Life Before Diagnosis, Part 4

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to be just like my parents. Loving, caring, giving. So, on my 39th birthday, when I was still walking with a walker, my husband and I decided we would do 39 Random Acts of Kindness.

We started out by having lunch at Bertucci’s. There we picked a table where two men were sitting, enjoying their meal. When our waitress stopped by our table, I showed her the note I’d written earlier. It read, “We’d like to pay the bill for the two men diagonal from us. Please bring us their check and don’t tell them we’d paid for their meal.” They must have something to her, because she told them we paid. The men were so thankful. We also gave the two waitresses both 100% tips.

From there we went to Dunkin’ Donuts and bought a lot of hot chocolate, dozens of doughnuts, and several gift cards. We then stopped back home to pick up my children, to show them the happiness of giving. We also picked up a 50-pound bag of dog food from our garage, unopened. Our dog, Anderson, had just died of stomach cancer. I still miss that sweet black lab today.

Now for the next fun part! As this was February, and people were cold, our first stop was when we spotted men on roadwork, and we gave them hot chocolates and a dozen doughnuts. We gave each school a dozen. We donated the dog food to a no-kill animal shelter. We stopped with hot chocolate and gift cards to every school crossing guard and police officer we found. I walked up to our local fire department and gave them a dozen doughnuts. The children were actually the ones who donated the dog food, because I wanted them to participate, not just be observers.

Near the end, my daughter and I went into Wawa to buy the last few gift cards we needed. We handed out three gift cards to people in line behind us, then we were headed to my parents’ home. This was our last stop; we handed out Wawa gift cards to my parents, my sisters, and their husbands.

In the end, we had done 39 Random Acts of Kindness. To finish off the evening, we ordered yummy-delicious pizza.

Hebrews 13:2 – Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (KJV)

Life Before Diagnosis, Part 3

I had a beautiful childhood, which included my two sisters and never-divorced Dad and Mom. My parents were loving, giving people, and, as I grew up, I wanted to be just like them. They were fabulous roll models. They gave generously to the people in their lives, sometimes to their own detriment. Every Christmas was magical. We would begin our celebration with a trip to Philadelphia, starting with a train ride to Philly. From the train, we would have lunch in the Gallery, which was essentially an underground mall. Then, we would go to Wanamaker’s for their seasonal Christmas light show. It had singing, along with lighted Santa’s train, ballerinas, snowflakes, nutcrackers, bears, candy canes, snowmen, and much more! We never missed it. “We” included my grandmother, my aunt, Mom, my cousin, and me and my two sisters.

After the light show, we went to the Children’s floor. In there, we kids could ride a “train” they had across the top of the room! Then, we went to a production of “A Christmas Carol.” It was a walk-through exhibit, complete with cobblestone flooring. We then returned to the Gallery to have dinner. Before we left for the train, Mom bought ooey-gooey, cinnamon buns, which we ate at home.

Dad and Mom made Christmastime even more jovial. We baked tons of Christmas cookies, in several varieties. Also, we made tiny cherry cheesecakes that were super yummy. Christmas day was the best! Before we were allowed downstairs, Dad would go down and set the mood. He turned on the tree and turned on he radio station with all-day Christmas music. When we were allowed down, our eyes exploded when we saw the plethora of presents for each person.

Like I said earlier, I wanted be like my parents. My dad was a drafting/CAD teacher and my mom was a Certified Medical Assistant. I first tried drafting because it was offered in my middle school. I also took two years of it in high school. Then Mom started taking me to work with her. I fell in love with the medical field, and became a CMA myself.

I also wanted to be charitable, but that’s a story for next week!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2: 11 (KJV)

Life Before ALS, Continued

Mike and I decided to plant an organic garden in our side yard. We started out small; only blueberry and blackberry bushes and jalepenos. How I loved the spicy burn of jalepenos in salads and sandwiches! However, before I got one taste of them, the wild rabbits in our yard ate them. I was so disappointed, when I should have rejoiced because God allowed me to plant a garden in the first place. In the end, only the blackberry bush survived. Apparently, the rabbits weren’t interested in blackberries.

And did the bush survive! It grew to an enormous size, spreading along the side of our house. After the ambush of the rabbits vs. the jalepenos, we had put up a tall fence around our garden. At that point, I started having difficulty raising myself back up. I thought it was because of my weight, which was over 300 pounds. Since I couldn’t work in the garden any longer, we took down the fencing. It allowed the blackberry bush to grow larger.

I never thought to pray over our garden, So, it’s no wonder that it failed; the garden never had God’s blessings upon it.

Life Before ALS

Before I was diagnosed with ALS, I was suffering from PTSD and Dissociation due to my first marriage. In spite of that, I went to college in Florida to start a new career. When the children and I moved back up north, I continued my education, working two jobs, and caring for my children, with my parents’ unselfish, loving help.

After two years, I earned an A.S. in education, and transferred from community college to a university. I changed my major a few times, until I found my passion. I went from teaching high school, to teaching physical education, to English with a minor in journalism. I had finally found my niche.

