Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sticks and stones...

I can not stand what PEOPLE have done with the English language. I can NOT stand the way words are taken, given a new meaning or a negative connotation and then used to hurt others. I simply can not stand it.
You know that old saying, we all know it, we have all said it at some point, I'm sure!! " Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!" Usually said in a sing song voice, often by a child who then leaves the room to cry. What does God say about our words?
Proverbs 18:21 " Death and life are in the power of the tongue:"
Luke 6:45- " A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

Our words do hurt people, even those who seemingly don't understand. Three weeks ago, Gracie was called a retard. She didn't even hear it, and even if she had, she doesn't know what the word means. I know though. I knew what that child was implying about my little girl. It's in these times that as a parent, we have to just take it in and make it our secret hurt. My flesh wanted to take that child aside and give a little lesson on what the word means. My flesh wanted to find the child's parents and ask them why in the world their child is saying such hateful words!! Thankfully, this was one time that I could not let that flesh win, so I just took it. I realized last night though, that those words were sitting right on top of my heart. I didn't take Gracie back to the class that it happened in for three weeks. That's how the words hurt her. Though she had no idea what was said, she missed out on one of her favorite times of the week three times. In reality, that's MY failure, I know. I'm not mad at that child or the child's parents...just myself and the devil. Me for letting him get to me. And him, just because I hate him!!!
Recently, I posted this on Facebook- "If I could stand in front of an assembly of the entire world, I would ask for just one thing. Be kind. It's not that hard. It doesn't cost anything. We have no idea where that other person's life journey has taken them today. Or where they will go tomorrow. Just be nice. And when you're not, own up to it." I believe that. I attempt to live my life this way. We have no idea how a simple smile might change a person's day. We have no idea when the rashness of our tongue will impact one forever.  

My Gracie is a 4 year old little girl, CHOSEN by God to have the trial of this stroke, for HIS glory.

She can't sit still- but she CAN sit- To God be the glory!!
She can't hop on two feet like other kids, but she can do it one leg at a time- To God be the glory!!
She has to ask the same question over and over before she finally gets it, but she can speak-To God be the glory!!

Oh and by the way, the word retard is a verb...
 Did the stroke retard Gracie's development? Yes, of course it did!! Is SHE a "retard"? No. Simply put, she's a miracle.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ladies Tea

Yesterday, we had the 1st Lighthouse Baptist Church Ladies Tea!!  What a BUSY, fun day!! It started early, at around 4:30 am. Saturday's is bus visiting day, and I TRY to get up early and pray for all of our kids and workers on Saturday mornings. Then, we headed to the church for an extremely quick meeting and off we went. The tea was to begin at 1pm, so at 12 noon we had to wrap things up and head home. We got gussied up (as good as it gets in an hour) and off we went.
We arrived right on time and got our corsages. Gracie's promptly fell apart, LOL. She has inherited mommy's allergies, so that was probably for the best, anyway. The church looked absolutely beautiful. Some of the ladies lent out their tea cups and saucers and other antique items. 

We were served a very yummy lunch, which Gracie enjoyed much more than I had expected. Actually, she really enjoyed the melon and croissants, but hey, that's something!!

We then went upstairs for the wonderful teaching portion. Gracie didn't sit completely still the whole time, but neither did I!! Halfway through, she turned and asked me if Josiah was sick. I told her no and tried to explain to her quietly that he stayed home because it was just for ladies. She said "brudder usually comes to church with me though." About 10 minutes later, we were praying and she was fiddling around, so I told her to bow her head to pray. The next thing I know I heard:  "Jesus, help brudder get better so he can come with me to church. Amen."  No matter what you accomplish in life Grace, if you keep that loving heart, Mommy and Daddy will always be SO proud of you.
She didn't want to turn and look at me, but I just love the old fashioned effect of this picture!!
Dessert was yummy! Gracie tried the one with the green and cracked me up. It was mint, something her taste buds are just not ready for yet! However it was yummy to my adult taste buds....they all were. Hmmm, Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesday evening anyone?

After dessert, numbers were called and the winners got to take home one of the tea cups and saucers with a potted plant. Gracie was so excited when her number was called. However, she decided to give her prize to Miss Bea. Here they are together.

I might be biased, but isn't she beautiful?? (Both of them!)

