At age 22 while living in Mongolia I developed a severe chronic pain condition that effects every aspect of my life. Continuing this blog reminds me that life's challenges are stepping stones meant to lift us, not roadblocks meant to defeat us.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bad dream.

My goal is to be able to start writing without needing to say that I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed that I don't have much positive to say about this past week, and it is my fault. Things health wise are getting worse, I spent some time in the ER and after seeing a neurologist doctors think I have some kind of long lasting virus, not fibromyalgia. It is a mystery virus, so the plan is to try and get me to one of the MAYO clinics where there are more specialists. But for now longer lasting pain meds, a free month trial of netflix, and a determination to pray and study the scriptures more should help ;).
I had a funny dream today (some impressive nausea kept me from church, and the nausea medication kept me asleep). For the past few months I have been a bit sad to wake up because I was healthy and in mongolia, but not this time. It was a really realistic dream, I was back at school with roommates and I was really really frustrated and upset. As the days went on, I couldn't get happy, and I was mad at life. Other than being able to shrink my car and fit it in my backpack, it was a really realistic dream and such strong negative emotions, (at least that long lasting,) were new to me. And then hallelujah, I woke up!
Although we can't control all situations, we do have control over if we are happy or not thanks to the help that is available. I hope to be able to write soon and say that I am very very happy, and enjoying life :)
These things are on my to-do list...

- Talk to my Father. (Better sincere prayer every morning).
- Serve someone. (A simple note to a friend, make a gift, etc.)
- Be more kind to and appreciative of my family. (I am not used to being the recipient of service, and I can accept it more graciously.)
- Do something productive. (No matter how small. Learn a few more guitar cords, or paint a picture.)
- Count my blessings. (And don't forget them.)
- Read good books. (The best are the scriptures.)
- Learn how to shrink a car, and put it in a bag. (Just kidding.)

Hope everyone's week was great!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lessons Learned.

I am embarrassed to admit that I hit a low point this week, and felt pretty sorry for myself. Several of the past evenings it has felt like someone had mistaken my spine for their wet laundry and they were trying to wring it out, while both sides of my ribs felt like used punching bags, and my sternum and chest felt broken. I couldn't lay down or even lean against anything because of the pain, my muscles were cramping and twitching, and the pain medication wasn't helping like it usually does. My doctor noticed some unusual neurological symptoms and took me off of the medication that has been calming down my nerve's pain response until we could have a neurologist see me. I didn't think the medicine was helping much but now that I am off of it, I can tell it was. My pain receptors seem to be throwing quite the parties to make up for the for all the time they were blocked ;). So, I learned several things from this!

1 - Family support is so important.
My mom read to me this week like I was a little girl again. My brother set up movies on a bed to help distract me. My Dad prayed with me and blessed me. And my sister decided to do her school research paper on fibro myalgia so we can understand it better, and she has started listing all the treatments that have helped others for me to try. These things snapped me out of being sorry for myself, and instead made me realize how incredibly blessed and lucky I am. I am so incredibly grateful for my family.

2- Experience helps us empathize and increases our ability to serve.
I knew that a lot of people in this world suffer, but I had never experienced much suffering so I could only guess at what it would be like. This little sickness I have is nothing compared to what other people suffer from, but in a way I am grateful for this experience because of the new "eyes" it is giving me. I am studying to become a recreational therapist and we help all kinds of suffering people improve their quality of life. I hope I now will be able to sympathize with them a bit more, and be able to treat them a bit better. I also can see how important it was that Christ experienced all we do through the atonement. He can empathize perfectly, and is the most able to help and understand us.

3- When no other relief is available, Christ becomes essential.
I have seen how Christ and His gospel has added incredibly to my life up to this point, but for the first time I realized that without my knowledge of Him, I would go crazy. Literally. I wouldn't be able to put up with this, or see any purpose in life. I don't know how people who haven't felt His love get out of bed in the morning. And it made me want to share what I know all the more.

4 - So many have it so much harder than I do.
This is a short clip about one of those people. I first saw it on our church website, and this woman is a great example to me! If you have 8 minutes to spare, it is worth watching ;)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Poem. (not written by a poet.)

I am not a poet. In fact the only time I remember trying to write poetry was when it was for a 5th grade project, and we needed to make our own poetry books. I thought it was a very difficult assignment ;) But I was looking through a study journal I used in Mongolia today and I found this poem I had written a night or two before I flew to Hong Kong. Our mission president had asked us to study consecration and sanctification and so much was going through my mind as the possibility of my mission coming to an early close was becoming more of a reality. In those late last hours in Mongolia, these words came to my mind. I think the Lord was and is still trying to teach me.

I am still realizing what it really means to be in the Master's hands, and to surrender all to Him. I have taken some pottery and sculpting classes and I love the messy clay covered rooms, if you have ever worked with clay you can probably picture a room or studio covered with lumps of clay similar to the poem below. ;) I am still not sure what this poem should be called.

A master in his studio looks out at his supplies,

There is clay a plenty to fulfill his grand design.

He picks up a piece of clay and attempts to start,

But is interrupted by a cry, “Hey I’m not your piece of art!”

This clay is hardened, cracked and cold, shapeless and ugly too,

Then the master kindly explains “I have great plans for you.”

“If you will let me sculpt you, and will be moldable in my hands,

I shall make you beautiful. If you could only see my plan.”

But the stubborn clay refuses and remains cracked and dry,

“I can not shape or mould you” the master softly cries.

“You have become too hardened and refuse to follow my will.”

