Being Brave

One of my most frequent prayers for Finn is that he would be brave.

Sometimes I forget this prayer for myself. I’m kind of a weenie, to be honest.

When it comes to Finn’s disability, birthday parties and playgrounds terrify me. I get ultra protective and conscious of how people (mostly kids) respond to him and his differences. I wait for the whispers and comments and questions, hoping I’ll know what to say to a curious toddler or parent.

This weekend (and last), I decided to try be brave.

We let Finn have his wheelchair at our sweet friend, Navy’s second birthday party. He loved playing “b-ball” in their house, even on the carpet. Joey fielded a few questions with ease and Finn was remarkably hyper after a yummy piece of birthday cake. Holy sugar high! It’s amazing how much more confident Finn is in his chair. He has independence and freedom–two things every toddler wants.

We heard a rumor that a wheelchair accessible playground was being built in Norman. So after breakfast at Syrup (of course) on Friday, we drove around trying to find it. We tried four playgrounds. No such luck. All were sand or mulch-bottomed, not kind to wheels.

On Friday afternoon we Skyped with a class at Baylor. Our friend, Kelli, teaches a course for Recreation majors called Leisure Diversity and asked us to help answer some questions concerning disabilities. We discussed Spina Bifida, legal issues for disabled individuals, Finn’s physical therapy and any challenges or opportunities we believe he may face in the future, especially regarding recreation. Of course Finn had to perform a few donuts on the kitchen tile for the class’s enjoyment.

Saturday, we met Finn’s friend, Ryder, and his parents at a wheelchair accessible playground located at Lake Hefner in OKC.

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Though Finn and Ryder were the only two in chairs, they had a blast riding around on the ramps, going down slides and zooming across the rubber (God bless it) flooring.

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Ryder is four and also has Spina Bifida. I admire his parents so much. They are two years ahead of us on this road and so proactive, so involved and so un-phased by the stares and the comments directed at Ryder or Finn. The boys were quite the spectacle…and it helped my heart that Finn wasn’t the ONLY one on wheels.

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We’ve never seen another kid in a wheelchair in Norman. Certainly not one like Finn. It feels very lonely.

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I parked in front of church this morning…in a spot that’s not technically a spot. Don’t judge. We haven’t received our handicapped tag yet, Finn can’t wheel too far on his own, and I’m getting too pregnant to carry Finn’s wheelchair up the ten steps to the nursery. After coaxing him to wheel up the breezeway, onto the elevator and down a couple hallways, we finally made it to his class. The children’s wing of our church is difficult to get to for anyone, much less a child on wheels. Immediately following the service, Finn pushed himself into a room full of about 200 church members for a fellowship lunch. He loved the attention. I was a ball of nerves until Joey picked him up and put him in a high chair.

I have to remember that my attitude toward Finn’s disability will become his. I’ll get better. Braver. Less self-conscious for him. I just need some time–some more experience under my new momma belt. Thanks for your patience, friends.

 

 

 

 

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Paisley Dawn

Joey and I didn’t decide on a name for Finn until the week before he was born. We found it much more difficult than we thought to name a child.

Here’s our criteria for human naming:

1) We like it.

2) Uncommon

3) Has some meaning–nothing monumental, but some significance to speak of

4) Easy to spell–spelled like it sounds

5) Easy to pronounce–for the ordinary American citizen with a 5th grade reading level

6) Sounds good with the family middle names we’ve chosen (Joseph and Dawn)

I have so many friends who are pregnant right now. Many are due within a month of me and several are having girls. So fun! But I must admit, it made me panic a little…what if they choose a name off our short list before we do?! Catastrophe! (sarcasm here)

But seriously, I thought it might be fun to monogram girly things, prepare baby girl’s room with a name in mind, and to pray for her by specifically by name.

So, Paisley Dawn it is!

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“Paisley” is a Scottish word meaning “church.” We loved the spiritual significance here. Christ calls the Church his Bride. Capital “C”…like his people, not the building or denomination. His Beloved. The one he pursues with reckless abandon, rescues and redeems. Beautiful.

It’s feminine. I like that.

