October 26th 2013 exactly a year to the day was the day we arrived to our new home. Utah. We had no where to live, no job, no friends, and no clue why the Lord sent us here other then helping me not hit rock bottom in depression after having my miscarriage. (That story can be found HERE). We lived in a motel for a solid week. You just try and imagine how "Fun" that was... all that we owned in a cramped Motel bedroom with 4 people and our dog Dima. Oh and please don't forget the first snow happened while living there. Yep... that happened.
The Motel name was "InTown Suites" Don't let the name fool you, they were horrible. HORRIBLE! The entire place smelled of rat piss, meth and burnt food from other rooms. Most, if not all of the other residents were homeless people. I figured that made sense for us to be there as well considering we were homeless ourselves. The carpets were green and stained with heaven only knows what. We only had one bed that barely held Jason and I and the boys had to sleep on a pathetic excuse for a couch hide-a-bed. The hide-a-bed had all variety's of yellow stains on it and it slumped in nearly to the ground. A roach motel sounded SO luxurious to us after walking into this place. We stayed there for a week even though it felt like an eternity, since it was the cheapest place we could find. I wonder why?? I got to unpack just a few of our boxes and put some of the dishes in the falling apart kitchen cabinets they provided. Cooking was nothing short from a nightmare since the stove top was miniature. But we ate well for the most part. We weren't allowed to have our dog Dima in the room which we didn't realize until moving there, so yes... she stayed in the car wrapped up tight in a million blankets in her kennel in the back of our van. I would run out there multiple times during the night to make sure she didn't freeze to death. She always welcomed me with lots of kisses and as happy as can be! We also had to make sure she wasn't barking since management would kick us out if they knew she was even on the premises!
Luckily Dima wasn't the reason we were kicked out.... Our boxes were. Management had an unexpected room check, of course when we were out AND they found our room (which again was holding nearly all of our belongings) as a fire hazard and we were forced out that night. In the cold. With nowhere to go, and no U-haul truck to carry all of our stuff.... Fun times let me tell ya. While we sat on the curb with all of our boxes and no real winter clothes on, Jason was desperate to get us somewhere warm. He called a friend he knew that lived a good 40mins out from where we were who we had celebrated Halloween with. He couldn't help us out until later but would try to hurry! We were grateful when he showed up! Jason had called a motel 6 that was down the street a ways and reserved a room for us. What a HUGE upgrade!! 2 beds, less room, but a bathroom that didn't have someone else's bodily fluids cooked into the walls and tile. Everything was spotless with no stains or slumped in hide-a-beds! Even Dima girl was allowed in! There was no kitchen unit but we made the best of our situation with a crock pot and some reachable food storage boxes! It was the best! I even made a chocolate volcano pudding cake in the crock pot! It was amazing! We set up our projector pushed the 2 full beds together to make a gigantic one and watched movies every night! The boys loved it! It was a good time for our family! Such fun memories!
This is all of our stuff in the hallway when we got kicked out.
Our living quarters with boxes galore!
Our beds together with the projector up for fun family movie nights.
We attempted Church one Sunday at a ward we figured was near us. We knew (hoped) that we wouldn't stay to long to be considered part of the ward now, but we went anyway to make sure Church (even through all the chaos) was a priority. That was our first experience with Utah Mormons. Not as bad as I had been warned, but one lady however was a bit leaning towards the Utah side of things when she was observing Jason, who was trying to wrestle down both boys who were anxious to run! I couldn't blame them, they had been cramped in a motel room for a week and it was too cold to play outside since we didn't have all the clothes that we needed for the winter yet. She stopped Jason after sacrament to tell him how to be a father and that if it were her kids she would have done such and such to punish them to teach them respect. Yikes!! She meant well, and that's all I had to see it as, but if she knew even half of the ordeal that those poor boys have gone through then I doubt she would have ever opened her mouth. I decided to laugh it off instead of being offended. It took Jason a bit longer to laugh it off, but he finally did. After sacrament the bishop of that ward wanted to meet us and know our story. We told him everything and where we were living and how we were still looking for a place to live, but with Jason not working it was near impossible to find a place. After that meeting, I walked out and was standing around trying to figure out which way first hour class was, when this girl walked by and I noticed that her hair was amazingly gorgeous!! I have no idea what prompted me to stop her but I did and I am so glad that I did! I stopped her and told her that her hair was to die for! She was so sweet and said thank you and we talked hair for a solid 10 mins or so. She introduced herself as Ashlee Roberts then asked if we were new and I told her our story on how we were there temporarily and that we were in the Motel 6 down the street. Her eyes widened (the usual reaction to that part of the story) then she said "How can I help you? Do you have food? Do you have a washer machine? Both to which we hesitated in answering honestly since we didn't want to burden anyone with the truth. She read us like a book and then insisted we come to dinner and that she will stop by and pick up all of our laundry so that she could do it all for us at her house. My Jaw hit the floor. How could anyone be so charitable?? I wanted to cry right then and there because we were practically sleeping on all of our dirty clothes since the washer machines at the motel were either all broken, or taken! A couple days later Ashlee returns to our motel room with baskets and baskets of our clean laundry! She had folded them all!! She with Jason's help brought them all in and helped us put them away in boxes and the small dresser we had. It was such a tender mercy to have fresh clothes that were easy to find for us and the boys. We wanted to thank her so we told her to get her 3 boys her husband and to join us for dinner at our favorite restaurant Hire's Big H (It was my Grandma's favorite place to eat when she was alive and lived in Utah). Ashlee had a friend over that day and we invited her over as well! That dinner date was the funnest to date! The food was of course to die for and the company and conversations are still some of the best we have had!
After dinner we all talked for a good couple of hours about all of our life stories. Both Ashlee and I have TONS in common and could really relate to one another. Something I rarely get in a friendship since nobody has suffered the way we had during childhood. We became best friends that night and we have been best friends ever since. Ashlee and Jeff are seriously some of the best people I know! Jeff and Jason get along SO amazingly and of course their 3 boys who are the same ages as my boys just make the perfect family for us! Heavenly Father is so clever when it comes to having certain people meet. I mean it all started with a prompting about wanting to touch her flawless hair! I mean who does that?? LOL
While all of our living quarters shenanigans were happening, Jason was attending classes at the Employment center the Church operates. While there Jason mentioned to the group, part of our story and where we were currently living. Out of the blue a guy from the group who was also looking for a job stops Jason and tells him that he has a house that needs some repairs and a good paint job before he rents it out. He said that if he was interested we could rent the top half of the house for free with half utilities in exchange for fixing it all up! Jason got back from that day of job searching, threw me and the boys in the car and raced up the mountain. That's when he showed me one of the largest houses I had seen and asked if I would like to live in that house. After laughing for a bit I realized he wasn't kidding. He told me about the guy who stopped him and how we could rent it for free if we worked hard at repairing the house. We were confident that we could do that since we just repaired, patched and repainted our entire house we owned in Arizona before moving out. We agreed and moved in right away! He gave us around 3 months of free rent while we worked. We thought that the repair and paint work would be easy, considering the work we had done on our house, but the day he walked us through the house we realized just how badly it go beaten up. He had 3 boys who, during their parents recent separation, decided to take their anger out on all the walls of that house. Top to bottom. One room looked like someone took a hammer to it for a good hour. Another room contained quite possibly an entire bucket load of boogers smeared on every single inch of that bedroom and continued in the hallway. Another room had more holes, some fist size, plus wall paper that the owner wanted removed flawlessly. The entire stair banister he wanted re-stained. The 25ft. ceilings he wanted repainted. All of the baseboards he wanted repainted. The entire kitchen and living room he wanted fixed up and painted. Including all the millions of kitchen cabinets re-stained. All the bathrooms in the house repaired, cleaned and painted. All of this plus MANY other requests that kept coming during our entire stay. What we felt was a huge blessing (and was for the most part), QUICKLY became a nightmare! Jason and I have great work ethic. We worked hard on that house, however Jason left everyday to the job search classes so the bulk of the work fell on my shoulders. It was stressful to say the least. Then fast forward a few month when we finally finished, the owner came to investigate our work and he was not happy with any of it. None. May I just add before you start thinking that we did a crap filled job, we did an AMAZING job given what we were up against! I filled every single bloody hole that was in that house and painted every single wall and floor board imaginable!! And lets not forget about the thousands of boogers I had to scrap off the walls before I could paint them!!!! The wall paper was taken off flawlessly with NO residue and the room that someone got hammer happy with, was now in pristine condition! It looked like a million dollar home by the time we were done with it, and this jerk-off pressed his slimy nose, LITERALLY pressed his nose up against each wall looking for any imperfection he could find to show once more his chauvinist side which nearly a week into moving into that house reared its ugly head. Anything I said ANYTHING at all he would in some way or another discredit it with his much more "knowledgeable" side of the situation, sometimes not even letting me finish my sentence. Arguing with me on every subject. Near the middle of our stay Jason and I noticed that the owner was getting extremely close to me when he would talk to me. He would break our agreement of staying downstairs in his part of the house unless he knocked on the door to come in and get something. Now he started to just walk in. I was home alone and this freaked me out. Showers ONLY happened when Jason got home. The boys slept in our room the entire 3 months because he started becoming extremely creepy and I did NOT trust him and didn't want my kids even a foot away from me. Near the end of our stay Ashlee came over to help me pack some boxes and the owner was up there with us. It was uncomfortable but it was HIS house so I couldn't say anything, and he acted like he knew that, full power in his hands. He was addicted to power. Ashlee was behind me in the hallway when I went into the laundry room to pack it up, the moment I walked in the owner quickly ran in right behind me! It was scary and I snapped around quicker then the speed of sound to face him so there was nothing going on without me facing it defensively. Ashlee who saw that very odd behavior was right behind him within seconds! She had heard all my suspicions of him and his closeness but this was just WAY too close for comfort. He didn't have a reason to be in there. Ashlee was dumbfounded and utterly scared for me and was on defense mode right behind him ready to attack if anything happened. We packed up the boxes much faster after that. Jason decided to stay home from that moment on. So finding a job was delayed. He wanted to get out of there as fast as we could!! There was no wonder in my mind at all why the owner was in the middle of a separation. Not a question at all. All I could think about the one and only time I met his wife was "Run honey, and run fast!!!" He is narcissistic, chauvinist, prideful, lazy and absolutely creepy. We are still grateful we had a place to stay but looking back it was probably his parents who he lived with downstairs that actually made it a blessing in the end. We believe they were the ones who paid for the rest of our utilities bills when we left because we have still yet seen the last $1,000 bill that we keep asking for.
