Tis The Season

For years this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas was always my favorite time of year.  The food, the weather, the family gatherings, the parties, the presents…..everything.  I loved it all.  The past few years (especially the last 3 years) things have changed drastically for me.  Being that I am stuck in my home for the most part I have learned to be an introvert and a recluse.  Now, being out and about or with a lot of people brings out anxiety in me that I have never had.  It is a really strange feeling to once love being social and then over the course of just 3 years dreading any social activity.  Now, to admit this next part is difficult, but I finally understand the depression that hits so many people this time of the year.  I find myself fighting it, trying to be happy/content and trying to “choose joy.”  By the way, I really hate that saying “choose joy,” although it is a choice so often, other times it is nearly impossible to choose it, no matter how hard you try.

For many people “tis the season” for happiness, joy, peace and love but on the flip side for others it is the season for heartbreak, sadness, anxiety and loneliness.  I had never felt the latter of that prior to 3 years ago and my heart just breaks for the many people out there who find this time of the year depressing and difficult.

Even though I am thankful for so much, especially the reason for the season of Christ’s birth and what that represents; circumstances still make me sad.  I think the hardest part for me is not being able to really enjoy life (especially the fun things to do at Christmas) with Hannah.  Hannah struggles so horribly with leaving the house that even if her immune system would allow it, her anxiety and horrible impulsivity would get the best of her and happiness and enjoyment would not be part of the festivities.

I guess all I am trying to say is I get it……I understand.  If you are struggling, if this is a difficult time of the year for you, if life just seems to suck right now…..please know you are not alone.  I know it isn’t easy and I know you wish your circumstances were different but I also know the HOPE I have in Christ and I pray that if you don’t have that HOPE that you will find it in Him.  It doesn’t mean your life here on earth will get better or easier but what it does mean is that your eternity will be sealed and no matter what life throws at you, you have eternity to cling to.  An eternity with no more sickness, no more heartache, no more pain, no more sorrow and no more death.  People often ask me how I cope and my answer is always and will remain……JESUS……His grace, His mercy, His strength and His faithfulness and His promise to me that one day none of this is going to matter because my eternity is sealed in Him.  That is the hope I can offer anyone who is struggling during this season.

I find myself singing an old hymn all the time lately.  It goes like this:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness to see
There’s a light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

His words shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

So, to each one of you, whether  you are struggling or not I pray you find hope, peace, love and joy this Christmas Season and remember……Jesus is the Reason for the Season and you are so very loved!

This is one of my favorite Christmas images......

This is one of my favorite Christmas images……

Until next time………

Reflection Leads to Thanksgiving

I am sitting here on Thanksgiving Eve watching Hannah.  I found myself getting slightly depressed as questions I will never have the answers to (this side of Heaven) flood my mind.  The “what-if” questions like:

  • What if she wasn’t so sick all the time?
  • What if she was typically developed?
  • What if she wasn’t riddled with anxiety and depression?
  • What if we hadn’t been through all we have the past 11 years?
  • What if we had a “normal” family life of work, school, playdates, friends, sports?
  • What if we had another child (even though I didn’t want another one then, perhaps I would have one old enough to help me now)?

Then I was flooded with these questions?

  • What if we had listened to the doctors and aborted her?
  • What if we had decided to never have a child?
  • What if she weren’t still with us?
  • What if we didn’t have our prayer warriors/friends and family?
  • What if I had a husband who had decided to walk out?
  • What if I had decided to walk away?

Those “what-if” questions can be killers of you emotionally and mentally.  Paths not taken or in our case a journey that we weren’t expecting.  As I sat here watching Hannah playing it hit me hard, like a ton of bricks……I have so much to be thankful for.  The RIGHT NOW!  Yes, life is hard and I struggle a lot with questions that I don’t have the answers to…..especially WHY questions but in this life, no matter how difficult the road is I have so much to be thankful to God for:

