Quality of life with ADD/ADHD

My family is one that takes a lot of energy, which thankfully we have a lot of. My husband has ADHD and as our boys started school it seemed inevitable, and it was for our two older boys, now 9 and 8. As a mom trying to function with hyperactive, impulsive, easily bored, strong willed, very busy boys, I read and studied everything on ADHD, everything relating to BOYS! It wasn’t even until sometime this past year that I read an article on what it looks like in women, starting from childhood. 

This article nailed my childhood to a tee. The more I learned, I will say I have self diagnosed myself also with some form of ADD/ADHD. This was a realization that my whole family is filled with a challenge. To me though it is a gift, yes there are so many struggles that come with it, but so many strengths also. 

At one point in time I can say our quality of family life sucked, it was horrible, miserable. Everything was frustrating, keeping up on things was a nightmare because the moment I caught up to one thing my kids had demolished another within seconds. Add to that constant boredom, leading to impulsive misbehavior and impulsive verbal reactions with 3 boys that feed off each other….. constant fighting, yelling and refusal to cooperate…. yup, quality of life was surviving. Constant survival mode.

I look back on those days and realize how my every action was to survive; of course there were great moments, love, snuggles and hugs, but overall the stress outweighed the positive. I am now a parent who is proud to say our house thrives on medications, I see many articles that praise medication, judge it, question it. And the decision to have medication be a part of my children’s treatment was not easy, but it got to a point that I realized my kids’ quality of life was not great. They were always in trouble and for what? For being impulsive! I can say it is a blessing, it has not solved all things, it takes a lot of work to parent my children, a lot of patience, love, kindness and respect. But I have realized lately how many amazing moments I have in my home, I realize how pleasant my house is, the boys are respectful, they can focus, they play together and I have “me” time that I cherish daily. 

Medications do not solve everything, they are not magical pills that create perfectly functioning children; but in my experience they allow my children the ability to learn, to be guided and to have the opportunity to thrive in school and ponder their actions before it’s too late. For my husband and myself we have learned our strengths and weaknesses and have learned how to use them to our benefit. We do not use medications ourselves, but I know the option would never be off the table. I have come to find yoga and mindfulness to be very beneficial. Which is ironic because mastering mindfulness when I am inattentive, well, let’s just say they do not go hand in hand. It was a lot of hard work, but it has really paid off. 
I was recently complimented on my ability to multitask, I believe the words were along the line of “she is a superhero, she will make you feel lazy.” Which was a reference to how much I can accomplish with my time. And I do take pride in my ability to be a mom, attentive wife and love my career. I have found that organization is key and to not have more things in my home than necessary. I love to clean which uses up my plentiful amounts of energy in a postive way and I take time to myself to not get caught up in becoming anxious by the constant go, go, go. I am truly blessed to have found balance in my family with ADHD. I see other families struggle so much, and of course all people are different in their experiences and how they handle things, but I hope that my family scenario can offer many hope that families can thrive with ADHD.  

Avoidance….Is There Such a Thing When Following God

What great adventure have you been on? This was the opening line last Sunday. And, I found it very interesting that while I cherish motherhood more than anything, I mean it once defined me, but I began to think of vacations and my bucketlist of places my husband and I have went on and places we want to go. Thinking of being a wife and mother did cross my mind, but it floated right through my thoughts as quickly as it came. I think this portrays quit well the phase of life I am in.  Motherhood did once define me, which in some ways was fabulous, but at the same time, it defined me because I lost myself at one point, I didn’t know who I was without my children. Now, I am Sarah, a confident woman with interests, a career, friends and best of all a very loving husband and 3 amazing boys with unique characteristics and traits. Being a mother now rounds out who I am, I am a healthier mother because it no longer defines me.   

Asking us to ponder our greatest adventure led to asking us to ponder our adventure, our journey with God! I can definitely say I have had a great journey with God, of course with any relationship, also some ups and downs. While reflecting on our journey with God the big statement that hit home for me, right now in my life especially was,

“The thing you’ve been avoiding, Jesus will walk you right into the middle of it!”- Pastor Ryan

Uh yup, for sure, that is my life right now. A few weeks ago Jesus brought the sermon topic of addiction into my life, which resulted in learning new things about my family, which were eye opening, I went through so many emotions including, sadness, anger, surprise, the feeling of “of course, it all makes sense now,” reasurrance of God leading me to my career of working in addiction. One thing is for sure, I can say that Jesus walks me through my life, guiding me at the right times, showing me things I need to know and walking me not just into them, but through them, radiating stronger because of it. 

