Tuesday, October 25, 2011

christmas? and 31 for 21

I did it.
I started shopping for Christmas.
The last time I started this early, everything was LATE, because I forgot to mail it.
Don't ask.
I was on pinterest (LOVE.) and found these cute as pie hand warmers. 

Aren't they the best?
I immediately thought of my mom, who at 81, is forever cold. I thought it would be fun for her to warm these up and tuck them into her pockets of her robe or jacket. 
AND, best of all, it fits my desire to buy handmade this year. 
How about you? 
Handmade? Etsy? No shopping malls? Gifts shipped to you?
Such a good idea.

So, today for the 31 for 21, I'm thinking about how Brenna, or anyone with a disability for that matter, is so much more LIKE others than not.

As in, she cannot wait for spirit week at school. Or for the football games on Friday nights. She wears her volleyball team shirt every Tuesday without fail, because it's game day for "her" girls. She likes to sing Justin Beiber songs in cooking class with her friend, Kimmie. When she walks the hall ways of her school, she says hi to just about everyone. 
Brenna hasn't mastered the art of sleeping in quite yet, but I'm always hopeful.
She has asked me about driving some day.
She wants to go to the same college as her sister.
Brenna adores working in the nursery at church.
She digs going to the movies and LOVES. POPCORN.

For all of her life, I go back to what my eldest sister said about her when she was born:
"She's just wrapped up in a little different packaging is all."
So, so true.

Brenna has crushes and blushes when someone teases her about boys.
She can roll her eyes at me with the best of them.
Brenna is the most social kid I have ever seen-she comes by it naturally-and is forever asking if we can invite someone over for dinner.
She has learned to swim, ride a horse, photograph, knit baby hats, likes to paint, goes to camp, and hates doing her chores.
Pretty typical, yes?


So, why is it, when I watch her growing up, that my heart gets squeezed so hard, that I feel physical pain?
Brenna is not the first one asked to come over with everyone else. She doesn't have a core group of friends that call and make plans together. Brenna has a hard time just "hanging out and talking." Brenna likes to still play tag and Candyland...kinda not the most popular things to do. She tends to obsesson a few people in particular. Physically, she just can't do some of the stuff others do, and she tires out a lot faster than others. If my husband and I don't make plans, she doesn't do much. So we make a lot of plans. 
 I know many, many people go through this with their kids, whether they are disabled or not, it happens. Again, more LIKE others than not!

And truly? I want her to make friends "like" her. These will be the people she will eventually live with, socialize with and learn with. We are just in a funny period of life where I know this will pass and balance will be worked out. It's a fine line between "typical" and "disabled", and I thank God on a daily basis that there are such a variety of people in Brenna's life right now.
We also live in an area where teen groups are zero for kids with Down Syndrome. Something that needs to change....in the near future.

While this is a reality we face, it causes my husband and I to be pro-active and begin thinking of what we want Brenna's life to look like in the future. 
This is where it is vitally important for me to practice focusing on the positive.
Brenna has a couple of girlfriends that are life time friends. LIFE. I actually asked one of them why she is friends with Brenna. I was truly curious. I don't think I would have sought out someone like Brenna when I was young.

 Her answer was this, "because Brenna doesn't hold grudges. There is no girl-drama with her. She always, always has a smile on her face and is the first one to ask how you are doing and to say hi. Brenna is totally honest and makes me laugh."

As a parent, I have to remind myself that we are beyond blessed with people who support us. Family, friends, church, community. We have people in our lives who rise to the occasion when we say we need a time out from life. AND, while writing these posts, I am again reminded how full, how incredibly rich Brenna's life is.

The other vital thing for me to remember is what I am learning with Brenna in our lives. I am humbled on a daily basis. I take life at a slower pace. I have met people I would have never met if it weren't for my child.
 I am learning to ASK FOR HELP.
This is one of the toughest things for me. Ever. I hate it. But guess what happens when you ask for help?
I remember God's grace when people respond. I remember I am not alone in this world. I meet others that I can also reach out to. I see in a profound way that we need each other. I stop feeling sorry for myself and my heart isn't squeezed so darn hard. I have pretty much spent my life putting my head down and gutting it out when faced with difficulties, and it just isn't working anymore. Little by little, I am leaning.
And guess who is teaching me?
A seventeen year old.



