Where is my Happy?

I had an emotional time at church this morning.

I want you to know…

I complain (here).  I scream (here).  I whine (here).  I cry (here).

But, I really do want to be happy.


I am striving to be more mindful that today is His Day.

At church this morning, the lesson I taught in Relief Society was on the Temple and how to make that a symbol of our membership.  It was a great discussion and I felt the Spirit.  I am very grateful.

I have several posts half-written still in my drafts folder.  About my kidney scan and mammogram appointment, the telephone call I never imagined I would ever make, my thoughts and fears about the Disability Hearing date finally being set (next month!), all added to the 5 year anniversary (July 2011) of my life becoming all this.

Life is crazy.  My life is nuts.  I continue to strive to enjoy my life.  That is such a foreign concept to me now.  Enjoy life?  I know it’s a blessing to me.  Although, it’s been so incredibly difficult and painful these past 5 years, I’m doing all I can to find the balance.

Even today.



Well, that’s new

Something happened to me at church today, and I really didn’t like it.  I teach Relief Society once a month and this morning during the lesson I got very dizzy and lost my balance.  (Thankfully I didn’t faceplant).  I was embarrassed and really scared.  I know that most of the sisters thought I was getting emotional about what I was reading, although a few sisters (who know my history) knew exactly what was happening.

I was fighting a headache all morning.  Then that happened.  It kind of felt like I was on a roller coaster ride and it was still moving, although I wasn’t.  I grabbed a chair and very carefully sat down on it.  It was the weirdest thing.  Sure, I get dizzy when I lay down for bed.  Or, when I’m turning over in bed.  Or, when I am walking and I look down, or any such thing.  But, this was new.  And, I didn’t like it.

I guess this is brain tumor life.  Or, Lhermitte-duclos life.  Or, brain surgery life.  Who knows.  It’s just terrifying.  Scary, unknown stuff and I’m scared this dizzy crap is going to start really interfering with my quality of life.

Crap.  Freaking crap crap crap.

Sunday Funday

Why is it that I seem to think of blog posts as I am rushing to get to church each week?


I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I have a calling to teach the women of  Relief Society each month from the Teachings of the Joseph Fielding Smith.

Since I am a substitute teacher I think often of how I can present my lesson material to the sisters to make it interesting and engaging.  Each month, I read the lesson and choose several sections that I think we can cover during the hour.  I read the Section Question aloud to the sisters; then we all read together (or “Popcorn” as some teachers may know it to be called); then I read the question again at the end of the section and hopefully we have a great discussion about what was just read.   🙂

Last month I had prepared a different way to give my lesson.  I friend of mine who is a 2nd grade teacher, and also taught for Relief Society last month as a substitute, shared this method with me and I really felt good about it.  “Let’s do it!”, I thought to myself.  I was excited.  I had prepared.  I thought the lesson would be great!  Interesting!  Engaging!  Participation to the “T”!  I was ready to go!

Except for one thing.

That morning I felt sick.  Scared.  Nervous.  Uneasy.  Unhinged.  I could not figure it out!  I shouldn’t be nervous to stand before these women – most of them have known me since birth.  It was the oddest feeling.  I couldn’t much put my finger on it.  I just knew something was different.  Was it me?  Why was I doubting things and my ability?  What was going on?  What was up?  Right before class I was reviewing the chapter and a sister came over to me to visit.  I shared with her my feelings, and I said to her that I wondered if this was the Spirit telling me something?  She said that there was a difference between doubting my ability and receiving an impression from the Holy Ghost.  OF COURSE she was right.  I just didn’t know how to tell which was which!

Even as I walked into the Relief Society room I had no idea which was I was going to teach the lesson.  As I walked up to the podium, I began to talk.  Sometimes like to make small jokes (nothing inappropriate) but I say that I am OK with throwing myself under the bus as long as *I* am the one doing it.  🙂  And I shared my dilemma about which way I was going to present my lesson to them.  The:

  1. Standard, old hat, way I always had.
  2. Group the sisters according to Sections in the lesson.  Give them about 10 minutes to read then go ahead.  My wish in doing this was to generate more discussion between them, instead of me talking “at” them for the entire time (which is how I felt I had done it).

And, I just went into #1.  The usual way I teach.

After the lesson was over I had a few women tell me that they really dislike lessons using #2.  And another one told me last week that she was glad I chose #1 because it was “something I was good at”. 

In hindsight I am very glad to have had this experience.  While I am not the best at articulating things, it was good for me to have those “feelings” and to discern to the best of my ability and then give it my best shot.




