It is so easy in our lives to become discouraged, but this is one thing the Lord has shared in his Word, we do not have to be discouraged. Even when you get a diagnosis no one wants to hear, even when the messiness of every day life feels like you will be swallowed whole, even when addiction is hard to beat and sobriety seems just out of reach, even then, “do not be discouraged”. I have found several Bible verses that tell us specifically “do not be discouraged” and to trust the Lord, He will be with us always, especially when we may feel lost and alone. We are not. But it’s not always easy to remember that, in the throes of chaos and uncertainty.
Joshua 1:9New International Version Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
There have been many times in recent days, weeks, months that I too have faced discouragement and dismay and the only thing that has carried me through each and every moment has been Jesus and my faith in Him. How do you hold onto the God’s promises and how do they speak to you when you feel all hope is lost? Do you turn to Him in prayer and praise? Do you sink into despair? Do you have a friend you can reach out to? Jesus wants to be your friend. Your best friend. You would be amazed how clearly He speaks when you take time to listen and follow His lead.
It is so easy to think and succumb to the thoughts of the world and non believers. It can be as easy believing something to be true for so long, it actually becomes your belief and those beliefs are skewed by misperception or lies that are not of God, our Savior. Always check what you believe against the Word of God. If it is from Him, it will always line up with scripture.
In today’s age, it is easier than ever to access The Holy Bible, and read what God says about being discouraged. You no longer need a printed version to carry, because with the world wide web there are many reputable Bible sites you can search. I use Bible Gateway and the You Version app most. On my Digging Deeper page, you will find many more resources.
I will admit though, while apps on our phones, tablets and online are a great resource, there is nothing as great, for me, as having the Word of God planted firmly in my heart and on my lap as I read. For years, I wouldn’t think of writing inside book, let alone my Bible, but I have found over the years, I take notes in the margins, or highlight passages I want to stand out to me; I don’t have to worry about losing my notes, because I still have my Bible.
Here are a few more passages that talk about being discouraged. I recommend reading the full chapter surrounding the verse, so you understand the context of the scripture referenced. Knowing the context can help you to understand each verse better.
If you are discouraged, how can I help? May I pray for you?
Deuteronomy 1:21New International Version
21 See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8New International Version
8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Joshua 8:1New International Version
8 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
1 Chronicles 22:13 New International Version
13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
1 Chronicles 28:20 New International Version
20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
2 Chronicles 32:7 New International Version
7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.
That greater power still lives within us today, The Holy Spirit. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, God the Father gives The Holy Spirit to come make his home in our hearts. Jesus truly is with you every minute of the day, and as you learn to hear and listen, Holy Spirit will guide you in life.
Jesus loves you so much! Whether you know Him personally or not, He is always available to you. Jesus can turn any mess in our lives, to a message and He can turn any test, you face, into a testimony!
You never know how much you’re blessed until you feel it slipping from your grasp.
First and foremost, Happy Belated Thanksgiving from my family to yours. I pray you were able to spend it with people you cherish and love.
I was very blessed to have a day with many family members at our Mom’s new place. Our first Thanksgiving with her in 17 years with all the delicious foods made from scratch with love.
Having fun watching a fourth generation child learn old and new traditions and be a part of them! Making memories was the best part of the day!!! We missed our family that couldn’t join in this year.
The following morning, while crazy shoppers were out getting bargains of a lifetime, I slept in. After working 16 years in retail Black Friday will always be a memory. No sale is enough to be out in those crowds. At least that’s how I see it right now. And never say never because you just never know. But not this year, for sure.
It was a good thing I chose to forego the Black Friday sales aa my body had other plans.
Most of you know about the sepsis and the after effects. The “panic attacks” are terrible. No warning. Just come out of nowhere. Shortness of breath, dizziness and racy heart with chest pains. But the breathing technique taught by a physical therapist usually relieves those panic attacks. After two hours of a racing heart, pounding as if it would jump from my chest from just sitting and resting; I finally allowed my mom to call 911.
It turns out I had an episode of atrial fibrillation or AFib.It’s when your heart rhythm is irregular and for me it was beating very fast (188bpm) (normal is 60-100).
I was frightened because I knew that was way too high for my pulse rate and I stressed about riding in the ambulance. The medics were amazing. Mark and Danny, the paramedics from Huber Heights Medic 25 were great!! They kept me calm as they got me to the hospital.
