Katie’s Beautiful Mission

Why does Katie have to suffer? Why does she have to vomit so often that she can’t gain a significant amount of weight? Why can’t she use her words to tell me what is making her cry for hours upon hours? Why do Andy and I have to endure the pain of listening and not knowing how to fix it? Why, oh why God? It’s difficult to see the reason behind the tremendous amount of suffering in this world today.

I often find that it is in teaching that we learn so much. I am working part time at my church (hence the absence of blogposts) and part of my job is teaching the 10th grade Confirmation class. We are using an amazing video series to guide us through the year, it is Matthew Kelly’s Decision Point and I cannot say enough good things about this program. I believe a recent session may have taught me more than my students. I want to share a story Kelly told in one of our classes.

“A long time ago a nobleman’s son was playing outside and fell into a deep dangerous swamp. He struggled to get out, but was sinking quickly. Nearby, a poor village boy heard his screams, the boy saved the nobleman’s son. The nobleman and his family visited the boys home and discovered that the family was very poor, they offered to pay them a large sum of money for rescuing their son, but the poor family was too proud to take it. After a bit of thought the nobleman offered to send the poor boy to school. The family agreed. The poor boy turned out to be very smart and was accepted to Medical School, he worked very hard. Many years down the road the nobleman’s son, the same boy who had been caught in the swamp, became very ill with pneumonia. His life was saved a second time by the drug Penicillin. That Penicillin had been invented by the same little poor boy who had saved him once before, the same boy his family had sent to school. The story gets even better…the nobleman boy, was actually Winston Churchill, who stopped Adolf Hitler and saved the world from this Nazi regime.”

This is a true story and it has so many beautiful layers. Only one Master could have orchestrated it so perfectly. The story hit me hard because there was suffering endured on many levels and if each event had not happened the outcome of the world could have been very different. The nobleman’s son almost died in the swamp, who knows what pain he suffered from the accident. But had this unfair, very scary event not happened then his family, who were probably traumatized by their son almost dying, would not have been indebted to the poor boy. The poor boy wouldn’t have gone to school and Penicillin may not even be around today. If there was not Penicillin when Churchill was sick he would have likely died and who knows what would have become of the world if Adolph Hitler had not been stopped.

We never know God’s plan along the way, we never know when a suffering one day will lead to great things many years down the road.image2 (9) When Katie was a newborn, there is no way I could have imagined how many souls she would save. I was too focused on our suffering and all the reasons why it should have never happened. I couldn’t see past my pain, I couldn’t see past her handicaps, I couldn’t see past what I thought would never be. That truly makes me smile, because all of those things I feared she would never do have been so beautifully replaced with much bigger jobs sent straight from God.

During this particular Confirmation class we talked about our mission in life. Matthew Kelly pointed out how we all have a mission from God and when we ignore this mission it simply goes undone. Like if the poor boy hadn’t worked so hard so many long days and nights and hadn’t discovered Penicillin many lives would have been lost. God has a plan, that much is clear, but He gives each one of us free will, sometimes parts of His plan get left undone. That my friends is why this world is such a mess.

Kelly points out that there is more than enough food in this world to feed every single starving person, those millions of children who die every year from starvation don’t have to die. Open your refrigerator right now and see how much food you have, how much food we waste. The world is out of alignment with what God wants because many people are not living God’s specific mission for them. We all too often live our own personal mission, the one that serves ourselves, the one we see so clearly, the one that takes us away from God’s plan.

IMG_6555Now, 13 years into my journey with Katie I see these things more clearly. One of her many missions from God was to wake me up. Fourteen years ago, I don’t think any of this would have mattered much to me because I was not in line with God’s mission for me. I still struggle on a daily basis to put God first, but I am lightyears ahead of where I would be if Katie had not entered my world. In that class we all wrote our mission statement, I wrote one for Katie. “I will share love with everyone I meet through my innocent, sinless life to create compassion, and in doing so I will change the world.” Good job Katie! You are living out God’s plan and I couldn’t be more proud of you!

