Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I don't need to be Intimidated by what you're good at

Intimidate:
1. To overawe through the force of superior talent
2. To force someone into action by inducing fear
As I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning, I felt that familiar sinking feeling. Pictures of First Day of School decorations and celebrations from the kitchens of friends far and near seemed to mock me.

I inwardly sighed. I'm no good at that stuff. I suck at decorating and celebrations. And I know I'd be a terrible homeschool mom...

In this Pintrest-Perfect, Post-it-to-Facebook world we live in, it is easy to feel like we don't measure up.
...Wow! She's training for a marathon? Does running after a toddler count as exercise?
...They are always doing such creative projects.  I never think of things like that.
...She always looks so nice. Maybe I should change my yoga pants. 

Of course, we all know that most people only present their best selves on social media, and it really is fun to see the amazing things our friends are doing.

But instead of feeling bad about all the things I am NOT doing or am NOT good at, I need to realize this truth: I don't need to be intimidated by what my friends are good at.

Just because someone else is good at her life doesn't mean that I'm bad at everything.

I mean, I am bad at a lot of things:

Keeping up with housework (and laundry...)
Doing my hair and make up (Can you say "2nd day hair messy bun"?)
Exercise (Sweat and I are not on good terms)
Feeding my pets (poor bird and guinea pig!)
Decorating cakes (seriously. They look like they were run over by a lawn mower by the time I am done)
Listening to my kids read (if ever there was an activity that needed the patience of a saint...)

But I'm good at lots of things too!

Sewing stuffed animals and gifts
Cooking meals my family and friends love
Answering emails quickly
Tickling fights
Sticking to an organized schedule
Doing research
Being a public school mom (I hope!)

And lots of other things too (which I can't think of...apparently "Thinking of things I am good at" is not one of things I am good at)!

You don't need to be afraid that you am not a good person/mother/human just because you are impressed with another person's unique gifts.

So keep sharing your First Day of School Pictures, mama, and your beautifully decorated cakes, and your amazing homeschool projects.

Instead of being intimidated, I am going to put my own insecurities aside and give you a cyber high five (or click "like"!) and celebrate the amazing gifts that make you you! 
  
Do other people's gifts intimidate you?
What are you good at? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If you think something is wrong, trust your gut

This is our story of discovering how to parent and educate our son in the best way possible. It is scary to write about this topic because it is intensely personal and it concerns my child, whom I always want to treat with respect. However, my goal in writing down our story is to give other families hope and direction. If you need hope and direction in your parenting journey, welcome. I share our story for you. 

I remember conversations I had with my husband last summer, 2014.

"He's really struggling. I tried having him read to me today. It was miserable. He has to sound each word out, even if we just read it two seconds ago. Or he keeps starting with the middle sound or the end sound. He gets so angry."

"Is he still doing the reversals?"

"Yeah."

"I noticed that too, but when we were doing some number stuff last night."

"Do you think I should say something to his new teacher?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

I didn't really know what to do. I knew that lots of Kindergarten, and even 1st grade, students have trouble with reading and reversals at times. But I had that little niggling feeling.

And this time, I decided not to ignore it.

I say "this time" because I have had that feeling about my son in the past, a feeling that made me knit my brows and say "hmm...I wonder..." Other times I would throw up my hands in frustration and wonder which one of us was riding the crazy train (probably both).

 Even when Benji was two years old, my husband said, "There's just something...I don't know. That kid's unique."

We talked about how Benji lived in his own little world. We described him as "quirky," "zany," and "his own person." We joked with him: "Which planet are you on today, Benji?" And he would answer us--in great detail! Oh, his little sense of humor!

But I struggled to understand him.

I can't tell you how many times I've covertly googled "Autism symptoms," "Learning disabilities," and "Dyslexia." I've scrolled through dozens of lists, articles, stories  but have always come up short: "No. He doesn't fit that list...not quite. We fine. He's fine. Besides, if something was really wrong, someone will say something."

I mean, he was in day care and preschool off and on from age 2-4. Someone would say something if something was really wrong.

Right?

We chalked his struggles and behavior issues up to his age:
Well, he's only 3.
His teacher will say something if there is something going on.
LOTS of preschoolers act like that!
Well, he IS a boy! 
He's so young.
Lots of kindergarten students do that.

And suddenly, he was almost 7 and I was running out of excuses.
Yet...not one of his teachers or caregivers ever said anything to me.

And that meant nothing was wrong. Right?

