Are You A Mom of Today?

Today-is-the-day-for-being-awesome-pillow

I am around people alot. I love people. I am an observer of people. They intrigue me, challenge me, infuriate me, and keep me accountable!

I am around those with disabilities because I am disability advocate and peer mentor. I am the director of the Spinal Cord Group here in Columbia. I love to volunteer with Joni and Friends ministry. If there is a disability out there, I have probably met it!

I am around women a lot. I lead our women’s ministry at church. I am a pastor’s wife. I speak at ladies functions. I am very active on social media and I get a lot of private messages and emails asking me questions and seeking advice.

I am around mom’s. I am a mom to 6 beautiful children! I am not an expert, but I do have a little experience. :)

I am around people. Just like me. Forget the physical disability. Mine is obvious. I am convinced we all have something in our lives that knocks us around. Maybe it is marriage issues. Maybe it is finances. Maybe infertility or a miscarriage. Maybe you are over your head in toddlerhood. Maybe your kids are grown and not living like you projected in your mind they would live. I don’t know, but I know we all have those areas.

We go through things in our lives that mess up our “mom moments”. It throws us off and we react in the moments. Our kids are there in those moments. They witness our every action – good and bad. If you live in depression, you have taken them with you into that moment. If you live with paralysis, you have taken them with you into that moment. If you are angry or discouraged, you have taken them there with you. Kids soak it all up!

I am writing this from my bed today. It is NOT one of my better days. Honestly, if I had my way, every time my kids opened my door to come talk to me, or to jump on the bed on my already hurting body, my mood says to “go out and play!” But….my kids aren’t having a rough day…unless I create one for them because of me. So, I have to ask myself if I am a good mom to drag my kids into my rough day? Or….maybe just maybe…if I concentrated on trying to keep their day good, it may actually help mine? I can assure you it does!!

I look at my kids and cannot believe how they have grown! I look to the past and think of the mom I was when they were little. For one, I was walking. I was more involved in the cleaning and cooking in my home than I am now. I had MUCH better health – I honestly hardly ever got sick! That is not the case now!

I look at my house and it seems there is always a project that needs done, fixed or started! I cannot keep up with them all. I look forward into the future and think of the days when they will not be in the house. The house will be clean. Finances won’t be as tight.

I have heard older women talk in disappointment about their kids and all they want to focus on is the childhood times. The stories are all of “when Johnny was a little boy, we used too…”Where is Johnny now? Did he outgrow needing his Mom? Are the only good days way back in the past? Are all of your spiritual times with your kids when they are 5 and 10? Kids never outgrow needing and desiring the love and admiration of their parents. I do not care how old you are. If you are a parent, be the parent. Take the lead and love those kids of yours – I do not care how old they are! Make a memory today. Take him out to lunch. Go to a car show with him. Don’t preach at him. Just enjoy him. That same little boy is in there and he needs cherished. 

I hear younger moms talk, and they cannot wait till their kids grow up! I hear them say things like, “I wish he would hurry and grow up so I can have some peace!” Or, middle age moms (I am afraid that is now me!) make statements like, “Only 1 more year and they will finally be off to college. Yeah!” What?!!

I have heard disabled moms say they can’t be a good mom now and they won’t ever be again until they get “healed”. Hogwash! I know moms with disabilities who are awesome moms and their kids don’t even know that there is even a problem because the mom’s have never let that be a problem. Hooray!

What are we telling our kids? I do not claim to be a child raising expert. Actually, I am clueless most of the time in this parenting thing, but I am a parent and I am someone’s child. So, when you put those two things together – I do have an opinion! Our moments tell our kids much.

My older kids do not need me telling them a bunch of stories of how I “used to be a better mom to them before my wheelchair.” They do not care about that! They need me to be a good mom to them today! They do not care about this wheelchair. They just need to know that I am just as committed to loving them today as I did in my yesterday’s. As a grown adult, I think my childhood stories are cute, but I desire parents in my today life – not the past one. Why will my kids be any different?

