Words Aren’t Necessary

I live with a three-year-old who can say three words. She loves telling people “bye-bye.” And she can answer yes and no questions with a “yeah” or a “nah.” But as far as her vocabulary that’s about all she has. I talk a lot to her during the day. And she ‘talks’ in her own way. Well right now she’s in her screaming phase where she literally screams everything. And telling her to be quiet only makes her louder, so that’s fun. She has a clear “ah” scream and she loves making the “o” noise. See her in the picture below. In the photo shoot she wouldn’t stop saying “o” so we just rolled with it. It’s a new sound, and new sounds are so much fun!

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Even though Abigail cannot communicate in words she is very expressive! I tell people a lot that even though she is not able to communicate verbally, she can definitely communicate in her own way. Her nonverbal communication is on point! Yes, she knows a little bit of sign language but that’s still new too. And of course, she can’t do a lot of signs correctly because her little fingers don’t have the coordination they need to do true ASL signs. But Abigail does not have a poker face. What she thinks and feels shows up in those big blue eyes and little lips. Most of the time she is joyful – a smile spread across her face or a laugh to brighten everyone’s day. But when she is tired her poor eyes get red and blue shadows appear under her eyes. When she is sad or hurt her bottom lip puckers out. It is about the cutest thing ever, but she just looks so pathetic. When she is frustrated or impatient she will holler at you to hurry up. When she is scared she reaches up to cling to your neck and she gets a death grip on you. By looking at her face you can see what she is feeling, or if she likes something or not.

As always, Abigail is my normal. I’m used to toddlers not talking. I’m used to wondering what she is thinking or what she wants to play with or even what she wants to eat. Thankfully Abigail is easy-going and not too picky so she is pretty easy to please. We are trying to teach her how to make decisions by choosing between two different options. Making a choice isn’t her strongest point since her whole life other people have done everything for her. So when people ask me how do I know what she needs or what she wants, my best answer is that I have spent every day for the past three years with this girl and I know her better than anyone. I know how to get her to eat and drink when she pushes things away. I know how to distract her before she gets too angry. I know how she works best and what she likes and doesn’t like. Even though she cannot speak, I feel like I know what she needs. Her smile on her face all the time shows me that she seems to be okay with our system.

I do hope she continues to grow in her vocabulary and one day can speak and choose and be more independent. It would be wonderful to hear her little voice, and hear what she is thinking. To hear her say “mama” or to have her ask me a million questions. As she gets older communication will become harder and much more needed. I never know if she is sick or if something hurts. I will never know if she had a good day at school or what happened that day. I will never know her favorite color or what she wants to play with.

But a friend once commented that maybe Abigail is teaching us that words aren’t necessary to express love. I love that! So often I talk too much, and I’m not even a big talker. I’m a very quiet person and I would much rather be by myself or with a couple of people than a crowd of people any day. But we often use unnecessary words to fill holes and gaps. But precious Abigail doesn’t have words to use, and she fills a room with her presence instantly. People are drawn to her. Strangers are always coming to speak to us while we are out and about. When I am crying over something silly on a television show, Abigail will come right over and crawl into my lap to give me a hug. Those precious hugs make me laugh every time. Abigail hugs hold so much love in them! They are my favorite things!! So often we confuse love with a feeling. But love is so much deeper than what you can feel. I love a little girl who cannot even talk to me for no other reason than because she is mine. She has never said “I love you.” She has never given me a gift. She has never done anything for me. But she expresses her love with hugs, with smiles, and with that quiet, strong connection we share. A connection I could never begin to explain, but it is present and it connects me to my daughter in a very strong way.

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One of my most favorite pictures of us!

