Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Monday, July 14, 2014

Don't Judge Me! An Encouragement to Self Examination

"Don't judge" has been thrown around so much lately and to be honest, it erks me. Don't misunderstand me here. I am not saying that we should look down and snarl our noses at others for making different (or even bad) choices than what we agree with. Our job is to love others.  But this whole "don't judge" thing is getting out of control. Y'all know I am a Christ follower and I am all about some Jesus and the Woman at the Well "Neither do I condemn you!" stuff!  (That's in John Chapter 8 if you want to read it. Great story!) So don't misunderstand me. Hear me out.

First, people are constantly getting offended because they see judgment where none is intended. I see even the most honest and benignba j statements being turned into something that they are not, especially on Facebook. If you can read one single facebook post about someone and decide that you know their heart's intentions and what they are thinking, then maybe you are guilty of that thing you hate, judging. And if all it takes is one facebook post for you to decide someone's character and whether or not you like them, maybe the problem isn't the post or the poster. Maybe it's your own heart issue. 

Second, someone isn't "wrong" for stating an opinion that doesn't line up with yours, especially if you are posting you opinion on a social forum where the point is to garner comments and opinions from others. Just because someone has a different opinion than you doesn't automatically mean they are judging you. Have you stopped to consider that no one on this earth is going to agree with you 100% on everything? If you dislike everyone who doesn't completely agree with you on all points, you will dislike the whole world. I will add, there are some issues that don't stand to be waivered on, of couse. But you will never convince anyone else of your opinion if all you can say is "Stop judging me! God is my judge!" If you want to share your opinion and convince others of it, the best thing you can do is present your opinion clearly and concisely, back up your reasoning, and show respect and love for others. 

Third, when I care about someone, I let them know when they are making a bad choice because I DON'T WANT THEM TO MAKE A BAD CHOICE BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT THEM. Is that "judging?" Maybe. The line is a thin one. But as long as there is no malice or rudeness, is that really relevant? My husband got so mad at me one time because I told him I didn't want him to buy a certain truck. He thought I was being ridiculous and that I just wanted him to be stuck with the car he had and that I didn't want him to be happy. He bought the truck anyways, and now he regrets it because he has had issue after issue with it and cant afford to get out of it. Was I judging his decision? Yep, because he was making a poor one and I was trying to protect him from his own poor decision. Was I judging his poor decision? You bet cha. And now he wishes he had heeded my judgment. Stop to consider for a second that when WE are the ones in the middle of making a decision, we can get blinded. My husband was blinded to the problems that truck had because he wanted a truck so bad. I could see those problems when he couldn't. It isn't always a bad thing to at least listen to opposing opinions. In fact, i think it's SMART to listen to opposing opinions. You will either consider things you didn't consider before and realize you were wrong, or you will know even more that what you believe is right for you because you weighed the pros and cons. 

Fourth, judging does have its place. Hear me out. Do i judge my children's behavior when they act up? Yes. Yes i do. and when I judge that they are acting a fool, they get disciplined. And when i judge that they are behaving, they get praised. Because that's my job as their mom to judge their behavior in order to help them to make good choices in behavior. The other night i was in downtown nashville at midnight. Me and two female friend were in a dark parking lot and as we approached our car, a man was standing behind it whom I presumed to be homeless. He immedately came toward us when he saw us and started asking for money. I looked around and saw that there was no one else around but me and my girlfriends. I never said a word to him, but reached into my purse and put my hand on the grip of my handgun and left it there until the man walked away and we got safely into our car. I judged the man.  If he had decided to attack me or one of my friends, he would've had the advantage of being larger than us, in a dark alley, and in an area where no else was around to help us. So i made a judgment call, and one that could have saved our lives if the man had been looking to attack someone. i do it every day. I judge whether or not someone is trustworthy enough to babysit my kids. What kind of mother would i be if i did not? I judge whether or not a doctor is capable of performing surgery on Christian. I judge whether or not I want to be friends with someone. What kind of person would i be if I constantly let abusive people manipulate and take advantage of me? 

