For Meghan, You Were Wonderfully Made

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I have sat here for a very long time, wondering what I should type.  What could I say to even do justice to really truly describe the amazing woman who was our friend, Meghan.  Sometimes when things happen like this, words seem empty or even scarce.  I have thought about Meghan and her family a lot this weekend as I know many of you have as well.  We all loved her.  She was a friend, an inspiration, a mother, wife, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, a Breast Cancer Warrior, amazing writer, a giver, a Red Phoenix Rising.  So I decided to write a tribute blog post to her.  My blog is all about Living Wonderfully Made, and boy did Meghan emulate that.  So, here it is…..

Meghan, Red Phoenix,

There is no one way to describe you, but there are many instances that describe who you were to so many people.  Over the past two years I have watched a woman who fought with everything she had not only to fight against cancer, but to bring more kindness into the world.  See, Meghan, that is who you were…. You were kindness.  Your infectious smile and your beautifully written words to describe some of the hardest things to have to write about was nothing short of talent.  Your beautiful little boy is an example of the love you and your husband had together and he I know will not only grow to be a strong man one day, but also will grow to continue on your legacy of kindness, because, you instilled that in him.  Your love for people was apparent in the continued stories that we all read of how you impacted so many.  

As I close my eyes to picture you in my mind, I think about the times we spent playing softball, little girls just wanting to have fun, get dirty, and play!  Over the years we all grew up, moved on, and started our families.  Your friendships to those closest to you remained strong as you always knew how to make your friends feel special.  I know this only because it is so apparent in how they talk about you.  You were special to them Meghan, you were their treasured friend.  Your family, now, this is where I get emotional, because oh Meghan, you were so special to them.  The “Brown Sister’s”  wow what a Foursome you all are.  Each of you so unique, kind, special, and absolutely BEAUTIFUL in your own unique ways.  I loved seeing your times together.  A special bond of four amazing sisters that death can never take away.  

Meghan you left us with a gift.  Your presence on this Earth, even though we all feel it ended way too soon, your presence was a gift.  Your continued crusade for spreading kindness and love is a gift that we all treasure.  You have impacted so many and it will never be forgotten.  

On sandy shores in Heaven, I am picturing you walking next to Jesus holding His hand and talking with Him about kindness and love.  Meghan I know you are not here on Earth, but in Heaven you will be waiting for the ones that miss you so dearly here.  A Red Phoenix Rising up above the clouds and flying towards a warm sunshine in the distance.  You were a true example of what it means to LIVE Wonderfully Made, because Meghan, you were oh so wonderful! 

 

If you all would like to read more about Meghan’s Journey about who she was and read her blog I please URGE you to click on this link to read more about her and GIVE.  Her family will need our support for the future.  Let’s all continue Meghan’s legacy of kindness and love by giving to her family.  You can click on the link below to do so.

“I Am Red Phoenix” Blog and Link to Give:(Copy & Paste Link)

http://www.iamredphoenix.com/give

 

 

Our Extra Special Valentine’s

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It never ceases to amaze me the moments that come around when navigating a new journey.  Especially experiencing all the emotions that come with it.  This week was one of those times where I felt like time just stood still and I was truly in the moment faced with another eye-opening and sobering experience.  Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, a holiday that I am not that fond of because to me, you should be expressing Love to your husband or wife everyday like it is Valentine’s Day.  This Valentine’s Day though changed my mind about what it means in my life and proved to be an extra special day for my husband and I.

Wyatt had his very first Valentine’s Day Party at his School and we were invited to join in!  Wyatt is in a Special Education classroom that has 2 special education aides and 1 special education teacher.  These ladies are a blessing and I can’t express how much I just love them and how they love my son on a daily basis.  The other children in Wyatt’s class are like him and have a diagnosis of Autism.  We were given the opportunity to not only partake in our son’s day, but in their day as well!  My husband and I were the only two parents that made it to the party.  Many parents are not as lucky as we are.  Many work during the day and probably don’t have as  much flexibility in their work schedules to take time off for special events like these.  It was all the more reason for us to take this experience in and just love on all these kiddos!  I felt really honored to be there.

