Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Pro-life Should Mean

I'm a firm believer that every baby has a right to life. I know there are many that share this belief too. This is not a post to convert people to become pro-life. This is a post to challenge people who are already pro-life. 

When you believe that abortion is wrong, then you believe that every child born with all sorts of medical and developmental challenges should be given a chance at life. I believe this. I believe the world we live in is full of diseases and conditions that God never intended for anyone to have. Yet, the world is full of evil and bad things because the world is not heaven-it's not perfect. Perfect souls are born in bodies that are imperfect. Regardless of your thoughts on this subject, let's just talk about what happens after a pro-life decision is made after a prenatal diagnosis. Then what....

Raising children with special needs (or special purpose as I call it) is difficult. Outsiders do not often know how to support these families. When my daughter was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect, I got more "I'm sorry" statements then "congratulations." We had a few people literally cry with sadness while seeing our baby for the first time. The attitude of most Americans is basically-anything outside the realm of typical is considered undesirable.

It's hard to know what to say and do in situations when a disability is involved. But I wonder how many people are pro-life champions but go on to look at babies and people with disabilities with wrong attitudes. I think if we truly believed every life is worth something and is a blessing, we would stop saying things like:
-I'm sorry your baby was born with ________.
-I don't care what gender our baby is as long as it's healthy.
-Maybe you miscarried your baby because something was wrong. You wouldn't want that would you?
-Maybe your miscarriage was actually a good thing in disguise.

Instead we would say things like:
-I know it's going to be hard because your baby was born with ____ but your baby is a gift. I'm here to help you.
-Congratulations on your baby.
-I'm blessed to be pregnant and blessed to have any child.
-I'm sorry you had a miscarriage and your baby's life ended abruptly.  How can I help you?

Maybe if people were truly pro-life, they wouldn't stare at people with disabilities. They would teach their children to respect and value all people. They would make an effort to reach out to families who are raising children with disabilities. People in church would be more willing to accommodate children with disabilities even if it's not convenient.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kindergarten Graduate

My little Jaycee has officially finished kindergarten. Flashback to August 2012...I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. My baby girl was getting ready to start a new school with new teachers & I was nervous for her. How do you explain something like that to a child that can't communicate well?

She adjusted well to kindergarten and all the changes. I feel like a fool now for the way I worried. Jaycee made lots of friends at school. As a mom, you appreciate children who can love your special purposed child. When I see a child at school ask Jaycee for a hug, I'm thrilled. Jaycee's school did many things to promote acceptance for the children with special needs and it showed.

Jaycee has made some academic achievements as well. She has learned to count objects to five. She's learned to spell her first name. (Man, I wish I would have spelled her name JC). Jaycee learned dozens of sight words. She started to read simple 4 page books using her communication device. She's learned to say many new words on her device as well. It's been a productive year and she's enjoyed school.

And so, the school year that I was dreading has ended so quickly and my summer with Jaycee began this week. The next few weeks will be spent getting Jaycee adjusted to her new summer routine. I'm sure I'll have lots of things to blog about in the next few months!
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Saying I do and Meaning It

10 years ago today, I stood in a church next to my handsome guy and became his wife. We did the normal vows. For better or worse, sickness and health...  I think we both took those vows expecting things to go a certain way. I never imagined having a special purposed child. Honestly, the idea never entered my mind.

Through every up and down with my special purposed child, my husband and I have been together. He's helped me when I was worried about Jaycee's health. He's reassured me things would be fine when I was convinced that they wouldn't be. He's watched the kids from time to time when I just needed a nap! He's been there for me and I have been there for him. I can't imagine raising our special purposed child without him and his support.

So here's my top 4 pieces of humble marital advice:
-Sleep in the same bed. We always sleep together (unless someone is sick and willingly goes to the couch). Never send someone to the couch or the floor if you are arguing. It builds a wall.
-Never threaten divorce or leaving. Marriage vows are intended to be made forever. Joking or threatening to end the marriage puts seeds of doubt between the two of you. Don't say it!
-Realize that having a special purposed child can be stressful. Be honest about your feelings with your spouse and ask for breaks if you need them. Understand that arguments between the two of you in high stress situations are mainly due to high stress. Take a breath and discover ways to work through these times while supporting each other.
-Go to church together. You both need to have the same spiritual foundation and be on the same page. When a crisis arises, you will need your own individual faith to help you. When your faith is added to your partner's it becomes unbreakable.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Getting Free from Anxiety

My 7 year old daughter has had health issues for 7 years. Consequently, I have had inner struggles for 7 years. This has included depression, stress, fears, and anxiety. I've never seen a doctor for any of these but I know I have had them. I have had good times where I have had little or none of these inner struggles. And I have had rough patches where my work and everyday life have suffered. Sometimes, I was aware that I was struggling. Sometimes, I wasn't.

