January 20, 2012

Time For A New Look

DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE PICS BEFORE READING THE POST!! PLEASE!!

So I just made a big change in my life. 2011 was a year that had many things happen that I couldn't control - Daron going to the VA being the big one. After getting through the first few months of separation, I wanted to start 2012 on a high note with a big change. I changed my hair!! Some of you might not think of that has a big change. I mean, I have cut my hair in the past, I dye it at least twice a year (more depending on the color). I have permed it & I've grown it out. I love how versatile I can be with my hair. I mean, hair always grows back no matter what you to do it, so why not change it?!?

Anyway, Daron has always told me that I was never allowed to cut my hair above my jawbone. I have done the best that I could & respect him for his opinion - I mean, he is my husband after all. Now that I am 30 years old & it's the start of a new year.....I desperately needed a big change. I needed a fresh start. So, I made that start with my hair!!! One small change will lead to more changes. The haircut has already changed my outlook on how I face each new day - I look forward to getting up so that I can play with my hair. I want to do my makeup each day so that I can look as good as I feel. I know, it's only been a day (I just got it cut on Jan 19, 2012), but I absolutely LOVE it!!!

Ok, now that I have you wondering what I want to give you a small trip down my hair memory lane so that you can see just how big of a change this is for me......

My first hair style. Actually, my first hair style was black hair that stuck up everywhere like I stuck my finger in a light socket after I was born. LOL!!  My hair did get super long while growing up - almost to my bottom.

10 grade hair. Straight & cut to my shoulders. Notice that it is still a brownish blonde.

11th grade hair. Yes it has a blue streak in it - it also had green, orange, yellow & pink. It was for a play that we did in High School. The color is still a brownish blonde. The length is down to the middle of my shoulder blades.

Summer after my Senior year. My hair is still its normal color - even though I had dyed it a few times. The length is back up above my shoulders. I loved keeping it short in High School.
Jump forward to 2002 & my wedding. Yes my hair is up, but the color is lighter. Between the previous picture & this one, my hair went from normal color to a deep dark red to this color.
Easter 2004 - My hair had been down to the middle of my back & blonde with massive roots showing. I couldn't dye it while pregnant with Taylor. February 2004 I got my hair cut & colored red. Loved it!
4th of July 2004 - The red color is gone - I lightened it up & let it grow some. I mean, I had a baby boy to take care of.
Not exactly sure when this one was taken....but my hair is lighter, almost back to my normal color. I got it trimmed up a little bit, but it is still to my shoulders.
May 2010 at my brother's wedding. My hair was basically my normal color, but it was just below my jawline.
2010 - I got it permed & lightened the color again. Length is just below my jawline.
4th of July 2011 - Unfortunately this is how I have worn my hair for the better part of 30 years - back in a ponytail. I mean, it was the easiest thing to do.
September 2011 - my hair is light blonde & at my jawline. But it was always back in a headband.



Now for the moment you've been waiting for......drum roll please.........

The back.....short, really short



And now for the dramatic reveal, here is the front........
I LOVE IT!!!!! Very low maintenance, can't tuck it behind my ear, can't put it in a ponytail, don't have to worry about it getting caught in my scarf or coat. It dries really fast & takes very little shampoo. It is a very dramatic change from the way that I have worn it for soooooooo many years. This is the absolute shortest that I have ever had it cut in the 30 years that I have been on this earth. Plus it is a vibrant cooper.auburn red!!! LOVE IT!!!


So that is my big change to start 2012. Now I'm looking forward & ready to make many other changes in my home, my health & the world around me. It's amazing what a change can do for one's self esteem & mood!!

January 17, 2012

A Letter To My Husband

I recently started a journal in which I write letters to Daron. The letters that I write are a way for me to express everything that I cannot talk to Daron about due to his dementia. Through writing the letters, I am able to release a lot of emotions that are not good to hold inside. Plus, I am able to hand everything over to God while writing. With that said, I was not planning on sharing any of my letters with anyone, including Daron. But while I was writing this letter the Lord encouraged me to share it with friends & family. So, here is a personal letter from me to my husband........

