Getting to the Top of the Mountain

This year we went to Chattanooga for our vacation.  I experienced a pretty massive panic attack at a cave on the first day.  You can read about it here. We left the cave and drove 4 hours to our hotel in Chattanooga.  We arrived at 11 p.m.  Brett went inside to check in.  15 minutes passed.  What in the world is taking so long?  He came out and said the hotel had canceled our reservations.  Really?  They had one room left if we wanted it.  Brett didn’t have a good feeling about the place.  But he took the room because it was late and he had 5 exhausted females he was trying to keep happy.  Bless his heart.

The room was awful.  I’ve always said I can stay anywhere for one night.  But this was pushing it. TripAdvisor had steered us wrong on this place.  I went down to the front desk and made one simple request.  My request was denied.  I was mad and the lady at the front desk knew I was mad. TripAdvisor will be getting a negative review from me about this place.  You can count on that.  We were supposed to stay for 2 nights.  There was no way I was staying 2 nights. I grabbed my iPad and I started searching for another hotel.  I found one just up the road that had rooms available. Brett called and made a reservation for the next night.  It can’t be worse than this place.  I was still awake at 2 a.m.

The next day we went to the Tennessee Aquarium.  Mikayla and Hope love animals so we knew it would be a fun place to take them.  As soon as we entered the building Brett noticed the sign beside the escalator.  You can’t use the escalator if you’re wearing crocs.  Great.  The girls have their crocs on since I accidentally brought 2 right tennis shoes for Hope.   We took them to the restroom and then we got on the elevator and headed to the 4th floor.

The girls were excited when they got to pet the stingrays.  We stayed for a long time since Mikayla and Hope were enjoying it so much.  Then we went to the 3rd floor.  We’d only been there for a few minutes when one of the girls yelled that she needed the bathroom.  We couldn’t find a restroom anywhere.  Brett asked an employee and she said there weren’t any restrooms on the 3rd floor.  We’d have to go to the 2nd or 4th floor. Back to the elevator we go.  Our girls go to the bathroom frequently.  When they’re in an unfamiliar place they get anxious and they go even more frequently.  It makes traveling a lot of fun.  At one point I had a little sweetheart crying on the 3rd floor and saying she was going to wet her pants.  I grabbed her and her croc covered feet and we jumped on the escalator.  There was no time for the elevator.  I’m normally a rule follower but during a bathroom emergency all rules can fly out the window.

We enjoyed the aquarium but we spent entirely too much time in the restroom.  Mikayla and Hope eventually started fighting with each other and it became very stressful.  Clearly it was time to leave.  We went to the gift shop so the girls could buy a souvenir.  It was taking forever for Mikayla and Hope to pick something out so Taylor and I decided to walk up the street and look at another gift shop.  When we were done I called Brett to tell him that we would meet him at the van.  He told me he was at the check out and the credit card was denied.  What?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  He asked me to bring some cash in so he could pay.  I paid the cashier while Brett was on the phone with the credit card company.  Then we went to the van.

The man from the credit card company told Brett that our credit card was deactivated because of a fraud attempt.  Brett was on hold forever while the man checked into why it was deactivated.  The more minutes that passed the more frustrated I became.   We’re not going to be able to pay for our hotel if our credit card is deactivated.  I totally flipped out and I told Brett we just needed to go home.  He agreed that we might have to.  Finally the man from the credit card company came back on the line.  The hotel from the night before had charged us 3 times for our room.  Now why doesn’t that surprise me?  They reactivated our card.  The man told Brett he needed to go back to the hotel and get it straightened out.  He said to call him back if they wouldn’t cooperate and he would take care of it for us.

Brett dropped us off at our new hotel.  I was scared to open the door.  What if this place is as bad as the last place?  We opened the door and I was relieved to find out that the place was very nice and super clean. Hallelujah! Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight.  Brett went and talked to the first hotel and they said it would be straightened out by morning.  I certainly hope so.  We were exhausted and didn’t feel like going out for supper.  Brett and Taylor ran and got milkshakes.  Yes.  I fed my kids milkshakes for supper.  And they liked it.  I collapsed into bed.   This was definitely not how I had pictured vacation.  I hope our trip tomorrow to Lookout Mountain will be relaxing and fun.

As soon as Brett opened his eyes the next morning he called the credit card company.  They told him the hotel had credited back the 2 charges that we didn’t owe.  Phew!  Glad that’s off our minds.  We ate breakfast and headed to Lookout Mountain.  It felt relaxing as we walked the trails.   It was a very hot day but Mikayla and Hope didn’t seem to mind the heat.

The view from the top of Lookout Mountain was amazing.  It was definitely the highlight of our vacation. We could see 7 states from the top of the mountain.  We could hear a waterfall.  There was relaxing music playing.  Mikayla and Hope were happy because they got to hug Rocky the Gnome. What more could we ask for?

