Kids Say the Darndest Things

I could hear the sound of the school bus approaching.  This time of day is always an adventure.  What are the girls going to say about their school day? Will I only hear about the food they ate?  Or about what happened during recess? Or will they tell me something new and exciting? The girls slowly walked up to the porch.  I wasn’t prepared for what I heard.

Hope:  There’s hot dog buns in my backpack.

Mikayla:  I hurt my butt at school.

I laughed so hard I nearly fell off the bench I was sitting on.  I didn’t expect to hear either of those things.  When I finally composed myself I asked Mikayla what happened.  She said “I fell off the slide and landed in the weeds.  It hurt”  I told her I was sorry and asked if she was alright.  She said “I’m ok.”  So I moved on to Hope and asked her why she had hot dog buns in her backpack.  She didn’t know.  Sure enough there were hot dog buns in her backpack. I unzipped Mikayla’s backpack and found a loaf of bread.  What in the world?  I had a slight moment of panic.  The thought that perhaps my girls were kleptomaniacs was racing through my mind.  I took Mikayla’s folder out of her backpack and began to read about her day.  There was a note that said a local organization had donated the bread to send home with the kids.  I moved on to Hope’s folder and found a note from her aide explaining the hot dog buns were from the same organization.  That’s good to know.  The next time I find food in their backpacks I won’t panic.

All evening Mikayla complained about her butt hurting.  We were getting ready for bed and Hope looked over at Mikayla and said “The neck doctor fixed my neck.  The butt doctor can fix your butt!”  And then she giggled.  The girls clinical psychologist has labeled Hope as a slapstick comedienne. Yep.  That’s pretty accurate.  I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.  I had trouble falling asleep because I kept cracking up.  The next day we went out to celebrate Brynna’s birthday.  As we drove by a McDonald’s Mikayla said “Sprite makes my butt feel better.” Nice try, sister.  Now drink your water.  Laughter filled our van.  Maybe we have two slapstick comediennes on our hands.  Interesting.

On the Friday before Labor Day the girls were very anxious when they got home.  They were told there would be no school on Monday.  They kept asking over and over again “No school on Monday?  No school on Monday?”  Yes, there is no school on Monday.  When the girls get anxious they talk nonstop.  When the girls talk nonstop I get anxious.  After about 48 hours of listening to nonstop talking I was getting pretty edgy.  And I didn’t have any chocolate hidden in my closet.  This is not going to be good.  It was bedtime and Hope was going on and on about something.  I said “Hope, you have to stop talking!”  She looked at me with her little, sweet face and she said “I don’t want to stop talking.”  Then she continued what she was saying without missing a beat. Ok. That was obviously not my best parenting moment.  If I had consumed a little bit of chocolate my response probably would’ve been much better.

I can’t help but think about how far they’ve come.   Mikayla and Hope have expressive and receptive language disorder as well as language processing disorder.   I used to wonder if I would ever be able to have a conversation with them.  Or if they would ever talk in complete sentences.  And I’m now seeing both of those things happen.  Mikayla said “I hurt my butt at school.” Just a few years ago she would’ve said “hurt butt”.  Hope said “I don’t want to stop talking.”  Not long ago she would’ve said “don’t want to”.  There was a time when we were trying to get them to say three word sentences.  And on this beautiful, sunny day in 2017 my girls walk up to the front porch and say “There’s hot dog buns in my backpack.” and “I hurt my butt at school.”  Those are both huge sentences.  Years of speech therapy brought us to this day.  I’m not proud of the moment when I told Hope to stop talking.  But yet that moment makes me smile.  My girls can talk until they completely wear me out. And it’s a miracle.

Advertisements

School Days: The Hardest Decisions Can Be The Best Decisions

Mikayla and Hope went to our local public school for the first time last year.  The team of people who helped them was fantastic.  I was thrilled with the amount of independence the girls gained.  Yet I had this nagging feeling that our girls weren’t in the right school.   They didn’t go to P.E. class because all of us were afraid they would get hurt.  It was obvious they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the regular ed. kids in any of the sports they played.  They didn’t go to music class because it was mostly technical information and testing that they couldn’t understand.  The nagging feeling that our girls needed to be in a different school just wouldn’t go away.

