A Birthday Tribute to My Mama

I had planned on writing a Mother’s Day post prior to my one month sabbatical this past spring and am now getting to it as we near my mama’s birthday here in November. Better late than never!

My mama is my very best friend and closest sister in Christ. Every Sunday morning she phones at precisely 10:30 a.m. for our weekly visit and chat. I can’t begin to relate how much her love means to me, but I humbly will attempt to as I blunder my way through this seemingly inadequate post.

“Mama”, as I call her, was the oldest of four girls with a single mom who reared them up in the age when being a single mom was shunned and frowned upon.

When my mama was a little over one year old she suffered a high fever that left her with a rare case of cerebral palsy. So, my grandmother had four small girls to bring up by herself with a handicap to try to figure out and understand which road of proper care was best.

Doctors assured my grandmother they knew what was best and convinced her to put my mama in an institution. (In those days, group homes and in-home care didn’t exist.)

While at the institution my mama was put into a padded room with no books or toys and left alone in seclusion. When grandma discovered this tragedy she wanted to pull Mama out of that dreadful facility but it wasn’t so easy to be done. Amazingly she ended up kidnapping my mama out of that horrible place and never looked back!! How she did this, I don’t know, but I do know she had help orchestrating and carrying out this desperate plan of getting back her precious little girl.

My mama (left) and her sister in the mid-1950s.

My mama was a few years old by now and had to relearn talking since the months of seclusion ripped away her ability to verbally communicate. She did very well and went on to becoming a well educated student and staple in her family of five. Her mom and sisters loved their “Mel” and she enjoyed a happy adolescence and many fun memories growing up.

Fast forward to her college years where at San Francisco State University she met my dad, the handsome, funny, Hispanic guy who won her heart and led her to Christ. In the late 60s they married and in the 70s had my brother, a rainbow baby, which is a baby after a miscarriage. Four years after suffering another miscarriage, they had me, another rainbow baby.

Mama at the Philadelphia zoo, feeding the animals.

Mama told me I was always a fighter since 4 months into her pregnancy with me she started bleeding. Her doctor told her, “If you want to keep this pregnancy then you need to rest!” So rest she did! “You hung in there” she later told me…..lol, I still am!

Mama would stay on the sofa all day and then fix dinner for my dad when he got home. How she managed with a four year old boy is beyond me but I see God’s hand in every part of her life as I still do now.

Mama is a trooper and a fighter and one tough cookie!! She is such a powerful example of what it means to persevere in trials. She never complains and is always more interested in others’ lives than she is in going on about herself. She lives in a lot of pain due to over 70 years of cerebral palsy and presently is battling adrenal fatigue otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Yet, she continues to minister to me and other ladies while enduring these crosses and faithfully speaks the truth in love from God’s word.

Nine years ago. My parents with me holding my youngest.

For years my mama led the women’s bible study at her church and was a prayer partner to the pastor’s wife. She knows how to pray and I believe it’s her prayers that have kept me alive to this day. Her example of godliness has had a powerful impact on everyone she meets and she is loved by many.

I’m so thankful and blessed to have you in my life dear Mama and I love you beyond what these feeble words can express. Happy birthday to you and thank you for your love and for being the amazing woman and mother that you are!

Much love,

Your VivieπŸ˜šπŸ€—πŸπŸ‚

The gang taken in 2018. Mama is in front with her two sisters behind her, then me and my four kids.

Songs of Hope 2.0

Dear blogging family,

I’m in the process of revising my page Songs of Hope and am looking for some input from you. Whether it’s psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs, I’m looking to compile a list of powerful music to help comfort and give hope to others who are suffering.

Many of you have shared beautiful and uplifting songs with me in the past and I’d like to ask for personal favorites and “go-to” songs that I can include here along with my favorites.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Much love,Viv 🎢🎹🎀

We Will Praise Him!

My heart has felt heavy lately. I’ve felt like my dog Molly’s stuffed moose “Gregory” with all the stuffing ripped out of him, one eye missing, and half of one antler gone, leaving nothing but a rag. Head injury and job loss just seem like too much.

