Whatever it takes to keep your peace intact…do that. I am serious. As hard as it can be Whatever it Takes, Do It. Peace, according to Webster’s Dictionary means “a state of tranquility or quiet or freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”
These two things walk hand in hand for me. A state of tranquility and freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions. The last SEVERAL years have been riddled with chaos, pain, confusion, sadness, and intense oppressive thoughts and emotions.
My Scripture reading, for today, was in Philippians 4:8 and it states “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Whatever it takes, do it. Whatever it takes to fix your thoughts on what is true. The definition is “freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions.” When our thoughts are on the things of this Earth, they can easily become oppressive. Yet, God wants us to have freedom in our thoughts.
You can have freedom from your thoughts by capturing those negative emotions and casting them aside and realizing what is truth. Truth according to the Lord. This can be hard to do, but it can be done.
What is honorable. So, whatever it takes to be honorable, do it. Be a person that is that city on a hill, be the salt and light of the world. When you are in that spot of depression that yields a lack of peace, it consumes all of you.
I almost feel like I am in a barrel and there are times when I cannot even see a pinpoint of light. The last 2 years have been horrible. I have no peace. Well, I am getting it back, but it was gone, like the wind. I did not do whatever it takes for peace. It’s almost like I succumbed to the chaos around me.
There was no honor in anything I did because all I did was put down myself and live in self-pity. There was no self-care, self-acceptance, or self-love. I let the actions of others dictate how I looked at myself.
What is Right and Pure
Nothing I did was right or pure. It was derogatory towards myself and my circumstances. I let a few people control my mind. Satan used “friends” to destroy my self-confidence. I’m so thankful the Lord allowed my vision to clear up.
By Him doing that, it allowed me to see people for who they really are. These are the people that I had to step away from, for my own sanity. I could not have done what I did without the encouragement of my husband.
He sees me, daily, and he sees through me. He sees my pain and offers love, support, and occasionally a thought that would lead me to fix the problem. I am blessed with him, my mom, and my sisters. Without support, I may not be working towards healing.
Whatever it Takes, Do It
I had to do the unthinkable to begin my peace journey. There were minor things that I changed, like being off of Facebook. Facebook is toxic. It can be a pleasurable space to keep up with family if you can change some settings.
I shut everything down. There was no one, outside of my friend’s list, that had access to anything. I deleted all my albums and began a new email address to keep those unsavory wolves in sheep’s clothing away from me.
That is minor compared to the other things I have had to do and am currently doing. My goal is to achieve peace and retain what joy I have left. It can be done though it has been the hardest thing of my life.
I’m not sure there are enough words in the English language to convey how I feel about my granddaughter.
What is she…at 3 mths old?
Squeals in proper context
Blows bubbles with her mouth like a pro
Track objects with her eyes.
Loves her mama and coos for her daddy
She held her arm up today like “power to the people.”
Poops when I rub her foot
Sleeps when I rock her and tell her stories.
Best baby EVER.
What I Need
I need a thousand more grandbabies. Really, I do. If one is this great, I might explode if there are more. I am so grateful that my daughter and son-in-law let me come over often to just rock her. I try to help around the house, but I get so darn distracted by her cuteness.
Those cheeks….those thighs….Her long cow eyelashes and her beautiful hazel eyes. She is a perfect match between Bug and Ben. Her hair seems red but it has a giant white patch on top of her head that appears to be sticking around. Not sure what that is all about but I am digging it.
She Has Bonded Our Family
Seriously, we needed a win this year. Just one good thing and luckily, we got two good things. Alyssa got married and Victoria had Charleigh. Oh, we had three good things happen… Sassy moved in with us and it has been great having her around.
There have also been some not great things but looking at my girls, it warms my heart. Everyone (almost), girls and boys, are finding their niche and moving towards it. I couldn’t be more proud than I am now.
Here is some Perspective from Mr. Rogers from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. This is what to do when you overreact and have regret. “Many people have asked me do you ever get mad and of course I answer “well yes, everyone gets mad sometimes.” The important thing is what we do with the mad that we feel in life.
A few weeks ago coming home from a particularly tough day at work, I stopped to see my two grandsons. Their mom and dad weren’t there but the boys were there with the babysitter in the backyard, squirting water with hoses. I could see that they were really having fun. but I felt that I needed to let them know that I didn’t want to be squirted.
