Childhood Antics Part 1

I came across a blog the other day where a woman shared a bit about her childhood shenanigans. It had me reminiscing of a time way back when I was a young girl. So many of her posts had me going back in time to similar experiences. So I thought I too, would write a bit about my childhood antics. In only sharing a snippet of moments, I am going to start at my earliest recollection of life, Age 4 random stories………

Age 4……

My mom decided to began working and applied at a local Real Estate office with her friend. Her friend, our neighbor, had a daughter my age. We were both put in the same preschool, called Kids N’ Things. I cried every morning after she dropped me off. I am not sure why I cried but I had already created this habit and I wasn’t about to be a quitter. So the crying resumed each and every morning. Usually triggering my friend, Jennifer, as well. Then naptime came mid-afternoon. We slept on cots. Or I should say, the children slept on cots…. all except me. I would wait for the teachers to be distracted and then slip under my cot and crawl over to visit Jennifer or steal a blanket from another child. Sometimes I was caught, but not always. This was a challenge for me.  Preschool Graduation was celebrated with cap and gowns. Everyone was given a flag to hold while they sang. Each flag represented a different Country.  I was the only one who had the American flag. Several kids were upset about not having the American flag. You bet I held my flag up high and proud. I was told my “patriotism” was over the top and possibly even a bit antagonistic. LOL

Age 5……

While tracing our letters in Kindergarten, my friend Shay raised his hand and asked if he could borrow a pencil because he couldn’t find his. I was determined to get mine into his hands first and show how helpful I was to the teacher. So without a thought, I called out, “Here, catch!!” and tossed my pencil towards him to use. The newly sharpened pencil went straight into his eye. Though I had good intentions, my reckless action lead to a serious injury. The room became instant chaos!! Shay screamed out in pain as the teacher rushed over to him. Next thing I remember is the Principal, nurse, next door teacher and my parents all standing around. I just knew I had blinded the student and was going to jail!! Thankfully that was NOT the case and Shay recovered with full sight. Unfortunately, the pencil lead broke off and embedded into the white part of Shay’s eye and is still there to this day. Sorry, Shay!!

Age 6……

A boy named Toby chased me on the playground and kissed my cheek by the swings. This was my first “kiss”!! I thought this meant that we were boyfriend and girlfriend. A few days later, I saw him chase another girl and kiss her on the cheek too, so I tripped him while we were playing tag. I told the teacher it was an accident. She believed me. He cried the rest of recess and sat out on the blacktop with scraped up knees. I felt better. LOL  Sorry, Toby!!

Age 7……

In second grade I learned how to square dance at school with some classmates. Our Second-grade teacher lead this quest and it was to the song Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree. One time while arm linked with my classmates I slipped in my new dress shoes and went down. I did not let go of my friends. There was no time to unarm link!! This caused a domino effect and several other students went tumbling down onto the cafeteria floor as well. I blamed the fall on my partner and told everyone he tripped me. He tried to argue that it was not his fault, but I was more persistent and insisted that everyone believe me. Sorry, Billy!!

Age 8……

In third grade, we had “show and tell.”  This was a time where we could choose an object from home and bring it to school to share with our classmates. We stood at the front of the class, next to the teacher and we spoke to our peers about the item we chose to bring from home. This was a way for us to practice public speaking and organize our thoughts. I chose to bring an owl figurine that sat on my Mom and Dad’s dresser. This was a fluffy wool owl that was perched on a branch. I asked permission from my Mother if I could the owl and asked information about it such as, “Where did it come from and what was it called?” My teacher gave us a paper prompting these questions to ask and answer. So I asked my Mom these questions. My mom told me that they got the owl as a wedding or Christmas gift. She wasn’t sure exactly where it came from. When I asked my mother what the name of it was, she thought long and hard and then told me it was called a  Woolly-Booger. Off I went to school the following day. My backpack stuffed with the owl and the paper prompting discussion and my “show and tell” speech. The time came for me to share the item I chose to bring to share with my peers. I walked proudly to the front of the room where I revealed the fluffy-owl and my paper prompt. I handed my paper to the teacher, who sat nearby and began to speak. My speech went something like this……

“Hello, I am Pepper. Today I want to show you this owl. It sits on my Mom and Dad’s dresser. I like it cause it is fluffy and I always touch it. My mom says it was a gift given to her and my dad. She says it is called Woolly-Booger.”  ** LAUGHTER ERUPTED ** I am embarrassed. I am shocked.  I look next to me towards my teacher for support, only to find that she is laughing as well!! She lifted the paper, with the prompting questions,  to her face to cover her laughter but there was no fooling us. Her body convulsing and shaking in hysterics revealed it all. My throat tightened. I panicked and fought back tears. But before I am consumed with tears, anger sets in. I become angry and stare straight into the face of all the students in the front row. I give them the  “to heck with you” look. Basically warning them that if they keep laughing I am going to punch them all in the face……..

