Evil PANDAS (Part One)

I get asked A LOT about PANDAS.  What it is…..how it affects Hannah….how we treat it…..tons of questions.  We are coming up to our 5th anniversary of PANDAS.  Not an anniversary we celebrate, mind you; but one that is forever etched in my mind, soul and heart.  So I thought I would start a little blog series on PANDAS.  Not only to share our journey but to bring some awareness to this dreadful, life-altering, life-shattering, life-changing and scary disease.

First….what is PANDAS?

PANDAS is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep.  Actually, it is Autoimmune Encephalitis and when we end up in the Emergency Room or seeing a new doctor for ANY reason that is the terminology I usually use.  So many doctors still either are not familiar with PANDAS or refuse to acknowledge that it is an actual disease BUT they do acknowledge AE and technically it is the same thing.  We just know that a strep infection is what triggers PANDAS.  I will get more into doctors and their beliefs and unbelief’s later in this series.

PANDAS is an instant onset of symptoms after a strep infection.  For Hannah, hers started with seizures, a 105 fever and an instant onset of severe OCD, aggression, rage, anxiety, tics, insomnia and depression.  I literally put her to bed one night on vacation in the mountains of North Carolina perfectly fine and by 2pm the next day she had multiple seizures and was burning up with fever and has never been the same since.  That was March 8, 2014!

That day our lives changed completely.  PANDAS changed our life COMPLETELY.  I will use this blog series to go into lots of detail as I believe we have an important story to tell; one of which I need to take my time and tell in detail and over a series so each blog post isn’t too terribly long and drawn out.  I believe our story can resonate with many out there struggling and perhaps can help someone.  As we approach our 5th year living with this disease I want to help other moms, dads and kids living this nightmare.  We have come A LONG way on this journey but the little girl we had prior to PANDAS is no more.  We lost her and she was replaced with a little girl who has a lot of “different behaviors/personality changes” and is ruled by her OCD, routines, tics and autistic nature all because of a strep infection that traveled to her brain.  She is forever changed…..there is no turning back the hands of time or getting the “old Hannah” back.  The Hannah prior to the age of 8; prior to PANDAS is gone.  The Hannah since PANDAS who is riddled with severe OCD, tics, anxiety among other debilitating things (which I will expound on later) is the Hannah we have now.  We don’t love her any less; in fact we love her more…..she requires more love, care and attention than she once did.  She is more difficult, at times to care for and at the age of 13 instead of getting easier, in many ways, it gets harder but we persevere by the grace of God and our love for her.

This PANDAS journey is not for the weak of heart, mind or soul and not something I would wish on any child, parent or sibling.  It is very real…..very debilitating and very unpredictable.  Join me on this blogging journey as I take you on our 5 year battle with this dreadful disease…….

 

Up Next:

Evil PANDAS (Part 2) Our Journey:  Instant Onset

Until next time…….

 

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NOT JUST A Special Needs Mom

I am piggy-backing off of Sunday’s blog post because I felt as if there was more to be said.  I received a lot of positive feedback on that post and some negative too so I will address both of those things.  Let’s get the negative out-of-the-way……

I AM NOT OPPOSED TO ANY CHURCH or opposed to people going to church!  What I find frustrating is the thought process that church attendance is all there is to being a Christian.  I know many very strong Christians who DO NOT attend church.  Being a believer is having a personal relationship with Christ….PERIOD!  Going to church or not going to church doesn’t make you any better or worse of a Christian.  Is church a good thing?  Absolutely, if you can find a place where you fit in and that fits what your family needs then go…..worship…..enjoy!  In my opinion there is no one church that is any better than another.  It is your choice what fits for you and your family.  Be as involved or as uninvolved as you wish.  Now, what I do have a problem with is the church thinking that people are going to flock to those 4 walls.  That isn’t going to happen.  The church has to reach out to their community; not just sit in their 4 walls thinking the lost or homebound are going to come to them.  Being the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost world means to get out there and reach those who won’t or can’t come to the church.  The other part of my blog on Sunday was putting in place a program for kids with special needs.  That might look different depending on the size of your church.  It might be a buddy system, a whole large program, a small one-room place for even just one child……just have something so parents have a safe, loving, Godly environment to bring their child if they so choose.  For the record, in our case, due to Hannah’s immune issues…..it isn’t possible……it would have been prior to PANDAS; but now it isn’t.  But, there are many families with kids who have special needs who would bring their children to church who don’t have the plethora of health issues Hannah has, if there was a safe, loving environment to bring them to.  That is all I was saying.  For those of you who thought I was bashing the church…..well, you don’t know me very well.

