"But Only One Thing is Necessary"

Yesterday, I was sitting in my economics class when I randomly decided to check my e-mail. There in my inbox was an unread message from the Regional Juvenile Arthritis Manager for the Upper Midwest Region of the Arthritis Foundation. I clicked to open it nonchalantly when I read...

Needless to say, nonchalantly checking my e-mail quickly turned into a shrieking/squealing/borderline crazy fest between my best friend Amy and I. I was just about in tears over how excited I was/am. As we were throwing our mini-celebration, the substitute teacher overheard our conversation. Instead of shushing us, she asked, "Why do you support the Arthritis Foundation?" I don't remember exactly how I answered... I just basically explained my diagnosis of autoimmune arthritis in short and went back to working on our project squealing with Amy. ;)

Later on last night, I had an appointment to get spinal injections. I haven't had them in about 6 weeks, but being I can't use Enbrel until my kidney infection is completely gone, I thought it was the best choice to manage pain for the next few weeks. They weren't fun to sit through (as usual) but I know listening to my doctor's recommendation to get them this week was the right decision.

As I was checking out of the clinic, the substitute teacher from my economics class walked in! WHAT?! She noticed me and struck up a conversation. It turns out that she, too, suffers from chronic pain and was there for her own spinal injections. We chatted about our diagnosis' a bit more before she got called back. As she was walking away, she said, "It was so refreshing to meet you today. You're a great girl."

I smiled and stopped dead in my tracks.


I woke up yesterday morning dreading the rainy day that was causing wicked my joint pain, my appointment afterschool, and how I'd be feeling afterwards. I woke up less than refreshed, but because I got out of bed and fought anyway... I made a difference.

I never know when or where God will use me to raise awareness for this disease and if I'm being completely honest, there are a plethora of days that I complain, cry, and absolutely HATE it. The calling, the purpose, the questions, the funny looks, the pain. There are days that I plead with God to just take it all away. But for a brief moment standing there in that doctor's office, I realized I was glad. Thankful even, that He chose me.

In chapter 40 of the book of Luke, there is a young woman named Martha. As Jesus enters her village, she invites Him into her home. As Jesus spoke of His teachings, Martha's sister Mary sat down at Jesus' feet and listened intently. Martha, on the other hand, is distracted cooking and cleaning. Martha becomes upset about this and says to Jesus, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me!" Gently, Jesus responds to her by saying, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary."

At a dead standstill in that office, I realized that I am Martha in so many areas of my life. On particularly painful days, sure, I blast worship music and dig in to find encouraging verses... But I still allow myself to worry and feel discouraged about the calling God has put on my life. I focus on the logistics, the many things, when all I need to focus on is faith, the one thing.

God may not heal me today and He may not have plans to heal me tomorrow, but I know that one day He WILL. Until then, I am more than content serving as a refreshing reminder of His love right where I'm at.


I'm Trying to Make This Funny

Last Thursday, I was celebrating like some lunatic hopped up on sugar - so excited because EASTER. BREAK. Thursday was my Friday and that gave me a real hard time focusing on anything other than the chocolate I would be consuming, the Netflix I was gonna be watching, and the awesome Easter services my church was going to be having.

HA. Joke's on me.

So I wake up in the wee hours of Friday morning to excruciating stomach pain and I start making a mental list of all the people I need to say goodbye to before I die. (I know you think I'm bring dramatic but I'm not kidding.) I was in a ridiculous amount of pain and my brain was not functioning properly at this time in the morning. Obviously.

After lying there helplessly for some time, I finally gathered up enough strength to walk to the medicine cupboard in the kitchen a grab my pain meds. I took a dose, drank a glass of water, and tried to go back to sleep. It wasn't happening, so I turned on Netflix.

Sometime between taking my pain medication, watching 3 episodes of Ghost Whisperer, and pacing the living room floor, I fell asleep again. I woke up around 6 a.m. in even more pain and began crawling to the bathroom where I threw up my pain meds and the water I'd been drinking.

