Last Call

LAUGH WEAR 2017

Last Call on 2017 LAUGH Wear!!!

Not only will you find amazing LAUGH apparel that looks great and speaks volumes, but because we do not charge for LAUGH you will also be supporting our LAUGH ministry through your purchase.  We truly desire for ALL women to know how amazing they are and to live a vibrant life right here and right now!

 

 

Did you hear about our Hoodie Giveaway? Were you disappointed since you ordered prior to the promotion that you wouldn’t be entered into the drawing? Never fear…if you placed a LAUGH Wear order this season, your name was entered into a drawing for other FABUOULS PRIZES! Winners will be announced tomorrow evening.


LAUGH WEAR ORDER FORM – PICK-UP AT LAUGH ON JULY 20

LAUGH WEAR ORDER FORM – SHIPPED DIRECTLY TO YOUR HOME 

Thank you for partnering with us in this endeavor!  And might we add “sister-friend, you look good in that LAUGH wear!” LOVE IT!  Life is better when you’re LAUGHing!

 

They Were There

What an amazing night at our LAUGH 2017 kick-off! From the unbelievably perfect weather to the smiles and beauty of each one of you that attended, our cups were overflowing! It takes a large team of leaders to pull-off such a big event week to week. LAUGH would not be possible without our leaders and we wanted to share our LAUGH season kick-off from their perspective!

Brie started the conversation this morning by saying:

My cup is FULL!! Last night was so rewarding (and humbling). Some highlights:

*The woman with double hip arthritis and is allergic to the anti-inflammatory medication. And she tweaked her hip yesterday morning. BUT SHE WAS THERE!

*The woman who stopped attending in the middle of last year, but knew she needed to come back this year. She found a friend to join her and is committed to finishing this year! SHE WAS THERE!

*Minivan after minivan after car after SUV that kept pulling in with EMPTY car seats. I know that stage of life. I know the exhaustion and chaos and busyness. They brought tears to my eyes as I stood in the drive cheering them in because they found a way to make one hour work. THEY WERE THERE!

What stood out to you? What filled your cup?
Because I want to keep filling mine with more stories today!!

Bev: 

The lady who is post knee surgery and limping. SHE WAS THERE!

Her mom who is having hip problems and struggling. SHE WAS THERE!

Their friend who encouraged them both to come last night and they are all determined to “See this through for us”!

Yup- These ladies inspire me and make me cry.

Teca: 

The empty car seats – YES! Also, how many women came with a friend!

Judy: 

When Cara and I asked our walking team, who was new this year and they all raised their hands, I knew He was working! I was one of them last year and it was the most amazing experience I could have done for me! I’m proud to be a part of leading a team this year! Amen!

Amy:

The one whose daughter had been trying to convince her to come since the first season–SHE WAS THERE, and brought friends. (She’s now in her daughter’s group. 😉 )

The one whose friend did it last year and convinced her to come, but then moved…and she came anyway.

The friend of mine who always told me about hearing from her daughter about it last year. SHE WAS THERE!

Linda:

The lady who saw a flyer at Seelye and wanted to check it out. SHE WAS THERE!

The woman who is recovering from hip replacement and is walking to get active again. SHE WAS THERE!

The lady who had injuries a year ago and couldn’t walk and is now trying to walk slowly to strengthen her legs. SHE WAS THERE!

God is EVERYWHERE in this ministry.

Lisa:

On a personal level … last night was my first night ever! So, jumping in as a PTL was amazing!!!! I was unsure how this whole thing would come together with so many women! I wasn’t sure I wanted to not be in my jammies at 7:30 like I usually am after a long day. But, I was amazed … amazed at the smiles, the giggles, the look of perseverance of the women who were going to finish those 3 laps of the pace test and amazed of the feeling I got that I never want to miss one night! God is so good ladies. I had no idea what a beautiful & amazing group of ladies this would be. I am so excited! Wahoo!!!

Koti:

The lady who came through last, and probably knew she would… SHE WAS THERE!

The pace group leader who ran next to her… SHE WAS THERE! (And I saw you, it warmed my heart)

The girl who doesn’t have many friends… SHE WAS THERE!

