Authentically YOU


A friend of mine posted this today on Facebook and it really spoke to me.  I am a huge supporter of being authentic, real and at times raw.  I am the type of person who tells it all for the most part (sometimes too much of the time).  For the record though, I don’t tell everything as I do keep some things in my heart and mind.  Trust me, if I said everything I thought or felt y’all would think I had lost my marbles.

This hit me this morning.  I pride myself in being authentic; yet I fail at this.  I fail most days at letting go of who I thought I was supposed to be and embracing who I am.  Just like any young girl growing up I had huge hopes and dreams for my future.  Some of those failed hopes and dreams were because of my own poor choices and others were because of circumstances out of my control; nonetheless they are failures  Crushed hopes and dreams are difficult to get past…..even years later.  Your mind can go back in time and play the “what-if” game.  What-if I had done this instead of that or what-if circumstances had been that instead of this…..that game is dangerous and it only makes you more discontent with the life you have now.

If we were all honest I would venture to say that there are things in all of our lives that we wish were different.  There are things we could change if we set our mind to and let’s just be real for a second….there are things YOU CANNOT change even if you tried.  I get really discouraged/angry when I hear people say or read on Facebook that “you can change your circumstances if you set your mind to it.”  That is bull……there are things in life you have absolutely ZERO control over; so don’t listen to those lies that people tell you.  YOU DO YOU!  You can’t live the life someone else does just like they can’t live yours.  No one has any clue what your life consists of on a daily basis, even if you try to tell them; they cannot fathom it.

Embracing who you are is not always an easy task.  Sometimes the life we live is lonely, hectic, stressed, hard and embracing those times is not easy.  It is easier when your days are fun, exciting, happy (like when you are on vacation)….HA!  But, the difficult times through health concerns for yourself or a loved one, problems on the job, loneliness, financial instability……those are difficult times to let go of who you thought you would be and embrace who you are and the circumstances you are in.

I will be honest, life the past 5 years has been HARD.  2018 has been horrific!  We had dinner last night with dear friends and we were talking about all that has transpired just this year in our life and WOW…..when you say it out loud with the timeline of events it makes you cringe and it isn’t over yet.  I was able to tell our friends that God has been so gracious during the difficulties this year with the death of both Dennis’ parents, the death of my Grandma, my mom’s illness and my health issues that Hannah has been in a better place mentally, emotionally and physically than in the past 5 years.  For that I am so very grateful.

I look at Hannah and she helps me embrace my authentic self better than anyone.  You want to know why?  I will tell you……it is because she embraces her authentic self, her circumstances, her life better than ANYONE I have ever in my life met.  Here is a little girl (well, a 13-year-old teenager) who has no immune system, a bad heart, a disease that affects her brain and personality (PANDAS), a dysfunction of her autonomic nervous system (Dysautonomia), Raynaud’s phenomenon, and a plethora of other health issues and through it all she is CONTENT and she SMILES and LAUGHS!  Her body can’t handle the heat of Florida  (due to 2 of her seizure meds she cannot sweat), so she doesn’t want to go outside nor could her body handle it so she sits…..in her playroom…..watching Disney movies and Elmo, playing with Barbie’s, baby dolls, reading books and flashcards, entertaining herself beautifully and happily……content and with no care or concern about anything (unless it rains and then she will come hug me and say…..”rain scary, it will be okay mama.”)  HA!

WHO is THAT content to just accept the life that she has zero control over?  MY KID!  The kid who has every right to be sad, discouraged, angry and discontent is anything but those things.  So, with that said, who am I not to embrace my circumstances and embrace the life God has given me that I have zero control over?  I can’t change my health issues right now…..yes I can do things to help improve my quality of life but I have no control over what has happened.  I can’t change Hannah’s life.  I can’t change the fact that my husband has lost both of his parents this year or that I lost my last grandparent.  I can’t change what happened to my mom or fix that for her.  BUT, I can accept and embrace this life and be my authentic self; putting aside that person I had hoped to be and just be ME!  Is this life lonely?  OH my, more than I have words to say but the one thing remains that has been here for 46 years…..JESUS……He loves me, He gave me this life and He equips me to handle whatever comes my way.  He is the one constant in my life and I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that He is all I need.  One day…….He will wash away all the pain, sorrow, sickness and death and in Hannah’s words “go to Heaven no more night, no more pain, no sick anymore, happy all the time with Jesus.”  Amen baby girl, Amen!

I will close with this…….don’t worry or fret about what could have been or who you thought you would be.  You aren’t that person.  Embrace your circumstances and who you are now because of the life that was chosen for you.  In the hard times, pray.  In the good times, pray.  In the sad times, pray.  In the happy times, pray.  Trust that God has you in the palm of His hand and know that nothing can pluck you from it!

Until next time…….

 

 

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Neighbors and Life

Do you have good neighbors?  We do…..I am so thankful.