Fifth, are there some people who are just judgmental jerks? Yep. and Facebook is a breeding ground for them. Trust me. If anyone knows about them, I do. Remember, I am the mom of that cute little boy who some people look at a single picture of and determine that he should be dead. I have literally had strangers see a single picture of Christian on Facebook and say "If i saw that kid walking down the street, I would murder him." They judge that Christian's life isn't worth living based on one single picture. But most of you who know him know how awesome he is and how loved he is and how great his quality of life is. But if facebook has taught me anything, it's that MOST people are not judgmental jerks. We all have tendencies to jump to conclusions, we all make assumptions sometimes that are wrong and we end up eating our words later, but most people honestly are nice people who are just flawed human being like all the rest of us. We say things out of turn or we stick our foot in our mouth later and realize that we were wrong. Lord knows I have!

 See, i don't think it's "judgement" that we hate so much. I think what we hate is being challenged, being called on to defend our stance because sometimes our beliefs have holes in them. I think we hate when someone points out our faults. Yeah, it doesn't feel good. But if we ever want to grow and learn from those things, sometimes it's necessary to be called out. I want to be that person who, when someone judges me unfairly, I can say, "That's ok, I forgive you." But I also want to be that person who does't always cry out "don't judge me" when someone else expresses an opposing opinion or judges me fairly. (Except when I'm using it in a joke, which I do often. i.e. i'm eating chocolate for the 6th time today. Don't judge me.) I want to learn from their words and consider things I have not considered before. I want to grow from their words and be challenged when someone judges me correctly and finds fault. 

This post is not meant to "judge" anyone, but rather to encourage all of us to be the best person that we can be, to love each other just a little more, and to look for the good in things instead of the bad! So, don't judge me! ;P

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Where My Trust Is Without Borders

Many of you who follow my blog or Facebook page know just how hard Christian's last surgery was for me. It was surgery #6, and our second palate surgery, so it's not like we were encountering new territory, but the risks were higher this time, and for some reason, things just sat uneasy with me. The night before his surgery I laid beside his bed all night. I cried some, I dozed off some, and sometimes I would send messages to one of my friends who was awake. I remember telling her "This is so unfair. He doesn't deserve to have to go through this" and I remember as I typed those words, tears fell uncontrollably. It was one of the few times that I honestly couldn't control my sobs.

In the weeks and days before surgery, my mind was gone. At least three times specifically, I can remember driving through Murfreesboro, where I drive to at least twice a week, most of the time more often than that, and where I have been driving to since I was 16 years old. And as I would be driving to wherever I was headed, I would suddenly snap to myself and realize that I wasn't headed the right direction, or that I had no idea how I had gotten to that side of town, or I had completely forgotten where I was headed to begin with. The day of surgery, while in the waiting room, I got ridiculously sick. As many hospital stays and procedures and surgeries as we've been through, that was the first time I ended up hugging the toilet over it. It hit me hard.

Friends and family said encouraging things and kept me uplifted, let me know they were praying for Christian and offered to help in any way they could, and those things really did keep me going. But no words could possibly ease my anxieties. It was so hard that it was beyond what I could handle as a person, as a mother.

When all was said and done, and the surgery ended up being a breeze for all of us (if surgery can ever be a breeze at all), we all breathed a huge sigh of relief and literally were shouting for joy in the waiting room when the surgeon came in to tell us how it went. The surgery actually went much better than we could have ever hoped or imagined and Christian did so well that you would have thought the surgery was just minor and routine. It's almost unexplainable how things went as well as they did. (Although I can totally explain it (: )

I've said all that to lead into what I wanted to talk about in this post. Before, during, and after surgery I heard more times than I can count, "Don't worry!" "Don't be afraid!" Not that I fault anyone for telling me these things! It's just one of those things you say to someone about to face something like what we faced. But each time I heard it, I would think "Sorry! Too late! I am terrified!" Sometimes I would even think "That's easier said than done there friend!" But I would never say what I was thinking to someone because I understood their sentiments were heartfelt and genuine and I wholeheartedly appreciated the encouragement! But once surgery was all said and done, I even heard "See there! You worried for nothing!" "Oh you of little faith!" And again, this was from people who genuinely care and love us, and who prayed for us, and they mean nothing harmful by it at all! It didn't upset me in the least. But it did give me something to think about.

