Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dawnville Dollar Days #5

DDDay5: Directions to Dawnville voting precinct: Turn left at the sign reading "Ham Shoot, Saturday @ 11:00 am." There are NO words, friends.

Dawnville Dollar Days #4

DDDay4: (I'm skipping a few)

   A couple of weeks ago I was gracing the Dawnville Dollar, yet again. While in line to purchase my Mayfield's and Milo's with Splenda, I noticed the clerk, we'll call her *Marla* (This IS the great Whitfield CO...and TRUMP is our claim to fame here) and her tattoo........upon her neck. Oh, this was no ordinary tat, friends. This was, you guessed it, a pair of VAMPIRE BITES, blood drain and all! (Cue the Twilight theme.) As I gazed at the artwork on her neck which looked like something Lilli had done with Crayola Magic, my eyes panned up to her makeup...white eyeshadow up to her brows, dark lipstick....yeppers, she was die hard. "Ehem, are those...uh, *vampire bites*, uh, a *REAL* tattoo on your neck?" I asked her. I wasn't making fun of her, I was being serious. I was curious. "Or are they a rub-on?" With every ounce of serious Marla had inside her stumpy Dollar General uniformed body she replied, "Yes. They are." This was so flat and silent I thought for a split second she was a REAL vamp herself. "Neat," I said. "So...are you a Twilight fan?" BECAUSE I *HAD* TO GO THERE.Well, THAT one broke the ice. "Oh, the biggest," she said, still in her very flat voice while scanning my items. Her eyes never broke from mine...and for that matter, neither did her character. I can beat that, I thought and replied with, "I'm having a party for the Eclipse Premiere."  "I saved up $1000.00 and went to a 'conviction'," said Marla. The Dawnville Dollar was silent. Was it the grammatical error or the $1000.00 remark? No one will ever know. MY POINT: Most of you know these are CONVENTIONS....Twilight, Star Wars, Star Trek, what have you, they are not *convicting* at all. But again, this is Dawnville. Marla almost chased me out the door, the line at the register a mile long, still telling me the story of her tattoo and how she got it on Halloween in a Twi-tribute. Again, this was WEEKS ago...my memory is BAD....but somehow, this incident REFUSES to leave me.

Dawnville Dollar Days #3

DDDay3: While driving down the Dawnville Rd.....again....the very same woman who was seen bikini clad sunbathing in the back of her pickup, booty facing Dawnville's finest, was spotted cutting the grass around her mailbox. Literally. With a pair of scissors. No doubt she purchased those from the Dawnville Dollar Store.

Dawnville Dollar Days #2

DDDay2: I just saw another one of Dawnville Dollar Store's finest laying out in the sun....in the bed of her Ford.....feet facing Dawnville Rd......in a bikini.....in all of her sunburned glory....and I mean, **ALL** OF HER SUNBURNED GLORY.

Dawnville Dollar Days #1

DDDAY1: While visiting our neighborhood Dollar Store, I stood in line in front of a young girl wearing INCREDIBLY short shorts. On her *upper* thigh she sported a tattoo of a garter, complete with gun holster and gun. The cashier asked about it, as it only made it about 1/2 way around her drumstick. She explained and then very matter of fact-ly stated, " I'm gonna get it finished all the way around so it won't look tacky."

*Remembering Philippians 4:13 (6/10/10)


Due to the loveliness of MS my memory is ever failing...it's fabulous. Sometimes we laugh hysterically...today, not so much. While saying my morning prayer for Jo and Lil, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses which also happens to be one of my life verses, Philippians 4:13. Nobody EVER forgets this one! It's a staple for southern football games and anyone that's ever attended any sort of church youth function...it's like salt and pepper for Christianity! I sat there in my bed completely blank...."Help Jordan to remember what your word says in Phil. 4:13, Lord.......what it says......oh, what it says.......what........what???? What does it say? Huh? WHAT DOES IT SAY?!" I was racking my brain and I started to panick....then Jordan walked into the bedroom, bustling around because, God love his little pea-pickin' heart, he's always running late. "Jordan....I've got a question." Huffing and puffing due to the bending, searching and running through the house he replied rather quickly but politely, " 'Sup, babe?" "Um...Okay, I know this is gonna sound REALLY stupid, but you know how I forget things sometimes...." I asked. "Yeah....?" I could hear the nerves rattling in his voice. Any mention of MS and its many cohorts and Jordan is sent into a silent rage only Jesus and the angels are privy to. "What's the verse that goes along with Philippians 4:13?" 

TOTAL SILENCE. 

