Thursday, February 20, 2014


Two weeks ago our son was admitted for Psychiatric care.  He spent 11 days in the hospital. It was the most terrifying and difficult thing I have ever done as a parent.  Knowing it was the right thing did not make it easy.

During the last few weeks we've had to accept that our eight year old son has mental illness. And while it stings and numbs and breaks our hearts there is a weird sense of relief in knowing it's more than just a naughty little kid who's being rebellious.  My son is ill and he can't control some of it.  And at the same time, he can't be allowed to rage, threaten harm to himself and defy authority.  We can't fix him but we're supposed to fix it.  Words like despair, frustration and hopelessness flood our minds while we try to learn how to parent this child who, per the professionals tell us his diagnosis will be a life-long up-hill struggle for him.

He can't control it but he has to learn to control it. Confusing.  Yep. 

And if his Daddy and I am confused---what must our son be feeling and experiencing? 

A few days before Elijah was released, I picked up this new CD.  I had no idea what it was when I bought it but now I know God directed me to it.  


The songs have been speaking encouragement to my heart for days.  Especially the lyrics for Take Another Step.  You can listen to it here

Finally, with a new diagnosis, strategies and medications he was discharged Monday. And we were ready and happy.  It felt a little like giving birth- I couldn't wait to get to the hospital and bring home a son at the same time my mind was racing with wondering how difficult and hard it might be.  

We had a few great hours- celebrating as he requested- having ice cream with friends. Isaiah was so happy- yelling "Heeeeyyyyy, Elijah's back" their hugs and smiles were something to see.  

And then, what felt like an instant we were back where we started.  Only maybe a little worse.  And our naivety of thinking something miraculous might have happened in those 11 days gives evidence to the vast knowledge we've yet to learn about loving and living with a child with mental illness. 

And I watch him struggle to belong.  Try to control his frustrations and fight his denial that he is loved and witness the sadness in his inability to feel it.  

Today, in disbelief and exhaustion I relived the longest day of my life as my angry, fragile and broken son was admitted again for inpatient psychiatric care  - and I'm paralyzed by what I can't understand and we're afraid to move because what if we move the wrong direction.  And we don't know what to do.  

except take another step.  and another step.  and another step. 

Because this place where we are, my sad little boy and the family that loves him, feel like the lights have gone out we have nothing to hold onto. 

except- the promises God has made to him and me..and you. 

Isaiah 30:21- Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it

---that's the voice I want my son to hear.  that's the voice I desperately need to hear. 
and I believe and I doubt and my heart is chipping off piece by piece inside my chest for my son who I would lay down my life for and I need him to feel it and know it 
but no matter how much I pray and hurt for him I am learning with each breath that I am not in control of this.  I didn't make it and I can't fix it.  

And there are two other sons I would lay down my life for that need me too.  And trying to figure it all out is bigger than me.

So grabbing hold of the promises is all I have.  And trusting Him no matter what.
And fearing that I might not.  But I have to.  What if I can't.  But I must. 

And in my back and forth I have to believe that God will finish what he has started. 

Psalm 55:10-11 - For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Thanks for partnering with us in prayer for this child who God loves more than I can. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

38 + 25 = Not Enough.

It's a terrible feeling knowing your child is in a place you can't get to without being wanded and escorted and when you do, trying to cram a days worth of life into 60 minutes.

Walking into the visitation room the first time last Thursday was unnerving.  Tables and chairs set up like a classroom. They call your child down over the intercom like ordering a happy meal at McDonald's.  And the child can choose to visit or not.  And leave when they're done, even if you aren't ready for them to be done.

Our first few visits with him were quick because he was done and just walked out of the room, leaving us sitting there unsure what to do next.  He finally had some control over us.  Following his cue, we left. Without much affection given or received.  And it wasn't so terrible because I was numb.  And my wall of bricks, that I've been building for years now to shield me from his venom and refusal to love and give love was still standing strong.

