Sustainability

You want to get fit; and you mean it this time, so you clear all the junk out of your pantry and get a sitter so you can meal prep for six hours on a Sunday. You hire a trainer and commit to 5x/week. You eat chicken breast basted in filtered water, quinoa and steamed broccoli for dinner  e v e r y    n i g h t   for a week and a half.

Your results don’t come fast enough, so you…

quit.

It took you three, ten, thirty years to get out of shape, but you want to transform in two weeks.

If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone. So can most of my clients. Here’s what I teach them: sustainability.

A common characteristic of my clients who struggle the most is that they are “all or nothing” types. Extremists. They work out 7x/week, eat kale and ice chips…or they binge all night long and don’t step foot in the gym for months. I’m guessing they behave this way in other aspects of life too–relationally, financially, spiritually.

Perfection, though alluring, is not sustainable. It is much healthier to be “really good” in the long term than to be “perfect” in the short term. This means you’ve got to find balance and pray for self-discipline. Small, seemingly insignificant good choices yield massive results when compounded over time (The Slight Edge). Time is the main ingredient; the secret sauce. There are no short cuts for lasting health. effort-consistency-time

My Secrets for Sustainable Healthy Living:

  • Find recipes you look forward to–that you salivate over–so you’re not tempted to go out every night, “cheat,” or order pizza. No one can eat bland chicken, rice and steamed broccoli every night and enjoy their life. This means you should try new foods you’re not familiar with. You just might LOVE THEM if prepared properly. Eat REAL FOOD! Not chemicals, processed crap and genetically modified junk.
    • (If you need help here, click on my Online Training tab and order some recipes from me. If you have my cell phone number and we’re friends, text me and I’ll send you a few of our favorites.)DSC_0010-2-850x563
  • Hire a professional. A good nutritionist or personal trainer just may be the best investment you’ll ever make.
  • Get your spouse (or a close friend or family member) involved.
    • Look them in the eye and tell them you’re ready for change and you can’t do it without their help. Go to the doctor together and hear it from a physician. Remind them you’re a team. You’re better together. Set goals. Make it a family competition if that motivates you. IMG_7143
  • It’s easier to maintain a healthy habit than to start and stop.
    • Think about the dishes. What if you left dirty dishes balancing in the sink and spilling up onto the countertops all week long…then spent several hours washing and drying them all on Sundays. Your kitchen would stink, you’d have fruit flies (sick out!); you couldn’t invite anyone over for embarrassment. Wouldn’t you just dread Sundays?! The same is true of exercise and proper nutrition. tumblr_inline_n5baj7ZV1H1qbj2nm
  • Schedule your exercise, preferably before, during, or after work. Don’t go home first…you won’t want to come back to the gym. Put it in your calendar and set alerts.
    • Attend a group fitness class.
    • Train with a personal trainer at the same times weekly. I’d love to have you in one of my small groups at Sky! I’m currently booked for private training.
    • Set an appointment with yourself to workout at home. Put all distractions away; give yourself 15-30 minutes while the kids nap or once they’ve gone to sleep. 82a47d4ed769fc2f12770c83b6313016
  • Develop a “why,” a reason to invest in your health–one that gets you out of bed in the morning. If you’re a mom or dad, you’ve found your reason.img_3803
  • Find some products you LOVE. This will give you a few “go-to’s” when you’re tempted to choose something unhealthy or when you’re not prepared.
    • Here are a few of my favorites (we’re never without them):
      • Arbonne’s vegan protein powder (daily breakfast shakes, homemade protein bars)chocvan
      • Green apples (lowest glycemic index) with MaraNatha almond butter
      • Quinn Rosemary and Parmesan natural popcorn
      • KiZe Cocoa protein bars for me, Clif bars for Joeycoco_3cbb6e14793f226eea7d2220a2e68abe
      • Arbonne’s energy fizz sticks (My fav are pomegranate. Joey’s are the citrus.)
      • La Croix (Cerise Limon flavor) sparkling water
      • Terra sweet potato chips
      • Whole Foods hummus
      • Onyx or Brandywine coffeeSugar_Skull_Bag_Pic_3-20-17_800x
      • Arbonne’s herbal detox tea with organic, local honey
      • Target’s Archer Farms raw almond 100 calorie packets

My hope and prayer is that the healthy habits you develop and the wholesome foods you enjoy become the way you live; your lifestyle. They are not for a bikini or a wedding or a competition, but for every day. There is no finish line.

