grateful jane

beautiful pain

mon chry side

Even beauty can harbor pain. I have been looking for the beauty in each day, but I haven’t posted about it in the past week. There have been so many things swirling around in my head, and I wanted many times to sit and write. Life gets in the way, and that’s not always bad.

My pain. The beautiful pain to share? Not like “Oh, it’s so beautiful, it’s killing me!” I don’t do insincere well. But there are three things have led to this post. One was a dream. Another was a memory. The third is the present. Let me explain.

The dream:

I am in a public setting, a bar, a party, maybe (it’s a dream–funky from the get go, so keep that in mind). I’ve apparently come with friends, and we’re all mingling. I’m not a drinker, so that’s not happening. It appears at least some people are in costume. I never see myself, I don’t know what I’m wearing. A man walks past that I notice. Shorts are a part of his costume. He’s tall, with lean muscles. I find him attractive, but I never see his face in focus. We begin a pleasant conversation. I see him smile at me. I like a smile. Another man approaches us and tries to get my attention. He’s annoying and at least a little drunk. You know how that is? People with slurry speech rarely get the hint, and he won’t go away. The handsome fellow kisses me. It isn’t passionate, it’s actually ridiculous simply intended to get the message across to the tipsy interlocutor. It worked and he’s gone. I see the conversationalist smiling at me in a casual way, as if he’s ready to pick up where we left off, and like nothing happened. I don’t know how the rest of the evening went, I only know as we’re leaving, and standing outside, people are all parting ways and he looks at me and realizes something is wrong. He asks about it. I tell him it has been a long time since I’ve been kissed and I really hadn’t anticipated the first one to be anything like what he’d done. It had upset me and unnerved me in an unpleasant way. Like an unwelcome violation. Oddly, I wasn’t angry at him, but the casualness of it all really disturbed me. As he looks at me, I know he’s listening and understands. He leans down, and I know he’s going to kiss me again. I let him, and it is sweet, tender, gentle. This is not the type of kiss that makes you think the next thing is a segue into bed. It’s not passionate, but there is an intimacy to it that I haven’t known in a great while.

And I woke up. The dream saddened me. Because the kiss was beautiful. But it wasn’t real. The sadness is from the knowing that it wasn’t real. I’m not a casual person. I guess that’s part of the lack of insincerity. I don’t go around randomly kissing strangers and won’t begin today. It’s that I don’t have that kind of intimacy with anyone, and I’ve no idea when or if that will occur again. I know that God intended for intimacy to be beautiful. It’s the lack of that in my life that is painful.

The memory:

I have been sorting through the things in my home. We homeschooled for so many years and I have begun to tackle the pantry where the books and supplies were primarily kept. I need to clean it out and figure out what there is and what needs to be done with it all. So many sweet memories came to my mind as I began to sort through the things. Things to throw away, things to put in order, things to store away. Thinking about what is gone and never will be again is painful. The memories are beautiful and I’m very grateful to have them. It doesn’t stop the tears. I am a sappy sentimentalist. Many times I don’t like inevitability. Sometimes the memories are so beautiful and painful at the same time I prefer to avoid them. It’s when they come flooding back due to the absolute necessity of moving forward that crowds in and I cannot turn off the memories, because they are right in front of me. They will not be silenced. And I have to do the pantry in short spurts or I am overwhelmed with the noise and images blocking me from moving forward.

The present:

My oldest daughter came for a visit. I have been anticipating this since before Thanksgiving. I haven’t seen her in almost five months and I’ve been looking forward to it immensely. Her little sister has been waiting for it “on pins and needles.” Her words. My oldest daughter is truly amazing and is living an incredible life, saving money towards her future; and she enjoys the work she’s doing so much, it doesn’t seem like work to her. She’s got the job we all want — where you’d want to do it even if you didn’t get paid, yet you do get paid. Awesomeness.

So, she arrived. Her stay was brief, enjoyable, and beautiful. Simply beautiful and bittersweet because the whole time I knew she’d be leaving again very soon, and I really like her company. There are changes in her in this brief separation that are molding her into another individual, not one I don’t know, but her own person. Yes, it’s what we want for our children, but having had my hand in nearly every decision, every direction, everything for her whole life prior to her moving ahead is still a difficult pill to swallow. I love her and I have already mentioned I don’t really like change. Add to that her departure was a foregone conclusion even before she came.