When Dennis and I got married 17 years ago he had a home already so I moved into it.  It was a great home but we quickly started to outgrow it.  It wasn’t real big or spacious and once Hannah came along we knew we would eventually need more indoor space.  We would talk about it and we kept going back to one thing.  If we moved we would lose our neighbors (because we had incredible neighbors there too).  The thought of moving to a new place and having bad neighbors kept us in the same place for a long time (about 15 years).  When our next door neighbors decided to sell that is when we thought, “okay, maybe it is time for us to do the same.”  Funny thing is our next door neighbor sold, we sold, and then about 4 other families in our neighborhood sold as well.  It was like a mass exodus! We were so sad to leave that neighborhood and our neighbors.  We had the best.  We had purchased land in a gated community several years prior but then my parents offered us a deal we couldn’t refuse to buy their home since they were downsizing.  So, we sold our home and bought my parents home.  Guess what?  We have INCREDIBLE neighbors again.  God blessed us with neighbors just like our last neighborhood, those neighbors who become family.

This week, sadness hit our neighborhood as our across the street neighbor, Mr. Hall passed away.  Dennis happened to be over there with Mrs. Hall when it happened.  It shook Dennis and I to our cores as we just adored him and we love his sweet wife, Judy.  In just 2-1/2 years they had become family to us and this loss, after so much loss this year already, has really broken our hearts.

Life is so short and precious.  I think that is what 2018 has taught me. I have found myself since Mr. Hall’s death feeling very sad and walking around in a daze.  We are given one life to live to the fullest.  Yes, life is not always fun but we have just one life to live.  2018 has taught me that no matter what, we have to live it with no regret.  We have to enjoy the good moments and push hard through the bad ones.  We have to smile through the joy and persevere through the grief.  We have to dance and sing through the happy times and fight hard through the sad times.  We have one life……one chance……to get it right.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always have the best attitude or outlook.  Let’s face it, life has been hard…..really hard the past nearly 5 years especially (once PANDAS hit).  Then 2018 has been incredibly difficult and heartbreaking with the loss of both Dennis’ parents and my grandmother, my mom’s sickness and now Mr. Hall.  Mr. Hall’s death once again showed me that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow and we have to be present in the here and now and just live…..just breathe through the difficulties and push forward. Life is so very precious.

I hope you have neighbors that are like family to you.  Dennis and I are so very blessed to know that we can call on our neighbors anytime, day or night and they will be right there.  What an amazing gift…..even more amazing is we can do that with our last group of neighbors also even though we don’t live around them anymore and they would be right there.  Neighbors are friends (chosen family) for life and we are so very thankful.

If y’all think about it would you pray for Judy and Daniel Hall?  That God gives them peace and comfort during this time.  Rest in peace Mr. Hall, until we meet again!

Until next time………

Kindness

I saw this yesterday on an Instagram post and it hit me.  True kindness is THIS!  Encouraging someone, loaning your strength (even while facing your own difficult circumstances) to someone else who is battling their own problems in life.  This is not only kindness, but grace and true friendship.

I have a handful of friends who have done this for me; those friendships are people who are in their own pits of despair; fighting their own battles….some worse than I could ever imagine and yet…..here they are for me loaning me their strength and never once reminding me of my weaknesses.  I am my own worst critic. I know my weaknesses.  I battle my internal demons constantly (yes I have them).  But these few friends, know my demons and never point them out to me or cause more discouragement or discontentment in my life.  Just the opposite, through their own grief, demons, problems and challenges they lift me up, help me fight and give me the strength to press on.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a text message.  Sometimes a card in the mail.  Sometimes a comment on Facebook.  Sometimes a phone call.  Sometimes, on the rare occasion I see someone that truly loves me, it comes in the form of a hug (even though I am not much of a hugger).

The last few years I have heard a lot about bullying……why?  Why can’t people chose kindness?  Why even at my age do I still see “friendship cliques?”  That is baffling to me…..why can’t we chose kindness to everyone we come in contact with?  Why are people so mean?  I know evil exists in this world but there are so many people who aren’t evil that still don’t show kindness to everyone.  It is so disheartening.   I have a friend who posted on FB this week that her daughter has been horrifically bullied at school.  Kids can be so mean if they choose to be.  They judge other kids by their haircuts, the way they wear makeup, the clothes they wear and the car they drive.  I told Dennis just yesterday that I am so glad Hannah isn’t in school sometimes…..she is safe here at home with me; away from anyone having the chance to bully her.  I know I have shared on my blog before about the little 5-year-old girl who bullied Hannah at CHURCH of all places.  I don’t know why it shocked me because let’s be honest some of the most judgmental and mean people go to church.  But, when it happened to Hannah I was mortified.  Fortunately, Hannah was oblivious to the little bully but I wasn’t.  It did something to me…..at first it shocked me, then shattered my heart, then it made me really angry.  So angry in fact that stepping foot in church because of that incident was very difficult for me after that.  That was 8 years ago, and of course the last 5 years I haven’t been able to go to church due to Hannah’s illness and lack of an immune system but prior to that between her being bullied and a few other incidences that happened I lost all desire to go.  Now, before you get all “judgey” on me…..I don’t hold the “church” responsible for the actions of a few.  I worked through that anger but I would still be extremely cautious if I could go back to church in regards to Hannah and myself.  Of course, that doesn’t look like it will be happening anytime soon, so I guess we are safe!  HA!

