Find Your Tribe

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:10 

Ryan traveled out of town over the weekend to help my mom move from Florida to Michigan. This out-of-town traveling became a regular occurrence when we lived in Tennessee as he went to Michigan to prep our land for a house build or worked on a flip house he had purchased in another city. Since our move to Michigan two years ago, he has not had to go out of town, and it’s been really nice.  When we lived in Tennessee, my anxiety would rise days before he had to leave, and in true coping style, after he left, I cleaned the house, made trips to Goodwill, played games with the kids, and worked late into the night.  Productivity is a trauma response (and my go-to for sure!), and this response was in full bloom whenever I was solo parenting.  

There is something about being the only one responsible for all 8 children and a son who was profoundly disabled that feels like a massive load to carry alone, and when we lived in TN we had very few people to rely on.  We were strangers, and we lived in a rural town.  I was a blunt midwesterner, and often people weren’t really sure what to make of me and my funny accent.  When Ryan left, I felt alone and like the whole world (or at least my little world) was on my shoulders.  

This was a big reason we moved back to my home state.  We were desperate for community and traded in the sunshine, sweet tea, and isolation for snow shovels, breweries, and our tribe.  

It was a good move.  

This past weekend was extremely busy, personally, as a single mom, and professionally.  I was the keynote speaker for an event and scheduled to share information about The Lucas Project at church on Sunday – both services – with the kids in tow – and Luke. A couple of my close friends knew I was feeling overwhelmed and offered to help in any way. In the past, I probably would have resorted to my pat answer, “I’m fine” but not this time. As the anxiety continued to rise, I accepted the help. I let people enter into the chaos with me, and it was a gift to feel loved by my community. 

We made the right move by trading in our sunshine experience for a tribal one – even a tribal one that resides in snow most of the time 😉 I feel seen and cared for here, and there is no amount of sunshine that can rival the feeling of true community.   

I know many special needs families find their communities online and yes, it’s a form of community, but nothing can replace real-life people stepping in and helping out when necessary.  If you don’t currently have this in your life (even if you’re not part of a special needs family!) you need to search for it as your life depends on it.  You might even have to move, but find it, please.  It might just be the thing that saves you.  

Just keep livin.



BUY NOW                                 BUY NOW                               BUY NOW

True Gold








Today was one of those days where I spun my wheels & didn’t accomplish much “work” but then I stopped & reflected.

I woke Luke up, got him ready & put him on the bus.

I did a load of laundry & put it away.

I prayed with my husband.

I reordered Luke’s meds.

I washed two big pots.

I had a phone review with Luke’s caseworker.

I made a deposit at the bank.

I showered!

And walked two miles.

And did 30 pushups.

(Before my shower)

And registered my teen for school next year.

I sent my husband a text asking about his day.

And helped Annabelle wash 24 eggs.

And made a batch of banana bread.

And ran home just in time to get Luke off the bus when his caregiver canceled at the last minute.

And filled out paperwork from his folder.

And set out another package of briefs for the following day.

And brought the kids to after school activities.

And helped Annabelle practice her violin.

And coordinated a playdate for my daughter.

And ordered a birthday present for a party for my son’s friend.

And made dinner (leftovers, but still…)

And ordered groceries.

And paid a bill.

And went on a date with my husband.

And kissed my youngest goodnight.

Upon reflection, I did not accomplish much official work, but I did accomplish a lot in my true ministry, the ministry of family & that’s where the true gold lies.

I accomplished the ministry of motherhood.

Just keep livin.



BUY NOW                                   BUY NOW                                  BUY NOW

The Backstory to “When he Outgrew Cute.”

A few years ago, after a particularly difficult day with 15-year-old Lucas, I sat down and wrote a poem.  A poem that would end up going viral and reaching over 7 million people.  A poem that people resonated with from around the world. A poem I called “When He Outgrew Cute.”  Many have asked for the backstory of this poem.  Here’s a synopsis of the day.  





