Daily Life Struggles

Proverbs 15:15 The Message (MSG)

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

 

With joy in my heart, I still struggle.  Joy comes from the Lord and no one can take that from me. I can choose to live with a joyful heart and know that I will still face many struggles and trials, but still, love and be the person I am because God has placed Joy in my heart or I can choose to live without joy and be miserable always.

Over the weekend, the fibromyalgia flared up and reared its ugly head. The constant pain that never fully leaves, but some days are so rough, that just breathing and moving, make you question if getting out of bed was the right thing to do. And knowing that if you choose to remain in your bed, how many things will face you to take care of once you arise.  Most of us that have fibromyalgia know that sometimes the best we can do for ourselves is to stay in our beds or the comfy places we have carved out in our homes. We do not have the energy to get dressed, shower, or do any extra. Getting up takes every ounce of energy just to be able to spend time with our families, and going anywhere is totally out of the question. That was me on Saturday. I showed up, in my nightgown and I stayed in my nightgown all day. I KNEW I was not going out into the cold for any reason and I saw no point in causing myself more pain to get dressed simply because that was expected of me.

I have dealt with FM for 10 years. And for the past year, it has been manageable. But for the past several months, I have noticed since stopping the natural supplements I was using, my inflammation throughout my body and the pain levels have been increasing again.  I choose to work through my pain in prayer and time with the Lord. Limiting what I do. Staying in more than going out and while dealing with my own health battles, helping our grandson through his.

He has come a long way in the past two years since being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He talks now. He is becoming very independent, but also very demanding. He is four. When he wants something, he wants it now. And even though he asks for something correctly and always says please, he does not understand when he is told no.  He tries again, to word it differently or even smile and say please and sometime’s the answer is still no. I know it must be confusing, because he is being polite, and saying please, but simply does not understand that even if you do everything right, sometime’s the answer will still be no.

So imagine being in such excruciating pain, that you do not want anyone touching you; let alone a four-year-old jumping on you, bouncing into you, climbing on you, but you don’t dare say no because you don’t want to make him feel unloved. He doesn’t understand what it means when I say “that hurts” or “please don’t do that”. And he loves to give big hugs, he loves deep pressure. He loves climbing behind me on the sofa and me leaning back on him, but all I want to do is cry because every amount of playtime for him is pain time for me. But I do it because this brings him comfort and joy. Love is powerful that way.

I left my home on Sunday to go to church. I needed that more than I knew. I didn’t realize how much I missed the interaction with others until I was there. I interact with people daily through social media and texting, but it just isn’t the same as being able to see smiles, receive hugs and just be loved on for simply being you. By the time, my husband and I arrived at the church with our grandson in tow, we were both emotional. My emotions were creeping near the surface, ready to spill out in the form of tears. My husband was frustrated because our grandson is a runner and any chance he gets, he bolts. Even though he had his safety harness on, and my husband was holding onto the strap, he wasn’t ready to go on a run with him.

And Tyson has learned that if we are trying to pick him up from the ground, and we want him to stand, all he has to do is bend his knees when we are lifting him and he becomes heavier to maneuver.  He is big for his age. He’s four, but weighs 50 pounds and is over three and a half feet tall. Carrying him for any length of time is strenuous to us “old” folks. Wrestling him into his car seat so we can go anywhere is an everyday battle. Once in the seat, he does ok, but getting him in the seat is a battle, every single time. And he has to be in a five-point harness because otherwise he would be climbing all over the vehicle and exploring.  Safety and danger are words he does not understand. He always wants to sit in a regular seat with just a seatbelt but we know that won’t happen until he is much older.

Walking into the church lobby, as we were greeted, the tears started welling up, and I just didn’t have the strength to hold them back or hide behind a pasted-on smile and pretend everything was good. I was tired. Tired of my own pains, tired of always struggling with Tyson when we need to leave the house. Tired of always being the positive one. We all have our breaking point. Yesterday was mine.  I know the devil will do anything he can to try and break me. For the past three weeks, I have opted not to leave the house on Sunday. I’ve made excuses, stayed home, watched our church’s live stream of the sermon and remain isolated because that was so much simpler than struggling with him to go anywhere. In doing that, though, I lost out on connecting with other people and being surrounded by people that love us through all our struggles; people that are compassionate and caring and offer to help in any way they can.

