Austin, Texas- the Silver Bullet

This week I discovered that a phrase that is a conversational silver bullet. No matter what the suggestion is, how many ways I can say I’ve tried it or no thanks, the thing to say is “I grew up in Austin, Texas.”

Anyone with a disability or lasting illness will tell you that suggestions and advice are now a part of life. Flooding your house slowly, like a steady drip-drip-drip or rushing in unwelcome as Hurricane Harvey,  what is meant to be refreshing can feel deadly. How to respond varies based on the person, advice and day, but I have struggled to find a grace-filled way to get people to realize they are hurting, not helping.

Then it happened. After a LONG Monday I went to a workout class with the glorious Lynette (of swim-lesson helper fame from this summer. God bless her and the horse she rode in on!)  The wonderful teacher, whose husband is a cancer survivor, made suggestions and reported of studies of the benefits of cannabis oil. This was the third time it was suggested in 24 hours.

I was sweaty, tired, and had slammed a protein shake that my sick child wouldn’t finish rather than eating dinner with my husband. As she regaled me with stories of how it cured tumors that didn’t respond to treatments and gave advice on how to get the synthetic version (all from genuine care and love), I told her that I was well-informed, talked to our doctors, had researched about the benefits, and  I had heard about the successes, especially with epilepsy– because I’m from Austin, Texas. She laughed and agreed that I must surely know about cannabis, then.

This had to be a fluke, right? But it KEPT WORKING. Stating what we have tried, researched, etc. doesn’t work… but flippantly stating that I am aware of the new holistic-herbal-cannabis-etc. treatments because I grew up in Austin somehow fills people with confidence like an empty stomach filled with organic tofu or a Torchy’s Taco.

Could this be the key? Could I now buy milk without a comment from someone noticing my kid with cancer or Down Syndrome? I dreamed of walking down an aisle toward checkout as easily as a bearded man wears a leather mini-skirt down 6th Street during ACL weekend.

I’ve now realized how well prepared I am for my life, thanks to my frequent moving throughout childhood and finally resting for 10 years in Austin.

I’ve learned to embrace and live in the place that seems weird to everyone else. It’s normal to me; I grew up in Austin, Texas.

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My kids need music to learn, calm down, and find joy during hard circumstances. Thankfully, Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World.  Regardless of the beat of your drum, you can find it in Austin. Music therapy is a way of life.

We sit in waiting rooms with people from all walks of life without getting uncomfortable.  I used to go downtown for college credit courses on the Dillo trolley, often flanked with homeless transvestites in black leather get-ups that would make Cher impressed. You don’t have to endorse every life choice to  see someone’s humanity and be kind.   (Nice stillettos, Steve!)  The years after September 11 sparked lively debates about war, WMD and oil on those rides on the way to Civics 201.  That’s the education one can get in Austin, Texas.

We’ve learned to use our natural gifts to have a good time. Barton Springs isn’t a traditional pool or water park, but it’s a landmark. It’s 68 degrees and endangered salamanders have free reign, but it’s what we’ve got. It may not look like your pools, but  it’s great. barton springs

 

I can stand alone and hold fast to my convictions? I went to Texas A&M, but I grew up in the rival city of Austin, Texas. I learned to keep my thumb up in a world of “Hook ’em Horns”… and to win and lose with grace. LIFE SKILLS.

I’ve learned to adjust my expectations. Watching my favorite small businesses, restaurants, and landmarks being overtaken by trendy commercial shops and “progress” prepared me for raising kids that aren’t at all what I pictured.

I learned to find new routes and ask directions. Most major roads have at least two names, after all.

We learned balance in diet. Yes, natural and organic is healthy and helpful, but there is no shame in a steak, a well-done breakfast taco, or a chicken-friend steak from the Hills Cafe.  Some follow dietary restrictions religiously, but I find it’s okay to loosen our Bible-belt every now and then.

I’m used to what it feels like when people try to move in and mold you into something a little different because they see different potential. I’m looking at you, Californians.

We know broken isn’t necessarily bad. As a family, we have been “broken” in many ways. Our kids may seem broken. Our spirits can feel broken. Brokenness can be a unique and authentic place to gather for a great time, if you come with the intention to have a good time.