So two nights in the hospital with new medications; my heart is back in sinus rhythm and prayerfully I hope that NEVER happens again. If it does, at least I will know what is happening.
Once again, I was reminded how blessed and loved I am. The feeling of acceptance by others truly fuels my soul. Being part of community with people I love and care about just as much.
God created all of us to be part of something bigger. Community~relationship~living life with others.
Please don’t take life for granted. You get one chance. Take care of you and the people you love. Cherish them. Let them know now. Life is too short to be wasted.
May you know how much Jesus loves you~now and always. He can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony.#HOPEALWAYSHAVEFAITH
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.
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!
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
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Constantly aware. Ever vigilant. Exits secured. Dodging bullets (nerf bullets, toy trucks, sippy cups, shoes, metal toy cars, anything that can be used to target a person or glass screen, window or door). No bunker to run to for safety. No place to retreat to escape the torment. Physically or emotionally. The only place to retreat is Jesus, crying out for shelter and rest as tears tumble down your cheeks. Mentally trying to figure out your next battle plan, strategy to calm the attacks. Weeping because you are exhausted of this every single day. Thankful that 28 days ago, there was a truce of sorts. No battles, no lashing out, no rage at all. A day of peace with quiet, but sad because that was a day he wasn’t feeling good and just wanted to be held and cuddled. Wouldn’t let you let go, because he feels most secure when he’s close and held tight.
Sounds and noises we cannot hear, whether we have tuned them out because we have the ability to filter out noise or because we aren’t gifted to hear such quiet noises he can hear. The moment the gas furnace comes on before we can hear it before we can feel the hot air coming through the floor vents, he rushes over and is fearful, asking “what’s that noise?” but I hear nothing out of the norm. A few seconds later, I hear it chug to life and feel the heat. I assure him it’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just the furnace (in the basement far from where he hears it).
Investigator of all. The coffee pot full of HOT coffee. The toolbox with sharp tools, that can’t be locked. The dryer that is big enough to climb inside. The vacuum that might need a new belt or part. The stovetop where he can cook his play food. The step stool he tries to stand on to reach something that has been put up high, out of his reach. The tablet or smartphone that he probably knows how to operate better than us. There is never a time we can let him out of our line of vision. Because no matter how many times we say, STOP or DANGER he will still reach for them or climb on it.
Constantly moving, sits for YouTube videos and when he is in his car seat with a locked chest clip and buckle guard, so he can’t escape while the vehicle is moving or in his specialty stroller with a built-in torso vest and extra fasteners. Activities that once held his attention painting, playdough, putting puzzles together, coloring, matching sequences, matching objects in a memory game, no longer appeal to him.
Body slams into people and walls, gates and furniture. Climbing and jumping off of anything he can. Sliding down the stairs on his stomach face or feet first. The faster and harder the surface the better. Hitting and punching, pulling your hair, grabbing your eyeglasses off your face, biting, throwing his body on the floor, banging his head. All the while, trying to stop him from doing things to hurt himself or you. Holding him tight, hugging him, playing music, counting out loud, letting him swing, offering his trampoline, suggesting he spins himself around or jumps up and down. Let’s make a tent so you can hide in the darkness.
Houdini wanna-be. Made it past adult the other day, out the back door wearing a pull-up only. No clothing/coat or shoes. Hates clothing. It was 34 degrees. He didn’t get far this time, I was in the driveway. Doors are secured with locks at the top, every single door in the home, but where there’s a will, he always seems to find a way.
Sleep is either totally out or restless. There is no in between. If he goes to sleep too early in the evening (9pm), he’s full-on awake by 1 a.m. If he waits to go to sleep later in the evening, he’s too tired to function in the morning hours. Night terrors since birth. Some doctors say he will outgrow them. Cannot sleep alone due to health conditions. He co-sleeps with his mommy or me, so at least every other night, we can get some rest. Sleep only comes with the help of prescribed medication, otherwise sleep is like that of a newborn baby, constantly up and down all night.
Psalm 139:13-14 New Living Translation (NLT) 13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Many prayers prayed throughout the day. Not to make him better, but to help him. Help him figure out why he acts the way he does, how to control his moods and impulses. Show us how to love him through it all in a calm manner. Help us figure out what sets off the explosions, the sensory overloads, the meltdowns, the anger. Help us know when he is in pain, help us to soothe the noise. Help us to respond and not react. Reactions are normally based on emotions and emotions ride very high when you feel like from the minute you wake up until you lay your head down for the night you live in a battle zone. Responding in love and compassion and words that lift up are always much better, even if it takes him a while to process it.
