Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Story

...to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.  So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3
Over the years, I have shared my story countless times.   Sometimes calling it a testimony, sometimes just having coffee w/ a friend and sharing about my childhood.  Each time it takes on a new flavor as I select which details to exclude, tailoring it for my audience.  Here, I hope to include them all.  I want my story not to glorify the sin and poor choices in my life, not to glorify the suffering, the broken, the ugly, not to glorify anything I have done; rather, I want my story to glorify the One who has redeemed me and all things hard, ugly, broken.  I’m reminded that God is more concerned about who I am becoming than with who I was or what I am doing or what I have done.

Like many Hoosiers, I grew up in a small town and was a farm girl.  Our family is very tight-knit, and I’m a bit of a black sheep for moving one hundred miles away (considering that my siblings are within a ten-mile radius of my parents, you can understand why).  Our church family seemed to overflow into all areas of life: my teachers, coaches, family friends all constituted our church family and ultimately our small-town community.  I felt very safe, loved, and supported as a child.  My earliest memories are full of family vacations, gatherings at my grandparents’ pond, and lots and lots of love and laughter.

Other than normal childhood selfishness and mischievousness, the first time I recall darkness entering my life was at the age of nine.  Our large extended family spent lots of time together, always a favorite childhood memory.  But this time would be different.  This time darkness would creep in and take hold of innocence and begin to leave a bleakness that would mark two decades of struggle.  This time a relative would expose me to pornography and sexual abuse that would follow over the course of the next couple of years.  This time would create in an innocent child confusion, curiosity, and above all, shame. 

This blackness would end up where most of my blackness ended up: shoved, stuffed deep into a corner of my heart and mind, never to be spoken, never to be shared, but allowed to fester and poison a soul.  With it deeply stuffed away, I was able to profess my faith that summer and be baptized and then go about life as a “good Christian girl” over the next decade.  I was an All-American hometown sweetheart, participating in every club imaginable, competing in sports year-round, and serving others out of the “goodness” of my heart.  I even visited residents at nursing homes and led a Bible study for girls five years my junior because I was simply that “good.”   All the while, that blackness still poisoning me with desires and shame.

Desires that I sometimes acted on by accessing pornography on my own or acting out in dating relationships.  Followed always by deep, deep shame.  Followed always by repentance and sorrow and a resolve to do better.

And so college came and went much the same.  A good Christian girl at a good Christian school working at a good Christian camp in the summers: a life devoted to ministry and rule-following and good works. 

And then I graduated. And much of the same.  The long ago stuffed-blackness reared its head, carnal desires waged war, and shame condemned me.  The vicious, never-ending cycle was leading me down a path of destruction.  I hated who I was, and most of all I feared missing what the Lord had for me because of this darkness.

About this time, I had that same conversation with a friend in my small group at church.  How above all, I feared missing God’s plans for my life.  And we both walked away from the conversation knowing something spiritual had just linked our hearts, and within three months we were engaged, married six months later.  And that man.  That man has helped me to unstuff the blackness. To forgive a relative who wronged me.  To ask God to free me from this prison of self-condemnation and hurt and shame.  To find freedom in Christ.  Because though I had professed my belief at the age of nine, I had not lived freely according to the life I had been given.  I had still lived chained to my hurt, to my desires, to my shame.  And with the help of a godly man, I realized the power given to me in Christ to be freed from those things.

So a few years into marriage that wonderful man and I found out we were going to have a baby.  We were ecstatic as this fit into our plan and timeline.  But I soon had some spotting and we were concerned about the well-being of the baby.  An ultrasound revealed he was fine, but after my 16-week appointment, “fine” was no longer part of my vocabulary.  Replaced by “fear,” all I could do was fear what might be wrong with him.  We were told that based on the results of a prenatal test, I was at an increased risk for having a child with Down syndrome.  This seemed highly unlikely as I was only twenty-six and this was our first pregnancy.  (Besides, didn’t only women advanced in maternal age have children with Down syndrome?)  But in-depth ultrasounds increased my risk even more so that we were left with a one in seven chance.  I cried a lot.  And at times I thought a miscarriage would be a blessing.  So much fear of the unknown.  So much fear.  Still, I convinced myself it was unlikely.

