I was at dinner with my kiddos and some of my friends and their kiddos. It was chaos. But not the “I’m going to scream” kind of chaos. More like “this would be fun to watch from a distance” kind of chaos. Continue reading
Valentine’s Day is not at the top of my list of favorite holidays. Its saccharine commercialism turns my cynical stomach. Besides, I’m a middle school teacher, and we middle school teachers KNOW that it is best to avoid all references to romantic love of any kind!
So. I forgot all about Valentine’s Day. Which is not good when you have kids in elementary school. In case you didn’t know, there is an unwritten rule that says that all elementary school-aged children must bring every classmate a special valentine – preferably with candy attached.
This day started as usual – with me waking Anne up early to get ready to catch the bus. Anne’s first words to me were, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy!” This is from the girl who struggles with memory and knowing the days of the week. She confuses “yesterday” and “tomorrow” on a regular basis. But she knew it was Valentine’s Day. She then asked to wear her “love” shirt to school. “You know the one, Mommy – the blue shirt with L-O-V-E spelled out with arrows!!” Really? Who knew Anne loved Valentine’s Day so much?!
I felt like a total mom-failure when I realized that I would be sending my Valentine-loving-Anne to school with NO VALENTINES. How does this happen? How do I forget a MAJOR HOLIDAY?! Anne’s sister, Kate, was not happy with me when she realized that she would be hand-writing each Valentine on note cards on the way to school. No fancy-schmancy store-bought cards for the Jackson girls. It’s hand-written or nothing!
Oh… In case I forget, Happy Valentine’s Day ;)
Anne is having surgery today…google: Epiphysiodesis! Her right leg is 1 1/2 inches longer than her left. Doc is inhibiting her right growth plate at the bottom of her femur (thigh bone) so that hopefully her left leg can catch up a little.
Please pray for a successful surgery and a smooth recovery. Anne and I plan to chill at home for the next few days. This is how Anne and I pass the time – being silly :)
Update: Anne is out of surgery, and it went very well. The doctor said that based on the amount of growth left in her shorter leg, that Anne’s legs may even up after a few years. Thank you for praying!
This morning, I was reading in my bedroom and I could hear Kate and Anne talking in the living room. Anne was confiding in Kate the way typical sisters do.
“Kate, my friend at school can walk. She doesn’t have a wheelchair like me. I don’t want this brain injury anymore.”
“I’m sorry Anne.”
“Please don’t ever leave me, Kate.”
Then I heard giggles, whispering and Kate’s footfalls approaching my bedroom. “Mom, can I make pancakes for me and Anne?”
This is my view…Anne in her chair watching Kate work in the kitchen. An ordinary moment between sisters.
The ordinary moments are beautiful. They aren’t frenzied, anxious or forced. They remind me of God’s grace – often overlooked in these ordinary moments of life.
God’s mercies are new every morning!
The other night I dreamed that Anne could walk. I woke up that morning overwhelmed with joy which was quickly replaced with disappointment, but in the end, I decided to land on “hopeful.” In my half-awake state, I heard Anne calling from her bedroom, “Mommmm! I need to go to the bathroom!!!” Bleary eyed, I walked to Anne’s room, only to find her – not in her bed – but in the hall, right outside the bathroom. She can scoot to the bathroom, but she has never done it in such a purposeful way before.
I’m a firm believer in the sovereignty of God. If I look at the seemingly random events of my life through the lens of God’s sovereignty, sometimes I see patterns. That morning, Anne’s purposeful scooting to the bathroom immediately after my dreaming of her walking – seemed like a pattern. I would never go so far as to think it was a promise that Anne would walk! (The Bible doesn’t promise that!!) But…I do think it was a loving reminder that God sees the longing of my heart and cares. I was encouraged as I reflected on God’s sovereignty and could feel myself relax as I thought…God is in control.
I’ve also been encouraged by Anne’s progress in therapy. Her walking has dramatically improved. She is standing much straighter and crouching much less. Her endurance has also improved. The first day, she was able to stand for only 2-3 minutes. Today, she stood for 15 minutes. She also walked for 20 minutes (with support) on the treadmill. Her step size has increased as well as the speed of her walking. Also, she is propelling and steering her new walker independently. We typically see these kinds of dramatic improvements a few months after therapy. To see so much drastic improvement during therapy is very encouraging! See…God is in control!
