Happy Sunday to you everyone. I hope this day you find peace, love, and happiness as you turn your hearts and minds to the Savior and worship Him on this day- #hisday.
The song that I have chosen for today is one of my very favorites. It is one of my "go to" songs when I need to feel closer to my Savior. It has great lyrics that cause you to stop and ponder your relationship with the Savior.
Come to Jesus- Kenneth Cope
Week and wounded sinner
I am beyond thrilled to share some of Jessica's story with you today. She is one of my heroes. I am so grateful for her friendship and truly feel that our friendship has grown deeper as we have helped each other through some dark times.
Jessica was one of the people who offered to help me clean my house when I was down and out during my "chemo days." I will always be grateful to her for helping me with a task that had once seemed so simple, but at the time, was impossible for me to do on my own.
We CAN do hard things and we can do those hard things when we allow our family and friends to lift us, to help us, and to love us through the storms of life.
I Can Do Hard Things- Jessica Andrews Wuebkes
My name is Jessica Andrews Wuebkes. I am a wife, a widow, and mother of two with one on the way. Hard Things? Trying Times? Oh girl, this is my thing! Like Buffy fights off the Vampires, I have been chosen to fight through some very dark times.
As I organized my thoughts of what to share I had narrowed it down to two topics. The first and maybe the most interesting; being a young widow. The second; PTSD. As I knelt in prayer for guidance and inspiration another topic came to mind in big capital letters. AUTISM.
My son Jonah was born a healthy baby in November 2007. After many bouts of RSV and other lung crippling diseases my little J was on life support for many weeks fighting for his life. The machines were not working. I sat many hours at the bedside of my 13 week old baby watching his body fight as hard as it could. His body grew tired and started to shut down. After much fasting and prayers offered we saw a miracle. Jonah's health turned around in a matter of days. All of a sudden his body started to respond to medications and therapies given. Blood cultures were coming back in the more normal range of numbers. After 3 months of hospital living my son was coming home.
Not that life was dandy after this episode, we had a lot of medical stuff to learn. Jonah's lungs are permanently damaged. With this comes lots of doctors visits, ongoing hospitalizations, oxygen equipment, and chest x-rays. The machines that saved his life have also caused great damage to his lungs. Jonah will live with chronic lung disease his whole life. I learned this new lifestyle quickly and I felt confident in my new title as a "Medical Mommy".
My background is early childhood education. As days turned into months I started to notice that Jonah was a little offbeat. He wasn't following the milestones that most children his age were hitting. I had a hunch that he had something wrong with him developmentally. I made an appointment with his pediatrician and together we went through the steps to have him seen by Neurological specialists. In June 2010 I was driving down State Street and had to pull over when I received the phone call stating that indeed my son did have autism. I couldn't hold back the tears. I knew that this was going to be a new challenge. I just wasn't sure I cold do it! But honestly, what choice did I have? Heavenly Father had different plans for my warrior boy and he had trusted this special spirit to me. I wiped away the tears but they were falling faster then I could control.
I bowed my head and begged that Heavenly Father would show mercy and make this all go away.
Well, that didn't happen. My son, now 8 still has autism. Heavenly Father did not take it all away. However, he did and continues to show mercy and love to this situation and journey that has helped me grow into my role of being a mommy of a child with Autism and medical disabilities.
Autism is hard. I had a child who couldn't communicate with me or others. We worked through many different strategies to develop these skills. Many hours of speech therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, physical therapy and good old playing. He started having melt downs that you can't even imagine. His frustration was so out of control that a padded helmet was purchased to protect his head as he self regulated by hitting his head against our glass windows. I couldn't take him shopping with me because the overhead lights and music became to much for him and he would lose complete control, once again having a terrible meltdown which resulted in complete humiliation for me. Together we would sit in an isle of a store where I would have him in my lap. I would hold him as tight as I could and just rock with him in my arms. I would do anything to calm him down; anything to protect him from himself as self harm had become a new part of our lives.
Through the years, life with Autism has gotten better. I can and will continue to be his voice. I now know what will set him off. I have learned to be patient and be in the moment. Jonah's behavior has become more of that of a typical peer and he is reading at a kindergarten level. He spends most of his school time in special ed and is making huge strides. We have been able to cut most therapies from his schedule. As a family we live a more calm lifestyle then years past. Much has changed in our life due to the challenges set before us. I am grateful for the heartache, the struggle, and the humility for I have found inner strength, a voice, and a love that is so much deeper then I would have ever known or experienced without the hard things. I have learned to kneel a little faster and pray a little longer. I have much to be grateful for.
Click HERE to watch a video about Jonah.
(The song that is in the video was written for him.)
Jess, thank you so much for taking the time to write this beautiful post. I am so thankful for your friendship and I look forward to many more years together as friends. And I also want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be one of Jonah's preschool teachers. That amazing little man has a piece of my heart and I know that he is going to do great things in this world.
I knew that the step that I was taking was the right one- even at the young age of 8. I had been taught by goodly parents and I had prayed to my Father in Heaven. Along with the excitement that filled me was a feeling of peace and happiness.