Friday is a blur, to be honest. The pain I was in continued to worsen by the hour and I started to run a fever. I woke up early Saturday morning, talked to my mom, and we both agreed I needed to go in as soon as possible. I horrendously attempted to shower and then my mom drove me to the medical center.

We get there and wait F.O.R.E.V.E.R. because scheduling an appointment at 10:45 obviously means you aren't getting in for at least an hour after your scheduled time slot. Anyhow, once the doctor finally saw me he was going on and on about bladder infections and how that was most likely the issue... Blah blah blah. As he's talking, I'm sorta just rolling my eyes... Like bro, you don't know me.

Now, I'm not discounting the pain bladder infections can cause, but I KNEW that my pain was coming for something far worse than that, so I sorta let him have it once he was done blabbing. He agreed to run some tests after he poked my kidneys and I started sobbing like a baby.

The tests came back indicating a ton of bad bacteria in my body and white blood cells in my urine, (those aren't supposed to be there,) so it was a clear indicator there was an infection going on. A kidney infection, to be exact. After we finally had a clear diagnosis, I got a few super doses of antibiotics and got sent home.

The rest of Saturday is a complete blur. The pain was by far the worst I have ever experienced, but after the antibiotics kicked in I got really hungry. I was holding everything down and tolerating my pain medication, but it didn't really matter to me considering I was still in nausea-inducing pain. I couldn't sleep, but I couldn't stay awake. I was in and out of clear consciousness. I WAS MISERABLE.

I got another solid two hours of sleep on Saturday night and woke up Sunday morning in the same amount of pain. I was insanely sad I wasn't going to be able to get out of bed, wear my pretty Easter dress, and go to church, but there was no way I was gonna make it happen. I watched church in bed and then drifted in and out of sleep for most of the day.

Monday morning, I woke up feeling achy and exhausted - but I also felt HUMAN and I could finally STAND UP STRAIGHT. PRAISE JESUS HALLELUJAH!

I spent Monday resting, got out for a walk, and even got to hang out with the two kiddos I nanny for a little bit. I ate ALL THE THINGS and I took the longest shower probably ever known to man. Yesterday, I woke up feeling a tiny bit achy yet and with an earache from HELL. I knew this was another infection, so I went back to the doctor for more antibiotics. Sure enough, there was fluid and inflammation like woah. Annoying.

Anyway, my kidneys are on the mend, my ear infection is being treated, I don't have to do my injection this week, and I can walk without actually believing I'm going to kill somebody because of the pain, so I think I'll dance today. And go to school. And smile. Just because I can.

Disclosure: Yes, I am aware that this post uses multiple Elf gif's. No, I do not find those references irrelevant even though it's spring going on summer.


They Aren't Bad People, They Just Aren't The Right People

Way back in October, I wrote a post about learning to let go. It was a post about situations, habits, and (primarily) a person in my life whom I loved dearly, but could no longer identify with. After writing that post, things began to drastically change in my life. The relationships I made a priority began to flourish. The relationships I let go of began to work themselves out. I felt balanced... And even free in a sense. I felt lighter. For awhile, anyway.

This past week in church, I realized I no longer feel that way. I don't feel free. I don't feel balanced. In fact, lately, I feel as if I've been struggling the hardest with letting things - of any kind -  go... And because of that, it's become quite the pretentious challenge to move forward in any way at all.

So, I prayed about it.

See, while I'm the girl who wrote that post about letting go of certain individuals, I'm also the girl who wrote that post about loving unconditionally. While I'm the girl who wants to understand that letting go is part of moving forward, I'm also the girl who just can't stand to let people walk away. Personally, I think that's because even when relationships don't work out, even when friendships fade, I truly want to be someone that other people value their time with. I want them to speak kindly of me. I want them to be able to say, "she made me a better person; the time I spent with her was worth it."

Don't we all, though?

At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that no matter what we want, there are situations, people, and reactions out of our control. There are people that we need to let go of in order to move forward.