His brain is wired differently than ours. He sees the world differently. That’s okay. We need to learn how to teach in a way that he learns. In a way that he hears. Our expectations can’t be set so high that we set him up to fail before we even start. And we also can’t see our parenting skills as a failure. We know we are doing the best we can. He has one parent and two grandparents that care for him daily. That battle with him daily. That on occasion, we laugh and giggle with him daily.
We miss our happy-go-lucky boy. We miss the one that used to love to build block towers, play with toy cars on his toy race track, blow bubbles. We miss sitting and watching Paw Patrol and Blaze and the Stuart Little Movies over and over and over again.
We miss the child that used to love all types of food, raw vegetables, cooked ones, all types of meats, dairy products, foods that fueled our bodies. Now his main staples are chicken nuggets, chips, cookies, and juice. Occasionally a yogurt sneaks in. And cold cereal. We miss the child that used to drink his liquids the right way and now we must watch him drink and make him swallow it or he will spit it out on himself, you or the floor, table, wherever he can.
We miss the child that didn’t seem angry and upset all the time. We know he is still in there because we see glimpses of him.
We miss the days when he didn’t have to take medication unless he had a fever or an infection of some sort. Now he takes medications to prevent seizures from happening on a regular basis. Medication to help him fall asleep and stay asleep. Medication to help him focus and not be so aggressive. And I often wonder with all the medication he is taking, the constipation it causes him to have isn’t a source of the battles. We will find out more at the end of February when he goes to see a GI specialist.
When we are in public, we pray he will have a good time. No throwing himself on the floor. No knocking merchandise off the shelves. No meltdowns. But when he sees his developmental doctor, although we don’t want him to have problems, it would be nice if just once they could visualize the outbursts of aggression so they could understand it’s not just him having a bad day. All of us have bad days from time to time. Days we want to stay in bed, pull the covers over our heads and skip participating in life that day.
BUT, even with all of this, we are very grateful for how far he has come. Two 1/2 years ago there were no words. No way for him to communicate with us at all. And during this time he has had to endure extensive speech therapy every week. In-home therapies.
Soon, he will be starting ABA services. In hopes that they can reach him and help him and help us to live a little bit more of a peaceful existence.
We will continue to fight the battles and strategize the best way to live our lives with this amazing little boy. He is truly a blessing in our lives. We would never want to imagine him not with us, no matter how hard it can be.
Having a child with special needs requires a lot of perseverance and a whole lot of patience and never-ending unconditional love. And a grandma like me, that isn’t afraid to pray over him daily that Jesus will help him to understand the world around him and that the world will understand and love him just as much as we do.
In four days, his back to school will resume. The winter break has been brutal. His routines thrown out the window. And it will take him a couple of weeks to get back into that routine. Most families cherish winter and spring breaks, a time to refresh and rejuvenate and all I have been praying for is when the day comes to put him back on the bus and sit down with my feet up for a couple of hours and just rest in the peace and quiet.
So, the next time you hear someone say that being a special needs parent is much the same as being a combat soldier, their not downplaying the role of a soldier in combat, but relating the stress levels are just as high. If you know of a family that has special needs individuals, ask if you can help. If you are a special needs family, don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.
Love one another, through the good, the bad and the ugly. Show grace when you feel like you’ve failed. You are doing the best you can. Seek the Lord and His guidance. PUSH-pray until something happens.
Mark 9:22-24 New Living Translation (NLT) 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into the water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Tomorrow is a new day. A clean slate. I cling to Hope.
Jesus loves you more than you will ever know! Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlways#HaveFaith
Philippians 4:11 New Living Translation (NLT) 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
I used to walk relatively quickly when the need was there. Now my only hope is that I don’t trip or fall while walking. There is no quickness in my steps anymore. I miss that. I miss being able to take walks without being in pain and needing to sit down every 10 minutes or lean on a shopping cart if “my helper” is not with me. I totally dislike the fact that I require “my helper” more times than not. “My helper” is my rollator walker, with a built-in seat and storage basket. It weighs about 20-30 pounds and because it is made for a large person like myself, although it does fold, it still takes up precious cargo space and strength to haul it in and out of a vehicle.
