Me and My Man

Today marks five years that I have been with this guy. We met five years ago as we were both hired to be resident assistants at our school. The volleyball court brought us together that year, and for some reason this popular, athletic boy picked this weird, dorky nobody to spend his forever with. I still do not understand it to this day, but I am thankful Jordan picked me.

We knew we would be married two months after we started dating. That might seem quick (and it was), but I had had a near death experience in the hospital and Jordan, my boyfriend of about 7 weeks, was there for every scary moment. I truly hated that weekend, but I am thankful because I think it made us both realize how we felt about one another. The next week we made a commitment to one another. We said the ‘L’ word that rhymes with dove, and we never looked back.

On June 18, 2013 Jordan proposed at the first place we had ever known the other existed. Back then we did not even know each other’s names and I was just a weird girl with an even weirder testimony, but it got his attention and he started noticing me. The day he got down on one knee and I said yes, God sent a rainbow in the sky. I truly believe it was a promise from God that He would be with this union. I know that is not what rainbows mean, but it was wonderful either way!

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Seven months later, the day we had been waiting on finally came. Wedding bells were ringing .on February 1, 2014 It had snowed just days before, but Saturday was beautiful! I really just floated through the morning of getting ready, talking with my bridesmaids, and taking pictures. I was nervous as anything as my dad led me down the aisle to meet this man I had already committed my life to months before. We stood in front of our family and friends to share this commitment with them.

After the reception, as we drove to Atlanta to spend the night in our hotel before catching an early plane, I felt awful. The wedding day should have been glorious and one of the best days of my life, but I was just relieved it was done. I felt guilty. We talked as we drove, and as always my man of wisdom reassured me. This day was not for us, it was for others to see what we had already done. In my heart I was already His and he was already mine that day we first talked about getting married. But today we made that commitment public and we celebrated with family and friends, and for that I was thankful because we had so many who cared about us and loved us.

When I committed to marry this man I knew he would be going into ministry. I wanted that for him and me. We were simply waiting for God to call us to a church so we could begin our ministry. We had been helping at a church together the whole time we dated and were engaged, and now we could do it together at our own place. Job opportunity after opportunity was opened to us. We have done countless interviews and attended churches the past few years. Yet, every door as been slammed in our face. Whether it was because we were not the right fit or because we felt like it was not where God was sending us, we have been told no an awful lot. Both of us have degrees in Christian Studies and both of us are called into ministry, yet we have not found that ministry yet. We pray God has a plan for us. We pray the right doors will open and we pray we will be ready and willing whenever that day comes. But in the mean time we are serving where God has us in whatever capacity we can.

Then six months into marriage God blessed us with Abigail. Our journey with her has been long and hard, but it has also been rewarding and joyful. Having a child rocks your marriage no matter what, but having a special needs child rocks it even harder. Most people I have met with special needs children are older or have multiple children and it is their second or third or later babies that have special needs. But we were hit with it from the get go. We knew nothing about kids so for us Abigail is our normal.

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But through it all I have a man that is committed to me. I have a husband who loves me and loves his little girl with all his heart. I have a man who is willing to lead us. He is my strong rock, my wise counselor and my listening ear. I would not be making it today without him. I would have given up a long time ago, but he pulls me through my pity parties and convinces me to keep running the race. I am usually the positive one, but just last night he laid beside me reminding me of all the good in our lives when all I could see was the bad.

We have only known each other for five years, but it feels like forever. Everyday I see little ways that we are becoming one. We are starting to think the same, and know what the other is thinking. We share some similar hobbies now, things I would have never done prior to knowing Jordan. We know what the other one likes and what they do not like. I cannot wait to get to know this man more and more as the years continue. He is my best friend, my love and my other half. I am thankful Jordan asked me to be his. I am thankful I have him. And I will always stand on that commitment we made all those years ago. He is my one and only, my forever and always. I could not imagine doing life without my man right beside me. Thanks for picking me Jordan Lidh!

