Tag Archives: miracles

I’m not kidding.

In the year of our Lord, 2013, on the 10th day of the 6th month,

(Monday, People. This past Monday.)

I loaded my children in the van and headed West.

After 35 minutes of bliss tempered by Babe on the DVD, we stopped at Meijer to buy a gift. Our friends, you see, had just returned from a land far, far away with a new babe and were in need of a highchair. I offered our own, but an evening of Abby throwing spaghetti quickly solidified her need of meal-time restraint for a few months more.

A NEW high chair, we all squealed! It will be a surprise!

Now, you are aware that Meijer is frequently the setting for Mulder miracles-

there was the incident with the fish,

and then the lady in the parking lot,

and who can forget Pam?

This morning would prove no different.


There were 2 choices: a minor choice and a major choice… and I left it up to the eldest. “Which do you pick, Rylie? Which one should we bring?”

She, of course, picked the major choice… because she is of my genes.

At the checkout, the kind teller rang up our purchases: the highchair, 2 bags of m&ms, a box of baby wipes (ABBY JUNE) and some emergency bananas. He sang out my total.

I tilted my head.

“Erm… did you beep the highchair in the cart here? I didn’t put it on the conveyor belt.”

“I did.”

*blank stare*

“Well, can I just see the receipt to make sure?”

He smiled and turned his monitor to face me. “See? Right here. Looks like it’s on sale. For basically nothing.”

“Yes and thank you. We’ll be seeing you in heaven.”

And off we went, with our beautiful brand-new gift for a beautiful, new-to-them baby starting a beautiful, brand-new life with a beautiful, lovely family.

Meijer, sometimes you are magic.

Gus Man

We passed on the gift (and m&ms) with much, MUCH glee and were quickly on our way back to the farm. As a reward for 2 hours of driving plus a trip to the grocery store, I pulled into McDonalds to let my herd frolic on the play land. It was a remarkable day, after all, and the kids were doing so very well.

Until they weren’t.

Until Gideon ripped off his socks and stuffed them down the webbing holes of the tunnel, never to be seen again.

Until Abby grabbed my Coke and poured it on herself.

Until Rylie decided she would take another girl’s shoes home.

Until Gideon told her she couldn’t.

Until Rylie smacked him with the force of an undiscovered fly-weight.

Until Gideon bit her on the arm and bolted through the emergency door in the play land, initiating a piercing BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! and lockdown sequence for all the lucky customers.

People, I did not even flinch. I grabbed all three shoeless children by their collars and marched them out to the van, alarms still flaring in the background.

Ry and Coco

I locked Abby in her seat. I nudged Gideon to GET MOVING, and his little legs began to climb in the van.

Which exposed his superhero undies waistband at eye-level with Rylie.

Who instinctively and with the vengeance of a girl scorned, bit him squarely on the butt.


Oh, we are not finished.

Before I could summon Jesus to return, my eldest pulled away from her brother’s buns in fear… because her mouth was pouring blood.

What is this madness, you ask?

Quite simple, Friends.


Her wiggly tooth that had been tormenting her for days… the tooth came out as she bit her brother. And so, she wailed.

We cannot go back inside to use the restroom because, well, see above. We can only go home. We can only go home- a mother, stoic, with her 3 whimpering children in the backseats.

We can only go home and THINK ABOUT WHAT WE’VE DONE for a good, long time.


Let us mark that establishment as yet another parking lot we shall never grace again.

Happy weekend to you, Dears.

May your socks be dry and your drinks strong.


one past whatever

I spent hours and days and years as a ropes course facilitator.  You take a group, you start low and slow, and you build.  You build familiarity, esteem, respect, challenge, and comfort.  It’s an exercise that is meant to translate beyond the woods, something that will help you cope a little better with daily life.

The last activities are usually quite hard: climbing poles to zip lines and obstacles courses 30 feet in the air.  As an anchor and instructor, I care about one thing: that last step. I made some version of the following speech every time:

At some point in the next couple hours, you’re going to reach your limit.  You’re going to look down at me from the pole or the platform or the wire or the rope and you’re going to say, ‘I am done.’ I get that. Everyone has different limits, and that’s absolutely fine.  But, I’m going to look at you in that instance and I’m going to say, ‘I hear you.  I need you to go one more step.’

I’ve worked with you all day. I’ve watched you work and I’ve watched you play.  I’ve stepped in and I’ve  stayed out of the way.  But here… here is where I use what I’ve learned about you today.  Here is where you tell me you’re done and I say, ‘Yes.  Fine.  AMAZING JOB. Please do me a favor… and go one step past what you think is possible.  I PROMISE YOU IT’S POSSIBLE and you will be fine.’

For some of you, that will be putting on the harness and then touching the pole.  For others of you, that will mean climbing the pole and doing one obstacle.  For a few of you, it will mean doing it all blindfolded.  It matters not to me where you are in that spectrum… only that you trust me in that moment when I say, ‘Alright… one more step.  One past where you are, and you’re done.’  

