Sweet Innocence

Oh the thought of being so young, naive, innocent…..oblivious to the evil world we live in and the hardships and heartaches of life.  The ability to not see the hatred of others and the cruelness of people.  The ugliness and biased in politics, the unfairness in life, the war on Christianity and the people who choose to bully others instead of love.  The hate that flows from various people to certain groups and the brokenness of families and friendships.

In this day and age in which we live, by the way which is so different from the world I grew up in which was the 70’s and 80’s.  We thought people were mean and cruel then at times, but it was Heaven compared to this world I am raising my daughter in today.  My heart aches for our children.  It aches for the elderly who have lost the world they fought so hard for.  It aches for all those living this life today who wonder where yesterday went.

All over the TV, internet, Facebook…..wherever you look you see destruction, hate, evil, misunderstanding, bias, heartbreak, killing……I could go on.  Many times lately I turn the TV off.  I log off of Facebook and I go sit in Hannah’s playroom and just look at her.  Her sweet face, her smile; with no care, concern or worry in the world.  She brings me peace……she shows me that in our home we are safe and happy.  Her sweet innocence calms me and makes me so thankful she has no clue what the world is truly like.  How mean and hateful people (even some in your own circle) can be.  She doesn’t see or know any of that and I am so grateful I have been able to protect her from that so far.  I am so sick and tired of hate.  I am so over bitterness, resentment, ugliness and the inability for others to take responsibility for their own actions and to just say “I am sorry.”  I am so done with people who are just plain mean!  Life is too short to surround yourself with the ugliness in society.  The peace you get from walking away and ignoring those who spread hate and lies is amazing.

My daughter, her sweet innocence.  Her love for others and most importantly her love for Jesus has taught me so much.  Last Sunday we had the opportunity to take her to see The Gaither Vocal Band.  Friends of ours got together and bought us tickets.  I was nervous to take Hannah due to the exposure of germs; but how do we pass up an opportunity to see her favorite band up close and personal.  I was slightly concerned what her behavior would be like too because let’s face it, she has trouble socially.  That mainly stems from the fact that we are always home and never in social settings, not even restaurants.  So, I was wondering how she would behave.  She AMAZED me.  I will be honest…..I sat there the entire concert with tears in my eyes.  I watched my little girl sit on her daddy’s lap praising and worshipping her Lord and Savior.  There were moments of pure worship.  Her hands lifted, mouthing the words to the songs that were being sung, shining the little flashlight we were given as we walked in.  Her legs and feet never stopped moving keeping the beat and her hands clapped in rhythm with the music.  She yelled out a few times “I love you Mr. Gaither, come here, I give you warm hugs.”  She also would yell out songs to sing next!  HA!  But, it wasn’t a bad thing for her to yell out.  The people sitting around us told us they had never seen a child worship that way before.  We had people tell us they were in tears watching her and wished they could worship in the same way.  I felt the spirit of the Lord in that place last Sunday.  I felt a peace and joy I haven’t experienced in a very long time.  For 3 whole hours the world and the evil in it became a distant memory and I was in that moment watching my little girl worship Jesus.  A spirit of peace, love, innocence and rebirth in a way.  As we left that night and even the next morning Hannah said, “mama, Hannah best night ever…..I love Mr. Gaither.”  I sat there on the way home and realized that NOTHING in this world mattered except Dennis and Hannah.  My world, my home, my family……the 3 of us.

God has blessed us SOOOO much and He continues to reveal His plan for me in regards to my family.  When I got sick in May it was what God used to show me how truly blessed I am.  How I have taken so much for granted (mainly my health and my ability to stay here at home with Hannah).  He has used these months to make me so content in my life.  Such a shame that it took me getting sick to get to this place; but I am so grateful.  I want a life of peace, joy, happiness and contentment but I have realized it isn’t going to come in the ways that I had hoped for.  But……it is coming in a way that I pray God will use for His glory.  God has entrusted me with a special gift, in the form of a little girl who has Down Syndrome.  A little girl whose sweet innocence has taught me and shown me how we should go through life.  Looking at the world through her eyes is amazing and I just wish others could see life and the world the way Hannah does.  I guarantee you, we would all live differently, love harder and forgive easier.

