Thankfulness: what we can handle

Day nineteen: I read an article today about suffering & what we as humans can handle. I’ve written before about the well meaning things people have said to us on our journey. Much has been kindly ignorant (emphasis on the kind). When something is uncomfortable or foreign, it can be easy to say the easy or cliche thing, simply because you just don’t know. I know I have said my fair share of ignorant things about topics I knew nothing about in my life.
The article today focused on one cliche in particular, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” We’ve heard that many times over the past 19 months. But the reality is, sometime you do get more than you can handle. And it’s hard & scary & tough & you want to scream! But I’m willing to bet that there aren’t a lot of personal trainers out there who only give their clients what they can “handle” or teachers who only give their students exams that they’ll ace. Because fortunately, growth happens through the struggle. I don’t believe we were picked or destined to be parents of a child with Down syndrome or a strong willed child. I don’t think that we were already perfectly suited to be parents to these two. I believe we are working and struggling and growing everyday. I’m so grateful we’ve been given more than we can handle. What a blessing to be pushed and to survive.

Thankfulness: the joy

Day eighteen: Technically, I could write 30 posts about my children. But I don’t want to bore you. So I’m trying to mix it up a little & show all the little things about my kids that I’m thankful for.
Today, it’s the overwhelming joy that this little guy brings us & exudes. I know, “kids with Down syndrome aren’t always happy”. Then someone should tell David. He’s really almost always happy. What a joy he is to our lives! I’m so thankful for his happy nature.

IMG_1348-1.JPG

Thankfulness: the faithfulness

Day sixteen: I’m going to let the words of Matt Redman speak better than I could today (emphasis my own)

Never Once

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore well be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

I’m so incredibly grateful for the faithfulness of God throughout my life.

Thankfulness: the energy

Day fourteen: I may never say this again so read this closely. I am thankful for Ella’s energy. (Gulp, that was hard to type – it’s a double edged sword)
From the day she was born she has been excited, animated, stubborn, feisty & fierce. I knew early on that she was going to give me a run for my money. She is strong willed, passionate & has energy that should be bottled – we’d make a fortune!
Some days her energy exhausts me and frightens me for the future; I’m only going to get older! Other days I just sit back and observe. She is creative, fun, excited about everything & on the days I sit back and let her, she inspires me.
I am so glad God blessed me with the surprise girl I prayed for. She’s everything I dreamed of and nothing I expected. I’m so thankful for her.
Though she be but little, she is fierce.” William Shakespeare

IMG_1529.JPG

Thankfulness: the support

Day thirteen: Once a month I lead an Infertility Support Group. As a therapist, my specialty is Reproductive Mental Health so this opportunity to connect with women on their fertility journey is so important to me and I love it! I feel like each month I get as much out of our group as the ladies do. We all share, sometimes cry and at the end of our session, I think everyone feels like they are really understood for the first time in a long time.
We had our own reproductive journey with David & even now, I sometimes feel I have some PTSD from that pregnancy. Once you’ve experienced trouble conceiving, you join a new club & you have a different outlook on pregnancy and parenthood. But even if I hadn’t personally experienced what these women are going through, I can still “get it”. Support is an overwhelming thing. It can get you through your darkest moments and give you the added push to believe that it’s all going to be ok. At our core, humans are made to connect and we are prewired for companionship. I am so grateful that no matter my circumstance, I have always been surrounded by support. For as much as I have a love/hate relationship with social media, the connections I have made & the people I have “met” through Facebook groups or Instagram are invaluable. They have gotten me through some of my darkest days.
C.S Lewis wrote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” I have reread that quote many times this month because of its simple truth. That moment of connection is priceless. I’m so thankful for support at it’s deepest level and from every form.

Thankfulness: the plan

Day twelve: Yes, I had a topic to write about today, but things got derailed. I’m ok with changing course (sometimes)
Not every moment of every day is full of thankfulness. Some days the temperature is 5 degrees and the 7 minute drive to school takes 25 minutes and you just barely get home after an hour and a half on the road when daycare calls & says your little guy (who had been giggling and laughing not 2 hours before) is projectile vomiting. And on your way home from picking up the sick boy, you get into a fender bender due to snow & slick roads. So you exchange insurance information in the freezing cold & drive home with a dent in the door. And then you get home, get your sick one to sleep and you receive an uncomfortable email. You change the third outfit the sick baby vomited through and turn around and get back in the (dented) car to pick up your other sweet one. Then finally, relief! Your sweet husband brings home pizza to try and make the best of a not so awesome day & the whole family tucks in early on a cold, snowy night. But then you hear your four year old sobbing as she walks toward your room with an “I’m covered in throw up!” to discover that she is in fact covered. So a bath interrupts your early night and your fear of catching whatever is going around your house is far less than your eagerness to let your sick four year old snuggle in your bed for the night.
So yeah, it’s not always days full of thankful moments. But I am thankful everyday.