Anne’s last day of intensive therapy is Friday. This session has flown by and seemed much easier to manage than in years past. That’s due in part to good friends who have offered to drive Anne for me a few times each week. I have been lifted and sustained by the body of Christ. Another reminder that God is in control!!
Looking forward, Anne will start three months of therapy in CHOA’s multi-million dollar robotics lab in February. She responded very well to their Physical Therapy program 1 1/2 years ago. So, I’m excited to see Anne continue to gain strength and stability this spring. I’m thankful that I can trust God to provide all that Anne will need exactly when she will need it. Afterall, He is in control ;)
Sometimes I sit down to write and just feel empty. Paul’s words, “Poured out like a drink offering,” come to mind – but I don’t pretend to be that godly ;)
I do know this (in the wake of Thanksgiving)… I am deeply grateful for my life and the many jobs God has given me.
I’m thankful to be Eric’s wife. He’s away on business and I miss him. It’s nice to miss someone you love.
I’m thankful to be a mom – to a growing teenage boy, a spunky tween girl and to my Anne. The other day I was looking into Anne’s face and realized that I can’t imagine Anne without her brain injury. The injury has seeped into the deeper places of her person. I can’t see the “old Anne” anymore. It’s just Anne. I think this is good. Not the injury. The injury will never be good. But God’s work in our lives – helping us to accept his goodness in spite of Anne’s injury – that is good.
I’m also thankful for my teaching gig. I like teaching Latin to middle schoolers. But what I like most is just being with the kids. I love watching them grow and hopefully playing a small role in nudging them toward the Savior.
So my empty feeling is a false alarm. I’m not empty. Only tired! And it’s the good sort of tired that comes after meaningful work.
Speaking of work, Anne starts another round of intensive therapy next week. Fifteen, four-hour therapy sessions will be spread out over the next month. My prayer is that she will begin to get stronger. She needs more strength to keep up with her growing body. I’ll post a few updates on her progress.
Lastly, I’m thankful for your prayers and all the encouraging words you have given me over the years. If you’re reading this, know that this journey is lighter because of you. I’m so grateful! -K
Anne’s legs continue to weaken. As her legs grow, her hamstrings tighten, which make it hard for her knees to straighten. Her knee ligaments are stretched so that they no longer give her stability.
We visited the orthopedic surgeon today. This visit has started a snowball of action to help Anne get stronger. The orthopedic surgeon wrote a prescription for KFO’s (Knee-Foot-Orthotics) to give stability to her knees. We will visit the orthotist on Thursday who will make her KFO’s and deliver them to us in about a month. Then, Anne will do another round of the three-week intensive therapy in December to strengthen her quadriceps and hips. In January, her orthopedic surgeon will give Anne botox injections to loosen her hamstring muscles. And finally, I have a call into CHOA’s multi-million dollar robotics lab to start Anne on a 3-month session of intense physical therapy beginning in January. And then we will repeat the whole process this summer.
Our goal: to regain the strength Anne had before her growth spurt and to maintain strength throughout puberty. It will be an uphill climb. We are resolved to fight.
- For an opening in CHOA’s robotics lab that fits my work schedule. Logistically, it will be difficult to fit in two, therapy appointments a week into my full-time teaching job.
- For Anne to not hate wearing her KFO’s. It’s important for Anne to tolerate her KFO so that she can walk more often at school and at home to build strength before her December Intensive Therapy session.
- For discipline and energy for Anne, me and our family.
Anne’s story is a good story – a story of a big God saving a little girl who gives God lots of glory. The story has a good ending. We are just in a hard chapter. We continue to pray Hebrews 12:12-13 over Anne daily. Thank you for fighting along side us!!!
