This is our journey & our normal. #specialneeds #AutismAwareness #MentalHealthAwareness #advocate #mother

If you don’t have time to read this entire post, then just keep scrolling.

If you don’t have a special needs child or a child with a mental health condition, then you have not a clue what it’s like in our world. So don’t speak on something you haven’t no experience with.  And don’t put us inside the general population of general parenting, yea there may be some commonalities but not all the way. We do what we gotta do to help ease our own daily challenges and frustrations and we don’t need you to advise us on what you think works. I don’t care even if you’ve accomplished a degree in child psychology because it still doesn’t and will not ever compare or measure up to the daily challenges that we live with, battle through, and sometimes pull our hair out about throughout the entire day and wake up to the next day and do it allover again.  It’s really NOT as simple or as easy as we make it look.  Behind closed doors alot of us parents, caregivers, have a lot to navigate through.  So after your few minutes of assessing a situation, and your input is to just spank him/her or some other punishment that you think works effectively, well it doesn’t. 

Some of us parents, have it harder than others, some of our children aren’t able to verbalize how their day was while in another person’s care, and they become just as frustrated about things as others would, only their unable to verbalize it to us, so we are left to figure it out based upon other behaviors.  Some of us have children who can verbalize their day, and yet they have behavioral issues that are sometimes unexplainable and outbursts that occur for no apparent reason.  Some of us have children that have destroyed our property because of their aggression and anger but we don’t talk about that.  Some of us have children who appear “normal” by physical appearance but their bullied because of how they sound when they speak.  Some of us have adult children who are still wearing diapers and aren’t toilet trained.  Some of us want to do things just like any other average family, but it’s not possible due to other factors. Some of us can’t work because of the needs of our children, the multiple hospitalizations, ongoing procedures, medication management, feeding therapies, etc. 

Some of us are at a point where we’re fed up with others saying insensitive statements.  Some of us have chosen to become advocates for others.  Some of us are tired of the jerks in this world, but who isn’t.  Some of us just want to be able to have a full nights sleep without our kid getting up at 3am and rewinding their Barney tape.  Some of us just want a day where we can breathe and have some quiet time.  Some of us just want to the freedom to relax and not have to always feel rushed because we feel tense because we know our child is getting ready to have a public meltdown. 

Most of us lack outside, trustworthy, adequate, appropriate supports.  And therefore we don’t want to just put our child into the hands of just any caregiver.  Some of us have to walk on eggshells.  Some of us have to avoid triggers that set our kids off.  Some of us are drained and worn down.  However, we get through it, and we learn as we go.  We make it look like it’s no big deal. 

Another fact, most others don’t know, is this, many of us special needs families don’t have very many close friends, many of us are left without that village to help us raise our children.  Few of us have extended family support and compassion.  Many of us don’t get included or invited to your typical gatherings, so we stick to our own familiarity of “special needs events” so we don’t have to worry about being a “bother” to others, so we don’t have to deal with the stares, or hearing whispers and laughter at us and about us, not with us or together.  Ask yourself this, how often do you see any special needs individual out in public on a day to day?  Like when your at the mall, in the grocery store, or dining out at a restaurant?  To be honest, unless our child is “higher functioning” than you don’t see any of us. 

There are so many different terms and labels and categories that in my own opinion and it’s become white noise to myself.  None bother me anymore.  I’ve heard: “handicap, disabled, delayed, special needs, downs, autistic, non verbal, high functioning, low functioning, and they fall under the spectrum” and that’s just a few.  In anycase, Our normal is “our normal”.  Understand this, years before we even probably had a thought of bringing forth children, we didn’t forsee our future like this.  I don’t think any parent has ever envisioned what it would be like to raise a family with a child that will require extensive round the clock supervision and care well beyond adolescence.  

If we’re all unique, all different, not one of us the same, than who are you to say, our children don’t fit in.

I think if I’m honest most of us special needs parents had visions of having a child who would be considered the “typical” child who is self sufficient on an independent capacity and can work a full time job, play regular sports, and possibly move out and get married one day.  Well the truth is, for some of us, our journey has taken us a different way, and that is no longer our vision.  Because it’s truthfully unrealistic.  All I’m trying to say here is this, don’t be so quick to put your mouth upon what “you’d do if that was your kid”.  And I do know this, I’d like to believe that all of us parents, absolutely wouldn’t change a thing about our child now that they’re here and even with all the challenges. 

