Wake me up when December ends.

20170104_162116I for one am sooooo glad to see 2016 go. And not for the reasons most people are.  I wasn’t particularly bothered by the results of the American Elections, I didn’t know Prince or Leonard Cohen personally. Sure cancer kinda kicked my butt in 2016 but I feel like I pushed back a fair bit and we have enjoyed peace and real joy for the most part. Maybe it’s not so much the year as that last stupid month. It drove over me like a big wheel at one of those monster truck thingys guys get so excited about.

To begin.

I took the epically bad advice of beautifully well meaning friends and decided to “get out there” and attempt to have a life. And so I ventured. And for a very short time it appeared as if I could have what everyone was talking about. A relationship built on friendship and trust and mutual… wait, this is Me!   I’m neurotic and emotional and I over think and undervalue and I just don’t get it. I can’t go gentle into that good night, I don’t know how to play the game… I suck! Lol.  I don’t know how to trust, and I’m still fairly sure that while I may appear to be easy to love, I’m even easier to leave and that men in reality only pause in my life to tear it apart and leave me to pick up the pieces.

And while I was fretting and over thinking and trying not to let my insecurities swallow me whole, the world around me was rocking. One of my son’s put me thru my paces by testing the bounds of my motherly love for him. Just stupid behavior and he knew better,  But I began to worry that my divided mind was somehow contributing. Was I not paying enough attention? Was I daydreaming when I should have been engaging?  And then Thaniel and Gabe both got sick and the nights became sleepless for us for about a week.. was my work suffering? Was I dropping the ball there?   I had a very grumpy oncologist tell me he disagreed firmly with my choice to pursue naturopathic help this year.. I hate letting authority figures down… was I making the wrong choices? Was I missing the bigger picture? And in the midst of all of this I began to feel as if every turn,every direction was a dead end of failure. I was bound to miss the mark. Somewhere, somehow, someway I was going to lose.

And I did. I lost it. New years eve after a wretched day of organizing schedules for the new year, driving in the ice and snow to get kids where they needed to be, a very near miss on those roads and the internal fear that I wasnt cutting it any where, the storm in my brain built to a fevered pitch and I had one of those ‘put me in a padded room’ type melt downs.

Good riddance 2016.

Clarity is a much underrated and under appreciated thing.  Perspective. The opportunity to stand back. Take stock and adjust course. I needed to do that and I didn’t.  I went headlong into chaos while screaming order order order!

Only God moves on the face of chaos and calls it into being. He knits universes together, cells into people, brokenness into beauty. That’s not my job.

And I waited too long to ask Him to step in and take control.

I’ve watched Thaniel try and try and try to do a thing. He’s so stubborn. Headstrong. He’ll fight and fight and cry and scream and fight some more. It’s worse if I step in and try to do something for him. I’ve learned to wait. Quietly, patiently until he has exhausted his own attempts; and then this brilliant little boy will turn to me, make the sign for “help” and say in his adorable little voice “Hep mama?” “Hep Pease ”

How beautiful is that? What relief and comfort for us both in those words.

Help please.

And I’m so so happy to give it and to watch his little face break into a grin when he senses his want or need is going to be met.  Reminds me of the hymn ” oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we did not carry, everything to God in prayer”

2016 is gone. I won’t miss it. Hopefully I don’t miss this simple lesson again ( for a long time)

Last year’s devotional and exploration for me was JOY and I loved getting acquainted with the word and what it means.

2017 belongs to HOPE. This year I will be stepping out and learning what it means to bury the past in the past, leave shame and doubt behind and leap into HOPE.

Come with me. It’s bound to be the coolest of beans !

Rambling on New Year’s Eve.

It’s as if the chill outside slipped under my shirt. My skin. My heart. Frangible me, delicate see? You’re looking at the wrong picture tonight. Rag doll, ethereal.  Born to obey but not  feel. My skin. My heart. Vulnerable ears, intangible fears. Create whatever you want it’s alright.

I need you to forget me.

Like a dog in the car on a hot summer day.

So fragile tonight, so very cold. My skin. My heart. Tenuous grip, stiff upper lip. This is an alone that fills the cracks. Of my skin. Of my heart. A thousand came before me, a thousand stand in line . Insignificant and mute. It’s only a matter of time before my skin and my heart. Break.

Panic at the disco


I have a serious need to please. No. really. It’s somewhat crippling. Have I already told you this?  Well it’s true. It’s problematic, and sometimes it saves my tushy.

Now there’s a difference between my ridiculous need to please, and the desire to do a good job. To do your best.  The desire to give it your all is a good thing. My need to please is not. Because of it I am easily manipulated, easily crushed, easily broken.  Because some people refuse to be happy with anything, I can end up bent over something I really had no control over. I lose sleep and my lunch over things that were not in my control. I’m working on it. Bear with me.

When I was boxing it turned out to be a great thing. My overwhelming need to please my coach is the single most reason I won my bouts. I was a fantastic boxer when it came to pushing myself and the time I put in on the heavy bag and on the focus pads, but I was a horrible boxer in the sparring ring! I mean wretched!! I can’t hit my team mates, can’t do it with any conviction… I love them , I cheer for them, I cannot hit them. And so it has never surprised me that my coach had little to no confidence in my abilities before my first match ever. She ( my opponent) was awesome. Seven undefeated fights to my none, a south paw ( I’d never even sparred a south paw) she was focused well coached and ready. I was trembling, unprepared and scrambling. My coach said to me right before I climbed in the ring ” you can’t win, so just go in there and have some fun”

And there it was. His assertion that there was no way I could please him was the button he needed to push. Maybe he wasn’t being mean, maybe he was brilliant.. whatever it was it worked. I ended her unbeaten streak that day and began my own.

