Teaching our Children with Down Syndrome About God

I don’t get any super mom awards for remembering to do it everyday, but as she’s gotten older, I’ve really been praying for a while about how to help Jessie understand salvation.  I have prayed for each of my children to come to  know and love God.  The hard thing with talking to Jessie about God compared to my other children is how abstract concepts, things she can’t see, are just jibberish to her. 

Jessie is maturing in so many ways.  She continues to learn and grow in all areas of her life.  In other areas of life she has shown that she is very capable of building on already learned concepts, but in this spiritual arena,  I have not been able to explain things in a way she understands.  

During VBS one year,  Jessie went forward when kids were asked if they wanted to talk with our pastor about salvation.  It was clear to Brother Dan and to me that although she wants to understand, she didn’t yet.

Jessie’s understanding of God is very simple.  Although I haven’t felt she was ready to understand deep or more complicated concepts about God, she has for a long time now expressed in her own words that she wants to please God.  Jessie has told me she likes to learn about God.  She has also often mentioned people that we know and will say, “so and so needs God.”  Sometimes she has expressed it so fervently that I’ve wondered if she knows something I don’t.

I had been brushing Jessie’s teeth one night when I asked if she had called a certain friend. When she said yes (I already knew she had) then I asked how many times she had called.  She said once.  I told her I was going to check her phone.  She instantly looked guilty and said, “Don’t check my phone.”  We’ve really been working on her not calling back multiple times when someone doesn’t answer.  Jessie knows she’s only supposed to call once and then wait for her friend to call back if they want to.  And it’s really, really hard for her to be obedient in this area.

If she’s going to grasp what salvation is, she first has to understand what sin is.

I’ve talked with Jessie before about sin, and it was clear at that time that she didn’t really understand.

While I continued brushing her teeth we talked about how it was important to obey and to always tell the truth.  I explained that when she disobeyed mama and when she didn’t tell the truth, it wasn’t just mama to whom she had done something wrong, but she had done something wrong to God too.  

We moved to her bedroom and  continued  her nightly routine.  I put lavender essential oil on some cysts/bumps she gets on her legs, I put some cream on calluses on her feet.  I looked through her phone and asked her a couple of questions.  She blew her nose and then while I was getting her CPAP ready she suddenly said, “It’s hard for me” and she burst into tears.

 I thought she meant it was hard not to keep calling back when her friend didn’t answer, but I asked her to be sure what she meant.  She said, “It’s hard for me to tell the truth.”  I saw that internal struggle all over her sweet face.

Bless that baby.  We all know that sometimes it really is hard to do the right thing.  I knew her statement represented so much.  

There was so much wrapped up in that one statement that encouraged me.  

Clearly she was thinking about what she had done wrong, and she knew it was wrong.  She was also expressing her feelings, that it was a struggle for her to do the right thing, to tell the truth.  It is sometimes hard for Jessie to express her feelings with the right words.  There was so much developmental and spiritual good stuff wrapped up in that one statement.

Before Jessie laid down to go to sleep I took her hand her in mine.  Her hand that has such sweet chubby fingers with little bits of polish left on the nails.  I held her hand and prayed for her.  I let her hear me thank God for her and thank God that he chose me to be her mother.  I told God in her presence how I can’t imagine life without my Jessie.  I prayed that God would help her to be able to obey.  I prayed He would help her to tell the truth even though it was hard.  And silently I prayed He would help Jessie to understand more than what was just said out loud.   

It was in these everyday kind of moments that my two older children came to learn and understand salvation and their need of a savior.  With them it was a gradual understanding too.  It just didn’t seem so hard to explain it in terms that they could understand.  

While she doesn’t yet really comprehend what sin is, I do feel we are making progress for her to begin to understand.   While praying with Jessie I felt this sweet confirmation that God was answering my prayer.  I don’t know the time-table, but I see God at work.  

How sweet it is to know that the mighty God of all things listens to my concerns and cares about them and me.  And you.  



Why You Should Read “Daring to Hope”

I don’t know about you, but events in our news from shootings and hurricanes, constantly hearing about strife and conflict in the world, all these things cause anxiety in me.  I purposely don’t watch the news; my heart just can’t bear it.  Even so, much of it comes across my Facebook feed.   It is so easy for my soul to be in a place of unrest.

I had never considered myself to be an anxious person, but in recent years I have struggled some with anxiety.  I think it’s a combination of hormonal issues that started with the perimenopause phase (just before true menopause) and as I age, a more full understanding, sadly, of the state of our world today.

When I had younger kids my thoughts were so busy with them and with homeschooling I was doing good to know what day it was, much less pay much attention to world events.  I’ve always had a tender heart though and tended to keep such things at a distance.  I know in some ways that it isn’t good, but my husband watches enough news for both of us and keeps me informed enough, as much as I can take that is.

This new book of Katie’s, Daring to Hope came to me at just the right time.  Isn’t it interesting how that seems to be?

I don’t believe in coincidence.   When I “happened” to look at her blog in order to link to it in a post I was writing, I saw that she had written a 2nd book and that I could apply to be a part of the launch team, which I promptly did.  I stated in my application that my blog only had a small number of readers and that I would completely understand if they needed bloggers with a larger audience to promote Katie’s book.

***this post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you purchase through one of my links.  My promise to you is I only recommend things I love.  See disclosure policy here***

Although I tend to dread checking my email, I daily and eagerly kept looking for that reply, even though I felt being chosen was unlikely.  I was surprised and beyond thrilled when I was chosen and received an early launch team edition of the book.

I knew without reading it, that her book would touch my heart in an eternal way, and it has.

When I read “Kisses From Katie” (her first book) and Katie’s blog, I’ve never stopped thinking about her story.  Never stopped thinking about how God is using her.  Never stopped thinking about how young she is and yet how radical her obedience to God seems.

