Still Learning to Be Still

Special needs momming is a full time job, and the business model is super complicated.  I spent Tuesday at the psychologist with Ruckus, working on a round of updated evaluations. Wednesday I was in Atlanta again, from dawn to dusk for Mozart’s day with his health team. It was planned and well prepared for. The other four children had their needs well met in my absence.

Yet my little Cricket, whose sensitive heart struggles with anxiety and trust after losing his first family, woke today with a deep need for constant connection with me. And by that, I mean I spent my morning as a piece of furniture.

We spent much time snuggling, and watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on Amazon Prime.

I set aside my mental to-do list to let him have his time, and be present.  That’s a hard thing to do when tasks snowball and the weekend is coming with no free time to squeeze the laundry into.
I help him. We colored, snuggled, watched Mr. Rogers and Highway to Heaven, both in one day!! His joy was immense, and I loved it!

Still, that  epic battle of “to Martha or to Mary” battled in the back of my head.
Because I still can’t get the knack of  how to be still and know.


We have the opportunity for love and therapy with many animals. Cricket and I took advantage of a few minutes with a horse today.

Now it’s after his bedtime. I have that mile long to-do list and a decision to make. 


How much I know depends on the day and a thousand variables reliant on the actions and choices of several other people, both in and outside of my home and family.

What I KNOW is that this is complicated.

There are the days that my inner Martha spits the words back. Be STILL? When? How? Have you not seen? Even my to-do list has it’s OWN to-do lists.  Have you not heard? There are people calling Mama in rapid succession from 5 different directions. How then, do I fit in being still?

Yet there are the times that a Mary spirit wells up within me. I kick off my shoes to ground myself on the earth He’s given and I throw agenda to the side, to watch children fly away with their imaginations and meld into the wonder of the life around me. We breath in fresh air and run in fields. We know how to BE.

I can never decide if this verse is meant to be a deep call to intimacy with my Maker, or a chastising of my flesh for being so easily consumed by what I have to do, seeing that I really do HAVE to do a huge amount of doing!

If asked, I could never decide who it’s for, my Martha or Mary, and I have finally decided it comes down to the day I’m having, every day.

And this is why.

We, the lovers of Christ, have a habit of remembering verses in small tidbits.  We like small bites because then we can say that we ate today.
I’m learning to take the time to look them up and enjoy the pages of my Bible in fuller context.
Decision made. Those words have run through my head all day. Be. Still. Know.
I’m looking up the chapter.

Ladies…. this “be still and know” one is nestled smack in the middle of Psalm 46, and the rest of it is FULL of context that we all need.

Just look for yourself (below)! That little verse that has vexed me is so much better when I stand back and see it as part of this full work God inspired.

He is ever-present.
God is within her, she will not fall.
He makes wars cease.

He writes of refuge and fortresses, I think of hiding in the laundry room, folding, but also of blanket forts and reading nooks.  The word mountain always conjures up laundry to me, however the streams and rivers call to mind his great wisdom in creating the coffee and the constant flow here in my kitchen.  And also, chocolate.  He lifts is voice? Did someone turn on The Fish radio station again?

The last two years I’ve been mostly gone from the internet publicly. My family needed safety and seclusion (for details on that, read THIS PREFACE and sign up for the list. So while, I can joke about the mom thoughts and snark this chapter brings up, my heart hears the promises it holds. Promise of protection and God’s faithfulness. We have been cocooned in tightly. Now it’s time to spread wings again.

After all this time, I know. It’s for all the days. Every one of them whether I feel the depth of stillness welling within my soul, or I’m grappling with stilling my struggle with self.

It’s there, every day.
He has us.
He is with us, we will not fall.
The least I can do is listen.
I can BE.
I can STILL.
I can KNOW.

It’s more than the verse.
He gives us whole chapters, my friends.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.



The Knock That Shook Our World


We thought it was an Amazon Delivery, of all things.

I had just returned home from a long needed night out with a good friend, a fellow mom of many.  My daughter and I bounded to the door, excited to see which of us got to open whatever it was.

