Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - What a Year!!

It's New Year's Eve 2016 - how in the world did that happen?! I truly believe (as my mom and dad would tell me when I was a kid) that the older I get, the faster the years fly by. Sure, some of the days in 2016 were long, but the year was definitely short (even though, technically, it was long because we got one more day - leap day!). It concerns me greatly to see all these people posting on Facebook that they want this year to be over (and I'm sorry if you're one of them!). Yes, this year was full of loss and pain, difficulty, sorrow and sin and times you might not want to remember, but every day is a gift from God. Even the days you'd rather not think about again. Every day you wake up and you're breathing - that's God's gift to you. This year more than ever, I've come to realize the ordinary, yet at the same time extraordinary, gifts God lavishes on me every day. As my dad says, "Have you ever thanked the Lord for gravity?!" If not, thank Him today. :)

If 2016 never happened then I never would have gotten to experience these things:

- I would have never gotten to have deep brain stimulation surgery. It's changed my life in a beautiful (if somewhat messy at times) way. I will be eternally grateful for it.
- I would have never gotten to meet Dr. Konrad (the coolest neurosurgeon ever), Dr. Tolleson (my Nashville neurologist who is MY AGE), Dr. Issacs, whom I learned was the doctor that was asking me all the questions during my surgery and was the one who initially activated the deep brain stimulation device, and all the other amazing doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt. And yes, I do consider it a privilege and an honor to know them all. I am finally using their real names (and I hope they don't mind) because I don't want to forget them and I want to give them credit for being such awesome doctors.
- I would have never gotten to experience joy and happiness like I have this year. The deep brain stimulation surgeries didn't harden me, they actually gave me hope and that hope turned to joy.
- I would have never experienced my Mom holding my hand during the night I stayed in the hospital after the deep brain stimulation. I had never experienced pain that excruciating. It gave new meaning to "splitting head." After getting the nurse to up my pain meds and getting me saltine crackers, just my Mom's hand grabbing my hand in the darkness of the night brought comfort no drug could ever bring. I'll treasure that moment the rest of my life.
- I would have never experienced the JOY that came after my dad asked me to grab his hand and I could actually grab his hand. It had been awhile. The joy on his face when I did it will be something I'll treasure forever.
- I would have never gotten to go to Chattanooga for my sister-in-law's baby shower and I still had my REAL hair. :)
- I would have never gotten to experience being COMPLETELY bald-headed and what an experience that was! I had ALL kinds of emotions with that. How many people get to start ALL over again with hair growth?! Carrie (my friend who shaved it all off for me) made the experience so much fun. Secrets were told, tears were shed and smiles crept in. And now in the 10th month of hair growth, it's slowly but surely coming back in. I've gained confidence in the experience. It's one I didn't want to have, but it sure has been an unexpected blessing.
- I would never have experienced wig shopping with Mom and what fun that actually was!
- I would never have gotten to see "Miracles From Heaven", or "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" in the theater with Mom.
- I would never have had trips back and forth to Nashville with Mom.
- I would never have gotten to see the theatre plays: "Church Basement Ladies" with Mom, Tina and Kristen, "South Pacific" with Mom, "Southern Fried Nuptials" with Mom, "Mamma Mia" with Mom and Dad, "Train to Nibroc" with Mom and Dad, "A Christmas Carol" with Mom, Dad and Oma and "Junie B in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" with Mom.
- I would never have gotten to stay with Mom and Dad for a month :)
- I would never have experienced something being taken away and then slowly given back.
- I would never have experienced the selfless love of co-workers who picked up my work and tirelessly worked their magic to keep things running smoothly despite taking on double the tasks.
- I would never have experienced the pure JOY of playing with my nieces.
- I would never have had lunch at Tina's with my Mom.
