Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 15, 2018

This past week has been really good. My walking was better and there were things to celebrate. I didn't fall and felt like for the most part, I could get around easier. I'm feeling extremely blessed as I write this post tonight. That doesn't mean there weren't frustrating moments or that my week was perfect, but it does mean that I'm growing and that God's allowing me to learn and see beauty in the broken.

This past week we celebrated Mother's Day. And in honor of that I'm going to tell you a story about my mom. I might have already shared this before, but it's worth sharing again. It's one of those moments in life that I'll never forget and one that has had a lasting impact on me ever since it happened. I had just had the awake portion of the deep brain stimulation surgery (there were three separate surgeries that encompassed the deep brain stimulation surgery experience). It had been quite a day. I had to spend one night in the hospital for monitoring, but would be able to go home the next day. Mom and I were watching my favorite show, Chicago Med, on TV. About 15 minutes into it, I couldn't watch it anymore. It's not that anything on screen got to me, it's that my head was killing me. And for me NOT to watch my favorite show, you know I had to be in pain. ;) I couldn't sit up in a chair anymore. I had to lay down. I got in the hospital bed and then I couldn't keep my eyes open. The pain was excruciating. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "splitting headache". It literally felt like my head would split open. I got pain meds, but they didn't even take the edge off. The nurses gave me more medication and it still didn't even touch me. They finally got permission from the doctor to give me a stronger medication and it helped some, but really not enough. I was miserable. I was nauseous and knew that any movement would make me throw up. My mom was with me through the whole thing. She would go get the nurses and demand that I get more medication. She brought me banana popsicles and saltine crackers - the only two things I could stomach. She did it all that night. But, what I cherish the most and what still makes me tear up to this day is that, in the middle of the night, in the darkness of the room as I was crying in my pillow, she gently reached over, found my hand and held it. That's a mother's love. No words needed to be spoken (although she did pray over me!), just the simple touch of a hand to let me know she was there and she cared. The most simplest of acts, yet the one that I'll never ever forget. So, thank you, Mom for that. It meant the world!

Not only was it Mother's Day on Sunday, but it was my brother's birthday. He came into town and we celebrated. It was a fantastic weekend and I didn't think much about walking at all. When I don't constantly focus on walking, it's easier to do. It's good to have happy distractions in life!!

I just got home a little while ago from a yoga session. I am learning so much. It's definitely NOT easy for me, but I'm growing and learning. The more I do it, the easier it gets. However, it's still challenging! For all these years I thought yoga was all about zenning out, but yoga can kick my butt too! It can definitely be quite the workout. I feel stronger after I do it - whether I succeed in the task at hand or not. I am so thankful that I have a kind and patient instructor. I still want to do things "perfectly", but I'm finding more and more that "perfect" is boring.

Uniqueness is a gift given by God that we all should embrace. I'm speaking more to myself here than to anyone else. Embrace life as you have it now. Laugh more, judge less. If you fall, fall with flair. Be bold, be courageous and always remember God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 8, 2018

I have a confession to make. I try so hard to write these blog posts before Tuesday night, so that I can post them earlier than I do. However, I've only succeeded at that less than a handful of times. There's just something about writing them on a Tuesday night that works for me, I guess. These posts are off the cuff and spontaneous, yet I still "agonize" over what to put in them and give great thought into what I say. I'm just a writing contradiction of myself, I guess! What I mean is that I know I'm going to write a blog post every Tuesday and although I dwell on what I'm going to write about, I actually have no idea what I'm going to write about until I start typing it. Does that make sense? Probably not, but that's OK!

Lately, I've really been trying to concentrate on being "uniquely me". I've been trying to be OK with my idiosyncrasies (you wouldn't believe how many times it took me to at least get somewhat close in spelling idiosyncrasies so that Google would understand the word I was trying to use. I used to be so good at spelling words!). This is hard work! Being OK with the way I walk is HARD. I want to do it "perfectly", but perfectly for me, is going to be different than what it is to those who have no walking issues. And that's OK. I just have to let it be. It's so much easier to say (or in this case, write) that, than to actually put it into practice, but I'm trying. The way I walk makes me uniquely me.

