Monday, December 15, 2014

You can make good happen...

Make good happen.

A simple phrase, but when done, can make a huge difference.

I was contacted by WCCO to see if I was interested in coming in to film a commercial.  Umm, okay, not quite sure what I was signing up for...but if it had to do with sharing the mission of Jack's baskets and celebrating people with Down syndrome, sign me up!

The PSA is to feature people in the state of MN making good happen.  I was humbled to be asked and honestly felt incredibly uncomfortable looking at the camera and saying, "I make good happen."  Why didn't they film the part that said, "You can make good happen!"   The amazing things that have happened with the baskets is because of the love and support we have received from our family and friends, which has allowed us the time, effort, motivation, and determination to make a change!  So...YOU have made good happen!

If you have ever experienced an event where you have seen community come alongside people in whatever their situation or circumstance, you know the amazing ways people give.

Give.  I'm not specifically talking of giving money.  Giving of a person's gift.  Their talent, their strengths, their time, their prayers, wisdom, and their stories.

When we gave birth to our oldest son, Luke, meals were dropped off at our door at least two nights a week.  We couldn't believe it.  People knew that when a new baby was in the house a prepared meal, let alone a shower, was never going to happen.

I will never forget the visit I got from Tracy after Jack was born.  A mama that knew exactly how I was feeling and listened to all my fears and questions.  I really think one of the reasons Jack loves people is because the first three months of his life he was being passed from guest to guest as they filed in the front door daily.  I will never forget the love from our community.  You were the hands and feet of Christ.

When we had a miscarriage in June, a college friend I hadn't seen in years called me and shared her experience and how she knew how I was feeling.  After I blogged about losing this precious baby, I got tons of messages from women that had experienced the same pain I was going through.  Thank you for sharing your stories and helping me find hope in such a dark time.

I remember after years in recovery from alcoholism, my dad offering his time to meet with someone that was trying to complete their first steps in the program.  People would call our house and my mom would listen to their stories and offer words of encouragement.  My parents would meet with other couples that were walking the same path as them.

After experiencing days in the NICU with her premie son many years ago, a high school friend reached out to me and asked if she could make hats for the baskets and share in the joy of celebrating these babies.  My inbox and mailbox continues to be filled with donated items for the baskets.  You are making good happen.

Opal Services, a company that strives to make a positive environment for people with intellectual disabilities, contacted me last month to say that they had chose Jack's Baskets as their organization to give their fundraising funds from their company's annual basket event that happened this past weekend.  I got an email this morning that they had a check for $1,300.  They are helping change families stories.  

A college roommate emailed me and told me that her daughter's 6th birthday is coming up and wrote that her daughter said she didn't need gifts but wanted to help others.  She reached out to me asking if we could put together something where they could help with the baskets instead of doing gifts.  What an impact my friend is making on her daughter and those around her.

Whatever your gift, don't hold back.  It might be the encouragement and strength someone needs that day.  A phone call, a hand written letter, a gift card, a quick visit, a handmade item, a meal (homemade or is good either way ;)), a hug, affirmation of a job well done, an ear to listen.  Maybe your gift is to speak up for those that can not speak.  Advocating for those that don't have the resources that you have, giving them a voice.  Making people aware of their circumstance.  You were made to make good happen.

My homegirls and I just had our 6th annual favorite things Christmas party and one of the gifts we were given was a book named You and Me Forever.  It's a book on marriage.  But the profit of the book goes to get women in South Africa out of sex trafficking.  You can find the video here.

Last night our family was able to be a part of an amazing event called Adopt a Family that has been a tradition for the hockey program that my husband now coaches.  We walked into a garage that was filled with presents that the hockey team had gone out and purchased gifts for a specific family in need.  The boys had wrapped gifts for the three young boys and the items were donated by those that live in the community and the booster program. Here is a picture of the gifts.

Along with seeing all of these gifts, one of the seniors handed a check to me saying they also wanted to help support Jack's baskets.  I was in tears.  11 families will receive baskets and will be impacted by this generous donation.   

