Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Letters of my past

This week was a rough week for me personally.

My baby boy turned five last month, and if that wasn’t enough to make me weepy, he started kindergarten on Tuesday.
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More than those reasons for a difficult week, this week required something of me that I’ve really not thought much of.

Years ago, when my husband and I decided to have kids, we talked about the chances of our children inheriting the hearing loss condition that runs through many of my family. At that time, I had probably not even lost fifty percent of my hearing, and I really didn’t expect that I’d lose much more, if any. When my husband and I talked about it, we mutually decided that I lived a normal enough life, a very happy life, and we felt peace about having children. It really wasn’t a difficult decision for either of us.

After having my son, my first child, I had lost a significant portion of my hearing, and my husband and I knew that we’d only have one child. We certainly didn’t expect that I’d get pregnant with my daughter when my son was just five months old, but as a great many parents know, sometimes the unexpected brings quite a bit of joy.

I never think about what our lives would be like without our children. Some may pass judgement on me for choosing to have kids, but I never really think about that either. And another thing I don’t think about? Other than the one day my husband and I talked about whether or not we would have kids, I never think about whether or not my children will ever have hearing loss.

But this week I was forced to think about it.

Because of certain circumstances, I felt a strong obligation last week to really consider my children’s future. I’m not going to spend time worrying about what-ifs, but I did have to write a letter.

The letter I wrote was to my son’s kindergarten teacher. I told her briefly about my own hearing loss, I told her that it is a hereditary condition, and I asked her to look after my son. As a parent, this letter was by far the hardest letter I’ve ever in my life had to write. I didn’t cry, I just wrote a bunch of facts, but as I sit here and write about it, I’m overwhelmed at the emotions that I realize I hold at bay. To date, my son has shown no serious signs of hearing loss. But what I needed from his kindergarten teacher, was for her to be aware of conditions that may show up in his year-long tenure with her. I pray often for my son, that he never has what I do, but at the same time I want him to have every opportunity to succeed as a child. I want so much for him to have the best, even unimaginable, life as possible.

I hope that, by not denying to be aware of the situation, that I make a better life for my children than I had when I refused to admit my difficulties with hearing. I will be honest, though, and say that I genuinely hope and pray that the cycle of this hearing loss is broken with my children. I know it can be.

I pray for myself sometimes too. I pray that God gives me the endurance emotionally to hit this thing head on. To be prepared for it, even if it never happens.

Most of all, I pray for my kids. And I welcome your prayers too.

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My next adventure.

I’m leaving soon.

And traveling to Albania.

I tell myself that I’ve been watching all the Masterpiece Theater versions of Jane Austen’s classics to get used to understanding people with strong accents. Really I’m just a sucker for 18th century everything. But I really am hoping that, because I can watch those movies without subtitles, I will be able to understand the conversations with our Albanian friends.

Why am I going to Albania?

These are the streets of Elbasan, Albania.

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According to the U.S. Department of State, Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe with it’s average yearly income a mere $4,070 in 2009. With an official unemployment rate of 13.9%, many are forced to seek jobs in nearby countries in order to send money home to support their families.

The reason my husband and I are going is to check on the current status of our Mission Base in Albania, which helps numerous children and families across the country. My husband is pastor of Ovation Church, and we’re so thankful to be able to, through the church, send monthly financial support to help so many in this nation. When we go next week, we will take lots of pictures, which enable us to show the many families here in the U.S. how their generous giving is affecting so many lives.

Our history?

My husband’s great grandfather immigrated from Albania many many years ago. My husband’s late mother had a vision to help the nation of her grandfather, and just four days after the fall of communism in Albania in 1991, her and my husband’s father traveled to Albania and began a humanitarian work in the war torn country. Tons of food and clothing have been shipped and distributed over the years, and it all continues to this day, nearly 30 years later.

My husband and I have sacrificed our yearly vacation (to the usual beach destination) for a trip to Albania. Although he goes every year, it’s been almost sixteen years since I’ve been. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. I’m so ecstatic about seeing the local family that has run the Mission Base all these years, and to see all of the people we are able to help. It’s amazing to be able to help someone so far away, and something completely more to be able to experience it. Especially in a place like Albania.