I rarely go to the store alone anymore, not because I wouldn’t enjoy a break without family members going everywhere with me, but because if I have to purchase more than one or two things, I do require assistance. If there are no electric carts available, then I need “my helper” to maneuver through the store and be able to take multiple breaks to relieve the pain and pressure felt throughout my body, mainly in my lumbar (lower) spine area. Leaning on a shopping cart is the last resort, as it does not dimish the pain, but at least I have something to hold onto.
My husband has multiple names for “my helper”. And I truly do understand his frustration. When we travel anywhere, far or near, I need it. There are times I fool myself thinking I will be ok with just my cane, but if I were, to be honest, my cane doesn’t provide the same type of support the walker does. And can cause more pain because of instability; my muscles tense up which then lead to spasms, which are far more painful than if I had just chosen to use it.
Going shopping is always a planned event. Where are we going? Will “my helper” fit through the aisles. Yesterday we shopped at a local store, and I didn’t think we would make it through the store. It was busy. It’s that time of year, the aisle ways are only made for one person with a cart to go through, wall to wall people, stacks of merchandise everywhere, but we made it. Almost everywhere I go, that I will need assistance in maintaining my mobility requires planning.
My Helper on Hard Days
There were many sporting events and band events that our grandson participated in this year, that made it impossible for me to attend. That is when my heart breaks. I want to be a grandmother that can support and cheer on my grandchildren and encourage them in all they do and some things I just can’t because of the disabling conditions I live with.
I’m thankful I had the foresight to purchase this before I retired due to my disability. It’s large and bulky and irritating that I must rely on it, but I am not ready to stop living and be relegated to my home for the rest of my life.
Even with this tool, I still move slowly. In my mind, I am walking at an amazingly fast pace and then I look over at family members I am with and realize I am still slower than most people because I have been left in the dust. I am always playing catch-up. But I am still moving. Ever so slowly.
The Lord has placed people in my life that remind me that I am very blessed. And while I need to work on being content with using a walker on a daily basis, I know that He will help me overcome the fear of what other’s think when I use it.
So are there areas in your life where contentment isn’t what you thought it would look like? Or areas you hope will be better one day. Remember that while life may not turn out like we envisioned or dreamed, we are still living and breathing.
Jesus Loves You~right where you are~at this moment.
Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 8:12 NLT
All of us have dark times in our lives, times that seem hopeless and we feel that no matter what else happens, we will stay stuck in that dark place. It’s easy to let feelings like that wear on you. I have had those feelings lately.
And in the midst of those feelings of despair and depression that takes hold and doesn’t want to let go, Jesus is there. He is my Hope. He is the reason I don’t give up and I don’t quit.
There have been many days that I would rather, pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep than have to get up and face the day and all it holds and that is exactly what the devil wants. He wants me and you to believe that nothing will ever be better and the feelings of hopelessness will consume us and everything in our lives. That is why it is so important to stay in The Word; to spend time with the Creator of the Universe.
Jesus came to earth as a baby, born to man, to save us and give us everlasting life. This life we live here on earth is temporary. This is not our permanent home. I know sometime’s I forget that. He endured hardships, trials, struggles and yet even though he never sinned, not once, He died on a cross, bore the sins of the world so that once and for all, sin would be no more. He shed His blood for me. For you. He did this so you and I could have life and that through Him we would live forever with Him in eternity.
There have been many times lately, that I have hoped for that eternal life. No more pain, no more tears, no more frustrating times. He has a plan for our lives. And in the midst of those plans, heartbreak happens. But if we put our faith in Jesus, He will see you through it all.
For the past several weeks, in our home, we have battled with our grandson. He requires a lot of patience and understanding. Living with a child that is autistic, you never know from one moment to the next what will happen. The demands of a special needs parent/caregiver are great. And until you go through it, and take that walk, you can never fully comprehend all it encompasses. It’s not an easy road. Teaching him requires thinking outside of the box. His learning styles are vastly different from other children his age. He processes information more slowly than most. And just when you think you have him all figured out, when you know what upsets him or throws him into a sensory overload, you are right back to where you don’t know as much as you thought.
We love him immensely, but there have been many times, I have asked God, “Why?” Why is he one of the many that have to have these struggles? Why couldn’t he be normal? Why do we have to keep the same routines, no spontaneity allowed in our life, because this will set him off? Why must he have sleepless nights, with night terrors? Why do bright lights and loud noises hurt him so much? And while there have been no concrete answers, I was reminded of the story of the man born blind who was healed by Jesus and saw for the first time (see John 9 for the details).