When it comes to work I have a driving need for my boss to like me. Not just be happy with my work, but approve of me as a person.  It makes me somewhat neurotic. If I get sick… and let’s face it, the leukaemia really ruined my shots at a ” perfect attendance ” record award…. I feel a desperate need to mask and avoid until I have no other option. Because I don’t want to let her down, let the team down, fail.

When it comes to relationships, I’ve given up. Full stop. I cannot seem to win that fight no matter how hard I try. The thought alone makes me break out into a sweat. There’s only pain on the other side of that coin. I steer clear.

When it comes to Thaniel. Oh Lord, when it comes to Thaniel, (all of my children really, )I NEED to do it right. I don’t micro manage their days, because that isn’t right. But I fall apart when they make mistakes. I over think and over worry and over guilt like the worlds best Jewish mommy. When Thaniel is sick, I take copious notes, research until I feel I deserve an honourary medical degree. I consult with anyone who has said medical degree and will give me the time of day, and I beg God for wisdom. And I cry. A lot.

My point?

Galatians 1:10 says,  ” For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

and then in later in Galatians 2:20 it says ” I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”

And finally in Isaiah 64:6 it says ” All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..”

There is way too much in those verses to blog on, but this is my blonde impression.  The only real approval I need to seek is Gods, and the word says He loved me and gave Himself for me already. It’s not me, it’s Him. It’s not ME it’s HIM.

When I seek the approval of man, I am negating the acceptance God already stamped me with. I’m saying, ” God, your love is great and all, but I just need one more opinion”   When I work to gain that approval in my own power I’m saying there’s something in me that deserves the applause, and finally when I break down because I feel I didn’t make the mark or someone didn’t give me a medal, I’m placing the flesh back in a place of importance and denying the life of Christ.

None of those things are good, in fact, for a real need to pleaser I’m not doing such a bang up job pleasing Jesus am I?

Thankfully God made me and gets me, thankfully He’s patient with me, thankfully He is made perfect in my weakness. ( Thankfully my boss doesn’t read this blog!)

Now if only I can follow my own words-



What if someone held me close? Would I break? Would I snap? What if the words were tender and sweet? Would I fall? Would I Crack? And what if somebody wanted to know; who I was, what I think, how I see? What if they looked until all that they saw; was my soul, was my self, only me? And what if they loved me? What if they said it? What if they felt it, believed it and meant it? And what if I sensed it? What if it covered us? What if like rain or like skin it became us? And what if instead of the fear and the fight, what if it felt like a lyric sung right? And what if I gave up, gave in, gave him. What if instead of a closed door , I said come in? What if I didn’t think nothings forever, but instead you held me like we were really together? What if for once the odds fell in my favour, what if for once my heart wasnt in danger?  What if?

More alike…no really.

I heard the sweetest/saddest/sweetest story this week and I want to share an abbreviated form of it with you, and then share my heart.

The story begins with a little newborn, surrendered to authorities and failing to thrive.

Failure to thrive is no joke. I was warned of the possibility when expecting Thaney. That low muscle tone, or poor reflexes may result in an inability to tap into our instinctual drive to survive. It was during those visits with doctors and the warnings they gave, that Thaniels dad began to form the opinion that he “couldn’t handle” the future with Thane.

This other little one was given to a foster family and eventually he was adopted by them, but as the telling went, I got a sense that the story teller felt he was lucky. Blessed even to have been taken in at all. Essentially unwanted, unworthy and ‘ graced’ with people who decided to put up with him anyway. Like they were doing him a favour.

I understand that. I always felt that was what God had to do in my case. Until I really met Jesus and He just flooded my heart with the depth of love He felt for stupid clumsy me… but up until then, I figured He was a ‘ Saint’ and that’s just what saints do.

Enter Thaniel. God’s living breathing walking talking pooping singing hugging loving example to me of just how deep and wide and full and eternal and all encompassing and perfect love can be. And I know my love for Thaniel and he for me only scratches the surface of our Savior’s love for us both.

So here is my Christmas homily for that little newborn who felt rejected and despised and taken ‘anyway’ . It’s for you who might be feeling like you don’t qualify. For you who feel that if you work hard enough you’ll earn a place at the table.. and for Thaney bear, may you never ever feel that you are anything less than God’s most perfect design. Formed with purpose, on purpose and to my absolute joy and thanksgiving.

