To Say Thank You


Today’s challenge was simply to say thank you.  To thank someone who has played a part in our journey.   One person that has been instrumental in our lives.

And so to mine:

Thank you.

Thank you for loving me when I least deserve it.  For constantly pouring yourself into me even when it seems like the effort is falling on barren ground.  Thank you for encouraging me.  For supporting my every whim and fancy.  There have been many and you’ve never said no, that I can’t or that I shouldn’t.  You’ve only said yes.  And only ever meant it.

Thank you for making me a mom, the one dream I had that has never changed.  For the way you love those boys.  Ways I’ve only ever been able to imagine.  For the way you chase and toss and tease and laugh with them.  They are becoming who you are because of what they see.

For the way you show them what it means to be a man who is honest and respected.  For the business decisions you make that whisper your character in a world that only recognizes those that are shouting.

Thank you for teaching them and learning from them and always lavishing your love upon them.  For showing them that men say “I love you” and “I’m sorry” and they cry at sappy movies and stand taller than they ever thought possible when the ones they love are attacked.

I know you had dreams, too.  For the way your life would be.  Their soccer coach and their side line supporter and biggest fan.  You couldn’t have ever planned for this. Neither of us could have but you carry us through this.  I mean it.  You pick us up and you carry us forward when it would be all too easy to stay where we are.

The statistics are 80%. That’s the number of marriages that end in divorce when they have a child with autism.  You know that number, not because you’ve read the reports or have feared the reality, but because you fight against that number every day.  With everything you do, you fight to be the 20% and when I don’t feel like trying anymore, you fight even harder.

This life we live is lonely.  It’s hard to maintain friendships and build relationships amongst the chaos.  We’ve seen it.  You felt it even more.  You’ve watched friendships fade and be replaced and you’ve grieved for them but you’ve never once placed blame.

You are unapologetic about the way you love me, the way you love them.  About the lengths we go to try to make this life more manageable, to make them comfortable, to make them happy. It means we stay home most weekends, it means we retreat to the place that is safest.  It means going weeks and months without spending time with other adults and I tell you how sorry I am about that and you remind me that this is the place you want to be.

For being quiet in our often way too loud world.  For being constant when it seems our whole lives hinge on the cycle.  For dancing with me in the kitchen.  For making them laugh with the way you kiss me.  For spending your weekends gladly hearing about Pokemon cards and video games.  For taking walks when you’d rather sit.  For saying yes when it would be so much easier to say no.  For all the times you’ve said no to others so you could say yes to us.  For praying in front of them.  For praying for them.

For all of the things you do and for all of the things that you are.

Thank you.


Instead, Be Who You Are


It really shouldn’t be possible.  There is no way that you should be starting Middle School in a few weeks.  It makes no sense at all.

We waited for you for almost 5 years and those days and weeks seemed like an eternity and now once you finally came to us, we can’t keep up with how quickly time is racing.  We just brought you home from the hospital and had your first birthday.  We just tucked you into bed with your first lost tooth under your pillow and walked you into the first day of Kindergarten.  And now we are here.

It blows our minds

There are so many things that I feel like I should tell you before you walk into those doors on your first day.  Things that I think you need to know about the world and how it works.  Things that could keep you from getting hurt.

Instead, I just want you to be who you are.

You are generous.  You would give your most prized possessions away if you thought they would make someone else happy. I want to tell you to be careful, that people will take advantage of you and that you could get hurt.  But I wont.

Instead, be who you are.

Be generous.  Give freely.  Always give more than you take. Seek to bring joy to others  even if it sometimes comes with a cost. Don’t ever give something with expectations of getting something in return.  Remember that sometimes the most valuable things in the world are smiles and hugs and a listening ear, give those often.  Don’t listen to people like me when they warn you that the world is just full of takers.  Because there are also givers.

There is you.

I want to tell you to be careful about showing your emotions.  That kids can be mean and if they see you crying they might think you are weak and they will make fun of you.

Instead, be who you are.

Wear your heart on your sleeve.  When your heart hurts, you can cry.   All around this world there are wives and daughters and friends who are dealing with men who were told it was never ok to cry. Encourage others to be true to their emotions.  When you know someone is holding it all in, show them by your bravery that it’s ok to feel things.  Don’t ever forget that just like pain is a real emotion, so is joy. Celebrate everything.  Celebrate others.  High fives and fist bumps and bear hugs.  Wear your heart on one sleeve and wear your smile on the other.  There will always be people who are hurting and who are sad and who will tear others down with just a glimmer of a hope of making themselves feel better.  There will always be broken people.

