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!

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How MS Changed My Life (For the Better)

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 13 years old. When I started the testing for everything (MRI, spinal tap, bloodwork, etc), I thought nothing of it. But then I was diagnosed with MS. Those two letters are pretty powerful. Mood swings are a symptom, and I always laugh when I’m taking a poll or something and somebody asks if mood swings got worse with my MS diagnosis. HELLO! I WAS IN PUBERTY! Hehe. But it did hit me pretty hard. I have posts about my diagnosis on this blog, so I’ll just skip to how it has changed my life.

1. It has forced me to rely on God and to trust him way more than I would have otherwise.

My faith has grown SO MUCH. I have very little control over this MS. I can do things to try and keep my body happy, like stretch or exercise, but I don’t have control over spasticity in my leg muscle or when my fingers will get tired or numb. Those things just happen. I have had to rely on the Lord to give me physical strength and energy when I have none. When I just want to crawl back into bed and skip the day, the Lord gives me exactly what I need. I’ve compared my MS with a thorn in my flesh before, but I don’t think of it that way anymore. Yes, it’s there, but it doesn’t always have to have an impact on every single thing that I do. Yes, I do take it into consideration when I’m asked to go for a walk and I reply, “Ehhhhhhh, I shouldn’t,” because I know what the next hours might feel like.
God is my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength when I have none. The MS has shown me I don’t always have physical strength. But, like the parables that Jesus was so good at telling, I have been able to relate it to my emotional and spiritual strength, as well. God is pretty sneaky like that.

2. It has allowed me to see what negativity can become, and weighed in my decision to be happy and positive all the time.

The MS community is split, sadly to say. About half of them cry, “Woe is me!” and have allowed the MS and depression to take over their lives. They are sick with a disease that is ruining their life. Nobody understands. Life sucks, let me drown in the sea of despair. The other half allows positivity to reverberate off of them, no matter what. These are the people that others who have never even heard of MS, look at and they say, “Now there is someone who I’d like to hang out with. Even though she’s in a wheelchair (or uses a cane or walks funny on her own or all these other things that MS can cause), she is a happy person. What an inspiration.”
I have been in the negativity boat. It is heavy, and doesn’t flow easily. It struggles to do everything, and there are many tears that cause the boat to start sinking in the water around it as it takes on water. But I have decided that while sometimes, pity-parties are what a person feels like they need, I don’t want to weigh the world down. I want to lift it up! (Pity parties DO affect others, whether we think they do or not!)

3. It has forced me to come out of my shell.

Kudos to my mother, who made me start talking to doctors and neurologists about what’s going on right away. Although I told her everything, I needed to learn to speak up for myself. I also needed to learn to defend myself, stand up for myself, and not let other people’s opinions be mine. I definitely did that. Now I’m the odd person who walks up to a stranger and says, “Hi. I don’t know you.” I will tell complete strangers about my MS and when they try to pity me, I will shrug and come up with a sassy comeback (that never gets out of my mouth, but in my head, it shuts them down). People can think what they want to think. But the people that know me realize that there is NOTHING to pity. I tell ya, some people!

4. It allowed me to see other people’s hearts first.

Most people, when they first meet me or see me walking on the street, see my limp. At least the people who look on the outside first. I had a bible study leader who once told me he’d never noticed my limp before. Because he looked at my heart. I like people’s hearts more than I like physical appearances. That’s what I see first. And you really ask me how I landed such a great guy? Hint: he saw my heart first, too. We actually fell for each others’ hearts before the rest of us. But, mmhmm. His heart is one sexy organ. And it’s MINE! 🙂

5. It has made me totally empathetic with illnesses and people who are not in the “norm.”

The people who society looks down upon and judges? I see them. I know what it’s like to be judged, and part of that feeling makes me feel a connection with that person, even if they don’t realize it’s there. I have no idea if it’s related or not, but I have a soft spot when working with kids, as well. So not all of them are at the same levels. I teach beginners and advanced students that range all ages. And it’s not always the older ones who are so advanced. Someone has a learning or other physical disability? We’ll work around it. Someone’s self-esteem is shaken? We’ll fix it. Too young? Too old? No such thing. I’m a friend to all, and I will teach anybody. MS? ALS? Autism? Cancer? Who cares. Let’s teach them something!
And I’m sorry for the people who are used to getting special treatment because of some condition. Who are seen by everyone as one way. Because I will see beyond. I believe this is what makes me a good teacher. And giving one-on-one lessons is my FAVORITE.

