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Truths for the Battle Weary Mom

“Aaauuuggghhh!” The high pitched scream was coming from down the hall. ‘Aaauuuggghhh!”, this time louder and longer. I had heard that scream before. I knew what it meant. He was frustrated and angry. The intermittent screams became one long continuous shriek only interrupted by his gasps to fill his lungs to fuel the next one.

Minutes later, I saw two teachers gently carrying the boy under his arms to a room so he could calm down. I knew that he was upset about something, but couldn’t adequately verbalize it. In his frustration, he did the only thing he knew to do when things where scary, unnerving, or just out of the norm, he screamed. And once the screaming started, he, like many kids similar to him, didn’t know how to calm himself.

As I watched him, tears began to flood my eyes. My heart broke for him, feeling frustrated and anxious. My heart went out to the teachers who were calmly trying to help to no avail. But, mostly, I cried for his mom.

I cried for the phone call or note home she would receive telling her that things did not go well for her son. It would outline what happened before the incident, what the teachers tried to do, and what ultimately helped him come out of his meltdown. I know all about those phone calls and notes. I had received many myself.

I wondered. Would this one be just one more in a long line of notifications? Would she question her parenting and the choices she’s made for her child? Would another wave of grief roll in to remind her that her son functions differently than other kids? Would she have someone to support and encourage her? Would she feel alone and isolated? Would she feel like a failure?

I know those thoughts. I know those feelings. I so wanted to find her, look deep into her eyes, and remind her of some truths.

You are doing a good job.

I know sometimes you think you’re failing and it feels like your drowning, but you are doing good, so much better than you think. The fact that you are in the fight, speaks volumes. You keep at it, asking questions, reaching out for help, researching new therapies and treatments, trying new things and new tools, acquiring new skills. You keep advocating, pushing, and pursuing. All the while loving your child in the midst of being tired, frustrated, and just plain weary.

Let yourself grieve

This is a hard road to walk. Its filled with disappointments and unfulfilled dreams. Its okay to grieve. Its okay to be sad. Its okay to be mad. This is not the time to try to ignore the pain by finding someone who has it worse. Acknowledge your feelings. Work through them. And remember that grief does what it does best; it sneaks up on you at inopportune moments, especially when you’re not expecting them. Give yourself permission and time to feel the feelings. Cry the tears. Scream out the frustration and anger. Just don’t take up residence.

Take care of yourself

It’s easy to let the urgency of appointments, homework, therapies, and life rule your schedule leaving little to no time for you. Remember, though, you are vitally important. You can’t pour into your child or children if you are drained and have nothing to give. This is an ultra marathon. You will need strength and energy for the long haul. Find something that feeds you, that fills you physically, emotionally, spiritually. Try yoga, prayer, meditation, reading, painting, running, boxing, whatever works.

Ask for help

I know, I know, it’s hard to ask for help. This is the time to be brave and do it anyway. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or incapable or less than. God created us to be in community, helping each other. We aren’t meant to do life alone. And I guarantee you, there are people who want to love you well and help, they just need permission to step in.

Find your people

Reach out to other parents who have kids with special needs. They know what this journey takes. They can provide you with that understanding look that tells you, you are not alone. Find some parents who are further down the path. Their insights, wisdom, and perspective are invaluable. Find parents who are newer to the journey. While you offer the encouragement and support they need, it’s a reminder of all that you have survived and just how far you and your child have come.

You and your child will be okay

I know there are days when you think you won’t make it and all is lost. You’re searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, but that tunnel is so long. You’re not even sure you will survive. You can. You will not only survive this, but you and your child can learn to thrive. Life may look very different from what you dreamed of or what you wanted, but it can be full of love, strength, courage, and gratefulness.

Moms, if you’re reading this and you’re in the thick of battle, weary and tired, please know that you’re not alone. I see you. And I know this is hard, harder than you could have imagined. So hold on to these truths; write them down if you need. Put them on your mirror. Put them on your wall. Then share them. Share them with other weary moms, reminding them they aren’t alone. You’ll likely find them in the vicinity of screaming kids.

