Saturday, March 30, 2013

Me Observa

 photo MeObserva_zps8c933fa7.jpg
photo credit: kyle zehr

For so long in my Christian walk I've feared God.  Not in the way you should, in adoration of His awesome power, but fearing that He was waiting for just the right moment to punish me for all of the things I had done in my past.  I carried a lot of guilt for the life I lived before I knew Him as my Savior and I could never wrap my mind around the fact that I was forgiven completely and that my slate was wiped clean by his love and mercy.

A few days ago I was on one of my morning runs and I was listening to Kari Jobe's spanish album.  The song "Tu Eres Para Mi" came on.  It means "You Are For Me."  I've listened to the song many times, both in English and Spanish, but this time was different.  I knew in my spirit as soon as the first notes were played that God was speaking to me in the intimate way only He can.

I was listening closely, mouthing the words as each foot hit the pavement.  I was waiting for what I knew was coming.  And then the words came, "Me observa."  If I had been listening to the song in English it would not have had the impact that it did.  "Me observa" in English means you watch me or you see me.  And although it sounds nice and pleasant in the language that I grew up speaking, it meant something totally different in the language I am learning and am still a student of.  "Me observa" in Spanish is something so much deeper.  Although it means "to see or to watch" in it's literal terms, it also means "to observe."  It was right in that moment that I knew what God has wanted to say to me all along.  I have known and loved Him for almost 12 years but he has KNOWN and loved me my whole life.  Not in the way I've thought, like a God disappointed in my actions and waiting for an opportunity to teach me a lesson but like a new Dad who gazes upon His newborn and loves her from the second He lays eyes on her.  Observing her eyelashes and her pouty lips, the tiny hairs on her cheeks.  Memorizing her and breathing in every ounce of her.  His love growing more with her every breath.

God hasn't been watching me, waiting for me to make more mistakes and wondering when the right moment is to punish me for the things I've done.  He's been observing me, as a good Father would, allowing me to make those mistakes, knowing that sometimes it is the only way His daughter would learn.  He could rescue me from the pitfalls that this world offers me but every good parent knows that rescuing their children every time they are going to fall only enables them to keep repeating their behavior.  As hard as it is, as heart-wrenching as it is to watch His daughter struggle, and hurt, and fall and scrape her knees, He knows that these things shape her.  That they make her acutely aware of the ability she has within herself to call upon her Daddy whenever she wants, not to rescue her from the things that are put in her life, but for Him to hold her, kiss her forehead and tell her that He understands.

"My child, my beloved daughter, you have no idea how much it hurts me to see you going through this.  And although I can't explain it fully to you, as your Father, I know without a shadow of a doubt that it is what is best.  You may be mad at me, you may want to slam your bedroom door in my face, you may even say to yourself 'what kind of Father lets her daughter suffer like this?' but I see the final outcome.  I know where you will be in a month, a year, a decade.  And although I want nothing else than to rescue you, I am going to have to sit here, with you in my arms, letting your tears fall in my hands, instead.  Trust me...please trust me."

I do, Daddy.  I trust You.  I know that it is hard for You to watch Your children suffer in this world.  I can't even imagine the heartache You feel everyday knowing that You have the power to rescue us all but the time hasn't come to do so yet.  And until that day, when you WILL come and rescue us, I will settle for crawling into your arms, letting You hold me and watching my tears fall into your hands.

Because there is no safer place to be.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Colorado - our beautiful battlefield

I've been writing this post in my head for over a month.  Not really sure how to share what I want to share.  I want to keep private what needs to be kept private but write hoping that it can help another family that may be struggling with similar things.  I had a lot of time to think through the course of our lives over the past two months and it is all but remarkable where God has brought us to.   At the beginning of January, I would have told you it would have been impossible.


We stepped off the plane at the Denver airport after being delayed because of weather.  It was already dark and we had to locate our rental car place and still drive another 90 miles.  Mike and I were a little snippy with each other and the kids sensed the tension.  Neither one of them were exactly sure why we boarded a plane that didn't end up in the Dominican.

