What’s That Sound, Volume Four.

We read the bible almost every night to our kids, they go to Sunday School, and we have conversations about God. But you never know what they’re really picking up and what they’re not.

And what they’re pondering in their heart of hearts.

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A few months ago, I had this conversation with Noah.

Noah: “They have cars in heaven.”
Me: “They do?”
Noah: “Yes. Last time we went there they had cars there. I played with them.”
Me, slowly turning and a bit scared, “uh. What?”
Noah: “At heaven. They have cars. And they had a Mater seat and I sat on it – ha!”
Me, wondering if Jesus sits on a seat shaped like a Pixar Character, “Can you say all that again?”

He enunciated it all again, very clearly and with no misunderstanding

I stared at him, confused and silent. Then Ali came to my rescue. “Oh Mom – He means the Blevins’ House! They have a Mater seat that he sat on.”
Noah: “Yeah – the Blevins.”

Blevins …. Heaven … a completely understandable misunderstanding.

After I shared that story with the Blevins, they actually passed on the Seat of Blessedness to Noah – their boys had outgrown it, and Noah needed a piece of heaven in his life.

And it has been well-loved.

Mater Chair

I thought we had cleared up the differences between The Blevins and Heaven until last week.

I was rocking Noah and we were discussing all the things. He asked, “Is heaven at the Blevins’ house?”
“No…The Blevins house is not Heaven, as fun as it is.”
“Oh. Well. At the Blevins’ house do we not ever die?”
“No. That’s heaven – not the Blevins.”
“Oh. Well. When I get to heaven can I ask Jesus if angels wear shoes?”
“Yes. You absolutely may ask Him that.”
“Do you think Jesus has a beard?”

Because these are the important matters of faith.

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From the backseat:

“Mommy, can I drive the car when I grow up?”

”Yup. In 12 birthdays.”

“Okay great. Now how do I turn on the Frozen soundtrack again?”


Noah had the hiccups.

Me: “When you were in my tummy, you got the hiccups all the time!”

Noah: “And then I turned into poop and came out!”

…thanks to my husband for Pre-K digestion lessons.

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After an emotional day, I asked Noah at bedtime if he would please stay little forever.

At first he agreed, then said, “Well, no…in a few whiles I’ll be giant like you.”

Then he went on to add, “When YOU get bigger you’ll have a beard like Daddy.”

Because, scientific reasoning.

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Noah, in trouble and trying to deflect…

(giggle) “You’re funny, Mommy.”

“Why am I funny?”

“Because Jesus Loves You! That’s why you’re funny.”


A small sampling of callbacks after bedtime:

“I have a fingernail problem!”

“I have good news and bad news. The good news is you like cuddling with me. The bad news is you can’t touch fireworks.”


And a couple from Ali…

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Ali went to two weeks of summer day camp at our Church (voted the best in the city, I might add.) This week was Studio Week, where every team made a movie. On the way to camp this morning, she was telling me about the different movies.

“The Orange Team must be making ‘The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe’ because there was a girl who looked like Dorothy with a basket and a dog that looked like Toto inside of it.”

“You mean ‘The Wizard of Oz’?”

“Oh yes. ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I get them confused because the movies are so much alike.”

Just so you know I’ve failed as a parent.


We all sat down at the kitchen table – at the same time – with the table set and everything.

Ali gasped and said “We’re sitting here?? For dinner??? This is what Royals do!”

I swear we have regular family meals. I think.

An Anniversary of Questions.

140401c Sunset Through the Bamboo

June has come back around.

It has been a year since I quite suddenly became unwell.

I remember the night that it started – a Friday night – wide awake half the night, my lungs overcome with pain and feeling like they’d been deflated, my head dizzy and full of pressure, my heart beating faster than a Shakira song and my mind petrified about what could make me feel so wrong. The next night, I slept sitting up because every time I laid flat I thought I was going to die.

On Sunday I went to the Doc in the Box, positive that whatever was making me feel this near-death would be immediately evident to whatever doctor drew the short straw of the Sunday afternoon shift.

How nice that would have been.