After packing the gifts in the cars, the hockey team went over to surprise the family.  Three boys and their mother received the Christmas they never thought was going to happen this year.  After a tough year, no money for necessities.  The oldest son didn't have boots that fit him and in MN they are a necessity! Along with boots, they got bikes, legos, PS2, and many more items boys love.  It was pure joy watching this family open gifts that were only wishes.  

Those that organized this event gave their time, energy, and effort and I can only imagine that they left with much more joy than the boys opening their presents.  

You can make good happen.  What will you do?  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our thankful video...

A little over a month ago, many people around the world did not know our story and many like ours.  They didn't know that yes, in 2014, the diagnosis of Down syndrome is still being delivered in an insensitive manner, many families are leaving the hospital without a congratulations, and babies are not celebrated.  But now they do...and I am so thankful for the ways it was featured in the following God be the glory!

1st story on WCCO.  This is where it all grateful!

Follow up story on WCCO.  Watch us filling the baskets and your amazing donations!

Sunday's Pioneer Press. This article was so well written and I loved it!

ABC news article. What a great conversation I had with this writer and it shares how one family felt receiving a basket!

Also, Yahoo news, international daily news, our alma mater's paper, and my hometown paper shared our mission!

A little over a month ago, I didn't know many of your stories.  My inbox has been filled with stories of the amazing ways people with Down syndrome have positively affected them!  I so wish I could personally respond to each of your emails...I'm working on it, but it's up over 200 emails!  I do read them...I just have a hard time responding in a quick reply, so I am slowly trying to get to them all!  

A little over a month ago, I had no idea the response we would get to the baskets!!  Over 150 baskets are funded from all over the US!  Today, we received a check for $800 from some very close friends and tears streamed down our faces, humbled by the generosity, the way people give so freely, the amazing response and love...we can not thank you enough!  YOU are helping us CELEBRATE BABIES!!

I did not know the feeling I would get after getting a chance to personally meet three families that received a basket.  In the past month, 11 babies with Down syndrome (5 in the TC) have been born and celebrated! Two weeks ago, I delivered a basket to a mom that got her son's diagnosis at birth.  I walked into her room, hugged and listened to her, answered her questions, and as I was about to leave I couldn't help but see her gaze at her son with hope.  Hope that her son will change her life for the better.  I promised her that.  I left that hospital sharing with others...I LOVE DELIVERING THESE BASKETS!

Over the past month, I got numerous messages inquiring about how to get this started in other areas in the US.  Emails of people ACTING...and doing this in their area and those wanting to!  What if every baby in the US was celebrated!? PRAISE GOD!!  We have mailed baskets out to those that have requested...states include MI, WV, CT, IL, OH, and NC and we are more than happy to do so!  MAKING A CHANGE!!  

A few of us from the Gigi's medical outreach committee and a few other families gathered and assembled 30 baskets so they are ready for the families.  There are five people delivering baskets to the Twin Cities birth centers.  All the birth centers in the TC!!!  Do you know that this was a dream of mine...I wrote about it here in a blog post.  A dream...and you helped it become a reality!  THANK YOU!!  We will be assembling more baskets in February with my MOPS group and also in September at the first annual DSDN conference.

I recently had a meeting with the community outreach coordinator for a hospital group, two genetic counselors, and the head nurse to give a family's perspective, information about Jack's baskets, and helpful resources including ways to deliver a diagnosis and connecting new parents.  Two more meetings are on the schedule with other hospitals...CAN I TELL YOU HOW THANKFUL I AM FOR THIS???  Wow, thankful, thankful, thankful!!  