As much as I tried to appreciate the moments she was here, the inevitable loomed. My youngest princess cried the night before she left as we were saying prayers at bedtime, and I had no words of comfort. Just understanding. It made me cry. I tried not to think about the following morning. But, a sweet little girl crying as she clings to you sort of makes that difficult.

These kinds of things make me wonder about the idea of it “being better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

So much pain in beauty. But Christ never promised it would be easy. We have pain. We are bound to have pain. There is no lie in that. We will suffer in this life, no matter how much beauty we experience. Whether we know Him or not. There is not a single person past or present that has not experienced pain.

It’s times like this that I see why I hold back so often from reaching out to people, why I would choose rather to stay silent, stay alone, stay aloof from engaging. I anticipate the end and the departure. I anticipate disappointment. I would sometimes choose rather to be lonely than to be hurt. It is knowing the pain which accompanies the beauty that distresses me most.

I have hope in the beauty. I know there is no way to escape the pain. I know we were given beauty in this life to enjoy and I would not change the beautiful to escape the pain.

This part of my life must be my cocoon. The waiting for a new and beautiful something that God has for me when this is past, this must be my chrysalis. I am being transformed through what by all outward appearance is a time of stagnation where nothing is changing but hours, minutes, and days. Butterflies have wings. I better prepare to take flight.

the beauty of people

Photo credit: Flickr user James Crindland via Creative Commons

Photo credit: Flickr user James Crindland via Creative Commons

I know people can drive you nuts. I know they sometimes seem to be a bother, and there are so many of them that really chap your hide. More often than not you hear complaints and gripes and all that hits the airwaves is the bad, with one little blurb to try to restore your faith in humanity at the very, very end.

This is that blurb.

Backstory: The week before Christmas or so, I went to visit a Culver’s restaurant. My kids enjoy eating there. I like the food, too, but we don’t eat out much. The kids were spending time with the grandparents and I was alone. So, I thought I’d swing by and pick up a burger while I was out, go home and eat in front of the boob tube (any of you ever heard that one? no? dang! my age is showing). I only get a single, every time, no drink, no fries. This is splurging for me, mind you.

Back at home, I settle in nicely, I have my water, I have my blanket (it’s cold this time of year), and I sit down, turn on the set, select my poison, and start eating. I’m watching, I’m eating, I’m enjoying the show, then another bite, and I realize this isn’t what I ordered. The restaurant is fifteen, twenty minutes away. It’s cold out. I’m watching my show, and gas hadn’t dropped to the ‘what the hey happened?’ rate it is now, and I’m thinking it’s costly to go in and replace the blinkin’ burger, so I just eat it. And watch my show.

Afterwards, though, I decided to call the store and let them know what happened. I thought maybe they’d apologize and send me a coupon for a sandwich or something. Remember, I like their food. And I don’t eat out much. It’s sorta disappointing when you’re thinkin’ bacon and you get tofu instead, right? Although, I’m sure they don’t serve tofu, you get the drift.

I called. I asked for the manager. First, I told him how much much my kids and I enjoy eating there (remember we’ve established this already). He thanks me. He told me people rarely call to say good things. He told me he appreciated that very much (not feeling the love yet? ah, just wait). I told him I was glad he appreciated it, but there was a tiny problem. I let him know that I had been through the drive through and didn’t check my order before I left, so I didn’t know that my sandwich had been made wrong. He told me it wasn’t my job to double check their work (taking responsibility is one of my pet peeves–he shoots, he scores!). He asked what I had ordered, and I told him.

You know what he did? He said he’d write my name down in the special place he had if anything ever went wrong, and whenever I wanted I could come in and get a free basket to replace the burger that was wrong. Nice. I thanked him. I thought it was pretty cool.

The thing is, typically I don’t say a word. I eat, I go on with life, no biggie, so I thought this was a sweet deal.

Present Day: The kids and I were grocery shopping (oh, joy!), and my daughter had given her brother all her scoopie coupons she’d been collecting (to exchange for a toy) as a gift for Christmas because it’s all she had to give. Since then, she’s been chomping at the bit to go exchange the coupons for a toy. Now seemed like a good time to collect on the basket, get the toys, and feed hungry kiddos in between stores (I can only go one place with these hooligans in between feedings).

