Tag Archives: letters to Rylie

Ry is 8.

Ry's native language

There are few ways to deal with fire, Child. You can douse it with water, but this may leave the area both flooded and burned. You can smother the flames, which is quick but you risk serious injury and are still left with damaged goods.  Sometimes, sometimes… the safest way to deal with a fire is to let the flames burn out on their own. It is beautiful and horrifying, but it purifies. And, it is the only way some flowers will ever see the sun.

These are the FIRE EPHEMERALS, or fire followers. They emerge only after devastation. Their seeds only open in extreme, intense heat… and they will wait 40 years if they have to. Some will not even attempt life if it’s been less than 10 years since the last flame. What kind of beauty is this? That which demands such a display, such destruction, before showing its face?

I am only just beginning to understand.

tarweed

It is the rare, the quiet, the high on the hill, the least sought after, the unique, and off the beaten path, the beauty from ashes kind of life.

I am only just beginning to know a God who would hide treasure among dust, who asks for obedience rather than results, who craves a relationship more than a receipt. He, himself, is a consuming fire, and there is no way through it but through it. 

This God did not give me a child the world wants to ‘fix’ in order that I might lead her and myself to a better life.

He gave me a child that I might love as He loves me.

There is no end to this journey, I find. Each time I reach a crossroad, a bench, a peak, a valley… each time, the road continues on into the sun and there is nothing to do but keep walking.

I have never been so broken or so full at the same time.

There is no end, but I am not doing it wrong. 

I am only just beginning to understand.

LUKE

You, my girl… you are eight.

You can say HAPPY BIRTHDAY this year. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I AM EIGHT. It is a miracle and a testimony to your relentless spirit of indifference. I am convinced you still do not know nor care that your voice comes out differently than most of those around you. I (still) have more questions than answers at this point… and so I expect God desires this conversation to continue.

Ry, you are 51 inches tall. You weigh 50 pounds. You want your hair to be long… long, like Ms. Julie’s. You wear a medium/8 and a 3 in shoes. A THREE. Gas costs $2.75 and bread is $2 a loaf. Gideon is 4 and Abby is closing in on 3. Dad is 36 and I (mom) am a month away from 38.

You love to ride horses. You love to write: lists, letters, words- WORDS! You can read! You can do simple math. I am convinced that wonders will, truly, never cease. You’re in second grade with Mrs Burgess, and you love to ride the bus. Your best friend is Kaitlin, and she is one of many in your sweet circle of friends (and adults) that love you and pray for you and watch over you and look forward to you. I am so grateful for the beauty God has grown in the dessert of special-needs. What a community of kind and honest people we share life with, Rylie! Fire followers, all of them. And more vibrant because of it.

You do not ride a two-wheeler or tie your shoelaces, and we do not care. Your temper is fierce. You need a plan, you like to see the next thing, and you thrive when you have a task, a job, a purpose.  You want pizza every day. You can name all of our cows by sight, and you pack your own lunch. We are so incredibly proud of you, Ry. For how hard you work, for how honest you are, for how quickly you forgive.

You are a new creation. A beautiful, new, growing, ever-changing creation. A fire-follower.

You remind me every day that fires are not the end… they are the beginning.

I thank God for the beauty that is you, Girl.

Julie and Ry

Love you so much,

Mom

Past birthdays:

Ry is born

Ry is 1.

Ry is 2

Ry is 3

Ry is 4

Ry is 5

Ry is 6.

Ry is 7. 

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2nd grade

2nd grade

Child,

You are 7 and on your way to the first day of 2nd grade. You are 50 pounds and 50 inches of effort. You picked out your own clothes, brushed your own teeth, and packed your own bag before I rolled out of bed. You expect nothing but good things.

This years brings some pretty big changes. Your one helper in class will now be three. Math is in the afternoon, which means we need to keep you awake and motivated longer. Math, in general, is a cruel joke to both you and me. We will work through it together. Some familiar faces will be missing in the hallways, but the structure you crave is still there. The support you rely on is still there. The heart we give thanks for is still there.

Today is only good. 

Remember our rules: keep your hands to yourself, keep your clothes on, be a good friend, wear your shoes at recess, and ask for help when you need it. Give people space to breathe. Check your work twice. Sit with friends who are sad. Clap with friends who are happy. Say thank you as often as possible. And remember that I will always, always come and get you at the end of the day.

Have a great day, Love.