During the party we sat with everyone during snack and got an inside look at therapy in action.  Wyatt and his peers receive a modified more flexible version of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy which is a therapy that has proven to be the best for children with Autism.  During the day Wyatt and his peers are asked to request for what they want repetitively so that they develop speech and develop other areas of everyday functioning.  It is designed to help these amazing kiddos find their voice.

I became very emotional watching as Wyatt and his peers worked SO hard to sit through snack, request, and “interact.”  During the time we were there for his party I was amazed and just filled with pure love and joy watching these kids work hard and manage all the sensory input that was being thrown at them.  At times it became very overwhelming for some, while others, like Wyatt were oblivious and in their own world.  As a parent I experienced a variety of emotions watching this all unfold.  Sadness, heartbreak, joy, pride, but, most of all LOVE.

I can’t help but think about how much we as “typical” human beings take for granted in our everyday lives.  The ability to do everyday tasks at ease as well as just experience the world around us at ease.  Those with developmental and physical disabilities don’t experience that.  Everything is work for them.  Which makes them extra-ordinary and in my eyes the most amazing Human beings.

Valentine’s Day for me will never be the same again and this is why.  I had NO IDEA the plan God had for me when we were faced with the diagnosis of Autism with Wyatt.  I still have no clue what the full plan is, but it is slowly coming into formation.  My love and admiration for those with special needs is growing and it has started because of my son.  Every year on Valentine’s Day it is my goal to make these extra special kiddos feel extra special love, I am not sure what that will look like, but I am sure God has a plan for it.  My definition for Valentine’s  Day has changed in my mind.  Yes, it is for showing your significant other love on that day, but I think for me, it will be about having many extra special valentine’s not only just my son, but for his peers as well.

 

Live Wonderfully Made!

-Carolyn

Soldier On Momma…

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Sitting in a diner with my coffee refilled for the fifth time, (yes I drink that much), I am depleted to say the least with my eyes puffy from crying myself to sleep the night before.  This journey is not what I planned.  Another rough patch we are experiencing in our special needs parenting journey.  The pain, the anger, and lack of knowing what the right thing to do comes flooding back in and yet I keep soldiering on, because that is what us Momma’s do right?  We pick ourselves back up and keep walking through the messes.  We continue to go on with our day regardless of the fact that we haven’t showered, done our hair in days or did that workout that we told ourselves we were going to do the day before.  We get up and go to work during the day or at night and then come home to laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, meal planning, and the role of supportive wife on top of all that.

Someday’s I get it right and someday’s I don’t.  This week I did not.  Navigating the world my son lives in and how he experiences it still is an adjustment.  The increased withdrawing, meltdowns, and lack of connection this week has broken my heart.  I am continuing to learn daily what works for him and what doesn’t.   I am not even a year into his diagnosis so what do I expect?  Perfection?  NO!  Of Course I can’t.  I just have to keep going, keep learning, keep pushing, because that is what WE do as Momma’s!  We soldier on!

I know there is another Momma out there reading this who is feeling depleted.  Feeling like the weight of the world and her family is on her shoulder’s.  I say to you and myself, “Keep Soldiering on Momma!”  Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the fact that you just can’t seem to get it all right….know that you CAN make it!  We have to make it!  Being a soldiering Momma is not easy but it is definitely worth it!  You are enough, you are loved, I believe in you, and so does God!  Below I wanted to share some verses that I have leaned on this week to help push me through and keep soldiering on.  I hope that you can read these and feel the love of God empowering you to continue to be the best Momma to those littles just like you always have been!  I am calling these my “Soldier On Momma Verses”

 

Soldier On Momma Verses:

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”                   -James 1:12 NIV

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” -Philippians 4:13

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11

 