Here are just a few of the faces of people that we’ve been able to help.

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My great hope is that I’m not completely lost to the language. It’s amazing to be able to comprehend more and more speech here at home, but I can imagine the challenges ahead as I attempt to understand individuals with very strong accents.

I’m hoping to be able to squeeze in a few posts while I’m away, keeping you updated on my progress, and giving little snippets of my trip.

Until then, if you’d like to give to our work in Albania, you can click here. All donations are tax deductible, and they go directly to our humanitarian work in Albania.

Another day of gray

When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt it. My body was a million pounds heavier, my eyes seemed too many days sleep deprived, and yet I knew it was all a lie. When depression hits, I’ve felt it’s burden so many times that I knew what I had to do.

I’ve heard people talk about depression before, whether from passing conversation or from a platform, and I sometimes wonder if half those people have actually experienced it in it’s unadulterated form. They say that being depressed is a choice that is made. It’s assumed that I can just snap my mind out of it by just making the choice to be happy. And I laugh! Oh how I laugh inside when people say that.

I experienced depression for years before I actually even realized what it was. It’s kind of weird that I didn’t realize what it was, but it’s true. I’d be overcome by this intense sadness, but I just didn’t really think about why or where it came from. I just bore it. Often I had a crummy mood, snapped at my husband or children or whoever was nearest, and never even thought about what was happening. But in a passing comment my husband he told me that when he came home from work, he never knew what mood I’d be in or if I’d be crying or not. Like any wife who’s scorned at, I probably came up with some sort of snarky response, but after I’d thought about what he said, I realized he was right. And like any wife, I did not particularly like that he was right. Who likes to be wrong?

But I decided to change. I’d felt our marriage had lost a lot of luster, but it never really occurred to me that I was the one with the problem. In my own mind, my husband was at fault because he didn’t understand all the turmoil that I went through, day after day. But he was right in the fact that I wasn’t controlling my emotions, but rather I was letting the emotions control me, leading me inevitably toward a path of constant depression.

So I tried to change. I attempted to stop being so snippy all the time, but more than anything I tried to be happy. I put on a brave front and created an attitude of happiness for my husband and children, sweeping all the unhappy feelings and sadness under a rug. But the thing is that it was still there. No matter how much you sweep under a rug, it’s never really gone. I did change a lot, and I created a much nicer, happier person, but it’s just impossible for me to be happy all of the time. Who ever is?

What my husband helped realize, more than anything, was what I was dealing with. It became a tangible, recognizable object that I gradually began seeing in myself. And over time, I’ve learned what the symptoms are, how to predict it, and how to pull out of it. I guess in theory that the “getting out of it” is a choice, but it’s much more than just a choice to be happy.

On days like yesterday, when I see that some situation that I’ve been in has brought depression with it, I’m very very proactive. I’ve always felt that I can’t really choose to be happy, but I can surround myself with happy people, places that bring joy, and before long I know I that it will all rub off on me. Filling my day with a flutter of activity helps keep my mind off the weight that threatens to drown me, and before long (usually about 24 hours) I’ve been pulled to the surface.

When I woke up yesterday morning and felt the oncoming depression, I made quick plans for the day. My son’s favorite thing to do at this time of year is to go to a pumpkin patch. And it just so happens that about an hour away, we have a patch that has free hay rides, hay mazes, horses and pigs for petting, things to climb on, and lots of photo opportunities.

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When I’m around these two, I can’t help but find joy in the color they bring to my life. I love my family, and I thank God every day for all these that He has brought to my life. You may not ever feel the depression that deafness or a chronic illness might bring, but if you feel a little blue, like life is passing you by, don’t forget all those around you that love you. They can bring life and happiness to a dreary day, and don’t forget give God a wink, because it’s likely that He placed them beside you.

First attempt at Cochlear implant activation. Fail.

I don’t even know where to begin.

