Monday, January 12, 2015

Growth is Part of the Plan: Bi-Polar Disorder, Health Scares, and Blessings That Came Anyway

I was driving home from somewhere recently
with Nana in the car with me
and we were discussing how last year, 2014, we never did come up with a
family "theme" as in years' past:
"Loathe Is Spoken Here"
"Return With Tacos"
"Remember Who You Are, and Don't Be That Person"
and 2013's:
"We Believe in Bacon".
Nope, we didn't get around to that in 2014.
We talked about it once in awhile, just weren't focused enough I guess.
Too busy to sit around and ponder what in the world we could use to inspire our family to
be better
do better.

So Nana and I were reflecting on the past year and she said,
"I think the theme for 2014 was,
"Grow the Hell Up".
I laughed.
Definitely not a theme we'd have engraved on a wooden plaque
or printed for a frame as other previous family themes.
But man.
2014 was alot of that.
Growing up.
Sucking it up.
Moving forward.
Standing firm.
Kneeling. O heavens, lots of praying.
Prayers for deliverance,
Prayers for exclusion of trials.
Prayers of "o-please-let-this-cup-pass-from-me".

It was one of those years that if you'd told me in January what was ahead of us--
I swear, I'd have run down the street like my hair was on fire.
It was tough.
It wasn't impossible though.
When we looked for it though,
we saw God's hand sustain us often.
Just in the nick of time,
every time.
Deliverance did come.
But not in the ways we prayed for--
blessings came, sighs of relief expressed, lessons learned.
But not without some growth on our part.
Growth is not painless.

In March, our college-loving girl had a medical diagnosis of Bi-Polar Disorder.
Details don't matter, but she needed to come home for some treatment.
Not wanting her to lose her self in the midst of this dark time,
I educated myself and told her that we'd call this experience a
"PLOT TWIST" and help her get back on her feet and back to college.
Counselling, meds, diet changes, rest and lots and lots of patience were expended.

As a mother, it was hard to watch her highs and lows coincide,
confuse and
cause chaos in her mind.
Many nights, I lay at the end of her bed,
watching her emotions twist around her like
an angry crocodile in a death roll.
I practiced calmness. Logic and reasoning. Remaining predictable.
My goal was to be as stable as possible for her sake and mine.
When she wanted to run off to live in a different state,
with absolutely no plan--
emotions driving her to run away,
I reminded her of her talents and abilities and goals...
none of which included "running away".
I held on with a hope and prayer that we could get through this "Plot twist";
convincing her that she would not lose this battle.
We would not let her run wild into the world without a tether to who she really is,
what she really wants, and her great potential.

No, we'd hold onto her no matter how much she told us she couldn't breathe,
couldn't cope, couldn't go on... we would make it together.
Because that's how much we believe in her.
One hard night, I had to tell her that while she was free to choose,
I could not, would not,
 support a spontaneous decision she wanted to make.
I supported her decision to go to back to college once she was strong enough to return.
And that was where I believed she would best be able to become the person
she is meant to become.
She wasn't as certain as I was though.
Flash forward to this last week:
we drove her back up to college for the Winter Semester.
For two weeks previous,
she basically undermined that plan
due to her fear of repeating what had happened last year.
She said she felt "anxious", "freaked out", etc. and I told her
that all of those emotions are not unusual.
They're normal, in fact.
They are not particular to people who suffer any kind of mental/physical malady...
it is just part of life and moving on.
It's part of Growing Up!
It's normal to feel nervous about going to college,
about moving out of your parent's home;
especially considering the circumstances she came home in...
and her dad counselled, "If you can't do it, come home and we'll start over again."
So after a preisthood blessing we packed up and headed out last Saturday;
we pulled up to her new apartment,
signed the contract, unpacked her things, offered a prayer in her new place,
It was good.  It was better than good.
She & I had a moment in her room alone,
I pulled her cheek to mine and whispered in her ear:
"You got this. Your plot twist hasn't kept you from having a life. You're going to be fine."
She smiled and there was more than a glimmer of hope and courage in her face.
There was victory.

