Reflections

As I sit here thinking back on the last several weeks, I am reminded how precious our time is here on earth and how important it is to live our lives to the fullest every single moment we are given and whatever we choose to do, we do it with unbridled passion. Near the beginning of the month, a lifelong friend, that had so courageously battled cancer and never given up hope that she would survive, was killed by her husband.  

She cherished life and her children/grandchildren. She loved her friends and always had something positive to say, no matter how bleak things were for her. She was always smiling, for as long as I can remember. Always smiling on the outside. Always a kind word. And the last time I had spoken to her weeks before her death, she was still hopeful and joyful, even though, as it turns out her life was less than joyful. She chose to live life in such a manner to leave a legacy of loving others with kindness and compassion. She will never be forgotten. She touched so many lives while she was here.  

After the news of her death and paying respects, joining in the sorrow of the loss that many of us feel and celebrating who she was, I realized that none of us know the time or day God will call us home. So, with the time I have, I better us it wisely.`

Prior to the first of the year, I had prayed and planned and envisioned what 2018 was going to look like, what I was going to strive for and what my theme for this new year would look like. My theme is the same: Focus on God, Be Intentional and Savor the Moments of Life. My visions have shifted.

I realized that as I attempted to build an online business with Plexus Worldwide as an Independent Ambassador, I loved connecting with others and offering them hope, through health and wellness supplements, I did not like the “business” side of it. No matter how many customers I gained or other people that signed up to do the same, that is not where my heart lies. I could go on living that lie, or I could get real and realized that God has a different plan for me. When doing something that you are not 100% all in, no matter how much you try to convince yourself, there will always be feelings of resentment or maybe resentment isn’t the right word, but feeling like if I continued on that path, my family and I were suffering, emotionally.  I just knew that it was preventing me from being the person I was created to be.  I will always have GREAT things to say and share about Plexus and the products they offer, and I will continue to use them because they have helped me to feel so much better, but this is not where my joy comes from.

Jesus is my joy! Reading the Word, learning Truth, sharing the Good News that is where I find my joy, that is where I feel fulfilled. Hope comes in many forms and loving others comes naturally to me. I always look for the positive in any situation. I choose to show grace and mercy as much as humanly possible. I have many flaws, as do others, but I look for the good.  There is so much evil in this world, so much hatred and greed and people that are all about themselves, I don’t care to watch the news anymore. That’s all you see most of the time. It’s sad, but the one thing that never ever changes is Jesus. He is the same today, as he was 2000+ years ago, and he will be the same 2000 years from now. He is the one constant in my life. He is my Lord and Savior and He is my friend. 

He has seen me go through so much in my lifetime, and He still loves me. He weeps when I weep and he rejoices when I rejoice. My life has been far from perfect, there have been many choices I have made that have caused others to hurt, emotionally and as he works with me to realize that there is nothing I can do to be perfect this side of Heaven, he has taught me that forgiveness and love can cover over a multitude of anger, hate, evil and despair. When the demands of being a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend become overwhelming, when there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all you hope to or need to, when the expenses outweigh the income, He always provides a way for things to work out. When you feel like you are in a tunnel and the walls are closing in, He is the One who lights the path and helps me to hold it all together. Days when I feel like screaming or crawling in a hole somewhere, He is with me. He comforts me. He lives within me. He guides me. 

I sit here in the midst of chaos. Toys spewed all over, crumbs left on the floor by a toddler, laundry overflowing that needs to be folded, dishes stacked high waiting to be washed, bills stacked up and I can choose to do two things, I can look at them as blessings in disguise or I can choose to be angry that no one else seems to notice. 