Late Night Calls

A year ago today, I was ripped from my sleep by a loud chime. My phone. The only words that registered after I answered, were ‘drunk driver, head on collision, and emergency room’.

As I drove the 90 minutes to get there, I prayed. I prayed for my daughter, her friend who was in the passenger seat, and the other drivers involved. I thanked God for the police who were on scene within seconds. (Three were in the area to witness and respond quickly.) I thanked God for the friends nearby who arrived within minutes to be with the girls as the chaos of questions and next step plans began. But mostly, I thanked God that they were alive.

By the time I arrived at the emergency room, the girls had been fully x-rayed, their wounds addressed, and pain medication prescribed. Miraculously, there were only concussions, lacerations, and a whole lot of soreness with bruising to come. They were released with instructions to watch for further symptoms, rest, and take it easy for several days.

My daughter and I were both surprised and really proud of how we held it together that night by using a whole lot of humor. It wasn’t until the next day, when I called the insurance company that the emotion of it all came crashing in.

I was greeted with a warm hello. The woman on the other line was polite and cheerful as we exchanged greetings. I told her I was calling because my daughter was in a car accident the previous night, that we needed to set up a car rental for her, and that I wanted to give them the other driver’s insurance information. That’s when she asked me to give her the details. As soon as I uttered the words, “she was hit head on by a drunk driver”, the polite woman gasped and said, “I’m so sorry”. I immediately felt the lump in my throat and the tears well up in my eyes. She asked about my daughter’s condition. I squeezed out that she and her friend where okay, just very sore. Pulling myself together as best I could, I got through the rest of the phone call all the while thinking that this was not how I saw the week playing out.

Later that day, my daughter and I went to the tow yard to see if we could retrieve items from her car. As she walked gingerly, I asked how she was doing seeing it in the light of day. She said she was okay. She just wanted to get her things. It started to sprinkle as I walked around the car to inspect the damage. The whole front end was crumpled; it was half the size it should have been. The rear passenger side of her car was also dented, a result of the initial driver’s impact that sent the car backwards into another vehicle. And then I looked into the car itself. All the airbags had deployed. Things were scattered and destroyed. The metal that had been pushed into my daughter’s leg was hanging under the steering wheel. Again the tears came. A mixture of sadness at what had happened and gratitude that she was still here.

I’d like to say that from there it was just a few weeks of laying low and all was back to normal. That’s not how it worked. The next seven months brought PTSD, surgery, infections that did not go away, negotiations with insurance companies, and a leaky pipe that flooded my daughter’s room destroying several hundred dollars worth of possessions. It. Was. So. Hard. It was hard for my daughter. And it was hard for me to watch as she was hit with one thing after another. #

The beautiful face of a survivor.

A few days ago, my daughter had a party. It was to celebrate that she made it through the year. She invited friends, had queso and chips, guacamole, smores, and a piñata shaped like a car filled with candy. I was so proud and in awe of how she chose to commemorate the year from hell. She chose to rejoice and give thanks. What could have destroyed her, made her stronger, healthier, braver, more resilient, and closer to God.

I love her example. Too often, I find myself marking difficult anniversaries by remembering and ruminating on all the hard, difficult, and sad things instead of rejoicing the good that God so graciously brought out of the wreckage. So this is our reminder, yours and mine, to celebrate. Celebrate that we survived! Especially those things we thought would do us in! Dig deep into the ashes to find the treasures that can be found. And give thanks. Throw a party. Invite your friends. And by all means, have a piñata. They are very therapeutic!

My Journey To The Top of The Hill

In 92 days, I will turn 50.  Or as my husband likes to say, a half century old.

No matter how it’s said, it causes me to pause.


That’s a lot of life!

I remember as a child telling my then 55 year old grandfather that he was over the hill.  He asked how I figured that.  I told him that it takes a person 50 years to get up the hill and then after that, you’re over the hill and on your way down.  It made perfect sense in my 6 year old brain.