Last February I sent an email to the girls speech therapist at school.  I told her I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the girls weren’t in the right school. She immediately contacted the special ed. coordinator.  Within 2 hours they had set up a meeting to discuss how we should proceed with next year.  I knew what was happening was going to be hard.  We live in a small rural community.  The only option other than our local public school was a school for kids with special needs that was nearly an hour away from our home.  I wasn’t sure how the girls would handle going to school that far away.  I wasn’t sure how I would handle them going to school that far away.

At the meeting we discussed the girls progress and what would be best for them for next year.  We talked about the new school and how they focus on life skills as well as academics.   The new school would give them opportunities that our local school simply could not give them.  They told me the decision was totally up to me and my husband.  They would help us however they could to make sure our girls get the education that is best for them. Brett and I talked a lot about what we should do.  We decided it was best to try the new school.  I went to the IEP meeting in April and the plans were made for the next school year.  Mikayla would be in the junior high classroom.  Hope would be in the intermediate classroom.  They felt it would be best to separate the girls to help alleviate the behavior problems.  It had been a tough year with them in the same classroom sharing an aide.  They were constantly irritating each other and competing with each other.  I was thrilled with the idea of putting them in different classrooms.  Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

August rolled around and I got nervous.  Really, really nervous.  I don’t know a single person at this school. It’s so far away.  Are the girls going to be able to handle a full day plus 2 hours of riding the bus?  This is going to be hard.  What if it doesn’t work out?  Then what do we do?

The first day of school finally arrived.  Mikayla and Hope were totally fine.  New school?  No big deal.  Let’s do this.

The girls were smiling when they got off the bus.   They didn’t tell me much about the day.  They basically told me what they ate for breakfast and lunch.  But they were happy and that was all that mattered.  This school year is going to be amazing.  They will be able to participate in P.E. class, school sports and Special Olympics.  It will be a whole new world for them.  It was definitely a hard decision for our family. But sometimes the hardest decisions can turn out to be the best decisions.  I’m confident this is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for Mikayla and Hope.

If You Don’t Like The Way Things Are


I don’t know why stuffed animals have to disappear at bedtime.  It drives me crazy.  Everything was going smoothly.  The girls had brushed their teeth and changed into their nightgowns.  And then it happened. Bomb was missing.  Our little sweetheart who sleeps with Bomb every night wasn’t happy. She asked “Where’s Bomb?”  I told her I didn’t know where he was but she needed to go look for him.  She got mad. She screamed and she stomped her foot.  I told her again to go look for him.  She just stood there and stared at me. So I said “If you want to sleep with Bomb you need to go look for him.  If you don’t like the way things are then you need to do something to change it.”  She reluctantly left the room to look for him.

Wow.  Did you hear what you just said?  If you don’t like the way things are then you need to do something to change it.  That’s good.  I need to write that down.    

Within a matter of minutes our little sweetheart came back in the room carrying Bomb.  I asked her “Did screaming and stomping your foot help you find Bomb?” She said no.  “Did you find him because you went and looked for him?”  She said yes.  I told her the next time she can’t find something she needs to look for it and skip the screaming and stomping.  I hope she remembers.

It’s hard to go to sleep when you realize you’re a hypocrite.  I’d just told my daughter that if she didn’t like the way things are then she needed to do something to change it.  But I wasn’t doing that in my own life. As I lay there wide awake I found myself thinking about a day at the beginning of 2017. I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. I was feeling hopeless and angry.  Nothing seemed to be going right. Everything seemed to be going wrong.  Struggle after struggle had piled on top of each other.   A few huge disappointments had been thrown into the mix.  I found myself drowning under the weight of it all.  This picture of my life wasn’t at all what I expected.  I started thinking about Jeremiah 29:11.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   At that moment I honestly didn’t feel like those words were true.  How is this situation going to prosper me?  How is this plan going to give me hope and a future? I felt the Lord speak to my heart “I know the plans I have for you.  My plans are different from your plans.  But I promise My plans for you are good.”  I would like to say that as I stood at the kitchen sink that day that I traded my plan in for God’s plan.  But I didn’t.

