Worst Sister EVER

Okay, I am officially the worst sister ever.  I am totally a day late writing this blog post.  I am going to chalk it up to several things…..Monday was a holiday so ALL week-long my days have seemed to be a day behind.  Yesterday, all day, I thought it was Tuesday instead of one of the most important days of the year.  Also, I had a visual angiogram done and my vision was so bad all afternoon/evening that I couldn’t have sat in front of the computer if I had tried.  So….here is the blog post that should have been done yesterday……

November 14th…..a very special day in my family because it is “my person’s” birthday.  This year, in fact, he hit a milestone of birthdays (I won’t say which one but it was a biggie).  My brother……my hero……truly one of my favorite people on the planet……my longest friend and truthfully, my person.  He is the one that puts me in my place when I need it.  He goes to bat for me.  He supports me.  He has fought for me and with me and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves me (even though he is not the kind of guy to throw the “I love you’s” around).

He is older than me (by a little over 3 years) and liked me until I was about 6 months old and then wanted my mom to trade me in for a boy.  We had those typical growing up kid fights, but when push came to shove (even to this day), nobody has my back like my brother.  He is dependable, likable, funny (in a dry humor kinda way).  He has a work ethic like I have never seen before (seriously he works practically 24 hours a day it seems).  He is loyal, kind, strong (physically, emotionally and mentally) and he is probably one of the most honest people on the planet.

I have always adored him (even those growing up years where we fought a lot) and that adoration has never wavered, in fact, since Hannah was born it has only grown.  He loves his niece and she loves him deeply.  Nothing more special than seeing your brother with your daughter and the love between them.  I joke a lot about “marrying my brother” as he and Dennis are very much the same in many aspects….I love their relationship and brotherly love.  They might not be blood but their bond is stronger than any blood relation.  I am so thankful for that.

So, yesterday was Tracy’s birthday and I am so thankful he was born.  I am so grateful and honored to call him my brother and I truly love him dearly.  Happy Birthday Tracy…..hey and look…..I kept this blog post short just for you (as I know it is the only way you will read it)!  HA!

Those cheeks


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!

Brothers……not by blood, by choice!

Favorite picture ever!

YEARS ago (prior to Dennis)…..me, my brother, my niece Megan, my sis-in-law, my mom and dad

Hannah LOVES her “Unc.”

Until next time……..


Gratitude and Contentment In The Valley

I have been writing another blog since my last blog post but I have put it aside for right now to blog about something else.  This has been a difficult season for me but a much-needed and learning season.  Lessons I needed to be taught and most likely they couldn’t have been learned otherwise.

I know I have been vague and I will continue to be somewhat vague until I know for certain what is going on with me medically but I felt the need to just blog about some of the things that I am learning in this difficult season.  When I got sick in May  I had no clue it would still be going on in November nor did I think that I would still have so many unanswered questions.  We do know a few things about what is happening but I still have much more testing to take place.  I have another brain MRI coming up, a CT angiogram, a Visual angiogram and most likely a spinal tap.  I am putting the spinal tap off as long as I can.  I have had one before (in 2009) and I still remember that and it was not fun.  I do know there is a lot going on in my body.  Lots of inflammation, pain, and issues with my brain …..(my brother would say he called that years ago, ha) and Central Nervous System.  I have been blessed with a great group of doctors and even though the things I have learned and know right now make me sad at times and cause some concern I have learned a whole lot about myself and just how important it is to take care of YOU!

Taking care of me has been on the back burner since Hannah was born.  I mean, her needs were and still are my highest priority.  I have always eaten fairly healthy, or so I thought.  It wasn’t until 4 weeks ago that I started monitoring and journaling everything I eat and really taking notice of food.  I have since realized just how much crap I put in my body along with the good stuff.  For 4 weeks I have eaten almost completely clean!  I have cut out all sugar (except fruit).  I have cut out all processed food and fatty meats.  I have loaded up with fresh vegetables, chicken, beans, and no bread except a whole grain english muffin for breakfast because I am a horrible breakfast eater and would skip it otherwise.  In just a month I have dropped 8 pounds.  I know….I didn’t look like I had 8 pounds to lose, but honestly I did.  I am not doing it to lose weight, it just happened.  But, I feel so much better.  My energy level is better and let me tell you that part is a miracle because since May my energy level has been that of a turtle.  I feel better.  The bloat/swollen feeling is gone, the sugar crashes are obsolete (cause there is no sugar) and I am sleeping somewhat better.  Still have some insomnia but not like it was.  My pain is better, although still there but I am even walking everyday and pushing Hannah in her wagon and that is huge for both of us.  Prior to this change in eating and pushing myself to exercise, just walking hurt my joints, muscles and head.  Now I am walking at least a mile each day.

