Sunday, September 20, 2015

my two cents on a very controversial subject

I am the parent of 3 children.
My oldest is neurochemically atypical. I with my special ed degrees and 16 years of experience feel that he shares characteristics of a person with very high functioning Asperger's and ADHD. The neuropsych team felt that he has anxiety and sensory processing disorder with ADHD (like Asperger's?). Tomato, tomatoe... Either way I have a need for a highly structured environment in my home, I have to explain things in literal black & white terms, and state all of my expectations clearly in small steps right now in order to give my son the tools he needs to build the tools for adulthood.

My daughter is affected by hypotonic cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a stroke that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth resulting in a muscular abnormality present since birth that doesn't get better and doesn't  get worse. The muscle function may get better or worse but the overall make up of the muscles is not degenerative and isn't going to magically get better.

These disorders are not related, I could not have landed with 2 disabilities that are further apart. the Autism spectrum may have genetic components but as far as I know there isn't a family history of this... not granted I don't know half of my husband's genetic history and I don't know half of my Nana's genetic history, and I really don't know about much of half of my own family medical history.
I get asked more often than you might realize, "what caused this?"

"did you get sick when you were pregnant?"
-----Yes, everyone gets sick when they're pregnant, I even took antibiotics (GASP!)

"did you vaccinate your kids?"
-----Yes, I vaccinated all of the children. Their behavior did not change after vaccination and if the chemicals had any sort of interaction in their brains then I genuinely feel that my son would have eventually presented with these characteristics even if I had chosen not to vaccinate.

"were you on meds when you were pregnant?"
-----Yes, all of my small fetuses were exposed to medicine approved by authorities of western medicine.

"were there birth complications?"
-----No, there weren't any valid birth complications. If the cause were birth complications then Cole would have had CP and Faith and Davin would have been typical. Cole was born via unplanned c-section.

"did you do anything that you haven't asked forgiveness for?"
-----No, I don't think any of my sinful behavior caused any of the disabilities present in my family.
We all sin, if this were how the world works there would be no typical people to compare my kids to. Jesus paid for my sins, my kids don't have to pay for my sins.

Here's my opinion on why my children were born with some different needs:

I'm lucky!!!

Seriously, we live in a broken freaking world with chemicals in our food that we as a species really haven't seen until this last century. We live in a world where people get cancer, they die too young, we have disease, famine, and loss all around us. Our world has this whole environmental thing going on and we haven't had the tools long enough to study how our actions will impact our world or if global warming is simply a natural cycle that we (people) haven't been around long enough to see. come full circle.

I'm sure there's a little bit of everything mixed into the truth that we haven't found.

So... I don't consider these disabilities a tragedy (that's another blog). I don't think there is any one cause for how my children are made up. I know that I believe in the truths in the Bible which says say God knew my kids before they were in my womb and I know that God knew every challenge they would face. Every child has a unique contribution to this world and if I didn't have a daughter with cerebral palsy who is going to be a princess when she grows up, or a son who sees everything very literally and will be a great leader when he's an adult, or another son who loves to dress in his Sunday best every day and wants to play bagpipes and be a chef then my world would be vastly different. My kids just like your kids add something to the world that would be missing if they were any different. They've taught me lessons about myself and how I look at things, they light the room with their smiles.  Each person adds something to life that no one else can fill.

I'm really ok to accept that there isn't a "cause" for a disability. I have never felt like a disability is a disability, it's simply a different way to contribute to life. I accept that these lives are perfectly and wonderfully made out of my control and I alone did not influence their abilities or disabilities. I'm writing this because I hope that someday this way of looking at abilities will be adopted by more people and maybe we can embrace disabilities and empower people to contribute to our world in any way they can.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

a life verse for me

I am doing this online bible study, it's based on a book called "A Mended Heart". I've just finished chapter 4 and while I have gleaned quite a bit, I don't think I'm to the part where I personally have found mending.
One of the emails that they sent out had a guide for finding your life verse. I have had a few of these verses in my lifetime and while I wasn't raised in the word as much as a lot of people I can tell you the top 3 verses the Lord has given me even when I didn't have the word or before I was mature enough to spend time each day in God's word.

I'm going to have a milestone birthday tomorrow, July 3rd. I'm going to be 30. Gone are my twenties and while there were some great times (like my wedding and the birth of my children), and losing weight was a lot easier. Frankly, aside from the number I'm happy to see what this new decade will bring me and I thought I should approach it with an open heart and go ahead and try their life verse system to get off on the right start.