Instead I chose to let disappointment consume me and my emotions control me.  I cried way too many tears over things that I couldn’t change. Insomnia plagued me for months.  Anxiety reared its ugly head and started tormenting me once again. I could feel all of the hope being sucked out of my life.  I started doubting. I wasn’t sure if God was really good.  I felt like He didn’t love me.  Because if He loved me then something would be going right, wouldn’t it?  I became angry with God and my prayer life suffered.   It’s hard to talk to someone you’re mad at.  I found myself in a pit and I didn’t know how to get out of it.

And then Bomb disappeared and those words of truth came out of my mouth.  If you don’t like the way things are then you need to do something to change it.   I was miserable.  I didn’t like the way things were in my life.  But what could I do to change it?  The truth is that there was nothing I could do to change my situation.  I realized the only thing I could do was change was my attitude.

I had been driving through life expecting my plans to succeed.  Why wouldn’t God want these plans for me and my family? They were good plans.  But for whatever reason God put a road closed sign in my path.  I was stunned.  Why would He do that?  The best thing to do when you come to a road closed sign is to turn around and find a road that’s open.  But what did I do instead?  I grabbed the gear shift, put it in park, and planted myself in front of the road closed sign.  I didn’t move for months because I didn’t want to take a different road.  This was the road I wanted to be on.  As far as I was concerned there was no other road.  I chose to stay stuck in the middle of my grief and disappointment.  I looked exactly like my little sweetheart who didn’t want to go look for her stuffed animal.  We were both saying the same thing.  I don’t like this and I’m mad.  Don’t ask me to do anything to make it  better.  I’m just going to stand here and pout.

So after Bomb was found I decided it was time for me to start practicing what I was preaching.  It was time to stop camping out in front of a road closed sign.   I had to stop grieving what would’ve been and I needed to start focusing on what can still be.  So I made a choice.  I grabbed the gear shift, put it in reverse, turned around, and decided to see what other road God has for me.  And a funny thing happened.  I started sleeping again.  I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time letting my disappointment paralyze me.  But the good news is that I’m moving again.  And I’ll keep going.  I’ll trust that God will direct my path.  He’ll show me the road that He knows is best for me.  And I hope that if and when I encounter another road closed sign that I won’t stomp my foot, pout, and get mad because I don’t like it.  But instead I’ll thank Him for closing the roads that keep me from settling for less than His best for me.

Getting to the Top of the Mountain

This year we went to Chattanooga for our vacation.  I experienced a pretty massive panic attack at a cave on the first day.  You can read about it here. We left the cave and drove 4 hours to our hotel in Chattanooga.  We arrived at 11 p.m.  Brett went inside to check in.  15 minutes passed.  What in the world is taking so long?  He came out and said the hotel had canceled our reservations.  Really?  They had one room left if we wanted it.  Brett didn’t have a good feeling about the place.  But he took the room because it was late and he had 5 exhausted females he was trying to keep happy.  Bless his heart.

The room was awful.  I’ve always said I can stay anywhere for one night.  But this was pushing it. TripAdvisor had steered us wrong on this place.  I went down to the front desk and made one simple request.  My request was denied.  I was mad and the lady at the front desk knew I was mad. TripAdvisor will be getting a negative review from me about this place.  You can count on that.  We were supposed to stay for 2 nights.  There was no way I was staying 2 nights. I grabbed my iPad and I started searching for another hotel.  I found one just up the road that had rooms available. Brett called and made a reservation for the next night.  It can’t be worse than this place.  I was still awake at 2 a.m.

The next day we went to the Tennessee Aquarium.  Mikayla and Hope love animals so we knew it would be a fun place to take them.  As soon as we entered the building Brett noticed the sign beside the escalator.  You can’t use the escalator if you’re wearing crocs.  Great.  The girls have their crocs on since I accidentally brought 2 right tennis shoes for Hope.   We took them to the restroom and then we got on the elevator and headed to the 4th floor.

