Monday, April 29, 2013

What I Know About Thyroid Issues

I think the hardest thing about suffering from thyroid issues is when the world looks at you, they can't see there is anything wrong.  I'm sure this is the case with other sicknesses as well.  But my thyroid began betraying me about eight years ago, so I can speak from experience concerning the struggles that follow.

I didn't remember how alone I felt during that first year following my diagnosis until I chatted with a friend who just recently learned that she too is experiencing thyroid mishap.  She sat across from me, tears streaming down her face, describing exactly how I felt, and all I could do was cry for her.   I hate to see anyone go through what I've been through..


My thyroid adventure led me down a path of deep depression.  But it wasn't just me who felt overwhelmed before I even got out of bed in the morning.  I dragged my husband down with me.  We went to very dark places.  Not always together.  Sometimes very far apart.

I remember my first visit to a highly recommended endocrinologist.  Our conversation went something like this...

Dr.:  How long ago did they kill your thyroid?
Me:  One year ago.
Dr.:  And they haven't gotten you regulated yet?
Me:  No.
Dr.:  And you're still married?
Me (looking to Keith, a little confused):  Yes.
Dr.:  And you haven't killed anyone?
Me (amused):  No.
Dr.:  And obviously your husband hasn't killed you.
Me: giggle, giggle
Dr.:  I'd say that's a miracle.


I've told you much of my thyroid story in a previous blog titled I Miss My Thyroid -

What I didn't tell you is how it seems the world sees you...  What they say...  What they think...  How they act...  How they make you feel...

As I've said before, the hardest part of my experience was the toll it took on my family.  I was not physically, mentally, or emotionally able to love and nurture my husband or my children the way they deserved.

I requested help from friends and loved ones (food, housekeeping, child care).  My mother-in-law is a saint.  She cooked and cleaned and fed and bathed and loved and prayed for us every day.  My sister is my hero.  She took days off of work, moved in and took over, doing everything I couldn't.  My best friend is amazing.  She lived in Iowa, but coordinated meals for my family.

Let me tell you, you find out who your friends are in times like that.  You learn who you can count on.  And you realize just how kind, or how hurtful, others can be.

While some people willingly stepped up to the plate, others just didn't understand.

I was accused of "faking my symptoms."

I was told it wasn't "as bad as I made it seem."

How can you know if you haven't walked in my shoes?

People rolled their eyes, looked at me incredulously, and questioned my motives.

The most hurtful words were, "These are your children.  You need to take care of them."

I think those words hurt me the most because they were so true.  These are my children.  I do need to take care of them.  That's why this was so hard.  There is nothing I wanted more in the world than to take care of my children.  It still breaks my heart that I could not.

For it to be implied that I had abandoned my role of motherhood and had no desire to be responsible for my children...  the pain of those words literally took my breath away.


That was years ago.  I know now that God carried us through those times.  My marriage is stronger now than it has ever been.  And I spend every moment I possibly can loving and nurturing my children.


I'm saying all that to say this...

If you know someone who suffers from hypothyroidism, I encourage you to pray for them.  They don't look sick.  They don't look tired.  They don't look unhealthy.  But trust me when I tell you, they are exhausted.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

The world doesn't know the struggles you face.  But God does.

Tell Him when you are tired.  Tell Him when you are overwhelmed.  He will lift you up.  He will give you strength.

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
    and with my song I give thanks to him.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Things I've Learned from Six Smelly Chickens

Soooo...  if you've been reading my Facebook posts, you've gotten a glimpse into the feathered chaos that has both frightened and entertained me over the last month.  They're called chickens.  Or as I call them - Omelet #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.  OR when they make me mad, I call them...  well...   never mind...

I probably shouldn't put that in writing anyway.  Most people think I'm sweet and may have a hard time picturing me that angry.

Except for my sisters.  They still talk about our childhood days and how my temper would flare when my hair wouldn't cooperate.  They had to watch out for flying hairbrushes.  FYI ~ I don't do that anymore.  ;)

And my husband, who has finally figured out that he shouldn't tell an angry Marci to calm down.  It only makes it worse.

Aaaanyway, I digress.

So about four weeks ago, my husband brought home a big box filled with six baby female chicks.  I know what you're thinking.  Awwwww...  baby chicks...  how cute...

No.  No, no, no, no, no.

You see, I've spent four weeks with these chickens.  FOUR WEEKS!

I'm educated now.  Let me tell you what I've learned...

1.  If you feed them, they will poo.
The box my husband brought home also contained newspaper, chicken food, water, a heat lamp, and these tiny little splotches of chicken poo.  You know how most things are cute when they're tiny?  Well, no matter how tiny they are, piles of chicken poo are never cute.   And just because they are small, doesn't mean they don't smell.

