Saturday, January 7, 2017

blessed



To be blessed means what? When do we use the word "blessed"? Is it getting married, building your dream home, getting the promotion you've dedicated yourself to achieving, or maybe it's the raise you weren't running after that just fell in your lap?  Is it enjoying a much needed vacation, having a baby, buying a car, living a comfortable life, or getting your body in bikini-ready shape?  If I look at any social media outlet these are some of the most "#blessed" events in our lives.

I am concerned.

The first few months of our journey with our youngest son was blow after painful blow of hard news.  Riding the roller coaster of the ever present ups and downs resulted in emotional whiplash.  I would process my heart with my husband and be feeling such pain, heartache, and ambiguity to our future yet be so certain of the steadfast truth of the Lord's faithfulness to me.  He's committed to me. He would never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I ran to Him in my pain.  I began clinging to Him in a way I had never done before, never needed to before.

I would (and still do) cry out in anguish with raw emotion expressing how emotionally torn up I feel with an acknowledgment of how desperately I need Him - how I trust Him to be my steady amidst the chaos that continues to escalate.  Despite feeling like it's not possible for life to get any harder, the Lord continues to be amaze me by showing me depths of Himself I would have never known if the heat weren't continually turned up.  

You see, the Lord has blessed me beyond measure in very tangible, visible ways: my husband, our sons, my friends and family, each home the Lord has provided for us has met our needs perfectly for that season of life, vehicles, vacations/trips...to name a few.  As is part of what if means to be blessed, biblically.  The Old Testament, especially, is filled with practical blessings as we see them today.  Sweet provisions from the Lord, gifts we don't deserve.  Just as a Father who loves to protect and provide for his children, and a Dad who enjoys giving good gifts, the Lord in his sovereignty blesses us with sweet provisions and gifts we don't deserve still to this day.  I am blessed when I get to have a date night with my husband, I am blessed when Beckett has a successful surgery, I am blessed when Brody walks up to me and says "I love you, mommy" without prompting.  They are sweet gifts that I don't deserve - blessings.  But what about when our weekly date night get pushed back for weeks, or our date isn't as perfect as Instagram demands?  What about Beckett's unsuccessful surgeries?  What about when Brody is arguing with me for  two hours over a haircut (purely hypothetical, of course)?  Am I still blessed?    

My greatest blessings from the Lord are far greater than the "happy" moments.  In fact, what concerns me is the use of "blessed" as a substitute for "happy" or "brag-worthy".  The Lord showed His favor upon me the moment I became His beloved.  In that moment, I was blessed with a new identity and position of spending eternity with Him.  The greatest blessing of all.  The epitome of what it means to be blessed.  But the blessings haven't stopped there.  In the past couple of years, as life's comforts, reasonable expectations, and predictabilities have been stripped from me, I have been left barren.  The Lord has stripped me of things I didn't even realize I clung to in order that I might cling to Him in my desperation.  I am blessed when I am stripped bare (or close to it) of any possible crutch, comfort, or easy status quo.  When life is comfortable I rely on myself and those comforts surrounding me.  It is when I am stripped of these comforts that I discover true satisfaction, joy, and contentment.  At the feet of my Savior, wrapped in His loving arms whispering "I am here. I've got you."  I am blessed when He graciously and tenderly reveals sin to me as He invites me for me in His presence in all my filth and wickedness to shed light on my darkness.  To reveal sin and offer hope.  I am blessed to repent as it offers freedom and affords me the opportunity to become more Christ-like, more reliant on the Holy Spirit, and into a greater depth of intimacy with Him.  I am blessed in my suffering.  I am blessed by my heartache.  I am blessed to be brought to the end of me.  For in these moments, there isn't much happiness, not many fun emotions often.  But a deep sense of joy, hope, and peace.  True blessings that transcend happiness.  True blessings that deepen my roots into my Father.
      
Many times have I said, "I wouldn't wish this upon anyone."  The more I've said it the more I've realized as much as I would never want the heartache, grief, or suffering for anyone - the sweet intimacy I've become familiar with as a direct result of the heartache, grief, and suffering is something I do wish and pray for, for everyone.  It is in the hardest seasons of my life that I have been blessed in ways that are indescribable.

