Counting Our Blessings

Christmas Eve plans included going over to our Pastor’s house to fellowship and enjoy playing games. Rachel and Abbey had to run an errand and they took the little car and would meet us at our Pastor’s house around six that evening.

We had a wonderful time eating snacks and lots of desserts, playing games, and laughing together. The teens and young people were in the front room enjoying games and the adults were in the kitchen around the table playing trivia games and getting to know each other better. Anna and Zak were in the den playing with the kid toys and enjoying the ‘new’ toys more than you can imagine!

We started wrapping up the evening around a quarter to nine. I was helping Anna put all the toys back and Rob was trying to keep Zak in line as we got ready to go. Rachel came and told me her and Abbey were leaving. I told them that we would be leaving shortly. Our plans were that we would unwrap one gift before bed. (Something Anna kept reminding me of as we finished putting the last toys in the tote and finding her jacket.)

We got the little kids buckled into their seats and James climbed in the back with the leftover desserts in his hand. I looked at the clock as we backed out of the parking spot, the clock read: 9:10. I picked up m cell phone to call Rachel and tell her that the door was locked at the house but that we would be there shortly to let her in. I noticed as I got ready to dial her number that I had missed a call. Just then I heard someone calling for us and running towards the van with a cell phone. It was the Pastor’s daughter.

I watched as Rob was talking on the phone and could hear Rachel on the other end; but could not make out what she was saying. Rob did not look too alarmed and then handed the phone to me after he told her to tell me where she was. He told me to find out where she was. The pastor’s daughter asked him if Rachel was OK. I heard him tell her that he was sure she was and that we needed to find her.

Rachel’s voice was extremely calm as she told me that she had wrecked the car. I assumed that she was in the ditch somewhere and was not too concerned. I told her that she needed to tell me where they were. She said she was not sure. The fog was so thick. I told her that we were pulling out of the driveway and asked her which way we needed to turn. She told me and I told Rob. Then I asked her what was wrong with Abbey. (I could hear her crying in the background.)

Rachel told me that Abbey had hit her head. I told Rachel that I was not going to get off the phone with her and to tell Abbey that we were on our way to them. (Still I was just assuming that they were in a ditch somewhere up the road a ways and wanted them to know that we were coming for them.) I told Rachel to tell Abbey that we were coming. Rachel said she was on the ground. I asked her where she had hit her head. Rachel said, “I don’t know. I think it was when the airbags went off.”

Suddenly, my paradigm changed! I questioned, “The airbags went off?”

“Yes, and I hit a tree. There is a lady with Abbey right now and they called 911.”

I put the phone down over my chin and told Rob that they had hit a tree, the airbags had gone off and 911 had been called. He looked concerned. I then asked Rachel which way I needed to turn at the upcoming intersection. She said she was not sure. She was all turned around in the fog. I asked her to put on the lady that was helping Abbey.

I questioned the lady as to their location. She told me where they were and I instructed Rob that he needed to turn around. Rachel had made a wrong turn and it was down the other road. I heard a lot of voices and a lot of confusion, and then Rachel was back on the line. She seemed disoriented. I assured her that we were almost there.

Then we saw the flashing lights.

They were getting the body board out of the ambulance and I had to will myself to stay in the van until Rob got it over to the side of the road. I ran to Abbey who was behind the car and crying in the grass. The paramedics were working on her. As I ran up to Abbey I saw Rachel run into Rob’s arms.

“I am her mother, and I am not leaving her side, “ I heard myself addressing the paramedic who was holding Abbey’s neck in place and telling her to focus on her breathing. I then sat by Abbey and told her it was going to be OK. I remember asking the man in uniform if she had been thrown from the vehicle and they assured me she had not. I helped them role her onto the board and helped Velcro the neck brace into place and watched as they taped her head into a stationary position.

I knelt in the grass and talked to her. I told her to think of her favorite Bible verse and promised her God was with her. I listened to her cry; and told her God was with her and to breathe deeply. She kept telling me that her head hurt. I called our Pastor’s wife to tell her what was going on; and handed the phone to Rob for him to give Pastor directions as to where we were – I was not sure. I knew that Pastor was on his way.

I was completely at peace. I was not shaking or crying and I felt God was right there with us. Overwhelming peace filled my heart. A total peace I can not explain. God is good.

