Dear Emmy,

Time feels like my fierce competitor and I’m trying my best to outrun it-me the tortoise and it the hare as the years fly by and I’m grasping at them to slow down. Wasn’t it yesterday I was staring at your baby doll face, trying to figure out who you looked like. Was it me? With your dark skin and button nose? Or was it your daddy with your black curls and deep brown sparkle eyes? Your wide grin-well we both had that…

Wasn’t it yesterday you wrapped your chubby fingers around mine as you hobbled down the sidewalk-unsure of your footing but trudging forward. We worked hard for those steps, supported by velcro straps and pink buckles under your lavender sneaks.

Now here we are thinking about school and real life and getting along with an unprotected world. “Supports and provisions, instruction and strategies, goals and mastery and meetings and typical and less restrictive” and I’m tired just thinking about it. But you’re doing just fine Emmy girl and sometimes I just want to ignore all the lingo and remember that you’re just my little girl.

I love watching you talk to folks-genuinely fascinated by them, asking right away what they’re up to, where they’re going…they may be in a hurry until you flash your smile, ask their name and it stops them dead in their tracks. It may not be the most common or appropriate kind of exchange but its endearing and new and people remember you for the lovely way you assure them that they are interesting and worth stopping for.

I’m often in a hurry of my own, trying to get a handle on the laundry, the paper piles and past due emails. I start a Saturday with all the fierce determination of a drill sergeant until you beg me for the umpteenth time to bake cookies with you. Forgetting at first that this is the way we win the time race, I reluctantly put aside the to-do’s and we pull out the sugar and chocolate and I watch you tap-tap the egg on the mixer bowl still learning the just-right strategy to cracking. I slow down just enough to take in the sweetness of you whisking while little puffs of flour fly over the edge. You find it all so funny and you think you’re almost big enough to do it by yourself. You almost are…

Good thing I still get to fall asleep next to you. You still lay on your belly like you did 7 years ago. Someday you won’t need me here to help you drift off. Someday you’ll do it all by yourself. But not tonight. Tonight I can still watch you breathe in and out, take in your long lashes that lay softly atop your cheeks and count the wisps of hair that have slipped out of your ponytail. Tonight I can hold your soft hand as I thank God for each chaotic moment of our day and the ways you made me laugh. Tonight you’re warm next to me as I wish you every sweet dream the night will give you.

Thanks for it all, Em. For helping me slow down the minutes that make us older. The race against time isn’t really a fair contest but you make the attempt so much more beautiful. I love you.



Photo by Lindsay McIntire

The Resilient

I’ve always wanted to be counted among The Resilient. The ones who can emerge from the rubble of disappointment with not much a look back; brushing off their knees and tending their wounds only to be able to keep marching forward less the weight of regret or guilt. Without the baggage of fear or anxiety over wether they’ve done the right thing. Eyes forward, heart steady, feet sure.

The topic of psychological and spiritual resilience is one of great interest to me. Why is it that some can face great and immense heartbreak and yet rise up in faith and in brave opposition to wayward authority? What fire is in them that they refuse to let be extinguished? I confess that I envy it. What makes one get back up again? And again and again and again…

Could it be that they have a sense of having nothing to lose? Malcolm Gladwell asserts this notion in his book “David and Goliath”  He, based on extensive research, says that it is often the marginal and the damaged, not the privileged and fortunate who are sometimes able to take great risks for the good purpose of producing what is important in this world.

Gladwell writes of the Huguenot pastor Andre Trocme whose ministry took place during WW2. When Andre was ten years old, he was in a car accident that claimed the life of his beloved mother. He went on to save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of Jewish refugees during the war.

He wrote of his mother:

“If I have sinned so much, if I have been, since then, so solitary, if my soul has taken such a swirling and solitary movement, if I have doubted everything, if I have been a fatalist, and have been a pessimistic child who awaits death every day, and who almost seeks it out, if I have opened myself slowly and late to happiness, and if I am still a somber man, incapable of laughing whole-heartedly, it is because you left me that June 24th upon that road.

