 200 followers on my facebook page.. Once I meet that? Yup.. keep aiming higher…. one teeny tiny step at a time..

I love celebrating the small stuff..

Interesting in checking out Shadows? Here is my Amazon link.. and where you can get a free sample. 

Faith like a child

Warrior child...
Warrior child…

One of my nephews is 3 years old.. Bright blue eyes, amazing smile.. Generous heart and so funny. And he has a tumor behind his right eye. It’s not cancerous. So, although it is scary for us (his family), it isn’t really life threatening. But he still has to endure chemotherapy treatments for 18 months. Treatments that could save his optic nerve from further damage.

6 months into chemotherapy treatments..? I have learned a great deal from watching this boy and his parents. You see this boy..? This little warrior? He has to do a great many things that are hard.. Hard and painful.. And sometimes just not fun. But he does them. He gets cranky, tired and restless … But he does them…

This little warrior accepts what he has to do .. And just does it..

Why?!?

Because his daddy and mommy tell him that this is the way to keep his eyesight.. And although it is hard (for all of them) they have to do it because they love him.

And through eye exams, MRI’s, chemo port installation, long doctor visits, hospitalizations, painful port accesses… I have seen tears in their eyes more than once. But they keep on moving forward .. Having faith that everything will be beautiful in its time.

Why does this boy just accept all this as necessary?

Because his parents told him that this is the way it has to be. That in the end? In the end being able to see .. will be beautiful.

Does that mean he never asks “why?”

No.

Does that mean he never cries?

No.

Does that mean he never states he doesn’t want to go for more tests?

No.

But he still does.

Jesus tells us that he wants us to have faith like a child.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭17‬ NIV)

I didn’t understand that verse clearly until this year. I didn’t understand it until I watched the faith this child .. This little warrior ..has in his parents.

You see my nephew trusts that his parents know what is best for him. He trusts that this is the best plan because they told him it was. And no matter how much he doesn’t enjoy it, he trusts that his parents know that everything will be perfect in the end.

Is my faith like this child?

Ha.. I wish it was.. I want it to be..

But sometimes my heart cries out “why Father?” Why does my son have to struggle so? Why does my nephew have to suffer these treatments? Why do things happen that make me sad? Why?

Then? Then I always pray that God will take my doubts from me.. Take them so that I can just move forward and know that everything will be good in the end.. So that I can trust that my Heavenly Father knows this is the only way. That my Father knows everything will be Beautiful in the end.

Only when those doubts are replaced by total trust.. Only then will I have faith like a child.

THAT is what I have learned from watching my little warrior.

Don’t go in there..

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My adrenaline was pumping (pretty healthily, I may add) this morning as I drove along the snow covered roads. A couple of the drifted areas were enough to make me hold my breath. By the time I arrived at my kids’ school to drop them off, I was exhausted.

That first snowy drive of the season is always the worst… but after today? After today I will be used to it… Slow and steady will get me there… Slow and steady will keep us safe.

Snowy roads are NOT the roads I dread though.

Nope..

The road conditions I wish I could avoid completely would be fog.

Fog? you ask. (I saw you raise your eyebrow)..

Yes fog!!!

You see snow covered roads make you prepare for battle… You know to leave early… you know to drive slower… no sudden steering changes… no sudden stopping… You basically leave the house with a complete manual on how to win against the snowy road conditions. And?!? And you can see where you are going.. what you are up against.

But with fog?

Yes fog is beautiful!  It is so neat to be able to walk “among the clouds”.. while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground. It is so cool to run your hands through the heavenly clouds and see what the “heavens” feels like.  You look out the window and those clouds, from the heavens above, give the world around you an unearthly look and feel. It’s eerie and spooky.. but still kind of cool.

But that isn’t why I don’t like to drive in fog… it’s not that it creeps me out.

When you drive in the snow.. you at least have partial visibility of what you are up against. You can be prepared.

With fog?

With fog you have nothing. You don’t leave the driveway with a game plan, a battle manual…

You have no idea what is up ahead… so how can you prepare? Sometimes I pause at the end of my driveway.. take a deep breath… and breathe a prayer to God that I am putting our lives .. and my car in His capable hands. Because to me? To me.. driving in Fog is the ultimate leap of Faith.

It is the ultimate reminder that we are not the ones in control.

Everything can change in the blink of an eye..

Then?!? Then prepared to drive by Faith… I pull my car onto the fog enclosed road.

