Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Josh...

Josh will be 10 years old at precisely 4 a.m.'ish tomorrow morning.  Life can change in a moment and our lives were changed forever.  I know tomorrow will be a busy day for us so I wanted to take a moment today to remember him... to wish him the happiest of birthdays.

1st birthday!

Dear Josh...

I love you with all of my heart.

Nobody that walks this earth can make me as silly happy and as incredibly frustrated as you can... all within the same 10 or 15 seconds.  You have a knack...

You are kind, funny and silly.  You are brave.  You love life like not many people know how to love life.  I'm certain that the secret lies within your extra chromosome.  People say that a lot you know... that those with Down Syndrome are always so happy.  Obviously that's not true 100% of the time, but I'd say it's pretty close.  I wish people would say that about me... that I'M always so happy.  I admire that in you.

I know that not everything comes easy to you.  I know that you have to work extra hard to sit still and concentrate and work hard.  I know that it's sometimes difficult to play with your friends because they don't understand your body language or your spoken language... but you still love them.  You love your friends with a fierce love... even when they turn their backs on you or don't take time with you...  you never give up on them.  I admire that in you.

Thank you for never holding a grudge, Josh.  Sometimes, when you frustrate me with your stubbornness (another little treat that lies within your extra chromosome), I want to scream.  And sometimes I do, don't I?  It helps that you say something really dumb in the heat of the moment because it brings me back to reality... and makes me laugh.  You never stay mad at me when I lose my cool.  I admire that in you.

When it comes to making others smile... you certainly know how to do it up right.  Jared is so jealous of you, ya know?  He wishes he could just walk up to random girls and hug them.  You have won over all of his (girl) friends and Caleb's (girl) friends... and even the boys like to be around you.  You seem to make everyone happier Josh... just with your presence.  I do love watching Jared and Caleb and Abby's friends with you... even if they have never been around anyone like you, you seem to draw them in. It doesn't take you long to win them over. It warms my heart.  I admire that in you. 

And last (but certainly not least), I love the way you love God and church and singing hymns and giving testimonies and praying.  You seem to know Him more intimately than I do.  You are not ashamed and will drop everything and pray... at home, in church, in school, at Wal-Mart.  You seem to know from whence your help comes.  I admire that in you.

Who knew, those short but so so long 10 years ago, that you would be so loved?  So awesome?  Such an important piece in our family.  Our family would not be complete without you.  God knew that we needed you and that we needed Down Syndrome in our lives to teach us, grow us, help us love more deeply.  He knew better than we did because we were scared. 

I wondered what you would be like at 10 years old.  I wondered what you would look like at 10 years old.  This seemed to be the age that I was most concerned about... 10.  Double digits.  I worried about school and friends and clothes and speech and vision and sickness and whether or not you'd be over weight or potty trained... and now none of that matters Josh.  YOU taught me that Josh.  God gave me you and used you to change me.  I like me better now. 

I don't know what the future holds for us.  I know this whole world is big and scary and uncertain... and I know that not everyone values you or what you have to offer.  But you will always have me and Dad, Josh. To the best of our ability, we will stand up for you, stand behind you and be there for you until death do us part.  We will encourage you AND be hard on you... because we know how far you have come and how much further you have to go. It's our job to help others to realize what you have to offer.  And we take that job seriously, Josh. 

I love you with all of my heart birthday boy.  We've come a long way baby!!  Happy double digits. 


(I was SO sick... excuse my appearance)

And now...

And just a quick shout out to everyone that has played a part in getting me to this day... and there are SO many of you that deserve to be mentioned (and my memory stinks but I'm gonna give this a shot)...

Kathie... for being there on the day he was born and continuing to be there to this very day.  Thank you for not letting me worry about 10 years old way back then.  

Aunt Judy... for being SO happy that we had a baby with Down Syndrome.  You and Uncle Bob knew something that we didn't know that day 10 years ago.  We love you for your constant prayer and support.

Our church family... the family of God.  Honestly, there isn't enough room here to give appropriate thanks.  We love you.

Caleb, Jared and Abby... God hand picked our family and you guys are simply my heart.  Thank you for even getting upset with Josh sometimes because it pushes him to learn... and pushes me to see where I fall short in teaching him.  

Mrs. Morneault... as his kindergarten teacher you encouraged us to dream big and let Josh be the one to tell us when it was too much for him.  Honestly, we have you to thank for most of where he is now.

K-5 school staff... you guys are the BEST.  Every. Single. One. Of. You. 

Ms. Kellie... for being you.  You are everything I ever dreamed Josh would have at school.  And more.

