Friday, January 06, 2017

Changes Come

Changes come, turn my word around.

After a year sabbatical, I am returning to blogging. I should begin with sharing why I stopped.
Sweetie has always known about my blog. She has read it at times. Last December she used it as a form of triangulation between her therapist and myself. Even though there is no identifying information she tried saying the reason she can't trust me is my blog. I knew it was a manipulation so she didn't have to work on her issues during her session but I still decided to take it out of the equation and just stopped. I originally planned on taking a few month break and then life hit warp speed. I will do my best to wrap it all up in as few words as possible while still giving proper attention to key events of the year. I want to put a disclaimer. 2016 was awful, really agonizingly awful. But in the complete mess that was 2016, God was ever present.
The first 3 months were pretty status quo. Driving often to Winston Salem for meetings and visits with Sweetie while she was in her IAFT placement. She did fairly well while there. But visits home were always a challenge. Spartacus had his first birthday and we celebrated with a Hungry Caterpillar  birthday party. It was a lot of fun with many people packed into our small home.
Then April happened... My husband headed to his hometown of Portoviejo Ecuador for a 2 week visit. Spartacus started with a high fever of 102.9. I took him to the doctor but they couldn't find anything and ruled it viral. During the week the fever persisted and I called multiple times but there were no other symptoms, so they said just keep him comfortable with Motrin and Tylenol. Then Spartacus' jaw swelled up on one side, we headed back to the pediatrician and she thought it could be the mumps or an infection of the parotid gland. She put him on antibiotics.
Within a day, his jaw swelled up even larger and he spiked a fever that was over 104, so I headed to the emergency room. After bloodwork and an ultrasound, he was admitted and they found he had a growth in his neck that might be infected. They started him on steroids and antibiotics.
The next day when I ran home to check on my pups and shower quickly, I walked in to find my schnauzer Boobah collapsed lying in his own urine. He had a stroke sometime during the night. A couple of friends immediately came over to help me get him to the emergency vet and I had to say goodbye to my most beloved dog. I lost a piece of my heart that day. As challenging as my life had been to that point, that was the worst moment of my life. I immediately had to head back to the hospital. We were in the tiniest little room that didn't even have a real window. The nurses were so sweet and managed to arrange to get me a hospital bed instead of the crib. That way I could sleep in the bed with Spartacus. I brought in my oil diffuser, my favorite quilt and music. That night I laid in that hospital bed in the little room with lights out with only the glow from the diffuser. The air smelled of lavender, roman chamomile and blue tansy. Soft music played, I had a playlist I had made for a friend whose daughter had brain surgery still stored, so it was the perfect music for the moment. In that little closet of a room, it felt like there was only Spartacus, myself and God in the whole world and I was truly at peace. I am so grateful for that little room and those hours of being held by God.
Meanwhile, my husband was still working on trying to get back home. It was a several hour drive to the nearest airport and then he was on standby for a flight home. Once he arrived he was in such a complete state of depression and anger that I had to kick him out of the hospital because he was yelling at people. And then 2 days later on April 16th a 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador and his home city of Portoviejo was devastated. The building Cris was staying in and should have still been staying in was destroyed. If he was there he would have died. Immediately, I connected the fact that had Spartacus not been hospitalized, I would have lost Cris. Over the next 3 weeks we were in and out of the hospital 2 more times with Spartacus and this growth that became infected with MRSA. We sent 26 days total in the local children's hospital and Spartacus underwent 1 minor surgery to try and drain the infection and then a major one. A pediatric neck specialist was brought in to remove the growth that was now the sized of a baseball, his lymph nodes in his neck, part of his parotid gland and clean out the MRSA infection. Spartacus was a trooper through all of it. Every single day we were surrounded by people who loved us. We were brought meals, toys and coloring books for me. Friends who worked in the hospital came at all hours to check on us and or pray for us. I can not tell you of another time in my life, that I ever felt so well loved. While we were in the hospital with Spartacus, Cris lost his job for taking too much time off. He was told if he didn't come in for work the day of Spartacus' surgery that he didn't have a job. A few days later the truck team he normally drove with flipped on the highway and seriously injured the man who was in the seat where Cris would have been sitting. Again, God used something really horrible to save Cris. Sweetie's reaction to everything we had gone through was extremely hurtful. She stated that we deserved all of it. And then she went back to non-communication with us. Pulling further and further away from us.
The day we were getting discharged from the hospital I received an email asking if I would provide respite care for a teen for 2 weeks. Being me, I said yes. This has turned into a long term placement and a crazy legal battle for this teen, which has resulted in her being placed with us as her court appointed placement. Cris losing his job lead to Cris and I started our own business and it has been doing well. Normal ebbs and flows, but doing well for a new business.
In the middle of all this we moved to be closer to our support system and I was hospitalized twice with MRSA on my face. And then a couple weeks later our church community lost one of it's most beloved members in a motorcycle accident. He was the father of two of the young men I have worked with in our church youth for years. This rocked our church community. Again, I watched as our community surround his family and love them the same way that their family and the rest of the community surrounded us in the hospital. We are just so blessed to receive and share love like this.