My Dearest Daron,


I love you more than words can say. I have never & will never stop loving you with every part of my being. You are my true love & we were meant to be together until parted by death. Being separated by the miles that are between us will never change that fact. You are my husband & I am your wife no matter what separates us. We have an eternal bond in marriage that God will strengthen when we both let Him. When we stood before God & our families 9 years ago & said our vows, I meant every word that I said. I know that you don't believe that fact due to being in Battle Creek or the dementia, but it is true. I will love you through sickness & health until we are parted by death. We are not the first couple to be in this situation & we won't be the last couple either. Please look deep into your heart & remember the love that we have shared for 9 years.

I know that you do not like being in Battle Creek. Please know that I don't like it either. I hate going to bed alone & waking up alone. I hate not having my best friend, partner in life, other half, husband at home with me. I hate being a single parent to our son. Please understand that even though I hate all of that, I know that God has a purpose for our lives & for this phase of life that we are in. We will probably never know & being able to comprehend that reason this side of heaven, but He knows & we have to have faith in that. 

I hope & pray that you do not feel the way that some people around us feel - like I dumped you there because I was sick of you. That is 100% NOT TRUE! I admitted you to the Battle Creek VA in order to receive the medical attention that you need every day. My goal since we got married was to take care of you at home until you reached a point in your MS where I could no longer care for you. Unfortunately you reached that point many, many years sooner than we both expected. It torn my heart out to leave you in Battle Creek & return home that day in July 2011. I begged & pleaded with the Lord to change our path & let you return home. As we have come to discover, you returning home is not part of His plan for our lives. With your MS & dementia it will not be a safe decision for you to return home. Whether you realize it or not, I believe that the Battle Creek VA is where God wants you to be His missionary & bring others to Him. Through your day to day interactions with others you can witness & show others God's love.


My darling, I pray for you daily that you will feel God's presence while you are there. God alone can & will give you the peace & strength that you need each day, all you need to do is ask Him. God alone can be your comfort each day, all you have to do is ask Him. He is the only way that I make it through each day. He is the only source of my strength to wake up each day & make it through. I pray daily that you will be able to know that same peace, strength & comfort that He has given me. 


I want you to know one more thing, Daron. Everything that I have done since July 2011 has been for you. Placing you in the VA was for your safety & for proper medical care. Please know & trust that for as long as you can. I love you so very much Daron. I will never stop loving you. There are numerous times that I cry out to God for anything that He can do to show me that this is truly the right decision for you. Each time He has shown me something new that I needed to see in order to assure me that you are were you need to be.


I miss you each & every day that we are apart Daron. I love you more then I will ever be able to explain. I hope that one day we will be able to sit down & talk openly about this phase of life. Until that time, we will continue to love each other from a distance & live where God has us planted. 


With All My Heart,
Cathy



January 7, 2012

Enjoy Your Down Time

For those of you with a spouse at home, be grateful. Your spouse is able to take your child/children for you when you need to go grocery shopping, go out with friends, take a shower, & when you aren't feeling good. Please be thankful for all of the time that you are able to have to yourself & the time you have to recover when you're sick.

As a single mom I don't have that. My son goes to the grocery store with me. My son tries to follow me into the bathroom. My son needs to be taken care of all the time, even when I'm utterly sick & don't have the energy to climb out of bed. I have to plan my life around the schedule of others or school if I want to go out with friends or do anything for myself.

Now I know that sounds like whining & complaining. It isn't. I will never trade my time with my son for anything in the world. When Daron was at home I didn't think twice about going shopping or taking a shower or getting sick. Now that I'm on my own, I realized that I took having Daron home for granted. I took having a spouse around to help me out for granted. Next time you are upset about having to wait for your spouse to get home from work to give you a break, remember that there are numerous parents out there who don't have that luxury. Also, next time you take a shower while your spouse watches the kiddos, enjoy your alone time.

