Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: November 14

On more than one occasion this past week, by more than one person, I've been told that I'm stubborn. Ha! As if I didn't already know that. ;) I like to think that I'm more tenacious then stubborn though. It has a better ring to it! Don't get me wrong, I probably cower more than I roar, shrink back in fear, more than I charge ahead with confidence, but every once in awhile good 'ole stubborn tenacity takes ahold and I make it. I'm not brave, courageous, or fearless, but God grants me the tenacity to get by.

I'm thankful to report that I've had no falls this past week. Walking's been good some days and not so good other days, but by God's grace, I've made it! I saw this sign in a store a couple of months ago and I love it. I have to daily (sometimes hourly) remind myself of this.

Last month I saw this on Facebook. While I'm not necessarily going through major bad times, it reminded me that sometimes I have to be brought low before the Lord can use me. I have to be humbled.

I've been humbled and helped this past week. At work, I had a meeting "in the other building". We have two buildings that connect to each other via a walkway, but they are actually two separate buildings, so I had a meeting in the building where I don't have a cube and desk. At the very end of that meeting, the fire alarms went off and everyone had to evacuate. My meeting was on the second floor which meant I had to walk down a flight of stairs. I absolutely LOVE my co-workers. They spring into action and become protective of me in these situations. In this particular situation, I was with Debbie and Leslie. Debbie walked in front of me down the stairs and once I was down the stairs, Leslie gave me her arm to hold so I could walk faster. We made it safely. On Sunday, I was struggling a little getting in to church. One of my friends saw me from where she was inside and came to my rescue (thank you, Carrie!). I could have made it, but God knew I needed just a little more help that day. It's not always easy for me to acknowledge I can't do something without someone else's help. Being humbled isn't glamorous. But it's instances like this, that I'll never forget. I am so blessed by the people God's put in my life.

I absolutely love this quote my Martin Luther:

I've debated on whether to change frequencies or not in my deep brain stimulation device. As of this moment, I'm sticking with what I've been on. I see the neurologist on November 30, so that's not too far away and I haven't fallen.

I certainly have bad days when I'm grouchy, moody, tearful, jealous, and the list could go on, but I also know I'm being refined, molded, crafted and created into the woman God wants me to be. I am growing in my faith in Jesus. He's allowing me to see this. I'm growing in maturity. I'm growing in confidence in who I am in God's eyes. The world judges harshly (and I know this because I judge as well), but the only One whose judgment I need to worry about is Jesus. As I've said before, I want my life to reflect the Lord. The grace He's given me is unimaginable. I fall (both literally and spiritually) so many times and yet He's always there to pick me up, dust me off and steer me in the right direction.

How cool is this?! When I got on Facebook today it reminded me that on this day in 2010 I posted this: "My Dad's sermons get more and more meaningful to me the older I get...'Life is difficult, God is merciful, Heaven is sure'." How appropriate that was back in 2010 and how appropriate it is to me still today in 2017!

God's Got This!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: November 7

NOVEMBER 7 - How in the world is it already NOVEMBER 7?! In a couple short weeks it'll be Thanksgiving and then Christmas!!

I had a fantastic day today. I can't say much about it, but Mom and I took a daytrip to Nashville to attend a taping of a talk show and it was fabulous!! I also realized that this was the FIRST time in a very long time that we took the trip for something other than a doctor's appointment. Although at first, it did remind of those trips. We left Knoxville super early (6:15am our time, 5:15am Nashville time). It was POURING rain. Like, people were pulled over on the side of the road waiting it out, pouring down rain, but we made it safely to Nashville and back. It was so, so, so very good to be going for something fun and not another doctor's appointment. Although, I must say when we did/do have to go for doctor's appointments, Mom makes it super fun. We usually do something exciting after the appointment - go to lunch, go to a show, go shopping - something like that. But today was purely fun. :) I'm sure if you're friends with me on Facebook or in real life (ha!), you'll be hearing about our fun day soon, but for now, we have to keep it under wraps.

As much fun as today was, I realized ever so much that the more excited I get (whether that's good or bad excitement), the worse my symptoms get. Also, the more I sit, the worse they get. If I delay a dosage of medication (I still take the same amount, but I'm pretty rigid in what hour of the day I take it, so if that's delayed an hour or two), that effects it. Plus, the weather wasn't helping any. BUT, I didn't fall. In fact, I didn't fall all week. So that's a win! But, it's also a little discouraging when I don't have the best walking day because then I realize that I'm not quite "there" yet. I still have issues. But, maybe that's to keep me humble? I mean, I'm still not using a walker or cane (which I probably should use on some occasions, but I'm just stubborn enough not to). I get around. So, that's a win!

Maybe it was the trip to Nashville, but I've had it in my mind all week (ha - today is only Tuesday, but since last week is what I mean) that it was this coming Thursday that I see my neurologist again. Then it bummed me out when I realized, I don't see him until November 30. But, at least I have it to look forward to. That appointment will be when we "start from scratch" with the settings in my deep brain stimulation device. He'll wipe out all the ones he has previously set, and create new settings. I border on being really, really excited about this and really, really cautious about it. In real life (and not the one I can sometimes hide behind in a blog), I tend to be more of a pessimist than an optimist. This has gotten better through the years, but it's still my tendency to think "the sky is falling" rather than see the glass half full. I'm working on being more optimistic. My mom has taught me to always look forward to something. If I'm feeling depressed about something, look forward to the next exciting/fun thing that's planned and if nothing's planned - plan something!! Back to the reset of the settings in my device - I'm truly astounded at how many things we have left to test. The neurosurgeon mapped so many brain waves (I'm not even sure that's the technical/medical term for it, but hopefully you get my drift) that there are still many, many settings the neurologist can program into my device and I can test. The brain is beautiful and complex.

While my mood may change from being excited one minute about the future to worry the next, I do have an underlying joy that never goes away. Happiness is built on happenstance, but joy comes from the Lord. God's Got This!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: October 31

So here it is, 9:00pm and I’m just starting this post. But, it’s still Tuesday, so I’m still writing a post. Happy Halloween and/or Happy Reformation day! It’s been a long but good one for me. I started it at 4:45am and who knows when I’ll finish. :) I hope your day has been just as good!

I must admit that after being in a great mood after my last post, Satan swept in with a mighty force. I was in a “funk” a lot of the week. I shouldn’t have been, but I was. I am still very excited about new possibilities regarding my walking, but for whatever reason I let fear and doubt and Satan himself crowd my thoughts.

I had no falls this week, except for tonight, but it wasn’t a usual fall. I got caught up in a leash and balloon string and just went down. My mom’s trunk at “trunk or treat” was “Howl-laween” and all about dogs including an appearance by the one and only Eddie – my brother and sister-in-law’s long haired Chihuahua. I got caught up in his leash, as well as some balloon strings, tripped and fell. It’s OK though. I’m alright. I half expected Eddie to have a bald spot at the end of the night from ALL of the people petting him. Seriously, almost everyone that came through our line, petted him. He was a gem though. He didn't bark or make a peep the entire night and he let everyone pet him for as long as they wanted to.

I’ve had an absolute blast this past weekend and tonight. Having nieces is seriously the best thing in life. I’ve had so much fun seeing the world through their eyes. We went to so many fall festivals and fun events this past weekend. I feel incredibly blessed to be their aunt. It’s kind of cool that they don’t ever see any disability in me, I’m just “Aunt Stephanie”. To see the world through a child’s eyes is absolutely magical.

From the beginning of the week to the end of the week, I had a complete turn-around in my mood and way of thinking. I started it letting Satan run wild, but ended it with Jesus taking control of the reigns again. As my dad said, I’ve made great strides and things are a whole lot better than they were. I’m not using a walker or cane (although some people think I should at times). I have just enough of a stubborn streak in me to forge ahead even when I do fall or have bad walking days. If it doesn’t get any better than this, well, we all have our “thing” in life to deal with. This is one of my “things”. I still beg God to heal me. I still have hope that new settings and frequencies will help me. It’s all about hope.

This past week was one of growth. One of those moments came when I walked into a doctor's office. There were two construction workers outside of the building. I could sense that they were watching me walk. I usually cower at these incidents. But that day, for some reason, I decided to look them right in the eye and smile and tell them "thank you" for holding the door open for me. I swallowed my pride and didn't cower - that's growth, right?! I'm so thankful that God allows me to see growth in myself.

I want everything in my life to point to Jesus. The older I get, the more important that gets. I want to be who God wants me to be. I want His light to shine through my life. That doesn’t happen overnight, but I do hope I’m making great strides. I’m human, like everyone else. I make mistakes, get frustrated, depressed, impatient, but in the end, my life is nothing if it doesn’t give glory to God. Even with all the missteps (haha, see what I did there?!) in my life, I’m thankful that I have a forgiving and grace-filled Father.