Somehow in our society today,
we have the flawed concept that if something is difficult,
it's not worth the effort.
That things should not be stressful.
That doesn't mean it's worthless.
It doesn't mean you're doing it wrong if you're having a hard time.
Sometimes there are challenges that prompt a yell of "PLOT TWIST!"
that requires some adjustment of sails so-to-speak,
but the journey ahead is still worth what it costs.
There is an opportunity cost whether you're sitting still or moving forward--
do not be lulled into complacency or paralyzed into a corner
afraid to move on with plans and dreams for your Life's adventure--
there is a positive energy in being proactive in one's life.
You can hold your own in the face of adversity and that is an accomplishment
you get to own.

Our college girl's trial wasn't the only one.
I wish.
It would've been enough all on its' own
but there were more challenges.

Every month, I worried if it were Dean's last month.
Last Valentines, last Easter, last birthday, last Thanksgiving, last Christmas.
Somehow, for whatever reason, he is still here.
His beautiful blue eyes still twinkle, tho' his mental and speech capacities are diminished,
he still knows me. The Mom.
So much fretting over that one...
he's still here, so we're still growing with him.
I decided that this year will not be a year of Fretting.
It's exhausting. Oh so useless and energy zapping.
I worried over something I have literally no control.
I won't do that to myself again in 2015.
Love with my whole heart, yes.
Fear everyday is the last, no.

There was also a cancer scare for me.
I stood in the shower, alone with my thoughts,
and cried out to God...
if this was His plan for me, then so be it.
I would be OK and trust that somehow He would make everything OK
for my family.
I would allow my self to not only feel peace
but nurture it.
I didn't blog much, but I did go back to my personal journal.

We had a fun summer,
I worked a ton--
I found that everytime I asked for heavenly help, 
I was given more work to do.
It almost became comical.
I was distracted by work and it probably saved my sanity.
There was no time to sit around and mope,
as much as I thought I wanted to.

Fall brought new adventures:

We had the wedding in October--
It was as lovely as could be and a bright spot in the year.

Two of our girls had babies--
I attended our daughter-in-love's labor and delivery
of Baby Ryker in Boise last November.
Unfortunately, I could not get to Saudi Arabia for the birth of
our grand-daughter in December.
She came two weeks early,
and her birth was so precipitous that our daughter, Danielle,
nearly died of hemorrhaging.
Her husband, Mr. Idaho and I spent the night and early morning hours
texting and calling one another until the crisis ended,
and Dani made it through surgery.
We, of course, called every family member and friends to ask for their prayers.
She was thisclose to having a hysterectomy;
the hospital they had to go to was not the International Hospital one
they were registered to deliver at, which was an hour and hour and half's drive--
the Persian Gulf was covered in a dense fog that prevented their assigned driver to be able to
drive that far in time,
so he took them to the closest hospital--where our kids were the only Americans in the whole building.
A visiting Egyptian doctor was called in to perform the hysterectomy because Dani's uterus was bleeding out, after the hour and 23 minute labor and delivery.
Despite it being illegal to be a Christian in that country,
Mr. Idaho gave her a priesthood blessing.
My heart went out to him--here he was unable to speak the language in a native hospital,
with a wife whose life was threatened, all alone.
The Egyptian doctor prescribed two blood transfusions and two plasma transfusions--
and had to manually manipulate her uterus to get it to contract.
The hardest part was realizing I could not have gone to her, because I do not have the official visa from Saudi inviting me into their country.
Hours passed by and thankfully the doctor's treatment was successful.
She is fine now and we are so so so grateful that she is still with us and here to raise her baby girl,
whom she named, "Grace".

And that was the beginning of December.

A long-running trial last year was this:
Mr. Wonderful hit a brick wall, career-wise.
Something needed to change.
2014 sucked the life out of him and we made the decision
for him to return to school for another degree.
It was the best decision. Solid.
So in addition to working his full-time 70 hour a week job,
he is doing online school thru CSU-Global,
also serving in the Denver temple 7 hours a week,
and everything else on his plate.
Lots of growing there!

