Saturday, May 7, 2016


Tomorrow will mark my 18th Mother's Day.   My first thought after child number one was born was, “We're going to have so much fun!”.   Three more children and a bunch of fun later, I have arrived at a Mother's Day that looks differently than I had imagined it would some 18 years ago, yet I am grateful and humbled by the blessings that have been poured out on my life because I get to be a mom.    Being a mom doesn't make me a more superior creature than those who haven't chosen to be a mom.  It just so happens that motherhood is what God decided to use to continually sanctify and purify my heart, soul, and mind.  He has asked me to be more patient, through motherhood.  He has challenged me to die to myself, through motherhood.  He has encouraged me to surrender to His authority, through motherhood.  He has tethered my mother-fears to His sovereignty.  He has taught me to trust in His goodness, through motherhood.  He has taught me to love unconditionally, through motherhood.  He has carried me through seasons of grief and times of sadness, because of motherhood.  He has revealed my sin and selfishness, through motherhood.  He helps me with my control issues, through motherhood.  He has blessed me with joy beyond description, through motherhood.  He has taken me on adventures, through motherhood.  He has given me the opportunity to feel enormous pride in the successes of others, through motherhood.  He has allowed me to be overwhelmed with delight and overcome with frustration, through motherhood.  He has given me 4 disciples to raise to love Him with all that they are, because He chose ME to be their mom.  

Before I arrived at motherhood, I believed that hard things were bad things, so I steered clear of challenges, hugging the inside curve of the easy path.  However, once I heard the first cry of my oldest daughter, I knew that my heart was forever destined to love intensely, always thinking about someone else's needs before my own.  At that first-cry-moment, I took a sharp left turn onto a road unlike another I had ever been on:  a road that would curve sharply, detour often, and twist and turn like a winding river.  All of a sudden, I knew for sure that I would lay down my life for another person,  that I would give up sleep, sanity, and security in order to care for my kids.  What I didn't know is that  I would take on enemies and circumstances that were bigger than me in order to protect them.  I had no idea that I would enter courtrooms and classrooms, ready to fight for their well-being, or sit on a sideline or in an audience, fiercely believing that MY KID was the best player/dancer/singer in the bunch.  And through it all, God has been so good to care for this fearful, exhausted, imperfect, faith-filled, stubborn, head-over-heels-in-love with her children mom.  My mom-confidence does not come from anything that I can do on my own, it lies in the fact that God will never change; that He will be with me for the next decade, and the decade after that, and the one after that.  Because He gave me the privilege of motherhood,  I know that He will equip me and sustain me to be the mom that each one of my kids needs, whether the road is hard and difficult or easy and smooth. That's motherhood!  A journey of expected challenges  and unexpected joys.  One that has changed, grown and blessed me in countless ways.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Normal Day

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” 
― Mary Jean Irion 

Nearly 3 months after my last post, I sit here in my comfy chair, warmed by the sun, thinking back on all that we've been through in this short period of time.

Grief has made it's way into my life and seeped into every crack of my heart.  Tears flow regularly,  lubricating the emotions that I feel.  I don't think that the grief I'm experiencing is a bad thing.  "There is a time for everything..."  It's just that I'm usually not someone who spends a lot of time feeling ONE THING, and lately, all I feel is this overwhelming sadness over this interruption into our lives; this diagnosis that changes how care-free my daughter can live.   Grief has watered seeds of fear that haven't sprouted in years, causing anxiety that I long ago put out of my life.    It's also caused me to loosen the possessive "mom-grip" that I tend to have on my kids, knocking out all insane notions that I am in any way in control of anything.   Daily, I am challenged to let go of my fears and to trust God in ways that I should have been all along.  I read scripture that reminds me that He loves us and is watching over my kids. I find myself time and time again throughout the day bringing my concerns to the Lord, seeking His strength and His peace.

It's not all bad to have the depths of your heart woken up a bit.  It's a great thing to seek comfort in God's word and to trust more fully in His presence and His promises. Desperation makes me cry out even more to my Heavenly Father and His perfect peace never fails when I choose to bring myself honestly and fully to Him.  It's been a blessing to come together with Patrick in our collective thoughts and feelings about our girl, Maddie.  To have him as my partner in the good AND hard of life is one of the best ways that God has ever shown His love to me.   I have found great peace in music and in rest.
These are the good things that come from leaning into the feelings that have accompanied this unexpected life-change.  Admittedly, I  long to move through the stages of grief more quickly and to set up camp in Acceptance.  I feel like here is where I will be able to relax and hang out with less sadness. However, I know there is value to each step of this journey,  so for now, I'm willing to just take the next right step.

Maddie is a strong warrior who is walking down this path set out before her with such strength and such poise.  She is brave and capable and most of all, full of laughter and life.  I admire her capacity to take in this unexpected and challenging hardship and still live life with an abundance of joy.

Normal days are becoming more normal again.  So often, I have taken them for granted.  But now, I'm just grateful for them.  Over the last few months we've had days of soccer, Sunday afternoon fishing trips, a fantastic Spring Break trip to Moab, and Patrick and I even got away for a quick trip to SF.  Life is not perfect or easy, but it is most certainly beautiful and one to be treasured.  