And “Dawn” is my mom’s sister’s name and my middle name. I love it. In the dawn I find grace for a new day; light nudging through darkness.

Oh, and we liked the way “Finn and Paisley” sounded together.

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So there. We named another human.

Now we have to raise her…

Fasting and Filling

Fasting has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because it’s Lent, but also because I’m reading Seven, by Jen Hatmaker (I’ll give my thoughts on the book once I finish). I know I’m late to the party reading this book, but I’ve told you before: I’m never the first on the band wagon. I try wait until it’s not “cool” anymore. Pretty sure this makes me “uncool.”

Reading on my parents' porch last week

Reading on my parents’ porch last week

Anyhow…fasting. I’m searching Scripture, purging my closets, and decluttering my thoughts of social media. But if you remove something, there is inherently a void, and usually our human nature will fill it with something. Addicts turn from one drug to another. Adulterers cheat on one spouse then the next. Smokers stuff their mouths instead with food. My clients switch from soda to sweet tea. I give up the cookie for a handful of dark chocolate chips.

There have been times I’ve fasted (from food or noise or whatever) for the purpose of focused prayer. I believe this is a beneficial and important endeavor. Especially at Lent, we can refocus our thoughts on Christ and His sacrifice in the days leading to Easter. But as I read Isaiah 58, maybe there were times in the past that I was really fasting just to get my way. I felt as these people did:

They grumbled to God: “Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” (v. 3)

I gave up my lunch, God, so why are Finn’s legs still paralyzed? I prayed in my closet–on my knees, mind you–and our finances didn’t change. Why? The King responds:

“You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high” (v. 4).

Okay, so how then? Why fast? And how am I changed by it?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke; to set the oppressed free and break every chain? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (v. 6-7).

“True” fasting seems less about giving up food or resources and more about giving up ourselves. I don’t know about you, but it’s much more difficult for me to bring a meal to a stinky person, make eye-contact and show them they are valued than it is for me to simply skip dinner. Or remove the Facebook app from my phone.

It’s an active fasting. A fasting from self. Ugh…harder.

So I removed two pairs of running shoes from my closet this weekend. Nikes and Reeboks. Not cheapies; okay. I planned to sell them in a garage sale, knowing I could get about $5-$10/pair. That’s good babysitting money, people.

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But then I read about Jen–prompted by none other than Shane Claiborne–who left her prized cowboy boots (and socks) at the altar for the homeless. Expensive city-girl cowboy boots are impractical for a homeless person; yes. But that’s not the point. The point was obedience and a looser grip on our possessions. So instead I plan to give these shoes to someone in our church. Or maybe on the street. Someone with a foot around a size 7 who needs something comfy to walk in; whose feet have felt better days. It doesn’t matter if I purge. The purpose is purging so that I may bless.

The obedience of fasting comes not when I give something up, but when I replace it by doing or giving something good. When I empty myself and fill someone else. There’s even benefit for me in this kind of fasting. Read (don’t skim) this beautiful truth:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say, ‘Here am I’…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (v. 8-10).

Feeling broken? Pray for someone else’s hurting heart. Guilty? You’re righteous when you’re selfless. Hungry? Feed another mouth. Depressing and dark days caving in on you? Let the light of Scripture encourage a friend. Fast, but fill another.

 

Outdoor Fix

I’d been looking forward to camping in Arkansas with the college ministry over Spring Break for months. I love getting to know those smart, creative students, and I love being outside. I crave it. I haven’t been really camping since before Finn was born.

As a result, I’ve felt as though something’s been missing for about the past three years of my life. I’m pretty sure it’s fresh, woodsy air. The chorus of crickets at dusk. That awed, small feeling I get when I feel the magnitude of God’s mighty creation–especially in the mountains. Being outdoors feeds my soul and has since I was a kid. (See post: Cooped Up)

So when the forecast for Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, where we were to be camping in AR, was 3-5 inches of snow the day before our trip, I was bummed. I knew it wouldn’t be wise to take Finn out camping in frigid weather. Joey and the college students continued driving east of Siloam Springs, while Finn and I headed north to my parents’ house in Bella Vista.

