Showing My Scars

This next post was originally going to be a book review of “You Are the Girl For the Job” by Jess Connolly, but instead I’ll just leave you with the link. https://www.christianbook.com/girl-daring-believe-god-who-calls/jess-connolly/9780310352457/pd/352457?event=ESRCQ (feel free to leave comments about the awesome book below!). Today I have something else to talk about.

Some people are ashamed of their scars. Also, some people are ashamed of other people’s scars. After my first set of brain surgeries in 2016, it was one of the very first times I was ever grossed out by my own body. I couldn’t even touch the ear-shaped scar filled with dissolvable stitches (although I thought it was pretty cool when the stitches would fall out! 😊), and in the beginning I washed that part of my scalp with a loufah instead of my fingers. However, I am not only unashamed of my scars, but want to let them be, uncovered and all. I want to let my hair fall naturally and no longer always part it on the other side. I also now have two different textures of hair– and you know what?– even though it often annoys me, it’s OKAY. Good, even. I know I am still a beautiful woman created by God WITH my scars. And, yes, with my next set of surgeries beginning July 7th (I mentioned May in a previous post, but the newest date is July 7th) I will probably have more/new scars and they might gross me out in the beginning. I may cover up hair loss with a wig. But, eventually, I hope to proudly display my scars again, embracing my true self and choosing not to hide them (some of the time, anyway 😉).

Henceforth, when my posts relate to my surgeries, I want to introduce the hashtag #journalthejourney !

As always, keep on smiling!

Hopefully we’ll talk again soon.

Smiles,

Tia 😊😁😊

Review of Cultivate by Lara Casey

This post contains an affiliate link.

Have you ever tried to do it all and kept failing? Or maybe felt like someone else WAS doing it all and doing great at it? Lara Casey addresses these issues and more in her second book, Cultivate. Filled with both lighthearted stories and deep struggles, Casey shows the reader how God was at work in her life through her quick marriage, miscarriage, and now three children– and how she turned from plant-killer into major gardener! She takes stories and examples from her rural/suburban town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina and relates them to struggles women face every day– times of waiting, sorrow, making new friends, comparing oneself to others– and doesn’t leave you empty-handed. I was touched, I laughed, I was given hope, and heard some great quotes! My favorites? “Cultivated friendship overlooks your broken fence and admires your garden.” And, “She believed she couldn’t, so He did.”

That last quote turns society’s attitude on it’s head, doesn’t it? It’s not all about us. We’re not naturally equipped. Jesus is. Casey uses no shortage of Scripture as she discusses different “seasons” of life, alluding to Ecclesiastes 3. In addition, the end of the book includes discussion questions– so although I read it on my own, it can also be a tool to dive deep in with your closest friends! (Tip: since some of the questions get close to the heart, I would suggest you gather a small group of people at a time). Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you are willing to grow, learn, and stretch yourself. Plus, who knows? You might even end up wanting to plant a garden. 😉

Have a great day, reader! Keep on smiling!

Smiles,

Tia ;-D

For more on Lara Casey Isaacson herself, click here.

Dear Younger Me

The awesome Christian band named MercyMe has a song titled, “Dear Younger Me”– it’s an interesting idea to think whether or not you would give yourself advice about how to live your life because all those choices– good AND bad– led to the present. But also, what advice WOULD you give yourself if you could?

After my last post in the ER, so much has happened. A three-day two-night hospital stay, a 7 Tesla MRI (which, by the way, is not common and extremely powerful), and talk of brain surgery partially thanks to the findings on the MRI. So yes, I am scheduled to have brain surgery in May– but because my case is on an ASAP basis, may be moved up sooner. So reflecting on the craniotomy I had in October 2016, I do have an answer to what I would tell my then-eighteen-year-old self.

Stop complaining.

Two months before my 2016 surgery, I got tired by noon, couldn’t sit outside alone (if no one could get to me and I had a seizure that’s kind of a huge problem), and felt trapped inside the house. Fast forward two months: I was almost entirely bedridden, with my EEG attached to the wall, using a commode, lost about 12 pounds of muscle, and was on audio/visual 24 hour recording (that’s a 2016 craniotomy for you!). And yet, over the course of about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks (including my recovery), I learned some important lessons in thankfulness and humility. When I came home in time for the Presidential election, I could be grateful to be alone in the bathroom or walk across the room to turn the light on. I learned important lessons the hard way. So this time, I want to be thankful from now through my surgery experience. Although it will be different from the last and much less invasive, I don’t want to complain.