The girls who are counting down the end of the school year and just put in a full day with young students… SHE WAS THERE!

The girl who “sucks” at running but knows it’s good for her so one heavy foot after the

other she went… SHE WAS THERE!!!

Jen:

The lady who had a 13 lbs. cancerous tumor removed from her abdomen 9 months ago…SHE WAS THERE!!!

Lisa:

My mother-in-law who knew NO ONE and is finishing her last days at school before retirement …SHE WAS THERE!!!

Dawn:

Our team of leaders who could say, “this is too much, it’s grown too large” and decide to end the program…. but they don’t. THEY ARE THERE. They smile and cheer and are genuinely excited. I’ve heard from some newbies today how impressed they are with how organized it was. That’s a great leadership team for ya!

Erin:

The friend that was VERY nervous, thought she wouldn’t know anyone…SHE WAS THERE, and knew a few other ladies…and will be back!

The friend that was VERY nervous, thought she wouldn’t know anyone….SHE WAS THERE, and knew a few other ladies…and will be back!
I know it’s been said but it really stuck out to me, all the moms arriving with empty car seats! (I was one of them too!)

Katie:

I absolutely love reading all of these today! Seriously ladies, tears at work because I am so grateful to be part of this amazing ministry!!!

Leone:

The new PGL’s who were wondering what they’d gotten into..they were there; the women who were there on the recommendation of their daughters, they were there and the high school friends, supporting each other, they were there! Amazing women….ALL!!! Wonderfully blessed and amazing night!

Teresa:

All the woman who cut out of daily chores and maybe stayed up an hour later last night to get caught up were there! My stepmom who my sister-inlaw and I have been trying to get to come for 7 years was there!!!!
The woman who was car shopping at Seelye saw the flyer came and came by herself was there!!! I caught up with her after the walk pace test and she asked what group I was. I told her 8/blue. She said I am 9/red but I will be in your group before this is over 😃 Her determination is there!!!

I feel so blessed and honored to be a part of this group.

Were you there?  Our goal is to embrace you, encourage you and equip you to

Live A Vibrant Life, Right Here, Right Now!

Join us – you can still register at LAUGHinc.net!

LAUGH 2017

Our season is Now Open

Today, we kick off our LAUGH 2017 Summer Training – Press On!  We can’t wait to see those who are returning and meet those who are joining us for the first time!  You will be SO glad you came!  Our start time is 7:30.  We try to be very punctual because we know that you, like us, have plates that are overflowing and to get out for just that one hour takes a bit of maneuvering and planning.  With that in mind, to keep things on schedule, please plan to come a little early this week if at all possible.  We will be awaiting your arrival anytime after 7:00 and we will have you on your way home by 8:30 unless you want to stick around and chat.  Many of us love to just hang out with one another for a few, eat some fruit and commune with the Mosquitos!

Boaz the Psoas

Have you ever heard of it?

 

The Psoas…… Have you ever heard of it?

 I had never heard of it.  I really didn’t even know it existed.  But, one day I had excruciating back pain.  Not lower back pain, but mid back pain.  This pain, it would be there one minute and then feel as if it disappeared, until I moved just right again…  I wondered what in the world could be causing it.  I blamed the pain on my jelly belly (ie lack of core muscles), my chair (no support), my huge and heavy bag that I whipped over my shoulder on a daily basis, could it be the stress of my Master’s program, possibly the fact that I’m on my feet for a majority of my day (teacher-itis) and I figured that if I stretched my back enough, it would go away.  It didn’t. Maybe if I cracked my back, it would go away.  It didn’t.  In fact, the pain just grew.  I looked like a 130 year old person getting out of my van every day.  Nothing I did improved it.

