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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

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.

( “I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”)

 

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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