I think all of us, at some point, envision worst case scenarios. I can’t imagine losing a spouse or a child, but I take steps to prepare myself for such things. You know what I mean. We take out a life insurance policy for a spouse so that either of us are covered financially if something happens to one of us. We watch our kids closely around dangerous objects or in dangerous places, always cautious that a worst case scenario never happens.

But sometimes it does.

Today was such a big day for me. At nearly five weeks post-op, I went into my doctor’s office to have my Cochlear implant activated so that I can finally hear again. My dad and my sister have already received a Cochlear implant, and they hear so well that an average person probably wouldn’t know that they even had a hearing problem. They were with me today, in full support, along with my mom, my brother, and my husband. There were so many of us that we would hardly fit in the little bitty room where they had my new processor (the external hearing-aid-like thing that connects magnetically to the implant under the skin on my head) hooked up to a computer that will activate both the implant and processor. (view how it works here)

The technician handed me the processor, and helped me put the upper portion around my ear and attempted to place the lower portion, the magnet, lower down on my head. Ideally, the magnet that’s hooked to the processor will connect with the magnet that’s in my implant (which is under the skin). The processor magnet wouldn’t connect the side of my head where the implant magnet was underneath, but I really didn’t think much about it. On operation day, my hair was shaved in the area where the implant was placed, but it’s grown back considerably fast. So my thoughts were that it’s grown back so fast that they might have to cut it a little shorter in the area where the magnets need to connect.

The technician assured me that my hair probably wasn’t an issue and unscrewed the magnet attached to the processor and screwed in a stronger magnet. Depending on hair type and length (of if you even have any) a different magnet might be used. She started with a type four magnet, but quickly realized that she needed a five. She dug around through drawers, couldn’t find one, and paged another technician to help her. Between the two of them they realized that they didn’t have a five, but fortunately my sister had one on her processor. After switching out the magnets they found that even the five wasn’t strong enough.

Even though they could tell that the five wasn’t strong enough, they tried over and over to get the two magnets to connect. They found some scissors and cut my hair shorter where it had grown back, and kept trying to no avail. Eventually one of the technicians even got on the phone with the implant manufacturer to see if there was anything else to do to get them to connect. But we were grasping at straws.

The final suggestion was that my doctor might have to prescribe a stronger magnet. The technicians dug through the magnets once more just to be sure. They finally found a different processor with a type six magnet, although the processor was for a different type of implant. They tried the processor’s magnet on my implant, only to see if the magnet would connect, and it didn’t.

When they switched the first set of magnets, I internally had to check myself from getting emotional. I told myself that this was just something that happens, no big deal. But as the minutes ticked by and by the time the last magnet switch was made, I knew the problem wasn’t the type of magnet. There was something bigger that was wrong and the last attempt would inevitably fail. And when they tried to place that magnet on my head, the type six, and I felt it fall off, my thin hold on my emotions snapped. It was just impossible for me to contemplate returning home in the same condition I left. I couldn’t bare it.

I watched my mom slowly explain to me what the technicians had said would need to happen, all while tears streamed down my face. She explained to me that I would have to return on Wednesday, when my doctor will be in the office again, and undergo a CT scan to see if the implant has slipped from position or was put in backward. Worst case scenario, the implant is faulty and will have to be completely replaced.

I don’t really know what to hope for, or even what to pray for. I want to believe that the implant has simply just slipped position, but even with that, it means that I will have to undergo another surgery to put the implant back in place. So my thoughts and prayers are not even among these.

I pray today that whatever I face before me, God will give me the strength to get through it. At my doctor’s office, I stepped out of the room to try and gather my emotions, with my husband quickly at my side. The only words I could get from my mouth were that I just want to hear my children. I don’t care about anything else. Not the little unimportant things like music or laughter or conversation. I want to hear my children tell me about their day, about their favorite toy, and I want to hear their giggles of joy.

Beyond that? I want to be able to lay in bed at night and hear my husband tell me about his day. I remember after we were first married, it was the time I treasured most. It’s when all the television, dinner, phone conversations, and everything else have died with the day, and the quiet moments in intimate conversation about life begin. We shared goals and hopes and dreams, or even just things throughout the day that we loved or hated. More often than not, we acted like teenagers as we laughed at people or places, and I can’t begin to describe how I miss that.

