Wonderfully Made

“I don’t know how much he understands about God. But I’ll never stop telling him that he is fearfully and wonderfully made. That his life brings glory to God. That yes, Jesus loves him.” I saw this caption on Facebook one day. A fellow special needs mom had posted it about her son. What simple truths to be instilling in our children. Truths I want Abigail to be reminded of daily!

First, that God made her perfectly. He might have spent a little more time on Abigail. No doctor may be able to tell us why she isn’t ‘normal’. But she was created perfectly – the way God planned. I wouldn’t change a thing about her. Her specialness and uniqueness only add to her vibrant little personality. Abigail is gorgeous. That perfect blonde hair and endless blue eyes. Her joyful spirit and contagious smile. It all adds to her wonderful-ness. I pray she always knows how beautiful she is and finds people who bring out her beauty. Not only on the outside, but I want her to grow beautiful on the inside too with a heart full of joy and an attitude of servant hood. For God did make her wonderfully!

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My beauty

Secondly, that her life has purpose. God created us to glorify Him and to fellowship with Him. No matter her ability in life. No matter what she can or can’t say. No matter if she’s valedictorian or barely graduates high school. No matter if she lives with us her entire life or she marries and has an amazing career. No matter what she does, I want Abigail to know she matters and she was created with purpose. Right now I am telling her story, but soon she will write her own. She is already a small light in this dark world. She brings such joy to people. She brings hope. She brings life. She brings encouragement. She brings passion. Her story is amazing, and her purpose is being laid as you read this. This girl will move mountains!

Last, that she is loved. Not just by me and her family and friends, but she is loved unconditionally by a loving Father. Jordan is an amazing father. He loves his girl so much. At just a day old Abigail broke out with sores on her body. The neonatal doctors came to our room and took our hours old baby for blood work and tests. Jordan had to go with her since I could not. He came back, closed the door to our room and simply cried on my shoulder. It was the first (and almost only) time I have seen my husband cry. He said it was awful watching them draw blood from Abigail. He loved her when she was hours old and that love has only grown more since. But as much as he loves Abigail, she has a Heavenly Father that loves her more. It’s hard for me to fathom more love than the love I have for Abigail. But I want her to know no matter what happens to me and Daddy that Someone else out there loves her, and He has her in the shadow of His wings. That’s actually her life verse I picked for her while I was pregnant. Psalm 17:8, “Keep me the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Jesus loves her this I know!

 

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They were the best napping buddies. Twins from the beginning!

Abigail may not be able to understand anything about God. She may not comprehend salvation. But Abigail can understand that she is beautiful. That she has purpose. And that she is loved. Three foundational truths every single person deserves to know. Not just children, but all of us. These simple truths are hard some days. Even I need the reminder that I am beautiful, that I have a purpose and that I am loved. As humans we are so quick to see the worst in ourselves and others. But today I am here to remind us all that we are all made wonderfully. I pray you know these simple truths today and I pray my precious little girl grows up with these truths implanted in her heart. Abigail is made wonderfully. She has an amazing purpose. And she is so loved! And so are you!!

 

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Carry Me

I carried her inside of me for nine months. I loved being pregnant. Well, after I got past the wanting to die because I was so sick part of it then I loved it. I loved feeling her inside me and watching her wiggle around in there. I really had no problems except for being sick the first trimester. I just remember wondering what Abigail would look like the whole pregnancy. I don’t think either of us expected her to have blonde hair and blue eyes, but I’m so glad she got her daddy’s traits!!

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The day before I was induced. May 7, 2015 – last day pregnant

The first time I had to carry Abigail was hours after she was born. The hospital we had Abigail in transferred you upstairs to a mother/baby room after you finished in the labor and delivery room. They put me in a wheelchair and Jordan handled all our bags. (Our 15 bags we brought because we were so overly prepared – oops!) Then they placed that seven pound little baby in my arms – all swaddled so perfectly as any nurse in that ward can do! I honestly could think nothing else but ‘don’t drop her, don’t drop her’. I was so exhausted from giving birth I didn’t think my arms could hold her much longer. The trip upstairs lasted an eternity with me thinking my ‘hold on to this baby’ mantra the whole way. But we made it. My arms kept her safe the whole way. And now I laugh thinking about how I thought 7 pounds was heavy.
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The awful wheelchair trip. I was so tired!!

