Connar Joy Calligraphy

14 dates in 5 weeks.

OvercomingConnar Turner1 Comment

Yeah, that title isn’t a joke. I recently went on 14 dates over the span of 5 weeks. There’s that 14* again. But back to the dating part, I am fully aware that some of you are going to be sHoOk by this blog post title. Lol.

I’m telling you about this to hopefully encourage someone who is struggling with anxiety, self-worth, singleness, feeling the need to be in a relationship, feeling the need to be pursued, or simply feeling lonely. I’m also telling you this because my 14 dates in 5 weeks will forever be known as the time where I finally started to become who I’ve always wanted to be. Aaaaah!!

Connar Joy Calligraphy 1 Peter 5:10

This is a round-up in regards to my last three posts: Overcoming: Parts 1, 2 & 3.

So, 14 months ago the Lord used an (almost) killer panic attack to, as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would say, flip-turn my life upside down. I’ve never been more grateful for the hardship that has come with my panic disorder. You see, one of my most reliable coping mechanisms when I’m having a panic attack is to pray out loud. I try to be still, breathe as best I can, and slowly pray through the panic:

“Lord, you have seen me through this time and time again, and you will do it again. You tell me to be anxious for nothing and bring all of my struggles to You. God, I am struggling right this moment. I need Your peace, Lord. I thank you for who You are and for your resounding presence in my life. You have seen me through this before, and you will see me through it again. You are a faithful God. You are a gracious God. You are a loving God. You are a mighty God who saves. I ask that you take this feeling away in Jesus’s name. Amen.”

I will repeat that prayer and slowly but surely, my panic attack goes away. Y’all!! It’s truly an unfathomable experience to feel panic literally leave my body as I trust the Lord with my life. For as long as I’ve lived, I have known I can trust God, but I’m gonna be real honest here, I have never fully believed it. Or at least I’ve never been in a situation where I have nothing left but to fully surrender and rely on Him. My panic attacks used to last hours on end. I used to panic pray as I would have them— that was a bust. The reason? It’s because I wasn’t truly believing I could lean on God. I wasn’t fully believing the words Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”

Here is my take-away: The Lord has used my panic attacks to pursue me. He has been longing for a deep relationship with me my whole life, but I haven’t pursued Him back. God used this season of brokenness to put me back together. I am a stronger person because of this. I am resilient because of this. I am confident in God’s plan for my life because of this. I can say these things and actually mean them. What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer and truly know and believe that He is for me and He will carry me through.

Whatever hard situation you are walking through right now, whether it be anxiety, self-doubt, job-hunting, failure, fear, heartbreak, addiction, or sickness, look at it in terms of the Lord using this difficult season to bring you back to Him. Or maybe it’s so you’ll come to Him for the first time ever. Either way, I am telling you He is constantly looking for a deep relationship with you, His beloved. And when you finally enter into a living, breathing relationship with the Lord, you’ll experience a joy like no other.

So that’s number one: I have learned to TRULY trust the Lord with what He has planned for my life. It’s hard and I’m not always excited about the path He is taking me on in the moment, but ultimately, I know without a doubt His ways are higher than my ways.

Switching gears:

I have always, always, always dreamed of becoming a wife and a mama. That is the deepest desire of my heart. So, you can imagine the pain I felt and feel as I watch my friends date, fall in love, get engaged, have bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, weddings, and now babies. Please hear me clearly when I say this: I am genuinely happy for each of them, but, I’m not gonna lie, it stings when that’s what I want more than anything in this world and it just hasn’t happened.

Singleness is something I’ve only talked about with a handful of my very best friends, well, up until I started this journey of self-love. Now my dating life is basically entertainment for everyone who is in the loop on it. Before this, I have always acted like I didn’t care that I wasn’t in serious relationships. If I don’t get invested or share that I actually want that, then I can’t get hurt, right?

So in July, I went on a date. Then the next week, another. Then 4 more the next week, then 4 more, then 3 in a weekend, then I had a week off, but I rounded out week number 5 with my 14th date.

I kind of wish this was about to turn into a hilarious tell-all about these recent, let’s call them, adventures. But 1. I’m not going that direction with this post (v sorry) and 2. I live in Lubbock, so even if I use code names, word’s probably getting out.

