The phone rang.
It wasn’t the call the “soon-to-be mama of four” was expecting. She looked down at her phone and saw that it was her doctor’s office ringing in. With her three other small boys giggling and running under foot she quickly answered the phone. To her surprise it wasn’t the office administrator or the nurse on the other end of the line.
She could feel her breath began to quicken and her heart begin to race as she heard the calm, but concerned voice of her OB/GYN on the other end of the phone. That young mother braced herself and sunk slowly into the oversized chair as she
hoped for the best and feared the worst.
With an anxious heart and a wiggling belly, she soon discovered that her baby had an extra chromosome. In an instant, without any preparation she became the parent of a special child with very special needs.
Uncontrollable tears filled her eyes and sadness and grief overtook her as she began to imagine what her precious boy’s life might look like. She grieved the UNKNOWN... she wept over the FUTURE.
When she had no more tears to cry she ARGUED.
She argued with herself, but mostly she argued with GOD.
Everything inside of her screamed…
Why my precious boy?
After the initial shock of the unexpected news she found herself sitting in the hospital waiting for the results of further testing. She felt almost disconnected from her own body as disbelief echoed through every part of her being. Tears stung her face as they rolled down her cheeks. She was caught up in her own tragedy— her OWN heartache.
As she stared out the window of the towering hospital she saw another mother pushing HER very own boy in a wheelchair. The boy was very disfigured-- his age indistinguishable.
Her heart broke yet again and the Lord whispered,,,,
“Lauren, why NOT you?”
Oh the conviction that came rushing in as the Lord whispered to MY hurting heart.
The unearthing of so much pride. “Did I really feel like I was the exception?”
That somehow I would get to escape the brokenness and heartache of this earthly life? Maybe if I am gut honest I DID feel like the Lord owed me something-- even typing those words makes me cringe inside.
I began asking: “Is God not faithful to the woman walking into the hospital? The one
I will never know but never forget? Was God not faithful to her precious boy?”
Is His faithfulness ONLY a reflection of what is GOOD and BEAUTIFUL in our lives? Or does His faithfulness have NOTHING to do with our circumstances?
Our God is both GOOD and FAITHFUL.. because that is WHO HE IS.... in the midst of our circumstances... THROUGH our circumstances because that is the character of God.
You see, I knew the faithfulness of my Savior. I had experienced it countless times before. But my felt response was one of ABANDONMENT.
Reluctantly, with bitter tears running down my face I began to lift my fearful hand in surrender.
Raw, gut-wrenching SURRENDER.
SURRENDER to the One who had made me.
SURRENDER to my Savior.
To HIM who had held me time and time again and would continue to
hold me and my boy in HIS lovingkindness.
My hand began to shake.
As the grief and the reality of this busted-up world washed over me I was reminded of God the Father’s own gift of salvation through HIS SON JESUS. After all, He gave His only SON for the salvation of mankind. He went to the cross for ME. He went to the cross for MY BOY… and my heart began to soften even more. The rough edges of my discontent began to ease as I leaned in closer to the faithfulness of God and rested in His goodness.
Sitting openhanded in my brokenness at the feet of my loving Savior I uttered a hushed whisper as I lifted my trembling hand and hurting heart in surrender…
“Thy Will be Done…”
Surrender can be a slow, sometimes grueling process.
Surrender isn’t the product of our rectified circumstances.
Surrender changes the posture of our hearts.
Surrender costs something. It requires us to place our dependence squarely at the feet of our Savior instead of in our own sufficiency.
Given the chance, I would change my boy’s diagnosis in a heartbeat. But I will tell you there is joy even amongst the heartache— BEAUTY among the ashes.
There is beauty in the tenderness and empathy that has developed in my older boys as a result of loving someone with special needs. They are kinder, more attentive because they know Nolan.
There is beauty watching the way my Nolan’s face lights up when he smiles or the feeling of his chubby arms wrapped around my neck. His content nature reminds me to slow down and savor the ordinary. Nolan has taught me that there is so much life in the every-day and so much beauty found there too.
There is beauty in my own life as I have developed an intimacy and dependence on the Lord that comes from wrestling with Him through valleys of heartache.
This morning while taking in the changing seasons and feeling the cool breeze blow against my face I sat looking at one of those beautiful gifts swinging in the sunlight…
There is a rhythm to our changing seasons. The seasons that make up our calendar are both constant and still ever-changing. It is not much different than the seasons of our lives — seasons that we choose and seasons that we would trade if we could. Seasons that the Lord allows us to walk through. But the constant is that the same Creator who holds all things together also holds me and you in His hand.