I placed so much of my trust in other people's professional opinions that I stifled the growth of my "mother's intuition."

Sure, I had learned to trust intuition in the past--and it had been right. But my intuition had been about physical, medical problems.

This...this had no name. It was something I couldn't see, couldn't put my finger on. It changed, morphed, disappeared, and then violently resurfaced. Some days we were fine.

Other days, we were...not fine.

So I decided to stop ignoring my gut.

I sat down with Benji's first grade teacher at the Back to School night in early September and told her of some of our concerns. I asked her to keep an eye out for some issues we were seeing.

When our conversation was over, I was glad I talked to her...but I didn't feel any better.
Did she believe me?
Did she think I was being "that parent," the hovering, over-indulgent, coddling type?
Did she even take me seriously?
Would she see what we, as parents, saw?
Of course she would! She was a professional educator. As a professional, she would be able to tell us if something was wrong.

Right?

I didn't get any answers that night; in fact, taking my concerns out of my head and talking about them just added more questions and worries to the situation.

But, that night, something important happened: I stopped ignoring my gut, even if my intuituion was about something that I couldn't see, or quantify, or even describe very well.

Something was going on with my son, and I was going to discover what it was.

To be continued....
_____________________________________________________________

Are you ignoring or listening to your gut? 

Following your intuition often leaves you with more questions than answers. But if you think something is wrong with your child, trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone. No "professional" can ever know or love your child as well as you do.

Friday, August 7, 2015

When you can't do it all...ask for help

"I don't know how you do it."

I hear this phrase a lot--from my mom, mother-in-law, friends, colleagues--and inwardly cringe every time. I don't know how to answer this phrase. Is it a compliment? A warning of impending insanity?

Usually say, "Me neither."

I do a lot of things, but so do lots of women. And like lots of women, I usually keep all the balls I juggle in the air.

I have four children: school aged twins, a toddler, and baby, all of whom are constantly hungry
I have a house that never stays picked up, let alone clean
I work from home as an adjunct English professor and freelance editor
I have a husband whom I love dearly (oops! Can't forget about him!)
But this summer, stuff got real. Stuff hit the fan.
This summer, I felt like Life was holding a whip to my back, screaming at me: "DO IT, WOMAN! DO ALL THE THINGS! DO ALL THE THINGS AND BE AMAZING TOO!"

And this summer, I've to confront my Life, the task-master of my own creation, and whisper, "I can't."
So I've had to say four words that I have stubbornly, foolishly resisted-with-all-my-being to say in the past.

No
and
I need help 
This is how I WAHM (work at home mom)
In order to say "yes" to my basic Life responsibilities, I've had to be honest with myself and say, "My life is not working right now. I am stressed out of my mind. Something needs to change." So...

I gave up a volunteer position I loved.

I cut short a summer book club I started.

Because I have 55 students in my current 8 week term (a course load I used to handle with ease), I scheduled babysitters to watch the kids a few times a week so I can go to Panera and frantically grade papers for a few hours without distractions.

I enrolled my 2 year old in two-day preschool this fall.

I want to do it all. But I just can't.

And that's ok. Because none of us can do it all, all the time. Sometimes we have to ask for help.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Read with your child in 48 [Hard] steps!

For some kids, learning to read is not as easy as 1-2-3! It's more like climbing a very hard, tall, rocky, frustrating mountain.

Maybe you've climbed this mountain too.

The 48 Steps to reading with your (struggling) reader:

1. Call child. Tell him that it is time to read.
2. Call child again when he refuses to come.
3. Give yourself mental pep-talk (you can do this!!)
4. Let child choose book.
5. Child chooses book.
6. Child throws book after getting stuck on the third word.
7. Child chooses 2nd book. 
8. Child starts screaming at you after you tell him to "sound out" 7th word.

10. Tell child to calm down.
11. Child runs out of the room
12. Tell child to come back.
13. Child refuses.
14. You realize that child needs to "reset brain." Insist your child run around the house.
15. Child screams at you and refuses.
16. Suggest Jumping Jacks.
17. Repeat steps 14 and 15.

18. Take a break to nurse the baby.

19. Go find your child. Fight anxiety that your child has actually run away instead of running around the house.
20. Find child in the backyard. Breathe a sigh of relief.
21. Chat calmly with child about how he needs to work through his "brain funk" by moving his body.
22. Child decides to "move his body."
23. Give enthusiastic praise as child spins on swing, jumps on trampline in a a circle, and hangs from the top of the swingset like a monkey.
24. Child feels better.
25. Go back inside.
26. Child chooses 3rd book, one that he has read before.
27. Open book. Realize that there is an "Instructions for Early Readers" page.
28. Read page quickly to yourself and realize you have been doing everything "wrong" with your early reader.
29. Feel lots of guilt.