I say all this to say this is now a lifestyle change for me….out of necessity but now it is becoming what I want.  I am looking at food now as the source of some of my issues and pain; but when you put good, quality, healthy nourishment in your body that pain lessens and it turns into energy and helps with the inflammation.  I have always heard, you are what you eat and I am beginning to really believe that.  So, one lesson I have learned through this is we have ONE body and we need to take care of it.  Nutrition and Sleep are 2 critical things we all need…..oh and LOTS of water.  This doesn’t mean I won’t splurge because I will…..I am making a cheesecake for my brother’s birthday and I WILL eat a small piece.  But, overall this is a new change of lifestyle for me forced because of medical issues, but I am not about to let medical problems keep me from doing all I can to feel my best.

God has also used this time to make me grateful for things I take for granted.  Do you know how blessed we are to have our eyesight, hearing, use of our legs, arms, hands and feet?  How blessed we are to have the ability to think and talk? When some of those things get threatened, it makes you immediately grateful for all God gave us and how He made us.  It is up to us though to take care of this ONE body He gave us.  I wish I had learned this as a child.  I would have taken better care of myself.  We have to put time and effort into our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.  At nearly 47 years of age I am finally grasping that well-rounded concept of overall health…..body, mind and spirit!

I wish I hadn’t had to get sick to learn these things and BE THANKFUL for this body and life I do have.  But, some of us learn slower and are more stubborn than others.  I had a dear friend ask me this week how I was emotionally with all of this.  I was honestly able to say I am okay.  I have had a few little breakdowns after doctor appointments and bad news but believe it or not I am content in my life, I am not depressed and even though I have concerns about the “what-if’s” I am not worried and dwelling on those concerns.  I am going to live my life!  I am going to continue to push myself and do what has to be done and what I want to do.  I am not going to dwell on the pain and I am not going to let it stop me.  I am going to pray hard, eat healthy, take care of my family and push myself to always move forward.

I have too much to lose if I quit…….

These pictures were from last fall but there are some of my favorites……I love and adore my family and I am so thankful they are mine!  I will add this…..I have never in a million years thought that a husband could be as loving and supportive over the difficult years we have had like Dennis has been.  If you knew just half of what he has had to do with Hannah for 13 years you would agree he is dad of the century!  There are not many men who would be willing to do all he does…..y’all…..you just don’t know what has been required of him and asked of him.  Hannah is 13 years old….she is grown and yet still so young mentally.  Then you add my issues on top of that and ALL the loss our family has had this year and Dennis continues to prove his love for Hannah and me over and over again.  He is a warrior at heart and in his mind.  He is truly resilient and continues to persevere through the trials.  I am so blessed to have a husband who is so loving, supportive and kind.  Thought I needed to throw that in here as until you walk in our shoes you have no clue what is required of my hard-working husband…..he truly should win some kind of award!

Until next time……..



Where Did Respect Go

There are so many issues in America today that really make me angry.  One of the top issues to me though is the war against police.  As an officer’s wife and the sister of an officer I am sure you sit there going “oh well, it affects you so much that is why it makes you angry.”  The fact is though, it should make everyone angry regardless of your connection with an officer.  Here are my thoughts:

I was taught from the day I came into this world to RESPECT the police.  I was scared of the police.  I remember at the age of 16 driving over one of many bridges here in Jacksonville.  I was nervous anyway driving and then realized I was heading in the wrong direction.  I decided to make an illegal U-turn but I didn’t see the police officer sitting there.  Of course, after making the turn I looked in my rearview mirror and saw those lights.  My legs started shaking, my hands trembling, tears began to fall…..all before I had time to pull over and stop.  He was very kind (thankfully) and gave me a warning (which I thanked him for profusely).  But, I was scared of him out of respect for him.  I can look back over my life and the encounters I have had with officers (I might have had a lead foot in my earlier years) and I have always been respectful and appreciative of their service and what they sacrifice.  It was marrying Dennis though that showed me exactly what that sacrifice looks like and I want to share that today.

