Mr. Aksel Turns 3 – On Letting Go of Birthday Expectations

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.  – Voltaire

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.  – William Barclay

I still haven’t forgiven myself for failing to have my hospital bags packed when I was a week over due. The irony is that, though my bags were not packed, my homework for the next two weeks was complete ahead of time. But my bags were not packed, and if they had been I would have missed Mr. Aksel being born on that infamous first day that people like to attempt to fool one another one. Alas…

And now it has been three years. Three years and finally most days bring more smiles than they bring tears. And while he still is a challenging child, speech delay and all, I finally feel like we are getting there. Like I can handle each day and not need to talk to a therapist at the end of each day.

But another year older bring another years party…and parties have proven to be all but disastrous for Mr. Aksel. I can’t remember one of his birthdays that have been “fun” or “cute” or anything that you would generally imagine.

Of course, year one he put the candle out with his fingers – and didn’t cry – I should have realized then he had sensory problems 😉

Year two, I can only remember thinking…let’s get this thing over with.

When your child, the birthday star, is clinging to you and fussing through his entire birthday, too overwhelmed to even eat his cake, and dis-interested in opening his own presents you start to wonder if having a party is even worth it.

It is sort of one more thing that I’ve grieved over this boy-I-never-wanted, but the boy-who-God-knew-I-needed.

So I won’t have all of the instagram and Pinterest worthy pictures that every other mommy posts.

So I won’t get to make my daughter’s day planning and decorating for a party (she on the other hand, thrives on parties).

No cute pics. No cute decorations.

I’ll tell ya, you definitely get some weird looks when you tell your family and friends that you are not having a birthday party for your own child.

But guess what?

We didn’t have a party.

And it was the best birthday that little boy every had!

All day smiles and all day celebration.

Ellie and daddy went to the store and got him balloons and a sister-present before breakfast.

He opened his presents from us, played with them, and ran around with his balloons most of the day.

Grandparents and his Aunt stopped by throughout the day to give him a gift and wish him happy birthday.

And we ended the day with cupcakes and candles and singing happy birthday.

Because even though you may think that society expects you to have a party and that is just what you do if you are a good parent – sometimes, it is just not true. And while you yourself may grieve the fact that your baby boy just does not like crowds, and noise, and parties and all the pictures and planning that go along with them…you may be surprised to find out that you like a no-party birthday after all.

Because every child is different. And every child needs different things.

This idea is the whole reason why I began studying child development and chose my career path anyways.

God made them all, but He made them all different too.

And what’s good for one is bad for another. And in learning about your own child you will learn a lot about yourself.

And so Mr.Aksel…I hope that you remember this day – your third birthday. Or at least the feeling of joy that we saw on your face. What a long way you have come! Like a caterpillar emerging from its cocoon as a butterfly – finally prepared to face the world in a beautiful way, independent and with emerging confidence.

I pray that you take this gift of life that God gave you and live it well. I pray that along the road He takes you down you will come to understand yourself, and realize your purpose in this world. We are so lucky to have you in our lives…mom, dad and Ellie, you have taught us so many things. And because of you we have realized that it is okay to let go…and now we understand what is truly important in this life. The little things.

 

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But Really? Where IS Neverland?

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
― Heraclitus

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Do you remember when you were a kid and all you wanted was to just be old? Maybe not like wrinkly and eighty, but older. As in I-have-my-license-drive-a-car-do-cool-things-have-a-house-have-a-hot-husband-super-cute-kids-awesome-clothes-sweet-job-and-don’t-look-a-day-over-sixteen?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who every wished this.

But really. When I was a kid I thought about that all the time. I’d sit in my log and grass-thatched tee-pee hideout in my funny 1990-something clothes and think about what it would be like to be older. Life is always amazing in your day-dreams. And you can do anything… Be anything…

Weren’t those the days.

I can still see those sunsets of my childhood. Feel the bone-chilling cold of those rainy fall days, playing outside until it was dark and the moon began to rise. Remember what the sand felt like between my toes and in less than pleasant places that those little kid bathing suits just loved to capture so much sand in. I remember my imagination, my adventures, how I half lived outside. The pain of getting my finger caught between logs I was stacking as I built a forest hideout. Of carrying buckets of water to try to make a pretend well. Of hoarding miscellaneous pieces of wood to act as butter and bread in that outdoor pretend store…oh,those were the days.

In some ways I miss them. But in most ways I don’t.

And here I am now. Twenty-eight years old.

I was married when I was twenty. I had a sweet babe before I was twenty-five. Finally graduated (the first part of) college at the age of twenty-six. I’m now twenty-eight and I still don’t drive the car of my dreams. I’ve been married for seven and a half years and it just keeps getting better. Now there are two kids to spend my time with.

And I still think about what it will be like to be old.

I look at this picture and already notice all of the lines our faces didn’t have.

I’ll be thirty in two years. If I live to be ninety, one-third of my life will have passed by.

I used to be scared to get old. To grow up, live, and someday die.

But life doesn’t frighten me anymore.

As hard as it is to grow older, the easier it gets all the same.

What I didn’t know then, sitting in that hideout, holding on to my pocket-knife whittled stick sword and blue and gold painted shield, pretending to be a knight, or an elf, or some other amazing, immortal, half-mythical heroin was that… I would grow up to be all of those things and so much more (well, I still don’t have pointy ears so I guess I didn’t achieve elf status).

I am amazing.

I will live forever (but not on this earth).

And my life has a purpose.

I never thought I’d marry such a hottie (and what a story that was). I never thought I’d graduate college (never mind be working on my Master’s degree). I  never thought that I would be anything more than a stay-at-home-mom (but my work is my calling). I never knew how much I could love (until I had my children). I never knew my purpose (until faith opened my eyes and love became my anthem).

Yes, almost-thirty years has been full of life and learning, of finding and becoming.

And so, if one-third of my life is over, I have no regrets. And if two-thirds of my life remains, I will live with confidence.

Of course because it’s me so I’ll have to bring up Tolkien. Who of course completely nailed it when he wrote about going out of your door. There really is no telling where you might be swept off too (I certainly never expected to end up where I am at today). But wherever it is, and no matter how dangerous the getting there was, it’s going to be amazing. Because the going out of your door is the most difficult part of the journey…the part where you surrender it all and decide to follow The-Giver-of-Life and pursue the purpose that was created for you, and only you.

So thirty more years will likely bring several more lines.

But it will also bring so much more life.

And if in living I share the Love and purpose that I have found with whomever I can…well..

Well, that’s what it’s all about.

Adventure All The Way

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I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in. -Roger Clemens

With self-discipline most anything is possible. -Theodore Roosevelt

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Oh my dear little Ellie girl. Only you are not so little anymore. Four years old now, and getting bigger and smarter every day!

In January we celebrated your Four-Years-Of-Amazing-Life on this earth.

In true Ellie fashion you planned an amazing birthday party that was anything but that which a stereotypical girl would want – Miles From Tomorrowland, space theme. We had planets and stars on the table. Planets and space-age shapes hanging from the ceiling. A rocket ship, pin the feathers on Merc, and Cosmic Cocoa. We had outerspace treats – Laserangs, Saturn’s Rings, Rocket Fuel…you get the picture.

And you were so happy. So very happy in your black leggings, bright orange Converse, and little boys size 5 Miles From Tomorrowland t-shirt.With braided pig-tails of course. And all your little friends running around with you.

I love how much you love space. Maybe you have the mind of a dreamer, just like your mama. You see the potential in people and things, and dream of all that can be. Adventure and excitement call your name.

As the song goes…Never could I go too far
Never could I fly too high
It’s all inside of me
Living out the dream
With my family

Adventure all the way
New places every day
Oh yeah, we’re going to zip
Gonna take a trip
In a rocket ship

We’re counting down
The engines on
The time is now to rocket!
Rocket!
Rocket!
Rocket!

Woa oh, I’m a hero to the core
And I’m going to explore
Way out!
Woa oh, No where ever is too far
I’m shooting through the stars
Way out!