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When all you have is God

Yesterday we started going to a music class for toddlers in our area. Abigail loves music and our therapist thought this would be a good way for Abigail to have some social interaction with children her age. We showed up and the teacher was terrific! We sat in the circle with about seven other toddlers and their mothers. Well the class got started and in true toddler fashion there was chaos! Kids were running everywhere. Moms were trying to calm screaming boys. And on top of it all there was musical shakers and drums being played. I honestly did not think Abigail was going to make it, but she did. She never jumped or cried. She also did not move a lot, but she sat and watched all of this going on around her. I was so proud of her! Then a mother of a particularly rowdy boy sat beside me and said, “Wow, I wish we could switch kids. She is so calm!” I simply gave her a sympathetic smile and kept singing. How could I tell this perfect stranger that this was huge for my daughter to not be scared to death right now? How could I explain Abigail is not calm, she just cannot move? How could I explain that I wish my daughter was running around and singing on the top of her lungs?  How do I explain that for us to be here with her child is a big step for us? I couldn’t, so I simply smiled and kept trying to keep Abigail calm.

I love my little girl! She is beautiful and wonderful and such a hard worker. She has come so far, and I know she is a fighter. But days like today I wonder why could she not be normal. She has no idea that anything is wrong with her, but she will never be able to play with kids her age. She will always be behind in some way. Having a special needs child is hard and it is lonely. But it is the not knowing for me that drives me crazy. Not knowing what her future holds. The unknown is scary.

No one likes the unknown. No one likes waiting. Whether it is waiting to hear back from a job interview or waiting to hear news about a love one   waiting and not knowing are hard. And we have been in this period of our lives for over two years now. I have asked God why many times. Why us? Why Abigail? I have asked for answers. I struggle with many things, so I have asked for more faith because that is what living in the unknown takes. Tried and true faith.

I do not like faith. I do not like it because to have faith it means you often cannot see. You have to rely on another to guide and lead you. I like to be in charge. I like to be independent and alone. I do not like asking for help and it is hard for me to trust other people. But that is what God requires of us. He requires total obedience and little steps of faith daily. He requires complete surrender and complete trust in Him. But most days I just feel like that dad in the New Testament who cried out to Jesus, “I believe but help me in my unbelief.”

I believe lots of things. I believe God is good. I believe He is love – not that He loves us (He does that too). But that He simply is the embodiment of love itself. I believe God is just, sovereign, merciful and full of grace. I believe He has made One Way for us to receive eternal life through His Son, Jesus. I believe He is holy. I believe God is who the Bible says He is. But I question His ways. I doubt His goodness. I do not understand His purposes. That is where I need faith. When I have a hundred questions that cannot be answered I must have faith in what I do know. And what I do know is that God is the God of gods and King of kings. He has this whole world in His hands and in the end He is the victor. He has defeated sin, death and Hell itself and I will follow Him no matter what. Because while my faith may be small, my God is big!!

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Abigail’s Fear

I am not sure what a typical two-year old is afraid of. Maybe the dark or having to eat veggies. But Abigail is not scared of much. She doesn’t understand that falling could hurt her. She doesn’t understand the concepts of sharp or hot or dangerous. Thankfully she cannot really get into anything so that makes our life easier. We always joke about one day having to actually baby proof our house, and hopefully that day will come.

But Abigail’s biggest fear is children. Kids are unpredictable and fast. Abigail does not have time to process their movements so she gets scared. Abigail’s processing time is S-L-O-W. She bumps her head and it takes her a literal minute to process the pain before she starts crying. While adults know to approach slowly and are usually relatively calm, kids are not. Every time a child approaches Abigail she instantly tenses up and starts shaking. If they are brave enough to touch her, she begins to cry. Loud noises or fast movement, like jumping on the couch beside her, can set off the waterworks too. Children are just too much for her.

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All of us…it’s hard to take a picture with three littles. Do you see Abigail’s face?

