Life in a Flash » capturing life one moment at a time.

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  • HELLO.

    I'm Jenn. I'm a full time mom to five. I love photography, Africa, crafts, thrifting, classical music, and this crazy good life God has given me. I spend my days dreaming up decorating solutions while picking Goldfish crackers out of my hair. I like my camera , guacamole, and old stuff. We've got three home grown littles and two who came to us through the miracle of adoption. We are loud and busy. I take lots of photos because I'm fully aware that life happens in a flash...and I don't want to miss it.

  • let’s be friends.

diagnosis. again.

Sometimes I look at my sweet little boy and wonder why he has so many things stacked up in front of him.  Why does he have to endure so many obstacles when other kids get to run carefree?  Why did God give him a lifetime worth of hardships to wade through?  What’s His purpose?  And while I can’t answer those questions…I can say with surety…God has a plan.

I don’t know if you’ve ever “known” something about your child that wasn’t yet confirmed.  But we’ve been going off of some suspicions with Danny for the past year.  We first started noticing some different behaviors that seemed new and somewhat odd last summer.  We did our best to curb the behaviors and work through them as a family.  When we reached the end of our ability, we reached out for help with a behavioral therapist.   And when things continued to worsen…we decided that we could no longer ignore the signs.

I’ve always told others that I’m not really a fan of labeling kids.  Kids are different…each one of them.  And they have quirks, and weird behaviors, likes and dislikes, and challenges…every last one of them.  When we diagnosed Danny with the Periventricular Leukomalacia (brain damage) and Cerebral Palsy that was more than enough diagnosis for one little boy.  So, we quickly made the decision that we would not seek out any other diagnosis.  All of his behaviors could easily be explained with those fancy diagnostic terms.  But we have begun to realize that labels aren’t the end of the world.  And sometimes identifying a problem opens the door for life-giving help.

That’s the door we decided to open a few months ago when we made the appointments to have Danny screened for autism.

We knew the diagnosis before the psychologist seated us on her red microfiber couch.  My palms were already sweating and I was scanning her face for clues that would confirm my suspicions…knowing all along that we already had our answer.  Nothing had changed.  Everything had changed.  She talked to us about his strengths and weaknesses.  She told us everything we already knew and had seen and added to our list of growing concerns.  She asked us to fill out more forms and to come back for more help.  And then we left and walked out into the drizzling rain and stared at each other for a minute in disbelief and knowing all wrapped up in one.

Danny is the same amazing overcomer today that he was yesterday.  He hasn’t changed.  And neither has God.

I don’t know where we will go from here.  So I guess we will just sit back and watch God do His thing….waiting in anticipation for the way He chooses to bring himself glory through the life of our little boy.

We would so appreciate prayers as we navigate research and new therapies and adjustments at home to help our sweet boy!

{tuckered out after a long, stressful day}

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I wouldn’t trade one moment of being “mommy” to this boy.  He has taught me so much about God’s grace, compassion, and enduring love.   And I truly believe that God gave him some special gifts as well…a contagious smile and personality that lures people into his story and life.  We are watching and waiting too…to see what God has planned for this little one!

April 3, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Ta - Precious Danny! Praying in Colorado

April 3, 2014 - 10:47 pm

Paula Spears - He’s such a wonderful little boy…you will all make it together. Praying for you.

April 4, 2014 - 8:20 am

lisa - What a beautiful post. God is an Amazing God and He does have a special plan for that little guy–along with your whole family. Jenn, continue to see God through this all and know that you are never alone. You are such an inspiration to everyone around you. Keep smiling and loving that family. We are praying for peace, comfort, and strength.

April 4, 2014 - 9:26 am

Angie Lunetta - I just need to say that every time I read your blog, I am awed by your faith. To deal with such a magnitude of struggles with grace and even praise. I admire you as a mother even though I am not even around to see it. Thank you for being an inspiration to me.

April 4, 2014 - 9:11 pm

Amy - Danny is blessed to have you as his Mom. I worked as an ABA therapist in college. When I took some time off from my teaching career, I worked as an early interventionist and worked with families as they received the autism diagnosis. I can not imagine how heartbreaking it is to hear but Danny has not changed because of the label. He is thriving and will continue to with your support and God’s. I am praying for him (and your family) and know that God does indeed have a plan.
Thank you so much for your blog! I have followed you for 2 years and have so enjoyed seeing your family grow and blossom.

April 6, 2014 - 12:25 am

Lessie Cooper - He is such a bright spot in so many lives… we love you guys.

April 6, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Joy Lenz - I love your attitude about Danny and your comment that HE has not changed. I spent part of the weekend with your sister and I told her that I have been folowing your family and praying for you, especially for Danny, for years. My prayers will continue!

