ANXIETY!!!

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I have always been the happy-go-lucky girl. My solution to all problems growing up was to tell a joke or whistle a happy tune. I have never liked drama or emotional outbursts. I loved making people laugh and when I saw people who were sad or struggling, I thought if I could make them laugh it would be such a help! Because of my personality, I have always taken most things in stride. I know that things will be better tomorrow, so let’s just get through today.

Enter trauma. Personal trauma. March 2009.

I went to bed in a tremendous amount of pain, and didn’t wake up for 24 hours. When I awoke, I was completely paralyzed. My arms were heavy and felt disconnected although I had movement. I couldn’t sit up and I could feel or move nothing from my chest down.

I was 5 months pregnant at the time. Although I was pretty freaked out at what was going on with me, I was more terrified for the baby I carried inside of me. All decisions were made based on his health. I couldn’t get an MRI because I would pass out while laying on my back. The general consensus was that hopefully, after the baby was born, all would return to normal. So, for 4 months, we were just getting through the day…counting the days until my baby boy would be born and I could see for myself that whatever had attacked me, had not hurt my baby!!

I went into the hospital to be induced for a normal delivery. Even though I was paralyzed, my team of high risk doctors were convinced all would be fine. It was, until my little guy decided to flip upside down and sit cross-legged, bottom down. That rushed us straight into the delivery room for an emergency c-section. They ended up giving me the LSD equivalent drug to knock me out in surgery as I was having complications with all other anesthesia medicines. That medicine sent me on a HORRIBLE hallucination trip! I thought I was being suffocated by a mattress and I couldn’t breathe, or move my hands. Jimmy said my breathing was fine, and I held his hand, but that I cried out in pain the entire surgery.

After I came to, and was able to eat my first meal, they brought the bedside table up to my bed. The table touched my chest. When that happened, I immediately felt like the mattress was over my face again! I couldn’t breath! I yelled for Jimmy to move the tray and before he could even get up out of his chair, I had pushed the table away from me so hard it crashed into the wall.

That was my first panic attack.

It had come out of nowhere! I had no clue why it happened and I certainly didn’t know what to do with it! The months following were horrible. Because of the way I became paralyzed, whenever I was having an anxiety attack, I was convinced something else horrible was happening to my body. There were so many times I would tell Jimmy that I needed to go to the hospital and he would say, “Okay, just tell me what is wrong,” and I couldn’t name anything. I just knew something was wrong! So, we would never go because I was embarrassed that I wouldn’t be able to tell the doctors what was wrong.

One day, he came to me and said that he had been talking to his mom and she wondered if I was having panic attacks. I told him I had no clue and we googled them. Out of the multiple symptoms, I had most of them!! I was relieved that it wasn’t something that was going to paralyze me more, but I was still plagued by these episodes of terror that would come out of nowhere!

I started researching…which is what I do…on how to end anxiety!! I found a million suggestions from medications to tapping zones on your body. There were books you could buy, DVD’s you could order and prescriptions to purchase. I would try to learn these things, but when an attack hit…it was almost impossible to implement these things.

So, I just tried to simplify. I couldn’t remember the 37 tapping spots, and I didn’t want to try medication. I have worked so hard to stay off of meds with my paralysis, I didn’t want to start something new. I would like to emphasize that this was for me. I am not suggesting this is a solution for anyone else.

Re-program My Brain

For me, I knew when my attacks started. My dad said to me, “Alicia, you have been holding this all together. You were paralyzed out of nowhere, you had a baby you were worrying about, you had an unplanned surgery, crazy meds, lots of complications and your body has had enough.” That rung true with me when he said it. I was emotionally overloaded.

I also talked to the anesthesiologist and he said the particular meds he gave me caused panic attacks – which made sense to me sense my first one was a day after my surgery. So, I knew I was not only emotionally overloaded, I had been medicinally altered.

Those two facts in my head, helped me to know that something knew wasn’t going horribly wrong in my body. My brain was just freaking out over nothing!! It didn’t feel like it was nothing, but it was. So, I decided I needed to retrain my brain to be okay.