My teacher quickly gained composure and regained control of all the students. Just as fast as all the chaos had come on, it was over and I was then walking through the class allowing the students to touch the woolly-booger. Each student in awe at how furry and puffy it felt.

When I got home, later that day, I went straight to my Mother and told her how everyone had laughed at me when I told them the kind of owl figurine it was that she allowed me to bring. She looked at me puzzled and said, ” What are you talking about? What did you tell them?” I told her that I told the class that the owl was known as a “woolly-booger.” My Mother broke out in laughter and laughed until she was red in the face!!! She then explained to me that she replied with that answer because she didn’t know what the owl was called and that she was only joking. She thought I knew that it was a joke. NOPE, I didn’t have a clue. Next thing I know she is calling all her friends to tell them the “hilarious” story of me and the woolly-booger.

My Mother laughed about this story even up into old age. There was never a time that the story was brought up, that she didn’t break out in laughter. Of coarse, I laughed about it too. But you better believe, I got her back. LOL

To be continued……………..

( P.S. I googled and found a picture of the antique owl online!! It brought back so many memories. Oh, how I miss you, mom. This had me laughing through my tears. Everyone meet the woolly-booger….. )

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Dog Blog

 

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I started this blog because it’s an avenue for me to write my thoughts and emotions down.  Let the record show that because I will be sharing my thoughts and emotions, expect random and or odd posts where I share absolutely too much or nothing really much at all. 😉

So what’s on my mind right now? Hudson.

Hudson is my 1-year-old Lab mix. I adopted him when he was 11 weeks old. When I brought Hudson home, he was a round black ball of fat that could barely walk. This is no joke!! Okay, maybe he could walk, but run? No way!! The little guy could barely jump, bounce or run because he was so fat. LOL His previous owners said he was the biggest pup in the liter and was nicknamed Buddha because of his swollen milk belly. He was almost twice the size of his sisters when I went to pick him up. I fell in love with him immediately.

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We brought him home to meet the other dogs and thankfully they all got along. In fact, the very first night they all met, they played together on the living room floor and when night called us to sleep, I looked over to see Hudson snuggling with our other dogs. The older dogs immediately accepted him and he became part of our tribe.

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So why a blog about a dog? Because I am seriously head over heels for Hudson. Yes, he’s a dog, and yes he chews everything he sees. In fact, I have quite a big story to share about his chewing!! But that can wait for another blog post. It’s a long story and worthy of its own blog space.

First, let me share this sweet boy with y’all cause I just can’t get enough of him. I have never been so attached to a dog. This extremely affectionate boy has an old soul. He is so calm for a puppy.  He whimpers for attention when he needs some love or is excited about a treat and or a walk. He loves snuggles and even though he has grown so much, he still believes he is a lapdog and I don’t have the heart to tell him otherwise. LOL

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As a puppy, he was afraid of just about everything and I wondered if I had selected the  “odd one in the bunch”.  He was afraid to walk through the threshold when entering or exiting any building. He was afraid of other dogs barking, even from several houses away. He was afraid when people walked by our house while he was with me in the yard. He was afraid to leave the yard ( especially if we were exiting off the curb lol ). He was afraid of baths. He was afraid of walking on a leash. He was afraid of wrapping paper. He was afraid of the automatic doors at PetSmart. He was afraid of the timer on my oven. He was afraid of rain. He was afraid of going into both the bathroom(s) as well as the hallway. He was afraid to enter or exit the car.

I am sure I am missing other fears of his, as there was many, but in short, he was basically a chicken disguised as a dog. I remember at one point thinking *great, I picked a dud!* ( I know that’s mean but for lack of better words that’s what came to mind )

Well, I decided to work with him daily. I brought him out every Saturday morning with me to various spots around town. We walked different neighborhoods. We walked around the parks. We visited the stores. We “enjoyed” new sights, smells, and sounds.  And Hudson became more and more confident. In fact, he began leading me into the stores, through the thresholds, and straight up to barking dogs to play. 😊

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He no longer fell to his tummy, tried to wiggle out of his collar/leash, yelped or shivered in fear. This took quite some time but he outgrew it all. Well, all except the bathrooms and hallway fear. LOL  Hudson still refuses to go into the hallway or bathroom(s) to this day. He won’t even go in them if we throw his favorite toys in there!! LoL Instead he waits patiently for Zariah ( our Husky ) to retrieve his toy for him and then he takes it away from her when she reenters the living room. LOL Why is he so afraid of the Bathroom and hallway? We have no idea!! At least he got over his other MANY fears!!

