amelia · gus · just write life · motherhood · writing

When Determination Comes at the Pace of a Bear Crawl

IMG_0368They tell me bears are fast. If we see one when we’re hiking, the worst thing we can do is run because they will chase us down and eat us.

Okay, not really, but mauling for sure. Maybe.

My kids participated in a bear crawl this morning because the bear is their school mascot (of course because we live in the mountains) and this fun run raised lots of money for their school. Specifically the teacher’s classroom libraries, which I think should be stocked with Cynthia Rylant and plenty of gorgeous picture books.

(I told this to my youngest’s kindergarten teacher from last  year. I don’t know his first grade teacher well enough yet to go all book bossy on her.)

Thirty-five laps around a “track” made of tiny cones and discarded water cups. I have no idea who long the actual footage was, but I know it took most kids about thirty minutes to complete. I expected my turbo charged little boy to run his heart flat out.

He did. He also made his hair look like this which is why I cannot bring myself to cut it.


But my third, my youngest daughter, who has given us a history that involves words like atrophy and MRI and oligloconal banding, the girl who wears a brace to walk so she doesn’t get too tired, the child who had a complete meltdown at my kitchen table Monday afternoon BECAUSE THIRD GRADE IS SO HARD, I didn’t have any expectations. I just hoped she wouldn’t get run over.


She ran and ran and grinned and ran and cheered and laughed. She beat her friends. She never stopped, never gave up, never worried that she couldn’t do it. Watching her reminded me she’s stronger everyday. She’s better every scan. She’s living with a new normal that’s been her normal for over half her life now.

This is her life.

And she’s determined to live it at high speed–not crawl through it cowered down by the what-ifs.

I think it’s time I took a cue from my baby girl and found my own endurance.



I adore this book. It is wonderfully written and tells the story beautifully.-2

amelia · gus · motherhood

When the Unknown Looks Like Potty Training

Our little two and a half year old tornado of a boy pulled a package of underwear out of his drawer last week and demanded to wear it. I figured why not? His sisters were all this age when they learned the fine art of using the potty for more than a step stool.

Yet again, our household learns how boys are different from girls.

First, his sisters are appalled by little boy underwear. There’s a pocket! Whatever is that for? He’s a BOY–enough said.

Then, we learn that although Gus Monster is very into his new drawers, he’s not really into his signals yet. Eight pairs and a bath later, I called it quits for the day. Should’ve done this in the fall when he was actually going on occasion. But, silly me. I thought he was too young to be pushed.

Just a reminder that having four kids only makes one an expert on the mistakes of motherhood.

I have no idea when this is going to work. Eventually, I’m sure. But if he’ll be fully functional in the bathroom prior to the need for a new living room rug, well, that’s questionable. We’re living in the unknown–the time when all you can see is a small light at the end of the tunnel and you just plug forward everyday in hopes that it grows brighter.

I’m not just talking about potty training.

I curled up in the corner of our lumpy sofa on Friday morning with my devotion and the scary canyon of what ifs for Amelia looming on my horizon. We saw her neurologist on Thursday and our future right now is certain to hold more doctor visits, more tests, more therapies as we try to uncover what caused her brain to inflame itself. What caused her body to demyelinate and send us searching for answers.

So far, no doctor is really pleased with what they can tell us. We’ve had three different prognosis ranging from super scary surgical to expect full recovery. Right now, it’s Clinically Isolated Syndrome. It might go away, her body may heal itself.

It might not.

No one is sure. Doctors for all their fancy degrees and clinical knowledge and case studies–they’re just practicing medicine as my friend said yesterday.

They are learning and we are learning and the unknown can be frightening. That canyon will swallow me whole if I let it.

Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are only meant to go through them when they actually occur. 
~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
There’s a bridge over that canyon of the unknown. I can’t see it when I’m pondering all the ways I’m going to slip and fall and have to claw my way back up rock walls. We want to live these lives that are all planned out and shiny with promise, but the truth is we live everyday in a dark unknown that’s only pushed back when we focus on the Light–on the good, the beauty, the reasons to be thankful in the midst of fear. 
The blessings of superhero underwear and friends who make homemade blueberry pie and sick little girls who giggle incessantly. These are the images I want to rehearse in my mind when I worry–these are the moments I want to live through again and again.
Not the fear. Not the frustration. Not the many times I’ve cleaned the floor.
But the many times I’ve lived in the beautiful, known moment at hand.
Friday Five · gus · motherhood

Yes in My Mess (five minute Friday)

Disclaimer: I wrote this on the iPad. Typos should be met with grace. But that’s what #fmfparty is all about. Well that and writing and hash tags and food references. We’re at Lisa Jo’s and you’re welcome there too!


