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BE GRATEFUL

Each one of us has choices we make every single day, consciously and unconsciously, how we respond to these choices, says a lot about each one of us.

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Praise Report

Hello, dear readers! Sorry for my absence.  I have had a lot of things happening in the last few weeks and have not been very diligent in keeping up with this blog, I do apologize. You have been kind enough to engage with me and follow my writing and I really do appreciate every single person that takes a moment out of their busy days to stop by and read what I have to say.

As with everything I write and share with you, there is ALWAYS one common thread. His name is God, Jesus, Holy Spirit.  He gave me life, and he gives my life purpose.  Everything I have comes from Him and everything I will ever have in the future comes through His blessings in my life!!

There is so much to be thankful for.  In July of 2016, our 26-month-old grandson was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 2 (meaning he would require substantial support) and was considered non-verbal.  And while he does require substantial support, God has changed the non-verbal to communicative. Does he speak in clear sentences and phrases that most people can understand the meaning? Sometime’s he gives one or two words, and that is enough. But for all of us that love him and spend life with him, he has made amazing leaps and bounds from where he was a year ago! Thank you, Father God. You are so good! Our grandson started preschool this year, with 45 words which may not be a lot of words to the general public, but to anyone that loves a nonverbal individual, those 45 words were like winning the lottery!! More precious than silver or gold!! And since he has been in school for a little over a month now, a light has come on, a part of his brain a door has unlocked and words are bursting forth. He knows more than he says, that is very evident. But God did that! Prayers have been prayed over the Autism Diagnosis since it happened by many people, probably even some I do not know personally, so thank you for being faithful prayer warriors and leaving the outcome to Jesus!  And thank you for allowing me to see how YOU work in all of our lives if we remain faithful to your Word.

That would be enough praise, in itself, but there is so much more!!!! A little over three months ago, a friend shared with me an amazing story of how much better she was feeling and what she was doing that was so radical for her, that I had to try it.  It was called self-care, sprinkled with hope and amazing results! What a concept!  For me, I have always been the one that cares for everyone else in my life. My husband, my children, grandchildren, friends, parents, and I always came last and that was how I perceived my role as a wife, mom, grandmother, and friend. As long as I was meeting everyone’s needs, and everyone was feeling loved, I would get by. But, if you have been on this same path I was on, you all know that is not true. And if we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, we might not be around to enjoy caring for others.

We have to learn that we are worth just as much love and care that we pour into others. We have to realize that we need time, too, to focus on our needs and everyone’s needs are different.  Mine was focusing on my health and having some quiet time alone and with friends, without feeling guilty I was taking the time. And changing my mindset.  And after 52 years of having that mindset, it wasn’t going to be an easy task, but I am so glad I decided to take the time because it has been SOOOOOOO worth it!

I know God was in every single detail of what led my friend to share with me her self-care tips and a supplementation program she was using and the great benefits she had received.  If I hadn’t of been raw and real and very vulnerable in a blog post from May 27th, Free Me From This Prison, I might still be sitting here in pain and discomfort. When I wrote that post, I battled with God back and forth about I didn’t want to write it, I didn’t want to be that vulnerable, I was always the “strong” one and I didn’t want to appear weak, but he said, “do it anyway, trust Me”.  After many tears and “are you sure’s?” , I wrote.  When God wants to use me in a small or big way, and it’s out of my comfort zone, I always struggle and wonder if I am hearing him correctly, but what I need to do is trust Him. Listen to Him. His ways are not my ways, but they are the Best Way!

My friend shared how these all natural, no chemicals, no preservatives, no gluten, no man-made anything was in these supplements and how God was using these products to heal her body from the inside out.  Had it been anyone else, I would have said, “thanks, but no thanks.”  But God knew I would listen to her because I truly valued and respected her and her opinion and I knew she would always be simplistically honest with me and HE also knows I value Honesty and Integrity in everything.  He sent the right messenger.

So, I started taking these amazing supplements and learned what kinds of foods my body needs to thrive and what things I needed to let go of that were slowly killing me.  My inflammation levels internally and externally have been high for so long, I don’t even recall when they weren’t a part of who I am. Internally, every time I have lab work done, that is one of the things that is always checked and every time, it would always be so very high, my physician would make mention of it, with no clue as to why or how to make the inflammation go down.  There are many OTC products and prescription drugs that can be taken to battle inflammation, but then you have to worry about damaging your body further from unwanted side effects, or worse yet, they don’t help and now you have added products to your body that didn’t help and you still feel just as bad as you did before you tried them.  I will admit, I was skeptical, but I trusted her to know I had to give them a try and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work, but when you live with chronic, debilitating, immobilizing pain, you will try anything, almost anything at least once and then mark it off your list and move on.  Except for this time, I didn’t have to check it off my list and move on, because, for the first time in 10 years, I had hope.

My pain levels, sheer exhaustion fatigue, and terrible brain fog didn’t miraculously;y lift from me overnight, but after three weeks of using these supplements I could tell a difference.  I didn’t have to sit on the side of the bed in the mornings for 20-30 minutes just to gain my balance to stand up and steady myself. I could roll over in bed without being in such agonizing pain, I didn’t need all these pillows supporting and propping me up just so I could “TRY” to get some rest. By the 8 week mark, I found myself in tears again, not because they weren’t helping, but because God cared enough about me, to choose to heal my body with these amazing products. He loved me enough to take away my pain, my fatigue, my brain fog and I started noticing so many other things, too.