But if I have believed in eternal realities…if I have thrust myself toward them, it is also because I was alone, because you were no longer there to be my God, to fill my heart with your abundant and dominating life.”

Could it be that in order to be so courageous like Trocme, that something has to die; be it within you or outside of you? Be it self-preservation or losing a hero, a great dream crushed or tragedy unfair and unspeakable. Something dies and you have nothing left to stand on but the God of all time. He who has been and still is unshakable and eternal, He who will not be moved and, if we allow it, could place in us an eternal hope and the heart to acknowledge that this bleeding soul has already lost that of greatest worth on this earth and that nothing else can hurt so much as that loss.

If I can walk away with some piece of this resilience, each day grasping even a small piece of this solid anchor, I’d be grateful. If this means making a decision and walking in it sure and straight, not questioning wether or not I did the right thing in order to appease my conscience or to gain the ever elusive approval of humans-but to simply keep walking courageously toward light, not allowing defeat to swallow me up. If resilience keeps my head from turning this way and that, buffeted by unnumbered distractions and options-I’d be a joyful soul. If I could know that there is no perfect decision while my feet walk this planet; that all is sin-stained and incomplete but there are still decisions to be made that fear cannot dictate. If I can do any of this, if any steadfastness lies within me, if there’s any hope of me joining the ranks of the resilient, it is not of my own conjuring but of Christ’s work in me.

Dear Emmy,

You should hear the things they are saying about you. Now that you’re walking the halls of elementary school. Now that you’re a Kindergartner. They watch you bounce into class every morning, backpack half your size, ponytail swishing. We’re four weeks in to your first big year and I’m fairly certain the majority of people in the building know your name; probably because you’ve asked them for theirs, shaken their hand and said in your familiar way, “It’s nice to meet you!”

You should hear the things they are saying about you. How they didn’t expect such big feelings around the presence of a tiny girl. How they can’t believe the way your big brother and sister hold your hand with pride, arms swinging in sync, fingers laced together till you’re delivered safely to your waiting teachers.

They’re saying things about you, Em. ‘Cause there’s never been anyone else like you at our little neighborhood school. You’re a wonder. Not perfect, not above a bumpy road or complex instruction-but a wonder none the less. You bounded into all of our lives-asking us to notice, asking us to be patient, asking us to slow down, asking us to really see you in all of your God-given uniqueness. You give us a new frame of reference, shifting our predictable landscapes into an altogether different terrain.

You should hear the things they’re saying about you because time with you makes for a pretty happy day. While you’re just doing what you do, you make us laugh, you make us dance, you make us feel like a million undeserved bucks. Proof that what is good in life doesn’t always come easy-we didn’t get here without some blood, sweat and tears. Without desperate prayers and moments of foot-stomping frustration. But here we are none the less, counting our blessings and lessons learned.

They’re saying some good things about you, Em. But we’ve only just begun. We love you Emmy girl.



Dear Emmy,

Winter’s got it’s clutches on us again, it’s freezing fingers killing the green and disguising the sun. Dormant now is growth and bloom, each awaiting the hope of spring to come warm us again. Winter has a way of reminding me that Hope is coming. Just a little longer now to wait. Hope is coming but we must endure the icy months of chilling cold and darkest days.

I see you crying now, the tears running down your soft cheeks, dropping from your chin, they wet the backs of your small hands. Broken mood and broken heart, hurt feelings and pride and plans. I hear your words filled with longing as things didn’t work out the way you wanted. Again. Life can be so very disappointing, darling. I’m sorry that you’re sad. I’ve cried too, at the unfairness of it all…

…but that’s not the end of the story, that’s not the final word….

Listen, I hear Hope coming now. A song riding the frigid wind, ringing with better things, colorful dreams and better mornings. I hear Hope coming now in promises made by the only trustworthy Promiser.

I see you’re having a tough day, Emmy girl. Don’t worry darling, you’ll have another chance. Hope gives us another go and a thousand do-overs; little springs in winter’s midst all the year long. Five winters haven’t been enough for you to know, the waiting doesn’t last forever. Your day in the sun is coming.