Jesus warns us, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Don’t allow unhealthy habits or inconsistency to rob you of life–life to the fullest.

How to Treat Kids Who Are Different: Part I

This blog post is in honor of Finn, on his 5th BIRTHDAY! I cannot believe it.

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You may be one of those people who want to be different. March to the beat of your own drum kind-of-person. Most of us, however, just want to fit in. I was the “new girl” every two years of my life, as my family moved around the country for my dad’s job. All I wanted was to blend in as quickly and seamlessly as possible, make friends, and become “popular.” Finding a cute boyfriend was a plus.

My son, Finn, however, cannot just “blend in.” Nor, do I believe, he wants to. He sits happily between two wheels, zooming through the lobby at church, holding back the urge to pop a wheelie in line at school, and eager to help me “treasure hunt” for groceries at Whole Foods.

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Finn’s 5th birthday party: bowling and pizza with 19 buddies from school and the cousins!

He is obviously different from the average five year old…and he seems okay with that.

When Finn was born, OU Children’s Hospital hooked us up with another family for emotional support. This child was several years older than Finn and also had Spina Bifida. I got up the courage one morning to call his mom, Debbie. I asked her what her son was currently struggling with. “Well, he’s really ornery and lately he’s been in trouble for annoying his big sister.” Her answer took me off guard! It was a relief, honestly. I expected something medical and tragic in nature, but her wisdom assured me that Finn will likely be like any other boy–mischievous and annoying, just on wheels. 🙂

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Spina Bifida will be a part of his life. It will not define his life.

Your differences will be a part of your life. But don’t let them define your life.

When you are unique or have a child who is unique in some outwardly obvious way, it is common to get stares, double-takes, sweet and curious questions, rude statements, unsolicited advice, and oftentimes unwanted attention.

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I hated this for the first two years of Finn’s life. I avoided birthday parties, crowded doctor’s offices, playgrounds…anywhere some child or parent might ask or say something I didn’t know how to answer. Now, though, I love to share Finn with the world; it just took some maturing, prayer, and preparation on my part.

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Cousin Ev, Tucker and Sully came all the way from Missouri to celebrate!

Today a sweet college friend messaged me and told me she took the initiative to tell her son all about Finn recently. She showed him videos of him wheeling up ramps and being silly. They laughed together and had a good conversation about being different. Her kindness and intentional parenting prompted me to finally write this post I’ve thought about for years. Her words: “My prayer is that God will continue working in his already sensitive heart…and that he will have eyes to see and a desire to befriend kids who are different than him.” Thank you, Claire.

I’ve had several friends ask great questions in confidence, “How do you like Finn to be treated?” “What should we say when our kids ask questions?” “Do you like to be approached or would you rather be left alone?”

These are all valid questions, and ones I will answer with the help of a few other moms of uniquely awesome children. That info will be in PART II of this blog post and I hope to post that late Wednesday night or Thursday.

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My mom and Finn share a birthday (today!). We celebrated my mom’s 60th in Dallas this weekend! She’s the cute one holding Paisley on the right. Check out Finn at the head of the table. 😉

I’ll leave you with this tonight. One of the best quotes I’ve heard on this topic is:

“If you want to know how to treat a child with special needs, watch their sibling. They will show you.” (simplyrealmoms)

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Hotel giggles and shenanigans…TOOK THREE STINKIN’ HOURS to fall asleep!

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SO GRATEFUL for their friendship. Thank you, Jesus.

Come back Wednesday night (or Thursday if I don’t get to it) for some more insight (and other opinions) on this topic!

Present Over Perfect

Shauna Niequist is my favorite Christian author for her raw vulnerability, her transparency, expert story-telling skills and her love for good food. I cook recipes from her book, Bread and Wine, weekly.

I knew her most recent book, Present Over Perfect, would rock my busy little world, so I put off reading it for several months. It would slow me down, settle my heart and convict my soul, and I wasn’t ready to be reigned in. The title speaks for itself–stop trying to be and just be.

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All my life I’ve been an achiever, a doer. I value efficiency, honesty and follow-through. In job interviews, I take pride in the fact that I’m responsible–I do what I say I’m going to do–and I’m efficient–I can do more work in less time than most people. I am goal-driven and feel incomplete until my goals are met. Even then I feel like I could have probably done more, been better.