Do I personally miss going to church and would I go if I could?  No, I personally don’t miss it and no, I do not really think I would go, not for me anyway…..that is just the most honest answer I can give.  And, y’all before I get “preached” at there is a whole bunch of stuff I could write about but I am not going to.  The bottom line is we all have our own personal thoughts and feelings about things.  Some things are best left unsaid and for me, for now, I will leave the plethora of reasons left unsaid. But, that answer doesn’t change the fact that I love Jesus with my whole heart and I am totally dependent and reliant upon Him!  You can truly have a relationship with the Lord and NOT go to church!  I am living proof of that!  Hannah LOVED church when she was able to go and she LONGS to go back and so for her and for that fact, yes, I would do anything to take her…..so, for her I would go back!  But, I also have to put her health as my #1 priority and after the lab work we received back just yesterday…..well, taking her to a big, crowded, public place would not be in her best interest especially right now.  But, you know what…..God, has made me content in that…..for so long, I was angry, bitter and resentful and now I am happy and content in my little bubble here at home.  That is God, y’all…..contentment is from HIM!  So, I rest in the fact that not going to church is okay and I am no less a Christian for staying here at home and keeping Hannah safe, healthy and well!  You know, HE gave her to me, to do just that!

NOW…….let’s talk about how I am not just a mom of a child with special needs…..

One of the things I struggled for years with after having Hannah was the loss of my identity.  I was either “Hannah’s mom” or “Dennis’ wife.”  Not that either of those are bad things but there was and is a lot more to me than those 2 things.  I am a woman with dreams, desires, passions, goals, hopes, hobbies, loves, likes and dislikes.  Prior to Dennis and Hannah I worked (and even after marrying Dennis I still worked).  For the longest time after Hannah I lost so much of who I was.  I left a job I loved.  I was solely a mom who wore the hats of maid, therapist, nanny, chauffeur, chef, teacher, personal shopper, etc…..it took me years to remember that I was MORE and I deserved and owed myself MORE!  It didn’t mean that I loved Dennis or Hannah any less; it just meant that I loved myself too.

It really happened for me when PANDAS hit back in March 2014 that I realized I needed a break.  It was May 2014 that I think it hit Dennis.  He told me to pick any place and he gave me a budget to work with and he sent me away by myself for 5 days.  Little did he realize I would pick Vegas!  HA!  So, in May 2014 I flew by myself to Las Vegas for 5 days and had a blast ALL BY MYSELF!  That is when it hit me…..I needed time for me periodically.  Since then, Dennis has been really good at making time for me to take a few long weekend trips here and there either by myself or with girlfriends and he always makes time on his schedule for me to have nights out with girlfriends.  I wish there were more of them but hey, I will take what I can get.  He and I started taking more trips together; which are more difficult due to childcare, but we are making it a priority for it to happen at least 2 times per year.

When I got sick in May I started taking better care of myself.  I just turned 47 and let’s face it I am not getting any younger, nor am I looking any younger.  There are pedicures, facials, massages and good skin care in my future (thanks to friends who encourage me) HA!  I also eat really well and the exercise thing is slowly happening…..I just need to find my energy!  HA!

The point is……there is so much more to me (any mom for that matter) than just being a mom.  Being a mom is a gift, I know that; but it isn’t WHO we are.  We have to take time for ourselves.  I know, for me personally, taking care of me is so very important as Hannah will be with me forever and I need to be here and healthy to take care of her.  I can’t do that if I don’t take care of me NOW!  Special needs mama’s wear MANY hats but none of those hats define WHO we are and what is in our hearts.  I know for me, when I am out with friends I like to talk about everything except Hannah!  I don’t mind briefly catching people up on her; but I want to talk about other things and just laugh, have fun and enjoy the freedom…..I like to “adult” and not talk children.

