The Best of 2017

The best of 2017. Sounds weird when it was a year most would consider not the best. But, borne out of this year was good books I may never have read without the tough days, more lipstick than a girl could ever need because I tend to shop my feelings, and still a joy that has come from these hard days.

I’ve read some of my favorite books this past year. No, I have not been more impressionable in my emotional state. They were darn good books. Right now I’m reading Struck by Russ Ramsey. So good. His own medical trial is different from ours, but yet, it’s the same. Michele Cushatt is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read two of her books this year and loved them both, I Am and Undone. I Am was an easy to read daily bible study. Perfect for my life filled with “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom” and the constant interruptions of hospital life. Undone has a medical theme; living an unexpected life. (I’m sensing a theme in my book choices.) Ann Voskamp wrote the bestseller, The Broken Way, and I really enjoyed its easier reading. It was a little less poetic than some of her others and more real life. I like real life. And finally, Matthew West took some of his songs and put them to book in Hello My Name Is. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Either way, he is funny and I loved hearing some of the background to a few of his most popular songs. And he always points me back to Christ in book or in song. What were your favorite books of 2017?

Lipsticks! So many to choose from. I wrote about my favorites this year that came from a weak moment shopping spree. But truth be told, my favorite lipstick of the year is from Stila. I love it in Brûlée. Get it online or at my go-to retail therapy location, Ulta.

The favorite blog posts of 2017 might not make any happiest moments of the year lists. But what I’ve found is joy isn’t always found in just happy times. Just because we are faced with trials doesn’t mean this equates to only misery. Joy comes from something, somewhere, someONE, other than a circumstance. I have learned to trust Jesus more this year than ever before. Because of this, 2017 has been a good year.

Top 5 Posts of 2017:

I hope you found Jesus here in 2017. I hope you know you aren’t alone in the special needs walk, be sarcastic to get though the nonsense, and you can’t go wrong with new lipstick.

Much love, S.

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Happy Valentine’s Day to You!

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THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED. 2/13/17

It’s no secret I love Michele Cushatt‘s book, I Am. I had the joy of being on the launch team and I knew I would like the book. But I didn’t know I would love it this much. I have always loved the way Michele writes. She holds nothing back about the tough stuff in life. But, then she always points me right back to the only one who can heal and help us through this world, Christ.

I Am is no different. It has all of the things I love about real life struggles, her struggles and Christ’s healing words. But it is also in super easy to read portions. It can be read as a daily devotion, even.

I know, get to the GIVEAWAY!! Here is what you need to do to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on my blog post  or Key Ministry’s blog (just click on these links and they will take you right to the posts). Any comment will do – something about the book, the blog or what you really think of Valentine’s Day – it doesn’t matter. It is just to get you entered. I’ll be watching and responding to get you recorded in the giveaway. (Sorry, I’m not cool enough for Rafflecopter. Maybe one day. I’m still accepted says this book!)

The giveaway closes at noon on Monday, February 13. So you have all weekend to leave your comment. I can’t wait. GO!

A Seat at the King’s Table

Blindsided. That’s how it felt sitting at the long conference table with everyone seated away from me. I joked unknowingly before the meeting began about feeling ganged up on with me on one side, alone, and all seven other people on the opposite side of the table. I started to wonder when they all chuckled nervously in response. It felt a little like a police interview. “Where were you on the night of …?” They told me I was there for a follow-up to a meeting we just had a month ago. Something about testing my son wasn’t going to need in the future of his program, even though I said several times we had already discussed this and it was in the notes. Oh no, they said, it just needed to be documented formally. No big deal. That’s not how it was beginning to feel all alone on my side of the table. Blindsided is how it was beginning to feel. I was starting to wonder if I even wanted a seat at the table.

 

I didn’t see it coming. While none of it felt right (You know, that sixth sense that this isn’t right?), the odd reason for the meeting, the strangers in attendance; I still didn’t get it. I mean, I’d never been blindsided before. Well, there was that one other time a few of these people were here several years ago … WHAM-O. Those same people who never come to the meetings are suddenly making decisions for the future of my son. Those people who have no idea who he is or what he loves. Or hates. These are the people on his … team? I wanted to ask, “What was your name again?” (I looked it up on page two of the handy notes they had prepared for this meeting that wasn’t any big deal.) While those of us who know him best sat quietly, blindsided. (Don’t worry. I eventually found my voice. Shaky as it was. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”) Little did I know, that ‘no big deal’ meeting was to become a two-hour battle to keep my son enrolled in a program in which he had every legal right to remain.

 

People will let us down. This fallen world will always fail us. Always. Michele Cushatt brought my attention to a man by the name of Mephibosheth. You can find him in 2 Samuel 9 in the Old Testament half of the Bible. Michele tells in her book I Am about her desire to be accepted. Many of us have this need, this craving. Mine can be overwhelming. I’ve been seeking worldly acceptance for a long time in most everything I do. But when I read her story and the story of Mephibosheth I read it from disability’s point of view. I read it from my Evan’s point of view. You see, Mephibosheth was a man with a disability. He once had a place of honor, but no longer. He was living far from the king.

“The king said, ‘Is there not still someone in the House of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?’ … ‘There is a son…he is crippled in his feet.'” 2 Samuel 9:3

The king wished to restore his seat at the table, the King’s table, disability or not. Just like Mephibosheth, I long for Evan to be accepted at the table. I needed him to be accepted at this long conference table at which I sat, facing those who just wanted him somewhere else.

“So Mephibosheth … he always ate at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.” 2 Samuel 9:13

Acceptance at a worldly table may always be an uphill battle for those with disability. The table may be “fickle”. It may be accepting one day and ready for us to leave the table another. But also like Mephibosheth and the King, Evan will always have a seat at the King’s table. The King is waiting for him, for us, at his.

