Category Archives: children

Thanks, Dad!

Psalm 68:5 New International Version (NIV)
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

 

Today is Father’s Day. I miss my daddy so much. I am 54 years old and I will always call him daddy. He went home to our Heavenly Father in September of 2015. Seems like just yesterday. I still remember hugging him and telling him I loved him, as I left him that day, in his home in Florida, because I couldn’t miss any more work. I knew it wouldn’t be long and he would be home where he longed to go. I think of him all the time, and want so bad to pick up the phone and just hear his voice. But I sense him every now and then, and I know he’ s keeping an eye on me from there. I know I will see him again and that will be a joyous day for sure!

I want to say thank you, daddy, for always teaching me what being a parent is. That being friends with your children isn’t because you don’t love them; it isn’t because you aren’t cheering them on to be the best person they can be; it is because you can’t be a parent to them and raise them and be their best friend. It took me many years as a parent myself to understand that. But when I was in my teens and wanted my daddy to be my friend, I just was crushed that he told me in no uncertain terms, “I’m not your pal, I’m not your buddy, I’m your dad.” Period.

And let’s face it, we can have great relationships with our parents, our fathers, but we can’t have it both ways growing up. As a child, we need our parents to set boundaries and being a friend can get sticky because friends do things with you, parents would absolutely say no to. He was very wise. Always. He taught me about Jesus. He taught me about helping others; wanting nothing in return. He taught me about life and how to get through it when all I wanted to do was give up. He taught me that giving up isn’t an option. Life isn’t fair. Get over it. Move on. He taught me what it means to respect others, especially those older than you. I never had to doubt the type of man he was, because he lived it daily. He showed me what a good work ethic was and what it meant to have one. He embodied integrity and being honest to a fault. He showed me that when you make a promise, you follow through. Your words mean something. And like me, he didn’t know how to give a “reader’s digest” version of anything. I get that from him. He taught me about so many things in the 50 years he was my daddy, that there isn’t enough space to write it all down, but I hold it dear to my heart and think of the great times we had together. I miss him so very much.

12002285_10153693477532317_59695028194444929_n IMG_20150409_185650_610 Daddy memorial

 

This message is for any person that is a father to a child(and let me be clear, anyone can be a sperm donor, but it takes a real man to be a father). To the men that step up and become a father by choice or chance, Happy Father’s Day! To the men that share those sleepless nights with others, coach their children’s little league teams, when they could be doing a thousand other things, to the daddies that hold their child’s fingers in the NICUs of the world, to the ones that are about to become a dad, Happy Father’s Day!

And to the moms, grandparents, and others that don’t have a “father” in your child’s life, this day is for you too. For the many male role-models in the lives of children, that show them how to do things most father’s do, thank you.

We have two grandchildren that do not have their “donors” in their lives. Their choice. Yes, I may be a bit bitter about it, but these children will never know that they aren’t loved and cared for because there are men in their lives that fill the gap. Maybe one day they will ask, why they don’t have a daddy and I know God will give me the wisdom to say the right words at the right time.

Psalm 103:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

And thank you to our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, for being the Father that is always here for us, no matter what. Thank you for the unconditional love you have for each of us and the unmerited grace and mercy you shower upon us each and every day. Happy Father’s Day, Lord!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! Right now and always!

Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony!

#HOPEALWAYSHAVE FAITH

Blessings~Carlene

 

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**Defining Moments**

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

1 John 5:14-15 NLT

The past few weeks, our church sermons have been about defining moments in our lives where you knew they were orchestrated by the Lord. Times of trials and joys and what was it that made it a defining moment for you? Did this moment in time grow your faith? Show you how much Jesus listens to you, your cries, your prayers? And would you be willing to share your testimony of what those defining moments looked like in your life?

These sermons started me thinking. What have some of the most defining moments in my life been and there are two that stand out. Oh yes, I have had more than two and I am sure at some point I will share those also, but these really rooted my faith in the Father.

I gave up my life to follow Jesus at the age of 11. I have always been someone that loves Jesus. I had drifted away from talking to him all the time, but in 2006, after many hard times, and trying to do it all on my own, not leaning into Him or focusing on His strength, not mine, he showed up in a pretty big way. If you have heard this before, please forgive the repeat, but these moments were huge for me.