These things, of course, matter very little in the Kingdom of God. At the end of my life, Jesus is not going to ask me about my work ethic. He’ll ask me how I treated people. He’ll lift my chin with His calloused hand and ask, “Ashley Dawn, were you kind? Did you obey me? Did you love the least of these? Did you give generously? Were you loving and slow to anger with your family behind closed doors? Did you share My love with my children who were hurting?”

Although the pace of my life hasn’t changed since I read this book over Christmas break, my mindset has. I’m consciously asking my mind to rest, to be fully present with the people I love, and to give myself grace.

Some of Shauna’s truths from this book that…changed me, quite frankly:

“I believed it was better to measure my life by metrics out there, instead of values deeply held in my own soul and spirit.”

Production values. Promotions. Credentials. Grade point average. Body fat percentage.

“The very thing that makes you you, that makes you great…is also the very thing that, unchecked, will ruin you.”

For me this is efficiency, commitment and drive.

Women often do what Niequist calls, “fake-resting. I’m wearing pajamas…It looks like I’m resting, too. But I’m not. I’m ticking down an endless list, sometimes written, always mental, getting things back into their right spots, changing laundry, wiping down countertops. Some might say this is being a mother, a homemaker, or this is what women have been doing for generations.”

For me, this behavior is handed down from a long line of strong, independent, capable, and restless women. My grandma Mary, at 80-something, has a hard time sitting still. My mom never does. If I am, my mind is somewhere else…I’m distracted by everything left undone.

Saturday morning, though, I was so proud of myself: Paisley snuggled up to me on the couch in her jammies and I held her tight, smelling the sweetness of her neck. I couldn’t put my feet on the coffee table because it was stacked high with laundry.  Dirty dishes lined the countertop, and my laptop was open with a business production number that was far from my lofty goal for February. I held my cold mug of coffee in one hand, and my tiny baby girl in the other. I closed my eyes and soaked up the long minutes she let me snuggle, truly resting.

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Paisley Dawn loves to do dishes!

“Busyness is an illness of the spirit.” -Eugene Peterson

“Loving one’s work is a gift. And loving one’s work makes it really easy to neglect other parts of life…Being good at something feels great. Playing ninja turtles with two little boys for hours is sometimes less great.”

I love my job. I get to coach people (mostly women) toward their best self through fitness and healthy living. I’m good at it.

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I oftentimes feel less good, however, at being a mom–and sometimes a wife. I can get more easily frustrated with my kids than my clients. I have better customer service with strangers (WHO COULD CARE LESS ABOUT ME) than I do with Joey, the love of my life. Ugh. Holy conviction.

“This is what I know for sure: along the way you will disappoint someone. You will not meet someone’s needs or expectations…These are basically sharp blades into the hearts of people like me, who depend very heavily on meeting people’s expectations.”

Disappointing people terrifies me. My greatest fears are to let someone down and to be misunderstood. I’ve lost sleep this past year over feeling misunderstood by people I cared about and for feeling like I’ve let people down.

“But here’s the good news: you get to decide who you’re going to disappoint, who you’re going to say no to…What you need along the way: a sense of God’s deep, unconditional love and strong sense of your own purpose…Aim to disappoint the people at the center of your circle [family] as rarely as possible.”

Ah, my purpose. I know my purpose, my “chazown”: helping people live life to the fullest through healthy living. Inspiring people to reach their God-given potential.

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Our relationships are like concentric circles, with those closest to us at the very center. Then our most trusted friends and extended family. Then more friends. Acquaintances and co-workers. Strangers. I chose “servant” as my word for 2017 because I want to be a servant FIRST to those people God has entrusted to me at the center of my circle: Joey. Finn. Paisley. If I can’t be really really good to them, nothing else matters.

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Here’s where I’ll leave you (and I’m only on page 55 of 234 of incredible wisdom, but I’m going to play Nertz with Joey):

“We disappoint people because we are limited. We have to accept the idea of our own limitations in order to accept the idea that we’ll disappoint people. I only have this much time. This much energy. This much relational capacity.”

I don’t like to feel limited. Do you? I like to feel powerful and unbridled. But it’s so incredibly freeing to me to accept the fact that I can’t do it all.