Then there is you.

I want to tell you all the things that Middle School kids should and shouldn’t do.  I want to tell you not to talk about your Pokemon cards or your treehouse dreams or your first aid kit collection.  People won’t understand that.  Those are things for younger kids and when you are in Middle School you have to act like more like a grown up.

Instead, be who you are.

Don’t ever outgrow your dreams.  Hold tight to the things that you are interested in, even if it doesn’t seem like others are.  Always be a kid, even if it’s just in your heart. Being a grown up is boring and some days it no fun so don’t rush it.  Other kids will love sports or a musical instrument or a school club.  That’s ok.  Encourage your friends to do what makes them happy.  Pull out your Pokemon cards and keep drawing tree house plans.  One day you will have the most amazing tree house ever to be thought of.  People think dreamers are unrealistic, out of touch with the real world.  They are wrong.

There is you.

I wanna tell you that most Middle School boys don’t hug their mom’s before they go into school, that they don’t wanna hold hands in the parking lot or want their parents to walk them to class.  I want to tell you to try to hide those parts of yourself.

Instead, be who you are.

Never get too old to tell people you love them.  Never let anyone make you feel bad for showing affection, when it’s appropriate.  It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and to need someone by your side for support.  Be that for other people.  You know how if feels when you think you are all alone and you just want someone to be with you.  Be that for your friends.  When they are scared, walk beside them and keep telling them that it will be alright.  Kids in your new school need friends who will be loyal and genuine.

They need you.

There are so many new adventures ahead for you and while some of them feel like scary, unchartered territory for us as your parents, we know you will push through.  That you will be brave and courageous, that you will work hard and give your all, that you will succeed in ways our simple minds aren’t even big enough to dream.  We know it will be true.

Because that’s just like you.

Go On Brush Your Shoulders Off

We are 10 days into the Start Experiment and we’ve been risking and dreaming and putting fear on notice.  We’ve logged miles on the track and pages in our journals.  We’ve filled out job applications and had hard conversations and put ourselves on display.  We’ve written books and written songs and built websites and built a village.

Day 10 of 24.  Some of us have already experienced success, we’ve tasted what it’s like to risk and find reward.  Others of us are still waiting.  We aren’t even sure what we are waiting for but surely if we chased the right dream we will know when it comes true.  The home run, the end zone dance, the TKO, the Best Seller List, the before and after picture, the acceptance letter.  We are waiting.

Day 10 brings the challenge to think small.  To identify one small thing we can do today with our risk that just might have a huge impact.

And my thing?  My small step today?  Today I’m gonna rap.

Don’t get too excited now, I’m not actually gonna rap but I’m gonna live today the way that rappers do.

You won’t ever hear a rapper step up to the mic and tell you they are average.  That they chased their dreams and failed.  That they deserve anything less than the best.

They don’t sit in the corner quietly and wait for someone to recognize their effort.  They stand on stages and they shout it.  They shout what they’ve done and even when no one else is praising them, they praise themselves.

Sure, we look at that and we already have verses bubbling up about how arrogance and boasting are sins and we can’t get out these words quick enough.

Pride comes before the fall.

But what if apathy does too.  And self doubt. And broken self esteem.  And the lies we tell ourselves.

We’ve risked big for 10 days now and maybe today the little risk is to celebrate that.

And so.

One of my risks was to write a children’s book about a boy whose brother has autism over the 24 day.  I haven’t written a single page for it.  Not because I can’t do it but because after putting it on paper I realized I wasn’t ready to write that.  But instead I’ve written something everyday for the last 10 days and began to research exactly what goes into a quality children’s book.

Word up.

A risk was to go public.  To share openly what I’ve written and to begin to build an audience.  I’ve gone from having a hand full of views on blog posts to having well over a hundred on each post.  Are there people who have hundreds of thousands of followers, sure.  But I have a 100% more than I had 10 days ago.

I’ll drink to that. 

Another risk was to get healthy and to lose weight. I’m not sure the number on the scale has moved much but for the last 10 days I’ve gotten up at 5 am and hit the gym.  I may not see results worthy of a before and after picture yet but I feel better and stronger.



What about you?  You’ve risked and you’ve gained ground this week.  Get up on the stage and tell us about it.

Go On Brush Your Shoulders Off.


Tuesday in Tuesday {Remade}

This week has been rough.

Actually, that is what I would tell you if you asked me how my week was.  I would probably smile and make a joke about it being crazy around our house.  Except it wouldn’t really be a joke.