Here is what that looked like:

We would be driving in the van as a family. Out of nowhere, with no warning, would come this huge wave of terror. My right arm would feel very weak, my chin and face would get numb, I would feel hot and cold at the same time, and everything in me screamed that something bad was happening in my body again! My mind would start racing with fear as to what was wrong and what was happening!! But then…I would remind myself that my brain was telling me this stuff, but nothing was wrong.

I would literally start saying over and over and over and over, “Alicia, calm down. You are absolutely fine,” “Alicia, calm down. You are absolutely fine,” and keep repeating that one phrase. In the beginning, I didn’t think it would ever work. The attacks were just as intense – even when I was saying that. But…over time, I noticed that they didn’t last as long. I noticed that my brain would calm down as I told it to. From my research, I had learned that you literally have to retrain your brain to shut off the fight and flight button that has malfunctioned and doesn’t work correctly anymore. So, you have to give it therapy and teach it how to turn back on. I found this to be extremely accurate for me. Be patient as this literally took months for me to be able to calm down a panic attack.

Get My Mind On Something Else

The other thing I learned to do, while attacks were very severe would be to get my mind on something else. One thing that helped me and what I feel is even biblical is that a merry heart is a good medicine. When you are panicking, you are NOT feeling merry and I cannot work up humor in that time. So, I let others do it for me. I bought old comedy shows like the Dick Van Dyke show or I Love Lucy – shows that make me really laugh. I would also watch episodes on YouTube of Just For Laughs which are hilarious gags.

I think it is important to get your mind on something happy – not just get your mind busy. It needs to be brain “light” – not heavy. When I was having a hard day, I would watch episodes that would get me laughing, get my mind on something else, and trick my brain into giving me a break!

Give Up Control To God

Now here is where the rubber meets the road. One of the things I realized about anxiety,  is that much of what I can get anxious about is things I absolutely cannot control. I realized that much of what my anxiety comes from, and can raise its ugly head about, is about control…or rather, my lack of it.

  • I can’t control my health.
  • I can’t control if I will become more disabled as I age.
  • I can’t control how people view me and my disability.
  • I can’t control my future.
  • I can’t control if health care will care about me or not in the future.
  • I can’t control politics.
  • I can’t control the moral climate of this world and what kind of world my kids will face.
  • I can’t control if my kids will serve Jesus or not.
  • I can’t control if broken relationships in my extended family will be restored.
  • I can’t control if I will live through the night or not.
  • And neither can you.

All of these things can give me anxiety if I dwell on them! So, I have had to learn that I just absolutely have to turn these things over to the Lord and leave them there.

My panic attacks, which I have been told by doctors is PTSD from what happened to me, are pretty limited to night time now. I can be going to sleep and just as I enter that dozing-going-into-a-deeper-sleep stage, I wake up gasping for air terrified! I know now what it is and I know it always hits only at night in that stage of sleep. I know that I am fine in my brain, but my emotions are screaming for the right to be heard and to keep me awake worrying all night long. At this point, I have a decision to make. I can dwell on my fears, or I can give up the control to them.

So, I pray and I quote the passage of Scripture in Matthew 6:25-34:

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Then I pray. I tell Jesus that I am absolutely terrified. I tell him that I am worrying, but I don’t want to. I tell Him that I know He loves me more than I do. I tell Him that I know that He controls my future and I ask Him to help me trust Him. I also ask Him to come lay beside me and comfort me and hold me close.

I kid you not, but most of the time I fall asleep while talking to my precious Jesus. I know that He comes and helps me. And oh how I love Him for helping me!!

To Summarize:

  • Know that outside sources can cause our emotions to get out of whack. So don’t over-spiritualize anxiety. Try to identify what is going on. Marriage? Kids? Bad diet? Not enough sleep? New medications? Church drama? Relationship issues? Try to work on these areas to help what you can.
  • Try to get your mind refocused on other things. Laughter is a wonderful medicine. Laugh!!
  • Leave with the Lord what you cannot change. Some things we can do – like get rest. But other things we can’t – like get rid of this disability. Give up that control. Let it go!
  • Memorize passages of Scripture that comfort and follow the prescription of Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

  • CLING to Jesus!! Tell Him everything. He is my best friend, totally gets me and loves and cares for me so much. I dwell on that knowing that no matter what, He is with me.

