Welcome!

Hi! I’m so glad you stopped by. If this is your first visit, you can learn more about me by reading the Welcome Start Here page. I hope you’ll come on in, grab a cup of coffee, and kick back for a while. This is just my little place on the web where I like to share my stories and hear yours, too. And we all have our stories! Some days it’s an adventure, some days a drama, and a lot of days feel like a slapstick comedy. No matter the day and no matter our stories, I believe we’re meant to share them to encourage one another. Wherever we might be in our story, we can’t give up. We never know what’s ahead for us around the next bend. We just have to keep turning the page.

So You’re Thinking Your Kid Might Have Autism?

so-youre-thinking-your-kid-might-have-3

So you’re thinking your kid might have autism?

Okay, mama.

Deep breath.

It can be overwhelming, I know. Seven years ago, I was right where you are now.

At first, I thought it was an adjustment to his new baby sister. Then, I thought maybe it was a lack of experience, so we enrolled him in a part-time preschool class. It only took two days for his teacher to see what I couldn’t.

I will never forget that conversation. His sweet teacher was loving and gracious and could not have handled it better. But still. My stomach sank to my toes. For the entire ride home, every time I glanced in the rearview mirror at his sweet three-year-old face, the tears came hot and fast.

We wrestled with the idea of an official evaluation. We resisted the idea of a “label.” We didn’t want this to change our kid.

But here’s the thing, mama, an autism diagnosis is not the end of the road. It’s just the beginning of a new path.

Actually, it’s not even a new path at all. It’s just a signpost for the path you are already on.

Because a diagnosis cannot and will not change your child. Your kiddo is still the same awesome kid, fearfully and wonderfully made. The only thing that changes is your filter…

I’d love for you to continue reading this post and join the conversation at Atlanta Area Moms Blog. Click here: So You’re Wondering if Your Kid Might Have Autism? Share it with a mom (or dad) you know who might be going through the evaluation and/or diagnosis process. Let them know they are not alone! 

When God Writes Your Story

light-forest-trees-morning.jpgThe bickering from the backseat couldn’t dampen my good mood. We were setting off on our one and only family vacation for the year, taking our six- and three-year-old kids on a weeklong camping trip. It wasn’t quite the Disney cruise I’d dreamed of, but we had a good tent, a great campground, and my stubborn determination to make it an Instagram-worthy vacation.

Adventure awaited!

And waited. After eight long hours of driving through Georgia, we finally made it to the cool mountain air. Except the air wasn’t cool at all. It was 109 degrees. The record-breaking heat wave that drove me to walk my young children into the beer cooler at the gas station was relentless.

No matter! There was a beautiful mountain stream to splash in and a shady barnyard to explore. The kids had a blast, and I got some great Facebook documentation of our potential as future farmers. We held bunnies, chased chickens, petted horses and goats, and even milked a cow! Our first day at camp was exactly as I’d envisioned. It was definitely hot, but we were pushing through. I planned to end the day with the perfect night: showers, s’mores, and “Kumbaya” around the campfire.

We could smell the bathhouse before we even got close. An apologetic sign informed us a water main had broken and there would be no running water for two days while it was being fixed.

Two days of no flushing and no showers for people living outside in a massive heat wave. Throw in some barnyard animals for flavor, and it was a recipe for a smelly disaster…

Seems like a slapstick comedy? Find out what happened next! (Spoiler: a bear is involved.) God used this trip to teach me some valuable lessons and give our family some lifelong memories that we will cherish forever. Click through to The Glorious Table to read the rest of the story:
http://theglorioustable.com/2016/08/when-god-writes-your-story/

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Motherhood

10 things in 10 years motherhood

My first baby just had his tenth birthday. He was just born five minutes ago. And then I blinked. I can definitely testify to the truth of that old saying: “The days are long but the years are short.” I’m no expert, but I have learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Here are ten things I’ve learned in ten years of motherhood.

  1. Expect the unexpected.
    From minute one, motherhood has been full of surprises. Our firstborn was named and the room decorated in various shades of pink just as soon as we left our gender-revealing ultrasound. The kid was five minutes old before someone thought to tell us that she was a he. Our poor ultrasound tech must have had an off day. Oops.
  1. Haters gonna hate.
    No matter what we choose for our children, there will be plenty of people who passionately disagree with us. Breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, free-range or Pop-Tarts. I’m still somewhat shocked at how freely people will shame a mom for her choices. After ten years, my skin has finally thickened up and I’ve learned to own my decisions.
  1. Coffee and wine.
    The only two things I can think of that I get to enjoy on my own without sharing with my kids. They don’t even ask anymore. Cheers!
  1. This, too, shall pass.
    Whether it’s teething, potty training, or the crazy drama of threenagers, there are seasons of motherhood. I thought I would never leave the house without packing for a three-day safari. And then suddenly, I was carrying a cute purse again. (Would someone please occasionally remind me of my own words because we started over with a new baby last year. Ahem. See #1. Also, #3.)
  1. Choose Laughter.
    When they draw whiskers on their faces in permanent marker the day before family portraits. When I drop the diaper and the contents fall out in front of a crowd. When I’m carrying a screaming kid half my size all the way through Target. These are the moments that could easily send me into a mommy meltdown. It took some practice, but I learned to laugh. Especially when I realized these are the stories I’ll get to tell at their rehearsal dinners…

