Not So Sweet Dreams From Ocala

Today was a low-key, quiet day.  A day that was still and much needed. The first we’ve had in a few weeks.  There were no alarm clocks, no rushing, no to-do lists, no places to go.  Just a day spent in our tiny house, everyone in their own worlds.  There was lots of tv, iPads, reading, video games, FaceTiming with friends, cooking, napping, a little bike riding & artwork.  We are missing our people but we are adjusting to a new normal here in Ocala.  Tomorrow starts our last week of quarantine and essentially the last week of their summer break.

In our contentment at home, we lost track of time and realized too late it was way past bedtime.  11:00…..a peaceful evening quickly turned into a Brady v. Avery rumble in the living room.  What would have been easily handled and forgotten earlier in the day, turned into a hitting, screaming, crying fit. As they were forced to their respective rooms, they said the best parting words to one another:

(There was a mention of the recycling bin by Cannon…..)

Avery:  Brady needs to be put in the recycle bin!

Brady: SHUT UP!!!!

Oh parting is such sweet sorrow….

When they wake in the morning, all will be forgotten.  But tonight, they were ready to say goodbye forever.

Once in our room, I tried wiping away her tears but realized we had crossed the point of no return.  There were no hugs, words or snuggles that could soothe an over-tired, sensitive soul expressing her strong feelings about a ruined life at the hands of a red-headed boy.  Much to her dismay, there was no “chill time” in her bed with her iPad so she reluctantly snuggled in with her favorite stuffed animals.  She refused my offer to sleep in my bed, determined to remain stoic in her anger.  But a little arm slowly creeped to the edge of her bed and I knew exactly why.  I reached out and held that small hand and gently rubbed the top with my thumb.  She never acknowledged it but certainly didn’t pull away.  In the silence, I lay staring at her small face.  I saw sadness in her downcast eyes and pouty lip.  Eventually though, the sleepiness took over and she began to blink a little more frequently than before.  I wondered what was going through her mind.  Was she thinking about the last 10 minutes or something more?  Life has been a lot lately.  Her little safe and comfortable environment has been completely uprooted in the past 3 weeks.  What she thought was ahead of her & looked forward to for summer is no longer the same.  Was she thinking about her friends back home and missing them?  Was she wishing her Daddy was here to tuck her in?  Was she hoping to dream about running in the yard with our dogs, Sadie & Millie?  Is she fearful of the grueling schedule that is quickly approaching?  Or was she simply envisioning the blue of the ocean and feel of the sand between her toes?  She has a heavy load on her little shoulders.  Some would crumble under the pressure of so much, so fast.  But not my Avery.  She’s put her big girl panties on and walked bravely into the unknown.

And as I lay beside her from my own bed, holding her soft fingers in the palm of my hand, I am sent back in time to when I held her in my arms and rocked her to sleep.  It was one of my most treasured times with her as a baby. No distractions or noise.  Just a mama holding her little girl, watching her eyes blink closed, praying she would one day have the confidence to chase her dreams while knowing how much she is loved and cherished.  Tonight as her eyelids got heavier and the blinking slowed down, I watched them close softly for the last time until sunrise, and I listened to her breathing deepen as she drifted off to sleep.  Once she was finally sound asleep, I continued to  stare at her little face as tears ran down my cheeks.  This beautiful, smart, strong, kind and BRAVE girl is facing all life throws at her head-on.  When the storms of change surround her, she doesn’t turn away.  She pulls on her rubber boots and boldly walks directly into the rain. She also makes sure those walking with her keep up and don’t lose hope.  She may stumble and fall a few times, but there’s no doubt she will stand up and continue on her way, in search of the sunlight through the clouds.   If only I could have been this brave at just 9 years old.  She is my daughter and she is fierce!

“The Door is Open…Now Walk Through It!” -God

All my life, I’ve prayed to God about almost anything…..gratitude, fear, forgiveness, grief, understanding, guidance….the list goes on and on.  And like most people, I’ve prayed for things I want, big and small, materialistic and spiritual.  I’ve begged for him to make something happen or prevent certain circumstances.  All of these, and so many others have been answered, but not always clearly or even how I thought or hoped they would be.  But God’s plan is better.  His plan for my life is in place but he allows me to use my own discernment to follow the right path. Okay, but wait. Thanks for that, God, but could you be more specific? I mean, will you blatantly point to where I need to go?  I  trust your way but some more detailed directions would be helpful. Actually, if you could just walk in front of me and lead the way,  I will gladly tailgate and stay right behind you.  Okay, thanks!  That would be so much easier! Unfortunately, that’s not how it usually works…but every once in a while, God hangs up a billboard, opens a door and shoves me through it. Lately, that has been the case…..I just had to walk through it….with and without my family.

