Different

It’s no secret that Lucas has had his challenges from a very young age. He didn’t hit all the monthly milestones. He couldn’t walk or talk until he was two. He visited almost every specialist NC has to offer before the age of three. There isn’t a time when Lucas hasn’t been “different”.

On our way to school this morning, the reality of his differences punched me right in the gut. He has a special friend who “gets” him that hasn’t been at school the past few days. I asked him if he has other friends to play with and his response was what I feared. “My friends tell me l can’t play with them because I’m different”.

I held back the tears to remind my precious son that being different is a good thing. I reminded him how amazing and beautiful and loving he is. And most importantly, l reminded him to be kind to others, even if kindness isn’t being shown to him.

There’s a lot of things that make Lucas different. There’s a lot of things he may never see or do. But the thing l love most about his differences, is his ability to overcome those differences and light up every room he enters in the process.

Keep being YOU, my baby boy. You’re the most imperfectly perfect human l know!

Author: Brittany: Lucas’s mom and my granddaughter

Pictures of our sweet boy, and a few of our family members. Life just wouldn’t be the same without Lucas!
Click on any image to enlarge and begin the slideshow

Walk With Confidence

PROVERBS 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Facebook post by Nicci Staton, my granddaughter-in-law

This morning at school drop off I gave Gideon his daily affirmation:

“Gideon, you are a man of God, you are strong, you are brave, you are mighty. You are loving and kind, generous, and a truth seeker. You are a mighty man of valor. You are holy, and you are a giver of God’s love.”

Gideon: “yup! I concur with that.”

If only we could all walk in the confidence of an eight-year-old!

@niccistaton  · Blogger

It’s a Baby’s Life

You have made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

Because of many complications and surgeries after my tiny, premature baby boy was born, I could never get pregnant again. But, that’s okay. My son provided me with four grandkids, and two of those four have provided me with eight great-grandkids. AWESOME!

Leighton James is great grandbaby #8

My Two Dogs

The Big and the Little

A few weeks after our beloved Rascal passed, Buck and I visited our local animal shelter. I really didn’t want another dog, but Buck did. And I was willing to do just about anything to ease the pain of losing our beautiful Australian Shepard. Buck and Rascal were inseparable, and he couldn’t get over losing him. So, since it was his birthday . . . Well, there you go.

There were so many dogs to choose from, but none of them appealed to either of us except the little brown dog in a big gloomy cage, laying on a skimpy, raggedy blanket. But I couldn’t wrap my heart around the idea of adopting a hound mix. It’s true, I didn’t want another long-haired dog, but a hound? However, when I discovered she was a greyhound mix, I liked the idea a little better. So, I stood glued to her cage while Buck went to the front desk and filled out the adoption papers.

Her name was Claire, but we changed it to Bella Rae; it suits her quirky personality better. And quirky is an understatement.

Bella does everything on her terms and is extremely persistent at getting what she wants. She’ll shake her head and snort, and bark and howl and will not stop until she gets what she wants, or we tell her to go lay down.

And there is nothing graceful or lady-like about Bella. Nope! She’s a brute. She stomps on our feet. She jumps all over our guests. She knocks down children and nearly licks the skin off their faces. When I put her in her crate, they let her back out again. Drives me nuts! And when she wants to lay down, she pitches a hissy fit until she’s covered from head to tail.

Bella and I butt heads. She thinks she’s the queen of the castle, but that day will never come. And since I’m the one sitting on the throne, she loves Buck the best and even sleeps with him, hogging more than half the bed.

Bella has a built-in alarm system, prompting her to awaken Buck when he stops breathing or has one of his recurring nightmares due to sleep apnea and PTSD. Although she is not service dog trained, she senses when something is out of wack and tries to fix it.

One day, during a family gathering at our house, Bella barked and kept pushing our granddaughter away from the baby carrier. At first, we were all alarmed because we’d never seen this side of Bella before. Then, we realized she was protecting our great-grand baby from her own mother!

When we first brought Bella home from the shelter, she was so skinny that she actually looked like a greyhound. Now that she’s lost her girlish figure, we can’t figure out what mix-breed she is. One thing for sure, she is definitely a hound mix, just like the label on her cage read at the animal shelter.

Then there’s Pepper. What a sight she was when we first saw her. She was abandoned with fifteen other dogs and starving to death. Nearly every bone was protruding beneath her delicate skin. My heart screamed, take her home! But I didn’t want two dogs. Never had two dogs at one time, and didn’t want two dogs at one time. Bella was more than enough dog for me.