There went that rage against MS. I hid under the bed covers absolutely HUMILIATED....then Jordan's warm encouraging voice chimed in: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Then he said, "I wanna stop and comfort you but I'm SO late!" I just giggled; I was ok with his words; and that's when I realized that what I'd been praying for all week in a new Bible study had come to fruition: I'd been asking God to help me to remember that through life's toughest times, as much as I love Jordan and Lilli, my parents, extended family, and friends, they can't meet the deepest needs of my heart, ONLY HE CAN. He's the one I count on, HE is where my help comes from. Jordan told me he loved me and gave me as much comfort as he could before he left, but I knew where my ultimate comfort came from this morning and every morning...when I'm unsure if my legs will work or if I'll be able to see, I know that my God is unfailing. My husband and my family love me, no doubt, but my strength is renewed day after day in the One who gave it to me to begin with.

The Mysterious North GA Tater Log (written by Dad...7 years ago)

My daddy....the intellectual, of course. Or, as I call him: Indiana
Jones. "Indy" for short. 

An Opinion by Moe Pritchett


Just the other day my 21 year old son and I were watching some little league baseball at our local recreation center. It was great to see all of these little boys doing the same thing my own son did just 10 or 11 short years ago. I am sure that the memories filled his senses just as they did mine. The only thing not filled were our stomachs as it was well past supper time and the hot dogs and nachos just weren’t up to the task of quenching the appetite of two very adult red necks. My wife’s earlier mention of chicken, beans, and corn bread beckoned to us both, but there was something amiss on the king's menu and my son reached deep into the annals of his culinary mind for the answer -- Tater Logs. Now I am not quite sure of the origins of the tater-log but my suspicions do run deep and as you will read on I will expound to you my reasoning.

I cannot recall my earliest encounter with what I can only assume to be this regional delicacy called the tater-log, as I have long been associated with its unique flavor but I can only suspect that it was in my middle teens that I discovered this giant “French Fry.” I hesitate to group this delectable little tuber with the French fry as I would not want to insult the good people at the Favorite Market stores, but upon first impression as a teen that is what I thought it was. Now, as an educated adult I know and respect the vast difference. Yankees will still peer curiously at our carved spud and call it “a big French fry”, oh but my, ignorance is bliss.

The tater-log, I am sure will never be featured on Emeril LaGasse as a main dish or even an appetizer but that would only be because Emeril has never had the pleasure of walking into a Favorite Market and letting that concocting aroma of lard and potato skins fill his nostrils. It can be quite refreshing. I am not so sure if it is the enticing aroma of TL’s or the mechanic behind me in the line, but tater-logs have a scent that is all too much their own. Made of a combination of quarter sliced , unpeeled Irish Potatoes, flour, butter milk, too much salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper, the long canoe shaped potato has proven to be a lunch staple for hundreds of brick masons, carpet installers, and mechanics in the North Georgia area for 20 years or more. I myself have found that on more than one occasion while deer hunting, that the T.L. has proven to be filling and satisfying as well as affordable. At only .99 cents for a neat dozen even the most spend thrifty sportsman can eat like he was at the finest hunting lodge in the south and I am sure that will be great news for the female financial manager in any deer hunter’s home.

I have never really looked closely at the internal parts of this mysterious gift from the convenience store wizards but I may have been afraid that would border in heresy or even blasphemy, so tonight I decided I must cross the line into the unknown and really look at the internal organs of the Mysterious North Georgia Tater-Log.

The tater-log is not really a log contrary to the name. I have heard some of my hunting buddies question if it was really a tater but I have never had any question whether or not it was a log. It is not a log but it is in fact a tater. To be exact the tater-log is an Irish, or as my aunt Mamie would call it “arsh tater.” After washing the potato it is then quartered, not peeled, rolled in batter, and then deep fried in oil, and I am sure it is the same oil used to deep fry gizzards and livers; if you inspect your box closely I am sure you will find one or the other therin. Now it may or may not be company policy to age these carbohydrate nibblets, at least one half a day, I don’t know but I can tell you this; no matter the time of day, you can always find the hopper full.