The girls were excited when they got to pet the stingrays.  We stayed for a long time since Mikayla and Hope were enjoying it so much.  Then we went to the 3rd floor.  We’d only been there for a few minutes when one of the girls yelled that she needed the bathroom.  We couldn’t find a restroom anywhere.  Brett asked an employee and she said there weren’t any restrooms on the 3rd floor.  We’d have to go to the 2nd or 4th floor. Back to the elevator we go.  Our girls go to the bathroom frequently.  When they’re in an unfamiliar place they get anxious and they go even more frequently.  It makes traveling a lot of fun.  At one point I had a little sweetheart crying on the 3rd floor and saying she was going to wet her pants.  I grabbed her and her croc covered feet and we jumped on the escalator.  There was no time for the elevator.  I’m normally a rule follower but during a bathroom emergency all rules can fly out the window.

We enjoyed the aquarium but we spent entirely too much time in the restroom.  Mikayla and Hope eventually started fighting with each other and it became very stressful.  Clearly it was time to leave.  We went to the gift shop so the girls could buy a souvenir.  It was taking forever for Mikayla and Hope to pick something out so Taylor and I decided to walk up the street and look at another gift shop.  When we were done I called Brett to tell him that we would meet him at the van.  He told me he was at the check out and the credit card was denied.  What?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  He asked me to bring some cash in so he could pay.  I paid the cashier while Brett was on the phone with the credit card company.  Then we went to the van.

The man from the credit card company told Brett that our credit card was deactivated because of a fraud attempt.  Brett was on hold forever while the man checked into why it was deactivated.  The more minutes that passed the more frustrated I became.   We’re not going to be able to pay for our hotel if our credit card is deactivated.  I totally flipped out and I told Brett we just needed to go home.  He agreed that we might have to.  Finally the man from the credit card company came back on the line.  The hotel from the night before had charged us 3 times for our room.  Now why doesn’t that surprise me?  They reactivated our card.  The man told Brett he needed to go back to the hotel and get it straightened out.  He said to call him back if they wouldn’t cooperate and he would take care of it for us.

Brett dropped us off at our new hotel.  I was scared to open the door.  What if this place is as bad as the last place?  We opened the door and I was relieved to find out that the place was very nice and super clean. Hallelujah! Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight.  Brett went and talked to the first hotel and they said it would be straightened out by morning.  I certainly hope so.  We were exhausted and didn’t feel like going out for supper.  Brett and Taylor ran and got milkshakes.  Yes.  I fed my kids milkshakes for supper.  And they liked it.  I collapsed into bed.   This was definitely not how I had pictured vacation.  I hope our trip tomorrow to Lookout Mountain will be relaxing and fun.

As soon as Brett opened his eyes the next morning he called the credit card company.  They told him the hotel had credited back the 2 charges that we didn’t owe.  Phew!  Glad that’s off our minds.  We ate breakfast and headed to Lookout Mountain.  It felt relaxing as we walked the trails.   It was a very hot day but Mikayla and Hope didn’t seem to mind the heat.

The view from the top of Lookout Mountain was amazing.  It was definitely the highlight of our vacation. We could see 7 states from the top of the mountain.  We could hear a waterfall.  There was relaxing music playing.  Mikayla and Hope were happy because they got to hug Rocky the Gnome. What more could we ask for?

We left the top of the mountain and continued our way along the trails.  I was feeling totally relaxed and happy.  It finally felt like we were on vacation. And then it happened.

We arrived at Fat Man Squeeze.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  I didn’t want to see another Fat Man’s anything on this trip.  First it was Fat Man’s Misery at Mammoth Cave.  And now this?  Good grief.  Can’t a claustrophobic woman catch a break while she’s on vacation?  They really need to warn people about these things before they buy a ticket.  I took a deep breath and away I went into Fat Man Squeeze.

Ok.  That wasn’t bad.  Fat Man Squeeze was a breeze compared to Fat Man’s Misery.   I didn’t sweat my clothes through and my heart never started racing.  I’d been to the top of the mountain and I’d conquered Fat Man Squeeze.  This 3rd day of vacation was pretty amazing.

We finished our tour and we all agreed we would love to visit again.  We drove back down the mountain and started looking for a place to eat lunch. And then suddenly one of our sweethearts got that look in her eye.  And I knew what was about to happen.  I grabbed the bucket and got it under her chin right before the vomit started flying out of her.  I might be the gal who packs 2 right shoes for her kid.  But I didn’t forget the puke buckets.