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We know that you can be straining to reach a new destination with all your might, but you may have to wait. Those milestones may take much longer to reach and come with great frustration. The roads that were once fun to cruise on in my grandmother’s sweet 1992 Mercury Sable when I was 17 are now jammed with traffic.  We can still reach the destination, but it may need a back road or a lot more patience.

 

Lake Austin, Lake Travis, tubing and boating taught me to have a buddy in case things get hard.

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If you’re sinking, you don’t need someone to yell instructions from the boat or offer suggestions. A good lifeguard gets INTO the water, instructs the struggling person to be still, and pulls the person to safety when they are drowning.  The person in distress rests while the able-bodied buddy gets help, calls for an ambulance, or figures out the next step.  Moving an injured person can do more damage, even if you are trying to save them.

Likewise, any suggestion or instruction offered to a person in distress can be harmful. Instead, ask the person if they need help and ask WHAT they need. Come alongside and listen. That is like offering a life vest for when they are ready to swim again. Any advice given before listening and grieving alongside someone is like throwing a breaststroke instruction manual ( or diet book, or oil, or therapy, or new cure, or research, or video, or faith-healing, or story about someone who had it and died) on a person treading water in a hurricane.

Most of all, I’ve learned that no matter where you are in Austin, there is something that can make it great.  Good can come from disability, but it isn’t good. It isn’t fun.  A childhood filled with therapy, medicines, oncology, and moving isn’t a good place to be but we can ALWAYS find the good. There is something to thank God for, to be grateful for, and someone else to encourage. Our story is unique. There is no place like it, and it will keep people coming back to visit if you give them a great show and a smile.

As KVET said every day before the star spangled banner played at high-noon, “It’s a great day to be alive and living in Austin, Texas.”  Even f it isn’t a great day, we are alive and living. Weird or not, we will be unique and worth returning to. Trust me, I’m from Austin, Texas.

 

 

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Miranda Magic

The long-awaited day is here. The moment I have anticipated and others have cheered for; my home stands quiet, semi-tidy, and occupied by only females. I have taken a leap of faith across the canyon of Good Decisions and Best For Everyone, only to reach the other side with a smack that knocked the wind right out of me.

An hour ago I put William on a plane with one of the women I respect and cherish most in this world. My sister in law, Miranda is a remarkable woman who serves God well. She is also a mother of five and understands the feelings of trusting God but wondering how on EARTH this could be the plan.

She arrived on a Friday evening, descending to the ground like Mary Poppins. A magic fell on the house. I laughed. The baby cooed. WILLIAM SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. I say again, WILLIAM SLEPT. I checked repeatedly to see if he was still breathing. He stirred and moved in the night, but he wasn’t snoring or hitting his head. GLORY.

The next day felt like Cinderella and her animated animal friends were helping around the house. She did the laundry and dishes. She snuggled Jonathan. She smooched the baby and changed diapers. SHE GOT WILLIAM TO PEE ON THE POTTY AGAIN. She was even here over her birthday. She spent her BIRTHDAY helping wrangle kids because she loves us.

OH, the Miranda Milestones. While she was here Elizabeth not only continued to say, “Momma”, but added “Dad” and “Anda” to the list. She also rolled over. It was a joy to see her enjoying a chubby baby again.

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This morning Jonathan headed for an in-depth MRI and an overnight chemo treatment. William headed to school while we packed and anxiously prepared for the flight. After trekking across the airport parking lot and using three elevators on an adventure that surely required Sherpas, I watched her skillfully push stroller-strapped William  through security.

ALL THE EMOTIONS hit at once. I prayed for Miranda. I prayed for TSA. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that there would be no pooping, no sneezing, no meltdowns and no underpants wedgies.

Within an hour she called with a tale of woe. The Family Restroom was out of order, so she went to the handicapped stall, which is the only one that fits the stroller inside while a caregiver… tinkles. It too, was out of order.

At the opposite end of the terminal she waited for yet another bathroom. The door to the family restroom opened, revealing an elderly couple. With the help of a wheelchair and a walker, these two emerged with a cloud of cigarette smoke billowing behind them as if they were opening in a Grateful Dead Reunion Concert.

But wait, there’s more. There always is. The door was being repaired, causing a loud siren to wail and the flight was delayed. Through it all she remained steady and smiling. William became quiet and snuggled in, once again feigning a false sense of security.