I used to work for a big box retailer and part of my job that day was to count products and make sure they were scanning correctly, fixing shelf labels and enter the data into our system if errors were found. This particular afternoon, I was in one of my least favorite sections of the store. The aisle that holds all the tiny travel sizes of shampoos, toothpaste, lotions, etc.  Those are always a nightmare to count and check, but in order to have accurate counts and correct pricing, like any other item, it had to be done.

I set to the task and started counting, scanning, making notations, printing labels and things were going fairly quickly and as customers appeared in the aisles, I would stop and greet them, ask if they needed help and then continue on with this exhaustive task. One customer kept reappearing in the aisle, but something was different about her. Although she had replied several times that she didn’t need help, I felt a nudge in my heart that not only did she need compassion more than ever, the Lord was telling me to pray for her.

At that moment in my life, I loved praying for others through texts and emails but wasn’t confident about praying out loud for anyone. I always felt I would mess it up somehow, or I wouldn’t know what to say. And if you know Jesus, he doesn’t let us stay in our comfort zone for very long. He is constantly working to stretch us beyond our abilities because this is when He is our strength. He is the wisdom we need in our lives. And as futile as it was, internally I was arguing with Him. I was struggling to offer to pray. But no matter how many times I tried to focus on my job, the Lord wasn’t having any part of it and so I stood from my kneeling position and I asked once again if I could help her.

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As she started to speak, tears gently rolled down her cheek. She told me that she had a brain tumor. She was told that without the surgery, to remove the tumor, she would die, but if she chose to have the surgery, there was a 50% chance she would recover and live a long life. It was scheduled for a few days away and her family didn’t believe in Jesus or God and that she was struggling in what to do. And then she apologized for burdening me with her problems.

I asked for her name. She told me her name was Robyn. I introduced myself to her, although clearly she already knew my name as my name badge was there for the world to see. And then, with a lot of trepidation and internal fear, I asked if I could pray for her. She said that would be great, she always welcomed prayers. But I wasn’t sure she understood my request. So, I went onto say, may I pray for you right now at this moment? Again, she agreed. I asked if I could place my hand on her shoulder and she said yes (by now a small crowd had gathered in this aisle, listening to every word) and I asked God to give me the words. I don’t recall what the words were, but I prayed with her and over her. We hugged and she cried. There were many tears that day. Before she left, she told me that earlier in the day, she had cried out to the Lord and said, Lord if you are in agreement with me having this surgery, I need a sign. I need to know I am doing what should be done. She told me she knew she would be okay and slowly walked away.

I never saw her again. But I know she is living her life to the fullest. And that was the day, I stopped letting fear take over and started listening to the nudges from the Holy Spirit. I think about that moment as if suspended in time. I can see her face, I can feel how I used to think – Why me? Why can’t someone else do it? – and I still remember the blessing of being able to walk in obedience and do what was asked of me, even if I did it with a little bit of fear.  As for my work that day, I did complete it, but with a lot more joy in my heart than when I had started.

The enemy will do everything in his power to squash us, our faith, our relationship with Jesus. He will create doubt within us if we let him. Don’t.  Trust that no matter what Jesus calls you to do, he will give you everything you need to accomplish it!

Christmas tree stand

 

The second most defining moment had to do with our Christmas tree. Our son, now 23, was 11 years old and he loved everything to do with Christmas, but especially putting up the tree. During this season in our lives, there were no extra funds for anything extra. Gifts were made for our children and maybe a few special items from a dollar store.

The night we drag the Christmas tree box out of storage, sort the branches by size and reach into the box to get the plastic tree stand out, his boyish grin, all excited with anticipation, falls to the floor and sadness overtakes his entire face. His shoulders are slumped down and he is about to give up because the plastic stand was old and somehow had broken in several pieces while in storage.  He knew our situation. He knew we didn’t have money to buy a new tree with a stand or a stand that we could use, but I have always believed duct tape is the only tool I need. His father and I were separated and his father lived far away, so coming up with a solution to mend this stand, was forming in my mind, but I knew this was a way to teach him about faith.