I’m not sure who this may help, but I just felt that sharing my own journey of trauma and pain and anxiety, may encourage someone else. If you need a prayer partner, let me know! I would love to pray for you on your journey!!

 

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A First…A Challenge…and the Beauty of Teamwork!

I have either lost my mind, or I am just really pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but in August I will be attempting a crazy challenge! I am going to attempt a Rough Terrain 5K Race with about 25 obstacles that we will have to go through.

So, how do I climb walls, do monkey bars, crawl through mud, wheel through rough, uneven terrain, hang from ropes, traverse vertical walls and who knows what else?

My team.

I have an amazing group of teens (two of my own) and friends who are taking me through this course. One of my friends does these SpartanV like races quite often and has some obstacles that she has built in her back yard. This past Saturday, our team met for the first time to go through the course together and see how this was going to happen.

The very first obstacle we came to was a simple rope hanging from one tree to the next. You are supposed to grab the rope with your hands, and then loop your legs up and over the rope and then pull yourself from one side to the next. 

As we sat there looking at that rope…that very first obstacle of so many more…I looked at my team and thought they were all crazy. What had we gotten into?! There was NO way this girl was going to be looping her legs over any rope. Suddenly, a plan had been hatched and everyone had a part. 

I grabbed the rope above my head, one person grabbed around me and lifted me out of my chair, while another person grabbed my legs and lifted them up, someone grabbed my chair out of the way and then a friend was bent down underneath me and my back was laying on her back as my team literally held me up and kept me stable as I worked my way down that rope.

We spent the next couple hours, obstacle by obstacle, completing that back yard course. Each obstacle we faced, we strategized, everyone got in their place to do their job and they got me safely over and through every obstacle.

By the end, we were all exhausted and so excited! I cannot explain the emotion that  filled me. Watching those I love, and who love me, taking such great care and personal sacrifice to help me get through each obstacle was extremely moving. 

As I have thought on this, I think this is such a beautiful picture of how we humans ought to be with each other. Each marriage…each family…each friendship…each co-worker…every single relationship…should look like this.

We all face obstacles and many stand on the sidelines and offer advice. Plenty are willing to tell you how crazy you are and ask why you would even keep trying, yet wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone just jumped in to help each other in life face things they just cannot do on their own?

Let me tell ya, I felt VERY needy out there on that course and we are just on the training one! It can be a pretty big hit on the pride to be so incapable and my friends having to come along and literally support every part of me. It really magnifies some major weaknesses on my part! I could dwell on that, or I can dwell on the amazing blessing I am receiving from them. They are helping me accomplish something to big for me. 

As we  all attempted the obstacles (they also have to do the obstacle themselves), there was a lot of clapping and cheering each other on. There was a lot of everyone helping each other. I loved when they could stand on my chair to help them get over their obstacles! I felt like I was helping them back!

You know, it isn’t easy. It requires effort. It requires a lot of thought. And many of us came out of that in some pain. But it would have been impossible alone. 

We have a lot more work to do before August and I am looking forward to each session. Not just to meet a crazy goal of attempting something out of my comfort zone, but to have a real life object lesson of the beauty of teamwork and all you can accomplish when you can support one another and let all of our strengths and weaknesses work together for a much greater good!

How Disturbed Are You?

busy-doing-nothing-please-don-t-disturb.jpgI am a watcher of people. I love social connections because you get to see and know so many different personalities and peoples. One beautiful thing about this life is how different and diverse humanity is. I am extremely entertained and delighted to watch this all unfold in real life!