I am thankful words aren’t necessary. I am thankful Abigail is teaching me how to listen with more than my ears. She has made me better because of it. I notice so much more because of her. I have learned love is more than words and feelings. And while I can’t wait for Abigail’s next words, I am also ready to grow in our connection and keep learning to communicate with her in our own way. I want to learn all I can about her and what she needs. We are entering into new waters as she continues to grow and mature. It is scary and exciting all in one. She is quickly entering sassy toddlerhood. There will be things that will have to change and so much learning as this new chapter begins. But I know we have made it this far and together we will figure this out too. Because while words aren’t always necessary, community and partnership are very, very necessary! And I have the best little partner in crime any girl could ask for!!!

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We aren’t super, but we make a SUPER team!!!

 

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When Nothing Goes as Planned

Five years ago today I stood on a dock and watched this boy that I had learned to love get down on one knee and ask me to marry him. We should have known that night would have been a reflection of what the rest of our life would be like. Blessed, helping each other, sweet memories, and nothing going as planned. That’s the last few years in a nutshell. When Jordan asked me to be his wife, I did not get butterflies. We just are not the mushy, gushy kind of people. Honestly, about 2 minutes after he put the ring on my finger a beautiful rainbow came out and shone right over the dock. I ran out and leaned over the edge, jumping all about over the rainbow, forgetting all about the huge diamond for a minute. It probably was a very strange engagement if anyone had been there, but it was so us! Why was I so excited about a rainbow? I just felt like God was saying that He would bless us. It was a special sign to me, that me and Jordan would be okay. That we would be will taken care of. That God was looking down on us at that moment and giving us His blessing. And through all we have gone through, God has continued to be with us so I am still thankful for that tiny, beautiful reminder!

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The night he popped the question – June 18, 2013. My parents wanted him to do it on their 25th anniversary, and today they are celebrating their 30th!!!

In these five short years nothing has gone as we once planned. From jobs to children everything we have tried to do has been turned all around. I wish I could go into details, but this just isn’t the place and also I wouldn’t have to space I need to write everything. But today I can look back on these last five years and truly wonder how did we make it? What is our next step? What does God have planned for us? So many questions, and very little answers. But I have faith that God has a bigger plan for our lives, and that my husband is the best leader for our family. With that faith I just take one day at a time and trust!

Jordan and I met at college as we were both resident assistants in our dorms. But what brought us together was the fact that we both wanted to go into ministry. One summer evening we sat at a table at Sonic. Perfect strangers, but with stories to share and those stories made Jordan pay attention to me. That’s where are relationship started.

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Our very first picture together.

We planned to be ministry partners together as he led a youth group. Well after multiple and painful attempts at getting a job we are still without a ministry at a church. Jordan is now facing having to return to school so he can get a degree in education and become a teacher. Another lifelong dream of his. We have no idea why God slammed every door in our face. We have no idea why jobs we tried for were not offered. We have no idea why we were called to ministry just to be taken on this route instead. It is a big unknown still in our life.

Of course, another big unknown is Abigail. In the midst of applying, interviewing and being turned down for countless ministry jobs we had a beautiful little girl. And that little girl has led us on a whole other journey that I have written about countless times. She is another unknown factor in our lives. Abigail comes with a huge question mark. We can’t make a lot of future plans because we simply don’t know the future. Of course, one big unknown is will we have more children. Abigail puts a damper on that decision. If her condition is genetic then we are scared to risk having another child like Abigail or even worse than Abigail. We love Abigail to pieces and we aren’t worried about having another special needs child. We are worried about our children’s quality of life. We feel it isn’t right to bring a child into this world when we know the chances of them never functioning on their own is slim. We would much rather adopt than make a child suffer in away way! It is such a big unknown, and we spend a lot of time talking and praying about it.