Sailing Life

I think for most of us that live with autistic individuals it’s not that we don’t welcome the offers of help or hope that someone will be willing to help, it’s that we don’t know what kind of help to ask for. Our home is “proofed” for him. We have specialized gates, taller than him to keep him safe and confined to an area of the home where there isn’t danger. We have learned not to have “pretty” things that he can break. We know if he is outside, he must always be (1) holding your hand tightly (2) have his safety harness on (3) be secured in his specialty stroller with a vest and five-point harness or (4) be in a fenced-in area where no escape is possible. We know he has food aversions and sensitivities. We must always have his emergency seizure medications at the ready and available. And the list goes on. Going anywhere, we must still take a change of clothes bag and appropriate necessities, because he isn’t potty trained yet. And if someone opts to take him for a few hours, what if he hurts himself, has a seizure, breaks something, gets sick. Yes, he is verbal now. Can he communicate everything he needs to? No.

The one thing I can offer to those willing to ask: please don’t stop asking. For me, it’s hard to ask for help for anything for myself, Tyson or our family. But I am learning to accept it. Accepting prayers from others is easy. I love to pray for others too. Accepting offers of helping with Tyson is getting easier, but I know how challenging his behaviors can be and I know that we never know from one moment to the next what he understands and what he doesn’t, but we do know he is very smart and intelligent in many ways. And letting go and accepting help may not be in my nature, but being part of a community of people that love us regardless of our challenges does truly make all the difference in the world.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now~right at this moment and always.

Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings until next time~Carlene

 

 

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How Did I Get Here?

The past few weeks, I have run the gamut of emotions. Some happy, some sad, mad and angry and some so mixed up I am not sure how to process them, so I sit and I read and I pray. I turn to the Father and seek His guidance. I converse with Godly counsel and friends that love the Lord as much as I do and ask for prayers and wisdom. Doing my best to discern what is from Jesus and what isn’t.

I grew up knowing Jesus. There was never a time in my life I didn’t know about Him or forgiveness, grace, mercy, and unconditional love. And even in my darkest moments, when all hope seemed lost, He was there. He has always been right beside me, His Holy Spirit dwells within me. And just so I don’t sound all high and mighty here, and keeping it real, sometimes knowing all that, I have still tried to figure stuff out on my own, and believe words spoken over me or people’s opinions that belittle me and not stand up for what I know to be TRUTH.  It’s easy to allow it to happen if you don’t remember WHOSE you are.

Life isn’t easy and Jesus never promised that it would be. But He did promise that He would always be with us. He would be our strength because His strength comes through in our times of weakness.

Philippians 4:13 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

In the past several months, I have had many moments where I just want to chuck in the towel and give up. And I hate that feeling.  Sleeping was easy. No problems for me to deal with, no solutions to come up with, no hurt feelings to soothe, just sleep. And that would be a pretty good plan if life didn’t keep moving on and every task for the day was done, but in my world, the real world, sleeping all day is not a healthy thing to do unless I’ve had a flare up with my fibromyalgia, or I am sick or I am so exhausted I just can’t take one more step. Meals need to be made, laundry needs to be done, errands need to be taken care of, family needs to be loved and appointments need to be kept, therapies to go to and the list goes on.

I am a positive person. No matter how bleak things appear or seem, I can always find a bright spot, a sliver of hope. Nothing can be as bad as it seems, and even when it is really as bad as it seems, I choose to trust in Jesus and God and know on faith that God will take the bad, tragic and sorrowful times of our lives and use them for good.  I’ve experienced it. And that’s a promise in His Word (Romans 8:28)

I have difficulty encouraging myself. Many times I just want to let someone else carry the load. I want a break. I need a break. I never imagined at 53, I would be where I am right now and yes, it could be a lot worse than what it is. When we are struggling in any given moment, it seems like it could be the worst low we have ever encountered. And crawling out of the deep dark hole isn’t as easy as it seems. In moments like this, I usually have to shift my perspective, and at times, I don’t want to. I’m tired. Emotionally, more than physically.

I hadn’t planned on being retired and spending most of my waking moments with only the people I live with. I love them, they are my family, but I am a people person. I love having conversations on a variety of topics, I love being challenged to do things I didn’t think possible.

This video from Mercy Me helps me get through some of my darkest moments. It reminds me where my Hope lies.

