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Dear Daddy

I think of you every single day daddy. I miss you so much. I miss hearing your voice and opinions, even unwelcome ones. I miss being able to video chat with you and see your smile and hear your laughter. 12002285_10153693477532317_59695028194444929_n

 

I remember being mad when I wanted you to be my friend and you set me straight in no uncertain terms by saying, “I am not your friend, I will never be your friend, I am your Father!”  Now that I am a parent, I totally understand that statement. I sure didn’t get it back then, it hurt my heart. But I survived and got over it.

I remember the time, I raised my voice to mom, yelling “that’s not fair” and before I could say anything else, you were inches from my face, telling me that “you better never talk to your mother like that again, you may have a $1900 mouth (I had braces), but you’ve got a two-bit tongue” “and if you ever speak to her like that again, you’ll be picking your teeth up off the floor.” I can still remember how much my lips were trembling and my legs were shaking.

I remember always relying on you to get the bats out of the house and the one time one swooped into the living room as I lay on the couch with a cast on my leg, my crutches nowhere near me and everyone running out of the house.

I remember that ride on your motorcycle when we came into the driveway a little too fast and skidded to a stop and tipped the bike over. I remember planting a garden and snapping green beans and mom cooking the fresh green beans, with ham and potatoes and cooked it for hours. I can almost smell it!

I remember when Mom got my long hair cut for the first time and you wanted to know who the child was in the front yard and it was me.

I remember learning that we do not use words like hate or fat. I remember learning that your table and chair were the only things you had control over in that entire house (I don’t know how many times you told mom and me that when we thought about moving furniture we could move everything but those two items).

I remember running rescue squad with you. It was hard when you were the Chief and I was only a member. I always felt you were harder on me than the rest of the EMT’s, but even if you were, it challenged me to be the best I could be.

I remember being at a campground sitting on the banks of a pond or lake, I was about 13 and I think Bubba was maybe 5 and the three of us were fishing. I never liked it because I had to be quiet, or it might scare the fish away. For hours we sat there, you were catching fish and Bubba was catching fish, and nothing was getting hooked on my line. When I finally did catch a fish, it was so small, I knew it had to be someone’s bait that got away. That was the end of my fishing career.

I remember so many things in the 50 years that I knew you, I could go on forever. You taught me how important it is to be honest, no matter what the cost. You taught me that your integrity will carry you far in life and that when trust is broken, it can take a long time to rebuild it. You taught me that if you want something, you work for it. You taught me there is a difference between wants and needs. You always provided for our needs growing up, even if it meant you had to sacrifice for it. You not only taught but modeled what unconditional love looks like and you always was there for anyone that needed a helping hand, even if you were so tired and exhausted and wanted to say no.

It has been almost two years since you left us to go live with Jesus. I remember the last time I hugged you and you said I love you. I will never forget that moment.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy! I love and miss you so very much!

For all other Father’s, may you have a great day spent with your family. For those without a father in their lives, may you know that you have a Heavenly Father that loves you very much!

#HopeAlways#HaveFaith

Blessings to all of you!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

My Heart

My heart sees what the world cannot comprehend.

My heart sees the loneliness that she feels when the world shuts her out.

My heart sees the ache when all she wants are friends that include her and think about her.

My heart sees how walls have been built because they are a form of protection.

My heart sees a young woman trying to find her fit in this life and feeling hopeless.

My heart sees a child that looked for love in all the wrong places because she didn’t feel loved enough at home.

My heart sees a child that wants to feel needed and loved unconditionally.

My heart hurts because I cannot fix the problems she fears and the failures she remembers

My heart sees what all the negative words have done as they have penetrated her soul and become her beliefs, that she is worthless, useless, lazy, not loved.

My heart cries because this is not who she is. She is beautiful.

My heart sees the struggle she lives within herself; I remember when she was carefree.

 

 

My heart sees that coping isn’t easy and sleep never comes.

My heart sees a woman that loves her child but doesn’t know how to show it all the time.

My heart sees a woman who wants to have a job, have friends, be independent, but doesn’t know how to achieve it, because her self-esteem has been battered and bruised.

My heart sees where I have failed and my heart forgives itself because holding onto that kind of thinking can cripple a person.

My heart hopes for her, that one day she will be the person God has created her to be.

My Heart Katlyn

My heart sees the fierce compassion she carries within her own heart and will defend those she says she doesn’t love because that’s what family does for one another

.My heart longs for her to accept that she is worthy of love, real love and so much more.

My heart waits for her to understand that life gives us lessons to make us stronger and not to withdraw more.

My heart leaps when I see her artistic ability and I only wish she could see this gift of a talent she has.

My heart perseveres in knowing she can be anything she wants to be, she can be the best at what she hopes for and she can soar.

My heart prays for the day that she is not afraid to spread her wings and fly.

My heart weeps because the anxiety that is part of who she is how it  stops her in her tracks and as much as she wants to be a part of something, anything, she doesn’t know how to move forward without fear creeping in.

My heart loves this person with so much love, that I will never look at her except as the beautiful child I know her to be. She grew inside of me for 9 1/2 months. She is my daughter. She struggles with depression and social anxiety. She has but a few friends and I weep because I know she desires so much more for herself than I can give. I love her with a fierce love and I always will. I pray daily that she will know how much she is loved and will not only know it but embrace it. I love you, Katlyn Nicole with all that I am.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You!#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings til next time!

Love Is A Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Mom

 

 

 

The Pink Purse

My friend Sherry was a lover of the color pink, not a vibrant, bright pink, but a pale subtle pink. She was a romantic at heart and loved with all she had. She would share whatever she had if anyone needed it. I miss her so much.

