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His Purpose

I sit here today, looking out my window onto the world and I see shadows on the grass from the tree branches highlighted by the sun and I see wild rabbits foraging for food, fighting the squirrels for what they can find. I hear cars buzzing by on the street and here I sit in my little corner of the world, trying to figure out what is my purpose?

When I retired, I thought that God wanted me to write and share His story of love, redemption, and grace. To share the story of following Jesus is the only way to Heaven. So, I wrote a small book, sharing my story of hope and encouragement through my faith walk and a way for me to Honor the Lord. Once I accomplished that, then I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do.

Called to Peace1

So as I prayed about it, I continued to write my blogs, this one and another one I write about Living with Autism (see sidebar) and I knew there was more, I could sense it deep within me, but waiting for the answer wasn’t easy; I never have been very patient.

When our grandson was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I knew that my being able to retire, and be at peace about it, wasn’t so much about me changing my life, but by being available to help this little guy grow and learn and advocate for him every day, which would have been harder to do if I was still working full time. I thank Jesus for this opportunity daily to be a blessing in his life and I pray Jesus will continue to guide me to make the best decisions for him.

I still feel like this is not enough, but I don’t know why I feel this way. Is God calling me to something more or am I wanting more than what I am already doing? I honestly don’t know.

As I sit and glance out my window, I know I miss the interactions with lots of people that I had on a daily basis when I was working. Now, most of my interactions happen online, because I cannot go anywhere and everywhere I would like due to being on a fixed income.  I am not complaining as I have made great friendships online, just as strong as friends I have known all my life and can reach out to at a moment’s notice.

I just want to make sure that every single day that I have breath, that I am honoring the Lord, sharing how he can turn any mess into a message of hope, how he can turn any test I face into a testimony. I want people to see so much of Jesus in my life, that they will want the same thing to and trying to convey how much He has impacted my life, isn’t always easy at a computer screen.

Even in my doubting times, God loves me. Even when I have no idea what my next step is, He loves me. He loves me when I am angry, sad, joyful, bitter, resentful and hopeful. He doesn’t care how long or short my hair is, of whether I am dressed to the nines or wearing the grungiest close I have. He cares more about the condition of my heart, than how I appear outwardly. He knows I make mistakes and falter on a regular basis, but he doesn’t give up on me; he waits for me to come to Him in prayer and seek forgiveness and shows me love that only HE can show.

1 Samuel 16:7New Living Translation (NLT)

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

He can do the same for you! I will be still and wait patiently on the Lord, and until I am sure what he wants me to do, I will trust in Him. I know my work here on earth is not done, and I know He has plans for me. Never lose hope, always trust, always have faith. God is with all of us!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! #HopeAlways#HaveFaith

Blessings to all!

 

Grand “parenting”

When I had my children, I dreamt of my children growing up, getting jobs, college, and moving out to start their own lives. I didn’t dream of raising my children and then having to help raise one of my grandchildren. Sometimes though, for reasons beyond our control, life isn’t fair and tough choices have to be made.

Our son has moved out and is working and living on his own. Our daughter moved out for a month and a half, moved 1300 miles away and came home due to circumstances beyond her control and found out she was going to have a child. That was three years ago.  There were many mixed emotions from all of us, and wading through them and helping her make decisions wasn’t as difficult as some might believe because in my world love always wins.

1 Peter 4:8New International Version (NIV)

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

All of us sin, all of us make poor choices and we can choose to love and be loved or we can not. So, even though our daughter made some very poor choices, we chose love over anger and fear.

We offered to help her figure things out and help her with her son. We had no idea that meant we would basically be raising her son, while she merely existed. We know that our daughter has mental health problems that need much more therapy than she is currently receiving, but we also are aware that as an adult, we cannot force her to be tested for conditions, unless she chooses to do them on her own.

We chose to show grace. To love unconditionally, which isn’t always the easiest choice and to help her in any way we could. In doing this, we have enabled her to take advantage of her situation. We are truly aware of this. But we also believe that she has similar conditions as her son, and believe that she is doing all she is capable of. It is definitely a difficult situation.

We never, in a million years, thought we would virtually be raising our grandson. She takes care of him, but not all day, every day as most parents would. She helps feed and changes him, but she struggles with his hyperactivity and constant need for attention. It breaks my heart. I love her and I love Him.

