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Closing the Toy Closet

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For 14 1/2 years, I carried a loaded trunk full of toys and materials for speech-language therapy home visits. The rotation was constant. With the exception of family trips to the mall, zoo and grandma and grandpa’s house, the stuff was always there. Neighing horses and beeping timers sounded at every bump.

But now, once and for all, it’s time to unload the trunk. It’s time to bring it back in. It’s time to bid farewell to friends who stood the test of time. The great ones, the loved ones, the classics, the ones that worked for every kid regardless of their disorder or delay. It’s time to say good bye.

Dearest toys and materials, I’ve known you all too well. What works, what doesn’t, the words I’ll need, the response I’ll receive. I’ve loved you, grown fond of you, and relied on you. It’s been a good ride, friends, but it’s time to say good bye. Perhaps later we’ll play. Perhaps later we’ll learn together. Perhaps later we’ll grow together. But for now? You’re heading back to the closet.

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Hopping Frogs, you always served me well a minute or two. Hop goes the frog across to the log. Green frog or pink frog, which do you choose? Mom’s turn or Sam’s turn, which will it be?

Stringing fruit (a.k.a. beads disguised as fruit), you’ve seen your days. The frayed edges of your box prove you were well loved. Yes, your fruit shape distinguished you as most clever, most interesting to toddlers and preschoolers. Swooshing down the line to mom or dad, and swaying in the breeze were your specialities.

Oh train. I can’t bear to throw you away. You were tried and true for so many years. Your $10 price tag was long ago worth it. And now, you barely move. New batteries won’t do a thing for you, Mr. Train. I’m so sorry. I’m not sure what to do. So there you go, back in your closet where you’re free to stay a lil’ while longer.

Sweet Nestle Quik boxes, I never really knew your name. Who knew you’d be a hit?! The kids did, that’s for sure. Pull, pull. Up, up. Then shake those eggs and wave those scarves. Your simplicity was golden. Your fray-edged ribbons show your wear. Good bye, dear one. Good bye.

Seek-n-Find puzzle, you were amazing. Absolutely amazing! You were, without a doubt, a tried and true. Your box is held together with layers of clear packing tape. I put together your edges, corners, and middle pieces countless times. Out of your 24 pieces, only 1 wasn’t optimal for speech and language. That means you’re reliable, Mr. Puzzle. You’re dandy. There’s no way I’m getting rid of you.

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Dear picture cards, this is just the beginning of your collection. How many times we flipped through, set up, chose which ones we were going to do. I have a hunch you’re becoming obsolete, but to me, you made life complete. You’re as good as a guarantee to me. Pair you with any game, and we are good to go.

Magnetic ice cream and cutting fruit and veggies, you’re awesome, a wooden delight for all ages. You were so useful, I bought four versions of your Melissa & Doug goodness. Thank you for the days of velcro-ing, cutting, and velcro-ing some more.

Lids ‘n Lizards, Jeepers Peepers, and Grammar Gumballs. Who knew you’d be so popular? Who would’ve ever guessed? Super Duper knew what they were doing when they made you. Your catchy rhyme-y names suggest your creators were speech therapists, proving simple + clever is definitely best.

Oh tried and true board games. You’re my faves. Your boxes are torn, taped and ripped to shreds. Zingo, Don’t Break the Ice, Caribou and Counting Cakes. We’ll never forget you, Bunny Hop. You were the fave of the faves, the best of all, my most prized possession as a speech therapist, the toy that worked for everyone, every time. Those bunnies, they never stopped surprising. Rest in peace for now, dear friends. You played well.

Little bears, oh how I loved and hated you. One thing’s for sure, you made my job a lot easier when it came to following directions. Who knew tiny colored bears would do the trick? But you ticked me off more than once when you fell out of the trunk onto the icy, snowy ground and spilled all over driveways. Oh, how you ticked me off. I knew that was it, once and for all, when that box of yours broke into tiny pieces, strewn all over a driveway on the coldest of winter days. Oh, how I hated you then. I didn’t hold my tongue as well as I should have when I went into that house. “Oh, what a blessing it is for you to come so families don’t have to travel in this cold.” But my mind kept spiraling back to that icy driveway and how naughty you’d been just minutes ago.