The severe knee/hip-joint pain I had for the last several years wasn’t there either. Many days I sat in amazement that this had to be a really fabulous dream I was having, but pinching myself made me realize, it was not a dream.  It was as real as the God I serve and follow and it was his gift to me. I know without a shred of a doubt that every single piece that fell into place was because I chose to trust God, to step out in faith and to obey His leading. And every single time that I do that, He blesses me or my life. Why? Because he is a Good Good Father and He LOVES extravagantly!

Is my health all perfect now, nope? I have ways to go, but I am on the right road. I didn’t get unhealthy and out of shape overnight and I won’t become the picture of perfect health overnight either.  But I will be the best version of me from here on out. I will choose to eat whole, healthy foods and less processed foods. I have learned that my gut health is too important to my overall health to not care what I put in my mouth. I lost my diet soda/sweet tea habit and replaced it with nice refreshing water.  I can’t get enough green vegetables, they are packed with so many nutrients and minerals our bodies need and how come I didn’t already know this.  I should have known it. My neighbor and friend, has been trying to tell me for years how important it is what I put in my body, but God knew I wasn’t ready to listen yet and so I ignored her warnings.

As I sit here and tell you all this fabulous, life-transforming news, I am sitting here wide awake when( my new normal, I would be sleeping) I should be sleeping,  but I have some ulcers on my lower legs where I’ve always battled poor venous circulation and getting the blood flow to return is always slower than when it is working through my system. They are painful and using bandages or gauze compresses are difficult because latex tape and cloth tape really irritate the skin around the area, which then causes a skin allergy reaction, and then all I want to do is scratch layers of skin off, but they are too tender and sore to even touch.  Anything that touches them, even air, well let’s just say I would not recommend having these for fun.  Because they are not.  And before you speculate, no I am not a diabetic.  I thank Jesus for that. It could be a lot worse than it is. But I will also take the time, right now to thank God for placing amazing people in my life that saw a need and took care of it so I could take care of my legs. I am very blessed indeed.  I thank God that I have a wonderful wound care doctor that I have had to see in the past and I will see later today to get the healing process started on my legs. Without God, none of this would be possible.

I choose to look at life optimistically, there’s always a silver lining. And even when I go through trials and struggles I know Jesus is with me. He becomes my strength, He is my Peace and my rest. He is my Hope.  No matter what I face in this temporary life, here on earth, He has already overcome it! He knows my every single solitary detail about me, everything I will ever face, and HE carries me every single day!  He can do the same for you if you are willing.

Father God, saying thank you doesn’t seem like enough for all you have done for me, my family and my friends in this lifetime. Sometime’s I feel that you deserve more than I know how to give, but I give you my all. I praise you, not because I have to or because other’s say I should, I choose to praise you and honor you because I am your child and I love you. Thank you for pushing me, nudging me, stretching me in ways my eyes can’t see the vision, thank you for teaching me to step out in faith and thank you for putting the right people in my path at just the right time. Thank you for opening my ears so that I can hear and for not allowing my heart to become hardened when life is hard. Thank you for giving me Jesus and for the blood He shed on the cross for me and all my sins. Thank you Father God, for giving me an advocate, The Holy Spirit that nudges me pricks my heart and convicts me when I need to know my way is not always best.  But most of all Father God, thank you for loving me unconditionally and showering all the blessings you do every single solitary moment of my life. My cup overflows. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! He will meet you right where you are, in this moment. And I promise you this, when you choose to take up your cross and follow Him, your life will never be the same again!

Many blessings on your journeys! Much love~Carlene

Labor Required

Anyone knows that if you want to gain anything in life, labor is required. It could be physical labor or mental labor, but the fact remains, for most of us what we want and need in life, requires Grit to accomplish it.

labor required

You don’t start out in adulthood with a brand new home, new flashy car and the road paved ahead of you with gold and silver. Most of us have to work for what we need, and for most of us, it may take years to reach our goals. And the road ahead normally will not be “I see what I want, I’m going after it”. There will be bumps in the road, obstacles big and small that detour us from our dreams. The good news, though, is that if you have grit and determination, you can accomplish unimaginable goals and dreams.

You have to be willing to work hard, work long hours or hours that seem long because they aren’t M-F,9-5. You may be part of the work crowd that works two jobs to make ends meet, go to school and have a family to take care of. And your dreams may always seem just out of your grasp, but don’t give up.  If you see the glass as half full and are optimistic, your attitude can get you farther, than if you see the glass as half empty. I know this personally.

It says in God’s word, that if we think about something long enough, it can become reality.

Proverbs 4:23-27New Century Version (NCV)

23 Be careful what you think,
because your thoughts run your life.
24 Don’t use your mouth to tell lies;
don’t ever say things that are not true.
25 Keep your eyes focused on what is right,
and look straight ahead to what is good.
26 Be careful what you do,
and always do what is right.
27 Don’t turn off the road of goodness;
keep away from evil paths.

Besides the fact, that you can receive satisfaction from achieving your dreams and goals, hard work and grit never hurt anyone. If you have ever worked hard at accomplishing your goals, then you know what it feels like when you succeed. You can look back and see how far you have come and you can thank your Heavenly Father for how much He has been with you every step of the way.

Dream Big! Trust that God is in all the details and He is going before you and setting you up for success. The only limitations you have is your mind. Live Abundantly!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! #HOPEALWAYS#HAVEFAITH

Blessings to you!

 

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!

 

 

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