I had about a forty-five minute pity party in the car. The Lord gently reminded me of my selfishness and the reality that sleeping under a roof instead of nylon is not that much of a sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. There are just some things you give up when you have kids. We’ll camp again. I’ll camp again. Just not this week.

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While Finn took a nap, I lay on their couch, savoring rest for my aching back.

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When he woke up, we spent a good hour noticing small little things outside the floor-to-ceiling windows like the red-headed woodpecker on the swaying tree. Two playful grey squirrels. Buds on the trees in the ravine. A fox den.

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We sang several rounds of Old McDonald until we ran out of farm animals Finn was familiar with.

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When mom got home from work, I went down to the boat dock to pray a little and watch the bugs skim the top of the water. The sun was setting and I closed my eyes to try soak it all in.

The students and Joey joined us at my parents’ house the following evening, and the next day we all went to Crystal Bridges American Art Museum. It’s a fantastic place.

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Joey had this brilliant idea that we’ll take about 30 minutes to go through the museum on our own and choose a piece we connect with; maybe one that inspires our faith. Then we’ll all walk through together and point out the painting or sculpture we chose and tell why.

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love this man

I chose The Good Shepherd by Thomas Cole.

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I love the depiction (based on the Biblical parable) of the shepherd who left his compliant herd of sheep to find the one lost lamb and bring him back. With a loose rope tied around his neck, the boy leads him gently to safety and obedience. Jesus does that for us. He is our Shepherd, seeking us out when we’re lost or confused and speaking kindly to us, “leading us beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23).

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I didn’t expect to find my outdoor fix lying on my parents’ loft couch or in an art museum in Bentonville. I was hoping for a hike in Durango or rocking climbing in Horseshoe Canyon.

You just have to take rest where you can find it. Refreshment wherever it is given…and soak it up.

What Do You Do…

…when you get an unexpected child-free day?!

Today felt like a free day off. Of course it wasn’t free because we had already paid for the month of daycare anyway, but after physical therapy at JD McCarty, we dropped Finn off at GoKids.

Finn loves "Cardy!" Beth is such a fantastic physical therapist. Standing is hard work!

Finn loves “Cardy!” Beth is such a fantastic physical therapist. Standing is hard work!

He normally doesn’t attend daycare on Fridays, but since we were in Arkansas for Spring Break all week (more on that in a later post), they were able to squeeze him onto the roster today.

Then J and I went out for breakfast, of course. Syrup is our usual, and breakfast/brunch out is our favorite.

My family would go out for breakfast just about every Saturday growing up; and usually it was to a new place my dad had researched or my mom had a coupon for.

Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day anyway, so Joey and I don’t mind stuffing our faces with blueberry pancakes, eggs and crispy bacon. Mugs of piping hot Stumptown coffee make my whole body smile with warmth.

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Went to Copelin’s Kidoodles for a couple birthday gifts…and saw our book for sale! Shameless plug: They have plenty of hardback copies available and proceeds still go toward Finn’s medical bills. Baby showers and birthday parties coming up?

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Then I folded this monster pile of laundry. Pairing the socks is the worst. I huff the whole time.

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While Joey watched some March Madness, I took my first and hairiest child, Jersey, on a long walk.

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I mean, long. 70 minutes worth of uncomfortable steps for this preggo. I’m getting large, and my bones and joints are protesting.

Ate a bunch of white grapes (my favorite snack these days) and two slices of organic wheat bread with homemade apple butter. Recipe here. P.S. I puree mine in the food processor to make it smooth.

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The bread and the apples we got from Bountiful Baskets, a produce co-op we joined about a month ago. We are LOVING it! Vegetables and fruits star in our weekly menu and I can’t wait to discover what we’ll get tomorrow. Eee!

Got my hair trimmed by the lovely Dawna. My split ends were distracting me while driving. Not safe.

Picked Finn up from daycare! He was full of sand…we nearly stripped him down in the parking lot.

I’ve been craving the Über Earth Burger at The Earth Cafe. Oh my. This thing is vegan but a million times better than its carnivorous brother.

