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.

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 11.40.30 PM.png

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.

There Are More Than Four Seasons In Life

Our mid-twenties are kind of a crazy time. Something I find so interesting is the incredible difference between people’s lives. Up through high school we all had so many similarities. We were all in school, spent our free time studying or doing some sort of hobby or sport, and we all relied on our parents to take care of us.

Once we graduated, most of us went off to college and had pretty standard experiences. There was more room for difference, but we all worried about similar things and had the same goal — to graduate and get a job.

Becoming an adult and trying to figure life out has been a new ballgame, and our Facebook newsfeeds are filled with such different journeys. Some of my friends are already married with kids, while others have crazy nights similar to those we saw in college. I see pictures of short skirts and clubs, and photos snuggling with babies in pajamas early on a Saturday night. There are other girls like me who are doggie moms, and then those who hope to be one day when they have enough time to spend on a pooch.

KM.png
Macy and I spent a Saturday night in watching a Taylor Swift concern on TV.
Ice Cream.png
One of our favorite activities on the weekend is going to get ice cream together! Macy usually ignores the dog treat and goes right for the vanilla cream.
jax.png
Jax is my little teenager and loves going on adventures at the dog park or around the lake. 

So many of my single friends are tired of being in a dating rut. Being in your mid/late twenties and trying to sift through dozens of guys on dating apps is hard work. Our hearts are made to love, and built for companionship. It is absolutely normal to desire a partner in crime to battle the trials in life with and celebrate the little wins you have every single day.

Just because you are seeing more and more engagements and marriages on social media does not mean that you are behind others in life if you don’t have a partner to spend it with yet. You may not have met the right person or finished everything you need to do as a single person. I believe that God’s timing is perfect, and that He often works in mysterious ways. Loneliness is one of the most difficult feelings to sit with, but if you try to learn from it and be productive throughout every season, in life you will reap the benefits in your future relationship.

Whether you are in a season of singleness or in a new season of partnership, make sure you try to live each day with a grateful heart. We always have something to be thankful for in life, and temporary loneliness can often create a new appreciation for companionship. Remember that feelings are fleeting and are not permanent. This is something that can be hard for someone who’s heart is led by feelings to realize, but it makes life a little easier when you know that a difficult season will eventually come to an end.

If you are struggling in a new season of companionship with someone — guys, trust me, I don’t have personal experience but I know the beginning of marriage can be a difficult adjustment too — know that this will pass, too. Learning how to live a life together and not getting to make decisions on your own can absolutely be trying. There is a reason so many people say the first year of marriage is the most difficult and I believe it’s because of all the new changes you must adjust to. There are little differences that you guys have which can get annoying — dietary needs, cleanliness in the home, and work schedules to name a few — and there are big life decisions that need to be made as a team. You will not see eye to eye on every single thing — after all, some of your differences are probably what united you in the first place and make you a better unit! You will, however, work through things together and continue to learn how to communicate with one another and grow from your disagreements. As long as mutual respect is kept in the relationship, this season of marriage will one day be in the past and have created an even stronger bond than you had before.

bike.png

Today’s lesson: Your story is unique, and everyone has a different time table for how their life is going to go. Just because many of your friends are experiencing one thing right now doesn’t mean you will today, too. Enjoy every minute of every day. Whether you are super-single and figuring out how to navigate the world by yourself, or are busy creating a family of your own, remember that life comes in seasons and as quickly as this one came to you it will one day be gone and you will be in a new season of life. 

Wait Up

Why are incredible people who are so ready for a relationship sometimes single for a lot longer than they’d like to be?

This is a question I don’t really have an answer to. I can tell you, though, that finding the right person is worth the wait. That you’ll never regret deciding not to settle. I know deep down to my core that being the most amazing version of yourself is the best way to continue making a difference in the world, and that your future partner in crime will absolutely love you for it.

Wait for the man who has been praying for you. He’s dated around, he knows what he wants, but he just hasn’t met you yet. I know it might sound goofy, but I have been praying for my future husband since I was a teenager. I knew whoever I was going to end up with must be pretty special if I’d eventually fall for him, so I wanted the best for him — even before I was a part of his story. I didn’t think of specifics when I thought about my future spouse, but I did think of life experiences. I hoped that before he met me he would have traveled a little, dated around, and gone on a few neat adventures that he could one day tell me about. I hoped that he was making good decisions and thinking of me on occasion, too.

