Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: December 26

Last week's post did it!! I gave a not-so-subtle hint (haha!) that I wanted a tour of the ER where my brother works. His wife just happened to see my post and read the blog to him. The next night, he called me and said he could give me a tour the next day! So on December 21, I got an (almost) all-access tour of UT's ER. It was beyond awesome and the best part was that I wasn't a patient!! I told Stanton that that could have been my Christmas present. I met some of the doctors and nurses he works with. I brought them homemade chocolate chip cookies. I got to see the nurses lounge and the admittance desk. I got to see where the doctors hang out and where their lockers and mailboxes are. The best part was I got to see the trauma room. We had to wait a bit to see it as a trauma came in while I was there, but once the trauma was clear, Stanton took me to see the room. That's where all the action takes place. On one hand, I was a little surprised at how little the room was, but on the other hand, I was enthralled by what I saw. One doctor was surprised at the fact that I wanted to tour the ER. He said that touring a museum would be more fun. Not to me, not to me! Haha. I got asked TWICE if I was also a doctor (besides Stanton) and if I was coming to work there. Stanton told me later that most people who tour the ER are doctors and are coming to work there. I was surprised how big the ER was. They have somewhere around 70 beds/rooms for patients. Stanton said it looked like they were really busy the day I toured. I got to see the ambulance bay. I told one of Stanton's colleagues that in my business we have a phrase: "It's cable, not cancer.", meaning no one will die if we make a mistake, but in Stanton's line of business, I guess that's not quite true! I didn't take that many pictures, because of HIPPA laws and such, but I was able to snap a few and as weird as I am, I love looking at them - haha. I'm not going to lie, I compared everything to the TV shows ER and Chicago Med. I'm also not going to lie about looking to see if there were any single cute doctors around. :) A girls got to do what a girls got to do. I had such a fun, fascinating time. A huge thank you to Stanton (and Aubrey too) for giving his big sister a tour!

This past week has been absolutely wonderful. I took time off from work before Christmas because my co-worker is taking this week off. I was able to get a lot of things done, including one day where I spent 6 hours wrapping presents. I also did something new-to-me at the recommendation of one of my doctors: yoga. I wasn't sure it would be for me. I knew nothing about it nor how it could help me. Thankfully, for the time being, I'm doing it with a private instructor who is modifying it to help with the dystonia. I have to say, I had my second session today and I love it. It may not be for everyone, but, even only 2 sessions in, it's helping with my balance and flexibility and it's also helping me stress less! So maybe it is a good thing. ;)

Walking has been getting better and better. Of course, there are definitely moments when it's not so good, but then there are days like today where I've walked almost as good as I could ask for! I walked into yoga today normally. I didn't have to start/stop. I wasn't stiffed-legged and I actually bent my knee. My feet landed on the ground the way they are supposed to and didn't curl up or spasm. I walked into Kroger without having to use a shopping cart to hold on to and low and behold once I was back in the parking lot, I decided that I felt good enough to actually return the cart to the cart receptacle and walk back on my own! Now all of you who dislike when people leave carts in the parking spaces should be happy! I walked in/around/out of Walgreens without having to use a cart. It's little to most, but HUGE to me. I don't boast just to boast though. God's doing this. He may be using the deep brain stimulation to help, but I know that He's behind every firm step I take, every confident stride I make. All glory goes to Him. And even when I'm having a not-so-great walking day, I'll still praise Him. He knows I learn better when I'm on my knees anyway. ;) I have good and bad days, just like we all do, but when I have extra good days, I want all to know who gives them to me: God. When I have extra bad days, I want all to know who gets me through them: God. Sure, there were times this past week when I wasn't so steady on my feet and there were other times when my confidence waned, but God kept me from falling!

One quick story from last Wednesday night: I was at church and I was walking from where our mailboxes are to the sanctuary (for those that go to my church and know the path I'm speaking of). I was doing "really well" and then I looked up and saw someone watching me and fear took over and I instantly felt the need to stiffen up. I shouted playfully "Are you watching me walk?". He said yes he was and he was marveling at how well I was doing. As soon as I knew someone was watching me though, I got stage fright and wasn't as steady on my feet as I had been moments earlier. It's just another "issue" I'm working on overcoming!

