Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Blogging

My friend Katie Wetherbee interviewed me a while back and is now posting the interview in parts over at her blog.  I wanted to share the link so you could head over to her blog.  It was encouraging to me to answer questions, rather than write or speak about it as I usually do.  Something freeing about the process for me, even five and a half years later.

Katie does a lot of things, but one is to help families of children with special needs make quality connections within the local church.

Did you know many families with disabled children do not attend church because either the building itself is not accessible or because the body of people there are either unwilling or not educated on how to care for their children during a one hour service?

Are churches only for families with 2.5 kids who have no allergies, disabilities, or other special needs?

That's like saying the church is only for blond haired, blue eyed people from a certain region of Europe...and we all know how that worked out!

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  

Ummmmm.  That would be EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. ON. EARTH.

Do you have to go to church in order to have a relationship with the Lord?

Ummmmm....NO!  Plenty of churches around the world are welcoming, loving places where anyone would feel part of the fold.  And then, there are plenty of others out there that Jesus wouldn't even set foot in because they are just too darned perfect...I would encourage you not to go to those, anyway.

Sorry, I'm off on a tangent.

If our son Noah had lived, he would have continued to have special needs, just as he did in the hospital with a staff of 40 loving nurses and countless doctors and specialists.

In real life, outside the hospital, it takes a community of support and encouragement to come around families of children with different disabilities.  Heck, it takes a community of support and encouragement to come around EVERYONE.

*If you or someone you know would like to know more about getting your church up-to-date with how to lovingly come alongside families of children with special needs, check out: 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Little Lover

Two exciting things happening in this picture:  One, Ryan is sitting at his big boy table, and two, he's practicing blowing his own nose.  (Em's old Jenny Lind table and chairs.)
Ryan and I have been heading out on bike rides in the mornings.  He thinks his sister's hand-me-down helmet is pretty cool (hula dancer on the back and all...).  He yells, "Neigh, Neigh!" the whole time as we head over to a meadow near or home filled with horses.
Sometimes he wants to wear his hand-me-down froggy boots, rain or shine.
The shirt is wide open because so you can see his hairless, but really, we had to re-dress after lunch today.  Notice the little black eye!  I'm so sad!  Ry got his first little shiner while climbing up the steps on the playground last evening.  
This is the face I stare at every day.  He knows my name.  He hugs my thighs.  He kisses me and snuggles on my shoulder.  My heart is so very, very full...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Blogging

Today you will find me at "Diving for Pearls."

Katie Wetherbee is a new friend, who is actually an old friend.  And by "old" I mean, she prayed for us during our journey with Noah through hearing of his blog.  Earlier this Spring we were able to email back and forth and finally share ear to ear.  I wish we lived where I could meet her face to face.

One night I sat and read through the story of Katie and her family.  She has it neatly organized on her blog, so it's easy to do.  (Sorry.  You won't find that here.  I'm still working on my organizational skills.)  It was like a book I could not put down, reading her words, her experiences and emotions, and being able to picture the hospital life she lived with her daughter because of our personal experience.

Katie is a beautiful woman and a wonderful new friend!  I love her heart and the core of the ministry she carries out on a daily basis.  Her blog states, "Helping children with special needs thrive at home, school, and church."  She is the Director of Education for Key Ministry.  This mission of Key Ministry is "to equip churches to welcome and include children and families affected by hidden disabilities in all aspects of the life of the church."  The website has great insight and resources to educate oneself and learn more about how we as a body of believers can build bridges and welcome every person into the walls of an actual church, and into the arms of a loving community.

As a mother, she is facing the out-of-state drive and delivery of her first born to college next fall, with a younger one still working through high school.  I have one in diapers still and another just exiting 4th Grade in two weeks.  We are in two very different phases of life, but I believe we all have much to learn from one another.

I hope you will head over to "Diving for Pearls" where Katie is launching the first of a series called "Messages from Moms," where yours truly is first out of the gates.

My heart in being part of this is to encourage families far and wide as they journey through parenting, no matter how it looks.  Our son Noah passed away, but the time he was on this Earth I would say he had some very special needs.  Had he lived, he would have been "labeled" as such and it would have been, and is, my heart, to know him intimately and love him especially the way he was, understanding his needs to help him flourish.  Just as I try to do with my other two.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts on Dying and Living

As I sat across my davenport from a friend, a fellow bereaved mum, I listened to her heart and shared her tears as she told the stories of losing 3 of her grown children.  I will not share her story because it is hers to share...