Even with a skinned knee tonight, I sit here typing this post and can’t help but give thanks to Jesus for all the many, many, many blessings in my life. God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: October 24 (Doctor's Appointment Update)

I had an appointment yesterday with my neurologist. It went well. However, for this perfectionist and her perfectionist doctor, not well enough. ;) I love that my doctor is a perfectionist too. He's never come right out and said that, but being one myself, I'm pretty sure he is. Here’s how the appointment went:

Two weeks ago, I turned the electricity up to 3.40 volts on frequency B. The first thing Dr. Tolleson asked me yesterday was what frequency I had landed on. I told him I tried the two new ones he had programmed last time around (A being the low one, C being the high one), but nothing worked, so I went back to B – which he had left as the frequency and settings that I had come in on. He said, “I thought D was the one that I programmed as the same settings.” Seriously?! My reaction was, “D, really?! I could have sworn you said B!” He said, “Well, I could be wrong. I do make mistakes occasionally.” It turns out, I think he was right, but who knows for sure. I found where I had written down everything he told me the last time I saw him and I had written “A is low, B is the same and C is high”, but in his notes, he had written D is the same. As he quipped, “B and D do sound alike.” Haha.

He had me walk for him and he checked all the settings on my device. I told him how I had tried both new frequencies and then experimented with the amount of electricity in each of those frequencies, but nothing seemed to work. He could also tell from his device how I experimented. He showed me how I (unbeknownst to me) was within the same range of volts of electricity no matter what frequency I was on. He again explained to me that dystonia is tricky to treat. I explained to him my fears that I’m “not doing it right” when trying to treat symptoms or getting on the right frequency with the right level of electricity. He assured me that I’m doing everything “right”, or at least doing what he’s told me to do. I asked him, “What should I be looking for? If I have a bad day or a bad week should I consider changing frequencies or the amount of electricity I’m giving myself?” He said for a bad day, he wouldn’t consider changing anything, but a bad week, yes. I told him how when I get nervous about walking (i.e. in a parking lot – with nothing to hold on to or catch myself with), I walk stiff-legged. He asked if I was using any assistive devices. I told him I wasn't although I know people who want me to use them! I may be just a little stubborn. The goal is to get my leg muscles to loosen up. I told him that I walk stiff-legged sometimes because I feel like if I bend my knee correctly, my leg will spasm. It’s a never-ending cycle of either being too stiff or too spastic. I also told him that I fear that everything’s psychological – that I’m somehow making myself not walk correctly. To that he said, it’s not psychological; it’s definitely physical. (This was right after he had observed me walking.) He could physically tell that my foot and leg are still not relaxing enough. It felt so good to be validated. It is physical.

I told Dr. Tolleson that I’m doing better on this higher level of electricity. He asked what I meant by "better". I tried to explain it to him. The muscles in my leg are looser – not as stiff and I can stretch out my foot flatter without it turning in so much, but then again, it's still not enough (at least for me and I think probably for him too). He asked if I ever felt that I had gotten to the "sweet spot". I told him I thought I had, maybe. It was between the time that I last saw him at Vanderbilt (January 30, 2017) and when I had surgery on my toes (May 2017). That frequency and level of electricity seemed to work the best, but then I started having problems with my toes, hence the toe surgery and then I got worse after the surgery. But then again, maybe it wasn't as good as I remember. No setting has ever been "perfect". You’d think it might be as easy as going back to that frequency and level of electricity that I felt was the best, but it’s not. Since then, he’s programmed over that information with new settings and frequencies. I can’t just go back to my blog and see where I was at and change it. It gets very confusing and convoluted trying to remember all the frequencies and levels I’ve been on, because in a little less than two years post-op, I’ve been on a lot! Dr. T. acknowledge that as well. We’ve been testing and experimenting a long time and yet – there’s still more that can be tested and experimented with! Dr. T. has everything recorded and documented, but it’s still a ton of information. Sometimes, knowing that there are still lots of options and lots of frequencies and settings to experiment with, is a little overwhelming and sometimes it gives me hope. Yesterday after the appointment, I was somewhere in the middle of being overwhelmed and being hopeful, but today, I'm not overwhelmed; I'm only hopeful.

There were two options that Dr. Tolleson gave me yesterday. One was he could adjust the frequencies and settings that I am on now. The second option was that we could start from scratch. Without hesitation, I blurted out, “Let’s start from scratch!” Really?! I just want to walk. I couldn’t believe that I opted to start from scratch. But, I do want to start there. Like, really, really want to. There are more options. It gives me hope. It gives me something else to fight for. What does starting from scratch mean? Well, I’m not entirely sure, to be completely honest. But, after some discussion with Dr. T. it’s what I feel like I should do.

The plan for now is to stay where I’m at right now (frequency wise) unless I have a bad week (fall-wise). Then I can try Frequency D. I can still go up or down electricity wise in each of these frequencies. I’ve scheduled another appointment with Dr. Tolleson for November 30. It’s an hour-long appointment where he will go in-depth on the frequencies and electricity levels, see how I react, watch me walk and see what needs to be adjusted – that sort of thing. My understanding is that he’ll wipe out all the frequencies and settings that he’s programmed as of now and start from scratch.

I’m continually amazed at how one “simple” stimulator in my brain can have so many options to experiment with. I guess that’s why the initial surgery took 3-4 hours. They did test a ridiculous amount of areas all so that I wouldn’t have to go through the actual surgery part again, but so that I and the doctors could be given option after option until we hit that “sweet spot.” The neurosurgeon told mom and I that no two people have the same “sweet spot”. It’s annoying and awesome all at the same time. We’re all unique!

I had a good week this past week. No falls! My dad even commented that I seemed to be walking better. I'm very, very thankful for good days. Some days and some circumstances are better then others, but isn't it like that for everyone? I'm very, very thankful that, God's Got This!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: October 17

You know how sometimes some of the simplest concepts in life hit you right smack between the eyes? That happened to me yesterday. I was speaking with someone on my fear of walking in front of people/my fear of people watching me walk. Her response: "You've been walking in front of people your entire life. What's changed? Why are you so afraid of people seeing you walk now?" And just like that it struck me: I'm letting fear walk all over me (so to speak!).

As Martin Luther puts it, I want to have a "daring confidence in God's grace". That's my goal. Be daring. Be confident. And yes, even be graceful - haha. I know that last one is taken out of context and not at all what he meant, but I do want to be graceful. ;) Three words that couldn't be farther from who I actually am: daring, confident, graceful. But God can change that. This coming week that's what I want to focus on most - being daring, confident and graceful. :)

Last week wasn't so bad. I'm still on 3.40 volts of electricity on Frequency B. That's one thing I'm proud of - I didn't mess with it! I'm practicing patience. Now, if I can make it one more week, I see my neurologist on October 23. The added electricity has actually helped a lot. Nothing's perfect, but it never will be. It has improved though and that's what I'm thankful for!

Another thing I'm thankful for is this:

Yes, there is now handicap parking right in front of the entrance at work. It may seem like a very inconsequential thing to most people, but to me, it's everything. As I said in a thank you e-mail, no one will truly know how much it means to me. Seriously. I know that they didn't make this change just for me, but I am so very, very thankful for it nonetheless. I didn't think that at 37 years old, getting handicap parking moved closer to the entrance of work would be something that made me so happy and full of joy, but it is. I am forever grateful.

I'm also grateful for no falls. I didn't want to fall into Fall. :) Things are not perfect and probably not even where I wanted them to be at this point in time, but God's writing this story, not me. He's got all kinds of plot twists. That's where faith steps in. That's where my "daring confidence in God's grace" steps in. Because, after all, God's Got This!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: October 10

Ya'll - I'm kind of speechless. As I was logging on to start this blog post, I saw how many people read my post from last week and I was floored. It might be my highest read post to date. I can't be certain though because I didn't actually take the time to look. Again, I don't want to get a big head or anything, but I was so taken aback at how many people read last's week's post that it's got me wondering what I said in it that got ya'll to read it! I'm humbled that people read what I write, because, in my opinion, I don't have anything interesting to say. I just write what's on my heart and in my head. But, I do pray over every post. I pray that God will turn my unpolished words into something someone can relate to or be comforted by. I pray that my words would be His words and that ALL glory would go to Him.

Being completely honest, tonight I'm just not in the mood to write. I don't feel inspired. I don't feel like I have anything of importance to say. But, even when I'm not in the mood to write, I write. I write so that I'll have record of what's happening in my life. I write, because somehow, God turns these lowly posts into something else. I don't really know how He uses these posts or my struggles in general to help others, but somehow, miraculously, I know He does. It's completely fine for me not to know how He uses these posts or my journey. In fact, NOT knowing, keeps me from becoming arrogant. Seriously, when I hit "post", I don't look back. I don't see how many people read or don't read my post until the following week when I come to post again. But, I'm thankful for you, those that take the time to read my ramblings. I thankful for those who take the time to write me or say something to me. Thank you - from the bottom of my heart - thank you!

