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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!

 

 

Beyond Blessed

Today God reminded me how very blessed I am. My good friend, Julia popped by to brighten my life, not just my day, but so much more.

Since I became disabled and unable to get on my knees or squat down, I have not been able to plant my flowers.  My husband and I used to plan our flower beds and containers, go to the local home improvement store and purchase potting soil, plants, flowers, etc. and each year create beauty outside of our home. Then after the weeding and planting and mulching, we could sit on our front porch and enjoy the beauty of our hard work. Those times brought such joy to my life.

Three years ago, when I did my final plantings, I laid flat on my stomach in the yard on a cardboard box and planted the seeds and starts of blooms. It took a long time, but I was so determined to do it. I knew that would be the last time I would be able to do it. Joint and bone wear had taken its toll.

Now, Julia amazes me because she is always creating beauty in her own flower beds with a mixture of plants, herbs, flowers, grasses, etc. When the weather is nice enough to be out digging in the dirt, that’s where you will find her. She has seed starter plants and starters from other plants all over her kitchen and outside on her patio. It’s like walking into a home garden center. And she isn’t afraid to get dirty or remove hedges that were in her way or change the design of her garden if she doesn’t like it when she’s done.

Today, she appeared at my home with a load of mulch and composted soil, empty planting containers and starts of herbs, flowers, and vegetables and her gardening tools. She knows how much I miss my flower garden. And while she was figuring out where she wanted to plant everything and how to do it, I sat on my walker and we fellowshipped with one another.

Because she has such a huge heart, full of love, she allowed Tyson to help her plant the flowers and dig in the dirt. That’s huge for a three-year-old with sensory issues. He cried when she had to pack up her tools to go home. But she promised she would be back, tomorrow with more plants.

As you can see, she is a very beautiful friend, outwardly as well as inwardly. She loves with all she is. We have been friends for over 11 years and we have laughed and cried together and encouraged one another when we felt at our lowest.Julia

 

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.”

Thank you Father God for reminding me that blessings come in all shapes and sizes, and in all forms. The best blessing that any of us can have in our lives are our friends and family.

Thank you, Julia, for the love you have shown me today! It will not be forgotten.

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

Blessings to you!

 

 

Prayer Is Powerful

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools there is. I can honestly speak from experience.  Yesterday was one of the worst days for me. I was ready to give up AND then my prayer warriors and total strangers prayed for God to invade my body and give me peace.

Today, has been a great day! Pain levels have been considerably lower. Completed work that needed done. Spent the evening out with my husband and friends, enjoying life. I’ve learned not only is it important for me to seek the Lord, when you ask others to pray, miracles happen.

Thank you Jesus for your never ending, ever faithful love and mercy.

May you know Jesus Loves You!

Blessings to you! #HopeAlways#HaveFaithprayer-1308663_640

Hazy Days

Lately, I have had to stop in mid-sentence to try and recall what I was about to say or continually ask the same question, knowing I was given the answer multiple times, but I just can’t recall what it was. I do not like repeating myself and I don’t like asking others to repeat themselves. When this happens, I am tripping over myself apologizing and having to explain that sometimes the “brain fog” of Fibromyalgia is real and not an excuse for not listening.

Hazy Fog

It’s like leaving the room you’re in, to go get something from another room, but you feel like the rooms have moved and you have no idea how to get there from where you are. You think you must be losing your mind because you can’t keep track of simple details. It’s maddening, for me.  Sometimes the “fog” is like a haze. I stumble through my day, writing myself notes and writing everything down because I don’t want to ask again, and then misplacing the notes, only to find out they are right where I put them.

And going to the grocery when the “fibro fog” has settled in for a spell is a whole new thing. I must write everything down I need. If I do not put pencil to paper and notate it, even if it’s only two items, I will not be able to recall it.  I used to be able to remember the smallest of details. My mind was sharp. It’s frustrating because you never know when it will happen.

I play word games with friends and read to keep my mind active. I am working on teaching our grandson letters and numbers that he will need for preschool.  I think the most frustrating part of this “fog” is when I forget something that is really important. There are no do-overs. Apologies can be given, but how many times will that happen before people will stop relying on me?

I have always been able to stay on task and now I start something and don’t finish it because I forget what I started and move onto something else. Then I realize a few days later, I need to finish what I started. As I said, for me it’s maddening. The only solution I have found that truly helps is prayer. When I pray to Jesus and ask for His Peace to help me remain focused, I can sit with Him and just let His Peace wash over me.

Philippians 4:6-7New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Before I retired, I could work with vendors, keep track of all the details of a delivery, write up reports and take care of details, like a boss. Now, all the details seem to blur together and I have to sift through them to figure out what is important and what is not.

