Tag Archives: my experience

Backup Singer, Comedic Relief and Why Dying to Oneself is So Hard

Sheet Music

I have always loved to sing.

In the most difficult times of my life, singing praise and worship songs, belting them out in my car as my cry to God,  were my lifeline.

When I didn’t feel able to praise God in spite of my circumstances with my own words, the lyrics to my favorite praise songs did that for me.

I haven’t ever taken lessons, and in junior high I was always jealous of those girls that were a part of the jazz or swing groups. The would sing and perform on stage and had such confidence.

I tried out for concert choir in high school and while I felt like I botched the audition, I made the group and I loved that time learning and singing.

When we moved to Marshall almost 4 years ago we found a church that we loved right away. I remember seeing the worship team lead and wished I could be a part of it…half hoping that someone would hear me singing and tell someone that I needed to be up on stage.

It all happened a little differently than the magical way I had dreamed of, but about a year and 1/2 ago I started singing on our worship team.

It terrified me.

I am not kidding, like all out body shaking, voice quivering, terrified.

Don’t get my wrong, I equally loved it at the same time too, but it was all I could do to not run off the stage on the Sunday’s that I helped the team.

We have some really great, strong singers on our team and as we practiced my confidence grew a little. I started learning how to hear and sing harmony on some songs (which has completely wrecked my ability to NOT sing harmony on most songs I hear on the radio) 😉 But the one thing that terrified me more than anything was the possibility of leading.

As the person leading the song, you have to know when to start, when to come in, you need to sing strong and know all the notes…you are leading and the rest of the group depends on you.

So clearly my scardy-cat self was not prepared for a job like that.

You see I joke that I was hired for background vocals and comedic relief. Now of course we are all volunteers and don’t get paid…but if we did that is what I would be paid for. I would not be paid to lead. At least not in my mind.

And then this week I was asked to lead. Sometimes leading means everyone on the team sings with you, and as the lead your mic is just turned up a little louder than the rest. Other times when you lead it means that you sing a solo for a time before others join you.

The latter option is horrifying to me. Horrifying.

And so, of course, THAT was the option for me this week.

I didn’t feel confident and the song felt to high. Do I try and sing it strong with the risk of straining my voice, or do I revert to the falsetto high voice that I need to reach those notes that are waaaay up there?

Switching between the 2 wasn’t coming smoothly. I practiced throughout the week. I listened to the notes on CCLI, and I begged God that He would impress on the team that someone else was better equipped for the job.

Clearly I struggle with a few self-confidence issues.

And here is the deal. I KNOW that I sing because God gave me a voice, and I do it for Him. But the voice in my head tells me that if I don’t have it perfect, then I will be a distraction to those trying to worship.

If I can’t sound like Natalie Grant or Kari Jobe…then I shouldn’t be leading.

Dominic told me to sing loud and proud. But as we approached the song in practice yesterday morning I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I tried and it sounded awful, there may have been a few tears too…I was so mad that the whole thing was such a struggle for me.

It is embarrassing to feel that emotional about singing a verse and a chorus by myself. Our team is amazing, and they came in early and sang the chorus with me…and one of the WT leaders talked to me before the service started.

This too is like labor. A process we must go through, and in the end there is a reward. We get to honor God with our voices – even if they aren’t perfect.

Because it isn’t about me. And yes I KNOW that…but boy the physical reactions that I feel in that situation say otherwise.

And I am not there yet. She said that this too is a process of dying to oneself. Of getting to that place where we are leading in worship, unashamed. I can’t and won’t get it perfectly. I am not Natalie Grant or Kari Job, and the people at my church don’t expect me to be.

They all give me grace but I am unwilling and unable to give it to myself.

And she also said that my perception of the situation and the reality may just not be the same. (Who knew?! 😉 )Which is unfortunately the case in so many areas of my life. If I really sounded as terrible as I felt I did, they wouldn’t have me up there.

So this is a process that I am going to have to walk through. I will be honest it would be easier to just ask to never lead a song again, or to quit. Because it is my nature to flee from things that are difficult like this.

But God doesn’t want us to run from the difficult. He calls us to walk through those things, and promises that He is with us.