Now I still carry Abigail everywhere. I carry her to breakfast and then back upstairs to get dressed. I carry her to and from the car. I carry her so often that I don’t even think about it being odd to have to carry a three year old everywhere you go. It’s amazing how your body adapts to what you need. I am a weakling. I am not scared to admit it because it’s the truth. I have never really worked out a day in my life and I am truly okay if I never do until I die. I love to walk and swim, but the thought of working out sounds awful to me. But I have carried Abigail A LOT in the past three years (and I haven’t even dropped her once – knock on wood.) I have gotten some arm cramps, but my body has slowly adapted to carrying her around. Thankfully she gains weight slowly so my arms have time to adjust to her weight. And I am thankful my little girl is only on the 9th percentile for weight. Could you imagine if she was in the 90th? Maybe God made her small on purpose! That’s what I like to believe at least. Abigail’s weight is different than a normal toddler’s because she doesn’t support herself much at all. She is getting better, but most days she is like carrying around a sack of flour – literally. There’s no help. No give and take. It’s all of me carrying all of her. If you ask her to hold on she will kind of hug your neck for a few seconds before simply just letting go. She is just too trusting. She knows that you won’t drop her. Abigail fully relies on you to do all the work and get her where she needs to go.
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Carrying her in for a doctor’s appointment.

A lot of people say how I’m a good mom or how I always seem to be happy. I guess a lot of people wonder how I can have such a great attitude about having a child with special needs. Maybe people wonder how I can be so confident when we know so little as to why Abigail is the way she is. It’s because, like Abigail, I am also being carried. Full reliance on God has been my motto since college, and it hasn’t failed me yet. But I struggle with it daily! Oh I wish I had a childlike faith. I wish I could be as free and innocent as Abigail. But one thing I do know is that no matter what this life may throw at me, I am being carried. God won’t ever forsake me or make me doubt His goodness. He is Lord and His ways are better than my ways.
I am reminded of that famous poem that used to be so popular, “Footprints in the Sand.” I will post it below for those who need a reminder. But it is very true that in your lowest moments, God is always there. He never promises our lives will be without sorrow, heartbreak and pain. But God promises over and over in the Bible that He would never leave us or forsake us. God taught me a little object lesson once and it has always stuck with me. God always shines brighter when it is darker just as the stars always seem to increase when you get away from the lights. The darkness is often scary and very lonely, but God can show off in the darkness. When you can’t see to guide yourself then it’s time to let God guide you. When you don’t know what step to take, let God lead you. And when you don’t know how you can make it, let God carry you. When you can rely fully on Someone else then all those fears, doubts and worries seem to handle themselves. God won’t ever drop you. He won’t ever let go. Cling to Him, cry to Him, and find comfort in Him as He carries you.
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So glad I get to carry this sweet thing! We love each other so much!!!

Yes, my arms are often full! Between carrying Abigail and her bag and whatever else we may need that day it becomes a juggling act. But I love that my arms are full with a little girl who I can call mine. And God loves when we come to Him too. I know I can carry Abigail better because He has shown me how to be carried. I can love better because He has shown me how to love. And I can be the mother He has called me to be because I find my strength in Him. I am not perfect by any means, and I struggle with these truths daily, but I am learning that dependency on God is good and I am thankful for His never ending presence and His arms of love that carry me onward even when I don’t know what is ahead. At least I am being carried by Someone who will always take me where I need to go.
Footprints in the Sand

“One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

The Gift of Motherhood

As Mother’s Day has come and gone this past weekend this quote has been on my mind, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.” I have heard this quote more times than I could count! But it applies so well to my motherhood. I was not equipped to be a mother. I am selfish, independent, stubborn, quiet and clueless about children. I did not really want children. I knew we weren’t ready (who is?). But everyday God equips me and gives me the strength the face another day.

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Motherhood is about seeing the joy of your child as they explore this world!