The past week was fine - no falls and no major "drama" - haha. Some weeks, it's good to live a "boring" life! Last evening was interesting though. This will give you an idea of how slow I am sometimes. I was leaving work and I passed two co-workers who were talking to each other in the hall. I told them goodnight and continued to make my way to the elevator (side note: I take the stairs up in the morning, because I can ROCK going up stairs, but I take the elevator going downstairs because if I didn't, I'd probably be ROLLING down them.). I noticed one of the co-workers that had been talking in the hall, was leaving now as well. As the elevator opened on the first floor, she was already walking out the front door. When I got to the front door, she was half-way down the walkway. She made it to her car and I was still on the walkway. She got in her car and drove past me. Then a second later, she pulled into an empty spot, got out and shouted my way, "Do you want some help?" And since she stopped and asked, I obliged. I could have made it, but it would have taken me forever. I just wanted to get home. She walked me with me and I was fine. But, it got me thinking again - why am I denying myself more electricity if that's what I need? What if more DBS electricity got me moving faster? So, after four weeks at 2.90 volts on Frequency B, this morning I stayed on Frequency B, but went up to 3.40 volts. We'll see what that does. If it's too much, I can always go back down. This also gives me two weeks to test this level (if I don't get antsy and change it again) until I see Dr. Tolleson.

I laughed to myself today because I started thinking how ridiculous it was for me to worry about walking. That's not something a "normal" human being worries about. But we've all got "our thing" in life and one of my "things" is having difficulty walking. It keeps me humble, that's for sure. I don't know why God just doesn't heal me instantly. Sometimes I get down about that, but I always come to the same conclusion: He knows what He is doing and I have faith that it's not for my harm, but for my good. So, I stop and turn my thinking around. God's blessed me with ways in which to worship Him even in the midst of things. God's plan is always perfect. Always.

I know, deep down in my heart, that God's working in me and through me and that He's using this struggle I have to refine me. I know that in Him, ALL things are possible and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God's Got This!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: October 3

“I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

Victoria Arlen. I mentioned her before on this blog a few weeks ago. I didn't know about her until I saw her on “Dancing with the Stars” (which I don't normally watch). Ever since I saw this season's premiere episode with her as one of the stars, she’s been inspiring me. I “liked” her page on Facebook and every Tuesday morning I watch the dance she performed from the night before. To give you a tiny snippet of what she’s gone through: she was in a vegetative state for almost four years, locked inside her body. “She faced the reality of paralysis from the waist down due to damage to her spine.” (Taken from her bio on Facebook). She can’t feel her legs, ya’ll. And she’s dancing. Only by the grace of God. Now she’s a sports reporter for ESPN. The song she danced to last night was “I Get Knocked Down”. Appropriate on so many levels. She’s a living, breathing, dancing miracle and an inspiration.

Friday evening something happened that truly blessed and encouraged me. I was leaving work and a co-worker (who I don’t know), yelled to me across the parking lot, “You’re an inspiration!”. I looked over at my co-worker Debbie who was walking with me. Was that meant for me or someone else? I looked around me and motioned with my hand, “me?”. Yes, he was talking to me. He said he’s watched me struggle to get in to work or back out to my car. He said, “I’ve seen you take 10 minutes to get into work and look at you now!” I don’t really know what he was seeing because I was not having the greatest of ease walking that night, but his words did encourage me. If I get knocked down, I must get back up again. He went on to say, “You did this, didn’t you? You made this happen?” He was motioning toward the construction going on in the parking lot as the handicap spots are being moved closer to the front door. To that, I said, “No, she’s the one that made it happen.", as I motioned to Debbie. “She’s the one who sent the e-mail.” She has nothing to gain from it, but she championed it anyway. He looked at me and said, “But this is for you, right?” To which I exclaimed, “To everyone who needs it, that’s who it’s for.” I had no clue how much God would encourage me with this co-worker's words. I certainly didn't know I was inspiring him. This journey is definitely not easy. There are many times I think to myself, "Stephanie, just walk...you did once before, do it again!" But all in God's time. I get angry and frustrated and worn-out. But then God sends a refreshing breeze in the form of a co-worker. This co-worker certainly blessed me more than I think he’ll ever know and certainly more than I inspire him.

When I started having walking problems, I didn't ever think anyone would tell me that I'm an inspiration. I just wanted whatever was wrong to be fixed. I don't think of myself as an inspiration. I don't want to get a big head about it, so I truly, truly try to stay away from any thoughts that may make me act proud or better than someone else, because I'm not better than anyone else. So, to those that have said I'm an inspiration to them, thank you. I don't deserve that compliment in the least bit. It's all God. My life is in God's hands. I want my life to be a reflection of Him. I fail miserably at this every single day. I am thankful that God grants me His grace. Being called an inspiration is humbling, for I truly don't see why I would be. I’m just a girl trying to get from Point A to Point B without falling and embarrassing myself. The struggle is real – very real, but we all have our own struggles in life, don’t we?

I was completely blown away and inspired by Sunday School this past Sunday. Somehow, our discussion on 2 Corinthians 1 turned into a talk about perseverance, struggles, friendship and so much more. It refreshed my soul. I am so very thankful for the group of people who make up this class. I learn so much from the Word of God, but also from their different perspectives. God has truly blessed me by sending these people into my life.

A blessing that’s been wrapped in a burden has been rolling out over the past few weeks and months. I confided to my fellow classmates in Sunday School that there are two places that I have the hardest time walking into and out of: church and work. I feel like people may be staring at me (whether they are or not) and I have nothing to grab ahold of if need be to catch myself. I’ve been having a hard time with those two places. That’s the burden. The blessing(s) has been: God has never once let me down. I pray that I would be able to make it in to work or church without falling, tripping or slipping. If I can do it “on my own”, perfect. But if I can’t, I’ve been asking the Lord to bring people to help. He’s answered. From Todd to Ursula, from Mark to Debbie, from Sarah to Angela, from Chris to Anna and the list goes on. I am exceedingly blessed. And, as a bonus, I have gotten to know so many people on a much deeper level. It amuses me to see how God works. He doesn’t necessarily send my best friends to help me out. He sends people who I know, but not well. And it’s been the biggest blessing. I’m getting to know more people. How did the burden of walking in to or out of church or work become a blessing? Jesus. He flipped what was burdensome into these amazing, beautiful blessings. If you’re one of the people that has helped me, from the bottom of my heart, I want you to know that you were “an angel unaware” and I’m forever grateful and humbled. Thank you!

So, even though I started this entry with, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”, I’m happy to report that in reality, I didn’t get “knocked down” this week. I didn’t fall. Praise Jesus. Satan’s been around, lurking, but I ask God to put his mighty and strong tower around me - one that the devil can not penetrate. Satan has been known to flood with my thoughts with, “you’re going to fall”, “you’re never going to get better”, “you’re not good enough”, “everyone’s just being kind to you because they pity you”, “God’s not going to protect you”. BUT – while those thoughts do creep in from time to time, if I stop (sometimes quite literally) and focus on Jesus, take a deep breath and gather myself, Satan’s banished and I feel that strong and mighty tower protecting me. I’m not going to lie, there are times that walking seems so scary and undoable that I cower in a corner, but even then, God plucks me from the throws of self-doubt and again puts my feet on solid ground.

I have a little conundrum (I HAD to find a way to use that word again today. I said it at work and my co-workers found it amusing. It was my "big word of the day" - ha!) My conundrum: self-doubt in what I should do next. In some ways I feel like I need to adjust the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device to go up, but in other ways, I want to keep it where it’s at. I feel like I may be on the right frequency, but maybe not the right amount of electricity. I go back to the neurologist on October 23. I don’t want Dr. Tolleson to look at the settings and see that for the past month I haven’t stuck with one setting for more than a week. He wants me to get to a setting and stay there. The more I’m on one setting consistently, the better. But I don’t want to suffer either. See my conundrum? So, for now, I’ll remain on the setting I’ve been on now for the past 3 weeks. That doesn’t mean by this time next week, I’ll still be on it, but for tonight that’s where I’ll remain. There are so many gray areas in this condition and with DBS for dystonia patients. Sometimes, that aggravates the stew out of me (like right now) and other times, I welcome it because it means things could get better with a different approach.

All-in-all, I’ve had a wonderfully blessed week. I may not always see blessings in the moment, but reflecting on moments grants me the ability to see blessings everywhere – whether big or small.

God’s Got This!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: September 26

Something I’ve learned about myself this week: The more stressed/anxious/worried I get, the worse my walking becomes. But, when I take a minute to relax, take a breath and calm down, the better my walking becomes. Ha! Who would of "thunk"?! ;) To be honest, I didn’t just learn that this past week. I’ve known it. But God allowed me to see it in a new light this week. Thank you, Jesus. Slow down, breathe, God’s Got This.