We entered Culver’s and who should be at the counter, but the manager I had spoken with about the basket. His nametag was a dead give away (I asked to be sure). I mentioned my name and said he’d told me I could come in and get a free basket. He remembered (must be a short mistake list–Culver’s gets bonus points for that one).

I ordered a kid’s meal for my son. He said I could get a full size basket if I wanted (I kinda figured that, but I always get the kids baskets because they get their free scoop of custard and the coveted scoopie tokens). I ordered a kid’s meal for my daughter. I then ordered my typical sandwich for the basket. Manager said I could get any side I wanted.

They have the best onion rings. And they cost extra.

I know, I know. Small fries. But, hey. When your budget is small, it’s the little things that make a difference.

So, I told him, I loved their onion rings and would like those. They have good fries, too, I would have been happy with those.

Nice.

And, I asked if we could redeem our scoopie coupons. I didn’t know, but if you collect ten coupons, you could either get a free kids meal, or a toy. I like learning something new every day.

Since my little princess had her heart set on an actual “toy” for her brother, we had to get one of those. They were under the counter, and out they came. My little rug rat quickly grabbed the biggest boy toy at the top of the box and off he ran like a shot!

Poor princess. There was an adorable little stuffed dog in the box, too. His name is Fudge. Manager told us so. She looked so deflated.

Manager will be upset if he reads this, because he asked us not to tell.

But I’m telling.

And I’ll deny it all as a fabricated tale if asked.

For “likes”.

(But it’s true)

He whispered to my daughter she could have Fudge.

Those toys are cheap–I know (I didn’t say that). He acknowledged it. He knows.

Does my daughter know? No. All she knows is that she gave away her scoopie coupons to a little brother who likes the biggest baddest boy toys he can get his hands on. And she will get no enjoyment out of a big, bad boy toy her brother probably can’t even manage, and won’t be playing it with her.

And she also knows she is now the proud owner of Fudge. Who has bendable ears. And her brother got his Christmas gift too.

Princess likes dogs. Her doggies all gathered together a few days ago to watch “Bolt”. And you would be hard pressed to find a larger gathering of stuffing outside a toy store or fabric store than what was in the home theater that day (on the floor in front of my old, tiny laptop, although the stuffing thing might be a very slight exaggeration, for dramatic effect).

Today, we sat and enjoyed our lunch. The kids ate their meals, followed by their custard. Everyone had onion rings. It was a grand day out.

As we’re gathering together to head out, the Manager walks towards me and says, “I want to ensure you will visit us again.” and hands me two free custard coupons.

Humanity, bro.

Faith restored.

People are beautiful. And I will be returning to Culver’s. I didn’t need the coupons for that. It’s all icing on the cake, man.

childhood is beautiful

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I couldn’t rest until I posted a blurb today. The beauty of today is simple. My daughter is an artist. If you asked her, she would tell you so. At the ripe old age of ten, she has total and complete confidence that she is an artist. She is self assured, bold, assertive, and very bright. And, she’d add talented. In fact, she’d add a laundry list of the assets she is graced with because I tell her. I write it down in love notes (she likes card exchanges, and they’re frequently handed to me to fill in and return to her in the shape of a heart), I whisper it to her when she curls up on my lap, I tell her at bedtime.

Today, she had me take pictures of her new puppie’s doghouse to send to her sister. The doghouse was bare when she got it, and she colored it in. It’s mind-bogglingly gorgeous (yeah, I probably just made up a word).

I’m blown away by her gifts and talents over and over again. She oozes confidence and wherever we go, she jumps right in with total self-assurance that she will be accepted because she is worthy. She is a good friend to have and she knows it. She’s gracious, fiercely loyal and protective, and she gives her friendship without reserve. There is a charm and charisma that draws others to her. She will not be left out or ignored, so resistance is, as they say, futile.

She is beautiful. I love the beauty of childhood.

endings

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When I get to the end of a book, I react in some way. I’m sad to leave the characters behind if it was a good book, I may also be satisfied in the resolution of the story. At the end of a movie, I do likewise. I tend to think about it a bit, and if it was unsettling, I sometimes linger longer on my reflections. I like the movies that leave me with a warm, pleasant feeling, but you always want to go back for more.

