jade in the parke

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This was a surprise to me

Our son left for his second year of college. I wish I could say I felt similarly to when he left last year for his freshman year. There was such a deep sadness last summer replaced with pride and comfort that he was thriving.  

This year was tough. It reminded me of the rough transition that marred my parents' and my relationship for a bit as I learned to live with their house rules after the freedom of college. That rough transition came to visit me again this time not as a carefree college student with the bushy eyebrows, but as the parent. Interactions slipped into old ways of relating. Isn't is so true when one visits their parents' home as an adult, one can slip into old patterns that hearken back to their moody teen years?  A universal truth. 

This summer was not easy for any of us. I lay in bed the morning after he left for his sophomore year grieving over the summer. Hitting roadblocks as a mom who wanted productivity and a bit of relationship thrown in struggling with a young man who wanted to live his life on his own terms. Just a side note: He is a good kid, so I am not talking about anything crazy and I was not a harsh taskmaster, as everything lives in shades of gray. 

My hope and prayer is to work through these conflicts and that hearts will be unveiled and reconciliation occurs. I am brainstorming ways to stay connected without smothering while he is away. Ya'll did know that mothering is in the word smothering, right? A very fine line between the two. I long for a do-over of this past summer. God knew what we needed in having Felix, our new doggie, who brought us all together and arrived as a rescued pet one day before summer break. 

As my husband was making the long drive back home after dropping him off, I sat on the couch staring at the wall, numb and huffing deeply of this diffuser blend. The evergreens in all three of these oils grounded me as I leaned over the diffuser. It brought comfort on an earthly level. Conifers are known for supporting healthy respiration and so it was soothing to the lump in my throat as I prayed and worked through my emotions. I discovered this accidental blend when my brother in law, Douglas, passed away suddenly in October 2015. It was a comfort to me when waves of grief came upon me in fits and spurts. You can read about it on my Instagram account @momtojade with the hashtag #momtojadegrief

Actually you really can't. 

See, I was too embarrassed to share about essential oils being helpful during my times of grief. I didn't want someone to misunderstand and think an oil will solve your woes or that it brought world peace and made unicorns to frolic near rainbows. At the root was the "fear of man", I was afraid of what you would think of me. I went from blogging to hone the craft of writing for the book I felt God calling me to write to now putting that dream on hold as I move towards empowering and educating all families, especially moms {of special needs kids} on harnessing the power of plants safely to care for their health and their family's wellbeing. Now, I am locking arms with partners as we help others start their journey with essential oils. But, I don't want to be perceived as your neighborhood Avon lady (nothing wrong with that, mind you) or being thought of as pushy on social media. At some point, I had to work through all the permutations of people's possible perceptions of me and decide to walk in purpose (I feel like a Presbyterian minister with my alliteration). 

Back to my diffuser blend and grief. If you want to search my Instagram account with the hashtag "#momtojadeGrief", I have added the hashtag so you can find the grieving posts about which I speak. I debated with myself (and the unicorns) about sharing my words, but I hope my transparency will be an aid to you to enter into a place of rest, grief and forgiveness in your family or in hard relationships. The healing for me is in the writing of these words. I feel the lightness of my heart being buoyed by you all when you read these words. I also am deeply encouraged that God cares for our family.  Hey, he brought the sweetest dog at the right time when we weren't actively looking for a pet as one blessing to recount His care for us before summer break began and there are a thousand more blessings to share.

Tell me: How did you handle that first summer after college? I need your words, friends.

Email me if you have questions at jadeintheparke@gmail.com. If you read this far, I would love to share my three oils above for you to be blessed by. It is not free, but it is free for you as my gift. Please comment below (if you are new to  my brand of oils and are not already in cohorts with another lovely, crazy oil lady who adores my brand) with your email address and why you would like a free sample, my sweet friends.

*If you live in Mongolia, etc, there will be a charge for s & h. đŸ˜†

Friday, July 8, 2016

Prophetic Words for Dallas

Home from a late night Executive team meeting for my homeschooling co-op and watching a fun, motivating Periscope last night, I "block" someone that comments out of the blue on the scope about officers shot thinking it was some kind of mutant troll making up lies. 
Then, as I finished a two year project for my  beloved Homesteaders homeschooling ministry, I do the obligatory late night scroll on my FB feed and see just a few friends from Texas talking about praying and calling out to God for mercy on our country (crazy FB  algorithm makes it so I don't know if they are talking about something new that has happened or the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile from the last few days). 