And I don’t want you to, either.

Not about COVID-19. Not about your job that you still have to go to when everyone else is at home. Not about how much food is on the shelves at the grocery store. Make a list of what you’re thankful for AND MEAN IT. Because, believe me, if you don’t learn this lesson now you may have to learn it the hard way.

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

Have a great week,

Tia 😊

“And In the Waiting…”

Life can be busy, but what about when you have those moments when you just, stop? As I type this I’m in the ER, and today has been one of those days when life just “stops.” What began as a normal church day has been transformed into an evening of me being attached to an electroencephalogram (EEG), to track my epilepsy activity. Time seems to slow down in the hospital which is also probably why I’m choosing to blog after so long.

So, what does one DO??

Well, there are a few options. One can sit and sulk (a time-wasting, never helpful idea), sleep (not a bad idea), or make a difference. Yes, as Cassie Mayo Nolin, my friend and fellow blogger of “Living the Chronic Illness Life” would say, you can make a difference from a hospital bed.

So, put away Facebook for an hour and read the Bible on your phone instead (and if you’re ever on audio recording, read it aloud!), or cheer up someone in the room.

And here’s an even bigger profitable thing to do I’ve seen this very night while reading on WordPress– read about someone who’s situation was/is WORSE THAN YOURS.

Yes. I said it. You’re not the only one with problems in this world. So go out there (or go online if you can’t go anywhere else!😉) and reveal that light everyone else wants to follow! If you’re a Christian, remember Jesus Christ’s words from the Sermon on the Mount.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

I also love these words from the worship song “Yes I Will:” “… In the waiting / The same God Who’s never late…”

God is never late! And as Lara Casey, bestselling author of “Cultivate,” said: “waiting is a gift.” So think; no matter how hard waiting may be, if we DID choose to wait and let God work His plan, how much fuller and better would our lives be?? I’ll answer for you: MUCH!

Goodnight, reader!

Keep smiling!

Sending smiles, 😊😊😊

Tia 😊

The Gift of Time

There’s been a recurring theme in the past week or so– I was listening to Christian, founder of Cultivate What Matters, and author Lara Casey’s podcast called “How to Number Your Days,” based off of Psalm chapter 90, and then last night an important point arose in my Bible study group about doing what the Lord has put on our hearts now, because decades from now we don’t want to be thinking, “I wish I…”

What do the podcast and the topic in Bible study have in common?

Time.

Now some of us don’t have a lot of time. By that I don’t mean a death sentence or a busy schedule. I mean, some people’s bodies (like mine) need extra time to recoup even when all we’ve done is errands or slight tasks around the house. Today I woke up from a two-hour nap and I sometimes feel is that napping or resting drains time. Sometimes I struggle to sleep when I need to and it takes hours to finally fall asleep. My brain is constantly having seizure activity even though I seem to function fine (we can thank God for Himself, awesome doctors, and medicine that works!), so it makes me sleepy. It seems like my body could be preventing me from doing so many things!

But what should I do? I learn to work around it. I don’t need to think about what I can’t do– that would ruin my mood. Recently, I’ve honestly seen how well I am functioning despite my epilepsy and that is by the grace of God alone. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Four precious words that can start a list of things I do have and can do. And, when I work around my body, I can do even more.

So how do I get things done with a body like this?

Well, today I wrote a different type of to-do list: I listed the things that needed to get done, and then made another list below titled: “What I Can Do Today.” And guess what? I was able to do even more than expected! But that’s beside the point. Shouldn’t EVERY Christian not be planning too hard for tomorrow? Plan their year but have it planned in pencil? And shouldn’t everyone be focusing more on living than on planning????

Thus, I want to leave you with two pieces of advice:

  1. It’s okay not to get things done. Did you miss some days you planned to write or not wrap/buy/fill-in-the-blank everything you wanted to this holiday season? That’s okay. Prioritize.
  2. This is the most important one I want to work on. Do what matters most. Use the 86,400 seconds in every day to spend time with family, friends– to do what you love the most, etc. Maybe you should delete some things in your life. What’s crowding the space you could be using for God? Could you swap reading emails from campaigns you don’t even support for reading something that encourages you, inspires you, or helps you? Could you delete Facebook off your phone and add five more minutes to your Bible/prayer time instead? I’m sick of living in such a busy country where people do so much and live so little! Do something important, take part in something meaningful and long-lasting– something much bigger than little-old YOU. Shut off the phone and enjoy a God-given sunrise. Take less selfies and take more photos of fall leaves. This is NOT a charge to bring back the #YouOnlyLiveOnce trend but one to charge Americans to stop sitting on their butts and make a difference, whether it’s from a podium or a hospital bed! (And yes, my friends, it is totally possible to make a difference from a hospital bed. ;-D ) Because guess what?