30. Child starts reading.
31. Resist urge to correct.
32. Resist urge to say "sound it out" every 2. 5 words.
33. Say GREAT JOB!!! every time you finish a page.
34. Give high fives!
35. Laugh with child at the funny parts.
36. Say "that's a bossy 'e'"
37. Say "sound it out."

38. Wait calmly and silently while child screams at you and then buries head in the couch.
39. Wait some more.
40. When child resurfaces, repeat steps 36-39 twice.
41. Say, "You're doing great!"
42. Say, "Only 2 more pages!"
43. Turn the page. Realize you lied.

44. Repeat steps 41-42.
45. Repeat steps 38-39.

46. Finish book.
47. Give high five!
48. Take five deep breaths and make yourself a cup of coffee.

Helping your struggling reader is no joke. Hang in there, mama. I'm right there with you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"It means you need to be strong and brave:" Telling my son about his learning disabilities

"MOOOOMMM!" He yelled. "STOP!"

"I'm sorry! Sound it out. h-h-h--"

"MooOOOM!" His voice took on an even angrier edge, his eyes flashing irritation.

"Benji, just read it. Sound it out. Start at the beginning."

"This! THIS!"

"It's not "this." There's no 'th.' Sound it out, Honey. "h-iiii--"

"GAHH! MOM!!! I don't WANT YOUR HELP!" He dropped to the floor and flung his arms around his knees, making himself into a ball, a position that is all too familiar to me.

I was losing my temper and trying not to. We had been at this for twenty minutes.
One Bible Verse: Twenty minutes.

"Stand up! Get off the floor! Let me help you--"

"I don't want your help!!!!"

"BENJI!!!!"

"No! NO NO NO!"

And we were fighting...again.

I knew I needed to calm down. We have deep ruts down this path, the path of fighting, struggling, pressing forward and falling down...deep down into relational brokenness, all over reading.

But it's more than reading troubles. We just learned some new names for it: Language Processing Learning Disability and Auditory Processing Disorder.

It affects so much of my son's daily life: listening; processing sounds, words, and their meanings; understanding requests and direction; remembering instructions; basic, daily communication; and the ever-dreaded reading.

And here we were again, in the same deep, frustrated, angry, miserable-mom-miserable-son, RUT.

"Let's breathe," I said. And we did.

He pretended he was a balloon, squeezing out all of his angry air.

I decided to take a step into unknown territory, to forge a new path.

"Look at me, buddy. I want to be a team. Can we be a team?"

"I'm only teams with super heroes!"

"Well, can we be a super hero reading team?"

Then I held him on my lap, my little-big bony boy and spoke quietly into his ears, so sensitive to noise that listening to music in church causes weekly meltdowns.

"Benji, you know how you have trouble listening, and understanding words sometimes? How it's hard to follow directions and read? Well, it's because you have something called Auditory Processing Disorder."

He turned to face me, curious.

"You know how you have pathways from your ears to your brain? Well, sometimes those pathways go...um..." I made a noise that sounded like a cross between static and clearing your throat, because he likes noises. "CHXXXTCH! and the message doesn't meet your brain in the way it came through your ear."

He stared at me, his head cocked to one side and said, "CHXXTCH!"

"That's right! So when the CHXXTCH! happens, it's hard to listen and follow directions. And it makes reading hard."

"I do not like to read."

"I know, baby, I know. How about I read it to you, and you just listen?" So I read his memory verse again. "How 'bout I read it one more time?"

"No, mom! I'll read it." He said enthusiastically. And he tried again, he tried so hard.

We stumbled to the last word. "Faithfulness." I prompted.

"Thankfulness."

"No, faith-ful-ness."

"Thankfulness"

"Th-th-th."

"F-f-f-f"

"FAITHFULNESS."

"THANKFULNESS."

And then I saw it, a rare glimpses into my son's world.

"Benji--do "faithfulness" and "thankfulness" sound like the same word?"

"Yeah." Duh.

"Ok, I see." I nodded, reveling in the clarity of this moment. "They really are different. Here, put your teeth on your lips: f-f-f."

He tried: "f-th-th-f. ffffffaaaiiinkfulness. faaaiiinthnnkkfullness."

