A Mother’s Journey

August 3rd, 1999 I was a young girl of only 23 years old, I was forced to take a pregnancy test. Somewhere inside I already knew I was pregnant, but I did not want to really acknowledge it at the moment. I was engaged to be married and my wedding was only three weeks away. I wanted to get through the wedding first and then deal with the pregnancy later. There were good intentions behind having me take the test, they thought they were doing the right thing, but really all they  did was take a special moment away from me and the father of the baby I knew I was carrying.jeremiah-29-11 Whatever the case I found out I was carrying my first child on this very day. I was scared and overjoyed at the same time if that makes any sense. Yes, I was 23 years old, a woman, right? Well yes and no, by the standards of the world I was a woman, but I was still just a child. I always wanted to have children, but I thought I would be married and stabled before expecting. This was not the case, I was engaged and had a crappy job at the time. I had no real idea what I wanted for my future, but you know what God did know. Jerimiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you… plans to give you hope and a future.” At the time I did not have a clue what was in store for me, looking back at it now it is all so clear.

The weeks and months past and I watched my tiny physique change into a full figure woman, my breast swelled, and my once small abdomen grew to occupancy the baby that was growing inside me. I was 95 lbs. when I became pregnant, by the time I was ready to give birth I was 168 lbs. that was a huge change for a person only 4’9 ¾. I had a normal pregnancy, nothing out of the ordinary, the birthing process normal. I actually find myself lucky; I was only in labor for about 12 hours, relative little pain (I had an epidural). At around 5:45 am, March 16, 2000, I became a mother to a little boy. He weighed 6 lbs. 10 oz. and 19” long. He was perfect. His father and I named this little man, Austin Dakota. I was in awe, God gave me a perfect little baby.Austin newborn 2000

Now, what, for nine months I carried him in my womb and I cared for him internally. What do I do now, he is this tiny little human that I have to care for, keep him safe and teach him right from wrong. Wow, how overwhelming. Do you know why most people start with babies and not teenagers, the simple reason is when someone has a baby, they are baby parents; fresh, new to the whole game of parenting. When most people have babies, they grow alongside with the baby. Mistakes will happen. I was a new mom. I relied on help from family and friends that have already gone this what I am going through.

Austin was an easy baby, he actually slept longer than most babies, and he was easy going until about six months old. Something changed, it is hard to explain. He began crawling and when playing with his toys I would notice behavior changes. Most children this age would not bother with a toy if it did not work, they would just crawl away or find something else to play with; right? Not Austin, he would get angry and throw the toy against the wall. Needless to say, the toy would really be broken then. More than likely the toy just had a dead battery or maybe even turned off. This is not the only behavior change I saw, but again he was only 6 months old.

Time past and he grew into a toddler, a rambunctious child. He was a handful, but at the same time, I chalked it up to the terrible two’s. This behavior continued I consulted doctors, all they would say is that it was “kid fashion” and he was a boy and he would grow out of it and eventually calm down. I, a young mother took what they said as truth and learned to cope with the constant chaos. As he aged, three, then four, and then five I saw him grow worse and more outburst were to follow. It was time for his kindergarten physical and I was tired and at my wit’s end. I was upset and finally asked the doctor, “when is he going to grow out of this behavior. He is not getting better, he is progressively getting worse.” I was pretty upset, I really just did not know what to do. On that day I finally had a doctor listen to me and decided to go further and dig deep into these issues I was having with my son. I needed answers, I had two other children that I was concerned about as well. I had a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old as well, and many times bipolarI was afraid of them playing together. I feared what Austin would do if he became angry. The doctor took down family history, evaluated him for ADHD, and started him on a very small dose of medication (Hydroxyzine), in hopes to at least calm him down some. As the doctor asked questions, and it became rather clear that there was more going on than just ADHD. At age five years old it was determined that not only did he have ADHD, but he was diagnosed as having pediatric bipolar. What exactly is pediatric bipolar, it is virtually the same as regular bipolar expect with children that have pediatric bipolar disorder are characterized by abrupt mood swings, periods of hyperactivity followed by lethargy, intense temper tantrums, frustration and defiant behavior. I finally had answers to my questions, Was I satisfied, to a point, yes, but then I had more questions that needed answers. How was I supposed to deal with this behavior if I did not know what it really was? At this time, 2005, there was little information about this disorder. I was told by many I was just looking for something wrong with my child. It was even suggested by one doctor that I was suffering from  Munchausen syndrome by proxy.   What?  I was shocked, I did not even know what this was at the time.  Munchausen syndrome by proxy is for those that may not know as I did not years ago is  a psychological disorder marked by attention-seeking behavior by a caregiver through those who are in their care. I was a mother who was concerned with what could be wrong with my child and I was accused of this psychological disorder.  Please do not  mistake this as a way of looking down on those that may suffer from this, because it is  real  and serious disorder, but I did not nor do I have this disorder.