Something really beautiful happened yesterday

I teach the 3rd Sundays at church in Relief Society.

Granted, I only remembered this past Thursday that my week was coming up (I still can’t believe I dropped the ball like that!) I panicked and prayed, and studied the lesson as best I possibly could. Yesterday’s lesson was Chapter 16 “That We May Become One.”

These last few days I had planned and prepared to teach parts 1, 3, and 5 of the lesson. Maybe not planned as well as I could or should have, but that’s another story.

As I finished teaching part 1 I looked at the pages that held parts 2 and 3, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was NOT to teach part 3. It was strong. It was palpable. The feeling was odd. It was like a big brick on my chest. I had to do a double take. I looked at part 3 but then my mind and vision was drawn towards part 2. That happened a couple of times. And for a moment I almost second-guessed myself and the Spirit, but thankfully, I listened to the Spirit.

I felt odd because even though I had read the entire lesson, I hadn’t prepared anything for part 2 so I felt very uneasy as the section continued. But before I knew it (I only looked at the clock 3 times!) Relief Society was over and I know that I left there feeling the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.

A sister approached me later and shared something personal with me. Part 3 (that I skipped) was a very difficult read for her as it resonated with her presently. And that I didn’t teach from that section was a blessing to her (my words).

I am so thankful I listened to the Spirit and followed the prompting I so strongly received. This experience was a testimony to me that the Lord knows the needs of the sisters in my ward and what they need to be taught.

Turn it around

This morning I was feeling very alone.

Wishing so badly that I had someone to talk to.

I’m here at church now. Some topics I’m listening to:

Obedience, fears and how to overcome them.

I am feeling better and I’m very thankful. The Lord knows ME. I am receiving confirmation of this all over the place today.

Stick to the Ship of Zion

engraving of Lorenzo Snow, 5th Prophet of the ...

engraving of Lorenzo Snow, 5th Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I taught Lesson 3 of the Lorenzo Snow Manual in Relief Society.  I really don’t think there could have been a better lesson for me to teach – FOR ME.  I felt the Spirit so strongly in the room and although I didn’t cover even 1/2 of the lesson material, I left there feeling so edified.  I know the Spirit taught me this morning and reminded me of the things I need to always strive for as I work on my Lifelong Conversion.  I joked with the Sisters and reminded them that teach high school students and kindergarteners.  I was a bit afraid that part of my teaching tools from either of those groups of students might overlap with the women this morning.  :)[I’m happy to share that no one got suspended and no one tattled on another sister.]

Conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t a one shot deal. It’s not done once baptism is complete.  This morning the sisters and I discussed our/when our testimonies became real for us; and why a testimony is a starting point only and not our end destination.  It was such an enriching discussion and I learned so much from the lesson today.  I didn’t become converted right at my baptism, and what I knew then is only a tiny miniscule of what I know today.  Which then leads me to the thought, “What do I want to know next month [about the Gospel]? Or next year?” Whatever it is…I must continue to become converted.

For me, I know I must always be growing and learning, always facing forward towards the Lord.  Over my lifetime, and especially during this last year and a half, I’ve been turned around.  Rather, I’ve been facing toward the Lord – but not immersed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I always want to be advancing in the principles of truth.  This calling as Relief Society Teacher has really honed my focus and reminded me of what I need to be doing/thinking/studying.  I ended my lesson with the paragraph beginning, “Stick with the ship of Zion”….if we stick with this ship we will be in the right direction for continuing our lifelong conversion.

Random acts of kindness


What beautiful flowers! (Yes – that’s my white tinsel tree from Target next to them, and who’s sitting with Santa in that blurry photo?) 🙂

An out-of-town friend came by my house last night and surprised me with these! Aren’t they gorgeous?

I was so touched by this kind gesture.

I hope that as 2013 begins we are all motivated to do little random acts of kindness for others. It can be as small as wishing someone a good day, listening to someone if they need to vent (NOTE:  I said listening…sometimes, all that’s needed is just for someone to be heard), paying someone a compliment, even smiling at someone!  At church this morning I complimented Sister L on her hair and how nice it looked.  (Sister L has known me since birth – and she’s one of the kindest women in the world.  She’s a widow and one of the old-timers [been in the ward for a long time].  I love her so much and just seeing her brings a smile to my face.  Literally.  I gave her this compliment from the bottom of my heart ~ in retrospect, not because of the gift of the flowers.  Just because I wanted to.  And I imagine that’s why my friend did this!  No thought of anything in return.  Just because!)