Back at Christmas time when Christmas day was approaching while still living in the rental house, Jason had still not found a decent job. We were using our credit cards sparingly. We had a feeling we would have to skip out on Christmas. It was a sad thought but we kept ourselves busy. As Christmas approached Ashlee asked if we had a Christmas tree, we of course said no. She then proceeds downstairs when we were at her house one night and tells Jeff to bring up their spare tree. She said it was ours if we wanted it. It was nice to have a tree for Christmas! I even unpacked most of the Christmas lights and ornaments and decorated the house and tree! The week of Christmas came and the relief society president stopped by and wanted to see the progress of the house so far, since she knew exactly what the before product looked like, and who we were living with. She was impressed with our hard work and warned me greatly of the owner which I had already started to have my suspicions with at that point! She sat me down while Jason was gone again and the boys were upstairs watching a show. She asked me straight if we had anything for Christmas. I told her that I was planning on making treats for presents and maybe dollar store gifts. She got up, said "Thank you for being honest" gave me a hug and walked out. A couple of days later the relief society presidency came to our door once again when Jason was gone. They sat me down and asked me all about what the boys loved and were into at that age. They asked me if we had any more winter clothes for them then the ones I picked up at DI. They asked a few more questions then left. Christmas Eve came and in the morning the doorbell rang. On the front porch was 20 or so wrapped up gifts with a man who was walking back to his truck which was full of more wrapped presents. He said "Merry Christmas!" Then proceeded to go get us the rest of the presents. I'm pretty sure I cried. A lot. Jason was shocked as well probably more then me since he wasn't home to hear all of the questions I was asked. I understood that they were up to something but I assumed 1 or 2 presents each for the boys which I was MORE then grateful for! But this was just amazing!! We quickly brought in all the presents and locked them in the office so the boys wouldn't see! That night we did our family tradition of watching "It's A Beautiful Life" by the fireplace on our sleeping bags. This time we ordered a pizza and fell asleep feeling amazing. Once the boys fell asleep Jason and I snuck all the presents under the tree. It took awhile.
Christmas morning the boys woke up. Their faces still make me smile! They were so shocked that there were so many presents for them! They had 2 new sleds, a brand new tricycle, toys galore and brand new clothes!! Winter coats, pants, shoes and hats as well as jammies, and regular outfits! They were in heaven!! Jason and I got a few presents as well! A nice coat for each of us as well as a few new outfits. Sometime that day Jason and I checked the mail which we hadn't done in awhile and to our shock there were Christmas cards for us from people in the ward and some that were anonymous ones all which contained cash and gift cards of all varieties! We just felt so beyond blessed and thanked in a way from our Heavenly Father for doing so many hard things this entire journey that he wanted to show that He was still in control and loved us and showed His appreciation for working off of blind faith. It was the best Christmas to date!
As we were coming to the end of our rental agreement in mid February, Jason the boys and I were packing up our stuff and taking it down to our new apartment (YAY!!!) in shifts. During one of our shifts I saw that Christian was being kind of sluggish and whinny. I figured he was getting sick so I put him up in the master bedroom with Kaden to rest and watch some shows (with the door locked on the inside so Mr. Happy didn't come in unexpectedly and without our knowledge), while Jason and I loaded a few more boxes into the van to take down. After packing up the boxes we loaded the boys and put the car in gear. No more then 10 seconds and 3 feet driven into our journey, the hair on the back of my neck rose. I heard a noise I was all to familiar with. A gargle noise of sorts. I swung around in my seat as quick as I could to see Christian in a full blown seizure. I screamed at Jason to stop the car!!! He somehow got to Christian before I did and got him out of his car seat and flipped him to his left side making sure there was nothing in his mouth or throat he could choke on, (call it second nature for us since Christian has had seizures sine 9 months old). I grabbed my phone from my seat and dialed 911. I heard "911 What's your emergency?" then 3 beeps and the line went dead. Frantic I called again but this time the call failed!! Jason then tried on his phone but same thing, dropped call. I ran like a bat out of hell through the 3 feet of snow down the mountain to our neighbors house and banged on the door! I startled her by hyperventilating and somehow forced the words "Call 911 now, its Christian" out. She called while I ran back up the mountain to see Jason siting in the snow on the phone with a very limp Christian in his lap. He had finally gotten through to 911 and paramedics were on their way. Christian was no longer seizing but was in such a sleep like state from the amount of energy seizures take from him. When the paramedics got there Christian was talking but very faintly, and was extremely weak. Our neighbor who I ran down too took Kaden for us for the day so we could both go to the hospital with Christian. The paramedics asked us what hospital we wanted to go to and we both looked at each other dumbfounded. We had practically lived at Phoenix Children's Hospital in Arizona when Christian was a baby and having multiple seizures but now living in a new state we had no idea what hospitals were even around us! Our neighbor who luckily was still by our sides told us to go to Primary Children's since it is all about kids there and it is one of the best children hospitals in the country. We were relieved she was there to help. Thank you Heavenly Father.
We were in the hospital for a week since just a day prior to his seizure I had taken Christian to the doctors for an odd lump I found on his neck. They sent us home with no answers. The next day is when he had the seizure. So since he still had a crazy looking lump on his neck that was in fact getting much larger and the seizure that took place, they kept us there and ran multiple tests on him trying to determine if it was once again another febrile seizure. We thought that he was in the clearing! Doctors said when he was a baby that by age 4 he would grow out of them. He had just turned 4 in December and hadn't had a seizure for nearly 2 years at that point. So to experience what we experienced in the driveway of our rental house was nothing more then a huge shock. It was devastating since now the chances for epilepsy, we were being told (even though he tested clean for it years back) were much more likely. On top of testing for what caused such an out of the blue seizure, doctors were also extremely concerned about that lump on his neck, and what it had to do with a seizure if anything. I being his mom and a worse case scenario type personality, convinced myself it was a tumor in his neck, and it would eventually kill him. This did not help my state of mind at all. We spent a week in the hospital and for the better half of that visit we had zero answers but hundreds of doctors coming in and out. We even had a whole group of doctors with students they were mentoring to show them a case that was rare (the case being our son) and allowing the students get up close to examine Christian and make assessments of their own to see if they, when in their profession, could diagnose a similar situation. "Great" I thought "no one truly knows whats wrong with him and now they are allowing everyone to come and try to figure it out". Christian was a good sport during it all. He flirted with all the nurses who melted the moment they walked into our room. He was spoiled. He sweet talked his way into getting anything he wanted! All the movies he could ask for, extra chocolate milk, ice cream and even one nurses stethoscope. But then there were times he did not want to play along. He was given a new shot and IV every couple of hours which meant in the dead of night, when he finally got a chance to fall asleep, they would wake him up by giving him a new IV! I counted 17 in 3 days alone. I was personally getting SO sick of it for him! I will admit I got feisty with the nurses. Mama bear was there to stay. Luckily the hospital had an incredible toy room with toys from floor to ceiling! Christian was in heaven and would always ask if he could go to the toy room after his shots and medications. When Kaden would visit for family days he was just as ecstatic about the toy room. It was good to feel somewhat normal for an hour everyday when we would go, sometimes multiple times a day.
Near the end of our visit we were assigned the BEST nurse ever!!! She fell in love with Christian and she was just amazing. She would bring him toys he could take home and then sneak him some extras to give to Kaden! At one point she even got Christian out of his bed at about 11:00pm and put him on her office chair and ran him down the hallway at full speed! Oh the laughter that came from him still to this day brings the biggest smile to my face! She was breaking all the rules at that point because she too was so frustrated that we had no answers but had a 4 year old with bruises up and down his arms from all the shots and IV's and a teeter totter game between different doctors on if Christian was a candidate for surgery to drain his lump. Jason and I didn't love the thought of surgery but we wanted the lump taken care of fully so we were praying for the surgery. So to be told yes then no back and forth about 20 times, was just an emotional roller coaster that I wanted to get off of. Kaden was visiting at the time of the office chair rides and he got a few runs up and down the long hospital hallways as well. We probably woke up half the hallway of sick kids and parents but most of them that peered around their doors ended up laughing. We all in some light had cabin fever and a silent understanding for one another. Nobody complained.