I choose to see everything in my life as blessings.  There are toys because He gave us this gift in the form of an inquisitive young child that wants to know how everything works and why the wheels spin on the toy truck, or loves the idea of the “black” sweeper, even though he can’t handle the noise of it, the crumbs and the dishes piled high mean there is food in our home to nourish our physical bodies, the laundry means we are fortunate enough to have more than one outfit to wear and a washer/dryer to care for those outfits.  The mess all around is contained by these four walls, we have a home to live in and a roof over our heads.  As I sit here typing this, I am watching my grandson, shred a piece of paper all over the floor, knowing that is just one more thing on my ever-growing list, but my life without him would be so lackluster and boring.

Every single child is a gift and a blessing. Some require more care than others. Extra care that you aren’t sure what that looks like or if it will ever happen where less one on one care will happen, but you embrace them. You love them. Living with someone on the Autism Spectrum is overwhelming, rewarding, crazy, chaotic and sometimes very stressful. Being able to cry out to Jesus and sit with Him in the midst of the chaos, keeps me sane. I think.

If you are living a life that is not what you want, you do have the power within yourself to make the changes.  It may not be easy, it might be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you are worth it.

May you know that Jesus Loves You~right where you are.

Blessings~Carlene

Rest in the arms of Jesus Sam! I love you and miss you deeply. (Samantha Howard Freels, July 7, 1965 – January 12, 2018)

Samantha

 

 

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Mr. T. in our World

Tyson Haircut

This is Tyson, Mr. T for short. He is one of our four grandchildren. Because he lives with us, I get to see the changes God is working in his life every single day and what a blessing it is!

Mr. T was so much stronger than many infants his age, he went from scooting around on the floor, to some type of what we affectionately call “leapfrogging” to standing and walking. Crawling never was involved in his learning to get from one place to another. It was a cross between a one leg crawl and a hopping motion all at the same time.

He didn’t verbalize like most children his age and our concerns were waved off, time and time again. By the time he was two, he had 3 words, maybe 4.  The rest of the time we relied on grunts and gestures, pictures and sometimes we gave up but he would persist until we understood him.

He walked at 10 months without assistance and by 12 months, he was running and jumping and climbing.  And again, the language delays were thought to be something he might be slower than others at picking up on, but simply because so many other areas of his development were ahead of the game.

For anyone that loves a person that is developmentally delayed or challenged, you can understand the frustration and irritation that grows when you know there is something different about your special person, but no one will listen. So you read everything you can get your hands on about where a child should be at each stage in their life, you beg for interventions from physicians, but you are put off more than once. We are so thankful that someone did listen, finally. At his two year checkup, with a new pediatrician in place, right away referrals were made and the process began to find out exactly what was going on. Audiological testing to check his hearing; speech testing to determine his level or non-existent levels of voice communications; cognitive testing to determine what he understood and didn’t. Evaluations to determine if he needed additional physical or occupational therapies and then the day of diagnosis arrived.

We weren’t really surprised by the diagnosis just concerned. Where do you go from here? He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 2, requiring substantial support.  What did substantial support mean? Would this be for his entire life, would he outgrow needing support? Would he ever have the ability to speak and communicate?  So many questions. And a million answers, because everyone that has Autism, may have an autism diagnosis, but there is a saying in the Autism community, “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with Autism.” Autism Spectrum Disorder affects each individual differently and a treatment or therapy that works well for one person may have no effect on another person.

Fast forward….17 months later and he now has a vocabulary of over 100+ words. I have lost count. Does he use them in sentences or phrases? Not in ones that the world of literature would understand, but he does share with us his needs and wants.  For example, if he wants a bowl of cereal to eat-his request sounds like this “bowl-cereal-milk”.  Short and fast words. If he knows we are going to the store, he may say “maw-car-shop” and his new favorite saying when he wants his favorite candy (M&M’s). “Me-M’s”.

There are times I don’t understand the words he is trying to vocalize and when all else fails, we grab his PECS (Picture Exchange communication system) (also known as visual support pictures) and he goes through the book to convey his needs. We thank God daily that his brain has unlocked his voice and he can use words to communicate with us. We thank the Speech Therapists and Early Intervention Specialists that saw promise and hope in him and never gave up. He has been in Speech Therapy for over a year and a half and (his official diagnosis is Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder)  will continue until such time he no longer requires it.