We have always been mature for our age, but these experiences over the last five years have aged us decades I feel. So often I feel like we have already known each other for decades instead of just the short six years it has been. When I said ‘yes’ to My Man those five years ago I had no idea our life wold look like this. I had no idea we would be living in the house my husband grew up in with a special needs child, with no ministry job and one of us would be going back to school. What a rollercoaster this journey has been with my man. And it is just beginning. We are only four years into marriage. FOUR! I cannot believe it. But through it all I have had my rock. We have helped each other laugh and cry and talk out everything. I am so thankful I have never had to do any of this alone. I have an amazing partner through it all. We truly are so blessed to have each other, and our baby, and our amazing families to love us and help us in our time of need. I am not sure what tomorrow holds. But five years ago this man asked me to do life with him, and I will always stand on that commitment. We knew within two months of dating each other that we would be married. I knew Jordan was the one I wanted to spend my life with, and I am so honored that he picked me. He put a ring on it, and we have never looked back. So here’s to many years of being thankful to saying ‘yes’ to My Man. Wherever to Lord may lead, at least He led us to each other first!

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Love walking hand in hand with this man!!

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!!

 

My Small Life

It’s funny how life works out isn’t it? I love planning. I plan everything months in advance and make two thousand lists of everything you can think of. Of course, I had my life planned out in 6th grade. I planned to graduate high school, go to Berry College, and get a degree in education. Then I was going to teach for a few years as I worked on my Masters of Library Sciences from UGA. I would eventually achieve my greatest dream of becoming an elementary school librarian – my dream since second grade. I can’t make this stuff up. As you see I had no aspirations of a husband or kids. Just a dream job so I thought.

Now I am married, have a kid and a degree in Christian Studies from Truett-McConnell. None of my plans came about. None. Zip. Zero. My senior year God steered me to Truett instead of Berry. Then my freshman year, He called me away from my dreams. He called me to fully trust Him. He directed me to the degree I received, and toward a blonde headed man I also married. You’ll be glad to know I have no idea what my future holds. At this point I simply have to hope God has a plan, because I weirdly don’t. I plan all the daily details, but I don’t know what five years down the road holds anymore.

Today, I lead a small life. Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail wrote this in an email, “Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small.” I’ve always loved that quote. That’s me- a small, but valuable life. I don’t see a lot of people most days. I spend all my time with a three year old who doesn’t talk. I do a lot of talking to myself – well I’m talking to Abigail, but really to myself. I’ve gotten a lot of stares in the grocery store, but that’s okay. That’s how she will learn how to talk is by hearing words, right??

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I’m just a small town girl. A stay at home mom. A wife. A servant of God who tries to be faithful. A friend to a few. A daughter and granddaughter. Such a simple life. Some would probably say it is boring. Some would say it is pointless. Sometimes it seems useless. Sometimes I feel awful for not helping Jordan provide an income for our family. Yes, it is small. Yes, it is often not rewarding. Yes, it often goes unnoticed. Yes, it is lonely. Yes, it seems like I could be doing more. But I am thankful for my small life. The small little moments I get to have with my daughter every day. And I couldn’t even begin to express my thanks for my husband. He works hard to support us. He misses out on so much, and has made so many sacrifices just to keep working for us. He lets me pursue my dreams, and tells me to do whatever I want to do whether it’s blogging or writing a book or making crafts. He supports all my crazy dreams and he encourages me daily! He keeps me grounded when I get emotional, and helps me sort through all my millions of plans.

I never planned for my life to be like this. I honestly don’t know what the future holds. But I like my small life. I have dreams and plans, and I pray they are fulfilled. But these plans aren’t about what my future job is or making lots of money (well I never dreamed about that anyways). My dreams are more realistic now. Little seeds of hope God is planting in my hungry heart. My plans include family, and helping others. That’s my prayer now – that this small, simple life I lead will impact those around me. That I can be a servant to everyone I meet, and that our story will help someone else’s. Yes, my life is small, but it is a very blessed life that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

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I love this small life and my family!

Bittersweet Parenting

I was sitting in church Sunday singing a good ol’ gospel hymn about heaven. One of those talking about getting up and walking around heaven. I love good old-fashioned hymns, but this one brought tears to my eyes. All I could think about was my little girl not being able to walk. I know it is silly to cry about something that may or may not happen, but in that moment I just felt an overwhelming sadness that she was missing out on so much.

