In Celebration of Life

My cursor blinks rhythmically on the screen, waiting… I sit in front of it, compelled to write something about how I am feeling after watching the most disturbing and depressing movie I have perhaps ever seen.  After watching it last night, I cried as I looked deeper into the issue of assisted suicide, or as it has been deceivingly called: Death with Dignity.

I thought about diving into the issue of suicide, whether “assisted” or not, of depression, loss, etc.  I thought of how to weave my empathy for those suffering from debilitating mental illnesses, chronic pain, terminal illnesses or life-changing accidents, into the very divided issues of death, dying and our  “right to choose.”  And while I pour over the sadness and pain these people no doubtingly feel, there are also those who never get such a “chance:” children who would choose life but never will be able; children who have never known anything but death, destruction and disability, like 5-year old Omran from Syria.

So as my cursor blinks and my heart aches with my racing mind… how does one address such an issue?  For certain, it is not one issue, but a multi-faceted topic that touches each human being on this Earth.  We have all known death.  Pain.  Loss of some form.  Known or experienced first hand mental illness.  We have all been faced with choices that have altered our lives forever.  And depending on how we have experienced these, coupled with our beliefs, we as a people have wide views on such hard topics.  Some may argue that because of these different beliefs and experiences, are we all correct in our thinking?  If you can make a fair argument for why this man should be allowed to take his life, are you right?  If I can make a fair argument in opposition, am I not also right?  We use words such as “choice,” “this is my body,” “my life.” As a fellow blogger put it: we live in the era of ME.

But I do not want to discuss choices or right and wrong.  I think my position is probably clear that I am for life.  I do not say pro-life because I am not limiting my statement to abortion.  I am for all life.  Every life is worth living. And so, in opposition to the movie (yet so appropriately titled), Me Before You, I would like to celebrate examples of lives that could have been seen as lost, but instead were turned into something extraordinary.

I first read the book about Joni Eareckson Tada before the age of 12, at the recommendation of my mother.  An incredible athlete from a young age, Mrs. Tada became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a diving accident.  Like the character in the film, she experienced the depression and helplessness of her new disability.  Yet with beautiful dignity, she did not choose death.  Instead, she became a famous artist using her tongue to create unbelievable artwork for the whole world to admire.

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Another example and similar story is that of Marcus C. Thomas.  He was a triathlete who also became a quadriplegic after a horrible accident.  He learned to paint using only his tongue. Like Tada, he has given the world not only inspiration and perseverance, but also true beauty through his story and artwork.

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A woman named Celestine Tate Harrington did not suffer a tragic accident, but instead, was born with a congenital joint condition that eventually left her without the use of her arms and legs.  But she lived her life happily, and was known for her cheerful, bubbly personality.  In addition to her contagious disposition, she was an accomplished street musician.  More astonishingly than that, she gave birth to a little girl and fought for custody in the most remarkable way: After seeking public assistance for her child, she instead found herself before a judge and courtroom ready to deem her unfit because of her disability.  To the complete surprise of them and the world, she dressed and undressed her baby girl in the courtroom using only her teeth!  She won custody of her daughter, and a year later, moved her and her daughter to their own home.  She supported them both by the money she earned playing music using only her mouth!  She died at the age of 42 from complications of her condition.

Another remarkable story is that of Talia Joy Castellano. She battled childhood cancer bravely for over six years until her death at the age of 13.  She used her living years to create YouTube makeup videos, showing the world both her struggle and beauty.  She was also a Covergirl model with a YouTube channel that amassed a huge, supportive following.

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There have been many other stories of children who battled and died of cancer who, instead of choosing death, used their lives to do amazing things for the world.  Trevor Sims died of cancer at the age of 11, but not before using his illness and struggle to raise money and food donations for the Baton Rouge Food Bank.

These are just a few of the countless people who have lived their lives to the fullest.  I have no doubt that they faced fear over their conditions, depression and maybe even wished they could end their suffering early.  But they saw the beauty in their lives and embraced it, in turn, leaving our world that much brighter because of their struggle.

They saw the truth: Every life is worth living.

 


Conversations in the Grocery Store

Today’s edition: “Zombie Apocalypse vs. Alien Invasion – Which is better?”

Leave it to kids to ponder such things!  Especially my very imaginative 12 year old.

At some time between check-out and the car, he began monologuing, I mean, discussing, the pros and cons of each and why one was overall preferable to the other.  With an alien invasion, most of the world is likely to be zapped in an instant.  I admit that at first I thought this was a good thing.  Can’t worry about stuff if you’re already zapped dead, right?  But no, I was not following his logic…

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You see, this kid is not about less pain, shortened misery or just ZAP and dead.  No, he is about survival.

