When I Felt Judged at the Grocery Store After my Son’s Diagnosis

Mighty blog 2I only had a moment to run in for an emergency stop at the grocery store. I had so much stuff to try to fit in that day, (like trying to find big boy pajamas that buttoned down the front). I had just found out my sweet little boy had to have brain surgery.

During the first few days of learning he had Chiari Malformation, an incurable condition and needed surgery, I had such a hard time being in public. It was difficult seeing everyone go about their normal lives when it took everything I had to not fall apart with worry about what was to come. The hysterical emotions rocketing through me at that time made it exceedingly hard to fight the urge to scream, cry or both, so a trip to the grocery store was not an easy task that day.

My goal was to just get in, get out and I had almost succeeded when I turned the corner and passed her. She looked me up and down, judgement etched on her face, then scoffed and smirked as she passed. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe she didn’t like the way I looked or what I was wearing. Who in the world knows? I made a beeline toward the register swallowing back tears, refusing to allow them freedom until I got to the car.

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The whole incident only lasted five seconds, but in that brief moment, my fragile spirit was crushed. Although it’s been over a year since my son’s surgery, I have still not forgotten the look on her face that day in the grocery store. It woke me up and got me to thinking. We have hundreds of five second interactions every day and we really have absolutely no idea what others around us are going through. It made me realize how in just five seconds, we have the power to change things, to go a little farther, or to do a little extra for others, (even encourage a mom who is carrying a world of worry on her shoulders).

In just five seconds, I can smile and ask how you are doing, or give you a compliment. In five seconds, I can look you in the eye and acknowledge you instead of making you feel less or even invisible. In five seconds, I can give my children a few more kisses or a big bear hug rather than say I’m too busy. In five seconds, I can take my husband’s hand rather than push him away. In five seconds, I can give my loyal furry friend an extra scratch between his ears. In a matter of mere moments I can truly make a difference in those around me and in the lives of those I love so much.

In just five seconds, we have the power to encourage or discourage. What are you doing with yours?

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How Do You Tell Your Son He’s Going to Have Brain Surgery Without Exploding Into a Million Pieces?

Luke meeting his baby cousin last year.

Luke meeting his baby cousin last year.

The house is quiet, really quiet. Every one is sleeping in on this rainy Saturday morning….everyone except me. I don’t feel like I’ve really slept since October. Since my son, Luke (I affectionately call him buddy) was diagnosed with chiari malformation. Words like “incurable”, “brain surgery”, and “severe pain” seem to be bouncing around as soon as my head hits the pillow, along with slight shock and disbelief. Wow! How did we get here?

I keep thinking back to the day when we learned Luke was going to have brain surgery….I got the call while Luke and I were riding home from another appointment. I remember we were singing and laughing when the neurosurgeon’s office called and told me that his test showed a significant flow reduction and we needed to come in and get him scheduled for decompression surgery.
My mind began to reel. My breath caught in my throat. I guess the shock of it all kept me from bursting into tears. I robotically went through the motions of scheduling the appointment but my knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. I turned to my handsome little man next to me. How do you tell your child that they need brain surgery without exploding into a million pieces? I sent a prayer for words of wisdom and began to calmly explain to him what was happening.

“Luke, do you remember how we have prayed and prayed that the surgeon would have God’s wisdom in knowing what is best for you? Well, God has answered our prayers Buddy.” He looked at me briefly as I saw understanding creep into his blue eyes. “He thinks I need surgery, right?” “Yes buddy.” He immediately burst into tears as that understanding was replaced by fear. “Luke, it’s ok to be scared and worried and cry. You might see mommy cry too, but we are also going to thank God for answering our prayers. It may not be the answer we want but I know He is going to take care of you and guide that surgeon’s hand. We are going to get you through it one step at a time and then we are going to praise and thank God and give Him the glory for answering our prayers and being with you through it all.” He slowly nodded as I watched him brush the back of his hand over his eyes trying to fight back the fear and the tears.