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So as he grew in size, he grew in confidence. He has never been a typical rambunctious pup. He has always had a calm disposition about him. But he can chew and chase toys like it’s nobodies business. Just about the time I find a toy brand that I think is tuff enough to withstand Hudson’s chewing, he proves me wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I have entered the living room and it looked as though a pillow had self-combusted sending white cotton stuffing everywhere. This has happened countless times!! He has even opened a few Christmas presents for us all to see weeks before Christmas day!! LOL

 

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Hudson now has two toy boxes in the living room for his chew toys and he is sure to bring all his toys out each and every night. It’s annoying but cute.  Often while the family and I are watching a TV we will see Hudson walk over to his toy box and bring a toy out and carry it across the living room floor to a comfy spot to lay for some chew time. We always giggle and do a countdown. “ There goes Hudson again. There is toy item number seven.” And sometimes he brings the toy to us to throw for him to retrieve.

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Hudson stole my heart and the bond between the two of us is something that I just can’t explain. He was meant to be my dog and I was meant to be his Owner ( Momma ). I was so broken hearted recently when we almost lost this sweet boy. He was on the brink of death. But answered prayer, he survived a horrific ordeal and is still here with us to build many more memories.  (  As I stated above, I will write more about that later )

Now that we recently celebrated his first birthday, we are going to work on some training. He has matured a lot the past year and I believe he is ready for some extensive training. Its time for less lounging and walks and more stay, heel and lay on command. Hudson is so obedient, I believe training him will be a breeze and I look forward to sharing our progress.

I am even contemplating taking him to the American Kennel Club for professional training to be registered as a therapy dog. I believe this boy would be such a gift to the children that I work with. When my schedule slows down a bit, I will look into how to do that and how much it costs. Maybe this summer? So there will be more on that later as well. For now, I will just enjoy my boy and making memories with him.

To be continued……

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Call Back On My Test Results

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So I got the phone call from the infectious disease doctor with the results of my ELISA test. Or rather I got a call from the doctor’s office. As suspected the doctor has dismissed me and sent me back to my neurologist. The blood test that the infectious disease doctor ordered for me,  known as the ELISA test said I was negative for having Lyme disease. The thing is, I was only .03 points shy from needing to be retested, but fell in the negative range. My results on the ELISA test fell .03 points shy from being in the range known as the equivocal range.

e•quiv•o•cal

(ɪˈkwɪv ə kəl) 

adj.

1. Allowing the possibility of more than one meaning or interpretation, esp. with intent to mislead; ambiguous: anequivocal answer.
2. Questionable.
3. Uncertain significance; not determined.

 

The ELISA test is most often used as a screening test for Lyme disease. But the ELISA test is less sensitive than the test known as the Western Blot so it often misses people who have Lyme disease. The Western Blot test is often used as a secondary test to confirm a Lyme diagnosis as it is more sensitive a test than the ELISA test. However CDC has guidelines as to how these two tests should be run. In my case, the Western Blot blood test was done on me first. I had the Western Blot test done a few months prior to the ELISA test and tested positive. However, CDC does not recommend testing by Western blot without first using the ELISA. The CDC says the ELISA test should be done first and “if” positive, only then move on to the Western Blot for confirmation.

The problem with Lyme testing is that the tests are NOT always accurate. There are chances for both false Positives and false negatives. However a false positive is rare.  Guidelines say using the Western blot test on its own can make a false positive result more likely. That may lead to being treated for Lyme disease when someone does not have it, instead of being treated for the true cause of their illness. Nonetheless, Some doctors ( mainly Lyme literate doctors ) prefer to bypass the ELISA test and go straight to the more accurate Western Blot test.

So where am I at? Same as before. We have learned that I have symptoms that mimic MS-Lyme disease and several other autoimmune diseases, I have tested positive for Lyme disease on the Western Blot test, and I do have some brain lesions. (  However, the lesions were not a total surprise. I will write a blog explaining that soon. ) We have ruled out some other autoimmune diseases but still don’t quite have answers. That is not uncommon for these type of diseases as it is clinically diagnosed and not solely dependant on test results. Often diagnosis’ take months or even year(s) to correctly diagnose.

Some people ( even some doctors ) believe Lyme disease may even trigger MS. My thoughts? I’m confused. As usual, I’m confused……

I have called a local doctor who does specialize in Lyme disease treatment. The problem with seeing him? It would be completely out of pocket and NOT covered by insurance. I am debating on if I keep the appointment or wait until after the holidays.

So I wait. I pray and I wait.