Do Not Squirt Me
So I told them so, and little by little, I could feel that the older boy, Alexander, was testing the limit until finally, his hose was squirting very close to where I was standing. I said to him in my harshest voice, Okay, that’s it alexander turn off the water, you’ve had it.
He did as I told him and said he was sorry and looked very sad. The more I thought about it, the sadder I got. I realized Alexander had not squirted me. That I had stepped into his and his brother’s playtime with a lot of feelings leftover from work.
So when I got home, I called Alexander, on the phone. I told him I felt awful about my visit with him. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was taking out my anger from work on him. I told him I was really sorry.
Do you know how he answered me? Oh, Baba, everybody makes mistakes sometimes. I nearly cried. I was so touched by his naturally generous heart. I realized that if I hadn’t called him, I might not have ever received that wonderful gift of Alexander’s sweet forgiveness.”
My husband and I met in the spring of 1993. We quickly fell for each other. I remember walking into the game room, where we both worked, one evening before school started. There were people lined up at the counter and I saw this man….in these faded blue jeans….with this butt…that made my heart pitter-patter. He was tall and eyes that were the color of the sky. He had a hat on, so I did not know what color his hair was and I noticed his bottom lip all stuck out because he was chewing tobacco. I fell in love and I did not even know his name. Swoon………….
The Kid Question
At any rate, that is the year we met. We were engaged by the fall of that same year and married in June 1994. When we were talking about our life, I asked him how many children he wanted. He stated that he wanted one, maybe two. I stated that I wanted four. I also told him of my desire to adopt and he was NOT for that, at all. He felt he could not love a child he did not see grow in me. I decided that I would let God deal with him on that and I was going to stay out of it.
Fast forward 22 years later and we did not have one, two, or four kids. We were blessed with 6 children. We have three children who were born “under the heart” and 3 children who were adopted. We have adopted from our local foster care system and to add the icing of the cake of our family, we adopted from Africa. All of our children were “older” child adoptions. The Lord changed his heart in a mighty way.
There was a day, back in October 2015, that I was in the bathroom and I was thinking to myself (and yes, I do speak to myself….and I answer myself). The prayer that was lifted up, that day, was one of thanksgiving. My heart has always yearned for my children, but we could not have anymore biologically, we could not from our local foster care system because our home was deemed “full”, and we could not adopt internationally because of finances.
We had had two, separate, opportunities to adopt privately, but the birthmothers made other choices and now those babies are with Jesus. There was nothing more to do. My quiver was full. We had 6 kids. Our oldest was in college, our second was finishing up her high school year, sprinkle in there some behaviorally challenged kids, and a hearing-impaired kid…oh, and homeschooling them all…and our life was complete.
While I was in that bathroom, that day, I uttered these words “Lord, I finally am content. I’m content with myself, my life, my family size, thank you for finally giving me that peace about being finished bringing children into our home.” I can imagine God, upon His heavenly throne, chuckling at my “contentment.” He was fixing to throw me a curveball the size of Montana. Almost immediately after my revelation, the phone rang. It was my oldest sister, Kim.
I was surprised at her phone call on a Saturday morning and instead of saying hello, I asked her what was wrong. She was panicked and straightforward. She and her husband, Joseph, were out of town and there was an emergency with two of her grandchildren. Her request was for me to get to where they are and keep them until she and Joseph came home.
Well, she did not have to ask me twice. My husband and I loaded up our kids and we drove separately, as to have enough room for everyone. We got to where the children were and there they stood, amongst complete chaos and sadness.
I plastered on my “it is going to be okay” face and I whisked them off to Bob Evans to eat. They were filthy and incredibly hungry. We made our way to the bathroom and I cleaned up their precious little faces. We sat to eat and boy did they eat. The rest of the weekend was much like my very own three-ring circus. There was some damage control, lots of hugs and kisses, snacks, movies, rocking, and soothing their weary little souls.
We made it to church without any incident on that Sunday. My sister came back into town that afternoon to pick up the beauties. Their world was fixing to shake and they needed that solid foundation of my sister and Joseph. Oh, do they love those kids…gracious.
After they left, I looked around at the carnage of the house. There were toys strung from here to high heaven. Clothes, barbies, shoes, Polly pockets, animals, trains….anything and everything we could find made an appearance and it was spread all throughout my living room.
