Being a Believer During Times of Uncertainty

You haven’t heard from me in over a week and considering the excitement I had over the “25 Days of December” series (I promise I will get those last two posts out!!!), this is kind of weird, right? Right. It is. That’s because I haven’t been myself the last week and a half or so. And to be honest, I haven’t been myself…for the past 15 years.

I confide in my parents, sister and some close friends, but really I don’t share much about it because I feel kind of crazy. I feel like a hypochondriac. It’s my health (or lack of sometimes) and I have no idea what causes it and have yet to find a doctor who knows either. This time I won’t stop at “I Don’t Know.” I am on a mission to find answers.

Because this is a faith based blog and my number 1 goal is to always be transparent with my readers, I want to share with you that I am struggling. I am struggling to find a balance or an answer.

Are you lost yet?

Starting in 6th grade with SEVERE constipation (sorry for the TMI) and growing into more symptoms and -more often- ever since then….. I have had my fair share of ER visits, doctors appointments, tests and uncertainty.

In 2007 I experienced my first big episode since 6th grade. I was dizzy, would fall asleep driving (we are talking about driving just across town), had chest pain, heart palpitations and shakiness. The doctors did tests but found nothing. I was healthy and normal.

Again, in 2010, I experienced a few months where I was super dizzy almost passing out, having hot flashes, chest pain and heart palpitations again. The doctors ran even more tests and did find some irregular heartbeats and put me on some medicine…..that made it worse. To the point they couldn’t find my pulse in the ER. After that visit with my doctor where his face turned ghost white because he admitted he gave me too high of a dose – I stopped all efforts to see a doctor and GAVE UP.

In 2014 after our honeymoon, I found myself in the ER because I literally could not walk. Severe constipation again.

With each pregnancy my symptoms would reappear and get worse. It was very hard to work or even get ready in the morning due to the dizziness. I would go into the doc or ER and they would give me fluids and send me on my way.

In 2015 I was pregnant with our son and had the “normal” me symptoms of dizziness and hot flashes, added some spider veins and severe itchiness but I was pretty used to it and tried my best to make it through.

Towards the last few months of pregnancy I just felt like something wasn’t right. I sat in the OB office and bawled, telling her how I really didn’t feel good and requested she recheck my due date or do an ultrasound or something! She said she would not change my due date and refused me an ultrasound. Let me just add in that she had pushed it 2 weeks out from the original one which meant 2 more weeks of this horrific pain! I even went to the ER feeling like maybe I was in labor or something and requested an ultrasound. They refused me one there too. I got desperate enough that I called my previous OB who was no longer delivering and asked for his advice. After a long chat on the phone, he so selflessly offered to assist in the c-section. Boy did he save my life!

Come the day of my scheduled c section……we found out in the middle of surgery that I had a hole in my uterus big enough to deliver our son out of without an incision!!! Right then and there, I promised myself that I would no longer ignore my gut feelings and I would demand answers when I didn’t feel right! It’s a miracle our son and I made it out not only alive, but with NO complications. Praise God!

Following this experience I fell into post partum depression. For a few months- but it felt like YEARS! Terrible. I lost all interest in life and my family. I also had spinal headaches and had to get a blood patch that was very painful and pretty much locked up my back for a few days. I couldn’t move. I also had my tubes tied, when they found that my uterus was attached to the lining of my abdomen with scar tissue making for a longer surgery. But we made it out ok and I was ok with that!

I had also started back to work and noticed my vision wasn’t the 20/20 I had always had. Signs were starting to get blurry. I went in and got a prescription and some new glasses, only after a week of trying to get used to them they just weren’t working. I went back in to try and correct the prescription with no luck. I returned the glasses and have just dealt with the blurriness when it shows up. It is not all the time. I also had an episode at work where all of a sudden I just couldn’t handle it. I sat and cried and felt shaky and disoriented and dizzy and was sent home.

After recovering from that whole ordeal, life was great! I felt like myself again! In fact, feeling very optimistic about the future! In between “episodes” I always feel great. I feel like I can take on the world!

Then about 5 months later, I was taking a marketing class at the local college and started to get a headache. No biggie. Ok, that’s a lie. The headache got so bad. I started to get super shaky and disoriented. I tried to drive the 30 mins home but made it 5 mins, stopped on the side of the highway and called my husband. I had no idea what was going on! A whole list of symptoms I won’t bore you with sent me to the ER where they pretty much just blew me off and prescribed me Dramamine for my dizziness. I am calling this episode a panic attack for lack of any other information from doctors on what it could have been. I felt like I had a heart attack.