We spent this last week with my parents and they watch my two nephews during the day. Benjamin will be two in November and Jackson is about to be 6 months. I figured she would go into hysterics with the two boys. The first day my mom brought in the boys while we were eating breakfast. Abigail cried about five times while trying to eat. She is used to quiet because it is often just me and her, and two-year old boys are not quiet. Every time Benjamin brought her a toy or ran by her chair she would start shaking and crying. But lo and behold, after she realized Benjamin wasn’t a complete threat to her life she actually sat on the floor and allowed him to pass toys to her. It was a beautiful sight.

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Benjamin and Abigail passing toys back and forth. Yes, her hand is touching his. It’s a miracle!!

Then later Benjamin thought it would be good to give Abigail some love and that extra kiss was just too much. Abigail went into total meltdown. She even cried when little Jackson’s foot touched her as they laid beside each other.

Children. They are scary sometimes. They are loud. They are crazy! But Abigail just needs her a friend so she can realize children really aren’t too bad. I hate she cannot play with other children. She cannot run or sit. She does not understand playtime. For her playing is just emptying out a toy basket and handing you things she finds. Abigail still does not actually play with her toys. But one day she will have to go to school with these things called children. She will spend hours in a room with them. I pray by the time she starts preschool she will be more accustomed to other children. I know we have a long ways to go to get her to realize children aren’t scary. But the more she is around them the better. So here is to conquering fears, meeting children and having more play dates!!!

**And a quick shout out to Benjamin for playing so well with Abigail, and for loving her despite all her tears! We had a great time with you last week!!

My God Story on Prayer

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This picture was taken on this day exactly three years ago. There isn’t anything too fancy or exciting about it. Before having Abigail my mom and I made it our annual mother/daughter time to go see Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer at one of their conferences nearby. Side note, we are going to start that tradition again this November and I’m so excited about our little weekend together full of encouragement!! But this was our trip to Warner Robbins, GA to see Priscilla share with a local church there. We knew no one and honestly I have no idea what Priscilla even talked about that weekend.

No, this picture isn’t about the conference itself. It’s about one small moment that happened there that will stick with me forever. During one of the breaks we were just sitting in our chairs talking with each other and a lady who had been sitting a few chairs down from me came over and sat beside me. She asked where we were from and the get to know you questions. But it’s what she said next that amazed me. This lady’s name was Nina. That’s all I know. I don’t remember where she is from, but I do remember her face. She looked right at me and told me that she was going to be praying for Jordan and me. I had just told her a had gotten married in February so I was only 6 months married at this point. She said she just felt the need to come tell me that everything was going to be okay and that no matter what we faced the Lord would be with us because He had some big plans in store for us. She promised to keep Jordan and me in her prayers in the coming days and then she went back to her own seat. We never saw her or talked to her again, and the whole conversation was less than 10 minutes. But Nina did something amazing that day, she was the first to pray for our family of three.

The conference was August 22, 2014 from the doctor’s calculations Abigail was probably conceived around August 18th, but we would not find out I was pregnant until Jordan’s birthday on September 8. So, as this complete stranger was telling me something was going to happen in my life and she would be praying for Jordan and I, neither of us even knew a tiny miracle was already forming inside of me. Nina was the first to pray for my baby whether she knew it or not. She listened to the prompting of God to come talk to a total stranger and God allowed her to be the first person in my life to pray over Abigail.

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Our twenty week sonogram when we found out she was a girl. We instantly knew her name would be Abigail Paige, the apple of our eye.

We have had countless people praying for Abigail and for us, and we are so appreciative for every prayer, kind word and encouragement that has been poured over us. But I am thankful God still speaks to the hearts of His people. I’m thankful Nina listened and came over to pray for us. And today I hope that you and I listen for God’s still, small promptings and that when He reminds us to pray for someone we will take the time to pray. You may have no idea what the person needs or is going through, but if God puts someone on your heart it’s for a reason. I had no idea I was even pregnant then, but God knew that little baby inside me needed all the prayers she could get so three years ago He sent us Nina to pray for us! Our God is good.