See you soon,

Mom

 

 


because you asked

For every time I’ve said no, there have been 10 tiny yeses. 

because you asked, I will stay just a little longer

because you asked, I will wash your feet in the kitchen sink

because you asked, you are allowed to ride your race car bike, your scooter, your tricycle through the house and around the island around the island around the island this ridiculous winter

because you asked, we will have pancakes for dinner

because you asked, you may say the grace at dinner and thank the Lord for pencils

because you asked, you can wear my heels with your elephant jammies

because you asked, we will find videos on helicopters (again)

because you asked, we will risk emotional armageddon at 4pm on a school day and head to the bookstore to buy your first Bible

because you asked, I will call Dad so you can hear his voice

because you asked, you may have cake for breakfast

because you asked

You will ask for millions of things in your lifetime. I won’t always have this magical power to make your whims and dreams come true… but for now,

ask me another.

Lent, the 40 days of observation and remembrance before Easter, begins on Wednesday. This year I’m going to actively search for meaning and promise instead of waiting for and expecting it to find me.

There will be no regular Monday & Thursday posting here throughout Lent. Instead, I’ll tell my own story of Lent through pictures, following these word-prompts beautifully curated by catholicsistas.com.

Join me?

instagramLENT

 

P.S. #26? Laetare? It means rejoice. REJOICE!


pretty mystery

[lyrics by Eric Taylor, sung by Lyle Lovett]

Rylie Joy,

We hear so little about the simple things in your day… whether your shoes fit well or you like your lunch, whether a friend hurt your feelings or your teacher made a funny joke. The big things we know because we ask and we follow up… but the small things are secrets locked inside of you. You use all of your words to explain the big things in life. These smaller details are secrets trapped inside you, tangled in sentences that are just too much to wade through at the end of a day.

I wonder, then, if you can understand the joy it was to read an email from your librarian late Thursday night giving me a glimpse into your world away from home:

I witnessed a precious moment today in library. Rylie usually sits in the front by me as I read to their class. Today, I started library by randomly picking one of their self-published books to read to the class. I told them we would read one of their books each time they come to library before reading the library book. They were excited and wanted to read more. The kids struggled to focus on the Olympic non-fiction text so I hid their books behind my book stand. Suddenly I noticed Rylie slowly moving behind me to their hidden, self-published books. Rylie quickly sifted through the class books and put hers on top. I asked her to join us on the rug and promised we would read more another day.

As she moved to her seat she spotted A, sitting in the back-arms crossed, face frozen in a serious pout (She was mad at a friend). Rylie moved to a spot next to A. With a look I can only describe as maternal, she cracked her neck, leaned in and looked into eyes. A ignored her. Rylie wrapped her arm around her shoulder and looked again into A’s face (deeply concerned). A melted. Her arms uncrossed, her pout disappeared and she began listening to the story. Rylie checked her face again, noticed the change and moved her arms back to her side.

Typically, Rylie moves a bit in library- sometimes to get a better look, or to point to a picture and some days just because she wants to move. Today was different. Rylie planted herself by A the rest of the time, providing the best sort of comfort- friendship. Truly the highlight of my day!

And of mine, Love.

What a pretty mystery you’ve suddenly turned out to be, Rylie Joy.

Ry 7

Your lack of words has heightened your emotions in all directions. You soar and plummet while I try (and fail) to hold the ground steady around you. You push and I pull. You crash and I burn. I wonder what you will remember from these years… these incredible formidable years when your heart is changing and growing and finding its own rhythm. Truly, there are many moments when I think you will save this world from the status quo… and still others where you could raze a house with your door slamming. I wonder what you must think, Child, as my demons fight alongside yours. Some days we are a symphony and others we are a train wreck.

But then. The fever breaks and you speak through laughter or forgiveness or- now- writing… and I hear this:

IMG_1964

You and I. 

We are capable of so much more than it seems in our darkest moments.

And we are so much more than the sum of our awkward and difficult parts.

Thanks for the reminder, Love.

Big wins for both of us this past week.

I’m always on your team.

Mom 

God, being rich in mercy,

because of the great love with which he loved us,

even when we were dead in our trespasses,

made us alive together with Christ.

 Ephesians 2:4


Rylie Joy is seven.

AVbook

Wednesday night, I asked Curt to write down a number between 1 and 17… and he picked 3, which is Corrie! Yay, Corrie! I’ll get this in the mail to you. Probably with the Christmas cards 🙂

Thanks for commenting Monday, Folks. It was fun to hear from you.

