Dave’s Wedding

I remember Dave calling Mom and telling us that Sharon agreed to marry him.  He was so excited!  He asked if they could get married at home. Mom said yes!  And then the hustle and bustle of a wedding ensued.

Sharon was delightful and I always enjoyed spending time with her.  Dave and Sharon were living in Phoenix.  I was always welcome to come stay with them and spent days off with them in Phoenix.

They purchased their wedding rings in Tucson.  Sharon called me when they were ready and asked me to go pick them up.  I went to the jewelers and he tried to give me this size 4 wedding ring- I knew he was wrong.  I left it there and called Sharon when I got home – no cell phones back then!  I told her what he tried to give to me and she said yes- that is my ring- I said no way?!?  You wear a size 4??  I think my ring size back then was a 7 and I thought all ADULTS had large fingers…. LOL  So I went back the next day and picked up her wedding ring.

Dave and Sharon drove down to Tucson the day before the wedding.  We were all having fun with pre wedding chores.  After dinner Dave insisted that we all see the suit that he bought to get married in.  Mind you this was the only suit I ever remember Dave wanting after his Army uniform.  As he is unwrapping his suit he looks at Sharon and says ‘where are the pants?’  I still remember the horror in her face as she realized the pants were still hanging in the closet at their home.

My brother said, that’s okay- I’ll get married without pants.  Because he would have married Sharon in his birthday suit- he was very happy to have her in his life.  I offered to go get his pants and finally we all settled on Sharon and I drove up together and retrieved the pants to the suit.  Late night for the bride to be but it was a fun road trip!!

You could feel Dave’s love, his energy and it invaded every aspect of their wedding day.  To see Dave feel that complete was inspiring to each of us.  It is one of the moments in time I still use when assisting others.  I say- do you remember how you felt on your wedding day?  What can we do to bring that feeling back to your marriage?  Can you love each other ‘just because’ again- let go of the hurt, the disappointment, the anger and find your way back to the beginning?

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Dave

Back in 2013 I was the Administrative Assistant at our church.  We had a sad falling out and I wrote this blog and put it into the church bulletin:  https://wordpress.com/post/maloneyblog.wordpress.com/136

It was true.  I remember vividly my brothers return from Viet Nam.  I had to go over details with our mother many years ago because I also remember believing my brother was not coming home.  So this memory is told with the missing parts filled in to help make sense of what a 7 year old recalls:

Sitting in front of the television EVERY night looking for my brothers name in the list of names played after the news.  I watched with intent EVERY night knowing that I had not been told of his death.  I believed that the dead soldiers names were listed at the end of the news broadcast.

My mother was not sure why I believed that and did not recall that the news ever broadcast soldiers killed in action that way, she told me why I believed he was killed.  She was called by Dave and told that he would be released from duty on a certain date and she should pick him up.

We were there to pick him up and he was not there.  It took her nearly 3 weeks to find out where her son was.  Turned out someone had given Dave the wrong ‘out’ date and held up his discharge for 3 weeks.  He was mad at the world and never bothered to call his mother to let her know.   He was state side and safe- and how Mom learned of his correct discharge date is still a mystery to me.  But in that frantic 3 weeks for her- I knew he was a ‘short-timer’ and that’s when lots of soldiers are killed in action.  I remember the desperation of wanting Dave to be home and okay but the belief that he was gone.

Thankfully I remember picking him up.  He was Oh so HANDSOME in that army uniform.  He walked with me like I was his queen.  He was spit at and called horrible names.  I was in shock at how awful those war protesters were.  I had seen news reports but when confronted with it first hand at what was the best day in my young life was shocking to say the least.

Here my HERO was returned to us ALIVE!  And in all that glory people were calling him a baby killer, throwing things at us and spitting on him.  He walked with all the honor and discipline a soldier is taught.  We got into Moms car and drove home.  He took off that uniform and NEVER looked at it again.  Mom saved it for a few years but realized it brought him more grief than good so she got rid of it.