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You’re a little bruised, too, gears. Your corner broke off when you slipped out of the trunk onto the cold, icy driveway. My use of you waxed and waned, but only because you were so good. I used you so much that I fatigued of you. I simply had to get a break. I didn’t bring you much those final days. Your C batteries were all used up. I intended to refill you for sweet “T’s” play, but never got you back for that one last day.

Oh, Fisher Price Loving Family and Snap ‘n Play babies, dogs and dolls. I bought up every Snap ‘n Play before you left stores. You were so good, oh so good. Every mama and grandma wanted to know where I got you. Who knew you were a great gift, too?! But I was never sure of you, Fisher Price Loving Family. You were hit or miss, never in-between. So you came out and stayed to play, or got put away right away. Good bye friends, I’ll bring you back out for the grandkids.

Random bag of trinkets, nobody told me about you in grad school! Who knew these tiny treasures could entertain for 45 or 60 minutes? I wanted to buy more of you on eBay, but never got to it. I just kept on collecting you, one by one, until you added up to two bags full. I’ll never forget the seconds of fun you brought to the tabletop.

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And then there’s you, oh you. Connect 4. Deluxe Version. How many times did we play? You never got old, you never wore thin. Never. Ever. We could’ve played all day. You served as a distraction between bouts of super hard work, a reminder that we’re human, a reminder that kids who have speech and language delays possess certain brilliance beyond measure of standardized tests. Connect 4, you’re perhaps the most memorable, impactful of all games, toys, and materials. Because you showed me that these special kiddos are more than their speech, more than their language. They’re human. They want to win the game of life, too.

He won nearly every time. I had to concentrate hard to win. It was clear he was genius with his hands and just about anything visual-spatial. 

That last day, I lifted Connect 4 out of the bag and sat it on the table along with some picture cards.

We were about to start playing and drilling one last time, but tears welled big in my eyes.

I told him I was proud. He’d worked so hard. He’d come so far. We’d done this together.

Then, after we played, after we drilled, after we worked hard all over again…

Back in the bag you went, back in the trunk, then back in the closet. 

I packed you all nice and tight. I’m closing the closet. For now, good night.

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With gratitude and love,

orangesig

To all the Dads, Mamas, Siblings and Special Ones

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To All the Dads, Mamas, Siblings & Special Ones:

You’re on my heart this week. You’re on my mind. 

For 14 1/2 years, I’ve visited your homes, entered your sacred spaces, assessed and treated your special little ones. My days as a speech-language therapist are coming to an end. At least for now, maybe forever. Only God knows.

But you, you will never leave my heart.

You’ve made a lasting impression. You’ve changed who I am. You’ve molded me into a better person. You’ve altered my heart for humanity in a way no one else could.

You see, you are special. You are like no other.

Special dads, I’ve seen you. All the varieties of you. The worker dad. The business dad. The hands on, loves like a mama dad. The dad who’s not sure what to think. The dad who’s not sure what to do. The dad who knows exactly what to do. The dad whose eyes tell it all. The dad who knows his son, his daughter’s like no other. The dad who looks his child in the face and sees it all. And loves anyway. Even when it’s hard. Even when being a dad’s nothing like you expected it to be. I see you longing to do something, anything to help. I see you doing all you can, everything you can. I see you working hard for your family, with your family, providing stability and hope, even when the needs seem endless. I’ve seen you, dear dad, you’re a light, a strong presence in your household. Your child needs you. Your child thrives on your presence. You might not think so, but you know just what to do with that special child of yours. You are man, yes man. Still man, even though life’s thrown you a curve ball. Man, even more so. Man, because you stay, you stick with it, you do what’s right and honorable. And you love your family quietly, humbly. Because you know life’s course can change in an instant. Yes, you are a special dad. I see you. Thank you for who you are.

