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It Is Well With My Soul.

Over the past year I’ve witnessed the demise of many leaders; often pinnacles of faith who have fallen from grace, men and women who most assuredly began their careers with the noblest of intentions. Individuals who, through the passage of time, became enamored with self and blinded by fame & fortune; who lost perspective on their place within humanity because of a choice to turn from that still small voice.

I believe we each have the innate potential to fall far from grace; to perceive ourselves as better than we ought to. I know I do. Under different circumstances I could really embrace how special I think I am, hold on tightly to the perception that I’ve gotten this life thing figured out real good, lean into pride and her enticing offers & allow her to nibble away at my soul as she has with others who have climbed the ladder of success.

I think about all of this as I prepare to release a book and a documentary into the world.

Two creations that could potentially cast a pretty bright light on my life.

Perhaps.

I’m a first born, “me do it” Enneagram one who thrives on accomplishments and making a difference & these attributes are typically celebrated by society with lots of accolades and praise, & yes, this recognition is nice. I am human. It’s nice to be acknowledged for your achievements & even nicer still to have people perceive you as a good person; a person making positive strides in the steps of humanity; a respectful person with character. Of course it’s nice.

I’ve worked diligently & finished projects which might push me a little bit out of the shadows of anonymity & possibly into a world for which I am unprepared & yet –

I will continue to rise every morning
And diaper my 16 year old son
(which is as humility building as it gets some days)
And help him get dressed
And pour his juice into a sippy cup
And put socks upon his feet
And lace up his sneakers
And assist him to the car
And gently close the door but not until he says in his sweet sing song way –
“Bye! Have a good day!”
And I turn and walk away
With a smile on my face.
This is our routine
Me and my Luke
Every single day.

These monotonous actions serve as a reminder as they did with the apostle Paul – a prickly thorn that breathes humility into my swelling soul & deflates any pride that may try to sneak in; crushing it in an instant as my boy demands yet another round of –

“Paddy cake, paddy cake, bakers man, bake me a cake as fast as you can.”

And as his smile reaches for the stars, I lean into the understanding that he and I are created in the image of our Maker, one not better than the other, simply different with unique purposes & gifts, & the only attribute that makes us great is dutifully reacting in joyful obedience to the hard & holy tasks we’ve been called to accomplish.

Each staying faithful to the race we must run.

This uncomfortable road, this thorn of special needs & autism, this aching joy which serves as a gift – a gift that calls me to daily lay down my life & continuously keeps my head from ballooning & serves as a constant jab reminding me of who I am and who I am not by stripping away any pretenses. This gift which prepares a table before me in the presence of fame & fortune & pride; where Luke & I dine with the Shepherd feasting on humility & special needs & gulping down goblets of grace.

It is well with my soul.
It is well with Luke’s soul.
And that is enough.

Just keep livin

To My Son, I’m Sorry.

To my son with profound autism,

I’m sorry I didn’t try medication sooner.

I’m sorry that I was more concerned with side effects than possibilities.

I’m sorry you lived in an anxious mess of a mind for years because of my pride.

I’m sorry I assumed the worst and how it would affect you.

I’m sorry I hindered your abilities because of my inability to broaden my horizons.

I’m sorry I limited your communication when medication would have clarified your needs.

I’m sorry I restricted you from your siblings because the aggression, without meds, made you dangerous.

I’m sorry I sighed in resignation and helplessness over the thought of raising you forever when all you needed was a little help.

I’m sorry it took a global pandemic and a total shut down of the world as we knew it to set aside my pride & request something, anything, out of desperation.

I’m sorry for the years of progress I may have stolen from you because I was sure that medication would do more harm than good.

Son, I’m not suggesting that medication is always the answer or even your long term solution, but it has enabled your best life right here, right now & for that, I’m thankful.

From this day forward, I vow to be more open minded. I vow to continue learning & growing & expanding my ability to consider other possibilities & I vow to assume the best. I vow to never stop fighting for you.

I love you Lucas Aaron.