There were half-eaten sandwiches, purses, stickers galore. I plopped down on the couch with a sense of accomplishment. We all survived. I was pleased I could help in this hard time, but I was so glad that my sister took over.
At It Again
Again, contentment. Again, pleased with feelings of peace. Again, God laughed. Again, He rocked our world. Only a few weeks later, our family…..remember…Bart wanted one or two and I wanted four? Remember how we ended up with three biological kids….and then five….and then six…and then done?
Well, we added our seventh child, 21 months (let that soak in…I had not had a toddler in 9 years and I am over 40, people!) sashayed into our home. He had beautiful curls, with these green eyes. He was nonverbal and loud. Holy moly he was loud. We took in my sister’s other grandson…her youngest grandbaby.
Gracious this is such a reminder of what I live with on a daily basis. It is so hard when you have such consistent, horrible things to you…and then, the fake apology. That is exactly what it is. Fake.
I probably have done that, but I learned to be sincere with my apologies. When I do something wrong or hurt someone unintentionally, it hurts me so badly. Today, I asked my realtor a question. It was a stupid question and her response sort of hurt my feelings.
Granted, I have not slept well in a couple of days. Hunter has been in the hospital and it is overwhelming. I was wearing my heart and feelings on my sleeve and I took it personally. So my response was an immediate apology and promise to not ask such stupid questions. Then, I cried.
It Was Not Her Fault
Though that is the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was not her doing anything wrong. I was just emotional. Yet, this is one isolated instance. I was not manipulating her and I was sincere in my apology.
Now for my family member, this is a different ball of wax. This member has many types of diagnoses. Part of me thinks that this individual cannot help it. They do something wrong, have a hollow apology and then do the same thing 10 minutes later.
It is almost to the point where I don’t want an apology, I just want this person to leave me the heck alone. Can we say BOUNDARIES? I clearly do not have boundaries but they certainly need to be established.
Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder
They do this quite often. Manipulation, Confabulation, and Triangulation are what they are good at, in terms of this quote. According to Webster’s Dictionary, to manipulate means to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.
Confabulation means to fill in gaps in memory by fabrication. To “normal” people, this means to lie. Then triangulation means to form an alliance. In this type of situation, it is child with one parent against another parent.
It is all exhausting and makes my brain work on overload. This is what we have lived with for 15 years. My boundaries had to be firmly placed, though they broke my heart in a million pieces. I had to take into consideration other family members and myself.
The stress was hurting all of us.
Life is Hard
The Lord did not promise us a walk in a rose garden. If we had that, or all the answers, we would have no need for Him. He completes and sustains us even when we are physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from creating those hard boundaries.
He gives us the wisdom we need, when we seek it, to “speak” to us. This, for me, is done through intuition, Scripture, other people, and dreams. I have learned to accept that my family member does not understand what it means not to manipulate and to be sincere in the apology that is made.
It is hard. Completely and totally. Maybe one day, the Lord will heal her mind, body, and spirit to where she can function well in the world around.
Here is a recap of Day 3 of Retesting Hunter. As you might remember from yesterday’s post, lots of stuff happened. So many delays, a co-vid scare, and a tick on his penis are the highlights. Mix in being hungry, exhausted, and frustrated and there you have our first (and only) 2-day stay at the hospital. Let’s talk OMS, shall we?
Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (OMS) is difficult to diagnose. It is easier when a child has a paraneoplastic type or a neuroblastoma. Yet, being idiopathic is just a shot in the dark. Sadly, Vanderbilt has not really done us well, in our opinion.
The 1-day screw-up or the 2-day delay…was that God saying “stay home?” Nah, God hasn’t spoken to me in a while (in my opinion, not His). I press on, determined to get an answer with one of my many phone calls or messages.
We get there and most goes smoothly. Get to our room and things start falling into place. Nurses come in and do their thing. We get the IV going, tests begin running, questions being asked. You know, all the things. The co-vid test was a NIGHTMARE, but we got it done.
Is He Speaking Louder?
At 5 am, the neuro walks in to inform me that Hunter tested positive for co-vid. I told her that it had to be wrong because we have been nowhere. He has no symptoms. She said that it was positive and that we were being transferred to the co-vid unit.
They decided to retest him at 530 am. Fun, I know. Regardless of the outcome of that test, the aliens came in and whisked him down to the “red-headed stepchild” ward. I kid you not, that’s what people call it.
My mom called and said, “Brandi, can’t you just go home?” I told her no because we need these tests. That was my third warning and our second positive test.