My teens need me just like my 5 year old needs me. Their needs look different, but they need me. I will encourage my kids when it is their time to leave my nest, but they will not feel an ounce of emotion that I want them to go! I love having them around, and I also love them learning to lead their own lives.

Being a mom is a constant array of emotions. In our heads, sometimes we do think how easy it was before we had 3 loads of laundry a day! In our heads we may imagine what it may actually be like to not have to buy new shoes all of the time for all of these feet that never quit growing! But, these are such little things in the whole life-long course of being a mom.

To me, the past was great but its over.

The future is unknown so don’t live there.

Today is today.

My kids need a mom that lives in the today’s with them. No matter how young or old they will ever be, they need a mom of today. 

To all you mom’s out there – enjoy today!!

Is It Okay To Be Sad?

Are You Feeling Sad-

We just celebrated Mother’s Day. What a wonderful day for me personally! I adore my family and am thankful that they took the time to make my day special. My Facebook news feed was overflowing with beautiful pictures, tributes and love for motherhood. However, it also had some sad stuff. There were Mom’s who were missing their children who have died. There were children who were missing Mom’s who had died. There were blogs from women who want children so desperately bad and sharing how Mother’s Day is a very hard day for them.

This past week, one of our children had a decision to make. We allowed this child to make this decision all on their own. They made it, were confident with their decision and acted upon it. The next day, however, this child was NOT happy. I knew something was wrong and I asked this child what was wrong. “Nothing,” was the cold reply. I asked them to my room and told them we weren’t leaving until they told me. This precious child then shared, in tears, how the decision that was made did not turn out as hoped.

The irony is that we had a fun evening planned with our kids. Everyone in the family was in a happy mood – excited over the family outing! All were happy – except this one child. I said, “Honey, that was the decision you made. Sometimes we have to live with our decisions.” To which my child replied, “Isn’t it okay to be sad?”

That is a good question isn’t it?

Recently, I heard knew of someone who was newly diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. They were receiving immediate treatment and a diagnosis and were going to recover. I would be lying to you if I did not think, “Why couldn’t that have been me?” It evoked a long series of text messages between and dear friend and I as we worked our way through that. It had made us both stop and relive some things. Thank God for precious friends!

There are always things in our life, that if we think about them, will immediately stab our hearts with pain. The Bible talks in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to mourn, and a time to laugh. I gave a talk once to a group of ladies not long after I had been paralyzed. I have always handled my heartaches with laughter – “a merry heart doeth good” right? As usual, I was telling a few funny stories to make all of us more comfortable and then I got into my talk. When I finished, this lady (who had known me since I was a child) said (condescendingly), “You act like you have fun being paralyzed!!” I totally was taken off guard by that. My first instinct was to scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” My second instinct was to say, “Would you have preferred I cried the entire talk?” My response though was, “Well, it is what it is and you make the best of it.” However, I left questioning myself. “Did I present honestly? Did I make it sound fun? Should I make my talks more sad?”

As my beautiful child looked at me, with tears streaming down their cheeks, asking me if it was okay to be sad, I prayed for wisdom. I immediately thought of this precious person recovering from Transverse Myelitis. Is it okay for me to be sad that I didn’t recover so well?

I gathered my hurting baby in my arms and said, “Yes, it is okay to be sad. But, we can’t let the sadness of yesterday ruin our happiness today.”

Life can be sad. Disabilities are sad. Broken homes are sad. Barren women are sad. Ruined relationships are sad. Bad health is sad. Death is sad. This broken world is sad. Is it okay to be sad? Yes, but we mustn’t let our sadness ruin our joy. 

Honestly, I am thrilled this young lady is recovering. I pray every day God will restore every single nerve in her body! God is just writing her story different from mine – that is all. I can go on in sadness, or I can rejoice in my blessings that God cares so much about each of our lives, that He personalizes our stories. No copies. A unique story written by the Master Author.