Once we received the diagnosis we began a regime of medications and therapy options. In school, he started receiving an Individualized Education Plan, (IEP) If you are unfamiliar with an IEP I will briefly explain, An Individual Education Plan, commonly referred to as an IEP, is a document that is designed to help a disabled child receive a quality education that he or she would not otherwise receive. I was new at all of this and decided that this would be a good plan to help my son succeed in school. I would not say this was a totally bad idea, but looking back now I feel I could have made the teachers be more strict with him instead of coddling him. I will get back to this later on. I loved my son, and I wanted what I thought was best at the time.

Around this same time I decided I wanted to go back to school and earn a college degree, I had always wanted to go to college, but I never really knew what I wanted to study. With all this happening to my son and me not really understanding I wanted to learn more about this disorder. I chose to study Child and Adolescent psychology. I began to learn a whole lot more than I bargained for, I had no idea that there was so much out there. I had always been fascinated with the brain and chemical makeup of the brain. This just fed me more knowledge and I was loving it.

Time passed and medicine was working and he was able to be a kid, he had his moments, but what kid does not. Like everything else, things change and change quickly. At age 8 I started seeing changes in his behavior again, he was becoming aggressive. He was actively seeing a psychiatrist and medicine was being administered, but it just did not seem like it was working. Was I a mother that wanted a perfect child, no, I just wanted a child that could follow directions, be still when needed and not be violent. Was that too much to ask? Months passed and there was no real change. His doctor decided it would be best to admit him into the hospital for behavioral disorders. What? Did it really get that far? I did not know what to do or how to react. I came home from the appointment and I told my husband what the doctor said, and with a clearer mind, he said to pack his bags.

What an unbelievable pain and uncertainness I had that evening when I filled out the paperwork and had to explain to an 9-year old that he had to stay and not go home with his parents. This would mark his first hospital stay, yes I said first, there will be more to come on this journey. If you have never been where I was that night, you will never truly understand the difficulty it was to leave my little boy and go home. My heart ached and I felt sick, was I doing the right thing? I did not talk much on the way home, nor did my husband. It was rough, and emptiness left lingering without his presence, yet oddly I was relieved at the same time. How horrible was I as a mother to feel relief? We were able to visit him every other day and were allowed to attend one family counseling session. He seemed to be fine and said he was learning a lot of stuff. After about a week he was ready to return home, but was he really ready or was it the fact that insurance would not allow it any longer. He came home with a set of coping skills and new medication. This time the doctor put him on Depakote, Remeron, (for his bipolar) and Vyvanse for his ADHD. What a difference at first, he began to do better in school, in social activities (yet he still did not like crowds), he was interacting with his siblings better and all seemed to be going well. Almost a year to the day of the last visit we would be going there again, he had a breakdown, began swing at me and being very aggressive. What happened? Bipolar happened. This is what this disorder does, one moment you are calm and the next you are manic. We headed back to the hospital again. This time he was 10 years old. This stay was much like the last and after a week he was back home again. Same medicine, different dosage, nothing else.

Frustration, I knew as a mother I needed more for him, but what could I do? I was determined to do better. I continued to study and my plan was to work with children/adolescents and their families to help them with their child’s issues. I was still pretty far away from a degree, but I had an avenue of where I was going.

Austin was 10 years old, 4th grade and growing. I was stressed out, I tried keeping him busy, we were in boy scouts, I was a den leader, we were active in church and school. All three kids were in sports as well. I did whatever I thought would help him socialize. It worked, but again only temporary. In 2012 our whole world changed, when a situation occurred that made a huge impact in all of our lives. If you have read any of my other blogs you will know this is the time I found out my husband was having an affair. This really affected Austin, he was 12 years old and knew what was going on. The instability of what was going to happened did not sit well with this preteen. There was a lot of changes and he could not handle it at all. I was a wreck and was not any good to anyone either. My depression spiked and my anger was released and it just was not a good time to be in my world. Tension arose and tempers were high. Anxiety was off the charts and I was beside myself on what I could do. Everything he knew was falling apart.

This same year I decided that it would be best for the kids and me to move to Illinois. I was from Illinois and I needed a fresh start. It was difficult at first, but I knew in time it would be what was needed. I went to my hometown and set up, waited for the kids to arrive. I was excited about the change and I hoped the kids would like it too. Sometimes change is great sometimes it is just what you need to refresh and gather yourself. The kids arrived and we started our new life, in a comfortable, yet uncomfortable setting. The summer was slow, the kids did not know anyone, but soon school would start and I had high hopes that this would be a good thing for my children.