There is someone, somewhere who is praying for you — or at the very least to find you. Prayers for your future spouse often include just actively looking for them, but I would like to encourage you to take it a step further and start praying for him. Pray for his well-being, for his relationships, and pray for his heart. Pray that he is learning more about himself, bettering himself, and learning how to have an empathetic heart. The way he is living his life today and what he’s doing for his future will one day be a part of your story, too.

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 11.06.52 AM

I know it can be difficult and frustrating when you’re still single looking for the right person to spend your life with, but remember that even though you might not be able to control when you meet him, you can still pray for him and hope that wherever he is in this world that he is building the best life he can and being respectful of your future relationship. Your future spouse is learning lessons about life, and finding out what he isn’t looking for in a relationship and getting another step closer to you. Prayer is always an action you can take when you feel helpless in a situation. At the end of the day, God has control over the things that seem uncontrollable anyway. Isn’t it comforting knowing that He is working for your best interest, even when it comes to finding the person you will one day marry?

Dating can be difficult when you’ve done it for a long time and haven’t met that special someone. Human hearts are created to love and be loved, and I believe many of us are wired to desire that one incredibly special relationship, especially as we get older. If you haven’t found your person yet remember that there is someone out there just waiting to meet you and looking for the amazing qualities you have to offer. When you feel down or frustrated about the way dating is going, try to look at the big picture and realize that your twenties will likely just be a very small part of your entire life. You might feel confused, lost, or frustrated sometimes, but one day you’ll be able to share these feelings with someone you know will be around for the long haul and look back on them as just a very normal season of life.

Trusting God’s Plan

One thing I really value in my life is security.

I think it’s because I haven’t always felt secure in my life or relationships. In the past I have been with people who make all the big life decisions without me, and I feel an overwhelming lack of control over my life with my illness. Helplessness is a familiar feeling, and it’s one that I despise more than anything else in this world.

Last night I prayed for the first time in awhile. I felt shaky and scared; there are so many different moving parts in my life, and I am a notorious worrier. Giving my concerns to God doesn’t give me as much peace as it should, and I think too much about the future and “what if” scenarios. I think this is something a lot of people from our generation struggle with. I’m not sure if it’s just because our twenties are so uncertain and there are a lot of big changes taking place or because it’s still the beginning of really being adults in the world, but either way I have so many friends who deal with the same exact concerns as me.

secure.png
Photo Credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries

I think God sometimes speaks to us in the smallest of ways. I believe in signs, so when I woke up and saw this photo on Proverbs 31 Ministries‘ Facebook page, my heart felt warm and full. I think this was God talking back to me to remind me to trust Him with every detail of my life.

After all, God hasn’t made any mistakes with my life yet. In fact, He has always known what is best for me, even when I think my life is going in one direction. My favorite examples to use are always ones from dating, so I’ll share the glimpse I got into God working in my life.

A few years back, I was worried about my first-ever relationship ending. It was scary because I had never gone through a breakup before, and I was paralyzed with fear of how it would affect me, how I would get through it, and whether or not I would ever find someone to love me again. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think most of us have a harder time with heartbreak the first time around.

As you all know, I made it through the breakup, and came out even stronger after the fact. I found plenty of guys who wanted to take me on a date, and I eventually fell in love again. This is where my “God moment” begins. The love I have found with Robert is incomparable to any other relationship I have had in my life. I am with someone who knows what compromise looks like, wants to know the desires of my heart, and makes me laugh on a regular basis. He cares about quality time the same way I do, and views relationships as the number one priority in life.

To this day I strongly believe the end of my old relationship is the biggest blessing I have ever received. I got to meet Robert — someone I now can’t imagine my life without. One of my biggest fears ended up materializing, but God knew so much better than I did that there was someone else out there who would be a much better fit for me. I think back to the day Robert and I first met in front of a little Italian restaurant and can’t believe how far we’ve come from that. I imagine it must have been fun for angels and God to gather to watch our love story unfold that day. To us, it was just another online date (Granted, it was the best first date I’ve ever had), but to the one Guy who knows everything, it was the beginning of a really beautiful love story. He knew what He was doing when He jumped through hoops to make us meet, and my heart should feel at ease that God will continue to work in my life and take care of me the way He always has before. I have absolutely no proof that God has ever left me behind or let me fall without Him, but I have such a special story of God taking care of my heart and knowing what was best for me before I even knew it myself.