In the Meantime
My family, back at home, are getting tested right and left. It’s a lot of people to get tested. Yet, once it was all said and done, everyone tested negative. It wasn’t surprising and I still questioned whether or not that the test was accurate.
Yet, we had an attentive resident who seemed to “see” me. We had a wonderful nurse who put Hunter at ease in every aspect. I decided that I would ignore all the warnings and second-guessing myself and we pressed on again.
Well, He didn’t just give me signs, feelings, phone calls, and such. This time, He just said, “leave.” The powers that be came in and said that there was nothing that they could do for 20 days. We should just go on home and come back.
That was loud and clear.
On Our Way Home
As I turned down the road to home, it began to pour down rain. My boy woke from a nap, it began to storm and the rays of the sun were shining down. I prayed for the Lord to give me a sign that all will be okay. I looked in my mirror and saw a HUGE double rainbow. It was glorious.
I had Hunter turn around and I told him the story of Noah and the ark. Hunter informed me that he knew all about the ark and the flood. We talked of salvation, the Holy Spirit, God’s promises, and such.
We turned on some praise and worship. Hunter was raising his hands and singing so loudly to each song. It warms my heart to know that he has been through so much and he still praises Jesus. I felt peace and warmth blow through my body.
BTW: Hunter and I tested on the 3rd and we are CO-VID FREE!
Today, geez. It started off with someone scaring the crap out of me at 5 am. I actually slept on and off between 1 and 5. Well, we are up now. Neuro said that Hunter tested positive for Co-Vid. There is some added fun.
Where on Earth?
I have no clue how this even happened. He has not been symptomatic at all. Honestly, he goes nowhere, so the people (my kids and husband) coming in and out of the house must have brought it in.
I asked for a day 2 retest and they did. Guess what? It was positive too. Now, we are on another floor, in complete isolation. We are still getting testing done, but he will be moved to the last on the list.
Lots to Do
He is supposed to have an MRI and an LP (Lumbar Puncture) today, under sedation. If you have sedation, you can’t eat or drink. He is hungry and thirsty which is going to make for an unhappy boy. Negative is now, he has to be last on the list.
His blood tests came back normal, except his iron is low. That is fixable. All the other doctors will be coming in today. *Some stranger is peeking in his window and waving. Quite creepy if you ask me.*
Also, a HUGE negative is that we are now being discharged because he can’t be under sedation for 20 days. Bloodwork was done, we got urine on him. The Rheumatologist and behavioral specialist will see him BUT the most important thing is the MRI and the LP.
So, we have to come back in 20 days. The fun never ends.
**So far, everyone else in my family has tested negative.**
Recap Day 1 of Retesting for Hunter. Today is actually day 2, so I’m going to be a day behind all week. Tis the life, I guess. Anyway, I dread hospital days. Usually, I start getting anxious about a week prior, and then it hits hard the day before.
This time, I got a head start on packing and I was going to pack light. Last time, I packed too many snacks and clothes. The first time (almost 4 yrs ago), I packed little to nothing for a 2 week stay. I have one bag for both of our clothes, a book, and my slippers. Then, I packed my purse that has my little bag of bathroom things, essential oils, and electronics. One bag. One purse.
Once I’m Ready
Then, I am ready. I have a coke in the fridge, water, and we are rolling. This time, however, was different. First, I was supposed to check in on Memorial Day. Doc said that we should put it off till Tuesday. Okay, fine. Adjustment.
Monday night, I went to do the pre-visit on Telehealth and it had that I was SUPPOSED to come on Memorial Day. I messaged. No response. I called. No response. I messaged hours later. No response. Are you sensing a pattern?
My Whole Mojo was Thrown Off
Tuesday comes and I start calling. Guess what? No response. I called admissions and they said they had him down for coming Monday. There were no orders for him to be admitted on a Tuesday and to not come (a long drive for me).
I messaged the office 4 times. Called 3 times. Then, I called admissions again. Finally, after my whole mojo was thrown off, we left about 3 pm. It rained the whole way down, so that was an added element of fun in the non-existent sun.
Getting in Our Room
We got settled and a neuro doctor came in. She was letting me know what all was going to be done. Then, we talked about his new or increasing symptoms of rage, OCD (or tics), his vitiligo, and other things. I informed her that she needed to look at his last visit and whomever the 2 neuros were that took his cath out, they were not to get near my son. Her eyes widened.