Wrong, again. Well not totally wrong, but it was not great at first. Austin got picked on as most new students do, but with his issues, this made it worse. He went psycho on many of the other students there. He gained a reputation that followed him the rest of his school days. Seventh grade passed, 8th grade came and went, by this time his father rejoined the family and things calmed down a little. He entered high school, he was getting bigger and stronger and the medicine just was not as effective any longer. All the doctors would do was just add more dosages. This up and down roller coaster really had me maxed out. I was so stressed. My husband was back with the family, but things were still just not right. I did not have anyone to talk to about this, no one that really understood. “Here I am, not trying to have this all on me, my son is struggling and I am whining about my own problems. I do not matter”. This is how I felt so I did not seek help for myself, I just wanted my son to be okay. This put stress on the whole family, and by the time Austin was a sophomore in high school his father left again. Leaving another gaping hole in our lives. Austin began to really act out in class, getting detention, and suspensions. There was total chaos in the house and at school. It was affecting my job and the household. Austin began threatening his brother and even threaten to kill himself in front of his brother and sister. I had to call the cops on him at one point. This was a very dark point in my life. I am his mother, why can I not help him. I was powerless in this situation. By this time I had finished school with not only a BS in Psychology, plus an MA in Human Service Counseling and I could not help my son.

Just before Thanksgiving Austin was admitted to the hospital again, this made three times. This time we had to go 3 hours away for him to find an empty bed. There was no coming back for visit, he was there until they released him. Almost two weeks later he was home, but he was expelled from school and sent to an alternative school to finish out his high school years. Not really how I had planned his life to go.

In 2016 Austin was a junior in high school, he was striving in his new school, he was happy and making friends, his father returned home once again, and things settled down. 2018, he started his Senior year, and this triggered something and he began to slide backward again and deeper than ever before. I am positive that he was scared to grow up and scared of the responsibility that he would soon have to endure. Apparently, during this time he was beginning to see things that were not there and hearing voices. He did not share this information with us right away, he chose to keep this from us. His behavior was really out of control and one week before he turned 18 we once again had to put him in the hospital. This time because he was suicidal and homicidal. He said the voices told him to kill himself, that he would not be missed and that no one liked him anyway. He said that he did not want to kill us himself, but if we should perish he would not care at all. This was very disturbing. My own son was saying these awful things. He stayed in the hospital for the typical week timeframe and was sent home with new medicine and counseling. He was given a different diagnosis, he is now Bipolar II with schizoaffective disorder.

He managed to graduate from high school, but he has changed. In the month since he graduated he has stated vaping and acting out. He is wearing dark eyeliner and dresses in black all the time. I have noticed cut marks on his skin, and he has stated more than once that he does not want to live any longer. He is extremely unhappy and lost.

I am concerned by his behavior, as many know from my other post, I am a Christian and I have raised my children up in church and tried to instill Christian values in their lives. I value my relationship with Jesus and I always wanted my children to have the same kind of relationship that I have, and for a while, I thought that Austin did. footprints.He would take his Bible to school, tell others about God, go to church every chance he got, and he even attended a men’s bible study. He showed it all over himself, and now suddenly he graduated from high school and does not want to go to church and quit reading his Bible. I, at first took it as a being an 18-year-old boy trying to assert his independence, many kids do this when they become “adults”. He revealed to me not too long ago that he does not believe any longer and that he blames psalmsGod for his issues. I try to explain to him that God puts challenges on us and I cannot really explain to him why he was handed down so many obstacles in life. God will ever put more on you than you can handle, but at times it feels impossible to get through. This reminds me of the famous poem, “Footsteps”.  Just when you think God has left, he is not only there, but he is carrying you through the rough times.

This is very difficult for me as his mother, mothers are supposed to make their babies feel better, and I cannot do anything to help him. I also feel helpless, I have a master’s degree in psychology and I cannot make my son feel better. I know it is impossible to counsel your own family because you are biased and cannot see the underlining problems, but it still hurts. I get so stressed and worried and that my depression spirals as well. I have nobody I can confide to about what I am feeling. No one I know understands what is truly going on in my life and what I deal with on a daily basis. I am left to deal with all the chaos and unstableness. It is very stressful. I try to keep in mind the things that I told my son, about God not putting more on you than you can handle. I need to practice whatimage5 I preach and believe that God is there for me too. If God sends me to it, he will see me through it. I know deep down that he is there for me and Austin, but some days are difficult. It does not matter what age your children are, nobody wants to bury them.image4

Austin has good days and on these days he is silly and fun to be around, but in a moments notice he can spiral and be angry or sad. It is exhausting. My journey is far from over, even though my son is 18 years old. I will always be worried about him and I will always be there too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Struggle is Real

13137040In my weekly bible study, we have chosen the book, Made to Crave, Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, not Food, written by Lysa Terkeurst. We all agreed upon this book because we have all struggled with our weight for years, and we together are on a weight-loss journey. We want to eat healthier and of courses lose the much-needed weight.  We have only begun, I read the introduction last night and just in the few pages it really hit me hard.  If someone would have told me twenty years ago that I would struggle with my weight I would have said they were crazy, why because I never had an issue with weight in the past.  My struggle with weight began after I had my first child, before that I never had to worry about what I ate or how much (not that I ever ate a lot anyway).