This post is for anyone who is afraid: afraid of tomorrow, afraid of yesterday, afraid of how they're going to make ends meet this month, afraid of how they're doing as a parent, afraid that their marriage is crumbling, afraid that they may lose their job, afraid of losing a loved one, afraid of handing their child over to a surgeon, afraid of making the wrong choice, afraid of the mistakes they've made in the past, afraid of the diagnosis they just got. I can relate.

"Fear not" is the most repeated command in the Bible. When I found that out, I felt just a little guilty at how afraid I was over this surgery. It made me really analyse myself. Do I really trust God that little? Am I so lacking in faith that I was throwing up in a waiting room bathroom? Was I THAT scared? The answer is yes. Terrified isn't even the appropriate word to describe the fear I felt. Oh, me of little faith.

Now, not only did I feel scared, but now I also felt guilty. But God (through a good friend) helped open my eyes to something I hadn't considered before.

*"Fear not" God knows how afraid we are. Why do you think He repeated himself so often in the Bible on this topic? I'm positive He knew that we needed to hear it that many times, a constant reminder. He knew that we would feel and experience fear. In fact, he prepared for it!

*"For you created my inmost being" I don't like when people tell me I should or should not feel a certain way. In fact, I don't like the whole "invalidating feelings" thing in general. God created me an emotional being (sometimes overly emotional but hey, don't judge! (: ). He expects me to control and reign in my emotions and to work to align them with His will, but He most definitely does not expect me to deny them or not feel them at all.

*Cast your anxieties on Him"  Why would He tell me to cast my anxieties on Him if he expects me not to have anxieties? God knew that my anxieties would exist, and He prepared for it.

You see, God knows exactly how terrified I was that day, and I highly doubt it upset Him. In fact, I think anyone who was facing what I faced and claimed that they weren't afraid would be accused of lying. I don't think God was sitting there saying "Lacey! I told you 'Fear not' and here you are literally wretching with fear?!?!?" And I don't think God was shaking His head and saying "Oh ye of little faith." For you see, it's in those times of pure terror, where my body is shaking with fear, I can't quiet my sobs, and I can barely speak or catch my breathe, that my faith is made stronger, and my fear is laid at the feet of Christ. We have come to think, as believers, that when we follow Christ, it has to look glamorous and elegant, or we must be doing something wrong. We are in a battle and we have to come out guns blazing, chest puffed out, and victory bells sounding. When we face the fiery furnace we're suppose to shout for joy, and we're suppose to run towards the lion's den eager to lay down with those man eating lions.....says who?

I have found in my 12 years of following Christ, that I am a mess. I am anything but glamorous and elegant. I am dirt-covered, sin stained, and filthy. I am no poster child for winning people over to the "attractive life" of Christ-follower. I am living proof that God can take the most insignificant things and turn them into something invaluable. I am evidence that God can take something ugly and make it beautiful. My life is confirmation that God can take weakness and turn it into strength.

You see, in that moment when I handed Christian over to that nurse on surgery day, that moment that I had been dreading for months, and I literally couldn't catch my breath, I wasn't lacking faith because I was afraid. On the contrary, my faith was strongest at that moment.  I handed Christian over and watched that nurse take him away, not knowing if I'd ever see him again, and I didn't chase after her screaming and begging her not to take him. I waited anxiously for 4 hours while Christian was in surgery, but my faith was not small because I was physically sick. On the contrary, evidence of God's victorious right hand was most evident because I stayed in that waiting room and waited to hear what the outcome would be, vomit and all.

I knew that whatever happened that day, I would face it. I knew what outcome I hoped and prayed for, but I also knew that God was in control and I was not. His strength was made perfect in my weakness because I knew that whatever outcome there was, I would STILL trust Him and serve Him. Whatever happened that day, His grace was sufficient for me.