So, is it any wonder that at the end of a year we give pause to look back at the year and wonder on it’s contents, and look forward to the next year in hopes it will unfold in a more hopeful way?

It has been a while since I’ve posted, and I’ve gained new followers in the interim (odd that, but welcome, all!), and I think a part of it is the length of time my life has been in a limbo mode. It’s not like life is standing still, but since I’ve either been in a survival mode or simply waiting on God that it seems like not much is going on. Yet, my children continue to grow and experience needs, and as they say, ‘Time marches on’.

With that in mind, looking back on 2014 doesn’t give me much to truly reflect on but the constancy of God. Is that a problem? Nope. Not at all.

I have moved–temporary. I have had a change in my financial status–temporary. I have enrolled my son in a new district with a whole new school, surroundings, teachers. . . temporary. I have begun again to homeschool my eldest daughter still in school–temporary.

We are surrounded by temporary. I need to hold on fast to the things that are eternal. I need to cling to what God’s promises are for the eternal. The things I have are not the things that will be.

I recently listened at a Wednesday night Q&A bible study to the response of my pastor which turned to the idea of being in limbo and waiting on God. As he responded, I sat there and began to cry. I couldn’t help it. He was talking about how sometimes, when you’re waiting on God, and you don’t know the outcome, because God has yet to reveal it to you, some people will perceive it as a cop out. As weakness, even. He said as a pastor, he spends a lot of time waiting on God and it’s tough as a leader to do that.

I get it. I’m in that place and some people find it unsettling. As if I can take over for God. It resonated with me in a familiar, “That’s it! Precisely!” kind of way. I felt it deep, and it moved me to know I’m okay.

We want to be in charge. We want to be in control. We want to know the answers, the responses, the clever comebacks and the formula. The formula to punch into our daily routine so that when we get our ducks all in a row, we know how it is going to end. I gave up on this a long time ago. Doesn’t mean I don’t try to take it all back, pick up the burden again, and wish I knew where God was going with my life.

I do have a rough guestimate. But I don’t know how to get there. I’ve seen glimpses. But I don’t know how to bring it to fruition. It’s bigger than me. It’s more than I can do in my capacity. That’s how I know it has to be from God. And that I have to wait on Him. And be ready.

What can I do in the meantime? Well, for starters (hehehe–endings?), I will stop the attitude of being in limbo. God has something for me today. Tomorrow, next week–it’s future. Today. That’s what I need to focus on.

As I look at closing the curtain on 2014, the focus I have as the curtain rises for 2015 is beauty.

I’ve really decided I’m a pessimistic optimist. I don’t know how else to define my POV. I know the end of the story. It ends good. I know I’ll be standing with the hero of the story when God closes the book on time and reopens the gates of eternity. But every day isn’t sunshine and roses, and I know I’ll get burned now and again. Pessimistic optimism. I’m cool with that.

How does that fit in with the theme of beauty, you ask?

Well, I recently told a woman she is beautiful because her beauty is not simply the exterior, it comes from within, where it truly matters. I don’t mean that I don’t appreciate physical beauty, what I mean is that I’m going to focus on the beauty in this day. The beauty of the here and now. Whatever it is that God shows me today that is beautiful in my world. Because there is beauty to be found, and I need to see it.

Standing still on the edge of tomorrow, at the end of 2014, I have hope in the beauty of 2015. Because God is in it, and He’s got something beautiful waiting to unfold before me this year.

I don’t want to miss it.

Back to School

OneRoomphoto credit

It’s silent in the house. It’s the first day of school. Back to school for my two youngest ones. For the second year in a row. Before that, I was a homeschool mom. But here I sit. In silence. And now I’m crying. This is not what I signed up for. This is not the life I longed for.

I don’t look forward to the peace and quiet of having my children gone. I loved the noise of children’s laughter pealing through the house. I love that they sat outside on the deck or patio and ate breakfast, then played the mornings away until the sun was too warm and it was time for school to begin. I love that I taught the children to read. I loved being a homeschool mom.

But now, as my life has taken the turn of being a single mom. A divorced, single mom, with a child who has a label which requires a great deal from me—I am not, at this time, able to homeschool. And I grieve for this loss as much as the loss of my former life and role of wife and stay-at-home mom.

