Friday, March 21, 2014

Visitor From Heaven

Visitor From Heaven
Words and Music by: Twila Paris

"A visitor from Heaven
If only for a while
A gift of love to be returned
We think of you and smile
A visitor from Heaven
Accompanied by grace
Reminding of a better love
And of a better place
With aching hearts and empty arms
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came
A visitor from Heaven
If only for a day
We thank Him for the time He gave
And now its time to say
We trust you to the Fathers love
And to His tender care
Held in the everlasting arms
And we're so glad you're there
We're so glad you're there
With breaking hearts and open hands
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came"
just couldn't let this day go by without stopping to remember Stacia. She'd be 24 this year. Some days 24 years seem just like yesterday. March 21 will always be a bittersweet day. But, God is faithful and even in sorrow, joy can be found. On my way into work this morning, The Lord blessed me with a beautiful sunrise as if to say, "There's a lot of celebrating going on in Heaven today! It's Stacia's birthday! Be happy and thank The Lord for He is good!"
Happy Birthday, Stacia! God knew what He was doing when He created you, when He called you His child and when He brought you home to live with Him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A God-Struck Thought

I love when God, just out of the blue, smacks me upside the head :) It's been almost 4 years since I got the diagnosis of dystonia and 9 years altogether that I've been dealing with its symptoms. Today, I got smacked upside the head with the realization that GOD'S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. OK, so, I've known this fact basically my whole life - but sometimes I need a good smacking to remember it! It was an ordinary Tuesday by all accounts, but at work, I was smacked with the thought that God has seen (and continues to see) me through. There was once a time where I distinctly remember thinking to myself "if I can walk, I'll be OK." Today I'm thinking "How incredibly arrogant of me!" There was once a time where I tried to hide the fact that I was having problems walking because I thought it was something I was somehow bringing on myself (and therefore something I had to fix myself). There was once a time I didn't want people seeing me walk with a cane. There was once a time when I was MORTIFIED to have to use a walker and I thought my life was over. But guess what? I'm OK!! My life isn't over because I have to use a walker. Yes, there are times when I shy away from things because I'm scared to death what people will think of me. I'm not brave all the time. But in all circumstances and in every situation GOD is there and His grace is abounding in ways that make me want to cry (in a good way!). God's grace cannot be matched. You know the Bible verse that says "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21)? Well, I assume most people use it in reference to losing a loved one (that's how I've usually referenced it!). But the same can be said of my ability (or lack thereof!) to walk. It can be in reference to anything that the Lord has given and allowed to be taken away. GOD'S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. In all my needs, in all my worries, my Jesus is right there beside me. How dare I forget that He's with me every second of every day! He's the one that carries me through. Thank you, Lord for taking an ordinary Tuesday and smacking me upside the head. I needed that smacking to jar me awake to the fact that You have never left me. You're the one that makes me able to walk into a room of strangers, walker in front of me and not cower in the corner. You're the one who sees me through every second of every minute of every hour of every day and I will PRAISE Your name in all things. It's by GRACE we are saved and not by our works (paraphrased from Ephesians 2:8-9). It's by GRACE we should live and show others the One by whom all things are given. Please, Lord, don't let me ever forget to praise Your Name and bow before Your throne. Thank you for the reminder, Lord that it's YOU who sees me through and it's by Your GRACE that I can say I have JOY in the journey of life.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Media and Medicine