My husband... for grounding me when I needed grounding, for being human and for loving us so much.

My inlaws... for being there for the other kids when I wasn't able and for helping in so many big and small ways.  And mostly, for your prayers.

Ben, Sam, Micah, Hannah & Noah... cousins... you guys pretty much know how much you mean to us.  Josh loves the 5 of you with a sincere passion.  Thank you for loving him back so wonderfully.

My mom... for always listening and praying.  Thanks for being genuinely happy for how far Josh has come and always reminding me of that.

My God... thank you certainly doesn't seem like enough.  It doesn't even begin to touch the surface of my gratitude.   Please continue to guide me, teach me and grow me.  I love you.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy World Down Syndrome Day...


Yes people, I know I'm a week late in posting this but it has taken me this long to figure out how to do it (and I don't even know if this works so please let me know if it doesn't).

Abby and Josh are BFF's.  

Abby made this video to celebrate her brother, whom she loves with her whole heart.  She is his biggest advocate (even bigger than me) and his biggest cheerleader (way bigger than me).  She spends time with him, is patient with him and loves him unconditionally.  

She has an uncanny ability to understand his language (altho I'm sure she makes it up 
and get him to do what she wants him to do (which is both good and bad because 
he waits on her hand and foot if she asks, lol) 

Their relationship is special (and envied by the other siblings in the house).   Abby wants to grow up and have a son/daughter with Down Syndrome... that says something.  

Enjoy (if it works)!

Days 14, 15 & 16...

My heart is full today. 

First and foremost, I am still a non-complainer.  This week has been unusually busy in the kid's activity and doctor appointment areas... and we have had house guests... but I think I have done okay with remaining calm, cool and collected (well, maybe not cool as my mother was here and likes the house very VERY warm so I was anything BUT cool lemme-tell-ya). 

(Of course, having the house guests that I did (mother and sister) means that I haven't had to cook OR clean since they arrived so that sure does help decrease grumbling on my part.  BIG thank yous and I love you so muches to them.)

(I know muches isn't a word).

Anyway... onto days 14, 15 and 16 of this 30-day husband encouragement challenge...

Day 14:  Integrity.  I love that word... integrity.  I'm not even sure all that it encompasses but I know it's an honorable word.  I have done devotionals with my boys about that word and I want them to strive for that title... 'a man of integrity'.  Ms. DeMoss uses the words "honest, faithful, genuine" when she describes integrity and my dear husband is all of those.  One of his most used sayings is "it's who I am" and he doesn't compromise that.  He IS quiet and doesn't often speak openly about his faith, but he has a quiet, strong faith that I have witnessed move mountains. 

Day 15:  Spiritual strength:  I know this is an area that Jon feels he struggles (a lot) in.  I know he doesn't FEEL strong in the Lord.  I know he feels weak.  I know he feels like he has done a lot of wrong and stumbles around every corner... but he doesn't see what I see.  I see someone who keeps on keeping on.  I see someone who tries hard to please God (and his wife). I see someone who is far from perfect in himself but... day by day... is being made perfect in God.  I see strength and admire it.

Day 16:  Communication.  If there is one thing Jon and I are not, it's good communicators.  We are learning and improving and we have come a long way, but we have a LONG way to go.  He's always saying "I told you that" and I'm always saying "you never told me that".  Yep... far from perfect are we.

I'm half way there... livin' on a prayer (okay, so that last part about livin' on a prayer just came singin' out of nowhere easily... is that an old 80's song or something???).  It fits tho.  Perfectly.  I'm half way to the end of my 30-day husband encouragement challenge and I am living day to day by prayer.  And that prayer is being answered.  Mightily.  I'm blessed, encouraged and humbled.

They matched from head to toe for church
(and you would have thought Josh won the lottery)

 Nice catch...
(Jon... not the fish, lol)

My mother gave me a little golden nugget or two of advice before we said good-bye this morning.  

She looked me in the eye (hers with tears) and told me to tell Jon I love him often.  She said a lot isn't even enough.  She said she never told my father enough and wishes she could go back and do it over, tell him she loves him just one more time (she's on the other side of 85 and my father has been gone for almost 16 years).  

She also told me to kiss in front of the kids.  She said they need to see that.  

I thank God for my mother and the example she is in my life.  Wise words from a wise heart.  

Now go kiss your husband in front of your kids... 




Monday, March 25, 2013

Days 8 thru 13...

hahahahaha... if this isn't how my life goes, I don't know what is.  Posting every day is almost impossible.  Life happens, everyday. 