Special needs mama’s are women just like anyone who love to go out, have fun, take trips, laugh, eat, drink and be merry!  Some of my favorite memories over the past few years are those day/nights out with friends just having fun.  If you know a mom who has a child with special needs she is probably stressed out, lonely, afraid, fatigued, sad, anxious, worried, among other things and you might think you have nothing at all in common with her, but I guarantee you that you do.  If she is like me, there is so much more to her than the definition of “special needs mom” and if you get to know her you will realize she can be a really good friend too.  She might be a little bit more frazzled than most, a little bit crazier, a little bit more OCD and perhaps a germaphobe (yes I am referring to myself here) but we are good for laughs (I know I am slightly crazier than most of my friends and you never know what will come out of my mouth)!  If you know a mom who has a child with special needs…..pick up the phone, call her up (or text) and invite her out on your next girls night.  You might just have a great time and make a great new friend!  Hopefully, she will fix herself up and won’t look like the picture below…..HA!

Sometimes this could be a self-portrait of me!  HA!

 

Until next time………

What Special Needs Parents Do and Don’t Need

This really spoke to  me this morning.  It kind of hit me dead in the face.  For 13 years I have heard about all the things that Hannah needs.  The things I have to do differently than other parents and made aware of the things I need to change doing or can’t do.  Honestly, it is exhausting.  I find myself, at times, thinking “if she were just typically developed, so much would be different.”  I can’t stay in that mindset for long as it will put you in a pit of despair (which I have been in more than once on this journey).  Instead I do try to focus on what I am doing right or how much easier some things are and what we might not have to deal with as she gets older.

So much of the “positive criticism” I have received over the past 13 years is GOOD.  It has come from professionals who know better than I do what Hannah needs due to her speech/language, her motor skills and physical abilities.  It has come from AMAZING doctors who are wiser than me and who I would be lost without.  I welcome that advice.  I need it.  I even ask for it.  Those who are working with kids with special needs (teachers, doctors, nurses and therapists) KNOW what they are doing and I listen.  So that is not the “improvements or change” that I am talking about.

I have, over the years, received a lot of harsh criticism both to my face and behind my back.  Everything from what I should do to improve Hannah’s immune system to her behavior to even “curing her Down Syndrome.”  Yes, someone told me there was a cure…..SMH!  The bottom line is over the years I have received more harsh criticism from “others” than I have kudos for what I am doing right.  THAT is hard……it is hard to be critiqued and told what you are doing wrong or what you should change to make your daughter more independent or cured from health issues.  I was even accused more than once of my faith not being strong enough; because if it was I would take Hannah to church and trust God that she would stay well and not get sick.  I have to say that comment broke me and actually is one of the reasons I have NO desire to step foot in church.  The judgements from people who “think they know” has jaded me over the years.  These are people who have no clue what my life is about and have never tried to understand.  It is their lack of willingness to put themselves in my shoes and their need to speak about things they no nothing about that makes me crazy.

Hannah is different, I am well aware of that.  I live with her 24/7.  I know that she is cognitively slow and will take years to master some of the things “typically-developed children” do easily and quickly.  Hannah is 13 and I still take her to the potty and bathe her.  I still help her brush her teeth and I mash her food up so she doesn’t choke on it.  She is not self-sufficient (although she does make her bed every morning on her own, cleans her playroom spotlessly without being asked, picks out her clothes and dresses herself), YAY for those things!  I can’t tell her to “go outside and play” or leave her unattended AT ALL!  Dennis and I will never be able to leave her home alone just to go to dinner or even send her to stay with someone at their home overnight.  There is so much that is DIFFERENT than most.  I am not complaining here, just stating the reality of raising a child with special needs.  It isn’t easy and then when someone comes by and offers you unsolicited advice and the things YOU need to change or do to improve your child’s quality of life it just doesn’t sit well.  Most of that advice has always come from either people who don’t have children or who have typically developed kids and think they are experts on all children.  News flash……I have a special needs child and I am not even an expert on kids with special needs let alone typically developed ones.