I need Joey’s help around the house. I can’t remember everyone’s birthday. I’ll forget some clients’ squat weight. I can’t remember to pray for everyone I want to pray for. I need my mom’s tenderness. I need my dad’s wisdom. I need grace from my kids. I need a committed team to help me reach my goals in Arbonne. I need my training clients to show up to get paid. I need my long-distance girl-friends to check up on me. I need people, and I deeply need God.

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I will disappoint people. I may have disappointed you. And that’s okay, because I am imperfect; an intrinsically flawed, yet redeemed daughter of God, doing my very best. And it’s enough. It’s not perfect, but it’s enough.

Fitness Tips from a Trainer: 2017

Gosh, I’ve grown a lot as a trainer and a leader this year. Here’s why:

  • I’m connected weekly to a mentor, a friend I respect and trust. She asks hard questions, encourages me, and leads by example.
  • I’ve developed measurable goals, and I’ve written them down. (We’ll come back to that.)
  • I’m reading again…voraciously. Books on entrepreneurship, the pursuit of Christ, parenting, rest, personal development, habit-formation, leadership skills, and nutrition.

Maybe you’re struggling with your weight (again), or monotony or motivation, or maybe you’re just tired of feeling terrible. Hopefully some of these tips can give you the swift kick in the glutes you need to make 2017 the start of your BEST YOU. Just because you didn’t achieve last year’s goals doesn’t mean you can’t achieve them this year. 😉

1. Develop Measurable Goals.

-What do you want? Really? Now write that down. Like on paper…don’t type it. Use your hand and a pen and paper and write it down, then stick the paper somewhere visible. Writing them down makes them more real; established.

“It’s only a dream until you write it down, then it becomes a goal.” Thanks, Emmitt Smith!

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2. If you are clinically obese, overweight, have Type II Diabetes, COPD, high cholesterol, hypertension, or heart disease, did you know these are preventable diseases?

-To reverse the process of disease, you must change your habits…habits that are just as easy to do as they are not to do. Walk daily. Lift heavy things (with proper form). Order a salad and soup instead of a burger and fries. Drink more water. Restrict alcohol and sugar. Sleep. For more help on habits, read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

DID YOU KNOW: If you eat a bowl of conventional cereal and a glass of orange juice for breakfast, you’ve maxed out your sugar intake for the DAY?! Can you imagine if you had several donuts and a Dr. Pepper? So start with breakfast…less sugar, more protein.

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Take care of the ONE BODY you were given, and don’t complain too much when it rebels against you for treating it poorly.

3. Decide. 

-I’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately: “Because I decided to.” Sometimes our mind has to decide what our body, heart and soul needs. This is true of monumental decisions like the covenant of marriage or committing our lives to Jesus Christ. It’s also true of lesser decisions like paying the registration fee for a half-marathon, hiring a trainer, calling the friend, cleaning up our diet, quitting a job, joining a gym, saving money, attending church, etc. We may not fully know what we’re doing, but we know we need to do it. So we decide to.

I’m mature enough (finally) to slow down and take notice when God sends the same stories, same phrases, same testimonies like paper airplanes floating across my busy life.  I’ve heard, “I just decided to…” at least a dozen times in the past couple of months. This definitive decision just may lead you forward toward achieving your goals.

10 Whatever your hand decides to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10

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4. Do cardio at the end of your workout; about 5-20 minutes worth.

-Save your mental and physical prowess for the tough part: the strength or functional training. If you’re eating properly, strength training will do more for body transformation than cardio ever will. I strength train 5x/week with cardio bursts on two of those days. I don’t even teach cycling anymore…and though I miss the sweat, my body hasn’t suffered.

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A frigid Bentonville 5K last year…about the only time Joey and I run anymore is for a 5K.

5. Develop Your Why

-This is so cliche, but I can’t convey to you how important it is. First figure out why you are pursuing better health, then determine how. Your “why,” they say, should make you cry. It should get you out of bed in the morning. If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance you won’t follow through, especially if you’re someone who hasn’t developed healthy habits. Spend time on this. Come up with “21 Reasons Why,” so when it gets hard (and it will), you have 21 reminders not to quit.

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I don’t know what it is for you, but for me, I cannot–simply cannot–make excuses not to move my body when Finn, my little man curled up warm in his toddler bed as I type, does not even have the choice to jump, run, climb, cycle, walk. What he wouldn’t give for the opportunity to run until his knee hurt or hike a mountain with his Daddy, legs bloodied and bruised! I’ll use the body God gave me to inspire others and honor Finn.