Living for GOD is using time wisely. So don’t waste it. And believe it or not, you are creating a legacy this very moment whether you like it or not.

Have a great new year, my friends. God bless you!

Keep smiling!

Tia ;-D

Inspiration

I published a post a while back called “A Song for Every Situation,” about music that inspires my writing. But there’s so much more to inspiration that I don’t want to limit it to that this time. So, I’m going to ask an important question:

What inspires you????

It could be music. It could be a Bible verse. It could be a specific person in your life that you want to write about or simply be like. But where does YOUR inspiration come from?

In addition to music (due to the emotion behind it), certain people have inspired me to create certain characters, or to simply continue my writing in general. Also, if nothing else, can you honestly say that our Lord Jesus Christ inspires you? Because He SO should. (And don’t worry, if you forget to be inspired by Him, I do too).  Just thinking of God coming to Earth in human form– something seemingly unimaginable– and openly portraying His love for us by never, ever sinning (or making God unhappy) and being nailed to a Roman cross– RISING AGAIN three days later– is something we should never, EVER not be inspired by. And to all the believers reading this, the Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in them, they have the power to be overcomers– Philippians 4:13, after talking about contentment in previous verses, says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV).

So be inspired, readers! It’s about time we stepped up, got off our couches and made the decision to remain inspired by the ULTIMATE Reason to be inspired– Jesus Christ!– and did those things that would honor Him– and make Him happy– and see ourselves prosper also. You never know what you can do until you try– but ALLOW yourself to be inspired first!

Have a great day, reader! And as always, keep on smiling!

Smiles,

Tia 🙂  ;-D

(Finally) Writing What I Know

Deciding to write about my own experiences was not an instant decision. I don’t usually read many memoirs and I knew that if/when I ever wrote about my own experiences, I would have to do a lot of background research because there is so much technical medical information. And I just plain old didn’t want to. Also, I honestly don’t remember that much about my cancer. I know quite a bit of information, but I don’t even remember many of the medical people from my young childhood who get soooo (did I say “so?”) excited to see the healthy, grown-up me.

But I didn’t really think about writing much about my amazing epilepsy journey– how I should have been dead from that alone almost 5 1/2 years ago. And I didn’t think about my journals.

That’s my nonfiction writing from the past– journals. I’ve loved them since I was little. And part of what prompted me to finally say yes to what has been suggested to me for yeeaaarrs was finding a leather journal that I thought was blank and then realized it wasn’t. What it was was a record of facts from my 16-year-old perspective while having a lethal medicine allergy called DRESS Syndrome (similar to Steven Johnson’s Syndrome, but not the same thing). And then the hard time afterwards while being on a camera EEG with no anti-epileptic medication so the hospital could record a seizure. And having psychiatry sent in because the hospital thought the seizures were under my control when they are actually in a very different part of my brain (and no, I don’t have any psychological control over them nor are they caused by stress). And praying to remain valedictorian of my graduating class while I was spending most of the month before graduation in the hospital (and I did do schoolwork during that period of time, too, so becoming valedictorian wasn’t just a granted wish). And now, looking back at those entries, I can see so many prayers answered and the raw emotions are so very real!!!! When reading some of these entries aloud to my grandmother, she said something like, “This is what books are made of.”

And yes, she was right. Because this is my story. And I often say, “no one can argue with your story.” And that’s true. So this is the true story of how Christ rocked my life by my future college plans being flipped upside down but instead accomplishing beautiful things and teaching many people along the way. How He has stayed with me through all the hardships, all the celebrations, and all the crazy and/or beautiful in-betweens. How He brought me from possibly dangerous situations to a steady, beautiful life. I know I’m using the word “beautiful” more often than a writer should in one paragraph, but that is what my life is and has looked like– both now AND when it looked scary. So this is me. This is my life. So here comes “God Could, So He Did– My Crazy, Beautiful Life as an Epilepsy Patient.”     #thisisme   #Jesusisawesome   #GodcouldsoHedid

To God be the glory.