Sunday, it started to crumble. My wall that is. The energy it takes to hold it up is too great.  I believe there was some screaming and talking with my hands and sobbing into my husband's shoulder.  My husband sobbed too.

This, is a pain that no parent should feel- but the visitation room tells me than there oh so many besides us that walk in and out of that cold room with their hearts breaking apart and their walls intact.

And the kids- the cutters, bullied and abusers and the haters with their desperate faces hiding the hopelessness are a reality call of what mental illness looks like in pediatrics.  And people, it is hard to look at.

Sunday afternoon, Rex was sick and feverish so I visited him alone. I was nervous- because if Rex is his target, I am his bulls-eye.  I didn't know how quick he'd be done or if he'd want to see me at all.  I wasn't sure I could handle his rejection, again, without Rex there to support me.

Sunday is a big visit day so they set up overflow chairs for us in the hallway which was a nice change from that room that I have grown to hate already.

He greeted me with a big hug.
With both arms.
We sat next to each other for a minute and he hugged me again.
And didn't let go as he climbed on my lap.
I hugged him back.
And for the next 38 minutes, we said little- but so much.
I rocked him as he held me with both arms.
He rubbed my back like he did when he was three.
And I cried and smelled his head and looked at his hands that are almost as big as mine.  And those blue hospital socks.  And his ashy skin and I took him in like I hadn't seen him in forever.  And I realized I hadn't. My wall had been blocking my view.

He asked me if I had been drinking Diet Coke? "You know I have" I replied.  He told me my breath smelled good.
When I told him I'd stay for the last 20 minutes, or go so he could call and talk to his Daddy, the tears fell from his cheeks soaking into my jeans.  He whispered I love you, and I believed him. And I thanked God right then for this 38 minute gift that will keep me putting one foot in front of the other for a long time.

Yesterday, I got another 25 minutes of rocking my son while he begged to come home. I promised him he will come home, just not yet.  I asked him if he'll let me rock him when he gets home.  He said yes.  I'm told he's telling me that because he's figuring out he needs me.  Part of RADs is not needing anybody but having believing he has to be the adult- his life depends on it.  I want him to need me and his Daddy.  To need his teachers- and to allow us to be who we are in his life.  So I'll keep rocking him as long as he will keep letting me.

After meeting with his treatment team Monday, we thought he was coming home yesterday.  I was excited and scared.  I am not scared of him, but am scared for him.  And I'm scared that my wall will go up with each set-back and we know there will be set-backs.  I'm scared I can't love him unconditionally and be all that he needs from me when I'm exhausted and frustrated and my patience ran out long before his energy.

But while the doctors and nurses are regulating meds and redirecting behaviors and helping him identify triggers, God is doing demo on walls that need to come down.  And I'm good with that.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.  But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble.
Psalm 27: 24, 39

Happy Wednesday y'all!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Giant Who Wore No Shoes.

We recently watched the 60 Minutes interview with Senator Creigh Deeds. My heart ached as I watched him describe the frustration with the mental health care crisis for youth in America- in Virginia.  I identified with him on some level because our own son, at age six began describing his plan for killing himself. After evaluation, it was clear he needed professional help and we learned personally about the crisis.  Initially being told it would be at least six months for our son to get an appointment with a local psychiatrist and then being referred to UVA Pediatric Psychiatry because we didn't have six months, only to wait nearly two years before UVA responded to the book of faxed information and our request for urgent services that I had sent the same day I contacted them regarding my suicidal Kindergartner.  I identified because in September, for the third time we had contacted CONNECT about our out of control child, we were told that there were no beds in Roanoke for pediatric psych care available.

We kept plugging along one day at a time. We kept advocating for him at school and daycare.  We kept telling ourselves it really isn't that bad.  We told ourselves that he didn't really mean it when he screams out hatred to us.  That he didn't really mean it when he tells us a plan for killing himself.  We told ourselves that we could handle this.

So the calls from school this week felt normal.  The rage Wednesday night felt normal.  His out of control felt normal.