I didn’t realize that the extreme pain in my lower back would stop me from being able to live the life I so desperately want. And I am not talking about anything exciting or adventurous either. Simply to be able to go to the store, or take a walk more than 10 feet and have to stop and sit. It’s horrible having this continual pain. I hate thinking about it and living with it. I want to lose the burdensome weight I carry on my frame, but to do that I have to be able to exercise, along with eating right,  and while chair exercises are a start, they don’t do much for losing weight. Surgery to repair the damage from the degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine area is not option until such time as I lose a significant amount of weight and my circulatory problems improve. And there have been many loving suggestions from family and friends. I did consider bariatric weight loss surgery, but that would require at least 5 to 6 weeks of recovery with rest and I can’t even get a few days of uninterrupted rest let alone 5 to 6 weeks.

When I injured my knee and tore the meniscus I was told surgery was not an option because of my health and I felt in such a conundrum because if it was too high risk for surgery to repair my knee, why was it okay to have surgery for serious weight loss? It was safe for one but not the other??

Water exercise is great if you have a pool. But if you have to go to a pool, and pay for use, that can be quite costly living on a fixed income that is stretched as far as it will go. Feed your family, pay your bills or go exercise in a pool of water. It usually isn’t a hard choice to make. We have to have electricity, hot water, and food. We have to have a roof over our heads and we have to be able to take care of a little guy that can’t care for himself.

It’s the days when the pain is hard and other’s aren’t feeling well either, those are the most difficult to get through. But, I get through them. So thankful for Jesus. HE is the reason I have made it this far. I am still walking, slower than a snail, but I am walking. I think of the many things I have to be grateful for. I put on some worship and praise tunes, I make a list of who and what I am grateful for and yes, sometimes I sleep.  And ever so slowly, I find my way back to hope, encouragement, and realize everything I go through is just part of my journey.  What I deal with personally and what I go through, helps me to see life from different perspectives. I have been on both sides of the pain.  The times when my pain was manageable and the times when it nearly knocks me out of the game. I work through the depression, talking it out with loved ones, trusted confidants and Jesus.

Currently, I do not take medications for depression. I did at one time when the pain was so great every single day that I needed it. There may come a time when I will have to again, and if that time comes, I will do what I need to for me.

I think of the times Jesus was depressed. I think of the days before His crucifixion when He knew the pain He would endure and how sad and sorrowful he must have been. I think of Him being nailed to a cross and being suspended on that cross and I realize that no amount of pain I go through will ever compare to His. That image in my mind helps me. It helps me remember that my time on earth is temporary. This body I live in is temporary. One day I will have no more pain. I will cry no more tears of sadness, only tears of joy. Until that time comes though, I will minister to others the only way I know how and I will listen, comfort, share my thoughts and opinions and love the life I have. Part of growing in the Lord and living by faith is trusting in what we can’t see and believe in what Jesus has promised.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now in this moment~wherever you are. Jesus can turn any mess into a message of hope! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings my friends~Carlene

 

 

My Catherine the Great

Proverbs 31:11-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[a] with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[b]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates

She is beautiful inside and out.

She is loving and caring.

She is kind and compassionate.

She is fiercely protective of those she loves and cares about.

She is full of passion for what she believes in and always stands up for her beliefs.

She is strong and does not easily back down.

She is determined and does not quit, that is not an option and she will find her way around any obstacle in her path.

She is an artist with a flair for repurposing items that people see no value in. She brings old things back to life.

She is a great listener and works toward a solution, rather than complain about a problem.

She is an amazing mom of three college graduates who are changing the world around them.

She is a wife, a mom,  an aunt, a sister, and a daughter.

She is an emergency 911 dispatcher who works more hours than should be humanly possible. The first voice you might hear, full of calm and reserve as she manages 500 things at once.

She is a former school bus driver that loved her riders as if they were her own children.

She is an animal lover and considers them family, not just pets.

She never has enough time to take care of herself, she is always caring for others and burning the candle at both ends.

She is wise beyond her years and has seen many things most people will never have to see.

She is faithful and will celebrate 29 years of marriage this month to her loving husband.

She was a cheerleading mom and advisor when her daughter was school age.

She loves her community and has a great tribe that she holds dear and close to her heart.