Last week was good. I’m remaining at the same amount of electricity: 2.90 volts on Frequency B. It’s not perfect, but I’m going to leave it there, at least for today – haha! I have less than a month until I see Dr. Tolleson (my neurologist). Sometimes I drive myself crazy wondering if I’m doing things “right”. Am I giving myself too much electricity? Am I not giving myself enough electricity? Am I on the right frequency? It’s enough to seriously drive me crazy. It’s a very gray area, this electricity stuff! I’m a black and white person – gray drives me crazy. But at the same time, maybe God’s using this to teach me many (many, many!) lessons. Lessons in perseverance, patience, calmness, listening for His still, small voice, not being so OCD, not being so uptight and rigid, being more kind to others, deepening my faith in Him. The list could go on and on. I am learning so much about myself. God’s allowing me to see things I’d never get to see if I didn’t have this problem with walking. I want healing immediately, but God’s using the “in between” time to teach me so much.

Unfortunately, I did fall last week – twice in fact. Both happened at home and both led me to the realization that the more stressed/anxious/worried I get, the more likely I will fall. One fall happened Sunday night. I was at the kitchen sink and I turned to walk away and my foot just gave way. The next fall happened the very next morning, Monday (yesterday), when I was walking from the bathroom to my bedroom. Both times, I was hurrying. I had several things on my mind and I wanted to “go fast”. It took the second fall to get me to slow down and figure out why I had fallen. My conclusion was that I was worried about some things and I was in a hurry and my worry led to a physical reaction. Ever since this discovery (haha, all 24 hours of it!), I’ve been mindful of walking. When I feel myself getting anxious, I take a deep breath and try to calm down. It’s worked a few times. Sometimes, I literally stop walking, regroup and when I feel relaxed, then I walk.

When I think about my difficulties with walking, sometimes I just laugh. I laugh, because walking should come as one of the easiest things someone does in life. Right? As a toddler, you learn how to walk and then it’s something you never forget. But, then again, that’s not the case for everyone. I’m reminded of the verse in the Bible, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 (NIV) Having this issue with walking has made me all that more aware that anything I have, whether it be walking, sight, hearing or anything, can be taken away at a moment’s notice. Praise Jesus for everything you have. EVERYTHING. Have you ever stopped to thank Him for the ability to breath on your own? For the ability to blink an eye? When I think of everything the Lord has given me the ability to do, my walking woes don’t seem big at all. It’s all about perspective. I have been incredibly blessed in my life. Absolutely, incredibly, blessed. I continue to be in awe of God’s power and majesty. How He can bless a soul like me, blows my mind. Though my body may not work in the exact way I want it to, I will praise the name of Jesus even still because without a shadow of a doubt, I know I’m blessed and I know God’s Got This!!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: September 19

This past week was wonderful. It wasn’t without struggle or frustration, but it was wonderful all the same. I have decided to remain where I’m at in regards to the electricity. I’m still at 2.90 volts on Frequency B. I see LOTS of room for improvement, but I also see lots of opportunity for me to be patient and wait – which I’m terrible at, but I’m trying to be better at. Who knows what the week ahead will bring, but as of today, I’m remain at 2.90 volts.

Do you ever stop to think that maybe the struggles in life are meant to be so that the sweet spots in life are sweeter? I confess that I don’t always look at struggles like that. I dwell on the struggles. I’m a “why me” girl (just being honest!). But, when God grants me the grace to be able to see that something bigger is intertwined with the struggles, I am always and forever humbled. This is just something I’m thinking about. Struggles make victories sweet. No underdog movie would be complete without struggles or victories. Maybe that’s why I like sports movies so much? Because they are always about overcoming obstacles? Maybe… It’s funny that I’m thinking about all of this now as I haven’t fallen at all in the last week. But that doesn’t make the struggle to stay vertical any less of a struggle. ;) I’ve fought for every step. And every time I’ve thought that I’m doing this on my own (as in, I’m the one getting myself from Point A to Point B without falling), God reminds that I wouldn’t have anything without Him. God’s grace is abundant and I see it in every aspect of my life.

On Wednesday, I got a BIG surprise from my company. In an earlier blog post, I spoke of my friend and co-worker writing an e-mail to the VP of Facilities asking if they would consider moving some handicap parking spaces closer to the building. Well, on Monday, September 13, I got word that that would take place starting on Monday, September 18 (yesterday). And it did! Yesterday was awesome. I parked closer to the building! But, I shouldn’t sugar-coat things. I admit, it was still a struggle. It’s a new spot and I’m rebuilding neuropathways in my brain. Unlike most people, I can’t just walk freely (yet!). This means, I can’t turn on a dime. My steps are very rigid and sometimes probably look forced (because in some instances, they are!). I’m almost like the tin man when it comes to walking (and yes, Kristen, I did make a reference to "The Wizard of Oz", but it doesn’t mean I like the movie. I’m still scared of it!). Walking doesn’t come naturally yet. Sometimes, I don’t bend my knee and other times I don’t trust my foot to hold me. Sometimes my foot collapses on me or my toes curl under. I’m working on those issues. But, at the same time, our bodies are awesome. They adapt and somehow, I “automatically” do what I have to do, to stay upright. I’ve walked my previous path into work so many times that I finally got those neuropathways active. They weren’t perfect, but I knew the route. Now I must get new neuropathways built. I need to learn “the lay of the land” so to speak. I don’t know any other way of explaining it. It’s just not as simple as walking from point A to point B. If I’m not making any sense, just ignore me.

They haven't added the handicap sign yet, but I get to use it! And yes, it was dark when I took this picture. I had to get to work early to make up some time that I'd be missing for an appointment. :)

Thursday was completely awesome. I went to the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert with my mom, Annie (my sister-in-law) and her mom. The four of us had a blast. We had 9th row seats!!!!!!! It was amazing!! Not being able to walk properly (yet!) does have its advantages. Mom and I realized on the way to pick up Annie and her mom that between the two of us we only had $3 cash. We completely forgot about having to pay for parking. We were going to run by an ATM, but Annie’s mom had $10 on her. When we got up to pay, the parking attendant only wanted to see the expiration date on my handicap placard. When we showed it to her, we got free parking!! We also got a perfect parking spot. It wasn’t in a handicap parking spot, but was right next to the entrance. God provides. I was worried, but in the end, I didn’t need to worry – God knew what He was doing and everything worked out perfectly. The concert was awesome. I can’t put into words how great it was. Tim and Faith did not disappoint! I had so much fun and made memories to last a lifetime. I can’t thank my mom and dad enough for the tickets. It was a fabulous concert and one I’ll remember forever.

We were THIS close to the stage!!!

I took the next day, Friday, off work. I’m glad I did. We didn’t get home from the concert until midnight and I was so hyped up from it that I didn’t get to sleep until after 2am. I used my day off to run errands. I dropped off a ring that needed fixing. The jeweler goes to my church. We had a lovely conversation. After I did that I went to the Honda dealership to get a recalled faulty airbag fixed. I also knew I needed all new tires. I was going to go elsewhere for them, but ended up getting them at the dealership as they had a good deal on them, a coupon and a rebate. The man assisting me at the car dealership turned out to be a real blessing. He saw that I had a handicap placard and he saw me walk a few steps to his desk. He made sure that I didn’t trip on the speed bumps and other things in the floor. He didn’t make a big deal out of things, but was just genuinely nice. By God’s divine plan, we started talking about my walking. It turns out, he knows all about not being able to walk. He was completely paralyzed for a time due to three exploding discs in his back. We ended up talking a lot. He told me more about his situation. I told him more about mine. (And before you go thinking anything, he’s married, so it wasn’t anything like that!) As I left the dealership that day, he turned to me and said that I was an inspiration to him. I don’t say that to brag. Really, I don’t. I don’t think of myself as inspiring at all. The only reason I’m bringing it up now is because I think that it is totally amazing how such a mundane thing as going to the Honda dealership can be used for God’s purpose. He uses every situation we’re in for His good. I was as inspired, if not more, by him. To see him walking perfectly after what he went through, gave me hope and lifted my spirits. He said I inspired him, but he was the one who inspired me. Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to meet such a kind soul.

Saturday was a great day as well. I had been invited to a UT/Florida football watching party. I had a blast. I met new people and had an all-around great time! Saturday night, Mom and I went to see HGTV’s Property Brothers. They were in town promoting their new book and they put on a live show. It was fantastic. I love doing mother/daughter things.

My new house?

At only 123 square feet, it's not for me, but it was fun touring it!

Sunday I was struggling a little to walk into church. I could have done it, but God put someone in my path to help me. One of the elders at church saw me walking and asked if he could help me. Since he asked, I accepted. I felt more steady with his help. “I get by with a little help from my friends.” I so, so do! My friends and family are all wonderful. I am eternally grateful for ALL the help I get. I may not be able to pay everyone back, but I sure hope I get the opportunity to pay it forward. Kindness goes a long way.