Can I tell you what a special needs mom needs?  They need:

  • understanding
  • compassion
  • invitations to hang out and do normal things; a chance to be child-free and adult!
  • a listening ear; not advice
  • someone they can laugh with, cry with, cuss with if need be
  • someone willing to learn what their life is like so perhaps they could offer help with childcare so that the special needs parents could just go out to dinner without worrying about paying someone.  Y’all, babysitting is NOT cheap!  We don’t do it often due to the cost.   Most people don’t need babysitters when their child is 13 years old!  Dennis and I do a lot of things separately so one of us can stay home with Hannah!
  • no judgment…..Special needs parents need a no judgment zone with friends who they can share their heart with and not be looked down upon.
  • an offer to bring a meal in the really hard times
  • a text, a phone call, a message and FB post just checking in on them
  • NEVER say (unless asked for advice)……”well if it were me” or “this is what I would do” or “have you tried this” or “well, a friend of mine does this.”  Just listen, I promise if the person wants advice they will ask for it.  Oh and please never say “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  This is the biggest pet peeve of mine.  The fact is God WILL give you more than you can handle ALONE……this is when He wants you to fully rely on Him.  Trust me when I tell you this…..without Christ and my reliance on Him I would NOT be okay right now.
  • Girlfriends to walk the journey with.  Not just other special needs mama’s but friends of all walks of life.  Special needs parenting is VERY lonely.  Trust me, I know this too well.  I have been “isolated” now for 13 years, but especially the past 5 years and it hasn’t been easy. At times, I have even been resentful and jealous of Dennis because he gets to go and do all the things he always did and I have been isolated.  Since I am on this subject my next bullet point is HUGE!
  • CHURCH……wake up, get out of your comfort zone and out of your 4 walls and go beyond those 4 walls and minister not only to the lost but to your own church members.  There are people who are HOMEBOUND who don’t choose to be…..you can’t be the hands and feet of Jesus sitting in a building…..hate to break it to you.  You can’t minister sitting in a pew.  You have to get out and reach out to those that won’t or can’t come to you.  On top of that develop a ministry in your church for those with special needs.  I know a lot of churches are beginning to see the need for this and are coming around.  Like the movie Fields of Dreams…..”if you build it, they will come.”  There is a whole group of people out there wanting a place to belong, a place to call home, a place to find love and acceptance…..the church should step up!  For so long I have kept my mouth shut to the public about my feelings of the church but by keeping my mouth shut they are just my feelings and don’t matter.  Perhaps advocacy for this very thing is what is needed.  Perhaps someone hearing this and doing something about it would then benefit someone else in the special needs community.  Maybe my little voice would help get something started.  Sitting in your pew is not a ministry……reaching out to the world is…..sometimes that is even reaching out to your own membership and loving them where they are!

Okay, well, this blog post turned into a mini novel and it was not my intention.  Sometimes I sit down at the computer to do a quick blog and it turns into so much more.  I guess I have more to say than I realize at times and it pours out of me.  Hopefully the right people will read this and prayerfully a change can take place in our hearts, lives, homes and churches.  I might have more to say about this soon…..so stay tuned!

Until next time……….

 

Fierce

Happy New Year to each of you!  I started the new year (actually the past week or so) not feeling really well.  I planned to do a New Year post yesterday but you know…..life and all!  HA!

I noticed on Facebook a lot of people were choosing a word for the year.  A word that they wanted to claim for themselves to define how they wanted to be in the new year.  I came up with several good words….intentional, courageous, hopeful, strong, joyful but I couldn’t decide on just one word until yesterday.  Dennis was off work and I have to take those opportunities while he is home to run errands.  I have a ton of shopping that I need to do in regards to remodeling our kitchen and such but yesterday  I hit up my least favorite store (Walmart), one of my favorite stores (Hobby Lobby) and Publix.  I didn’t really need anything in Hobby Lobby but I wanted to see if anything caught my eye and something did.  It was a sign that had this saying:

It hit me…..FIERCE!!!!  I want to be fierce!  I actually immediately thought of Hannah for this as well as she already is fierce!  I just loved this and it kind of gave me purpose, drive and the motivation that I lack so often for this new year!  There is so much I want to do this year, some things I have been putting off waiting for the perfect time and let’s face it, there is never going to be a “perfect” time to do anything…..you just have to do it.  I have a lot on my plate, but so does everyone and I need to prioritize things and conquer them…..being fierce is a word to describe how I plan on conquering the tasks at hand for 2019.

