Top Posts of 2016

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Can you believe it’s the last day of 2016?  Thank you for following my family’s journey this year.  Here are the top 5 posts for 2016.

#5  Sensory Processing Disorder: A Day at the Dentist

I still cringe when I think about Mikayla and Hope’s visit to the dentist in July.  I was embarrassed and I felt like a horrible mom.  But then I found a note in my mailbox from the ladies at the dentist’s office.  They didn’t look at me and see a bad mom.  They looked at me and they saw a good mom having a bad day.  It’s no surprise that this post would resonate with my readers.  I think we often listen to and believe the lie that we’re bad moms. But the truth is that we’re good moms just having a bad day.

#4  Putting My Trash Out for Everyone to See

I didn’t want to write this post.  I put off writing about it for months because I didn’t want everyone to know that I struggle with anxiety.  But then one day as I was cleaning the basement I felt that it was time to write about it.  So I hit publish and here it is at #4 for the year.

#3  The Case of the Missing Coats

This post makes me look a bit foolish.  I ran all over our church looking for coats that were still in our van.  But God used my foolish moment to lead me to the right person at the right time.  I learned a valuable lesson.  Searching for the answers to our girls futures is much like searching for their missing coats.   I ran all over the church trying to find their coats but I didn’t find them.  It was when I stopped and asked God for His help that the coats were found.  I can run all over this earth searching for services, therapists, and schools for our girls and not find them.  But if I just stop and ask God to help me He will answer.

#2  Putting the Pieces Back Together Again

This post was about my husband fixing our washer for $15.  God reminded me that He wants to fix those areas of our life that are broken.  Sometimes a part of our life will work for years and then it will suddenly no longer work as well as it used to.  Homeschooling was a piece of our life that was no longer working for Mikayla and Hope.  We decided to enroll them in public school and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made

And the top read post in 2016 was:

#1  The Night Her World Fell Apart

This post was about Mikayla processing the disappointment of Grandpa’s birthday party being canceled.  She experienced her first ugly cry.  It was a moment that broke my heart but yet it made me happy at the same time.  Because once upon a time our girls didn’t show emotion.  We crawled into bed and I just sat and listened to Mikayla and Hope share with me what things are most important to them.  This moment taught me to slow down, listen, and savor the moments with our girls.

Happy New Year!

Putting My Trash Out For Everyone To See

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I was cleaning the basement and I found a few boxes that needed to be thrown away.  I tossed them onto the ever-growing pile of boxes that’s been in our basement for longer than I care to admit.  As I tossed the last box on the pile I decided it was time to carry them upstairs and get rid of them.  If they are hiding in the basement I’ll never get rid of them.  It was too windy to burn them.  There was no way they would all fit in the trash can for the next trash pickup.  So I decided to put them on the front porch.  If I’m forced to look at them every time I drive up the driveway then I’ll actually get rid of them.  I’ll just add a few of them to the trash each week until they’re gone.

I like things to be neat and tidy so I cringed as I put the boxes out on the front porch.  I was putting my trash out for everyone to see.  And I’m feeling the same way right now as I type these words.  It makes me uncomfortable when I think about everyone knowing what I’m going through.  I’m putting my trash out for everyone to see. Sometimes we have to drag our problems out of the basement so that we’ll actually deal with them.  When we’re forced to look at them we have a greater chance of getting rid of them.  I risk being judged.  But I choose to tell my story anyway because my story matters.  My story may look a lot like your story.  I hope it helps you to know that you’re not alone.  Your story may look nothing like mine but I pray that the words I’m getting ready to share will touch your heart in some way.  I’m glad you’re here to join me in my story.

Anxiety.  I really hate that word.  I hate the way that it makes me feel.  It slowly started creeping into my life 2 years ago.   I tried to ignore it.  Then I prayed for God to take it away.  I looked up scriptures about anxiety and I told myself to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6-7).  I went forward at church and had people pray for me. And yet it continued to torment me every single day.   I was having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.   I was experiencing fatigue that was so severe that walking across the house was difficult.   My mind would frequently go blank.  I couldn’t concentrate and I was extremely irritable. Every day I had moments when I felt  like I couldn’t breathe.  I lived like this for a year.  I finally decided it was time to call the doctor.  Tomorrow.  I’ll call the doctor tomorrow.