When Abigail was a newborn, I literally just turned into a robot. Feed the baby. Change the baby. Get baby asleep. Eat something myself. I don’t remember a lot about those first few months. On top of all the stress a newborn brings, we were also discovering that our baby wasn’t quite normal. Abigail’s first year of life was quite a blur with all we had going on. I never felt like her mom. I was simply a glorified babysitter. I didn’t feel like a mother. But one thing I did know was that I loved my little girl, and that was enough.

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It’s about letting them explore new things!

It has taken me quite awhile to learn that motherhood itself is a gift. A precious, wonderful gift. I would not trade being a mother for anything. Since we have moved to this area I have become a full-time mom. Abigail is my job. She is my buddy. She is my coworker. She is often the only human I see some days. I love my little girl my than I ever thought possible. She lights up my life. Honestly, she is my life. I don’t do a lot apart from her. If people talk to me, it’s about Abigail. Sometimes I need a little me time here and there. But I treasure my gift of motherhood. I am thankful God have me Abigail. She is perfect in every way. I truly wouldn’t change a thing about her. She teaches me so much, and makes me a better person. My gift may come in a different box than everyone else’s, but she is perfectly and wonderfully made. And I am so thankful to be able to celebrate the gift of motherhood because of her!

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Comforting them in their time of need (and surgeries).

But I still have so much to learn about motherhood. I strive to be the best, but God has been speaking to me and calling me to more. Sunday morning I surrendered fully to His calling of motherhood on my life. Our pastor brought a wonderful word that morning about Hannah. He said something that just spoke volumes to me. “God’s grace is absent at certain times of our lives to bring us to a place of dedication.” My own version would read something like, “Maybe God gives us difficulties (a special needs child) to bring us to a place of full surrender.” But then he made the point that God doesn’t only call us to fully surrender, God also calls us to fully exalt. Even in the hard times – the times it feels like God’s grace is absent. We are called to worship and exalt the King of kings and Lord of lords. So that’s what I want to do. I want to dedicate my motherhood to God. I want to surrender it fully to God. Full reliance has always been my motto since college. And lately I have forgotten it. I have taken on loads of things that aren’t mine. I have forgotten to rely on God. I have forgotten how big of a God we serve. I have forgotten to exalt Him. But on this past Mother’s Day 2018 I pray I can be the mother God has called me to be because I have first surrendered my all to Him. I have first sought His face. I have fully relied on His strength. I have dedicated my life to Him. I love being a mom to this precious little girl, and I just want to be the best mom I could possible be. I can’t do it alone, and I am thankful I do not have to. I am thankful that God has given me this precious life to raise, and I am blessed to be her mama!

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Always watching and copying me – even when I am attempting to do crunches.

My Hope Restored – Part 2

A year ago a blogged a beautiful story about how God renews us; how He gives us grace and restores our hope. You can read it here. A lot of times Abigail’s situation seems hopeless. Even as I write this we have given up on our doctors. The geneticist just said they could no longer help us, and our neurologist has come to a dead end we believe. We are seeking other doctors to go to, but for now no one seems to know how to help Abigail. It is frustrating, confusion and, as a parent, it makes you feel helpless because you cannot do anything for your child. But a year ago I wrote this, “But these last few months I have come to realize that if I do not think positively about Abigail’s situation, and give her the encouragement she needs than who will? God has shown me that being my daughter’s biggest cheerleader is my calling for now.”

What an encouragement for my soul today! That is why I have come to love blogging because it is like keeping journals. You can always look back to see God’s hand working in your life. So many other special needs parents who are much wiser than me have told me that I am my child’s best (and sometimes only) advocate. I have to fight for her because so often the medical field and even the school systems do not care for your child.

These last few nights that I have been putting Abigail to bed I have been whispering her worth to her. It makes me cry every time. But even if she does not get it I want my daughter to know she is smart. She is worthy. She is beautiful. I want her to know we are proud of her. I want her to keep fighting and stay determined. I want her to know she can do great things. I want her to know as much as mommy and daddy love her there is Someone who loves her even more. I want her to know that God has a plan for her, and she is capable of bringing Him glory even now.

