Wednesday, November 25, 2015

and I thought we were doing so well...

I have to laugh. I just have to.  Ben and I just drove up to Fort Wayne to the Center today only to find that they were CLOSED for Thanksgiving.  The program director met us at the door and graciously agreed to coach Ben for a session since we had made the trip up, but OH MY STARS!!!  I just drove to Fort Wayne for NO REASON.  Great.  Good job, Krista.

The update I wanted to type was about settling into our new, crazy normal so maybe this is appropriate.  Our new crazy normal is us totally losing it when we least expect it.  For reals.  On the days that I think things are well in hand, Ben eats food he shouldn't, Emily leaves a trail of yellow goo all over the house, Laura puts her foot down about something ridiculous, and Caleb despairs when he realizes that this will forever be his circus and these siblings really are his monkeys.  The wheels fall off the wagon, and we reevaluate whether or not we really ever cared about taking that wagon anywhere.  I mean... how important is it to squeeze in that dentist appointment??  (For the record, Yes, I did finally get to the dentist yesterday for the first time this year.  Thanks a lot, Emily, for being born two days before my last appointment.  I like you more than I like going to the dentist anyways.)

Life with Ben is definitely two steps forward, one step back.  I was just talking to our helper Kaitlyn last night, asking how she thinks Ben is doing.  Just by coming to our house a few times a week (and not living here :-)), she sees behavior slumps and victories even more clearly than David and I do.  She said that at dinner he wanted seconds and had to wait until she was done feeding Emily, and he did so patiently.  In the past, Ben would have whined or just asked repeatedly until you took care of him.  And I'm talking REPEATING THE SAME REQUEST over and over and over, getting louder and louder and louder, until you gave him what he wanted.  Looking back, I realized that we have seen a lot of improvement in Ben's ability to delay gratification.  He can wait for dessert after dinner, and he's also been amazingly good at waiting to spend his one hour of screen time for a family movie a few evenings.  No tantrums about no computer games.  Amazing.

Ben also maintains a calmer spirit in the evenings.  Normally by 6 p.m., he's very unstable.  He might be happy through all of our evening's activities, but he is much more likely to pitch a fit when things don't go exactly how he wants them to.  For the past week, Ben has either played Legos quietly with his brother, watched a t.v. show with the family, had a friendly wrestling match with his brother, or read books.  No tantrums.  No screaming.  Praise the Lord.  Seriously.  To God be the glory.

Also, during quiet time in the afternoon, Ben often struggles to power down, to stay in his room, and to read quietly.  He makes a ridiculous number of trips to the bathroom, and I can often hear him scratching the wall or playing with things.  Yesterday, he stayed in his room for TWO HOURS, reading quietly and resting.  Never got up.  Never came to ask me, "How much longer?"  Amazing.

Things aren't perfect, and we still have a long way to go.  Ben has some basic self-help skills that are better but still far below age-appropriate.  He has gotten better about chewing his hands and some of his ticks, but we still see those when he is tired or distracted.  Also, Ben hates doing some of the exercises.  I don't blame him.  Some of them are challenging for me too, and those are definitely the hardest parts of the day for David and I as parents.  Trying to keep it fun.  Trying to stay patient.  Trying not to lose it when Ben tries to whine his way out of doing his eye exercises or sit ups.  Our workouts always end with smiles but almost also begin with dragging feet and tears.

So for those of you who are still praying... Would you lift up our daily exercises?  We're praying that Ben would cooperate more as he feels himself getting stronger.  Also, thank you for continuing in prayer for our whole family.  We rise with a strength that we know comes from the Lord, and we rest with peace, knowing that our family is doing exactly what we should be doing no matter how challenging it is in this season.

Just so you don't think we are only paying attention to Ben (and for those who are connected to our whole family), I thought you'd want to know that Emily learned to crawl this week!  Look out world!  We are so grateful for this precious, smiley girl.  She truly makes everything so much better in our home.  How did we live without her?  I am unbelievably grateful for the children God has placed in our home.  Each and every one of them was created specially by God to be a part of our family and watching them grow is a richer journey than I would ever have imagined.