 

ELISA Test vs Western Blot Test

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What are my Symptoms? Here goes……

Headaches, visual disturbance, ( Mainly Aura Migraines but have had episodes of blurry vision as well )  sore neck/shoulders that can be very painful at times, slipped disc/spinal surgery ( this came on suddenly from out of nowhere!! ) numb fingers, tingling in finger and base of thumb, carpal tunnel symptoms, GI issues similar to IBS, tummy pains sometimes, tingling in feet, swelling in joints and pain in joints that come and go, brain fog/forgetting words and or unable to think straight ( I forgot how to get to my daughter’s old high school while driving the other day and drove around town confused trying to find the school ), rash that comes and goes under my arm, insomnia, shortness of breath, fatigue ( comes on fast where I have to fight to stay awake while driving ), hip pain/ static nerve pain that comes and goes, muscle spasms and muscle twitching throughout my whole body, and I am probably forgetting some things.

As I am writing this blog post, I received an alert on my phone. I looked at my phone to see that the health alert app on my phone was showing me a red alert flag. This app shows a red flag whenever the doctors’ input information on my health records. I knew this had to be the results of the test I had just taken that the infectious disease doctor ordered. I quickly picked up my phone and retrieved my test results. The ELISA test that the doctor ordered came back negative……. by .03 points.

The ELISA test is a basic test, considered to be the screening test for Lyme disease and is often inaccurate. Unfortunately, it is estimated that the ELISA test misses about 40% of people with Lyme disease. so many people go undiagnosed as it is often the first test given. Because of its lack of sensitivity and the fact that it is used as a screening test, many people with Lyme disease are told they do not have Lyme disease and are not given the Western Blot test and or a secondary ELISA test. The Western Blot test is often used to confirm a diagnosis AFTER the screen test known as the ELISA is given. Both the ELISA and Western blot can only detect whether a person has been exposed to the Lyme bacteria. The tests cannot determine if there is an active infection which could be causing the person’s symptoms.

The Western Blot test is considered to be the more accurate and specific test because it is much more sensitive. The Western Blot test is a test that picks up “bands” which become reactive based on the presence of antibodies to Lyme in your system. I was tested with the Lyme Western Blot test by my Neurologist a few months ago. ( Some doctors prefer to go straight to the more accurate Western Blot for testing Lyme disease. ) I tested positive.

Today I am waiting for my doctor to call. I have seen my ELISA test results via the health app. on my phone, but I have yet to hear from the infectious disease doctor about my test results. Will she acknowledge my Western Blot test results? Or dismiss it as a “false positive” again? ( It is rare to have a false positive. It is quite common however to have a false negative as antibodies may not have developed enough to be detected. ) Will, she acknowledge that I am .03 points from being “equivocal” on the ELISA test and repeat testing? Will she take into account all my symptoms and the fact that I am testing positive on one test and borderline on the other and go ahead and treat me?

Lyme disease does not have a gold-standard test to indefinitely diagnose. which means that a Lyme disease evaluation relies a lot on clinical judgment. I hate to be a negative Nancy but I am going to share my assumption here based on my first initial meeting with the doctor. I think she will call, tell me that I do not have Lyme disease and that she believes my Western Blot test is a false positive. Then she will send me on my way, to find help somewhere else.

To be continued……….

( All the test info above is based on my own personal research. I do not claim to be an expert in this field. )

 

 

Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Something Else?

What is Lyme disease? If you are anything like I was. You know little about the disease other than it is usually spread by the bite of a tick.

 

 

What is Multiple Sclerosis? The name means Several scars. When most people think of multiple Sclerosis they think of people who are wheelchair bound. Possibly, you are visiting this page in hopes of sorting out some of the confusion surrounding both diseases which mimic each other. I am NOT an expert by no means but in having symptoms and being tested over the past few months I have spent countless hours researching and learning as much as I can. Here is what I know to date…..

Let’s start with Lyme disease. Lyme disease is more commonly transmitted by the bite of a tick, but some say it can be transmitted by other insects and animals such as mosquitos, spiders, mice etc. Lyme disease is caused by a microbe known as Borrelia burgdorferi. It is not uncommon for people to have Lyme disease for weeks, months and even years and not even know it. While some people have symptoms immediately following infection, some only feel the effects of the disease after the microbes have had time to embed into organs, muscles, tissue etc. The microbes can be quite stealthy and lay dormant for many years.  Only about 50%  of people infected with Lyme disease have the infamous circular rash at the site of the tick bite. ( I did not get the Lyme rash. Also referred to as the “bullseye’ rash because of its circular appearance with a red center but I will talk more about that later. ) There is a lot more to talk about when it comes to Lyme disease but I just want to highlight some key parts and not be overwhelming.