I cleaned for someone last Wednesday and Thursday and then my kids said they needed to eat.  Do your kids require food every day?  It was clean for others and feed my kids or clean for others and blog... I think I chose wisely.  They seemed to appreciate it.  Honestly tho, I do NOT know how working mothers get everything done.  Hats off to working moms today, seriously.

That said, I have had several emails and in real life comments assuming that I fell off the "no complaining train' and that's why I wasn't posting.  Well, I'll have you know, I'm still on this fast moving train and enjoying the ride immensely. 

In fact...

Jon said Saturday... and I quote... "this has been the best week and a half of our whole marriage".

That's both a very sad and a very wonderful commentary, isn't it?  Let's focus on the wonderfulness of this, if you don't mind.  Because truly, it HAS been wonderful.


I cannot take even one little bit of credit.

I am a complainer by nature.  I wake up on a beautiful morning and think about how muddy it is outside.  I find a great sale on grapes and wish that watermelon was on sale.  I wash all my windows and feel awful because I didn't get the floors done.  Yes, there is always something to complain about.

God has blessed me beyond anything I deserve during this week and a half, that is certain.  I have prayed that He would help me not complain and I have thanked him over and over (and over and over and over) for the attitude He has allowed me to have.  It is NOT me that is being positive, it is God IN me.  It doesn't even FEEL like me, it FEELS like God.  It's odd and weird and wonderful. 

Just to (briefly) touch on what the challenge has asked of me...

Day 8:  Faithfullness.  Jon is faithful.  He's a faithful husband, faithful father and, mostly importantly, a faithful follower of Christ.  He hasn't always felt close to the Lord but has continued in his walk, pressing in and encouraging us (his family) to press in too.

Day 9:  Listen.  On this day I was asked whether or not I take time to listen to my husband.  She used the verse "... let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:" (James 1:19).  This very verse was brought to my attention at least 6 times last week.  The kids and I did a devotional on their snow day and that was the verse used, I heard it on 2 different radio shows, it was mentioned at Wednesday night Bible study, and Jon brought it up during a family devotional last week... then here... do you think God is trying to tell me something?  Yes, I think so too.

Day 10:  Appreciation.  I appreciate Jon more than anybody could imagine.  He often asks me what I would do without him around here (teasing but he knows it's true).  He gets things done... thankfully, because there is so much I don't know how to do (computers and homework come to mind, but there's much much more).

Day 11:  Respect.  I respect Jon.  A lot.  I admire the way he lives his life and his convictions. 

Day 12:  Grace.  Do I extend grace to him when he makes a mistake?  Um... I have for this past week and a half and I think that's enough said about that (honesty at it's best right there). 

Day 13:  Intimacy.  For obvious reasons I will not address this subject, but I will say that it's important to have an intimate relationship with God first and foremost... then everything else falls into place. 

I'm thankful for this challenge and I'm thankful for the work that God is doing in my heart.  I'm also thankful for the work God is doing in Jon's heart through all of this.  I'm certainly not saying this is it for complaining.  I have another half month to go before the end of this challenge and I pray that I can do this.  I'm trusting in His grace because I know mine isn't trustworthy.

  Jon loves this picture of he and I
I love him.  

I am a living and breathing example that God still performs miracles.

Have a great week.  My mom and sister are here visiting.  It has been so long since they were here and I was beginning to feel sad thinking that my mother may never again visit my home.  I'm thrilled they are here and plan to enjoy every second of it... without complaint. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 7...

My husband hugged and thanked me yesterday.  It has been a good week. 

That said, as simple as yesterday's challenge was, today is on the very opposite end of the spectrum.  It's difficult.

You see, today's challenge is all about money.  You know... that stuff that doesn't grow on trees?  The stuff that we never have enough of?  Yeah, that. 

Today I am supposed to take a good look at how he (we) handle finances and either praise him for making wise decisions or encourage him to improve.  Out of respect for him (because he is very personal about this issue), I will keep this short.   

In the very beginning of our marriage, we decided that I would stay at home and raise the children.  Neither of us realized the financial implications of this, but neither of us cared either.  Today, we FULLY understand the financial implication... and still don't care.  

Well, that's not entirely true.  We're just like everyone else in that we'd love to do more, go more, buy more, give our kids everything they ask for... but we know that's not all it's cracked up to be.  I love staying home, don't get me wrong, but often struggle with saying no to the movies, ordering pizza... and Jared's dream is to learn to ski (and he'd be SO good at it) but we simply cannot afford it (literally brings me to tears when I think about it). 

We're human, but that doesn't change the fact that we are doing what we feel God wants us to do and that's WAY more important than any ski trip (remind me of that as necessary, okay?).

