World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  Something I never really thought about before until my sweet youngest niece, Lydia, graced this world with her presence.  Of course, I knew about Down syndrome.  I knew that people with Down syndrome seemed to have such a innocence and wonder about them and that the people that had the privilege of having these people in their lives were so incredibly blessed.  However, I never knew how it felt personally until the birth of my niece.

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Let me back up to almost a year ago.  My sister, who was already a mother to three, got the surprise of her life when she found out she was pregnant again.  At the gender ultrasound, she got the second shock of her life….she was having TWINS!!  Babies are a family affair in our family so I went to almost every appointment I could (AKA ones she let me come to, lol).   I was so excited for my baby sister that I jumped out of my seat….then ran to her side to hold her hand as the news sunk in (five kids is a lot to process, you guys).  It was a crazy day, to say the least.  As the ultrasound appointment seemed to go on forever, and the ultrasound tech got quiet, I began to wonder if something was wrong.  Back in the examination room, the doctor walked in with the weirdest face.  I’ll never forget it, he looked like someone kicked a puppy in front of him and he was there to tell us about it.  He looked so sad.  That’s when he told us, he said “with the measurements on the ultrasound, one of the babies looks like it could have Down syndrome.”  Me and my sister looked at each other, then back at the doctor and pretty much said “So?” at the same time.  The doctor started going over tests they could perform to know for sure and talked about “options from there.”  My sister looked him dead in his face and said “No, it doesn’t matter what the tests say.”  Talk about a proud big sister moment!

The twins were born five weeks early.  One boy, and one girl….and they were both beautiful and perfect.  I was there to witness the little joys coming into this world and my heart swelled as they breathed their first breaths.

They just recently celebrated their first birthday’s.  Lydia’s twin brother, Liam, is a little ahead of her, but she is definitely catching up to him quickly.  She has this way about her….she stares so intently into your eyes, like she’s looking into your soul.  She holds onto your face while you talk to her.  I never want her to stop holding my face while looking into my eyes.  She gives the sloppiest kisses and smiles all the time.  This world would be seriously lacking without her in it.

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I’ve recently read articles about places that instantly abort babies with this syndrome, and it makes me sad.  Not just for the children who were aborted, but for the people who could have experienced so much joy and love and snuffed it out before even giving it a chance.  I’m not going to say that it’s easy….being a parent isn’t ever easy.  Even when all events line up to the mythical perfect time to have a baby, it’s still hard.  It’s hard because being a parent means we have to stop being selfish and care for someone other than ourselves…and that is hard…but SO INCREDIBLY WORTH IT! 

I asked my sister what she would want people to know about having a child with Down syndrome, and this is what she said, “Having a child with Down syndrome is one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I’m not only teaching her, but she is teaching me as well.”

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An Easter Miracle

I leaned my head back on the head rest as the rolling hills of Pennsylvania turned into the neat squares of flat corn fields of Ohio. I counted squirrels nests in the trees and prayed for family as we traveled to the Great Wolf Lodge with daughter Amerey and family. My life seemed to be a flurry of activity lately. And some of the flurry had culminated in a major decision that day in my charcoal Subaru. It was the death of an idea, the purchase of an historic home to convert into a retreat center. I had immersed myself in plans, meeting with contractors and dragging my realtor-sister to the home weekly for a new bid from wary contractors who looked at me as if I had lost my head. I had. I lost my head in a dream. A dream to run a retreat center for adoptive and foster parents. The Bower House boasting of seven thousand square feet,nine bedrooms and six bathrooms seemed to be an answer to my prayer. Driving down the interstate to our mini vacation, Jerry and discussed the obstacles and decided there were too many. Too much money. Too many unknowns. The death of an idea, but not the death of my dream.

It seemed as if God had planned this mini vacation so I could gaze into the smiling faces of my grandchildren and laugh. I needed to soak in the blessings that God had given me. Splash and laugh with a two year old. Listen to the happy babble of a five month old.

It was Good Friday and we spent it playing in the water, napping and playing games that spit out tickets to spend on tiny trinkets. I went through the stations of the cross in my head. I could feel the deep dark hard wood of the pews under my body. I could see the stations dimly lit and hear the monotone voice of the priest. All those years of stations embedded in the deep grooves of my brain. They were there. I knew the history of Jesus riding through town on a donkey and the children shouted, “Hosanna!”. I play and replay the Last supper, the betrayal, the Crucifixion. And I watch the smiling faces of parents and children in the water park. Jesus died for them. He loves them.

The lights went out early in our family suite to accommodate the little girls’ sleeping schedule. I laid there in the dark and prayed again for family, friends and anything I could think of. I thought of my younger sister, Tash.” No cancer,” the report said. We rejoiced and then the news of a needed surgery to remove the tumors. A divorce pending on the horizon. A daughter fighting to stay clean and sober. I slept in fits. Waking and praying. Sleeping on a cloud of odd dreams.

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I awoke to sound of the sweet voice of granddaughter, Cecilia. She wakes happy and ready to tackle the day. Then baby Moira, smiling and sleepy eyed. “Mom, I need you to come with me for a minute,” Amerey said, grabbing my elbow. We went in the hallway and she knocked on the door diagonal to our’s. I stood silent and confused. The door opened. My sister Tash stood there with her long red hair in a pony tail. She smiled. “What?!” My mind reeled. How could she be here? Four hours from home? At the same Great Wolf Lodge? “I’m here with _____ ‘s family.” (Tash is a full time Autism mentor for a small boy and the family had also planned a mini vacation for Easter weekend.)