 

My family was headed on vacation and I thought to myself, if I don’t have a miracle occur I am going to have a complete “cannot move, get me to the hospital” type of experience and that was not in my vacation plans.  I prayed and begged God to remove the pain, but no relief.  I bargained with God… (have you ever done that?) I said “God, if you could please remove this pain…. I know I have neglected my body.  I know this is my fault.  I need to take care of the body you gave me.  I will Lord!  Just please remove the pain!”  The next morning, the pain was still there, but the name Jess was in my brain.  Jess is an amazing masseuse and work out guru, she’s a friend that I met through LAUGH….  “Jess, I’m desperate.  I can’t move and I’m leaving in two days.” She welcomed me in and it was then that she  introduced me to “Boaz, my Psoas.”  (No, she didn’t call it that, but I have belovingly referred to it that way since the day we met).   Jess pushed here and there and applied some direct (felt like finger-poking-through-my-body when she was actually only gently touching a very angry Psoas) pressure.  She kindly but straightforward explained that she could tell Boaz was unhappy and that I needed to take better care of Boaz through preventative stretching and yes, core work, not carrying my heavy bag on my shoulder, etc, etc…..  Jess explained to me that the Psoas muscle, though rarely thought about, can cause immense pain and do a lot of damage to the rest of the body if not taken care of.

 

Hmmmmm.  Jess was talking about my psoas, but in my heart, I felt a much deeper stirring.  Job 38:7-8 says “My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.”  I knew I had not been paying attention to the health of my body.  If I’m completely honest, I had been relying on my own strength to balance my crazy life.  God had opened amazing doors for me over this last year, opportunities that were beyond my wildest imagination and experiences that He had ordained and that were bigger than any human should attempt to handle on their own…… and in gratitude, I said “Thank you, Lord.  I’ve got it!”  And I did, I had it… until Boaz, my psoas, let me now that I had been neglecting important things. I had been neglecting my time with God and I had been relying on my own strength to accomplish things that were beyond my capabilities.  Things that God created me for, but not things that I could do without Him.  Thus, the need to meet up with Boaz.  Boaz, my psoas, is my personal reminder that if I’m not purposeful and intentional about my priorities – it will fester and it will cause me pain and it can do damage to the rest of my body.  Painful, harmful damage.

Philippians 4:13 says that “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.”  It’s not my strength.  Boaz proved that.  It’s God.  I plan to rely on Him….(Sorry Boaz).   How ‘bout you?  Who will you rely on?       

I Want My Mommy!

“I want my mommy!”  There, I said it!

I’m 47 years old, and the ache in my heart for my mom is still so raw, just like it was on the day we said goodbye 13 ½ years ago.

I was pregnant with our first born daughter, Izzy when my mom received the diagnosis of stage four metastatic breast cancer.

For many years after my mom’s death, I would avoid being in public on Mother’s Day. If someone happened to tell me happy Mother’s Day. I would say thank you, but that was NOT what I was thinking in my head. The loss for me was so big, I couldn’t see past my own grief to celebrate being a mom myself.

I would have these conversations with God, asking how He could leave me motherless when I was a young mother myself. I was so caught up in grief I couldn’t see what he had given me in return.

Slowly, over the years I have started to see the blessings he has given me in the women he has placed in my life.

When we moved to Kalamazoo just as my mom was diagnosed with cancer I met this wonderful woman and next door neighbor. Over the last 17 years, that neighbor named Leone became way more than a neighbor. She is one of my most cherished friends. I’m not sure if she would appreciate being called a motherly figure to me because she is only a few years older, but she is the one I call when I have a sick kid, I need extra help with my kids and she even stayed in my home when I had surgery. She is also Godmother to my son Max.

17 years ago we also found an amazing church family and over the years I have developed a very special relationship with Pastor Becky. She now plays the role of my spiritual mentor. She pushes me out of my comfort zone, continually prays over my family, taught me to bake bread and mentored both of my daughters.

I’m not certain where or when our relationship started, but her name is Linda. She has the biggest servant heart of anyone I know.  When she called me on the phone last fall and said, “I have these hostas that need splitting, do you want them?”  I thought I heard my mom’s voice as she said it. When we spend time together in her garden splitting plants I can easily go back to when my mom and I shared this same activity.

My sister has stepped in with my kiddos. Just like my mom, she has this amazing ability to purchase the perfect gift. My mom would often call me and say, “I bought ya something!”  Whatever the gift was it was always perfect. I often tell my daughter Tori, she has inherited this same gift giving ability.