Abigail just turned three. She has never sat up by herself to play with her toys. She has never felt grass beneath her bare feet as she runs through a sprinkler. She has never tripped and fallen over her toys spread throughout the house. She is forced to go wherever people take her. She is at the mercy of whomever she is with. She has no control over when she stands or when she sits. It is all dictated by others.

Of course she knows no difference. She has no idea she is missing out on a whole world of independent living. She is happy as a clam being able to army crawl around the house and letting us do everything else. She has no idea how small her world is. How limited she is, and how dependent she is on others. In her world she can do anything and everything, and she tries her hardest to make that a reality.

Abigail will get her wheelchair tomorrow. It is hot pink, and we are hoping she will be able to one day (a long time down the road) be able to crawl into it herself and push her own chair. Again, we are a long way from that, but that’s our end goal. I have been excited about this chair for a while now. I am excited she will have a way to get around, and I pray she can push herself in it easily. This chair will bring us some freedom. But it is a little bittersweet. Who wants their child to be confined to a chair? Of course, Abigail is an odd situation where she won’t be in the chair a lot. She does have the potential to walk and crawl, so that’s our end goal and all her teachers and therapists will be working to get her out of the chair and walking on her own. But the chair means she isn’t quite there yet. The chair will bring stares from strangers. The chair will bring pity. The chair will define her as different. Right now strangers don’t have any idea how far behind Abigail is. To them she is just a cute toddler in pink glasses in the grocery store shopping cart. She can get by with her cuteness. But put that same cutie in a hot pink wheel chair and you then invite questions of ‘what is wrong with her?’ ‘She looks normal, but why is she in that chair?’ So we are about to open a can of worms when we take her out and about now. I don’t know if I am ready for all the stares and questions. How do I explain Abigail? I don’t even know what’s going on with her.

All these thoughts have been running in my head these last few days. I know we will make it through. Soon the stares and the questions won’t even phase me. I know I’ll be able to answer people the right way when (and if) the time comes. My prayer is that I always honor my Lord and give my child encouragement in all my responses. I want people to see children who are a little different and know the right things to say. Maybe I can be the educational instrument to guide people’s questions in the right direction when it comes to special needs children. So many people don’t know how to talk to a special needs family. They don’t know how to ask their questions simply because they have never walked in their shoes.

If you ever wonder how it feels to have a special needs child I would tell you it is one of the most rewarding but hardest things you will ever go through. It is draining. It is hard work. It is frustrating. It is lonely. It is disappointing. It is demanding. But it is also rewarding. It teaches you so much about yourself and about that sweet child you are raising. It bonds you and your child like nothing ever could. It teaches you about sacrifice and selflessness. It opens a door to a community you never knew existed. I once read a book that gave a good picture of what I’m taking about. This is an excerpt from Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s book, The Life We Never Expected.

“Discovering your children have special needs is like being given an orange.

You’re sitting with a group of friends in a restaurant. You’ve just finished a decent main course, and are about to consider the dessert menu when one of your friends gets up, taps their glass with a spoon, and announces that they have bought desserts for everyone as a gift. They disappear around the corner, and return a minute later with an armful of spherical objects about the size of tennis balls, beautifully wrapped, with a bow on each one.

As they begin distributing the mysterious desserts, everyone starts to open them in excitement, and one by one the group discovers that they have each been given a Chocolate Orange. Twenty segments of rich, smooth, lightly flavoured milk chocolate: a perfect conclusion to a fine meal, and a very sociable way of topping off an enjoyable evening. You begin to unwrap the object in front of you.

But you’ve been given an orange. Not a chocolate orange; an actual orange. Eleven erratically sized, pith-covered segments with surprisingly large pips in annoying places; requiring a degree in engineering in order to be peeled properly. You stare at it with a mixture of surprise, disappointment and confusion. The rest of the table hasn’t noticed. They’re too busy enjoying their chocolate.

You pause to reflect. There’s nothing wrong with oranges, you say to yourself. They are sharp, sweet, refreshing and zesty. Looked at from a number of perspectives – medical, dietary, environmental – you have been given a better dessert than everyone else. And you didn’t have a right to be given anything anyway.