We were finally given the green light on surgery to drain the lump on Christian's neck which now doctors were calling an absess. Which in short, is a pocket of infection and fluids that collect in the neck. They didn't think it was large enough yet to do surgery on but they also came to the conclusion that it was no longer getting any bigger or smaller so they decided to get us out of limbo and see if surgery would help it out. I was a ball of nerves when they finally put him to sleep in my arms. My brain was going a mile a minute thinking "What if he doesn't wake up?." I got back to our hospital room and just sat for the 2 hours doing nothing but worrying and praying. They finally wheeled him back up, he was awake and in such a drunk like state from the anesthesia, it was hilarious! They said everything went well and that they were able to drain some of the fluids. I was relieved. They told us that the lump should be able to go down by itself now, with the assistance of all his meds he had already been taking to fight it. The next hour was a fun one since we got to talk to a very loopy 4 year old! It was great fun! You better believe I recorded every minute of it for future black mail!
Christian wheeled in moments before his surgery.
We were finally able to take Christian home and boy did that feel so great! Within the next week his absess deflated and healed. It was such a relief because by the time that I spotted it to the time of the hospital visit it went from being the size of a marble to the size of a large grapefruit!! Even though we had an answer and solution to the absess we were still left without answers as to what and why the seizure had taken place.
After getting home Jason and I now were stressed about what that visit did to us financially. Jason still had not found a job, we had zero insurance and to top it all off our credit cards were dwindling. We were stressed to say the least. At one point as the bills started flooding in, we realized that with all the bills so far combined, they were already well over $30,000. I told myself "Whatever it took to save my sons life, is well worth it" and I held true to that. I prayed we would find a way to pay it in full. At one point Jason was seriously considering filing bankruptcy, but I just could not feel right about that. We then applied for state assistance, and realized that the hospital we stayed at had a donation program for those who were in similar situations like ours with no insurance or money to pay for the outstanding bills. You apply for it and if you qualify you get a certain % off of your total bill all which was provided by donations that were given to the hospital throughout the year. We were grateful when we qualified the first round for 50%. We are hoping to re-apply due to the hospitals request to see if the other 50% could get covered. Such a blessing either way!!!
Throughout all of these massive trials Jason and I started realizing something incredible. We started calling it our "Accelerated Spiritual Learning Program" a collision course given to us from our loving Heavenly Father who knows our potential and knows that we are capable of handling a lot in such a small time frame because he knew that the lessons and gifts (which I will call blessings) that we were being given would be considered gold to us. And they are. Here are the lessons we have already learned in just this 1 year alone...
Blessing #1: The Miscarriage: Finally coming to an understanding that my Heavenly Father loves me and I can lean on him and trust in Him fully in any situation especially in devastating times. My faith in him has never been stronger.
Blessing #2: Moving to Utah: We left everything because we were told to. Our house, sold our second car, sold all of our furniture, left all of our friends, left a well paying comfortable job with all the luxuries of it, and moved with nothing to nothing. But we did it willingly because I said I would do anything if He saved me from depression which I battled throughout my life. Once while driving home from a doctors appointment checking up on how my body was healing from the miscarriage, I remember thinking, "I have already been saved from depression, look at me I have already miscarried the baby, survived the major complications and am happy to be happy! So? Heavenly Father, what exactly is the point of Utah??" As I sat there and pondered a while, I had another whisper in my ear, similar to the one I was given in the ultrasound room when the technician just delivered the bad news. The whisper said "Because that is where you will bloom. If you stay in Arizona you will wilt and die never gaining anymore growth. Moving you to Utah will provide you with the experiences you need to be able to plant your seed and it will take a healthy root, sprout into a bud, and when the time is right will bloom to the most amazing of flowers. This is why you are needed in Utah Melissa. To Bloom." This took me back a bit... it was just a question rumbling around in my head, I was still committed to going 100% but I just never really knew why and this answer when it was provided made me cry. It filled my soul with great joy. I didn't know what I needed to "bloom" in exactly but I knew from blessing #1 that I had full faith in my Heavenly Father to do what is best for me.
Blessing #3: The Rental House: This blessing took a LONG time for me to recognize since what we experienced in the rental house was nothing short from Hell. Start to finish. However hindsight is quickly becoming another lesson in my "Accelerated Spiritual Learning Program" It does wonders to a soul in case you missed the blatantly obvious blessing in the moment. haha. That rental house was a huge challenge but with great challenge comes great reward. Work ethic was our blessing from that trial. I have such greater work ethic then I had before because I never gave up on that pathetic excuse of a house. I didn't do a half energy job on it either, I put my all into fixing up that house and it showed! (Although the owner would tell you otherwise. Insert eye roll here.) I left feeling proud of my work. I felt accomplished and had gained a huge advantage for my future. Another petal to my Bloom if you will.
Blessing #4: Living poor: We became poor as dirt. State assistance, bishops assistance, no job, no insurance, no proper clothes, or food, or necessities. State assistance dropped us due to miscommunication between 2 state assistance companies who are dumber then dirt. We tried fighting it since we knew where the problem was but we were dropped anyway to fend for ourselves. Bishop was very helpful but even he started wondering what was going on with Jason and a job. He tired to hide his concerns for continuing help for us, but we picked up real quickly on his doubts. We couldn't blame him since the situation we were in continued to get worse as time went on, and we know his responsibility is to balance the Church's funds. We started paying for our own food to cook so we didn't have to lean on him so heavily making it seem we were just moochers off of free handouts. As well to be able to make me fully healthy food I could eat and finally lose the miscarriage weight with. We used every last penny of our credit cards. We took out our 4O1K to pay down a huge chunk of bills. Glad we did but hated that we had to. We had no furniture to sit or sleep on or put our stuff away in, one car that was breaking down horribly, at times no place to call our own, and the worse was at times food was scarce. My boys would ask me to eat and I had to say we don't have anything right now. This was mentally taxing on all of us. However even at the worse times Jason and I would say after every new "poor" situation that would arise in our faces (And there are more then you think!!) "The moment we are more settled and comfortable financially, we will give more to people who are in similar situations. We now know exactly how it feels and it would help them out tremendously! We will make this trial a blessing whether this is the reason we are going through it or not." We are already making that plan a reality. We still are scraping by but we help those we can when we can. Charity IS and WILL always be a huge part of our lives because we went without for so long. It was very clear to us that we were suppose to hit rock bottom, not because of a stupid decision on our end to just up and move with no real plan, like some of my aquatints on facebook had stated, but because Heavenly Father wanted to plant a deep root in our souls to always know how people are feeling when they are struggling, whether financially or not. To feel so low that when someone shows a small or large act of charity towards them it changes their world and gives them enough umph to make it through another day, month or year! Our Christmas experience as well as Ashlee doing all of our laundry during her busy days of being a mom to 3 boys, provided me with that passion to serve. That is why we were asked to up and leave "As soon as you can." Our blessing is a deep rooted passion for charity. I wouldn't change a single thing.