(SECOND NOTE:  Do semi colons belong in that above paragraph instead of commas?  Urg.  I can’t stand English grammar sometimes!)

I know that I will do all I can to pay this forward – especially since so much good will was paid towards me last summer (and continues to this day).  

As I say on Twitter, “Miracles are everywhere! Look for yours.”

A double order of panic with a side of awesomeness

EDIT:  Photo courtesy of:  photographybyjaana.com

I woke up today with tons of panic around me, more so than usual.  The realization that my money is running out is overwhelming me.  Dr. Mom is so wonderful and helps me as much as she can, but I have to come to realize…if I want to stay in subbing/education or do I look for something else?  Kind of sucks because I went to school to become a teacher and studied Special Education FOR HOW LONG…..?!  And I finally finish the coursework and AM THISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS close to finding a job…and no one will hire me.  Nice.  Not nice.

I am looking into a work at home business which I’m really encouraged about and feel really good about.  But I know things won’t happen over night.  As my Visiting Teacher told me – how neat it would be if I could have a bunch of small things going on to keep me busy.  Subbing, (I’ve looked into becoming a Notary and still want to do that), the one home business or maybe 2?  Who knows.  But I hate panic.  I also told Dr. Mom yesterday that “they” should really take out the 2 words “What if?” from the English Language.  It would really help me out a LOT.

I didn’t get a sub job today but I had already committed to babysit for a family I know.  MJ and I watched Dora, played Ants in the Pants (Your Pants?), shared some toast, and all around had a great morning.  But here’s the “awesomeness” I want to mention.  And I need to remember that I’m quiet enough (which is odd because I woke up to panic) to notice this awesomeness.

During our game we started together, “1……2……..3!” as we were snapping the plastic ants into the blue trousers.  During our craziness, out of the blue she crawled over and hugged me.  (We were sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Which works well for a 3-year-old.  Not too well for a 40-year-old.  Just sayin.)  🙂

I’m thankful I was able to sit back and see the miracle in that.  The miracle that children are; the gift that the Lord gave me in that small hug from MJ to help ease my angst if even just for today.

I wonder why people get brain tumors

Interesting.  Ponder about that for a bit.  Of course, you can add any horrific ANYTHING in place of “brain tumors”: cancer, heart attacks, strokes, Parkinson’s, etc.  Just sit on that thought for a while…

I was debating about whether I was going to write about this.  Something really special and beautiful happened to me today at church.  It was moving and priceless and I was going to keep it to myself.  But, then I decided I would go ahead and write about it.  For many reasons, but if nothing else to document it.  And to remember it.  And to look back on it in the future and re-read it if I needed to at some point. 

I wonder sometimes if Cowden’s would be “easier” to manage or deal with if I didn’t have Lhermitte-duclos disease.  I kind of think it would be.  For a few days I can actually forget about the brain tumors.  I can live my life with joy and laughter and think about my future and my hopes and dreams.

Then.  Today happened.  I was in the shower getting ready for church and I was overcome with emotions.  Fear and dread surrounded me.  Literally. I could feel it.  I was petrified and almost gave up my day and climbed back into bed.  All the questions started circling in my mind, the main one, “How am I going to live with the brain tumors?  What happens when they get bigger like CHUCK was and start causing me hydrocephalus again and my life changes?  I CHANGE?  I don’t want to change!  I don’t want the SHUNT.”  I have to tell you that the shunt scares me to death.  Literally.  That makes me ill to my core. I don’t know why.  I read about revision surgeries and all that stuff and I want to vomit.

Somehow, I bucked up and didn’t give up my day.  I went to church (albeit late, of course) and got to Primary and one of the little ones has to go to the restroom and I offered to take her.  We were there and I was making sure she was on track and getting ready to get back to Singing Time and then suddenly, out of the blue, I hear her start singing, “I am a Child of God…” then she gets stuck.  “And He….”

“How does it go after that?” – she asks me.

We then sang the rest of the words together.

I didn’t realize what a miracle and gift that was to me until later in Relief Society during testimony meeting.  It was very acutely clear to me that the Lord gave me that gift of singing with the Sunbeam to heal my heart of the pain, anguish, and fear I was overcome with earlier today.  And what a gift it was.  I’m glad I was aware to notice it and be grateful.

PS…take a moment and click on the link for the I am a Child of God.  Your heart will sing.  🙂