Thank you my precious girl for your sweet innocence.  Thank you for showing me what is important.  Thank you for loving Jesus and pointing your mama, daddy and others to Him.  I owe you so much and love you more than words can ever say.  I am so blessed to be your mama……you continue to teach me so much and I am so indebted to you……

Before the concert started. Hannah was so happy!

Until next time……..

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On This Day

On this day, many years ago (LOL) my husband was born.  Today we celebrate him for MANY reasons.  Here is a list:

  • He loves Jesus
  • He loves me unconditionally (and sometimes that isn’t an easy thing to do)
  • He is an amazing dad who goes above and beyond the call of duty sometimes.  If you knew half of the things he has had to do with Hannah and sacrifice due to her needs and her inability to do for herself you would agree he is a fabulous dad.
  • He works hard…..he sacrifices so much so that I can be home with Hannah and to provide all of our needs and some of our wants.  I am not truly “high maintenance” but I am not low maintenance either!  HA!
  • He believes in my need for “me time.”  Whether that means dinner with friends, shopping nights, pedicures, time alone, even a trip with friends…..he never even bats an eyelash when I ask if he can keep Hannah for me to go out.
  • He loves my family as if they were his own flesh and blood.  He would do anything for my parents, brother and his family and even my extended family and they adore him as well.  I am so thankful for this part about him.
  • He is a good friend and would do anything for his friends.  He has a giving heart and is always willing to help someone in need.  He is way more giving than I am…….funny story…..anytime he sees a financial need with someone, he will ask me about giving (of course I say yes) but then he will say “how much are you thinking?”  I always throw out a number and it is always way LOWER than his!  HA!  We usually compromise at that point!  Again, he would give the shirt off his back to a friend or family member in need.
  • He is neat and tidy and helps around the house.  He takes care of our home and land.  He isn’t afraid of hard labor and sweat!  He is one of the hardest working men I know!
  • He is frugal…..okay….he is REALLY cheap but that is a good thing (most of the time).  I have managed to loosen him up a little bit.  Some of the things he used to be really tight with money on he isn’t so much anymore but I still refuse to let him do any Target or Publix shopping as he would buy all off-brands and I ain’t gonna do that on certain products (I am a food and product snob)!  HA!
  • He is honest
  • He is trustworthy
  • He is loyal
  • He is compassionate, caring and loving
  • He is better than me in so many ways…..there is so much about him that I don’t deserve; yet God, in his infinite wisdom made us perfectly for each other.  It is funny…..I calm him down (because the boy has ZERO patience) and he encourages the eternal pessimist in me.  He is so optimistic, almost in a dreamer kind of way.  I am more of a realist (with a side of pessimism) so we truly balance each other.

God knew that we needed each other and I know that he created Dennis with me in mind and visa-versa.  It hasn’t always been sunshine, rainbows and flowers though.  We have had our moments but at the end of the day we know that we both have each other’s backs, we are each other’s biggest supporter and best friend.  We know that no matter what life throws our way we are better together and we will always stand up, fight and win because we have a love that will never go away and most importantly our life, our marriage, our family and our home has a firm foundation in Christ.

Today I celebrate Dennis’ life…..the day God created my husband, my best friend and the daddy of my daughter.  Today I have the privilege of celebrating his birthday.  This is the 18th birthday that I have been able to celebrate him and the 17th of us being married.  I look forward to celebrating many more birthday’s!  Next year will be especially great because we will celebrate his birthday and retirement together!

Happy Birthday baby……I hope and pray that this coming year is your best ever.  I am thankful for the privilege of being on this journey through life with you.  Hannah and I love you “so much all of our hearts!”

