A week before Christmas, my husband and I stopped at a local restaurant for lunch. The hostess seated us in a booth and took our order. As we were eating our lunch, an elderly man entered the restaurant, did not have a hostess seat him and sat himself down in a booth two down from us. As soon as I saw him, I told my husband that the gentleman reminded me of my step dad, who is deceased. No one was in the booth between us and I could see the man sitting at his table. I kept thinking about my step dad and how much I missed him. After we paid for our meal, I asked the hostess if I could secretly pay for the gentleman’s meal sitting in the nearby booth. She told me that the man had not ordered anything yet and had just been looking at the menu for a long time. So, I decided to just buy a restaurant gift card and give it to him. So I purchased the gift card and approached him. He was looking at the menu and was running one finger over the pictures of food on the menu. In addition, I noticed that he did not have a drink on his table which is unusual. I said “hello, I would like to buy your lunch today”. He looked up said “and why is this?”. I slid the gift card over the table top towards him and said “because you remind me of someone I used to know and I miss him”. He smiled, looked me straight in the eye, stuck out his hand for a handshake and said “Merry Christmas”. Not thank you (of which I did not care), or any other statement except “Merry Christmas” and I got the clear message that he had given me a gift, not vice versa. Maybe he was not an angel. Maybe he was not a messenger. But in my heart, he was sent to give me a special gift of a smile, a touch and a Merry Christmas message from someone who I love, loved and miss immensely. I will never forget.
It’s been awhile and for good reason. First of all, following my last entry, my son is doing so much better. He is healthy, happy and managing his alcohol at an acceptable level for now. It wasn’t because of rehab. He just decided to pull himself together.
I am also doing better and not only because he is doing better. I had a very serious medical diagnosis and I did a lot of reflection, a lot of praying, and it finally hit home to me in a very real way that all of the worrying I have basically done my whole life has changed nothing. It has had a very negative impact on my health and well being and that was all that I gained from it.
I found out I had a brain tumor in late May of 2019. I saw a neurosurgeon in early June and had craniotomy surgery in late June of 2019 to remove the tumor. I didn’t know what would be the outcome. So after the diagnosis, I basically had one month to get my shit together. My whole family pulled together and became my great support system. I prepared my will and my medical advance directive and did a lot of praying.
I thought I had always prayed the “right” way and at least in words, gave my family over to the Lord’s care. But you know, I said the words but I couldn’t cross that line of actually believing they could be in the Lord’s hands and would be okay without me. Until I was faced with my own possible demise, I never really took the step back to look at our family dynamics objectively. I had to take a lot of steps back and take a long hard look. I did a lot of praying and really releasing them from deep within my heart and into the hands of the Lord was not easy, but I did it. I gained a sweet peace when finally giving them over completely to the One that knows and loves them best.
I had three life changing moments that I want to share with you.
One, although I wanted the best probable outcome, through prayer I found peace that no matter what the outcome, it was a win/win situation for me. If I survived the surgery (which was risky due to the location), I would wake up to see the faces of my family. If I didn’t survive surgery, I would wake to find myself worshiping at the feet of Jesus. I could not lose!! But, I did pray that if it be at all possible, I would like to spend more time with my family. Even if I lived to be 100, time on earth is so short compared to Eternity. It was a selfish prayer I guess. But, since I am writing this right now, it was one that was answered. I cling to the peace that I have found in knowing, fully knowing, that my eventual death will not be anything to fear.
Second, I asked the Lord to send an angel to be by my side during surgery. Very clearly, in my thoughts, He replied: “oh honey, you won’t just have one angel, but a whole operating room full of angels”. And I saw it all in my mind. Me, on the operating table, and angels slightly behind each person on my medical team, whispering in their ears and guiding their hands. Other angels were behind them with their arms crossed over their chests, guarding. I remembered those words and that scene as I went into surgery.
Third, as I was being wheeled away to prepare for surgery, I looked at my whole family and realized that they would be okay without me. We all had stood in a circle with our hands together in the waiting room and prayed. They were facing the possibility of that being the last time we might see each other. They were strong, they had each other and they were prepared. That moment brought home how the dynamics of family changes. To me, my husband and my children are my everything. But to them, they have gone on to have their own children and families and those people are their everything. And, that is how it should be for them and I’m glad I raised them to love their families with all their might.
In closing, my surgery was a complete success. My neurosurgeon said there would be residual but he got all he could physically see. With residual, I would need follow up radiation and the post mri would show how much we were dealing with . My post MRI showed the tumor was successfully removed with no residual. Praise God. I will have another MRI in January of 2020 to see if there is regrowth.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
May you find peace in the midst of your own storms.