Lastly, I want to share how we ended the Year with a miracle:
on facebook popped a post from a friend of ours about going to Mexico
with the group, "Builders Without Borders of Utah".
I remembered they'd gone last year too, and the thought came to me,
"I wish Joseph could go. He needs that."
Indeed, he was pretty sure that he has the worst life ever at 15 years old.
2014 was rough for all of us, and I know he was feeling pretty low.
I'd been reading books about adolescent young men, talking to his school counselor
about changing his schedule for January, and whatever else I could do to help him
feel better, do better, be better.
His crummy attitude affected us because he shared negativity like poison candy.
I was looking for answers in many directions.
Going to Mexico sounded like a great experience,
to get him outside of himself, helping others, getting a break from it all
over Christmas sounded too ideal.
Well, I let that thought go right out of me until a couple days later,
as I was standing at the sink doing dishes,
my mind wandered back to our friends' upcoming trip and very clearly,
I heard the Spirit say, "Joseph should go to Mexico. Call Sarah and tell her."
Now, I had no idea when the trip started, how much it cost, or any other detail about it.
In fact, I wondered how it could even happen.
Still, I called Sarah.
She said that while it'd be awesome for Joseph to attend, the actual
registration date was December 1st...and here it was the 11th of December so he had missed it.
Being the awesome cheerleader she is though, encouraged me to contact the person who headed up the organization, giving me their contact information.
I texted that person, (Angie) and left a message.  
A week went by and I had heard nothing back.
I figured she was super busy getting ready for the trip and simply didn't have time to get back to some random person in Colorado to tell me it wasn't possible for my son to go.
I let Sarah know I hadn't heard back, and again she pushed me to contact Angie again.
Just to be sure.
Well, no more than 5 minutes later, I was on the phone with Angie, who said, "Let's make this happen!"
The cost was $400 all inclusive for the trip.
There was still the matter of flying Joseph over to Utah though. On Christmas Day.
I hadn't even bought all of the Christmas presents yet due to financial restraints and wondered how on earth this would be accomplished.
Sarah said to let friends know of this opportunity for Joseph to go to Mexico and build homes for the homeless in Mexico.  So I did.
The next morning, I looked on Southwest air at ticket availability and prices. SOLD OUT.
I used and came across the perfect flight.  It only had 2 seats left though.
And it wasn't cheap.
I sat at the computer wondering what to do.
Should I just bite the bullet and purchase the seat or wait to see if anyone could help?
I said a prayer..."Heavenly Father, help me to choose wisely."
I waited for that familiar feeling of, "DON'T DO IT!" to come--
it didn't come.
Then I waited for the feeling of dread and remorse to come, as in "Oh crap! I shouldn't have done that!"
It didn't come.
Instead, I felt calm. Peace. Approval.
Within minutes, no more than ten, a dear friend from Church contacted me and said she wanted to pay for Joseph's airline ticket! I accepted her offer with a full heart of gratitude.
Other friends and family also sent in donations and before we knew it, Joseph was on his way to Utah on Christmas morning.
I know that God's hand was in this experience for my son.
The first night in Tijuana, there was a difference in his voice as he said,
 "I'm so happy I came, Mom."

He gained perspective about his life. His abilities. He was humbled and lifted. The people he served expressed their gratitude so deeply--one woman walked 7 blocks everyday to bring drinks to those working on her house--even though it was evident that was a tremendous sacrifice for her.
One man offered his bike, his only transportation to Joseph in exchange for the roof Joseph helped put on his house.  Joseph went to a local orphanage one afternoon and played soccer with the kids there.  He went out with the local missionaries there to visit and serve people on Sunday.  IN all, the organization built 13 houses, 5 other buildings, hundreds of quilts were made and given, over 100 bikes were donated to the community, and other gifts such as soccer balls, baby dolls, coloring books and crayons, ties and shirts for the men, bags for the young women, etc.
Joseph wants to return next year.  We all want to go too.
The year ended in a miracle. A meaningful, life-changing miracle.

SO yes, 2014 was a hard one. We made it though. We were not alone in our trials.
Here's to 2015...may we bloom with what we've been blessed to learn.
We were never meant to stay still, but rather stay in motion.
Moving forward, gathering goodness as we go.

We're ready for 2015. We've expanded our faith, our vision, our abilities, and our determination to Embark on a Meaningful Journey.