Always In My Heart

This week has not been a good one…..with Hannah regressing and the holidays approaching….well, it just hasn’t been what I had hoped for in terms of peaceful and easy.  We have so much going on in our lives (so much I have not divulged on my blog or Facebook, as the time isn’t right), but so much that has me stressed, anxious, excited, worried, frustrated and at times not knowing if I should scream out in joy or frustration.

Yesterday, as I meandered through my day like a zombie, it hit me what today was when I glanced at my calendar and saw the date of November 25th.  That date will always be remembered as one of the saddest days of my life.  Today, 3 years ago, I lost my best friend Angie to Stage 4 breast cancer.  A disease she bravely fought for 4 long years.  A disease that ultimately infected most of her body and took her from us.  A disease that cares nothing about your age, race, how many kids you have, your career, education, religion or political stance.  A disease that takes your quality and quantity of life away and for some people, takes your life.  A horrible disease that affects not only the individual suffering from it, but their family, friends and loved ones.

I watched my dear, dear friend suffer horrendously.  I watched her sweet parents, husband, children, brother and family grieve for her and watch knowing there was nothing they could do to help her.  She had so many other people…..co-workers, children she taught, church family and friends who prayed for her and helped the best they could with things, but still knowing it wasn’t enough.  Watching someone you love suffer is heart wrenching and there are no words, no actions and no deeds (except prayer) that truly help.

Through it all though…..I watched Angie.  I watched her smile through her pain.  I watched her do for others in spite of her own circumstances.  I watched her laugh, love, and exude joy in the midst of her difficulties.  She cracked jokes, allowed others to cry on her shoulder, helped others through their trials and did it all with joy as she walked through her 4-year long cancer journey.  Even toward the end, she cared more about everyone else than she did herself.  She wanted to make sure everyone else was okay and told us all the night before she went to Heaven…..”don’t cry for me.”  As I stood by her hospital bed the night before the Lord called her home surrounded by our best friends, Misti and Whitney and Angie’s sweet family and friends; I was amazed at Angie’s strength, her concern for everyone else and her peace.  She knew it was almost over.  She knew that soon the pain would be gone.  She knew that soon she would meet her Savior face-to-face.  She knew that one day we would all be united again.  She didn’t want us to cry for her, even though so many of us have and continue to. She reflected Jesus her whole life, but those 4 long painful, horrendous, cancerous years; she reflected Him with grace, mercy, kindness, patience, humility, peace and a strength I didn’t know anyone could possibly possess.  I have never and probably will never again see that kind of beautiful testimony from anyone walking a journey like God asked her to walk.  I know without a doubt why God allowed Angie to walk the road she did.  He knew she was the only one who could do it and rejoice in His goodness and His grace the entire time.  So many of us (certainly me) fail every.single.day.  We (I) have pity parties and say “why me God,” and have difficulties finding joy through our circumstances.  Not Angie…..she found joy, she exuded grace and she found her healing, exactly the way God wanted her to.  It isn’t the way those of us left behind wanted and for the record it isn’t what Angie personally wanted either……but God used a precious and devoted woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend to tell a story that only she could tell exactly the way God needed her to.  No one has touched me more than Angie Bowden Murray.  No one has shown me Jesus the way she did for 40 years.  She allowed our Lord to write her story and she played her part with more grace and love than anyone ever could have.

I miss you  my dear friend…..today and always…..until we meet again!  As I told you the night before you left us…..”This isn’t goodbye, this is I will see you soon, my friend.”

Angie with her husband and children, her parents and brother Wally and his wife Jenny. This photo was taken a few months before Angie went home to be with the Lord.

Angie with her husband Mark and their children, her parents (Mr. & Mrs. B) and brother Wally and his wife Jenny. This photo was taken a few months before Angie went home to be with the Lord.