Now let’s talk about Multiple Sclerosis, otherwise known as MS. MS is a disease where your immune system attacks the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is a protective tissue coating that protects nerve fibers. Without that fatty coating, nerves are vulnerable to damage. Scar tissue may form affecting how well the nerve functions, thus disrupting the information your brain is sending to other parts of your body. So basically MS is when your own body turns against itself and begins to attack healthy tissue protecting delicate nerves. These scars can be seen on an MRI and are referred to as brain lesions.

Both diseases are unpredictable and no two cases are exactly alike. Both diseases are clinically diagnosed with a series of tests and a medical history review. MS is a progressive lifelong illness. Lyme disease may go away on its own but can spread throughout the body as well. There is no current cure for MS. A course of antibiotics can cure Lyme disease.

Lyme disease and MS have several symptoms in common, including the following to list a few;

  • fatigue
  • numbness or tingling
  • muscle spasms and or twitches
  • weakness
  • migraines/Headaches
  • vision problems
  • Loss of concentration/short-term memory loss
  • insomnia

Here is a weird controversial fact about the diseases. MANY, if not MOST, MS patients that have donated their bodies to research, do in fact have Lyme disease. The spirochete bacteria known as  Borrelia burgdorferi, have been found in the brains of MOST MS patients. Maybe the cause of MS? Some believe that to be the case, others do not. Much more research is needed for both diseases.

So how does this pertain to me? I am being tested for both diseases. My test came back positive on the Western Blot test for Lyme disease. The Western Blot test is used to confirm diagnosis AFTER the Elissa test is used. However, the infectious disease doctor that I saw does not feel I have Lyme disease and believes I may have had a false positive test. Therefore she is retesting. However, she is retesting with the Elissa test. That test is NOT as sensitive and is known to miss about 40% of people with known Lyme disease. This seems backward to me but okaaay….

Good news is the Neurologist does not believe I have MS at this point but it is not off the table. As of now we are at a standstill and will do another MRI in a few months to see if my brain lesions have changed any. How I feel about this? I’m annoyed. I’m ready to move forward with the correct treatment and feel better. But there is only so much that can be done. Meanwhile, I work on being patient.

Also, I believe it may be time to find a Lyme literate doctor? I don’t know. We will see. One day at a time……

 

 

 

My Testimony

So I thought I would share my own personal story with everyone. Sometimes reading or hearing someone else’s personal story, we can relate, be moved, be touched, or be encouraged. Please know that God is still working on me. I am still a work in progress, and I am very thankful for that. I finally have reached a peace about who I was and who I am today. God has brought me through and to some amazing walks in life. I love my life,  and what the Lord has done in my life. Not sure why I have finally arrived at this decision, other than the Holy Spirit.  So with that being said here goes…….

I was not raised in church. However, my mother did talk about her faith and her love for Christ yet going to church or being involved in service or God’s ministry was never a priority.  Sundays were usually reserved for garage sale hunting or relaxing with the family. I was raised by both parents and have 6 older brothers. Many of my brothers were much older than I and were grown and moved away while I was being raised. However, on several weekends out of the year and on holidays our house was filled with older brothers home visiting with their families. My parents, no actually just my mother,  was very strict. I had my share of spankings growing up. All well deserved though. My dad was easy going ( at least with me ). I was a daddy’s girl and my dad and I were very close. I was also a tomboy and could hang out or talk with my dad about anything. I had several chores daily while growing up, some very ornery brothers, raised in a middle-class home, many friends in the neighborhood, good health and lot’s of great childhood experiences.  We were your average American family.