Now here we are – 4 months later and I am having new symptoms along with old ones and feeling so unlike myself I’m at a loss. I am getting clumsy, knocking things over and mis-aiming when I go to grab things. I have flushing in my face where I turn bright red and have a burning sensation. I feel like bugs are crawling on my scalp. I am freezing all day then having night sweats at night. I am dizzy pretty much 24/7 and having a hard time remembering what I’m doing. I have tingling in my back and severe itching in my right leg from the knee down. I have headaches often and fatigue. I am usually passed out on the couch by 8 pm.

I am waiting on insurance to go through any day now so I can start seeing a new doctor and get to the bottom of this. 15 years is too long to suffer and have zero answers. These “episodes” are getting more frequent and adding on more symptoms and all I really want is to be healthy so I can take care of my babies and husband and write this blog like my heart is hungry for!

Now maybe this is a mistake on my part, but I have been doing a little research. I confided in 2 friends – one who got diagnosed with Lyme disease recently and another who just got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis last January. I have researched each of these diseases and many like them and started looking into my family tree. My grandfather on my dad’s side suffered from Spinal Atrophy, which doctors thought was MS due to lack of MRI’s back then and I have very few memories of him using a walker, most memories are of him in a wheelchair. From my research, what he had is genetic.

Because this is a faith based blog and my number 1 goal is to always be transparent with my readers, I want to share with you that I am struggling. I am struggling to find a balance or an answer. Do I continue to dig in, research and find answers? Or do I have faith, like I am always talking about in my posts? Do I trust that God will heal me and cease all efforts to find answers? Does God want me to find answers so that my story can be a testimony of faith and healing for others? I am honestly in a period of uncertainty and I would love your grace during this incredibly confusing time. I have a deep, deep passion for this blog and all of the studies and posts that are part of it. I want to continue to bring hope to others through the story telling of my experiences and the transparency through which they are told. Please pray for me and our journey together as believers.

MUAH!! Thank you all.

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A Panic Attack or Two.

I have to admit something to you. I didn’t know I suffered from anxiety until just a year ago. And now that I know I do, I look back and I realize I really had my first symptoms of anxiety in 6th grade. It has manifested itself in many different ways over the years but now it doesn’t have to be a mystery anymore.

I went my whole life thinking maybe I had some mystery illness that the doctors couldn’t diagnose because it was so rare. I went through hundreds of frustrating doctors appointments and ER visits, tests and medications; only to go home with nothing. The doctors told me I was completely healthy! How could that be?

  • In middle school I would go 3 weeks without going to the bathroom. Because of that I didn’t have energy or an interest in playing. I couldn’t eat and I was pale as a ghost. I lost a lot of weight during this time.
  • Freshman year of college I would literally fall asleep driving just 20 minutes across town. I would have heart palpitations, dizziness and feelings that I was losing control. From the time I left high school to now, my weight has fluctuated 100 lbs up or down, weighing anywhere from 147 to 247.
  • In 2011, I would pass out at work and get so disoriented I would be putting staplers in people’s bags as I would check them out at the register.
  • During my pregnancy with our last kiddo (Carson), I would go into an empty room, lay down on the floor and just cry. I would go to town to run an errand and not return for 6 hours. I didn’t want kids or a husband anymore. I would stand at the stove and forget how to cook, then suddenly feel panic.
  • Just 4 months ago, I found myself on the side of the highway -splitting headache, so shaky I didn’t have the strength to drive. I found myself calling my husband asking if I should call an ambulance. I called my parents and could barely form complete sentences. I had pain in my jaw and arm along with chest pain and palpitations. I felt like I was having a heart attack.

I find each of these episodes to be directly related to a severe stress in my life.

  • In middle school, my parents divorced.
  • Freshman year of college, I broke up with my abusive (emotionally and physically) boyfriend.
  • In 2011, I had just given birth to my first daughter outside of marriage. Her paternal grandparents insisted I have an abortion or give her up for adoption and wanted nothing to do with us in the first months of her life. Then I broke up with her dad after 7 times of being cheated on.
  • During my pregnancy with our son, my husband was working out of state for 28 days at a time only to return home for 5 days before leaving again. I also, had some health complications (including a hole in my uterus big enough to deliver out of with no incision necessary!) all while seeing a doctor who refused me ultrasounds and did not believe me.
  • And finally, 4 months ago…..although I believe it to be a very positive move, we moved our family of 5 across the country from Colorado to North Carolina. Selling our house, considering bankruptcy, packing and driving for three days, all within just 2 short months. We now live 28 hours away from everything we knew and all of our family.