I don’t have the right words to end my blog post today, so I’ll leave you with words that are much more beautiful than any I could come up with.

“Do not be anxious in anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

You Are Meant To Be Here

You know what’s such a mindblowingly amazing thing? There are 7.4 billion people in the world, and God decided He still needed you here. That’s how absolutely special you are.

Like, He thought about it and decided that we need a “Krista” somewhere on this earth, and He has a great purpose just for me. I can’t even really wrap my mind around that, other than the fact that I try my best to make a positive impact on those I come into contact with every day… Because maybe part of my purpose of being here on this earth is to help touch an individual — or a group of individuals. I don’t know what my big purpose in life is, but I do think I have a bunch of small reasons I am here and valuable to others, which are just as important.

There is absolutely a purpose each and every one of us is here, and my hope for you is that you realize that and continue to work toward whatever it is that makes your heart beat fast. I know for me that some of the scariest things I have done have been the most rewarding. The writing that makes me the most nervous to post on here is what really moves people and makes them feel less alone in the world. At the end of the day, I believe that’s one of the biggest reasons God created me — to help others realize their heart might feel a little broken sometimes, but that our Creator can heal them and put them back together again. It’s okay to feel lost in a broken world and as long as you keep pushing forward something beautiful can come from heartbreak.

Keep going, and never forget that you are loved, and that YOU MATTER. I can’t say that enough. You matter, you are loved, and you belong here.

flowers.jpg

Feature Friday: Capturing Beauty

“Tilt your head, you are gorgeous when you look at the camera like that!”

I laugh as my best friend cheers me on from behind the camera. It’s so ironic that she is a photographer; Audrey is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever known, and it’s funny that she found a passion to showcase others’ beauty. After doing two photoshoots with her I decided I had to take a picture or two of her every time we went out; after all, she should totally be in front of the camera too!

audrey.jpg

Audrey is blessed to be outwardly beautiful, but it’s her heart I love most. She is one of my very best friends, and that has absolutely nothing to do with looks and everything to do with character. Audrey is someone who has been a fiercely loyal friend since I met her, and even though we both want to do similar things in the world, we support each other and push each other to be better, rather than choosing to compete. I can always count on her to make me laugh when I want to cry, and be a great friend even when she has a million other things going on.

I have so many different stories I could write about Audrey, but today I wanted to focus a little on her journey to DC and how she has handled being a grounded twentysomething.

Krista:
You moved to DC without having a set plan or a job lined up, but everything worked out. This is a great example of your faith in God providing for our needs. How did you feel when you made such a big step?

Audrey:
At the time I decided to move to Washington I was attending college in a really tiny, snowy college town. I’m from Las Vegas so even just the idea of being cold is so upsetting to me — I don’t do snow! I remember thinking, “I would absolutely love to get out of here, but don’t see how that’s a possibility right now.” The thought of a few semesters left in my little college town also seemed a little daunting to this solar-powered girl.

I can’t describe why, but I sincerely just felt so good about moving. I had no plan, so even though I felt direction-less I applied for three internships — one in Texas, one in California, and one in DC. It was November and I was somehow hoping to score a last-minute winter internship. I have always been a firm believer that in life, we get what we are willing to work for. I think a lot of the time we sit back and wait for signs in life or big things to happen when really God is saying, “What are you waiting for? If you want it, go for it!” He can’t guide us if we aren’t willing to take that first step in the dark.

I was in class one day and got a call from a man who was the owner of a pretty prestigious company I had applied to in Washington, DC. He didn’t hesitate to tell me how under qualified he felt like I was for the position, and needless to say it was pretty intimidating. Nevertheless, he agreed to meet with me in person and two weeks later I found myself driving across the country.  Needless to say, that door closed and the next six weeks I felt like I was totally in the dark, but I kept applying, networking, and most importantly, I never stopped praying. I am now working at a job that is so perfect for me at this time in my life and I am tremendously grateful the internship didn’t work out. It is amazing how when a door closes it is often a blessing in disguise, and I think God blesses us when we keep our faith even if we can’t see the bigger picture at the time.