2.  If you heat them, they will grow... and poo.
Like all babies, chicks need warmth.  So if you're not going to provide them with a mama hen, you must provide them with a heat lamp.  However, this not only serves as a source of warmth.  Apparently it also encourages their growth.  And the bigger the chicks, the bigger the piles of stinky, smelly poo.

3.  If you hold them, they will scream.... and poo.
From the moment I first saw them, I had no desire to hold them in my hand.  Does this make me abnormal?  I don't know.  But my youngest son, Camden, really wanted to hold them.  And I could always tell the second he picked one of them up.  You know that moment in scary movies when the pretty girl is about to get chopped up into tiny pieces and she lets out this deafening scream that makes you cover your ears and hide your eyes?  Imagine that sound coming from a chicken.  It's actually kinda funny when I put it that way.  Heeheehee...  Of course, the downside is a scary Camden = more chicken poo.

4.  If you move them, they will fly...  and poo.
Of course, all the piles of stinky, smelly poo in the bottom of the box need to be cleaned out on a daily basis (sometimes twice a day, depending on how many times Camden picks them up).  So, I had to move the chickens to a different box, in order to get the gross, disgusting, yucky newspapers out of their original box.  One day, while I was in the midst of this process, one brave little chicken decided to "be like Mike" and fly out of the box.  She proudly sat on the side of the box.  And I'm pretty sure she was smiling.  I reacted as any normal human would.  I screamed like a baby girl, then pushed her back in the box.  But not before she managed to poo on my laundry room floor.  That's probably why she was smiling.  The little biddy.  :)

5.  There's only room for one female in this house.  
For three and a half weeks, I got up every morning, cleaned the box, changed the water and added food for those six smelly chickens.  All the while, they are pecking my hands, pooing on my floor and calling me names.  I couldn't understand them, but I'm sure they weren't saying nice things.  It didn't take me long to figure out, there is only room for one female in this house.  So I conveniently scheduled a four-day visit to my sister's house this week, thereby requiring my husband to do the "chicken chores" every morning...

And when I came home...

those chickens had been moved outside to the chicken coop.

In your face, chickens!


People always say that God will not give you more than you can handle.

I believe this is true.  God will not give us more than we can handle.

But I think life gives us more than we can handle.

It dumps heavy (sometimes smelly) loads on our shoulders that often weigh more than what we alone can carry.   We stumble.  We fall.  We cry.  We run away to our sister's house.  And then somehow we find the strength and the courage to get back up again.  That's when, whether we realize it or not, God is carrying us.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I am so thankful God has carried me through these last four weeks.  Those chickens should be thankful too.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Marci the Builder

About four months ago, I started building a wall.  I began laying down bricks, applying mortar, and stacking them up.

I didn't realize until today just how big it had gotten.

(It's not a real wall.  It's a metaphor.  Stay with me.  You'll understand.)

People usually build walls to keep things out - to separate themselves from something, or someone.  I have been building a wall to keep reality away.  I don't like reality.  It's cruel.  It's harsh.  And it hurts.


Last December, I got an early morning phone call from my friend and neighbor, Elisha Skeen.  She knows I like to sleep in, so when I heard her shaky voice say, "Hey" - not a "good morning" or "how are you doing" kind of "hey".  Just "hey".  I knew something was wrong.

I thought maybe her two-year-old son was sick, or maybe her car wouldn't start.  I never expected her to tell me she had been in the emergency room because of headaches.  Or that they had found lesions on her brain.  Or that her cancer was back.  "It's not good," she said, "but I wanted you to hear it from me, not on Facebook."

"That sucks, Elisha.  That really sucks.  I am so sorry this is happening to you."  That's what I said.  As good as I am at writing, the best thing I could come up with is That sucks.  

It did suck.  It still sucks.


That's when I started building my wall.

Later that week, I googled "brain lesions following breast cancer".  There was no good news.  So I laid more bricks.

She ended up in the hospital, underwent brain surgery, lost her hair again, messed up her vision, missed her son, strengthened her faith, encouraged her husband, loved her family, stood up to cancer, inspired thousands of people, and moved to Heaven.  All the while she trusted God and prayed to God and praised God.

I trusted God too.  I prayed to God too.  I praised God too.

But I kept building my wall.


It's been three weeks since Elisha died.

I stopped crying about a week after it happened.  Since then, I have felt sorta numb.

I think it's because of my wall.  I kinda got carried away with all the bricks.

You can't see my wall.  But I know it's there.

My husband knows it's there too.  He recognizes the bricks - shopping, eating out, visiting my sister, going out with my cousin, computer time, reading, watching TV - anything to keep me from having to face the fact that she is gone.

