Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lake Forest Women's Retreat

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Last weekend was our Lake Forest women's retreat. I can honestly say it was one of the best weekends I have had in a long, long time. The above verse was our theme verse for the retreat and the topic was "Filled to Overflow." We talked about the four thieves that rob us as women from being filled to overflow- unmet expectations, comparison, busyness, and distractions.

It was a beautiful weekend in the mountains and it was amazing to experience it with 90 women! It has struck me again how cool it is to retreat with other people of like minds. These are some of the most beautiful women I have ever met. We laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and shared our lives together over a 48 hour period. Once we got away from our everyday lives and created the "space" to hear God and also hear one another, God saw that opening and moved in powerful ways! Women shared their pain, their struggles, and their joys together. Some met one another for the first time and began friendships over the weekend. Others had the chance to catch up with old I did. I was able to grab coffee with a dear friend for a couple of hours on Saturday.

The weekend filled my soul in so many ways. I am a believer in retreats!!! I saw firsthand God move in the lives of many women, including my own, and it was a privilege to be a part of it all. My prayer is that the "thief" will not steal what we received over the weekend and that God will continue to remind us all of the "good work"He did in our lives over those two days together.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I am in a club!

Do you ever feel like you have entered into a place where you feel part of a "club"? Clubs seem to have their own language, filled with people who share a common interest. Some clubs feel exclusive...and yet some are exclusive only because of what they share in common.

For example, I know many people who are in the "cancer" club. This is not a club they would have chosen to be in; however they have met so many new people though being a part of the "club." They have words that they toss around that only they really understand. They also have fears, thoughts and emotions that only people who are in that "club" really understand.

Then there is infertility. I have met some people in that "club". They support one another, ask questions of one another, share stories with one another, and I imagine they cry together too...joyful tears at times and really sad, disappointed tears at other times.

When I was pregnant, I definitely felt like I was in a "club" with all the other pregnant people I would see. Even the ones walking in a mall...especially during the later months of my pregnancies. We would give each other that knowing look like"Oh yeah, I understand how uncomfortable you are right now. Oh,and the nearest bathroom is right over there." (-:

There are all sorts of "clubs" out there...the "exercise fanatic" club, the "working mom" club, the "unemployed" club, and the list goes on.

The club I am in is one I joined on October 14, 2008 (the day Zach was born). It is the "MOM of a child with Down Syndrome" club. Now this is not a club I had any aspirations of joining. In fact, two years ago, I did not even know this club existed. I was hesitant to join at first, but as soon as I did, I was met with great acceptance , love, and an understanding that only mom's with these special kids can truly understand.

I went to dinner with six other mom's last night who are in this "club." We laughed together, and we shared stories. We talked about our kids and we shared tips, challenges, and funny moments that we all seem to encounter. We used codes like "PT, OT, and Speech" and no one had to even ask what those stood for. Well, this was because we all became quickly familiar with those abbreviations once we joined the "club". We go out once a month and have these "mom's night outs" and they have quickly become a highlight of each month. I feel understood when I am there. I feel supported. I feel like we can talk about anything-not just our children who happen to have Down Syndrome, but other topics as well-our jobs, schools, our "typical" children,our faith, and even our fears. I sat back last night and looked around the table. What a neat collection of women! These are women I respect because I know what they are going through! We all have different stories and different backgrounds, and yet we all share a common bond that has enabled the walls to come down quickly. It amazes me to think this is not a path I knew I would be traveling, but now that I am, well, I really enjoy it, feel privileged to be a part of it, and am thankful to have so many others to walk this path with me!

So, I realize little Zach is the one to thank for opening my world to this "club"!! If he had not entered my world, I would not have had dinner last night with some amazing women, who I have so much to learn from!

So, thank you God for this "club" fees, but GREAT rewards!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God knows just what I need

Yesterday I had an experience that reminded me that God knows exactly what I need.

The day began as every Tuesday morning does...with Zach having physical therapy. He works so hard in that hour each week-doing things that we take for granted like learning to walk, learning to kick, reaching for toys and then trying to place them where they go while trying to stand at the same time. I am always so proud of him and he really is making great progress.

But yesterday I found myself doing what I try really hard not to do, and that is looking to the future with Zach. I have found that when I focus only on the present, I don't get anxious or fearful, but when I begin to look to the future, I am sometimes overcome with the "what if's"? Yesterday the "what if's" came in the form of Zach's speech and language development, along with his overall social development.

Well, I did not really vocalize those thoughts yesterday but I did feel them in the pit of my stomach. I picked Taylor up from preschool and then took the kids to get haircuts. Afterwards as we were pulling into the garage, I realized we had left Taylor's lunch box at school, so we decided to go back to the school to get it.

We pulled up to the school and they had their "after school program" going. Kids were outside on the playground as we arrived. We got out of the car and I saw Mrs .Betty (one of our favorite teachers of all time!!) coming towards us and she had two little guys walking with her. I quickly noticed that one of them had Down Syndrome. Taylor and I walked up to them and Mrs. Betty introduced us to the boys. My heart melted as she introduced us to Clifford, the little guy with DS. Clifford immediately engaged us and asked Taylor her name. I couldn't help but put my arm around him and talk to him. He asked us a few questions and then playfully said that he had to go get a shovel, but he would be right back. He was absolutely floppy hair and a smile that was so captivating. I am guessing he is 6 or 7 years old.

When he walked off, Taylor turned to me and said "Mom, does he have Down Syndrome like Zach?" I was blown away because I did not know at what point Taylor would be able to recognize that, and I really had not expected that at 4 years old. I said "Yes, he does. Isn't that cool?" to which she sweetly nodded and smiled.

I was so moved by this interaction. I was encouraged by watching Clifford on the playground, going to get toys, and playing with his friends. Mrs. Betty even told me that once two kids were arguing over who was going to be Clifford's BFF (best friend forever). I can't explain how much it warmed my heart and gave me JUST the encouragement I needed yesterday. My eyes filled with tears because it was so like God to give me that SPECIFIC encouragement yesterday. There I was lamenting the fact that we had left Taylor's lunch box at school, and yet I came to find out that there was a bigger purpose for my opportunity to meet sweet Clifford!

Thank you, God, that even when I don't express my needs, you know exactly what I need. What a specific reminder of that yesterday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hey mom...

"Can you lay with me for just one more minute?" Those are sweet words that came out of Taylor's mouth tonight as I lay in the bed with her after tucking her in. Sometimes it just hits me as I look into her sweet, sleepy eyes...that she probably won't be asking that question forever. Some of my sweetest moments with her are putting her to bed. She seems to be the most tender, the most vulnerable, and even if she had been "extra spirited" (aka wild woman) during the day, she seems to be so sweet and snuggly at bedtime.

This week, a woman in the Down Syndrome Community in Charlotte who has been a part of our mom's group, did one of the hardest things imaginable this week...she buried her 8 month old son, Evin. He was a precious little guy who had some complications following heart surgery a couple months ago, and lost his battle this week. However I know that he is now whole and is no longer sick, and still I grieve so much for his mom. Evin was her world. Taylor and I had been praying for him every day on our way to school. The day after Evin died this week, on our way to school, after Taylor and I prayed for the day ,she said, "Mom, you forgot to pray for Evin." Well, we have just recently ventured into the subject of death and I did not know how to tell her about Evin, because right now she thinks people only die when they are really old (obviously we haven't covered everything yet). So, the words that came out of my mouth came with a lump in my throat "We don't have to pray for Evin anymore honey...he's all better now."

I write about Evin because I have been reminded this week, when my daughter asks me to lay with her for "one more minute" ,you better bet I will take it...and maybe even add a few more!