So much love

Special mamas, I’ve seen you. Take heart, mama. Take heart. You’re unique. You’re extraordinary. There’s no one quite like you, mama. What a lover you are. You love to no end. You fix boo boos and kiss cheeks, burp and clean spilled milk, pack lunches, transport and balance work and home life like any other mama. But you manage much more, mama. Therapies and visual schedules, meds and IEPs, evaluation reports and flash cards, you’ve seen it all now, haven’t you mama? You never knew motherhood would be quite like this. You wonder when your mama bear heart will be at peace, at ease with this special one’s needs you’ve been entrusted. Mama, you’re so good, you don’t even know how good you are. You’ve cried tears and held them back. You’ve worked like a dog. You’ve pushed and pulled back. You’ve prodded and been patient. You’ve known when hugs are today’s prescription. And you’ve known when hugs are an escape from the work ahead. Mama, you’ve done everything you can. Mama, you’re doing great. Mama, you are awesome, irreplaceable. Take care, mama. Make sure you’re doing something for you. Take care, mama, for you’re the cornerstone of your family’s heart and soul. Mama, you’re special. I see you. Thank you for who you are.

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Special siblings, I’ve seen you. Oh, how I’ve seen you. I’ve seen you in the corner, on the side, by the wayside. I’ve seen you waiting, wishing to enter in. I’ve seen you play, and I’ve seen you disappear. I’ve seen you ask and be turned away. I’ve seen your brilliance and your beauty. I’ve seen every bit of your potential flash before me. Don’t forget you’re special, too, dear one. I’ve seen your heart shine bright on the darkest of days. I’ve seen you help and teach and reach out and love unconditionally, like only a sibling of a special knows how to do. I know your heart, special sibling. I understand your position. Who are you? What’s unique about you? What makes you tick and light up? What causes you to keep on keeping on when everything feels impossible and forever? Cling to those truths, dear sibling. The years may be long, or they may be short. Whatever your truth ends up being, shine your light, special sibling. Your life is precious. Your life has purpose. There’s no mistake about your place. There’s a reason you’re there, right there, with that family of yours. Let your voice be heard, special sibling, let your place and your purpose be known. And don’t forget, you’re not alone. Yes, most definitely yes, you’re special. I see you siblings. Thank you for who you are.

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Special ones, I’ve seen you. Oh yes, I’ve seen you. Consider your position an honor. You teach us how to be gentler, kinder, more respectful and honoring of diversity in a world that feels monotone at times. You teach us how to be patient and tender, loving beyond measure. You know what it’s like to be poked and prodded, tested, drilled and worked hard. You’re constantly striving to live up to the measuring stick of “normal,” “typical” and “neurotypical,” but truth be told, you’re anything but typical. There’s no need to measure up, special ones. You’re you. Work hard, yes. Do what you can, yes. Exceed their expectations, yes. Listen to your dads and mamas, your special siblings and teachers, your therapists and your doctors, but know this, special ones. God sent you, created you just as you are, to reveal love, to show grace, to bestow blessing. You’re an angel on earth, here for reasons most can’t fathom. You’re more than a number, score or position on any standardized chart. You’re a treasure, a gem, one to be remembered for all the ages. Forgive us if we neglect your humanity. Forgive us if we ignore your limits. Forgive us if we don’t know, if we don’t quite understand what it is you need. You are accepted, as you are. You’re loved, whether you progress or don’t progress at all. Whether you eventually achieve scores “within normal limits” or continue presenting with “significant delays,” you’re deemed worthy. Because you are worthy. Yes, you are special. I see you. Thank you for who you are.

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Dear special family, I’ve seen you. We’ve worked hard together, we’ve loved together, we’ve faced trials and tribulations. We’ve sat in silence, laughed and cried with joy, wondered and wandered a time or two. We’ve known and we’ve not known at all. We’ve succeeded and we’ve missed the mark. We’ve fought for what’s best, for what’s right, for what’s needed and necessary. We’ve made calls, referrals and investigations into the causes of these needs. We’ve drilled and done the same things over and over and over again. It’s a fight worth fighting. It’s a cause worthy of care. It’s a life worth living. Every bit of our work together has been worth it.

