Living with Lupus

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I can’t remember the last time I felt this sick for this long. I hate to say I’m suffering because I am more than aware there are so many people that are in much worse conditions than I.

It’s difficult for me to write about Lupus because I know how lucky I am to be given the gift of another day when I shouldn’t be here to write this. I know, as do my family & loved ones, how many times I’ve cheated death. That in itself is still impossible for me to put in writing, my experiences I not only survived when all Doctors believed I wouldn’t, but each individual near-death experience I remember in vivid detail. I think about those times, the emergency surgeries, being on life support hearing all medical personnel either screaming “We’re losing her” as they worked feverishly to bring me back from complete cardiac arrest or “It’s time to get her family here ASAP because she won’t make it through the night”. I could still HEAR, but nobody could hear ME screaming in my head, “NO! I’M NOT DYING, STOP SAYING THAT”. Those are memories I’ll never forget unlike the thousands of wonderful, loving memories erased from my brain in minutes from my stroke.

I know that God is working in my life especially now. I know the memories I wish I had are gone for a reason I’ll never understand but have faith in not knowing. I know I remember in stark, minute detail every second of every life-threatening situation for specific reasons: to be thankful for every second of every day I’m alive regardless of how I feel; to dedicate myself to being the best Mom I can be; to always reach out to help those in need; to challenge myself to not give up or give in. Living with Lupus isn’t really living when a flare is prolonged and complicated.

This week & last blend together in a blur of pain, no appetite, forcing fluids to keep my kidneys flushed, my hair falling out in clumps, the sheer exhaustion of simply brushing my teeth to name but a few. It’s very easy to get depressed, angry, frightened because you’re helpless. You have to ride it out for however long it lasts. Stay the course, keep your faith that the suffering isn’t for naught.. your attitude is more than half the battle. I hold onto my faith for dear life & will never give up. Living with Lupus is hard, so very hard. I don’t feel sorry for myself & don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I’m waiting this out with determination & faith. Isn’t that how we all should be living? I believe so! Peace, Jennifer

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The Miracles of Christmas

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There is a feeling of hope, anticipation and excitement every year when Christmas draws near. It’s getting increasingly difficult to get into the Spirit of Christmas when the retailers start putting up their displays at Halloween in this world of technology, entitlement & instant gratification in which we live..if we choose to live that way.

It IS possible to keep the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts throughout the entire year: the day the baby Jesus was born, our Savior! The very first Miracle!

A precious baby that grew into our Lord Jesus Christ, who performed miracle after miracle, healing the blind, the sick & the lame to state just a few examples. Jesus, the great Physician healed all who believed in Him (John 5 1:9).

I believe in Him for I’ve been granted miracle after miracle of true healing from serious health problems throughout my life thus far and just received yet another. I’ve survived medical emergencies that Doctors have no medical reason how I survived. I knew my Faith then was the reason & as time marches on, and I’m suddenly facing my 46th birthday when I feel like I’m still in my early 30’s, it’s impossible not to reflect on the simple fact that miracles do happen every day, yet these miracles feel so much more magical, spiritual when they happen right before Christmas.

Miracles come in all forms, shapes and sizes; many times they come disguised as Blessings we did not even realize we needed until we receive them. Sadly, many of us get easily caught up in the day to day mad rush of hurrying to get everything done; surely I am just the same at times! We are so preoccupied with all the many daily tasks that another day is over, never to be returned. Do you remember anything at all about your day? What did you have for lunch 2 days ago? Did you let another driver take the parking spot you were waiting for graciously, or did you get so angry you were ticked for the rest of your day? Choices. It’s all about choosing how you want to live your life and how you choose to take the high road, be a blessing to someone. Changing that mindset alone is a miracle that will not only bless others, it will indeed come back full circle to you when you’re the one that needs a miracle! The amazing part is how tremendous the gifts you give of yourself to the world unconditionally, without expecting anything in return, will indeed be given to you in great abundance not only when you least expect it but when you actually need it most. I’ve received untold blessings & miracles repeatedly since the day my car broke down & as I sit here with my coffee, looking at my Christmas tree, it’s impossible for me to not think of every single person that made Christmas this year a miracle all it’s own.