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Anne has very little ability to filter her own thoughts. This results in her complimenting strangers and interrupting conversations. Most of the time, she is delightful, but then there are episodes like today…
This morning, I started a new adventure in our new church – teaching a 5th grade leadership/discipleship class. My experienced co-leader warned me that this year’s class could be the biggest EVER. Kate and Anne – both being 5th graders – get to have me as their teacher. Lucky them ;)
Anne, Kate and I arrived early to church to welcome the 5th graders to class. Imagine my surprise when TWENTY NINE crazy kids showed up. Consequently, I decided to begin the year with a serious talk about behavior expectations ;) As I began my spiel, literally, as if she had planned it, Anne began SCREAMING at me. Seriously. Screaming. “Stupid, mom! I want a snack!!” Kate tried to calm her down which only made Anne madder…”KATE, STOP. I HATE YOU KATE!”
There I was – with 29 pairs of eyes staring at me – right in the middle of me trying to act all strict when my own daughter started yelling. This is what “No Filters” looks like sometimes.
I made a silly quip about how Anne was demonstrating how “Not To Behave” and gave her one of my mean “mom” looks. Miraculously, Anne calmed down. Just a few minutes later, Anne raised her hand when I asked why we needed to show respect to others. She said, “Because if you disrespect others, you are not obeying the Holy Spirit which lives inside of you and helps you to follow God.” Wow. Good Answer. This is also what “No Filters” looks like sometimes.
We survived church and had a relatively quiet Sunday. But tonight, as I was getting her ready for a bath, Anne said,
“Jesus has a good plan for my brain injury. When things are at their darkest that’s when I have to believe the most.”
This profound thought was sandwiched between excitement over new bath toys and wondering whether she had to go to school the next day. Just another thought in an unfiltered day.
I wonder what I would look like “unfiltered.” That is a very scary thought! Most of my thoughts center around myself or are critical of others. I have small moments of thankfulness and/or God-focused thoughts – but not as many as Anne.
In some ways, I believe Anne’s brain injury is an asset. She’s not self-absorbed or bound by the fear of what others will think of her. In other words, she is not encumbered by self-consciousness.
I think Anne’s secret to an unfiltered life is that there’s less of herself to get in God’s way. He works through her more powerfully, because she surrenders herself so effortlessly. I get to see ALL of her joy, sadness, anger, wonder, disappointment and excitement. It is beautiful to me – because she is wrapped in the fragrance of Jesus.
Let me be real for a moment…I’m struggling to trust. I’m struggling to look past the visual evidence. All I see are Anne’s weak knees. Her body is outgrowing the strength of her muscles. She struggles to straighten her legs when she walks. It makes me sad.
I’m also worried about the future – specifically where Anne will go to middle school. She just entered the 5th grade at the same school she’s attended since the accident. Next year brings major change – which makes me anxious.
Sadness, anxiety, worry. These are not the emotions of faith. I find myself crying out to God for help to trust.
This morning, God led me to this passage:
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12
Stumbling across this verse reminds me that God knows my anxious thoughts. He is not far off. Anne’s healing may not come until heaven, but it will come. Eric and I will continue to pray for God to strengthen Anne’s weak knees and level her path to middle school. He is faithful when I am faithless. Thank God.
Summer…oh Jesus. I need help during the summers!
I’m not wired to play Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders with Anne for HOURS upon HOURS. Lord, help me!
This is my prayer of desperation! God hears ALL prayers. He’s sent me so much help for this summer. The help comes in a variety of shapes and sizes – but it’s help. Anne has camps, siblings, paid helpers, intensive therapy, the beach and the pool. We’re on Day 2 of 65. It’s all good.
After transitioning from part-time to a full-time teaching position this January…I’m tired. So tired of school – that I’m actually looking forward to summer. My two days with Anne have been such a welcome change of pace. She continues to grow, change and recover. She’s doing so well.
Unbelievably, Anne turns twelve this fall. Her hormones are making her moods swing more wildly – her bursts of anger and frustration are more intense. I need wisdom to navigate how to appropriately discipline a hormonal, almost-12 year old tween with a brain injury! God has a sense of humor.
In all circumstances, God leads Eric and me to lean more deeply into Him – looking to God for strength, energy, wisdom, guidance and faith. As the pastor preached last Sunday, “Don’t give up. We’re not home yet!” By His grace, we continue down this road – the road God has planned for our family. Whether good or bad, easy or hard – it is God’s plan – so we walk on…
Thank you, Sarah Figaretti, who played with Anne so I might have the time to write this post!
Some of Anne’s more recent adventures…