Are you in? Will you trust me to take you one past whatever?

Inevitably, they would all agree and we would finish out the day surpassing all our expectations and then some.  Without exception.

Our transition into private Kindergarten has been remarkable.  Rylie is thriving with the mental and physical challenges of a new school and new teachers and new friends.  She loves everything.  We love everything because she loves everything.  It was absolutely the right choice.

Our transition into a new district of special-needs therapy has been less-than remarkable.  I spent most of Monday crying to people I do not know, trying to understand why- after 3 years of meticulously  documented and continuous therapy with public school district A- we must start all over with public school district B.  Why am I filling out forms again, writing out birth stories again, stating objectives on State papers, pushing for therapy we do not want but desperately need… why am I doing all of this when it has been done and done and done- again?  We are losing precious time!  Why are they doubting- and even discrediting– what therapists who have worked with and loved Ry for three years have found, discovered, and recommended?  The frustration turned, as it always does, to doubt.

Hey, God?  I’ve reached my limit.  Are we done? Can we be done?  Is there more in that kid or can I just let it go and slide into maintenance mode?  I’m here to tell you, I am done.  Finished.  Tired.  There is no fight left in me. I cannot prove to one more person the potential that exists or the needs that persist in my child.  I cannot do it.  I am done.

I cried ugly tears because I was exhausted and defeated.  Then, because there is no rest from life even when you cry ugly tears, I picked up Ry from school.  I asked her to show me what she had learned that day, expecting a quick game of charades explaining she played with her friends and she loves Mrs. B- the usual.  Instead, she backed up to the wall and signed for me to watch.   She took a big step forward with her right, took a big step forward with her left, and then began to skip.

TO SKIP, Friends.

For seventy-thousand-th time that day, I cried.  It was not just skipping, you see.  It was proof.  Friends, Rylie skipping is proof that it’s possible for both sides of her brain to communicate together and for her muscles to interpret that communication quickly and correctly.  Rylie skipping means she may be able to read one day.  Rylie skipping means… well, it means we are not done.  I can hear my God as clear as day:

I know you are discouraged.  I know you are tired.  I hear you.  But, I need you to go one more step.  I’ve prepared you for this your whole life.  Look at how far you’ve come!  Look at your little girl!

Where there once was no sound, there are words.  Where there once was no writing, there are letters.  Where once there was no walking, there is skipping. There is more to come.  We are not finished. She is not finished… not by a long shot. There is more in that girl and she needs you to fight.  I need you to go one more step.  Take one more step.  Let me take you one more more step.  Are you in?

Brilliant Teacher, to use my own words against (?) me.  Like He knew they’d only make sense to me if I’d used them myself to move a thousand other people stuck in a moment.  Like He planned my life around me working through other people’s limitations so He could help me through my own.  Like He knew I would have a little girl would need me to fight for her… to go one past whatever for her.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Rylie has no clue she has different limitations than most kids.  It would appear that her special-needs are meant to draw me into a better Light.  You have to love a God who makes things like skipping into miracles.

Send the papers, the evaluations, the meetings, the questions.

I’m in.  Let’s go.

One past whatever.  I’m on the ‘whatever’ part.

[really great article HERE… read when you have a moment]

up, up, and away

[skipped out on you Monday without warning… sorry about that… all will be told Monday]

I am running late.  My flight leaves in an hour and I’m carrying an infant, so I can’t self-check even though 3 helpful folks in uniforms have escorted me over to the self-check-in I CANNOT SELF CHECK IN IT WON’T LET ME thank you so much.

I now have 30 minutes.  Not until BOARDING, but until RUNWAY.

I am in the security line, in socks, holding a baby and trying to fold a stroller.  A large Samoan man is wrestling with a laptop briefcase.  The briefcase appears to be winning.  I am going to miss my flight.

Abby and I are waived through in a fit of TSA generosity and I yell to my gate, “I’m here! We’re here! I’VE BEEN HERE!” The man in the red blazer looks at me through his bifocals.  “We’re about to give your seat away, Mrs. Mulder.  Where have you and your infant-in-arms been?”

“Behind a large Samoan man with a briefcase that wouldn’t open.”

He looks down to conceal a smile.  “I see.  Hurry now.  They’re waiting for you.”

Abby and I rush the plane and take our seat.  Everyone forgives me for holding things up when they see Miss Abby on my arm.  She is the darling of the airplane.  As soon as we sit down, she grabs the our neighbor’s button-down sleeve and brings his whole arm to her mouth, kissing it… him… everything. “I’m so sorry.”

“I don’t mind,” he says quietly.

