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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!

 

 

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Accepting the Challenge

Yesterday, I became one of many that have accepted a challenge to live healthier for the next 90 days, knowing that if I can make the change in the next 90 days, I can turn it into a new lifestyle.

For someone who is considered “morbidly obese”, I knew that to be truly committed to this challenge, there had to be accountability. That is why I love that I am part of a group of Christian women that love the Lord and seek His guidance daily. They are a great group of ladies from all walks of life and have challenges ahead of them just as I do. Our challenges may be different, but the opportunities that God has placed us all together is not a coincidence. His plans are always perfect and purposeful.

So, one of the challenges I have faced even before this challenge officially began was learning to love water, instead of soda or some other high-calorie beverage. A week ago, I was lucky if I drank even 8 oz of water a day. Now I am drinking 120 oz a day.  My goal is to reach 200 oz a day (if my doctor approves that amount).  Along with drinking all the water and choosing to eat healthily and losing the extraordinary amount of carbs that have become habits for me, I am trying new supplements from Plexus Worldwide. I will take these supplements daily along with moving more.

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I am gaining new insight into the world of chair exercises. Right now my balance isn’t great and standing for more than 10 minutes at a time, causes pain and serious discomfort. My hope is that as I move more, even in small increments, I will notice a difference for the good. I am praying that as I embark on this journey, I will not only become a healthier me, but I will be able to share my success stories with all of you.

Once I learn more about the supplements and how they will help to heal my body from the inside out, I will share what I am taking and how they are working for me.

God dropped this opportunity in my lap because I chose to be real about my pain and discomfort. Other people reached out to me and asked me to come along for the ride.

Jeremiah 29:11  International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I know there will be times that Satan will try to discourage me and distract me, but I am committed to making a better life for myself. I am tired of writhing in pain and feeling so fatigued that sleep never comes. I want to enjoy life, not from the chair I sit in daily and look at the four walls. I want to be able to walk without pain, play with my grandchildren, dance with my husband and love life.

And the best thing about this new challenge is I am making friends I will have for life.

God is good! All the time!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You!

Blessings to all!

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.

 

 

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

Creating & Living the Life you Love

YAY! I’m sooo excited to partner with the iBloom Team to revolutionize the way women do business and live life!

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I came to know iBloom when I ordered their Life & Business Planner. I have always searched for Planners that would take the place of several. This planner makes me think about the woman I want to be and what are my goals short and long term. There is just so much covered in the planner, along with Scriptures and areas for being intentional in your actions an life! I love it and I am so excited to be on this journey with iBloom! They offer so many coaching and business resources for women. I have partnered with them and look forward to sharing the products they have available as well as Freebies that can help you have a simplified productive life.. As promotions become available, I will be posting on this site, as well as my Facebook page.

Please stay tuned! Many Blessings, Carlene
To learn more about iBloom, go to https://ibloom.co/?partner=126

Pieces

Yesterday our grandson was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  It is a relief to have a diagnosis, but I am so overwhelmed right now that the only thing I know to do is keep praying that God will guide all of us on this journey and that he will know how much he is loved.  At 26 months, he is nonverbal for the most part and it has been a concern for some time now. I am upset with myself that when we asked his doctor at 12 months and again at 18 months that our concerns were dismissed and that we didn’t have enough foresight to ask for a second opinion.

Would it have made any difference? I really can’t say.  I know that early intervention is key. He has been undergoing speech therapy for over 6 months now, and seems to lose words faster than he gains them.

He has his own way of communicating with us and for the most part we know what he wants or is trying to ask for, but I can’t imagine how difficult it is for him. It’s sad. I know there are many people that have ASD that function very well in the world. I know there are other’s that struggle too.

The developmental staff of doctors and psychologists and nurse practitioners have been awesome and I am glad they are part of his team. They loaded us with so much information yesterday and warned us not to try and read it all in several days. Take time.

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We know this will be a lifelong journey, with bumps along the way. The one thing I read that “struck me funny” was:

If you’ve met one person with autism, you met one person with autism.

The information went on to say that every person that has this disorder is usually totally different from another person that has it and that’s why you can’t group them into a typical set of rules. What works for one, may not work for another.

I am looking forward to learning more and empowering myself with knowledge about this disorder. Finding other parents/grandparents to get together with and talk to.  As we continue to support our daughter in raising her son as a single parent, we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he thrives in every way possible.