As a child I was sufficiently underweight, I did not eat much at all. I was very picky, no matter what my parents tried to do to get me to eat. I remember falling asleep at the dinner table several nights because I was not allowed to get down until I ate my vegetables.  I hated vegetables, I am still not a huge fan of them today. Eventually, my mother would get tired of fighting me on this matter, but I was around 16 or so and she let me make my own decision.  When I graduated high school I was 88 lbs., keep in mind I was only 4’9 so I was tiny all around. I never had to worry about what I ate, cake, candy, cookies- SWEETS! Until I became pregnant with my first child.  I was a whopping 95 lbs. at the start of the pregnancy, but by the end, I was 160. To many, this may not seem like a lot but remember I was only 4’9 and I started at 95 pounds. I accepted this because I felt it was normal I was having a baby. Naturally, I would gain weight. It was after my son was born is when the issues truly began. I found I could no longer eat like I had in the past.  While pregnant, I did eat some veggie cause I knew it was important for the baby, but I hated it all the way.  After the birth, I tried going back to the way I was accustomed to eating, but I could no longer do so and be skinny.  It was horrifying. I could not lose weight like I naively thought I could. Seriously looking back, how could I have lost any weight. I did not eat healthily, nor did I exercise. What?  I had to eat properly and exercise, no way that was happening. I despised exercising, and I still hated veggies.

I struggled for a long while with this issue, so one day I decided to stop drinking regular soda and went to diet ( this was before the whole aspartame issue) and went from regular Oreos to low-fat ones. I know daring right? Well, it did work, I lost 10lbs in the first month, but (why is there always a but) it did not last because I still was not exercising or eating right.  I could not wrap my head around this concept, so for the next few years, I fluctuated with my weight.  Then I became pregnant with my second child, starting weight 120; ending at 140. Not too bad right, well sad news there, before my second son was two months old I found myself with child again. I did not even have time to lose the baby weight, and I am pregnant again. I will be totally honest with you all, I cried. I believe I was in denial for a while and I cried for like two weeks. I was a mother of two small boys ages two and newborn, I did not want to be pregnant again.  Obviously, there was nothing I could do about it, what’s done is done. After the shock, I embraced it and my husband and I prepared to be a family of five.  Anyway, back to the weight, I started off at 140 and ended at 180. YIKES! The heaviest I ever was, EVER.   I was like okay I got this, I will just stop eating so much and chasing two toddlers will especially help right?  I did lose some but I continued to struggle.  Through the years I would lose a little, then gain it back.  Now I am 41 and find it even harder to lose.

I do eat a little healthier now, however, I still find myself drawn to those darn sweets. I do exercise more now, but the weight is just not coming off. My husband and I are doing this together and he has lost almost twenty pounds, and I have lost a measly 3pounds. UGH.  Not fair right.  So, when my bible study ladies brought up this book study I was all in; without hesitation.

Lysa, like many of us women, struggles with eating healthy and doing what is right. In her book, she will talk about her struggles and how she found her “Want To”. She states that she has read many books about healthy eating and losing weight, it is not the “how to” it is the “want to” She is not specifically talking just about a healthy physical life, but she is speaking about spiritual life as well. Many of us are all Spiritually malnourished, Lysa said, We feel overweight physically but underweight spiritually.”

I know, I for one am having the issue with the “want to,” I want to, but do I WANT TO?  The desire is not fully there. I go to bed every night telling myself I am going to get up earlier and go for a walk in the morning, and every morning I hit that snooze button instead. I tend to value my sleep more.  I want to eat healthier, but when I grab a snack I grab nonhealthy rather than healthy and than I get mad at myself.  I also have frustration on my side, I have been walking with my husband in the evenings and we take the same route every day, but I seem to get winded and have a hard time with the walk. I should not be like this, I should be used to it by now. I feel I hold my husband back and that he is not getting the full benefit of the exercise because of me. This makes me want to back off more and just say forget it, but deep down I know I should keep going. Plus I enjoy the time together as we walk.

I am hoping and praying that this bible study will help me breakthrough my issues and get my desire back. The Struggle is so Real.

Now on to chapter one.

