Monday, October 17, 2016

The Power of Prayer…

            This past week has been a little bit of a whirlwind. My husband and brother have been working to get their new business underway, we sold one of our temporary A to B cars, got my husbands “new” truck back, had an E.R. run with our oldest and did our best to squeeze in family time along with our normal day to day responsibilities. These things have led us to having our heads bowed and praying for more than our normal load of request. God answered many of those prayers and it honestly blew me away.

            Recently I have been praying over my husband and brothers business. I have been praying not only for Gods hand to move to bless their efforts, give them stability and success, but also for God to keep them humble, keep their hearts pure and their minds focused on helping others along the way (a big part of their business plan). The guys have invested so much time and effort so far, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. But I was also trying to push feelings of fear and worry out about whether or not things would take off quickly. God answered my prayers however this past week and it gave me a feeling of peace that I was searching for. This past week, the guys got the call they have been waiting on. They landed a contract for snow removal, landscape maintenance and lawn care for multiple of a companies locations. It is not going to make the guys rich, but it gives security and promises at least a return over the next year of what they have financially invested so far. They of course are excited, and I will continue to pray for them as work continues to grow.

            Next prayer that was answered were prayers over our oldest son (yes, he is my stepson, and maternal credit goes to his real mother WAY over me, but he is my kid nonetheless.) On Wednesday evening, during the first defensive play of his schools football game, he injured his hand. From the stands, I had no idea how bad it was, but I knew if he was yelling out in pain and for help it wasn’t great, he’s a tough kid. His teammates yelling “you can see the bone!” didn’t help either. I can only assume my husband was praying on the drive and in the waiting room as well. Thankfully, a very nasty gash did not clip any nerves or tendons, just exposed the bone. After flushing the wound and 10 stitches, he was ready to go home with his mother. An injury that could have been much worse, will only end up with a scar and pretty cool pictures. Again, feeling extremely blessed from this.

            Then there was one other prayer that was visibly answered. My husband has been trying to sell his car for a little while now. Two weeks ago, a young man from Vegas called saying he was in Cleveland visiting family and really needed the car. He asked my husband to hang on to the car for a week to allow him to get the money together. He agreed and on Thursday they met. This alone was an answer to prayers, but it didn’t stop there. This car was far from a clunker, but wasn’t the nicest vehicle either. It was very much was a car that got us where we needed to go and didn’t look too bad. We were very thankful for it when we came across it during our time of need last year. But this man was so excited about it. Who would’ve thought this car I couldn’t wait to be out of our driveway, would make someone so happy? Later while we sat to eat dinner, my husband made a point to pray for the man to make it back to Cleveland safely and that the car would serve him well during the time he needed it to, as it did us. A few moments later his phone rang, it was the man that just purchased the car. He had gotten pulled over because he didn’t have plates on the car (the BMV was closed by the time they were able to meet that night, and he warned him that it was risky) and he had a suspended license (something he hadn’t filled my husband in on). The man was hoping that my husband would be able to tell the officer that he had in fact just sold him the car and hopefully get him out of some serious trouble. The officer refused to speak to my husband and the man hung up. Our hearts sank and my husband prayed again. A few moments later, the man called back. He thanked my husband for praying for him and told him that the officer had let him go with a warning. He was back on his way. There was no reason that the officer shouldn’t have pursued this. I truly believe God stepped in and protected that young man and allowed him to get home.

            As a Christ follower, I know my God is always there. Sometimes though, I fall into the place many Christians do, where you feel like He just doesn’t care about *fill in the blank*. In your mind, the thing you are asking for or the help that you need is so miniscule, that He has far bigger and more important things to worry about. Other times, you feel guilty for asking for something SO big, like you don’t deserve it or it’s just too much and someone better than you needs it more. We forget that God, as a father, wants to give His children good gifts. We forget that He loves us and nothing is “too small” for Him to care about. Now, that doesn’t mean He will always answer with a “Yes”. Sometimes, it is a “wait” or a “this isn’t what is best for you”, just like we do with our own children. (Side note: How God sees His believers is something I don’t think you can truly understand until you have children of your own. If you care/want all of those things for your children, sacrifice for them, how much more perfect is Gods love for us?) But this past week, I saw the hand of God move and it has filled me with a lot of comfort as I am reminded of His unfailing love.

Philippians 4:5-7

               5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:13-15
          13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happiest day of my life…


I thought that’s what it was supposed to be. The day I gave birth to my son did not turn out like I had planned, and it helped to create a silent storm that no one knew I was struggling to get out of.

            Post-partum depression is still a little bit of a taboo topic I think. People who have never experienced it don’t understand it, those that go through it feel the need to hide it because they don’t want to be judged or have people think they are crazy. You know how you’re supposed to feel, completely overfilled with joy and love. But for some of us, we also are slammed with fear, doubt and a feeling of being alone that is impossible to describe. I don’t think I had a terrible case of it and I don’t know that if the circumstances around my son’s birth had been different, if I would have had the same issues. None the less, I feel like the more we talk about PPD, it will lose its stigma and more mothers will feel comfortable opening up and getting the help they need.