Then birth happened five weeks too soon, the baby came breach, and no one was ready to diagnose Down syndrome upon his appearance at birth.  Still we wondered.  A prolonged stay at the hospital with some need of oxygen and lamps before heading home where we first started to note some facial characteristics of Down syndrome.  Eleven days old, and at his first doctor’s appointment a new blackness came crashing in to my elated new-mother’s heart.  My perfect baby had Down syndrome.

And days turned into weeks turned into months of mourning. Grieving the child I thought I’d had…daddy’s little football star, a big strong man.  Suddenly all I could see was everything my child was not.  I couldn’t see that he would bring us joy unspeakable.  That we would love him so much our hearts risked bursting.  That there would be no words for the way he touches us so deeply, daily.  All I could see was lack.  Lack of all the dreams I had dreamed.  Yet through it, I didn’t question God, or whether God was good, or even why.  I simply wondered, “how.”  How was I supposed to do this?  How would I raise a child with special needs?  How would he be treated in life?  How would he get through school?  How would he be received beyond school, in the working world?  How long would he be given life on earth?  How long would he want to live with us?  How would this affect subsequent pregnancies?  How would this affect future siblings?  How long before he would walk and talk and feed himself?  And on and on.

Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?  Or does not the potter have the right over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called . . .  Romans 9:-20-24

And while the blackness sought to bring me back into that place of confusion and shame, God was so good and refused to let me go there.  He pulled me close and was kind in my time of hurt.  Friends and family were supportive, and slowly doors opened to new friendships with mommas in the same position, mommas who could relate and love me in the broken.

And slowly, the broken turned into the beautiful, the lack turned into plenty, the curse turned into the gift. 

But I’m stubborn.  A bit of a mule.  And I learn slowly.  Very slowly.  And instead of recognizing God’s hand and guidance in my life, I’m determined to make my own course, so what began as a hobby and tinkering with some yarn for friends turned into a full-blown business.  In the midst of having three babies in three years I decided that running an at-home business through an Etsy shop was a GREAT use of my time, energy and mental resources.  (Did I mention I’m stubborn?)   Little did I realize that a gift of creativity would soon become the next area of blackness in my life, consuming my pride and energy, and turning me into a grouchy, irritable, tired person.  No free time to play with kids, meet with friends, or minister.  I was simply getting by and looking for the next free minute to crochet.  But in January 2013, our pastor started a sermon series on Acts, and when he read Acts 1:8, the Word took hold of me. 

"but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria, and even the remotest part of the earth."

I cannot recall a single word of that sermon that day, but THE Word worked mightily in my heart that moment and told me that my life was supposed be different.  Different than those around me.  That those around me would know no different and certainly not know Him as a result of interacting with me.  That I needed to pursue relationships with the women in my neighborhood.  My business was an idol that had to be crushed.  So I closed up shop two weeks later, and that began a period of spiritual growth that leads me to now.  

These two years have been marked with highs and lows, feast and famine.  But there is always a constant.  See, God is never the one who moves.  MY heart is prone to wander.  In moments of famine, I have but to whisper, “Jesus.”  And that is sometimes all the prayer I can muster.  But always, always my savior is near, always he is kind, always he is patient.

Friends, my prayer would be that we all learn that.  That no matter what blackness, brokenness, ugly we've experienced or are experiencing in our lives that we can trust our savior is near.  And he is always good.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I'm doing hard work today.  Important work.  Urgent work, really.  Which of course is why I'm writing a blog post instead of tending to the work.  But sometimes an initial stream-of-consciousness-processing is what it takes to make the work flow.  Since this past summer when a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, God has impressed on my heart to draw nearer and lean into an understanding of godly suffering.  What does that look like?  How do we as believers suffer in a way that points a skeptical, jaded world to Him?  How do we accept hardship, grow from it, even possibly worship in the midst of it?  I didn't want to be the one to show up after my friend's mastectomy and give her the trite, "God won't give us more than we can handle."  I wanted to know deeply in my soul and bones that God was good, and I wanted to be able to rely on what I knew of Him to provide me with the responses needed while walking through suffering.

Not coincidentally, I started reading Tim Keller's Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering shortly before Bear's week-long hospital stay and stint with pneumonia.  I found that I relished the blessings of that week: a Christian doctor who prayed with us, countless family and friends showing up and being the body of Christ, a mom and mother-in-law who swarmed in and took over for my girls, a clear echo cardiogram, meals provided upon our return home, cards, emails, and text messages that touched my heart deeply.  What a beautiful taste of heaven it was.  When I was incapable, I was able to sit back and see the stunning bride for all she is.  This, people, is church.  The body of Christ caring for a weak, sick, or broken member.  Nursing us along in our inability.  Encouraging us, pushing us back to health.