In this season…in every season may we choose THANKSGIVING knowing that our thankfulness stems from a SURRENDERED heart.
Choose Him regardless of your circumstances.
Choose him when fear surges like a flood.
He will bring about beauty for ashes!
He is Faithful!
Tonight I took my four boys to the pool. There was nothing elaborate or fancy about tonight-- just an ordinary summer evening at the pool with my kids watching them jump and splash around. My youngest son Nolan and I made ourselves comfortable on the large steps of the pool where he felt comfortable to meander about acting on his "felt" independence while still allowing me to keep a close eye on him. Another mother was playing sweetly with her two small children. My Nolan toddled over near them. This mama and her children just watched us intently without a word. Honestly, it was a bit uncomfortable.
As I sat in the awkwardness I began to feel ALL THE THINGS. Then I remembered my earnest prayer while Nolan was still in utero-- "Lord give me the GRACE to love Nolan WITHOUT comparison just as he is and help me love the other children in my life freely and COMPLETELY just as they are." As this sweet boy stared at my Nolan-- recognizing his differences-- that prayer ran through my mind and almost instinctively I took Nolan's hand and waved at the little boy encouraging Nolan to say "hi." What you may not know about Nolan is that he is non verbal. That "hi" was my way of lovingly advocating for my sweet boy and graciously teaching those around me how to interact with people who look and sound different than themselves.
This little boy, about the same age as Nolan, was eager to talk and wave but he needed my encouragement to know that it was ok. To be honest, I think his mama needed to know that it was ok too. This interaction allowed us to strike up a conversation and laugh for a few minutes together. I could have gotten my feathers ruffled over the curious stares and awkward silence of our pool friends but instead I decided to show this sweet family HOW to love my boy and others like him. I truly don't believe they meant to be hurtful but the reality is parenting a child with special needs is often LONELY and hurtful. People usually don't know what to say-- so they say NOTHING.
People often don't know what to do-- so they do NOTHING.
What I hope is impressed on your heart is that people with special needs aren't scary-- they are just PEOPLE. Possibly people with complex needs but still people who love to be spoken to and embraced with a warm smile even if physical or neurological limitations prevent them from returning the gesture. I am confident that interacting with them will bless them or their parent.
While still at the pool another little girl swam up to me as I stood close by watching Nolan dangle his feet in the pool. She piped up, "I know what he will look like when he grows up because I have seen him before." I'm not going to lie-- this one hit my mama heart like a ton of bricks. I knew what this sweet little girl was saying even if she couldn't articulate what she meant. I took a deep breath and allowed God's grace to pour over me as I chose to respond with that same grace.
"Well, you may have met other people like Nolan but he is actually his own person with his own traits and while he may have similarities, he is still growing like you are growing. You will grow up and look kind of like you look now but you will also change ALOT and you might look different. He will too."
Encounters like our evening trip to pool happen ALL THE TIME. I have had so many adults-- not just children, refer my son as "them"-- referencing the fact that he has Down syndrome. This is probably the phrase that hurts the most. It is so distant and insinuates that everyone who has Down syndrome is the same and does not have individual identity. The term Down Syndrome is not something to be ashamed to say. It refers to an extra chromosone that often comes with physical and developmental complications. We would never refer to everyone who has ever had cancer as "THEM." Our love ones with Down Syndrome are individuals who happen to have Down Syndrome. They themselves are not Down Syndrome. They are people.
I hope this post helps you to love those with special needs a little better and support those caring for them. This is not intended to be an angry rant-- truthfully I don't even feel angry. I really do believe "you don't know what you don't know." I hope that after reading this you will KNOW better and you will better be able to love on the people in your life as Christ loved you.
SPEAK to those who look and sound different. SMILE-- don't ignore people who have limitations. Talking to others with special needs doesn't draw attention to their limitations-- TRUST ME they are already keenly aware of their limitations. You stopping to speak and interact with families of special needs will mean more to them than you know. They probably feel very alone.
DO IT even if it is uncomfortable. You will get better at it and it will not always seem scary or awkward. And just remember that all people want love, acceptance and human interaction. Just be kind and speak!
To those who are caring for someone with special needs.... Take a deep breath. Give grace to yourself and to others. Allow others to fumble around as they figure out how to love the person in your life that you love so desperately. Choose to not get offended. Instead in graciousness and kindness advocate for your loved one. Find ways to teach others about people with disabilities. It took time and education for you to figure out how deal with whatever situation you are dealing with-- allow others the chance to do the same.
