So my laptop did not survive the journey home from Utah.
I share this not to complain, but to explain why I have not written much since arriving home from speaking there.
No laptop means I am crushed in a temporal sadness kind of way, because I always have it with me because I am always writing. Except now I can’t.
I rarely write now because the only time I have access to our home computer is when I am there in the mornings – except then I am teaching the children and Nathan is on the computer anyway, because his laptop died also – and that’s how he does his work.
So now both of us are sharing one computer for our work at home jobs, and sharing it with six homeschoolers who already scramble for their turns.
That leaves journaling via blog kind of last on the list.
(And impacts how quickly the next books are being completed, or not completed.)
But I promise life is still happening:
We voted on our family Halloween costume for this year… And don’t even ask because it’s a surprise. I don’t know if we can ever top our coolness the year we were Steampunk Peter Pan, or meet the level of adorableness the year they were the Boxcar children. But our costume this year fits, anyway, and is hilariously ironic. Classic. It is the best we can do this year, and the children are super excited and already digging through closets and toy boxes for accessories to their costumes.
I took Anber on a date:
And Barrett lost his first tooth!
That was the first time we had a little one since toddlerhood to grow up so much to loose teeth! I cried like a baby!
Oh, and speaking of growing up, our baby is now a threenager.
But it’s okay because despite being NPO and fed exclusively through her gtube, she still cooks for me every day, all day long, right where I am trying to walk.
In family home evening this week, we made hearts of all the things we appreciate about each other. It was super sweet to see what everyone said about the others, and the bickering has gone way down since. It will come back, I know, but we are enjoying the peace and harmony in the meantime.
We still make yogurt once a week, so that these hungry children have something besides oatmeal for breakfast once in awhile:
We even got a gift card, and had to vote about whether to use it on shoes or clothes. Except then four different families randomly contacted us about winter clothes the sizes of our children, and we went through what worked, and everyone had enough! So that meant that for the first time in ages, all six children got brand new shoes – not just hand me downs or shoes that came with their orthopedic braces, but actual brand new shoes. Everyone was so excited, and so proud, even while Mama just cringed at three boys in new white tennis shoes. They love them, though!
So see, life is happening.
I just don’t have a laptop to type about it anymore.
But we also, allegedly and theoretically, have a buyer for the Bartlesville home, which is a huge relief, no matter what happens about the medically fragile homes.
But it’s not final yet, so we will see.
And, it’s an investor so that if we get the final go ahead for the home, then we have the house to do it. If not, at least the house was sold.
But that’s a small scale worry. There are so many prayers to pray, with Oklahoma in such crisis over its budget and mental health care!
Yes, the state announced cuts of all outpatient mental health services this week, which impacts the services my children receive if it all really unfolds the way they say it will.
But no, not my job, not yet, since I work in the hospital now. This is a huge relief to us. I am so grateful we followed that prompting to change jobs when we did, when the church told me, even though it seemed crazy at the time. I would have been laid off today if not.
But even still, it impacts many of my very dear friends, and all of our patients.
It’s really devastating. And no one saw it coming, not to the extent of suddenly one day the state announcing all outpatient services will be discontinued, just like that.
It’s a thing, though, in a world of opposition, where things happen beyond your control or without warning.
And in a world where classes become more distinct, gaps in services become broader, and where so many lack access to the basic support they need just to stay alive.
We experience that as we care for six special needs children, advocating for them sometimes even with those who should know better, or educating those with good hearts who just don’t know, or crying in gratitude for those who learn with us and help them so much.
Sometimes it’s simple things that make a difference, like a free dance class for special needs kids or a teacher who comes once a week just to take the children on a nature walk.
I have only seen one comment that was cruel with its false statement about how the only people this budget cut impacts are people who don’t try.
That was frustrating. I think many people, especially those already in need, have fewer choices than we often assume they do. Besides that, it’s only a matter of a few changes in circumstances that separate any of us from being in those very shoes.
The last emergency trip for Kyrie to be in the hospital out of state came less than a month after she just got out of the hospital for her gtube. We had been off work, had that to pay for, and suddenly had to pay for another hospitalization and trip that we had not even planned for at all. We didn’t even know it was coming.
(And yes, everyone should have rainy day savings for such a time, except ours was used up when my parents died, and when Nathan was laid off, and when I got cancer, and when cancer came back, and when we had eighty children in four years who came to us with nothing and then took everything with them when they left, and when our baby outlived hospice by spending two and a half years in one hospital or another.)
So many people helped in the small ways they could, and together with help of the community and loved ones and people we have never even met, we were able to gather what we needed and get to Cincinnati and back home again.
But the money we raised and resources we gathered were for that.
It wasn’t enough to cover being off work.
And we had to make a scary choice, and skip a mortgage payment to get Kyrie to the hospital and back again. We told the mortgage company, and we sent paperwork from the hospital, and we planned to make it up plus the next month when we got back. We agreed with the company how to do it, and had everything set as best we could.
Except while we were out of town, they sold our loan.
And then when we came back, and I was on FMLA while she was recovering (not working and not being paid, but my job held for me), we sent in the money as arranged – except because the loan was sold, the money came back to us. It was bizarre. So I called to ask what happened and what to do, and they said they would send us a letter for where to send the money.
Except we never got it.
Or the kids got the mail and it didn’t get to my hands.
So then we called again, and again, and again, and it was weeks and weeks while we were trying to find out where our mortgage payment needed to be sent.
How scary is that?