Miranda called with a positive report. Several people complimented William’s flight behavior. He was downright exhausted. He did well, aside from being totally unnerved at looking out the window and seeing clouds at eye level. The stroller was only lost for a moment. I was so pleased to hear a great report!

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Then she said something that reminded me of one thing I completely forgot that is necessary for the care of William.

“Maybe it’s that I’m comfortable around people with disabilities, but I didn’t realize that so many people would look at him with pity or a double-take, if they notice him. No one will make eye contact with me. The only woman who looked him over without an expression was a mom who also had a son with Down Syndrome. I know it is human nature, but it’s amazing. ”

HEART. WRENCHED.

I forgot.  On a few occasions others have pushed Will’s stroller for me so I could care for Jonathan and often I received similar comments. These sweet Mommas weren’t used to the visual look-over that we receive, or the looks of pity that often come from older folks.

Perhaps it is that I usually have a brisk double-stroller pushing-pace or a large belly that bids others make way, but I usually wear a fixed smile like armor when we are out in public. In Will’s first year I took it very hard, especially with Jonathan in my other arm. Ages two-three were plagued with delayed speech, communication challenges, and behavior common for children overwhelmed by autism. I took the Snake Mentality. Make them more scared of you than you are of them.

Clearly people look in awe. We’re adorable. (Pay no attention to the child picking his nose, melting down, displaying the crack of his booty as his pants fall down, etc…) However, your people will find you. For example, the flight attendant had a ten year old with Down Syndrome, and made friendly conversation. The teachers, family members, friends– those who have gone to battle alongside those in our tribe will give the nod that Jeep drivers are said to give. “We are your people. You are one of us.”

Over the last 7 years, many friends have lifted burdens from my shoulders. Miranda and her husband Dale have taken William into their home for nearly two weeks. He will have undivided attention from 5 COUSINS and a dog. He will have playdates, he will swim, and he will be away from a crying baby and the Cancer Cloud. It’s the best thing for him.

It took an hour for my teething baby to settle into a nap, but here I now sit. This is the quiet I longed for and secretly feared. I imagined I’d eat chocolate and slide across wood floors in white socks and button down, a la Risky Business. I imagined I’d nap. I piously pictured myself reading scripture in prayerful meditation all while ironing, cleaning, and restoring some order to my chaos.

Instead, here I sit next to a bowl depleted of leftover fried rice, trying to calm a teething baby.  The deep wells of my heart have been stored up for a while now. This month has been searing and sanctifying. There is HARD work to do and to-do lists piled up, but I must do that hardest thing: be still. Listen to the raging waters of my soul. Hear the sacred screaming of give the pain to Christ rather than idolize it or wear in like armor.  If all else fails, I know Miranda will be back in two weeks. I hope she brings her magic.

 

The Edge of Seven

Jonathan turns seven next week and the boy has PLANS. By that I mean he picked out his cake mix and sprinkles on the last grocery run. Suspecting (correctly) that sleep-deprived forgetfulness is on the rise, he kindly reminds me quite often  “Mom, it’s almost time for birthday cake.”    In the regular chaos of life, I occasionally find a mixing bowl mysteriously put out on  the counter. When I ask if the mysterious invisible children “No one”, “Not Me” or “I’m Not Sure” did it,  he says, “Almost birthday time! ” He completes his exchange by raising an eyebrow, cocking  his head to the side as if to ensure the acknowledgement of expectation.

He also enlisted help from his Dad, who knows love notes are the key to wooing me.

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( I remember, Son. You were nearly 9 pounds and almost killed us both. That deserves cake.)

Rather than make a gift list, he insists that he should shop and pick things out himself, like a Big Kid Who Is Seven. Asking for money and gift cards?n Are we on the edge of teen years?

Living On The Edge sounds thrilling, frightening and exhilarating. It is a place on anticipation. We wait for sunrise to triumphantly tear through darkness each morning…literally.  Over the last few years, William has not been able to sleep through the night. William’s facial structure causes sinus/ear infections, sleep apnea, and other issues. Three years of medications, appointments, sleep studies, and every remedy under the sun.

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In the last seven months he has awakened between 2:30-4:30 am. In those moments, we long for dawn to break and for the day’s schedule to begin.  Often, we go turn on music and let him dance. It fills him with joy and keeps him quiet enough for the other children to sleep. This morning, at the edge of sunrise, we were on the Edge of Seventeen.