K:
Are you still happy with your decision to move here?

A:
I am so happy! And I mean, I get “Krista time” so what is not to love about that?! I think happiness is something we create, not something we magically find. Although I would be happy anywhere, the way things fell into place once I got here has seriously been so inspired. Since moving back I have had people come into my life in such incredible ways that I couldn’t imagine life without.

K:
What is your favorite thing about the DC area?

A:
I am from Nevada so growing up if we wanted to go to another state it was often an all day road trip. I love that I can get in my car or catch a train and in just a couple of hours I can be somewhere else entirely. DC also has such a contagious energy about it that I love but it also transforms at night and is so peaceful. You can spend a lot of money and go to an elaborate show and dinner or spend absolutely nothing at all walking around the monuments or in a museum and still have such a rewarding experience. The history and diversity here never cease to amaze me.

K:
You are someone I really love because you’ve never let a relationship, a job, or a busy schedule get in the way of your friendships. Have you always been like that? What advice would you give to girls trying to juggle a busy life?

A:
For me, life is all about finding the balance. I think in this area especially, everyone is busy but some people wear it as a badge of honor and I am just so not that way. I try to give everyone the best of me throughout the day and put my best face forward but then there are times when I just need to unwind and be with girlfriends and unwind over Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake Factory over a good vent sesh 😉 Ya feel me?

K:
Umm, of course I do!

We haven’t ever really been single at the same time, but our interactions never change when either of us gets a boyfriend. Do you think there’s a reason for this? What makes you value “girl time” as well as quality time with your boyfriend?

A:
Growing up my family didn’t communicate a ton. I was raised with a single mom who worked so hard to make a living for my brothers and I, but she was spread thin so my girl friends became my closest confidants. I think a lot of girls lose their identity in their boyfriends. A lot of the time people see relationships as the whole cake instead of the icing on the cake of life. Having a relationship with someone you love and trust is a beautiful thing, but you are both still individuals. At the end of the day most people are likely to go through a couple of relationships before they end up with the person they will marry, and when those relationships end you shouldn’t be calling up your girl friends like, “Hey… Remember me?” I think it is totally healthy to spend some time apart in relationships — it keeps you both satisfied and allows you to miss each other instead of having to do everything together. I also have the most fiercely loyal, hilarious, and loving friends in my life that just seem to get me. Who wouldn’t want girl time with friends like that!?

audrey2.jpg

K:
Something I find really cool about our relationship is that we both want similar things in life, but build each other up and share successes, rather than competing. What advice would you give to others in remaining supportive of their friends, rather than competing with them?

A:
When I was in high school I was really insecure. I had this small mindset that I needed to prove myself, but the only person I wasn’t good enough for was myself. As I got older I realized that I was really self destructive and then embarked on a journey where I was trying to be more self-aware. Once I shifted that way of thinking I learned that I not only found joy in my own accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those around me. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your own and I wish more women understood that. I remember having froyo “girl time” dates with you all the way back to my first year in college and we always wanted the same things, but I was always so impressed with this about you as well! Having humble but accomplished women in my life makes me want to be better — not bitter — and I wasted a lot of years being the latter. I would tell girls that felt this way to learn to genuinely be comfortable in their own skin and then start vocalizing to others things you genuinely admire about them instead of trying to lead with your own accomplishments. I am so uncomfortable around women who constantly try to make themselves look better than others. None of my girl friends are this way. It’s a shallow and small way to live. If you are threatened by someone else, look inside yourself. What is it about them that you are intimidated by and what is really triggering these emotions of insecurity and jealousy in you? Be honest with yourself and then face that head on.

K:
As I mentioned in your introduction, I always think it’s funny doing photoshoots with you because you are clearly someone who cameras just adore! What got you interested in photography?

A:
Haha oh man, I don’t see it that way, I just genuinely love doing it! I have always wanted to photograph people’s love stories and when I was little I remember looking through bridal magazines and being at weddings thinking how that would be my dream job — to capture those beautiful moments. I still have a long way to go but luckily we live in an era where you can learn absolutely anything and thanks to YouTube it is a lot easier to get a head start in something you don’t know a lot about.

K:
What is your favorite thing about photography?