He wasn’t supposed to even exist. That’s what sends me to my knees now and makes me hold him extra tight and give him jellybeans even when he hasn’t had lunch. 
He wasn’t anywhere on my radar. No idea he’d be a part of this little family, that he’d be exactly what I needed to crawl out of my own skin and into that of mothering.
And he’s the fourth. It took me that long to really get the amazing grace of it all. I didn’t even know I was missing my life until he was in it and making me see everything through the lens of what if. 
What if I had stayed a mess who didn’t really know how much I could love and bend and grow and change because these four little miracles are my stamp on eternity and my charge from the great lover of my soul? 
How great the mess can be. How powerful the realization. 

Friday Five · gus · motherhood

See {Five Minute Friday}

I’ve been away from this community for far too long. While we all took December off, I feel like I’ve been out for so much more.  The beauty of Five Minute Friday, though, is that no matter how long I’m gone, this flash mob of writers–mamas and students and single ladies and the occasional brave man–always welcomes me back.

It’s a place to belong.  Community, not competition.

Today’s prompt?


He was afraid.  I could hear it in his shrieking cry and his pitiful wail for “dada” because he’s such a smart boy that he knew such a dilemma as locking himself in his sister’s room would be better solved by daddy than mommy.

Mommy, who didn’t come with a hurry at first because I thought the sisters were kidding and there are three of them after all, so surely one was in the room too?  But no, they were crowded in the narrow hall twisting the handle in vain and jumping on toes that are never still between 3:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon.  I had a friend over.  A sweet girl who has shared teaching with me and students and Bible studies and last Friday bid her grandfather goodbye in the hospice facility two rooms down from where I had watched mine draw his last breath only hours before. So we were bonded, but a meltdown in front of her?

I didn’t want her to see me lose it, to see me become unglued over such a simple task as twisting the lock on the bedroom door to free my stranded toddler.

But I couldn’t get it open.  I couldn’t jimmy the bent hanger in the hole just right like daddy does and I sure couldn’t break down that door with my bare hands.

Though I might have if she hadn’t been there to see.

I took the knob off finally and he stumbled out into my arms wiping snot and tears on my favorite sweatshirt and jerking his arm from the sisters who were trying to pet him back into submission.

I didn’t want her to see me lose it, but I did want her to see me be a good mom because I hate to think anyone thinks I’m less than. But maybe, maybe, I should have been thinking about what my kids see?

They see that mommy is willing to hold it in for others but not for them.

That may be a lesson worth talking about.

gus · motherhood

Dear Gus {a love letter for seventeen months}

I admitted for the first time yesterday that maybe you’re not a baby anymore.  You picked up your foot to step over a cord hanging off the game machine at the bowling alley so you could position yourself better to play with that toy rifle, and I thought that was it.

That was the end of my belief that you’re a baby.

But you’re only seventeen months old and you think you can wash the dishes and climb up anything and yesterday I taught you to say “tractor” and you sat on the antique blue Ford with the pull-behind wagon and tried to drive and you were still my baby.

You push the kitchen chairs all over the house and point enthusiastically at whatever dessert concoction might be on the counter in anticipation that I’ll serve it to you for breakfast. You think you’re too big for your table booster, but you’re still turned backward in that hand-me-down Britax and on the way home from school Friday you echoed your sisters’ exclamations of spelling tests and science projects with a hearty, “Yeah!”

You love shoes and those passed down from some sweet friend grey New Balances might be the cutest thing I’ve put on your feet since last winter’s second-hand Robeez with the puppy.   But sometimes you go in my closet and try on every pair I have and I find wedge heels and Toms scattered all over the floor.

You don’t care that I’ve never bought you a new outfit or that you have a plethera of aunts who like to dress you with Old Navy clearance and mama has friends who are done with baby boys and keep you from the possibility of ever wearing an old pair of Amelia’s jeans.

You love the “kit-tee” and the only times you’ll stand still are at the glass door watching the kittens play or the man across the street mowing his lawn on the big orange mower. You know the difference between a truck and a car and the other day I broke down and admitted you needed some toys that weren’t ponies or Barbie vans.

You have the most inquisitive nature and will walk around pointing and repeating “uh-uh” until someone figures out that you want the word for thirsty which for your little mind is only “cup!”

I’ve been trying to keep you my baby for so long but you’re straining out of my arms to be set free to learn and explore and discover that cat food doesn’t belong in the bathtub and your sisters will shriek if you push the buttons on the VCR that change the television channels when they’re watching a movie. 
But most of the time, you only want me. You give the tightest, fiercest hugs and will climb all over me trying to snuggle. Sometimes I think it’s like you’re just trying to get back to that safe place inside where I didn’t have a choice but to hold you. 

This summer your hair turned blonde and spun ringlets with the humidity. You’re going to have a scar on your forehead from falling into the brick hearth at the great-grands and getting five stitches. You’ve cut nearly all your teeth and your grin is irresistible.
Your sisters use the phrases “literally” and “anyways” and “I can’t believe” over and over and not always correctly, but you just laugh and peek behind your fingers and steal all their attention. 
I fear a bit we will ruin you for anyone else.
But right now, you’re mine. You’re ours. You’re the promise of God to give me more abundance than I ever imagined.