This past week, my walking has improved. However, I still get nervous at times and will still gladly accept help. Most of the time. There are times when people have asked if I'd like help and I've turned them down. It's usually not because I'm embarrassed. It's not because I don't like them. It's because, in my mind and my heart, I know I can do it. So, I may be slow, but I do it. I walk on my own. On the flip side, there are times when people ask if I need help and I know in my heart that I can do it, but I want to get somewhere fast or I just feel like I need extra help so I'll accept. All this to say, if I decline help, please don't think I'm mad at you and if I accept it, please don't think of me as weak. My confidence in my walking abilities varies. Some days it's high and other days it's greatly lacking. There are just going to be good days and bad and it doesn't mean anything other than that.

I didn't fall in the past week, unless you count me falling over in yoga tonight. ;) My instructor asked if that's how I normally fall. I was doing a pose and lost my balance and kind of just rolled onto the floor. She said it was graceful. I assured her that that is not the way I normally fall. No, my normal falls include flailing of arms and making a big scene, blood and tears. There is no "graceful" in them. :) At least tonight, I "gracefully" tipped over and there was no making a big scene, no blood, injuries or tears.

I remain at the same level of electricity in my deep brain stimulation device as I've been on the past couple of weeks. There are definitely signs that I could probably use a little more, but then I have to weigh the good with the bad. If I "up" the electricity will the good that comes from it outweigh the bad? I was just up a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't as good. So, I'll sit on this setting a little longer and see what happens from there. I can always change the setting if need be.

I think that's it for this post. Last week was good. It had its struggles at times, but overall, it was good. I thank the Lord for good days and weeks. I'm blessed in so many ways. The way I walk - good or bad - makes me uniquely me. No matter what, I must always remember that God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 1, 2018

This post is going to be a little different tonight. I had a "rough draft" of what I thought I was going to blog about tonight but decided to throw that out the window and praise Jesus. Yes, praise Jesus. Too often, I'm way too pessimistic. As I was sitting in traffic on my way home from yoga tonight, I decided that I would ONLY praise Jesus in this post. So here goes: a sampling of things that have happened in the past week in which I only have Jesus to thank and praise for. In no particular order, here's my thank you note to Him:

- I didn't fall!
- I made it to the gas station without running out of gas AND I got .20 cents per gallon off.
- I have a job that I love and co-workers who I love even more.
- I had a friend walk with me on Sunday morning into church (thank you, Tina).
- I'm able to pay for medication and doctors visits, when so many around the world aren't.
- I got to see both of my nieces. I witnessed one get giddy about putting her money in the offering plate at church and the other, ever so sweetly and subtly, came up and put her hand in mine and we stood hand-in-hand. Precious moments indeed.
- My hair is long enough to put into a ponytail! (Mom, if you're reading this, I am going to cut it soon, because it needs it, I just haven't had time.)
- I can use my left arm and hand (I was once again reminded tonight that there was a time right after DBS surgery that I couldn't.).
- There is no such thing as "bad" walking. Either you walk or you don't. (Thank you, Jack for those wise words that I still carry with me all the time).
- It's MAY and it was warm outside today. I love, love, love warm weather. There's also more sunlight which does my soul good.
- Even when it's hard, I love yoga. I love my instructor and the encouragement she gives. She's a bright light in this world.
- As I was stuck in traffic, I was able to view the most spectacular sunset and listen to hymns by Amy Grant.
- I get to watch a favorite TV show tonight and eat ice cream.

I know there are so many other things I could list, big and small, but the above is just a sampling. Even when life seems overwhelming and hard, if you really look for it, good is always there. Good is always there because God is there. My "life verse" is Philippians 4:6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." However, just a couple of verses before that, Philippians 4:4 states, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Tonight, I'm rejoicing in Jesus. Life's tough, but God's Got This!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: April 24, 2018

Since this morning I've been trying to come up with something to write about on this blog. It's now 8:11 pm and I just got home from yoga. I've got rice cooking in the microwave and I'm just now sitting down to write. I've been trying to come up with something witty or funny, but nothing's come to mind. Nothing! I'm having major writer's block. I can't think of anything wise or inspiring or funny or sarcastic or anything and it's driving me nuts!! So, I guess I'll just be boring and state the facts. :)

Over the week, I collected a couple of cool quotes that I've been pondering.