A:
It is so fun to live in the moment but then that moment is gone and photography is something that helps us remember some of life’s sweetest moments forever. I wanted to be able to create something people can hold on to — whether that is a candid moment of two people dancing or a picture someone can look at that makes them smile because they feel beautiful or see themselves in a new light. I love creating that!

K:
If you could choose anyone in the world to photograph who would it be, and why?

A:
My nephew because he is such a sassy little stud. He’s like Bieber and is a little high maintenance about his crazy paparazzi aunt these days! I am not the kind of person to get starstruck or anything like that, so that’s a tough one. I seriously can’t think of a single celebrity I would really want to photograph over one of my friends or family members, but that’s just my personality. A couple of months ago I was doing a woman’s hair and makeup who was a single mom and had never really been pampered like that before. Afterward she looked in the mirror and got teary eyed and couldn’t stop smiling. I seriously live for moments like that with hair/makeup/and photography where I can help someone feel beautiful and see what I already see in them. I don’t see being a girly girl as something shallow or worldly but rather as something I have a knack for that I can use to help others smile and I love that.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 10.16.31 PM.png
This is one of many times Audrey did my hair and makeup for a little photoshoot. I am one spoiled girl!

If you’re interested in getting a photographer for something in the DMV, shoot me a message and I’ll connect you with Audrey!


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I’M MOVING!

In just a couple of weeks I will no longer be on this website. My dating life changed a loooong time ago, so I am finally taking the time to make some changes that reflect this and moving my site to KristaLauren.com (As I have mentioned before I would have done this a lot sooner, but I am technologically challenged and 10 times out of 10 prefer to write instead of work on my site). Make sure you sign up to receive emails for my posts, like my Facebook page, or bookmark my new site if you want to stay a part of my Single in The Suburbs family. 🙂

Your Least Important Love Language Is Still A Big Deal

I am currently taking the time to re-read Gary Chapman’s bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages. Whether you are single, in a relationship, married, or divorced I could not recommend this book enough, as it is all about how you can love the important people in your life in a way that is meaningful to them.

love book.png

“Gift giving” has always been one of my primary love languages, as I really enjoy taking the time to give people things that I know will make them happy, and it makes me feel really special when someone picks out something small just for me. Since I started dating Robert, though, I have noticed that “quality time” has become my top love language. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we did a deployment together and I wouldn’t trade time with him for anything.

Physical touch is tied with gift giving at my second greatest love language, and words of affirmation are right after that. Acts of service come in last with a measly 1 point. Instead of focusing on my greatest love languages, though, today I want to focus on my least — acts of service.

I think it’s so important to take this quiz and know what your most important — and least important — love languages are because they help you learn how to love the people around you even better. Something I realized when I took this quiz and saw how low “acts of service” is in my heart is that I don’t necessarily take note of the love in people’s actions when they perform an act of service for me. Having a chronic illness has really made a lot of my friends and family step up to try and make my life easier. Friends come pick me up at my house to go out for dessert (A few even drive over an hour one way to meet up with me on a regular basis!), carry my purse for me when we go out, and my parents drive me to countless doctors appointments with no complaints. These are all ways people are showing me that they love me through their actions.

I always really appreciate when loved ones take time out of their day to do these things for me, and I often feel bad that I can be such a big inconvenience. I haven’t ever thought of this as their way to show love to me, though. In the past I haven’t taken note of these actions as ways to love; I’ve just thought they were people merely being “nice” to me since I have a physical disability. From now on instead of feeling incredibly awkward that I am causing a problem for someone else, I am going to take a moment to realize that this is their way of showing me that they love and care about me.

I encourage you to find out what your most important love language is because you will be able to better articulate to your friends and significant other what makes you feel loved, however I think we should all go a step further and pay closer attention to the ways people give us the love we feel least connected to. Ever since I have decided to be more aware of the ways people give love to me I have actually felt more surrounded by love than I ever have before. Paying close attention to the little things people do for me every day has made me realize that utilizing your least important love language can still make you feel incredibly loved and will sometimes be the way people you care about will choose to love you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.25.27 PM.png
Macy lives to serve and does a great job making me feel loved each and every day. Here she is, prompting me to keep reading!

The Most Difficult Part About Forgiveness

One of the hardest things in the world is learning how to forgive yourself. At least for me it is.