I have this crazy cousin Tina that lives in San Clemente, California. Tina’s dad and my mom were siblings. My mom was the baby of eight kids so I have a bunch of first cousins on my mom’s side of the family. Growing up Tina and I didn’t spend much time together. On a spring break trip to Southern California 7 years ago, Tina and I spent a considerable amount of time together. Our relationship has never been the same (but in a good way). She taught me how to make my Grandma Baugher’s sweet tea and shared family stories that I have never heard. Spending time with her is just comfortable.


It’s been 14 years since I have celebrated an earthly Mother’s Day with my mom. But in the midst of a loss, you can have an unexpected gain. It may have taken 5 women to only slightly fill the void of losing my mother but, the Lord did not leave me, he did not forsake me. If this Mother’s Day finds you with an ache in your heart, lean on your Heavenly Father who wants more for you than you could ever ask or imagine and when the time is right, accept the love, help, and support of a motherly role model. 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Psalm 46:10

Be Still

Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God…….”

Earlier this year my church offered a 21-day fasting and prayer challenge.  The goal:  to give up something hindering my time, in relationship to God.  Oh, that shouldn’t be too hard, it’s like Lent, only early, right?

Our church congregation had just completed a “read through the Bible in two years” program and I was looking for a way to maintain my focus in God’s word.  I’m handed the perfect solution.  I would give up my nightly/before bed novel reading, replacing it with reading the Bible and praying for others.  I admire Christians with their devout prayer habits, so this could be my launch to a deeper relationship with God through prayer.

I prayerfully considered what God was calling me to read…..Esther…..Galatians…..Acts…..

I settled on the exploits of Esther and her cousin Mordecai.  While contemplating Esther’s rise to the throne….um…I need to call my mom and….um….put deodorant on the grocery list……um……remember to take paper towels to work tomorrow…..WHAT?   No, no that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.  Let me start again.  After Esther becomes queen, her cousin Mordecai refuses to bow to a high official of the King…..um when I wash my new pants next I have to remember not to dry them…..um….my car needs an oil change…..and….um….don’t forget to make a dinner reservation for ….. WHAT?  Here I go again,….what in the heck am I doing?  God, I’m so sorry, why can’t I stay on track with my prayer and reading?

I decided I must be too tired to complete my reading and prayer, so I turned off the light, said my personal prayers and slept.

The next night, I settled in for further reading in Esther.  The reading went well, much better than the night before, so I closed my Bible and began specific prayers for others.  Father, I lift up to you my mother, who’s suffering from bronchitis, please provide the healing she needs…..oh healing….um….I need to put triple antibiotic ointment on my grocery list….um….oh my goodness, here I go again!!  I tried again several times, with the same result.

I decided I must be too tired to completed my prayers, so I turned off the light, said my personal prayers and slept.

This continued off and on, mostly on, for the full 21 days.  Concerned with my lack of focus, I reached out to my pastor, who assured me I was in good company, that it’s better to talk (pray) with God than not, and that who better could you sleep with every night?  I wasn’t a matter of my not being prayerful enough, only that I was trying to force the timing.  My being still, came after the lights were out and not when I was making time for it.  God always has a plan…………..

Meet Linda Riley

 

  • Tell us a little bit about your family.

    I have been married to Tom for 42 years, and our daughter Megan is a school teacher in Florida. Tom and I thoroughly enjoy retirement, and we love having more time to relax, travel, nurture friendships and read.

Patrick’s wedding-Tom, Linda, Megan

  • Tell us about your LAUGH journey.

    I didn’t participate in LAUGH the first couple years because I thought it was only for runners. My friend, Jen, encouraged me to get involved and assured me that many women walked as well. I was still hesitant because I’m a slow walker, and I wasn’t sure I could keep up. After more reassurance from her, I finally decided to try it out. What a great decision! I found that not only are there various pace groups for runners and walkers/runners, but also for walkers as well. I walked in the slowest group that year, and with the encouragement, inspiration and positivity from other ladies and my pace group leader, Kerrie, I finished my first 5k in years. I look forward to LAUGH every week and know that I’ll be surrounded by positive, uplifting, inspiring women who cheer each other on in their own health, spiritual and life journeys.

