Learning to Dance in the Rain

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Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain.  I stumbled across this saying a couple of years ago.  I’ve thought about it often when life’s challenges have me frustrated.   Will I ever learn to take my eyes off the storm? Is it really possible to learn to enjoy life when I’m in the middle of a storm?  A few months ago I bought a wall hanging with the saying on it.   It reminds that I need to enjoy life even in the midst of the challenges.  Even when it’s hard.  Even when things never seem to change.  Even when my heart wants it but my mind thinks it’s impossible.  I need to learn how to dance in the rain.

As I was sitting on the couch admiring my new piece of artwork I was reminded of a day from my childhood.  I was outside playing with my sisters.  It started raining and we ran to the shelter of the block barn that’s across from the house. Once we were safely under the shelter it started pouring. The rain was running down the metal roof and showering down upon the ground.  It was calling us to play in it.  So we did.  We laughed.  We danced.  We were having the time of our lives. And then it happened.

Mom came around the side of the house and yelled at us to come inside.  Really?  What’s the big deal about dancing in the rain?  We’re not fighting. We’re having fun.  We’re not pulling each others hair or scratching each other.   We’re actually being good.  And you want us to go in the house?  I just don’t get it.  Years later I brought up my memory of that day to my mom.  I told her I’d never understood why she ruined our fun that day. She filled me in on the detail that my childish mind failed to remember about that day.

Mom looked out the kitchen window and she saw her three little sweethearts dancing in the rain.  I’m sure she thought we were pretty cute.  But she came outside and ruined our fun because she could see something that we couldn’t see.  There was lightning behind the barn.  She made us come in the house because it was her job to keep us safe.  Dance in the rain unless Momma tells you not to.   Momma knows best.

It’s easy to dance in the rain when we’re a kid. We don’t have anything to worry about.  We don’t worry about the mud splashing up on our clothes. We don’t worry about the lightning.  We just dance because it’s fun.  But then we grow up.  We have bills to pay, food to cook, dishes to wash, and muddy clothes to spray and wash.  Life becomes complicated and downright hard.  If only this would happen then I could enjoy life. Or if only this hadn’t happened then I could enjoy life.

If I could only lose weight.  Then I would be happy.   

I am so sick of washing dishes.  Carol Brady was one lucky woman.  I wish I had an Alice around here to cook and clean for me. Then I wouldn’t have all this work to do.

I’ll enjoy life when my kids start acting right.

It would be easy to enjoy life if I didn’t have to deal with anxiety every day.  

I wish my house looked like her house.

I wish I had her life.  Must be nice.

I finally finished filling out the 65 pages of medical forms so that our girls can see a developmental pediatrician.  Parents of kids with special needs have so many more things to worry about (sigh).  Now I have a headache and I need to eat a bag of chocolate.

Why do our girls have to have sensory processing disorder?  The battle with the socks every morning is frustrating.  I wish they didn’t have to deal with so much stuff.   

I spend so much time every day answering the same questions over and over again.  It’s totally exhausting.

Life would be so much better if someone in this house could hear me when I’m talking to them.  (Then my husband says “Huh? What did you say?”And I roll my eyes and laugh because he’s just so stinking funny.)

I think all of us have times when we wish our life could be different.  But what if it’s never different?  Then what?  Do we just feel miserable and never enjoy our life?  I’m guilty of wanting my storms to just go away.  If it would quit raining then I could enjoy my life.  But what happens if it doesn’t rain? Things can’t grow without rain.  Like the dogwood trees that I love seeing bloom in the spring.  They wouldn’t grow if it never rained. The same is true for my life.  I won’t grow if my life is always easy and I never experience any rain or storms.  We grow during the storms.  We develop character during the storms.  We learn to never give up in the middle of a storm.   And our storms teach us to have compassion for people who are in the middle of their storm.

We had family over a few weeks ago to celebrate Mikayla and Hope’s 12th Birthday.  I was sitting in the living room with a few of our guests and the front door flew open.  Mikayla yelled “Mommy, Mommy.  Come outside.  It’s raining!!!!!”  We all laughed.  She was so excited.  You would’ve thought it was the first time she’d ever seen rain.  If you know Mikayla then you realize this was so much more than just a cute moment.  When Mikayla was little she was scared to death of rain.  If it started raining she would start crying and she wouldn’t let me out of her sight.  She would often go to sleep to escape the rain.  She did this for years.  But then all of a sudden in 2017 the front door flies open and my girl is now excited about rain. That storm in her life has passed.  And I’m thankful.