My child was sad. As his mom, I want my children to be happy. This child learned something though. He learned that his parents cared about his heart. He learned that life sometimes doesn’t go the way we like, and he learned that sadness is allowed but cannot control.

We must not wallow in our sadness. It can become a disease that strips us of gratitude, perspective and the simple beauty of looking around you and counting your own personal blessings. 

Are you feeling sad today?

  • Stop and thank God for 10 things in your life.
  • Focus on what you have that is happy.
  • Put the brakes on in your mind and turn those thoughts around.
  • Get your eyes on Jesus and all that He has done for you.

Praying your day is wrapped in the joy of the Lord!

To My Kids – On Mother’s Day

I have seen so many beautiful written pieces about what our mother’s have meant to us. I enjoy reading them! It is the time of year where all the sentiments about motherhood spring up like the flowers around us. For me, I will always be thankful for the love my own mother gave me throughout my childhood. I also know that my own children will be thinking of their own ways to show and tell me that they love me. But, today I want to write to my children about what mother’s day means to me.

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Dear Children,

I have a bunch of you – you know! Briley, you reminded me just last night that in a couple of months, you will all be 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, and 6. I can’t believe that is true! It was just yesterday when your daddy and I walked in the door of our home with our very first baby and I promptly set down and bawled my eyes out. I was too young to be a mom! This was too much responsibility! We should have thought this through longer! I was probably going to kill you or at least raise absolute heathens! I had no clue what I had gotten myself into and it all hit me – right then and there – as we walked in the door of our home on Oak Street. Your daddy compassionately shared that it was too late to have all those thoughts. He was right, so I was doomed to destroy your lives.

All these years later, I still feel like that many times. I look at your beautiful faces and I pray, “Oh God, please help me to do this right!!” Sometimes, I look at your ornery faces and pray, “Oh God, please help me not to kill them!” :) There is no way that I still feel “old enough” to be your mom. I am sure there are times when you are convinced I am not old enough. Embarrassing you really is fun at times!

Many times, I am a bluff job. I have to act like the mom and that I know exactly what I am doing until I figure out how to handle something right. Many times, I don’t bluff and I come off at you – all totally wrong!! I handle things unfairly, I am too quick to judge you, or I am careless about what is important to you and don’t pay enough attention.

My sweet young’uns, you have taught me WAY more about life than I have ever taught you. When I have blown it, you have taught me how easily you forgive. When I have a bad day, you have taught me what compassion looks like. When I have been sad, you taught me how to smile. When I have been happy, you taught me the joy of joining in the fun that is around you. You have been an example to me that has helped me more than I will ever be able to write.

As you have grown up, I always wanted you to be able to speak your mind. We have had to work on learning how to do that respectfully (all of us have had to learn that together). I wanted you to learn to stand up for what you truly believe in. I want you to never compromise to make others happy but to know who you are and know how to discuss hard things with others who may not agree. As you are getting older, that has come back to bite me some because you do not always agree with me and will tell me so. This bites! How dare you question me!!! Through this, we are learning. We are learning that we don’t have to always agree. We love and respect one another anyway because we are family. You are actually demonstrating the very thing I have tried to teach you! I am so thankful for the strong beautiful adults you are becoming. I have learned to listen to your perspective and you listen to mine. Together we make a much stronger unit with our unique perspectives. Together. I really, really like that word.

Some of my very favorite times are when we are having our “bedroom” talks where you all take turns to come in and talk to me about what is either bothering you, or what you are dwelling on or planning for. I love it when you all say, “Mom, can I talk to you?” It makes me feel like you trust me. You trust me with your feelings, your heart and your dreams. I want to earn your trust. I want to keep that trust. You teach me that it is good to trust and good to share our feelings in a safe place. I am so honored that I am one of your safe places.

I sit at our table and look at all of you sometimes and I let my imagination carry me away to 20 years in the future. You all are grown, married and probably have kids of your own. I will want to control your lives – I know I will!! But I won’t. I promise. The love and care that we all show for each other, will still be there. We will disagree. That’s okay. We will get upset. That’s okay. We will laugh and make memories. That’s okay. We won’t live in a drama zone. We will love and appreciate every single time we are together. By the way, the one fight I love to hear you all have is over who gets to take care of me when I am old. My heart swells so much it about bursts!

