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Trauma Changes Us: How a Traumatic Illness Changed Me and My Family Forever

Part I “Trauma Changes Us Forever: How a Series of Traumatic events Changed Me Forever”

True transparency for a moment. Rest assured, I am not sharing my story for sympathy. I’m sharing to reach the heart’s of others who may find themselves on a similar dark, frightening, and taunting journey!

The past 2 years have threatened to take me down more than I care to admit! Especially, the past 4 months have been the traumatic icing on an extremely awful and fearful cake!

Friends, this Christian counselor who continually points people to the Hope of Jesus, found myself struggling at times to find the ability to face the day (afraid of the next attack)!

I showed up at work (most of the time), I tried to be the best wife I could, I tried to love my kiddos the best of my ability! I continued pointing people to Jesus, as much as I could! It was effective for the most part, ( I sure hope it was, my prayer is always that God would fill in the gaps when I’m feeling weak. This is the hard part of ministry, we’re called to be on our game all the time, yet we’re all human and we will never be at our best all the time.).

Something within me, kept me from connecting at the deepest level with God, my husband, my children, my friends, and my clients. I know when I’m at my best and know the way I’m able to connect with people. It wasn’t happening at the same level. It broke my heart, and at times made me question my value and effectiveness as a wife, mother, friend, and counselor. Even as a Child of God! Thankfully, I know how to talk through the negative talk enough to keep going! I don’t think my clients noticed it, at least I hope they didn’t, but I felt it in my spirit! I did my very best for where I was during this trial! It’s all we can do… our best!

Why did this happen to me? Answer… My heart was crushed! I was afraid! I was terrified! There were a series of attacks and when I was feeling overwhelmed beyond my ability to handle the weight of it all, the largest attack came at us completely out of left field. When I realized I needed soul rest, decided to go on vacation to the beach, and upon landing in Florida my little girl immediately became gravely sick.

For five days I took care of her and worked with every ounce of my being to help her get better. Sleepless nights worrying about 104 fevers that seemed impossible to maintain and several other symptoms. Three trips to the ER with poor care and inaccurate diagnosis. Two urgent care trips. Three virtual appointments, this all took place in a 5 day period. This doesn’t count the doctor and nurse friends I reached out to for guidance. For five days her body was quickly dwindling and no one could tell me what was wrong. This was traumatic in and of itself. Then the final and correct diagnosis occurred on the fifth day when I took her to the best hospital in the area and risked being charged, as it was out of network. When it comes to saving your children, money is no longer an issue! They diagnosed her with MIS-C (Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children). A life-treating condition that comes on about 4 weeks after Covid and causes the bodies antibodies to go crazy and frantically begins attacking the organs. They said she was in critical condition and that you’re little girl is very sick. You brought her in at the right time! We need to work quickly to get her stablelized and get her to St. Petersburg’s, John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. They sent a lifeline to transport her and that was the longest and scariest trip of our lives! This is where our lives went into survival mode and sensual overload became overwhelming to our brain’s ability to properly file away memories, input, sounds, thoughts, information, and unanswered questions. Caroline and I both developed PTSD due to this near death and extrmeLy scary situation. In part II, I will explain more about the journey with MIS-C and how the trauma revealed it’s head upon returning home.

Friends, during this 4 months time frame it seriously felt like I was living out a real life game of Wack-A-Mole! Every time I’d feel a little bit stronger, another attack would crush me right back into my brokenness! Every time I felt I was coming to grip with the status wiping her condition and starting to find peace, the phone would ring informing of another concerning blood test result. I was on high alert for several months, watching every symptom to ensure she would be safe and healthy. At times her heart rate accelerated for no reason and got to the 180’s without exercise being the cause. It was a scary time! Praise the Lord her body is returning to a more normal state, her emotional well-being will take some more time! Although, she’s made great strides in this area by talking to me, her dad, her brothers, her counselor, and her art work! I couldn’t keep up and my stomach couldn’t either.

Stomach issues became a real issue, tension, headaches, sleepless nights, nightmares, and I even had a few clients who during my trial acted in ways that made it feel like they were stabbing a knife right into the deepest places of my heart. Of course, I can’t tell the circumstances, but just know that ministry doesn’t come without its own share of heartache, pain, and frustration. Especially, when the counselor has endured their own trauma. Usually, I’m more equipped and confident to handle these situations. At this time, I was barely hanging in and the attacks were overwhelming. When you are a counselor who truly cares for your clients, it opens you up to great potential for hurt. Therefore, many counselors remain emotionally absent and completely neutral, it’s “safer” this way, but it doesn’t produce the path to healing. Love is the only avenue to healing! I am so thankful that the majority of my clients were so very caring and chill throughout the process. They were patient when I had to cancel for Caroline’s doctor’s appointments, or had to take important calls from the hospital during a session (which I never do), or I messed up my schedule and botched up appointment times. So thankful for this blessing during this trial in my life!

