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To Coffee or Not to Coffee?

Growing up our family never drank coffee. My Dad hated the taste of it and my Mom didn’t like any sort of hot drink so I never even tasted coffee until I was an adult. Although we did have a coffee maker we would dust off for guests occasionally and pull our can of years-old coffee out of the freezer to make for them. I actually felt hugely bewildered and almost betrayed the last time I went home and watched as my Dad got coffee at church and found out my Mom drinks it every day. I was in shock. Apparently it’s a thing for them now.

Which I’m okay with because I love coffee. When I moved away from home, my world opened up to the wonderful smell of it in the morning and I grew to enjoy it. It wasn’t the caffeine (a little bit of caffeine makes me pretty shaky), I just loved the taste and the boldness in the morning. I didn’t drink it every day (also a HUGE tea fan…) but a lot of days.

You are probably wondering if I actually have a point with these ramblings or not. Guess you’ll have to wait and find out, huh? Fast forward to 2016. When I started having seizures, I was told that caffeine is a big trigger for most people. I did a little testing with myself and found that to be true. I figured that would be the case since I was already sensitive to caffeine. So I veerrryy sadly cut coffee (uh, because every sane person knows decaf is gross) and my favorite black teas out of my diet to prevent seizures.

Fast forward again (boy, we are just flying through time today, aren’t we?) to about 3 months ago. I was REALLY struggling. A major side effect of my meds is depression. They actually monitor you for it and ask you about it at every appointment. People, it’s a really hard place to be in. To force yourself to take medication that is (finally!) working for one thing but really hurting you emotionally. The meds were also making me SO tired and foggy that I was struggling to do anything. Every day was a battle. As weird as this sounds though, my relationship with the Lord was close. I was learning and growing in Him but struggling at the same time. It’s hard to explain.

And one day, I had had enough. I wanted some coffee and by golly I was going to have some. I did use a small amount of wisdom and got half-caff. It didn’t taste good at all but within a few minutes I could feel my brain becoming clear. The fog was dissipating some. And while I felt a little what I call “seizury” (I think I made that word up), nothing happened and my day ran better.

I have drank half-caff coffee pretty much every day since then. One cup. Actually using the amount they recommend. (Which is new for me. I was always dark roast all the way.) I have a little more energy, and my thoughts are better and more focused. I don’t live in that darkness that was hanging over me before. As best I can put it, the coffee is fighting the depression in some way. I absolutely DO NOT want to be put on medication for it because I know of side effects from those. (Can I mention here that I’m not recommending coffee as medication and if you and your doctor decide anti-depressants are needed, I’m not saying it’s wrong at all! I just don’t want to go that way.)

And the reason I’m telling you all this is because people keep mentioning that I look better and seem like I have more energy. Sometimes I’m at a loss of how to respond to that because for me, it feels fake. I know it’s simply the coffee. And if I were to take that away, things would go right back to how they were before. Back to foggy Kimmy, unable to accomplish or understand what she needs to do for the day. Is that who I am or is Coffee-Kimmy who I am? (Oh thank goodness, I’m just redeemed-Kimmy!)

So I contemplate and pray about this often. Does that seem ridiculous? Praying about coffee? Maybe it is and maybe I’m overthinking it. Anyway, in the interest of being transparent, I wanted to share and get your thoughts on the topic.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Two Cars, A Job, and a Great God

In case you didn’t know, on June 9th, I was officially 6 months seizure free! You’re probably thinking, “Hooray! So what?” Yeah, I know. But actually, it was a really big deal because you have to be seizure-free for a six month period before your driving privileges are graciously placed back in your hands. So yes, I WAS counting those days. Somehow, I thought it would be a pretty simple process but my doctor had to send forms to the BMV and they had to send forms to ME and I had to visit my local BMV so it took longer than I thought it would. Basically you have some of the slowest organizations communicating with each other over one person. No driving on 6/9 which was a bummer but that’s ok. All the paperwork eventually got in order, my new license came, and I’m now good to go.