You all remind me every day that I am not sufficient for all of your needs. I know my weaknesses. I know my failures. I know that I fall very short of what a perfect mom should be. But that is good. It teaches you that I am not the answer to all of your problems. I am just your imperfect mom. However, we both are learning that God is there to guide us, lead us, show us, strengthen us, and comfort us when no one else can. If I can teach you to always turn to God, then I will have accomplished something great in your lives. 

You all are my best friends. I enjoy every day with you. You make me laugh. You brighten every day. You are my teachers in how to be a mom. I always pray that you keep teaching me what it means to be a mom.

Thank you, my precious ones, for making me a mom. Thank you for making every single day a “Happy Mother’s Day!”

I love you Briley, Caleb, Isaiah, Audrey, Macey and Elisha Reagan!

Love,

Your Momma

I Couldn’t Hear Them Sing!

The-Birds-are-Singing

You know my love with hearing birds sing early in the morning right? This morning I could NOT hear them!!! I woke up early with spasms…like always…before light…and laid there listening. It was silent. My heart jumped a beat. Why weren’t the birds singing? What time is it? I could see a glimmer of dawn just like always. Why were they missing? They know they are supposed to be awake with me. Don’t they know I look forward to that? Don’t they know they have a job to do? Don’t they know that I was in here waiting to praise God with them? Don’t they know that they sing me back to sleep? Where were they?! Why couldn’t I hear them sing?!

Then I remembered.

I love spring and always have the windows open. Yesterday it rained so hard. I got really cold getting in and out of the house. I had went to church and gotten even colder and came home a bit sooner than usual. I was still shivering when my hubby got home and I remembered. I asked him to shut the windows so I could see if that would help me get warm. 

Why couldn’t I hear the birds sing? Because I shut the windows!!

The problem was not that the birds were not singing. The problem was that I had shut out their song.

They were singing just like normal. I just couldn’t hear it because of my own actions.

I was challenged as I thought about that this morning. How many times is God speaking but we don’t hear? How many times does a sermon speak to others but never me? How come some love their church and others hate it? How come the world is a wicked horrible place to some who can’t wait to escape it, and to others it is beautiful opportunity to build God’s Kingdom? How come there are some who think they are the only ones who are truly serving God…all alone…in a world where compromise is at every corner and that everyone else is falling around them like flies, but then there are those who are so excited at the work that God is doing all over this world through all kinds of people?

I remember the story of Elijah. He was holed up in a cave, wanting to die, because he was “the only one” in the world who loved God and wanted to serve Him. You know what his problem was? He thought the birds weren’t singing. God told him to get out of that cave and get busy! He told him that there were hundreds of others out there who were faithful to the Lord just like him. God opened his windows.

May God help me to keep the windows of my heart always open so I can always hear the birds sing!

Stuck Over Something Little!

Today an interesting thing happened. I have a van that was graciously given to me that has a big lift that comes right out the side door. It is quite an amazing piece of mechanics. I can put a key in by the back tail light and operate that lift with toggle switches. When I get on the lift, it puts me right up in that big van and I never have to lift myself! It is a big, tall Chevy conversion van so I could never lift myself in anyway! It has over 300,000 miles on it so I just use it local.

Once I get in the van, I have controls inside the van to close up the ramp and doors. I then transfer into the driver’s seat and off I go. When I get to where I am going, I just do the opposite – open the doors, get lifted down to the ground, roll out, go to the back of the van and use the controls to shut it all back up.

Not today.

I work at the kid’s school today so I left on break to take my sister to her job. When I got back, the playground was empty. All of the children had gone back into school. I began to take myself out of my van and it would not go down all the way to the ground. What?!! I was so close I wanted to just hop off of it. But, the there is a lip all the way around and so I couldn’t. I could go back up and into the van but what good would I do just sitting in there.