I have nine children (eight earth side and one heaven side) . All carried in my own body. Genetically all mine. Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. They should be all the same. They eat the same foods, and go to bed at the same time, I sang the same lullaby’s to each of them as they rested on my shoulder and I rocked them to sleep. I wrote them stories, and told them at bedtime, passed down the same traditions, introduced them to the same Saviour. But they are all so different. Despite all of the sameness, they are all so different. Unique in their personalities, character traits, emotions, behaviours, viewpoints. And the gap only widens as they get older. Outside influences seep in and colour the canvases once blank for my choosing.
Difference can be divisive. It can sever ties, cut communication, end relationship. Difference is scary, it’s odd, it separates, excludes, sets apart. No one really likes difference. For all of our uniqueness we are the same in that. We don’t understand difference.
How do we relate to the other? How do we communicate? How do we find common ground? Because the common seems to be the only way we bridge that gap. For some reason we are unable or unwilling to leap across a chasm and accept difference for what it is. We search for a common. A same.
My ninth child is different. VERY different from his siblings. He looks different. He sounds different. He learns different. He moves different. He was carried and nurtured and cared for the same, but he is far and away different. The very core of his DNA is altered and apart. He is genetically different. He stands alone.
And yet, his sweet unique is pulling my family closer. Despite all that sets him apart, he seems to call everyone to him. In our home, in the grocery store, in the mall and on the street. People draw near to him. And it’s not just him. We, my family and I are all drawn now to others like him. So different from ourselves, but now seemingly bound together in some strange but awesome family of “others” . I see someone like him and my heart responds with “YOU TOO!” I feel joined, familiar, the same.
How is this? That we are different but so alike.
Jesus was this.
Jesus was the same. Born of a woman. Carried in a womb. Delivered in a baptism of blood and water. Raised, loved, taught, and tucked in, just like each of us. But He was so apart. So very different and unalike. We considered Him afflicted and rejected and we didn’t understand His difference. Fully God / Fully man. All at once like us, and all at once nothing like us. He walked with us, and we never really knew Him. We turned Him away. We didn’t want everything that came with Him. We knew not what we did.
Until the spirit opened our eyes and we received Him as He is.
After which, everyone we met who had brought Him in; became familiar, family. We could look at someone across the chasm of race and colour and socio-economic standing and say “YOU TOO!” And feel bound together. No free man, no slave, One God, one family. Same.
Now, I’m not for a second relating my son to the most high. Not at all. But it’s that same drawing, that same camaraderie I feel with him and those like him that I feel with the family of God. And it leads me to believe that despite our difference. We are more alike.
My children are all different. But they are more alike.
My Christian family are all different, but they are more alike.
You just need to let the spirit in.
When you see my son, and you note his difference, and you consider him afflicted and perhaps intend to reject him… stop for a second and let the spirit of him in, and see if all of a sudden you don’t find yourself in a sea of family, of oneness with humanity, of same.

Because truly. We are all more alike than different.

Everyday that I have been a single mommy to this most awesome baby boy, has been one filled with a dual prayer… ” Lord Jesus, please let Thaney never feel even for a second that he was unwanted in anyway, and God, Thank you. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

And when it comes to that other little baby boy,  Thank you God for him too. Thank you that he did thrive, that he found his family, that they were blessed enough by You to have the privilege of knowing and loving him, Your creation , Your glorious design. And thank you that he found You, the author and finisher of our faith, the greatest qualifier ever. Ancient of days, we love you too. 🙂

The Theology of Thaniel. 

As I type this it is Sukkot, the wonderful feast of booths, the ingathering…the WEEK OF JOY!  And so bundling all that Joy and Octobers Down syndrome awareness month together I give you a wee tribute to my own little joy…

Thaniel has been the bringer of many things, he is an incredible teacher, a wonderful illuminator, and above all a preacher. You don’t get that straight off. When first meeting him you get that he’s cute and funny and has a crooked smile that lets him get away with all manner of nonsense.  But living with Thaniel is a different story altogether.

    The way he lives is like a textbook of how to do life. 

I now believe more than ever that God sent Thaniel for me so that I could work some stuff out and become a better me. Things like trust and joy and honesty and vulnerability and inclusion are opening up to me like never before.
For instance, take the scripture ” Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS and again I tell you rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)

This command, meant for us to obey , has often seemed impossible. How can we rejoice ALWAYS?

1 Thessalonians says ” Rejoice ALWAYS, pray continually , give thanks in ALL circumstances…”
No one is happy all the time!!!
But then along comes Thaney ( and I bet he isn’t much different from your own child in this) I’m picking him up from daycare and I can hear him crying just inside the door, and then I open it and he sees me and his little face lights up. I get a big excited ” Mama!” And his wee feet fly toward me and his tiny arms wrap around my neck and all is right with the world.
His joy isn’t found in his circumstances, it’s found in his relationship with me. He’s rejoicing in me. ( right back atcha pal )
” Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus ”
Be anxious for NOTHING!? Like at all??? Are you kidding!! Believe me I get the pray about it part, but peace? Peace that apparently is just supposed to show up and I won’t worry anymore?  Didn’t God take into account that moment your 17 day old baby is wheeled into an operating room and you feel like a part of your soul has been ripped from you?  Or when you are thinking of your eight children at home who essentially have one parent as your doctor says the words ‘ leukaemia ‘ to you…You bet I’m going to pray!!! But leave it? Just ask God, THANK HIM and chill? Impossible.
Except that’s just what Thaney does!! He points at the thing he wants, says the brilliantly clear word ” some?” And often times he will hold out his hand waiting. Not concerned in the least that I won’t get it and give it. He knows I love him and I will move heaven and earth to get him what he wants and needs. End of story. I gotta be more like that.
Thaniel has friends who look different , sound different and act different and he likes them all equally and without reservation. That’s a God type thing.

Thaniel doesn’t remember yesterday’s issues, he wakes up like the slate is clean.

Thaniel is determined to find a way to get into the cookie cabinet…. well that might just be a kid thing.

Thaniel doesn’t death grip me when I carry him, like he’s afraid I’m going to drop him. He trusts me. Fully.

Thaniel tries my patience and when I keep my cool and rise to the challenge he rewards my efforts with giggles and kisses.

He forgives me over and over when I have to hold him down for tests and such. Even though it breaks his heart, he cuddles with me after.

Thaniel has taught me what real strength is and where it’s found as he leans into the people he loves when he is sick and needy, he doesn’t try to go it alone.

