Monthly Archives: April 2016

Underwater

I have returned from getting X-rays of my nose, which confirmed what I already knew: It’s broken.

Jack straight up broke my nose.

The treatment for a break like this is a) ibuprofen and b) nothing. Because it’s not crooked and I can breathe through it, the medical community can’t do much else. So across the bridge of my nose, there is swelling, bruising, and a bump, which will probably be permanent. And it hurts, a lot.

The thoughts that have occupied my mind these last two days swing from “I’m so grateful my nose isn’t entirely black and grotesquely bulbous” and  “I’m so truly grateful I can breathe,” to “Why the hell is this happening to me?”

Asking “why” can be a stupid thing, but I’m doing it anyway.

Other things I’m asking include:

1. Was it statistically inevitable that Jack’s violence would one day physically scar me?

2. Have we now moved from Jack wrecking the house to Jack wrecking my face?

3. How much worse would I feel if Jack had broken his brother’s nose?

4. Why is Jack such a turd about noses? (Lacey and Junior are wondering the same thing; their noses have both been injured by Jack).

5. Will it ever stop? Will the violence never end?

I realize my nose isn’t the end of the world. But it feels indicative of My Entire Life with Jack. Pain—inevitable. Broken facial features—ditto. Basically just all destruction, disorder, and discomfort—these are my companions.

This post isn’t intended as a woe-is-me campaign, but an honest look at something that is out-of-control and awful.

Jack, Junior, Lacey, and I all went to the psychiatrist’s office yesterday.

(Q: How many grown ups does it take to take Jack to the psychiatrist? A: A great many).

There I learned that despite having tried almost every single anti-psychotic med to control aggression, Jack is basically her only patient whose aggression hasn’t been effectively stamped out by chemical intervention.

This is when the desolation crept in. We are essentially the only family whose heinous trial can’t be helped. This should make me laugh and shrug and say, “Of course. This is us we are talking about. When have we ever had an easy solution to anything?” Because I’m jaded.

I’m not laughing, though. My emotions are tender, like my nose.

I went to the aquarium with Charlie and Truman today for Charlie’s class field trip. It was wild there, because schools all over the state are sending busloads of children to all the museums and child-centered venues today. It’s field trip season.

I said a prayer as I slurped down my Three Cheese Poblano soup from Kneaders in the parking lot before tossing myself into the fray, “Please help me do this.”

I went inside and walked among young moms wearing fashionable ensembles, who were talking excitedly to each other about pacifier-use and trendy toddler-girl shoes. I thought to myself, “I used to be you. I used to feel that life was manageable. I used to have the energy and space in my life to care about regular things.”

And then I thought, “But today I am walking among you with a broken nose, because my son intentionally smashed his head into my face.”

We watched the penguins swimming, a graceful sight, and I thought about how all trials are consecrated for our good.

We looked at jellyfish moving ethereally in dark water, and I told myself that God is letting me grow.

The sharks swam authoritatively over our heads in their arched tank, and I thought, “The world is beautiful, and it hurts.”

 

A Strong Current

I’m going to tell you a story of something pivotal that happened to me.

You know how I write not infrequently (i.e. all the time) about my dreams and my ongoing spiritual curriculum, as it were? Well this is more of that. But there is no dreaming in this one. It’s all real.

I did a session at the temple last week. When I finally block out the four plus hours it takes from start to finish including driving time to go to the temple, I am usually motivated by a waning sense of hope. I’m weary of feeling weary. I’m tired of being fearful of the future. I’m angry about the unchanging quality of our battles, the constant ratcheting up of the trial. So I will go and then I will leave with perhaps one little nugget of clarity, which is good, because I really need that nugget.

This time, though, I went into it with my molten core of peace (yay, molten core of peace!)

There was no urgency, but there was a sense of weepy gratitude. Weepy gratitude, by the way, is much better than angry/fearful weariness.

This time, astonishingly, flashes of truth hit me repeatedly, over and over, one practically right after another.