But one of the best things she is…..she is my sister. And I love her with all my heart and soul. Today is her birthday. I don’t see her as often as I would like, but I hope she knows how very proud I am of her, her accomplishments, which are too many to mention. I know she is always a phone call away. Our family is very blessed indeed!

Cathy

Catherine, I love you sis and I pray that today your birthday will be all you hope for and more! You deserve it! Much love~Carlene

 

May you know how much Jesus Loves You-right in this moment-right where you are! Jesus can turn any mess into a message of hope. #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all!

 

 

 

 

Drowning

Psalm 143:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]

7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You, I entrust my life.

 

HelpMe

 

I am a strong person. I am told that all the time by my friends and family; even people I just met and have yet to form good relationships with. But what no one seems to realize is that I am strong, only because I allow Jesus to be my strength. My strength fails in comparison to that of Jesus.

I believe that all of us have an inner strength we are gifted through the Holy Spirit and it takes patience and requires a trust to tap into that inner strength.  It doesn’t come unless it is put to the test.  I know God will give me everything I need to succeed in every task I am given.  I know He will not set me up to fail. He is good. All the time.

Just as we can become physically exhausted and need rest and rejuvenation, I know my spirit can become emotionally and mentally exhausted and I also need to take time to rest and rejuvenate.  That type of rest and rejuvenation is different for everyone.  And I also know, for me personally, if I do not take the necessary time to rest and rejuvenate my spirit, I feel as if I am drowning and my Lifeguard walks on water, how insane is that? For me to feel as if I am drowning.

I am a “people” person. I am a nurturer, and if I must admit it, I want to be a “fixer” or “people pleaser”. Not in the sense that I have any skill or talent that I can fix anything because Jesus is the only one that changes the hearts and minds of people. I can only make suggestions based on my personal experience and observation.  I am much like my father, who loved being around other people and never met a stranger. I guess that qualifies me as an extrovert, personality wise. Striking up conversations with people, getting to know them, gaining a personal connection makes me come alive.

Knowing all of that, this morning hit me so hard, because as our sweet grandson wanted me to listen to him, about just one more vacuum and how cool they are, I became very frustrated and a little bit annoyed. I could care less, if I hear just one more thing about vacuums, truth be told.  I know I will hear about them though.  He can’t get enough, ever. And I know he can’t control those thoughts. Our brains are wired so differently. I only wanted to go back to bed and shut the world out for the day. Rest, listen to music and some podcasts, fuel up.

Taking time for myself, shouldn’t make me feel guilty or ashamed that I want some quiet. Some peace. And I shouldn’t have to feel bad if I don’t want to hear about it anymore. The guilt in my heart is from the world. Not God. It’s from the fixer in me, that says, “suck it up” you can make it through today, and tomorrow and the next day.

I wonder why we feel so guilty when we want to spend time with ourselves, no agenda or plan, just be. In the Word, God tells us to “be still and know that I am God”. Being still seems so unnatural now.  I used to love being still and days like today I miss those moments. Explaining that to anyone, usually brings a response of “what’s wrong?” And I want to know why does anything have to be wrong? Some days, everyone needs time to themselves, without having to leave the comfort and haven of their own home.

I feel guilty when I think of just me and my needs. How crazy is that? I know it is a very necessary need. I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I feel like I am letting people down if I am not doing everything considered necessary to keep life on an even keel, but I realized today that if I do not take the time for me, the ship will sink and we will all drown.

No one can be an effective teacher or role model in life if they don’t take time to just be.

So, as hard as it is for me, the person that likes to fix things, today I have to take time for me. Drowning, quitting, giving up these are not options. Resting should be the easiest task I have to do, but it’s so foreign to me, I am not sure what resting even looks like.  I guess I will have to keep working on the resting part.

Matthew 11:28 New International Version (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Lord Jesus, here I am. You know how weary I am right now. I claim rest in your name and praise you for being the Savior I need. Everyday. Thank you for taking my burdens and bearing them on the cross. Thank you for giving me life. Please help me find the balance I need to not feel so worn. In Jesus name, Amen.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! Right where you are at this moment in time.

He is always here for you, always! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

Making Memories & Learning

Philippians 4:13 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

Earlier today I realized as Tyson was dumping toy bins and playing, that in a week, he will be home all day long. And I started to panic, thinking about the messes and then someone reminded me that I need to look at things a little differently. Don’t look at it as just a mess, but making memories.  I know that’s how I should view it. It’s extremely difficult to remember that, all the time.