But now, yes now, it’s time to say good bye. It’s time to set your family free to someone else who will do the therapy.

I may return, I may not. But this you must know. My decision’s not been easy. My decision’s not been light. My heart’s heavy and light all at once this week. For I’m leaving you, but following the call God has on my life to write, photograph, live, love and be an advocate for the voiceless of this world.

This, I promise. I will not leave you. I will not forsake you. I will not forget you and your special family. I will be a voice for you. I will help the world see your beauty for what it is – pure, raw, lovely, extravagantly and exquisitely unique.

What God has in store for the days ahead, I’m not exactly sure. But I know one thing for sure. I will continue to be your advocate. From this day forward. You can count on me to see you, to remember you, to acknowledge you and constantly remark that you are created beautiful, wholly unique, special like no other.

Thank you, special family.

Your place in my heart is permanent and prominent. Your story, it’s a beautiful treasure I honor like no other.

pinksig

 

 

 

NOTE: The two beautiful photographs of the girl who has down syndrome are courtesy of Andrea’s Photography on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

Valerie Perez Vega - My son is very special. He is delayed in his speech and social skills, and other developmental milestones. I also work with children in Special Ed, so your letter really resonated with me. Everyday, I am amazed by the strenght and determination of my son and the children I work with.
Thank you for writing from the heart. God bless you in your new journey!December 19, 2014 – 2:30 pm

Margaret Florip - A beautiful message, that means so much to so many. Thank you for sharing.December 18, 2014 – 12:39 am

Nicole Marie Newfield - Amy, I am going to print this out and post it at work. Love these words and know these truths. Thank you for writing this!December 18, 2014 – 12:06 am

Amy - I agree wholeheartedly, Diana. Thank you.December 17, 2014 – 8:59 pm

diana - Amen Amy. We don’t always know why certain people come into our lives or we into theirs but I always trust it is meant to be. Well done my friend and carry on!December 17, 2014 – 7:29 pm

When You’re Tired of Feeling Like There’s Something Wrong With You

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Friends, there’s something I must confess…

Most of my adult life, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that something’s wrong with me. 

Okay, okay. I know someone’s thinking I’ve gone way too far with this admission. But it’s true. And I’m stating it publicly on purpose – to make a point and help others in the same boat.

Because here’s the truth…

I’ve just recently become more convinced than ever that there’s NOTHING wrong with me.

Why, you ask?

Mid-November I took a personality test that came through my Facebook feed. The resulting INFJ personality type didn’t surprise me a bit.

You see, I’ve taken those Meyers-Briggs personality tests before and I’ve always gotten the same answer, INFJ. But for some reason, I never fully bought into the results. I thought it was possible INFJ was right on, but maybe not. The free online tests I’d taken seemed a little flimsy for my taste, so I wasn’t sure if I could trust the results. Plus, the descriptions and analyses of my personality never included much detail. So that INFJ personality type never fully resonated with me the way I’d hoped.

That is, until mid-November when I took this test. This is a winner. This is a good personality test.

Friends, if you’ve ever looked for a thorough, but user-friendly personality test that also includes a detailed, multi-faceted description of your unique personality, this is it!

No longer do you have to feel like something’s wrong with you.

No longer do you have to feel like something’s not quite right with you.

No longer do you have to compare yourself to others or wonder why your perspective on life seems different than everyone else.

I’m not a psychologist or personality expert, so I have no intention of explaining each one of the 16 personalities in detail. I’ll leave that for the online personality test. But I do want to say this – I’ve come to believe that identification of your unique personality is a CRUCIAL part of discovering and walking boldly in your purpose.

Here’s why…

According to this test and others similar to it, humans fall into ONE of 16 different personality types.

