Reflections in My Mind

Psalm 119:169-170 New Living Translation (NLT)
169 O Lord, listen to my cry;
give me the discerning mind you promised.
170 Listen to my prayer;
rescue me as you promised.

I miss working daily.  I don’t miss rising super early while it’s still dark outside, with little traffic to speak of, but I do miss the daily conversations with co-workers and vendors/customers.  I don’t miss working on holidays or funky schedules because of the type of job it was, but being an extrovert and conversationalist, it’s difficult day in and day out to not talk to people, other than your family members you live with. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family.

I don’t miss being in such severe pain that I would cry every day as I limped to my vehicle for the 10-minute ride home.  I often wished my drive home was longer because this was the only time I had to myself throughout my day. Being a people person; never meet a stranger type gal, I still need quiet time for me.  And since retiring with a disability, the only time I get for myself is when I sleep. (I did have one day over the weekend where my husband took the two children for the day to visit other family members and it was very appreciated!)

There is always someone with me. I am very thankful to have my husband with me, as we continue to grow older and blessed that I get to spend all day with two of our grandchildren and our daughter, but there are moments when you just need your own space. And if you are a parent, then you know even going to the bathroom usually means there will be someone following you in to talk with you or “hang” out.  I never fully understood until I had children of my own, what parents meant when they said they couldn’t even hide out in the bathroom. Our children are grown, but inquisitive toddlers don’t understand their presence is not needed every time.

I used to read three to four books at a time, and now I am lucky to get through one chapter of a book in an entire day!  I miss reading like that.  Just immersing myself in a story, envisioning the characters and the scenes, gripping the book in my hands with a feeling of ‘I know I should go to bed but I can’t put it down just yet’ or ‘I’ve got to see how this ends’ mentality. Now I just pray to make it through one chapter and hope that by the time I can pick the book up again, I won’t forget what I read and have to start it over.  It’s so frustrating how my brain has changed since I retired due to my fibromyalgia and other health conditions.

I look back at where I was in 2016, leaving a job of 16 years, with no plans except trusting God for everything, to where I am now and a whole lot has happened in the short amount of time, but Jesus has carried me through every single situation. He has been my strength, my provider in more ways than one, and continues to be available for me every single second of every day.

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Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

*I was approved for my Social Security Disability within a few months of applying, for the first time on my own. No denial or a need to get an attorney to help me fight, which is all I heard from people when I said I was going to apply.

*Available to help our daughter with her son, after he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder as he needed substantial support and constant supervision. Read everything I could get my hands on to learn about ASD and did my own type of “homeschool” to help him(this would not have been possible if I had been working full time).

*I wrote and self-published a book about the Jesus and His mercy and grace.

*Met others that live with the same type of health conditions I have so we can offer one another support and encouragement.

*My faith increased as I saw God’s hand in my life and the lives of those I love.

*Drew closer to the Lord through trials and tribulations of going from having an income to no income to a fixed income and thankful for pantries and organizations that help when you need it.

I’ve been blessed to witness so much in our grandson Tyson since his diagnosis in 2016. He was nonverbal. Now he is speaking. He made no eye contact or engaged with others, now he is doing better. He lived in his own world, and now he lets us in.  Every victory, big or small, is celebrated. And when I look back at to where he was at 26 months to now, I am so thankful God has placed the right therapists, doctors and medical support staff in our path.

I’ve sat with my husband at doctor appointments for myself and him, as we navigate the many health issues we have and I am thankful I was able to do that for him and not wonder what is going on, as his memory isn’t what it used to be.

I have seen our older grandchildren blossom into thinkers and doers. Always being kind and helpful to others. Moments that I would have missed had I not retired. But early retirement comes with a price. When it’s not planned and you have no life savings or retirement funds to look forward to, there is always the concern that what will happen if there is an emergency or a crisis.  Even in those moments, the Lord has seen us through.

I miss having a steady income stream. Or should I say I miss my hourly rate of pay? If I were to figure out my monthly disability income as an hourly wage, I would be making a lot less than the federal minimum wage.  And that 2% cost of living increase the federal government was so kind as to give people that receive social security doesn’t even begin to cover anything. But an increase is better than a decrease I guess. Receiving benefits once a month versus weekly or bi-weekly truly teaches the value of money and what you spend your money on.  Going to the movies, out to eat, bowling, museums, etc. that is a rarity. Trying to explain to children why they can’t have a $3 happy meal is difficult some days, but it is not the end of the world. Life goes on.

The one thing I despise is having a chronic condition and going to urgent care or emergency room because the pain you have is something out of the normal for you and if they know you have an autoimmune disorder, many tests/scans that might be done for a person without a chronic invisible illness, presenting with the same complaints and symptoms, isn’t even considered or done because of the chronic condition you have.  Why does the public or medical personnel think that every person with chronic pain related condition is seeking out drugs or medications for pain relief??? Sometime’s all you want is an answer to why you are feeling so poorly and wanting help.  You know it’s not the same kind of pain you live with day in and day out, but once they hear the F word (fibromyalgia) it’s chalked up to that and nothing is done. I know why, so you don’t need to tell me, it really was a rhetorical question.  Because there are many people that have cried wolf one too many times and makes it bad for the rest of us that truly do need help.  I don’t take any kind of pain medication that I can’t purchase over the counter from the pharmacy.  I can’t due to another health condition.

Prayer and focusing on Jesus and His Word carries me every day. I could complain all day long, but it won’t help me feel better.  It will actually suck the life out of me. Focusing on how blessed I am and how thankful and grateful I am makes me feel better, even on pain filled fatigued days.

