I couldn’t sleep the other night. I saw this on the news. A nurse at this children’t hospital used her phone to show the patients, medical staff, and administration the choreography to Katy Perry’s song. She put this video together and I think it’s so special!
Today, I am thankful! My first “real” day off in a few weeks. I slept in. I have no commitments. That is such a relief. My youngest are out collecting leaves so we can make a craft. The oldest is on the computer doing math. I am on a shabby barn red church pew that is nestled up against our house on the back patio. It’s crispy cold jacket weather. I hear the very hum of autumn around me: birds chirping, leaves scattering down through messy branches and kids playing. So thankful.
We recently had our first ever “real” family pictures taken. It was an ordeal. I was so expectant. I had vision and a mental checklist. I am just your average, everyday control freak. I went into this experience wanting results that I, honestly, can’t even say what they were. I am probably a photography clients worst nightmare. I chose this little petite photographer in Weiser, Randi Davies, to do our portraits. She is so tiny that I felt bad with her carrying all of the props, furniture, and ginormous camera around, all while limping, while I was trying to stay as still as possible to look pretty. Priorities.
Way back when, I saw some of Randi’s work and loved it. She is like the unicorn of photographer’s in my mind’s eye! I finally committed to the investment and set it up and it was going to be stinking amazing. However…
Tripp’s idea of a family photo and my idea of a family photo are not the same. I made it very clear to my entire family before we left that this was all about me. Evidently, Tripp did not concur. Oh… how I was frustrated with my sweet little man. I had the unicorn in my very presence and we were right there… but still not. I was so sad! We tried to get him to cooperate and I tried to exercise patience and gentleness. In the end, I left in tears. I didn’t ‘feel’ like it went well. I was disappointed.
When we got the pictures later online, I couldn’t believe it. Amid my mess, Randi was able to capture the dynamic of our family and the photos are stunning. I can hardly understand it.
Anyone who knows Randi knows that she has this tiny adorably distinguished voice to round out her small self. On a personal level, I know her to be meek and sweet. I tell you what… she gets her freak on behind that camera, people! She is a different person. She has clear vision, direction, and a louder assertive tone in her voice. The whole time I was feeling that things were bad, she was calm, cool, collected and all, “I got this, yo!”
I left crying and I can only imagine she left comforted and excited because she was seeing things from a completely different lens than I was.
We got a client preview on her website to see some of the pictures she didn’t post for us on FB. They are amazing. They are more than I could have dreamed of. I fall in love with our family when I look at them. I can remember looking back, years ago, through her portfolio and seeing these amazingly awesome people and wishing I could be them. Now, that I see us,.. is that really me? Is that really us? Those look like really joyful people… and we are. ❤
I feel this illustration directly reflects the Lord’s relationship with us during our “storms.” No, I am not saying Randi is God. I I am saying, for reference sake, that we say she was playing the most adorable portrayal of Jesus (Ever!) in our photo session. I represent the guys in the boat freaking out as they cross the sea of Galilee (referenced in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-31, and Luke 8:22-25). During the storm Randi is sleeping PEACEFULLY downstairs totally chill. I’m all, “Randi, this is bad!” And she’s like, “Back off, woman! I know what I’m doing.”
I can see this and I think I get it, but then the next storm will come and I’ll freak out again. I do have to say, from my very small experience with Christ, it is getting easier to get through the storms. But, the storms tend to get bigger. So, my next step is to stay calm and trust even when “real” life feels bad. I need to pray for and study faithfulness and ask the Lord to reveal this part of His character to me. I need to distinguish what I value as “real” and toss out the rest of the crap the world throws at us. I am, honestly, more prayerful that I can learn this lesson from the outside and not have to endure a test on faithfulness!!! Selfish, huh? Thankfully, though, Jesus loves me despite my character flaws.
He loves this girl. I’m trying to define what His love looks like and replace that with my understanding. It is a mind bender. A good one, though. He always works in these weird ways. Who knew I would get such a unique picture of His desire to work for us, not against us, than in this same photo shoot.
Another parallel to Christ that I have drawn from this photography session is that when we are in our weakest and most vulnerable, he is at His strongest. He would have to be, and I am confident Randi will give Him the credit for her talent, to make something so amazing as our family picture portfolio amid circumstances we had. We were all tired, stressed. Mom’s surgery was just days before… only the Lord could bless our mess in such a way! This is my favorite picture of the entire day and I don’t think we could have planned it. It is this spontaneous essence of the Lord that I am curious and excited about. It gives me hope.
I find myself doing that a lot lately. Needing that extra bit of oxygen, I suppose! It’s been a long, long road to where I am. Sometimes I don’t know where “here” really is. Or, if we’re even ever really there. This year, particularly, has been a thorough cleansing of my heart. I do not wish to experience this year again! However, the struggles and crashes and pain that surfaced all needed to be addressed sooner or later. I was preferring it would be later, Lord, but I suppose, yah… I know, let it go, Dana.
There is something that I kind of feel like I am supposed to talk about, that I don’t want to talk about at all. It’s not that I haven’t addressed it in small doses, but I haven’t really put it out there for the world to see. I guess I’ve been hiding behind uncertainty and fear.
I am fairly confident that my health issues are arising from an atypical variant of primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis. My neurologist explained it to me a long time ago in Boise, but I didn’t really get it. She drew several different slopes and diagrams, but mine was a little different than the different one. She said only time would tell for sure. She could continue rescheduling spinal taps until we found a positive (in one patient in took nine tries), but I didn’t want to wait for time or fork out $10k per stab in my spine,, so I tried to run from it. I made a couple of babies, tried to own a flower shop, and coped by not coping, I guess.
Over the course of my health career the lesions have increased with my MRI scans of the brain – the first two indicate the yuck is in the right hemisphere, the third had no change, and the one I had in August shows them in both hemispheres. The problem with my case, is that these lesions are not accompanied by multiple attacks, but a vey slow progression of small symptoms. Small symptoms are developing into bigger ones.
My family doctor is hopeful that the Mayo Clinic can help us discern 1. Is this really MS and 2. Is there anything we can do about it? He thinks doctors in Boise may have only seen one patient like me eight years ago, while the Mayo Clinic could have seen eight patients like me last month. While I want to pursue it, I’m also hesitating. What do I do if I go there, they confirm what we know, and still aren’t able to help. What then?
My Grandma Franka, on my dad’s side, had severe Multiple Sclerosis. One day she was helping my Papa Roy get cattle in and he yelled for her to get off her horse and close the gate. She couldn’t move her legs. She was thirty-six. I will be thirty-four in January. She had suffered a long time before this happened and nobody helped her, must less believed her.
Above and beyond paralysis, I stress about the tremor and the pain… The tremor is severe enough in my right hand/arm that it is very obvious when I’m doing anything in manual transmission (where my brain has to think about it). The pain is not always bad, but it’s everyday. Every day. The closest I can describe it is ranging from moderate electrical shocks, to a toothache sensation deep in my legs. The toothache that you cannot ignore. Every single day.
There is a lady at my church with cancer and back problems and you name it and she never even winces. Then….. you’ve got me. I don’t know why I feel like I need to share this with the world. I really don’t love getting everybody’s advice on how to get better… I have tried a lot. It’s been 14 years since my first surgery, sort of when things began. I have tried a lot. I get suggestions a lot. A lot. Ha.
For the first five or so years of being “sick” I made sure everyone knew that was who I was. I don’t think I wanted to be sick, but thought that’s what sick people could do, and I suppose I used it as an excuse for why I sucked at life. So silly. So, I fought through that identity , literally. It was a fight to get doctors to help me. A true battle. And when it was all said and done and we got to the neurologist and she said that we’re doing everything we can do for now —which is nothing but treat symptoms… I totally gave up on hope that I would feel well again.
Having hope in God that He will lead me to the right place to get help is really tough for me. I know how much I could be if I felt well and if only, I could… I can’t help wonder if that is the very reason why the Lord has hindered me. I could be something great for me, but with this affliction, I am only great because He gives me strength. And, that’s what I need you all to see through all of this. Christ gives us strength where we have none.