There is definitely something about the cleansing waters of baptism. Something that fills your soul with peace, hope, and pure joy. It's a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to begin again.
Something in the Water- Carrie Underwood
That beautiful feeling that happens when you get baptized does not have to happen just one time. When you are baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you have the opportunity to feel that way every single week as you partake of the sacrament on the Sabbath Day.
This is why I attend church every Sunday. This is why it comes first for me, above all of the other things that I could choose to do on a Sunday morning or afternoon.
I go to church so that I can partake of the sacrament.
For some reason I am reminded of a quote from a man that I admire very much...
"If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed. But if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of God “which healeth the wounded soul,” and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here you will find them. In this age of waning faith—in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven’s embrace—here you will find a people who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us!"
I extend a personal invitation to you.
If you feel like there are missing pieces in your life and you are curious about what more knowledge of the Savior, Jesus Christ could do for you, Come- join us.
Yes, there is definitely something in the water. Something that has changed me forever more. Something that makes me want to talk about my Savior every chance that I get because I want others to feel the same joy and excitement I feel. It's exhilarating, it's wonderful, and I love to talk about it. So anytime you are ready, I will be here waiting and I promise I will try to contain my excitement. :)
I watched something this morning that not only tugged at my heartstrings, but it nearly caused my mother heart to burst wide open.
Before you continue reading this blog post, you have to watch the video. Otherwise what I say may not make sense.
There were four little letters that were mentioned in this video that sent a wave of hurt rolling through my body.
P T S D
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
When I looked at this beautiful mother's face while watching the video, I saw my own reflection.
I have been that mom. The one with the marginally clean house and the happy kids. The one who smiles and laughs and loves life. The one who seems to have it all together.
I have also been that mom who shut herself in her bedroom and spent an hour restlessly pacing back and forth, trying to convince her panicked brain to stop.
I have been that mom who felt like she was stuck in a giant pit of quick sand and no matter how hard she tried, she could not break free from the powerful grip. All she could do was watch herself sink deeper and deeper into despair while life as she knew it carried on above her.
I have been the mom who was so scared that her cancer was going to return that she was almost paralyzed with fear, causing her to not be the kind of mom that she knew she could be.
Mental Illness is Real.
It is real and it is scary. At times, it is debilitating. And oftentimes, it is a battle that is waged in silence for fear of what people may think or say about you.
It is time to end the silence.
It is time to end the stigma and the ignorance. You cannot know what a person is going through unless you walk that dreaded mile in their shoes. You cannot judge someone's strange actions without knowing what is going on inside his/her head.
Are you wondering why "so and so" is always avoiding social situations? Maybe she/he suffers from social anxiety.
How about the woman next door who just can't seem to be in anything but her bathrobe? Maybe she is battling severe depression.
What about the kiddo that just can't seem to stop bouncing off the walls or seems to have no boundaries? Maybe that child has ADHD or Autism or some other Sensory Processing Disorder.
So you ask yourself...
"Why doesn't that person with social anxiety just get over it?"
It's easy to say all of those things when you are not the one who is in the midst of that battle.
My friends, we have to stop. We have to stop pretending that mental illness is something that people can just "get over." We have to stop thinking that medication or enough discipline will solve the problem. We have to stop judging our family members, friends, and neighbors and ask ourselves instead,
"What can I do to help them?"
Oftentimes, the person is trying to get help. As in the case of Emily Dyches, they were doing all that they could to get her the help that she needed. They utilized all of the resources to their disposal. But there were still missing pieces to the puzzle and without those pieces, the battle is hard to win.
A lot of times, however, the person is afraid to get help because of the stigma that is still attached to mental illness. They don't want to be "that person" in the office who is seeing a psychiatrist. They don't want to be "that mother" who has her kid on medication instead of going the natural route or they don't want to have their child be the one who has to leave class to speak to the school counselor.
We can win this battle together.
How can we do it?
We can stop pointing fingers and whispering behind backs and start helping.
There is hope and there is help when there is LOVE.
You're Not Alone- Meredith Andrews
We are NEVER alone.
I hope you have a wonderful and happy Sunday as you reflect on our Savior this day.
Man, am I ever! The countdown is definitely on around our house. We are looking forward to everything that summertime brings.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone! It is shaping up to be a beautiful day to celebrate all of the mothers in our lives. I know that I have many mothers who have set examples to me of how to be kind, generous, selfless, and loving. I hope that this Mother's Day you will be able to express your gratitude to the mothers in your lives who mean so much to you.
I Often Go Walking
Happy Mother's Day!
I Can Do Hard Things- Ashley Frederickson
When I was in the eighth grade, I remember laying on the couch, having stayed home from school, with the worst stomach pain I have ever known. I mustered up a silent prayer in my thirteen-year-old faithful heart certain that Heavenly Father would take the pain away because of my faith. As soon as I finished my prayer, the pain multiplied by ten.