Two of my favorite things collided on Saturday, March 8: media and medicine. Many of you know my love for ALL things media: TV, movies, acting, writing....But probably very few of you know of my love of medicine. I think it's because of my love of media that I developed a love of medicine. After all, my all-time favorite TV show is "ER"!! I'm just saying :) I find medicine fascinating. I also know that I'm not smart enough to ever be a nurse or doctor! I'll stick to working in the media and live vicariously through my brother who is a doctor!
Well, my two loves collided on March 8 when I got to do what I affectionately call "patient acting" at UT hospital. It was my second time doing it and I had a blast. This time around I played a 22 year old construction worker who fell 35 feet and was unconscious and unresponsive (except to painful stimuli). 
Here's some pictures of my "wounds"
The blue on my face is supposed to represent cyanosis, but I think they really just wanted me and the others to look like smurfs :)
I was patient G. And all the doctors taking the test got confused because their scenario said I was a male, but when they entered the room, they got me :) It also made for lots of laughs!
I was paired up with an awesome doctor to administer the test. He was hysterical and kept me entertained the entire time. He was professional while administering the test but fun in the in-between times when it was just the two of us waiting on the next test taker. Since I had done this once before I knew what to expect. My big deal (since I'm not a doctor!) was that I wanted each of the test takers to remember to say that they would cover me with a blanket (and yes, that's actually a part of the exam - them saying that step out loud). While Dr. A's big deal was for them to remember to say that they would give me a tetanus shot. So, after each doctor came in and took the test and then left we would giggle if they forgot those two steps (It wasn't something that would cause them to fail the exam). Dr. A would say, "Well, I guess your going to die of hypothermia and tetanus...sorry about that!" We had fun :) I also got to meet one of my brother's medical school classmates. She was the doctor overseeing another room's exam but during a break came in my room and just by happenstance we realized that she knew my brother. I sent Stanton a text telling him she said hi. Here's some of my props:
Thankfully, I didn't have to wear the leg immobilzer for real (although I tried it!). I did have to wear the front part of the neck brace and pretend I had the IV's in (I got all tangled in them!)

I had so much fun and actually learned a lot too! I met some wonderful people and really hope I get to do it again soon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Exercising and Eating Ice Cream