- I would never have gotten to go to another fabulous Easter Festival at church.
- I would never have gotten to go to dinner with Dale, Carrie, Anna and Halle Tucker and have them come to church for Easter services.
- I would never have gotten to see my church's mortgage burning ceremony on April 10.
- I would never have gotten to celebrate my sweet niece, Hope Adeline, born on April 11.
- I would never have gotten to meet my niece, Hope, for the first time on April 16.
- I would never have gotten to go out to eat on Sunday afternoons with Mom, Dad, Stuart, Annie, Genevieve, Stanton, Aubrey and Hope to places like China Lee, Rosatina's, Lotus Garden and other places.
- I would never have experienced the undeniable excitement and joy of feeling signs of electricity in my toes for the first time on April 27.
- I would never have gotten to see my brother, Steven turn 25 on May 13.
- I would never have gotten to see Jim, Judy and Allyson Reed or Doris Higgins on May 14.
- I would never have gotten to go to Alaiah Miller's college graduation party (or see her family) on May 14.
- I would never have gotten to see my "Aunt" Kim Star-Voss and "Uncle" Barry Voss on May 15. They are my godparents.
- I would never have gotten to see my Mom and Dad go on a European cruise to France.
- I would never have gotten to go to The Cove and Soccer Taco with Stuart, Annie and Genevieve on Memorial Day.
- I would never have gotten to see cousins (my nieces) meet for the first time on May 31. That was absolutely priceless.
- I would never have gotten to see my brother, Stanton, sister-in-law, Aubrey and niece Hope become homeowners for the first time on June 1.
- I would never have gotten to babysit my niece Genevieve so many times.
- I would never have seen my paternal grandmother, MeMaw, turn 90 on June 10.
- I would never have seen my parents celebrate their 39th anniversary on June 11.
- I would never have gotten to see my brother Stanton turn 29 on the same day I turned 36 on June 12.
- I would never have gotten to see my brother Stuart turn 33 on June 16.
- I would never have heard the words that my brother, Stanton, spoke on June 18: "Aubrey and I would be honored if you would be Hope's godmother along with Anna (Aubrey's sister)."
- I would never have gotten to be excited for my brother, Stanton who worked his last night of residency on June 23 and graduated from residency on June 24.
- I would never have gotten to go the wedding of Taylor Howe on June 25.
- I would never have gotten to experience the joy I felt when Stanton, Aubrey and Hope moved to Knoxville (from Chattanooga) on June 29.
- I would never have gotten to be so proud of my brother, Stanton, when he became an ER doctor.
- I would never have gotten to go to Genevieve's 2nd birthday party on her actual birthday, July 2. She had a "Paw Patrol" themed party and LOVED every minute of it!
- I would never have gotten to see my Mom and Dad buy a new car or my brother, Steven by a new-to-him car.
- I would never have gotten to experience Hope's baptism on July 3 and becoming a godmother for the very first time.
- I would never have seen Hope in MY baptismal gown. She wasn't actually baptized in it, but she wore it to the "after-party" that day.
- I would never have experienced all the "firsts" that happened in regard to my walking. There are almost too many to write. ;) The first was when I walked around work with just a cane and not a walker on July 6. Then I walked into work with no walker on July 7.
- I would never have gotten the courage to ditch the wig and go au natural with MY hair - though it be short. ;)
- I would never have gotten closer to a friend I met in church who has her own "brain issues". Kristen and I are SO DIFFERENT in many ways and yet SO ALIKE in other ways. Her friendship has meant the world to me this year!
- I would never have gotten to go to Brad and Samantha's baby gender-reveal party on July 15. It was revealed that they were having twin girls. :) :) Those girls, Brooklyn and Blakely, arrived on December 20.
- I would never have gotten to experience tubing on the lake for the very first time on July 17. It has become my absolute favorite!!
- I would never have gotten to celebrate my maternal grandmother's 90th birthday on July 21 and her big celebration party on July 23 with the family (aunts, uncles, cousins...just missing my brother Steven) and friends at Whitestone Inn.
- I would never have experienced the pure innocence of my niece, Genevieve exclaiming (after seeing me the first time without my wig), "Hair! Pretty!! Can I touch?!" She finally has someone (again) that has hair like hers. :)