Thaniel has taught me what real expectation is. He doesn’t ‘hope’ for something. He waits on it like it’s a sure thing.           ( oh Lord, may my soul wait only upon you)

Thaniel can show me faster than anything where I’m coming up short, and typically the quickest way to improve is to spend more time with him.

     I’m telling you, it’s been like ” better human 101″ around here since he came into my life. I wanna be more like Thaniel.

                               In honour of Down syndrome awareness month
Currently there are tests and screening processes in place to help people determine earlier and earlier whether or not the child you are carrying has Down syndrome. In some countries the advent of these tests (non-evasive prenatal tests available since Oct 2011) has resulted in a 100% abortion rate for positive results, in others it’s pretty close, China boasts large billboards urging women to ” say no to Down Syndrome!”

And I’m just gunna say right out, I shudder to imagine a world without this gift in it. What will we be left with? And who’s next?

Who would I be without Thaniel? Would I be able to find joy in the darkness without this little boys resilience? Could I say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I trust the Most High to act in my best interests and provide for me all that I need? Would I know the peace of self acceptance that’s rooted in knowing God accepts even me just as I am?  God provided Thaniel for me, Thaniel and his Down syndrome  ( insert thanks to Stephanie Doggart for your words this morning, preach it!)

Because God didn’t reject me when it was glaringly clear that I wasn’t perfect and never would be. He didn’t discount me when it was obvious I’d never come close to His holiness. He enfolded me with His love and planned good things for me. How could I do any less for Thaney bear?
At the moment Thaniel is educating me in the finer points of reading the same book over and over and over again… I wonder what Godly principle that will teach me?

Apples to 🍎.

IMG_2663.JPGOh yuk. Yuk yuk yuk. Picture me here right now just shuddering and making the ” I just ate a bug” face.
I didn’t eat a bug.

It was worse in some ways.

I compared my child to another.

I swore I’d never do it. I would not be that person. I promised myself and my child I would rise above.

I understand we are in Holland and taking the scenic route and all that. I have seven other children, and not one of them is alike. I delight in the fact that my baby boy has remained more ‘baby-like’ then my other children, they who seemed to fast track thru the cute snugly stage into little kids, leaving me longing for the days of yore.

Last night we celebrated Thaneys accomplishment of linking two words together, (one of them was even crystal clear!) and using them in the right context. Had a wee little happy party over it, as we do all of his awesome sauce accomplishments; so hard fought for and achingly won. Each milestone is a cause for cake and celebration . Thaniel is three years old and I really am ( really really really) thankful for the pace at which Thaniel is becoming a person. I get it. I do. ( am I convinced yet? Are you?)

But today another three year old, this one on my school playground, had a lengthy conversation with me about his morning so far and though it was in a lispy three year old little voice… it was coherent , it was thoughtful, it was so much more than two simple words linked together, only one of which was even intelligible. That lead me to the wretched place of also contemplating how that same child at my school had put on his own outdoor shoes and followed instructions to line up with his peers and follow them outside and was going to do all of that same instruction following when he comes in and sits down at his desk, takes out his own snack and eats all by himself. And I had to slip away to cry.


Like an ugly ,thoughtless, judgey, ungrateful, discontent, unsupportive ,bad mom.

A pity party. Not for me of course, for Thaniel …

Except it was for me. It could only be pity for me, because quiet frankly Thaniel is NOT busy comparing himself to other kids. He’s busy playing with other kids, and loving them and loving the world and stringing two beautiful words together to communicate in his own perfect way with those around him. He is NOT hung up on what he won’t do, where he won’t go, who he won’t be. That was all me today, mourning stupid preconceived prepackaged notions of ” normal” that are shoved down our plastic loving, photoshop filter making selfies.

I thought I’d outgrown comparisons.

I really thought I’d moved on and finally gotten clear of that fruitless joy killer. I spent most of my adult life comparing myself to other women and coming up staggeringly short. In high school I was confident, out going and vibrant. My parents loved me, my best friend was crazy awesome and I was sure of my place in the scheme of things.
But then I got married and very quickly I learned that my husband preferred anything other than me. I tried dying my hair, cutting and growing my hair, changing my clothes, changing my personality, losing some weight, gaining some weight, giving him children, keeping those children out of his way. Everything I could think of in my power and control to be something he’d love and want… but he didn’t. Why? What did they have that I didn’t? What did they do? What made them better or more deserving of love and desire than me? It eluded me. Whatever it was I didn’t have it.

And then he left and married another woman and loves her very much, proving everyone who said it wasn’t me it was him, wrong.

I spent the next ten years comparing myself to every woman I saw who had a successful relationship. Wondering over and over why I was unworthy of the same. Coming to the conclusion each and every time that I was some how less than, lacking and unloveable.

I completely ignored the unconditional and overwhelming love that had from the foundations of the world been held out to me.
I’d made the love of a man… a MAN! … my plumb line of worth, and brushed off with casual dismissal the fact that the designer of the universe, the ancient of days, who was and is…(you get it?) loves me with an everlasting love. I dismissed the fact that the only one worth judging me ALREADY DECLARED ME WORTHY. Like the whole world, I swallowed the lie that something in this tent of clay was important and that the soul inside it was inconsequential.