There’s silence now, it seems you’re stuck. I know well the days it feels like we are going nowhere. Time stands still and the end seems hidden from sight. That’s when we put on our boots and trudge forward through the deep, formidable snow. One foot, then two Emmy. We’ll get there. Just keep going, just keep hoping.

Yes, winter has a way of reminding me that Hope is coming. For now we wait and life feels good…but not quite whole, not quite right, not quite what it was meant to be. Spring will be here before you know it, it’s right on winter’s heels. Chin up, my darling. I’ll keep you warm. Winter won’t be our forever, it won’t be the end of our story. Hope will push new life up through frozen soil and then we will see the colors again. Just stand by and you’ll see-it’ll be worth the while of waiting and wanting. Hope is coming, I know it.

Love you always,


Dear Emmy,

You’ve changed from the baby girl to the big girl right in front of me. You don’t ever stop-always moving, always finding, always making messes that make me crazy. I wonder what I might write about-what’s changed or where we’re going. The big picture eludes me. But I do see your little tan feet and how pretty you look with your hair back-with whispy pieces brushing your cheek and a curly ponytail behind.

Your biggest brown eyes and the cutest mole underneath one of them. It looks like a speck of the wonder tumbled out and landed right there.  Your pretty, full lips and how you purse them together when you’re thinking of what to say. Your cheeks that are thinning and your small chin that fits right in the cup of my hand. I hold it when I want to capture a moment; slow down the seconds that make you older.

I have a confession to make. I fear that I would have been a very different parent if you hadn’t been born with special needs. I think laziness would have been the daily temptation, sitting back watching life go by in a state of fatigue or surrender. Four babies can wear a Mama out and I think you’d be getting away with an awful lot of trouble. Raising yourself with a little help from your siblings while I dreamed about what was next for yours truly. Or maybe I would be focused on the kid-race of early achievement, signing you all up for this and that, running you all here and there. At the very least, I’d be checking off the boxes of stages and moving right along with little pause for gratitude.

But our story is different. It’s more exciting. Having you has kept me from falling asleep, Em. I have no choice but to stay in this and not give up. It’s not in the cards. I feel like we got to the final lap and learned there were miles more to go. So I’ve had to dig deeper, mining endurance and willingness from a well deep down and asking again for help from God, whose been walking this path with us all along. It can be an exhausting journey but that’s the best kind of journey I think. When I’ve worn myself tired for the good purpose of sacrificial love that manifests in tiny hallelujahs along the way.

You keep me awake, Em.

Awake to summer sun which has always looked good on you. Awake to the time that’s slower in summer…the time we have together that’s not hurried for once; to snuggle-wrestle on the couch with your brother, to have your sister walk you to your seat on the bus in her jammies, to beg your daddy for popcorn late and long after dinner when you should be in bed.

Awake to your curious mind, trying to stay one step ahead of you-but giving you just enough space to take some risks, so I don’t stifle the adventure of childhood. Awake to what you need and what the next season might bring. Awake to your questions, your songs and your stumbles, your affections, your tears and your touch.

Awake to a thousand good mornings of new days and new hopes for you. For all of us.

I love you, Emmy.

Now and Always,



Sometimes I feel like the only thing I know how to do is hustle. I can still hear my high school softball coach yelling, dirt flying from my cleats, as I tried my darndest to get to first base at a respectable speed. I think one time he actually told me to “Unhook the wagon!” So. Good thing I could throw. I guess I was never known for my actual speed, but I had heart and my heart really wanted to be fast.

I hustled my way through college too, rarely missing class and studying hard, graduating magma cum laude. I kept up the actual running too-mostly to try and outrun my freshman 15, but I ran nonetheless. I still had a coach, albeit in my mind, screaming “Dig, dig, dig!”.

I’ve always admired those who hustled, the ones with worn out sneakers and a pile of accomplishments. I’ve also always had this sense that if I stopped hustling than I would drop the ball. And if I dropped the ball, I would lose.