Something didn’t feel quite right.  Looks like my little sweetheart’s aim was a little off.  I could feel the vomit running down my hand and collecting under my wedding ring.  Ugh.  I suddenly was no longer hungry for lunch.  We pulled into the Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que restaurant parking lot, deposited our mountain sickness into a trash can, and then walked into the restaurant.  I convinced my stomach that it needed to let me eat something.  It was going to be a long ride home if I didn’t.  The food was amazing.  TripAdvisor had got this one right.  We finished our meals and started our trip home.

The trip home was uneventful until we were an hour from home.  And then the sweethearts started freaking out.   They were exhausted.  She knocked her french fries on the floor.  And then she knocked her hamburger on the floor.  And then there was a whole lot of screaming.  Are we ever going to get home? There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  I never want to go on vacation again.

I crawled into bed and I felt angry.  That was not the vacation that I’d hoped for.  I’d experienced the worst panic attack of my life.  Our hotel reservations had been cancelled.  Our credit card was deactivated.  And the minor issues of mismatched shoes, frequent restroom visits, elevators instead of escalators, and vomit weren’t fun either.  Overall our vacation was just really disappointing.  In my frustration I asked God “What was that vacation all about, anyway?  Why did all of those things happen? Why couldn’t our vacation be relaxing?”

He answered my prayer immediately.  He said If you’d given up and went home you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the mountain. Wow.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Thank you, God for wrapping up this vacation with a valuable life lesson.  2017 has been an extremely difficult year. We had to make several really tough decisions one right after another.  It’s been exhausting. I’ve had a few disappointments that were difficult to get through.  And I’ve been battling some physical issues in the midst of everything else. Sometimes it’s really hard to get out of bed and face the day. Honestly, there have been days when my family went to church and I stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve felt like giving up at least a million times.  So what does God do to teach me to be an overcomer?  He takes me to the top of a mountain.

This vacation wasn’t about relaxing.  This vacation was about learning to overcome some stuff.  The biggest thing I had to overcome was my this is too hard, let’s just go home attitude.  If my family had listened to me the Chattanooga vacation of 2017 would be remembered as the year that we gave up and went home. But it will be remembered as the year we made it to the top of the mountain.  I was talking to Taylor about our vacation after we got home.  I told her I was sorry it wasn’t the best vacation we’d ever had.  She said “It had its moments of not being easy.  But Lookout Mountain was worth it.”  I want to be like Taylor when I grow up.  The valleys of life make us appreciate the mountaintops more.

Next time I feel like giving up on life I’m pretty sure God will say: Remember Lookout Mountain?  If you’d given up and went home you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the mountain.  Don’t give up now either. This is the valley that you’re in right now.  You have to keep going if you want to get to the top of the mountain.  

Caves, Claustrophobia, and Courage

Chattanooga was our vacation destination this year.  We decided to stop at Mammoth Cave on the way to Chattanooga.  Our oldest daughter loves caves.  I don’t like caves but I love my daughter.  So I was happy to stop at the cave for her.  We parked and changed from our crocs and sandals into our tennis shoes.  I packed a pair of gray tennis shoes for Mikayla and a pair of bright yellow tennis shoes for Hope.  Taylor was helping Hope put her shoes on and discovered I’d made a terrible mistake.  I packed 2 right shoes for Hope.  That’s a twin mom problem I hadn’t anticipated happening on this trip.  Great.  Hope’s going to have to wear her crocs in the cave.  When your child has coordination disorder wearing crocs in a cave doesn’t sound like a good idea.  But we had no choice.  I was irritated because I’d made such a stupid mistake.

We read about the cave tours on the website and we decided to take the Historic tour.  We gathered under the pavilion and the ranger began to describe what the cave tour would be like.  He said we would be going through Fat Man’s Misery.  He looked around and said all of us could physically fit through Fat Man’s Misery.  It’s only in your mind if you can’t get through Fat Man’s Misery.  Fat Man’s Misery?  They didn’t say anything about Fat Man’s Misery on the website!  My husband was standing across the way looking at me.  I mouthed the words “I don’t wanna do this!”  He knew exactly why I didn’t want to do this.