6. For some reason, my love of writing has been growing!

I don’t know if this is related to the MS or not, but I have been writing a lot more than otherwise. Nobody likes to listen to complaining, so I started writing about it in a journal. I wrote stories about it and overcame some of my own struggles through my characters. And now I write about all sorts of things. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that I can write from a seated position, because I get so tired on my feet all the time. I’ve always embraced the idea that, “I CAN do this now, so I WILL do this until I can’t.” That is why I happily finished my music ed degree and looked forward to being a teacher. Not because I’d be able to do it forever, because I don’t know the future. But because I liked it and I can do it NOW. Which leads me to

7. It has allowed me to value the NOW like never before.

Right now, I can type and write and walk and climb stairs and drive and work. I don’t know what my body will do tomorrow, or in 5 years. Maybe I won’t be able to do half those things. Maybe I’ll be able to do more than I can now. I have no control, and no idea. But right now, I can. That’s all that matters. Right now, I could WALK down the aisle to marry my love. Right now, I can support him as he’s in med school, because right now, that is where we’re at. Years from now, I don’t know where we’ll be living or what I’ll be doing. So right now, we are plugged in to a church. Right now, we are making a lot of close friends. Right now, we are involved in other people’s lives because right now, we may be at the same stages or at the same church or simply in the same neighborhood. Right NOW.

8. Since I was diagnosed, I’ve become an MS Activist.

When I was in middle school and high school, I was in the MS Walk and raised all kind of money for MS research. Since then I have become too busy for the walk (and I don’t have the same connections I did), but I educate as many people as I can about the disease. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness and millions of dollars for ALS research. What challenge does anybody have cooked up for MS? Because I am excited to jump on board!

These are a few of the things that came to my head as I was thinking about the MS I have. Dr. Wile E. Coyote is actually learning about the central nervous system and nerves and all sorts of things that he’s been able to connect to MS, and he understands it better in that medical way. With all his resources, he has also been able to see what is up with MS research and what researchers are looking into. Apparently, they are looking deep into genetics, because there is something related to that. But that’s not ALL. It is so interesting listening to Dr. Coyote talk about the stuff he’s learning. Of course, when he starts talking, using all scientific terms, I know he’s no longer talking to me and can tune him out. (He’s only been in school a few months and I’ve learned that!)

Do you or have MS? How has it changed your life? Do you know someone with MS? How has it changed YOUR life, watching them? Do you see changes in their life?

Anna E. Meyer

Circumstances and God’s Perfect Timing

One day Moses, Jesus, and an old man went golfing.  There was this really big water trap that had pretty much flooded, but that didn’t stop them.  Moses hits his golf ball into the water trap, divides the water, and hits it out.  Jesus hits his golf ball into the water trap, walks on the water, and hits it out.  The old man hits his ball into the water trap.  But a fish grabs the ball in his mouth.  Just that instant, a bird swoops down and grabs the fish that has the ball in his mouth.  The bird flies up and over the golf course.  Just as he is flying over the green of the hole they are on, the fish drops the golf ball out of his mouth and the ball lands in the hole.  Moses turns to Jesus and says, “I hate when your dad comes golfing with us.”

 

Circumstances.  I don’t really know how it’s all working, but God has had a plan from the beginning, and he wants everyone to know it.  In Genesis 6, God tells Noah to build an ark and gather all animals, two by two, to fill it.  Noah builds the ark, but if he had worried about how to gather the animals, he shouldn’t have.  God had creatures of every kind, at least two of each, come to the ark when it was time to load up.

It’s a good lesson: take action, and don’t worry—God’s got it under control!

It’s like mine and Doug’s story, starting all the way back in 2011.  I told God that if I didn’t get accepted to Project, I just wouldn’t go.  But I got accepted.  Then I told him that if I didn’t raise my support, I wouldn’t go.  But I raised way more than I needed.  Over the years, Doug and I were good friends and we wrote letters and talked about Jesus together and stuff.  I told God that I wanted Doug to find someone he needed.  I wanted him to be happy.  Then Doug asked ME out.  And then I told God that his timing was perfect.  I told him that under no circumstances did I want my heart to be broken, so he brought Doug and I closer together, assuring me it would not.  It just happened to work out that Doug could come to my place for Thanksgiving (after much prayer and uncertainty as to if Doug would have Thanksgiving off of work).  And of course I was going to his place for Christmas.  We were engaged.  And then things just continued to line up.  We decided to lease an apartment after not having seen it, one we had simply heard about through conversation on Facebook.  And it just happened that we were the first to say we wanted the place.  It also just so happened that our landlord said I could give lessons from the apartment, and that his daughter was interested in learning the piano.  Goodness.

Right now, I’m waiting for everything to keep lining up.  I’m just expecting them to.  I move forward and am trying not to worry about what’ll happen next.  I took the Praxis test, so I can improve my scores to meet Kentucky’s standards.  I’ll get my scores back in a week.  If I don’t pass, maybe I’m not supposed to be a teacher in Kentucky.  If I am, maybe the perfect teaching job will open up?  But there are so many other things I could do!

