Friday, February 21, 2014

A letter to my daughter for her 4th birthday {Five Minute Friday}


It's Five Minute Friday!* Where a group of us join together for five minutes of writing without worrying about if it’s just right or not, hosted by the lovely Lisa-Jo.

Because, "...often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words."  -Lisa-Jo Baker

And I'm excited to jump back in again after my extended break (my previous Five Minute Friday post was last April!)

Today's Prompt: SMALL

GO

Dear Sophia,

Your birthday is coming and you can’t wait but I wish that time could stand still. It’s flying by faster and faster and the rush of it can be overwhelming.

It seems like just yesterday that you were a tiny bundle I carried home with me. I was thrilled be cradling you as we exited those hospital lobby doors together, my prayers and dreams come true!  Even though bringing you home right away was much scarier than I realized it was sweeter than I could have ever imagined.

Today, the dimply curves of baby skin are slowly fading from your face and I wonder how it’s already been four years?


I love to watch the tiny fingers of your petite hand wrapped around a crayon, coloring a picture in your princess coloring book (and I find it adorable that you’re left handed like Daddy and big sister!).

Stay small sweet Sophia and climb into my lap, let’s read another story.

Because you've taught me it’s the smallest moments that make up the most beautiful memories and we have more pages to discover together.

I'm discovering the truth of what they say: some days do seem long but the years are much too short. So let the hours drag on and may time linger because I know I’ll blink and four more years will have passed. 

Stay small sweet Sophia and climb into my lap.


Love,

Mommy

STOP









Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Choice: A Micro-Memoir

In order to grow as a writer and a blogger I recently set personal goals pertaining to each but knew that strengthening my writing skills might involve some uncomfortable stretching and reaching.  The first step out of my comfort zone was joining an online writing group. The second step? I needed to quit observing from the sidelines. Today's piece is my participation in the first assigned writing exercise.

The challenge? A micro-memoir. Because, "For a writer, it is the practice of learning to see and capture in small bites the story of a life." -Alia Joy

Here is a chapter from the pages of my story.


The Choice
My ears were ringing from the blow of his forceful words.  The painful jab of each one punched through the tension heavy in the air.

The hum of the fan turning in the corner of the hospital room couldn’t drown out what the doctor was trying to say.  Though he attempted to share his logical solution in a neatly wrapped package of fancy words, his intentions were plain.

“Your only option is to discontinue…”

His voice trailed off, quieted by the thoughts swirling around my mind.

Discontinue.

As in scents of lotions and perfume no longer available at my favorite store in the mall, or dishes no longer manufactured by a certain company?  

Discontinue.

My head throbbed with confusion as I struggled to process what he had said.  The cotton hospital gown clung to my sweaty skin, as feverish chills cascaded down my spine. Infection was creeping through my body but that’s not why I felt ill.

Your only option is to discontinue this pregnancy.”

Discontinue.

The word echoed louder, ricocheting between us.  

Wasn’t he a doctor? Why wasn’t he offering a solution that would help or heal?

The expression on my husband’s face jolted me back to reality, and I knew I wasn’t dreaming this nightmare.

My husband.

I closed my eyes, allowing my mind to drift again.

Just months before on a sun-kissed, breezy autumn day we’d pledged our love through vows to one another unaware what lay beyond the threshold. We could never have imagined that a weekend in May would find us here in this hospital room, facing the unimaginable.  Instead of choosing selections from a menu on the weekend date night we’d planned, we were faced with the decision of choosing life for our unborn child.

Discontinue.

The word sliced into my thoughts.

Dizzy with emotion, I felt faint.  I squinted toward the doctor towering over the foot of my hospital bed, the glare of his stark white coat burning my eyes. He spat out rehearsed statistics and facts, his face gleaming with satisfaction over his knowledge and expertise of the field.  Noting the smug look of confidence etched across his face, I wanted to scream. Doesn’t he know this is a baby?

My baby.