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

Between midnight vomit bugs, school fundraisers, lunch boxes, homework time and preparing a well- balanced dinner, women DO A LOT! I’m not saying men don’t, but women have a way of performing under pressure. I recently read a passage from Luke’s gospel that reiterated this point and totally cracked me up.

IMG_4451After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. Luke 4:38-41

Seriously??? Here is this poor woman on her death bed probably soaking, sopping wet from fever sweat, weak from lying there for days or even weeks, she had probably been folding laundry in between hallucinations and the minute she is cured she hops out of bed and starts serving others. Couldn’t she have at least taken a drink of water or maybe a bath. My first thought was that women totally get the shaft, we are always expected to be doing something. But when I continued to read about this particular scripture I saw the beauty and it opened my eyes to the amazing gift it is to be a woman. Jesus completely healed the mother-in-law, so she had full energy to do exactly what she needed to do, just like he heals us every day giving us the strength to “do it all”.

I so often question, “What am I doing in this world to help others?” and MY answer is, “Nothing!”. Mother Teresa is being canonized this week for caring for thousands of people who were literally dying on the streets of Calcutta, she gave up everything to help the poorest of the poor. I recently met a woman whose life mission is to end abortion, she lets pregnant women who have no money live in her home. The list goes on of amazing people doing incredible things. My conversation with God continues, “What is my calling? Where do you need my hands in this world?” and GOD’S answer is, “Right where you are!”

My priest always comforts me with these words, “You are doing exactly what God wants you to do, you are caring for your family.” It doesn’t feel like I’m changing the world, it feels more like I’m referring some kind of strange sport.IMG_4090 “Remove your arm from your brother’s neck, brush your teeth, can you really not eat ice cream without it covering your entire body?, put down the ipad,  use better manners, and on and on and on!”. I feel like my title should be Chief Executive Nagger, it’s all I do…nag, nag, nag. And I constantly feel like I’m running in circles with Katie getting nowhere fast. Between speech therapy, doctor’s appointments, karate practice and swim meets I’m doing more damage to the ozone layer than anything else.

FullSizeRender (3)But it is the job God gave me and I’m the only person on earth who can do it for my family. It’s hard work! Can I get an Amen? It’s really, really, hard work! But it is my privilege and it IS changing the world. Every time I blend Katie’s food to put into her tube feeding, I am feeding Jesus like Simon’s mother-in-law did. Every time I sit down to help my Kindergartner with his sight words, I am helping Jesus. When I reprimand my 8-year-old for talking back, I am training her to be more respectful just like Jesus. When I do all of these things with love I am raising my children to be good people and this world really needs good people.

This scripture also reminds me of the most amazing woman in my life, my own mother and how she still teaches me to this day the beauty of sacrifice. I recently had surgery and when Momma is down households typically come to a screeching halt. But my mother basically moved in and did it all for 4 weeks. Well, I do give my husband credit too, he was a great Mr. Mom. But day in and day out my mother lifted Katie, changed her diaper, fed my children, washed our clothes, and made sure I was okay. But the thing is, she always does these things, because she is a Godly woman who puts others before herself.

The world needs people to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and clothe the naked, but it also FullSizeRender (2)needs good parents to raise our children right. There is a season in life for everything, right now I’m doing all of these things inside my home. When I can volunteer and contribute financially I do, but I can’t compare myself to others, I can only do what I can do. I continue asking God to guide me in the thick of the chaos, as well as prepare me for the future. For now, I learn from the saints in my life and around the world because one day when the season is right I want to be ready to go outside this home, with my well raised family by my side, to change the world.

 

Sharing the Ugly

I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and almost slid right out of my 3 inch wedges because my feet were sweating so badly. My hands were trembling and a bit clammy, my face was contorted somewhere between a smile and complete panic.IMG_1913 I was on stage about to share the most gut wrenching moment of my life with a room full of people. The audience was filled with precious friends and family which was comforting, yet horrifying at the same time. I knew I had to get a grip before my turn at the microphone. I kept repeating to myself, “It is not about you, it is not about how you look or even if you fall in a puddle of your own perspiration, it’s about telling Katie’s story.” I prayed and God sent a complete peace.