I’m really wow-ed by circumstances.  All I have to do is take steps to move forward and trust.  If it isn’t supposed to be, it won’t.  But if it is?  Sometimes it’s way more obvious than other times but God usually makes it clear.  I am in awe and will praise my God forever! 😀

Anna

When have circumstances been working out for you in a way that you have no room to question the Lord? 

My Morning Musings and Jesus

I am amazed by God’s hand every time I see it or hear about it.  Talking with others about what has happened in their lives that led them to where they are at?  Wow.  Even looking around at my own life?  It’s a lot clearer to see God’s hand when you look for it.  Like this whole subbing thing.  I was talking to God last night, and I’m like, “I need energy.  I haven’t been getting up early enough on days I don’t even have to.”  God knows I need to be subbing to pay for rent and stuff, but I didn’t get a job today.  So I got up at 6 anyway, to check if there were any jobs and there wasn’t, so I’m staying up.  Maybe I’ll work tomorrow, and this way, energy won’t be as high of a concern, right?  Since I got up at the outrageous hour of 6am (two of my roommates are in college ministry, so they don’t even roll over until 8, on their earliest days), I think I’ll spend this time with the Lord.

Romans 15:13: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Circumstances keep telling me not to doubt God, because he is always faithful and true.  Over and over again he has come through, so why not trust him with what I need now and in the future?  When I trust him completely, I don’t worry.  I’m filled with peace, because I know that he will always come through.  I spend a lot of posts on this blog talking about worry, because it used to consume me.  But it doesn’t anymore.  Why worry?  Control is an illusion—even when we think we’re in control, we’re not.  So let’s succumb to the One who is and talk with him about everything instead of trying to do it on our own! 🙂

A year ago, I thought I’d stay in the South Dakota-Minnesota region forever.  I mean, after this winter, I have my doubts, but now look!  I’m moving to Kentucky and I’m getting MARRIED!  I have absolutely no idea (still) about what awaits me in KY, but I’m trusting.  I’m asked what I’m up to when I’m not subbing, but I stay busy.  Interning with Jason, who is the head of the nursing home ministry I’ve been involved in?  (Which is super awesome and exciting, by the way.)  Working on those wife skills I’ll need next year?  (I’ve actually been making food that doesn’t just come from a box, and it’s edible!)  And planning a wedding, being proactive about getting teacher certification in KY, and writing.  Okay, so I haven’t been writing much fiction lately, but letters, emails, and the occasional blog post should count for something, right? 🙂

Romans 15:5-6: “May God, who gives the patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.  Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Blessings to all my readers, whether it be randomly now, or keeping up on all my stuff (which can be kind of repetitive, sorry about that)

Anna

The Poverty Simulation, 2012

A year ago, I wrote this post about the poverty simulation I went on as a student on Milwaukee Summer Project 2011.  This year, I did the pov sim again.  As staff.  I was the one who got to obnoxiously knock on a door and wake up the occupants of those who were sleeping, telling them to get dressed and get downstairs.  I got to inspect students to make sure they had THREE items only (example, a ponytail was an item, a sweatshirt over a t-shirt counted as an item).

The whole simulation was so different!  What they did (that staff had them do) was different than what they had us do last year.  Here, it’s been different every year.  The pov sim the students did this year was 24 hours.  They slept in a warehouse for part of the night, then we evacuated them because of rat-infestation.  We brought them back, but an hour later gave them beds for the remaining 6-7 hours of the night.  Yes, the conditions were harsher, but staff was nicer.  We’d mislead them and take away items, but I thought the general attitude of the students was a lot more positive.  They recovered quickly, as well.  Because there are only two guys, we broke them up into groups of five (a guy in each).  As the students were telling us about their day during debrief the next morning, I saw Christ through their encounters and through their revelation.  Tom, a homeless person one group talked to, offered them his food.  He also told them where they could sleep that night and where soup kitchens were located in the city; he was concerned about the girls.  The students bonded together super well; they became a family by day three of project.  They prayed together and encouraged one another.  What Christ did in them and through them amazes me.  I don’t feel like I got as much out of pov sim last year as these students got, but I am learning tons this year, even though I didn’t experience the pov sim first-hand.

God called me back to the city this summer with purpose.  I have gotten to meet many new people I would never have met otherwise.  I have the opportunity to disciple two of the girls.  And, I have been learning (or, re-learning) many things, including God’s heart for the poor.  I finished Jeremiah a few weeks ago, and I started going through Isaiah when I got here.  I read “Generous Justice” by Tim Keller before getting here, and I am just learning tons about what God asks us to do for the poor.  It’s pretty amazing.  I have grown so much in the last year as I look back on it, but I am continuing to grow.  Being here is like adding fuel to the fire.  Jesus is so great and he’s continuing to teach me every single day!

Goooooo Jesus!  Wooooo! =)

Smiling always, Anna =)^2