When our grandson was born, healthy and happy we had no idea the challenges that all of us would face. As he grew, we noticed how he didn’t speak and how he would sit and bang his head back and forth, he has an unimaginable strength for a toddler and many other signs. But he crawled and walked very early, so his weaknesses in other areas were passed off by physicians as no big deal. Some babies that have developmental milestones and reach them earlier than most, just means other areas will be slower.

It took until the age of two for medical professionals to take us seriously and realize that he did have developmental delays that needed to be addressed. At age 26 months, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 2, requiring substantial support and he was considered nonverbal.

The past year there have been many arguments between my husband and I and our daughter. There have also been many times of laughing and crying. We knew that our grandson would need more support and therapies and care than she could offer. And so we have become “grandparents raising grandchildren”. Our daughter still retains custody of her child and they live with us. For many personal and private reasons, we have chosen not to pursue custody at this time. I have been granted Power of Attorney over all of his financial, medical and educational needs, until such time, if at all, that his mother can take over 100%.

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Ours is a unique situation. Many grandparents raising grandchildren are doing it because the biological parents aren’t in the picture anymore or are incarcerated and unavailable or aren’t fit to care for themselves, let alone their children. We know she loves her son as much as he loves her, so we continue to help them both.

Taking care of our grandson is a full-time job. He cannot be left unattended for any reason.  He must be supervised at all times. For the most part, he is a very happy child, but there are times when he can be very angry and destructive. I believe the anger stems from him not being able to communicate and the frustration that comes with that. He doesn’t thrive if toys aren’t scattered everywhere. I don’t thrive very well if the house is in total disarray.

Over the last year, I have done hours of research on how to teach our grandson to communicate through words, sign language and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). He has learned his colors, the alphabet and learning how to listen. As with any three-year-old, whether they are on the spectrum or not, selective hearing is a given. But there are many times that he does not hear me, because sensory overload is in full swing and where we can distinquish the sounds and filter out what we are hearing to focus on one voice or one noise, he cannot. Not always. He loves working with sequencing patterns and this is no surprise because he loves patterns, lining objects up or stacking them .  He likes to help put groceries away, canned goods being his favorite, because he can sort the ones that are the same and stack them up. He doesn’t like when they are taken away from him and put away.

As I sit here and write this blog, what used to take maybe 15 minutes now takes hours, as there are constant interruptions. He wanted juice. He wanted a snack. He wanted me to play with him. He wanted me to hold him. He wanted to watch a video. He wanted to grab things off the fireplace mantle that he is not allowed to have. He wanted to carry the cat that doesn’t like to be carried. He wanted to take paperwork and books off my desk and play “52 pickup”. He has plenty of toys to play with. He likes to look at books, but not have them read, that takes too long. He can only have board books. If they are not board books, I must sit with him, or he will tear the pages out and rip the binding off the book. He wanted me to blow bubbles with my chewing gum and then he wanted my glasses off and music turned on, which means he is tired. He touches my face, plays with my hair, rubs his eyes, yawns and just when I think he is almost out, he pops up and hugs me, jumps down, runs back and forth in the room we are in and lays down to play with his cars. I get worn out just watching him. Last night, he found the Febreeze air freshener spray and made sure the living room was smelling good. By the time I reached him, getting out of my chair was difficult, he had pretty much used up the remaining 1/2 of the can that was left! Could I yell at him about it? Nope It was my fault I left it within his reach. I simply forgot to put it up. It still smells like Hawaiin Breeze in our little corner of the world.

The accordion style, hinged gates keep him from the stairway entrance and other parts of the downstairs where he cannot go unless we are with him. Kitchen. Laundry Area. And although he is mighty, he hasn’t figured out how to open the gates, but he is determined. I used to have a foot rest in the room until he realized that he could push that up next to the gate, so he could climb over and jump into the next room. Now, there is no stool to rest my legs on, but he is safe. It’s a trade-off I am willing to do. All interior and exterior doors have additional hooks and locks on them, so he doesn’t run outside and into the street or take off.

Right now, he is napping on the loveseat, after sitting with me while I rocked him back and forth and we listened to music. He loves music, but there are some songs that he cries, maybe the instruments cause the pain or the level of noise is too great. I draw him closer and hug him tight.