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I often wonder if this is how people that suffer from dementia feel. If this is the same type of feelings they go through when they are searching for the right words to communicate their needs.  It is scary to think that a disorder such as Fibromyalgia could affect my brain in this way. Fibromyalgia is full of surprises. It’s kind of like the line from the Forrest Gump Movie,  My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”[1]See Footnote.

Lifting the Fog of Understanding

Fibromyalgia is a lot like that. You never know what you will get. I can guarantee from my point of view, though, it will not be sweet or delicious, as that chocolate might be. This fog that I live with does lift from time to time and I am very thankful for that.  I can’t imagine being in a haze all the time. It’s like trying to look through the thickest pair of eyeglasses there are (remember the term “coke bottle glasses”), and they are all smeared because you tried to clean them with a tissue that had lotion in it. No matter how much you try to rub the smears away, it just makes matters worse. That’s what the fog is like for me.

As with any symptom I face, I seek out the Lord and rely on his Word to pull me through when the days are tough to manage. When I want to give up and throw in the towel, I remember how much Jesus loves me. I remember that he has a plan for my life and I keep pressing on, knowing that the trials and afflictions I am facing now, prepare me to comfort those and encourage others that are in this silent battle. I am a warrior. I battle daily to live a normal life. I joke with others about old age and memory loss, as a way to cope.

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If you find that you, too, suffer from this thick, dense “brain fog” due to Fibromyalgia or another illness, know that you are not alone. As a warrior with a chronic, life-long illness, it is easy to have feelings of hopelessness. Remember Jesus is our Hope. Cling to Him. He will bring you through every trial you face. #HopeAlways#HaveFaith

John 14:27New Living Translation (NLT)

27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Lord Jesus, help all of us that suffer from “brain fog” to remain clear and concise, to discern what is of you Lord and what is not. I ask that you pour out your Peace upon us, the only true Peace there is and help us to stay calm through the storms. In Your Mighty Name, Jesus. Amen.

May you know how much Jesus loves you and may your cup overflow with blessings!

[1]Forrest Gump Movie Quote

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

Focus on The One

Sleep was erratic. Seals  were broken numerous times.  Excuses danced around in my mind.  The alarm sounded.  As I flipped back the covers and swung my legs over the side of my bed this morning, I thought of all the reasons I could stay home and not venture out into the cold, brisk air. For a split second, the idea of burrowing under the covers for the remainder of the day was very appealing to me.love-1221444_640

That’s exactly what the devil wanted. Not today Satan.

As I slowly and purposely maneuvered down each stair step, and secretly wished I could just bound up and down the stairs as I used to, I found our grandson waiting at the bottom – arms outstretched wanting to be picked up with the cutest smile on his face. At that very moment, I thanked Jesus for the blessings he gives me daily. I couldn’t wait to get to church and spend some time praising and worshipping the King of Kings!

Winding my way through the maze of people at church, chatting it up with friends and giving and receiving hugs, I found my way to our seats.  As I juggled my handbag, several coats and a cup of hot tea, I placed my cane on the chair in front of me.  I knew I would need it. Most Sunday’s  I choose to sit and sing from my seat during worship  times. It’s an easy way for me to take a break from the pain I have; today I chose to honor the Lord with ALL I have and ALL I am. And as I stood and sung with every fiber of by being, my heart swelled; my pain was there, but it wasn’t so unbearable that I couldn’t stand through  a few songs.  Thoughts tried to break through saying, ‘you know you would feel better if you sit down.’  Not today Satan.

Lately, I have found that if I allow the stress of my day to gnaw at me and I don’t let it roll off of me and give it to Jesus, the devil comes along and tries to steal my joy. I can stand firm in my faith and know that Jesus is working everything out for me.  I am learning that how I look at life, is quite different from other people in my life see it and I can do my best to understand things from their point of view or I can allow Satan to work on us and allow bitterness to take hold and bickering to ensue to the point that I don’t care what happens in those relationships. The enemy is good at plotting and destruction. I can say  ‘Not today Satan.’

God tells us in His word that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that He came to give us life abundantly.

 

John 10:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they (A)may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.

 

When I chose to follow Jesus as my Savior, my life became abundant in blessings and favor I would never had seen otherwise. God loves us and he gave us the best gift we could ever have. His son. I always have a choice and so do you.

Last week, I melted. If tears could cause a person to dissolve, I would’ve been a puddle for sure. I do my best to  stay focused on the Lord, but sometimes life gets the best of me. I forget to turn it ALL over to the Lord. I pray, but I don’t realize that I need to totally surrender to the Lord. He already knows what I need.

I can choose to see all the things I need to work on in my life as dead ends OR I can choose to see how many times Jesus has carried me in the palm of His hand, when I was too weak to take that next step. As I allow the Lord to soften my heart and show love and kindness, as he did, the walls of anger and resentment start to fall away.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus. We must trust in His Word for us. His love endures forever. So the next time, you feel like you’re being pulled into a direction that is not of the Lord, simply stand firm in your faith and declare – Not today Satan.