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I Read A Book! Lecrae’s Unashamed 

I don’t know Lecrae. Obvious? But as a Christian, I know Lecrae. We both are promised by God we will not fit in. We will be rejected because of our faith in Jesus. Our identity is in Christ for both of us. And we both want to live this life unashamed by who we are in Christ. I know Lecrae. 


You don’t have to like rap to like this book. It deals with many of life’s hard realities from which some Christians try to turn their heads. Look away. If it doesn’t affect me directly then it isn’t really a problem. I’m not gonna lie. It’s a hard book to read right from the start. These are tough things Lecrae has lived, no doubt. My first thoughts were that these were some things many of us had experienced. The fatherless. This affects all types of families across boundaries. Music is an escape for almost every teenager. And living divided lives is a familiar story for many Christians. But then he addresses the rest of his story.

Lecrae doesn’t shy away from revealing the life he’s endured. Sexual and physical abuse as a young child are hard things to read about. I’ve been a foster parent. I know about this stuff. But remember, Lecrae has already established us as one in Christ. A feeling of knowing someone makes this a more personal story. It’s a tough thing to know there are so many children experiencing this as if it is a part of life.

Abuse is just a part of the challenging childhood Lecrae lived. Like he says, people like me who grew up in rural America really can’t grasp this world he has had to learn to navigate. 

By the time Lecrae decides to follow Jesus he assumes, like so many of us, that life will magically become easier. Nope. It doesn’t work that way. Quite the opposite. We crawl, we walk, we stumble, we get up again. Some of us get up & run. And some of us stumble more than others in our Christian walk. Lecrae (and I) did a lot of stumbling and he shares this road as he learns he needs a Savior. 

My favorite part of Lecrae’s story is the one that seems to still be evolving. He knows the best part of God’s plan is to tell others our story. Even the tough stuff. And that doesn’t mean we only share our story with only other Christians. What good does a saving story do for those who are already saved? Jesus kept moving in the world, sharing his life. He didn’t sit with only the saved. He came to save the sick. 

Lecrae knows being in the world is a tempting place. He has placed people in his life to help protect him along the way. He continues to experience what God has promised: we will not fit in. But I love that Lecrae has learned to live Unashamed. 

Special Needs Humble Pie

I got a big helping of that special needs Humble Pie last week. You may have been there yourself before. Maybe it was the public meltdown stares. Or people wondering with perturbed looks surrounding public restroom issues. Possibly, you’ve been in a special needs situation that has been a bit humbling. They come often. So often, in fact, I am pretty used to them. Special needs is humbling.

But this last week I purposely put myself in the humbling situation. I had to humble myself in order to avoid a more disastrous outcome.

It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was definitely awkward. Well, I am the Queen of Awkward. But I fought the idea anyway. Inviting strange looks; I wasn’t sure I was up for it this day.

Evan loves bags. All bags, but mostly reusable grocery bags and gift bags. His biggest OCD trigger is probably bags. He will point to every bag hanging on a woman’s arm. He will reach to touch every bag within reach, much to the dismay of most strangers. And he will obsess over one bag even if he already has 22 bags in his hands. Such was the case this day.This particular day Evan wanted a pink bag. A PINK BAG! I had heard his much quieter request for a pink bag the day before. I couldn’t find any pink bags, so I ignored him and the building drama the best I could. Trying to keep the need for a pink bag on the down-low. But what Evan wants, Evan gets. And Evan wanted a PINK BAG!


So bright and early we arrived at the nearby outlet mall where we had been staying on our mini-vacation. We were some of the first shoppers on the property. And I prepared myself to go door to door at every single store and ask the store keepers if they had any PINK BAGS.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” ~ Philippians 2:3

It was weird. It was awkward. How do you tell someone we need one of the bags you put your purchased merchandise in and it needs to be PINK. If it isn’t pink, no thank you, I don’t want it anymore. As soon as Evan would see another color, he would shake his head and say no. Out the door we would go. To the next store.

Humbled.

I asked again and again if they had any pink bags. I could see Evan’s tension rising as we would leave one store and head to the next. I became more and more humbled and resigned with every stop. It became easier to ask. People were kind as they offered a yellow bag or a plain brown bag. Only kindness came from everyone. I think that was just as humbling as the asking: receiving kindness when we really needed it. But the tension in Evan’s mood was just below the surface as he needed the pink bag.

“God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” ~ James 4:6

Into Charming Charlie we went. I had never shopped there before. I passed it by the prior day because I didn’t think they had anything I needed. (Boy, was I wrong.) I asked the sweet young girl if she had any pink bags. She pulled out from under the counter the most glorious sight. “You mean like this?” Hallelujah! Yes, just like that lovely, bright pink bag! Evan’s eyes lit up. Relief rushed over me. I said I would buy something to get it. She handed it right over without need for a purchase. She saved our day!

Evan said to me in a hushed voice, “I want another pink bag.”

Humbled. Again.

Why do I fight being humbled? The more I read God’s teachings on being humble you’d think I would welcome it. Nope. But this is exactly what God wants from me. And not the fake kind of humble we all try to pull off when someone gives a compliment. We try to say thank you without appearing pompous. (Why is that so difficult?!) I’m talking about that kind of humble that makes you go ‘whoa.’ There is someone, something, bigger than me here. Maybe it’s another person. Maybe it’s Jesus. Humbled.

Sometimes that special needs Humble Pie isn’t very tasty stuff. I wish I could work out the situation any other way. But almost always when I look back I see how God has changed me or used that time for his glory. And for that I am grateful for when he humbles me through special needs.