To give you a little background, Katie Davis Majors is from Tennessee but currently lives in Uganda.  By the time she was 23, she was mom through fostering and adoption to 13 girls in Uganda before she married her husband, Benji, and they had a baby boy.  She is founder of Amazima Ministries, an organization that cares for young and vulnerable children and families in Uganda.

 All this, and she’s not even 30 years old yet.

I read all but the first 2 chapters in one day.   Every time I felt like I should be doing something productive, I reminded myself that on that day I had given myself permission to read and rest for several hours.  It was just what both my body and my anxious soul needed.

I find myself wrestling with anxiety about a variety of things, struggling with fears that I can’t do anything about.  Do you ever find yourself feeling this way?

I worry about Jessie if something happens to me.  I worry about the world my kids and future grand-kids will be living in if Jesus doesn’t come back soon.  Your fears and anxieties might be different from mine, but if like mine, they are outside of your control, they are stealing our joy and possibly causing physical pain.

I can’t do one thing about any of those fears except talk to God about them and ask Him to help with the fears that threaten to overwhelm at times.  I was in need of a fresh dose of hope from God.

Katie, living in Uganda has witnessed more poverty, sickness, and death up close than most of us ever will.  As I read Daring to Hope, I saw how in the midst of witnessing great suffering and being unable to change those circumstances, God refreshed Katie’s hope in Him.

You see, God has brought into Katie’s life and home many people who were suffering and she was called to be with them and  to love them.  Sometimes she loved and served them until they were physically healed and sometimes she held their hand as her friends,  “beheld the face of Jesus for the first time.”

In her time of sorrow and needing a word from God, He reminded Katie that His love is better than life.


So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

In your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 63: 3-4


As Katie tells of the ways that God has continually refreshed her hope, I find Him doing the same for me.

These verses from Psalms have been meaningful to me for a long time.  They came through as a fresh dose of hope as I pondered the truth of them in my current anxious state.  God’s love and his faithful, steadfast presence for this life and eternity, really is better than anything, even life.

This book is many things.  It is an up close view of the ways that God is using Katie and how he is working in Uganda.  It is a messy and beautiful story of how God has built her family through adoption. It is a sweet love story of how when she had given up hope of a husband God brought her Benji, who not only loves her, but is a loving father to all of her girls.   It is a telling of stories of how God brings people together for their good and His glory.

Does your soul feel anxious?  Does your heart need encouraging?  Daring to Hope encouraged my heart and lifted my spirit.

Surprisingly, because I think of Katie as doing such BIG and meaningful things for God, one other thing God reminded me of through this book was the importance of “small” things.

“God was glorified, is glorified, when we give him our hearts, give Him ourselves, and faithfully do the thing right in front of us, no matter how small or seemingly trivial.”

“He has shown me the beauty of being attentive to one person, in the mundane, again and again.”

“He showed me that He is glorified in the small too.  He is glorified in each pot of pasta faithfully put on the table for our people…..when no one saw all the noses wiped and laundry folded and toilets scrubbed, God was being glorified.”

“Small acts of love become whispers of His glory in the midst of  our everydayness.”

That was a sweet reminder too.  So often as moms, our daily work is the same day after day.  It is good to remember that done with the right heart, even such mundane work honors God.

I know Daring to Hope will bless you too.


Hope for When Your Marriage is in a Hard Season

I almost didn’t write this post.

When I was asked to be a part of this blog series, Reclaiming Hope and Joy In Your Marriage, I waited until the last possible moment to join.

I was so honored to be asked to join this great group of Christian bloggers.  And while I loved the idea of being part of a group of Christian women encouraging other women, I knew that writing about marriage would be especially personal and vulnerable.  

We tend to imagine while we struggle at times in our marriage, that it is so much easier for other Christians, but we can see from the divorce rate among Christians that likely isn’t true.

I will soon celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary.   I have a good marriage, but like all folks that have been married a good minute we have weathered hard seasons in our relationship. When you’re in the midst of a difficult season, it can be hard to see that you’ll ever get to the other side of it. Now,  I’m so glad and thankful that when we were going through a hard season, we didn’t give up.  

Here are four things that can help you find hope when your marriage is in a hard season:

Continue reading at Hope Joy in Christ 


Is Bible Journaling Your Jam? 4 Ways to Use Bible Journaling

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Bible Journaling has been all the craze for a while now.  Is Bible Journaling something that you love?  

To be honest, it’s not something I’ve tried, but I know many people love Bible Journaling. When I looked at this Bible Journaling Kit I instantly thought of several  people for whom it would be the perfect gift.  People use Bible journaling in a variety of ways and here are 4 ways I think are pretty neat.

For Homeschooling Families, Bible Journaling During Read Aloud Times.

When I was homeschooling my older two that are now grown, the time that we spent together while I read aloud to them was the favorite part of our day for all of us.  We continued to read aloud even when they were teenagers.  Those are still some of my fondest memories.

Sometimes they would color while I read aloud to them.  We had a lot of educational coloring books and they used Prismacolor coloring pencils.  These would be good pencils for journaling in your Bible or notebook as well.  They’re a better quality than Crayola, etc, but come in a range of price.   We chose these Prismacolor Scholar colored pencils for Jessie.  They color well, weren’t super expensive and weren’t so super soft that they break easily.

This would be a great way for homeschooling families to use Bible journaling.  A quiet activity that gives them something to do with their hands during read aloud time.  Or any time you want them to be still and quiet 🙂

Using the Bible Journaling Stencils to Make Cards or for Framing

Jessie loves to make cards.  I keep card stock on hand and she loves to make birthday cards.   She also loves to send cards or letters in the mail.  Outlining and coloring in the Bible verse on the outside of the card would be a great “thinking of you” card for anytime.  It would also help her to memorize scripture without it seeming it being difficult or seeming like “work.”

