Shining Light

Gratitude

Seven Year Storm

February 26, 2019

This road I’ve walked for the last seven years, many of you right along side me, has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, gratefulness and grief.  It’s hard for me to go back and read some of my old posts, some of my old journal entries.  The ones where I remember clawing, scraping, searching for whatever shred of hope I could at the time, always wondering when it would end.  When would the grief, heartache, utter difficulty of processing this life would fade into the background and emerge into the sunlight, coming out of the wilderness?  I mean, I’m not sure if I’m there.  But maybe it feels that way?  Seven years of emotion-ing, comprehending, figuring, okay-ing feels like I’ve put in my time.  I can close the door on that, right?

The last few months, my mind and my heart have been rewarded with a time of ease, an overwhelming peace, really.  I’ve felt myself emerging from the fog of seven years of everything listed above.  And man, it feels so very, very good.  As my girlfriend put it yesterday, it is finally freaking well with my soul.  I haven’t exactly nailed the “why?” yet.  Why all of a sudden life feels really good, settled, fulfilled now?  But to be honest, I don’t care.  I’ve wrestled with the “why” for a very long time and some part of me always will.  And a big part of me knows “why” is the worst question ever, because there’s never an answer or good enough answer, no matter how much searching goes on.  I’ll accept this generous gift of peace and contentment with pleasure, no questions asked.  (For now.  Ha!) 

I feel an immense gratitude for this.  It’s true.  When you’ve walked through seemingly never-ending valley that I have, the mountains are so, so sweet.  This mountaintop isn’t even remarkable or exciting.  It just feels like peace.  I always pictured mountaintops to be when something amazing happens to you or everything is going right in your life.  I’m beginning to think it’s not that dramatic.  Just a settled sense of satisfaction, perhaps.  Or maybe an opportunity when you aren’t fighting something and your heart can process the goodness of your life, instead of the difficult circumstance.  Actually, I hope that mountaintop looks more like a mesa!  A nice flat surface at top that lasts a good, long while before the ground gives way again.  I know there are always rocks to navigate, either up over the top or to swerve around, but a peak nonetheless.

With Elena, there are always rocks in our path that look like heartaches, suffering, difficult decisions to be made, medical issues she faces.  A bumpy ride is a 100% guarantee.  For the most part, I accept that, though it still stings.  I am still learning and trying to understand how different our lives are from most, outside the obvious physical and emotional challenges of having a child (who is growing longer and bigger by the day!) with special needs.  It is woven into our every day lives and into every single decision we make.  There are a plethora of ways this both directly and indirectly affects our lives.  There are tangible, expected ways and there’s emotional hurts and realizations you would never know.  It is a driving force in our lives, but we know that and (most days) we accept that. 

In other words, life ain’t perfect.  Everyone knows that.  I just want to be certain I’m honest.  Despite whatever good, Instagram-able, rosy picture I paint, it’s not perfect.  It may be those things, but I’ve still got probs!  Just fewer, less, “a bomb went off in the middle of my life” probs.  I hope this is a comfort to someone out there.  Like, hey girl….I just endured seven years of you name the problem it probably happened to me in some way, shape, or form….I get you.  I can relate.  It’s really hard and really sad and really miserable.  Find the good in the storm, no matter how ridiculous or small.  Hang on and ride it out.  It ends.  It always does.  Even better, write it down for the world to see (or maybe just in a private journal!), and it will eventually give your pain a purpose.  For me, writing it got it out, marked my place, my battle and looking back, helped me see all the answered prayers that I didn’t even remember praying.  I still try to recognize the answered prayers, no matter how small they may be, and use that to push me forward with gratitude and confidence that I am being heard and I’m not alone. 

The last couple days my heart was heavy with the reality that Elena has to endure so many challenges.  Specifically, how her little body fails her all the time, wondering how this feels and if she suffers.  Her muscles are tense and often immovable.  She is unable to really communicate with us other than basic expressions.  There’s so much interaction she misses out on because of this and because her body struggles to perform the simplest of movements.  Relationships with peers, with us and with her brothers can be tough.  Yesterday, God cut away the sadness in my heart during Elena’s weekly PT session.  Unprompted, both Calvin and Turner joined Elena for most of her session, practicing sitting, taking steps, doing her stretches and tummy time, all while cheering her on and demanding her PT to HELP HER! when she struggled with something.  To see them with her, beside her, helping her, cheering her gave me the glimpse my heart needed to see, the connection, even without the understanding.  What a win this was for my heart.  What an answered prayer it was, that I didn’t remember praying. 

Practicing sitting

Tummy Time

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

Meet The Gals