I stated in my last post that I got hit with a severe Lupus flare the weekend of Thanksgiving. I felt it coming on but I also had a bad cold & had been under severe stress for weeks prior, robbing me of any chance to sleep. The Saturday after the wonderful Thanksgiving spent with my family I felt horrible as I packed the car to get myself & Noah home. I could barely get out of the car 90 minutes later & I knew Lupus had arrived for a visit.

Hours turned into days that I could only do the minimum of my responsibilities, & the had no reserves to push through like I’m used to doing. Doctor appointments, endless lab work & other testing were as draining as taking a shower. My entire body hurt & if I could have slept around the clock I would have. I was so weak that if the phone rang, I couldn’t lift my arm to answer it…and it was right next to me.

Days turned into weeks, I drop out of contact with everyone because I didn’t have the strength to talk on the phone. When my friends don’t hear from me they know I need help but don’t know how to ask for it.

Here comes the nonstop help from my friends as Christmas was quickly approaching & I was too sick to do anything. First to arrive is Lisa with her 10 month old son Fritz..a baby to love! Lisa drove 4 hours one way for what I thought was a lovely visit to cheer me up; until Lisa starts unpacking a massive basket that was all for myself & Noah fmor Christmas. The freezer stocked full with homemade meals; gifts for Noah & myself, every detail planned. She made me open one card first, and I started crying not only from the generosity contained in that card, but the long list of names of every person that contributed from their hearts. The contents bought our tree, all of Noah’s gifts when I’d already prepared him for one gift this year, with enough leftover to really help me in the areas I needed most.

2 stockings filled to the top with goodies awaiting to see; gift cards & Christmas dinner prepaid. Not one detail was left out. Christmas, our first as a separated family, was literally given to Noah & I! What an overwhelming, generous, loving miracle with love from my dear friend Lisa & baby Fritz smiles, coos & kisses..a tremendous weight taken gently off my shoulders. I can’t wait for Noah to see more than one gift under the tree, let alone share the entire story with him finally! I can’t believe he’s still asleep, a miracle in itself when I’ve been up all night giving thanks for this miraculous Christmas!

I became sicker, the Lupus attacking my liver & kidneys along with the usual joint pain everywhere. Test after test, I feel like I’m losing my strength & I was..my physical strength not my Faith, my spiritual sustenance. Everyone rallied as I gathered myself to fight this on every level of my being…then my Uncle John, my Dads’ oldest brother, was suddenly called Home. I was numb. I tried to make the trip for his funeral but I was too sick to travel. I said my personal goodbye to him & prayed for all of my family. I sent Noah to stay with his Dad all this past week while I made every effort to get out of this flare, get answers, never once not believing I wouldn’t be home with Noah for this very important Christmas..and that miracle was also granted to me as my loved ones united to take care of me, like my friend Judy who put the lights on the tree & also went out of her way in taking care of me & last minute Christmas details right down to wrapping paper & ribbons.

Fast forward to Friday; I’m home & Noah finally returns. Oh isn’t he the very medicine I needed! We decorated our tree Saturday afternoon, a feeling of anxiety in the air as old family ornaments were hung on our tree. Sadness as the moment of reality settles in. We persevered, another miracle. It wasn’t even that upsetting when all the hard work literally came crashing down in the middle of the night because the tree fell over! Now that’s a memory to cherish!

I’m feeling better; not great but knew I was recovering faster than expected based on my increased energy, mobility, & reconnecting to the Spirit of Christmas, the season for miracles.

Christmas Eve arrives. I felt so good, like my regular self, that I never sat down once, baking, wrapping gifts, singing happily before showering & calling it a night. The biggest miracle of all on Christmas Eve..confirmation I am indeed on my way to a full recovery as I felt.

I stood at my kitchen window, washing dishes as the first snowflakes appeared. Soon it was really snowing..Christmas snow, filled with magic, miracles & love.
Falling silently to the ground, a cleansing, a renewal..a magical Christmas miracle to be enjoyed by all from the birth of the baby Jesus so long ago.

Merry Christmas everyone! May the Miracle of Christmas envelop you & your families today and every day!

