The Blessing of Tight Pants

Rerun alert: This was a recent favorite at my old site, so I’m sharing it today for those who are new around here!


The thing every woman hates happened to me one Sunday morning.

I slipped on slacks for church and discovered they wouldn’t button. What? These pants I just bought a few months ago? Wow, I really enjoyed the holidays.

What could I do? Give up carbs? Nope. Give up sweets? Nope. The next morning I went for a long walk in our hilly neighborhood. And again the next morning. And the next. That was about two months ago, and now I get grumpy if I can’t walk. (Also? I can button my pants.)

Keith enjoys walking with me too. After a few mornings in a row of walking together, I came home one day feeling agitated. The same thing happened the next morning. Agitated. Irritated. Twitchy.

The next morning after that, I walked alone. The sun warmed my face, my favorite white tree waved at me, the podcast uplifted me… Oh, I thought. My heart sank. I was grumpy because I wasn’t alone.

I had to sit with that for a bit. Enjoying a long walk-and-talk has been a staple in our relationship since the days of long-distance dating. We meandered the walking trails around his apartment on Sundays, trying to forget we would soon say good-bye.

What was up with me now?

The reality is, we were having some serious discussions on our walks. Talks about Henry’s future, our will, special needs trusts, attorneys… all the stuff no one wants to think about, but especially not special needs parents. We were being efficient, making use of the time alone. But I have begun to crave the opposite on my morning walks. I need inefficient. I need the opposite of facts.  I need the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  I need openness, space to listen to God, space to listen to my soul.

When I create space for my soul to open, I also open myself up to the anticipation of possibilities, an attitude of gratitude, a posture of grace. My day is actually better. It’s not magic, but it surely feels like it.

As for Keith, we still walk together sometimes, but heavy discussions don’t come along, and he makes sure I have plenty of solitude as well.

My new habit was born of one necessity – ohmygosh, my pants don’t fit. It remains a habit for completely different necessities. Soul necessities. The white space is critical for a pensive introvert like me, but I imagine it is more important for everyone than most people realize.

Maybe you practice excellent self-care. Maybe you protect your alone time like a mama bear over her cubs. Or maybe you don’t know the last time you heard your own thoughts. Maybe, like me, you have your ups and downs, shifting somewhere between the two.  My wish for you, if you need more white space for your soul, is the blessing of an irritation to help you find it.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 7-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

How orphan empowerment applies to me

“We don’t even take their picture before they sign a consent form. Every child knows their rights.”

– Reegan Kaberia Mungi

I had the pleasure of hearing the Pan Africa Coordinator of ZOE speak at our church last week. In his gorgeous, melodic cadence, he explained how orphans in ZOE working groups are educated, empowered and liberated, never coerced or exploited. They make their own choices and always know their rights.

It’s not like I’ve never heard it before. Jess Wilson reminds us all the time; she never posts pictures of her daughter, “Brooke,” without permission. She fiercely guards Brooke’s privacy on puberty matters, despite being asked regularly about how she copes with those sticky preteen/teen issues. Everything Jess writes passes through her filter: Would I have wanted this written about me?

R0C7A5M4WB

Because of Jess, I’ve become more protective of Henry. I think more about what photos I post and stories I share. I’ve deleted old posts I wish I hadn’t published. (I’m sure I’ve missed some.) Yet, Reegan’s words pierced my heart with new clarity.

These orphans could easily be mistreated, and I don’t mean in an intentionally abusive way. The ZOE partners could easily take on a superior attitude. We might assume they are grateful just to have food, regardless of how it is provided. We might assume we know what’s best in their community. Often, this is exactly what well-meaning relief organizations do.  We assume our 1st world customs, our business strategies, our ways are always the best, and we force the impoverished to do X, Y, and Z, and ten years later we come back to see the same folks in poverty once again.

ZOE is different. And it occurred to me that I could learn a thing or two from them on how to conduct my own “business” of parenting and writing:

  1. Henry has rights. He has the right to say, “No, Mom. Don’t put that on the internet,” even at 6 years old. Further, I need to ask.
  2. Henry deserves dignity. Anything I wouldn’t post about me, I shouldn’t post about him.
  3. My ways are not always best. What seems best to me as his parent is, in fact, best a lot of the time. (Don’t touch the hot stove. Don’t cross the street when an 18-wheeler is coming at you. Brush your teeth.) Other times, I don’t know what’s best, and because I don’t…
  4. I need to learn the local customs. In this case, “local” is Henry and other autistic people. What works for them? What doesn’t?
  5. I need to listen. Maybe this one goes without saying, but since listen is my word for 2016, I’ll write it here again. I need to listen to every way Henry communicates to me and let that communication affect me before I think or speak.

What I know for sure is that moms and dads do the very best we can with what we know. Keith and I have certainly done all we know to do and then some. But when our eyes are opened to new perspectives, therapies, interventions, or ideas, we owe it to Henry to at least listen to those new ways. Sometimes they’re worthless, sure; sometimes they’re not. This time it’s not. Reegan is right. All children have rights. Impoverished or wealthy, healthy or sick, disabled or not. All children have rights. Period.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 7-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

Why I’m an advocate

Henry’s capacity to feel has always been evident to me. Maybe it’s one of the reasons I didn’t see his autism as soon as others did. They noticed his aloofness and occasional lack of eye contact (like when he was focused intently on trains or Sesame Street), but I paid more attention to his engaging smile, playfulness, and affection.