I don’t know when I will get over the fear. But I know that I want to honor God with the voice that He gave me…so regardless of how I feel on the inside, I will choose to keep trying, and will trust that He will refine this area in my life as well.

What do you struggle with that God is calling you to walk through? I would love to pray over you this week!

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary

Always A Warm Welcome

Parker FBC

When Dominic and I were first married, church wasn’t top on our priority list. Even though we were both raised in church and had Isaac, we were both stubborn and selfish and didn’t feel like we “fit” in any of the churches we visited. It was just easy to stay away.

Besides I was pretty sure that everyone was judging us anyways…

For years we made excuses. The more we made, the easier it was. 

Then one weekend sometime in 2002, Dominic’s mom called and invited us to come to a family lunch on Sunday afternoon and invited us to come to church as well. We figured we could handle that and so we drove the 45 miles from our home to their community and went to church.

At that time the church was located in an old building but they were working on their new location (pictured above). Dominic’s dad helped with some of the projects that got that new church completed. His parents were one of several that were very active in the church. And when we would visit we were always made to feel welcome.

And so a “habit” was born. Dominic’s mom would call and invite us to dinner and if we were coming, why not church as well?! 🙂

We came to a place, after much struggle and difficulty…and our 2nd son on the way that we realized we really wanted to have a better foundation for our kids. While we had failed early on with Isaac, we could start making some changes and become a part of a church family.

It just made sense to join First Baptist in Parker because we were already attending most Sundays…and when we did visit other churches closer to home we never felt the welcome that we did at FBC. It very quickly began to feel like home.

Our church family walked us through more dark times. Times when others might have walked away, the families at FBC surrounded us. They offered encouragement and prayer, shared their stories and kept telling us to get involved and keep coming back.

In 2011 when we started to talk about the possibility of moving, our church was one of the big reasons we had to stay where we were. How could family like that be replaced?

But during those months of decision making, they prayed with us and reminded us that we were always welcome back…we would still be a part of the FBC family.

This past weekend we went back to Parker for a visit after months and months away.

We arrived late (because of course) 😉 and Pastor Aaron was just getting ready to start the service and called out a welcome to us from the podium. Hugs and handshakes, smiles and “we will catch you after the service”…once again we were home.

After the service people came up to visit with us for just a moment, the kids had been long sent to the car and yet we remained. One of the last people to leave, we were surrounded by love.

It is a church that practices hospitality on every level.

It isn’t like an old job where people forget your name 6 months after you leave and blame you for all the mistakes they find…no this community at FBC is one that welcomes you in with open arms, no matter the time in-between visits.

As we walked to our van Dominic said “Always a warm welcome when we come here….”

It is a legacy that church is leaving in its community.

You don’t have to be perfect to walk through the doors, or have it all together. No, FBC is filled with believers that seek Christ, work to be a light and pray for and encourage one another regardless of where you are at in your faith walk.

We spent 7 years as members at FBC and our marriage, our family, are forever changed because of it.

It was a reminder to me again that we need to be welcoming…even the little things can make a big difference.

I thank God for allowing us to be a part of such an amazing community of believers. I hope that at our new church Dominic and I can seek and find ways to offer that same hospitality to others that come through the doors.

Because we want those that leave to say that they always get a warm welcome, don’t we?!

I had PRK surgery – My Experience Part Three

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey through my PRK surgery. If you are just joining me you can read my all about surgery day and some of the heart work I have had to go through up to this point and finally my first week after surgery.

Here I am at 3 weeks post surgery!

PRK 7

Knowing that I wouldn’t be driving for another whole week until I was checked again at week 2 was almost unbearable. I know, what a baby I am, but I wanted my freedom back!

It was hard to tell each day if there was much difference. At times I felt like things were really clear, and then the next day things would seem to regress back. One day my right eye was good, and the next my left. Over the course of almost 3 weeks now my left eye is consistently less clear than the right.

My time on the computer has gotten much better, my eyes seem to be adjusting faster and don’t get as tired as they did in week 1. It isn’t perfect like when I wore glasses, but it is getting there and the bonus is I don’t wear glasses anymore!

