This is going to be long, so either settle in or scroll to the bottom to get to the point of it all if you’re not in the mood to read. 👇🏼
I’m having my website professionally designed, something I’ve wanted to do since I started painting in 2008, and with the redesign, a new blog. I had a blog for years, but as our family grew, I didn’t have time for it and eventually just quit. I’d planned to have the website done within 2 weeks – that’s how long it took me working with a designer to get the one done for our business, GI Construction Management – but I’ve realized that it’s going to take much longer this time. I’d also planned for my first blog post to be my space to fully share what our family has been going through and how the Lord has been carrying us through in amazing and impossible ways, but since the blog comes with the website and it’s gonna be a minute before I can use either, I’ve decided to share this way, on a sort of temporary blog, until I can focus to get the designer what he needs to do my website the way I see it in my heart. I’d also fully expected to have final pathology back so I could include that in my sharing, but now it’s been sent for molecular testing because they don’t know what it is and my neurosurgeon said it should be back by my next follow up visit on June 30. It freaking better. 😤
I’ve been telling Dustin and my mom for literally years that I have no energy, ever. I always felt like they probably just thought I was lazy and I suppose I did, too. Lazy, depressed and with no purpose in life beyond keeping my kids alive every day. But it was more than that. I would get 8 hours of solid sleep and then drag through the days. I would walk from our playroom to the kitchen and be winded like I had just run up 3 flights of stairs. In hindsight, I’ve realized that I’ve even been having mild, but definitely not normal, neurological disturbances for years – like 10+. I just assumed that when I would stand up and my vision would go black sometimes, I’d stood up too fast, or when my tongue would go numb that it was probably something to do with my blood sugar. Or when one of my legs would be shaky and weak, it was just a random spasm or something. Or that my toes and fingertips were always cold as ice, I just always assumed that was either because I’ve lived overweight most of my adult life or bad circulation. Or the depression that I’ve dealt with since I was 14. The being suicidal when Phin was a newborn – I thought it was bc I have horrible PPD every time I have a baby and it was just worse with Phin bc he was my 3rd and I was older and more tired. I remember being awake in the middle of the night when Phin was a newborn and praying that God would give me some fast disease that would take me because I honestly believed that my family would be better off without me. The choice to get into drugs as a teenager and then spend 8 years in addiction. I’ve always wondered why I made the bad decisions I made as a teenager and young adult. I had a good life, a wonderful family, parents that love me – there was no reason for me to have been as unhappy as I was… I’m not a doctor, but none of the things have ever felt like red flags. 🚩 I’ve lived with all of it for so long, it just became normal life for me
I 2008 I read the book ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren. It’s an amazing book and one that I highly recommend; I’m going to re-read it now, where I am in my life and faith today, to be reminded of my purpose. We all have one, usually more than one, and to know that, and to seek the Lord for direction about what your individual purpose is, is such an exciting thing to do when you know that He is going to show you because He promises to answer the seeking heart. After I read the book, the Lord spoke clearly to my heart to begin painting and sharing His word in my artwork. It was not a hard ask as I have had a natural talent and a passion for art and being creative since I was very young. Creativity feeds my soul and makes me come alive in ways that nothing else does. So, I started painting. I made a website, I sold some art on Craigslist (because it was all the rage back then – not as many scams and murderers as are on there today), I sold some on eBay, I sold some on Etsy, and I donated a lot. And then I went to this thing at my parents’ church where you set up a table and sold your items – like a craft fair, but at their church. I sold nothing. I watched the other merchants around me selling their items, I had people come to look at my artwork, but no one seemed particularly impressed or interested in it. By the time it was over, I left, got in my car and cried as I drove towards home in Celina. I saw a church in McKinney on my way home and I pulled up in front of the building. The