But it wasn't- and we realized this is bigger than us.  It's bigger than him.

This little boy, who has struggled since we met him, becomes a giant when enraged. This giant takes up all the space in the room.  He hogs the air and uses up all the energy of our entire family.  The giant is growing bigger and stronger and scarier.

So we, his parents who chose to love and adore him, did the hardest thing of our lives.  After spending more than 15 hours in the Emergency Department waiting for one of the precious and few beds for pediatric psych care in Roanoke, we admitted our little giant for inpatient care.

And the sun came up and our world felt dark and cold and sad.

Words describing things that we were told during admission is rarely ever needed like restraints and lithium are his new reality. The most precious hour of our day is now visitation, 5:30 - 6:30 Monday - Friday and 3:00 - 4:00 on Saturday and Sunday. And that hour and the other 23 we are numb.  And sad.  And exhausted.  And trying to make sense of what doesn't and explain that to his little brother who fears he will never come home.

And desperately praying that this giant, who must now earn his shoes shrinks back to an eight year old little boy who can trust the people who love him, actually feel that love and move past the demons of his past who whisper hopelessness and lies into his ear.

And in our hope, we know there are no guarantees.  Because sometimes when our kids hate and threat it's more than angry words they don't really mean... just ask Senator Deeds.

Asking for your prayers on this not so happy Saturday y'all!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Key Fob Fiasco.

We got a new car in December- we were ecstatic.

We hadn't planned on getting another one any time soon- but after the second family car bit the dust Sunday our plans changed.  Especially, since said dust-biting car is Shayne's and he lives in NC.  And is a full-time student.  And I want to see him on weekends as often as possible.  And he needs a car to go to work.  And drive home to see his Momma.  So, his dead, needs more dollars invested than it's worth car had to replaced.  The plan - Momma gets a new-er car and we'd share the Taurus with Shayne. This made him very happy (wink, wink) but always grateful he played along.

Now, we didn't have thousands saved up to pay cash for any car so we sought out our favorite dealership looking for a deal.

Dave Ramsey would probably flunk us out of Financial Peace but it is what it is. And what it is at the end of the day- was trading in the Taurus and leaving with two new cars with better rates and payments.  Sweeet! and a little crazy, but mostly Sweeet!

The thing about three much newer vehicles is the key fobs.  Similar yet different each slightly different features.

Having three different vehicles all of a sudden can be a little confusing- I've been reading owner's manuals at the stop-lights so I was pretty excited today when I realized my new to me Equinox has auto-start.  Our van had it and in these single digit temps, I've been missing that feature.  I was ready to try it out this afternoon and got my first opportunity after running into JCPenney's before meeting Rex for dinner.  I came out with my new car parked right near the entrance- and started testing out the auto-start.  I kept hitting the buttons but the lights weren't coming on and it wasn't starting.  Maybe I was using the wrong key fob.  So I tried them all.  Nothing.  But I kept trying and was getting mad figuring the dealership gave us a key fob with a low battery.  I continued walking toward my new car that in the dark seemed to be glistening like a diamond underneath the street light.  Why won't these buttons work? I tried one more time as I reached the car, still nothing.

I opened the door- and about the time I noticed an odd odor and a lot of newspapers I was greeted with a "hello" from a rather large man sitting in my drivers seat.
I screamed.
He jumped.
And I realized it wasn't my drivers seat.  It was his.

I tried to explain that I just got a new car last night and it looks just like his- while trying not to show how utterly embarrassed I was - everything in my skin was still shaking from the shock of this man in what I thought was my car.

The phrase "you scared the pee out of me" apparently is true.

He was sweet as he could be when he smiled and said- "It's okay- it's okay- but I think your car is two down, I've been watching your lights flash on and off for several minutes now."

I apologized one more time, thanked him for his kindness and removed myself from the driver side door of his car so he could go back to Tuesday Night Live.

And just as he thought, my car was two down and how happy I was to find the engine running.

I do love me some auto-start.

Happy Tuesday y'all!
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