Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Sunshine...

I try to find the bright spots in my darkness.  At times, things can be pretty dark in my world dealing with something that I have no answers for and can not explain. 

Mental Illness and Addiction {Dual Diagnosis} are like two separate gruesome demons.  They mask themselves at times and you have a slight glimmer or glimpse of the person you know is in there.  Other times it rears it's ugly head and sends you reeling. 

Trying to separate your emotions from love, fear, anger and desperation becomes a daunting task that takes you on a roller coaster day by day.  It is a wonder that I have not developed some sort of disorder of my own.  {perhaps I have and don't know it!}

I have to be one person in dealing with Taylor, yet another in my mothering of my other three sons and yet another as a wife to a husband who is too growing weary of this affliction that our son is trapped by.  I then am a business owner and nanny too. 

Honestly when people marvel at my strength, it is all due to my faith.  I know that God is mighty to save.  I know He has my back and without the promise of hope in each new day, I can't say that I would be who I am today. 

I want to run, hide and escape my life. I know the Lord does nothing by accident.  There IS a purpose in all this madness.  I may never know what that is, but wish to pass His test.  I want to hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

I look at the blessings that the Lord showers upon me.  People He places in my life to make me laugh and help me to rediscover who He created me to be.  You see, I have been a bit lost.  I have been in survival mode, and still am to a degree. 

For a long time I have held back.  Taken things slow.  Waiting for things to get messed up.  Disorder and chaos has been so rampant in my life that I have come to expect that all good things will end.  I forgot who I was in all of this.  I forgot how to laugh, how to smile and how to believe in ME.

I am digging my way out.  I am learning my limits, learning to say no and be okay with not doing all the things I think I should take on.  I cherish the little things and appreciate the "moments" when they come. 

I treasure the friends that the Lord has brought to come along side me on this path.  As I look back I see different people, some still here, some not; that He has brought into our lives.  Each one plays a role in helping me know that He is sovereign.  He is provisional and unconditional.

Yesterday was a very no good, simply rotten, horrible day.  Today I will find the sunshine and keep holding on to the promise of a better tomorrow.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Something to hold on to...

Life for me is so unpredictable right now.  One day I think things are looking up and the next the world seems to be coming to an end.  I always thought that I was cut out to care for Children with Special Needs.  I do have a lot of patience, but dealing with my son's mental illness is proving to be so much more that I ever imagined.

He started taking a new medication via injection on Wednesday.  So far it is not going very well.  He has angry outbursts, paces around talking to himself, won't go to sleep at night and is ultra obsessive.  It is just completely unexplainable.  I prayed and am still praying that this medication will help his condition.  It just has to.  I do not know what else to do.

I cling to the fact that Jesus loves me more than I will ever know and that he died to know me.  I know this love.  I have it for all of my children.  I would gladly endure anything necessary to make the world right for them.  All I can do is pray for my son, which I do all day long.  When he is angry and yelling, I pray.  When he is confused, I pray.  When he is talking to "invisible people", I pray.  When he refuses his medications, I pray.  When his body is contorting in wild movements, I pray.

The financial challenges we are facing dwarf in comparison.  I can almost handle being evicted over the minute by minute watch I am on with my son.

I need you.  I need you to pray on my behalf.  This problem is so much bigger than I can even explain.

I have no answers.  Only God does.  So, I wait.  I hold on to the hope that there is an answer.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My son...His son.

The Lord blessed me with my first son December 14, 1990.  He will soon be 21.  I longed for this child, and prayed for him.  He entered the world beautiful and happy.  He was the light of our world.  He did everything early, sat up at 5 mo., walked at 8 mo., and talked before he was a year old.  He was perfection.

He grew to be a talented little boy excelling in sports and skateboarding.  He loved people, made lots of friends and had the most caring and compassionate heart.  He loved going to church and loved the Lord.  He accepted Jesus on a cold Halloween night when he was just 7.  He then dressed as a Preacher complete with a Bible and went door to door trick-or-treating asking people if they too had the love of Jesus in their heart.

He was Baptized that Thanksgiving at our little Church in Lee's Summit, MO.  He was so proud, as were we.  He started having a bit of trouble in school with learning.  He was diagnosed with a disability in written and oral language in the third grade.  Although he struggled he still did well in school.

In Middle School he started to clown around in class to divert the attention away from the fact he was not getting the lessons.  He started to get into a bit of trouble and then is when we learned he had been exposed to marijuana.  One Sunday afternoon he broke down before we headed out for Church.  He told me he was a bad person and that he did not belong in our family or belong at Church.  It was then he told us that he had been using marijuana at age 14.

