Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jesus in the Stable by Tally

My daughter loves to paint. She loves to choose a brush and feel the paint flow from its bristles. She loves to carefully choose each color and place each stroke on the white canvas. She is three years old. She is an artist.

Today she wanted to paint Jesus in the Stable.  She started with the walls. Then the roof.

She placed the people in the stable. And then Jesus. His place carefully chosen. The stroke, deliberate. 

Do you see him? In the midst of the people, angels, clouds and trees? Tally knows exactly where Jesus is.

I could have watched her all day as she created her picture of Christmas. Her careful placement of color with each precious stroke. And then her presentation of her masterpiece. Her exclamation that Jesus is in the middle of the stable with all the people around him. She loves to point to him so I can see him too.

I'm still in awe at how she could create such a portrait of the story and say so much with her paint and brush. The artist at work is a mystery to me. I was given the privilege of watching one at work today.

My little artist helped me worship the One we celebrate this season. I need no other gifts this Christmas. She gave me the greatest gift of all. A picture of where Jesus wants to be in my life.

We're never alone when we invite Jesus into our stable. Some days I need to be reminded. Some days I feel stuck in the muck of the stable, and I need the reminder that he is in the center of it all. Right there in the midst of all the activity that goes on around me. All that fills my days. Today I am thankful for His living presence in my life. So very thankful.

Can you see Jesus, Mommy? Let me show you him!

Jesus in the Stable by Tally. A gift to you this holiday season. A gift from our home to yours.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Living Beyond the Bucket List

This summer we made a bucket list of sorts as a family.  We brainstormed all the things we wanted to do this summer. I resisted making one because I don't like the idea of a bucket list. But we did it so our two kids could see that neither one got to have a monopoly on the fun. Everyone got to put in their ideas, and we would try to do some of them. And we did.

Then, one day on our vacation, we were riding a cable car in San Francisco. As we inched our way up Powell Street, my son burst out unexpectedly, "WOW, Mom! This is like five bucket lists! And it isn't even on our list! This is AWESOME!"

I kept hearing that phrase in my head all day. "And it isn't even on our bucket list!"

What a reminder for life!

I don't like the idea of making a bucket list or any list that keeps track of my accomplishments because it feeds into my addiction to perfectionism and the illusion that I can control life.  All the years of walking through infertility and the adoption process forced me to let go of that illusion.  My life did not go as I planned, and I had to figure out how to deal with that reality. I had to let go of the list and the time table and the expectations. I had to stop comparing my life to those around me. I had to accept that I wasn't in control.

Letting go started when I began living one day at a time. And that came when I started seeing the gifts in each day. Some days it was a stretch. Some days I didn't want to see them. Some days they stared me in the face, and I couldn't help but reach out my hands.

How many times, since then, have I felt like my life is not going as I planned only to miss out on life itself? And then a gift unexpected and I'm shaken from my stupor. Awakened to the gifts in my every day life. Gifts from the One who holds my hand.

Maybe you know what I am talking about. Maybe you too have had to figure out how to live life beyond the if only's and figure out how to live right now and breathe in what is good, kind and wonderful in the midst of stress, pain, and uncertainty.

My circumstances have changed from those years when I was waiting for a child, but I still need the reminder to let go when I am holding on too tight to life as I want it. My heart still needs the gift of gratitude to help me open my hands and let God have control.

I want to live life beyond my bucket list -- One cable car ride at a time. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shifting Gears: A Reflection from Summer

Carefree days. Sleeping in. Reading a good book. Sipping iced tea on the back patio. Sounds great. But that's not what summer looks like at my house. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Before my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, I didn't know why our household felt so crazy in the summer. Why did he struggle so much with the unstructured days? I knew he missed school. But why was it so difficult for him to find his groove? 

And as the last day of school approached each year, I would feel panic. I didn't like to admit it. But summer meant trying to survive getting through the day without a meltdown -- mine or his or both!

Tourette Syndrome is on a spectrum and usually has other symptoms that accompany the vocal and motor tics. For my son, the other symptoms make it difficult for him to be flexible. He can be easily frustrated when things don't go as planned. So when life feels open-ended or unpredictable like in the summer, he gets frustrated more often.