The song "Oceans" by Hillsong has stuck with me so much for the last six months and through these last two big surgeries. It has been a reflection to me of where God has led me over the last three years.
"Keep my eyes above the waves." I don't need to be in control. I don't need to be able to speak. I don't need to be able to breathe. I just need to be able to keep my eyes on Christ. 
"Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander." My own flesh would never take me this far on my own. It's scary. It's dark and cold. I've never been that far before. I don't know what to expect. I could drown. God has allowed me to be taken further than I ever would have chosen to go on my own. He has allowed situations to happen in my life where I had no choices left but trust Him or don't. 
"Your sovereign hand will be my guide where feet may fail and fear surrounds me." He has allowed me to face things where my own strength was never enough to get through it, where my own strength failed. I have gone through things where I could not possibly navigate my own way through them, and fear enveloped me like a blanket.

"Where my trust is without borders, and my faith will be made stronger." 
And I have watched miracles occur, more than once, right before my very eyes.

Courage isn't always the superhero swooping in to save the day or the jumping in front of a bullet (although those certainly qualify.) Sometimes courage is that quiet voice that never gives up. Sometimes courage is closing your eyes, squeezing that victorious right hand as hard as you can, taking that leap and holding on for dear life. Sometimes courage is speaking up even when your voice shakes. Courage isn't the absence of fear. Courage is being afraid but taking that step forward anyways.

So, What are you afraid of? Oh ye of little faith. Don't fear, you are more courageous than you realize. The Lord Your God is with you wherever you go. He is your strength and shield.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Miracle at 705 Riley Drive

Miracles still happen. I know because I am raising one. They are not just something in the Bible that happened long ago. They are not just wishes we make when we blow out our birthday candles (although that's lots of fun to do.)

Miracles still happen. I know because today I witnessed one. Today was surgery number 6 for my sweet little Christian. I have been dreading it. It never gets easier and each time is always a little different, so there is only so much to be said for "preparing." How do you prepare yourself to place your entire life into the hands of a stranger in scrubs? How do you prepare yourself to see the love of your life scared, confused, and in pain, all while you are totally helpless to make it stop? That's kind of what it's like each time. And although I always spend the several days before surgery crying profusely and constantly in prayer, and although nothing I do makes it easier to bear when the time comes, each time I witness a miracle.

Today was probably one of the most amazing miracles so far. It's so amazing what God will do sometimes. I've been praying for Christian and the doctors for over a month now. I asked God to give the doctors the skills and wisdom to perform the surgery, I even asked Him to give them a good nights rest the night before surgery so they could have a clear mind that day. For Christian, I prayed especially for good pain control, that he have peace before and after surgery, and honestly, just that I would get to hold him again once this was all over.

But God did so much more.

Christian's cleft palate, before any surgery, was 18mm wide. That number doesn't mean much to anyone who isn't a plastic surgeon until you compare it with other cleft palates. What most surgeons would consider a "hard to close" cleft palate is around 10 to 12mm wide. Christian's is almost double that. Comparably, that's a huge amount of space to fill in the roof of his mouth.

When he went in today, Dr. Flores, Christian's surgeon, explained to us that he couldn't give us exact details about what would happen during surgery because it would all depend on Christian's tissue and muscles once he got into his mouth. The goal was to close Christian's soft palate, and he gave us a few examples of how that might play out once surgery began. What Dr. Flores thought would probably happen is that he would pull Christian's palate together from the right and the left, but there wouldn't be enough tissue there to reach all the way across. So, to fill in that gap, he would do what is called a pharyngeal flap where he would cut tissue from Christian's throat and, leaving it attached to the throat at one point, flap it toward the palate and use that tissue to cover the hole. Although pharyngeal flaps are  not new, combining one with a cleft palate closure is. Dr. Flores had never performed this operation before. In fact, he created this procedure just for Christian. Although there are always risks with surgery, that creates a bigger risk. The flap that would be created would cause some swelling in his throat that otherwise wouldn't happen. Swelling in the throat can mean difficulty breathing. This was my biggest fear for this surgery, that Christian would have trouble breathing on his own.