I assured him that not all hope was lost. I asked him to retrieve a small board from my closet and the roll of duct tape. I was sure we could fix it. He tried to be brave and not let me see his tears and said, “it’s okay mom, we don’t need a tree this year.” My heart sank. I asked if he believed in the power of prayer and if he believed that God could make this tree stand. He said maybe. So, as I begin to tape together the stand, I prayed to ask God to help me. I knew that for my child to believe, he needed something tangible that he could see. And God knew that too.

After several moments of attempting to tape it together and then fashioning it into something that resembled a tree stand, we secured it to the small wooden board. Again, I asked him, if you believe in your heart that Jesus is God and God can do anything, will you pray with me and let’s ask God to help us help our little tree stand, with all the ornaments and lights on it. With the star on top. For God to strengthen this heavy tree, so we could celebrate Jesus and His birthday. AND if the cat, went exploring, as she always did when the tree was put together, that the broken stand would hold her ground. So we bowed our heads and held onto that board and we prayed. We also thanked God for his love for his children and for his help.

I have no doubt it was all God. That little stand and that tree with heavy ceramic ornaments and many strands of light and a very inquisitive cat,  held up until the tree was finally tossed out as it had many years of use (approximately 10 total, 4 with the mended stand). And his faith grew. He knew that he could go to prayer to God about anything, anytime and God would listen.

As our son, has grown into a man, he knows that sometime’s God says yes, sometimes no and sometime’s wait. But I know as a mother, that was one of his defining moments and definitely one of mine; I am so blessed by the love Jesus shows every day to each of us.

These moments remind me in my darkest times, that God is always with me. That I don’t have to be perfect or have all the answers, because HE is and HE does. It is my responsibility to trust Him in everything and for everything.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! You are His child. He is always listening. He can and will use any mess as a message to others and any test you go through as a testimony to His glory! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

Tender Mercies

Mercies New Every Morning

Just as the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, I am finding my compassion and mercy must be just as new every day and the events from the previous day must be filed in the crevices of my brain as another day done.

It is so easy to hold onto hurts, hangups, and insecurities and let them fester in our minds. If we dwell on events that have happened days before or years before, we are not living as Jesus Christ wants us to.

Today was a difficult day in our home. For all of us. It didn’t start out that way, most days never do but throw in a child that can meltdown in a moment, and heated words and tempers flared toward one another and you usually have a recipe for disaster. I was reminded of this as my husband attempted to usher our grandson into the house after he climbed down the steps of his school bus with little success. He’s a runner and he loves being outside. After many months of  a cold winter, it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to come into the house, but not only is he not old enough to be outside alone, he has a tendency to run as soon as he can and chasing him around the house or down the street to catch him and encourage him to come inside is less than ideal. It usually requires one of us carrying him in, kicking and screaming, literally.  And as usual, if there are cars passing by or people they may think he is being hurt or abducted. In today’s world, there is always a fear that someone will think that.  And the stares are just as bad as if someone actually says something. Nothing was said, but there were stares and immediately you are on the defense. Even if you don’t want to be. No one, unless they live with an autistic child, can understand the stares or unspoken comments just lingering there.

While we try to calm him and explain why he can’t come outside, the person passing by makes her way to our front door. I opt to be the person to open the door and am ready to matter-of-factly let this person know, everything is ok; he lives here. When she just comes to tell me, I totally understand what you are going through. My child is autistic. At that moment all defensiveness subsides and I am so thankful she chose to come back and speak those words. She stood on my porch for many minutes and we talked about how difficult it is and shook hands knowing that she is not alone in this journey either.

That one event changed the course of our day for all of us. Everyone was on edge for the rest of the day. But we didn’t have to be. We could have chosen to let that moment go and continue with our day; however, no one told our grandson that it was over. He managed to stay in his defiant mood for most of the day. Nothing was going as he wanted, so, therefore, he did what he does. He screamed. He cried. He slammed himself into the wooden gates that separate rooms. He threw a tantrum in the vehicle because he wasn’t getting his way.  I’ll admit there are times like today that I cry inwardly because I know that some of it he can control and other moments the overload is just too much and that is the only way he can react because he is lost inside himself.

We go through this so much, that it is part of our normal. We don’t like to go through it, but some days we get through with showing mercy and grace.  And then there are days like today when a rough day seems to hit all at once and nothing said or done, makes a difference. So I pray, and I seek the Lord. I pray for wisdom and clarity, give me the right words Lord. Help me; help us.