They had a cute PDF and I just used the comment feature in adobe to write directly on it,
Step 1:  write down what you need from God.
Step 2: what are your strengths and passions?
Step 3: what central themes do you see out of those two things (in hindsight I could have used a venn diagram) :-)
Step 4: They recommended a search in bible gateway with those key words and for you to pray about the verses that stand out to you. You could use the concordance in the back of your bible if you aren't in to the online thing.
Step 5: pick a verse and make it personal, You can verse map it, post it around you, pray about it, look at the context for sure, make it personal and something that sticks in your mind that you can go to when you just need an anchor.

Well, I searched and searched and I looked at my key words. I found many beautiful verses. Some new, and some familiar; all of them spoke something to me. None of them stood out as something that really made the bigger picture that would be an anchor. They just represent something I see in this season of my life which is great but not what I was praying for in a life verse.

I went back to some of my old favorites, verses that have stuck with me through the years and have really been what I needed when I needed to hear it.
Proverbs 3:5 - the first verse I ever memorized! I was 10 when I memorized this verse. This verse was my "go-to" as a baby Christian, When I was a small child I had a lot of confusing hurtful times and they all came to a head when I was in high school. It was truly the darkest time in my life and it took some year to heal and and come to a place where I can embrace it all. If didn't know much but I did know that God knows more than me and if I just kept walking and trusting beyond my own understanding, somehow I would be ok. I couldn't have backed it up in a theological discussion but my heart knew it's truth and that was good enough.
Hebrews 12:1 -  As a parent and as a wife and a Christian woman in this world sometimes life feels like a marathon. With the kids especially... I have compared many times having a child with special needs to running a marathon. Now I have never run 26.2 miles all at once but I have actually run 13.1 miles 4 times in 4 weeks. I can give some awesome comparisons and I'm pretty sure somewhere in this blog I have discussed it once or twice.

...and finally, and oldie but a goodie that I have concluded really is my life verse-
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 - Over the years, it was my rock when I was going through those years of healing and finding peace with some of my childhood. It was taped inside the cabinet of our first home and I looked at it every day as a new mom and cried and prayed this verse as we lost income and eventually lost everything including the house. It always somehow had a literal application and I always needed it for something along the way. I feel sometimes that God has just given me a lot of opportunities to grow in my life. he's given me a multitude of blessings and always provision but also an equal amount of times when I walked through some heat in order to me made better. 
This morning though as I read through the whole chapter around this verse I saw it in a new light. I've read the context before but I was really praying and reflecting and wanting to see things differently. Like any great life verse I see different layers of it in different seasons of  life and here is what I discovered this morning-
Paul wrote Corinthians, in chapter 12 we come in and he is talking about how he has seen Jesus and he was there when he ascended and there are things he doesn't understand but this experience and knowing Jesus is worth bragging about. He says there is nothing for him to brag about for himself except the times when he was weak because he was made strong by Jesus and that is worth bragging about. In verses 7-8 he talks about the thorn in his side and how three times he asked it to be removed but how God told him that it was through this thorn that he was being used and blessed. As I prayed and reflected on this I was reminded that this verse is not only great for encouragement when you're walking through trials but also a great reminder of what God has brought you through and how even though your past may be difficult, it's worth bragging about. 

In this new decade of my life and new season of my life - now being gainfully employed, having a career, my children being school-aged (agh!), and having hope of buying a home again in the near future and having this fresh start feeling- I feel like this verse serves as a different kind of anchor; it is a reminder to be thankful for things good and bad and to not just feel good that those trials are over but to in fact be boastful for how we have come through these things because that's how awesome our God is! 
We're going to have thorns, I still have an auto-immune disease that doesn't have a name that keeps me close to God - every day when I wake up I think that whatever God wants me to get done today, he will make it so and I can only do it with him and we get a lot done! 
Birthdays are what you make them, all things in life are what you make them; I choose to use this birthday to reflect and feel boastful about the last 30 years and this crazy awesome roller coaster ride with God at the controls.
and so...
 God reminds us when we think of walking through trials "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

a mother's day reflection

Every year I have to make a choice.
Each year my choice is based on the biblical concept that I heard in a sermon once "act first and your heart will eventually follow". Each year I am rewarded and I evolve a little more.