That is why I especially put out requests for prayer for this surgery. I will be honest when I say that I was scared out of my mind this time around. I'm scared every time, but this time was more intense. This time I knew that there was a greater chance (however small) that A`when I handed Christian over to the nurse that I might never see him again. I know that is always a risk you take when there is surgery, but this time the risk was so much more real. This time there were sobs instead of just silent tears.  And as I handed him over, I told him how much I love him, knowing that it could be my very last chance to say it to him.

It's funny to me to hear people say I'm so strong, because in moments like these, I don't feel the least bit strong. My body literally shakes with fear, my legs will barely carry my weight, my voice cracks and breaks and I basically have to force the words out. The night before surgery, I laid in the floor next to Christian's bed and cried most of the night because I was too scared to leave his side. I think sometimes people picture me standing courageously by Christian's hospital bed as we face these trials, when really I spent yesterday getting sick in the waiting room bathroom during our 3 and a half hour wait. I was even afraid to ask God for the best surgery outcome possible because I was just desperate for Christian to make it through and didn't want to push my luck.

But God knew what lay ahead for Christian long before it ever happened, and His plans are good and His plans are not persuaded by my fears. Thank God that He understands my weakness and when I struggle with my faith, He isn't angry with me. He just restores and strengthens my faith instead.

When Dr. Flores began operating on Christian's palate, he found that the gap in Christian's soft palate had narrowed. Not by a ton, but in Christian's case, every millimeter counts. Dr. Flores wasn't able to explain exactly how it happened, but we all agreed: We don't care how it happened, we're just happy it did. So basically because the gap in Christian's palate had narrowed, Dr. Flores was able to forego the pharyngeal flap. He was able to pull Christian's palate together from the left and right and reach all the way to the middle just like he would in a patient with a typical cleft palate. THAT, my friends, is a miracle.

We've all agreed that we aren't sure "medically" how it happened that Christian's palate narrowed some on it's own, but we all know the truth. God is faithful and we are thankfully. We witnessed a miracle today at 705 Riley Drive. It isn't the first we've seen and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today I Failed As a Parent

Yes, you read that title correctly. Today I failed as a parent. Being a mom, being a good mom, has always just come naturally to me. I have a wonderful mom who really influenced that nurturing instinct in me. There's a saying that a child can only give what they receive, and I must say I received a lot of affection and nurturing and love in my childhood, and so it's always come easy to me to give affection and to nurture and love. And I feel that so far, in my 2 years and 10 months of mothering, I've done a pretty good job.

But today, I really feel like a failure as a parent. Three weeks and 1 day after Christian's first palate reconstruction, I failed him. Three weeks and one day after Christian underwent major reconstructive surgery on his palate, I messed up big time. Day one into being released from wearing his arm restraints, I allowed Christian to go play in his brother's room unsupervised. This wasn't an issue or problem before surgery because our house is small and I can hear him at all times, there's nothing in there for him to get into except a toy box, and I peek in often. However, after surgery, we were on high alert. There was to be nothing, absolutely nothing in Christian's mouth for fear of puncturing or opening up his palate. The arm restraints were to prevent him from putting anything in his mouth himself by stopping his elbows from bending, but he didn't have to wear them anymore after yesterday.

Today Christian sat in his brother's room, not being watched, without his arm restraints, and it happened. He punctured a hole in his palate. I'm not sure how or on what, I just know it's there, and I am sick. My immediate reaction of "Oh God, no!" scared Christian a little bit. I guess he thought he was in trouble. As I frantically begged him to open his mouth and let me see, he became more scared. And there it was. His beautifully reconstructed palate punctured. My heart sank, I burst into tears, and my logical self began thinking what course of action needed to be taken.