One thing we talked about, though, was the "How?"

Yesterday as Emily and Ryan and I left a store, there were several emergency vehicles in the next parking row, helping whomever it was who needed help.  There were employees of the store directing traffic in the opposite direction of the situation.  We headed to our car, and as we walked, we prayed for the person laying on the ground.  We also prayed for the rescue team as they cared for the person in need.

As we backed out of our spot and headed up the row I literally had to wait for a woman steering her cart serpentine like down the center of the driving lane, craning her neck, not watching where she was going, but trying to see what was going on in the other parking row.

Really?  Really?

I know the woman was curious as to the "What?" in the situation, like what happened? or how did this happen?  We are curious people.  And we are not bad or wrong for wanting to know.

Heck, when Noah was in the hospital, I asked the question, "But WHY?" for 5+ months.  Not "Why?" like, why me?  why my son?  but, "Ok, so his test results are inconclusive...he is dying...his DNA is normal...but again, he's dying...why?"

Remember "Speed" and the vanilla flavored acting of Keanu Reeves?  The people were all on the bus yelling, "We're all gonna die!  We're all gonna die!"

I think of this scene, and many like it being played out in real life around the world under different circumstances, and I do wonder if this is the first realization a person in the scenario has had that they, indeed, are going to die.  

Everyone.  Is.  Going.  To.  Die.

But it's the "How?" that often catches us off guard, sweeps our legs, and leaves us feeling as if it came out of nowhere.  Because we weren't ready for it?

And it's the "When?", too.  My friend said she asked God about the timing of her children's deaths.  One in his 20's, the other two teenagers.  My son was 7 months old.  My friend's dad was 61.  My friend's daughter 1 hour.  My friend's mom in her early 40's.  My Grandmas in their 90's.  My father-in-law, 49.  My friend's husband, 34.

When we read "90" in the obituaries, we don't really ask why?  We may ask how? but, for the most part, their death isn't the result of a skiing accident, though anything is possible.

The nature of us, though, wants to know the how? and why? when we read the other ages.

And we are taken aback.  Struck with disbelief in some cases.  Sorting feelings of unfairness and pounding our fists about timing.  "A life cut short."  "Such a tragedy!"  "They had so much more life to live..."

If God really is Who He says He is, and He really does know the number of our days here on Earth, and He designed us with beauty in mind, and a purpose, and for a display of His splendor...well, this causes me to believe He isn't taken aback by the how? or the when?

Please understand, I am NOT saying He is the instigator of the how?  Please read Job for further insight here.  I personally believe God left the book of Job in the Bible on purpose so we could see just how sick and twisted the Devil really is at trying to tear our hearts away from the Unconditionally Loving God who created us.  (This will have to be another post entirely.)

What the heck is my point here?

Well, we can live the rest of our lives broken, torn, our hearts tragically ripped open because of our inability to fully ever comprehend the how? and the why? and the when?

Or, we can live the rest of our lives profoundly impacted by the beautiful people we once knew who have gone before us into everlasting life.

And we can carry their hearts, passions, gifts, character, and strengths in our lives as we choose to be better people because of them.

We can celebrate their heroics.  We can allow smiles to grace our faces, even in the midst of sorrow, as we remember something funny they once did, and not feel guilty about it.  We can rejoice that no matter the amount of time, whether in pregnancy or 50+ years later, we were once a "Mom" and will ALWAYS be a mom, no matter where our children dwell.  It will wear the title, "Bereaved, Grieved, Widowed," and it will have aches, pains, and heart wrenching yearning.

But what if we had never met them in the first place?

As a bereaved parent, a grieved friend, a person who has kissed death on the lips, I don't want to imagine my life never having known the people I loved who have died.

My life is richer because of them.  

And in pain and grief, there is healing knowing each person we meet on our way truly is a gift to us from the very hand of God, no matter how long they are called to walk the Earth.

*In memory of men I never knew:  Luke Sheets, Stephen Luth, Garrett Coble, and Austin Anderson
*In honor of Hannah Luce AND all the surviving families, friends, and loved ones:  we are constantly praying for you...He still has you here on purpose.  Never give up hope!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Jason's team at work watched the following short film the other day.  He then forwarded it to me.

I cannot stop thinking about it.

I showed it to Emily and her best friend, then we explored Nick's site for a while.  I had shown Em a video clip of Nick's a couple years ago, but the two almost 10 year olds were more profoundly impacted this time around.