Please pray for me as I unravel this illness and fully trust in the Lord to guide me right where He wants and needs me. I am concerned about waking up unable to walk again. Small things cross my mind – how will we get a wheel chair in the house? How would I drive? Will my arms still make flowers for the world in five years? It is time that I faced this with the super smarties in Minnesota and I desire your prayers. Please pray for my heart to be conditioned to receive whatever alternative diagnosis, treatment, and therapy will help me through this. Please pray for me to gain wisdom on what types of affairs I should have in order and what types of things I don’t even need to think one second on. Please pray for my soul to be peaceful and knowing as we go forward.
You may remember that I recently posted the scripture about the woman who had suffered bleeding for twelve years and finally, by touching the garment of Christ, she was healed. It is the only scripture that Jesus uses the word “daughter.” Daughter had been my one word that I picked during a Bible study. The following Sunday, my pastor does a sermon on this. The next week, the youth group speaker discusses this piece of scripture.
I missed the Bible study on Monday night, but my sister brought me the DVD. Of course, the lesson taught is the same woman with a dire affliction, for twelve years, who is healed and called “Daughter” by the Almighty. In the same DVD, the author, Sheila Walsh, brings up her friend with MS. My husband just went on a trip with his acquaintance from work, only to discover his wife has MS. My Elise, my Meghan. And, finally, our new friend and pastor, Hunter… the very testimony that he shared that sealed his vote in my husband’s mind – his mother had a very daunting, difficult battle, also, with MS.
When I heard Hunter’s testimony, and knew how drawn Toby was to him, I knew he was here for Toby. Sorry, rest of you Weiserite Naz, these boys are supposed to be close. It makes me thankful and sad all at once. If what I experience is anything close to my Grandma Franka, it will not be pretty. My papa Roy visited her every Sunday after church in the care center. EVERY SUNDAY. No matter what, he was good and faithful. I suppose that’s how the Lord is, too, because Papa Roy loved the Lord. I know Toby will be just as faithful and loving to me and I’m so thankful.
When I think about this stuff, or really talk about it realistically, I feel like I am going to suffocate. Thank you all for letting me spill it, just like it is… I’m done talking about it for now, but I’ll keep you updated on if I am accepted into the clinic. Pray.
Toby boldly stepped forward at church in the Vendome one day and signed himself up to work with the local teen youth group. I sat on my tush. Somehow, I got involved last year and even moreso this year, I think. This year, we were kind of prompted by our niece, Kelsie, to lead a small group for our sophomores. We sort of dragged our feet on it. So much going on, needing a day to rest, adding another “thing” to our plate. This “thing” is sort of evolving into something I didn’t expect and I think it’s pretty important to stop and try to absorb what’s happening.
We decided, after weeks of going back and forth, to have the kids meet at our home Sunday evenings. But, I was very clear that we would have purpose, material, and it would not be a gab session. It would have purpose. This extra purpose I wanted us to have only added more stress to myself because I wanted to design the material. We’ve had sort of an idea.
Year’s ago, we heard this phrase, and it really stuck with both of us. It says something like (and I’m sure Toby will correct me if I’m wrong), “The leading cause of atheism today is Christians… who acknowledge Christ with their lips and deny Him by their lifestyle. That, is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” We were the unbelieving for this very reason. The material and purpose we have for our small group is to learn, grow, and most importantly SHOW Christ in your life. Talk is cheap. We’re focusing on one word for a few weeks. We try to understand the word by the worldly definition and then we are doing activities to read scripture and study bible stories demonstrating the word spiritually. Next, the kids are required to choose several action steps for the next week.
All of the reasons I thought that this commitment would suck, are totally worth it. I’m so serious. You know what’s crazy? Instead of taking away from our family time, it has ADDED! Our kids love these sophomores and our nine year old is drawn into the activities and studies. We are together, laughing, talking, hoping, dreaming, loving with a bunch of silly 16 year-olds and our other kids, too. =) Instead of making me more tired, I wake up excited to think about one of the kids and what their spiritual needs are. Physical, too. I am energized in loving them.