The truth is, this week has been hell.

If you have every know anyone who suffers from bi polar disorder, you would know that life is a constant cycle between the somewhat familiar and the frightening.  This week for Ike has been the latter.

There is nothing that ever prepares you to hear your child tell you that they wish they were never created.  That they wish they didn’t exists.  That they wish they could kill themselves.  What makes it even more unbearable is looking into their eyes and knowing that at that very moment, they mean it.

That is how we spent our Sunday.  And Monday.  And Tuesday.  Three of the hardest days that we have yet to experience with Isaak.

Maybe it is because he is getting older .  Maybe it is because his medication needs increased.  Maybe his medicine isn’t working at all anymore.  There could be lot’s of reasons why this time was harder than ever before, but the reality is that this is probably just a taste of what is to come.

So that was Sunday and Monday and Tuesday.  This is Thursday and I should be happy that Ike has seemed to move through that cycle and is getting back to one that is more familiar.  I should be happy that we all made it through.  Thankful that it is over.

But there is a little part of me that’s still there.

One of the hardest parts of parenting Isaak is my inability to compartmentalize.  I feel like I should be happier. I should be more thankful for the days that aren’t rock bottom.  I should be able to leave Tuesday in Tuesday and start Thursday new.  But that is difficult.

Instead, I carry it with me.  In the back of my mind.  Maybe not even in the back, but maybe way too close to the front of my mind.

And in an effort to cease,  I commit to writing it down.  Pen to paper.  Abstract feeling and emotions into words.  Things that can be seen and manipulated and processed.  And I read them, over and over again.  Others read them too.  And they connect with them and they connect with me and even though I can’t see their faces I know their hearts and in some strange way it feels better.  Like we aren’t alone.

Like all over there are others who are still stuck in Tuesday and together we are gong to make the conscience decision to move. To move forward.  To move forward not just because we don’t want to be left behind but to move forward with a purpose. To breath in the air of Thursday and to be thankful.  To be present.

Not being able to leave Tuesday in Tuesday is changing.  And it’s changing me.

We Wait. And Watch. And Pray

I can read it on his face.  In the way his left eye lid lazily hangs as if he can barely keep his eyes open.  In the cold stare.

The way he talks changes.  The way he orders his words. Where he pauses.  His voice becomes monotone.

The pattern of his breath changes.  He breathes louder.  Each exhale is forced.

The transition could last a few more hours or a few more days, but the end is the same.

We are going to say goodbye to him for awhile.  Hopefully it is only a couple of days, but we really never know. We just know he is leaving.

The boy that laughs and smiles and cracks us up.  The one that loves to play Lego’s and eat popsicles  and sing along to the music in the car.

He is about to be consumed by something that takes all of those things and locks them away.

He won’t sleep.  He will cry and scream and rage and threaten and hit and hurt.

And then slowly, we will watch him come back.

And we’ll  wonder if this constant pattern of slipping away and coming back will eventually change him.  Will he begin to come back less. Come back different.

We wait.  And we watch .  And we pray.



Why I {heart} Facebook

I’m not really sure why or how it happens but I always end up having friends that are way cooler than me.  Or is it way cooler than I?  I’m not really sure but they would know.

They are grammar experts.  The inventors of huge words.  They can’t even use Spellcheck because the sorts of words they use are too fancy and exclusive to be included in a common dictionary.  Except they probably are written down somewhere.  Like in a book constructed of handmade paper that sits on a stand in a forest.  In Seattle.

The sort of people who are connoisseurs of French Pressed Coffee and organic milk and pencils. They used to be really into Bon Iver until the rest of America learned how to pronounce it.  Now he’s just a product of “the machine”.

They are both judge and jury when it comes to deciding what is hip and what is lame.

And they have ruled that Facebook is lame.  Very lame.

They scratch their beards and say things like “who cares what someone you haven’t spoken to in years had for breakfast?”

I guess the answer is I do.  I care.

I care what you had for breakfast and how many times you had to take your dog out yesterday.  I care about your kid’s grades and pictures of their little league games.  I care about the crazy dream you had last night or how your children are currently swinging from the chandelier.

I care.

I care that your dash board thermometer says its ether way hot or super cold out.  I care that you went to the gym or just devoured a decadent dessert.  I care that your little one is sick or your husband is out of town.  I even care about your bathroom mirror selfies.

I really do. It might be crazy, but I love you.  Like a love song.

In the middle of crazy days you make me laugh. I’ll be perfectly honest, some days I am laughing with you and some days I am laughing at you.  Your stories and your pictures and even your occasional temper tantrum. They make me lol except I really do laugh out loud.  Like with noises.