A little over a month ago....we found out we were pregnant!  We are beyond excited about this precious new life...which I could write so much more about...which I will save for another blog post, but we are anticipating the arrival of this beautiful baby in June.  (This would be my excuse for not blogging in the past month as I have been extremely nauseous and exhausted and going to bed as early as possible!  I am very thankful for each of these symptoms knowing the reality is that my baby is growing and my body is responding)

photo by Vick photography

To close out this post...I want to share with you something that I will forever cherish.  Our thankful video.  Hear what we are thankful for and what we have learned in the past 19 months.  This is our heart and I am grateful to our church for putting it together.  I hope your thanksgiving was filled with a chance to reflect on the blessings you have been given, the hardships and heartache that has caused growth, and the joy that comes when you surrender your plans for His.

Our thankful the link below...Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Because of YOU...

Because of YOU...(those that have watched and shared the WCCO story)

more people are aware of how a diagnosis of Down syndrome is often delivered, that many families leave the hospital without a congratulations, and babies are not celebrated...and it's time it CHANGES! You shared with others that EVERY child should be celebrated!  Thank you.  Over 17,000 times it has been shared on FB and viewed over 307,000 on Yahoo.  This morning, in Colorado and Tennessee, two people heard about Jack's baskets on KLOVE.  I have been contacted by Baby Center and Twin Cities Mom Blog to share more about what Jack means to us and the mission of the baskets.  To God be the glory!

Because of YOU...(those that have monetarily donated or given your gifts) 

more than a 100 families will be presented with gifts, encouragement, and resources included in Jack's baskets!  From coast to coast... Hawaii, Texas, New York, California to name a gave to a mission that will change lives!  Thank you!  You are changing families' stories.

Because of YOU...(mamas and papas that raise children with Ds)

I am encouraged by your stories.  Thank you for sharing your love for your child, what your child has taught you, and how you didn't allow society's views effect how you raised your child.  I received over 100 emails from people across the nation.  You have paved the way for us to have resources so readily available to us.  Your hard work and determination is not overlooked.  I value it so much and I know many other young parents do too.  Also, thank you for sharing the painful moments you have experienced.  Things are going to change.

Because of YOU...(Liz and Tom from WCCO)

the world got a glimpse of our lives with Jack.  They saw the joy he brings to us daily, the amazing love we have for him, and the need for things to change.  You shared our story, but it was a story much bigger than ours.  It was story of many others, it was a story about all our children with Down syndrome.  They are precious, they are loved, they are to be celebrated.  The way you expressed the mission and the heart of who we are, the way you zoomed in on Jack's eyes, you had the world in tears.  Thank you, you have no idea what this means to people with Down syndrome and their families.

Because of YOU...(my family and friends)

I have felt the love and support, which led me to be courageous to share our story.  To have tough conversations, to ask questions, and to get stuff done.  Thank you for empowering me with your encouragement, your prayers, and your love for my child.  I can not thank you enough for who each of you are in our lives and what you have taught us.  Thank you, thank you.

Because of YOU...(my Savior)

I get out of bed everyday.  To live out the purpose You have for me.  Thank You for constantly guiding me, giving me discernment, and strength to keep pushing.  And because of YOU, I have the gift of life, and to watch these amazing people around me grow and teach me more about Your love.  You give me much more than I deserve and without You, I am loss.

Monday, October 6, 2014

18 months...Stay tuned to WCCO TV!

Wow, what a month it has been!  
Where do I even begin to update you on the amazing month we have had!?!?!  Here's a quick get's ALL good!

Here are few of my favorite pictures of our latest adventures!

With Jack crawling now we are definitely having to work on both boys' ability to share and play gentle with each other.  And...let's keep it real...they love to bite each other.  Come on boys.  Teeth are for eating, not biting.  Ugh.  Seeing the boys in their swimming gear makes me miss warm temps!  We got this water table out after I realized that Jack would stand and splash for 10 minutes!  Seeing him upright and loving life was so exciting!  

Jack went for a routine check up at the Down syndrome clinic at Children's where they review his progress.  She said he looked great and asked to see him in a year! 

IGGJack.  Ahh, yeah...we like to have fun!

Jack loves feeding himself and I finally caught him giving us this look...
"Are you serious Mom, another picture?" 