Of course, this is a neuro I had never met and she wasn’t aware of the plasmapheresis trauma. Tough. Just tough. I will say that our IV team (the team consisted of 1 person) was unbelievably phenomenal.
Blood Tests and Co-vid Test
He had a lot of blood drawn for several different tests. Also, he had a co-vid test which was HORRIBLE. I mean, he grabbed the stick, shoved it up to his nose more, and SCREAMED. Then, he broke it.
Luckily, he slept well and was overall really good.
Today, I am going to let myself be seen. Today, I am going to declare that I am enough. For so long, I have struggled with conformity friendships. I desire to conform but when I do, it is not me. I lose myself in that moment and I realize that I am doing this to fit in.
Sisters, you are not created to fit in. You are created to be salt and light. You are created to be a city on a hill and not a face in the crowd. I was not only a face in the crowd, I had customized masks to wear for each crowd I was in.
I learned at a very young age, that I was not like other people. I thought differently, acted differently, and believed differently then my schoolmates, roommates, boyfriends, siblings, and parents.
At the age of 10, I remember standing in the driveway of my grandparents house declaring that, one day, I would adopt from Ethiopia. How I even knew where that place was is still a mystery. I wanted to adopt and I wanted to adopt an older Ethiopian boy because that is the child that no one wanted.
Storing Up His Promises
I kept that stored in my heart, never releasing it because my family struggled with racism. I was informed, at one point, that I could either choose my black children or choose my father. I thanked my father for the love and protection he had given me, kissed him in the cheek, and then I told him I would choose my children.
Do you have any idea how hard that was for me? People pleasing me.
Judgement of Others
The people that no one want to be around are the people I am drawn too. I have been told to be careful who I associate with because it could call my faith and salvation into question. I have also been told because I’m loud that I cannot be submissive to my husband. I have been told that I am not worthy to stand in front of people because no one wants to hear what I have to say because my hair is pink and I have tattoos. I have been judged on my children acting like children and had horrible things said to me in regards to them. Things have been said that I still struggle to forgive the words and the people who said it.
My best friend was 79 when we met. She was my Lady. That’s what I called her. It started out as mentor, then moved to friendship, next, it moved to me being her caregiver, then a closeness that I cannot explain, and then I had to give her to Jesus. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My Lady saw me. She saw through the masks and the facades I tried to put on. She loved me without abandon and she treasured my family, though we are all different. She was my person.
That is What Everyone Needs
They need a Lady, a friend, a confidante who sees you and you see them. It was beautiful, but short lived as she passed away. I miss her. Her telling me that my tattoos are stupid but she always wanted to look at them and touch them. She would ring my neck if she knew her name was on my body. I took Faith(ie), Hope, and Love to a whole nother level. There is a cross (love), with a semi colon, doves (hope), and Faith(ie) because her name was Faithie.
I challenge you all to be you. Love you. Embrace your weirdness and never ever do you have to explain yourself. Ever. Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no and zero explanations.
Over the course of the last several years, there has been a crimson thread that has interwoven into the beautiful tapestry that God has created for my life. That crimson thread has been the works of the evil one, who is so desperate to destroy my walk, my countenance, and to steal my joy. 1 Peter 5:8
A wise man told me in Sunday school, that HAPPINESS is based on circumstances but true JOY comes from the Lord and according to Psalm 30:5b….weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
That statement rocked my little world. It is common practice for me to doodle in class or in church. It is not because I do not listen or I am bored. Quite the contrary. It is because I have to have something to do with my hands. I concentrate better when I’m moving my pen along a notebook. Weird, I know.
I’ve made quite the masterpieces in Sunday school and church. I was doodling, this particular morning and I will never forget when Mr. Benny Watkins said that statement. I stopped doodling, I sort of had a perplexed look on my face. I do not remember anything else about that lesson or about the sermon.
Happiness vs. Joy
I never understood happiness vs. Joy.
That statement made the answer crystal clear. We may not have happiness in this crimson thread but we are children of an amazing God and we CAN have joy in those crimson times.
“The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go both now and forever.” Psalm 121:7-8
Even when you are at the darkes on that thread…He is watching over you, loving you, and protecting you. At that moment, it may seem like He has left you…He never moves….turn your head and there, you will find Him with open arms.
