I am marrying someone with a chronic illness.


I didn’t want to marry someone who had as much difficultly as I did in life. I wanted someone who had it all together – who didn’t have a hard time doing the things I do – who could take care of every part of me. Maybe somewhere in life I had been led to believe that I needed that. That I needed someone to take care of me all the time, and that there was only a specific way in which that could be done. I’ve learned differently.

So I had a list of qualities that made me think no one was good enough to do the job. They weren’t spectacular, but they were probably very different than others had. I guess I don’t really know what they all are anymore, because I think I’ve thrown those out the window in exchange for way more than I thought I needed.

Ray is perfect, for me. Not in the blah blah blah cliche way. But in the way that only God can possibly know what I need to take care of my soul, my body, and my heart.

He is a mess. And so am I. A big old beautiful mess.

When he was diagnosed with narcolepsy, I suppose that’s the time that I could have said, “Well, that’s going to be too hard, so nope.” That certainly wasn’t on my list of things I wanted in a husband. There are hard things about it. He can’t be scared because his legs will give out underneath him. (no, I’m not kidding – it’s called cataplexy) And there are certainly times in life when he’ll be scared and we can’t stop that. We have strict bed times. It’s not a lot of fun to live in the night all the way to 9:30pm before saying goodbye, but it’s what we have. The medicine is expensive, and if we don’t have it sometime in the future, we’re probably a bit out of luck. And maybe we’re naive (duh, who isn’t?) but we’ll deal with that when it comes.

Anyway, the point is, I’m marrying someone with a chronic illness. And I would recommend you do so too.

The thing is, we know we are very human because of chronic illness. I am sick, then he’s sick, and sometimes we’re sick on the same day. And those days are hard, but they are also full of love. We aren’t prideful because we are aware that it’s all pretty able to fall apart at any time. And we like our weird illnesses and the unique parts about us that challenge the other. I like to stay up late, but it’s healthier for me to go to bed. So marrying someone with narcolepsy makes me a better human – in a way I didn’t expect. Thanks God.

I’m marrying someone with a chronic illness and I’m really excited about it.

Pray for us, always, and forever, please. 🙂

…because love wins.

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Words I support.


I’m tired of people romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic. Coffee (though {sometimes} a delicious necessity) is not a food group, and running on fumes is not admirable. Why do we hold pedestals for sleepless nights, break downs and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self care, balance, the ability to  know when your body, mind, and spirit need to take a step back. Those are things we should admire. We have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment’ and self endangerment, because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine.Exertion

…because love wins.

The 25th year!


I think I’ve evaluated that life is often a walk to find the line between remaining optimistic and leading, and being jaded and hiding away. When I was 18, I was like most 18-year-olds and thought I knew just about everything that there was to know. And I did know enough to live through college, collect some awesome friends, do some jobs I love and decide on a wonderful boyfriend. But I certainly didn’t know everything.

It’s amazing to watch little kids look up to me and other people my age. I remember the first time that I realized they expected me to know everything for them. It’s amazing – and somewhat terrifying. But it’s a wonderful thing how loving someone and leading someone teaches you to make up your mind and be what you know you should be. That was one of the most memorable catalysts for growth in these 7 years.

So now I’m 25. I learned a lot since age 18. Here are 25 of those things.

  1. Eating healthy isn’t a fad. It decides an awful lot about how you succeed in life.
  2. You don’t know everything. Neither to do I.
  3. Apologies are real, and if they work, that’s awesome. But sometimes they don’t, and that’s likely not your fault.
  4. You never, ever, need to apologize for who you are. What you have done, yes, but who you are – no. Don’t. Ever.
  5. Mental illnesses suck, and are real, but also don’t decide a person’s character.
  6. I love Justin Bieber.
  7. God can take it when you’re angry at Him.
  8. You really aren’t likely going to know what God is always doing, but eventually you’ll make it through.
  9. Dating people is fun. Don’t be afraid to do that. Heatbreak heals. You’ll grow a lot.
  10. You don’t have to be friends with people that you don’t like.
  11. It’s okay for you to say no and have boundaries.
  12. LOVE YOURSELF. Do things that make you happy.
  13. Never stop dancing. Especially when you’re sad.
  14. Your mom and dad are people. They are different than you, and make mistakes. Not everything is their fault.
  15. Changing poopy diapers is a life skill everyone should have.
  16. Roommates found on Craigslist can be character building.
  17. Listen first. And sometimes just listen, if you have no idea what to say. You don’t always need to know what to say.
  18. Don’t walk away in the middle of an argument.
  19. Arguments and conflict are okay – learn how to fight fair and express emotions.
  20. People who look awesome sometimes make big mistakes. And things are redeemable.
  21. Driving with the windows down doesn’t get old.
  22. Smile wide, and often.
  23. Say what you mean. Try to figure out what you mean.
  24. God holds me so so so close. And I am so important.
  25. I am valuable, and should be treated as such. So are you.

So there you go. I have lots of cool things planned for the 25th year of my life. And Justin Bieber released a song for my birthday. What a guy. Have a wonderful day, lovelies!

…because love wins.

17 things I learned in the 17 years since I was diagnosed with childhood cancer.


March 11, 1998.

We never forget the days that change our lives. We never forget the moments that change our lives, as a matter of fact. I had one of those on that day. I haven’t forgotten it. I never will.

I had been walking with a limp for about 3 weeks. I was a totally healthy, vivacious, excited little girl. Here’s a picture!

Age 6. :)

Age 6. 🙂

See? Right? Totally healthy. But that knee pain I had wouldn’t go away.

On March 11th, 7:35am, I was walking to the school bus. About halfway there, I fell down. There was a serious sharp pain in my left knee. I remember thinking I didn’t want to look dumb (classic 3rd grade thought process) and it hurt. A lot a lot a lot. The bus was waiting, and it was a shorter distance to get on the bus than to go home, so I got on the bus. I went through my day, limping along, trying not to walk. I have no idea how I was even moving at all.

We had an appointment scheduled with my family doctor that afternoon. When I walked into the office, he told me that he hadn’t seen anyone ever limp like that. The reason? My femur was shattered. The reason?

Bone cancer.

I was 7 years old. I played basketball and giggled and tried to avoid going to sleep at night.

Cancer?

CANCER?

The next day started 49 weeks of chemotherapy, the removal of my leg and a procedure called Rotationplasty (You can learn about that here.) and way too many sharp needles, anesthesia and brokenhearted moments than I can consciously remember or that I should have had to go through as a human being, regardless of age.

So, in honor of the days that I have lived (happily) since then, I want to share with you 17 things that I have learned since March 11, 1998.

1. Life is short. 
Not in the cliche, “Yeah, people say that all the time…” way, but in the “Don’t wait until someone you love is dead in a car accident before you figure this out.” way. Seriously, it can all end right now, and you need to not worry what everyone thinks of you or feel bad when people don’t like you. Choose the way you want to live those short days and then do that. Live, please.

2. Kids die. 
And it sucks. It sucks way worse than someone who has lived to 80 years-old dying. I’m not saying any one life is more important than another, but I am telling you that burying my best friends (4 of them) by the age of 12 is horrendous and wrong. It’s so so so so wrong. Parents should not have to live all the years their kids were supposed to without them. Which leads me to…

3. There is a pathetic amount of money allotted for childhood cancer research. 
I had 49 weeks of poison (chemotherapy) that potentially ruined my heart, potentially took my ability to have children, and certainly made me throw up burning vomit way too many times. The saddest part is that it’s been 17 years and kids today are still taking the exact same awful drugs. With an 80% survival rate. (Which I would say is definitely much lower than 80.) And they haven’t figured out why a lot of my friends never lived and I did. There aren’t many people who took this stuff and grew into adulthood, so there’s not really a way for me to know what my future related to this stuff will bring. Please help. Follow this facebook page and do what it says: TheTruth365.

4. Haters are gonna hate.
There is a saying that goes something like, “In the world people are going to hate you, and people are going to love you, and none of it has anything to do with you.” People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed. (Thanks, Frozen!) So be graceful and don’t worry too much.

5. God is everywhere. 
You just have to let yourself listen. Even when the truth hurts. Especially when the truth hurts.

6. Illness isn’t terrifying.
Sometimes it is, I suppose, but for anyone who is the friend of someone with a chronic or serious illness, don’t leave said person or family alone. And don’t be upset if they want space or you say the wrong thing. But answer the phone at 2am, expect nothing, give real hugs, and be willing to be whatever they need.

7. You should love yourself. 
There is a complex that tends to come after someone has been through a near-death experience which includes putting everyone else first. And then putting everyone else first until that person is basically dead from never paying attention to themselves. So it’s good to take care of yourself. Paint and laugh and don’t let people use you. You deserve the best too.

8. I am handicapped. 
Lots of people are. In fact, we all are – face the fact. We all have something really wrong with our broken souls. And I think that’s a really important thing to remember when someone can’t help themselves and you have the opportunity to love them.

9. It’s not easy to talk about pain. 
I’m a professional speaker, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to talk through the agony that I experienced. There’s this fine line between people wanting to hear the truth and people thinking you’re asking for pity by sharing what you’ve felt. Pay no attention to those people. If you have pain, talk about it. If they choose not to listen, they lose.

10. People won’t always leave, and they won’t always leave you.
There’s my greatest fear. Now you know that. (Yay vulnerable!) I’m sure this grew from holding my friends’ hands while they died and thinking I would never be fully understood again, but in the years since that and some wonderful people in my life, I have learned that people won’t always leave. And I have learned that some people really really want to stay and love me if I let them be inside my heart. Give people a chance.

11. Healthy food isn’t just a fad. Tubing 2
Having a life threatening illness was pretty awful. But it also benefited me in great ways. Because I don’t like toxins because of that experience, I avoid them. And I am pretty particular about taking care of myself with what I put inside my body. And I know I live a more full, happier life because of it. Eat less Doritos and more broccoli. It’s worth it!

12. Downtime is not wasted time.
I laid in my bed for a really long time when I was sick. Like, about a year. And it’s clear that that time has not been wasted, even though I was doing nothing for 49 weeks. You’re human. Slow down. Life will come to you.

13. Sometimes hope just doesn’t feel real. 
There will be times in your life where you can’t hope. Where you realize that the thing that you have been hoping for for so long just isn’t going to happen. And that’s okay. Give up, cry, get mad, do whatever you need to do. Just because we don’t think there is hope doesn’t mean there isn’t. And it doesn’t mean that the days won’t get brighter again. They will.

14. Tie your brain to your heart. 
If you want to do something that really helps people, don’t just dream. Figure out what skills you need to tangibly do the work. For example, if you want to travel the world and feed homeless, start learning languages now. If you want to start a business, learn how to start a business. And then put your heart into your intellect.

15. Don’t take boredom for granted. 
I remember being 15 and telling my parents I was bored. But then I realized that I may be bored because my life is just okay at that time. And it’s not falling apart. And that means there’s goodness – and that’s not boring at all.

16. Bad things can still be bad years later, but they don’t have to rule you. 
I realize that there are some things from cancer which totally left me with PTSD. That’s the reality for my life, and I’ve accepted it. That’s pretty lame, but so are tsunamis, and I haven’t been through one of those. And some other people have to accept them in their lives. So it’s okay to not like things that happened to you. But that doesn’t mean they are in your now, or that they will take you down. Nah, there’s always healing, and always growth. And you’re good now. Just learn and live.

17. Jesus loves you. Jesus
I have tried this one out. I have searched the depth of my heart and society many times. I have watched people die, kids without parents in hospitals, and kids around the world who have no medical care and die just because of that. And there is still love – and love is the currency we should really use. Jesus is the only way to God, and there is one God, and He is Jesus’ father. And you know what? Whether you know it or not, He loves you. And He’s going to come back. Don’t wait to talk to him until your life doesn’t make sense anymore. Someone will always, always love you.

Here’s to 17 more years!

Love to you all.

…because love wins.

Christmas – when there’s no peace in your world.


I plenty of Christmas shopping this year. I had a great time, filling my cart with gifts for some of my closest and best friends and relatives. I also spent a lot of time in between my shopping watching other people. People were sad, or crabby. Or looked so stressed. And so I thought I would write a little about that.

The Christmas that I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy probably was the best Christmas my family has ever had. It probably should have been the worst one, but I was blessed with parents who knew how to make us a family no matter where we are. We didn’t have a lot of presents because our money went into medical bills. And we didn’t have a way to make a Christmas dinner, because we were in a hospital. But we had each other.

For many years from my teens through college, I was depressed. I guess I didn’t know that I was – I was just so tired all the time. But there were quite a few Christmas days when I was not the happiest camper. In fact, plenty where I was just sad – there wasn’t a reason. But those weren’t bad holiday memories either. Because I had my family.

This year, I’m not depressed, I have bouncing, happy kids in my family. Everyone is alive. And we’re together. And that matters. Yeah, there are gifts, but no one ever remembers what they unwrapped – they remember how they felt.

As a Christian, it’s really easy to remember our family and friends in our Christmas celebrations. But what about the people who don’t feel like celebrating? What about the people who just lost a child to cancer? What about the person who is mentally ill who’s been abandoned? Can we take our peace to those places, or do we close our eyes and look away, because there’s no joy on earth where there’s deep sorrow and grief? What about the people who aren’t together with anyone? Christmas for blog

Maybe you’re that person – who isn’t feeling the peace on earth this Christmas and you don’t feel comfortable just showing up to church. It’s okay. You don’t have to be anything more than you are. Just like Love came to the earth to bring us all peace, I hope that you know that there are people who think of you – and who may just show up on  your doorstep with cookies and ask if they can stay awhile.

Maybe you’re the person stressed buying gifts. Maybe it’s time to get rid of gifts, and start being the gift. I promise your stress will quickly become peace. Because no matter what, peace did come to earth. And because of that, we’ll never have to be without someone who loves us so.

Merry Christmas, dear friends. Merry Christmas.

…because love wins.

hksad

Beauty, beauty.


Your life is your lesson. You can’t change what people say to you, how they handle your quirks and imperfections, or even sometimes what you say when you’re not thinking. But you can learn. You can grow. And you can take everything we learned in school and make yourself the student, and life the teacher. Your life is your lesson. And you’re getting straight A’s.

…because love wins.

Some learning about ADHD.


I’ve decided that ADHD is worse than both depression and anxiety. I have also been able to see that not being close to someone who lives with a mental illness can make it very hard to understand what a mental illness even is. But I have learned that if you are close to someone with mental illness, you’ll learn a lot about the beauty of being human. Here’s why. 

Let me state this, as a follow up to my previous post – ADHD stinks. It’s up and down and triggered by all kinds of things. It involves the parts of the brain which need to be used to see problems. It’s like trying to process how to fix a machine through that broken machine, for the person living with it. Of course, this isn’t to say that people with ADHD can’t figure out life. But this is to say that some of them have to work way too hard to do that. 

Then there’s us. People who stand on the outside and see the symptoms of things:
Easily distracted. (Yeah, the shiny things jokes are funny for about 5 minutes, but not a lot after that.)
Wanting to be organized, and not being able to figure out why that’s challenging.
Lacking motivation (not that they don’t care).
Hard time understanding social cues and that being more surprising for them than others around them.
And anger. (I would be angry if I couldn’t understand what I was feeling or why I was too.)

If my brain wouldn’t let me see how I could get out of those things, I wouldn’t know that I was bound to live my life short of who I could be either. No one with ADHD is stupid because of it. They’re not awful. They may have developed some character difficulties, but I would have too. They’re wonderful, beautiful people. Who just happen to have a hard time fighting their own brain.

 

This has been a lot of learning about ADHD. And has me thinking I probably have a new passion to pursue in my life. 

…because love wins. 

Why ADHD is not a disorder.


I love my boyfriend.

A whole lot.

When I met him, he talked a lot. I was really depressed and that was totally annoying to me because I couldn’t handle anything. Once, we went to lunch and he talked for the whole hour straight. I couldn’t make more than 3 sentences fit together, but he struggled to be able to make 3 sentences make sense together. I used to talk a lot too. (Haha. I still do sometimes.) So I kind of understood that. I had just gotten out of a relationship, as had he. So, we had lots of learning to do. And this clearly was not a good place to start another relationship. But there was something cool about that guy.

A couple months passed and we talked here and there. He was loyal, passionate, a dreamer, compassionate, and lively. And that’s awesome. Everyone loves that. He loved that too. And I love that. After a while, I could see that his mind always ran in 100th gear. I asked him if he ever thought of ADHD being a thing in his life. I knew a couple people with it before, but he managed really well. I could just see how tired he would get listening to his head go so fast.

So I started doing some more research. Yeah, totally could be it. I had just been treated for my depression and therefore found it hard to not be researching mental illness and how to be healthy. Fast forward a long ways, some more meds for us both, some new learning, some work and school adaptations, and here we are.

We’re not perfect by any means. We’ll tell you that. But we do understand each other pretty well. And we understand grace in new ways now. Ray can focus better, and learn things with more silence in his brain. And pay attention to me. And I’m not breaking down because he struggles to give me attention. And I have learned to be able to recognize when he does his best. And he, my best.

But the point of this post is to express that I don’t think “Attention Deficit  Hyperactivity Disorder” should be called a disorder. As I look around at the adults in my life, I see an awful lot of them that exhibit the signs of adult ADHD. They speak without thinking, they spend foolishly, they can get confused, and sometimes they can just be mean because they’re overwhelmed. And that’s pretty interesting to me. Because obviously in this society, we aim for order. And peace. And straight lines. But, that’s not always what everyone is.

Energy is suppressed rather than re-directed. They’re misunderstood and disliked because of the way they state things. They probably don’t understand some key life pieces because they couldn’t learn them when they were little. But that doesn’t mean they’re broken. That just means they’re different. So maybe people need to draw a picture rather than read a paragraph. Or maybe they have incredible insights into the world to share. That doesn’t make them broken.

I don’t love ADHD. Neither does he. But, we do understand it. And we do know that it’s a part of our life. The sooner we stop hating the person with the ADHD, the easier it is to work with and around the ADHD. Because I’ll tell you, ADHD means that that person has been through a lot in life…simply dealing with their own minds. And that means that they understand people beautifully. They may be right on the verge of helping someone else…or reaching their full potential. But they just need someone to pay attention long enough to show them how to pay their own attention.

My boyfriend doesn’t have a disorder. He’s got different abilities than I do. And he knows Jesus in a new way because of that. Because Jesus is still the king of all.

…because love wins.