We are in the air, God bless America, and they are coming with the complimentary beverages and un-child-friendly snacks.  “No thank you,” I say as Abby stretches and sleeps in my arms.  The tall attendant looks at me.  He is in his late 50s and at least 6 foot 3.  An airline veteran, to be sure, and the head of this team. He smiles politely and continues on.

Ten minutes later, with Abby still asleep, I look up to see him crouched beside me in the aisle.

“I miss this,” he says.

He points at Abby.  “This.  I miss this.  I missed it. Physically missed it.  I’m always up in the air.  My wife has to call me and remind me when the kids’ birthdays are and where everyone is.  I was always gone. I was in wars and in planes.  I missed holding my kids when they were asleep.”

I realize, at 10,000 feet, that I am on holy ground.

“You’re a military veteran?”

“I am.  I’ve served in a few conflicts. Now I’m a grandpa and I work up here.”

“My dad is a veteran.  He lives far away, too.  When my brother and I were little, my mom held down the fort a lot while he trained and served. I’m sure he missed a few of our baths, as well.”

He smiles a sad smile.  “I just don’t know what to do to make it up to them.”

“Sometimes being sad about it is enough.  What more can you do now?  Be a grandpa, and be a great one. You’re no use to anyone if you spend all your time thinking about 30 years ago.”

He smiles a different smile. “Well, I agree with you there.”

Abby stirs, yawns dramatically, and opens her hazel eyes to the stranger now seated in the aisle next to her.  She grins mischievously.

“She’s gorgeous.”

“Well, I agree with you there.”

And with that, he unfolded himself from the floor and headed back to the front of the cabin.  As we de-planed, he waved and told me to have a nice day.  Abby blew him a raspberry, and everyone went their own way.

Regret is a terrible travelling companion. She’s heavy and manipulative… and she has a terrible, hazy memory.  I need to remember to leave her out of my suitcase from now on. There’s just not enough time in the day anymore to deal with her rambling and tricks. 

And here’s to Abby, who can break through walls with a single smile.

a letter to Pearl

At the Browns’ 20-week prenatal appointment, Pearl was diagnosed with alobar holoprosencephaly (HPE), a neural disease with low chances of survival. Despite a grim prognosis and a doctor’s encouragement to induce labor and end the pregnancy, the Browns opted to embrace life and hope and carry Baby Pearl to term.

Pearl Joy Brown was born on Friday, July 27, 2012 — 4 lbs 3 oz, and very much alive.

This week, all across the big and wide interweb, folks are writing letters to Pearl Joy Brown as a keepsake, an encouragement, and a testimony.

Well.  You know how I feel about letters.

To start, to understand, you should read Ruth’s (Pearl’s mamma) letter and then come back.

(photo taken by Pearl’s dad, Eric)

Dear Sweet Pearl,

I’ll keep this short… I know you are a busy girl with lots on your plate at the moment.  But I wanted to take a minute and say hello, say we love you here in Michigan, and say we are so blessed to know you.

I think mammas everywhere took a collective deep breath when we heard about your 20-week appointment.  If you’ve been through it, and maybe even if you haven’t, something in your heart kicks into high gear when you hear about another mamma needing a miracle.  It’s instant.  The desire to help and pray and cry and laugh with other moms- it’s instant.  We started praying immediately, Pearl.  We prayed for grace and wisdom and hope… and a miracle.

And there you were.  You are nothing short of a miracle.  You don’t have to do anything, Gorgeous!  You, just by being here, are a miracle.  Every thing else is BONUS miracle.  We celebrate all of it.

We know a little bit about miracles over here.  We know that they are not only to be found in the Old Testament, but on the modern streets.  In the homes of the wealthy and the porches of the middle class.  We know God works in waiting rooms, on Facebook, and in soup kitchens.  On the football field, in grocery stores, and in earthquake rubble.  We know they show up when least expected and with a mighty message.  Child, what you have told us in your 6 weeks of life!  Such a huge heart in such a little body.  Our God is so poetic.

Pearl, you have changed and strengthened and pierced the hearts of so many in the short time we’ve known you.  You are a game-changer.  “And though she be but little, she is fierce. ” – Shakespeare.  That’s you, Little.  That is you.

You keep fighting,Pearl.  Fight for every ounce, every inch, and every breath.  Keeping reminding us that medicine is not limited to books and machines.  Remind us that every second has a purpose, be it rest or journey or battle.  Remind us that we can do- with God’s help– impossible things.

We are praying for you.  We are praying for your doctors.  And, we are praying for your amazing family.  We love you, Pearl.  We love you, and your God, so much.


the Mulders

more Letters to Pearl HERE throughout the week (at the bottom)

Pearl’s blog

Pearl’s dad, Eric, on twitter

Washington Times article about Pearl

And if you need a place to tithe this month, may I suggest the Brown’s Van Fund HERE.

We can do really big things, Friends.  Really big things with teeny, tiny steps of hope and faith.