So whatever happens beyond today, my thoughts remain focused on the goal ahead. One day soon I will hear. And whatever I have to do after Wednesday to get there, even another surgery, I know I will. And I will thank God every day for giving me the confidence and endurance to do it.

10 years and counting

Ten years ago today at two o’clock in the afternoon I said, “I will.”

No matter how many premarital classes you take, however many books you read, or even videos you watch on the subject, you will never in a lifetime be prepared for a lifetime of marriage. It takes so much more than just preparing oneself for the event.

I have chosen every day when I wake up in the morning to love my husband. It’s not a gushy lovey-dovey feeling that I feel, but a decision that I make each day. We’ve both hit our 30’s and, let’s face it, neither of us are getting any younger (or any skinnier). So it’s not about appearances either. It’s a decision.

And I today is a day that I take time to remember why I still make the decision that I made so many years ago. I look back at the ten years behind us and I wonder if they’re the very hardest we’ll face. I remember asking my husband a few weeks before our wedding if he was sure about us. Was he prepared to marry someone who might be hearing impaired?

And he was absolute. Yes.

I see these last ten years in my head. There’s been a gradual path I had taken toward depression and isolation, with so much of it being unintended and even unknowing. I can’t count the times I’ve taken things out on him and not even realized I was lashing out in pain and anger toward something I barely recognized was happening to me. But he stuck.

From day one to day three thousand six hundred fifty two, he’s been absolute in his willingness to work though all this mess of what my life was for so long. He held me when I cried, watched the kids when I needed a soak in the tub, and listened when I tried to verbally make sense of things. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically he’s done everything in his power to be understanding of what I’ve faced when no one should have to face it.

To my husband- I love you more today that I did ten years ago. I love you for the boy I married, but much more for the man you’ve become. I can’t thank you enough for all the times you have understood me and been here for me when I needed you most. I am so excited about what the next ten years will hold for us, and I look forward to every one of your hilarious antics, your crazy wisecracks, and just you being you.

This time around I plan to hear every word of it.

Came to My Rescue

If there’s ever a song that I feel describes my life, it would be this one.

As I entered surgery this morning, I definitely thank my husband and my mom for pushing DARS to finally schedule this, but more than that I know that God had his hand in this from the very beginning.

My whole life was turned upside down from the day I realized I was losing my hearing as a teenager. I remember prayer after prayer from that day on, consumed with my quest for healing. Or for an answer. My spiritual life has been tested, beyond limits I thought possible, but with as much as I’ve seen in my life, I could never question the actual existence if God.
I feel akin to a man named Job from the Old Testament. He had everything imaginable in life, only to have it vanish in an instant. He was broken, but never doubtful of God. Those all around him offered explanations of why he had lost so much, whether from sinning, from his own arrogance, pride, or so many other reasons, yet Job denied them all. He had looked at his life and knew that although he might have not been perfect, he had walked according to those laws God had commanded and could not, for his life, understand why so much had been taken from him.

And after Job questioned God, God answered. He asked Job if Job was there when the world was created, if Job had done the incredible things that God had, and if Job understood the things that God did. In a response, so adequately put, Job answered God this, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

And I realize that this is me. I had prayed for so long for my answer, wondering why all this happened, only to realize that it’s something I cannot understand. But the great thing is that God remembered my prayers and He came to my rescue when I needed Him most.

My husband got me an ipod for my 30th birthday today and although my schedule may be busy hearing so many new things on the day that my processor is activated, I know without fail that this song will be first on my playlist, and the first song I will hear again. Somehow thank you just doesn’t seem adequate to describe my appreciation to Him who rescued me.

Falling on my knees in worship
Giving all I am to seek Your face
Lord all I am is Yours

My whole life
I place in Your hands
God of Mercy
Humbled I bow down
In Your presence at Your throne

I called You answered
And You came to my rescue and I
I wanna be where You are

~Hillsong United

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