Last night (Monday), I watched "Dancing with the Stars". I don’t watch that show. I think I watched one season of it when it first started, but I don’t normally watch it. I tuned in last night because Drew Scott (one of the “Property Brothers”) was on it. He had brought his dancing partner to the show on Saturday night, so I was intrigued. What I didn’t know, was that Victoria Arlen would be on the show. I didn’t know anything about her, but heard the plug that she had spent the last 10 years in a wheelchair, so I had to find out about her. What I saw, left me in awe. Our God is POWERFUL. Her life is a testament to God’s power. I’m also reminded that my life is a testament to God’s power. God is more powerful than the strongest man on earth. He is more powerful than any hurricane, tornado, tsunami or earthquake. He's more powerful than the wind or the rain. He is more powerful than any struggle. God IS.

This morning, I felt God reminding me again to be patient and that IN HIS TIME, I’ll walk (better than I am now). I’ll leap. I’ll dance. But in HIS time. I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot of growing to do. The perfect time is whenever HIS time is. Many, many, many times in life, I look back at things that have happened in my life and go, “Oh, so that’s why God did it that way!” So, I’ll wait. I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep walking even if it scares me to death. I’ll probably continue to stumble and maybe even fall, but that’s OK. (Remind me that I’ve said this the next time I fall or embarrass myself!) I’ll trust in the Lord. I’ll let God do His thing because I know GOD’s GOT THIS!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: September 12

I’m starting to write this post at 7 AM instead of my usual 7 PM. Truth be told, I’ve been up since 2:15 AM for NO.GOOD.REASON. I could of done something constructive with my time, but, no, I got on Facebook. I did, however, make it out of bed at 4:40 AM and got a work-out in – so I was half-constructive. ;)

In the week that was, trust came into factor in a big, big way. I left the electricity in my device where it was and didn't play with it at all. This is no small feat for me as I’m constantly wanting to mess with it until it’s "perfect". I’m beginning to realize (or maybe beginning to accept) that there may not be “perfect”, but isn’t that life?! We are all imperfect because of sin. That takes the pressure off of being "perfect"!

One day last week (it was either Thursday or Friday), I tripped all day long. Seriously. It became comical to me just how many times I did trip. But, guess what?!! I DIDN’T FALL. It was truly miraculous. All I can say is God caught me EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. There’s no other way to explain it. And after every catch, I thanked Him profusely. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have fallen every single time, but I didn’t. Not once. Praise Jesus!

Continuing on this level of electricity (2.90 volts on Frequency B), means my big toe does have a lot more wiggle room to actually help me with my balance (even though I just finished telling you I kept tripping for a day). I find that my foot and toes lay flatter and give me more stability. That’s a huge deal. Overall, I feel more balanced, though that may not necessarily show all the time. ;)

I haven’t had too many spasms in my leg or foot, which I tend to get when I’m on a lower setting of electricity. I’m very thankful for that.

I’m learning how to slow down and “drive in the snow” as my friend Debbie puts it. She said that she must tell herself when it’s snowing outside and she has to drive somewhere to slow down. There’s no rush. The goal is to get there safely rather than speedily. I know it doesn’t look like I maneuver speedily anywhere while walking, but the “rushing” and the “I have to be fast” goes on in my head. I should be fast. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I should hurry up and get out of the way or when walking with people, I should keep up. My brain’s going a mile a minute with thoughts that I should be faster. This boils over to walking and I end up falling. I have a work-out top that says, “I Could’ve, I Would’ve, I Should’ve, I DID”. So, I’m “driving in the snow”!

I’m discovering God’s “little” blessings that in actuality, are quite big! My walking is so slow at times, I've literally had time to observe things I would have otherwise breezed by. One thing was this cool little dude:

I snapped this photo this morning of a leaf that looked like it was in the shape of heart.

Being on a lower amount of electricity does have its disadvantages.

I’ve gotten “stuck” a couple of times this past week. That’s truly one of my greatest fears. Thankfully it doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen occasionally. The best way I know how to describe it is literally getting stuck. I can’t move. It’s like being paralyzed in mid-walk. I know that if I take another step, I’ll fall, but at the same time, I can’t even move my legs or my body to even take a next step. I’m frozen. Anyway, God always showers His grace on me when that does happen and after a few seconds (but to me they feel like minutes), my brain gets a reboot and eventually sends the signal to my leg to move. It’s extremely hard to describe this situation, but maybe you can imagine what I’m talking about. If not, you’ll just have to trust me. ;)

Only God knows if I'll stay on this level for another week. So far, so good. It hasn't been a "no-problem" week. Those don't exist for anyone! But, I didn't fall. That's a win!! Each day continues to have little struggles of its own, but along with those come little blessings of its own as well. I'll soak up the blessings and try to forget the struggles.

I laugh because when I start to think, “I have it so bad”, God always allows me to see someone worse off. When I think, I have things “all figured out”, God shakes things up. Such is life. I keep going because I know without a shadow of a doubt…GOD’S GOT THIS!!!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: September 5

Another week has passed and it’s now September. How did that happen?! My parents used to tell us kids when we were little that when we grew up we’d know what they meant when they said time flies by and they were right!

This past week has been good, but I didn’t come to that conclusion until tonight while writing this post. :) It definitely saw its share of tears and bruised knees, frustrations and impatient moments, but sitting here tonight writing this post, I’m more in awe of God’s miraculous ways than anything else. In several incidences this past week, God performed miracles and I’m in awe of them.

On Wednesday, my church held a screening of the movie, “A Case for Christ.” If you haven’t seen it or read the book, you must! I haven’t read the book yet, but the movie made me want to. It was so good! It was entertaining, but it really made me think too.

Thursday, I had a “Peter walking on water” moment.

(On a side note – outside of Jesus, Peter is my favorite person in the Bible. I relate SO MUCH to him. He was impulsive and impatient. He was always putting his foot in his mouth. He rarely thought before he spoke. He was bold, but then sheepish. He wanted to always be right at Jesus’ side. I love the story of him walking on water because I see myself doing exactly what He did. So, yes, outside of Jesus, Peter is definitely my favorite person in the Bible!)

Now back to my Peter moment. On Thursday, I was walking into work and my left foot and toes were curled into a ball. No amount of anything I did could get them to uncurl. Needless to say, I was having a tough time. So, I prayed, “Lord, make my foot and toes lay flat.” And guess what?! The very SECOND I prayed that, THEY DID!!! Shamefully, I must admit that I was stunned. I know God performs miracles, but I was still stunned. They literally laid flat and relaxed. I was praising Jesus. But then, I got distracted, took my eyes off of Jesus, got scared and promptly fell. BUT, just as quickly as I fell, I popped back up again. I wasn’t physically injured, although I was a little embarrassed as someone did see me fall. They came over to assist, but I was up before they got to me. Then I had to laugh, because the Peter walking on water story was the first thing that popped into my head. I just need to keep my eyes on Jesus.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday afternoon. It had been raining off and on all day long – sometimes torrentially. I prayed that anytime I had to be outside, that it wouldn’t rain. I was having a really, really hard time walking and rain would just make walking all that more difficult. You know what? God answered. It didn’t rain at all when I had to walk to and from my car at work or at my appointment. In fact, no sooner had I gotten back inside work then one of those torrential downpours happened!

My doctor’s appointment was nothing neurological related, but it seems that a lot of my doctors are moving buildings. ;) I knew that my appointment was in the same building/area where I see my neurologist. As I was walking in, I was a little confused as where to go, since this was the first time I was seeing this doctor at her new location. Trying to distract myself enough to walk as normally as possible, I was looking down at my phone, when I heard this voice say, “Are you lost?” At that moment, I looked up and there was the door to the office I was supposed to go into, so I said, “Actually, no…there’s where I’m supposed to go.” Then I turned to look at who I was talking to and did a double take because it was my (Knoxville) neurologist, Dr. LeForce. After we said hi to each other, I asked what he was doing and he said that he was taking a little walk at lunch, to which I said that I’d be doing that some day. We talked a little while longer and then I made my way to my other appointment.

Friday afternoon, I fell again – this time on carpet. It was just one of those things. I didn’t get hurt, but I have a nice bruise now. I was so frustrated because my foot and toes would not lay flat.

By Saturday I was so fed up with my horrible walking that I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to change the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device. I got it out and kept lowering the electricity until I could see and feel a difference. That meant that I went to the lowest setting on Frequency B – 2.90 volts. Since turning the electricity down, my hand is almost back to normal and my foot and toes lay flat on the floor. But, it's not perfect (far from it!). In fact, it’s a catch 22 (I hope I’m using that term correctly!). I noticed that on the higher level of electricity that my hand majorly acts up and my foot and toes curl under. All of that is hugely annoying, but I still somehow feel like I have more “control” over my movements, even if that means walking stiff-legged. I realize just typing that sentence out that none of that makes sense. ;) On the lower level, my hand is normal and my foot and toes lay flat on the floor, but I get these spasms in my leg and/or foot and they make me fall or at the very least lose my balance. I don't get them on the higher level (maybe that's because everything is in one big spasm?!). On the lower level I feel more balanced and stable except for when the spasms happen. I can’t predict when they will happen either as they are random. It doesn’t happen every time I walk. I need to get over the fear of the spasms and walk freely, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. So…I’m taking it day by day. I’m hopeful that I can stay at this level for an extended period, but I’m not ruling anything out. It seems one fall is all it takes for me to start questioning if I’m on the right level after all.