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Once Elizabeth woke up, William ran to her to say good morning. During her breakfast, he was on the edge again.

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By 6am, my sanity was close to the edge. Then, as children often do, they filled the mundane and stressful moments of life with heart-tugging moments that make it all worth it. Character, kindness, and joy shine through.

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A few hours later BOTH the boys were prepared for school. Their little feet stood at the sidewalk’s edge so they could peek around the trees and watch for the bus. This is the first opportunity since September– and we went through our usual routine. We pray. We go through daily reminders. Then we huddle up, put hands in, and give our family cheer.

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The day continued with appointments that went to the edge of the work day. Dirty dishes pile over the edge of the sink. Exhaustion has put us all on edge– and a few of us right over it. Here we sit, on the edge of tomorrow. We are full on anticipation, full of hope, and on the edge of seven.

 

Why We Weep (according to a 6 yr old)

There are some things parents do, no matter how many times we swear we won’t do it. We ask ridiculous questions and say ridiculous things. Today I fell prey to one of the basic blunders. No, it wasn’t challenging a Sicilian to a battle of wits when death was on the line… ( a reference from The Princess Bride)

I asked a question that has sparked outstanding answers over generations. Why do we weep? Ah, the glimpses of our greatest pains and triumphs? The joys of wedding days, the sorrow of death, the release of endorphins after a near death experience. Why do we weep in this house? The inspiring answers could be endless…

WHY are you CRYING, Jonathan?

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  1. I want a family movie night! (5 minutes before bedtime) Make time go slower!

I can do MANY amazing things, but controlling time is above my pay-grade, Son. I shall now pause for 10 seconds to emphatically sing the chorus of “If I Could Turn Back Time”.

2. Elizabeth is crying

Well, I suppose a brother is born for adversity.  As Dolly Parton said in Steel Magnolias, “I have a strict policy. Nobody cries alone in my presence.”Yet it was only last week that Jonathan comforted his baby sister with, “No, no Elizabeff. There is NO crying in baseball!” How short our memories can be. 

3. I don’t want to eat my quesadilla or the crust!

(He ate it…and they don’t have a crust.)

4. Why does the Green Lantern have to be GREEEEEN?

5. The shower water is too hot, too cold, too warm, and too wet.

Right-o. isma

That was just the last three hours. The other two were equally emotionally stable. I say, “Row well and live”, they drive us straight into an iceberg.

This week has been one for the record books, my friends. Tears may be no more in Heaven, but there is weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hell. Right now, this house looks…less than heavenly. There are more indiscernible explanations through sobs happening in the kitchen than in a girls’ bathroom at a middle school dance.

 

This week was a breaking point for all of us. Schedules are filled to the brim with doctor’s appointments and new strains. There has been weeping from teething, weeping from over-exhaustion, weeping from deep pain, weeping for the joy of prayers answered and sleep finally coming to those who need it most…

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Crying doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be logical. At least, it certainly doesn’t in this house. I am confident that before long, we will be laughing until we cry once more.

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”… even if the Green Lantern has to be green.

 

Suffering For The Lord, and other things that happened at Fort Belvoir

I am now accepting applications for a personal press secretary.

Perhaps I am just used to translating toddler-talk and reading between the grace-filled gaps with sleep-deprived mothers. Perhaps I just assume people will know what I mean, or will just smile and nod. Perhaps one day I will remember how to speak coherently without interjections of “Get that out of your mouth!”  in every other sentence. Unfortunately, today was not that day. Worse, I was holding a microphone.

It’s a powerful thing to be able to say “Hi. I have a son with Autism and a brain tumor. I have another son with Down Syndrome whose leukemia is in remission. Won’t you hold my baby?”  Did I say those exact words, as I intended? No. No, I did not.

Pro tip: When asked to give a testimony on joy through suffering, be sure not to garble the testimony about the suffering. Specifically, don’t be so concerned to talk about Jesus glory more than your personal story that you forget to explain how horrible the circumstances are than you faced– so that you can explain how Jesus worked through it.

