Neighbors and Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time………

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Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time……..

Seasons Of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time……..

A Whole Lifetime In 17 Years

It has only been 17 years ago today but in so many ways it seems that it has been a lifetime that Dennis and I stood before God, family and friends and took our wedding vows.  Vows that seem SO real right now in many ways……

For better, for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health as long as we both shall live………those words, when we said them on a stormy Friday night 17 years ago were so easy to say because everything was better, richer and in health.  Today, much of that has changed…..life and circumstances have literally turned our world and life as we know it upside down and news today made that roller coaster ride even harder.  But, even though our life and circumstances have changed from those vows 17 years ago, I am so thankful that the love, commitment and devotion that we said those vows with remains strong and in tact.

For 17 years I have had this man beside me not only as my husband but as my best friend.  In the happy times he makes me laugh and I keep him laughing as well (at me, not necessarily with me).  In the hard times, he is my strength.  In the sad times, he is my rock.  In the times we aren’t happy with each other there is that underlying peace that no matter what, neither of us are going anywhere and we will work through whatever the issue is.  He has defended me, protected me, loved me, and provided for me for 17 years.  There is NOBODY I feel safer with and in this day and age that is an amazing feeling.  I trust him completely and I know I am safe.  My heart is safe.  My feelings and emotions are safe.  Heck, my anger is safe (can y’all believe I get angry?)  HA!  I can vent to him and tell him my deepest confidences knowing full well that he will never repeat it.  When we had Hannah 13 years ago our world crashed down around us a lot…..a sick baby, 3 open-heart surgeries, many other surgeries, procedures, hospital stays, her now being immune compromised and she and I basically being stuck at home 24/7…..never once has he said to me…..”I don’t want to do this anymore.”  Multiple times I have said to him, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”  Never once has he said, “I can’t do this.”  Multiple times I have said, “I can’t do this.”  Never once has he said, “I am angry at God.”  Multiple times I have said, “I am angry at God.”  Never once has he said, “I want to run away.”  Multiple times I have said, “I want to run away.”  You get the picture?  He is my rock…..when I get defeated, battered down, worn…..he is the one who picks me up, encourages me and gives me the strength to carry on…..he and The Lord are the 2 people who have truly seen the good, bad and ugly in me and yet, they are both still here fighting for me and with me, pushing me, loving me and at times being my punching bags.

17 years…..if feels like a lifetime (in good and bad ways); but these past 17 years one person has been my constant.  One person has seen and heard it all and trust me he has heard a lot (and some of it not very pretty).  For 17 years I have had this man stand beside me through battles that most people will never face and carry me through many of them.  He is strong, he is optimistic (where I am not), he is loving (that is not the word I would use to describe me), he is faithful, he is kind, he is compassionate……geez, I am typing all these words to describe him and I realize just how wonderful he is and how wonderful I am not…..I kinda suck!  HA!  You see, God knew I needed a man like Dennis……I am so thankful for these past 17 years because I have had an amazing man to go through this journey we call life with.  What a life it has been and I am just thankful that he has stuck with me.  No matter what, those vows we said all those years ago not only hold true today but have made us realize we are stronger together.  Together with the Lord, there is nothing we have faced or will face in the future, that we can’t get through.

Happy Anniversary my love…..thank you for choosing me, vowing to love me no matter what, honoring me and fighting for me!  I love you now and forever.

Then:  August 31,2001….seems like a lifetime ago! Yes, I was a blonde, but not naturally! HA! These 2 “kids”had no clue what life had in store!

 

Now…….March 2018…..

Until next time……..

 

When It Rains…..It Pours

My cousin texted me this week and said, “when it rains, it pours.”  My response was “at this rate, I need to build an ark because it is flooding.”

What do I do when times are tough…..I write…..so that means you have to endure all my thought-sharing.  Aren’t y’all lucky?