I think the most profound moment I have had since doing this small group was Sunday night, long after the teens were gone, the study was over, and our family was together, praying before we ate our Ramen noodles. We sort of forgot to feed the children dinner. Oops. We had discussed Miley Cyrus with our teens and right after they left, our six year-old, Tate, came and asked me what sin was. Crap. I tell her it’s when you do something naughty you know you shouldn’t do. So, she said, “Miley is going with the devil!” She had this terribly vindictive look in her eyes. I stopped my chores in the kitchen and asked her, “Well… you’ve been naughty, right?” She nodded. “Do you think YOU should go to hell?” Her head dropped. I told her that she was a good girl and loved Jesus, but sometimes she makes bad choices. I told her the same was true for Miley Cyrus. She is a good girl, but is making bad choices. We asked Quincy to lead the prayer before our meal and she prays, “Dear Lord, Thank you for our food and we ask you to please help Miley Cyrus with her life.” How blessed are we to have these amazing kids who will someday go out to help the world, not to condemn it.
This crazy little thing called “will” works in pretty amazing ways. Will you do something to serve the Lord in a bigger way today? ❤
A couple of weeks ago at my ladies Bible study, I chose the word, “daughter” as my one word response to focus on with God. The following Sunday my pastor unknowingly delivers a sermon in which, it is the only time in the Bible where Jesus uses the word, “Daughter.” He was speaking to a woman in health crisis for 12 years. Nobody could help her. She had exhausted all possibilities for healing and had nothing left… I was seriously weeping while he was talking. People were staring, it was that bad – a snotty, wet, mess.
If that’s not crazy enough, the other night we went to the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s “Fields of Faith” program. The youth group speaker at the event chose to speak on this same scripture. Crazy.
Probably the best craziness of the week was the unexpected friends reaching out in a loving way that you just know God sent you an angel.
One of my forever classmates sent me a message. She gave me honest experiences of hers and reached out to me in the most loving way. She suffered the loss of a child and said that afterward she had to choose: Serve the God who took her child away or serve the God who gave her the child. If you mentally put yourself in that mother’s shoes, you can see how your feelings would shift depending on your perspective AND you can feel that you really do have self-control over your feelings. To serve the God who takes away stirs up bitterness, anger, sadness, disappointment. To serve the God who is always giving and always present, stirs up patience, kindness, and gentleness. I don’t think you can serve both and that’s what I’ve been doing.
A couple months ago my friend posted that she accepted the challenge to memorize the book of James. I didn’t think I had enough to do, so I decided I’d try. She is way ahead of me, but I’m working on it. A portion of the first chapter stuck out at me in an ugly way. I haven’t wanted to address it, but I think that with the paradigm shift from my friend I can face it.
The scripture says to ask for wisdom and God will give it to you. BUT – you must believe and NOT doubt. “That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. Such a man is double-minded and unstable in all he does.” James 1:7-8. I am that girl, man.
I think I’m afraid to trust the God who gives because I don’t know how to deal with disappointment. I’m learning. I’m learning to let GRACE be enough, not what I do, but what He already did. I’m learning to let go of me and who I want me to be and embrace what He has for me, instead.
The truth will set you free. Seeing things in black and white and getting people’s honest feedback. My friend, Keith, my friend Laurel, my friend Diana, my friend Lindsay, my friend Bryon, my friend Sara… my friends have stepped forward, stopped what they were doing, and helped me.
I’m thankful this is on “paper.” I’m thankful I got it out. I know I have shown my ugly, selfish, pitiful, and difficult side. If I didn’t have the courage to share this gross side of myself, I don’t think I would be able to move forward, because now I know I have people who can help me. Thank you, friends, for seeing the mess I am and loving me anyways. One of the best illustrations I’ve heard to show you where my heart is, goes like this:
A little boy is at home waiting for his daddy to get home from work. He decides to surprise his daddy with milk and cookies and an hour into it – the cookie jar fell and broke, spilled milk, crumbs, disaster in the kitchen, broom in the sink, dishwasher going, chocolate fingertips and cheeks. Daddy gets home, sees this mess, and scoops down to pick up his little boy and then… hugs him so tight. He knows where the boy’s heart is. We see a mess and God sees His child who was trying to show love.