Tater-logs can be eaten in a myriad of ways and I am quite sure you have found your own special way of ruminating these little tubers but I enjoy mine right out of the box. Ketchup can be added for the faint of heart or you can grab a side of livers if you need a little more protein. You must accompany a tater log with the required Vienna Sausage as a meat for your dining pleasure and it can be followed with a Little Debbie if your are a true practitioner of dining purity. There are those souls who have purposely demented these meals by adding a Honey Bun , but it is not recommended. And to ensure your dining is complete a true Coca Cola, not diet nor Pepsi, would be the finishing touch befitting a tater log meal ( Coke in a 12 ounce glass bottle is preferred )

The potato is a versatile food and has been prepared in a thousand ways in a thousand countries around the world. It brought Ireland to her knees in the 1840’s yet today is still her number one crop. Over a billion bags are harvested each year in Russia alone and in China nearly that many, yet there is only one place in the world that I know where you can find the truest and best use for the potato; The Mysterious North Georgia Tater Log; a taste Emeril will never enjoy. Bam!

The SAHM and the WM (written about a year and a half ago)

I've noticed, as of late, that a lot of my FB friends are stay at home moms, or as one friend put it, SAHMs. Love that, by the way, Selena. Sometimes we're looked down on because we stay at home. Other times, we're lifted up on a pedestal, paraded through town, given a banquet with the apple gagged pig shebang and then crowned Queen of the Playground! "Vote for the SAHM!" they shout....confetti flying everywhere as we leave a trail of glitter and retreat to our giant feather bed where gorgeous Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson looking men will fan us and feed us seedless grapes. Yeah...that happens at my house. Here's a look into the life of what SAHMs do. We're not griping, simply educating, and hoping that today, you'll thank your mom for all she did and does for you. After all, it's ALL out of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.......


1. Walk with God daily, which I have to work on constantly! This is most important to being the best wife and mother one can be. Without Him, she can't do it.......and she won't.

2. Love and be loved.

3. Run errands, ie: pick up husband's check, deposit into the bank, go to the grocery store, with a HUGE list, mind you, and make sure everything my family needs to live for the next 2 weeks is on that huge list.

4. Schedule appointments: medicals....and with a kid with allergies, that's not easy. We have, as follows: The Allergist: allergy tests, ie, skin tests and nut challenges, asthma appts. and checkups; Pediatrician: well baby checkups which include shots and sick appts; Dentist: cleanings and praise the Lord, so far, no "problem visits." Parent/teacher conferences...haven't gotten there yet, but will be soon, school meetings; hair appointments. Let's not forget that Mom has to go to the doctor yearly too, and so does Dad.

5. Be the Housekeeper: organizing: can't find anything without Momma organizing the toys and drawers; laundry: make sure the dryer doesn't eat the sock mates, gotta be able to find my daughter's favorite Tinker Bell panties in a hurry and know EXACTLY which ones she's talking about..."The ones, Momma, you know!!" all the while making sure they both have clean clothes for work/school/church/dance/play dates/etc, not to mention washing all of the bed clothes once a week in scalding hot water because Lilli is allergic to dustmites; dishes: gotta eat, scrubbing: counters, tub, toilet...inside and out and around where sometimes the target is missed, sometimes the floor if it's really icky, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, windows, puke, pee, and poop, make a comfortable home for my family to live in and be proud of.

6. Guardian of the Barbies and "Family Lovehouse"...'nuff said.

7. Peacemaker: there are many wars over who is egging whom on when it comes to Jordan and Lilli...this is a democracy we live in, for now anyway, but my house is under a dictatorship. I, being the dictator...sometimes. We rotate. :)

8. Taxi driver: since I'm still Barbie, we're gonna refer to the job as "chauffeur." Dance, school, Sunday School, Mission Friends, Awanas, children's choir, did I say dance? I drive back and forth from Dalton to Chatsworth, in any given week, at least 2-3 times a day with the exception of Wednesday...just once on Wednesdays. I'm helping to "fuel" the Dawnville economy. You're welcome, B. Hussein Obama.

9. Giver of the best kisses, hugs and unconditional love to Jordan and Lilli that any human possibly can.

10. Pets: gotta eat or they will die, henceforth, Lilli will "just die, Mommy."

11. Meds: this is tricky. Moms have to know dosages, when, where and what NOT to mix this or that with lest their child be rushed to the emergency room. Seriously, Moms hold everyone's lives in their hands; this is just one of our missions from God. Ok...Lil has once daily Singulair, one puff daily Symbicort, one dose daily Zyrtec. Again, gotta keep up with the dosages for that. Always keep the Benadryl and Epi-Pen Jr. on hand for allergic reaction emergencies, not to mention the eye drops and separate Elidel from Protopic bc Elidel is facial and Protopic is NOT and will cause scarring.

12. Where: Because of Lil's allergies to nuts we have to avoid certain restaurants. I have to keep a mental list of this in order to keep her out of harm's way.

