The Game of Life

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Our family Cribbage board

We are a card playing family, and Cribbage has always been a favorite. I grew up playing Cribbage and now when I stay over at my parents’ house for a long weekend we always try to get a game or two in. If you do not know how to play Cribbage that’s okay. This post is not about that. Basically, all you need to understand is that those pegs pictured are what you count with. You obviously want to have the most points, and have your pegs in the lead. A lot of times though you get dealt not so great hands and your poor pegs lag further and further behind everyone else’s. In Cribbage you can get so far behind the winner you get skunked. It’s a very technical term. Basically, if you lose you don’t want to lose so bad you get skunked. See, it’s really a rather fun family game! And two fun facts about this particular Cribbage board: 1.) my brother made this by hand (pegs and all) for my mom’s birthday one year, so it’s a very special board. 2.) See those words my mom wrote on the board, “Heater’s Curve.” It is supposed to be my name not Heater. This is the particular spot on the board I always began to lose, no matter how far I was in the lead. It became the family joke that when I was approaching this curve they knew I was going to start losing, so Mom nicknamed it Heather’s Curve, or at least she thought she did. Yes, my own mother misspelled my name, so now it’s affectionately called, “Heater’s Curve.”

The game of Cribbage, and many games in fact, is just like life. Sometimes you get dealt great hands that make you feel good and help you win, and sometimes you get awful hands that do not move you ahead at all. You feel like you are stuck in quicksand of life, and you will never catch up to the people ahead of you. This is often how being a special needs parent feels like. Every time your child does something good or conquers a task you realize that your friend’s baby did that six months or two years ago. As other children progress around you, you feel as if you are chugging as you hard as can and still are not able to gain any ground.

I am so excited, and so is everyone else because Abigail loves to give hugs now! It is precious and makes you feel extra loved when she wraps those little arms so tightly around your neck. She is truly the best hugger! She is beginning to eat better and better and even attempting to eat on her own in small ways. She is rolling from side to side and trying to sit up and move so much more. There are signs of progress everywhere. But right when we are gaining so much progress, I took her to the eye doctor because we have seen some small concerns with her eyes twitching, not focusing, and going cross-eyed. Well it is a good thing I took her because her muscles in her eyes are very weak. While the eye itself is as healthy as can be, the muscles are not controlling her eyes properly. So, soon Abigail will begin wearing glasses to try to strengthen those muscles. She has four months in glasses, and then if there is no progress the next step is surgery.

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When we feel like we are gaining ground with negative genetic testing and physical progress, we are hit with this reality. Our little girl may be faced with eye surgery at the end of the year. Oh, we are praying these glasses are miracle glasses!! But in our two-year journey we have seen this over and over. We gain some ground and are reassured everything will be okay and we will overcome anything, and then we are told she has very low muscle tone, it might be a genetic problem, there are still no answers, or that surgery may be the only solution. The life of a special needs parent is one big rollercoaster of emotion, filled with excitement, worry, and the unknown.

Through it all though I am thankful that life is not just one big game. We are not pawns being pushed around a board. Through it all God has a purpose for each and every person. He knows what we are going through, and He has a beautiful plan unfolding everyday. Is it frustrating? YES. Is it lonely? YES. Is it what I would choose? No. But it is still a beautiful plan, and I trust that with all my heart. In the end, I am thankful for this plan, this path of life God has set us on. It is making me a better person, a more trusting person. The last two years has changed me, and giving me a whole new perspective on life. Do I want this for my little girl? Never in a million years, but this is the life God has blessed us with and we will take each day and be thankful for the gift it is. We have so much to be thankful for, and I will not ever forget that!

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Our happy little blessing!

Thus Far

David

I love the Old Testament, and right now I’m reading through 1 & 2 Samuel. In 2 Samuel chapter 7, God has just revealed to David the Davidic Promise of how he will always have a relative on the throne for all eternity. David goes in, sits before the Lord, and says, “Oh Lord, who am I and who is family that you have brought us thus far.” I obviously cannot relate to how David felt at this moment, but I can repeat those words. “Who am I oh Lord, that you have brought me and my family thus far!” I was reflecting today where the Lord has led me in the last 10 years. I would never have planned any of it, but I am thankful to be here and to know God has brought me thus far and He will continue to lead me and my family!!