I am NOT writing about this so I can find a group who will attend my pity party. I wanted to write this because I KNOW there are people out there who suffer from anxiety, whether they know it or not. It is a very scary feeling. Once you do identify the source – anxiety – you have a choice to either take medication that will numb you or continue to suffer. I have chosen not to take medication this time, although I have in the past. I wanted to try natural ways like exercise, eating healthy, carving out quiet time and surrounding myself with people who mean something to me. It works. But it doesn’t work 100% of the time. I still have my days. I get sad, depressed, and confused. I overthink and doubt myself.

I think the thing that I’m learning though, is that God gave us emotions for a reason. Even Jesus cried. Don’t get down on yourself for feeling. Don’t envy people who seem to have more self control than you do. Can I tell you that I used to be the girl who never made a production out of her emotions. I never used to tell anyone how I was feeling and you could count on me to be even tempered through any situation. You know what that got me? Panic attacks.

Please, reach out to someone for a coffee date to chat. See a doctor. Cry when you need to cry. Scream when you need to scream. Most of all, please make time for yourself to do the things you were created to do.

*If you are a reader, I started and finished this book within a week during the deep parts of my anxiety. It isn’t even about anxiety specifically, but Shauna touches on a subject that effects all of us at one point or another. Present Over Perfect is a reflection of Shauna Niequist’s experience with making herself physically ill trying to do too much and how she overcame that feeling by saying no. I highly recommend this read if you are feeling even a little overwhelmed.

 

How God Brought Me Home

I didn’t know I wanted animals or kids. God gave me both. 3 of each, and all rescues. Well, two cats and a dog needed a loving home. The kids just need rescuing from ME some days! 😬 I also didn’t know I needed a home, but God gave me the South. 

Goodness, did he give me the South. Front porches, sweet tea and accents. Tall trees, rocking chairs and good cookin. Curvy country roads and antique shops sprinkled throughout the beautiful countryside. He brought me home.

Growing up mostly in Kansas and Colorado, I enjoyed such things as high mountains and wheat fields. Both, beautiful in their unique ways and each gifted me with wonderful memories. Please don’t take this as ungrateful, but for some reason I always felt a tug to be somewhere else. 

I can’t explain it anyway else than to just say I’M HOME NOW.

Do you know how I got here? Pain. Unfortunate circumstances. Depression and anxiety. Struggling relationships. Loss. Stress. Health problems. Financial struggles. Jealousy. Anger…..the list goes on. And I’m not talking about over the span of my life. I’m talking about a 6 month period. It took me getting pushed to my absolute rock bottom for me to finally open my ears and heart to God’s great plan.

The not knowing why is so so hard. We like to feel like we are in control and when we aren’t, we kind of lose it. When we are at our weakest – that’s when our desperate faith reveals itself. After all, it’s easy to say we have “faith” when everything is going our way.

Last winter when my husband got laid off from his career of 10 years, we were on the road to losing everything. It was down right humiliating. I even had the tow guy show up to reposess my vehicle right in the middle of a bible study I was hosting. 

We met with a realtor in an attempt to sell our house before losing it. We had like 3 weeks to sell it before we would have to go into short sale and possibly foreclosure. We were signing papers and I’ll never forget the realtor asking me how I was so calm. It was God. The only way I could have been calm in that moment was if he was providing me peace! My husband cane out to North Carolina for a week to scope things out and we both decided that if we had no offers on our current house by that Sunday, we would agree to short sale. Sunday morning – just 30 mins before they wanted to show the house- they called and asked if that was possible. For SOME reason the house was spotless, the kids were already bathed and ready for church early and my mom (who was living with us) was almost done getting ready. This is UNHEARD of with 3 kids haha They showed the house and that night (the last night we agreed to take an offer before short sale), the people made an offer for MORE than we had listed! God is absolutely amazing and I am in awe of how he makes good out of everything. Side note: Hubby and I had even talked about divorce during these months! 
We had the opportunity to move across the country to North Carolina. And we did. I had never been to the state or seen the house we would move into, but it just felt right. 

I must tell you, I think I’m a southern girl at heart. I thought maybe I was born in the South in a previous life or something! This was HOME from the second we pulled into town. Although, our license plates said “Colorado” and our lack of accents proved us out of towners, this was home and we knew it.

