Sunday, October 12, 2014

Grief and Beauty

Through the prism of Autism everyday events morph into larger-than-life escapades; life changing events have a way of shifting into smaller, more digestible bits.  At least this is true at our house.  

Today was not a scheduled, structured day.  It was not what I had planned, surely. It was a day like no other ever will be.  It was painfully raw and beautiful.  

Grandpa holding Grandma's hand. * 
Please know that my definition of beautiful is uniquely mine and you are free to use it any way you see fit.  For me pretty and beautiful are vastly different.  Pretty is superficial and comes with ease. While true beauty can not be possible without pain.  They go hand-in-hand and are inseparable. Together they are what makes this life worth living.  

 Today I had the incredible honor of holding my grandmother's hand as she left her earthly body and met the Lord.  I've never been present at the birth of a child, but I imagine this to be just as powerful. 

Grandpa holding Grandma's hand.*
Through the perspective of my girls, I found some really amazing insights.  KC was with me at the house when it happened while AJ was playing a friend's house.  KC sat there taking all of the emotion and didn't flinch until I asked a while later if she was okay.  She needed that permission to cry.  She didn't know why she was crying but she knew everyone else was sad.  Once the situation was explained to her, she did her very best to comfort and encourage everyone around her.  I was so proud.  Yes, it was all scripted and was presented with a flat affect and it was awkward, but I tell you, it WAS beautiful.  Her "I hope you feel better soon" and "don't worry, I'm on your side" and "I wish I could make you feel better, but I can't" were more honest and true than anything else anyone could come up with.  

Me and Grandma.*
I chose to tell AJ later, after we were alone.  AJ is definitely more emotional than KC and I knew it was going to be rough.  Her heart broke.  Her life changed forever.  She quickly ran through a list of people and asked if they were still alive.  She had to call my mom to hear her voice and share her sadness.  She reached the end of herself and decided she needed to find a new great grandma, one that wouldn't ever die.  That is her answer for the big hard stuff.  It worked for her before...her birth parents were not okay so she got a new mom.  Therefore, this must be how it works.  

Our grief has just begun.  I know that we all will be processing this so much more in the coming days, weeks and months.  But today, it comes down to this...Grandma is with Jesus RIGHT NOW.  I know I'm not the only one that's just a little bit jealous.  

* These pictures were taken a short while before Grandma passed.  So very precious.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dear Friend,

I have a friend. (yeah, shocker, isn't it?!) My friend and her husband are in the very final stages of adopting two kiddos with special needs from another country.  She been on my mind incessantly and I want to tell her some things.  So I thought I'd tell her and others just like her -  loudly and boldly on my blog.  

Dear Friend, 

I am so freaking excited and happy for you!  I cannot even begin to convey my level of enthusiasm. You are a wonderful mama to the kids you have already and that wonder will grow with the new additions to your family.  I am so proud of you. You have persevered through many adversarial trials to answer the call God has sent.  

I want you to know some things.  I need you to remember these things on the bad days, months, years.  

  • God's ways are not our ways.  He has called you to parent these beautiful children.  He knows the strife and the beauty that lie ahead.  Never ever question His calling.  You were created to be the mama to these kids.  There will be times when that feels too big and you feel too small. Get over it.  He's got your back.  ;-)  
  • Live in the present.  Don't let your mind reside in the past where your kids were, where you were.  Now is so precious.  Yesterday will steal today's joy. 
  • Never be afraid to ask for help.  You WILL need help.  We all need help.  Help is good!
  • Stay connected.  This life is so isolating.  You are going to be attachment parenting the first months and in order to give all for your kids, you will need to stay filled up yourself.  Call. Write.  Send carrier pigeons or smoke signals.  Please, stay connected to those that fill you.
  • It's okay to avoid the nay-sayers.  You know, those people that think you are insane.  They may be close or far away, and you may love them dearly, but right now you need supportive and helpful people surrounding you.  It's okay to back away from Negative Nancys for a while.
  • Feelings are good things, even when they aren't good feelings.  Your emotions do not control you. You are allowed to feel any emotion that happens along. Don't ever feel guilty for feeling. Feeling is good.  Not feeling is bad.  
Oh my dear friend, your journey is just beginning and it's such an honor to have a front row seat.  I will never fully comprehend your journey and how you got here as our paths have been a bit different.  However, please always know that I will stand with you.  I will pray with you. I will cry with you.  I will fight along side you.  I will just be...

With love and grace, 

If anyone out there in cyber-world would like to read more about my friend's journey and help them reach their fully-funded status please visit them at  They leave in just a few weeks to get their fabulous children!!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What Has Been Happening...

Hi there.  It’s been a while.  Things are much the same and totally different.  You know - the usual.

This summer brought med changes for AJ.  We are still, four months later, trying to find the right medication at the right dose to help her control her anxiety, mood swings and aggression.  Oh, the aggression…it’s been brutal. 

For KC, the summer brought more home visits!  We now get to spend every weekend together at home.  It was a slow transition, and everyone is handling it quite well.  Our county CPS worker says that we should be able to have her home full-time at the end of November!!  This is huge - bigger than big.  It’s going to be hard and difficult and frustrating and wonderful and glorious! 

Through this crazy transition and for a long time after, we will have lots of support both formal and informal.  We have already begun having formal support each morning before school for AJ.  Someone comes in and works on her daily living skills and gets her ready for school.  When KC’s transition home happens we will have after school support with a supportive home care worker. 

We also have the amazing informal supports that we’ve met along our journey over the last two years.  Our new(ish) church family we’ve found is absolutely fabulous.  Many have family members or are people with special needs and many have adopted.  It’s a unique comradery.  And it’s kinda perfectly imperfect. 

School has been underway for whole month.  Over the summer I was able to take a new position at the school I work with… I moved from working in the special education – learning disabilities department to the special education – cognitive disabilities department.  It’s wonderful.  It’s an honor to be part of such an amazing team. 

The last few months have shown some pretty interesting growth for me.  Throughout this journey, I have found myself. (Sounds super cliché, I know!)  I have uncovered things that make me uniquely me AND I am at a place where I can embrace those things and no longer be ashamed of them.   The places I have been emotionally have been really dark.  That darkness had enveloped me for many years…decades even.  Through the struggles of the last two years, I have broken down those dark walls and found life.  It sounds so simple.  HA!  Not simple, but oh so very much worth the work.  The struggles remain, and always will.  However, the hope and the light are so much bigger.   

As I look to the future, I can see brightness and joy mingled with the struggles and the pain.  There is a lot we are looking forward to!  We are moving ahead with KC’s transition home and we will be welcoming workers into our home to essentially be an integral part of our family.  I also sincerely hope to be able to deepen the friendships forged over the last two years. I know a bunch of fabulous people and look forward to working through the valleys and mountain tops of life with them! 

My prayer is that through it all…the struggles, the joy, the sorrow, the hope, the pain and the beauty – that people will see Jesus.  Have you looked for Him today?