March 15, 2017

Narcolepsy and cataplexy

One day at work, I turned from talking and laughing with my friend Mary Ann, and collapsed to the ground, unable to move or talk for several seconds. How strange. I must've forgotten to eat breakfast and was a little light headed. I got up and finished working.

One time, I stood in my friend Lizzie's kitchen and dropped my mug of freshly made coffee. Weird. The mug was slippery though so that must've been why. Or maybe it had something to do with that weird thing that happens every few days where I can't hold anything in my hands and my arms feel really weak... I don't know. I really should eat better!

Another time, I was holding a friend's baby at an outdoor birthday party, and suddenly found myself sitting on the ground. What the what? Did my hip, that sometimes has weird problems, just give out on me? That had to be it.

One Sunday morning, I stood singing for special music with the rest of our music group, and realized my knees were literally knocking together and I couldn't make them stop. What in the world? Was I nervous and just didn't realize it? I kept singing and focused on keeping my knees together. I was relieved that my knees made it back to my pew.

Anytime I laughed, my knees would melt. Like a square of butter on a frying pan. And sometimes that melting would spread to the rest of my legs until I couldn't stand anymore. Everyone probably did this! I laugh REALLY hard. Ask anyone! It was totally normal. I mean, I can literally make babies cry in terror when I laugh. I should really get control of that.

Jello legs. That's what I call it. Or jello arms. Jello hands. Jello neck. Jello face. Good grief, jello body. It happens anytime I laugh, get angry, am startled, try to lift anything too heavy, go for long, brisk walks, raking leaves, trying to swim, getting super overheated, or with extreme exhaustion.

Speaking of exhaustion, I have it. I found out recently that the level of sleep deprivation that a narcoleptic feels on a daily basis is comparable to a normal person going 48-72 hours without sleep. No wonder I was falling asleep constantly. One minute I'd be just fine, and then the next, I'd feel that hazy, fuzzy, excruciating darkness creep up on me pushing my eyelids down.
But, hey... I could fight it! I could close my eyelids for a few seconds and then wake up. Over and over. This is how I started coping with church. Don't fall asleep, Sunny Jane, just close those eyelids for a few seconds and then force them back open. I asked God to help me with this because it was obviously a spiritual issue and I was beginning to dread church. Where had the real me gone? I love church! But I had apparently let myself get to a point of spiritual deprivation and I really needed help with that.
And another thing that I had really let go: my work ethic. I've always been a hard worker, but now I was just straight up lazy. Some days I couldn't even make myself get out of bed. And other days, I'd get to work, work for 30 minutes, and then be done for the day. Just couldn't get my dumb, lazy self to move anymore. I was getting behind with my work and it was because I was lazy. I asked God to help me with this along with the dreading and sleeping during church thing.
And then, on top of that, I went from a people person (an introverted people person to be sure, but still a people lover), to this weird anti social person. I mean, parties have always been the bane of my existence, but this was different. Any interaction with other people would put me under for days. I'd be sick with exhaustion. Now I was just another one of those people haters, and would no doubt start posting stuff on FB about how much I hate people and small talk. Oh God, help me not to be that kind of person.

And where in the world was God? I was asking for help, and He wasn't lifting a finger. I didn't know at the time that He was helping me get to an answer, it was just a different answer than what I was expecting. If anything, I've learned that I often look in the wrong direction for the wrong answer, and God is just like, "Hello, no go this way... got a different answer for you about this".

So I continued to seek spiritual answers that weren't there, and I fought sleep and was sick as a result with migraines and flu like symptoms every time. I reasoned with myself that the constant migraines and flu/stomach bug symptoms were because I must have allergies. Maybe gluten free was my answer! Either way, I should definitely get a grip on myself, and stop being a lazy wimp and a stinking spiritual reprobate.