 

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for my life. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Thank you for dying on the cross and shedding your blood from me. Lord forgive me when I fail to remember that you are with me . When I am weak and have no strength; you are my strength. When I am tired; you give me rest. When I am sad; you are my joy. When life is coming at me from all sides; you are my peace.  Father God, thank you so much for sticking with me through thick and thin.

In your Mighty name Jesus, Amen

Remember, Jesus Loves you! Blessings to you and yours today!

 

 

 

 

Woo Hoo!!!! It’s Friday!

So many people get excited when Friday comes, because that signals the end of their work week and make plans for the weekends to get away with family and friends or do projects around the house, or if they are smart, just rest up and gain strength and energy to make it through the next week.

When I was still working outside of the home, Friday was just another day for me. My days off were Sunday’s and Tuesdays. I didn’t have the same pleasure as most of my other friends when Friday’s arrived.

I think it’s great that there is one day a week that people are jubilant about; but what about the other six days? We should be just as excited for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Shouldn’t we?

Do you think when God created everything, he had it in mind that only Friday’s should be celebrated? More than other days? Doubtful. If we only look forward to one day of the week and miss out on the other six, what does that say about us? We just trudge through the rest of the week until Friday rolls around and then we start all over again, looking forward to just that one day?

I look forward to Saturday’s and Sunday’s now, because that is when my husband will be home and we can have quality time with one another. We can laugh and be silly, lean on one another, share our hopes and dreams and concerns and I am once again whole. For the past month and who knows how many more weeks or months, he spends the week with his father, taking care of him, due to Alzheimer’s and the distorted reality that he lives in. EVERYDAY is precious because you see glimpses of the man he was before the disease reared its ugly head. And we are thankful that when those glimpses come out, he can laugh and not be fearful of something his brain has conjured up.

Sunday is day celebrated in my heart because that’s the day I get to go to church and worship and enjoy the presence of the Lord with my church family. I become refueled for the week ahead and am encouraged by others and the testimonies they share of how Jesus has changed their lives! However, worshiping the Lord is a daily event for me. I sing his praises every chance I get, every day. I sing for him and he still loves me~I imagine he hears perfection when others hear an off tone, loud, obnoxious voice. My grandmother used to say you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I didn’t care.  Jesus loves when I sing for him. That’s all that matters.

Monday is a day to start fresh, wipe the slate clean from the previous week when things didn’t necessarily go as you planned and pray this week will look better than the last. I will admit most people I know frown when Monday appears, it means back to business, no more playtime- except for the DSM team at my church, (Dayton Street Ministry) -this is when they gain joy and not only bless the homeless and hurting in the city-but are also blessed. Rain or shine, freezing temps or sweltering heat. Every Monday. No exceptions.Lives our touched.  We all seem to forget, that God’s mercies are new every single day.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are days set aside for Therapy and Medical appointments. Tuesday is for me, my appointments, time with friends, running errands, grocery shopping and all those other “fun” things that we must do to make sure our family is taken care of and the house gets taken care of. I used to be able to dust, wash walls, clear the pesky cobwebs and so many other things to give me a feeling of job well done! Now if I get the dishes done, it’s a win.

Wednesday and Thursdays are devoted to Tyson’s speech therapy inside and outside of the home, along with the Play Project which we will be starting soon. Although daily therapy is done, he isn’t aware we are “working”, like he does with the structured therapy appointments.. I am working on teaching him simple signs (American Sign Language) to request his wants and needs along with PECS, a communication system using pictures exchanged between Tyson and others so he can tell people what he wants or we can tell him what’s next in his day.

I am trying to celebrate every single day. Yay! I woke up, I can breathe, I can walk, I can laugh and I can cry. Yay! That means my work here on earth is not done. God still is willing to use me and stretch me and mold me to carry out the plans he has for my life!Jeremiah2911A

The moral of this story, is live life to the fullest. Enjoy every day as a gift. Trust that if you are still here, than your work is not done. And don’t take it for granted, it could be gone in a split second. Tell others how you feel, love on them, encourage them, hold them up, ask for help when you feel overwhelmed or lost or alone. Don’t wait to tell someone something that they need to hear, because you are waiting for the right time~you may not get the chance. Be someone that embraces each day with an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. We all have at least one thing to be thankful for. And if you adopt this practice, you will see how very blessed you are and in turn can be a blessing to another human being.

And yes, I am excited it’s Friday. Tonight my husband comes home. I can’t wait!

Celebrate your life; your losses and your wins. They make you into the person you are right now. A great place to start celebrating is using the 100 Days Gratitude Journal from iBloom!

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy EVERY day! May you know that Jesus loves you! Blessings, Carlene