Love,
~Jennifer~

Sorry Dr House, It IS Lupus

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I loved the show “House” and never missed a single episode. I can’t tell you how many times over the many years I’ve been battling this disease I wished I could find a genuine Doctor that could solve medical mysteries like the character that existed on television, for Lupus is indeed a medical mystery of epic proportions.

I have Lupus & have been in a prolonged flare that has become serious. I am suffering in pain no living creature on Earth should suffer; I’m so weak I can barely get off the sofa; so exhausted yet unable to get restorative sleep because my entire body hurts from head to toe.
I have been unable to do daily living let alone blog here yet have so much I need to say.

Yet no matter what, I will never stop fighting. I believe with every fiber of my being I’ve much awaiting me to fulfill on earth for years to come. I am a child of God and I ask you for healing prayers for me now. I am alive still because I haven’t yet accomplished all I am supposed to. PRAYERS WORK!! Let’s all pray not only for me, but for all illnesses to be healed.

I BELIEVE!! Do you?

God Bless,
Jennifer

The Mechanic from Mechanicsburg, PA Changed My Life

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D & S Auto, Simpson Ferry Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

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In my post “Thankful To Be Thankful” I promised to dedicate a post entirely to tell the incredible story of my car breaking down near the end of one of the single most trying weeks of my life. It happened almost 3 weeks ago on Thursday, November 15th, and this experience gave me the courage to face the unexpected heartbreak in my personal life that occurred later that same night. The story will restore your faith not only in humanity, but in the kindness of strangers wanting to help. We are so used to hearing about all the evil & bad in this world that we’ve become desensitized to another murder, another crime & forget that there are many good people living in this same world, right under your nose where you’re not looking.

If you go back and look at the dates of my posts thus far, I didn’t post a single entry from November 12 through November 20th..the longest, most trying days I’ve endured in a very long time. My last post was November 11th, “Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again”, the 2nd full day of conflict, confusion and inner turmoil that had me questioning everything I knew about my self and I had fought hard and long to achieve my independence, confidence, my sense of being complete & happy with my self long ago. The fact that I had unwittingly returned to my former mindset was not a place I wanted to be, but it was necessary apparently, says the Monday morning quarterback named Jennifer. There’s truth that for every step forward you get knocked 3 steps back occasionally; I believe this happens to remind you of the choice you have to make: take the temporary stumble backwards, learn from it & move on..or get stuck back where you used to be. I refuse to ever go back to where I used to be.

The troubles started to creep in a few days prior to Saturday, November 10th, the first day of a nightmare that I could not shake myself awake from because I was living it. I was being pulled in opposing directions from specific people in my life that was causing me to question my core being; what I really wanted, something I haven’t had to even entertain a thought about in a very long time. Feast or famine it appeared, & I really had little patience for this “game” as I don’t consider myself a participant of the mental games of life. I am an open book, easily read, brutally honest at times. I would rather be told the truth about anything than know instinctively that’s not happening. I didn’t like that mindset then & I wanted no part in any of this now or ever again, but there I was, stuck in the mire yet again. Although I had transformed myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually & physically, stress takes a toll on us all. I was physically tired, had multiple worries & that is usually a recipe for disaster for me as it is for everyone. It’s why we are human.

My biggest worry every day is my car. A 1993 Dodge Intrepid I named Bessie long ago, because she was a lemon I ignorantly drove off the lot long before the “Lemon law” of buying a car with known problems came into being.

Bessie is so old she has a cassette tape player, a cigarette lighter that can’t be used to charge your cell phone & a temper all her own. She starts when she wants to; she loses all power WHILE I’M DRIVING if she’s in a really bad mood; doesn’t like the air conditioner running in the summer or the heat/defroster in the winter. Bessie really hates cold weather, & I have to start her up at least 40 minutes prior to leaving every morning, wasting gas & praying she’s in a good enough mood to not stall while I’m driving Noah to school, our teeth chattering from lack of heat and it’s only November!

I know Bessie as intimately as I know myself. I know how to change tires, fill the various fluid reservoirs, check the oil, change the air filter & windshield wipers. I know when I have to drop her down to 3rd gear to prevent a stall & how to control her without power steering when she does stall. She’s an automatic but my very first car was a 5-speed & and I know how to handle this car.

