Monthly Archives: August 2019

Ashamed

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For the first time in a long time, I feel ashamed, small, and meek because of my God.  That is as far opposite as a Christian is supposed to feel, much less admit and testify to.  We’re only supposed to highlight the good and trust in the best, when really we feel completely abandoned and embarrassed that our God wasn’t as powerful as we thought.  I know it sounds awful.  Try having it in your heart and come from your head.  I am the worst disciple on the planet.  Try hearing it over and over when you really just wanted to believe you did have faith in the one true God.  Everything comes into question.

I recently jumped out of a plane.  I seriously got my mind around the concept of skydiving.  My anxious, control-freak self was able to get my brain beyond the roadblock of fear some might face when jumping out of a plane at 18,000 feet.  I am an “extreme athlete” now.  Sort of a big deal.  Ha.  It’s a peculiar thing, this skydiving.  My biggest take-away, beyond the physical nature of falling through sky, was how powerful my mind can be.  If I can do this one thing, I can do lots of other things.  Right?  In reality, though, this is it!  There are not lots of other things I am going to do or will get to do, no matter how well trained my brain is.

Behind the scenes of my husband’s fortieth and launching myself from the clouds, I had some blood work done for a pretty rare, seemingly unlikely disease.  I had tested positive for it once before, and it was the last real feasible suggestion we had at why I was struggling so much with my legs and pain right now.  We definitely noticed a decline in my walking starting in October 2018.  It was originally treated as sciatica without relief.  10 months into it, I am pulling my cane out on long walking trips, and learning which drugs help the most when the spasms and stiffness kick in like mad.  I am getting better at dealing with it, but it still sucks and is progressing to include both legs and bigger spasms.

Long story short, this last test was negative.  I knew it was a double-edged sword, this last lab…  if it was positive, it would offer the chance at a new hope, even though it would come with a crappy diagnosis.  Of course I don’t want the disease, I just wanted a chance at feeling better.  The first appointment at my new neurologist, last August or so, she told me I had a “mild” case of MS.  She told me this spring that my leg and walking problems aren’t presenting the way they should for MS. I just can’t see myself going back to her begging her to see someone who is more than just “mildly” ill with dramatic leg pain she doesn’t get.  Why does that have to be a battle?

I didn’t medicate with any of my pregnancies.  They wanted to send me home when I came in with my first because I wasn’t scrunching my forehead enough during contractions; I wasn’t expressing enough pain to indicate labor.  They found out, real quick, when we came back that I wasn’t messing around.

I wish it was easy to tell the doctors you don’t feel good and actually get help.  There was one moment I had, in the long history of trying to figure out what is wrong with me  – remember, I was told I was crazy on my 23rd Birthday by Idaho’s self-proclaimed “lead MS doctor” (insert vomit face here), and I wasn’t diagnosed with MS until I was 34.  I was helped at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.  That is not the point. The point is, there was this one resident, a young gal, and she was doing her exam of me and we talked about where I was mentally.

At that time a pastor in our town had been diagnosed with a throat cancer of some type.  He had two possible outcomes: he would go to heaven or he would live.  I told this doctor that he had better options than I did.  She said, “Are you saying it would be better for you to die?”  I answered, “It would be better for me to die, than to continue suffering the way I have had to.”  She took me real serious.  She went out of her way to get a spinal tap done and that test was the one test that was positive enough that I would get help.

“Help” was hopeful in the beginning.  There were options.  But, now without as many of those options, and the steady pain in my body, the help available to me is no longer enough.  The hope fades fast.

The realization that God doesn’t have a plan for me to prosper or to be healthy are hard.  The realization that God is okay with the pain I’ve had and the pain that will come is hard.  He is all powerful and could stop it, but found someone like me, who deserves it…  and that just makes lots of tears.

