Thursday, May 18, 2017

He Cried at My Wedding

He cried that day. He broke down; tears dropped down his cheeks; he hid his face briefly before he took a deep breath to watch me as I walked down the aisle with my son.

I asked him later, or maybe he asked me if I knew why. Either way, I did know why he cried. I wanted to also cry. There was a hitch in my step as I saw him. The feeling to run away wasn't what I felt; I felt the need to rush to him and throw myself into his arms. But proper behaviour had me gripping my son's arm as he escorted me to stand before the man who would be my husband.

I know that I wasn't his family's favored woman for him. I was older (technically still am). I was Southern Baptist. He was Pentecostal. But all that didn't matter to us.

Maybe it was that first meeting long ago when my brother introduced his best friend. I did gasp a little and felt a kinship with him. I made sure whenever he and my brother visited there were drinks and snacks, especially for him (he's diabetic). Maybe it was that day my brother married. His best friend married on the same day he turned another year older. My oldest son and I were there as witnesses. Maybe it was the playful attitude as I tried to capture his picture.

Whatever the moment, somewhere along that path that God set us upon, we grew closer. We both experienced heartache of having death steal a loved one away. We had a bond that we never noticed at first. Then one day it changed. Barely three weeks later we were together, and wondered why did it take us so long?

Answer: we needed to have our hearts ready. And now that it's his birthday, it had me thinking that these four and half years of marriage to him had been the most wonderful, despite our trials in life. 

We know each other as well as we know ourselves. Our happiness comes from the each other's happiness. His smile makes me feel loved. Without him, I am incomplete. God brought us together. God made us one flesh. 

Today as we celebrate his birthday, I can't help but be thankful that I have this man by my side in all things. His love for his stepsons, for his family, and for me shines a brightness upon us all. 

Happy birthday, my husband, my beloved. 
(and Happy anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Prove Me Wrong

Prove Me Wrong is a song sung by Mandisa. I started watching the lyric video, but stopped before I reached the midway point. It was beautiful, and it sang to my heart; but I don't want to cry today. But because, after all these longs years, I denied myself a chance to cry at all my heartbreaks, thinking that I had to stay strong for my kids, for my family, for myself even, in the end all I did was damage my own heart. Like the song says, prove me wrong. And I was. I was proven wrong that I had to be strong. I should have cried; because then I would have emptied my soul out to God and it wouldn't have taken so long to heal.

I didn't cry that much. I held it in when I lost my daughter. I remember holding her little body that never took a breath. Days later I dreamed of her. My son ran through the door. It was so bright outside that the sunlight spilled into the small living room of our single wide. There at the door was my little blonde headed daughter, smiling and with such life in her eyes. She waved and went outside to play.
That was a healing dream, I believe. God gave me a chance to see her alive and happy.

When my grandmother died a couple years after, I didn't cry. I was lonely because this was my favorite grandmother, the one who was always there for me and who I spent a lot of time with, be it watching a baseball game or taking her to the doctor. Shortly after, I awoke from sleep (or thought I did) and there she was sitting at the foot of my bed with a deck of cards. She spoke to me (I don't remember what was said) and started dealing the cards to play rummy. God allowed a healing dream and one that gave me one last time with my grandma.

When Jimmy died, I became a widow. Before we married he told me that God would take him home while he was doing something that he loved. He loved being a firefighter. He knew it was his calling. And he was killed in the line of duty. I don't remember days after that, nor weeks. It is all a blur, even today. But I do remember my daddy's hands comforting me throughout the ordeal. 

Two months later, my dad died. I couldn't save him. I can't remember exactly what happened. My mind has blocked the memory, but I refused to cry. I had boys to take care of, and my mom to be strong for, so I couldn't allow myself to cry.

For months I dreamed of Jimmy and Daddy. Soon Jimmy said farewell in a dream. I was healed from that heartache. But I never faced my dad's death. Even today, six years later. I can't listen to the song "Daddy's Hand" without breaking down. I still dream of him from time to time. 

I've experienced an ectopic pregnancy and lost that child. I miscarried again five months later. I am not able to have another child, and that's a loss to me. I didn't cry. Why should I?, I thought. Then I dreamed, many nights, lots of dreams. I held a baby, I cuddled a baby, I called him John Arno (because that would have been the boy's name), I loved him. Then I would wake up.

God gave me a chance with all these dreams to be able to heal. Sometimes I allowed it. Sometimes I haven't. I still question why He took my father away? Why He didn't allow me to have one more child? 

 And  now this song by Mandisa says it all. His ways are higher, and I may never understand. But I can lean on Him, and maybe someday in the loneliest hour, in solitude, I may allow myself to cry and fully empty my heart out to Him, the One who knows. That day may be today....

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month and unfortunately most people do not understand what "autism" means. Even myself cannot fathom the depths of this condition, but I have met two extremely handsome young men and one beautiful little girl with autism.

Just a little over two years ago my son befriended a boy around his age who was diagnosed with ADHD but also with autism. I'm guessing the autism was slight, but it had him where he seemed always a little behind in maturity compared to the other boys. Noah was a delight to have around. And I quickly learned how to deal with his conditions and how to help him respond to our lifestyle at our home. Sadly, he no longer comes around and we miss him at times, but that year and a half made a difference in not only my life, but that of my son's.

 About five years ago I started attending my husband's church. We were engaged at the time. Although the Pentecostal church was quite different than what I was used to, I became enraptured over a little girl who had autism. Sometimes I felt as though she was misunderstood, but for some reason my son and I developed a small rapport with her. She loved colors and I tried to encourage her to communicate through her coloring. For a while she did and began to hang around me. I loved her and thought she was so precious. Sadly, once we left the church, I never saw her again.

Six years ago I met fellow author D'Ann Renner. She has a son with autism. This was my first time ever seeing a child with this condition. At first I didn't understand it or knew what to make of it, but with D'Ann's help her son, Luke, and I could carry on a limited conversation. I even received a hug from him. 

It takes courage and strength to raise a child with autism. This isn't some mental illness or something to despise or consider a sad life happening. No. This is an opportunity for others. Each person I met saw life in a different way, an innocent way. Watching through their eyes opened mine. Because of their lack of communication skill, which varies greatly, it is difficult to raise these children at times. To me though, the women and men who have autistic children have a hidden blessing. They see more to the life God wants us to lead than any other person ever could.

To celebrate April Autism Awareness Month, I would like to share with you the story D'Ann wrote; a story inspired by her son, Luke. Follow the link at the end to read more about D'Ann Renner on Rebel Book Reviews. Click on the title if you would like the option to purchase a copy of the book.

"In her own unique way of writing, D'Ann brought forth a truly wonderful tale. From the first page I was captured and pulled into a story that gave me a heart-rendering and intimate look inside life with a special needs child. To make it even more potent, D'Ann Renner shows, not just tells about, life with an adopted special needs child. From laughter to tears and back again, this book is more than just a's a look into true family love.

The title, to me, is most profound. Life with a special needs can be hard, at most times frustrating. It can feel as though you are living in the shadow of the world, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Her portrait of the heartache, the joy, and the wonder of life is an eyeopener to a world most cannot even imagine, and it is a definite must read."