Where I See Jesus

Today I’m trying my hand at poetry. We’ll see if I can convey the joy I’m experiencing. I pray I can.

Blessings, sweet friends

xox J.

I see Jesus

In the sunrise

No child in my bed

For perhaps

The first time

In a decade.

I see Jesus

In the bath time

When I can

Unassisted

No chair in sight

Bend forward

And wash her hair.

I see Jesus

In silence

No screaming child

Her angst obvious

Crushing my soul.

I see Jesus

In a massage

Not because I’m injured

But because

Somewhere along the way

I decided worth

Has nothing

To do with

Contribution

And everything

To do with

Existing.

I see Jesus

In everything

Since melanoma came

And life slowed

And my child

Began to thrive.

I saw him before.

Of course I did.

But today

I’m seeing him

In life released

From so much wildness

If only for a time

And I give

huge thanks

For the calm

Between storms.

He is good.

Blessed to be here with these precious souls; they have taught me everything about what matters.

He Never Fails

Today’s Voices of Motherhood guest post is by Maryann – an incredible mother of many dedicated to mental health awareness for all… though she’s particularly passionate about her Filipino family. Maryann writes about her experience of faith, family, and postpartum depression. I pray that hearing her story blesses you immensely.

He Never Fails

Written by Maryann Clark of The Filipino Mom

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My life would not be the same without Christ. He has been the cornerstone of my existence – even when I didn’t believe He cared about me. My life hasn’t been ideal to say the least as I am a survivor of childhood trauma, codependent to a recovering drug addict, experienced miscarriages, and became my own mental health advocate. All of the events in my life could have truly brought me to the end of myself but with Christ’s grace and mercy, I am here today sharing my story…

Growing Up

I grew up as a devout Roman Catholic. I did the whole deal – baptism, first Holy Communion, and confirmation. I never understood why I had to put time and effort into all of these traditions. All I knew is that it was important to my parents; it was absolutely required that I complete each step. We were taught never to question our religion and if I did, I would be called disobedient.

I became disobedient.

Being noncompliant was my M.O. (modus operandi) from childhood to young adulthood. You see, my parents are immigrants to this country and their values didn’t make sense to me growing up. So I rebelled. I rebelled so hard that I’m not even sure how my parents loved me through it all. I did everything in my power to be defiant at all costs. Looking back, I was just trying to find my voice and where I fit in the world and forge my own path with acceptance.

Trauma

Along with my rebellion, I was dealing with a huge secret that ultimately caused a large part of our extended family to disown me and my immediate family. I have experienced childhood trauma at the hands of a relative. And I did not share my horrific experiences with anyone until I was in 6th grade. By then, I had experienced multiple episodes of assault that no child should ever experience.

To this day, I can’t compute the amount of time these encounters would go on. I just knew they were horribly wrong. Once I shared my truth, our family became divided. I felt responsible for this major rift. Fortunately, my Dad (who is not emotional at all) stood by me through it all. This is one memory I will hold close to my heart because when the world was crumbling around us, he stood firm and believed me. I went to counseling and worked through my feelings. I can now talk about my experiences without crying.

This trauma had directly affected my relationships with the opposite gender. I was looking for acknowledgement and acceptance in all the wrong places. I was “that girl” in high school. I allowed teenage boys to use me at their leisure. It was demeaning and I didn’t know how to pull myself out of it. So much so that I had a few pregnancy scares. By the end of my high school career, I vowed to be single through my first year of college. I wanted to meet new people, reinvent myself, and be a better version on me…

Boundaries

Well that vow didn’t last very long.

I met a guy through a friend on AOL Instant Messenger (am I dating myself – absolutely!). He said he had a friend who didn’t know the area and wanted to see if I could show him around. The “new” me decided that would be a great idea! I asked this guy what he wanted to do and he said go to all the mall in the area. So we did and I haven’t let his side ever since.

Yup, we got married!

Four years into our relationship I got pregnant. I took a test around my 21st birthday, it was positive. I went to Planned Parenthood and took another test, positive. We were both young college kids who knew nothing about the real world even if we swore we did. This pregnancy didn’t last as I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks. I was devastated and relieved but we had not learned our lesson. A few months later, I was pregnant again. With this pregnancy, I was urged to get an abortion. I made the appointment. Thankfully, I did not go through with the procedure. We got married a year and a half after my daughter was born because I didn’t want to get married just because I had a baby. I wanted to know this guy was committed because I didn’t want to be a divorced single mom.