I could see myself using Bible verse journaling in this way.  I’m not a journaler but I do like to make personalized cards.  It’s been a while since I’ve done it, but I used to enjoy making cards with rubber stamps.  I would also enjoy making a frameable print to use in my home.


Using Bible Journaling to Help Commit Scripture to Memory and Work on Fine Motor Skills

For older children, teens, and adults Bible Journaling would be a fun way to to help cement scripture in our memory.

For my Jessie, who has Down Syndrome, if I can convince her that tracing isn’t too difficult (I will let you know how this goes) it would be a great fine motor activity for her. She has a tendency to want to give up if she can’t do it in a way she thinks is perfect but I would love for to enjoy this and reap the double benefits of learning scripture and fine motor practice.

Stenciling Verses Into a Notebook, Journal, or Planner

If you’re interested in learning more about Bible Journaling or connecting with others with the same interest, you should check out The Holy Mess Bible Journaling Facebook Group.  Sara, the author of Trust In the Lord Bible Journaling kit started this group for everyone to share tips and learn from each other.

This week she is having a sale on her Trust In the Lord Bible Journaling Kit. The regular price  $21 now $18 for a limited time.   On the facebook group she will be giving away one journaling Bible and lots of other goodies.  So, check it out!

Sara also has some free printables and a 5 day email series with even more great info about Bible Journaling to help get you started.

Till next week friends,



Trouble sticking with a Bible Reading Plan? This little trick is helping me.

I have always had a hard time sticking with a Bible reading plan that isn’t tied to a group Bible study that gives me built in accountability.  I’ve already confided I have difficulty sticking with a meal plan.  I kind of have difficulty sticking with a lot of systems.  I try something for a while and then end up switching to something else.  Sigh.  I’m telling on myself a lot here.

For people who don’t homeschool, when they know you do, they make all kinds of complimentary assumptions about you (in my experience) that may or may not be true. Now, that might not be true for the average stranger, but for the person you meet and get to know a little bit, often it is.  My kids that have graduated were intelligent and kind and they had good manners most of the time.  Folks could see that we were probably doing okay with this homeschooling thing.

People have tended to assume I must be pretty organized.  I am in some areas and in others I’m a complete mess.  When I try to tell others you don’t have to be perfect in all these areas to homeschool, they think I’m being modest.  I’m not.  It’s true.

They assume too that you must be super patient.  Sometimes I am.  Sometimes I have acted out in ways that my children (Evan mainly) like to tell on me.

There are areas in my life where I lack follow through.

If I commit to a PERSON I keep my word and if I’ve committed I do what I say.

I was telling Jordan (my oldest, daughter) I wish I had been better at passing down certain skills that I simply don’t possess.  When we were talking about that (and I had shared with her my upbringing in the early years) she once said, ” Well, mama, it’s just a good thing you weren’t raising us on beer and twinkies!”  Laughingly.  Forgivingly.  She knows her mama isn’t perfect, but that I perfectly love her and she’s content with that.

Now, I wasn’t raised on beer and twinkies either, so don’t get to thinking that.  You can read about my early life here.  But, I wasn’t raised with a lot of consistency, certainly not home organization and meal planning.  My dad did teach me how to cook some things and how to clean.  And I look back very fondly on some of those memories.  But, like me, it was all sporadic.  Maybe it’s genetic 🙂

In talking with one of my best friends recently, I wondered out loud if I would be better organized and able to stick with a plan better if I had learned that from a mother.  She said no, she didn’t think so.  So there goes that theory.

Of all the things I’ve done and haven’t done, stuck with and haven’t stuck with, I’ve never read my Bible straight through.  I feel confident that I’ve read every book.  Some many times.  I’ve done this Bible study and that one.  For a number of years I did most all the Beth Moore in depth studies.  If you haven’t, those are SO good!  But I haven’t ever stuck with reading the Bible through.  I really want to this time.

I’ve tried the Bible reading plans on paper.  I would have them stuck in my Bible and manage to lose them.  I’ve done one other online thing.  That app stopped working.

What I’m using right now is the She Reads Truth app.  I know, it has been around several years now and a lot of people use it.  There are different plans, Bible studies and even lock screens to help with memorization.  Many are free, some have a cost.  I’m using the Bible In a Year Plan and it’s free.  You just download the app, go to plans and choose Bible in a Year.

How it works is it shows you the current month’s readings.  You can read ahead and if you get behind you can work to catch up.  You “tap” at the bottom to mark it read.

The crazy little thing that is helping me is that it shows what % you have completed.  Yep.  That’s it.  That’s the trick.

See, it always feels like I will never get there, like I will never finish.  When I saw that 1% pop up, it’s crazy how good that felt to know that I had made progress that I could measure.  Ya’ll, I’ve been in the book of Numbers, and seeing the percentage of completion rise has been helpful.  I’m only at 3% but I’m hopeful that tracking my progress might help me stick with it.  If I don’t I’ll just start again, but I hope I can.

When I had a smaller phone screen I didn’t prefer to read my Bible on the small screen.  I now have the Iphone 7 plus.  When I pulled it out the other day my nephew said, ” Is that a laptop?”  Haha.  I need reading glasses and the big screen makes it so much more pleasant to read from.

So, if you need a new plan to try, you might check out She Reads Truth app.  Lots of choices.  If you need to be able to track your progress and see when you’re getting close to your goal, maybe it will help you.  If not, you probably grew closer to the Lord while you were reading.  That’s the real goal.  To learn more of Him.  If we belong to Him, that always results in praise and closer relationship.

I thank God for the beautiful, peaceful time I was able to sit outside and read my Bible with coffee this morning.  “For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”  Psalm 103:14.  This verse came to me as I was thinking that even if I fail at this goal, this isn’t the measurement of my worth to Him.  The same is true for you.  He loves me (you!)  in all my failings.  I’m thankful.

Have a beautiful day!


