January 30, 2010

One Word

How many parents of 21 year old children are proud as peacocks their child wrote one word? For sure not many, but Jimmy and I are among the few because last Sunday Dani copied the Name above all names on the white board.

I'd just taken her to her new special needs class and as I spoke with the teachers the kids began to write and draw on the board. In order to give Dani a little guidance I wrote "Jesus" and a line underneath for her to copy the letters. Handing her the marker I turned back to talk with the teachers. I'd no sooner returned to the conversation when a little tap landed on my arm. She knew what she had written, for she knows His name, and was eager to show me her work.

Like a good mom I gave the board a quick glance, but instead of turning my attention back to the conversation with the teachers as I had intended, I gasped a gasp that shocked even me. Why...I sucked in so much air you'd have thought a poisonous snake was crawling up the wall. But instead of running, I stepped toward the source of my shock because there in front of my eyes was the most beautiful handwriting I'd ever seen. My little girl had written the name of her maker and it was simply beautiful.

I remember the days when I not only would have never placed Dani in a handicapped class, but been more ashamed than proud she could write only one word at 21 years of age. Those were the days when my pride was so devastated over having a disabled child that it took every ounce of energy to tend to damage control. I ate Twinkies continually to numb the pain and prayed without ceasing for God to heal her so I could survive. He never did grant my wish, yet somehow I managed to exist.

It's been a long road these past couple of decades but I've come a long way. I no longer gorge on little cakes to ease the pain and my eyes are less on me and more on our daughter. Little things like writing a word on the white board actually warm my heart and prompt me to thank God for the biggest little thing in the world. After all, if no one else notices her sparse accomplishments we know He does because nothing escapes His attention. He created her, He cares for her, and loves her just the way she is. So do I. Guess I'm finally becoming a little more like Him.

January 24, 2010

Winter Run

Ecclesiastes been so needy lately sticking to us like glue. Last night at 11:07 pm he was in my face for no good reason. Jimmy said he had just been outside to potty (Ecclesi not Jimmy) yet instead of heading off to bed he came in, put his wet nose in my face, and woke me from a fitful sleep (Ecclesi not Jimmy). If he weren't so cute I'd have popped him on his furry little noggin (of course I could never) when he then tried to get up on the bed in the middle of the night...and it wasn't even storming outside. He needed something but what could it be?

When morning came it dawned on us. The dogs have been stuck inside for days on end. Oh they get their car rides but that doesn't burn off their energy in the least. The 11 inches of snow have melted and now the yard and field is a muddy miry mucky of a mess. Even a gentle walk on the sparse grass calls for a bath. With this in mind Jimmy decided to give them a try on the treadmill and the results were great!

My baby Ecclesi smiled from ear to fury ear during his stationary trek.

Cocoa Bean took his turn and ran like he'd been a health club member all his life. The dogs are now resting as if they'd chased frisbees all day long. Now, maybe just maybe I won't be woke in the middle of the night by a big bored lab looking me point blank in the eye.

Our babies don't know it but they are dying for spring. Perhaps you are too!

For tips on running your dog on the treadmill visit Jimmy's website.

January 18, 2010

"Exceptional Family T.V."

I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Exceptional Family T.V. as they reach out to provide support and resources for families with disabled children. Shows begin airing online in May 2010 and I'm excited because this is just the thing Jimmy and I wish we had tucked under our belts 21 years ago as we launched on the toughest journey of our lives.

I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to have had even an inkling of what lie ahead. Maybe if I had been told what to expect I'd have been better prepared to handle watching my dreams shatter before my very eyes. Maybe a little knowledge of the inevitable would have not only softened the blow, but also prompted me to accept rather than fight the will of God. Only God knows for sure what a little support would have done, all I know is that even now tears stream down my cheeks as the tape of history rewinds to the early days of learning our child was both Autistic and deaf. No words can describe.

Dani's birth was like driving into a wall of dense fog. Once in it we were completely lost, yet there was nothing we could do but persevere through. I can't tell you how many times we've felt disoriented, discouraged, and exhausted on this journey, yet no matter the condition we could not give up or turn away. We are her parents and must continue to move forward trusting God is in control and has a plan that is good, even though its often cloaked in a fog.