When I was fifteen I got serious about my relationship with Christ. I knew it was something more and that relationship needed all of me. God needed all of me. So I made the decision to jump head first into my relationship with God and I never looked back. There have been lots of times of doubt, struggles, and fear but God has been with me every step of the way! I had my life all planned out by the time I was a freshman year of high school. I had always wanted to be an elementary school librarian (my dream since second grade) and I planned to go to college at Berry in Rome, GA. I like plans and hate change so when I make my mind up it does not change a lot, but low and behold God had other plans for me. I had already applied for Berry and a few other choices by my senior year. But my friend was looking into a school named Truett-McConnell for a soccer scholarship. The ironic thing was this friend did not have a relationship with Christ, and to apply for Truett you have to have a written testimony. She even asked me to write a testimony for her. Needless to say I had to explain that was not an option. But because of this friend I found myself at the TMC table during a college fair talking to the admissions rep. The rep was great at her job and convinced me to tour the school and meet the librarian there. I was so excited to meet a librarian I agreed to come visit the next week.

My mom and I went to TMC to meet with the Admissions team and take a tour. The weather was awful and I had to sit in my moms lap while taking the tour so I would not get wet. An eighteen-year-old riding around a college campus on her mom’s lap was not a good start to the tour. But the last stop before we went home was the library. I do not even know why but I told the librarian I would be there in the Fall. I went home and applied to TMC that night and was accepted in the following weeks. I was going to TMC to major in Education to get one step further in my dream of becoming a librarian.

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Me as a little tiny Freshman. The hair cut was a huge mistake!

Truett-McConnell changed my life in many, many ways! I wish I had the time and space to write everything, but since I don’t I will just have to hit the highlights. The first and biggest thing was that God continued to change my plans. I felt God tugging at my heart and leading me into ministry but I struggled because if I heeded to Him all my plans would be shot. I had already changed schools (which was a marvelous decision) and now He was taking away my only other dream. But by the end of my fist semester of college I was ready to surrender my dreams to God too. It is a story in itself, and everyone who knows me calls it my FROG story. Maybe one day I’ll share it with you too, but I accepted Gods call to ministry, changed major to Christian Studies, and again never looked back. Three years later I graduated with a Christian Studies degree, and I pray to use my calling to encourage and disciple women all my life!

But not only did I receive a whole new calling and a degree there, I received a husband and a child. My family grew there, literally. I was not even planning to get married going into college. Having a family was not a thought for me. I just was not one of those girls who dreamed of marriage and family. I guess I figured one day I would get married and have kids, but it was not something I desired. I liked living my life, and growing closer to God, but as always God had other plans for my and my mystery man.

Jordan and I both became Resident Assistants for the 2012-2013 school year. That was fated to bring us together, though I am not sure exactly how. We could not be more opposite. He was your typical athletic, popular, blonde hair jock, and I was your shy, dweeby average nerd. We did not hang out in the same circles (mostly because I never left the all girls’ dorm and he never left the all boys’ dorm), we did not share the same interests, and we had no clue the other existed though we sat a couple chairs apart in most of our classes the semester before.

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I think this is our first picture together at the TMC Hoedown.

But the summer we came to school for RA training we got to know each other and kept having weird, awkward encounters around campus. One time we passed each other in the stairwell and just stared at one another for about a solid minute without saying anything. I practically ran back to my dorm room mortified! Oh, to be a young college kid again. So after a lot awkward encounters, and a lot of volleyball games later we both confessed we liked each other for some reason or another and we became, as the kids say, ‘official.’ That was September 4, 2012. We both knew after two months of dating we were going to get married. Jordan proposed in June the following year and then in February 2014 we were married.

Our first year of marriage was probably kind of weird looking back, but we did not think anything of it at the time. Our first home was a small apartment inside the all girls’ dorm where I resided as Resident Director. So Jordan lived with 60 other girls for about four months. Then we moved down the hill to another on campus apartment to become the Resident Directors to more college kids. Six months into marriage I was pregnant and sick as a dog most days. Again, not the life I had planned but I would not trade these things for the world. They have made me who I am today.

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The day we left our ‘first home’ aka Otwell. I had lived there for three years by then.