My personality type is INFJ. After taking this personality test, I read the pages of information the site had about my particular personality. There were many take-aways, but this was by far the biggest. My personality, INFJ, is very rare, “making up for less than one percent of the population.” This was monumental news, friends. Less than 1% of the population has my same INFJ personality? Yahoo! Hip hip hooray! Hallelujah! I’m not weird! I’m not crazy! There’s nothing wrong with me! Praise the Lord!

Seriously friends, this test made me feel so good, so at peace with myself.

At this point, you might be thinking…

“Well, good for you. You’re an INFJ (whatever that means), but what about me? What about my personality type?”

Friends, there’s good news for everyone!

Feel free to skim this data, but I’d like to share the site’s 16 personality types and corresponding percentages of the population to make the point that all of our personalities are rare and unique.

Personality Types and Corresponding Percentage of the Population

INTJ: 0.8% of the population

INTP: 3%

ENTJ: 3%

ENTP: 3%

INFJ: <1%

INFP: 4%

ENFJ: 2%

ENFP: 7%

ISTJ: 13%

ISFJ: 13%

ESTJ: 11%

ESFJ: 12%

ISTP: 5%

ESTP: 4%

ISFP: percentage not reported

ESFP: percentage not reported

Friends, rest in peace. This is GREAT NEWS! In case I haven’t been clear, all of those letters, all of those numbers mean you’re perfectly unique, perfectly normal, no matter who you are! Factor in your unique biology and the unique environments in which you’ve lived, and there’s no doubt – there’s nothing wrong with you.

Sure, you might have faults. Sure, you might feel broken. Sure, you might have weaknesses you wish you didn’t have. Sure, you might be going through the most horrible time of your life and you have no clue what to do. But nothing about you is “wrong.” You’re perfectly YOU.

Whether your personality is similar to 12% of the population or 0.8 percent of the population, God created you. He envisioned you just the way you are.

So if you haven’t already, take that personality test! I recommend it without reservation.

Just click here —-> This link will take you to 16 Personalities at www.16personalities.com where you can take the test for yourself! When you’re done, be sure to “Explore Your Type” and read all about your personality. It will put you at ease about who you are and how you were made.

Take time to answer the questions thoughtfully and read through the material thoroughly. Enjoy yourself, and when you’re done? Return to the blog and share your personality type if you’re willing. I’d love to hear and chat all about it.

I think you’re going to love this. Go, have fun.

orangesig

Vicki Thunstrom - Amy, I read this yesterday and followed the link to the test. I just think it is awesome how God continually uses you to encourage me in my walk. All week I’ve been thinking about personality types (I was at an event earlier this week where the guest speaker was talking about personality types!) and who God made me to be and authentic living, etc. This test was so spot on and it also helped give me insight into how to better move forward with my dreams and goals! Thanks for sharing this! :)December 13, 2014 – 4:26 pm

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Giveaway!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It’s the song I’ve heard most this season. It’s the song that’s resonating most with me this year.

Last Christmas, Apple launched an ad that featured the Harris family and a “misunderstood” teenaged boy on his iPhone. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the most brilliant, heart-warming and moving ads I’ve ever seen. It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. Remember the song that accompanied the ad?

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

(After you watch the video – it’s only 1 minute 30 seconds – make sure to keep reading. I’ll be sharing more about my Merry Little Christmas Giveaway!)

I wonder what it is that you need to have a Merry Little Christmas this year. Love? A big bear hug from someone who really cares? Space to breathe? Peace and quiet? Forgiveness? Words of affirmation that everything’s going to be alright? Quality time with friends and family? Understanding we’re loved by a great big God who sent tiny baby Jesus to save us from the brokenness and pain we experience every day?

I don’t know your most intimate needs this Christmas. But I do pray that the longings of your heart and soul will be fulfilled. I do want you to have a Merry Little Christmas. And I do hope that one of these three giveaway packages could bring you a bit of joy this season.

Between now and Friday, December 12th at 9:00 CST, I’m giving away three Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas packages! The three packages are pictured and detailed below. At the end of this post, you’ll find a Rafflecopter sign up for each package. Sign up for one, two, or all three. It doesn’t matter to me!