And such a valuable reminder of practical things which are truly spiritual.

Case in point: food.  My beautiful friend who met me upon our return home with groceries and dinner.  And others who cared for us that way.  I felt so loved and was reminded of the importance of my role as a stay-at-home mom to love others the same way.

There is no occasion when meals should become totally unimportant.  Meals can be very small indeed, very inexpensive, short times taken in the midst of a big push of work, but they should be always more than just food."    --Edith Schaeffer
Which brings me back to this important work.  I'm writing a Bible study.  On suffering.   Because of my friend's journey with breast cancer, I was introduced to a beautiful soul, Kara Tippetts.  (You can follow her story on her blog Mundane Faithfulness.)  Kara has written about her own cancer story and the fight and struggle to find grace and God's goodness in the midst of it in her book The Hardest Peace, which is what I'm using to develop the core of my study.  Her broken honesty inspires the hardest of hearts, and even now as I write this, she struggles for her last few days on this earth, seeking to praise in each moment.  Oh what do I know of suffering?  I have sometimes cranky toddlers who make messes, skip naps, are ungrateful, and are loud and rambunctious at the library.  Seriously.  Those are the things that brought me to tears yesterday.  How can I possibly write a Bible study on suffering when a soul like Kara is about to leave this world and leave behind four beautiful young children and one faithful man?  When my friend has walked her own cancer story yet grieves the recent loss of both her in-laws and daily finds grace in caring for her son with special needs?  How can I possibly write about suffering when I have every need met?  When I live in such comfort?  When we are blessed with such health?  With family and friends who love and support us?  How can I possibly write?  Write.

I am not qualified.  This is true.  And so, I lay myself down at the foot of the cross today and look to the only One who can provide the words I so desperately need.  The words the women in my Bible study so desperately long for.  His Word that quenches every thirst, satisfies every hunger.  The Word who became flesh and dwelled among us that we might become qualified.  That I might be qualified.  To write.  So this morning, I do that.  I read and re-read and edit.  And ask the Word to be alive in me and through me that many might find Him in their hurt and suffering.  That this world that can never satisfy pushes us into our brokenness, to our edges, and causes us to lay it all down at the foot of the cross.  To seek a greater peace, an everlasting hope, as we become like Him in our suffering.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Disney's Frozen Written on Our Hearts

I'm standing at the kitchen sink cleaning carrots for the vegetable tray I have to take to my son's end of the year picnic tonight, and I have the silliest smirk on my face because all I can think about is Olaf.  "A nose!? I've always wanted a nose!  It's so cute, it looks like a baby unicorn."  Yes, Olaf from Disney's out-of-this-world, ginormous blockbuster Frozen (if you still don't know what I'm talking about, I'm sure the rock you've been living under can catch you up to speed).  We finally sat down and watched the movie for the first time as a family last night.  Gasp, shock, horror!  Yes, we've waited this long to watch this huge hit, partly because I try not to buy into hype, but mostly because Disney princess movies can be pretty scary for the still somewhat pure minds of my little ones.  But lets just say after last night's viewing, I've drunk the Frozen Kool-Aid.

WARNING: If you have yet to see the movie, the remainder of this article contains spoilers!

With it's beautiful animation (who wouldn't want to live in Elsa's ice castle and rock that A-MAZ-ING dress?), fresh story line, and witty characters and puns, it's easy to enjoy the movie.  But I think many would agree there's something more to love about this movie.  It contains all the components of the typical Disney princess movie: a young hero/heroine, an evil antagonist, royalty, true love.

But that's where we hang a hard left turn and veer away from the typical Disney, "Happily Ever After."  We're set up for the Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty & the Beast magical kiss of true love denouement as Anna and Kristoff seek each other in the blizzard, but the beautiful, sacrificial portrayal of true love shocks us as Anna lays down her life for Elsa.

And that's where I cried.  Yes, cried.  Because I see Christ.

Oh guys, it's written all over this story.  A love that pursues one its lost, that proves that true love is to lay down your life for others, and that love thaws a frozen heart where fear only paralyzes.