 

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Angry and Numb

Angry because Hannah is regressing and numb because I don’t know how to do this again.  Three months and 13 days we had peace.  She was happy, full of personality and energy; so sweet and loving.  We started regressing last week and last night I saw the extreme side of her that I prayed I would never see again.  I cried……I asked God why and I pleaded with Him to fix this.  When I was finally able to give her a bath and her medications it helped to calm her somewhat and I was able to get her to bed without incident (thank you prayer warriors).  As I knelt on her bedroom floor while she was falling asleep I prayed earnestly and truly begged God to make this PANDAS nightmare a distant memory…..to give Hannah a complete healing and provide the answers that we are so desperately searching for.

What has caused this regression?  Is it a PANDAS flare or something else?  If it is a flare what germ did she come in contact with or is it a reaction to Dennis’ flu shot he received almost 3 weeks ago?  If it is something physical, is it because her iron levels are dropping (the latest blood work has confirmed it is dropping but not low enough to warrant another IV iron infusion) or is it adrenal crisis or could we have a sugar or dehydration type issue happening?  So many more questions than answers, thus has been our life for the past 2 1/2 years now.

I had been okay with our “new normal” since August.  Granted, Hannah wasn’t 100% but she was so much better.  She had extreme OCD, some tics and a touch of anxiety but the severe and life-altering symptoms of anger, rage, aggression and depression were nowhere to be found.  Yes, I could live with that as our “new normal.”  I would have been okay even cooped up in this house with THAT little girl……she was loving and kind and respectful.  If that was going to be the “new normal,” if we were never going to get the “old Hannah” back; then I could survive with the child she has been the past 3+ months.  Now, for the past week we have seen the regression.  It has been slight but we are seeing it increase now.  It isn’t as severe as before, but I am afraid with a little more time, it could be.  I am at a loss.  I feel lost.  I feel alone.  I feel empty.  I feel sad.  I feel numb.  I FEEL ANGRY.  I don’t want this.  I don’t want this to be our life forever.  I don’t know how to fix it and I am fearful of what the future holds.  I don’t know how to do this again.  I am heartbroken and distraught.  I want more for Hannah and frankly I want more for Dennis and me.

When Hannah gets like this, it takes ALL I am and all I have to tend to her, to care for her and to be all she needs me to be.  I have NOTHING left at the end of each day.  I end up not taking care of me and not being able to be the wife I need to be.  It is amazing, and by God’s grace alone that Dennis and I haven’t suffered more in our marriage than we have.  Did I just admit to our marriage suffering because of this?  Yes, I did…..has God been gracious and merciful to us and given  us a strong foothold?  Yes, He has.  I am so very grateful that my husband is so loving and understanding when this happens with Hannah.  He knows that I take the brunt of it and he allows me the grieving time I need each evening.  Some men would have given up and left by now.  I am so grateful for a husband that is as committed to our family and to our marriage as he is.  I grieve, every single day.  I sit on the sofa after Hannah goes to bed and I just ache……my heart feels so shattered and torn that all I can do is sit there, in silence and grieve.  Is that healthy for me?  I don’t know.  I just know by the end of the day I am spent……I am numb…..I am sad.

I told God last night that life sure wasn’t fair.  I pictured Him chuckling at me (not in a mean way) just a way like “well my dear daughter I never promised fair and I never promised easy.”  Then I picture Him getting a serious look on His face and saying…..”I did promise though to carry you when you couldn’t take another step and to never, ever, ever leave you.  I am here…..always and for eternity and one day none of this is going to matter.  One day healing will come.”  I am holding Him to that……..but right now I am still angry and I am still numb and I still want that healing for my little girl and in my human nature, I want that healing yesterday.

Until next time………..

One Step Closer

This weekend we got one step closer to bringing Henny back home.  I went down to Orlando on Friday night and stayed with Marty and Cathy (Henny’s Puppy Raisers) and on Saturday took my re-certification test with Henny so we could bring her home soon.  Henny amazed me…..it has been a year and a half since she and I have worked together.  I had to study all the commands beforehand, but not Henny.  She remembered all of her 40+ commands and did them perfectly, even with the many distractions going on around her.  Henny and I passed our test with flying colors and of course all the credit goes to Henny (she makes me look good).