We have made financial mistakes and we have had financial victories.  We celebrate both because God has used both to grow us.  We have learned hard lessons and been blessed beyond measure when we didn't deserve it.  Finances are something that we have spent a lot of time arguing and losing sleep over (doesn't everyone?) but, in the end, as long as we are on the path that God has set before us, and as long as we have each other, we can take whatever the world throws at us (like recently losing 20% of our income due to government furloughs).

I am proud of my husband for working hard and for standing by his convictions that his wife should be a 'keeper of the home'.  It would obviously be easier if I got a full time job...

Or would it?

 My big boys...

Trying to nap at the lake...

The kids artwork... hahahahaha!!!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 7...

Let the whole world know... I made it thru an entire Sunday without complaining (all pats on the back welcome as I don't think I can remember this ever happening before).

That said, Jon and I did have a little discussion on the way home from church last night.  We decided to call it a discussion because it didn't involve raised voices and it wasn't about either of us.  It was a conversation about bothersome issues and what could be done to solve the problem (because we love to solve everyone else's problems). Nothing got accomplished except that he agreed I wasn't complaining as much as discussing (phew!). 

So all in all, I think yesterday was a total success thankyouverymuch.

And today's challenge is a piece of cake.  Simple.

I am to compliment him on his talents, abilities, hobbies, skills, interests... and, let me assure you, the man has talent and interest in just about every area known to man.

I am not kidding when I tell you that Jon can pick up just about any object and make music with it.  He has an amazingly beautiful, God-given, musical talent.  I have heard him play the guitar, flute, drums, piano, harmonica, violin, clarinet, recorder, organ and trumpet.  I have heard him make music out of objects that weren't meant for making music.  It's just in him.  It's what he does. 

He can sing too (beautifully, I might add).  I'm thankful that he has passed this onto our children... this uncanny ability to carry a tune...because I, unfortunately, do not own a musical bone in my body.  It makes my heart sing tho, does that count? 

One of my very favorite memories of when the kids were really small is of all the times Jon would just get out his guitar and make silly songs up as he went along.  He would sing of how Caleb fell in a puddle and had to muddle home to an arms up in the air belting out his name mother...or how Jared jumped from a tree, fell on the hose, broke his nose and watered his sister.  The kids would roll their eyes, giggle, add to the song, invariably get all wound up and make a lot of noise... but oh what I wouldn't give to have that noise back. 

Now when he does it... the silly songs involve girls and dates and driving cars or dressing to impress... but somehow he always manages to include the arms up in the air belting out their name mother.

Woodworking is another of his (many) talents.  He has built me many pieces of furniture over the years... my lovely (surprise for our wedding) hope chest, bookshelves, beds, end tables, a (huge) saltwater fish tank stand, a swingset and treehouse, computer armoire, bathroom cabinet and mirror... not to mention the acoustic guitar(s), music stand, speakers and various other things he has rigged up with wood to keep our home in working order. 

Other interests include hunting, fishing, boating, traveling, painting, hiking, camping, canoeing, exploring... let's just say there is not much down time.

It's funny how these things are passed along... Jon is so much like his dad in these areas and Caleb is so much like Jon. The 3 of them do an awful lot of pondering and puttering, that's for certain. 

One set of the pair of speakers...
(sadly and I'm quite embarrassed to admit that they are now
housed in the basement because I didn't love them in my living room)

 One of several guitars... 
(this picture impresses me... intricate and confusing)

Excuse the mess, but this photo shows my hope chest, one of
 the 2 tank stands, more speakers and a very cute little boy who is all grown up now!

So yes, I have married a man of many talents.  He often teases me that I'm jealous.

I might be, yeah... a little... so what? 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day 6...

If ever there was a day that I would blow this challenge, it would be a Sunday.

You have heard about those families that fight, argue and complain all of Sunday morning while they are getting ready for church, only to show up in the parking lot all smiles and cheeriness?  Well, I'm sad to admit that we've been that family a few times too many.  I know Satan does everything in his power to discourage me on Sunday mornings and I am also sad to admit that I often let him.

And... if it had not been for Jon gently reminding of this challenge (I don't mean gently as in sweetly either... I mean gently as in getting in my face with a big grin and announcing that I was about to blow it... yeah, that gently), I would surely have let Satan win again today.

I almost went there, but I didn't.  

Thank God.

Today's challenge is to edify my husband before others, especially family members... his (my inlaws), mine (his inlaws), ours (our children).

I most definitely lack in this area with my inlaws.  I do not often praise Jon in front of his parents or siblings.  Sometimes I want to, but something holds me back.  I will try to be more mindful of this.

As far as my family, well... they are more apt to praise him to ME.  My mother is constantly telling me what a good husband he is, what a good father he is, what a good man he is.  She has always seen something very special in Jon and she doesn't keep silent about letting him (or others) know.  I'm thankful for her praises as I believe they mean an awful lot to him.  From here on out, I will try to beat her to the punch... the encouragement and edification punch. 

Lastly, our kids know how awesome I think their Dad is.  I say so often.  He does too... compliment me in front of them.  Perhaps we ARE doing something right afterall?

Not taken this morning, but the same face that was telling me not to blow it!  
See what I have to put up with?

Father's Day a few years back...

 More Father's Day fun...

He says she's not his favorite?  

Until tomorrow...


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 4...

I'm posting early this morning because this no complain' bit is getting me a new kitchen floor!!! 

Wow... who knew?! 

We're going out today (me, Jon and Josh... the 3 muskateers for the rest of forever, lol) to look, price, figure things out.  We have needed one for a good number of years but now it finally looks like a reality.  I'm sorta picky in that I have ceremic tile taste on a cheap (and I mean cheap) vinyl budget.  We'll see if they have improved the vinyl any since last time we looked... I really want it to look like real slate.  Ya think?

So today, according to the 30-day husband encouragement challenge website (that's a mouthful!), I am to let him know how much I appreciate and value his work, his job, his career outside of our family.

And I do.

When we were first married and had just finished building our first home, Jon received a job offer at the place he works now.  I was stunned, scared, seriously feeling sorry for myself that we had to move so far away from my childhood home.  We put that brand new house up for sale the very month after we made our first payment.  We had Caleb.  And Jared was on the way.  Yeah, stressful.

But it was just what the doctor ordered (the doctor being God, of course). His current employer has allowed me to be a stay at home mom for all these years.  We haven't lived extravagantly or ever taken a vacation that doesn't involve an outhouse, but we're good.  So good.

He has worked his way up a little and now has people under him.  I KNOW I could never manage people.  They seem to like him okay tho... and he REALLY likes them.  He loves getting to know people... really getting to know them. He prays for them.  I admire that.

He doesn't really bring his work home for a couple of reasons... the first is because he'd have to kill me if he told me anything that happens at work (government) and the 2nd is because he talks in code, in numbers, in a totally weird language that I obviously don't understand. When he leaves work he leaves work there.  I admire that.

Over the years, I have tended toward handing the reins over to him as soon as he walks in the door.  When the kids were small, I was tired... physically drained.  Thankfully now (after many silly arguments), I recognize how 15 minutes of down time does a body good. 

If he can be quiet, perhaps alone or perhaps with 2 or 3 or 4 kids literally wrestling him to his back on the bed (yeah, he considers that down time), then the evening goes much more smoothly.  I try to smile and ask him how his day was (failing often at this very thing).  He calls his home his 'sanctuary' and that, folks, is serious business.  I work hard to make sure it stays that way (again, often failing but recognizing the importance of it).

And today... his day off... he's outside chopping wood.  He cut it last night after work and now he's chopping it.  Both boys currently have shoulder injuries so the wood bit has fallen on HIS shoulders for much of this winter.  Without complaint.  I haven't heard him complain... not even once... about the responsibilities of keeping us warm. 

That's my guy.  Hardworking. 

 Not the greatest photo of Josh, but yeah... the 3 of us...
for the rest of forever.  

Ahhh... the good life.
Coffee, camping and contemplating the day's activities 
(something he does every morning of every camping trip and he takes it very seriously)

Picnicing in the backyard
complete with cool-aid moustaches

  Somewhere beautiful...

Do you think if I keep up this no complaining thing I might get new window screens by summer?  

A girl can dream, right?

Have a lovely weekend... enjoy whatever God has for you this day (without complaint).  I know I'm going to try.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 3...

Okay, so I really want to complain today. 

I have a pounding terrible awful won't go away no matter the amount of Ibuprofen I take headache and I just want to whine about it. 

But I won't. 

I have not complained to or about my husband in 2 days.  Yes, I'm fully aware that it sounds pitiful to most normal people... 2 days, nothin' to write home about.  But it's so incredibly not like me... not at all.  I daydreamed about writing texts to him today.

But I didn't. 

Today the challenge is to thank my husband for being considerate. 

He loves to play loud music (Celtic, Christian, 80's... it matters not as long as it's loud) but refrains when I'm home because he knows how I love quiet.  

He takes his shoes off when he comes inside because we have more mud than the Embden Mud Runs.

He collects and washes all of the eggs because he knows how dry and crackly my hands are.

