Friday, October 30, 2009

Tortoise and The Hare...

I'm the type of person who goes 150mph in anything I do. If I'm your friend, I will actively seek out ways I can be a better friend to you. If I work for you, I'll work twice as many hours as you think I'm working or have asked me to work. Service projects, bake sales, whatever...I go as hard as I can. I feel like God is giving me the energy for a reason and, if I snub that blessing, I might not have it tomorrow. Or, if I don't have that energy tomorrow, I don't want to feel like I didn't make proper use of it today. Not taking any moments for granted in this life. Kinda like the hare!

Earlier on in my experience with ms, I couldn't stay out of bed. I didn't seem to have much choice in the matter. When my son was very young, I overheard a conversation he was having with another child. The boy was saying how his mother was running in the local 5k, and he asked my son if his mommy would also be running. My son said, "no, my mommy sleeps a lot". As much as that hurt me, it was true. Total tortoise.

I've been the tortoise and the hare intermittently for the past 10 years. I know what it's like to suddenly have my legs not work so well, to lose significant function on an entire side of my body, and to not be able to stay awake longer than a few hours at a time. But as much as I may have struggled through those times is as much as I was blessed to only have those challenges on my plate. I'll take all that and a bag of chips in lieu of having to do another tour at our local childrens hospital!

So basically, I'm trying to figure out if my "hare moments" create the tortoise ones, or if I'm supposed to go at 150mph while that blessing exists. I've fought with this concept for a long while and still haven't come up with the answer. As stubborn as I am, I probably couldn't slow myself during a hare moment anyway! Guess I'll just keep on keepin' on!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feelin' Fine!

So it appears as if I'm on the other side of the hill that is ms other words, the immune system has calmed (g'nite, Alice!) and the only reminder of those 2 lower case letters is the slight left foot drag while walking. Well, that and the hourly or semi-hourly trip to the ladies room:-)

Last week was more than stressful. The kind of stress that you can't see the other side of and can't possibly think how you're getting out of it. I consciously sat down and counted my blessings one by one. I'm healthy (with the exception of holes in my central nervous system, but who's counting?), have a fantastic husband, amazing parents and family members, incredible children, and loving friends. My work is rewarding. Our church family is uplifting. I have a beautiful view of the yellow, orange, red, and brown leaves over there in the woods from the picture window of the comfortable house that we call home. My kids are receiving arguably the best education offered in this area. My husband, who drives a tractor trailer, has not had anyone drive underneath of him lately. We have enough coffee to get through the week. And my car started, though slooowly, after the kids left the doors open for hours.

That's a lotta good stuff right there! But when things get scary in one facet of life, be that health, finances, relationships, etc., it's easy to get tunnel vision and forget about my abundance of blessings. Makes me think a lot of myself and whatever stressor is wanting my attention for the moment. God, in His faithfulness, always sends the "snap out of it" message...

This Saturday night, my 10yr old son scored his first goal in hockey. This is the child who, by all intents and purposes, should still have the GI disease he was born with. We were told that, if he survived, he'd have a measurable level of mental retardation. As if that wasn't enough, he was vaccine injured at 18mos and dx'd aspergers. They kept changing the labels from aspergers to autism and back again, depending upon which dr I ran him to. I didn't care much about the label, just cared that he be "fixed". After many years of literal hell, family battles, a tanked marriage, and completely drained finances, I finally went to my knees and handed it over. Yeah, it's where I should've started the journey, but I'm quite stubborn. As pretty much anyone who knows me knows (apologizing for the repeat!)...we were led to the Family Hope Center and given a program that restored him. I was told just 4 years ago by a licensed psychologist all the things he wouldn't be. I don't blame the fella, he really felt I wasn't accepting the hand that was dealt. He was right, I wasn't accepting of it.

So when my son ran into the kitchen 3 mos after beginning that program and said, complete with jazz hands, "Mommy! It's like somebody lifted the clouds!", I cried. When he started to read with ease and earned solid A's and B's on his school work, I cried. When his ped said she considered him free of autism, I cried. When I'd see all the kids wanted to sit with him at lunch and play with him at recess, I cried. When he stepped on the hockey dek for the first time, I cried. And when he took a shot on net and that ball rolled across the goal line...I nearly had a mini stroke! I put my hands over my eyes and it was like all of those "bad" years flashed before me! They were tough, but God brought us out of it. He always does.

I'll screw up again and allow something to stress me out, momentarily placing all of those incredible blessings on the back burner. Alice will wreak havoc. I'll feel like a hot mess. I'll probably even blog about it...but it will pass, because it always does. It's just the kind of God we have.

May you be blessed!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Remember Naptime?