Life continued on – and then four years into our marriage, I learned that my husband was hiding an addiction to drugs. I was floored and felt betrayed. I mean I was consumed by three toddlers under the age of 5, of course I never saw that coming!

We unofficially separated for a short time and decided that we would have to go to counseling – Christian counseling. Prior to us getting married, I decided to convert from Catholicism to a Christ follower. No special or fancy conversion process, just praying with my whole heart that I believe Christ is my savior. So this relationship with Christ was very fresh and important to me when I discovered my husband’s addiction. I can honestly say, the recovery process through our then home church, saved our marriage and our lives. I credit our marriage to them. I was taught how to say NO and have healthy boundaries. I learned so much about myself and it was up to me to change my own behavior. While the road to recovery isn’t an easy straight one, it has definitely been rewarding to see the transformation in myself, my husband, and our marriage.

I Have No Joy

God had a sense of humor when he blessed us with our final (and I do mean final) child, nine years after our last child was born.

That’s right guys, we had to start all over. Unfortunately, this pregnancy was a very difficult one for me. Since I had girls prior to this pregnancy, I believe that my body didn’t know how to grow a boy inside of my womb without torturing me. I experienced so many things in this final pregnancy that I didn’t know how to deal with from major acid reflux to major food aversions to car sickness the entire pregnancy. I was also commuting to work everyday until I began to have preterm labor and I went on maternity leave early. He was delivered via c-section after I would not progress past 7.5 centimeters and his oxygen levels began to drop.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was experiencing antepartum depression, depression during pregnancy.

Looking back, the symptoms were there but I didn’t want to see it. On top of a difficult pregnancy, my Dad went through multiple serious hospital stays and a genetic disorder diagnosis. It was a rough year, so much so that once my son was born, I began to experience depression even more. I finally came to the realization that I had depression after I self-diagnosed through Dr. Google (I don’t recommend this – it’ll make you a hypochondriac. The best way I could illustrate my symptoms is that I felt like Sadness from the Disney movie – Inside Out. So sad right?

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So in my bathroom, while my husband was in the shower – perfect time for a serious talk right – I told my husband that I “think” I have depression. He had apprehensions at first but quickly became my biggest supporter through this mental health journey. He encouraged me to do whatever I needed to feel like myself. I believe he is the main reason why I have become a mental health advocate because he believed me and now I believe in myself.

Through It All

While it doesn’t seem very apparent, God was in all of that mess.

He took everything I went through and made it hope for others. I was tested, time and time again. I went through an enormous amount of life lessons and I have become a testimony to other survivors and codependents that there is hope. Today, my life isn’t perfect. I’ve gone through some huge life changes! But the most consistent presence in my life is Christ. He has shown me that he will not leave me or forsake me. He will carry me through when I can barely stand. He is my rock and my shield. He has a plan for me.

This plan became apparent in the middle of a major health crisis in my immediate and extended family. God told me to start a blog about mental health specifically in the Filipino community. In the Filipino culture, it is absolutely unacceptable to talk about your feelings and your struggles. You are taught to “stuff it down” and ignore it. With all that I’ve gone through and learning that sharing my story bring hope and comfort to others, I decided to start my blog. I wanted to change the narrative and be the change in our community. Too many people were suffering in silence and I wasn’t okay with it anymore. So I became obedient and put my experience in my blog to show how Christ can make a broken, girl into a woman who strives to show others they are not alone.

Embracing The Journey – Not Just Another Special Parenting Story

Today’s Voices of Motherhood guest post is by another beautiful friend I met through social media – a fellow special needs parent and believer in Christ. What I love most about Michelle is that she is choosing to raise awareness for her special needs child. When others understand what “we” are going through, and what we “get” to go through (because motherhood is always a blessing even when it’s tough!), we are further joined together on this wild ride called life.

Embracing Your Special Needs Child

Written by Michelle Lach of autismmomlife.com/

When our son was first diagnosed with Autism, along with sensory processing disorder, and speech apraxia, it was difficult for us to process. We were unsure of what this meant for his future, and how to parent a child with special needs. During that time, we focused entirely on “fixing” our son, subscribing to the belief that we broke him… and somehow failed him as parents, which is why he wasn’t thriving like his peers. Guilt-ridden, we sought professionals, diets, and supplements… therapies, specialists, doing every possible treatment we read about or was recommended to us by other parents in hopes of curing our son.