268667_10150219406679285_2338253_n
Henry, age 2

Henry loved to be held by his mom and dad, loved to sleep on my chest, loved to have family hugs. There was no “coldness.” And he seemed to see, perceive, and feel things more deeply than the toddlers I’d spent time around.

In other words, Henry didn’t fit the only stereotypes I knew.  I didn’t see it because I had the same inadequate amount of knowledge that I am now doing my best to improve for others. I was the person I now want to help.

A friend of a friend once asked, “Does it go away? Is there medicine for that?” For the briefest of moments I wanted to shake her. My hands wanted to reach out and grab her and I wanted to shriek, “Are you freaking kidding me?” But the feeling ended as quickly as it came, and I was grateful she asked. (How many people never ask?) I explained calmly autism didn’t work that way – that his brain wouldn’t be changing – but that he has come so far in coping and adjusting to the world that is sometimes hard for him to handle.

I wasn’t really angry at her; I was angry because I was her. A little over 4 years ago, I knew next to nothing. In her shoes, I may have asked an equally ridiculous question. And that scares me. It scares me and angers me that so many people in the world are autistic and so many of us still don’t know what that means.

Why does it matter? First, when we don’t know how to interact with autistic people, we can do them serious harm. Second, we miss out on growth and beauty for ourselves as well.

It is not enough to know autism exists. I know string theory exists, but don’t ask me to explain it! Awareness is nothing without knowledge; knowledge is nothing without action. We must know what neurodiversity means, what autism does, and what we must do as a result.

I could take the easy way out. The easy way whispers, “Oh, if their children don’t have it, of course they can’t be expected to know.”  But I can’t let myself off the hook so easily. With knowledge comes great responsibility. I don’t deserve the privilege of raising this amazing young man, my precious Henry, if I can’t share what I’ve learned to make the world better for him.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 7-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

We have a winner!

Thank you to the many folks who supported me this week as I launched my new site. It was both heartwarming and exciting to receive so many new likes and comments!

I chose the winner by entering all the names (multiple times for those who entered in multiple ways) in a random name generator, and out popped…

Eva P. Scott!

I pray you’ll be blessed by these goodies! For those of you who didn’t win, I hope you’ll still check out Lindsay Letters and Emily P. Freeman. God is working through them in big ways!

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 7-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

Grand Opening with a Golden Giveaway!

Do you hear that party horn?

Do you feel the confetti on your face?

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 7.03.38 AM

Welcome to my new online home! I’ve been dreaming of this day for, well, a long time. It’s my pleasure to have you here. I know you could be pretty much anywhere else at this exact moment, and instead, you’re with me. Thank you.

It’s a privilege and responsibility to have you as a reader, and I promise not to take that lightly. (If it ever seems I’ve forgotten, remind me, ok?)

For now, I want to say THANK YOU with a GOLDEN GIVEAWAY!

The Rules

If I make it to 200 likes on Facebook by Tuesday, May 3, at 11:59pm, I will give away two of my favorites: a letterpress art print from Lindsay Letters and a book from Emily P. Freeman. Eek! Want to enter?

You’ll receive one entry for each task below:

  1. Like my writer page on Facebook.
  2. If you feel inclined, share the giveaway announcement on Facebook.
  3. Comment here with your email address. Anyone can do this, but I want to offer a way to enter for those not on Facebook!

The Loot

IMG_1645

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

If you aren’t familiar with Emily, you are in for a treat. She is my #1, never-miss, most favorite contemporary Christian author. I’ve been reading her blog for what seems like forever, and in my best dreams I can write books as significant to others as her first book, Grace for the Good Girl, was to me. Let me put it this way: if I asked God to please float down from the skies a book to help me understand myself in ways no one and nothing else can, he would send Grace for the Good Girl.

Her latest, Simply Tuesday, is not just for recovering good girls. It’s for anyone who feels their “soul is being held hostage by hustle.” (So, you know, pretty much everyone.) I find myself returning to this lovely book again and again. Even if you don’t win, please check it out. Here’s a little message from Emily.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 6.59.04 PM

Print from Lindsay Letters

Lindsay is my absolute favorite hand-letterer on the web today. This gorgeous 8×10 letterpress print is in rose gold foil on pearl paper, printed on an antique press. (Note that in person this is far less pink and much more gold.) Each and every item Lindsay creates speaks to my soul. Hold one in your hands and you can’t help but feel her passion for her work! Someone will receive this one, with a line from one of my favorite hymns:

Great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see.


I hope you’ll agree this is truly a golden giveaway! These pieces of art represent my heart, and my prayer is that they will bless you as much as they bless me.

Remember, 200 likes by 11:59 pm on 5/3. I’ll announce Wednesday morning. See you then!

Please note: These gifts are from me to you; this giveaway is in no way associated with Emily or Lindsay. I’m just a gushing fan! 

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 7-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.