Sure, the facade was just that. A facade. And no one knew what was going on behind closed doors—not even the children truly knew what was going on, but I wore the facade well. With that shattered, I have to look much more closely at what I am. Who I am. And I feel I come up short.

I feel inadequate to be the mom I want to be. I feel inadequate to provide for them like they need me to. I feel inadequate to be a light, a friend, a witness, a testimony for my Lord and Saviour. I feel so human. So faulted. So, not super. Not supermom, not superfriend, not super anything. I feel less than ordinary.

And I don’t sleep. Not well. I am trying to sleep at night but I have great difficulty getting to sleep. And I overslept today. I got the children up late, got them to school later than intended, had to rush to get their bags packed when I had intended to get up early and make sure everything was set and ready and they were good to go. And I missed taking the first day of school photos because we had to run to the car and hop in just to get there late, on time.

So, tomorrow, I will snap back to school photos. It’s still valid. It’s not perfect, it’s not ideal, it’s not what I wanted. Or want. But it’s what we’ve got and we deal.

I don’t know why it is what it is, but that is how it is. I don’t know why this all happened in my life, or why I have to be an example for everything difficult (at least that’s what it feels like sometimes), but I am.

When I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day (I have very few divorced friends, they’re mostly the homeschool mom friends I’ve known all these years), we were talking about our past, which we do, every so often. She and I go way back. Back to before our eldest children were even in school—the ones that graduated from homeschool already—and we have these coversations about our idealism back in the beginning. How we thought if you do this “right” and you do that “right” then everything will be. . . al”right”.

Where do we go wrong? In our thinking? In our perceptions? In our choices? In our level of faith? Level of maturity? Have we gone wrong? Is everything going to be alright?

I have to believe it will be. Some of our friends don’t homeschool and never have. Some have kids in public school, some in private. We marvel at the ones whose children are these amazing testimonies and light in a perverse and crooked generation (Philippians 2:15) when we thought, in our youthful zealous well-intentioned homeschool mommy mode, that homeschooling is the only way. The right way. The narrow path that leads to light and life that all the “other” children were on the path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). But all these years later, that isn’t so.

We weren’t all called to homeschool. We aren’t all going to make it to the end with our marriages intact (although that, truly, is God’s design). Why me? Why them? Why? Why? Why?

It occurred to me then, during our conversation, as I am reminded now, that as it is not God’s design for us to go through what we do, we do, however go through things because there is sin in the world. Sometimes ours, sometimes other’s sin has an impact on us that is monumental. Earth shattering (for us), even. And yet, God is still God, the same yesterday, as today, as tomorrow, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

And God needs witnesses in every walk of life. I am not likely to reach an upper middle class couple whose marriage is strong, their life is sweet, their children are content, and lovely, and get along, and have everything they need/want/desire/can even think of wanting. I am not likely to reach a young mom, fresh off the farm, whose husband works hard providing their simple life, and she is planning on homeschooling.

Where is my field, then? Probably divorced moms with kids in school. My choice? No. But it’s where I am. I have my field. It’s wide open.

My life will never again be what it was. It can’t be. It won’t be. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. It doesn’t mean God can’t use me. And it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have something better in store for me.

Because I know he does.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (quoting Isaiah 64:4)

bring on the conversation!

bring it on

Recognize this?

Since the day my youngest son was born, I have known I wanted to give him every opportunity to have the greatest possible clarity of speech he was capable of achieving.  This may seem unusual, given the fact that he is my youngest son, meaning I must have another son or sons — so why wasn’t I concerned about their speech?  Well, my youngest son has Down syndrome.

I had seen people with Down syndrome, and could recognize the physical features of it when I met  my youngest son the day he was born.  There are features typical to people with ds, but not all people with ds have every trait (I learned those visible characteristics were referred to as “markers” when my son was born).

Based on my life up until that point, I was aware of a few key factors.

  1. People who speak different are treated different.  That treatment may be better or worse depending on the speech patterns.
  2. People who look different are treated different.  Again, treatment is going to be better or worse, and that can be subjective to your definition of better or worse.  Sometimes “special” treatment seems better to one person and worse to the person receiving the “special” treatment.
  3. My child was going to get the best life I could give him, just like his siblings.  And that would mean some extra effort on my part for him that my other kiddos simply didn’t need.

If you’ve read this far and keep on going, I have to share a disclaimer:  I am not getting any paid reimbursement for the information contained in this post (note there are no actual links).  I’m simply passing along what I’ve learned.  If you read this and get something out of it, GREAT!  I wish you success!  I have culled much from the parents of kiddos with ds who have gone before me, and that is something I’ve truly appreciated.

I had not, at that time, heard any individuals with ds speak who had clear enunciation skills.  It took time and patience to understand them.  I’m cool with that.  What I didn’t know was if this was just the way it is for people with ds, or if there was anything I could do to give Boo (nickname) his best chance at clear speech, of reaching his greatest potential in this specific area of development.

The services we had available to us through the state’s education early intervention programs gave me access to Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapists at birth,  plus other therapies/treatments as needed.  I was told that Occupational Therapists could do what the Speech Therapists do, at such a young age.  I wasn’t buying that.  There is some crossover, but the training is not the same.  Otherwise, both fields and jobs wouldn’t exist.  I wasn’t told I couldn’t have it, just not encouraged to get it — yet.

Guess what?  Speech was the first and only therapy I used — in the beginning.  So, if you’re a mom with a newborn with Down syndrome and you’re reading this right now, my advice would be to get Speech therapy for your infant.  If you want, get OT and PT from the get-go, too!

The deal is, however, with ds, there are delays.  Delays in walking, delays in potty training, delays in speaking, etc..  And, the delays are later for speech (overall) for boys than girls.  So, when Boo didn’t hit markers here and there — not concerned.  ‘It’ll happen’, I thought.  ‘It’ll come in his timing’, I thought.

But what will guarantee the clarity?  Why hadn’t I heard many individuals with ds having clear speech, and for the ones that did, what is the difference?  Will speech therapy give him that?  These were some of my glaring concerns.

So, the Kansas City Down Syndrome Guild, which I belong to, brought in a speaker for a conference from an organization that sold some of the products I had actually been using with Boo.  I’d just never looked at the parent company to know what they were all about.  I thought they merely manufactured/sold tools/manipulatives therapists used.

I got an education.  The organization is TalkTools, and their website can be reached by adding a dotcom to the end of their name.  You can check them out for yourself.  The Speech/Language Pathologist who started TalkTools, Sarah Rosenfeld Johnson, calls her method and approach Oral Motor Therapy.  Why so?

Let me share with you my understanding of her approach vs. typical Speech Therapy, which she does not recommend you stop using, but use in conjunction with her methods.  You and I, and other typically developing individuals have typical sensory perception.  We feel a finger tapping our lip, we can discern biting the inside of our mouth.  Our tongue “gets it” to mirror what someone shows us when they lift theirs to the roof of their mouth and says “like this”.  Our tastebuds can discern a wider range, with varying sensitivities to spicy and sweet. . . You get the picture.

People with ds and/or other individuals with delays/development issues routinely need more sensory input before they respond.  We take for granted that it “just happens” and no one had to teach us how.  But for these individuals, their muscles need training, and that is a part of what Oral Motor Therapy does.  The focus is on gaining the skills needed to perform feeding and speaking tasks that typically developing individuals do not need; to build “muscle memory” into them so they can have both the strength and stamina of the supporting structures, i.e., the jaw, lips, and tongue, in order to be able to speak all day, and to eat effectively, without fatigue.

Traditional Speech therapy, on the other hand, is not as focused on assisting the development of the supporting structures, as on the production of the outcome of these structures, i.e., getting the sounds out and/or resolving the feeding issues.  I’m not saying that there aren’t Speech therapists that use methods to try and assist in the outcome, they learn about the supporting structures, and many have employed methods they have learned by trial and error, or through experience over the years.  What I mean is that Traditional Speech therapy does not focus on the training of the supporting structures.

Here are two ways I can try and illustrate the point:  football players have strength, and  they train for endurance.  Somewhere along the line, someone figured out that their movements and performance on the field could be improved by incorporating training that engaged them in fluidity.  And, so the idea of ballet came to someone’s mind, and thus began a whole new level of football finesse.

My second example to illustrate the difference is for the ladies out there, a personal example of my own.  When I was young, I took piano lessons for ten years.  For the first eight years, I had three different teachers.  I would sit at the lessons, side by side with the teacher, or watch her.  She would inevitably play for me exactly what she wanted me to work on for the next lesson.  Then, she’d send me home with the assignments in the book.  My fourth, and final teacher played for me maybe, two times, before she realized I was playing by ear, and couldn’t read the music.  I learned more and improved more in those last two years by her forcing me to learn to read the music than the entire eight years prior, combined.