front doors to the church were unlocked, so I made numerous trips and brought every last painting that I had in my car, which were all the finished pieces I had done over years and some I did specifically for the fair, and left them inside. I did not look for anyone to talk to, I just left them and then cried myself home. I uploaded the pictures to my website of the canvases that I had donated that day on September 26, 2010, so I’m assuming this happened around that date. This was the first time I remember feeling like I should just quit painting. I wasn’t trying to make a living at it, but the fact that no one AT A CHURCH had any interest in my artwork that was meant to share God’s word, it made me question if I’m just not a good enough artist for people to want my art hanging in their homes. That little seed of doubt and discouragement grew over time and eventually I did quit painting. I came to say that I didn’t paint anymore because I don’t have time now that I have kids, but that wasn’t true. I quit painting from a place of disappointment, doubt and anger. I was mad at God for ever telling me to start in the first place. It wasn’t until the last month that I really realized how completely numb and apathetic I had become to this thing that once lit a fire in my soul. When my website was suspended in early 2022 because the saved payment method didn’t go through for the automatic monthly charge, I didn’t care. I did nothing. I thought, ‘No one ever goes to your website anyway and you don’t paint anymore, so why does it matter?’ I didn’t do anything about it until about a week and a half ago when I got the payment method updated and the website restored… because now I can feel again and that passion has come back to life. Y’all better go to my new website when it’s done and then tell me it’s amazing! 🎨❤️
Dustin and I have 3 kids: Asher, Elia and Phineas. I love my children with the deep love that only a parent can know. I wanted to be the best mom to them. I could think about the kind of mom I wanted to be to them and I would pray every night that the Lord would help me be better the next day, help me be more patient and present, help me not to lose my temper and yell so much, help me to put myself together and be the mom that I see all these other women around me managing to be every day, help me be the mom that I see in my heart… and then tomorrow would come and I would fail within the first 30 minutes. This went on for years, the going to God often, trying to lay my shortcomings at His feet and asking Him to turn me into anyone other than who I was. But I never did change. I just kept getting worse, in fact. I kept becoming more impatient, not enjoying the days and time spent with my family, more bitter that I could not be like these other moms that I would see at the playground, with their little mom groups while all their kids played together. I hated them…because I knew that I would never be as good as they were. I would never have friends that I trust, I would never be a part of a group of women because I believed that all people, but especially women, are liars, selfish, two-faced, gossiping, backstabbing, untrustworthy, and fake. I had no friends and I didn’t want any. I didn’t want to put forth the time, energy and hope that this time would be different. I knew that ultimately either they would prove me right in all the things I held in my heart about people or I would ruin it just by being my miserable self. So, I stopped making any effort to form relationships with anyone and I let what few barely friendships I had in my life go. I was happy to be alone. 🤷🏻♀️
I won’t share too much about the impact that this has had on my marriage, not yet anyway, but I will say that we have been married since January 25, 2003 and that it has been a difficult 19.5 years for both of us. I would say that it’s been harder for Dustin, but it’s been hard for both of us. The difference is that it’s been hard for him *because of me*. It’s been hard for me because of what I’ve been battling in my mind and heart for most of my life. I knew that Dustin had gotten the short end of the stick. I knew that I was a misery to be married to, in so many ways. I knew that he could do better in a heartbeat. He’s outgoing, friendly, honest, kind, thoughtful, hot (if I do say so), he’s an amazing husband and father, he is literally the hardest working person I know – Dustin is a catch and I knew this. And still I was so deeply unhappy. I wanted to be alone. I would think that I want a divorce so I can be alone. I didn’t want to be with anyone else, I just wanted to be alone. In all ways. I’d wonder why he stays, knowing no one else would – I wouldn’t if I were him! But I assumed it was because we have kids. That was the only reason