January 5, 2012

Am I Being Selfish?

***Please Be Warned --- This post might come across as being a very crazy post. But I feel as though it needs to be written. There are some people in my life who feel as though I am being selfish when it comes to Daron being in the VA. I am writing this post not only in response to those people, but to also help others understand how comments can affect a person in the caregiver role. I am warning you in case you want to stop reading now so that I don't offend you. Thanks for understanding!***

Ever since putting Daron in the VA in Battle Creek, I have had a lot of people misunderstand the reasoning behind it. They have also wondered why Daron can't come home or why he can't just move closer to Grand Rapids.

Then you have those people who think.....
-- I dumped him there so I don't have to deal with him anymore.
-- I wanted a way out of my marriage & took the easier, cheaper way out.
-- I just stopped loving my husband, but didn't want the mess of a divorce.
-- I wanted to be a single mom.
-- I am a selfish person & this move proves it.

There are lots more things that people think about me I'm sure. But none of those are true!

Daron is in the VA because he needs 24-7 care. I cannot be home every second of the day in order to take care of him & keep him safe. Having Daron at home was becoming a safety issue for him, as well as for Taylor & I. Daron has always come first in everything that I think & do. That fact will never change. To this day I have not stopped worrying about my husband. I want to make sure he gets the best care possible & right now that is the VA. It is a nursing home type environment with around the clock staff who are there at a moments notice if he falls or needs assistance of any kind.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to have my husband closer to home - but that is just not possible. Right now at the VA he has a job - he works in the laundry room 3 days a week for 2 hours folding clothes & he gets paid for it. He has friends to hang out with. He has freedom to come & go from the building as he feels - they have a tunnel system that allows him to get to Sunday morning services, Bible Study, PT appointments, work, the canteen & sooooooo many more places, without having to go out in the cold. He has regular PT appointments to help him move his legs so his muscles don't continue to break down. If I bring him to Grand Rapids, he will loose all of those things.

Whether he realizes it or not, he has adjusted to his surroundings. It would to difficult on him physically & mentally to take him out of the VA & move him to new surroundings. I mean, we think it's tough on us to move from one house to another, or from one state to another; think of how tough it is on someone with dementia who can't fully understand what's going on.

So am I being selfish by wanting to do what is in Daron's best interest?? I don't think so. I am putting my husband first in every decision that I have made. Do I wish that things had turned out differently? Absolutely!!!  I miss my best friend, partner, other half & love of my life. I have been apart from him since July 5., 2011 -- that's a looooooooong time to be apart from someone you love more than life itself. Do I wish that I could visit him more then just once a week? You betcha I do. I would love to go see him every day of the week of I could. But, there is someone else that I have to think of other then Daron & myself. I have to think of Taylor & his school schedule. It is to tough on Taylor to see Daron more then once a week right now. He loves his Dad & would like to see him more often too. It's just not possible with school Monday - Friday. So, we do the best we can with what we have to deal with right now.

So if putting my husbands safety, mental stability, & physical health before everything else in life makes me selfish.........then I'm selfish.

I always thought that being selfish was putting one's self first above others. That isn't the case here. When I had to make the decision in July 2011 to take Daron to the VA, I never put myself into the mix -- I just did what was best for Daron. If I did put my personal emotions into the mix, then Daron would still be at home, in danger of drastically hurting himself. But since I wanted Daron to be safe & cared for, I had to take myself out of the picture & think of just him. That's all I've ever done - what's best for my family before anything & everything else.

So does that make me a selfish, self-centered person?? Hmmmmmmmm..........I doubt it!