I had a flashback to 1989.  Brett and I were walking some trails at a national forest.  We arrived at a place called Fat Man’s Squeeze.  I was 19 years old and weighed 114 lbs.  Fat Man’s Squeeze should be a breeze.  We started to make our way through Fat Man’s Squeeze and I quickly decided this was not a fun experience.  We were in the middle of a long line that suddenly stopped.  I was trapped in Fat Man’s Squeeze and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  My heart was racing and I was sweating profusely.  I turned around and looked at Brett.  The look of horror on my face signaled to him that something was wrong.   I’d just discovered that I’m claustrophobic.  He grabbed my hand and told me it was going to be ok.  The line finally started moving again. I survived Fat Man’s Squeeze but vowed I would never go through it again.  And I haven’t.

So here we are in 2017 and a nice ranger just told me I will be going through Fat Man’s Misery.  Fat Man’s Misery sounds a lot worse than Fat Man’s Squeeze.  This is not going to be fun.  The ranger continued to explain what we’d be seeing inside of the cave.  But my mind was racing.  Fat Man’s Misery.  Fat Man’s Misery.  I’m gonna have to go through Fat Man’s Misery?  I just really can’t believe this.  Why didn’t they tell me this before I bought a ticket?  Ok.  Pull yourself together.  You don’t want your girls to know you’re a chicken.  You can do this.

I had trouble enjoying the tour because the fear of Fat Man’s Misery was hanging over my head.  An hour into the tour we finally arrived at Fat Man’s Misery.  The line was moving much slower as people began to enter.  I started sweating profusely as I stood in the 52 degree temperature waiting for my turn to squeeze through the misery before me.  At home I’m freezing if the air conditioning is on 75.  Fear can do really weird things to a person.

I had the words to the hymn I Have Decided to Follow Jesus rolling around in my head.  I didn’t think the words “Though none go with me, still I will follow” fit this particular situation.  I was relieved that some were going with me and that I could follow them.  Sometimes it’s just not good to be by yourself.  And this was one of those times.  There was a man in front of me who was twice as big as I am.  If he can make it through this misery I can make it through this misery too.  God, thank you for putting him in front of me.  The words in the hymn also say  “No turning back.  No turning back” Ain’t that the truth.  I wanted more than anything to run the other direction.  I do not want to do this.  There’s no way out of this situation except through.  No turning back.  No turning back.  Help me Jesus.

With my heart racing and sweat dripping down my back I entered Fat Man’s Misery.  I grabbed Hope’s hand and my uncoordinated sweetheart wearing her crocs instead of her tennis shoes led me through.  We had to squeeze through tight places while also making sure we didn’t bump our heads.  There was one place that we had to climb up.  It was horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  Hope was my guide.  She was fearless.  She never let go of my hand.  We made it through Fat Man’s Misery.  The best part of the cave tour was the moment that I stepped from the 52 degree temperature back out into the 100 degree temperature.  I’ve never been so excited to see sunlight in my life.

As we walked back to the visitor’s center I made a decision.  I’ll never go back in a cave.  Ever.  If my family wants to visit a cave in the future I will sit in the visitor’s center and read a book.  I wish this cave story had a better ending.  I wish I could say that I was courageous and that I overcame my fear.  But I didn’t.  I went through Fat Man’s Misery simply because I had no other choice.  Sometimes life’s like that.  We get up and keep going because we simply have no other choice.  We often have to squeeze through some pretty tight places.  Places where we don’t want to be.  It isn’t always comfortable or fun.  But the good news is that we don’t have to do it alone.  I had a cute 12-year-old who reached out her hand and she took my hand. She helped me through the darkness.  I’m glad the darkness didn’t last forever.  At the end of the darkness there was light.  Glorious light that filled me with joy.  I could finally breathe again.  And it felt good.