May God bless each of your homes tomorrow with thankful hearts as we celebrate the rich gifts He has given us.  Salvation.  Sonship.  Friendship with Him.  How could it be???

And, despite all the crazy, we ARE doing well because we have Christ, and He is always, always enough.

Friday, November 20, 2015


When David woke me up this morning, I almost went right back to sleep.  It felt like the weekend, like a vacation.  Ben has "school" at the center today, but my amazing dad is driving him.  Oh. my. lands.  I took a deep breath, put my comfy pants on after my shower, and jumped into a busy day with a slower speed.

There's still life that needs to be done around here.  Laundry for six people (with two potty training... keepin' that bodily fluids load as a daily necessity), GF-DF-EF meals that need to be made at home, homework, dishes, and ..... da da-da daaaaaa.... bathrooms.  Yep.  I've never been more thankful for the time to clean my bathrooms.  I was smiling.  You know you're going crazy when...

A few updates: your prayers are being answered.  Keep 'em coming.  It's hard to know how much private information to share about our children.  I want them to be able to share their own stories one day without having been exposed by their outspoken mother, but I do feel comfortable sharing this.  Two of my children had huge victories yesterday.  One child had a spiritual breakthrough so huge that David and I were crying in the kitchen after the children had all gone to bed.  And Ben... well, all I can say is that he had a physical victory that has been THREE YEARS in the waiting.  If there had been a football nearby I would've spiked it.  This momma was dancing.... and I'm a Baptist so it was pretty unfamiliar territory, but it was definitely dancing.

Today Ben has been tired, cranky, and more than a little unmanageable.  I've caught him several times with a blanket in his hand, lying on the floor half-asleep.  Understandably, he's exhausted.  This is really our first week of coaching sessions, exercises, and new diet; but yesterday both David and I felt like we were seeing a new child, a happier, gentler child who can be reasoned with.  Between yesterday's behavior and huge victory, I'm encouraged.  And we'll keep fighting another day.

Someone said something to me yesterday that has reminded me to be thankful ever since.  At least this is not leukemia.  It's not cancer.  To families who are in that awful boat, you have my heartfelt prayers that you will not be there long.  I can only imagine what your days and nights are like.  We're not fighting an enemy that is fighting for Ben's life. We're just fighting to help Ben find his best life.  We're choosing to adopt this new lifestyle and schedule, but we even have the privilege of knowing when we'll be done (6 sessions down, 66 to go).

Your texts, calls, emails, and surprise groceries remind me that God doesn't call us to do hard things on our own.  He surrounds us with prayer warriors and the hands and feet of the Body of Christ.  I told someone yesterday, I should be wiped out, and I'm just not.  I feel a strength running through me that is just not my own, and once again I wonder how anyone does it without Jesus because this girl sure can't.

For today though, my job is to play Candyland and to listen to my little girl's heart.  It's to snuggle that baby and encourage her to coordinate that crawl (she is so close!!!).  It's to be here to greet my big boys as each of them come back from their schools.  And I'm grateful that for today the bar was lowered and the speed was turned down on the treadmill that I've called my life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Your prayers are carrying us.  They are.  I have zero doubt.

Today has been full.  Full of people.  Full of hard work.  Full of messes.  But I would be remiss if I failed to mention that today has also be full of grace.  Full of victory.  Full of truth.  

For starters, I have been concerned about my girls.  So much of my time is spent away from them right now, but today they went out to my parents' home to play with my nephews, who just happen to be exactly their ages.  It was a morning full of fun and adventure and memories for everyone.  Even if I could have chosen something different for their day, I wouldn't have.  Grace.

Ben and I powered through his exercises today.  I was anticipating them being a fight (and he wasn't thrilled to do them), but they were MUCH easier today.  He has also discovered that he actually enjoys some of the exercises.  What I thought would be 30 minutes of battle ended up being 30 minutes of positive struggle and victory.  And this evening, all three of the big kids did the exercises with their daddy.  Grace.  I'm not going to tell you who could do the most sit-ups.  Hint: it's not me.

One of Ben's tasks for the day is to listen to a special music CD.  I'd like to tell you that this is pleasant classical music, but it is NOT.  It is random beats.  Wolves howling.  Eerie music in a minor key.  Laura said what the rest of us were thinking, "This is too scary.  Turn it off!"  When I mentioned that at the center today, I was given another CD to try.  Apparently we're not the only ones who weren't fans of the wolves. Grace.

I hid in the program director's office again today so I could watch Ben's session without his knowledge, and I learned a lot about what exercises they are doing with Ben as well as how he is responding or resisting.  I'm very pleased with the variety of things they are challenging him to do, and Ben seems genuinely happy to be there.  Grace.

One of the ways we are trying to thrive rather than survive is by calling in the reserves.  We have been blessed to have one of my former students (who is now in college... yep. I'm old.) as our family helper.  Miss Kaitlyn graces our home with her presence 8-10 hours each week.  Sometimes she plays with the kids so I can get work done or grocery shop.  Sometimes she helps out with work around the house.  Sometimes she plays a very intense game of chess with Caleb.  Her presence in our home is always a blessing, and today was no exception.  My family room floor is now clean.  My counters are wiped down.  And my children got priceless attention as she and I divided and conquered.  It took years for me to admit that I couldn't do it all, but I fully admit it.  David and I can't get it all done on our own.  Period.  Ending today knowing all the laundry is put away and crumbs are a little more under control... Grace.

Caleb is a picky eater who loves carbs.  Ben is a food lover who can't eat half the food he loves.  With all the new restrictions, I've felt like I'm perfectly positioned to fail at getting everyone to eat; but tonight's dinner of gluten-free pasta made everyone happy.  Seriously.  This NEVER happens.  At the end of the meal, Caleb commented that he really liked the new pasta.  Say what??  Grace.

Our family attends Wednesday evening church, and I have the privilege of spending the evening with our church's jr. high and sr. high youth.  Even with a baby fussing, it did my heart good to hear our youth pastor speaking on the power of God's Word to change our lives.  Amen and amen!  Grace.

And Ben.  Sweet Ben.  This is one of the first Wednesday nights that he has been able to attend church because his tantrums had gotten so bad at home that he kept losing the privilege of going to his beloved preschool program.  Not today.  Despite having done an hour of exercising with us, an hour of coaching at the center, two hours in the car, and no nap; Benjamin's behavior ROCKED today.  No screaming.  No fights.  No stomping.  Just a happy kid who kept thanking me for things.  Not sure if this is the result of diet, exercises, treatments, or prayer; but I'm callin' it Grace.

And you.  Your prayers.  Your notes.  Your messages.  Your hugs.  We are unbelievably grateful for the Body of Christ.  Love and grace has lifted us so many times today that even with a cranky, teething baby, stacks of papers, and another huge day ahead of us; I have hope and joy.  Unwavering confidence that God is up to something good in our family, even if it is only draining us so there will be more room for Him in the limelight.  Your prayers have carried us, and we know that we are safe in the hands that formed the universe.  Amazing. grace.

And all I can think to say are the words to the old hymn:
Love lifted me.  Love lifted me.
When nothing else could help, love lifted me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


It's taken me over 24 hours to sit down to write this post.  Scratch that.  It's taken me over 24 hours to sit down.  Goodness.

Yesterday was our meeting with the director of the Brain Balance Center as well as the program director.  My mom, being the totally supportive mom and grandma that she is, went with me to give me a second set of ears to hear all the information.  Plus, she was getting kind of curious about the center.  Ben was PUMPED.  His grandma was going to see his school with him.

After he went back with his coach, my mom and I stepped into the program director's office which has a window for us to watch the session without Ben knowing that we're spying on him.  The coach put a vibrator on Ben's left ankle since he's right brain weak, and Ben also wore special sunglasses that only allowed him to see with his weaker eye.  Just watching him do his activities blew my mind.  That would've driven me NUTS, but Ben seemed totally content to do his activities and work with his coach while wearing the special equipment.

Then we made our way to the director's office to discuss the parent binder as well as the nutrition packet.  Here's where things started to go downhill.  It was in this meeting that the full extent of the parent participation was explained.  I kept trying to not look shocked as the director explained that we would be responsible for doing special exercises with Ben at home for 30 minutes twice a day, even on the days that he is at the center.  And we're not talking a few sit-ups and jogging in place.  Specific eye focal activities.  Core strength training.  Reflex retraining.  None of it easy or coming naturally to Ben.  And we are supposed to do these things for an hour every. day.  I almost cried.

Ben is incredibly difficult to motivate.  He would rather miss out on good things in the future than do what you ask him to do in the moment.  My brain immediately skipped ahead to what a nightmare the next six months would be, doing these activities for an hour of every day of my ever-loving life.  Six months.  Approximately 180 days.  What have we done?????

Just when my brain thought it might explode, the director explained the last exercise and began to talk about nutrition.  It was just as I expected.  No gluten.  No dairy.  No processed sugar.  And limited eggs, soy, and corn.  For six months.  He'll need supplements.  We'll need to keep track of his exercises every day on a chart that must be turned in on Monday each week.  The intensity of the room was overwhelming, and the gist of the conversation was that it was on us to make all this happen for Ben.

Even worse, they had recently decided to just email the parent binder rather than provide paper copies for the parents so I had no where to write all the details I was being told.  I thought my brain was going to explode.  The Brain Balance Center was going to be cleaning up my gray matter from off the ceiling because here's my thing: I have four children.  Ben is only one of the sweet souls that have been entrusted to David and me.  And I have very little short-term memory right now for details.  Trying to remember all the facts and figures that were given to me in the meeting since I had no where to make notes was the straw that broke my sanity.  I processed out loud (read: rant) with my mom the whole way home.  And then I cried as I told my dad about all the information, all the work, all the details to keep track of that I just don't have it in me to chart.  It was just too much.

God has given me David.  Of this I am sure.  I called him at work and was sobbing uncontrollably.  I couldn't imagine how we could do all of this with Ben over the next six months.  I couldn't imagine what he would eat.  I felt like the meeting had been rushed.  Like all my questions hadn't been answered.  Like I was just not up to this gargantuan task, but I could not imagine retreating from this opportunity for Ben.  David listened, didn't try to fix me or explain it away, and then he cleared his schedule for the evening.  He came home, ate dinner with us, built a fire in the fireplace, washed all the dishes, and made sure I had all the time I needed to read the nutrition guide and to make sense of how this might actually work over the next half of a year.

By the time the last log was on the fire and Emily was ready for bed, I had read enough to understand the program and to feel like it was more manageable.  I had emailed the director with a couple questions and made a plan with David to split the responsibility for Ben's exercises.  (I'll do the morning, and Dave will do the evening.)

By the morning, the director had responded to my questions, and things looked a bit brighter.  As I sat in my bed snuggling Emily to sleep, I prayed and begged God for guidance.  By the providence of God, Emily's developmental therapist came today for the first time and we talked through the demands and strengths of the Brain Balance Program.  Despite talking about how hard it is going to be, she encouraged me in the positive aspects of the program and was supportive as well as realistic.  When I called David after lunch, he and I both still felt like this six months is a gift that we needed to give Ben, and we need to give it to him now. Not a year from now.  Now.

So this evening we did Ben's exercises.  Our date night tonight was a hot trip to Aldi and Meijer to stock up on gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free items that we can have on-hand for Ben.  And I'm gearing up for the trip to Fort Wayne in the morning (read: going to bed as soon as I publish this).

We are begging God for the strength to see this program through to the end.  For wisdom as we seek to balance our time and show our other three beautiful children that they are loved.  For Ben's growth and cooperation.  For our marriage to remain strong.  For our lives to reflect grace even when we are beyond ourselves exhausted.

Several of you have asked how you can help.  Would you commit to pray?  To daily pray?  When we are weak, I know Christ is strongest in us.  I'm fervently praying that this journey will strengthen my sons' faith and even encourage Laura to trust Jesus with her life.  We are pressed but not crushed, and we will press on toward allowing Ben to live the fullest life possible for him.

And thanks.  Your notes and emails are a blessing beyond what I could ever express.

Friday, November 13, 2015

One down, Twenty three to Go

 Friday.  We made it to the end of week 1 at the Brain Balance Center.  The honeymoon is definitely over.  Ben is just as ornery at the center as he was for his occupational therapist back home.  He pushes to see how little he can get away with doing (he really is my child), but those Brain Bucks are still pretty motivating.  Today is also his first Friday so it is his first time to shop in the Brain Buck Store.  Hopefully that reward will keep him cooperating.

Update on Ben: He has a head-to-toe rash that we canNOT figure out.  No one else has it.  Everyone has eaten the same things, been to the same places, and interacted with the same playmates.  Poor little guy.  It looks so painful.  Even after going to his pediatrician, we are at a loss as to what to do for him.  According to her, it is not contagious so business as normal, but I'm hoping it resolves quickly.  Ben continues to fall asleep much more quickly than he used to.  Whether he is just being stretched or his brain is shutting down more efficiently, I have no clue.  On a positive note, Ben has had a lot to share lately, and I've noticed much more non-verbal communication in his stories.  More hand gestures and facial expressions as he describes things or asks questions.  David and I have had several moments where we just look at one another in surprise because Ben will GET something that he has never grasped before.

I have a love/hate relationship with our trips to Fort Wayne.  On one hand, I really hate driving and don't like being away from the girls for the day.  However, these are the days that Ben is at his happiest.  He LOVES his "school."  At 7:15 a.m., he is begging me to pack his lunchbox even though we don't leave home until 11 and then he is ready to jump into the car and go the instant that my dad walks in the door to watch the girls.  So as annoying as it is to have someone asking me seven times an hour if it's time to go to school yet, I'll take this any day over screaming and crying.

We are slowly and steadily removing gluten from Ben's diet.  Right now, he is gluten-free for breakfast, lunch, and most of dinner. I'm still working on the fine balance between having enough on the table that Ben can eat and that the others want to eat.  I'm so incredibly thankful that we are in soup/stew season.  Pretty sure that will save me.  Also, thank you to the incredible friends who have sent me yummy GF, DF, EF recipes.  Thank you for holding my hand as we brave this new, hopefully-not-breadless journey.

Though we are easing into all these changes, I have a feeling that Monday will be a turning point.  I have a parent meeting with the director of the center where we will talk further about Ben's progress and needs as well as dietary supplements and sensitivities.  They also haven't given us any "at home" assignments to do, but I just learned that this is part of this upcoming meeting.  I've also been told that I'll be receiving a parent binder with a lot more details.  I'll give you the inside scoop on these after Monday.  I'm interested to hear what the coaches' reports will say as to how they see Ben responding in his sessions. 

To those who are praying, this is the greatest gift you could give us.  Your prayers are holding us together as we try to give this experience to Ben.  Please continue to uphold us as we are on the road (with foggy mommy brain) and as we adjust our lifestyle to give Ben the best odds at success in this program.  Your texts, FB messages, and words of grace mean more than you'll ever know. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

And we're off...

When I got up this morning, I was nervous, brain buzzing with all the details to keep track of and ears already filled with the shrieking of children awake long before they should be.  Ben was pumped.  We've been talking up this therapy as "school" for him so there he was with his backpack ready, lunchbox waiting, and a big smile on his face.  His excitement was contagious, but I was a little concerned he might be spreading something else.  He came into my bathroom this morning covered in a rash from head to toe.  Yep.

So in order to make sure he wouldn't be infecting people across county lines, I played "Can You Be the First One to Call the Doctor to Get the Early Appointment?"  By the grace of God, I won.  And I decided to take Ben's baby sister with us.  Poor baby Emily has been tugging at her ears, and I suspected that we were once again visited by the ear infection fairy.  This particular pixie loves our house and really likes hanging out with any of my children under the age of three who do not already have tubes in their ears.