18 weeks of this first pregnancy had only adorned my waist with its subtle curve, but I knew a fragile being was forming in the safety of my womb. Had it only been yesterday that I’d heard the static swooshing of a heartbeat while my eyes followed the shadowed image swimming across the ultrasound screen?

I requested different options, but the doctor argued that discontinuing the pregnancy was the safest solution with the lowest risks. He rattled on, assuring us that we’d be fighting proactively against an infection on course to claim its victim soon.  

Discontinue.

Abruptly, I announced my choice: we’d pray for a miracle and let God decide.

“From your lips to God’s ears!”

He barked out the challenge, exposing his threat. I winced at his response because in fearful doubt I worried about the answer. Deep within, a struggle waged; I knew the choice wasn’t mine to make. I nodded slowly, words stumbling out.  Yes, God would do the choosing.

Following the doctor’s exit from the room, a somber stillness hung in the air.  My cries pierced through its silence, a river of teardrops rushing down my face. Each beat of my heart pulsed with love, pleading for the life of my unborn child to remain sheltered beneath its soothing rhythm.

And my prayer uttered from trembling lips found grace upon God’s listening ears.





Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One Word 2014 {A New Year's Resolution}

Last year was my first time participating in OneWord 365.   Instead of making an entire list of New Year's resolutions, the idea is to choose one word that will be a central theme or focus throughout the new year.

Last January, my word was a fairly easy choice because I knew that change was on the horizon for our family. With many unknowns before us, my spirit was growing restless in the waiting.

I desired to rest.  

Choosing my word for this year hasn't been as easy.  This post was beginning to collect dust from sitting in the drafts folder, and I considered not participating at all.  

Sometimes words that are slowest to come are the ones you need the most.

I looked up synonym after synonym of words that I wanted to be the center of this year. Nothing jumped out at me. In one final attempt, I decided to look up an antonym for a specific word.

This word whispers lies, haunting the heart and mind with confusion. It raises suspicions, clouding thoughts with judgment or fear. Masquerading as a refuge, its walls hold many captive.
It asks more questions than it answers.

It's a word I've carried around far too long, one that I don't want to follow me into the new year.

Doubt.

This year, I'm choosing to replace the doubts.

With what?
Oxford Dictionaries defines confidence as: the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust; the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.   God's Word calls it hope.

I choose confidence...

 …in my relationship with Christ, believing His love and goodness toward me.

…in my marriage, obeying His example of love.

…in my parenting, leaning on Him for strength.

…in my relationships with others, fulfilling as He calls.

…in each moment, ignoring whispers of doubt.

…in every situation, fearing the Lord, not man.

…in every circumstance, remembering His promises to me

…in His provision, knowing He will make a way.

…in every opportunity, relying on His power alone.

…in His plans for our family, abiding in His grace.

This year I choose confidence in Him.














Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Blogging Year in Review {This Journey Our Life}


As those of you following along here already know, I've only posted once since April. On this last day of 2013, it's hard to believe it's already time for the {Blogging} Year in Review.  It seems like just yesterday I was sharing the Top Ten Posts of 2012.

I'm thankful for readers who still check in when writing is sparse, for followers who still embrace every post shared. These top ten posts are based upon what each of you preferred reading here throughout this past year.

 Top Viewed Posts of 2013

10. For preemie parents.  An introductory post for Parents of Preemies Day 2013.  As parents of preemies there comes a time that we are celebrated in honor of all that we have mourned.

9.  Fear of Change {A Five Minute Friday post}This post was written for a Five Minute Friday in August of 2012.  Little did I know then how God was already working, already changing.  I'm thankful that "He has made a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

8.  Embarking on A Journey (the day I found out my daughter was blind).  On Day 2 of the 31 Days of Support Series, I shared the moment I first realized my daughter was blind.

7.  What mama did (the embracing).  This post was written for a Five Minute Friday, following a four-day series Lisa-Jo had on her blog entitled "What Mama Did."