I had a pretty good week overall. I didn't fall (yay!) and I had some better walking days. I did decide on Saturday (after a week) to take the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device back down to 3.20 volts.

I was still experiencing some random spasms that weren't allowing me to completely trust that my legs would hold me. So I'm back to where Dr. Tollesson had set the electricity back in March. In my unscientific, untrained mind, I think that my brain just needed a little kick-start. It got complacent. So I turned the electricity up a couple of notches and then slowly turned it back down. We'll see if this works - ha! You may be hearing next week that I've adjusted it again. I'm just thankful that I can adjust it. When I really sit down and think about that (adjusting it), it still amazes me. What a complex, awesome, unique body we have. I thank God that he's given doctors the wisdom and knowledge to be able to fix things that go awry in our bodies. We most definitely are uniquely and wonderfully made!

I'll close with this: even when I get down or discouraged or don't think progress is coming as quickly as I'd like it, I remind myself that God is God and I am not and He knows what He is doing. I am learning so much through this journey and I'm completely in awe of how awesome God is. This I know for sure - God's Got This!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: April 17, 2018

From last week’s post to this week’s post, I decided that I gave myself too much electricity. I didn’t fall, but I was having other problems. Mainly I was getting spasms in my leg and arm and I had very awkward movements and wasn’t able to get around as well as I was hoping and praying for. I didn’t trust that my leg or foot would hold me. So, I gave it a week and on Saturday I took the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device down a notch. I’m now resting at 3.30 volts. I can already see a subtle difference.

Oftentimes I feel like a toddler learning to walk. Like when the mom or dad is coaxing the toddler, “One more step, you can do it. I’m right here.” Except in my scenario, I’m not a toddler and I do my own coaxing 😊. Unfortunately, like a toddler, I get jealous sometimes too. I get jealous that most people can walk without thinking. But then I remind myself that I can move without thinking for the most part and some people can’t at all. It’s all perspective. 😉

I didn’t fall at all this past week, yet I was nowhere near walking as well as I wanted to or even as well as I have in the past. It’s so frustrating!! I have a very, very, very hard time giving myself grace. I’m working on this, but it is so hard!! God sends people into my life (particularly, in this instance, my yoga instructor) to literally tell me, “Give yourself grace”. I know, as a Christian, that grace is freely given to me by God. It is preached every Sunday, but sometimes (OK, maybe more than that), I forget. So, God gives me reminders, which I am eternally grateful for!

Speaking of Sundays, this past Sunday, God once again answered my prayer. As I was walking in to church, a friend (Melanie) came up beside me and gave me an arm. Just a little more support. She didn't make a big scene, she just simple offered more support. She was literally my answered prayer. Thank you, God for people like Melanie. They don't want fanfare, they just selflessly give of themselves to help where help is needed.

I’ve been reflecting on this picture that I saw on Facebook a few weeks ago:

It’s so true…God doesn’t always pluck us from fires, instead He gives us Jesus to help us through. With Jesus by our side, we have nothing to fear. I was also reflecting on why we have to go through fires in the first place and why God doesn't always pluck us quickly from them. Maybe God doesn’t pluck us from a fire because He knows that it will refine us. Maybe it’ll mold us. Maybe it’ll help us relate more to others. Maybe it’ll soften us. Maybe it’ll force us to give ourselves, as well as others, leaps and bounds of grace. Maybe it’ll draw us closer to Him. Maybe, it’ll remind us that God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: April 10, 2018

I learned very early on after starting to have issues walking, that medicine is just as much an art as it is a science. Therefore, we say that doctor’s “practice” medicine. I keep reminding myself of this. For someone like me, who tends to see things as black or white, this can be frustrating! I don’t mind mysteries, but what I really love is solving the mystery.