When he is at school, these tendencies are lessened by the predictability of the day. He thrives in the school environment, in part from our amazing school and teachers, but also because he loves to learn. He loves the schedule on the board. He loves being surrounded by peers. But also because he is an amazing, courageous, bright kid who doesn't let his disability get in the way of living life. 

As his mom, I realized early on that he needed a schedule for the long summer days. But life is not like school and you can't plan every moment. Sometimes you have to be flexible. And for kids with Tourette Syndrome, that can be feel almost impossible. Summer days can feel really long for all of us.

So for years I just survived summer. 

This past year I've been given the gift of connecting with other moms who have felt like me. Moms with kids who don't fit the mold and make life interesting and keep you on your toes. I asked these friends who "get it" to pray for me. I asked them to pray with me that God would show me what to do differently. I felt like I had tried everything in the past.

This year I wanted to thrive not just survive.

Then one day I was with an acquaintance who homeschools her kids. She mentioned how she was looking forward to the summer. No more lesson planning. No more schedule. Time to just relax with her kids. I smiled and thought, "Not at my house."

But something clicked. My son loves to learn. He loves school. I thought, "This summer I will homeschool my kids in the things they love. Art. Science. Nature. Cooking. Reading." I have always tried to do fun things in the summer and be creative, but not with the mentality that I am not on vacation. I suddenly switched gears and thought, "It's time for me to get to work!"

I got online and discovered the world of Pinterest. I really didn't need another social network of sorts, but it was an amazing resource. I had a blast getting ready. The days began to fall into place. My favorite day was Georgia O'Keefe Day. Both kids were inspired by this amazing artist to create larger than life works of art.

For the first time in years, I was joyful and excited about summer. It became an answer to my heartfelt prayer. I had shifted into a new gear.

Did my son shift gears too? Not exactly. He still gets stuck, and we had difficult days. But that's a big change from difficult weeks!

This afternoon he had no idea I was writing about my summer. But as I watched him swing in the backyard and we chatted, he said, "Mom, you teach me a lot of stuff. You teach me about art and science and about God."  A gift beyond words to this mom.

I love our public school. I have no plans to home school my kids. But I love that my son got to enjoy his summer in a new way because his mom shifted gears.

And this summer, I discovered once again how I can be thankful for what I am learning because my son has Tourette Syndrome. Life is meant to be lived one day at a time. I need to be gentle with myself and not expect so much. I can ask for help and look for support from those who can truly give it and let go of those who can't. And I am discovering how to live life with open hands.

And I am thankful for a summer to thrive more days than not! Truly thankful. I was actually sad that school started last week. Now that is a miracle!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Different is the New Normal

The movie, Different is the New Normalis coming out on PBS this month but can already be viewed on the PBS website. Click the movie title to go to the website.

I am forever grateful that my son is growing up in a generation where people talk about their disabilities and help bring awareness to others.

As a mom of a child with Tourette Syndrome, I am so thankful for another mom who shares her story. I cried. I laughed. I smiled. I nodded. It felt so good to feel like someone else gets my life. Thank you Robin Small. Thank you. This will be a gift to so many families. 

Thank you Ariel Small for your courage. You helped me see the courage of my own son who is just beginning his journey. I am so proud to be his mom. So proud.

If you know anyone with Tourette Syndrome, please watch this movie. The following is a trailer. 

Watch Different is the New Normal on PBS. See more from THIRTEEN Specials.

Friday, May 4, 2012

One Gift at a Time

                                                                    I want to let life come

                                                           One moment at a time

                                                                       One gratitude at a time

                                                            Not a list of a 1000 gifts

     Not a quota to fulfill

Not forcing my eyes to see beauty in every passing thing,

       But open and waiting to see the gift that God reveals.

I want a life surrendered 

to whatever may come

His gifts to me this day

And maybe the same tomorrow

One moment at a time

One gift at a time

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Power of Letting Go

I am powerless over so many things -- changing another person, the weather, the stock market, Tourette Syndrome, crazy drivers, power outages, health changes, infertility, and the list goes on. Could you add to the list?

For years I equated being powerless with helpless. But my journey has helped me see that I may be powerless to change my circumstances, but I am not helpless in them. I may not like them, but I always have a choice about how I will respond. When I finally accept what I am powerless to change, only then do I see what I can change and grow spiritually.