Maybe you could use a package yourself, or maybe there’s someone you could gift a package to this Christmas? Either way, it’s all good. Take a peek. See what sparks your fancy. Which package would bring the most joy? Which package meets your needs this Christmas?

For Parents of Littles.

A beautiful hardcover children’s book titled God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner, an accompanying set of encouragement notes for your kiddos, and a night light to remind your little one that there’s always light, even in the darkest of nights. And for you? The Love Dare and The Love Dare for Parents books. Because if there are two things worth investing in this Christmas and moving into the new year, it’s your marriage and your kids. Maybe this package is for you?!

DSC_2307For Parents of Teens and Pre-Teens.

Maybe, like the Harris family, you’re seeking a little wisdom as you parent a teen or pre-teen this Christmas. This package includes Dennis & Barbara Rainey’s book Parenting Today’s Adolescentas well as The Love Dare for Parents, because truth be told, we could all stand to learn some fresh ways to love our kids. This package also includes The Love Dare, because I’m a firm believer that children and teenagers need healthy, loving relationships modeled for them. Do you want to learn practical ways love your spouse even more this Christmas? Do you need a little insight as to how to navigate those teenage years? Then this package might be for you!

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For One Who’s Seeking Less. Or More.

I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re out there. Maybe you’re Longing for More, and could use Timothy Willard’s book. Maybe you just need some Breathing Room, and could use Leeana Tankersley’s book. Or maybe you just need a really good cry? The Notebook DVD will help you release those tears if nothing else will. Guaranteed. When I saw this movie in the theater the first time, I thought I’d nearly break out in ugly cry right there in my recliner eating buttered popcorn and Sour Patch Kids. So if you need more. Or less. Or an ugly cry this Christmas, maybe this package is for you?!

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The giveaway ends on Saturday, December 13th at 12:00 am CST. I need time to get these packages mailed and to your door before Christmas!

Enjoy, friends.

And Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

greensig

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Tiffany Femling - I think I entered and hope I win! ; ) great idea and great packages!!!December 12, 2014 – 8:22 pm

Tara Dorn - Thank you for the opportunity to enter, Amy! I have reasons for entering each of the drawings. The God Made Light book is beautiful! The Love Dare for Parents would be especially good to read and do, as would The Love Dare. I can use all the help I can get with my almost 11 year old girl…this preteen stuff is hard! The last package is great, too! I love reading The Notebook and Breathing Room and Longing for More also speak to me. Such wonderful choices to giveaway!December 12, 2014 – 1:39 am

Vicki Thunstrom - We don’t watch much tv so I hadn’t seen this ad before! Now I’m at my desk with tears in my eyes! I’d love to read several of these books. My son is approaching tween (he’ll be 11 next month) and it is so hard to believe! Any help is so beneficial!December 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm

Monica Anderson Palmer - This is such a fantastic idea Amy….I’m entering because the whole “parenting teens” has got a hold on me! As always….touched by your words and holiness!December 11, 2014 – 3:46 am

Amy - Thanks, Shawna! I’m right there with you. Merry Christmas to you, too!December 10, 2014 – 5:01 pm

Shawna Peters - Hi Amy! What a beautiful idea! I love the idea of seeking more, and less! Merry Christmas!December 10, 2014 – 4:13 pm

My Life. Part Two.

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God began calling me to write all the way back to 2003. But I didn’t launch my blog until July 2012.

I wasn’t blind and deaf to the call at all. I was busy working as a speech therapist, buying houses, taking vacations, and having babies with my college sweetheart. I was busy living the American Dream.

The call to write continued. It was quiet. Nobody knew but me. But God was persistent.

After many years of feeling called, I began to wonder if I was imagining things, if I was daydreaming crazy visions out of thin air. To remind myself of the events I considered signs of the call, I combed through old journals and pieced together proof through the years. It was obvious. A story had unfolded. So I put it together tidy and titled it the only way I knew how.

A Possible Calling.

I’ve debated this calling. I’ve doubted it. Believe me. It’s been a journey.