Mom ❤️

This was a difficult post to write & even more difficult to put out into the world, but I know there is a caregiver somewhere who needs to read these words. They need permission to look at options.

It’s Time To Go Home.

I’m a big believer in the number 7. Back in December 2019, when Luke was in ICU for a month I wrote –

“This morning, the 27th day of December, marks the 7th time I’ve sat in a room surrounded by soothing pastel paintings as I wait for news while a surgeon slices through a loved one’s head. In a few days we’ll flip our calendars to 2020 and that’ll mark seven years of our family living in Tennessee. Seven and Surrender. A word and a number now claim my thoughts.”

And each of these concepts – Seven and Surrender – have been continuous reverberations since that day in late December. I knew when we flipped the calendar to 2020 that something was about to change and possibly come to fruition although I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going to look like at the time.

In Biblical history, the number 7 is drenched in meaning and represented completion, rest, and victory. The completion of creation which culminated in rest on the 7th day, every 7th year was set aside for God’s chosen people as a year of rest and jubilee, and Joshua’s march around Jericho which resulted in victory on the 7th day.

On that gut wrenching day in late December when I sent my son off for brain surgery yet again, I chose to surrender to a will higher than my own and 2020 did unravel – for sure! – into a complete ridiculous reality in many ways: Ryan’s surgery, my broken foot, quarantined with 8 children, loss of income and lots of despair and questions, but it also brought blessings: a book deal, a podcast, a documentary project, healing for Ryan and Luke, the sale of two houses; a breakthrough with Luke’s communication, and clarity over what is important for us in life, particularly the importance of being immersed within the community of friends and family. Last summer, our 7th year in Tennessee, that clarity resulted in a decision to purchase land and build a house in Michigan. Yes, we are moving back to my home town.

Our hearts have been slowly accepting this move for over a year and included whispers of “Should we? Could we?” And after Luke’s (and then Ryan’s) surgeries, we knew that “Yes, we had to.” We had to move back home for resources and support. We could no longer do this immensely chaotic and exhausting life on our own, and if we attempted to, it might destroy us. We needed help. We need options when something goes off kilter, we need people to surround us when the unexpected occurs, and this became crystal clear after months of rehabilitation for Luke and Ryan.

We purchased land in July, the 7th month of 2020, and we are going home to build a beautiful accessible ranch for our family with a big sensory room for Luke and the kids; a home with a bike path straight to the Lake – Lake Michigan! – right outside our front door; a bike path that will bring immense enjoyment with Luke’s new accessible bike trailer; a path that leads to a playground less than a mile away. It’s time to stop putting our faith in the government for resources and time to put our faith in those who know and love us well. It’s time to rejoin the feast of community.

Yes, this decision was made largely with Luke in mind as Tennessee (and the South overall) lacks in resources as children like him age, and Michigan offers more possibilities including year round school until he’s 26 years old. That’s huge! Summers without any structure or anyone who will help with him have becoming overwhelmingly exhausting. We’ve also had the opportunity to tour a residential facility we would be very open to considering in the future; a beautiful place brimming with loving, Godly people who serve the least of these with their whole hearts. We are preparing for a future where our children have families of their own, and we want to have a plan in place to provide the time and energy needed for all our kid’s lives. This has been a heart wrenching decision, but we feel an immense peace that it is time. Our years in Tennessee were needed to bring our newly blended family together, a beautiful time away from distractions that melded us together which you will get to read about in my book Blended with Grit and Grace releasing this June, but now it’s time to say goodbye. It’s time to go home.

And as always, we continue to surrender – not really knowing what the future has in store but having faith that He will provide. When the cloud moves, we move. Moment by moment and step by step – walking in obedience into what he has next for the Ronne family in this 43rd year of life (4+3 = 7) and Luke’s 16th year (1+6=7). I surrender, and I believe that the next 7 years are going to be a time of rest and victory.