Hustling has served me really well up until now. I was rewarded over and over for it with making teams, getting the grades, crossing off that to-do list like a boss. But now it doesn’t always work out for me so well. Now I realize I may have missed some important little things along the way when I had my nose to the ground, sniffing out the finish line. Now I’m not as satisfied when I arrive on time, mad at everyone else in my path who doesn’t have the same sense of urgency. Now I don’t feel like that hurrying always pays off with a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Now I may be missing the point.

I keep preaching the slow down gospel because I need to keep hearing it. The truth is I am absolutely horrible at letting up the pace. Most of the time I don’t even know how to do anything but work. I thought the stuck-in-your-ways habits were only stubborn in the later years but I’m finding that they have an iron will even now as I round the bend to 38. I’m a little insensitive and unaware sometimes until life grabs my shoulders and looks me in the eye, and asks me to be still again. To stop for even just a little while, to rest before I work again.

I laid in the sun today on our front porch, right smack in the middle of February, the weather an unusual 60 degrees. I listened to the kids next door do bottle flipping and I read a book about writing and how it’s not about perfection but more about clutter and mess and finding treasures right there in the middle of it all. Warmth in winter, words read through the noise, bringing the hustling to a slow and then full…stop.

My form of perfectionism might be working so much that it might just make life the way I want it to be; accomplished and well done. Perfect with smooth edges. The fact that the work is never finished is the thorn in my side and until the day I die, I’ll probably be trying to outrun it or maybe just make it a neck and neck race. But the contest won’t ever be close and if it is, it’ll be but a moment before I’ve fallen behind again. So often I get in my own way and start adjusting the speed of things, thinking faster is more and better and proves my worth. But God shows me differently and I know now that rest is one of the gifts He gives to remind us that we need Him and there are gifts in the slow moments if we choose to stop and notice them.

I’ve even written and re-written this post for a few weeks now, wondering what my point might be. Maybe just a reminder to myself that dropping the ball doesn’t always equal losing and running fast doesn’t always equal winning.

And I think I just needed to get that down in writing. Thanks for reading my friends. Now go take a rest…

Dear Emmy,

My favorite thing that you say might be something I hear almost every day;

Mommy, I wanna hold you.”

What you mean by that is that you want me to pick you up. But I think it means more than that. Because when I hold you Emmy, you do hold me too; in more ways than one. When you hold me, you wrap your arms all the way around my neck so they criss cross in the back, locking me in, enclosing me tight. You tuck your head right in and I bury my face in your unruly dark hair, the rest of the world pausing for that moment with you. That’s a good moment right there, Em.

I have some other favorites too-like when you know I’m worried or upset you say,

Take a deep breath, Mommy…It’s ok, it’s ok…” while you hold my cheek and nod your head.

Empathy flows from your little soul and I didn’t teach it to you. It’s all wound up and knitted into your genes, into the very essence of who you are. It can seem so peculiar when I try to reason it all out, the little different things you say and do. But then I stop trying to explain it and, relieved, I shrug my shoulders and decide I’m so very grateful for each of them, explainable or not.

You like your nails painted purple now and you tell people you like their shirts or their boots, a little fashionista in the making. You ask to wear other women’s jewelry and I think you may know now that you pretty much get what you want with those requests. But before people think you’re all sugar and spice, you call one of us a “mean head” and we hide our laughter and tell you that’s not nice. Your scream can rival an emergency siren in volume, those little lungs an impressive force. I know I need to come looking for you fast when I call your name and you respond with “Nothing!” This absolutely means you are squeezing out an entire tube of toothpaste or decorating your clothes with permanent marker. Just like your siblings, you can bring me right to my wit’s end but you’ve got a knack for bringing me right back, your shenanigans changing to affection at the drop of a hat.

But that thing you say, that you want to hold me…that might just be my favorite thing of all right now. Even though you’re not saying what you mean, what you do say slows my rushing down to a full stop. So I can let you lock me in again. I don’t think I’ll ever correct you-who knows…maybe you know exactly what you’re saying.

I can’t imagine a different life, sweet girl.

Thanks for holding me, Emmy.