I’ve sought wise counsel. I’ve prayed. I’ve thought, then thought some more. And bless his soul, I’ve talked to my husband about it hundreds of times.

I have a tendency to be a people pleaser, to do what’s “right” and “good” by all-American girl-next-door standards, so ultimately, I had to step away from all the voices, be still, and sit with God.

Yes, it was then that I knew. This is what God has planned for my life. This is what He wants me to do. This isn’t the American Dream, it’s a God-Sized Dream. All was good between me and God. He’d called me to write, and now, I would write even more. The dream was ready to take flight.

But making dreams reality hasn’t been a walk in the breeze. I could have given up by now, I could have given in. I could’ve said forget it, because all this wonder and worry isn’t worth it a bit. There’s no degree, no guarantee, no paved path, no pay for this way, at least for today.

When in doubt, I returned to the peace I experienced between me and God. I couldn’t ignore that. I couldn’t pretend those pieces of proof didn’t exist. I couldn’t disregard every pull of my heart for the last 12 years. I couldn’t deny this feeling I was supposed to transform my work life completely.

I knew very clearly, all the way back to August 2012, that changes were coming. My husband and I began discussing options. But it wasn’t until August 22, 2014, that we made our final decision.

My last day of work as speech-language pathologist will be December 18, 2014. 

I realize that statement is dramatic, feels permanent, and might concern people who believe I’m wasting my master’s degree and 14 1/2 years of on-the-job experience. Here’s what I want you to know. I’ve pondered each word of this post carefully. My husband and I have thought through this decision extensively and exhaustively. Rest assured. There’s always a chance I’ll return to speech therapy in the future. This may end up being a sabbatical. Or it may end up being permanent, an early retirement from speech therapy. Time will tell.

Here’s what I know for sure.

I’ve been working as a speech therapist for 14 1/2 years. I strongly believe that my work as a speech therapist has been training grounds for what’s to come. Nothing has been wasted. I’ve served my patients and families well, to the best of my ability. I’ve given them my 100%. We’ve worked hard together, we’ve loved together, we’ve been patient together, and we’ve made progress together. I’m grateful beyond measure. And I’ve learned oh so many things.

Who’s to say I won’t be called back to speech therapy someday?

But now, it’s time to take what I’ve learned and apply it elsewhere.

This is my life. Part two.

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HOME AND FAMILY

I’ve never considered myself a full-time stay-at-home mom type. I’ve worked the whole range of 1-5 days per week since we had our first child 12 years ago. But now, I’ll be dedicating more time to our home and family. I’d like to declutter and get life in order. I need whitespace to breath, be and create. I want to live more freely and love more deeply. I want hot homemade dinners, chocolate chip cookies after school, and summers free to roam with the kids while they’re still somewhat small. I want to hear my husband out when he comes home from work instead of tuning everything out because I’m so stressed out from the day. It’s time to inch my way through the ridiculously high stacks of books in our bedroom, and maybe I’ll finally have time to check out the women’s bible study I pass every Thursday morning on my way to work. I’d like to keep an even closer eye on our family finances. And I’d love to invest in friendship because it’s been on the back burner far too long.

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SPECIAL NEEDS PHOTOGRAPHY

In early June, it occurred to me that I’ve LOVED taking pictures my whole life, but constantly stuffed the dream of becoming a photographer down deep. So I’m pursuing this passion to the next level. I purchased my dream camera in September. Its capabilities are beyond my current abilities, people. And that’s a good thing. That’s what I wanted. I wanted a camera I can grow into. So I’m going to EXPLORE special needs photography. I’d like to use the skills I’ve gained in 14 1/2 years of speech therapy and take them to the next level. Instead of focusing on fixing deficits, I’d like to focus on the inherent beauty of special needs. I’m skilled at developing rapport quickly, and I’m comfortable in just about any family’s home. So I’d like to give this a whirl. My short-term goal is to give away a bunch of FREE special needs photo shoots so I can gain experience, build a portfolio of work, and determine if a part-time business is viable.

