Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Blessing and not a Burden

I remember being"that mom."  The one who was all about so-called perfection.  The one who worried too much about what other people thought.  The one who wanted her kid to be ahead of the game.  Smarter than the average child.  Ahead of his age group in milestones. And magnet school was do or die in my mind.  Heaven-forbid my child was behind in anything or appeared to be different from "the norm."  I was the mom who would look at another mom who had a child with a disability and feel sorry for her in my head.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would one day be one of those moms.

One of the world's most popular hymns is Amazing Grace.  I have sung it on many, many occasions.  But never have the lyrics stood out to me more than they have over the past year and a half..."I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind, but now I see." That's how I feel.  I feel like I was lost and blind before I had Deacon, but now I see.

I remember laying in the hospital bed crying my eyes out after his diagnosis.  Feeling sorry for myself.  Thinking to myself, I know I'm not supposed to ask, but "Why me, God? Why me?"  And now I ask, "Why me, God? What did I do to deserve such a blessing?!"

The desires of my heart have drastically changed since Deacon came into my life.  He has made me want to become a better person.  He makes me want to dream big and set goals that may seem unattainable or even outlandish to some.  He makes me want to be different.  Set apart.  Not like everyone else.  He makes me want to slow down and appreciate each day, and not just rush through one trying to get to the next.  Because of him, my heart has grown to care more about others than I do about myself.  He makes me want to love what the world perceives as the unlovable.  Overall, he makes me want to be more "Christ-like."

I cannot even begin to explain to you how proud I am of this boy.  Things that come natural for most are not easy for him, but he doesn't let that stop him.  He just does everything in his own time frame.  He crawls, sings, dances, talks, and he can cop an attitude with the best of them.  Especially when it comes to his food.  The boy loves his food!

The other morning, he was moaning in his crib, so I put him in the bed with me hoping he would sleep a little longer so that I could too.  No such luck.  He began saying "bite" and tapping his little fingers to my lips as if saying it AND signing it would be more effective.  Laying on my back, I rolled him onto my belly.  We were face to face and I told him, "Shhh!" He looked at me, put his little pointer finger over his mouth, and said "Shhh!" right back to me.  Something I had never taught him.  I was no longer worried about going back to sleep, but instead woke Dustin up so Deacon could shush him too, and we could all celebrate.  Come to find out, his aunt had done this to him at a restaurant the night before when he was impatiently screaming for his food.  Apparently, he caught on quick to that one.

I love how excited he gets too when he's done something he knows is a big deal.  He gets the biggest grin ever on his face and begins clapping for himself.  Right now, our goal is walking.  Sure we work on it, but it doesn't worry me or bother me that he is not doing it yet.  He's trying. And just like everything else he's done, when it's time for him to get it, it will just click and he will take off.  Right now he is getting brave enough to stand for a few seconds without holding on.  He eats up the attention he gets from it.  I love it.

It bothers me when I hear mom's stressing over the fact that their typical child is "behind" on crawling or walking or is not talking or doing something else as much as other children their age.  Granted, I used to be the same way, but I've learned...It's OK!  I think I've said it before, but one of my favorite quotes and something I have to remind myself of from time to time is "Comparison is the thief of joy."  This is so true!  If we spend our days comparing ourselves, our children, our lives to someone else's, we miss out on so much.  I could spend my time dwelling on the fact that Deacon is nearly two and not walking, but instead, I savor the moments that I get to hold him, love on him, and breathe in the scent of his baby-shampooed hair before the day comes that he wants to get down, take off, and not have much to do with me.  I have a feeling that day is not too far off.  He's already becoming a little busy body.  Constantly wanting to get into everything, but what he's supposed to. :)

I dream of his future everyday.  Wondering what things he will do? What accomplishments he will achieve?   Just as I dream about all of my kids' futures.  But with Deacon, it's different, because I dream of what odds he will defy.  I so badly want him to rise above the stigmas associated with his diagnosis, and I have no doubt that he will.  Just yesterday morning, my cousin called me full of excitement.  She was sitting at Starbucks, and in walked a tall, slender, handsome young man.  He placed his order, and then came and sat down beside her.  When he got up to get his drinks, he told everyone to have an amazing day.  It was at that point that she noticed that he had Down Syndrome.  He got his drinks, got into his own truck by himself, and drove away.  Oh, the hope that gives me for my baby boy's future!

So, if there is anyone who feels sorry for me, in all honesty, I feel sorry for them.  Having a child with a disability is not a burden to me, but is instead one of the biggest blessings I have ever received!

My life is richer...

 My days are brighter...

My faith is stronger...

And my heart is bigger...