As always, Marty and Cathy opened their home to me, fed me, fixed me some yummy drinks and gave me a place to relax and sleep.  They drove me on Saturday to where Henny and I needed to go for the test (which happened to coincide with Orlando’s DogFest which was so much fun and raised tons of money for Canine Companions for Independence).  I owe so much to this couple, who we instantly connected with as friends and are now family!  They have done so much for Henny and so much for us.  I could probably write a book about the selfless giving they have done not only for us but for CCI and so many other people.  They are truly some of the most generous, selfless, loving people I have ever met.

I enjoyed the 32 or so hours that I was able to get away.  Dennis stayed here at home with Hannah so I could just go and relax, do the test and have a little break; which I so desperately needed.  I was thankful for the time away to recharge my batteries but if I were being honest I would have chosen to make it a little longer!  HA!

If all goes as planned, we are hoping to bring Henny home by the first of the year.  We could bring her home now but with Hannah regressing somewhat we want to make sure we don’t bring Henny home too soon and Hannah not be completely ready.  So thankful to Marty, Cathy and CCI for stepping up and doing more than was ever required of them so that we could get this chance to bring Henny back home!  So ready to get our girl back and looking forward to better days ahead for our family.

This is what my view was while I ate breakfast on Saturday morning while standing in Marty and Cathy's kitchen!  HA!

This is what my view looked like while I ate breakfast on Saturday morning while standing in Marty and Cathy’s kitchen! HA!

 

DogFest Orlando prior to our test!

DogFest Orlando prior to our test!  This is Henny and me with Marty, Cathy and their CCI pup in training, Lucia!

 

Henny's much deserved break after the test was completed!  She fell asleep shortly after I took this picture!

Henny’s much deserved break after the test was completed! She fell asleep shortly after I took this picture!

 

Until next time…………

 

Asking God “Why”

Three months and thirteen days of having Hannah back.  Today, for some reason, that ended!  I don’t know if this is because of her anemia or if she has been exposed to some germ….but today after 3 months and 13 days, she attacked me not once, not twice, but three times so far.  I can’t go near her.  She is fine one minute, and then like a light switch being flipped, she is angry.  The rollercoaster that we have had a slight break from is now back and in just a matter of 4 hours, so far today, we have been on a vicious roller coaster ride of emotions…..anger, rage, aggression, sadness and anxiety!  I have no explanation as to why and to be honest I have probably asked God “why” at least 100 times in the past 4 hours.  He hasn’t answered verbally, of course, but it hasn’t stopped me from asking.  I don’t know why other than the “medical facts” that I do know that cause a flare and this could definitely be the beginning of one or perhaps a “fluke” for today (I am hoping for that anyway).  All I know is that the little girl who went to bed last night is not the same little girl who woke up this morning and I am incredibly sad about that.  It waxes and wanes…..she is okay and happy one minute and then she is not.  She is angry and belligerent one minute and then she is sweet and compliant.  She says sweet words in a sweet and loving voice one minute and then her words become mean and difficult to imagine that such things could come out of her mouth.

My life…….not knowing from minute to minute what lies ahead.  Will I go to hug her and will she hug me back or will she attack me?  Will I tell her I love her and will her response be “I love you so much with all my heart,” or will the response be “hurt mommy, hurt people?”  For 2 years and 2 months this has been our life.  The first 6 months were not too bad other than lots of illness and then the following 17 months were pure HELL and now the past 3 months have been a break from the hell; not perfect, not the way it was prior to September of 2013, but I was willing to accept it as our “new normal.”  I could live with the way things have been the past 3 months and 13 days.  Her OCD is extreme, her tics and some anxiety but there has been no anger, no rage, no aggression and no depression…..I could live like that…..I can accept that the damage done to her brain will leave residual issues; what I cannot accept or learn to live with is the extreme symptoms where I don’t know how to keep her safe or keep myself safe.