Mother's day has historically not been my favorite holiday. It is a painful reminder of a person who is supposed to be honored who hurt me beyond belief and beyond repair and on top of that every time I chose my mother over my step mother in hopes of earning a normal relationship she brushed aside my efforts and gave me only rejection.
I flash back to one such mother's day, I had a visitation with my mom and at school I had worked really hard on a project, it wasn't much but I put everything into it thinking that if it was good enough she would take me into her arms and never forget to come get me for visitations and never forget to feed me and she would want me and be able to take care of me and love me and not make fun of me and never hurt me somehow I could accomplish all this by coloring a paper doily with all her favorite colors for her to remember how beautiful I could make her life.
So that mother's day came and I had some other project with me but most of all for some reason I wanted her to have this colorful doily that I had painstakingly worked on and colored each little lattice with a different color. It truly was beautiful and it happens to be the only mother's day I remember sharing with my bio mom. I kept my presents a secret and on Sunday morning I made her coffee just the way she liked it, black with 3 spoonfuls of sugar. I brought her the coffee and I brought her my presents saving my treasured doily until last. She put the coffee down absent mindedly and splashed a little bit on the table and then opened one of my presents and I don't remember was it was but she put it to the side. and she opened a candle that I had made at the mall with my Nana for this occasion and she said it was pretty. I presented her with my doily and she looked at it blankly. I explained how I used all her favorite colors and how long I worked on it and how she could put it somewhere special and think of me if she wanted to. She accepted all of it and gave me a hug and said thank you, my plan was working I thought! Then as quickly as I felt happy, it all crashed. My mom is mentally ill and she's capable of switching from happy to crazy in the blink of an eye but I didn't know or understand this when I was 9. So she switched and looked at me coldly and asked me if I had packed to go home and took my doily and crumpled it and used it to wipe up the coffee that had been splashed onto to the table. She was cold for the next hour until I went back home to Boise. I cried for days and wondered what I could have done differently. I know I must have had other mother's day with her but that is the only one I can remember. That relationship with my mom never did come together, she never did become that loving involved mom who didn't hurt me.
Fast forward...
My first Mother's day was a real struggle, I had terrible PPD and then to top it all off I realized that no one had ever had ever felt for me the way I felt for my baby from the same perspective. My mother had never loved like that. God really used that time to clean out those wounds and to begin to heal them. It wasn't fun but it was a good start,  As years passed I began to appreciate this day and really focus on the people who had been there for me. Becoming a mother drew me a lot closer to my step-mom and our relationship took on a whole new level which brought healing. I also was blessed to see an example of what honoring you mother looked like as I walked through this holiday with my husband and his mom. My relationship with my mother in law is great but it took a lot of work in those early days; again, mother's day began to heal some of that as I did the right thing and acted knowing eventually my heart would follow.
I have seen a lot of healing in Mother's day and have come to appreciate it as a day to honor women who have loved me as their own and been there for me.
2012- My Nana died. My world shook, even the thought of her makes me burst into tears and it's been almost 3 years since we lost her. She was the first woman who nurtured me, loved me, rocked me, saved me from unspeakable horrors, led me to the Lord, and was always on my side. So Mother's day has taken a bit of a backslide again.

Here I am; May 10, 2015 and I recite to myself all the verses that are hidden in my heart about the Lord being my heavenly parent and about God's love for me. Those verses even when I'm not feeling it are truth, and truth always conquers emotion.
SO... I make the choice to honor women who did not give birth to me but have loved me as along as they have been there for me. I make the choice to give myself permission to feel a little sad and then look at the living world and not get caught up in what I've lost. I make the choice to hug my children and remind myself that we can flip this holiday because I'm a mom and I'm not sucking at it. Each of my kids brought me treasures from school and I was delighted and very careful to show care with their gifts and show them outwardly how those gifts made me feel. I make the choice to trust that whoever I honor will accept my gifts of love as enough and know that they come from a place of love where I did my best on yet another tight budget.
I act first and then today or tomorrow my heart follows and I an overwhelmed with gratitude.  I have many women who have come along side me. I don't just have one mom, I have many and I can be thankful for all of them, even those who are not with me in this season of life. My husband honors me as a wife and as the mother of his children and those amazing children who love me and write the sweetest things that show me the fruit of all of my love.
This Mother's day if you are coming from a place of pain, maybe somehow you can find a grain of truth here and cling onto it. In the end truth conquers emotion and while it's great to feel and acknowledge emotion, it is a choice to find beauty and hope in the midst of that emotion.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why I'm turning into a hippie...