God met me on my knees in my kitchen while I mopped the floor, and asked me why I didn’t consider His love enough. He poured over me that day and described the way He waits to get a glimpse of me, how He loves when I bother to talk to Him, wants to be my first thought in the morning and my last sigh at night. Desires my company, considers me beautiful and love-ly and has so many plans for us together. All of the things I’d longed for from a man, all this time… He loves me.
And not the imperfect and imposed love of a parent. You know… because they HAVE to love you, you’re their kid. No- HE CHOSE ME!!!! Keeps choosing me, even when I have pushed Him away and ran after other lessor things.

For the past few years I finally let go of the ache and question. I’m enough to God, I need nothing else, and I stopped comparing.

Until today.

God please forgive me. Remind me again how the soul inside of Thaniel is exactly the one you intended him to have. That he is fearfully and WONDERFULLY made. That I am blessed beyond measure to know him and to be a part of your creative process in bringing him into the world, and help me divinely to steward his time here for your glory. Remind me that what he becomes and where he goes and what he does, has already been seen and planned by you and you call those plans Good! Who am I to call them less than. Forgive me for comparing Thaniel to anyone else in your creation. You made no mistake. He is just right. Father please, never let Thaniel sense any hint of disappointment in me, or look around himself and wonder if he isn’t somehow lacking from everyone else. Protect him please Jesus, from the lie our world clings to of outward perfection, while ignoring the eternal, the incomparable in each of your image bearers.
And finally Lord, could you please, in your time, meet Thaniel just as you met me, and let him feel and know and be filled with the indescribable love that only you can provide. Thank you for putting up with us, thank you for loving us. I love you too.

Dear you,

Maybe you just found out the child you are carrying may have or has Down syndrome, or some other such “imperfection” and right now you are mourning your dreams and hopes for the child you pictured having, the future you envisioned for him or her. Maybe you are comparing yourself to other parents of special needs children and thinking you come up short and could never ” do what they do”

I know. I feel you. Take a knee if you must.

But know this.

This child you are carrying was thought about and intended long before the foundations of the world. There is a plan in place. There’s a love growing inside of you that is just waiting to pour over you and fill you with more than you ever dreamed possible, it’s being held out to you, and it is without compare. Don’t brush it off or dismiss it or in fear deny it in a pointless search for temporary (and false) perfection. I promise you, you won’t be sorry.

And hey Thaney… cake tonight pal. You rock your awesome sauceness and I’m crazy in love with you, never forget it kid.

New morning New mercy.

As I was about to write this blog entry… seriously, poised with fingers above the keyboard, snappy title in place and a head brimming with peaceful benevolent -isms, in the spirit of Rosh Hashana and the sweetness of a new year and all of Gods sweet new mercies,  I received a phone call from my child’s principal and the poop began hitting the peaceful fan.

Websters dictionary defines Mercy as :Forbearance to inflict harm under circumstances of provocation.

I am provoked at at this moment.

It is the compassionate treatment of the unfortunate and helpless.

My child is particularly unfortunate at this moment.

My child made a ridiculously bad choice and the consequences will reverberate for some time to come and I want to lift my face heavenward and scream.

I was prepared to write this post about Thaniel and how he has finally discovered that he is a toddler and he is flexing his autonomous muscles. His ” or what?” Muscles. His “not your way,  MY way” muscles.  The ones two year olds typically flex, but for Thaniel it took three blissful years for him to find them. I’m guessing the whole low muscle tone of Down syndrome can be thanked ( That was a lame connection, better writers please excuse)  I was going to write about how I am learning to juggle mercy with justice for this special little boy, whom I’m tempted to believe might not grasp the correction, until I watch him calculate how quickly he needs to snatch my iPad from my purse in order to run with it, and judge the distance he needs be keep ahead of me in order to escape capture. He’s a smart little 🐒 monkey. Several mommies in the DS club have given me this precious nugget of advice, and that is to not be fooled by Thaniels cuteness or ” specialness ” or pity him for all that is stacked against him, and as such, go easy on instruction and correction. They promise me I will be grateful I was strong 💪 in the long term.

After a particularly difficult morning of negotiations regarding the wearing of shoes versus going out into the brisk morning barefoot, and voting on which one of us was going to WEAR his breakfast ( I’ll give you a hint…it wasn’t him)  I came to work and began to make lattes for my co-workers in an effort to shake my mornin frustrations. I find that the quickest way out of myself and into a right spirit and frame of mind is to serve someone else.

Instead of focusing on all the why me’s and the urge to throw myself a pity party complete with cake and matching napkins, I climb out by doing a little mitzvah for someone else. The direction of this blog was going to flow along those lines with a rousing challenge to all in bloggerville to do the same.  I had this quaint little version of new morning mercy all bundled up and ready to regurgitate on you.

Ring ring…” hello, annoyingly trite? God on line one for you”

Did I mention the dog 🐶  was sick through the night all down the stairs?  That I began the wee hours of this morning scrubbing said stairs… you don’t even know, you weren’t even there, but when I say sick, think south.    That pales in comparison now with things being as they are.  That was the good part of today.

I had surgery on Friday. That was four days ago. Couldn’t my kid wait a week to throw this curve ball? I’m wearing a mask ( not a metaphorical mask, an actual factual hospital mask) during my classes ( sooooo embarrassing ) because I am absolutely bereft of white cells and can’t afford to get sick right now. Couldn’t my kid see I’m on my knees here and just praying to make it through this season?  No. He seemingly lacks mercy. And now his choices are my problem and it matters how I respond. Because I’m a single mom and I have to prove the hype wrong.

But what does God require of me here?

Justice versus mercy.