Over a month ago, we took him to get his haircut. It was a life draining experience for all of us. He does NOT like his head being touched for any reason and the scissors and clippers scared him, but he needed a haircut and we knew it needed to be fast. If I mention to anyone the word haircut in the course of a conversation, he will say “me”, “da” “maw” “mom” and “car”. And I will say, “Yes, you, me, papaw and mommy rode in the car and we went and you got your hair cut.” His response is “Yay!”. In his world, yay means “yay” and “yes”. He remembers everything.  He remembers the way to a certain store and if we don’t go the same way as we always do, he cries. He does not like a deviation from his routine at all.

As we continue to go to speech therapy every week and have The Play Project come into our home every week to work with him on engaging with others, pretend play, and communication, I will continue to strive to learn all I can to be his advocate and help him succeed.  My hope is that one day, his mother will want to be involved more.

We have three other grandchildren that we love also and sometime’s I feel as if they are slighted, but we do our very best to be in their lives as well and spend time doing things they like to do. Being a grandparent raising a grandchild is a struggle some days, because you don’t know where being the parent stops and grandparenting starts, but you know that you will do whatever is necessary to make sure that your grandchild with special needs thrives in their life.

Just a little over a year ago, I was working full time in a large retail company interacting with adults every day. Now, most of my interaction is with a few adults and a child that laughs, giggles, screams, cries, pounds his head on the floor and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The hardest part is gaining support. I belong to several online groups of people that understand what I am going through, what we are going through and there we can share our stories, our tears, we can be real, no sugarcoating necessary.

My advice to everyone that knows grandparents that are raising grandchildren, whatever the reason is, offer to give them a break. The reason we have our children, when we are young, is so we can keep up with them and their needs. As we get older, it’s not always as easy. Be that shoulder when they need to vent a little or need a shoulder to lean on. Each situation is unique. Don’t separate yourself from your friends because their circumstances have changed. Ask what you can do to make the load a little lighter. It really will be appreciated more than you know.

May you know that Jesus Loves You! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to you!

 

 

Above All

I value honesty above all. I was taught by my parents, that no matter how hard it is, to be honest, at times, it is still the very best way to live.

I believe that with my whole heart. I have grown up believing that a person’s integrity will carry you far in life and integrity builds character. Anyone can tell a lie, but the person with a clear conscience is always honest, all the time.

I always strive to give my honest opinion when asked, and most of my close friends and family might say that I am brutally honest or very blunt. I do not like hurting people’s feelings and/or making them feel bad. When this happens, I have to stand back and take a look at how I reacted when I was asked a question, because I know that although many people claim to believe honesty is the best course of action, not all people carry through.

There have been many times in my 52 years that I have had to apologize. Feelings were shattered, friends felt betrayed and I felt like the worst friend in the world. I am the same whether I am at home, church, a job, or in public. I am not afraid to give my opinion, whether solicited or not, I stand up for my beliefs.  I can’t imagine how people do it when they act one way at work, a totally different way at home and yet another way when they’re out with friends. That seems like it would be very tiring and very disingenuine.

The one thing I need to learn, is I don’t always have to offer my opinion on the subject. I could do a better job of creating boundaries and explaining that I do not feel like I am the best person to answer on all subjects I am asked. I do feel I have significant knowledge to deal with most things that cross my path, but there are moments, after I have spoken, what I believe to be the truth, that I wish I could take it back. Not because it isn’t a truthful statement, but because of the injury it may cause to another person. Many times, most people, don’t want to hear the truth because truth can hurt, but if we don’t walk and live in Truth through Jesus and live out our lives according to Him, are we really His disciples?

Walking in truth means to be able to walk in love and share the love of the Lord with others through our conversations and remember to season our words with grace. Along with being honest above all, forgiveness must play a role if I overstep my boundaries.

Earlier this week, a friend asked for my opinion and I told her the truth, what I believed to be the truth and I hurt her deeply. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt someone I love so much. I am very extroverted and speak my mind. I have realized that maybe I could have handled that conversation a little bit better than I did, but there is no manual you can seek and it will give you rules of living, except one, The Holy Bible. I do my best to live by the examples of how Jesus lived. And this time, I know I messed up.

I am sorry that I hurt you. I have asked for the Father’s forgiveness in this and now I ask for yours. I love you deeply and can’t imagine my life without you in it. I will not mention names or details, she knows who she is and she reads this blog. If I threw the stone, please forgive me.

 

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John 8:1-11New Living Translation (NLT)
8 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

May you know the Jesus Loves You!#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to you!

Love Is A Choice

My mother’s life started out rocky, but she learned that love is a choice. My grandparents adopted my mother at the age of 10. They chose to love her and I am so thankful they did.

My mom had her own family, 2 sisters, 1 half-sister and 2 half- brothers, and she was the oldest of them all. Their life was hard and very tumultuous and scary. The details are hers to share with those she chooses. It was not the type of life anyone would want a loved one to be in, but it was her life. And she was the luckiest of all her siblings because although she did not grow up with her siblings and her mom and stepfather, she did grow up in a home of love, laughter, and joy.

She grew up in a home with parents that loved and honored the Lord. She learned about Jesus and forgiveness and she learned about being loved. She learned that life is full of choices and every choice has a consequence. She learned that she was free to make mistakes and with mistakes came lessons that would guide her along the way in her life.

She often wondered about her sisters and brothers and what happened to them and even her mother. She was able to connect with her siblings later in life and build lasting relationships. As I said she was the lucky one. My heart breaks for my aunts and uncles and the hardships they endured, and I continue to love them as if they have always been a part of my life. They are family.

Fast forward 10 years to my parents tying the knot with their own dreams of having a home and starting a family. My parents were blessed with four children. Myself, a sister two years later, another sister four years later and just when they thought they were done with diapers, my brother appeared 8 years later. He was definitely a surprise.

The story could stop there.  It could be they had four children and lived happily ever after. Well, they did have a great life. They remained married and in love with one another until my father passed in 2015-51 years with each other.  That fact alone would be enough to inspire you.

My mother is more than a daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandmother or aunt. She taught me what selfless love is all about. My sister, born two years after me has a hearing impairment.  There were no support groups or local organizations to reach out to for a special needs child. She helped to form a local group for parents of deaf children. She took my sister to weekly speech therapy appointments, while still raising 3 other children and running a home, plus being a volunteer fire dispatcher (before 911 existed) and being the chief cook, laundress, bottle washer, and confidante.

As we became older, she shuttled all of us to our various extracurricular activities, made sure we had hot meals and lots of love.  And she instilled in us a kindness and compassion for others that came from her life as a child. To love others is a choice. A family is family and family is first. It doesn’t matter if you have been thick as thieves with your cousins all your life or if you just laid eyes on them as a teenager. The love is the same.

She worked for child service agencies to help protect children from the horrors of the world because she understood that better than anyone what is was like to be hungry, hurting and alone.

She chose to not live as a victim. She chose to live a life of love and she shows that love every day to her friends, family, and total strangers. She embodies the heart of Jesus. She shows grace in all situations. She prays daily and gives her worries and concerns to the Lord. She is my hero because her heart always has room for compassion and kindness like I have never seen.

She has mended many of my broken heart moments, she has given advice that has carried me far in my life and although there have been many times, that I have hurt her heart and been less than stellar as a daughter, she hasn’t loved me any less.

She is the rock in our family.  She is the glue that keeps us all connected when we lose touch with one another. The sad part is she lives thousands of miles from all of us, but she is only a text, video chat or call away. It’s not the same as being with her in person, but it’s the next best thing.

I only pray that someday, I can be half the mother she has been to me and my siblings. I strive daily. She isn’t just my mom, she is my hero.

Mom, I just want to thank you so much for choosing love. Thank you for choosing to love others unconditionally and to always show grace under pressure. Your forgiving heart and spirit have taught me more than I could ever express. I am very honored that God chose you to be my mother. I love you so very much! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

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Our Mom

 

 

 

Coat of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New Living Translation (NLT)

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

How many times have you read this passage in the Holy Bible? How many times have you heard this portion in marriage ceremonies? I have heard it, and read it hundreds of times. It is one part of 1 Corinthians 13 that I really like. It helps me remember how I should be toward others. Do you love like this? Do you love like God does? Continue reading

New Eyes

Ephesians 4:30New International Version (NIV)

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

How many times a day do I grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with my words and actions? Jesus died nailed to a cross for me; for you. He took upon Himself the sins of the world, and He did this because His Love is greater than our earthly eyes can even begin to imagine or grasp.

Every time I argue or disagree with someone, do I stop to think that maybe, just maybe they are in their own battle and instead of being loving and kind toward them, I am only increasing their pain. I don’t ever set out on my journey for the day wondering who I can hurt, but I know I have, and words can pierce through your hearts in ways that aren’t easy to fix.

Just as God is my Heavenly Father and Creator, I as a parent have been grieved by actions of my children. As a parent, I am to protect them, teach them and love them, whilst allowing them to make mistakes, just as I have made, so they too can learn from them.  It really hurts my heart, when I can’t fix them or fix the world for them.

Our daughter faced bullying at a young age, and the reality is because she hasn’t accepted the Lord as her personal Savior, she has no room in her heart for forgiveness. She holds onto the hurt and spews it from her mouth when she feels there is no way out. She puts up walls and those walls become impenetrable to break through. Every disagreement, argument or hurt that she feels comes out in anger toward whoever is in her presence when she explodes. In moments such as these, I want to scoop her up in my arms and hold her tight and protect her from the hatefulness the world has to offer. That is not an option. She is in her 20’s now and has informed me more than once that she is not a baby. Wrongs become grudges that never go away. They have such a stronghold on her that the only thing I can do as her mother is to pray that God will continue to work with me and others in her life to show her the way.

So, the point I am trying to make by sharing this little glimpse of my life, is if she grieves my spirit, how much more do I grieve God’s and how do I fix that? I do pray and ask for forgiveness; I walk with Jesus daily and allow His Holy Spirit to guide my actions. There are many times throughout my day that the Holy Spirit will nudge me to go one way and convict my spirit that I need to do something, even if it’s painful for me to do.

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How many times does Jesus have to tell us that there is nothing we can do to earn His love and salvation?  Once we accept Jesus, we are to love like He does. See the world thru His eyes. Every day He works on me to be a better person. Forgiveness is the key. Showing grace and mercy even when we don’t want to. Being willing to admit that being right all the time isn’t’ worth it, if it hurts the people you love the most.

James 3:5-9New International Version (NIV)

5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

All of us must remember that our words can build up or tear down. Be kind. Think before you speak. Love wholeheartedly. Trust in the Lord and follow his lead!

Blessings to you and yours!#HopeAlways#HaveFaith

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Community=Doing Life

Matthew 18:20New International Version (NIV)

20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

A community is one of the best parts of being the church. You don’t have to be in a building to be in church. The body of believers in Christ Jesus are the church. You can have church anywhere. And if you are like me, you are more aptly to stay in the Word and focus on the Lord and His plans for you when you are held accountable. Accountability is a much-needed tool for the church. When we join together in community (i.e. small groups), we have others that are there to pray with us and for us and to lift one another up and encourage each other. Community works best when you meet with the same group of people of a certain time period or consecutive weeks. I do not think that you can just meet once or twice and be established. There are some small groups, that have been meeting for years and lifelong friendships have been established. Encourage

We have the Holy Spirit living within us. He actually dwells within us. He is our guide and shows us grace when we make poor choices, He convicts our hearts and we know that whatever choice we made, it wasn’t the best one. The Holy Spirit knows we will make mistakes, it’s part of living in the flesh. He doesn’t condemn us because of our sins. He offers gentle correction and gives us influences in our lives that will help to guide us in Godly ways.

The Life Group I am part of meets once a week for a few hours. We share with one another what is happening in our lives and how we have seen God working in them. We study the Bible and glean the meanings of the teachings within the borders of the binding and we help one another with prayers and support. And I can’t imagine doing life without this group. It’s not a requirement to attend and you don’t get demerits if you don’t show up; however, it is the fuel the fills my tank to get me through my week. And if we have struggles before the next meeting we have the opportunity to reach out to one another and be there for one another.

I am very blessed to be part of a community of women that have moved and inspired me in every aspect of my life. God knew what he was doing when he prompted me to attend this Life Group over two years ago. I cannot imagine my life without any of the women I have become so blessed to know, personally.

2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

If you are not part of a small community group; I highly recommend you seek one out or create your own. God did not create us to be alone.

Jesus Loves You! Blessings-Carlene