Rylie Joy!

I need to tell you a story, Child. A story for you to keep close at heart.

Can we talk a little about Esther? Esther was a queen. She was also a Jew, but that was a secret. Her uncle asked her to keep quiet, and she did. But then one of the King’s men realized her family’s secret and wanted to punish ALL the Jews by killing them. It wasn’t safe anymore, and Esther had to decide whether or not she was going to be brave and confess to her husband that these people… these people who were going to be killed… these people were actually HER people, too.

It was a great risk. A matter of life and death.

As she thought about what she was supposed to do, her uncle reminded her: “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (chapter 4, verse 14)

Esther was a queen behind the gates. She had a secret, a burden, that would either kill her and her family or save everyone. Was she brave enough to risk it and confess or would she stay silent and watch her family disappear? Was she willing to use her position to help those on the other side? Was that maybe exactly why she became queen in the first place?

As a woman, you will hear this story over and over in your life. Esther is a champion not only among woman but all mankind. She is an incredible example of God’s timing and provision… and, what’s more, His desire for us to be courageous in Him and for Him.

You, child? You are my Esther.

You don’t realize it, but you have the potential to set people free. Free from expectation and standard. You were born with the ability to disarm and communicate. Oh, child. What many wouldn’t give… many with a voice that works perfectly fine… to be able to connect like you do.

I would never expect a disability to come with so much power, but I see it every day. You, behind your gates, are helping us on the other side see a better way to live.

You know, Esther did tell her husband, the king, that she was a Jew. She took a big breath and she did it. And the king changed his mind. She used her position as queen to save those who had no say in the matter.

My prayer for you, Ry, is that you would continue to fight hard. That you would be brave. That you would know we are all learning from you, a child who struggles to speak.  So many have learned so much from such a little child.

It has been this way throughout history.

sparkleRy

Here’s to you, Rylie Joy.

The girl who loves horses and purple and gym class. The kid who hoards notebooks and pencils and homework busy sheets. The child who eats like a linebacker but can’t break 45 pounds. Here’s to you. The kid who can work any gate on the farm, wash 2 dozen eggs, and pet 500# cattle without blinking. Here’s to you.

You are seven today, and you are fierce. You love unconditionally, you dance without shame, and you cry until you are empty. Stand in line and take your place among the chosen. Teach us to laugh and be brave and love desperately again.

You, Little, are a healer. You are a clown. You are a feeler, and you are a fighter. But above all these, you are the daughter of a good King. Never be afraid to approach Him. Never doubt the gifts He has given you. And never, never hold back… because you, with Him, move mountains every day. You have, indeed, been chosen for such a time as this.

I love you.

Mom

Past birthdays:  Ry is bornRy is 1Ry is 2Ry is 3Ry is 4Ry is 5. Ry is 6.

My favorite Rylie story: the story about the fish.

What’s your favorite Rylie story? 

[family photo above by the incomparable Trace Dicocco]


You can’t stop progress.

[Our oldest daughter was diagnosis with Childhood Apraxia of Speech at 20 months. She’s been in intensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy ever since trying to get her body to keep up/catch up with her mind. You can hear more about our journey here and here.]

 

Rylie Joy,

 

Tuesday night, your father and I went to your 1st grade parent-teacher conference. You have 2 teachers this year: Ms. Underwood (whom your daddy went to school with- crazy, I know) and Ms. Faber (who you call FABER, as in FABER! FAY! BER!). We are all in agreement that the Lunch Hour Teacher Switch works magic for you; it’s like a reset button. Normally, you’d be winding down and setting your heart on home. Now, you eat lunch and begin scanning the room for FABER to come in and start Part 2 of every day. I never would have thought…

 

but, then again, that’s the story of my life with you:

I never would have thought.

 

THE BASICS: you are an incredible friend, you live for the “job”- any job PLEASE GIVE ME A JOB, and you are so much more independent in the classroom this year. Sweet Jen is still your aide, but they are pulling her back more and more because you, Girl, don’t need her to shadow as much anymore.

 

Rylie: you are beginning to read. It is the most ridiculous thing ever… because we assume you must have words in order to read. But, your years of memorization and drills and repetition have prepared you to jump right in, and YOU CAN READ though you cannot perform verbally. It’s why you can score a 6/10 and a 7/10 and a 9/10 on your weekly spelling tests. A NINE OUT OF TEN.