Yesterday was a pain filled day. It didn’t start out that way, but as the day progressed, the severe muscle spasms that come when they feel like it and leave the same way, almost debilitated me yesterday.  As I was trying to reach something just out of my reach, they started in my abdomen, worked their way under my ribs on both sides and into my back and shoulders.  When these hit, there isn’t one thing that makes them better.  Lots of little things I try: stand up, bend over and hang in that position for a while, press firmly on my sides, try massage, ice packs, heating pads, a lot of breathing in and out slowly much like a woman having contractions in labor. I wish I could just walk them out similar to leg and foot cramps, but I am at the mercy of my body. And as they relaxed to a dull ache, and not a stabbing pain, I was finally able to lay down and rest. I hate when I have days like that. I’ve been dealing with these stupid spasms for over ten years. No one knows why they happen, or how to prevent them. I’m not low on magnesium or potassium, it’s not my heart, it’s just one minor inconvenience of having fibromyalgia.

I do take a supplement that helps with overall pain, but it’s not a cure-all for all my pain.  How I wish it was. But I am very thankful to have it as a tool that I use daily.

I am in the process of listening to the Lord and seeking guidance on writing another book. Not sure when it will happen, if it will happen but I feel a tugging on my heart to do it. I know God gives us the desires of our hearts and the gumption to achieve them.  I am still waiting to discern the topic for the book. My thoughts are jumbled and my spirit believes it has to do with His might and our worth in Him, but forming the words into sentences that make sense and will help others know Him more intimately, are still randomly bouncing around in my mind.

Our homelife recently changed, as our granddaughter Emmalin made her presence known. We are adjusting to having a baby in the house again and loving the fact we can see her daily, but how easy we forget the demands of a new babe and they have no sleep routine yet. They are more powerful than they realize. It’s all good.

As for reading, I am currently reading a book called The Autism Answer by Dr. Frank Lawlis. I will let you know what I think if I finish it.The Autism Answer by Dr Frank Lawlis

It’s only 122 pages long and years ago, I could have read that in a few hours. I have had it since last Friday and only have made it to page 11! So, maybe if the stars align, and Tyson is having a good day, and health problems don’t arise, maybe I will finish it before summer time.

I know this post has been all over the place, but that’s where my mind is today. My husband is having some health issues without any kind of answers and I will not say I am worried because worry gets you nowhere.  I am concerned that no answers of any kind seem to be attainable right now, but I will continue to press into the Lord and seek his guidance and wisdom.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Start

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

As 2018 draws to a close, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me and being part of my life.

May 2019 bring you peace and joy.  At the stroke of midnight, you will have 365 days to write your story.  Every choice we make determines the destination we land at.

Love others, forgive often, admit mistakes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Show yourself grace in difficult moments.

Jesus Loves You~always.  Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

Raging Storm

lightning and gray clouds
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

I love our grandson Tyson. I will do anything for him. Today, I did a whole lot more praying over him and crying out to my Lord, Jesus Christ seeking guidance and peace.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 NLT

I am worn out. We all are. One minute the day is going well and the next we are trying to figure out what sets him off into a crying, screaming, angry little guy. These meltdowns use to be sporadic, now they’re daily, off and on all day until he falls off into dreamland. Whatever is triggering these meltdowns is also affecting his speech therapy at school and in the outpatient setting. Maybe he’s tired of going all the time and just needs a break; we really have no idea.

The few times I’ve seen him focus on anything here at home lasts only for 5-10 minutes. He has combined type ADHD. Not only is he very hyperactive, he also struggles with focusing on tasks and is very impulsive. His Developmental Pediatrician says it could be attributed to being autistic while also dealing with adhd and seeking sensory input or wanting to avoid sensory overload. While we are trying medication to help in those areas, we are also waiting to start ABA services.

I wonder when these raging times happen if he’s in pain we don’t know about or he believes we know why and wonders why we aren’t helping him.

We have had one day this month where we saw a glimpse of our happy loving child. In our eyes nothing was different than any other day, but for him it was. He laughed and played and not one angry outburst or meltdown. I actually marked that on my calendar; as a reminder he did have a good day. Something to hold onto. Hope if you will.

My heart breaks for him. To live a life where he can’t express the noise within except by lashing out. He kicks, body slams into walls and doors, hits, bites, pulls our hair, throws toys, cups, plates full of food. I fear he is regressing in some way and I don’t know how to stop it.

Being 4, he is very inquisitive and like most children, special needs or not, he still investigates tools and their uses, tries to help fix things he thinks needs fixing or breaking something so he can fix it. And in his mind if something breaks, we can just go to the store and buy another.

Up until this behavior became an everyday thing, I would hear from other parents of the struggles they were going through and thank God we weren’t. Now I understand the sheer exhaustion of it all.

His baby sister will be arriving in a couple of months and as much as I don’t like to worry, because it only causes more unnecessary stress, I wonder what our life will be like then.

I know God is in control. I know He has great plans for Tyson. My prayer is that we will figure out how to help him in regulating his moods so we can live in our home without tears daily. For all of us.

As I sit here and gaze upon this sleeping child, there is a sense of peace that I haven’t seen across his face for a very long time.

I don’t know what our future holds, but I know The One who holds our future.

Father God, Help us help him. Help us be the light in the darkness of these storms. Strengthen us and pour out your peace upon us all. In Jesus Mighty name. Amen

May you know how much Jesus Loves You…right here…right now.

Jesus can turn any mess in our lives into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Slow in a Fast-Paced World

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.

Rollator Walker
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

Until next time~blessings to you~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