My world was turned upside down.  I never thought or dreamed that one of MY sons would use drugs.  We thought we were doing all the right things as parents.  We went seeking help from family, church and medical professionals on how to "deal" with this situation.

Over the next couple years we were faced with a rebellious teen who skipped school, continued to use drugs and experiment with alcohol.  We enrolled him in youth programs that educated him on the dangers of drugs and alcohol use, took him on tours of the jails and had him report to an Officer twice a month.  We felt we were getting a handle on things and were thrilled when he got a job at age 16.  He did well there and got several promotions.  He had a beautiful girlfriend and life was somewhat normal.  

We by then had 4 sons in all.  Trenton was born when Taylor was 5, then Turner when Taylor was 13 followed by Trevan when he was 14.  We attributed some of Taylor's behavior to the fact that he was crying out for attention.  The "babies" took a lot of our time and perhaps he was needing to feel like he was still important.

Our lives changed forever on a crisp afternoon in January.  I received a frantic phone call from a woman who told me my son was found in the road bleeding from the head unconscious.  She thought he had been hit by a car.  She told me the location and I did not know which son she was referring to at that moment.  Both Taylor and Trenton were out, one on their skateboard and one on their bike.  

I scooped up my little ones and shuffled them to a neighbor's home.  Another neighbor came around the corner and I told her what happened.  She put me in her car and we drove to the scene as quickly as possible.  Arriving there within minutes just behind the ambulance, I see it is Taylor.  His head is wrapped in a baby's security blanket of the woman who found him.  Blood is soaking through the soft pink fabric.  He is still.

A fury of phone calls to my husband, my parents and my Bible Study Leader.  I rode in the front of the ambulance turning my body so I could see my son laying motionless in the back.  I prayed like I have never prayed before.  "Lord, please don't let him die."

As it turned out, my son had been skateboarding too fast down a hill, without a helmet.  He hit a manhole cover and struck his head on it.  He suffered a skull fracture and 3 brain bleeds.  He has never been or will ever be the same.

He become very angry with violent outbursts after the accident.  His short term memory was non-existent.  He could not remember things he learned in school.  He declined rapidly and dropped out of school.  He was forced to quit his job because he could not remember simple tasks asked of him.  This led quickly to a severe deep depression.  We went from doctor to doctor for help - only to have meds thrown at him that he refused to take.  He then started to self medicate with drugs and alcohol.

For three years now we have watched our son live in a hell.  Held captive by the voices in his head.  Our lives have been tormented beyond belief as we have tried to keep him safe and alive.  He has been hospitalized 12 times for either an overdose of drugs and alcohol or for trying to take his life.  He has been arrested, gone to jail and put into 4 rehabs.  He has been diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder and OCD.  

This a mental disorder characterized by recurring episodes of elevated or depressed mood, or of simultaneously elevated and depressed mood, that alternate with, or occur together with, distortions in perception.  Schizoaffective disorder most commonly affects cognition and emotion. Auditory hallucinations, paranoia, bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social and occupational dysfunction are typical.

We are faced now with no options for our child.  He functions on a 12-13 year old level.  He requires a lot of care.  There is no where for him to live.  California will not hold anyone without their voluntary consent.  He does not see the severity of his illness.  

He has refused medications because they made him gain nearly 80 pounds and recently he has lost nearly 40 pounds in 2 months.  He has had horrific episodes that required long hospitalizations.  We are now going to start to take him for injections tomorrow so he can not spit out or refuse his pills.   

He is sweet and gentle at times.  He is loving and caring and can become deeply emotional.  Other times if he does not get his way he is quick to anger and things can escalate.  He hears voices, lives in a paranoid state of fear that people are out to kill him.  He constantly tells us to keep our voices at a whisper as he thinks "they" can hear him.  He shuts all the doors, windows and blinds.  He can not go out in public.  He paces constantly and smokes cigarettes one right after the other.  He then coughs all night long.  He refuses to follow simple directions and rules we set for our home.  

He wants to know who I am talking to when I am on the phone, where I am going if I leave.  He wants to see my computer screen and obsesses that I am talking about him to people.  He stands over my husband and myself if we are trying to talk.  He follows me from room to room.  I am locked in my bathroom with the water running so I can write this now.  He has never had longer than an 8 week stretch that he was "functioning somewhat normally".  

My children lost their brother that fateful day and we lost our son.  Although he is still here - the Taylor that once was is gone forever.  I had hope that one day he would heal and come back to us.  I now know that will never be.  He is His Son and I have to surrender him.  I can not explain to my kids the "why", because I do not know.  I can only trust that the Lord has a plan in all of this.  I pray for my strength to carry on when I want to just be done.