You make me proud. When really great things happen in your life, I celebrate with you.  To some it might just be a “thumbs up” but to me it’s sorta like a hug.  And not the wimpy kind.  A bear hug.  Where you have to ask me to quit squeezing you because you are close to fainting.

When really bad things happen to you, I am sad too.  I pray for you and think about you just like you were sitting in my living room.

And you do the same for me.

You encourage me and make me feel special and loved.

We are like a little family.  We have the quiet ones and the wild ones and the ones that we think might be related by both blood and marriage.  We have the outspoken ones, the black sheep and the saints.  We have our fair share of crazy uncles and the one aunt that always has to give you a kiss.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And maybe the reason why we have become “family” is because we all just really want to be part of something.  To belong to something.  To be valued.  To be important to someone.

Is it lame for some people?


But not for me, cause I love you.

I really do.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I had oatmeal.

To All The Servers: A Letter About Lettuce

On behalf of all us parents, we have something to tell you.

To tell to those of you that work in restaurants.

Something you really need to hear.


When we come to your restaurant it’s no big deal to you.

We are just another customer.

Another table to serve.


But it’s a big deal to us.

We’ve prepared for this.

We’ve planned for this.

We picked the week and the day and the time.


We’ve worked ahead to do everything we can to make this experience enjoyable for not just us, but the other guests in your restaurant.

When we order, it’s not like we have taken 10 minutes to leisurely look over the menu and choose something that sounds pleasing to the pallet.

We know what we are going to order before we get there.  We know what takes a while to prepare and what can be served quickly.


We have already thought about how the food will smell.  How it will sound when we are eating it.

Will our boy be able to handle those smells and sounds.

When we order things prepared a certain way it might sound different to you, but that is the way that it has to be.

No exceptions.  We didn’t plan for anything other than our usual.


When you bring our food to the table and our boy’s plate isn’t the way that we ordered it, you have to understand that it is a bigger deal than what you think.

To you it’s just lettuce atop a hamburger.

Nothing to get all worked up about.  Just take it off.

It’s just lettuce.

But to him, it’s a lot more than that.


What are you afraid of?

Is it spiders?  Does the thought of them make you shiver?

Maybe it’s snakes?  Does the sight of a snake cause you to scream?  Is your first reaction to run the other way?

Well, it’s just lettuce to you, but to him it’s a spider.  It’s a snake.  It’s the thing that causes the most fear.

It’s not like he has a lettuce phobia but he is terrified of things that are new.  Unplanned.  Unexpected.


To you it’s just lettuce.

To him it’s more than he can handle.

To us it’s just another defeat.


We will be back…eventually.

We will prepare and plan and try again sometime.

When we do show up please try to remember this.

To us it’s about a lot more than lettuce.

Its about our life.

Paint By Numbers

Today I was asked to write down my biggest fears.  Yeah.

I can’t think of anything more frightening than giving a voice to the things that frighten me most.

I wish I could answer spiders or storms or Michael Buble, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth.  Not all of it.

What’s my biggest fear?  Do you really wanna know?

It’s getting to the end of this life and realizing that I never fully accepted our boy’s autism.  That I never got over it.  That I never moved past grieving and into living.  That I never loved him enough.


This week I have been reading through some things that I have written in the past.  This one is nearly 3 years old and my deepest of desires is that these would cease being just words and start being the true reflection of my soul. 

That the story of our crazy, beautiful life would really be the masterpiece that I know God has intended it to be.


Paint By Numbers

Even as a little girl, I loved to create.
Paper, crayons, paint.
Anything that could be transformed.
Anything that could be made into something else.
Some of my favorite things to do were paint by numbers.

There was something magical about that white paper canvas.
Segmented into tiny shapes.
Individual boxes.
Each waiting to be filled. Waiting to be changed.
Waiting to be turned into something beautiful.

As an adult, my life mirrors that paper canvas.


[3] The age Isaak was diagnosed with Autism
[180] The number of pills he takes each month
[80] Estimated divorce rate among parents with Autistic child
[18] The age kids go off to college…most kids…probably not ours

Numbers. Boxes

Stand alone.

Until you begin to add color.

Each box begins to fill.
Each color merges into the one next to it.
Shapes turn into objects.
It begins to be something else.
It begins to be something different.


Transformed by the hand of someone.
One with a plan.
One who knew the color scheme.
One who took the time to color within the lines.
One that changes things.