5K-Walkers

  • What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?

    The Whistler by John Grisham and I Am by Michele Cushatt. I’m a huge Karen Kingsbury fan so as soon as I finish The Whistler, I’ll be diving into her latest book. She’s written scores of books, and I’ve read every one of them.

  • What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

    Be still, and know that I am God.  -Psalm 46:10

  • What are some of your favorite go-to meals when time is tight and dinner MUST get on the table?

    Homemade vegetable soup that is a staple I keep in the freezer or casseroles I make ahead and freeze.

  • What is a fun LAUGH memory you have?

    Not specifically a fun memory, but a special memory. Kerrie, my pace group leader (a runner), knew I was concerned about finishing last at the 5k in Allegan that first year, and she selflessly gave up her opportunity to run the race and walked the entire race with me—encouraging me all the way and crossing the finish line with me. In addition, toward the end of the course, Jen came alongside to finish the last several yards with me as well. She actually ran the race but stopped just short of the finish line so she could circle back a couple blocks, cheer me on, walk with me, and cross the finish line with me. It was obvious to me that their goal that morning was to make sure I received all the support I needed to cross the finish line and not be alone. I was the last LAUGHer to finish, and I was treated with dignity, cheers and abundant support. The next year my friend, Carol, gave up her fast pace to walk the race and cross the finish line with me. I will be forever grateful to those women for their kind, caring, encouraging hearts. To me, that experience is what LAUGH is all about.

5K-Coming up the hill

  • What music do you like to listen to when exercising?

    I use my exercise time for praying, enjoying nature or conversing with fellow walkers, so I do not listen to music when exercising.

  • What is your favorite running apparel or must have?

    My LAUGH t-shirts and high-quality walking shoes.

  • What one thing would you want the world to know about LAUGH?

    You will find immense encouragement and acceptance at LAUGH and will be surrounded by positivity. Ladies exhibit every level of activity, including those recovering from an injury, women who are pregnant, and various speeds of walkers, combination walkers/runners, and runners. There is a place for YOU!

LAUGH-Crossed the finish line!

  • What does living a VIBRANT life look like to you?

    Making sure I’m right with God on a daily basis. I need to be filled with the Spirit to find true peace and joy, which I think reflects in the way I live my everyday life. Even though I am not always successful, it is my desire to live my life so vibrantly that the love of Jesus shows through me.

  • What advice would you give to a new LAUGHer?

    You are more! Start wherever you’re at in your journey, even if that means getting off the couch and out the door.

  • What is your go to source of exercise, your favorite workout or regularly scheduled workout?

    Walking, preferably outside, and often with my neighbors.

  • What is your guilty pleasure food?

    Chocolate!

    LAUGH-Linda & Carol

Registration Is OPEN!!!

Join us for season 2017

 

LAUGH is a place where you will warmly be
Embraced, Encouraged and Equipped
to remember or maybe for the first time KNOW just how amazing you are! There’s no comparison, there’s no competitiveness.

 

YOU ARE MORE! More than you’ve been told you are. More than your finances say you are. More than your scale displays you are. More than your insecurity thinks you are. YOU ARE MORE! And we can’t wait to help you live a Vibrant Life, right here, right now!  Registration is open for our 10 week 5K training program. No matter your pace we have a place for you.

Meet Kari Wildner

 

  • Tell us a little about your family

I am married to my best friend Rory and we have one kiddo/daughter Lea, who is 11 years old. We have an adopted cat named Luigi and we love him (even tho we are really dog people at heart) Our family likes to run and we especially all like to get our goofy/silly on together. Fun fact: my husband ran in college so he really introduced me to running. At first, I could not run for more than a few minutes and my breathing was just so horrible. After training for a few months though, I ran my first 5k without stopping and could not believe how far I had come. Now I am training for my 4th half marathon!

  • Tell us about your LAUGH journey

Last year was my first year at LAUGH and I kind of joined in on a whim after hearing about it at church and seeing posts on Facebook about it. It sounded like something that would be uplifting and also would serve as a time every week to get outside, to get moving, and to get to know other Christian women. I, unfortunately, missed out on the LOL 5k last year, but am really looking forward to running it this year along with the other women I meet!