Keep smiling, readers! 😉     ;-D

With Much Love,

Tia ;-D 

Making Changes

It is always (or often) okay to look back at what you’re doing and decide to make changes to it. So that’s what I am going to be doing to this blog. I am choosing– thanks to some inspiration and suggestions– to write about some of my experiences with epilepsy from my journal excerpts, etc., so this blog is now also going to focus on epilepsy as well. It will remain titled “The Cancer Writer” and the domain name will remain the same as well, but some of the content relating to health may change with this new focus. Epilepsy is a big, undeniable portion  of my life, and even more so than cancer because I no longer have to deal with cancer every day (thanks be to God, of course ;-D ). That being said, I am a little excited to put together an autobiography because I can use journal entries I wrote during turbulent moments and (hopefully) portray those extremely real emotions and unusual experiences AS THEY HAPPENED! And, as I sometimes say, no one can argue with your story. Remember that, reader. I’ll say it again.

No one can argue with your story. Period.

Okay, so, in addition to my fiction manuscript, here comes another endeavor! Here we go! 😀

Thanks for reading!

Smiles,

Tia 😀 — and oh yeah, don’t forget to give thanks to our amazing God and to smile some more today!  😀 ;-D

“Taking Flight” Book Review

    This time I’m taking a detour from writing advice to tell you about a great book-soon-to-be-movie, “Taking Flight” by Michaela DePrince. Once an orphan in a country full of war, Michaela dreamed of “dancing on her toes”– she wanted to be a ballerina from a very young age. Thankfully, she was adopted– and blessed greatly by God– by wonderful American parents who not only adopted her, but made her best friend her sister! Michaela takes the reader on an emotional journey as he/she learns of her first experiences in America, her loving new siblings, and great parents who will stop at nothing to help her progress as a ballerinea. The reader also learns of the hard work it takes to become successful in such a competitive sport (yes, everyone, please respect dance as a sport), and can see how Michaela’s hard work paid off as she succeeded in dancing in South Africa, IN a group from Harlem, and elsewhere across the world. Need a good cry? Read about her terrible experiences in the Sierra Leone orphanage where she was known as “number 27”– need a good laugh? Keep reading to hear about her and her sister Mia’s first times with light switches and the family piano! Overall, Michaela’s life is an inspiration and may very well give the reader a heart for Sierra Leone. It may also make the reader understand that those who were once ridiculed can rise above all other circumstances. And I know that for me, at least, it makes me excited to know that it is soon to be a movie! Sorry, reader, I can’t give you the release date, but I can give you the book review!

Have a great day, everyone, and I hope you’ll soon pick up this inspiring read that can fill your mind and heart with inspiration! Philippians 4:8– don’t forget what to fill your mind with! The Bible has clear standards!

I am looking forward to talking again soon, reader! Keep on smiling! 😀

Smiles,

Tia 😀 

P.S. (I apologize for the grammar mistakes. I’ve been having a few issues writing the blog posts regarding correcting errors). Thank you! 🙂

Time to Read, Everybody!

Hey, readers, sorry I haven’t posted. WordPress issues and negligence have gotten in my way recently. But I have a relevant topic to remind you all about.

Have you noticed how kids are so often getting “summer reading” for school?

Well, here’s a news flash– THERE IS SUMMER READING FOR ADULTS, TOO!

It may not be required by any teachers, but this is the PERFECT time to take advantage of adult summer reading programs at your local library– last year it even involved some awesome mother-daughter bonding time, travelling to about ten different libraries in our local area– but most are just chances to read more and different types of books for a prize. And, fellow writers reading this, we need to resist the urge to not read like we must resist the urge to not write. Writers need to be readers! And believe me, I most definitely need this reminder for myself as well.

Before I sign off, however, I would like to leave you all with this important advice: be careful WHAT you read. I am being bombarded with things that fill my mind with trash, and as a Christian I know I need to fill my mind with good things, which sometimes can take effort– especially if you’re trying to read more of a variety of books. But be careful. Also, I have proof behind my claim. Philippians 4:8 says:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

So, turn off the Netflix, put down the J. K. Rowling, and fill your mind with many books, but may they with every word fill us up with good things!!!! Have a great July and may God bless you all!!!

Keep on smiling, readers!

Smiles, 😀

Tia ;-D