We’re doing the very best we can to keep them educated, safe, loved, cared for, nurtured, disciplined, corrected, and encouraged, inspired and respected.  So please the next time you’re out and you see a situation where you might normally be so quick to throw in your 2 cents, instead remember reading this.  And if after all this, you have an attitude of “that’s their problem or I don’t care they still need to….” Or something to that affect, than your just a cold hearted individual who lacks compassion and most of all you lack trying to understand.  All you see is what’s occuring in the moment.

Thanks for those who will respect what I have to say.  And if your a negative Nancy, keep it to yourself and just know this, our truth is our truth, our journey is our journey, our normal is our normal, and our experience is what makes us experts in what we have lived to tell others who are just beginning their journey as a special needs parent and might be feeling confused and hopeless.  There is hope in Jesus and there is support and advocacy out there. 

I’m just one mom who speaks on behalf of some others.  I’m just brave enough to write and share what some still may not have the courage or feel the need to say.  I’m just a mom and this is just a small part of my journey with motherhood and parenting.  Be blessed! -Erika

Stigma, mental illness vs. demons & the church! #MentalHealth #ENDtheSTIGMA #BetheDifference

This is a message from me to the churches across the nations! Regarding Stigma in some churches.

I’m fed up with hearing these sad stories. I take it personal when I learn that others have been hurt by “a church”. It makes “the church” look bad as a body, as a whole. We’ve got to do better! Idc if you don’t agree with me because I’m speaking my truth which is the truth for so many others. But it’s disheartening to hear others stories from people I’ve met while becoming involved with mental health advocacy. And it’s even more disheartening to learn that they’ve been demonized by a church and ran off. All because some church doesn’t understand mental health conditions and the symptoms that fall under them. All because some church wasn’t equipped to handle them with care, compassion & understanding. All because the lack of discernment! The lack of being able to discern the difference between an individual who is battling an illness versus an individual who is actually demon possessed. I’m tired of hearing these stories.

Last month, I met a woman at a speaking engagement, who’s name I won’t mention because she is likely well-known, but she is an ordained minister who her church ran off, because they demonized her, called her out down to the altar and began trying to cast out demons. News flash, it didn’t work, because there wasn’t any demonic influence or demon to be cast out! All it did, was run her off from embarrassment after having been in that church for 30+ years and when she finally gained the courage to seek prayer this is what she experienced! All that oil and all those altar workers who lacked discernment and was attempting to cast out demons, when they should’ve been praying for her healing. In this moment she needed to feel loved and accepted, she needed to feel encouraged that she isn’t alone, she needed to feel embraced by those whom she thought would, she needed to know she was doing the right thing by asking for prayer, she needed to hear an encouraging word, she needed to feel included and not excluded. She needed prayer for healing and restoration from an illness she is battling, just like someone who is battling with cancer or any other life-altering disease! Instead, she was made to feel shamed, misunderstood, isolated, alone, and extremely hurt, and told me this is why she hasn’t been to any church since that time. She still believes in Jesus and she still prays and I know some of you might be saying, if she’s an ordained minister she should be way more mature than that and shouldn’t let people run her off, but I’m respectful enough to know this is her truth and her bad experience so I’m not the one to discredit her or dismiss her hurt and pain.

Some of you have a loved one or a friend or coworker who’s living with a diagnosed mental health condition and have probably been living in silence about it, due to shame and fear of stigma. And even you, yourself are afraid to open up and to talk to someone when your struggling at times. So imagine how she and others feel! Put yourself in her shoes. Or better yet, if you know how she feels then, let’s do better! Let’s be careful with how we minister to people. Let’s take better care of ourselves too.

Come on people, let’s wake up here! We’ve got to stop with this stigma and demonizing just anyone and then have the nerve to act surprised when someone shares how isolated they’ve been feeling for years, can’t trust anyone, doesn’t feel comfortable talking. People need to feel understood. If you don’t know, educate yourself, educate your ministry, educate your children & family, knowledge is power. In all your getting, get an understanding! Know the difference of demon possession and a mental illness. There is a complete separation here. If you lack discernment, then pray for it.

