He chose you.

Girls in pretty dresses with their dads.

THIS. An absolute beautiful vision to see.

It started as a thought and led to an event — turned backwards in my movie theatre seat I exclaimed to Josh Bishop, youth pastor of our fifth & sixth grade students at our church:

Let’s host a daddy-daughter dance!!

And that was that. He agreed. We were going to plan an evening for daddies and little girls to connect.

And we did. And it was lovely.

The night included a spaghetti dinner (spaghetti is great on the event budget, by the way) and swing-dance lessons (a priceless sight to see!).

There was a moment, during the spaghetti dinner, where Josh welcomed folks and chatted a bit about the special relationship between a father and a daughter.

Then he said this:

Dads, you didn’t get to choose your daughter; her personality, her passions, her strengths, her hopes and dreams. You didn’t get to choose.

Girls, you didn’t get to choose your dad; how he will love and care for you, how he will pursue you, what he loves to think and do. You didn’t get to choose.

He continued to say:

But! everyday you get to choose to love each other. 

We try to control our children.

And our children try to control us.

Some of us would like to think we don’t try to control our kids, but control can be as simple as wanting them to color Cinderella’s hair yellow — because Cinderella is a blonde! But maybe they grab the purple crayon? And in this moment, do you push the yellow or do you let Cinderella show up to the ball with purple hair – sassy and full of spunk!


Or choosing unconditional love.

It’s a choice.


Some control is natural, normal and we’re even called to discipline and raise our kids. We’re supposed to mold and shape them. But our children are also a very specific and special design of God’s own desire; to be watered and nurtured to grow into the best version of who they were created to be.

If ever you feel like maybe perhaps your child is different than you wanted, it’s okay.

Go ahead and say it. This may give you permission to actually see who they really are.

If ever you feel like you would have maybe chosen to write the story a bit differently, it’s okay.

Go ahead and say it. This may actually give the vision to see outside your plans.


My mom has led a woman’s retreat for several years at her church. One year, there was a mom who had three children, all of who have special needs. The condition they all have is something where symptoms didn’t show up until the children were a bit older so they had the three children before they knew it was gentic.

At the retreat the mom shared:

You know, for years I wondered — God, why me?

Over the course of the weekend God whispered gently and quietly to her heart:

Who better to raise them?

In parenting, there will be difficult moments; these moments will be: disheartening, disappointing, . and full-out heartbreaking.

And we wonder why.

Why us?

Why them?

To those of you who today are wondering why?


Everything you are and everything you have to offer is exactly what your child needs.

In fact, of all the women in the world God choose you: your personality, your temperament, your strengths (your weaknesses!),

You didn’t get to choose.

Your child didn’t get to choose, 

But God did get to choose

… and he chose you.


• Kaylee (and husband, Dan) have one daughter, Miss Bella, who lives in a world of FPIES,EoEDelay in Gastric Emptying.  Kaylee works full-time at Start Garden and fine-tunes plans to take over the world while driving to doctors’ appointments. •


a recipe for making happiness (maybe)

jillianfrom (in)Able’s Jillian Swanson
Most of the time, I stamp myself with the “epic fail” label.  And if I were to place bets, I am not the only one.Most of the time, life is a disaster.  My home is a giant mess.  Every nook and cranny covered with the trappings of life itself.
My head is in need of emergency disaster relief.I use the scary mommy voice WAY TOO MUCH.  I rarely play with my kids.  I can’t keep up with my household duties.  My budget is in disarray.  I can’t find the courage to find a new home for my dear cat who sleeps with me at night, but is so obviously stressed and unhappy.  Dinner is always late, and as of late, a complete fiasco as I try to figure out what to feed an allergic child.  I am sleep deprived and not remembering to feed my own body.  I am lucky if I make it into the shower more than twice a week–something I swore I would never do as a mom.
I am barely meeting my children’s needs.
My husband’s needs.  
My own needs.  The lucky me who is blessed enough to stay at home with my babies, fails every day at the job God gave me.  And I am so very aware of my failings as a parent.

Certainly not a recipe for happiness.

But, maybe it is…

My loving, sweet first born AJ, is super observant, sensitive, and reactive to household energy shifts.  And now that he is entering into the fours, and perfecting his terrorist tendencies, he is a regular receiver of my frustrations.  The other day after a particularly hard day, he turns to me, pats my leg in a comforting gesture, and says,
“Mom, you make me happy.”

How is that even possible?

I looked around the room.  Nope, still a mess.  Momma’s in pj’s with yucky hair.  Two of three kids are diaper naked (only in diapers.). Dinner was a leftovers free for all. I had commandeered the TV in an effort to wash away the massive rock of guilt sitting on my shoulders.  I had spent the better part of the day pseudo-yelling at the lovely beasties for any number of infractions.  I could have gladly taken Oscar’s garbage can and taken his place as resident crab on Sesame Street.

And this makes him happy?

A few days after that, I started this blog, after a morning of feeling like I was being bodily dragged to the computer.  And I started thinking about his comment to me.

I talk to him.  When the days are bad, I am honest with him about why, about how momma feels and why.  That it’s not his fault.  In my anger, I almost always keep gentle hands, so that even in the swirl of chaos and raised voices, he feels my gentle touch and still feels loved.

And what I do well, I do really well.
I rock the cuddling thing.
I say “I love you” in some form, constantly.
I am a great tickle monster.
I work hard on praising the good things he does and reminding him how proud I am of him.