When I pray to be blessed - this is my new way of praying.  It is easy to pray to be blessed or pray for blessing for others when "blessed" can be substituted for happiness.  It is not easy to pray for these specifics straight out of Matthew 5 and other Scripture that addresses what it really means to be blessed.





 

Friday, December 30, 2016

I Can't

"It takes a village, Amy," she said with a sweet smile and innocent intent.  

I nodded politely to the remark while deep down believing the lie that it would never be me.  I would NEVER need that kind of help.  I would NEVER not be able to manage my own life by myself.  At the time, I was a new mom and had the primary responsibility of being a stay-at-home mom and working part-time with a college ministry. A simple life; how could it not be easy to manage what the Lord had entrusted me with?

As the weeks of having a newborn drug on, I would think about that comment often, yet not allow myself to acknowledge my desire for help.  I would look around and see others in much harder circumstances and carrying more responsibilities and managing.  I refused to admit my feelings of failure.  I refused to admit that I wanted help, that I needed help.  After all I was just a mom - as my culture tells me.

Fast forward a few years and the lie continues to fight for control.  "Amy, you have to be able to do it all (AND do it flawlessly AND without effort AND in heels) in order to succeed at the life the Lord is entrusting you with."  My ego and my pride don't want to have to ask for help.  I don't want to humble myself and admit I can't.  I can't do it all.

In the past 20 months, having a child with severe physical disabilities and heightened demands, one would think it would have suddenly become easier to embrace help.  I wish I could say where the Lord has me now has cured me of this infectious lie; however, the lie permeates me to my core.  I look around at my life and see nurses buzzing around my home, a husband who rescues his damsel whenever she's in distress, grandparents that jump at a moments notice to commute hundreds of miles to offer relief, and friends eager to lend a hand.  How can I still feel as though I'm drowning? Why am I still exhausted from treading only to keep my head barely above water?

That's the problem with sin.  It runs so deep the roots become embedded so that if I prune the weed yet fail to remove the root, the roots remain and it's only a matter of time before the lies start to blossom again.  I pause and look at my life when I am at the end of myself and think, how am I not doing a better job?  Why is this so hard for me?  Remember, I am only a full-time, stay-at-home mom with grandmas to my children that drop things at a moments notice to help, a husband that serves me well beyond what I deserve, remarkable support of friends and family near and far, not to mention that I have nurses in my home roughly 84 hours each week.  The echos of the lies, oddly enough, become magnified.  Look at the village taking care of you and your family, and you still can't keep up?  

I must notice two things: I become focused on myself and how I measure up, and I fail to look to the limitless Lord I serve.  I have to remind myself, not only am I not enough but my children and husband have needs beyond me that I can't meet.  Spiritual needs for sure but also physical, social, and emotional as well.  I have limits.  I am not God.  Jen Wilkin describes me well in her book None Like Him. "...human beings [are] created to bear the image of God instead [they] aspire to become like God.  Designed to reflect his glory, we choose instead to rival it."  It is beautifully convicting for me to read.  In these moments when I feel like I can't, I am beginning to remind myself I am trying to be limitless.  To be God.  It's ugly.

I pray as I grow in my awareness of the depth of my pride and desire to be limitless, I would not simply prune a weed but pull it out at it roots.  To no longer be defeated by my limits rather embrace them.  To no longer deny my limits instead take joy in the humility they birth.  To no longer be stagnant in this area of sin but to allow my limits to teach me to have greater awe of my limitless God.         

I pray this brings freedom.  Freedom to experience the beautiful truth that at the end of myself I find the Lord. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Confession and Honest Plea