I switch over to Twitter to check the trending hashtags to see what is happening and watch in shock seeing the events unfold in Dallas.

➡️ Seeing a video clip of Fox News showing close ups of officers down (before they realize what they were seeing and stopped). 

➡️ Hearing the God fearing, loving family of the one civilian shot: A mother who is shot in the leg and pushes her closest son between two cars and the curb and covers him with her body. Lying there for a full 5 minutes before they are reached by a police officer who drags them away not even aware she had been shot. What does she think about in those five minutes? I know she is thinking about what every mom is thinking about: Where are my other boys? Are they hurt? Did they get to safety and the paralyzingly fear that can only grip a mother's heart in that moment when everyone panicked and scattered. When you can save one, but your mom heart is wrenched over your babies who were just outside your grasp. The 15 year old smothered (yes, smother's got mother in there) by his mom doesn't speak, but just grabs his aunt's neck when they greet him in the hospital. They found the other 3 sons: Two boys fled and were safe at the Hyatt as they can't be released due to the potential for harm as there is still a shooter holed up in a garage. One ran until taken into a stranger's apartment and called to let his family know he is okay. Can you imagine? Being at the hospital about to go into surgery frantic about your children. The sister being interviewed said she was so relieved to find her. But there was the normal response, "Why did you bring them there?" This mom just wanted her boys to be exposed to a [peaceful] protest and to be apart of the movement.

➡️ Watching a live press conference and hearing live that a fourth officer had succumbed to his injuries. Wondering if his family had a chance to say goodbye. Grieved.

➡️ Observing in admiration at how the officers without words gestured to each other which way they were going as they entered a parking garage to search out the snipers. It seemed somewhat familiar reminiscent of tv show, but real men and women who were under fire bravely doing their job.

➡️ Then, heartbroken seeing the tweets come in of a fifth officer who had just died just seconds after I scolded the Washington Post's Twitter account for posting pictures of algae from outer space (guys, get your silly auto posting app to stop churning out fluff during a crisis. Someone work on that algorithm, please). 

➡️ No words just "groans inexpressible" as prayers, I crawl into bed after 3 am and search for something to read from MLK and found the speech Bobby Kennedy gave in Indianapolis back in 1968 to let everyone know that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. No Twitter, no cell phones, no net to give us minute by minute updates. Kennedy was telling the audience for the first time the awful news.

He quoted his favorite Greek poet, Aeschylus, 
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

➡️ He is rallying a country divided to choose love and compassion in the face of murder, injustice and righteous anger. Choosing justice without hatred. Hate fuels revenge. He is doing what our leaders will hopefully do now in 2016. He didn't blame guns. He acknowledged that there is injustice in this country, but did not polarize it further by his remarks.

He says he had a family member killed by a white man. He knows the rage. I had to double back and read that again. He is speaking of his brother, John F. Kennedy, US President, shot down in 1963 in Dallas. The man who brought my father to this country from India to study at a University in the south. His ideals struck a chord deep in my father's soul and he came here for that optimism, and yet surprised by the racism he encountered at college. Sweet southern charm, but excluded from a fraternity due to his race. My Dad could laugh at it years later, but racism is not a one time thing, but a pervasive reality of being a minority. So he cut his hair and ditched the turban to fit in. Then, picking up his trunk sent from his home  (Punjab in northern India) at the shipping office, he hears on the little radio that the President had been shot. 


Weeping for the man whose ideals were strong enough to propel him to leave his family and his culture. (Incidentally, these were the only tears he shed until 21 years later when he received a call from the JFK airport police that I was found safe after being kidnapped by my mom in seventh grade for a few, harrowing days).

He just arrived after months of planning and his hero taken. 

When I think of Bobby Kennedy being killed just two months after his speech, I wonder would his message be different? If I sit and stew on the irony and the uncanny sense of history repeating itself with the news of this last week. Fear, racism, injustice, revenge have not left the 1960s. It seems like history is doomed to repeat itself. We are deeply marred as a culture this side of heaven, but we are called to stand in the gap. 

Stand and say as Martin Luther King, Jr. that we will work for peace and love in the midst of injustice. 