My mom-friend-date had been fantastic. We ate, we laughed, we shared our prayers, our joys and struggles. We felt renewed and strengthened by our time together. We relaxed and enjoyed our truth.

We celebrated.

It had been a mere thirty-four hours since I sat in a courtroom and heard the judge’s decision.  The parental rights of the boys’ biological family were officially terminated, and they were legally made orphans by the court. The judge looked across the courtroom at me and, in front of all involved, declared us their pre-adoptive home. He said it out loud. It was real.

I walked alone to my car.  Feelings of joy and love flooded me, while the aching, writhing pain for the loss that was involved still gripped at my heart. Yes, we gained sons. But the hope of another family just died in there, right in front of my eyes. Not because of me, but it happened all the same. All hope for them is gone.

I hadn’t expected to cry. We had known for months that the case was headed this way. We all knew this was the day.  But the moment I buckled myself in and stopped to exhale in the seclusion of my car, the rolling waves of reality tumbled to the forefront and took over.   I sobbed and wailed, emotions filled the air to a bursting level that no physical body could contain and stay poised and composed. Certainly not mine, anyway.  

I wrecked myself, right there in the parking lot.  

Actual photo I sent my husband. From the parking lot after the TPR hearing.

They will be our sons! But they lost their first mom forever, today. They will take our name! They will lose the one they have known.  They will always be brothers and sisters with ours! They may never know those who share their blood.
These are not small things. If they are now my sons, I am the mom who will have to walk through the future with them, and the struggle with these things will come. I can not protect them from  it. I cannot undo their loss. There is no escaping or pretending that they didn’t lose as much as they won today.

For thirty-four hours there was joy and hope and rest. 

Fourteen months we had supported any plan of reunification with biological family, unwaveringly. We prayed and hoped for the best of God’s plan and submitted to it fully, knowing that the loss of them in our lives may come. I never considered that as pressure. I was never afraid.  But when that focus was lifted and we were now given the right to focus on them being ours, I felt like a new mom.

It’s hard to explain how the release of it overcame me. Consider this. We had parented these boys with as much love as any DNA could have offered, from day one. We never made a distinction in our care for them, other than to doggedly offer love and support to their first family as well.  But to be told that, after 408 days of parenting them as someone else’s children, we would now parent them as our own. It was a slight shift, made in a few sentences and the short sound of a gavel’s fall.
Huge breath.
Huge change.

The future stretched before us with immeasurable possibilities. It felt as exhilarating and joyous as the first day of life with each of our biological children, just as powerful. It was a glorious, staggering reality.

For thirty-four hours.

The following night I went out with a fellow warrior-mom, as I said. I came home to the younger children in bed and my husband and teenager in a deep discussion on the couch. A home of peace and calm. All was well. The sound of the dishwasher running was so soothing. I remember that.

Our actual kitchen. I can hear the dishwash running, just looking at it.

I sat down to join them, in the depths of debate. There was a plate of cookies.  It was about 10pm.

It wasn’t Amazon at the door.

To be continued.

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You Start With A Lemon. Now Squeezzzzee


So, I am serious about this lemon kick. First think of course,  I looked for a photo of a good squeeze.
tay-br pk

This was the first option I saw. Perfect. Just a glance at the grip on that citrus makes my hands ache and arm withdraw to hide. To you it may look like a strong hand.  I involuntarily brace myself because a task like that can be torture.  I can barely open a bottle  of lemon juice without  wincing. No thanks.

I’m concerned that what is going on will look more dramatic than it is, and freak out some friends.  Also, I hide half of it trying not to talk or make a big deal out of it, so I send mixed messages… I’m trying desperately  to deal with the ins and outs of my days, and I’m not one who likes the extra attention.  I love my body. It’s the only one I have. But I’m calling it for real here.

I’ve got a lemon.

Looking back, I feel like the lead up to my current situation started when I became suddenly sick 2 years ago, in January/February of 2010.  What seemed like the killer cold/flu combo that would not go turned out to be Epstein Barr. It knocked me off of my duff and had me reeling in a new unknown. It wouldn’t’ go away.