If we knew then what we know now, we would’ve been able to discern which therapy was best for our son, and our situation.

At first though, we subscribed to the belief that every “bad” and challenging behavior was a result of Autism, made us want to get rid of his Autism… not understanding at the time, that Autism is a part of who he is!

Jacob and Mom Kayaking 1

Overtime, we found ourselves saying that we loved our son, but hated Autism. But slowly, we learned that Autism is a big part of who he is. It’s his little quirks and differences that makes our Jacob who he is. When we stopped viewing everything through the lens of Autism, we saw Jacob as simply our child. Our unique child. It was this perspective that shifted everything for us.

Yes, our son has Autism, and yes, he comes with a set of his own special needs. But he’s also our child. With his own unique characteristics, his own strengths and challenges, and a wonderful sense of humor.

I eventually came across a method of alternative communication known as Spelling to Communicate, diving into a world of non-speaking/minimally speaking individuals on the Autism Spectrum. For the first time, we met other families who have children with non-verbal Autism. Children and young adults who communicated using letter boards, iPads, and keyboards. We watched breathlessly as we met autistic teens communicating this way. Sharing their thoughts and insights, while stimming. These individuals were unable to share their thoughts verbally, and it gave us a glimpse into their unique personalities and insights.

Little by little, we started working with our son on the letterboard, which gave him more options than what was available to him on his proloquo2go device (which we still use for choices). He’s been able to share with us when his in pain, and where it hurts. He’s able to share with us when he wants to make a particular dish (he loves to help me cook in the kitchen), and participate in everyday life.

Meeting other autistic individuals on-line, and in person gave us a different perspective on Autism. It made us realize that every person has their own unique personalities and gifts, and are capable of limitless possibilities.

We love our son’s good nature and laid back personality. Because he isn’t able to speak, our son picks up on cues and is drawn to those who are open minded and light-hearted, inviting them by hand into our home. There’s this belief that Autistic individuals aren’t affectionate, but our son will often times lean into us to give him a kiss, and even gives us partial hugs. His challenges are what oftentimes would cause “behavioral problems,” but, when all you see is the behavior, it’s easy to miss the child. Our sweet boy is simply wanting to partake and enjoy life just like the rest of us….

Willing to work after a long day at school in order to better communicate in our world…

Embracing his love for water led us to local pools and kayaking whenever the weather permits…

He loves being out in nature, going on bike rides, and exploring new places….

He’s constantly learning and growing just like the rest of our children.

Speaking of other children – we also have a daughter; and she has very different needs.

Our daughter’s diagnosis of Aspergers and ADHD came when she was in first grade, she struggled with making friends, interacting with other adults, and sensory processing disorder. Their differences were night and day, and perhaps this has to due with being a girl on the spectrum. Which I’ve come to find is very rare. It’s not common for girls to be diagnosis with Autism or being anywhere on the spectrum. This has made her more susceptible to being bullied by her peers. Something we’re working through together.

Family Photo by the Water 2

While our daughter questions herself regularly, she also challenges our perception of the world. Inquisitive and asking deep questions that we ourselves aren’t entirely sure of. She desires deeply to fit in, and trying to find her place in the world hasn’t been easy. She attributes a lot of her differences to her special needs… Needs that we view as her unique gifts and qualities.

Recently, we gave her a book written by Chloe Howard, where she shares about her experience with being different (she has cub foot), and how she overcame being bullied by her peers. I have noticed that she is drawn to any literature written by those who are different and went on to become world-shapers. She will be a world-shaper. She has a sweet demeanor about her, always greeting others, and wishing them to have a nice day. Being kind to others, with a desire to help those around her came naturally.

In many ways, she is more Christ-like than we are, and is regularly engaging in acts of kindness. 

Now, while we love our uniquely gifted children, embracing your role as a caregiver can be difficult. This is primarily due to that fact that there are indeed many challenges involved in special needs parenting. When you view your child through the lens as something you need to fix or change in any way, it can be difficult for you to love them as they are.

As human beings, even as children, at the center of it all is this desire to be loved and accepted for who we are. Not after a transformation takes place, but before your child makes progress over the course of occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical therapy… and a myriad of other therapies.

Your child desires to be accepted and loved for who they are, right now.

How do you embrace them when as a parent, you want so much for them?