I hope this movie challenges you, makes you squirm a little, and sets your eyes on what really matters.


 (This is from the site, so credit goes where credit is due...)
At the height of the Great Depression, the showman of a renowned circus discovers a man without limbs being exploited at a carnival sideshow, but after an intriguing encounter with the showman he becomes driven to hope against everything he has ever believed.
Directed by: Joshua Weigel; Written by: Joshua Weigel & Rebekah Weigel; Produced by: Joshua Weigel, Rebekah Weigel & Angie Alvarez; Starring: Eduardo Verastegui (Bella, Chasing Papi), Nick Vujicic (Life Without Limbs) & Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth, Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer, Hellboy)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

#FirstWorldProblems, Part 2

Me:  Hi.  I'd like to cancel my massage appointment.  I have a schedule conflict.

Receptionist:  Okay.  Would you like to reschedule now for another time?

Me:  Well, let me think...I'm trying to figure out when I'm going to be really stressed out...that would probably be a good time to come in, right?!

These are actual events, people.  Hence, the continuation of the #Hashtag series: #FirstWorldProblems

In the pursuit of learning how to love myself, I made a very poor decision.  And by very "poor" I mean, shoot, this is coming out of my personal checking account, not the family funds...I had better sell some jewelry or have a garage sale or sell Emily's dog...

You see, I was given two massage gift certificates about 2 and a half years ago, right after I learned I was pregnant with Ryan.  I used one last year some time, and the other a few months ago, finally.  

It's that second one that was the devil.

The little receptionist sales girl tried to "up sell" me.  At first I held strong.  Jason has a house rule that I'm not allowed to buy anything solicited at our front door.  It was heart wrenching to turn down Thin Mints Girl Scouts at first, but time, practice, and also learning my allergies has helped me gain the confidence I need to say, "No, thanks!"  

Anyway, the massage wasn't being sold to me at my front door.  And by "massage" I mean: monthly massage membership package, blah, blah, blah, sign on this line.

You see, it's a scam.  A total conspiracy and this is how it works:  Someone gets you a gift certificate, you know, as a gift.  Then, you go in, have a cup of tea, head back to the dimly lit, perfectly heated room where you slip under snuggly heated blankies on a squishy, cushy massage bed, as you inhale relaxing aromatherapy inhalants and get an awesome, relaxing massage for an hour or so.

And this is the point in the story where you should get dressed, head back out to the receptionist, leave your gratuity at the front desk and WALK OUT THE FRONT DOOR, never to return.

In my relaxed state I don't know what the little receptionist sales girl said to me, but I was relaxed and vulnerable and didn't walk out the door.  I thought to myself:  I love getting massages.  I only ever get them on vacation.  It could be like a mini-vacation, once a month.  Remember that one in Japan where that teeny tiny woman walked on your back?  Or the one in Mexico where Julio...oh, never mind.  They are relaxing.  I only get them once a year.  If I were to splurge on one thing a month, a massage would be a really good would show me that I love me...yeah, that's the ticket.  I'm learning how to love myself...

I don't frequent Starbucks.  I might get a pedicure once or twice a year, but now that I can reach my own toes, I prefer doing them myself when I have the time.  I don't recreationally shop.  I don't buy things off the Internet.  I don't pay for Botox or even get my hair cut more than twice a year.  And, yes, this is a pathetic attempt to justify why I thought it was a good idea to sign up for a massage membership, of which I cannot back out of for a whole year!  #FirstWorldProblems

Knowing I can't back out of my agreement STRESSES ME OUT.  Ironic.  Maybe I should get a massage?

Do I realize I could use that money each month to save starving children?  CLEARLY!
Do I realize I could use that money each month to end slave trafficking?  YES!
Do I realize I could use that money each month to send underprivileged kids to school?  UM, YEAH!
Do I realize what could be done with that money each month?  We all have ideas of how it could be spent.  I get it.

And this is ridiculous.  


I'm so disgusted with myself for making an emotional financial decision that I think I'll give some of the massages away...if I'm allowed to.  

Having the "membership" hanging over my head just isn't as relaxing as it sounds.

Monday, May 07, 2012

#Hashtag Series, Part 1


This series isn't going to be pretty.

I'm not writing it for you.

I'm writing it for me, as I stand in front of the mirror, a slap in my own face.  I need a renewed reality check.  I need a swift kick in the pants...

If your face stings, turn the other cheek.

(Remember, I am saying this to myself in the mirror, hence "you" and "I"...don't accuse me of accusing you, please.)