I have done it. I have noticed you at the park, grocery store, football game, or dentist office. I have seen you and in an effort to not be rude, I look away so as not to gawk. In my own discomfort, I assume avoiding is the "right" or "nice" thing to do yet curiously sneaking peaks. But now I am you. I am out in public with a child that looks different. And now that I am in your shoes I am learning. Learning what it feels like to be the recipient of gawking or looking away feels like. I am not hurt; I realize people generally and genuinely are curious more than anything.
My son may have ample accessories in tow, an entourage of helping hands, and look different which naturally draws attention to himself - but he is perfect. Yes, I see his tubes, umteen machines hooked up to him, his seemingly uninterested gazing, and his head banging. At the same time, I see so much more. I see right past it and see him for him: my son, an eternal soul, a boy who has my heart. I see a beautiful little boy who has likes and dislikes, one who feels physical pain and worldly delights, a boy that has a story to tell.
Everybody has a story: hurts, joys, hardships, and triumphs in life. And everybody's hard is hard, it doesn't need to be comparative. Beckett's is just harder [impossible, really] to hide. We have chosen to be very public with Beckett's story because we firmly believe his little life is glorifying to the Lord. His life, although marked by worldly hurt and pain, is making God's name even more real, sweet, and beautiful. We choose to share details about Beckett via Facebook, Instagram, and his CaringBridge site but we also welcome questions online or in public. In fact, we feel loved by them.
Children are the best at asking questions. In their unashamed inquiries as they try to figure out the world around them, they ask with boldness. Many times parents attempt to apologetically quiet their questions. I welcome them. They are refreshing to me. Let your children ask their questions. Let me teach them that differences are okay and not scary. Let's together help them see that even people that look different from them are worth getting to know and not looking away from. Let's not shy away from situations because they feel uncomfortable. Let your children learn about my son just like I have to teach our oldest about babies that look different from his brother. We have had countless conversations with big brother about how not all babies need breathing tubes as he observes babies that "don't need their tubes anymore" or when he asks where a child's feeding tube is.
I've often said, actually, that I should make a sign for Beckett's stroller that says something to the effect of, "ask your questions" because I know people of all ages are curious and I'd rather be able to respond to curiosity than empty stares or parents feeling uncomfortable and therefore dismissing topics that could be learning experiences. Earlier in the summer we were able to take Beckett to the zoo and ran into a friend and her three young boys. I loved all the attention they gave Beckett as they flooded our ears with questions. I loved every minute of it. I later thanked her for letting her boys be themselves by touching and asking. It ministered to my mama heart more than she could have known.
Again, my encouragement for you to ask and engage with families in public like ours comes covered in grace. I hope that you hear it that way. We feel loved when you acknowledge what we know you see, even if all you can muster is a smile in our direction. Today, as I walked through aisles of the grocery story I saw what appeared to be a father pushing his son in a wheelchair complete with machines and a nasal cannula. Although out of conversational distance, I made an effort to make eye contact and smile. His responsive smile told me he appreciated my acknowledging them. I can't speak on behalf of all families like ours but I would be surprised if they wouldn't agree; we love being approached and having opportunities to brag about our miracles.
Yes, please be gentle with your questions but trust that I can handle what you're wondering. Don't feel bad if I teach you a better way of phrasing or ask you to use hand-sanitizer. You can't know what you don't know, and I don't expect you to. What I hope you hear me saying though, is this; we feel loved by your questions - so ask away!   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dear New NICU Parent

Dear New NICU Parent,

Congratulations on your perfect, little miracle(s)!  I celebrate with you over the gift of life that you are entrusted with!  What a journey you are about to embark on, what a journey you are already enduring. 

Baby Beckett
For whatever brought you here, you are here.  No matter the duration of your stay, simply being admitted feels too long.  A place no one wants to be, a club no one aspires to join.  It is interesting, though, most “members” grow to not only accept this new club but welcome and rely on this new-found community that embraces them.  Among the doctors, NNPs, specialists, nurses, RTs, OTs, social workers, and even the other families you share soap with at the scrub-in sink there is a unique bond, a connection, a feeling of being understood when life is unimaginable for “nonmembers”.
 
While no two journeys are the same – I know I can’t completely relate to your individual story – I empathize with your pain, your heartache, and the “simple” things worth celebrating.  Like you, I have impatiently waited for test results in hopes to shed light on questions, circled the parking ramp antsy to get back up to fourth floor, and been forced to become fluent in a language I never knew.  I, too, have celebrated poop, food consumed by the mLs, grams gained, and every breath taken.  And as much as my family’s journey is no longer in the NICU, I am forever marked so I think of you and pray for you. 

This unit leaves a scar – a mark left by a healed wound.  So much depends on how and when that wound heals and how I view this scar.

