wearetheparsons —> family bio picture
  • Welcome to our family blog!

    we are the parsons.
    a family of five.
    which just means our dining room table has old cereal remnants crusted onto it and an over abundance of salt spilt.
    also we love Jesus.
    we are glad you are here.
    get to know us more and leave us a note.
    you make a difference in our story, and your love and encouragement mean so much.

running through cemeteries and living stones . thoughts surrounding my dad’s birthday

The Spirit that is Holy spoke to me on a run this week. It spoke through yellows and oranges and reds. It spoke through last names I recognized, written on stones firmly planted. I wondered as I ran by, “I might know of your descendants. Just in case you were wondering, your great grandson is a successful photographer and lives on the west coast…just in case you were wondering, your granddaughter lost a baby a few years ago and today she is laughing again..” It spoke to me through words and visions in my own head. It spoke to me through the first stone I saw: She had been a beloved wife and a mother. She died one year older than I am right now. I wonder what she cooked for dinner the last night she was alive. I wonder if she had remembered to switch “the lights” from the washer to the dryer or if she kissed her husband before she fell asleep. It spoke to me through a man dressed in a suit and tie, ready for the work day yet hovering his body over a place in the ground, still. I think she went before him and I think he was not expecting that. His posture spoke, saying he was not expecting that. Don’t worry. . even when we are expecting it, it’s never easier. We still hover and weep and touch the cold stone with the name on it. As he stood there, the oranges and yellows showered his Toyota corolla.The man in the suit came alone and he would leave alone.

One of my favorite writers of the past few years, ND Wilson, says that he sees a farm land when he walks through a cemetery. I agree with him. Something in the deepest parts of me speaks and says these seeds planted dry and deep will burst out of the ground like surprise shoots after a long winter.

So I went for a jog through the fields where my “Last Will and Testament” says I am to be planted. A beautiful three year old girl I know is already planted deep in the dirt there. “she sure was a little sweetie” my ten year old recently said when remembering her out of nowhere.. “but God had other plans for her..” You are wise, Micah. I wonder what his plans are for me. When the life is gone from my bones and I am nothing but a seed, those who are left to survive me will put me in that same soil with all of those names and stories that are now told. And there will be a new stone that says “PARSONS” on it and those who love me will have fewer words than you can fit on a twitter update to tell generations to come what kind of woman I was, what kind of story I lived.

Today we would have been celebrating my dad’s birthday. “I would have been out shopping today getting his gift and getting ready for the big dinner..” my mom said to me on the phone earlier this week. Jeremy and the boys and I drove out to the cemetery where he is buried this morning, through rows and rows of soybeans and dried up harvested cornstalks to reach the farm where his seed sits, waiting for the resurrection. As we pulled up zion, who is three and is still learning to put words together to communicate his thoughts said, “papa…papa’s sleeping?..” .

Sometimes it feels like he fell asleep just last week but it’s already been four and a half years. And those years are going by furiously and fast like smoke right in front of our faces. Don’t even try to grab at it, you’ll just look crazy.

I jogged past the patches of grass that have yet to receive a stone in them. That ground has not yet been tilled but someday it will be, for me. Why is it we try so hard to breeze through life unconnected to the reality that we are all going to the same place? Why is it we hold our iPhones until they are hot in our hands and we pay the bills and we grind our coffee beans and we tell the kids to “stop hitting your brother!” and we open up another pack of american spirits and we push one another away over small and large grievances with no birds-eye view? I don’t know what my stone will say yet. I have no clue what yours will. But there, in tightly packed, perfect rows, lies what is physically left of my father. “home with Jesus. hope fulfilled.” The Spirit that is Holy reminded me of that this week. He reminded me of my fragility, my seed-ness, my soon-to-be field. He reminded me that two months ago today, he began something brand new in us for a reason. We are on a journey, my friends, and I hope and pray it is one we can share more and more of on this sweet little safe space that is our family blog. But for today, I will just say that the past four and a half years and the past two months, in particular, have reminded us that we are all seeds in the hand of the Farmer. He knows our fate and He is carefully planning out the fields and the harvest.

and today, we live!

