Bronx’s Birthday Parade

When Jake and I first had kids 10 years ago, we had said that on their 10th birthday we would take them on some very special trip. But as the years went on and life happened, we realized that wasn’t going to happen this birthday. Plus, we wanted it to be something they would really appreciate (maybe it’ll be something we do for their 15th birthday). But as Bronx’s 10th birthday was approaching, I asked him how he wanted to celebrate. I told him he could do ANYTHING we could plan, any kind of party that he wanted! To my surprise he said, “I want another parade!” He was referencing the one that we threw during Covid when nobody was allowed to gather. That was my best effort as a mom to still celebrate him during such a rare time. People drove by, handed him a few gifts, and we came inside to open them in the privacy of her home. It was ideal for a high sensory kiddo! 

But this year, when he told me that he wanted to have a parade I knew I had to step it up a notch. I posted it on our local Facebook page for our town and people started responding like crazy. Who would’ve thought so many people would want to celebrate a kid they probably didn’t even know. I had people volunteering left and right to come and support and say happy birthday to our son. I had no clue what the turnout truly was going to be. 

As the morning approached, my family was scurrying around the house as they were designated to certain areas within the parade as well. My mom was Mrs. Claus, my dad was a driving reindeer, and our other son was a busy elf. The other grandparents were driving their truck with a special banner, and my husband was out putting signs to help direct traffic. As Bronx and I sat inside our home waiting for the “OK” to go outside. I could hear commotion in the distance. My sister called me from the lineup spot to tell me how insane it was outside. The cars just kept on lining up. Once I heard the marching band outside practicing, and my sister sent me a photo of the Tennessee Titans mascot hyping people up outside, it all began to sink in. 

I began to tear up as I thought of all the people outside, waiting to celebrate our little man. Our friend was taking some video and told us that they were ready for us to go. We went outside and as I looked across to our local pool where only the walkers were lined up, I was so overwhelmed. They were probably 100 people, none of who I knew, waiting to come walk in front of our home for our “parade” The firetruck started off with a loud roar of sirens and their grand entrance. Followed by many friends, families and other businesses, driving by honking horns with decorated cars, bursting confetti cannons and shouting, “happy birthday Bronx!” and playing loud music. It was exactly what he was hoping for and more! He stood there in shock and with a huge smile on his face, waving and cheering. 

And then came the walkers! Batman, (who used to be his favorite superhero of all time.) came, gave hugs, then along came 15 other volunteered superheroes and Disney princesses, each one of them taking the time to hug Bronx and say happy birthday, and even carry on a little bit of conversation with him. He was an absolute shock! Then Santa Claus came on his grand float, wishing him a happy birthday with a very ecstatic Buddy the Elf introducing him. At the very end, the local high school marching band came and played not only happy birthday, but two other songs right in our front yard! It was so unreal. Everyone hung out for a little to celebrate, say happy birthday, dance with Bronx and then they went along their way. I can’t thank everyone enough for the incredible support that they showed to our very special guy. Who would have thought that a 10-year-old’s birthday party would be an example of the goodness inside of people still. 

We love you all

Happy Birthday Bronx!

P.S. Check out all the amazing photos below captured by the incredible photographer, Sarah! @oakhoneyco

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Vision Boards + Going on Tour

It’s December 2, 2022 and the 2nd day of Jake’s tour with Point of Grace and Mark Schultz. If you would’ve asked us five years ago or even last year if he would be going on tour he would simply have said “gosh I hope so, that would be a dream.” And to see it a reality is really something special. 

God‘s timing is so funny. 

Last night Shai climbed into the back of our closet and pulled out our vision board from the beginning of this year. This board (see picture) is filled with the sticky notes from January of 2022.  We propped it up in our bathroom, and sat and read every single note. 

The board is filled with 2 different colors notes. 1 color represents things we were thankful for and things we had accomplished. Things we saw God do in our life whether it be big moves or small wins. Things like build our family or move to Tennessee. Things like help Bronx learn to walk or have X amount of money in our savings. And the other color are things we’re praying and hoping for. We allowed our self to dream and make big plans, we worked hard at our goals but a lot of them were things that were completely out of our control and seemed somewhat impossible and had to be doors opened by God. One of the things we saw on the board was “go on tour with a known artist.”