People think I am strong.  I guess I am by default.  I go on because I have no other choice.  My heart swells so much that it bursts and tears flood down my face more often than people know.  I cry in the shower, I cry alone in my car.  I cry in my bed at night.  I cry out to Jesus.  "Help me, Oh Lord through this pain...Carry me because I can't walk on anymore!"

My husband and I do not have a marriage any longer.  This has ripped our family apart.  Shortly after my son's accident my husband was also in an accident.  He rolled his truck while driving down the same street.  He suffered a panic attack or a heat stroke while driving.  He nearly lost his arm and suffered a head injury as well.

Shortly thereafter we became homeless.  We lost everything.  We lived in a hotel for nearly 5 months as he recovered.  I changed his dressings, bandaged his wounds.  Drove him to doctors appointments and months of physical therapy.  All the while dealing with Taylor and his unimaginable addiction and mental illness.  

Things such as these either tear people apart or make them grow stronger.  Sadly we are being torn apart.  I know he does not have any answers.  He wants ME to fix everything.  He wants me to make it all better.  After all, that is what wives and mothers do.  Well, this is too big for me.  Only God can fix this.  This problem is all His.  I get that and I CAN surrender.  Sadly, my husband is not there.  He does not know how to ask the Lord to lead him.

I am growing weary and ask that you pray for my son, my marriage, my children and for me.  I feel very worn down, worn out and at a place of desperation.  


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Love Change?

Young love.  It can change from one day to the next.  One day she loves me then next...not so much.

I love change.  I live however in a house with 5 males.  Four of which are very fond of routine.  I roll with the punches and love to switch it up a bit.  Keeps life interesting!  As we transition from Winter to Spring I feel that there are a lot of changes around the corner in both my personal and business lives. 

I am making some changes in my Photography Business that I am excited about!  I am partnering with my friend and neighbor Kristen to form a sister company to Giggle Moon Photography.  We will be launching our new company "Birdie-N-Bee" on Facebook and the Web very soon.  For now you can see some of our collaborative work on my Facebook Page...Giggle Moon on Face Book.

We are going to be doing a huge Give-Away and I have been busy preparing our site for that.  I'll let you know when it launches!  

Becoming busier with my business brings a little more stress into my home.  My kids don't like me leaving for Photo Shoots and they hate all the time I spend on my computer editing and working.  I can say that my husband is a HUGE GRUMP when I work the night away on my sofa...But hey!  At least I am home and not in a dank office until the wee hours!  Gotta find the light in the darkness!

Be prepared to see some great things around the corner!  


P.S. Hop over the The Trendy Tree House and VOTE for the pic above it is #41!  It is Shutter Love Tuesday!  Theme Hearts!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Getting old.

{my super hot, young, intelligent, model like friend Irini and Baby Sophia}

Perhaps it is due to the fact that I have drop dead gorgeous friends that are like WAY younger than me, or the fact that I am in a month turning 44...that I am feeling really old.

Midlife Crisis?  {perhaps}  I know that all of a sudden my inner voice is screaming "CHANGE THIS and CHANGE THAT" on a daily basis.  I have things in my head that I am determined to accomplish.

Putting things in writing helps so I am spilling it here for all the world to see.  If you are my friend you will help encourage me.  If you are a foe then you can laugh if I don't succeed.  {I don't really care if you do...I am good like that}

Either it is!

For starters I am going to lose the rest of the weight that I have promised myself that I would.  Down 12 pounds so far. {yea me}  
If I could drop 10 more I'd be pleased.  15 and I'd be happy.  

My challenge is exercise.  I have the healthy eating down just fine.  I hate to exercise.  I get short of breath and sweaty. {yuk}  I know I must overcome the discomfort and push thru.  I am going to enlist the help of my uber skinny, cute and sassy friend Kristen.  She hits the gym faithfully and has not one ounce on her tiny, skinny, toned {did I say skinny} adorable little frame.  She will have to have patience with me as I am a DECADE older than her.

Okay.  That felt good.  Next my closet will receive an overhaul.  Once I am toned and fit I will discard all the old, ratty, faded loose fitting items that I try to wear to hide my muffin top.  I know I am too old to look "cute and hot" {like Irini who is 13 years younger!} but hip and trendy I can do.  No more "Look! There goes a mom of 4 boys who clearly has no style, but look at her hot friend" comments for me.  

I'll admit I am not a fan of jeans.  I can't find them to fit my short legs and hate when they are too tight in all the wrong places.  My closet is filled with "comfortable clothes".  Tees and leggings.  Capris and sweatshirts.  I live in my rainbow sandals.  High Heels are a thing of the past as I can not run in them to catch my boys.  I did recently add a pair of black polkadot kitten heels to my wardrobe and love them...{Irini there is hope}.

