Our God Wins

Lately, I've been doing really well. My body has been cooperating with my hopes of starting an exercise program and my goals are slowly but surely being reached. The past two weeks have been incredible. I was finally feeling like I was getting back to being "me."

But, all too soon, my excruciating neck pain came back for a visit. It's come back so badly this time that I had to spend all of Saturday afternoon and evening lying down. Aspirin wasn't working. My heating pad wasn't working. Even my tactic of icing it in order to numb the pain... Wasn't. Working.

I was feeling utterly helpless that night, but my best friend Amy knew just the fix...Pinterest. Princess Diaries. Relaxing. Girl talk. :) On Sunday, I woke up and my neck was feeling much better, but throughout the day, while we were shopping, it started to bother me once again. Aspirin wouldn't help and rest just wasn't an option because I needed to finish my school shopping.

I got to bed relatively early Sunday evening, and decided to wake up early yesterday morning to spend time with God before doing anything else. I prayed and opened my Bible to an awesome, awesome verse...

John 16:33 ~ "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles, but take heart! I have overcome the world."

I held onto that verse yesterday evening when my neck pain spiked again just around supper time, and I'm still holding onto it this morning. And on top of that lovely reminder from God, my dear friend Rachel also reminded me of something very important...

Our God wins.

I'm going to continue to take it easy...to take breaks when I need them...to rest when I have to...and I'm going to remember to smile through it all. Because, I must say it again...

Our God wins.

And that's all the reassurance I need to keep fighting.


Being Proud of the NEW Me

About a year ago I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. No matter how hard I've tried to erase it or keep it out of my life... It always comes back and somehow contributes to the person that I am today.

I'm just now realizing... (After two rounds of physical therapy, over six months of occupational therapy, about 20 visits to the rhematologist, three "x-ray days," one MRI, a kidney ultrasound, a biopsy, close to twenty "labwork days," literally passing out countless times, and hundreds of follow ups/med checks...) that this is NOT a bad thing.

In fact, I am now willing to accept and be okay with my diagnosis. I look at how much I've grown in faith, I look at how much I've grown as a person... And I realize...

It's a huge blessing.

Who would have ever thought a year ago that those words would be coming out in this blog post?

"How can you say that?" "You really believe God planned for you to be sick?"

Those are probably the two most common questions I get asked. And so today, I'm answering both of them once and for all.

1.) I can say that my diagnosis is a huge blessing because I've met incredible people throughout my journey! Some of my doctor's are my best friends and the blog/Twitter friends I've found who deal with the same things encourage me on a daily basis to get up, get moving, and do something that matters. Because of my health journey, I have a more determined spirit. I'm more thankful for the little things in life. I realize just how blessed I am and realize that things could be so much worse.

2.) John 9:1-3 says this:
As he went along, He saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." Jesus said it right there... He created me with a plan in mind. He bought me with a price. I truly believe that in Heaven, I will be healed. But because I am here on earth to help build His Kingdom, there will be struggles... And because I will overcome those struggles with the help of my Savior, He will use me to speak to and help others along the way and through their own journey. That's not called punishment, that's called purpose!

A year ago, this wasn't my attitude at all. But, it feels so good to say that I've finally accepted my purpose, answered my calling, and am in the midst of working hard to become the best me I can be. My realization... I can be changed by the obstacles I face... But I REFUSE to be reduced by them.

I'm making HUGE strides in my physical fitness right now! Last summer/fall I wasn't allowed to run... THIS summer/fall, however...

I realize that to some, this isn't a big deal... But to me, it's incredible progress and I'm learning how to be proud of the new me. The changed me. I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin, and finally, I'm learning how to push the limits just the right amount. Little by little, one day at a time.


"See you later," Grandpa

I've been back from camp since last Friday and it was AMAZING. God showed up in some incredibly cool ways and I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to go! However, life has just been "happening" this week and I haven't gotten around to blogging. MIA again so soon, I know... But I promise, I'm alive!

My Grandpa who has struggled with his health over the past 5 years passed away last Friday. Therefore, this week shaped up to be a pretty tough one. However, I truly believe that it was his time to go and that God has a wonderful plan in mind for us all. I will miss him dearly here on earth but know that today was a "see you later," rather than a "goodbye."

On Monday evening, my Grandma asked if I'd give a eulogy at the wake since she was so stressed with other planning. I was thrilled! God has truly given me the gifts of writing and speaking and I was thrilled to get to use them both in my sweet Grandpa's honor.

It was difficult to find the "right" words, but after a pep talk from one of my best friends, Brooke, it came naturally. I wholeheartedly stayed up til 1:30 a.m. working hard until it seemed perfect. It was tough to roll out of bed Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. (of course, I was going to babysit!) but it was worth it! Again, I just feel so honored to have gotten the oppotunity to speak at such an amazing man's memorial service and know I made him proud!

They say that one of the hardest things about losing someone dear to you is simply the feeling that you could have done something more. The feeling of regret, in a sense. The thought “if I just had one more day…” I think it’s something we all toss around and struggle with. And up until today, I’d even argue that it was part of the so-called “grieving process.” But when I woke up this morning, my entire perspective was radically changed.

The best memories with my Grandpa have always been ones that included baby calves. I realize that makes us seem like total hicks, but hey, I’m just being honest. Anytime I’d go to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, my Grandpa would set me up with a calf and a bottle of milk replacer… And some days, the special days as I remember them, he’d put a rope halter on one of them and take it out into the yard and let me run around with it as he watched nearby. I never had to ask and to this day, I still don’t know how he managed to read my mind the way he did. Because for real, even with the stiff competition Grandma’s tasty cookies brought, Grandpa knew deep down just what he had to do to keep me down in that barn. That’s talent.

Since our family is so large, I’ve always felt like it was hard to have a special relationship with any one person… But as I said before, this morning, my perspective was radically changed. I now look back on those simple memories of Grandpa, me, and those little calves and I realize that no one, absolutely no one, got to share those moments with him besides me. Those moments and memories will never change. In fact, they were what formed the relationship that only I got the chance to have with him. They are truly what brought me up here today to share with you all. And so, I challenge you! I challenge you each to change your perspective on the memories you’ve shared with my Grandpa and I challenge you to search your memory for the one that makes you cherish the unique and special relationship that only you shared with him. I challenge you to hold onto that memory and last but not least, I challenge and pray that you would never get tired of doing the tiniest of things for others, because my Grandpa has taught me that those things are truly the ones that take up the most room in our hearts.

Now, if you look past my mop of hair and crazed look in my eyes, you'll be able to see just how special those moments with my Grandpa really were. I am so beyond grateful for all he has taught me and I truly cannot wait to see him again someday.

Grandpa, I hope that Heaven is SO good to you! I'm sure there'll be lots of good fishing up there. :) Thank you for being YOU and touching my life in such an incredible way. I love you!

Until we meet again...