6.  Journey of FaithThis is the post in which I first shared the story of Cami’s premature birth; it also provided the inspiration for this blog and its name.

5.  A poem for parents of preemiesThis poem is dedicated to every parent of a preemie.  Whether you were blessed to bring your baby home, or your heart still aches with grief because you couldn’t; whether you’ve walked the NICU journey in years past or are currently trudging along its path. Today—every day—you’re celebrated. (It was also featured here on the Graham's Foundation blog for their second annual Parents of Preemies Day.)

4Walking by Faith: Our journey continues.  The post in which I shared of our plan to move to South Carolina in order for Cami to attend the SCSDB (and the last post before my blogging hiatus). From Rudy's job to Cami's transition at school, the Lord has clearly guided every footstep, providing for every need along our path. 

3. A Father's Day Poem for My HusbandThis poem was written as a gift for my husband for Father’s Day (2012) to express my gratitude for the man he is.  With the number of people brought to my blog via Google searches for "poem for husband" or "father's day poem for husband" it is no mystery why this poem remains in the same spot as last year!   =)

2.  31 Days of Support for Your Special Needs Parenting Journey.  The most viewed post for 2012, this post is a compilation of the entire series that was written and blogged for my participation in the 31 Days challenge, hosted annually by the Nester.  

1.  100 Ways You Know You're A {Special Needs} Mom.  Inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker's 100 Ways You Know You're A Mom, I asked fellow special needs moms what being a mom looked like for them.  It turns out that it looks similar for all of us!  This list  includes what real-life special needs moms shared with me, in addition to my own thoughts and ideas, all based on actual events. Take a moment to read and you'll notice an extension of the list forming in the comments too!

This year has been one filled with change, during which time it was quiet around here. I appreciate your support along the journey, and I'm eager to share with each of you who continue following This Journey Our Life throughout 2014.






Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Singing for Joy

Much has taken place over the past several months of my blogging hiatus.  The break began unintentionally, but I've enjoyed a much needed time of rejuvenation.  I plan to return to writing here again, and I have much to share in the weeks ahead.  Today, I wanted to begin by sharing a brief update on Cami.

As many of you remember, we moved this summer in order for Cami to attend the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB). When she was accepted as a student in August, we learned of her exact placement  in the school (based upon her evaluations and testing).

She attends the special education program offered at the SCSDB.  It is still a part of the SCSDB, and just like each of the other separate schools (the School for the Blind and School for the Deaf) it is in a separate building on the campus. Within the school, classrooms are divided by those who are visually impaired and those who are deaf, with the majority of students having more than one disability.  This school offers more specialized instruction, and each class is taught by a special education teacher who is also a teacher of their respective field (blind or deaf). 

Cami has been thriving in this environment which is similar to her placement last school year, this time with a program and education more suitable and individually tailored to each of her specific needs.

In a recent re-evaluation meeting with her educators, we discussed giving her more opportunities to develop her skills, allowing her to grow and progress as much possible.  This was addressed mainly because  she is considered to be a high functioning student in her classroom setting, and they don't want to restrict her potential.  They specifically mentioned giving her more opportunities to interact with students who attend the School for the Blind, its atmosphere more like a mainstream classroom setting.  

We agreed.

And today she embarked on this path of opportunity, taking a tiny first step toward a new direction.



For the first time, Cami will be participating in an extracurricular activity.

When her teacher contacted us to see if this would be something we'd be interested to have Cami involved in, there was no question in our minds that it would be a perfect fit for her.

Cami is now a singer in the chorus at the School for the Blind.

As a 4th grader, Cami is one of the youngest among the middle school through high school age participants, but we are excited to see her eagerly embrace this new challenge. Her teacher sat with her during today's rehearsal and will work toward having Cami sit through future rehearsals independently.  

We continue to thank the Lord for allowing Cami to progress as much as she has, and we continue to receive assurance that she is right where she belongs.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Walking by Faith: Our journey continues...