I have seen so many instances of God’s hand of protection over me this past week. I have also seen so many miracles. And, yes, I do call them miracles. Whether they be “small” things like making it not rain so that I can get into and out of appointments without having to deal with rain or umbrellas to the “big” things like making my foot and toes lay flat…to God they are all the same. He is teaching me so much. There aren’t enough words in the human language to describe all He is doing in my life. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely, 100% have days when all I want to do is cry my eyes out, but then He gives me glimpses of what He’s doing in my life and it’s amazing ya’ll. The devil tries to weasel his way into my life and my thoughts and my heart and sometimes, I must admit, he gets in and starts destroying things, but God is always there to pluck me from Satan’s grip and remind me that yesterday, today and for forever more – God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: August 29

I got word this past week that my company is doing something amazing for me. Well, not just for me, but I can think that, right?! :)

Right now, where handicap parking is located at work, it’s not very handicap accessible. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s to code and everything, it’s just farther from the door then I think it should be and it’s slanted so that you either have problems walking to it or from it (It’s not on even, flat ground.) The idea of moving it has been brought up before. Right now, there are a great deal of visitor spots right in front of the building. These spots are also on even, level ground. About 2 weeks ago, my friend, Debbie started walking out with me to my car each night because I’ve been having more problems. One night, as I was about to pull away, I noticed she was standing there with a pensive face. I rolled my window down and asked if she was OK. She said she was, so I left. The next morning, she told me why she looked so pensive. She said that she saw how much I struggled that night getting to the car, even with her help. She also saw another co-worker with a disability struggle to his car. So, after I left, she walked the route we had just walked again trying to see things from my perspective. Then she walked the route I would take if my car were parked where the visitors parking and the expectant mother parking is located. And then she walked into work and sent an e-mail to the vice-president of facilities. Do I not have the best co-workers and friends in the world?! Just a couple of days later I was called into the director of Human Resources office. She prefaced her e-mail with “you’re not in trouble”, which greatly eased my fear that I had done something wrong and at the same time made me laugh. She said that Facilities had received an e-mail about handicap parking and they wanted to get my opinion and suggestions on things. So, I gave it to them. Last week, I was told that 2 of the 4 handicap spots would be moved to where the expectant mother’s parking is currently located and the expectant mother’s parking would be relocated a few spots down. Epic. Amazing. I am so very, very thankful to my co-worker, Debbie for e-mailing about it and for my company for listening and responding. Debbie gives no credit to herself (she says “I was probably the 10th caller”), but she deserves credit for sending that e-mail. She has elderly parents and she knows the struggles they have walking. She’s walked with me on numerous occasions and knows the problems I have. For her to go out of her way to send an e-mail about something she doesn’t even gain from – that’s true friendship and looking out for one’s brother/sister. Thank you, Debbie!

I only “fell” once this past week and I put “fell” in quotes, because it was again, more like taking a knee. It happened on Wednesday, but since then, I’ve been fall-free. However, I still decided today to go down in the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device. I have a few reasons for doing so. First and foremost, my left hand is acting up. I know it’s directly because of the electricity. Also, the callous on the bottom of my left foot is coming back and I know that’s because I’ve not been walking right. My foot does not relax. There are a few other reasons why I feel decreasing the electricity is what I’m supposed to be doing this week. I stayed on the same frequency (B) but went from 3.90 volts to 3.70.
Although I haven’t fallen, that doesn’t mean I’ve haven’t had problems, it just means I haven’t fallen (which, don’t get me wrong, is a huge deal!!). I admitted to my sister-in-law that I think having the toe/foot surgery set me back – for the time being. That last part is critical – FOR THE TIME BEING. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have the surgery. In the long run, it’s going to help me tremendously. In the short-term, God’s still working on me being patient. As He works on me, He doesn’t leave me. He shows up when and where I need it the most. I am continually amazed at how this happens. He’s using friends and family and sometimes even strangers to be His hands and then He’s allowing me to see how He works. I’ve been in awe.

I was feeling particularly anxious on Friday. I don’t know why. I wasn’t steady on my feet and I had an anxious heart. As I was getting ready to leave for work, I got a Facebook message from a church friend, Allie. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing what she said, but this is what she wrote: “‘But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from a stall.’ (Malachi 4:2) As the sun rises today, may joy fill your heart and be your strength. Go and skip about today.” My response to her was, “Wow! God provides. I was just thinking how Satan causes me to fear and how my faith in God sometimes wavers. I was just praying that the Lord would increase my faith in Him and forgive me for my lack of faith sometimes and then you sent this! God knew I needed to hear this from Him and He used you to say it. God provides. Have a wonderfully beautiful day!”

Time after time this week, when I didn’t feel like I could walk without falling, God’s provided a friend to walk along beside me. I’ve been praying every morning that God would keep me upright both physically and spiritually. He’s kept His promise, even when I haven’t kept mine.

I get frustrated, mad, sad, angry, anxious, depressed but even in those times, I come to the realization that I am extremely blessed. God never leaves me or forsakes me. God provides. God goes before me. He stands beside me. He’s got my back. God uses the struggles we have in life to refine us. I’m being refined. When struggles abound, my prayers increase. I'm in constant contact with the Lord of Lords. God uses the struggles in my life to give me perspective and to make me stronger. God can heal with one touch. In one breath He can make it be. He can also say, "Wait my child - you're a miracle in the making." God’s Got This!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: August 22

God provides. That has never been as evident to me as it has this past week. In all circumstances, in little ways and big, He provides. It may not look like we expected it to, but nevertheless, He provides and then gives us the ability, if we’re open to it, to see how He provides. When we see, at least for me, it’s awe-inspiring.

Right off the bat I’ll say, this past week was not good fall-wise. I fell 3 separate times. These were a little different though from my “regular” falls. All three times, I fell while walking with people in the hopes that that would give me enough security that I wouldn’t fall – haha! I didn’t hurt myself and in fact the last two falls were more like “taking a knee” as opposed to sprawled-all-over-the-place falls. I even hesitate to say I fell, because my Dad really wants me to use my cane and NOT FALL. But falling’s part of the learning too, right?! I totally get where he’s coming from, but I don’t want to get dependent on the cane or the walker again. It would be so easy if I just used them, but easy doesn’t necessarily get me to my goal. I scrape a knee or get frustrated, but I trust the Lord that I won’t break anything. If I do break something, well then, God has a plan for that too. I say this, but don’t get me wrong, I get mad, sad, frustrated, teary, impatient (and the list could go on…) when I do fall. I lose confidence. I ask for help. I pray. Maybe those last two things are what the Lord wants me to be doing: humbling myself enough to ask for help and being constantly in prayer and communication with Him.

How did God provide this week for me?! Oh, let me count the ways and tell you!!! Last Wednesday, I was contemplating how I would get into church without using a walker or cane. I thought about staying home, but every time I don’t want to go to church because I’m too tired or too busy or too worried or too scared – that’s EXACTLY when I need to go. So, putting fear away, I went. I prayed the whole time, wondering how God would show up. The Lord is awesome. Guess who I see in the parking lot as I park my car? My dad. I wanted to cry (happy tears!). I had been pouring out my heart to my Heavenly father, when he brings my earthly father to rescue me. I did start out walking on my own, but he quickly saw me and offered his assistance. This is when he said I should probably use the cane to keep from falling. My response was, “Who’s to say I won’t fall while using the cane?!” I’m quite talented like that! Then he said that maybe for a time I should use the walker again. I don’t like either option. I haven’t resorted to using either one, but I do take my dad’s words to heart. After church, a woman named Chris asked if she could walk beside me to my car. She’d read my blog post from the day before, I’m pretty sure! I, of course was overjoyed to hear this and quickly agreed. She and her husband, John walked with me to my car and then we had a lovely conversation. God provides!

Thursday, I had to leave work to attend a funeral. I was nervous about having to walk to my car and two of my co-workers picked up on that. They said that they would walk me to my car and then when I returned all I had to do was text them and they would come and walk with me back into work. I do want to make it clear – I could have walked by myself out to the car and back in again, but they sensed that I was nervous and on their own said they would walk with me. My co-worker, Sarah ended up walking with me out to my car. I got to the funeral and walked (all be it, stiffed-legged) in by myself. I walked out the same way. Sarah had told me to text her when I was on my way back. I was stopped at a red light and sent her a text. I made it back to work and didn’t see her in the parking lot. I almost started to text my co-worker, Debbie. As I got out of my car and turned around, there Sarah stood. She told me that she decided to run to the bank real fast and was a little concerned that she would miss me, but my text came and she was on the same road as I was just coming the opposite direction. She got to work maybe a minute or so before I did. God provides!