The day my husband brought home FIVE NEWBORN kittens.

Jay called me at 5:30 from work.  I was standing at the stove.  It was Wednesday and in 30 minutes I needed to be at church to teach a group of teens.  I had two eyes going on the stove, still finishing supper and needing to get dressed.  I was on another call and had to click over to answer his.  Are you getting the picture of the level of frantic activity that always seems to be the case when you’re trying to get out the door to church?

I could hear the anxiety in his voice.  He was at work and heading home.  He told me he had climbed under a loading dock to get to these 5 newborn, only days old kittens that he could hear incessantly meowing.  His co-workers helped him raise the hydraulic portion of the loading dock and brace it for him to crawl under.  He said he had prayed, “Lord if its my day to go, please make it fast.”

It was going to freeze that night and they were laying directly on the concrete.  He didn’t see a mama anywhere around and couldn’t leave them there.  I told him I needed to head out to church.  He said, “I need you.  You can’t go to church.  Someone else will have to teach the class.  I need your help.  You need to help me figure out how to get these kittens fed.”  We are members of a small church.  My friend, who is the backup teacher,  was sick with a migraine.  Everyone already has their own responsibilities, so it can be hard to find a last minute backup.  I would only miss if I had to.  I had to.

Jay put some paper in a box he found in the office and brought the kittens home.  They had quieted for the ride home but one of them, the one we nicknamed The Big Mouth, started yeowing as soon as the box got still. I had called Kitty Kottage and done some online research while he was driving home.  Following their instructions, he ran to Fred’s for some kitten replacement milk and we fed them a little with a medicine syringe.  They seemed healthy but they were making a lot of noise and we couldn’t know how long it had been since they had eaten.

In our panic we forgot to heat the milk that first time.  Oops.  That could be one of the factors as to why it was such a challenge to get some down them.  As soon as we finished feeding the babies, he raced off to Pet Smart for bottles and a bigger can of milk.

That night I fed those babies every 2-3 hours and was so hoping they wouldn’t die.  I had been told the chances of all of them surviving at  this young age weren’t great.

Like in my baby nursing days, at each feeding I would get my supplies all ready and set up within easy reach.  A drink, the warmed bottle, tissue to use to stimulate them to potty after they eat.  I learned some new facts about how all that works that I hadn’t considered before.  And, the tv remote if they stopped yeowing enough for me to hear the tv.

Let’s back up a bit.  We have one female cat that recently started having seizures and takes medicine for that 2 x a day.  When she has a seizure sometimes she has a potty accident.  We have two dogs.  One is incredibly anxious and annoying (Boo) and a Doberman that I love dearly (Stella) who has a sensitive stomach and randomly throws up.  I AM ALLERGIC TO CATS AND DOGS 🙂  I’m constantly washing the blankets the dogs lay on and trying to keep all of them off of things that will bother me the most.  I take allergy nose spray and Claritin to survive.  A cat that Jay loved dearly (a solid black sweet lap cat named Charlie) died a year ago and we had agreed that between allergies and the vet bills we wouldn’t take on anymore animals.

Just that week Jay had cancelled an appointment that would cost $50 thinking it just wasn’t the best time to spend the money.  Guess how much it cost to get all the supplies for the babies?  $50.   And he didn’t begrudge them that.

In situations like these, you see who people are.  And who my husband is, is a person who couldn’t leave those babies to die.  He puts on a tough exterior, but he’s pretty much mush.   He kept apologizing about the extra work they were causing me because I had said I would get up with them through the night since he had to work the next day.   At my age I don’t bounce back as quick when I miss sleep, but there was something good for my soul in that experience during the time that I took care of those babies.

The babies had a hard time learning to take the milk from the bottle.  2 of them began to fight a little less and learned to suck the bottle.  Three of the babies, strangely it was the three that had orange on them, which made it easy to remember who had eaten well, fought me the whole time at each feeding as I struggled to get the milk in them.

All the yeowing made Jessie and Stella extremely anxious. Jessie put her headphones on.  Stella, until I finally let her sniff one of the babies in my hand, sat on the couch her whole body shaking and her teeth chattering.  That added to my stress level too.  When I put Jessie to bed, she sleeps with her door open and a loud box fan, I didn’t think she could hear them.  She recently got a cell phone.  She texted me from bed, “Please make it stop.”  That would have been funny if it wasn’t so late.   Sigh.

Kitty Kottage was on the lookout for us a mama that could nurse the kittens.  I posted on facebook about Jay rescuing the kittens and what was going on and my friend, Kristina,  responded that she had a mama kitty that had birthed her babies outside and that something had gotten her kittens.  The mama kitty had been looking for them and crying for 3 days.  She still had milk.

Kristina brought “Precious” over right away.  We were hopeful but knew it might or might not work.  As soon as she saw and heard the babies she jumped in the basket with them and began to lick them.  Cleaning them and stimulating them to do what they needed to do (pee).  I was thankful she was taking over that job!  They needed a little help latching on.  The one that had the most trouble with the bottle had trouble latching onto her too.  Precious immediately acted as though these were her missing babies.  It was the sweetest thing to watch.

I can’t help but think, what a magnificent creator that makes creation to work the way that it does.  And how perfect this mama and these babies were for each other.  My first thought was it was a match made in heaven.

It was a sweet experience to feed those babies when they had no mama.  It felt good to be able to give them life-sustaining milk, even when they didn’t think I was doing them any favors.  How 2 took to it and 3 struggled made me think of my own breastfeeding trials.  Out of three only one was successful and I had tried everything I was coached to do.  Two of my three were lazy nursers.  Jessie, maybe because of the Down syndrome causing low muscle tone, but certainly, mainly because of her heart defect that caused her to need open heart surgery at 3 months old.  My boy, who was serious about his groceries from the beginning, was the only one I was able to nurse.  What a sweet time that was.