If bits of insight were laser beams, my temple session would’ve looked like an action scene from Star Wars, with storm troopers peppering the fleeing rebels with their blasters.

(Please note: there was no actual shooting of the temple patrons. Reverence prevailed, obviously).

It was everywhere. Understanding was everywhere. It was as though light was all around me, not even necessarily aimed at me. A slight turn of my head slightly one way and BAM! Some new truth shot into me. Light followed light in a stream. It was simply there.

At one point, I felt like the top of my head had been lifted off to allow more light inside.

I am not making this up. It isn’t hyperbole. It’s my best effort to use words to describe a real thing.

Questions, things that have been nagging at my consciousness got plain, real answers. It was instruction.

The young woman sitting at my right kept looking at me, probably because I wept repeatedly, mainly over the sheer insane beauty of life itself. Adam and Eve were given bodies in the image of God the Father. We live in these actual vessels designed by God to house our spirits. So what if they are imperfect (i.e. disabled)? It’s completely amazing. There is grandeur is just being alive.

And then.

I saw Jack in my mind, but it was Jack without disabilities. I saw his spirit. I really did.

An image of a perfect Jack filled up my whole self.

He was radiant, bathed in a golden light. He was looking directly in my eyes. He was calm, smart, intuitive, whole. His head wasn’t big, but proportional. His legs weren’t huge and splotchy and different lengths. He was tall and grown and trim, but with the same bright red hair and green eyes. He looked right at me, with love.

My whole body was burning. This is Jack as he really is!

I both saw and felt love and beauty. My brain was streaming this on a loop: my son is a gift; he’s bright and heroic, he’s wrought a change on me and on us.

Seeing this was like careening over a waterfall. It caught me up entirely and rushed through me with force. It was strong like the pull of water in a rushing river is strong.

And if that vision (!) weren’t enough, I happened to glance at the wall of glass beside me. It was a giant, lovely art piece of a window, and despite having seen it many times before, this time I really gazed at it, noticing something.

I saw that suspended between the panes were blobs of glass–plump, chunky, irregular, indented. The blobs were strung together, hanging in long lines down the center of the enormous window. The effect was of a river flowing from the top of the window to the bottom, with rapids in the spots where the blobs of glass were grouped.

I clearly felt that the hard parts of my life are just like those glass blobs. Sadness, disability, slogging, suffering—these are the imperfect chunks of glass worked into the larger window with its smooth and etched parts.

This is what unfurled in my mind as I looked at that window: my challenges are the irregular, blobby chunks of glass. They aren’t smooth and devoid of flaws. They are strange. But they make the window more than utilitarian; they make it beautiful.

There would be no dimension without the unusual blobs between the panes of perfect glass.

I thought of myself in the river that is my life. For years, I’ve been mostly trying to swim upstream, which doesn’t really work. I couldn’t turn myself over to the not-knowing of what the rest of my life with Jack will look like.

That split-second image of real Jack, with a perfect body and mind, yet with the same lovely spirit dragged me over a falls. It engulfed me.

The blobs in the window bubbled up and showed me the futility of swimming against the current of God’s will for my life.

I can flow downstream with the water, trusting the source of all living things.

I don’t need to fear Jack’s future, or my inadequacy. I don’t need to fight the current.

God has already fixed everything for my family. Jesus already made Jack’s resurrection to wholeness a reality. It’s already done.

This, now, is simply an interlude between life before mortality and life after. This is intentional, and the product of love.

The river roars.

The force of rushing water is carrying me back.