Joey always runs into a hipster he knows on campus...

Joey always runs into a hipster he knows on campus…

This is how Finn responds lately if he’s not given chicken nuggets for dinner.

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It’s ridiculous. I’ll admit I thought it’d be so easy to get your kid to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Not so. This kid is stubborn and I get weary. We’re working hard to add more and more variety and veggies to each meal–whether he eats them or not.

Bath time.

Baby’s in bed. He fell asleep on my shoulder while drinking his milk. MELTS ME. I’m so in love with him.

Thankful for an uneventful but carefree day…minus Finn’s snot in my hair and Party Like a Preschooler on the car stereo.

CyberLife

I’ve been thinking about the idea of “image crafting,” or creating and manipulating our image to the world via social media. I was intrigued by an article called The Dangers of Image Crafting I found on Facebook and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I usually give up desserts for the Lenten season, but this year I’ve disconnected from Facebook. It’s a removal of something I can easily worship to focus on Jesus, the One I worship.

So here’s the premise: we “carefully and deliberately construct our social media content” to control how others view our lives. We delete unflattering pictures of ourselves (I totally do this!) and highlight the ones we look best in. We post stats from a long run, Instagram pics of a healthy recipe,

I'm guilty of the healthy recipe posts. Confession: I don't eat kale and quinoa every night.

I’m guilty of the healthy recipe posts. Confession: I don’t eat kale and quinoa every night.

…boast about our kids’ triumphs, flaunt the flowers our husband bought us “for no reason,” and lament a tough workout. #blessed #ilovemylife #fitmom #transformationtuesday

We wish our lives were actually as perfect as we make them seem, and become discontent as we compare ours to the perfect versions of our friends. Comparison robs our joy.

I’m guilty of some of these social media blunders myself. That’s why I’m taking a break for a while. Without knowing it, I get caught up in how many of you viewed or “liked” my posts and I am easily frustrated by my friends’ posts/pictures I either dislike, am jealous of, or disagree with. I watch some of their lives play out before me on Instagram and wonder how they can keep up with such perfection?! How does every meal look like it came out of a magazine? Why is everyone else’s husband buying them random gifts? How many square feet is her house?!

I’m not sure we were meant to interact with society via cyberspace.

It’s a fantastic thing, the Internet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m able to reconnect with old friends and keep in touch with distant family. I’m able to maintain this blog and Finn’s smile encourages some of you. But at some point I think we lose a genuine-ness that I highly value in friendships. If I haven’t spoken to you (with my mouth) in decades, or we don’t even speak when we see each other in person, how are we considered “friends?”

I can put a filter on any picture that will hide my wrinkles,

Selfie with Laura. Tried to filter out my tired, pregnant eyes.

Selfie with Laura. Tried to filter out my tired, pregnant eyes.

whiten my teeth, make me look tan, or crop out the mess that is my kitchen. I can pop my elbow outward to make me appear thinner

Double whammy: elbow pop AND workout boast.

Double whammy: elbow pop AND workout boast.

or post a cute “selfie” in which I put myself down, but secretly I’m searching for; begging for your approval.

This is so wrong.

I crave this kind of validation, but it is not satisfying to my soul. I don’t need it. In girls’ Bible studies I’ve taught in the past, I always touch on the fact that if we are believers, we have all we need through Christ. We are a full cup. This eliminates our demand to approach the world thirsty–parched for compliments, approval, inclusion, validation, acceptance. If these things are granted, they become a blessing; overflowing our cup. Not what we needed to make it through the day.

I’ll just be honest and let you know I don’t have it all figured out. Read the post prior to this one on Failing. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to parenting. I’m a rude and selfish wife sometimes. An inconsiderate friend. I made my mom cry at Christmas. I ruin many a meal with too much salt. I lost my temper wiping Jersey’s muddy paws last week. I eat pizza too often. I speed to work. I’m not happy with my body these days. The list continues.

So relax. Take a deep breath with me. Maybe take a break from social media for a while, or at least determine its purpose in your life. It shouldn’t be your source of affirmation. Or mine.