As I read my blog post at the podium, the one about the moment the Neonatologist told me Katie was not likely to have a normal life my voice trembled and I had to pause to allow the giant lump in my throat to release the tears, but Katie’s story was heard and if it touched only one person it was worth it. I have learned a valuable lesson from writing my blog that was solidified that night…transparency is a very special gift we have to offer. Somewhere along the way we all learn to hide our feelings, tuck in our emotions, keep a stiff upper lip and never let them see you cry, but who are we kidding, this is not working. When we reveal the truth, that none of us really know what we are doing, there is a universal sigh of release.

This is one of the premises behind the Listen To Your Mother show that brought me out from behind my laptop. IMG_1901The show was so inspiring, but my favorite part was the commonality we found. We all live such different lives, but at the very core every human was built by the same Maker, we all tick the same. When we put down the “I am just fine” wall, when we expose our inner self, something amazing happens, we actually support each other. I’m reading a fabulous book right now that also supports this theory, Carry on Warrior by Glennon Melton. She reveals herself in such an entertaining and therapeutic way. She tells how we must teach our kids that it is okay to show our ugly. “She must be taught, in fact, that some people will want and need to hear about her secret self as badly as they need to inhale. Because reading her truth will make them less afraid of their own secret selves. And she must be taught that telling her truth will make her less afraid too. Because maybe her secret self is actually her own personal prophet.” Page 53, Carry on Warrior.

I don’t believe we should walk around constantly airing our dirty laundry, complaining about everything in our lives, but when we truly examine our own souls and admit the truth to ourselves we become vulnerable. Society says NO to vulnerability, but I say YES. Think about your closest relationships and how much you love the people who truly reveal themselves to you. If we all shared our true selves, jealousy and guilt would dissipate because we would finally realize, we are all equal. Some of us are really good at one thing and really bad at others, God gave each of us special gifts for our own mission, but He also made us human so none of us are perfect at everything. Once we understand this, we stop comparing ourselves, our kids, the cleanliness of our home, the food on our table…we stop beating ourselves us for not living up to this perfection we create.

As I was getting ready for the big debut I sat down with Katie and asked if she would send a special prayer to God for mommy, I told her that I was doing all of this for her, because she has something incredible to share and I vow to be her voice. She immediately smiled and wrapped her arms around me. She gets it, she knows the value in the TRUTH.

I try to be honest in my writing, admitting my miniscule amount of patience with my kids, my physical exhaustion that comes from caring for Katie, my anger that our lives are different. It has been extremely therapeutic for me and my hope is that it is for my readers as well. IMG_2263My prayer every day is that by exposing my inner self, exposing what it is really like to have a child with special needs; the ups and downs, the pain and beauty, the sins and the glory, that the message of hope is spread far and wide.

Listen To Your Mother

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One week from today is the big show…I’m so excited and a little nervous! At the rehearsal I got to hear all the letters and this show is going to be fabulous!! It would be a great mother day gift. To buy tickets go to… http://www.ticketmaster.com/listen-to-your-mother-show-forum-theater-at-the-bjcc-birmingham-al/venueartist/263118/2216775

 

The Daily Dance

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Romans 7:19

St. Paul pretty much sums it all up, the daily dance with sin. Every night, as I say my prayers in bed I ask God why I repeat the same sins every day. I beg Him to help me do better tomorrow. My daily struggles are losing my patience with my kids, talking negatively about others, being self-centered, over-indulging in food and simply not loving people the way I should. Sure, there are bigger sins I could be committing but that is insignificant because sin, no matter how big or small, damages my relationship with God.