Since graduating college and taking on my first corporate job, I've pushed for "Corporate Naptime". Never got it passed, sadly.

During the course of my day, I drive from one school building to another, sometimes more than once. As ridiculous as it sounds, the task of packing up my laptop + customary 4 bottles of water, lugging them to my car, opening the car doors, shutting the car doors, hurling my seatbelt over me, arguing with traffic to the next building, navigating the parking lot...which is totally NOT ms friendly (dumpster sitting in a weird spot on an angle with buses directly across, like a driving test, but these obstacles will wreck your ride), trying to avoid strangulation via previously mentioned seatbelt upon release, opening car doors, mounting laptop bag to shoulder, shutting car doors, walking to school's door, fumbling for 007 style id card to scan into tiny black box, trying to open door in the 2.2 seconds tiny black box allows you before it locks again...alright already, you get the idea. It's physically exhausting.

And that's not my actual work. I don't include that, because working with these kids is one of my most profound blessings and rejuvenates me. I love them each as if they're my own kids, and I know they love me right back. Today, as I was sitting in my room planning a session, I was pleasantly interrupted by random drive by hugs from a couple of my students. They're just cool kids...

Physical exhaustion is one thing, but I often think mental is worse. That happens at home. I walk in from work, lugging laptop and whatever else my car accrued during my travels. In my line of sight is the kitchen sink. We play this game that I call "Sink Jenga". Like where my husband and I see how many dishes we can stack without toppling the pile? Whoever topples it has to load the dishwasher. Sadly, he's getting pretty good at it. I was undefeated for months. But just the sight of the dishes makes me tired. I know it's my move and the pressure's on. Careful! Watch the placement of that butter could mean disaster if not properly configured!

And don't get me started on household finances. Even typing those 2 words made me yawn.

But the cool thing is...God is always faithful and gives me the strength I need to get through a day. He also quiets me when it's time to rest, like when I can't possibly stay upright for one more second, so I lay down and wake up 3 hours later. All that to say that I've been circling Mount Fatigue for about 10yrs now and am learning that I need to keep pushing as hard as I can and making the very most of each day, living it for and in Him. He'll continue to bless me with rest when He knows I need it.

Someone once said that each day we live is a day closer to the day we die. Gee, that's uplifting! Not. Guess it's true, though. I'll continue to choose to go, go, go! I will surprise my husband and load the dishwasher tonight, even though I can so put this glass in there without negative effect. If I'm going to give each day my best, I guess that includes every part of it!

Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward You are serving the Lord Christ."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Always Feel Like...Somebody's Watchin' Me!

Because I've openly proclaimed my faith in Christ and work in a Christian school, I feel like somebody's always watching me to see how I'm going to handle any given situation. I handled trials much differently B.C. than I do now. But I'm called to, right? I can't just fly off the handle anymore when things aren't fair or don't go my way! While there are Biblical accounts of Jesus flipping out, I can't be the type of Christian who manipulates scripture to excuse my behavior...even if I really, really wanna flip out! 'Cause I really, really wanna flip out. Sure.

I'm called to display the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. A dear friend once pointed out that these are in a particular order for a reason. You can't have gentleness without love, self-control without faithfulness, yada yada. Last year, said fruits were a part of our school's theme verse. It was the first time I'd seen the verse and I remember thinking, "pffft, that's easy stuff!" Not. In fact, self-control is most difficult for me. I'm thankful that I have a whole lot more of it now than I used to, but I certainly have room for improvement! It's not that I act upon my raw emotions, ie. flipping out...I know enough to keep it under wraps! But it doesn't mean I don't sit and stew over stuff, which negatively affects my joy, peace, get the point. Plus, though others might not see my inner "Pinky and The Brain" psyche, God does. And I've already got a lot to answer for when I stand before Him, much less adding all of that drama to the mix. All that to say, I've got lots to work on. Thankfully, I'm a work-in-progress!

Stuff is starting to mount, one on top of the other. Underneath the Jenga pile is me, balancing on one foot with my eyes closed. All the while, trying to keep the love of the Lord inside of me, trying to keep shining His light, and trying to fake Alice out. No need to rear your head, Alice! I'm not at all stressed out! Nothin' to see here! You just stay nice and calm, mmkay? Shhhh...

But Alice knows and she's in a bad mood. The mere thought of getting up from this chair to refill my glass with water makes me want to cry, then sleep for a few hours. The fatigue is pretty ugly right now and I'm literally willing myself out of bed in the morning and down the stairs for some much needed coffee, yet I can't fall asleep at night. Sunburn's back. My left eye decided that it was going to put a cloud in my field of vision for much of the day. Thanks for that, eye! You do what you gotta, I have 2 of you and the right eye showed up for work today! All the while, I keep telling myself to tough it out and keep going. "Ruuuuun, Tina! Ruuuuun!" Speaking of, that might look like a hot mess right about now if I were to try. When I bend my head down, I get that little reminder sensation in my right leg. BZZZZZ. It's called L'hermittes Sign. Only the coolest people have it. Definitely a time I can't "walk it off". Oh Alice! You spoil me!