  • My salvation……knowing full well that this world is not my home and one day the Lord is going to return and take me home to Heaven where there will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sadness, no more death…..just love, praise and joy!
  • My family……a husband who works hard for us and never once makes me feel guilty for not making an income to help provide.  He loves us unconditionally (even when I am hard to love) and truly loves Hannah more than life.  My sweet little girl, although sick most of the time and struggling with pain, anguish and things I will never understand, is my gift from God.  She has taught me so much about love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  She is my daughter, my heart and the greatest teacher I have ever had in this thing we call life.
  • My parents, brother, in-laws, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews.  I don’t see any of them like I wish I could but they are there and I am so thankful for a loving group to call my family.  My extended family on both sides…….God has truly blessed Dennis and me both with a loving family.
  • Friends, near and far.  Those I have met in person and those I have met thanks to Facebook.  I have a wonderful circle of friends all over the world; some of which I have never met face-to-face but circumstances and situations have brought us together creating wonderful and lasting friendship.
  • Those lifelong friends, the ones who know me better than even my family does.  That handful of people who I can be 100% myself with and they don’t judge me (they might laugh at me a lot) but they love me unconditional (the good, the bad and the ugly).
  • Our prayer warriors…..those who have walked this journey with us, carrying us with their prayers and love.  I would not be where I am today (still standing and functioning) if it weren’t for the prayers of my faithful friends, family and prayer warriors!  I am so very thankful.
  • Dennis’ job……so thankful too for this new adventure he will begin next week with his transfer to a new detective division which will have him home more on nights and weekends.
  • Our beautiful home….such a God thing.
  • Food on our table (more than we need).  Bills that get paid on time with extra left over for some of our wants.  Transportation, also more than we need but God has provided.
  • My country…..our freedoms that we tend to take for granted.  The men and women who fought and died for those freedoms.  We should never take that for granted…..as Americans, we are so very blessed.

I could go on and on but as I sit here an reflect on my troubles I can also counter all those troubles with more thanksgiving.  Perspective is such an important thing and sometimes reflection on the bad things will bring thanksgiving for the good things.

Happy Thanksgiving to each one of you!

Until next time……….

My Final Thoughts On This Election

I wasn’t going to comment on the election after Tuesday night, but after watching the news and seeing Facebook posts since Donald Trump won the Presidency I have to say a few things.

I know what it is like to have your Presidential candidate lose (fortunately, the election Tuesday was not one of those times for me).  But, I understand the sadness and fear you feel when the person you put your hope and trust in is defeated.  I felt that when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both elected each time!  I never trusted either of them, and still don’t.  I don’t believe in anything either one of them stands for and I never will.  Yes, I was sad, disgusted and angry when they were elected, but I never once used hateful language, insulted others or bashed those who supported them.  What I have seen happen just since Tuesday night sickens and saddens me greatly.  We live in a free country.  Free to speak our minds and vote according to our own personal beliefs and value system.  We DO NOT live in a country where hurting others, burning our flag or hate crimes are permitted or okay.

If you voted for Hillary, you have the right to be sad and scared and to voice that.  That is your right but to hurt others, blame others, burn our flag, cause public displays of civil unrest that is wrong.  I am not going to sit here and be sad that Hillary lost.  I am thrilled, actually…..but, I am going to try to show just as much grace that my candidate won as I would if he had lost.

This country is divided, almost down the middle.  I will never understand the liberals point of view, just like a liberal will never understand my point of view; but we have to live together peacefully.  We can do it, we have done it for years and the only way to achieve that is for each of us to do our part.  No President, I don’t care who he or she is can heal our land.  GOD is the only one who can do that, but we, as American citizens have to do our part.  Now, if you cannot do your part, then I strongly urge you to denounce your citizenship and leave.  You don’t have to live here under the new Presidency.  No one is making you stay, in fact I am wondering when all those celebrities are going to leave; although we all know they won’t.

Bottom line is this…….you are responsible for your actions, speech and behavior.  Be humble, be kind.  Heck, grieve if you want, that is fine. I have done that more than once after elections.  You have that right.  But, don’t blame us, the other half who voted our hearts, our conscience and our belief system.  The Democrats and Republicans have 2 totally different belief systems and moral compasses that we live by.  Just like you, if you are a Democrat don’t understand my thoughts and ways; I will never understand yours.  But, isn’t that what makes America great?  The rights and freedoms that we possess to make our own way of life and live those beliefs without fear of harm?  Do I fear right now?  Yes, I do, but not because of the man we just elected President.  I fear the repercussions from those who are furious with our choice of President.  I fear what could happen if people don’t contain their emotions and impulses.  I believe very few of us in society actually want a Civil War, but if we aren’t careful, that will happen and then where would we be?  Be sad……it is okay and I promise to show grace; but at some point the hate and ugliness has to stop.  We have to come together for the greater good.  Oh, and just for the record I will not respond to comments regarding this post.  I will not debate or discuss what is done.  I am choosing to be humble and kind.  I have many family members and friends who voted for Hillary and I respect their right to do so, as I hope and pray they respect my right to vote for Trump.  I will now just continue to pray for our country and focus solely on my little girl who is struggling with so many health issues……more we just found out about that has left me feeling completely helpless.