He wears his work pants/shirts 2 or 3 times before throwing them into the wash.

He cleans up all animal vomit (and trust me, our dog has issues so this is HUGE).

The more I type, the wider I smile... ahhhh... the glamorous life of a Lewis... mud, chickens and dog vomit, yeeehawww!!

And these might seem like petty things to some, but to me, they show me that he loves me.  He is considerate of my ears, my hands, my mountains of laundry and my sanity... he's also considerate of my heart and tells me that he loves me nearly every single day (even when I complain).

Even tho it's been a not so hot day, spending a little time thinking on these things has changed my mood around.   I'm thankful I married a considerate man.

Oldies but goodies!

Do you think he'll buy pizza tonight?  (I won't complain if he doesn't, I promise).


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 2...

One day down, 29 more to go. 

I didn't complain yesterday at all.  Ha... howdoyalikethat??  And NO, the roof did not fall in and nobody died... but it WAS a bit difficult.  The funny part is that when I stopped myself, not only did I realize how OFTEN I complain, but also became keenly aware of how dumb the things are that I complain about.


And this could become comic relief for Jon and the kids.  As we sat at dinner, I thanked him for choosing me (just like my post yesterday).  He looked at me like I had 2 heads and the kids all did double takes.  Everyone sat still for a moment before they asked me why I was being nice to Dad.  Okay then...

Before the end of the night, I wound up telling him the plan and then he REALLY laughed.  An evil laugh.  An oh good now what can I do to make her complain laugh.  Not even kidding.  He's trouble I'm telling you. The biggest instigator alive I'm telling you. 

Okay, so today I am supposed to think about all the ways that he serves me and thank him for it. 

(I can tell you one thing, he doesn't serve me by picking up his dirty socks from the living room floor... I digress... or regress... both fit nicely here.)

Serve me?  Hmmm...

1.  He works hard to pay all the bills AND he handles the finances (well, it's a joint effort in that we make decisions together, but I haven't written a check in years).
2.  He is my 'Jon-of-all-trades' and can fix (jerry-rig) anything under the sun.
3.  He does homework with the kids (I stopped being able to help them at around the 4th grade).
4.  He plays with the kids (this has always been his 'job' and he's quite good at it).
5.  He cooks on occasion (and is quite good at that too).
6.  He handles everything outside of these 4 walls (lawn, snow, pool, garden, wood... just to name a few).
7.  He keeps us warm (we've only lived here for 13 years, why would I need to learn how to build a fire?)
8.  (If I was doing these in order, this would be #1...)  He leads our home spiritually.  He always points us upward instead of inward and he tries hard to encourage us all to love and serve God first and foremost. 

I know there's more as he very rarely sits down.  He likes to be busy, mind and body. 

I think I'll keep him.

"the house the Jon built"
(I tease him that we live in the 'house that jack built'... held together with duct tape and dust.)

Adding this photo because my sister mentioned my dad not being at our wedding.  We did see him, 
but it was at the hospital.  Somewhere, there is a picture of he and I with Jon.  
Jon always says he wishes he had known him better.  I miss that man.

I hope those of you who are joining me had a great start too.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

30-day husband challenge...

So I was listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss after dropping the kids off this morning and she issued a challenge.  I only caught the end of her program but it was enough to inspire me to take the challenge.  It's called the 30-day husband encouragement challenge.  That's something I don't do a whole lot of... encourage my husband... so I thought, why not?  I'm in.

The challenge involves hard work.  In fact, it involves me transforming my personality a whole three hundred and sixty degrees.  I can't complain to him or about him for 30 whole days.  I can't complain about him to anyone else for 30 whole days either (that one isn't so hard as I have been working hard at that for a number of years)... but I do an awful lot of complaining to him and about him right to his face. 

The 2nd part of the challenge is the easier part (notice I said easier, not easy).  I am to encourage him and thank him both privately and (ACK!) publically for 30 days.  I thought,  what better way than on my blog (I'm not sure Jon will agree with being the center of attention on my blog for 30 days... we'll see).  

So... you all get to humor me as I embark on what looks overwhelming at the very moment.  And that's not to say we have a bad marriage, Jon and I... quite the contrary actually... I think we have a fairly good marriage.  But I also think every marriage has room for (lots of) improvement and every marriage takes (lots of) hard work and commitment... and (lots of) encouragement.

Ms. DeMoss testified on her radio program that she has received letters from changed marriages, improved marriages, closer marriages, more Godly marriages.  I'm definitely in.

Day 1 of the 30-day husband encouragement challenge...

