“The Lord said to Abram after Lot had left him, Lift up now your eyes and look from the place where you are.” -Genesis 13:14
Lot and Abram had to separate because the land was not big enough to sustain all of their herds, helpers and goods. Abram gave Lot the first choice on whether to choose the better land in the Jordan Valley or the less desirable land of Canaan. Lot chose the Jordan Valley.
This story has great meaning in my life today. It is far too easy to become discouraged because my sons were born with a life threatening disease without a cure. God doesn’t want us to focus on everything we have lost. He wants us to lift up our eyes and trust that He will lead us into a bright future filled with possibilities and joy. It is impossible to notice His blessings and miracles when our eyes are focused on the ground or when our hearts and minds are stuck in the past. God wants us to lift up our eyes and focus on everything we have, not on what we do not have. When we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we will see that He has plans to bless us.
Only when we lift up our eyes can we see the blueness of the sky, the way the white clouds effortlessly float past the window, the bird on the branch, or the flower on the windowsill. When we thank the Lord for a new day the minute we open our eyes each morning, we invite His blessings into our daily lives.
Looking up can bring us out of a state of depression and discouragement, and even help us to feel confident. Today, I encourage you to believe that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be, God wants to bless you and prosper you.
I have a dream of writing a book that will inspire and guide families living with the daily battle of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I also have simpler dreams. I think that many of us do without realizing it. A simple dream can be to wake up each and every day filled with gratitude for another glorious day of life and going to bed each night feeling fulfilled and knowing that we loved and learned something knew.
The key to reaching our dreams and goals, despite the bumps in the road, is to never give up and to keep moving forward even when we feel afraid. I have heard it said over and over that courage is feeling fear but moving ahead anyway. Courage is overcoming our past and our imperfections and believing in ourselves no matter how many times we may fall and skin our knees.
When I think of courage and determination, I think of Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Steve Jobs, my mother who raised all three of us girls with little to no help, my grandmother who came to a new country and raised her children on her own, my sisters and my boys. I think of parents who put a smile on their faces and do the best they can for their families even though they feel afraid of a life threatening diagnoses.
No dream is ever too small because we are all part of a greater whole. Our contributions may be as small as bringing a smile to someone’s face, holding the door open for the person behind you or as big as inspiring millions like Martin Luther King, Jr. During his life, Christian was not able to join the football team or shovel the neighbor’s driveway (he had such a kind heart that I know he would have if he was physically capable) but he brought a smile to my face when I was most afraid. He inspired teachers and fellow students by going to class every day and completing his homework. No matter how much fear he felt he always smiled, loved and showed kindness.
I encourage you to never give up on your dreams. If enough of us do something every day that will make a positive impact on the life of another, we will truly change the world.
Like a lot of people, I am afraid of spiders. A tiny spider skittered across my desk only to be crushed by my workpapers as soon as I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. Every morning when I get into my work car a beautiful, complex spider web stretches from the driver’s side mirror to the door. Using my key, I slice it right through the middle out of fear of the fella being blown into the vehicle by the wind and landing in my hair. Despite my efforts to destroy the spider web every morning, I return to find another web built in the same place.
My son knew what he would face each and every day over the last year and a half of his life – routine and pain. He knew he would have to deal with pain most of the day but he still didn’t complain or become angry. I rarely remember Christian feeling sorry for himself. He continued to read until his arm became too tired to hold up his iPhone and he made the best choices he could for his health until the end.
Imagine going through all of the effort to create something so complex and beautiful, only to have it destroyed 24 hours later. Once I really started to think about what this spider was doing, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen in my own life if I had the same resilience and determination as this little eight legged critter. Most of the world’s greatest inventions were created out of failures – the telephone, the boardgame Monopoly and cures to diseases. What about people who have to endure several rounds of chemotherapy, knowing after each one what they have to face and that it can make them feel worse each time?
What are your dreams and goals? Are there ways you can prepare for these dreams by doing a little each day? I hope to write a book one day that will hopefully inspire people, especially those living with the daily challenges and heartbreak of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Sharing my thoughts and my heart with readers on my blog is one way I am preparing for my dream. I have wanted to give up more than once – doubt, fear, a tight schedule, or when I just can’t seem to get my sentences straight. Two things keep me going – hope and love. I have hope because I know that God helps us become all we can be in life, especially when we can help other people. I also know that anything that is done with love in our hearts will ultimately succeed, no matter how many attempts it takes. Love is all that matters and is contained in all things, even the spiders.