Mrs. Hack gave Gracie another flower to give to her mommy. ***Life lesson 427- Always think of others when it comes to gifts. Mommy has much much more than she needs.
The theme was Precious Memories, and oh how precious every little memory is!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Opening the prison doors

That theater has been my own personal prison. Two years ago, I made the choice to go in there and shut myself in and not come out again. It's somewhat safe in here. I get to choose who comes in with me, I get to kick people out as I please. If the conversation turns to something I don't want to hear (like the word die), I can put my hands over my ears and chant "I can't hear you" over and over. This is my theater. It's comfortable here too. The seats are cushy, the programming is great (it revolves around my kiddo's-what's better?), and I even brought God in here with me. WHY LEAVE??

Somehow, recently, my good friend anxiety allowed the panic to start setting in again. It's been small doses, comparatively. My comfort level has been significantly diminished though. This time, I have seeked out some Godly counsel (novel idea, huh?). I embarrassed myself in front of about 50 of my closest friends a week and 1/2 ago- and decided right then, THIS MUST STOP. My mom is leaving for Florida in a week. I should be going with her. I love Florida. My kids love Florida. They love my Grandpa, and he's not getting younger. Gracie talks about my aunts that live down there like she sees them everyday. I want to go. Why am I not? Are you ready for the most RATIONAL thought I've ever had? There's something about going to Florida that makes Gracie sick. We had come home from Florida about 2 weeks before the stroke, and then we had JUST come home from Florida when she had the huge seizure last year. I know, I thinking is about as illogical as it gets. I KNOW this, I just can't get past the fear.

So, you've read this far and you're probably wondering why in the world I felt the need to blog about this! Well, first of all- I am a writer. This is what I do. I love to talk, but when  it comes right down to it, I would much rather write my feelings down than talk about them. Second, as I said before, I embarrassed myself in front of about 50 close friends a couple of weeks ago. What happened? Our church has a new outreach program called the Great Commission. The idea is to board one of the church buses and drive to a neighboring town and basically blitz the whole thing with tracts, witnessing and soul winning as the opportunity arises. I was SO excited for the first one. The church was supplying a nursery and everything. I packed the kids a snack, went to the church, and dropped them off in the nursery. I got on the bus, still excited as can be. By the way, I'm a bus worker. 
I ride the bus.
Every week. 
With lots of kids. 
They're loud.
Sometimes, they stink.
So, being on the bus was not going to be a problem for me. I got on, sat down, and suddenly couldn't breathe. I felt my chest tightening and feet burning, and thought "Are you kidding me?" I had to get off the bus, right then and there. I knew immediately what the problem was- I had no way to get back to that church if anything happened. we would be half an hour away, ON A BUS. I was fine just as soon as I was back in control of the situation, driving the car behind the bus. Not before I hyperventilated and about clotheslines our Pastor and associate pastor trying to get off it.

So, those are reasons one and two. Reason three? I'm not the only person that anxiety and panic happens to!! Believe me, I am in no way an expert on how to get rid of these things, but I thought I could share what has worked and is working for me.

1. I know I made light of this earlier, but it is no light thing. It's the most important thing in the world. Check your salvation. I'm not for making anyone doubt there relationship with Jesus, but please do know that you know that you know that you're saved.
2. Keep busy, but don't over extend yourself. I think this should just be a rule of thumb, but we all do it. Today was a big day for the ladies of our church, we had our very first Ladies Tea. We are also right in the middle of our HUGE spring bus program. I am involved in the bus ministry, I have personal stuff going on, I am now working a per diem job, and of course, I have my family. I made a conscious choice NOT to help with the tea, instead to just enjoy the day with my mom and daughter. Would I have liked to help? Of course!! However, there just wasn't the time or energy for me to do so.
3.Get enough sleep and exercise. I'm not going to say an exact number of hours of sleep, everyone is different. For me, I need around 6 hours at night to function completely normally. A tired brain is an over reactive brain.
4. Pray, praise and sing. It might sound cliche, but it works.
5. Know your triggers!! Obviously, my goal is to be "normal", but in the meantime, I'm not going to purposely put myself in situations I know will start my panic. Slowly work your way back to your "normal".
6. Arm yourself with the Word of God. I'm all for Bible memorization, but in this case, I am going to suggest finding one verse that fits you and helps you. Memorize it. Write it down and carry it in your purse, put it on your dashboard, etc. Using just one or two verses over and over is not only comforting, but it also helps keep you from becoming overwhelmed. My verses are Isaiah 54:7, 8 "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer." and Psalm 27:13, 14
"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."