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***This made me giggle. The two hashtags I used on Instagram when I posted this picture were ‘Mommie time’ and ‘ready to be filled.’ Maybe I did know something was coming hahaha

Second Round

We have not been through as much with Abigail as a typical special needs family would have been, medically speaking. Abigail is healthy and happy, and there is not a single thing wrong with her except she is behind developmentally. We have not had to go to the hospital with her. But in December 2015, when Abigail was just barely 7 months old, we went to Children’s hospital to get an MRI done. The doctors were concerned that the connections from the back of her brain were not functioning as they ought. Her vision was awful back then as she could only look up and not track objects.

I still remember that day well. Abigail had to fast, so we woke her up early to get one last feeding in thinking she may nap in the two plus hour trip to the hospital. Well she did not nap. We were in Atlanta traffic with a tired, hungry baby and two stressed out, worried parents. We arrived and somehow got directed through the parking deck and down to the radiology department with enough bags to spend four nights at the hospital (I tend to over prepare for things).

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Abigail getting ready to get her IV in. Yes, they give them tiny hospital robes to wear!

Abigail was still pretty happy for all she had already been through so that made us feel better. But then they came to put her IV in, and it quickly went downhill. Because she had not ate or drank her already tiny veins had shrunk even more and the experienced nurse tried and failed about three times before finding her vein. By the first poke, my drained nerves could not handle my crying infant. There was already too many people in the crowded room, so I just stepped outside before I yelled at the nurse and tried to pull her off my screaming child. I boo-hooed like a baby by myself in that hallway. I remember a sweet nurse walking by and handing me a tissue.

The nurses left the room and said we could tell her bye before they sedated her. By this time I was already ready to leave. But I put my big girl panties on and hugged Abigail goodbye, telling her it would all be okay. Jordan and I stood on either side of her as they put the sedation medicine in her IV. It took about 30 seconds for her to go under, and they wheeled her out saying they would not leave her side. We were left in an empty room, while our unconscious infant was wheeled into the screening room without us. Oh we both cried like babies!!

It took over an hour for them to do the test, so Jordan and I got out of there and went and had lunch to help us calm down. Then we came back and waited for them to bring her back. She came back on the gurney half asleep, but doing great. They let me pick her up and nurse her and I was the happiest mom to have my baby back in my arms. We soon left and returned home. The results came a few days later saying everything looked great and we had nothing to worry about.

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How they brought her back to us. It looks much worse than what it was, but she looked so small and pathetic as she was still under.

Then today our neurologist told us that she wants to schedule another MRI at Children’s within the next two months. She wants to see how Abigail’s brain is developing and make sure nothing new has shown up. But all I could think about is how awful that day almost two years ago was and I do not want to go back. We were naive then and did not realize how emotional the process would be, but now we know.

We know we could be going through a lot worse. We know Abigail will be fine. We know it is just general sedation and a quick MRI. We know the Children’s staff will be great with her. But we also know it will be a hard day. It will be a day full of tears for everyone. And we know we do not want to see a two year old experiencing two MRIs in her lifetime. But this is what is best for her, and the only way the doctor knows the proceed. So reluctantly we will take out tired, hungry toddler to radiology whenever the date is set and we will see if they can hopefully find us some much wanted answers! But even if this test yet again reveals nothing, we will be thankful for Abigail’s health, progress and that she is apart of our little family!!

Building a Community

What an adorable girl you have.

She is just beautiful.

What a happy girl.

Her smile is the cutest.

That hair!

These are just some comments we receive from strangers while we are out and about with Abigail. She is too cute for her own good. I tell Jordan all the time that I do not know how we made such a cutie. Her blonde hair, blue eyes, contagious smile, and now her little pink glasses make an adorable combination. You see, Abigail looks completely normal. Nobody with would think twice that she has a developmental delay. Often people are shocked, or they just do not understand, that she is not able to sit or stand on her own.