At the week 1 visit my eye doctor did some refraction testing, just to make sure that the blurriness I was seeing couldn’t be corrected with glasses. Good news, it can’t, which basically means that I need to let my eyes heal. If it had turned out the other way it may have meant that the correction either wasn’t enough or was too much…so I am grateful that it is just an issue of time and healing.

At week 1 the cloudiness I experienced initially is completely gone. If you research PRK you will find that there is a drug commonly used called Mitomycin C. It is applied during surgery and is used to prevent hazing that sometimes comes with PRK. The waiver I had to sign scared me, some of the stuff I read online did as well…that was one of the hitches I initially had.

After the surgery was done I asked if they had used that drug and they didn’t. Vance felt that it wasn’t necessary because they didn’t have to remove much of my corneal cells to get the correction I needed. I was relieved, but initially those first few days I wondered if that had been a mistake! Today the hazing is completely gone. Praise God!!

I don’t know that I ever said this before…my vision before the surgery was 20/200 and 20/300 with astigmatism in both eyes.

At week two I was hopeful. Although I knew things were still fuzzy, for the most part I felt like driving shouldn’t be an issue. I tested 20/20 in my right eye (although it was fuzzy and not crisp) and 20/50 in my left. My left eye was also giving me some double vision. I only noticed it when I covered my right eye, but it was there and made reading the eye charts very difficult.

But I was cleared to drive in the day time. She said to use my best judgement at night, and until a few nights ago, almost 3 weeks from the date of surgery, I had not driven after about 6pm. It wasn’t worth the risk, especially in deer country here!

Tonight I drove across town…maybe less than 5 miles. I was impressed with how clear everything seemed and also that there were no issues with starbursts. (Another common side effect.) I have to believe that each day it IS getting slowly better, I just am not noticing it maybe?

My next check will be on October 1st, at 4 weeks. I am very curious to see how things look then and will be sure to post an update here.  When I saw her at 2 weeks, I had just finished all of my steroid drops. She did recommend that I use the re-wetting drops a couple of times a day (the preservative free, single package ones) but honestly my eyes rarely feel dry, so I forget that I need to use them.

I did not suffer from dry eyes prior to the surgery. I understand that if you do you could experience more issues after this type of surgery…it is something that they tested me for early on. I am also still taking those Thera Tears supplements that are supposed to help with the moisture in your eye. So is that helping, or is it placebo effect? I can’t really say! 🙂

I was talking to my mom last week and said I am not sure yet if I can say that I would recommend this specific type of surgery to someone. If Lasik had been an option for me I would have jumped on it with no reservations. After watching how things were for Dominic, how he saw 20/15 the 2nd day, didn’t experience the changing vision or much light sensitivity…if I could choose that would be an obvious choice.

Although I did my research, prepared myself for what could happen…having it take this long HAS been frustrating. Knowing it is normal doesn’t really make it any better either. I wanted to be better than normal! ha! 🙂 If you don’t have someone available to help with your driving for up to 2 weeks, the grocery shopping etc., if you have a job that is all day at a computer and you can’t take some extended time off…even part time, this surgery may not be for you right now.

Of course everyone heals differently. I met someone who had 5 bad days and then experienced great vision after that. That was not the way I experienced this. It has been a slow process so I guess I would say if you can really be comfortable with the “waiting”, then I do believe that the end result is totally worth it.

I think the point is that before you make the choice to have any elective surgery like this you need to research, understand the risks and possible healing time etc., and make sure that this is the right choice for you.

Do I regret having the surgery?

Not at all. I know soon I will  have the vision I once had with glasses. And I won’t have glasses, and I LOVE that. Seriously I can’t say how often I think that I am glad I am not wearing glasses. All the time – so I am glad I did the surgery. I also had a great support system, from my husband to the doctors who answered my questions, to my family who helped with things when I couldn’t. That has made all of this much easier!

So that brings us to the present. I will post again about my 1 month appointment when I have it!! Thanks for reading and if you have any questions please leave me a comment and I will answer them based on my experience!

Kristin

I had PRK surgery – My Experience Part Two

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey through my PRK surgery. If you are just joining me you can read my all about surgery day and some of the heart work I have had to go through up to this point.