I am making a mess of things! I know He must certainly shake His head at me, but I feel peace knowing that there is a gentle smile and warm hand reaching out to me. I am His daughter and I know He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. I think that the next step in my spiritual maturity is to maintain an attitude of choosing to serve the God who gave me life – and not the God who has made this life painful. “Perseverance must finish it’s work so you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” James 1:4
I have developed a theory. The theory is this, we all start at point A. That is birth. Point B is death. There is a line connecting point A to point B and that line… that silly line! Everyday there are 8,000 things the enemy throws at us to keep us off the line, to leave us distracted and stupid and involved in everything except getting to point B. And, really, the only map, GPS, or directions we need to get through this life is as simple as one line connecting A and B.
Recently I was at a football game and my 19 month old son, Tripp, was off in the park playing with the big kids somewhere. One of the kids came back to the bleachers to check in with her mom. I asked her if she knew if Tripp was still alive. Another parent thought it was kind of funny that my concern was life or death and nothing more. And,, honestly, that’s the point I was at. With everything going on, if it wasn’t dying, it wasn’t going to get my attention!
Last night I watched my niece, Kelsie, race up at the grueling Rolling HIlls golf course in Weiser. The name, “Rolling Hills” doesn’t really hold meaning until you are running it cross country style, I’m sure. That girl, really, has no desire to run. She is not passionate about it. We all encourage her to keep with it because she is naturally great at it. She got 4th yesterday (1st from Weiser) with absolutely no real advance preparation or desire. It’s rather sickening. There are other kids, who WANT to have that skill, but will never have that natural ability. Running rolling hills may get easier, but it will never be without difficulty for them.
I am that girl! I am the one who would be at practice everyday and try hard and never be the one in front. ( I love you, Kate Rose.) For runners like us, it’s a battle of body and mind and soul.
I feel like I can’t quite get a grip on everything going on in the race of life right now. My status checks are about my mom’s longevity, my long-term health concerns, my un-relationship with my dad, and serving the Lord in all I do. It is sort of an interesting experience because I can feel myself changing. I’m on track, running with perseverance the race sat before us to point B. Everyday I am dodging distractions trying to get me off pace or off track. I’ve had to sift through and get rid of stuff that isn’t on fire and deal only with the super hot stuff.
Last night I found out that I didn’t win an award for a local community event. It is so hard to remind myself, and all of us who have been running the race with perseverance for awhile, that we do not need recognition to keep us on course to point B. (It feels like we could use a cheering squad, though! ) It’s not until you’re faced with being upset or disappointed that you discover who you are. Why things bother you or make you sad show where your heart is. Who you are in those times is just as, if not more important, than who you are good times.
This week I turned down the process of moving forward on a bank loan. They wanted me to write a detailed explanation about two things, in particular, on my credit score: 1. Why did I miss one car payment (late 30 days) 2. Why did I have medical collections in 2009? I felt such a slap in the face. They honestly could not gauge my character based on the 59 payments made on time? The medical was in regards to my daughter needing to be life flighted with a consequential week long hospital stay in Boise. It was right when we got the shop, things got away from us quick and before you know it, you have big debt. I wrote the response letter a month or so ago, to the bank underwriter, but I had this feeling to wait. I finally KNEW what I was supposed to do and I told the loan officer I couldn’t go through with it. I don’t trust the character of the bank behind her if all they see when they look at me is a flawed number.
I am more. Maybe it is in the revelation of “self-worth’ that I have been changing. I made a bold step to stand up for others in our community. It is hard to go against the grain of our local networks and honor hard work and perseverance.
I got sued this week, I think I own like $2, I’m not “businessperson of the year” worthy, my father hates me, I’m a bank liabilty, I’m in pain, my mom is struggling… When I get to point B… when all of this crap is behind me, only ONE thing will matter. I will be able to stand before God with integrity and a smile and arms wide open, because I’m gonna make it. Earlier this year, I didn’t know if I would. Now I am back on the proper course, broken, sad, and confused, but I’m there!
Point B. Nothing. Else. Matters.