And regardless of my panic and frustration with daily failures, his basic needs are met, and then some.  He’s fed, clothed, and in a warm house.  He has an over abundance of toys.  He sees his friends at school and receives the therapy he needs to grow.  He knows his parent love him and sees and hears how hard we work for him.  He loves his brothers and receives their love purely.  We fight for him and that which he deserves.We try to be there for him in his mess.etc…..

He doesn’t see my failures.  He sees and feels my love for him as it pours off of me in my tears for failing him.

And for him, that is enough.

The recipe for happiness.

And I spend every moment now convincing myself that’s enough for me.  Rewiring my mind and opening my eyes open wider to see the minute miracles mixed in the wearying day to day battles, and reminding my heart to accept the teeny, tiny, micro-sized blessings that float in the air around my own mess and take them into my soul.

To quiet my sadness and find the hidden joy.

My sweet, beautiful, crazy smart, broken little boys make me so happy with their little arms and hands holding me.  With their little voices and little hearts loving me.

All this given to me simply because I love them.

For now, it will be enough for me.
That is of course, after I silence the nasty enemy voices in my head… :o)

Care to join me?

with much love,


from a mom to her son

mariaA Letter for my Son with ASD

written by Maria Dodson, (in)Able mom

April 5, 2013

Dear Sweet Boy,

Right now you are only 6.  You just started at a new school a few months ago and it has really been a challenge for you.  You are often very anxious about going to school in the morning. You say that you can’t read or write and that you have a hard time listening.  And that frustrates you .

Sweetheart, you are right.  You are behind your peer in the language arts right now.  In fact, your delayed language skills often prevent you from asking for the help you need or accurately communicating why you are frustrated. And it breaks my heart to see you struggle in this way.  Communication is a basic human desire.

But maybe I can explain why your Mama is making you go through this.

Son, because of the way your brain works these things are extra hard for you.  It is my great hope (and the advice of professionals) that if we work REALLY hard right now, things will be easier for you when you get older.  I make you go to school, where you are asked to work very hard all day long, so that someday you will be able to tell people your story in a way that will make a difference for the kids that will come after you that struggle in the same way.

And I want to give your teachers and schoolmates a chance to learn that you are different from them, but not less.

I know you will not understand this letter right now, but it’s good for your Mama to write it out.  It reminds her, too, of why we do what we do.

You are a great treasure, my sweet boy.


Your Mom

blessed by Bella

I spotted.

Just now.

This means I’ve been on progesterone 3 months and I am not pregnant.

Am I sad? Indeed.

But, waiting for a baby hasn’t been..


It just hasn’t been as painful as I thought it would be.

I’ve been trying to unpack my feelings on this.

Asking myself if I’ve just stuffed my feelings.

What I’ve realized is….

Bella has taught me one thing and one thing real good:

This too shall pass.

I am not a patient person (though I work on it).

And I am not good at not getting what I want (ask my parents!).

I’m a bit baffled as to why I’m not a hotter mess waiting for another child. To some extent I know for a fact it’s because of all those praying me through this. There are moments where I literally feel the prayers said on my behalf holding my head above water when it would have be so easy to slip and let myself drown.


But what I really realize. Is that the gift I have, this special gift of unexplainable peace and patience.  This gift is because of Bella.

With her FPIES and EOE we face years of being patient. She may outgrow FPIES by age 3 or 4 (or she may not).  Her soy reaction was at 9 months. So right out of the shoot, we had 2-3 years ahead of us of not knowing….and waiting.

And…this period of waiting has taught me, how to wait.

Like I said, waiting for a baby month after month, would have drowned me in sorrow and anxiousness; prior to Bella.

I have moments and days where I cry (usually Day 1 of my cycle!).  But generally speaking, I am doing ok.

Thing is. I’ve learned how to tread water. Before Bella, the boat would have gotten rocky and I would have fallen apart and drowned simply in the vast amount of my own tears shed.

But now, it seems the boat can rock, toss me out and I can be in deep, deep waters….and yet… I can tread.

Now hear me out. I much prefer to be in the boat, with a cool beverage and sun beaming on my face – much prefer. But and since, rough waters is what I’m facing, I can tread.

I will tread.

And please, do know, I am in rough waters.

It’s not easy waiting. And with every arm I push out to keep myself afloat I am weary. With every breath I take to bob along the water or with every push of inertia to excel over a wave coming my way, I find myself tired and worn.

And let me tell you, I have NEVER in my life been so interested in my own nipples. Or my body, in general, for that matter.  If you’ve tried for a baby you know what this odd fixation is; this thing where you wonder many’a moments if you are pregnant so you read every potential sign your body may be giving you.

Did I just pee more often than usual?

Was that a mood swing (or do I need to sign up for anger management?!)

Am I tired, tired – or have I just been on my feet since 7AM?

You get it. And I’m stuck in it. Just because I’m doing ok waiting doesn’t meant I’m not waiting; looking for signs that this season will pass.

But. In the midst of the weariness I feel strength.

(LEMME tell you, waiting is work!)

But this? This work. It makes me stronger.

Like a good work out, this waiting is.

And it is a beautiful thing when you realize you can face your deepest fear….

And live.

In the depth of longing, there is strength and living.

I am not alone. (Jesus hold me up in this water if I get too weak!)

And I am getting stronger.

All this beauty in waiting.

All this because of Bella.


This too shall pass.


God’s gift to me; in her.


• Kaylee (and husband, Dan) have one daughter, Miss Bella, who lives in a world of FPIES,EoEDelay in Gastric Emptying.  Kaylee works full-time at Start Garden and fine-tunes plans to take over the world while driving to doctors’ appointments.