I jumped off the couch and I ran out the front door so fast that I forgot to put on my shoes.  Brett and the kids were flying a kite in the rain.  I stood barefoot on the front porch and I watched the kite for a few minutes.  Then I went back in the house to visit more with our family.  After everyone left I realized the mistake I’d made.  Why did I just stand on the porch and watch?  Why didn’t I grab some shoes and get out in the rain with my girls?  Am I ever going to learn to dance in the rain?  I missed that moment.  But hopefully I won’t miss the next one.

A few days ago I was tired and frustrated.  I was complaining about something and wishing that it would change.  My husband said “You just need to learn to dance in the rain.”  Well aren’t you cute.  I told him he was right.  Yes, I need to learn to dance in the rain.  I’m definitely a work in progress

When You’re Between Two Paintings

 

Two paintings hang on the wall in our living room.  Our oldest daughter, Taylor, painted both of these masterpieces.  She was only 6 years old when she painted the one on the left.  I can still remember her sweet face and how she beamed with pride as she showed me her very first painting.  She’d only been going to art class for 2 months.  I was amazed at what she was able to accomplish in such a short time.  Taylor was 19 when she completed the painting on the right.  She was all smiles as she turned it around for me to see.  My mouth dropped open and I squealed with delight.  I grabbed it out of her hands and I hung it on the wall in the living room.

One day as I was sitting on the couch admiring Taylor’s artwork I started thinking about all that had happened between those two paintings.  It took 13 years to get from the painting on the left to the painting on the right.  So many things happened that people will never see.  Taylor spent many hours learning how to paint and practicing over and over again.  She painted over mistakes that none of us will ever know about.  I drove her to class every week and I waited 2 hours for class to get over.  I wrote more checks than I can count.  And there’s dad who worked hard those 13 years to pay for the art classes.  And we can’t forget about Grandma.  Grandma took Taylor to art class for an entire year after Mikayla and Hope were born.  She didn’t want me to have the stress of packing them up and taking them with us.  Getting from one painting to the next painting cost our family something.  It wasn’t always easy.  But it was worth it.

In the last two months our family has been faced with two extremely difficult decisions.  We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights.  Anxiety wrapped itself around me and nearly choked me.  My sweet husband and I have had a lot of discussions (um….I mean fights) about what we should do.   I’ve consumed a lot of chocolate.  And finally we’ve found the answer to both situations.  The answer to the first decision is yes.  This yes came with a lot of questions, uncertainty, and fear attached to it. Our family will be going through a lot of changes because of this decision.  But even in the midst of fear we chose to say yes.  The answer to the second decision is no.  This no came with a lot of disappointment and heartbreak.  I wanted the answer to be yes.  I dug my heels in and I wasn’t going to change my mind.  Why can’t Brett see that the answer is yes?  It’s so obvious that the answer is yes. And then the day finally came when I heard God whisper the answer into my heart.  And His answer was no.   I was devastated.

Something happened to me once the decisions were made.  Even though I knew we’d made the right decisions I felt empty and hopeless.  I didn’t go to church for 3 weeks.  The process of walking through the decisions has been difficult.  I’ve had to give up something that I really wanted.  I’ve had to say yes to something that scares me out of my mind.  Life’s going to look different than I thought it would look.  As all of the disappointment and uncertainty were swirling around inside of me God reminded me of the paintings.

He said: You’re between two paintings.  This is the part that no one sees.  This is the part that costs something that no one will ever know about.  This is the part when you feel like your heart has been ripped out and yet you choose to go on.  Trust me during this time of disappointment.  Trust me when My plans look different than your plans.  You’re acting like this is the final painting in your story.  But it’s not.  You’re in the middle of your story.  I know the plans that I have for you.  And they are good.   