Overnight I was a completely different person.  I went from the woman with a freak ability to go days without solid sleep and still have a smile and energy, to  this weak shadow of myself, constantly aching, mind muddled, and needing 2 naps a day ON TOP of a full nights sleep. I suddenly found myself incapable of follow through with anything in life.  My body was so angry at me it wouldn’t let me live life the way I always have, full of activity and adventure, of kids and friends. I couldn’t function.

Around the same time that I became ill, I started having severe pain attacks in my side.  They were killer and I knew what was up… My gall bladder was pitching a fit  and I just kept ignoring it.  I did a few cleanses and this diet.. all the health freak thingies one does to try and lose weight AND balance my body’s mounting list of complaints.  The gall bladder attacks were bad but I knew people could live with this, right?
That summer (2011)  the gallbladder escalated. Finally, I had an extreme attack just after attending a birth (as a doula) and my dear midwife friend insisted that I go to the ER. She even threatened to drive to my house and get Travis (at 3am) if I tried to drive.  I complied and suspicions were confirmed.  My gall bladder looked like CRAP.   Being who I am, I asked what my options were and if leaving were an option to do some research. The recommended admitting and surgery in the morning.  I signed out AMA, to go home and research the best surgeon I could get.
This is getting long. Let’s summarize.

  • I spent the next two weeks researching options, doing a few crazy sounding “methods”  to clear gall stones. Then I just had the surgery.   After surgery I did not rest the way I was told (surprised?) which resulted in an infection that knocked me out a few more weeks. Yep. That’s me.
  • During this time I started seeing a neurologist, after seven years of pain and issues with my back from a large herniated disk and degenerative disk disease.  Tried physical therapy (have done chiro off and on over the 7 years), I still deal with the pain daily but it is much better. Unfortunately it is better because of prescription drugs that I do not want to be taking but being a mom, wife and doula was becoming impossible. I have been on cymbalta for the pain for almost 2 years now. NOT good. I want off.
  • After surgery, I started having extreme attacks of chest pain and went to the ER a few times for it. I thought I was dying.  Gall bladder was a walk in a butterfly park with rainbows compared to this. Like D-Y_I-N-G, I tell you.

This is still going to take forever…Try again.

1. Pain has been a consistent theme for me ever since the car accident in 2004 that injured my back. It’s frustrating that it’s not “that big” of an injury, but it limits me extremely.  Over the past 2 years pain has seemed to spread like wildfire. But that’s not it either.  To be more accurate, my tolerance for pain in different areas has disappeared.  I remember pain in my hip as young as 9 years old when I was in dance classes.  And telling myself to get over it. After acting like it’s just a quirk for my entire life, the pain is NOT cooperating and I finally had it looked at.   Did you know that it’s not just puppies and babies that get hip dysplasia? Or 70 year olds?  It can actually be told to a happy 34 year old woman who is loving life that she has to have hip surgery or she can expect a hip replacement around 45.  Yeah. Nice. If you click on that link there it shows the different states of dysplasia.  Mine is about a C. You can actually SEE my hip sticking out if I’m standing.  My hope is to get to the chiropractor and start working on this and to do some physical therapy. I just feel like my past experience has shown that…well… my body’s a bitch. I don’t have much hope of avoiding the surgery, so if I’m going to have it, I’m doing it before July so I don’t have to pay another $2500 deductible.

2. Back to other pain… It’s everywhere. Feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, neck, back, wrists, hands… Dear Lord, my hands. It’s taken me hours to write this so far because I can only type for about 5 minutes at a time before I just can not move my fingers anymore.  At least once a day I stare at my wrists and hands, as I feel them throbbing and shooting pain… and I think… What the…?!?!?!  It’s really just amazing that fingers and wrists can writhe with a pain so all consuming.  I’m intrigued… I want it gone!