Of course, It’s possible that someone with a mental illness is also evil and worships Satan, but its also possible that someone with a mental illness loves and worships Jesus and isn’t evil. Know the difference here! And even more importantly Be the Difference here!

And while I’m on my rant, even if there was a demon to be cast out, would you even be equipped to handle that?! Most won’t and don’t even set aside time to fast and pray anymore. Be honest and fair with your soul. It’s time to wake up, and be READY!

There are tons of educational programs to gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding when it comes to mental health conditions such as the most common; bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ptsd ect and to learn the symptoms. So what’s your excuse?

-Erika Brooks

Thanks again for being here and for the continued supportive feedback.

My journey with Mental Health & Special Needs advocacy. #MentalHealthAwareness

Hear me out…then if you agree please share it to support my journey with advocacy & my truths as I know them. #MentalHealthAwareness

I’ve learned along my journey with advocacy for Mental Health & Special needs, that my truth may not be yours but it’s my lived experiences that make me an expert in what I’ve encountered as a mom & caregiver. I’ve learned that I can no longer expect others who are either wilfully ignorant or misinformed or inexperienced, that ⬅”these” will likely NEVER get understanding or be able to accept the facts as I know them, which are: Mental Illness isn’t a demon that you cast out, nor is burning sage or other witchcraft going to help “fix” this. Mental illness is a medical condition and it is a brain disease, that impacts the ways a persons brain functions.

Individuals with developmental delays, down syndrome, special needs, autism, to name a few, are not cursed, and their family isn’t cursed. My own son has developmental delays and he is the most loving, kind-hearted boy, he loves Jesus! What he has isn’t contagious & he doesn’t deserve to be looked at like he himself is a disease just because he walks different and talks different. No one deserves to be mistreated. People are so quick to label and put stigma onto those living with mental health conditions and special needs conditions. They tend to think the family is cursed or in some cultures they will disown them. Mental illness is not evil. Mental illness is an unfortunate disease of the brain. I won’t expect anyone to understand this because it’s not their lived experience, they just watch tv or what media hypes up without complete and accurate education. In other words, unless you have experience what its like raising a child with a mental illness/condition or special needs than I no longer expect you to get it. Just as much as the flu hits you and you get very sick with symptoms, is similar to that of how someone can become sick with a mental health condition, it’s not something we want, it’s not anything we saw coming, but mental illness(es) are NOT contagious. They are NOT a spirit that transfers to someone else for all you deep spiritual people. They (mental illnesses) are hereditary and known to skip a generation but not always. They are treatable and they are medical conditions. Have you ever sat down and tried to talk to someone about something & their response lets you know within the first few words that this conversation is going no where. So you just stop. Let me just say this, unless you’re willing to learn & educate yourself, then don’t form an opinion based off what you heard or what you saw on a TV show or movie. Unless you live this day in & out, you can’t even begin to know what it’s like to feel isolated, scared, hopeless at times. Its especially hurtful when you can’t even turn to your own family because they just don’t get it. Let me just say this, you might know of someone who’s living with a condition, or you have a relative, or you work in a clinic or at a hospital so you think you can relate, well let me say this, it’s NOT the same & I believe anyone who’s walked a similar journey as me, will agree.

My other son, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder & he is also the most kind-hearted, comical, genuine, respectful young man. He has a heart for God & he is overcoming his battles, he is a full time college student, he is a college student-athlete. He’s truly a warrior. All Glory to God!

And let me also say to some in the church, Stop running people off because you’re uninformed and unequipped to handle someone who has any one of these health diagnoses, and you ignorantly take them to the altar and attempt to cast out a demon, cuz it ain’t going to work, and you wanna know why? Because their ain’t no demon to cast out. Pray for healing to take place instead, pray for doctors to find a cure, pray for medications to have no side effects, pray for restoration and clarity, Pray for them to have the strength to go through. That’s what you can do. Offer support & offer love, these communities of people already feel isolated and ridiculed. I said this because you have no idea just how many people I have met & sat down & listened to their stories about how the church hurt them & ran them off. As a believer In Jesus myself, we must do BETTER!