These moments with her mean so much to me. I love being able to stay home with Abigail and have fun with her and take care of her. I am often way too protective and stuck in my ways, but I would not trade these precious days with anything. My little girl has such potential to do great things. My dreams for her may have changed, but my hope in her is higher than ever! Everyday I see her improve and grow stronger. She is understanding so much now and she has the potential to do incredible things in her future.

So even in the face of all we have against us, my hope is being renewed. I am cheering for my daughter and I want her to know she has so many other cheerleaders too! So many of you reading this blog have encouraged me in ways you won’t even know. I just wanted to say thank you for following along with us in our journey. Thank you for all your encouraging comments. Thank you for loving my little girl from near and far. Thank you for being there! And watch out because I truly believe there are some exciting new things about to happen in this little girl’s life!

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Five Prayers for My Daughter

Abigail’s future is a blank slate, and our hopes for her probably look different than an average two year old’s parents’ dreams would be. While most parents pray that their toddlers grow up to be influential, honorable citizens we are over here just hoping her legs will one day work and she will walk. But even though we have no idea what Abigail’s future holds for her I still have five specific prayers for her that are constantly running through my head at any given moment. But I especially pray these prayers over her as she sleeps. There is just something special about sleeping children that makes you know that good things will come.

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Announcing we were having a girl – our Christmas present that year!

1.) I pray she is a servant. I know that’s a weird one, but it’s why we named her Abigail Paige. Her name has servant written all over it, and I only pray she lives up (or should I say down?) to her name. There was an Abigail in the Bible. She saved her husband and family by serving David and being humble in the future king’s presence. And Paige literally means ‘one who serves.’ I want Abigail to be a servant in a world that scorns that idea. I want her to seek humility and serve all she comes in contact with. Oh Lord, let her have a servant’s heart.

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Working hard and getting stronger everyday!

2) I pray for physical and emotional strength for Abigail. She is such a motivated little thing and is so strong in her own way. I pray her strength allows her to go a long ways in life. I pray her little body continues to get stronger day by day. Those muscles are our biggest problems and I think they will continue to get stronger as we continue to work with her. But not only physical strength, but Abigail will need emotional strength too. She’s going to have to overcome a lot as she gets older. I’m sure kids will stare at her or even say things to her as she gets older and goes to school. She has the possibility of being in a wheelchair her whole life. That’s prime staring material. And I know as she becomes more and more aware she will realize that kids are running around and playing and she cannot physically keep up with them. Oh she will need lots of prayers for strength and determination as she conquers all these things.

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Even when she looks different than everyone else, she is still beautiful!

3) I also pray that Abigail remembers she is beautiful and perfect just the way God made her. I’m not sure why God made her so weird, and why her body doesn’t work like normal. But she is still perfect and sweet and I pray she doesn’t look at all she can’t do or compare herself to others. She has so much personality and she can do so much but she just has to remember that. I pray Jordan and I always encourage her to be happy in her own skin and that she is beautiful, smart and important just he way she is.

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This is one of those pictures to put in Abigail’s senior yearbook, but look at that happiness!

4) Abigail has always had such a joyful little personality. She is our sunshine because she brightens up the room. Our physical therapist always says she has an amazing sense of humor. And her laughter is contagious. I pray that this joy sticks with her throughout life. So many people lose their joy as life happens around them. Abigail might have a lot against her, but I want her joy to remain.

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Abigail playing with her cousin. Hopefully they will be lifelong friends.

5) The last prayer is a little odd probably but still a very dear prayer to me. I pray for the people in Abigail’s life to be a benefit and support for her. I want to find a doctor that will support us and help us seek the best for Abigail. I want her therapists to continue to love her and help us learn how to help her best. (Thankfully we have been blessed with amazing therapists that have done this so far and I know it will continue!!) I pray that her teachers will help her grow and will be patient with her as they see her potential. I pray for friends to come along in her life and have fun and can socialize with her. I pray these friends can support one another and live each other unconditionally. I pray for Abigail’s best friend to come along and be bosom buddies as Anne of Green Gables would say because everyone needs a bosom buddy.

These are my top five prayers for Abigail. Of course I pray we find answers one day. I pray we find the right school. I even think about Abigail’s future mate, but honestly I don’t know if she will be married right now. She may always be a home body with her mom and dad at this rate. That’s why praying for future things is hard. We just don’t know.