In the meantime, I met and married a great man, whom I met in our church’s choir. He was a godly man, which I loved about him. I was certainly blessed by having him in my life. The children were experiencing blessings too, but I don’t think they realized it then. My husband was a good, good person, and I still love him.

After we were married, I still had one semester left at the university. Then I graduated with a B.A. in English language and literature. I had dropped the minor in journalism because I had difficulty walking and could no longer drive. The day I gave up driving was a very scary day. My right foot had kept giving out and my left foot was already useless. God was with me, and He brought me home safely to my children and to my husband.

Joshua 1:9b – Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (KJV)

Helping Others

When we were living in Florida, I was newly divorced and preparing me and my children to move back up North, we went to the store. I needed a few items for the trip. I let the children choose something that would keep them busy on the long ride back home. However, at the check-out, I was given a horrible blow when I realized that I didn’t have enough cash to buy my children’s toys. As the tears rolled my face, I told them that I didn’t have enough money to purchase their gifts. It broke all of our hearts.

In that moment, my angel appeared. She placed $40 in my hand and told me I could buy my children’s presents. I was shocked. I didn’t expect a complete stranger to help us. After the purchase, I tried to give the change back to her, but she refused to take what I had left. From that moment on, I promised myself that I would help others.

Strangely enough, my children and I were in the same store, except we were up north, when my first opportunity to help someone presented itself. A mother with two young children, found herself in the same situation I had been in, in Florida. This time, she couldn’t even buy apples. I felt for her. I asked her if I could pay for her entire order. She was so happy that I couldn’t help to be thrilled for her.

Life After My Diagnosis

It started with my legs. Mike helped me walk upstairs for a shower and to get a good night’s sleep in our king-sized bed. The problem with showering was I had to hurry because my legs would give out. Mike waited in the bedroom, attached to the master bath, until I called to him. At that point, he rushed in, grabbed a towel, and ran to me. He opened the shower door and put his strong arms around my waist before I fell. Thank our Holy God that Mike never missed.

We then decided to move our bedroom downstairs to our dining room. All the children helped, even some of their friends who happened to be in our home, visiting. Prior to that, I had been sleeping in a tan, comfy recliner and spending most of my days there. I still had use of my entire upper body, so I worked for an online tutoring service as a tutor for English. I was working on my Bachelors degree in English language and literature, which I completed in 2012. My dad had taken me to a store that sold medical necessities at a discount. There I got my first electric wheelchair that I could drive by myself!

And drive, I did! I would drive to my parents’ home, which was a few blocks away. I also needed it when Mike and I drove across the country. That chair saw the Grand Canyon, Four Corners, Hoover Dam, Death Valley, and so much more! It was the most-traveled wheelchair I ever heard of.

How I Told My Children My Diagnosis of ALS

It was a very sad day. My children … did they have to know right now? They had seen me lose my independence; they deserved to know why. I owed them that. Besides, I didn’t know how much longer I’d be Heaven-bound. I needed them to know that we’ll never take another day for granted.

So, we all sat at the kitchen table, including my now late husband, and I told them, “I have news. You all know I had an appointment with my doctor today, and he gave me terrible news. I have a disease that will kill me, but slowly.” We all broke down and sobbed. I asked my children and my husband to hug me every day and I made sure I told all of them that I loved them every single day; I still do. Now I include my two daughters-in-law and my sweet grandson.

After the crying was over, we hugged, and I asked them if they had any questions. They all said no. I, then, let them go back to their games. I, to this day, am sure I did the right thing in telling my children, but I still wish away that horrible day.

Why I Believe God Chose Me To Tackle ALS

Yes, you heard correctly. I am pleased as pie for God letting me live with ALS. That doesn’t mean I’m overjoyed with my lot in life. But I know why I suffer. It’s because God entrusted me to bear this burden.

My “job” here on Earth is to be a wife and mother to three fabulous people, my children. It also means that my job is not done. Now that my children are grown, I still need to be there for them and pray them; along with dealing with this disease.

What I’m speaking of in title is that our Lord trusted me to bear this burden with the utmost Christian attitude and behavior. I need to pray for their wellness, in this life and the hereafter, before they leave Earth. I have plenty of time for intercession (prayer). So, our God has left me to my own devices; fully expecting me to act as He would.

That Difficult Thing You Are Facing? You’ve Progressed To The Next Level of Spiritual Difficulty

Destined 4 the Dub

How many of us long for a perfect life – one with no problems or issues, with everything going our way? A life with no sickness or disease; one in which we have our dream job, with all of our bills paid and plenty of money left over. Maybe your dream is having the idea spouse, and straight-A students with perfect manners and behavior; or an athletically gifted child, or one that has a beautiful voice, or shines on the stage of their drama club?

We each have our definition of an ideal life. But if we had the life we dream about with no problems, where is the need for God in that? I know when I’m facing a really tough situation, I find myself praying longer and harder than I would on a regular day.

When things are going well, I tend to just go on about my…

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