We left the top of the mountain and continued our way along the trails.  I was feeling totally relaxed and happy.  It finally felt like we were on vacation. And then it happened.

We arrived at Fat Man Squeeze.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  I didn’t want to see another Fat Man’s anything on this trip.  First it was Fat Man’s Misery at Mammoth Cave.  And now this?  Good grief.  Can’t a claustrophobic woman catch a break while she’s on vacation?  They really need to warn people about these things before they buy a ticket.  I took a deep breath and away I went into Fat Man Squeeze.

Ok.  That wasn’t bad.  Fat Man Squeeze was a breeze compared to Fat Man’s Misery.   I didn’t sweat my clothes through and my heart never started racing.  I’d been to the top of the mountain and I’d conquered Fat Man Squeeze.  This 3rd day of vacation was pretty amazing.

We finished our tour and we all agreed we would love to visit again.  We drove back down the mountain and started looking for a place to eat lunch. And then suddenly one of our sweethearts got that look in her eye.  And I knew what was about to happen.  I grabbed the bucket and got it under her chin right before the vomit started flying out of her.  I might be the gal who packs 2 right shoes for her kid.  But I didn’t forget the puke buckets.

Something didn’t feel quite right.  Looks like my little sweetheart’s aim was a little off.  I could feel the vomit running down my hand and collecting under my wedding ring.  Ugh.  I suddenly was no longer hungry for lunch.  We pulled into the Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que restaurant parking lot, deposited our mountain sickness into a trash can, and then walked into the restaurant.  I convinced my stomach that it needed to let me eat something.  It was going to be a long ride home if I didn’t.  The food was amazing.  TripAdvisor had got this one right.  We finished our meals and started our trip home.

The trip home was uneventful until we were an hour from home.  And then the sweethearts started freaking out.   They were exhausted.  She knocked her french fries on the floor.  And then she knocked her hamburger on the floor.  And then there was a whole lot of screaming.  Are we ever going to get home? There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  I never want to go on vacation again.

I crawled into bed and I felt angry.  That was not the vacation that I’d hoped for.  I’d experienced the worst panic attack of my life.  Our hotel reservations had been cancelled.  Our credit card was deactivated.  And the minor issues of mismatched shoes, frequent restroom visits, elevators instead of escalators, and vomit weren’t fun either.  Overall our vacation was just really disappointing.  In my frustration I asked God “What was that vacation all about, anyway?  Why did all of those things happen? Why couldn’t our vacation be relaxing?”

He answered my prayer immediately.  He said If you’d given up and went home you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the mountain. Wow.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Thank you, God for wrapping up this vacation with a valuable life lesson.  2017 has been an extremely difficult year. We had to make several really tough decisions one right after another.  It’s been exhausting. I’ve had a few disappointments that were difficult to get through.  And I’ve been battling some physical issues in the midst of everything else. Sometimes it’s really hard to get out of bed and face the day. Honestly, there have been days when my family went to church and I stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve felt like giving up at least a million times.  So what does God do to teach me to be an overcomer?  He takes me to the top of a mountain.

This vacation wasn’t about relaxing.  This vacation was about learning to overcome some stuff.  The biggest thing I had to overcome was my this is too hard, let’s just go home attitude.  If my family had listened to me the Chattanooga vacation of 2017 would be remembered as the year that we gave up and went home. But it will be remembered as the year we made it to the top of the mountain.  I was talking to Taylor about our vacation after we got home.  I told her I was sorry it wasn’t the best vacation we’d ever had.  She said “It had its moments of not being easy.  But Lookout Mountain was worth it.”  I want to be like Taylor when I grow up.  The valleys of life make us appreciate the mountaintops more.

Next time I feel like giving up on life I’m pretty sure God will say: Remember Lookout Mountain?  If you’d given up and went home you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the mountain.  Don’t give up now either. This is the valley that you’re in right now.  You have to keep going if you want to get to the top of the mountain.  

Sometimes You Just Can’t See Where You’re Going

300px-Flickering_scotoma   Visual-aura-300x225 As I was driving Brynna to dance class this week something strange happened.  I started to see a jagged line like the one in the top picture.  Only the line I saw looked more like a lightening bolt.  I also had some gray clouds blocking my vision that were similar to the bottom picture.  As cars were approaching me a gray cloud would be covering one of the headlights.  Or a lightening bolt would appear between me and whatever was in front of me. I wasn’t scared.  I knew exactly what was happening to me.  I started to wonder if my face or my hands were going to go numb.  But they never did. We got to dance class and Brynna smiled as she told me bye.  I smiled and told her to have fun. She had no idea that I couldn’t see all of her face.