One thing I constantly have to remind myself of (as I am watching others and how they are doing life) is that the world is way bigger than my little corner of it. Meaning…I can view how my friend in Africa is helping those with disabilities and it looks nothing like what I do. I deliver a speech at a Senate Committee meeting, or deliver a piece of adaptive equipment to someone in need, and my friend is giving out chickens and goats so they have a constant source of eggs and milk! One isn’t better than the other. We are just living out the reality of our lives in our corners of the world.

However, there is something that is bothering me. It bothers me in life and what I see on social media platforms, it bothers me in the disability community I am a citizen of, and it bothers me in the church among fellow Christians. And so it made me curious enough to pose the question: How disturbed are you really?

I just read a quote by Catherine Booth (co-founder of the Salvation Army) and she said:

“If we are to better the future we must disturb the present.”

There is SO much talk. We are more privy to it because of the easy access to throw out our opinions about everything in 5 seconds through a tweet or post. Lots and lots and lots of words. We have opinions about everything. But, as a watcher of life, I get bewildered by all the talk that is followed by very little personal action.

For example, I read SO many complaints about wheelchair problems or fears about insurance and government assistance, or even politics in general yet there are very few who are writing or calling or even visiting their representatives and making their opinions known to those who truly matter.

I hear members of churches who want growth and young families, and yet they complain or gripe while trying to establish outreach or encourage these same people. I am reminded of the verse to “keep the ox and clean out the crib.” Who gets rid of the cow because of manure? Sometimes, you deal with little things for the greater thing!

I know of individuals who are in a mess and are looking to others to solve their problems, but will do very little themselves. I am reminded of a young man once who wanted help for consistency in his spiritual life. My husband asked him, “Why don’t you just start with reading one chapter a day in your Bible.” The young mad said, “Isn’t there something easier you could tell me to do?”

There are families who are so concerned where their children are spiritually. They worry because they don’t like church, or are living in ways that are grieving their church parents. But…at home, there is not a lot of communication about God, very little personal Bible study either individually or as a family, very little public prayer and praise time, and the idea is to just make them go to church and it will all turn out fine.

I know families who are torn apart and all sides will say they want to see it fixed and restored yet who is actually trying to fix things?

Why is this?

  • Why is it that we are so quick to communicate our opinions yet be so little personally involved?
  • Why are we quick to throw our opinions all over social media, yet do nothing practical about it in the real world – beyond virtual reality?
  • Why do we want all the blessings in our churches without any baggage?
  • Why do we want results with no work?
  • Why do we say we are pro-relationships and then jump out of them so quickly?

I believe the answer is that we truly aren’t disturbed enough. Oh yes, we are annoyed, aggravated, mad, fussy…but not disturbed. Truth is, if you found a giant lump in your head, with intense headaches and blurred vision, would you post how aggravated you were? Would you tweet your frustration with lumps and headaches? I would venture to say that you would be disturbed enough to see a doctor and have tests run!

I think we all have opinions. I think we all have tempers. I think we get hot under the collar when others don’t agree with us. But what I think, is that we care more about being heard than being a help. I think we want to talk and let others do the work. I think we love being the gripers, but few want to be the givers.

I am reminded of verses such as “being doers of the Word and not hearers only…”(James 1:22), or “faith without works is dead…”(James 2:17), or maybe the one where God said He was “near in their mouths but far from their reigns…”(Jeremiah 12:2), or “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16)  You don’t hear the nay-sayers quoting these do you?

I am not trying to be a downer. Actually, I would like to see the future changed with more doers and less talkers. I would like to see the love of Jesus poured out in lives…not on paper. I would like to see the hands and feet of Christ actively working and moving and touching and healing through us! I would like our words and actions to reflect the Christ Who gave everything for us – and not the griping that we do when it might require a sacrifice of my time, or finances or even opinion. This disturbs me. And if I want the future to change, I must disturb the present.

Which leads to asking the question again….”How disturbed are you really?”

Talk is cheap – including this blog. I would rather my life be copied than my words be quoted.

So is there a practical solution to this? I think so and it is much more simple than you think!

A dear friend and coach to me said that there are two questions to ask when you are confronted with something:

1. What can I personally do about it?

Can I change the president? Can I make my voice heard about a law? Am I even willing to be a part of this proposed ministry?