I will be the first to admit that I once thought exercise evil :) Just the mention of it, made me cringe. I was always the girl that came in last on the mile run at school, was always the last picked on the dodge ball team and so on. I did not like exercise, working out or really anything that had to do with sweating. When I heard people describe exercise as cathartic, stress relieving, calming...I thought they were nuts!! But something inside me started slowly changing. It happened about two years ago when the nutritionist that I am seeing mentioned the word "exercise" to me. Believe me, I put up a fight. I did NOT want to exercise. She let it go. Then she brought it back up again and I eventually gave in and said that I would "try" it. I had an old stationary bike at home that Mom and Dad had given me:
 I got on it. I forced myself to stay on it for 5 minutes. Five minutes, normally, is not a long time, but those five minutes seemed like 55 minutes to me. I was dying; I was sure of it. I was huffing and puffing and sweat was coming off of me like I had just stepped out of a rainstorm, but I did it - five whole minutes. And I did it without dying. But, I was done for the day! I reasoned with myself that if I could ride for five minutes every day that would be good enough (and it was). The following week, I decided to do ten minutes. Again, cue the dying music. I didn't think I'd make it - but just like the week before I did! I was so proud of myself. Just as I was getting in the groove of this exercise thing - the bike broke! This is where, looking back, I realized, I was changing. Because, instead of just throwing up my hands, I first tried fixing the bike and then when I realized that that was a hopeless cause, I put out an alert via Facebook to see if anyone had a bike they wanted to get rid of. And sure enough, someone in my church did! They delivered the new bike within a day or two and I was off to the races! 
I had to start all over again with going 5 minutes at a time and then 10 minutes. Eventually I got up to 20 minutes and then 30 and then 45 and then - yes I made it all the way up to an hour. I couldn't believe it - me, Stephanie, the one who never in a million years thought I would ever exercise, was now riding an exercise bike every day for an hour. Every day. For an hour. Where once I couldn't stand even the thought of exercise, now I couldn't stand the thought of NOT exercising. I finally knew what people were talking about when they said that they got that "runner's high". I wasn't running, but boy did I sure feel the high. I felt like I could do anything. Just me, the bike and time....
I rode my new recumbent bike so much that it broke too (after a year). I was heartbroken. I wasn't sure what I was going to do without it. I was going to get it fixed, but what would I do in the meantime? I started to panic. Then a thought came to me. Could I possibly run? If you know me at all, you know I don't run. Sheesh - I can't even walk without assistance! How in the world would I run?! I thought to myself - "it's just me here by myself in the house. If I fall, I fall and I get back up." With that, I started running in place. OK - so maybe it was more like stepping in place! I had to hold on to the door frames to keep my balance, but I was doing it! Again, I started small - 5 minutes and then I worked my way up. But boy was I ever excited when my bike was fixed!! I could finally sit down and relax - haha!! But because I was exercising so much by this time, my nutritionist actually ordered me to start eating ice cream:
Yep, that's right - she ordered me to eat it. It was either that or give up the exercise. Never in my life would I have ever thought that 1) I would LOVE exercising as much as I do 2) Actually be ordered to eat junk food. But I didn't want to stop the exercise, so I added ice cream to my diet. I was terrified to say the least that I would gain the weight I had worked so hard to lose back. This is where trust came in. I had to trust that my nutritionist knew what she was doing. So, trusting her, I went to the grocery store and bought ice cream. It took several weeks, but I finally found my favorite - Coconut Overload. It was a brand new Kroger brand flavor and I loved it!! After working out, it was my reward. And guess what?! I didn't gain the weight back! My nutritionist was right - everything balanced out! I ate so much Coconut Overload ice cream, the nutritionist joked I should buy stock in it and my mom said I should write a book on how I lost weight all while eating ice cream every day :) But then one day, I went to the store and noticed that my beloved ice cream was listed as a "close out" item. I knew what that meant, but asked a store employee just to be sure. She confirmed - they were no longer making the product and therefore no longer selling it. I was sad :( So, I went home and exercised! Eventually, I found my new (and current!) favorite ice cream - chocolate butter toffee. I was happy - exercising on my stationary bike and eating ice cream :) But, just 2 months ago my bike started acting like it had before when it broke and then after a couple more exercise routines, I lost resistance in it and it broke - again! This time, I didn't panic like I did the first time. I just got up and started "running" in place. After a couple of workout sessions, I wondered if I could do better. My idea of "doing better" was actually to run in place (get my heart rate up) and let go of the door frames :) So, I tried. And guess what?! I succeeded!! I didn't fall! I've found that if I concentrate on one thing (in my case the TV!) and not really think about what I'm doing (running) I keep my balance! It's amazing. That's not to say, I haven't tripped or banged my knees (I'm currently sporting green bruises on both knees, all in honor of St. Patrick's Day of course!), or had to grab the door frames, but I haven't fallen! Dare I say that I am having a blast exercising?! I've decided that I'm going to buy a new bike, but I have to wait on tax refund money before I can do that. That is unless any of my friends want to take a stab at fixing (once again!) my old bike! I really don't know what's gotten in to me. Just a short two years ago, I wouldn't have even considered entertaining the idea of exercise and now I can't get enough of it. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I'm having fun exercising and eating ice cream.

This is me on the left Christmas Day 2011 and me on the right Christmas Day 2012. I keep the picture on my fridge to remind me and inspire me to keep the weight off.

Parade of Tables

On March 1, my church, Grace Lutheran, hosted its annual Parade of Tables. Every year there's a new theme and a new charity money is raised for. This year the theme was "Movies" and the charity was Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. I was asked to host a table. So after much deliberation, I chose the movie...."27 Dresses".
With that being the theme, of course I had to have exactly 27 Dresses to go along with it :) Thankfully - between my Mom, myself, my godmother, and a couple of ladies at church - I ended up with my "27 Dresses".

Here's a sample of some of the other tables.
                   South Pacific: 
                   Mary Poppins:

There were many, many more and all were fabulous!

There was food of course and entertainment provided by Knoxville Area Dulcimer club:

The event raised money for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs which trains dogs to be mobility partners for wounded veterans and also for autistic children. They train them to pick things up, help a veteran or child up and down stairs, open doors and many, many more things. Here's Bella, one of the service dogs:

In total $2,645.00 was raised for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. 

It was a fabulous day, with lots of fun and all for a good cause. Thanks to everyone who participated and especially to Nancy, Carrie, my Mom, Aubrey, Katie and Lisa who sat at my table. You all made the day extra special :)