Enjoy some pictures of my man!  Wish my scanner worked as I would have scanned some baby pics of him!

Like father like daughter!

 

 

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Until next time……..

Put The Pen Down

For so many years I have grieved the life I thought I would have.  When we found out our unborn baby was going to have a chromosome abnormality and a bad heart the grieving process started and it has continued for years.  I would always grieve silently, sometimes on a daily basis, gather my broken pieces, pick myself up (with a lot of prayer) and carry on.  I always thought the grief would lessen but instead the older Hannah got the more it increased especially when she was diagnosed with PANDAS and for lack of a better phrase “all hell broke loose.”  The grief, at times, has been almost unbearable.  The loneliness, the heartache, the “what could or should have been” questions and no answer to my many “why’s.”  There have been moments where I wondered if I would ever climb out of the pit I was in and accept and embrace this journey God chose for me.  I have had moments were I did accept/embrace our life and then something would happen and I would find myself right down in that pit of despair and grief again.  I even started seeing a counselor and tried several medications (none which worked for me).  But, nothing seemed to help…..that is until this past May.

So, for those who don’t know I got really sick in May.  We thought it had something to do with a mosquito bite I got that swelled my face and eye up.  After 2 trips to the ER, multiple doctor appointments, many tests, CT scans, MRI’s, nerve conduction test and a plethora of other things we finally have more answers than questions.  I do have a confirmed diagnosis and another almost confirmed diagnosis (hopefully by the end of the month).  I am thankful for a Rheumatologist and Neurologist who are working together to figure it all out.  This dual diagnosis is not what I was hoping for but I believe answers are better than questions and I am thankful that we are finally getting to the bottom of this.  During this past 5 months though God has taught me a lot.  I swear I have always been that person who learns lessons the hard way.  God always seems to have to knock me down to my lowest to get my attention.  Ask my parents…..I have been like this my entire life.  I guess that stubborn/strong-willed gene is strong!  HA!  Here are a few of the lessons God has taught me:

