Monthly Archives: December 2014
I was planning to take this week off from blogging. It’s the week between Christmas and New Years, and in less than two weeks, I’ll be heading to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International where I’ll be blogging up a storm!
But to be completely honest, I was drawn out of my well-intentioned blogging hibernation by two well-known bloggers, Michael Hyatt and Money Saving Mom, who published “Top Posts of 2014” last week. Their posts were interesting from my perspective as reader, and seemed to be eye-opening for the authors as well. I left wondering how this type of post would take shape on my blog.
So here goes, my Top 10 Posts from 2014! Perhaps you read them all, perhaps you missed a few. But definitely check them out! These posts were most highly read this year, and include many of my faves, too!
1: In Which I’m Throwing A Belated Retirement Party for My Dad
In this post, I threw a virtual retirement party for my dad. He spent his career as a public school band director, but due to an unfortunate series of events, never had a proper retirement celebration. This online gathering was successful beyond my wildest dreams! I’m still flabbergasted by the outpouring of response.
2: Serenading His Way to Big Dreams
This post features Pete Ford, a singer-songwriter I met at a local mall who composes and records personalized songs for customers. It was a delight to chat with Pete. And I’m psyched to report that after my blog post ran, Pete’s Serenade Store was was also featured by the Star Tribune and on Kare 11 News!
3: Where God Leads When We Listen: In Memory of Teresa Marie Hennen Moksnes
In this post, I shared a miracle I experienced at a cemetery. I was drawn to a young mom’s grave one summer evening only to discover that day would’ve been her 40th birthday. It was a significant honor to receive comments, Facebook messages and emails from several of Teresa’s family members who discovered the post after the fact.
4: When You’re a Single Mom Who’s Living With Mental Illness
This was the fifth post I published about my sister who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type, but the first she wrote herself. It was an honor to have Tiffany guest post and share what it’s like to be a mom of two who’s living with mental illness.
5: In Which I Follow My Little Girl Heart
This post couldn’t be any nearer or dearer to my heart. It’s the one in which I shared my journey to child sponsorship, my heart for Haiti, and announced my sponsor trip to Haiti with Compassion International in February 2014. It’s also the post that includes links to ALL the blog posts I wrote about my journey to Haiti. Love. Love. Love.
6: 31 Dreams From the Street
This post introduced my 31 Days series for 2014, Dreams from the Street. At the time this was published, I had no idea what I was in for. A whole month asking complete strangers one question (If you didn’t have to worry about money at all, what would you do with your life?) proved to be quite challenging. But I met a lot of inspiring people along the way, and all of their stories are linked at the bottom of the post.
7: Why I’m Taking a Three-Week Break From Blogging
In this post, I explained why I decided to take the biggest break I’d taken from blogging since launching the blog in July 2012. The break proved to be crucial in regards to gaining clarity regarding my call to write, and perspective about my future as a wife, mom, speech-language therapist and writer.
8: How To Know You’re Done Having Kids
I really loved writing this post, and hope the moms who need it most will find it via Google search. Yes, I finally know what it feels like to KNOW I’m DONE having kids. This was a huge breakthrough for me. I spent many years wondering if we were done having kids, then after our third, I finally knew. We were done. Questioning whether you should add another member to your family? Maybe this post is for you.
9: When God Fulfills the Dreams of His Little Girl’s Heart
This was my ninth most popular post of the year, and a very special one at that. In this post, I share the awesome news that Compassion International invited me to join a sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic with two other writers in January 2015. The trip is coming up soon! Maybe you’d like a refresher before I go? Check it out. I can’t wait to share the journey with you.
10: Dream 7: Therapies and a Bucket List Blessing
I just love this post. It was one of my faves from 31 Dreams from the Street, and the second most popular read from the series. In this post, I feature Lisa, whose son has autism. Lisa shared her dreams for her son, for her marriage, as well as her dreams for herself. It was an honor to spend time connecting with Lisa, and a privilege to share her story. To see the support and positive feedback Lisa received from friends and family when she shared this post on Facebook was pure joy. Blessings, Lisa.
Well, I’ll leave it at that friends! Hope you enjoyed a post or two you hadn’t read before. We’ll see you around here next time.
We decorate our trees with ornaments old and new. Store bought. Homemade. They remind us of good days, and days that weren’t so good at all. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas streams in the background. Memories swirl in the invisible. We’re joyful, for sure. But below the surface, there’s a longing, a yearning for more. More than this.
We hang our stockings by the chimney with care, in hopes Saint Nicholas will soon be there. We ponder over stuff used to fill. Maybe it’s too much. Or perhaps, not enough.
We place presents under the tree, sweatshirts adorned with AWESOME, tractors made from recycled goods, gift cards and chapter books. Our desire’s to show our affection, our devotion. We love because He first loved us. But we’re really not sure when enough’s enough. One? Two? Twenty? How many will it take for us to feel, to know we’ve done enough, said enough, given enough, helped enough? How long will it take for us to know we’re enough? As we are. Goods or no goods.
We adorn our houses with care. Snowmen, snowflakes and Santa Clauses. Candy canes, wreaths and lights up the wazoo. Our goal? To make it just so. We waffle like bobbling dolls and teeter totters. One day, life’s good. The next? It’s wrong. All wrong. Our hearts long for eternity, our instincts tell us there’s more than this. We decorate to acknowledge beauty’s waiting to be uncovered, even in the mundane, even in the most dreary and disgusting of days. Beauty matters. Even so. Even when.
We debate the goodness of Christmas carols. One loves Emmanuel, the other claims to hate Noel. One friend has seven Christmases because of multiple divorces. And another’s at risk of landing in a shelter because they’ve fallen off the wagon…again. An old friend lost her mama this year, and let’s be real, somebody’s baby is starving tonight. We argue about going to this church or that one. We’re not really sure we have a church home anyway, but we get dressed up and go anyway.
We prepare Pinterest-perfect peppermint mousse cups. They’re pretty. Good in theory. But horrific in reality. We taste one spoonful each and agree. Horrible. Terrible. They’re tossed in the garbage in a big ol’ bag. And two hours before guests set to arrive, we run to the store for dessert number two’s ingredients. A good old fashioned trifle from the recipe box suffices. Fine. Just fine.
We set the table, take great care. Cooking, baking and scrubbing have consumed our days. We long for unity, community and love, unconditional. It’s grace that gathers us. There’s no other way. We pass the bowls, serve the kids, and seat granddad at the head of the table. We pray. There’s no other way. Today, we’re desperate for this gathering, this being together as one. Yes. When we finally sit, we know. We’re one body, many parts, all longing to play our part. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
We wait. For Old Saint Nicholas. Soon he’ll be here. He’s gentle and loving, tenderhearted and giving. He wouldn’t harm a soul, the father figure we’ve all longed for. Whether we believe or don’t believe, we can’t help but love him anyway.
He’s patient. He’s love. He’s divine. He’s come.
Jesus, yes Jesus.
Come. Come. Come, this day, oh Christmas Day.
He’s Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus, yes Jesus.
You’re just what we need.
A Mighty God.
A Prince of Peace.
Come, oh come, Emmanuel. God, be with us. This day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With gratitude and love,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NOTE: The two beautiful photographs of the girl who has down syndrome are courtesy of Andrea’s Photography on Flickr’s Creative Commons.
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.
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
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.
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