I was born in a generation of immediate gratification. We love our twinkies, ho-hos, and those yummy cream filled cookies that come in a box with a cute little girl name Debbie. YUM!!! Remember those delectable processed caked that were so beautiful and you could get them in a variety box, my favorite were the square ones with the white frosting and chocolate chips. YUM!!! I was greatly influenced and raised for the first 5 years by a generation that cooked everything in butter and just about anything could be solved with a warm cup of ovaltine, some sweet baked goods or a pill. Oh the memories... Most of my best memories are linked to food and mostly processed food. If food and Nana couldn't fix it then medicine could surely help. I'm surprised I'm a alive, when I was very little ages 2-5, I remember asking for medicine and popping tylenol like candy. Jesus must really love me and have purpose for my life because I have no liver damage.
My dad married this lady who over the course of 20 years I consider my mother but on our first family date I remember so clearly that she made me eat my tomatoes! YUCK! I was 5 years old and had rarely touched a vegetable. I blatantly disregarded her healthy eating habits for the majority of my life in favor of more yummy alternatives.
So here I am in the last year of my 20s. I'm heavier than I want to be, I have just finished a book by Lysa Tyrkurst called Made to Crave and a series of events have shaped my life in the past few years. My beloved Nana is gone and I attribute it to her fix it all with a pill attitude. She died of kidney failure with type 2 diabetes. She had so may prescriptions that I can't begin to remember the huge number but it was more than 15. She loved she sweets until the end and always had some on hand to offer me. IT was a wake up call but so painful that it has taken me more than 2 years to process this loss and realize how I could change. I'll be honest, I don't take medicine regularly but if I was offered some kind of pill to fix a problem I would probably take it. Because of what I have seen and lived though, I will think twice. I just have this one body and I need it for a while.
I am learning that God put everything into nature that can help me and prevent a lot of the need for medical intervention. My healthy food boundaries are not restrictive but merely a barrier meant to keep me safe and healthy. I am all for taking meds if I need them but I am learning that those needs will be less if I keep moving and put healthy things into my body.
3 years ago I saw some documentary footage + Oprah that scarred me for life and made me research and be more conscious about the foods we have and how much hormones and antibiotics are in our food. Being pretty humble in the finance department I can't afford the hormone free grass feed beef that I would like to buy for my family but one small change we made was to get hormone free milk. I subscribed to our local delivery service which gives us natural milk (not organic- that tastes funny to me) but it is hormone and antibiotic free and pleasing to me. It was a simple more affordable option for a product that we consume a lot of. The fun side of that service is that it gets delivered in there nostalgic glass bottles that make my heart happy in the missing Nana department. The sell by labels are different too which diffuses a morning battle I have with one of my kiddos who only thinks in black and white. It's really a win-win-win scenario.

How does this make me a hippie?

 Another series of events have been unfolding along with my personal revelations. My son is affected by ADHD and I am in the process of navigating the waiting list with the neuropsych to test for other conditions namely Asperger's syndrome or according to the DSM V, the highest functioning end of the Autism spectrum. (Asperger's simply doesn't have the same definition or diagnosis that it used to) Recently, we were given a generous sample of essential oils blended together into something called Jeddy's blend. It was made by a lady whose son has autism and adhd, she wanted something natural to help him. I have never been a believer in natural remedies, I see that they can work and I question the placebo effect. Something seems to make sense but I just have never seen the practical effective application. Well, I was just about at my wit's end with my sweet oldest child and I figured this pil sample surely wouldn't do any harm so let's give it a try. IT CHANGED OUR LIVES!!!! I subbed it out with olive oil just to see if it was placebo effect and let me tell you olive oil does not calm a crazy child. I don't completely understand the science behind the oil and how it enters the system and how it changes behavior but I know that it works, it is absorbed through the skin best in places where there are nerve endings linked to the systems you want to affect. I jumped on to the oil bandwagon with both feet and have found various blends helpful for myself with my skin problems, my own ADHD, and those pesky hormones. It also works with sore muscles, and headaches. YAY for less chemical intervention!
Fast forward and switch kids.
I have a wonderful middle child, he's pretty typical and simply reaps the benefits of our trials and experience because by default when we makes these changes he is positively affected.
I also have a sweet little girl, she's almost 4 and she is fabulous. She does have her challenges though; she is affected by cerebral palsy and had some mild/moderate delays in all areas. Cerebral palsy is a brain injury, a stroke specifically which occurred inutero, during, or shortly after birth. I believe her stroke was inutero around month 8 and maybe related to the RSV I battled for a couple of months. Anyway, She has low tone which is a bit atypical for CP but still is challenging. Well she recently had an odd encounter with some Jello. It was red jello from the store deli. Anywhere on her skin that it touched was raised and red and itchy, she said she felt funny and her tummy hurt. I gave her some benedryl and called the doc. Apparently this is common because he knew the Jello was red with out me telling him and apparently it can happen anytime. huh... who knew? No more red food dye for our sweet girl.
As I was researching this whole red food dye allergy I learned some things. The FDA has investigated Red 40 for behavior problems in children. It is increasingly more common to have reactions to it as the consumption increases. it has been linked to cancer in mice but no one has done a study for humans that I have seen. Apparently it comes from a beetle and because of this it is considered natural and highly unregulated and this accounts for the reason that you can go your whole life and suddenly have a problem, different concentrations and formulas do different things but they aren't tracked because they're natural. -oh by the way it's in a LOT of stuff! Given we have a child with behavior issues and another who has a sensitivity to red dye, we have cut out food dye.