The lightening bolt and the gray clouds are a signal to me that I’m getting ready to have a migraine.  I had migraines frequently when I was a teenager. But I haven’t had one for 10 years so I was surprised it was happening.  This was my first time having visual disturbances while I was driving and it was pretty unnerving.  We were 35 minutes away from home.  And I was going to somehow have to get us back home after dance class.

I knew exactly what I needed to do.  First I texted a friend and asked her to pray that my vision would return to normal so that I would be able to drive home.  Then I drove to Walmart to buy a Mt. Dew and pain medicine.  I know from experience that the quicker I get pain medicine and caffeine in me the better my chances are of the migraine not getting out of control.  As I was drinking my Mt. Dew I began thinking about what I was going to do if I couldn’t drive home.  My sister works in the town that I was in.  Maybe she could leave work to drive me home.  Then Taylor could drive her back to work.   So I decided I would call her if my vision didn’t improve.  Within 45 minutes my vision returned to normal.  I still had a pretty bad headache, but I felt like I could drive home.

These are the life lessons that I learned from driving with a migraine.

Sometimes you just can’t see where you’re going – Life with special needs kids is hard.  Sometimes you feel like you can’t even see where you’re going.  There are obstacles in your way that keep you from seeing clearly.  You feel as if it’s not even possible to get to your destination.  You worry about your child’s future.  Will she learn to read? Will she learn to write?  Will she learn to drive?  Will she be able to leave home? or will she always live with us?  You research what products and therapies would be best for her.  You think, you plan, and you worry. You take her to doctor appointments and therapies.  You do everything that you know to do and yet sometimes you just feel like you can’t see where you’re going.  But you keep going because you know if you stop then you’ll never get to your destination.  You keep going because you believe that one day those things that are unclear will suddenly become clear to you.

Sometimes you need to let Someone else drive – Sometimes God removes the obstacles and we’re able to drive again.  My vision returned to normal and I was able to drive home.  But if my vision hadn’t returned to normal I was going to have to scoot over into the passenger seat and let my sister drive. Sometimes I need to scoot over into the passenger seat and let God drive. He can see much better than I can.  I spend too much time steering my life in the direction that I think I should go.  And God is sitting in the passenger seat thinking “If she would just let me drive we would get there a lot quicker.  We wouldn’t have to take all of these winding roads.  We wouldn’t have to turn around and go back because we missed the turn.”  Yes, I just need to learn to let Him drive.

Sometimes you have to keep going even when you want to  quit –   I kept driving when my vision was impaired because Brynna needed to get to dance class.  I could’ve pulled off the road.  But if I’d sat on the side of the road waiting for my vision to return to normal she would’ve missed dance class. Last week I wrote my blog post To the Lady Who Shook Her Head and I was thinking that it might be my last.  Lately I’ve felt overwhelmed with life.  I’ve felt like my life needs to be simplified.  My blog is the only thing that I could come up with that I could give up.  I published my post and was surprised by what happened.  My number of Facebook readers tripled.  Then I got an email from a senior editor of the Mighty.  She asked permission to publish my post on their website.  I read the email.  I read it again because I still couldn’t believe it.  Two days ago the Mighty published my blog post and I’ve had many more readers than I normally have.  I’m thankful for more people reading my blog but I’m even more thankful for comments like these:

Being childless by choice these articles really help me to understand and have more patience. Some days my *people level* has bottomed out by the end of the work day (I’m a social introvert) but I still need to run some errands – when I find myself about to shake my head or glare I truly try to stop myself and think of these stories…I really, REALLY don’t have any idea what parents deal with at all so I take a deep breath and try to put a genuine smile on my face and quickly finish my errands.  Thank you all for sharing your stories, they touch and teach and reach a lot of us.

Hi – I was just reading your post on the Mighty, and I had to look at your blog. My 9-year-old daughter has ADHD, phonological disorder, Developmental coordination disorder, and sensory processing disorder. I don’t know where you live, and I only have one unique little girl ( I also have a great 12-year-old son) but I wanted you to know you are not alone. I understand the everyday struggles and joys. Your family is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

My post touched someone who doesn’t have to walk in my shoes.  She realized that she shouldn’t shake her head.  My post touched a mom who walks in the same shoes that I walk in.  Both of us know that someone out there understands and we don’t feel so alone.  Last week I wanted to park this blog on the side of the road and just walk away.  But then God orchestrated a series of events to show me that I’m supposed to keep going.  He wants me to keep going even when I’m weary and I can’t see clearly.  So I’ll keep writing about the beauty in our brokenness and I’ll pray that it brings beauty into your brokenness.

And it’s time for me to scoot over to the passenger seat and let Him drive. 532309_457716370918628_1833968588_nphoto credits: