Thursday, March 22, 2012

Only the good die young...

Oddly enough, I've been planning the title of this blog and the content of this blog long before it was Billy Joel week on American Idol...guess God's just good like that.

Those of you that know me really well, know that for a 26 year old, I have known quite a few people who have left this Earth far too least what their friends and family felt like was far too early...and is part of the reason why I fight these stupid diseases that ravage my body every day. When people on days like today, where you can look at me and tell there is no way I should be baking apple crisp in foods lab (I should at least be in bed and probably at the doctor or in the hospital), ask me over and over again why are you at school? Why don't you take a break? Why do you push yourself? It's because of my friends, my acquaintances, the people I've heard of that don't have the chance to fight, that don't have the chance to prove the doctors wrong, that don't have the chance any longer to show people what strength and beauty really looks like. It's because, for at least right now, any day that I wake up, is a day that God gifted me and gave purpose to me fulfill. I came across this quote on Pinterest that sums it up perfectly to me: "Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That's called purpose, you're alive for a reason." So I get out of bed every day because I can, it may hurt, but it makes me a better person to realize that there are people much worse off than me, and that I have friends that didn't get to live to be 26, and it just doesn't seem fair to them, in my opinion.

So let me tell you about some of my friends...and I may have left some out...because I am having a pretty crumby health week(s) and part of that is not remembering everything I have to say/want to I'm sure this will be pretty emotional to right so I might get sidetracked or whatever...but anyways...I wanted to let you, my readers, know about the awesome people that I have had the pleasure of meeting, that have inspired me in my life, and that were too good so they had to die young.

The first young person that I knew that died was Todd Carter, he was 16, he died the week of my 16th birthday in a car wreck. He was the star football player for our gigantic high school football team, dating a head cheerleader, went to youth group. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt. I didn't really know Todd that well besides the fact that he was so popular and I wanted to be his friend so bad and he was always nice and he was in my youth group. But his death still hit me super hard, because we were/were soon to be 16, we were invincible. I was supposed to be getting my license that week...I didn't by the way, I waited a while. I still remember at his funeral they played "Time of your life" by Green Day.

After that there were a slew of other kids I knew that either committed suicide or died in car wrecks. The next one that really hit me kind of hard though was Joe Shuford. He was the first young person, 18, that I knew that passed away from cancer. He went to my church in South Carolina. I was away at college when he passed away. I came home for that funeral too...but that wasn't really a funeral, that was a worship service. There was praising of God that I could not even imagine at that service. His little brother got up and talked about how he was so happy that his brother was in heaven with Jesus and could run and play football again with Todd (my other friend that had died previously), talk about crazy emotional. Joe knew he was going to die and decided that he was going to make it his mission to become a fisher or men. He had bumper stickers made up that said Joe, Fight, Win! that were seen all over town and still are seen all over town. He said that he knew God gave him the cancer so people would listen to him and God called us to be fishers of men and made it his goal to bring one person to Christ every day until he passed, and I'm sure he did that...if not more.

Later that same year; my first friend that I had in Charleston, the longest friend I had ever had, and the friend that I had put on the back burner and shunned because she wasn't popular in high school passed away in a car wreck, her name was Amanda Bates. We still were close in college and talked a lot, once I got away from the entrappings of the high school popularity contest. I, however, did find out she passed away on facebook. Which, let me tell you, is not the way to find out your best friend of 10+ years passed away. She passed in a car wreck as well, she was on the interstate with her 2 year old niece in the back seat and she turned around to hand her something and drove off the side of the road into a tree head on. She died instantly we were told. Her niece was just fine, thank God. Amanada is one of the most important people that has influenced me in my life. She taught me to always be prepared (she would have anything you needed on her at any time), she taught me to always be herself and not compromise who you are for the popular crowd (which I learned after high school, but from her), and she made me want to teach again. We always knew we were going to be teachers, but then I didn't want to teach when I first started college. After Amanda passed, I drifted back to teaching eventually. Her funeral, I really don't remember much of. I remember standing in the row with our group of friends from elementary school on (there were 4 of us in that row), and all of us virtually collapsing in each others arms as they carried her casket past us up to the front of the church. I had never been to a family member's funeral (besides my grandmothers when I was very young) but this was pretty dang close. I also remember that everyone there wore pink, because it was her favorite color.

I think the next person that I knew that passed away was my dad. Who wasn't that young (in comparison to the rest of this blog), and I didn't really love him or consider him good at the time or anything. But he was 49...and had a ton of health problems (surprise, surprise given my history, right?) And he had to have been good in some respect because at one point he loved my mom enough to have 2 kids with her. And, who isn't going to be upset when their dad passes least a little bit, no matter how absent they were. I remember when mom called and told me, I laughed because I thought she was joking. Then I realized she wasn't. It had always been a joke that he was dead because we thought he was for a while, then he came back, then he was gone, then he was dying in 2 weeks, in 2 months, etc, etc. So when mom calls me at like 11 o clock on a school night (I was teaching at this point) and tells me that my dad just died in heart surgery, of course I thought it was a family joke continuation. Then, of course, I realize it's 11 o clock on a school night and she's telling me I need to call the hospital and talk to them because I have to figure out what to do with his body and stuff because I'm the next of kin...and I don't even know him. I don't remember anything from that night but being very tired, driving around Salisbury in circles, numb. I don't think I cried for like a month or two. I don't think I thought it was real for that long. I honestly don't think I cried until the next death, which the anniversary of is today.

The reason I am writing this oh so joyful blog post today is because one year ago today another great friend passed away in a car wreck. Julie, 28, was the most beautiful, talented, fun to work with, joyful, passionate person I think I've ever met. She was always herself and she was so freaking beautiful being herself. She had fiery red hair and a personality to match. I worked with Julie at Escape the Daily Grind (a coffee shop) and got to be pretty decent friends with her. We would talk about such worldly things, Godly things, photography things. I would see her around town and no matter what she was doing she would sit there and have a 20 or 30 minute conversation with me, even if she was running a little late (which was often). She wanted to be a professional photographer and went to school for it so we didn't get to do things together alot because she was really only around in the summers andn I was usually gone then because I worked at camps. But she was amazing, inspiring, and so genuinely kind. She is another person that taught me never to compromise who I was for fitting in. We had such a great time whenever we worked together and loved listening to 95.7 the Ride and dancing in the back together while we washed dishes. We were two silly people together :) Julie was an inspiration to me, and her mom has been an inspiration to me since her passing. A very strong one, that keeps me focused and determined.

The next person that I knew that passed away too soon, was Vanessa Allred, 36, who passed away a couple of weeks ago. She had cancer, and she was a fighter. I didn't know V, pre cancer. But let me tell you, if someone has faith in God to do the impossible it is her. She would post the most breath taking, inspiring facebook status updates through all of her pain and through all the doctors telling her she can't do anything, etc, etc. She knew where her allegience's were to lay and she didn't go down without a fight. Her and her husband (who is the knight in shining armor every girl desires) were witnesses throughout her daily battle, right up until she passed away. Where she thanked her facebook friends for praying for her, wrote on her kids wall that she loved them, and wrote on her husbands wall that he was her hero, to which he immediately replied no, you are mine. Vanessa, was the type of person that would often message me, despite everything she was going through, and let me know that she was praying for me and hoped my pain would go away soon...right up until 3 days before she died. Vanessa, was one of the most selfless people I knew and am sorry I didn't get to know her before the cancer, because I'm sure she was awesome then too.

So there are just 6 examples in the life of one 26 year old of good, inspirational, amazing people dying way too young. So on days when I'm swollen, when I have intense pain, when I can barely move, when I am flushed, when I am nauseous, when I am so dizzy I pass out a couple of times, when I can't type or write, etc I remember when I'm in all this pain that I'm alive...and not everyone is that lucky. And I remember that I'm alive because God has a purpose for me, and I know that if I don't fulfill that purpose then I'm not doing what God wants me too and that isn't good. My purpose for that day may be to be in pain, or have symptoms so that I keep my passion for figuring out what is wrong with me and how to fix it in others. But if that's my purpose, that's my purpose, and who am I to deny God's will in my life. So please, if you are reading this, when I look like crap, and I keep fighting, don't tell me to go to bed and give up for the day, please just realize why I'm not. It says it right in the Bible in Romans 8:14-15, "God's spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He will come to us like the rain.

"Come on, let's go back to God. He hurt us, but He'll heal us. He hit us hard, but he'll put us right again. In a couple of days we'll feel better. By the third day he'll have made us brand new, alive and on our feet, fit to face Him. We're ready to study God, eager for God-knowledge. As sure as dawn breaks, so sure is His daily arrival. He comes as rain comes, as spring rain refreshing the ground." Hosea 6:3

"The thief only comes to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." John 10:10

It's been over a month since I wrote, but most of you have seen me since then. I basically haven't written since I got an iPad because there "isn't an app for that"...seriously...i only do things on my iPad now pretty much. First of all, it's super cool, second of all my laptop is pretty heavy and hurts me to use it. I got it because it was too heavy to carry my laptop to school and was becoming an issue so I bought an iPad to make it lighter but now I use that sucker for everything. Cooking, reading my Bible, reading my textbooks, taking notes, watching tv, playing games, etc, etc. That thing can do anything, but blogs apparently. Plus, it's hard to use the keyboard because I haven't gotten a keyboard attachment yet so it takes a while to type really long stuff on it aside from class notes. So anyways, that is my "excuse" for not writing, as well as the fact that school is super hard and exhausting. I was going to write when I got to Salisbury, but that didn't happen either because I was having way too much fun.

As most of you know, I had a friend pass away earlier this month and it just so happened to occur at the same time as spring break so I was able to go down to Salisbury for the memorial service and stayed for the week to catch up with some people and have some fun. If you all recall, the last time I was in Salisbury, I was super super sick and was forced to lay in bed the entire time I was there which highly upset me and it felt like I was wasting money. This was a different story. I was everywhere, for most of the day everyday. It was so nice to be able to see so many people and do so many things, etc, etc. I think it could of quite honestly be one of the only times in my life I've been in Salisbury and been relatively 'healthy'. That is kind of disturbing since I lived there for about 1/3of my life. I mean of course towards the end of the week, I was getting tired but I was still trucking on and made it home safely and healthy.

Since I've been home though, which has been about a week and a half, I have been slowly deteriorating. I believe there are several factors to this. First, I didn't really use spring break the best way I should have (to rest, duh) but I really needed to see my Salisbury family and say goodbye to V and it went really well. Second, I still haven't been able to get my remicade that, if you remember from my last blog post over a month ago, I wasn't able to get because I had pneumonia in January and February...which means I am about a month and a half over due for it now. No worries though I will be getting it on Thursday (barring any catastrophes). Third, school is wiping me out and stressing me out and pissing me off.

So for the health update part of the above. I have been in remission since January and I'm starting to flare just a teensy bit again; but, like I said I am over a month behind on my remicade and I'm stressed out. So those are both ways to let me flare easily. Besides that though, I've still been gaining weight. I am almost to 160 pounds now and I've had to buy new clothes several times. This is not a bad thing, I am not saying I'm fat, but it isn't good I'm gaining as much weight as I am this fast. I will definitely be talking to my rheumy about this next week. I also was doing better in terms of fibro pain (and thank God for the drugs making the trip to the Bury much easier) but now they basically aren't working at all anymore and I'm in worse pain than I ever was much of the time. I sweat all the time, have hot flashes all the time, my skin always looks flushed, etc, etc. My tachycardia is getting pretty bad and my shortness of breath is increasing too. I was hoping with the warmer weather I would be able to go walk around outside some and try to get a little bit in shape, but I think the heat is making my symptoms worse instead of better like I predicted so that is not making me happy. I also am losing complete control/motion in my right hand, it is also trying to turn blue a lot of the time and be numb/dead most of the time. We are trying to find a surgeon that will do a surgery that was recommended to me last summer, but I chose not to do it then. Now though it's do the surgery or have no use of my right hand. That is about it health wise, which is a lot, but still trucking a long.

The reason that school is stressing me out, pissing me off, and exhausting me is because well a lot of reasons. Exhausting me is obvious, I am extremely sick taking 3 lab science classes, one very intense nutrition course, and one class that is so stupid and boring but meets 6 hours a week and makes me mad. It takes everything I have to get out of bed and go to school, especially this week. But I really do want this, so I am going to give it my all. School is stressing me out because dietetics applications were due last week, which means that I'm in the waiting game. We are waiting on interviews and waiting to find out if we get into the program. 8 undergrads and 8 graduate students get in. At last count there were 25 people applying total for the 16 spaces, but I don't know what the breakdown is for graduate/undergraduate in there so I don't know my exact odds. I am applying for the graduate program obviously, which usually has more applicants than the undergrad program so we'll see. Hopefully I'll know soon. School is pissing me off because I am just now realizing the value of that 120,000 dollar Catawba education I got. When I first graduated I thought it was not worth the money. However, I did get a job right after graduation and every single day I felt challenged at Catawba. Was forced to think out of the box, etc. At ISU, while I am learning, it is not in the way that I would like to. I have more than one professor that tells me to google the information I need to know, and most of the professors waste my time by reading me powerpoints that I've had since the first day of class. This would not happen at Catawba, and I bet the teachers at this school don't get paid as much as they do at Catawba, which sucks. So that is my two cents on state schools versus private schools right now.

Anyways, back to the references at the beginning of this post. I am feeling very blah with my faith right now. Like not that I don't believe in Him, just that I'm not trusting Him or realizing how much He has brought me through recently I guess. I guess, not really giving Him the "props He deserves". I know that God is here and that without God I would be no where near where I am today and no where near the health level I'm at today. But when I have these strings of bad days, and the pain is almost unbearable, and my friends pass away and aren't healed, and so on and so's hard to remember that He is here. But He is, and He is good, and He makes beautiful things. And He never promised it would be easy...I just have to remember to keep fighting the good fight and fight it for Him and my friends that have gone on to be with Him. I just need to keep reminding myself that even though He hurt me, He will heal me, and He will make me brand day