I also recognize each particular odor that tells me a problem is imminent. I’d been smelling the familiar aroma that 8 different mechanics in the Philadelphia area could never completely fix but cost a minimum $600 to pass the annual inspection. I filed it away mentally to check the antifreeze but with everything that had transpired from Saturday, November 10 forward, I kept forgetting to check the reservoir.

It’s now Thursday, November 15. I hadn’t slept in many days & every fiber of my being was on high alert. My “fight or flight” hormones at the highest level ever as I fought my way through each day, Wednesday the day that had my very soul iced over in fear that I could not give in to as a Mother. I’ve had more than one brush with death and I tell you it’s not scary at all; it’s warm, peaceful, the knowledge that there will be no more pain, illness or exhaustion. I am not afraid of dying but I’ve never been more afraid, helpless in how to help my son that entire day & that fear kept me on watch that entire night. Close watch, in a town we’ve lived in just over a year without knowing the people to call locally for help with this situation. It’s private, something you share with your closest, tightest circle of support but only after the crisis has passed; in this situation I knew I had to face this straight on, myself, as a Mom. I had never felt more alone or scared in my entire life but relying on my survival skills, Faith & deep love for my son, there was nothing I wouldn’t do to get him through this intact. Nothing.

Thursday arrives, I start-up Bessie to take Noah to the bus stop this time. It was bitter cold, & every window had thick patches of frost covering them..Bessie refused to defrost. I get to the bus stop, notice the temperature gauge is pegged at “H” for Hot, smoke curling through the hood & that aroma gagging me. I knew from similar times that I had to get to the nearest mechanic before the engine caught on fire, which happened once, or the engine block cracked; either way I could not be without a car. Noah wished me luck & I floored Bessie while driving with my head out the window to see, forgetting I’m in my pajamas, a lightweight coat & hadn’t taken my morning meds let alone my first cup of coffee!

I remembered the above pictured garage just blocks from my house because I’m a frequent flyer of the mini-mart next door. I pulled in on 2 wheels, smoke everywhere & shut her off completely right in front of the mini marts’ front door.

I walk in, oblivious to my appearance & asked the gentleman at the register for help, an amputee of one leg named Barry, a lovely older gentleman that always has a smile on his face. He informed me that “Dan” the owner of D & S Auto right next door would not only help me but is considered, by word of mouth, to be the best, most honest mechanic in this town ironically named Mechanicsburg.

I walked over, walked into the shop & met Dan himself. We went back to Bessie, hood up & began looking her over. I look up minutes later, there are customers from the store surrounding the open hood, men of various ages talking about my dilemma, along with Barry, everyone obviously good buddies and drinking their coffee.
I was numb both from the cold, the car but mostly numb on the inside, paralyzed with fear & running on automatic.

The guys dispersed, Dan went to get tools & antifreeze & I didn’t realize I was standing alone, in my pajamas, in public during the morning rush hour on a heavily travelled road. I don’t know how long I stood there; I was completely dazed, exhausted yet wired, now wondering how much this bill was going to be & how I was going to pay it. I had no idea how I must have looked to passers-by and it wasn’t even on my radar of caring.

One person pulled into the parking lot & asked if I needed help; I thanked him & said I was getting help. I thought that was really nice, because had I been back in suburban Philadelphia I would’ve been walking home by then.

Another person does the same; & the longer I stood there, the more people stopped to make sure I was ok. I was in shock how many people chose to stop their trip to work to see if a stranger needed help & how genuinely nice every single person was! Those acts of kindness woke me up, began to thaw the ice around my heart just as Dan returned with one of his guys to get my car over to the shop & told me to go get warm in the office.

I walk in, sit down & am greeted by 4 Rottweilers that Dan rescued, tails wagging furiously as they maneuvered each other to get their turn to give me doggie kisses…I was in love! Jasper, 14 years old, got most of my attention because he was so loving himself and very polite. He waited his turn to be petted & hugged, looking into my eyes with sad eyes of his own. I swear that dog sensed the storm of emotions I was holding in and he didn’t want to leave my side.