Living with someone on the spectrum isn’t always easy, but when you love someone, you will do whatever is necessary to help them live the fullest life possible.

He also has a condition known as Sensory Processing Disorder. He is known as a Sensory Seeker that requires a lot of sensory input, he can only get by jumping, spinning, bouncing, playing hard, running fast and stopping, banging his head repeatedly and he does not comprehend the word danger or safe or stop or no when it comes to danger. He is a flight risk. An elopement risk. He is fast. He reminds me of the cartoon character “the Roadrunner” and sometime’s the “Tasmanian devil” all rolled into one. He doesn’t like the floor area to be clean for any length of time, the more mess, and chaos, the better.

But he is also known as a Sensory Avoider when it comes to loud noises, bright lights and the way some clothing or objects feel (tactile). He loves the water. Not drinking it, unless it’s in my cup and then that is a totally different story, but again, he has no sense of danger. The water could be 1 ” deep or 6 ‘ deep and it wouldn’t matter to him, it’s water and he loves playing in it. There have been a few times in the last several months, as the leaves fell from the trees and exposed the creek that runs behind our home that he would find it, on the many days he has escaped from our home. And we are very proactive and have extra locks, up high, presumably so he couldn’t reach them or open the doors to the outside on his own. However, he reminds me of an engineer. He will work at something, until he figures out how it works, to his advantage. Child safety gates used to be enough to keep him contained, but no matter how difficult they may be for an adult to open, he has figured out the mechanisms enough to open them on his own. The same with the door locking mechanisms.  He is very smart.

Going on outings with him require strategic planning. Holding his hand is simply not enough because he has great strength and fortitude and can easily wriggle out of your hold and be gone in a flash.  So now, he wears an Alert Me Band that will alert anyone if he is found running loose on his own that he has Autism and he is a runner and there are phone numbers embedded on the bracelet so we can have contact with them to return him to safety.  That’s just one precaution that is taken. We do not go on many “spur of the moment” trips or spontaneous outings, because one person may not be enough to handle him.  Going to friends’ homes isn’t something we take lightly because telling him not to touch fragile objects or climb isn’t something that he “gets”.

I share all this with you because if you know anyone on the Autism Spectrum when they are well behaved, it takes great strength for them to “hold it all together” to fit into what society accepts as normal behaviors. Most people on the spectrum require a certain level of routines and structure to function without having meltdowns and meltdowns are totally different from tantrums. To view them, they may appear the same. But tantrums are when a child does not get what they want. A meltdown is a reaction to something happening in their brain they have no control over and can’t just “stop it” or “dry it up” and move on. I think that was the hardest concept for us to learn and differentiate between the two.

So, Mr. T. has overcome a lot of delays, but he still has a way to go to be equal to his peers and he may never be equal in the eyes of the world, but he is no less because he is different. His brain is wired differently. He sees things differently and understands them differently. And he is much like any other three year old in many ways. He will push your buttons and see what he can get away with, but doesn’t always understand what he can’t get away with or why it is wrong or dangerous or bad. He knows what hot means, but isn’t afraid to touch something hot, even if he would risk burning himself. The concept of hot is lost and may never be understood. No one knows. Only God knows.

Now, I know this is a lot of information to throw out there, but he is so much a part of our daily life, that I can’t imagine not sharing his story. If his story can help others that are going through what we face every day and it helps to let you know that you are not alone when you get the diagnosis or when someone mentions something that seems foreign to you, don’t fret. It can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to walk alone. There are many support groups and organizations that are available to help you and your special person get the assistance and help they need.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as many times as you need to. Even if you feel like you already asked the question. And remember, you know your person better than anyone else. You see them every day. You know what you’ve tried and what works and what doesn’t. The reason it is so difficult, in my opinion for medical professionals to help is the spectrum is just that, a variety of problems that encompass more than the mind can comprehend. Some people grieve when they hear the diagnosis, other’s rejoice because they finally have answers. There is no right or wrong way to feel, just remember that the person that you loved before the diagnosis, is the same person you will continue to love after it.