I really had to think about what thing I avoid, because I am quite an outgoing person, I stir things up, seek things out, I don’t do well with keeping things in because it eats at me and I know it is so unhealthy to keep things bottled up. So what do I avoid? Family conlict and tension…….. for me family conflict is very uncomfortable, which I have also realized why.  Which is the first step to overcoming it, if I know why family conflict is so uncomfortable I can understand it and work through it. For all of the great aspects of my family, one downside is that we are not the super sharing of our emotions type of family. I used to think we were, but I realized it is more for the happy, comfortable feelings, not things that we struggle with or feelings that cause conflict. Those feelings are bottled up, brushed off, or if they are brought up are quickly redirected. 

With learning how addiction has impacted my family I have already had my feelings dismissed, brushed off and ignored. It is quite painful and makes me naturally want to continue to avoid family conflict. The sermon was so reassuring though, Pastor Ryan said “when we address the thing we’ve been avoiding, people experience the kingdom of God. When you address this, it will change you.”These words were so powerful to me because God brought me to this revelation and I know God will help me through it and grow from it. I feel this is an opportunity to take a relationship that I have struggled with in my family to a new level, to grow closer and start to really connect at a deeper level. But, in order to do this, I will need to face family conflict head on, I will need to be very uncomfortable, stir up feelings and I can imagine having people angry at me. Thankfully for me, I know how to have healthy relationships, and I know that I cannot control other peoples feelings, those feelings are on them, not me; but I can offer support, enouragement and guidance. 

One thing I know right now is that whatever is put in my path, when I am walking alongside God, I know I can overcome. I have confidence confronting the emotions I am feeling, address the secrets we keep and standing up for myself and others because Jesus led me here and I know he will walk me through it, not just into it. 

Doubts…

 “Doubt is often the pulse of our faith”- Pastor R….. For me this has proven to be true, in fact I could not have described it better. 
Doubts! We were asked “what keeps us from being real about it?” It was pointed out that pride gets in the way of showing struggles and that when we struggle with doubt we don’t need to walk away from God, we can doubt.” Typical responses to these doubts are “pray, it will get better.” To get to the root of things though, we need to be introspective and reflect on what is causing those doubts, those feelings; then we can understand them, learn from them and either affirm them or counter them. I can say I don’t recall a time in my life that I have had doubts that God exists, I have not doubted my faith in him, I have not doubted things that have happened in my life or wondered why he would allow bad things to happen. One thing that stuck with me from my childhood during a sermon was “the devil does things too.” This is what I think of when bad things happen; that and I know I have a healthy mind set in that I wouldn’t know what happiness is without bad times. So what doubts can I relate to my relationship with God?
How and what is real!! My late 20’s were a time for me to really discover who I am, not who I thought I was, who I was raised to be or was because that is what the culture I was raised in was. My outlook on life changed, on who people were, what was healthy or unhealthy about relationships, what “normal” was and what I felt was moral and ethical or not. Over those years I developed my own sense of what was moral; of what I feel God would consider moral based on what I was taught about him from my childhood and what I feel in my heart. I recall it being constantly reiderated that “God loves everybody no matter what,” we were to spread God’s love. That the one way to heaven is through believing in the triune God. As I came into young adulthood I began to feel more contradiction to this.  There was such a strong emphasis placed on changing or making laws to prohibit people from doing things that were not “Christian,” the way God wanted it. This was such a struggle for me because to me it contradicts that God loves and accepts us no matter what. 