I will say that I went on one date with a guy who grilllllllled me on deep, weird, awkward and heavy first date questions that you shouldn’t even ask until like date 5 or 17. And he strongly disagreed with every single word that came out of my mouth. When the date was over, I could not scurry out of there quick enough and I literally whispered “what the…” to myself at least 35 times on the way home. I also went on about 4 dates with a guy who I wanted to end it with but couldn’t figure out a way to break it off— well, he went ahead put the nail in the coffin himself by calling me 27 times, texting 13 times and knocking on my door for 30 minutes straight at 2 am while I was HOME ALONE. Praise the Lord for my brother-in-law who came to my rescue! But I do I feel like I’ve finally made it because I had a low-key stalker for one night. Hah jk. The next morning, I answered his phone call where he responded with a chipper, casual “Hey what’s up!?” like NOTHING happened!?! Literally, lol. Laugh out loud. I would go on, but I’m stopping here because the coolest part about that middle of the night stalker moment is the realization I had in a very tearful prayer at 3 am, after the smoke had settled.

Here it is and this is what I want to tell you:

I was living my life all wrong. I was self-absorbed and glorifying the hustle. I treated myself horribly and didn’t think I was worth a thing. Here is where the story shifts: 14 months ago, God used July 20, 2017, to completely alter my world. I was shaken. I wasn’t in control. I thought I was going to die. Through having a panic disorder and an unending supply of panic attacks, I learned that the only way to get through them is to trust that the Lord will get me through. Time and time again, He was faithful in giving me relief and peace from the attacks. Next, I could trust Him. He didn’t have to prove Himself to me by any means, but He sure did prove Himself to me through this situation. He taught me to let go of my control and completely trust Him. Through trusting Him, I decided to trust others with a secret that I had been holding onto for 14+ years. The secret? I had no self-worth. I hated all parts of myself so deeply and my self-esteem was non-existent. God used the people I confided in as vessels and taught me to look at myself the way He sees me, rather than just asking Him for self-confidence. I began to pray to see myself through HIS eyes and the way I viewed myself began to shift. I started focusing on the positive attributes about me, rather than the negative. Then, for the first time in a while, I decided to just put myself out there and be open to going on a date. Then it turned into talking to and dating multiple guys at once. Before each date, I would pray. I would ask the Lord for courage to be myself. My fun, witty, loving, kind and confident self. Notice how I didn’t pray for confidence? I just prayed for specific attributes about myself to come out. I also prayed for clarity and discernment. And last, I end with “Your will, Lord.” And I mean it. Whatever His will is, that’s what I want.

Picture a sliding door, made of the heaviest, most sturdy industrial steel. It hasn’t been opened in over 14 years and it’s rusted into place. But after I have walked through everything I listed in the paragraph above, I see that industrial steel door slowly sliding open. It opens as I let God fill me with His love and hope and promises. It opens a little more as I decipher what is Truth from lie. It opens even more as I proclaim that I am worthy of the very best. It opens more as I realize that I can be confident, because I am made in the image of God. And just like that, this steel door is OPENING right before my eyes and I can see the other side, full of life and beauty and the riches of His love.

I want to be very clear on something: it is NOT the guys I am going on dates with that are giving me this new-found confidence. I am finding it by the way I am reacting to these dates. I could easily say, “Oh, he’s interested in me! What if that doesn’t happen again for a while? I should just date him.” But NO NO NO. I am using discernment and I am being resolute in my convictions and guess what? I’m completely at peace with whatever happens because “God’s will.” I say those two words out loud or in my head more times than I can count because God’s will for us is already set into motion and it is going to be better than anything we could ever dream up for ourselves.

Listen, God could totally Paul me up and keep me single forever. (1 Cor. 7:32-35) Lol only He knows. #pleasedonttho. But, seriously— The only thing that truly matters is our eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the waiting, I am going to be thankful for my singleness. I couldn’t watch whatever I want on Netflix whenever I want if I was in a relationship. I couldn’t spend 3 hours at Target. I wouldn’t have had the time I have had with my seven nieces and nephews, proving to be the best aunt in the world (humble brag), if I already was married with kids. The person I was 14+++++ months ago wasn’t ready, and even though I didn’t know that, the Lord knew that. His will, His ways. So whatever it is you are waiting on, consider that waiting time to be a gift from God and focus on making the most of it!

Connar Joy Calligraphy Proverbs 31:25

Last thing! I’m going to talk about the number FOURTEEN. It’s been 14 months since my ER visit, 14 months of dealing with a panic disorder, 14 years of struggling with self-hate, then confession of my low self-worth to my 14 coworkers, I recently went on 14 dates in 5 weeks, and last, I am sharing the final part of this blog series TODAY, exactly 14 months from when all this started. Remind you, this was all unintentional. The Biblical significance of the number 14 means double perfection- a new beginning. It also means deliverance and liberty. God is literally prophesying over me that I am going to be free from this and I WILL BE delivered of this anxiety and self-doubt. What a chilling and amazing thing. God showed up in a tangible way through these blog posts. I had no idea 14 was a reoccurring number until I was writing, and if that isn’t proof that OUR GOD is good and faithful and so detail-oriented in His plans, then I don’t know what is.