I know that God has a plan for Tyson and his life. I may not understand the plan, I may have a hard time coping with what he goes through each day, but I have a God that is bigger than any problem that comes our way. Through Tyson, I see the world through different eyes. Even through the tears, I am reminded that Jesus is with us. And with him. And how much he lights up when I talk to him about Jesus. While I may never fully know how much Tyson understand or comprehends, I know he knows Jesus. Worship music soothes him. Going to church and learning about Jesus makes him smile.
Tyson reminded me, late Sunday afternoon, how much he loves being with others that love Jesus too. My husband and I woke up early Sunday morning, and quietly prepared to leave the house to attend church. Usually, we wake Tyson and take him with us, but I was being selfish and I wanted a break. A break from chasing him and fighting with him to get in his carseat and stay buckled in. A break from his mood swings and impulsivity; so we quietly got ready to leave, leaving him to sleep with his mother and left without him. Later in the day, as he sat on my lap, telling me over and over, “I love you mamaw,” he looked at me with a sad little face and said, “you go church?” When I replied, “yes, papaw and I went to church,” as his tiny little lip quivered, he exclaimed, “I go church!”And I had to tell him no, not this week. He cried. And I realized then, that my selfishness caused him pain. The last thing I ever want to do. And I also realized that this tiny 4-year-old has a love for the Lord and even though it may be a struggle getting there, I won’t withhold that from him anymore.
During the sermon Sunday, the pastor reminded me that all of us must have the sincere faith and love that a child has for Jesus. A child isn’t afraid to ask and make requests, no matter how outlandish they may seem as we grow older. Children aren’t cynical like most of us, mainly because they haven’t had the life experiences we have had and take Jesus at His Word. Isn’t that how we should all be? Jesus came so that we could have life, and have it abundantly! He died on a cross so we could have eternal life! We should have nothing to fear because we have Jesus!
Worry can consume us, which becomes fear of what may happen, but Jesus tells us that He will always be with us, He will never leave us; never forget about us. What a promise to take hold of and help us as we go through our days! He is the living water, and we will thirst no more!
John 7:38 New Living Translation (NLT) 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
I am forever grateful that I have a Savior that loves me unconditionally and is always available to me, no matter the time of day. He is available to you too!
Luke 11:8-9 New Living Translation (NLT) 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.[a]
9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
Trust in the Father. Have faith. Hope Always.
May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right where you are-in this moment!
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.
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
Psalm 28:7 New International Version (NIV) 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
I am so thankful Jesus is with me daily. His Holy Spirit resides within me. He keeps me focused when the pain is too much. When the bed seems like the best place to spend my days, he reminds me that whilst I can spend an unlimited amount of time with Him lying in my bed, it’s more difficult to share His love for others from that position.
A little over a year ago, I was in a different place, physically. I was feeling pretty good, my fibromyalgia was held at bay with amazing supplements I was using to heal my body from the inside out. I truly had forgotten, although I can’t imagine how I could ever forget, the all-encompassing pain that runs through your body when you live with Fibromyalgia. I was walking and moving a lot faster than a snail’s crawl which is how I feel now. It was my hope back then when the pain wasn’t as noticeable, fatigue was held at bay and I felt like a normal person, that I would never endure this painful condition again. I wasn’t afraid to go places and try new things for fear of a flare-up and intense pain that might last for days and weeks.
I’ve thought long and hard about posting any of this because I truly believed I didn’t have to deal with it anymore. It was a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I know in my mind, as well as my body, that if I am not consistent in using the supplements, eventually my body would go back to what it was and the supplements alone were not enough for the change to take place. I was eating healthier and getting some exercise. As much as I knew this was inevitable, I had hoped and prayed the muscle aches, the pain, the fatigue/insomnia would not come back. Instead of having the sheer exhausted feeling of fatigue, now I am plagued with insomnia. It’s crazy!
But, I push through. I will not quit or give up. That’s not me. I’m not wired that way. Thank you, Lord, that I am not. Thank you Lord Jesus for giving me the strength and determination I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how difficult or slow I may be. And watching people much older than me zoom by me in the grocery store or in a parking lot, makes me realize how slow I am moving. However, I AM moving. So very thankful that is the case and I am not in need of a wheelchair.