Things people have said to me, of late

  1. Five-year-old boy in Primary, in the class I was sitting with for crowd-control during Sharing Time: “I. Want. OUT OF HERE.” To wit, I felt exactly the same way.
  2. Student whose brother died unexpectedly the second week of the semester: “I would never have made it through this semester if it weren’t for you.” Nobody ever talks about adjuncting as the Best Gig Ever, but, you guys, turns out it actually is.
  3. Eight-year-old Charlie: “You are in charge because you are the mom.” At last, validation.
  4. Dutch, when he returned from a fourteen-hour day with the big-time corporate muckety-mucks who flew into town for schmooze and training: “I brought you leftover gourmet pizza.”
  5. My neighbor, Chris, when she walked by as I was trying (failing) to get a certain four-year-old to come inside for bed yesterday evening, and she offered to snatch him when he ran away from me and past her: “This is SO NOT the weirdest thing anyone has ever asked me to do.” She was a rescue ninja because my children a) do not listen to me, and b) have impressive wills, which bodes well for their future success and ability to avoid peer pressure, but currently makes them jerks.
  6. Me, to myself, after a person on the phone from the insurance company, who has never met me, said that I am an inadequate parent who simply wants constant babysitting for my disabled son because I don’t know how to handle him myself: “That wet cow-pie of a rant would only hurt if I believed it were remotely true. It isn’t true and God knows it isn’t true. I am doing my level best, which is a lot harder than sitting on a phone in an office where a mentally-disabled eleven-year-old isn’t attacking you, and talk trash about someone raising a person with special-needs.” If I’d had a mic, I would’ve dropped it.
  7. My friend Jana, with conviction, when she asked about my Patriarchal Blessing and I told her some of what it says: “You didn’t want some patsy life.” This may be my favorite thing anyone has ever said to me.

When Jack Can Speak

Henry gave a brief, excellent lesson on the plan of salvation for family night yesterday. Dutch was stuck at work. Charlie asked about what heaven is like. We left to get ice cream.

The drive-through line took ten minutes. Jack fell apart after five minutes. He threw a cup of water across the car. It splashed against the dashboard.

Henry was in charge, deflecting blows, blocking Jack from climbing in the backseat and hurting his brothers, stopping Jack from hitting his head against the window.

It was clearly a little ugly, but Henry did so great. The little boys did so great. Collectively, we stayed calm and projected calm for Jack, who went from lashing out to crying. Henry gave Jack a hug. I patted his leg and told him it would be okay.

I asked him to say “sorry.” He said it. I handed him his fries. The boys got their ice cream. I got my ice water (mom life). Everything was fine.

As we drove home Charlie asked, “Does Jack freak out because he doesn’t understand?”

“Yes,” I said.

“When he gets to heaven, will Jacky understand?” Charlie wondered aloud, at which point I knew that Charlie is listening. All the time. Even when he doesn’t seem to be.

“Yes, he will. In heaven, Jacky will understand and be able to talk and not hurt anyone,” I told Charlie.

And then this came out before I even knew it was coming. “When Jack is in heaven, he will tell you boys ‘Thank you.'”

“He will say ‘Thank you for being my brother, even though it was hard.'”

And my eyes filled up because I knew it.

That someday moment. There is beauty in the anticipation.

Deep Down We All Believe a Lie

What the lie is, necessarily depends on who we are.

There must be all varieties of lies built into our bone structure, our soft tissues, our vital organs. They are false things that we’ve always believed, even when they are the exact opposite of true.

A wise friend of mine who is a therapist told me that from her 30-year-perspective of helping people overcome their neuroses, almost everyone believes they aren’t good enough.

Or smart enough, or successful enough, or capable enough, or loved enough. The manner of being not enough depends on the individual.

My lie was peripherally like everyone else’s. I exposed it during that spiritual journey I’ve mentioned obliquely.

It was a lie I believed for so long, I’m not even sure when it started, but it certainly became more pronounced when I began raising children who have special needs.

This was my lie:

God is real and knows me, but He isn’t actually going to help me, because He is disappointed in my weakness. Essentially, God is distant.

Never mind how I uncovered my deep-seated belief which straight up wasn’t true. It surfaced independent of me, and I looked at it. Looking at it made it small and untrue.