(I read up on this a bit on her website and she gives pointers about how and where to start, what to thank him for or encourage him with on the first day, the second day and so on.  They are just ideas... we can use them or come up with something totally random.   I decided to go with her first day idea, which is to thank Jon for choosing ME, above all others, to be his wife and partner in life.)

Dear Husband:  

Thank you so much for choosing me to be your wife.  I am so thankful that God worked out each detail in YOUR life... even allowing you to get a job at the same hospital I worked in.

(And let me remind you of your interview... how you showed up early so decided to run into walmart quickly for a birthday gift, got locked out of your truck in the pouring rain and had to have the Waterville Police Department deliver a soaking wet you to the hospital's front door... and they still picked you for the job... yeah, that was God.  Really now, looking back, that should have given us a LITTLE indication of how crazy our lives together might be, hahaha!!).  

I can't say I deserved you in those early months, but you saw something special in me and you let me know that.  I appreciate that you overlooked the surface and took time to get to know my underneath.  I appreciate all the long talks and encouragement you gave ME during that time.  

Thank you for believing in the possibilities of a future with me.  We've come a long way baby... SO thankful to have you beside me for both the good and not so good.  

Thanks for choosing me.  


So that's it folks.  That wasn't so hard.  In fact, it was kinda fun to think about the early days... when everything was new and exciting.

Anyone wanna take the challenge with me?  If so, leave comment here, on facebook or shoot me an email... we can encourage each other as needed along the way.  I dare you...


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday...

I need some serious thankfulness in my life so I'm jumpin' on the bandwagon of so many other bloggers called "thankful thursday".

I do an awful lot of complaining.  I can find something wrong with just about anything. I'm not proud of that.  I have been working (for years) on changing that because I know it's not how God desires for me to act.  I think maybe I'm a wee tiny bit better than when I started to take notice... but I have such a long way to go.

Seriously, I don't even realize I'm complaining.  It's a case of open mouth out comes complaint. 


Thankful Thursday...

Today I am thankful for Caleb.

Caleb would tell you that he's the one that gets into trouble around here most.  And I won't argue that.  Part of that is because, really, Jon and I have no idea what we're doing half the time and the oldest gets the brunt of our parenting blunders.  He's our experiment. 

But... Caleb would also tell you that he brings much upon himself.  He's a prankster.  He's an instigator.  He has a love/hate relationship with being the center of attention.  He readily admits (and thinks it's a little funnier than it probably really is) to causing a lot of ruckus at school but the teachers would NEVER think it was him.  Yep, he IS Jon's son (any of you that know Jon know how true that statement is, lol).

All that said tho, I (obviously) wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.  Caleb has my heart.  When he was born, something in me changed and I'm so incredibly thankful to be his mom.  I'm proud of who he is and who he isn't.  


I love you Caleb (even if I WAS complaining about you a little bit ago and dad had to set me straight, remind me of all the good qualities that make you you).  You make me laugh (and cry).  You have so much going for you... so much to give... keep seeking for His will in your life and I'll keep praying.  

Now, what about all of you readers?  What are YOU thankful for on this lovely Thursday evening?  




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spread the word to end the word...

Do you know what today is?  It's March 6th... yes... but do you know the significance of March 6th?

It's the day that the campaign called "spread the word to end the word" has chosen as their annual day of awareness.

What word, you ask?


It's all over facebook today... everyone is writing wonderfully eloquent blog posts about how awful it is to use that word and any form of that word (like retarded, tard, etc).

I agree that the word is hurtful and makes me feel sad.  But I'm not eloquent in explaining why.  I'm not one of those bloggers who is going to get posted and reposted all over facebook because I said something fabulous or life changing or even slightly meaningful.

I'm just a mom with a kid with Down Syndrome who suddenly feels like throwing up whenever I hear someone use the word retarded.  The nausea doesn't last long tho, it quickly turns to anger... then fear.

Yes, fear.

I'm scared of speaking up and being laughed at, or told I'm being silly or... the worst one... being told they weren't talking about Josh and didn't mean anything toward the population of people who actually DO carry a diagnosis of mental retardation.

Of course you didn't mean anything.  I understand.

Jon says he hears it every day at work.  The kids hear it every day at school.  The school is more acceptable somehow... they are just kids... but Jon works with other adults.  I was shocked to hear how often adults use this word and think it's okay.  It's as common as the word silly, I'm told.  Don't misunderstand, I feel like kicking the kid in the shin when I hear one of them say it (should I admit that publically?)... but again, they ARE kids.  They need to be taught.

I have read some great blog posts today and many of them have shared my heart.  Many moms have inspired me to be more brave, but I'm just not sure I have it in me.

