"May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit."

~Romans 15:13

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Have you ever...

known in your gut that something needed to be done, but you just don't know how to make it happen?


Well, I am going to try something new. I hope and pray that maybe, just maybe, this might work.


Let me tell you about my Lilah.

My sweet Lilah doesn't really like to be woken up for school in the morning. She's kind of like a teenager in this regard. But, once she does wake up she is happy. I don't mean go with the flow. I mean my kid is singing, laughing, loving, joyful. Thank God she gets that honest.
Lilah loves food. Chips, cheese-dip, salsa, mac and cheese, gum, and CHOCOLATE. 
She really gets that honest.
Lilah loves to smile... (again, gratefully she gets that honest) 

 

Lilah is a stunner. I mean she is a phenomenally GORGEOUS child. So, blessed that God gifted her with this immense beauty. See....

Lilah LOVES the color purple. Yep, I died her hair purple ombre'. I am fun that way. (get over it, stuffy people. Its hair and life is too short to not have fun!)

Lilah loves to learn. Lilah, although legally blind, is a visual learner. She uses her eyes more than you could imagine. She mimics others. Lilah can spell several and correctly identify many words. Lilah is beginning to add.

Lilah loves the beach. Loves the sand, the wind, the shells, the birds, and she loves the water.
Lilah loves cheer. 



 Yep, I am one proud Mom...


 

Lilah loves to color, sing, dance,  and she adores music.
Lilah has this amazing ability where she can correctly identify the instruments playing in a song. She can tell you that the song is, for example, Bennie and the Jets just by one or two notes being played or in the middle of the song she can identify it by the voice and tune. Lilah uses her voice more with music than she does just speaking to you. Lilah moves her body more with song than she does when it is quiet.


 Lilah needs me to carry her heart and help....



She needs me to tell you that she needs more. She needs you to see her as a person more than someone who has special needs. She needs you to speak up. She needs you to stop being scared to lose your job and start doing what is right. She needs you to rock the boat. She needs you to stop living so scared and start doing more.

Lilah isn't alone. Lilah, and many like her, can and do learn. They need an environment where they can learn at the level they are currently on and grow. They need to be able to learn at their pace. Not the "standard." See, we have these meetings called IEPs...oh the dreaded 3 hour IEPs drive me NUTS! Stop telling me what my child cannot do. I am not an idiot, nor am I in denial about my kid. 

Are you?

Spend more time telling me how you can help her grow and less time pointing out her defects that don't stay on track with her peers. I am not stupid. I have grieved the fact that my baby will, most likely, never walk across a stage and receive a high school diploma. I have grieved that she may never go to college. I have cried HARD at the fact that her "friends" have moved on and here she stays. Stop treating me, and her, like we are unaware of these hard truths.
Now, for some that you need to read and hear. Lilah is capable of more than you have given her credit for. When you read her IEP and see the paper of what the "child" can do you place a judgment on her. You have branded her and for that you need to admit fault and forgive yourself for giving her less than your best each day.

Lilah, and many like her, need daily exposure to music, instruments, choir, art, dance, theater and more. Our children, those who independently walk the streets of Holland, need more than once a week, if that, exposure to the arts. Exceptional human beings need their senses stimulated in order to effectively learn. Our school systems are failing our typical children and the exceptional kids by eliminating the much needed healing of art.... in every form.

Ever hear a song and it take you directly back to a place and time? Ever see a painting and wonder how the artist touched your soul just through color and shape? Ever seen a picture that made you weep without even knowing the identity of the individuals in the image? Ever played a piano and gotten lost in the song as you touched the keys?

Imagine if exceptional human beings had the opportunity to the life-breathing, much needed world of art? Imagine an adaptive classroom  for children who can learn where they are given the freedom to grow in an environment immersed in the beauty of the arts?

What if the next savant is sitting in a self-contained classroom with that gift never opened and embraced by the world?

Stevie Wonder brilliantly addressed this....
"I just want to say..... that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.” 

So, I am begging for help.

I know this will work. I know that this will help. I know this will change the trajectory of my child's future. I know it will change the lives of many.
Are you willing to take the risk with me? Will you hold my hand and take the leap? Will you ask your "friends" in high places? Will you help me fund-raise for a place like this? Are you willing to do more than the minimum?


God gave me Lilah to make a difference.

I can't build it, fund it, staff it by myself....I can't do this alone. 

But with your help....we CAN do this.

We can give hope.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"They" said...

"she will never know she is 'different.' She was born this way."

They....lied.
 Words spoken can never be unsaid. They cannot be taken back. They can only be forgiven. "They", the "professionals", try to prepare with words what only one can truly understand through experience.

Lilah...

 knows she isn't "the same."

She knows that she cannot run as fast as those typically functioning peers. She knows she doesn't learn like others. She knows that she cannot see like them either. 

Lilah just knows.