The definition of fierce is:

adjective

having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness

synonyms:  ferocious, savage, vicious, aggressive, cutthroat, competitive, keen, intense, strong, relentless

vulgar slang:  ass-kicking (this cracked me up)

a feeling of emotion or action; showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity

synonyms:  intense, powerful, vehement, passionate, impassioned, fervent, ardent

I am personally going with the feeling and emotion/action here…..”showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity” and “powerful, strong and passionate.” I promise I won’t be ferocious, savage, vicious or aggressive!  Although this new medication I begin next week has aggressive/personality changes as one of the most common side effects! So be forewarned!  HA!

I just want to be stronger this year and having a sense of fierceness is not a bad thing.  Being fierce can help you push through the adversity that life throws at you and helps you come out on the other side stronger and even more relentless than you were before.

I have a lot of obstacles to face this year, but don’t we all?  Is life easy for anyone?  If it is for you, hit me up and tell me about it!  HA!  How we deal with life and what is hurled our way is what matters…..this  year I am hitting it full on with a fierceness that I have never had before!  Let’s do this!

Hello 2019…..

Until next time……….

What 2018 Taught Me

Last night, sitting on the sofa in the stillness of the night after Hannah and Dennis were asleep.  I sat there looking at the Christmas tree and the beautiful lights reflecting on this past year.  We are just 2 days away from a new year but there is so much 2018 has taught me; perhaps more than any other year ever.  2018 will go down as a difficult year, but it will also be a year that taught me some valuable lessons.

  • Life is precious and fleeting

This one has been the most difficult thing to learn this year.  The loss of both of my in-laws and my grandmother was both shocking and sad.  It was just another reason to remember that life isn’t guaranteed and death is inevitable.  As sad as those 3 losses were we had several other tragic losses of friends that were both unexpected and tragic and again, another reminder that life is short and we are often caught off guard when a loved one passes.

  • Don’t take health for granted

This one has been particularly a bad year for me to realize this.  Usually, our years are about Hannah’s poor health but this year it was about mine.  In May, when I got sick, it was sudden and hit me like a train.  I now have most of our questions answered and will begin treatment in 2019.  We are still awaiting one more test to be done but at least we have answers and with proper diet, exercise and medications; although life will never be like it was prior to May, I will be okay.  But, I will never again take good health for granted.  Just one more thing that can change in an instant.

  • It is okay to walk away

Sometimes walking away from toxic and mean people is just plain necessary.  You try and try and try to be kind, loving, compassionate and forgiving but some people will always dislike you no matter what.  Sometimes it is necessary to just wash your hands and not look back.  This has been one of the toughest lessons for me this year as I have truly tried to be kind and loving to those who never return it, but sometimes enough is enough and walking away is the only thing that keeps you sane.

  • Embrace your journey, no matter the difficulty

I think I FINALLY did this in 2018.  It has taken me 13 years almost to really embrace this journey God gave me with Hannah.  You have to know my whole story prior to even getting pregnant to know why this has been harder on me than some people would think.  And, there are times still where I think…..”Dear Lord, what were you thinking giving me this life.”  But, HE chose me for this.  I didn’t choose it, He chose me and thinking of it in that perspective changes your mindset.  I have a hard time not looking at the “what-if’s” in life or the “what could have been” and those are dangerous thoughts both emotionally and mentally.  I have felt over the years that I lost my identity, and in some ways I have.  I am no longer “Tamara” but either “Dennis’ wife” or “Hannah’s mom.”  That is sometimes a hard pill to swallow especially for someone like me who is quite the extrovert.  I miss going, doing, being around others.  I miss the freedom to just go and do whatever I please BUT…..with that said, this year has shown me that my purpose and my mission in life is to be Dennis’ wife and Hannah’s  mom and that is okay.  I don’t need a job to fulfill me.  I don’t need interaction with people to sustain me.  I don’t need “freedom” outside my home to get me up and ready to tackle the day.  All I need are Jesus, Dennis and Hannah.  Anything and anyone else is just icing on the cake.  This journey is not easy, in fact, often times it is extremely difficult.  Having a child who is 13 years old physically yet 5 years old mentally and emotionally is not easy on me mentally, emotionally or physically but I look back at the FACT that God chose me and He knew He would equip me and I was the best one for the job.  Realizing that and understanding that was the big key to embracing this often times very difficult journey we walk.