I had for years pictured God shaking His head at my failed efforts. I thought of Him listening to my prayers and literally responding with an annoyed, “If you want it fixed, YOU figure it out.” Only I couldn’t, because my problems aren’t fixable, which created a self-perpetuating cycle of me feeling not smart enough and not strong enough—feeling I was outside God’s care. That He wouldn’t help me, and that He was disgusted with my inability to help myself.

That was my lie.

My wise friend also said, “If we could save ourselves, we wouldn’t need a Savior.”

I knew God loved me, but I didn’t believe He would help me.

But the layers of silt and bracken under which the lie was buried couldn’t protect it forever. The sadness and stupidness of my lie made it fester.

Ironically, it was God’s help that drew the lie about God refusing to help right out of me.

I began having dreams about the parts of my life which confound me. My dream life is vibrant now, with regular, visionary insights into a) what matters to God, and b) what He thinks I should know to face my life another day.

Dreams, people. They are washing my sleeping self with calm and understanding.

My daytime self is better, too, because my dreams exposed the cracks in the lie.

I don’t believe it anymore.

image

 

Dream, Laugh, Blog

Dear People,

I’m having more wild dreams. They are instructive about what is important, to me and to God. I think they come from Him. They are an intersection between my subconscious and the inclinations of the spirit.

Thus, I am fairly obsessed with my dreams, and hope they are useful or intriguing to you, lest this blog become an online version of that book Eat, Pray, Love which was hugely popular a few years back, but which I just didn’t like.  I read it because it had a cool cover and an interesting title, and because it was on the Costco book table.

But I couldn’t get into it, mostly because much of the book is Elizabeth Gilbert detailing her real-life yoga meditation experiences with a guru in India.

While I have no doubt that meditating in India is a transformative thing to do, it just didn’t translate for me as a reader. I was bored when she was meditating. It was not unlike the feeling one has when one is sober while everyone else is drunk. I couldn’t immerse in her immersive yoga experience.

So, if my dream analysis gets a little too Eat, Pray, Love for you, maybe you can give me a sign. We could identify a safe word, which is code for “your dreams are great and all, but stop now.”

Perhaps “mango?” Mangoes grow in India, right? Elizabeth Gilbert probably ate plenty of fresh mango between her yoga sessions. Mango, people. If it shows up in the comments, I’ll take it to heart.

With that, I dreamt that Wes Anderson, who makes some of the funniest movies that exist, came to my house to talk to Dutch and me.

He said he would like to buy our house so that he could knock it down and built a movie set here instead. In my dream, our house was literally on a steep mountain, and Wes proposed building a ski hill/luge track for his upcoming film which apparently dealt with downhill skiing and luge racing.

I immediately thought of all the times I’ve said, “I wish I could start over in a new house, a place without ruffled, urine-soaked bathroom baseboards or holey walls or destroyed flooring.”

In my dream, I smiled at Wes, who was wearing a red parka and ski pants with a resort tag dangling from the zipper, and who was smiling back at me. “This is great!” I said to myself. “Wes can have his movie set, and I can have a house that doesn’t smell bad. Huzzah!”

But then a sinking feeling pulled at my belly.

I thought about my children’s friends, especially the ones who feel that our home is their second home. I thought about the lovely park just a block down the hill. I thought about my quiet neighborhood and the fact that we can step outside at night and still see the stars in the night sky. I thought about my backyard and the trees that are big now, since Dutch planted them eleven years ago when we moved here. I considered the people in my neighborhood, who know my kids and my kids’ quirks, and who like us because of these things, and not in spite of them. I thought of my kindred friends on this street, and on the surrounding streets.

The state of one’s baseboards isn’t an accurate representation of one’s happiness.

I woke up knowing that I was going to tell Wes Anderson no. This home we have established in a quiet, out of the way place is a protected space, a greenhouse with the right conditions to raise our family. It’s working well for us.

We are happy here, and you can’t put a price on that.

Cheers,

Megan

P.S. Remember, mango. Or not. Because I do so love the dream writing. xoxo

Charlie’s Day

Charlie was baptized today. This culminated six months of verbal and emotional preparation for a kid with so. much. anxiety over social events, being the center of attention, and experiencing pressure to perform.