We need to educate beyond the common mental health conditions of depression & anxiety, and beyond the “acceptable” conditions like cancer, diabetes, dementia, autism, ect. Hopefully you get my point. I’m not dismissing these conditions at all, just desiring more public awareness for Mental health conditions such as BP, bpd, schizophrenia, PTSD, suicidal ideation, ect. Which are all attached to stigma! We must eradicate stigma! People are out here suffering in silence! Wearing masks so good they fool their loved ones because they don’t want anyone to know what’s going on inside. They won’t get help because of fear of stigma! They have no one to talk to because others won’t listen. Their feelings are dismissed by advice being given instead. They feel misunderstood because when the one person they hoped would offer support, didn’t. Their scared and scarred. This is why when someone takes their own life, everyone usually says they seemed happy and didn’t know anything was going on.

My thoughts on evil…Don’t get me twisted there are people who are evil, commit heinous crimes, do pure evil acts, and then we find out through media that they’ve been declared “legally insane” or “mentally ill” which makes every single person who has a mental health condition/illness viewed in a bad light. Which in my own opinion creates ongoing stigma because it’s not all the details, most times we just read, “school shooting and shooter has a history of mental illness”. Their behaviors are influenced by what they feed their thoughts not simply just because they have an illness. And there are always a whole bunch of other factors that play a huge part in someones health declining. Usually it’s because they either aren’t receiving treatment, or they haven’t found the right treatment yet, or medications arent being taken or medications need to be adjusted, ect.

What I don’t agree with is putting everyone in the same boat. Everyone’s journey is different. Even people with the same health diagnosis can live with completely different challenges & experiences. So my truth may not be yours. But this is mine!

My truth is my lived experience while raising children with various health challenges, and I’m not cursed and I did nothing wrong for those who think so. My family is blessed beyond measure. God has chosen to give us this journey, this purpose to serve on this platform. God is my waymaker. Jesus is my Savior. God is my sustainer. God is my EVERYTHING. Thank you Lord! #MyJourney #MyTruth #MentalHealthMatters #Unashamed #SpeakYourTruth #BeKind #EducateYourself #RespectTheJourney

Lastly, here are some resources that could help save a life or help you learn more.

Mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Nami.org
NIMH.nih.gov
Blurtitout.org
Bphope.com
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Understood.org
https://www.navos.org/


Crisis Textline 741741 text (Home) 24/7
Suicide Prevention Line 24/7
(800) 273-8255
Pierce County Crisis Line
(800) 576-7764
24 hour crisis line
(866) 427-4747
Teen Link (6pm-10pm)
(866) 833-6546

Thanks again for being here. This was a post I wrote on my personal social media & wanted to share it here.

Toy Story 4 & Another small victory!

My youngest son, Erik is 17 yrs old. He has developmental challenges and today we decided to take him to see Toy Story 4. Afterall, we have all had a long month with his knee injury and he is finally up and walking again.

Photo credit: Disney / Pixar

The last time he was in a movie theater to try and see something was when Rio was out and that was 2011. I remember he was 9-1/2 years old at that time. He had a fear of darkness and loud noises. It was a “sensory film” featured at our local AMC theater. This was inspired by individuals living with autism and/or other special needs. It was supposed to be a movie with the lights dimmed low, and the sound not as loud as normal showings.

However, I’ll never forget that day because the person in charge of operations, messed up and blasted the sound before turning it down, and forgot to leave the lights dimmed at first. It took a lot of coaching, verbal cues to survive that movie. I remember other children running around and walking the aisles. My son sat still frightened in his reclining chair, while wearing his headphones. I don’t recall being able to focus on the movie myself because I was too busy making sure he was okay. I also remember telling myself and my husband, “Never again! I guess we’ll never be able to take him to a movie theater because it was just too much.” And from that time forward to today, our family has always waited until summer and been fortunate that there is a drive-in theater where we can go together with no issues.

