For the love of Parenting: Episode 05

Purposeful Parenting: Two Determined Mamas Talk Fostering, Adoption, and Special Needs

Our Parenting series wraps up with an episode that our tribe has requested overwhelmingly. As parents, we are all doing the best we can to raise great kids. But what about the challenges we didn’t expect? What about the kids who have been left behind? This week, we talked to two mamas who gave us insight into a whole other realm of parenting that requires a special resilience. Jami Amerine and her husband Justin have six kids; four biological, and two adopted. Jami tells us about her beautiful but heart-wrenching experience with foster and adoption, why she refers to her youngest kids as the #vandals, and how God is helping her family write a redemption story through loss. Diane Dokko Kim and her husband Eddie have two sons, Jeremy and Justin. In 2004, two-year-old Jeremy was diagnosed with autism and ADD/ADHD. Diane tells us about her personal and family crises after her son’s diagnosis, how she and her husband have maintained a healthy marriage throughout, and how we can be better friends and neighbors to families with special needs. And lest you think this episode is heavier than most, stay till the end to hear the most hilarious #MomFail we’ve ever heard on the podcast (which happened only an hour before recording!).

Transcript from the show

Narrator:  Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people, every week, on this podcast. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoy the show.
Jen:  Hey, everybody. It's Jen Hatmaker, your happy hostess of the For the Love Podcast. You guys, we're at the end of our For the Love of Parenting series, and it’s been just such a treat for me to talk to . . . well, really all kinds of experts about all the stages and nuances of that never-dull world of parenting.

As you know, we wrap every series with a guest nominated by you, our very amazing listening community. As usual, you did not disappoint on this series. You guys came out in full-force with your nominations: people who are living their awesome lives, and doing their thing in this parenting space, and inspiring you throughout a variety of stories. It was pretty awesome. We were introduced to such great people through your nominations, so I really want to recommend—to you, listening right now—that you jump over to my Facebook page after you listen to this show. Amanda will have this linked up in the transcript. Just read all of the wonderful stories that were shared with us about parents you were nominating. So many amazing people to get acquainted with, and to put on your radar and to follow.

Honestly, the team and I were talking, we were like, "I wish we could have a hundred of the nominated parents to close out this series," because there were so many great examples. We were unable to just pick one. I do want you to know that we have two. As is the case often, on the crowd-sourced episode, I just can't choose. It's one episode, but we've got two guests on it.

Part 1: jami amerine

I am delighted by our first guest on the show today. You've told us over and over again that we need to get to know her, and I can already tell she's like my soul sister here.
This is Jami Amerine. She's a writer, she's a wife, she's a mom. She lives in north Houston. She and her husband, Justin, have six kids—count 'em, six. Maggie, 23; John, 20; Luke, 18; Sophie, 16; Sam, 6; and Charlie, 4. Their oldest four are biological, the youngest two, Sam and Charlie, are adopted. So obviously we had plenty to talk about.
Jamie is the author of two books. Her first is called Stolen Jesus, and it came out last fall. Her next one is called Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors. LOL.
My kids, by the way, tell me that I cannot say LOL out loud, that it can only be typed. But you know what? They are not my bosses.

Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, it comes out this October.

So I loved talking to Jami. You're gonna love this conversation. We really unpacked some of the hilarity of parenting, and also some of the really hard parts about foster and adoption, and the beautiful parts of it, and what its taught us, and what we've learned. You're just gonna love it. You're gonna love her.

Without any further ado, let me introduce you to our first guest on today's episode, Jami.

Jami, I am thrilled that you've joined us for the parenting series. Welcome to the show.

Jami: Thank you, I'm super excited.
Jen: I'm getting to know you through your book and your social channels, and I can positively see why so many of our listeners nominated you for this. We are very kindred in many, many, many ways, both parenting and personality.

I've told our audience already a little bit about you, but for the listeners who are maybe just meeting you, I wonder if you could give everybody the 411 version of who you are, and a little bit about your family.

Can you please introduce everybody to the Vandals and Teen Baby, and Lady Baby, and, oh, the Yoga Boy and Marine Baby. You’ve got a tribe.

Jami: I do.

Jen: Could you just jump in and give us the details?

Jami: Yes. My name is Jami Amerine, like you said. I'm an accidental author, married to Justin, who's as cute as can be, a cowboy-ish guy from Texas.

We have four biological children. The Lady Baby is Maggie, and she is married, they live here in Houston near us. Then John is a Marine, he's our Marine Baby. He hates me and had to become a Marine. Who does that?

Jen: That's so mean. What a disobedient child.

Jami: Then Luke is our 18-year-old, and he just finished his yoga training. We call him the Hippie Baby.

Jen: Those are amazing.

Jami: Sophie is our 16-year-old. She's a genius, and I do rant anybody that, because people are always like, "You must be so proud." I'm like, "Literally, it was like a science experiment gone wrong." Nobody else in our family has these powers to move stuff around the room, and play the piano by ear.

Jen: Oh!

Jami: She's our Teen Baby, she's a hoot.
Then we increased our numbers with adoption. Sam, we adopted, just a straight open . . . was supposed to be open. Actually, it is closed now, but he was 10-days old when we met him for the first time. And then we decided he was much younger than everybody else and he needed a playmate, so we decided to naively jump into foster-to-adopt, which I thought meant “foster and adopt.”

Jen: Right.

Jami: That's not what it means, just for the record.
And we got Charlie, and we call Sam and Charlie the #vandals on social media. I get emails from the church lady saying, "You shouldn't speak that over them." I'm like, "I'm not speaking it over, I'm telling you, they're vandalizing stuff."

Jen: It's just a description, not, like, prescribing their life. "I'm just telling you what's up."

Jami: "I'm just telling you that they just put another 5-pound bag of sugar in the toilet, and the air-conditioner's raining.”
Jen: Right, right. “What do you want me to call them?” Oh my gosh.

Jami: Yeah. I'm not trying to ruin their lives, I'm just telling them like it is.

Jen: Right.

Jami: We did foster care. Our foster license right now is on hold. We moved to the Houston area last year during the hurricane, just to keep things nice and jazzy.

Jen: Wow!
Jami: We've had the little one with us for two years, Joy Baby, #joybaby. She left . . . went home to Mama after . . . it was right at almost two years last year. Same time that John left for the Marines.

Jen: Let's talk about that for a minute. Let's talk a little bit about your path into foster and adoption space. I read that you talk about a dream that you had about a baby girl named Allison. I wonder if you can tell us about that dream? And what you think it meant, and how it sort of ultimately led you on this journey?

Jami: We had been through just a really hard season. My husband's father had died of West Nile virus, and then almost immediately after that, his older brother and business partner and our neighbor on our ranch, was killed in a car accident. We just had this really hard, hard season.

I look back on it now, Jen, and I just can see God all over in what He was going to show me. But at the time, this is what I believed. Somebody came up to me at Josh's funeral and said, "You need to pay attention to what you're doing, because God must be trying to show you something."

I was like, "Yeah. Something must be amiss."

I attribute that to what I call an “if-then” Jesus. If you do this, then this happens. If you do good, then good happens. If you do bad, then bad happens. And I also call it “trying to catch up to the cross.” Pay 'em back, or pay it forward.

Jen: That's right. Debtors' mentality.

Jami: Yes.

Jen: Always trying to earn it.

Jami: Yeah, yeah. We didn't live next to a volcano, whence I could throw virgins into, so I went, "We'll adopt a baby."

Jen: Sure, yeah.

Jami: Then we’ll serve the least of these.
I had this dream that this little girl said, "Good morning, Mommy," and I said, "Good morning, Allison."

And I called Justin, and I went, "I want to adopt a baby.

He went, "I'll call you back," and hung up on me.

Jen: Right. Essentially what Brandon Hatmaker said to me when I said that.

Jami: Yeah.

Jen: "New phone, who dis?"

Jami: He called me right back, and he said, "I understand what you're saying. I understand where you're coming from, but I've just been through this horrible thing, and I can't do this. I will call our lawyer and ask him which agency to use, but that's it, Jami. I can't be full-on with this right now."

So he called, and he said, "You have to remember, this could take months for this lawyer to call me back. They just don't take calls . . . they don't call back. And he called me back within like three minutes, and he said, “Christian Homes."

Jen: Sure.

Jami: I said, "He called you back?" And he said, "He answered the phone, his secretary picked up their son from Christian Homes yesterday." And nine months from that day, we met Sam.

But the name Allison was always there, but it evaded me.

I was like, "Why would he say that?" and then I knew Sam was ours. That was our son. I looked into it, and it meant "of noble birth." And in this journey from that time, what I realize, all the things that He set me up for . . . all these . . . Every desire in my heart to serve single mothers, my love for children, my love for mamas, in general, was this message of a noble birth. That is that we are of noble birth as believers. We are part of a restoration story. He has restoration in mind for all of us.

It's so dear to me, and it's hard to actually be here saying these things to you and not have a foster child in our home right now. But we've been through this season where there was the removal and people have questioned that. That's one thing that always comes up. "I'm afraid I'll get hurt," is the one that always comes up.

I am so glad that I did what I did the first time that I heard about Charlie, because now I can speak with authority to this. "I'm so afraid I'll get hurt." And we got the call. "We have a little boy, and he's alone, three-months-old at the hospital, and he's injured. Will you come sit with him?"

I said, "Is he adoptable?"

And she said, "I don't know, Jami, but he's here alone and he's hurt." I was so undone by the fact that I was . . . a “no” for me at that place was a no from fear, and a yes to a lack of belief.

Jen: Right.

Jami: I feel like we're missing out on restoration for ourselves and for these families. I said no, and then I hung up the phone and turned around, and Justin was there. And he was, like, "What are you doing?" So we went and that's how we ended up with Charlie.

Jen: How long ago was that?

Jami: That was in March of 2014.
Jen: Right. Okay, so at that time you guys already had . . . you had four kids, which is already kind of a lot. And they were all like teens and tweens, right?

Jami: Mm-hmm.

Jen: You guys come home and you're like, "Surprise, baby time!" How did your big kids receive this news? Also, what did your friends and your family say about it?

Jami: Our kids were all on. They loved it. I think one of the best things about it, having little kids when you have big kids. There's a level of compassion that you can instill in your children by being around little people. I always say that when it comes to bullying or anything, we just need to bring babies in, because they just do something. It was just healing, and it was wonderful.

My family and Justin's family were both at first, like, "What are you doing?"

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Jami: Because it was not something that anybody on either side of our family had done. Too, initially, my dad was, like, "I have a friend that's daughter has lost six foster kids." There's always those—

Jen: Horrible stories.

Jami: "What are you doing?" Yeah. Our friends, I think the hardest thing was our friends. Justin just turned 50, and so we get on Facebook and our friends are in Cancun, and we go, "Oh, Cancun . . ." and we're cutting crust off sandwiches and unclogging the toilet again.

Jen: Totally. Right, trying to find grapes and forks.

Jami: Yeah.

Jen: Yes, exactly.

Jami: I'm still dicing grapes, I know.

Jen: Right.
Jami: Yeah. There's that, but they give us a breath of fresh air in so many ways. It was a breath of fresh air, not only just with the kids, but I'm naïve in this way, I had no idea. They'd kind of said that the birth families wouldn't want to interact with you, but I was, like, "Why? Why wouldn't she want to be friends with me?"

Jen: Mm-hmm.

Jami: They didn't, but some of them did. We still have contact with Charlie's family.

Jen: I love that.

Jami: Yeah.

Jen: I identify with that. This has been a real key part of our adoption story, too. When we went into adoption, and, of course, our stories are similar and different, in that we had an international adoption. But my initial . . . I went into the adoption world so green, absolutely naively and dangerously green. And so my thought was, Oh, well, when you go into adoption, you adopt orphans that don't have parents.

Jami: Mm-hmm.

Jen: They're all alone in the world, there's nobody, there is no safety net, there is no extended family. That was what I expected to find, and, of course, in the world almost all of the world's orphans have at least one living parent.

Jami: Mm-hmm.

Jen: Both here and abroad. That was the case for both of my children, they're not biologically related, but they both had one living parent and family, and this community. It was way more complicated, in our case, poverty-driven, than anything else.

I want to unpack that with you for a second 'cause a couple of years ago you wrote a little bit about what life has been like since you went to pick up Sam and bring him home. And you touched on something that, for obvious reasons, resonates with me and probably with a lot of adoptive mommas. This is what you wrote:
"This day, I wonder about his birth mom, and I pray she is well. I wish we could talk. I'm grateful for her bravery and love. But I most think of her on Saturday mornings. Any given Saturday morning, she crosses my mind. I picture her making pancakes, cartoons blaring in the background, her other children wrestling on the rug. And I wonder if on Saturdays if she thinks of Sam too. No rushing around to get the kids to school, no buses to catch or lunches to pack and I wonder if she dreads Saturdays when there's more time to think."
I appreciate you writing that and want you to know that with these sorts of thoughts and this knowledge is the stuff that took our breath away in adoption. And as we began to really deeply understand that adoption, all of it, it begins with loss. I mean, are there beautiful parts that unfold? Yes, undoubtedly so, but it all begins with loss. And it's the kids' loss, and it's their parents, their birth parents' loss, and sometimes those losses just compound.

And so I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about the birth moms and the connection that you do or don't keep 'cause there's advantages and disadvantages there, and there's wonderful things and hard things about that and your relationship with them. And I'm thinking about some of our listeners who are thinking, This piece feels too scary. This part where there's a mom or there's a dad or both in the picture, and I don't . . . I either totally don't want to be connected, or I totally do want to be connected. Either way, I'm afraid.

I just wonder if you can talk a little bit more about that in your experience and your perspective.
Jami: So I've always said the same thing about foster-adoption, and foster-adoption most certainly always begins with a tragedy. You have this sweet, tender story that we tell about Sam's last interaction with his birth mother. She did choose not to have any contact with us and I do . . . I do wish that I had that. I see him do things, and there's somebody I want to share that with, and I know that not everybody feels that way. But because I do have such a heart for mommas, I think about her. And I've had people say stuff like, "She was not from here. She was from Mexico, and well it's different." No.

Jen: No, it's not.

Jami: No, it's not. She was his mother, and she made a huge sacrifice because she was worried about her other children's wellbeing, and she wanted something better for him. That's not different. That's exactly what motherhood is.

Jen: Right.

Jami: And it has kind of a sweet story that goes along with it that we are able to share with him.

And Charlie's story isn't like that. And we do have contacts with the brothers and grandmothers and things like that, but it's a harder story. It's a heavier story. But I am . . . In the process of all of this, what I've come to know and understand, and I think is so imperative for our Christian community to understand, is that we serve a God of restoration. And when we choose to believe that He's fully good, He's not out to get us, He's not out to teach us something harsh, but that He's inviting us to be restored and be part of restoration, to be His hands and feet and to let others be His hands and feet to us.

And I have a great amount of peace about raising these two boys with this hard beginning, this hard story, this story of loss. And I feel confident, and maybe it's foolish, but I feel confident that my confidence in their restoration story and their God will play a huge part in the confidence that they have in who they are in Christ and why they were adopted and why we're all adopted.
Jen: I agree, and one thing that we've learned . . .

So we adopted Ben and Remy when they were eight and five, and now they are 15 and 12. So we've had them for seven years. And one thing I've learned with them as we've walked through so many stages of grief and loss, and then we've watched how sort of grief goes through a new iteration once you hit adolescence that you weren't able to process when you were five.

Jami: Right.

Jen: Now we're in the sort of their teen stage of processing their stories, and we keep it really open. I mean, we go back to Ethiopia about every year. And last time we took Ben with us to see his mom, and we're deeply in connection with her family and also with Remy's. And that has been a real beautiful bright spot in the story and so much restoration, to your word. I mean, I could talk for a hundred hours about it, but almost miraculous and extraordinary and wonderful.

But one thing I've learned from my kids, because I think a lot of parents listening think, Well I . . . What will I do? I will do this. I will do this adoption. I will bring in these kids. I will rescue. I will love them. I will help restore them.

And really that's not true. We're way less centered in the story than the narratives that make everybody think, This is a Big White Momma's adoption story. That's actually not the case at all. We've learned a lot from our kids, and we've learned a lot from their birth cultures and their birth families.

And specifically to my kids' point is, we've watched them work really hard on pain and tension. And we've watched them work on grief and resiliency and being able to hold two things in each hand, that This part of life was really hard and really sad, and still is. And this part of my life is really happy and really connected and really wonderful, and that's all true all at the same time.

And so I'm not convinced that pain is the worst thing that a parent can think of when it comes to our kids, and I think that's what we're wanting to avoid at all costs. How can I avoid pain? Maybe foster and adoption is just too much. Here, I just can't handle it all.

But it's been a great teacher in our family.

Jami: Yes.

Jen: A really wonderful teacher, and we've learned kind of to lean into it together as a family, and my kids have taught me a lot.

I remember one time when I was tucking Ben into bed and we had just recently . . . we had just found out that his mom had remarried, which we'd known, but we had found out that day that she was pregnant. And before then, Ben was an only child. And she was pregnant and in such a stable place and healthy and renewed in so many ways. And it was a really hard day, and it was really, really hard on Ben.

And I remember going up to his bed that night, and I just sat with him. And I said, "Bud, I just . . . How are you feeling? 'Cause all your feelings are valid today,"

And he said, "Mom, I think I'm just . . ." And this is a kid who at the time was probably . . . I mean honestly, he was probably 10. And he said, "I think I'm just gonna have to learn in my life how to be happy and sad all at the same time."

And I thought, That kid's teaching his mom a lesson.

And so . . . Thank you for letting me just . . . I haven't told that story in a really long time.
But you said that when you entered in the process of foster care and adoption, you had this feeling like you're serving God. Right? Essentially by opening your home and your heart to Sam and to Charlie. But you've since come to look at it differently, and I know I have too. So I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about that evolution.

Jami: I remember one of the . . . I think one of the biggest monumental changes in my understanding of God was when we thought we were gonna lose Charlie. And we'd had him a long time, and we didn't have the funds to intervene, and he was gonna probably go somewhere that we were not going to be able to ever see him again. And I was at the police station in my pajamas.

Jen: Oh, gosh.

Jami: Filling out a missing person report 'cause one of our kids stole my car.

Jen: Oh, goodness.

Jami: But it was like this gut wrenching moment of, Who am I? What am I doing? 'Cause I'm a foster mom and adoptive, and then I've got a juvenile delinquent on the loose, and I'm standing here with no bra and in my pajamas, crying.

And I went home and ate half a gallon of ice cream on my closet floor and just sobbed. I felt like everything was so out of control.

And I said out loud to God, "How are you gonna pick? My life is a mess. I just binge-ate Ben & Jerry's. My kid’s missing. I'm about to lose this little boy, who’s gonna wake up in somebody else's house and wonder where that crazy woman went that loved him. And I love you, and I'm serving you. Who are you gonna pick? Because I know Charlie's family really has hit a hard season, but I know they love you. I know they know about you, and I know you want restoration. Who are you gonna pick?"

I all but audibly . . . it was like my rock bottom.

And I audibly heard Him say, "I picked all of you. I picked all of you." It was me learning He picked all of us.

And I think that we get so caught up in the guarding of our hearts and, Be careful, be careful, be careful, and the fear of grief, which is why I love what you said of what Ben said. Because I've been saying this for two years, and I can't even recognize myself when I say this, but grief is the celebration of a loss. It's a celebration. It's an emotion that He gave us so that we could go through all of the things with Him, in the arms of God that adores us and wants restoration for us.

And it's not about what we can do to make one thing go one way, or one thing go the other way. It wasn't Ben & Jerry's or crack cocaine. It wasn't who was better or what . . . It was how the restoration story was gonna go, and it was believing Him that then allowed us to say yes to Joy Baby. We knew that there was risk. We knew that it was gonna be hard, but He was so magnificent in all of it. And still looking back on it, I just . . . I'm just in awe of what He set free and me through foster care and adoption.
Jen: That's so good. It's so true. And there's no way of even knowing what's on the other side of that yes, on the other side of that leap. We couldn't possibly know, but there is this faith moment where you're like, There's something so wonderful and healing and restoring and beautiful on the other side of this. I don't know what it's gonna be, and some of it's gonna include loss and sadness and grief too. But it's all still worth the yes. And I would absolutely co-sign on that message. That's been our experience too.

So let me ask you this. So let's helicopter up just a bit and just talk parenting for a minute.

Jami: Okay.

Jen: So what's it been like now to parent kids in such different stages in life? I never did this. All my kids are two years younger than the one ahead of them. So it's just like this pack of wolves, right? They're all kind of the same. And so you've got the Vandals down at the bottom, and then you've got these grown children up at the top. So how is it different for you parenting the littles at this stage in your life rather than the first round?

Jami: Parenting . . . I always . . . I liken it to writing. I've unraveled so many things about myself by writing, but the truth is that that's with parenting too. You bring home this newborn, and you've got your book of how you're gonna do it. You have no idea what's gonna happen and you have no idea.

Jen: Totally.

Jami: And so that actually fascinates me too, because people say that, "Well what if they grow up and dah, dah, dah, dah?"

And I'm like, "Your own kid could do that."

Jen: Well, what if they do? Right.

Jami: Your biological children are just as likely to steal a school bus as your adopted children.

Jen: I mean, totally. Yes.

