Updated: Jun 17, 2020
As we await the zombie apocalypse in this unpredictable season of global flux, many of us are at unexpected turning points, faced with decisions we didn't know we'd have to make. I've had a few watershed moments in my life. Crossroads at which I faced choices with far-reaching implications I couldn't imagine in the moment. I had to move forward sightless, egged on by a mysteriously persistent nudge, by principle, by emotion and for many years, by fear. As I personally navigate a season of change in the midst of worldwide wackiness, brimming with uncertainty, I'm looking for instructive anchor points from my own life. A couple stand out and my kids figure prominently. As always, I hope my experience helps you.
I wasn't the kind of gal who longed to have kids, bruised as I was, but as sometimes happens with women, when the clock had been ticking a while, I felt stirrings. Even so, my marriage was very rough from the start, I wasn't conceiving, and three years in, I decided to end it. I was going to visit family in Italy and resolved that if something hadn't shifted during the interval, I was out.
The trip itself was a not-so-funny comedy of errors and I'd felt really off the whole time. When I got home, my funk persisted. I took a pregnancy test and discovered Pierce was on his way. Suddenly, I was faced with the choice of leaving and creating a new life solo with my elderly, schizophrenic mom and new baby in tow.
Lousy timing. It seemed.
Overwhelmed at the prospect, I rolled up my mental shirt sleeves and resolved to stay put. With many years of ruthless training, I know how to make the most out of challenging situations and I did. God poured out his grace, giving us more than a decade of mostly contented years. My ongoing dis-ease prompted me to continue to work on myself. I finished my bachelor's and master‘s degree, freelanced, and engaged in oodles of self-help and spiritual activities. Lots of growth.
My firstborn, Pierce is a chip off the old mama-block, and as such, is a continuing source of amusement, adventure, insight and irritation, since we're so darned similar. The notable ways in which he's different have been catalysts for personal growth, as only kids can be. A popular, gregarious fellow, where I was a shy outlier, he's also the consummate jock, and has helped me find my inner jockette--though I'm still clueless about most sports. I never expected to enjoy motherhood so much and even though I was long in the tooth, I remained open to having another kid. I wasn't expecting it, since it had taken years to produce Pierce.
And then came Isaac.
Kids can change us for the better--if we let them.
If you're a regular reader, you know about Isaac, my giant, juicy object lesson and extravagant, unexpected gift. Isaac didn't look much like a gift when I first learned something might be different at my 12-week sonogram, yet I had a deep sense of love and vague peace at the prospect of meeting him. I had the option to abort, and though I had intermittent gut-wrenching angst at the idea of having a kid with special needs, I felt a quiet conviction that he was meant to be.
After he was born and the diagnosis was confirmed, I fell apart. On the heels of relinquishing my role as primary caregiver for my mom and finishing up a master's degree, the timing seemed cruel. I was tortured with worry, regret, anger, terror. Still, I was crazy about the little guy, lovingly nursing him in my glider, even as tears poured from eyes and my heart cried out to God for relief.
What about my plans? My vision for my life? My very identity? Who would I be?
Isaac was a totally unexpected wrench in the works. My future looked grim. But I was wrong. Sooooooooooo wrong.
Through a purely selfish lens, Isaac has been one of the best gifts ever, seemingly designed to heal my broken parts by lavishing me and others with love, fun, joy and highly targeted instruction about living life well.
While MightyLytes' fate remains unclear, the journey alone has grown and refined my collective, skills, energy, versatility and experience, built my confidence, and forced me to face and surrender paralyzing fears of failure, success, and others. Through the process, I've connected with amazing people and with previously undiscovered aspects of myself I was glad to unearth.
And as anyone will tell you, nothing unleashes mama-bear like having a kid with special needs, helping us to claim and use our power and voices as never before.
A lifelong writer, until Isaac I never got any traction writing creatively. Now, my writing, however humble the platform, encourages, comforts and entertains other people, even as I preach to myself. I have a book or 12 in me, I know, and I believe I'll get the chance to write them.
BTW, I was just invited to write the introductory chapter for a Guideposts book preceding a chapter by New York Times bestselling author!
How's that for a nice little ripple effect of something that seemed like a shattering stone?
Swell, but may I tell you that the timing is not ideal. I have another Guideposts deadline in two weeks, just started a crowdfunding campaign for MightyLytes, and am in the midst of finalizing my divorce. Two week turnaround on all fronts. Gulp.
Hang onto your hat, people! Good stuff comes at awkward timing, too! Or perfect timing, if you defer to his better judgment and mysterious methods.
I find God likes to lead me into situations where I'm in way over my head so I get to rely on him. Works out nicely, but it can be a bit hair-raising.
Our heavenly dad also loves surprises and is uniquely able to conjure up really, really good ones.
Just this week, God orchestrated another amazing connection that helps redeem the trainwreck of the original MightyTykes story.
I got a Facebook message from a woman named Kate in West Virginia who is interested in buying the house we lost in the bankruptcy last year. She found my name on the land records, googled me,and learned about Isaac and MightyLytes. Her two-year-old daughter Elsa has Down syndrome!
She had prayed for a sign about whether to Make a move on the house and God connected the dots with me.
What are the odds?
Plus, she’s a marketing pro and had some great tips about MightyLytes.
Plus, she’s a blogger with a network of mommy bloggers she shared with me. Meet Kate and her family and explore her fabulous blog, https://bitandbauble.com.
They made an offer on the house. 🙏🏼🤸🏾♀️.
Plus, plus, plus.
Only God can pull off stuff like that!
There are a bunch of other perks to having Isaac, but I don't want to gloat.
Thus, ironically, Isaac has been a big source of blessing, and has made me more myself, a better version of Isabella, rather than obliterating my identity as I so feared.
While some of my choices in life have led to some consequences I wish I could have avoided, there's no denying they've also made me who I am today in the best possible way. And given me two fabulous kids I wasn't sure I'd have--or even really wanted (truth).
If you're dealing with regret, don't. Bring it to God with a humble heart and let him work miracles from your mess. In Romans 8:28, my life verse for many years, God promises to use everything for our good and the good of others if we hand it over. I can testify with conviction that it's absolutely true.
If you're at a crossroads today or feel the stirring of change, I'll point you back to the exercise I shared in Unfiltered Episodes 1 through 4 to help you discern the right path. But rest assured, from someone who so clearly knows, that whatever you choose, God can and will use even our lousy choices to accomplish good in, for and through us. If only we include him in our process.
Embrace the unexpected watershed moments in life with love and then marvel at the miracles.
Signing off for now, I invite you to sit back and soak up this sweet, soaring song and the words that speak to watershed moments. (Talk about country miles, boy! I'll take some crow-flying for a wee bit. And if that makes no sense to you, listen to the lyrics.)
Saw these gals at Ruth Eckerd Hall up the street last year. Awesomeness.
Remember: God loves you no matter what.
Love and hugs in a hazmat, Isabella