God bless our practitioner.  She saw our crazy, prescribed antibiotics, skin cream, anti-itch meds,'s the big payoff... our Brain Balance therapy!  I'm pumped.  Insurance will not cover Brain Balance because they do not provide a medical diagnosis, but the doctor's scrip allows us to use our health savings account to pay for this six-month opportunity.  This is HUGE!  As exhausting as it was to squeeze in one more thing today, it was a blessing to talk face-to face with our doctor about the center and to have her okay.

And we made it through in time to get to our first day of therapy!  Thanks to Papa (my dad) rushing over to my house, we were able to get to the doctor, pop over at a specialist's office to make an appointment, run back home to drop off Emily, and grab lunches (Ben's in a cool Cardinals lunchbox, mine on a less-than-cool plate), and hit the road so we would not be late for Ben's first session today.

I sing the praises of audiobooks.  If it weren't for the Boxcar Children, I'm pretty sure my brain would have exploded the first drive to Fort Wayne.  As it is, Ben is totally happy to listen to the Boxcar Children solve countless mysteries with their unlimited resources and incredibly good manners.  Maybe someday I'll convince him to let me listen to one of my podcasts, but for today we hung out with Henry, Jesse, Violet, and Benny.

Ben was exploding to get into the Center when we parked.  I'm talking HE ALMOST SHUT THE DOOR ON MY ARM AS I WAS REACHING FOR MY COFFEE CUP excited.  The kid was pumped!  And rightly so.  His coach for today took him through a series of sensory activities for the first half hour and then worked through several cognitive exercises with him with a positive attitude and clear instructions for the second half.  I was seriously impressed as a teacher.  The hour seemed to fly by, and as I listened to him working with her, they both seemed to be having a good time.  Ben earned six Brain Bucks (money to spend in the "store" at the end of the week) which is the maximum a kid can earn during a session, and he walked out the door reminding the coaches that he would be back to earn the rest of his bucks so he could go to the store on Friday.  Pretty sure Ben thinks he owns the place.

Yes, I know this is the honeymoon period, but I also know that lots of experiences in Ben's life haven't had a honeymoon period.  He just outright can't handle them.  For now, Brain Bucks are incredibly motivating to him, and he feels very successful.

Please don't think I'm crazy, but I want to document changes we are seeing in Ben for our benefit so if it seems too early for results, humor me.  Tonight Ben put toothpaste on each of the kids' toothbrushes all by himself.  This requires a lot of fine motor skill and initiative that we often don't see in Ben.  Dave and I were honestly wowed.  Ben also fell right to sleep.  We often have him popping out of bed or being super silly at bedtime with Laura.  He just has a hard time settling his brain and body.  Not tonight.  He got up ZERO times.  Glory. be.  This could also be due to the antihistamines he is taking for his skin, but he HAS been falling asleep more quickly since the evaluation last Wednesday.  Oh, and Ben stayed seated for all of dinner.  If you think this is a small thing, clearly you haven't eaten at our house recently.  All of these things could be by chance... or not.

Next Monday is my parent meeting where they go through the parent binder with me and talk about nutrition, but I already have some warning as to what changes they would like us to make.  A key element to Brain Balance is removing dairy (done!), most eggs (done!), processed sugar (workable), and gluten (oh my stars.) as well as avoiding large amounts of soy and corn.  So tonight I made a roast with home fries, spinach salad, and apple slices.  I have a few more new meals up my sleeve, but Caleb the Carbohydrate Kid pretty much thinks we are trying to kill him via starvation.  Time-outs were involved in our supper tonight.

Biggest drawbacks of today: we have killed Mommy.  Seriously.  I'm sitting in my bed numb.  Today was brought to you by a whole lot of Jesus and a grande coffee at 10:45 a.m., but I'm pretty sure the coffee gave out at 8:30 p.m. when I started going postal about messes, dirty laundry, dishes, and lists. Also, my girls.  My precious girlies felt today too.  Emily wouldn't let me out of her sight all evening without screaming.  And Laura started to cry when I was separated from her for TEN MINUTES this afternoon to feed the baby.  As amazing as it is to have places and special people for them to play with here, I'm going to need to find ways to incorporate them into our trips so that they get some special mommy time too.  We are up for recommendations of fun things to do with toddlers near the Jefferson Blvd. exit.

