Man Child and the Double Digits

The look on his face when he saw me standing there in the kitchen; saltines in one hand, small butter knife with butter on it in the other, was the dead giveaway.

“What are you eating?” he asked

“Saltines and butter! Why are you judging?” I sourly retorted

“Why are you eating that?” his tone giving way to disgust

“What do you mean?” I replied appalled. “Why wouldn’t you eat that?”

“Mom, that’s gross,”

“Well, it doesn’t taste gross to my emotions, okay,” I replied still a little bitter.

He just stared.

“I think I am sad that you are turning 10 tomorrow,” my voice cracking with the tears. “I just wasn’t ready for the emotions of you getting older. So these are helping.”

Smiling he leans into me, wraps his arms around my waist, and just stays. We chat a bit more about my favorite age so far, his laugh, his sister, how he should stop growing, and how it’s really okay he is getting older.

Today I am 10 years into parenting this guy. I am 10 years into discovering who he is, and today it seems as if we have turned a corner. This corner of grown-up and I can’t even. My heart is playing the movies of his toddler days on quiet repeat, reminiscing sub-consciously of goldfish, Wild Kratts, afternoon naps, Cars movie marathons, chubby baby cheeks, sweet innocent laughter, babyhood and being his favorite. He hasn’t been a baby for a long time, he hasn’t been a toddler for a long time, and technically I have this year and next left in elementary school, yet today, saying goodbye to that single digit age carries a significance my heart is trying to grasp.

Maybe it’s because we only have him. There is no one else in our house who will be nine after him. He is it. Embracing his age as an only child is like celebrating your oldest and grieving your youngest getting older all at the same time, apparently. What do I know though? Last night I was just a mom eating saltines and butter in my kitchen ignoring my feelings about my son turning 10.

To Isaac- Happy Birthday buddy!

You’re taller then anybody in this house prefers. Your shoulders are getting broader foretelling of the manhood that is coming. Your heart carries a wisdom that life granted you early and I can see your age catching you up. I joke that your dad and I are either saving for college or therapy, we aren’t sure yet because how easily I peak into this season and see the places I believe I am failing. I can helicopter parent like best of them sometimes demanding more then you have to give. I can also lean to the opposite extreme where I leave you to your own devices. My drive always is to find that middle ground where I helicopter far enough away. You son though. You are a treasure. This beautiful soul that I get to wake up to every day and discover. Although not a fan of school, you love your friends there. You are kind and considerate. You still love a good joke, and we are constantly navigating the seas of appropriate and simply too far. I can see you pushing for more independence, stretching for our family to make room for a new older version of you. You still love family movie night, game night, and pizza every Friday. Although my heart is processing today all that this double-digit holds, I am excited to see what is to come for you. To see more of God’s master design in you. I have called you man-child for as long as I can remember and it dawned on me today that now sooner than later, that phrase won’t apply. You will no longer be a man-child, you will simply be a man. Until then though….

Happy Birthday, Man-Child!

Today you are 6

Dear Katie Grace,

Today you are 6.

This day 6 years ago you blew into our world, according to us you were 2 weeks late, however you were perfectly on your time.  A time frame we continued to live on all the days we had you.

If I were being forthright I am not quite sure how to celebrate you today.  Last year was simply the 1st year and it was so mixed with the beauty and sadness of your graduation, I think we just got by.  This second year seems to demand something different from me, its like a call from within to know how we are going to remember you every year.  You  know what would be the most like you, is to make the tradition a thing we revisit every year.  To be consistently inconsistent.  I mean for all who knew you, they know, that was your MO in life.  Grammie and I always said if you were anything but tenacious, it was consistently inconsistent.

We miss you here.  Although we are joyful always in where you are and who you are with, our flesh can’t help but miss your presence.  Your brother misses you sooo much.  He is continually asking us for another sibling,  we are doing our best but maybe you and the Lord can send us some help on that one.  You left an imprint on his heart that I don’t know if we will ever see the fullness of until he is grown.

This year has held a lot of changes for us, we have rested in a way we haven’t in years.  Our little family of three has connected and grown in who we are.  We have you to thank for that on many levels.  I believe a part of your destiny was to come and love us until death with every piece of you so that we had the opportunity to step into who we are.  You are ingrained into us, and as much as we try we can’t help but talk about you.  About who we are because of you, about what we know because of you, about how we were and are loved because of you. If you hadn’t said yes, and let this day be your birthday, we wouldn’t have had that opportunity.

Thank you baby girl for saying yes to life today.  To coming on your own time and doing life on your own terms.  For choosing us as your family and gracing us with your presence.

We love you with all of us.

Momma, Daddy and Isaac.


Man Child

Tomorrow, you will be 7, and you have experienced more in your brief 7 years then most.  Our life today isn’t what I thought it would be when you first came into this world.

When you were born, I was bound in chosen captivity. A captivity that made your life selected for you.  You were destined to be a farmer, to carry a last name that wasn’t yours(a name your dad and I carried also that wasn’t ours), and to walk a path without choice.  You could only be what your dad was, and do what the family was doing.  God was bigger though, and he broke us free. Your birth drove your dad  to no longer settle for complacency, and choosing captivity was more intimidating with you in the world.

The story is long, detailed and I hear often it needs to be in a book, yet at the end we left that family.  You, Me and your dad; three strangers practically; forging our way into a world we had hid from.  Yet we couldn’t stop, we couldn’t quit. We had you.  We needed to be okay. To keep moving, to keeping chasing the Lord wherever we felt led.

I am grateful because it led us to our community.  The one we have to this very day.  A community full of choices, broken people pursing health,  messes, and brave communication.