 Because of him!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Looking Up

Do you ever just stop and look up? I mean physically look up to the sky? I never used to.  And now it makes me sad to think of how many cloudy skies, sunsets, and sunrises that I've missed.  (Ok.  Let's be honest.  I still miss a lot of sunrises.  Momma loves her some sleep.) But now I constantly find my self looking up and standing in awe of God's creation.  I've become obsessed with clouds.  I just love it when the sky is bright blue and filled with magnificent clouds.  (I secretly wish that Care Bears were real. And that I was one.)  I have seen more rainbows in this past year than I have in my entire life, and they never cease to amaze me.

Looking up physically has caused me to grow spiritually.  With every rainbow, I am reminded of God's promise to Noah.  

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." (Genesis 9:13) 

Every time I see the sun peeking through the clouds, I think about how He is my light in the darkness.  

"You, Lord, are my lamp; The Lord turns my darkness into light." (2 Samuel 22:29)  

"Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.   The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:3-5)

And each time I look up at a cloud-fill sky or a dark one filled with millions of stars, I think about how big God is and how small I am.  It really helps me to put things in perspective.  Especially when I start to get caught up in myself.

So if you don't already, I highly encourage you to look up.  You never know the blessings you might receive from it.  

Aside from looking up, I have started looking around and becoming more aware of and grateful for all of the little details of life.  I long more for experiences and less for things.

I'm way behind in sharing some of those experiences,  so I'm warning you...I'm about to post a lot of pictures.  And this is after weeding through and trying to select the ones I love the most.

So here goes...

Starting with celebrating my Memie's birthday back in April. (I told you I was way behind.)  I was so thankful to be able to celebrate another year with her.  And what a tough year it has been for her!  She's one of the strongest women I know, and I love her more than words could say!

And when we are at Nonna & Poppa's house, no matter what the occasion, the fishing poles will be broken out. 

Then there was our beach trip.  It started off rocky with Deacon being taken to the ER in an ambulance with a bad case of croup.  Thankfully, he recovered quickly, and we were still able to have a beautiful time.

We were not ready to leave and come home, so we decided to stretch our trip out a little longer.  On the way home, we just decided if we saw something that looked neat, we would stop and check it out.  In fact, we were very tempted to bust in on a private party because it involved ponies and inflatables, but we didn't. :)

I've always wanted to explore the U.S.S Alabama. So we did.

Then we decided to spend the night in one of my favorite cities. New Orleans.  And we didn't let a little rain keep us from enjoying coffee and beignets at a Cafe du Monde and taking a walk around the French Quarter.

Then we came home and celebrated Noah's 8th birthday. It is still hard for me to believe that I have a third grader.

It amazes me how fast these kids grow up.  We get so busy and so caught up sometimes that we don't make it a point to stop and spend time with the ones we love, so I was thrilled when my nieces came and spent a couple of days with us.  I loved watching them play together and listening to them tell "Remember when..." stories.  There is such a special bond between cousins.  I hope that no matter what, they always stay close.

A few weeks ago, we decided last minute to take a trip to Dallas.  I needed to revisit my childhood by attending a New Kids on the Block concert, and Dustin wanted to take the big kids to watch a minor league baseball team over there play, because his friend is the coach.  Good times were had at both, but the next day was even better.  We decided we wanted to do something different, so we were going to drive to the Fort Worth Stockyards.  When I looked it up there was a train station nearby that made a trip to the Stockyards and back.  It left at 1:00 and we pulled up at 12:55 trying to hop on.  Cause that's just how we roll.  The lady told me that the only cars left were non-air conditioned.  It was 100 degrees.  We were going to brave it.  We are all about experiences, right?  Even sweaty ones.  But for some reason they pulled us out of the line, assigned us seats at the "special table" on the air conditioned car, and only charged us the open-air price.  Score!

As soon as we sat down they handed us checkers, puzzles, Jenga (which is impossible to play on a moving train) , and asked if we wanted anything to eat or drink.  Boy, did we feel special!

The Stockyards were so neat!  I wish we would have more time to explore before we had to hop back on the train.  But we hit up the mandatory requirements as quickly as we could. Riscky's BBQ.  The Candy Barrel.  A cute little record shop.  And witnessing the cattle drive.

This place brought a whole new meaning the old "kid in a candy store" saying.  Even I was in Heaven.

And by the way, Riscky's BBQ=amazing! I am still dreaming about the brisket tacos.

All of these moments, experiences, whatever you want to call them, they mean so much to me.  We never know how much time we have here on this earth and with each other.  So I just want to make sure that I always make the most of it.  When our friends and family are gone, our memories are the most important thing we have of them.

It is my prayer that I am able to continue to make innumerable memories, view sunsets galore, and observe a countless number of cloudy skies.   And that I live a life that matters.  Constantly looking up to The One who gave me life.