It's an ongoing thing, this walking of mine, but I am confident that God will continue His work in me both physically, emotionally and spiritually.

To God be the Glory because after all - God's Got This!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: December 19

December 19, 1999 was a Sunday. I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college. I had just come home a couple of days before for the Christmas break and was enjoying catching up with everyone at church and that's the last thing I remember about that day.

On that day, Mom and I got into a pretty bad car accident after church on our way to my grandparents house after we picked up pizza for lunch. My dad was still at church and actually heard the accident, but drove right past us a little while later because we were down in a ravine and not visible from the road. Mom said I was knocked unconscious from the beginning and that she started to worry when I started making gurgling noises. I was told they had to use the "jaws of life" to get us out. Mom was taken to the nearest hospital per my dad's request, but the paramedics made the decision to take me to the University of Tennessee because they are a level one trauma center. (Incidentally, this is now the same ER that my brother, Stanton, works at as an ER doctor!).

Ya'll, my favorite TV show ever is "ER". I love anything medical. It fascinates me. I've always wanted to ride in an ambulance with lights and sirens and the one time I get to do it, I don't remember a single second of it!! So, if you're a paramedic and are reading this, could I please get a ride in an ambulance with lights and sirens when I'm not the patient?! ;) I'd also love, love, love a tour of the ER (again, when I'm NOT the patient! This is also a hint for my brother, although I think he's too busy to read this blog!). I would love every second of it! I would love to be a doctor or a nurse except that I'm terrible in math and science. Oh well. I don't remember much of my ER visit. I remember that my back hurt (turns out it was just from laying on the backboard). The only other thing I remember was overhearing someone say "surgery" and I freaked out. They quickly said it was only an option and it turns out, I didn't have to have it. And that concludes my ER experience. No George Clooney.

It turns out that Mom and I had identical injuries, we just mirrored each other. We both had fractured pelvises. Mine was on the right and hers was on the left. I'm very thankful that I was "left in the dark" on what fractured pelvises meant until I was past the point of concern. Turns out, it's very easy for someone with a fractured pelvis to develop a blood clot and die instantly. Thank the Lord that didn't happen to me or Mom!

For 6 days after December 19, Mom and I were separated in two different hospitals and my poor dad, during one of the busiest weeks of the year for him (he's a pastor of a church), had to juggle visiting both of us, taking care of my brothers at home, and prepare for Christmas worship. We were discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve. People in our church really stepped up and helped us out. My grandmother spent the nights with me in the hospital and a good friend, Cheri, spent the days with me. I remember certain things about that time, like my nurse. He was a male first of all and I was a little self-conscience in the beginning, but that lasted all of 2 minutes. I was in so much pain, I didn't care. He was football player huge. He could pick me up in one fell swoop and lay me back down on the bed just as easily. Back then, I had gained more than the "freshman 15", so picking me up was quite the feat - ha! He was the sweetest human being though. I remember that he and his wife had just had a son and it was going to be his first Christmas that year. I also remember the occupational therapist or maybe he was a physical therapist. Either way he was HOT!! I hadn't brushed my teeth in days and I remember Cheri slipping me a piece of gum when she saw how cute he was and how "in love" I was with him. His cuteness made up for the torture he put me through in just standing up. ;) I remember how Cheri had her daughter, Jill (who's a year younger than me) go out and buy a new sweater because the one I was wearing when we got in the accident was cut off by the ER doctors and destroyed. I remember friends coming by and seeing me. I remember (and still to this day have) the teddy bear that Marvin bought in the hospital gift shop that got me through those days.

Why am I writing about something that happened 18 years ago? Well, it may or may not have precipitated everything that's going on with me now. There's no way to actually tell 100%, but maybe my being knocked unconscious that day jarred something in my brain to activate the dystonia I deal with today. Doctors have theorized that it could have happened, but no one can say for sure. I myself have thought about it and theorized about it, but I end up driving myself nuts trying to pinpoint what could have caused the dystonia. I only write about it again now because today is December 19 and the 18th anniversary of the accident. It's also the anniversary of when I had a shunt put in my brain back in 2008. At that time doctors thought I had hydrocephalus. It turns out, lots of things happen to me on December 19 - sheesh!