Praying God's Will For Our Lives

A lot of people have asked me how they should pray for Daron & my family. Most of the time I ask that people pray for Daron to adjust well to his surroundings. I ask that they pray for Taylor & I to adjust to our new lives. I ask them to pray for strength & wisdom for me. But after much thought & prayer I have come to this conclusion. This is how we should pray for everyone who has a chronic or terminal disease, as well as how we should pray for ourselves - in my opinion:

Pray the way that Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane - that God's will be done.

          Matthew 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

          Matthew 26:42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."

I know that there are people who pray for a miracle to happen in Daron's life (or in the lives of someone with a chronic or terminal illness). God does work miracles - I will never deny that. God works a miracle every day when we see the sun rise & wake up every morning. God works a miracle every time a new baby enters the world. There isn't a problem in asking God to perform a miracle, just remember to ask Him to perform it in His timing & in His perfect way. I personally think that when you ask for God to perform a miracle in a certain way, you are putting God in a box. When He doesn't perform that particular miracle, we begin to doubt Him & His existence.

God puts struggles in our path to help us strengthen our faith. Our faith in God is believing in what we cannot see. I mean, I can't see the wind, I see the effects of the wind. I can't see God in the physical realm & won't see Him face to face until I reach Heaven. But even though I can't see Him I can see the effects of His working in my life, the lives of those around me & the creation around me.

By praying that God's will be done in everything, I am putting everything in His hands. The same is true when you pray for someone with a chronic or terminal illness. You are trusting that God will do what is best in the situation. You are strengthening your faith in our awesome God. I know that at times that is a tough thing to do, trust me. I struggle with remembering that every time I pray for Daron or anyone else. We human beings are doubting creatures by nature. We have a tough time trusting in something that we can't see. That is why it is hard for people to trust in God to do what is best for us. As Christians, we can still have the same struggles. That's why I personally think that we are so quick to pray for a miracle rather then pray that God's will be done. We want God to perform a miracle so that we have something that we can use to show others to help them believe in God. We want a miracle to help us with our own faith. But we forget that we can show others what God has done without Him having to perform a specific miracle. We also neglect to remember that if/when God doesn't perform the miracle that we asked for we will begin to doubt Him.

If you want to see a specific miracle to use, look at a newborn baby. Look at a child who was born prematurely & see how well they are doing years later like nothing every happened. Look at a child or adult who has beat the cancer odds & are thriving in life. Look at a person who has lost a limb from an accident or military service & see how they are moving forward in their life like a "normal" person. Look at the sunrise every morning & see how it is brand new & different every day. Look at creation around you. I know that there have been floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes & many other disasters, but look at the aftermath & how close a community or nation becomes after going through something like that. Look at your own life......God should have wiped out the entire human race during the flood, but He chose to protect Noah & his family so that we could be here today.

Ok, so I know that I have gone one & on about a lot of different things. The main thing to remember is that when praying for ourselves or someone with an illness, we need to pray for God's will to be done in everything. We need to remember that He alone knows what is best for our lives - not us. We need to remember that we cannot make it through this life without God's help & His perfect will.

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Heavenly Father,
Thank You for always being there for me. Thank You for always giving me what I need & not what I want. I pray that You will continue to work Your perfect will in my life. I know that so many people are praying for my family & for Daron. I pray that You will guide them in their prayers for us. I pray that You will work Your perfect will in Daron's life. I pray that You will be done in everything. I thank You that You know what is best for my family even when we have no clue what is going on. Thank You again for Your never ending strength that You give me each & every day.    Amen!



January 1, 2012

Danger In Looking Back

Today has been a rough day for me. I didn't know it would be so difficult to enter a new year without Daron by my side......but it was harder than I thought.

I watched the ball drop over time square......& immediately burst into tears or sorrow rather than excitement over the start of a new year.

I went to sleep praying that the Lord would take the sadness away from me. When I woke up I was still sad, but I was determined to find something to take away that sadness I was stuck in.

Went to church & laughed as the little kids in children's church tried to outdo each other during the story.  