We talked about following Jesus. Charlie asked why Jesus lives in outer space. We watched, several times, the lds.org video of Jesus being baptized. Charlie asked why Jesus has a beard. We talked to the bishop. Charlie asked the bishop if there are dinosaurs in heaven. Henry and Charlie walked inside the empty baptismal font a few days before and H told Charlie all about his baptism years ago. Charlie asked if I was baptized a long time ago (answer: yes). We practiced what would happen when he was baptized. Charlie asked if the water would be overflowing the font (answer: no). We showed him the towel my friend Shirley embroidered with his name and the date, and told him his dad would wrap it around him when they stepped out of the water.

Charlie said he wanted to be baptized.

We stripped the baptism ritual down to its basic structure. We cast off the talks and the musical numbers, the prelude and interlude music, and the big family celebration, keeping only a prayer, and the actual ordinances.

It took ten minutes. Just our bishop, our neighbor/high councilor, and Jeff’s parents were in attendance, in addition to my little family plus Junior and Sye, my two other honorary guys.


There were so many things that could have gone pear shaped. I envisioned Jack tossing things in the font, or even getting in for a brief swim. I pictured Jack having a meltdown complete with bellowing and hitting. I hoped Charlie wouldn’t dissolve into sobs.

Here’s what actually happened: everything went perfectly.


You could say this is because we planned it to work for our family’s needs. We let Jack wear his inside-out-and-backward Star Wars tee, and we let him bring the shop vac. We didn’t make him pose for pictures. We kept it short and quiet. We insisted on simplicity.

But the flawless baptism wasn’t a result of us thinking in specific terms of survival.

After today, I feel that God surely helps flawed peope (like us) when we hand him our meager little offering with sincerity.

 

Contentment is an inward state

Recently, Jack was angry that I wouldn’t let him eat Jeff’s birthday cake we were saving for dessert. So he ran to the garage and poured a box of Cascade detergent all through the inside of my car (Jack, not Jeff. Although maybe Jeff sometimes feels like stirring the shiz and doing such a thing. I’m not sure. We all would like to cut loose once in awhile, I suppose).

I drove to church and back covered in a powdery film that day, my car smelling exactly like the Members’ Custodial Closet. Eau de industrial cleaner; a burning, chemical fragrance.

We cleaned the car after church, clogging a shop vac and realizing that when you wipe up the remaining powder veneer with a damp towel, it simply suds.

It’s like the hot chocolate which is memorialized in my car. There are brown bits inside the steering column from The Cocoa Incident two and a half years ago, and now there is a residue of Cascade along the edge of my door and the floor mats. 

Ancient peoples left evidence of their culture in petroglyphs on rocks. Jack is stenciling my car with his own unique mark of household products.

  
Well played, Jacky.

He has upped his Sunday game, but this does not concern me as it once would have. This is what happens when one has a) a molten center of peace, and b) Junior blocking the literal hits.

And so, in my contented state, I am left to analyze my dreams. Dream Analysis Blog is baa-aack!

I have been dreaming I am at large, organized events. Conferences, Reunions, Dinners, Activities. In all of the dreams, I am a little frazzled and kind of annoyed. I am rushing around, having surface-y conversations with people, and falling behind on a list of things I am supposed to have completed. There is a sense of irritation among everyone there.

Perhaps my children, who don’t do great in large, loud groups, have influenced me to prefer more intimate settings. Maybe the dream-stress with noise and commotion is my spirit telling me that I don’t cope terrifically well with large groups, or with itineraries. Maybe I’m a bit of an old person or an introvert in that Huge Crowds! make me tired. Maybe deep down I am telling myself that busy-ness isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

My dreams seem to be telling me that doing my quiet child-raising/teaching/writing/meditating things on my own slow timetable amid perpetual outside demands is perfectly acceptable. Or perfectly desirable.