Sooner than later {praying that Shannon can help me this week} I will be getting a new hair doo.  I have let my hair grow out and it is in need of a new style and shape.  Thank goodness I do not have any gray hair but a nice color is in order.

Beyond my total overhaul I have things I am in dire need of.  My cell phone has quit ringing at full volume, does not alert me when I have messages and has no keyboard.  I need to get with the times and get an iPhone {on my wish list} so I can keep all my appointments at my fingertips.  This would help in in my quest to be MORE organized in my family and business lives.

I need to save for another lens for my camera, a wacom pad for editing, an awesome camera bag {I hate the one I have} and more items to make my photography business run smoother.  {all in time}

In an effort to not overwhelm my self I think I will stop here.  I think this is a good start.  I know I will never grow younger, only older.  I can, however put forth the effort to make this process easier.  With faith, hope, help from God and great friends I can and will succeed in making my goals happen!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Time flies...

Whew.  Where does the time go?  It has been over a month since I have updated this blog.  Thanks for all of the kind emails checking in on me!  I have not been crushed or eaten by my 4 boys!  

Turner, Trevan and I just returned from a wonderful weekend in Sonoma.  We got the pleasure of attending Siblings Weekend at Chloe's College - SSU.  We pretended that the boys were her cousins.  It was beautiful up there and very relaxing.  My boys had a blast and flying on an airplane to get there was a special treat.  Trevan asked 1001 questions from "What is that noise" to "How long do the flyers of the plane have to go to school to learn how to fly?"  He was quite observant and did not let anything get past his inquisitive mind.  Turner on the other hand just kicked his seat back and laughed at the cartoons on the video screen.  Not a care in the world...that is him!

We were not sure we could go as everyone in the house got a round of the flu the week before we were to depart.  Kids missed school, mom spent many a night up changing the sheets and patting backs as kids got sick over the commode.  Oh!  The joys of motherhood.

Thank the Lord they got well...and I did not get it!  We did have to haul the breathing machine to Sonoma with us as Turner's asthma has kicked up again.  Not as bad as last year thank goodness!

Stace, Trenton and Taylor survived the weekend and I came home to a clean house which was a surprise!  

Taylor is doing well for the most part.  He is applying for jobs which has not been fruitful as yet.  Trenton is doing well at his new school {thank goodness or he was getting all that hair chopped off!}

I have been very busy with my photography and just finished rebuilding my website today.  I have to add some polish and change a few things but am pleased with my new look for 2011.  I am still learning my Nikon and am loving it!  My calendar is filling up with lots of appointments and I couldn't be happier for the opportunity to use my new gear.  I have my eye on a couple lenses that I am going to be saving up for.

Soon my mom and I will be departing for our trip together.  I look forward to spending some quality time with my mom.  We are cruising to Mexico for my Birthday!  Ahhhh the peace and quiet...what will I do??

Well... that is that in a nutshell.  I am alive and kickin' - just busy!  Thanks again for checkin in with me!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Precious Moments.

I remember the precious moments spent with my kids when they were babies.  I was their rock, their fortress, their protector - their world. 

I learned very early as a young mother that MY happiness was not paramount.  I was here to serve them.  I was happy doing so.  

As the years go by and they grow so fast it gets harder and harder to fill that role.  You can no longer make their world right by hugging them, cuddling them and picking them up.  A sweet song in their ear, pacing the floor with them, or showing them a new toy no longer brings the joy it once did.

I am entering a strange era with a now 20 year old "man child" that needs to be taken care of.  His needs different than those of his 3 brothers.  A brain injury and mental illness come into play as do limitations on what he comprehends and how he sees the world.  

Having a 15 year old is another ball of wax.  I remember what it was like to be hyper focused on body image, style and peers.  I get that.  I also know that the respect my mom expected and the expectations she had of me were not far off from what I expect of him.  Difference is times have changed and kids seem to think THEY are entitled to NOT follow the rules and give that respect.

I hold out hope with my 7 year old and 6 year old.  It is all I can do.

Turner is gifted and special in his own way.  He has limits and challenges that are different from his little brother.  He has Asperger's Disorder.  At times he appears just like the others.  Then there are times when he locks himself into "his world" and acts very different.  I wonder what life will hold as he enters his teens and beyond.  At times I am flooded with emotion at the thought of my children not fitting into the "world".  Other times I embrace it.