To read the remainder of this post and join the conversation by sharing your lessons and tips, please click through to visit Atlanta Area Moms Blog. While you’re there, check out some of the other great posts by some amazing mamas!
http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/10-things-ive-learned-10-years-motherhood/

And Then I Blinked: 10 Years with Caleb

I was a week past my due date. It was mid-June in Florida. My ankles and feet could have matched a sumo wrestler whose dinner was a little too salty.

It was a full moon.

There was a tropical storm coming.

And yet this baby girl was in no hurry.

I walked. I ate the magic eggplant parmesan. I walked some more. I tried a little glass of wine and a bubble bath. I walked again.

I did all I could to get things started.

Everything was ready. As soon as we left our gender-revealing ultrasound, we’d named her and decorated her room.

We were ready! For labor, for the baby, for parenthood.

23 hours of induced labor. Three hours of pushing. All four pages of my birth plan had gone out the window at about hour seven.

The baby was five minutes old before someone mentioned that she was a he. Oops. Big, big ultrasound oops.

From that moment on, he’s been surprising us.

caleb 10 years jellyfish
When he was 18 months old, he could point out about half the United States on a map. His favorite shape was an octagon. He was absolutely fascinated by windmills.

Then he discovered trains.

Yes, there was the token Thomas the Tank here and there. When someone would ask him about his favorite engine, they would expect a short answer about Edward or Percy or maybe even Chuggington. What they got was 15 minutes of dialogue about the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 and how it compares to the Union Pacific 4-6-6-4.

caleb 10 years lake
Thomas episodes were quickly replaced by hours-long documentaries about Amtrak’s Sunset Limited or The Era of Steam. He could hold his own in conversations with the old pros at the Model Railroad Show.

When he was four years old, he became interested in the human body and decided he was going to learn all about it. So he did. He pored over anatomy books. When someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d answer, “A train engineer for my job and a pulmonologist as my hobby.”

caleb 10 years beach
This kid.

He is one in a million. He has changed my life and molded me into the person I am now and will continue to change me as we each grow.

I became a mama when he was born. I became an autism research professional when he was two. I became an advocate when he was three. I became the proverbial firewalker when he was four.

There have been some long, hard days. When his little body just could not handle the barrage of sensory input. When the world was overwhelming. When every transition was so very hard.

And yet.

This kid.

He has pushed through. He has shown up. He has kept trying.

He has overcome so much in his ten years.

He has taught me more about love, courage, and perseverance than I even knew there was to learn.

I could have never imagined the crazy ride parenthood would take us on when we were waiting and waiting for him to get here.

I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

He was so worth the wait.

caleb 10 years beach 2

Can We, the Church, Please Get It Together?

I have no words for the news this morning.

I feel like the world is quickly running out of words for days like this when dawn breaks yet again on a new depth of sorrow.

Our souls are weary. Our hearts are heavy.

How do we explain this to our children?

How do we look into their sweet faces and explain that someone had such incomprehensible hatred for their fellow human beings?

I just don’t know, y’all.

I’m a peacemaker. That’s probably code for people-pleaser. I can’t stand the idea of someone being mad at me and I feel sick when I have hurt feelings or offended someone.

Because of that, I have remained publicly silent on a number of issues in the past. Under the assumption that someone else will always say it more eloquently, I’ve let others speak out. And while I nod along and silently wave my pompoms from the sidelines, I’m content to let them take the heat for it. I’ve kept my head down.

I’m done with all that.

So, Church?

Listen up, please.

We need to get it together.

When we come together now and offer prayers for the victims of this shooting, but have been unwilling to acknowledge our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community except to shame and ridicule, we are not taken seriously.

Can you blame them?

How can we be so strong in our pro-life conversations and then tell a grieving community “they reap what they sow,” belittling every ounce of humanity they have?

Could times like these point out our hypocrisy?

Our brothers and sisters are hurting. And have been hurting for quite some time. Sadly, we who are to be loving our neighbors as ourselves, are responsible for some of the pain.

We’d rather point fingers, shout about bathrooms, or carry picket signs.