After waiting for what seemed like forever for a shuttle to take us to our rental car, we were on edge.  It had way less to do with a delayed flight and the inconveniences of airport transportation and way more to do with the reasons why we were in Colorado in the first place.

In March of 2012 our world felt like it was falling apart.  Our sweet, sensitive, endearing, caring and loving 4 year old became angry, violent and sometimes utterly belligerent.  It felt like it was completely out of nowhere.  Like, one day he woke up and decided to hate us.  He used words that were hard to hear coming from a child's mouth.  His actions were completely incomprehensible.  His demeanor and even his expressions changed to something we had never witnessed before.  It was scary and unnerving and we thought that this couldn't possibly be happening to our family.

Our first morning at The Ranch
After months and months of trying different things and meeting with different people I had resorted to the fact that this was going to be our lives forever; a child that we loved so deeply, falling apart at the seems.

We arrived at Blessing Ranch in absolute darkness; both literally and figuratively.  We unpacked our things and settled in.  The kids were burning off energy, because of an 8:00pm nap, by running circles around every room.  I sat on the bed and the unknown loomed over me.  What if this doesn't work?  What if this is what the rest of our lives will look like?  What if he only gets worse?  I cried again like I had almost every day for the previous ten months and Landon walked in on me.  I lied and told him I was just happy to be in such an awesome place.


I don't do well with the unexpected and I am always skeptical of quick fixes.  I didn't believe for a second that five days in a place could change the course of our lives, even though I really wanted to.  But I woke up early that first morning ready to give this place a shot.  I mean, what did we have to lose.  I rounded the corner from our bedroom to see a sight we hadn't seen in our late night arrival.  A wall of windows gleamed back at me as I stared at the blue mountain scape caressed by the most perfect color of orange terrain that seamlessly blended into one another.  Years of art classes and studying the effects of complimentary colors literally panned out in front of me.  God reassured me, only He can do something this spectacular.  It was as if that first glimpse gave me what I needed to throw caution to the wind and trust a Father who has been nothing but faithful since the day I first gave Him my heart.  My load was lightened.

I could tell you all about the two sessions a day of sitting in a room with an absolutely charming counselor who I was completely cold to for the first two days and with whom I became a blubbering mess of emotions with later.  About hours of Landon drawing pictures and meltdowns and then breakthroughs and things we had no idea about before our time there.  And how, by the absolute grace of God, Emi sat patiently and quietly for hours on end playing with Barbies and legos, all the while almost oblivious to the hurt and the fear and the tension melting away right in front of her.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

Our favorite little gazebo, Landon thought it was "so awesome"
We listened to our son talk about how when he gets upset about something it makes him feel "really hot" and then it makes him even more mad.  How he's scared to be alone in a room because "the devil wants him to be on his team and he's too little to fight him on his own."  How he feels so "out of control and wants to be nice" but he just can't.

I can't tell you how hard it is to hear your little boy say things that most forty year old men can't even express but the fact that he had the words to describe how he was feeling was, like I said, nothing short of a miracle.


We had nothing but time to spend with our kids putting puzzles together and going on "nature hunts" and playing Simon Says.  We were greeted with rabbits, deer and elk.  I've never had more of a desire to wake up early to see a sunrise in my life.  Every day we spent out in the wilderness I could feel my boy coming back to life.  And maybe I was coming back to life too.

This little blondie blended in with the background, it's a good thing we packed bright-colored clothes!
Not every moment was perfect and there were plenty of tough moments to account for but one thing that continuously rang on every thorny thistle and every mountain peak, was hope.  Hope for a future yet unwritten.  Hope for a boy who felt trapped in his overstimulated body.  Hope in a God that does nothing but mesmerize those who take a second to see His awesome power...even in the deepest valleys.


After only five days on The Ranch, we were equipped with a diagnosis, a list of activities to help Landon cope with his sensory issues and a plan to follow if we came upon any of the difficult scenarios we had been in over the past year.

After only five days, Landon improved drastically...and when I say drastically, I mean drastically.