Around 2-3 years ago, I woke up from a movie at the Hoover's house one evening, and got ready to head home. I remember Aaron asking me if I was awake. Yep, I nodded. Then I got in the drivers seat and went back to sleep.
Nothing new there. I had been doing this for years. Always at night, going home from a friend's house. It was just because I was so sleepy at night and everyone has this exact problem. I'd "wake up" at some point and head home. I mean, that must be what happened because I'd wake up for real the next morning safely home and in my own bed. No memory of how I got there. But again, totally normal and not even dangerous! I've never even fallen asleep at the wheel and caused a wreck. Sleep driving is something everyone has to deal with, right? Not right, but I didn't know that.
Aaron came out and found me sleeping in the car so he pulled me out, and told me I couldn't drive home. Then I argued with him and cried a bunch and walked up the street. I demanded to go home. So he drove me home, and made sure I got safely in the house. I have no memory of this.
After that, I stopped driving at night for the most part. I can still night drive on occasion, but I have to be careful and plan ahead for it with naps beforehand or an overnight bag in case I can't make it back home.
And that was the first time narcolepsy was brought up to me. Lisa Hoover's brother in law has sleep apnea and narcolepsy. So she mentioned that the day after Aaron drove me home.
"You know Uncle Mike has sleeping disorders... I really think you have narcolepsy."
"No I don't! I don't fall asleep like Mr. Bean in Rat Race..."
"Neither does Uncle Mike. You need to get checked out."

I shrugged it off, but she mentioned it to me a few more times. Whatev! I'd continue to be a stupid fart head and do this my own miserable way, that's what.

One day, I was at the Post Office and needed to sign for a package. I couldn't. What was my name? My name was Sunny Jane... right? Yes it was. Okay... how did I write that? How was it spelled? Maybe if I could get to my drivers license, that would prompt my memory. Too bad I didn't know how to extract my license out of my purse. So I walked out, and sat in my car crying. Then I figured I might as well go home. Home was just two blocks away. But how did I get there? I panicked and went to the grocery store instead. For some reason, I could remember how to get there. And once I got there, I could remember how to get home. There was that one street that I recognized. I could get home from there. This scared me, but once the disorientation passed, I shrugged it off. Everyone gets confused sometimes. Brain fog is a real thing that all of my mom friends talk about.

One day, I walked into my kitchen for a cup of coffee. Once I got in there I realized I was in my neighbor's house. Oh snap. My legs and arms both did that jello thing in a panic. How did I wander into my neighbor's kitchen without realizing? I barely knew her! Also, why did my neighbor have a picture of Aaron and I on her fridge? How funny... she had the same dish towel that Rachel bought me for Christmas too. Wow, she had a lot of the same things I had. Wait a minute, this was actually my kitchen after all. How did I not know that? How did I not recognize my own kitchen? Well at least I wasn't at my neighbors because that would be embarrassing. I drank my coffee and went to work.

 This type of total disorientation happened more and more. Usually just lasting for a few seconds or minutes. I wondered if I had super early onset Alzheimer's. Several of my relatives had had that so maybe I did too. Also, I've been a total airheaded ditz since childhood. So I must be slower than other people. Mentally, I mean. Pretty obvious since I couldn't keep up in college and had to drop out. And when I worked in a customer service office, I could never keep up with everyone else's quotas. They could do so much more than I could no matter how hard I tried. Thank God for my super slow paced job now. So flexible and much easier on me and my slow thinking. So this is probably to be expected. This is how I reasoned it out and tried to make sense of it. Narcolepsy was still off my radar. I didn't even look into it.

Sometimes, I just zone out. I'm there, my eyes are open, I'm moving around and getting things done, but I've totally checked out. I'm asleep. Like driving myself home while sleeping. I'm doing stuff, but I won't remember it, and if you talk to me, it's doubtful I'll make much sense.

Often when I first wake up, I can't move at all. This usually only lasts for a few seconds, sometimes a minute or so.

One night I heard someone break into my house. They were playing with my computer. I could hear the Windows chime. I was so mad. Punks! I crept downstairs, and then realized I had zero ways to defend myself and I weigh, like, 95 lbs. So I thought, "You want me? COME GET ME!" And then I went back to bed after locking my bedroom door. Freaks! Take my stuff then! And apparently they didn't want me cause they didn't come get me. So I went to sleep almost instantly. The next day I realized no one had been there, and my laptop was off and closed so no way I heard the Windows chime turning on.

I started hearing a man yell at me as I fell asleep. It was exasperating. I seriously just wanted to sleep, and he'd wake me up every single time I'd start to doze off. I hated him even though I knew he was just a dream.

I'd hear people banging on my door or the sides of my house. I'd get up and check, but no one was ever there. And my boss's dog would never bark anytime she was staying at my house. She barks at everything. So I started to realize it wasn't real. I had weird hearing anyway. The ear/nose/throat Dr recently said I probably have Auitory Processing Disorder because my hearing itself is fine. So my ears were just playing tricks on me all these years. Sometimes, I'd hear the doorbell or hear music playing. I learned to calm myself down almost immediately anytime it happened. I sleep with a box fan on high, my door shut and locked, and the dog is usually at my house. No way I'd be able to hear any of that over the fan, no way that man could get into my room without breaking down my door, and no way the dog would be silent if anything were actually happening.

Now I know that jello legs is called Cataplexy. The dark wave of irresistible daytime sleep is called Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). The ear tricks are auditory hallucinations. The disorientation is due to sleep deprivation. The little sleeps when I close my eyelids are called micro sleeps (micro sleeps can also happen when my eyes are open). Getting stuff done while I'm asleep is called automatic behaviors. Being unable to move upon waking is called sleep paralysis, something that we all experience when we dream, but shouldn't experience otherwise. These are all symptoms of narcolepsy.

I'm not super good at all of the medical terms and explanations. There's still so much that I don't know or understand. But I do know that narcolepsy is a neurological sleeping disorder, and our brains cannot regulate wakefulness/sleep cycles. REM (dreaming) sleep intrudes too often, and we miss most of the deep sleep that we need at night which causes sleep deprivation. REM also intrudes into wakefulness which causes issues like Cataplexy and sleep paralysis when awake. I'm including a link below if you'd like a better explanation than what I can give you.

Last spring, I spoke with my employer about making me a full time employee on his payroll. I was an independent contractor at the time and it was a financial burden for me. I was put on payroll that week with the most amazing medical benefits that I've ever experienced. I was embarrassed at the time, but so grateful that my boss has always been so kind and generous with me. I had no idea how much I was going to need those medical benefits later in the year.
That fall, Uncle Mike, came up from AZ for our Grandma's memorial service. Lisa had Uncle Mike sit down and talk with me about narcolepsy. I realized I'd be incredibly foolish to not go see a doctor.
A month later, I saw the new (and so amazing!) doctor that I had access to with my job's benefits. She referred me to a sleep specialist, Dr Coats. That was in November 2016. By February 10, 2017, I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. I've had it since childhood, but symptoms worsened over the past few years. A week later I started a medication that was supposed to keep me awake during the day. That was the most horrible 16 days of my life health wise. I was nearly completely bed/house ridden. After another appointment with Dr. Coats, we agreed that medication was not for me, and I start a new medication next week.

I realize this is the longest post ever, but I have a bit more to say so maybe go make yourself a cup of coffee if you haven't already. First, I need to make clear that this diagnosis has been an adjustment, but not at all devastating. I am not sad, I'm just super relieved to know what was going on. My mind has been completely blown piecing all of this together. So nothing but gratefulness here. Also, I joined a support group on FB for narcolepsy. What a great group. Reading other people's experiences has been so incredible for me. But one thing that truly distresses me is reading story after story of people who have horrible doctors, friends, and family members. They get mocked, brushed aside, and made to feel guilty over the way narcolepsy makes them feel. It's so hard for me to understand how anyone can be that way towards another person who is suffering from illness.
I haven't experienced this in the least and I cannot even begin to express how thankful that makes me. My employer is very understanding and accommodating. I have no fear of being fired like many people do. My family and friends have been amazing. They'll be the first to tell me to go nap or to take it easy. I know I can call them for help at anytime. My church has also been supportive and I know they're all praying for me and willing to help me. Both of my doctors are incredible, and I haven't had any issues at all with my insurance. I have Uncle Mike to call or text for advice at any time. I have my BFF Rachel who researches with me and brings me books from the library where she works. I have Aaron who had to experience me collapsing in Costco the other week, and he totally took care of me and sat on the Costco floor with me for 15 min and then practically carried me out to the car. Karen who took care of some of my responsibilities at church. Tim who finished some work things for me. Lisa who wants me to come stay for a few days when I start my new meds just in case, and joined my support group just to understand better. Russell who came when I called the one night when I wasn't sure whether I needed to go to the ER or what, and who went with me to speak with Dr. Coats about a new medication. I have been helped and supported at every.single.turn. This is what everyone needs, sick or not. Everyone needs that kind of love and support. My people teach me the kind of person I need to be.

And lastly, some people in my Narcolepsy group posted these yesterday and I have been DYING laughing.


Is there anything better than a meme? I would say no.

So when I was wondering where God was the last couple years, He was right there. Answering every question and cry I had with an answer that I wasn't looking for at all.

July 31, 2015

part 3: more mushy stuff

I've discovered, since dating Aaron, that I am basically 14 years old. I've used the heart eyes emoji hundreds of times in the past year. I'm totally  twitterpated, and not even sorry. But as mushy as I've become, I'm nothing compared to Aaron. Which pleases me to no end.