The problem was, back in 2016, when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive for a while, I had sold my car. Car shopping is LITERALLY one of my least favorite things to do. Some people really like it. Not me. But that was next on the list. I looked and looked but I couldn’t find anything in my budget that actually still ran. Fortunately my work is a 3 minute walk away so it wasn’t an immediate need but still a need.

Enter Car #1: Edna. Some really good friends of mine had an extra car lying around their house. To be honest, they were planning a project with the engine because the car had some issues but they said that if I wanted it while I looked for something else, it was mine. No charge. They are really generous and I felt SO blessed. I’m not kidding. While everyone else saw the rust, smelled the mice, and heard the engine, I felt the freedom of having a car that was my own. Not having to coordinate rides to go to the store or see a friend. Being able to surprise my best friend by showing up at her house for the night. I knew it wasn’t a long term solution because there’s no way I would drive this car farther than 20 minutes from my house, but it worked for the short term.

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There was just one problem. Next month I have a rather significant birthday coming up. Not necessarily the number but what happens on that number. I have to come off my parents’ health insurance. Sad day. It’s been wonderful. I doubt they’ll miss me as much as I’ll miss them. πŸ™‚ And although I work full time now, they don’t offer insurance so I have been job hunting for a little while. A couple weeks ago, I was offered a position at a small bank. The hours are great (like, I don’t have to work till 9pm anymore!), they have full benefits, and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. It felt like a good fit but it’s around 30 minutes from my house and I honestly wasn’t sure my car would last long doing that every day.

Enter Car #2: Peri. I was pretty sure I was going to accept the job offer and see how long my car would make it before I had to get another one. Last Saturday though, I was thumbing through FaceBook and a car popped up on my feed. I wasn’t even on Marketplace or anything. It was just there. It caught my eye because it was a Honda but listed for several thousand less than Hondas run for around here. And I saw it two minutes after it was posted so I knew if I messaged the lady, I would have a good chance of being the first person. I contacted her and set up a time later that day to come look at it without really knowing why. I literally prayed on my way there, “Lord, I really can’t afford this car so I don’t see a point in test driving it. Why am I even going here?” But I went and not only was it super nice with regular maintenance and low mileage, it had several “extras” on it. Like a dark tint on the windows, black tire rims (which, apparently, is a cool thing?), new headlights ready to be put in, and a sound system complete with a subwoofer that takes up most of the trunk space. Actually, funny story on that. When I was looking at it, the owner excited told me to try the radio. I turned it on and up to about 7 and told her it sounded great. She looked kind of disappointed and said, “Oh. Well. I think it goes to about 50 or 75.” I asked her if I could pray about it and give her an answer the next day and she said she wouldn’t let anyone else look at it if I let her know by noon the following day. Which was super kind of her. (Oh, did I mention the owner was a believer???) The following day I told her I would take it but I asked if she would want to take the sound system out (because I certainly won’t use it) and would she be willing to take the cost of it off the car? Otherwise, I said she could leave it in and I will just take it out myself and sell it. She said she really didn’t know how to take it out but she would DROP THE PRICE OF THE CAR BY $200 and I could keep the sound system. I probably read that message 4-5 times before I responded because I wasn’t sure I had read it right. Uh, yeah, I’ll take the car.

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I told a friend of mine that I almost feel a little embarrassed by my car now because it has all these things on it that I would NEVER put on any car I owned simply because I wouldn’t spend the money on it. And she told me that it should just be a reminder of how great God has blessed me.

And she’s SO right. As I was driving home after signing off on Peri’s title I actually started crying, just amazed at how God works. How he not only provided one car that got me about for a short while, but yet another one that I can trust for long distances and my new job. How he provided the finances I needed. How he went above and beyond anything I would have even dreamed of asking for in a vehicle. I am amazed.

But I didn’t begin praising God when he started giving me things I wanted or needed. That’s not the reason he gets praise. He deserves it simply for being God. Everything else is simply another reason to thank him!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2018 in blessing

 

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Unworthy

One of my favorite ice-breaker questions is, “What is your very first memory? The first thing you can remember from your childhood?” This is a great conversation starter and you really can learn a lot about a person when you ask it. My very first memory is actually being potty-trained. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s true. I remember because when I would go to the bathroom, I would get sprinkles as a reward and I remember licking them off my hand and the colors would stay on my hand. And I didn’t like the round sprinkles as much because they would get stuck in the cracks of my fingers. Isn’t it crazy how vivid that is?? And it’s not from hearing people tell me the story because when I told my family this last Christmas, none of them remembered.