I may have been on to something. 

Last Summer my family was in Montana.  We went on several hikes up to beautiful summits where we would sit and just take in all the beauty.  We often looked back to where we started, amazed at how far we’d come.

That’s where I am right now, nearing the summit, taking in all that has been my life to this point.   When I first started, 50 seemed so far away.  I couldn’t imagine what it would be like, where I’d be living, what I’d be doing.  Now, looking back, it seems to have come so quickly.  The terrain I’ve covered has included beautiful, refreshing, joyful trails; rocky, difficult, tiring trials; and some hot, dry, and utterly draining seasons.  All of them make up the adventure that has been my life.  And it’s been good.  I’m so thankful for the things I’ve experienced, the things I’ve been able to do, and the people I’ve met along the way!

So what about the paths I have left to travel?  What will they hold for me?  What will I do?  Who will I meet? What will the terrain be like?

I don’t know.

I have some ideas and some plans.  But if the latter part of my life is anything like the first, I will definitely encounter things I never expected and experience adventures I never planned to have.

So, in 92 days I will officially reach the top of the hill.

I can’t wait to celebrate!

Thanks For the Memories, Bertha!

Today I said goodbye to an old friend, a trusted companion, a treasured member of the family…our van.

Twelve years ago we brought her home, sparkly and new.  She had a 17 inch drop down TV screen with a DVD player, pull down shades, mood lighting, room for seven people, and plenty of back end space for all our stuff.   She left today with a dent in the back door, a crack in the windshield,  well worn seats, a distinctive family smell, and a couple of nonworking shades; she was well loved!

We had another van before Bertha.  It was the one we got when we discovered we were having quadruplets.  We bought it from some wonderful church friends who were moving overseas and needed to sell it.  That one was lovingly called, The Baby Boat.  My kids have some vague memories of that first van, but Bertha is really the one at the center of all our family adventures!

Bertha was the van that I drove daily to take the kids to school, occupational and speech therapy, all kind of activities, and the doctor’s office.  I drove her on lunch dates when it was each child’s special day.  She was the vehicle where the kids would sit upside down and pretend they were astronauts.  She was the one who always marked our location and told everyone when we were home.  She carried us to the park to meet friends and all of our gear when we went camping.  Her seat fit and molded to my butt, making her my most comfortable ride.

We drove her on several trips to Colorado for Summer vacations and Christmas celebrations.   When the kids were little, we would eat an early dinner and start the seventeen hour drive hoping for long bouts of sleep until breakfast time the next morning.  Then it was just a quick couple of hours to Grandma and Grandpa’s house where they would play and we would sleep.  It mostly worked, except for Nick.  He would sit in the very back middle seat with eyes wide open.  It was enough to scare any parent awake for a few more hours!

It was on one of these trips that my kids learned a new word, preemptive.  We stopped for gas and my husband told everyone to get out for a preemptive pee.  As I looked at the kids, all I could see was confusion.  I asked them if anyone knew what preemptive meant.  In a chorus, they yelled, “No!”  We all burst out laughing and told Jerry to stop using big words.

Bertha was also the one who took us to Disney World.  We sat in her watching movies one night as Jerry tried to break into our rental house after we had inadvertently locked ourselves out earlier in the day.  Fun times!

She faithfully transported all of us, plus pets, half way across the country, twice.  She took us safely to a friend’s house as we evacuated from Hurricane Rita.  She was  always dependable.  Plus, I could always spot her in the parking lot!

But now all the kids are gone and there are just three of us living at home.  So for the last year, she has spent most of her time just sitting in our driveway.  We occasionally took her for a spin if we needed to move something large or needed to shuffle cars when the kids came home.  Mostly, though, she’s been driveway art and a constant reminder of days gone by and adventures past.

 ⁄⁄     ⁄⁄     ⁄⁄

We’re on a new journey now.  Learning to be a couple again and parents to adult children with their own vehicles.   It was time to let go.