The Intern

I was a frantic intern to an impossible boss. The demands and requests were downright oppressive as I tried to navigate a way to success. The word he used most often was “should”. He repeated it ad nauseam, reminding me often of where I stood and how far I had yet to go. The “Should-er” was relentless but it motivated me onward, guilt-ridden and people pleasing, afraid of what might happen if I “didn’t”. My boss’s voice was also loud and obtrusive, I couldn’t hear reason over it or the voices of those most precious to me when they softly whispered, “say no…we need you more…”.

“You should do it or they won’t like you,” he would declare.

“I love it when people like me,” I would respond. And I’d answer yes one more time.

“You should volunteer! Who will do it if you don’t?”

“You’re right, there’s noone else, so please send me,” I dutifully replied.

“You should blow this task out of the water. Be amazing! You don’t want them to think you’re incompetent,” he barked.

“Oh, I’m very competent. I’ll prove it! I can be counted on!” I promised, hand held high.

“While you’re at it, you should be silent about what you need. Eventually you’ll forget about that anyway. But you’ll be fine. Carry on.”

“As you wish…”

The first time I said no to my boss felt like certain destruction. Things were bound to fall apart if I told him I couldn’t, I just knew it. But a forgotten small voice was calling me somewhere else, toward open space and choices and at the end of me, I declined his request for once and I flinched as the sure punishment came my way. I opened my squinted eyes as I moved toward the quiet, ignoring his calls and to my surprise, a growing distance made him smaller and smaller. And the further away from him I got, the less I wanted to work for him. He was a slave driving menace that could not be pleased and would never approve. I could never do enough for the “Should-er” and the crazy thing is…I created him. My boss was only in my mind, a rogue part of my conscience, still trying to prove something to the collective “they” and I was his dutiful intern for a very long time. Always the pleaser, not willing to let him, or anyone down for fear of being disappointing.

This fall I have taken some time to build what my good friend calls margin into my life. Margin being the buffer before the edge of things. The extra space that catches me when life spills over the lines. The breathing room that comes from saying no to the imaginary boss. I’ve cut out some of the unnecessary so I have more than just a few crumbs of patience for my family during the witching hours and bed time.  So I have some leeway to be still and dream again through changing Autumn and the Advent of something much better that is upon us now. I thought I’d be writing away about all of this and all that I’ve learned in this sacred hush and newfound haven.

But I think I’ve just been enjoying the silence.

Dear Kindred Spirit,

I saw your son at the grocery store today. It’s not the first time- I’ve seen him there before, working at the checkout. He’s in the lane that makes it possible for him to be a cashier because he can sit while he works. He’s so friendly, always chatting it up with his customers as he swipes and types and bags. A few years he’s been there now, right? He really is something, your son- his smile and the way he brightens days.

I saw him today, standing this time.

I saw the shiny plastic braces that hugged his legs from ankle to knee and studied his labored gait as he greeted his co-workers and friends. I overheard him tell them he was stopping in one last time to “say goodbye”. I guess he’s moving on… and they all, every one of them, responded with strong handshakes, arms around his shoulders, and firm pats for a job well done-actions that spoke the words, “We’re going to miss you!” They were sad to see him go. I saw it in their eyes. He must have changed them, maybe a little. Or maybe a lot.

You should have seen him today, you would have been so proud.

I wonder what it was like for you? Raising a differently abled son 50 years ago, maybe more. Before all the social awareness, IEP’s and “kindness matters” campaigns. I wonder if you held him tight as a baby, praying prayers into his ear as you rocked him, asking Jesus to hold him too. I wonder how hard you must have worked to help him walk and what the doctors must have told you- if they were hopeful and kind or if they told you only of hardship and limitations.

I can see you taking him to his first day of school, swallowing hard as the tears dared to spill, letting go of his little hand, praying again there would be at least one that was kind to him, one that would circle back to make sure he was coming and asked him to play on the playground. Did you think of him often during those days and wonder how it was going? Did you breathe a sigh of relief when he came home smiling and did your heart twist when he came home rejected? Did you hold his cheeks in your hands, pull his chin up when it dropped and speak life into his soul? You must have because I still see that life in his eyes and in his warm smile now.