I was staying. I was discouraging, unaffectionate, cold, uncaring, unthoughtful. So much bad. A couple weeks ago I asked him why he stayed? HOW did he stay? Was it the kids? He told me that he stayed because he loves me and he knows that who I’ve been for so long is not who I am. That’s sweet, but for me, if I were him, with how long I’ve been who I was and it just kept getting worse and worse, no matter how good of a person I knew him to be in his heart, I would have left. But then he told me this, and this is the real reason because only God can do the impossible… He said that he would pray all the time and talk to God about me, about our marriage, about the brokenness that he knew was in me and that when he would reach the end of his rope and be done, he would tell the Lord he was done. “I tried. Throwing in the towel. I can’t anymore.” And the Lord would tell him, “Give it time.” Give it time. Y’all can’t understand what those 3 words mean now to our marriage, to our relationship, to our friendship, to our family, to our kids (they may never know), to my heart, to my faith, to our future, to God’s good, impossibly good plans for our life. Dustin said there were times that even hearing that again would make him angry and he would say, “How long? How much more time?!” I would like to believe I would have the patience if I were in his shoes. If not, God would have to give it to me and maybe that’s what he did for Dustin. Thank God he stayed. ❤️
Since the beginning of 2021, I’ve been feeling more and more tired. It’s hard to pin it down exactly, but I think back to when I really started not caring what our house looked like, not taking care of myself at all, not keeping the kids in clothes that fit, not brushing my hair or their hair daily, just not caring, and it’s been a long time, but also recently in the grand scheme of how long this has been going on. In the months before we sold our house, I was exhausted every day. I would sleep all night and then be tired and angry all day. I would sleep on the couch in the playroom and yell at the kids if they made too much noise because it would wake me. It wasn’t good. It also wasn’t normal, but I thought I was just so unhappy that sleeping made the day go faster. I remember sleeping a lot when I was a teenager and young adult to not have to face life. I thought that’s what I was doing. As we prepared the house to list, I did virtually nothing and it wasn’t because I didn’t want to be helping – I did not have the energy to be helping. After we sold the house and were packing to move, I packed virtually nothing. I remember filling boxes with the kids’ clothes while sitting on the floor in their rooms and being so tired doing it. Thank goodness for Dustin or we’d still be trying to pack that house now, 2.5 months after closing. And thank goodness for our good friend, probably one of our best friends, Jake, for helping us move out of Celina and into Saint Jo. He always shows up when we need him and he did this time, too. ❤️
So. We moved into our new rental home in Saint Jo on March 19, 2022. Less than a week later, I started having bad - I mean BAD - headaches. It felt like clawed hands were trying to rip the 2 sides of my brain apart at the base of my skull, above my neck and the whole back of my head. These would come numerous times, every single day for almost a month. Over the next month, I started having other things happen like my tongue would go numb, my eye sight would be impaired - I could still see, but I could tell it wasn’t right - then the thing that made me realize that something was wrong wrong was that my right leg refused to lift when I was walking. It happened 3 separate times. The 3rd time I was walking into Walmart with Elia and Phin and I was having to physically push my right leg forward with my arm. I knew I needed to get into a neurologist stat after that. 🧠
I saw Dr. Somyreddy in Irving on April 25 for a consult and she referred me for an MRI in Southlake on April 29. We have no insurance, by choice, which is why I was driving all over God’s green earth to places that give discounts to self-pay patients. I went to the MRI on the 29th, my first ever. The tech told me to wait after words bc it was lunch time and Dr. Somyreddy had asked that the images be sent to her before they let me leave, so I’d have to wait for her office to get back from lunch. So, I waited… for about 10 minutes. Then the tech came out with my disc in his hand and said, “Your doctor is still at lunch, but our radiologist looked at your images and said that you need to go directly from here to the nearest ER.” I said, “What?!” Then he hugged me. I think what I said as it was happening was, “I haven’t seen you hug anyone else goodbye. That can’t be good.” Then he walked away quickly. The girl who’d taken my payment when I got there was standing there and I looked at her and said, “What about my turtle?” See, I’d picked up an injured turtle the night before and had brought it in a box, it was currently at the front desk so it wouldn’t get hot in my car during my appointment, and I was going to take it to the rehabilitator in East Plano after my appointment and then go home to Saint Jo. Y’all know I’ll cross half the state, maybe the whole state, to save an animal. She told me I could come back after I go to the ER because they’re open from 8-11pm for uninsured patients (knowing I would be admitted, but I didn’t know that), so I said I would do that. She also said she would take care of the turtle if I could not make it back to get it. Spoiler Alert: She let it go at a creek. To its death. 😡 I’ll never not be mad about that and when I go to get my disc (bc the hospital kept the one I brought with me that day and I was told I need to keep any MRI’s I have), I will say something. So, I ended up at Medical City in Plano because the first hospital I went to told me that I needed a trauma 1 hospital with a neurology department. MCP is 5 minutes from my parents’ house and even though I didn’t know what was on the MRI yet, I had a feeling Dustin might need my mom to help watch the kids… I didn’t know how right my gut was. 🐢
When I got to MCP, I parked not too far away from the ER entrance and then proceeded to have the most difficulty walking that I ever have in my entire life. It took me almost 10 minutes to make a maybe 2-minute walk from my car. Both my legs weren’t working properly and kept trying to buckle. I had to keep sitting down, steadying myself before I took more steps… but I eventually made it. And then it passed. These motor skill deficiencies and neurological impairments would only ever last a few minutes and then be gone and they weren’t often. They got me registered and into a room fast for the ER. Dustin was there by the time the neurology team came in and we met Dr. Michael Turner, who would be my neurosurgeon, for the first time. The ER nurse, who I think said she was a neuro nurse, said she had been a nurse for over 10 years and wasn’t even sure what she was looking at on my MRI. They were all shocked that I hadn’t been having seizures, that I still had my sight, and that I didn’t have any frequent or major mobility issues, all because of the size and placement of the tumor. They told us that I had a very large tumor on my left frontal lobe, that they would be admitting me and that I would need surgery to remove it. And my first response was to tell Dr. Turner about the turtle and that I was supposed to go back to get it before they closed to get it to the rehabilitator. If he weren’t a neurosurgeon, he would’ve thought maybe I needed to be in a mental hospital instead.
🤪🐢 …but my turtle… 🤷🏻♀️
Here’s the thing, I felt zero fear. I was not afraid, I wasn’t stressed, I felt nothing. I was weirdly and unnaturally numb to the whole situation and to what was happening and my only concern was the turtle. I’d become numb and uncaring about anything for a while at that point, and while I realized it, I thought it was because I realized that life for me was always going to be bad. I was always going to be this person that I hated and, for whatever reason, I would never be able to receive freedom from the Lord, so I’d stopped asking Him for help. I never stopped believing that He is good, His promises are true, or that He is always faithful to fulfill His promises to His children – I never even stopped believing that I was His child – but I no longer believed that I could rid my faith of the doubt to receive anything good from God for myself. I was wrong. ❤️
I was in the hospital from April 29 – May 9. Phin turned 3 on May 2, but we didn’t tell him so that we could celebrate as a family once I was discharged. 🎂 Mother’s Day was May 8 and the kids made cards and stuff, my mom brought some things up, and we celebrated as a family once I’d been home for a few days. ❤️ My surgery was on May 4. Maybe I would never forget that date simply because I had my head cut open and a tumor scooped out, but I will definitely always remember it because there were ‘May the 4th be with you’ balloons and signs everywhere and Phin really liked the balloons. 🎈 That’s why I will remember May the 4th. Plus, now ‘May the 4th be with you’ has a whole new meaning to me! 🛸🧠🪚
Before my surgery, Dr. Turner told Dustin that when someone has a tumor in this particular part of their brain, known as the Broca area, it affects everything about their personality, their emotions, mental stability, impulse control, speech, mobility – basically all the things that make a person WHO they are, or at least who they seem to be.