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I haven’t spoken to a group in quite some time, unless all three kids gathered in the bathroom watching me tinkle counts. (It doesn’t.) Rusty though I am, I wouldn’t have missed today for the world. The alarm went off at 5:00am so that Elizabeth and I could make it to Fort Belvior, Virginia to speak to the Protestant Women of the Chapel.

Three months ago, I met the most amazing mom over social media. This momma has two gorgeous young boys and one on the way– and this baby boy is extra special. Like William, he has Down Syndrome. Despite having lots of amazing moms in my DS tribe, this is the first time I got to meet someone face to face after befriending them! It was a thrill.

Just seeing her was a confirmation of all God has done through William’s life and the testimony that has been built by the therapies, surgeries, cancer treatments and daily celebrations. Her gorgeous mother was there wielding the grandma-touch; Elizabeth promptly fell asleep in her arms.

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The morning was full of mishaps and challenges for all involved, but the worship was genuine and praised God through our mess. The first handful of women I met had stories full of mothering through medical disability, of surgeries and chemotherapy, of freedom from addiction and potty training!  Is there anything as wonderful as walking into a room of strangers and knowing they are family? After all, crock pots of grits and taco soup awaited. These were Jesus- loving women.

There were technical mishaps, taco soup was spilled off a motorcycle, a chaplain’s assistant risked electrical shock, and Elizabeth was her fussiest to date. If Satan had ever tried to distract or dismay a group of ladies, this was it.

Then we began to worship anyway. The songs, the testimony in dance, the poem and the worship all echoed the same message– God gave each woman a melody but when we all came together we made a harmony in a resounding message– God was better, bigger, and mighty in suffering.

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Everything was in line and powerful…and then it was my turn.

Photogenic and polished at all times, as always.

I promise that I was speaking an encouraging word and NOT yelling or passing gas. Truly.

God was there and working. After conversing with so many women with powerful testimonies and great attitudes, meeting them felt like an encouraging homecoming. They gave me grace and heard the message through my mess.  (I will post the video link soon!)

Hearing the stories of how God has worked in these women and clearly seeing their resolve to endure in Christ through trial  gave me a glorious morning. We reminded each other that we aren’t running alone. When we spur each other on and help each other focus on Christ, the rest grows dim.

In the back of my mind I knew Jonathan was receiving chemotherapy, that William’s “witching hour” would be fierce after his 2am wake-up, and that traffic and a forgotten dinner plan awaited. Then God showed up. When God shows up…clutch your Crock-pot and brace for impact, Ladies.

Again, I’m in need of a press secretary. I can pay you in grilled cheese sandwiches and hugs. Until then, I’ll just keep trying to tell what Christ is doing in our lives and hope others can hear Christ through my mess.

 

Silent Battlefields… (Sorry for the silence)

They never heeded the warning. The sign at the entrance was clear, but only one ever decided to keep walking. I walked with several who later wished they had.

All of the life-like exhibits at the National Infantry Museum impress, but the glass- encased recreation of the Vietnam jungle was startling. It was my job to walk silently, backward and in heels, listening to the sound track. The sounds of rain, animals, and stillness was eerie. No one ever spoke, unless it was to whisper how real it felt. That silence would suddenly be shattered by the sound of gunfire, simulating an ambush.

Some veterans have shielded me, some have grabbed my arms, some have rushed out, and some have started crying sudden, anxious tears.  Soon we completed the winding 15 foot walk out of the glass doors, back to the sound track of a Huey overhead.

Those who speak loudly or exclaim how magnificent a place is can respect and admire its significance, but often they aren’t the ones who made it significant. Watch the quiet ones. When they speak, you will want to listen.

“I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden, I was just there again.”  We would walk in silence for a while. When you walk past your battlegrounds you have to fight twice- the past and present join like two sides of a coin.

That’s where I am this week. Three years ago, William’s body was in the worst shape of his life. We had that night where I was hurriedly escorted out of the room as my baby shrieked himself hoarse and everyone came running. His skin peeled from his face and bled. My Facebook statuses begged for prayers. Swollen, infected, suffering– my two year old didn’t get released from the hospital cancer-free until a month after it was expected. Every day was a matter of life and death. I knew it would be one of the most important times of my life. I never wanted to experience it again.