With a zombie apocalypse, death is not a sure thing, but running for your life all day and night is.  Since not everyone will be infected, those not plagued will have the opportunity to find safe havens and work on a cure.  He even suggested pretending to be a zombie by wearing makeup like Bill Murray did in Zombieland.  Also, a 12 year old boy running around shooting zombies is a thrilling thought.

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So, after much explaining, he was that much stronger in his conviction: Out of the two end of the world fantasies, we should all hope it’s zombies instead of aliens – just don’t get caught by a zombie you think is only wearing makeup, but is actually a real zombie!

*Photos are not my own – Google images and sparrowsoireeblog.com


Two….

This one is trouble. He’s illegally adorable, extremely loveable and very smart. 

Why are these things bad??


Car Washes and Scared Kids – a How To

I distinctly remember being terrified of the car wash. Everything about those spinning whips that pounded and rocked the car seemed wrong.  I don’t recall, however, if I cried or attempted a protest or hyperventilated.

My kids – all seven – have done one or all of these.

Some of the kids hyperventilated so terribly that I removed them from their car seats and rocked them through the terrifying ordeal. I’ve tried turning up the music to drown out the sound of my car’s beating. I’ve even neglected washes all together for quite awhile. But eventually, I get sick of the doodles all over the dirt and decide a wash is necessary.

For my four year old, the best remedy is to simply let him out of the car with my oldest. He actually goes into hysteria otherwise.  It’s like torture. So out he goes…

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The little two year old devised his own plan called: “I just won’t look…”

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Then I tried to tell them the car wash is cool. “Hey kids, look at all the psychedelic colors!”

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It almost worked!  Little two was brave enough to steal a peek:

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As for baby, the ones remaining can still distract her 😉


First Birthday

The other day, the baby of our family turned one. Everyone says this, but I want to strongly repeat: They grow up so fast.

Yes, many of the nights are long, and some in the beginning are sleepless. There are the daily ups and downs with bringing up children. But each child is so precious! And in the blink of an eye, they go from tiny and helpless in our arms to bouncing about with their own distinct personality.

Happy first birthday!

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The Purpose Behind the Struggle

As you readers know, I took a small leave of absence from blogging. I’m not sure what I had hoped to gain from the time away, if anything, but I know that I was quite overwhelmed when I made the decision to leave.

Not much has changed since then. I’m still overwhelmed most days. I still homeschool my oldest four and chase the younger three. As my husband has moved jobs several hours from us, I have spent the last few months as the sole adult in the home. I collapse into bed with my four year old, who is afraid to sleep alone, no earlier than 11pm every night. I wake up exhausted and burnt out. I struggle to find joy and purpose in all things now. Life is in limbo…

But this afternoon I went to a graduation. Before yesterday, I didn’t even know about it. The girl is the fifth of six homeschooled children to graduate. I’ve known the family since I was in elementary school, but only recently have we reconnected. The girl’s mother has been a blessing to us this past year, so when I found the invitation in the mail yesterday, there was no question as to whether or not I would be going.

The speaker,  Tim Lambert of the Texas Homeschool Coalition , was inspiring. The fact that I was able to listen to him address the parents, graduates and guests, was a blessing, as I usually can’t focus on anything other than three toddlers. But as he spoke words of encouragement for us all, I felt a sense of peace in my struggle.

I may wake up many more times throughout the next 16-18 years questioning myself, and that’s normal. Taking on the raising of children, no matter how many you are entrusted with, is a HUGE job. Overseeing their education is also no small feat. I know that I will meet certain challenges because of my kids with special needs, family issues, and life in general.  But I also know that each day I must get up and continue. It’s the most worthy of endeavors. Our children are the future.

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Something’s Gotta Give

I’m not a blogger who has amassed a large following, but I imagine that if I were, readers might wonder what happened if I suddenly disappeared. Did I die? Did tragedy strike? Perhaps an explanation can’t always be given in such instances.

However, I do have a few followers and I feel maybe for them – and closure for myself – that I should offer up something.

I feel that I’ve lost sight of who I am, what I’m doing, and how to be a good parent to seven very deserving children. I’m failing them and myself.

And yes, there has been a few tragedies. No deaths, thank God. But I think for at least “awhile,” something’s gotta give.

So I don’t know when or if I’ll be back, but a part of me will truly miss this blog and the bloggies I follow. Hopefully, my retreat from things such as social media and distractions from the here and now, will help in my quest to regain my focus…

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