I was immediately drawn back to a Timothy Keller sermon I listened to a few months ago regarding Jesus as king, and why is it that our fairy tales and major movies and books contain this element of sacrificial love, the establishment of the rightful king, of paupers becoming princes and sharing in the kingdom, and why is it they are mega blockbusters and New York Times bestsellers?

Because they are a shadow THE story.  They are our story.  The one written on our hearts before time began.  We love to fall in love with, "Happily Ever After" because it is written on our hearts to do so.  

See we have a great King who came and pursued the lost, who willingly sacrificed his life as an act of true love for those same lost ones, and who established His kingdom and allowed those lost paupers to become princes and share in the inheritance of that kingdom.

While the writers of Frozen may not have intended there to be any Christ-likeness in its plot, the astounding and raving response of viewers is further evidence that humanity longs for its rescue from our rightful king and to be made princes who share in that kingdom.  It was written on our hearts from the beginning of time.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hosanna--Lord, Save Us: Palm Sunday

Every year when Lent rolls around, the inevitable Facebook statuses appear, "Welp!  Taking a break from social media.  See you in 40 days!"  or "Giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent.  Sooo hard!"  And while I can't judge the heart, fasting from these things means nothing if it doesn't drive us to the Lord.  Our lives are this precarious balancing act; once we remove something, we must fill it when something else.  So unless the removal of social media, coffee, or chocolate is filled with time spent with and a desire for the Lord, our fasting is but a "filthy garment" (Isaiah 64:6).  Throughout the prophets, God tells his people again and again that he does not desire their sacrifices but their hearts in true worship and their faith in Him to do great things when they trust in Him (Hosea 6:6, Malachi 3:10-12). 

I think what the Lord desires more than anything at Lent, during the Holy week, and each and every day is our hearts, undivided and loyal to Him above all else.  While fasting during Lent is a worthy discipline to create in us a hunger for the Lord, would He not be so much more pleased if our "fast," our "sacrifice" was not a woeful self-deprivation but a heart laid bare before Him daily?  What if our fast was a commitment to His Word and to time in prayer?  To draw near to Him?  When we give up frivolous things, our fast often becomes about us and the "sacrifice" we've made (after all, how amazing am I if I gave up coffee AND if I proclaim it from every social media outlet?  Matthew 6:16-18).   

Today, this Palm Sunday, I'm choosing to reflect on and rejoice in Jesus and His choice to enter Jerusalem knowing full well what that implied for him.  Knowing he would be sent to his death on a cross at the hand of worshipers-turned-indicters.  Lets take the focus off of us and consider our Savior.  I loved what was shared this morning at She Reads Truth.  Please take a minute to read and then worship our Lord.

I try to picture Jesus, fully man and fully God, looking at the crowd that was shouting, “Hosanna!” at Him. He had the ability to be all in that moment and to receive their feeble worship, but He also had the scope of eternity through which to view this moment. He could also see and hear pure worship of the angels and He could have (even then) perfectly described the day when He will eventually receive our pure worship at His return – like it was right there in front of Him. 
They cried “Hosanna” (a shout of adoration in the New Testament, but also found in the Old Testament Hebrew to mean “help” or “save, I pray” in Psalm 118:25). They threw their cloaks down and, as the donkey’s feet trod across the palm branches, only Jesus knew the full weight of what they were saying – what their cry of “save us” was really asking.
Only He knows the full weight of what we need when we cry out to Him today.I picture the loving way He considered His children even then, even as He knew what was ahead – even as He knew that their cries of “Hosanna” would turn to cries of “Crucify Him!” in a matter of days. 
For now, to know Him better, the best we can muster is to look behind and ahead based on what His Word tells us – like we are looking at His face in a dimly lit, memory-filled mirror. And yet, we can be assured – just like He was thousands of years ago as He rode to Jerusalem to take part in the events that would utterly change the course of history – when we cry “Hosanna! Save us!”, He will. 
When our hearts betray us like the crowds eventually betrayed our Lord – He still saves.
Hosanna in the highest! Salvation belongs to our God. 
--She Reads Truth, Hosanna, Posted on April 13, 2014, by Raechel Myers in #SheReadsTruth #Lent, quoted in part
Photo credit Buzo Jesus | Unsplash 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

I had a rotten day today, seriously rotten.  And there were no huge catastrophes or any major incidents to point at and say, "Oh yes, that would make anybody's day bad."  No, I just had one of those days where my mind is sunk, my spirit plummeted.  Every little thing grated on my nerves.  Kids needed something?  Sounds like whining to me.  Kids whine?  Sounds like screaming.  Kids ask for something?  Definitely demanding tone in that voice.  Kids argue?  World War III in our living room.  The littlest things were blown way out of proportion in my mind.