Oct 5, 2020

The day the poem was written. 

The kids and I ventured to the park on this beautiful fall break day. Luke usually loves this idea and welcomes a mid-afternoon break.

I put his socks and shoes on, made his juice, and walked him to the van.

Once there, the kids excitedly exited the van, and I encouraged Luke to join –

“Come on Luke! Let’s go Whee!”  I coaxed.

He screamed bloody hell and reached up to grab my hair.

I ducked just in time.

I tried again as a crowd at the nearby picnic table shot me compassionate looks or avoided looking at me altogether.

“Luke, let’s walk. You love to walk, remember?”

He began circling the van, around and around and around he went like a tiger trapped in a cage, searching each window for a way in, screaming as he paced –


He began to brutally yank on door handles, windshield wipers, and his mother’s body – willing each and every person around him to comply or pay the price.

A nearby father quickly grabbed his young son’s hand and moved away from the disturbance – the power struggle between a mama and her 15-year-old child.

“LUCAS AARON,” I hissed, “Do not ruin this for everyone.”

He didn’t care and instead reached for my arm and pulled me down onto the hot asphalt where we sat, and he screamed and stimmed, inconsolable and only wanting what made sense to him and no one else.

Only wanting to return home to his favorite brown chair with his favorite blue-covered iPad.  Only that and nothing else.

I sat beside him; fighting back tears. I sat there and remembered my once sweet little boy who was now an aggressive teenager and not so sweet if truth be told. I contemplated his future; our future. I contemplated all of the “what if’s and what if nots”

And then I rose.

“Alright. You win”

I whispered and opened the van door, admitting defeat only ten minutes later.

I hollered to my other children who were running and playing and laughing –

“Sorry kids, Luke’s done. Time to go home. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

This is exhaustion.

This is despair.

This is anxiety.

This is isolation for special needs families.

10 minutes x 24 hours x every day with no end in sight.

And –

Tomorrow we rise again and face a new day, and we hope for a better outcome. We hope our children get to play for more than 10 minutes, and we hope for answers and maybe one tiny win.

We just keep livin’.

The poem in its entirety can be found pinned to the top of my Facebook Page.

To learn more about our story, check out my three books!


BUY NOW                               BUY NOW                                  BUY NOW

When Life Feels Tomblike








I was so disappointed to not make it to our church’s Easter service yesterday.

We bought the pretty clothes

And the shoes

And gave haircuts

And made Easter lunch plans at Grandma’s house

And all bathed the night before

And then we arrived home from vacation to find a very sick Luke, and my heart sank.

We haven’t worshipped at church in a few weeks because when you have a bunch of kids, it seems like they’re always bringing home some new germ.

And because it seems like “special needs” always manages to exclude us somehow and have the final say.

And if I’m being honest, because I still had the sniffles as well.

I felt starved for my church community & my faith felt parched for a fresh anointing & I just KNEW that our Easter service was what my weary soul needed.

And as I was sulking because we would miss church yet again, I heard a still small voice whisper –


I am here in the disappointment.

I am here in your holy obedience.

I am here in the special needs.

I am here in the midst of germs.

I am here in the messy mundane.

I am here in your ministry of motherhood.

These offerings of care and mothering and laying down your desires are evidence of my broken body and shed blood  & because you reside in the broken spaces with me, you will also reign in heavenly spaces beside me.

Oh mama, the resurrection always arrives after faithful obedience.

Special needs might feel tomblike when we isolate at home, exhausted, and managing all the things behind closed doors.

Motherhood might feel tomblike as we humbly obey and serve those who can not care for themselves.

Life might feel tomblike as we await a resurrection.

But stay faithful…

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me!

Or on me or on you because –


Hallelujah & Amen!

Just keep livin.

If you enjoyed this and want to read more, check out my books, Sunlight Burning at MidnightBlended with Grit & Grace, and  Lovin with Grit & Grace.


Lovin' With Grit and Grace Book Cover

Lovin' with Grit and Grace