HOWEVER!! Today, was a completely different story! I waited until last night to tell him we are taking him to see Toy Story 4. Anyone else who has a special child like my Erik, probably can relate to picking your battles and knowing your child’s behaviors. I wait to tell him things because otherwise I have to hear about it all day and everyday leading up to the event. And sometimes it causes anxiety for him which can backfire our plans.

Happy moment for Erik!

Anyways, I told him last night and he was happy. He picked up his phone that and began typing on his notepad, “tomorrow we go see movie toy story 4 mom and dad”. And he did his little self talk all evening.

On the drive to the theater my own anxiety began to build a little, thinking what if he talks to loudly and disrupts the others, or if he begins throwing a fit? But I explained to him during the drive there, “Erik the movie theater is going to be dark inside but it will be okay, and you will be safe, me and dad will be with you and it’s gonna kinda be like the little theater at your school when you had your senior awards night.” He was okay with that. I had to try and use a familiar experience with a good outcome that he could relate to. And it worked! Because when we got to the theater he went up a few stairs and sat in the chair. At first he seemed afraid, but he told himself, “its okay, Erik, this is just like your school when you had senior awards night, your okay, your gonna see Toy Story and get to sing your song, you got a friend in me.”

Photo credit: Disney / Pixar

The good thing is that the recliner chairs in the theater are very similar to what we have at home so that fear he had at 9-1/2 for reclining back was not there anymore. His dad showed him where the buttons were and he reclined his feet and they shared their popcorn and he was set. At first I thought he was going to startle from the sound so I brought his head phones just in case, but he didn’t need them. I was so proud of him!

He even got to sing his favorite theme song along with the movie. And he made a couple of remarks during the movie which were appropriate during some of the scenes with Woody and Buzz and some new characters. I won’t say anymore, because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet.

My son and my husband

As the film ended after about an hour and a half, we walked to the van and my son said, “I did it, I saw Toy Story 4 now and I did good.” My husband and I reassured him that indeed he did a great job.

I wrote this article today to hopefully inspire another mom or caregiver that may have lost hope or might be feeling like they won’t ever be able to take their child to do things that others can do.

To anyone who is reading this and has walked along my path, I will just say, what didn’t go well today, doesn’t mean it won’t go well for you in the future. Never give up hope for your loved one / child’s abilities to accomplish even the smallest of things. What other families may take for granted we know that these small things are a huge milestone for us.

It may take months for some to reach that next milestone and years for others, but just keep trying and insert new experiences here and there. Allow your child to develop courage and overcome fears, while you learn what it is to appreciate the small things in life. Those small things that we sometimes don’t appreciate because maybe we spend too much time complaining about things.

I think what is most helpful for me, is knowing what MY OWN REALITY is and not wishing to be like other families. Because if I keep measuring my son’s growth to that of someone he isn’t than I’m living in a fantasy and not reality.

I used to be like that, and its not helpful and it wasn’t good. Anyone who has a special needs child can probably relate to feeling like your world is different and unrelatable. But in fact, it is much more common than you have allowed yourself to experience. It seems as though most of us are inside, behind closed doors, kept quiet and shielded from potential harm. But I’ve discovered that there is a community for us.

I hope everyone has something to appreciate about their child and themselves. Even if it seems little. An accomplishment is an accomplishment no matter what. And today, July 9th, 2019. This was Eriks, that he was able to see a movie in a theater without being afraid and without being disruptive. And it wasn’t even a sensory film and it was at a much nicer theater than the AMC that we attended in 2011.

Thanks for being here and thanks for listening. If there is another mom, dad or caregiver reading this that feels discouraged about their child’s diagnosis or development please trust the process and keep your faith. It will happen for you in due time.

Blessings!

[wpedon id=”1071″ align=”center”]

Inspiration & Hope that came from suffering & pain.

This will NEVER get old for me. It’s just a small part of my son’s journey.

My son’s news stories from 2014.

My son 4months old, after ICD implant surgery in 2001.

My son after surgery, removal of his ICD implant.

He is teaching me about living life to its fullest potential even when things are designed to get you down.  He has taught me how to have joy even in the midst of loss and tragedy. If only the world could know just how amazing this kid is! Nearly every person who has a chance to meet and interact with him, always says he is one of a kind.

I’m so blessed to have Erik as my son just as he is, developmental delays and ALL. And I would NOT change a single thing about him. He brightens my day. You would think as a mom I am teaching him about life, but he is indeed teaching me instead. He has compassion for others to the extent that he prays each night and mentions by name others who he has met or knows that are in need of something that only God can give to them. He just has such a confidence that I admire.  And he has a faith that is undeniable.


My son praying during the special needs service.

This kid could have mustard on his shirt, walk into a room of executives and still be confident to walk up, shake their hand, introduce himself and spark a conversation without feeling any shame. Seriously!

In spite of the sufferings along the journey, in spite of all the tears I cried, praying consistently down through the years for strength and endurance, I have to say, it’s evident that this has all been a part of Gods plan to teach me humility, patience, forbearance, compassion, empathy, how to suffer, giving me a testimony to inspire others, and to see the glory in the midst of it all.

Everybody always wants blessings but nobody ever wants to suffer. Everyone wants to skip passed the bad stuff and go straight to the good stuff. But that didn’t happen in my journey. Yet, now, in hindsight, I would not change a thing. I’ve learned so much watching Erik grow and develop at his pace. It’s because my family has Erik, that his siblings have compassion for others and without stigma or judgment. It’s because of Erik that we understand struggles and acceptance. It’s because of Erik along with my other children who battle mental illness, that I created this website called “stigmasnomore.com”. It’s because of God, our faith and HIS grace that we are able to share this journey with others.  It’s because of the suffering that others didn’t see, that we are blessed that others do see.

Thank you for being here. This next chapter is going to just keep getting better!

I am beginning to write my first book soon, so I hope once it’s on bookshelves, that you will buy it and help it become a best seller.

You can donate here if you’d like to help me with start up costs. ⏬⏬⏬⏬

[wpedon id=”1071″ align=”center”]

 

I want to tell everyone who reads this article, who is a parent or caregiver, always stay the course, and don’t measure your growth to that of others instead measure to your own. Everyone comes from different walks of life, each at their own pace. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush the process or you might wind up with raw results.  Just keep going.

Blessings!

NEVER let anyone limit your child’s development. #Specialneeds #proudmama

My son, Erik is a senior this year. He will be graduating this Thursday and he is so full of emotions.

He fractured his knee this past Wednesday at school during his bike club. So he is back in a wheelchair. He hasn’t had to use one since he was a smaller child. Back then it was from his developmental delays, today its because he fractured his knee somehow.

Myself, my son and one of his many teachers.

Prayers are appreciated. We have had to pay for a ramp since insurance didn’t cover the prescription. But the most important thing is that he is still in good spirits.

His teachers and therapists at school have been amazing! We are truly going to miss them all. He is going to miss seeing his friends everyday.

My son & his friends & Ms Falconer

My compassion for others who are wheelchair bound has increased even more because I am getting only a fraction of what they live with on a daily but I’m speaking from a caregiver position.

I’m sharing some inspiring video of my son at his classroom party and his senior awards night. He received two awards at senior awards night as Valedictorian and Superintendents scholarship award.


I love his spirit! Even when he’s down, he’s up.

And again, don’t you ever let anyone, I repeat, ANYONE tell you what your child will never be able to do! Because faith and a will to do, have the final say!

Thanks for being here again.

1 year Anniversary of Not Forgotten Ministries. #SpecialNeeds #families #church

Today, marked the 1 year anniversary of the special needs church ministry that my husband began in May of 2018. I follow his lead as he is operating in his purpose. The name of the ministry is called Not Forgotten Ministries. Such a fitting name for the ministry, because we want other families who have special needs loved ones or individuals living with disabilities or other mental or physical healthcare challenges to know they are not forgotten by God.

Church Info

We had 3 new visitors along with their family or caregiver today. It truly did my heart some good today to see the people participate in prayer, scripture reading and singing along.

A mother sharing her story about her daughter’s health challenges & God’s goodness

Pics from Not Forgotten Ministries

Our service isn’t your typical church service either. It is geared specifically for special needs families. The entire family. Not to separate the individual with special needs from their family but rather include the whole family in one service. We always offer to involve everyone with prayer, scripture reading, and a brief time for sharing their story. Followed by the word of God, more prayer and benediction, but at times we go off script to accommodate the needs of God’s people.