Sweetie happened to be scheduled for a home visit during the funeral of my friend. And like every other visit we ad issues. The week after the visit in a therapy appointment she requested that we relinquish her to DSS custody. She shared that she had been in contact with he biological family and wanted to go back to them. We tried to explain that this was not a possibility because their rights were terminated for abuse/neglect and we would be charged with abandonment if we relinquished.
She did not care and threatened to start making false accusations against my husband again. Thankfully she did this in front of her therapist, because we did not relinquish and she stuck to her word. She reported us both for abuse of all kinds. At one point she was freaking out that there was gonorrhea all over her (perfectly clear) face. Stating that my husband raped her and gave it to her.  This went on for days.. She went and was test 3 times for VD and all time came back negative. AT the same time her bio family was on their way up from Florida to get her because she told them we were all abusing her and that she was being raped. Due to all this and explosive behaviors in the home, Sweetie was taken back to the local mental hospital again. I was called to be a part of admitting her. While we were there and I was being interviewed by a nurse in an office, Sweetie called DSS and reported that I abandoned her at the hospital.(While I was in the room across the hall from her). Multiple calls and reports were made to DSS by her that week and luckily, none were investigated. Last time we were investigated for false allegations that we almost divorced. This time was scarier becasue we feared that they could remove Spartacus from our home. Sweetie was than moved to a new foster home. This one seems to be good for her and she seems semi-stable. The most stable she has been in the last 4 1/2 years she came to live with us. Her plan is now to reunify with her family when she turns 18 next year and I finally reached the point where I accept that I really can not fix her, I am not The Christ. I had said that so many times before, but now my heart believed it. I have moved my relationship with her to that of an advocate. With all that is going on,I started battle symptoms of what was narrowed down by doctors to be Fibromyalgia. The constant stress from the last several years were taking a toll on my body, I started working with a therapist for treatment of secondary PTSD and deep tissue work a couple times a month on effected joints. Life began to fall into a rhythm. My cousin moved down here from NY and comes to spend time with Spartacus 3 times a week. He is a normal rambunctious toddler, getting into everything and has the sweetest personality, He absolutely loves the young lady living with us and harassing our 3 pups.
We took him on a Disney cruise with his best buddy and their family. It was a sweet break before the storm that was to come. On October 24th one of my best friends has twins at 26 weeks gestation after being in the hospital in labor for 7 days. Both girls were born under 2 pounds. Despite all odds the girls are doing well today and are almost ready to be discharged home. After spending a lot of time in the hospital, I started back to my normal busy life. I spent a good portion of the fall knitting, sewing and painting to make items for a fundraiser for a good friend's adoption from China. There seemed to always be someone having a baby or being in the hospital, so I do what I do to love on people...I cooked. I joined a team going on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I have always wanted to go on a mission trip and the last 2 years I couldn't because of the timing. Myself and 2 other young ladies became the fundraising team leaders. We were so excited about our bake sales and other events we had planned. On November 3rd One of these young ladies passed away at the age of 29. A young woman so full of life and love for God that just poured out of her onto everyone she came in contact with. Another huge blow to my church community. And again we did what we do, we began loving on that family. The Sunday before she posted this on Facebook. It hit me, She really got it! This is how life should be lived. On a single sheet of paper she summed up what it meant to live for Jesus. And I wanted this. So this picture is saved on my phone and I look at it every day. I am committed to living this.
2 weeks to the day later was an absolutely horrendous day. That is the day that one of my sweet boys from my youth group committed suicide. A young man so full of joy, from one of the sweetest families you could ever meet. Nothing could have prepared our community for this loss that has left us all still in a fog. I can still feel the pound of my heart as I walk down the street to tell our closest friends who were very close to the teen. Being the person to break the news was excruciating. I did not want to be the one to do it, but I didn't want them to get it through a phone tree. My heart hurts everyday with the loss of this young man and the loss that our community has experienced as a whole. I miss my young friend and the carefree relationship I had with his sisters. I miss the innocence of our young adults in the youth and that they are all now not so shiny and bright. That has been replaced with deep connections and real hard conversations. There is guilt and doubt. It has drastically changed the landscape of our community forever.
As if there was not enough pain, a few weeks later another friend and member of our church lost her mother. 3 deaths in less than 7 weeks. In the 15 years prior there had been very few deaths. All 4 deaths in the last 6 months involved major lovers of Jesus and I know they are rejoicing in heaven. But those of us who are left behind are now completely changed. We were a hip, fun church and now we are weary and worn. I imagine the feeling being like that of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness  for 40 years thinking "Where are you God??? How can we have to face so much pain, layered on top of more pain?". The holidays were quiet this year. Concentrating on reflection and being in the moment with Spartacus. Finding joy in the little moments. That is really all I could bring myself to do.
Oh and I forgot, as if life wasn't crazy enough, we got another puppy. When I took our court appointed teen up to see a friend, I got to spend time with her friend's mom and the puppies that she breeds. She had a puppy that looked just like Boobah! I had to bring him home! And he is just like Boobah... I forgot how much of a chewer he was. Ugh! 

So, that was the Cliff Note's version of the last year. In 2016 changes did come and turned our world around....But while my year has been flipped upside down, I have never been more sure that God is here among us making beauty out of the mess.

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