There was no blood, and no safety concern for Christian, so I decided just to call his doctors office and leave a message. Realizing that it was too late in the day to get a call back from them (they are an hour ahead of me) I called Christian's Mimi who has been to all his appointments with me in Indianapolis and asked her what I should do next. She instructed me to call one of the surgeons who had operated on Christian, Dr. Costa, and email Dr. Flores, the main surgeon on his case. Dr. Costa called me back and, at least, put my mind at ease in assuring me that we probably don't need to rush to Indianapolis for emergency surgery.

I could absolutely kick myself for letting it happen. Why didn't I just make him play in the living room? Why didn't I just leave the arm restraints on him? Ugh!!!!!!!! I am so mad at myself. Today I have failed Christian. I know he won't remember this incident, but I know it will stay with me.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why I Won't Allow My Toddler to Have Cosmetic Surgery

It strikes me as odd that I have been asked many, many times if I will have Christian undergo cosmetic surgery to repair his birth defect. Apparently, it's not an odd question to most people, because I could not tell you how many times I've been asked. The number literally lurks somewhere close to 500, if I had to guess. I am not AT ALL offended by the question, and I enjoy explaining my answer, but still, I find it odd to be asked.

Imagine your beautiful child that you simply adore. Her little button nose, those ears he got from his daddy, that little smile with that one not-so-straight tooth right up front, those freckles that dot her cheeks, that bright red hair, or that jet black hair. As you imagine that, I am sure you have a few emotions that go along with it: adoration, admiration, love. You probably think that your child is the prettiest thing you've laid eyes on. Well, when I look at my child, with tissue in the place of where eyes should be, and a crooked smile that never stops smiling, those long eyelashes he inherited from me, the three scars on his face that remind me of the journey we've been on, that head full of beautiful, dirty blonde hair, and a nose that is now slightly off because of surgery, I feel exactly the same way. And why wouldn't I? Before he was born, I dreamed of this child, I imagined myself holding him and kissing his sweet little cheeks. I prayed for this child, so fervently, that God would allow him to live and me to raise him. I loved this child, with a passion that I have yet to be able to adequately put into words. I carried this child inside of my body, a bond that is indescribable.
Our perfectly imperfect family

So let me present this question to you about your beautiful child, and then explain a few things. There will be people who don't think your perfect child is as perfect as you do. What if those people suggested to you to get your child cosmetic surgery? What if they said, "Are you going to allow doctors to fix that incredibly large nose?" or "You know doctors can remove those freckles with just a few procedures" or "If you get cosmetic surgery for your child, she will fit in better and others won't pick on her." Devastating. Unreal. Who would really allow their young child (or even teenage child) to undergo cosmetic surgery to change their features, the features that you happen to adore in them? Heck, I can remember the controversy that went on a few years ago about a new trend of teenagers getting plastic or cosmetic surgery to "fit in" better and what an uproar it caused. It's just not an acceptable thing to do.

Although Christian looks different than most people, that also hold true for me. I've had to ask myself, and answer the question, "Am I really willing to let my child undergo cosmetic or plastic surgery simply so he can "look better" or "fit in?"" And my answer is no. Now, listen to this as coming from a mother. I say that because I had a plastic surgeon at Vanderbilt COMPLETELY misinterpret this statement once. He had suggested to me to put Christian through an 8 hour neurosurgery,(Warning: this part gets a little graphic) where he would cut Christian's head open from one ear to the other, pull the skin back, cut the skull open, move the skull bone down, and reattach it with metal screws and wires that would be in Christian's head for the rest of his life. And the purpose of this MAJOR surgery? Are you ready for this? To lower his right brow bone and make his face more symmetrical. I was flabbergasted. The first thing I could manage to say was "Do you really think the ends justify the means here? Eight hour neurosurgery to just drop his brow bone?" And the doctor was shocked at my question, and didn't really answer it. He fumbled and stumbled and danced around my question, but never backed down that Christian needed this surgery. With the voice of a shaky, young mother who was so unsure about so many things, I tried to explain to the doctor why I couldn't allow that surgery, and why something so cosmetic could not possibly justify an eight hour neurosurgery. About a year later, when we were at Vanderbilt for a different specialty, a nurse was reading off Christian's chart to me. She got to the plastic surgery part, and she read "Mother refuses any more surgeries for her child." My mouth dropped. I immediately stopped her and said "THAT IS NOT TRUE!!!!!! Why would he write that?!?" And then it hit me. He completely misunderstood what I had said about Christian and cosmetic surgery.