April 11, 2014 - 10:34 pm

Tara - He’s precious! Praying for him and your family, we have many diagnosis over here

April 16, 2014 - 7:51 am

Jane - I thought I left a comment on here the other day, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. I don’t know you Jenn, but I have read your blog for many years and have loved watching your children grow and the adventures your family has gone on together.

I have kept coming back to this post and when I read the first line of this post, I was struck today by a thought.

It was an image of God stacking up good things, like a tower of kids wooden blocks, n Danny’s corner – God himself, his family, the wonderful care he has access to etc etc. I know that this doesn’t ‘balance’ out the obstacles, but it was as though it was a reminder that God is fully aware of all of these obstacles and that he is right there with Danny and with you as he faces them all. AND that he has stacked up a whole bunch of things to counteract and to enable him to face and overcome these obstacles.

Gosh I hope this isn’t weird, I’ve just realised that it’s a strange message to send to someone I don’t even know!

goodbye ugly.

I didn’t mean to take weeks off from blogging.  But we have hit the three week mark with the HSP and it has been brutal.  Thank you to the friends and family that have called, texted, brought meals, sent cards, etc.  Each gesture was appreciated!!  We are not seeing consistent healing yet but are hopeful that is will come in the next few weeks!

The other thing that has been keeping us very busy is the demolishing of our master bathroom.  Hurray!  Hurrah!

I have waited 2 1/2 years to rip out every ugly feature of that room.  It was hideous the day we moved in but wasn’t a priority as we are typically the only people who see it.  But I had had enough with the nasty carpet (oh yes they did!) and disco gold finishes.  The singed forest fire wallpaper was making me cross eyed, we had no hot water in the sink, the toilet wouldn’t flush, and the shower was cracked.  It was time.  Ok…it was past time!

But first…let’s go on a tour of the ugly, shall we?

This was the view as you entered the room from a set of dingy oak french doors.   Should we start with the stained and filthy carpet?  Or maybe the giant, behemoth bathtub?  I feel the need to mention here that taking a bath in a tub with jets that the previous owners did “who knows what” in for 25 years is enough to send my germaphobe self right over to the dark side.  Or maybe you are digging the awesome gold and acrylic tub faucet?  The gold wrapped shower?  The gold flowery lights? Maybe the sinks with no finish or the rusted out faucets?

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It wasn’t ALL bad.  There were a few salvageable items.  We kept the nice, large solid oak vanity.  With a fresh coat of paint it will be easy to update (and matches the rest of the cabinetry in our house).  We are keeping the mirror as well.  And a little bit of the drywall.  The rest…GOODBYE!

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The room has always been really dark even with a nice, LARGE window.  And I stopped cleaning it about 4 months ago because I couldn’t even tell the difference.  Eww.

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I should probably mention here that the above photos were taken AFTER the removal of THE BEST feature of the room!  The wallpaper!  I looked at that forest fire for over 2 years.  And then one day Super Sam woke up puking and I had had enough.  While he puked…we pulled paper.  And by the end of the weekend we had at least one ugly feature removed from the room!

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Every piece in the bathroom had an almond finish…which over time just looks dingy.  So they had to go.  They had a nice, long life…but it was the end of the road!

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Some of the extra pretty details…

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Peeling laminate (the original bathroom had country blue walls and mauve counter tops before the forest fire renovation!)

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Pinkish orange tiles

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I’m gonna lose my dinner…

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So after several years of planning and waiting…we finally had the money to just LET IT GO!  Woohoo!  (switching over to phonography from this point forward)

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We got busy busting stuff up.  First we ripped out the bathtub throne.  That bad boy was a BEAST!  You’ve got to love it when you live next door to the trash company owners and they haul it away from the curb for you for $5.00!    Next out…the shower and the carpet!

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Once we got all of the flooring out of the way we could make some decisions about new tile and fixtures!  (there’s a sneak peek at our new bathtub!)

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I got busy collecting samples and trying to decide what direction to take the room.  I really wanted something clean and classic but a little fun.

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We decided to hire out the tile work after a great recommendation from a friend.  That saved us several weeks worth of work!

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At this point we have all of the tile work complete (the floors need a very good scrubbing here).

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This weekend we installed all of the bead board, ripped out the sinks and counter tops, painted the window, and installed the shower fixtures.  Next week we will install the new counter top and then get busy painting, painting, painting (white bead board, greyish/blue walls, white vanity, white trim).

I’m hoping we will be able to wrap up the project in the next few weeks!  I can’t wait to take a shower in my new clean space!

If you play over on Instagram…follow along…I’ve been using #goodbyeugly to document our progress!

on 11 months home.