Soon after Abigail was born we left TMC. It was a sad farewell, but we both knew it was time to move on. This is when the adventures with Abigail started. At two months we knew something was wrong with our child, and it has been a journey since. I will not go into details because I have told Abigail’s story so many times, but she is yet another thing we did not plan. We planned the having a baby part, but not the ‘your baby has special needs’ part. No one can plan that.

I could tell story after story of how God continues to change our plans. How we have interviewed at countless jobs for Jordan’s ministry position and yet have been turned down for one reason or another. I could tell of the tears that have been shed or the questions we have asked God as to why He continues to change our direction and path. But today I want to celebrate where God has brought us as David did all those years ago. I want to thank God for the life He has led me on. I want to praise His name for His faithful and continual care and provision for us. We have never been without what we need. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. He may not seem like He is always there or that He is listening to our pleas for answers and direction, but He has a bigger plan than I could ever dream or imagine. So while we are in the unknown in so many areas of our life, all I can do is trust God to see us through, and remember how far He has brought us thus far.

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My family! We are BLESSED!!!

A Reflection on Motherhood

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Your day begins early as you prepare yourself and your family to start the day off right, or at least you try to start it off right but something is bound to get off track. You work hard all day whether it is at home or in an office, and then you have more work to do as the day winds down between picking up everyone’s messes or doing yet another load of laundry. The day is long, oh so long! But you are a mother and deep inside you know this is all worth it. These days will not be forever, and tomorrow will bring a whole lists of new things to do and worries to be had, so today you do your work to the best of your ability. Life is short and having children at home is even shorter, so today mother, treat this life as a blessing that will be short lived and enjoy every messy moment.

The role mothers take on is endless…

  • chef
  • fashion coordinator
  • secretary
  • taxi driver
  • photographer
  • daily planner
  • teacher
  • doctor
  • cuddler
  • discipliner
  • zoo rangler
  • lover
  • fighter
  • maid
  • librarian
  • chorus director

…and that’s not even all of the roles! We wear so many different hats, no wonder our mama brains are like scrambled eggs up there. But each of these roles means the world to our children and our family. They need us to be there through it all as they become the adults God has planned them to be. While it is a headache to be everything to everybody, the good thing is that we are not called to be anything but a child of God, and a mother to these precious children. So often we attach other titles and jobs to ourselves that the world tells us we have to do, but no where does God say we are called to be anything but a mother to these children. So let’s mother them the best we can, and go back to the simple truths of God’s Word and what He has called us to.

Emily and Laura from Risen Motherhood (you can follow them on Instagram @risenmotherhood. They also share a weekly podcast if you are into those!) shared a wonderful tidbit in their Instagram post today. She was asked, “What does the church need to give moms this Mother’s Day?” Her answer goes with exactly the point I am trying to make. She replied, “What moms really need to hear isn’t a burdensome statement about the hugeness of their calling, a heartfelt thanks that can sometimes fall on deaf ears due to guilt, or a list of ways they can do even better in motherhood…What the moms really need, if we are to give them the strength to run the race set before them, is a reminder of who they are and what they have in Christ.” Thanks Emily! What beautiful words and big Truths!! Moms need to be reminded that they are daughters of God himself and in Him they can find rest, hope, faith and love! As moms we must be so plugged into God that He is what makes us function and live. Our children need us to be so in love with God that they see Him through us! On this Mother’s Day let us remember who we are in Christ and what He offers freely to us.

Mothering is hard! Parenting is hard! But God has given us these children to raise to honor Him, so let us run our race faithfully. May you always be reminded that you are worthy and have a purpose in this life. As you change bed sheets and wipe dirty faces for the twentieth time that day may you remember that this to is God’s perfect plan. Motherhood was created by God to bless families from the beginning of the world. Without mothers children would not learn fully to love, care, and share emotionally with others. Mothers and women have specific roles that fathers and men cannot fill for God made us each unique. So mother your children as God has so given us the ability to. Mother them knowing that you are a loved and blessed child of the one true King. Mother them knowing that soon these children will be mothering and fathering children of their own.

Today may all mothers, grandmothers, and soon-to-be mothers all be blessed in a special way. May we always be thankful for the mothers in our own lives whether biological or not. Mothers are special gifts not to be taken for granted. And to all the mama’s out there – you can do this!!! Happy Mother’s Day!

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In honor of Mother’s Day here is a picture of when I became a Mommie!!