Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Busy, Happy Times

Its been an embarrassing six whole months since I posted! In a way that feels good because I have been so busy that I haven't felt the need to "write for therapy" like I usually do. On the other hand, I am feeling the panic that comes with not documenting my life. As I have mentioned before, I have a bad memory and a good imagination which means I rewrite the past a lot and its nice to have a record of how things really went ;)

Brian and I are doing well. We are so blessed to have such a loving and happy marriage. I am consciously grateful for him every single day.

I think the biggest news since my last post is that I am 23 weeks pregnant with our sweet baby girl. I can't even begin to describe how this makes me feel, but in some upcoming posts I am going to try.

Being pregnant is the most miraculous thing I have experienced so far. I feel so happy and overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my baby. I love watching my sweet husband as I grow and this becomes more real for him too. He looks so awestruck when he sees her on an ultrasound or feels her kick when he talks to my belly. I know she has so much to teach us and I feel so honored to get to be her mom. 
I am also in the craziness of my final year of nursing school. I feel surprisingly calm about it this week. The first week was just about a nightmare, I cried for the first two days and I felt lost and completely unprepared, and I knew my attitude was going to make school nearly impossible. I came home and prayed fervently that my Heavenly Father would help me find my focus again and my prayers were promptly answered. I need to keep up my end of the deal and continually pray and make time for scripture study because that is what is helping me keep things in the most peaceful and beautiful perspective. I am thankful to have compassionate instructors for my first rotation. They really want us to succeed and that helps to build my confidence for my very nerve wracking cardiac rotation that is just around the corner, but like always, I can do hard things!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Conference weekend

photo credit

I loved the little bird in this picture and the quote about hope. I have read a lot about hope over the past year and I believe its been an integral part of my coping.

This weekend was our stake conference at church. Our church is very organized. I love that. You can read about how the church is organized here. But briefly, its organized geographically into branches, wards, and stakes. We go to Pekin ward, which is part of the Peoria Stake. The leadership of the church is also organized. Some of our ecclesiatical leaders are referred to as general authorities. They have administrative responsibilities and they travel around speaking to congregations. These people are a big deal.

I wanted to briefly explain this because we were vistited by Elder David Baxter this weekend in Peoria. What an edifying experience I had listening to him! He spoke at the adult session of conference on Saturday night, and then again Sunday morning. On Saturday night, we sat and listened intently to him speak about hope in the midst of our trials. He shared some personal stories and gave some great advice with some American jokes tossed in. He is Scottish and he was fun to listen to because of his accent alone! I wish I could remember all of it, but I momentarily forgot everything he said when he turned to sit down and I noticed a very familiar scar on his head. It was nearly identical to Brian's. We left that night, but I really wished I knew what his scar was from. I made up my mind to meet him Sunday morning.

After conference Sunday, I started up to the front while Brian was cleaning up  and I changed my mind! I got nervous and decided I didn't want to introduce myself, but then my sweet friend Susy came up to me and asked if I noticed the scar. I said I did and I wanted to ask about it, but I didn't know if I should. She said "you should!" So with that, my courage was renewed and I went to stand in line. When I got up to the stand I shook Elder Baxter's hand and I introduced myself. I told him I very much enjoyed his talk from the night before and I just wondered if I could ask him a personal question. He said of course and I asked where he got his scar. He told me he had two cancerous brain tumors removed. I told him my husband had a very similar scar and he asked if my husband was the one who gave the opening prayer on Saturday, which he did. He said he noticed Brian's scar too, but didn't get a chance to talk to him about it.

Then we had a brief chat and I told him how afraid I was with Brian sick. He said he has always felt so much worse for his wife because as wives, we bear the burden of the stress. He said, "I just had surgery, took a lot of medicine, and slept a lot! She has done everything." Brian has said a very similar thing to me.

Then I had to ask when he got sick. My heart did sink a little when he told me it was just two and a half years ago. I so wanted him to tell me it was 25 years ago when he was Brian's age and he had surgery and did chemo and radiation and it still hasn't come back. My eyes began to well up with tears when I heard how recent it was, and I told him we just passed the one year mark. He asked how Brian was doing and I told him he is doing really well, and then he took my hand and said that we have his love and blessings.

I feel so grateful to have met and listened to this man. When he talks about overcoming sadness, trials, and depression, I believe him. He knows just what we are going through. So if he can find hope, so can I. It made such a difference for me. I felt very inspired.

Another thing I took from this conference was that oftentimes, we judge ourselves the very harshest. When we put ourselves on trial, we give much of our energy to the prosecution, but we must always be sure to listen to the defense. We have to strive to see the good in ourselves too, the victories both large and small. I struggle with this, so it was a great reminder.

I love conference weekends because I get to see church friends from all over that I don't get to see every Sunday. Its great to see how full the building is and you can really feel the spirit when everyone is together. A common theme of this conference was that God knows each of us personally and is mindful of us in our trials. I truly feel like this conference was for me and Elder Baxter was sent here just to help renew my faith that I have a Heavenly Father who is deeply concerned for me.  What a great reminder for all of us.

Love, Lindsey

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Day Weekend

I never felt like Valentine's Day was a big deal. We always did a card, and maybe dinner on the weekend, but nothing extravagant. It will always carry a special significance for me from now on though, as its the anniversary of Brian's first seizure. I'm not sure why a year feels like such a huge milestone for me. Maybe its because I've made a committment to myself to live a better, richer life, and a year seems like an appropriate amount of time to have adjusted to some of life's peaks and valleys.

I've noticed my stress level ebbing and flowing a lot lately. I never thought I would say this, but I am almost thankful for the little stresses of life (The girlfriend drama, do women ever grow up? The school stress. What am I going to make for dinner, and how am I going to get the laundry done?) if only because it means that the real problems in life are manageable right now. A year ago at this time, I was sitting in the hospital with my sweet Brian watching him get more and more swollen and just praying that pathology results would come back okay. Everything else fell far, far away and while I was overwhelmed, my priorities were straight. Take care of Brian. Get rest. Eat. Pray. Repeat.

Now that we are out of crisis mode, I have the freedom to add a few things that priority list, but the core remains the same. My marriage is my number one priority. Marriage is hard work. Even good marriages need serious maintenence so that they don't fall into disrepair, just like a house. When I don't clean my house for a week or two (who am I kidding? I haven't done a good deep clean in months!) I don't want to live in it. Like a house needs upkeep, so does a marriage. This means lots of communicating, and I get uncomfortable with maintenence conversations sometimes because I want to believe that Brian and I are just perfect for each other and things should always fall magically into place. Perspective is everything though, and knowing that these conversations don't mean that our marriage is broken, but that we are working to keep it healthy makes all the difference. We constantly grow as a couple, and it is so important never to take the blessing of our marriage for granted. We chose each other as companions, and we must choose also to progress together.

On that note, here is a little photo journey of how Brian swept me away this weekend to celebrate and decompress after a very tumultuous year.

I woke up early on Valentine's Day to make pink, heart-shaped pancakes for
my love, and when I came into the kitchen, I saw....

this lovely surprise!! Brian got us tickets for The Hobbit in IMAX 3D at Navy Pier
and we were spending the night in Chicago!
(Of course notice the Hobbit font which had me squealing with delight at 6am.)

We had a corner suite and it was great!
We ate at Fogo de Chao and came home and spent the night cuddling and digesting ;)

Day Two, almost Hobbit time!

For lunch we I had a New York dog with sour kraut and brown mustard,
and Brian had the "Ditka Dog" a footlong spicy polish sausage with chilli and cheese on french bread.
But that's not all, we topped it off with a mint chip dazzler!
It was delicious!

So sad...time to go home!


It really was the best Valentine's Day ever. I am so grateful for such a sweet Valentine. I am thankful that Brian is healthy and confident that he will continue to improve. Relationships are so important. Whether its a friendship, or a relationship with a significant other or your family, do not take it for granted. As humans we are programmed to depend on each other. Work hard to cultivate those connections. It is not a sign of weakness, but of strength when you can continually strive to thrive within your relationships.

I'm ever grateful for the strong and true relationships in my life.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Simple Prayers


I haven't felt like praying at all lately. I feel bad about it, but I just can't get motivated. I know God is aware of me though, even when I'm not talking to Him. This was evidenced to me in some simple, but profound ways this week.

Firstly, we had a visit from some friends from church the other night. I wasn't in the mood for company. I had a long clinical day and I had a two exams to study for. I decided to stress-bake some bread sticks so I could stress-eat some carbs while I waited for our company. I was listening of course to Coast to Coast like I always do in the kitchen and guest was talking about the power of prayer. He said he realized that he had been praying wrong his whole life. He always prayed a little selfishly for things that he wanted. He never asked what is was that God might want of him. Once he changed this behavior, he started getting answers.

Within a half hour, our company was here and the message they brought was about....you guessed it, prayer, and how God hears and answers our prayers. They even talked about praying for what we can do for God instead of just the things we want or need.

It has been my experience that when "coincidences" like that happen, its like a little text message from God that we should pay attention to.

Wednesday started off rough. I needed gas and when I got to the gas station, I realized I left my debit card at home so I had to go all the way back and get it. Then, since I had two exams that day, I decided I really needed all 18 grams of fat contained in a Little Debbie "gas station brownie" so I indulged. Breakfast of champions. I was downing it on the way to work and I bit down on something hard. Really hard. Gross. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to spit it out so badly, but I was in my new, good smelling car and I didn't want to risk a mess so I just swallowed really fast. I decided to tell myself that it was just a piece of walnut shell. Please let it just have been a piece of a walnut shell because I don't know what else it could have been and it makes me gag to think about it.

I arrived safely at school and as I was walking up the stairs trying to work off the 18 grams of fat from the crunchy brownie, I slipped and almost totally bit the dust. Thankfully, I caught myself.

As I sat down in class, the first good thing happened. I got a text from a friend I used to work with which just read, "Smile! Today will be a good day!" I did smile and I enjoyed the randomness of that text from a friend who had no idea how rocky my day started out.

My first test was hard. Like I got a C hard >.< Ouch. I was so flustered that I couldn't even study for my next test during my break. I was really stressing out about it. Once I got to the classroom, I sat down and put my head down on my desk and said a very simple prayer,

"Heavenly Father, I know I haven't been talking to you very much lately at all, and I know I don't really deserve it because I barely studied, but please, somehow, let me do okay on this test."

Our instructor walked in a minute later with the tests in hand and informed us that this test would be OPEN BOOK!!!!

Really quick:

"Wow, God, that was fast! Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

I think he knows and understands the heaviness of my heart right now. I think he gave me a little break with that one. Sometimes you need those instant gratification answers just because you do. I am really very thankful for the little blessings sprinkled throughout my stressful day.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcome 2013, glad you made it!

The anniversary of Brian's first seizure is coming up in a mere two weeks on Valentine's Day. I cannot believe its been a whole year since our life was turned upside down.

I have taken a very long break from blogging for several reasons. Mostly because I haven't felt like I have anything positive to share. I am depressed. 2012 was by far the worst year of my life. It just refused to get any better. It got worse and worse, culminating in our ride home from Virginia on New Year's Eve when I was the sickest I have been in a long time. Good Riddance 2012! There have been many struggles both public and private. I feel worn out and even a little bit bitter. My faith has been challenged in ways I couldn't  have imagined. I feel in many ways like I am being tested, and that I am being set up to fail.

By nature I am comfortable with melancholia. I like to listen to sad songs and watch movies that make me cry. I like to be alone a lot. But I do work hard to keep a positive attitude. I believe its very important to remember that happiness is a decision and an important one.

I decided that 2012 will remain the worst year of my life. I never want to have another one. 2013 is going to be a year of renewal for me. I am looking for ways to reclaim my joy. Its difficult to even write this because right now, I feel like I have a very long way to go and I am tired. And while my heart tells me that I may have more difficult years ahead, I don't want to revisit some of the dark places I have been in the past year. I want to learn to face my trials with faith and grace that I lack in this moment.

I am realizing that I am grieving the life I thought I would have, but that doesn't mean that I can't find hope and happiness in the life that I am living. I read a wonderful story the other day called The Refining Fire of Grief. There was an especially poignant analogy about a couple who's son suffered from a seizure disorder. One night, after they had put him to bed, they sat together in the other room watching him on the monitor. The husband remarked that he bet the baby felt totally abandoned all alone in the dark room. He didn't know his parents were just in the other room keeping a keen eye on him. And so it is with our Heavenly Father.

This passage from the article really resonates with me:

"When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that … [God] is able to make a way out of no way, and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows."
This thought reminded me that I could hope for a bright tomorrow without denying the darkness of today. I could keep my faith in God and hope for a happier future while allowing myself to grieve in the present.
Because God loved me and desired my progress, He would not spare me the refining fire of grief. But God made a way where there was no way. Not every loss can be healed in this life, but lives broken by grief can be healed. Because I remained close to God even when I could not see or hear Him, I felt Him when He reached out to me in my darkest night."
Some days I feel guilty like I have lost my faith if I give in to grief, but we are allowed to grieve as a way of increasing our faith, not giving up on it. Sometimes it is how we grow.

So, I have some ways that I plan on healing myself this year mentally, physically, and spiritually. First of all, I will always keep everyone updated on Brian's status, but I am getting out of the cancer rut. Brian is, for all intents and purposes, cancer free! His MRI's continue to remain stable and even show improvements from surgery which was an unexpected blessing. He is fully functioning, his memory is intact, he is able to work and serve others exhaustively to the point that I am moderately certain people are finding it easy to forget he is sick. His hair is coming back, and it matches the rest of his head! Thank goodness, no half curly/half straight like he feared. He has told me several times to quit making this blog all about cancer and talk about some other, more interesting things that don't make me depressed. So I am working on that idea.

I do believe that once your life is touched  by cancer, it never leaves your mind. So, I am going to find positive ways to channel those thoughts and feelings.

Physically, I want to start taking better care of myself. Last year, I started running. "Do it for two consecutive weeks," they said..."you will get addicted and love it," they said. Everyone who said that lied. So maybe I never did it for two weeks straight, but I KNOW I started and stopped at least fourteen times and guess what...still hate it. As a matter of fact, there is only one thing I hate more than running and that is brain cancer SO....I decided to run a 5K in June to support brain tumor research! I think my mom is even going to do it with me. I am excited but I definitely need my friends and family to hold me accountable. Because I really, really hate running. A lot.

I will be registering a team in the next few weeks so I will be sure to update.

I know that I can get out of this funk and as always, I am supremely grateful to our friends and family who have offered so much support over this last most difficult year of our lives together. I really don't know where I would be without the kindness of the ones we love.