The bible speaks a lot about mercy. Proverbs says justice and mercy should kiss. (I even tattooed the words on my wrists 12 years ago when I needed the reminder.) The bible says that we should love mercy, act justly, walk humbly. It declares the mercies of the Lord new every morning. Them are some pretty words coming from a book titled Lamentations.  Ah Lamentations, what a perfect name for a 📚 book, totally suits my mood today.  ‘The steadfast ❤️ love of the Lord is everlasting, His mercy is new every morning’.   So if I take Websters fantastic description of mercy and apply it IRL ( in real life… I’m hip)  it’s saying that each and every day God restrains Himself from inflicting harm on us even though we have (obviously) provoked Him. That He chooses instead to treat us with compassion because we are helpless and unfortunate.  Why?

Why doesn’t He just go ahead and smite us already?   I’m sure God saw the presidential debate, what’s He waiting for?

At this point I am dreading the drive home and the inevitable way my blood will slowly heat as I consider what my kid has done , until at last I pull into the driveway where it will have reached its boiling point. I am dreading his possible stupid excuses and the way I will have to bite back my angry 😡 retorts and act like an adult.  Mercy is the farthest thing from my mind. Besides, mercy now would be soft, weak , and that is likely what landed me here in the first place.

Why don’t I picture this child 👶🏼 the way I see Thaniel?  In Thaniels case, I see him as tiny and sweet and just a little helpless.  I have to bring myself to correct him because I know its what’s best for him.  In the case of my other child, he isn’t little , his cuteness has somewhat worn off under teenage-ness and he is absolutely NOT helpless.  I will have to hold myself back from a heavy duty smite fest, but I am going to yell, loud and a lot!

Half of my anger is tied up in how this kid has embarrassed 😩 me. This stupid choice of his has ‘bad mother’ written all over it and I’m convinced that’s what will be said about me. ” single mom…. unable to control her kids… typical.”  Go ahead, call that prideful,  but it’s the truth.  The other half of my anger stems from hurt and betrayal . I know he knows better, and I can’t believe he’d still chose to hurt 😭 me anyway.

Do we leave God feeling the same way?

Is He embarrassed  that we carry His name as we run around all willy nilly messing up His laws and His 🌎 planet and His plan for us, flaunting our bid for independence and daring God to punish us?  People are watching and judging Him by the behaviour of His children, of His church and the opinion is often less than favourable.  Is He hurt?  Grieved because He loves us, His precious creation that He uniquely formed ,invested His own breath and likeness in , provided for and taught, only to have us scorn His way and stubbornly chose our own.  Is He angry? 

I think I found my answer as I drove 🏡 home and let the realities of mercy wash over me.  The truth is God sees us as I see Thaniel, small ,helpless and lovingly made in his image,  He sees us as I see my other child, growing, wayward, stubborn. And  He sees us the way He sees me, lacking the answers and means with which to cope.   He’s moved to compassionate love in every way He views us. We are His children. So here is a little tid bit of truth regarding mercy that God showed me today.

Mercy holds back when it could unleash. It’s not weakness, it’s controlled power. 

As for our sin… that He views the same way that light views the dark. It doesn’t.  They can’t inhabit the same space. They have no relationship with one another. It’s not poetic, there is no shadow, no shading. It’s not that God won’t tolerate our sin. He CANNOT.  He is Holy .

The choices are all ours.

We have everything we need in Him. We are loved, provided for, accepted, healed and restored. We can choose to live in His abundance and freedom and infinite mercy morning after new morning. But we can’t bring our sin with us. We can’t have it our way and stil have a right relationship with Him.  Simple pimple.

It would grieve my heart to no end if I ever had to shut my 🚪door on one of my children, or to tell them they have no home with me. In fact  I cannot fathom it.  I understand now that I never have to.  As I drove and God spoke to my heart, my anger melted away into realization. I didn’t have to yell, didn’t have to be bent and angry. It’s not my choice. It’s my child’s. I hold the door always open, my home forever filled with love, acceptance,provision and security. But son, you can’t bring your bad choices with you. As long as you understand, the choice is yours.

And you can’t play with my iPad either.  😊


Ps. I’ve only just discovered these 😜 Silly 😝 Emoticons and it’s like having a surprise party 🎉 with just me and my tablets word suggestion bar. The highlight of my day was not spilling ☕️  on myself, so just deal with it ok?

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a little to the left and up a bit.

So caring for Thaniel I have learned is so so much like a tightrope walker, leaning into the wind and bending knees just a little and feeling the rope in-between my toes and NEVER looking down.  He gags on super, I watch for fever. He chokes on a drink, I listen for wheezing, He doesn’t poop, I adjust his meals… I balance and calculate and survey for results.  He has had an off again on again summer. And I hate to say it… but I’m hoping for trouble to happen in my “down time”  IF it’s going to happen..please Lord let it be while I am supposed to be on a beach somewhere suntanning.(Good Lord knows I am just cleaning out closets and preparing for next year.. no beach involved)  So far I have dodged and avoided every crisis. Perhaps its time and experience, perhaps it’s prayer covering… but so far we have leveled out like that bubble tool the contractors used to do our kitchen floor. (someone please remind me that remodels NEVER take the “week”  you expected and that living without a kitchen IS a major upheaval no matter what time of year!!)