He tried. He tried over and over: "Fainkfulness. Thaithfulness. Faithfulness! MOM! I DID IT!"

"You did it!

"Faithfulness! Fainkfulness!"

It didn't matter. He was smiling, his brow free from his debilitating frustration. We did a special fist-bump-high-five combo.

He read the verse one more time, halting, stopping-starting, mis-reading, mis-interpreting, pushing through the overwhelming CHXXXTCH in his brain. We finished together.

"One more time?" I asked.

"No."

I smiled. "Good job, B." I prompted him to look in my eyes, another task he struggles with.

"Listen, honey. I know this is hard." I hesitated. Should I go on? "You know, people learn in all different ways. And because your pathways get messed up sometimes, it can be hard for you. It's because...because of your learning--"

My brain said disabilities but my psyche recoiled. After a year of struggle, worry, testing, research, specialists, fighting, pushing, and so many, many tears, we finally got a name. We have a name for his struggles. But I just couldn't choke out the word.

"...because of your...uh learning challenges. But that's ok! Learning challenges just mean you need to be strong and brave."

"I'm super-strong and brave!" He showed me his muscles.

"I know you are, B. I know you are."

And I'm learning to be strong and brave too. 

Because this is just the beginning of our journey.  

_________________________________________________________ 

If you were wondering what this post was about, my story today is my first time writing about this topic.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What's going on outside your window?

So much of my days are filled with this: 
 And this:
And this:
And this (which is so much more fun than the first three pictures!):
My life is lived tight within the walls of my little house--the cleaning, the cooking, the grading, the kids. Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in my own little world and forget that there is a lot going on outside the walls of my house. 

This past week, my sweet neighbor and friend Amanda reminded me of the need to look outside myself--just by a simple text. All she did was remember that I had an important event in my life, an event that I was worried about and one that was going to have a large impact on my family. But it was the remembering that was huge. I thanked her for the text the next day and she brushed it off as if it was nothing. 

"I was just going to bed and I stopped and thought, 'What is going on in the world outside my house that I should be remembering?'" 

She thought about me so she let me know. She took the time to think about the life outside her windows. Her text made me feel loved and cared about.

Her thoughtfulness really meant something to me and it challenged me to look outside the windows of my house, beyond the dishes, the messy living room, the endless emails, and the play-dough playtime. My life is FULL and BUSY and STRESSFUL at times. But while there is a lot going on inside my world, there is even more going on outside.

Who is getting cancer treatment?
Who just had a baby?
Who is homesick?
Who just had a breakup?
Who is struggling?
Who needs encouragement?

 It only took my friend a few seconds to send me a text but her simple act made a world of difference to me. It encouraged me on a day that I was struggling...and also encouraged me to look outside my world to see where I can be an encouragement to others--it only takes a minute to send a text, an email, a facebook message, or make a call.

What's going on outside your window?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy 6 months, Eli!

Eli's 6 month birthday was actually 4 days ago...but as the 4th child in the family, it's just par for the course that this update is late, right?  (poor 4th child!!)

This little guy is a butterball of joy. He is my biggest baby yet--18 whopping pounds! That's 2 lbs more than Silas at 6 months...and...uh...Micah and Benji barely weighed more than that at TWO YEARS OLD! He is growing out of 6 month onesies and fits comfortably in 9 month clothes. It is crazy having such a big baby!
Little Man loves his milk! After our first rough month, I'm so glad that breastfeeding has been successful. We feed on demand...and he demands a lot! I love his thunder thighs! This kid has rolls!
We haven't started solids yet but we will in the coming weeks--all his older brothers started eating real food around 7 months or so.

Eli is on a 3 nap a day schedule (though not always at the same time or length every day). I moved him out of the rock sleeper a few weeks ago into a pack and play in my room. He still wakes up a lot at night (Yawn for mommy).
 Eli loves to be in the action! He is a squealer and grunter. He also loves to be tickled and talked to. Micah and Benji do a great job looking after Eli while I am in the shower or while I make dinner. Silas is such a good big brother too and loves to talk to "E-why" and nuzzle and "wrestle" with his baby brother.
 This is his new "trick"--Look, mama! I can sit up! He's still working on those ab muscles but he can sit up for a few minutes before falling or diving forward (we've had a few bonks before mama could catch him! Poor baby!).
He also loves to roll from his back to his belly but somehow has forgotten how to roll back so I have to "rescue" him a lot from this position. Aaron and I have witnessed him pushing up with his arms and also on his toes. Uh oh! Does this mean early crawling??? Slow down, baby!
Eli seems to be following in the footsteps of his older brothers: He loves this jumper! Some days, he jumps till he drops! He also loves to kick, either in his rocker chair (so he can make it rock), or in his bed (thunk! thunk! thunk! thunk!). In fact, I have bruises on my legs from Mr. Kicky-pants!