I will leave you with this…….We elected a new President but in the whole scheme of things, still only one thing matters to me…..I know the KING and no matter what man can do here……my hope, my trust, my faith rests in Christ and that one day, NONE of this is going to matter because my eternity is sealed in Him!

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Until next time………..

 

Heartbreak Wrapped In Grace and Love

I got home really late last night from Orlando.  I was going to blog when I got home but I was exhausted.  Yesterday was one of the most emotional days I have had since this journey with Hannah and PANDAS began.  Yesterday, I took Henny (Hannah’s Canine Companion) back to Orlando to leave her, this time for good.  I had many feelings as I traveled with Henny down to Orlando.  Feelings of failure, disappointment, discouragement, heartbreak and also gratitude.  I feel like we failed CCI (Canine Companions for Independence), their staff and trainers.  I feel like we failed the other recipients, not only the ones we went through Team Training with but also those all over the country.  I feel like we failed Henny’s Puppy Raisers, Marty and Cathy and all Puppy Raisers.  Most of all I feel like we failed Hannah and Henny.

We tried……I promise, we did.  But, we just couldn’t make it work like it did prior to Hannah getting sick.  When we first brought Henny home for that year and a half, it was magical.  Henny and Hannah were inseparable and we were all 4 a team.  Then, PANDAS struck, and as quick as we lost Hannah, we lost the connection with Henny too.  The last nearly 3 years has been a struggle and we even sent Henny to be fostered by her Puppy Raisers, Marty and Cathy after PANDAS hit and this past April we brought Henny back home.  It just never worked again; as hard as we tried, we couldn’t force Henny or Hannah to make that connection again.  It was no fault of Henny’s.  It was no fault of Hannah’s.  I also know it was not our fault either but the feelings of failure are still there.

CCI, the Puppy Raisers and the trainers put so much work into these dogs, make a perfect match with the recipients and they go on to be a great team, most of the time.  In our case, due to this illness that has taken our daughter completely away from us and replaced her with someone we don’t recognize, it took its toll on Henny and this companionship that used to be so beautiful.

Several weeks ago Dennis and I knew what we had to do but doing it was a whole different story.  I finally contacted CCI, so thankful for their graciousness throughout this WHOLE process.  We came to the conclusion that it was in Henny’s best interest to be returned.  I was given the option of calling Marty and Cathy or for them to, but I wanted to be the one to call, as they have become family to us.  That was literally the hardest thing I have had to do in a very long time.  It was heart wrenching and heartbreaking to tell them we couldn’t keep this sweet dog whom they raised so beautifully.  Without hesitation, they both extended their grace and love to us and not only told us we would always be family but have decided to take Henny back to live with them instead of her being adopted out.  This made my heart leap knowing that Henny was going HOME!

So yesterday morning after some sad goodbyes, I loaded Henny in the truck and headed to Orlando.  I took Henny back home to the ones who knew her first and have loved her for 6 years.  Today, Henny’s tail wagged and as I left, I knew we had made the best decision for Henny.  She was home…..as I sit here and type those words tears fill my eyes, because at one time, early on this was home for her.  I will never, ever regret the decision we made to apply for a Canine Companion for Hannah.  I will always hold CCI, the staff, the trainers, the friends we made and of course Marty and Cathy so near and dear to my heart.  I will never once doubt that it was the right decision at the time, but I will also not regret this decision because I know we did what was best for the sweetest dog I have EVER known.

As I left Marty and Cathy’s late last night (after they treated me like a VIP, as always); they extended more grace to me than I deserved.  They made it clear that this wasn’t our fault and that we were always welcome to come visit and we would always be “family” to them.  If that isn’t grace and love I don’t know what is.  My heartbreak is still heavy today but CCI and the Fischer’s wrapped that heartbreak in more grace and love than I have ever felt.  Today, that heartbreak will ease some knowing we did the right thing and Henny is happy.

Such a sweet face.....

Such a sweet face…..

 

If this isn't happy and content, I don't know what is!

If this isn’t happy and content, I don’t know what is!

Until next  time………