As I was walking along the stretcher toward the ambulance I saw the State Trooper asking Rachel what happened. She explained that she had gotten turned around and could not tell where she was with fog. She was trying to get back to our Pastor’s house so she could get her bearings and figure out which way it was to home. While she was trying to find the correct street she did not see the curve and went off the road and into the tree. He asked her if they had been wearing their seat belts and Rachel assured him that they both had them on at the time of the accident. The officer told her that it was not her fault. The fog was so thick that night the ambulance had almost missed the curve coming to the scene. He informed her that he was glad she and Abbey were OK and that he would not be issuing a citation because she had not been negligent or reckless in her driving.

Abbey continued to be in a lot of pain as they worked on stabilizing her breathing and blood pressure. It appeared that we were looking at possibly a broken leg or shoulder. I was thankful that we were not looking at a life or death situation and I went out and told Rachel, Rob and Pastor that Abbey was doing OK. They allowed me to ride in the ambulance with them to the hospital. Rob followed behind. Pastor and a couple of his daughters took Zak, Anna and James home. Rachel had been treated and realeased by the paramedics, and was sent home with the others to rest.

X-rays were done and Christmas Day arrived while we were sitting in the ER room waiting for the results. The doctor came in and told us that Abbey was very lucky – no broken bones. He also told her she was going to be very sore for the next week. She was then were released to go home to the other family waiting for us.

Christmas morning started late for us this year. All of us slept in. When it was time to unwrap the gifts under the tree there was a different attitude amongst all of us. A reality that this day almost did not happen was understood by all. James read the Christmas story this year, “Unto us a child is born…”

I sat and listened and prayed and thanked God that we were all together as a family this Christmas day. It was a somber and thankful day. One I can not describe in words.

That afternoon we went to the crash scene and saw where it all had taken place the night before. We talked with the neighbors who had come out and helped our girls from the moment they heard the car hit the tree. We told them ‘thank you.’ We listened as they told us that there have been at least 10 other cars who have missed that curve without the fog that had been there the night before. They were glad we had stopped by and let them know the girls were OK. We handed them a tract with the plan of salvation and invited them to church.

I thanked God as we drove away from the curve that could have cost my girls their lives and thanked God that He had spared them and kept them with us this Christmas. I was thankful that we would not bury another daughter in December and that Anna’s birthday would be celebrated in two days – not just endured under the cloud of grief.

The car is gone; but my girls are still here. That is fine with me.

I have been thrilled to watch my girls become closer through this crisis. There have been lots of tears, lots of prayers and the last few days have been savored. Being together as a family is not something that is guaranteed for tomorrow – or for the next hour even.

Everyday is a gift. Life is a gift from God. So thankful that He has more plans for my girls and that He allowed them to stay with us longer.

Hug your children; and cherish another day with them. Thanks for stopping by – I am so glad you did!




We have never 'done' Santa Clause with our children.  While I can not and will not judge my friends who 'do' Santa; Rob and I have just never been able to come right out and tell our kids that there is a someone who there isn't

However, we have not been anti Santa either.  We will watch a holiday movie that has a Santa theme and we talk to the kids about the story of Santa, always making sure we tell them that it is a story.  (There are many Santa history stories; but overall the ones I have heard make me believe that it is a wonderful story - and has been made into something more than it ever was in real life.)    So, our version of the Santa story has been that there was a man years and years ago who made sure all the children in his village received something on Christmas morning.  His generosity and love to the children are the parts of the story that we tell the kids that we love so much about this history / story of Santa.  Our kids have grown up knowing 'about' Santa - but not believing 'in' Santa. 

Through the years as the children were growing up they would ask us if we believed in Santa Clause and we would tell them the story and then tell them that we believe in the spirit (the heart giving attitude of this man named Santa from years gone by) but that he does not exist anymore in real life.  That has been our story and how we have handled and 'done' Santa.  That was true for Rachel.  That was how we told Abbey about Santa.  When James asked his questions about Santa that is how we handled them.  Then there was Zak and even with his limited understanding at times he understood the story and history of Santa.

Then there was Anna...

She asked the believe question.  We answered her in our well thought out and, up until now,  successful way.  She had asked us if we believed in Santa last year during the Christmas holiday.   We gave her our explanation and concluded with:   "While we don't believe in Santa, we love the story of his heart for giving and we believe in the spirit of Santa."

This did not suffice.  She came right out and asked the question:   "Well, is there really a Santa Clause?" 

No problem.  We can handle this question.  We gave her the facts. 