So today I took one last look inside, took in a deep breath, and smiled.  I’m so thankful we were able to have her all these years and make such wonderful memories.  We will never forget her.


Harvey Lessons

Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast line a month ago.  It hit Rockport, Texas as a category 4 storm, stalled near the coast dumping several feet of water, headed back out to the Gulf and made landfall again bringing more rain.  It left a path of devastation in its wake.

For days, all we did was watch the news, check Facebook, contact friends, and watch the water rise.  When the rain finally stopped and we were able to get out of our neighborhood, the breadth of the damage was more than we could have ever imagined.

We were fortunate not to have flooded so we banded together with others to start helping where we could.  And like most Houstonians, we lost track of days, somehow losing the end of August and beginning of September.  It was easy to do, all sense of normalcy was gone.

In the weeks that have passed, there’s been so much to do and process.  But there have been two major themes that keep rolling around in my head.

1. Storms do not discriminate.

Harvey didn’t care where you lived, how much money you made, about your skin color, about your nationality, what language you spoke,  what political party you registered with, what your marital status was,  or anything else.  It’s sole purpose was to cause fear and destruction.  And it did, for hundreds of thousands of people.

I saw people from all different areas and different backgrounds grieve as precious pictures, momentos, heirlooms, and evidence of normal life were dragged to the curb as trash.  They worried as tow truck after tow truck carried off water logged vehicles, wondering how they were going to get to work and if they would be able to find replacements.  They were frustrated as they tried to cut through all the red tape of insurance companies and FEMA while trying to find alternate housing.  They felt anxious about the start of school for their kids, especially when so many of them were going to alternative campuses because of flood damage.  They all were longing for normal life again.

We are so much more alike than we remember.


2. The stresses of Life do not take a break when a storm hits.

Before the storm hit, life and its stresses were happening.   And they didn’t stop just because Harvey came to town, no matter how much we wished for them take a week or two off.  It seemed too much to deal with losing all your belongings and still getting the cancer diagnosis,  having to start or continue treatments, experiencing the death of a loved one, dealing with accidents and injuries, working through a divorce, managing depression, losing a job,….  It’s so much at one time.

Yet, life does not pause for the storm.  It continues in it’s relentless manner, demanding attention.  How are we supposed to handle it all?


We were not meant to walk this earth alone. God created us for community, to encourage and help one another.

Harvey brought that out in a powerful way.  People from all over the country descended on the coast to rescue people from houses and vehicles; many of them ordinary citizens with boats joining the first responders.  They brought clothing, food, and water for those who were displaced or in need.  They helped at shelters in anyway necessary to care for those without a home.  They went to neighborhoods to help muck out houses, bringing much needed supplies.  They took lunches and water into areas where clean up was happening without wanting anything in return.

Neighbors helping neighbors.  Strangers helping strangers.  People loving and caring for one another.  All done without regard to anyone’s background, heritage, skin color, political stance, or any other criteria we use to separate ourselves.

Author Brené Brown was right when she said, ‘people are hard to hate close up, move in’.  We did and were reminded how inextricably connected we are.

I pray I never forget.









The Letting Go Intertwined with Grief


To all of you parents out there who are in the thick of letting go, I get it.

It’s hard!

It’s long and challenging!

Some of you are sending kids to school for the first time.  Some of you are sending them to school for the last time.  Some of you are letting go of control.  Some of you are watching as they begin to build their separate lives with friends and partners.  Some of you are helping them move to new places across town, the state, the country, the world.  Some of you are sending them to places for healing.   Some of you are having to watch as they make decisions you would not make.  Some of you are having to let go of dreams you had for your children and accept what really is.

Whatever you are having to let go of, grief is not far behind, even in the midst of good things.  It’s a part of letting go.  Sometimes it comes and goes quickly.  Other times, it hangs around heavily on the shoulders for weeks as if it intends to stay forever.

It’s that grief that always catches me.  I know that letting go and releasing kids to be adults is part of parenting well; I just didn’t know that grief was so intertwined.