After Dennis and I got married he was still working the street.  He would basically work 4-5 days on and then 4-5 days off.  They were long days when he worked.  In fact, I worked a regular 8am-5pm job and he worked a shift of 1:30pm-1am.  So, the days he worked we didn’t see each other.  We were ships passing in the night.  He would get ready for work and I would call it getting into “police mode.”  His personality would change once he put that uniform on.  Not in a bad way, just a confident and serious way.  He took and still takes his job extremely serious and his philosophy has been and continues to be to come home after his shift safely.  I remember after we got married begging him to get off the street.  I hated the shift and I was scared for him every time he walked out that door (and this was 17 years ago….imagine what it would be like today if he was still on the street).  We hadn’t been married long and he put in a transfer to Detective Division and he has been there ever since.  Of course people hear “Detective” and they think he is safe.  So let me clue you in on what he has done in his Detective career.

There have been many nights of staking out a business (especially when he was in Robbery).  There was the dreaded night-shifts, serving warrants, dealing with the scum of the earth (kinda what he does now in my opinion).  Did you know that while your kids were safely out trick-or-treating last night my husband was driving around to Sexual Predators homes to make sure they were in compliance and not passing out candy or having lights on or decorations to entice kids to come to their home?  Most people don’t realize the behind the scenes of what a lot of officers do to ensure yours and your children’s safety.  I have always said that the cops on the street are the ones directly in the line of fire.  They are in marked units and in uniform.  I have the utmost respect for our street officers, but also our undercover officers and detectives.  Do you know the danger some undercover officers have to put themselves into to get the bad guys off the street?  It is some scary stuff.  Things  you don’t hear about and you can’t ever get the real picture by watching TV shows (that isn’t reality).

Our officers, men and women leave their homes every morning, afternoon or evening KNOWING full well what their mission is and what they have to do.  They take a sworn vow to protect and defend; even if it costs them their life.  Let that sink in.  Most officers I know are married and/or have families that they leave behind each day to go into an evil, crime-ridden world to protect and defend innocent STRANGERS.  WHO does that?  Can you even fathom not having that protection?  I can’t.  I never want to live in a world without the police.  I never want to be in a situation where there is no one to call for help.

I also never want to get that call where something has happened to my husband or my brother.  BUT, that is the reality I face every.single.day especially in this day and age we live in.  Kids nowadays aren’t being raised to respect the police; heck there are so many adults who don’t respect what that shield means.  We have people running for government offices who don’t respect them (Case in point…..Andrew Gillum who is running for Florida Governor has ZERO respect for law enforcement and it will be horrific for Florida if he wins).  Killing cops has become what seems to be a favorite pastime for criminals.  People don’t care anymore when an officer is shot or killed; it is just business as usual but that shouldn’t be the case.  I take it personally every time an officer is shot or killed in the line of duty because I know that could have been my loved one.  The videos of disrespect and hate that surface are difficult to watch…..in fact when I see someone fighting the police it makes my blood boil.

I have said many times that I know there are some bad cops just like there are bad doctors, lawyers, politicians (okay that is a lot), nurses, teachers, electricians, car salesmen, etc….every profession has a few bad apples but you don’t blame the entire profession.  I send my husband out every.single.day praying for his safety and yes I am counting down the days to his retirement (11 more months).  I KNOW what he does each day and I know the types of people he has to deal with.  It is unsettling to me but I am proud of him, the profession he chose and his heart behind his chosen profession.  You see, he always wanted to be a police officer.  As a young boy the career chose him and he has done it well, just like all the other officers I personally know…..they do their jobs and they do it well.  With hearts and souls willing to sacrifice it all.  There are 3 professions that I can think of that put their lives on the line to protect you and me.  Our military, our law enforcement and our fire fighters……where is the respect for those men and women in today’s society?  It has become non-existent especially in so many of our celebrities and politicians views.  People like to throw the “bad apples” in my face and the face of society.  There is WAY more good, kind, compassionate officers than bad ones.  We need to teach our children respect for those protecting and defending us…..heck, I know some adults who need to be taught that same respect because the fact is without these men and women there would be NO law, no order and our world would be in chaos; more so than it already is.

Take it from this wife and sister……our loved ones make many sacrifices for YOU and your family…….I am so sickened by the lack of care and concern that many Americans have for those willing to pay the ultimate price for our safety and our freedom.  Law Enforcement Officers are not the problem in this society people with lack of respect and concern for human life are the problem……this brings me to my next blog post tomorrow……..

Until next time…….


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……..

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!




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……….

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…….