Friday, Sarah took the day off to close on a new home (Congrats, Sarah!) and Debbie had to work from home because a water line needed replacing at her house, so it was just me and the guys, holding down the fort at work. It was a good, busy day! When it was time to leave my co-worker, Drew hung around until I was ready to leave. I don’t know if Debbie or Sarah had said anything to him (or my other co-workers for that matter) or he just instinctively knew I may need help, but he casually walked out with me. He said Monday-Thursday he usually has to book-it out of work in order to go pick up his daughter before her daycare closes, but on Friday, his wife is able to pick her up and he has more time to stay after if need be. So, he walked with me. Unfortunately for him, I either got overly confident in my walking abilities or just wasn’t paying attention or some other phenomenon happened, but I fell. It could have been a lot worse, if he weren’t there. I made contact with the ground, but he caught me as well, so I didn’t get too badly injured. Even though I had a bandage over it, the way I fell, I tore the scab off the scraped knee I had from the week before, so that was a little sore and bloody (under the bandage), but again, God provides!! I was so blessed that Drew was there!

Saturday, I wasn’t going to let walking issues get in my way. I also wore tennis shoes which gave me a little more support. ;) I didn’t fall! It was a momentous day another level too: I got my hair cut. I don’t know what it is about me and my hair, but I never want to get it cut, even when it badly needs to be. But, I knew I needed a cut and Saturday was the perfect day to get one. My mom’s birthday is today (Happy birthday, Mom!!) and she always wants me to get my hair cut, so as a birthday gift to her, I went and did it. And guess what? My favorite stylist was there – the one I met in April and who cut my hair for the first time after I’d let it grow since the deep brain stimulation surgery: Clare. I had a wonderful time talking with her. I also ran into someone from my church! After the haircut, I swung by my parent’s house to give Mom a little pre-birthday gift and to show her my hair. ;) After that, I ran to Walmart where I ended up seeing someone from work in the parking lot, running into my grandmother in the store and then both of us seeing someone we knew from church. I NEVER see or run into anyone I know while shopping so the fact that I ran into a total of 4 people in one day was pretty spectacular.

Sunday, I was again nervous to walk in to church. I prayed about it. I didn’t find my “regular” parking spaces open, so I parked somewhere different. When I got out of the car, I ran into Mary, who had just moved to South Carolina, but was back for a quick visit before she starts a new job. I asked if she would walk in with me and she said she was just about to ask if she could walk in with me. She’s an occupational/physical therapist (I think. If I got that wrong, Mary, please forgive me!) and noticed how I was walking stiffed-leg until I got to the curb where I had to take a step up and I did bend my knee. She asked about using the cane or walker and I told her the same thing I told my dad. I just don’t want to use them. ;) We both made it safely into church. We had communion and rather than fall, I decided to hold onto to Mom while walking up to receive it. After church, I started walking by myself to my car, but Mom quickly came and helped me. Again, I could have made it on my own, but it would have taken me forever and made me exhausted so I was thankful for the help. After church, Mom, Dad and I, along with another couple, went out to eat. Normally, on Sunday afternoons all the family goes to my parent’s house for lunch, but we were all going to be meeting there Sunday night to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. It was the only time all of us could be there. In order for that to happen, my nieces needed naps, so we all went our separate ways after church. After eating at the restaurant, Dad helped me out to my car. Again, God provides.

Sunday night celebrating my mom’s birthday was so much fun. Now that I have little nieces, it’s seeing everything through their eyes and it’s magical. We had an absolutely fabulous time. Dad grilled hamburgers and each of us kids (well me and my sisters-in-laws) brought side dishes so Mom didn’t have to do anything, but in the end she did make corn and baked beans. Even celebrating her birthday, she’s serving us!

Monday (yesterday) was a fun day at work. With the total solar eclipse happening, it was pretty much a ghost town. Schools were closed, so a lot of people took the day off. I didn’t, but it turned out to be so fun! At work, they handed out solar eclipse glasses. I walked over to the other building with my co-workers to pick up my glasses. On my way back, I fell. My co-worker, Debbie said it happened because I got my toe stuck in the carpet. I didn’t know how it happened. One minute I was up, the next I was down. I fell on carpet, so I got more of a rug burn than anything else, but my poor left knee cannot heal from last week’s fall. I keep reapplying bandages to it. It starts to heal and then the scab is ripped off once again. But I guess it does show consistency in the way I fall, right?! Haha. Debbie said she felt so bad she couldn’t “catch” me, but really, it was totally fine. I’m no worse for the wear. I fell. I got up. I kept walking. Story of my life! Once again, God provided. Debbie was there, Drew was there…people were there to help and be concerned. I’m thankful! I can’t leave my “Monday” paragraph without commenting on that eclipse. I’ll admit, I was not into the hype of it. I didn’t get solar eclipse glasses ahead of time. I didn’t take off of work. I didn’t research. I wasn’t really even going to go outside to see it because I could see it from one of the conference rooms, but at 2:15pm, Debbie and I decided to go outside and man, am I ever glad I did. I’m saying right here and right now, boldly: How can anyone who saw that eclipse with their own eyes not believe that God orchestrated that? Our world, in a lot of ways, is in (man-made) chaos, but God loves us enough to show His majesty amidst the chaos. The heavens certainly did display His majesty!

Today, I fell again, but out of the three, this was the least of the falls. I really did just take a knee and thankfully this time, I gave my left knee a break and fell on my right. ;) Again, though it was where I could have grabbed a wall to steady myself. It happened so fast though that I didn’t have time. I was up as quickly as I was down and on with life. Today, I also realized that I think I have the deep brain stimulation device on the right frequency (B), but maybe not the right amount of electricity. So, this evening, I decided to look back at my blog posts from when I was doing well and try to get on that level again. I found a post from back in February that said I had settled on 3.90 volts. Tonight, I went from 3.50 up to 3.90 volts. We’ll have to wait to see if that does anything. I’m willing to give it some time. Dr. Tollesson always says it takes about two weeks to see any real difference, but we’ll see if I can be that patient. ;) I’m back on the same frequency and electricity amount I was when I saw major, significant, awesome strides before. If it works, I’ll give to glory to God. If it doesn’t, I’ll test some more!

This past week has truly taught me that God provides. It’s also taught me that there are learning opportunities in every fall and in every struggle. It’s taught me to rely fully on God. It’s taught me again that’s God’s Got This!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: August 15

In my last post I said that I wasn’t going to do any adjusting to the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device until this week and only if need be. I lied. Or, I got impatient. Or, I'm just stubborn. You choose. But, I didn’t even make it a full 48 hours after I posted that entry when I decided I had to do something and I've been experimenting and testing all week.

The last time I saw Dr. Tolleson he programmed 3 different frequencies that he said I could play with:

Frequency A - the low level
Frequency B - the level I came in on (in case the other two frequencies that he newly set didn't work)
Frequency C - the high level

I can officially say that in one weeks time, I've "played" with all 3 frequencies. That's a far cry from my initial goal of being patient and waiting a week. Oh well! Medicine (and the science behind it) is actually an art. ;)

Thursday morning I started out on 2.80 volts of electricity on Frequency A. I went up to 3.00 volts on A. That voltage lasted all of 7 hours, when I decided to turn it down to 2.60 volts on A. That level lasted only 4 hours when I decided to turn it back to where I had it before messing with it: 2.80 volts on frequency A. During the day I tested other levels of voltage, but kept the frequency on A. Since my iPhone has the date and time of when I take pictures on it and I took pictures to remind me what level I was on, Thursday was a full circle day. It was at 6:36am that I upped it to 3.00 volts on A and it was 6:04pm when I conceded and brought it back down to 2.80 volts on A.

Thursday’s also when I fell. This time, I got hurt a little (just scraped knees). God turned it into a life lesson. I was leaving work and fell outside. I bloodied my knee and my ankle, but otherwise was unhurt. I thought I was alone when I fell, but then I heard a co-worker (whom I don’t know) ask me if there was anything he could do. I told him no. I just had to get up and carry on. Surprisingly to me, I didn’t cry. I didn’t get upset. I didn’t feel hopeless. I didn’t feel frustrated or angry. In fact, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Falling doesn’t make you special. Get up, dust yourself off and carry on. People fall all the time.” So, I got up, dusted myself off and walked to my car. I was a bloody mess by the time I got to my car, as blood was running all down my leg. (Sorry for the visual, Kristen!) I grabbed some napkins out of the glove compartment and cleaned myself off as best I could until I got home. When I got home I put an antibiotic ointment on and bandaged everything up.

Friday was a new day! God greeted me with this amazing sunrise on my way to work:

Sunday, I got up and decided yet again to play with the DBS settings. I decided I’d had enough of the low frequency, so I switched to the high frequency: C, but I set it to the lowest voltage I could go on that level: 3.70. But, even on the lowest level of the higher frequency, my hand was giving me fits. I knew I’d need my hand for work the next day, so Sunday night I’d had enough and went down to 3.00 C.