13. Clothes/shoes: what sizes do your family members wear?

14. Home Remedies/First Aide: burns, cuts/scrapes, bloody nose, colds, puking, diarrhea, headache, soar throat, cough-asthmatic or due to cold, fever...gotta know how to take the temp....BOTH ways, bug bites/stings, CPR, Heimlich, Epi-Pen Jr. usage, and Crisco cures any form of eczema.

15. Don't lose anything!!!: This one speaks for itself. Moms have to keep up with the bills so Dad can pay them. We also have to keep up with permission slips, the appointments, homework that's due-just til they get old enough to be responsible for themselves, invitations, our keys, and our sanity.

16. Establish a routine/schedule: a household isn't run anarchist style. There have to be rules and regulations, discipline and responsibility on each individual's part. We have bedtime for a reason...well, for a few reasons. Kids need sleep and so does Mom....Mom also needs quality time with her man. <3

17. The Checklist: I carry a mental checklist with me every time I leave the door....and I usually forget and have to go back, but at least I eventually remembered. What's on my List?
Meds:
Epi-Pen Jr.
Benadryl
eydrops
rescue inhaler
Pocket Book/Purse
Lilli's bookbag, if needed
dance clothes/shoes, if needed
KEYS

18. Quality time with children: Just love them and play with them!

19. Quality time with THE MAN: There's a plethora of definitions for "quality time with your man"......and they ALL fit into this category. Not only do children learn from Mom in everyday activities/jobs, but they learn how to be a spouse from Mom, too. It's important to be a good "wife" role model for your daughter AND sons. It's equally as important to give your man the love and respect he deserves. he works hard to provide and keep you happy...he loves you. Love him back, in all the ways a wife can love her husband: spritually, mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically. <3

20. Eat/Healthy Food: Moms make sure you eat....not just animal crackers, goldfish and juice. Gotta have your meat and 3 AND your fruits, breads, milk, whole wheats....Do you know just how regimented your diet is because your momma loves you and doesn't want you to have high blood pressure? We have our mental list of what you've had all day long and that's how we know what to prepare for supper. Did you really think that Momma pulled the dinner menu out of her butt? Kids can't have too much sugar, they'll get fat, and let's not forget the hyper factor. They can't have too much bread or they'll stop up, and when they blow....you guessed it, WE clean it up. Gotta have their protein or their iron gets low and they get too tired. Gotta have carbs or they can't concentrate; gotta have vitamins so they can grow; gotta have the calcium for strong bones...we make sure you get all of this, every day.....and THREE times a day. Until kids are old enough to take care of themselves, to an extent, who fixes the food? YO MOMMA

21. Wake Up Call: You know as well as the rest of us that if Momma/Wifey didn't wake you up in the mornings, you'd never make it to work, school, church, or any other function on time. We are the Keeper of the Mornings, the Drill Sargeant of Alarms, the Military Bugle Call, and there is NO snooze button provided. Mess with us, and we'll squirt you with a water pistol and pull you out of the bed by your ankles.

22. Shoulder Lean: Mommas are great sounding boards. We listen and give advice, but only when advice is needed...you can cry on us, and please do. We're strong towers that aren't shaken by raging winds. We're here for comfort, shelter, and help at all times.

23. Jesus: We bring Him to you as soon as you are conceived and as soon as you leave the comfort of our womb to join this cold dark world. Every mom wants their child to be the best they can be for Jesus. Moms have a ministry...to go into the world and preach the Gospel. That includes their families. We are witnesses to our husbands and children. THEY are our ministry.

24. Break Time: After all of this, Moms need breaks....away from the kids, away from the husband....and it's OK to take them. But the whole time we're taking our break, be it at the beauty shop, in the tub, at a movie, with our girlfriends, shopping, or whatever, OUR FAMILY is what is at the forefront of our minds.

25. Working Moms: They do it ALL...EVERYTHING above AND a job outside of the home. My mother was a working mom, and we should give due thanks and praises to these women. Without some of them, we wouldn't have teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses who care for you when you have a booboo and your own mom isnt available or can't help what ails you, secretaries who answer your annoying questions when you call for their bosses, judges, politicians, community workers, military women, etc...they do it ALL.

Moms and wives are super heroes whether you like to think so or not, whether you believe in that kind of thing or not. We have the power to heal a wound with one kiss and somehow get you to clean your room with the promise of a new toy or fun place to visit. We rule with an iron fist, yet our hands are as delicate and loving as rose petals when our child or husband is hurt, sick, tired, or stressed. We love with all of our hearts, sometimes forgetting our own needs....A LOT OF TIMES forgetting our own needs. But don't feel sorry for us. We made this choice and we don't regret it. Love IS a choice and being a wife and mother is love. What we sacrifice for our families is out of love and devotion to the wonderful blessings God has given us in them.