But, after reading a chapter in Martha Peace’s book Damsels In Distress I was hit by so much conviction. Do I praise Him in the good times AND in the bad? Or just praise Him when all is well like my wayward heart was doing the last few days. She went on to mention how praising God in our trials because He is working them out for our good is something we can do as believers to glorify His name. If we go around all down in the mouth and slump shouldered that brings shame to our testimony as believers in Jesus. He deserves our praise in every storm we face no matter how hard or how scary or real they are. When we praise God, the world looks at us in wonder, and marvels at our faith in our Savior as we journey these valleys keeping our eyes on Him. They observe us steadfastly holding onto and clinging to Him while we sit at the foot of the cross in full surrender to His will. This brings glory, honor and praise to His awesome and majestic name.

Exodus 15:2 King James Version (KJV)

2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Jesus is with us in every storm. Every test or trial is from His loving hand and He carries us through them to refine us bringing forth gold. He could give us nothing but sunshine and lollipops but then we wouldn’t need Him and we wouldn’t mature. These trials give us the opportunity to showcase His grace, mercy, love, and strength.

Will you praise Him with me?

In the darkest hardest times, let us continue to praise Him with a thankful heart.

Much love,

Viv β€πŸ™Œ

Molly

Prayer Request

Beloved friends, some of you from the prayer group already know that my husband lost his job last week and I greatly appreciate the love and prayers being sent.

The company eliminated his entire team due to company cuts from low production. This news came as a shock to us and now we are dealing with job loss including the loss of medical insurance at the end of this month.

We have gone through this before in 2012. At that time, I had a few toddlers and a baby in diapers. Although my health was still good at that point (and I could just eat junk), I’m currently healing from a hard time of TBI and fatigue which requires more intentional care.

Please pray for my family as we face this new trial. Especially for wisdom and guidance which my husband needs as we seek God for His leading and direction.

God got us through seven months of unemployment before and I know He will get us through this again a second time around. (May I just say I wish we didn’t have to face this again?)😭

Nothing happens outside of God’s will and I’m trusting in His goodness, faithfulness and perfect plan for our lives. I do know that He will work all things together for our good because He promises so to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) During the seven month interim of unemployment we never went without food and God took care of our bills. Sometimes it was a friend pitching in or neighbor bringing groceries and quietly leaving canned goods on our deck. Sometimes it was people giving us odd jobs of chopping wood or farming that got us through. God provided for us then and I’m eager to watch Him at work again.

This past week we emptied out all our change and discovered we had over $80 in quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies! And I sold a pair of sneakers on Facebook Marketplace and got $20. It was amazing! πŸ˜ƒ He is working already. Actually, He’s never not working.

I’m reminding myself of my mama’s words to me, “One day at a time, Viv, one day at a time.”

Psalm 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Much love,

Viv β€πŸ™

You Don’t Look Sick

Has this been said to you? Those of us chronically ill or injured have probably been given this all too common line, “You don’t look sick.” Or how about this one, “Well, you look good!”*

If we look sick, we are sick, if we don’t look sick we aren’t. Right? No!

Most people have five senses; taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. Now, we can mistakenly use our sense of sight to judge someone’s sense of touch.

An injured brain can not be seen. The brain is enclosed by the skull and a protective water layer called dura matter (both of which are damaged on me). Injured brains are felt.

Fatigue can not be seen, it’s felt.

We can’t judge a person’s sense of feeling based on our sense of sight.

This is why invisible illness is so misjudged ending up with the ill feeling very much alone.

I met a lady in my brain injury group whose teenage son suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car and then run over by a second car which dragged his body underneath it before stopping. When she arrived at the hospital she told me he looked to her like an alien. His brain was actually visible and he was so beyond recognition, she could only identify him based on the fact that he bit his nails which was the only recogizable part of him. This is probably the worst case of TBI I have ever heard of, and by some miracle, her son survived his brain injury but with many many deficits.

Yet, this is not the norm. TBI is typically an invisible malady. It effects all of life in so many various aspects most of which go unseen to onlookers. TBI is felt. Chronic fatigue is felt. Autoimmune diseases are felt.