Tyson and Bee
Tyson playing with his musical bee

I started getting our learning materials in order so he can continue to expand and learn on concepts he is currently learning and maintaining some type of routine and structure so that when school starts back up in the fall, it won’t be so hard to get back into the swing of things. At speech therapy for the past several weeks, he is trying to learn the concepts “in” “out” “over” “under” “next to” “open” “close”. Asking where, what, and who questions are not as easy for Ty as we would hope, but each week he makes progress. Speaking the words are hit and miss. The word ‘in’ is easy. On and off are simple enough, because they are short syllable words. Last week, he finally could say the word open.  We have been working on the word open since he was 2 1/2. Using the sign with our hands as if we were opening a book and showing him what the ‘O’ sound looks like with our mouth.  What finally did it for him shows me and his speech therapist that all of our minds process words and sounds differently.  She had an ink pen and he was saying pen very well. She made the ‘O’ sound and then said pen-pointing to the pen. He finally got it and said ‘open’.  It took something so different for just that one word, but now he understands how to say it, what it means and the sign language for opening something. It’s been a long 11/2 years for him to understand.  Beginning and ending sounds are something he struggles with.  “V” comes out like “B”.

He fixates on two objects and will watch numerous YouTube videos of these objects. You will never guess in a million years so I will spare you the guessing game. #1-Vacuums #2-Ceiling Fans. Every time we go anywhere that has vacuum cleaners or ceiling fans, he wants to stop and look at them, check out all the details and if the ceiling fans are not turned on, he wants to know why.  I am not surprised by the ceiling fans. They spin and he loves anything that spins. Being obsessed with the vacuum cleaners has developed over time. He DOES NOT like when they are turned on. The sound is too loud and painful for him. He has noise canceling headphones that he wears when we have ours turned on at home, but he loves it so much when it is off, we literally have to pry it out of his hands. He will unwrap and rewrap the power cord as many times as we let him, sometimes for hours if we allowed it. We have learned when we are finished using the vacuum, it is put up right away, otherwise, a meltdown will occur and it may take hours before he is calm enough to talk to.  In the stores, we must avoid the vacuum cleaner displays or he cries and screams.  If they are unavoidable, we have learned the battle is not worth the outcome. We stroll down the aisle and let him see them, point out the colors, features and then we say goodbye.  I never thought in all my life, I would be talking to inanimate objects, but it makes him happy and keeps him calm.

When the weather is nice and not pouring rain, like it has done for the past several days, his mommy and her fiancée take him for walks in the neighborhood. He loves taking walks and playing outside. I miss being able to do this activity with him. I do have my walker with a seat on it, but it’s difficult to hold onto his harness and the walker at the same time. Somehow we will figure it out. Being outside, playing and walking, is not only healthy for him, but it helps to reduce the hyperactivity associated with the ADHD he deals with, along with the medications he is on. I hate the fact he has to be on medications, but for him to stay focused and not out of control, right now they are needed. I am very thankful for his AED medications. He hasn’t had a seizure for almost two weeks, which is great! Dealing with Epilepsy, I am learning is being ever vigilant because he has a mixture of different types of seizures and there is no trigger that we know of, at this time, so you never know when one will happen. AED is the abbreviation for anti-epileptic drugs. I often forget not everyone knows the terms or abbreviations I use.

Today was a good day for Tyson. He was excited when his bus picked him up this morning and played most of the afternoon, watched some videos and spun around until I was dizzy just watching him.

I know that we have to keep his mind entertained as well as having just good old-fashioned playtime.  Repetition is key for him learning and recalling things. He is very visually oriented and I have found a great site to get products from that will help him to learn in a fun way.  I love TheAutismHelper page on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you have Pre-K through 6th grade and love someone on the Autism Spectrum, I highly recommend checking out what she has to offer. There are many resources that I have purchased in the past, as well as some magnificent downloads for free.

I thank Jesus every day that he entrusted Tyson to our family and I pray daily that He will guide me and give me strength when it seems like too much to handle. I know that HE is my strength. Jesus will lead me and guide me, I just need to remember to listen and follow His lead.

children most important work

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right where you are at this moment!

#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

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

 

 

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