When your sister was born, it was that community that held us.  And it was you who pushed us to not stop.  To not quit.  But to be okay, to keep moving, to keep chasing the Lord wherever he led.  You needed us to be okay, to find the strength to do life with Katie Grace well.  You needed us to be the example of how to find God in the pain. To watch us learn how to lean into his chest and breathe in his peace as your heartbreaks.  You needed to see us trust him when it looked like we shouldn’t.  To chose forgiveness when we had every right to chose bitterness.  To chose grace when could have been angry and to chose to be powerful when we could have been a victim.

Not only did your presence push us but you met us there.  You embraced your sister in the fullness of who she was from the moment we brought her home.  You were insistent upon reading her books each night before bed.  You were careful and aware of how fragile she was.  As her care demanded more, and equipment began to fill our house, you carried an awareness of tubes and cords, diligently making sure not to pull or trip over anything.  That tenderness that wraps your heart and oozes out your pores, drew you to her.  Letting her nurses step in as your playmates but always pretending she was playing with you, sitting next to her as you worked on your leapster including her in your games and photos.

To be honest son, some days I get lost in all that you have had to negotiate in your life. Between your dad and I learning how to do marriage, our sweet Katie Grace, and our rocky beginning; I wonder how on earth you have turned out so well.  Earnest to makes those around you laugh, so free with your love and compliments, your tenderness.  And then I write this, and as I type I am overwhelmed with the bigger picture.  You see you are a catalyst son.  Your dad and I would not be where we are today without you.  We wouldn’t be who we are today without your sister, but surely we would not be where we are without you.  You have held us in account for how we do life.  Your presence has called us to chase after the deeper.  To be better and to keep moving.  You are one, Isaac Adam, who will call people to health.

Please forgive me for every moment, my heart mourned that you didn’t have a “normal” life.  That I thought my “mistakes” took away from you.  I see now…..I see how much I couldn’t have done what I did, if I didn’t have you. And how much that is apart of your destiny.  A part of the greatness that God has for you.

I am going to swap my mourning for dancing and my sorrow for joy.  I am going to dance on injustice and declare the goodness.  Thank you my boy, for being you. For running the race with your dad and I.  For saying yes to your sister. For being the watching eyes that called us to greater. For giving us your laughter, your love, and your tenderness.  You have changed my world in ways I am just beginning to understand.

I love you man child. Happy Birthday!

Community sweet community.

This past month has flown by and in a way my brain still can’t grasp it.  Between Thanksgiving, Charles’ Birthday, Christmas performances for a certain Kindergartener, and Katie Grace’s birthday our days have been full.  As the dust settles this week, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.  Throwing this birthday party for Katie Grace was kind of a big deal.  In a lot of ways, I have hid her away.  Only sharing her when my heart felt strong enough.  There are only so many stares that you can take, or ignoring, and purposely avoiding that your heart can swallow. Also the amount of work it takes to take her places is exhausting, the getting machines ready, oxygen, do we have meds, do we have enough snot rags, diaper bag full, warm clothes, cool clothes (more often cool then warm.) Then once we get somewhere, I have zero control over the lights, the temperature, the loudness, the things that bug her and make her uncomfortable.  I can help make her comfortable at home but not when we are out.  So, because it has always been Katie Grace preference to be home, and easier on my heart, we have just stayed home.

When Charles and I settled on throwing Katie Grace a birthday party this year, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into.  You know she doesn’t talk, walk,  smile (well smile on que), open presents, or blow out candles.  Her infectious laughter wasn’t going to fill the room, and squeals of glee over wanted birthday presents weren’t going to resound through the wall.  I had my concerns about how this party was going to go down.  Not even mentioning the practical things of her care. To say I was overwhelmed with the thought of it all was an understatement. How awkward would this party be?

I found myself compelled though.  I just couldn’t let the only party I throw for my daughter be her funeral.  If this is really our last year with her, I wanted her to be celebrated on the day she chose to join this world, not just the day she leaves it.  So we planned and planned, and on Saturday December 13th , we had an amazing day celebrating.  Our friend Michele, from North Carolina, who had yet had a chance to meet Katie Grace, flew out to be our photographer.  She captured some beautiful moments for us.

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As I sit here today typing, and looking at these pictures I am moved again to tears.  Not only was there not an awkward moment, but my daughter was held, talked to, doted on, and embraced with such tenderness.  She wasn’t looked at sideways or with question but she was embraced. Friends her age held her hand, and stroked her hair. They brought her presents, cards, and filled that room with such a tangible love. And when the time came to blow out the candles on her cake, she was surrounded by kids who blew them out for her. Where she couldn’t, they did.  This was the first time I had invited so many people so intimately into my life with Katie Grace, and without a skipping a beat they wrapped us up and loved us like they had lived in our house for the past 4 years.

On that day, my not normal special needs daughter was normal. Where she lacked; her friends had more then enough.  Her community, our community that day surrounded us, with God’s relentless and perfect love.  The love that knows brokenness but does not see it, that covers you with strength when you are weak. I know heaven won’t feel strange to her because she has already been enveloped with a heavenly love here on earth.

To our community thank you.  Thank you times a thousand. Her birthday party wouldn’t have been possible without you nor would it have been the same. To those of you who donated on her YouCaring page, her birthday was because of you, thank you.

A huge shout out to the for being there to entertain and keep busy a large group of children. Your service was outstanding and unforgettable. If you live in the Redding area these guys should be on your call list for birthday parties, or if you run a preschool or daycare.

Our next adventure begins this upcoming Saturday.  We will be packing up what will seem like most of our house and traveling to Southern California to see Aunt Jessie. Just like her birthday party, it is scary and overwhelming. And just like her birthday party, I feel compelled. Compelled to give her one amazing year on this earth.

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