Probably my favorite shot out of the 300 I took
God showed up.  Not in the way I thought He would and not even in the way I wanted Him to but in the way He knew would be best.  I've met countless people who have lost their faith or wavered in their faith when they couldn't see how God could allow something so awful to happen to them, if they were His so-called children.  What we have endured in the past year has been so excruciatingly painful that it wouldn't do it justice to put into words.  And it wouldn't do Landon justice to tell you either.  But what I can say is that God found a way to bring me to my knees every day.  To intervene for my son through prayer like I had never before.  To trust the steps He was asking me to take when I couldn't even see one foot in front of the other.  To bring me to a place of intimacy with Him that may have never been possible any other way.

The sunrise on our last morning.  The kids woke up early too and couldn't believe how amazing it was.
My son is not like your son and he will never be.  But he is beautiful and eccentric and artistic and loving and passionately sensitive and fiercely aware of a God who is taking him on his own journey, unique to him.  And I am learning more and more everyday since the trip to Colorado that God is doing the exact same thing with me.

This picture was taken a half an hour after the sunrise picture above...we literally watched the wall of snow hit us

"We too often forget that people will also follow our grief to get to Jesus. They will watch us on the day our spouse walks out the door or the business goes bankrupt or the child runs away or we receive an ominous diagnosis. They will watch...and they will look to see if the God we preached on our best day can sustain us on the hardest one." 

-Beautiful Battlefields, Bo Stern

***Landon was diagnosed on the spectrum of three things:  1) Hyperactivity 2) Sensory Dysfunction Disorder with an oversensitivity to movement 3) Spiritual Warfare...since our visit to The Ranch, Landon has had only two meltdowns in two months (and they were comparatively small).  He used to have at least two meltdowns a day.  We have restructured our days at home, implemented a lot more schedules and stick to a stricter diet for him (a lot less sugar).  It is incredible the changes we have seen. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quick Crafts for my sanity

Somehow I always forget how much I need creativity in my life.  I don't know how I could possibly forget this fact considering it has been engrained in my DNA since I came out of the womb.  Either way, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately and started reorganizing my time and looking for some margin in my life.  That's when I realized that I had not been making any room for a creative outlet.  My friends, Jackie and Audrey, are always inspiring me with their homes and how they make time to create.  And really, what girl can live without a little home decorating?  So this week, I reintroduced my "15 minutes of quick crafts for my sanity."  Each little project didn't take any more than 15 minutes each and can be spread out to a little each day or, like this morning, I had a little extra time because it's the weekend (yay!) and I did a couple projects all at once.  Enjoy!


Kids Chalkboard
Chalkboard Paint - $10 for a pint (we have lots left over for other projects)
Smooth Plywood - $10 
Time:  15 minutes for two coats of paint + a husband to mount it to the wall :)


Curtains for our Casita
Old Tablecloth - FREE
Hot glue gun - Already had it
Glue sticks - Already had it
Wire - Already had it
2 pieces of twine - Already had it
Time: 15 minutes each set (total of 30 minutes)
I simply cut the curtains to the length and width I needed and then hot glued the seems instead of sewing.  Thread the fabric onto wire to hang.  Then I used the twine to bunch the fabric to keep the windows open!


We finally put flowers in the planter boxes!  Only took us 3 years :)



Pallet Display
Old Pallet - FREE
Repurposed pallet nails - FREE
Time: 15 minutes to nail pallet boards together + a husband to mount it to the wall

Fabric Wrapped Frames
Scraps of Fabric - FREE
Cheap Frames - $1 each
Hot glue gun
Glue sticks
Staple Gun
Time: 10 minutes each frame
Directions:  Carefully place fabric on the corners in a cross section.  Then glue a small portion of fabric strips and begin wrapping the fabric around the frame until entire frame is covered.  Use a staple gun to staple pieces of twine to the back of the frame and hang!  Super easy and looks great!

Burlap Banner
Burlap - approx. $5/yd
white paint
paint brush
glue gun
glue sticks
Time: 30 minutes
Directions:  Cut enough triangles of burlap to make the word you want to paint.  Put a small amount of hot glue across the broad part of the burlap triangle and fold it over a long piece of twine.  Repeat until all burlap squares are glued on.  Then use a wide paint brush and white paint to write a letter on each of the triangles.  Put two nails in the pallet display and tie the twine onto the nails.