Jesus Spoke to Me
Jesus has been speaking to me about taking back what satan has stolen from me. He has stolen a lot and has tried to ruin my tapestry. He has done this simply because he enjoys it. Yet, with one drop of the Blood of Jesus, I can reclaim what was taken. I reclaimed so many things. I told Him that if he wanted me to write, I would write with no fear. If he wanted me to speak, I would speak with no fear.
Here I am
Writing for the world to see, yet no one reads 🙂
My days have not been rainbows and sunshine. The crimson thread has nearly taken over my tapestry. 2015 brought about the continuation of a porn addiction that nearly broke up my marriage, the sudden death of a family member, the stroke of my best friend, and gaining custody of our 21 mth old great-nephew.
In 2016, my dad had a stroke and my Lady was still recovering. I was alternating my time between my family, my Lady, and my dad. Oh, and our continued fight for custody of our great-nephew.
My oldest daughter’s fiancé broke off their engagement and soon after she was let go from her job, our 3rd child’s volatile behavior hit its peak, and my niece was captured and placed in jail. So, one could say that those 2 years, alone, have pretty much-sucked pond water.
I felt alone, abandoned, hopeless, and depressed, very far from God and just numb. It has been difficult….I mean gut-wrenchingly difficult. My theme verse for this season of my life was Romans 4:18-21 (I am paraphrasing): Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing. And Abraham’s faith did not weaken. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this, he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
So, in my own private time and life………without uttering this theme to anyone, I held onto hope that, one day, I would have a rainbow. I know that my rainbow will come because the Lord says in Job 38:11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!”
Let the Oddities Begin
Then, in December of 2016, the strangest thing happened. The red thread had begun to overtake my tapestry. We were in a transition of trying to find the right church for our family and we had been visiting one for a few months. We were at church and we were getting ready to worship. We knew the pastor and his wife, as well as, a few families. We really didn’t know anyone else. We had not been going very long, but it was definitely different than what we were used too.
Before service started, there was a welcome and then our pastor called up a man because he had a “word” to give some people in the congregation. We have learned that this is somewhat normal, but still very abnormal to our family…we simply were not used to that. So, we sat and we watched this man pace back and forth in front of the congregation.
I am a people watcher/reader and the thing that caught my eye was the fact that he never opened his eyes when he was pacing or talking. He kept touching the insides of his hands and you could tell that he was uncomfortable but being obedient.
He said that he had had this word from the Lord and he wanted to make sure that it was, indeed, from Him and not from this man’s flesh. He realized through his sleepless nights that this was from the Lord and he had to be obedient.
A Word from the Lord
He said that he had a word for someone in the congregation and so we sat, listened, and watched him pace. He made his way down the aisle that we were sitting on and he stopped in front of Big Daddy. I felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room and my mind was whirling. He asked Big Daddy to stand up.
I looked up to the altar, where our pastor was standing, and he gave me a look, a nod, and a smile that it was okay. This man, whom we had never seen or met, told Big Daddy to hold onto his hand. Now, Big Daddy is not a tiny man and his hands are ginormous, so when he stands, he is noticed.
This man said that the Lord was telling him to “Hold on. Hold on tight to the rope and do not let go. To trust and just hold on tight.” I felt an energy move through me and tears flowed freely, which I don’t usually cry or get swept up in my emotions, so this was strange to me. The moment was fleeting but the air was thick and I knew, in my soul, we were in for a ride.
We are Still Holding On
Come the beginning of 2017…..so many things happened. My daddy had quadruple bypass surgery, my niece (my youngest son’s mom) was sentenced to 10 yrs in prison, my nephew was close behind her, my daughter went to military school due to behavior, we were trying to get custody of another great-nephew.
My oldest daughter called off her engagement and was downsized at work, fighting with insurance companies for my son’s surgery that he needed, then my Lady got sick, again, I had surgery, my 6th son had surgery, stitches were had by kids…..then the straw that broke the camel’s back happened. Needless to say, we were reminded to “hold on” a lot over the course of the first 6 mths of 2017.
During the custody battle over my other great-nephew…Big Daddy and I were trying hard to win that case and it was simply out of our hands. We knew what we could do to help the situation…we were willing…but it was not our call. As I spoke to a friend of mine, asking for prayers, she said that the Lord revealed to her what I need to know. She said I needed to “hold onto hope.” She also said that the Hebrew meaning of “hope” is “rope”, so hold onto the rope.