This is where you come in.  You can help.

Since I have shared my thoughts here, I ask that you simply think about this.  Take my heart into consideration the next time that word almost slips from your mouth.  Think about Josh and the countless others who carry a diagnosis of mental retardation.  It's demeaning and hurtful... and it makes them sad and feel like they don't matter.

Josh matters.

And then, if you feel led, share it with someone else.  If I tell you and you tell someone and that someone tells another person... well, we might make a difference after all.

That's all I got, folks.  It's far from eloquent or preachy or anything worthy of sharing all over facebook... it's just my heart.

Because Josh matters.

And if you want to join the campaign, you can learn more here...

(so when I previewed this post, the link wasn't highlighted...i'm not sure if that's because i was previewing or if it's because i don't really know what i'm doing... either way, I encourage you to google and find out more.  you'll be inspired too, i promise.)


Monday, March 4, 2013


blah, blah, blah.

Isn't that how you feel some days?  Blue?  Blah?  Out of gas?  Tired?

I think I've been there for a couple of weeks now.  I certainly haven't had much to write about... nothing that you'd care to read anyway.  I have wanted to write.  I sat down more than a few times and drafted something.  Nothing sounded right, nothing felt right.

I have (unfortunately) been feeling sorry for myself.  I hate that.  It's a physical feeling.  It's heavy and suffocating and such a lonely place to be.

It all started as I was walking into the school to dismiss Abby a couple of weeks ago.  I was behind a mom and her 3'ish year old daughter.  They were holding hands and chatting.  The little girl turned to look at me, smiled, said hello and almost tripped over a crack in the walkway.  Her mother straightened her, they laughed and continued on... hand in hand.  I was jealous.

I was jealous that they were chatting.  I was jealous that they were holding hands.  I was jealous that the little lady wasn't running 50 feet ahead or waddling 10 steps behind.  I was jealous that she was normal.

What IS normal?

How do you define normal?

Most times when we pick Abby up from school together, Josh darts out of the car and runs full speed into the building (it's quite a distance), never even looking at the people he almost takes out along the way.  When I yell for him to stop, he doesn't.

Other times he won't even get out of the car. When I finally DO coerce him (bribe him... I'm not proud), he saunters on down the walkway stopping no less than 45 times along the way.  Let me assure you, he gives stopping to smell the roses a whole new meaning.  He stops for roses, rocks, cracks in the ground, all babies, most men and anyone who drives a bus.  When I yell for him to come, he doesn't. 

Picking Abby up from school with Josh is anything BUT normal.

And I obviously have no (real) idea of what life is like for that little girl walking ahead of me.  I have no idea if her life is normal or not normal... but at that very moment, she was something I craved.  It's funny how one little moment in time can define the next few weeks in your life... if you allow it.

My head tells me that God makes no mistakes and that I (with a LOT of help from above) can do this... I can raise Josh and do a good job at it and everything will be okay... and I honestly believe that... but sometimes my heart just craves normalcy.

Then he makes me laugh.  A real, honest to goodness belly laugh.

Or he snuggles up with me and says "I wuv woo mom".

Or I get a text from him at school that says "good day mom, love Josh Lewis".

Or I get a note home from a teacher saying that they weren't feeling well and Josh prayed for them.".

Or HE apologizes to ME when clearly I have been the one out of line.

And I realize... this IS normal.  It's OUR normal.  It's Josh.  It's perfect.  It's exhausting and overwhelming and never (ever) easy, or fast, but it's beautiful.   It's the way God intended.

I'm so glad God doesn't leave us in that pit of despair.  I think pit is a good descriptive term here.  It feels an awful lot like a pit.  The walls are high and it feels deep.  It's also very hard to climb out.  It takes strength, courage, faith...

I'm so glad He picks us up, brushes us off and pushes us to keep pluggin' away.   Life is hard.  Situations arise that you can't possibly figure out.  Things happen that are unfortunate or complicated or unsettling.  But God is there.  He might take the form of a friend with a kind word or a song with a message that really spoke to you. He might be in form of a smile on a stranger's face or a compliment from the cashier at Walmart... or... He might be in the silence that you find deafening because you're not listening for Him.

He's on the mountaintop with you when things are just rollin' right along wonderfully... and He's in the pit.

So yeah... what IS normal.  WHO is normal?  Who gets to DEFINE what normal is anyway?

If Josh having Down Syndrome has taught me anything, it's this... normal is (most definitely) over-rated. 

Josh & cousin Noah
walking side by side, 
holding hands...
(just not with me... never ever with me).

Love, Susan