I will conclude with that, but I will update on how I'm doing with my anxiety. Thanks to all who take the time to read this, and especially pray for us. I love you all!

Pitch black

In July of 2009, life came barreling at me full force like a locomotive out of control. One of my very favorite songs goes, "My life Lord, is Yours to control." Well, as a joke, I started to sing "My life Lord, is out of control." Things were happening left and right, and I truly had no control over any of it. I am a self confessed CONTROL freak! Unfortunately, the panic attacks came back during this time. They came back with a vengeance. I had the very worst one to date in the summer of 2009. I was sitting in my parents living room, nursing 5 month old Josiah. Suddenly, my ears began to ring and my arms felt like they were on fire. I had no idea what was going on, it felt like a heart attack.I yelled for my mom to come get him, and I tried to go outside. Before long, I was completely hyperventilating. My head hurt so bad I thought I might be having a stroke, yet my chest was so tight I knew for sure I was having a heart attack. My mom called 911, and when the ambulance got there, the men thought I was having a drug overdose!! They kept asking me what I had taken and I kept telling them just some Tylenol. Then I couldn't get into the ambulance, the thought of being stuck in there almost killed me. That's when one of the men took someone aside and said " I think she might be having a panic attack. She needs to go get checked out though." Sure enough, that's what it was. I did go to the hospital, and they suggested a slew of drugs. I politely declined, although I did take the Benadryl, seeing as I was itching so bad that I was quite afraid I might be left with no skin!!

The panic attacks once again followed the same pattern. That one was the worst of the worst, and then slowly but surely they settled down again. Strangely enough, I had only one true panic attack after Gracie's stroke. It was three days later, and the neurosurgeon had come in and told me she would be having the shunt replaced within the next couple of days. I had not yet left the hospital. My mom told me to go over to the RMH, play with Josiah and take a little nap. I did just that, and I fell sound asleep nursing him. When I woke up, he was twitching beside me. Just a little infant spasm. I immediately thought he was having a seizure and then I was immediately and completely convinced that I had rolled on him (even though I woke up a good 2 feet away on the bed). I can remember picking up the phone and calling my mom at the hospital, screaming and crying. By this time, Josiah was completely awake and perfectly fine. It had finally hit me though, that my baby girl had had a stroke. That she was lying in a hospital room, hooked to every machine imaginable, in a coma. She had to be on top of a pretty much freezing cold blanket, and yet she was still burning to the touch. The truth of the situation hit me like rough waves of the sea, and I fell on my knees and wailed like an animal. I had no choice but to just force myself to regain my composure and go back to the hospital, I had Josiah. So, that's what I did. I swept the gigantic purple elephant in my life back under the rug and went back to the hospital.

The panic attacks actually got better after that though. I realize now, it's because instead of a once in a while burst of panic, I became generally anxious all the time. Anyone who has followed this blog knows the struggles I had after Gracie came home. Yes, my fears were normal and somewhat justified (in our human minds)- BUT they are just that...FEARS. Fears that should have been dealt with inside of me. I've been living this past year and a half in a world separate from everyone else. Oh, I do my best to be happy and joyful, and most of the time my happiness is real. I still live in my own little shell of a world though, that world where in my quiet moments I sit and wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. It's like living inside a darkened theater. When a person first walks in, she stumbles to find a seat. It seems PITCH BLACK. Before long though, our eyes adjust to the darkness, and it seems normal. Well, somewhere along the way, I adjusted to this darkness inside me, and it began to just feel normal. Every so often though, someone will come in or out of the theater, and the light will stream in. In those moments, I'm reminded that I'm still in here, with the lights turned dim, hiding away in my little theater.
                                              To be concluded....