I caught my breath and I texted her back and asked her who had told her that. She said no one and that it was a word from the Lord to me. I asked her if she knew the man that had said the same thing back in December and she did not know him. That is twice, the Lord has said to “hold on.” We lost custody of this little boy and I thought our ride was over…..we had held on but now our trials were over….now we could retreat and heal from the past couple of years.
Then the call came
My sister called me on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Now, she rarely calls me on a Tuesday…we talk on Monday. I asked her if everything was okay and she said that she woke up to an odd text. She said it was from a friend, a former neighbor, that she used to walk with. That friend said that the Lord placed my name on her heart and that she was praying for me.
I have never met, spoken to, or even seen a picture of this woman. She simply knows me from what my sister had said and I’m sure I wasn’t the topic of every conversation…although I am awesome like that. I told my sister I did not like that and that meant that something was fixing to happen. My sister told me to take it as a blessing, but I was unsettled.
On June 6, 2017
I knew the meaning and the prophecy behind my theme verse and behind these people telling me to hold on tight to hope. I knew what was to come was going to rock our family to its core….and it did just that. I had spent the previous night in the hospital with my Lady…..the Drs had told me her time is near.
Preparing for the death of your mentor, your best friend, your Lady……there are no words for that. When I got home on the 7th, my son was acting strangely, crying, shaking, everything upset him, so we were really excited for naptime (or at least I was excited). He slept well and my oldest son got him up.
We hugged and snuggled and then I put him on the floor and told him to go about 5 steps to the potty. He went 3 steps and fell….he began shaking violently and said his legs hurt. I picked him up, thinking his legs were asleep, so I held him even more and I rubbed his legs. I put him back down to go to the potty and he fell again.
I knew, then, something was wrong. I called my sister (his grandmother) and said meet me at the ER, the baby can’t walk. From there, we went to Vandy with no results…we got back home and I immediately packed and headed to Kosair’s.
Running on No Sleep
I had not slept since the 5th because I had been at the hospital around the clock with my Lady. Bart stayed home with the other children. Things progressed quickly. He had lost his ability to stand, talk, feed himself, sit up, walk…..all he did was shake from the top of his head down. His eyes were constantly moving, as well.
After a 2-week hospital stay, spinal, EKGs, and so many more tests….we got the diagnosis of Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. He has either had cancer and his body has so aggressively attacked cancer that now it is attacking his brain OR he will get cancer within the next 3 years and this is just a precursor. During this time, I had to learn to yield control. I had to graciously accept help and ask for help. It was just me and him up there most of the time.
Blessings of Others
I had strangers bringing me meals. I had family come up and sit with me. My sister *always* had her phone by her so I could sit and just cry. Friends and strangers fed my family at home, people gave us money for gas, we were on multiple prayer lists. I am still humbled by being on the receiving end instead of the giving end. Our journey is far from over. Since, we have done chemo, heavy steroids, and many doses of immunotherapy. He still struggles….every day is a different symptom. He has good days and bad days.
Hold On, God is Fixing to Start a New Color
Looking back in what I was seeing as hopeless….God was still telling me to hold onto hope….hold onto that rope of hope. Looking back, my husband was delivered and our marriage was saved, my best friend who had a stroke and was so sick finally went to see her Jesus, and she was restored, we adopted our 7th child right before Christmas in 2016, my father recovered from his stroke and his quadruple bypass, my niece is sober and safe in prison, our daughter who left due to her volatile behavior is figuring out life again, my oldest daughter is happily employed married, and with a baby, we won the insurance battle, and my 6th child will be able to hear (out of both ears) by Christmas, stitches were removed, surgeries healed from, and my baby, well, he is not in remission, but he is doing okay and we are learning how to navigate our new normal. God is good……….He is good all the time and all the time He is good. Job sums it up pretty well In chapter 42:5 I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my eyes.
Eventually, I will write about 2018-2021…the roller coast has not ended but my tapestry will be beautiful when it is done.
In Isaiah 30:19b it states that “He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.”
He knows your heart, He hears your cries and as His children, He will answer you…but it may not be the answer that we want because we see a fraction of the picture…He sees from beginning to end.
Be comforted in knowing that “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning to end.” Eccl. 3:11 He has written your story…He has it all in the palm of His mighty hands. Trust and obey every step of the way.
We are STILL holding onto hope cause 2021 has been a rough one.