The girls playing with balloons in the kitchen during refreshments

It’s always lovely to hear others share their stories about the journey with their special loved one and all they have overcome or are still handling today. Especially the other mom who shared today, about how happy she was at the service, mentioning that she had been to a different church that was supposed to be for special needs families, but they separated her from her daughter, while she was able to attend service with the congregation, they took her daughter into a private room with others to watch the service on a monitor and she said she didn’t like how that made her feel. So it was really nice to hear that she felt welcomed and comfortable.

As a mom, caregiver myself, I know first-hand the daily battles, struggles, victories, achievements and strength it takes to do it every single day. It’s not always peaches and cream and its not always smooth sailing, but I will admit, it is ALWAYS worth my time, my love, my support and my efforts to help my children and others within our community.

Me holding sis Shana’s newborn baby girl, Novalee. Such a precious baby. She was born premature, but God has blessed her with good health.

I am sharing these short video clips to show the glory of Gods special people. I was told by one caregiver that today was her very first time hearing her client pray and that it touched her heart. These families come from all kinds of different walks of life, Autism, ODDS, Epilepsy, Dementia, Developmental delays, mental health challenges but we all come together here in one place, unified as one body in Christ. We know our loved ones diagnosis but it’s like white noise to us. We only speak, write about, refer to it because it’s how others can identify with us at times.

I truly hope to possibly inspire others by sharing this. And maybe if you happen to be a minister or pastor of a church, you too will become inspired to begin a similar ministry in your town. There are many families just like mine, just like these, that would love an opportunity to come together at church and feel welcomed, accepted and understood. Again, this is not your typical quiet service. We cater to the needs of the people and their families as we realize the sensory issues and the other need to express themselves openly. We are all Gods people. We are all loved. We are all unique and wonderfully made. Created by God in his image and his likeness.

So to that other parent, caregiver or individual who’s reading this and living with health care challenges, don’t ever let someone shame you or make you feel less than worthy, just because your blessed to be who you are, or the person your caring for. Don’t allow others to stigmatize you. Hold your head high, walk in confidence and be proud of the life you have! Share your story to inspire others.  Tell your story to educate others.

I hope I was able to encourage someone this evening!

Thanks for being here again.

An amazing night for my son! #Hope #Inspired

Gotta love my son’s energy & enthusiasm. Be sure to click the links within the article and you’ll see the video clips.

This passed Wednesday I received a last minute phone call, unexpected while I was watching t.v. It was the coach from specialized recreation activities center and he asked, “Hey, what are you guys doing tomorrow night?” I hesitated and slowly said, “Umm, nothing really, why what’s up?” He said, “I have a really unique opportunity for Erik and you guys to go to a baseball game.”

Initially I thought the coach was going to say he needed my son to fill in as a team player for something. But then he mentioned baseball but had minimal information for me. He said another coworker of his would be contacting me with the details.

Long story short, the coworker called me and asked for my permission to give my number to someone else who would call me with even more details.

I have to admit we are not the “baseball” family but we have gone to a couple minor league games before. And I admit I grew up around baseball, softball my entire childhood because my dad and mom played, so I know the game well. Just not a fan of the sport, maybe because I was forced to go to every single game, tournament and travel for them too as a kid.

Anyways. So I got the call from the person in charge of this unique opportunity and he explained that he is with a non-profit organization called “Sons of baseball” and they host families with developmental disabilities or life-threatening illnesses. Their mission is to provide a unique opportunity to give a great experience, all expenses paid and to make it a special event for the child with the disability or life-threatening illness. And he said my family and my son, came highly recommended and selected by someone he reached out to.

My son arriving at the stadium. Shaking hands with their media guy.

Initially we were told by the coach, that it would probably be a meet up time around 530ish in the evening. So that would be doable. But it was actually 3pm. So what did this mean for us?

I would pick up my son from school early because he needed time to come home and complete his daily routine, eat his snack and do everything he normally does after school. I was hoping for the best possible outcome. But I’ll be honest, I was uncertain and I was prepared to leave before game time since the game wouldn’t start until 705pm.