This moment with God gave me hope.  God can paint a better picture for my life than I could ever paint.  He’s taken the paintbrush and He’s painting over my mistakes.  He’s painting over the plans that I made.  He’s painting over the disappointment that makes my heart ache.  And I believe one day I will step back and look at His painting of my life.  And the no that broke my heart in 2017 will suddenly make sense.  Because I will see that His plan was better than my plan.  I will see that He painted things into my life story that I would’ve never thought to add.  I pray that if today you are feeling hopeless and disappointed that you will turn to the One who will give you hope.  If life doesn’t look anything like you want it to look turn to the One who is writing your story.  And trust Him.  Trust that His Word is true.   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 (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

 

Mikayla and Hope Go To Camp

It’s been an exciting summer.  Mikayla and Hope went to church camp for the first time.  My friend Joni asked if she could take them to camp.  The girls spent 3 days at camp and I spent 3 glorious days resting at home.  Thanks to several friends I have pictures of my girls at camp.  I don’t have any idea what to write about camp since I wasn’t there.  So Mikayla and Hope had to help me out.  So here’s what happened at camp through the eyes of Mikayla and Hope.

Mikayla:

Played games

Ate snacks

I got wet

The zip line was fast

The water slide splashed me in the eye

Ate grapes, watermelon, and strawberries

Hopey pushed me

I painted

Hopey:

I went on the water slide and the zip line.

I got points

I ate candy, crackers, oranges, grapes, and carrots

I eat the sandwich

I made a craft

I slept at their house (a.k.a  Joni’s house)

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When a Man Shares His Kite

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Hope was excited the minute that her feet hit the sand.  She’d spotted a kite flying in the sky.  Look Mommy a kite!  Daddy, Daddy I see a kite!  Taylor look!!! Brynna, Brynna I see a kite!  She didn’t care about the water or the waves.  All that mattered in that moment was the wind and that kite.  The man flying the kite approached Brett and said he’d noticed Hope’s excitement.   He asked if she would like to fly his kite for him.

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And then Mikayla took a turn.  DSC01408

I prefer to fade into the woodwork when we’re out in public.  But Mikayla & Hope almost always thrust us into the spotlight.  My introverted personality often feels quite uncomfortable while the spotlight is shining on us.  But something happened while we were at the beach.  When the spotlight followed us around we weren’t given judgmental looks.  We received compassion and understanding.  Our girls made people smile and laugh.

I was relaxing under the shade of my umbrella while the girls were playing in the water.  Mikayla ran up to me and said “I love you!”  I smiled and said “I love you too!”  She went back and put her feet back in the water.  A few minutes later she came back to me and said “I love you!”  I smiled again and said “I love you too!”  This routine went on for at least 10 minutes.  The woman sunbathing next to us abruptly sat up and said “I don’t know…..I don’t think she loves you enough!”  We laughed and talked about how the other twin didn’t seem to love me.

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One evening as we were walking back to the condo a man started a conversation with Brett.   He had been watching Brett holding both inner tubes while Mikayla & Hope floated in the waves.  He asked about their diagnosis.  He said his friend has a child with a similar diagnosis.  He told Brett he looked tired and he knew that he has his hands full caring for our girls.  As we neared our condo he told Brett that he would say a prayer for him.  Brett told him he appreciated the prayers.  We never saw the man again.

All of these people entered our life for only a moment.  The lady helped me find my way to a much-needed laugh.  The man who offered to pray brought new hope into our lives.  And when a man shares his kite it just makes the world a better place.

Learning To Laugh My Way Through The Crazy

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Our family just got back from Florida.  We had such a great time last year we decided to go back again this year.  We stayed in the same condo, went to the same beach, and did some of the same activities.  We had fun but this trip didn’t go as smoothly as last year.

On our first evening at the beach we watched dead fish float up on the shore.  We had heard the algae was bad and people were seeing dead fish the week before.  But we were hoping it would be better for our week of vacation.  This was definitely not what I had pictured happening on our first day at the beach.   None of us got in because it was just too gross.  The next day we went to a public beach.  The girls got in the water and had a great time.  But I was hoping we wouldn’t have to travel to public beaches all week.  On the third day the beach by our condo was clear and the girls were able to swim.  And I rejoiced.

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Last year the highlight of our trip was the dolphin cruise.  We saw 20 dolphins last year and we were excited about taking another cruise.  This year we saw 2 dolphins.  Only 2 dolphins?  I couldn’t believe it.  Apparently we were spoiled last year.  A crew member told us it’s really unusual to see 20 dolphins.  The girls still had fun because they got to feed fritos to the seagulls.