A Letter to Depression

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One of the things that many people know about me is that I am pretty open and honest with the things I go through in life.  I share my story and I share it only because I want desperately for those who need to hear it draw some strength for themselves by hearing it.   My openness about my life is not always received well but I think of that as the enemy getting angry at the fact that God is using my pain to help someone else.  If you aren’t met with resistance then, well, you aren’t doing it right.  So today, I am sharing with you something that I have struggled with for the majority of my teen and adult life, Depression.  It has been something that has come and gone and I have fought it and won in various seasons of my life.  Over the past year with all the changes and new paths that my family and I have been on, it has decided to come along for the ride.  It wasn’t until recently that I decided that I needed to seek some help for it.  Yes, you heard that right.  A Christian woman who loves the Lord is seeking help for depression.  It is a very real thing that many people don’t understand and often feel like you just need to “get happy, count your blessings….etc”  If it were that simple, trust me I would be jumping on that!  I am not new to this road so I know exactly when it has crossed over to the path of no return and when I need a hand to pull myself out.  So today I am taking that first step.  I also decided to write a letter to Depression to put it on notice and declare war on it.

I am sharing this not for sympathy or attention because I don’t want or need it.  I am sharing this because I want to help someone else who may need to crawl out of this darkness themselves.  So please read, share, and tell others that you think may need to hear this.  Thank you and remember to LIVE WONDERFULLY MADE!

 

Dear Depression,

I often don’t ever like to acknowledge you because I feel that gives you power, but I want you to know how I feel about you so you will no longer feel the need to stick around.  You have plagued me for too long.  Through most of my adult life you have felt the need to pop into my life during times of change or even times when I was trying to find my way in peace.  You leach on and suck the life out of me, sometimes I can’t even think!  I am so tired all the time, but yet you won’t let me sleep.  You steal life, kill my spirit and drive wedges between the most important relationships in my life.  You are nothing but a big black cloud that follows me around.  I have fought you and cried about you over the years and quite frankly I am just sick of you!  So I say, NO MORE!  I am not going to fight you with tears, medication, or sleeping my life away.  Nope, I am going to fight you with the most powerful things of all.  The LOVE of Christ that resonates deep in me.

Yes, the power of prayer and the living God Himself will help me defeat you.  I will be eliciting the help of counselors, friends, family, and my inner light.  That light shines brighter than any darkness that you could bring.  God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).  I will laugh in your face and change those hopeless thoughts into a flood of hope and courage.  I refuse to let circumstances define me or let you rule my mind.  I am sure this will all take time but your days are numbered depression.   Mark my words, you have NO power in my life.  Life is too short and precious.

You see, I have a precious family.  Yes, we go through hard times, but you know what, our LOVE is stronger and deeper than you could ever imagine.  Lets just call it what you are, you are evil, you are the devil trying to steal, kill, and destroy me!  You may think you have the power to do that, but my Savior came so that I may have life.  My family has my back, my GOD has my back and most of all I AM stronger than you think.  The strength that lies within me is often underestimated by you, but I have made it through a lot and I will continue to do so.  I will never stop fighting.  I know all your tricks.  I have been dealing with you for a while.  My God is bigger and smarter and honestly so am I!  My heart, soul, and LOVE for my family is big, broad, and never-ending.

I will end this letter with this…. “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You make your saving help my shield; your help has made me great.  You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.  I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.  I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.”      – 2 Samuel 22:33-39

– Carolyn

Momma, Oh How Sweet The Sound…

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Being a Momma is something that when my husband and I decided to start trying to get pregnant was just an idea and dream in my mind.  I look back at that time and just remember having all these thoughts about what it would be about, how it would feel, and so many other things.  I think as an expectant first time momma, you never really can truly grasp the full impact that it will have on your life until it actually comes true!  No matter the stories other women would tell me or the explanation of how I could feel was shared with me, you don’t truly know until… it happens!