Within the first month of moving in, a sweet but homeless dog showed up on our porch. She was in sad shape. I wasn’t sure we would keep her but our oldest daughter immediatly said, “If we keep her can we name her Charlotte?” Long story short, we love Charlotte to the bone and she is the best dog I have ever had! After Charlotte, followed Sadie our sweet outdoor kitty. And we moved with our kitty Darla that we adopted from a friend before her move. I sit on the porch and just LOVE on those furry family members with a swelling heart! To those who knew me growing up, I was FAR from an animal owner lol

We live on 4 acres with no fences and lots of room for the kids and animals to run! It takes about 15 mins to get to the closest stores and schools. We don’t have good telephone service or a trash pickup service but I LOVE it. We get muddy and our kids walk barefoot and I couldn’t tell you one brand my kids wear, because that’s not important. The horses and goats at Papa and Granny D’s farm can’t read anyway. 🙂

Truth or Dare? How About Both.

Truth or Dare? How about both. I dare you to tell the truth.

For those of you (everyone, because I’ve never shared it online) who don’t know why this community of women and ministry aimed towards mothers is such a deep gutted passion of mine, you are about to find out.

You know that place of great sin, the place you filed in the very back of your memories so no one could find it including yourself? The place that we all pretend we have never been to and try daily to hide from our family and friends. The reason we dress really pretty and hold ourselves together in public. The reason we attend church weekly and join every bible study we can. The reason we do good deeds and await the approval of others. That place. That’s the place of great regret, shame and guilt from which this ministry is deep rooted.

I want to share with you how human I am. How imperfect and insecure I am. But I also want to share with you how much God doesn’t see us as those things. How he looks at us with the most loving eyes and gently moves the hair from our faces so that he can see us. The real us. And FORGIVE us! And GROW us. This particular part of my story focuses on my feelings towards motherhood and why it didn’t start out positive.

It begins when I was 17. But how could it start at 17? I am almost 28 and our oldest daughter is almost 7 so that means I had her when I was 21. The answer to that kills me. Our oldest daughter wasn’t my first pregnancy. I could tell you I had a miscarriage but that wouldn’t be true. It was my choice. The ultimate debate. Is it right or wrong to allow children at the age of 17 to decide if they will bring a child into the world or end it’s life before it begins? Right or wrong, I had an abortion. And that’s where this part of my story begins.

Did I feel regret? Did I go into a deep depression? No. I pretended like it didn’t happen. I went on with my senior year of high school just like any other girl my age. Attending school dances, joining the cross country team, going bowling with my friends and stressing because I thought term papers and boy troubles were just too much. You probably want to stop reading because you think I have no morals and something must be wrong with me to feel nothing after such a major event in my life. On the other hand, maybe you understand because you’ve gone through something traumatic enough that it made you numb to the entire world. If that’s you, thank you for understanding.

The next year I joined my boyfriend at college where he began to get violent with me and emotionally torment me. I was no longer able to make decisions for myself, drive to campus by myself, make phone calls on my cell phone by myself or even go to the bathroom by myself. I wasn’t allowed to. Somehow, though, God showed me the little bit of hope I had left and I gained strength enough to leave. So here I was, living on my own, 4 hours from my mom and 12 hours from my dad in an apartment with 3 other partying college girls and no idea how to make decisions for myself after having the right taken away for so long. Within the first week of moving in with these girls, one of them told me, “Oh girl, you haven’t partied right until you’ve peed the bed!” WHAT! This girl is crazy.

Problem is, I turned into her. Drinking myself into dangerous situations, passing out all over town, spending money like it grew on trees, not working, not going to class and eating everything in sight. Well you know where that got me? Broke, fat and sick. I had taken out a school loan large enough to cover all 4 years of school at this University and spent the entire thing in 8 months. I gained over 20 pounds and many more problems than that. I think it’s pretty obvious I did not stay at that school the next year. I moved closer to my mom and attended a small community college working towards my psychology degree. How fitting! Maybe I could get extra credit if they used me as an example in the mental health class.

I started dating someone new. I got pregnant within a few months of us dating…….by choice. Guys you thought the mess was over. It is only beginning. After announcing the pregnancy to his family, they were furious! They told me I was having an abortion. I refused. They told me I would put the baby up for adoption. I refused. After all else failed, they took our house, vehicle, horse…..everything away. I was working full time, sometimes overtime at Starbucks but began to get too dizzy to work. I was also attending classes when I could. He was hosting huge parties in our house while I studied, cheating on me, working about 16 hours a week at a gas station and using any little money we had to buy beer and chew.

We decided to give it one more chance after she was born and move away to go to a college where he could attend on a rodeo scholarship and start over. We were there not even two months when I had had enough. We were living in a trailer that shouldn’t have even been available to rent. Cupboards falling off the hinges, no air conditioning, and the list goes on.  I called my dad to come get our daughter and I and we made the very long trip to live in Colorado near my dad.