Here is where we are at today. My son spiraled down after signing divorce papers. He was drinking up to 2/5 of vodka a day. His depression, his alcoholism was winning. He decided to go to the emergency room at the local hospital (on his own) which was a good thing. I took him there and stayed with him until they discharged him several hours later with no admission into the behavioral unit. He is at our house now and actively seeking a treatment center for co occurring and dual diagnosis treatment. This is where it gets tough. His medical insurance is not very good, he has no money or resources and he will probably lose his job. All web designers make every treatment center look good. How to choose and how to not rack up so much debt that he’ll never get out from under it but get the treatment he needs to lead a whole life is overwhelming. Please pray for him to find the right path. Yes, his life is worth every cent of debt but if two centers provide quality treatment but at a vastly different cost, then these options must be weighed. It is going to come down to how much he is willing to fight. I hate it that cost even has to be considered in any way. I’m trying to step back and let him do the work because I feel it is important for him to make the decision for treatment. I gave him over to God and now I have to work on myself to not intervene. If you believe in prayer, now is the time to offer up a prayer of guidance on his behalf. His very life depends on it and I don’t want to lose another son.
I’m finally back to my blog. My previous post was about my son, his depression, his failing marriage and my questioning of God.
I’m still floundering a bit. I seem to have this overwhelming need to “get it right” and if I get it right, all will be well. What exactly is “get it right”? That’s a very good question and one that I am still trying to find the answer. If I get it right, will God hear and answer my prayers, will my children be healed from depression, ptsd and alcoholism? Will every day bring forth a new exciting revelation of hope and joy? This is ridiculous and I know it but I can’t seem to stop feeling like if I just tweak my parenting and praying and so on, all will have a fairy tale ending. In my mind I know that my driving desire to do all things right to get the best outcome is (1) somewhat self serving (2) putting myself in God’s shoes and (3) not wanting to accept the answers God has given me. And yet, I stop short of criticizing myself at being selfish or having selfish motivation. I just want my family to be healed and with that healing to have joy. I would give up my life for that, for them, so I don’t feel like I am being selfish.
Well, my son came and stayed with us for two weeks. He was very depressed and turned to alcohol which fed his depression which led to some suicidal thoughts. My only criteria for him staying with us was that he would not bring alcohol into our home. He agreed and kept that promise. The first order of business was for him to see a doctor and he made the appointment within two days of coming to our home. He is trying a new anti depressant. Also, during that two weeks, we sat down with him and looked at managing his finances due to loss of a second income. That was enough for me to be depressed for him!! He makes enough money to pay his house payment, car payment, insurance and gas to drive to work. That’s it! No money for food, doctors, medicines and etc. So the first order of business was to explore options of earning additional income and he also came to the full realization of needing to find employment elsewhere. Progress. He is at his own home now.
So now, here is where it gets sticky. Al Anon says don’t be an enabler. But, I feel like we are dealing with more than alcoholism. We are also dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies. So, we (my husband and I) are in total agreement that with this quandry, we would do the very basics that Jesus tells us to do which is feed the hungry, minister to the sick and love. So, when I thought about this from a Biblical perspective, I thought of a scenario of someone walking down the street and seeing a homeless person who was hungry and destitute. Would Jesus want that homeless and hungry person to be questioned about why and how they got in this condition and then the questioner decide if they or their circumstances deemed them worthy of being fed? All are worthy. We will provide food and/or provide meals to our son as needed. He is always welcome to stay with us as needed. We will pay medical and doctor bills as needed. We will not give him money. We will continue to provide guidance and encouragement in how to better his current financial state.
With all that being said, he is doing better and is figuring out a plan. He is preparing and fixing up his home so he can put it up for sale. After he sells his home, he has more options as to whether to relocate in a totally different geographical area or to stay in this area. He is getting job applications and seeking better employment. He is pushing himself to make more positive choices in interacting with people and doing activities instead of sitting home alone. He has been to the doctor and is trying a new anti depressant.
I went through a long period of feeling like God had abandoned me. I still feel that way at times. But something in the core of my very being still believes and will always believe in God. I came to the realization that “giving over” to God was not the same as “giving up” on my son. Something inside of me has never been able to accept this seemingly simple but complex difference. Until recently.
Dear reader, may the God who provides peace during the storm, provide you with a feeling of peace, contentment and even joy. I will always believe in my God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Last week brought heartache to our family. My son’s wife left him, taking her son from a previous marriage with her. That precious boy is still our grandson, no matter what happens next. In my heart, there are no step children or step grandchildren in our family and divorce, if it comes to that, will not sever the tie between our grandson and us. My husband and I feel the same about this. My children and grandchildren are his own. His son and grandchildren are my own. Any grandchildren that were brought into our family by prior marriages are treated and loved the same as the others.
Who, what, why, when and where are all questions that come to mind in regards to this break up. I could probably answer all those questions, if so inclined, but I am just now settling my mind down to some sort of acceptance so I don’t want to push it. My son is an alcoholic although doing better these past few months, this is the consequence for actions when he was at his worst. He also suffers from depression and usually winter is a very hard time for him but not this year. This winter, he didn’t have his usual episode of darkness and found himself smiling for no reason. Until now. Although I am not surprised that his wife left, I have to question, why now? Why now, when he was smiling and happy?
I ranted and raved a bit at God. He doesn’t seem to ever answer my prayers, at least that I can see. It seems like my prayers are futile about so many things: healing for the sick, hope for the depressed, among others. My prayers are not blanket prayers such as “heal the sick” but very specific and very heartfelt. The silence from God is more profound, the more I pray. Sometimes I wonder that if I never prayed at all, never expected a miracle or answered prayer for healing, hope, peace or joy for those I love, would I be better off?
So, when I get to feeling this way and don’t know where to turn, I open the Bible. It never fails that as I randomly just pick a passage, it always speaks to me and gives me peace. Who randomly reads a passage from Micah? This girl and it did speak to me, and put me in my place and gave me direction. In the first few verses of Micah Chapter 6, the people of Israel are getting a little tongue lashing. Ouch, I read this right after ranting and raving to God. So, this humbled me and I had to ask forgiveness and acknowledge that even though our family has had more than our share of heartache, God has always, always, been with me. I never went through anything alone. He always provided. Ouch again, Micah chapter 6, verse 7 “shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul”? I sort of lost my breath during that verse because yes, my son is my firstborn, the fruit of my body and I had ranted and raved to God and now regret it. But then, verse 8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. And verse 8 of Micah chapter 6 is the direction and attitude that I must take.
So, as I move forward to a new week, I will try to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I needed this reminder to stop making everything so complicated.
My son, who suffers from depression, stopped by for a few minutes the other day. It’s winter and gloomy and this is the season in which his depression rears it’s ugliest head. A typical winter brings a sense of despondency in his life which leads to his “family team” to make multiple suggestions and ask questions such as “maybe you should try a new medication”, “have you seen your doctor?”, “how about trying light therapy?”, “are you feeling suicidal?”, “drinking in excess?”, “are you ready for rehab and/or inpatient?” and so on. I have come to the full realization that I am helpless to help him.
Several years ago, more like 25 years ago, I dreamed that he was full of joy. He was looking at a woman and a young girl and on their faces were looks of adoration and on his face was pure joy. I’ve always held on to that dream and I’ve prayed to God so many times for him to have joy. My wish for him is not fame or fortune, but pure joy.
So anyway, getting back to his visit, I invited him to stay and eat with us. As we were eating and chatting about nothing of importance and ignoring the elephant in the room, he told me that this year is different. He doesn’t know why it is happening but he said “I catch myself smiling for no reason.” I thought about that long ago dream again and a glimmer of hope fluttered in my heart. This!! This is what I want for him!! Smiling for no reason! Joy! I’m afraid to hope that it will be long lasting but I would give anything for it to be true. I’m almost afraid for the next visit or the next phone call that may indicate a downward spiral into that dark pit of despair. But for today, I am so very happy for the winter smile. I love you, son.
One of my sons is an army veteran. He was deployed to Iraq and spent a volatile 15 months as an infantry Sergeant in and around Baghdad. I cried every single day he was gone. I prayed to God every day to keep him safe. Every single day God told me to end my prayer by singing the Doxology of “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”. It seemed weird but I had to do it. Maybe God just wanted me to praise Him through the tumult and so I did.
After my son’s deployment ended, a part of him returned to the United States. A part of him was missing forever. My son came back as a stranger to us and a stranger to himself. He has spent the last few years trying to find himself and heal from wounds that are not visible. He has PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and multiple blast TBI (traumatic brain injury).
My son is a talented carpenter who sometimes doesn’t know the word for hammer, wrench, or level. My son is a lover of nature who sometimes goes for a walk in the woods behind his home and suddenly does not know where he is or how to get home. My son is a loving devoted husband and father who fades away from his wife and daughters at times, as he remembers the atrocities of war, especially on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
My son is a Pastor who reaches out to others with PTSD and other wounds of war. He can relate to them in a way that no other Pastor in our area is able. I have questioned God as to why He has not healed my son. But maybe the very reason is so my son can reach out to those with PTSD in their darkest hours and give them hope.