Seriously, think about it: what is your first memory? You might be surprised what you remember. And ask others- it’s always fun to see what friends remember.

So what’s with the sudden interest in memory? I had a virtual appointment with my doctor from Cleveland last week and I explained to her the memory issues I was having. She confirmed that it is a really common complaint with those that have epilepsy and it could just be from the epilepsy itself but it’s also a side effect of my meds. Because I’m finally seizure free, we aren’t willing to change up any medication so I’m kind of stuck there. I asked if anything could be done because I’m losing some long term memories but mostly having trouble with everything short term. Her answer was to keep notes and lists. -_-

One of the things I’ve really noticed me starting to forget that’s bugged me the most is Bible stories. I mean, seriously, these are stories I’ve heard and read since I was born and I can’t remember them! So I decided I needed to do an overview of the Bible. Some friends and I are currently reading through the Bible in 90 days. It’s a lot of reading a day but it’s totally worth it. We’re doing it through the Bible app and we can post a note each day on something God has taught us and that way we are learning from each other too. It’s really been a blessing so far.

Something that struck me was a verse in Genesis. Jacob was about to meet Esau and he was afraid of what Esau might do to him so he’s praying to the Lord. And part of his prayer says:

“And Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, “Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.'” Gen. 32:9-10

So on days when I get frustrated because I can’t remember things, or I feel exhausted from the meds, I WROTE THIS VERSE DOWN so I can remember it. Because I am not worthy of ANY of God’s love and faithfulness that he has shown me either. And I don’t want to forget that.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Thoughts from 1am

I used to shake my head and laugh at those bloggers who stayed up till all hours of the night writing out their posts because I knew that would never be me. And yet here I am at 1am in the morning, typing out a post because I’ve tried everything else to fall asleep and it’s not working.

I have a very good night time routine. I don’t eat anything in the late evening, stay off electronics right before bed, and I’m usually in bed between 10-10:30pm. I brush my teeth, take my meds, read my devos, and lay down. Usually my meds knock me out within 10 minutes and it’s all good. But tonight it’s not working. I laid down and a very intense feeling of rage came over me. Why? Good question. I’ve been trying to figure that out for two and a half hours. And why it has happened the last two nights also. A feeling of frustration and anger for no reason that makes me restless and unable to fall asleep. Then I remembered.

When I first started taking these meds, my emotions got really out of whack. Like, seriously bad. Picture the stereotypical teenager in puberty and that’s pretty much what I was like. One minute I would be nice and cheerful and the next ready to scream at the top of my lungs with no cause for the change. It was SO frustrating to suddenly feel out of control of my emotions but still be responsible for them! A friend of mine suggested that I start taking a natural supplement, St. John’s Wort. I’m kind of wary of natural remedies (apologies to every lady at my church!) because I haven’t had any success with them and get tired of hearing how they will solve all your problems. But this lady is an ER nurse (plus my doctor agreed that it was a good idea) so I begrudgingly decided to try it for a few weeks and my emotions leveled out to a manageable degree. I haven’t stopped taking it in probably a year or so.

Until Wednesday when I ran out and forgot to get more! Guess when the issues started. Yeah…

You know, sometimes I hate taking meds and that supplement because I don’t like feeling dependent on them. But this week has reminded me that the side effects of my medications are real and I can’t ignore them. We live in a fallen world where things: hearts, bodies, brains, etc are broken and need help. It’s okay to use what God has given us to help them. It’s good to take the meds and be grateful for them.

Okay, that’s all. Now maybe since I got that off my mind, I can get some sleep! Goodnight all!