I will share more about Mr. T and his journey through this maze called life because his story has just begun. He was recently diagnosed with Epilepsy and that has created a whole new area of learning and reacting and caring.

But for today I will say this one last thing. God created all of us. We are all wonderfully and fearfully made. In His image.

Psalm 139:14   New International Version (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Mr. T. and I look forward to sharing his journey of living with Autism. Different not less.

May you know how much Jesus Loves you~right where you are.

Blessings to each and every one of you~Carlene

 

Free Me From This Prison

Every single second of every day I pray for a reprieve from this insidious pain I live with, called my body.

Fibromyalgia Prison

Today is a very high level pain day for me and normally I wouldn’t even feel like sitting at the computer, but sitting here is the only place I have felt any comfort today. Comforted knowing that I am not the only one in the world crying out to Jesus and asking for the pain to lessen or better yet, stop.

Living with chronic illness never gets any better, but there are days that are bearable.

Sometimes, I wonder what I did to deserve this pain. Before I had FM, I thought there is no way someone could be in as much pain as I had heard, but I received a strong lesson in assuming once it wracked my body.

Getting a reprieve from the pain and fatique, if only for a day would be so great. The problem with feeling good on low level pain days is I tend to go for the gusto and overdue it, but I don’t realize I overdid it until it is way too late to stop. Several weeks ago, I was able to go grocery shopping and make it through the entire store and not have to sit down. I was able to go for over an hour that day and then, even though my energy levels were draining, I came home and did housework. That was over 3 weeks ago.

Today, I got dressed and went one place and was only there for a total of 5 minutes, came home and feel like I have ran a marathon.  There is no rhyme or reason to this disorder. Fibromyalgia has its own set of symptoms, as many as 250, it’s different for everyone. Right now the vice like gripping pain in my rib cage and the tingling, burning sensations in my legs is just about enough to send me over the edge.

I don’t have the luxury of laying down right now and I am so close to just giving up, it’s not even funny. I am an optimistic person and for me to feel this bad, and express it to anyone, especially where hundreds of people may read it, tells me I have let my pain levels get too high.  It is entirely my fault. If I would learn that the dishes can wait, the laundry piled up can wait, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Normally my glass is half full, but today it is empty. I do not like this disorder and I do not like feeling this way.  I am so very tired of my body and all it’s nerves and muscles punishing me daily because I choose to live, as best I can, instead of allowing this illness to confine me to a bed. So, yes, a reprieve would be nice every now and then.

 

Psalm 18:1New Living Translation (NLT)

1 I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.

You, Lord, are my strength. You carry me all the days of my life. I cry out to You, Jesus. Help me to endure this torment that is within me.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You!

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.

Blessings to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Reprieve

Focus on The One

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

John 10:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Lord Jesus,

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

In your Mighty name Jesus, Amen

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

 

 

 

 

Four Days

In four days from today, my father, Robert will have been gone a year. It doesn’t seem like it has been a year already. He is in his Heavenly home and someday we will meet again.

I sense his presence in my home. Maybe it’s wishful thinking that he is here; maybe not. I have never been good at keeping indoor plants thriving. I have two special plants in my kitchen window. The smaller plant was gifted to our daughter on the birth of her son by my parents.  We transplanted it into a pot when we got home and it has taken off and continues to amaze me at its growth. The larger pot holds a plant from my father’s memorial service. Tall green leaves, flowing up out of the plant with white blooms. Did it have the blooms a year ago? I really can’t recall. I have never seen any blooms on it, until today. Knowing nothing about either plant, except they hold special memories in my heart, I can’ quite grasp if the flowering blooms are part of the plant and they only bloom once a year or if maybe it is a signal from my father that life goes on.