Blessing #5 and #6: Finding exactly who my friends are...: This one may offend some of you, I hope not, but it may if those that doubted me and made it very public are still reading. This blessing started the day I thought my son died. It was a couple months after our grand hospital extravaganza that started in the driveway of the rental house. This time we were at a friends house. I was painting one of her bedrooms since she asked if anyone could help her. Since blessing #3 and #4 were provided me I told her I would love to help her paint! Halfway through painting, her son came running upstairs telling us that Christian threw up! I ran downstairs and noticed that Christian was sitting on the couch really sluggish. I, now in high alert looking for signs of seizures, felt his head and asked him questions. I determined that we were very very close to having a seizure since he had a fast onset to a fever he didn't have this morning as well as sluggishness and loss of appetite, usual signs to beginning stages of a seizure. I rushed home with him to lay him down on the couch to watch him and make sure he was alright. I gave him some ibuprofen to cool his now quickly rising fever. He fell asleep and took a really good nap. I was relieved. Once he woke up I felt his head again and his fever had broke and he was full of energy! I asked him if he wanted to go to home depot with me to cut some wood for a table I was making. He LOVED helping me with the table, so he was more then happy to come help! We walked into home depot and someone was at the front door handing out free water! We both took one and proceeded to pick out all the wood. He was good at helping me get all the wood down to the cutting table. We rounded up an employee to come help us make all the necessary cuts. We sat there handing him all the boards to measure and cut for us. Half way through the wood cutting process I looked down at Christian who had suddenly looked pale and had lost tons of energy. I rushed to him and felt his head. His fever was back and I knew I was in trouble. I didn't have any medicine to give him and left the emergency seizure medicine in a different purse at the house. I starting thinking on my feet I went and got my ice cold water bottle I was given and started poring the water on my hand and putting it on Christian's neck and forehead praying that it would cool him down. I wanted to just leave home depot but I didn't think I was going to make it home in time to get him medicine, and I didn't want to look back while driving and seeing him seizing again. I sat on the ground cooling Christian off with my water all while the very loud saw was going on in the background with the employee distracted with all the cuts he had to still do for us. By the time Christian started acting more like himself with a little more energy and feeling cooler, I let him sit on the wood cart and cross off all the cuts we had finished. I got up and gave the last few pieces of wood to the employee. It only took me 1 minute to do this and by the time I turned back around it was just in time to see Christian's eyes roll back in his head as he started falling backward off of the wood rolling cart in a full blown seizure. I fell to the floor and caught his head right in time before it smashed onto the ground. I held him on his left side. Quickly I dialed 911 but just like up on the mountain my 911 call dropped and wouldn't allow me to call back! I was frantic to get help but since the saw was still blasting as loud as can be through the entire store with the employee wearing earplugs and totally distracted, I had zero help! Then Christian's seizure took a very unexpected turn. He started to turn blue! He stopped breathing!!! This had never happened before! I knew I had to act quickly. I shrieked as loud as I could to get anyone's attention! "HEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME, HE IS DYING!!!!!!!" No mom should ever have to scream anything like that, ever. Luckily the employee cutting the wood stopped just in time to turn around to ask me if the cuts looked right. He looked over at the now dyer situation with me on the ground holding a blue seizing 4 year old with tears down my face. He threw the wood on the floor causing such a loud noise as I screamed at him "PLEASE CALL 911 MY PHONE KEEPS DROPPING THE CALL!!" He frantically got his phone out of his pocket with shaking hands. He called 911 and was practically yelling into the phone to get them here ASAP! At this point we had the attention of the entire store and everyone was swarming. Christian was still blue but I could hear, during each seize, he was taking very weak small breaths. I didn't know if we could do CPR on a boy who was seizing so harshly, I wasn't trained for that. In fact my mind shut off completely in that moment, leaving me clueless on what to do. I am pretty sure I even forgot to breathe myself. Paramedic sirens were heard screaming down the road in the distance. They ran into the back of the store as fast as they could. By the time they arrived Christian has stopped seizing and was a tad more pink then before but he was completely asleep. Knocked out and I feared the worse. They snatched him from my arms and threw an oxygen mask on him. They got him fully pink again but he wasn't waking up which was something he always did after he stopped seizing. I didn't know if brain damage had happened. A shiver of guilt for not helping him breath more ran down my spine. It would be my fault if something drastic happened to him. As they got his heart beat stabilized they told me he was still in a seizure. It scared me to death!!!! It had already been past the recommended 5 mins of normal seizure behavior. They said he wasn't waking up because his brain was still seizing. I was an emotional wreck. They were doing all they could to snap him out of it. On our run back to the ambulance the manager of the store came running up to me asking all kinds of store liability questions, "did he fall off the cart and hurt his head then starting seizing, did he mess with any chemicals etc... etc... etc..." I was sick of all the questions because I couldn't' even see straight let alone answer extremely important liability questions that could potentially go to court to save this mans hide. I finally (more screaming then politely) said, "He just started seizing! Your store is safe! He just has a seizure condition!" and ran away from him and hopped into the ambulance. I knew he was more concerned for his store then he was for my boy's life and that just really pissed me off. During the ride to the hospital Christian had finally come to. He was very confused as to where he was. He still wasn't himself however. He had very slurred speech and kept rolling his eyes in the back of his head. I was scared there was something still seriously wrong. The paramedics tried all they could to reassure me that this was normal behavior after such a serious seizure. We got to the ER and we were greeted with what seemed like 30 or so doctors, nurses and neurologists. They swarmed around christian hooking him up to IVs and all sorts of other tests. They took his oxygen mask off so he could breath on his own to see if he was capable in doing so now. I was pushed to the side to just observe. It was horrible. I was finally guided to a seat and they moved Christian to a regular hospital bed from his gurney. He was awake and cranky now! Screaming and not wanting to be covered in tubes and wires with 30 different people looking at him with his mom no where in sight! I tried to stand up and talk to him so he knew I was there but doctors needed me to sit out of the way. I suggested put on a cartoon to see if that would help, which it did. It was not 5 minutes into the ER visit when all the sudden under the watch of so many doctors, I watched in horror as Christian's body started going blue and stiff as a board! I didn't know what was going on!! He wasn't moving at all! He was at least seizing when he started turning blue in Home Depot. This this was something much worse. I was witnessing my son dying. All his limbs were stretched out straight and clenched as tight as they could go, with all his muscles popping out. Then like a chameleon his entire body turned blue then purple. My world was spinning downward and I couldn't do a thing to go hold my baby. The room filled with all kinds of alarms and more and more doctors swarmed in. It was chaos and I just sat there spinning. A part of me knew this was the last time I would see Christian as alive as he could be and so I frantically pulled my phone out and took pictures. It was dumb I know but those were my last moments in my brain that I would be with my boy. Doctors kept yelling out instructions that were a foreign language. The oxygen mask went back on but much more forcefully! They slammed it on his face and were holding it down on him with their full body weight. I wanted to scream "GET OFF YOU'RE HURTING HIM!!" But I was paralyzed in fear. More shouts rang in the room "Clock it!!" "5 mins past!", a few more minuets past with more shouting "Clock it!" "We are at 8mins past!" the more time that seemed to go by the more frantic the doctors became!! They were trying everything they could think of to kick him out of this stiff, blue state. They shot him with meds, sprayed stuff up his nose, and stuck emergency medicine up him bum, yet nothing was helping. Finally after the 10min clock in was shouted, Christian's entire body went limp. Everything just smacked down on his bed. His color started coming back to him but none of this really eased my mind. What had just happened? What was that all about? A nurse came up to me and asked how I was doing, I stumbled out a sentence that made no sense. More of a mumble then anything. My brain was in shock and I forgot how to talk. She decided to do the talking for me. "Christian is now stable, this was a seizure but a different level then the ones I assume you are used to. We had to give him a lot of medicine to kick him out of it. Since we gave him such large doses he will be asleep for a couple of hours while his body adjusts and comes back too. We need to keep an eye on him now that his seizures have taken on a much worse form, so we will be admitting him into the hospital." I tried calling Jason but surprise surprise my phone dropped the call. I finally got through to him and with an extremely shaky voice told him what had happened. I broke down when I got to the part when I knew I was watching my son pass away. I was uncontrollable and he told me he would be there soon and I could tell him then. I finally had a chance to go see Christian. He was limp and completely knocked out. I kissed his check which was not his usual warm. They walked us back to our room. Jason came in and held me so tight! He walked over to Christian and started talking to him. "Hey buddy, daddy's here now. You are safe, and so strong. We love you bud ok? Do you know that? Mom and I love you so much!" He then ran his fingers in his hair and kissed his forehead. Hours and hours went by with doctors in and out checking on his progress. Through the hours that passed I could read on the doctors faces more and more concern when they would come in and he was still not awake. They then started trying to force him to wake up. They started with nudging him and saying his name. When that didn't work they stared tickling, pinching even slightly slapping his face. Another hour passed and I could tell they were getting frantic, even thought they tried to hide it from us. They brought in some vibrators, and ice packs. They put the ice packs on his arms and legs and then when that didn't work, slapped it on his face. Momma bear was out again. I wanted to ripped the ice from her hands and slam it in her face to see how that made her feel! "Knock it off!!!" I thought! I must have started to squirm with anger because Jason who can read my body language really really well, wrapped his arm around me and held me tight to his side. He knew what I was capable of doing once a thought came into my mind, so he held on even tighter.
Christian had been saving up for a ninja turtle car seat that I had mistakenly showed him one day months prior. It was all he could talk about. So instead of getting frustrated at him and shutting him up from a dream of his, since we had nowhere near the money to buy that for him. I decided instead to have him work for something of his very own. I tried to use that experience as a learning one. I told him that if he started doing some chores as well as being nice to Kaden then every time he accomplished something I would give him a few coins for him to save up for the car seat. He was ecstatic and it was the best teaching moment ever!! He saved up every little penny he could! He worked so hard at getting his room clean and to say sorry to Kaden if he forgot how to be nice. He saved up a whopping $4!! He was so proud! But then that day came when I thought his little life was lost. I was desperate to get him back. After the 10min seizure that nearly took his life he was in a coma like state for 8 hours after, with no real knowledge if brain damage had occurred. I was devastated that he could come back to us different if he came back to us at all. As the doctors tried for a few hours to wake him, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to bring him back to us healthy and thriving. After the ice pack incident I decided to try whispering in his ear that mommy and daddy were here and that it was ok to wake up now. But he just didn't wake up. A few more hours passed, and after even more failed attempts to wake him, doctors and nurses were getting even more aggressive with their wake up attempts and if I could have sunk any more lower in misery I did. There was something wrong with him and I feared the worse. I feared that he was in a coma and we would never see his beautiful eyes again. His sweet and spunky personality was now lost to a life of slumber. Before I abandoned all hope I realized I had one more thing to try to wake him with. I had just photographed a wedding a few days before the incident and the $300 was still in my wallet. I whipped it out, forced it into Christian's hand and told him "Christian, mommy got the money for your ninja turtle car seat, she made it just for you! But if you want your car seat then you have to wake up. If you wake up right now I will order it immediately! Please wake up Christian, please..." Less then an hour later, Christian started fluttering his eyes. He was slowly waking up, as he started to talk more the first thing he said that was actually clear enough to understand was "Ninja turtle car seat mom?" I started crying, handed him the money and told him I was ordering it right now!! This I know was the reason that woke him up. I will never, not once regret that decision. That $300 could have been extremely helpful in paying down some bills but its what woke my son up and for that I am forever grateful.
The blessing of this story comes a few days after we received the car seats. I had posted a few pictures of Christian and Kaden's reactions to their car seats since I bought Kaden one as well since he too was saving up for his own like Christian, and I didn't want him to feel left out. In that same week my friend Jessica had asked if she could please set up a GoFundMe for us, which is a donation site to help those in need. I agreed since anything at that point with now 2 long hospital stays and many other little ones here and there were under our belts with still no insurance. I was grateful for her willingness. Also in that same week I was online looking for free or cheap furniture to use since we were all sleeping on the floor and had nowhere to sit. We had just got our tax return back and we decided that 80% of it would go towards bills and the other 20% would go towards food and used furniture. I was finally feeling a little more normal since I found a couch for free off of KSL and a table to eat on instead of boxes, along with a bed off of a facebook sale page, that was broken and dirt cheap, I knew since blessing #3 that my work ethic could easily fix it. I had found a few other things on Facebook sale pages that were nothing special at all but a necessity. Most of my time on facebook sale groups I would spend commenting on posts to see how much things were and if I could bargain with the seller. I guess most of my comments on sale groups would show up in my facebook news feed. Which made it look like I was buying everything under the moon. So when a "Friends" facebook status showed up blaring in my face on my news feed one happy day, I was quickly devastated, embarrassed, felt like dirt, and really started feeling like a piece of crap in the eyes of facebook and my friends. The status (although I know exactly word from word what it said) said something along the lines of "Cant stand people who claim that they are poor, ask for our help but then spend loads on furniture and un-needed items." My life after finally somewhat getting pieced back together again was shattered in that moment. I cried for a week straight. The worse part about that status whether it was aimed towards me directly or indirectly, is that most of my facebook friends had "Liked" the status or commented on it agreeing fully with this individual. I thought I had hit my lowest of lows between losing everything and seeing my son die right in front of my eyes. But I was wrong, this was much lower. I wanted to scream at this person, set them straight!! If they only knew half of our situation then they would have never said anything so vial. The un-needed items were of course the car seats but those saved my sons life and were needed more then life support itself as far as I am concerned. Furniture was bought used, stained, ripped, and broken to get it for free or for dirt cheap. Did I like that? No. Would you like sitting and sleeping on other peoples piss?? Didn't think so. But I did it anyway because that was all circumstances allowed. It wasn't like I was spending all my money and donation money on brand new furniture. I was asking for money because my friend had wanted to do a kind service. I was distraught and broken. Jason was pissed. I decided before I said anything that I would also regret, I decided to un-add this individual from my life and from my facebook. I told Jessica to stop the GoFundMe so that there were no more misunderstandings. I didn't want anymore horrible assumptions. She did with a sad heart. Even after so many months from that experience I still feel the stings so horribly. But Heavenly Father always takes bad situations and whether he meant for this trial to happen or not he flipped the bad into a good. From this experience I realized who exactly were my committed friends whether they donated or not, who love me for me, who don't judge me no matter the situation. I realized that the handful amount of friends compared to the 300+ people I had on facebook were more precious to me then life itself. To know that I had pure loving friends was a knowledge worth more then gold to me. The bonus blessing from this experience was that those judgements didn't stop at that one individual, I had many more present itself to me, so I finally made the ultimate decision to get off of all social media with the exception of my photography business page to update with my portfolio. I was no longer going to tell the world freely of my life. If they wanted to know then they could ask. I was addicted to social media, I put it above my own kids even. I was given a positive in the negative to start over again and to finally be present with my boys and not HAVING to show off what they were doing or for heaven's sakes what they were eating! For me social media created a false sense of being present with my family.Whether I was a great mom feeding them healthy foods (which is the only food I would post anyway to make myself look good), or after I realized I didn't want to be fake to people anymore I wanted to be real, and getting turned against so horribly. I realized I was done with it all. I was sick of it. It was all so fake with everyone putting up their best sides and everyone shaming those like me, who finally tried to be real, to show that life happens. I finally quit social media. Such a huge blessing to be free of the world and all of its funny mirrors! Thank you Heavenly Father for yet another petal to my Bloom. And truly truly thank you to all who helped donate to our fund or supported me in other ways, you will be forever loved and cherished. Thank you. And thank you to all my true friends out there who love me for me and support me in this crazy adventure. I appreciate you all so much more!!
Just some of the doctors desperately trying to get Christian to breath again.
Moments after Christian finally woke up after 8 hours of being in a coma like sleep.
Our furniture before our tax return....
Daddy and Kaden fixing the broken bed we got dirt cheap so we could sleep off of the floor.
And just so that you are all aware, yes... I did call into t-mobile and screamed at them threatening to sue since their crappppppy service nearly caused the death of my child TWICE because of multiple dropped calls. We immediately switched over to Verizon from that point on who have NEVER dropped any of my calls!
Blessing #7: PTSD: Yes, PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And before your mind even starts to go there, no not from the miscarriage. I have suffered with PTSD nearly my entire life. I didn't know of this until just 3 months ago when a string of events started happening unexplainably. When Jason and I had gotten pregnant with our 3rd before I miscarried him, my mind started doing something very very weird. I have never had panic attacks before but after finding out we were pregnant, panic attacks started becoming a daily occurrence until they were attacking multiple times a day. I counted 14 in one day. These attacks were not just a thought that I started freaking out about (like being a mom to 3 and freaking out that I couldn't manage it etc..) no these were attacks that affected me both mentally and physically. There were these images in my head that with them brought me such utter fear that my body started trembling. I would hyperventilate and at times stop breathing. I would shriek out for help even though Jason was right there holding me down telling me I was safe! He would quickly give me a blessing casting Satan out of my soul thinking I was being possessed or something since that is how I felt. The blessings helped but just for awhile. I sought out help from bishops thinking they may know, I even asked my councilor but no one understood. I feared for my baby's life and ran to the doctors to see if the baby was still alive because I felt like I was dying then surly the baby couldn't survive. After another ultrasound with a healthy heartbeat I started relaxing a bit, however the panic attacks were getting much worse. I finally had Jason take me to the ER to see if there was something they could diagnose me with but there was nothing they could do for me. Even after suffering a huge panic attack in the ER they just sat there looking at me like they didn't believe me. It was torturous. We went home clueless and a couple weeks later is when I learned the fate of my baby boy. He didn't make it through like I had feared. I truly started feeling the depression set in since I couldn't help but feel like I was solely responsible for causing his death. I couldn't get healthy enough for him. That is when my long journey to a bloom began. Heavenly Father with an answer to my pleading for help out of my depression, stopped those panic attacks from happening again. I could function finally without feeling like I was going to die every few minutes. Packing up to head to Utah helped my mind get distracted from any other potential attacks. I was grateful for that. However we never did get an answer to what they actually were. Not until that is when we were in the thick of trials here just 3 months ago....
Jason and I got pregnant again after trying for a few months. I didn't want to tell anyone out of fear I was going to lose the baby again. I realized I was pregnant because those horrible panic attacks started up again and I knew history was just about to repeat itself. We took a pregnancy test and I was excited but I was petrified I would lose this baby as well since the attacks were back. However this time, along with no answers I had no options to help me figure it out. That pregnancy only lasted 5 weeks, I miscarried in the ER. I was devastated. I wasn't sure I would ever get pregnant again, and that terrified me. Life just threw another curve ball and this one started to crack me. I was angry. I was angry at myself, I was angry at Heavenly Father, I was just flat out angry! I had enough!!!! Done with being poor, done with stupid hell like panic attacks, done with my blind faith that was getting me nowhere, done with no job, no insurance, no health practically, no food, no place to really call our own, no second car, no answers to anything, no real support here, crazy stares from people here and in Arizona judging us for out dumb "Random" move without knowing the truth or at least believing it, done with it all. Done. I hit rock bottom, or so I thought, blessing #8 proved that assumption very wrong. After a few days of cooling off and asking forgiveness for the many colorful words thrown towards Heavenly Father. I realized from blessings #1-#3 that I was strong. I could do this! I have come this far and I can keep moving forward. I just had to stop thinking that all was lost and that I was never going to get pregnant again. It was a thought that was too hard to think about. So I stopped thinking about it. It helped that we stopped trying.
Even though the 2nd baby had passed silently again, this time the panic attacks stayed. They were brutal. Then something very very petrifying happened. As more and more panic attacks kept hitting me at all hours of the day and night, getting woken up in a shear panic. I finally tried to think about what I was seeing and experiencing. Every time I would have a panic attack it ALWAYS seemed like a horrific memory I had once experience but was just a second away from remembering it. Imagine running into someone you haven't see in a long time. You get talking and the entire time you are so distracted with trying to figure out her name, it is literally on the tip of your tongue but you just can't think of it.... Doesn't that feeling just drive you NUTS!?! Now think of the most horrifying thing you have ever experienced in your life or witnessed and apply the same feeling of forgetting her name to it. Every single panic attack I have ever had was a haunting memory of some kind sitting at the tip of my tongue of remembrance but I can't remember the name or details of it, but my body remembers the trembling fear to it perfectly well. So you are reacting to the trauma you have, but your mind can never put a finger on what it actually is.... Its true torture. Drives you crazy. I was having so many that Jason went to bishop and asked if he could pay for a councilor for me because it was dramatically interrupting my life. He without hesitation agreed and we went right away. Trying to explain my panic attack to anyone even on here, is nearly impossible because you will never feel what I have felt. I just knew my councilor wouldn't figure it out. My councilor in Arizona wasn't any closer to an answer then I was. After a couple of sessions with her getting through my entire life story which is pretty messy, I went home after one session and that is when it happened. A massive panic attack took over my life and it flipped some invisible switch in my brain. After the panic attack faded I realized something was very very wrong. Jason was at his new job he just got, (Yay!) and I was home alone with the boys. I got off my bed where the panic attack took place and I started walking around. I realized very quickly I didn't know where I was. The boys came running into my room and hugged me, they were strangers to me. I, from the grace of God in some light knew that I was a wife and a mother but I did not know these children, just assumed that was who I was a mother too. I looked around our apartment and it was so foreign to me. I open the curtains to see outside hoping that would give me some clue but it only made things worse! "Mountains?" I thought to myself "we don't have mountains?? Where am I???." Jason got home and something told me he was my husband but he didn't seem familiar at all. It was just way too much to take in. I told Jason what was going on but I didn't know! He was extremely worried and tried to set up an emergency appointment with my councilor but she was busy or out of town. He asked me what I could remember. He asked me if my name Melissa Miller sounded familiar. I wanted to throw up, that was the most foreign thing he had ever said to me. He asked me again what I could remember and all I could think of was memories from when I was around the age of 7 years old. That was it. Even my maiden name Melissa McKendrick was more familiar to me then my married name. I was royally freaked out. I knew deep deep down inside that I had been married for 5 years and had 2 babies with Jason but that was NOT what was presenting itself to me in that moment, or the 5 days after that. I was desperate to find something that reminded me of my married life. I would go for drives looking around trying to remember but nothing helped. All that was fresh in my mind was my nightmare of a life I had when I was around the age of 7. I didn't want to think about those memories, I spent a life time trying to forget and move forward. But those were the only memories I had.
Around the age of 7 years old, I was sexually molested by multiple abusers. Most of them were older foster kids my parents were housing at the time. My life was a living hell for a very long time. I was threatened, abused, then threatened again. I was offered up as a peace offering to one of the foster kids oldest brother who came to visit every so often. It was never ending. It was a nightmare and it was all very avoidable if those kids never were welcomed in my house. After so long of getting abused I finally had enough and got sick of all the threats. I finally told. I wish I can say that solved everything but in some ways it made it much much worse. They weren't kicked out, they were still welcomed, reminding me everyday of my nightmare. I was forced to go to counseling and they were there with us waiting outside the door since they were not trusted at home. So counseling was a mess to say the least. Why open up fully to anyone when your nightmare was standing just feet away, most likely listening to every word you said through the door, and could potentially use it against you? Especially knowing their ever so horrifying threats could easily be put into affect since they weren't leaving. It was horrible. I am grateful that my parents tried to help me, but they did some things devastatingly wrong.
With these now fresh 7 year old memories coming to the surface in gruesome detail, I was desperate for anything to snap me back to my current life. I started yelling at my kids telling them to shut up, get out!! (Honestly I hated that I was doing this but couldn't stop). By the time I had the very real thought of kicking them in the face (luckily I had enough restraint to not act on it) I realized just what they were in my 7 year old mind. They were foster kids, unwanted foster kids since my 7 year old self hates foster kids. I had the very real urge to hurt them since that was what I started witnessing after divulging their sexual abuse to me. I told Jason to get me away from them because I hated them. He was so worried. Jason tired to hug and kiss me and I reflexed so fast pushing him so hard away from me. I realized in that moment my 7 year old brain recognized him as a sexual molesting threat! I in some light knew exactly what was going on even though it was extremely unexplainable. I was in the mindset of my 7 year old traumatized self. Something from my panic attacks had to do with it and I was stuck in a very traumatized and frankly dangerous state of mind. Both Jason and I were really scared. I begged with Heavenly Father to help me out of this, I couldn't stay in this state forever! Long story short, I was given the strength to walk through all of the memories in my brain without my councilor, realize that they were real, but that I was safe and that I had already made my way through that life and moved on to another one, that was well.
I thought really hard about what would help me kick this 7 year old mind set for good and I immediately thought "Family Days" So that's what we did. We went to an amusement park as a family and it did just the trick!! I was me again! I looked at my kids riding the fun roller coasters and realized who they were and that as a family we were having fun! I was their mom providing something fun for them which is what I do in my current state not as my 7 year old self. It was money we didn't have to spend on the amusement park but Jason was willing to hash out anything for my mental health. We went back to the amusement park every time I would feel myself falling back into my 7 year old brain. After nearly a week of this my councilor was finally available and we told her everything. She was AMAZED that I had snapped myself out of it. I was confused at her reaction since I thought this was something so unheard of, that it would cause her to be speechless after hearing it and wanted to not help me any longer since I was such a wreck to try and save. Someone resorting back to their little girl brain? What a wacko!! lol But she wasn't. That's when she said, "You are incredible!! People who have been so traumatized and snap back into the brain of the age they experienced the trauma at, sometimes never come back from it. You did so and in less then a week!! That's unheard of!" My jaw hit the floor. You mean to tell me I could have been permanently in a 7 year old state of mind?? That is when I asked her the most important question of my life "What causes this besides the trauma? Why now??" She had one very simple answer. "You have all the signs for having PTSD." It was like a fog had been lifted from my eyes that had made its place there nearly 20 years earlier that never left. "PTSD?" I said confused and she nodded. I just knew she was right. I just knew it! The fog lifted and that infamous hindsight started projecting in my head, of all the people in my family that have and continue to call me the "Angry One." (I loath that nick name) Seeing just how wrong they were! I asked my councilor if anger was a side effect to PTSD, and without hesitation she said "Very much so." I had a temper on me yes, I will never deny that, but to know that all this time it was caused by PTSD made me in a way giddy! I was not angry I was traumatized, the sexual molesting and witnessing horrific abuse on my parents end to the foster kids after I told, was far too much to take in when only 7 years old. I was the one who had to carry that and I didn't do it perfectly, I don't know any 7 year old who would! All those people I yelled at, I realized how sorry I was to them all! I was just trying to survive and they may have hit one of the many "triggers" I have to it totally unexpectedly! I realized in that moment why I was always more angry at home, because one of my adopted brother's was one of my abusers and he was never going to disappear, so I was going to be always fighting in a sense, for my life. He represented them all. At one point I even remember taking his picture down off of our family picture wall (which I hated looking at since his grisly face was always on it). I took his picture outside and I chucked it so hard trying desperately to shatter it into a million pieces. It felt amazing to throw that picture as hard as I could. It was out of the blue and not explainable until now. I was living in my trauma on a daily basis whether he was there or not. I of course got yelled at for chucking such a prized possession of a picture outside. This of course made me spit with anger at my dad who, in my brain was defending and loving my abuser. It didn't end well. It was a screaming match between my dad and I until my mom came in and kicked me out of the house without asking for any information on my end. I later was told by one of my sisters that mom was fuming and asked her why I was angry ALL the time. I was offended by my mom's comment to my sister but I never truly understood why. Hindsight snapped me back to that moment and I laughed. I laughed hard! I finally knew why!! I was still a bit offended even after knowing the truth because I felt as my mom, she should have known or at least took the time to investigate. But instead I was brushed to the side once again as the angry one. A common occurrence. The blessing came right after the diagnosis. I was given knowledge of my entire life! I felt free! I felt validated and loved since all that time being known and literally introduced to people as the "angry one" my past self just knew Heavenly Father did not like me. How could he? Everyone hated the angry one, how could he love it? It just again made me know with a burning knowledge that Heavenly Father loved me no matter what!! With that blessing came another one. It was an even stronger confirmation of a hard choice I made many months before getting pregnant, losing the baby and moving to Utah. I had cut my entire family out of my life for personal reasons that circled around the fact that my parents started fostering again, and most of the unacceptable behaviors on the fosters and my parents end started up again. I was drowning in trauma and horrific memories that subconsciously and consciously I was fighting, and HARD! I was a mother now and I felt a great desire to save my own kids from the personal hell I lived through. By the time a couple of the foster kids tried to attack Christian with a stake knife and possible sexual assaults I went to traumatized momma bear mode which was very scary. I don't fully blame the fresh batch of foster kids since they all had mental illnesses, but that still did not help my PTSD from crashing into my life, since they were still putting my kids in danger. I was a monster for such a long time to everyone in that house. The only person on my side was Jason even though at that time we didn't have the PTSD diagnosis. We just knew this was a dangerous war zone that I needed to get away from. There was alot more background drama and unfortunate behaviors on my parents end that I will spare you the details of. After the fog lifted with my diagnosis it was even more confirmed in my mind that I had made the right choice of leaving. I realized in that moment the reasons I cut them out definitely went hand in hand with my PTSD which was making it so much more extreme. It was affecting my mental and spiritual health as well as my physical health as I developed trichotillomania which is a stress/extreme anxiety disorder that occurs after traumatic events in ones life. Trich causes you to pull out all of your hair. For those of you who don't know, I have had this since age 15 since Trich starts taking a physical form (Picking) around the age of puberty, no matter when your traumatic event happened. I pick mostly my eyebrows but now my eyelashes which is my most recent development due to the family stresses. With all of the stress I was experiencing it was also affecting my relationship with my kids and husband. It was making everything else in my life spiral out of control and after getting sent to jail, yes... I Melissa Miller got sent to jail for a couple of nasty fights I had with Jason over blessing #8 (Soon to be explained). I realized the anger I was exerting to Jason was in fact not all fully his anger. Did he cause some hurt that produced anger? Yes, you bet, but to get to a point when I would hit red zone of my PTSD over a comparatively small situation was unexplainable until I had time to think in my jail sell as well as discussing it with my councilor. It was fully linked to a toxic situation with my family, and with the suggestion, help and guidance from my councilor and my Heavenly Father I cut all ties. I am proud to say by doing so, my life downward spiral has stopped and Heavenly Father sent me here to Bloom to create a better life for me and my little family. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, since I had to cut literally everyone out since my family is very unhealthy and would insert themselves in the drama when they didn't need to be in it in the first place. I understand fully that everyone needs family, but I had to do it. If I hadn't, I know for a fact the end results would have been devastating.
Blessing #8: Pornography: My husband is a wonderful man. Incredibly honest, trustworthy, handsome and committed to me, my boys and this amazing church. However when I first started dating Jason he had enlighten me that he had a pornography addiction since the age of 13 and that he was fully committed to kicking it for good. He had been clean for a year at that point and was even more committed to staying clean since he knew he wanted me in his life. (AWWW moment.)... He did an amazing job with staying clean. He had a few comparatively small slips with bikini commercials, t.v. shows and looking longer then a married man should at cute girls, throughout our marriage and I would be lying if I didn't say that they destroyed me (Hence jail time..... haha!). We hit a very rocky point in our marriage that nearly drove us to divorce too many times then I would like to admit. But I will because I am being real. After a couple of years of counseling for his addiction and my feelings of betrayal, anger, and sadness we were back up and running! However just a couple of month ago, after finally settling down a little bit from all the major trials we had been through, Jason came up to me and told me that he had slipped into pornography a few times in the last couple of days. My world flipped upside down again. Those 7 years of being clean from pornography itself were wasted. I sank even lower then again I thought was even possible. I was six feet under at this point, if not much much lower. Before my diagnosis with PTSD all the small slips Jason would report to me I would fly off the handle in anger at him (hence the near divorce situations and my night in jail *cough cough*) I would go immediately into what I now call the red zone of my PTSD, which caused SO much anger that I would literally be blinded by anger, I would just be seeing red. I never wanted to be hurt sexually again and his slips were hurting me and feeding my PTSD in a very very bad way. It was a bad time....
Fast forward to the present day when Jason is now admitting that he has spent a few hours in pornography some right in my own home!! I was once again devastated. But I realized something after he told me. I, for the first time in my entire LIFE did not resort to the red zone first. In fact I never touched base with the red zone after his confession. I hit sadness first and told him in an even voice that I was hurt really badly. I have never been able to express my feelings like that before with a level head and no screaming and face slapping involved. I started crying and really started feeling how I actually felt about it before I even halfway blinded my mind with anger. Within minutes of him telling me, I turned to him after thinking a bit about how I will react to it. I prayed for comfort (Something I had learned from Blessing #1!) and then after calming my tears turned to him and said. "Jason I know this is not what you want or have ever wanted. I love you and I forgive you." WOW!!!!!! I was even shocked! I was so blessed to have been able to turn it around so fast, with no red zone anger (some call it "Melissa Crazy! ;) haha) and to really truly turn to my Lord for strength to 100% forgive Jason of such an awful choice!! Especially knowing my PTSD is mainly from getting hurt sexually again in any form. I am to this day grateful for that. Unfortunately (or fortunately for my spiritual growth) Jason had a few more slips, and I am proud to say that blessing #8 which was to truly come to an understanding of true forgiveness, was in full swing now! Within SECONDS of him telling me of his slips I would truly pray for help and strength and then look him in the eye and tell him that I forgive him. I would even venture out and say that blessing #8 is a miracle in disguise. We nearly got divorced over MUCH more petty of slips. Wow, just wow. It also in some light healed a part of my PTSD. Incredible.
I would like to also truthfully say that I have forgiven and moved forward with no grudges from the individual with that one previously mentioned facebook status. I realize that it hurt and there was no right to hurting me so badly, but the Lord knows that no one is perfect and that we all, including myself, make mistakes. It would be dumb of me to hold onto that grudge when I myself am not perfect.
Blessing #9: A Broken $3,000 camera: this one is another one of those hindsight moments.... a humbling one for for me for sure but the best of the best for spiritual lesson learning. It was a week or so before Jason and I moved to Utah. I was selling everything we owned to be able to pay down my miscarriage bills that were mounding by the minute. I sold our couches, kitchen table, our bed, toys, clothes you name it... By the time I had fully paid off all the bills (Yay!!!). I then turned my attention to make money for our move out, since with the instruction of "Leave as soon as you can" it didn't leave us much time for much preparation (hindsight, blessing #4 of Charity was getting set up). I tried to see what else we had that I could sell but I had sold everything. I was stumped. Then it hit me, my photography camera that was worth a nice chunk of change! The thought stung really bad to think about. I love photography and this was my brand new camera that I was going to go far in photography with. I bit the bullet and cleaned it all up, put a listing up on facebook sale groups and had a buyer within 3 days. I was ecstatic and knew that this would pay for our trip down and to help us pay for a downpayment for a rental house or apartment! I was excited when another thing came together for us! The buyer came into my kitchen where I had my camera on the counter. I had all my equipment out so she could see all that she was getting for the $2,500 we agreed on. She was ecstatic and couldn't wait to bring the equipment home to start her business! I told her I had an extra memory card if she wanted it. She agreed and I put it in the camera so I could take a few pictures and show her all the functions of the camera. After doing so she was even more impressed. She got out her already filled out check while I started putting all the equipment into the camera bag. As I went to take the memory card out of the camera to put in its protective case, the memory card refused to easily pop out of the camera like it usually does. I was confused since it had NEVER done that before. It was a brand new camera! My temperature started rising. I tried again to pop it out but again it would get stuck half way. By the third time I had her attention and not in a good way. Jason came in to see what was going on. I told her that I was so sorry that had never happened before. I wanted to cry, in fact I started to because now I was looking like a big fat liar to her that my camera was in perfect condition like I promised. Jason took over before I slammed into my red zone that I felt was quickly approaching. He couldn't take it out either. I tried one more time and I finally got it out! I was so relieved until I looked at the memory card to see if maybe there was something sticky on it. To my horror the memory card broke off a piece into my camera and when I went to take that piece out, it was fried in the camera, destroying my entire camera...... I was LIVID. My red zone was hot on my trail. Jason knowing my body language and feeling my red zone on its way. Took my camera before I smashed it into the wall (yes he knows me SO well because I had that exact thought right then!) The poor girl who was just moments before so excited to get her new fancy high end camera was now smashed and you could tell there was no convincing her that I was not lying that entire time. I told her that I was sorry but this was totally unexpected and I didn't want to even try to attempt to sell her something that was broken. She ripped up her check, our one lifeline, and said thank you and said she was sorry this happened to us and then left. I hit Red Zone faster then I could blink I was livid!!! How could this happen!!? I tried to take the camera out of Jason's hands and smash it on the ground. It was worthless to me now!! I couldn't sell it and now I couldn't use it!!! that was nearly $3,000 down the drain!! There goes our house or apartment!!!! The hate I showed Heavenly Father in that moment for allowing this was incredible!!! I was so mad at him! I reverted to my old ways of blaming him! He could have saved my camera! Now how are we going to move to Utah?? Everything was already packed up!! I went in my room and I just balled my eyes out. It was sometime in my "cool down" moment when I started to not see red any longer and Heavenly Father had me realize that not all was lost. I still had a year warranty on the camera that luckily (non-coincidentally) ended that week. I could get it fixed for free if I shipped it to Canon headquarters right away. This helped me feel a little better. I then realized that if I shipped it I would move within the month they said they could repair it in. Jason and I would be long gone by then and I wouldn't have an address to send them to have them ship it back to me at. We then came up with the plot to ship it into Canon anyway before we missed the deadline, let them fix it while we moved and then have them ship it back to our house and have my neighbor who I adore, check our front step every single day to pick it up for us and then ship it to us when we had an address to have it shipped to. She agreed to do that however she said "I am headed to Utah in a month and a half so I will just bring you your camera!" I was relieved!! It was going to work out! So phoebe walked past our house everyday sometimes twice because if anyone else got their hands on that package I was doomed. It was a risky plan but it worked! She picked up the package and a few days later she met us in Utah and gave me my camera! It was in perfect condition. I wanted to try and sell it again but this time I felt that I shouldn't. So I didn't but boy was it hard to sit on $2,500 when you are living out of boxes in a motel 6.... Through out our entire journey I had the temptation to sell my camera again and again but every time I started looking into it, I kept getting the exact same answer "No" Not going to lie I was beyond frustrated!! We were struggling so badly and I couldn't sell it! I decided looking into starting up my photography business in Utah because what else was I going to do with my camera if I wasn't allowed to sell it? Things with my business were slow but after a few months I booked my first family session. It was for Ashlee and her extended family but after they LOVED my photos they recommended me to others. I got a wedding referral from a gal I was a second photographer for in Arizona (the wedding that paid for my sons car seats). She couldn't make it to Utah to be the photographer for this couple but said that I knew my stuff and to book me! They did and it was great! They also helped get my name out there. Winter time I didn't get any business, which I was grateful