So here I am, a girl who loved her processed food and those delicious cakes that never expire. I'm learning to love veggies and eat far less carbs and almost no simple sugar, I use alternative health treatments and have decreased our dependence synthetic medicine, and we don't eat food dye. This from my background makes me think I might be turning into one of those health crazed hippie natural people. It wasn't an overnight transformation; I have seen people I love around me make these changes, those seeds have been planted for years. I am hoping these changes now will nourish my children and plant better seeds for them in their future.

Monday, January 19, 2015

...and you thought you'd never run a marathon

What requires endurance, perseverance, patience, and a strong will?
The answer is marathons and life.

A couple of years ago I ran 4 half marathons in four weeks. That experience taught me more than I can say, I still refer back to it as I encounter different seasons in my life. I got up early and I trained. I ran through pain, and mud, and rain, and dust, and sun, and even snow. The first 3 miles were brutal because my body wasn't used to it, miles 5-8 were pretty good; and miles 9-13 were excruciating. There were times in the middle of my runs (especially in training) when I would think "am I done yet? where am I running?!" It took a while but I learned to embrace those runs, I could think, cry, get out all my frustrations, and even praise God.
Fast forward 2 years... I blew out my ACL a year ago, I'm signed up for a race this coming June; 5 miles and 15 obstacles. If you don't finish an obstacle you have to do 30 burpees to progress through the race which means I will be running 5 miles and doing 450 burpees.
What is a burpee?
I also plan to try to run those half marathons again.

If you are a runner, you probably have drawn these conclusions on your own. If you are not a runner, this might be of some interest.

As I think about this training process for my upcoming race, I also have been reflecting on the last two years since I trained for a run.
There have been times when I have thought to myself "I'm tired"
As a woman, I want so much to be a proverbs 31 woman and I live in a modern world with mixed messages, I find myself feeling not good enough and it is a constant process to defeat those lies and embrace that I am perfectly and wonderfully made.
As a mom, I get tired of cleaning only to turn around and see a brand new mess courtesy of one my "helpers".
Having a child with special needs; I get tired of constantly dealing with the system that ultimately blesses her but everything you do to get tools for your child is a constant unrelenting process.
As a professional entering a career and coming out of college, I feel defeated by myself and frustrated at the learning process because I feel like I should already know what I need to know and yet I have a lot to learn.

Then... once in a while something comes along and makes it all worth it. Today I had an epiphany and it was my "worth it" moment.

At this point a couple of bible verses come to mind:
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
Psalm 30:5For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

 My training in running is exactly the same process I use in my life; endurance, perseverance, patience, a strong will, and leaning into my faith and knowing I don't have to have all the answers.
 I stumble and I fall and I go off course and sometimes I cramp up but just as in real life running I make the choice to get up off the ground and I take the next step. I have to make sure I am prepared for my race everyday and when I am under-prepared I sure feel it!
When you are training for a race, you have to have lots of water, rest, protein, a balanced diet, electrolytes, good shoes, discipline, and a support system or training partner.
My ingredients for my life race are time in the word, rest, a well balanced routine, a sense of humor, mental preparedness for my day, discipline, and an awesome support system, and a great partner. When I'm tired and run down and the marathon before me seems endless, it's because I'm missing one of my tools.

How many times have you been through a season in your life when you felt like you were constantly trying and needed endurance, perseverance, patience, and a strong will? I have many of these areas, some are a lifelong marathon and some are ending with another life race on the horizon. Whether you are physically able to run 26.2 miles or not, you are in a marathon! Congratulations on your race!
The bible makes yet another reference to life as a marathon and says we are to finish well.
2 Timothy 4:7 says I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
 I encourage you to read that whole chapter in context.

 Keep running your race my friends :-)