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Our beautiful girl!!

I guess most people consider special needs children to look or act a certain way. But special needs covers a wide variety of conditions from speech delays to the autism spectrum to severe cases of cerebral palsy. And that does not even cover the other thousands of syndromes and genetic disorders that are known today. People are so quick to judge the little boy in the wheelchair or the little girl with Down’s syndrome, but they do not realize that children like Abigail have some of the exact same issues.

I have to watch myself when we are out and about because I catch myself staring at families that have disabled or special needs children. Not in judgment, but simply because I can relate with them and I want to encourage them. But they take one look at Abigail and they would never guess that we were the same in any way. The other day we were in the check out line of Wal-Mart, and a mom and her two daughters got behind us. The one daughter was in a wheelchair, so I immediately wanted to talk to her and make a connection. Thankfully, she commented on how cute Abigail was and I was able to talk about how we just recently received her glasses and found my lead in to say, “Yes, we are alike!” Turns out her daughter’s and Abigail’s stories were quite similar in the beginning. Her daughter did not walk until she was four, she has no diagnoses, and they go to therapy too. It was wonderful to make that small connection, and I wish we could have kept talking, but it is hard to do that in a check out line.

I live for these connections with other special needs parents. They are people who can relate because we have all journeyed down similar paths. My passions are slowly being molded to start a special needs ministry for parents in some way. I have always wanted to be in ministry since God called me in 2010. I always figured I would be apart of a women’s ministry of some kind, but know I feel more and more led to special needs. It is where I am in life as a mother of a special needs child myself. And yes, while our children may all be experiencing their own struggles and triumphs, all special needs parents share a common bond. We are all struggling to find our way through emotions, bills, insurance companies, appointments, and still raising our kids to thrive in their environment. It is a lot, and we need each other. So my daughter may be the cutest thing in the world, and look like she has is all together but her mama needs those other parents to understand that I need them and we need each other. So today I am praying that God works in and through myself, my community, and that He can use me to bless other special needs parents in some way great or small.

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20 Facts about Our Family

I have been blogging for over a year now, and I thought it was time to write a little on the lighter side tonight. Here are some random facts about our family of three. Thanks for for your support and for reading along!!

1) Our last name always throws people off. I am forever spelling it for people over the phone. L-I-D as in David- H as in Henry. I had no clue how to say it when I met Jordan in college. I had to ask him. I always remembered it because as my husband Jordan would lead me. Jordan sometimes will tell people it’s spelled L-E-E-D. It’s a tough one for only being four letters. But we answer to anything, mostly we are the ‘Lids’ and that’s ok.

2) We rely a lot on our extended family. We are blessed to have two families that truly love and support us 100%. They help us out with Abigail by watching her, loving on her and providing for any and all needs she may have. They provide a roof for our head and often treat us to dinners or new clothes. I tell Jordan all the time how spoiled we are. But we are very thankful we have great families that love us and want to take care of us because so often we wouldn’t be able to do it alone.

3) We would love to own a dog. I think we would both lean to a lab of some kind. But the house we live in has no yard, and I couldn’t do that to any dog much less a bigger dog. But maybe one day because having a dog would be so fun and I think Abigail would grow to love him even if she would be quaking in fright at the beginning.

4) One of mine and Jordan’s dream anniversary spots is Washington DC. We truly are simply and nerds at heart. But we went on a trip to the capital just months after we were married with a group from our college and we loved it!! We would love to go
back one anniversary and explore on our own.

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5) I like to sleep in and recently Abigail’s schedule has changed so she sleeps in until 9 most mornings and as long as Abigail is sleeping in I am too. I know people say you should wake up before your kids and get things done or have me time, but I prefer pillow time.

6) I recently got a library card in our new county. I LOVE to read and this is a whole new world of books to read. I found I love historical fiction, and now I stay up late reading. Maybe that’s why I like to sleep in.