Stand and speak out against violence, against racism, against brutality in any form. 

"We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder."

Prophetic words for Dallas.

Leroy Patton/The News

Robert F. Kennedy announces to a crowd gathered in Indianapolis on April 5 1968 that Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed in Memphis, Tenn.

Here is Robert Kennedy's speech. Read these words for our day. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 
I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some -- some very sad news for all of you -- Could you lower those signs, please? -- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King -- yeah, it's true -- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Thank you very much.

The video of this speech is at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/rfkonmlkdeath.html

Monday, January 18, 2016

Science Fairs and a GIVEAWAY

Connect with us! Please  "Like" or follow us here or there!

Science Fair Angst and a GIVEAWAY! 
jadeintheparke.com, science fair
Science Fair Project Giveaway
Oh, yes it is! It is science fair time, parents! Do you remember this Huffington Post picture below? 
It went viral and I searched high and low to find the original creator and through our conversations asked if I could interview her or if she would comment on my post. It was so much more than I orignally thought! The Huffington Post picked up the follow up story, too! See the link for the viral story below to go see us at the HuffPost. It was a fun 15 seconds of fame!

Here is the First story of my Science Fair Musings: Click Here
Here is the Second story of VIRAL Science Fair Poster: Click Here
Here is the Third Story of Janice Van Cleave, author of multiple science fair resources, weighing in: Click Here

I want to help you, fellow struggling parents. 
So, I am going to gift one of you a resource to help you this season! 
We really, really care for stressed out parents. Not that we know any. 

If you can't wait to win this, buy it here! But here is how you win it!

WINNER: Ashley R. Sanger is the winner, winner, chicken dinner! Check your mail from a package from Amazon!

1. SHARE this post on your social media outlet: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Extra entries for more than one platform! 

2. Leave a comment below telling me WHERE you shared this post and your social media name. Can't wait to go check out your feed! 

3. Subscribe in the sidebar for my totally infrequent blog posts. This is how I will contact the winner, so please make sure you open the email confirming your subscription. Giveaway ENDS ON JANUARY 26, 2016


I am @momtoJADE on Twitter & Instagram and we have our facebook page in the right column, Let me know you came from this post! I promise I will say "Hi!"

I would love to hear your story of the Science Fair! Are you a teacher, parent, homeschooler or student? Nightmares from your childhood! Leave me a comment!

Connect with us! Please  "Like" or follow us here or there!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How Lionel Ritchie Ministered to a Special Needs Mom

I answered a call by Divine in the Daily to write about my perspective as a special mama. I have created a special Page on my blog that says, "Arthrogryposis and Abby" to highlight some special stories. Please click over to find out more.

Most days and years, I don't feel special. 
I am just like you, a normal mom trying to live life and love my family albeit imperfectly. 
Some days, I am a "Becky Home-Ecki' with a meal plan and groceries and invitations sent out to celebrate a child's birthday weeks in advance.  And, on other days, I am scrambling at 4:30 wondering why everyone wants to eat every four hours.
Yet, there are days when I am muddling around asking the Lord to fill me with His love.  
Actually, those are the best moments. 
If special means blessed and stretched, then, yes, I am a special mama.  In this context, I am a mother of an extraordinarily special daughter who happens to have special needs specifically Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (Multiple joint contractures present at birth).

Here is the beginning of my piece at Divine In the Daily:

"Could Every Special Needs Mom Use a Little Lionel Ritchie?"

After twenty four hours of labor, and over six hours of pushing (yes, six!) I finally gave birth to my second child. Whereas our first born remained unnamed for two days in the hospital, this baby girl was named within minutes of birth. My husband proudly announced, “Abigail, which means my father’s joy.” They placed her on my stomach and I noticed the nervous glances of the nurses as they gently touched her outward-turned hands, bent wrists, and ramrod straight fingers. I had whispers of thoughts, but never voiced them: Was something wrong? Before words tumbled out, they whisked her off to the NICU.
Click Here to read more.
Please come back and read my new page, too!