3. I’ve also had problems with my shoulders for years. I’ve had it looked at in the past.  It’s been a problem since my early 20’s waiting tables and carrying trays loaded down like I was in a standoff with Hercules and had something to prove.  Searing, shooting pains that make so much of what I want to do impossible.  If I’m going to get this other stuff taken care of while my insurance is paying 100% , I need to be practical and work on this, too

4. I have a para-esophageal hiatal hernia.  This means that my esophagus is herniated (an enlarged bulge) above my stomach.  I have regular attacks of incarceration of the stomach, which means that the stomach actually slides up into my esophagus and gets stuck. It feels like a heart attack. It is living hell. I would trade for 14 hours of pitocin without an epidural, gladly.  The episodes last anywhere between 15 minutes and 4 hours of feeling like I am dying, laying on my back unable to move, speak, often vomiting from the pain which is even more dangerous because it can cause more of my stomach to rise.  I have worked on massage, yoga positions to release it, worked with a dietitian and take prescriptions for reflux.  Unfortunately, we can not get the episodes of incarceration/strangulation to stop so surgery is going to happen. I’ve been trying to avoid this for over a year but I’m at peace with it now.

5. One of the reasons for trying to avoid surgery was, what seemed to me, the absurd suggestion by my PCP and agreement from my neurologist, GI and nutritionist that I should absolutely undergo gastric bypass at the same time.  Because of the way the esophagus is repaired there is a great chance for it to re-herniate without the stomach also being taken in.   I didn’t like the idea. I actually still don’t and didn’t really agree to it until I sat down with the GI and told him I though it was BS. He agreed, it does sound like an excuse.  But then he explained what the potential is of not doing it. And he used a sewing visual, which I can totally understand. If you’ve ever turned a tube of fabric, like making a purse strap or something, you’ll be able to picture this.  the way my stomach is coming up into my esophagus now, there is too much room and that is why it is happening.  When they go in like a tailor with a big pair of pants, they will “take in” the large part of my esophagus.  If they don’t continue the “seam” down my stomach, there is a high chance that the pressure of a larger stomach will cause the esophagus to stretch again and they can’t keep doing repairs on it. To be honest, the herniation is quite common.  More than 50% of us have one of some extent and most people don’t even know it. I’m one of those lucky few who have one large enough to threaten their life. Nice, huh?

6.  I was told (I suppose I should say diagnosed, I just don’t WANT to) that I havefibromyalgia and that is why I’m dealing with such constant pain.  I still have my doubts about this. They have me on the highest amount of Cymbalta (for chronic pain) and I still am in this much pain? Every. Single. Day?  I work through it. I live.  A do my job which is very physical and supports others. I love it. I’ve limited my work load greatly.. but I’m still living and enjoying the life and family God has given me. I just want some of this to stop!

7. I have several other symptoms, chronic fatigue yet frequent insomnia,  random long term nausea for no reason, migraines,  blood sugar issues, high blood pressure, constant shaking….

There is my ramble of my most obvious issues. None are cancer. None are tragic. There are people out there who need much greater support and prayers.  For me, I’ve got over $200 a month in just “walk in the door co-pays”.  I’m living WITH all of this pain and still trying to be a mom and a wife.  And because I homeschool, I’ve been taking my children to as many of my appointments as I can.  I just can’t anymore.

So, yeah. My body is turning out to be a lemon, with many quirks and issues that are not fun. But I’m ok. I’m going to make the BEST lemonade ever out of what God has given me. And over the next 6 months that starts with the obvious, which is squeezing the heck out of this lemon. Finding ever little thing, every drop… to extract it all and turn it into the best batch of lemonade I can imagine.

Now, if you’ve read all of this you deserve a laugh. Here you go.

ModUp Monday: There Is Hope For The Hopeless…I Mean This Dress (ReFashion)

I heard you. You thought this dress was beyond hope. You wondered if I had hit the point of no return and a guaranteed fail on this one.

Thanks for that extra motivation. I needed it for this one. Continue reading “ModUp Monday: There Is Hope For The Hopeless…I Mean This Dress (ReFashion)”