Saturday, January 28, 2017

Our day of Survival.

It's our love day.

Our happy day.
Our thankful for everything day.

But more specifically, today is our 'thankful for Elam' day.

You see, it's been 4 years. Four years since our hearts were at their heaviest. Four years since we rallied ourselves to make the hour drive to Jackson, MS awaiting confirmation on our darkest fear. It's been four years since the reality of "Your will, not mine, Lord." 

And it's been four years since we heard those happy words, "Your son has spina bifida."

There is a lump in my throat today. One that is there on occasions like this that so guiltily reminds me how much I have to be grateful for. 

If you're just joining our story, if you're not really sure why we'd consider Spina Bifida "happy words," I'll catch you up. 

You see. Four days before, we were told we were having a boy. A sweet boy who was struggling inside of me and there was nothing I could do to help him. A precious son who would probably not live more than 24 hours after birth. We spent a weekend crying huge salty tears from the depths of our very broken hearts, wondering about funeral plans. 

For the entire story, click here.

So, you see. Today is a lovely day.
A day in which we celebrate and go out of our way to keep the mood light and happy.
Today, we celebrate life.
We celebrate differences.
We celebrate wheelchairs.
We celebrate Elam.

From the outside looking in, today doesn't look much different than most. There are no fireworks or balloons. There aren't any special songs or gifts. Instead, there's just a lot of being intentional and a lot of saying yes.

"Yes! I'll hold you!"
"Yes! I'll lay with you!"
"Yes! You can stir the brownie batter AND lick the spoon!"

Less of 'Give me a minute." And more of, 'These chores can wait."

You see. Its easy to get wrapped up in the stresses and messes of the day to day life. It's easy to dwell on the hard when your back aches from lifting and your head hurts from juggling the very big emotions of three young kids. But today. Today is our day of survivial. Our day that helps us remember the gifts of this life and - oh how sweet those gifts are!

Happy Elam Day, everyone. I hope you find as much joy in today as we do!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wake up, sista!

A girl just wants a nap. 

Brother just wants to play. 

A day in the life of older sister struggles. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

14 cents of happiness.

It's the simple things. 

Like these 14 cent hearts from the clearance aisle. 

The kiddos love them! They've been playing nicely for an hour, meaning I love them, too! 

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dear mom on diagnosis day: Spina Bifida.

Dear Mom on diagnosis day,

This post has been in my draft box for about a year. I write it. Rewrite it. Then delete it again. There are no words that can help you. No words can heal you; not today. But here's what my heart wants to tell you anyway:

You, sweet friend, are thought of everyday. You're in my thoughts. In my memories. And in my love. I think of you. 

I think of you when I remember this day.
I think of you when I look at my sweet son.
And I think of you when I look towards the future.

But today, more than anything, I love you. I love you beyond your wildest dreams. I love you because of the beauty that will come from you.

Today, two years ago, I was you.
The tears you are crying, they were my tears.
The confusion you feel, I felt it.
And the guilt. The guilt you hold in the depths of your heart, sweet mama, I know that guilt.

Was it something I did? Could I have done anything differently? These questions cut deep. They're ugly. 

But the truth is simple: my son is exactly who he is supposed to be - and yours will be, too.

Hearing the words: Your son has spina bifida, it's life changing.

You've heard the doctors talk a lot about folic acid. You've heard the statistics. You've been given your options.

Dear friend, now hear me. Hear the words that I hold close to my heart. 

I know the journey you are just now embarking on, and it's scary. It's hard. But mama, please know, it is so worth it. 

These are some dark days - these early days when everything you've been dreaming of seems to be turned upside down. 

But know, you are about to discover that your world, even upside down, is beautiful. 

You'll put on your research goggles. Your life maps will have to be revised. But the journey, this adventure through parenting,  is worth the effort, because that precious life inside of you will amaze you every step of the way. 

As my 19 month old tugs on my pants leg, signing for milk and asking for cuddles from his wheelchair, I think of you. I think of how scared you must be of wheelchairs - because that was me. 

They're unknown. They come with a stigma. 

But what if I tell you, they come with discovery, and learning, and fun? What if I tell you, they are a conversation starter, a friendship maker, a 'cool factor' on the playground? 

Our son has learned more, progressed more, laughed more in the past few months since he learned to operate his wheelchair. He is happy. He plays. He is a normal little boy who happens to have spina bifida. 