And because I guess my hand/wrist felt left out of the pain equation, the carpal tunnel is back with a vengeance. I’m back to using a night splint and sometime’s using the night splint during the daytime so I can function again. I never did learn how to use my non-dominant hand to write with. I wonder if that is even possible at my age? OR if I am too set in my ways to take the time to learn?
My internal temperature gauge is stuck in cold mode. I am rarely warm, no matter how many layers of clothing I wear. This totally sucks. I tried to think of a better way to say it that didn’t sound rude or unbecoming, but it sucks. Plain and simple. That’s why I always try to get my hubby to drive everywhere; his vehicle has heated seats.
I guess the hardest part of living with Fibromyalgia is you never know from one day to the next how you are going to feel. Knock wood, the osteoarthritis in my knees and hips are manageable at this time. The degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine is worse. And the spill I had a few weeks ago, trying not to fall mind you, hasn’t helped.
Because of respiratory problems I live with, I cannot take pain medications to help with my pain. This causes problems with my breathing. Slows it down too much. So I rely on Jesus to carry me through the pain. I spend a lot of time sitting, with my legs propped up as much as possible and I long for the times when I was able to be an active participant in the lives of my family and grandchildren. I have four amazing grandchildren, one lives with us and I am blessed to see him grow and bloom before my eyes. The other three are several years older, involved in extracurricular activities and I haven’t been able to attend any of their outdoor events this year. It makes me very sad. I love them so much and as much as I know they try to understand, I feel as if I am cheating them somehow and I HATE this part of this disorder/disease.
The other three have known for years that I can’t run and play with them the way their grandfather does. But I have always been able to go before. Now the cool weather is just too much for my body to handle. But I am so very proud of them for everything they do and someday when they are much older, I hope they will know without a doubt that if I could I would have been to every single thing they were involved in.
I push myself many days to get up and get dressed. Put on my “happy” face and “fake” it. I know living with me when I am in pain, is not a walk in the park. I become irritable and grumpy and short with others. I do my best not to let this side of me come out from behind closed doors, but it is so difficult because some days just getting dressed wears me out. The thought of running to the store to grab a few things is exhausting just thinking about it. It’s great if the store you go to has electric carts for customer use, that actually work and will last for the entire time you are in the store, but many are used so much they never have a chance to fully charge and the only thing worse than not having them available is using them to shop and the battery dying in the middle of your shopping trip and then it’s like being stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere. Now you have a full basket of goods, but no cart in sight to transfer them to.
The single most agonizing part of the widespread pain returning is the muscle spasms that come, out of nowhere. I turned my head earlier to look at something, not quickly, but as I turned my head, a sharp muscle pain and I just had to wait for it to pass. And I get these spasms throughout the day, everywhere. Many you cannot just walk out. Most of the time you just have to wait until your muscles relax. It may be myofascial pain. I’ve been reading about it. This is something I will have to ask my physician the next time I see her.
I have many friends that live with Fibromyalgia and as much as we can be there to support one another, all of us live with it and have varying symptoms to varying degrees. Many of my fibro friends, can’t stand the hot weather or warm temperatures, drains them and all their energy. For me, I am completely the opposite. I love the heat. The hotter the better. Cold weather sucks the life right out of me. There isn’t a coat or blanket warm enough to keep me comfortable. And of course, I live in a state that is known for unpredictable weather. One day it’s 80, the next it’s 40. It’s no wonder I feel so cold, right?
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
I am thankful that I have Fibromyalgia because then I know how to extend comfort to those who deal with it too. I know that God allows us to go through many things in life as a way to be a testimony to others that put their hope in Him. I can still be a light to others by encouraging them, no matter the type of physical pain they experience because our earthly bodies are temporary. This is not our home. We are citizens of Heaven. But I also know that He does not expect us to suffer alone in silence. We are all made for relationship. Relationship with friends and family. All of us have a need to be part of a community, that is loving and supportive. And while all of us can be less than loving and supportive at times in our lives, that is where grace comes in. God gives us grace because He loves us, not because of anything we can do to deserve it. We all fall short in that area. All of us.
Be kind to others. Love them. No one, except for Jesus, knows the internal struggles and battles each and every one of us faces daily. And for each of us, no matter the battles, they can be debilitating if we forget to lean on The One who gives us life. The most important relationship you will ever have in this life is the one you have with Jesus. In my opinion.
Psalm 100:5 New International Version (NIV) 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~here in this moment and always! Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith