New Year Ramblings

2019 was HARD! My physical health was tested. My mental health was tested. My marriage and parenting were testing. My faith was tested. There’s no way to disguise the fact that it was just plain HARD!

But, 2019 was also so GOOD! I got to watch my husband step up and be the man God designed him to be. I’ve listened to him pray over me, argue with doctors and nurses over my health, and plead my case over and over. I’ve watched him hold my hand, shed a few tears, and be the bigger person more times than I can count. I’ve watched him reassure our kiddo that momma would be ok and that God was going to make it all right.

I watched my daughter turn into the bravest young girl I know. She has matured so much this year. I’ve also watched her confidence grow by leaps and bounds this past year.

I’ve watched my cute nephews grow up right before my eyes and made some of the best memories with them.

I followed God’s calling and stepped away from a career I thought I loved, and discovered I could be just as fulfilled by being a stay at home mom.

I found a new little crafting hobby that has kept my mind busy and introduced me to so many new people.

I’ve learned that going to and talking about therapy is ok! I’ve found that talking openly about mental health is ok, and necessary, in today’s society. The stigma surrounding mental health treatment has to end and I would love to be the person to help build that cause.

I’ve seen that old friendships are the best ones and will always be worth rekindling.

I’ve watched loved ones pass away that we thought would be here much longer than they were.

I’ve learned that some people only “love you” for what you can do for them, not who you are. I’ve also learned it’s ok to distance myself from those people to focus on myself, my family, and my own journey.

I’ve learned that when everyone else walks away, my family will be always be there to pick me up and love on me.

I’ve discovered that my worth is NOT found in how much I work, how much I do for others, how many things I find to keep myself busy (even within the church walls), or the number of things I can check off of a to do list or resume. But, my worth, and my joy, is found in who He says I am. I am loved, worthy, chosen, a friend, redeemed, a temple, and set free.

So, here’s to hoping 2020 is the year of health, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Here’s to making 2020 a year of learning to be still and intentional, focusing on being the woman God designed me to be, not the woman others think God made me to be.

Here’s to dropping the veil of perfectionism and learning to embrace the messy, with Jesus right beside me.

Conversion Disorder Update

Here’s an update for all of you that wanna know ….

Thursday and Friday (12/26 – 12/27/19) I had awful tremors. With it being the holiday season, finding care is hard. But, it’s even harder because my condition is not well known in our area.

My primary doctor is •amazing• at helping me with symptoms, but he’s out of office for the holiday and his on-call dr wasn’t really sure what to do.

The in and out clinic and urgent doc both refused to see me because I present with stoke and seizure symptoms which they do not treat. The referred me to the ER, but we’ve been down that road and they are also clueless. The ER dr looked at me last time and said “What do you want want ME to do for you?”

My neurologist is 2 hours away running her own clinic and is hard to get in touch with.

And, last, but not least, my therapist is off through the holidays.

So, Dr. Google, aka my husband, made his own action plan.

I have a prescription for Ativan, which usually calms my spasms and tremors. However, even after increasing my dosage as suggested by primary dr the last time this happened, my entire body continued to spasm and tremor. So much so that my legs continue to constantly ache and my body is exhausted.

In addition to the tremors I also have weakness in my left hand grip, the left side of my face is slightly drawn, my speech is distorted, and I’m currently walking with a slight limp since my left leg isn’t functioning properly.

My neurologist was finally able to call in a prescription for Depakote, which basically makes me sleepy and calms my brain activity. It reduces the spasms, but the other symptoms will only get better with time. I do have a follow up with her at the beginning of January so maybe we can make a more thorough action plan. I’m going to ask for more physical and occupational therapy and possibly speech therapy.

I understand that conversion disorder will more than likely be part of my life story from now on, and I’m perfectly ok with that. There are good days and there are not so good days. They are great days and there are awful days! I’m just learning to take it all in stride.

Despite my health, God is good. He has a plan for my pain and aches, my neurological symptoms, and this crazy journey! ❤️

My New Friend

I have a new friend.

