College, Faith, Lifestyle

Chronically Optimistic

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always been pretty good at being- or at least acting optimistic and cheery.  Before I truly found God, however, this optimism was often a façade; I acted optimistic in order to feel better about my life and hide my true feelings from the world. Once I made my relationship with God a priority, I have truly felt hopeful and optimistic, regardless of what life throws at me. Now that I’ve shared a little background info, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty. How does optimism and hope impact my life?

If you’ve been around a while, you may know that I have a chronic illness known as Dysautonomia, with a subset of the illness called POTS- or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Basically what this means is that my heart rate escalated quite high just from slight changes in posture- especially the switch from sitting to standing. Because this is a syndrome, it comes with a very long list of symptoms that I’m not going to list here due to the fact that A) I’m not an expert in the topic, just a patient, and B) the point of this post is not to solely inform you about one of many invisible illnesses. No, this is much deeper than that.

You see, there are many things that occur to me chronically- I live with pain, chronic fatigue & exhaustion, temperature intolerance and extreme discomfort everyday- but my chronic symptoms far surpass just the physiological ones. I have battled with depression and anxiety, I often still do. I, like many of you, have been known to be very insecure and have low self-esteem. It happens to all of us, but our feelings about ourselves don’t define who we are.

Sure, my life doesn’t look like a lot of people I know, but imagine how boring life would be if it did! To be completely honest, the past two weeks have been extremely rough for me, and I got stuck in a dark, low place I hadn’t been in for a while. I was still optimistic and was clinging on to the little hopefulness I still felt to get me through. One of the most instrumental things pulling me through this slump was a small, emotion-filled worship and prayer service on my campus last week. My spirit was unsettled and fighting off the lies of Satan and his cronies, but the presence of the Holy Spirit overtook the darkness and freed my soul from the gripping evil presence that was trying to destroy it. Many tears were shed, but I began to feel calm again. At peace, rather than in pieces.

Now, this is not to say that I still didn’t struggle this past week, but that I survived the struggle. College is hard. Having a chronic illness is hard. Life is hard. But difficulty is not impossibility. I cant explain to y’all how close I was to giving up and tossing my dreams and future plans aside- but I couldn’t. You see, the thing is, I never give up. Its like an impossible thing for me to do- believe me, I’ve tried. Deep in my soul, no matter how tough life gets, I still have the tendency to remain hopeful and optimistic. It’s in my DNA. God gave me an optimistic spirit and I believe that is why I am where I am today. No matter what obstacles come my way, I am able to search for alternate routes to get where I need to be. The optimism deep inside me overcomes all the negativity- and this optimism came from God. The further I separate myself from Him, the more negativity and self loathing fills my brain.

Dysautonomia & POTS make everyday a battle- and some days are worse than others. As much as it has affected my life negatively, this illness has also been one of my greatest blessings. By having dysautonomia, I have found a passion for research, reaching out to others with the various forms of autonomic dysfunction, chronic illness and autoimmune diseases, and being an advocate for increasing public knowledge of invisible illnesses. I believe I will get better, and that in the future, we will learn more about it and find more effective treatments, quicker diagnostic timelines and eventually a cure!

Now, 6 years ago, I would’ve thought that was an impossible pipe-dream, felt extreme self-pity and accepted my fate as someone who was going to be sick forever. This illness has helped me grow and turn my test into a testimony. Any time something goes wrong in my life or others’, I now encourage them to be hopeful and insist that things will get better. Some people may think I’m naïve for being so hopeful, but God has given me all the hope I need. I may not get better during my time on this Earth, but when I join my Father in heaven, all pain, sorrow and struggle will end- and I think that’s wonderful to look forward to.

Yes, I have a chronic, not-yet-curable health condition. Yes, I have had to make a lot of lifestyle changes and give up things I love in order to cope with it, but the only direction I have to go is up. You could say I’m chronically ill, but I say I’m chronically optimistic. 🙂

Til next time,

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Lifestyle

Holy Week/Easter Weekend: A Week In My Life

••• This is not the type of post I typically do, but I love looking at lifestyle blogs and seeing the little trips & weekly reflection journals some people do and decided to make my own! I want to start posting more regularly, so I thought that incorporating some fun lifestyle-blog inspired posts would be an easy way for me to do that and explore other creative outlets than my more “thought-provoked” or planned posts- this one is just for fun, as I think blogs should be! Come along with me on my little adventure. •••


Easter 2018: Weekend In My LifeWednesday 3/28: 79th annual Easter Pageant.

My school, UMHB, has an annual tradition of students doing a dramatic re-enactment of Christ’s life, death & resurrection. It’s a beautiful and powerful event, and this year I got to participate as a member of the crowd with my peers! I am currently working on a post inspired by this experience that’ll be up soon- so watch out for it. If you want to see the Easter Pageant, it can be viewed here. It was a long, beautiful, emotional, exhausting & powerful day. God is SO good!

Good Friday, 3/30: Prayer Gardens.

On Good Friday, I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to load up on a bus full of people from my home church for a road trip to Kerrville, Texas to visit the Coming King Prayer Garden. It was absolutely stunning, serene and filled with God’s presence. The town was settled by German immigrants, which is why you’ll see German translations in photos below (the culture is all through the town, it’s so cute!) We snapped a few photos, prayed and wrote on prayer rocks as a group so that our requests would continue to be prayed over by others who visit the prayer garden. We then drove down to the edge of town to visit a pretty little creek before stopping for some dinner and heading back to our hotel to sleep!

Saturday 3/31: Enchanted Rock State Park.

Like Friday, we got up before the sun to drive a few towns over to Fredericksburg, Texas, another German settler town. We arrived around 9am to get in the cue for the Enchanted Rock State Park & then we began the climb! I’m severely out of shape, but I made it to the top in about 30 minutes, thankfully. It was a beautiful 65 degree, breezy morning that made the journey to the top much more enjoyable. Once we explored around the top edges of the Rock a bit, the “kids” of the group- some college students like me, others in high school- decided to navigate our way through a dark, tight cave, which was super fun. After leaving Enchanted Rock, we headed to downtown Fredericksburg to do touristy things & tried some AMAZING German food before loading up the van and heading back to Houston to rest up for Sunday morning.

Sunday 4/1: Easter Sunday.

Today was not as busy, but it sure was lovely! My mom & I went to our home church for Easter service to celebrate the resurrection of our God & savior, Jesus Christ! Easter Sunday is a day well spent with family & being thankful for the lives we get to live free of the debt of sin because Jesus PAID IT ALL! We had a nice roast for lunch and were joined by my older sister, her boyfriend & some friends from church. After a couple of rounds of “Apples to Apples,” we did what anyone would do on a Sunday afternoon- nap! Unfortunately I had to get up and study for a chemistry test I had the following Monday, but after such a great weekend, it wasn’t so bad. After all, the tomb was empty, Christ lives on, and I’m thankful for the opportunities he’s given me!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter celebrating the ultimate sacrifice and the defeat of sin and death. He is risen, indeed! Until next time,