Today, all I have to offer God is a pretty broken heart.  I am the worst possible poster child for a “be all you can be” Christian message of any sort.  Today all I have are a lot of tears as I look forward to the future.  There is a very small way for me to keep my shop, but I am not going to be able to keep up physically doing the work I enjoy.  It is humbling to know that this is the plan God has for me.  It feels incredibly difficult to get my brain around all the painful days left in my life without even the hem of his garment to dry my eyes.

 

 

 

The truth hurts, but the cooler looks good.

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I recently found myself in a situation where I responded to life in a pretty ugly way.  I didn’t want to come back and explore this, but I know I have to.  Humility.  It’ll cold cock ya.

So, especially this year, but maybe the last six months to be sure, I have been working on attitude, positivity, Christlike living and poof!  Out of nowhere a wrench is thrown into my system and pangs me right where a super ugly piece of my heart is revealed.

I saw in my response someone who relied on the approval of others to be complete.  I saw someone who confused what it was to be liked and to be loved and to be valued.  I saw someone caught up in earthly worth.  I was so embarrassed with myself.

The matter at hand I’m talking about involves the pressures of small town living, business’ing, and social media.  I missed an opportunity that somebody else took, and totally nailed.  As a business person, I felt I had failed.  In these moments, it was also revealed that there was more that I had missed in the background.  Another florist popped up with roots in valley.  Their business is shared on social media and in these tender moments of scrolling through images, I also realized I had lost customers.  It is as painful to me today as it was the day I had discovered it.  It felt like I wasn’t good enough.  I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t look myself in the mirror.

This experience caused me to reflect inward, hard, and find out what was really making me tick.  There was so much pain.  Why is this hurting me?  Instead of running from the ugliness I tried to understand what caused it.  I felt so vulnerable.  Rooted in my DNA, part of my environmental childhood expectations, being liked has always been important to me.  Winning is extremely important.  Not being liked is hard.  It means not good enough.  It means bad.  It means losing.  Losing is my fault.

Winning likes and status in social media is something my children are very well aware of in their tender ages.  With social media, you can see who likes and who does not like your posts as an individual.  I have a lot of “acquaintances” on my Facebook page.  Some people who really dislike me in real life.  I have no clue why we are social media friends?  And, does this “friendship” have different rules than real life relationships? Although I have a few people I question, I am confident most people I am “friends” with support me as a human being.

In business, however, your view is different.  Your goal is to make a product people like, people want, and that people will value.  How do you respond when your product isn’t liked, isn’t wanted, isn’t valued?

Is not liking my craft reflective of how people feel about me?  How do you de-personalize the situation?  How do you unfold the virtual dislike with the physical?  In a small town, you are in close proximity to your competition, to your customers, to your friends, and to your un-friends.  Not being liked on Facebook feels the same as the people who see me in town but look away or only respond to me if I smile or wave, first.  They don’t like me.  They have enough energy to click like on any flowers that aren’t mine, but I am not even worth eye contact.  People who I feel look down on me.  People who really do not believe I am good enough.  How do you handle this as a human?

Ultimately, my God has to be my base.  He provides my work.  He provides my paycheck.  He provides my skill.  I do not have to be afraid that I will be abandoned by all my customers.  I do not have to feel humiliated that I didn’t do good enough.  I can love others who despise me with the love of Christ.

I am learning to accept that we are all extensions of God’s spirit.  We are all connected on a human level.  I have no reason to fear.  No reason to fear.

I’ve learned to keep a short list of whose opinions matter most to me.  God’s voice has to be first and He thinks I am pretty rad.  Instead of feeling threatened by competition, I am embracing that God uses all of us to express His beauty.  It is embarrassing to admit to having to go through these emotions and thoughts.  They feel childish and selfish, but they are true.  I feel constantly shaken down by my internal voice.  My internal monitor for self value relied so heavily on how the town around me responded to me.