Jack is learning sign language and here is a video of him saying the word more.  He sure does love food! :) 
We go to speech therapy twice a month and I love to see all the fun things he is learning and communicating.  He loves to imitate expressions and is very interactive.  He enjoys clapping and singing but his favorite is dancing!
Jack just went to the eye doctor today and they said his eyes look great!  No cute glasses.  We will follow up annually.  I swear he loves charming nurses! :)  

At the end of September we went to the Step Up for Down syndrome walk in Como park.  It's like a huge family reunion and I love getting a chance to see so many others rocking this extra chromosome.  October is Down syndrome awareness month and a great opportunity to share how amazing people with Down syndrome are.  

Did you know that I teach in a building where there are 5 parents with a child with Down syndrome!  Talk about an amazing group of people!  

 Carrie and Jack. 
Carrie's sweet daughter, Gracie, always reminds us she is watching over us on special days like this, as she passed away at 18 months old.  Carrie and her husband recently adopted their sweet Olivia in June and she has an extra special chromosome.  They walked in honor of both their daughters.  Livy & Grace.  

Jack and his buddy Drew!  I love that boy and his family! 

Jack goes to my friend's (and coworker) house twice a week while I am working.  I love getting updates and pictures of Jack playing with her youngest son and another friend with an extra special chromosome.  They sing, dance, play, go for walks, and work on many skills.  Having him go to daycare there is such a blessing!  She has a son with Ds and she tells me often how Jack reminds her of her 8 year old.  She is the mom my doctor called the morning after Jack was born.  You can read about that blog entry here.  Isn't God's plan amazing?!?  

We are all about fall and one of our favorite things is going to watch our alma mater's amazing football team!  This past weekend was homecoming and it was great to see classmates and a great game!  

Best part of my day is singing and giving my boys their blessing at bedtime.  Tears.  

One morning Chris text me this picture at work.  I just about screamed!  He pulled himself up!  We have been working hard on this.  He went from kneeling, to one leg up, to STANDING!! WOOP, WOOP. 

Some very exciting news...Gigi's playhouse is excited to partner with us to get Jack's baskets in all 15 birth centers in the Twin Cities!  WOW!! We are hopeful that each family will start their new path off with a gift, encouragement, and resources!  The Gigi's medical outreach team, including DSDN, is working hard to get the baskets together so we can get them to the hospitals!  With the partnership with Gigi's Playhouse-TC the baskets can be tax deductible!  

 If you are interested in donating, please click the yellow DONATE button at the bottom of the page.  We can not thank you enough for your support.

On October 1st, we celebrated 8 years of marriage.  I can not express in words my love for my husband.  Here was my post on our anniversary...
Chris and I celebrate how great our God is! 8 years ago we committed our lives together in marriage and sang this song in a chapel filled with people that love and support us. We are beyond blessed and I am so grateful for my husband. It's you and me against the world. How great is our God.

That morning, we prepared for a visit from WCCO as they are doing a story on our lives with Jack.  Stay tuned to WCCO TV on Monday, October 20th at's going to be a good one.  EEK!  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Let's do this better. Speaking at the hospital.

September 8th.  I've had this date starred on the calendar for over six months. *Speaking at the hospital*

I had the unique opportunity to go back to the hospital where I delivered Jack (and Luke).  I got a chance to give a family's perspective on what it's like to get a diagnosis of Down syndrome at birth.  This came about during a conversation I was having with a contact in the maternity ward.  Thank you friend, for listening and answering my countless questions.  You are helping change families' stories and I am grateful for the work you put in to make this happen.

As I drove to the hospital I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.  I even rehearsed what I was going to say and then the tears came.  They streamed down my face as I recalled how the delivery went.  How I still imagine Chris sitting in the room (alone) as the nurse practitioner came in and handed Jack to Chris and said, "Are you aware of Trisomy 21?"  Then proceeded to share her suspicions and before departing the room, "Well, just enjoy your baby."

The tears do not come because Jack has Down syndrome.  The tears come because of how the diagnosis was delivered and how the story of our lives with Jack starts.  Over the past 17 months, I have met many, many, many families that also have been told the unexpected news in such a heartbreaking way.