I'm certainly not a perfect wife and mother. I'm always losing my keys and sometimes I get in bad moods. Who doesn't? I don't love to clean my house everyday and sometimes I'm really tired...sometimes I need a break! But when I wake up in the morning and roll over to see my beautiful, wonderful, loving, and caring husband, then I hear my Lilli yawn and yell for me, I can't think of anything that would make me happier than to serve my Savior AND them!

You may look at this list, and I know I'm missing quite a few points, and think, "Good grief, how do they do it?" By the grace of God, friend! And for those of you who are saying, "Good grief, that's nothing!"...I'm praying for you. You may work 40 hours a week, but we work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our job never ends and we don't get vacations. But that's ok, because we like.

Motherhood and being a wife is a calling. And what would life be like if we weren't heeding to our call?
Psalm 31

*Giving God the Glory for One Wild Ride

This month marks the one year anniversary since God and I have been kicking MS butt. On August 31, 2009 my family and I got the dreaded news and it's been a roller coaster ride ever since. I'm happy to report that as of March/April, 2010 I have been MS blip (flare-up) free. PRAISE THE LORD! I still have *symptoms* here and there but it's NOTHING like it was. Symptoms are par for the course. This IS a progressive disease after all. There is no cure, remember, however, we keep positive, hence the MS Walk and the reason for the money YOU so generously donated to the NMSS. ;)

This time a year ago Jordan was carrying me up the stairs because I could not walk; my legs didn't function on their own. My mom was signing my name at the WalMart on my check card slips because I couldn't write. I was sleeping literally ALL day due to that extreme fatigue. There were other blip factors we won't go into. Today, aside from my ghetto booty dragging me behind a little, I could run a few circles around Jordan. I can actually clean my house...now if I'd just KEEP it that way! I can write and paint! I feel like getting up and DOING something and being ACTIVE! I'm HYPER again! (Yay for ya'll, huh? LOL!)

There have been so many unknowns on this journey...I won't write all of them. Some will remain between my family and me. Some took me a while to admit to myself let alone them! There have been many tears, and believe it or not, lots of laughter and plenty more to come. I've learned so much about trusting GOD and FULLY relying on HIM, HIS words, HIS love, HIS promises, HIS plans, HIS reasons, HIS EVERYTHING. I'm not totally there yet, but I won't ever be. Our relationships with the Father are a CONSTANT work in progress. If we ever feel we're too close to Him, we've all but given up.

Not having had any blips in the past few months is HUGE. In my glass-half-full-incredibly-positive-way I'd say that's the beginning of the road to remission, right? Well, some say it takes YEARS to get to remission. I say my God is bigger than their scientific bubble. *POP!* (Oops.) He planned my life out before I was born; Psalm 139 tells me this and in His very hand is the life of every creature and breath of all mankind (Job 12:10)...SURELY He's got MS by the throat.

A few weeks ago during my Bible study I ran across a story I'd read probably 1,000 times before. But this time it was different. (This is proof that my God's words are ALIVE...thanks, Pastor for reminding me of that.) I had been praying not only for this MS but for Lilli's nut allergies. We'd been conversing in the car about it one day when she piped in and said, "It would be a miracle of God if I were healed, but more than anything, Momma, I want God to heal you of your MS." And she believes, with faith that can move Ft. Mountain (bc she thinks that's the biggest one out there) that WE WILL BE RID OF THIS MESS. Of course, I'm right there with her. A day or so later was when I ran across this all too familiar section of scripture. Mark 5: 25-29; 34

"25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she was freed from her suffering." ........"34He said to her, 'Daughter your faith has healed you....."

*If I just touch his clothes* literally jumped off the page at me. Isn't that what we ALL want? Just to get a piece of Jesus? There were people everywhere in this massive crowd that surrounded Jesus that day but He felt the connection this woman had made with him and sought her out. (vs. 30-33) As much as I DETEST MS...the shots, not knowing if this is remission or maybe just a break...as much as I DETEST not knowing if it'll start up AGAIN...what will my next MRI reveal?....not knowing if there will EVER be a cure for this unseen WAR inside of ME. If THAT'S what it took for me to WANT and CRAVE so BADLY just a *piece* of my Master, *more* of Him than I already have and all of who He is to be whole, I'll never go back; I don't want to. I have the faith to move Ft. Mountain that He can heal me...but that may not be in His plan for me...and I'm cool with that because He knows better. However, I know this: With every step I take with Him I AM being healed. Not necessarily physically, but spiritually. I'm human so I'm constantly making mistakes and screwing up, so WE walk. WE talk. He teaches me and I learn something new from Him every day. It takes time and I praise Him that He's got patience because let's face it, I'm no walk in the park. Just like this woman, all I have to do is reach out for Jesus. Jeremiah 33:3 says to call to him and he will answer and tell me great and unsearchable things I don't know; James tells us to draw near to God and he'll draw near to us. As I've said before, I've still got lots of questions, but I know WHO my answers lie with.