"Adrienne, you have #FirstWorldProblems.  Seriously.  Let's take the obvious:  You are looking in the mirror at yourself in what Westerners call a 'master bathroom' which is conveniently located next to your 'walk-in closet' where you own 7 pair of jeans of which you complain do not fit on your chubby thighs which are that way because you live in America where you have access to more processed food than any country in the world.  Actually, living in America doesn't make you chubby.  Stop making excuses.  Your choices to eat processed foods, especially your known allergens, make you chubby.  Stop blaming it on America.  America has her own problems.  In Cambodia your place of residence would easily house 75 people.  That could be 75 young girls, Emily's age, who have been sold into sex slavery because their parents can't afford to feed and keep them, let alone send them to school.  Em's 9 and 3/4.  The world is a sick place.  You are sad Em's turning 10.  Be thankful you have a daughter who is healthy and doesn't even know what sex really is except for roosters, chickens and eggs.  You have a pantry near your kitchen.  A pantry is a closet or cupboard which houses abundance and resources.  You have 18 drawers in your kitchen, 21 cupboards.  Cold water.  Water that comes out of a tap or fridge.  You have options.  Water you didn't have to walk 6 miles to get for your family.  You went to college for four years and your loans are paid off.  You got to choose where you attended school (well, sorta...that's another story...) Your daughter goes to a highly sought after Outward Bound school.  Yes, your husband is having an "affair" with his stupid iPhone, but only because he's always been a nerd when it comes to technology.  Be thankful you have a husband who loves you and has always been faithful.  Yes, there is laundry everywhere.  Be thankful you aren't naked.  You have clothes.  Too many clothes.  Give some away...then you will not have as much laundry.  Yes, there are toys everywhere.  You have a toddler.  Be grateful he is alive and healthy and makes messes.  Get rid of some of his toys...he doesn't need them all...certainly there are kids out there who could use some.  Forget about the broccoli ground into the bottom of your tennis shoe.  Be grateful he has a good arm and is strong enough to throw food.  Be grateful you have food to give to your children each day.  The reason you have dirty dishes piled up is because you have food to feed your family...or you have too many dishes...give some dishes away.  And all that stuff on your desk.  What about all that?  Will you really read all those books or is it simply a good intention?  Give some away.  Stop feeling overwhelmed that you don't have enough time to do whatever it is you think you need to do and prioritize.  Get some perspective, Adrienne!  Stop standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open, wondering WHAT ON EARTH you're going to make for dinner.  Stop whining because you have to run to the grocery store for the third time this week...because by "run" I mean you have a car...and by "grocery store" I mean one of 5 within a 5 mile radius...and by "third time this week" I mean maybe you should start meal planning.  Be grateful you have a all.  And back to this mirror.  What do you see?  How long, Adrienne?  How long will you sing this song of not loving yourself?  He made you who you are on purpose.  Stop squeezing the backs of your arms, your thighs, your belly, and just make the healthy choices you already know how to make.  #FirstWorldProblems.  Maybe one of your #FirstWorldProblems is that you have too many choices?  In Uganda or Kenya or Bangladesh or Guatemala or Haiti or Sudan or Papau New Guinea the moms aren't asking, "What will we have for dinner?" with the same voice inflection you are asking it.  You are wondering, "Hmmmm....should we have salmon or chicken on the grill...with grilled or sauteed or oven roasted veggies and olive oil and garlic."  They are wondering, "WHAT, if anything, will we have for dinner?"  Get over yourself.  Seriously, Adrienne, get over yourself.  You have #FirstWorldProblems.  Be thankful.  Be generous.  Nothing you call "your own" is yours.  Nothing.  Not even your own life.  It's His.  You gave it to Him long ago.  I'm pretty sure in your own insecurity and struggle for control, you have taken yourself back.  You are not your own.  You were bought with a price.  Close your eyes.  Put out your hands.  Surrender.  Ask Him to lead the way.  Stop trying to drag God around on a leash.  Slip your hand into His and walk with Him.  He is faithful.  He will lead you.  He sees the bigger picture.  Remember?  Why do you forget to remember sometimes?!  He sees the bigger picture.  He sees the #FirstWorldProblems and the #ThirdWorldProblems.  He died for me so I would know freedom from this world...not that I wouldn't face problems, but so I would know Who to run to with my problems...and so I'd know what are actual "problems" and which things are problems I create for myself because I live in the First World."