I shared our experience to a room filled with nurses.  Introducing myself and our family, showing pictures of the precious moments we have had.  I acknowledged that I know they are not the ones that deliver the diagnosis, but they have a huge impact on the first interactions that families have after they hear the unexpected news.  Including our own birth story, I shared examples of how the diagnosis was delivered to give them background of what families are experiencing.  Here is one of the birth stories I shared...

"After the final push and my daughter entered the world, she was carried to the warmer and the nurse practitioner yelled, "This baby has Down syndrome, get her to the NICU immediately." 

That is how she found out the news.  She later explained to me that they were treated like they had the plague for the remainder of their stay in the hospital.

 Unfortunately, this is all too common among families and we find we bond over the experience.  Can you imagine this being your birth story?  What emotional state would you be in?  How much of this experience affects the ability to accept their child and this new journey?

I continued sharing that even though the diagnosis was delivered to us in such a traumatic way, we had a few significant people that came in shortly after Jack's birth and helped us take our first few steps on this new path.  Because of these nurses, the love and prayers from our family and friends, along with the deep longing to change families' experiences, I accepted the opportunity to share our story at a staff meeting at the hospital.

Two nurses played a huge impact in our story.

A nurse came in and said, "Look at your beautiful baby!"  That moment CHANGED MY LIFE.  Her comment helped me believe, that yes, he is a beautiful baby.  She helped me remember what I prayed for each day of my pregnancy, a fearfully and wonderfully made child.  Jack, you are an answer to prayer, my beautiful baby.  I will never forget that day when she came in and doted over our son.

Another nurse came in and pulled up a chair and stayed after her shift was over.  She loved on Jack and treated us like any other family.  This helped me realize that people (other than our family and friends) would accept our child.  She helped us celebrate his birth.  That he is precious.  She came in with this adorable hat and said she specifically grabbed it for Jack.

I told them that I understood that the reaction to the diagnosis can vary from family to family.  That many times the room will be filled with tears, silence, and worry about the future.  I mentioned that I have met a wide spectrum of families and their responses have included ideas of considering putting their child up for adoption, to families that took only a few days to adjust to the news.  I assured them that I have NEVER met a family that wished they would have never had their child.  Our children are cherished, loved, and adored like every child born. That our kids bring so much joy to our lives and help us see life in a much more beautiful way.  

I showed them this picture that was taken by my dear friend after Jack's birth...

Each family comes to a point, whether weeks or months, where they gaze upon their child in amazement of who they are and wouldn't change their child if they could.  

I asked them if they would consider creating the environment that made families reflect on their time in the hospital and say, "Wow, they knew something before we did.  That our child would change our lives for the better."  I asked them to go outside their comfort level and love on these families who may be fragile, in shock, fearful, and filled with tears.  Help them see what they will soon come to see when they fall in love with their child.  When their baby steals their heart, smiles, coos, and they come to realize they have been given one of life's best gifts.  I promise you, the family will never forget your response.  You have the influence of starting this beautiful journey with a positive message, their child is to be celebrated like any other child.  

I encouraged them that if they didn't feel comfortable with what to say to the parents, go over to the baby and say something to the baby.  "You are precious." 

Tell them our story.  

Tell them to connect with other parents...not therapists, teachers, or to actual parents as they know what it's really like to have a child with Down syndrome.  

Let's do this better.  

I know we can do this better.  When I say "we" I shared that I feel it's important for us families to follow up with the hospitals.  To let them know that if we had a chance to change our child, we wouldn't.  How can we blame the hospital staff if the only experience they have with us are when we are crying and filled with sadness?  They don't get a chance to see when we can't stop giving our sweet child kisses, cuddling them to sleep, living our lives, being their biggest fan, and beaming with pride at their accomplishments.  

At the end of my time, I asked if any of the nurses had questions.  One of the NICU nurses asked for my advice on a situation that she has encountered.  This reminds me that our work is far from done...