This morning when she attacked me the first time, it caught me so off guard that I just stood there, in shock wondering what just happened.  I was more prepared for the other times and I am now keeping a safe distance.  She is lacking energy today and is somewhat lethargic; so it does beg to question anemia, adrenal crisis and other physical issues as well.  I do think her iron level is dropping continuously because her PICA symptoms have returned.  If you don’t know what PICA is, it happens with a lot of iron-deficiency anemia where the person craves eating things that are not edible (paper, dirt, hair, soap, feces, etc.).  Hannah’s PICA symptoms had cleared up during her iron infusions but about 2 weeks ago all of those symptoms returned.  It is very possible that low iron could cause some of these neuropsychiatric-type issues and in all reality, I would love for that to be the case.  The problem is, any germ could also cause these behaviors, even if it doesn’t make her sick, she could have a reaction to someone else’s germs.  If it is the iron, then blood work should reveal that and we can begin iron infusions again.  It might be iron infusions will be needed, perhaps the rest of her life.  Her Hematologist expects that there is either a bleeding issue in the stomach or a malabsorption issue.  We are not sure which yet and if her iron is continuing to drop we are looking at one of those things being the cause and will need to do more testing.

Bottom line is today is the day I have been dreading for 3 months and 13 days.  I know I should be thankful for each good day but in the back of my mind and in my heart I knew this day could come.  In all honesty, I am not prepared if this is a flare…..having to live with this day in and day out until the flare is gone causes me extreme anxiety and sadness.  I feel lost today.  I feel sad today.  I feel forgotten today…..I know God has not forgotten about me or Hannah but I truly have asked him why and begged Him to heal her; allowing this to just be a “fluke.”

Your prayers are appreciated…..regardless of what this is and what is causing it…..I serve a God who can once again carry us when we don’t feel we can take another step.  I serve a God who loves us and will see us through and I serve a God who knows I am human and accepts that some days I just have to ask why; in my limited understanding of life at least I know MY GOD will never leave me nor forsake me and He has a plan that I don’t understand, but I can truly trust His heart!

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Until next time……..

My Person

Any Grey Anatomy fans out there??  I will admit, I have been addicted to the show since it started and I still am.  Two of the characters on the show (Meredith and Christina) were best friends.  The character of Christina is no longer on but while she was, they considered each other “their person.”  You know, your best friend, confidant, speaker of truth in your life no matter how much it hurts at times…..that person!  The one you trust completely with anything and the one who you would be lost without.    Do you have your person?  I have mine in the form of my brother.

Let me tell you about him……he is older than me (by 3 years and 2 months).  He picked on me unmercifully growing up and oh boy could I share some stories.  He would tell you that most of the stories I share you should take with a grain of salt and are mostly untrue; but they are all true.  He robbed me blind of my money, he cheated on board games, he told me more times than I care to count that he wished I had been born a boy because I was no fun.  He teased me about everything and made me cry A LOT!  But through all of that, he was and always has been there for me.  When the going got rough, he never left my side.  He would speak truth to me, sometimes painfully and he told me many times I was making mistakes (he was always right about those); and he told me more than once “I told you so.”  But NO matter what, he was always there to pick me up, bop me upside my head, tell me I was stupid and to do better next time.  He took up for me when I was bullied in school by this dufus popular boy named Jon.  The dufus didn’t know I was Tracy’s sister and was SO mean to me.  Until the day he picked on me riding home on the school bus and one of the girls looked at Tracy and said, “hey Trac….Jon’s picking on your sister!”  Jon immediately stopped dead in his tracks, looked at my brother and said, “this chic is your sister?”  My brother said, “yeah, now leave her alone.”  From that day on Jon never picked on me again…..in fact he was more annoying than ever because he followed me around wanting to “help” me do everything, from carrying my school books to opening my locker to giving me his hand as I got on and off the school bus.  He would even sit with me and talk to me the whole ride home!  HA!