2 years later I started dating a new guy. This guy was different! He loved me, he loved my parents and he loved my daughter. He treated me so well I couldn’t help but doubt that it was real. I, again, got pregnant after only a few months of dating. We weren’t married. If God hadn’t given up on me with my first daughter, surely he had now. I knew I had let down my family and anyone else important to me. How much more screwed up could I get?? Well the story gets better after we had our daughter. We got married a year and a half later and FINALLY I did things right and we made the choice to have one more kid INSIDE marriage how God intended it.

Nothing ever goes that smoothly. I had a doctor who didn’t believe me when I told her something was wrong only to find out I had a hole in my uterus large enough to deliver our son out of. Followed by spinal headaches, blood patches and lots of pain and recovery. Followed by postpartum depression, my husband getting laid off, and a cross country move to North Carolina. Those who know me, know that that brings us to today! We are now living in North Carolina and God couldn’t have had a better plan! I feel more alive than I have in my entire life, my husband is reunited with his father and happily working for him in their family business and we are living the country life we have both dreamed of. God and I have talked everyday and had some major healing sessions. Ha. It would take many to bring me out of that mess!!

Ladies, I have never experienced something that feels SO RIGHT in my spirit. The ideas for this blog and all of the future plans that go along with it just came to me so effortlessly. God planted them into me after going through some major healing through forgiveness. To those who hurt me and to myself for hurting others. My past was not the result of a bunch of people hurting me, it was the result of my reacting out of my hurt and making bad decisions. And in their defense, they were only hurting me because they had hurts of their own. It is a viscous cycle. Hurt people hurt people.

You know what God says to that? I CHOOSE YOU. I HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU. I forgive you, now let’s use your MESS and turn it into a MESSAGE!!!!

Diamond in the Rough: A Letter to my Best Friend

Dear best friend of mine,

Let me start by having you watch this music video of Miranda Lambert’s new song Vice.

That’s where I was. Sitting right in the middle of my misery and all of the unhealthy ways to deal with it. Single mother of a beautiful baby girl; tender age of 1. 50/50 custody, week on week off. I got to see my baby for a week and then had to sit in my apartment alone while she was away. I was terrified to sit there in my own thoughts and motherly instincts.

What did I do instead? Well, I think it is pretty obvious. Alcohol and hangovers, places I shouldn’t have woken up at……moments in time I have no memory of. This is where I went when I couldn’t bear the thought of not rocking my baby to sleep, not kissing her soft cheeks, not dressing her up in frilly tutus and taking pictures of her at the park.

A week was over and I was back to being mom. A good mom. I loved that little girl and she was my main motivator in life. The reason I made a thousand hard choices that were good for us. The reason I moved us 2 states away so we no longer had to live in a run down trailer with no air conditioning in the heat of the Nebraska summer.

I finally found a job and daycare and was able to get out on our own after living with my dad. Freedom felt good, for about a week. Then it was loneliness. A place no one around me could relate to. I felt heavy judgement from others and tremendous guilt for my actions. The guilt and loneliness turned me into someone I didn’t recognize.

Urbandictionary.com defines a Diamond in the rough as:

Someone (or something) that has hidden exceptional characteristics and/or future potential, but currently lacks the final touches that would make them (or it) truly stand out from the crowd. (Urban Dictionary)

The phrase is metaphorical and relates to the fact that naturally occurring diamonds are quite ordinary at first glance, and that their true beauty as jewels is only realized through the cutting and polishing process.

During this time, I was fortunate enough to find friends from work who may not have been able to relate to my motherly issues, but who were broken too. Who weren’t afraid to talk about being broken and be broken with me. One stuck out to me, though.

You. You spoke life to me, maybe without realizing it. You told me that I was a good mother, that I was a good person and that I had potential. You even earned me an interview at work for a promotion. You certainly believed in me more than I did myself. You chose to see past my habits at the time and see the person who was underneath all of that. You gave me something to live up to. I didn’t want to let you down. You were such a comfort to me. Even though you had many hurts of your own, you chose to put your focus on raising me up and pouring life into me.

We are still friends and now we both have children. I have to say, you are the most wonderful mother a kid could ever ask for and it’s no wonder why. You pour life into people and if you are pouring into your kids like you poured into me, you are changing the world!

Loving and believing in people is what God has called us to do. Let’s be honest, we are all just good people who got hurt and turned into ugly people. There are definitely seasons of this. Either we are the people getting broken or the ones helping the broken. Both of these phases involve healing. We are always healing because this life will never stop fighting against us. We are constantly surrounded by temptations, addictions, hurt, sickness and a long list of others. Who are we to say that our hurt is bigger than someone else’s?

What we don’t know about someone is exactly what we would have to know to understand. 

I will never forget how you changed my life and continue to do so.

Love, Lakin ❤