He also has started to play with toys, his current favorites being a set of plastic keys and a tiger that buzzes when he pulls a cord, or anything that he can put in his mouth and slobber over. He is my drooliest baby! I have to change his shirts on a regular basis because he drools so much. Nope, no teeth in sight!
He loves his mama the best, though he always wants his daddy to hold him and kiss his neck--lots of giggles! I tried and tried to get him to smile for this picture. He looks so serious but he really is a happy baby!

Everyone told me that after you have three kids, adding a fourth is a piece of cake. This hasn't exactly been true for me. I  feel like I am still trying to figure out my life as a mom of four, especially how to be a work-at-home mom of four! Most days I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions every 5 minutes, especially since Micah and Benji are out of school for the summer too. Whew!

I would write more about our sweet baby but...he just woke up from his nap! Happy 6 months little boy!

Friday, June 19, 2015

You don't have to enjoy every minute to be a good mom

When my twins were babies, I was consistently bludgeoned with this advice by well-meaning people: "Enjoy every minute."

I hated this phrase...mostly because I was going through one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Just keeping up with the daily care of two infants was hard enough--and I was supposed to "enjoy every minute" too?

I felt like a failure.

 One of my favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy, wrote an article the other day about marriage, called "What makes a relationship work?"

This line stuck out to me:
...I’ve been warned by older and wiser friends not to panic if we hit a rough patch—strong marriages have bad weeks, months, even years
We seem to accept the truth that "strong marriages have bad weeks, months, even years" so why does this truth seem harder to swallow when applied to parenthood?

 The thing is, our kids are people too, complete with little personalities, big attitudes, funny quirks, and loud opinions. And just like a strong marriage, our relationship with our kids requires work and daily maintenance.

In my seven+ years of parenting, I have come to realize that relationships with my children can and do go through difficult times that are frustrating, irritating, exhausting, even soul-crushing--trials of growth and times where I literally pull my hair out and think what-the-heck-am-I-doing?

There are so many times I have thought "I am a bad mom" or "I am not doing my best" when really, I was just going through one of these trials of growth. And growth is uncomfortable and painful and....not enjoyable.

The truth is, you don't have to enjoy every minute to be a good mom, despite the little old lady in the grocery store who sighs "it-goes-by-so-fast,"  and the "soak-up-every moment / enjoy every stage / be-the-perfect-parent-today-or-screw-your-kids-up-for-tomorrow" social pressures that we are inundated with on a daily basis.  

Parenting is hard because we are in relationship with tiny humans, and all good, lasting relationships have hard times. The key words there are "good" and "times," because there are good times too--seconds, moments, days, and years that are good, and should be soaked up and enjoyed.

Those are the times where we feel like good parents.

But the reality is, whether in marriage, or friendship, or parenting, or any relationship, feelings can be fleeting. It's the sticking through the hard times that spells commitment, the "I-will-do-my-best-no-matter-what-because-I-love-you" that is the true marker of a "good" mom.

Is motherhood enjoyable? I think the answer to that question depends on the mother and the moment you ask.

But if the litmus test of a "good mother" is how much we enjoy it, we will always be sentimentalizing the past or wishing ourselves in a less difficult parenting moment (naptime, anyone?).

We need to release the expectation of "enjoying motherhood" and focus on the reality of growing our relationships with our children, and all the good, bad, infuriatingly messy, ugly, and beautiful aspects that relationships with people bring to our lives.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When Silence is full of words

I haven't blogged in a month. And it isn't because I haven't had anything to say. Actually, it's because I had too much to say...but I haven't had the the words to say it.

I still don't.

All I can say is this: I've been going through Something Hard, something that I want to talk about and write about but don't always have words for.

Writing has always been a way for me to process my thoughts, feelings life. And I've felt like I want to write about what's been gong on, but I can't. Not yet.

My husband has this theory that goes like this: People want to talk about what they want to talk about. Meaning, even if you didn't intend to have a certain conversation or say whatever you said, subconsciously, you wanted to say exactly what you said. 

He calls it "The Corner Theory," meaning you back yourself into the "corner" you want to talk about, either consciously or unconsciously (usually the latter).