That evening a picture came across my facebook newsfeed. The top half of the picture was a pill bottle and it said “What they say you need”.  The bottom half was a picture of a Bible and it said “What you really need”.  The picture sent a message that was loud and clear.  If you’re a Christian then all you have to do is read the Bible and your anxiety will go away.  As I sat on my bed and continued to look at that picture I was reminded of the voices from the past.  The voices that said if you’re depressed or have anxiety then you need to pray more and read more.  Christians aren’t supposed to have anxiety.  If you go to the doctor for medication then you aren’t trusting God to heal you.  I allowed that picture to condemn me.  As I fell asleep that night condemnation covered me like a blanket.   The next morning I didn’t call the doctor.  I chose to continue suffering.

As 2016 unfolded I believed that this year was going to be a better year.  But then a series of events took place that added a great deal of stress to our life.  Our insurance company quit paying for the girls therapies.   We had to begin the process of finding a way for the girls to receive their therapies.  We decided to stop homeschooling and enroll the girls in public school.  I attended several meetings to set up their IEP for this school year.  The girls behavior problems escalated and we decided to attend PCIT (Parent-child interaction therapy).   I spent 10 hours filling out paperwork for our family to start the PCIT.  I jumped through all of the hoops to get us on their schedule only to find out we would have to wait 8 months for our first appointment.  I secretly wondered if our family would survive the long wait. I was relieved when everything was in place for the PCIT and for the girls to start school in the fall. I finally felt like I could rest and that my life was going to get better. But it didn’t.

I started having panic attacks. They would come in the middle of the night, at a graduation ceremony, or even at church. I found myself fleeing from social situations because my heart was pounding and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I would drop the girls off at their class at church, go sit in the sanctuary, and then flee from the room as soon as the worship music started. The sounds of the instruments and the crowd were just too much for me to handle. I didn’t go to church for 3 weeks. Then one morning I woke up, took a shower, and went back to bed because the fatigue was so severe. I did this 3 days in a row. On the third day Brett came into the bedroom and he sat down beside me.  He told me that he loved me and he couldn’t stand to see me like this. He asked me to go to the doctor.  I agreed to go because it was clear that the anxiety was no longer just affecting me. It was affecting my entire family.  The next morning I called the doctor and made an appointment.

As I told the nurse my symptoms she smiled and she told me that I’m not alone.   The physician’s assistant also told me that I’m not alone.   As I walked out of the doctor’s office I felt foolish.   I waited 2 years to see a doctor.   I’d let the anxiety get so bad that I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I’d allowed the fear of what people would think of me become more important than my health and my family.  And I regret it.

I’ve been taking anxiety medication for 4 months.   I’m finally able to sleep and fatigue no longer torments me.  I still have moments each day when I feel like I can’t breathe.  And I’m still irritable.  Ask my sweet husband.    So even though I’m on medication I still have some anxiety symptoms.  The boxes on our front porch didn’t disappear overnight and neither has my anxiety.  But each week a few boxes disappear and the pile gets smaller.  I trust that as time passes my anxiety symptoms will decrease and hopefully one day they will disappear.  But right now I recognize and celebrate each victory along the way.  Last Sunday was a victory.  Brett patted my thigh during the sermon.  He could tell I was having a hard time and he was telling me he was proud of me for coming to church and not fleeing from the sanctuary.  I’m learning that victory isn’t just at the end of the race.  But it’s in each step that you take from the beginning to the end.

God heals.  I know that with all of my heart.  But He doesn’t always choose to heal in the way that we want Him to.  I wanted my healing to come in an instant.  I pray and then God makes all of my problems go away.  Isn’t that what we all want?  But it’s not always what God thinks is best for us.  Sometimes God chooses to walk us through our problems instead of around them.  God is choosing to walk me through this one step at a time instead of instantly delivering me from it.   I will learn lessons through the journey that I wouldn’t have learned if I’d been delivered from it.

I don’t understand anxiety.  It knocked me down like a freight train during a time when I felt like things were finally falling into place for our family.  I wasn’t sitting around worrying.  I was hopeful for the future.  But anxiety knocked me down anyway.  11 years ago I became mom to 2 little sweethearts who have disabilities.  And I now understand something that I never understood before.  People who experience anxiety need to be shown grace instead of judgment.  We have no idea how many meltdowns a mom and dad have watched their child have that day.  Or what the test results said.  Or how many times a mom has heard her child say the same phrase over and over again.  Or what kind of battle took place when a child had to put his clothes on.  Or if the mom and dad we see at the store have been sitting beside their daughter’s hospital bed wondering if she’s going to live or die.  There are so many people in this world going through some really hard stuff.  So let’s pause and think before we hit the share button on facebook.  Let’s make sure that we’re showing people grace instead of judgment.