We finally got a letter saying we had to send a letter, which seems silly but I understand they were trying to document everything, and so we sent our letter but still didn’t hear back from them about where to send our payments – the one we missed, plus the next month when we tried to make it up, and now this month which is only a week away from next month!
Finally today, through prayer and prompting and following through on those impressions, I was able to find a different phone number and connect to an actual person after two months of trying.
Talking to them helped them connect our files from what they had and what had been sent before we left for the hospital, and everything got worked out. It was all a computer error from things crossing in the mail at the same time the loan was sold for no reason relating to us. But now they have all the documentation we had been told to send, from us and the hospital and my FMLA, and got all the documents connected to our account. It was such a relief! Everything was okay! They reversed our penalties, and sent us the address where now we send our mortgage payments.
How scary was that?
It has been a huge stressor in recent weeks for me and Nathan and those who care for us, as we tried so hard not to be afraid and continue acting in faith.
We are so relieved!
And it happened to us, something that scary, not because we are bad people, but because we found ourselves in circumstances in which we had to choose Kyrie’s treatment or paying the mortgage.
And because someone we don’t even know and have never met uploaded our personal documents to the wrong folder for a company we didn’t even know had bought our loan.
Of course there are some “losers” who are on Medicaid and will be impacted by those cuts. But there are “losers” on private insurances, too. Being a loser is about who you choose to be, not what insurance you have.
So maybe they aren’t losers. Maybe they are humans who made mistakes, like the guy who put our documents in the wrong folder. I bet he has really good insurance, even though he almost destroyed our lives (that’s what it felt like, anyway). But he wasn’t trying to. It was a mistake.
Or maybe they are humans who have found themselves in circumstances in which it feels like there are no choices, like us, who made a risky choice in the middle of an emergency when we had tried everything and didn’t know what else to do but thought we did everything we could according to the rules and counsel advised us.
So it turns out that new laptops falls down on the priority list when you have four months of mortgage to pay, with the next Cincinnati trip looming ahead on some unknown date.
And maybe new laptops for a couple of writers seem less important when you look into the eyes of your toddler who has survived long enough to turn into a threenager, long enough to start telling stories about the hospitals she remembers, long enough to say thank you for holding me that day on the helicopter when I could not breathe. I was so scared, Mama.
Maybe new laptops for a couple of writers being denied by a family budget pales in comparison to the safety of thousands losing the support and care that helps them stay alive.
Because it’s not about what we have or don’t have.
It’s about helping each other through this experience we call life.
It’s about rallying around each other, like cheering on Kirk as he rides his scooter with his left leg (his weak side in his cerebral palsy), or celebrating Barrett when he gets mad but doesn’t lose it (because getting mad is just fine, but hitting is not okay). It’s about helping each other, like watching Alex rush to open the door for his sister, or seeing Anber sorting her younger sister’s clothes even though that isn’t her job. It’s about advocating for each other, even when you can’t win, like when Mary just wanted to go to school with her siblings while they watch their baby sister die.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s about pulling off the impossible, like rescuing your own house at the last minute by the tender mercies of God.
And maybe sometimes those big miracles actually unfold by small and simple things, like a little girl whose smile has stayed with us long enough to change the world.
And maybe when you rally, sometimes it’s for yourself, like when you are fighting for a job that you love, for people you have a passion for serving. Maybe sometimes it’s for those you love, like the children you adopted from foster care. Sometimes it’s for others, maybe even those you don’t know, like thousands of Oklahoma citizens who desperately need outpatient counseling services to stay healthy and well and alive.
Or maybe you are a loser who just needs to be warned that if we don’t have outpatient services for these people, then many of them are going to be in crisis – a danger to themselves and a danger to others. And then they will be brought to my ER, and there won’t be any beds left in psychiatric facilities, so I will have to admit them to your hospital where you came for “normal” procedures because you have real insurance because you are cooler than the rest of us.
Except you aren’t a loser. You’re just busy. And overwhelmed with your own problems. And drowning in life a little yourself.
I get it. I do.
But you can still contact your legislators to tell them we need mental health services. Click here if you need help!
Or even attend the rally with us on Tuesday, at the Capitol itself, where we are gathering to give thousands a people a voice to their cry for help.
My children have been through a lot in their little lives, and have a very sick little sister, and are stuck with me for a mom now, so they are in counseling.
They will lose those services if the mental health outpatient services are not funded.
Nathan has done counseling for his depression, and is pretty open about that and how counseling has helped.
And obviously counseling is my job, but also I already am in counseling myself because of everything else, stuff like dead parents and miscarriages and getting held at gunpoint in the ER (by someone who didn’t have outpatient services available, by the way), and so our family is there nearly every day between my brain and Nathan and those children, so there are no more empty slots for appointments to help me to deal with life if my children don’t have that extra help.
I’m just saying.
So sometimes a girl needs to write a really long blog after being quiet for days, because she doesn’t have a laptop anymore but then something big enough to write about happens and can’t be ignored, so she writes it on her tiny phone in an app that leaves all kinds of errors because of how ridiculous auto correct is these days.
But she tries, and says something, because she can’t not.
And maybe it isn’t her best essay ever, but it was an important one, and so we all do our best regardless of our circumstances – sometimes in spite of them.
That’s what these people are doing.
They just want counseling.
At least they have the courage to be asking for help, and at least they have the guts to act in faith and show up to their appointments.
Not everyone else does, even when they have insurance.
These people are trying.
They are asking for help.
Please don’t tell them no.