2nd Corinthians tells us we're a new creation after we're saved; the old has gone and the new one has come! I'm a never-ending work in progress until the day of Christ (Phil 1:6) so I think we're safe in assuming MS is a part of that work. So, while God's working I'm gonna do my part and follow Him. I may not get it right every time, but trust and faith are the keys. They're the HARDEST ones to use in the Christian walk, but WHEN used, they open ALL the right doors. ;)



*Thank you all for your support, encouragement and most of all your prayers throughout this very trying and learning period of our lives. It's been a wild ride, with a few twists and turns, but that's life isn't it. This is what affirms our faith in the Father and we couldn't be more thankful for it. On down days it never fails, I've gotten either a message or a call; you really are the BEST and I can't praise God enough for putting you in our lives. We are BLESSED beyond measure to know you all! I wish I could "tag" all of you in this note...no, I wish I could HUG each and every one of you. Just know that YOU all are in OUR prayers as well! THANK YOU and WE LOVE YOU!

*With God, All Things Are Possible

*I wrote the below "note" almost a year ago...well, about 3 weeks AFTER I was diagnosed with MS. It took me a little while to "come out" of the MS closet, per se...it's not exactly easy accepting a diagnosis of any kind, but especially one where your every thought, your every move....your every plan for your life....let's just say in about two seconds flat all of that changed. I was a snow globe in a doctor's hands. It took me a while to get my bearings and then, when I finally did, when the snow finally settled, I decided telling everyone at one time, straight from the horse's mouth, would be the best way to go. I wanted no holes left unfilled, no stones left unturned. MS isn't well known, some have even thought it to be an STD (by the way, um, NO). So I told my story from beginning to end. Then I began to see the REAL plans God had for my life...One of my favorite sayings ever is, "If you wanna make God laugh, tell Him all the plans YOU have for your life." Yeah, that makes Him roll. ;)

Hello, my friends!!!! First of all, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your cares and concerns, and of course, your PRAYERS!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Many of you have been asking me questions about my recent status when I referred to a spinal tap I had. You’re also smart enough to figure out that a spinal tap/lumbar puncture is NOT an everyday procedure, and I figured it was time to give you the benefit of the doubt.

A little over a month ago I got a nasty cold….no big deal, right? This lead to a nasty headache. Also no big deal….until my hands went numb and I lost my vision. Scary, I know, but the loss of vision has happened many times since high school due to what I had been told were migraine headaches. My PCP said, “If it happens again, call me.” Sure enough it did, only this time the right side of my body went numb and weak….I thought I was literally having a stroke, which a 27 year chick of fabulous health should NOT be having. I took my doc’s advice and he immediately got me in with a neurologist. My first appointment with Dr. Chander was in a week.

For that excruciatingly LONG week, I was still having symptoms of whatever was going on with my body, which was now becoming foreign to me. Not only was the right side of my body numb, but so was the right side of my face. I was weak on that side as well. When I walked I limped and a few times Jordan even had to carry me because my leg just didn’t work….I couldn’t stand, let alone travel from point A to point B. All train of thought was lost; no sentences were finished and I told friends and family information over and over again. They would remind me, “You’ve told me that already,” or “You just said that.” I could NOT concentrate on anything. As if that weren’t enough, I was so dizzy and tired that I felt like I was drunk. (Go ahead and laugh that one up.) I would be sitting on the couch or by the pool and become so overwhelmingly tired that I had to lie down and take a nap. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy naps, but several times a day? After I’ve had a good 8 hours of sleep? NO ENERGY to play with Lilli???? What the heck?!?!?!