Anxiety Is Not My Friend

I’m not gonna lie.  The last couple of weeks have been rough.  Anxiety is real.  It’s like an unwelcome guest who just won’t leave no matter how much I want it to.  I drop kick it out the front door and then it sneaks in the backdoor.  After a phone call with our insurance company it latched onto me like a parasite.  And it followed me to bed Monday night and kept me company until 4 a.m. Anxiety is not my friend.

It all started a few weeks ago when it snowed.   Snow makes Mikayla feel anxious.  She deals with her anxiety by following me around all day and talking nonstop.  I began to experience a fair amount of anxiety after spending 4 days with my chatty mini-me shadow.  Wednesday came, the roads were clear, and we headed to church.  I took the girls to their class and I went into the worship service thinking that I would be able to relax and regroup.

We were halfway through the first song and I began to feel claustrophobic.  The drums that have never bothered me before were making my chest pound.  I grabbed my purse, bolted out of the sanctuary, and ran into the restroom.  And then it happened.  The worst ugly cry I’ve ever experienced in my entire life came pouring out of me. As I began to pull myself together the door opened and my friend was suddenly by my side.  She has a lot of experience working with special needs adults.  She listened as I shared what was bothering me and she encouraged me.  And then she said 3 words that sent me over the edge.  She said “I get it.”  As soon as those words were out of her mouth I lost it.  I asked her “Do you get it?  Do either of your children have anything wrong with them? Do you deal with special needs 24 hours a day without a break? Do you have to worry about if your kids will ever leave home?”  As soon as I spit out the last word I wished I could take it all back.  I usually just think those things when people tell me they understand.  I’ve never actually said them to anyone.  But it happened.  I was glad that it happened with a friend who will continue to love me even when I’m unlovable.

Hope had a really bad day at church last Sunday.   Something wasn’t right even before she went to class.  But I was hoping that she would settle down and enjoy class.  I got a negative report from our frazzled friend you was helping Hope during class.  I was feeling as if everything was spiraling out of control.  Things I thought the girls had finally overcome were coming back to haunt us once again.  I was so discouraged.

Our insurance company denied a couple of medical claims that we thought they would pay.  Totally frustrating.  And our insurance is also in the process of reviewing the medical necessity of our girls therapies.  A couple of the therapists met with me to discuss what we need to do if the insurance decides to stop paying for the girls therapies.  It wasn’t an easy conversation.  I didn’t sleep that night because of all of the questions racing through my mind.  What if they quit paying for therapies? What are we going to do then?  How can this be happening?  The insurance will let us know their decision by February 19th.  And so we wait.

So I’m totally stressed out and I look at the calendar.  A mammogram on the 27th?  That should help my anxiety, right?  Oh joy.  I didn’t want to reschedule it so I go to the appointment.  She calls me in and hands me the gown.  She tells me the gown opens in the front.  If you’re wearing deodorant you need to use a wipe to remove it for the test.  Put your clothes in a locker.  Keep your purse with you.  Sit in the waiting area and we’ll call you soon.   Yes.  I know all of this.  I’ve done it before.  But thank you.

I’m reading my book and waiting for them to call my name.  And then I suddenly realize that I didn’t remove my deodorant.  How in the world did I forget to do that? She even told me to do it.  So I ran to one of the dressing rooms and removed my deodorant.  I got back before they called my name.  After the test was over I went into one of the dressing rooms, put my purse on the chair, and then felt like a complete idiot.  It’s kinda hard to put your clothes back on when you forget to stop at the locker and get your clothes.  So I sneak out of the dressing room, grab my clothes, sneak back in the dressing room, and get dressed.  Yep.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  Other than I don’t function well on 8 hours of sleep in 2 days time.  It’s really nothing that a 72 hour nap wouldn’t cure.

I went to church after I got home from my appointment even though I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t have a full-blown ugly cry in the restroom.  That’s progress.  As we stood for the closing prayer a friend came up to me.  She hugged me and she handed me a paper.

Paper from Amanda

 

So much truth that I needed to hear while I’m in the middle of my current mess.  The Lord will direct our steps.  If we lose insurance coverage for the girls therapies He will direct our steps.  He cares about every little detail of our lives.  He cares about our girls behavior.  He cares about my behavior.  He cares about how much sleep I get or don’t get.  He cares about the anxiety that I carry.  He wants me to give my burdens to Him and He will take care of me.  (Psalm 55:22)  It seems as if I’ve stumbled a million times in the last few weeks.  Yet He still holds my hand and I know that He will never let go.