I am grateful for the mama kitty who is taking such good care of these babies that are now hers.  I am grateful for a husband who can’t turn his back when he knows the choice is life and death for some needy, yeowing kitty babies.  I am grateful for a God who is creator and sustainer of all things.  I am thankful 3 of these babies are already claimed for future homes 🙂  Who else needs one?

Count your blessings today and everyday.  Even when we are going through serious and difficult things, there are blessings to be found. Thank God for them.

I hope you have a beautiful day!

*I am NOT referring to the kitten adventure when I speak of serious and difficult things, just that even in the most difficult of all possible situations, there are blessings to be found.  I will never forget reading that Corrie ten Boom was thankful for fleas when she was in a concentration camp.  It kept the guards from coming in the building and she was able to read and share the Bible (that she had snuck in)  with other women in the room.  I praise God for those fleas and for Corrie ten Boom sharing her amazing faith.

As a Mother Trust Your Gut {part2} When Mothering a Teenage Boy

Mothering a boy was so different than mothering a girl.

We called him our “Little Man” when we would talk to or about him in my tummy.  Evan was the only one of my babies I was successfully able to breastfeed.  I loved how he looked pure drunk after I nursed him.  As a baby and toddler he was so deliciously squeezable.  He had the sweetest, softest baby cheeks.  And then one day when he was four those baby cheeks were gone and his skin felt like a big boy’s.  I had known that was coming, and yet I hated that sign of his growing up.  At four, with such devotion in his eyes he stated that he wanted to marry me when he grew up.  And, when told he couldn’t, he said we could just sneak and do it.  A mother never forgets those precious moments.

It’s such a good thing that all these sweet and precious times come before we parent teenagers.  When we are looking at that tall as me boy-man, and are perplexed by him, its good that we can recall the sweetness of days past.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed the teen years with both of my now adult children so much.  There were, of course, specific areas  and times of difficulty with each one.  That’s just a part of growing up and figuring out who you really want to be.  I loved that they were old enough for us to enjoy many of the same things.  Each stage of parenting has its own unique challenges, but I look back on so many good memories from those teen years.

When Evan was 12-15, there was a definite boy-becoming-a-man struggle going on within.  I’m always studying faces, noticing every change in expression, and I would see so much cross his boy-man face within seconds.  At this age boys are no longer little boys.  But they aren’t men either.   Feeling on the inside more and more like a man (and looking like one too!), expected to obey and be respectful, when you really want to be a man, the boss of yourself.  I could literally see all that play across Evan’s face.

If you have a son and  haven’t read James Dobson’s Bringing up Boys I highly recommend it.  As a female, it helped me to understand my boy better. So much of the way men think is foreign to me.  Can I get an Amen? This was definitely a helpful resource.

I homeschooled Jordan and Evan from the beginning through high school.   It didn’t seem uncommon to me at first for Evan to progress academically a little slower than Jordan, because that’s fairly common for boys.  And, I was pretty sure that she was a little ahead for her age. By middle elementary though, it was clear to me that Evan was having some areas of struggle. Math was especially hard for him.  It reminded me of the way I’d seen my younger brother struggle in school and I hated it for him.

I feel confident to say now, even though Evan has never been tested, that he has ADD.  And maybe some other particular learning difficulty, of that I’m not sure.  When Evan was 15 and had for as long as we could remember struggled with waking up in the mornings, and seemed excessively sleepy at times, we scheduled him for a sleep study.  I wasn’t sure if he was anything but lazy honestly, which I now feel a little guilty about.

Evan was diagnosed with some long word that basically means he is excessively sleepy.  He didn’t have sleep apnea, but when they did a nap study (Multiple Sleep Latency Test), after they had watched him get a good night’s sleep, he was able to go to sleep every 2 hours and entered REM sleep at least 2-3 of the short naps, which is extremely unusual.  They prescribed him Adderall to help him be able to be alert and function well.  We had considered for a long time whether to have Evan tested for ADD and had he not gotten this diagnosis and prescription, we had planned to follow through with ADD testing.  For several years we had been weighing the risks and rewards of ADD medication and this diagnosis let us know he probably really did need the medication.  We managed till high school without it, which I have often thought if he were in school rather than homeschooled we might not have.

There were SO many times in Evan’s homeschooling high school years when I felt so unsure how hard to push him.  I found it hard to tell when he was genuinely having a difficult time and when he was procrastinating because he dreaded how hard it might be.    I’m sure that sometimes he got off light when he shouldn’t and sometimes I pushed hard when he was really struggling.

I remember feeling pretty desperate to be able to tell the difference and to know the right thing to do.  Although I’m sure the decision really wasn’t as black and white as this, it sometimes felt like choosing between him being college ready, or choosing to preserve the relationship between us.  What if I was too easy on him and he wouldn’t be prepared for college?  What if in my fear I pushed him too hard, wanting his best, but he really was already giving it?  How would it make him feel about himself if he was doing his best and I was always pushing for more? With each choice, what would the cost be if I was wrong?

I most of all wanted Evan to be a person that loved God and obeyed him.  I wanted him to be a godly and good man, but I also wanted him to be able to make a living and provide for a family. The weight of what was at stake felt so heavy.  There was a war going on inside of me many times as I stood in his room, talking and fussing and trying to decide just how hard to push or what standard (academically) to hold him to.

And then sometimes my sweet strong boy-man would start to cry and I would know that the struggle was real.  That he was frustrated with himself.  He doesn’t cry so easily.

Supporting his sister at her Special Olympic Gymnastics meet.

I couldn’t know how it was all going to work out.  But, I chose to preserve the relationship. I pointed out to Evan the qualities that I enjoyed and admired in him, and there are many.  Evan was and is one of the funniest people I know.  Even as a teen he was very analytical in his thinking, good at reading people (I like to think he gets that from his mama), good at understanding how things work and is a great real life problem solver. He is a person who is always thinking about things and evaluating them.  He is the best big brother ever.   I let Evan know that if he never went to college, that I knew he was smart and gifted by God in so many important ways.  I let him know that I wanted him to do HIS very best and that if he did that, no matter the outcome, it would be good enough for me.