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As we set sail this year the captain announced that we would be traveling out into the Gulf.  We weren’t able to go into the Gulf the last time because the waves were too choppy.  The captain announced that if you started to feel queasy you needed to go to the back of the boat.  I don’t remember the nicely phrased words that he used. But basically he said to puke off the back of the boat where it won’t fly in someone’s face.  Because we don’t want your puke to ruin someone else’s good time.  Ok.  Now I’m feeling a bit uneasy.

Mikayla got really quiet just moments after we started this voyage into the Gulf.  Then she said “Don’t feel so good.”  Oh great!  So we rushed to the back of the boat and stood by the rail.  She told me she wanted to sit down.  We sat down on the nearest bench and I quickly noticed there was a trash can to our right.  Oh good.  If she starts to get sick I’m going to get her to that trash can.  Another one of my girls wasn’t feeling well either so she joined us at the back of the boat.  Then I started feeling queasy.   We were only 1 hour into this 2 hour cruise.  Suddenly a woman came running from the side of the boat.  She was holding a paper towel up to her face.  She ran over to the trash can and deposited her breakfast. She did it without getting any on her fellow passengers.  Good for her.   I spent the last hour of the cruise wishing I could abandon the ship.  Please don’t let any of us puke.  Please don’t let any of us puke. Please, please, oh please don’t let any of us puke.  And none of us did.   Half of our family didn’t want lunch when we docked.  Was that really the same ship that we had so much fun on last year?

The next day we went to the Gulfarium because Mikayla and Hope insisted that we go see the dolphins.  We went to the dolphin show as soon as we got there.  The doors opened at 9:30 and we came in at 9:36.  The only seats left were at the top.  We sat down and one of our little sweethearts started yelling “I can’t see! I can’t see!  I CAN’T SEE!!!!!”  They sat on the front row last year so they were expecting to sit on the front row again this year.  Brett remembered that last year people stood around the rails that surrounded the dolphin pool.  He thought the girls would be able to see better if we  moved down there.  The little sweetheart who couldn’t see was still not happy and continued to let us know.  It was extremely hot.  Sweat was running down our foreheads and our backs.  Our other little sweetheart started yelling “Fix my bra! Fix my bra! FIX MY BRA!!!!” Our girls are new to this whole wearing a bra thing.   I guess the sweat, the bra, and the sensory processing disorder all mixed together was driving her crazy.  And the other little sweetheart was still yelling that she couldn’t see.  People were staring. I felt totally overwhelmed.  My bottom lip started trembling.  The tears were starting to come but I was determined I wasn’t going to cry.  We’re here on vacation and I’m not going to cry.  The dolphin show started and the girls settled down.

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As soon as the show was over our sweetheart once again started yelling “Fix my bra! Fix my bra! FIX MY BRA!!!!” So I did what any overwhelmed, slightly embarrassed mom would do in the same situation.  I took my little sweetheart in the bathroom, peeled her bra off, and put it in my purse.  There.  Now we can enjoy the rest of our day.

I sent a message to my friend Evana.  I told her I was having moments when I wished we had never come to Florida.  She reminded me that even though it’s hard to go out and do things and battle the meltdowns we are giving our girls life experiences.  And that’s what’s really important.  She told me to try to laugh off the times that make me crazy.  That’s really easy to do when you go in a gift shop and your girls turn into a horse and a crow.

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Taylor decided she needed to experience parasailing.  Brett booked an early morning time for them to parasail while the rest us slept in.  It was  a really good plan because I didn’t want to see my husband and my daughter 500 feet in the air.   I’m funny that way.

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We had some fun and we had some trying moments.  I laughed some and I never cried.  Maybe I’m finally learning to laugh my way through the crazy.  I’m thankful for every memory made with these 4 girls who call me mom.