Me: Love you, babe. Whassup?
Aaron: I love you too, princess plum pudding love muffin.
Me: Did you just call me plum pudding?

A lot of people have asked me what Aaron is like, and how we are together. We have a lot of differences. I'm the queen of impatience, he's pretty steady and patient. I'm super uptight about rules and being on time, he's more relaxed and always late. I like to plan things way ahead of time and follow a schedule, he totally flies by the seat of his pants. I freak out over things, he's always calm and rational. I like things to stay the same, he's more adventurous. I'm practical, he's also practical but doesn't mind taking risks if he thinks it's worth it. I don't care for chick flicks, he loves them. I know next to zero things about Star Wars other than that I watched them and liked them well enough to have a marathon, Aaron knows literally every single thing there is to know about Star Wars. I'm too impatient for video games because the stupid controller makes me shoot at the floor and the ceiling and basically everything but the bad guys, but Aaron can level up in no time. I'm a total ditz, Aaron isn't. Aaron is a romantic who likes poetry, writing with an actual quill and ink, and sappy love songs. I am also sappy, but I'd rather write on my laptop. And I don't want to watch a romcom unless it has martial arts in it. He loves fast sports cars, and I'm more like, There's a cop, there's a cop, there's a cop.

On the flip side, we're both horrible procrastinators. We both cry over happy endings (I told you he's sappy). We both love nerdy scifi and Kung fu movies. We both love coffee. We're both horribly forgetful. We're both stubborn (this is usually a bad thing). We both love music, and to sing (Aaron plays guitar and likes to write music too. I'm less talented so I just listen.). And, very important, we're both homebodies. We agree on all the important things, and disagree on a few not so important things. He started watching Doctor Who for my sake, even though he wasn't originally crazy about the idea. And I, the girl who hates southern gospel music, have actually listened to a dozen Gaither songs without dying because he loves it.

I was a little bit discouraged when Aaron didn't propose to me after a few days of flirting like a brazen hussy. He wasn't the sharpest about picking up on a hint. What I didn't know until later, was that Aaron's brother and his wife, Alex and Lizzie, were totally chatting Aaron up about me. And Lizzie made sure to go out of her way to make sure Aaron and I were together a lot. And I found out later that Aaron had had his eye on me for quite some time.
Anyway, when I realized he would be leaving for his parent's house the next day, I was super sad. But then Rachel told me that we were also leaving to go to the Hoover's house that weekend so I perked up and started making wedding plans again. I am ever the optimistic.

I spent the next day dying of impatience until we could leave for the Hoover's. And once we got there, I spent the weekend happily following Aaron around some more. Except for one evening when we were alone in the kitchen, and I suddenly forgot how to speak English so I tore out of there like the place was on fire. Aaron asked me about that later and I was like, Te amo?

Remember when I said Rachel finally noticed something was up? I happen to enjoy stacking wood in small amounts. And the Hoovers happened to have some wood that needed cut and stacked. So what better way to force Aaron to spend time with me than to get us all out there cutting and stacking wood, right? So I cheerfully ran outside to start while everyone else dragged their feet behind me. What I didn't realize was that there was enough wood out there to build a flipping palace. And it took I was dying. My back went out. I had a migraine. I took a four hour nap afterwards. But about halfway through the job, Aaron's mom was like, Hey girls let's run to get some lunch for everyone and the guys can finish this up. Rachel dropped her piece of wood and booked it for the car. I, on the other hand, was like, What I have started, I shall see done to the end. And continued stacking wood. Dude, there was no way I was leaving if Aaron was staying. Whither he went, I would go also. His people would be my people. And his God, my God. Period.
Rachel told me later that she knew something was up at that moment because A) I would never give up the chance to spend more time with Aaron's mom, and B) I'd never give up the chance to quit working.
 It's true I am usually a total quitter when it comes to hard work, given the opportunity. But I am not a quitter when it comes to Aaron.

But Sunday night rolled around, and it was time for Rachel and I to leave. Aaron would head back to ND the next morning. We still hadn't set our wedding date, and that was definitely a problem for me. But I gave Aaron and his parents a hug goodbye, looked mournful, and left. Aaron's mom noticed the mournful look and thought I was mad at Aaron. So she got onto him later, and told him that he should probably be less of his usual sarcastic, mercilessly teasing self next time he came home. He felt bad about that and texted me an apology the next morning.

Whereupon, I sent him 1,736,893,256 bazillion texts for the next week.