for since I didn't know how to shoot in the snow and I didn't want to destroy my camera now that I didn't have insurance on it. Once spring started coming I had a few more shoots trickle in but nothing more then that. I tried really hard to get my name out there but no one knew me and it was hard to show people my new style of photography when I haven't had a lot of practice. It was slow go for a long time. After we moved to our apartment and went to our new ward I was called as the ward photographer. I thought that it would help get me recognized since I had to photogaph all the ward events. A few more months went by and after posting on KSL and all the facebook sale groups I could think of with my business and prices multiple times, I was still getting nothing. Finally I had booked a couple of weddings! I posted those on my page and got a few more likes on my page which then got my business more recognition! I went to our ward party and was taking pictures there when 3 couples stopped me and asked me to be their photographer for their family and maternity shoots. I was ecstatic I felt that the ball had finally started rolling! The extra money was so helpful for the bills and everyday needs. Then October came. I was currently doing a weight loss program when the gal who was in charge of it started talking about my photography. She kept saying that I was AMAZING and that people needed to know I existed! She told me to post on the facebook sale groups. I told her I have been for awhile but I was getting nothing from them. She told me try it one more time and see if I get anything this time. I honestly didn't totally want to but did anyway because what was it going to hurt? It was only seconds later from just one group I had posted in that I had people swarming and commenting on my post to book a spot! I was shocked and couldn't keep up with all of the comments and bookings!! It was a miracle! I was at my computer for 3 days straight booking sessions left and right! I had 5 booked in one day on multiple days! Every single day in October was booked if not double, or multiple times booked. Then once October was booked tight, people started booking me in November. Now November is nearly all booked up! Now I have people contacted me about December! During this frenzy I got a call from a lady asking if I could photograph her daughters wedding in December. She had seen me at wedding I had shot a few months prior and was extremely impressed with my professionalism and wanted to book me ASAP. She said her daughter was too busy with school that she had her mom call me for her. We got talking a bit about wedding details and how school was going for them and that's when she told me: "School is busy for sure but when she competed for Miss America as Miss Utah a few years back THAT was when she knew what real busy was." My jaw hit the floor.... I just booked a Miss America contestant's wedding. Um wow??... I was SO honored!! She wanted ME as her photographer! Holy cow! I was so blessed for all of these new clients! I would have to say I have booked an upward of 60 to 70 different families for the next 3 months.... I am in the middle of the busiest season I have had yet and although it is busy I am so grateful for the business and experience! A few days ago as I was editing a family session I couldn't help but smile and laugh hysterically at myself almost to the exact week a year ago in my Arizona kitchen with a fresh new hate for Heavenly Father for breaking my camera. I learned a very valuable lesson on this situation. ALWAYS trust the Lord in leading you down the path that is the best for you. I wont lie I feel like I have had a modern twist to the story of Jesus and john the fisherman (or was it Peter?) who had no luck in catching any fish, until Christ told him to do the same thing he was doing but this time have faith he would catch the fish. With hesitation he did and he was blessed beyond all belief. Huh? Sound familiar? haha The money I am currently making is a HUGE blessing to us in this still financially uncomfortable state we are in. Jason just got a new job but we are living off of my income right now before Jason's first pay check comes in. We can afford food and gas and once that is paid for I go do another 3 photoshoots and have enough to pay for bills, or rent etc... I have never felt so blessed to have had my $3,000 camera break! This was well worth it! I am making much more money now then I would have upfront for my camera and dang it all Heavenly Father knew that! Huge humbling moment for me, but I love it. Now my business name is known around the state and continues to be talked about as more and more past clients send their friends to me. I am humbled. I love it.
Blessing #10: Surprise!!!!!!
Yes, I am pregnant!!! The best part about this is that there are NO PANIC ATTACKS!!!!!! I have a great feeling about this one!! I wanted to wait to tell you all so I could know for sure that I would be keeping this baby but if I end up losing it (I personally HIGHLY doubt it) then I have even more support! ANNND I was hoping to announce it on my 1 year post! So TA-DA!!!! Cant wait to see what the gender is!!!! (No its not a boy yet just a really cute onsie I found during our themed family pictures!) So excited!!!! This is truly such a great blessing!! This pregnancy brings me FULL circle in our "Accelerated Learning program" since I now have pregnancy to pregnancy to relate my huge life change to. I am SO blessed and loved by my loving Heavenly Father! This baby is a huge testament to his ultimate power.
And yes for those of you that may have noticed, that is the exact same sign we used when I was pregnant with the baby that I lost. I thought it was pretty symbolic! I didn't have the heart to erase it and I realized a week ago after cleaning out my closet that it had survived our move, so I erased the original due date and switched it to the new one!!
(Funny story, I didn't have chalk when I was switching out the due date and Heavenly Father whispered in my ear "Use an altoid" So I did and it worked great! Hahaha)
If you have ANY doubts in God or his son Jesus Christ please know this, I have walked through ALL levels of Hell and I am standing here whole, happier then I was before walking through it all, and like my patriarchal blessing states, "You shall navigate through all of those trials and tribulations successfully and come forth triumphant on the other side." Wow.. powerful right? I am standing here triumphantly. I would have never been able to survice ANY of those horrendous trials without the partnership of my loving Heavenly Father who held my head up just enough to breathe while the floods rushed in. He gave me the strength to wade my way through the trials successfully all while realizing just how strong I really am amongst the powers of the adversary. He allowed me to wade through them all because he knew that I could grow so much from the trials. If he had just saved me then I would have been happy sure, but not strong and the happiest I could be. Throughout all these trials I always had an experience or gift from the last trial to help me through the next and then the next I had 2 key ingredients and on and on it went. I was never left without knowledge or a feeling of being loved. I am fully confident and proud to announce that I have officially Fully Bloomed like promised. As I look back at my life in Arizona I can see exactly what He meant when He said I would wilt. I am so grateful for my Bloom. I was given HUGE gifts to rewrite my entire life over again to a life that I have always wanted spiritually but especially mentally. I still struggle with spits of PTSD but that is to be expected since I have witnessed and experienced a lot in my life. But with just the knowledge that I suffer with PTSD helps tremendously to recognize when a red zone moment is coming and to walk away from the situation instead of explode on everyone. I am truly sorry to all of you who have been in some way or another affected by the wake of my Red zone anger. I know I have hurt a lot of people and for that I am so sorry.
I would like to share with you all my second witness to the full year of my "Accelerated Spiritual Learning Program" which is quoted out of my patriarchal blessing. This was also what I kept coming back to when times got really hard and unbearable:
"Melissa, I bless you to have optimism and courage for the future. You shall have many rich and glorious experiences because of your preparation and because of the gifts with which God endowed you as you came into mortality. I bless you to learn of those gifts as you progress in life. The Lord shall discover them to you at the time that you need them. I bless you to use the gifts that God has given to you to further his purposes; to be an instrument in his hands to accomplish the going forth and expansion of the kingdom. That's important Melissa, because though your family great things shall come to pass."
I know with full conviction that all that we have been through during this year I will take and turn around to help those who have been in any of our trail shoes. My new motto in life is "I went through it, now let me help you go through it." That's what pure Christianity is right? Lifting one another's burdens?
Please know that if there is any trial that I have passed through that you are currently passing through PLEASE feel free to contact me. I would love to hear your story and to help where I can. Even if just talking is helpful, then let me talk with you. Depression, Pornography, nearing divorce, sexually molestation, the feeling that friends have turned on you, financial stresses, PTSD, Trichotillomania, Lack of faith in the Lord, Miscarriage's, A sick child who lives at the hospital, witnessed or was affected by physical, emotional, verbal or spiritual abuse, please know I have gone through these all and I want to help you where I can. I am not a professional councilor but I do have the experiences that I can relate to you with, which in my recovery of everything I have passed through has been a huge blessing to have someone that understands!
The Lord is amazing and I am grateful for all of my trials and the gifts or blessings I was given because of them. Please remember this when you are going through your own personal Hell. He loves you and always will, even if you have hissed some colorful choice words at him at one point or another in your life. *Cough Cough* haha. He will never leave you.
I am blessed to have been promised to Bloom. Because of it I am a whole new person. This was one of the toughest years of our lives but we are extremely grateful for our Accelerated Spiritual Learning Program! We have learned a lot and graduated with all honors!
If you feel inspired to share our story please feel free to share to all! I want to help all those that would benefit from reading it.
If you feel inspired to share our story please feel free to share to all! I want to help all those that would benefit from reading it.