Tuesday, February 28, 2017

God Sent Me an Email

I rolled over this morning, grabbed my phone, checked my email in my normal first-thing-in-the-morning routine.  Because I'm so very important, I read the one new email I had received over night.  It was from my neighbor and friend, who happens to be an incredibly talented photographer.  

Last week we rounded up my crew to see what we could capture, mainly for Turner's six month pictures.  I dressed up the other kids just in case things were going smoothly enough to grab a couple shots of them.  

Turner's pictures were so cute, as six month old baby shots typically are.  

Calvin's were, well, what you capture when you tell a nearly three-year old to smile.  

But Elena's, my sweet Elena's.

What you don't see behind this picture is that the last six months have been an incredible challenge for me.  I have battled frustration, anxiety, fear and hopelessness with this precious one.  You see, she's my darling baby but can be my greatest challenge.  Every day can be a struggle.  I have not let myself appreciate this smile, unable to feel the joy that it brings to my heart.  I've been consumed, overwhelmed even, by the challenges of having a child who is visually, communicably and mobility impaired.  I have let the daily struggle overshadow the gift that she is.  

And then I wake up, to this.  Thank you, Jesus.  This is what He wanted to remind me.  This smile.  It is everything.  


My friends, I'll struggle every day until the day I die over what happened to my girl.  I'll struggle every day with the unique challenges our family faces as a result.  Every morning, it's a battle to suppress the fear and frustration.  But God has been so faithful, reminding me that she lived and her life is more precious to Him than I could ever imagine.  And that His presence, His love of her and me is constant, I'm not in this alone.  That amid the pain and struggle we face, there is always joy to be found, hope to grasp and Elena smiles to shine into my heart and into the world.    His blessings come when I least expect it, but when He knows I need them the most.  Our path is far from easy, but gosh, what shines through her, what she teaches me, the love I have for her is so worth it.  

My heart is so full this morning.  My beautiful girl.

Thank you, Chelsey, for capturing these.  I'm so grateful.  This smile is her gift, snaggletooth and all!  

(For the record, she lost that front tooth the very next morning!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Missing Piece

Hi Friends!  I'm alive.  Don't you worry about me!  

Actually, I have just returned from the land of the sun and grandparents.  I took off with Calvin and Turner last week (Elena stayed home with Dad because of school and work).  And it was awesome.  We went to go visit my parents and just had the best time.  Sunshine and grandparents seem to make the world go round.  Plus, my Mom is the greatest caregiver of all time so I enjoyed five days without cooking, laundry, cleaning and eating scraps (real meals, you guys!).  Pretty much heaven.  

It always helps, too, to escape the monotony of routine.  And we live on schedules and routine around here.  So it was great to shake that up a bit.  I was really able to focus on spending time with the little guys.  When I have all three, it can be so stressful and chaotic that I don't have time to stop and roll around on the floor with Turner or play golf with Calvin.  I did a lot of that last week and it felt really good, really happy.  

Things have been tough with Elena lately.  She hasn't really been her usual happy self and we've been frustrated and stressed trying to figure out what is going on.  Even though she's improved so much on the communication piece, it's still incredibly challenging to communicate with her, or rather have her communicate with us.  Having a child with special needs is like a giant puzzle.  We are constantly trying different things to see if they work, and trust me, there's always a piece that needs addressing.  Rarely do we have the chance to stop and feel like things are "together".  There is a constant battle between frustration, guilt and determination, one always replacing the other at different times.  Sometimes this happens by the hour, by the minute or by the week.  It's consuming.  So, when things aren't working just right, it's a scramble to triage what we need to focus on.  Then you realize you have two other kids who need you too.  It's been exhausting, which made my escape to Arizona all the better.  

I'm not hitting the panic button, nor should you.  I wouldn't say I'm more frazzled or drowning in children more than usual, but I do feel like we are approaching a crossroads with Elena.  We are constantly evaluating what we think is best for her, what her needs are, and how we can best address everything.  There is a stirring inside of me that feels like we are on the verge of something with her.  

We know that God has proven time and time again that He is able to do more than we could ever imagine, and I know that half the battle is just trusting Him and praying my way through it.  I'd like to ask all you prayer warriors out there to join me in praying big for our girl in the next few weeks.  We are desperate to have a breakthrough in communication with her.  We've been working on it for nearly two years, and to be honest, at times it's felt futile.  This is such a big piece of the puzzle.  Let's focus in on this and ask big.  

I'm so thankful for all of you!