 

Let me say it again: RIDICULOUS.

 

So, yes. You are in a reading group with other kids in your class reading little, tiny books and making sense out of letters mashed together. You can take a test and pass. You can match letters with sounds. Miracle.

 

[For the record, working with you so much on spelling and reading a writing has only reminded me and solidified my belief that English is the dumbest language in the actual world. So many rules. So many exceptions. So little logic. Perhaps, if Spanish were our family’s first language, you’d be on the Debate Team by now. We’ll never know.]

 

While reading and writing keeping (slow) pace with your grade level, we are a bit behind in math. This may be genetic, and I am so sorry. But truly, we’ve just started focusing on numbers in depth this year. Numbers are hard. The concept is still a little weird and if you are EVER able to say seven instead of skipping straight to eight I think we’ll just give you a diploma and call it good. Officially, you’re testing a year behind in math. God bless America.

 

You are a rule-follower and a justice-seeker (my genes). You are a physical reactor and hungry/tired every minute of every day (also my genes). Your dad is in there somewhere… but, honestly, he’s hard to see right now. It’s like looking in a mirror.

 

Wednesday morning we had your IEP, which is just a fancy meeting where Dad and I meet with your therapists, the principal, and your teachers all together to discuss the plan for the school-year. You have speech therapy twice a week, occupational therapy once a week, and planned sensory breaks daily.

 

THE BASICS: you have met and surpassed all of your goals in all areas from last year. Three-word phrases? Yes. We’re into them now. Recognize and write all your letters? You bet. Make it through a whole school day (with copious snack fuel)? Yup.

 

According to the testing scores, your OT jumped by an entire year. You are now only a year behind in your fine motor skills, where last year’s tests put you at 2 years to grow.

 

We did speech three times a week this summer- with your usual speech therapist- hoping to keep up with the explosion of words we could feel coming, and I think (I THINK) it worked. After a year of minimal progress, the end of last year and this summer began to blow us away. You think faster. You speak faster. You remember faster. You are an absolute sponge right now, and we’re going to keep throwing things at you until you fall over.

 

WHAT I KNOW: You are the same kid you were at 20-months when this whole apraxia journey started. You have no clue that your life is any different than the kids you sit next to on the bus… but truthfully, I’d put you up against any of them in a battle of will and might.

 

You are a solider. A tiny, 45-pound, runny-nosed soldier who can’t keep pants on her hips to save her life. This crazy speech and balance path has zigged and zagged all over the map in your almost-seven years. You’ve logged, like, a bajillion more miles in effort than anyone. Ever.

 

We have many miles to go.

Keep dragging us along.

We’ll keep up somehow.

 

Mom

 


first grade

Rylie Joy!

Today is the beginning of first grade. All day, every day. BIG TIME STUFF, KID. Big time.
Maine, 2013

This summer? This summer you went camping in Michigan, New Hampshire, and Maine. You visited Pittsburgh and Cleveland for 2 weeks, you went to the zoo with Mrs. B, and you got to ride a beautiful old train to Marne and Coopersville. This summer you had speech therapy 3 times a week, and it shows. Your language is coming. New words. New syllables. New attempts at new words and new syllables. Talk, talk, talk all the time. You lost your 8th tooth, you grew blackberries, you touched snakes and crabs and turtles, and you did the playground zip line BY YOUR SELF. We can’t keep up with you!

IMG_0294

You are SO ready for first grade. Mrs. Jen will be waiting for you, like always, when you get off the bus to walk with you to your new classroom. Remember? We practiced this last week… and you insisted that I walk behind you. All 48 pounds of you is rather, ahem, sure of yourself and I say CARRY ON. Bring it.

IMG_0268

I always worry, Ry. I always do. What if we forgot something? What if we chose the wrong thing? What if you cry before school? What if your teacher is having a bad day? What if, what if, what if? But here is the Truth: no teacher, no aide, no parent, no therapist, and no sunshiny day is going to change your life. Christ and Christ alone will do that, Sweet Girl… and He works through anyONE and anyTHING to make it happen. Watch out. No math or tangled hair or speech impediment or tired mom can stand in His way.

HE WILL FIND YOU.

In the midst of the crazy that is your life and your family and your teachers and your friends- He will find you. And He will see you through.

You’re fabulous, Ry.

Have a great day.

Love, Mom

1st day