The desired outcome is the same.  The focus and methodology is different, even if there is some cross-over.

It was so very enlightening to hear this information about Oral Motor Therapy .  The therapist who was the presenter that day said something magical to me (to us, really, but I knew God meant it for me), she said, as I recall it, “There is no [physical] reason an individual with Down syndrome cannot have the same clarity of speech as you or I.”

Those were the words I’d been waiting to hear Boo’s entire life!  I am so excited about the prospect of giving him the tools (FINALLY!), to have the best speech he can have.  I’m not going to deceive you, this comes with a price, if you don’t have the insurance to cover it, but the folks there have the ability to help you figure out how to make it something your insurance will cover, if they can.

I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get a hold of the resources I need so I can get started.   My little Boo is six years old now, and jabbers so very, very much.  I know he knows what he’s saying.  I can tell it’s clear as a bell in his head.  It’s just that not everything is discernible, and it all runs together, and only bits and pieces are clear.  But, now I get it.  Now I understand the things that were missing and why, and know what I need to do to help him.  This is one method.  There may be others — Oral Motor Therapy is the only one I’ve heard of so far that has a step-by-step, organized, methodical, measurable plan focused on reaching the desired outcome.

That, folks — that right there — it’s awesome!

barbed and dangerous

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This here is a barbed wire fence.  Ever feel barbed wire on yer skin?  Ouch!

Open is the watchword.  Open to whatever God brings my way this year, because I know it’s going to be a doozy!  There are so many changes I have to anticipate this year and at times I feel quite raw with this ‘open’-ness attitude.  I’m not all like, “Bring it!”, but more like, “Must I?  Really?”

Seeing this open-ness as an opportunity for growth, and opportunity for being grateful makes me think.  To think, I have to focus.  To focus, I must put down whatever I’m doing and spend time alone, free from distraction.  Distraction keeps me from thinking about the changes I have to anticipate this year.  Thinking about the changes forces me to feel raw, bare, exposed, and then I have to work harder at seeing what I have to be grateful for.  See a pattern?

I’m finding that being open leaves me feeling more than usually vulnerable.  I believe this can be a good thing.  I hate feeling exposed, though.  Especially since I feel rather lacking when I open up.  I feel like people will see how much I don’t have it together, how I really don’t have the answers.  God knows, though.  He sifts through the garbage of our lives and knows just what is worth keeping and what never really mattered to begin with.

I recently had a conversation with a pastor I know and respect.  He’s not currently my pastor, he’s in a state far from here now, but I appreciate that he has made himself available to me still.  My life is not turning out the way I thought it would years ago, when I was young, and as that can be exciting and good, since our expectations rarely equal the reality, my reality sometimes stinks.  To wit, I had anticipated being in one marriage for the rest of my life.  That is not my reality.  Til death do us part was the goal.  As a Christian, I took that as being my only option, even when the marriage wasn’t good.

Now, I know I mentioned the conversation I had with the pastor, yet I haven’t even touched on what was said.  I’m not gonna air my dirty laundry here, so don’t get excited (sheesh!)!  It is amazing how many pastors don’t want to talk about the big “D” in any capacity.  Since I knew this Brother-in-Christ had no problem taking the bull by the horns and sharing his knowledge, and therefore, his biblically-based opinion, I broached the subject with him.  I laid it all out and gave him the down-lo to see if, in his opinion, I had been in the wrong with what I had done.  I am thankful that he let me know he believed I was blameless up to this point.  Whew!  I  was glad for that confirmation.  Nothing like getting an affirmation from someone you trust and respect.

See, most people don’t have a problem with divorce.  Since fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce these days, what’s the big deal, right?  And Christian marriages have the same (or worse, by some calculations) divorce rate as those who do not claim Christianity, no biggy.  Personally, I believe the statistics on Christian vs. non-Christian are probably skewed since more and more people are living together and not getting married, then you don’t have a real picture of the actual “break-up” rate of “commited” partnerships (or un-coupling as it appears the new strange word is becoming, thank you Hollywood), but I digress.