It took Aaron almost a full week to finally express his undying love to me, and during that time I asked Rachel 1,000 times a day, WHAT IS HE WAITING FOR? 
And she was like, *sigh* Sunny, srsly. Give the guy a chance. It's only been a few days. But I still asked her the same question a million times more.

Rachel sent me some memes during that week, and was like, This is you right now.

At one point, Aaron was watching Doctor Who and texted me a line from the episode that he was watching. You Whovians will probably know what I'm talking about, but I'll explain it for those of you who have never watched the show.
There's this one time that the Doctor takes his companion, Rose, to a spaceship. They just kind of land on said spaceship during a party to which they weren't invited, and when they walk into the party everyone there is giving each other gifts from their various planets. The Doctor and Rose obviously had nothing to give so the Doctor improvises and breathes on this one tree alien woman's face, and he's like, I give you air from my lungs. Its totally hilarious.
But when Aaron randomly texted me that line, I give you air from my lungs, I didn't realize he was trying to share the joke with me because he happened to be watching Doctor Who at that moment. I forgot all about Doctor Who's existence and was like, RACHEL I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS BUT HE WANTS TO MARRY ME. And then Rachel reminded me of Doctor Who's existence.

But I'm happy to say, that by the end of the week Aaron finally let me know how he felt, and I was like:

I had never been so happy.
And then we called our family and friends. Everyone was shocked. Aaron's mom was like, Don't even joke with me about this. I don't believe you. You have to understand, I'm not the dating type and I've almost always been super picky. People have tried, unsuccessfully, to set me up with different guys for years and I wanted nothing to do with it. I was planning to be single for the rest of my life, and was truly content with that. For real. I've never daydreamed about a wedding, or even wanted one for that matter. I didn't have a hope chest. I didn't have wedding/marriage/baby boards on Pinterest. I didn't have a list of qualifications that a guy would need to live up to in order to be with me because I've never given it much thought. If anything, I've seen a lot of bad relationships, and didn't want the same thing for myself.
There were only three things that I ever really thought much about wanting out of a relationship:
1) I love Aaron's parent's marriage, and I've always watched them and thought that what they have is worth waiting for.
2) I would want to be with a friend. I don't understand dating someone that you don't know very well.
3) I would need to love his family.
And God met all of those desires, and a lot more that I didn't even realize I would need or want. Aaron is kind, patient, loves the Lord, slow to anger, reasonable, compassionate, and has a great sense of humor that can make me laugh in the worst of times. He didn't back away in disgust when I had to tell him about some things in my past, and he's patient with me when I have a hard time trusting. God knew what I would need before I did.

Lizzie started planning what our future babies would look within the hour, They are going to have the craziest hair ever!
And Aaron's other sister in law, Heather, was like, Adam (Aaron's brother) owes me money now. I told him this would happen someday.
Alex told Lizzie to stop jumping the gun with all the wedding and baby planning, but Aaron and I didn't mind.
Aaron's grandma regularly called his mom in the month that followed to make sure that we were still dating.
My mom was totally chill and acted like it was the most unsurprising, happy thing she had ever heard. Oh that's wonderful! And you're already so close to the family... do you want enchiladas for dinner?
Karen's girls were shocked into silence for the first time ever in their lives, and Lucy burst into tears.

And it was basically like a party for a few days wherein everyone celebrated the shocking and sudden end to my eternal singleness, and the awesomeness of Aaron and I finally being together at long last.

And no one has been more surprised by all of this than me.

Plum Pudding

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

part 2: our epic love story

Speaking of epic, here's mine and Aaron's first selfie.

Sometimes, when you're aiming for cutest girlfriend selfie ever, your face might do a weird melty thing. 

I was 22, and Aaron was 16 when we first met. In the words of my eldest sister, Shelly: #cradlerobbin
In my defense, my man child is older now. But Aaron does sometimes refer to me as his cougar.
Me: Aaron, I love you.
Aaron: That's because you're a cougar.

Me: I am NOT eating those nasty mushrooms.
Aaron: Don't be such a cougar. Just try them.

Me: Ahh I have the worst ever headache!
Aaron: That's what you get for being a cougar.

