On Learning to Be Free (Even if You Have a Lot to Do)

Today’s the day: this post is inspired by Julie, the randomly-selected winner of our survey-based contest! Julie writes …

“Funny you suggest a few lines about where I am in my life – I’m not sure! I am 60 yrs. old and have been a mother for 40 yrs. In addition to giving birth to 3 sons, my husband and I became foster parents. After 24 years and 39 placements, we finished off our family with 6 adopted kiddos, bringing our total to 9!

My youngest child turned 12 today. He and his 13 yr. old brother are both on ‘the spectrum’ although it looks very different on the 2 brothers. I am facing the biggest challenge of my life to parent them, everything I thought I knew about parenting no longer applies. My friends have gone back to work, or have even retired. Where do I belong? I used to know where my heart was, and what I was good at.

Your recent post about church was very thought provoking as I try to muddle through this new part, and these new expectations, that, yes, I am probably putting on myself! As you can tell, I love to write, as well as to read – keep up your truly inspiring posts.”

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Spend It Offering Light: Week 2 & Giveaway

Our current series, “Spend It Offering Light” (#OfferLight) continues today with a beautiful story from Liane Kupferberg Carter and a giveaway too!

In fact, from here on out, each post in the series will include a giveaway. First time reading? Learn the story behind our series here. “Spend It Offering Light” features real people turning their fears into something that helps others, into light. Please welcome Liane!

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The Momastery Guest Post (Seriously, Bring Champagne)

On set of AWCC’s video trailer, 2013

This is a big day.

A break out the kazoos, call a babysitter and uncork the champagne!!! kind of day. (Or it would be if I had kazoos. Or children. Or champagne on hand … )

Today, I have a post live on Momastery. Momastery, created by Glennon Melton, “is where we practice living bigger, bolder, and truer on this earth. Where we remember what we already know: We can do hard things, love wins, and we belong to each other.”

How do Momastery readers (“Monkees”) do this? Through sharing stories, telling truths, and helping others. A recent Momastery Love Flash Mob raised over $120,000 for families in need … in 10 hours.

When I tried to explain this whole ‘guest post on Momastery’ thing to my Mom, I said, “You play tennis. It’s your thing. You’ve been playing for years, because you love it. One day, you walk out onto your humble, everyday court, and Martina Navratilova walks over and says, “Hi! I got your invitation, and I saw you play. I love your style. Want to rally?”

After which you hyperventilate, because things like that don’t happen in real life … except when they do. G (aka Martina), thank you for inviting me to be a part of the beautiful community you’ve created.

Writing this post broke my heart, and made me whole. It’s hard to share it, because it’s so personal, and it’s easy to share it, because it’s not about me. It’s about a beautiful friend I was privileged to know and will always, always miss.

The post is live here: What We Have Left: A Letter

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GREETINGS, fellow Monkees!

Welcome to A Wish Come Clear, where we share stories to help each other find meaning in our most challenging relationships. We’re all about choosing love, losing fear, and finding home in one another.

As such, I’d like to invite you to receive posts via email and two FREE digital books, Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive) AND Love’s Subversive Stance: Ground Yourself & Grow in Relationship.

Your Creed of Care contains 50+ pages of true stories about balancing the responsibilities of caring for another with caring for yourself. Love’s Subversive Stance is a 90+ page collection of stories centered on this question: in caring for others, how can we become more fully ourselves?

I hope you’ll enjoy both. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go acquire some kazoos.

Love,

Caroline

In My Arms: A Guest Post by Gillian Marchenko

Happy Holiday, friends! Today, we’re opening our doors to a guest.

It’s my pleasure to introduce Gillian Marchenko. (Her tagline: “The world is full of people who seem to have it all together … Gillian speaks for the rest of us.”) She’s an author and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei and four daughters.

Gillian writes about “stumbling faith, Down syndrome, adoption, depression, motherhood, and lots of grace.” I shared a guest post on Gillian’s blog earlier this year (“The Most Beautiful and Terrible of Promises, Lessons Learned from my Brother with Autism”), and I’m happy to bring her writing to you today.

Gillian’s recently-published memoir, Sun Shine Down (T.S. Poetry Press, 2013) is a courageous, heartbreaking story about her journey to love and accept her daughter, Polly, who was born with Down syndrome. (You can read my Amazon review here.) Whenever I read Gillian’s words, I am able to see more clearly that love is the only thing that matters.

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In My Arms by Gillian Marchenko

“Mom!” Polly yells out in her sleep. Her body thrashes to and fro on our queen sized bed. Her legs kick the covers off. Sweat glistens her forehead.

The house is quiet. My husband and two older girls went out for the night. My youngest has been asleep for an hour in her room. I bedded Polly in next to me, thinking that my husband would move her when he got home, and that her slight of breath, up and down, methodical, musical, may inspire me as I grab a few last minutes in the day to write with our fuzzy white dog at my feet.

“Honey, what’s wrong. Tell Mama what’s wrong.”

She doesn’t respond but continues to fuss and squirm.

“Shh, there, there,” I attempt to settle her back into her dream cycle. This part isn’t new to me, a seasoned mother of four. There have been countless nights in the last twelve years where I’ve brushed wet hair off a forehead, hummed a melody, and lulled a child back to sleep.

But my coaxing doesn’t work.

“What’s wrong, Polly? Does something hurt?”

My daughter nods, and a shot of electricity zaps my extremities.

When Polly was born at 37 weeks, she wasn’t breathing. The doctors resuscitated her, and she spent the first three weeks of her life in an incubator fighting for her life.

By the time I felt the weight of her tiny, five-pound body in my arms, I had already been informed of her diagnosis of Down syndrome.

I wrote about that time in my recently published memoir Sun Shine Down. Polly too weak to leave her plastic dome and me, too weak to fathom the curve ball of Down syndrome.

Sometimes my arms ache to hold Polly the baby. What I wouldn’t give to scoop her up, to hell with my fear of the unknown, to hell with sickness, and to hell with stigmas hidden within, stigmas I didn’t know existed in me until I heard the words Down syndrome.

“Show me where it hurts.”

Polly gestures towards her head.

“Your head hurts?”

She nods yes again. I pull her up onto my chest. It is not an easy task because she is now seven years old.

But we don’t screw around with headaches in this family.

Three years ago, Polly had a catastrophic stroke which resulted in the diagnosis of Moyamoya, a disease that thins the arteries in the brain to the point of strokes and seizures. Unbeknownst to us, this disastrous disease had been causing mild strokes in her body throughout her short little life.

Polly underwent two brain surgeries that diminished the chances of recurrent strokes and seizures from 67% to 7%. She rocked the surgeries, actually running circles around me after the second one, just days after her neurosurgeon cut through skin, skull, and brain to create new blood flow for our girl.

“Here, honey, let me see.” I force Polly’s face towards mine and examine her for signs of stroke. No twitching, no loss of motor control. The fearful moment releases into the air around us. I hold her to my heart like I longed to do after her birth. She settles, and sinks into me. My body is quicksand. I engulf her.

We’ve danced around death too often.

Polly is here tonight, in my arms. I don’t take it for granted.

She’s here. I feel her weight. She is happy. She loves her life. Her life overflows with joy, so much so that she splashes her joy on those around her, and continually plugs up my heart, so that I can be filled too.

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What relationships teach you about acceptance? Join the conversation in the comments section below!

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Our free offering has grown to include a second digital book! Receive posts via email, along with both Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive) AND Love’s Subversive Stance: Ground Yourself & Grow in Relationship. [Click to Tweet.]