When I turned 11, hormones set in heavy. ( Yes I was an early bird ) I went from being a tomboy and beating up boys, to wanting to date them.  But I was just thought of as the little sister with scabs on her knees that fought with all the boys in the neighborhood.  I was determined to change that view and get the boys to notice me as something other than the little sister. I began wearing crop tops ( 80s fashion ), tight jeans, jewelry, make-up etc. and the boys began to notice me differently. I was getting a lot of attention from them. All the new attention was very exciting to me. At a very young age I started messing around with some of the older boys in the neighborhood and even experimenting in some drinking and drug use. ( Marijuana )  “I never went too far”, or so I told myself, but I was being inappropriate and doing things I knew, all too well, were wrong. So there I was a young pre-teen and instead of learning about make-up and fashion, I was living fast and running hard. I began sneaking out at night, partying and messing around with older boys. I was “growing up” way too fast!! I have had people ask me why I started messing around at such a young age and I answer like this. No, I was never abused as a child, I was never mistreated, and I was not cohersed. Yes, I understood the consequences. To put it bluntly, I was excited, curious and had a bunch of new hormones running through me that I impulsively acted out on. Adult emotions raging in an impulsive child’s body. It was during this time in my life that my Mother began going to church and brought me, soon followed by my brother and father. We began going on a regular basis and at the age of 14, during an invitation, as the song Just As I Am played, I went forward for salvation. The gospel ( the good news of Christ and what He has done for us ) was shared with me.  I was so moved by Christ’s love for me, as undeserving as I was, that I prayed and asked for forgiveness. I was so overcome with emotions. I felt such relief, humility, love, and gratitude that I wanted to change my life and live for Jesus. However, whenever I was with the girls in church, I felt so out of place. I thought of my past and how awful I had behaved. I didn’t feel I could “measure” up to them. Instead of looking at Christ and trusting in Him, I compared myself to others and allowed jealousy and doubt to steal my joy and my new found faith. I had one of the misconceptions that “Christians are perfect”,  and I was far from that. I didn’t feel that I fit in the “church crowd.” Before long old habits popped up and soon thereafter I was pregnant.  I was only 15 years old when I found out I was pregnant and I was scared. I will never forget how my parents learned about my pregnancy. I was sitting on my bed reading the bible one night and I was crying. I was trying to make sense of everything in my life and what I had turned it into. My new faith ( or lack thereof ), my pregnancy, my weak commitment in my Christian walk, my continued bad habits etc. and before I knew it I was on my knees crying out to God. This was a “hit the bottom of the barrel”,  cry out to the Lord. As I cried out and prayed, I felt as though He said, “You are already my child. I love you, JUST AS YOU ARE. I am just waiting for you to realize this.”  It was a very humbling moment I will never forget.  Even though I had turned away from my God, I felt His reassurance and commitment to me. My father opened my door at this time, popped his head in to say goodnight and with a look of shock he said, ” Are you reading the bible?” I replied,” Yes.”  He smiled and shut the door. I quickly jumped out of bed and with tears streaming down my face, I ran to open my door. My father was standing there at my door, As though he was waiting!!! I blurted  out,  “I’m pregnant!”  and to my shock, he replied with,” I know.” I asked him how he knew and he said he could just tell something was wrong.  He said he was just waiting for me to tell him. He offered to tell my mother for me which was a big relief. My poor mother broke out in hives for three days and could not talk to me. Her heart was broken and you could see it both emotionally and physically. During this time my life changed dramatically……..

I quit drinking, smoking, and partying immediately. Craig ( then baby daddy, now husband ) and I  began going to church regularly and began making positive changes in our lives as we grew in our faith and in preparation for the baby. Eventually, Craig and I began to love each other. We began using our date night money to buy items for the baby. Dinner and movie nights became Lamaze and parenting classes. We began a stockpile of diapers, bottles, baby clothes and before long we had a little family. Being a parent was/is such a blessing! I love/ed every minute of it! So we decided to move out and raise a little family.  We went to church on Sundays and filled a pew with our growing family, but we never really yielded our life to Christ.  That picture is similar to my high school years. I was at school filling a desk but never really paying attention. Instead, I was always daydreaming about my own agenda. I felt very convicted about my commitment and walk with God. I wanted to change but sometimes I would find myself doing the same things over and over. Almost like a broken record. Almost as though I would go half way and then start back at the beginning. Craig and I began to struggle in our relationship. Although parenting was such a great experience, marriage was not the same “high”. So often we resorted to old habits and familiar “comforts”. We knew however that we were living against God’s will by living together unwed, so eventually, we decided that we needed to marry and quit living in sin. Soon after our marriage, at the age of 22, while sitting in my living room, I was overcome with conviction. I felt the Holy Spirits “nudge”, if you will, and hit my knees in prayer. Ever since that very day I have had a growing walk and prayer life with Jesus!! 😀  No I am not perfect, and I have made many mistakes along the way. But I am finally a work in progress! I learned that if I draw near to God, He will draw near to me James 4:8. He did just that. He began revealing Himself to me. Not only did I gain assurance of eternal life and God’s love for me,  but my life had more purpose. My marriage began improving, and with answered prayer, my children accepted Christ as their Saviour, and soon thereafter my husband did!  🙂  My life was amazing. I was blessed with healthy children, a Godly husband, and a growing love and relationship with the Lord. Life was filled with small groups, prayer, family time, church, friends, church events, bible study etc. I began replacing old habits with new healthier Christian activities and began serving at my church and in other local outreach ministries.