Time passes. I’m watching the revolving door of customers come & go, all men of different ages, all well-known & heartily welcomed by Dan, his staff & dogs now back behind the counter. Dan introduced each customer to me & told them all my story, that I’m a single Mom new to the area and didn’t really know anybody yet.
Dan & I had plenty of time to share our stories with each other, about divorce, the kids, the sleepless nights & inability to eat. Dan knew the town I came from well since he’d just left the same area to relocate to this town named Mechanicsburg 3 years ago to open up this very shop. I found myself telling Dan everything because I knew he understood, he lived it & has a new life now.

I started getting antsy as time passed & another mechanic left for yet another part needed to fix my car. I’m guessing from the parts & labor alone I’m looking at a $300 minimum repair bill & started my mental switching around of bills coming due. I started getting a headache & decided whatever the amount turns out to be, I’ll find a way to pay it.

The bell on the door to the waiting area began dinging with increasing frequency, disrupting my calculations. Each time the bell rang it was a customer I’d met earlier returning to check on me & make sure I was ok. Speechless is what I became, a rarity for me but speechless I was indeed.

I was given coffee, candy, snacks & bottles of water. I was given pieces of paper with phone numbers & the names of their wives who had already been contacted by these gentlemen & were waiting to hear from me. Can you imagine that this actually happened? An entire town opening their hearts & homes to my son & I, complete strangers? I thought I was dreaming. The ice around my heart began a swift melt, the water forming in my eyes as I filled up with tears, huge lump in my throat, with each continued heart opening to ease the aching pain in mine. Never in my life had I witnessed such an outpouring of love & support, let alone be the recipient of it.

A man named Jim came back to give me packages of homemade candy that his wife Kathie makes from their home & sells in local stores. I looked up at him & blurted out, “I’m the one that’s been wiping out the supply of peanut butter fudge all summer next door!”, not believing the connection. Jim said “My wife & I know what it’s like to fall on hard times. You & your son need support. From this moment on the two of you are now part of our family; you’ll never be alone here again & we would like to have you both over for dinner, please call her”.

Dumbfounded, tears streaming silently down my face I still couldn’t talk. I stood up, gave him a big hug & managed a “thank you, I will call her” as he left & I sat back down completely blown away, starting at the familiar label on the chocolate that is still my secret treat for myself.

Dan the Mechanic from Mechanicsburg saw the parade of kindness of course & told me my car was ready. Bracing myself for the $300, he told me my bill was $67. I knew that couldn’t be possible but before I could say anything, Dan informed me he made some calls on my behalf & my bill was paid in full by an anonymous donor. I became a blubbering, sobbing mess, covered my face with both hands & just cried. The tears of total exhaustion, fear, stress from the days prior I had been unable to even think about shedding came out in a flood of overwhelming disbelief at how all of these complete strangers helped me.

I finally found the strength in my legs to stand up to go to the counter to get my keys from Dan. I couldn’t stop crying as I tried to thank him when he said words I’ll never forget: “Jennifer, it’s obvious that you’ve given much to this world to help others..now it’s your turn to receive the help you & your son need. Don’t refuse the help from pride; if you need anything, you now have your own family here to call. You’re going to be just fine”…and handed me my keys. How did he know that about me? What made him say that, I wondered?

I drove Bessie home with the heat blasting on my frozen toes, in awe at how well my car was running. I pulled in front of my house, turned off the ignition and stared with new eyes at my neighborhood. This was no longer a place to live with my son on our own; we suddenly inherited a big, loving family from complete strangers & Dan the mechanic finally made Mechanicsburg my true home town.
Gratefully,
~Jennifer~

The Sunset of a New Day

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It’s 5:15pm EST and I just stepped outside as the temperature drops as quickly as the sun in the sky. The colors are more breathtaking than my photography attempts here show but there’s no denying how the beauty of this view fills my soul with peace every time I see it; I rarely miss this opportunity. This sunset is important to me today.

Today I quietly shut another door to my past and this may sound trite to you, but it involved..furniture. That’s right, furniture, living room furniture to be precise. When we moved to this town last year as a family, the 3 of us had to leave the majority of our belongings, including furniture & beds due to the last minute discovery of black mold in our previous home. Saved a ton in packing & moving, but forced us to rent a living room set & a mattress for me. My husband & I were still together, supposedly starting over, re-committing to our marriage. One of the promises made to me was that Chris would stop sleeping on the couch as he’d been for well over a decade, a fight I gave up on long ago until our son realized it was strange that his Dad slept in the living room, not normal as he thought growing up. We left the king size bed and I ordered a Queen for this house, knowing I’d still be sleeping alone..& I did.

I paid off the bed but I was determined to not get stuck with a living room set that reminded me of my ex & was extremely uncomfortable to sit on as well..but honestly, I couldn’t stand the sight of that sofa & loveseat day after day.

The configuration of the sofa & loveseat in a fairly long room felt stifling to me & also cut off access to the dining area/kitchen. I truly wanted that furniture set gone but obviously it was far down the list of wants versus needs, like the winter clothes I was worrying about acquiring for my son, not to mention Christmas is now barreling towards us like a freight train.

I called the store last Monday to make my weekly payment. I was in a stupor of sickness, throat so sore I could barely talk when the manager told me of a deal I couldn’t pass up; get the L-shaped sectional that would allow both myself & my son to have our own space to fully stretch out our long legs comfortably AND an electric fireplace with shelving compartments for media as well as placing our TV on top..for less than what I was currently paying because both were used. Ooh, I’ve been dreaming about that fireplace forever it seems, a luxury I couldn’t afford ever..yet the minute the weather turned cold every year I was constantly looking at these fireplaces online, in stores & dreaming of how nice it would be to curl up with a good book, a hot cup of coffee and just enjoy myself..by myself.

I quickly ran the calculations in my head & said I’d take the deal, setting the delivery date for today. I hung up the phone & thought, this will be something to look forward to after Thanksgiving! Then promptly forgot all about it until I looked at my calendar last night.

Thanksgiving this year was the happiest I’ve had in a very long time, because the happiness came from within. I had a terrible cold, my son was convinced we weren’t going to make the trip back to our hometown because of it, which only made me that much more determined to get us there regardless of how awful I felt as long as it was safe for me to drive. It was the best feeling in the world to see the smile on his face get bigger the closer we got to his Grandparents’ house a day late but Thanksgiving morning nonetheless!

The two of us were like sponges, soaking up all the love from our family crammed around a table overflowing with food. I think I ate more on Thanksgiving day than I’ve eaten in months..I finally had an appetite. The time passed too quickly as usual, but seeing the fun all the cousins were having was like a salve to a burn..Noah needed this time with his family as much as I did. Spending time catching up with my “baby” sister, my Dad who’s been in poor health, his wife Elaine who’s always loved all of us as if we were her own daughters & we are. Noah & I left renewed, anxious to return to visit soon.

The time I got to spend with my son cemented our bond on another level after getting through the prior week of sheer hell. I was grateful to have him an extra night & once he left on Sunday to see his Dad, I just tuned out most of the world. I had a lot of time to think, reflect, remember. I didn’t shed a single tear as I began bringing the Christmas decorations down from the attic myself, along with fixing a broken toilet & figuring out, all by myself like a big girl, how to change the battery in the smoke alarm in my bedroom placed in the highest possible point of the vaulted ceiling. I can fix almost anything in my house so far & love my hammer!

I placed electric candles in every window, it looks so pretty. I have boxes everywhere, taking my time because I realized this is My First Christmas, decorating my house the way I want to.

Today, watching that blasted living room set go out the front door, I felt..free. Happy. Excited!! I was so excited by the immediate difference of the feeling of the entire house..lighter, different, the ghosts of Christmases passed silent, gone. No anger, no..nothing. Nothing but a big smile on my face as the tables & lamps a neighbor that moved months ago gave to me, matched the color of the wood of the fireplace. All used but brand new in my eyes, such a gift!

The process took half an hour & I cleaned every inch of the living room, fireplace blazing, waiting anxiously for Noah to come home to a new room. I had brownies baking in the oven, Noah walks in and his smile was as big as mine, from the inside out. Now, this feels like our Home. We’ve been enjoying the fire, the extremely comfortable sofa, and the feeling of lightness in our hearts as beautiful as the sunset captured above. I hope you find a moment of peaceful beauty in your heart tonight as well.

Peace,
~Jennifer~

Thankful To Be Thankful!

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I haven’t had the strength to write a new post lately, and I’m sick as a dog writing this now, but I’m AWAKE, ALIVE to write it, regardless of having the exact same virus I just had a few weeks ago! That time the virus landed me in the hospital, by myself in this town that literally became my Home just last week. I have so much to be thankful for, the enormity of the richness I have in my life struck last night, and all I could do was look up at the stars & whisper, “Thank You God, for seeing me through”. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through all the incredible hits that seemed endless last week but I held onto my Faith that everything that happened was to teach me a lesson; to remind me of what is important & what’s not; to show me that as long as I continue to live my truth by Faith, I will survive each hit AND come out the other side even stronger yet.

That’s exactly what happened. I’m used to helping others in need. I am not comfortable accepting help for myself because I’ve had to rely on myself just to survive since I was a little girl. Last weekend was the beginning of a nightmare that touched every possible area of my life, set off an avalanche of epic proportions I’d never battled before, & I’ve batted.. and won..so many various wars of Life thus far, I thought myself more than capable of handling anything coming my way.

I was wrong. I was so wrong, I posted something on my Facebook I’ve never posted publicly before: I’m in trouble, my son is in trouble and we need help. I’ve never admitted publicly my fears, my need for prayers because that would show my vulnerability. I’m strong, not vulnerable! Well, my super power cape had been torn off my shoulders leaving me completely exposed. I was shaken to my core on Monday and again, had no idea all that was awaiting to attack me the rest of the week. I received 5 phone calls on Monday from my circle of friends. The amount of people that responded to my request, writing beautiful, uplifting, supportive words of comfort, astounded me.

Every dawn brought another test to add to my overburdened, heavy soul yet was countered by an immediate & unexpected blessing. I received the help I needed to resolve the original problem, but at great personal cost to me..the loss of the presence of a friend I adored & that didn’t become clear to me until the smoke cleared this past weekend. I’ll learn from that loss. I’ve been having car troubles & worrying every morning it wouldn’t start. It finally broke down completely last week, & I’m dedicating an entire blog entry to that experience alone…it was that powerful, that life-affirming. My car runs & the heat even works!

The weather is cold, and i was worried about finding a way to pay for a winter coat, boots & clothes for my son..his needs come before mine always, I can wear a sweatshirt as long as he’s warm. My doorbell rings the next afternoon, a dear friend and her daughter with bags overflowing with coats for Noah as well as for me; boots & sneakers for my teen that is growing so fast I can’t keep up with his sizes! A miracle. I was helped by friends, family & total strangers that treated me like family. I was held as I cried tears that wouldn’t stop falling no matter how hard I fought to keep them in. The loving arms of my girlfriend who has lived through my journey of divorce with children, no words spoken, no need. Every test, I passed. Every trial, I survived. But I didn’t do it alone and now know the beauty of receiving help..it’s so humbling, so powerful, inspires me to pay it forward on a broader scale. Not quite yet, though; now it is time to pause. Reflect on every moment since last Thanksgiving, Chris & I already knowing our marriage was over but decided to remain a family for one last holiday season for our son. How I’m sometimes unrecognizable to myself in the mirror, I’ve grown, changed that much in a very short period of time. I still am and always will be, for one can only grow by risk, mistakes & change, not stagnation or settling. I am deeply thankful and wish you & your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! Think about all you have to be thankful for and be grateful you are here to be thankful.. that’s the biggest Blessing of all. With love & gratitude, ~Jennifer~

Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again..And Again..And Again

It’s Sunday night, almost 11:30pm EST. Usually I’m in bed by now but instead I just returned from a power walk in the quiet darkness of my neighborhood, the darkness, sorrow and pain I’m trying to quiet by sheer will power alone. It’s not working. I tried putting my Beats headphones on & listening to U2’s “End of the World”, “Bad” and “Trip Through Your Wire” as loud as the volume would go, hoping to drown out the confusion in my head from mixed messages, sadness & disappointment. That didn’t work either.