All those years of struggle I was praying.  Sometimes those prayers were just, “Help me to know the right thing to do!” in the moment.   When I would experience a moment of clarity I would think, “Is that God? Is that just me?”  I can look back now and say the mothering instincts God gave me didn’t lead me wrong.  So often, amidst the feelings of desperation, there was just this slight tugging of my heart in the right direction.

Are you a scared mama right now who is afraid of making a mistake?  I think one reason it’s so hard is because we realize we only get one shot at this parenting thing.  The stakes are high. No do-overs.   Pray.  And then listen. The right choice may be one that only feels ever so slightly better to you than your other options.  I realized back then that I was tempted  sometimes to respond in certain ways because of how my choices might be perceived by others.  Even when you’re afraid that your choice could make you look foolish before others, listen to your gut.

Evan did go to college.  He had to work really hard, but work hard he did.  He took a remedial math class and then completed College Algebra with an A!  He completed the requirements for his Associates degree with a 3.71 GPA!  He isn’t sure yet what he wants to major in so he’s taking off a couple of semesters and working.  He has worked the whole time he has gone to college.  He got a couple of scholarships and has paid the rest of his own tuition.  He saved $5,000 down payment for a car and is working full time (industrial construction currently), with the plan to pay off his car in less than a year and save money for tuition.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.

I am 150% certain that I didn’t make every right decision, but I have no big regrets.  I cherish the sweet relationship I have with this young man that is my son.  I can’t imagine having not been his mother.  I would have missed out on so much .  And, even if academically things had gone another direction, I know I would still be so thankful to have chosen the relationship over academic goals.  I love and enjoy this boy so much.  I thank God for him and the joy and laughter he brings to my life.

Pray mama, and just keep on keepin’ on until you can look back and see how God has guided you through.

He’s 20, but I remember when he wanted to marry me.

PS.  This post was written with Evan’s permission and blessing.

If you missed part one of As a Mother, Trust Your Gut you can read it here













As A Mother, Trust Your Gut

My oldest is 22, so  I’ve been at this mothering thing for a good while now. Like with everything else in life, I have continued to develop and learn as a mother.  But, I honestly believe that one of the most important ingredients for good mothering is with you from the first time you hold your baby.  Although I had read about parenting, had worked with children and babysat a plenty, I realize that it was when I held Jordan for the first time, everything in my world changed.  I had been reading books about pregnancy and babies, trying to be prepared to be a mother. I had loved her before then, certainly, but without a doubt, there was a certain undefinable something more than love that flooded me when I saw her, before she was even placed in my arms.

Having been a mother a while now, if I could offer only one piece of advice to a younger mother, it would be to trust those “gut feelings” that can’t always be explained.  I feel certain that over the course of the years of my mothering, God has been at work in ways that can only be explained as “mother’s intuition”,  or “my gut”.  That feeling, that little feeling, that something is or isn’t right.  Trust it.  Trust it, even when that feeling is only a little stronger than all the other competing feelings.  Trust it, even when it goes against the popular and possibly even good advice.  And, trust it, even when it goes against the advice you get from family or friends.  You are the mother that God gave to this particular child.  Trust that He knew what He was doing.

I wasn’t a strong Christian when Jordan was born.  It was when Evan was a baby that I began to grow closer in my relationship with God. I know that even as an immature Christian, I had those mothering instincts.  I now see those instincts as being a gift given to all mothers from an all knowing, wise, and loving creator AND amplified in the life of a believing mother by the presence of a living and active Holy Spirit within us to guide.

I am always amazed when I ponder creation.  I am always pointed to a loving and omniscient creator.  When I went through some years of questioning everything about God, it was one of the things that he used to bring me back.  Even when I wondered about God’s presence in my life, it always seemed (to me) to require more faith to believe the earth and everything in it, came to be by any means other than an all knowing God.

There isn’t a person alive that always gets it right, that is a perfect parent.  But, I have learned to listen to that little voice inside.  Sometimes, whatever the parenting dilemma, there isn’t a perfect solution, but we have to choose the way that leaves us feeling the most at peace. There have been many occasions through the years that I didn’t feel 100% confident of the direction we were choosing, but I learned to find that direction that felt maybe only a little more right, but more right than the other choices before me.  As praying, believing mamas, when we rely on Him He leads us, sometimes in little ways that we can only see more clearly much later.

All moms experience doubt about the right course of action sometimes.  Even just a normal day at home is filled with many decisions to be made.  I can think of situations in each of my children’s lives, that looking back, feel like “defining moments”.  I/we didn’t get everything perfect, but I have no big regrets, because I always listened to that feeling that felt “the most right” even if only by a little bit.

My three children are very different from each other.  They have required such different things from me as a mother.  With each of them, I can think of instances when I had those gut feelings that lead me in right directions, that I sometimes wasn’t all that certain of at the time.  For today, I will give you an example from the early days when Jordan was a baby.  But first, a little background for you to have a bit of an idea where we were starting from…..

Our journey to having a baby included two miscarriages, 2 infertility related surgeries, some other infertility related procedures, and I had taken Clomid for a little over a year.  I was 28 when I became pregnant and 29 when I had Jordan.  I had wanted a baby for longer than the time we had been trying to have one and I was SO looking forward to being a mother.  From the beginning, Jordan was not an easy baby.  I had difficulty breastfeeding, which was heartbreaking for me.  I grieved for weeks over the loss of having so desired that experience with her, when finally, after trying all we knew and she didn’t gain weight, we started feeding her formula.