Thanks for “listening”.  Much love to all of you over the weekend coming up and many blessings for next week.

Remember Jesus Loves You,

Carlene

 

 

Coping in the Valley

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I am so thankful for God and His Word. In Psalm 23 he tells me that no matter what I walk through in life, down low in the valleys or high on the mountaintops he will be with me. Right beside me, holding my hand and guiding me. I have no reason to fear. Jesus is all I need. He gives me rest and renews my strength.

For several years, my husband and I, along with other family members have known that my father-in-law has suffered with Dementia.  It is hard watching someone you love lose their memory, struggle with simple tasks and become agitated and angry because they perceive something that isn’t really happening. The brain can play so many tricks on a person when they are ill.

You talk to them on the phone or in person, and in a short period of time, you have heard the same “story” more times than you care to remember, but you keep silent, because you love them. They talk about their lives when they were younger, but aren’t sure what happened 20 minutes ago.

They know their brain is failing them and it is so frustrating to them. They ask how can we fix this? Living like this is horrible. And you have to be the one to tell them, there is no fix. The docs might be able to give you medications to help slow the process, but there is no cure. It will never get any better than it is now. You pray for a cure.  You care for them the best way you know how, but then one day it becomes apparent to all the family, they need more can than you can give. Any child that loves their parents, only wants the VERY BEST for them, their life and their well-being.

By the time my father-in-law was diagnosed, he was in Middle Stage Alzheimer’s. I’ve read on Alzheimer’s National Organization page that many people are diagnosed in the middle stage. I am still learning about all the stages of Alzheimer’s and all the symptoms associated with each stage. It’s scary. Not just for him, but for all of us that love and care for him.

Hallucinations are hard for him to deal with; he thinks that what he sees and hears is real. He has fears that aren’t easy to calm down. It’s constant reminders that he is safe; no one will hurt him; he is loved. My husband is the oldest child of 5 siblings. He and another sibling have been taking care of his father on a constant-continual basis for several years now. Taking him to medical appointments,helping with medications, grocery shopping and other tasks he needs help with; along with staying with him on many occasions and giving basic care and support.

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When their mother passed on, they spoke of how life would be for their dad and vowed to one another, he would never go to a nursing facility to live out his life. Now the time has come, where it may be the best option for him. At best, we have to do what is in the BEST INTEREST of their father and not what they think might be best. At worst, they can do nothing and Social Service organizations can become involved and make decisions on his behalf.

Job 4:2-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

2 “Will you be patient and let me say a word?
For who could keep from speaking out?
3 “In the past you have encouraged many people;
you have strengthened those who were weak.
4 Your words have supported those who were falling;
you encouraged those with shaky knees.

As for my father-in-law, we don’t know what the future will bring. We can only trust in God to guide us on this new journey. We can reach out to others that have gone before us or are still going through it and we can accept advice and encouragement along the way.

In the beginning, our parents  raised us, taught us, disciplined us and most of all loved us and now it is our turn to teach our parent(s), be their rock, be their one constant in their life.. Many of us would not be the people we are today, without the loving instructions we were shown and given in our childhood days.

The one thing I know for sure is the sun will rise another day. Life will go on. Changes will occur and the one steadfast thing that will never change is Jesus. He is the same today, as he was thousands of years ago and he will be the same in the future.

sunrise-795311_1280Isaiah 26:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4 Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

If you want to learn more about Alzheimer’s, please fee free to explore the links below:

National Alzheimer’s Association

WebMD Alzheimer’s Center

National Institute on Aging

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Memory Care Locator Services

Lord Jesus, As we embark on this journey of caring for our loved one with Alzheimer’s,  I beseech you to give us clarity in making difficult decisions, wisdom to know what to do and when to do it and to continually be our strength and hold us up as we tread this unfamiliar territory. Please continue to be with our father and help him on his new walk. Lord, your word says that your Peace passes all understanding and we are to lean on you. Thank you Lord for your continued love and faithfulness in all areas of our lives daily. We exalt you and Praise your Name Jesus. In your Mighty name, I lay my requests at your feet. Amen

It is my prayer that if you or a loved one suffer from any form of Dementia or Alzheimer’s that you know you are not alone. Our Heavenly Father is always with you. He will never abandon you. Jesus Loves you.

Blessings today and always,

Carlene