FullSizeRender (1)This is what is so amazing about Katie, she doesn’t know how to sin. Original sin was washed away at her Baptism as an infant and she lives a pure life filled with joy. Her relationship with God is perfect! When she was a baby I prayed for God to heal her, to save her from this horrible impairment, but now my prayer is to be more like her, to just be happy with what is. I think all sin stems from wanting more because we lack trust in God’s plan. I yell at my kids because they are not acting the way I want them to act, I over eat because I want instant gratification, I talk about others to make myself feel better. Why am I not satisfied with all that God has given me?

IMG_1590My Bible Study group just started the book The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation. It is an in depth study of the Old Testament. We started in Genesis and I never realized how much I can relate to Adam and Eve. I’ve learned many interesting points that I had read right over before. God created man and woman on the 6th day and then rested on the 7th. I never thought about why, but in this study I learned it’s because man was created for the 7th day. We were created to rest in God’s glory everyday of our life forever and ever. But it’s not enough for us and it wasn’t for Adam and Eve either, they ate that apple.

I “eat the apple” every day. Satan manipulates me just like he did Eve.

“You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” Genesis 3:4

Satan is very cunning and he knows just the right words, “Those kids are just awful…they don’t respect you, they don’t listen, the only thing that woks is when you yell.” So I yell. “You are a horrible person for yelling like that.” The cycle of satan is exhausting. When Adam and Eve gave into him sin entered the world, their eyes were opened to evil and shame. So why was the stinking tree there in the first place? The Church says it was there for their pleasure in the future when they were more mature. God knew they were not ready for the tree yet, so He prohibited them from eating its fruit. We all know right from wrong and what is best for us, we may not completely understand why, but we have to trust in God’s goodness.

He wanted only beauty for Adam and Eve, don’t you think He wanted to say “It’s okay that you ate the apple, I’ll let it slide this one time.” But He couldn’t, the damage had been done and the consequences had to follow. Just like a child if there are no consequences we never learn. When we get caught doing something wrong we think of the aftermath as punishment, but it is actually Gods mercy. In our study Jeff Cavins, the author, says the punishment is actually the pleasure we get from the sin, the desire to do it again, the addiction is our true punishment. Recognizing the impact of our sin is mercy because that is the only way to make it right.

But just when Genesis is at its peak of despair God offers hope.

Then the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will strike at your head while you strike at his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15

In this verse we find the promise of our savior Jesus Christ. The woman and her offspring that will be enemies with Satan is Mary and her son Jesus. God does not abandon us for sinning He offers a way out.

image1 (13)Sin gets between God and I, it puts a wedge in our relationship. That’s why I can see God so clearly in Katie, there is nothing but love between the two of them. I want that! And the beauty of God’s mercy offers that to me every day.

Dust Yourself Off

A friend recently convinced me to train for a half marathon. At first I was reluctant, but since I ran one in 2006 I figured I could do it again. I set out for a run the other morning. After dropping my phone in the toilet, that’s a whole different blog post, I had no music or way to track my distance so I decided God’s gift of a beautiful March day would get me through.IMG_0845 And it did…until the end of my first mile.

I was running my regular very slow pace and apparently my foot did not come off the ground enough to clear the crease in the sidewalk and down I went. Boom, I hit the concrete hard. I got up, dusted myself off, after many curse words I decided to head home, that was enough for one day. But then I said to myself, “Seriously? Is that all you’re made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice?” My answer was a strong NO! “I’m more than that, I have grit, courage, strength and stamina!” As I picked up my pace and began to jog again I thought about Katie and all the “falls” she’s had in life. She fights through pain, frustration, and so much more every day. I thought about all the other people in the world born with special needs who struggle through life and always find the courage to get up and go. I reflected on all the inspiring stories I know, like my friend’s daughter who is fighting her second cancer battle at only 12 years old. Then I thought about Jesus Christ.