Psalm 71

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Winter Words

Maddie and I went from the doctor's office to the lab on a regular Tuesday.  We were impatient, finding fault with the PA's order that Maddie get blood drawn.  All we could think about was how annoying the wait at the lab was going to be, how dinner was going to be delayed, and that Maddie's friend was going to have to wait on us.  As I sat on the hard, plastic chair listening to name after name be called, the thought of  "What if?" came to my mind.  "What if" something is wrong? "What if" she is sick.  "What if" they never call our name and we are stuck at the lab for forever... "What if" it's serious?  and more...

Our name did finally get called, and Maddie rolled up her sleeve and rolled her eyes, thinking how unnecessary this blood draw was.  She felt fine.  Well, not fine, but fine enough.  So fine that her plans for the evening were to spend time with her bestie!  Sure, Maddie had experienced some strange health issues over the past 6 months, but they were things that we treated and endured and "fixed".

As inconvenient as going to the lab on a cold December afternoon was, somehow I knew it was necessary.  My instinct had taken her to the doctor and now my gut was telling me that something was really wrong.  Two hours later, I got a call with the lab results and a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.  We were given instructions to make our way to the ER for immediate treatment.   As I stood in the Target parking lot, accepting a phone call that would alter our lives, I was filled with doubt.  Not believing for a second that we needed to rush to the ER, I questioned the PA incessantly.   She politely overlooked my doubts and told me that she had confirmed the plans with the doctor, and that I was welcome to call him - which I did.  His caller ID announced me;  "Heather", our pediatrician and friend answered.  "Is it true?" I asked.  "Is it diabetes?".  Pause... "Yes."  "And we need to go tonight"?  "Yes".  "Will you call ahead for us".  "Yes.  I'm so sorry.  This is life changing and you can handle it."

I'll never forget going downstairs to Maddie's room to give her the news of the diagnosis and the urgency with which we needed to get her help.  Oblivious to what had transpired, her music was blaring and her pretty voice was singing.  I knocked on her door, and quietly told her what was going on.  I'll also never forget how much she trusted me and how quickly she responded even though she was filled with her own doubts.  You would have thought we had rehearsed tossing our belongings into overnight bags, as if we had planned this from the beginning of the day.  The other kids at home had questions that we didn't have answers to, there were plans that had to be made so that things at home were taken care of.   And like clockwork, God's grace kicked in.  It's really the only explanation for how smoothly the chaos was managed.

Arriving at the hospital provided some peace in the middle of the turmoil.  We were uneducated about T1D, and had no idea how much we would learn in a very short period of time.  What we were assured of by the nurses and doctors that cared for Maddie is that she would start feeling much better, soon.   Even though we were reeling from the events of the past hour, we took great comfort in knowing that we had found out what was causing the recent and strange health issues.

We spent the night at the hospital while Maddie's blood sugar was monitored.  Looking back now, I was in shock yet played the part of "capable Mom" well.  An Oscar worthy performance perhaps. Being strong for my daughter and husband, assuring everyone that we were going to be okay, never for a second believing my own voice.  But I felt that God was near.  I couldn't see Him or touch Him, but I know He stayed with me in the hospital room that night. I don't think He was fooled a bit by my acting, but He knows me best and knew what I needed.  He's like that, showing up and handling things when we cannot. 

Although the diagnosis of T1D is not the end of the world, it has most definitely rocked ours.  However, we have amazing doctors and nurses that are educating and supporting us.  We have had 3 weeks practice at blood sugar draws and insulin injections, and Maddie feels like a super-hero (her words :)) because she has mastered giving herself shots.  We have emergency stashes of food and candy and medicine.  A sharps container hides behind the coffee pot on the kitchen counter.  A drawer has been emptied of kitchen utensils in order to make room for diabetes supplies.  Logs are kept of carbs and units of insulin.  Food is weighed and calculated.

Maddie is a rock-star.  She is capable and strong, and although she gets scared and tired, she doesn't spend time feeling sorry for herself.   

 Right now, I am pretending to be okay;  faking it for a bit; continuing to play the part I began learning that first night.  "We'll be okay".  "We can manage this".  "We'll be fine".  Pasting a smile on my face and carrying on, because it's what I do, what I'm known for.  It's what folks want to hear from me.  They want to know that I'll take care of things, and that I have the faith to handle this.  It's what friends believe about me; it's what I usually believe about myself.  But really, I'm not okay.  The truth is that I am scared about my daughter's health.  I'm anxious about her future.  I question our ability to manage this disease in a life that is so busy and full.  I worry about not being strong enough for all of us, because I know that deep down I'm weak and selfish and ill-equipped. But I also know that God is here and that He loves us.  My faith in Him isn't just for the great times, but it's for these difficult times.  I believe that that these dark days that I'm living in are not dark to Him.  I know that when the grief overwhelms me and my inadequacies appear greater than my abilities He is here, holding me and watching out for Maddie. I know it, I just don't feel it all the time. My comfort is found in scripture, because it tells me the truth and that is what I need so desperately.  I think back to the afternoon that I sat in the waiting room at the lab, before we knew what we know now, my "What if" questions coming to mind.  Even in my sadness, I am comforted by my own conclusion that the God that walked with us into the lab is the same God that walked with us out of the lab.   Maddie's diagnosis didn't cause Him to change His promises or care of us.  He hasn't altered His presence or His sovereignty.  He is so full of grace and love and compassion for Maddie, for me, for our family.  He has showed us His goodness in so many ways and even in this hard circumstance, we are blessed. 

 Psalm 139:11-12 
"If I say 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me 
will be night'; Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.  
Darkness and light are alike to You." 

Psalm 23:1-4
"The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath, and send me in the right direction.  
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty Shepherd's crook makes me feel secure."