Anyway, picking up where I left off yesterday. People asked me a lot, So how did you feel at first?
I felt awkward for a few hours until I had some time to myself to think and ask God a few questions. And then once I had things settled between me and God, I was all like:

The only issue that I was running into at that point was, how was I supposed convey all of this to Aaron now? How does one tell a guy that he, overnight, became all that she ever wanted?
I finally hit upon the perfect solution. I would flirt shamelessly with Aaron all week, and he would pick up on the hint. And then we would be married in the morning.
Sadly, no one, NO ONE, noticed my efforts the entire time that Aron was home. I asked Aaron later how he could be so dense. He said I should take a class on how to flirt for real. Rachel did notice at one point, but I'll come back to that story later.

In the meantime, I decided to enjoy Aaron's visit. It was nice that Aaron and I already knew each other pretty well. I didn't have to be anyone other than myself around him. He had already seen me without make up and in grody work clothes. He already knew what I looked like when I first woke up. He already knew I was a total grump when I'm tired or hungry. He had already heard my embarrassing horse laugh a million times. This is another thing that I've been so grateful for. Aaron was already my friend.

So I pretty much just followed Aaron around for the ten days that he was here and tried to look cute. He was in Post Falls for the first part of his visit, and then went to his parent's house in MT for the last few days. And because God obviously wanted me to marry Aaron, it just so happened that Rachel and I had already planned a visit out to Aaron's parent's house that same weekend. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

One evening, Aaron was going out to eat and to do some shopping with his brother and sister in law, and I showed up right before they left. So I meandered towards the door with them, and Lizzie was like, Hey you wanna come with? I was like, Oh I guess so, and shot out the door towards the car. But then I noticed that Aaron was taking his own car. WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK. Did he not realize that I wanted to be with him? So then I was like, Oh look. You guys have a ton of stuff in your back seat, guess I'll have to ride with Aaron. And I ran to Aaron's car before anyone could say anything, and had never been so pleased with myself in my life. Aaron was also pleased with me, but I didn't know that til later.

A few days later, we all went to see a movie. I didn't get to sit by Aaron, and I'll never forgive the hoards of Hoovers who sat between us. I tried so hard to sit by him. I even volunteered to go with Aaron to save seats for everyone in the theater. But I didn't really think that one through because he sat in one seat and I had to walk eight seats down to save the rest. So everyone else sat between us. This was me that entire night:

She Who Shall Write More Later Today

Part 1 here
Part 3 here

July 30, 2015

part 1: when aaron came home last summer and i was like whoa

I first met Aaron about ten years ago when his parents went out for dinner with Tim and Karen, leaving the two of us together to watch the girls. It was love at first sight, and the past ten years have just been about us growing together in our super romantic relationship.
I'm kidding.
I mean, that is how we met, but I wasn't interested until nine years later. Aaron says that the night we met, I was awkward and gave him a book to read. I told him it was the most hilarious book ever (hey, it was to ME), but he thought it was really lame and stupid. But he read it anyway, and faked laughed, because he thought I was cute.
Cue heart eyes emoji. Seriously, how cute can he be?

Anyway, fast forward a few years. Aaron was living in FL, and I moved in with his parents for about five months. I didn't know them very well, but I was going through one of the darkest times of my life, and they helped pull me through it. I was a total basket case, but they just loved me anyway and taught me the true meaning of God's love and forgiveness. They taught me how to have a relationship with God that has, in turn, helped me in my relationship with Aaron. In the years since then, Aaron's parents have become my dearest friends, and his family became like my own. I LOVE looking back now, and seeing God's hand orchestrating all of that. Words fail to describe what it means to me to know that God knew exactly what would happen down the road every time I crashed the Hoover's family outings, dinners, and movie nights, and drew closer to them over time.

They are total dorks and couldn't take a normal family picture
 together if their lives depended on it.

Meanwhile, Aaron's mom and I had a lot of conversations together about Aaron's life, and exactly the type of girl he should marry. Which is pretty ironic now.

Fast forward again to last August. Aaron was coming home for a visit from ND where he works, and I was in the kitchen with his mom and sisters in law, discussing Aaron's girlfriend situation. (Seriously if Aaron ever needed to know what to do with his life, we were totally there to give him all the direction he ever needed. All he had to do was ask. Which he never did.) We decided that we should probably just set him up with someone for his own safety's sake.
About 30 minutes later, Aaron drove up and got out of his car.

Whereupon, I promptly decided that if Aaron ever went out with any girl but myself, I would punch him in the face. Fortunately, Aaron didn't want any other girl.
Cue heart eyes emoji again.

Aaron and everyone else asked me what changed that day. I don't know really. I believe it was just God's timing. I had total peace about it by the next morning.

She Who Shall Continue This Story Tomorrow

Part 2 here
Part 3 here