- I would never have gotten to celebrate my Dad's 63 birthday on his actual birthday (August 3) at Rafferty's restaurant with my mom, Stuart, Annie, Stanton, Aubrey and Hope.
- I would never have gotten to celebrate my Mom's 62nd birthday on her actual birthday (August 22) at Lakeside Tavern restaurant with the same crew that celebrated with my dad, plus Oma.
- I would never have gotten to celebrate Aubrey's 29th birthday on August 26.
- I would never have gotten to speak at the University of Tennessee to a dietician's class. That was unexpected, but extremely fun!!
- I would never have experienced the pure joy of walking into and out of work with only a cane on September 13!
- I would never have gotten to celebrate Annie's 30th birthday.
- I would never have gotten to drive the lawnmower train at my church's fall festival. It's my absolute favorite thing to do at the fall festival!
- I would never have tried climbing the climbing wall at the church's fall festival.
- I would never have gotten to take Genevieve to the Little Ponderosa zoo where she got to feed all the animals. Her face was priceless. We had so much fun - just me and her.
- I would never have ridden a motorcycle for the very first time on October 15. What an absolute thrill. I love riding motorcycles now. :)
- I would never have gotten to experience "Boo at the Zoo" with BOTH of my nieces who dressed as Everest (from Paw Patrol - that was Genevieve) and a little lamb (Hope).
- I would never have gotten to ride a camel with my niece, Genevieve!! I will remember that moment for the rest of my life!!
- I would never have gotten to go to small group Bible Study at Brian and Whitney's house.
- I would never have gotten to go to "Trunk or Treat" at church and see all the kids dressed up. The best costume hands-down in my book, was the mom and dad who dressed their baby girl up as a Cabbage Patch doll and made her stroller look like the box that the cabbage patch dolls come in.
- I would never have gotten to have Genevieve spend the night with me.
- I would never have gotten to take Genevieve to see Santa, although she was absolutely terrified of him. ;)
- I would never have gotten to have a day with Genevieve in Cades Cove.
- I would never have gotten to watch Hope while Aubrey practiced for the worship team at church.
- I would never have gotten to take a trip to Huntsville, AL with my mom to see Dolly Parton in concert on November 16. We had so much fun and made memories to last a life time!
- I would never have gotten to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family that included extended family: my Uncle Chris and Aunt Edith, my cousins, Markus and Lukas and my Uncle Danny.
- I would never have gotten to taste test the pumpkin pie that my Mom accidentally forgot to put sugar in - haha. It was GROSS, but thankfully, she had 3 other pies that DID have sugar in them.
- I would never have gotten to go Black Friday shopping (but thankfully for us, it was in the afternoon!) with my mom and Aunt Edith.
- I would never have been able to use my brand-new yellow umbrella.
- I would never have gotten to go to my work's Christmas party and win fountain glasses. I also got to experience the pure joy of snap bracelets. It's the little things!
- I would never have gotten to go to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's Christmas concert with the family.
- I would never have gotten to see the hilarity of the "Psalty's Christmas Calamity" play put on by the children of my church. Pastor Mark gets big props for playing Psalty and even singing!!
- I would never have gotten to see Hope at her first Christmas Eve service holding the battery-operated candle.
- I would never have gotten to experience Genevieve running up to me on Christmas Eve and exclaiming, "I got to go home. Santa's coming!! Santa's coming!!"
- I would never have gotten to experience the pure joy and boundless excitement that Christmas spent with Genevieve and Hope and all my family brought. It was truly magical and special and a day I will treasure in my heart.
- I would never have gotten to go over to Stanton and Aubrey's house with the rest of the family for dinner.
- I would never have gotten to hear Genevieve say my name..."Aunt Tepanie" (she's working on it, but she is SO cute saying it the way she says it now!).
- I would never have gotten to see Hope wave and smile at me.
- I would never have gotten to experience the grace and mercy, forgiveness and love that God poured down upon me.