And, of course, I’ll document our progress which has already had its share of joys and trials as will life until the day I die, I suppose. Ryan and I usually travel to Mexico in January or February, and this year we went to Michigan where we spent the week clearing our property. Mexico, Michigan, pretty similar, right? The tentative plan includes a move this summer and living in a rental property while our house is being built. Crazy? A little, but a good crazy. It feels right. And it’s going to be quite the journey.

Stay tuned.

Just keep livin.

Radical Obedience Leads to Grace

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act accordingly to his good purpose. Philippians 2: 12-13

What does it mean to work out our salvation?

What determines faith? Or Godliness? A man or woman wholeheartedly committed to the Lord? What is the “it” factor that David possessed, a man after God’s own heart? Or Enoch, who “walked with God and then was no more?” Or Mary—supernaturally impregnated, holding the Messiah within her womb? Or Noah, who was credited with blamelessness?

The more I meditate on the actions of these heroes of faith, the more I see how everything is connected to obedience; actions intertwined with movement forward, and obedience becomes the barometer of faithfulness and even surpasses character flaws, personality quirks, and bad choices.

And this obedience is often required in the face of a seemingly ridiculous request, a request that the rest of the world might find unbelievable and absurd, a request that quite likely will require brash courage and thick skin because the naysayers will have some nay-saying for sure.

Radical obedience will often look like radical insanity; the kind of obedience that was displayed by these folks who also struggled with flaws, personality quirks, and sometimes really questionable choices such as:

David—obeyed and killed Goliath (but struggled with lying, murder, and adultery)

Joseph—obeyed and married a pregnant virgin (but grumbled about it)

Noah—obeyed and built a huge boat (and struggled with drunkenness and incest)

Rahab—obeyed and helped the spies (and made her living as a prostitute)

Ruth—obeyed and followed her mother-in-law to a foreign land (and probably was not as innocent with Boaz as we’d like to think)

Samson—obeyed and killed the Philistines (where do we start with this guy? Proud, brash, womanizer)

Esther—obeyed and saved her people (which probably had to do win the King’s favor through more than just words)

Abraham—obeyed when the Lord called him to sacrifice his son (but was also a liar)

Jesus Christ—obeyed and went to the cross (and also liked a good party and hung out with questionable folks).

Contrast these characters with a few who didn’t obey and you get…

Adam and Eve—kicked out of the garden

Moses—couldn’t enter the Promised Land

Lot’s wife—turned into stone

All the people who laughed at Noah—drowned

Jonah—eaten by a whale.

I’ve been asked to obey seemingly ridiculous requests a time or two: carry a terminal baby, and then raise him, by laying down my desire for easy every single day for 16+ years, and obey what I’ve been called to do: care for the least of these, a child who cannot care for one single need without assistance. I obeyed and married a widower less than a year after burying my husband; a man with 3 young children. I obeyed and became a voice for caregivers, and I’ve told my story—including the really hard parts, in spite of a spirit of fear. I obeyed and started a non-profit, even though it was (and is!) a ton of volunteer work.

I’ve been ridiculed, mocked, & questioned many times. Heck, I’ve questioned myself a time or two. My resolve has wavered but not faltered, and there’s been a protection of grace which I believe arises out of obedience: obedience in spite of my stubbornness, mouthiness, know-it-all attitude, grumbling and, at times, bad choices.

Sometimes I obey joyfully, and sometimes I do not. Sometimes I make good choices, and sometimes I do not. Sometimes I obey immediately and sometimes it takes weeks (or months), but I do believe that my heart is measured not by my human reactions and tendencies, but instead by the level of obedience I extend to the difficult calls that have been placed on my life.

Every action is either obedience towards His perfect will, or disobedience.

And the working out part?

That’s where (hopefully) the character flaws and personality quirks and bad choices start to iron out. Instead of grumbling, I zip it. Instead of whining and complaining, I speak kindly. Instead of zoning out on Facebook, I take Luke for a walk. Choice by choice, moment by moment, obedience towards His ultimate purpose and plan.

Just Keep Livin

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Sunlight Burning at Midnight

Sunlight Burning at Midnight