Now, I don't believe in labeling people "toxic" because these so-called "toxic" people are rarely vengeful or inhumane. In fact, some of the most "toxic" people in our lives are the ones who love us the most. Many of them, contrary to popular belief, have good intentions. Most of these people are only considered "toxic" because their needs and way of existing in the world cause us to compromise ourselves, our values, and our happiness. They aren't imminently bad people, they just aren't the right people. We aren't for them and they aren't for us. As challenging as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without surrounding yourself with people who don't make you a better you. As much as you care, it is never worth eradicating yourself for the sake of someone else.

That might mean that you have to love a family member from a distance. It might mean that you have to break up with the person you love and respect the most. It might even mean that you need to avoid a painful situation until you're in the right state of mind to handle it properly. Whatever that might mean for us, we need to make sure to remember that our well-being is a priority and no one is going to make it that way unless we do ourselves.

When I realized this and actually started to believe it, I felt lighter again. I felt free, balanced, and a lot more like myself. The me that I want to be, anyway.

I want to lay down at night and have my head hit the pillow knowing that the people in my life are making the me I am today a better me tomorrow. I want to close my eyes and rest in the assurance that my well-being is a priority. That I am valued. That I am worthy. I want to wake up in the morning and be the spunky Kenz, the confident Kenz, the carefree Kenz, and the Kenz that knows she is surrounded and supported by people who cherish her for everything that she is - imperfections and all.

In fact, today, I not only want that. I refuse to accept anything less than that.


This Is My Reality

It was late, I was exhausted, and I had just clicked the play button on my worship playlist. I grabbed my nighttime meds off the end table, took a sip of water, and swallowed the tiny pills just like I had a million nights prior. I reached over to turn off my lamp just as my phone lit up. After I was all nestled into bed, I grabbed my phone and opened the text message:

"I thought I could understand but I cant. Your health stuff is too much drama"

Let's backtrack for a moment here. Prior to receiving the text message that has become the premise of this blog post, I'd been having a conversation with my ex-boyfriend about the reasoning he had behind our break-up. Initially, he had lots of reasons, of course... None that truly mattered to or even hurt me, truthfully. Until he added the one I have no control over. Until, of course, he added the one that I already struggle with every. single. second. of every. single. day.

I'll be the first to admit... My first reaction? Laughter. Oh, did I laugh. I said to myself, "Okay, Kenz, he just doesn't get it. This has nothing to do with you." In fact, I was actually thinking logically for a few solid minutes...but then, suddenly, it stung.

In the midst of my little snickers, I started to fake laugh. Eventually, silent tears started rolling down my face. I dropped my iPhone on the floor, put my face into my pillow, and cried... Slowly, and then all at once, the sting I felt ebbed itself away and eased off. Through tear-filled eyes, I realized something.

This lifestyle I live...
These medications I take... 
The braces I wear... 
The limitations I face... 
The pain I feel... 
And the tears I cry because of it all... 

None of it is drama. Each of those things juxtaposed with one another create my reality.

My reality is waking up to a completely swollen hand, epicly celebrating a 1 mile run, and not being able to fall asleep at night because of the pain of a swollen shoulder.

My reality is passing out during lab work, getting excited over a new medication that might put this gruesome disease into remission, and not being able to hold my head up straight because of spinal injections.

My reality is doing my weekly self-injection at 11 p.m. on a school night after a speech meet and homework, finding inspiration in advocating for autoimmune diseases any way I possibly can, and spending long days/nights in a hospital surrounded by specialists.

And, so, to my ex-boyfriend, this blog post is my response to your text message. The only person responsible for your misunderstanding is yourself. If you're looking for a solution, take responsibility for that misunderstanding instead of discounting the lasting and varied impact that struggle has. Ask questions. Be patient. Open your mind. Open your heart, for goodness sake. And stop diminishing the importance of the things you haven't experienced.

My reality may look different. It may appear a bit more demanding, pretentious, and at times, insanely complicated...but there's not a single chance that your misunderstanding gets to say my challenging reality is merely a synonym for drama.