First Family Picture (Beckett - 3mo)
        
In the rollercoaster ride that is the NICU journey, I have found my only true healing comes from the Lord.  Without Him, I do not know where I would be.  The heartache that comes with the fragility of a child’s life is incomparable – a depth of pain and grief only the Lord truly understands; only He can comfort the deepest parts of my pain.  I fight against the lie that sounds so esteemed: God won’t give me more than I can handle.  So much is flawed with that sentiment.  I am tempted to want to believe I am strong enough, but the truth is, I am not.
      
Philippians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  A more accurate way I read this verse is “I can’t do all things but He can.”  It reminds me that I do not have to muster up more strength to get through, I do not have to be strong; in fact, in my weakness I can tap into the Lord’s strength which is exhibited by the Holy Spirit in me.  I am grateful for the saving relationship I have with the Lord and because of this relationship I have access to the only source of true comfort, hope, joy, and strength that is needed to endure and thrive in a journey such as this.

I am grateful for the Lord throughout our family’s NICU journey and the countless people and prayers that were and continue to be a tangible reminder to us that the Lord is near through it all.  We needed people: the staff, our family, and friends.  Allowing people to support us in different ways was a significant element in our enduring and healing along the way.  But ultimately we had to let the Lord carry our sons (yes, both had their “first trip” before they even made it home) and carry us which freed us up to enjoy our front row seat to miracles abounding (both ours and celebrations other families shared with us)!

Love,
A fellow NICU family,
Amy (and my boys: Brandon, Brody, & Beckett)




Monday, May 30, 2016

Sprinting a Marathon

"I wish I could know if we are sprinting a short race or running a marathon."  It was the only answer I had when my dad asked me how we were doing.  He was standing across from me, with Beckett in his hospital crib between us.  It was last September - about a week after Beckett had been trached and only a few days past one of his desatting scares in which nearly a dozen medical staff flooded his room in the NICU to help him recover.  "I think you've already been sprinting a marathon," he responded.  

I felt a weight lift immediately.  It was freeing to have him affirm that this journey had already been long, heavy, and hard.  Freeing to have my pain acknowledged.  Freedom to call it a marathon, to slow down and pace myself.  

Last weekend our little family was able to participate in our local marathon and the events included.  Brody ran in a youth fun run.  His little three-year-old legs pedaled out a full mile.  He wasn't the fasted but he was steady, enjoyed his time, and finished with a big smile.  It was such a joy to experience this right alongside him.  He is so proud of his medal and has talked about "the run" every day since.  

The back of every medal given at all Fargo Marathon races has a verse on the back.  "...let us run with perseverence the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1) I think about this verse often as life certainly has felt like a grueling marathon for over a year.  What does it mean to run this marathon called "Life"? 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him, who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

There is so much going on here - way more than I'll go into but a couple things really stand out to me.  The first word is greatly significant.  "Therefore" implies that what was written before is connected to what is coming in the following verses.  Looking back we find Hebrews 11 which is a chapter in Scripture that is often referred to as the "Hall of Fame of Faith".  It is a list of forefathers that are remembered for their great faith that endured: Noah, Abraham, and Moses might be some of the most heard of but the list includes several others as well.  It is interesting that the highlighted character quality is faith as a lead-in to 12:1-3 which tells us about how to run the race of Life.  

The word faith has a rich history that has been lost over time in our culture's corrosion of origin meanings.  Follow me for a second: 

  • New Testament Greek is a noun, pistis.  
  • Pistis translated into Latin is fides.
  • Fides translated into English is trust, or faith.    

According to Webster's Dictionary today, faith is defined as "firm belief in something for which there is no proof".  This is concerning because when we use the word faith today, people assume it means putting your hope/trust in something that has no proof.  Very problematic.  Pistis - trust, confidence in, assurance.  Fides - trust, confidence, reliance, belief.  Anytime we see faith in the New Testament, we must use these definitions to accurately understand the context and meaning of the passage.  Faith in the New Testament is a firm assurance and absolute trust in that which is true and proven.  The author of Hebrews beckons us to hold strong onto faith in order that we may persevere.  Our journeys of Life will undoubtedly have even terrain, steep mountains, pleasant valleys, etc.; it is imperative that we place our faith on the only solid foundation - He is the only one that can sustain us to be able to keep on.  We have the perfect example of faith to look to in Christ.  It is He that we are running towards, it is He that motivates us to keep on in the race of Life.   