 

  • Be grateful for the little things……

I have learned to be grateful for the little things…..sometimes that is just that the laundry is caught up and I have a whole day where there is no laundry to do, HA!  A mind and heart towards gratefulness is huge in healing your heartaches and worries.  This has been a difficult yet needed lesson for me.  Instead of waking up in a spirit of “oh yay, I get to do the same thing all over again” I wake up thanking God for another day to be alive and to be Hannah’s mom and Dennis’ wife.  It changes your whole mindset and heart when you are grateful.  There are days where my heart and soul ache badly but I remember just how much I have to be thankful for.  A husband who works hard (often times working lots of off-duty) to provide for us.  A beautiful home, 2 good and reliable vehicles, food on our table and money in the bank.  We have all of our needs met and a lot of our wants (at least the inexpensive wants, ha).  My husband goes out of his way to help with Hannah and does more than is required of most dads when their daughter is a teenager, so I can get out of the house, run errands and have some “me” time.  I miss interacting with friends/co-workers/family but my life and journey is what God chose and I need to be grateful for that.


2018 will not go down as a “happy” year but it will go down as a learning year.  One of many trials, heartaches and valuable lessons learned.  Happy New Year friends and family.  Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!

Until next time………

 

 

Hurt For The Last Time

UGH, why do we allow people to steal our joy?  Why do we allow the same people to hurt us over and over and over again?  When is it okay to say “ENOUGH?”  I think we all have someone in our life who continuously makes it their mission to wound others.  No matter how hard you try to keep the peace or love on that person; they make it impossible.  When is it okay to throw your hands up and be done?  I wish I had the answer to that question.  I mean, how long do you allow yourself to be a doormat; the place where someone continuously wipes the dirt from their feet on you and you continue to just take it?  As a Christian, I try so hard to turn the other cheek, bite my tongue and walk away but gee-wiz the more I try, the harder it becomes.

I came across this the other day:

It is so true for so many people.  Some people are in such pain themselves that all they can do is inflict pain on others.  My question though is this…..is it up to those who are being hurt to help those perpetrating the hurt to heal?  When do you walk away?  How much do you allow yourself to go through before you just can’t do it anymore?  I am wrestling with this and have no answers.  I know what the carnal side of me wants to do.  I want to throw my hands up in the air, walk away and not give a rats behind about this person ever again……I mean, how long until enough is enough and you are done?  MANY YEARS of this and I am getting to my “put a fork in me, I am done forever” place.  I refuse to allow someone to have the kind of control on me where they rob me of my joy, peace and contentment.  I have worked too hard to get in a place of being okay with my own personal heartaches and circumstances.  If you have read my blog for any length of time you know that I haven’t always been upbeat, positive and okay with my life BUT I have fought through my discontentment and my grief and I have gotten to a place of acceptance and even embracing the life God chose for me.  I have done that on my own, prayerfully without hurting others in the process.  It isn’t someone else’s fault that you are grieving, hurting or depressed.  Instead of hurting everyone around you, try reaching out or allowing others to love on you when they try.    Then I saw this and that “aha” moment hit me……it breaks my heart but I believe it to be so true.

I don’t have the answers I just know that I am at the point of walking away…….you can take so much before you just have to be done for your own sanity, well-being and peace of mind.  I keep telling myself that it isn’t a loss for me to walk away.  I mean what do I have to lose except the negativity and meanness?  I am also known to being a doormat and allowing others to walk on me, wipe their feet on me time and time again and I am ready for that cycle to stop.  Life is too short to allow others to be mean to you, treat you like the dirt under their feet and treat you like you don’t matter.