You know when people proclaim, “I live with no regrets!” and you nod and are like, “Yeah, what this person is saying is so wise and great. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done either. Ever.”

When I sit back and really think about it, though, I do have regrets in life. I have regrets that make me sick to my stomach and keep me up at night. I can easily forgive myself for any kind of mistakes I’ve made that affect my own life but when it comes to bringing my loved ones into the picture I have a really hard time cutting myself any sort of slack. I want the very best for the people I love, and I would do anything to make them happy. I kick myself whenever I do anything that hurts them, and would take any and every sort of pain life has to offer away from those I care about in an instant. Whenever I see someone I love hurting I wish my superpower could be taking pain away from others and giving it to myself instead. Even after knowing Robert only for a short time I knew with all my heart that I was glad I was sick instead of him. I know illness isn’t a realistic “Either/or” scenario, but I think about sickness a lot and am always relieved that I am the one with health problems, rather than someone I care about. Even after we had only been dating a few months I remember feeling like I wanted to be the one to protect his heart, and that I would do anything for this new, special person in my life — the exact same way I feel about my closest friends and entire family.

storm.png
Something I used to think about a lot was how I got POTS. Doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause yet, as POTS has really only been studied since 1993 or so, and they need more information on it. One theory is that people can get sick with POTS after a traumatic event. My “event” happened to be a boy, and very constantly and consistently being stressed and weighed down in a relationship.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret worrying so much about someone who would later not even be a part of my life. In fact, I didn’t know it then, but I would later feel like I didn’t even know what real, deep, true love was until I found it for the first time in the passenger seat of a Ford pickup truck.

I have other regrets, though, that haunt me far more than my illness.

In the same relationship I didn’t stay true to myself — in a lot of ways. I gave up pieces of myself I held near and dear to my heart, all in hopes to avoid ever having to go through any sort of heartbreak. I didn’t think that I was strong enough to handle a breakup, and decided that all the pain my heart was feeling must just be “normal” in a relationship. I thought that love was supposed to hurt, and that men just didn’t care as much about having their partner be a part of their everyday life as women did. I thought that I must be crazy, clingy, and unreasonable for wanting a boyfriend who would be a significant part of my life. I thought the jitters I felt in my heart and stomach were butterflies, when they were really just anxiety. Little did I know way back then that I was already in the middle of a terrible heartbreak — one where I was losing myself completely.

There are things I changed in that relationship that I will never be able to get back. I wish with all my heart I could rewind time and do everything over again so I wouldn’t make the mistakes that I did, but clearly that’s impossible. My next-best tactic will have to be learning to forgive myself.

If I knew then what I do now, I would have ended things and stayed single for a few years until I met the person who would completely turn the way I felt about love upside down. I would have known that I wasn’t being treated right, that people should never pressure you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, and I would have known that there are men who care about my heart so much that they will be able to put aside some of their own dreams for mine too.

signpoint


My heart still hurts often because of mistakes I can’t take back and the way they affect those I love. Sometimes I worry that I won’t ever be able to be fully loved by someone for forever with the baggage from my past.



Love is patient, love is kind.

This verse often plays in my head when I hear the word “love,” but something told me to dig deeper today. I Google “1 Corinthians 13,” as I don’t know the Bible well enough to recite the entire verse to myself verbatim. I skim until a small collection of words hit me and my heart drops into my stomach.

“LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.”

I want to cry with relief.

God is speaking to me in a way I’ve never really felt before. I know Jesus came to this earth to die for my sins, and I know He forgives me, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can forgive myself. I realize a real, true love can caress me gently and understand that just because I am scarred and imperfect doesn’t mean I am not worthy. Just because I made mistakes that really hurt in my past doesn’t mean my future can’t still be bright, healthy, and filled with the authentic love I have always wanted. Even though I can’t make everything right with the mistakes I have made in my life, I can look forward to creating a beautiful life with someone really special. The best thing I can do now is move on with my life and continue to look towards the bright future I have with someone who will be my forever and always, rather than dwell on the things that used to hurt me and tear me down. After all, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who you have been with. All that matters is who you end up with.

future


Dysautonomia International does not believe POTS is caused by stress or anxiety, so odds are it is not. Stress does very negatively affect the way I feel, though, which is why I now try to keep my life as stress-free as it can be.