These are just some of the joys that I experienced this year. I am SO GLAD that 2016 happened. There are so very, very, very many things to be thankful for - both big and small. So, for those of you who want 2016 to be over, I hope you'll take at least just a minute to remember a day or a moment this past year that was simply beautiful. Thank the Lord that you are breathing, that you are walking, talking, using your brain, loving and living.

In my book, 2016 was awesome. I thank the Lord for this past year and I look forward to what God will continue to do in my life in 2017. It's a wild ride we are all on - it's this thing called life. ;) It's unpredictable, messy, hurtful, filled with disappointments and sorrow, but it's also fun, unexpected, joyful and beautiful. Life is a gift. Open it and watch it bloom. I hope that each one of you reading this is filled with God's love. May your 2017 be blessed mightily and always remember...GOD'S GOT THIS!! To Him be praise and glory.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: December 27

What a whirlwind week this past week has been! I seriously can’t believe a week has already past. Where does the time go?

First and foremost, I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas. Our Savior’s birth is one of the most mysterious, magical, blessed and holy moments this earth has ever experienced. I hope you took time to reflect on the TRUE meaning of Christmas this year. A baby born in Bethlehem of an immaculate conception. He came to die and rise again to defeat sin, death and the devil. Without Christmas there would be no Easter.

Speaking of Christmas, I had a fantastic one. And no matter what anyone else says, I know I have the BEST family in the world. About 2 weeks ago, I was in the car with my mom, dad and grandmother on our way to see the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Christmas concert when my brother, Steven called. Among other things we discussed Christmas Eve plans. My mom said that my brother Stanton and his family would go to the 4pm service since he had to work at 6pm in the ER. My brother Stuart would go to the 7pm service since his girlfriend wasn’t getting back in town until 4pm. Then she said about me, “Stephanie will go to all services (meaning the 4pm, the 7pm and the 11pm). Haha – my mom knows me so well. I DID go to all services. I joked that I went to the 4pm to see Baby Hope (her first Christmas!!), the 7pm to see Little G and the 11pm to really hear the message. :) I reality, I heard my dad’s sermon three times. I know what he changed in each message. ;) He remarked as we walked into the church together before the 11pm service that I was the only Elseroad that went to all three services (besides him, of course!). I really, truly got something out of each service and I am blessed to have been able to go to all three. On a lighter note, I also survived all three services without catching my hair on fire OR getting sick (both of which I have done in previous years…Christmas Eve and I don’t have the best of records in the getting sick or having accidents department!). So, score one for me!! (By the way…burnt hair smells like rotten eggs and if you have to throw up – even if you can’t walk correctly – you’ll never move faster to get to the bathroom!) Again, I thank the Lord that NOTHING BAD happened on Christmas Eve this year. In fact, something special between me and my 2 year old niece happened. We were at my parent’s house between services and Genevieve and I were playing in the room my parents created for her and Hope. All of the sudden, she wanted to twirl. So she started twirling and then she wanted me to twirl with her – so I did!! We twirled and twirled. It was a precious, miraculous (for me – that I didn’t fall!) moment that I will treasure close to my heart.

As glorious as Christmas Eve was, Christmas Day was just as glorious. Church at 10am was fabulous. The offer had been made (in all fun) for those of us that came to the 11pm service on Christmas Eve to just sleep at the church and come to the 10am service on Christmas – haha. I think we ALL made it home on Christmas Eve though and most of us made it back for Christmas Day services. Dad and I were the lone Elseroads who made it to all 4 services within a span of 18 hours. Everyone else had little ones at home or were working (whether in the ER like my brother Stanton, or at home like my Mom who made Christmas so special with all of her cooking and presents). After church, we all went to my parent’s house. It was a wonderful time. All of us in the family know that our parents love us. We also know that when it comes to Christmas presents: Dad works which provides the money, but Mom makes the magic happen with gifts. It’s one of her love languages. She told me it took her 3 days to wrap all the presents and looking at all of them, I could see why. After a brunch of Belgian waffles, turkey sausage links, and fruit, in which she slaved away at, we settled into an afternoon and evening of unwrapping gifts. Seeing the faces of my nieces was priceless. Seeing my mom’s face when we reacted to gifts she picked out for us was just as priceless. She and my dad are treasured blessings to me. I will never be able to thank the Lord enough for them or be able to show them how much I love them. For every seen or unseen thing they do, they deserve blessing after blessing from the Lord.

My treasured moment with Genevieve came on Christmas Eve, but my treasured moment with my 8 month old niece, Hope, came on Christmas Day. I was holding her and we were face to face and she started to wave at me. Her smile was from ear to ear and as bright as could be. She kept smiling and waving. A moment I will again treasure forever.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were beautiful. I thank the Lord for them. I thank the Lord for time with my family and treasured moments I’ll keep close to my heart, but there was also a part of me that wanted a Christmas miracle in the form of being able to walk without any assistance. In some ways I got it, in some, I didn’t. I got it in spurts, where I was able to do certain things without a walker or cane. But, overall, my walking was slightly worse than it has been recently. I truly believe that it was all the excitement. I had been told many years ago that any excitement – whether good or bad – could and probably would affect my walking. So, I wasn’t completely surprised, but I must admit, I was a little disappointed. Within the past week I went from 2.70 volts of electricity in my deep brain stimulation device on December 20, to 2.80 volts on Thursday, December 23, to 2.90 volts on Christmas Day to 3.00 volts today. I know that the Lord is doing something. I don’t know what, but His plan is always the best plan. I have to keep reminding myself of this though because I get very discouraged and sad when I don’t see results. I have to say that I’m glad though that I was distracted for the most part from walking difficulties because of Christmas. When you surround yourself with happy people, happiness has a way of sneaking and settling in. I am SO THANKFUL for my family. They bring me happiness. They also bring me joy and joy is so much sweeter than happiness. As my dad said in a sermon a few weeks ago: We can be unhappy and still be joyful. So, even when walking difficulties get me down, I am still joyful because I know the Lord works all things out for HIS glory.