Words can't help you today, but one thing I want you to remember. When the the clouds start to dissipate and the sun starts to shine again, remember these words. 

Life doesn't end with spina bifida, a new one is just beginning. 

A hard. Crazy. Emotional. Beautiful. Loving. Unique. Worth it. Life. 

It's yours to enjoy. So enjoy it, because our kids, just like any others, are incredible. 

I love you, dear friend. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Two years ago.

Today hasn't been special.

At least to anyone looking from the outside in.

Today has been one of the mundane, get the housework done, donate a few things here, throw away a few things there.

Lunch from leftovers.

Naps for the kids.

A little whining. A little laughing. A whole lot of contentment. 

Like I said, nothing special.

Except today. Today is life changing for us.

Two years ago, which is hard for me to truly believe, was a fundamentally life changing day for, with prayers and thankfulness, our now family of four.

You see, two years ago, we found out first hand how incredibly fragile life is. We found out that even when you take every precaution in the world, do all of the research, and pray for healthy, some things are just out of our hands.

Two years ago, we were told we were having a son - and he would not live.

There are no flowery words to describe it. No dressing it up or wrapping it in pretty packaging.

It was excruciating. It was terrifying. It was all consuming to the point that breathing literally hurt. 

In midst of the storm, it was ugly. 

But how beautiful the aftermath is. 

Today, there have been things that weren't there on this day two years ago.

There have been laughs!

There has been joy.

There has been sibling love and playfulness.

Today, we are thankful that hugs can help our tears and that kisses can cure our hurt. 

This day two years ago changed our perspective. Our perspective on many things, but mainly our perspective on joy.  

Although the memories are still vivid and the pain can still be felt - we find beauty in them because we know how much joy we could have missed. 

Tonight, in honor of Elam, we celebrated with our favorite local pizza and a scoop of ice cream from the fudge shop downtown. As the sun was setting and Elam was pointing out every bird that flew near, I felt peace. 

Peace, perfect, whole. 

This is where I'm supposed be. This is what I'm supposed to be doing. 


 Elam's mom. Ellery's mom. Justin's wife. 

Oh the joy that we would have missed. 

We are thankful for the hard days because it is only through them that we find unmistakable joy 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Another year has gone.

Dear 2014,

Thank you for such a beautiful journey. 

As this year comes to a close, we look back and smile. We smile, not because it wasn't hard, not because we never became discontent, but because we have seen our lives transformed into ones of hope and love and joy in the small things. 

Our year was full of learning opportunities. We learned to adjust to the unexpected. We've learned to look past the dreariness of an overcast sky and see beauty in the wholeness. And we have learned that our call to love extends past ourselves and our family. 

From start to finish, 2014 was a bumpy road. We have seen our share of disappointments. We have found ourselves throwing pity parties and eating a pint of ice cream while wearing sweat pants (okay, maybe that one was just me). But from this side of the struggle, I can see how the pain changes our outlook, humbles our hearts, and teaches us to look beyond our current situation to see that blessings are not always wrapped up in pretty packaging. 

However, please do not think I mean blessings are always messy or that ours have all been that way. I do not believe that for a minute. This has been a beautiful year of perfectly timed friendships, wonderful new beginnings,  and countless answered prayers for wisdom when nothing else would do. 

2014's beauty didn't come from monetary value, it came from quiet humblings of our hearts - lessons on love and purposefully choosing to see the good. 

Life with a three year old keeps us on our toes. Life with our 18 month old keeps us grateful. And life with each other just keeps us happy. 

Here's to 2015! It's a new year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Festival

We rode our bikes to the fall festival downtown this morning. Between the petting zoo, jump castles, hotdogs and trick or treating, I'd say this princess had a blast!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Mississippi Friends.

Dear Mississippi Friends,

Three and a half years ago, when we moved to McComb, Mississippi from my home state of South Carolina - away from family and all of the friends I had ever known - I cried. With my hands on the steering wheel and my eyes focused on the rearview mirror, I cried out because of fear. Because of the unknown. And because I never thought I’d find friends like you.

During our short time here, in the little bungalow on Virginia Avenue, Justin and I have changed a lot. We’ve grown up a lot. Our comfort zones have been stretched, and our trust in God has never been more necessary. The tests we have faced have brought us such special memories: memories that you’ve each helped shape.

We have welcomed many changes here, and with each transition came friends to see us through to the other side. From figuring out a new town, to becoming new parents, then on the roller coaster ride of our second child –  and his spina bifida – you guys have hugged and prayed and laughed with us. You have cried and shown more love than we are deserving of. For that, we will be forever grateful, and forever indebted. You have been exactly what we needed through each new stage.