He placed it on the table, it remains cold and shapeless still.

He moves on and starts working and things are going fine,

This clay is soft and allows the master to shape his design.

It comes time to remove little pieces, unwanted clay from here and there,

But once again the master stops as a voice fills the air.

“Haven’t I been shaped enough? You’ve improved me with your hands,

Now don’t pick or take anymore, this is where the sculpting ends.”

The master sighs and thinks “If only they knew,”

And then he kindly explains “I have great plans for you.”

“If you will let me sculpt you, and will hold nothing back,

I shall make you beautiful, in nothing will you lack.”

But try as the master might the clay refused to give

The pieces that obstructed the beauty hid within.

Then a voice called across the room, “Master, use me.”

“I am of no worth here on my own, I will follow thee.”

The master gratefully gets to work, the clay following his every will,

The clay couldn’t see the grand design but he trusted the master’s skill.

The clay patiently endures as beauty is revealed,

But sculptures tools are sharp, and pain the clay did feel.

“Must the process be so rough?” the clay meekly asked,

“Thou are poking, cutting, ripping, pressing. Is it necessary for the task?”

“Yes my child,” the artist replies, “ thank you for giving me your trust,

I only remove that which is unwanted, and cause pain only when I must.”

The master smiles and says “I have great plans for you.

With your humble trust in me, there is nothing we can’t do.”

The clay replied “I know thou lovest thy creations, and only want our best.

I do not know thy grand design, but I don’t need to know the rest.”

The master keeps on working and today is shaping still,

There is no end to what he can create when we give all and follow His will.

We too are in the Master’s hands, what will we each do

When the Master kindly says, “I have great plans for you.”

I know how I want to answer that question, but actually doing it and putting up with the pokes and pricks is a bit harder ;) But when we can remember the reason for the pushing, pinching, and purifying we don't become bitter or angry. I've sculpted things before and it is completely necessary to remove pieces and cut things away. God is the artist, and can see all the unwanted pieces. And if He wants to change certain things about me, then I should let Him. ;)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It won't last forever.

I am laying on my bed while my lovely sister Tori is cleaning up our room for us. She holds up stuff and asks me where it should be put, and she cleans while I dictate. This is one of the hardest things for me about this new situation. I can’t clean my room by myself. And it is hard to unload the dishwasher, and to help my dad organize the garage. And mowing the lawn is now out of the question. I end up on a chair, or a couch, or a bed, and my family works around me. Now some might think that getting to lounge around and never needing to do chores would be pretty nice ;) And if you think of it that way i guess it is nice. But if you think of it as not being able to do the simplest of daily tasks without help, it is a little more frustrating.

I was talking to a friend last night and I mentioned how I just hope this won’t last forever and he immediately said “well we know it won’t last forever”. That is something my dad and doctors have been telling me since October, but as more time passed I found myself doubting that a bit. Last night my friend reminded me how comforting it is to remember that I do know that. I don’t just hope it, (well I do for the near future) but I do KNOW it. And thank goodness for that :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A new mission...

I am not exactly sure what to write. I am not sitting in a little internet cafe in Mongolia hoping that I can hit the send button before the power goes out, or we loose the internet connection. I don't have a week's worth of experiences teaching the gosple to people in their homes, trying to stop people on the street, or getting lost on the wrong bus. I don't have any interesting foods to report, and no funny language mixup stories to tell, so I have thought for a long time that this blog was done, and that I had nothing else to write.

But, I am still trying to get closer to Christ, and am having amazing experiences in the process. I am learning and experiencing new things, difficult things, and am realizing my blessings more than ever. I am not in mongolia, I am not wearing a black name tag with my name and Christ's, and I don't get up at 6:30 am, ;) but I started this blog so I could share my experiences about learning about Christ and helping others learn about him as well. And those experiences haven't, and will not, stop.

I am at home with my family in northern California (which is a beautiful and sunny state, the rolling hills and pure blue sky look so familiar, and are similar to mongolia). And I am sick. Well, kind of. I hurt a lot. I am grateful to know that whatever is ailing me is not dangerous, in fact I am quite healthy according to medical labs and tests. But this lack of definite results also means that we can't really explain what is going on, and we don't exactly know how to fix it. The current diagnosis is Fibro-myalgia. I didn't know much about this syndrom, and I am embarassed to say that at first I didn't believe it was a real thing. I asked my dad who is a doctor if Fibro-myalgia is even a real diagnosis, and He answered by saying " You are living it, you tell me if it is real or not." It is real. I am still impressed by how completely it can alter your life, and how a body can hurt so much without an obvious cause. Chronic pain is a monster. It stocks you, taunts you, teases you, and sometimes just plain controls you. I struggled for several months with some anger and depression, which I hear is quite common in chonic pain patients, but I know now more than ever that Christ is always there to heal us. It may not be a physical healing, but the soul is more imporant than the body anyways. Once we let Christ heal our hearts, we can experience peace and pain at the same time. Sometimes it is harder than others ;), but it is possible.
You know how little children hate taking medicine? They cry and scream, and can't understand why their parent would force them to drink something that tasts so bad. But we all know medicine helps, and it really is for their own good even though it tastes bad for a few seconds. I keep reminding myself that right now I am the kicking and crying child. My current situation tastes really bad, but a loving parent knows it will help me in the long run.

So this blog is now about my new mission. It is the same mission that each of you are trying to complete. The mission is to be worthy of the reward, happiness, and eternal life that Heavenly Father wants so badly to give to us, and to help those around us recieve it too :)