Consider, this first fall of Jesus under His cross. His flesh was torn by the scourges, His head crowned with thorns, and He had lost great quantities of blood. He was so weakened that He could scarcely walk, and yet He had to carry this great load upon His shoulders. The soldiers struck Him rudely, and thus He fell several times in His journey. The Way of The Cross

IMG_0840With my sweet girl in my heart and those amazing images on my mind I finished my 4 mile run. I know that was no impressive agony of defeat, but I do get points for not stopping. This whole scenario made me think about my own journey with Katie. The first few years of her life I laid on the ground and refused to get up and fight. There was so much pain, so much anger, the unknown was all consuming. I literally did not have the ability to keep going. And you know what? That is okay…when we go through struggles it is perfectly normal to take the time to absorb the pain, to just sit and let it all soak in.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.” God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague, Will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge. Pslams 91:1-4

Because when we are halted by pain, when we just can’t do it on our own, we hand ourselves over to God and He takes over. When I finally waved the white flag and realized I did not have the grit, courage, strength and stamina on my own I started the race by getting up and dusting myself off. Now I’m easily on the 26th mile and going strong. Once all of these things became clear, I never looked back.

I witness this process over and over again in the world around me. A little over a year ago, my dear friend’s husband left her and her children. At first, all we could do was sob and endure the pain. I worried so much about her. How was she going to recover from this? But she recently purchased her own home, she works hard every day to provide the best life for her boys and guess what? She is truly happier now than I have seen her in a very long time. When we submit to the Lord and trust that He will guide us ALWAYS, we don’t have to fight, we just live.

The scars are plentiful, but they are also beautiful.IMG_0627 It’s in each and every fall that we discover THE TRUTH. We cannot run the race on our own, we cannot pick up the million pieces of our shattered world by ourselves. God is our only source of strength and courage, why fight when we can wrap ourselves in His love.

Serve One Another

As I cared for Katie this week, who was home from school not feeling so great, I came across scripture that spoke to me. She was having one of her days, just rocking back and forth crying inconsolably. It is so sad to watch because she is uncomfortable, but can’t tell me why. Is she hungry? Is she cold? Is her stomach hurting? So I spend the day attempting to fix all those problems to no avail. This is one of those times I just want to run and hide, but I can’t…I am her mother.

Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28

Caring for Katie has transformed my spiritual life and this message from Jesus to His apostles is a huge clue why. It’s because Andy and I serve her every day. We dress her, we bathe her, we brush her teeth, we change her diaper, we feed her, all of these things once seemed like a burden to me, but now I know they are actually my gifts from God. He calls us to serve one another, to put others needs and wants above our own, but that is difficult to do. If Katie was a healthy self-sufficient 12 year old who knows how often I would be serving others. image5 (1)But God gave me an opportunity to do it every day for the rest of her life. When I look at it that way, it is a great privilege.

I believe that once I understood this teaching my perspective on being Katie’s mommy completely changed. God blesses those who serve others and when my heart is grateful rather than disgruntled, I am open to His graces. When it’s just me and Katie I care for her out of complete love because I know she can’t say thank you. But often after a long day I want to hear the words that I’ve done good, so I seek it from others. Why? Because I’m human. I learned at an early age it feels good to hear people say nice things about you, but that’s just my ego. Jesus wants us to be humble and to do all things for God alone.

“Human recognition is passing; it doesn’t even last a lifetime. Even in heaven human recognition will be useless-our eyes will be fixed on God, not on each other or ourselves. However, we do know by faith that God will reward us in heaven according to our merits. He will exalt us for serving others, especially when we bring others to love and serve him.” Regnum Christi Feb. 24th, 2016

We are all called to serve others. Remember the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus was a poor man who sat at the rich man’s door begging for just a morsel of food, but the rich man did nothing. When they both died Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man went to hades. Abraham told the rich man that his life of comfort was now reversed and so was Lazarus’ life of torment. We have to share our gifts with others.

We are weak when we are alone, without God in our hearts we grow weary and serving others just does not seem possible. But when we discover the supernatural power that God provides service flows so beautifully.image1 (12) We also realize it is not something we can boast about because to God be all glory. Every day I have a choice, I can grumble about the extra work I have to do or I can thank God realizing not everyone gets the chance to love another human being in such a special way.