  

 

A Suitcase of Supplies

I taught my little six-pack of 13-year-olds an Easter Sunday school lesson last week about Abraham and Isaac being a similitude for Jesus Christ.

It was, unexpectedly, one of those experiences where the spirit told me what to say as I said it. I was learning while I taught my students, which is both terrifying and thrilling.

We read the story together in Genesis. We talked about the swiftness with which Abraham listened to the commandment to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Despite the awfulness of the task, he didn’t even hesitate. He just went. (Wow, basically).

As he climbed the mountain with Isaac, who carried the bundle of kindling on his back, he asked his father where the animal was that they would offer to the Lord.

“God will provide,” Abraham answered.

I imagine his palms were sweating and his stomach churning as he said this. I imagine him feeling the kind of desperate desolation I have felt regularly as the parent of a nonverbal, aggressive, developmentally-disabled, giant son.

I felt I should tell the class that an altar is a designated holy spot where we leave an offering for God. Even when the offering He wants seems too big and too much, somehow it will work out.

God reminded me of a dream I had not long ago of being at Disneyland with Henry, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law,  Mia. The four of us went to Disneyland together years ago, incidentally.

But in my dream, Mia, who now has three little children, was pregnant. She unexpectedly went into labor in a busy stairwell right there in the happiest place on earth. Such a happy way to deliver a baby, I KNOW. I know.

We all remained calm. My mother-in-law delivered the baby then and there, in a corner just out of the way of the crowds moving around us.

Then we were back in our hotel room. Mia was bundled up, resting, and my mother-in-law bustled quietly around the room, taking care of the baby. “I’m looking for something to wrap the baby in,” she whispered to me, so as to not wake Mia. “I need to keep the baby warm.”

I remembered something.  “When I was packing, I thought I should throw in a couple of baby blankets,” I said. “I’ll get them.” It makes no sense, but that’s dream life for you. I walked to my suitcase and unzipped it.

To my astonishment, I found not only baby blankets for swaddling, but also onesies, footed jammies, diapers, wipes, tiny socks, baby shampoo, swabs, and binkies. My suitcase was packed with baby supplies that I didn’t even know we would need.

I felt joy seeing that beyond the blankets, which would have been serendipitous enough, we had everything we needed. We had everything.

“God will provide,” I repeated to the teens in my class.

Things looked bleak for an obedient Abraham. But God did provide. I personally think having an angel stop you from killing the much-yearned-for son of your old age at just the exact critical moment is essentially a textbook definition of God providing.

And, He placed a ram in a nearby thicket. And it was stuck. And they already had the altar and the fire ready to go.

God will provide, because He already has.

He packed my suitcase of supplies way before I knew what even needed to be in it. He packed it with everything.

He has given us what we need at this moment in time. 

I walk up the mountain, bereft, a bundle of kindling on my back, wondering where the animal sacrifice is.

God will provide.

I set my punching, head-banging eleven-year-old on the altar.

I leave my bad, bad, difficult, never-ending Jack Is Sick weekend on the altar.

I put my not-yet-potty-trained stinky preschooler on the altar.

I set my persistent headache on the altar.

I drag the nasty hazmat couch up the entire mountain and upend it on the altar. Joyfully.

Then I hold a carefully-guarded stone of resistance over the altar. “I want what you want,” I say.

I leave it there.

  

Good Gifts

Have you ever had the feeling that the clouds are figuratively parting, the sun is bathing you in light, and now you can see for miles? That instead of wind and sleet and basically life in general hitting you in the face, there are actual rainbows and butterflies fluttering around your head?

I’m not sure that I have ever experienced before what I am currently experiencing. This feels like the first time, at least in recent memory.

It’s a lightness of being. A molten center of peace. I think it might also be described as an absence of fear.

Whatever I am calling it, it is wholeness and wellness and I honestly haven’t felt this way since before having children and possibly not since I was a little girl when I woke up early every day, uninhibited and enthusiastic, to watch both Inspector Gadget and Jem and the Holograms before walking to Crestview Elementary in my stretch pants, oversized ’80’s sweater, and high tops.