This is why people tend to tell secrets to strangers, like the person sitting next to you on a cross-country flight.

Writing is a bit more conscious and deliberate. There is such vulnerability in "putting it all out there." Writing is big, black, bold...and, in a way, permanent. It's committing to the idea.

I have talked about the Something Hard with a lot of people, and that has helped me process some of the crazy and scary and unknown. But the words fall and float away as soon as they're said. Nothing sticks. Nothing's permanent.

But writing about it still scares me, because somehow, making the commitment, saying the words, makes it real, like honest-to-goodness THIS is my life. THIS is real. THIS is hard, damn it.

For me, writing is accepting the real.
It's brave. 
And I'm not brave, not yet.
 But maybe someday I will be. 

For now though, until I have the answers and words, the Something Hard still looms large. I am so full of words, but I don't know how to say them. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Holy Desire and Motherhood Colide: A story of how God answered my unspoken prayers

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of doing “something big” for God. I would write that book; I would travel the world; I would speak before thousands at seminars; I would become the mentor that would impart godly wisdom. I was ready to soar for God’s glory.

Fifteen years later, married with four young sons, I sometimes feel that I am grounded, both physically and spiritually.

My aspirations are much less grandiose (and self-glorifying) now, but my desire to serve the Lord is still deep. Yet I often feel frustrated that my heart wants to offer so much more than the reality of my life allows me to give. After all, husband, home, and children take up most of my daily effort and energy.


I know I'm not alone. As I listen to my friends and read in the blogging world, I know that many women feel as I do. While I recognize my God-given roles as a wife and the mother of four young boys, I still have the ache to do something more.

Shouldn't I just be content with the ministry of my family?  What do we do when our desires to serve God are harnessed by the responsibilities of domestic life and motherhood?

I often don't even know how to pray about this desire. So I don't.

But God knew it anyways.

Unexpectedly, my old college roommate contacted me: “Let’s get together for coffee! I have something that I want to talk to you about.

During Silas' naptime, we sat at my kitchen table and Sabrena told me about her MFA thesis, “The Lucky Ones” project: a set of three graphic novels, a la comic book style, to address human trafficking of American girls in the USA. The project, focused on education and prevention, was unique and inspiring. I was so excited for her.

But then, she asked me a surprising question.

“Would you consider being my writer for this project?”

I felt a shocking holiness in her question, almost like God was saying, "I see you. I know you can't go overseas, or travel the country, or work for a non-profit, or do midnight counseling sessions in jail cells...but this. You can do this. I know your heart. I haven't forgotten about you." 

That was two years ago. Since then, I have learned about the sobering, wretched reality of the human trafficking sex trade. I've written two stories for her project, and our team is hoping to do a third story in the future.
The Lucky Ones team: Me, Sabrena, and Mike (our illustrator)
It has been the most challenging project I have ever done. In fact, after writing two stories, I feel my psyche resisting, because plunging my mind and heart into this type of story telling once again is soul shocking, like jumping into the deep end of a freezing swimming pool and getting the wind knocked out of you as you struggle to keep your head above water.

During the research and writing process, my husband has shaken his head out of concern for me, saying, "I can tell you're researching again. You're in a dark place."

The project has been difficult, but it has also been Good. Sabrena is about to defend her thesis. "The Lucky Ones" is a beautiful, powerful project that I pray will bring education and prevention to many, many people.

I got to be a small part of "something big."

So what is the point of this story? I guess it's this: God has not forgotten you.

This opportunity opened my eyes to the unique and unexpected ways that God can fulfill my desires to serve him (Psalm 37:4), even when, in my life as a busy mom of young children, it seemed impossible.
As mothers, we often feel like our duty is to constantly meet the needs of others. There is holiness in this act of selflessness. Yet God cares about our needs as well.

He also cares about our desires.

 As Jen Pollock Michel writes in her book Teach us to Want, “we discover that our desires are given by God—not in the sense of granted, but more in the sense of confided.”

I'm becoming more brave in telling God my desires these days. But, in reality, he already knows them, and he wants to give me so many Good Gifts. 

In wrestling with my own frustration of balancing my personal wants and trusting God for his timing, I have quietly learned that God has not forgotten about my youthful desires to serve him. The first act of service is trust. As Michel writes, “Holy trust believes that whatever God chooses to give is enough.”

And God does give. The only thing left to do is say "yes" to these unexpected, surprising opportunities to serve, small as they may seem, in this season of limitations.

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