Invincible Summers

Summer is coming.

The colicky newborn days and nights have turned to giggling and peek-a-boo.

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My fears for Finn at school–though still very present–have subsided, and I love to watch his classmates hug (and kiss) him at pick up. Yesterday a new family was touring the school. We walked out together and two little boys watched as Finn raced down the ramp to our van. They were obviously staring at him, so their sharp mom kindly ushered them over to us to introduce themselves. [Side note: introduce yourself and your kids to people who are different. It’s a teaching moment for your kids and a display of respect for the person.] “I’m Ethan and this is my little brother, Will.” “I’m Finn Joseph Armstrong.” Finn spun a few donuts for them and finished it off with a wheelie. Will exclaimed, “I want one of those!” While strapping Finn into his car seat, he asked, “They love me, Momma?” Yes baby, you’re so cool.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” -Albert Camus

I first came across Camus’ writings in one of my college Literature classes. This particular quote spoke to those cavernous places in my soul and has influenced my life ever since. At the time, I was drowning in an unhealthy relationship. I quite literally lost myself. I had forgotten the confidence and bravado of my childhood, I temporarily neglected my parents’ nurturing and biblical upbringing, I denied the redemption I had found in Christ as a child and then again as a young adult.

Freshman TWIRP date. See Joey in the back row?! He was NOT my date. ;)

Freshman TWIRP group date. See Joey in the back row?! He was NOT my date. I actually can’t remember who was.

It was winter in my heart. My dreams were icicles, hanging above me, threatening to fall. I was bitter and angry, struggling with the sting of rejection and emotional abuse. If you want to destroy me, speak ill of me or deny me verbal affirmation. I will crumble. I pretended to be strong but I was brittle inside. Despite the changing seasons, this winter of mine lasted about two and 1/2 years. I finally went through Beth Moore’s Breaking Free bible study and spent a lot of time memorizing and praying Scripture. I went to counseling and learned how to distinguish truth from a lie. Most pleasant afternoons, you’d find me lying on my back in a field behind the dorms, singing or crying out to my Redeemer. He thawed me. He reminded me of my worth, showed me others who were hurting much more than I was, and re-established who He created me to be. A daughter of the King.

These girls were my laughter.

These girls were my laughter.

We’ve all endured (or are enduring) those seemingly endless winters; the ones that leave a little frostbite on our hearts. Finn’s diagnosis and disability is oftentimes heart-breaking. One of my friends has lost both her mother and mother-in-law to tragedy. A client lost her brother, her niece and now her daddy–all too soon. I ran into a sweet momma at Target today, and though we had never met before, she reads my blog and recognized Finn. She said she was directed here by a friend-of-a-friend because she gave birth to a stillborn little boy at 40 weeks. Then several months later became pregnant with a precious daughter who has Down syndrome. One of my best and most faithful friends endured divorce when she was counting on forever. Many of you have suffered multiple miscarriages. You’ve felt the sting of abuse or neglect.

These pains can freeze us up; cause us to lock ourselves away from the world, curl up with a blanket over our heads and let the blizzard rage. And that’s okay for a while, but at some point, summer will come. It’s relentless. In your life, allow buds to grow, flowers to bloom, and eventually pluck those petals to share them with others who are still in the shadows.

...my blogging spot. Carrots and hummus. Overripe peach. Birds. Breeze. Summer.

My blogging spot. Carrots and hummus. Overripe peach. Birds. Breeze. Baby monitor.

If you’re shivering in winter, there’s hope. Summer is coming. I hear it right outside my window.

Things That Aren’t

Finn’s so smart. I know, I know…your kid is smart too. But Finn is really smart. ๐Ÿ˜‰ His brain is most impressive because we were told in the NICU that he may not ever be able to communicate with us. He would be severely mentally handicapped.

Not this kid! He’s truly a miracle. We can read a library book to him once or twice and he will recite it the third time. His mind is a steel trap. He reminds you that two days ago you said he could go to church and that he could have chocolate milk at Starbucks. He knows all 43 of his trains by name.

With Daddy at Easter!

With Daddy at Easter!

But he’s also emotionally intelligent. If my brow is furrowed while I’m strapping him into his carseat, he’ll ask, “Why are you frustrated, Momma?”

Landscaping problems...

Landscaping problems…

We recently read a library book called “Some Kids Use Wheelchairs.” I was hesitant to read Finn this book, worried that a conversation about his disability might ensue. I’m not sure I’m ready for that discussion emotionally. Anyhow, the first few pages discuss why some kids are in wheelchairs.

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Some kids use wheelchairs because their legs are weak or they had an accident. They can’t walk.

I sheepishly asked Finn if he could walk. “Yes I can.” Oh? Can you stand up? “Yes.” So why do you use a wheelchair? No response. He turned the page…

We read this book many more times before returning it to the Book Drop. Each time, Finn was adamant: he can walk.

Whether this is a display of faith or ignorance really doesn’t matter. I count it a blessing that Finn is confident and relatively unaware that he’s not like everyone else. I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought we were the weird ones…walking around on two feet and whatnot.

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“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

In Finn’s mind, he is able to do anything. I believe this is a result of prayer, God’s lavish grace, and decent parenting. God gives life to things that aren’t alive. He redeems the broken. Makes the sick well. He bestows honor and power and courage on a child in a wheelchair. I’m so thankful to be Finn’s momma. I can’t hardly wait to see all God continues to do in his little, important life.

Cilantro

I stood in front of the sink and huffed, rinsing cilantro. I hate how the green leaves stick to my fingers. It’s a mess to chop, much less sprinkle into a soup or fresh guacamole. Plucking the tiny leaves off the stem one by one is the definition of tedium. I have better things to do with my time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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While chopping cilantro for my brothy chicken tortilla soup, I realized something:

Cilantro will never change.

If I want to continue cooking with it–and I do; I love cilantro–then I’ll have to de-stem it, rinse it, peel it from my fingers and chop it. For the rest of my life.

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Nothing will ever change about cilantro. I either have to give it up, or get over it. This simple truth applies to so many of life’s frustrations, tediums and obstacles.

Brothy Chicken Tortilla Soup

(This is a light, healthy and restaurant-quality soup recipe from my girl, Laura. One of our favs!)

Ingredients: 1 T olive oil, 1 c. chopped onions, 2 tsp chopped garlic, 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped OR 1 green bell pepper, chopped plus 1 jalapeno, chopped, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 T. tomato paste, 6 c. chicken stock, 1 lb. chicken breast, juice of 1-2 limes, 1 avocado, 1/4 c. chopped cilantro

Directions: Heat oil in large stock pot and add onions, garlic, peppers and seasonings. Cook until onions are clear. Then add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add chicken breast(s) until fully cooked. Remove chicken breast(s) and shred. Return shredded chicken to pot. Simmer 20 minutes. Add lime juice and cilantro, stir. Serve with tortilla chips and avocado. Optional: sour cream and cheese.

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