We went straight from breastfeeding issues to “colic”.   AKA crying all the time.  Worse at certain times of the day.  To this day, I have yet to think I’ve heard a story of colic lasting as long as hers.  After a few months, our pediatrician said “colic” that lasts past a certain time period is then considered to be irritable bowel syndrome.  There’s a whole ‘nother  long blog post that could be made of all that and mama instincts and learning as you go. With #2,  I learned quicker and he was allergy tested when he was 9 months old 🙂

Jordan never slept well as a baby, and honestly, other than a VERY brief period, didn’t sleep through the night many times till she was 7.  Even when she no longer got out of the bed, she would tell me about the times that she woke up and looked at the clock and what time (s) it had been.  When she was a baby and toddler we got a LOT of advice related to sleeping.  When she was a few months old we decided to try the “let them cry ” to sleep.  She cried for an hour and a half .  And I did too.  She then snubbed for HOURS as I held her next to me and she slept. I felt confused and a sadness that didn’t go away when she stopped crying.  I could cry now really, just thinking about that time period and how confusing it all was.  I knew after that night we would never go with that method again.  It just wasn’t for us.  It wasn’t that the advice was bad.  It has worked well for a lot of people. But, it wasn’t right for us.

See, we had spent the first couple of weeks sleeping in the recliner, with her on my chest, because she couldn’t stay asleep laying flat in bed.  Then, we moved to my bed with her laying on my chest with me propped high on pillows.  No matter what I did, she never slept very soundly.  Eventually, she lay propped on my arm beside me pulled real close, her little tummy right against me.  I would be half asleep and I would jiggle and pat her every time she woke or began to wiggle.  I learned to do the jiggling pretty much in my sleep 🙂 There were real reasons she couldn’t sleep well, whether anyone else believed it or not, and for us, “self-soothing” wasn’t going to happen.  Twenty two years ago co-sleeping wasn’t such an accepted or popular thing, but my gut said not to let her cry alone and it was the right decision FOR US.  I am not passing judgement on anyone who successfully does differently.  I’m just saying my gut said it wasn’t right for us, and it wasn’t.

This was just the beginning of parenting for us. It can be pretty intimidating, cause we know we only get one shot at raising these kids well.  Remembering how I struggled in those early years, I love any opportunity to encourage younger mothers to trust their own instincts.  There were certainly more situations ahead where the right decision didn’t seem clear.  The adventure continued 🙂 The longer I mothered, the more I learned to trust those instincts, even if I learned it by making a mistake.

Stay tuned for part 2 of As a mother, trust your gut.


Why I Don’t Blog Only About Down Syndrome

When I decided to start this blog I knew that I would want to blog about Down syndrome, but I also knew that I didn’t want my blog to be ONLY about Down syndrome. In my first blog post on this blog, I told how I have a love of home.  I enjoy so much all that goes into making our house a home.  I want to share DIY projects and some other of my favorite things.  Like I wrote about here, Down syndrome doesn’t consume our thoughts as much as it did in the early days.  Certainly, Down syndrome ranks high among topics I think about, study up on and care about.  But, I have one child with Down syndrome and two “typical” (if there is such a thing!) children. If you have a child with a disability, you’ve certainly heard of the poem, “Welcome to Holland,” by Emily Perl Kingsley.  If you aren’t familiar with it, you can read it here.  In the poem, the author equates having a child with a disability to arriving in Holland when you had prepared for and boarded a flight to Italy.

Having been to Italy twice (Jordan and Evan) and then arriving in Holland (Jessie, who has Down syndrome), I feel like quite the world traveler. Even my two trips to Italy were quite different from each other.  Each child requires something very different from you as a parent.  I had been to Italy twice already when my flight landed in Holland.

My first trip to Italy landed me with a daughter.  A daughter who fits the “first child” profile.  She learned to read when she was four. A bit of a perfectionist, self motivated.  We homeschooled, and as a teen, if we were busy and she got behind she would work on the weekend (without prompting) to catch up.  In competitive gymnastics she perfected her already present self discipline.  She is driven to achieve whatever she sets her mind to.  She completed PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant) school and recently got married. Once she got her first “real” job as a PTA, she saved half ($10,000) for a down payment on a $20,000 car and then set the goal to pay the rest off in a year, and did it! Jordan is 22 now, and we have seen that Italy is great!

This photo is very representative of their playful relationship.  Like I hoped for when they were little (and fighting), they’ve grown up into great friends.

Then, off to Italy again. The sights we saw were different this trip.  A boy this time.  All boy.  Ball was a favorite word when he was little.  He wanted to marry me when he was 4. When he cried after a fall off a bike ramp (at 8 or 9) we knew to take him to the ER for an xray.  He wasn’t as quick to learn to read as his older sister.  He struggled in school.  We felt pretty sure he had ADD, now, he feels sure he does too.  He was diagnosed with a sleep disorder as a teen.  As a teen there was the normal struggle as he found his way, feeling pulled between his desire to be a man worthy of respect, and his disdain at being bossed around by his mother.  He has been working and paying his own way in college.  He is so patient with his little sister, always. Evan is now 20, a strong, smart, compassionate, loyal, frugal :), young man worthy of our respect.  Our second trip to Italy we saw different sights and again, found Italy to be great!

He’s my only boy.  Love him so much.

Ah,  we arrived in Holland when Jordan was 7 and Evan, 5.    I think the fact that we had already been travelling a while kept us from being quite so lost when we found ourselves there.  It was frightening at first, but God had been preparing me to accept what He knew was coming.  Right away, although it was scary to have arrived unexpectedly, we could see that there was beauty to be found in Holland.  We found our way around and now can’t imagine how our lives would be different if we had gone back to Italy again.  After the initial fear of being lost, and trying to figure out where we were and how to acclimate ourselves we decided to embrace and appreciate that we were in a new place, with beauty of its own.  Sweet Jessie.  Soft and squeezy.  Funny.  A picky eater.  She loves to be understood when she speaks, but that requires more effort on our part. She has our same sense of humor.  Loves to watch wrestling.  Always keeping her calendar, anticipating the next activity or social event.  So tender hearted.  She can’t bear for us to be upset with her. She loves being a part of her “team”.  Swim team, baseball team, gymnastics team.  Holland is full of beautiful places, places that we feel richer to have experienced.