Personal Best

I learned a new term this weekend, it’s a runner’s term so surely I had never heard it. A precious friend ran a full marathon in honor of Katie, image2 (1)after 26 miles she met up with Katie to push her across the finish line. It was truly one of the most amazing moments to watch. As we hugged afterwards one of her family members threw out the new term, they told her she had a PR. What? She made a personal record, this was her 6th marathon and the fastest she had ever run. She immediately said it was all Katie, our precious daughter had inspired her to perform better.

This made me think about how Katie has brought out PR’s in so many of us. I like to call it our Personal Best. Her life is a marathon every day. When watching her walk in her walker for just 10 minutes you see the struggle, you see the fight. When she cries out to us, trying to communicate I see the frustration and confusion. When we put food in her mouth and she sits there refusing to swallow I see the discomfort. All of these things and so much more are apart of Katie’s daily life, yet she seems so happy most of the time. I truly believe her bond with God helps her see past this life into what really matters.

Before Katie I never learned what it meant to truly push myself. I exercised pretty regularly and worked hard in my career, but looking back those were pretty basic. Today, I see that pushing toward my personal best involves a different way of thinking. It means taking my own wants and needs out of the equation. We all learn this in parenthood, but it is intensified in the special needs world.

Early on in Katie’s life I just didn’t get it, I felt so sorry for myself because I wanted her to be normal, I wanted her to be what I had always dreamed she would. Now I see so clearly that she is so much better than normal. She has taught me to push myself to live this life to the fullest, but not to rely on it for happiness because what comes after is so much better.

image3 (10)Katie brings out the best in those who take the time to know her. Family members are dedicating their careers to helping other kids like Katie. Complete strangers come up to us to tell us how just seeing Katie touches their hearts. So many people donated to our marathon fund to raise $2000 for a local Early Intervention agency. These are all beautiful examples of Katie pushing us to do more with our lives.

The most amazing transformation in my life has been my desire to be the best disciple for God I can be. If my life had gone according to my plan, I am not sure where I would be in my faith walk. My bible study group is just finishing up St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews and a recent verse spoke loudly to me. “Endure your trials as discipline, God treats you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.” (Hebrews 12:7-8) Trials are not punishments from God they are lessons that teach us to be our very best. Just as a parent disciplines out of love, God sends us trials because He adores us and wants us to dig deeper. I know this because Katie was once my trial, but I now know she is my greatest teacher in life.

I have so much admiration for my friend who ran for Katie. She loves to run and enjoys pushing hIMG_0757er body to achieve more, but this marathon was different for her. She said when her training got tough she thought of Katie and focused on running because Katie can’t. The 20th mile of the marathon is always her most difficult, but with Katie on her heart she pushed through it faster and stronger than ever before. Without my friend, Katie would never cross a finish line. God pushes us all to look outside of ourselves and to focus on how we can help others reach their personal best. I’m thankful for my friend and so many others in our lives who run this race with us, because very often we need a good push.

 

Katie’s Way

When I was in college I attended a religious retreat and the one thing that has always stuck in my head came from a priest after confession. He recommended that every morning I forgo the snooze button, he suggested I rise and shine the first time the alarm sounded. If he could see me now…my husband and I push it to the limit every morning, after hitting snooze at least 3 times I always say, “just one more”. Then we jump out of bed and run like crazy stressing everyone in the house so we can get out the door on time.

As lent approaches I have been thinking a lot about the discipline this priest was trying to instill in me. Oh how I wish I had taken his advice. Not for smoother mornings, but for self-control. Lately, I have been failing miserably. I eat anything and everything in sight, I gossip when I can literally hear God in my ear saying make the right choice and I yell at my kids before searching for patience.

At the time all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

I believe this because when I am weak there is little joy. During Lent, I think a lot about self-control. When Jesus was in the desert He endured 40 days and nights with no food. Sure we can say, this is Jesus we are talking about He has supernatural power, but He was in the flesh and felt the same agonizing temptations we do. In the end instead of being too weak to resist, Jesus was actually stronger.

