January and Februay 2020

January 2, 2020

Happy New Year to all of us fortunate and blessed to be here on this earth. The year started off with a bang- literally, as we watched the fireworks with our precious granddaughters.  It was cold and windy and they probably would have preferred staying home in their warm pajamas, but it was an adventure.  We took them to Iditapark for the city display.  Afterward, we stopped by the Garden of Reflection and I showed them Uncle Logan's plaque.  I want them to know their Uncle Logan.  We had them all day on the 1st and they wore us out!  We loved having them so much. I plan on having Ollie here tomorrow while Patrick will be at the cabin.  We are going to have a day just for her and me which should be fun.

I invited some moms who have lost a  child to come over today. I thoroughly cleaned my whole house and made a bunch of snacks. Only one person came!  This is the second time I have attempted to start a support group- the first for bone marrow survivors and that wasn't successful either.  Maybe people don't want the support!  I have all these ideas of what people need and maybe they just don't need what I think they do.  I want to help but maybe my help isn't needed after all.

1/5/20

I kept Ollie overnight on Friday. It was just the two of us as Patrick is working at the cabin.  We first went to Granny's and I left her there with her while across the street at my cousin's house interviewing a potential caregiver for Granny.  Those two had a fabulous time together! They ate some ice cream, looked at quilt books, went into the sewing room and discussed sewing, and watched TV together. Ollie told me that she enjoyed her time with Granny so much and she would like to do that again.  I was a bit nervous leaving the two of them but I was just across the street and Ollie had my phone number.  I should not have been nervous as Ollie is so much like her mom and her Uncle Logan as she is far more mature than her six-year-old year would imply.  The time they spent together meant so much to both of them.  Later, Ollie and I went to a recovery church and heard some great testimonies of how God helped people out of addiction.  I don't think Ollie paid too much attention which is totally fine!  She drew pictures and practiced her writing.  I loved having just her. I was supposed to have Ailynn last night but she got into trouble and wasn't allowed to come over darn it.  I only have a week left off classes so I need to soak in some grandbaby time quickly as I will be very busy the next few months.

Yesterday I went to a town hall meeting and it was packed with people wanting to speak to our legislators about problems in the Valley. I wasn't going to speak but ended up doing so because I felt it was important to point out that we need to treat each other kindly and not be so judgmental and quick to tear each other down. I mentioned that people releasing from prison need assistance and encouraged employers to give them a second chance. I reminded everyone that addiction doesn't discriminate and can happen to all families- including mine.  I probably sounded ridiculous as I know I stumbled over my words as I am not the greatest public speaker. I get too nervous.  Hopefully, it resonated with some and will make a difference as people interact together.

This week is a very busy week full of medical appointments and other events.  I book myself up too much.  I need to work on tax preparation too as I don't want to be doing that while writing those blasted school papers. How I dread this last semester in some ways!  I am so tired of writing papers that have to fit the criteria.  I need to be allowed to be creative!  I can do this!  Just a few short months left and my degree will be complete! Thank you, Jesus!

1/8/20

I have tremendously enjoyed my week so far.  Yes, I have had a few commitments, but overall, I have had some much-needed downtime and feel more relaxed than I have for a while. Yesterday I had a webinar- for my practicum- which I am getting a head start on, then went grocery shopping, ran some errands, briefly visited Granny, then went to an Opioid Task Force meeting.  I fell asleep from 7-10 last night which meant I did not sleep well last night. I've been up since 0400. I imagine a nap will have to be in my schedule again today, but hopefully, I can do that earlier in the day. I don't like when I crash so late in the evening.

The burdens of those I know continue to press heavy on my heart.  The single mother diagnosed with breast cancer still needs community support and I'm trying to connect the right people together to organize a fundraiser for her.  I can certainly help, but don't have the time to take the lead on it.  She is in desperate need of financial assistance.  The other friend with breast cancer who lives in another state, recently found out she also has another type of cancer and is having more scans.  She has her hands full with a mother who is experiencing dementia symptoms and she has three young girls.  Then there are all the children I see on FB who have cancer and my heart hurts for them.  

My mom hit a deer on Sunday and did a lot of damage to her car.  I worry about them.  Dad's truck broke down so it's currently in the shop.  They seem to have so many things go wrong which is frustrating because they are the most giving and wonderful people ever. I want things to be easier for them.

It is very, very cold here in Alaska and people are whining constantly about it. Yes, it is cold, but I am thankful it's not windy. When the wind starts blowing I will be the whiniest person out there.  I am so thankful that I have a warm house and a garage.  It's terrible out there! People's cars are not starting, the homeless are going to freeze to death, and it makes it difficult for people to get around. It's minus 24 this morning which is so darn cold!  My neighbors septic system has been frozen for two days and I feel so bad for them. I keep offering them my bathroom and shower but so far they have not accepted.

I met with one of my Representatives on Monday night. I love her heart. I think most of the legislators in the Valley love Jesus and it is obvious.  She has a compassionate heart and was excited to share with me what she has done for reentrants after incarceration.  She also donated some professional clothes for my upcoming Capstone project.  This project is one I must complete before graduating with my MSW.  It will be a one-day event held at True North.  It's the first-ever Valley Reentry Fair.  I will be giving out professional clothes for interviews and employment, as well as offering a keynote speaker who happens to be a person who served 20 years and is now a successful employee and also has his own business.  We will have breakout sessions for budgeting, interview skills, art, mindfulness, free haircuts, and more.  We will also have vendors there to share services such as peer support, substance abuse treatment, rental assistance, and hopefully employers.  The motto of this event is, "Building Healthy Connections Within the Community." I am very excited about this.

Today is a good day because God is in my life.  I am working on me.  I am trying to be more cognizant of my attitudes.  The steroids are still affecting me greatly.  My moods can be terrible and I must remind myself that between the steroids and my erratic blood sugars that I am not in the right frame of mind. I do not want to be offensive, rude, demeaning, or angry. I want to be loving, kind, compassionate, and helpful. I need off these drugs!  My face is so fat and I am rapidly gaining weight which depresses me.  I am walking the treadmill most morning to try and keep my weight down.  I have gotten used to being very slender and I don't want that to change.  But the biggest thing is my mood! That and the tremors and the spaciness I feel. It's not enjoyable at all.

Kirk has Influenza B and pneumonia.  Ollie was sick for a couple of days and I hope she is better today and the other two girls don't get it. Meghan had it last week but she must not have had Influenza B, or she's tougher than Kirk which is very possible hahaha. Patrick wanted to go visit them yesterday and I had to ask him no because that would mean I would be exposed. I hate depriving him of our grandchildren but I can't afford to have yet another sickness.

1/10/20

Meg ended up meeting me at Costco yesterday afternoon for lunch and I took Ailynn home with me for the night. I know they've been exposed to Influenza B, but I couldn't take not seeing the girls anymore.  Ollie was at school and Boe didn't want to leave her mommy.  When they got to Costco, I was in the optical department.  The first thing Ailynn said to me was, "For Heaven's sake, why is my butt so cold!"  Her lines got funnier as the day went on.  She would preface her sentence with, "I've got a good one for you....." When Patrick got home I had to take a nap. I slept from 5 PM to 8 PM which means I was up until midnight and back up at 5 AM but that's not too bad.   We played a lot of ball with Ailynn and she got really good at catching. She relished the 1 x 1 attention for sure.  Tonight I am picking them all up for the night. Patrick is at the cabin so I will be doing this single-handily.  I'm a bit nervous as I was unable to catch an early nap today. I pray my strength, stamina, and patience holds out.

Today Sandra and I met with a couple of people from Senator Sullivan's office to talk about Be the Match and asked that Senator Sullivan co-sponsor a Bill that will be introduced this year.  We got a warm reception from his staff as we shared our personal stories and the importance of helping those in our communities who need a life-saving bone marrow transplant.  After that, I met with my friend Lisa who is a 22-year survivor post-transplant.

My heart continues to be heavy as I have spoken with several in the past few days whose children are struggling with drugs and alcohol.  One has a "child" who is in her 50's and continues to drink, use drugs, and go in and out of jail. The grandchild of her child is also in federal prison.  Another has a 42-year-old son who is a father to a young boy and is actively using meth. The stories go on and on.......I am concerned about my own son at this moment as well.  Life isn't easy and it's not always fun.  I trust in my God and I know he is here for me.  I pray for strength for all of us. I pray for courage.

God, I lift up all of those in the world who struggle with addiction.  I know they don't want to be addicted. I know that they are not happy but are seeking to fill a void in their lives.  I understand that they feel they can't control the urge to use or drink. But God, I know that you are the most powerful being in the entire universe and you are also the most loving and giving being in the universe. Send people to them Lord to walk beside them and show them your love, grace, and mercy. Help them to know that no matter what they have done, you are filled with grace and mercy for them. Nothing they have done is too much for you. You love them despite their bad choices and mistakes.  Show them visions of what their lives can be like without using drugs or alcohol. Please show them their worth!  Keep them safe, God.  Please send your angels to form a protective circle around them and warn satan that they are untouchable because they belong to you. Help us, family members, to know when to step in and when to step back. Send friends their way so they are no lonely. Send only people who will be a good influence in their lives. Please open the hearts of Christian men and women so they may pour out your love and mercy upon them. We trust you with our loved ones, Father God, because they were yours before they were ours, and they will always be yours. We love you. Amen

1/11/20

It's amazing how much better I can see the computer screen when I put on my prescription reading glasses instead of my regular glasses.  I am not sure why it took me so long to figure this out. I actually just ordered a new pair of reading glasses and computer glasses from Costco. I paid $170 total and the other optical shops were charging $300 just for computer glasses! I hope they work well, they should as it's the same prescription.  Being diabetic and having glaucoma and macular degeneration in my family concerns me so I want to make sure my eyes are protected.  Speaking of my diabetes, last night my blood sugar was 412 at 6 PM. At 10:00 Pm it was 51.  There is nothing like having to eat something just before bed after I've already brushed my teeth.

I had all three of the little girls last night and had a blast with them. They were exceptionally well behaved and none of them argued about bedtime. In fact, they all fell asleep within 10 minutes. I had to pinch myself to see if this was really happening!  They were loving to each other and happy. It was a great night! I am wishing they would wake up as I have been up for well over 2 hours. But it's barely 7 AM and they need their beauty sleep I guess.  We are going to Granny's this morning to have breakfast with her and help her with her medicine.  We hired a new caregiver for her last night and she will meet Granny this morning to make sure they hit it off and she will begin next week.  We really liked her and we have mutual friends so I  feel confident she is the right person for this position. Granny really needs companionship most of all.  Loneliness is a real problem for the elderly.  Loneliness is a real problem for many others as well.

Building healthy connections within our community..... It's our responsibility as Christians to do that.  It's going to start with me. I am determined to help link people together.

God bless you all.  If you have prayer requests, please email them to me at kellymarre5@gmail.com

1/12/20

A prayer from the book, "The One Year Book of Healing."  "God, help me to realize day in and ay out how you intervene in my life to keep me from harm's way.  May I Have a thankful heart, knowing that you are my protector."

1/13/20

There was a special speaker at Sumit Worship yesterday and she brought an incredible message of hope.  She reminded us of the story in the Bible when two fish and five loaves of bread fed 5,000 men because Jesus blessed the food and made it multiply to feed them all.  She emphasized that we have the ability in ourselves to multiply blessings and it's up to US to do so by using the power of God.  Why not "us?"  Why do we so often think that "someone else is more capable or should do things for others when we are capable to do so ourselves?" We sell ourselves short and fail to recognize our strengths and abilities to be used effectively by God. It was a great message for me. It reminded me that even though sometimes it doesn't seem that I am making a difference, I am.

This morning while on the treadmill I listened to a wonderful message about guilt and shame and how God can deliver us from shame.  Andrew Rodriquez brought the message, "The Guilt Bucket" and you can find it on YouTube.  What is the difference between guilt and shame? Guilt helps us realize we need to make a change so we can be free from oppression. Shame is when we do the same things over and over and expect different results. Shame causes oppression, depression, and hopelessness. God doesn’t want that for us. Get rid of the guilt bucket by exchanging it with the guilt bucket Jesus has. His bucket is empty because he’s never sinned. This will set you free! You are worthy to be forgiven and loved.

1/13/20

My practicum officially began this week and today was the first day of a two-day conference. Dr. LaTessa, from the University of Cincinnati, is in Alaska to speak about reducing recidivism, working with offenders effectively, and becoming coaches rather than referees. I love the message he is bringing, and I love that people are listening to the message. We must make changes if we want to see effective change. People can, and do, change. 

There is a man in our community who was gravely injured yesterday in a tree clearing accident.  Please be praying for Beau. He's got many broken bones. 

I have a busy few days as school starts tomorrow night. We are keeping the girls Thursday night and then I plan to go to the cabin this weekend. A little bit of R & R before the semester gets overwhelming. God has this!

1/18/20

We made it to the cabin and I am happy to be here.  I have a lot of homework to do this weekend.  The professors decided that a few assignments need to be done early in the semester, so they are kicking our butts into gear.  The classes were good this week, but my fatigue level made it difficult to concentrate.  I had an all-day conference on both Tuesday and Wednesday and I was very worn out. On Wednesday I had to leave an hour early to go home and take a nap before school.  In between my two classes I have a 15-minute break. I slept 10 minutes during that break and still was nodding off in class. This shows me I am still "not there."  It's frustrating- so very frustrating. But I do believe I will get there!  School on top of the practicum is difficult.  I am sure when I work fulltime that it will be easier because I just have to concentrate on one thing. I'm hopeful about that at least!  I want so badly to go back to work this coming fall.  I am considering all the areas that I would enjoy working in.  Now, we just need the right doors to open and a great job offer to come.

We kept the girls Thursday night and had a great time with them. I did have class so I didn't get to spend as much time with them as Patrick did, but I had the next morning to enjoy them and love on them. Ailynn woke up with q headache and said her body was shaking.  Turns out she had a fever last night of 102. When Meghan first let me know I, of course, felt bad for her. My second thought was, "Oh no, I was exposed and I do not want to go back into the hospital." My immune system is still compromised. If I get influenza I suspect it would mean being hospitalized. I have such trauma from being hospitalized and it causes flashbacks. I do not want to go back so I am praying God protects me from getting what she has and that she gets over it quickly because I don't like seeing my granddaughters sick. It hurts my heart.

It is going to be an interesting and exciting year and I can't wait to see what God has planned for me.

1/20/20

My nephew Kyle turns 20 today on January 20,2020. I think this is the coolest birthday ever! I think he needs to celebrate at 1:20, 2:20, or 2020 (which is 8:20 PM) with a nice dinner or non-alcoholic toast hahaha. 

Ollie reminded me of an important lesson with I dropped her off late to school on Friday. I do not like to be late. I had been up since about 0400 and got all my morning rituals done. Ailynn got Up about 0730 and wondered if the Tooth Fairy had come with money for Ollie since she lost her tooth the day before. We went to check and woke Ollie up. Ollie is not a morning person at all. That girl could sleep until noon each day, unlike Ailynn who is an early riser. The Tooth Fairy did come, but Ollie was more interested in going back to sleep. I sent Ailynn down a few times to wake her while I made Boe breakfast. Boe is our best eater. she likes a variety of foods and has a voracious appetite. Ailynn wasn’t hungry which of course now I know it’s because she was sick. Finally, Ailynn convinces Ollie to get out of bed. By this time we were running behind schedule. Ollie decoded she wanteed pancakes. My first thought was, “ we are going to be late if I make pancakes.” My second thought was, “ she asked for pancakes and I will be a good Grammie and make pancakes without saying anything negative.” So, Ollie enjoyed her pancakes and we were ten minutes late to school. They go to a fabulous school in Sutton which is a 25 minute drive from us. When we walked in, I told Ollie that I was sorry I took her to school late and gave her a little talk about how it was so important to always be responsible and on time.  I made sure she knew I took responsibility for not getting her up earlier and shared I was disappointed in myself because I didn’t deliver her ontime. With her wise far beyond six-year-old mature attitude, she looked at me and said, “Grammie, you can’t always do everything perfectly.” Wow, how did she know I have issues with perfectionism?” Probably because I have seen the same traits in her. I don’t want her beating herself up like I frequently beat myself up. I was so proud of her for saying that and acknowledged she was right.

This morning I read about trust. Trusting ourselves and others to always do the right thing is not possible, but we can always trust God. We will let ourselves down, and others will let us down. God will never let us down.  He is someone we can always depend on. He is consistent,honest, and we always know where we stand with him. People and circumstances are going to disappoint us. We will be betrayed by people we love. We aren’t going to always get our needs met by those we love the most, but God will always meeting our needs.  When others hurt us it’s important to take our hirts to God and not to social media or around town. We must stop the division in our families, our communities, our states, and our nations. 

This week is a busy week for me as I have lots of appointments, doctor visits, errands, and practicum meetings. We are training the probation officers about prison Reentry this week.  We are asking them to trust us that we are giving them knowledge of how to implement programs that will help people change. I am working on my Reentry Fair Capstone Project and setting up speaking engagements to tell professionals all the reasons they need to believe that those with criminal records can change and why they should help this population of people. I am asking them to trust me and my knowledge as well. I trust God to give me the right words and help me persuade these groups that change IS possible!