So, don't misunderstand me on this. Does Christian need surgery? Yes. Will I allow him to have those necessary surgeries? Absolutely!!!! Do I want him to have unnecessary surgery? Absolutely not.

And here's why:
Christian will have many reconstructive surgeries over his lifetime. But there is a difference between reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery. His hard and soft palate were affected by his birth defect, and he will need to have that closed so that he can eat and talk properly. He will also have eye lids formed so that he can open and close his eyes, for protection purposes. He will have lots of surgery to correct his birth defect., and by lots, I mean several dozen  That is the short answer for what he will have done, and we will allow him to have these surgeries.

We, as a family, have decided, however, not to put Christian through lots of purely cosmetic surgeries to correct his facial features for several reasons. For one, we don't want to put Christian through more surgeries then he will already have to undergo. Surgery means that Christian will be in pain, scared, away from the comforts of home, missing out on being a child, friends, toys, fun. To add to the number of surgeries he will have just so he can "look better" seems illogical.

And it seems illogical because we think he is beautiful and perfect just as he is. So, we asked ourselves, if we really think he's beautiful, does it make sense to put him through tons of cosmetic surgery? We feel strongly about helping Christian to grow up KNOWING that he is perfect just the way he is, keeping his self esteem high, and teaching him to love himself. And we feel that we could not tell him those things and have him believe them if we do not prove that we believe them. And if we're constantly letting doctors perform surgery on him to "fix the way he looks," how can we prove to him that we believe he's perfect?

Now, that's not to say that when he gets older, if he decides that he wants the surgeries that we would say no. We would support him 100%. But for us, putting him through painful and scary procedures just so that the world will think he looks better is just simply against all logic and reason!

The truth is, no one is "perfect." We all have our own flaws. The secret isn't to get them fixed or hide them, it's to learn to love those imperfect things about yourself. The truth is also that there is no such thing as "normal." Who gets to decide what normal is, anyways? Ask two different people and you will get two completely different answers. In a world that screams "Fit in," I want Christian to know that it's okay to stand out!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is This Really What Our Society is Becoming?

Is this really what our society is becoming? I had to ask myself the question when I came across this photo on my Facebook feed today. As I read, I could feel my face getting red. My heart just broke for the mother who had to open this piece of trash, and my temper flared at the thought of someone being so nasty and full of hate. This letter, so cowardly addressed with a made up signature instead of a real name, simply makes me sick. I can just see the letter's author, tiptoeing onto this mom's front porch, stashing the note, and running away like the coward she is, before anyone could see her. 

I have a pretty good sized social media following, so I do want to address the coward who wrote that, on the off chance she sees this. But, I won't waste too much space, as she just isn't worth it. To her I say this: You need some serious emotional, and possibly mental, help if you can harbor so much hate that you feel the need or desire to attack a child with a diminished mental capacity or his family. Please seek help so that you can stop spreading the blatantly apparent emotional disease that's eating you alive from the inside.

But that's not really the reason I wanted to address this. Most of you who will read this will do so because you adore my sweet child who has a very physically evident disability. I seriously doubt that anyone who thinks the way the author of that letter does will take the time to open my blog and read it. But you guys are the ones I really wanted to share with.

When I asked myself the question "Is this really what our society is becoming" after reading this letter, I was disheartened. But immediately I began thinking of all the times that I have been attacked because of Christian's disability, and how quickly so many people came to my defense, and I remembered the force and the passion with which you have stood up for me and my family. I also thought about the 100,000+ followers Christian has, and how you celebrate every tiny achievement and every huge milestone that Christian accomplished, right along beside me, as if he was a member of your very own family. I thought of the gifts he has received and the friends we have gotten the privilege to met over the last few years. And in less time than it took to read that nasty letter, I answered my own question.