What a heartbreaking post to write, but today it hit me like a ton of bricks after I saw something on Facebook (I tell you sometimes Facebook is of the devil).  Hopefully I will do a lighter, happier post before the end of the year now.  Hate to end the year on this note but if I didn’t get it out, I thought I might explode.  I welcome your feedback on how you handle difficult and hurting people…….perhaps something you say might help me know better how to handle my own personal situation……my heart is broken but I am out of options at this point and I am just done.

Until next time…….

My Guy

For some reason today I am a little more mushy and sentimental than normal.  That is saying something too as I am not a very mushy or sentimental person (AT ALL).  It is funny, over the years I have compared Dennis and me and our upbringings when it comes to the loving, sentimental, mushiness and we are polar opposites.  Dennis and I were raised in very similar regards except for that aspect.  My family was not mushy, lovey-dovey, sentimental like his was.  I wasn’t raised in a hugging, kissing, saying “I love you” type of way.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was loved we just didn’t show it well.  Dennis, on the other hand was.  So, it was a shock to my system when he and I started dating.  It took a long time for me to be comfortable with all of that.  So, I give Dennis the credit for me being more affectionate than I used to be.  I still find it difficult at times to be a hugger, kisser or say the words “I love you,” but I have come a long way.

I love that Dennis loves me, our families and others the way that he does.  Dennis has no problem loving on people…..I am still more standoff-ish.  I admire that about him.  Of course, if you ever had the honor of meeting his dad; you know he gets it honestly.

This has been a difficult year for our family and especially for Dennis.  Starting out last January we knew we wouldn’t have long with his dad but we had no clue that just 3 months after losing his dad in May that we would lose his mom too.  Those losses were hard on Dennis, his sisters, and our families.  I will admit, I was worried about Dennis.  Could he bounce back quick?  Would he hit some stage of depression that would be hard to get out of?  Would he be angry?  I had a lot of questions on how he would handle it and of course had no way to have those questions answered…..I just had to a wait and see.  I tried to love and support him the best way I knew how and I hope he knows that I was there for him every step of the way and I pray he felt that.

Dennis has done so well.  I think watching his parents suffer for so long; even though losing them was devastating, he was happy they were no longer suffering.  He has bad moments but he hides them well.  He has taken the losses of this year though and made sure he has shown me, Hannah and others how much he loves us.  He has been more caring and sensitive to others (especially those who have gone through loss).  He has been extremely helpful to me since I got sick in May and he continues to support, encourage and love me through this illness.  He has been amazing and I know it is because he realized this year just how quick life can change and how important it is to be there for others.

His parents would be so proud of him.  The ways he has taken his hurt and grief and used it to help others endure their own hardships.  God knew 2018 was going to be a hard year for us but he intricately wove a lot of joy, peace and love into that hurt and grief so we could use it for His honor.  Dennis has done that.  He has taken his heartbreak and used if for Christ and I am so proud of him.  This past year has been one of our most difficult but watching God work through Dennis has made me so very proud.

This man…..yes, he is my husband but also my best friend.  My confidant, my encourager, my supporter (financially, mentally and emotionally) and my heart.  I am so proud of him.  He does everything well.  Yes, he has his faults (trust me, I know better than anyone) but he truly tries to do everything to the best of his ability.  His jobs, his friendships, his life with us here at home.  I just felt the need today as I was sitting here thinking about him and ALL he does for Hannah and me and needed to share it.  I am not what most would consider “high maintenance” but I am not “low maintenance” either and he makes sure I have all of my needs met and a lot of my wants.  He loves to do for me and I am so thankful for that…..(I write this as I have kitchen renovation estimates coming in, ha)!  He is my rock and my provider and I am so thankful for him.

This might be my last post until the new year (maybe not;  depends on my time management skills), but I wanted to make the end of the year post about my guy……I love you Dennis.  Thank you for choosing me and loving Hannah and me with all of your heart!  We love you with all we are!

Two peas in a pod!

A little throwback Christmas Picture of my little family!

Until next time…….