As a special note: Abby read the very early draft of this post and even gave me some hints to improve it, "This is not very good. You are just rambling".  She was right. 
Sometimes, it feels awkward if you know someone's story, but you are not sure how to talk about it or even that they know that you know. Please feel free to email me or post a comment here. If I know you in real life, I give you full permission to broach the topic with me! 

arthrogryposis, amc, marching band

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Mom's View of the Baltimore Riots

Some might call me over protective. And to that I say, "Thank you."  Listen, my kids eat orange peanut butter crackers, watch the electronic babysitter or know the latest YouTuber. We are not in a bunker, but we usually shield our children from mindless exposure to news radio & television. Yes, I am the mom who changes the radio station when a distasteful story comes on after the traffic and weather updates. We grab our news from a trusted magazine, newspapers and, like most of this generation, social media. Twitter gives us the most up to date and in real time news stories as they are developing. 
baltimore, baltimoreriot2015, baltimore riots 2015, baltimore riots, riots, riot, charm city, Governor Hogan, National Guard, State of emergency, curfew, inner harbor, johns hopkins, physics, prayforbaltimore, pray for baltimore, freddie gray
Please share

We hope our younger kids do not become anesthetized to pain and suffering, so we are careful when we expose them to these stories we see while scrolling through our feed.  We want to couch the narrative put before them in a framework that they can handle. So, we usually just summarize the news story with the pertinent facts they might hear from peers the next day.  The brutality of the world can be navigated with our guidance with compassionate, age appropriate information.

Yesterday was one of the days we just didn't talk and pray about the news.
Yesterday, we dusted off the remote controls and switched from Fox, CNN to Baltimore channels watching the destruction of a city we love so much.
Yesterday, we watched in shock at the city of Baltimore which looked like a war zone compared to just four days prior at my son's soirĂ©e with his Senior class celebrating in downtown Baltimore. 
Yesterday, we were reminiscing about this past Saturday where we enjoyed a free, family program called "Physics Day" at Johns Hopkins University as we heard reports coming in that JHU students were texted to shelter in place as rioters were roaming on campus.
baltimore, baltimoreriot2015, baltimore riots 2015, baltimore riots, riots, riot, under armor, charm city, Governor Hogan, National Guard, State of emergency, curfew, inner harbor, johns hopkins, physics, prayforbaltimore, pray for baltimore, freddie gray
Our history in commerce: Domino Sugars & Under Armor

The absolute shock we felt as we watched video feeds of men confronting a cameraman and pushing him down and kicking him, the rocks being lobbed at the police trying to get a hurt officer to safety and the armfuls of clothing in people's arms as they threw their loot into the trunks of their car and drove away from Mondawmin mall with glee. Seeing teens with backpacks run into a 7-11, grabbing something, anything and pushing their way out through the crowd of kids wanting something for nothing. My teens couldn't believe it. Early on, we encouraged our seven year old to play with a tablet to keep her eyes off what we couldn't stop watching. Images of people jumping on police cars and seeing fire after fire light up the screen. My teens were righteously indignant as we heard live reports of water hoses being cut as firefighters were attempting to extinguish these man-made fires. My son wrote these words on Facebook as we watched the riots: 

I've seen videos of the violence of the '60s during some of the darker moments of the Civil Rights Movement. 
I've seen the videos of violent protests in Ferguson, MO. 
I never thought I'd see the violence in the city just 20 miles from where I live. 
I never thought I'd see senseless brutality and mindless theft and destruction in a city so dear to me. 
It makes me sad. 
Where did the respect for life, liberty, and property go? 
Where did justice, wisdom, moderation, and the moral sense imbued in America go? 
Where did a reverent respect for the Church and God go? 
Whatever was left of it went up in flames in the streets of Baltimore.

As a mom, I need to help my children not be hardened and to guard against bitterness. 
A news conference, State of Emergency, National Guard.  I scroll through my feed again, it is my son's peers that are getting texts to show up for duty; Boys to men called to keep order among men acting like delinquents. Young men the same age as my son. 

We are called to pray. We are called to seek justice. 
Something awful happened in that ride to the station for Freddie Gray. 
Investigations, punishment, discipline, peaceful protests--All of these can happen without chaos and destruction bringing shame to Charm City. 

I know my children could be considered privileged and by writing the words: SoirĂ©e, dinner at a lovely restaurant, and we attended an educational event as a family unit (Father, Mother and all four kids),  that we are on a different track than those who live even a few blocks from Hopkins. 
This sobering reality keeps me humble. 
Is the level of violence and lawlessness mitigated by these factors? Do you agree or not?