You know that part in a suspense movie?!? The part where the kids are looking for their lost friend and they know the answer lays down that foggy path to the creepy house? And you are yelling at them NOT TO GO IN THERE.. but still they tiptoe forward.. Tiptoeing in hopes to sneak past any danger.. tiptoeing because their brains are telling them the same thing.. whispering “don’t go in there”, over the loud pounding heartbeats.. Tiptoeing because they don’t want to go down that road at all…

That is what I feel like starting down that foggy road.. “Let’s not do this,” my heart whispers.. “who knows what we will encounter?” and then “what if we aren’t prepared? Maybe we should just stay to home..”

That is where the prayer of Faith comes in…. I simply pray that God takes my doubts away so that I can be prepared to meet what ever curve, puddle, branch, stop or deer God has chosen to be in my path. To not be so wrapped up in the “What if’s” that my mind will be clear for the actually obstacles as they appear through the fog.

A prayer for clear headed faith.. for a drive in Faith….

Fog covered roads are like our future.. all we can see is what is immediately before us.. like the next 15 mins.

We can take care of those 15 mins.. take care of those immediate needs. But beyond that? Beyond that you are operating on faith. You can apply this concept to anything in your life.

Especially parenting.. As you driving along that foggy road of parenting.. with your children safely buckled in the backseat? Here comes a sharp right hand curve.. SPECIAL NEEDS…  Next comes something blocking your path.. branches, water puddle.. or a cow… and you have to stop and clear the path… EMERGENCY SURGERY… Or a detour sign. A sign pointing away from the easy road ahead and telling you to go down the road less travelled by.. SPECIAL DIETS. Or my personal fear.. a washed away road (a cliff)… When you chose the wrong road and now you have to turn your car around.. like when we chose the wrong Meds to treat my son’s mood disorder.

The marriage road is equally foggy.. you could encounter financial difficulties, parenting struggles.. along with finding old baggage in the road ahead….

On your career path you encounter disinterest, promotions, layoffs, new bosses…

YUP.. When you drive on ANY road through life.. it is exactly like that foggy road… You drive it by Faith. You drive knowing that you are not in control.. only God is.

This year I published a book.

Writing has been my whole life.. publishing a book is the ultimate dream. But when I headed down that publishing road?

You guess it…

When I pulled up to the beginning of that fog covered road to publishing a book? I paused.. (Ok.. really I didn’t just pause.. I put my car in park… I got out and walked around to the front of my car… then I knelt down in fear.. staring out into the eerie white clouds blocking my view.  Like if I stared long enough, God would make a break in the fog and let me see the end of the road. But then I got back in my car…) I took a deep breath (or two..)… and breathed a prayer to God to help me trust Him..  A prayer telling God that I was placing my book into his capable hands to do with as He willed.

Was that easy?

Ahhh.. no…

In theory? In theory every Christian will tell you they trust God to steer their life according to His Will. But it is still hard. I want to plead with God to help my book to sell REALLY WELL because I have a message to tell. I want to argue that I believe that girls need to read stories where there are no Fairy Godmothers to smooth over the edges.. no happily ever afters awaiting in the wings… That girls need to see examples of how relationships and marriage are hard work.. acts of faith.. acts of love.. but are completely worth it..

With the financial commitment and the time commitment of publishing looming in the fog? What if God doesn’t want to use my lifetime’s work RIGHT NOW? Or what if He doesn’t want to use it at all? What if I put my best work forward and it isn’t good enough? These are the fears that all of us face.. The fear of the foggy path… HOW WILL THIS END?

SHOULD I GO IN THERE??

..and your heart full of dread whispering to you.. “Don’t do it. Don’t go down that path… it may not be worth it.”

So why would I do it? Why would I get into my car .. and inch down that foggy road? Driving only by Faith alone?

Because of a promise God made me..

A promise God made to all of us…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This is the promise I have built my world around this year.. The promise that powers my car as I drive down that foggy road.. and it is the promise that I built my book around.

Yes.. Shadows is about Emma’s journey down a foggy road.. a road she travels by Faith… knowing that God has a plan for her.. a plan that she knows NOTHING about.. only that the path will be hard and full of intense emotions and choices… but in the end?  In the end, God’s plan for Emma does not harm her.. it makes her stronger… and it gives her a future. A future full of hope. Not a happily ever after ending! Why? Because there is always another foggy road.. always another walk of Faith..

So if I want my book about taking that first step of Faith.. onto that foggy road.. to succeed??

How can I not take those steps of faith myself?