Last Picture

My best friend Angie and Hannah…..they had a special love for each other!

This is the last picture that I have of Angie.  She, Whitney, Misti and I had breakfast together at my house about 2 months ago.  Angie didn’t want any pictures taken since we all looked “bummy” but I snapped this one of her and Hannah giving “cuddles” as Hannah calls them.

Hannah wouldn’t leave Angie alone that morning……they had a very special bond and love for each other.  I love this picture because it helps me remember that no matter what Angie was going through; she cared more about Hannah than herself.  She never failed to ask about Hannah every time that we talked and I know that when Angie told me she was praying for Hannah…..she was!  It was never just lip-service with Angie, if she said she was praying you better believe that she was doing just that!

Today, my precious friend was laid to rest.  Her funeral was beautiful, moving and a testimony of the Godly life that Angie led for 40 years.  I am honored to call her my best friend and I will forever hold cherished memories of our 40 year friendship in my heart.

This might be the last picture I have of her, but I have memories that will last a lifetime.

In loving memory
Angela Murray
July 28, 1972-November 25, 2012
Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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See You Soon, My Friend

Last night, after receiving a phone call from my sweet friend Angie’s brother, I along with my dear friends Misti and Whitney headed to the hospital to see Angie who had been admitted because of having 2 seizures.  Standing around her bed with her in and out of consciousness we laughed, cried and prayed; knowing that our time together as 4 friends was drawing to an end.  That would be the last time that the 4 of us would be together on this earth and my heart is breaking as I write this blog today.

This morning my dear, sweet, life-long friend left this world and entered Heaven’s gates to meet our Savior face-to-face.  I know as Angie left us and entered the Lord’s presence, He welcomed her with open arms, a smile and saying…..”well done, my good and FAITHFUL servant”.  In the nearly 4 years of her ongoing battle with breast cancer, Angie fought hard with faith in our Lord, grace that only He can give and the strength and bravery of an army.  She never complained, she never felt sorry for herself and she never questioned God’s sovereignty.  Her philosophy was “why not me” instead of “why me.”

She was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother of 3 precious children, a daughter-in-love (not in-law as Angie never called her in-laws that; they were always in-loves), a sister-in-love, an aunt, a cousin and a friend.  But, most importantly she was a faithful child of God.  In all the adversity she faced with this horrible cancer she had an unshakable faith in God; knowing that He was going to heal her.  Selfishly we all prayed and wished for that healing to take place here on earth, but God chose to give her that perfect healing in Heaven.

I know Angie has a new, perfect and pain-free body and I know that even if given the chance to come back, she would stay with her Heavenly Father…..walking streets of gold and rejoicing in no more sickness, no more pain, no more sorrow and no more tears.

When I told her last night that I loved her, she told me that she loved me and I said….”see you soon, my friend.”  I refused to say goodbye, because this isn’t goodbye because I will see her again when the Lord calls me home.  Is my heart breaking, absolutely; do I miss her already, more than words can say……but, I cling to God’s promises that this is not the end…..this world is not my home, Heaven is.  And today, Heaven is even sweeter than it was yesterday!

Please join me in praying for the Bowden and the Murray families……their faith is strong but there lives and hearts are shattered.  The pain for those left behind is unbearable right now and in the days ahead.

I am blessed to have had a life-long friend for 40 years named Angie Bowden Murray and she will forever hold a place in my heart of love and great memories of a friendship that was unshakable and true to the end!

I LOVE YOU ANGIE and I will NEVER forget you!  Until we meet again……..

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see.

When I look upon His face, the one that saved me by His grace.

When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the promise land

What a day, glorious day that will be!

Just Dance

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving……I hope you did too!  Hannah even waited until 8:00 p.m. Thanksgiving night to get sick.  Yes, she is sick again with another nasty head and chest cold, but we won’t dwell on that this blog post.  I want to share some pictures today….YES, pictures instead of writing…..I know, pictures are a welcome relief from my ramblings.

These are some pictures I took at my mom’s on Thanksgiving Day.  Hannah decided to have a dance party with no music playing.  My crazy brother was singing REALLY loud something about Elmo and well…..we will leave it at that!  HA!  Anyway, with “UNC” singing, Hannah started dancing……here is my dancing queen:

Let’s get this party started!  (I have to say I love the look on Megan’s face in this picture).  She and Hannah ADORE each other and I am so thankful for that!

Guess I will just dance by myself!

Oh yea, raise the roof!

Dance Finale! She rocked it!

We had a great time with lots of yummy food (enough to feed an army), lots of fun and laughter and moments that both of my parents denied having anything to do with my upbringing.  HA!  You would have had to be there!

I love the rare moments that we can just sit around, eat, laugh and laugh some more.  I love the days of Dennis, Hannah and me spending time together.  I love being with my brother and his family and there is absolutely nothing more fun than watching both my parents just shake their heads wondering where they went wrong with my brother and me!

Sometimes the best medicine is laughter and we had plenty of that on Thanksgiving Day.  We have alot to be thankful for and my family is at the top of that list!

Thankfulness

I know alot of people on Facebook are posting each day the things they are thankful for.  I haven’t done that but I thought I would make a blog post about the things I am thankful for; so here it goes in no particular order:

1.  First and foremost I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who gave His only son to die on the cross so that I might have eternal life with Him one day.  I am thankful for a God that forgives and puts my sins as far as the east is from the west.  I am thankful that one day, I will live in Heaven where there is no more sickness, pain, tears, difficulties or sorrow!  Thankful today and everyday for salvation.

2.  I am thankful for a husband that protects, provides, loves and cherishes me!  Nowadays it is rare that a man truly knows how to treat his wife.  I am thankful for a husband that puts me on a pedestal and honors me.  I am blessed to have Dennis and I thank the Lord for him everyday.

3.  My sweet Hannah.  She keeps me laughing and smiling.  She brings joy to my heart everyday.  She has certainly kept me on my knees in prayer over the last 7 years, but she completes our family and she makes us thankful everyday for God’s blessings through her.

4.  Mine and Dennis’ families.  We were blessed to be raised in Christian homes where we were taught good work ethic, morals and values.  We were taught to love Jesus and have hearts for Him and we were given very good lives with mom’s and dad’s who love each other, respect each other and most importantly love the Lord.

5.  My brother and his family.  The way they love us and the relationship God has given us with them.

6.  Dennis’ sisters and their families.  We don’t get to spend much time with any of them, but they are loving and supportive.

7.  Friends…..so thankful for my friends that support me, love me, don’t judge me and are there no matter the time of day or what they have going on in their lives…..friends that drop anything and everything for me!

8.  The Bible and prayer!  So thankful for God’s word to guide my life and the opportunity to pray and talk to Him about everything.

9.  God’s grace, mercy, strength, peace and love

10.  Dennis’ job….thankful especially in these difficult economic times that he has a job that supplies the money for all of our needs and some of our wants.

11.  Dennis’ co-workers!  He has the most amazing group of co-workers.  Through everything we have been through with Hannah, they have encouraged us, prayed for us and been there.  They have  taken work days for Dennis when he has needed them to; they collected money for us when we went to Birmingham and so much more!  I am very thankful for the group of guys and ladies that he works with and calls his friends.  Not just in Robbery either……he is blessed to call so many friends in all the different departments of JSO and I am so thankful for his “brothers and sisters” in blue!

12.  Church Family that have always been there and prayed for us, encouraged us and loved us.

13.  North Florida School of Special Education……I am so thankful for the love, care and education they are showing and giving to Hannah.  It is the MOST INCREDIBLE school and I am so blessed that we are part of it!

14.  INSURANCE…..without it, we would be BROKE!  I know insurance is a necessary evil; in our case though; without Aetna…..we would have gone broke the first year of Hannah’s life!  We truly have the million dollar baby!  HA!

15.  Our home…..yes, I would love for it to be bigger (well, except on cleaning days then I am thankful it isn’t any bigger).  I would love to have more closet space and a 4th bedroom; but I have a solid foundation with a roof over my head with central heat and air.  It is beautifully decorated and furnished and we are happy!  The size of my house doesn’t matter; the 3 people who live here do!

16.  Our vehicles…..we are blessed to have good, reliable transportation that is PAID for!

17.  Clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry….yes, I had to put this on here because I have a love for these things that is indescribable….ha!  Love my “collections” of these items…..especially my shoes!  HA!

18.  Thankful for my arms, legs, hands and feet!  What a blessing to get up, pain-free and do all I need to do.  So many people have chronic aches and pains and I am thankful that “so far” I don’t…..

19.  Thankful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t take this blessing for granted as I know so many that wish they could be home with their children.  Don’t get me wrong, I also know alot that want to work and there is no wrong in doing that.  To each their own….for me, staying home was the right choice and I am thankful I had a choice in that.

20.  FREEDOM…..Freedom to worship, speak, pray, carry a gun and so many other freedoms that we all take for granted!  Thankful for the ultimate sacrifice so many men and women have made to insure our freedom…..

21.  Brian Blaquiere…..okay, I know he reads this blog and he wanted an honorable mention; so Brian….here it is!  HA!  Love you and your family, dude!

There are so many more things that I could type….but I am sure this is getting boring for whoever reads it….the truth is, I am thankful and I try to be everyday not just on the day that is set aside for it.  I am not always as thankful as I should be, but I do know how blessed I am and I only have the Lord to thank for it!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog readers (all 2 of you)  HA!  Have a great day with your families and know that I am thankful for you!

Even If Healing Doesn’t Come

Talking to one of my dear friends the other night made me think of how sometimes we are so alone in the journey we take with our children with Special Needs.  Yes, we have people who care about us and pray for us; but if you look at the big picture NOBODY, not even family know our hearts.  I have a sweet group of friends that we all share the “same heart” because we all have someone in our life either a sister or a child that has special needs.  Besides these friends, nobody knows my heart except for the Lord.  Nobody knows the pain, heartache, worry, fear and anxiety that I feel daily.  As my sweet husband reminded me the other night though, on the flip side…..nobody knows the joy, love, excitement and blessing we feel because of Hannah either.

I know people mean well when they quote scripture to us and remind us what the Bible says about difficult times in our lives…..and don’t get me wrong…..I cling to God’s promises on a daily basis.  But, even though the Lord promises to be with us in the dark, hard and difficult times…..he doesn’t guarantee us the outcome that we are truly hoping and praying for.  Sometimes, he asks us to walk a journey that is heartbreaking and difficult.  A journey that alot of people don’t know anything about.  Most of the time, the people offering their “helpful words of wisdom” and quoting the Bible verses have NEVER been through anything that compares to the daily difficulties that we have faced.  As someone who has been on the receiving end, and PLEASE don’t get me wrong…..we all need encouragement and the Bible is the best place to get that…..but sometimes it is very difficult to hear “only positive things” and people telling you that “it is all going to be okay,” when in all actuality, they don’t know that…..only God does!  The bottom line is only the Lord knows what He is going to ask of us and only He knows the outcome of our heartache.

Each time Hannah has had open-heart surgery I have prayed for the best outcome but I have prepared myself (as much as you can) for the worst.  I am a firm believer that you pray about everything and you pray for the Lord’s will, but in doing that and trusting that the Lord’s will shall be done; you have to prepare yourself for an outcome that you didn’t want!  I have known that each time I handed my sweet little girl over to her surgeon that it might be the last time I ever see her, the last time I ever hug her (or cuddle her as Hannah says), the last time I will hear her sweet voice or kiss her.  As a mom, that is an indescribable heartache.  It is a feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you sick…..a feeling that you might be saying goodbye for the very last time because you don’t know what God’s plan is and the pain you feel at that moment is almost unbearable!

Yes, I cling to the Bible, I cling to God’s promises and I always pray for healing and the best possible outcome.  But, there is always that little voice inside that reminds me that sometimes the healing doesn’t come and we have to prepare just in case.

There is a Christian song that Kutless sings that is so beautiful…..I encourage you to google it and listen to it when you have a chance.  It is entitled “Even If” and is a song that talks about clinging to God and knowing God is mighty and working everything to our good, even if the healing doesn’t come.  There is no band-aid for what God has asked of us with a child with special needs.  There is always a little twinge in my heart of sadness.  It is difficult to describe….I am “broken” in a way because there is “no fix” for Hannah and there are days that I am very sad.  On the flip side, there are many moments each day that I am full of joy because of Hannah…..but this song reminds me that sometimes there isn’t healing, but God remains.

The lyrics are:

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Speechless

Sorry that I have been missing in action the last few days, but this past week has rendered me speechless.  Not only speechless, but sad, sick and there have been a few moments of just plain CRAZY!

I cannot for the life of me understand how Obama won re-election…..I honestly thought I had prepared myself for that happening, as for the last 3 months I thought he probably would; but I held out hope that people were sick of him and his policies and would go with the better candidate…..alas, they didn’t!  I knew America was split, but WOW, we are split right down the middle almost, with just a few more leaning toward the liberal side!  What a very sad day for America!

There were SO many issues at stake with this election; everything from social to economic to security and unfortunately; in my opinion AMERICA SCREWED UP!  I have had several people comment on my being “too conservative” and “leaning far too right” or better yet….that I have been brainwashed by FOX news…yes, that was said!  But for the record let me say…..I am a FAR-RIGHT-WINGED-BIBLE-BELIEVING-GUN-TOTING-CONSERVATIVE and that is something I AM NOT ASHAMED of and never will be!  I was raised in a very conservative family; but I took all that I was raised with and made my OWN choices….in fact, in some ways I am a little more far-right than my family!  It was my choice and I stand by my beliefs and will not apologize to anyone for them!