Having two kids with the “Lex” has opened my eyes to the academic and emotional struggle of doing life with it.  Most associate it with backwards letters and misspellings, but it’s so much more than that.  When you dig deeper, you see the affect dyslexia can have on school, sports, communication, self-confidence, and fear.  I mean let’s face it, if your brain had to work 5 times harder than the brain of your peers, wouldn’t you be a little frustrated and at times, defeated?  As a mama, I see their struggle and it breaks my heart!  I want to pick them up, doctor their hurt, slap on a bandaid and watch it heal.  Wouldn’t that be great?  But I can’t.  However, I can give them the next best thing.  A place full of hope for our family.  Is it a sacrifice?  Absolutely!  But is it worth it?  You bet!

The Morris Center in Ocala, Florida is an unknown gem in the world.  A place where science and dyslexia collide.  A brain scientist has dedicated his life to studying and researching dyslexia and the brain to its core.  He’s designed a transdisciplinary program that in essence “cures” it. When we first heard about it, it seemed too good to be true.  But the more we looked into it and saw the results of friends, the more we realized it was the best opportunity we had to give our kids for their future.  Here’s the catch….. it’s expensive, only accommodates 5 kids at a time & has a long waiting list, and would mean 4 months away from home, leaving behind Clint & Cole.  So we stalled out.  It was dangling out there but we just observed from afar.  One of those… “I wish we could but…” situations.  Usually things that seem unattainable stay just that.  Just out of reach.  We want them but don’t see how we could possibly have them, so we let them go and eventually they fade away from our minds.  But not this.  It has remained on my heart and in my mind for 9 months.  Why would something so unrealistic seem like a possibility? Why can’t I let it go?  Cannon and Avery.  That’s why.

When the Coronavirus brought the world to a screeching halt, all of our plans for the foreseeable future were canceled.  No baseball, no fishing, no play, no May frenzy.  Schools are out for the year and everything is shut down.  We are quarantined with little to do.  In this time of quiet, a brief thought crossed my mind.  “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to The Morris Center right now?  It’s the perfect time since the kids won’t have to miss anything.”  I sent a long-shot email to the center to see if there was any chance they could accommodate our three (my nephew, Brady, has the Lex too).   I prayed, “God, this is the perfect time.  Can you make it happen?”  I got ahead of myself and started to feel like it was a real possibility, but was quickly disappointed when the response was no.  Not enough staff at this time.  Bummer.  Okay, whatever.  It was a nice thought but not meant to be.  But somehow, some way we needed to make this happen, and soon.  Cannon will be in 7th grade in August and needs to do this program before 8th grade if possible.  In our hearts, we knew we needed to commit to November.  Sure, it would mean missing hunting season, basketball, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is what it is.  We better get it together, put down our deposit to hold our spot and figure out how to pay for it for the next 6 months.  As we planned for November, I emailed one more time to make sure November was still available.  No response.  For days.  And then it came.

(April 7) Samantha:                                                                                                                            Hi Britani, 

   I am trying to work on a plan, one option might be May 11. If that is a possibility would May 11 work for you to start all 3 kids Eval and Treatment?
Huh?  What?  This May? Surely not?  What is happening????
And so began this  whirlwind of a month.  The door was open.  God had opened the door.  But how do we walk through it?  The Center required a 2 week quarantine before May 11th.  That means we would need to be there by April 27th.  20 days.  We have 20 days to find a place to live, secure furniture, electricity, water, internet.  Gather the necessities for living in an apartment. Pack up for 4 months and hit the road. Oh, and figure out how to pay for it all.  No biggie.
How is this even possible?  There’s no way.
But then I remembered…..this is what I had prayed for.  This is what I begged God to do.  Now it’s time to do our part….put one foot in front of the other and bravely walk through the open door.

Whatever God requires of you, He moves heaven and earth to get it done.

I would like to say, it’s been smooth sailing, but there have definitely been some ups and downs.  So much, so fast.  Strong emotions.  Sleepless nights.  Fear.  But one thing has remained.  Door after door has been opened for us.  God has smacked me in the face, told me to put on my big girl panties, and follow him.  No doubt he’s leading the way.  So I will be obedient and not take my eyes off of Him as He not only gives me directions, but also walks ahead of me.

God!  You heard my prayers and you answered.  Geez, are you a sprinter?  See I’m more of a distance runner.  But I guess it’s never too late to try something new.  The gun has fired to signal the start of the race and I stumbled trying to get out of the blocks.  After regaining my footing, I see you up there!  I want to just stop and watch you run but I need to finish the race. There’s no way I can be as fast as you but  I’ll do my best to keep up!

Thanks for the invitation to walk through the door.

Love, Britani


The Lex Kids