I remember, about a year before her death, I took her on a “Bucket List” trip. She wanted to go to the mountains in October to see the changing of the leaves. When the fall colors burst forth, and all you can see in every direction are hues of purple, pink, yellow, red and beautiful colors the mind can’t comprehend.

Prior to the trip, I had purchased a pink handbag from a local Goodwill store. It wasn’t anything fancy and was under five dollars. It was one of those open the bag and throw everything in it, no compartments and no zipper.  Just a simple snap at the top to hold it all together. For weeks, she pestered me to give her that purse. And for weeks, I said no way.  She had always told me that she could never use a grab bag, she needed it to have compartments and pockets and zippers and this bag had none. But her love for the color pink won out.

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One day, I found a nice box, lined it with tissue paper and carefully wrapped the purse in the tissue paper and found gorgeous pink wrapping paper and tied it all together with pink ribbon and a pale pink bow!

We went to our weekly Bible Study and then made our weekly trek to United Dairy Farmers for a Peanut Butter Sundae with extra peanut butter. A treat to ourselves, and while we sat and devoured those sundaes, I presented her with the package.

She questioned what was this big gift box for. It wasn’t her birthday or any special date she could recall and I said you’re my friend; that’s enough of a reason for the gift. She ever so delicately tried not to rip the pink paper (which is near next to impossible because I love using tape when wrapping gifts) and finally I told her she needed to rip it open, she could find more of that gift wrap at the dollar store if she wanted it so bad.

When she opened the box and gingerly peeked in the tissue paper, this bright smile beamed from her eyes. And she hugged me tight and told me she would take really good care of it! She took that purse on our trip and made sure that I took a picture of her and her pink purse.

That’s what friends do for each other. We lift one another’s spirits, it could be the gift of an inexpensive pink purse, it might be a nice note or a phone call. It might just be sharing a cup of coffee. Whatever it is that you do with your friends to brighten their days, do it with love.

I know she carried that purse until it finally fell apart, but the small amount of money spent on that handbag does not compare to the joy it brought my friend.

May you know how much Jesus loves you!

Blessings!

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via Daily Prompt: Pink

In Deep

John 10:10New Living Translation (NLT)

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

hopealways

 

 

 

I’ve been sitting her this morning, thinking about all the things going on around me, in my little world. We all have our own ways of coping and dealing with life and everything life throws at us, even if we didn’t ask to be part of something. And I’ve come to realize that I can choose to turn a blind eye to things that bother me or I can seek the Lord and His guidance.

I love and I love deeply. That’s the only way for me to do it. It’s not about what the rest of the world thinks, it’s about what my heart feels. I weep for the homeless and for the many people in my area that die from heroin overdoses every day. I weep because I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve been fortunate, not to have lost anyone close to me, but I have many friends and their families that have been affected by this drug. Just this morning, I read a news headline that 10 people lost their lives to heroin overdose in the last 24 hours. Losing 1 is too much, but 10 is a horrific thought. I didn’t know any of these people, but I weep for their families, friends and for them. I don’t understand what changed in their lives that they thought the heroin or any other drug for that matter could make it all better.

All of us need love. It’s part of our DNA. That’s how God created us. Every time I think about all the evils in this world, I think about this song What the World Needs Now is love. Unconditional love. Period. It isn’t easy loving someone without conditions, but if we want to be like Jesus Christ, that is exactly what we need to do, what we must do.

I live within miles of the number one ranked city (Dayton, OH) in the nation for Heroin addiction overdose and death. The only thing I know to do is to love on people. Meet them in their pain and slowly build relationships with them so they know that even when they shoot up, you still love them. We are all broken, we all have demons we face in our lives, I feel so strongly about this, but I still don’t have any answers. The only answer I keep hearing is we must love one another, deeply. We must look past our faults, our weakness. We must be willing to step out of our cozy comfort zones and reach out to the hurting, the dying and the lost. We must continue to pray for our world. Our small little worlds make up the big world we live in. Each of us must put on Jesus every day when we awaken and reach out in any way we can to stop this evil and that’s what it is, plain and simple, evil.

According to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office, via a news release on WDTN Channel 2, Dayton, Ohio (01/31/2017), 355 overdose deaths in 2016; the majority being white and in their 30’s. The actual amount of deaths was 349 according to this report from the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. As I read the reports and look at those numbers, just for the area I live in, I am astounded. This says nothing of the national problem we have. And I weep.

The hardest drug I have ever tried and lived to tell about was Nicotine from smoking cigarettes. It too is habitual and it too kills, but slowly. I’ve heard if you have just one “hit” of heroin or any other drug, depending on its chemical makeup and strength, it can kill. For some people who feel the need to do drugs, doing it just once might be their last time.

Here in our area, there is an organization that is slowly making a difference in the lives of families and addicts, with resources to help them succeed in life. Kudos to FOA Families of Addicts.

There is hope. There is always hope. Hope Over Heroin is a ministry collaborative born out of a need to do something to save lives, to educate others and to give hope in the darkest of situations. They are a National organization that is available with resources to guide you.

If you or someone you love is addicted,  please know there is help. Reach out.  You may contact the 24 Hour Heroin Addiction Hotline, call 1-888-966-8404 and chat with a live agent anonymously. If you have lost someone you love to a drug overdose, please accept my sincerest condolences, I weep with you.

Jesus can turn any mess into a message of Hope. #HopeAlways#HaveFaith

Blessings to you.

Addition to post edited on 4/22/2107

When I orginially wrote this I did not know anyone that had succumbed to a heroin overdose. Sadly, earlier this evening I received news that a friend’s son has passed away as a result of a heroin overdose. Rest in Peace James Williford.

 

 

Coat of Love

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

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

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