Here I am though on December 19, 2017 and I'm writing with a grateful heart. I'm blessed to be alive. I'm blessed to be walking. I'm just simply blessed. This past week has been pretty good. Like I said in my post last week, I'm seeing subtle positive results in my walking. It's not every day in every situation, but I am seeing results. I haven't fallen in the past week and I've gotten more confident. I do know that Satan's around trying to trip me up (both literally and figuratively), but I also know that God's got a lot more power then Satan and He's kept me safe. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I pray more and harder than I ever have when I'm walking from point A to point B. Maybe that's the way God wants it. If He chooses to heal me completely so that I have no issues whatsoever walking, I'll shout it from the rooftops what He has done for me. But if He decides that where I'm at right now is where I'm supposed to be, I'll also shout it from the rooftops because after all He knows what He is doing. I do so hope and pray though that He does heal me COMPLETLEY!!!!

It's funny and humbling and wondrous how different people have different perspectives. It's also refreshing and life-affirming. People who haven't seen me in a long time are amazed at how I get along without a walker or cane. I, myself, always want more. I'm not walking "normal" yet. But then again, what is normal? I keep reminding myself what Jack , an elder at my church, once told me: "There's no such thing as bad walking. Either there's walking or not walking and you're walking." Yes, I am. Even if it's not quite how I want to be walking, it's still walking and I'm doing it. Even if you can tell that there's something wrong, I'm still walking without a cane or walker. Some of that is my stubbornness, some of it is the deep brain stimulation, some of it is medication, but ALL of it is God.

I've written about this before, but I'm going to write about it again. ;) My absolute favorite Christmas song ever is, "Mary Did You Know". I love the whole song, but my favorite lyrics are:

"The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb"

"The lame with LEAP". Did you get that part?! It brings chills to me every time I hear that chorus and especially that line. The lame with leap!!

God's doing mighty things in me. The physical is just the icing on the cake. Again, whether I walk with no issues or not, He's working inside me to know Him better, to praise Him better, to love Him better. I'm incredibly blessed. I may not walk like everyone else, but that's what makes me unique, right?! My story is being written by the Almighty God and I can't think of a better person to write it. He's brought me so far and the story's not done. I can't wait to see what lies ahead. Of course, I'll have down days and days when I want to take the pen out of God's hands and put it in mine, but I know that leaving the pen in His hands and relying on Him to get me through tough days is the best plan. God's got me (and you!) in the palm of His hand.

Merry Christmas everyone! May you remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas and that God's Got This!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: December 12

Hi ya'll! It's super late for me to be starting this blog post (It's 8:43pm on Tuesday), so we'll see how much I write tonight, but it is Tuesday, so I feel compelled to write - ha! It's December 12, which means Christmas is in FULL GEAR!! I just got home from having dinner at my brother and sister-in-law, Stanton and Aubrey's house. The whole family (minus a brother and a niece) were there. I love these gatherings!! I love the Christmas season. It's full of joy.

This past week has been good! No falls - yay. There was some confidence building too - always good! It's not perfect, but, I'm blessed. I'm thankful that the Lord allows me to see how blessed I truly am.

Yesterday, I did something I haven't done in years. Seriously, I think the last time I did it I was a teen and I certainly haven't done it since I've had issues walking. I bowled. I was terrifically horrible at it, but I did it! And the best part - I didn't fall!! I was slow walking up and back, but I didn't fall!!! My department at work had our Christmas party yesterday at this place called the Main Event where there was bowling. So, I bowled and it was awesome. I didn't even care that I lost miserably!!! That "56" score in the picture below is me. Oh well! It was still fun! After I bowled, I played Skee Ball and arcade games and I threw basketballs. I was fiercely competitive in playing air hockey. I had fun. I did steer away from Laser Tag and the Ropes Course, but baby steps, right?! I built up a sweat.