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This week in the midst of letting go and feeling the grief creep in, God comforted me as He reminded me of some truths.  First, as much as I love my kids and want the best for them, God loves them more and knows absolutely what’s best for them.  Second, He’s in charge of their story, their life; not me.  My job is to follow God’s leading as I parent and trust Him with their lives.

Sounds good and easy, right?  Well, maybe good, but not so easy.  I forget.  I want to control.  I want to know the future.  I want difficulties minimized.  But that’s not the life God’s called me to.

So when fears, disappointments, concerns, and desire for control rear their ugly heads, I turn to Him.  He reminds me again of His love for me and my kids.  He reminds me of His sovereignty and His presence.  And when the grief comes, as it does, He sweetly comforts me with His Spirit, His Word, and His people.

This parenting thing is hard, but we have a God who understands and offers us grace and compassion as we navigate the letting go.  So soak it all in deeply, have a good cry, and face the new season knowing He’s with you.


Post Vacation Blues and Finding My Big Girl Panties

My family and I spent all last week at Glacier National Park.  We were joined by the majority of my extended family for our biennial reunion.

It. Was. Beautiful!

Coming from the heat of south Texas, the cool evenings and mornings were a precious gift.  The rolling fields of wildflowers were breathtaking.  The cool, clear water of the lakes were spectacular.  The wildlife we saw made us giddy with excitement.  The mountains that we climbed gave way to thunderous waterfalls and views that literally cried out to be enjoyed.  We even took horses to the top of a mountain, picking blueberries along the way.

While I was there, I stood in awe of all that God had created.  And because we had very spotty service, I was able to unplug and really be present for all that God was showing me.  It was refreshing for my soul.

But then it ended.  We had to come home.  We had to re-enter our lives.

To be honest, I found myself feeling sad and not wanting to re-engage in my life.  At first, I thought I was just tired from all of the hiking and activity from the week.  After a few days, though, I realized there was more.  The end of this vacation is a sign that summer is almost over.  In the next couple of weeks, my kids head back to school and their lives as college students.  I will miss them terribly.

I’ve so enjoyed my time with them this summer.  They have not all been home full time, but most of them have been home for some period of time.  It’s been great!  The laughter.  The story telling.  The meals shared.  The impromptu pool time.  The sharing of hearts.  The encouraging of one another.  The joy.

I have soaked it all in.

But soon the structure of school and work will take over.  Thankfully, all of my kids enjoy their respective schools and have each found their people, their groups.  It makes their leaving easier.  And God has so sweetly reminded me of the new life He has given me here, new friends, new ministry opportunities, new adventures.

So after several days of my inner three year old screaming, ‘I don’t wanna do real life!’, I’ve picked myself off the floor, found my big girl panties crumpled in the corner, and started getting back at it…

I’m Not Fine

I’m not fine.

I’m not okay.

I’m struggling.

I need some help.

Those words are difficult to say.  They are difficult for me to admit.  But they are true.

I come from a family of strong Germans.  You pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of people.  In my immediate family, it was made known that no matter what was happening at home, when you walk out the door, you smile and tell everyone you’re fine.

For years I did just that, often times through gritted teeth and a clenched jaw.  I did it until I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I didn’t have the strength.

I was not fine.

I was not okay.

I was struggling.

I needed help.

So I went to therapy.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.  God used her, and that time to bring healing to the broken places in my heart and mind.  And God began to show me the beauty He would bring from those ashes.  I was forever changed.

Fast forward thirty years and I find myself needing help again.  To be honest, right here is where I want to list all of the reasons to legitimize my brokenness, but I’m not.   I’m learning I don’t have to justify my need for help, I just have to acknowledge it.

In light of my brokenness, I’ve been seeking help.  God has once again graciously provided a therapist and loved ones who love, support, and encourage me.  I’m so very thankful.

So why share this?  I could just keep this part of my life private and no one but a few would know.   To be honest, that’s what I wanted to do.  I wanted to keep this under wrap; let as few people know as possible.  But why?  If I think therapy is so helpful, why would I care if others know?