He follows me everywhere I go. I try to make him leave, but he always reappears at the door. Sometimes, he’s even in the shower with me reminding me that it’s been two days since I’ve washed my hair. He sleeps in the same bed as I do, infiltrating my dreams with vivid visions that make no sense, which can be very uncomfortable for my husband and I. He rides in the car beside me and points out every single car that slightly crosses into my line or decides to turn in front of me with no blinker. He stands with me while I cook dinner and feed the animals, and whispers negative thoughts in my ear. He’s right beside me when I’m helping with homework, looking for the right opportunity to make me feel annoyed with my child. I mean, I CANNOT, get him to leave.

He gets in the middle of my relationships and causes worry and fear to linger. Sometimes, he tells me I’m not good enough and I should have accomplished more during the day. He expects a certain level of perfection and keeps the wheels turning in my brain until that level of perfection is attained. He causes my body to sometimes shut down completely. Its frustrating when he makes my body tremor from head to toe, causes my limbs to go numb and weak, and removes my ability to speak. He causes fear to rush over my family members as they watch me lay in bed unable to function. Yet, there my friend ALWAYS is, waiting for me to rise every single morning so he can interrupt my daily routine.

Who is this friend, you ask? He has lots of “nicknames”. Some refer to him as “generalized anxiety disorder” or “panic attack”. Others refer to him as “conversion disorder” or “functional neurological disorder”. And, some can’t seem to give him a name because he’s so random!

But, his name really isn’t important to me. His identity, thoughts, and actions don’t define me. You see, I have a BEST friend, who is much more powerful than this new friend. My best friend is with me in everything I do, just like this new, annoying friend. Except, my best friend is different. He doesn’t cause worry and grief. He doesn’t cause my body to quit functioning properly. He doesn’t send negative thoughts and whispers into my mind. He can control my mind, just like my new friend, but He does it with peace and joy.

What’s my best friend’s name, you wonder?

He has lots of nicknames too. Let’s name just a few:

• Prince of Peace

• King of Kings

• Savior

• Lord

• The Beginning and the End

• Rock of Ages

• Jesus

• Christ

But, my favorite name for Him is FRIEND. I met Him when I was 12 and chose to have Him spend His days with me. I didn’t choose my new friend, but I chose, and still choose, Jesus.

His name matters to me because He determines my identity. He tells me I am chosen. He tells me I am worthy. He tells me I am enough. He tells me I don’t have to be perfect. He tells me I’m forgiven.

And, when my new friend is more than I can bear, and physically takes over my body’s well-being, Jesus goes to battle for me. I may spend a few days, or weeks at a time, resting, but I’m letting Jesus fight my battle because I know when I am weak, He is strong.

Do you have a best friend like my Jesus? If not, I’d love to chat with you about the abundant life He came to this Earth to give YOU and I. He’s waiting and willing to be your best friend too!

A Praying Wife

Let’s admit it. Our husbands can {sometimes} be the most annoying people in our lives. They tend to leave the toilet seat up, causing us ladies to slip into the bowl of cold water during a middle of the night bathroom trip. They usually don’t take the extra effort to toss their dirty socks into the laundry hamper. Instead, they leave them on the floor right where they took them off. 🤦🏻‍♀️ And, don’t get me started on the dishes in the sink. I know my husband isn’t the only one who forgets to rinse his coffee out of his cup, or the ketchup off his plate, when he places it in the sink.

It’s so easy to point out all of the little faults our husbands have, including not cleaning up his whiskers after he shaves. But, ladies, God has called our husbands to be the leaders of our households and to love us.

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
Colossians 3:19

It’s so easy to throw this Biblical truth in the face of our husbands. To tell them they are called to “love us and be kind”. But, let’s think about our actions as wives for a minute. If roles were reversed and your husband was reminding you of all the little things you do wrong, do you think you would always be kind? Probably not.

We can’t expect our husbands to be perfect, when we, as wives, aren’t perfect.

Instead of constantly nagging our husbands, what if we commit to pray for them.

Let’s commit to praying that our husbands will ….

• submit to Christ as the true head of our households

• make wise decisions regarding our families’ finances

• find a place of peace and rest when they are at home

• know that we love them conditionally, not just by our words, but by our actions

• be of sound mind and remain safe when away from home

• love others like Christ

• set a Godly example for our children

• pray daily

It is my belief, that praying for our husbands, and watching God work in them, is one of the biggest blessings we can experience on this side of heaven.

So, I leave you with a question.

Have you prayed for your husband as much as you’ve talked about him?

My handsome husband and I

Bible Study Blues

Let’s face it! Making time for daily bible study can be HARD as a mom in today’s world. Between making breakfast, picking up toys, packing lunches, helping with homework, cooking dinner, reading bed time stories, washing laundry, and the endless list of other motherhood chores, it is sad to admit that our daily time with Jesus often gets put on the back burner. But, incorporating a daily bible study time all boils down to time management and making spending time with Jesus a priority. The truth is, digging deep into the Word and making it a daily habit to spend time talking to God is essential in our daily lives.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

If our goal is to raise children who go out into the world knowing that Jesus loves them and feeling confident in the person they are in Christ, we must model what it’s like to have a DAILY relationship with Jesus. Psalm 127:4 tells us that “children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hand (NLT)”. As followers of Jesus, we are called to put on the full armor of God, including the shoes of the Gospel, and be warriors for Christ. This means it is essential to dig into the word daily, even in the midst of motherhood.

If motherhood, or just daily life has you bogged down, here are 5 simple ways to break your Bible Study Blues.

  • Listen to a Christian podcast or YouTube channel. Put your headphones in while you fold laundry. Connect your Bluetooth speaker while you’re in the shower. Connect your phone to your car radio while you’re in the car rider line. It doesn’t have to a lengthy production, just make sure you’re listening to someone speak truth based on Biblical principles.
  • Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier and read Scripture. I know, I know. Who WANTS to get up 30 minutes earlier? It will be hard at first. You will be tired. You will want to hit snooze. But, DON’T! Get up. Grab your Bible and your favorite morning drink and dig in!
  • Pray daily. This seems like a lot. But, good news, Jesus goes with you EVERYWHERE! You don’t have to be on your knees at the altar to talk to Jesus. You can pray in the shower. You can pray while cooking dinner. You can pray over the phone with a friend. Your prayers don’t have to be filled with eloquent words and be super lengthy. Jesus simply wants to hear from you DAILY, even if you can’t find the words to speak.
  • Start a journal. If keeping a journal is your thing, do it! Doodle words that stand out to you as you read, or listen, to the Word. Keep a bullet journal of thoughts that the Holy Spirit reveals to you. If you’re at a loss for how to journal, download my FREE {Bible Study Notes} Printable below to get you started!
  • Last, BE GRACIOUS AND KIND TO YOURSELF. There will be days you fail. There will be days you hit snooze. There will be time periods where you don’t open your Bible. It doesn’t mean you failed, it simply means you are human. God didn’t create us to be perfect. He created us to love and serve Him.

So, kick off your Bible Study blues and dig in!

FREE {Bible Study Notes} Printable

Being Still and Quiet

Let’s talk about silent struggles for a minute! 

In today’s society, we get so caught up in what looks •perfect•. We want our social media photos to be edited and “filtered” until they look worthy of being on a magazine cover. We want to be the mom who serves restaurant quality meals to our families. We want to create Pinterest worthy crafts and projects for our homes. We want to do all of these things (and more). But, the reality is, rather we openly admit it or not, we all struggle silently with different adversaries each and every day. This makes successfully completing the above list absolutely absurd.

Your silent adversary may be an autoimmune disease, a mental health struggle, diabetes, pain, grief, fatigue, or one of the many other things we tend to hide and conceal behind the smiles on our faces. But, what happens when your silent struggle appears and takes over your life?

This photo is during a flare of my own silent struggle, conversion disorder. This particular flare affected both sides of my body, paralyzing my face and producing an inability to smile.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with conversion disorder. It’s a neurological disorder occurring when the functional part of our brain functions improperly. I’m learning that it affects everyone differently, and is triggered in a plethora of ways. Most days, it stays hidden and undetected in my life. But, some days, it appears suddenly and cannot be controlled.

When I am in the midst of a flare, my face becomes paralyzed, my speech becomes distorted, and my hands tingle. Sometimes, I struggle to move my arms and legs. My brain becomes foggy and I experience extreme fatigue. 

It’s so easy to get lost in a pit of self-pity, bitterness, and frustration. It’s so easy to lose myself in worry and anger because I haven’t received a successful treatment plan.

Yet, it’s in those moments I learn to be still. I learn to focus completely on Jesus and the will of the Father. I learn to listen intently for guidance and how to rest completely in Him.

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

We don’t have to know all of the answers to the situations we are facing. We don’t have to strive to reach unrealistic expectations set by this world. We don’t have to worry about tomorrow. We don’t have to hide our struggles. We simply have to BE STILL and trust that He is God.

Whatever your silent struggle is today friend, know that He has it all in His hands. Lay your worries aside. Take a break and trust Him. Lay aside the need to be perfect and learn to appreciate the still, small moments. Sometimes, it may mean serving frozen pizza to your family for dinner! And, guess what? It’s ok! I promise it won’t hurt them!

Head to your local Walmart and grab the Totino’s party pack for $4.88. You can thank me later. 🙂

We aren’t called to be perfect. We are just called to be present.

What is “THIS”?

“You shouldn’t return to teaching to full time. We need to get ‘this’ under control.” I fought back tears as these words flowed from the doctor’s lips. Did she realize she was turning my whole world upside down with those two sentences?

“What is THIS,” you ask? It’s a complex concern summed up into two simple words coined by some doctor, we ‘regular folks’ can call •conversion disorder•.

Don’t worry. I’d never heard of it either. It completely caught me off guard, and brought me to state of fear and tears. Let me tell you, of all of the illnesses thought to cause this scare, conversion disorder is by far the one that frightens me most, because it’s the hardest to control.

Basically, a person with conversion disorder internalizes emotional and physical stress to the point of cracking. Think of filling a water balloon. On the outside, the ballon remains calm. It’s color and shape doesn’t change much. As water fills its internal space, the balloon does EXACTLY what we expect it to do. It holds more and more water and simply “does its job”. Until, one day, when the balloon least expects it, the weight of the water becomes too much and it literally cracks and breaks apart into a million pieces and is unrecognizable as a water balloon.

In a nutshell, that’s what happens to the body (mentally and physically) of a person with conversion disorder when the stresses of life become to heavy. In my scenario, because I am a 100% type A, people pleasing, won’t say no, driven and focused gal, I didn’t realize how much my balloon was filling up. So, God allowed my balloon to be broken to show me that I spent too much time checking off a “to do” list, instead of enjoying this amazing life and family He blessed me with. It’s crazy to think about it now.

How in the world can the human brain literally shut down the body because of stress? I mean, my life wasn’t any more stressful than the next girls. Or, was it? I’m slowly learning to let things go, to live in the moment, to search for joy in simply being still, and to lean more on God for peace and joy.

I’ve had a little over a month to dissect this new “me” and on a phone call with the neurologist this week, I finally felt like we were on a path to healing. This wasn’t any easy diagnosis to accept. Sadly, any “mental health concern” carries such a negative stigma in today’s society. I so badly wanted all of my issues to have a physical cause. Explaining that stress caused your body to shut down brings on a whole new set of stigmas, questions, and, sometimes, looks, that I have no answers for. Likewise, explaining you have a therapy appointment opens up a whole new conversation.

Yet, I’m learning that I don’t need the answers. It’s ok to say “I don’t know. I’m still learning.”

My prayer is that my journey will lead ONE person to find joy and peace in Jesus, despite what’s going on his or her personal life. I know without a doubt, that He calms the storm in me. I also pray that somehow my story will break down walls and barriers that our society forms around mental illness. I’m living proof that your brain’s health is just as important to daily living as your heart’s health.

So, for now, I’m stepping away from full-time teaching to focus on me, my family, and my time with Jesus. And, that is perfectly ok with me!