My heart has faced so many of Satan’s attacks at such an accelerated rate, that there were times I thought to myself “I want to stay in bed all day, bad things happen out there!” I knew this was the epitome of living in fear! I’ve seen how this impacts my clients and I didn’t want to go to this dark of a place. I knew that he key was never giving up! I kept fighting!

Thankfully, during these intense attacks, I knew that succumbing to the defeating voices of Satan would only destroy me. After all, God says “Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy!” Even on the hardest days, I forced myself to get up and face the world! I’d always read at least a little scripture and listened to a lot worship music, even though to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t feel it! At least not like I’m accustomed to. This was the most terrifying aspect of the experience. Why? God has been my firm assurance throughout life and Jesus my one true hope, wisdom provider, almighty counselor, and hope! Not feeling in connection fully with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, created the most noice and discomfort in my soul. It wasn’t God, it was my trauma, my fear, my struggle! Trauma does this!

Something inside of me threatened to shut off all emotions and connections! It was in these moments I developed a greater understanding, compassion, and empathy for how Satan can cause us to spiral downward fast! I’ve always been sensitive to this, but living through it has a way of bringing more and more empathy and love to others in pain!

In part II, I will continue sharing our healing journey through the illness, the traumatic impact, and how I’ve been able to work through the journey. Check it out!

Love you all!

Blessing,

Crystal

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Blessings In The Midst of Raging Storms

“Blessings in the Midst of The Raging Storms”

It is so easy to take for granted the MOST precious gifts of life! Sitting in this airplane flying away from my family, I ponder how very blessed I am! In fact, I am reminded in the quietness with God the abounding and overwhelming blessings He’s bestowed upon my life! God is near, even when we feel alone!

Listening to our wedding song “I Will Be Here”, I’m reminded of my amazing & Godly husband! He loves and cherishes me! Leaving him is never easy, but the time apart is always a reminder of the depth of our love! Absence truly makes the heart grow fonder! He is patient in many ways and has never tried to guilt or manipulate me for personal gain. He’s always put my needs above his own, this was evident even in our dating days. He never pressured me and has always supported me! He is an amazing father! He always listens to, provides for, challenges, and supports our children in their dreams and endeavors! He is the Godly man I prayed for as a child. I am ever so grateful!

Leaving my children never gets easier. When they were babies, I thought it would be easier to leave when they were older and more independent. Nope, leaving them ALWAYS feels like I’m leaving my heart behind. Man, these amazing people God gifted us… I am blessed! They are kind, loving, silly, respectful, considerate, and they all have a desire to be the best version of themself! The best part is that they love me and forgive me when I’m human! These four keep me laughing all the time, even when life feels overwhelming and difficult.

My family is a gift! They can drive me crazy at times, that’s a part of life! I even love the “crazy times”… because these are the growth moments that draw us closer together. I know this is God’s plan, to have a place on Earth where you feel safe and loved for who you are. I didn’t grow up with this gift and know the fear, heartache, loneliness, and miserableness of a lack of love and security in a home. I made a decision to follow God whole-heartedly and do everything in my power to ensure my children grew up in a home of love, stability, and security. Obedience to God and continually searching our hearts offers us the most rewarding gifts Earth has to offer!

Sure, I tell them everyday that I love them and often how proud of them I am, but do I tell them they make my world a better place? As this airplane flies to the other side of America, I am reminded of the amazing gifts God has given me! My husband and children absolutely make my world a better place! I need to tell them this more often! They’re the sunshine that I love to come home to after a long day! They’re the reason for the tears that spill from my eyes every time I leave them behind for a trip! Life is hard! The past several years have brought one trial after another, God has been faithful through the storms. The storms are scary, God has never left our side! He’s given the blessing of family and friends to hold us, cry with us, pray for us, support us, and make us laugh in the trials! My heart is full of gratitude for the answered prayers and presence of God in my life!