We want to be well. We don’t want to wake up every day wondering what we have to do to just barely get by. We don’t want to tell our best friend we can’t receive her visit because we are too weak. We hate missing church. We want to get up, feet hit the ground running and get everything done while having strength and energy to play with our kids and make chocolate cake for dessert.

Not all ilnesses are visible, rather, they are hidden inside the intricate workings of our very fragile bodies that can easily become disfunctional living in this fallen world. While we may not look sick, believe me when I say we are bravely fighting every day and never, ever giving up….. and are courageously smiling and enduring through the pain.

Much love,

Viv 😍

*This post was written a long time ago. I’m no longer frustrated over the way people respond to invisible illness, but I still feel this post holds a few valuable insights worth sharing with others. ~Viv

A Fun Surprise

I had to share with you all the neatest thing that came from the UPS man today via my friend Kim….

Okay, let me backtrack here a bit. I am required to swallow several supplements daily to keep me going and help heal my central nervous system. Unfortunately, my swallow muscles aren’t quite right and so I have to crush up everything I take and stir into applesauce just to get it down. Otherwise, I just can’t do it.

So, for years I’ve taken a heavy ice cream scooper and an old rag, beaten the pills into a fine dust before stirring into my applesauce. I know I look as stupid as it sounds…πŸ˜‚

Well, not anymore folks! Kim lovingly sent to me an Ezy Crush Pill Crusher from Amazon. I’m literally so excited right now because taking my supplements will be so much easier and I won’t conveniently forget anymore due to the hassle.

Whoo Hooooo!! Looky here folks, I’m moving up in the world. No more waking the hubby and neighbors because I have to beat up pills!! I’m so thrilled and excited to get this and humbled too. She also generously sent a yummy flavored pre-biotic powder to help aid in digestion. I’m overwhelmed by such love!😍

God knows how bummed I’ve been lately but He continues to send loving kisses from friends like Kim because He knows, cares, and uses people to lift us up and urge us forward. We’re not ever alone in any of our troubles. In response to others who haven’t been nice, I find myself wanting to pop my turtle’s head back into my shell for protection but that’s not what God wants! He knows we need each other, community, and fellowship, and that’s why we are to reach out, to share, to pray and to never ever give up hope!

Much love,

Viv

Fun and Frugal

What does a person with limited funds, and energy do to get both her and her family ready for her beloved nephew’s wedding?

I’ve been scratching my head as to how to get a dress for my daughter and myself along with pants and a dress shirt for my growing 13.75 year old man-child. My hubby and youngest two were all set but as the wedding gets closer, I have been stressing over what to wear.

I’ve gained a bit of weight since I can’t exercise anymore the way I used to (Turbo Jam videos) but, when I tried on the only suitable dress I had for a wedding, it made me look as a marshmallow…….toasted marshmallow since the dress is brown. 😭

So, my family and I set out to our local thrift store with so much HOPE to find what we need and fast.

My beautiful daughter found a gorgeous pink A line dress with flowers that suits her well while my son found black Jockers slacks (do people still say that?) and a nice white button down dress shirt with a vibrant blue tie.

Thankfully, after trying on a handful of dresses and feeling a bit discouraged, I found a dark indigo blue sleeveless dress with some shimmery bling on the front from Kohls with the tags still on. The tag read $50 but I got it for $5! Ta da!! God provided as always and now I can feel less panicked about the fast approaching wedding and good about the clothes we were able to find.

As for a much much needed hair cut, I watched a few YouTube videos and taught myself how to cut and layer my own hair. I have cut my hair in the past and cut my entire family’s hair out of necessity. It saves a ton. Sometimes we get poor results but I think we are managing and it’s one less task on my over-worked (and underpaid) hubby.

The wedding is August 3rd and thankfully only about half an hour from my house. We are really excited about it…..my niece-to-be is darling and I loved her the minute we met. She and I also share the same birthday which I’m so delighted about and makes her even more special to me.

I’m so thankful God gave me the energy to clothing shop with my kids! It was the first time shopping together in years and felt so wonderful to be able to handle and enjoy it.

I’m getting stronger friends!! Praise God for today and also praise Him for the bad days because without them, the good days wouldn’t be so marvelous!

Much love,

Viv πŸ₯‚πŸ’—