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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What I Wish MY Church Knew About ME

In case you didn’t think memory loss was real, I’ve had this paper sitting on my desk for about a month now with blog ideas scribbled on it so that I wouldn’t forget them. I purposefully left it there to remind me to write a post. And what do you know today I sit down to write and behold, my paper (okay, to be honest, it was a prayer sheet from church…but hey…I have to write on whatever I find at the time…) was gone! I looked all over for it and then remembered that I cleaned off that area earlier this week and could I possibly have thrown it away?? Noooooo…surely not. So I went to my bedroom trash can and looked through it but no old prayer sheet. 😦 And I can’t search my main trash can because I did some crafting this morning and there is glitter and modge podge in there and EVERYONE knows you can’t open that back up.

All that to say this is pretty much the only post I remember from the list and I’m still waiting for the others to come back to my brain so this is what ya get today!

It has come to my attention that Sunday is usually the hardest day of the week for me and almost no one at my church knows it. It’s my fault. I’m really good at putting on a fake face, so good that I fool myself sometimes. I’m still learning to be more open with people. I know I need to work on it.

Sundays are hard because they require a lot of energy. Mental, spiritual, and emotional energy. There’s also pressure to be “put together and cheerful” although there shouldn’t be.

Sunday School starts at 9am. I walk to church (duh) which I love to do. Don’t get me wrong- I am surrounded (literally) by people who go to my church and would gladly give me a ride but I like the 11 minute walk there. If it’s raining, that’s another story lol. SS is great because it’s more interactive than church. But it requires more thinking and concentration- first energy drainer.

There is a half hour in between SS and worship to fellowship. My heart really likes that time because I get to talk with people and find out how they are doing. But sometimes it can be really hard, if I’m feeling lonely or tired, it’s hard to put myself out there and engage others- second energy drainer.

Worship is my favorite time because as stated before, I LOVE music! I wouldn’t trade the singing time for anything. But I also said before that the noise hurts my head most days. A lot of Sundays I think to myself, “Which would you prefer, Lord? Do you want me to stand up and be silent or would you like me to sit and actually sing? Because I’m not sure I have the energy to both stand AND sing right now.” -third energy drainer.

By this time, I’ve actually made it to the sermon. I will listen as much as I can but I won’t be able to tell you what it was about later. For instance, I can tell you my Pastor right now is preaching out of Titus on elder qualifications because we are in the middle of a pastor search but probably anyone who follows our Facebook page could say the same thing. Pretty sad, huh? Once in a while, something particular will catch my attention and will stick but not often. And taking notes actually makes it worse as weird as that sounds. I usually remember more from SS because of the interactive nature of that setting than from the sermon- fourth energy drainer.

And then I will walk home (or sometimes get a ride) to fall asleep on my couch for a while. Later that night, I’ll either go to small group or Sunday night church- fifth energy drainer.

You might be asking: why do you go if it’s so hard? I’ve asked myself that too sometimes and occasionally I need to leave early to give my brain a break. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it to fellowship with my brothers and sisters, to worship our Lord together, and to learn more about Him. My struggle is infinitely less than what he went through for me and he still counted the cost and thought it was worth it.Β What a good God!

But if you see me dazed or sleepy on a Sunday or doing something unusual (like the fact that I usually take off my shoes during the service lol…) come ask me about it and I’ll gladly explain.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2018 in church

 

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Theology for Dummies

Have you ever read any of the “For Dummies” books? You know which ones I mean?

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They are pretty iconic. I mean, most people would recognize them simply by the cover, even if you’ve never read one of the books. They have somewhere around 2,500 titles and over 2 million books in print. Crazy, right? The appeal is that they are easy to read for the average person and present the information in a design where the important stuff is made known so that you can recognize and remember it. I think I read one in high school but I don’t remember what it was.

But to be honest, I kind of stayed away from them because I didn’t like reading stuff written for “Dummies!” (Yeah, pride. I know.) I considered myself a pretty well-read person, for which you can thank my parents. My Dad used to read to us all the time as little kids and he can still recite the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” from memory. In fact, if I were to go home and my Dad was read a book to my younger siblings, I would be in the front row.

When we got older, my Mom read us books like King Arthur, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Canterbury Tales. We read a lot. I love books and reading. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (actually, I used to get in trouble for getting upset when people interrupted my reading…) Old English? No problem. Beowulf? Bring it on. Deep theology? My favorite.