I visited Exceptional Family T.V.'s discussion board today and read the current question, "What do you find to be most challenging as you raise a child with special needs?" Parents mentioned different things like the judgements and attitudes of others, and people either not seeing their child's disability or seeing nothing but their child's special need. Reading through the list I could relate to every single entry and my heart went out to each loving parent's challenge. Each comment touched me deeply because when it comes to parenting a disable child, I know one thing is true, "if it ain't one thing it's another." I suppose that's why when pondering my biggest hurdle it wasn't difficult to pinpoint it's that of giving my life as a living sacrifice. It's been a long and difficult road and it isn't near over. Why, just this morning I no sooner sat down for some quiet time all to look up and see Dani awake and alert staring at me ready to begin the day. I confess I was irritated but even in the frustration I was reminded that my call is clear and my job not yet complete. I must persevere and not give up, yet another thing I wish I'd known in the early years.

What is your calling? Maybe it's nothing you ever planned. If so, I can relate and encourage you to remember you are not alone. Many of us are in the same boat, it's just sometimes difficult to see one another amidst the fog. It's good to know that even a little support or the smallest word of encouragement can turn a life around. If you are a discouraged parent of a special needs child, visit Exceptional Family T.V. today and find the support you need. I'll be there too and look forward to seeing you there!

January 12, 2010

Snug as a Bug

"Did you turn on my side of the bed?"

"Not yet."

"Are you sure?"

"Pretty sure. Why?"

"Well...I went to turn the beds on and your side was on but mine wasn't."

"...that's weird."

I can't tell you how many times Jimmy and I have had this very conversation. Nearly every evening for the past month we've mildly interrogated one another trying to figure out why one side of the electric blanket will be on, leaving the other cold as a stone.

For quite some time I took the blame because I'm terminally forgetful and that's no exageration. It is not at all uncommon for me to walk into the bedroom on a cold winter's evening with full intent of turning on both sides of our electric blanket all to turn on one, get a thought, and walk out neglecting the other. It got to the point where after flipping on one dial I'd begin repeating to myself, "Now turn on the other side. Turn on the other side. Turn on the other side" until I'd complete the task. Then, I'd release my brain to flit to its topic of choice. Both sides of the bed were on and I could relax, or so I thought.

About a week ago things got really weird. I'd come home from work all to see that Jimmy's side of the bed was already on while mine remained untouched.

"Jimmy. Did you turn your bed on already?"

"No, It's too early."

"Well look...it's on!"

It didn't take a rocket scientist to see our old blanket was playing tricks on us and could no longer be trusted. (I once had a cellphone that made calls to my various contacts on its own accord and without my permission. It was immediately evicted from our family as well.) Since temperatures here in Kansas City have hit record lows we set out to find a new more competent and cooperative blanket. Without delay we found an ivory colored soft and snuggly one that taught us toot sweet we'd been missing out! While the old blanket barely warmed the bed after 2 hours, this fancy smancy thing warms in minutes, fooling even the manliest of men into thinking he's having hot flashes in the middle of the night. --- What a hoot!

Our new blanket it a modern marvel and we love it. Now we're snug as a bug in a rug and can drop the nocturnal interrogations. Sure hope you're toasty too!

January 9, 2010

Super Duper Ready for Bed

Last night at bedtime Jimmy let the dogs out to do their business while we commenced with our evening ritual of brushing teeth, turning off lights, and shutting down the computer and T.V. After finishing with Dani's teeth (thanks dear) Jimmy paused to let the dogs back in. Now mind you, the midwest is suffering a severe whipping by the most frigid cold snap we've seen in years. Snow is piled several feet high at every turn and the mercury has long since drained out the bottom of our thermometers, which no doubt explains why Cocoa Bean beat everyone to bed last night.

Like a fully fueled rocket fresh off the launch pad, he shot in the back door through the house and disappeared leaving only a faint tinkling sound of dog tags lingering in the air. His quick disappearance peaked my curiosity so much I stopped what I was doing to see if my suspicions were true. Now, if I was a bettin' girl I'd have placed a hefty bet on his whereabouts, I'd have won, and been set for life, because sure as shootin' there he sat perched atop the warmest spot of the house...our bed.