What about these rabble rousers? Maybe their families are fractured? Maybe they don't know their fathers? Maybe they were the recipients of police brutality? We don't know their stories, but destroying their infrastructure and their city is not righteous anger, it is stupidity. They are hurting themselves and their neighborhood, by looting and burning their own corner stores which are relied on heavily and even ruined the CVS that took a community effort to bring into that neighborhood. Getting something for nothing or if "I don't take it someone else will" as we heard from the mouth of a looter last night, brings shame to the city of Baltimore.

A bright shining star were the clergy who stood strong and marched through the city. Praying, singing and standing for the message of peace and repentance. Right after they marched by a large construction site, a fire was set which fanned into a fiery inferno. A local reporter remarked of the irony of the pastors praying and then the fire is set after they passed by this site. 
But I know to whom they pray. 
I trust in Him that He is the God of order and not of chaos. 
So, if there is nothing to do except to be cynical or condemning, then pray. 
Pray for justice for those who perpetrated the crimes against the city and pray for justice for Freddie Gray. 
Pray for the safety of the Baltimore City Police department and the Firefighters. 
Pray for the National Guard. 
Pray for those who are traveling from around the country to help. 
Pray for Baltimore. 

baltimore, baltimoreriot2015, baltimore riots 2015, baltimore riots, riots, riot, charm city, Governor Hogan, National Guard, State of emergency, curfew, inner harbor, johns hopkins, physics, prayforbaltimore, pray for baltimore, freddie gray

If you know of reputable groups to support, please leave a comment with information on how we can help tangibly!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Grab hold of the gospel-Updated

[The following is a post from JADEintheparke.com's Facebook group. We have been very active on social media and we would love for you to join us on Instagram or Facebook]

great is thy faithfulness, bible, shereadstruth, gospel

Good morning!
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Lying in bed this morning, I reach for my phone. I see these words.

Yet, waiting outside my bedroom door are the kids home from school, the dishes piled high in the sink, and my own heavy heart seems in opposition to these words of truth. 

His mercies are new this morning, well because they never come to an end. 
Our hope is not based on our circumstances, but in the Lord. 
He is our portion. 
He is what we need for today to fill us.

Save this photo on your phone or your lock screen, or, most importantly, read these words for yourself in the Bible.

See, friend, we are calling this to mind so our souls have hope. 
Every morning when we awake and exhaustion, anxiety or regret assails us. 
Everyday we need to "preach the gospel" to our forgetful hearts. 
Everyday. Even before we leave the bed and hit the ground running, we can confess our hearts. 

Remember His love has never ceased and that He is faithful even when we are faithless. This promise is for you and me, believer. 
Grab hold of it and hold on tight as the day and the stresses of our lives assail us. 

Preach the gospel daily or even hourly. But, if we forget, KNOW you can come back to this place of rest and repentance EVERY morning. So take heart! Great is His Faithfulness.

See you tomorrow, friend.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Special needs siblings serving their family

Special needs siblings serving their family & how do you measure service hours for college applications when your service is normal in the abnormal world.

This is the story of today:

My husband is out of town for a much needed R&R fishing trip with friends, 
 2012 Photo Cred: Doug Parke http://goodimagephotos.com
I needed to teach at the gym early this morning. No problem, right?

Well.... let's just say that at 7:05am, I stop brushing my teeth sensing I should check my 9 year old's blood glucose.  Climbing up the bunk bed ladder with her Vera Bradley's Happy Snails wallet which holds her testing kit in one hand, I wake her and find out she's 71. 

Potential crisis averted after ingesting a handful of Cotton Candy grapes (15 grapes to be exact as most grapes are one gram of carb per grape) as I do the "Wake up" drive by to my groggy 15 year old who has to be up at 9:10 am for her ride to Marching Band practice. 

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I wake up my exhausted 17 year old son who had three Varsity Soccer games this his first week of school with multiple assignments due including a college resume (still working on that one). 