We were even blessed with more children and although not perfect, life was good! I was super excited about where our lives were heading. I watched my children’s love for Jesus grow and it warmed my heart like nothing else. However, in believing in a perfect and Holy God, I believe there is a scheming evil devil, Satan and he reared his ugly head. Self-doubt and apathy attacked and my husband began struggling in his Christian walk.  ( Exactly the same thing I had done early in my Christian walk. )  Relationships were becoming strained. Although our relationship was not an unhealthy relationship like in our early years, we no longer had a fulfilling Godly marriage. Time began to pass and resentment set in my heart and I began to struggle myself. Then on  Feb.14, 2006 the unthinkable happened. While visiting my doctor for a post-op appointment, I was drugged and raped.

The emotional impact that had on my/our lives and marriage was almost unbearable and I felt like giving up! I  literally remember thinking, ” Okay Satan, you win. I don’t care anymore.”  I began drinking heavily and I pulled away emotionally. I knew all along that what I was doing was not a good choice. But I felt sorry for myself and I didn’t care. Well, at least I didn’t want to care. Friends and family saw me deteriorate. I became a shell of who I once was. Fortunately there comes a time in everyone’s life where truth is accessible. We can accept it or reject it. and truth be told, LIFE IS NOT FAIR.  But God invites us into His presence and transforms us by the renewing of our mind Romans 12:2. God IS truth and I needed renewing! I completely believe that God placed the right people around me during this very vulnerable time in my life. Every time I was determined to get off course someone put my eyes back on Him. As delicate as the subject rape is and the horrible aftermath it causes, I/we were so blessed to have people around us willing to fight the battle beside us. The bible says, Carry each other’s burdens and in this way, you fulfill the laws of Christ Galatians 6:2. Sometimes reaching out and touching lives is a sacrifice on our part and I am so very grateful to everyone who helped me and my family during that difficult time.  I learned through that experience just how important it is to wear the armor of God and to be ready for difficult times to come into our lives. I realize now that pre-assault I had become  “comfortable” in my growth and walk with Christ.  I also realize that I was too busy “worrying” about my husband to see my own weaknesses. When push came to shove and I experienced the unthinkable, horrific assault, I buckled. I  became very mad at the world. At one point my anger was a lifesaver that helped me to speak out and press charges against my perpetrator but it eventually lead to spats of unhealthy rage and self-pity. It was no longer a righteous anger. It had become a sin. Bitterness was consuming me and that became a big eye opener for me!  I did not like what I was becoming and I did not want to leave that legacy behind for my children. It was time for me to pick myself up,  brush myself off and enjoy my life and my beautiful family that I am so fortunate to have.  With the help of God I was able to completely let go of my anger. I was able to forgive and to move forward. I was able to laugh again, and love again….. and even trust again. 🙂  I feel like I have grown a lot over the past couple of years and as weird as this sounds, I am very grateful for every experience that has brought me to this point in my life. I feel so blessed. Through the storms in my life, Although sometimes I have stumbled hard, I see how God has grown me. I am so moved by how  He never gives up on me and continues working in and through me. God has opened new doors in my life recently. Some I have been hesitant about…… Again feeling unworthy. But a verse keeps coming to mind.  2 Corinthians 12:9  My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. ( My favorite bible verse!! ) Now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.  WOW! God is saying He uses the weak to accomplish His will so that they cannot boast or receive credit. But that through them His glory will show. Because of my past, because of my assault, because of my marriage issues……I often feel useless. But God says, I’m perfect for the job. 🙂  Unfortunately many churches ( no fingers pointed. I am speaking generally here )  seem to be more interested in the next great method of church growth. They are always working to create the next perfect event instead of growing their people to go out and be the church. In difficult times, they often hide their weaknesses, put on a smile, shake hands, and proclaim God’s blessings. God is asking for believers to share real/genuine relationships, not a superficial religion. He wants us to be Spirit lead. He wants us to be His disciples, and then make others into disciples as well.  He wants us to love, just as He did. He is not asking for “perfect, strong”  Christians to do this, for His power is made perfect in our weakness. He simply wants obedience and willingness. Lord here am I ……..

I am excited about what the Lord has laid on my heart. I am excited that despite the odds ( teen pregnancy ) My marriage has lasted 20+ years and is still going. I am excited that I have five healthy kids who love Jesus. I am excited that a once tragedy in my life is now an outreach and an avenue for advocacy. I am excited that God chose me as His. I am a very blessed girl. I am no longer ashamed to share my testimony and  I am officially ready and willing to follow/serve Christ without the insecurities of my weaknesses. Something I have come to realize as well is that it is not where I am in my walk and growth that is beautiful. But rather, where He has brought me. I am no longer ashamed of my past or present for that matter. I love that the Lord has delivered me from permiscuality, drugs and alcohol, unwed teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, domestic abuse and more.