And the answer is a resounding "NO!" This is NOT what our society is becoming. This is NOT representative of the majority of our population. I believe most people would agree, that letter, that mindset, and that attitude possessed by that person are NOT okay. In fact, it's down right repulsive, sick, and straight from hell. And I think many of you would agree with me when I say that I question the mental capacity of anyone who would or could find it within themselves to author and deliver such a vile piece of garbage to another human being, let alone even think it.

I take pride in the fact that people come to me with questions about disabilities stuff. I love when people ask me questions. Some of my favorites have to be "How can I teach my children to accept people who have disabilities?" and "What is a non-offensive way to approach someone who is differently abled?" Okay, so I paraphrased there, but you get the idea. When people ask me questions like that, not only do I enjoy sharing my opinions and insights into the subject matter, but it gives me hope that there are people out there who genuinely care, who would rather wrap in love, the mama and child that were the subject of this letter, then to ever cause them any heartache.

My hope is that that letter is shared all over social media, partly because I hope that this, and a LOT of other messages of disgust, get back around to the author. But I also hope that as we share that image, we can all rally together in agreement that things like that are NOT okay, and that we can let our voices be heard in saying out loud "That is not acceptable." And hopefully one day, letters like that won't be written.

I've said this before and I will end with it because it bears repeating. In some societies, those with special needs are revered so much that people will bow down when they enter a room. It is believed that they are put on the earth not to learn like the rest of us, but to teach. Oh that WE could be such a society!!!!!!!!!!

Follow up: This letter is now making the news, and is causing outrage across the country, as it should! Read this story about the letter here:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To Parents of Special Needs Children, This is For You

To all the parents out there who have children with disabilities or special needs, who endure stares and whispers, and ugly comments, who can't post pictures of their child on Facebook without strangers making rude comments about a child who lives every day with struggles that most people couldn't imagine and couldn't handle. This is for you.

 To anyone out there who feels the need to make an ugly comment, stare, point, or whisper because someone happens to look different than you or your children, or what you deem to be "normal":

You are blessed with a child that doesn't have special needs, with a child that doesn't have a disability, with a child that hasn't had to battle a life threatening disease. Not everyone gets that blessing. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child isn't blind. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child can breathe without the help of a vent. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child can hear without the help of Cochlear implants. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child doesn't know what it's like to have chemotherapy medication running through their veins.You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that you get to watch your child take his first steps, and run and play, that he doesn't need a walker or a wheelchair to get around. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that your child has never had to have surgery, that you don't know what's it's like to sit in a hospital room and watch your child fight for his life, struggle with pain, struggle with things that some adults have never had to deal with. You should be down on your hands and knees thanking God that you're healthy, that you never had to endure these struggles yourself, let alone your children.

But yet, you can't find the time to do that because you're too busy making fun of a child who's endured more in two years than you've ever had to endure in your whole life. And let me tell you something, if that's you, your soul is black. Your soul is dark. And you need to find Jesus, and you need to get down on your hands and knees and thank Him that you were blessed with a healthy body and healthy children, because not all of us get that lucky.

Before you ever opened your mouth to make a rude comment, that parent already knew her child was different. She didn't need you to tell her. That parent already knew that her child's birth defect was visibly noticeable before you pointed it out. That parent already knew that there would be people like you who open their mouth and react before they take the time to think about what they say and how it might impact others. That parent knew, long before they ever knew who you were, that there would be people like you who don't want to know the truth, the whole story, who just want to use their words to hurt and tear others down. But let me tell you something, you should be the one being stared at, because normal people don't go around trying to destroy others.

Now that doesn't mean special needs parents are not blessed. We just get blessed in different, and usually BIGGER, ways. Let me tell you something, if I could go back, knowing what I know now, knowing the struggles we would face, I wouldn't change a single thing. I would never change who my son is and who he is becoming, because despite what you might think, and despite what you see, HE IS AMAZING.

So next time that you want to open your mouth and say something rude or hurtful about my child, why don't you drop down on your knees and thank God instead that your children haven't had to go through what mine has.