He woke up and stumbled out into the hallway to help check on his little sister with his cell phone in hand ready to text me her updated test numbers after 15 minutes have passed.  With only 45 minutes until my class, I grab my gym bag and finish getting ready. A sideways glance in my oldest girl's room catches him lowering the bed rails on her cool remote bed aka a rented hospital bed that she's had since her big surgery
He has her manual chair ready for her transfer. As I am running back and forth from the car to the house as I forget my water bottle, I get a text with a crazy high number of 314.  What? It went up that high in 15 minutes? I wonder if juice from those super sweet grapes (that have notes of cardamom in case you were wondering if they tasted like cotton candy) are coating her finger tips and altering the reading. I call up to him, "Please ask her to wash her hands and try again" as I walk out the door for the final time. As I reach the end of our street, the phone rings and I hear a "155" and he passes onto me her request to go back to bed. After expressing my appreciation, I remind him to help Abby get her leg braces on and help her stand up from her tiny wheelchair, so she can do her morning routine.

I pull out onto the main road relieved knowing my son stepped into the gap. He may have memories of battles with his mom on the amount of time he gets on the computer from not that long ago ("Why do we watch other people playing video games on youtube? But I digress), but when push came to shove, he knows what's important. A part of me, the worry wart mom that projects 10 years down the road based on habits now, started to melt away. 

I marvel at him becoming an adult this week. Eighteen years ago on September 10 (Five years and one day before the day of infamy 9-11), my nine pound, ten ounce chunky baby was born. 

J center surrounded by two cutie pie girls

Now, he is looking at colleges and beginning his busy senior year with a thesis, speeches, co-leading his philosophy club, running his own part time lawn mowing business and the uber stressful period of navigating the college application process with deadlines looming on November 1st and continuing until May when final decisions are made.
Athens, Greece

We have been stuck in a rut with writing his resume, especially in this pesky area which he seems weak in: Service and volunteer hours. He has some, but not near the amount as his peers. We have been on the receiving end countlessly during surgeries and recoveries, having babies, multiple hospitalizations with our special needs kids and my husband's battle by the River Styxx (this is my cryptic way of saying he lost his Achilles' tendon to MRSA last year) by hot meals being brought to our home, grocery shopping errands ran, a lawn mowing by a co-worker, child care, carpool help and even our laundry being picked up and delivered back to our home (that was very humbling and I cringe a little to think I said yes to the prodding from our meals coordinator at church). 

Have we served others in the same way? Have our actions been loud enough to be "caught" by the next generation of Parke's. If someone looked at our volunteer hours, it has been centered on our kids and their activities and increasing in hours and commitment as our kids have grown and we have emerged from the diaper bag trenches. I think that is normal and it is blessed. 

Today there was an opportunity for him to serve a family from his school moving to a new home, usually we jump on that type of service, but we had to decline which filled us both with regret and a bit of guilt. Sometimes being a special needs family means that we have to say no to worthy endeavors to huddle close and to care for those we are called to serve. A mental plan to join in with our church's Habitat for Humanity's building project was stalled before it even began when my nine year old developed Juvenile Diabetes. We are THAT family. We can be embarrassingly needy at times. So, we love it when there is a need where we can serve someone else. 

Yet, when the opportunity arose for him to step up to serve our own little, needy brood, and go against the normal desire to sleep in as every teenager in America would love to be doing after the first week of school, he stood up by God's grace. He woke up without one ounce of grumbling and served quietly not in the college application with documentation kind, nor in the Presidential kind, but he did it with no expectation of thanks and recognition which is the best kind.

I come home and find Abby made it off successfully and cook up a hot breakfast. He is curled up half awake on the couch with his little sisters body slamming & giggling way too loud for the morning hours. While eating our eggs, I hear from the kids nonchalantly that Abby walked into her bedroom, fell hard as she tripped over a hair dryer left accidentally on her floor. Her long leg braces called KAFO's (Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses) have to be in a locked position at the knees to keep her straight so she can shuffle walk. Darn that hypotonia! Her littlest sister put the tripping hazard away and her big brother stepped in and lifted her up back onto her feet. 

The mom guilt thing is real, people. If I had known she needed to be there early to practice, I would have secured a sub for my class. I am so thankful that there was peace and calm in our home in the midst of the crisis and my boy is becoming a godly man who cares for his family. 

There are eternal blessings that can't be documented nor proven.

After he curled back up on the couch in a bagel coma, this momma made the biggest, baddest cafe mocha I could brew. 

Happiest 18th, son! We are blessed.

Moms with little ones, remember:
The Days are long, but