We celebrated Sunshine’s year anniversary of coming home this weekend…so I really ought to backtrack and work in her 11 month post before I forget!

Eleven months.  Eleven things our girl has taught us in almost a year.

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1.  There is always a party waiting to happen if you look closely enough.

2.  Sometimes laughing hysterically will cure your biggest problems.

3.  Sleeping is done best with the blankets completely over your head.

4.  African American girl hair is a big deal.

5.  Even if school is hard…it’s a fun place to be if you have friends.

6.  The ability to dance and “shake your thing” is something with which you are born.

7.  It is hard work to learn the intricacies of another language (and it’s best to laugh hard when you get mixed up).

8.  You have to wake up each day and chose to love.

9.  Just because you look different or have a different story doesn’t me we aren’t just the same.

10.  There should be dessert at every meal.

11.  We are blessed beyond measure for this crazy, good, loud, and full family.

Happy ELEVEN months to our Sunshine!

March 17, 2014 - 6:46 pm

Ta Phillips - She is a gift that is for sure

March 19, 2014 - 9:57 am

Gretchen - Sunshine is such a beautiful girl with a smile that absolutely shines!

March 22, 2014 - 12:21 am

Keshia - Ha! Black hair is a big deal! But you seem to have gotten it right! I love her little fro and I’m glad that you are helping her to love her hair just as it is; exactly as it grows from her head. She’s a beautiful girl. You have a pretty awesome family.

the day i learned about another random disease.

It has been a little quiet here since my last post.  I was gearing up for another trip to Atlanta for Created for Care (adoption conference) when things started to really feel overwhelming with Danny.  On Wednesday afternoon I made the call to the airlines to cancel my ticket.  I’m not gonna lie…there was a bit of a pity party that ensued.  I was picturing my 450 best friends chatting, relaxing, and listening to amazing speakers and my heart broke a little bit.  But I knew I needed to be home in this season and I had peace that we had made the right decision.

Saturday night Danny started refusing to bear weight on his left leg and we noticed a pretty large lump on the back of the calf.  As the evening wore on…he was crying in pain and we decided we better have his leg looked at to make sure he was ok…so off to the ER we went.   The doctor checked him over (he flirted with all the nurses and left with 12 new girlfriends) and ordered some x-rays.  Everything came back normal so we were sent home.

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Sunday he continued to limp but was in a good mood playing with his siblings and even bouncing on the trampoline for a bit.  But by Sunday evening he was back to crying in pain.  The original swollen lump in his calf had gone down but now there was a new lump in his ankle and his left leg was starting to swell quickly.  I called the nurse back from the ER and they asked us to bring him back in for another look.  We spent several hours there Sunday night and over the course of that time the lumps would swell and subside.  By the time we left his left knee was enormous and the swelling had moved over to his right leg as well.  The doctor we saw was curt at best telling us “I can’t find anything life threatening.  Call your pediatrician in the morning…I suspect this will get much worse before it gets better” and sent us on our way.

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Yesterday our little man woke us sore and grumpy.  Off to the pediatrician we went!  After about 10 minutes in the exam room our beloved doctor said “yep….I know what this is!”  HSP disease (Henoch Schonlein purpura) which is the most common form of vasculitis.  It causes the small blood vessels to leak and become irritated and swollen in the skin, intestines, and kidneys.   It is miserable.  He is having leg pain due to the swelling and rash (tiny bruises where the blood vessels are leaking) and has a horrible tummy ache.  The condition has to run its course and should eventually heal on its own.  We are praying that his kidneys will not be involved!  That adds another dimension to the illness as in rare cases the kidneys will fail and require dialysis.  We are hoping he has a mild case that won’t lead to that!

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We are so thankful for the prayers of friends and family as well as the sweet messages (and dinner) from friends!  It is so hard to see our little guy in so much pain and have so little to offer him in the form of relief.  Lots of snuggles and ipad time (his love language) happening at our house right now.

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March 12, 2014 - 1:09 pm

Betsy - Oh no, I’m so sorry. Why do these things never happen during normal dr hours?! Praying for a mild case and quick healing.

March 14, 2014 - 7:40 am

Tara - Praying for you and your family, it is so hard, as you love and serve these sweet babes you are serving our our sweet Jesus , blessings and strength to you to keep going, well done faithful servant!!!!!!! You are an amazing mom!!!!!

god knows.