It's easier to focus on something else, anything else, than it is to deal with reality.


I was listening to K-LOVE radio today, and 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman came on...

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O o o my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
Worship Your holy name

This song was played at the end of Elisha's funeral.

I started to sing along, and I thought about the last time we spoke.  About the last time we texted.  About the last time I saw her.

I miss her.

I miss someone else, too.  I miss God. 

While I have continued to pray, continued to trust, continued to read, continued to go to church, continued to praise, continued to love...  I haven't felt close to God in a very long time.

My wall not only separated me from the hurt of losing Elisha, but it also separated me from my personal relationship with God.

And I miss Him.


So I'm getting out of the wall-building business.  

I've got more important things to focus on.  Like how blessed I am to have known Elisha.  How blessed I am to be able to help Steven and Sawyer.  How blessed I am to be alive.

And how God is good.  All the time.  

The Bible says in Matthew 11:28 ~
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

I'm tired of building.  

Those bricks are heavy; and (as my husband would say) those bricks are expensive. 

I'm not a builder anyway.  I'm a farmer.  :)


To hear 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman, click here...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I want to be a farmer too.

My husband and I went to Elisha's funeral on Friday.  I have never been to a funeral where I left feeling better than I had when I arrived.  But isn't it just like Elisha to have a funeral like that.

When we walked in, there were three screens running through a collage of pictures dating back to her childhood.  We were provided a glimpse into the past, when she was young with long dark hair, and big brown eyes.  The family included some humorous photos that made everyone chuckle when they came on the screen.  We watched her grow up right before our eyes.

Her preacher was emotional, as is expected considering he, like so many of us, prayed diligently and believed she would be healed.  What he said, that stuck with me the most, was he is just as disappointed as the rest of us that it had come to this - Elisha being in Heaven, instead of here on Earth.  He didn't try to explain how or why this happened.  He stood there and mourned for her, just like the rest of us were doing.  For some reason, I found that comforting.

Her brother-in-law, Cole...  Wow.  Now he brought the whole room to tears the moment he started speaking.  Or trying to speak.  He couldn't get his first few words out because he was so overcome with grief.  It was heartbreaking.  But then he began to tell us how awesome Elisha was.  And you could feel the tears begin to fade into smiles, and giggles.  Happy memories began to push away the grief.  At least for a little while.

He read from her blog.  (  I thought this was genius.  What better way to comfort those who love her than with her own words...

"I can look back and see God's hand on my life the entire time. 
The devil is good at what he does. He really is. He came to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to steal my joy, kill my body, destroy my family, my relationships, my life even. I'm happy to tell him, He's a big, fat failure. It's just not going to happen. 
My decision is to live my life. Regardless of what ... good news or bad news is given to me ... I am going to live for Jesus. I really do give my life to him. I am going to keep on, keeping on. I will be joyful. I will stand by my God. I will keep trying to show his love to others with how I live my life. I will live my entire life thanking God for my family, my blessings. I'm going to live my life praising God until the last breath my body takes.
I don't care if cancer kills me in a year, 10 years, whatever. If I die, I want ya'll to tell people, Yes, she died, but the devil still didn't win.  I refuse to be continually discouraged.  Jesus loves me, he died for my sins, so I could have eternal life. His mercies (thankfully) are new every day. He wants me to be encouraged, uplifted, joyful, thankful, happy. And that's what I'm going to be. The devil may succeed in ruining a few days now and then. But he will not win over my life.
I know there is a plan for me. Jesus has had his eye on me from the very beginning, even when I was just a little peanut, before my birth, in my mama's womb. He had good plans. He has given me a wonderful life, filled with love and amazing people. I have the soul mate I've always dreamed of. I have a beautiful little boy, if I do say so myself. My decision is to enjoy what I've been blessed with, focus on the positive in my life, and keep trying to be the best I can be. 
In totally submitting my life to Jesus, I will answer whatever calling is on my life. If I'm to witness through this blog, if I'm to write a book, if I'm just to give others inspiration with my story, whatever it is, I'm going to do it. The devil picked the wrong girl and he seriously underestimated me and he underestimated my God if he thinks what's happening to me is going to ruin me. It's not. I'm not ruined. In fact, I'm stronger and more uplifted than ever. 
This post may be a little bit all over the place, and it might be weird to some reading this, but I've got to say, it's from my heart. I am simply refusing to give in and let this mess over take me. I may have rough days, and I know we all do from time to time. But I'm making the decision to praise God and be thankful regardless of my circumstance. 
I'm deciding to put all my trust and faith in the Lord, it's the safest place I can be."