I have learned over the past 5 years to be an introvert and now the world and places are too “peopley” for me.  I have learned to keep things to myself and be content with myself……that is a huge accomplishment for me as I used to have to be surrounded by people.  Now, being alone is welcomed.  It is lonely at times but if you don’t surround yourself with people then you can’t get hurt, right?  So, my circle is very small and years ago that would not have been okay with me……now it is.  I am thankful for my circle…..my people…..because the people I have chosen to surround myself with are true, loyal and KIND!  The older I get that is all I want from those I surround myself with.  We all have battles we are facing.  I truly think that no one on earth is without some kind of struggle in life.  If you are then you should count your blessings that your life is perfect.  My people have big issues…..problems…..struggles…..challenges…..but wow….the way they love me through their own problems is exactly how I hope I love them and others through theirs.

Until next time……..

Seasons Of Life

The Bible talks about Seasons of Life in  Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Seasons of life can be happy, easy and fun or sad, challenging and difficult.  We all have seasons of life.  Some seasons tend to be longer than others; we have been in a challenging seasons for years now!  HA!  I will admit, just the other night I laid in bed unable to fall asleep (that has been happening  more and more lately) and I just prayed and asked God if we would ever get another season of life that was happy, easy and fun.  He, of course, didn’t verbally answer me but as I prayed about our situation (Hannah, the deaths of Dennis’ parents, my health and my mom) it was like He spoke to me because I remembered the above scriptures from Ecclesiastes and also this scripture from John 16:33:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

I find great comfort in God’s word and His promises.  In fact, so much that if it weren’t for my faith and hope in Christ I am not sure I would be managing life as well as I do.  I say that kind of chuckling though as there are many days I am just a hot mess and don’t manage life well at all.  So, imagine what it would be like without my faith.  I don’t understand why we have to go through so many difficult seasons.  It truly is a roller coaster ride of emotions, feelings and this year especially heartache.  I long for peace and happiness in our life.  I long for smooth sailing and even just a brief time of calmness before the next storm.   I find myself begging God for just a small break in the clouds……it hasn’t happened yet but I know one thing for sure…..we are in a season of life and God has and continues to go before us in this season and for that I am so grateful.  I can hold on because I have hope that one day nothing we go through on this earth is going to matter……Heaven is my eternity.

One of my greatest heartaches and I laid in bed last night thinking about this with tears in my eyes is that Hannah doesn’t know the joys of life.  She doesn’t have friends.  She can’t go to school or church.  She gets no interaction or fellowship with others.  Yes, so much of that has to do with her immune system but also her anxiety.  Watching your child riddled with horrific anxiety is probably one of the worst things I have ever encountered.  The anxiety she gets from having her routine slightly changed, having to leave the house (even just getting her to step outside) is torture for her.  Riding in the car puts her in panic mode….heck, she never wants to leave her playroom…..the OCD she has is extreme.  I know people “tease” and joke about OCD and I get it…..I used to joke about mine all the time until I saw the far extreme of bad OCD coming from your child.  It is real stuff and it is HARD to watch and deal with.  I laid in bed last night asking and pleading with God to make it better for Hannah so we could all live life…..I don’t know if He will answer me the way I want it answered; but again the peace He gives helps me push through the pain.

I read an article yesterday (actually it was a blog post) about the Isolation of Special Needs Parents and it was so accurate and true.  It is a hard, lonely and at times a very sad existence.  I will be honest, there are times I want more….I want to live….I want a social life….I want to work and earn money….I want to just leave my house and go out to dinner or shopping or vacation without paying a babysitter (which are so hard to come by anyway) a small fortune.  So many of my family and friends are in a season of life that is so good….their kids are older or grown and there is no holding them back from doing the fun things families do.  Dennis and I take separate vacations and do things separately a lot due to lack of childcare available.  She is 13 years old but I have a feeling this “season” will never end…..the season of always having to have someone with her if we can’t be will always be a factor and at times that gets me really down and depressed.  I think sometimes about the “what-if’s.”  I know that is dangerous……but the “what-if” she was typically developed.  Oh what a different season of life we would be in.  I am sure raising a typically developed teenager is not easy but the joy of not having to wipe butts, bathe them, feed them, stay in the room with them as they fall asleep, tell them they need to drink, when to go potty….BUYING pull-ups!  Oh the list goes on…..

Okay, I will stop now.  I know this blog post is all over the place.  Perhaps I shouldn’t publish it but my thoughts are overflowing right now and I had to get it written out…..it is certainly cheaper than therapy (even though I do that too).  Seasons of life…..we all have them, they are all different for everyone….I am just so happy I can find some peace through each season because of my faith in God.  If not for Him……I am not sure I could handle these challenging seasons at all.  Thankful for His promises especially in the really hard seasons like right now.

Until next time……..