 

When the Bond of Marriage is Broken

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Marriage is a bond that God created between a man and a woman, he designed marriage to be a lasting covenant and make two fleshes into one (Genesis 2:24). gen-2-24-husbandwifehandsrings1  I was raised in a home where marriage has a long history, my parents have been married for 46 years, my grandparents were married for 55 plus until death separated them. On my father’s side, there were multiple people that were married many years until death parted them.  My sister and her husband have been married for 24 years and my husband and I have been married 18 years.  I value marriage a great deal. My marriage has not been perfect, quite the opposite.  My marriage has been riddled with adultery and separation, but I refuse to give up.

What happens when the bonds of marriage are tainted with adultery? Depend on how strong your relationship with God is and how strong your love is for your spouse?  There is no wrong or right way to deal with adultery; it’s just like a death in the family, everyone deals with it in their own way.  This happened to me several years back, my husband was being unfaithful and I was devastated. I was lost to what to do, it was one of the most difficult times in life.

Looking back now, I see it more clearly than I did then. Deep down I knew something was wrong, but I put in the back of my mind and tried to not think about it.  I was still in college and I did not have a job, I only substituted as a teacher. I had three children, and at the time they were still young. What was I going to do, so I acted as if there was nothing wrong.  Until that dreadful day that God threw a brick at me and made me wake up.  It was January 2, 2012, what a way to start the new year.  I could no longer pretend that there was nothing wrong, the love of my life was sleeping with another.  I was heartbroken.  In the weeks to come, I did nothing but cry I was not any good to anyone.  The kids and I went to stay at my mom’s for a while, and all I remember is doing is crying a lot. I could not sleep cause when I closed my eyes I saw my husband with her.  I blamed myself,  told myself I was a horrible wife that is why this happened. Rethinking everything in our relationship, did I complain too much, did I not clean the house like I should? I knew I was a bad cook but did all this cause him to not love me anymore?  What did I do wrong?  This was the cycle I was in, I believe this lasted  a while  then one day I woke up and realized, it was not me, it was him.

This experience led me closer to God, I had fallen away a little and this was his way of drawing me in closer again. Why does God have to be so dramatic, because if he isn’t  we will not listen? I believe he gave me subtle hints in my husband’s  behavior, but I  ignored them. Finally, he gave me something I could not ignore.  As I began my journey, I began to realize that I could not fix my marriage until I fixed me.  I prayed a lot, I prayed for my marriage, my kids and my salvation.  As time passed I felt I was getting closer once again to my heavenly Father. Did my marriage become whole automatically, um no? I was still separated from my husband, and he was still with her, but remember I could not fix my marriage until I fixed me, I continued to pray.  I never gave up.

I dedicated my time to my children and church and began rebuilding a life without my husband, in hopes that he would rejoin our family. Eventually, he did, but that is a whole different story.  One day I will tell that one.

What does God say about adultery?  Well Obviously adultery is a sin, however, history has been filled with infidelity. Looking back all the way to the Bible, there was David and Bathsheba. David spotted Bathsheba one morning and asked about her, he was told her name was Bathsheba and that she was married to Uriah, a soldier. David did not let this bother him or stand in his way. He sent for her to come to him.  When Bathsheba became pregnant with David’s child he panics and tried to cover up the sin (2 Samuel 11), the problem is you cannot hide from God. That has been known since Adam and Eve, after eating the forbidden fruit they covered tier bodies and hid from their wrongdoing Genesis 3:8). Just like with Adam and Eve, God knew what David had done and he was not pleased.  In the end, God forgave them all, but not without consequences. There are always consequences to every action taken.

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In the bible, the book of Hosea is filled with adultery. Hosea’s wife, Gomer was a promiscuous woman, she had multiple affairs and each time Hosea was commanded by God to bring her back. Many believe this is a correlation to the love that God has for Israel, no matter how many times they walk away from God, he still loves them and will always welcome them back (Hosea 3:11).

I am not in any way saying I condone what my husband did, I am still hurt by it and there are still trust issues. addtext_com_MTE0NDE5MjE1MDQ5Even though we are together again, the heart will still have scars and they do not heal. They are visible reminders of the hurt, as long as we trust God we will be alright.

Keep faith, pray for your marriage everyday, and remember do not let man separate what God has designed (Mark 10:9).

 

 

Marriage, Year 18

IMG_9586Today, 18 years ago, I said: “I Do”. It was a hot summer day in late August. What was I thinking, and to top it off it was in Charleston SC. The venue that we choose was a beautiful little chapel in the downtown section of Charleston. We were young and had no clue to what God would have in store for us in the future. All we knew was that we loved each other and felt that God put us together for a reason.