The one thing I don’t think to pray for is healing. I sooo want Abigail to walk one day. I want her to be a normal kid and run around and talk and sing. But there’s nothing wrong with Abigail. She isn’t broken or messed up. Everyday she progresses forward and that’s what I pray for – progress. Quick fixes are not in our future. Could Abigail wake up tomorrow and walk? Yes, that’s a possibility but more likely we will build to that point if she is capable of walking. Abigail’s progress may be slow and frustrating at times. But my goodness, when she learns a new skill it makes you want to get up and do a jig. We celebrate the small victories here and I like that. Yes, we want our daughter to be normal, but I wouldn’t trade this process for the world. Abigail’s disability is not only shaping her into the person she is becoming, it is shaping me into a new person too. So today these are the prayers I pray for Abigail!

What are some prayers that you pray for your children?

 

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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When Life is Hard

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Abigail has been wearing her glasses for about a week now.  She is as cute as a button in them, but they are not to help her see. Yes, they have a slight prescription for her far-sightedness but the glasses are mainly to try to help strengthen those eye muscles. Abigail’s eyes are actually what began this long, on-going process of finding what is going on with her. At two months her vision alerted the pediatrician something was not right, and we were sent to a pediatric ophthalmologist. For about her first year of life Abigail constantly looked up. Her eyes have fixed themselves, but she still gets cross eyed at times and her eyes are still shaky. Her eye muscles, as they are in every part of her body, are very weak. So the glasses are here to hopefully help that. We are supposed to wear them as much as possible. We normally get about six to eight hours a day in them. And honestly she does a lot better with them than I would ever imagine. When we first put them on on the mornings she does not like them and touches them repeatedly. But after the initial touching she really does not bother them, unless you leave her alone with them. Then they are off in a heartbeat. She knows the glasses are weird and she does not wear them unless we are around to watch her.

The glasses are new and I’m sure they are not the most comfortable things in the world. Her vision is adjusting to a new prescription and her unsteady eyes have to get used to seeing things completely different. Change is hard. It is hard for a young child and it is hard for a grown adult. As adults we learn to cope with change. It is the only sure thing out there, so we know our life will constantly be changing in some way or the other. Some people are better with change than others. I am one of those people who hate change with all my heart. I like order, routine and sameness. I literally could do the same thing everyday and be quite content. I understand that makes you world changers out there cringe to even read that last sentence, but that’s who I am.

This past year has had a lot of changes. Between moving, changing therapies, finding new doctors and new programs for Abigail, finding Jordan a new job, becoming a full- time mom, and trying to find a church home I am drained. That does not even include the little everyday routine shifts that naturally pop up with life and having small children. Life is crazy and I am starting to feel it. My body is tired, my head hurts and I am just worn out physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As I watched Abigail touching her glasses this morning I could not help but be reminded I am just like her. Life bothers me sometimes. It is annoying and I want to throw in the towel and go hide in my bed all day and never see anyone. It would be a much easier life that way. But those glasses have to be worn. No matter the amount of times I have to get little smudgy fingerprints off them, or how many times Abigail pulls them off they have to go on and be worn. They are helping Abigail whether she wants them to or not. She does not understand, but I know she has to wear them for them to help her. And in my heart I know I have to continue to live life because every stress, every worry, every decision, every tear shed, and every change is making me stronger.

God is still working on me. He gave me this life to reflect His Son, and I cannot do that the way I am as a rotten, spoiled sinner. Life is shaping me to be more Christlike everyday. Is the process fun? No. I wish I could rip off all the burdens and struggles like Abigail does her glasses, but this is the life God has given me. Today it feels very heavy, but it is often because I try to carry my load all alone. I am stubborn and independent to my very core. But God made us to be dependent people relying fully on Him. And oh do I need Him today to carry my load, to pick me up, and to stand my feet on solid ground. So my prayer today is that if you, like me, feel like life is hard or even just annoying then may us seek God’s face and may we fully rely on God who can take every worry, fear, burden and tear and give us freedom and life more abundant then we ever thought possible. May you dear reader find this abundant life in Christ today!

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