Most likely I will never run a race advocating for a cause or even join a chapter for special needs or Down syndrome-- not that those things aren't admirable, but the reality is I have four kids, I run a ministry and homeschool my sweet boys. My days are full and my time is limited. However I CAN advocate for my precious boy by teaching those around me how to love him and others with disabilities in a meaningful way.
Thank you for being willing to listen to this mama and for working at loving my boy and others like him in a meaningful way. It means the world to me. G'night!
Well, well, well..... for those of you still willing to read my story this is LONG overdue. I could share a million excuses as to why I haven't written again since my first entry but the truth is LIFE gets in the way. My best intensions are buried somewhere beneath laundry, groceries and cooking for six people. They are buried underneath urgent ministry needs, work, family celebrations, exercise (when I get around to it) and sheer exhaustion. But with the craziness going on in our world due to COVID-19 I find myself with more time than I normally do. That is not to say that life is slow --- nope. Not mine. Not raising four kids and running a ministry. But your's probably isn't either. If we're honest most of stay tired. Quarantine has forced me to slow down. Life right now is probably as slow as it is going to get for many years. The beauty is it has allowed me some time to write to you -- which I absolutely love!
I am not trying to minimize the health and financial crisis that face our world right now. But I have learned that those are not things I can control. I have also learned that life is lived while situations aren't ideal. I have learned that life is lived in the "in between" moments. I want to do "what I can" with "what I have"... TODAY. We've all heard, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
Well, here is my "lemonade" today....
For years I have longed to slow down. For years I have dreamt of the near magical, lazy days of childhood before technology demanded our attention and the world expected an immediate response. While I never would have wished for it to happen this way, I HAVE enjoyed the chance to rest and spend time with my precious family. I HAVE enjoyed what others might consider boring -- evenings spent playing board games, baking biscuits from scratch, arranging fresh flowers in my crystal rose bowl, grilling burgers, rocking my baby and holding him while he sleeps just to feel the rise and fall of his peaceful breath. I guess what I love about these simple things is the chance my soul gets to breathe in deep the memories that I will treasure for years to come. I get excited about being SO present that I can
those quiet evenings.
FOR THAT I am thankful!
As I sit here with a hot cup of Chai tea I find myself thanking the Lord for what I DO HAVE. I have a beautiful family. I have time to spend with them. We have hot dinners and a cozy place to rest our heads at night. I work really hard to cultivate a thankful heart -- but even more so when life seems out of control and overwhelming. I have learned that my contentment in large part is a byproduct of a thankful heart. And the condition of my heart dictates whether or not I am grounded -- centered -- focused on what matters most.
I don't know how you are feeling. Our lives are all different. Our circumstances are all different, but we ALL share in this one thing -- the human condition is broken. WE are broken. I don't know how broken or busted up you are feeling right now or what specific obstacles you are walking through. But I am all too familiar with the busted, brokenness of this world. So if you are needing a safe place to rest. I hope this meets you where you are.
Because CHRIST is enough. He just IS.
My STORY is about His faithfulness in the midst of my circumstances. I wish I could tell you that it is about my circumstances changing -- but it isn't. It IS however about how God is faithful to us in the midst of our hardest, darkest days. I guess it is time for me to share what the Lord has taught me -- IT IS LONG OVERDUE.
My guess is that right now all of us are feeling a bit out of control. Before I delve much further I just want to encourage you to find something -- ANYTHING to be thankful for.
I am thankful for.... buttercream frosting. I know that probably seems ridiculous. But here is the reason why: My twin boys turned five this week. I am one of those crazy mommas that like to throw beautiful Pinterest parties. I can feel some of you rolling your eyes as I write this -- but hang on -- let me explain. I throw my kids those kind of parties because I LOVE IT! Really -- I do! I love creating, baking and the time spent making the ideas from their imagination come to life. I love the quality time I get to spend with them planning their special day. In fact, I hardly ever post anything. In fact I am usually too busy soaking up the excitement on their faces to think to post anything. Every year I plan a party based on their interests. It helps me bookmark the years and freeze their precious selves at each given stage.
Quarantine messed up our lovely family tradition. And man, oh man was it hard on this momma's heart. I tried to make the best of it, but I knew and THEY knew that things were different. There were no lovely decorations -- no darlings cakes -- no cute outfits or friends and family to share it with.