The weekend started off with family and friends coming in from out of town and the weather was just gorgeous, my best friend and her boyfriend came in from Illinois and wanted to go to the beach. The four of us went to the beach the day before the wedding, looking back now that was probably a mistake; or maybe the mistake was not having sunscreen. Whichever, Todd and I got so burned that we glowed. The next day when it was time to dress for the wedding, my pretty ruffle dress hurt my skin. I could barely walk let alone bend over and get my shoes on. I managed with as little pain as possible, and we left for the chapel.
As we were traveling down interstate 26 we encountered a traffic accident, that was causing a delay of course. All I could think about was that I was going to be late to my own wedding. We ended up getting there in the nick of time, I arrived at the chapel entered the back and waited for the music to begin. I was so nervous my body was literally shaking, I thought I was going to faint right there. My dad took me by the arm and away we went down the aisle. It was not a very long walk, but to me, at the moment I felt I was walking miles. I looked up and saw my family and friends all looking at me as I was shakily walking down the aisle; wondering if I was going to trip and make a spectacle out of this whole thing. I saw my groom standing there smiling and a glow from his eyes sparkled. I knew what I was doing was the right thing, I was just so nervous. The ceremony was perfect, we said our vows in front of family, friends, and God. I meant them then, and I still cherish the vows I took. I work hard daily on my marriage, some days it is hard as hell, others are easy. wedding 1999

Todd and I have not had a fairy tale marriage, we have had rough waters that we have crossed, tough times, separations and issues with the children. I feel that a marriage is God’s creation and that once you say “I Do”, then you should do all you can to fix anything wrong. Do not give up easily. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” Mark 10:9.

I am in no way saying that if all is done to your power and there is no other way than that is between you, your spouse and God. I am not judging. I just know for me I work daily on trying to keep my marriage stable.
Each year, in my world, is special. 18 years is a lot of time together, and I want to cherish each moment that I have with him. As our children grow and move on one day, it is just going to be the two of us. Life is short.

So as  I celebrate my anniversary  I pray that I will have many more with the man I love with all my heart.

Changes

Summer is coming to a fast end, yes I know it is only August 1st but in many places school has begun or will begin soon.  Though it is still warm and summery skies, summer is practically over once the daily routine of classes begins.  This is bittersweet for me, especially this year. I always seem to enjoy the summer coming to an end because by this time my kids are usually bored and fuzzy and I am sick of hearing; “I’m bored.”  This year is a little different for me, I have three children and they are all in high school. The youngest is a Freshman, then I have a Sophomore, and my oldest is a Senior. How did this happen?  It seems like just yesterday that I was holding this little guy for the first time, scared and unsure of really what to do.  We parents grow right a long side our children when they are babies we are baby parents and we learn daily just as they do, so when it is time for them to leave the home we are prepared. Well, that is the theory, right. I am excited for him because in nine short months he will be on a new journey like no other; adulthood.  Buckle up son, it can be a bumpy ride.

I, unlike some of my friends, I will still have two other children at home. I am sure in three years when my youngest is a Senior I will be singing a different tune. Life is all about changes, some are good, some are bad but without change, the world would be a boring dark hole. 29465-01062016-Ecclesiastes-3-1-2-social“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing,” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. God tells us to embrace change and be not afraid, whether the skies are clear or stormy.

One of my favorite verses in the bible is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  This gives me confirmation that even in bad times, God knows his plans for me and it is just part of the journey called life.jeremiah-29-11

As for my children and their journeys; there is no doubt that each one will be different and unique to them individually.  I always tried raising my children to understand that life is not always fair, and at times it is downright spiteful. I tried instilling in them that they earn their way in the world through hard work and dedication. The world does not owe you anything and you are not entitled to something just because you want it.  I worked hard for ten years to get my college education; I spent many all nighters just to finish my work on time and still getting up to care for my family. I did not always succeed, a few classes I had to repeat. It was all just part of the journey.  In the end, I earned not only my Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, but I also earned my Master’s of Art in Human Service Counseling.

I am not a perfect mother, but I always tried my best. I modeled my parenting after what I knew. f0c1bd9e6f2b4225e7615f056c97eacb--change-is-good-wind-of-changeMy mother was a caring and loving mother as my sister and I grew up. She still displays love to us each and every day.  She never was a touchy feely kind of women, but we knew she loved us and that is what counts.

As this new school year begins, embrace change and allow it to a part of your life. Whether your child is entering kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, let the wind of change take you to new valleys and hills.

Unconditional Love

Has there been someone in your life that has influenced you spiritually? Growing up in a Christian home I was surrounded by many people that had some kind of influence, but there is one in particular that had the greatest influence and it was not until he passed away I truly understood.  As a child, you really do not pay too much attention to certain things. However, as you become an adult and start having children you suddenly remember and it becomes more important than ever.  My greatest influence was my Maternal Grandpa, Grandpa Smith, he was a Southern Baptist Preacher for 50 years before he left this earth.