*note – I had a little trouble with the caption above but am posting regardless. I apologize if it looks odd. We keep on keeping on right? xoxo
After work today, I met my husband and son for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I think we all have one of those. Our favorite restaurant serves authentic cuisine and warm corn chips. Afterward, they were off to play poker and I reluctantly headed home. Alone isn’t a bad thing, but coming home to a quiet, empty house is a painful reminder of the loss. Over Christian’s life, the most time he ever spent away from me was during MDA summer camp which lasted for a week. When you care for a child with special needs, you develop a deeper connection, especially when you physically care for them 24/7. When Christian passed away I felt like I was thrown into an alternate universe. After 16 months I have become used to the new normal, but I still have moments when the realization that Christian isn’t with us makes my world turn on it’s side for a bit. Over time the dizzying effect doesn’t last as long but it will never be easy, just bearable.
Almost every time I have found myself alone in the house missing my boy, I turn on the music. Christian had so much passion for music. He enjoyed 90’s rap like NAS, current rap like Wiz Khalifa and Kid Cudi, and classics such as the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. He talked me into buying several vinyls during the last year of his life. He encouraged me to buy the vinyl even though I had the CD because the quality would be worth it. Christian even talked me into buying music that he knew I enjoyed but he didn’t much care for either way. He grew to enjoy a lot of my favorite alternative bands like Interpol and Bare Hands.
They say that it changes a person when someone you love dies. That is an understatement. I felt hollowed out for the longest time and had to rediscover who I was. I was a caregiver for both boys for over 10 years. It took me weeks, even months, to stop setting out two sets of pills at mealtime. Not all of the changes have been negative. I would never have believed it if someone told me I would gain anything from losing someone who was as much a part of me as Christian was.
When I see a beautiful sunset, I see so much more than what I used to see. I see something amazing and holy. I feel a stirring inside of me that I have never felt. I see and feel God when I see the rays shining through the clouds, the chickadee in the pine tree, the beautiful pattern on the carpet at work from the sun shining through the window or when I see the stars in the sky. I feel a joy inside that I can’t explain when I look at things that to another person, may seem like nothing. It makes me feel guilty at times. How can I have moments of joy after losing my son and watching Andrew deal with the same complications as Christian did?
When we lean on the Lord, the amazing happens. The journey of grief is far from easy but we do not have to endure it alone. God heals us. God loves us.
As I listened to a song by Deathcab for Cutie, which Christian also enjoyed, I heard guitar melodies I didn’t hear before. Music touches me at a deeper level, bringing me to tears or making me want to get up and dance (listen to Stolen Dance by Milky Chance and you’ll know what I mean). Just knowing Christian and caring for him has given me a deep appreciation for life. I want to reach out and help those who have lost a loved one and I pray and I cry for them. I will not waste my pain. Instead I will find a way to help in a way that I know Christian would be proud of. I hope my posts offer a bit of hope and remind you that you are never alone.
I have asked myself several times over the last couple of months why I have not been posting to my blog. The excuses have been varied: I don’t have time. I don’t want to bring anybody down. No one wants to hear about my grief. There is nothing exciting going on in my life.
I read in one of my grief books that we should not waste our pain. Our pain, the difficulties we face and how we overcome them inspire others and give them hope.
Christian always wanted to help but wasn’t able to. He said he would help with the dishes, mow the lawn, and do the things that most kids throw a fit over having to do if he was physically capable. He was helpful even at a young age and in many photos I have taken of him, he has his arm around his younger brother, Andrew. Christian wasn’t able to join the football team or do chores around the house, but he was able to love and inspire. He taught people that just because he was in a wheelchair didn’t mean that he couldn’t go to school and work just as hard, sometimes harder, than the rest of the kids. Everyone who met Christian became inspired by his kindness, eagerness to help and learn, and his spirit. Somehow, either by posting in my blog, drawing or painting (Christian was passionate about art), helping other parents overcome the daily challenges of living with Duchenne MD or one day writing a book about our experiences with DMD, I will use my pain for something good.