But your heart sinks, all the same. An orange was not what you expected; as soon as you saw everyone else opening their chocolate, you simply assumed that is what you would get, too. Not only that, but this wasn’t what you wanted. And because you’re surrounded by other people, you have to come to terms with the   sheer unfairness of being given your orange, while your friends share, laugh about and celebrate theirs. A nice meal has taken an unexpected turn, and you suddenly feel isolated, disappointed and frustrated.  

Discovering that your kids have special needs is like that.”

Yes, that’s my Abigail. She is no chocolate orange, but I love her all the same. She is juicy and messy and very good for me. Honestly, I would choose to have another orange at this point. Oranges are my normal now and I wouldn’t even know what to do with a special treat like a chocolate orange. So even though it’s a little more work and a little more messy I am thankful for my real orange. She brings such joy and flavor to our life! I am excited to start a new adventure in a pretty pink wheelchair. And I invite any questions from you or from onlookers. Please, never be afraid to encourage a special needs parent you see out and about. The very fact that they came out with their child is a big deal. Just let them know they are amazing parents. Every parent needs encouragement and we are parents too. I mean this life is bittersweet, so I encourage you to add some sweetness to a life today!

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.”

My Marathon

It is funny, if you had told me when I was pregnant that my child would have special needs I would not have liked it. It would have overwhelmed me, and I would have a million questions that could not be answered. I already was scared about being a good mother to my baby. I cannot imagine the fear that would have overwhelmed me if we had found something out about Abigail in utero. The amazing thing about our story is that it has been perfect for me. I really would not have changed a thing. The way we have found things out so far has helped me process everything at my speed. I can honestly say I do not have any fear of the future or any worries about Abigail.

I know that is hard to believe. I am concerned about Abigail’s future. Will she be able to function and learn in a regular classroom? Will she ever walk independently? Will she grow up and leave us, and make a life of her own? But I do not worry about these things. They do not keep me up at night. I sleep pretty well! My heart is at peace about Abigail, and I can say it is all because of how slow this process has been. I am a very slow processor. It takes me a while to think about big decisions, and process my feelings. And having Abigail’s story unfold slowly has helped me so much!

This whole journey has been painfully slow. It has frustrated me at times that no one seems to be able to help us know what is going on. Let’s be honest I still get impatient with doctors about how slow answers are in coming. We still have no answers even with all the tests that have been done. But I have come to realize this week that if everything had happened at once I would have been overwhelmed, and wanted to throw in the towel a long time ago. If we would have had a diagnoses in the beginning and Abigail’s tests had shown results, or if she had had medical needs it would have been a lot to process all at once. But everything happened in such slow stages that each time I had time to process and question and plan. I had time to prepare for the next step. It is like Someone knew I needed that. Someone knew I needed a moment to breathe and take everything in.

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Our precious, perfect newborn. Right about when this marathon journey started.

We had no idea anything was amiss with Abigail until she was two months old. Then it was her vision. Since I always plan for the worst I automatically figured she was blind. I remember after our pediatrician told us that her vision was off and he was sending us to an ophthalmologist that I researched Braille that night so I could learn it. But then we had a few months to process that before the next thing hit at four months when Abigail was diagnosed with low muscle tone and we were sent to a neurologist. And that has been the story ever since. A doctor will tell us something new or run another test and we have time while we wait to process the news.

This journey has not been a sprint. It is a marathon. I have never been a runner, but I would rather run the marathon of life and take it slowly than a break neck sprint any day. Marathons are still hard. You have to train. You have to build up to run the full race. It is physically and emotionally draining. But running makes you stronger. It builds the muscles and helps you be a better, stronger person. My marathon is training me. It is strengthening me. And it is shaping me. I am thankful that God has allowed me to have time to process. That He has given me this marathon to run with my little girl. I just pray I continue to have the strength to keep running well, and that I run this race to the best of my ability.