Here comes my daily affirmation. I know that good times always follow the bad. This is just more "refining" in the fire. I have some decisions ahead of me and they've got a little weight to 'em. People are waiting and watching to see how I handle myself. Among the observers are my own kids, my little apples of my right eye...'cause that's the one that's seeing clearly! Not that they know the full drama, but they always know something. Scary. So it's up to me to teach them by example. I want to show them that we don't live this crazy life alone...we've got a loving, awesome God to protect us and guide us through. No matter how hard things might seem, or how uncomfortable we may be, He is faithful and never disappoints. I will choose to find the positives in our current circumstances, because my attitude is my own God-given choice.

There's a song out now that says: What you gonna do? The world is watching you. Every day, the choices you make say what you are and who your heart beats for.

That pretty much says it all!

Monday, October 19, 2009

There's No Place Like...the 70s!

I wondered if there was some sort of validity to the self-titled phenomenon of retro'ing. So I did what any self-proclaimed, highly intelligent, scientific minded insomniac would do...I threw some keywords into a Google search and found that:

the brain is involuntarily searching out and activating pleasant, positive information from the memory banks in order to help the brain cope with an incomprehensible threat.

My mind chooses to retro to the mid to late 70s, back to my elementary school days. Can you blame me? I'm the only child of highly protective parents who formed their lives

Dad worked all the time to provide for Mom and I. When he was home, he devoted all of his attention to moi. He was a highly decorated 'Nam vet, but is one of those guys who never talks about it. I remember how safe I always felt under their roof. Dad could do this super cool thing where he'd be asleep but, like, he wasn't? People have home security systems, but those couldn't hold a candle to Dad. To this day, you can not sneak anywhere near him if he is asleep on his back. Consider yourself jacked up in 3...2...1...

Mom stayed home with me. I was a careful observer in the 2.2 seconds I spent inside the house, enjoying a Twinkie. She ironed, she cooked, she cleaned...she was a whirlwind! I previously shared her protective measures, like "mom arm" in the car. Didn't matter if I was in the front or back, she could catch me with that bionic right hand! Accounts of which are in the Bible, "I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand". That right hand that God blessed Mom with upheld me from flying through the windshield of a 72 Buick quite a few times!

Mom and Dad made me tough. Mom helped me learn to face my fears via winding up that stupid cymbal clapping monkey and laughing at me as I had panic attacks. And Dad? He made me tough by yelling, "WALK IT OFF!" when I'd hurt myself. Run into a tree branch and cut my cornea? Walk it off! Fall off a bike and break my wrist? You got it...walk it off!

I was an insomniac even as a child. I can remember calling out to Mom several times a night. She was also awake. I'd need a drink of water, which she'd bring me in a tiny, 70s maize colored tupperware cup. Many nights, I'd lay awake, staring at my ceiling. I would barely have to whisper and Mom would hear me. She'd always come, no matter when I called out.

I had a plastic elephant toy box. I used to climb inside of it and cover myself with the lid. Everything was better in that elephant. Twinkies included.

Those are the memories I retro to, as well as all the way cool 70s things like avocado colored kitchen cabinets, shag carpet, white denim leisure suits, plaid pants, and the best songs ever.

Sometimes, present day gets pretty scary. Now I'm the mom who's awake. I've got kids who are depending on me just as I depended on my parents. When my son has his insomniac moments, I'm the one laying in the room next door, just waiting to hear from him. I understand Mom a lot better now and often compare myself to her. I don't cook much, don't own a working iron, and become exhausted at the mere thought of cleaning. I want to be able to walk it off when I feel like crap, but walking sometimes makes it worse or creates new problems I didn't have at the get go. Sometimes, I want to climb into a toy box and forget about the holes I have in my head, neck, and spine. I'd also like to forget about how the economy has slammed our household. Problem is, I'm no longer 3'11"...though I've shrunk 3" since graduating high school. Maybe someday I'll get back down to 3'11"! I've even got the toy's in the garage...

Though it's been about 30 years, Mom is still there when I call. And Dad is still protecting me, but not from potential intruders. Now, it's from worry and stress. He tells me it's okay to ask for help. I'm learning that the toughest guy I ever knew is tough because he's smart enough to know when he's weak. Maybe I need to stop trying to fool myself into thinking I've got it all together every minute of the day if it's a time when I really don't. I mean sure, I usually do! But there are other, very scary times. And I set myself up for disappointment, which sets off the spiral of worry, depression, and desire to call my Mom at 2am.

What's a girl to do if she can no longer hop into the elephant or call out for a drink of tepid tap water? Well, I can jump into the Word. In fact, when I start to feel really, really consumed in worry, like TODAY, I recall that I've not been in the Word for a few nights or more. I'm a little slow at times. I seem to need that "slam on the brakes and fly toward the windshield" experience before I realize that God's righteous hand never stops protecting me from crashing through.

If you ever get to worrying like I do, and if songs are a little easier to work with than reading, may I suggest "Great Light of The World"? Or like, you can just click it.

The light of His grace can fill up your heart, just as my Mom filled up my tiny, maize colored, tupperware cup:-) May you be blessed!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Somehow, "Alice" has taken off.

This morning, as I was updating my Facebook status, I began to feel the searing pain of sunburn across my upper back. My immediate thought was, "ugh...Alice". It brought a smile to my face, because I have a pretty strange sense of humor.

When my friends and I were teenagers, we used to do stupid stuff like drive super slowly through the manual car wash bays and yell out to other patrons, "HEY! IT'S NOT WORKING! WHAT ARE WE DOING WRONG?". We would also pretend that inanimate objects, such as post office mailboxes, were speaking to us as we walked by. It was common for us to walk past a mailbox, spin around, and scream, "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?" So this is what you're working with...stupid humor. I see it as a blessing, because 20 years later, I just might have enough crazy left in me to get through this life!

Up until last night's post, I used to do my best to ignore the residual "attacks" - sunburn sensations, shaky legs, and creepy crawlies. I'm a child of the 70s. If you don't pay attention to it, it isn't so! Like monsters under the bed. While I didn't have a monster, I did have that stupid monkey that clapped the cymbals together and shrieked, "EEE EEE EEE". Wait a I retro'ing again? Why yes! Sorry, let me jump back to '09. Today, I found humor in this small-but-annoying ms attack, because I was able to give it a name. Good thing, because as I felt the burn and walked over to get a refill of Dunkin'...'cause that's what I run legs began to vibrate. Alice's left jab. Humor is good! Dunkin' is better.

Today was my first day back to school post-virus. Though vibrating from the waist down at a noticeable rate, I was able to focus intently on my work with my students. Well, until the afternoon. I was working with a child who needs a little help expanding their imagination. So like, if there's a picture of a flower, I'll encourage them to tell me all about how that may have been planted, what it may smell like, do bees dig it, etc. So this child went on with a beautiful story of how this flower began as a seed planted by a little girl named...Alice.

I had been in mid swig of my water bottle and nearly choked! Of all names, Alice? I asked where that came from! "I dunno, I just thought it was pretty!"

Well that ain't the Alice I know, but kudos on the imagination, kiddo:-) If I were to tell said child about MY Alice...they'd probably sleep about as well as I did circa 1977 with that stupid clapping monkey under my bed. Seriously, who would've bought this for their child? Mom, come on!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Viruses and MS Don't Jive

I should make the disclaimer that the following ms experiences are mine, not necessarily the expressed written experiences of other ms'ers. Now that I'm legally protected...

Viruses, colds, and flu! We fear them as the season approaches. We rush out to be vaccinated. We wash the fingerprints from our hands! But me? Say hello to my little friend...superfreak immune system! Let's call her Alice, just because I like that.

Here's the thing 'bout Alice. If I could categorize her, I'd say she has an anger management problem. You figure, if she's angry enough to attack her own body, she's pretty volatile, right? Oh no, I ain't messin' with her! I even changed my diet around completely to try to settle her, and that worked for the most part. It's basically an "anti-inflammatory diet" aka "keep Alice in Chains". Yeah, another shameless musical reference.

Anyway, I came down with a virus a couple days ago, one that a couple of friends also got. Major difference is that Alice kicked its tail in no time, while my couple of friends are still struggling. Alice is the relative no one wants to invite to Thanksgiving. The one you walk on eggshells around, because they could snap at any moment! Oh come on, I can't be the only one with that relative! She's a very freaky girl...the kind you don't take home to mama...

Looking back, I always did have a pretty volatile immune system. Bee stings? Swell up like a house! Eat a slice of watermelon? Ears swell up like cauliflower! Take a penicilin capsule by accident? Hives for 7 months! Xanax, anyone? I'm telling you, she's fierce!

All that sounds like maybe a good thing, right? It is and it's not. Illnesses don't seem to stick around for long, which is great! But, like the relative you don't invite to Thanksgiving, she doesn't know when to settle down. In other words, now that she's fought off this virus in record time and kept viral symptoms to a minimum - as compared to like sufferers - she won't yet have removed the boxing gloves. You should understand that Alice is an MMA fighter, so she's got on those little fingers-cut-out, black leather gloves. The opponent? Me. So now it's game on and I just await her tactics. She may inflict creepy crawlies on my legs, extra large eye flies, sunburn feeling across my back, shaky legs, or all of the above. It's her game, I'm just a playa...

So I wait in anticipation, but I try not to worry. Worry also gets Alice all fired up. Come to think of it, there's not much that doesn't upset her apple cart. But somehow, giving her a name and sharing her with you enables me to laugh at her! I am learning to put her in her place. She will strike, and when she does, I need to do like Romans 5:3 says and rejoice! Now if only someone could remind me of that in about a day? May God bless you all!

Romans 5:3 ...but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint...

Monday, October 12, 2009

When Sharing Is Good

Just got another ms magazine today. It's been a long day and it was the last thing I felt like reading, but I did it anyway and I'm thankful I decided not to shut down just yet!

There's an article entitled "Should I Tell My Employer I Have MS?" It reads...

Things to consider: Once it’s out there you can’t take it back. Your employer can have preconceived notions about MS and wrongly decide you will not be able to handle your job or additional responsibilities. You may try to educate your employer but may find they are not interested or open to the information.

I had that happen at the big company I worked for when I was dx'd. I remember calling a meeting between my 2 supervisors to inform them. I came in the following day to find that my accounts had been reassigned to other reps. I saw the writing on the wall and decided I wouldn't give the company the pleasure of dragging me through their line of corporate port-o-potties, so I left to work for dear friend/chiropractor. 'Course, I didn't have to tell her...she already knew! I worked there, free of ms judgement and self-consciousness, until God decided it was time to move on.

The door was opened for me to work as an educational therapist with children who learn differently. Worked for me, because I have much in common with every one of my students. Short attention span? Check! Emotions that swing from high to low and everywhere in between? Yep! I'm just older and know how to keep them hidden! Got all the head knowledge but have trouble getting it to paper? Sometimes, sure. But let me tell ya, my students are absolutely brilliant...every single one of 'em. They bless me more than I could ever bless them. And I'm forever thankful that ms moments never affect my work or my own children. It's like ms knows those are 2 areas that are off limits!

Today was In Service and I had to give a presentation to explain what I do all day long. Hate those. I'm outgoing and all, but standing up in front of people and speaking takes me right back to those stupid oral book reports in school. It was also one of those days where I couldn't quite articulate as well as normal, and was even stuttering. So I told myself to chill out, it's a Christian school and Jesus would not let them laugh at me. I have ms for goodness' sake! Who could mock the lady with the holes! I put all this pressure on myself to pull off a perfect speech and stress is NOT a friend to ms. In fact, the more stressed out I get, the more I stutter and have trouble articulating. You see the cycle here, clearly!

I preempted my presentation by running to the bathroom and took the opportunity to pray for God to give me the words. When I walked back into my classroom, bundle o' nerves and a million random thoughts running through my head, the first thing that came out of my mouth was something to the effect of, "I apologize in advance, I'm stuttering today". Nice job. Way to blow the speech before it begins.

But you know, it actually was nice. I was instantly comforted by everyone's smiles and was able to joke it off when I did stutter or found it difficult to piece my thoughts together in just the way I'd meant to. How blessed am I to work with an amazing group of people who love me, holes and all, just as I am?

Just As I of my favorite hymns. While God isn't someone I can physically see or reach out and touch, I do encounter Him on a daily basis. He shows His face through the kindness and love of others. When someone gives me a basket of food, some homemade chicken rice soup, a supportive smile, a loving hug, or a kind offer to help me out...I encounter God at work. I give thanks on a daily basis for my employer, because I have full confidence in the fact that, if the going gets tough, the tough will be fully supported. That is, if the tough can put their pride aside to allow themselves to be helped. Ahem...seems like the shoe is a perfect fit!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Forgot Your Password?

I personally love that option that the creators of secure websites give us. Forgot your password? Yes, thanks! I just now did it logging into this site. Sure, I've successfully logged in many times! But today? Forgot my password.

I've not slept over the past week or so, though. I know enough, medically, to realize that our brains utilize sleep as an opportunity to defrag, clear out the yucks, and start over. I think that knowledge is what keeps me up even longer. I look at the clock and think, "1am...gotta be up in 5 hrs...that's not much rest my brain gets. Ugh, 3am...that's only a tiny bit of repair my brain can do! Uh oh...4am...there's my husband's alarm and I'm gonna be in trouble!" I never knew anyone who could pressure themselves into sleeping, or who could lay in bed, tense up, and say, "I'm going to sleep NOW!" I'm my own worst enemy...

And my mind runs at 150mph, which doesn't help with sleep.

I can go from mentally preparing a lesson for a particular student - to thinking of a pumpkin latte - to thinking which bills will I swap from the "I can't pay you yet" to the "I'll pay you so you stop calling me" piles - to getting up midstream and loading the dishwasher - to recalling another student has a big test on Tuesday - to what meetings do I have this week - to the dogs want out - to I'd like to make a covered dish for this weekend's fellowship meal at a minimum of 8 additional thoughts. And that's all happening in just 5 minutes' worth of time. That's when I'm "on".

When I'm in an "I've forgotten my password" moment, I have to think about thinking about all of those things. I'm a little slower, but can't afford to be, because my life is that fast and I can't miss a beat. It becomes a conscious effort. I've had people ask me if I was angry with them, because I've looked through them as I've walked down the hall, or had a rather blank look on my face. Nope, I didn't even notice you. Not because I don't love ya, but because I'm making a mental checklist and it's like swimming in jello. My brain can only do a certain number of things at once. When the flow is interrupted, I lose capacity to socialize with you AND pull off 189 thought processes. Something has to give, and I suppose my ability to freely mingle is first to get dumped?

I tried to explain it to my husband and he plainly said he doesn't get it. He is perfectly capable of sitting in his oversized chair, finger hanging from mouth, pitcher sized glass of iced tea to his right, changer to his left, and thinking of ab-so-lute-ly NOTHING! Am I jealous? Sure I am. Well, not entirely. I think it's how we're paired up, right? Like, if we both had 150mph minds and ran on 2-3 hrs of sleep, that wouldn't work. Ok, so the house may be a little more clean, but our kids would need pediatric doses of Xanax. And if we both were able to sit around with fingers in our mouths and think of absolutely nothing, our house would be a disaster and there would be no one to play the shell game, Price Is Right style, with our household bills. We balance one another in a crazy yet perfect way...a way that God knew would work. That's why he planned our course so that we'd meet in a head on collision. If I could create a yellow road sign to describe our marriage, it would be "God At Work". And really, isn't that all we can hope for?

Do you like how I just wrapped many thoughts together in no particular order? This is why I exhaust myself...oh wait...the dryer stopped, dogs want in...gotta go plan a meal!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MS Connection

That's the name of the magazine NMSS puts out. I remember subscribing to it within a few hours of my dx. I wanted to be all kinds of informed. But then it started arriving in the mail and I noticed I often felt intimidated by about page I stopped reading. I'll bet I'd gone a good 3 years without cracking it open! I recently began to read it again and now understand why it left me feeling off kilter.

Disclaimer: The following opinions are not meant to offend anyone who is completely uplifted by said magazine! I'm also encouraged by much of what it says. Truth be told, it's a very nicely done periodical. And let's face it, we all deal with our circumstances in our own ways, and I praise God for giving each of us exactly what we need exactly when we need it to successfully get through our day. In no way do I wish to impose my opinions or coping strategies on others! This is just sharing, nothing more! Now that I've covered my large...self...I'll therapeutically blog away!

Here I sit, listening to my AOL Radio - tuned to "Top Christian" - thumbing through the MS Connection I received today. The following is what I see. Like Mr. Rogers used to say, "won't you join me?"

Page 4 tells me that studies show the Epstein Barr virus is a trigger for ms. Says here "that people who are not infected with EBV do not get ms". Ok, I can accept that. I remember my junior year of high school, I had a wicked case of mono. I couldn't stay awake no matter how hard I tried. Began to doze off in English, was somehow startled, yelled out, and threw my pencil across the room. The poor teacher I had was in her 1st year and many of the boys gave her a run for her money. My "fall asleep/yell/javelin toss of pencil" was the last thing she needed! I had to miss weeks of athletic events so that like, I wouldn't rupture my extremely enlarged spleen. Good times! A couple of years ago, I had some funky tests done and they found a high level of EBV antibodies in my system. Like Hollywood Squares used to say, "X gets the square" MS Connection! What else ya got?

There are lots of fundraising efforts - people who are biking, walking, and swimming - to raise $ for research. I often pray for these extremely caring and selfless folks who endure such physical challenges to raise money for various illnesses. I have two friends from high school who take part in the bike rides and who have placed my name on their team websites. Their thoughtfulness blesses me more than they could ever know. It's overwhelming and heartwarming to be so supported...both by people who've known and loved me for years, as well as people I'll never meet, like the faces of those in this here magazine. May God bless each and every one of you!

Here's an article about a place called Nancy's House. It's for caregivers, but listen to this. They provide the following: Two solid nights of sleep, Restaurant style meals, Massage therapy, Fun classes, A low stress setting. Ok, I'm wondering if I can pass for a caregiver! Betcha I'd get tossed out by 3am on day 1. I'd be in the bathroom 12x and wide awake. I can see it now, "hey...are you a caregiver or an ms'er! Where do you keep running off to! Why are you still awake!" Yeah, I'd stick out like a sore thumb.

Healthcare reform articles, stimulus funds, study invitations, employment suggestions, ads for meds and coping stuff, yada yada.

Oh here we go. "Don't ignore incontinence symptoms". You've now got my full attention! Frequency, Hesitancy, Urgency...oh my! Yep, got all 3 of those. It says right here that I shouldn't be embarrassed and that I should avoid caffeine. I'm sorry, I think I just choked on my coffee! WHAT THE? Clearly they've lost their minds! Forego my coffee? I'd rather jump from my speeding car as I drive down the road to Dunkin' Donuts. Anyway, I recently saw a spot on the news that regular coffee intake by ms'ers was shown to be protective in nature. And now they're saying I have to steer clear of it so I don't have to pee so much? And so that, when I do try to pee, it actually comes out? Oh no you don't, NMSS. No you don't take away my beloved coffee! Continuing on. Says there are meds for this. Since you may recall...I'm "2%", let's take a peek at the side effects that I will experience from said meds.

"Other less common side effects include constipation, heartburn, blurry vision, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), urinary retention and cognitive side effects such as impaired memory and confusion."

Hmm. I think I'll stick with the current plan of drinking 1 gallon of water/day to flush out the yuckies and continue to enjoy that coffee. I'd hate to be a blurry eyed, confused, reflux suffering mother of two who's full of crap.

But here's where I start feeling a little intimidated. The next ad says "Strength comes from within, summon yours!" And most of the writings beyond this one are headlined with "self help", "I", "me", "we", "you". This is where I used to feel so inadequate. In high school and college, I prided myself on my strength. Play softball with teeth loose in mouth? Complete a field hockey game on torn cartilage in knee? Not break down and cry when something emotionally awful happens? Yes, yes, and yes. I used to think that made me strong among the strong, tough beyond tough. So when I used to see these articles about strength coming from within and summoning mine, it made me feel weak. If I was supposed to be so tough, then why was I falling apart inside? No one knew but me, because I'm a firm believer in never letting 'em see me sweat! But still...depression, emotional drama, and the like? If I was supposedly so strong, according to my own standards, why couldn't I deal with it all? Took me many years, but I know the answer to the $100,000 Pyramid.

Because it wasn't and isn't mine to deal with. It's the Lord's. My adequacy is in Him. And the Bible says His strength is made perfect in my weakness. So like, if I'm thinking I'm so strong on my own...all by my lonesome...that's pretty dangerous. In a moment, my emotions can flip upside down and leave me questioning myself! But if I'm grounded in the Word and understand that my strength isn't my own, I can stop beating myself up on those rare occasions where I begin to feel pretty weak. Truth is, weak is the new 40 is the new 20! The Bible tells me so! Well, maybe not about 40 being the new 20, but you know what I'm sayin'...

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bad Stuff's Gonna Happen

I mean let's face it, bad stuff's definitely gonna happen. It's just a fact.

I was once asked by a family member, "how can you love a God who allowed you to get ms?" My response...He never said bad things weren't going to happen, but I couldn't imagine dealing with it without Him. And please don't think for a minute that I go through every day with hymns playing in my mind, free of worry and care. I can honestly say that I violate Matthew 25-27 on a consistent basis.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

I copied and pasted it here so I could read it yet again. I've mentally rewritten it to make it more applicable to my life. I don't worry about food or clothes. I have little to no fashion sense, so I wouldn't know enough to worry. I have a friend who wants to nominate me for What Not To Wear. She says it has nothing to do with my style. Oh honey, I may have holes in my head, but I don't have any lesions in the common sense compartment! Eating/drinking? Not an issue, unless Dunkin' Donuts goes out of business and can no longer manufacture coffee. Then it's Game Over!

My worries manifest themselves in the "what if" game. While I don't always partake in it, I do have my moments. God, in His faithfulness, always sends me numerous signs that speak to my worry. For example, yesterday morning, I had woken up all half in/half out of sleep. In my usual morning inventory, I found I could not move my right leg to the side of the bed. Enter PANIC! Oh no...this is it...right leg didn't show up for work and I'm not going to be able to get around well, what if the other leg doesn't show up for work tomorrow, in the words of my grandmom, "this is the worst day ever", husband's already off to work, kids need breakfast...and I'm out of Calgon! Turns out I had it caught up in my blanket and hadn't woken up enough to realize it. Duh.