Still to this day when a gentleman in a uniform offers me his arm (I am now a great grandmother in my life) I feel like that 7 year old ‘Queen’ that my brother walked out of the terrible place into our home.

To each and every veteran that has ever served in the military I thank you for your service and your sacrifice.  What you gave to me as a citizen of the U.S.A. I appreciate deeply and I NEVER take your service lightly.

Foster Care

There is much to be said about Foster Care!  I have witnessed HUGE changes throughout foster care in my lifetime.  Most of these changes are excellent.  Like the motto from our DHS is ‘Love a child, Foster a Family’  The DHS is truly trying to lift up the entire family when they become involved with removing children from their homes.

This task is monumental.  To Foster a Family is to help each member overcome what ever brought DHS to their doorstep.  Change like this does not happen overnight.  While the adults are working through their issues their children are living in a foster home.  This is a home where someone has said YES, my home will meet ALL requirements of DHS.  My home will be a safe haven.  YES, we will go to doctors, dentists, therapists, family visits, set up school schedules and help the schools help these children who are traumatized.

This is a double edged sword from my perception.  The kids were never really seen by doctors or therapists decades ago and so this is an improvement that Foster parents are required to do, it comes at a cost.  While we say take them to their appointments- the foster parent has to make the appointment, make sure the insurance is accepted, get to the appointment, report all findings, and follow up with any necessary follow up.  That alone is a FULL TIME job to do for just one child.

I speak from experience.  My business partner and daughter is a foster parent.  She has always been a hard working person.  There are not many people I would agree to go into business with, but she matches my work ethic, abilities and willingness.  We started our business prior to her becoming a foster parent.  While I support this change in her personal life it has taken a toll on our business.  Her time gets spent on the needs of the children in her care and the requirements of DHS.

We need more foster parents.  There are not enough.  Part of the reason that there are not enough is it is extremely challenging to be a foster parent.  I know most employers can not accept the lack of time you have for your job.  This is a problem that I believe DHS needs to help sort out.  I know that DHS does not have unlimited resources and would find it difficult to get all of the beginning requirements done with all of the placements they have.  But foster families suffer the brunt of this endeavor and many never take another child after the first one.

The Dave Thomas Foundation asks employers to be adoption friendly.  https://www.davethomasfoundation.org/our-programs/adoption-friendly-workplace/   This is a fantastic organization and I would hope you will consider signing up.  My personal belief is that we need a Foster Friendly organization as well.  Where employers that support an employee in being a foster parent offers things like telecommuting, 4 day work weeks, open communication with that employee.

Let’s help DHS fix problems like too much is required at the onset of a new placement, lets help foster parents fulfill requirements and be able to keep their employment, lets find more foster homes and help change our world by ‘Love a child, Foster a Family’

No More Decisions today, please.

Recently our family went through a terrible tragedy.  It landed one of our daughters in the hospital 24/7 caring for her son.  While he received excellent care we are not the type of people who can leave a loved one in the hospital alone while we go take care of food, showering and such.

We’ve had many conversations about those days in the hospital.  I am grateful I was able to be there for her to run the ‘Ronald McDonald’ floor and get a shower in.  I am extremely grateful for all of the help she received from her extended family, church family and friends.

One of ways that could possibly help others in the future is instead of asking “What can I do?” or “What can I bring you to eat?”  During times of crisis the people we are trying to help are so busy making life and death decisions that asking them to make more decisions is crippling.  It is more helpful to say- Can I bring you Mexican food or a Chicken dinner?  A choice is easier to make than a decision.  Instead of “What can i do to help?”  Say I am driving by your house- can I feed the animals? or I will be near the hospital today- can I bring you clean clothes?  Each of us has different relationships with the people going through the crisis- so offer what type of help you are capable of giving, instead of giving them yet another decision to make.

We are so grateful our crisis ended with healing and to witness the power of God always leaves me awestruck.  We serve a mighty God who loves us endlessly that is still moving the mountains in our lives.  Thank you to all of the kind loving people who reached out and helped our daughter and her family.

