A Reflection: My MS Journey

I’ve always kind of said that my physical and spiritual selves were related. In the past, I tried to do everything perfectly. I strived to be the best (intellectually, of course—I’ve never been very good at sports or other physical feats). And then, in 8th grade (2004), I was diagnosed with MS. I’m not labeling it good or bad. God takes the bad and uses it for good, but I would never wish chronic illness on anyone. I found that I got tired more easily, I couldn’t do everything myself (no matter how much I tried). God used the MS to teach me a few things. I’ve written on this subject before, for example, in this post (which is an older reflection like this), but it’s always refreshing to my spirit to reflect again and praise God for it all! Here are some things I’ve learned in my 16 years with this progressive disease: 

Trust God. I feel like we say we trust God a lot, but how much is “a lot?” Enough? I learned to trust God so much more after MS. It was easier, years ago, to ask God for energy for the day when I didn’t have any. My condition is a lot worse, but if I am by myself and trying not to fall on the floor, when I ask God for help, he sends it. He either gives me the strength I need to do a task myself, or he sends somebody else to help me. Which leads me to my next point:  

Remember that we need each other. I would fall, and when somebody came up to help me, my stubborn and independent nature said, “Nope, I’m okay! I got this!” It took years, but I eventually realized that by accepting help, I was giving somebody else the opportunity to bless me. They could help me up, or do something simple for me, like helping put my groceries in the car. They just blessed me by helping me, and I think when you do things for others, your bucket is filled a bit more, too.  The same is true in life. We aren’t supposed to be good at everything. God gave each one of us a different gift than the other, so that together, we could be something beautiful. When DrH was in med school, I became president of the club for the spouses. When you’re president of something, it is way too easy to do everything yourself. But nobody is supposed to. Presidents are given the authority to delegate. It felt good when I would recognize somebody’s strength, and ask them to do a job in that area. I have been part of many leadership teams, and I have noticed this, again and again. When we each do the thing we shine at, we are able to be a well-functioning team!  

Take breaks. I would get tired out so fast, but I was on a roll! Just as my body calls for a rest every midday, we need to break up what we’re working on. Again, When DrH was in med school, he learned the 50-5 technique. Study for fifty minutes, take a break. That could be a break of two minutes or ten. Then every so many short breaks, take a long one. He still uses this while he is working on something at home (he probably uses it at work, too, but I never see him). I have learned to break up my work sessions like this, as well. It helps!  

Stay positive. I have seen people devastated by their diagnosis, allowing it to stop them from living. These people go downhill quickly. On the other hand, I have seen people who are positive, even though their situation may not be. I’ve waxed and waned, but my demeanor has always, naturally, been a positive one. I grew up with the northern Midwestern view of “It could be worse.” Which is true, things could always be worse. And instead of focusing on what could be worse, let’s look for the positives! I also just happen to be an optimist. When a close friend or family member is having a grumpy day, I will figuratively take the corners of their mouth and pull as hard as I can to turn them up. I will try everything to cheer them up. Even my daughter, when I was having a bad day, asked if jokes would help. She’s four, and her jokes aren’t super funny or make a lot of sense, but I smiled and “laughed” anyway. I sure love her!  

Learn Life’s Lessons. I wrote this blog when I was a senior in college. When I wrote my senior sermon, I reflected on what the previous 8 or 9 years of MS had looked like. Re-reading this, I was reminded, once again, how much God can teach us through our circumstances if we let him. 

I’ve been looking back on some other posts that are in this blog, and there’s a lot of good stuff here. I’ve been reading about my MS Journey from 2012, to 2016, and now. (Yes, I wrote everything here, but I’ve liked re-reading them, too!) I started this blog when I started college in 2009, and I’m not going anywhere. Stick with me as I continue living and sharing more about my journeys!

Be blessed, my friends!

Anna

Getting my Life Back

So, I’ve been sitting at home, back in Kentucky, since April. I have checked and double checked our baby registry. I have been Bible art journaling. Even though I don’t have a lot of energy to do so, I have tried to help out around the house as I can. And yesterday, I realized. Why am I not writing? Why am I not playing piano every day? These two activities are ones that I LOVE; have much finger dexterity in February or March, but I have it back now! Why is the child in my womb not hearing her mommy play music all the time? Why has my creative slow simply stopped?

So, I am re-discovering ANNA. I have made a commitment to write and play the piano, 30 minutes a day each. I have an author friend who was starting to write a book in October or November, and she published it a few weeks ago. Why do I drag my stinkin’ feet every time I close in on a goal of mine? Yeah, the first book I self-published, I went about it all wrong. But that doesn’t mean I should STOP. I had to cancel piano lessons in January, because of my relapse, which led me to live in Minnesota for a few months while everything was figured out health-wise. But I have heard interest of new students—why have I not been pursuing them super hard? Um, if I leave it all up to them, they won’t be taught!