“you. like living stones. are being built into a spiritual house.”
- 1 Peter 2:5

telling the story again…

hello, friend. xo
I found myself in another part of the world this past weekend. It’s an experience that has become quite familiar the past couple of years, as our wedding work has turned primarily to travel weddings. I was in the company of a very dear family and had the honor of being their shadow as they gave away their daughter in marriage. This family took such an interest in our story, and particularly in the part of our story that has involved zion.

I found myself telling them the story from the beginning and at every turn in the journey they would marvel at what God has done for us. I found myself saying things out loud that, five years ago, I never thought or could have imagined would be a part of my story. things like,

“his birthmother didn’t know she was pregnant…
he was three months premature..
he suffered two serious brain bleeds after birth and that lead to hydrocephalus..
he had been left in the nicu without a family for a month when we met and adopted him and he was only three pounds..
the doctors told us he would very likely never walk, talk, laugh, crawl, see or hear properly..
but we knew in our hearts he was our son and we were made to be his family.
when we finally brought him home to normal life, we realized he couldn’t hear.
he failed his hearing tests, our pastors came to our house and prayed for him and immediately it was clear he could hear…he passed his hearing tests..
we took the kids to colorado with us for a workshop and zion’s heart stopped..I did CPR on him in the back of the car while jeremy ran all the stoplights, getting us to the closest hospital within seconds of us losing zion.
workshop: cancelled.
he needed brain surgery..two days later he was strong enough and went in and out of surgery with no complications. a non-programmable VP shunt valve was installed in his brain.
he functioned much better after that surgery, and the strange thing about the shunt is that, while it keeps him alive, there is a certainty that one day it will break or malfunciton or he will outgrow it. the scary part about that is we have no control over the time or situation in which that happens, and we are told it could look similar to our experience in Colorado..we live in the tension of fearing the possibilities, but trusting God..
He has overcome so many of the odds. He has Cerebral Palsy, which mostly shows up in his legs with spacticity and tone problems, so he wears orthodics to help with that and will be undergoing botox and casting in just ten days to try and prevent him from walking on his toes and needing surgery ..
He has learning delays and tested out at a 14 month old level at the beginning of the year, but he is in a special needs preschool two days a week where he is growing and challenged and helped by specialists and therapists.. it’s a very expensive school and the only way we could ever have him there is because dear friends and strangers from all over the world gave to a fund to help pay for zion’s school…
and he is the. most. beautiful. boy. on the face of the earth.
he has changed us.
he has shown us what really matters and what really doesn’t.
he has been one of God’s greatest gifts to our life.”

And it’s true. It’s all a true story.
I just sit here and marvel because – yes, zion is a beautiful spirit living inside of a broken body but – God has shown himself to be near, beautiful, creative, powerful, loving, and faithful. He has shown us that his love and care are better than any kind of false control or security that we spin the earth on our index finger. And I, for one, really thought that I did most days.

I just want to say, to whoever of you dear few friends read this – if you have had any, ANY part in this story we are living out with zion – whether that is praying for him during his surgery, pastoring us, bringing us meals, visiting us in the hospital when he is in there for another asthma scare, or giving very sacrificially and generously out of your own pocket to help us put zion in the special needs preschool, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. If we could, honestly, we would sit down with each and every one of you, look into your eyes with tears in ours, and tell you that it made a difference, it is making a difference. You have changed our lives, and you may never fully know or see how, but you have.

We go into the next phase of zion’s CP treatments with botox for the first time in ten days – October 24th. The doctors will inject botox into his calf muscles to temporarily deaden the muscles so they will be able to stretch and cast his feet at the angle where zion could have the best chances of learning to walk and run properly, without doing long term damage to his joints. It’s a temporary fix, but all of his doctors have been pushing for this for a long time and, as one of them most recently said, “botox could mean the difference between zion not being able to walk the length of his high school when he is a ninth grader, and being able to walk around normally without other kids even knowing he has CP.” so, we are going into uncharted waters again, and would love your prayers and love and support in a time when we will most likely be dealing with a very confused, big, baby boy who doesn’t understand what is happening to him and why.