You may even be thinking to yourself, of course, I love my child, even if there’s little to no progress after undergoing treatment. Let me ask you you to dig a little bit deeper…

Does your child know that you love them?

Are you expressing it in how you interact with them?

Are they aware that your love for them is not contingent on how well they performed in school or in therapy on any given day?

Does your child know that your love for them flows effortlessly, and isn’t only something you give only when they are well-behaved?

Are they aware that you love them when they have a challenging day at school or having a meltdown in the middle of a busy grocery store?

In order to fully embrace your child and role as a caregiver, you have to tune out the voices around you, and remember that God entrusted you with your unique child.

There is no one else more capable of raising him or her to their fullest potential, than you! Don’t just read this, but believe it with all your heart! Speaking life and affirming your child and yourself aloud changes the way you think, feel about yourself, and your circumstances. If you find it challenging, try writing down what your grateful for every day.

What do you love about child’s personality?

What causes him or her to light up?

What causes you to feel a sense of overwhelming pride– is it something he or she does on a daily basis?

Get in the habit of beginning and ending each day with a heart of gratitude. There is so much to be grateful for, friends! Understand the depth of this truth, so that when you are hit with hard days, you can come back to it with the understanding that you are called to parent a differently-abled child! When you are less prone to questioning yourself, and your ability to parent your unique child, you come to embrace your role as a special needs parent… which in turn gives you the ability to fully embrace your child. You’ll love what makes them different, their quirks, unique perspective and personalities.

Affirm them daily, and see how that transforms how you view them. How you speak about your child, yourself, and your circumstances matters.

Speak life.

Help your child navigate the challenges ahead as gracefully as you can, knowing that they are loved by the God of the universe, and by parents who love them deeply!

Rootin’ for you,

Michelle


 

My favorite line from Michelle is this: In order to fully embrace your child and role as a caregiver, you have to tune out the voices around you, and remember that God entrusted you with your unique child. She speaks such truth!

Reader-friend, if you are struggling with your faith in motherhood, please reach out. We are worthy of being well (body, mind & spirit), we are better together, and we are made for so much more than we realize.

xox J.

Look Up, Child

As I sit down to write today, I am convicted.

Convicted by the Lord that so often, I look at my circumstances more than I look at my Maker.

Case in point: the other day, on a beautiful island, I’m numb. Attempting to hide from the plethora of emotions that could bubble up and over at any point, I have instead decided to feel nothing. And by “decided” I mean that my coping mechanism (self-reliance) is on the prowl. She wants badly for me to choose her; and so, the moment that I’m conflicted, she steps in. Numbness tumbles over my body and my mind. I am safe again…

Or am I?

Is there anything about parenting a child – any child – that is actually safe my precious friend? Love is absolutely the least safe place and space to live. Yet, as a mother, father, nurturer, caregiver, we are asked daily to choose it. To choose to live in the least safe place in the world. A place that can wreck us in all the worst ways.

And all the best ones.

I believe there is this precarious rite of passage that no one speaks of… and it’s timing looks different to each and all of us. This is the passage from loving as a person looking to receive something back… to loving – truly dying to one’s own selfish wants and genuine needs – as a person looking for nothing in return.

Tree Pose Trio

Which brings me to my walk last week.

Numbed-out by the tumultuous few weeks before we took flight – and absolutely emotionally exhausted by the child I aim to be loved-by (wince) – I chanted the words “Help Me” over and over as I pounded the boardwalk above the most beautiful ocean I’ve ever seen. One foot. Help. Second foot. Me. Over and over again.

And then the words I was needing to hear punched me in the gut.

Am I looking at Him or at her?

Ouch.

Some days her is my daughter.

Some days her is old pain.

Some days her is present darkness.

And some, it’s imaginary circumstances. Like the fact the last time we traveled and had a balcony, my Wild girl struggled with thoughts of self-harm… Which included jumping from said balcony. So as I power-walked the island, I worried. (Did Scott remember to lock the door?)

Until I didn’t anymore.

Help. Me.

And He did. Just knowing my eyes weren’t where they needed to be made the rest of the trip a precious one. The numbness didn’t radically disappear; but instead it was slowly displaced by an inner peace. No goosebumps or enthusiastic celebration from my cells. Just… peace.

May you find your peace today too, beautiful soul. May your circumstances not rob you of your birthright – a peace that surpasses all present events and past ones.