I am thankful that America is free!  I am thankful for our freedoms and our rights to make our own choices and I have no choice but to accept that Obama has been given 4 more years; but I honestly don’t have to like it and I certainly don’t have to agree with him or his policies!

There are alot of issues that I have with him and his policies, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that it concerns me greatly for Hannah more than anything.  Yes, there is the debt that all of our children will inherit thanks to Obama spending money America doesn’t have; there is the social issues which are very sad to me; the security issues as well.  But, one of the things that bothers me the most is Obamacare!  If and when the day comes that America goes to Socialized Medicine….that will be the day that my daughter will lose in more ways than one!  Do you know, that if we have socialized medicine, if and when Hannah needs her 4th open-heart surgery; she will not be allowed to get it?  She will be deemed “unworthy” because she has Down Syndrome!  Her life won’t be as important as a child that is “typically developed” as in society’s eyes; Hannah does not “contribute to society,” which is a HUGE pile of CRAP if you ask me!

America is in trouble and has been going downhill for years.  EVERYTHING that our country was founded upon doesn’t seem to matter to over half the country anymore!  Because, I will say this and I dare anyone to argue with me…..whether you like it or not, this country was founded on BIBLICAL principles….on a love and a respect for God and that has been LOST!  How do we expect God to Bless America if we turn our backs on Him?  We shouldn’t expect it…..I don’t…..my prayer now is God help America because like it or not we are all in need of His help…..

Now that I have said my peace…..I truly could say alot more, but I will bite my tongue, for today anyway…..the one thing I will do is pray that our leaders will do the right thing, something they haven’t done in the past 4 years…..I pray Barack Hussein Obama (wow, really people?) will find the Lord and I will pray that the Republicans keep the HOUSE!

On that note…..May God HELP America, because we are in BIG trouble!

Friends That Walk Our Same Journey

I have to say that there are things about this 7 year journey that I haven’t enjoyed.  You know, the sicknesses, the surgeries, the hospital stays….you get the picture.  But, there is something that I would not have or ever known had it not been for Hannah rockin’ an extra 21st chromosome and that is the wonderful friendships we have made!

God has brought some of the sweetest people into our life through this journey with Hannah!  People I never would have met had we not shared the same common bond of having children with Down Syndrome!  These parents just “get it,” they understand, they empathize and they truly care.  We don’t all share the heart defect or the thyroid problems.  Some have issues with their sweet kiddos that we don’t have with Hannah.  If you google possible health problems in kids with Down Syndrome, you would be shocked at what one little extra chromosome can set in motion!  Hannah has the low immune system, heart defect and thyroid issues where other kids have tummy issues, leukemia, hearing/sight problems and the list goes on.  But, through it all we have this group of people who understand because they have either been there or are going through it with you or will possibly be going through it shortly!

I just had to take a minute today and give a “shout-out” to my Down Syndrome community and family!  These friendships are unique and special because they are walking this same journey.  It is difficult for people to relate to us when they have typically developed kids and in turn, difficult for me to relate to those people as well.  Not to say that I don’t have WONDERFUL and caring friends that don’t walk this same journey, because we do…..but, I am so thankful for this small community of friends that just “get it,” when no one else does!

I met some really special people the first few years of Hannah’s life that were sent by the Lord to me.  Had it not been for those friends I would have possibly lost hope!  These past 2 years at North Florida School of Special Education we have made wonderful friends as well.  In fact, one of those precious families, we have already gone as far to make it known that we WILL be in-laws one day!  HA!  Let me tell you, there would be no better family for Hannah to marry into, if that happened!

See, we dream the same dreams……I haven’t met one family yet that has a child with Downs that doesn’t want that child to be all he or she can be.  College is not out of the question, marriage is not out of the question, living independently is not out of the question either!  We want everything for our kids that anyone else would want for theirs.  Our sweet kids might struggle a little more getting there, but it isn’t impossible!  I am NEVER shocked at what our kids do, because they are just as capable as a child that is typically developed!  Kids with Down Syndrome just learn differently, but they do learn!  Hannah is reading, writing, doing math problems……and she LOVES it!  Her favorite thing to do is “learn.”  She wakes up every morning and can’t wait to go to school.  I pick her up from school and she is ready to go back!  She always has a smile on her face and will tell me all of her friends names on the way home each day and that they learned together and played on the playground together!  It makes my heart happy that Hannah has these sweet friends and frankly, that I do too!