I've seen subtle improvements in my walking, but I'm still praying for a miracle. God can do anything. He makes the blind see and the deaf hear. He makes the lame leap. (Yes, my favorite Christmas song is, "Mary Did You Know?" and yes, those words come from it!) So, yes, I pray for a miracle. Some may laugh at that, but that's fine. I know that God can do anything. And even if He wants me to remain how I am today, I'll be OK. I do know one thing: He hasn't gotten me this far along to just abandon me. There's always a lesson to be learned in everything that happens in life. We all have our "stuff" to deal with. I'm learning (and this will probably be a life long lesson!) that I can't just let life pass me by. If I don't seize the moment, it'll be gone. So, while there will still be days when I just want to lay in bed, I need to seize opportunities to live life to the fullest despite any limitations I have. I'm preaching to myself as I write these words. I'll need to come back and read them when life seems completely overwhelming. I'm fearful of a great deal of things. If you know me well, you know this. But what is there to fear, but fear itself? I know the CREATOR OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. Why do I fear?! Because I'm human and sinful, that's why. But God is greater than any fear. I must step out on faith (both literally and figuratively).

I hope each and everyone of you is having a wonderful Christmas season. Thank you for continuing to walk this journey with me. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for praying for me. There have been so many times that I don't know what to pray for. I feel like a broken record. It's in those times that I am so thankful for people "standing in the gap" for me and praying for me. I hope that in some small way, I can show the world God's love as you have shown it to me.

I know that God's timing is perfect, so I wait. I know in all things that God's Got This!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: December 5

Perseverance and Patience.
Calmness and Courage.
Four things I long for; four things I fail at daily!
But it’s OK, because God’s growing me in these areas.

Last Thursday, November 30, I had my appointment with Dr. Tolleson (my neurologist) and he programmed a new frequency in my deep brain stimulation device. Now it’s a game of waiting and testing – perseverance and patience!! I told a co-worker, it was fun at first – this testing different levels of electricity, but now I just want it to work!

The appointment went well. I had to laugh to myself though when the nurse wanted to take my blood pressure. It’s always so high because I stress about getting to appointments on time and I just have a lot of adrenaline running through me. You’d think that after all the doctor visits I’ve been to, I wouldn’t get anxious or worried, but that’s just not the case. Anyway, I told her, “It’s going to be high.” So she decided to wait on taking it and did other things first. It worked!! When she did take it, it was 112 over 58. See, I knew if I had a few minutes just to calm down, it would affect my blood pressure! ;) CALMNESS!

Dr. Tolleson wanted to see me walk. I don’t like this part. For those that see me every day and those that know me really well, you know that I don’t like people watching me walk. I get very self-conscience about it. I know, I know. The whole purpose of me seeing a neurologist in the first place is because I can't walk right. He can’t help me if he can’t see me walk, but it still doesn’t make walking for him (or anyone else) any easier! So I walked for him. He observed that I walk on the outside of my feet. As I was walking, I ran into (not literally!), my old neurologist, Dr. LeForce. Talk about a little awkward. Dr. LeForce is awesome. I loved him as a neurologist, but since my DBS neurologist (Dr. Tolleson) moved to Knoxville and both of them joined the same practice, I had to choose who I’d see. I chose Dr. Tolleson because he can adjust all my settings. Dr. LeForce was great about that though as he was when we “ran into” each other on Thursday. He asked how I was doing and said I looked great (I think all doctor’s are trained to say that, right?!). Then Dr. Tolleson exclaimed, “Oh, right! I totally forgot that you sent her to us in Nashville!” After we talked with Dr. LeForce a little longer, Dr. Tolleson wanted me to walk again for him one more time. As I began, he said, “Now, walk normally.” I burst out laughing and gave him a little eye roll as I turned toward him and exclaimed, “Seriously?!” He started laughing himself when he realized what he had said and exclaimed, “Well, you know what I mean!” A little laughter does the soul good! I told Dr. Tolleson that I feel more comfortable when I walk where I know there’s something to grab ahold of then I do in wide open spaces. I’m extremely stubborn though and won’t use any assistive devices (outside of the DBS) like a walker or cane. He smirked at that, but didn’t tell me I should use them. He said (as he previously had said) that the toe surgery I had definitely set me back. I knew that, but I’m hopeful that it will help in the future.