I have to get straight to the good stuff. Not only did my son do SOOOOO good, he managed to make it from 3pm until 1030pm when the game ended, and he truly enjoyed himself thoroughly. He even surprised us by working through his sensory issues of the fireworks that were lit off with every home run. Of course, I went prepared, I brought his music ear buds and his noise reduction headphones to put over those. There was even an unexpected fire evacuation and he was a trooper, and didn’t freak out. It was Star Wars night so initially when the alarm sounded, we all thought it was a sound effect from Star Wars but it wasn’t. And we had just gotten food and sat down to eat when this occurred so there was many unexpected challenges through the evening and I have to say I was so proud of his growth and this evening proved to be another milestone for his development and maturity.

My son with his personalized jersey before entering the gate.

Had this been a few years back, we would not have lasted for more than an hour and either the fire alarm and especially the fireworks would have scared him to the point of having tunnel vision and demanding to leave, while screaming bloody murder, but he didn’t! Not to mention, my husband was expected to be able to ride with us to the event, but got off work later and met us there. So usually my son, would become impatient and demand to have us both present and have a tantrum, but he was so well behaved.

He received royal treatment. Tony Parks is the man who was the host and his sister. These two were amazing and genuinely passionate about their involvement. I could tell their heart was in it and not just going thru the motions.

They made sure we were comfortable at all times. Erik was given a baseball to have the players sign, unlimited concessions, got to go out on the field before the game, sit in the dugout, meet the players, and we were all given personalized jerseys sized to fit each of us. We were given the tour of the stadium and the media room. He was also honored on their streaming baseball channel. The most memorable moment of the evening, the announcer mentioned all our names and also thanked Erik for being there, and my son replied with a very loud, “YOUR WELCOME, YOUR WELCOME!” I gotta love this kid!

On the field while the players warmed up.

This was the most amazing eventful day. And it showed me that prayer does work, my long years of not giving up on his developmental issues has paid off and Erik proved me to remain hopeful for his growth and future development. This would not have happened had it not been for the Sons of baseball organization and Tony Parks, his sister Tiersa and the person who recommended our family. It felt good to be honored and to just have others doing something nice for my son.

Tony, Erik, Tiersa. After the game was done. Proud moment. We made it!

I shared all the details to hopefully spark some hope inside another mom who has been thru the daily struggles of raising a child with special healthcare or mental health challenges or both. Never give up hope! What doesn’t happen today, might happen tomorrow. Just because its not now, doesn’t mean it will never happen for your child. Celebrate the smallest achievements.

Blessings to you!

Living with purpose. #AbleNotTheLabel

See the able, NOT the label!

This is my son, His name is Erik. He was just a baby here, he is now nearly 17 and able!

My son far left, with his teammates.

Yes he has developmental delays but he is living his life just as anyone else would. Able and capable to try new things everyday. He has overcome many obstacles.

My son at his dance class

My son at cooking class, washing dishes.

My son working out with my husband, his dad.

For those other parents who might feel hopeless. Don’t give up on hope. It can get better with time, patience, prayer, hope, and support. And to think 17 years ago, he died twice, was on life support, suffered seizures, and doctors didnt give him much chance of survival! Well we proved them wrong! And he isn’t a vegetable either, like they said he would be. We were told he would probably never talk, walk, or be able to eat normally. To God be the glory!

Keep hope, stand on your faith, and stay encouraged, even when the clouds are dark and the news is bad. The outcome is better than where it all starts.

Live with purpose.

Thank you for being here.

From my heart to your purpose. A poem… #MentalHealth #YOUmatter

I just wanna hug that person who people shunned away,

I just wanna love that person who was abused all day.

I just wanna show that person how much I care,

I just want them to know I’m here, I’m aware.

I just wanna give them acceptance they may have never received,

I really want them to know how much their believed.

Others have hurt them time and time again,

No wonder they trust no one, not even a friend.

It’s hard to explain the pain that they bear,

But I just want that person to know someone cares.

-Stigmasnomore / Erika

Thanks Again for being here!

This is from my heart to your purpose. You have purpose, you have meaning, you have a friend in me.

 

[wpedon id=”1071″ align=”center”]