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, My Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy rains
Unending love, amazing grace”

Connar Joy Turner

Thank you for reading. My story is not finished and my struggles are still very present, but there is a new found Hope and I’m so excited about this major shift! I’m done writing on this subject for now, but I promise to always share more when I feel the Lord place a call on my heart.

Connar Joy signature

Overcoming: Part 3.

OvercomingConnar Turner1 Comment

Here we are at Part 3 of my “overcoming” series. FYI for all you grammar people, my “tenses” are going to be way off, so just ignore it, k? I’m gonna try to get through this one without crying, but the tears are already welling up just knowing what the Lord is about to have me write.

Connar Joy Calligraphy - darkness to light

I'm going to be completely vulnerable and confess something that I have been holding onto for over 14 years. I’ve only told a few of my closest people about this (very recently), but what freedom I have found in sharing it with some of my community of fellow believers! They picked me up and it was pretty awesome to see firsthand just how quickly the darkness will flee once it’s brought into the Light!

Here it is:

I have 0% self-worth. I think I am worth nothing and have nothing to offer. The way I view myself is unbelievably harsh. I’ve been believing some pretty horrific lies about myself for over 14 years. That is more than half of my life. I’ve been believing the most negative and hateful things about myself down to my core and it has been secretly and quietly making up every fiber of my self-esteem. It’s not secret or quiet to me, though. It’s loud and it’s harsh and it’s hurtful. But I am a really good at pretending it doesn’t bother me.

So, I’ve written about my panic attacks now. Well, those were the springboard to get me to see a counselor. I went maybe 6 or 7 times total, and honestly we didn’t solve anything related to my panic disorder. Lol. Haha. It’s fine. I did, however, decide to open up about how I have always struggled with self-confidence. My counselor pressed in a bit and got some stuff out of me that I couldn’t believe I was actually admitting out loud. She then told me to tell her 10 things I like about myself right then and there. I struggled to get to three. THREE! She stopped me after 5 minutes of “umms” and “uhhs”, then asked me to make a list on my own time of 100 positive ways to describe myself. Freakin impossible, but, necessary. Well, that was in September of 2017. An entire year ago.

So, I tried a little over the next few months, but never wrote a word down. I failed every time. You see, when something has had this intense of a stronghold on you for so many years, there isn’t an easy fix. If I’m gonna make a change in the way I view myself, I’m gonna have to be extremely proactive and work really hard. I’m gonna have to do like Cady Herron in Mean Girls after Regina George gets hit by a bus.

Cady Herron poison gif.gif

Yep, that. I have been letting a snake bite me over and over again and it’s time to “suck out the poison.” I have been letting the enemy dictate my feelings towards myself and it’s gonna take a while to get his grip off of me.

This past May (2018), I casually said something to my sister, Calli, without even thinking that this would open up a big box of immediate self-discovery and change. Here are the words I said as low-key as possible— “I want to join a community group at church but I need to lose 20 lbs before I do that.” She looked at me in disbelief and said “you’re kidding, right??” I wasn’t kidding and I didn’t see anything wrong with the statement I had just made. Although, if she or one of my friends, or a literal stranger would have said that to me, I would’ve had the same reaction as she did.

She then got pretty real with me because she could see the hate I had for myself in my eyes. There are reasons and examples of times where my self-worth has been knocked down, but the majority of it literally just comes from nowhere, planted entirely by Satan. This deep rooted self-hate stems from all parts of me— physical, mental, personality and spiritual. I could give specific examples in each of those areas, but I know y’all aren’t trying to read a novel right now… so I won’t go into the difficult details.

Are y’all getting frustrated reading this? Because I would want to jump through the screen and grab a girl or a guy who was writing this way about themselves. I would want to say to you “Don’t you see!?!?! You are this, this, this and that! You’ve got this and that, and you can do this really well!” But, when it comes to myself, there is a door made of the heaviest industrial steel that nothing is getting through. It has prevented me from being myself around strangers. It has turned me into a shy person in public settings. It has transformed me into a person who is fun once you get to know her, but other than that, standoffish. Not standoffish because I mean to be, but I hide behind this steel door as a defense mechanism because I am so afraid of someone seeing the real me and not liking what they see.

