Blue Jays and Laundry: What Grief Looks Like One Month After My Son Went to Heaven

“This is what the things can teach us:
to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke-

One month.

One month since Jayden has been gone.
One month closer to seeing him again.

My mind is just now beginning to clear, or maybe it’s returning to fog. I am still not sure which is more foggy, the months before and after a crisis, or the days lived in between life’s defining moments. I think it’s the latter, because every decision surrounding Jayden’s passing was so clear to me.

Continue reading “Blue Jays and Laundry: What Grief Looks Like One Month After My Son Went to Heaven”

Jayden’s Service Part 2: A Father’s Love

Dads, get out your notebook. Study his ways. Justin is worthy of being emulated. He is one of the best dads around. Selfless, affectionate, and willing to change diapers with his rough, callous hands from doing man’s work outdoors, providing for our family. He is equally gentle as he is strong. Listening to him talk about Jayden on Saturday was awe inspiring. I am so proud of him and the way he seeks to bring glory to Jesus in all he does.

Jayden loved “my dad” fiercely. This picture was taken days before he passed. Justin had stopped in from work for a few minutes, and received one of the greatest gifts, one of Jayden’s last smiles.



Here are his words from Saturday:

Continue reading “Jayden’s Service Part 2: A Father’s Love”


Gray. It’s my favorite color, but not when it comes to knowing. When it comes to knowing, I want answers. I want to know when. I want black or white.

But dying, like living, is full of gray.


As I type, just got an email notification from the middle school Jayden would have been attending if he didn’t have Sanfilippo. It was a reminder about the school dance tonight.

As I type, I listen to the rhythm of his breath. In the background, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse plays.


I can’t believe it’s snowing.

I can’t believe it’s November.

I can’t believe my son is dying.

Continue reading “Gray”

What Feels Right

I walked Ellie to the bus stop this morning.

It was 47 degrees. Cloudy. With just enough warm left in the air to make the crisp, cold air inviting. I have really enjoyed the fresh air everyday the walk brings. I find myself craving it. It’s good for my soul.

I held her tiny hand in mine. She told me she’s the “chair helper” at school. If a kid forgets to push in their chair, she pushes it in for them. She’s really enjoying kindergarten. The sounds of spelling, singing about her colors, counting, reading, and playing school has become our soundtrack to this season.

It has felt right.

Continue reading “What Feels Right”

I see you, mama: A word for mothers navigating a different dream


Sunday, April 23, 2017, I had the honor of keynoting the annual Charles Tillman Foundation’s TendHER Heart Luncheon. This spring 250 mothers of critically and chronically ill children attended a special brunch, which honored them for the sacrifices they make in caring for their ill child. The brunch provided these women with the opportunity to “take a minute” for themselves and enjoy each other’s company and support. 

Here are my words from the luncheon.


Continue reading “I see you, mama: A word for mothers navigating a different dream”

Character Over Coloring: A Lesson On What Really Matters


Can I tell you guys a quick story?

A few days ago, I walked into Ellie’s preschool to pick her up and saw these scarecrows on the wall. Each child was given a plate and told to make a face on it. They were great. The kids had drawn two eyes, clean lined mouths, and button noses. Pretty impressive for four, until I noticed Ellie’s. Her plate was covered in random purple, gray and pink scribbles.

Continue reading “Character Over Coloring: A Lesson On What Really Matters”

A look back: Where I am, 2 years in


This post came through my news feed and it is just as true today as it was five years ago when I wrote it. As we adjust to new normals, God’s Word remains true and steady, even if my feelings waiver. 


November 2011:
October came and went this year with no mention of it being two years since our diagnosis. And, that is just fine with us. As we settle in to this lifestyle, we have learned to really embrace Sanfilippo as a welcomed friend more than an intruder. Let me be very clear. It pains me to see Jayden regressing. It hurts to see Brooklyn still progressing, knowing those skills will soon be a memory. That is my human desire talking. But, I can spend my days counting down till we lose them, or just embrace them while they are here.

And, although we may never have answers this side of heaven as to why God made them this way, we have gotten to a point where we actually see the many blessings hidden in Sanfilippo. Our children’s salvation is secure. They will never be a part of this awful world. They will never hurt someone’s feelings. They will never judge anyone. They never have to work and have a crummy boss. They never will have their heart-broken. They will never complain that they don’t have this or that. They will never think life is unfair. They will never talk back, get in a fight, or cause a car accident. I will never have to worry what they are doing out past curfew, whether or not they are hurting themselves, partying too much, or being fake at school. They will live their life as a blessing-always living in the moment. They will fade away slowly from this earth, only to lean more into their real home-heaven.
Continue reading “A look back: Where I am, 2 years in”

Confessions As I Anticipate Grief: part 2


Lately, I find myself having conversations I never imagined. Like the other day with Jayden and Brooklyn’s palliative nurse. Or the one I had with their sister, Ellie, on the floor of her bedroom.

I guess when two of your kids are labeled “terminally ill” these conversations are bound to happen. For those of you new to our story, we have 3 children, the two oldest, Jayden (10) and Brooklyn (7) have a rare and terminal disease, Sanfilippo Syndrome. Our youngest, Ellie (4) is does not.

This piece is part two of a series of blog posts entitled, Confessions as I Anticipate Grief.

WARNING: Friends in painful places, especially for my “me too mamas,” my Sanfilippo sisters. This is a difficult read. I wouldn’t have read it even a year ago. It just depends on where you are in your diagnosis. Just know it is here when you need it. But, I am 7 years in and this is our reality. A tough, gut wrenching, honest, reality. Sometimes it can be too much. But isn’t it all?

My intention is to share truth. Here’s what I promise if you choose to read. You will see me rise. Just like you are rising. We are not just surviving, but thriving in the midst. Death doesn’t win. We don’t drown. I am tired of trying to avoid the darkness, because light is so much brighter when we acknowledge how dark it is. Thank you for showing up in the meeting for a club you never wanted to join. Since we are all members, may these be our words.  Continue reading “Confessions As I Anticipate Grief: part 2”

Confessions as I anticipate grief: part 1

little dipper

Confessions as I Anticipate Grief is a series of posts I will be releasing on This is part one.


“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

-Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms


Continue reading “Confessions as I anticipate grief: part 1”

Mother’s Day

Mamas-it’s here!

Whether you birthed them or bought them, borrow them and return them, those little humans are yours.

We burp and chop and dress and mop, play and read and kiss and repeat.

We sing and climb, plan days and sit in car pool lines.

We teach and listen and fold and pray, we mess up and show up, clean poop and throw up.

We freak out, we lean in, we forgive and discipline. We worry and hold tight, disagree and fight.

We still call. We still pray. We still give advice, and still check on your day.

We love, we cry, we lose, we die.

We are mothers, yes. And we are so much more. We are a village of women, of warriors.

Happy Mother’s Day!