If I am planning to do nothing, then why does my opinion matter?

2. Who do I see as the avenue to help me do something about it?

The answer to this is who you should talk to. Be very careful about this. If someone is not a key to the solution, then I should probably not be talking to them about it. If they are a key to helping solve a problem, then go speak to them!

3. Memorize this verse. It is quoted often in our family! 

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; (I Thessalonians 4:11)

Since nothing should never be an option, may God help us all to find our place and finish our race!

 

 

 

 

 

Paralyzed 8 Years Today

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Eight years ago today, I woke up completely paralyzed. Something else happens this year. On April 28, I turn 40. What do these two things have to do with each other? Because 8 years ago, I wasn’t too sure I would ever see this birthday.

When I woke up 8 years ago and was completely paralyzed, I had no clue what had happened to me. I was terrified. I was even more terrified when I had complications after having my baby 4 months later. I was terrified when they would not pinpoint an exact diagnosis.Do you hear a common word here? Terror!

Oh how the Lord sustained and comforted me. Trusting the Lord does not mean you don’t feel terror. It just means that when you are terrified, you have to cling to Jesus for peace. However, I would look at my children and wonder if I would be around to raise them. I would look at my husband and wonder if he would raise the kids alone. I would look at myself and wonder if I was really going to live through all of this. I was quite confident I would not see my 40th birthday.

But here I am…eight years later. It is funny how much my life…and thoughts…have changed!

My head and feelings about being paralyzed for the rest of my life are not always good. Sometimes it can all feel so terribly overwhelming. Sometimes I crave the simplicity of a shower, going to the bathroom, or just jumping in and out of a car. Sometimes I want to walk…and run…so bad I can taste it. I just can’t remember it. Sometimes…I still feel terrified about my future.

But most of the time, I feel just fine. I am not embarrassed anymore to be in public. I think my chair suits me. I smile when people stare. I have embraced the reality of tipping over in my chair, falling in the shower and having accidents when they are not convenient. I am accepting that ALL of my children are now taller than me! 🙂

I have had some of these anniversaries fighting tears all day. And I may again. But as I write this, I am so thankful to be here. I am thankful for 8 years of the amazing blessing of being a mom. I am thankful for 8 more years with my man. I am thankful for 8 more years to serve Jesus.

I get to spend this day around my family and my church family. I get to smile and hug on my kids. I get to snuggle my guy. I get to get myself up, shower myself, dress myself, transfer myself and roll myself to my van where I will drive myself to church. 8 years ago, I would have never thought that would ever happen again.

I will end with a phrase that I tell all of my wheelie friends on the days of their anniversaries: Happy Alive Day Alicia!

I am thankful to celebrate 8 years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shine or Whine?

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I recently watched the movie Hidden Figures. Phenomenal. Go see it already!! It was an absolutely inspiring true story based on the lives of three black women who were faced with so much adversity, prejudice, and personal trials. (Check out review here.) I will not give this story away as you really just need to see it, but it has propelled this particular blog post into a subject that has bothered me for some time.

How do we handle things when life just isn’t going…or hasn’t gone our way?

There are so many things that can go wrong when you have a disability! Depending on your disability, the lists can vary in the details, but I assure you there will still be a list. Transportation is a huge issue for those who cannot drive. Although government agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation are helpful training and finding jobs, employment is still an issue because it is hard to get to a job without transportation. HUD and Section 8 housing helps provide affordable housing solutions, but there are so few handicap accessible units that waiting lists can be as long as 5 years! Healthcare is unsure because we are not sure insurance will even help pay and we are not sure we can afford it. We are not sure we will get the same physical examination as others because we cannot get on the tables. We are constantly struggling to get medical equipment approved or to keep it working – whether that is a wheelchair, a van lift,  or a shower chair that decides to rust out! We are put on hold, shuffled to other departments and told 17 different answers to the same questions. And none of these things are even about our disability! UTI’s, spasms, pressure sores, nerve pain, unending fatigue, weakening bones, throbbing necks and shoulders, digestive issues, bowel and bladder issues (and accidents), swelling, spine curvatures….and on and on are secondary health complications that seem to constantly pop up. Those just cover my particular disability and not anyone else’s. This paragraph doesn’t even begin to touch on the emotional loneliness and segregation so many still feel or the financial hardships most live under.