His routine on Tuesday’s is so different from his other days of the week, that right now, Tuesday’s and the weekend days are the hardest. On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, these are his days of joy. He goes to ABA therapy in the afternoon and he loves going and working on new things and learning new ways. But not on Tuesday. On Tuesday he goes to Speech Therapy. He has been going to speech therapy for over 2 1/2 years.  I know there are days he doesn’t want to go. He wants a break. And I will admit, there are days I don’t want to have to go to one more therapy session, but it has helped him so much to develop his language and speak, that we won’t quit or give up or give in.

Three years ago, he didn’t speak. He was nonverbal. He didn’t make eye contact or engage with others. He was in his own little world and very rarely were we let in. Now he wants us to play with him. He loves learning. Putting puzzles together. Counting and reciting his ABC’s. He loves school and although he is developmentally behind his peers, he is catching up. And one day he will get there. I cling to that hope. I cling to the day that his words will be clear and communication will no longer be a problem. The funniest thing is that when he is mad, his words are very concise and clear. It’s only when he gets in a hurry to tell us something, that we struggle with understanding his speech.

We were concerned about how he would react to his new baby sister. Would he hurt her? Would he understand that she is fragile? Would he love her or at least like her? We had nothing to worry about.  He worries when she cries and he tries to soothe her by talking to her or giving her a pacifier. He is so in love with her. And yes, we still have to watch him like a hawk, because there have been times he wants to pick her up from her bassinet and soothe her cries. He loves holding her and rocking her. I know he will always be a great big brother to her and how lucky she is.

As he became sleepy tonight, he made his way to each of us and in a small tearful voice told each one of us he loves us. And as we hugged him, we reassured him we love you too buddy.  Bless his heart. He doesn’t like having bad days either and at least he knows that our love will never change, no matter what his behavior is. He taught me a lot about forgiveness, by saying those three little words.

God’s mercies are new every morning. Ours should be too. We can’t change what happens in the past, whether it’s 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago, but we can change how we respond.

Now, as I sit here and I watch him sleeping, he looks so peaceful. The peace we had hoped would be part of our day, is, just not as we had thought it would be. He’s all boy. He wants to play outdoors, run wild and have fun. He likes picking up sticks and breaking them in half, He tries to help rake the yard and clear all the sticks that have fallen over the winter and early spring storms. Yes, it has made more work for us, but he tries. He hates being indoors, but being outdoors requires preparation. There has to be several of us with him as there are no fences or barriers from him going into the street and he still has no sense of danger.

My challenge to you is this: the next time you are out in your neighborhood or at the store or a local restaurant, don’t be the first to assume that a child is out of control and parents need to take care of that child. They may be doing the best they can with the situation they are given. And remember, God gives us grace daily. Not because we have earned it, but simply because He loves us.

Our charge by the Lord is to love Him and love others. My prayer is that I show the love of Jesus to all I meet and when I fail, grace and mercy will carry me through.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You ~ right now and always. Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

Acceptance Is Needed

Genesis 1:27 New Living Translation (NLT)
27 So God created human beings[a] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

April is Autism Awareness Month, but what I propose is let’s change it to Autism Acceptance month!   Awareness is okay, but acceptance is what is needed.  There are so many autistic individuals that hear ‘there isn’t a cure’ or ‘we don’t know what causes autism’ and for many individuals on the autism spectrum, they don’t want to be cured; they want to be recognized as individuals who have neurological differences and their brains are wired differently, but there isn’t anything wrong with them.  And guess what, they’re right. autism symbol

Tyson is still the same boy we loved before he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has had many challenges and he will, most likely, face challenges as he grows older because of the autism, but having this neurological disorder doesn’t make him less than someone without it, it just means he needs extra help.

When Tyson was diagnosed in July of 2016, he was diagnosed as level 2, meaning he would require substantial support. He has made great strides through intensive home and outpatient therapy, preschool and has added ABA to his list of supports. He no longer needs PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or sign language to communicate as he has found his voice. We are so thankful for and happy for him that he has. Communication is a big component of Autism. Some people are nonverbal indefinitely, other’s use visual supports and sign language or ACC devices to communicate.

sample pecs

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an umbrella term that encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language.