            July 7th, 2015 came very early for me, 3:36 a.m. to be exact. I woke up from a very deep sleep to realize I was starting a period from hell… “Wait, I’m pregnant. I can’t be starting my… OH I AM IN LABOR.” I had everything planned out as best as I could knowing that things would not go perfectly. Bags were packed, birthing plan was written and I had an amazing support system in my husband. After a quick shower, some make-up (judge me if you want, I knew pictures were going to be a must that day) and out the door to the hospital we went. About 4 hours in, I tapped out on going natural. I wasn’t that upset about that honestly, I hadn’t planned on clustering contractions and I had no shame in accepting modern medicines help. A few hours later though, my fear of getting an epidural rang true, I started running a fever. I knew this meant my baby would be watched even more closely when he was born.

            At 6:02 p.m. a blonde haired, blue-eyed little boy was born. He was perfect and I was instantly filled with so much happiness and love as he was laid on my chest. They started checking him out while I sobbed. Within a few minutes, my perfect world came crashing down around me. My sweet little chunk was grunting, NICU staff was called, temp was taken and sure enough he was running a fever. It was explained to me that he should stay in the NICU for monitoring, testing and oxygen. I was over come with so much fear, anger and frustration. He was taken out of my arms and I felt my heart being ripped from my chest. My best friend and husband would be there to comfort me and I honestly started to feel like it was going to be ok, just a few hours away from him and all would be right. But long story short it went from a few hours of monitoring, to 48 hours, to 7 days he had to stay. He never ended up on oxygen, but a certain enzyme level in his blood had them concerned and they wanted to keep him on antibiotics as a precaution. I had, and still have, very strong feelings about all of it, but I am not a doctor so I will leave those out.

            After my 48 hours stay (my doctors were amazing and did everything in their power to keep me there as long as possible so I could walk down a hall and not have to drive to see my son) I was discharged. My husband had to practically pry me from his bed and half carry me to the car. I cried, screamed, yelled at God the entire 20 minute drive home, and I became so filled with bitterness. Why did I have to leave without my baby? Why would I have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump, instead of to see his sweet face and feed him directly? I did everything I was supposed to do, why was God punishing me like this? These feelings would grow every single minute I was away from him. They grew when I would walk into the hospital and see other moms being wheeled to their cars with their newborns in there arms, smiles on their faces, as I called my husband sobbing “Why is that not me?”. The only time I felt at peace was when I was in the rocking chair in the NICU holding my sweet boy for as many hours a day and I could physically handle over the next week. I would attend a family get together, church and every day errands without him, which would only leave me feeling more empty and alone. He should’ve been there.

            I honestly knew I was lucky compared to other moms, especially the ones whose babies were surrounding mine. My little boy was in an open bed, a few wires attached with an IV for antibiotics, happy and healthy overall. Their babies were attached to so many pieces of equipment, some couldn’t even hold them. They were surrounded with the fear of not only when they could bring them home, but if. I knew I was forming closeness with his night nurses who were so amazing. They would talk me down on the phone to a calm place, so I would at least try to sleep at 3 a.m. every night. I also knew God was doing something much bigger than anything that had to do with myself and my son, even if I had no idea (and still honestly don’t know) what it was. I clung to stories of women I knew who walked much harder roads with their babies, but never gave up faith in Gods plan. But I was still angry and hurt.

            I thought all of those feelings would go away when he came home, but they didn’t. We would struggle with breastfeeding because my body couldn’t keep up with his demands after getting 4-6 ounces every feeding from the first time he was fed. My body wasn’t designed to make that much that quickly. I didn’t even get to feed him his first meal. More bitterness and anger brewed as I would sob every feeding because he was so hungry and I couldn’t give him what he needed. His own mother wasn’t good enough.

            For about 2 months I dealt with these feelings. Never once did I feel like harming myself, my son or anyone else. I felt so much love for him, but he just didn’t feel like “mine” for a long time. It was like I was caring for a close relative, but not MY baby. All until the one morning, I heard his cries. I had tossed the frustration of breastfeeding at that point, so I made him a bottle and shuffled into his room. As I picked him up I had a feeling like the first time they laid him on my chest. We sat down in his rocker and I lost it. This was my baby, my son, no one else’s. The feeling of joy and overwhelming happiness that I had been waiting for, hit me like a ton of bricks and I completely lost it. I sat there holding him and crying for a while and at some point that day I realized I had been struggling with PPD.

            The hurt and loneliness never came back and I never brought them up to anyone. I didn’t think I needed to, until recently. I’ve been seeing so many stories from people close to me that struggled in silence as well. All in different ways and to different extents, but I realized we all hid it out of fear. I don’t know if I had talked to someone (a doctor, a friend, my husband) if I would’ve felt better, but at least I wouldn’t have struggled alone.  

            I encourage anyone struggling with something similar right now to reach out. You aren’t alone, so many of us felt the same things that you are feeling right now. I encourage mothers that are expecting to have a plan of who your safe person is to talk to before your baby even arrives. I never thought I would struggle in the ways that I did, but I also didn’t know things would go so different from the way I had envisioned. Lean on your partner if you have one, talk to your doctor, open up to a friend, but don’t wait for it to go away on its own. Trying to fight it alone like I did was not smart. Not everyone has it as easy in the long run as I did. Some people never make it out from it, or do damage that cannot be undone.