And our lives have gone on. Do we have days when we struggle and wonder why he had to leave us so early? Most certainly. Did he leave us a legacy of love and loving others? You bet he did. My father could be a very stubborn man, but he loved everyone. Not just some people, but everyone. And I think back on my life with him and how many ups and downs we had, but never once did I doubt his love for me.Ever.

He was in poor health near the end of his life here on earth. He lived as he wanted and did things his way, always. So frustrating at times, but I seem to be falling into his footsteps when it comes to the way I live my life. I am not always healthy in my eating or how I treat myself. I have smoked for many years and now, it is hindering my life. I am in the process of quitting for good because I still have too many things I hope to accomplish for Jesus; and that’s quite hard to do if I am not around. The addiction is so overwhelming, but I know that in the Bible, Philippians 4:13 it says “I can do all things through Jesus Christ, he strengthens me.”

If I confess that Jesus is Lord and believe it with my entire mind, soul and heart, than I know that Jesus will help me beat this addiction. I have quit various times in the last 30 years that I have had this disgusting habit. Yes it disgusts me. I don’t like how I smell, how my clothes smell and how it has affected my health. I know that food tastes better and I feel better when I don’t smoke. And the enemy knows that too.

Each time I was pregnant (3x), I stopped smoking immediately. I wanted to give my unborn child every advantage and make sure that I wasn’t the cause of anything wrong with them. I eventually would restart this nasty habit, because I could rationalize away how good it made me feel. Or when the price goes up, I will quit, I would tell myself. But the addiction to the nicotine is so darn strong, eventually my willpower was not enough.

My longest period of stopping smoking (cigarettes only) was in 2012. After 26 years, I was ready to stop. With the help of a cessation program and nicotine patches, I was smoke free in 5 1/2 weeks. For three years I felt great. I didn’t cough and sound like I was literally going to cough up a lung. I could breathe and when I walked, I didn’t have to stop and catch my breath.

As my father’s health deteriorated in 2015, I became stressed and worried. Instead of turning to friends for support, I lit up again and it’s been ongoing since then. I now smoke more than I ever have in my life and it is slowly killing me. For the last week, I have been miserable. I have developed COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; much of which can be attributed to the many years of smoking cigarettes and other respiratory infections I have no control over. But I do have control whether I light up or not.

As the lightbulb went off in my head, I realized that I can’t do anything in my own strength. To seriously think that I can, I am fooling myself. But with Jesus I can do anything, because He is my strength. His power is made perfect in my weaknesses. This is the biggest stronghold the enemy has over me and it stops today.

I have decided I am worth more than a pack of cigarettes. I know it won’t be easy. Anything worth having, never is. But I know it will be worth it.  I pray that my breathing difficulties will improve, my blood pressure will be lowered and a ton of other health problems I have may just get better since I am not inhaling over 7000+ toxic chemicals, each time I decide to take a puff. It took me reflecting on how my father struggled those last months, how his breathing was. He quit smoking years ago, but it still affected him in the end. He struggled to walk and breath at the same time. His problems came from his heart failing, but surely as I sit here and know how long he lit up in his life, I know I am headed for the same kind of life ending disease. I hope I am not too late to finally turn it over to Jesus and get on with living.no-more-smokes

No matter what you are facing in your life, whether it’s an addiction to alcohol, drugs, tobacco products, food, wrong friendships and relationships–Jesus can help you with all of them. You just have to get your head screwed on straight and your heart right with the Lord. Seek him out, trust that HE is enough for anything you need. And remember this also, You are created in the image of God. He loves you! You are his child and HE wants only the very best for your life.

To find help for the addiction of Cigarette Smoking, check out Quitting Smoking and good luck! You can do it and so can I. Aren’t we worth it?

If you would like to find a Christ centered recovery program in your area, go to Celebrate Recovery website to find more information of programs in your area.

May you be blessed and know how much Jesus Loves You!

~Carlene