This website gives more information if you want to read about it:
Dr. Turner told Dustin that when a tumor is removed from this part of the brain that there might be positive personality changes, I suppose depending on what kind of personality the patient had prior to the removal and dependent (again, I’m assuming) on the size of the tumor. That was about the only good possible outcome that he informed Dustin of… that, and I wouldn’t have a giant tumor in my brain causing me crazy headaches, googly eyes and making me walk like my legs were full of jelly sometimes. Then, after surgery was over, Dr. Turner’s nurse called to tell Dustin that the surgery was completed after only 2 hours (they’d said it would take between 5-8 hours initially) and that I did great. Dr. Turner got on the phone next to talk to Dustin and ran down what it could look like when I came out of anesthesia. He told him that Dustin would be the test to know if there were any substantial changes. He told Dustin to look for motor skill issues, cognitive impairments, speech impairments, he told him I may not be able to speak, swallow, move, he said some people are in a vegetative state – basically that I could be in way worse shape when I came out than when I went in. Back up really quick to before my surgery: Dr. Turner had told Dustin and I that I ‘would’, not could, would need impatient rehab for a month after surgery and that I would likely need speech and physical therapy. He was adamant that we get insurance, but without going on a rant and making this even longer, our for-profit medical industry has decided that this is now a pre-existing condition and will not cover any subsequent care I may need for it, so I won’t be getting insurance. Fast forward back to me waking up from surgery. I woke up, fine. Perfectly fine. Zero impairments. Dustin said I cussed at him a little, even growled at one point, as I was waking up – and in front of the nurse – I’m not going to share what I said bc it involves a couple different variations of the most colorful of all the cuss words, but that I said it in front of the nurse makes it hysterical. I could not stop laughing when Dustin told me because I have no recollection at all… so really, did I say it? 🤔🤬🤦🏻♀️
I was in Neuro ICU for 1 day before they transferred me back up to the Neuro Step Down Floor. When we got up to my room, they rolled me in in a wheelchair and I immediately got up, said I needed to pee and took myself to the bathroom with no help. While I was in there, Dustin said the nurse stood there speechless, looking back and forth between the bathroom door and Dustin and Dustin just shrugged. 🤷🏻♂️ She left the room when I came out and then came back in and said she’d gone to check the charts to make sure they sent the right person up! 💪🏼 I spent the next 5 days in the hospital. I told Dustin to go home and not bring the kids up because I didn’t want them to see me with the bandage on my head 🤕 and that was before my eye swelled up like I lost a fight with Mike Tyson! 🥊 Dr. Turner told Dustin that the tumor was the size of a grapefruit and weighed 2 pounds! 🧠 Everyone at the hospital was amazing, I never developed a single impairment, it was like a little vacation for the next 5 days. I rested in a dark, quiet room and watched tv, played FortNite on my XBox, played on my phone, or talked on the phone without 3 kids making too much noise for me to actually have a conversation. It was nice, I am not gonna lie. 🏝 Then I was discharged on May 9.
Dr. Turner told me in the ER, before I had even been admitted, that the first 1-3 months post op would be difficult… and he was not wrong. He said that I would be more lethargic than I have ever been in my life – which was hard for me to believe with how tired I’d already been for so long, but I quickly realized that this is a different tired. I can’t even explain it. This is a trapped in bed, sometimes for days in a row, can’t stand for more than 5 minutes sometimes, arms get tired holding my phone kind of tired. Definitely unlike anything I’ve ever been through. He told Dustin that my emotions would be very up and down, like a roller coaster, for 1-3 months post op and that I would be irrational at times. Also, pretty spot on. 😍😡😂😭😤😧😁😵💫🤢🤪 There have been more hard than easy days since coming home, especially now that we live an hour and a half away from my parents and have no help. But we are getting through them. Dustin can’t work right now. He is responsible for everything: taking care of the kids, homeschool (though that’s pretty much been put on the shelf until I can help more), cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, daily cleaning of 3 litter boxes (y’all, we have 10 cats – that’s not a chore anyone wants to be solely responsible for and one that we used to take turns doing), mowing the yard (and we have a LOT more yard now), taking the kids everywhere with him and taking care of me, sometimes as I am in bed all day long… but we just sold our house, so we are living off the profit from that right now. It makes me want to cry (it’s possible I have ugly sobbed about it numerous times and will likely shed more tears in the future about it) because that’s not at all what we planned for that money, especially after being in that house for almost 16 years and getting more for it than we ever dreamed possible, but I also see the blessing and provision in not having to worry about money right now. 