Last year, after receiving the news of Cami’s more recent diagnosis we continued on with another search. Our goal was to find an educational environment that would allow Cami to develop to her fullest potential while providing the necessary tool and resources appropriate for her needs.  

Last week, I shared that Cami was placed in a resource room for the 2012-2013 school year.  This placement was simply the first step in implementing an important decision we had made regarding her education; it was a temporary solution until we determined what environment would best suit all of her needs.

In our quest to find the right school for Cami, we plunged into conducting our own research. We discussed options with specialists, read countless materials of information, researched online, visited several different schools, and spoke with a variety of people experienced in working with children who have needs similar to that of Cami’s. 

Each person that we talked with had no previous knowledge of what had been discussed in our separate conversations with others, yet a recurring suggestion continued to be made. As we weighed the information we had gathered against our own personal observations and first-hand experience, one fact continued to stand out above the rest. 

Though it’s undeniable that Cami has additional needs surrounding her more recent diagnoses, we had to acknowledge the fact that many of her struggles stem from a result of her primary disability.

Suddenly, the answer became clear.   

She needed to be in an educational setting that was able to provide the proper supports, tools and resources directly related to her vision impairment, while offering a learning atmosphere appropriate for the needs surrounding her secondary diagnoses as well.

We realized that recurring suggestion needed to become a reality. 

Throughout our quest for answers we asked the Lord for wisdom.

And He gave.

We asked him to clearly guide us.

And He led.

After much prayer, the Lord has confirmed to us that His will for the next step in our lives is to move to South Carolina in order to allow Cami the opportunity to attend the South Carolina School for the Blind as a non-residential student. We will be moving June 1.

We are stepping out in faith, trusting the Lord to meet our needs in providing a job for Rudy and we are excited to see how He will.  We ask that you’d pray for that along with us.

Please also pray for the overall transition into a new home and new school (for Cami).  If you’ve been reading along for any amount of time you know that she doesn’t handle a change of routine or changes in general very well.  We’ve already begun to prepare her as best we can but it’s hard to say how it'll go until it happens.  Please also pray for Lucas and Sophia to adjust to all of the changes this will bring for them as well.

We rest in knowing the Lord has faithfully guided every footstep, clearly marking the path He wants us to take.  Placing one foot in front of the other in faith, we are thrilled to follow Him into the next phase on this journey, our life.
 




Friday, April 26, 2013

Of chocolate fudge brownies, ice cream, and friendship {Five Minute Friday}

It’s Five Minute Friday!* Where a group of us join together for five minutes of writing without worrying about if it’s just right or not, hosted by the lovely Lisa-Jo.

Today's prompt:  FRIEND

                                                                        
GO

The shock of the news punched me in the gut.  Hurt sliced through my heart like never before and my body ached with grief.

Because wounds afflicted in anger cut deep.
In one brief moment our lives had changed and the securities we had assumed as guaranteed had been yanked out from beneath us.  After sharing the news with our parents, there was no question who I’d call next.

As I struggled to speak through my tears she patiently listened before speaking the words she knew we needed to hear.

“Come over.”

Arriving to their house was like coming home after a long journey.  The lights from their house spilled out through their back door, inviting Rudy and me to step inside. As we walked through the kitchen into the dining room, the smell of warm chocolate wafted through the air.

The menu from dinner has faded in my memory, but I’ll never forget the dessert.

The homemade chocolate glaze perfectly complemented the warm fudgy brownies topped with a hearty scoop of mint-chocolate chip ice cream towering high above the bowl.   It was comfort food in highest form.

To this day I can’t eat a brownie without that night crossing my mind, but it isn’t the painful news I remember.

It’s my friend.

Because gifts offered in kindness and love heal deeper.

And friendship is one of the greatest gifts of all.
STOP

Your Journey:  What small act of kindness from a friend was huge to you?  Feel free to share your story about it in the comments! 



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