I can hear confidence in his words- he must have learned that somewhere. Did you tell him he could be whatever he wanted to be when he grew up? Did you tell him not to curse those legs that didn’t work the way he wanted them to? Did you tell him to remember who he was, to not give up or feel sorry for himself and to press on when he felt like he couldn’t? I think you did. And all of that loving endurance must have paid off when he graduated high school, when he got his first job, his first home, his own good life.

I think you were a pioneer, not by choice but by unique necessity. You braved a world scarcely understood long before I’ve had to. Thank you. Thank you for walking it first, taming the path a bit for the rest of us coming behind you. I have a little dark haired beauty who is differently abled too. You’d love her if you met her. We’re still in the holding days and the early years of sending her off… the days where I wonder what it might be like for her when she’s big and I practice the words that she will need to hear in the growing years. You’ve never met me or even known that my little dark haired wonder  exists but you have touched me through your son’s smile and the story that I’ve imagined behind it. You’ve given me a sneak peek of the later chapters, a sweet spoiler alert that moves me onward and tells me the good endings aren’t always the easy ones. They are the ones that have seen overcoming and love-stubborn perseverance.

You should have seen him today, you would have been so proud.

The Visitor Stays

{You can read about The Visitor’s Arrival here.}

Our visitor had no intentions of leaving, so life began with him now in it. We thought, moved and planned with him in mind as he now influenced every step we took. He, like all visitors, carried luggage that now needed unpacked and moved in as we allowed room.

His first days in our home were the most difficult. Even speaking his name felt like an intrusion, a confirmation of the interruption he was causing. We felt we had been just fine without him, now allowing him in felt a little like we were giving in or giving up and it certainly felt like we were a spectacle to behold. I could almost hear the whispers of others…

“How are they doing?”

“Do you think they’ll be ok?”

“Please pray for them-they have a visitor that isn’t leaving…”

Sleepless nights blurred to hazy days when I would look out the window longingly at the greener grass of normal in everyone else’s yards, wondering if we could at least attempt a life as close to theirs as possible. I’d turn back to stark new reality and stumble over our visitor’s bulky and awkward suitcase, still not used to its presence, spilling its contents onto the floor. This big bag of uncertainty was now a mess on my floor to be dealt with, to be confronted, to be folded and made sense of. New colors, strange patterns, foreign fabrics…everything was unfamiliar and it seemed there was no place to put it all away-so there it stayed, an intrusive reminder that there were things I couldn’t make neat and tidy.

But after a few weeks of stepping over the mess, paralyzed to put any of it away, I got down on my knees and began putting things into a semblance of order the best I could. A little bit here, a little more there but only what was necessary to survive, nothing more. It seemed he was asking so much of us, our visitor. His requests were unending which I felt was rather presumptuous if you really want to know. He asked of me give up the safe feeling of knowing things would be ok. He asked me to consider opening my hands to predictable, calculated days and to accept hours of waiting and questions. He declared that I did not have simple answers when someone asked how I was doing. It was more complicated now, with 100 shades of “fine” or “not fine”. He requested I sit and watch microscopic milestones unfold, an inch at a time for months on end.




I found him a little rude if I was honest. Showing up uninvited, expecting us to move over and give him room. He felt loud and obnoxious without saying a word and I wished he’d never come.

But there was redemption in his story too. He offered a new lens with which to view life now. We moved slower now, our quick answers quieted, and there was newfound thankfulness for the miracles we had grown bored of. Empathy multiplied and there was kinship with others who had visitors of their own. Patience for chaos and celebrations for things we never saw as praiseworthy were the way of things now. New dreams formed out of the dust of our old ones and expectations were now framed with an open mind instead of rigid corners.

And time has passed and he’s become quieter. His requests continue but they don’t feel so offensive and foreign.  He stays on, our visitor. He resides with us always, a permanent fixture I’ve become so accustomed to and at the same time will never fully understand. And there are many more bags to unload-I keep discovering them as he leaves them out for me. I imagine we will be unpacking forever, each season presenting a new wardrobe of his. And all at once I’ll realize again that things are not as they should be and just as they should be all at the same time.