 

 

Life threw another curve ball

Hello Pen and Paper,

I received a horrible telephone call Monday night.  I knew I had to put things on hold and get there to help one of our children.  I called my husband and said we are leaving when I get home- get ready.

Mental Health issues have been no stranger to this family.  My brother committed suicide in 1991.  He left behind his sweet 5 year old son and the rest of us wishing we had done more, wanting to know what we did wrong.  Should I have done this?  Would that have made a difference.  The words of my nephew still make me cry today, “Why didn’t Daddy knowloved him enough to stay alive?”

Sadly that wasn’t enough when I attempted suicide.  And to those whom I hurt, please know it was never because you didn’t love me ‘enough’.  I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.  The emotional pain was more than I could handle any longer.  I am grateful I did not succeed.  I am happy that I’ve been part of your lives and traveling this journey we call life.  I apologize for hurting you.

#suicideawareness will be my focus for now.  I want to be the change that I so desperately need to see in our world.  I’ve used anti-depressants, I’ve ‘graduated’ from Mental Health counseling and I still struggle with mental health issues.  I have tools to help me and I utilized all of them this last week.  I don’t ever want to see another person I love, like or even hate hurt like our family hurt this last week.

I will not tell their story.  They deserve the respect to tell their story.  I am grateful beyond words that the God we serve brought us a walking, talking living miracle.  Praise God for answering the prayers of our family- biological, church and adopted.

While finding my path to the creation of a Suicide Awareness group- I’ve found many good websites with great information.  I am disappointed because we still don’t have the answers of how to stop this.  You know- if I break my arm it hangs there funny and even if I don’t notice it broken other people do and get me the necessary help.  Then it has a cast and everyone KNOWS she has a broken arm.  But when my mind begins to root into itself finding every despicable thing about me and broadcast it across my personal widescreen monitor- no can see it.  No one can turn it off and say don’t watch that.  No one can hear my inner voice that says “you are in the way- just get out of here” on repeat.  I am the only one that hears my mind saying ‘you aren’t good enough’ over and over again.  So things spiral out of control and downward.

But with the help of Mental Health counselors I’ve found one of my many tools is God and His word.

2 Corinthians 10:5 New International Version (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So when my inner demons begin telling me I am not enough I take that thought captive and I declare that I am enough.  God sent his son to die for me because I was enough.  I refuse to listen to this demon anymore and instead I think on all good things.

Philippians 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Sometimes the things I find to think about are around me and not me- but they are good and shut up the demons.

 

If you struggle with mental health and need someone to talk to; I am willing to listen.  I don’t have the answers.  I care.  I love everyone.  I want to help.  I want to be the change that helps you live one more day, one more hour, one more minute until the hurt subsides and you can resume.

This last week hit me so hard that I will be getting the semicolon tattoo.  My daughters asked me if I wanted to do this together a few years ago and I turned them down.  I was ashamed of me and it hurt too much to think that my daughters had ever been suicidal.  It doesn’t hurt any less today- but I am no longer ashamed.  I am an open book.  If something I have experienced will help someone else I want you to know anything and everything about my life.

Dear Heavenly Father,  I’ve seen you move mountains in my life more than once.  I’ve seen you bring change in ways only you were capable of.  Father we need you today to help us stomp out suicide.  Please guide my steps and create through me a safe place for people to turn to in their time of need.  Thank you God for bringing us our miracles last week.  May your Glory shine through our family forever more.  AMEN

Chiari Malformation

One of my daughters was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation earlier this year.  While I will always support my children throughout their lives I didn’t want to believe this diagnosis.  There was part of me that felt if I didn’t claim this diagnosis it would not be true and therefore go away.

It hasn’t gone away.  It appears that she does have this.  In my ignorance I thought it was a ‘new’ disease that soon we would hear how wrong the doctors were about it.  Let’s be honest that happens more than it should!