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When we got home, instead of turning on the TV, he ran straight for his room. Trailing behind him, I walked in to see him drop to his knees by his bed, clasping his hands in prayer crying. He was saying something over and over but I couldn’t understand so I went closer and sat next to him. “Thank you. Thank you.” He was whispering between gasps and tears. He then reached around to the back of his head with his small hands and began to pray and beg God to give him strength to make it through. It was one of the most precious and heartbreaking moments I have ever known. I let the tears fall quietly down my face as I prayed beside him and let him pour out his heart to his Heavenly Father. Oh!! The strength and faith in that little boy was astounding! I briefly thought of the verse in Matthew 18:4, “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I gently pulled him up and into my arms. Drawing all my strength I said, “Luke, like I said before it’s ok to be scared and cry, but let’s wait until it’s time. You are not having surgery today or next week. We are going to enjoy the holidays and spending time together with family and we are going to pray until then. He has been with us so far and He will continue with us every step of the way. Let’s worry when the time comes.”

Well that time is now fast approaching and in a week my little guy will be going in for surgery. I am having a hard time with it. As a Christian mother I know that God is honestly truly with us. I have never felt His presence more than I have since all of this started; felt a peace in my spirit that I can’t explain. (Philippians 4:7 “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”)

But as Luke’s mommy, I am heartsick and terrified. My worries and fear seem to sit on my shoulder and threaten to drown me. I honestly do not know what I would do if I didn’t have the Lord giving me strength. My emotions are all over the place. And my sweet little Luke;  I can’t hug him enough. I can’t kiss his head enough. I can’t thank God enough for giving me the unspeakable honor of being that little guy’s mom. Of having the honor of comforting him, holding him and guiding him through this life.

There is that peace again, stirring up in soul, creeping up into my spirit and touching every corner of my heart. I will allow God to continue to guide me because He is allowing me to guide Luke. And I whisper just like he did between gasps and tears, “Thank you! Thank you!”

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Help For The Chronic Worrier and Some Updates

IMG_20150113_090049163Just over a week ago, I found myself spending a quiet evening at home with just me and my two kids. My husband was working and my stepson (my sweet bonus son) was at his mom’s. It was a very cold night and it seemed the heat was heaving and sighing, moaning and hissing trying to keep our house warm. So I lit a fire in the fireplace and we settled down to play a game of Sorry.

As we sat there playing, giggling and taking turns sending each other back to start the thought came to me that this is what family to me is all about. My daughter wasn’t worrying about her end of semester exams coming up the following week. My son wasn’t worrying about his frequent headaches and upcoming surgery. I wasn’t worried about getting to work the next day or what was going to be happening in the coming weeks. No. We were all in the present; in the moment. It was warm there. It was peaceful and relaxing there. It was happy there in that moment.

I can be a chronic worrier. When you worry, you tend to be inside of your head. A lot. That means that you may be sitting in the present but in your head, you are in the future of “what if” and “what might”. Your mind is caught in a vicious cycle of worry and what might happen if what if happens. I have learned that the best way to combat this is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is where you bring yourself out of the worry and out of your head and look around. You literally start pointing out things that surround you and switch your focus on them. For example, my drive to work is where I really worry. I worry about whatever is going on with my kids, my job, what some one said, etc. When I practice mindfulness, I stop worrying and think about how bright the sun is at that moment or how blue the sky is, etc…

I use the term “practice” because it sounds simple but it is something I have to work at over and over again because the worry keeps trying to take over. Being mindful helps us to stay focused on the present; focus on the moment you are living in not what’s to come and especially what has been. In His word, God tells us to not worry about tomorrow. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

IMG_20150113_090049163Here is something that we all need to honestly take hold of and remember:  God actually wants us to be happy and enjoy the life He has given us. He doesn’t want us to waste it on our past or worry. (Who would ever want to know Him if we are walking around worried and sad all the time.) Being mindful and staying in the present allows us to live out our potential, to be the best we can be-who we were created to be, moment to moment.

“18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Now on to some other things that are happening. I was so excited to share that I was approached by Pigeonhole Books to do a blog interview for their resource page several months ago. They chose my blog to kick off the new year! Here is a link to that interview about me, my site and where I want to be in all of this. Check it out and show them some love! http://pigeonholebooks.com/2015/01/05/blogger-interview-donna-mott/

We also celebrated a big birthday in our family recently! Our beautiful girl, my oldest, turned sixteen! Where has the time gone?!

I would like to thank you all and ask that you please continue to pray for our son, my youngest, Luke. His chiari surgery is scheduled for February 2. Our family has a lot coming up but God has been so amazing and faithful. I will be sharing more about that later……