Then Wyatt came bounding into this world!  My first year as a Momma proved to be challenging because well let’s be honest there is a LOT to learn!  There is no manual!  I gave up my career and any sense of financial comfort to be home with him.  We decided this was the best for our family.  I have over the past 2 1/2 years, had various part-time jobs that worked around the schedule I needed and that has been a blessing.  Thank goodness for God’s opening of doors in that area.  As we made our way towards year number 2 in Wyatt’s life, my husband and I started to share the same concern that something wasn’t right with Wyatt.  He was…well…different.  From February 2016 to May 2016 we went thru the Early Intervention process, then in May of 2016 Wyatt was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder ( I hate the word disorder, because it isn’t a disorder, it is a way of life. But that is for a whole other blog post.)  The word momma took on a whole other meaning when that diagnosis entered our world.  A whole new set of responsibilities and struggles fell into our laps.  There is a weight that a special needs momma feels when navigating the special needs world.  There is this constant question in your mind that you keep asking, “Am I making the right choices?”  “Is this the best for my son?”  I mean it is CONSTANT!  My husband and I have been BLESSED with some amazing advocates, friends, therapists, doctors and County Workers to guide us in decision-making.  I find it truly amazing that thru this whole process God literally placed very specific people into our lives when we needed them.  I consider that a modern-day miracle.  The series of events and people who came into our lives at this difficult time were PERFECT!

The only word Wyatt said from about 18 months to about 24 months was “Dada.”  Now that melts my heart because my husband and Wyatt are two peas in a pod!  I mean they are best buddies!  I loved that he would say “Dada” even if he would literally use that word for everything.  Many other “words” or sounds that correlate with a meaning of a word have come thru with a lot of speech therapy.  Sign Language has become a beacon of hope in our home.  Sometimes this is the only form of communication that Wyatt will respond to or use.  So props to American Sign Language you are a life-saver!  With all of this progress, there has been one missing word that my heart just craved to hear.  That word was “Momma, Mommy, Mom”  ANYTHING of the sort!!!  I mean, I KNEW that Wyatt knew I am his “person…”  his mom, but to hear that word come from his mouth directed my way was something I have been praying and craving!   So I have waited.  I have to give so much credit to Wyatt’s speech therapist.  He has had 2 amazing speech therapists!  His first in-home speech therapist was my sanity, my sounding board, my friend really!  The day we decided to move Wyatt into programming and end in-home therapy was bittersweet because that meant we had to say goodbye to her and hello to someone new!  But, you know God…He just does his thing and provides someone PERFECT for Wyatt!  She has been working so hard to help Wyatt continue to find his voice!  There are some good sessions and some not so good.  They are currently working very hard on developing sounds into words, continuing the use of sign language and working on interaction.  One word they have worked on is “Momma”  it is easier to say than “Mommy” I am assuming and they have been using the sign for it as well.  I have heard his speech therapist say that he has said it….and he has even said it with a lot of prompting, but it has never just come out of his mouth directed towards me as an interaction.  Until….yesterday, January 12, 2017!  A day I will always remember!

Everyday I drive Wyatt 40 minutes to school, wait 2 1/2 hours in the area, then drive him home another 40 minutes home.  5 days a week…it is worth it because he is so connected to his teachers, therapists, and quite frankly this school is just AMAZING!   So when I go to pick up Wyatt, I wait outside the classroom door that I can’t see in.  Wyatt is in a special needs preschool classroom.  It is called ELA 1 room.  He is in a class of maximum 8 students just like him with Autism or other developmental disabilities as well as 1 special education teacher and 2 special education aides.  Everyday I wait outside his classroom the anticipation for me is huge!  I can’t wait to see his face!  I know it is only 2 1/2 hours but I miss the little guy!  So, yesterday the door opens and I walk in… sure enough Wyatt looks right at me and makes the sign for “Momma” and says….wait for it…”MOMMA!”   I held back the tears and just squeezed him!  Oh how sweet that sound was that came from that tiny little beautiful mouth!  This tiny voice…”Momma.”  As I sit here and type this I am feeling the pure joy all over again.  Now, he hasn’t said it since without a lot of prompting but darn it, it is in there!!

I share this story today not only because I am just so darn excited to share it but because it is a testimony to God’s goodness and his listening to my broken heart.  This year has been a challenge, I have cried, laughed, screamed to God many times about this circumstance, but I am slowly growing into this role as special needs momma.  It is such an important role.  It is the MOST important role that I will EVER have in my entire life.  The role is a piece to my Living Wonderfully Made.  It is a role that I will continue to grow into and learn.  I have some amazing special needs momma’s in my life that thank goodness I walk down this road with.

Today, my cup is filled to the brim.  Wyatt, called me “Momma.”

Live Wonderfully Made

-Carolyn xoxo