Again, thank you. really. I know most of you who will read this and I love you dearly. And if I don’t know you, I love you for reading this far and caring for our family in seen and unseen ways. We are strengthened and hopeful that God has given us all we need in Him to walk these paths with joy and purpose. thank you for walking with us.

ash (and jer and the boys)

Happy first day of school, Zion!

I hardly can believe I’m saying it, and I will probably cry about fifteen times during the course of typing this, but this morning, zion got up, put on his new red backpack and we took him to school for the very first time. All five of us held hands and walked into the therapeutic special needs school, into a classroom with little ones who are just like him, and gave him hugs and said goodbye for the day. If you have been following this journey, you know what a huge and miraculous and incredible thing this is. As of just a couple of months ago, we had been told that he needed the therapies and interventions of this school to help with his many ongoing needs. The next two years in this school would help continue to care for his CP, his developmental delays, and his medical needs in a way that will hopefully get him ready to be in a real elementary school classroom someday.

the only problem: the cost is high and we don’t have the means to send him. Or we didn’t, until you came into the story. Over the course of the past month, we have been blown away to see that person after person – friends and strangers alike – have come out of the woodwork to give to our family so that zion can attend this school and get the care he needs and deserves. Although we don’t have all the funds needed for the next two years at this school, we have enough for him to start part-time now and there was an opening in a classroom this month so we took the leap.

This is a really happy day. I keep telling myself that. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the breeze is rustling the trees. This is not a day for tears, and yet I can’t stop crying. His teacher offered for me to be able to stay at the school for awhile this morning and watch how he did from the observation room. I was so happy and agreed, but quickly realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

This is my baby. This is my youngest son who I held when he was three pounds, and now he’s three years old. This is the love of my life who I have held in hospital rooms and hugged when he’s sad. This is the baby I did CPR on in the back of a van speeding through stoplights on the way to a hospital because he wasn’t breathing. This is the child who I have had to restrain and be a human straight jacket for, because of his epic tantrums and serious sensory needs (yup, parenting a special needs child is really messy sometimes). This is the little one who just recently started to put words together, and some of the ones he says to me the most are, “i need hug.” his laughter is my oxygen, and his scent is my drug. He is light and life and power and presence of God to me and to our family. I don’t want to sacrifice a single minute with him.

And yet, I know I am out of my league here. There are things zion needs that we just can’t give him. We don’t have the training, the equipment, the expertise to give him. Yes, I believe fully that God equipped us to be his one and only family, and for me to be his mom. But now, because of this school, I get to just be his mom. Not also his teacher, therapist, and behavioral psychologist. I am mommy, and he is my baby.

I ended up sitting in the observation room doing an ugly cry. In one breath, I was thanking God that you dear hearts have been so generous to our family and given us a grace gift we do not deserve and could never earn. In another breath, I was hurting over our little baby going into a big world without me to hold his hand for the very first time. “why is that little kid trying to steal zion’s backpack?!” “why is the teacher pronouncing his name like that?” [sidenote, for anyone who has ever wondered, it's pronounced zion, like lion with a z.] “why are they making him drink milk? I should have told them he doesn’t drink milk..” “what if he falls backwards on his shunt in that chair while no ones watching?” I eventually, wiped my tears away, turned the sound off, and left the school. This is where he is supposed to be, and two days a week, I am going to have to let go and trust that he will be ok.

I went to the Y, and had a moment in my turbo kick class – unlikely place for a revelation – where the Spirit spoke to my heart reminding me, “I’ve got this. I’ve been the one holding zion together since day one, not you. trust me.” I saw my friend, Jessi, right afterwards. I cried again. And then she – a former special education teacher, and one of the smartest people on the planet – reminded me: “you are a good mama. early intervention is crucial. It’s proven by research to be so beneficial. you made the right choice.”

I needed to hear that. So I cried some more on the way home and now shed a few more tears on our porch as I tell you this – thank you. from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. For all you’ve given so far, for the love and compassion you have showed us, and for continuing to hold us in your prayers as we go forward.

happy first day of school, baby zion. mommy loves you, and I can’t wait to give you a hug after school is over.

overwhelmed with thankfulness, and asking for you to join us!

The morning after I wrote the post below about zion and our journey lately with his diagnosis and needs, I got an email from our dear friend, Kristin Moore, who we met at one of our workshops. She and her family felt moved to set up a fundraising site for zion to help cover the costs of his schooling for the next two years and any extra therapy/medical costs that are heading our way as we walk this new road.

Knee-jerk reaction in the back of my mind: “um. I don’t think so. I don’t want to be in need. we can handle this on our own.”

the only problem with that is – we can’t. we can’t afford his school and therapy costs for the next two years, and our son has a need, a big one with a lot of zeros behind it. And in the past few days as we have talked and prayed about this kind offer, we can’t help but realize that, although it is really really difficult to accept help, it is a beautiful thing to walk a hard road knowing that we aren’t alone. God shows up in our lives in the most unexpected and peculiar ways. We are coming to terms with the fact that although we can’t change zion’s prognosis, we can love him as he is and accept the generosity and love of others to see him thrive – even in his current state. The Moore family has begun sharing the site, and we are coming to the place of just being incredibly grateful that someone would think to love our family in this way. So, it is with humility that we share it with you dear ones here.

y’all are some of our nearest and dearest. you are the people who have sat teary eyed in hospital rooms with us, cried at your computer as you connect to our story, or prayed for us in the quiet rooms of your hearts. we love you and are thankful for you, and now we need you to continue giving zion the care he needs for the next two years.

The site she has set up has a financial goal listed – this goal would cover the costs of 70% of zion’s school and therapies at that school for the next two years. Our family is trusting God to provide that and the remainder we need out of our pocket to cover these expenses. If you are interested in helping us, we say “YES!” and “THANK YOU” from the bottom of our hearts. we hope to see zion in this school and to be able to share with all of his supporters that we are seeing progress and growth and health in our wonderful baby boy, and to someday say: “IT’S ALL HAPPENING BECAUSE OF YOU!” so much thanks to the Moore family for your love and your huge hearts in joining with us on this road.

click on the image below and it will take you to the site.
and if you want to talk more with us directly about zion’s story and his needs, email us anytime at hello@wearetheparsons.com.
with love from us all,
the parsons family

eating my feelings, loving our baby, and trusting God with it all…

I’m not gonna sugar coat this, the past few weeks have added up to this being a difficult season. It’s a season of eating my feelings, and unfortunately for the first time in my life, those feelings taste like sugar and come in the form of mexican cokes (made with real sugar), ice cream sandwiches, and a bowl of golden crisp late every night. I recently turned to Jeremy around 11pm on one such night and asked, “so I guess the fact that the mascot of this cereal is actually a “sugar bear” means I might be making the wrong choice here…” He looked at me as if to say “um. what’s my line here?” and then avoided eye contact. I still ate the cereal.

I’ve found myself not only eating my feelings, but numbing them. Sometimes, I just don’t want to be a grown up and I want all the grown up things about life to go away. Remember peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when you didn’t have to eat the crust, little thermos cups filled with hot soup in your school lunch, and no bills? I do! And I want to go back! ok, maybe not really. I didn’t wear my braces and scrunchies as well as I thought I did. But oh my goodness, this grown up gig is really hard sometimes, and – despite a big piece of artwork hanging in my living room telling me we can – sometimes I just don’t feel like I can do this. Jeremy shares my sentiments often, and we both sit there giving each other “this is hard” type glances.