Many of you have lent your homes at meal times, baby clothes for our sweet ones, and your hands when our own simply weren’t enough. You have lent us your hearts, and you have touched ours in a forever-changed kind of way.

You have loved us. You have loved our babies.  The love that we share as a family was nurtured with the love that you have shown to us. We are joyful because of your friendship, and we are thankful because of your kindness.   

As our time in Mississippi comes to a close - as we prepare for more transitions and more of the unknown - we look at what you’ve taught us. You, our friends, have taught us that great friendships can come from the unexpected and from the brand new. You have shown us that it doesn’t take blood to make you family, and it doesn’t take history to make best friends.

So, as we head towards the Florida line, my hands will be on the steering wheel, and my eyes will be focused ahead. Not because we won’t miss your presence, your hospitality, and your generosity, but because you all have taught us how to face change without fear. You have all played a part in the special memories we have made here and have helped make this an unforgettable time in our lives. We are grateful for each and every one of you. From the bottoms of our hearts: Thank you, for all you’ve done.

With love,
The Tysons

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dear Ellery,

Your restlessness caught up with you tonight, as you've already been awake twice, and it's only 11:15. 

Each time calling for me to come. Come lay with you. 

So, each time I did. I rubbed your back, I sang your song, and each time I told you how much I love you. 

Your response was the same every time. With your eyes still closed, you lifted your hands above your head and asked, "like this?"

Yes, darling, like that, and so much more than you'll ever know. 

Your two year old self needs me, so I come.

I'll always come.


Monday, September 22, 2014


Justin and Ellery went to Lowes after dinner to get a few things for Justin to make Elam a small wheelchair. 

Tonight, while reading books before bed, we were talking with Ellery about her day.

Our conversation went something like this:

 Me: 'Where did you and daddy go this evening?'
Ellery: 'The store!' 
Me: 'For what?' 
Ellery: 'To make Elam some wheels' 
Justin: 'Do you know what he's going to do with wheels?'
Ellery: 'He will roll and roll and roll'
Justin: 'yes, that's the plan.'
Ellery: 'And he will pull my hair!'
Justin: 'yes, I suppose that will probably happen, too.' 

*Elam just loves to get his hands in those precious blonde locks of hers any chance he gets. And she's already having internal conflicts about his future mobility. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Acknowledging the small.

'Do not disdain the small. The whole of life - even the hard - is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimal, I miss the whole.' Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts)

The light speckles the ground, falling through the green leaves and triumphant tree branches, leaving beautiful 'sun puddles', as the toddler calls them, scattered throughout the front yard. 

A surprise autumn day has shown up in the middle of summer, and my hair blows gently in the cool, sweet breeze. It's refreshing, and needed. 

I am thankful. My pen scratches the paper as I acknowledge my blessings. I hear the etching sound created as my thoughts tumble from my fingertips. It is beautiful, the sound of thankfulness. And it's eye opening. 

We are outside this morning and my Ellery is singing along with the birds. She's longing to climb a latter and rescue one of them from his perch on the powerline above us. She's wearing rainbow pants that she picked out herself. They're on inside out and backwards, but she did it. And she's proud. 

"You're impressed, mom!" She tells me. 

She has heart. And spunk. And independence. 

I am thankful. 

I watch it all from the rocking chair on our front porch. From the corner of my eye I see the porch swing swaying back and forth as the wind chime, played by the wind, creates a melody for it to dance to. 

The swing is light blue, and it's my favorite thing about our porch. It is not exceedingly comfortable, and I do not use it all of them time - but it is special. 

It has a cut out of a tulip resting in the center of its back. It was created and uniquely designed for me, with love, by the one man who holds my forever in his heart. 

For this, I am thankful, always. Even when I fail to acknowledge it. 

I am thankful for this love. This forever. This one man and his heart. 

I have reminders all over my house of the love that radiates from the center of it all. Reminders of God's love for me. 

This love shines through the light in the eyes of my children. 

In the way my husband adores me. 

And the way nature sings us a beautiful song, with sun puddles and sweet chirping. 

But this love, the irreplaceable, glorious, undeserving love shines the brightest when I take the time to acknowledge it. To acknowledge the big, but maybe more importantly, acknowledge the easily overlooked, the everyday and routine. 
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