  1. Such a wonderful post full of love and wisdom. I have a niece who has Asperger's syndrome (she's 22) and your posts about your daughter have given me some insight into my brother and sister-in-law's life as it is with their daughter. Thank you. I don't often get a real sense of some of their struggles and joys.

  2. This Post touched me so much!! All of it. But what I am most touched by is that there are girls her age that truly call Brenna a friend, and see her for her amazing qualities. There arent many girls Brennas age that would do that, and it just amazes me. God has sent you and Brenna some Angels for sure. xo

  3. Very touching. Your writing mesmerizes me and I just can't stop reading...
    Brenna looks so sweet!

  4. Beautiful words and beautiful photos Lynn! The one of Brenna on the horse is so incredible and I absolutely love the wisdom your oldest had when she was born..."wrapped in different packaging"...out of the mouths of babes, huh? :-) This was so insightful and I just love the awareness and understanding you are bringing to those of us getting this peek into your life!
    Blessings to you and Brenna (she kinda has spit-fire written all over her if you ask me!)!

  5. Once again, you touched my soul with your post. Your love for Brenna touches every word. Love that her "life" friend said that she loves Brenna because she doesn't hold grudges. What a wonderful world this would be . . . if only . . .

    LOVE those little handwarmer hearts! Such a nice way to say "I love you!" to someone each day! Hugs, Terri xoxo

  6. This is beautiful, Lynn...it brought me to tears when I read her life friend's words...oh, to be thought of that way by others!

  7. What a beautiful, heartwarming post. Your daughter is gorgeous and so full of love in every picture. You truly are blessed and wise to be learning from her.

  8. Lynn she is the best.
    I love that photo of her running!!
    What a great image.
    This post is soooo good.
    I can't even get my words together about how it makes me feel.
    It is just so WONDERFUL

  9. Ok...who's this Jimmy, and can he be trusted? I would ask Brenna, but it would probably make her blush.

    I really love this post, Lynn. It expresses just how much she really is like any other kid, just wrapped in a different package like your sister said. I loved what her friend said about her. I think she sees the special in Brenna, and I think that she (friend) must be really special too.

    And I know I've said this before, but the older she gets, the more she looks like you and Lauren. She has the same cheeky grin. It's my favorite thing when I look at pictures.

    I'm going to read other posts that I might have missed now. I'm soooo behind. We've had revival starting this past weekend, and I'm tired of being out late.

  10. Found your blog on the 31 for 21 FB page and am so glad I did. Brenna is beautiful. And, your words and photos exude your love for her. Thank you for sharing and giving me a little glimpse into what my future may hold when my daughter is [gasp!] seventeen. :)

  11. courageous bear, once again. I was moved to tears with this one. And again, I wish you'd write a column in a newspaper. Perhaps from this perspective! So while I've always said B is MY child, we differ utterly in one way. I hold grudges. Thank goodness she isn't like me in that regard :-) And her Life Friends...beyond, beyond, beyond special. Her extended family for sure. Thanks for being you and sharing yourself. Love, admiration, respect, tenderness. Those are my feelings after reading this post. PS..great photos!!

  12. This is such a moving post. Your love for her brings tears to my eyes. I guess I am a little new to this whole parenting thing, with my girlie only 9 months old. But I hope to be writing a post like this one day. Lovely.

  13. Lynn, this is such a heartwarming post! You have a wonderful attitude and really put me to shame. Your girls sound so loved - they are very fortunate.
    Wishing you and your family blessings each and every day.
    xo~ Anna

  14. WOW! What an incredibly touching post. So much love and honesty!! Two paws up Lynn - this was a precious addition to my day! Thank you for sharing yourself!


    "Her" and Romeo who says it warmed his heart too ;)

  15. This is such a great post Lynn. I'm so happy she has such great friends that see all of her wonderful qualities. She has the most wonderful smile and I love coming here and seeing it!