This past week, I tried to give myself grace, however, more than not, I got frustrated. I didn’t magically or miraculously return to walking as I had hoped I would. Walking is an art as much as it is a science. 😊 I fell again – this time on Wednesday and at work. I was rushing (at least trying to!). The fall aggravated the same knee with the same cut I got on Easter Sunday and therefore it bled. I think I need a skin graft on that area by now. I’m only kidding (well, slightly, anyway). But seriously, the skin is so thin on that knee that any bump or aggravation to it immediately rips the skin off and causes it to bleed all over again. Therefore, it takes on the appearance that I am hurt worse than I am. Since Wednesday, I’ve been putting triple antibiotic ointment on it and covering it in a huge bandage. Since Easter Sunday, I had been using regular sized bandages, but each time I would have to take it off (I let it stay on as long as possible), it would tear off the new skin that was growing. When I fell on Wednesday, I had a bandage on it, but it didn’t help at all. So, I started wearing the larger ones – not that the cut is that big, it just protects it more.

By Saturday, I was fed up with the way I was walking. There was nothing to be stressed about, nothing to explain why I wasn’t walking any better. I had a friend at church (Carrie) ask me on Wednesday how I was doing. She was there on Sunday when I was foraging the church’s kitchen first aid box for a bandage. I told her that I had fallen again that day and she asked if I needed more electricity. I pondered that and by Saturday decided that I should at least try it. I could always go back or adjust if needed and walking was not any better on Saturday then it had been. So, I upped the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device. I stayed on the same frequency (A) but increased the voltage from 3.20 volts to 3.40 volts. Almost immediately, I could sense it in my left hand. But, since this is an art as much as a science, I must give it time. I doubt myself often though. I know what Dr. Tolleson (my neurologist) has told me and I do what he says, but that doesn’t lessen my doubt that I’m doing the right thing. Maybe I should have stayed at the level I was at for another week or so? Maybe I should have only gone up by .10 to 3.30 volts instead of 3.40? Those are some of the thoughts that go through my head. But in the end, I know God’s in control, so everything will work out as it should. However, I’d kind of like it to work out faster. 😉 Again, my impatience is showing!

This past week, I re-watched the movie, “Miracles From Heaven”. It’s based on a true story of a little girl from Texas who was miraculously healed from a devastating disease after falling the equivalent of three stories in a hollowed-out tree. The first time I saw the movie, it was right after the deep brain stimulation surgeries. I loved it. I now own the movie on DVD, but hadn’t re-watched it, until Saturday. I thought maybe I wouldn’t like it as much as the first time because I wasn’t just recovering from surgery, but that was not the case. In some ways, I loved it even more this time because I’m two years post-surgery. I know that God is the God of Miracles, but I’m also human and impatient and fallible. That part of me leads me to doubt sometimes that God hears or will heal. I know in my heart and soul that He does, but sometimes when I’m in the weeds it’s much easier to doubt than to have faith. Through the movie, God reminded me that even when I doubt or when I’m sure He’s not listening, He’s still working for me and in me and through me. It also reminded me that God’s time is God’s time and not mine. He works on His schedule, not mine.

Saturday, Mom and I went to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. It was cold and rainy (actually SNOWY on APRIL 7 – this is NOT Knoxville, Tennessee weather!!!), but I had the best time. We went out to eat beforehand and got to talk, just the two of us. She gave wonderful advice on some things I needed advice on and I loved spending time with her. But, I started second guessing my decision to up the electricity. I didn't walk all that great, but I didn't fall either, so it turned out alright!

Sunday, I prayed that I would be able to walk without falling. Whether it’s psychosomatic, physical or a little bit of both, messing with the electricity messes with me for a little awhile after I adjust it. I wasn’t feeling all that steady on Sunday, but God had me covered. I found a handicap parking spot close to the door at church. No sooner had I gotten out of my car than my friends (and Sunday school leaders!), Brian and Whitney came walking by. I held on to Whitney. Later that morning, at the end of Bible study my sister-in-law sent me a text and asked if I was at church and if I was, if I could watch my almost two-year-old niece, Hope, for a minute while Aubrey got ready to sing in our praise band. Of course, I would watch Hope! When I got down to the family life center, while I was still at the back and Hope was at the front, Hope spotted me and started running full speed in my direction, yelling “Aunt Stephanie! Aunt Stephanie!” When she made it to me, she gave me the biggest hug. And whatever worries I had, just melted away. There’s nothing better than unconditional love. It was such a HUGE metaphor for God’s love. No matter what, even with all the filth of sin, God loves me unconditionally.