Look, we can disagree on every issue under the sun. But we are called–commanded–to love.  Tweet: Look, we can disagree on every issue under the sun. But we are called--commanded--to love. http://bit.ly/1tkWfIb via @ashleydpooser

We’re talking LOVE love.commanded to love 2

Radical love.

Without limits.

Extreme love.

Without qualifiers.

Jesus love.

 

We, as the church, need to pause and reflect.

Are we showing Christ to a hurting world with our chronic indignation? With our outrage about bathrooms and holiday coffee cups?

We have much work to do.

Because love wins in the end. We already know that. So let’s get it together. Let’s enjoy being on the winning team.

Please. Let’s be extra kind today. And show love.

Love neighbors. Love strangers. Love the guy who cut you off in traffic.

Just. Love. Period.

To all my LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors: I love you. I see your pain. My heart hurts with you. I stand with you. I love you all.

And the idea that that statement could be deemed as controversial is heartbreaking.

 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31, NIV

 

5 Ways Moms Are Total Ninjas

5 ways moms are total ninjas

To celebrate the beginning of summer, I took my kids to Family Night at our favorite chicken restaurant. The place was absolutely packed with kids hyped up on the promise of freedom. The play area looked like a giant ant bed that had just been kicked over and sounded like the 10th circle of hell that Dante could never have imagined in his worst nightmares.

Let’s just say it was a long night.

Once we got home, after I finally got the kids in bed, I sat on the couch and held my breath. I didn’t want to do anything to wake them up. I knew if I so much as twitched, they’d wake up. A few minutes later, I needed to walk past their bedrooms to check the laundry. Halfway there, I realized if anyone happened to see me, they would worry about me. Each step took all kinds of planning and I was hopping all over the hallway, avoiding those squeaky spots.

And that’s when it hit me. Moms are total ninjas. Need more proof?  Read on…

 

To read more about the ways moms are total ninjas (including stealth, speed, endurance, unagi, and wisdom), please visit Atlanta Area Moms Blog:
http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/moms-a-ninja/.

13173028_10103460822910070_3458850208441098992_o

I’m with Scary Mommy Today!

scary-mommy-badge

I am so excited to have a post featured on Scary Mommy today. I’ve been writing for about six years and it’s only been in the last six months that I’ve been brave enough to submit posts to other websites. I absolutely love to write but I don’t think I’ll ever feel like a writer. You can find my stories on The Mighty, The Huffington Post, The Glorious Table and the upcoming Atlanta Area Moms Blog (launching next week). I still can’t believe these fabulous editors agreed to share my words, but I am not going to argue with them!

If you made your way here from Scary Mommy, I’d love to get to know you better. Here are a few random facts about me and I’d love for you to share a random fact about you!

  1. The very first time I saw my husband from across the room, I told my roommate that I was going to marry him and have his babies. (Of course, she’ll tell you I also said the same thing about Ben Affleck after seeing Armageddon. Whatever.)
  2. All three of our children were born on minor holidays. We have birthdays on Flag Day, Groundhog Day, and May Day.
  3. I’ve never seen a single Star Wars movie. Not because of any particular reason. I just never had the chance and I keep forgetting to fix that.
  4. The ultrasound tech was wrong about our first baby. We planned everything for a girl and it wasn’t until the poor kid was five minutes old that someone finally got tired of hearing, “She’s here!” and yelled at us, “This is NOT a girl!” The sweet nurses brought him back from the nursery dressed in a cute, manly outfit they’d bought from the gift shop. They most likely saved him from a lifetime of being teased by his sisters for his pretty pink butterfly outfit.
  5. I’m terrified of airplanes and snakes. So Snakes on a Plane kinda felt like a personal attack and I was pretty mad at whoever came up with that movie. I have yet to torture myself by watching it.

If you’re interested in reading more of my posts, here are a few of my favorites to get you started:

  • How We Told Our Son About His Autism was featured on The Mighty, The Huffington Post, and Hello, Dearest. It’s the story of how a moment that I had kinda dreaded turned out to be one of my very favorite life moments.
  • Community Is the Best Gift We Can Give Ourselves was featured on The Huffington Post. I am passionate about building community and encouraging women. In this post, I share about my experience with MOPS International and how I almost refused to go back but am so glad I did.
  • Roller Coaster is the story of one of the biggest tests of faith I’ve ever had in my life. It started with two very unexpected little pink lines and a crushing ER visit. There was week of grief and then outrageous hope. Spoiler: there’s a happy ending.
  • The Biggest Lie Women Believe was the most read post of last year. Do you ever feel like you’re not enough? You’re definitely not alone! What would our lives look like if we stopped believing we didn’t measure up?

To learn more about our wild bunch, you can visit the About Ashley page. I’d also love to connect with you on social media. You can click on these links and find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please come back soon!