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Okay, confession: I have this terrible habit of seeing potential in people.

You name it, I think it has potential to be redeemed. Marriages. Sinners. Children with disabilities. Foster children. Churches. Insecure women. Ugly homes. Struggling businesses. Boring recipes.

And when I see an overweight person, my mind can whittle them down to the way I believe God created them to be: strong and firm, capable and alive. I’ve seen so many body/mind transformations over my 13 years of personal training that I know it’s possible. I see the clean whites of their eyes, the blood pumping confidently through their veins, and they stand taller.

This “vision for potential” gets me in trouble because I dream big for myself or for you, but oftentimes I’m let down when that vision may not become reality. God sees potential in us too because we are His craftsmanship, made in His image. Your first “why” can be to give God your best effort because He created you to live abundantly.

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

If you’re feeling bold, share your “why” in the COMMENTS below! I’d love to pray over them for you. 

For more fitness tips:

2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

How to Roast Vegetables

(Many of you have requested this post, so here it is, but please don’t judge. I’m FAR from a foodie blogger or photographer…but I have some friends who are great at that if you’re interested!)

As a kid, I hid my green peas under my mashed potatoes like the rest of you. But early in our marriage, Joey and I found a way to LOVE vegetables…roasted. Here’s how we do them:

  1. Preheat a smokin’ hot oven…like 450-500 degrees.
  2. Wash (duh) your veggies and cut them all about the same size so they cook evenly. This is important, people. You can’t have a long stem of asparagus with diced zucchini or some large potatoes with some cubed.

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    SHARP knives are safer!

  3. Create a “medley” of veggies of about the same texture. Some examples:
    1. Sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, carrots
    2. Zucchini, onions, zucchini squash, peppers
    3. Asparagus, artichokes, French green beans
    4. Broccoli, cauliflower
    5. Brussels sprouts and green onions…or add sliced red grapes for sweetness

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      This is honestly not the best example because they aren’t all the same size…but it was what was left in our fridge before Christmas. 🙂

  4. Chopped onions and minced garlic go well with all veggies. We love red onions, sweet yellow and green onions the best. White are gross. Ew.
  5. Drizzle the veggies with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). My mom actually pronounces this “ee-voo.” 😉 You could also use coconut oil. img_6008
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt if you want to be fancy. We don’t do black pepper but you could.
  7. Roast on the top rack for as long as it takes for them to get soft, caramelized and golden brown. Usually this is 15-25 minutes…potatoes take the longest. img_6009
  8. DIVE IN! In our house, veggies take up at least half our plate at dinner. img_6010
  9. If your kids are picky, call them “chips.” We eat “green bean chips” and “kale chips” and “edamame chips.” Make them crispy.
  10. The prettier (more colorful) the vegetables, the richer they are in nutrient content and the more fun your kids will have with them. fullsizerender-67

Here We Are

So it’s been too long, and I’m sorry.

I’ve been longing to write to you; I’m teeming with ideas to share, but honestly, the things I’m learning about life and business and family right now, I’m not sure you want to hear, so I’ve kept quiet. In short, I’m learning about how to be a better, more courageous leader and Christ-follower. A consistent, patient entrepreneur. An understanding and supportive friend. An irrationally generous giver. I’m making exchanges (not sacrifices) in my life right now that do not afford me time for Project Runway reruns, crafting or margin to blog.

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But it’s been TOO LONG, and we had some stellar family photos taken, so here I am. It’s post-church naptime for the kids and my To Do list can wait.

We are The Armstrongs.

We work hard. We are kind. We do difficult things on purpose. We have fun. We choose to be brave. We forgive freely. We love each other. We follow Jesus.

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Finn is loving PreK. We love Mrs. Brown–she makes learning fun. He is great with spelling and language. He’s a terrible writer/artist and I think it’s hilarious. His aide told Joey one day, “The first thing I noticed about Finn is that he has a lot of friends.” P E O P L E!!!! You’ve been praying for friends for Finn! THANK YOU! He has friends, praise Jesus. Another aide told us “Finn is the best part of my day,” –and her job is to wipe his butt. 😉

His wheel got stuck in the grass and he fell over in his chair a couple weeks ago. No teachers were around, but his buddy Thomas ran to get the teacher. Finn was freaked out and had a bump on his head, but he’s fine. This wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last. I get asked a million questions about Finn each day when I pick him up. “Why can’t he walk?” “Is he a baby? Why is he wearing diapers?” “What’s that thing on his back?” “When will he get better?” “What’s wrong with him?” They are asking honest, innocent questions I don’t always have the answers to. I don’t mind answering these questions, but I hate that it’s in front of Finn. And if I get all these questions in 5 minutes, I wonder how many he gets throughout the day? My heart hurts for him, but God gave Finn such a resilient spirit. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He is a good, kind Father.