 

  • What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?

I just finished reading Fervent by Priscilla Shirer with a girls Bible study! It was such a great read for anyone looking to really dig into prayer and to look at prayer with a fresh perspective. I also just got Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and am ready to jump into that and to try some new recipes, spending time in fellowship and enjoying good food with friends and family. As far as podcasts, I am a big TED talks listener and tune into all things NPR!

 

  • What are some of your favorite quotes or words to live by?

Oh man…favorite quotes…I really like Brene’ Brown’s work and one of my favorite quotes of hers is “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.” I feel like we as women place so much pressure on ourselves and I know that when I focus on letting go of those self-expectations, I am kinder to myself, I am a more present wife and mom and friend and co-worker, etc.

 

  • What are some of your favorite go to meals when time is tight and dinner must get on the table?

You can never go wrong with brinner! Breakfast anything for dinner is always a win at our house, breakfast burritos, pancakes, French toast with some fruit…all super quick and easy and comforting We also eat a lot of homemade Mexican too, black bean tacos, taco salad, tostadas, guacamole or pico on everything! Pretty quick as long as all of the ingredients are in the pantry!

 

  • What is a fun LAUGH memory you have?

One of my favorite/most meaningful LAUGH memories I have was during a run with my group and I was just really struggling/having a hard time keeping up. My group leaders Lisa and Brienne were so kind and supportive and they would just take a few minutes to walk and talk with me. To me, that really summed up what LAUGH is about, lifting one another up, encouraging each other as women while getting to know one another. I had a lot of fun pushing myself to try harder and felt so welcome in my group

 

  • What music do you like to listen to when exercising?

I actually have been trying to go without music lately, just to allow some quiet mental space during my long runs. But, for regular exercise, I love One Republic (those beats!) and also Sia (Titanium anyone??!) It definitely gets me going when I need that extra push! My close friends and running buddies know when a Sia song comes on my playlist because I am not above dancing/running

 

  • What is your favorite running apparel or must have?

I have come to realize just how critical having a good pair of running shoes is! So, always good shoes that are fit for my feet and gait as well as my flip belt. It holds everything you need for any type of run or activity!

 

  • What one thing would you want the world to know about LAUGH?

LAUGH is truly for every woman, any age, any fitness level. If you are just a little curious or interested, I challenge you to show up and find out what an awesome community it is! Be prepared to hear authentic, personal stories and testimonies from women who will inspire you and to encourage you on your own health journey. And, of course be prepared to have fun and for a lot of laughter

 

  • What does living a VIBRANT life look like to you?

To me, living a VIBRANT life looks like being comfortable in your own skin, using the talents and gifts that God has given you to be a blessing to those around you, to uplift others, and to have the courage to just be yourself and to be vulnerable. When I strive to live this way, I definitely feel like I am focused on letting God use me to fulfill His purpose!

 

  • What advice would you give to a new LAUGHer?

You are already more than enough, so show up/don’t be afraid! I think it is really easy to doubt ourselves and to talk ourselves out of doing something new or different, maybe because we are scared to look silly or out of shape or whatever. The best thing about LAUGH is that is really is a place where women are welcomed, where encouragement is everywhere, and where so much FUN happens!

 

  • What is your go to source of exercise, your favorite workout, or regularly scheduled workout?

Right now I am logging a lot of miles running, but my favorite workouts are group fitness classes like Body Pump or RPM/spinning. I am definitely the person who works out harder when I have a teacher or instructor calling me out and pushing me to give it 110%! I need that accountability, which is another reason why running and moving with a group of women is such an awesome workout for me!

 

  • What is your guilty pleasure food?

Oh man…so many delicious foods to choose from! I am more of a savory food person, so like movie theater popcorn with real butter or some serious pizza is what I like to indulge in And, now I am hungry!