What I love so much about Dr. Tolleson is that he and I want the same thing: perfection. I know that perfection is unattainable on this earth, but I still want as close as possible to it as I can get. He wants the same thing. We are both type A. He was asking me how walking had been and I said it was OK. He finished my sentence when I said, it’s OK, but I want and he chimed in, “perfection”. When will I ever be satisfied with just OK? Probably never!

Dr. Tolleson was a little surprised that I hadn’t tried Frequency D. I left the frequency as he had set it the last time I saw him which was Frequency B. I admitted that there was a part of me that was afraid to change it. I knew on Frequency B that I could at least get around with minimal to no falls, even if it wasn’t really the way I want to or need to walk. My fear was that if I turned to Frequency D and it didn’t work that when I turned it back to B I’d have to wait at least another two weeks for my body to adjust to it again and there was really only one month between my appointments. So, basically, fear got the best of me in that situation. I did fall twice within a month, but that’s a better record than I’ve had before.

Dr. T. checked all my “leads” to make sure everything was working perfectly. I joked with him that by the time we found the frequency that works for me it would be time to change the battery in the DBS device (it usually has to be changed every 5 years give-or-take as that is its lifespan). He smiled and I said, “that’s usually my luck – I’m just warning you!” At one point while he was programming, he said to let him know if I felt any shocks. I thought he was joking at first, but then he asked if I was seeing any bright lights. I said I wasn’t and wanted to know why he asked me. He said he was right by my optic nerve. Those sorts of things snap me back to reality that yes, indeed he is playing with my brain. He tried one frequency that made my chest feel tight. I think it was just because that’s where the battery for the device is located, but it freaked me out a little. He backed off of that frequency. I asked if anything he did could make me hallucinate. I quickly said, “I’m not hallucinating right now, I just want to know if that's a possibility.” He reassured me that nothing he did could cause hallucinations – whew!

During the appointment, Dr. Tolleson asked if I’d ever had Botox. My answer was yes. The very first neurologist I ever went to told me I had cerebral palsy and said he could fix me right up with Botox. He was astonished that I had no improvement every time I came back to him. He would inject it into different muscles, but nothing ever happened. After months of this, he finally had me get a blood test which revealed I had an antibody towards Botox. It wasn’t until years later when I went to the Mayo Clinic that doctors there told me that he probably caused me to build up an antibody to the Botox by injecting me so much with it. They tried a different strand of Botox, but got the same results: NOTHING. For some reason, Botox doesn’t work for me. Oh well.

I told Dr. Tolleson that when I’m nervous, anxious or excited my dystonia symptoms get worse. He confirmed that that will happen. UGH. If I’m relaxed, I walk so much better.

Dr. Tolleson programmed a new frequency: A and by the time I left, I was already seeing some improvement. As I started to walk down the hall to check-out, Dr. Tolleson asked how it felt and I said that I was just about to tell him that I could see some difference. He smiled and said “fingers crossed”. I’m cautiously optimistic. He says it’ll take at least two weeks to see any real improvement.

So, I patiently persevere while calmly having courage. Wait, who am I kidding? I'm nowhere near that – yet! I’m thankful that I have a God who loves me is spite of my whining and complaining - in spite of me being the opposite of calm or courageous. So I wait and pray and have hope that there WILL be much improvement.

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” Job 42:2 NIV

God’s Got This!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: November 28

This last week was such a fun week! The whole family (which includes, my mom and dad, myself, my three brothers, 2 sister-in-laws and 2 nieces) was together for Thanksgiving and it was absolutely beautiful.