You are more than what you experience. And you were made for this. Whatever this is right now. Do you believe it?

If not yet, I implore of you to tap into two simple words (Help Me) and see what happens. When life knocks us on our knees, it just might be time to look up.

Cheering you on.

xox J.

Hold On Tight – Keeping Your Faith In Special Parenting

Today’s Voices of Motherhood guest post is by a friend I met through social media – a fellow special needs parent and believer in Christ. For me, being a parent to a developmentally-different child has brought me to my knees. The exact place where I believe the Lord wants me. It’s been the most heart-shattering space on earth. It’s been the biggest blessing to be here, too. Read on to hear Kimberlee’s perspective.

Oh how thankful I am to be surrounded by women like this!

Hold On Tight And Have Faith

Written by Kimberlee Adams, Mom of Two

Years ago, I met my husband Craig online in a chatroom. We chatted a lot and over time would get married. We were happy. Well, as happy as we thought we could be. After being married for a few years, we would go through a miscarriage and it would break our hearts.

Then we became pregnant again, and this time would have a beautiful baby boy. We would name him Conner. He would be born and look like a healthy child.

But, when Conner was about a year old, he and I flew out to Indiana to visit Craig’s parents. Leaving Craig in Phoenix to work. During our travels, Conner had a grand-mal seizure, which would require him to be transported to a children’s hospital in Indianapolis. Doctors ran endless tests; and Craig was flown out to Indiana on the airline he was working for.

During this time, the doctors would tell us he wouldn’t amount to anything; that Conner would be a vegetable the rest of his life. It seemed like more bad news after more bad news.

Have you ever felt like you have had enough? Enough is enough, right? That’s how my husband and I felt.

When is enough going to be enough? The doctors didn’t really have answers. I remember that day so well. I remember crying. I remember asking God what is it that I did wrong that he would put me through so much pain? I mean, honestly… I’d had ENOUGH!

I remember asking God to help Conner.

I remember praying.

I had never prayed so hard. All I wanted was for Conner to be okay.

We would later discover Conner would be okay – to an extent. Conner was diagnosed with Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, immune complications and he would be developmentally delayed. What would be easy for you, would be more challenging for him. For example: communication. Conner doesn’t speak full sentences. He requires a device to help him communicate what he needs. He requires sometime to help him bathe himself, change his diapers, etc. He isn’t a baby either, he’ll be 13 soon!

I remember asking God at one point in time… why are you punishing us? What did we do that was so bad, you’d curse us with a child who couldn’t do anything for himself? I know, I know… we were not being punished. God would be blessing us.

We decided we couldn’t have any more kids. Conner would be a handful for us to take care of…

God would have different plans for us though. I became pregnant with our daughter Lila. Those two have a bond you can’t break. They love each other. I remember thinking about God and what he wants from us. He wants us to have Faith in him. How can you have Faith with so many struggles? Our struggles are real. Do you ever feel at times, like you’re in a boat out on the ocean. One moment, it’s beautiful out. The sun is shining, the sky is a beautiful blue and the ocean is calm. No waves of any kind that could tip you over. Kind of like the calm before the storm. Then, there are days where the sky changes to darkness fast. The sky is filled with lightning. You can hear thunder. The winds start to pick up and your boat starts to rock. It rocks even more while the rain starts to fall. There is no more calm. You have to find a way to hold on, to secure yourself and hope the store will pass. Eventually, the storm starts to pass. The rain, wind, thunder, and lightning goes away. Your boat is fine and you managed to make it through the storm.

Isn’t that what our Faith in God is like? When we believe in Him and His wondrous power, we are like the calm before the storm. When we become doubtful or lose our faith in Him, He reminds us with the crazy storm. He reminds us that we can have the calm. Following him and listening to his words.

There will always be storms. No one is saying there won’t be. We just need to hold on. Have Faith and believe in Him.

Never doubt what He can do. That will calm the storm. I’ve been through many storms. My Faith in God has and will always be tested. It’s how I hold on and make it through the storm that proves how my Faith remains. I believe God has a plan for us all. We all will go through things. This life isn’t easy. I try to make the best of every bad situation. Wake up, put a smile on my face. Nothing is going to get me down. Make the best of any situation. Believe in God and believe what he can do. The storms are coming… hold on tight and stay strong for it will pass too.


 

A big thank you Kimberlee for sharing your heart.