Letting bits of Weiser go and realizing that I may not be all the people’s first choice florist in the valley was hard.  I thought it meant I sucked.  It’s taken a bit to realize that I have actually done more than just failed as a floral designer:  I’ve kept an itty bitty flower shop alive in a small town when flower shops everywhere are vanishing.  I’ve kept my doors open for twelve years, I’ve learned to process and design affordable flowers that my community can buy.  I work hard to keep a cooler full for walk-ins as well as monitoring specialty flowers for custom work.  I’ve kept multiple people employed with a reliable form of part-time work.  I’ve learned to sorta balance the areas of the floral industry – funeral, wedding, holidays, commercial, plants, gifts, and more.  I am not able to be the center of the downtown activities association, but I have been content with providing the best possible product I can with what I have for a town that holds a piece of my heart.

I sacrificed a big piece of my dignity to be liked earlier this year.  Liked by one person.  One person who is never going to like me!  I made a business commitment I wouldn’t have made if I had seen more on social media.  They don’t even like my product!  Here I am trying to win this person over and the whole time, and in “real life” I didn’t even have a chance.  I have to honor the pledge I made.  I feel so foolish.  I will keep my word when the time is right.  If I do not have my word, I have nothing.  It is the most important piece of me I can give.

I am also pushing myself to give more to the creativity and growth end of things at the business.  Designating the basics to my staff to save my energy for the blossoms and final product.  The pressure of having competition has spurred me to step up my game – educate myself, make thoughtful new choices, and branch out.  Creating a higher end arrangement while still maintaining an affordable product that is realistic to duplicate and resell in a small country town.

There are advantages to being aware of your competition.  Competition will always exist.  I realize, now, that I am not going to be everyone’s favorite and I am okay with being ordinary and consistent.  I am okay with people buying flowers from somebody else because we genuinely do have different styles, availability, affordability.  Loyalty, though?  There will be heaps of love for those who remained loyal.  It is the ones I wasn’t good enough for that get me sad.  Learning how to navigate through the unique world of social media, while also rubbing shoulders with the people who virtually don’t like you in the grocery store, is a pretty awkward storm to splash through, and I will get there.  If it weren’t a small town, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.

In all circumstances, if my anchor isn’t buried in my identity in Christ, I will be shattered.  I will drown. He alone gives me value.  He gives me the strength to keep trying.  Believe me, I want to quit.  Where is the quitting place?  I’ve really asked myself this.  “If we choose to quit, where does one enroll in quitting?  Can I drive?  Shall I text me an uber?”

I know I can’t quit.  I know it’s not an option.  I’m not going to lie, though.  This past summer I have thrown up my hands a few times.  The eye of the storm isn’t easy but, it does make you a bit productive.  You learn to get rid of dead weight quick.  I am throwing off the shackles of pleasing people who I cannot please.  I know who my people are.  I know who my employer is.  I know what my mission is.  I know someday this will all be a little mist on an otherwise extraordinary eternity.

In this vapor, it has been a tremendous gift to be used in a unique way of illustrating God’s beauty on the canvas that is little town Idaho.

Rejection

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Maybe it’s all this sunshine I’ve been getting. Maybe it’s just a season of life.  Maybe it’s actual change.  That’d be the best!

We were recently told that we were not accepted to see anyone at the Lucinda Bateman clinic in Utah.  We were hoping that they could offer a supplemental diagnosis that could explain and treat the pain I am having, the walking issues, the leg and hip stiffness.  If the record reviewers don’t think they can offer you anymore help – diagnosis, prescription, or otherwise-they won’t even see you.

My MS diagnosis is a wonky one and it’s hard to explain and discuss.

I cried hard and big after I got the call that I was rejected.  The denial by the clinic took away a breath of hope I had.  Hope that life could be different and that maybe I wouldn’t have to change my life because of deteriorating health problems that could be treated.  The doctor here suggested the Mayo Clinic, again.

I need time to recover and think, so I have hesitated to consent.  I have been too busy living to want to deal with a lot of things that need to be dealt with.  I thought I would have time this summer to filter through everything and offer a more thoughtful real estate brochure for the sale of my flower shop and have a complete package to present the potential buyer.  Um… dude.

For starters, July was busier at the shop than I have had in the recent five years, if not, ever.  It is supposed to be the slow time, the time to rest and recover and explore the Northwest geocaching with my crew. We went out and did a few things, but were overwhelmed with business, otherwise.