But things are different now. My brain capacity and concentration capacity are different. And although the desire to read deep things is very real, I find myself wishing someone would write a “Theology for Dummies” book. Which sounds like a contradiction, I know. But I simply can’t comprehend the books I used to be able to read- which is SO frustrating! For instance, I’ve had Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I’ve probably started it 4-5 times and never been able to get past the first chapter because I don’t understand what I’m reading. No matter how many times I read the same sentence, I don’t get it. (Is there a kid’s version of this book??)

I used to be able to read several books at the same time and keep up with all the themes. Don’t believe me? Look what popped up on my Timehop today:

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This was what I was reading four years ago. I liked reading more than one book at a time so that if I didn’t feel like reading one book, I had another to turn to.

But not now. It’s been frustrating but also very humbling for me. The person who used to pride herself in reading the great books of the world has been brought down to the level of a child and is thankful that she can read at all! That person who used to have 6 books by her bed that she was reading all at once is now thankful to be able to open her Bible and comprehend one single verse in it. Thankful to find those authors that do write simply. Ultimately thankful that salvation isn’t for the wise or all-knowing people but that you just have to have faith like a child. That it’s simple. Just thankful.

 

But…if you happen to find a “Theology for Dummies”, let me know. πŸ˜‰

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in books, epilepsy

 

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It is Well

This morning, at 7:28am, I got a text from my best friend saying that a package was supposed to be delivered to my apartment around 7:30 so I probably wouldn’t want to get in the shower or anything. Sooo what I actually did was jump up, threw my morning hair into a messy bun, and scrambled into some semi-decent clothes, just in time to hear a very signature knock at my door. The knock gave it away because Natalie always knocks the same way and then I knew it was actually her and I needn’t have bothered.

She came because today marks 2 years from that very first seizure. It seems like sooo much longer than that- years longer. Two years ago, my life changed and went in a direction that I never expected. So she brought me an inside joke gift:

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If you read this post, then you know she did this once before when I hit another significant mark throughout this journey. Anyway, it was a great start to my morning! She is the best.

But today I want to talk about how epilepsy has effected yet another area of my life that I took for granted.

I have always loved music. I used to play piano, I took flute lessons for seven years, and it was a pretty rare day that we didn’t listen to some sort of music as kids. As an adult, I used to listen to music while I ran, while I cleaned, cooked, worked, etc. Almost constantly, I guess. It kind of ran my day.

Music is still very important to me but I have trouble listening to it now. My mind has trouble concentrating on things while listening to music and I almost CRAVE absolute silence. It’s really rare now for me to just turn on music as a background noise unless it’s for other people. That being said, I’m about to reference music and songs a lot, because they mean a lot to me. πŸ™‚

A song that is pretty popular right now and I actually really like is Even If by MercyMe. It is reminiscent of Job in my mind:

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

There is another line of that song that says, “Give me the strength to be able to sing, It is well with my soul.”Β I didn’t learn the truth of this phrase until recently. I grew up singing the song It is Well and my current church sings it every so often. But it wasn’t until this past year that I stood up to sing it and my mouth closed as I realized I would be lying if I spoke the words. As I stood there in silence, it occurred to me that it wasn’t well, it wasn’t okay! I was hurting in several different ways and It. Wasn’t. Well.

I knew it should be. You don’t have to tell me what the meaning behind the words is. I know about eternal perspective and focusing on Christ. But sometimes, temporary issues (whether they are physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or all put together!) cloud our vision of Christ. Some days, it’s REALLY hard to say, It is Well. Which is one reason I love the line from Even If, “Give me the strength…” Yes, Lord! How could we possibly be okay with earthly troubles unless God gives us the strength to lean into him?? Unless he gives us the strength to say (and mean) It is Well??

There have been quite a few songs that have helped me over the last two years. I’m going to reference one more. The chorus goes like this and pretty much sums up my life:

If I ever needed grace, it’s now
You are strong when I am weak, somehow
I am weak enough to see
I need You to cover me
If I ever needed grace, it’s now

 

(Jimmy Needham, If I Ever Needed Grace)

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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