"No, Anna.  There is not a Santa now; it's just a make believe story from something that happened years and years ago.  There is no Santa now it is just a pretend story that is fun to hear."

I expected that to be the end of it in her three year old little mind.  I was wrong.

"So there is no Santa?" She was probing. 

Rob was gentle; but very firm:  "No, there is no Santa.  It is just a story that some people pretend." 

She went on, "Then you and Mommy don't believe in Santa?"

Rob confirmed to her that we did not believe in Santa, "That's right, Anna.  There is no such thing as Santa Clause."

Then Anna, sounding more like she was eight and had believed in the story for her entire life said, "Well, I believe..."

It threw us.  None of the other kids had 'believed' in that sense of the word.  It was not part of our Christmas traditions or celebrations.

Her insistence on Santa's reality continued.  This is how it was the entire holiday season last year.  She told all of our friends she believed.  She told Rob she believed.  She told me that she believed.  Never, not one time, did we go along with this mindset she had.  We told her the truth and she told us what she believed.  Over and over again. 

Then, she saw him!  At the grocery store.  In Mayville, Wisconsin no less!   She ran up to him and told him that she knew he was real and needed her picture taken so she could show her Dad that he did exist.

She carried in the 'proof' to Rob when she ran in with the picture from Piggly Wiggly!  The holiday season ended last year by taking down the picture and her telling Rob once again that he really did exist.

It was all the same this year.  She told me that she did believe in Santa as we put up the Christmas trees.  She told me that she loved Santa and that she knew he would come and bring her presents this year. 

I could bear it no longer.  I put the other kids to bed and told her that I needed to talk to her.  Hot chocolate sat in the mugs in front of us and with the Christmas lights twinkling and the house was completely quiet I had her full and complete attention.  I looked her right in the eye and told her that Santa was not real.  That it was a nice story but it was not real.  Just pretend.

"Like, Strawberry Shortcake?"

I nodded, "Yes, like Strawberry Shortcake."

"Oh, I know that, Mommy." 

I explained that I wanted her to know the truth.  We went to bed with me surprised at how much she understood and how well she took that. 

Then, we went to the mall today to get her hair cut.  Santa was there.  She wanted to see him.  I caved in and said that we could.  We stood in line and waited for our turn.  We waited for 15 minutes.  Finally, we were at the front of the line - the next ones to see him.  She has been so excited.  Suddenly, she got really quiet.  The boy behind her said that it looked like his beard was real - not fake.

That did it.  She looked up at me and told me she did not want to do this.  I was surprised at her reaction. She still was insistent that she wanted to go. 

Then, she turned around and looked at the family behind us, "I don't even believe in Santa!"  She was matter fact and to the point.  The father of the family asked her if she was just scared.  She shook her head no and said it again, "I don't even believe in Santa!"  Then she turned to me, "What am I doing here?  I don't even believe."  She then took my hand and pulled it to go. 

The man smiled at her as I excused ourselves from leaving the line.  Anna looked right up at him and said, "I am going to go tell my Daddy what I want for Christmas.  It works the same way."

We then walked away and head toward Chick Fil A where Daddy was working.  When Dad came out she ran up to him and told him all about what she wanted for Christmas.  She had quite a list. 

Somehow watching Rob holding her and listening as she talked to him about her Christmas wishes I thought, "Finally, it is how it should be."  Somehow in her mind today it all came together.  As Rob kissed her and told her he had to get back to work I was thankful that we had been insistent upon the truth; but glad we were willing to explain to her the story; but even more thankful that we allowed for her to come to her belief on her own. 

Perhaps I learned a life lesson today, I can't make my children believe truth; but I can be confident in truth as I present it to my children.  I think that when they come to believe something on their own -then it is truly their belief - not mine.  Something to remember for the future - with this one, I think I am going to need this life lesson.  LOL. 

Trust you are enjoying and building memories with your family this weekend.


Autisms' Handicap

My heart has been grieved as I have followed the news here this past week.  My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the victims.

As I read the reports coming in concerning the shooter what I heard concerned me greatly.  I did not need to hear the word "Aspergers" or "Autism" to know that the man they were describing struggled with issues that I completely understand.  (avoided touch, socially shy, wore only certain clothing etc.)  I knew before the news even put it out that there was an autistic spectrum disorder that would be revealed as more information became available.

I was tuned in to facebook when Autism Speaks issued their statement about concerns for future issues that other autistic children will have to deal with because this mad man had a label that they too carry.  I agree totally that Autism should not be blamed in this rampage. 