Let me make it clear, even though walking was a little more difficult this past week, I didn’t fall. I didn’t trip. I didn’t slip. Compared to last year – I’m still rejoicing in the progress I have made. God is good all the time.

In my opinion, God reveals Himself in unique ways. I had Friday, December 23 off of work. I had just returned home from dropping something off at my parent’s house. As I pulled into my garage, I got the sudden urge to pick up all the branches in my yard that my trees had left behind from the rain. I don’t usually get urges like this, so I ran with it! As I was picking up branches in the yard, using neither a walker nor cane, it struck me – God was answering my prayers right then and there. I had prayed that morning that I would be able to walk without a cane or a walker that day and I was doing so. It also made me realize that I must be very, very specific with God. When I pray I should ask not just to be able to walk without a cane or a walker, but walk ALL DAY wherever I go without a cane or a walker. I had to laugh. I mean here I was picking up branches in my yard when God decides to give me a revelation that He IS listening to my prayers and He IS answering them. Not only did I pick up branches, I then got the urge to rake leaves and pull weeds out of my front flower bed. After about an hour or so of work, my lawn guy showed up and took over. I think that was God too. He knew I wouldn’t stop until the job was done, but He also knew that I would probably wear myself out, so he sent help in the form of my lawn guy. Andre relieved me of my duties outside, so I went inside and cleaned the entire house and wrapped all the remaining presents. What a fantastic, unexpected day. Thank you, Lord.

God just reminded me of the above day and I think it was on purpose. Today (before I started writing this post), I was feeling a little depressed, like “Whoa is me.” “This is as good as my walking will ever get.” “I’m never going to be able to walk without assistance.” And the phrases could go on and on. But God reminded me of Friday. Friday gave me hope. I CAN walk at times without assistance. This journey isn’t over with yet. God’s still teaching me and I’m still learning.

And now that I have written a mini book here, I’ll close this post. I hope some of my ramblings will be able to encourage others. I hope you can see that I’m trying to be as real as possible. I love the Lord. I know ALL things work for His good. I know He can and does heal. On the flip side, I also get sad, depressed, discouraged and impatient. But God’s Got This. Of this I am sure. So I wait on Him and sometimes in the waiting I find my greatest joys. I rejoice at and thank the Lord for the fun, the laughter, the love and the pure unbridled joy that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day brought me this year. My faith in the Lord, my family and my friends (of which you are!) bring me so much joy. I have much to be JOYFUL in – on this I will reflect. Again, I say GOD’s GOT THIS!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: December 20

Tonight’s blog post will be short mainly because it’s Christmas on Sunday and I have a lot of present wrapping to do before then and tonight’s really the only night I can make a dent in it! It’ll also be short because I’m not really “in the mood” for writing – if you can believe that!

There are no new major developments to write about. I didn’t fall this past week and got along pretty well. However, I have a cut on my toe (the one next to my pinkie – what do call that toe?!) and it’s been driving me nuts all week. I got the cut because my toes kept rubbing up against my shoe. My toes kept rubbing against my shoe because my foot (and therefore my toes) kept getting spasms and my foot (therefore my toes as well) kept getting spasms because (I’ve come to the conclusion) I had the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device set too high. I also have a major callous on that foot (the left one) because again of the way I’ve been walking. My foot is covered in Band-Aids! So, with that being said, I actually turned the electricity down by .20 volts to 2.70. I am really, really trying to learn what’s “too much” and what’s “too little.” My conclusion: I still have a lot of learning left to do. ;) I’ve been praying about what I was supposed to do today: Turn the electricity up? Turn the electricity down? Do nothing? Now I wait and see if what I did (turning it down) was the right thing to do. If not, I can always turn it back up again.

I so want to be able to see results IMMEDIATELY!! God is still teaching me patience. I'm a very slow learner when it comes to that! ;) But, I cannot – will not – get discouraged this week because it’s Christmas!! I won’t focus on whether I can or cannot walk, but I will focus on the JOY that this season is all about.