So, we drove home without her. She had her mom and her two brothers, a few cats, and a bunch of other dogs to hang with. She’ll be fine, I reassured my heart. Besides, the neighbors are kinda, sorta looking after them.

The next day, I called animal control to find out that they were already working on it. I told the man I was talking to about the little black female and how I didn’t think she would survive the week. He assured me that she was fine and if I wanted her, to go get her.

She was so happy to see me again that I wished I had rescued her the day before. I could have saved her from one more night of misery. Buck was all for it, so I have no one to blame but myself. But, we’re here now, and she’ll never go hungry again or spend another night out in the freezing cold.

It was love at first sight when the two dogs met; just like I thought it would be. Bella acted as if Pepper was a live toy for her to play with, pawing and chasing her around the house. But, Pepper had the upper hand, or should I say upper paw, on Bella because she was tiny and used to having to defend herself against bigger dogs. So, when she had enough of Bella’s rough-necking, she’d run under the sofa in the living room, stick out her leg, and swat at Bella when she ran by.

Weighing in at only eight pounds, and other than a slight case of mange on both ears, the vet gave her a clean bill of health. However, she continued eating bugs in the yard for months after we captured her. It’s a shame what careless, irresponsible people put their animals through.

Pepper is the sweetest dog ever. Her long, slender body and floppy ears suggested to the vet that she is a Dachshund Labrador mix. Where Bella is highly excitable, Pepper is calm and patient. However, she is full of energy and jumps sky-high when she gets excited, and still, after three years, she’s a chewer. The other day, I was looking for my other shoe and there it was in the middle of Buck’s bed, soaking wet. I found it before she chewed it to death.

Thank goodness, Pepper doesn’t jump on the kitchen counters and table anymore. But, she and Bella will drag a loaf of bread off the counter and devour it in a matter of minutes before I go in the kitchen and discover the empty, shredded bag on the floor.

Bella and Pepper are our fur babies. They fill each day with love and slobbery kisses. They make us laugh. They make us happy. They fill the void and sadness we felt when we lost Rascal. I’m thankful for our two dogs.

Bella and Pepper; especially Bella, doesn’t like having their picture taken. Bella has such a beautiful face with big, soulful eyes that are difficult to capture. But, here’s a few that we had to sneak and snap quickly.

Broken Spirit

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

I overheard mom telling my dad that the doctor they were taking me to said my spirit is broken. I was seven. He also said I had too much religion. The doctor was a shrink.

A shrink! My parents actually believed that their seven-year-old needed to see a shrink!

Why?

It’s true, I was overly sensitive and emotional with a so-called learning disability and social disorder. And yes, I pitched a conniption fit every time mom washed my hair and combed out the tangles every morning. And compared to my calmer, less spirited siblings, I was like a wild Mustang.

But a broken spirit? What did that even mean?

As a kid, it meant nothing to me. I was just a kid doing what kids do: being a kid.

However, when I got older and more aware of the dysfunctional world in which I lived, I realized that yes, I was broken.

A broken spirit is fearful and discouraged and depressed and blames all the world’s ales on themselves. A broken spirit second-guesses every choice they make and feels guilty for being true to themselves. A broken spirit is a dead soul walking down a treacherous, dark and, lonely path.

A broken spirit sends you crying to the altar Sunday after Sunday, praying for forgiveness from the wretchedness you feel inside. I was seventeen that Sunday morning when my mother stood up apologizing for me, saying she didn’t know what was wrong with me, and reassuring the congregation that I was a good girl.

That Sunday, the altar of prayer and hope, and forgiveness became a place of judgment, shame, and condemnation. Where were the loving arms, the tender voice, the words of understanding and encouragement? Where was God?

Although I never went back to the altar, I never stopped searching for the truth about who I am and why I feel the way I do.

And in my endless search, I discovered that I am a free spirit, that I see things in black and white, and that living the truth is better than living a lie. And when I pulled against the reigns, the people in my world didn’t like it, especially my mother. And more than anything, I wanted to please my mother.

To make a very long and painful story short, my mother manipulated and controlled my entire life; even after I got married. She played me like a game of cards and cheated to win at any cost. And it cost me, my soul. My friends saw it long before I did and even warned me of the damage my mother was causing. But, she was my mother and would never do anything to hurt me.