I am not an experienced marathon runner but any avid marathoner would be able to tell you that it is important to wear clothes you don't care about as your outer layers.  As you run, you will want to delayer and it is best to wear items that you don't really care about because you will not get it back once you peel it off and throw it to the ground as if it were trash.  In ancient Greek athletics the word ogkon is used meaning to throw off, specifically, weight or burden that which would impede upon them from succeeding in their competition.  Ogkon is used in this passage in the original Greek.  So what does it mean to "throw off" everything in the race of Life?

It's interesting that the passage says to throw off "everything that hinders AND sin that so easily entangles".  I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that the author of Hebrews is telling us to throw off two categories of things.  Sin seems easy to understand - anything that is actively against or passively indifferent towards God.  But what are things that hinder, other than sin?  I can quickly see things in my life that aren't sin in-and-of-themselves but can hinder my pursuit of Christ. Knowing myself, the things in life that aren't sin in-and-of-themselves but hinder me do actually become sin as I deviate from the direction of the race's finish line and detour to run towards other things - making things idols as I prioritize them before the Lord.  Things like wanting to be the "perfect" mom, time spent looking at home decor on Pinterest, demanding "me time" to be refreshed.  A desire to be a God-honoring parent, using money within our allotted budget to decorate our home, and needing time to rest are not sin and actually are great ambitions. It is when I allow these things to consume me; they kick the Lord out of His rightful place in my life.  Lord, may I be quick to throw off these things that weigh me down and impede upon my ability to run the race well.  May your Spirit make me aware of things that hinder and sin that entangles, cause me to call it what it is, confess to you Lord (and others), claim your forgiveness, repent, and invite people to pray for me in these areas.             

Brody fixated on the finish line.
 In the end, it doesn't matter our pace or place; it is important to realize that Life is an endurance race, a marathon, not a 50-yard dash.  Some legs we might have it in us to sprint, others we may barely be making any forward progress.  It is essential, however, that we keep the faith, throw off that which hinders and sin that entangles, and not lose heart.  A successful runner always keeps his eye on the prize - the prize of being fully reunited with Christ at the finish line and the prize of sanctification or holiness (becoming life Christ) along the way.  Remembering this truth allows us to not lost heart, particularly in stretches of weariness.  

I noticed that Brody's pace actually picked up at the end of the mile.  He saw the big inflatable "Finish" arch and it motivated him to dig deep.  He was excited to accomplish that which he had come to do.  I pray that this would be true of me in the race of Life by fixing my eyes on the finish line, it would enable me to press on.         


Proud Parents





*** 
Enjoy a favorite song of mine on my drives to and from the hospital last year.

I'll Keep On by NF

Be blessed.











Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Ambition

I have heard the phrase "new 'normal'"  or "your 'normal'" all too often in the past 15 months; I have used it for myself and more people have said it to me than I can recall.  I hate it.  I really do, and I use the word hate incredibly sparingly.  "New 'normal'" means a very different life than anything I had pictured.  It means adjusting to change, significant change.  It implies there is at least some sense of a "normal" that we all come to expect in this life and that chance of "normal" will never be my reality.

Over the months I have been grieving many "normal" things I expected at the discovery of pregnancy #2, things that are rightly anticipated when one finds out they are pregnant: I grieve my boys wrestling, I grieve Beckett running, I grieve having Beckett on my hip while I make dinner in the kitchen, I grieve juggling two kids while running errands, I grieve taking my two boys by myself to the park, I grieve traditional schooling for Beckett, I grieve hosting and entertaining in our home due to appropriate quarantining to protect Beckett's weakened immune system, I grieve Beckett eating solid foods, to name a few.  It is right to believe God for his goodness and expect a baby born in full health, the "normal".  After all, that is how He designed this world to function, in full health.