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You’ve Got A Friend In Me

It seemed like every other Sunday morning.  I was standing in line waiting to pick up the girls from their class.  I was wondering what we were going to eat for lunch. Should we stay home and rest after lunch? Or should we go visit grandma and grandpa?  My thoughts were suddenly interrupted as I noticed something beautiful was happening.  Hope was dancing, smiling, and giggling with a girl named Livvie.  That may not sound like a big deal.  But it was.  It was a dream come true.  For years I’ve sat and watched kids running and playing together.  Making friends seemed so natural and easy for them.  My heart ached for my  girls to have a friend.  Someone to dance with, laugh with, and share secrets with.  But it’s not been easy for Mikayla and Hope to make friends.  Their language disorder seemed to be a roadblock between them and the friends they deserved.  I’ve hoped that they would one day find a friend but wondered if it would ever happen.  Then suddenly on what seemed like an ordinary day the extraordinary happened.

Livvie’s mom asked if Mikayla and Hope could stay all night at their house one night during the week of vacation bible school.  I packed their bags for their very first sleepover at a friend’s house.  They went to the park and went swimming.  They had the time of their life.  I’m so glad that Livvie’s mom got some pictures of the girls.  The joy on their faces is priceless
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One night I decided to watch the girls while they were doing the games at VBS.  Mikayla was standing in line waiting to do the obstacle course.  And a girl named Katelyn was holding her hand.

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Katelyn continued to hold Mikayla’s hand and helped her through the obstacle course.  Katelyn was selfless and she didn’t worry about taking a turn by herself.  She took her turn with Mikayla.  I stood with tears in my eyes as I watched this young lady love my daughter so well.

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The next night of VBS they played soccer during the games.  Katelyn once again held Mikayla’s hand and helped her.  They ran together.  They laughed together.  And my heart was full as I saw the sweet smiles on their faces.  DSC01221

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Proverbs 13:12 says Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.  It was so hard to wait for years to see our girls make a friend. I often lost hope while I waited.  There were times when my heart felt sick.  But then suddenly God sent Livvie and Katelyn to fulfill my dream.  I can’t even put into words what it feels like to see our girls smiling with Livvie and Katelyn.  I shared on facebook about Hope dancing with Livvie.  And I found a mom who’s waiting for her daughter to find a friend. My heart aches for her because I know exactly how she feels.  I told her that we should meet at the park so that our girls can play together. Mikayla and Hope have another opportunity to make a new friend.  And I smile every time I think about it.                    

Therapeutic Riding: Help on Horseback

At the end of 2014 I began to search for a therapeutic riding program for Mikayla & Hope.  The only one I could find was an hour away from home.  I filled out the papers, got our doctor’s referral, and sent the papers back.  We were placed on a waiting list.  Spring, summer, and fall of 2015 all passed by without the girls getting to ride a horse.  I was so disappointed.  At the beginning of the year my cousin sent me papers for a therapeutic riding program that is only 30 minutes away from home.   I filled the papers out, sent them in, and then the call came.  2016 was the year we would see it happen.  The first 2 weeks were canceled because of rain.  But last Tuesday was the exciting day that I would finally see our girls ride a horse.

I didn’t tell the girls where we were going.  I told them to get in the van and we were going to a surprise.  When we pulled up to the arena Hope yelled “horse” with great enthusiasm.  I asked “Would you like to ride a horse?”  They yelled “yes” in unison.  They were so excited.  Hope has always been fascinated by white horses.  So I wasn’t surprised when a white horse immediately caught her eye.  She quickly announced “I wanna ride the white horse!”  The workers put a safety strap on Hope and had her ready to ride.  A brown horse was in front of her waiting to be mounted.  Marti, the lady in charge,  said “Hope is going to ride the white horse.”  They walked the brown horse away and brought the white horse up.  As Hope was mounting the white horse I knew that we were in a safe place.  A place where people will listen to our girls hearts.  A place where they will be loved unconditionally and accepted exactly as they are.

Hope was all smiles when she mounted the white horse named Babe.  Mikayla’s horse was named Angel.  Both of them started out leaning forward too much and seemed unsure about this new experience.

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But they quickly relaxed and had a great time.   The girls worked hard.  They held a pin wheel and shot baskets.

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And Hope lit up like a Christmas tree when she got to ride her horse backwards.  She thought that was the greatest thing ever.

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Mikayla didn’t ride backwards but she still had a great time.

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Every Tuesday evening from now until the end of September we will be at the horse arena.  And it’s because people are willing to take time out of their lives to love kids and make them smile.