"What if a child comes into the NICU for a short period of time and the doctor doing rounds knows that the child has Down syndrome and doesn't diagnosis the baby when we all know it's evident?"  She explained that the doctor told her that the family can go to the first or second appointment (1 or 2 weeks later) and get the diagnosis then.  

I was speechless.  I even had to have her tell me the scenario again.  Are you kidding me?  A doctor has suspicions and doesn't say anything to the family?  What if there were other health issues that need attention?  What if the parents opted out of an  ultrasound during pregnancy and there is a heart condition and you just sent the baby home?  I couldn't believe it.  This doctor didn't want to have a difficult conversation.  Sounds like he was just punching his time card, only to dismiss that these families are people.  Or even worse, looking at this baby like a medical text book.  

Let's just say I didn't even make it out of the parking lot before calling Jack's pediatrician so he could help me understand how this could happen.  How can we reach the doctors?  How can we spread the word about how amazing our children are, how to properly deliver a diagnosis, and how we can bridge the gap between the medical community and families loving their lives raising children with Down syndrome.  

I read them the letter I wrote and put in Jack's basket and shared my desire for each child to be celebrated and family to be congratulated.  I revealed to them that I had heard from a family that received one of the baskets and that they said the basket meant the world to them.  The family also expressed that it was the only congratulations they received while they were in this hospital.  It was so heartbreaking to hear this and so motivating to me to get more of Jack's baskets and stories in the hospitals.  I am excited about the upcoming meeting with Gigi's medical outreach committee and Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network later this month.    

Overall this experience was so amazing and provided healing to our experience.  It will change families' stories.  The nurses were so receptive to the message and I believe they all desire to do better.   

Our work is far from over...and I can't wait to continue to speak up about changing families' stories.  

Jack, you are changing the world and I couldn't be more proud to be your mama.  Let's do this better.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Milestones & Milemarkers


Jack army crawling at 15 months

I am proud of Jack...I know he simply works harder to accomplish things than if he didn't have an extra special chromosome.

Last July (when Jack was 4 months old) we had an appointment at a hospital that invovled a speech pathologist who gave us information regarding the thickening of my milk due to aspiration and along with that they invited an occupational therapist in for a few minutes to do a quick evaluation.  She had done an assessment on him in less than five minutes and then left the room.  Two weeks later we received a letter with a summary of her evaluation.  I was in tears.  I read it and when she referenced that he was below average than typical kids I was defeated.  I was thinking, no, not my Jack, he is doing great!  Does she know he rolled over at 6 weeks?  Does she know he can transfer objects to each hand?  Does she know???...blah, blah, blah.  

Then I started justifying that she was only there for a few minutes, that she had gotten some of his basic info wrong, she didn't know Jack.   But I had to ask myself if I was seeking achievement in these milestones.  Was I thinking that his value was coming from what he could do and at what timeline he was on compared to the books I was reading about kids with Ds.  Was there pressure to show the world that he wasn't any different than typical kids?  Jack had hit many of the milestones in the 'average' timeline and then they came a little slower.  The time from when he sat up to when he started crawling seemed like years.  I called Jenny and she mentioned the word plateau and it was exactly how things were going.  The plateau, Jack had hit a plateau in his development.  And the gap was getting wider.    


As the weeks went on I thought to myself, if I am constantly going to be looking around Jack at what others his age are going to do, I am going to miss the very milestones that he IS reaching.  I am going to miss his life watching everyone else's. I recognized that the disappointment came when I wanted him to do things because of many of my own selfish desires.  But it about ME?  But I started with the question...Why are you sad about this?  Is this about me and what I want?

Which leads me to the wide road that many of us take...the comparison trap.  We look to the left or the right and we have the temptation to base our value on how we measure up to them.  We see other people doing things, buying things, going places, what their kids are doing/not doing, the size of their waistband, the jobs they can all be apart of the comparison trap...and guess what...NO ONE WINS!!  NO ONE!  There will always be someone better, bigger, wealthier, smarter, prettier, stronger, more talented and then we realize we never really measure up.  