Biggest bonuses of today: Ben is off to a great start.  He is so pumped about his school, and I just feel like the next six months are going to be hard but totally worth it.  One of his former therapist called today, and when I mentioned that Ben had started at Brain Balance, she shared that she'd heard great things about it.  Phew.  Maybe we're not as crazy as we thought.  Nevermind.  We probably are.

Also, to those of you who have shared the great things you have heard about Brain Balance, THANK YOU!  It is amazing to know how many of you already have grandchildren, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances that have had their lives changed for the better through this treatment.  Also, to the many people who have written to me on FB, encouraged me at church, texted to remind me that you're praying, or just come up to give me a hug; thanks.  I need you.  A lot.  When the Lord promises that we will have everything we need for life and godliness, I am convinced that the Body of Christ is a huge part of that.  So thank you for sharing the grace you've been given.

Well, that's all the brain power I can muster for tonight.  Please keep praying with us as the Lord brings us to mind.  We love you and are grateful for you.

By His strength and grace, Krista

Friday, November 6, 2015


It all started a month ago with some brochures.  I was at a conference talking to a vendor about their "amazing, groundbreaking treatment" for kids with neurological disabilities (think ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, learning disabilities, OCD).  I stopped to chat with them because our sweet second son has sensory processing disorder, but I already knew what I would hear.  It would be the same thing I always heard.  "There is no cure."  "Here is another therapy that you can do for the next 13 years of your child's life to help with some of the symptoms."  But that's not what these ladies told me.  They said that this was a new treatment designed to target weaknesses in the brain.  It wasn't a cure-all, but there had been amazing results not behavioral band-aids.  Kids on the autism spectrum that no longer exhibited autism before. Say what??

It sounded too good to be true.  And I'm a skeptic.  And a judger.  I put the pamphlets in my bag and kept walking, but I couldn't get their comments out of my head.  I kept thinking about our son, Ben, and how much he struggles with everyday interactions and tasks.  The pamphlet came out at dinner as I talked to a friend whose son struggles with ADHD.  Was this a hoax or for real? Was this just one more way for parents with special needs kids to bleed money and time?
It feels like we've been through everything.  Allergy testing, elimination diets, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, surgeries for Ben's overactive immune system, developmental pediatricians.  Everything.  And yet there were so many quirks with Ben that were still going unaddressed, but I saw them.  My husband saw them.  And we were clueless to know what to do about them.  Those well-wishing people who continued to tell me that everyone learns to potty train by kindergarten just made me want to scream.  And then there was the pickle when the school system told us that Ben was too academically advanced for special needs preschool, but no private preschool in the area would accept him unless he was toilet trained.  And then there's the relational strain.  People we were close to have backed away because some of Ben's behaviors were not in-line with his age and are... well, socially inappropriate.  We know.  It's hard to tolerate.  Some days, it seems like he's almost the same as his peers.  Other days, the gap is so glaring that I don't know how we'll ever catch up.  And then kindergarten looms in the distance...

Fast forward two weeks as I was sitting at home listening to an online conference, where, lo and behold, one of the speakers was none other than the doctor who designed this new treatment for kids with behavioral diagnoses.  He had also brought a mom to present with him who had two sons complete his program with radical results.  So life-changing was this program in their own family that this family started up THREE of these treatment centers to serve other families in their community.  

As I listened to the seminar on my bed, I started crying.  The symptoms and struggles they were describing were ours.  If the research was correct and the results were for real, this could change my child's life forever.  These Brain Balance Centers were based on the principle that the two hemispheres of the brain don't always develop in sync.  When one side of the brain develops much more quickly, it interferes with overall neurological function and leads to the issues that our generation's children struggle with in epic numbers.  If we can stimulate the areas of the weaker side of the brain so they can catch up to the stronger hemisphere, the brain is able to function in sync.  Problems resolved by this treatment include autism (I know... it sounds crazy.), sensory issues, food sensitivities, impulsive behaviors, immune deficiencies, and so much more.  