Irreplaceable

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that is going out with friends late into the night, playing sports and working out, or taking a spontaneous road trip with a big group of friends.

Some days it’s hard for me to do anything other than rest, and sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute because my autonomic nervous system decides that I shouldn’t be comfortable enough to do an activity. This becomes especially heartbreaking when I feel like I’ve let my loved ones down by not being able to do something that they want to. It sometimes makes me wonder why they choose me to play the special role of “best friend” or “girlfriend,” instead of someone who can be carefree and fun all the time. My chronic illness is probably my biggest insecurity.

My cardiologist must literally be an angel, as he has been so kind and comforting since the beginning of my illness. Since we have gotten to know each other, anytime he looks at my heart on an echocardiogram he looks puzzled and then says, “Krista, your heart is too beautiful for this world” with the most genuine smile on his face. It makes me tear up because I know he’s talking about something different than my physical heart — as that often beats a little too fast for its own good. He is instead referring to the core of my being. This little comment serves as a reminder that just because I sometimes feel broken or like I don’t have an as important purpose in the world as others does not mean that it’s the truth. I know other people who are sick or have struggles that make them different, and they have become even more incredible because of what they’ve been through. During times of loss, we often gain a new sense of empathy, a new appreciation for life, and a great deal of strength we never knew we had. Hardship can make us bitter, or it can be something we use to connect with others and help make them feel less alone. This is the sole reason I write so openly about my own struggles.

God puts people on this earth and lets them have hardship sometimes, not because He doesn’t love us or has forgotten about us, but instead because He wants us to glorify Him in all we do — that includes using our own heartache to lift up others. Sometimes our purpose is greater than fulfilling our own dreams.

My heart was broken. Yes, now I have an awesome boyfriend, wonderful family, and friends I know care deeply about me, but at 22 years old I had to give up my dream to live in a big city and write for Seventeen magazine and begin the fight to get my life back. Since that day three-and-a-half years ago I have chosen to push forward, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it, and never give up hope. There are a lot of things I haven’t done that I would have loved to do. I wanted to live in New York City again and I wanted to have an incredibly fast-paced, spontaneous job because that’s what I have always enjoyed so much. I love interviewing people and learning more about their stories, I love keeping up with teen trends and offering my advice to young women, and I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world starting with our youth.

But God has a different plan for me than the one I had for myself. I can’t handle the stress or physical pressure a job in journalism has, but I can handle being vulnerable and toss aside my pride to show people that they are absolutely not alone in the world. I can handle publishing my deepest thoughts on a platform like this, even though not everyone will understand everything that I write about. Perhaps most important, though, through my struggles I have learned to love others deeply — whether or not I am their cup of tea and whether or not we have similar beliefs or values.

I still have days where I feel insecure about the way my life is with POTS, and I wonder when it will be my turn to actually live like I’m in my twenties. When I start feeling like this, though, I try to take a look at the people around me and notice how many people choose to open up to me and choose to make me an important part of their life. It isn’t because we can go out and have a wild night together or because I am able to get them into exclusive VIP parties. The people I am important to love me because of the way I love, and because of who I am as a person. There are certain “Krista traits” that are unique and special to the world. My power is that I love in a way that is irreplaceable to those who receive it. I will do anything for the people who are closest to me, and I will never turn down an opportunity to show love to those who need it, even if it means sacrificing something on my end. I strongly believe each and every person on this earth has their own qualities that are absolutely irreplaceable too.

journal
My favorite way to show love is through writing.

Somehow I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this post. I think we all have our own insecurities, especially in a world where it’s so easy to compare. If I have learned one thing from having a chronic illness, it’s that people love those who are genuine and themselves. We are all so different from one another, but that’s what makes the world such an amazing place. People don’t have to have a chronic illness to be able to understand some of the things I have dealt with, such as insecurity and loss. There have been so many times where someone very different than myself has reached out to me and been able to relate to something I have written in their own very different life. We are all humans with the same basic feelings and a desire to love and be loved. Just because you feel broken sometimes doesn’t mean you are not valuable to this world and loved by so many people — some of which you haven’t even met yet. Never doubt your self-worth just because you are different. The best way to make a lasting impact on the world is often because of the differences that you have to offer.