But she did. Again and again, using every dirty, emotional trick up her sleeve to keep me feeling guilty and confused and angry until that anger became an uncontrollable rage. Finally, when I saw the destruction it was causing my marriage and my child, I said enough! I walked away and slammed the door shut on my mother for six long years. I went into counseling for two years, read Christian Living books, and began healing and living my life for myself.

Only when I felt emotionally strong enough did I pursue a relationship with my mother, who never understood me, never saw what she did to me, only what I did to her, and continued trying to manipulate and control me. But, I was stronger and wiser, and more determined than ever to take back my life.

No one has the right to live and control someone else’s life. Isn’t it hard enough to live and control their own? It angers me when I see moms and dad’s pushing their dreams and aspirations on their kids. Let them live their own lives, dream their own dreams. You raised them right, now give them the right to make the right choices and be there for them if they screw up. No, you won’t always like the choices they make, but you can always be there no matter what. The biggest part of loving your kids is letting them go. Let them spread their wings and fly, and keep loving them from the sidelines. If you don’t, you won’t be in their lives the way you want to be. You may not be in their lives at all.

I have one child, a son, and a pastor of twenty years. His dad and I have seen his highs and his lows. We’ve listened to his heart cries. We’ve watched him make choices that didn’t make sense to us. When he decided to travel halfway around the globe to fulfill his passion, his dangerous mission to save the world, we never stood in his way. His wife and kids never stood in his way. We watch him from the sidelines hoping and praying he comes back home safely. We love him. We trust him. We encourage him. We never try to live his life for him. He is a free spirit. His wings are big and strong, and he will continue to fly as high as he can until he can’t fly anymore.

And my heart couldn’t be more proud and happier for the man he has become.

Our kid’s hearts are in our hands. Love them. Teach them. Encourage them. Never, ever crush them, for if you do, they will flounder through life with broken wings that may never learn to fly.

I Was That Mom

My granddaughter wrote the following article and has given me permission to post it on WordPress. Leighton James makes great-grand-baby number eight. We thank God for our healthy, growing family.

Sweet Baby Leighton James, Born October 8, 2021

When Lucas was born, we had no idea what the first several years of our lives would look like. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment, we were left wondering why. Why did our son have all these medical issues? Why can’t l have a seamless breastfeeding journey like all the other new moms? Why does every appointment have to bring new heartache?

It’s hard not to carry those same fears and burdens into this new journey with Leighton. It’s hard to not be on the edge of our seats, waiting for some diagnosis that we aren’t prepared for. It’s hard not to compare our story to someone else’s.

But today . . .

Today was a breath of fresh air. Today was a sigh of relief to know our boy is healthy and perfect. Today is a reminder that God is faithful.

I will always be grateful for Lucas’ journey, that continues to teach us and shape us in more ways than one. But today . . . Today l am thankful for the reminder of God’s love and especially for our healthy baby boy.

Be Still and Know

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

I’ve been a child of God all my life. He’s never let me down. He’s never been mean and cruel to me even when I deserved it. He is my hero, my Light in the dark, my everything. I talk to Him. He talks to me. I ask questions. He gives me answers. I can always depend on Him to be there for me when everyone else runs away.

But, over the past several months, my faith has been shaken to the core. The nation that I once knew is falling apart. The world is suffering. Women and children are being raped and murdered. We the people have been exchanged for lust, power and greed. We the people no longer feel safe in the arms of our government.

And like many others, I’ve cried out to God, “Why don’t you stop this horror? Why do you allow innocent children to suffer? Why? Why? Why?”

Complete silence! Not one logical answer. No answer at all.

Now, I don’t even know how to pray . . .

Stubbornly I continued reading my Bible and trying to find answers. I know what Revelation says about the end of the world. And today, it’s never felt closer. I know that terrible things are going to happen before the last trumpet sounds. And I know that what God sets into motion cannot be stopped.

But my heart was terrified! And my brain was on overload with all the why’s and why not’s. But God’s silence was more than I could bear. And worst of all, I began seeing him as an angry tyrant rather than a loving, gracious God.

Faith and hope were uprooted and the seeds of doubt were planted and growing like weeds. How can I continue to trust a God that allows sin and corruption to take over? I needed answers. I needed to know what the heck God is doing.

Finally, God tells my troubled, pondering heart to calm down and that I don’t need to know the answers; I just need to trust that He is in complete control of the world and everything in it. He reminded me that He didn’t put me on this earth to fix it; that’s His job. All I have to do is concentrate on fixing myself, repenting of my own sins, and being the best warrior for God I can be.

Our fight as Christians is with Satan and his demons, the rulers of this dark world. They feast on our fear and doubt and confusion. They twist and distort our vision of God and anything else that will drag us from our faith. Satan is sneaky. He is vile. He is a liar. He is a thief. He is the king of evil. The apostle Paul paints a vivid picture of Satan’s nasty deeds in Ephesians 6: 8-10 and the weapons we need to fight against him.

God makes it crystal clear in His Word that we must be obedient to Him. We must not lose heart. We must trust Him even when the things He does or doesn’t do make sense. My job is not to figure God out. My job is to trust and keep moving forward. In the midst of the storm and the raging waves around me, I must step out of the boat and walk on the water of faith.

I’ll be seventy-five tomorrow, August 26. I am retired. My nest is empty. My grandkids are grown, two of which are married with kids of their own. Sometimes I feel that I have nothing more to contribute to the family. But I can pray. Our young mom’s and dad’s today are faced with challenges like never before. I pray that God gives them wisdom and strength as they stand firm in their Christian faith. To guard their hearts against lust and greed and all the temptations of sin.

As each generation moves farther and farther from God, the harder it is for them to see Him let alone trust Him. Sin has been so watered down that it doesn’t even seem wrong anymore. Christians are accused of looking for and seeing demons in every nook and cranny. That we’re a bunch of religious fanatics and need to lighten up. Nothing is all that bad.

But it is. It’s that bad and worse. As for me, I choose God and everything good He has in store for my life. I pray that whatever I am faced with He’ll give me strength to endure to the end no matter what.

What God taught me over the past few weeks is to keep my eyes on Him. To walk closely by His side. To trust Him even when He doesn’t make sense to me. To step out of the boat and walk on the water of faith.

Time Out!

Psalms 127:3
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.

With my granddaughter-in-law’s permission, I am posting what she shared on Facebook:

My best piece of advice to stay-at-home moms who are stressed out because you feel like you can’t get anything done . . . Put the phone down!

You will be amazed by how much you can get done when you’re not picking up your phone every five minutes to scroll. You’ll also be amazed by how much better you feel when you’re not being interrupted from scrolling by your kids who want something.

As a mom who has literally built her career on social media, this has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. But my anxiety is so much less when I have less things distracting me.

Find a safe spot where your phone is not always right next to you. For me I like to keep it in the kitchen so I can still hear it ring but it’s not at my fingertips to be scrolled on.

With that said, back to the kitchen it goes till nap time.

Nicci Staton- The Makeup Mommy

Living With BPD

So, I’m sitting quietly in a swivel chair in the lobby at the VA, feeling anxious as usual but nothing to cause the sleeping lion inside me alarm. Hubby was already in his room waiting for the colonoscopy. Neither of us wanted to be there, but since cancer invaded his colon several years ago and he only has a foot of it left, he must keep close tabs on it. Doctor’s orders. And mine.

The mall-like lobby was like a ghost town of vacant chairs except for one all the way across the room. There was no one breathing on me and I wasn’t breathing on anyone else, so I removed my mask and sat minding my own business checking my emails and texting my son.

About twenty minutes into my solitude, a young woman from out of nowhere leaned over one of the marked off couches fifty yards away, her face covered with a stark white mask, and scolds, “Ma’am. You’re required to wear a mask.”

Maybe it was due to the stress of our refrigerator conking out and having to buy a new one. Or that we had to toss a week’s worth of groceries, or had to use a cooler and be without a fridge for a week. Maybe it was due to Bella, our four-legged greyhound-mix, waking me up every thirty minutes barking. Whatever the reasons were, the sleeping lion woke up.

Lions don’t take kindly to being harassed; especially old, irritable ones with anxiety disorders. My hackles raised to the ceiling. I said it didn’t make sense why I had to wear a mask when there was no one around and I’m just sitting here waiting for my husband to come out of his procedure.

Suddenly, her sweetness melted away like cotton candy on a child’s slobbering tongue and scorned, “Either you wear the mask or you will be escorted from the building!”

All right all right, I snorted to myself. I’ll put on the stupid mask! But when she strutted out of sight down the long corridor, her heels kicking up enough dust to choke an elephant, the mask magically came to life and jumped back on my lap.

A whole ten minutes later, she came back more huffy than when she strutted off and even had the audacity to threaten me with calling security.

That did it! The lion jumps on all fours ready to pounce! Who does she think she is telling a woman three times her age what to do? Determined to win the battle of the wills, the lion, roared, “Go ahead! call the whole army! I don’t care!”