The funny thing about it is Jake didn’t grow up singing Christian songs when he was a young kid so to be honest he didn’t know who Point of Grace was at first. But I did!!!

Who remembers their jam 🎶Keep the candle burnin’ keep the candle buuuuurnin’🎶 ?!?!?!

So when I found out who he was going to be touring with I was thrilled! Just another little encouragement to my own heart because when Jake hits the road it’s not the easiest on our family but it sure is the most rewarding to see God take dreams we’ve  written down on sticky notes and make them a reality. Sometimes it’s hard to even recognize that you’ve hit these milestones because the journey along the way can often feel bigger than that one thing you wrote down.

We hope this isn’t the end but just the beginning of a big chapter for our family. I hope that Jake absorbs it all as he’s on that tour bus. I hope he truly sees it as a blessing from God and that God opened the right doors at the right time. 

My favorite part of the evening before we said our goodbyes was when we sat and read all the notes and Shai said “ I never saw this board, I didn’t  know that we were hoping and dreaming for some of those things and I can’t wait to see them happen.” 

I hope that we can teach our children that when you have a dream, pray about it, work hard towards it and fully trust it into Gods hands it’ll be an amazing journey. 

“What’s wrong with your mom?”

Summer break started and we decided to take the boys to the public pool for the first time this season. Almost all the chairs are filled and you see the excitement of all the kids in the pool. As we approach some lounge chairs, Shai immediately noticed a friend from his bus. 

(I’ll share more about sending your kids to public school at five and six-years old later, but man does it hurt the mom-heart sometimes. I remember putting him on that bus for the first time terrified but again just trusting he would be OK and sure enough we made it through kindergarten just fine.)

As we set stuff down, Shai’s little friend hollers from across the entire pool “Hey Shai, what’s wrong with your mom?” Shai instantly looks at me with a mixture of fear and ‘what the heck?‘ in his big eyes.

In a split second I realize something deep in my heart – This is it! The moment I’ve been waiting for. The moment I NEVER wanted my children to experience, but also the moment I wanted them to be PREPARED for. The moment I pictured in my head happening and the reason I started No Such Thing.

I could have bailed him out and explained to the kid that his question was slightly inappropriate.  I could have walked over to his uncomfortable mother and shared with her too, but I looked at Shai gave him a smile and immediately responded “go ahead and answer him.”

Shai is an extremely exquisite little boy with a large vocabulary and even larger personality and I honestly didn’t know what was about to come out of his mouth. 

He screams across the entire pool “Nothings wrong with her. She just can’t walk”. The best answer I could have ever heard. Simple and true. 

The boy then says “why does she have legs then?”

You could feel the awkwardness for the parents surrounding the pool but I still didn’t want to intervene. Shai then walks over and explains what my wheelchair is and that I use it to get around and that my legs just aren’t strong enough to walk but just because I can’t use them like he does doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have them. 

The mom then walks over and apologizes for her son but I tell her “it’s ok, Shai handled it” Did I mentioned this boy was probably 2 or 3 grades older than Shai?

I’m sure she was embarrassed that the entire pool heard her son scream such intense questions, but honestly I couldn’t have been more proud of the way Shai replied. I felt so much pride in my heart. He wasn’t ashamed that his mom was different. I think if anything he felt bad the child didn’t know the simple answer of what a wheelchair was used for. 

As a mother our natural instinct is to protect. To prevent harm, shame or even uncomfortable situations for our babies. I believe we are called to equip them. To teach them to stand up for love and truth.  I never wanted my child to have to answer this question, but I also knew it was inevitable. 

Do you relate to the mom whose child is asking the “awkward” question? Or do you relate to living with a unique situation that the world is hungry for knowledge or insight about? 

Either way I hope to be a resource for you. Through my book No Such Thing As Normal or  through my blogs, vlogs and social media accounts where I’m sharing what I’ve learned as I continue to navigate the question “what’s wrong with your mom”, not only for my boys but for myself.