All of these things have been uninvited intrusions to our lives. We didn’t ask for a disability. We didn’t ask for drama. We didn’t ask for problems and complications. We didn’t ask for lack of accessibility. However, they are ours.

Now what?

When you have been around for awhile in the disabled community, you quickly learn there are two kinds of people – those that shine and those that whine!

In the disability community, you see the “solution people” and then you see the ones who want to cry “FOUL!”over every single thing that upsets them.

You see those who have no incentive to do anything with their lives, and then you see those who press on with unbelievable odds against them.

You see those who take their frustrations out on everyone around them, and you see those who are gracious to humanity and their misunderstandings of our disabilities.

You see those whose lives and actions cry about their disabilities, and then you see those whose lives and actions shout their abilities!

Articles are written that offer guidance and help, and then there are articles that just help enrage feelings but offer no solutions.

Videos are posted and shared where we tell everyone what they are doing wrong, but offer no education and kindness as to how to do it right.

I feel that many times, those of us with disabilities, can develop a really big chip on our shoulder about the injustices around us. While I do not endorse injustice, I do not think this strengthens us. I think it segregates us even more if all we do is yell how unjust it all is! We are now not only viewed as disabled, we are viewed as a bunch of disabled babies.

If someone opens a door for me (which I am capable of doing), I smile and say thank you! I am kind before I am disabled. I don’t need to prove my independence by grunting at them. I know there are the fringe people out there that can smother and be extremely rude to those of us with disabilities. But that says more about them than it does me.

Speaking calmly and actually engaging change accomplishes much more than screaming how unfair life is and feeling accomplished that we know how to scream.

The inspiring part of the movie (that started this conversation) is that these women did not spend their days yelling, posting, and crying. They were confident, ingenious, and pro-active to find solutions to the very society that so desperately tried to hold them back. Let me tell you, society lost.

There are many things that need solutions for some real problems. My encouragement is to spend your time and energy looking for solutions instead of whining about them.

Let’s not whine. Let’s shine!

Do you have ideas already? I would love to hear about them!

 

 

 

My Changing Thoughts On Being A Mother

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All I wanted to be when I was a little girl was a mommy. I am so happy that the Lord chose to bless us with 6 beautiful children – three girls and three boys. My definition of “mother” involved the timeline that began with the newborn baby – where your life seems to revolve around feeding schedules, diaper changes and not enough sleep -to the day they walk out of your home to begin their own homes. However, I have come to believe that definition is not true.

We have heard the expression “once a mother, always a mother”, but do we believe that? I am an avid people watcher. I soak in their lives and I try to learn from it. Some times I learn what to do, and other times I learn what not to do! I have read many help books on parenting. I have read psychology books about personalities and how to deal with children. I have read about love languages and positive affirmation and discipline and correction and on and on and on! I have always been hungry for anything that will help me be a good mom and raise these kids right.

Cramming my head with all this stuff can really leaving me feeling dizzy!! Do I snuggle and cuddle while trying to build up their self-esteem, or do I discipline them while acting out tough love? Do I be their best buddy so we are open and communicating or do I just “be the parent” and tell them how it will be around here. Do I give them what they deserve or do I exercise grace? Do I…..? See what I mean? I think the answer to all of these questions is yes!

As my children are getting older, the definition of “mother” has changed for me. I thought it was loving them and keeping them alive until adulthood! I thought it was making sure their spiritual, emotional and physical needs were met. I thought it was delivering them successfully into adulthood. And, it is all those things. But it is much more than I used to think!