I nearly felt sorry for her, struggling to keep her balance in her patent leather stilettos as she stormed off. Great! Now a platoon of security guards is coming to put me in a straight jacket and haul my sassy butt to jail.

I grabbed my pocketbook and hustled to the lady’s room; a room colder than Alaska with one toilet, a sink, and a lock on the door. Good! She can’t come in here and drag me out by the hair and in front of a firing squad.

Well, you did it again, I scolded myself. Just when you think you’re getting better, you’re not. Now, look at the mess you got me in! Do you know how foolish you look? When will you ever learn to keep your mouth shut and just do as you’re told?

On and on the battle between me, myself, and I went. Finally, I told us all to shut up! People are going to think I died in here!

Taking a deep breath, I unlocked the door, praying no one was standing there waiting with handcuffs. Good! The coast is clear, I can breathe now. Now, put on the mask, find a place to sit, and behave yourself! I want to get through this day in one piece!

So I tip-toed to a quiet place and sat by myself and waited, hoping no one will recognize this crazy person behind the mask; we all look crazy behind the mask.

About fifteen minutes later, a stocky, ruddy-faced security guard invaded my quiet space and planted himself six feet in front of me. At least he was practicing social distancing, or I might have been tempted to report him.

Like a stone-faced guerrilla, he stared down at me, his navy blues and stripes and badges and patriotic mask as intimating as a gun to my head.

Still trembling and my heart pounding like a sledgehammer, I glared up at him, ready and willing to defend my rights, which I did . . . Without getting thrown in jail.

Hubby came through his colonoscopy. The inner lion went back to sleep and the three of us made it out of there alive!

Stand by Your Man

Ephesians 5:22
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

The first time I heard Tammy Wynette sing, “Stand by Your Man,” I wanted to smash the radio.

My marriage had just ended. He was mean and abusive. I was a strong-willed wildcat. He stayed out all night drinking with his buddies. I paced the floors while our three-month-old slept. He told me I was no good. I believed him and cried. A lot. He threatened to leave again and again. I didn’t care anymore. While he was at work, I packed his bags, set them outside the door, and changed the locks. When he came home, his key didn’t work, so he busted through the door. The wildcat in me hissed and growled for him to leave. He kissed his son and left. End of story.

So, the lyrics of Tammy’s number one country hit raised my hackles sky-high. What woman in her right mind is going to stand by her man when he treats her worse than the neighbor’s dog? What woman is going to spit-shine her man’s shoes, wash and iron his lipstick-stained shirts, singing “Oh Happy Day” after he stayed out all night just being a man? And what woman is going to forgive and forget over and over and over again till death do us part?

Not this woman!

If my man wants me to love and trust and respect him plus fulfill his every desire, then he better give me plenty of good reasons. Love and commitment is a two-way street. At least that’s what I thought I heard when we exchanged our wedding vows.

I tell people that it took a real man to love me. And that man is the man I’ve been married to for the past forty-nine years. With his stubborn love, he tore down the barbed wire fence tangled around my bleeding, unbelieving heart. With his patience, he broke through the fortress of fear and distrust. With his integrity, he pried my eyes open and helped me to see that his love for me is as real as the sky above. He adopted my son and raised him as his own. He taught him how to become a real man. And finally, because of his unconditional love for me, I surrender my heart and soul to him. Even through the ups and downs, he keeps loving me with a Christ-like love. He doesn’t always like the strong-willed wildcat in me, but he’s the only man on God’s green earth who could ever make it purr.

He’s a real man.

A real man protects his woman, fights for his woman, loves and encourages and respects his woman. A real man never ever beats his woman into submission or forces his will on her because he’s bigger and stronger. Only weak, insecure little boys in a man’s body does that to a woman.

It angers me when I hear of preachers expecting women to stay with their man no matter what. That she should be the stronger Christian because after all, her man is just a man. Baloney! Preachers that preach that lie need to go back and read the rest of the scripture where the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

It also angers me when a woman allows a man to beat her. And The more she allows it the harder it becomes to take back the power she fearfully gave away. And the beatings go on and on and on till someone ends up dead.

Yes, I’m a fighter for people’s rights, and especially for women’s rights. We’ve been through hell and high water to be recognized as human beings with brains as well as arms and legs and other stuff to allow any man to kick us around. So yes, I take offense when my kindred sisters are being abused and if I’m anywhere near, I will unleash the wildcat in me and it won’t be pretty!

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