I have always said to each of my kids, “I’m so glad God gave you to me.”  I say it to Jessie often when I tuck her in at night.  And it’s so very true.  He makes no mistakes.


If you’ve read my introductory post, here, then you know the first part of my life wasn’t the same home life that my kids have experienced.  I’ve heard Dr. Phil say, “It is what it is”.  Whatever it is, it is what it is.  I think we are always better off to deal with whatever the truth is, rather than wishing it were different.  It is a waste of time, precious, precious, time to linger wondering what if. There is always something to be grateful for, and we needlessly trade joy and peace when we fail to trust in the God that knew every day ordained for us before we were born.  (Psalm 139:16)

So, do you see why I don’t only blog about Down syndrome?  In addition to my trip to Holland, I’ve also been to Italy twice.  Amidst those travels, we’ve built a home life in a small town with a couple of dogs, a cat, a pool, with a garden that I love in the back yard.  I’ve shared my home and taken those trips with the ones I love best.  What a journey it has been and continues to be.



Introducing Myself

Hey y’all 🙂 I’ve started a new blog and wanted to tell you a little bit about the blog and about me.  In introducing myself and my blog, I have decided to be very open and share some things, that honestly, not that many people know about me.

Who I am today, what I cherish most, my perspective of home and family and even Down syndrome, is greatly influenced by past experiences. I think those past experiences give me a bit of a unique perspective. I know those experiences cause me to take notice of ordinary beauty in the every day that is so easy for us all to take for granted.  My husband has many times said I wear rose colored glasses.  I tell him it’s on purpose.

Being a mother has been the greatest joy of my life.  I love HOME, and I love being a stay at home mom.  For many that have a love of home, they want to replicate the loving home they experienced as a child. For me, I have wanted to create for myself and my children the home I had longed for. I desired to have a changed family legacy.   I desperately wanted my children to know and love God, and know that He is good, even when things in life aren’t good. In my life, even the very hard stuff has been used by God for my good. I now live the life, and have the home, that I longed for as a child.

I grew up without a mother. My mother died when I was six. I remember as a child laying in my bed at night, crying, and asking God how he could let that happen. I’m known now for having a terrible memory; but I remember that as though it were yesterday. We were a blended family, and my five older siblings by this time were all married and no longer living at home. For a couple of years, my younger brother, Jody, and I weren’t with my dad and we missed him terribly. We had the love of extended family, but I was lonely, and longed for us to be together as a family. When I was 9 or 10 we were reunited as a family and living near some of my older siblings.

My dad loved us deeply and wanted the very best for us. There were many good things about my dad; I have a lot of good memories with him, and I learned much that was good from him. But, my dad was an alcoholic, and as a result our home was very unstable and unpredictable. The more important it was to me for daddy to not be drinking on a particular occasion; the more likely he was to be.

I remember as a teenager watching other families that seemed stable and loving, with close family relationships. I was often envious when I saw teenage daughters who had loving, supportive relationships with their mothers. One mother and daughter still stand out in my mind. This classmate’s mother once bought me an inexpensive ring on a school field trip when she saw how I really wanted it. We weren’t very organized at home and I hadn’t thought to ask my dad for money for the gift shop. This classmate’s mom probably has no recollection of that event, or even likely, memory of me.

I watched the sweetness between this mother and daughter and I wanted that. I wanted it for myself as a daughter then, and for myself as a mother, with my children later. Often, when friends voiced their complaints about their mothers, I wished I had the very thing they were fussing about.

My dad remarried twice, and one of my stepmother’s was a loving motherly influence in my life, even though our home was not a place of stability. Throughout my teen years, I continually filed away thoughts and dreams of what I wanted my future home with a family of my own to look like. This list wasn’t about “things” but about the atmosphere of safety and love and warmth that I desired to have for myself, and as the defining elements I wanted my children to grow up with.

In my adult life, as I grew in relationship with God, he began to make me whole. What I thought that a family of my own and home would give me, He did. I have great thankfulness for home, and family, and all that means to me. However, I know even that is only fulfilling in the way it is because He is the center and author of it all.

A sweet moment in a sweet day. Thankful.
A sweet moment in a sweet day. Thankful.

My childhood story leaves out a lot, and is heavily edited, and that’s for the best.  Knowing where I come from will help you understand the passion I have for the life I live today. I love my life. I love HOME. I love the atmosphere of love and safety and stability and fun that is in our home. Our home isn’t perfect. There isn’t such a thing.   But, our home is warm and inviting and feels like HOME. My favorite place to be.

I homeschooled my older two children all the way through and survived.  One is a boy, y’all, and I count that among my greatest accomplishments. Now, I’m homeschooling just my youngest, who has Down syndrome. Even with Down syndrome, God continues to use all things for my good. My oldest (daughter, Jordan, 22) recently got married and my son (Evan, 20) lives at home and attends college.  I am so thankful for all the years we’ve had together at home, all the sweet memories we’ve made.  We are all now making adjustments and finding our new normal since Jordan no longer lives at home. It gets a little easier every day.

Brother, Evan, making sure of the scripture he is to read during the ceremony. They’ve grown from playmates to friends. I’m so thankful not only that I have them, but that they have each other.
The sweetest of sisters.
The sweetest of sisters.

Won’t you join in me in this blogging journey as we talk about home, family, faith and Down syndrome? I would so love it if you would.  I continue to learn something new every day. About myself, about God, about others. I hope you’ll interact with me. I think we can learn a lot from each other and I look forward to it.