🏡 Every day my mind becomes more clear. I have a mile long list of things I want to get done, but my body doesn’t cooperate most days. Some days I can be on my feet more than usual, but most days I can’t. And now that I’ve spent over a month horizontal in bed more than I have vertically on my feet, I can feel how much weaker my body feels when I do stand for too long. That’s very frustrating. I have developed a couple ‘deficits’, I guess you could call them. I have a stutter now. It’s not bad and it’s much worse when I’m tired or having emotions come over me quickly and strongly, but it’s also weirdly comforting. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s the best way I can explain it. We laugh about it most of the time, unless it’s happening when I’m dealing with the hard emotions - you don’t mess with Laura when she’s in the middle of a meltdown! 😉 My hands shake sometimes, usually when I’m tired or haven’t eaten enough. I’ve had a few times, like 3, that I had difficulty walking, but each time was when I was in the middle of hard, strong emotions. Sleep sucks. That’s a common thing with any brain surgery apparently, so that’s awesome. I get an average of 2-4 hours every 24 hours. When the deprivation starts to compile, that’s usually when the irrational emotions come. And I ramble. Rudely. I’ve started telling anyone I talk to to just cut me off and say, “It’s my turn to talk now.” I find it obnoxious and I’m the one doing it, so I know others will, too. So. You know, I won’t lie and say that my healing is complete this minute, it’s not… but it will be. In Jesus’ name. And if I get to keep the stutter, I’m cool with that. I kind of like it and Dustin thinks it’s cute. 😍 The rest can git! 👉🏼🚪👋🏼✌🏼
❤️ 3 John 1:2: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
Here is the impossible part of all of this… I am a new person. In every way. It is insane. It is unbelievable. It is impossible. I am free of emotional bondage that I thought I would struggle with for the rest of my life. I am free of the anger that had completely consumed me for years – it is gone, like it never existed at all. I don’t feel jealous, bitter, resentful, depressed – none of it. It’s gone. I am excited to make some friends, join a homeschool group so I make friends and the kids make other homeschool friends. I am affectionate and amorous towards my husband in the healthy and godly way that a wife is meant to be. This has brought so much healing and deliverance for my heart and mind. The Lord has used this to deliver me in ways I never thought would happen. It’s impossible. Dustin and my parents know better than anyone ever will because I’d quit speaking to anyone except him and my mom. I had no friends for over a year and a half now and no one, but those 2, know how bad it had gotten, so only they can fully appreciate the change that has taken place. But believe me when I say that this is a miracle. I have days when I feel anxiety, but it’s my brain healing. I have times when I sob uncontrollably right now, times when I snap in anger or frustration, but it’s not like before. I can tell that it’s in an irrational way and I know it’s my brain putting itself back together. People have said to me, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” And I respond, “I’m not. This has been a blessing in every sense of the word. I am so thankful for this brain tumor!” Having it removed has freed me in ways I never thought I would be and I know it’s God using what the devil meant for bad for good – so much better than I could ask or think. Because that’s His way. I am feeling emotions I haven’t felt in years, both good and, I don’t want to say bad because sadness isn’t always bad, but also not ‘good’ – I’ll say it like this: It feels good to feel again, all the emotions… except the anxiety and the nausea that’s been coming with it – that could have stayed gone. Haven’t missed that, but I know it's temporary. So. There it is. I’ll attach some pictures, because the obnoxious love of taking pictures never went away, just the desire to share anything with anyone, so I stopped posting much of anything for almost 2 years now. I’m excited to start my blog and continue sharing about how the Lord is using this whole thing to draw us in closer to Him than we have ever been, closer to each other than we have ever been, and to allow excitement and hope about our future to reign over doubt and fear for the first time in a very long time. It won’t be smooth sailing all the time, but we know He is either in the boat with us or walking on the water alongside us. Never alone.
❤️ My God does the impossible and I am free. 🕊
❤️ John 8:36: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
❤️ Luke: 18:27: Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
❤️ 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
❤️ Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.