Aren't we all really running our own race? 

I Corinthians 9:24 
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

I love the metaphors you can get from running.  I wasn't always a runner and actually in college someone made a comment that I wasn't the 'runner type'.  Thankfully, comments like that only fuel my gas tank and make me run harder.  :)  

As I have mentioned before, running is my therapy and I find myself understanding God more through my times of reflection during my runs.  I started running in high school after golf practice and before late night volleyball practice.  I lived in a very small town 10 miles from 'the big city' so it was something to do before the next practice.  I found myself leaving everything that was pressing on my heart out on the road.  I continued running through college for a hobby and I never thought I would enjoy long distance running.   I seriously can't express how much running has done for my life.  I started going farther and farther.  Then I signed up for a marathon...

My biggest challenge is myself, in the goal I place on myself.  My first marathon was miserable.  I didn't train well, I knew I could do better.  I knew I could go faster.  So I kept moving forward.  One step gets me closer to the finish line.  The milemarkers came faster.  And faster.  And faster...and the last three marathons I  have had a sweat sister to push and encourage me.  Isn't life (and running) so much better when you have someone to do it with?  

Having a child with a developmental delay, I could so easily become discouraged in what he 'should' be doing at his age.  He will eventually get to these milestones, we just get to enjoy each one longer.  :) When I truly accepted the fact that he is 'running his own race' my eyes were open to the amazing effort it takes for him to achieve each milestone.  When I am tempted with that comparison trap, I acknowledge that I don't want anyone else's child, I want Jack, and he is working SO much harder than others to achieve each milestone.  

The best way I can describe how I feel when celebrating Jack's milestones is when you go to a marathon and you watch the fast runners gliding past the mile markers as if they are floating, looking as if there was no effort.  As you continue to watch the runners past the pace gets slower, you start to see the effort that it's taking for the runners to take each step forward.  The determination in their whole body to get to that finish line.  The effort that it takes to mentally, physically, and emotionally to keep going.  Don't give up.  I can't go to a race anymore without my eyes filling with tears. 

Watching my sweet Jack make efforts to move makes me so proud of his determination.  

I could have given up when I crossed that line after the first marathon.  But 1000 of miles later, with a lot of sweat, tears, and amazing memories I have passed those milemarkers faster and faster.  

Here was the devotional that I read on the morning of the Twin Cities 10 mile...1st race post Jack's birth....
Jesus Calling-October 

Be willing to follow wherever I lead.  Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace.  Though you don't know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough!  Some of my richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real.  To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith-not by sight.  This doesn't mean closing your eyes to what is all around you.  It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.

Sometimes I lead you up a high mountain with only My hand to support you.  The higher you climb, the more spectacular the view becomes; also, the more keenly you sense your seperation from the world with all its problems.  This frees you to experience exuberantly the joyous reality of My Presence.  Give yourself fully to these Glory-moments, awash in dazzling Light.  I will eventually lead you down the mountain, back into community with others.  Let My Light continue to shine within you as you walk among people again.

We continue to learn through each of these milestones and milemarkers...and boy has Jack taught us how to CELEBRATE big time!  

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Well it's been a month since I had the D & C for the miscarriage that we had of our third precious child. Emotionally I have had my ups and down when thinking about it, but I do have peace that God has a purpose for the pain. 

The day after the D & C, we traveled to visit my brother and his family in Tennessee.  He relocated to TN in 2002 and fell in love with a southern belle and now calls the south his home with his wife and son.  My mother is originally from Tennessee and it was so great to see many of our family members during our stay!



We were able to kick off the vacation with an event called, Country Music Lends Down a Hand, with proceeds going to the Down Syndrome Association of West Tennessee.  There were a few artists from Nashville and the local area.  My sister-in-law was a part of the planning committee and it was such a fun night out celebrating those with an extra special chromosome! Our time with my brother and family was wonderful, filled with relaxation, great conversations, and fun toys to ride around the land they live on. Luke even got to help feed their new baby goat!