Now that it's aired (and if you're Facebook friends with me, you saw me post about it), I can finally reveal that Mom and I were part of the studio audience at a taping of "Pickler & Ben" in Nashville. The taping occurred back on November 7 and our episode aired (at least here locally) on Wednesday, November 22 at 3pm. The most amazing thing happened too. Normally, I wouldn't have gotten to see it since I'm at work, but since it was the day before Thanksgiving, work let out at 2pm, so I had time to prepare for watching it. We had a "viewing party" at my parent's house consisting of myself, my mom, my brother, Steven, and my dad (who came home early from work just to watch it). Mom stole the show! Back on November 4 (a Saturday), I was laying in bed perusing Facebook. I follow one of the local news stations on Facebook and saw that they had posted that the country group "Little Big Town" was going to be on an episode of "Pickler & Ben" and there were still tickets available if people wanted them. I LOVE "Little Big Town", so I clicked on the story and signed up for tickets. At first, I was put on a waiting list, but a little while later I got an e-mail saying that I could claim tickets, so I did! I called my mom and asked what she was doing on Tuesday and miracle of miracles that was the ONLY day that week that she didn't have anything going on. I asked if she'd like to go and she said yes, so we took a day trip to Nashville. When we got to the studios and through security, we were all asked to write our name on a blank piece of paper, which we did. We met some really nice people from all over the US. When it was time to go into the studio, all I could do was praise Jesus. What I saw was a Christmas Wonderland. The reason I was praising Jesus was because my mom LOVES anything Christmas. In fact, love may be too subtle of a word to use. ;) I had no idea it was going to be a Christmas themed episode, but I knew right then and there that Mom would love it. When we walked in, Mom spoke up and said that it was kind of difficult for me to go up and down stairs. There were bleacher like seats with no railings. The production assistant said that was no problem and seated us in the FRONT ROW!!! As they were preparing us for what would happen during the show, they let us know that Kellie and Ben would be playing a white elephant game with the audience and our name could be chosen. If were chosen, we would go unwrap a gift and then sit in a special area. At this, I was very excited, but also terrified that my name would be picked. The reason being, I'd have to walk over to where the gifts were without tripping or slipping or falling and I didn't think I could do that. I was so excited just to be there that my dystonia symptoms were already showing, so to have to walk not only in front of the audience and Kellie and Ben, but also the TV audience, scared me. I needn't have worried - after all, God's Got This! The plan was that if my name was called, Mom would go up as me. Well, my name wasn't called, but Mom's was!!!!!!!! To make a long story short, Mom got her 15 minutes of fame and completely hammed it up in front of the cameras. Who knew that she had such talent?! She could have her own show! She stole one present (a TV), but then that got stolen from her, so she picked another: $1,000! But, that got stolen from her, so she picked another: $500 and that's what she ended up with. THIS TRIP WAS "FREE" (except for gas in the car and lunch). A free trip turned into an amazing day. Mom said it was one of the most fun days. We both walked away with "Little Big Town's" new CD, a month free of their new wine club called 4 Cellars and an American Girl doll (which works out perfectly because I have two nieces - each will get one!). It was a FANTASTIC day and watching it all over again this past Wednesday was so much fun!!

Thursday was Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for. I can get bogged down in the weeds with all sorts of things, but in the end, I have to admit that I am SO BLESSED in many, many ways. I had an absolutely fantastic time with my family on Thanksgiving, even though I lost my voice. Turns out, that was the beginning of a cold, but I can't complain because I wasn't the only one with a cold. It seems like every female in the family got one and the guys came out winning because they didn't get one! I got to play a lot with my nieces. I always wanted a sister growing up, but now that I have nieces, I think I got the better end of the deal! Gosh, I love those girls with all my heart!!

I did fall (unfortunately). I was at home and trying to hurry and tripped over an area rug. I landed on both knees. One knee came out fine, the other was bloodied. The skin on that knee (the left) is so paper thin that no matter what I do, if I land on it, it bleeds. I was mad at myself for rushing and not paying attention. I was also mad that my streak of no falls ended and right before I see the doctor. I think my body knows when it's almost time to go back to the doctor because that's when I fall! Oh well, it wasn't a bad fall and it wasn't in front of people, so I'm thankful!

I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving and is getting in the Christmas spirit! I took yesterday off of work to decorate my house for Christmas. Now, I can bask in it all.

May God bless each and every single one of you. May you have a great week and always remember...


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: November 21

Happy Eve of Thanksgiving Eve, ya'll! Haha. I hope everyone has a very blessed and very thankful Thanksgiving holiday.