Lilah knows when its time to laugh, time to cry, when to smile, how to "selfie", how to forgive, and she knows....when someone has hurt her deeply and refuses to change.

And gratefully at 7, even in the midst of the tears, she embraces it.

I have learned so much about myself being her Mom /advocate. I have learned to embrace my own "differences" and be proud of them. I encourage Lilah to have fun. I encourage her to....

Dance.
Life is too short to worry if someone is watching and what "they" might say. "They" were wrong once and will be again. "They" need to choose joy.

My sweet teacher. My sweet Lilah...if "they" only knew that you know more than we all do.... You know that embracing our uniqueness is what make us stronger, better, kinder, more...joyful.

Keeping being YOU...and forget what "they" say.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tulips

For those of us who live in "Holland" the tulip is our flower. 

For those who do not understand what I mean, watch this



Tulips bloom best in places that have dry summers and cold winters. Tulips can take more than the average flower. Tulips aren't like most
Roses might be beautiful but have nasty thorns. Daisies might be popular and are found almost everywhere you go. Orchids are quite picky and might only bloom once a year, if you are lucky.
Tulips on the other hand....



they put up with more than most as they are growing. The go through cold, lonely winters, and then bloom best surrounded by others just like them.

Tulips are exceptional.

Just like my Lilah.

Lilah works harder than any person I know. Lilah is often lonely. (I see it written all over her face.)

Lilah knows when she is in a room full of people who can do more than she can. But, she doesn't give up. Don't get me wrong, she wants to. But you better believe that I won't let her. Ever!
Not because I don't accept my child for who she is. FAR from it. (and if THAT is what you believe than you do NOT know me. You are judging what you do not know and THAT is the definition of ignorance:lacking knowledge.) My job, my very first "job", is Mom. I am not a sit-back-and-let-you-do-what-you-want-to-Mom. No way. God gave me these babies and He trusts me to do that job well. That means He requires that I give my daily best of giving all I have, pushing, pulling, coaching, tough conversations, hard truths, grace, mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love.


Lilah's strength, her internal fire, is one I admire greatly. She has such joy. She has such beauty. She has such compassion. She has such incredible potential. When she is given the chance to grow, her brain the chance to process, her body the chance to push through the muck and dirt, her functional vision the opportunity to shine, she rises through that dark place to stand tall and bloom her gorgeous colors of HOPE.

My sweet, beautiful, strong, smart, talented, rock star, blooming-tulip....Lilah.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Future



ok, yes...let's get it out of the way...I have not blogged here in years... yes, I need to catch you all up. Later on that one...


Recently I have really worried/stressed/feared/been incredibly concerned about how life for my sweet baby will be as an adult.
The image above was taken at her last cheer competition. Yes, that child who was "branded" to not do anything has surpassed more than imagined. We still have a LONG way to go and I know this.

I do my very best to live each day in the present moment. I really do.

BUT! I am human and have those moments where I cannot breathe from whatever "it" may be, but then I dig deep and #choosejoy

My concerns for Lilah are real. They are raw. They are honest. They matter today each day ahead:
  • Cognitively she cannot explain her exact specific needs effectively
  • Physically she gets incredibly tired
  • Vocally she cannot express her needs and wants properly
  • DELAYS....
She has become this amazing little person who can ask for what she wants and needs at home in a quiet, secure setting. But, when she is in an environment that causes stress or strain she begins to shut down and look for the person closest that she trusts to aid her. I have been teaching her to look at people, in the eye, and explain what she wants and needs to them. Dinners out, gas station, grocery store, you name it.
Here is where my fear comes in...
She doesn't want to tell those people. She wants to tell me. She knows me, trusts me, and has faith from our history that I am dependable, honest, and trustworthy.

HOW DO I HELP MY EXCEPTIONAL CHILD TO ASSERT HERSELF?
Your first thought might be the same as mine, "What, I am 38 years old and I am STILL learning to assert myself for what I want and need without feeling insecure for that desired thing." Sista, you are NOT alone. BUT...that isn't the point here....

Someday I will no longer be on this earth. That isn't a woah is me, it is a fact. Some day I will be called home. Will I have prepared my Lilah properly to be independent to know she will lead a good life without me? I will NOT have her institutionalized. I will NOT!!! have it. You better be dang sure that I will hang on until 110 years old to guarantee my child is not put in a room and "forgotten."
Because of Lilah I have learned to become this person I never saw myself as, but always wanted to be.... self-assured. Fighting FOR her has taught me that expecting more from people doesn't mean I am a B@&^%, contrary to what some might think, it means that I know there is more out there and I expect the best from each person who encounters my kid. IF you cannot give her your best, then get out of her life. Sorry. She needs you to step up to the plate and be who God called you to be. Lilah needs you to put your selfish needs and wants aside and give your extra effort to help her become what I know is possible for her. I expect greatness because greatness is in each and every one of us.
Please do not get me wrong here.
I am so human and such a woman. I doubt and worry and fear, but I do not stay there.
I know today that other people and circumstances do not dictate my "happiness."