My brother was there when I had my first heartbreak.  He was there with all my high school drama.  He was there when no one understood.  He was there when I moved out-of-town, he was there when I moved back.  He was there when I married my first husband and when I divorced him.  He was there when I met and married Dennis and then when I had Hannah.  He was there in the good times and bad; and he still is.  He is my sounding board, my best “forever” friend and my hero.  In fact, funny thing…..when Dennis doesn’t know what to do with me, he walks next door at work (their offices are next door to each other) and walks over to my brother, tells him what is going on and 9 times out of 10 my phone will ring at some point with my brother on the other end just being there, ready to listen (and of course make jokes about whatever is going on), but he is there.  He doesn’t always agree with me, but he is willing to listen; but when asked he will give me his 2 cents and 99.9% of the time…..he is right.  He allows me to vent, acknowledges my feelings matter and then puts everything into perspective for me.  He is my person!  Let me add a little more to this because he is Hannah’s person too!  She adores her UNC.  In fact, so much that when Tracy is in the room all of Hannah’s attention is solely placed on him!  No one and nothing else matters.  She knows his text tone on my phone and every time he texts, she will say….”Unc come here, play Hannah house.”  Nothing sweeter than watching your brother and daughter and the relationship they have…..so much love for each other and it shows!

I will be honest….I was worried when Hannah was born that it would be hard for Tracy.  So many people don’t know how to react to a child with Special needs, but it never was an issue with him.  In fact, in some ways it is best for Tracy because he gets to just be silly with her and she loves his silliness.  She is still very much a child, even though she is 10, cognitively she is still a toddler in some ways.  It works well for her and Tracy……in fact, sometimes we say they share a brain!  HA!

I also love the relationship that he and Dennis have.  They are brother-in-laws but more importantly, they are friends.  I love that they share common interests (heck, they both have the same job, just different divisions).  They are a lot alike in SO many ways too….almost scary.  They probably could have been brothers.  Guess, I saw Tracy’s qualities in Dennis and that told me I would be getting a good man.

I am telling you all this because today is a special day.  Today is “my person’s” birthday and he deserves to be celebrated.  He is my brother, my friend, my mentor, my therapist (even though he would prefer at times not to be) and my hero!

Happy Birthday Brother!  You are loved!

Cutie-patootie

Cutie-patootie

Those cheeks

Those cheeks

He is going to kill me for these pictures!

He is going to kill me for these pictures!

"Mommy, please can we keep her?" My mom said he said that.....he has eaten those words since!

“Mommy, please can we keep her?” My mom said he said that when she took this picture…..he has regretted those words ever since!

Until next time………

Crippled With Fear And In Need Of Socialization

Fear……it is crippling.  There are many different kinds of fear.  For instance, I tell people all the time that Hannah has NO FEAR whatsoever, except for one thing….rain!  She is scared to death of the rain and thunderstorms.  It is a fear that just started the past year or so; but it literally paralyzes her and causes her extreme anxiety, especially when it wakes her up.

I have never been a fearful person over much!  Snakes and riding in the car with Dennis driving (HA), I would say those are my worst two fears; until 2 years ago.  Let me back up to 10 years ago……Hannah was born with a very bad and weak heart.  The worst thing possible for her would have been to get sick.  We spent 4 weeks in the hospital after she was born and during those VERY long weeks the doctors and nurses instilled in me a fear of germs!  I never until Hannah was born had this kind of fear when it came to germs.  Let me tell you…..it is a very real fear for me, especially now.  I came home from the hospital and placed hand sanitizer in every room of the house, in the vehicles and in my purse.  If anyone came over before they could even glance Hannah’s way, they had to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.  I know this would not have been the case had the doctors and nurses not put the fear of DEATH in me.  Hannah’s heart was that bad and getting sick could have truly been detrimental.  Fast forward over the years, my fear eased up some and Hannah even went to school and church when she was well.  Then…..September 2013 hit like a wrecking ball and we couldn’t get Hannah well and then PANDAS hit us head on and it was a living nightmare.  I know for a fact if I wasn’t a germaphobe before, I am now!  My phobia of germs is truly crippling and at times the fear paralyzes me and leaves with horrible anxiety.