Friday, May 6, 2011

When darkness falls, part 2

  That night in the parking lot, I had my first of many panic attacks. Now, some of you might be laughing right now. Some of you might think that panic attacks are just a weakness. I've heard it all. "You had better pray more." "Check your salvation." ( Like the song says, I was there when it happened, I ought to know.) My favorite one ever- " Jesus lives inside you, you're making him have a panic attack right along with you. " Thanks. Now I have panic attacks and major guilt. LOL. During this time, darkness really fell on me. It was like a black cloud that just hung over me. I tried everything I could to get rid of that overwhelming sense of complete helplessness and hopelessness. I read the Bible, (I actually read the entire Bible out loud to Gracie by the time she was 3 months old, LOL) I read other good books, I prayed, I cried. I didn't talk much about it though. I never allowed myself to think about all of the possibilities. I kept up appearances too. I always knew that people would visit us at the NICU on Saturday's, so I would make sure and brush my hair and teeth and get out of my pajamas that day. I will never forget the day our Pastor's wife came to visit me on a Tuesday evening. She is a busy mom, and that was the only day she had that week. She walked in, took one look at me and said, "You ARE human!!" I was in a ratty old jean skirt, my college sweatshirt that has seen many better days, my hair was thrown in a pony tail, and worse of all- I had been crying. Over the past 2 years, I've gotten much better about crying in front of people, but I HATE to do it. Hate it!! When I cry, the whole world knows. My eyes get red, my nose is like a clowns, and I make the most awful noises.

So, it was in those days that the panic attacks started. We had to leave the hospital every night. I would walk around the house, trying to find something to do, trying to make an hour pass so I could call and check on her. As days went by, I would let 2 hours go. We worked our way to three hours by time she was about 8 weeks old. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I would call and the phone would just ring and ring. The nurses do the "busy work" at night, weighing the babies, giving baths, etc. I knew this, but again, rational thought did not exist at that point. I immediately thought that there was something wrong with MY baby. They knew it was me on the phone and didn't want to tell me. Crazy right? My heart would start to beat like crazy. So hard I could hear it. Then my legs would start to tingle and before long actually burn. Next would start the itching. My whole body would itch to the point where I would scratch and make myself bleed. This would continue until I could finally get in contact with someone at the NICU. This continued for the months she was in the hospital. Then, like a magic wand was waved over me, Grace came home and my panic attacks stopped. Just like that.
                                           To be continued...again!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

When darkness falls

I've never been one that was afraid of the dark. I can remember packing two or three face masks with me when I left for my first year of college. Every night, I would turn off every light I could, put a face mask on, put my little satchel of lavender junk over the face mask and go to sleep.

When John and I first married, we would have many late night "quarrels" over darkness. He would get up to get a drink, go to the bathroom, or eat a bowl of cereal at 3 am (who does that?)- and LEAVE the lights ON. I'm talking the hall light, the dining room light, the kitchen light. He could be as quiet as a mouse and yet still wake me up because of all the bright lights! He'd come back in our room and I'd remind him to turn off the lights and he'd always say" but I'm already back in bed!." It became a little joke with us...."John can sleep on a dime, Michelle needs the home sublime."

Then came Gracie. I was in the hospital with her for three nights, because I had a rough birth, they made me stay that extra night. Then the most unnatural thing in the world happened- we went home and left our beautiful baby behind. I can remember walking in the door that first night, and walking around our tiny upstairs apartment. The first thing I did was gather all of the phones we owned and put them on the stand in front of me. I was not allowed to sleep in my own bed for two weeks, because they didn't want me rolling. So, to the couch I went, feet propped up and the house phone, my cell phone, and John's cell phone right in front of me. John would sleep in the uncomfortable chair or on the floor in front of me, just to be in the same room. That first night, I got as comfortable on the couch as I could and John walked through the house and turned lights off. He got to the last lamp, at the end of my feet, and I started to hyperventilate. I mean, full out, breathe in a paper bag, hyperventilate. "Turn it back on, turn it back on!!" I cried/yelled to John. He turned it on and sat down on the couch with me. I curled up next to him, and fell asleep crying, clutching the phone in my hand. Thus began my fear of the dark. From that night forward, I have slept with some sort of light on. It doesn't need to be a bright light, or even a night light....just some kind of light. Darkness fell on me in that moment, and I allowed it to have it's very grip on me for quite some time. I remember the very moment that I realized I was in his power. We had left Gracie for the evening nursing switch, and I couldn't find my parents. (We sold our car 2 days before she was born. We had planned to buy a new one, but then we just didn't have the time.) They were going to take us home. I called my mom's cell, and she didn't answer. I was sure that something had happened, the nurses couldn't get through to my cell, and so they had called my mom. Completely irrational thinking, I realize. I stood there in that parking lot and BEAT on my poor husband. Just like something you see in a movie. He stood there and took it, and when I finally got it all out, he held me tight as I cried and cried. Then we saw the lights of the car, coming toward us- I looked up and felt blinded. I'd like to say I won a victory in that moment, but I did not. My daughter's entire NICU stay was one struggle after another, and many times, I allowed the darkness to win in my heart.
                                               To be continued....
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