Reader-friend, if you are struggling with your faith in motherhood, please reach out. We are worthy of being well (body, mind & spirit), we are better together, and we are made for so much more than we realize.

xox J.

How She Grows

It was a decade ago that I experienced the gift that is growth-through-motherhood for the very first time. At the time, I was a career-driven twenty-something, enthusiastic about everything new under the sun. Except motherhood. While our son was planned, I deeply resisted this vocational switch. I love working. I loved working. I couldn’t imagine raising him myself, and I soothed every fear with a plan that included oodles of hours with a nanny… until I realized that a nanny wasn’t in the budget.

I prayed that family or friends would want the job of raising our child. But alas, that wasn’t the case.

Apparently moms raise babies.

And thus this series was birthed – perhaps when he was birthed. A series dedicated to how we grow through bonding with our kids.

The Mild & The Wild

Friend, your babies will inspire you. They will tire you. They will encourage you. They will enrage you and engage you and make you laugh until your sides hurt and cry until you’re sure there isn’t a single tear left. And they will tear you apart into pieces that can never be stitched back together again.

(Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but you don’t want the old you to be stitched back together again. You want the new you. I promise a million times over you want her! Even if the “her” you are today isn’t the one you imagined you would be. I pinky swear.)

I’m here to tell you it’s all a gift. The highs and the lows and the joy and the grief. I have mothered both a medically fragile child and a special needs child at this point in my journey. The growth here has been incredible. It’s the kind of growth that people pay for in a Tony Robbins coaching weekend (except instead of paying $10k you’re down a couple thou- or more).

Without my Mild or Wild babies, I would not nearly know the grace or the mercy or the Truth of my Father’s love. I have always loved big. And I truly never loved this big before having them. Friend, if you are new to motherhood I am praying for you. And if you have been here for a while and haven’t noticed, accepted, and fallen for this new version of you, I am praying for you too. Every gray hair is worth it. Every saggy spot ultimately something to treasure – if you so choose.

As I wrap up this post today, I’m already dreaming up the next few coming along. I have all the thoughts and ideas and tips on bonding racing through my head pretty much all day every day. Growth here – in motherhood – is something I’m wholly passionate about. But not because it came easily. I’m passionate because I almost missed out.

You don’t have to miss out.

Stay here with me.

Let’s grow – in motherhood, and parenting – together.

xox J.

 

Won’t He Do It

Won’t He do it. Oh how my Father loves me in ways that I can’t even imagine! And I’m a mother. A mother who would give up her life (and at times has given up her “life”) for her precious babies to survive and thrive.

The other morning I was listening to a pastor speak at Elevation Church, and I was reminded of how great His love is for us. I laughed and I cried (ugly cried) and I praised and I prayed throughout it. He leaves the ninety-nine for the ONE lost sheep. The one.

So, what makes you think He won’t do it? Whatever your greatest desire or want or craving or need – will He not do immeasurably more for you than you can ask or imagine?

I share our story often because I get to be living proof of this.

I’m a woman who does life with a chronic disease – I’ve had a mosquito borne virus and cancer and two complicated pregnancies. I have experienced the depths of grief and despair in multiple seasons. I have had physical pain that others cannot imagine. I’ve raised a medically fragile baby. I have a special needs daughter. Yet (wait for it)… I’m spiritually well.

Spiritually well as in I have hope and joy and peace here and now. Not just in the tomorrow’s or in the eternal life I look forward to.

I have witnessed blessing after blessing in crisis after crisis.

There is opportunity in pain.

For me, I learned to look up with hands wide open – receptive to the now and the next – and say, “Won’t He Do It!” Because I know He will.

This week, after praying over my relationship with the once-medically-fragile joy-boy that I get to do life with (I refer to him as Mild on social platforms, but he’s really my Ry), I once again saw the Lord’s grace. Little reminders are as important – if not more important – to notice than the big ones. They build up, and brick by brick turn into the most solid foundation for the relationship we crave with Christ. One in which we know we can depend on Him… I know I can depend on Him.

My Joy Boy!
My joy-boy. I just love his precious heart!

So this week, after quite a few weeks of the cold shoulder from this precious little boy, who happens to be the most loving child ever, our connection has been restored. This is the power of prayer.

What happened? (You might be wondering.)

Well, it started with realizing that I hadn’t prayed over our angst. Which led to researching self-regulation strategies for Mild. And finally, it ended with me volunteering in his school library again after several weeks of debilitating migraines and a bout of almost-pneumonia.