            For fellow believers, as hard as it can be when we feel like I did, don’t turn your back on God. Seek Him out, seek out His word and if you have a strong faith community, reach out to them as well. Even when it felt like God wasn’t listening or didn’t care, He was working on something. Maybe so I was stronger, maybe so I leaned on Him more for that strength, or maybe so I would be able to help someone else in the future. No matter what your circumstances are, you are never truly alone…

Psalm 46:1-3
            God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging .

Psalm 119:50

            My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Every day a new adventure…

            Fancy wording for “Today sucked”… OK, in the grand scheme of things, today really wasn’t all that bad and I know there are many people out there that have true bad days. But, as other moms know, some days just don’t go as planned and the smallest of things can send you into a full blown ugly cry. That is of course, if your tear ducts were working well in the first place… we’ll get to that.

            The day started off as THOSE days do. Dogs were listening about as well as they would if they had cotton in their ears, baby peed through his diaper during the night, which left no room for the backside to be filled with his morning poo before I got him out of bed. No big deal, just need a little extra creamer in my coffee and baby needs a bath (not much that can be done for the dogs, lets just be honest). After finishing our morning routine, we were half way through our morning walk when the new eye doctor calls. Ahh, confirming my appointment for tomorrow, for which I have a sitter! Wrong. They are confirming my appointment for today at 3 p.m.

I start accepting the fact that the teething 13 month old that does not even slightly resemble his happy-go-lucky personality, is coming with me. You can guess at this point, my brain only notices what is bad today and my mood turns to crap progressively through the morning hours. Trying to turn my attitude around, I focus on the positives.  It’s a beautiful sunny day out, we can drive with the windows down and I can stop for an iced coffee on our way home.

            3 p.m. finally rolls around and there I am. That woman with the screaming child that couldn’t care less that mommy needs to fill out her new patient information as she tries to convince the staff that “he’s just tired, he is never like this!” After getting everything squared away, I end up bouncing/walking while waiting 15 minutes to be called back. At this point, the baby has fallen asleep and I am convincing myself I can make it through the exam with him on my chest, all 25 pounds of him.

            Bless the sweet doctor that I was given today. She did everything she could to do her exam thoroughly without me having to move the sweet angel she thought I was holding. It was going so well, that when she asked if I had the dilation test done recently, I said "No, but we can do it today!" She responds with “You won’t have any issues seeing far away, but everything close up is going to be a little blurry for a few hours until the drops wear off.”  Oh… OK well, how bad can it be? Clearly she was working some voodoo magic that had caused me to forget the beginning of my day that would tell me this was an awful idea, but I would soon be reminded. After putting in the dilation drops, she leaves to go get my contacts. I decide it's best to lay the baby on a mat on the floor at this point so I can get my contacts in and finish up. Instantly he is wide awake screaming like his skin is being ripped off, clawing at my flesh while I struggle to see the small lens in my hand because that whole “a little blurry” thing had started. The doctor, now rushing to get me out of the room, finishes up and escorts me to the front desk so I can get checked out. The only problem is, there is no receptionist anywhere near by.

            I can barely see anything that is within 15 feet of me at this point and I am waiting for someone to come take my money so I can leave. That’s when I hear it. It was the sound of a monsoon hitting the roof of the building and the woman behind me saying “Oh, that’s some heavy rain!” Did I mention the pretty clear sky on the way to eye doctor that had me feeling better and I was driving with my windows open? Yeah, didn’t close those! In about 10 seconds I decide the seats of my car were of more importance than the happiness and dryness of my son. We run out to the car, fumble with the keys trying to get them to unlock the doors, in an attempt that I am sure looked something similar to a drunk person trying to convince his friends that he is OK to drive. We finally get into the car, windows up and we are back in the building looking like we took a dive in a pool. Just in case anyone is wondering, this is not the appropriate time to ask a mother in my shoes a completely obvious question like “Awl, did you leave your car windows open?” No lady, I was just so overcome with joy for the rain that I thought I would go outside and show my appreciation with an interpretive dance in the parking lot while holding my now very wet and angry baby.

            Icing on the cake? My adoring, loving, hard working husband calls me on the way home to ask me to pick up his medication and grab Chipotle for us for dinner. So now, looking like a drowned raccoon, make up smeared down my face, with eyes that make me look higher than a hippie at Woodstock, I drove my soggy butt to Walgreens and to Chipotle… and I called my mom. Because that’s what you do on a day like today.

            “Dear Jesus, forgive me for the words that came out of my mouth that would make a sailor blush, forgive me for wanting to lose my patience with my husband and please help my son to not remember any of this. Bless the workers at Chiptole for their patience and kindness. Also Lord, we are made in your image, so I know you have a sense of humor and I hope you at least got a chuckle out of watching the events that took place in the parking lot at Thoma and Sutton Eye Care… Help me do better tomorrow. Amen”