I looked around to figure out what the problem was. A little bolt had fallen out and the leg that is supposed to fold down when lowered was sticking straight out and would not allow the lift to touch the ground. What in the world was I supposed to do!? All my kids were inside. The teachers were inside. I could call them for help…and would have. But, I wanted to get out of this jam by myself!

After about 10 minutes of lowering and raising it and hoping that it would trigger and go down, I was continually met with failure…and was still stuck.

Stay with my story…I am going somewhere I promise! :)

I decided to get my long wallet out of my backpack. I leaned all the way over, hanging on with my left hand and started banging on that leg with my wallet to get it to release as we came down. After multiple tries, it worked!!!

I was stuck…..3 inches above ground…unable to get off or go anywhere….because of one tiny missing bolt.

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The moral of this story? As I was sitting at the back of my van, finally free from my dilemma, putting my lift back up in my van, it hit me.

How many times do we let one little tiny detail just totally get us stuck? Maybe it is a friend that doesn’t make a decision we like. Maybe it is a preference that we have that someone else does not. Maybe it is a spouse that makes a mistake. Maybe it is family that gets offended. Whatever it is, in the course of life and eternity, how big is it really?

How many times do we sit there on the lift of our life with our arms crossed, denying that we need any help, and not even trying to get out of this situation. Friends will make decisions that disappoint us. Family will hurt our feelings. Spouses will sometimes act like the sinful humans they are! We all get stuck. But, for how long? Over something so little?

We must work to get over these things. We must work to fix what we can. We must work to get out of that situation. We can crawl back into our little holes (my van) and I won’t be on the lift anymore. Instead I will be all alone in a van going nowhere. Or, we can sit on the lift with our arms crossed doing nothing. Still not going anywhere.

Or, we can figure it out and get over it. Now we are going somewhere.

By the way, it is pouring outside now. I am so glad I am in the warmth and comfort of the school surrounded by people I love.

Don’t let Satan get you stuck over the “little’s” It truly is the little foxes that spoil the vines. We cannot control others, but we can make sure that we do all that we can to not get stuck over the little things.

Every Year ~ A Gift

happy-birthday-gift

Every morning I wake up to the sound of birds singing. It is always around 5:00 in the morning. I lay there and just soak in the sound. It is my very favorite sound of nature. That is when I tell my Lord, with my bird friends, “Good Morning. Thank you for another day.” Then I go back to sleep. This is not vain repetition. I am truly so very thankful for each day the Lord gives me.

The other day, while speaking to around 200 high schoolers about brain and spinal cord safety, a student asked a wonderful question to my friends and I who were presenting that day. He said, “I know there are a lot of negatives in your life because of your paralysis, but is there a positive?” What great insight! Yes, there are positives. Your priorities change dramatically. Your values change dramatically. Your pettiness changes dramatically. Your appreciation for life changes dramatically. Those are all wonderful positives!

I know that it is only God that allows me to draw my very next breath. It is God who has a plan and purpose for my life. It is God Who was not finished with me 6 years ago. The same neurological disorder that hit me so quickly that day could have easily taken my life…had that been God’s plan. But it was not His plan that day. I have never hungered more for life than the days and months that followed that were so terrifying. After not being able to leave my home for almost 3 months after the birth of my baby, the beauty of blue skies and flowers were overwhelming to me. I never appreciated them more.

I have a very tiny tolerance for those who are weary of their lives here. I am not trying to be judgmental but it hurts me to hear them grunt and groan through their daily lives. Do they not realize how precious it is? Do they not realize how many people are clinging to just one more day?

Please don’t tell me I don’t understand. I do. Daily life is no walk in the park with paralysis. But even on my very worst days, I am still so thankful that I have days.

Today is my 38th birthday. I am THRILLED to be a year older! I love it!! Every single day…every single year…is a precios gift from God. I am so thankful for that.

It is the best birthday gift ever!