Photo Credit: Audrey Denison

Strong (adj.)

Today I would like to dissect what it means to be “strong.”

This has been a word used to describe me by so many people since I graduated college, got POTS, and went through a number of difficult trials, but it still feels kind of funny when I hear someone throw this adjective next to my name.

Dictionary.com defines strong as,

“Mentally powerful or vigorous,”

but it doesn’t offer any tips on how to be strong or what kind of trials make you strong.

I was made strong. I didn’t choose to be strong and I am in no way admirably resilient. Before getting sick I was used to a fairly comfortable life, and never in a million years thought of myself as tough or someone who would face trials well.

Almost 4 years later, though, and here I am. I had a choice to make when I got sick. I could take what the doctors said, admit defeat, and recognize that my life would never be the same, or I could fight for the best life I could possibly have. I quickly chose the latter. This involves keeping an open and optimistic mindset, being incredibly dilligent with my doctors appointments, physical therapy, and diet, and finally — learning how to rest.

When I first got my diagnoses I asked through tears whether I’d ever get better. The nurse laughed and told me I wouldn’t and my mind immediately went into a dark abyss, thinking about a long life of dizzy spells, fainting, and feeling miserable. I was incredibly lucky to have my incredibly encouraging mother with me, who followed me to the parking lot and said the nurse didn’t know what she was talking about. She said I needed to take each day as it came to me, and think positive thoughts. To this day I believe this is one reason I am slowly getting better and have been able to make peace with my new life.

I’ve had POTS for three-and-a-half years now and haven’t had a week off from going to visit some sort of doctor. I typically have 2 physical therapy appointments and either acupuncture or a massage to work on managing my chronic pain, as well as regular visits to my cardiologist, neurologist, and endocrinologist. I go to the gym 5 days a week — even when I am feeling awful — because the worst possible thing for a POTSie to do is get deconditioned. This involves a short 30 minute recumbent bike ride, as I could easily faint if I am in an upright position. I get B12 shots every other week since I am deficient in it and B12 seems to be a link to chronic pain. Then I have to take a lot of time to rest so that my body can settle down a bit. I get worn out incredibly easy, and a trip to the grocery store turns into a long ordeal because of the recovery time afterward.

Lots of POTS patient develop adult allergies, so I can’t eat many of my favorite foods anymore. I have given up nightshade vegetables (Potatoes are my favorite food and I miss French fries dearly!), gluten (Now I am the butt of so many jokes), and I really limit my dairy and sugar intake. I don’t drink coffee at all, partly because I can’t have caffeine, and partly because I just can’t have coffee, period, and I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore. The coffee is definitely a million times more difficult.

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 10.04.46 PM.png

Lastly, I have had to learn to listen to my body and rest. This is such a hard thing for me to do, as my mind is incredibly active. Anyone who knew me before I got sick knows I love to work and play, so sleeping and rest were never really a big part of my vocabulary. I joke to my friends that I’m just catching up on all the time I missed in my life before, but it really is a difficult thing for me to wrap my mind around. I always have a million and one things I want to do and write about, however my body isn’t very kind to me. Writing hurts after ten minutes, and the dictation software I have used is grueling. I can’t sit at a desk chair very long without having a lot of pain in my shoulders, and some days I can’t stand without feeling dizzy. Sometimes all I can do is rest, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend time listening to podcasts and watching HGTV when I really can’t do anything else. Yes, I would much rather be working and making a living for myself. I wish I could live in New York and write for a magazine, I wish I could have a paycheck to save for a new car or fun wardrobe, but that’s just not in the cards for me right now. Right now it’s my job to focus on getting better, keep taking care of myself, and trust that God will make something beautiful out of my struggle. 

The best advice I could possibly give anyone going through something tough is to take each day as it comes to you. Worrying about things in the future that you cannot control won’t help you change them, and looking back on the past won’t make your present any more satisfying. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and I know what it’s like to feel like life isn’t fair. The greatest feeling when your world is crumbling in on you is when you finally learn to give your problems to God and let Him take care of the things that are outside your control.

Today’s lesson: If I can be strong, you can too. I’ve always thought I am an incredibly average person in most regards, which should offer an incredible amount of encouragement to anyone reading this. If I can do, so can you.