So we’ve hit a hard patch.  A season of life that seems to have brought lots of questions with few answers.  And while I am mostly upbeat here on this blog…I’ve got to say…there are days (dare I say months) when parenting a child with special needs is daunting.  It’s not always for the obvious reasons either.  Yes, the daily/weekly therapies get old.  The putting on and taking off and putting on and taking off of the orthotics, stretching casts, and shoe inserts makes me want to scream.  There is the hip pain from carrying the 35 lb squirming toddler who screams “HOLD YOU!! I NO WALK!” whenever we are in public.  And of course…the appointments with the pediatrician, neurologist, eye doctor, orthopedic surgeon, preschool coordinator, physical therapist, behaviorist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, audiologist, and special ed teacher get old.

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But what I’ve found to be most exhausting is the weariness of soul.

Oh, how I love this boy.  Everyday when I wake up…I wish I could take some of his pain and hardship and carry the burden for him.  I worry about his future.  I wonder about all that is happening inside his little head.  I worry that he won’t have friends, won’t learn to kick a ball, won’t be able to write his name.  I worry he won’t find a wife, won’t have children of his own, won’t have a job that fulfills him.  And I find myself weary in the wondering and worrying.

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This is when I am thankful for a God who cares about every detail of my life.  God knows Danny’s future and there is NOTHING that surprises Him.  When we accepted the referral for a healthy infant boy.  GOD KNEW.  When we met Danny in person and our gut told us something was wrong.  GOD KNEW.  When we diagnosed Danny with brain damage and then Cerebral Palsy.  GOD KNEW.  When Danny took his first glorious steps.  GOD KNEW.  When Danny has had seizures.  GOD KNEW.  When Danny started to talk GOD KNEW.  There are no surprises for God.

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We’ve hit another hard patch.  A new set of behaviors and circumstances that tell us that there is still more to Danny’s story.  And while we hate to continue to pile diagnosis on his already very full chart…we know we have to pursue more testing so that he can be the happiest and healthiest little boy possible.   So we spend our evenings sitting across from each other on our laptops researching and discussing.  We pray for God to put the right people in our path to provide healing and help.  We seek out the best professionals to provide opinions and help us wade through the vast amount of information.

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And then we sit back and wait for the answers that we suspect are coming.  And it’s ok.  Because God won’t be surprised whatever the outcome.  God created this little boy and he has a story to tell that is going to blow my mind.  He’s got a plan and a future for this one that surpasses anything I could ever hope or dream for him.  So…I’m determined to watch in anticipation at how he weaves this story.  And when I become weary in the daily struggle, I’m going to remind myself.  GOD KNOWS.

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March 4, 2014 - 10:31 pm

Paige - Oh dear one, I am crying with you. I am thankful HE KNOWS, because so much of this life is so hard. Praising God in advance for what he will do in your son’s life. I love you, baby sis.

March 5, 2014 - 5:41 am

Jen - My goodness, this was exactly what God wanted me to read this morning. We are in a similar season with our daughters diagnoses and it is hard. I look into the future but have to pull back because it is just overwhelming at times. Thank you for sharing your heart. It truly blessed me.

March 5, 2014 - 7:41 am

Phillippa Jenkins - I’m crying too! I cry because of the pain you’re suffering but I cry with joy because this little man could not have found a better Mom or Dad. And HE KNEW, carry on Jen because you are inspiration to so many. Love to you.

March 5, 2014 - 8:32 am

Kristin W - I certainly feel for you. We have far fewer special needs than you, yet I know the level of stress that it can be. All those questions about what the future will look like? I ask myself those same things every day. And every new diagnosis provides both optimism and despair. Thinking of you.

March 5, 2014 - 9:24 am

Gretchen - Crying and praying for you as well. What an amazing boy your Danny is! My daughter is “healthy”, but her heart is still healing many years down the road. She doesn’t know where the anger comes from and as much as I hurt for her, it is so hard on a momma’s heart to have anger and insults hurled my way and I hurt for myself at times also. (Selfishness on my part, I know.) If only we as parents could “fix” it all for our children. Thankful for a God who Knows and Heals.

March 5, 2014 - 3:13 pm

Candice Craig - Crying reading this. My heart breaks for you & for him. He’s got such a joy in his smile. I’m stopping right now & praying for his healing, his future & for you sweet mama.

March 5, 2014 - 4:20 pm

Kathryn - So sorry for your struggles right now! Tough stuff!! Thankful you are finding your comfort in the Lord and thankful that Danny has you to love and help him along—God knows!

March 6, 2014 - 1:25 am

Coy - Thank you for sharing your heart and Danny’s triumphs and struggles. I pray for peace, wisdom, and joy in your family.

March 6, 2014 - 1:27 pm

Julie B - Blessings to you for sharing in the struggles. I try to remind myself daily of just that…We are not in control, God knows what plans he has for us and it is not for us to worry. We have a hard time of course, we are human but for that we can pray for each other that our stresses and worries will be eased in God’s grace (Jeremiah 29:11)