But I thought of it periodically for much of the day. What if tomorrow's the day I wake up and that inventory doesn't check out? All this was bombarding my mind as I mowed my lawn, you know...the yard I used to mow with a push mower, but now need a Deere to care for...and the worries became so loud that I heard nothing BUT. I started to cry, couldn't quite see through the tears, got a little too close to the drainage ditch and woosh! Right on in it I went, mower stuck in the mud up past the bottom lip of the deck. I jumped off a la Pitfall, the 80s arcade game, and ran all the way up the yard to get my race watching husband. I lied to him and said I was driving along and got sucked into the ditch. He totally saw my tire marks that pretty much drove straight into the ditch. Hey I'm sorry! I retro'ed to little kid mode when I saw how annoyed he was. Truth be told, I get stuck a lot. It's the adventurer in me. I'm the girl who says, "I can make I can't".

The very long and silent walk to the running mower, stuck up to its green parts in quasi-quicksand, was rough. He was surely thinking how limitless his love is for me (not), and I was still in worry mode, thinking, "wonder if he would carry me around if my legs take a vacation". I was standing there entertaining the scenarios, while he was staring down the mower, formulating a plan, wrinkling up his mustache. And then God said, "be still!" Just then, my husband, aka "ox", got down in that ditch, grabbed the backend of the mower, and proceeded to move it up and out to freedom with his bare hands! I thought to myself, "if he can lift 495lbs, SURELY he can carry me!" Have I mentioned lately how much I heart my husband?

Ah yes, Lord...thank you for sending him to me, and for all the other times Your message comes through so clearly via my family and friends. It really helps to comfort me in the storms of life. I honestly have THE best family and friends ever.

And then there are those songs that continue to speak to me at just the right times. I wish Bible verses came to me as readily as song verses, but I guess it's all working toward the same end. This from Addison Road:

If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I'm Yours
I am not my own
I've been carried by you my whole life

So yeah. Why am I afraid? If the inventory doesn't check out, am I not His? 'Course I am. My problem is that I have the head knowledge and something a dear friend and I call "God ego"...where I'm confident in Him. I still need to work on putting it in my heart. Like the title of the post says, bad stuff's gonna happen, but I have the best defense against anything this life can throw my way. Now if I could only stop taking morning inventory and commit myself to focusing solely on God's love for me, I might actually stop worrying! Then again, if I throw caution to the wind, jump up out of bed and a leg doesn't work, I might have to pencil roll all the way to the bathroom. In the morning, I have 2.2 seconds to make it in there before there's a flood. And if I miss the bathroom door and roll down the steps by accident...ok so that visual is kinda funny! Wouldn't be the first time I took a header down those steps...

Here's a link to that song, so you all may be equally blessed:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Caution: Contains God Stuff

My church is hosting a ladies' retreat at a local campground this weekend. I guess I'd sum it up as high school slumber party (minus drama) meets campground worship. So tonight, a group of us were hard at work, preparing, decorating, yada yada. I walked out of the building and immediately noticed how beautiful the moon was. The clouds were amazing, all lit up by said moon. And all you could hear besides the sound of crickets was...nuthin'. It was simply awesome.

I stood there staring at the moon, breathing in the air, and everything else went away! All the stress and worry of the past couple of weeks? Forgot about 'em. I didn't feel pain, unsteadiness, or discomfort. The peace I felt was so overwhelming that I struggled to keep it together. I felt like THAT would be the thing that pushed me off the ledge into Cryfest 2009! But I looked back up into the sky, just before I lost it, and the urge to cry took a vacation. I stood in awe of God's love for me. I've been praying for peace and it was delivered...tonight.

Again, me with a song...but this time, not Janet Jackson. A song verse came to mind, which could've served as my personal theme music tonight. It goes "all of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory. And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me". The peace of the night, which I saw as His glory, had eclipsed my "afflictions". And I nearly fell face down in awe of His "affection". Then I thought, what if someone sees me fall? Eh, they'll just chalk it up to ms. I so could've gotten away with it!

But seriously, when I'm made to see just how small I am in the grand scheme of things and how He is everything, it'll occasionally weaken my legs. I'm one of the most undeserving people of His grace, yet it's always there. Regardless of whether or not I actively seek Him or only remember to pray hardest when the going gets rough, the grace is there. I guess that's the whole point, right? I fall short. I can't earn it. The only thing we're on is His grace, which is always sufficient. It's just the neatest thing ever. The peace that God grants me really does eclipse everything from health concerns to drama du jour. I knew today would be a better day, but I underestimated just how great it would be!

Here's a link to the song, in case you want to blast it. Watch your computer speakers, though. I can't be responsible for that. Ha!