However, this world is so broken from sin that it can't possibly operate as it was initially designed.  We feel the hurt, aches, and pains from the brokenness every day of our lives: a family member is diagnosed with cancer, a drug overdose on the news, wars waging, a crippling sports injury, an affair of a spouse, the effects of an aging body.  Life as we know it is not how God wanted us to know it.  And it grieves Him, yet He isn't stuck in that grief.  He can see eternity because He wrote it so He knows how the story ends, or rather when the story is fully restored and truly begins. Therefore it makes sense He is not stuck in grief.  He is hope. He offers hope amidst the pain that surrounds us. The death of His Son offers rescue from our broken selves and world around us and a promise of eternity with Him in perfection (even better than "normal" on earth).  He is the reason I have hope, and don't remain stuck in my grief.  No, I can't literally see what lies ahead or what Heaven will be like entirely, but I have His Word which is truth and I can trust Him - literally taking Him at His Word.  I claim His truth. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4) I trust His word. I trust Him.

In my mix of grief and hope I have been overwhelmed with tears, sadness, and heartache.  The road the Lord has us on is heavy and hard.  I have resolved to one thing, and one thing only...The Lord is the Rock on which I stand (Psalm 18:2).  He is my foundation, He is all that is guaranteed in this life, in my life.  In my grief, I have accepted the Lord's plans for my life but recently I have had a greater longer to embrace His plans.  As much as I have sensed a longing to embrace His plans I haven't known exactly what that looked like.  I have spent much time over the past several months praying for the Lord's help so that I could embrace the journey we are on only to come up empty handed as to what that even meant.

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embrace [em-breys] verb
to take or receive gladly or eagerly, accept willingly
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I don't want to simply accept the journey the Lord has me on.  In His holy sovereignty He knows what is best so my hope would be that I would embrace what He has for me.  That I would "take or receive gladly or eagerly" even and especially the hardship that comes my way.  But how?  How do I move from accepting (tolerating something falling in my lap) to embracing (welcoming something with open arms, with excitement and desire)?    

Last week, I had a some time to run a few errands by myself.  My final stop was the grocery store.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I was happy to find a spot close to the doors because it was an exceptionally windy day in Fargo and I didn't want to blow away.  I climbed out and tucked my chin down to my chest in order to brace myself a bit from the blast that was about to hit.  It was sure to be a quick, brisk walk - until I noticed a little train exiting the store.  It caught my attention and I immediately slowed my pace and lifted my head.  I saw a mom pulling her full cart behind her with her left hand and in front of her, maneuvering almost effortlessly against the wind, was her right hand pushing a wheelchair.  I fought back tears as I took in this sweet, beautiful sight and listened to her talk endearingly to her teenage son about the wind as he stared off unresponsive.  I couldn't escape thinking about what I just witnessed as I mindlessly completed the task of filling my own cart as I checked off my grocery list.  My heart burst with a deep desire for that to be me some day; I felt a deep longing to aspire to be just like that mom.  I want to have to juggle a cart and Beckett's wheelchair.  I want Beckett to be able to experience the simple, mundane task of grocery shopping.  I want Beckett's life to be lived fully with me right alongside him.  I want what the Lord has placed in my lap.  

Most of these thoughts were not new to me.  In fact only one was, but it was significant.  On my drive home, it hit me.  This is exactly what it meant to embrace the Lord's plans.  Not simply accepting and enjoying my life but to have a deep sense of longing for exactly what my life is.  I am reminded of a verse that I have clung to since high school.  Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  In my immaturity in high school I believed that truth but I didn't have the right lens with which to understand it theologically accurately.  In college my understanding grew and I realized by clinging to the Lord (delighting in Him) He would mold/shape my heart to beat for what He wanted to it beat for (create [His] desires [in my] heart).  This happened for me last week and I realized it in the most unusual of circumstances.  For months I have sought the Lord to understand what it looked like to embrace my "new normal"; He was doing a work in my heart to prepare me to understand it in the fleeting 15 seconds it took for me to walk into Hornbacher's on a windy day in May.  Those 15 seconds were incredibly impressionable and I will take with me for as long as I can remember.    

The Lord has given me a new ambition - to embrace this life the Lord is entrusting me with, to delight in being a mom to a child with special needs.  To eagerly anticipate, to welcome with open arms the unique and special journey I will be on with Beckett.  My normal.  No, it's not what I pictured, but it is all that I will know.            

To the mom I don't know and may never see again - thank you for influencing my life.  Thank you for a beautiful glimpse into what will realistically be my future some day.  I am grateful for you.