Guys, it started bad.  I got out of bed an hour later than normal and fell asleep face down on the table while trying to pray and read the Word.  Not kidding.  All the farther I made it as a mother was to get the kids out of their rooms when they woke up before heading to the couch to fall asleep.  I had had my cup of coffee and got almost seven hours of sleep the night before but still could not peel my eyes open.  To put it lightly, I failed miserably as a mother, as a wife, as a person today.  And get this. . . I even took a pregnancy test to make sure there was nothing else on which to blame my funk.  (If you know us well, that should be medically impossible, but always best to make sure.  Oh, and it was negative.)

All this to say, I'm a miserable and selfish person.  And I'm capable of straight up ugliness.  I did not want to be a mom today.  I did not want to have to answer to anyone or clean up after anyone or simply care for anyone.  I barely wanted to care for myself.  I was selfish, unmotivated, lazy, angry, bitter, resentful, and even somewhat sad.  In and of myself, I'm all of these things on a daily basis.  I do not have it all together.  I do not have all the answers.  I do not have eloquent and beautiful things to write.  I am rotten.

And I don't believe I'm the only one who knows this to be true about one's self, simply because I know a lot of people.  I know as some of you are reading this, you're already dismissing this as "normal," that we all have those days.  But isn't that telling?  If being a miserable and selfish person is "normal", isn't that telling of our condition as humans?  That something is broken in us?  See, we like to say that deep down we think people are good, but we're not.  When left to ourselves, we become selfish, unmotivated, lazy, angry, bitter, resentful, sad.  We don't seek to do good to others and live selfless lives.  We are not good.  Sure there are those who seem good, but I bet they would confess having these same feelings.  If even those whom we consider "good" confess they are truly rotten, we have to admit we are broken and in need of something more.

So here's the thing I'm trying to say.  By outward appearances, I think many would consider me "good."  I say a lot of right things, write some nice words, and do some kind things every now and then.  But none of those things is good enough to fix this brokenness in me.  See, I know that no matter how much I do for others, how selfless I seem to be living, unless I find a way to fix this brokenness, it doesn't matter.  My "goodness" cannot fix me, and it cannot fix others.  It can temporarily bring happiness or relief, but we are all left in this muck together without someone to save us.

And that is where Jesus comes in.  See, God created us to be in perfect fellowship with Him.  That was broken when Adam and Eve sinned and desired control over their own lives.  And every man and woman since has fought the same fight against God to control his/her own life and has worked to earn some sort of divine favor by being "good" enough.  But that's what's so beautiful about this sweeping story of God's.  It's that he tells us, "You can never be good enough.  In fact, you have to be perfect, holy, in order to be in my presence."  Doesn't really sound like good news, does it?  That's because it's only part of the good news.  If you read the Bible, you find all these stories of sacrifices and offerings that priests make to appease God's wrath and seek forgiveness of sins for man's brokenness, and it doesn't seem to make sense, unless you read with the end in mind.

The end of the story is that Jesus comes to offer grace and salvation to broken humanity.  To pull us out of the muck of our miserable and selfish existence.  He does this by offering his perfect life as a sacrifice to take on the full wrath of a perfect and holy God so that those who believe in him and call on him as savior and Lord can be fixed of their brokenness.  No more trying to be "good" enough or having faith in my goodness to try to fix me.

And that's the beauty of knowing Jesus.  That when I have a rotten day and fail as a mother, as a wife, as a person, I know that there is always grace.  That all I have to pray is one word, "Grace,"  "Jesus," and I'm covered.  That tomorrow starts anew and there's grace.  I do not have to have all the answers, be in control, use eloquent words.  He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.  I do not have to be overcome by my brokenness.

"And so it was with me, brothers and sisters.  When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power."  1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NIV) 

Linking up with #SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth Lent series.