2018 has dealt us a hard blow……okay, let’s just be real; it hasn’t just been this year, it has been the past 4-5 years.  Life has been so challenging but this year; well it hasn’t just been about hardships in life but extreme sadness, suffering and loss as well.  In May we lost Dennis’ dad.  Ten days later I got sick and have stayed that way.  Not too long after that my grandma spent 18 days on her deathbed with an around the clock bedside vigil from our family until the Lord called her home.  Then, unexpectedly (although she was in hospice care she was doing much better) we lost Dennis’ mom this past Monday.  Wednesday morning at 7am I received a call from my dad that he found my perfectly healthy, energetic mom after she passed out in the shower and became unresponsive.  She was rushed to the ER.  She is still today (Sunday) in the hospital.  Even though we have a better idea of what happened (she had a pulmonary embolism and passed out thus fracturing multiple vertebrae in her spine) she has a very long road to recovery.  We are praying she gets transferred to a rehabilitation facility tomorrow or Tuesday.  We will then lay my mother-in-law to rest on Tuesday and I will be meeting with my team of doctors for all my test results and hopefully a diagnosis after almost 4 months of not feeling well this Friday.  Needless to say, life is just hard and keeps getting harder in so many ways.

I feel pulled in so many directions, weary and worn and yet through it all ONE thing remains……PEACE…..I cannot explain it except that The Lord promises to never leave us or forsake us, to sustain us and keep us in perfect peace and I feel all of those things.

Weary, worn, exhausted, lonely at times but at peace. HOW?  BUT GOD!  Only through Him do I continue to press on.  I am thankful for a peace that passes all understanding.  I am thankful for the promises God gives us and I am clinging to so many of those right now.  God never promised that life would be easy; in fact He said in this world we would have tribulation (I do think some people seem to have more than others though, lol).  I do know that NOTHING AND NO ONE can separate me from Christ and His love and goodness.  His mercies are new every morning and right now, in this very moment I am thanking Him for our trials and tribulations because in those times of helplessness He is building us, growing us, and making us stronger, more resilient and in my case more determined to NEVER let the devil win!  Yes, I am giving my self a “blogging pep talk.”  HA!  In all honesty I need to go to bed and really rest……I just needed to tell myself and maybe someone out there that no matter how hard life is you keep going, fighting and put one foot in front of the other until the storm and rain settles and God provides the rainbow you are praying for.

Prayers appreciated for my sweet mom………

Prayers appreciated for Dennis and our family…….

Until next time……..

I’ve Been Thinking

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately….I know that could be scary!  I haven’t been able to fall asleep or stay asleep the past few weeks as the wheels in my brain keep spinning and thinking and I can’t shut them off.  I have thought about everything from my past to the present to the future.  I have thought about family and friends and enemies.  I have thought about successes and failures; challenges and blessings.  I have thought about God, His promises and my faith and how it has grown and changed in so many ways especially the past 13 years.  I have thought about receiving grace and extending grace.  I have thought about hurts, sorrows, wants and longings as well as joys, accomplishments and having my needs met.

When you are laying in bed and can’t sleep the thoughts are rampant.  I have laid there in tears and with a smile.  I have felt sadness, grief and anger and also joy and happiness.  I have done the whole, “if I had done this different where would I be” thought process and also “if I hadn’t done this where would I be?”  Thinking can be good and really bad if you allow it to be.

Last night I laid in bed thankful for friendship.  True, loyal friendship.  Those kind of friends who know you and still love you no matter how much you might not love yourself.  The ones you can be TOTALLY yourself with and have no judgment placed on you by them.  Those you can trust with your deepest and darkest secrets and know those secrets are safe!  I had dinner last night with 2 of those friends.  These 2 girls probably know me better than anyone as every time we are together we lay it all out on the table.  There are no secrets, nothing to hide and absolutely ZERO judgments!  I am so thankful for those kind of friends……I am also very thankful for a husband that sees that I need that time and those girls in my life.  I have had a rough few months and that 6 hours last night sitting at Seasons 52 was the best time I have had in a really long time.  They say laughter is good medicine and it truly is.  We shared our sorrows of life with each other and then we just laughed.  We made fun of life and we just laughed and it felt so good.  I am so thankful for those rare moments where I have not a care in the world and I can enjoy those special true and loyal friendships that God has blessed me with.  It is funny too…..the 3 of us; we are TOTALLY different people on completely different journey’s yet we have a bond from our past that has carried us to where we are today.  We are stronger, better, able to show more grace than we ever received and we have persevered some of the most traumatic life experiences ever and we have come out better because of it and stronger together for it.  Some of our worst past experiences have molded us into who we are today and even though I would never wish certain experiences and challenges on anyone I am thankful for those experiences and the man who brought us all together into this place we are today.  I cherish these women and our friendship.

