Friday, January 25, 2008


I was recently tagged by Llama Momma to list some favorite books. I have a hard time choosing favorites whether it's movies, songs or books (it's too hard to decide on just one!), but here is my list.

1. One book that changed your life:
The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson. This is the book that convinced me to attend seminary. I read a TON of fiction after graduating from college. I picked this book up shortly after it was published in 1999 and enjoyed it so much I thought, "Hey, if I enjoy reading about historical theology, maybe I should go back to school!" And that's exactly what I did. One result of attending seminary was that we decided to become Anglicans. And thus, my life was changed.

2. One book that you have read more than once:
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

3. One book you would want on a desert island:
Other than The Bible (NLT), I would like to have The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

4. Two books that made you laugh:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson (actually, any Calvin and Hobbes books make me laugh)

5. One book that made you cry:
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

6. One book you wish you'd written:
I have no idea. Sorry.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I'm not sure why I read this. The story was somewhat interesting, but a lot of the scenes were not edifying and I probably would have been better off never reading the book.

8. Two books you are currently reading:
The Attentive Life by Leighton Ford
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
Water from a Deep Well by Gerald L. Sittser

I think I'm supposed to tag some more people, so now it's your turn Becky and Lisa! Have fun ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting Ready

Elijah will celebrate his third birthday in April. He will also begin preschool. Last week we met with a representative from our school district to discuss the transition from Early Intervention to Early Childhood (preschool), from an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The meeting went well and I look forward to working with the school district to help Elijah reach his full potential in school.

When I talk with other families about their experiences creating an IEP with their school district, I sometimes get the sense that their relationship with the school district is somewhat adversarial. It almost seems as if the families expect the school district to give them a bad deal and to deny services that their children need. I am choosing to enter the process assuming that the school district wants to work with us to provide the services Elijah needs. I have to believe that the teachers, therapists and other professionals involved in early childhood education want what is best for all of the children in their care. We may not always agree about what specific services should be offered, but I hope to build a relationship of mutual trust and respect where we can discuss differing opinions without animosity.

I truly want what is best for Elijah and am prepared to advocate for services I think he really needs. At the same time, I think building a good relationship with the school district is important to this goal. If I am pleasant and willing to work with the district to coordinate Elijah's education, I am hopeful that the district will do whatever they can to return the favor. If I am angry and difficult to work with before we even have a disagreement, I can't imagine that they will be eager to work with me. Advocating for my child does not necessarily mean I have to put up a good fight. It does mean I have to know my child, including his strengths and weaknesses, and communicate those things effectively. It also means understanding the IEP process and our families legal rights and doing my best to form a good working relationship with those involved so we can work together to meet Elijah's needs.

The next few months should be interesting. Elijah will be assessed by a team of professionals who will probably focus on his weaknesses more than his strengths (they are, after all, determining if he needs extra help). Once they determine if Elijah is eligible for services, we will meet to discuss which services he needs, to create goals for his education and then to create specific plans on how to reach those goals. And at the end of it all I have to send Elijah off to preschool. I am sure preschool will be very good for him, but I'm glad I have another few months to get used to the idea. Sending Josiah to school for the first time was hard. This will be harder.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I not usually outspoken about my pro-life views, but once in a while I come across something that strikes me as worth commenting about. For example, I just came across an article that was published in June that reported:
Nice, France: Non-invasive screening of pregnant women with ultrasound early in pregnancy, combined with maternal blood analysis, has reduced the number of children born in Denmark with Down Syndrome by 50%, a scientist will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics today. Professor Karen Brøndum-Nielsen, of the Kennedy Institute, Glostrup, Denmark, will say that another benefit of the introduction of this procedure in her country was a drop in the number of invasive pre-natal diagnostic procedures from 11% to approx. 6% of pregnancies.
Noninvasive screening in early pregnancy reduces Down's births by 50 percent
What the article doesn't say is that the 50% reduction in the number of children born with Down Syndrome in Denmark must be due to abortion. I already know that a high percentage of babies who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome prior to birth are aborted (I have read percentages as high as 80% to 90%).

What disturbs me most about the above quote is the assumption that a reduction in children born with Down Syndrome is beneficial. I wonder if researchers would make the same claim about other diagnoses that are given after birth. For example, would we consider a 50% reduction in those who suffer from cancer to be beneficial if the only cure was to euthanize those who are diagnosed? I don't think so.

I wish we were less concerned about reducing the number of people with disabilities and more concerned about valuing all people and doing our best to provide people with the opportunity to live fulfilling lives. I wish we could focus less on what people are not able to do and more on what they can do. I wish all families who receive a pre-natal diagnosis had more opportunities to meet other families who have children with a similar diagnosis and to see that the things we imagine are often worse than the reality.

I think we are too quick to dismiss our own strength and our ability to handle situations we never thought we could. While I was pregnant with Elijah I did not think I could handle a child with a disability. When we received Elijah's pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome I kept saying, "This is not what I wanted. This is not what I planned for our lives!" I thought caring for a special-needs child would take all of the joy out of life and leave us exhausted and weary. I could not have been more wrong.

Elijah is two and half now and brings us much more joy than frustration. Yes, sometimes we get tired, but who doesn't get tired when they have toddlers?! Elijah's laugh lights up the room and and his hugs melt my heart. Caring for Elijah has been different than caring for his older brother, but it has not been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I'm so very glad Elijah is a part of our family and would never in a million years consider his death to be beneficial.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I turn 33 years old today. While this is not a particularly significant age, it has been a year of tens. I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary and my tenth anniversary of working at InterVarsity Press this year. So I've been thinking about how my life has changed in the past ten years.

Ten years ago, today, I was at my first InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Staff Conference, which Al and I left early to attend Les Miserables in Chicago. I had graduated from college and got married in May 1997 and was still newly married and very newly employed with InterVarsity Press as an Editorial Assistant. We were living in our first apartment with used furniture and a bunch of brand new dishes and such from the wedding. We only owned a few movies and they were all VHS. We regularly rented movies from Family Video and spent most of our evenings watching movies or reading books.

Now I am the Rights Manager at InterVarsity Press. I work fewer hours, but travel more often. Now we have two kids, one in Kindergarten and the other getting ready to start preschool. Our spoons are scratched up from getting stuck in the garbage disposal and our first set of dishes was so chipped we recently replaced them with something durable enough for our kids to drop without breaking or chipping them. We are living in our second townhouse and the furniture we bought eight years ago looks okay, but is showing wear and tear (We bought the furniture before we had kids. It's all white. Well, actually, it used to be all white). Our media cabinet is overflowing, mostly with Blue's Clues, Wiggles and Signing Time DVDs and videos. We check out the movies we want to watch from the library and spend our evenings watching movies or reading books (some things don't change!)

Within the past ten years I have earned a Master of Arts degree, endured two pregancies (one fairly easy and one somewhat difficult), attended too many funerals and learned a lot about copyright issues, Down Syndrome and worship. My prayer life has grown along with my concern for orphans and those who are treated unjustly and I have grown a little less greedy and little more patient (although God is still working on these issues within me).

All in all, I am incredibly thankful. I have a wonderful husband, two terrific kids, a loving and supportive extended family, good friends, a job I enjoy and excel at and a church we love. Life has taken some different turns than I expected and sometimes has been very difficult, but God has extended his grace and peace to me in the ordinary and extraordinary events of life. I look forward to seeing what the next ten years will bring and trust that God will be my strength and peace whatever twists and turns life may take.