Cole shared some texts Elisha had sent to her sister, Karen, about a message she had heard at church one Sunday.  Her preacher talked about our role in bringing others to Christ.  Following that service, Elisha and her husband, Steven, had a discussion in which she told him that she'd never led anyone to the Lord.  Steven told her she was wrong.  She had led him to the Lord.

Wow.  How awesome is that?  I think everyone was truly moved, just imagining that moment of realization for her.  She had brought her husband into a personal relationship with Jesus.  I wonder if everyone else was thinking what I was thinking.  "Who have I led to the Lord?"

In closing, Cole told us that Elisha saw herself as "a farmer".  Everyone laughed, assuming she was referring to the fact that she lived on a chicken farm.  But that's not what she meant.  She realized that, through her blog, she was touching lives, and telling people about Jesus.  She was planting seeds of faith into the hearts of every person who read her words.  She was a farmer.


Elisha used to tell me that I am brave.  Because of the things I write about on my blog.  Which is mostly all about me.

Me?  Brave?  This coming from the girl who faced breast cancer, chemotherapy, hair loss, sickness, radiation, etc.

I'm not brave.

I just like to write.

Writing about myself is not brave.  Writing about myself is safe.  No one can get upset with me for the things I say about myself.  Except me.  That's not brave at all.

Elisha was probably one of the biggest fans of my blog.  She loved every thing I wrote.  She would text me after most every post to let me know she read it, and she loved it.  She even shared some of my posts on her Facebook page.

When she would write a blog post, she would always send a text to let me know.  I think my response to every post started off with these three words - "I love it!"  Because I did.  I loved every thing she wrote.  Her posts were awesome.  Her words were always powerful, touching your heart and staying with you for days.


My posts always tell a story, providing insight into my life, my heart, and my mind.

Elisha's posts inspired, uplifted, encouraged, and always pointed to God.


It makes me sad to realize she won't be writing any more posts.  Her blog touched so many more people than mine ever will.

I want my blog to be more like Elisha's blog.

Perhaps I should try to incorporate some of Elisha's blogging methods into my future writings.  I can tell a story, which is what I do best, and then find a way to point it back to God.  To honor her memory, I will try to inspire, uplift and encourage.

Elisha was a farmer.  I want to be a farmer too.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Girl Next Door

My friend and neighbor, Elisha Skeen, spent the last 18 months fighting cancer.  It was a roller-coaster ride with more downs than ups, and it ended very badly.

She died last Tuesday.

I can't quite wrap my brain around that.

I've spent the last hour and half re-reading her blog.  I swear when I read her words, it's like she still lives next door.  It feels like I could get a text from her any minute telling me what she ate for lunch and asking me if my meal choices were any better than hers.  For the record, most of the time, they weren't.  We shared that weakness.  

I miss her.

There are so many things I want to tell her about.  Things I would tell her because she would totally get it.

Like, the week before last, my husband brought home six baby chicks.  WHAT?!  We're not chicken farmers!  Her husband, Steven, is a chicken farmer, thereby making Elisha a chicken farmer.  But I am NOT a chicken farmer.  Except now it seems I AM a chicken farmer.

Again, WHAT?!

Elisha would understand my shock and confusion.  I never expected to be married to a man who wants me to go out every evening and gather eggs.  How did this happen?

I want to tell her he brought home a rabbit that week too.  What is happening here?  Who is this man, and what did he do with my husband?  This is all Steven's fault...

I can totally see Elisha and I walking up and down "the compound" talking about how crazy all this is.  We'd be taking turns pushing her son, Sawyer, in the stroller, all the while talking, cracking jokes, laughing...   It makes me smile.

It also makes me cry.


It's not like Elisha and I were best friends.  We somehow ended up living on the same road, married to childhood best friends, each of us right next door to our in-laws.  If that isn't enough to bond us for life, I don't know what is.  It was inevitable that our lives would be intertwined on a daily basis.  We were neighbors, and we were friends.

We didn't see each other every day.  But we chatted via Facebook or text on an almost-daily basis.  And it was always funny.  Even when things were bad for her, she somehow made it funny.  That's just who she was.

I hate saying "was".


I spent the first four days following her death trying to focus on how to help Steven and Sawyer.  That somehow made it easier to cope.  It wasn't until I woke up Saturday morning that I found myself sobbing uncontrollably.  That continued much of the day.  I am so heartbroken.

Understand.  I am not heartbroken for Elisha.  Not anymore.

I know she is so much happier in heaven, finally living pain free, and singing praises at the feet of Jesus.  How awesome is that to imagine?

I'm heartbroken for me.

Because there are some things that only the girl next door would understand.