 

 

Life is hard for everyone…..no matter the journey you are on I would venture to say nobody truly has it easy but if you have a friends or a group of friends or a whole tribe to help you endure the hardships of life then you are truly blessed and it makes life and the sucky parts of it so much more bearable.  When you can look at that friend and say “life really sucks” and then laugh hysterically…..now that is a gift and one I was so thankful for last night.  Yes, life sucks sometimes but finding the humor in it all and a friend to laugh about it with…..well, that is an amazing gift and one I will never take for granted!

Until next time……..

Trying Harder

I logged onto Facebook this morning and it is flooded with back to school pictures of my friends children.  Watching our kids grow up is so surreal.  One minute you are holding a tiny baby and the next minute they are entering middle school and high school.  Where does time go?  It goes so fast and as a mom it is hard sometimes.  That whole cutting the apron strings, turning them loose and allowing them to fly; sometimes making mistakes and falling flat on their faces so they learn.  So hard to watch, I am sure…..many prayers for my friends who have kids starting back to school today.  My situation is a tad bit different from most……

I have to admit, seeing all the pictures this morning made me happy for my friends but sad for me.  I so wish Hannah was heading back to school.  Tomorrow would be her first day at the school she would be going to.  We are entering our 5th year of not being able to go.  Hannah loved school the 3 years that she went.  She couldn’t wait to get in the car each morning and head to school to learn and play with her friends.  The past 4 years have been HARD on her and me.  I will admit to not being the best “home school mom.”  In fact, in all actuality I really suck at it.  With PANDAS, Hannah’s anxiety, her past aggression (hopefully this part is gone for good), her lethargy and no energy, etc homeschooling is really hard.  Some days I have allowed the iPad to replace actual work.  Of course when I say iPad, I am referring to educational apps and ABC mouse; things like that.  I am bound and determined to do better this year.  I am not starting until after Labor Day though.  I guess that is the good thing about homeschooling…..you start and end when you feel like it and you make your own schedule.  It is hard though…..constant 24/7 cooped up in this house.  I wish we could do field trips and co-ops; but not only due to germs but also Hannah’s increasing anxiety cripples us and we never leave the house.  Don’t get me wrong, I try to get her to just step foot outside but she is not interested.  She just wants to sit in her playroom (schoolroom) and never see the sun.  I even bribe her with Chick-fil-a (her favorite) just to get her outside and in the car and most of the time she changes her mind and wants to stay home and eat a PB & J instead.  Her anxiety has gotten worse and it is so hard on her and this weary mom.

I am struggling horribly with so much.  The day-to-day routine of the same repetitive conversations, routines, OCD behaviors and tasks.  It is like living in the movie Groundhog Day every single day……the same thing and I can understand how it could make you lose your mind.  I definitely have less patience than I used to, less motivation and drive than I used to and I find myself feeling like a zombie most days……just getting through the day anxiously awaiting bedtime!  HA!  Of course, me not feeling good now for almost 4 months doesn’t help.  But, we press on; what else can we do.  This is the life we have been dealt and I tell myself daily that it could be worse.

So, our school year will officially start in September but I am preparing now to do a better job than years past.  It is just hard to embrace home school life when it was NEVER your intention.  I applaud those friends of mine who chose this home school journey….you are better moms than I am.  I was forced into it due to Hannah’s health.  I LOVED the school she attended and she could have stayed there her entire school career had she not gotten sick and that makes me sad.  But, just like everything else in life, we take the good and the bad and we press forward and make the most out of it.  I believe that no matter where in life God has us we need to do it to the best of our ability.  We need to strive for doing all we do well; even if it is staying at home with a sick child…..circumstances shouldn’t change our strive to be the best.  That is my goal…..I have a job here at home.  It doesn’t pay financially but it pays in ways that matter the most…..I have the unique job of caring for a chronically ill special needs little girl who has had a grip on my heart from the moment I found out I was pregnant.  THIS job is the hardest job I have ever had, the saddest, the most challenging but the most rewarding as well.  If nothing else I can say I have given it my all for 13 years and now it is time to try to embrace this homeschooling journey as much as the parenting one……I am certainly going to put my best foot forward.

Praying we all have a good school year whatever that looks like in your world!

Until next time………