Friends, when life is hard, Satan works overtime in our minds! He wants us to be so caught up in the fear of the storms, that we’re unable to see God at work in our lives! In fact, he convinces us that God has forgotten us, that he’s not present, that we’re alone, that our trials will never end. It’s not true! Today was a reminder of God’s goodness, even when the storms have been raging! The goal of our life is to live victoriously, not perfectly, or without pain! Live victoriously through Christ! Blessings, Crystal

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Choosing Faith Over Fear

My heart is breaking today for a fellow mother of a child enduring the MIS-C nightmare, not once but now a second time. This is every parent and child with MIS-C’s worse nightmare. That MIS-C may reoccur and to see the data being made in real life is unsettling! It is a relatively new condition and there is little information to provide answers. Being the pioneers for this illness is terrifying. Thankfully, we now have a support group to pray for, encourage and help each other through the hard times, and to celebrate healing and victories!

I know all of us parents have asked the infectious disease, rheumatology, and specialists doctors this question about 100 times throughout the duration of the journey! “Can my child get MIS-C again?”

As time passes the data “our very own children’s health occurrences” are filling in the blanks. Friends, this is terrifying! I am not going to lie! I DO NOT like it and absolutely wish my Sweet Caroline didn’t have to be a part of the MIS-C club. We are now a part of the club, wishing we weren’t, living in denial and fear, and throwing tantrums is not going to help! Trust me, I’ve cried so many tears, felt my heart would beat in angst right outside of my chest, and I’ve wrestled with God about “why”? The only thing that has kept me sane throughout this entire process is God!

God loves His children and longs for our souls to be quieted in His presence. Once calmed, I remember to ask myself…

What are my choices? I ask my clients this all the time… It’s the best question to ask ourselves when facing insurmountable trials.

1.). I can be crazy scared, act frivolously, and move into absolute “control” mode.

Admittedly, more times than I can count… I’ve had the thought to run to the school and pull her out to homeschool her. Thankfully, I calmed down quickly and turned my fear into prayer! God reminded me that “our” little girl is relational and is so happy at her school, she loves her friends, and being in school is good for her spirit. I calmed down and didn’t run to the school and demand to bring her home to her momma bear! Lol! I remembered to check my fear at the cross.

2.) I can take my fear and anxiety to God.

This calms me and grounds my fearful heart. In His presence I learn that I can exercise caution and be careful with her care and symptoms. This is a much better option!

I’m God’s presence he continually leads my wandering and fearful heart back to option 2. Therefore, I’m not acting in hysterics, fear, and attempting to control everything and everyone around me!

Covid is REAL! It is directly impacting each of our lives! It is hitting close to home in more and more families. If I had a magic wand… I’d wave it around and wish away all the brokenness due to this Covid pandemic. I don’t have this ability and neither do you… Even our finest doctor’s still have limited information. I have something better and so do you… FAITH! Faith in a God who is in control! Lean into Him with your fears and concerns! He is walking through this pandemic with us and has a purpose for all our pain. He will redeem this and return what has been taken from us in His time… He will redeem!

Since the start of this Covid pandemic we have all been faced with the absolute uncertainty and vulnerability of being a human! We are not immortal, contrary to what we like to think and convince ourselves! We are mortal beings with a beginning and end! Not a single one of us knows our final day. None of us know the outcomes, if there will be answers, or if the virus will ever be contained. God knows! He will use this, ALL of it for good! It breaks his heart to see His children suffering! This I know! He is near the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Some of us have experienced nothing more than a bad cold! Some of us have faced near death experiences that have woken us up to what is important. Some of us have witnessed our children face near death experiences. Sadly, many of us have lost loved ones during this pandemic. Shockingly, there are still some who say it’s nothing more than a “flu”. Everyone of us has been impacted by Covid-19, either directly or indirectly. It’s heart breaking, frightening, and comes with much uncertainty!

There are many things we don’t have control over… The pandemic is one! And… how others respond in the midst of the pandemic is another.

There is one thing we have control over… How we respond to the pandemic? What do you choose?

1) Be crazy scared, frantic, and attempt to control everything around you… All in an attempt to quiet your own fears.

2). Take your fear to God and allow Him to lead, guide, direct, and comfort you during a difficult time. Allow God to quiet the noise in your soul and calm, comfort, and ground your spirit.

The choice is yours. I choose… 2!

Over and over again I run back to option 2, it is the ONLY THING that calms my spirit!

Today, I’m praying for God’s mercy, wisdom, and healing over this pandemic! I’m praying for the individuals and families impacted by Covid! I am praying for all children and parents whose lives have been turned upside down due to MIS-C. I’m praying for my very own Sweet Caroline!

Please join me in choosing option 2. Let’s flood heaven with fervent prayers for healing!

“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

Blessings, Crystal