Choosing A Season Of Joy

I’m baaaaack! A lot has gone on in the week and a half I took off, but I’m ready to write again and update you all on some new developments.

It’s been crazy rainy lately and my POTS symptoms seem to get aggravated during changes in weather. Something interesting about POTS is that it affects a bunch of important organs, and has trouble finding homeostasis when even minor changes are introduced. My physical therapist takes my blood pressure and heart rate every single session — before and after and sometimes during my workouts — and it’s crazy to see that whenever I feel symptomatic my blood pressure is super low, and my heart rate is higher than usual. One cool thing about people with chronic illnesses is that we really know our bodies well. I can almost always pinpoint what is physically wrong with me because of the way my symptoms are behaving. We are going to start looking at the barometric pressure and my blood pressure throughout the day, just as a little test to see how they compare since both of us have noticed this trend. I can’t wait until POTS has been studied better and we can just look up a million and one facts about it, and one day there can actually be a cure.

Which leads me to my next point. I have been trying to be really cognizant of the blessings I have in my life lately. It makes every obstacle a whole lot easier to tackle, and I have felt more peace and joy by looking at the great things God has given me, rather than focusing only on the pain or discomfort. Today, for example, I saw a sweet little bunny outside on our front lawn. He was eating part of our flowers, but I sat and watched him until he was ready to leave before I walked past him. While I was sitting on the porch I saw a little red robin fly into a puddle next to our yard, and he started to fluff his feathers and bathe himself. These two little moments made my heart so warm the rest of the night.

As far as wedding planning goes, we keep making slow and steady progress. Robert and I got our wedding bands this week and they’re absolutely perfect. I keep putting mine on every time I go to his house because I love it so much! I am super sentimental, so I love that he picked everything out for me, but it’s also just so me. I love his too, and I think he looks super handsome with a wedding band. I wrote a little message to him in it so he’ll always be reminded of how I feel when he looks at it. 🙂 Despite all the stress of planning, I keep realizing how fast this time is going by and reminding myself that the primary feeling of this time of engagement should be joy. We have four months to go as of today, and I am so, so excited.

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Forever Is A Long Time

When I first got sick with POTS, I asked the nurse if this illness would last forever. She told me yes it would, and I felt sick to my stomach. Tears streamed down my cheeks like they never have before — I’m someone who tries to hold them in until they just spill out — and for the first time in my life the future looked like a deep, dark hole.

Forever is a heck of a long time to have something new and frightening. I couldn’t walk ten feet without feeling like someone was spinning me around on a desk chair, and I didn’t want to keep living a life like this. I felt so much regret for the moments I had a working body and didn’t appreciate them. I regretted the many mistakes I’ve made as a human being because I felt like my illness was punishment for being a sinner. Most of all, though, I felt scared.

The best advice I got when I was diagnosed with POTS was to take each day and every hour as it came to me. My mother wisely told me to be gentle with myself, take care of each need as it arose, and ask for help whenever I needed it. The first year I was sick I asked for help with everything. I couldn’t walk to the kitchen to fetch myself a snack sometimes because I would faint (due to insanely low blood pressure) from not having enough salt. All I could really do was watch television, talk to friends, and eat. Even sleeping was difficult, despite being exhausted every hour of every day. I was too afraid to pray until I was so worn down all I could do was sit on the bathroom floor and cry out to God. I didn’t know how to ask to be healed, and I was angry with Him for selecting me to be a victim in something I didn’t even know was possible to happen to a 22-year-old. At least not to me.

My relationship with God is slowly being repaired. As I’ve gotten older and looked back on my experiences, I’ve realized that God wasn’t punishing me for anything by letting me get sick. I still don’t understand how illness works — I don’t know why He doesn’t always heal us when I know He can. That’s something that still breaks my heart sometimes when I think about it, but I try to remember the good that has come from this. Every dark story has light in it, even if it just starts off as a tiny little shimmer. If I hadn’t gotten sick I wouldn’t have met Robert. That’s an amazing enough change in my life that I feel blessed by it and wouldn’t change anything for the world. I wish I could tell that story in a blog post, however it would take too many words to put down on a screen.

I wouldn’t have created this blog if I hadn’t gotten sick. I would be working for a magazine instead, and I wouldn’t be able to have a platform to speak about whatever I want on. I have deep convictions that are so close to my heart, and I want to help make this world a little easier for everyone to be in. I want my legacy to be making people’s hearts be warm and secure. I want people to feel less alone in this amazingly tiny world. So despite how it sometimes feels, God hasn’t left me alone; I think He is just trying to use me through my hands, my voice, and my keyboard by making my pain turn into a light for Him. I still don’t know God nearly as well as I’d like to, but I know He’s trying so hard to get through to my heart. I know He is fighting for me every day, and that He loves me even when I mess up. Please know that He loves you too. Please don’t ever feel like your mistakes have created the dark things you have in your life today. Know that there is a light at the end of your tunnel, and that a blessing will come, sometimes in disguise, when you least expect it.

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Today’s lesson: Whatever you slap the “forever” label on that seems scary and daunting, please take it off. Know that our souls are forever, and God is forever, but sickness and pain don’t have to last forever. There is beautiful grace that is ours for the taking. I’m trying to learn how to get it. I’m starting small, by trying to connect to God just a little bit more than I have before. I will keep you all posted on my journey, and I will use this as a way to stay held accountable for working toward something that seems scary, but will be the biggest blessing I could ever think of.

“I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow”

How many times have you heard someone utter the words, “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” “I can’t wait until Friday,” or “I hate Mondays?” I find myself saying this on days I feel sick, lonely, or even just bored.

Somehow the future is always more bright, beautiful, and easier than today. Nobody warned us that there would still be trials, loss, and unplanned twists and turns where you least expect them. That being said, why do we still always hope for tomorrow to come, even when we have so many blessings today? I think a big part of it has to do with boredom. It’s hard to sit still and have a mundane schedule and so much easier to “live for today” when today is exciting and great.

Getting sick with POTS really opened my eyes to the harder parts of life. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned is that the future isn’t promised, and some dreams may never come true. You know what else I learned from these lessons, though? That this is all okay! I learned that you have the opportunity to grow and learn from trials, and that you can always handle so much more than you realize. I learned that sometimes the hardest thing you have to go through can turn into the biggest blessing you’ve ever had, and that God’s plan for you is even better than what you have planned for yourself. Finally, I learned that sometimes all you can do is take life one day at a time, and focusing too much on the future can actually be harmful when you are dealing with a particularly difficult trial.

Instead, on the harder days I try my best to list my blessings. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve surely seen my “Five Blessings” posts. This was the most recent one:

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Instead of having the mindset that life is going to be better tomorrow, count the blessings you have today. Don’t get me wrong; it can be really hard sometimes, but if you can find even just one thing to be grateful for, life quickly feels a little bit easier. Sometimes you need to just take baby steps, even if it’s just counting your blessings — one day at a time.


Update: Still trying to change my domain to KristaLauren.com, but it’s taking forever because I need technical help and it hasn’t been the biggest priority on my list. Keep in mind this site will be changing, though!