Meanwhile Thaniels mommy has learned what it is to pray without ceasing.  Here it all is, in a nutshell, for you.. my complete stranger reader .  My mother has been in pain for eight months. Not fleeting moments of aggravation…eight months of chronic pain. Doctors and therapists and drugs have not helped and after every test they can think of the pain remains and her weight slips down daily… 30lbs and counting. she is under 100 lbs now and wasting away as we watch helpless. Thats HARD to deal with let me tell you. Meanwhile my daddy grapples with a cancer diagnosis and the surgery and treatment that entails. He spends all of his time researching cures and helps for mom so that his own treatment seems far off and future… but he is living with cancer inside him and it shows in the set of his shoulders. And then there is me, who has been blessed through the kindness of our friend Karen, to have been granted a team of experts who are working together toward a cure to the constant health struggle I have faced for the last 15 years.

Enter Dr.X.  I’m not going to name him, because he is so awesome you will all try to get him to be your doctor. But this is a conversation I had with him

DR.X- Your husband left after the baby? did that devastate you?

ME- no, I knew he had to go long before he left.

DR.X- But are you ok? I mean aren’t you bitter? angry?

ME- no, are you?

DR.X-  um.., concerning your results we may have to redo the bone marrow biopsy.

ME- no. absolutely no, really?

DR.X- why? was it really THAT bad?

ME- you’ve never had one?

DR.X- no, I’ve preformed lots though.

ME- sign up for one and I’ll agree.

DR.X- walk me through it and I will.


DR.X- I think I could…yes.


And then we started a conversation, a real one. About how I could smile through my husband leaving and the loss of the life I thought I’d have, how my special needs child didn’t make me feel burdened but made me feel “granted”. How I no longer looked to others to satisfy the needs of my heart but looked instead to the creator of my heart to fill my needs. And then we touched on his needs… so briefly it was like the brush of a butterfly wing, but I knew he was calling out for something. And so I said what laid on my heart.

You are looking for the quantifiable. The measurable. The sure.

But God’s love, His plan, The whole point.Is just a little to the left and up a bit, your tests would miss it. we are put here to place our hands on one another, to learn, to love, to loose, to see the vastness and amazingness of it all…

And then we see the depth of our emptiness and we call out for the author and finisher, and HE fills us.  See?

There was some quiet.

There was a throat clearing.

And then there was a smile.


We took my blood,we talked about drugs , we even planned the next visit. When I left he took my hand and said these words.

This is going to mean healing… for at least one of us.

That is really ok with me.

Have you met the Author of your story? Do you know the plans He has for you? They are for your good..To give you a future with hope.  All you have to do is ask. DSCF4857

Fathers day for the fatherless.. (and are we really father-less?)

Father’s day is coming.  For me that means a lot of happy things. My dad is awesome. I have a great father. The world’s greatest father in the history of fathers.  But for ALL of my children Father’s day  means pain and confusion. It means memories they don’t want, obligation they feel burdened by and lots and lots of ache.

I never intended that. And in the instance of my first husband, I know he didn’t either.  We married young, and we were crazy in love. But he had an issue. A hidden demon that didn’t stay hidden. Like alcoholism it overcame us both and ripped our family to shreds. To my shame I did not “stand by my man”, but rather after 13 years I raised a pirate flag and began to do battle with him instead of for him.And while  the vast majority could hear me recount the tale of the tape and exonerate me  of any wrong-doing… I know the truth. I gave up, gave in and gave over to a defeated mindset and didn’t honour my vows of for better or for worse. In the face of worse… I ran.  My children (The first five) were witness to knock down drag out fights. long silent battles, violence, and score keeping. Lots of it. I tried for years to live by my ex- mother-in -law’s example, by not bad mouthing their dad, but I know I didn’t accomplish that entirely.

My second husband didn’t ever try to mask his duplicity, beginning to date other women  three weeks BEFORE our wedding. If I had known I would have run for the hills. But I didn’t and here we are.

So how do you celebrate father’s day when the example of father’s is so shady at best? I mean, I had to take dad number two to court to get him to even SEE his kids!! How do you celebrate that?

Thaniel has gone a whole year without laying eyes on his dad. He has no idea what “dad” is. Wouldn’t recognize “dad” in a line up… We haven’t heard from him in more than a year , don’t know where he even  is… happy Father’s day Thaniel.

And yet here’s the thing I believe whole heartedly. Psalm 68:5 says God is a  “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”

God is the Father to my un-Fathered children. Intended or not. God knew, and He saw and He made a way through. And He never intended to leave my kids wanting in the middle of a vacuum.

I kept buying into the fantasy of “I’ll be there for you” and God kept showing me only He can promise that.

Some of my kids have had great role models. My dad being the first and for-most,he is a constant in the storm. A plum line, an anchor.  My brother is awesome sauce and he loves his nephews and nieces so so much ,  Rob Graham was a HUGE figure to them when the first five were young, and they still speak of his presence fondly.  Bradley Bandit Brooks filled the roll of “dad ” to my kids for more years than their real dad ever did and I’m so grateful for Men that stand up, stand above and stand out.  But what do you do on “father’s day” for a little boy who doesn’t know what a “father” is??

You have “Father’s day” anyway!  and you celebrate his real Dad. The father to the fatherless. The one who adopts us all. Who holds us and nurtures us and teaches us and leads us in the way everlasting. The one who provides, protects, preserves, and connects us to what we really are. Spirit in flesh. One family . Which means cake for Jesus and balloons for Abba Father and reminders of scripture that Hallmark Jesus as our Heavenly Father. (and more cake)

I am forever grateful that God the Father holds both me, and my children at all times.13419001_10156927567305567_6170734822344451520_n(1)


Joy unspeakable and full of awesome.

Oh so much Joy. Choice JOY.