Monday, April 7, 2014

21 Dreams Project: Everything We Needed

We live in the Indianapolis area and have been so blessed by deep relationships with families of kiddos with Down syndrome.  About a year ago I told you about The Lucky Ones, a group of women whose common bond is parenting a child of Down syndrome.  Through some of the same women, I learned of Sycamore Sisters Photography and the 21 Dreams Project.  Jen of SS Photography is a fellow momma of a child with Down syndrome, and to help raise awareness she started the 21 Dreams Project, part of which is publishing volumes of books featuring beautiful photos and touching stories of individuals with Down syndrome.  

So it is with great excitement that I announce that Bear is part of the most recently released volume!  I would love to see every OB/GYN office carry these books in their waiting room, as now nearly 92% of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy.  I choose to believe that many of these women do not make this decision out of malice but out of fear and ignorance.  With a little awareness and education, surely we can work to overturn this horrifying statistic.  I plan to gift one to my doctor and hope many others follow suit.  

Portions of the book's proceeds support Down Syndrome Indiana, and you can purchase your own copy here.

Since you can't preview Bear's page in the book, I thought I'd let you in on what I wrote about my beautiful little man.  Enjoy.  

It’s in his eyes.  I always said that about Bear.  Long before his lips curled into his first smile, he smiled with his eyes.
It’s in his touch.  The way he can’t sit beside me without playing with my hair.  How he pats his sister’s back as she sobs broken-heartedly because he’s heading to school.  How he eats his dinner with his hand on his daddy’s knee or arm.
It’s in his laugh, the one that is sheer unbridled joy and delirium. 

It’s in his stubborn perseverance.  Insisting that pizza, quesadillas, or doughnuts are for every meal or clearly letting us know, “I don’t want to.” 

It’s what we never hoped for; it’s everything we love. 
Bear is our eldest, the first grandson on my side, the first to steal all of our hearts.  As with all firstborns, the amount of expectation surrounding his arrival was immense.  Would he be Daddy’s little champ on the football field and baseball diamond?  Would he be Grandpa’s little buddy, hunting and farming at his side?  Would he become a fiercely protective older brother?  Would he have a tough exterior that secretly melted in the presence of his momma?  Would he enjoy music and academia and head to a prestigious college?  So many dreams.

During our pregnancy, there were some flags indicating our baby might have Down syndrome, but I was only twenty-six, we were both young and healthy.  Surely Down syndrome couldn’t affect our family.  When Bear arrived five weeks early, any physical traits of Down syndrome were nearly undetectable, and based on that, we were told by several medical professionals that he did not have Down syndrome.  We requested to have the necessary testing done to be sure, and at twelve days old, his doctor knelt at my feet in her office and cried with me as she broke the news.

Our perfect, first-born son has Down syndrome. 

I was crushed.  Dreams shattered.  Hearts broken
Calls made, tears cried, more calls made.  Husband rushing home from work.  More tears cried.  But somehow, my rock of a husband walked in the door with a new set of dreams.  His son was not a disappointment, had not fallen short of the dreams and expectations he had for his firstborn.  No, this boy of his would still accomplish great things.  Special Olympics, college, a prestigious job, these things were not out of Bear’s reach.  And after a few months of raging and grieving within my own spirit, this hope of his began to crack my fragile shell and let some light in.

Bear’s twinkling eyes smiled up at me; that belly laughter rolled at the sound of my voice; the comfort of his snuggles in the wee hours of morning softened my hard and bitter heart. 

And today, five years later, everything we hoped for has been far surpassed by the love and joy Bear brings our family.  There are no words to contain the fierce, protective love we have for him, no pictures to capture his endearing relationships with his sisters.  He is beyond what we hoped for, everything we needed to love.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Morning Prayer

"Lord, open our lips, and our mouths shall proclaim your praise." 

Don't let me steal or claim any of your glory for myself.  
As the birds sing their pre-dawn song, 
beckoning morning to come, 
thanking and praising you 
for the day that hasn't yet broken the horizon, 
may I have faith and hope in what is to come, 
singing your praises, 
trusting your goodness 
all the while.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before his presence with singing.
Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands.

Know ye that the Lord he is God:
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.
His love and mercy endure forever.

*Excerpt and Psalm taken from The Rhythm of Prayer: A Forty Day Experience by Mark A. Moore.

*Photo Jennifer Langley | Unsplash