HOW do I teach this to all of my children, but especially to the child who must work harder than any of us at this life?

Many thanks to those who have helped, taught, loved, aided and not given up on Lilah, me, our big family, etc and stayed in the game to help. Your presence is THE best present. For those that are too ashamed to admit their mistakes...you are forgiven....please leave the pride aside and be a part of this life-changing human being.

Please help me help my child. Please.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy. Confident. Teacher





We can all learn from Lilah.

Be happy.
Smile.
Laugh often.
Laugh with an "evil" laugh just to throw people off.
Dance in public.
Enjoy each moment.
Wake up happy.
Sing your favorite song as loud as you can everywhere you go.

Try things that scare you.
Have people in your life who push you to do your best.
Love big.
Give lots of hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Choosing Joy. Are you?

Today my partner in crime , my companion, and best friend went with me to some fun activities and preparations for her older siblings. Today was much more fun than yesterday's spending hours at the Courthouse and CSS.


We took Alex, Sammie, and Eli to school, then we went to Wal-mart to get drinks and snacks for her sisters field days.


At 9:30 Lilah had O&M and I went to the gym and hung out with Team Madagascar and this gorgeous beauty!

Then I rushed down to the other end of the school to give drinks and Snacks to Sammie's teacher for tomorrow.

I made it back to the office just in time to get Lilah from her O&M instructor. Then she and I made our way to the cafeteria to have lunch with Eli and then Sammie

 Then I made my way back to the gym and sat with Alex and her friends for a little bit.

Then it was time to come home and take care of some things here.

And I sat down for a few minutes...and guess what happened?

I fell asleep. I guess sometimes the Mama Bear needs a little re-charge. Now to get my babies from school and help them with their homework until their Dad comes for his weekly dinner visitation. Then to pour in to the oldest 4. Please pray for Ashley as she will be going to DC tomorrow with school.


We may stay busy, but we have therapy moments, and we just giggle throughout the day.

There are reasons to smile each day. Are you choosing joy today? I am.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A hero

I often say that Lilah is my hero. That she is the strongest woman I know. I also say that she will change the world. Her.

The person who is the hero usually has to fight harder than others, demand more from themselves, and has an incredible support system behind them.



The heroes don't see it in themselves. They don't know their potential. They don't see that they are the light that will change history.


I believe that Lilah will change history. I believe she is doing that as we speak.


I know she is changing the way people view children with special needs. I believe that people are drawn to her. Drawn to know her, get to know her, help her, help her succeed.

People with disabilities are often looked down upon. People will sometimes only see the disability and not the person.

Here is an example...

Someone very close to Lilah admitted to being nervous to meeting her for the first time. Afraid of how to act, react, how she would be, etc. This person has said that the first time they met her, they were in love with her. This person has said many times over that Lilah is their best friend and that they could not imagine their life without her.


Fear can either motivate or debilitate. 


After seeing the movie "42" I was overcome with a massive "God wink." It was an intense feeling of "Go write Katie. Lay it out."

When Jackie Robinson first played baseball he was faced with so much. Racism, criticism, doubt, fear.

He faced many people who were ignorant. Now, before you get frustrated by my use of that word. Please read the definition...

Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge).[1] The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. Ignoramus is commonly used in the US, the UK, and Ireland as a term for someone who is willfully ignorant.

Jackie Robinson faced many ignorant people. Some who wanted to hate him. Others who were taught that hate by their parents. He was also loved by many. But, his admiration was not immediate. He had to fight for the recognition. He had to fight for his spot in the Major Leagues. But, he had to control himself. How he responded to such hate. He had a choice to retaliate or he could do what he did...He worked harder and harder. He let his talent on the field speak for itself. He earned his right to play. And be in the hall of fame. To many, He is a hero.

Many are ignorant on how to treat people with special needs. So many people use the word "retarded" or "retard" in their everyday language. Many have no idea the negative impact that word has. Many are unaware of the pain that is associated. The tears that come with hearing that word. But, there are some who are "willfully ignorant." People who choose to use the word because it gets them some sort of attention, recognition, laughter, you name it. Please take the word RETARD and RETARDED out of your vocabulary. For Lilah.

Let's look at it like this...
We have a choice on how we treat people on this earth. We can judge them. All of them. Or we can love them. All of them.

We can open our eyes to the need to help, we can open our hearts to someone who may need you to be a tad more patient, listen as they try to speak. We can also choose to close our eyes to those who are differently-abled and ignore them.

What WE do, and how WE behave is up to us. We have the ability to change the world.

We have the ability to BE the hero.

Watching Lilah at therapy EVERY day, I see the fight my little bumblebee has in her. I see her determination. I see her fear that tries to keep her in her shell. I also see her potential. I choose to help her. I choose to love her. All of her. My hero is Lilah.