To me, divorce is a GREAT big deal.  A big NO-NO for Christians.  Except under certain, and by certain, I mean rare circumstances.  Therefore, the big deal to me is did my circumstances really qualify?  And what now, right?

Ok, but that’s not where I’m going at the moment.  After our conversation, pastor told me that he would continue praying for me (ongoing circumstances), and that he wanted me to keep him posted on the situation, he then said something that gave me pause.  He said, “Remain blameless.”

Yeah.  You read that right.  Remain blameless.  In his opinion, I had been blameless to date, and then he gives me the warning like Jesus gave the adulterous women, essentially, — although adultery has nothing to do with my situation — when he told her to “Go, and sin no more.”  Christ said, to put it in my loosely transliterated terms, “You’re clean now, off you go, and ‘Remain blameless.'”

POW!  Right in the kisser.  You think I haven’t thought of that since?  I had routinely questioned my every move, choice, word, deed, action, etc. during my marriage as a matter of course because of the situation I was in.  You’d think that would be a wake up call, don’t ya? Yes, indeed.  Then I started in with the ultra-microscope examination, because, there are times when you do become slack (we’re warned against this Proverbs 10:4) and told rather to be diligent.  The word translated as diligent in the bible is used in 102 verses.  That’s more than twice, and since it bears repeating, it’s important.

And blameless?  Well, the word translated as blameless is used in 42 verses.  I hate that.  That’s still a lot.

I’ve been feeling a bit exposed since then.  I have examined myself and found myself lacking at times.  I see there’s a bit of work to do (Say it with me, “understatement”).  When I was no longer a part of a marital relationship, I took the time to sit back and relax, free from the anxieties that had overtaken me during the last months of an intense situation, and that was something that I needed.  I know that the recovery process from divorce and all the implications is sometimes long and slow, and it’s like any grieving process with steps to acceptance and moving on, but there comes a point when you do have to examine yourself and, well, move on.

Hence, the barbed wire.

Are we there yet?

I am a danger to myself if I don’t take the time to reflect.  I’ve spent a lot of time on auto-pilot, going through the motions of the day, knowing there’s a new life in store for me, but it hasn’t yet become a reality.  The divorce process has been slow, to say the least, and it’s not yet final, so, it’s like a horizon is there, but I keep moving, and it doesn’t get any closer.  I don’t expect to fall off the edge of the earth, I’m simply looking forward to what is beyond this day.  Beyond this chapter.  But I keep turning the pages and there’s no end.

So, it leaves me feeling raw.  Now I’m raw and self-conscious.

Yet, I do see God’s hand in each turn of events, because this was necessary for me.  I needed to know I’d gotten to the place where I can begin to evaluate myself and take responsibility for where I am, and where I need to be.

It’s time to move forward, to step off the edge and see the book as closed, and just accept.

Open

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At the beginning of this new year, I have decided to select a word that will be my heart focus for the year.  Many things are happening and many more are to come.  Changes that I never planned for are opening up new paths to me.  Foreign paths to trod and experience.  I will be open to them.

I am open to change, to possibility, to the unknown.  I will remain open with expectation, with hope, with anticipation of greatness.  My life will be open to what is in store even if it means I need to change mid-stream.

One other thing comes to mind.  When God spoke with Moses in the wilderness, He asked him what he had in his hand (Exodus 4).  In order for God to change what was ordinary in Moses’ hand, he had to throw it down before the Lord.  In order to throw it down, he had to open his hand.  Being open, then, also means I will let God use what I have to accomplish what needs to happen.

Welcome 2014.  I believe you and I will be just fine.

ordinary gratitude

Life.  It’s what we do.  I’m no different than anyone else in that.  However, today is a day unlike any other.  I’m beginning something new.  Although I live and breathe and eat and sleep like any ordinary jane, I’m going to do so with you.  Not WITH you, literally, but with you in the sense that you can see it all here.  And certainly not live.  This ain’t no reality tv show.  It’s what I do day in, day out.  Live.  I’m a mom.  I have dreams.  I like pretty things.  I like to cook and keep home.  I like to hear the laughter of my children.  I like to take pictures.  I like the smell of rain in the air before it arrives.  I like the cycle of the year and seeing the rebirth of all things living in the spring.

I enjoy life.  I see it’s beauty in the ordinary.  And it makes me grateful.