(insert long expectant pause)

Relationship restored.

It’s fascinating how our children work!

And while I knew that Ry was and is absolutely a quality time child, I didn’t see what had happened over the course of me taking care of me to take better care of him. We went from teaching two yoga classes a week together, and me volunteering in the library at his school every week, to quiet moments together here and there, and snuggles at bedtime. It wasn’t enough. He’s young – and of course he didn’t know what he needed from me. So instead, he started whining and complaining and resisting and acting out in small, rebellious ways.

It got me to thinking… How much am I like Mild with my Heavenly Parent? I shrug him off when my needs aren’t being met. I whine and complain and resist (in my head of course, because I’m a grown adult!). And I don’t even ask Him for what I need. Even though I know that I know that I know He will do it. If I ask.

What have you not asked Him for yet? What do you need to leave at the foot of His heavenly throne? How much relief would it bring you to know that He will do it?

I dare you. Today, throw your hands up and say it with me with childlike faith. “Won’t He Do It!” Say it like you mean it. Like you know it. Like He has offered it to you already all tied up with a bow. Because He has.

I love you. I am praying for you. And I am speaking LIFE into your greatest Godly desires today, beautiful friend. Won’t He do it? Won’t He do it!

Oh there is power in His name!!

xox J.

Identity Crisis – Just Call Me “His”

I’m on my first momcation. I guess I could call it something else… like a trip. But alas, motherhood is my primary vocation in this place and space of life – so here I am – taking my first real break in nine years.

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Me in Sedona at The Chapel of the Holy Cross. A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my mentor/sponsor that I felt like the Lord was calling me to take a few days off from really real life. Being a mother is my heart and soul. Yet, to my Maker, I am immeasurably more than a mother. He calls me beautiful on my worst days. Which makes me wonder, what does He call me on my best? (Wink. I think it’s just “still” His.)

Typically, I have loads to write to you. Most times we visit here I have a plethora of words to share about life and love and laughter and chronic disease and special parenting (and, and, and…). Today I don’t.

All I know is that the moment you step away from really real life and look up, you’ll find peace and perhaps a few unexpected answers to prayers.

So today, I’ll remind you how important your role is – as a mama or caregiver or human being (really). And I’ll tell you to take a break. Take a break from whatever you are calling yourself and get with your Maker. Let Him whisper sweet words of serenity into your soul. And find hope in something other that what your hands can do.

I love you and I am for you. But more importantly your Heavenly Father loves you and is for you.  Now, go take a break.

xox J.

I’m a Christian and I Yoga. Here’s Why:

There is an editorial from a Christian magazine that I have pinned to a bulletin board behind my computer station. The header says: Invade the Secular with the Sacred. It’s what I do. It’s what I have always done.

Over the last 33 years, I have had a plethora of life experiences that have led me closer and closer in my walk with the Lord. One of the greatest? Yoga. (Another is motherhood if you haven’t clued in on that yet!)

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Picture captured by one of my favorite people in the whole world. When I visited Washington, there was an abundance of this practice that keeps me whole. Whenever I adventure anywhere, I bring my mat. But sometimes, in special places and spaces (like overlooking the pacific ocean on water-smoothed rock), I don’t need it.

My deep love of yoga began early in life.

I was just ten years old when I started experiencing pain in my joints. It quickly expanded to my low back and hips. I now know much of that pain was and is from joint hypermobility. But back then, I was diagnosed with lots of other scary disease processes  (it was before we learned about the challenges in my joints; and it was just before I would be diagnosed with CFS/ME). Running, sports, and even leveling-up in my dance classes, just weren’t an option. My body was crafted with limits. Yet, I’m inclined to move. I am wired to move. Movement hurt.

There’s always a “but” in stories like these. And mine came when my mother introduced me to Rodney Yee’s back care video (on VHS). It was a chair yoga sequence. Back then, chair yoga wasn’t a thing. No one talked about it. And it definitely wasn’t offered at local gyms. I didn’t think much of it. I just practiced it, and some of my pain lessened. Yet, that introduction changed the trajectory of my entire life when I found myself battling a perinatal mood disorder and a brand new back injury at the exact same time in adulthood.

First, I found a teacher. (A video just wasn’t enough!) I can’t even remember her name thanks to CFS/ME and several years of sleep deprivation, but she was lovely!

And then I found a training.