In fact I just picked up what I could at H-E-B when I went to buy groceries. Instead of beautiful artwork on their cake I opted to spend the time baking it WITH them. Instead of decorating it for them I handed them the supplies I could round up and let them decorate their own cakes. Instead of cute outfits they picked out their own clothes and were quite happy to do so. Instead of presents from family and friends I wrote a Dr. Seuss-like scavenger hunt and we spaced their gifts over several days because Amazon was backed up. We settled for board games and drive-by visits from the grandparents. But you know what... My boys felt loved and that was all those parties were ever meant to do!
If you're celebrating someone you love while you are stuck at home quarantined from the world, this buttercream recipe might help. Or maybe you just need a reason to celebrate something -- anything. I think after tasting this recipe you will be thankful for it too. Either way, this is my favorite buttercream recipe EVER. It is delish and will make the most simple cake taste absolutely divine. I hope you find something to thank the Lord for today... even if it is as silly as buttercream frosting. After all, time with the people you love is what makes life really SWEET!
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
~ Proverbs 17:22
Here we go...
Hi! My name is Lauren. Welcome to my blog! Whether you ended up here intentionally or quite by accident I hope that my story will lead you to a relationship with the most important person in my life… Jesus Christ!
I am a true Texas girl, born and bred. I am married to my very best friend and together we have three amazing boys and are expecting our fourth bundle of joy soon… also a boy! I know, I know..... five guys and one girl! Needless to say, our home is loud and usually messy but filled with laughter. My husband, Ryan, has a sense of humor and has taught me so much about the gift of laughter. We laugh a lot… mainly because life is hard and it seems like a much better alternative to crying;)
My whole life “people” have described me as “strong.” When people describe me as strong it makes me laugh…. really laugh out loud. I mean, I like a strong glass of iced tea, I LOVE a strong cup of coffee and some might even describe my accent as strong, but me? Strong? Not really.
What is true is that I have walked through some REALLY tough circumstances. Circumstances that others looking in might think were “too much.” But truth be told I am ordinary… so very ordinary. My journey is one of “fear and trembling,” ridden with tears, “why me’s” insecurity and heartache. And isn’t that the human condition?
I laugh when people call me strong, because given the choice I probably would trade all of that strength for a life of ease and less heartache. Like most of you, my natural inclination is to hide and remain silent. SILENT because I don’t want to tell my story… I don’t want to have lived through the things that I have lived through so that I have something to share.
I am not brave. I am not noble. I am quite happy being silent and ordinary. And yet… I find myself in this broken, fallen world with this--- broken, human heart. There were many times where I thought I would be crushed under the grief of what I had to bear, and yet I didn’t break. NOT because I am strong, but because I walk with someone who IS strong… someone who gave HIS life and gave Himself through death for you and me. Phillipians 2:10 says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” He IS strong!
This blog is a testimony to HIS strength. Not mine. Every ounce of my being wants to give up and run… run for safety... run to escape this busted up world. My surrender to the Lord has literally been in complete fear, with hands that physically shook at the reality of what the Lord has asked me to walk through. My surrender hasn’t come from a place of strength or even knowing that “everything would be ok.” In fact, most of the time it hasn’t been OK, and it won’t ever be ok.
But what is true is that as I sit in the midst of the burnt ashes that we call the human condition, CHRIST has been faithful to me. He has been faithful in spite of my circumstances, NOT because of them. I started this blog not because I am strong or because I want to tell you about what I have walked through and how I have been victorious. I started this blog in the midst of my own heartache because the Lord is teaching me dependance on HIM each and every day. And what I do know, is even though I am tempted to keep silent and silently walk through my own circumstances under the guise that I need to "focus on my own particular set of circumstances right now", I cannot keep silent. What grieves me even more than walking though brokenness is allowing satan to get the victory. Christ has the VICTORY!
Whatever your circumstances are I hope that this is a place where you can come knowing that Christ is enough for you, for your particular set of circumstances. People often think that God calls “strong people.” The reality is God calls PEOPLE…. ordinary people… and in the midst of their circumstance HE changes them because HE is strong not because they are.
Well grab a strong cup of coffee and the strength of God’s word and come sit awhile… this is not a place for the strong or those who have it all together. This is not a lifestyle blog or inspirational tips to make your life better. This is my journey… hopefully your journey… full of insecurity and angst as we learn to lean into Rock of all Ages and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phillipians 2:12).”
Well… more of my story to come…. I am so glad you are here!
I am a Christ follower. Wife. Boy mom. I love adventures, traveling and beautiful words.