It took four agonizingly slow months, six doctors, and a dozen tests to get a diagnosis of exclusion – a diagnosis that says “We acknowledge that you are sick. We see the problem. However, we have no idea what is causing it. Here – take some pills to control the symptoms.”

The diagnosis was Dysautonomia, and the drugs were beta blockers, designed to make my heart slow down. Those pills have been a blessing and a curse. A blessing that they have helped with most of the symptoms many days, and a curse for their side effects (hello exhaustion, hair loss and weight gain.) But I realize exactly how valuable they are when I forget to take one, become nearly (or literally) bedridden, and am reminded how very, very sick I still am – and that I’m just masking a mysterious behemoth. I’m in the process of trying to completely change medication types right now, hoping to find a way to have more good days than bad.

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All of the initial tests gave me a way to write about what was going on without being too serious, but the last six months have been difficult to spin. I’ve written half a dozen update posts since, but have published none of them. They contained the long, painful details of the process, the symptoms, the feelings, the side effects, the frustrations. But every time I started to re-read a post for editing, they felt so arduous that I couldn’t make it through them again, so I certainly couldn’t subject anyone else to them.

But that’s the problem. Writing is often grueling now. Getting thoughts to form and being able to write them out is impossible at times – and it’s made worse when I go back and comparatively read my writing from over a year ago. I think to myself, “I was so much better. Will it come back? Will thoughts come easily again?” Your kind words and support have meant infinitely more to me in the past year.

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I’ve spent nearly a year being convinced that there is an underlying cause for my illness – if only we’d look a little deeper, do a little more research, run one more test. Could it be my head injury? The bats and their guano?  One of a million rare syndromes? And as more problems surfaced and issues were diagnosed – my compromised immune system, my eye issues, and so on, my hope deepened – surely the more ingredients there were to add to my Dysautonomia, the greater the chances were that when mixed together just right, they would present a solution.

But neither that Doc in the Box nor the eleven other specialists I’ve seen since can find it.

One even stared at me, troubled, for a whole two minutes. Then said, “Please come back in six weeks and tell me what you’ve figured out. I don’t want to lose track of you.”

But after the last round of tests that took over three months, a few hundred dollars, and zero helpful takeaways, I feel done. It’s time to accept the fact that I may have a chronic illness that can only be controlled, not eradicated. And even the control is partial at best and completely unpredictable.

That realization has been difficult for me to swallow. I’m a fairly unemotional person, but trying to work through the reality that the past year may be a preview of the rest of my life has brought out tears, anger, and sadness. But also, a seeking of God’s promises and comfort like I haven’t needed to do in a long time.

I hang out in the Psalms a lot – David’s raw emotions and honesty with God and God’s responses to it have always been a comfort to me. Another reassurance came through 1 Peter 5:6-7…Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s Mighty Hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Other times when I’ve read that passage it felt very forceful. Get yourself humble, to the ground and under God’s hand!!, but now it feels safe. I am under God’s Mighty Hand. I know I am – I have personally experienced Him in miraculous ways that prove to me without a shadow of a doubt that He is there and He cares for me – personally – and even by name.

So where else would I rather be?

Where I am is where He has me right now. What I am dealing with is what He wants me to be dealing with right now. And He has already blessed it by using the fruit of my trials to help others. I don’t think He expects me to live every moment of it with a skipping blissfulness (He knows me too well for that), but He does know what He is doing.

And I can trust that even if I continue having no idea what is wrong with me or how to get better, He has me under His hand.

And those are sustaining words. As long as I go back to them regularly.

The Gravity of Granting Permission.

Father's Day DadI’m not one to write a post for a particular day such as Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, and especially not Father’s or Mother’s Day. I don’t even acknowledge it on Facebook or change my profile picture to include the appropriate parent.

I know – I‘m a social media pariah.

I get my cynical anti-bandwagon genetic makeup from my father. He and I are very much alike – we don’t express our deep sentiments too freely and especially not in public.

So the fact that I’m about to actually write a Father’s Day post should be noted as monumental. And also should not be expected to have a sequel. Ever. But I was overcome this morning with the urge to tell one story.