Yesterday morning when I woke up and was no better I decided to go to the lower frequency (A) again, but set it to the highest level it would allow me (3.60). I stayed on 3.60 A all day yesterday, but last night I was over it. I literally went to bed at 8:30pm because I was so exhausted both mentally and physically. I told a friend today that I think walking to and from my car at work is as much a workout for me as my actual workouts on the stationary bike. It has literally taken every ounce of strength I have both mentally and physically to get me from point A to point B.

This afternoon, I remembered that I still had Frequency B that I could try (more like go back to.) I switched frequencies AGAIN (right there at work) and am now back on Frequency B at 3.50 volts. That may even change as I think I may “play” a little more tonight with the voltage. And this my friends is why they call it “practicing medicine”. ;) There’s an art to it.

There’s a sweet spot. I had that sweet spot once. I must find that sweet spot once more.

A lot of things have been weighing on my mind these past couple of weeks. Because of this, I’ve been waking up at 3am for no good reason! The first few times it happened, I’d try to go back to sleep or I got on Facebook (I know, terrible!), but then it hit me: I should be in God’s Word. So now, when I’ve been waking at 3am, I grab the Good Book (OK, really, I grab my phone that has the Good Book on it) and dive into God’s Word. It’s brought such comfort and peace.

It's been a rough week. I get so frustrated and angry and grouchy when my walking isn't what I think it should be, but even when I'm like that, God doesn't turn His back on me. I could choose to focus on the negative (and believe me, I have done so and continue to do so at times), but when I really sit down and examine my life, all that matters is that God's Got This! And because He does, I can face tomorrow. I can fall and get back up again. I can be embarrassed and still not die from embarrassment. I can know that I'm a child of God and that He loves me with an EVERLASTING love.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: August 8

"Stand firm, and you will win life." (Luke 21:19 NIV)

I know, I’m probably majorly taking the above verse out of context, but I read it this morning and it pierced me. Maybe it pierced me because I haven’t LITERALLY been able to “stand firm” this past week, so I’ve had to stand on the firm foundation that God knows what He’s doing and I shouldn’t put my two cents worth in. Maybe it’s for the simple “you will win life”. Life isn’t about walking or falling, but rather about relationships and Jesus.

It’s definitely been an interesting week! It’s been interesting on several levels. I’ve seen how my body reacts to stress and the weather in a way that I haven’t been tuned in to before. But more than that, I’ve been blessed so richly and abundantly BECAUSE of the problems I’ve had this week, that I almost don’t mind the falls I’ve had to have to see how richly I’ve been blessed. Let me stress, ALMOST. I really dislike falling, so God and I have this conversation every morning:
Me: "God, please, please, please don’t let me trip, slip or fall today."
Me (about 5 seconds after the first plea (I mean prayer): “God, please, please, please don’t let me slip trip or fall."
“But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.” (Luke 21:14 NIV)
“Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'" (Luke 18:27 NIV)
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7 NIV)
And probably my favorite this week:
“yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me.” (Luke 18:5 NIV) – Persistence, people, persistence!!
And another good one…
“Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” (Luke 13:13 NIV)

Can you tell, I’m reading Luke right now? Haha. But God has brought about so many golden nuggets that I had to share!!

A couple of weeks a go in Sunday school, we started talking about the “thorn in my side” that Paul was given. There’s much speculation on what that “thorn-in-his-side” was. Some say it might have been his eyesight. My Sunday School leader, Brian, said that whatever it was it sounded like Paul had to rely on others to take care of him at times. In all my years, I had never heard it explained like that. I really took it to heart. Paul had to ask people to help him. Somehow, with that explanation, I found comfort.

After proudly declaring that it was a “no-fall week” last week on the blog, the very next day, I fell. ;) It wasn’t a “normal” fall though (if there is such a thing). It was in a confined space where I had walls and doors and things to grab ahold of. It just happened. One second, I was up and the next I was sprawled all over the floor. Thankfully, I was only in front of friends. (It would have been better if 1) I hadn’t fell at all or 2) I hadn’t fallen in front of anyone but since none of that happened, I’m glad I fell in front of friends!) I seriously don’t know how it happened, it just did. But what do you do when you fall? You get back up and carry on. Again, easier said than done, but I did it with God’s help. I did cry though – I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t so much over the falling, but everything that was going on around the fall. It was a stressful week. My friend/co-worker, Sarah, helped me come to the realization that stress takes many forms and I guess in me, it manifests physically sometimes. I’m sure I’ll learn to manage it better and hopefully figure out a good setting to go to (in regards to the deep brain stimulation device) when stressful situations arise and I need a little more help to walk.

The second fall came on Sunday in church. Here’s hoping a lot of people didn’t see it. It happened (again!) in a place and time that I never thought it would. After making it successfully up to, through and back from communion, I fell in the aisle to my chair. I had chairs to hang on to and people to hang on to and suddenly, one second I’m up and the next I’m down on my knees! I didn’t hurt myself and I was up as quickly as I went down, hoping people that saw me either thought that I was praying or that I was grabbing something off the floor. ;) I think most people were distracted enough going up to communion that they didn’t even notice. It did give me a whole new meaning to the song we sang after communion, “Lead Me to the Cross” and these lyrics from the song:

“Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross”

I do believe that God loves when we laugh and I seriously had to laugh (internally) that not even a few minutes after I fall, I hear “Bring me to my knees”.

As tough as walking can get, the Lord ALWAYS allows me to trade those bad days in for good and He ALWAYS makes me laugh, think and downright SEE HIM in every situation. After my fall on Sunday, I decided that I would walk with someone outside to my car. I was thinking maybe my mom or one of my sister-in-laws. Well, all of the sudden, I look and they’ve all left!! (If they are reading this, I am totally OK with everything, I just had to put what I’m going to say next in to context). So, I think to myself that I could get Dad to walk me out if I really needed to, but he was talking with people. So, I thought, “OK, God. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I know you are with me, so please don’t let me slip, trip or fall.” As soon as I prayed this, Todd appeared.

To get even more of a background on this, a few Sundays ago I was having problems walking in to church. I saw Todd walking in at the same time and I asked if I could walk with him. I didn’t need to hold on to him or anything, I just wanted someone to walk with. He obliged. We started talking and I got to know some of his backstory. I’ve been going to church with this man and his family for years (seriously, probably since moving here to Tennessee) and I never knew what he was telling me. He has his own medical issues with his eyes. Fast forward to the Sunday before last: after the installation of our new associate pastor that Sunday night, Todd saw me struggling a little to get to my car, so he came running out of church to help me. So, for him to just appear out of nowhere this past Sunday when I needed him most, right after I’d prayed – you cannot tell that that wasn’t God. I know without a shadow of a doubt, it was!! And I told Todd so. I told him that he was a blessing from God and an answer to prayer. He told me that he had been praying that God would use him to bless others. God answered BOTH of our prayers. How utterly awesome is that?!!!!

I’ve also been blessed immensely by my co-worker and friend, Sarah. She just calls it “walking and talking with a co-worker” (as does my other co-worker and friend, Debbie), but to me it is SO MUCH more. Sarah has been walking out of work with me a few times this past week, just to lend a steady hand if I need it. I have been so incredibly blessed by this. It’s meant the world. The weather has been rainy and icky. My walking has been extremely effected by this. Sarah has been incredibly kind and patient walking just as slowly as I do, so that just in case I need some help, she’s there. I have to say that ALL my co-workers have been just as kind. I am SO BLESSED.

Even with walking poorly, I’ve kept the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device the same as it was last week. I really am convinced that if this weather will clear up, my walking will too. But, if doesn’t after this week, I’ll revisit turning the electricity up or down.

So, you may be wondering (or maybe not, just humor me!) why I don’t go back to using the cane or the walker when I really need it. My dad has begged me to. Friends have mentioned that it’s not a failure. The truth is, I’m afraid I’ll become dependent on them again. I was speaking with someone today and I told her that I think my fear of falling is just as great, if not greater than actually falling. I need to fight that fear by doing what I fear the most: walking without assistance. I’m not completely stupid though. If I truly feel like I can’t walk, I will use (or at least carry) the cane. But, right now I’m in a battle with myself over fear. So, it’s between me and God. Today, I had the vision of Peter walking on water stuck in my head. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he could walk. It was fear and taking his eyes off of Jesus that made him stumble. I also had the vision today of my foot in Jesus’ hand. He has me in the PALM of HIS HAND – ALWAYS!! Why do I forget this every five minutes?! He’s kept me safe thus far and He’ll continue to keep me safe. There is nothing that happens in my life that He doesn’t already know about, that He hasn’t already ordained, that He hasn’t already turned around for His good. Why then must I worry? I shouldn’t and with God’s help, with my very being in the palm of His hand, I’ll be alright. God’s Got This!!