This post isn’t to say that everything is perfect. I still have the occasional headache from lack of sleep. I still feel the tightness of stress creeping up my neck from my shoulders sometimes.  Life is a little bit the same, but also a lot better.

We still have the same interminable issues, but we have more (and better) solutions. Jack still gets ear infections and attacks people when he is in pain and has fluid sloshing around behind his ear drums. Truman still wails about lots of things that aren’t going according to his inner ideal paradigm. The couch is still a giant revolting used-Kleenex/soiled-napkin that doubles as furniture.

These things haven’t changed and may never change.

I’m different though, in little and big ways. My molten core of peace is the result of the combined efforts of a) my spiritual journey (you knew I was going to say it), and b) the fresh miracles that God has straight-up handed us in the last two months.

If I’m being sort of vague and nebulous about this “journey” of mine, it’s because it’s been essentially indescribable. Also, personal. I ponder it all the time, and I want to share pieces of it. But I want to relay it meaningfully, so as not to diminish its power. I’m still thinking of ways to write about it.

And if it’s uncomfortably cheesy for you to hear me talk about spiritual things and my “journey” to understand them, you can always think of the band Journey and envision “Don’t Stop Believing” playing vehemently as you read my posts. That’s an option too.

Let me paint for you a couple of vignettes, not in the glorious manner of Louise Elisabeth Vigée LeBrun, who I frankly love and whose paintings I see not infrequently in my Instagram feed (it’s a pleasant outcome of following @metmuseum), but instead in the manner of my obstreperous life.

Marie_Antoinette_and_her_Children_by_Élisabeth_Vigée-Lebrun Self-portrait_in_a_Straw_Hat_by_Elisabeth-Louise_Vigée-Lebrun Élisabeth-Louise_Vigée-Le_Brun_-_Madame_Vigée-Le_Brun_et_sa_fille_(1786)

(A sampling of Vigée LeBrun’s self-portraits and the most significant painting of her career—her portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children; rock on, Madame Vigée LeBrun).

First, picture Jack and I at the pediatrician’s office. The bubble wall enchantingly changed color in the waiting room. Our exam room featured photographs of different-colored jellyfish. We went several times this week, fortunately with Man Therapist, whose name happens to be Junior. 

I can’t keep calling him Man Therapist here. It’s too weird. He’s Junior, and he spends thirty hours a week with us, so get used to hearing about him.

Anyway, pediatrician’s office. We kept going back due to the fact that Jack was biting people at school. Because ear infection. And more lingering ear infection. Also lingering head-banging on tables and walls. Because ear infection. 

  
Junior comes along for all the doctor’s appointments and acts as pal/therapist/bouncer/second-helpful-adult. He also helps Jack with essentially everything, from requiring that Jack pick up his backpack and shoes which he throws on the sidewalk while getting off the school bus, to picking up Jack and carrying all 150 lbs of his dead weight upstairs to his room for a time out when Jack starts throwing punches.

This is what I mean when I talk about miracles and so forth. Instead of Jack hitting me or his brothers when he is upset, he swings at Junior, who catches Jack’s fists and gently helps him down from his angry precipice.

Now, picture me communicating weekly via text with the director of the second respite facility we have recently added to Jack’s list of Places He Can Go When There is No School and He is Going Stir Crazy at Home. This means that even though one center can’t take him during the long weekdays of Spring Break, the other one can, and we are thus living in a state of shiny, silvery blessedness.

These story vignettes don’t look anything like a Vigée LeBrun painting, but they feel alike to me. These miracle stories have a similar quality of textured reality. 

God gave Louise Elisabeth Vigée LeBrun the gift of creating beautiful works of art. He is giving us the customized tools necessary to help us raise Jacky.

They are good gifts. Just like Jacky. 

  
(Junior and Truman watching for the boys’ bus)