In the next year, I plan to WRITE. I plan to self-publish more books that I think my audience will enjoy. Books that have been cooking in my head for YEARS, that simply need to be refined and rewritten. I didn’t even sleep very much last night, because my brain was remembering all the things I have wanted to do for so long. I have two months until baby comes. Then, even though I’ll be exhausted, I will still be at home. Even if my body can’t do everything I want it to when I want it to, I can WRITE. I can PLAY. So, what am I waiting for? I even got up at 6am this morning because I couldn’t wait. (I’ll probably crash in a few hours, but hey, I’m up now!)

Here’s to getting my life back!

Lord, where are you goin’ with this?

Music. Teaching. Writing. Pastoral Care. All my life, I have been led in these directions.  I am at a loss.  You know when I said, “This is the first time in my life I have no idea what’s happening in the future and I’m okay with it”?  Well, those words are coming back to bite me, because I am not necessarily okay with it anymore.  I just want to know what I’m going to be doing so that I can focus on that and refresh or gain even more knowledge in that area.  I didn’t pass my Praxis education tests to get the score for Kentucky, and I’ve heard from a few different sources about this Christian writer’s conference in Michigan in less than a month.  Do I stop looking for teaching jobs and write more?  I honestly didn’t even know where in the Word to turn to, so I googled the phrases, “God’s will + circumstances” to see what I’d get.  I came across a few awesome articles/blogs.  One of them told me to ask myself these questions: “Where has God been leading us? Has He been doing something even when we couldn’t recognize it?  In the light of all God has been doing for us, does what we think we hear God saying through our circumstances make sense?” (Edmondson).  The thing is, God has been leading me toward all four things I started out this post with.  Even when I don’t see it, I look back and realize he has been making me better at those four things.  And now I don’t know what circumstances are saying, because anything makes sense right now.

What I do know is that God has been making it very clear to both Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I that he has a plan for us, and that we are to be in Pikeville, Kentucky for a season.  He has led us to that path in a way that one can’t question.  This last week, Dr. Coyote, my parents, and me drove down to Pikeville (a 2 day drive from anywhere in the upper Midwest).  It was great.  We looked at our apartment that we had signed the lease on a month earlier (smiley face), D went and turned in some forms in person to the school, and I followed up on some job leads I had.  Basically, there have been 3 music teachers hired in the last year, and unless any music teachers are married to a med student who will be moving on soon, there won’t be an opening anytime soon.  But I picked up the sub application for two districts.  And the newspaper, where I sent my resume the week before, was still in the process of looking at all the resumes that have come in.  But the music store.  The music store is looking to expand on the private lessons it offers to band students.  There is a man who gives drum set lessons who would like to focus on something else, so I could potentially have his students.  The owner of the store said we would stay in contact, and that they would probably be able to use me.  So excited!  I love giving lessons.  I love having that relationship with a student and passing on knowledge and watching them grow!  So, ideally, I could be almost-full-time giving lessons, and maybe I could write?  That would be awesome. And while we were there, we also took in some of the sites and got a feel for the town where much of the Hatfield-McCoy Feud took place.  (And I didn’t even really know about the Hatfield-McCoy feud.  I do now!)

The Lord alone knows what the future has in store.  I’ve been finding verses that I feel the Lord has been speaking to me through lately and writing them on index cards so I have them with me to look at again and again.  Verses that calm worry (1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 6:34), calm chaos (Psalm 46:10a, Psalm 37:7a), encourage perseverance because He is with me (2 Chronicles 32:7, Exodus 14:14, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6), command me to love him (Joshua 24:15b, Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and tell me that he’s got it (2 Corinthians 12:9).  These are only a few verses I read often to calm me and remind me that the Lord is near.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote told me that he thinks the Lord is leading me in 4 directions on purpose.  I know God has been teaching me trust through every single thing he seems to be doing in my life, but this is another one of those things.  He also tries my TEACHES ME patience every time I turn around, as well, smiley face.

Music, pastoral care, teaching, writing.  I don’t really know what God has in store for these things, but I dream of a job where I can use all these things that the Lord has been preparing me for at once.

 

Do you look at verses for comfort or have some memorized to repeat to yourself when you need it?  What are they?  Does God talk to you through circumstances or does he sort of just leave you waiting and trusting until the almost-last-minute? 

 

Anna 🙂