You see, dealing with PANDAS, if Hannah gets exposed to any germ or gets sick the inflammation in her brain will take over and all of the extreme, horrific side effects (OCD, tics, anxiety, sadness, rage, aggression and anger) will return full-force.  I live in constant fear of germs and her regression because of that.  Hannah has been doing great since her August IVIG infusion.  She has had the best 3 months than she has had in 2 years!  She is still dealing with extreme OCD and some slight anxiety issues but everything else is practically gone!  I would say she is back 75%!  The problem is her immune system is still low and the risk of infection is still high; hence the reason we live in a bubble!  I know the time will come that she will get sick and it won’t be until then that we see how much (if any) regression that will occur.  It could be that she won’t regress at all due to the IVIG having done what it was supposed to do or she could regress back to where she was at the beginning of PANDAS.  We just don’t know.  What I do know is the fear of illness, the fear of germs and the fear of regression is crippling to me.  My prayer many times each day is “Lord, please keep us all safe, healthy and well.”

It isn’t easy to admit that you are fearful.  In fact there are several verses in the Bible that speak on fear.

2 Timothy 1:7  –  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  

Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  (I just change “who” to “what”)

Isaiah 35:4 – Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “be strong, do not fear!  Behold your God will come with a vengeance with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”  

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  

So, admitting that I live in fear of germs/sickness/illness/regression is difficult to admit when I know fear is not of God.  But, let me be clear when I say…..the fear is real.  It is debilitating at times, especially if anyone comes to our home or I have to take Hannah to the doctor…..it turns into major anxiety for me, much of the time.  Just keeping it real, folks!  Fear and anxiety are 2 very real things and they are miserable when you deal with it daily!

I will be honest, I don’t know how to live without this fear.  Knowing that sickness and germs could wreak havoc on my daughter’s brain makes me never want to leave the house with her ever again.  The sad thing is, that isn’t fair to Hannah and I am trying so hard to figure out a way to give her the socialization that she not only NEEDS but CRAVES!  This life is so unfair for her and I am searching for the answer to help me balance it all and give her what she needs and wants without jeopardizing her health and well-being.  It is a difficult position to be in.  I have always said that Hannah’s health comes first, NO MATTER WHAT and I still mean that.  But, the sad thing is, she doesn’t know what it is like to have friends (heck for that matter sometimes I don’t either).  She is cooped up in this house with me 24/7 and it is so unfair to her, especially for her cognitive and social development.  I am truly at a loss of what to do.  What people don’t understand and what I have been criticized for so harshly over the years is when she is sick…..I am the one having to endure it with her; no one else.  It is very hard as a caregiver to have to deal with sickness on top of all the other things we deal with.  You add sickness, especially with Hannah and her extreme symptoms due to brain inflammation and it takes weeks and weeks to get her well, relieving the symptoms.  So, as much criticism as I have received over the years, people haven’t seen (nor do most care) about what the “hands on” aspect is for me.  In one word, it is HELL.  So, it is my responsibility for her and now with PANDAS, in my best interest to do all I can to keep her well.  But, again, the result of that is isolation and it sucks!

So, here I am at the holidays again, not knowing what to do.  Well, I know what I have to do but it isn’t what I want.  I pray the day will come where my fear and our reality will change and we can break free of this prison we have had to create and learn to live again!

On a lighter note…..these cartoons made me laugh, although they are true for me!

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HA! This is so me!

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Germaphobes Anonymous.

Until next time……..

 

 

 

My Right and My Responsibility

Let me tell you a little story……

When I was 18 years old, I was heading home from a late dinner with friends from church on a Sunday night.  I had just called my parents from my “car” phone.  Notice I didn’t say cell phone because back then the phone was actually installed in your car (just showed my age, didn’t I).  I had called them around 11:30pm and told them I was heading home.  At about 11:40pm as I rounded 20th Street Expressway (which wasn’t and still isn’t the greatest area of town, but was my route home); I looked in my rearview mirror and noticed a large car (looked to be a big Lincoln or Caddy) and several men (boys) inside.  That is when it happened.  I heard a loud POP and my driver side window shattered.  Then another loud POP and as I glanced up in my rearview mirror again I saw the passenger of the car behind me pulling a gun back inside the window.  I kept driving and picked up the phone and called my parents.  My mom answered the phone and immediately said, “what is wrong?”  I said, “I think I have just been shot at and my window is blown out.”  My dad grabbed the phone and told me to drive home and not to stop.  As I was heading up the ramp to get onto Interstate 95, the car behind me kept going straight.  I told my dad they didn’t follow me.  I got home and we called the police.  My car had what appeared to be rat shot pellet marks all the way down the passenger side of the car and of course there was glass everywhere from my window being blown out.  The next day my dad went and bought me my first gun.