As our world continues to become a harder place to live, I try to hold out for the "moments".  Moments that have sparked a gleem of hope into my heart and forever left a mark.  Moments that I can make with my boys for them to cherish.  I try to make joy and make time for the opportunity to present its self as one of these.  

I have been hugely impacted by the strength I have seen in my friend Irini who is a single mother.  Her precious baby Sophia is pictured at the top.  Being 30 years old and beginning a life with her precious daughter she is embarking on a journey.  It is not easy.  I see her dedication to her sweet girl and her love spills out in all she does.  I strive to have that force back.  I am committed to being a better mom for my boys this year.

This brings me to my sweet friend Sue.  I met Sue a year ago.  She wrote me after reading my blog and told me that she felt the Lord put us together for a reason.  We have laughed and cried over the past year, shared play dates and birthday parties with our kids and have had "girls night out" together.  We have talked on the phone, chatted on FB and emailed one another.  We have so much in common...soul sisters.  I just learned that she is home on Hospice.  Her husband had to tell her 4.5 yr old daughter and her 7.5 year old son that mommy may have to leave and go to Heaven.  I am heartbroken.  I do not understand God's plan and know it is not for me to question.  

I saw things in Africa this Summer and had a chat with God.  I know He knows what he is doing, but I beg him to help us who do not understand His ways find a way to cope with the heartache.  I know he wastes no hurt.

Through all of the trials and pain I push to find His message.  Not my will Lord, but yours.  So, I thank all of my dear friends who have been here to encourage me, help me and pray for me.  I ask you to continue to do so.  I stumble, I fall, but I vow to get up and keep on going.

I am off to make "moments".  I will capture "moments" with my work.  I will try to find a way to honor God through my pain.

Here is a Poem sent to me by Chloe, it was read at Grandma Daisy's is so fitting for my season of life...

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
That can still be rearranged

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
with your life’s actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?

by Linda Ellis


Monday, January 10, 2011

44 reasons why I have not updated my blog...

I use to be great at updating my if anyone really cared in the first place!  I have gotten a few emails asking if I was still alive, but with Facebook it is easy to keep tabs on people these days.

So here goes.  I have 44 reasons why I have not updated.

1.  Taylor came home to live with us mid-November.
2.  We moved to a larger apt. to accommodate all 6 of us.
3.  I got crazy busy with photo sessions.
4.  We had Thanksgiving and I prepared a grand meal.
5.  My kids decided to all react to Taylor's homecoming in different ways.
6.  Turner took it the best and just needs more love from me.
7.  Trevan regressed in behaviors and is "off the chain" 99% of the time.
8.  Trenton decided to completely not apply himself and has failing grades.
9.  My mom and dad went on a 2 week cruise to Hawaii and I found myself floundering without     emotional support.
10.  Stace's lack of work threw him into a tailspin with Christmas approaching.
11.  I wanted to have a memorable Holiday and could not figure out how to pull it off with lack of funds.
12.  Facebook needed my updates rather than my blog.
13.  My allergies and asthma decided to deal me fits and I was sick for 10 out of 12 weeks.
14.  My kids all decided to get sick.
15.  Having kids with the flu requires doing extra laundry and making numerous trips to the store.
16.  We tried to unpack and are still in process.
17.  My car decided to breakdown.
18.  Stace's truck decided to breakdown.
19.  My camera broke down.
20.  I tried not to breakdown.
21.  I made a feeble attempt to erect a small Christmas Tree for the kids this year.
22.  We decided to make a Gingerbread House and Christmas Cookies.
23.  It rained.
24.  It rained some more.
25.  It was super cold in our new apartment.
26.  I attempted to do some very last minute Christmas Shopping without much money.
27.  Then the gifts had to be wrapped.
28.  I had customers who waited till the last minute to order items.
29.  My kids had Christmas Break.
30.  My brother came to visit with my nieces and nephews.
31.  I was exhausted.
32.  Taylor has his ups and his downs.
33.  Taylor often does not cooperate which causes a lot of frustration in our home.
34.  Stace is in need of medication.
35.  I probably am in need of medication.
36.  We laid low for the New Year.
37.  I decided to make some changes in 2011. {I had to take time to be deep in thought}
38.  Chloe came home from College and we had to Celebrate her and my mom's Birthdays.
39.  Laundry.
40.  I discovered Nutella and realized how much I love Bacon.
41.  Nutella and Bacon are not on my "Health Plan" for this year.
42.  I made new friends who I love to spend time with.
43.  I got my new camera and am learning how to use it!
44.  I am just plain lazy.  

So in a nutshell that is why I have been on Facebook and NOT updating my blog...I vow to do better {if I can find more minutes in the days ahead}.