I can do this because my son is at his Dads since yesterday, the weekly shuffling back & forth between two parents that my son is handling with grace, strength & dignity well beyond his 13 years of age..on the outside. A Mom knows instinctively when her child is hurting for any reason on the inside, & last week we had an excruciatingly painful week of grief, talking and acknowledging our unease & uncertainty the coming holiday season will bring. How do we split up Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day with one child & 2 parental households? How do we not only maintain the healing & peace we’ve attained thus far through literal blood, sweat & tears..how do we push through without backsliding? How do we make it still feel like Thanksgiving & Christmas when our family is broken forever? I still don’t have answers to these questions, don’t know how to ease his pain, his mental & physical exhaustion weekly, how to not feel like I’m being split into shards of glass every time I kiss him goodbye for his time with his Dad? I try to keep myself busy during this “me” time, taking care of myself, reading or getting together with a friend. But lately, with emotions running high, the time lost when I was so sick, the never-ending chores, bills, family issues & friends in distress, I found myself getting let down again. I’m tired of that.

One thing I have been doing a lot lately while Noah’s not here is cry. I cry with pain coming from my soul. I remember how I felt as a younger child when my own parents divorced & it’s impossible to separate that pain from my present pain. I’m not crying for myself. I’m crying for my son, for the feelings he’s keeping inside with a brave face although I see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice, feel it emanating from his being. There is nothing that will buckle my knees in grief at this level than knowing my son is suffering. I have yet to share the trauma of my pregnancy, how I fought to bring him into this world, how I made a choice for his life to be saved at any cost, including my own life. I knew instinctively this child was my only chance to be a Mother; I’d already lost pregnancies before him & the final one after his miraculous birth. I know my son.. anything he feels, I feel.

Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, had a great fall, who will put Humpty Dumpty back together again? Who is Humpty Dumpty? Anyone who knows loss, grief, death, divorce, battling chronic health issues, survived natural disasters & financial difficulties. We are all Humpty Dumpty. Nobody can put us back together again except ourselves..by God’s grace. This incredible gift of having a true relationship with God isn’t organized religion, like belonging to a Catholic church, Baptist Church, synagogue, any religion. This is about your own acceptance of God into your heart, body, mind & soul. A relationship that exceeds all earthly relationships. He is the One that has never let me down, hurt me, broke my heart or made me sick.
Humans have.

I’ve always known my greatest strength is also my biggest burden: my capacity to love. I am one who loves deeply, feels exactly what someone is feeling even if they live hundreds of miles away. I have a level of instant intuition that astounds me still, & I’ve learned to turn that into a gift by helping others. I use that gift in conjunction with my faith that no matter what, I act immediately when I feel something because I know I’m receiving a message. If I don’t listen to that message, I may miss an opportunity I’ll never get again. Life is too short to live in fear, to worry what “they” think about you, to not take that chance of opening your heart to let someone in. We are never guaranteed another day so it’s vital to not close yourself off from the world out of fear of being misunderstood, judged or hurt. We must first look within and love ourselves fully as God loves us before we’re truly able to serve others with love. The Bible says “do unto others as they would do unto you”; in other words, treat people the way you want to be treated. Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

I have Faith that is unshakable. I know with certainty every painful event in my life is a lesson learned. I am strong, so strong in my Faith & loving others. I’m also human. A woman who needs to feel loved, cared for as all of us do. I may be strong, but I also need to be hugged, held, comforted, appreciated. The tears wiped off my cheek..the hand held..the doorbell or telephone ringing. Love isn’t a one-way street. It’s sharing, caring, listening. It’s compromise, sacrifice at times. I’ve done all of that again & again, only to have my love rejected, taken for granted, expected to always be there & for a long time it was.

Not anymore. Not at the expense of me, my peace, my joy of being granted the gift of another day to live and walk in Love.
So my heart is hurting again right now & not solely from my current journey with Noah. It is what it is. That’s life…yet I won’t close my wounded heart. It’s wide open & always will be. I know of no other way to live because that is who I am. I will never give up no matter how much I’m hurting or what is hurting me. I’ve come too far, worked too hard to give up. I won’t.

Today I am Humpty Dumpty. And I’ll keep putting myself back together again as I always have..with Love, Hope and Faith. I’ll never stop loving. It’s who I am.

Peace
~Jennifer~