After I calmed down and stopped crying, she said, “I told God I wasn’t going to get to see any family for Easter and he heard my prayer. Here you are.”  We spent some moments here and there at the water park and caught up. This was an answer to my prayer, too. An Easter miracle. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is active in me. It is powerful enough to conquer death and bring life into situations that we think are dead. When we feel no hope or circumstances seem to smash us around and drag us down like a whirlpool, Jesus is there. He is actively praying at the right hand of the Father, interceding for each of us.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday, join us!

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I want you to love your seasons

by Amerey Campbell (read more about Amerey here.)

While I was rocking my child back to sleep tonight, after she had woken herself back up, AFTER  fighting sleep for an HOUR (come on GIRL!). I thought back to a young girl sitting in a white basement college classroom quietly, dreamily,  planning her upcoming wedding while everyone else diligently took notes from the professor. That girl (me) could not get through the next couple weeks fast enough, and yet her wedding day has come and gone. WAIT (back to the mother rocking in the dark room) my wedding day has come and gone, as have three anniversaries, the birth of my first child, and my child’s first birthday!

WHERE HAS TIME GONE?!?

Sure, we all ask ourselves this question at least once a week, but for a moment, stop and really think about it.

Our lives are whizzing by faster than we EVER imagined. AND YET, we cannot wait to get through seasons of our lives. We are so so incredibly anxious for “this time” to be over.

Like me, my daughter has always been a poor sleeper, from the day that she was born, there was, and are, way to many things going on in her life for sleep to be a priority. I remember those sleepless nights oh so well (because it was YESTERDAY!) Holding my sleepless newborn, willing my eyes to stay open, telling myself, “This is just a stage, she will grow out of it soon.” And then again with my six month old, “I thought you were suppose to be sleeping a little better by now?!” Sitting around a table with a handful of other mothers telling one, “ don’t worry if your four month old isn’t sleeping for five hours yet, my one year old still wakes up 5 to 6 times a night.” And then tonight as I held my 17 month old close against my chest bouncing and humming for the second time, I thought about my wedding, her birth, her birthday, her younger sibling growing within my womb, and I wondered, why do I want this sleepless season to be over? why do I long for the day when she will no longer need my body agains hers to go to sleep? Why? Because of how little sleep I get? Who cares?! I want a million babies and they will all come with no sleep. This is a beautiful season in my daughter’s life, she is small and vulnerable, she is mine to hold and comfort, and bring rest to. Shame on me for wishing away this “mama” season in my daughters life. Shame.

We start as children, wishing to be like older brothers, friends, cousins. I wished my childhood seasons away, always wanting the next. I can see it in my daughter already, as she looks on envious of what the older kids on the playground can do. She just wants that season now, and then the next, now.

No, little girl! I want you to love your seasons! Each and every one of them. I want you to thrive in them! To rejoice and be glad in them!

O Lord please help me enjoy every one of my children’s seasons, keep me from rushing them on to the next for convenience sake. But most of all Lord help me teach my children to be thankful and love their current seasons. I never want them to feel like I’m rushing them through life, or that they have to rush through life. Help us love our seasons.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Three Ladies Blogging

I used to think my children would stay young forever. I thought there would always be another tea party, another puppet show, another story to read. When they grew up, I was shocked. Flabbergasted as if it happened over night. One moment I was combing unruly little girl’s curls and wrestling them into pink bows and the next minute we were discussing dating and then those girls kissed me goodbye. Life is not static. It moves. Ebbs and flows. As soon as you think you have something figured out, it changes, like a chameleon.

Some Positive Changes Ahead

My Three Girls(click to read more) have always been poetic souls. Readers. Writers. Watchers. All three of them.

It seems like yesterday that Amerey was doodling her name in my journal, all crooked and swirly. And Audrey wrote stories all day long about other worlds and other languages. Now they are all grown up with families of their own. Not only do they have families-they have ideas, wisdom, knowledge and something to contribute on Positive Adoption. Yep. They are joining the team and the youngest lady- Ania continues in her role as photographer.(pun intended if you remember rolling film)

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Amerey, husband Seth and daughter, Cecilia

Amerey Campbell is the second of my seven children. She is a wife and mother and lover of Jesus. Amerey’s days are filled with chasing a toddler, laughing with her husband, trying Pinterest projects, cheering on the WVU Mountaineers, and reading books. Her favorite things are sunshine and chili. If you could only use two words to describe her, they would be music and mercy. She’s probably writing most of her posts on her iPhone while her daughter hides the clean laundry under furniture.

Audrey's family
Sam, Audrey, baby Pip, Lucy, husband Adam, Theoden

Audrey Simmons is a fun person. She is the oldest of  my children,.Her experience in helping  raise six siblings shows in her stunning Mothering and wife skills. She has four amazing small humans (two identical ones) living in her house, as well as one husband. She is a creative thinker and always has n project going on for her children. She shares deep and witty conversations with her husband. A top-notch advice giver, Audrey often exhibits her multi-tasking skills by having many conversations at once via the Internet. She speaks fluent toddler, and is a praise worthy writer. If you are ever looking for her, she is usually hiding out in her kitchen in the morning drinking coffee and eating a Cadbury egg.

Amerey is blogging every other Thursday, starting tomorrow!

Audrey will blog on Tuesdays starting April 28th.

I will continue to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, every other Thursday and occasionally Fridays.

Three ladies blogging.

Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor at:

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