Social cues is another big area where many autistic individuals have a difficult time. Depending on the individual they may learn how to ‘act’ like their peers and try to blend in; for others slang language or sarcasm is totally lost on them and they don’t understand why you can’t say what you mean, instead of ‘beating around the bush.’ Just be straight forward and say it! For Tyson, he is a very social person when he knows the people, but when we are in a waiting room or a store, he tends to hide and shy away from people. Too many people cause him to be afraid or have anxiety. Even places we go all the time, like outpatient speech therapy.

Sensory processing comes into play for a lot of individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Everyone is different. Bright lights, loud noises, the hum of fluorescent lights, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, lots of people talking in a restaurant, too many people in one place –  these are just some of the things people can be overwhelmed by and if they become overstimulated or overloaded, a meltdown may occur.

Our Autism Home

Meltdowns are totally different than temper tantrums. A temper tantrum is a reaction to not getting something you want and a person throwing a fit looking for a reaction or response to it.  A meltdown is a neurological response to overload and they have no control over it happening. A meltdown looks different for every individual.

Stimming is a term that most people don’t understand or understand the reason why many autistic individuals stim. Lots of neurotypical people stim but usually in a more quiet way.  For instance, if you are the type of person that gets nervous in a meeting at work, you may tap your foot or click your pen. But most NT people know when to stop. For autistic individuals, stimming is a way to self-soothe when everything becomes too much to handle. Some people flap their hands, jump up and down, spin around, hum, make noises only known to them and their loved ones, dance and the list goes on. For every individual on the spectrum, there are just as many different ways to stim. The only time I have stopped Tyson from any particular stim is if he will hurt himself. Then redirection is necessary.

The one saying that holds true in the Autism community is “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” There are families with multiple people that have autism and not everyone in the family will deal with the same challenges or respond the same way.  Each case is individual.

The last thing I want to say about this today is please be aware that parents/grandparents/caregivers of children/adults of autism don’t have all the answers, they have the answers that work for their specific human. And sometime’s they don’t even have those. It is very exhausting to fight a system to get services, some due to long waiting lists or fighting with the insurance company to approve it or finding services that will be approved.

There are many different types of therapies that can help people on the spectrum, but not every person needs every therapy available and not every therapy available helps every person. To date, there are no medications for autism. There are many co-morbid conditions that some people with autism have, such as ADHD or anxiety/depression and there are medications for those; as well as many holistic approaches to help people.

The Lord God created all of us.  None of us are exactly alike. All of us are “wired” the way He chose for us to be. Please think about that the next time you meet an individual with who is Autistic.

I know I have only touched on the basics of Autism, but this is only the first of the month.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHave Faith

Many blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOY

1 Thessalonians 5:15-19 New International Version (NIV)
15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Joy comes from the Lord. Joy does not come or happen because of our circumstances and thank the Heavens for that.  If we depended on life’s circumstances to provide Joy in our lives, most times we would be sadly disappointed.

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Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It is not something you can turn on and off at will. It is a gift from the Holy Spirit.  I hear so many people say that they can’t find their joy or have no idea what joy looks like because their lives are so hard or difficult.  Joy has nothing to do with any of that.

It took me many years of prayerful time with the Lord and leaning on more mature Christians who know the Word and could counsel me in Godly ways to understand Joy isn’t something that happens.  It is just a part of who we are. If you are a believer in Jesus and profess to be a Christian and live, walk, eat and breathe a Christ-like existence, you have Joy. Period.  There will be times you can’t seem to grasp it. Times you don’t feel very joyful at all, but it’s there.

If I depended on life to grant me the gift of joy, I would be hard pressed to find it most days.  Happiness comes and goes but the Joy of the Lord is forever.

The past few weeks have been blessings and blessings with challenges or opportunities, I guess if I am being my optimistic, positive self. Our fifth grandchild, our second granddaughter blessed our lives. I call her my little peanut.  She is so tiny and precious. Just weighing a little over 7 pounds. She came into this world, with a good set of lungs and even a little bit of stubbornness. She loves when its time to eat; a little bit of a guzzler, can’t seem to get enough, but refuses to burp, which has been quite a challenge. But she doesn’t cry unless she’s hungry or needs to be changed. She has bright eyes and loves to scoot around on her back when lying in her bassinet. She almost reminds me of a “game-spinner”.  It doesn’t matter what position you lay her on her back, as she gets settled, she usually ends up facing the other way and she is just two weeks old today!