So I saw Dr. Chander, a very tall and dark, middle aged, Indian man with a thick accent, a cool doctor’s bag and a remarkable bedside manner. He’s precious from balding head to size 14 foot. He informed Jordan and me that these symptoms I was having could be caused by one of three things: First, migraine induced strokes. This was nothing to worry about. They were basically stroke like symptoms, but not real strokes and could be controlled with migraine medication. Our second possible diagnosis was a pseudo tumor. This is where your spinal chord has too much spinal fluid which causes your brain to send off tumor like symptoms. This was also very treatable: lose some weight to lessen the fluid in your body and also your spinal chord. The last one was Multiple Sclerosis, commonly known as MS. He went into detail on what he would find if it was MS: lesions on the brain and oligloconal banding in the spinal fluid….he wasn’t worried about it, so we chucked that out with last night’s leftovers. We all leaned towards the pseudo tumor because, well, let’s face it….Brandi isn’t exactly a size 2.

A week or so later I went for an MRI and EEG. One week after that, I went for a lumbar puncture, or what we as laymen call a spinal tap. (This was NOT fun.)

Within the weekend Dr. Chander had my results. My family and a few friends I’d told were praying, but there were no doubts that my results would come back to be a pseudo tumor. Jordan couldn’t go with me to the neurologist that day so I took Lilli…you know, for five year old moral support. ;) I walked in refreshed and ready to take action on my new diagnosis of just being plain overweight. “I can handle it. No big deal,” is what I told myself. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and after we got this out of the way, we were headed to the pool.

Dr. Chander looked at my test results over and over for a good five minutes while I sat and watched him. I was swinging my feet back and forth under the table, starting to get a little nervous. Finally he looked up and explained all of his findings.

“Your blood work looks great. Unremarkable. The MRI shows two lesions on the brain. One on the left side and one on the right. The left one is active, the right one, for now, is not. The LP also shows the oligloconal banding…….” He rattled on like this for a minute while I fought to catch up, not completely understanding what this precious doctor was so delicately trying to tell me.

“YOU HAVE MS, MRS. GRIFFIN.”

I can handle this. No big deal. He explained all sorts of treatment options, what the cause was, what the lesions are doing to me…………………..

There was a window in my examination room. A small opening, but nevertheless, a window. It was positioned right above the head of the examination table. I was staring out it while he talked. Being so high up in Erlanger Hospital, I could see most of downtown Chattanooga. Cars kept driving. People kept walking…..conversing…..working……going about their own lives without even a clue as to what was happening on the 12th floor of Erlanger Hospital’s neurological center.

After a few moments to grasp what was going on, and a minute to get my bearings, Dr. Chander asked me if I was ok. I just stared at him.

“Am I gonna die? I know nothing about this…..I just know that Annette Funicello and Montel Williams have some MAJOR problems and she died and he’s in pain every cotton picking day! What the heck? I’m only 27, doc!”

He was very patient and reassured me that I was NOT going to die, at least not from MS, and a plus: NO PAIN! Woohoo!!! So, why am I so upset then? Hello, Brandi, it’s MS. Not exactly a day in the park.

So here it is:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive auto immune disease in which my immune system is not only attacking any foreign bacteria, infections or viruses, but it’s attacking my central nervous system(CNS) which includes my brain. Essentially, my body is at war with itself. There is a protective covering around the nerves and brain called myelin. Well, the myelin has been breached, therefore I have lesions on my brain and nerve damage. This causes the stroke symptoms. Yes, MS is the disease that causes crippledness, blindness and paralysis.

You cannot catch MS from me. It’s not contagious. Researchers don’t yet know what causes it or where it comes from. It is found in mostly females, ages 20 to 40. They’ve caught mine early, which is a plus. There are four courses of MS; I have the first one known as Relapsing-Remitting MS, which means that I relapse AND go into remission. The symptoms I was having which led us to this diagnosis were the result of an MS attack or flare-up. In my house, we lovingly call them “blips.” Attack sounds old lady, episode makes me sound like a hypochondriac, exacerbation is too much for someone who has a numb face to spit out, and flare-up is just plain old boring. BLIP sounds like I own it. And I do.

Since the first blip, I’ve had another one. With every blip, new lesions form. It actually started the morning I was diagnosed and I thought nothing of it until after talking with the doc. I experience the following: numbness and weakness on the right side including my face (the left lesion is the only ACTIVE one as of yet, therefore, I have no problems on the left side.) Blindness or loss of peripheral vision, loss of hearing or muffled sounds. Sometimes I can’t write or walk, but it’s all good. EXTREME fatigue. Double vision and dizziness. Slow cognitive function….this means I can’t concentrate, I lose my train of thought, I forget words or tell you things over and over again. My eyes do funny things when I’m reading or concentrating on a task….they move side to side really fast for a split second. I get crazy legs, commonly knows as restless leg syndrome and sometimes my muscles twitch….my leg will jump in my sleep. That’s a pain for Jordan because he tends to get kicked. Some of these symptoms I didn’t realize were a part of MS until AFTER the diagnosis when we started putting it all together. They're usually brought on by stress or just plain ole being too tired, but can also be aggravated by heat....well, there goes my sun bathing appointment by the pool. I also have to watch my temp when I get sick and try to avoid hot baths....I'm gonna have to pray about that last one. In the end, if that's ALL I have to sacrifice, I'm pretty sure I 'll get over it. But, just so you know: THIS WILL *NOT* INTERFERE WITH MY PAINTING OR SINGING. EVER. I won’t let it. Another high note, I can have as many babies as I want!!!!! The disease doesn't disappear during pregnancy, but researchers have found that in pregnancy, most MS women have little to NO symptoms. PRAISE GOD!!!!