I thought of the shooter's own mother.  It sounds as if the past weeks had been terribly difficult for her as she tried to make decisions that would be best for her son and his special needs.  My heart goes out to her. 

Understanding autism because it is part of our everyday life makes this a little closer to home.   I have felt the need to write a post in regards to this matter, because it is something that deeply concerns me.  Right now, 1 in every 88 children are diagnosed with autism.  That statistic concerns me.  I am torn on that fact also.  I do believe that there can be an over diagnosis of this spectrum disorder and that bothers me.  However, because early intervention is so important I do understand the swing of the pendulum in that direction.  So, I do think the numbers may not be completely accurate.

This is what has caused me the greatest concern:  the knee jerk reaction that comes with a label.  I am not a label person and any of our friends could have told you how hesitant we were to attach a label to Zak and his issues. However, the label did give us some understanding of what we were dealing with and why normal procedures were not producing the same results as we had seen in our other children.  So, with that said a label was helpful.  Unfortunately, what I have seen a lot of times is that labels are handed out and with the label comes a whole list of excesses for why the child behaves the way he/she does.  This is dangerous.  We have children given these labels and then we have parents who suddenly attribute anything the child does that is unacceptable to the label.  (Jr won't eat his applesauce - it is the sensory issues and the autism, get him something else to eat.  He won't eat that.)

I have seen this happen so many times.  I have been guilty of doing this in the past - and I am sure that I will be in the future too.  It is one of those fine lines that we parents of special needs children walk.  Sometimes it is hard to understand when the behaviour is part of the condition, and when we cross the line and become enablers to bad behaviour.  I feel it very pertinent to address this issue.

We can not handicap our children with their handicap!  When we excuse bad behaviour because of their issues we are on a dangerous slope that goes down a good long way!  Just because my son has autism does not mean that he can not learn to obey.  (It does mean that they path to teach obedience is a lot longer than it is for the normal child!) 

At the base of this shooting in Connecticut was not an autistic person - it was a willful person who had not learned (or would not learn?) right from wrong.  (I am not saying his mother did not teach him right from wrong or failed to discipline.  I have no idea of his home life.)  At the root of this shooting was a person who wanted to do what he wanted to do.  I do understand the issue of mental health (and I have trouble saying Autism should fall under a mental health label.)  If however, there are mental health issues that show that a person can not abide by certain moral standards ( like not hurting other people or themselves) then drastic decisions need to be made for the safety of everyone involved.  This is something that most mental health doctor's are hesitant to do.  However, drastic situations sometimes demand drastic solutions, and parents of these types of children need to be listened to in the mental health circles of health care.  (Another post - another time.) 

Just because my son has autism does not mean that he ceases being a sinner.  He still is selfish and willful - just like all of my other children.  He is at a greater disadvantage and one that makes it imperative that I realize that I can not make excuses for his behaviour.  Because of limited cognisance on so many levels a special needs child will go to great lengths to get what he wants.  Some of the greatest manipulators are special needs children!  (I don't say this mean - it is amazing to watch how they can get what they want even with limited reasoning skills.) 

It is for this reason that we as parents of special needs children need to be vigilant to teach and to train.  Special needs children must have before them constantly a reality of right and wrong.  They must be taught what behaviour will be tolerated and which ones will not.  We cannot as parents feel sorry for our children and excuse wrong behaviour because of their label.  I hate that Zak has autism!  If I could do something to take the autism label away I would; but if I treat him like a victim of this horrible ailment and don't go into overdrive to constantly teach him right and wrong and do my best to make sure every negative behaviour results in a negative consequence I am severely handicapping him with more than autism.

It is easier for parents to grab the label and hold onto it with all their might.  I must fully embrace that Zak's greatest issue is not his autism - it is his willful selfish sinful nature.  The same willful selfish nature that all my children processes.  That is the greatest handicap; and when left unchecked or excused will limit any child in life especially a child with special needs or mental issues.

I boldly say that we must be vigilant to teach our children right from wrong.  If our child has special issues that means those lessons will need to be taught over and over and over again.  This is our greatest obstacle with a special needs child.  If in time a special needs child starts to reach the upper teen years or adulthood and can not grasp the concepts of  right and wrong then it is time for us to understand that they are a detriment to society and to themselves. 

They can not be integrated into society if they can not learn and govern themselves on moral issues. (This also seems to be the conclusion that the mother of the shooter had reached herself.) 