Being able to be in the delivery room, while our daughter gave birth, was so joyous of an occasion. The first time around with her son, Tyson, my other little buddy, that you have read about, I was banished out of her sight. Because I am a crier. I can cry at the drop of a hat. It can be something as simple as a cute commercial on television or something that isn’t even real.  With Tyson, for me, seeing my first-born child giving birth, I was so overcome with emotions, tears were streaming down my face and she couldn’t handle seeing those tears and I was given strict instructions, “Mom, if you are going to cry, you’re going have to back up, I don’t want to see you crying!” So, even though I was in the room to witness his birth, I wasn’t right by her side.

With our tiny Emmalin, I sat and held her hand, bound and determined, that no matter what, I would not let the tears spill out. And I held them at bay.  This time it was watching a miracle.  The miracle of watching our daughter give birth naturally (all the while, observing the epidural not work, pain meds do nothing to alleviate her pain of the harrowing back labor she was experiencing) with pure love, sheer grit, and determination to bring her daughter into view, was one of the most beautiful sights, this grandma’s eyes have ever seen! Praying and thanking Jesus for allowing me to watch and helping me to conceal my tears of joy. And realizing what a strong woman our daughter is. Even though she usually disagrees on being strong, this time she was strong and earned the respect of her parents, her older sisters, and her brother.

Ty & Emma

Big brother holding baby sister/Ty & Emma

As our family is growing, and we are learning new routines, Tyson is doing is best to be a good big brother. There are many challenges that go along with bringing a baby home to a home with a toddler that has had the rule of the territory for four and a half years. And while he proclaims to everyone and anyone, that’s “his baby”, he doesn’t understand why she can’t get on the floor and play with him or why he isn’t allowed to carry her around like a rag doll or why it’s not a good idea to poke her with his fingers in her face.

As we are ever vigilant, hyper-vigilance has become our new norm when he is awake as we have no idea what he may or may not do next. The jealousy of a new baby isn’t as noticeable as I thought it might be, because his mom and my husband and I are making special times for him too and there are many days you will find the baby in her arms, while she is sitting on the couch and him right beside them as close as he can get.  As with everything new for him, it will take some time for him to realize how “babies” actually work. He doesn’t comprehend why she can’t share goldfish crackers with him, but I think it’s great that he wants to share with her, just the same.

I am doing my best to hope and pray that the similarities I notice with Emmalin and Tyson are because they are siblings and not for any other reason, but it has always been on the forefront of my mind if she too will have some or all of the special needs he has and I continually pray that whatever needs she has, God, will continue to equip us to care for them as they need.

As an update for Tyson, he is thriving at his ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy sessions. He loves going and right now he is attending 3 afternoons a week after he gets home from school.  On days when the weather closes the center, he is sad and doesn’t understand why he can’t go. As we continue to add more structure to his day, his aggressive behaviors and sensory meltdowns are not as bad. Instead of 6 hours a day dealing with them, some days it may only be a couple of hours to only 30 minutes. What a lifesaver this has been for all of us; as well as changing to ADHD medications that are working better for him than the ones he was previously taking.  We have also found, that playing with dominoes that his great-grandmother gifted him last year, can usually keep him focused and entertained for a while, without bouts of throwing or screaming.

Galatians 5:22 New Living Translation (NLT)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

May you know how much Jesus Loves you~right now and always! He can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony.  #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings until next time~Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward

Revelation 21:4 
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I look forward to the day when Jesus returns as He promises in His Word. I eagerly anticipate when there will be no more pain, no more tears of sorrow and mourning will be ended once and for all. 

Earlier this week, a dark cloud appeared in our lives and reminded us that life is but a fleeting moment here on earth. That just as there is a time for being born, there is also a time to die. It was with great sadness, my father-in-law drew his last breath. While we know, he is in Heaven with The Father, it does not make it any easier for the family members that are left behind. While we can rejoice in knowing, we will see him again, the ache that hangs onto your heart and the tears that are near the surface of spilling out, that is a sorrow that will take years to get over. 