I ran down the stairs and told my husband that he had. to. listen to this.  I needed to know if I was being crazy to even consider this.  It felt crazy.  It felt like a desperate mom just grasping for help in illogical ways.  Immediately, I bought Dr. Robert Melillo's book Disconnected Kids, and read it to see if the research and program really did seem as logical and promising as they seemed.  After reading through the initial pages on the method and research, I was at least convinced enough to call the center closest to me and find out about their initial evaluation.  

Bless that man's heart.  I asked a thousand questions, and he answered them all.  By the end of the conversation, we had set up a day for Ben to be evaluated for three hours the following week.  My husband and I would return to the center two days later to discuss the findings.  The cost for this evaluation: $150. 
Worst case scenario: we would waste money and time driving to Fort Wayne for a couple days.  
Best case scenario: we would start a journey toward helping our child take in and adapt to his world.

Ben's evaluation was this Wednesday.  As I drove to the evaluation, I talked to a friend on the phone and begged her to pray for discernment.  Something.  Even if it was just a vibe.  I was shaking as we finished our conversation.  I didn't even know what I was looking for.

Upon arrival, I was impressed by the center and the staff that we met.  They definitely had worked with challenging kids before and were committing to staying positive and proactive.  Ben was eased into his activities for the morning, and I was given a tablet with literally hundreds of behaviors to score on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not an issue for Ben, 10 being a severe issue).  My paperwork and behavior scoring took a little less than an hour.  Very thorough. Ben cooperated for a while in the evaluation and then decided to be ornery, but the staff didn't lose their cool.  He completed the testing in about two hours, and we were on our way home.  I had a very tired boy and no clear direction on what Friday would hold, but I just kept feeling like it was worth taking things one step further.

Today.  Oh today.  I've been a wreck.  Waiting for the test results.  Trying to think of all my questions.  Processing whether or not this whole crazy program could possibly be legitimate.  But after sitting down with the director of the center, my husband and I decided that our family would take another step forward and jump into the Brain Balance Center's 6-month program.  We start on Monday so I have no mind-blowing results to give you.  The only thing I possess is hope.  I have this strange, unwavering confidence that this new therapy will be worth driving an hour away three days a week so that my son can participate in this program.  

My heart is full of concerns.  How will this huge time commitment affect my other children?  What if we get to the end of the program and nothing has changed?  What if Ben fights us every stinking time that we go?  What if...???  But then a stronger voice in my head says, "What if this is the key to understanding your puzzling child?  What if this six months is the beginning of a healthier life for my child?  What if we never jumped and never knew how much better Ben could take in and participate in his world?"  

What if this day is the beginning of a whole new way of living for our son?

If you are thinking that we've been duped and are fools, I understand.  I'd probably think the same thing if I hadn't read the research and lived with Ben.  In so many ways, I am confidant that God knew what He was doing when He gave us Ben.  Benjamin has enabled us to look at other children and their parents and to know that we just don't know.  We don't know what it's like to live and teach that child.  We don't know what their personality is.  What their struggles are.  What their strengths are.  What their quirks are.  And we for sure don't know the answers to everyone's daily problems (aside from a relationship with Jesus Christ).  Ben has allowed us to have grace for others that we would never have possessed without him in our lives.  And for that, I am forever grateful.  But if we can make the everyday interactions of Ben's life easier, even lessen the affects of SPD (sensory processing disorder) in his days, it will be worth it.  Every minute spent, every mile traveled, every dollar paid.  

I know this is controversial, but regardless of agreeing with our choice, would you pray for us?  Would you pray for our family as we juggle this new schedule and the changes that this program requires?  Would you pray for Ben to become all that God created him to be?  And would you pray for our family as we share our experience with a world that is watching?  We want to be salt and light  whether that's around our table or sitting in a waiting room in Ft. Wayne.  And know that we appreciate you.  We would never even attempt to do all that we do without a loving community cheering, praying, carpooling, helping with childcare, and reminding us that if we're crazy then we are their kind of crazy.  We are jumping, holding onto Jesus with one hand and Ben with the other.  And only time will tell what's at the bottom.