I wanted to use this post to try and describe the days and now few weeks after my initial surgery date. I had surgery on September 4th, 2014. As I described before it was fast and painless.  After doing a bunch of research I was concerned about how bad the recovery would be the first 4 days. I read those were the worst days and people described it as anywhere from extreme light sensitivity to burning, itching and constant watering of the eyes.

As any good office manager would do I scheduled a couple of client meetings for Dominic in Sioux Falls on the afternoon after my surgery. All work and no play apparently…so he brought me to my parent’s house so that I could relax there after the surgery was done. We had lunch and I was feeling pretty good, didn’t even need sunglasses. Everything looked hazy to me. Like I needed to blink away a covering over my eye. I have heard others describe it as having wax paper over their eyes, and that is a pretty accurate description.

I slept for awhile and then got up again and really felt good. I wasn’t having any pain at all. I am allergic to codine and typically they prescribe Tylenol 3 after PRK surgery just in case. I knew that I couldn’t take that so Tylenol/Advil were my only options. Thankfully I didn’t really even need those!

PRK 4

My poor selfie a few hours after the surgery. I look a little miserable.

I was worried about the bandage contacts getting dried out as I slept, so I did set an alarm the first few nights at 2am just so I would get up and put the rewetting eye drops in. On the 3rd night I thought I didn’t need to set the alarm and when I woke up both contacts felt like they were slipping out of place. Rewetting drops helped get everything back to normal.

My worst day was Saturday (Day 3). I had to wear sunglasses in the house in a darkened room. I spent most of the day on the couch listening to a book on tape and only got up to do my drops. A lazy day for sure. I was lucky because my mother-in-law volunteered to take the kids with her to their house for the weekend so that I could have quiet to rest and recover. This really was a blessing, so if you are considering the surgery and have kids I would recommend you ask for help for those first few days.

My vision remained cloudy for the entire weekend. It was pretty blurry as well and I wasn’t feeling confident that when I got the contacts out that I would be seeing the 20/40 required. The doctor thought that I would be driving by Monday (day 5), but when I was checked I just wasn’t there.

I was devastated.

Because my surgery experience was so good and I didn’t really experience pain I thought that the time it would take for my vision to return to normal would be fast. In my case that hasn’t happened.

I understand this is normal. My eye doctor says that the cells are healing, my eyes look good…but because I had the PRK, it can take anywhere from 2-5 weeks to get to 20/20 vision…and even then there are people that don’t achieve that until 3 months.

I knew this going in, yet I believed that this wouldn’t be my reality. So it has been a frustrating few weeks only because I had some unrealistic expectations that weren’t met.

I was checked at 1 week and still no driving. I believe at that appointment there were tears. I was NOT handling being dependent on others this much. I missed picking the kids up from school, I wanted that few 5 minutes alone on my way to the school. I wasn’t supposed to get checked again until the 1 month mark, but when things weren’t as hoped at 1 week, my eye doctor said that she would check me again in a week.

The worst part the entire first week was seeing at the computer. The white, bright background with black letters was almost impossible to read. If I were to go do it all over I would have not scheduled any clients meetings the entire week after my surgery and just taken time off. I stained to see clearly, and got headaches because I had to constantly move back and forth to try and get some clarity.

That is one reason these posts didn’t happen sooner…I couldn’t spend a single moment longer than I needed on a computer.

I do wonder if my rushing back to work slowed my healing at all…had I spent more time resting my eyes, would things have changed sooner?

I am going to end here again, and will come back tomorrow for an update on my week 2 check up and what is next!

I had PRK surgery – My Experience Part One

So last week I shared a little about my PRK eye surgery and how I was dealing with it all. I have wanted to write more about my experience for a couple of reasons. First of all when I first considered the surgery I did lots of research and the personal stories were all several years old so this hopefully will be a more current experience to share, and second really just for my memory of everything that has gone on thus far. I realize this isn’t my “typical” post…so I hope you stick around until I am done with these updates! 🙂 If this is a surgery you are considering and have more questions please leave me a comment or email me and we can connect!