The kind you have to glean and cultivate, which might arguably be the best kind of joy there is.

For starters, my mommy is having better days, and while she still has pain, she can be heard laughing more and more. Much like her old self. My daddy, having fought hard with illness and the threat of cancer over his shoulder, is a constant source of strength, wisdom and awesome for me and my family. Thats crazy joyful! Many other men would have considered this present trial a reason to become bitter and grumpy.  I come from good stuff folks.

Thaniel has been relatively healthy for months now and is pulling words out of himself like a magician pulls that impossibly long scarf. Now mind you, my family might be the only ones to understand them but he’s trying and communicating and it’s all filled with awesome. He calls Moose “boose” and Maddy is “man” and Caily is “keey” and Judah is “dum”.  I mean seriously… it’s hard to handle all the cuteness.

I met with an awesome Metabolic Oncologist and he sent off a bunch of fancy tests , but he also sent me home with a lot of hope and silver type linings. I’ll take it!.

Wanna know why I find Joy so important? Wanna know why I place such a high priority on living my Joy out loud?  (maybe you could care less.. but hey, my blog, my overly quaint life lessons!)

Firstly, Joy is not happiness… that fleeting emotional high we get from finding a really cute pair of shoes.  Joy is a lasting and solid depth of character (and finding those same shoes ON CLEARANCE!)   I don’t want happiness.. it passes too quickly and will leave me high and dry when I need it most.

I find Joy important because it sustains me. It is my strength. It’s the rope I cling to, the anchor that steadies me, the protein I slowly digest during extended periods of fasting        ( sorry… gym refrence.. that just slipped in there)  Joy gives me courage I didn’t know I had, the ability to laugh it off, to smile at an angry face, to meet challenges with chin up and a positive outlook.  Bitterness or a heavy heart would not give me that.

I have lived otherwise. I was once very very angry. My husband turned out to be a liar and a cheat and the pain of that was like a living death. Eventually I stopped grieving and got angry.  At first blush, anger had everything I was searching for. I could once again get up in the morning.  I met each day with a fierce determination to make anyone in my way pay for it. I pulled off things I never thought possible. Anger and its little sister bitterness were constant companions and I loved them.  Anger can give you a false sense of strength. Keep you on your feet and moving. It can give you a twisted sense of courage. Sort of an “I dare you!!” type courage. It is not chin up, it is chin tucked, and waiting for a fight.  But anger will not sustain you. It can’t. It’s draining and empty, as empty as happiness

Fear is also a great motivator. It will bully you into doing things you wouldn’t do in a calm moment. ” I should hurt them before they hurt me”  “I can’t afford to trust, I should run now” ” I’ve been wrong so many times , I shouldn’t even try”  and seriously, fear has lead me to make some of the biggest mistakes of my life.  (On bad days those mistakes haunt me. They keep me up at night. They steal my joy) Regret is real people… poo on regret.


Picture Joy as the roots of a great tree. So deep. They almost seem to have buried themselves into the core of the earth, and they hold that tree steady in the storm. Branches may break, leaves die and fall, but the heart of the tree is strong. Sustained.

Joy like that has to have a deep source.

I find mine in the Ancient of Days. In Jesus.

I find it important to live my joy out loud because I never know who is sitting beside me dying a little everyday without a source. Bitterness draining them dry. Pain sapping their energy, their will. Anger driving them in purposeless circles. My joy might be a light. A soft breeze. A fountain of fun.

Joy is humble. Know what I’m sayin?  If I come off like some lunatic happy freak and I blow away the poor hurting soul beside me with my “Happier than thou” self , then I need to give myself a shake.  Joy out loud doesn’t make people feel like they are lacking, or not cutting it, or worse, somehow faithless. Joy feeds. It welcomes. It accepts. It says, I’m sooooo not ok, but I’m ok anyway… and you’re alright too… come sit in my joy for a bit.

Joy is an umbrella that doesn’t deny the rain happening all around it.

It just says, “come be drier with me for awhile “.

I’ve looked on at wonder at some of the pristine fakebook stories of some peoples lives and have been tempted to feel less-than. Ever feel that? Joy out loud shouldn’t leave you feeling that way. Jesus didn’t. People were drawn to Him, even tho there was nothing remarkable about Him.

By the time Thaniel came along, and the whole “down syndrome” diagnosis with him, I’d learned some of the secrets of Joy. That I’d be ok, even though I wasn’t ok. That Jesus would walk it with me, and the sun would still come up.   When the big “C” word came along in my own life, that same truth sustained me.  Look, rain or shine, it’s 24 hours. 24. And in that space of time you have a choice and no matter what you choose, craps gunna happen… the only variable is how you handle it. I suggest you laugh… it’s a more comfortable ride.

And here’s the honest truth. If I die… I’m still gunna be ok.

Joy doesn’t happen overnight. And it’s not supposed to I think.  I think those roots need time and seasons to really dig down. I once heard a horticulturist say that a little drought is actually good for a tree, because the roots have to dig deeper for the life giving water, that apple trees bear more fruit when their branches are pruned right back and trained, that hot house tomatoes lack flavour, but wild berries are the sweetest.  I’m good with that. Today’s a good day and Joy is within my reach, so I’ll hold it out for you.  Tomorrow, maybe I’ll need to dig a little deeper to find it,

but I KNOW it’s there.

Maybe that’s the most important thing to learn about Joy.

Meanwhile, to remind me, I built a “JOY wall behind my desk. So that I could glance back and find some awesome, and so that the little roots around me could dig in too.