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

and what it means to me

 

My family adopted our sweet little girl out of the foster care system in 2014. We could tell from the first day we met her, that she was dealing with something. Not quite sure what the cause of her many delays were, we started down the avenue of Early On Education. Every home visit and evaluation would bring about stress for both of us. What a huge sense of rejection and failure when your kid can’t build a tower or find the toy under the blanket, or whatever developmental thing they’re supposed to be able to do at that given age. As a mom, I wanted her to be on track so I worked with her and went to play therapies with her. I tried not to worry, I tried not to resent her, but in brutal honesty, I failed. Every time another child passed her in milestones and development I could feel myself disappointed. I hate myself for those feelings.

While in foster care we requested a comprehensive neurodevelopmental trauma assessment at a well-known office in our town. It was there that we would receive her FAS diagnosis. My thoughts and feelings bounced from being surprised to relieved to terrified and several more in between. I had (and still have) no idea what this would all mean. Everything I knew about FAS was from an episode of Law and Order, and let me tell you it wasn’t good.

We adopted her later that year and enrolled her in school. She was in an Early Childhood Special Education class with about 6 other kids. She managed to get through the year and would head back the next. The new year rolled around and with it a new teacher. (The thing is, she does not do transitions…) It was within a matter of weeks that I had to sign papers saying I would not be bringing her back to that school, LOL.  So we were blessed in transferring her to an all special needs school in our county. (This new school is where it’s at!)  I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly hurtful and damaging it is for you to entrust teachers, educators, bus transporters etc. with your child and feel as if everything about them is an inconvenience and burden to them. They were so done with her at the first school that on her IEP under “strengths” all they had written was “she likes to read books”. While I will admit that stepping into the “Special Needs” world was shocking and terrifying, I can honestly tell you I couldn’t have asked for anything better! She still has “issues”, we get incident reports home multiple times a week, she hits, pinches, throws stuff, runs away, breaks almost everything, swears, screams, yada yada yada, but they love her. They see potential, they see strengths (plural), they are willing and able to work with her and we are forever grateful!

What is an FASD: “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is not a diagnosis, but is an umbrella term (including FAS, ARND, ARBD & pFAS) describing the range of effects that can occur when a developing baby is prenatally exposed to alcohol. FASD is a lifetime disability that affects each child differently. Some children with an FASD have specific facial features and tend to be smaller in height and weight. They often have a brain injury that never goes away. The only cause of FASD is alcohol use during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. There is also no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can affect the baby during every trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, FASD cannot be cured. The brain damage that occurs to an unborn baby when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol cannot be changed or reversed.  However, people with an FASD can function very well in life when given the right supports.  Supports include a stable and loving home or a job coach and placement program”. (https://www.mofas.org)

We have such a long road in front of us. I’m not sure what she will and won’t be able to do. Will she graduate, will she be able to drive, will she be able to work, to live on her own, get married? Will she end up in jail, be taken advantage of, struggle with substance abuse? So many future worries, however we are so focused on getting through each day that I don’t spend too much time thinking about the future. I struggle with the day to day because it seems like I’m the only one she’ll listen to, both a blessing and a curse. Babysitters are non-existent and our social lives have fizzled out. Church is challenging, family gatherings are stressful. It’s a broken record of “she did this, she did that, no don’t touch that, mom she is doing… etc”. Everyone thinks she’s cute but no one wants to take her for a while (and if they attempt to, I get the laundry list of all the naughty things she did). Luckily I have a spouse that lets me go and do pretty much whatever, whenever I want! We also have friends and family who support us and love us. It’s just this crazy ride that I never knew we’d be getting on and sitting in the driver’s seat is this beautiful, energetic, kind, helpful, funny, sneaky, crazy little girl. She tells me I’m pretty and thinks I’m amazing. She also peels her fingernails off and says “hi” to EVERY SINGLE PERSON we pass (half of the time asking loudly if that was a boy or a girl). There are so many days I feel defeated, inferior, not enough, but I try to imagine her as my lifelong bestie, my wingman, my partner in crime. We can’t be mad at the hand she was dealt, it won’t change anything. We can remind ourselves everyday, that she was handcrafted by God with a purpose.

 

There are new resources and groups on FASD popping up every day. If you need to be connected to answers and help, please feel free to reach out to me. I get it.