Riding Bikes, Dreaming Bigger, and Changing the World

Last month I wrote a blog post about Mikayla and Hope riding their adaptive bikes to raise money for a special needs school in Kenya.  I’m so proud of our girls.  They often begged to ride their bikes.   They pedaled for hours and hours to help kids across the world that they will never meet. They never complained when they were tired and I told them to keep riding.  Just keep pedaling.  Just keep pedaling. And they would keep pedaling with a smile on their faces even when they were exhausted.

I had a certain amount in mind that I was hoping the girls would be able to raise for the Daisy School.  I announced the fundraiser on Facebook on April 29th.  At church the very next day people started giving me money to support the girls and their fundraiser.   I went home and I realized that I needed to dream bigger because it was only the first day of the fundraiser and we were already half way to the goal I had set.

As I was sitting in church on Mother’s Day I felt very strongly in my heart that I was supposed to believe that the girls would raise $1,000.  Believe for $1,000? Gulp.  That sounds impossible.  As I was leaving church I ran into a friend and  I told her that I felt like I was supposed to believe for $1000 for the kids in Kenya.  She said she would love to partner with me in prayer for $1000 for the Daisy School.

Something always happens when you decide to believe for something.  Discouragement.  It always has a way of trying to come in and take away your faith.  The week after I started believing for $1000 the donations stopped.  And I began to listen to the voice in my head that kept saying “It was crazy for me to believe for $1000.  We’ll never get there.  No way.  It’s not gonna happen.”

We went through a dry spell but eventually the donations started coming in again.  We were 10 days away from the end of the fundraiser and the girls had raised $750.  We’re $250 away from our goal.  Is this really going to happen?  I would go out to the mailbox and find a check.  The doorbell would ring and when I answered the door someone would hand me money. Yes, it’s really going to happen.  Mikayla and Hope are going to raise $1000.  Just a few days before the fundraiser was to end a car pulled up in our driveway.  3 donations came in from 3 ladies and we had suddenly reached our goal. Actually, we had not only reached our goal but we had exceeded it.  Above and beyond what we were hoping for.  That’s how God works.  He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above what we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).  But God still wasn’t done yet.  More donations came in and we ended the fundraiser with $1,200.

I believe that God had a lot of things in mind when He put the idea in my heart to have a fundraiser for the Daisy School.  Obviously, He wanted the Daisy School to receive funds to help their school prosper.   I believe He wanted to show the world what a generous group of people can do to help kids across the world.  He taught me that I need to dream bigger dreams.  As I watched my girls pedal day after day He taught me what perseverance looks like.  Perhaps the best thing this experience did for my mom heart was to see what my girls can do.  They can change another child’s life by pedaling their bikes.  As a special needs mom I daily face the things that my girls can’t do.  Sometimes it’s really hard to accept why so many things are hard for them.   I’ve found myself crying in the middle of the night more than once lately.  They weren’t tears of sadness but rather tears of joy.  Joy that my girls have found something that they’re good at.  Joy that God showed us a way to use what they’re good at to help other kids who have special needs. Joy that God can do amazing things through our girls even though they don’t fully understand why they’ve been riding their bicycles so much.

The team from our church has arrived in Kenya.  They will be visiting the Daisy School and they will personally deliver the money that the girls raised. And I’m anxiously sitting here in America waiting for my friend Mona to post pictures on Facebook of the kids at the Daisy School.  It’s amazing what God can do with two little girls, a couple of bikes, and a lot of generous people.

One day as Hope was riding her bike she took a corner too fast and her bike flipped over.  Her feet were strapped to the pedals and she was wearing a seat belt.  She lay there helpless waiting for me to come and unfasten her so she could stand up.  I smiled as I unfastened her feet from the pedals. This helpless little girl of mine who’s all tangled up in her bicycle is changing the world.  This little girl who goes too fast,  falls down, and gets back up again is changing the world.  And her twin sister who doesn’t ride as fast or fall as much is also changing the world.  All of us can change the world.   My friend changed the world by praying for Mikayla and Hope to reach their goal of $1000.  Many people changed the world when they gave money towards the Daisy School fundraiser.  Some people change the world by being a missionary in Kenya.  And sometimes little girls who have special needs change the world by simply riding their bicycles and sending $1,200 to Kenya.