I got engaged at 18, and we set our wedding date for six months later when I would be the seasoned age of 19.

Chris had not only asked my Dad’s permission to marry me (and endured two weeks of complete silence before he received an answer), but had also asked his permission to date me a year earlier. Or, as he worded to my dad, “May I date your daughter with the intention of marrying her?”

Upon that first questioning, after spending an afternoon mulling over his own opinion (we’re also both mullers), Dad came to me and said “I’m fine with it, but do you want to date him? Because if you don’t I’ll tell him no and then you won’t have to do it.”

I had known I was going to marry Chris for at least three months (way before Chris realized it), so I was agreeable to date the guy. But I was fairly surprised that my Dad was skippy about the whole thing – after all, he’d spent seventeen years frightening away any potential suitors with his intimidating silence and vague illusions to loaded weapons. I’d never dated anyone, and Chris, although fantastic in every way, was twenty-three years old. A freaking adult.

But this story happened after the second permission granted by my Dad, and after Chris and I got engaged.

Within a month, I started battling crippling anxiety. The kind that would make me have to leave work because I couldn’t quit crying. I realized that this anxiety was centralized around my upcoming wedding when I couldn’t sleep one night until I hid my veil in the closet.

Being an analytical person, I had to understand why, because I certainly wanted to marry Chris with all my heart. I began to realize that I was terrified of making this decision. Nineteen-year-old me loved Chris and desperately wanted to be with him. However, this was a decision – the decision above all decisions – that would affect the rest of my life. What made me qualified to make this decision for every other iteration of me that there would ever be? And most crucially, was I absolutely positive that this was God’s will for my life? Because above everything, that was what I needed to know – the assurance that I was entering into this because God wanted me to, and not just because I selfishly desired it. If I had that, then I knew the future would be okay.

It was October, my wedding was in March, and during the next two months my anxiety steadily increased. I went from being a nearly unemotional person to a constant mess. And when I wasn’t anxious, I was anxious about becoming anxious. I told my parents and Chris about my inner struggle. I prayed. I cried. I searched the scriptures for reassurance. But God was silent.

Chris, meanwhile, was terrified, although he didn’t tell me this for several years. On the outside he was supportive and steady, but he thought I was working toward breaking up with him.

My anxiety ruined the holidays for me, and nearly halted my wedding planning because thinking about it filled me with an unbearable fear. (Maybe that’s why I was still arranging my cake plan forty days beforehand.)

Finally, on the evening of New Year’s Day, I broke down with my parents. In between ugly, hiccuping sobs, I told them, “I just need to KNOW. I need to know that this is the right decision! I can’t keep going on like this.”

And my Dad, who had always been reserved with his words and certainly had never shown any glee about giving his only daughter to another man, said,

“Look at me. You know how long I’ve prayed about this and that I spent two weeks agonizing over it before I gave Chris permission to ask you. Do you really think that I would have said yes if I wasn’t absolutely convinced that it was God’s will for you?”

The effect was immediate.

The burden disintegrated and I knew with my entire heart that he was right. This was the word that I had been looking for, assurance that I wasn’t even sure was possible, and now I was completely confident in my decision.

Although I still struggled with chemical anxiety until after the wedding, it had nothing to do with the upcoming marriage. My assurance never faltered again, and I was able to enter into marriage with an undoubting heart that was full of anticipation and joy. And my Dad seemed pretty happy, too.

Wedding Picture With Dad

In the thirteen years that have followed, I have never, ever questioned my decision.

Because of the gravity my Dad took in helping me make that crucial choice, I now have a magnificent father for my own children – a father who takes on their upbringing with just as much passion and responsibility.

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(And a good bit of whimsy.)

So for all of the times that my Dad scared the crap out of me about associating with unsavory men (geez – I got grounded one time just because I was with my older brother and he didn’t call before we went somewhere else, so there was no way I was going to hang out with anyone worse than a not-call-homer), I am eternally thankful.

It was never many words, but the ones he did say shaped the rest of my life.