We must realize that we can not continue to handicap our children with their handicap.  We must rise to the occasion and say that we must be vigilant to teach them; and if there comes a time when we realize that they are incapable of knowing and acting upon doing right then serious decisions need to be made to protect them and the welfare and lives of other people. 

We must teach all children, normal and special, that they must obey!  Their future and possible the future of many others depends upon it. 

Today I will Remember

Today I will remember. 

Today I will be thankful for every single day we had with her.  I will cherish that memory.

Today I will relalize and meditate.

I will dwell on the reality that God uses the hard things in life to mold us.

Today I will give thanks. 

Thank you God that I know you better than I did fifteen years ago this day.  Thankful that I have experienced your healing of a broken heart.  Thankful that Heaven is so much more a reality. 

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

~Laura Mixon Story

A New Chapter

Last week I flew to Denver to meet a lady I had only spoken to on the phone.  We had never met face to face.  We had talked, however, from our hearts and our hearts share something very special.  Each of us has lost a baby suddenly due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Both of us have experienced what it is like to have life change in an instant.  Everything about life to feel out of order and out of control; and each of us has found that God can heal and restore and bring good from such a terrible situation.

So, last week, we met face to face.  We talked.  We cried.  We planned.

After her son died from SIDS Cheryl and her husband started what is now known as SIDS America.  A non-profit, faith based organization to help parents who are grieving the same loss that they had encountered.

I have no doubt that God allowed our paths to cross and after much prayer and a lot of conversations, we believe with certainty that God has called to me work with SIDS America!  It is a ministry I am excited to become a part of.

I will be handling the support services of SIDS America.  I will be talking with families as they grieve the loss of their baby and obtaining resources needed to help these families.  My husband and I will be doing marriage counseling together with couples when the need arises. I will be writing bi-weekly for the SIDS America blog in an effort to put out written work that is readily available for grieving parents. 

I wanted to share this new venture with you my readers and ask you to pray.  Pray that God will use me in this ministry for His glory and honor.  Pray that my words will point grieving parents to Him. 

It was my prayer the moment I walked into Ally's room and saw my husband doing CPR on her that God would allow me to use this for His glory.  The position with SIDS America is an answer to my prayers and I trust God will be magnified through my ministry there.

Thanks for your prayers for me and I begin my new journey.

Jesus in Pink

Last Christmas someone gave us an old fashioned nativity scene to set up outside.  I was thrilled with the donation.  So, this year we got the Christmas decorations out I was quite excited to put up the nativity set in the front yard.   We pulled the shepherd out of the box and then the three wise men.  Anna asked what their names where and we named each one of the four men. 

Then we pulled out the family.  Mary first and Anna kissed her.  (Awkward; but true)  Then came Joseph.  He did not receive a kiss on the cheek; but she rubbed his head and looked at him closely.  Then the manger was set up and at the bottom of the box sat the plastic baby that represents the Holy Baby.  Anna was jumping with joy as we placed the baby in the wooded manger frame. 

She then sat down beside him and pulled him from the manger and tenderly began rocking him back and forth and telling him how much she loved him.

I finished plugging them all into the outlet and then headed in to put boxes away from the indoor decorating.  It was several hours later when Rob came home from work that I noticed the manger.  I could not see the baby; but rather a pile of coats and blankets.  Anna had wrapped up the baby.  Rob and I walked over, smiled and I picked up the coats and brought them inside and hung them all back up.  (Anna was in bed).

The next day I was walking out to get the mail and I found the same pile of coats on the manger.  This time a hat was securely tied on the baby lying warmly beneath ALL the coats.  This scenario has happened several times.  Anna just can not stand to see the baby in the manger without something to cover him up and make him warm. 

I am done taking in the coats and hats.  We have found one that fits around the baby and a fleece scarf that covers him up nicely.  Anna was insistent that it be HER coat and hats that keep the baby warm. 

So, if you drive by our house.  Enjoy the nativity scene.  You will not be able to see the baby in the manger; but you will see that this year the manger is filled with pink.  Somehow I think that God does not mind that the plastic baby representing Emmanuel is wearing pink this year.  If per chance, you drive by during Anna's play time you will not see her jumping on the trampoline, rather she is will be sitting by the nativity set singing to her baby and telling him how much she loves him.  My prayer is that someday soon she will realize just how much He loves her!

Oh, to love Him that dearly!
Thanks so much for stopping by.  I am so glad you did!