When I was younger, I always heard that”time heals all wounds”.  I know, now as an adult, that it isn’t the case, exactly. I know that one of the reasons grief is so hard and messy is that when you grieve the loss of someone that you love and care deeply for, there is no time frame for when that grief stops. I lost my own father three years ago and he is always on my mind. I know that when it was time for him to leave our presence and go to the presence of Jesus, he no longer suffered or struggled with his pain and labored breathing, and in that essence, he was in a much better place.  And I also know that no amount of preparing yourself for the inevitability of a loved one’s time is drawing near, cannot prepare your heart for the sorrow it holds when their time has come. 

Each and every person deals and handles grief differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Today, as I surveyed the space within the room where a time of hugs, laughter, and tears were erupting, I realized how short life is. Every person on this earth touches the hearts of others, in many ways.  Some experiences are pure joy, while others are hard lessons to learn and some are sad. I have learned that no matter how much time you have to live your life, living it to the fullest means not leaving this earth with regrets. Or living in the “I wish I had done________” or “What if?”.

Cherish your family, make amends if needed, love deeply. At the end that is all that matters. Loving each other for the time we are given on this earth. Regrets don’t have to be if we choose to live in the abundance of love. Forgive others, hold dear the memories and treasures of the time you have with those that make up your tribe. Be thankful and grateful that you were blessed to be part of their life. Don’t be afraid to speak their name or share a memory or story of why they were so special in your life. 

I have found, in my experience with loss, as you share what you loved about the person you’ve lost, not only does that piece of your heart that feels like it will never be the same again, start to fill with love because you had them in your life, the sorrow does become easier to live with. It’s always there, but in order to continue living your life, some days you have to tuck it away in a special place in your soul and some days you allow it to run freely because you just need to do that. That’s okay.  Every one of us grieves and processes things differently.

Saying goodbye is never easy. Tomorrow we will say our final farewell to a man that meant so much to so many. And I will cherish all the memories that we shared over the past 24 years. I will share those moments with our children and grandchildren so our family history will continue with each generation. 

We love you, dad. We will miss you. We are happy that you are home with mom now and we look forward to when we will see you again. Thanks for being a part of our lives. 

Dad & Mom Wooddell

In loving memory of Donald K. “Woody” Wooddell. First breath taken on 10/26/31 and last breath drawn on 11/12/18.

May you know how much Jesus loves you~right now~in this moment. Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlwaysHave Faith

Blessings until next time~Carlene

Daily Life Struggles

Proverbs 15:15 The Message (MSG)

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

 

With joy in my heart, I still struggle.  Joy comes from the Lord and no one can take that from me. I can choose to live with a joyful heart and know that I will still face many struggles and trials, but still, love and be the person I am because God has placed Joy in my heart or I can choose to live without joy and be miserable always.

Over the weekend, the fibromyalgia flared up and reared its ugly head. The constant pain that never fully leaves, but some days are so rough, that just breathing and moving, make you question if getting out of bed was the right thing to do. And knowing that if you choose to remain in your bed, how many things will face you to take care of once you arise.  Most of us that have fibromyalgia know that sometimes the best we can do for ourselves is to stay in our beds or the comfy places we have carved out in our homes. We do not have the energy to get dressed, shower, or do any extra. Getting up takes every ounce of energy just to be able to spend time with our families, and going anywhere is totally out of the question. That was me on Saturday. I showed up, in my nightgown and I stayed in my nightgown all day. I KNEW I was not going out into the cold for any reason and I saw no point in causing myself more pain to get dressed simply because that was expected of me.

I have dealt with FM for 10 years. And for the past year, it has been manageable. But for the past several months, I have noticed since stopping the natural supplements I was using, my inflammation throughout my body and the pain levels have been increasing again.  I choose to work through my pain in prayer and time with the Lord. Limiting what I do. Staying in more than going out and while dealing with my own health battles, helping our grandson through his.