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Let me go back a few years prior, as my brother and I were raised around guns.  My dad always had them but he taught us to have a keen respect and love for the weapon.  He showed us at very young ages what a gun could do and just how dangerous they are.  If I recall correctly, I shot my first gun at the age of 5 and I have loved shooting ever since.  Dad taught us that a gun could save our lives one day, but also that they were not toys.  Dad never kept his guns locked up and they were always loaded (I mean, what good is an unloaded gun) and never once did my brother or me ever touch them when we weren’t supposed to.  To this day, if someone hands me a gun, the first thing I do is make sure it is not loaded.  I have a fondness for guns and an even stronger respect for them.  So, obviously with my conservative upbringing, it should come as no surprise that I support and believe in our 2nd Amendment Rights and I cling to those rights along with my guns.

Funny story is the day of mine and Dennis’ first date when he came to pick me up at  my apartment, I had a stamp on my hand.  He asked me where it was from and I told him that my dad and I had gone to the gun show that day!  I think I stole his heart at that moment!  HA!  I always have a gun with me.  I am never without one and yes, before you question, I have my concealed weapons permit.  That is the main reason I am writing this blog post.  I had to go Friday and renew my permit as it was to expire the first of the year.  I have had my concealed carry permit for many, many years and I strongly urge all law-abiding citizens to get one, learn to shoot and carry.  You never know when you might need it.

I have had 2 really bad situations happen to me in the past 15 years…..once before Hannah was born and once when she was about 3 years old.  Let me tell you…..had I needed to pull the trigger, I would have.  Fortunately, on both occasions that was not necessary but the one thing my dad taught me was “if you have to pull your gun, be prepared to shoot.”  If you are in fear of your life…….you have the right under the constitution to defend yourself.  What happened to me 25 years ago on that dark, desolate highway was random and probably kids just “joking” around.  Had they wanted to hit me, they probably could have.  The day and age we live in is so very different from 25 years ago.  We live in a world where it is truly not safe and I will tell you this……if anything ever happens I will be prepared.  We don’t go around thinking, “oh, I will never need a gun…..it won’t happen to me.”  You go around prepared and pray you never need to pull it out or pull the trigger.  But, you need to be prepared to do so.

I live my life expecting the unexpected!  I live my life prepared, organized and on alert.  I am very aware of my surroundings…..people, places, cars, things……I don’t ever let my guard down when I am out, especially if Hannah is with me.  Always looking, watching and ready.  I think it is sad we have to live like that, but the city I live in is one of the most unsafe places in Florida!  I wish we lived in a world where you didn’t have to lock your doors or carry guns to protect yourself, but we do.  The truth of the matter is this……you will never see the day where guns are out of the bad guys hands…..they will always have guns. It is our right and our responsibility to arm and protect ourselves.  The only way to get my gun will be to pry it out of my cold, dead hand!  This idea of gun control and getting guns out of people’s hands is a joke!  The only hands the guns will leave are those of the innocent.  Those who wish to harm, will find a way to keep their guns…..period!  Innocent blood will continue to be shed and innocent lives will be in harm’s way even more with stricter gun laws than we have now.  We don’t have a gun problem in this country, we have a people problem.  Fact is, guns don’t kill people…..people kill people!  Yes, they use guns, knives and other weapons to do it, but we need to blame the person; not the weapon!  The weapon is only lethal because of the person behind it.

Our rights as defined by the constitution gives us the freedom to bare arms and that is one freedom I refuse to give up!

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Until next time……..