For now, I’ll watch and wait and maybe even adjust the electricity more before next Tuesday, but whether I fall, stand tall, walk without issue or walk with nothing but issue – I’ll rejoice for the Lord Jesus Christ was born a baby in Bethlehem and all to grow up and die for ME (and YOU) and rise again to declare victory over sin, death and the devil. So…yes, I will REJOICE in ALL things because after all…GOD’s GOT This!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Shouting From The Rooftop - December 13

Last week, I switched to Frequency C and was admittedly a little scared to do so – fearing that I might “lose” what I had already gained. But, God showed up in a BIG way. I am so thankful He gave me the faith to just trust Him.

I could still see signs this past week that I probably needed to go a little higher on the electricity, but for the first time I actually felt my foot COMPLETELY relax when I took a step. I couldn't believe it. I was actually (no pun intended!) stunned by it. It was an amazing feeling. It didn’t last too long (which is why I knew I still had to go up on the electricity), but for the moments it did, it was nothing short of a miracle. My hand even calmed down too.

Wednesday night was the second Wednesday of Advent. How appropriate for me that it was all about peace.

Thursday night, I went and saw “A Christmas Carol” at the Clarence Brown Theatre with my mom, dad and my grandmother. It was a fantastic production. We had second row seats! Another reason it was so wonderful was that I didn’t have to deal with a walker. ;)

I took Friday off of work and didn’t really do much. I caught a cold, so I just hung out at the house. Friday night my mom and I went and saw a production of “Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” put on by a local Christian theater group called the Word Players. It was good and again we had second row seats!

Mom gave me her and my dad’s Christmas letter. There’s one line in there that gets me every time I read it: “We rejoice that Stephanie no longer uses a walker due to her successful deep brain stimulation at Vanderbilt!” I want to read that line over and over and over again!

Saturday, I walked into Kroger without a walker OR a cart – just my cane. I have never done that before. It wasn’t even planned. I just did it. I know this is not monumental to probably any of you reading this, but it was to me. People saw me walking in. I walked in front of people. I walked with just a cane. Ahhh!!!!! I have never, ever been this excited to go grocery shopping. The place was PACKED and several people commented on that very fact. You would have thought that it was Christmas Eve. All I could think about was shouting to people, “Did you see me? Did you see me walk in here with nothing but a cane?!!” But I kept my composure and didn’t embarrass myself. I did walk out with a cart because I had a lot of groceries. Hands down, December 10 was a monumental day. I even marked it on my calendar as such– haha.

Sunday was the 3rd Sunday in Advent – Joy! And yet again, very appropriate for what I’m going through. One thing that really, really resonated with me is a line my dad said in his sermon: “You can be unhappy and still be joyous.” How very, very true! You don’t have to necessarily be happy to still have joy in your heart. I feel that that is 100 percent me. I am definitely not always happy, but yet deep down in my heart, I am still joyous. I’m joyous because I know God’s got me in the palm of His hand. He loves me with an unending love.

After church on Sunday, my mom and I decided to take Genevieve up to the Townsend Christmas parade for a little while. She had a blast and kept telling everyone, “Merry Christmas” and then they would give her candy. She had more fun picking up all the candy than anything else. We were walking back to our car at the end and there were horses from the parade getting loaded back into their trailers. Genevieve wanted to touch them, so we asked their owners and they said it was OK. She loved that! All in all – Sunday was a fabulous day!

I took the day off from work on Monday and finally felt like doing the things I initially wanted to do on Friday. And more epic moments came my way. For the first time by myself I walked into and out of Walmart and Hobby Lobby walker/shopping cart free. NO WALKER. NO SHOPPING CART. I walked with a cane. I didn’t fall. I didn’t even stumble. You can’t even possibly begin to understand how monumental this is for me. I had in the past walked in and out of stores just using a cane but my mom or someone else was always there in case I needed them. But this time, I was all by myself. Ya’ll for 11 years I’ve been dealing with walking issues. Monday, God gave me another gift in this journey. Don’t ever, ever, ever take anything you have for granted. If you can walk or run anywhere your heart desires – thank the Lord for it.