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Paisley is so spunky. Okay, and naughty. Her sense of humor is subtle and smart. She observes people before she’ll befriend them. She loves ‘nastics and jumping and climbing and being upside down. She is full of life and extremely independent. “Gummy” (gum) is her favorite and she loves to pack her Paw Patrol lunchbox with all kinds of random items for “school” so she can be like Finn. She likes to sing and dance. I can’t get over how beautiful she is. I’m so grateful she has a daddy who will protect her fiercely.

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This morning on the way to church, Finn said that he “want[s] to marry Paisley, and I’ll blow her a kiss.” Paisley told me yesterday that Bubba (Finn) was her best friend. She helps him pop over bumps in the sidewalk, rides his back like a “horsie” and races him with her baby stroller. Their friendship is a gift from above.

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Joey and I have had a tough few months. I blame Dave Ramsey. We’re doing Financial Peace University with another couple from Life.Church, and though these are conversations we obviously needed to have and there is always room for improvement when it comes to spending and saving, I am TIRED of talking about money. The conversations are unsexy, exhausting and difficult to trudge through. We’ve learned a lot about our personalities and fighting fair during this process though, and in a few hours, we’ll meet the Gates for pizza and to discuss our last FPU session to celebrate. Praise. Jesus.

Joey is so good to me. He’s fun. He’s my best friend and lover. He unloads the dishwasher like a ninja. And I love to watch him “dad.” I’m truly a better human being because of his influence in my every day life.

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Thanks to Maylee Hill for taking such fantastic photos of our family! She is super talented and captured our personalities so well. I love the color in these shots. We took these photos on the Eastside of Tulsa near the Blue Dome District. Check out her website!

As the holiday season approaches, I pray you’ll run (or wheel) like a little child toward Jesus’ transforming love, your families, your dreams, and better overall health. Go now; don’t wait.

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Thank you for praying big prayers for our family and specifically for Finn, for following our journey, and for being true friends. We are not perfect, but we are following hard after our perfect Savior, THANKFUL for His goodness and grace in our lives.

We are The Armstrongs. Roar.

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Pre-K

We sent him off to his teacher’s bench early Tuesday morning. It was his first full day of Pre-K, the first of many days of public school.

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This day was one I feared since the NICU, watching Finn’s tiny pink lips breathe in and out, closed around his feeding tube.

Sure, he’s been in daycare since infancy, but this was different somehow. I was sending my heart off between two wheels, trusting the world to treat him fairly, give him a chance, open doors, be kind.

He popped a wheelie, yelled, “Wahoo!” when he saw cute little Mrs. Brown, and zoomed off.

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I turned around, my eyes stinging with tears. Then Paisley almost ran off the curb into a line of cars and I forgot to cry. A busy day at work kept my mind distracted.

He won’t really tell us anything about his days…nothing true, anyway. He said he played in the dirt all day and that his new friend’s name was Booty. 😉 Mrs. Brown tells me he always asks when nap time is and even fell asleep sitting upright in his chair.

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Thank you, Jesus, for Mrs. Brown.

He’s adjusting well and is excited to go to school each morning, a blessing for sure.

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When asked by kids in his class why he’s in a wheelchair and “what’s wrong with him,” Mrs. Brown says he responds that “his legs aren’t very strong and he uses his wheelchair to move.” I’ve never heard him respond to anyone about his disability before; probably because we answer for him. This is pretty close to what we’d say, except I don’t want him to believe he isn’t strong…just stronger in some ways than others.

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I’m so proud of you, Finn. You are teaching us all that it’s okay to be different. And what’s more, that it’s okay to LIKE being different! Your joy humbles me. You don’t make excuses for the things you “can’t do;” you simply find a way. I am so grateful for the confidence God gives you.

Here’s to 14 years of childhood education–Whew, that sounds daunting!–a rich education mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

Will you pray with us for one or two really good, loyal friends for Finn? Friends that would see his differences as a blessing, not a burden. We all need a couple friends like that, don’t we?