I recently started treatments which will hopefully and prayerfully put me into remission, as in, NO SYMPTOMS. However, there is no cure for this confusing disease and I will be on medicine for the rest of my life, or until they find a better treatment option or, God willing, a cure. Once a week I take an injection called Avonex. This is the best MS treatment on the market right now. It will slow the progression of the disease, lessen the severity of MS attacks, shrink the lesions that are currently there, and prevent more from forming. It can also put me into remission, which is the ultimate goal. This will allow me to keep my quality of life, ie, no crippledness, blindness or paralysis, suffering from just a few symptoms that I can totally handle. The shot does, however, have flu like side effects which can last for about 24 hours, on average. Therefore on Mondays when I take it, I’m out of commission. This will happen for the next few weeks until I get used to the meds and the side effects wear off.

So this is my new life. I’m 27 years old and I have MS. I felt the need to tell you all because I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe that if you see me with a cane during a blip, it might very well raise an eyebrow or two. hahaha! But please, guys, don’t feel sorry for me or pity me; I DO NOT WANT PITY OR TO BE THE "FACE OF MS." This is a blessing from the Father! It could be SO much worse. And you know what? I CAN HANDLE IT. NO BIG DEAL. I’m still the same crazy nut you’ve always known, that you can always count on for prayer! I’ll always sing and I’ll always paint. I’ll always be BRANDI.

Besides that, my God is not finished with me! “He who began a good work in [ME] is able to complete it until the day of Christ” Philippians 1:6, and “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 Psalm 139 tells me that He knew me before He even formed me in my mother’s womb…..He had a plan for me even then! And yes, MS was a part of that plan. I don’t understand this anymore than you do, but I’m not gonna ask God why. I have no reason to! Isaiah tells us His ways and thoughts are higher than our own. I’d be out of my right mind to ask my Father WHY. I’m also not going to pretend that it wasn’t and isn’t hard for me. The first week was awful for Jordan and me and for our family; we didn’t know which way was up. I felt like I was falling through the air, spiraling out of control, with nothing to grab on to. It was crying one minute and laughing the next. Staring at the wall trying to put the pieces together became my daily activity. I buried myself in a game and didn’t paint for a week. I didn’t sing either. Then it all hit. I wasn’t giving up, but I needed time to think and PRAY….to seek God’s beautiful face in the midst of this very ugly and very painful storm. For a time, I felt like my world was crashing in on me….I’m BARBIE! I don’t get sick and if I do, I suck it up and move on…..SUCK IT UP AND MOVE ON. So that’s what I’m doing, albeit ever so slowly. This is not exactly the easiest mountain to climb, but with God, all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

Through all of this I’ve grown closer to God and seen His grace even more so in my life than I ever have before. His hand is ALL OVER MS. His hand is ALL OVER MY LIFE. I’m so grateful to Him for all He’s done and is doing for me. I don’t deserve His unending mercy and grace. I don’t deserve His love or His sacrifice. I don’t deserve HIM. But He loves me, nonetheless. Therefore, no matter what comes my way, even MS, I’ll carry my cross and be crucified daily with Him. Galatians 2:20

Through Him, I’m fighting this war inside of me that I can’t even see. I’m fighting an enemy I can’t even see. But aren’t we all? Ephesians 6:12 says that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our job is to run the race and fight the good fight, to resist the devil and flee from temptation, to glorify God in our daily lives, to honor and obey Him….all this, that we may have crowns to lay at His precious feet.

No, MS is not going to kill me. I will die from something else before I’ll die from MS, though I have no idea what that will be. However, I do know this, when that day comes, I will look at my Creator in His eyes and I’ll be able to say, “I love you so much that I never gave up….I never even thought about giving up.” And He’ll say to me, “Well done, my good a faithful servant.” And I’ll fall on my face and worship Him.

*With GOD, I can handle this. No big deal.*

To learn more go to: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx