Still Learning

I will be honest here…..I have had a bad week…..a sad week.  I have dealt this week with outside interferences and unkindness.  I have been faced with things and people who have shocked me and I have had to bite my tongue more than once.   I have seen a whole new side to selfishness that I didn’t know existed and I have realized yet again that some people will never “get it,” not because they can’t but because they are so self-absorbed that they will never see past their own issues and self-centeredness to even try.

Crying on the phone with my sister-in-law this morning and after what I will call a “Tracy speech” from my sweet sister-in-law (Tracy is my brother and she gave me the speech he would have), it helped me put some things into perspective (thank you Sharon) and this is what I was able to process:

She encouraged me to let go of the things and people I have no control over.  She told me not to worry about the things that haven’t yet happened and to concentrate and dedicate myself to the things and people who truly matter and the things I do have control over.  Those were some wise words I heard today.

Lessons I learned growing up and apparently are still true today……

  • Think before you speak
  • Choose your friends wisely
  • Pick your battles
  • Treat others as you want to be treated
  • You cannot please everyone
  • Don’t worry about the things that you have no control over
  • Be kind to everyone; even those that choose to be unkind to you
  • Turn the other cheek
  • If you can’t say something nice; don’t say anything at all

There are more, but I will stop with those.  I am still a work in progress myself and I do fail at times.  I have learned through all of this with Hannah though that words and actions can hurt you detrimentally and leave scars that will never heal.  The past nearly 5 years have been extremely difficult for me.  Over the course of these 5 years I have lost 2 of the most important people and positive influences in my life….my sweet Grandpa and my lifelong friend Angie.  I have dealt with issues I have had ZERO control over and unfortunately I have realized that some relationships just can’t be repaired.  Add all of that to Hannah’s health issues and realizing just who supports you and who doesn’t through the worst of times have been really traumatic for me.  I would venture to say that the past 5 years have been the most difficult years I have faced in all my 43 years.  God certainly never promised us an easy life; although at times I wonder if I am the only one that is on a never-ending roller coaster ride (I know I am not, but at times it feels that way).  I have admitted MANY times to this being a very lonely existence.  My experiences have opened my eyes to those that are hurting more than ever before and I realize that had I not gone through all that I have I wouldn’t care as much as I do.  It is true, I think, that you can’t really understand what anyone goes through until you walk a similar journey yourself and EVEN then, it doesn’t mean you “get it” completely.

I have said many times before that we are all on a journey…..some journey’s have just a few bumps in the road and a lot of fun, peace, joy and happiness.  Other journey’s seem to be LOTS of bumps with not as much fun, peace, joy and happiness and some of us get roller coaster rides that we pray we can survive long enough for it to end (true story).  Bottom line is this…..you don’t know ANYONE’S journey.  We all have one.  Be kind because you have no clue the journey God has asked someone to take.  Show grace…..show mercy and for the love of God……don’t be mean, selfish and all-knowing!  Who knows….one day the roller coaster ride might be your journey and you might need the encouragement, support and love from someone that has already ridden that roller coaster.  None of us are promised smooth sailing!

THIS!

THIS!

Until next time……….

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Witnessing A Miracle

I am not one to “jump the gun” nor am I considered an optimist by most.  I usually hold back while I watch and wait to be sure that what I am “seeing” is real.  I am not an optimist and I am not a pessimist….I am a realist.  With that comes the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality.  So, yes I am not known for being overly “excited” when I see good changes in Hannah because the realist in me is watching, waiting and praying that the good is not temporary.

Today, I am letting my guard down and pray that it isn’t too early in the healing I am witnessing to do so.  I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow and this is gone.  But, as I fell to sleep last night I was laying there praying.  I told the Lord that I wanted to shout this from the rooftop.  I wanted people to see what I see….the fact that it appears we are truly in the midst of a healing miracle.  I know we have a long journey ahead of us.  These good changes won’t last without continued treatment but what I am witnessing…..the changes that I am seeing is NOTHING short of a MIRACLE!  One that only God can do.  If you had told me 4 months ago that I would be looking at and getting back the little girl that I once knew, I probably would have called you a liar and told you that little girl was gone forever.  Prior to IVIG; I thought she was gone.  I didn’t think I would ever see that loving, sweet, funny, playful, precious little girl ever again.  I was scared…..I was worried…..I was afraid this nightmare would never end nor did I think I would ever see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”  The first 3 months of IVIG were horrific.  She was sick a lot and then for 10 days after her 3rd month of infusions she raged….worse than ever before.  I even made the comment to Dennis “how do we do this forever?”  Then, like a light switch on that 11th day (Memorial Day to be exact)…..something changed.  She went to bed on that Sunday night angry and raging and woke up happy, laughing and BACK!  About 4 days prior to this past infusion (the 4th month of IVIG), I could tell it was time for another one!  She wasn’t as happy, she wasn’t as funny and in some ways she had gone “blank” again.  The anger and rage were creeping back and once again I plummeted into that deep, dark, hole of worry and grief.  This last infusion has been nothing short of miraculous!  She did great and ever since the 2nd day of her infusion she has been back again.  She is happy, laughing (that deep gut cackling happy laugh that I have so missed), she is singing, dancing, loving and PLAYING for hours on end in her room with her toys!  She is sleeping again for the most part and when she crawls in bed with me each morning I don’t have to be prepared to defend myself from her rage and aggression.

Am I “jumping the gun?”  Perhaps, I am, but I promised the Lord that I would give Him all the praise, the glory and the honor NO MATTER WHAT!  I feel, at times, that I have failed Him as I haven’t done that through it all.  There have been times that I have asked, “Why?”  There have been times that I have been angry, depressed and wished for a different life!  But, through it all He has remained faithful to me even through my doubt, my fears and my anger.  Through it all He has been steadfast and He has indeed carried me through the darkest of days.  So, even if I am “jumping the gun” and she regresses tomorrow….I will still praise Him.  I will still give Him the glory and I will still wait until the miracle we are seeing is complete and she is healed with a complete healing only God can give.  I believe that will happen.  I believe with everything I have in me that we are indeed witnessing a miracle of God and I believe that soon we will have her back complete and whole; the little girl she was prior to September of 2013!

So, hear me shout it from the rooftops….hear me singing the praise of the Great Physician…..hear me rejoice in His mercy, His grace, His love and in the healing that ONLY Christ can give!

From this......

From this……

TO THIS.....Thank you Lord!

TO THIS…..Thank you Lord!

Please keep praying……the Lord isn’t finished yet!

Until next time………

 

Funny Girl

Hannah has had some good days lately since this last IVIG and I am so thankful.  She has had some “moments” (problems), but they are just that….MOMENTS, not all day, horrific, hours!  So, for that I am extremely grateful.  We are seeing improvement.  Some days, more than others.  Some days are GREAT while other days are more of the roller coaster ride….but, overall improvement and that is all I have prayed for.  We knew going into this it would be a LONG road to recovery but I do feel we are on the right track.  For that, I am extremely grateful.

Hannah has had some funny things to say lately.  Her little personality is coming back and she seriously has had us laughing out loud.  Thought I would share some of those moments with you today.

We were driving home from St. Pete on Saturday and the traffic was horrendous. Dennis, was driving of course, Hannah was in the backseat watching TV and I was, in Dennis’ words, “driving from the passenger side.” Dennis had to slam on breaks several times during the trip and each time Hannah would say, “Daddy be careful please.” Finally, about the 4th or 5th time she looked up and said….”Daddy be careful….JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL!!!” HA! No joke….we busted out laughing!  But, in all honesty, she was SO very sincere in her request that Jesus takes the wheel!

Nothing better than a cupful of fritos while riding in the car......

Nothing better than a cupful of Honey BBQ Fritos while riding in the car……

Lately, this has been the “I love you” conversation with Hannah…..

Hannah:  “I love you mommy.”

Me:  “I love you Hannah.”

Hannah:  “I love you more.”  HA!

Hannah knows all the name of her medications.  So, she will tell me which one she wants to take first, second, third and so on by calling it by name.  She will say…..”Trileptal please,” and I will give her Trilpetal and then she will say “I love Trileptal!”  She will do this for each medication and she is on many of them (11 to be exact).  She takes most of them twice daily so you can imagine how long it takes to give her medications to her now since she has to “ask” for each one and then afterwards say she loves them each by name!  Cracks me up!