The good ole Lord must be carrying me through this chaos, the normal Dana would be falling apart. Believe me, there are moments. But, I am not living there, somehow. I firmly believe this will be a chapter of my life that I look back and see one set of footprints.  God has to be involved in this.

In all honesty, I feel pretty crappy physically.  I feel like I am suffering minute by minute.  You never know what part of your body you will be dealing with today or next week.  Last week the right side of my neck and head hurt immensely.  Pain and burning I felt on the outside of my head.  Almost like a force, only from the inside out. I felt like a freak.  A hypochondriac, right?  It was so stupid sounding, I couldn’t even call the doctor to discuss.  Just tried to medicate it away.  It is hard.   Instead of a pillow, it feels like a 2×4 under your neck.  In addition to the normal stuff in my legs, arms, shoulders, and back.

This week I am having trouble with the left side of my neck.  Sitting down is miserable.  The aching and cramping kick in.  It’s either stay moving, stay medicated, or sleep.  And, severe leg pain wakes me up hourly throughout the night.  I can’t look up or at anything for a long period of time.  I am pretty sure my kidneys hurt from all the ibuprofen and tylenol and baclofen and caffeine.

I have devised a small plan of attack go forward.

I’ve reached out to my neurologist to have one last blood test ordered here at the local place.  It’s the last funky test that I’ve had.  If that is negative, then I really truly have some totally wackadoo presentation of MS.  If it is as positive as it was before, or greater, I know I am onto something and I will pursue the nation’s foremost authority on SPS at Johns Hopkins in Maryland.

In the meantime, delegation has become a new “area of growth” of mine. Passing on my tasks to both of my employees.  Trying to regularly give them more details to keep so I don’t have to. Going to start looking to hire someone to fill the cooler regularly and also fill in when I’m not able.  Freedom. I’ve really been enjoying the time I have at home and with my kids and family.  This is surprising and good to me. Doesn’t that sound awful? I think it’s because it’s been sitting around really *with* each other, playing a game, working on the yard together, and setting a different pace of life. My kids desperately need me to see them right now.

I’ve been learning to love people as they are, as Jesus would, not as they should be.  It’s so liberating and brings so much joy. It is not as easy as it sounds. An amazing soul once told me that we all the ability to love perfectly. I thought he was asinine. It’s true. He was right. We love perfectly when we love as Christ.

I’ve been doing a lot of listening while I work.  Scripture, Brene Brown, music, John Piper.  My brain is literally aching at all the interweaving of relevant learning God implements into our lives as we seek Him, seek more, and desire to be the best versions of ourselves He created.

Learning about self talk, self worth, and continuing to present the best light I have forward no matter how hard the darkness tugs.  And does it tug.  Daily, hourly, always persistent to bring on shame, fear, guilt, worthlessness.

It is no coincidence that the combined lessons God culminated for me recently involve learning where my worth comes from, whose opinion really matters to me, and how to identify, combat, and diminish the pain in a healthier way.  Of course it will take me a bit to figure it all out.  I am learning to be okay with it being a slower process than I had hoped. I am learning to be okay with mistakes. Learning to look at myself with love, a tiny bit.

I am excited to pursue being the best human being I can be with the commission to endure a unique suffering in chronic illness, domestic violence, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.  Getting comfortable with writing my book, for reals!  Like, really putting a piece of me out there to be judged and examined and scoured.  It is terrifying and it needs to be done.  If I don’t allow the light of Christ to shine through my suffering, it would be for nothing.

There are hard days and hard moments when I forget my goal.  I take my eyes off the prize, completely consumed by all the busy-ness of life, the family, the shop, drama, problems, and overwhelming pressure to keep going despite physical pain.  It is these times I crumble big, take long breaks, and often rely on those who love me most to lift me back up.

I am thankful for the chance to share my story.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have a safe place to write, breathe, feel, and share just what I need. Exhale.

 

Amen.