I have watched adults who are so upset at their kids and just rip them up on social media. When they are 3 they won’t know it, but when they are teenagers they will. This makes me pause and think once again. I watch teens who I know and love and I believe they love their parents, but there seems to be such a disconnect from their parents! So I pause and think again. I look at my kids and my mothering and I think, “Does it end when they grow up?” I know how I feel about my parents…as a middle-aged woman! Do I need them? Yes. Do they need me? Yes. So, if there is a disconnect, where and why did it happen? I look at my own children, who I love more than life itself, and I don’t want that to happen!

All of these thoughts, have brought me to my evolved belief system.

  • I believe I am not just raising kids, I am raising future adults.

To be adults, they must have the adult skills they need to face life. They have to do things they don’t want to do, they must have accountability, they must know that hard work and honesty is of vital importance.

So, yes, I must have tough love and at times tell them to quit their crying and do it even if it is hard. Yes, they need responsibilities and learn the good feeling you get with a job well done. They must not live with their feelings on their shirt sleeves. They must learn to go on in life regardless of what people say.

But they also need me to praise their accomplishments when they have worked hard. They need me to put an arm around them and teach them why these things are important for their future. They need to know that I am so happy with the grown ups they are becoming and that together, we will all get there. They must know who they are in Christ and it doesn’t matter what people say about you.

  • I believe I am not just raising adults, but I am raising future friends.

Their future friends will be their spouses, their children, their co-workers, their fellow church members and many other people who cross their path in life.

To be a good friend, they must be kind. They must think of others above themselves. They must have thoughtfulness. They must have self-control, unselfishness, kindness, humility and strength.Those are character traits that must be taught for them to be a friend in life.

So, yes I must discipline them when they are mean or hateful. I must guard what feeds their hearts, because what goes in will come out. I must not allow uncaring words or actions.

But I must lead these sessions of life, not only in word but in my own deeds!! They must see me be a good friend. And how hypocritical if I were to be a good friend to all except my own children? That seems like a great crime! So, I must practice my friendship not only with others, but most especially with my children!  My children are my best friends, but they know who the boss is. I do not believe you have to choose “mom” or “friend.” I do not believe those words should ever be separated. Which leads to my next point.

  • I believe I am not only raising future friends, I am raising MY future friends!

There is no doubt that as our children get older, God puts in them an independence that is needed for them to grow out of our homes. That draw for independence, while still living in my home, can cause a lot of stress and arguments. Those arguments can lead to hard feelings and fellowship being broken between parents and kids. Do I want an argument with my child to start building walls between me and my future friends and the parents of my grandchildren? I don’t think so! So, the things that I do during those times will either try to break down those walls or will build it up higher. Side rant: this leads me to the social media bashing of our children. Please do not post your disagreements with your children! Maybe they do? Well, that just proves their immaturity. It doesn’t have to prove ours.

Because I want them to be my friends when they grow up, I want to make sure that I am doing my part to make that always happen. My children may grow up and make choices that I don’t like, but I will always like my children. My goodness, I wonder how many times growing up my kids don’t like the choices I make for them, but they still love their mom! I am so glad!

One thing I have learned as an adult child, is that I can be hurt more as a grown up, than I even was as a kid! Kids are very forgiving and tend to move on quickly. We adults don’t do that as easy. My feelings have been hurt more as an adult than they ever were as a kid! What does this mean? It means that the older I get, and the older my kids get, the more I want to make sure that I am showing them a mother’s love! Not just those wiggly babies, but those independent grown ups! They will need my love and care as much then as they ever have! Ask anyone who doesn’t have their parents in their lives anymore and they will agree with me.

These roads into their adulthood are being built now! I want to be part of the building crew and not demolition.

  • I believe that instead of worrying about failing, I just need to let them know I have failed…and will fail again.

This is reality. I will never be a perfect mom. I will never handle every situation correctly. I will never judge each argument fairly. I will never be in a good mood every day. I will never be patient and kind in every situation. And they won’t either. We need much grace and much forgiveness!

  • I believe that instead of worrying about “being” right, I need to “do” right.

 

I like to be right. Plain and simple. My kids do too because they have a big dose of their mother in them! But, we know that doing right is more important than being right. Doing right by apologizing, doing right by righting wrongs, doing right by making sure that no petty arguments ruin our relationships are much more important than being right about something that we won’t even remember years later.