The only thing I have the power to change is me. And maybe that is why I resist admitting I am powerless. For years, I didn't want to see that. But I've learned, slowly, that I can always choose my attitude. I can choose if I want to stay stuck. I can choose if I want to ask for help.

Sometimes I don't want to choose. I want to try to change other people or fight against my circumstances.  I don't want to accept what I can not change. But that just feels miserable after a while.

If you are familiar with the 12 Steps of AA and Al-Anon, then you know that the first step is to admit you are powerless and your life has become unmanageable. These steps have brought me so much healing and helped me discover how much God cares for me. Truly, truly cares for me.

I now know what happens when I try to control what I am powerless over. I get crazy. I get irritable without even knowing it. I make frantic decisions. I don't have any peace in my soul.

My son struggles with Tourette Syndrome. He is a courageous boy who has learned to live his life with a disability. As his mom, I wish that I could take away the struggle. I have had to admit I am powerless over Tourette Syndrome and how it affects our family life. I don't like it some days. I wish we didn't have to live with it. Some days I don't know how to parent a child with a disability. Or I think I can handle it on my own. My recovery work has helped me know how to navigate life with Tourette's.

When I admit I am powerless, I begin to discover that I am truly not helpless. I can turn over my life to the care of God and ask him for help. And this is where I want to live. This is where I know peace.  It's where life becomes an adventure!

Our son struggles to enter into large crowds. He has always struggled with this, but now we know why. Tourette Syndrome often includes sensory defensiveness and obsessive compulsive tendencies. Recently, we went on a retreat with our faith community. We knew he would struggle but were surprised by how much he regressed. Getting out of the cabin to go to breakfast the first morning was a nightmare. (From my perspective!) We finally got out the door, and it didn't get much better.

On the way back to our cabin after the morning activities and lunch, I finally let go. I was tired of nagging, fighting, reasoning and threatening. Nothing was working. I asked God to help me let go and show me how to move forward.

This is when my faith and my life collide.  When I step back and let go of control. I admit that I am powerless over the situation and need help. I let go and ask God for help. I get out of the way.

Later, we let our son know that this situation was not working for our family. We told him we were not mad, but we were not going to continue to stay if things didn't change. We let him know that he needed to decide if he wanted to stay or go home by dinner time.

And then I let go. I let go of the outcome. I let go of expectations. I enjoyed the afternoon.

Our son had a great afternoon. He made the choice to stay. And he didn't want the weekend to end!

When we got home, we debriefed and asked him what we could have done differently. I shared with him how I don't like to sleep in strange beds so I like to see a picture of the hotel room on the internet before we go on a trip. That's how I take care of myself.

I asked him if it would have been helpful if we had let him look at the camp location on the internet before we went. He said, "No....but could we go early next time before everyone arrives so I can see the place without all the people first?"

Wow! What a great idea!  Yes! Yes! And how wonderful that he came up with it himself.

For me, that is the best part of letting go and asking God for help. It gives other people the freedom to grow and learn. I get out of the way! Our son discovered that weekend that he is not helpless. He has choices about how to live life with a disability.

May I learn from him how to be so brave!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Waiting for a Moonbeam - A new blog for women

I haven't forgotten about my blog! But I have been working on a project that is close to my heart. A new blog for women going through infertility and all the ups and downs on that journey.

As I have entered the world of blogging, I have yet to find a blog to encourage and support women who are struggling through infertility. All the blogs that I have found written by women tend to be filled with stories about motherhood or parenthood or grand-motherhood. This is not surprising. But a woman who is struggling through infertility would not feel encouraged by reflections about life through that lens. It would only remind her once again that she is not in "the club" every time she goes to the blog. Something she feels every day. At least that is my perspective.

I decided to jump in and create a blog for women who need a safe place to go and not feel alone in their journey through infertility.

I have found that the writing keeps pouring out of me. It's a little scary to launch my story out into cyberspace. But even the name, Waiting for a Moonbeam, came to me in a way that felt like God was directing my path in this direction.

So if you know of any women who are on the journey through infertility or adoption, please let them know about this blog. If you are a friend or family member of someone who is longing to be a mom, you might want to read some of the posts to know how to love and support her.

My deepest prayer is that at least one women will not have to walk alone while she waits.  

Here's the link. You can also find the blog's Facebook page on the link.

Waiting for a Moonbeam