Tears started streaming down my face from the pain. I felt broken and confused. Weren't prayers supposed to help? What about the scripture, "Ask and ye shall receive?" At this point I honestly felt hurt and betrayed by Heavenly Father and I became terrified to pray when I was in pain and needed relief. This experience led me to fear that my prayers would cause more pain than relief and I was better off not praying.
I constantly try to run from hard things instead of facing them head on, I simply don't like pain of any kind. But in my twenty-something years of striving to become the girl I was meant to be, I've learned that gaining character and refinement isn't always comfortable, sometimes it's A LOT of pain, but it is always worth it.
When I am asked the question, "What's the hardest thing you've been through?" I sometimes just want to shrivel up because I have been pretty blessed. Some people face REALLY HARD things, things I can't fathom. And while I have faced pain, trial, loneliness, and sorrow; I really haven't faced the burdens some are called to bear. But I've learned that we have all come to earth called to go through different things for different reasons. We can't measure pain by the human eye, we can't compare sorrow and grief. God loves each of His children the same. The hard things we are called to bear and the things that will help us personally grow the most.
Oh I know heartbreak. Sacrificing so much for someone you care about. Doing everything you possibly can to help someone with an addiction, only to find that they still choose that addiction over all the support you have given. Going out of your way to do everything for this person and then having the courage to walk away when you've learned enough is enough.
Oh I know rejection. Competing in nine different pageants and never being crowned queen. From pouring your heart and soul into preparation to come up short and be judged by forty-five different judges.
Oh I know fear. Anxiety is practically paralyzing when it comes. I honestly would describe panic attacks as the worst pain ever. And then the guilt that comes after from living in fear instead of faith.
Oh I know mental illness. Growing up with a mom who had OCD only to be diagnosed with it myself two years out of high school. At one point of my life it paralyzed my normal routine and I found myself obsessing over every single door knob handle, handshake, restaurant, and illness the rest of mankind was looking over. Thank goodness it hasn't been as bad since. But that year was the most exhausting one yet. And then to face depression and ADD on top of it didn't make things any easier.
At this time I was suffering from anxiety and depression in a way I had not experienced before. I would cry at least fifty times a day, I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but that's how real it was. I would lay on the floor by my bed and just cry, the hard cry where your face gets all tingly and you become so exhausted from the emotional drain it causes. I had left my job (long story I will have to share sometime) and I was looking for another one, although I really thought I should be "waiting on God", boy was I wrong. I felt purposeless, I felt miserable. I kept dwelling on what I hadn't accomplished in my life. I kept dwelling on why I hadn't been married and started a family yet. I kept dwelling on why God was constantly telling me "No".
What I can tell you is that life gets better! It always gets better. During this hard time, as much as it felt like I had been abandoned by God and I was being completely overlooked and forgotten by Him, I now see so clearly how much He cared and was looking after me. I have no doubt in my mind that if I could get through those three rough months that had no visible pain but emotional pain that could be described as my own Gethsemane, then I know without a doubt that I can do hard things.
I was born to do hard things. Especially with my Savior at my side, going through everything I face. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is why we HAVE to be kind. We HAVE to strive to see other's through God's eyes and be less quick to pass judgments of any kind.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Ashley!
IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, IS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STRUGGLE ALONE. You do not have to feel ashamed. The struggle is very real and there are resources out there to help you.
*Talk to someone. If you don't feel comfortable seeking professional help just yet, talk to a close friend, family member, or your local religious leader if you have one.
*Start a gratitude journal. There is nothing better then sitting down at the end of the day and looking for the positives in your life instead of the negatives. You will be amazed at what a difference this will make.
*Serve other people. No matter what trial you are facing, remember this...There is ALWAYS someone who is worse off then you are. Find those people. Help them. Love them. As you turn outward and lose yourself in serving others, you will find that your pain will become more manageable.
*Trust in the Savior. He knows your pain. He is there with you through each and every struggle. Reach out to Him. Utilize the power of the Atonement in your life. The Savior is no respecter of persons. It doesn't matter what religion you practice. HE LOVES YOU. Trust in His love for you and let Him ease your pain.
It's been a week filled with birthday fun around our house. My daughter, Emma, is now officially a 14-year old girl. (Yikes.)
My husband and love of my life, Mark, is turning the big 4-0 today! Happy birthday honey! Love you!
I decided that I would ask each of them what their favorite hymn or sacred song is since I shared Abbie's favorite song during her birthday week. Mark has too many favorites to choose just one and Emma said, "I Stand All Amazed." Hands down. Almost no hesitation with the answer. I couldn't agree with you more, Em. What a beautiful song to hear and sing on this day to worship our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I Stand All Amazed- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
"Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me."
I truly stand all amazed at the love my Savior has for me.
I stand all amazed that He is so patient with me with all of the weaknesses that I exhibit on a daily basis.
It is wonderful that I have an older brother who cares so much for me that He gave His life so that I could be perfected in Him.
I am loving my second chance at life.
Every day is an opportunity to do good and to be a little better than the day before.
I love being a mommy.
It's my favorite thing in this world and my most important job.
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