He was a loving and caring man, soft spoken, but as a preacher, he could belt out the word for all to hear. I remember many times going to hear him preach, sitting in the front row with Grandma.  I wish now, as an adult I would have paid a little more attention.  I would love to hear him preach again. Even though I did not pay too close of attention as a child, the message I still heard. God Loves us all; unconditionally.

My grandpa taught me many things growing up, and I remember vividly one conversation that I had with him years ago. I was about 7 years old, I asked, “How do we know that God truly exists if we cannot see him?” His answer has stayed with me through the years and I refer to it many times. He said, “Can you see the wind,” of course, I answered no, he continued, “You are right, you cannot see the wind, but you see the effects of the wind. You can see the blades of grass sway, and the leaves on the trees move to the rhythm. This is the same with God. You cannot physically see him, but you see the effects of him all over. You just have to look.”   Wow, what a profound statement.

This is just one example of the many lessons that he taught me through the years.ethics-project-3-728

I have fond memories of my grandpa, but I do not want to forget my grandma. Grandma Smith was such a Godly woman. She was the submissive wife to her husband, and a quiet but stern mother and grandmother. She radiated loved and doted on her husband and children. She was an inspiration to her church and family. She illustrated what it meant to be a wife, mother and a preacher’s wife.

I feel blessed to have had these two wonderful people in my life. My grandpa always encouraged me to follow my dreams and he always loved my writing. He was proud of my God given skill. I only wish he could be here to see how I have developed my skill through the years. I always try to incorporate God and the Bible into my writing, knowing he would feel proud that I have followed my teaching.

gpa gma smith
Grandpa and Grandma Smith and me on my 5th Birthday

 

As a mother of three children of my own, I have tried to instill the teachings of God into their daily lives. We may not go to church every Sunday, but they know the importance of being within the building. It is more than just a place to go on Sunday.

So why did I just write and tell you all about my grandparents; it is not like you know who they were. I choose to share my inspiration with all of you because I feel it is important to know where your influence comes from, whether it is a family member, friend, clergy, teacher, or coach. Knowing this will take you far in life.

In the bible, there are many influential people that had an impact on other peoples lives.  moses and basket Moses is just one example, he was born in a time when Pharaoh’s decree to kill every Hebrew male. This prompted his mother to hide him in a basket and send it down the Nile to save his life. He was found by the daughter of Pharaoh and she gave pity on him and asked to raise him. Pharaoh’s daughter was granted this request and she appointed Moses’s Mother(unknown at the time) to nurse him. He was later raised as an Egyptian (Exodus 2:1-10). Moses grew to eventually be the leader of his people and he led them out of slavery and into the Promise Land. Although they were granted freedom, it was not instantly, there were many obstacles that were put in their way. What does Moses teach us, his lesson is that if you keep your eye on the prize, obey God, have faith and presentence than God will deliver you to the promise land as well.

David also comes to mind as an influential person. He took down a mighty giant with a slingshot and a rock (1 Samuel 17). This story teaches that no problem is too big to tackle, as long as you have God on your side.full_davidgoliath

Job, he teaches us that no matter how much can go wrong, no matter how much Satan is knocking on our doors, it will be alright in the end as long as we keep our years on God. People are going to lose their jobs, people are going to experience death, and possible homelessness. It is part of the real life experiences God choose for us. JobHeadingHis ultimate idea was to live in peace and walk with him daily, but he gave us free will and Adam and Eve chose to disobey his order and because of this we have heartache and strife at times. What makes the trouble and sadness worth it, the calmness and light at the end that states that it will be okay.

I can go on and on with example after example of people in the bible that are influential, but then this would turn into a book.

I can go on and on with example after example of people in the bible that are influential, but then this would turn into a book.  The whole point of all this is the love that God has for us, it is unconditional.  We sin daily, not one of these men I wrote about was perfect, they all gad doubts at one point or another. They were all scared, but God they trusted.

My grandpa’s love was unconditional, just like the God he followed and served. He was a wonderful example, he passed this on to my mother, and I have passed it on to my children. Someday when they have children of their own they will pass on the unconditional love as well. we should all strive to live the life God wanted for us all.

I miss my grandparents a great deal, but they are always with me in spirit and mind.

Depression, the Invisible Illness

Someday I hate adulting, many days I wish I could just stay in bed and binge watch anything on Netflix. There are times I look at my ringing alarm on my phone and think, “OH Lord, Not today!” However, once my feet hit the ground, I am off and running. This is a good day when my depression is not at its peak. Days that my depression is high and I am in full force there is not too much that gets done. During these bouts, I have zero energy and just want to sleep. Medicine does not always work, but without it, I would be worse.