When I allow myself free range in life and do not practice self-control I am weakening my fight against satan. I feel it especially in that last “just one more” to the snooze button. My body shows the extra pounds found in the cake I can’t resist and my children’s tears that flow from my lost temper rips me to shreds. Here’s where I mess up, my inner voice says, “You have a tough life, it’s full of sacrifices due to Katie’s impairments. You endure a lot of stress and the physical strain is plenty. You deserve to sleep a little more, you are tired…you deserve the dessert, you are stressed.” Excuses, Excuses and more excuses. I know I cannot do it alone and it is during Lent that I’m reminded of my only option.

As I was talking to my children about their Lenten sacrifice I decided it would be a good idea to take my own advice. We don’t give up the things we love to cause suffering, we do it to better ourselves. When we detach ourselves from things that take us away from God, we learn He is our only source of happiness. We don’t need the dessert to put a smile on our face, or the ipad game to bring excitement to our day, and we don’t have to be entertained 24/7. As we sacrifice we turn to our Lord for strength and suddenly we realize how easy life can be. Alone we are so very weak.

It’s also important to give of ourselves during Lent and every day. As we take the focus off of our wants and desires God guides us to others in need. Those sacrificed dinners out save money that can be used to provide basic needs for a homeless family. The time saved from turning off the Television can be spent in prayer for others.

IMG_0573 (1)I need to turn to Katie more often for guidance in this area of life. She suffers physically every day, she misses out on so much in this world, yet she lives so simply with a beautiful smile on her face. Katie just gets it, she doesn’t need material things because she is full of God. I know I have said this before in past blogs, but I find it ironic that I have prayed so hard for her to be cured, yet now I long to be more like her. So as I lay off the snooze button, the chocolate cake and search for more self-control this Lent, I will pray for my soul to be as pure as hers.

This Little Light of Mine

I have fond childhood memories of singing the song This Little Light of Mine. My favorite part was, “Hide it under a Bushel,” and we all shouted at the top of our lungs, “NO!” A recent devotional brought back this memory and made me think of how the song relates to my faith journey in several ways.

When Katie was a baby she looked different from most children.image (2) I thought she was adorable, but I felt the stares as people tried to figure out what was wrong with my child. One time a sales clerk even said, “Your baby looks drunk,” referring to her eyes rolling up as she struggled to focus. I was devastated, so I “hid her under a bushel,” avoiding many public outings. Because of my weakness there were failed opportunities to let her light shine. Now I don’t just think she’s adorable, I know the true beauty of her soul and her power to change lives, so I love sharing her. My hope is that this blog illuminates her light to the world.

For so long, before I allowed Katie to teach me what is important, I lived behind a veil. I tried to only shine a light on my good qualities. I hid the things that weren’t so attractive and then felt guilt for them. But through Katie I’ve learned to accept everything about myself. She could care less if someone stares at her. In God’s eyes we are all lit up and He sees every part of us…the good, the bad and the ugly. And He loves us anyway. I decided when I started writing about my life with Katie I would do so with transparency because there is beauty in our weaknesses and this beauty can help others.

Notice the words of the song…I’m going to LET it shine, not I’m going to shine it bright or I’m going to replace the blub with a more efficient one so mine is brighter for longer. Not only would that be a terrible tune, but it’s always my problem. Instead of letting God have control, instead of just sitting back and relaxing in His grace, I try to guide my own way.IMG_6180 Katie exhibits this so well, she doesn’t interfere with God, she just allows Him to work through her. We have to let go, let God, and let it shine to the world.

And when that light is shining in us we have to use it for good. It’s extremely tough to share advice with someone who may not want to hear it. But as disciples of God it is our job to help each other. We have to plant those seeds that open hearts to God. We worry too much about minding our own business. The song goes, let it shine til Jesus comes. Just imagine that day, don’t you want to be prepared and wouldn’t you want someone to help you get there if you were headed down the wrong path.

photo (4)Katie illuminates joy wherever she goes. What I used to see as doom and gloom staring, is now light kindling in others because she sets them on fire. So I still love to shout NO to hiding our magnificent light that is Jesus Christ.