  • It is okay not to be okay and to verbalize that.  So many people mask and hide their true feelings.  For me, talking about it keeps it from bottling up and making me explode later on.  It is cleansing and helpful.  I know this isn’t for everyone, but it works for me.
  • Some people are in your life for a season, then God removes them for one reason or another.  Don’t cling to those who leave your life or worry about the reasons why.
  • Not everyone is going to like you.  Sometimes your personality/likes/dislikes won’t click with someone else.  It is okay not to have approval from others.  It is okay that for whatever reason someone doesn’t like you…..MOVE ON!
  • Life is too short.  Live, laugh and love……
  • It is one thing when you are a caregiver for a sick child/parent/loved one, it is a totally different story when the caregiver gets sick.  The past 5 months have been some of the hardest for me because I haven’t been 100%.  Trying to care for a medically fragile child, keep my home running, help my husband……there have been moments I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it all.  It is okay to sit down, regroup, rest and then move forward.  Sometimes baby steps are necessary…..guess what…..the laundry, floors, dishes, ironing, bathrooms…..it will all still be there when you are better.  This has been a huge lesson for me.  Taking care of me and not worrying about things that aren’t important (like dirty laundry and floors).
  • Your diet and getting exercise are 2 of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.  Diet is easy for me, exercise not so much especially the past 5 months but I am working on doing better.
  • I have learned to appreciate this life.  I have learned to find joy in the mundane.  I have learned to find peace in the daily routine.  I have learned to be grateful for the slow-paced life I live.  I have learned contentment and I have finally embraced this life.  It is funny, I can look back over my life and see God’s hand preparing me even as a child for this life I live.  I could NEVER be that mom who is on the go 24/7.  I don’t have the energy or ability to be that working mom who leaves the house at 7am and gets home at 6pm, driving kids to ball practice/games, doing homework, cooking dinner, using weekends to clean and catch up on laundry.  God did not give me that ability, like He gave others.  I so admire the mom’s that do it all…..I have said that many times before; but even as a child I was being prepared for this life I live and honestly it has taken me 13 years to really “see” that and embrace it.  On our recent trip to Nashville it hit me just how much I need my downtime.  How I need to not go, go, go all the time.  Perhaps it is worse now since I am exhausted all the time and my already low energy level is depleted but being a homebody has its advantages and I am finally embracing that.
  • I have a new-found appreciation for being debt-free.  Dennis and I, after we got married chose to live on his income.  We never depended on mine.  That was the wisest choice we have ever made.  Because of that decision God enabled us not to have to worry about finances when Hannah came along.  We have done without some things but we have had all of our needs met and some of our wants.  We have a beautiful home, 2 nice cars, food on the table and money in the bank.  When I got sick, even though we have insurance I dished out A LOT of money for co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles (thousands of dollars) and I am so very grateful we had it.  God has blessed us in ways you would never believe and I know it is because Dennis has made it a priority to tithe and give to others.  I say Dennis because he is way more giving than I am and I love that about him.  I pay all the bills but if I “forget” to write that tithe check he is quick to remind me!  LOL!  I know God has blessed us for that.  One thing we have never worried about in our marriage is how we are going to pay the bills, or buy food.  God has always provided and right now especially I am so grateful.  It is helping me trust him more as in 11 months Dennis retires and even though my mind wants to put doubts out there about us surviving I know and trust that God will provide our needs and I am so thankful for that peace He gives.
  • My love and appreciation for Dennis has tripled in the past 5 months.  His work ethic, his love for me, his commitment to our marriage (in sickness right now especially), the way he helps me around the house and with Hannah even after working all day…..his patience with me and the money I have cost him lately (HA).  He has proven time and time again that he loves me and appreciates me.  He has picked up extra off-duty jobs and he has tirelessly given me so much especially these past 5 months.
  • God has a story He is writing for each of us.  Sometimes I tend to pick the pen up and write it myself  (thinking  I can write a better one but I am always wrong).  We have to put the pen down and let God write it.  This has been a huge lesson for me.

Sometimes our life seems to be out of control.  When those times come, which I would venture to say they do for everyone at one time or another, those are the moments to just BE STILL.  Take a break, rest, regroup and PRAY hard.  I encourage prayer and Bible reading in the good times too, just for the record.  I have learned that in our most difficult days God is teaching us and there are lessons to be learned if we just take time to listen.

Raising a child with special needs who is medically fragile is HARD!  I am not going to lie.  I have a 13-year-old who is more like a toddler than a teenager and that is really hard most days but oh the joy she brings to my life.  I just have to take time to see it and when I got sick I really began to take notice of my life with Hannah.  I began to be grateful for our circumstances and I began to appreciate the little things that truly bring me so much joy.  I stopped worrying about others and what they think and I stopped fretting over why certain people in my life don’t like me and why they can’t see me for who I am and my heart. I stopped caring about things outside my four walls and focusing on my relationship with Christ, my husband and my daughter.  Life is too short to not accept and embrace your journey and the story God is writing for you…….all you have to do is be willing to put the pen down.  That is the greatest lesson I have learned since May.

I don’t know why God allowed me to get sick.  I am still wrapping my head around all that is happening in my body and yes, in all honesty, I have shed a few tears but I TRUST HIM.  I know sometimes bad things happen but I serve a loving, merciful and gracious God who even in our most difficult of circumstances is writing a beautiful story for us.  Sometimes that story has twists, turns and upside down roller coaster rides attached to it; but He has a purpose and I am trusting Him to reveal that in His timing and use it for His glory.  If you think of it and want to say a prayer for us, I would appreciate it but most of all I hope you see my heart in this blog post and know that no matter how bad or difficult things seem God loves you, wants the best for you and is writing a beautiful story just for you. You just have to be willing to put the pen down…….

Until next time……….