My very wise Aunt Beth, who is the mother of 12 children, told me early on in motherhood to enjoy every stage! The older I get, the more I realize that I have not even stopped going through stages and my kids won’t either. The choice must be to enjoy them in every stage the rest of my life. Once a mother, always a mother? Absolutely! My roles may change and evolve at the different stages of their lives, and I know that I will have to adjust to those changes, but I need my kids and they need me. That makes me really happy.

What does this post have to do with Christmas, disability or anything else I typically write about? Not a single thing!! Just glad to be a mom today.

 

Red Birds…And Why I Love Them

red-birf

My Grandma Mary was one of the sweetest and godliest people I have ever known. She was not loud and vocal. She was a quiet little lady that loved to crochet and knit. My Grandpa Bob was the loud, bold, and boisterous world changer that always had an urgency about him to do the next thing. So much so that he could barely visit you before he was on to the next adventure! And there was my grandmother. Sweetly following him about everywhere he went with her Bible, crochet bag, and her little tidbits of wisdom that stuck to you like glue.

She would say things to me like, “Alicia, you must always learn to bloom where you are planted.” And she lived this as she lived in multiple states following her husband around in the ministry. She would also say, “Honey, don’t live through things twice. If it is going to happen, no need in wasting a lot of time worrying. That way, if it doesn’t happen, you haven’t wasted time worrying.” I know she struggled with worrying so I am sure this message had been preached to herself long before it reached me.

She also loved red birds. Her little kitchen always had them in it. Her curtains, the runner that went across the top of her deep freezer, and figurines of these birds always caught my eye. Grandma went home to be with the Lord years ago, and since then, every time I would see a red bird I would have a warm spot in my heart thinking of my Grandma Mary.

As my children were growing up, they learned that I had a love for these red birds. I would always call their attention to them. “Look kids! There is a red bird!” And so the children would start saying, “Momma!! Come look! There is a red bird!” It has been a sweet connection for us and my love for all birds…but especially red birds!

Not long after I had become paralyzed, I was having a particularly horrible day. Physically I felt awful. Emotionally I felt drained. Spiritually I felt betrayed. I decided that God forgot who I was, where I lived and that He did not care about me. I felt like every prayer I was praying just kind of floated around the room and God was not hearing…or answering them!  I was terribly discouraged.

From my bed, I could look out of one window. Out of that window you could see a dumpster that was located between our house and a neighboring furniture store. I thought how appropriate that dumpster matched my mood!

I prayed again. I said, “God, I feel like you don’t care about me anymore. I feel like you do not hear my prayers. I feel like you forgot where I live and who I am. PLEASE be real to me today!”

I kid you not, within 5 minutes I heard a bird singing. I looked at my window and sitting right on the window sill was a little red bird just singing its heart out! I KNEW God sent that little bird to me. That bird was God’s messenger that said,”Alicia, I not only know who you are and where you live, but I know where your bedroom window is!”

That was exactly what the Great Physician knew my heart needed. I still felt awful physically. I still had a LOT to deal with emotionally. But spiritually, my soul was fine!

That day taught me a lesson and also gave me a new intense love for birds. They truly are God’s messengers that greet me in the dark, early morning hours when I am in a tremendous amount of pain. They sing and remind me to sing my praises…even in the darkness. They catch my ear in waiting times when I am not able to engage in some activity that others are doing.  They remind me to take the alone time to sing out to my Creator and join them in rejoicing as part of His creation. They pull my mind back from the crevices of self-pity reminding me that God cares for the sparrows and how much more He cares for me.

This is my love for birds…and especially the red bird.

When you see my Facebook friends send me pictures of red birds, you know why. They have heard my story and now red birds bring them the same message. When you see a red bird, sing to the Lord and thank Him for sending you His messenger to let you know you are loved by a good God!

*A special thank you to those of you who have given me red bird items. Key chains, pictures, personal note cards, and many other items. These mean SO much to me and are daily reminders in my home of your love for me.