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WRITING

Writing will become my primary work focus. I’m currently publishing blog posts at a rate of 2x/week. My publishing frequency will likely increase to 3x/week by early to mid-2015. In September, I launched a new long-term vision for my blog. I’ll be writing content even tighter within that vision. I’d like to connect deeper with other writers, and I’d like to attend more local and national writing conferences as finances and schedules allow. I’ve been asked to lead and join writing groups locally and online, I’ve been encouraged to write books, and I’ve crossed paths with a few people who have indicated interest in partnering for special projects. Ultimately, I’d like to use my gift of writing to advocate for people whose voices need to be heard more loudly, and to encourage others to live out their purpose.

So these are my dreams.

This is my life. Part two.

From here on out, I’m leaving a lot more room for God to work. There’s no specific path I can take that will ensure success at home, with my family, in writing or photography. There’s nothing I can do to make any of these things happen the way I’ve envisioned. All I can do is trust God’s leading me in the right direction, use my gifts to the best of my ability, wait, and trust that in the end, it will all piece together into a beautiful life story.

This is the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken, by a landslide.

I’m living with the end in mind. So while part of me is scared to death because this is not perfect or certainexpected or known, a bigger part of me is excited and humbled beyond belief. Because I know I won’t regret this. I know it’s going to grow my faith by leaps and bounds. And I know God’s going to prove He’s greater than any dream I ever imagined.

So here I am. On the edge of something new. My part two.

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Tara Dorn - Congratulations on your Part Two! I can’t wait to see/read about all that God has in store for you! Prayers for you on this new journey.December 11, 2014 – 7:50 pm

Amy - Thanks so much, Missy!December 10, 2014 – 5:01 pm

Missy Sterling - Good luck! I’ve toyed with the idea of a photography side business and just haven’t made the time for it. Go get em!December 8, 2014 – 11:29 pm

Tom Baunsgard - Amy, Congratulations on making the transition from “Life Part 1″ . Well Done! I’m praying that “Life Part 2″ will fulfill you. By taking God’s lead as you have, i’m sure it will. Blessings Abound!December 7, 2014 – 1:01 am

Amy - Thank you, Debra. I think you’re right!December 6, 2014 – 6:06 am

Amy - Jen, your comment made me laugh! I didn’t even think twice about that “short-term goal!” And now that you pointed that out, I’m pretty sure there’s a long-term goal somewhere in that post, too. Guess I couldn’t help myself! :)December 6, 2014 – 6:05 am

Valerie Hubel - Amy, this is great! I am so excited to see what will come from all of this. I so appreciate your open heart to God and being willing to take this huge step of faith. Hang on for the ride! I am praying for you!December 6, 2014 – 3:43 am

Peggy Lynn Groenwold - I really respect your action of taking a breather from your job. It’s obvious God wants you in another profession… It’s very exciting Amy, to feel and acknowledge God’s plans!December 6, 2014 – 1:51 am

Cindy L Meester - Your spirit and skills will shine along your new path. Best wishes and congratulations!December 5, 2014 – 10:09 pm

Antonio Macias - Awesome!December 5, 2014 – 8:35 pm

Amy Patterson Boyd - So excited for you. I can’t wait to see all that God will do through you. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers as you begin part 2.December 5, 2014 – 8:20 pm

Sandi Bishop - Our God is one of grand surprises. Bigger than any problem we encounter. Enjoy the journey!December 5, 2014 – 8:09 pm

Mary Katherine Boyle - What an adventure is ahead of you. What a joy you will bring to the world with your gentle soul and wise eyes.December 5, 2014 – 7:57 pm

Jen Fish - In the words of Stephen Curtis Chapman, “Saddle Up Your Horses”! So happy for you as you follow His leading. I love that you used the term “short term goal”. You are leaving speech language pathology, but it’s not leaving you : )December 5, 2014 – 6:31 pm

dibsondebs - The SLP in you will always be there and will just unfold in different ways. May this new journey be filled with wonderment, love, peace, fulfillment and happiness.December 5, 2014 – 6:09 pm