The stigma.

Even people who would advocate therapy for others are sometimes reluctant to seek it for themselves. Only the weak go to therapy. Only crazy people go to therapy.  Only those who aren’t relying on God enough go to therapy.

And along with the stigma comes the shame.  I am flawed.  I am weak.  I should be able to handle this.  I don’t have enough faith.

I don’t want to feed that kind of thinking.  I want to be a part of breaking the stigma.

Bottom line, we live in a fallen world full of sin which means there is pain, death, trial, change, difficulty, and brokenness.  God knew we would need help so He sent Jesus.  He also sends therapists.  I’m seeing a great one now.







The Gift of Your Presence

One of my daughters is working with kids on the outskirts of downtown Houston this summer. She has been looking forward to this opportunity for months.  She loves kids and loves Jesus so to combine the two is her sweet spot.  As she was telling me about her adventurous first week, I was struck by something she said.  Before she left, she was worried about knowing the right thing to say or do to show Jesus’ love to the kids she encountered.  What she discovered was that they don’t need her words, they need her presence.

They need her to show up.

They need her to be fully present.

They need her to engage.

Isn’t that what we’re all hoping for?  Someone to show up and be present. Someone who will stop what they’re doing, look you in the eye, and listen. Someone who will take time to hear what’s on your heart and treasure it as a precious gift.


Your presence is what’s needed.


I was reminded of that as I went to a women’s coffee fellowship.  Several women showed up, put their phones away, and talked for well over an hour relishing all the time they had while their kids were in the nursery.  It was a wonderful sight to behold.

The best part was my interaction with the woman who sat next to me.  She came in a little late after a rough start to her morning.  She could have just stayed home, but she chose to show up.  I’m so glad she did.

After we made our introductions, she asked me questions about my family.  And then she asked follow up questions.  Questions that let me know she was listening and engaged.  Then she told me about her family and shared some things on her heart.   She didn’t have an agenda or a purpose.  She didn’t use any special words.  She was merely present and trying to connect.   Our time together blessed me immensely.  It revived my soul.

She showed up.

She engaged.

Her presence was a beautiful gift.


Your presence is a gift, too.  Go share it!




Who Has the Power to Speak Worth Over You?

Who the hell gave her the power to speak worth over you?

My daughter’s words hit my heart so heavily they took my breath away.  With tears in my eyes, I had to admit that it was me; I had given her that power.

I don’t know when or how it happened, but I had given another person the authority to determine my worth.  When I felt like she approved of what I was doing, I felt good and competent.  When I felt like she disapproved, I felt flawed and worthless.  Unfortunately, over time, I began to feel ‘not enough’ whenever I was with her, always remembering the times I had failed to measure up.  I had only myself to blame; I had given that power, that authority to her.


§  §  §


I think we do that more than we realize.  Maybe it’s to a job, family, education, wealth, busy-ness, beauty, friends, kids, ministry, where we live, what we drive, the list goes on.  We start out with good intentions, wanting to be liked and accepted, wanting to do and be good.  But before we know it, we are slaves to those things or the opinions of others.  And we we will never be enough.  We could always do more, be more.  It’s frustrating.  It’s discouraging.  It’s suffocating.

I was suffocating.

My daughter’s question was the fresh breath that I needed.  Hope was revived in my heart.  Thoughts became clear in my head.   Things could be different.  I could be free.   

I would take the power back. 

§  §  §


So this is my reminder and I pray it will be yours, as well.

My worth, your worth, comes not from what we do or don’t do, how we look, or how smart we are, but from God.  We are of such great worth and value to Him that He sent Jesus, His profound love in human form, so that we could be united.  He loves us unconditionally at all times, even when we’re making a mess of things or not living up to expectations.  There is nothing we could do to diminish His love for us.   We are His children, His beloved.  He rejoices over us with shouts of joy.

Let those words sink deep into your heart.  Read them again if you have to.

Now go, and reclaim the power you’ve given away!