Statistics say that most teen pregnancies, domestic issues, and rape cause divorce. Well, we have passed those statistics and we are still together and loving life. It hasn’t always been easy, but worth the fight. Now, we face a new battle. I have recently been diagnosed as having Lyme disease and am being tested for Multiple Sclerosis. Recently we also discovered that our youngest child has congenital heart disease. Although I have had my weak moments, I am trying to stay focused on the rainbow and not the storm. God is bigger than all my fears and He will walk me safely through his storm. So as a family we will Walk through this together and as believers, we will call on God for comfort, strength, and wisdom.

I hope my testimony helps someone, encourages someone, or touches someone.

~I choose to live my faith outloud~

Spinal Surgery

I woke up feeling a pulsating pain radiating down my right arm. This pain was bad and I didn’t understand how or why it came on so suddenly. I sat up in bed and every inch of muscle from my right shoulder, down through my arm to fingertips was throbbing with a dull ache. I turned to wake my husband and noticed my neck was stiff and it was painful to turn my head either direction. I laid back down, in bed, trying to find relief from the aching pain and eventually drifted back off to sleep only to wake a short time later. The pain worsening. I got up out of bed and started my morning. A few years prior I was in a car accident and the painful, stiff neck and shoulders reminded me of when I had whiplash. I figured I might have slept wrong and decided to take some Advil and start my morning coffee. It was a warm Saturday morning. We spent that afternoon in the pool swimming and enjoying the hot summer sun. I welcomed the drinks by the poolside and the relaxing day floating in the water, listening to music and soaking up the rays. But the pain was becoming almost unbearable. I asked my husband to rub my shoulders and work what I thought was a knot out of my muscles. He touched my shoulders and the pain was almost unbearable. My muscles were tight and the pressure applied to them caused me to flinch in pain and as the day progressed, my symptoms intensified, so I did what I thought would help….. I drank a  HUGE glass of wine to mask some pain and asked my husband to rub out the tight muscles in my neck and shoulders so I could find a bit of relief. Wine+massage… My husband did it without hesitation! lol

As the sun was setting, we wrapped up the last  Saturday of summer break.  I received a poolside massage and went to bed that evening feeling a bit better. The pain was not much better, but I welcomed any kind of relief I could get as the pain was becoming intense. That night I will never forget!! I woke in the worst pain I have ever felt. ( other than labor pain ) and The muscles in my upper arms began spasming.  I cried out in pain waking my husband. As I sat upright explaining to my husband that something was horribly wrong, I looked down and in the glow of the early morning light, I could see that the muscles in my arm seemed to be dancing. Every few seconds a muscle contracted, triggering another set of muscle to follow suit. The pain in my arm was horrific. I moved my arm around trying to find some sort of relief. When I lifted my arm above my head the pain was lessened. Not significantly but noticeably.  I got up showered and asked my husband to bring me to the hospital. All the while I was crying and having to stop to catch my breath because the pain was so intolerable.

A short time later we were at a walk-in clinic. He decided to take me to a walk in clinic to avoid the huge copay that our insurance requires for ER visits. It wasn’t my first choice to go to the walk-in clinic, but I was ready to be seen, find out what was wrong and get some relief. The clinic was of little help. The doctor gave me a shot and sent me on my way. I was still in a lot of pain. School/work started back up the following day. I went home and prepped for the new school/work year by prepping lunch and packing up school items for the new year. Staff development was to begin the following day. I was racked with pain and it was time to wrap up summer, go back to work and see all my coworkers. What a way to start off the new school/work year!!

I woke the next day miserable. The pain was still intense and I barely slept because of pain, Muscle spasms plagued my upper shoulder and entire arm causing intense contractions. I had to stretch my arm different directions about every 15 minutes to find a small amount of relief and keep it mobile. The muscles contracting down my arm were not only painful but causing stiffness and lack of mobility.  This caused sharp shooting pains on top of the already throbbing pain I was experiencing. Non the less I returned to work, in pain, not in good spirits and with a lot of tears.

The next few weeks consisted of a lot of doctor visits, ER visits, pain relievers, xrays, Cortizone shots, steroid shots and finally an MRI , which showed I had two large herniated discs in my neck that were pinching nerves that ran down my arm. By this time I was not only experiencing pain but now several of my fingers on my right hand had become numb.  I was quickly referred to a neurologist who thankfully got me in right away for surgery. I normally wouldn’t jump straight into surgery but the pain was all-consuming. Even though I was on several different pain medications, the powerful pain was impossible to mask.

So off to surgery I went. I was scheduled for a two-layer anterior cervical discectomy with fusion. Otherwise known as ACDF surgery. The surgery brought INSTANT relief!! I was so happy!! My symptoms were virtually gone…………………….. Or so I thought. Today I have other issues. Although they are minor issues, they have compiled to several issues. All neurological issues.

To be continued……