He has come a long way in the past two years since being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He talks now. He is becoming very independent, but also very demanding. He is four. When he wants something, he wants it now. And even though he asks for something correctly and always says please, he does not understand when he is told no.  He tries again, to word it differently or even smile and say please and sometime’s the answer is still no. I know it must be confusing, because he is being polite, and saying please, but simply does not understand that even if you do everything right, sometime’s the answer will still be no.

So imagine being in such excruciating pain, that you do not want anyone touching you; let alone a four-year-old jumping on you, bouncing into you, climbing on you, but you don’t dare say no because you don’t want to make him feel unloved. He doesn’t understand what it means when I say “that hurts” or “please don’t do that”. And he loves to give big hugs, he loves deep pressure. He loves climbing behind me on the sofa and me leaning back on him, but all I want to do is cry because every amount of playtime for him is pain time for me. But I do it because this brings him comfort and joy. Love is powerful that way.

I left my home on Sunday to go to church. I needed that more than I knew. I didn’t realize how much I missed the interaction with others until I was there. I interact with people daily through social media and texting, but it just isn’t the same as being able to see smiles, receive hugs and just be loved on for simply being you. By the time, my husband and I arrived at the church with our grandson in tow, we were both emotional. My emotions were creeping near the surface, ready to spill out in the form of tears. My husband was frustrated because our grandson is a runner and any chance he gets, he bolts. Even though he had his safety harness on, and my husband was holding onto the strap, he wasn’t ready to go on a run with him.

And Tyson has learned that if we are trying to pick him up from the ground, and we want him to stand, all he has to do is bend his knees when we are lifting him and he becomes heavier to maneuver.  He is big for his age. He’s four, but weighs 50 pounds and is over three and a half feet tall. Carrying him for any length of time is strenuous to us “old” folks. Wrestling him into his car seat so we can go anywhere is an everyday battle. Once in the seat, he does ok, but getting him in the seat is a battle, every single time. And he has to be in a five-point harness because otherwise he would be climbing all over the vehicle and exploring.  Safety and danger are words he does not understand. He always wants to sit in a regular seat with just a seatbelt but we know that won’t happen until he is much older.

Walking into the church lobby, as we were greeted, the tears started welling up, and I just didn’t have the strength to hold them back or hide behind a pasted-on smile and pretend everything was good. I was tired. Tired of my own pains, tired of always struggling with Tyson when we need to leave the house. Tired of always being the positive one. We all have our breaking point. Yesterday was mine.  I know the devil will do anything he can to try and break me. For the past three weeks, I have opted not to leave the house on Sunday. I’ve made excuses, stayed home, watched our church’s live stream of the sermon and remain isolated because that was so much simpler than struggling with him to go anywhere. In doing that, though, I lost out on connecting with other people and being surrounded by people that love us through all our struggles; people that are compassionate and caring and offer to help in any way they can.

Sailing Life

I think for most of us that live with autistic individuals it’s not that we don’t welcome the offers of help or hope that someone will be willing to help, it’s that we don’t know what kind of help to ask for. Our home is “proofed” for him. We have specialized gates, taller than him to keep him safe and confined to an area of the home where there isn’t danger. We have learned not to have “pretty” things that he can break. We know if he is outside, he must always be (1) holding your hand tightly (2) have his safety harness on (3) be secured in his specialty stroller with a vest and five-point harness or (4) be in a fenced-in area where no escape is possible. We know he has food aversions and sensitivities. We must always have his emergency seizure medications at the ready and available. And the list goes on. Going anywhere, we must still take a change of clothes bag and appropriate necessities, because he isn’t potty trained yet. And if someone opts to take him for a few hours, what if he hurts himself, has a seizure, breaks something, gets sick. Yes, he is verbal now. Can he communicate everything he needs to? No.

The one thing I can offer to those willing to ask: please don’t stop asking. For me, it’s hard to ask for help for anything for myself, Tyson or our family. But I am learning to accept it. Accepting prayers from others is easy. I love to pray for others too. Accepting offers of helping with Tyson is getting easier, but I know how challenging his behaviors can be and I know that we never know from one moment to the next what he understands and what he doesn’t, but we do know he is very smart and intelligent in many ways. And letting go and accepting help may not be in my nature, but being part of a community of people that love us regardless of our challenges does truly make all the difference in the world.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~right at this moment and always.

Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings until next time~Carlene