Tonight, I had yoga. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. While I did “homework” this past week, I didn’t do it as much as I should have or even could have. But tonight was awesome. Meryl, my instructor asked what I was feeling like doing. I concluded that I wanted a little bit of being pushed and a little bit restorative. That’s what we did and I felt so empowered afterwards. Meryl is such an awesome teacher. She is very compassionate and yet knows when to push. I’m blessed by her every time I see her.

This past week, I once again learned so much about life and love and patience and perseverance. I end this post as I always do, proclaiming that “God’s Got This” because He most certainly does!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tune-In-Tuesday: April 3, 2018

I’m not going to lie, this past week has been trying. It's been hard. How can such a “little” (haha) thing as walking be so darn difficult sometimes?! I ask myself this all the time. At one point in life, I did it without thinking. At another point in life, I did it with assistance. And still at yet another point in life, I’m doing it with the knowledge that I’m a thousand times better than I used to be, but still so very far from where I want to be. Walking like I did last week and am continuing to do this week, frustrates me to no end. And yet, God is still good. He still has me. He still shows up. He still allows me to see beauty in ashes. Thank you, Jesus!

Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) is my favorite week of the year. Even more so than my birthday week (and if you know me, you know I LOVE celebrating my birthday!). I love everything about Holy Week. The significance of it. The remembrance of it. From Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday through Easter – I love celebrating it. I also know Satan hates this and he’ll do anything in his power to steal my joy. But not this year. Oh, he tried and sometimes, somewhat succeeded, but I fought back and it was a beautiful thing.

Since last Tuesday night, I have not walked well. I’ve struggled significantly. I can and do chalk it up to several factors including stress, excitement (even good excitement sometimes affects me negatively when it comes to walking), emotions, and that time of the month (sorry if that’s too much information!). However, I think the main reason this time around might just have been Satan himself. He tried at every point to steal my joy. I got stressed, worried, anxious, but God allowed me to see that in myself and (for the most part) turn it around. So, while I didn’t lose joy, I did lose my balance, my confidence (somewhat) and my ability to walk the way I want to. BUT, through all that, I found my joy, as weird as that sounds!

For those that heard my dad’s sermon on Sunday, I promise you, I’m not stealing from it. This Easter, I decided that I wanted to attend the sunrise service at church. Every year, I’ve wanted to attend and yet every year, I decide that I’m too tired! But this year, this was the year that I made it to the sunrise service! No sooner had I stepped out of my car, then I tripped and fell. As I was picking myself up, I almost laughed. Satan was trying once again to steal my joy. I wasn’t going to allow him to do so. It was as I was picking myself up that I told him, “Not today, Satan, not today. You’ve tried, but no matter what – whether I keep falling, or walk perfectly – you’re not stealing my joy.” Little did I know my dad was preaching on our journey in life and a big chunk of the sermon was about joy. So again, I promise you, I didn’t steal this lesson from my dad’s sermon, although, isn’t it so cool how God works? That, and I’m definitely my father’s daughter! ;)

I’ve talked about being “perfect” in other posts on this blog. When I fell on Sunday, I definitely wasn't feeling perfect. I skinned my knee and bled. But, I had a choice to make. Would I let it ruin Easter? In that moment, God allowed me to shift my perspective. God didn't cause me to fall, but He used the situation for good. In that fall, God allowed me to see (again!) that it's not about me. I'm not the one in control - He is. Sometimes I must be brought to my knees to fully grasp how great a God I serve. I tend to get a “me” complex. It’s all about me. I also think I am the only one who can make things better. This simply is not so. Falling is not pleasant. It hurts and it’s downright humiliating, but if it happens so that I am thrown off my high horse, then so be it. I tried, but I simply can’t put into words what happened to me spiritually when I fell on Sunday. It literally happened in all of 30 seconds, but it was profound and it was perfect, even if it was caused by a most imperfect act.

I’m not sure if any of the above makes sense. Words are escaping me now. I can’t express how God used a humiliating, hurtful, humbling, imperfect situation to show me His perfect love for me. Just know that I’m forever grateful for falling on Easter morning. I can’t believe I just wrote that, but it’s true! "Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives all fear is gone. Because I know he holds the future and life is worth the living just because he lives." I am so very thankful and so very humbled knowing that in ALL things, God’s Got This!