Now this next thing is HUGE……for the last 18+ months Hannah has had NO energy.  She hasn’t wanted to play with toys at all.  All she has wanted to do is sit on the sofa either watching TV or playing with her iPad.  I cannot begin to tell you how depressing it has been for me to watch her just sit lethargic, with a sad face and in pain not wanting to do anything.  Well, that all has changed since her 3rd IVIG infusion, which was in May.  After that infusion when we started seeing improvement she also started playing in her room again.  Not just for 30 minutes or an hour but ALL DAY LONG.  The only time now that she even wants to watch TV is while she eats lunch.  It has been amazing to listen to her and watch her “pretend play” in her room again.  Her favorite thing to do is play doctor on her baby dolls.  She even goes as far as to setting up a make-shift IV stand for IVIG, a surgical center for “cut-cut blood” for open-heart surgery and even covers the babies with blankets, puts pull-ups on them (which I have had to now store at the top of her closet because they are too expensive to waste) and she cuddles them after inserting an IV, giving them a shot or taking their temperature (which she always does rectally, YIKES).  Just to watch her imitate all the things that she has endured from blood work, to IV’s, to giving medications, taking temperatures and having surgery is sad but also very refreshing to me.  Sad, that all she knows is doctors, medications, procedures and surgeries but refreshing to see her playing again and understanding what she is going through and how she wants to love on her babies when they are “sick.”

IVIG set-up....notice the baby is

IVIG set-up….notice the baby is reclining on a bed with a blanket; the way Hannah does for her IVIG. The heart-shaped stand is the IV pole. Hannah is wearing gloves because ALL good nurses do and she has everything she needs to start an IV (including the purple tie that she uses as a tourniquet. Oh my!

Getting everything ready to begin the procedure.

Getting everything ready to begin the procedure.

“One stick baby. Only hurt just a little bit.”

IMG_3747

Getting the stethoscope to check vitals while the infusion is running!

Preparing for surgery!

Preparing for surgery!  Giving pre-meds….notice the IV stand again!

Poor baby, getting

Poor baby, getting “cut-cut blood.”

Doctor Hannah is pleased with how well the patient is doing obviously!

Doctor Hannah is pleased with how well the patient is doing, obviously!

Needless to say, this is all Hannah knows but I am so happy to see her playing with her toys again, with a smile on her face and not sad, tired, lethargic and anxious.  If you ask her what she is going to do when she gets much better she replies…..”Hannah back to school, Hannah back to church praise Jesus; Hannah much better.”  God love her and her sweet heart!  I long for those 2 things for her….school and church…..that is all she wants in life.  Wouldn’t life be easier if all any of us ever wanted was health, wisdom, education and God?  Things you could learn from a brave little girl with Down Syndrome.

Hannah is my big helper lately too.  She loves to help with laundry and unfortunately, has tried starting loads all by herself if I am not watching.  OOPS!  She loves to fold her clothes and put them away.  She loves to help in the kitchen and always gives everyone napkins (because no one likes to be messy, right?) and she always takes the dirty dishes and puts them in the sink.  She cleans her room beautifully each time without being asked….be jealous, be very, very jealous!  HA!  That is the one thing about her extreme OCD that I love…..she NEVER and I repeat NEVER leaves toys out!  Girl after my own heart!  She is slightly bossy though and will look at the floors and say “mommy, clean house, it dirty.”  She will then proceed to the hall closet and try to take the vacuum out for me!  Little booger!

Anyway, I thought since most of my posts are so discouraging, depressing and show that I truly need a full-time therapist; I would post the good changes I have seen over the past 4-6 weeks.  We still have a very long way to go.  We are nowhere near finished with treatment nor are we cured; but I am hopeful and of course continually prayerful that we are on the right track and that one day; Lord willing, we will have our little girl whole, healthy and completely healed!  Please keep praying for her and us too if you think about it.  We covet the prayers of our prayer warriors!

Until next time……….

 

My Grieving Heart Wishes

This week has been difficult for me for several reasons.  I have felt myself grieving more than usual and wishing for things that I don’t have.  Not wishing for “normal things” like a bigger house or newer car; but wishing for things like health, peace and a different journey.

This is Hannah’s week for IVIG but we have done things slightly different this week since Dennis has a conference to attend in St. Pete. We have stayed at the beach resort with him and driven into downtown each day for Hannah’s infusions.  As nice as the resort is I didn’t realize how difficult it would be on me emotionally and mentally.  You see, it is very family oriented.  Lots of families on vacations and it has broken my heart to see the “normalcy” of the family dynamic that I so long for and grieve over daily.  We have seen families splashing in the pools together, playing on the beach, eating out, roasting s’mores over a campfire, watching the sunsets, watching outdoor movies and many other things.  We can’t do most of those things with Hannah due to her sensory processing disorder, low immune system, impulsivity and of course the dreaded nightmare disease called PANDAS.  Hannah can’t handle the crowds, loudness, and busyness.  She has no boundaries and in all honesty she does what her brain tells her to do and it is usually the WRONG thing.  Between her anxiety and extreme OCD she is very hard to manage and control in public.  In fact, at times, I wonder if she will ever be able to be out in public and conduct herself accordingly.  Until you have lived this life, you cannot fathom how hard it is on this mama’s heart, and my heart aches for any mama that has to go through this.  It is a very isolating and lonely existence.

Some days my grief gets the best of me and I have to take a timeout just to allow myself to grieve the loss of dreams I had for Hannah and wishes that I still long for.  Our life is not what I envisioned or hoped for and in keeping up with the whole transparency thing I have going here…..I wish things were different.

I wish for:

No obsessive compulsive acts or thoughts

No sickness

The ability to be out in public without meltdowns, rage, sadness and anxiety

Time alone with my husband……a vacation for just the 2 of us

Going fun places and doing fun things with Hannah

School and church…..the 2 things Hannah wants to do more than anything

Not having to travel monthly for hospital stays for treatment but instead fun trips and vacations.

Family times with immediate and extended family members

Fun times with friends and their families

A break from doctor visits, medications and procedures

Living, laughing and loving life

I could go on and on but you get the picture and now it seems it has turned into a whining session so I will stop.  I am thankful we have seen some improvement with Hannah but I guess I live life waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We have such a long road ahead of us that some days I only see the sad and lonely instead of the hopes and wishes of the future.  Some days my heartache and grieving overpowers the hope that I pray is to come.  Please bear with me as I put my heart out here in writing…..again, my therapy and for those that choose to read my ramblings; I thank you for walking this journey with me.

Praying my grief becomes less and my wishes are one day fulfilled.  Until then, we keep pressing on this journey in front of us with the hope and strength that only God can give!

Until next time……..

 

 

 

Caring For The Caregiver

Have you ever been told or actually said to someone yourself…..”you have to take care of YOU so you can care for your loved one?”  If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this over the past 10 years (and especially the last 21 months), I would be a millionaire.  Of course, I totally agree with it, but when you are caring for a loved one; whether it be an aging parent, a sick child, a disabled child, a spouse or even a grandparent; it is so much easier said (and heard) than actually done.

For the past nearly 10 years (July 27th will be 10 years), I have cared for a child with disabilities and a slew of illnesses.  I have it a little better than a lot of caregivers though.  You see, I have a husband.  I have many friends that have someone they care for 24/7 with little to no help.  I can still go out after Dennis gets home from work and grocery shop, go to Target and even hit up Steinmart occasionally.  I even take time every now and then to grab dinner with a girlfriend.  But, I know several people personally that go at it all alone.  Having gone through all I have with Hannah has truly opened my eyes to the world of Caregiving.  I know personally how exhausting it is emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually; more so than I ever thought possible.  I will be the first to admit that there are days I just don’t want to do it anymore and I know, if you asked anyone that cares for a sick, disabled or ailing loved one, they would say the same thing.  We do it because there is NO OTHER CHOICE!  We don’t do it because it is our hearts desire or we wake up every morning excited about changing diapers, preparing special meals, waiting to be attacked, hearing screaming and crying from pain, not being able to leave the house, suctioning trachs, giving enemas, giving a slew of medications, and picking up twice as much as our own weight.  We wake up and do those things, plus many others because we have to and it is the journey of our life right now.  It isn’t that we relish it and in my own personal life I do it many days through tears.  Again though, I have it better than most.

There is a loneliness to this life.  Being a caregiver will truly show you who is still there caring about you when you are “out of sight, out of mind.”  It is a horrible feeling to think you have no one to turn to.  No one that you can really call just to hear another person’s voice; just to have an adult conversation!  I think I call Dennis 3-4 times everyday just to have, even a very brief, adult conversation because the loneliness sets in something fierce most days.  I have no issues being alone.  In fact, I relish my “alone time.”  But the loneliness I am speaking of is that kind where you are caring for someone but that person doesn’t talk or communicate well, if at all and through your busyness, your heart is aching and you just long to have someone come alongside of you and just be there.  It is truly difficult to put into words the loneliness even when you aren’t completely physically alone.  It is the mental and emotional loneliness that is by far, worse than a physical one.

My heart is so heavy for those that walk the journey of a caregiver.  I wish I was in a place in my life to minister and help those in situations like mine, but worse.  I can’t physically help much right now but I can bring awareness to it and that is what this blog post is about.  Bringing awareness to those that are 24/7 Caregivers and how you can tell they need help and how you can help them.

There is something called Caregivers Fatigue.  I KNOW it exists because I have experienced some of it.  Here is a definition and signs/symptoms of Caregivers Fatigue:

The demands of caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you have little control over the situation or you’re in over your head. If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout. When you’re burned out, it’s tough to do anything, let alone look after someone else. That’s why making time to rest, relax, and recharge isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. Read on for tips on how to regain balance in your life.

Caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, but it also involves many stressors: changes in the family dynamic, household disruption, financial pressure, and the added workload. So is it any wonder that caregivers are some of the people most prone to burnout?

Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging, since it is typically a chronic, long-term challenge. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better. Without adequate help and support, the stress of caregiving leaves you vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression.

When caregiver stress and burnout puts your own health at risk, it affects your ability to provide care. It hurts both you and the person you’re caring for. The key point is that caregivers need care too. Managing the stress levels in your life is just as important as making sure your family member gets to his doctor’s appointment or takes her medication on time.

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress

Anxiety, depression, irritability
Feeling tired and run down
Difficulty sleeping
Overreacting to minor nuisances
New or worsening health problems
Trouble concentrating
Feeling increasingly resentful
Drinking, smoking, or eating more
Neglecting responsibilities
Cutting back on leisure activities
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout

You have much less energy than you once had
It seems like you catch every cold or flu that’s going around
You’re constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
You neglect your own needs, either because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore
Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction
You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available
You’re increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for
You feel helpless and hopeless

Now, what can you do to help you ask?  I am so glad that you asked that VERY important question!  Here are some suggestions to help someone that you may know that is a Caregiver for someone:

1.  The person you know may not feel like they can leave their loved one BUT maybe they would like some company.  Call and set up a time where you can stop by for a few minutes just to chat or share some coffee or dessert.  I can guarantee you that your friend who you are visiting would be very willing to brew a nice pot of coffee or make some tea to have a chance to visit with another adult!

2.  Drop a card in the mail just to let them know you are thinking of them.

3.  Offer to go to Publix or Target and do some shopping for them.  I promise, the caregiver will pay you back!  It doesn’t have to be you buying those things and not getting reimbursed; it is just a thoughtful thing to do for someone that cannot get out very often.

4.  Offer to bring dinner by….this one is huge!  Another good thing is offering to bring a meal by they could freeze for a night down the road when they have had a difficult day and find they are too tired to cook.  Remember Caregivers still have to feed their family; no matter how much they do during the day.

5.  Remember the person that is caregiving most likely doesn’t get to go to church.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful idea to take church to them?  I will let you in on a little secret…..for MANY years I couldn’t take Hannah to church.  We would go and she would get sick and then go again and she would get sick, etc.  So for the first 5 years of her life, she and I didn’t go often at all.  Then, we were able to go more for a few years, but again it wasn’t regularly and then now, we haven’t been AT ALL in 2 years!  Do you know what one of my greatest heartaches has been?  That no one has ever offered (until this past week) to “skip” church (Oh God forbid) and come to my house and have church with me!!   You know, the Bible does say where 2 or more are gathered, I am there with them…..wow, what a concept….skip going to the big church house and instead go to the home of a homebound person and have Christian fellowship with them instead.  Heck, to make it even better stop and pick up doughnuts….I can guaran-dang-tee you that the homebound person would put on a big pot of coffee to enjoy with you and those doughnuts!  Church isn’t about going and sitting idle in a big building….it is about reaching out into your community….to those that either can’t or won’t go to church…..I think this is something the church should do……not the building, the people!  Step out of your comfort zone….I promise you will be blessed for it.

6.  Put a gift card in the mail, send flowers, send a fruit basket…….easy things to do that mean so much to the ones that are home staring at walls; at times feeling like those walls are closing in!

7.  PICK UP THE TELEPHONE…..listen to this one……don’t text, don’t Facebook, don’t tweet, don’t Instagram…..pick up the phone and actually dial the number to TALK to the person!  Talking on the phone, just like dropping a card in the mail are lost in this society; but it makes a really huge impression and is a really awesome thing for the homebound caregiver!

8.  Offer to go clean the caregiver’s home.  I know, this one is not a favorite but it could be the biggest blessing in someone’s life.  I, fortunately can get mine done but some weeks it barely happens.  I am blessed to have a husband that pitches in when I have fallen behind in my chores.  So many people don’t have that kind of help.

9.  Be a friend…..don’t offer advice…..don’t say what you think will make the person feel better…..just LISTEN.  So many times well-meaning people end up hurting others by saying things like, “everything happens for a reason,” or “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” or my all-time favorite….”God knew you could handle this because you are so strong.”  People don’t want to hear platitudes; they just want a friend.  Someone to listen and be there!  In fact, in all honesty…..I would prefer not to talk about the one thing my “caregiving” life revolves around.  I want to talk about things with friends that make me, for just a minute, forget about my problems and enjoy conversation and life.

10.  Make them laugh!  Laughter is good  medicine.

11.  Speaking of good medicine…..a bottle of wine is great medicine for those that want to know!  Yes…..send them a bottle of wine!  Most people don’t care if it is white or red…..just send a bottle!  Most Cardiologists agree red is better for you though (at least that is what my Cardiologist told me).  Don’t worry, a homebound caregiver is not going to become an alcoholic on one bottle of wine and they aren’t going to be drinking and driving…..for all of you worried about that nonsense!  Oh and for you Baptist folk…..Jesus turned water into wine; it ain’t a sin to drink it!  Stopping there because I am sure there are some Baptists out there thinking I have lost my ever-loving mind…..haven’t lost my faith, just the legalism!

Okay, I have rambled enough……the point is this…..there is a whole world of hurting people out there all because their lives are trapped inside their home taking care of a loved one that cannot care for themselves.  The Caregiver gets little to no sleep each night.  They are up around the clock giving medications, taking care of potty issues, cleaning up messes most have no clue about and doing things day in and day out that you know nothing about.  They do it out of love and because they have no other choice.  If they don’t do it, no one else will!  They sacrifice EVERYTHING to make sure their loved one is taken care of.

Again, I will say this about my own situation…..even though at times I have felt and feel like this I know others that have it so much worse.  I have a husband that helps me.  I know many people, and trust me, you do too, that don’t have the resources available to them for help.  Please find someone that you can help!  If you want to help someone and you don’t know anyone in this situation please let me know because I could give you a list of precious, wonderful, sweet and loving people who could use a friend to love on them and minister to them.

caregiver

Until next time………

Extending Grace

I have written a few times about grace and at times how I wish people would have extended grace to me throughout this journey with Hannah, but what about extending grace in our day-to-day lives to all people.

I love what I learned years ago as the acronym for GRACE….Gods Riches At Christ’s Expense.  Isn’t that beautiful?  God’s grace….like the old hymn….here is the chorus…..

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

But, what about our daily lives….do we extend the same kind of grace and love that Christ extended to us?  There is so much going on in our society that I disagree with….so many decisions people make that I don’t understand….ethically, morally, politically and religiously BUT….this is where all you Baptists will think I have lost my ever-loving mind…..this is where grace comes in for me.

Here is the thing….I don’t have to agree with people and their choices.  I can even think “geez, that person has gone bat-crazy.”  But I feel as a Christian and someone that doesn’t deserve the grace that God has extended to me that I also need to think before I speak and extend that same kind of grace to others.  Not meaning that I am going to die on the cross for someone’s sins (that has already been done for us and let’s just be real…..I am not qualified to do that as the ONLY person that was, was sinless and did it for us).  But, I am capable of extending grace to others….yes, even those that I don’t agree with.

Let’s take Bruce Jenner, er Caitlyn Jenner for instance.  I don’t “get it.”  I don’t understand the transgender lifestyle.  I am perfectly happy with the way God made me and I honestly have NO desire to be a man or carry around “man parts,” if you know what I mean…..ewwww!  On the flip side…..my husband is happy to be the way God made him and has no desire to be a woman!  So, with that said, I don’t understand what is going on in Bruce Jenner’s head…..or Caitlyn Jenner….whatever he/she wants to be called.  All I do know is that God loves Bruce Jenner.  He died on the cross for Bruce Jenner and His grace is there for Bruce Jenner.  With all of that, who am I not to extend grace to him as well?  I don’t understand nor do I agree with the changes he has made but I am not going to sit here in judgement of him as I have NO clue what has gone on in his life to bring him to make this drastic change.  I don’t have to agree or disagree with him but I do have to extend grace.  If God can, then I certainly have to try.

Most know I am on the very conservative side of things politically and in all honesty having been raised Southern Baptist means that being legalistic and judgmental was all part of that upbringing.  I have moved away from that “Southern Baptist” title and I am running as far away as I can from that Legalism.  I find it to be so contradictory to live a Christian life and yet refuse to extend grace to those that don’t think or act like you do.  I am not saying be the person’s best friend, but show them God’s love and grace through your actions.  Instead of being judgemental and negative……extend your hand of acceptance of THEM, not their actions, but them as a person!  There is a huge difference in accepting someone for mere humanity sake than accepting the way they live their life and the choices they make (legal choices of course).  The bottom line is we are ALL the same.  We all are in need of grace….shouldn’t we extend that needed grace to everyone we come in contact with?

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I am not a fan of the Duggars….never have been; as my thought has always been that they are living a non-reality life.  They live in their own little world and obviously from the news lately they are not what they have preached they were.  They haven’t been accepting of others; they have condemned others and their lifestyles and now….well, I would say it has come back to bite them in a huge and devastating way!  Should we, as Christians, extend grace?  Absolutely!  Does that mean I agree with the way Josh’s crime was  “swept under the rug” 12 years ago?  Absolutely NOT!  Should he have had consequences and criminal charges filed at that time…YES!  But, if you look at it now and you really see what is happening to him and his family….he is reaping consequences!  The life-changing, life altering ones that will now follow him the rest of his adult life.  It would have probably been easier for him to have dealt with the consequences as a juvenile than what he will deal with now in the public eye.  Be sure your sins will find you out!  So, for those that think he has gotten away with something horrible….yes, he did 12 years ago but now he is reaping what he sowed and his family is too.  Grace….I am willing to extend it, but grace doesn’t take away from suffering the consequences of your actions; which I believe he and his family are finding out in a very big way.

Now, let me be a little frank here…..extending grace is not always easy and could I do it all.the.time over anything?  Not sure, actually.  That is left to be seen.  A murderer or a drunk-driver who kills a loved one, a rapist who attacks me or someone I know…..I haven’t been faced personally with any of that yet.  So, I guess I don’t know yet how I would react and if I would have to eat these words if one of those things happened!  Prayerfully, I will never have to find it out.  Grace doesn’t take away from consequences of wrong-doing.  I want to make my feelings on that very clear.  You commit a crime, you should have to pay for it appropriately; even the Bible says that!

I guess this blog post was brought on by several things lately.  I have had in-depth conversations with friends and family members about this subject.  Some agree and some don’t.  Maybe this post is me preaching to myself to always remember to extend grace.  I don’t want to be the person kicking another when they are down.  I don’t want anyone looking at me through judgemental eyes; so I need to be careful not to do it to others.  I don’t want to judge anyone based on the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their financial means (or lack thereof), their age, sex or the choices they make.  So many people will argue that we as Christians if we “accept” the person then we are “accepting” whatever it is that we disagree with.  That is a lie!  Does God deny you for your sins?  Does he turn His back on  you for whatever it is that causes you to stumble?  Crap, if that is the case then I am in BIG trouble!  The God I love and serve loves me in spite of myself.  He loves me for who I am, not by what I do!  That is all I am saying.  Let’s love people……extending grace and allowing Christ love to radiate through us!  So many people are hurting and just need to be loved and shown Christ love……I am working on that in my own life.  Extending grace to those that need it most!

I CHOOSE GRACE!

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Until next time……..