I had my surgery done at Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls. I can’t speak for other centers because I haven’t been there, but I can say that Vance Thompson is a doctor who has preformed over 50,000 surgeries. He has been doing these surgeries since they first started and has been a leader in research in the field. He may not have been the cheapest in the area, but with his experience and the most up-to-date equipment available, I felt that paying a little more for the expert in the field was well worth it.

Once I decided that I was going forward with the surgery I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything possible to help this be a successful experience. (And just for the record I am NOT a medical professional, although I have successfully diagnosed several diseases/conditions with the help of Google, this is MY experience only so that is what I am sharing) 😉

I read that taking supplements prior to and after the surgery could help healing time so about a month before the surgery I started taking Omega 3 Fish Oils and Vitamin C. I am still taking them and for the small cost (less than $10 a month) I figure it is worth it. I also stopped wearing eye makeup completely for about 2 weeks prior, I wasn’t told to do this but I didn’t want any risk of infection and you just never know with mascara and eye liner what might irritate your eye!

PRK 1

The day of the surgery I was initially feeling pretty calm. I had prepared myself for what I thought might be the “worst case scenario” and yet felt that this was something that I was supposed to do. I was ready.

Once checked in, they brought me back to a room where I was given a Valium (which I gladly took because I was starting to feel nervous!!) and they gave me some different drops for my eyes. Antibiotic drops, and numbing drops. They also use that beta dyne solution and clean all around your eyes…Dominic took a picture but I can’t find that he sent a copy to me.

Dominic was able to watch the procedure on a screen outside of my actual surgery room, they assign a tech to come and talk through step by step what they are seeing and what is happening. I was able to do this with his surgery too – pretty incredible stuff!

I will say this about the surgery, IT WAS FAST.

Like start to finish less than 10 minutes fast! It is pretty crazy. With Lasik they have to cut flaps in the cornea and then they do the actual laser correction. With PRK they can’t cut the flap because for me my cornea was too thin. Instead they use an alcohol solution that dissolves away a layer of the cornea so that they can go in and do the laser correction. Gross I know. This is also why PRK has such a longer recovery time compared to Lasik.

I was able to see everything that was going on, but I couldn’t feel a thing. And to be honest when we first started I was staring up at the ceiling and just kept praying “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, over and over again. I guess it calmed me (maybe it was a little of the Valium too??) But it was all over so quickly and there was no pain, that I wasn’t scared at all.

Once they have done the laser correction a bandage contact is placed on the eye. This is to allow the corneal cells to regenerate without you feeling the pain of having it uncovered with each blink. My eye doctor told me after the procedure that early in the development phase of this type of surgery people did it for free as test dummies and they originally didn’t use the bandage contact. Yikes!

The contact stays in for 4-5 days, depending on when you have your surgery. My surgery was done on a Thursday morning and I had my contact removed the following Monday.

I was sent home with a bag full of drops, one antibiotic drop, and a steroid drop for swelling. They also gave me some drops that could be used for pain if needed the first 2 days, those drops can slow healing though so I was only allowed 2 drops per day. I was fortunate and didn’t need to use them like I thought I might.

PRK 5

In addition to the drops they give you these awesome goggles to wear every time you sleep. They don’t want anything getting in your eye, or you bumping/rubbing your eye those first few nights. They were not awesome.

PRK 3

I only had to wear them until I got the bandage contacts out – Dominic got to wear his for 2 weeks after his Lasik surgery. 😉

They also send you home with a schedule of when to take all the drops.

PRK 6

Since I am totally Type A – I HAD to actually check the box. I wasn’t sure I would remember where I was in the day if I didn’t. Another thing I would recommend, that I needed, was to have timers set on my phone to tell me when to do the drops. One was every 2 hours, the other 4 times a day. I used alarms on my phone and labeled them so I wouldn’t get confused on what to use, when.

PRK 2

Once I took one of the drops, I reset the alarm for the next time I needed to use them. Invaluable for me really.

I am going to come back in another post and blog about my recovery – that has been even more significant for me and honestly where I have struggled a little. I am thankful that everything went just as planned and my surgery experience was a good one.

Join me again and I will share about how the last 3 weeks has been and where my vision is at today.

Kristin

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