Yep, This is the Freak-Out Zone!

Welcome to the crazy train! Sometime yesterday I officially hit the freak zone.

In my reckless attempts to clean house, make schedules for the kids, wash clothes, write thank you notes, make lists of things I need for Duke…and breathe…I hit the freak zone. Reality struck. I just tried to breathe.

This morning I woke up thinking wash sheets, wash towels, mop floors, clean baseball uniforms, remember to check on this and that so it can be added to the schedule. My brain was mush. I double checked to be sure I had taken my brain meds… I should be able to think more clearly than I was. I was running in circles and getting nothing much accomplished. I felt like the list was just growing….out of eggs, out of bread, out of turkey, need stamps, need TO BE ABLE TO DRIVE! I need to have some control! And that is where I stopped. So here is the truth, I talk out loud to myself. I stopped spinning and said “in my weakness, He is strong”. Then I pictured the Incredible Hulk in all his green glory busting out of his clothes and roaring to my rescue. Yes…I did just make an analogy of the Incredible Hulk to God, but forgive me, I am a visual learner. I needed to SEE God rescuing me.

I realized I needed to sit down and stop and find His presence. I opened my devotional and…YES…I did laugh out loud! No joking! First words…“Living in dependence on Me is a glorious adventure” and then it continued “You accept weakness as a gift from Me, knowing that My Power plugs in most readily to consecrated weakness. You keep your plans tentative, knowing that My plans are far superior.” I actually looked back at the date on the page and then went straight to the calendar to be sure this really was the devotion for this day because this puzzle just fit together too neatly. Yep, September 2nd. I sat back down and reread several times, scrutinizing each sentence, each phrase and the scriptures.  This was just all too freaky! At the same time this is my God. He meets me where I am and brings to me all that I need each day to get through.

Control has always been hard for me. Losing it has felt like a death of part of myself. I have lost the ability to make so many choices for myself. Sometimes it is little things like wanting to listen to my own music in the car, wanting to select the air temperature in the car or just wanting to open the car door from the driver’s side instead of the passenger side. Here is the deal, control was never mine to begin with. Control of my life is in God’s hands. Yes, I am weak. That is ok, and apparently I am supposed to be weak! God is stronger, He is stronger than the Incredible Hulk and He will continue coming to my rescue. He will calm me and bring me to dependence on Him instead of trying to depend on myself.

I reminded myself that this freak show crazy train that I’m riding right now as I prepare for Duke is because I have the opportunity to get better. I have to focus on the end, not the process. We have prayed for me to be better and this is the beginning of that process. I don’t know how long this part of the process will take, I don’t know how hard it will be both physically or emotionally, and I don’t know if it will give us the answers we need. What I have to focus on is that God is calling me to depend on Him, for all the little things and for all the big things.

Yesterday I had lunch with some good friends from my gym. They gave me a beautiful necklace with a purple stone, which they remembered is the color for Epilepsy Awareness and a charm with the word “strength” inscribed. They said when I feel weak, touch your hand to your neck and remember you are strong and remember the many people who are praying for me when I am weak. They told me I was strong and I am not alone and to focus on the strength that is given to me.

Nope, I indeed am not alone. I am surrounded by more people than I can count and they are pouring out their love and their prayers on behalf of your family. This fulfills my need for a visual picture of where I am right now. Most importantly I have to rest in God’s hands and know that I must start each day anxiously waiting to see what God will do and where He will move today.

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Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, September 2015


A Mother’s Tears

I have three drafts about running Philly for the Epilepsy Therapy Project. Each time the words weren’t quite there, but I wanted so badly to share with you my experience. Given the one thing that hit me the hardest in Philly, I am particularly overwhelmed with where our country is right now.

I am an adult. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 32. There are a lot of annoying things that come along with that, but for the most part I am extremely fortunate. I had 32 years without epilepsy. 32 years of answering n/a to chronic health conditions on surveys. 32 years of answering n/a to current medications. 32 years of riding amusement park rides. 32 years of doing just about whatever I wanted to do without giving it a second thought. Because my epilepsy isn’t genetic I don’t live with the fear that I may have passed the gene to my children. I’m fortunate in more ways than I can count.

As we worked to raise money for this project I began to meet the moms of children with epilepsy. When we were in Philly I sat with a mother whose son is the same age as my youngest son. For no apparent reason at all, several years ago her son developed epilepsy. He can no longer communicate with her and they have yet to find any medicine that controls his endless daily seizures. He can not tell her what he wants for lunch. He can not tell her what he wants to wear. He can not tell her how his medicine makes him feel. He can not tell him when he feels something taking over his body in the form of a seizure. He can not tell her he loves her. He can not tell her he is mad at this thing called epilepsy that has stolen his life. This mom, this mom’s tears have stayed with me every single day.

I have thought how many times we hear a parent say when a child is ill “I wish it was me”. How fortunate I am that it is already me. I remember the heartache I felt when my mother told us she had leukemia. Then she said what I now understand. “If someone at this table has to have cancer I would rather it be me.” It’s the parent in us all, please God, give ME the pain to relieve my children the agony. As overwhelmed as I have been with grief for this mom and her son, I have felt so blessed that I am the patient.

Over the last two weeks I have seen so much pain and loss. Children of people that I love have lost their parents to accidents and sudden illness that we can not explain on this side of heaven. I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of those innocent children who lost their parents. Then Friday….I have no words… My thoughts were again of innocent children and their parents left behind. As we all did, I hugged my kids tighter and longer, and I felt even more blessed than I had just the minute before. Why? I have no answer. How? I have no answers.

What I know is this, just as I felt when I watched the tears fall from that sweet mom’s face in Philly as she shared with me about her daily struggles, I’m blessed in ways I can not fathom. What we must do is let those tears magnify those around us. Slow down and love on those that surround you, tomorrow is never promised. Today is here.

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, December 2012

Lucky #7

This time of the year my thoughts always turn inward. I close my eyes and seek the months and perhaps years of memories of my children that are lost in the cavern of my mind. Those lost memories make me the saddest. I wonder what I missed, what I have forgotten and I wonder what I might have been.

Seven years ago I worked up the nerve to drive to the new mall and walk around with our 2 year old and look around. I left the mall on a stretcher in an ambulance with some lingering questions finally answered and the realization that my world had just shifted forever.

Seven years later; what have I learned? Each day gets me a little closer to accepting the changes in my life. When words fail me, or thoughts jumble or I get lost, it’s an opportunity for me to accept that God sifted this through His hand and is still holding me. I have learned that everyone has a story and a battle they have fought or are fighting. I may be the only person that entire week who sincerely looks them in the eyes and greets them and says something kind. I learned to make the time for someone else when my time seems shortest and least convenient.

As I realized that this weekend marks the seventh anniversary of my epilepsy diagnosis, perhaps it is really lucky #7. In less than two months, 7, YES LUCKY #7, of my best friends are going with me to Philadelphia to run the Half Marathon. Except they aren’t just running it, each of them have joined the Epilepsy Therapy Project and raised money alongside me over the last few months. Together we have already raised over $11,000!

When I get frustrated by the what if’s, I need look no further than my front yard to the pick up game of baseball on a weekday afternoon and realize that list of what if’s would look a lot different if I didn’t have epilepsy.

There is so much for which I am thankful and yes, even lucky to have in my life.

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, September 2012