This past week has been pretty good. I didn't fall - yay! Sometimes it's the "simple" things in life that I am most thankful for! I didn't have the best walking day yesterday, but I didn't fall and I didn't by any means have the worst day walking, so score one for me!!

I'm trying desperately to pay attention to exactly how I walk and what motions I go through (or don't go through) so that when I meet with the neurologist again, I can tell him exactly what's going on. For instance: I notice that I can not turn on a dime. If I'm walking out of the office and I hear the door open behind me, signaling someone else is coming out of the building, I can't turn around to see who it is without some trouble. I lose my balance and my concentration and my foot curls in. I know that I don't bend my (left) knee when walking unless I'm super comfortable that I'll be able to lay my foot flat on the floor and that anything below my knee won't spasm. I am extremely, extremely rigid when walking. It doesn't come natural. BUT - I'm still doing it WITHOUT a cane or walker. It would probably be way easier to use the assistive devices, but I haven't come this far to give in now. ;) I thank the good Lord above that He keeps me safe. I didn't change anything electricity wise in my device this week.

I got a haircut this past Friday by my favorite stylist at the haircut place, Clare. It's not a huge difference, but as Clare stated we "staved off the mullet for another 6 weeks or so!" That we did!! Hopefully by Christmas it'll be in that sweet spot - not too "you just got a haircut" new, but also not too "split-ends are everywhere" old.

This is right after I got it cut. so it's not styled or anything, but it gives you an idea:

Sunday, ya'll. Sunday fed my soul. God spoke volumes to me through my Sunday school discussions as well as the message in church (and it wasn't even my Dad preaching!!). In Sunday School we are going through Paul's journeys in the books of I and II Corinthians. During Sunday's lesson we studied II Corinthians 12. This is the chapter where Paul talks about his "thorn in my flesh" (verse 7). We discussed that we all thought it was so cool that the Bible does not reveal what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was. What's cool about that is that anyone who reads II Corinthians can apply it to themselves. Whatever their "thorn in the flesh" is doesn't matter because WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING to deal with in life. My brother, Stanton, had even more of a spin on it that I really, really like: Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was so inconsequential that no one thought to put it down (as to what it was) in words in the Bible. Whatever it was, he declared it and then it was brought up no more. The people Paul preached to didn't even see his "thorn in the flesh" anymore once they really knew who Paul was. I was blessed beyond measure with that Sunday school lesson and discussion. Then, the message that Pastor Travis gave during church was another huge blessing from the Lord. It was titled: "False Steps: Burying Your Talent" and was on the "Parable of the Talents" (Matthew 25:14-30). Again, I was given a gift by the Lord. Something Pastor Travis said in his message struck me to my core and it got me thinking. I had all these plans and thoughts for my life. I wanted to be married with 5 kids before I turned 30. I wanted to move to Hollywood and be a script writer. I wanted so much and then at the age of 25 I started tripping and stumbling and for the next 10 years I was put on a journey I never wanted to be on in the first place. I'm 37 now and am not married. I don't 5 kids. I never moved to Hollywood. BUT - that doesn't mean God forsook me or that I haven't had a beautiful life thus far. It's meant that God has used me in ways I may never know to hopefully help someone else along their journey. It's meant that I've become braver. It's meant that I was able to pay off $20,000 in student debt in two years. It's meant that I was able to buy a house at 24 years old. Those are only a few things. But, Pastor Travis' sermon really struck a nerve in me. I shouldn't "bury my talent". Though I'm side-lined by issues with my walking, I'm not dead! I can still get married, I can still have children (whether biological or adoptive because after all I am getting up in age). I can still move to Hollywood (although now I don't want to). HOWEVER, maybe God's pleading with me to use the talents I have right where I'm at. In fact, it's not a "maybe", He does want me to use my talents right where I'm at in life. Maybe He's allowing my "thorn in the flesh" so that someone else can be helped. Or maybe to mold me into who He wants me to be. God uses people right where they are, in whatever circumstance they are in. The sermon was an eye-opener to me: don't waste time or talent in life. Do everything with gusto and joy, because after all, GOD'S GOT THIS!!!

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!!