DOWN SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH // dressing in strength

Seven months later and I am swooning for my little girl. I love her smile and the sweet dimples under her eyes. I love her chunky legs and arms. (I am kissing them constantly- poor child). I love the way she lights up when she hears her sister's voice. I love the way she feels next to me when I rock her in my arms and the weight of her body when she drifts to sleep. I love her wavy curls and the way her hair reflects a hint of red in the sunlight. I love the way she looks at her Daddy in church and the way music calms her spirit.

I absolutely love my child. I am thankful for her, grateful for her. I love her for who she is and who God made her. I still would not choose for her to have Down syndrome, but I see so much more than Down syndrome when I look at her. I see my prize, Lindie Fern.

Parenting Lindie so far has felt different in different seasons. My fickle spirit.

First there was the season of shock and survival. The first few months of her life. Learning about her diagnosis, her time in the NICU and the month(ish) of mild depression that followed.

Then there was a season from three to six months(ish) of bonding and calm. We began to re-establish a routine and get into a groove as a family of four, all the while getting to know her, while falling in love her.

Now, I think we are entering a new season. It's fresh, so I can't accurately name it yet. Part of it includes getting to know Lindie's personality more. I love that. I love seeing her excited about certain toys or noises or even when she is mad or sad about something. (Just this week --for the first time!-- she cried for me in her crib when I put her down for a nap and smiled when I came back to pick her up. The sneaky girl). Another thing we as parents are growing in is becoming her advocate. This month we will be participating in our first (of many!) Buddy Walks. Last month I traveled to Chicago for the annual DSDN Rockin' Moms conference and even my current goal of blogging the month of October is all evidence of our excitement to advocate for her and other kiddos like her.

But there's a difficulty in this season too. One of the hard things about this season is the wave of medical stuff that has come upon us. Nothing urgent or scary and nothing expensive (praise Jesus for Medicaid!), just a lot of appointments and therapy and goals and always researching about more therapy and more goals.

In an average week we have about three appointments with various doctors or therapists. Sometimes we may have as many as 5. We always have at least one (therapy). (Later this week I'll share more about what specialists we see and why). On weeks with only one appointment (which honestly happens, like, never), I feel pretty good. We get out. We go to the park or a playdate or initiate a fun hangout with friends. But on the average week, it's hard. By Wednesday I am usually exhausted. I am tired. I am worn down. By 8pm I just want to sit and drink a beer and watch Call the Midwife in my jammies. (And yes, I do this because I have a good husband who will pick up the slack while I drink beer and watch Call the Midwife in my jammies). :)

I think it's a season of feeling tired. Really tired. Exhaustion.

Recently I've been struggling with the lie that I'm not strong enough to be Lindie's mom. I look around and see all of these other characteristics in other moms and I can't help but think they would be a better fit to be Lindie's mom than me. I see them and think, "God, that's just not me. I'm just not strong enough. I don't have this quality like her or this other quality like her. I'm just not cut out for this." And at first I really thought it was true.

But then I realized something: none of us are really cut out for any of this. Special needs or not. None of us are really cut out for any of this, apart from Jesus.

A few weeks ago the Lord brought me to Proverbs 31:17

"She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong."

This has been mind-blowing for me, friends. MIND-blowing. All along I thought this "strength" that was needed to be Lindie's mom was lacking in me when really it is nothing of the sort. Instead, it's a strength that comes from the Lord. It's a strength I can put on in the morning (she dresses herself in strength) and go about my day- feeding Lindie, pumping breastmilk for the millionth time, taking the girls around town for appointment after appointment. And then when I come home it's the kind of strength I can take off when I want to sit on my couch and not feel strong or lay in my bed and cry or text my mom and feel sorry for myself. (Because those things are needed sometimes, too). ;)

And another MIND-blowing thing- with the help of the Lord we can make our arms strong. What do we do with our arms? Well, as a mom I do so much. I feed Lindie. I hold Lindie. I help her with her physical therapy and give her medicine. I prepare meals for my family. I hug and hold hands and pray with my arms. I do so much with my arms. And the word says I can make my arms strong! But much like any physical activity that takes time and practice and routine, strengthening of my arms takes time and practice and routine. It's not something I'm going to *get* right away. It's going to take building up muscle.

So in this crazy, new season I am pressing in to these things- reminding myself to put on strength and taking the time to strengthen my arms. And I do believe it is just a season. I believe there will be easier seasons ahead (and harder ones too) but I am so encouraged to be serving a God who is working in me now, strengthening me each morning to get dressed and make my arms strong.

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