I’ve been teaching ever since. My specialty? Adaptive family-centered yoga. Eight years later, I’m now working to make this kind of yoga accessible in my community. For my tribe. Because it didn’t just change the trajectory of my life; it has aligned me with God’s beautiful plans for a body that by the world’s standards is often “less than.”

Group Yoga

I’m a Christian. I yoga. And I highly recommend it to every single beautiful human that I meet.

I believe that the physical practice of yoga can be the foundation for a deeper relationship with the Lord. In a world full of busyness, we get to slow down and connect on the mat. We get to dig into the scripture we’ve perhaps just read – because there are no distractions. We get to praise God with our precious bodies. Bodies we have been gifted for such a time as this. Bodies crafted with limits and intent. Yes, yoga is my favorite way to worship; I crank up those Christian beats and move.

As I wrap up this post, I read the words in front of me again:

Invade the secular with the sacred.

Movement used to hurt all the time. Now, often, it doesn’t.

Do you believe that we can separate out the physical practice of yoga from it’s original religious roots? If yes, do you practice it? And if no, why do you believe this? I would love to hear more about your Christian walk, sweet friends.

We are better together, we are worthy of well, and we are made for so much more than we can imagine in this moment. Believe it. Receive it! Namaste.

xox J.

I love this post on the word “namaste,” by the way. It’s a beautiful word, that I personally take to the mat in my Christian practice. The light (God’s light) in me bows to the light (God’s light) in you. We are all the same.

We really are.

Are You Listening, Lord?

It’s sunny and 50 degrees Fahrenheit in beautiful Arizona. Yet, I’m sitting here deeply craving greater warmth. Do you ever find yourself in a space of wanting more, even though what you have is absolutely what you asked for? Yeah, me too. (I forgot to ask for sunshine and warmer weather – though I guess I already got the warmer weather part since we no longer live in the Northeast!)

I think that’s just a part of being human. We are unsettled by imperfection. Always striving for more thriving. And as Christians, it might be an even more prominent frustration – because we know that lack isn’t what we’re meant for; and there is a Kingdom beyond this one full of all the riches that will satisfy the soul.

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This was the last vacation I ever went on before my diagnosis with Melanoma in 2017. I remember craving sunshine then, too. My relationship with the sun is so different now – even though my Melanoma was most likely not from sun exposure, but from life with a chronic disease that leaves me more susceptible to wildness.

Oh, how hard it is to not be Home!

I heard myself whisper these words to the brilliant blue sky on my long walk the other morning. Words that I first began to say out loud to my husband during Melanoma, when awful days leaked into terrible nights into challenging days and on and on and on…

In reading Hope in the Dark these last few weeks, I still feel like it is a challenge to “not be Home” – to not be in the Kingdom of my Father where there is peace eternal. Yet, it’s here on earth that I’m learning so much. Like the idea that even though life isn’t perfect, it’s still good. And re-framing my circumstances so that when they get worse instead of better, I can respond (and increase my faith!) through awe, respect, reverence, and appreciation/gratitude.

Who knew that was even an option?!

(I’m sitting here re-framing right now, if I’m honest. Our Wild girl above is struggling immensely in school – and my response must remain gratitude for how far we’ve come. Even though my heart hurts.)

Part 1 of Hope in the Dark, what I studied last week, revolved around the idea that doubt grows us. And our God is all about growth.  (Cue chronic disease and special parenting. Growth space!) He’s also about relationship. Deeper faith and trust emerge from here… when we lean, when we listen no matter what.

Do you know what I did the least before Melanoma? Listen.

I prayed and prayed, and often heard what I wanted – but I didn’t really listen. Because God is a God of love and people. And when I returned to work part-time in 2017 (just prior to Melanoma) I was acting out of love… but not for all of His people. Truthfully, I was escaping our Wild – who does life with a severe anxiety disorder and struggles with sensory processing and who can rage in the blink of an eye… and I was tired.

God is God, and we have limits.

What He taught me through Melanoma is that He does not. I believe He used cancer to reignite my passion for motherhood, for His people who are in dark seasons of life, and for Him. The Lord let me stay; Melanoma didn’t take my life.

He was listening, even when I was not.

Six months into the Melanoma journey, I retired from ministry and came back to motherhood. Here, I continue to grow.

Wherever you’re at, I promise, you can grow too.

I’m cheering you on.

Until next time!

xox J.