Peering at us as if we were tardy to the biggest event in town, he put me in mind of an avid theater buff proudly claiming the first seat of a sold-out movie premiere. All he needed was a heaping bag of popcorn, some Jujubes, and a large soda pop. He was so dog-on cute I quickly grabbed my camera to capture the warmest moment this cold midwest has to offer.

Needless to say he slept warm and snug with us till sunrise. Now, if I were a bettin' girl I'd bet I know what's gonna happen tonight as well.

January 5, 2010


I recently finished a book that was the most enjoyable little thing. It's called, Twinkle, Sharing Your Faith a Little Light at a Time. I purchased it about a year ago and promptly propped it on a shelf for just the right time. Once in my hands this little gem was hard to put down and made me sad it had to come to an end.

Elisa Morgan is the president and CEO of MOPS International and the author of a bundle of books. Twinkle may be my first of hers but it certainly won't be the last. As an honest and down to earth author, her artistic writing made me laugh and cry sending me on an urgent search for another copy to give my best friend for Christmas. It arrived in the mail just in time for me to proudly pass on.

Twinkle addresses the common "I can'ts" that keep us from sharing our faith. With her own creative and enlightening touch, Elisa candidly shares her personal struggles of shining her light, which just so happens to be difficulties we all have in common. I especially loved how she points out the importance our little twinkle of light is in the lives of those around us and that our job is never to shine our own light, but rather reflect the true light of Christ. Somehow this simplicity takes a load off my shoulders I was never meant to bear.

If you are looking for a sweet little read check out Twinkle. It's sure to brighten your day!

"For you were once darkness,

but now you are light in the Lord.

Live as children of light."

Ephesians 5:8

January 1, 2010

Word Verification

It just begun happening. It's a sign of the times and I don't like it one little bit. Anonymous junk blogger comments. I'm always a bit leery of anonymous comments because I figure they are behind a curtain for one reason or another. Either they don't wish to be known for their own privacy reasons or they're about to blast me and it's more easily done incognito. Fortunately blasters are few and far between. As a general rule you who visit the Olive Leaf Ministries blog are a tidy intimate bunch who are more than trust worthy. Unfortunately, a few interlopers have crept into the mix prompting me to add the Word Verification feature. It creates an extra step for you when adding a comment but prevents automated systems from bogging my blog with spam.

As I woke this New Year's morning to another full plate of spam, I was reminded how important it is to implement our own word verification when hearing the word of God. For instance, whoever you listen to, whether a trusted teacher, favorite preacher, or long-time godly friend, all of it must be filtered through the Word of God. Ask yourself if what you are hearing syncs with what the Bible teaches. If it does accept it. If it doesn't reject it like a hot potato. Allow no teacher to be exempt from your filtering process either. The Bereans were praised for their word verification and just take a gander at who they were listening to.

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians,
for they received the message with great eagerness
and examined the Scriptures every day
to see if what Paul said was true."
Acts 17:11

Oh mercy, if the Bereans were wise enough to test Paul's words against Holy Scripture, how much more wise should we be? Paul was an Old Testament scholar, he personally encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, and had been taken up into the third heaven where he heard inexpressible things that man is not permitted to tell, yet they tested his teachings against the word of God. What tenacious wisdom!

Now, I don't know about you but my knowledge of God's word doesn't hold a candle to many around me. This doesn't make me vulnerable however. On the contrary. I, like a Berean, can test what I hear against the very word of God, listen to what the Spirit is teaching me, and walk strong and steady in His truth each day. The same is true for you. As you listen to your favorite teachers and preachers, measure every word, thought, and idea with the word of God. If it coincides with God's truth hide it in your heart. If not, toss it far away in the trash. If you aren't sure about a teaching, ask God to help you discern truth from fiction and He'll be faithful to provide.

As you enter this New Year I hope you are determined to seek a greater knowledge of God over the coming days. Christ will return soon and we must be ready. We are bound to be tested and must be vigilant to guard our hearts against lies from the enemy. This involves carefully planting only God's truth in our hearts and meticulously monitoring what we accept as truth. This can be done even by us modern day Bereans, and the good news is when we do we will be blessed!

Happy 2010!