Pedaling to Change the World

On a Wednesday night last fall my life changed.  I wasn’t planning on going to church that night.  I had a really bad headache so I had decided to stay home.  But then my friend, Mona, posted on Facebook that she was speaking during the service.  She mentioned her topic for the evening and it was something that I was struggling with.  So I took some pain medicine, got the girls ready, and we went to church.

Mona started the service by showing slides from her recent mission trip to Kakemega, Kenya.  She had visited a school for kids with special needs that was called the Daisy School.  As I watched each picture flash across the screen something happened to me.  I started crying.  That might not sound like a big deal.  But it was.  At the time I was battling the worst anxiety of my life.  I couldn’t seem to feel anything anymore and I hadn’t been able to cry. Before anxiety invaded my life I cried very easily.  But I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d cried.  As I saw the pictures of the kids from the Daisy School the tears came like a flood.

I was overwhelmed with emotion.  These kids don’t have much of anything.  I began to realize how much my family has.  Yes, two of our girls have special needs.  And it can be really, really hard at times.  But as I looked at these pictures I realized that I don’t even begin to know what hard is.  I was suddenly faced with the realization that my husband and I can give our girls everything that they need.   And one of the reasons we are able to do that may be just simply because we were born in the United States and we are able to raise our family here.  But what if we were in Kenya?  What if we couldn’t take care of our girls?  That’s a kind of hard that my mind can’t even comprehend.

Mona moved on from the Daisy School presentation into the topic she was speaking on for the evening.   I don’t remember what she talked about because I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daisy School.  I went home and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daisy School.  I’ve never had a desire to go on a mission trip.  And I still don’t have any desire to go on a mission trip.  But as I sat in church on this night in 2016 God dropped a desire in my heart to help the Daisy School.  I didn’t know how we were going to do it but I believed that God would show me.

At the end of April I still didn’t know what we were supposed to do to raise money for the Daisy School.  Mona was planning her trip to Kenya and I asked her when she would be leaving.  She said June 19th.  June 19th!  That’s less than 2 months away.  We’re running out of time!  I googled fundraiser ideas and nothing felt right.  I began to panic because I only had the month of May left to do anything.  And suddenly the answer came.

I woke up on April 26th at 3:00 in the morning with a thought.  Use the bicycles your girls were blessed with to bless others.   I believe it was God speaking to me.  I had racked my brain for months trying to figure out what to do.  But then in the still of the night the answer came.

Last spring a wonderful organization gave Mikayla and Hope adaptive bicycles. Our girls were 11 years old and I’d never seen them ride a bicycle. Along came these amazing people who gave them bikes free of charge.  My dream to see my girls ride a bike was fulfilled.  And it was because someone saw a need and did something about it.  And now I saw a need in Kenya and I needed to do something about it.

On April 29th I posted on Facebook that Mikayla and Hope were having a fundraiser to bless the Daisy School.  For a $5 donation the girls will ride their bikes for 15 minutes. We made a commitment that they would ride their bikes every day in May.  The very next day at church 4 people gave me donations.  I began to find checks in my mailbox.  And I realized that God was doing something really special.  And He had chosen my girls to be a part of something really big.

Mikayla has pedaled every single day in May.  Hope missed 2 days because she came down with a stomach virus.  I couldn’t be more proud of my girls. Hope was always exhausted after a day of school and a long bus ride home but she still rode her bike for at least 15 minutes.  She even rode on the night that she had torn her pants and scraped her knee up at school.  Most days Mikayla rode for 30 minutes and sometimes for as much as 45 minutes.  We have 9 more days until the fundraiser is over.  On June 1st I will announce how much money will be going to the Daisy School.  I’m excited about what God has done and what He will do in this final week of our fundraising efforts.

I’m thankful for this opportunity to touch Kenya even though our family can’t physically go there. I’m thankful for people like Mona who have a heart to go to other nations and love others like Jesus loves.  I’m thankful for everyone who has given me a donation and shared in this vision of helping the Daisy School.  And I’m thankful that on that night in 2016 I didn’t let a headache stop me from going to church.  God had a plan for our family and the Daisy School.  I’m humbled to be a part of what He’s doing in Kenya.  And I’m blessed to daily watch our girls pedaling to change the world.