Yes. Maybe you will be a dreamer too. Maybe your heart will long for adventure and excitement, for challenges and the sheer joy that follows with success. I see your beautiful little mind working even now, trying to figure out what life is, what your purpose in life is, and what to expect from life, what you can do in life.

“Why do you go to work, mommy?” Because that is what God has called me to do.

“Why does daddy go to work?” Because that is what God has called him to do.

“What is my job then?” Your job is to play and have fun. And to go to school and be kind and show God’s love to the kids there.

Your little wheels are turning, and even so young I see you yearning to know why. What? What am I here for? What do I do? What do I expect? 

But that’s the adventure my dear. You never know what to expect.

Life is the greatest adventure of them all.

And even I don’t know what life holds for you.

But never doubt, dearest, that you can go on that adventure. It is truly all inside of you – and you never can fly too high. You are a hero to the core – and you’re shooting to the stars.

So go explore. Go on some blastastic adventures. Live, and love, and fly, and dream. Because dreamers see where they want to go in life, and do everything they can to get there.

Always hold on to your dreams.

And no matter where your adventures take you, always know that you are never alone. For the One who has placed those dreams in your heart, and designed those adventures for you to experience, who sees you and loves you and knows you…will be there with you through it all.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

Abundantly More: Happy Birthday Kreade

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Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Today, April 1st, 2015, it has been exactly a year since Baby K was born.

Exactly a year since all the crying began.

But today he is one. And what a transformation has taken place!

Not only is it amazing to watch all of the miraculous developmental changes that children undergo naturally, it has been even more amazing to watch an infant go from a screaming little ball of misery to a happy, independent one year old.

This has been one of the most difficult years of my life. Perhaps even the most difficult. I don’t do well with babies in general. Never mind the ones that cry. All. The. Time. And though I said I could never do it – I did! And I survived with most of my hair and most of my sanity.

But through it all I have learned so much. I’ve learned to be flexible, and not become too attached to the plans that are my design. Because sometimes, even though the road is often narrow, His plans are so much better. But we cannot know them until we have learned to let go of our own. And Kreade taught me to let go.

And through it all I’ve learned that I can do things that I never thought I could do. But I also learned that I’m not actually a superhero and I can’t do everything myself. Yet, through Him I can do all things. Kreade taught me that I can do anything, through His love and power living and working in me.

And though I feel like Kreade’s personal version of Jesus, loving him through the sleepless, scream-filled nights and days, I have such a better understanding of the love that He has for me. Unconditional. Even at 10 PM, 12 AM, 2 AM, 4 AM, 6 AM…love never fails. I’ve loved him through it all. And come to understand His love through it all.

I never dared to hope that this day would come. I honestly lost hope that Kreade would ever sleep through the night. That he would ever be somewhat happy. That he would grow up to be even partly normal and well-adjusted. I know it sounds crazy – but when all you’ve ever known is an infant that cries all the times and needs you all the time ( literally ALL the time). You really do begin to lose hope that they will ever be…normal.

But guess what!

The day has come…exactly a year later, when I can say that through it all has emerged a somewhat normal, beginning to be well adjusted, somewhat happy one year old. It’s really been in the last month that things have really come together.

Like the flip of a switch. One calendar day to another.

He started sleeping through the night. I mean like 11 or so hours all night long. Hallelujah!

He stopped nursing every 3 hours and weaned himself to a sippy cup of regular milk. Literally all by himself. Wow!

He has learned to entertain himself for short periods of time. And the days of cooking one handed with a  baby on my hip are slowing starting to fade. Amazing!

He is almost walking.

He doesn’t cry all of the time.

He smiles at people and lets other people hold him.

He cuddles with Klayton.

He goes to bed sleep all on his own after a snuggle and Bible story.

And though I doubted that it would ever be possible, Kreade has transformed from a needy, fussy, screaming ball of misery to a thriving little boy.

All thanks to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think.

So Kreade, I pray that your heart will know His love as I have known His love for me through loving you. Always remember that we all are a work in progress. But through His power at work in you, you can be and do abundantly more than you could ever ask or think.

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