Sat through Sunday School where our Associate Pastor talked about idolatry & how we become what we worship (Remember when our parents always said "If you keep making that face it will stay that way" or "If you continue to do ___________ you will become just like that"? That's what he was talking about). I'm sure it was an interesting lesson, but honestly, I was to distracted to fully pay attention (Sorry PB).

Got home & had lunch with Taylor & my world crashed in around me. While trying to figure out what I was so "down in the dumps" I lost control of Taylor & before I knew it he was out of control & I was at my whits end. Crazy how that happens so quickly with kids. :-) But I was able to pull myself out of the pits enough to go to the evening service. While there it suddenly dawned on me.......I was focused on looking back instead of looking forward (I was listening & absorbing the message tonight -- Thanks Pastor Pike!).

He spoke from Luke 9:62 which says But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." My Grandpa was a gardener & he had to plow the soil before planting anything. When you plow you have to keep looking ahead in order to get a straight line. If you look behind you you will go off course & your line will be crooked. I realized that I have spent July - December of 2011 (if not longer) looking back when I should keep my eyes straight ahead on Christ. Every time I look back in life & think about what I've done (or should have done) I veer off the path that Christ has for me. In order to stay on the straight & narrow I have to keep my eyes on Him. In order to keep my spirits up, I have to keep my eyes on Him & not dwell on the past.

I also realized that my heart & soul are crying out to my Heavenly Father during this time. I was sitting in the service & just started writing on the back of my bulletin. At first it was a doodle (that's how I pay attention), but then it was words that I couldn't keep from flowing. It was during that time that I realized what I was longing for & what I needed. After putting Taylor to bed I looked up Scripture passages for comfort & here are some that really spoke to me. If you, my dear friend, are going through a rough time, I hope & pray that these verses will comfort you as well.


“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:5-8).


“Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26-26).

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.  Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young — a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.  Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you… Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84:1-4, 10).


“My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul” (Psalm 108:1).


Remember that there is a danger in looking back. As I enter 2012 I pray that my eyes will be fixed on the only One who can help me through the year.....the One whose Strength is perfect......the One who gives me everything I need even when I don't know what that is......the One who carries me when I am to weary to continue on this path.......the One who created me for such a time as this.....the One who made me strong-willed enough to get through this.......the One who will never leave or forsake me......JESUS CHRIST!! I pray that you have that same knowledge & hope that I do.

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Lord, I don't understand why I am having to go through this right now. I don't understand why my husband is in a nursing home in Battle Creek. I don't understand why he has dementia & MS. I don't understand why my son has to be without his father & I have to be without my husband. I don't understand why this was put in my path, Lord. Did I do something wrong that I am being punished for? Did Daron do something wrong? Did we as a couple do something wrong? I am so lost, confused & alone, Father. Why do I feel so alone? Why do I cry from the depths of my soul in utter despair? Why am I so afraid of this new year? I thought I was doing the right thing for my husband, my son, my family & myself.....did I do the right thing? Is that why I feel like this because it was a wrong choice? I want to make sure that I am living for You, Lord, that I am raising my son to live for You. But I need You help, guidance, strength, comfort & love. I know that I cannot make it another year by myself, Lord. I know that I need You in my life & that only You can get me through this time. I know that Your strength alone will endure when my strength is depleted. I know that there is no way on this earth that I will be able to make it through anything without You there beside me. I know & trust that You put me here for such a time as this & that You will never give me anything that I can't handle. You will never give me anything that You won't help me through. Thank You for always being there even when I forget to turn to You for guidance & strength. Thank You for being the Rock that I can depend on & the One who loves me, faults & all. Thank you for being with me as I enter this new year. Go before me & guide me through this new year as only You can do, Lord. I lay everything at Your feet, trusting that You will answer all of my prayers, questions & fears in Your perfect time. Amen

Struggles

I have been struggling to.... ....get out of bed in the morning. ....be a good mom. ....take care of my house. ....take care of myself. ...