If you would have asked me six months ago, if I suffered from anxiety, I would have said no.  I would admit that I felt stress a little each day but I wasn't that bad. I didn't know how bad I was! The thought of taking both of the kids to McDonald's by myself was enough to get me anxious. (I realized later what I felt was anxiety.) I always had this faith-fear conflict. My fear said--Jaycee's going to run off. She might get away from you and get hurt. She's not going to listen to you and you're going to get frustrated.

Why did my fear say that? Because my negative experiences in the past left a lasting emotional impression on me. There's been times when I have simply let go of Jaycee's hand to get my keys and found myself chasing her through the a parking lot. It scared me. And I felt like a terrible mother.

But my faith said to be strong and not fear. I would be brave and decide to go to the store or a restaurant. I would feel good that I would be brave enough to go. Then that sneaky anxiety would pop up. As I would be driving or preparing to go somewhere I would think about the possible negative outcomes of this trip. I would get worried about Jaycee's safety and my ability to watch her close enough. My body would tense up. I'd be on edge. It's hard to explain this well enough to so that people can understand it.

Taking the kids out was just part of it. Jaycee's health scares was how it all started. There have been times that I have worried about her life ending. I have worried about her getting sick, being in the hospital, etc. Most people in my situation I think would be this way. When your kid has 2 open heart surgeries, 3 heart caths, strabismus surgery, 2 sets of tubes, 11 hospital admissions for illnesses -including 3 in the ICU, and several asthma attacks at home turning her blue, chaos and sickness become normal and almost expected.

At some point, even when Jaycee was healthy I couldn't enjoy it. I was convinced it was just a matter of time before something bad would happen again. I also became accustomed to life associated with sickness and life/death situations. It seemed odd to have a "normal" life where nothing critical happened. I didn't want her to be sick. I just didn't know how to deal with her sicknesses and then pick back up with my everyday life. There's so much to say about all of this and I don't want this post to take hours to read.

On New Year's Eve, as I was crying about something ignorant to my husband, I realized enough is enough. I have struggled with these things for 7 years. That is a long time...too long to live with so many fears and anxiety. I decided I would get help. A few months later, I found myself in a home getting 4 hours worth of prayer from people I trusted. Growing up in church, I firmly believed I could overcome all of my inner struggles through prayer and faith but I couldn't do it on my own.

The Bible says Jesus will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus is the authority of peace. Peace is found in him. It is not found through calmness of circumstances. I believed that I could be happy if Jaycee was just healthy. But that wasn't true because I didn't feel better even when she was. It is a lie to believe that your peace can only come through resolution of your problems. Jesus is Peace. Therefore, true peace can be achieved no matter the circumstances.

By confessing some of my fears and getting encouragement spoke over me during prayer, I was able to get relief. Maybe I will get into the details of the prayer time in another post. But I will say that I have changed as a result of that prayer. About a week after the prayer, I could actually sit down and feel relaxed. It's been almost 2 months since I received spiritual help, I will say that today I am 80-90% better. I'm not perfect. I have wrong thought patterns established and I'm going to have to break the ones that are left. But I feel different. I took Jaycee somewhere the other day without worrying and obsessing about it first. I just went and actually enjoyed myself. It feels good to think positively again and not be bogged down with so much junk in my head. If you are having some of these same troubles, please find someone you trust and get help. Change is possible!
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Filling an Empty Vase

Sometimes the simple things in life aren't valued until you lose them.

Jaycee's asthma has been an issue since she was less than a year old. We have taken some extreme measures to avoid possible triggers. I spend the money to run the air conditioner rather than open the windows, which allow pollen and dust into my house. Jaycee hasn't been allowed to get an outdoor pet (or an indoor pet) even though we've had many opportunities to own a cute kitty. I have disliked having flowers in the house; it only happens once or twice a year.

2011 was Jaycee's worst asthma/breathing year. It made me extremely paranoid about avoiding any possible trigger, although it didn't seem to matter what I did really. But since Jan 2012, Jaycee has only been hospitalized 2 times for her asthma. Things seem to be getting better. I am trying to relax a little bit and enjoy those simple things again.

My windows have been open a few times this spring already. It's nice to feel a gentle breeze not produced by something plugged in to an outlet.

Last week, I took my son on an outing to a flower shop. He loves flowers. He picked out a couple of flowers to take home and put in our vase that has sat empty for years. Flowers were displayed on my table, and I actually enjoyed them. I didn't view the flowers as a potential "threat" but saw their beauty. I put my nose close to the petals and smelled them. Elijah told his dad all about going to get flowers. It was a really neat experience. I'm glad she's doing so well that I can bring back some of the simple things in my life.
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