At the very, very beginning of this journey something happened that left an indelible mark on my life. I remember, like it was yesterday, leaving my aunt and uncle’s house in GA on my way to Duke University for a consult with a neurologist there. Mom and I had stopped in GA to celebrate the baptism of my cousin, Dan’s first child – Jackson. As we headed on our way to Duke, I remember distinctly looking out the window of the car and saying to myself, “As long as I can walk, I’ll be OK.” I don’t know what possessed me to think that or even say that to myself. And all these years later, I now know that I’ll be OK even if I CAN’T walk. Oh, grant it, there are people much worse off than me who literally can’t walk. I CAN walk and always have been able to with assistance. But, I’m just reminded of how arrogant I was back then: “God, just let me be able to walk. If I can walk, I’ll be OK.” Umm….I’m sure God was sitting on His throne thinking, “My child, you have a LONG way to go.” I truly believe that God did not cause my walking issues, but He did allow them. And all these many years later, I’m just starting to see glimpses of why. I’m learning – ever so slowly – that my life is not my own. It’s God’s.

Back to yesterday. After running errands, I went over to my parent’s house for just a little bit to see Genevieve again. She completely melted my heart. Twice she told me that she liked my hair as she ran her fingers through it. I love that little girl SO MUCH!!

Do you ever tend to stop praying specifically about what you want? I mean, you still pray about it, but in general terms? I must admit, I do. I pray, “Please God, may I walk again.” But sometimes, I’m reminded that I must pray specifically for what I want: “Please God, may I be able to walk cane and walker free. May I be able to walk on my own without any assistance.” I’ve been convicted in my heart to start those specific prayers back up. I need to tell God exactly what I want. It doesn’t mean He’ll grant me everything I want, but at least I will have asked. ;)

Today, I again took another vacation day from work and again something else amazing happened. I prayed specifically that I would walk cane and walker free and that I would not need any assistance. I decided to go up by .10 in the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device. I’m now at 2.90 volts on Frequency C.

I had to make a quick trip to Walgreens to pick up some pictures. When I got there, I walked in using my cane. Once I got inside though, I spotted a coupon book. I grabbed it and started looking through it and the next thing I knew, I was walking by myself. I had “hooked” the cane over my arm when I grabbed the coupon book and literally, the next thing I knew I was walking WITHOUT a walker, shopping cart or cane. Now, grant it, I do this at home or at my parent’s house where there is carpet, but I have never done it in a store. MONUMENTAL. God gave me “just enough” distraction with the coupon book to walk without thinking and without assistance.

God reminded me once again that He is all powerful. He is good. He hears my prayers and He answers them. He’s given me faith to keep going. I must humble myself before Him. I must not be arrogant. Even if I fall a million times tomorrow or the day after, He is still with me. I know the devil will try to attack, but my God is bigger. My God will win the war EVERY TIME. God’s God This!!!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Turn-It-Over-And-Down Tuesday: December 6

I took last week off from work and it was a wonderful week. I missed my co-workers, but it was good to get the house decorated for Christmas and run errands. I had a great walking week too. Not flawless, but a great week nonetheless.

Wednesday (Nov 30) was the first Advent Wednesday of the season. I love Advent and Lent as much as I love Christmas and Easter. The first week of Advent is about Hope. This year, more than ever, Hope took on a whole new meaning. I have hope that God hears my prayers. My dad preached a sermon on Elizabeth. She was the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She had been unable to have a child, but that didn’t stop her, nor her husband, from praying for a child. God answered. Maybe 30 years after their first prayers went up, but nevertheless, HE ANSWERED. Elizabeth became the mother of John the Baptist. We should have the same hope. Maybe God won’t answer our prayers immediately. Maybe He won’t even answer them in the manner we like, but He hears and he answers – in HIS time. The other way Hope took on a new meaning for me this year is I now have an 8 month old niece/goddaughter named Hope. I can’t imagine life without her now. So, all the way around, the first week of Advent was a wonderful reminder of the hope we have in Jesus and how He cares for us!

Thursday, I ran errands and went shopping with my mom. I stunned myself by walking from Target down to Hobby Lobby ALL BY MYSELF (using the cane). They are pretty much right next to each other in Turkey Creek shopping center, but still a little jaunt for someone who has problems walking. My mom dropped me off at Target and then went and got her nails done. While she did that, I only had my own two feet and the cane to help me get around. I could have stayed the whole time in Target, but I really needed to go to Hobby Lobby too, so I walked. Sometimes I just need to try things to get over the fear of what may not even come to fruition. I am so happy that God gave me “just enough” courage to try.