 

I’ve looked back for writing to I can remember the words that match the images I have burned in my mind. There are none. There is only quiet and a few paragraphs that simply say things like,

” The greatest lesson I am learning from this season of sacrifice and struggle is that when we feel most forsaken by God, he is actually the most present and loving. Great struggles yield great victories. The battle is in believing it, and it is something I am still wrestling with. When we are most broken, God gets the greatest glory. If you are struggling against God’s Will today, fear not– you are in good company along with me…and Jesus. Great faith starts with obedience “.

I strained to hear God’s voice, knowing he could hear the screaming of my spirit. There was so much to hear that there was little I could say.

Jonathan has chemo on Thursday. He will have a new cycle of drugs he hasn’t had before, and the hospital stay will be longer. We know what to expect but then there could be more difficulty that is new to us.

Jonathan turns 7 this month. I started thinking about how to celebrate a birthday restricted by cancer. Then I realized William turned two the week he began chemotherapy, only three short years ago. Even small things… so I gave up planning and ate chocolate cake. It’s what the people who love me recommend.

I’m walking the battlefield. I’m quietly counting the losses and the victories as I prepare for battle again. Distractions are plentiful (thank you, children) but my soul needs quiet. After all, as I fought the first time, the Spirit was surprisingly quiet. Jesus was just present.

Here is to the Spirit, quieting the soul…and chocolate cake.

 

The Timing of Cancer

I’d say I don’t have time to write, but that’s inherently untrue. We all have the same amount of time and I could use some of it to write. My father, the professional editor, would say to write precisely what I mean. In the interest of honoring the teaching of the man who just rocked my baby to sleep for me, I shall.

These past two weeks a myriad of extra demands and responsibilities filled our schedules and writing wasn’t a priority.

My favorite scene from Saved By The Bell was from the very dramatic episode where Jessie Spano gets addicted to caffeine pills. Pressured by a ‘lack of time’  to study for her Geometry test and perform for talent scouts, she claims she can’t sleep and accomplish it all. In dramatic meltdown, she wails,  “I have NO time!”

Jonathan’s home and health teacher will be here for 11 more minutes. Downstairs a workman is sawing and installing baseboards so that Jonathan can re-enter his “safe room” in the basement. I’ve just ironed shirts for my husband who was called out of town yesterday for a quick trip, and Elizabeth just woke up from her quick nap.

The house is filled with half-finished tasks that demand TIME, attention, effort…

These two weeks carry the weight of this year and so much more. We have fought Jonathan’s cancer for six months and we are only on the second treatment. Another year looms, but we can’t’ just wish it away. A year holds so much in those early years. By the time we are done with treatment, Elizabeth will be one. She represents the growing and learning we are all doing- much more gracefully than the ever-increasing lines on my face and white in my hair.

The week of March 21, 2015 was a hard one. Only three years ago, William was nearly done with his treatment for leukemia. We celebrated World Down Syndrome Day… and then I went home with a raging fever. Someone in the hospital had a deadly virus called “c diff” and it was carried to William. Without an immune system, it raged in his body. We stopped using sheets. He swelled from morphine and steroids. His skin on his cheeks peeled away and bled.

A month from the finish line, I was afraid I would bring him home in a casket instead of in my arms. 

That month of recovery seemed longer than any of the previous five. Time is tricky that way.

We lost our predictable routine and our structure.

Structure is essential for our sons with disability and the consequences of disruption are evident. We have really struggled this week, so we are bringing back many of our visual aids and tools to help the boys. We press on.

It is tempting to give way to the chaos. It’s tempting to be frustrated and pitch a fit. Instead, I iron.  I watch steam rise and hear the gentle hiss from my iron as one by one, the wrinkles are ironed away from my man’s shirt. I iron and I pray. God is outside of time. He is not stressed. He is not rushing. God provides the structure as everything else gives way. I can trust Him, because he has always been trustworthy before. He is the anchor in the chaos.

Iron. Pray. Press on. Iron it out. Keep going.

So now school ends and two children are hungry. Laundry’s cheerful calls me calls me. The saw whirls and my father hands me a baby and heads to the stove. My William survived and is thriving at school. Jonathan’s visual schedule is in front of him as he sips chocolate milk and waits for a grilled cheese sandwich. The baby coos more impatiently– and so I pray for God’s presence in each moment. He’s here with me in the mundane, which is Kingdom Work. Painful forging into the image of Christ is hard work and takes all the time we have.

Now, to my children. It’s time.