Thankfulness: the unexpected

Day eleven: For most of my life, my life has gone the way of most Type A people. Well, one of two ways: The way I want it or The way I planned. I feel like I often got what I wanted. Not in a selfish, whiny brat way but in a “I work hard, have clear goals & focus, so things are going to come together way.” For many of us Type Aers (it’s a word) life continues to go along that track. I thought I was one of the typical ones. But I can literally pinpoint the day that all changed: December 23, 2005.
That was the day I “met” my husband (I say “met” because I truly met him in 1994 as sophomores in high school, but the December 2005 meeting is the one that really matters since that’s when we started dating). Up to that day, I had worked hard, accomplished goals & made plans all on my own. From that day forward all plans have been made with someone else. I’m not going to sugar coat it & say I’ve gone along willingly or given up control gracefully. I’ve kicked, screamed, cried, whined & begged. So much of the journey has left me feeling like the passenger & for some who’s used to driving, it’s been difficult.
Today I looked at David and I thought for the millionth time, “I can’t believe this is my life.” I still can’t believe I am the mother of a child with Down syndrome. But I think this without the initial, “I can’t believe this is my life! Woe is me!” attitude that I had when we were first diagnosed.
There are so many aspects of my life right now that were not a part of my original life plan. And you know what? Thank goodness!! What a blessing to be surprised, to be shaken out of my comfort zone. What a treat to be this new version of myself that even my most ambitious plans wouldn’t have created. How awesome to be forever changed by the unexpected.

Thankfulness: the mess

Day ten: I have dreams of having a beautiful home. Not a huge mansion, but a beautifully decorated home. In high school I planned to become an interior designer, not because I had any talent for design but I hoped the profession would turn me into someone with style. Even now, I follow designers & home interior gurus on Instagram and love the way they style a room, knowing I’m an observer only. My home is cozy, just not particularly stylish.
Last year, we redid our guest room into Ella’s big girl room to make space for David. She is obsessed with mermaids so I scoured Pinterest for mermaid & nautical inspired rooms. The board was full of beautiful pins & while the final result wasn’t exactly what I had mind, Ella & I were both pleased.
The more I dive into my design side (read: my imaginary side) and the more bloggers I follow & inspiration I muster up, the more I admire these beautiful pictures and gorgeous room designs. There are tablescapes for every occasion and gallery walls for every home. Stunning white couches, cabinets and carpets are featured everywhere and I’m overwhelmed and pin it all. And then I remember, I have children.
I have no idea how “real people” with children keep a house stylishly decorated. Every single corner of my home is touched by children. From the crayon pictures all over the fridge to the bins of toys in our living room. Even our bedroom has toys & cups littering the end tables & floor. There is no space untouched. And the mermaid room Ella & I so adore? Here’s what it looks like now:

IMG_1708.JPG

IMG_1709.JPG

IMG_1710.JPG
I planned & expertly executed a “dream room” and then a 4 year old moved in. And she loves books and princesses and Legos and babies in addition to princesses. It’s her room & she wants to set up parties & move bins and while I think it would look so much more “stylish” minus the circus tent or adding the handmade underwater mobile I spent hours crafting, her room is totally hers. It makes her happy and it’s a place she feels comfortable. It’ll never be featured in a Pottery Barn catalogue but I’ll take the mess over the design any day.
“Excuse the mess, my children are making memories.”

Thankfulness: a three for all

Oh my gosh, I’m behind on my blog! (Feign shock & awe) Like many things in my life, I have really good, awesome intentions & sometimes my thought process is more thorough than my follow thru. I should’ve written rough drafts of each blog way in advance so at least each day I’d only need to edit & publish. But who has time to write 30 blogs in one sitting? So, here’s three days worth of blogs in one convenient package.
Day Six: I’m so thankful I live in a free country. I was going to say I’m grateful to be an American but that sounds a little cliche & I’ve never lived anywhere else so I can’t accurately compare. I’m sure there are many citizens of first world countries who love and appreciate where they live. So I’ll keep mine simple. I’m grateful to live somewhere where I can start a business I want, worship how & where I want, send my kids to the school I want & make decisions about what’s best for our family the way Jason & I want. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not have those freedoms and I don’t take them for granted.
Day seven: I’m grateful I live in this generation. I’ve made mention of it before, but specifically from a health & wellness standpoint I am so blessed and lucky to be alive in 2014. It was less than 100 years ago that women in my own family lost children at birth or their spouses in farming accidents. I will never forget the day in August where we almost lost David & I said to the Doctor, “Wow, if he’d been born 25 years ago, he wouldn’t be here right now.” She said, “Jill, if he’d been born 10 years ago he wouldn’t be here right now.” Thank you Lord for medical advances and technology & that my children can reap the benefits!
Day eight: This is a simple one & not a post that was pre-planned because I couldn’t have known, but I am so grateful that David is not sick! He has been fighting the flu for the last week & he won! This is huge for him! Last year almost every cold meant a guaranteed hospital stay. He’s getting stronger & fighting off infection. His immune system is kicking in and I could not be more thankful for his health.