After spending a few days with them we headed back to Nashville where we had the pleasure of staying with one of my high school friends and her family.  We visited the zoo and a water park and we couldn't leave our trip without making it downtown Nashville.  

The pace of summer is moving too quickly.  Filled with play dates, walks to the park, sleeping in and staying up wait too late, bike rides, hockey training for Chris, volleyball camps for Carissa, road trips, and girls' 
weekend away.  With us both being educators, WE LOVE SUMMER.  Please slow down.  I think I love this summer much more because the season of winter was so long and cold. 

Speaking of pace, my sweat sister and I are running a half marathon at the end of August.  We have not raced together since Chicago in 2009.  We have been on opposite schedules with having babies so we long for the day we can race TOGETHER again.  We decided after I had the miscarriage that we would put a race on the schedule and enjoy the training and goal that both of us needed to get a little bit of ourselves back.  

Last week on our training schedule it called for a pace run.  Katie, my sweat sister, and I were not able to coordinate a run together that week so I asked Chris if he would pace my run (while pushing the boys in the jogger) and I would try to keep up.  Chris runs everyday, 5 miles minimum, and he runs fast!  I was about to embark upon a girls' weekend and I knew I would be consuming a lot of good food and not getting much Thursday night it was.  Most of the run I was staring at the bottom of Chris' shoes, but so thankful to have someone to do this (painful) run with.  For those of you not familiar with what a pace run's when each mile is at the pace of race day.  So whatever pace you are hoping to finish the race at (race pace) average that over the miles you are scheduled to run for that day. 

I was so thankful for that run to be over.  It pushed me and it was not fun, but it was so good to see the fruit of the hard work.  There is nothing better than finishing a good hard run.  I have seen in my years of running that pace runs are key to getting faster overall.  It not only physically helps you but mentally you start to believe you can keep that pace.  You are faster than you think.  I did my first marathon in the summer of 2002 and have completed 8 since then.  I have run at many paces.  Some may say fast, some may say slow...but what I do know that I am better at running because of my pace runs.  My pace from the first marathon to the last was a difference of 3 minutes per mile, and shaved off 1 hour 20 minutes.  I started to understand the importance of setting the pace, especially in long distance runs.  Definitely have learned that mistake the hard way...doesn't every runner feel like they could sprint the first three miles after they jazz you all up at the start line???

When I started to understand the longer distances I became more intentional in my pacing.  

I opened my Jesus Calling devotional that evening after that run with Chris and company and this is what it said... 

YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD. I chose you before the foundation of the world, to walk with Me along paths designed uniquely for you. If you trust that My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you. Concentrate on keeping in step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you. If you trust that My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, you can relax and enjoy the present moment.
Your hope and your future are rooted in heaven, where eternal ecstasy awaits you. Nothing can rob you of your inheritance of unimaginable riches and well-being. Sometimes I grant you glimpses of your glorious future, to encourage you and spur you on. But your main focus should be staying close to Me. I set the pace in keeping with your needs and My purposes.

Well I came to realize a few days later that the date I had read was one month off.  I was reading June 18th instead of July 18th.  

This is how God continues to show up and remind me that if we keep in step with Him, trusting Him, He sets the pace for me and our family...each step forward on this beautiful path.

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About Me

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The name of this blog was inspired by Kristin Armstrong's devotional book, Strength for the Climb. I am a midwest girl married to a handsome, hardworking, God-fearing man and the mother of two boys. My eldest son, a social butterfly that has enough energy and excitement to make anyone tired and a personality that will make you giggle with laughter. My youngest son, can cuddle like no other, and his eyes will speak right to your soul. Both of my sons have taught me more about God's grace and goodness. We are blessed to have an extra chromosome in our family as our sweet Jack was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome. With that, I am reminded daily to trust and rely on God's perfect plan on this journey called life. I am a child of God and grateful to my Heavenly Father for His continued blessings, guidance, wisdom, and most importantly for saving my soul.