Depression is a silent killer, although it may not always take the person physically from Earth it takes them away from their friends and family. The ones’ that suffer the most are the ones’ that often hide it the most from all. Robin Williams is a prime example, he was always a funny comedic man, could always bring laughs. However, he was in such a dark place and depression overtook hirobin williamsm. He chose to end his life. The United States was shocked, how could his depression go without being seen? People would say, “But he was so happy,”  Robin Williams was quoted once saying, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it is like to feel absolutely worthless and they do not want anyone else to feel like that.” I think pretty much sums it up.

I have been diagnosed with Major Depression about 10 years ago, I suffer daily with the way my mind and body deals with this disorder. It is hard to understand, sometimes. I have studied psychology for many years, my husband has PTSD, and my oldest has bipolar and anxiety and I still do not totally understand where it all came from and why? Tit-is-not-nature-vs-nurture-it-is-nature-and-nurture-nhere is a history of depression in my family and then there  is the whole nature versus nurture that is a highly talked about subject. I am not one of those professionals that are strictly nature, or strictly nurture. I have always been on the fence, I feel it is a combination of the two.  I feel genetics plays a huge role in behavior, yet at the same time, I feel that the environment that one is raised is a helpful factor as well.

It took me a long time to admit that I have depression. It was always excuses like, I will feel better once we get settled, I will feel better once the baby is born, I will be happier if, if,if… Nothing seemed to make me totally happy. I played it off most of the time, I hid it from most people, but even though I had a smile on my face, I was dying inside. The day the love of my life, my husband left for a year tour overseas for the fight on terrorism was the day that I feel began my true journey into the dark abyss. I was left alone for the first time with a 3 ½ yr old, 18 mo old, and a 7 mo old. We were stationed at Ft Riley, Kansas and I was 1200 or so miles away from family and I was forced to grow up. From this point and before, though I was married and had three children, I really was mature to a point. I always had my husband. Most of the time we both were just winging it. I am not saying we were bad parents, all I am saying is we did not totally know what we were doing. This goes for most all young parents.

I watched my husband get on a bus that was taking him to a plane and I was unsure at that moment if I would ever see him again. I had to be strong, I had three little people that needed a strong mommy. Through the first few weeks of deployment, I found a new gained respect for single mothers. Now please, do not take this the wrong way; I am not comparing deployment to single parenthood by no means, it is just I understood the hardships that they make on a daily basis. Military spouses are similar in the ways of single parenthood, with one major exception; the money factor. We (or most) did not have to work and take care of the kids at the same time. We still had our spouses income, so that stress was lifted, however, it was taken over by the worry factor every day. That time in my life I saw changes in my moods, but I chalked it up to stress. Besides, who has time to go to the doctor with three kids? Whatever it would just go away. Guess what? It did not go away, it intensified through the years.

Stressful moments in my life was blamed. Returning from Iraq, though was exciting, was stressful at the same time, my oldest having behavior issues, and having two toddlers in diapers was enough to make anyone mad. Life would one day settle down and would be calm inside and feel normal again. The sad thing was I could not truly remember what normal felt like. I just put on a happy face.

I am not alone with the way I feel, there are over 350 million people worldwide suffer from some type of depression. It is a daily struggle.depression 2

Depression is a serious illness, and it does not discriminate against age, gender, race, or ethnicity; fortune and fame does not stop it either. Depression can target anyone, anytime, and anywhere.

As stated in the above paragraphs, depression can be caused by many factors, there are the genetics factor. There are some people that are already precondition to get depression, while others can develop because drug and alcohol abuse, or dealing with serious illness and chronic pain can all cause someone to become depressed. One big question is, can it be cured? The answers vary as well as the causes. There are many forms of treatment that help reduce the appearance and helps the individual cope daily.  As for being 100% cured, there is no known cure. Therapy and medicine regimens allow more normal life and allow the individual to experience happiness.

images87MZ13B9Another misconception about depression is that Christian does not experience this illness. There is nothing true about this statement. Just because someone is a Christian does not mean they cannot be affected.  Christians are human and they experience illnesses and sickness. The Bible even talks about depression extensively, Moses, (Numbers 11:1-15) he became spiritually and emotionally distraught. David (2 Samuel 12:15-23)  was troubled and battled deep despair, Elijah (1Kings 19:4) was discouraged weary and afraid, Job, (Job 2:9) suffered great loss, devastation, and physical illness.depression 1

Do not feel as if you are alone in this world, there are many people that suffer from the same invisible illness and God is always there anytime. Turn to him in all things.

Depression is not a curse and it is not contagious, it is an illness. Do not be afraid to get help.