A painting.
Not just a painting. A masterpiece.
Brush strokes that on their own are not beautiful.
In fact, some are ugly.
A piece of art created for the purpose of being shown.

Not created by someone. Created by the Creator.

Perspective {revisited}

Recently I’ve been rereading some of the things I’ve written over the past few years. Some of the have made me laugh, some have made me cringe and others are a strange reminder of how life revolves in patterns and seasons. This is especially true of this piece.

As a freshman at Purdue studying Fine Arts, I spent an entire semester drawing the same structure. Three days a week. Every week. Four months. The same thing.

There is this place right in the middle of campus where a number of walkways, corridors and buildings converge into an open space. Architecturally and from a space planning sense, it is really quite stunning.

Right in the middle of the open space are these fountains, that seem to be oddly misplaced in the context of what surrounds them. To one side are the buildings that house the schools of engineering. On another side there is the pharmacy school and to yet another side are administrative buildings that house the dean of students and other official types.

But there are these fountains. They seem to spring up from nothing. Whimsical and playful and completely unexpected.

The assignment for the entire semester was to build a portfolio that showed this spot on the map from every possible perspective. To be honest, I liked the idea of spending warm afternoons out on the grass drawing rather than in the studio being lectured. I liked that part far more than I did the idea of drawing it repetitively.

It didn’t take me very long to figure out that there were places that I could plant myself that made drawing the space pretty easy. Finding a spot where I could look at the fountains straight on made rendering it in perspective a breeze. Everything looked right. There was no need to measure angles and figure horizon lines and vanishing points. The view from that spot was aesthetically pleasing.

It was the perspective that mattered.

It took me just about as much time to figure out that there were places that I could plant myself that made drawing that space a nightmare. A spot where lines and angles and forms converge and twist and becomes nearly impossible to replicate. The view from that spot was gritty and tangled.

It was all about the perspective.

It could be where one sidewalk would crash into another, both coming from opposite angles. Or where the slope of the walls of the fountain would intersect visually with the overhang from the roof of a building in the background. Or looking down on them from the corner of a roof top of Schleman Hall where, when you stare for too long, your eyes begin to play tricks on you, like you have been staring at an optical illusion and soon you don’t know which lines are real and which ones are imagined.

I learned so much about composition and technique and scale and art in general that semester.

I learned perspective.

Little did I know at 20 years old that the lessons that I learned sitting in the grass with some paper and a a pencil would not only encourage me later, but at times sustain me.

I learned perspective.

Perspective isn’t this static thing. It’s not a feeling. It’s not an emotional state. It’s not the way you view things.

It’s the way you see them.

Objects don’t change.

A building is a cube. That doesn’t change. No matter where you plant yourself, that building will always have the same walls and roof and windows and doors. The angles and the slope and the pitch of things will always be the same.

If you can’t make sense of what you see, closing your eyes and opening them again is not going to help. If you try it enough times, eventually your eyes may begin to play trick on you. They may begin to see things that aren’t really there. Just like an optical illusion, you can think you see it a different way. But you don’t. It didn’t change.

There is only one way to make what you see in front of you different. You have to get up. Up from where you planted yourself. You have to stand up and move to another spot.

It doesn’t change things.

The building is still a cube. The walls and roof and the windows and the doors. They didn’t change. But the way you see it has.

My life is just like that spot. All around me are things that are black and white. They are schools of thinking that have only one answer. They are diagnosis and diseases and relationships that have no room for interpretation. They are what they are. That will never change.

But there are these fountains. They seem to spring up from nothing. Whimsical and playful and completely unexpected.

If you plant yourself at many spots around them, they don’t make sense. You have to squint your eyes just to even begin to see where one form starts and the other stops. It’s gritty and tangled and nearly impossible to reproduce in any way that would be recognizable, let alone pleasing.

But then there is this other spot. This one place where if you stand and look at just the right time and in just the right way, what you can see takes your breath away. These two concrete forms begin to take on life and they don’t just exist in the same scape, they begin to interact with each other, almost as if they have this dialog that doesn’t need words. The juxtaposition of the two forms as they swirl and dance around and among each other is beautiful.

You can capture that image on paper, it is visually stunning and it makes people stop to stare into it. An image that, had you not moved, would have been lost forever.

The Ones Who Dare To Dream

For the dreamers
The stargazers
The castle builders
The thinkers

For those who dare to believe that fantasies were made for us chasers.

For those who hatch
And crave
And thirst

For those who pursue
And search

For those that inherit
And glean

For us, the romantics
The mystics
The ones who dare to dream