September is Chiari Malformation awareness month.  When I saw our daughter post that on Facebook I decided it was time for me to become more aware.  It was time I learned about this and if there is anything I can do to help or make life better in anyway.  I am proud to say I have learned a lot.  It is not a ‘new’ disease.  It was first discovered in 1890.  Obviously medicine has improved greatly since then but it does not seem as much improved on curing this malformation.

Our daughter was born prematurely.  2 months early and had to spend nearly that entire 2 months in NICU.  We got her home and had a near ‘SIDS’ death with her 3 days later.  She had to wear an apnea monitor until she was 3 years old because she would stop breathing every time she fell asleep.  She had many respiratory issues throughout her childhood.  I heard so many times -it isn’t presenting like Asthma but it seems to respond to Asthma treatments.  Well now that she is an adult and heard that same statement more than once with hospitalizations for respiratory distress, we are wondering- She never has really responded with easier breathing until the doctors get steroids into her body.  We are wondering if the steroids decrease the swelling of the Chiari Malformation, which then in turns decreases the respiratory distress.

I don’t know if we will get the answers to these questions.  I’ve looked for ways to decrease her respiratory distress since the day she was born.  She spent the first 10 days in an enclosed incubator with oxygen and I could only put a gloved hand inside to touch her. The studies show that most Chiari Malformation is a birth defect.  So here this tiny baby was helpless and all of the tests for the next 3 decades didn’t get to the root of her ailment.

Our daughter is NOT defective!  She is bright, beautiful, Christian, a wife, a mother, lover of animals, business owner, author, aunt, cousin, brainiac and more.  Our daughter is NOT Chiari Malformation.  She might have this but it does not define who she is.  We serve a Big God that handles big problems.  We will follow where God leads and find joy, love, peace, hope and more.

#chiariinformation #chiarisupport #lovemychildren #GodisGood

Foster care

My daughter is a foster parent.  She has provided this service for two years now.  She has had several children with a variety of issues.  The motto of our local Department of Health & Human Services is: ‘Love a child, Foster a Family’.

I’ve seen many changes in the foster care system from when I was a child.  Most of the changes are positive ones.  But there is still a huge stigma against foster parents.  While I can not speak for every foster parent out there- I can speak for one of them.  She has no intention of ‘stealing’ other people’s children.  She has no ill wishes for you as a parent.

Something happened in your life that caused your children to need a safe home to live in.  For some of you it will be a short period of time.  For others it will take many months to work out your issues.  In the meantime foster parents have taken the classes, passed the certifications and background checks to be allowed to open their homes and hearts to help you and your children.

I do not know how many parents of foster parents take the time to get certified to provide respite care for these foster children, but Mike & I decided it was the best way we could support our daughter in this endeavor.  I don’t appreciate being glared at or spoken rudely to when I have spent my time, my gas and my energy to bring your child to visit you.  Not one person in our homes ever speaks badly about you to your child.  We encourage your child to want to visit you and talk to you on the telephone.  You could at least pretend like you appreciate it.

My daughter keeps reminding me that she didn’t get into this for the appreciation or the money (which is much less than some people think).  She got into it because she knew children needed a safe home.

I’ve recently struggled emotionally.  Two of the preteens she fostered for over a year have gotten to return home.  I’ve tried to keep the lines of communication open with these preteens.  It has not worked.  They are happy to be home and things are going well for them.  There have been life issues that I wanted to help comfort them through, but I did not get to.  I am grateful that our daughter has her line of communication working well.  Through that ‘Foster a Family’ mentality she has been able to share life in their home with them.

This is a huge change in the foster care system and one that will help it become better.  Instead of people viewing foster parents as the enemy these heroes need to be seen as the heroes they are.  They provide a safe environment for other peoples children and help them through each day until they can return home to their parents.  Foster parents don’t want to hurt you, or take your children.  They are not replacing you or what you mean to your children- NO ONE can do that!

So share some love for the foster parents in your life.  Drop them off a gift card or a meal.  Most of these people are working unbelievably hard to help our communities be friendly, loving and safe!

#FosterCare #Parenting #Community #LoveachildFosteraFamily #Familylove #Caringissharing