Don’t worry, we aren’t sitting around in my house with the blinds drawn, listening to iron and wine and writing in our journals about the dark nothingness. we don’t own blinds and who has time for music when you spend most of your free time watching Brooklyn 99 (actually hilarious), Downton Abbey (re-runs), The Following (oh my gosh so intense, we can’t hardly get through the first season!), 24 die another day (OMG, Jack is SO back), Moone Boy (amazing), and playing 2048 (the commercial for this game would go something like “don’t feel like you’re wasting enough of your precious life away on social media? well, then PLAAAYYY 2048!!!!”). Get it? numbing. numb. ing.
because in the past few weeks, we have learned a couple of things that change our lives:

Zion has officially been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Zion’s brain is testing out at a one year old level average. He turns three on monday.

There it is. The cursor is flashing here waiting for me to type something really brilliant here, but I can’t help but just let it flash and read the words, let them sink in.

We had two very opposite reactions to this news in the past couple of weeks. The first came in the form of something like “ok. well, you knew this was probably going to be his diagnosis, so does this even change anything?” the other in the form of “Oh my gosh! This is huge news! We will be praying for you and for him in this time.” To the first, I said something like “yeah, it doesn’t change much at all.” We have a son who is in 3-4 therapies per week and whose regular routine includes Children’s Mercy Hospital. We have a son who has been keeping this schedule ever since he could participate. We have a son who suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth and has been through two brain surgeries and is looking at the promise of more in his future and frequently has MRI’s and visits to his neurosurgeons office. Yeah. No big deal. LOL, whatevs. This doesn’t change a thing.

But the truth is, this is a really big deal. It’s a big deal to me because I’m his mom and he’s my son and I am reminded once again that my son is not well. And if you are a parent, you know that changes some things. And sometimes, it’s just nice to hear someone respond in a way that shows me they have empathy, that shows me that they get that this would really hurt sometimes if they were having to watch their baby face so much opposition just to function and progress semi-normally. It’s nice to have someone give us space to recognize that, although zion is a little walking miracle, he still has a very broken body and brain that will not function “normally” in the way his older brother’s or his dad and mine does. It’s nice to have someone acknowledge that this is a big deal, because it feels like a big deal to me lately. And I’m talking hours of hulu+netflix and boxes of the sugar bear’s magic potion big deal.

Jeremy said it well a few nights ago… “In the course of the past two weeks, I feel like we have been thrown into the deep end of a pool and have realized we don’t actually know how to swim.” With the diagnosis and the test results came the full time jobs of parent/advocate – many more meetings, trainings, phone calls, letters written and battles fought – all trying to get our sweet boy the care he needs and deserves to have, the care that might make the difference of whether or not he grows up to function well in his world, and the care that the state / school district really doesn’t want to have to pay for. You guys, this stuff is a lot of work. And it’s more evidence reminding me of the real reason I am eating my feelings via calories and streaming megabytes:

We have no control here. We don’t hold the cards. We don’t get to call all the shots. We can’t predict the future or change the past. We can’t even change the hearts of the social workers so they want to help our son instead of just win the money battle. We can’t make $700 appear magically each month so we can send him to the school where his therapies would continue and he could be around other kids like him. We look at the sign on my wall and realize it’s not completely true. because We can’t do this. The only way we are going to keep zion alive, parent zion well, and see his needs met is if God does all of this for us and through us – moving mountains we can’t move, and giving hope we can’t find within our own efforts. Or, as we say a lot in this house:

We can do this…with God’s help. and maybe a bowl or two of golden crisp.

if you are reading this, it means you love us and you know us / our story well. we would love and ask for your prayers –
1. for zion to continue to heal and progress after his surgery this past week.
2. for the school district to miraculously change their minds and agree to contract with the special needs preschool that zion’s doctors have all said he needs to attend. (we are trying to schedule another meeting and have letters from his doctors and therapists to help our case).
3. if they won’t change their minds, that God would provide the money for zion’s tuition.
that we won’t lose heart, and will be able to see the beautiful and always gracious hands of God caring for us, here and now.

thanks for listening and for being here, it means a lot to me and to us.