I realized over these years, my late 20’s that I will not live my life judging other people, when in fact, I definitely have traits that others would or could judge. I could no longer blindly follow, following because that is what I was taught was not enough. I feel my ability to look at multiple perspectives and understand different perspectives is a gift. I ask questions, I question what is, I make sure I understand what I believe in or I don’t allow myself to verbalize an opinion. I question and ponder what I am taught; I reflect on if what I am taught follows and lines up with core values I know about God. This left me with doubt of what church taught; not doubt of God or my faith in him. But, doubt that we worship and praise God how we should. I mean the reality is that is is not possible for one church to know with certainty that they are doing everything right when it has been roughly 1,983 years since Jesus has taught us what and how God wants us to live. Now, I will be honest that history and timelines are not my thing, if this number is not perfect please don’t judge.  But this doubt, it is a doubt I struggled with hard. Pastor R, to keep him somewhat anonymous, stated “wrestling with our doubts can strengthen our faith.” I for one have found this to be true. The last two years wrestling with my doubts on the purpose of “organized religion” had left me conflicted. While I felt my relationship with God was stronger than ever; I knew that by not going to church I was not getting my kids what they needed to learn about God. I knew I could not teach them near as well as others who know more than I do. And I knew that I wanted my kids to have a church to grow up in, other youth to interact with who come from families with similar values and core beliefs and a place they can spend their time that I can trust will give them healthy activities to do and keep my kids safe. 

This is where I got to the point that I spent a few Sunday’s and Saturday evenings in another church, not my home town, childhood church, but the same denomination. There was one problem, I did not feel welcome. My kids would speak and I felt judged, that my kids should be quiet and sit perfectly still for an hour while let’s be honest, they are bored out of their minds.  This is not what I wanted.  So I spread my horizons and began researching new churches. After months of making excuses I finally went to church at Radiant Life which was Sturgis Wesleyn Church at the time. It did not take long before this church became my home. It has filled in a piece of my life that was much needed; my kids love it and each Sunday I feel ready to tackle what obstacles life may bring. Community worship, congregational support, the power of prayer, these things have made my devotion to attending church much stronger. I have now realized how much worship and praise with other people, a congregation, has fueled my relationship with God, my ability to radiate his love to others and to myself.  My relationship with God that I felt was stronger than ever a year ago, has reached a new level. 

Something that stuck with me from the sermon on doubt was that doubt is ok. It is ok to doubt what we are doing, the path God may have us on, what we have been taught and well, even God. Because, we are human, we do sin and we are not perfect, we can’t be. But what really stuck with me is that if we doubt, to “process it in a place to foster our faith-Pastor R.” The two years I struggled with my doubts, I somewhat did it alone; I had an amazing friend I bounced my doubts off of. A few actually and that did help. But even after starting to attend my new church, I still felt those doubts; however, Pastor R was right, wrestling with my doubts with a church family helped me to foster my faith, move past the doubts and feel more passionately about attending church than ever before. 

I know I will have doubts in my life, I know I have many doubts about what I am doing in my career, am I on the right path, should I go back for a masters degree, should I be content, I doubt the reasons for my goals and what my goals are, for my kids, am I protecting them enough or too much from life, am I doing the best I can, am I teaching them everything I need to?  There will always be things to doubt, but when we are surrounded by people we love, people who believe what we do, and who will provide us support, I believe we can grow from our doubt.

This may be a bit of a tangent, but it is another thought that was sparked for me the last few weeks regarding doubts. I have recently been supporting somebody who is struggling with who they are, doubting… I cannot say that I know all of the reasons they are struggling because I never assume I really know what somebody else is going through. But I do know that part of the struggle is feeling that they are one person and being told by others that it is not right; it is not what God wants. One of the things I have doubted about church is the strong stands some churches take on one or two specific topics, sexuality included. Why I struggle with this so much does not have to do with what God may think is right or wrong, but rather the shame that people feel from church for their sexuality. What bothers me is that this shame does not come from God, the shame comes from judgement that people impose on others in the name of God. Which I feel is misplaced; I am not arguing what God wants, I am acknowledging that we all sin and I know God forgives me as much as anybody else and I would never want my judgement to shame another person. My heart aches because I can understand how it feels to have so much guilt over actions that others disapprove of because they are not what God wants. 

I can say I am much more of a person that I know God would be proud of when I let go of judging others and for feeling content with who I am. I don’t hold onto guilt for not being perfect or for sinning. I learn each Sunday ways to be a better Christian, but I spend more of my energy radiating God’s love to others through my actions rather than trying to tell or teach others how to act. I want to lead by example, not by authority. I want to not doubt what I am doing and rather, focus on doing what I know for sure is right. For me, what I don’t doubt is God, that he made us all, and that he loves us all. 

Addiction…

As it was referenced Sunday:An unhealthy habit or action that is repeated. As an addictions clinician I could write forever on the reality of addiction, the stereotypes people face, the obstacles, the lack of support, lack of empathy and assumption that recovery is not possible. These things create shame and fear to seek help, fear to ask for support from loved ones and it keeps famlies in twisted, unhealthy cycles of addiction. Trust is lost, lies eat you up, anger festers, all to keep addictions secret, to “protect” the family, the addiction. 

This cycle is toxic. At some point the truths come out, they cannot be undone and loved ones are hurt.  

This pain, this hurt, it can be healed. Sunday we were told that an addiction starts with desire, then we entertain the desire, we develop an appetite for it, we become trapped in it, we are now helpless. Of course being at church it was emphasized that we can be set free from addictions, through and with Jesus. And addictions were referenced ranging from addiction to body image to drugs. As a Christian, God, worship, prayer, reflection, comfort of church family, these things all help to heal; they are how I find comfot and peace with things I cannot control, things that devastate me and hurt my heart. 

In addition to Sunday morning service we had a re-fresh evening of worship. We worshiped through music, prayer, thanking God for what we have, asking for forgiveness and taking communion. These times of reflection for me heal my soul; they radiate Gods love for me as tears streak down my face and I pour out my soul to God.  These are vital parts of my everyday life; and if everyday life is not balanced “addictions (exercise, cleaning, reading for me)” can take over and that time for God can wither away. 

I remember during college, psychology of human development, reading in my text book that psychologists are unsure why Christians report an increased satisfaction of life.  I could answer this instantly, at least for myself; faith in God gives me hope, reassurance of a greater purpose, a community of support, I don’t fear death, I put my uncertainties into God’s hands. He does not fail; each Sunday, each time I worship through music, singing, I feel God in my heart, in my veins.  These things all help me heal on a regular basis; when I am being consumed with something; I find my balance in God. These things are why religious based support groups are so common in recovery. I know that it is also possible to find recovery without God, for those who do not idetnify as Christian; I know this to be true through my career. But for me….. God means I am not doing it alone; I am healing from the pain of addictions with support, community, love and faith. 

#myoneword

Kicking off the New Year my church focused its first service on resolutions. At one point in my life I thought resolutions were dumb, why wait until the new year to change, if I can’t change without a significant date what would make it any different to declare on New Year’s Eve. I have enjoyed the New Year’s festivities more the past few years and have also jumped in with resolutions. This year they were pretty simple and easy to manage; maintain my healthy eating and fitness that I have been consistently doing for 10 months and tackle credit card debt. Both I know for certain will happen. The one that will be challenging is my one word that I am commiting to, to reflect through and grow my relationship with God….

Radiate!!

“Words create movement!” “Change is possible, but focus is required.” Both quotes I cannot take credit for. Both quotes were strongly emphasized during service last week. Then I was asked “how do I really want to be?” That for me was not hard, I know how I really want to be…. Always put together, happy, energetic to tackle working full time while being a mother of three boys, fit, healthy, super social, to have time for my friends, I would have a pefect home, always clean with ample time to play with my kids.  Yup, that is easy.   Oh my goodness I wish that was easy, of course it is not easy; but sometimes it is an easy face to put on to hide all the stress and tears that come with the feelings of failure or doubt when it does not all come together. Most days basically. 

But, how do I make it possible to be “how I really want to be?” God, faith in God, love for God, his love for me, prayer, forgiveness, lots of forgiveness, trust, hope…. These things I know are necessary, they are things I have. I was asked though to come up with just one word that will get me from where my relationship is with God and where I want it to be. My one word, “radiate” was instant, I knew what my word was, since the first service I attended at this church I now call home that has been my word. That first service I attended it was proposed to change the church name to reflect radiating the word and love of God to the community, it hit home, exactly what I had been looking for. No questions asked, I was drawn in. But now I am thinking of what that word will mean for me throughout 2017. It means that I am asking and praying that God will radiate his love through me, use me, to reach others, my children, husband, friends, the community. That my actions, words, thoughts and feelings will Radiate God’s love and that my faith in him will Radiate to him. 

Already, one week in and I noticed that by service this morning I was ready for the reminder to “radiate” in all of my actions, thoughts and words. I have thought about it a lot this week, but I am still on holiday and not back to crazy, busy life yet. I am sure I will need reminded more often. I know reminding myself that “words create movement” and “change is possible, but focus is required” will be keys to improving my relationship with God. While I am focusing on my one word, I know it will take more than just kowing what my word is for it to make a difference. I already have a new Journal Bible in my Amazon cart ready for sermon notes that will arive 48 hours after I click submit, I have coffee with a wonderful friend each Monday that most often turns into reflections of our lives and actions which seems to most often lead to Bible discussions and now I am commiting to reflecting on sermons throughout the week here. 

Already, I am many steps ahead of where I was this time last year when I felt an emptiness as I spent the holidays not attending church, I didnt have a church that felt at home. I managed without church to keep my relationship with God alive, in fact I think it was stronger than it had been for a while; which, is why I am so amazed now. I thought I was doing great even without attending church, oh my goodness…. with this new home I have found, I am amazed, I am radiating and I am feeling at peace, but at the same time so anxious to keep growing and radiating my relationship with God in all of my actions. I have also challenged my children to work on this along with me, they found their “one words” I think quite easy and I was very proud. All of them were able to think of words that they can focus on that reflect areas they know they can improve in. Seriously, such a proud moment, their words are “calm, love, kind.” This will be an ongoing challenge and one that I am ready to tackle throughout 2017. 

Why warm gray?

Why warm gray?

I realized today, that I do in fact have a favorite color. For the longest time, maybe a few years, I haven’t been able to answer the question “what is your favorite color?”How could I pick just one? It can represent so many things, something personal about me, something I enjoy to look at, or just because it sparks my interest. To me though, answering that question represents something about me, maybe my personality, my goal to live simple and content while always striving to do and learn more, what sooths me? What a complex question….

Today, I wondered why is this so complex and I realized its because each day I continue to learn who I am and what I really want to be and want out of life. I think it was always hard to identify because people always give bold colors as options and I am not always bold, some days are duller than other, some days I’m sad, some are energetic; each day is different and different colors radiate and reflect different feelings. At church today, during the sharing of somebody elses personal story, it hit me, “warm gray.” That is my favorite color. It is a blank canvas, you can add any accent color and instantly change the mood and make a very bold statement. I also find it warm and soothing. 

This realization is comforting, I have a favorite color. This discovery, while it can seem minimal, simple, maybe not a big deal to some, is one of the many things I learn about myself through worshiping God. I grew up in church, it has always been a foundation of me, a root of who I am. The past few years I have struggled with what that means in my life, what is my role in God, in my faith, what is that role to my children (I have 3 boys by the way), in my work and with my friends? After thorough research and struggling with different beliefs in different churches, two years later I have finally found a new “home”for my family. Each week all of the questions I had are finding new meaning. Each week I am filled with emotions and find much comfort being at church and he (God) is radiating through me, I hope to my kids, my husband, friends and in more of my actions. 

Each week I relate to the topic and it finds a place in me. That is what, at least for the for the foreseeable future, “Warm Gray Ramblings” will be about. Putting this intro blog into action, the words to..well computer, has even been difficult as I easily side track and “ramble”if you will. It will be my reflections of what I have learned in the process of turning 30, discovering myself and really how I am learning, absorbing God into my life as an adult. I am also sure I will have many thoughts to put to words on the trials of parenting as I have a pluther of struggles and joys that come with that. My hope, through my blogs though, is that, maybe another person will find comfort in the fact that I struggle with life, some days more than others, I have many obstacles, mostly emotional; however, ultimatley I handle it well, that doesn’t mean it is easy, but I have learned postive ways to stay “sane” and flourish. Maybe some will find humor in my fantastic, outgoing boys, that never leave a dull moment in my house, they are hilarous, fill me with laughter, tears, joy, comfort and worry. 

For years I have wanted to write, for me, I love it. But, until now it has always been trapped in my head, usually due to lack of follow through in writing and due to having such a busy life I haven’t had the time. It feels relieving to make it a reality.