Jami: And so it's that idea of wrapping your mind around all of us are broken, and all of us are capable of just about anything. But there was humanity in my parenting. I think that was more obvious because I wasn't super, super confident.

Jen: Yes.

Jami: But we . . . I loved being a mom, even though I wasn't positive that I was great at it. I loved it. And I still love it. It's funny, it's fun.

Jen: Funny, funny, funny. I mean, are you kidding me? I built a whole career on this stuff.

Jami: I know, right?

Jen: Sometimes people are like, "Why do you have so many kids?" I'm like, "Well, at the bare minimum, it's material." Just at the rock bottom of it all, it's content. So I mean, every day's hilarious. And that age that they are, gold.

Jami: Oh, I know.

Jen: And you know, the second go-around, you just enjoy it. You know it's all gonna be okay, it's gonna work out. They're gonna grow up. It's gonna be fine. And now you're not . . . I mean, I would for sure be a more chill mom right now if I started over. Than I was at 23 when I had a baby and raised them by the book, oh my gosh. So I love it so much.

Jami: Oh yeah, much more.
Jen: So we're gonna wrap this up. These are just some quick, rapid-fire questions that we have asked everybody in the parenting series.

So tell us, just top of your head, something your parents used to say, that you're like, "I'm totally not gonna say that. And I'm never gonna say that," and you say it?

Jami: The Christmas threat. "I'm gonna cancel Christmas! If you don't stop, I'm gonna can . . . " And I was like, "That's so lame, you can't cancel Christmas."

Jen: It's just so easy to reach for.

Jami: It is.

Jen: It's just right there, available.

Jami: Just pull it out, just rake it out from underneath them and they can never have Christmas again.

Jen: Talk about call our bluff. They can call our bluff on that so easy, they just don't know it.

Jami: I know.

Jen: So tell us what would you consider one of your biggest mom fails.

Jami: Mom fails. Oh gosh, there are so many.

Jen: Oh same.

Jami: Probably every emergency room visit from like 1995 to 2006. That panic, that's like confessional of motherhood.

I took Maggie to the emergency room one time because she was two and a half when she started throwing this fit in Target. And it was so out of character for her, I took her to the emergency room. And they did like brain scans and all these tests that they ran, EKG. And my husband goes, "What's wrong with her?"

And the doctor came out and he's like, "I feel like she really wanted a Malibu Barbie. That'll be $3,000."

Jen: I'm dead right now.

Jami: "Is it possible?"

Jen: If you'd just spend the $12.99 on it, this had been a better day for you.

Jami: It would've been a better day. Your kids get hurt or something goes wrong and it just . . . "We gotta go to the emergency room!" And with the Vandals it's like, "Rub some dirt on that."

Jen: Oh my gosh, 100%. Although you'll have to go back and look on my Facebook page 'cause just a couple of days ago, we did a whole thread of times my kids said their arm hurt and I told them to go to bed and it was broke in four places. Like thousands of comments. Like just absolutely thousands. I mean we all have them.
Last question, we ask literally every guest on the whole podcast this question. It's from Barbara Brown Taylor. What is saving your life right now?

Jami: Gumballs.

Jen: Gumballs.

Jami: I love gumballs.

Jen: You do?

Jami: I do. I love the destruction of them. I love the biting into them. I love the hard candy. So I buy them in bulk. Something about gumballs that are life giving to me. I think that because you chew them and then you burn the calories. So I don't think that counts.

I don't know for . . . I'm not a scientist, but I think that the chewing of them negates the calories.

Jen: Well, it has to at least break even.

Jami: Somewhat.

Jen: I validate this right now.

Jami: Thank you
Jen: Can you please tell everybody how to find you? What you're doing? All the things about that.

Jami: So you can find me at sacredgroundstickyfloors.com. You can email me at [email protected] And I'm on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. I love my Facebook family, and they're just my people. I love them. I am launching my second book, which you can find out more about on my Facebook page, if anybody's interested in that.

And I'm finishing my third book, which comes out next October. And it's actually called Sacred Temple, Lumpy Thighs. And it is about body image, but it's also about our identity in Christ.

So Sacred Ground Sticky Floors: How Less Than Perfect Parents Can Raise Kind of Great Kids comes out this October. And I'm really excited about it. I'm really excited about it.

Jen: Perfect. Listeners, we will have all of that linked on the Podcast page at jenhatmaker.com and all of Jami's socials and everything if you didn't catch that. If you did not have time to write all that down, we will have all that for you.

So Jami, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for finding the beautiful and the ridiculous in all of it. I think that's just the only way we get through it all. And so it was just a delight to meet you. I'm so very happy to introduce you to all my fabulous listeners. They are going to adore you for sure.

Jami: Oh thank you. It was so fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jen: Absolutely
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Now, back to our show!

part 2: diane dokko kim

Jen: Hey guys, welcome back to the second half of our Parenting Crowdsourced episode.

As I told you at the top of the show, you nominated so many fabulous people in the parenting sector that we couldn't choose, so we chose two. I'm thrilled to introduce our second guest of the program to you. She is fierce, she is tough. I'm telling you, this lady is the authentic real deal.
Her name is Diane Dokko Kim. She's a writer, she's a wife, she's a mom. She served 25+ years in church leadership. In 2004 her oldest son, her first son, Jeremy, was diagnosed with autism—additionally, ADHD, ADD—all at age two. This triggered some pretty profound personal and professional and spiritual crises for Diane, which she's going to talk about. But since 2008 she has served as a disability ministry consultant and in 2012 she launched an online ministry for special needs families.
Diane and her husband, Eddie, they live in Silicon Valley and they've got two sons, Jeremy and Justin.
Diane actually just released her first book and it's called Unbroken Faith: Spiritual Recovery for the Special Needs Parent. Released it to absolutely rave reviews and all the stars. Without a doubt, Diane is equipping all kinds of people with knowledge that they are hungry for.

I actually . . . You're going to love this interview. I love talking with her. She's funny, she's spicy, she gave me an insight into a world that I want and need to learn more about. Frankly since one in 50 families has a kiddo with autism, this is literally something that affects all of us.

I thank Diane so much in advance for teaching us how to be better neighbors and friends to families who have kids with special needs, how to create safe spaces for them and how to hold the hands of fellow parents who are caregivers for the long haul.

Plus, you guys, wait until . . . You've got to get all the way to the end because when she tells you at the very, very end about her Mom Fail, you're just going to die laughing. I'm still laughing about it. It's fabulous.

As always we will have all of her information linked over on the Transcript page. If you'd love to hear more from her, she is a wealth of information and knowledge in the most gracious and wonderful way. I'm so excited for you to meet her. Here comes Diane.

Diane, I am just tickled pink that you have joined us to wrap up the Parenting series. Thank you for being here.
Diane: It is a total honor to be here, so thank you for having me.

Jen: Honestly, the honor is mine. I was just telling you before we started recording that it was really, really fun watch your community rally around you. They came, they showed up to get you on this podcast. I was telling you that always signals to me, Oh, pay attention here. This is somebody special. Her people are loyal, and she has developed some really wonderful community.

They were going to see you on here, lady. I'll tell you that.

Diane: Yeah.

Jen: I love it.

Diane: Yeah, they are the most amazing people.

Jen: Listen. I've told my audience a little bit about you already. But for the listeners who may not know you and you're new to them, can you give everybody just a snapshot of who you are, and who's in your family? Just the 411 on Diane?
Diane: Right. Real quick. My name is Diane. My husband and I have been married for 19 years. We live in Silicon Valley. We've been serving in Bivocational Ministry for about 25 years. We have a 16-year-old son named Jeremy, and we also have a 12-year-old son named Justin.

Jen: Okay. I love it, Silicon Valley. Man you're just doing it over there aren't you?

Diane: We're doing something.

Jen: Right? I love California. I have this dreamy eyed feeling about California, and the reason is because I don't live there and pay property taxes. I can just feel real moony about living in California because I don't have to pay to live there.
So your older son Jeremy.

Diane: Yeah.

Jen: Your older son Jeremy was diagnosed with autism in 2004 when he was two, right?

Diane: Mm-hmm.

Jen: I wonder as a young parent then, I'm assuming that that news probably rocked your world, rocked your expectations. I wonder if you could talk about that time, a little bit. That experience. Tell us, what were you noticing about Jeremy's behavior? How did you cope, how did your husband cope, just right there in that initial diagnosis and shortly thereafter?

Diane: Right. This was back in 2004. We had just returned to the States from serving a year abroad on missions. Jeremy was 18 months at the time, and he wasn't talking. But this was our first kid. We just thought he might be confused over all the different languages we heard abroad, so we just gave him a little bit of time.
We had him checked out for a speech delay. It turned out not to be a speech delay. We had him tested for hearing and all these other things. About six months and a whole bunch of other tests later, the results came back as autism.

I wish I could tell you that I responded in a way that you would think a former missionary would respond, but I didn't. I was totally wrecked. I was so destroyed.

Jen: Sure.
Diane: And I felt betrayed by God. "Okay, we just stepped off the mission field and committed ourselves to full-time ministry and you're going to give us this? What's up with that?"

I really didn't handle that well. I think we handled it like normal human beings would. Whether you've got the label of “former missionary” or “church leader” or whatever, I think there's this misconception in the faith community that we can't be real in our pain. We can't be real with God when grief strikes.

Jen: Totally.

Diane: That kicked off a five-year depression of me pretty much just raging at God. "How could you do this to us? This is what we get after we have tried to serve you and all of that."

My husband, he was a worship leader at the church at the time. So he'd go up and exhort the congregation to trust God and praise Him. Worship leader’s wife is sitting in the back pew with her arms crossed going, "You know what? Y’all can do this, but I'm not feeling it."

That was a period of about five years.

Jen: I really appreciate you saying that. I do. Thank you for saying that.

I come from a long line of pastor people. My dad was one, I accidentally married one, I am one. I really appreciate you just saying that there's this bizarro expectation sometimes that a faith in a full-time capacity, in a career capacity, can inoculate you somehow against fury, or disappointment with God, or anger, or disillusionment. It's just fundamentally not true. I think that idea creates a lot of unhealthy ministry leaders and their families.

I appreciate your honesty about that. It wasn't even five minutes, it was five years. Obviously you know this because you've been in ministry for so long: that's so normal. That's just so normal. There's nothing weird about that. There's no indicator of a lack of faith or anything. It's just sometimes ministry families aren't given the same permission to be a human in spite of suffering.

Diane: Exactly.

Jen: Back to Jeremy. I love that we're talking about this because tons of my listeners have kids somewhere on the spectrum or it affects their lives in some way. The numbers are so high in our culture. What's it been like? What's growing up been like for Jeremy? What have his victories been? For you, as his mom, what's been the hardest thing to watch him struggle through?
Diane: I think for him, from his perspective, life has been good. He's a pretty happy kid, and for that I'm really grateful. He's a happy-go-lucky guy, always singing, always humming, sometimes a little too much. He's perceptive. He's had a good life. He has parents who love him and community that rallies around him, but he's had to work at stuff.
Jen: Can I ask you a question real quick? Just to frame it.

Diane: Absolutely.

Jen: Is Jeremy verbal, is he medium-verbal? Where is he in terms of where he falls on the spectrum?

Diane: Right. That's a great question, because I live with him 24/7, but y'all don't.

He is non-verbal. He is considered classic autism. He attends a classroom for moderate-to-severe kids with autism. He's non-verbal. Preverbal. He can make basic requests like, "I want this," but it's not like you can have a conversation with him. He does require somebody to watch him all the time.

Jen: That's helpful, because as you know, it's a really wide array. There's all sorts of levels of care and need. Thank you. I appreciate you shedding some light on that.

Back to the question. He is immensely loved, he is deeply cared for. How old is he right now, again?

Diane: He is 16.

Jen: Yeah, 16. As his mom what's been delightful to watch? What's been difficult to watch?

Diane: I would say because he's non-verbal, the hardest part is the communication piece, that he can't articulate when he's sad or hurt. It's just a process of elimination when there's something wrong. When he's struggling, when he's hurt, it's literally a process of elimination because he can't tell us. That's really difficult for a mama heart.

Related to that, because he struggles with social skills, he really doesn't have that many friends. My husband and I are super social. We're in ministry and we're just surrounded by people. That's been really painful for me to see that he's really limited in his friends. He doesn't get invited to the parties. His brother gets invited to all the parties, so there's that contrast there.

I think those are the two hardest parts, not being able to communicate with each other and know what's really in his heart.

Jen: Totally. You're touching on things I deeply identify with, and I don't have any kids with autism. These are the desires of a mom for a kid, so I can imagine how that feels for you.

Let me ask you this, because I think this is probably a question you get a lot. Committing your life to raising kids is hard, period. And it can definitely put a strain on couples, but maybe even more so with the added responsibility of guiding kids with special needs of any kind.
Can you talk a little bit how you and your husband Eddie have stayed connected through this? How you've protected your marriage through this? How you've said, "Okay, we're going to grow stronger in this, not more fragmented in this."

Diane: That's a great question, I wish I had a great answer to give you.
We get asked this all the time, so I actually asked my husband about this last night and he goes, "God." He's like, "It's God, it's the grace of God."

I’m like, "Okay. But I need you to unpack that a little bit."

Jen: Right. I need a longer answer for the podcast, Eddie.

Diane: “These are women that we'll be talking with, not dudes.”

Jen: Totally.

Diane: I spent some time thinking about that. There wasn't anything intentional that we did. The short answer is he's right, it's the grace of God guiding us. But I'm trying to unpack this, and I think one of the things is we gave each other space to grieve and grieve differently.

For me grieving and grieving thoroughly, that's first base. When trauma hits, whether it's a disability or diagnosis or anything, give ourselves permission to grieve. I think it was really helpful that we recognized or at least gave each other space that moms grieve differently from dads.

Jen: That's such a great point.
Diane: I think this is where a lot of couples really struggle. It's like, you know what? The time that you need to lean into each other the most and give each other the most grace is when you're both freaking out, but you're freaking out differently.

If you're getting pissed at each other because you're not freaking out in the same way, that's just . . . I really believe that stress makes good marriages better and bad marriages worse.

Jen: Great point.

Diane: It's a choice that you have to make, moment by moment. Are we going to be on each other's side? Are we going to have each other's back and just give each other grace and go, "Okay, the person that I'm dealing with right now is not a healthy person, this is a heartsick person.” To give each other that grace.

Jen: That's so good.

Diane: I think practically, we did a lot of tag-team, really tag-team, just on a practical level. If I'm dealing with a situation or my son, either of them, and my husband can hear, Okay, Diane is reaching the danger zone.

Jen: I got it. She needs a time out.

Diane: We need that input and output in order to come back home and give everything we've got to this family, so tag-teaming.

Jen: Wow. Basically everything you just said is great marriage advice, period. I can see how this would be absolutely mission critical when you've got extra stressors in the family and in the parenting structure. But heck, even as you're talking about the early stages of grieving and how different it sometimes looks.
I want to talk a little bit about your book. Good job, you. Congratulations on a beautiful offering to the world. It's called Unbroken Faith.

I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about the book, why you felt inspired to write it, because writing a book is no joke. My gosh.

Then what would the key takeaway or two be for any of our listeners that they might find in your book and who else frankly could benefit from it besides just parents who are parenting kiddos with special needs?

Diane: Unbroken Faith is a book that I had never planned to write.
Back in 2004 when disaster struck and we're just drowning at that time, as we'd talked about. When you're in ministry and you're up there, you feel like you have to fake it until you make it. I poured everything that I have into a password-protected document and that's where God and I would basically do business.

Jen: Wow.

Diane: For that period of five years, I'm wrestling with God. I'm wrestling with the Word of God. It was pretty much my own Jacob at Mount Pineal moment where I wrestled with him all night. 
The thing is when a mere mortal takes on an almighty God, usually the almighty wins.

Jen: It usually goes that way.

Diane: It does, right?

Jen: It does.

Diane: But it's a glorious defeat.

So after about five years, God didn't necessarily heal my son of his autism and the four other diagnoses that would come along in the next few years. But God chose to heal me and my faith. The very thing that I thought would drive me away from Him is the very thing that He used to draw me closer to Him. "Okay, great. Thanks, God. You helped me out." That was about five years.

I had this password-protected document and God had healed me. Then in 2010 He called me to start ministering to other special needs families with the comfort that I had received from Christ. God tends to do that.

Jen: Sure. That's how it goes.

Diane: That's right.

Jen: Misery turns to ministry, I've seen it a million times.

Diane: Absolutely. Rick Warren says, "Your greatest tragedy is going to be your very source." I'm butchering it, but basically, God is going to repurpose your greatest pain into your greatest ministry, and that's what He did.

I started meeting with all of these moms and parents. I found out—we were attending a large multiethnic church at the time, different backgrounds, different diagnoses, different ethnicities, different socio-economics. But no matter what, no matter who I talked to, we all had the same basic questions: How could God let this happen? Why me? Why my kid? Why us? Is He going to fix this? If He's not going to fix this, how am I going to trust Him again? What does the Bible, this 2000-year-old document have to do with the gritty realities of my life today?

I'm listening to all of these families and going, "Oh, well, I ain't one to preach, but this is how God answered it for me." I would go back unlock the password-protected documents, clean up some of the words. Make it suitable for church consumptions.

Jen: Oh sure. I'm familiar with the first draft is a little bit gritty. I know it well.

Diane: I would just go back and share, "Well, you know what? This is how God answered that issue for me.”

Jen: Of course, I'm sure that one thing that you've discovered is once you've put out such a useful and helpful body of work, you're a magnet for those stories and for those families and those parents, which is both beautiful and it's also hard. You really put your hat in the ring there for the long haul. I can only imagine how many parents are grateful for it.

Speaking of other parents, I wonder what encouragement—I'm just thinking of some of my listeners right now—what encouragement or advice or counsel would you give to a parent who's listening today who was just given a recent diagnosis for her child?
Diane: I think as we said, first base is to give yourself permission to grieve. Feel all the feels, however conflicted they may be. Bring it before God, He's big enough. He can handle it. It's not like an omniscient God doesn't know what's going on under the hood anyway. This was a big aha for me in that period of five years of struggling.
Jen: I think I've heard a lot of moms saying . . . And we've been through some suffering with our kids that didn't have to do with so much a diagnosis as just pain. There's this sense that as a parent, you're supposed to handle it a certain way. Somebody wrote a script somewhere and we bought into it, so there's a lot of shame around how we actually feel and how furious and disappointed and upset we actually are. I appreciate you peeling back the curtain there and saying, "Just bring it all." That's honest and that's true, and really that's the only way through it. There is not a side door around pain. It has to be born.

I wonder, while we're here on this topic, probably something that a lot of people don't really consider are what I would imagine to be a handful of unique challenges that Christian parents of kiddos with special needs and their families’ faiths. I wonder if my thought on that is right, if there is an added layer of shoulds or should nots on top of those families. You were at the center of that bullseye. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Diane: There's a unique package of stuff that we have to deal with, just so many multi-levels. I think number one is when I diagnosis strikes, the first question is, Why? Where did this come from? One of the things that parents like me have to deal with is this bad theology of what I call “Christian Karma.”

Jen: Very good.

Diane: We know that there is no Christian Karma. There is no condemnation in Christ. There's blame. Is it something that I did to cause this?

Jen: Yes. Are we being punished?

Diane: Yeah. Are we being punished? I've actually known other parents who have been challenged, “Is there secret sin in your life, that this is some cosmic retribution?” or down to something innocuous like, "Is it because I ate sushi that one time I was pregnant, and this is coming back to haunt me?" There's this Christian Karma, so blame and judgement that we're responsible for this.

I think also uniquely there's this . . . We talked about this suppressed outrage of, "How could God let this happen?" You have this cognitive dissonance like, "Okay, be thankful for God in all circumstances, but the reality is my life sucks right now and I'm really angry. I don't know how to reconcile with that.”

Yeah, there's this suppressed outrage and a spiritual crippling that happens.

Working out this funky theology of, "If God is good, how can He let this happen?"
I think whether it's a disability, we all have to deal with that at some point because everyone gets screwed up in a broken planet. We all have to deal with that.

Jen: Let me tell my listeners this. You've got a Help Checklist on your website that I think is fabulous, because frankly a lot of people say, "Tell me how I can help? Tell me how we can help you?" But honestly that's too overwhelming and non-specific to someone who truly needs help. Anybody who's ever been in a struggle or crisis would tell you that. "I don't know how to pick something out of the air and give it to you. I just need you to do it."

Diane: Right.

Jen: I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about the Help Checklist and how everybody else, all of us, how can we be tangible helpers and better neighbors to our friends who have special needs in their homes?
Diane:  The Help Wish List came about just as a dilemma. I've experienced this for myself. I've got so much going on, and boy could I use some help. But there's something in us, so much shame and fear and guilt of admitting, "I can't manage my own family by myself, okay?" None of us are going to come out there and volunteer that. “Hello? Can somebody pity me, pity poor Diane? Throw me a bone here.”
There's this constant dilemma, this tension between a family who’s struggling and who needs so many different ways. If you were to ask me, I have a mind with 50 things that I could use help with.

Then on the other hand, you've got what I call “first responders.” Family members, extended friends and church community. Everyone is asking, "What can I do to help? What can I do to help?" They're not mind-readers, so there's this chasm. How do we reconcile that?

It came out of the blue. What about a wish list, kind of like a bridal registry or baby registry, to really bridge that gap so that people can offer help with dignity and people can receive help that need it with dignity?

It's basically a PDF or an online form that you can mail to somebody and say, "You know what? I really mean it that I want to help, and I know you've got a lot going on. So here's a checklist." I called my people for this and I said, "What are the basic things, what are the most common areas that we could really use help with, that if you could really be honest, this is what would be on it?"

Jen: Yes. Yes.

Diane: Things that most people would not think of that are really helpful for us. It's like, "Oh, really? Coming over and doing your dishes or folding your laundry would be awesome?"

"Oh you have no idea."

So it's categorical, and it's customizable for each family. That's the Help Wish List.

Jen: That was really, really wise. I could see that being used in a variety of ways and in various crisis and on a permanent basis or a temporary basis. That was so smart of you. They can find that on your website, right? All of our listeners?

Diane: Yep.
Jen: Let me ask you this question. A lot of us are parents. A lot of us are parenting kids whose peers and classmates and neighbors and friends have perhaps special needs. How would you suggest that we help our children understand the best ways to connect with and include and love other kids that have autism, for example?

Diane: This is such a huge question.

There is so much fear of getting it wrong. There is so much fear of offending that people tend to just back away. This is true whether you're talking about autism or a friend whose family member passed away, that we back away.

Jen: That's right.

Diane: That actually ends up doing more damage than good. I think just to give some broad strokes here, number one: make it about the person who's going through stuff and not about your own discomfort or fear.

Jen: Good.

Diane: Push through that, and make it about their pain, not your discomfort or fear or self-preservation.

The second thing I would say is people are afraid of drawing closer because they're like, "Well, I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do."

Let me just take that off the table for y'all and say you don't have to say or do anything. Just listen.

Jen: Amen. I've said this a million times.

Diane: Listen, and the same letters that are in the word listen are the same letters that are in the word silent.

We will do the talking. There is so much in our heart that's conflicted. We need a safe place to unpack it. You know what I really need from my friends? Just come and bring the emotional barf bag, I will fill it.

Jen: Right.

Diane: I will fill it. Let the heartsick person fill it. Even when you're physically sick, what can anybody really say or do other than just to be there with you? That's compassion, right? To suffer with, just to be there, sit with me.

But to be with someone in their pain, that is huge. And I think that goes underestimated, to listen and not be afraid of asking questions.

This happens to us all the time you're in the park or in the playground or the mall and some younger child will say, "Mommy, what's wrong with him?" Because my son doesn't behave typically. Usually the mom is just horrified, like, "Oh my gosh." A lot of times she'll be like, "Shh." And jerk them away. I say, "No. No. No. Stop. Let me redirect that." In the moment I call “disaster recovery.”

Jen: Right. Well done.

Diane: “Disaster recovery mode.” Lean into that. Just, "I'm sorry that was rude. We're still learning."

Jen: That's good.

Diane: Don't be afraid to lean in. Apologize for that moment of awkwardness. Own it and say, "You know what? My son has a lot to learn. I have a lot to learn." And ask questions. “What's his name?”

Jen: Oh that's so good. Thank you for that script. That is a horrifying moment for most parents. You just freeze. "Oh my gosh, how do we get out of it?" That is so helpful. That is so helpful.

Then on your end you're probably mostly glad to say, "Let me explain this a little bit or give a 60-second tutorial."

Diane: Absolutely.

Jen: Is that what you do?

Diane: It really depends on the situation. Sometimes we're having a difficult moment. It really is case by case, but compassion always wins. Asking, giving room for the other person to be heard. Not making assumptions. Creating that safe space and going, "I'm sorry."

You know what? I'll give you an example. One of my friends, her name is Alice. She was masterful at this. She has two sons that are around the same age as mine. Obviously Jeremy behaves a little bit atypically, because he's working on his social skills, that's part of autism. Her sons had lots of questions. Of course, they would ask their mom. Their mom would come up to me later, she would call me. She said, "You know what? I'm so bad at this. I don’t even know what I’m doing. And please forgive me." She asked for pre-permission, pre-forgiveness.

Jen: Sure. Pre-permission. “I may say the wrong words, I may not have the terms right.” Good.

Diane: But she would say, "I care about you more than I care about me looking stupid, so please let me ask the questions. Would that be okay?”

I'm like, "Yeah, that's awesome."

Jen: That's good.

Diane: Then that just opened up a whole other level of conversation and community and friendship, really. That actually leads me to another point.

Before disaster recovery can happen, preempt that. Train your kids in advance of how to interact with folks who are different. That really comes leading by example, because a lot of these things are caught then taught. Have the conversations at home. Model it. How do we behave when we interact with somebody who's different, whether it's physically, whether out of convictions, or whatever? Because our kids are going to pick it up from us. Our kids are going to pick it up from us.

Jen: Absolutely. That's so useful.
You mentioned at the top of the show that one of your greatest mom heartaches here is just watching your kiddo struggle socially and have a friend deficit. How would you advise us—just in the day-to-day, not necessarily in the hot moment at Target or where you're having to do recovery—just parties and birthday stuff and social events. What would be your dream scenario to see your son's peers and their families do to just simply include him?

Diane: I'll share with you that things that have blessed my socks off that other people have done for us. The first thing is invite us. Please don't assume that we don't want to be invited. It may very well be that statistically we may not be able to come or that may not work for us, but it's huge just to know that you were thought of and included.

Invite us. Invite us to the Mom's Night Out, even if nine out of 10 times we can't come because we can't get childcare. Invite us to the birthday parties, invite us to whatever, invite us to the fellowships. Even if the answer continues to come back no, invite us. That would be the first thing.

Yeah, invite us, and number two, ask us.

Jen: That's great. It's not that big of a mystery. As you're talking I'm thinking, Of course.

I don't know why other families, why we become so skittish or nervous or afraid. “Jeremy and his family, they want to just be invited and included like everybody else.” This is not some big mystery here, and we all have the tools for this. I appreciate that so much, just your really simple, direct instruction.

I wonder if you could just tell us, what are some of the best parts to being a family with a son with autism, a special needs family? What are some of the unexpected blessings or things that we might not know about or that we might not see or they're hidden or tucked away somehow? What's the best stuff?

Diane: Yeah. So much, Jen. So much.
I would say this journey, this experience that I would have never chosen or volunteered for has been the greatest blessing in that this has transformed who I am as a person, as a follower of Christ. It has transformed my family and has repercussions into the circles in which we're traveling. This "hardship" has been the best antidote for “Country Club Christianity.”

Jen: Oh, I love this.

Diane:   It has rocked my world. I don't even know where to begin. All the things that we run in pursuit of, keeping up with the Joneses, keeping up with the Kardashians. We live in Silicon Valley, it's pretty clear what the markers of success and achievement are.

Jen: Oh totally.

Diane: But at some point pretty early on, we had to accept, I will never be able to do that. Our family will never be able to do that.

We live near Cupertino, which is one of the cities just constantly pumps out contenders in the National Spelling Bee. My kid will never do that, and that's okay. This life has a way of really galvanizing our faith and really separating, We're not going to live for that anymore.

Jen: I love that.

Diane: That's not as important anymore. Your book, Seven—this was our Seven. This was our Seven. It just made all of the fluff fall away and go, What really matters? What really matters in life? What are we going to live for? What really is superfluous?

Life as a family affected by disability really has been the number-one agent in our sanctification process.

Jen: I believe you.

Diane: There has been nothing that has been a steroid to my discipleship. This has been the sharpest knife in Heaven's drawer to chisel me into greater Christ likeness.

Jen: No doubt.

Diane: For that I am tremendously grateful personally and for what it's done for my family. Who it's made my husband to be. Who it's made my child to be, and the impact our son has had on the community around him. Just so much, so much. That's the short answer.

Jen: That is a gorgeous answer. That is a beautiful answer.
Listen, let's wrap this up. These are a handful of little rapid-fire questions that we've actually asked everybody in the Parenting series, of which you are the grand finale here. Just whatever comes to mind.

Tell us something that your parents used to say that you were like, "I'm positively not going to say that,” and you say it. You do it. You do the thing you weren't going to do."

Diane: They were constantly saying, "Life is not fair. Life is not fair." When you're a kid, you're like, "Yeah, okay. Whatever."

Jen: So did mine.

Diane: They were Asian-American immigrants. They really experienced that life is not fair. They got swindled. They got cheated. All of that.

But it's so ironic. I'm saying that to my kid, especially Justin now. "I'm sorry. Life is not fair."

"Why does Jeremy get to be on the iPad all stinking day, and I have to practice trumpet?"

"Life is not fair."

Jen: Sorry, kid. I know, them’s the breaks. I know. I hear my mom's voice come out of my mouth all the time, and it just cracks me up.
Tell us this. What would you consider, looking back over these last years of parenting, what's one of your mom moments where you're like, "Ah, blew it."

Diane: I will give you the most freshest one. An hour ago, an hour ago, I did not realize today was Justin's first day of school.

Give me all the hashtags of #MomFail. Give me all the hashtags of #MomFail. An hour ago, Jen. An hour ago.

Jen: I'm dying.

Diane: The only reason I found out was because my neighbor in our son's carpool posted her kid’s first day of school picture. I'm like, "Wait a minute, what?" I had confused my other son's first day of school, which starts next Monday. I just assumed it's in the same district, it should start the same. Thank God for my neighbor posting her kid's picture on Facebook. "First day of school!"

I'm like, "Wait, what?"

Jen: Oh my gosh, what, did you just zip him over to school real quick?

Diane: I can't even tell you. I'm like, "Get it together! We've got to at least make it to first period because I've got to go on Jen Hatmaker's podcast and talk about parenting!"

Jen: This is so amazing. I'm so happy that you said that. This draws me to you.

Listen, all the moms who are young listening, parenting the babies and the toddlers, and you think, That could never happen to me. You are wrong, this is just how it goes. Listen, we carry a lot in our brains. We cannot remember everything. That is awesome.

Okay, last question. We ask everybody in every series this final question by Barbara Brown Taylor, which is what is saving your life right now?

Diane: Oh, right now, in the last two hours? It was my neighbor. My neighbor posting the picture of her kid going to the first day of school. Yeah, that saved my life.

Jen: You know what? That's the right answer! I cannot quit laughing about it. Your neighbor saved your life today so your kid didn't have an absence on the first day of school.

Diane: Yeah, he didn't make it to zero period, but he made it to first period. So thank you neighbor, Amy Bennett, out there. You saved my life today. Thank you.

Jen: Shout out to Amy. Way to go, Amy. That's so amazing.
Listen. I want to thank you so much for coming on today. Thank you for sharing a little glimpse into your beautiful family and all that you've learned. Your breadth of wisdom and, at this point, expertise is so useful. I'm thrilled to think about all my listeners just hanging on to everything you're saying today as a bit of hope and instruction.

I'm just so grateful that you've given me this bit of your time. Thank you so much. I'm so happy that your kid made it to school today. I am just thrilled for all the things going right, all the things going right.

Real quick, will you just tell everybody where they can find you online?

Diane: Yep. Come hop on my website at DianeDokkoKim.com. Subscribe there, and connect with me on Facebook. I love, love, love, I'm a Facebook addict. I check it first thing in the morning. Connect with me at my website and on Facebook. I would love to just do fellowship there.

Jen: Love it. Guys, we'll have all that linked over on the Transcript page, of course.

Okay, sister. So happy to meet you.

Diane: Same.

Jen: Thanks again for coming on this show. Just cheering you on in every possible way.

Diane: Thank you so much, Jen. It was totally a pleasure.
Jen: Two amazing mamas, right there. What a delight for me to meet them and get to hear their stories. I'm so happy to introduce them to you, you guys. I just am regularly inspired by how many amazing people are out there just building beautiful families, and overcoming odds, and inspiring the rest of us.

So many thanks to Jami and to Diane for being fabulous, fabulous guests on this final episode of the Parenting series, which I hope you have loved. I have absolutely loved it.

But you guys, listen up. You are not going to want to miss next week because we're kicking off a brand-new series called For the Love of Books! Wait until you see our lineup, OMG! We have some of the greatest authors and writers and thinkers. I just literally I am so over the moon. Calling all readers. Calling all book lovers. Calling all writers. Calling all aspiring writers. This series, you are going to love it, love it, love it. We are thrilled. Me and my whole team, we are just giddy over here. For the Love of Books kicks off next week.

Just a reminder. Anything you heard in the Parenting series—or, frankly, any of the series—you can find over at JenHatmaker.com underneath Podcast, where Amanda builds out this amazing transcript page for you every single week with links and resources and bonus content and pictures. If you are not using that you are seriously missing out. Get over there. Get all your memes.

Listen, we really appreciate you sharing this podcast. By the way, we've got a lot of graphics and memes you can drag right off the Transcript page and drop into your socials. If you love an episode and you want your friends and your folks to listen to it, Amanda has those ready to plug and play. You can just pull them off and drop them in.

Thank you for sharing the podcast and recommending it to your friends. Thank you for reviewing it and rating it and subscribing to it. Gosh, if you guys have not subscribed, go ahead and do it. It will just pop up into your phone every single time we drop in a new episode.

Anyway, you are the best listening community. Me and my team are so thrilled to serve you week in and week out. Do not miss next week you guys, come back For the Love of Books, you are going to love it, that I can promise you.

Okay you guys, this is Jen, signing off. Have a fabulous week.
Jen's Favorite Things
​Hey guys, we're back for another segment of Jen's Favorite Things. This is the part of the show where I share about some wonderful companies that are producing amazing products--and giving back to charitable organizations and really worthy nonprofits. Plus, they have exclusive discounts and extras just for you, our podcast listeners. So here are today's favorites!
Jen: Hey, guys, I want to tell you about my dear friend, Jessica Honegger. So she’s the founder of socially conscious fashion brand Noonday Collection, you probably know. She’s written a new book called Imperfect Courage.
 
So if you care about making a difference in the world, you’re an entrepreneur, you love fashion, or you’re a builder and a dreamer, Imperfect Courage is fuel for all of that, all of those reasons. So you can order it right now on Amazon.com and anywhere books are sold. You’ll be so glad you did!
Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!

From the show:

Books

Quotes From This Episode

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Where To Find Diane
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Books

Quotes From This Episode