7) I secretly love trying to rock Abigail asleep. She has never been a cuddly baby. She hated being rocked and being placed in a carrier even as a new born. But now I try to keep her up later so I can rock her to sleep and hold her for just a minute before putting her in her crib.

8) Abigail is getting huge!! She is outgrowing her crib, her seats, and her clothes. She is heavy and I cannot carry her as long as I used to. She would be so tall if she would stand up. It’s hard to believe how big she has gotten.

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9) We eat the same thing almost everyday. It’s just easier because I l ow what I like and I know what Abigail likes. She loves fruit and carbs and so do I. I literally eat a whole box of Suddenly Salad all by myself at lunch. Yes, carbs are my friends. I’ve considered dieting many times, but you only live once and I love food!! I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to diet.

10) I have never been a runner. In college I tried to ‘run’ in the evenings. I have started the Couch to 5K about 4 times, and never finished. Running just isn’t my thing. But I love to walk. I like my walking buddy and we spend a lot of time walking in the park and in our neighborhood.

11) Speaking of walking – I usually walk so I can get miles and catch Pokémon on Pokémon Go. My husband got me hooked when the app first came out last year. And I haven’t looked back. I love playing!!! And the best part is that it’s like mine and Jordan’s thing to do. We have had many a date night going around and catching Pokémon. And it’s a nice family outing where we can get out and do something together. So call us nerds, but it’s one of my favorite things to do.

12) Jordan and I always try to spend time with just us everyday. It’s tough because he is on a weird work schedule. He works retail and his hours change from day to day and he always has different days off. I can never keep up with it. But we like to watch our tv shows, movies, play board games, and play minecraft. Yes, I did say monecraft. It’s another great game to play. Our land is called ‘The Loveshack.’ Jordan would kill me if he knew I told you all that, but I named it for us. I love spending time side by side building a fantasy world and killing zombies with him.

13) Sometimes I don’t do all Abigail’s exercises with her. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I just want to snuggle with her. But our favorite thing to do is in the evening we lay down side by side and we just laugh and tickle and snuggle. It’s wonderful and always a highlight of my day!!

14) I’ve always wanted to be an elementary school librarian. In college God called me to ministry and I changed my major to Christian Studies. I then got married and we had Abigail. I now stay at home full-time with her. I know I am called to ministry and I am searching for what God would have me to do. But for now my ministry is to our daughter and the families we come in contact with everyday.

15) I love that my husband literally beams when people say Abigail looks like him. He eats it up!!! He is the best Daddy and he loves that girl so much.  His love for her makes me happy. Because I know she will need her daddy as she grows!

16) One of my dreams would be to adopt a special needs child. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but we are both open to adoption and I know children with special needs need to be loved too. Maybe one day my dream will be a reality but for now I will keep learning all I can about caring for special needs children.

17) My favorite room in the house has always been the bathroom. It might be a weird pick, but I take my showers at night at the very end of the day. It’s just my time to unwind and not have to worry about a single thing.

18) My favorite thing about being married is that I get to live with my best friend. I love that even after just 3.5 years of marriage we are pretty good at knowing what the other one is thinking and feeling. And we always think the same way about big decisions (or at least we have so far). Is our marriage perfect? Not by any means, but we know we are together no matter what and I am thankful to live life with my best friend!!

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19) Yes, we would love to have more children. People ask us that a lot. Of course, we are also scared to have more. We have no clue what Abigail’s quality of life will be and we are scared to have another child like Abigail or in even worse condition than she is. We have been told the chances of us having another child with special needs is slim to none, but obviously no one can guaranty anything. But maybe when the time is right, God will bless us with a second child!!

20) I love my family!! Family is very important to me. I think God designed families to honor Him and he used a family to bring salvation to the world. I am thankful my husband picked me five years ago. I am thankful we had our beautiful little girl ,and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our family as we continue to grow in the years to come!!