On Sunday, I did something I hadn’t done in around 11 years: I used an umbrella!! I could never carry an umbrella and hold on to the walker at the same time, so I used a raincoat. But, Sunday, I finally got to use the yellow umbrella I purchased a couple of weeks ago. I was seriously happier about using the umbrella then I should have been. I mean, that’s not really something anyone cares that much about. But when you haven’t been able to do something in years, it’s kind of a momentous thing when you ARE able to do it. So, I used my yellow umbrella every chance I got on Sunday – even when it was only misting.

Also on Sunday, a church friend (Dave) said he thought of me earlier in the week as he was reading Golf Digest of all things. He asked if I knew what “the yips” was. I had heard of it before, but couldn’t remember where I’d heard of it or in what context. “Yips (according to Wikipedia) is the loss of fine motor skills without apparent explanation, in one of a number of different sports. Athletes affected by the yips demonstrate a sudden, unexplained loss of previous skills. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, sometimes compensate by changing technique, or may be forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.”

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, “Yips are involuntary wrist spasms that occur most commonly when golfers are trying to putt. However, the yips can also affect people who play other sports — such as cricket, darts and baseball. It was once thought that the yips were always associated with performance anxiety. However, it now appears that some people have yips that are caused by a focal dystonia, which is a neurological dysfunction affecting specific muscles. Some people have found relief from the yips by changing the way they perform the affected task. For example, a right-handed golfer might try putting left-handed.”

Basically, “the yips” is a type of dystonia. Kind of cool. I told Dave, I felt like I had the yips going up to communion. I walk much better than I did on Sunday when I walked up to receive communion. When I think (or know) people are watching me walk, I trip up. Yep…definitely the yips. ;)

Also, I found it fascinating what the Mayo Clinic’s site said about how people found relief from the yips, because unknowingly, I’ve been doing just that. To calm my left hand down, I hold my cane in it. I’m not left handed. In fact, I do almost everything with my right hand, but since the surgeries, I’ve been using my left hand exclusively to hold my cane. It calms it down and gives it a purpose in life (haha).

Today, my co-worker, Debbie exclaimed, “Your hair is so long!” We haven’t seen each other in 3 weeks. I had taken a week off, then she took a week off and then we kept “missing” each other because when she was at work, I was off and when I was at work, she took off. Can you tell we are trying to use our vacation time before we lose it at the end of the year?! She couldn’t believe how much my hair had grown in 3 weeks. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my hair yet. There are days I like it short, but then there are days that I can’t wait for it to grow just a little more. I probably won’t grow it back out as long as it was, but shoulder length may work.

Today, I also did something I’ve never done before: I hit the “max” electricity that I’m allowed – ha! I had my device set on 4.40 volts on Frequency B. I had been praying about what to do. The conclusion I came to was that I was going to “up” the electricity one more time to 4.50 volts and if nothing happened, the following week, I would switch over to Frequency C. So I got my remote control out and tried to go to 4.50 with no success. It capped me at 4.40 volts. I could go down, but not up. So, for those who had or have been questioning if I have any guidance or direction on how high I can go with the electricity, apparently it’s 4.40 volts. :) I pondered for a moment on what I should do. I could stay at 4.40. I’ve seen success at that voltage. But at the same time, I know it can better. So…I took a leap of faith and switched frequencies. I’ll admit, for the first time, I actually was a little afraid to do so. I was afraid that the progress I had made on Frequency B might all be lost if I switched. But, you know what?! Sometimes you have to do what scares you the most to move forward in life. I’m now on Frequency C and back down to 2.80 volts (what it was set at when I changed to the frequency). Frequency C will vacillate (yes, that’s the word Dr. T. used and yes, I'm ashamed to admit, I had to look it up!) or basically rotate between Frequency A and Frequency B – that’s if I remember that correctly. Both Mom and I had a little difficulty in understanding what it exactly does. She heard one thing, I heard another. Dr. T. tried to explain it to us, but I’m still not sure if we’re sure we understand it – ha! I do remember him saying that some patients thrive on this frequency and it’s a great way to save on battery life. Now, I just wait and see.

As I close this post, I’m reminded once again that God’s hand is in, over and around all things. I must not worry about what may not even come to fruition. I must trust in God and constantly remember that God’s Got This!