My sister then asked me a question that totally put things into perspective. She said something like, “Connar, when you say or think things like that about yourself, you are literally telling the God of the universe that you think He made a mistake on you. You think He messed up and did a bad job when He made you. Do you realize that?”

My sister then told me to start praying to see myself through the Lord’s eyes.

I have been praying for God to give me self-confidence for so many years and I’m telling you right now things changed as soon as I stopped praying for confidence and started praying to see myself through the Lord’s eyes. I want to see myself how HE sees me. This is when everything changed.

That night in May was full of tears, embarrassment and confession as I unraveled the inner workings of why I feel the way I do about myself out loud to my sister. Any compliment I have ever received doesn’t absorb into me. I truly cannot take a compliment, yet Words of Affirmation is my second Love Language?

My sister told me to start with 30 words for my affirmation list and that she would be checking. Sidenote: I will procrastinate procrastination so you literally have to check up on me or give me a treat or something like a 4 year old to make sure I’m staying on task. (*Disclaimer to my bosses: this does not pertain to my professional work haha*) Anyway, I needed her to say she was going to check my list in one week because I wasn’t about to ask her to. So in May, I sat down to write the list. I spent an hour and three minutes writing 30 positive adjectives / affirmations about myself. One hour and three minutes to get 30 words. I would look at the Thesaurus and think I found a word, then I would analyze it and say “hmm I’m not really good at that, so never mind on that word.” But, I did it. I got to 30 words.

The day before I sat down to write the list, we had our annual leadership day at work, where we come together and set goals for the year and also dive into the Word with each other. Did I mention I have the best job ever? But, since it was so fresh on my mind, I decided to confess to my 14* coworkers, exactly what I was walking through and the journey of self-love I was about to embark on. I told them about the list and how I had to get to 100, but had only gotten 30 so far. The next week, they gave me a jar. Each of these godly, loving, encouraging and amazing women wrote several words and phrases to affirm me. They finished my list. They were showing me exactly what God sees.

Affirmation Jar

I mean come ON. God is so, so faithful in answering our prayers and He is in constant pursuit of us. He desires for us to truly feel how deep and consuming His love is for us.

Even though I could easily make a list of 500 negative attributes about myself in about 25 minutes, I’m not, nor will I ever go there. I’m gonna share a handful of the positive things written on my behalf, as well as, my list of 52! positive affirmations right now (this is a working list that I am going to be intentional about adding to weekly).

affirmations

Joyful, Funny, Creative, Kind, Fun, Sweet, Talented, Good hair, Fun and loving aunt, Witty, Caring, Humble, Cute, Encouraging, Loving, Compassionate, Understanding, Hilarious, Silly, Respectful, Imaginative, Merciful, Playful, Positive, Spontaneous, Cheerful, Blessed, Non-judgmental, Loved, Gentle, Upbeat, Youthful, Good listener, Pretty blue eyes, Great friend, Loves easily, Heart for others, Good calves, Photogenic, Cute style, Strong, Faithful, Resolute, Charismatic, Obedient, Awesome, Beautiful, Worthy, Contagious smile, “Extra”, Bold, Brave, Strong where my generation tends to compromise

Those words didn’t come easily to me, but I have worked on myself the past few months and I choose to believe that each word up there is true about me.

One example: I have always been ashamed of being youthful. I thought I needed to grow up and be cool, like most other people. But no! That sucks. Put a trampoline in front of me— I’m gonna jump on it. I can’t help it. I still watch High School Musical and will get up and dance and sing along with every word. I will pull a prank on you the first chance I get. I am all for spontaneous, fun things and I’m not going to be ashamed of being youthful because HOW BORING would life be if there weren’t people like me who record an insta story because they randomly saw a snail on the sidewalk and couldn’t contain their enthusiasm?! I’m owning that now and I’m proud of it.

You have to look at yourself through a different lens and you’ll see just how great that quality that you once thought was negative actually is.

My struggle with self-worth is still very real and present, but the difference now? Now I recognize it and I call it out on what it is: I’m letting Satan have a grip on me. I’m letting him take my thoughts captive. You know what I’m not gonna do? I’m not gonna let him do that anymore and neither are you. We all struggle with self-doubt and insecurity in some way or another, but we are co-heirs with CHRIST. Sons and daughters of the most mighty King, the Lord of all creation. Remind yourself of that truth and then try and not be confident!

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are chosen and worthy. You were hand-picked and given unique characteristics and skills so you are free to live a life full of abundant joy! There is not another person exactly like you and that is the coolest thing in the world. God formed you and placed you on earth for a very specific reason because He knew you were needed. He wants to use you for His kingdom.

Connar Joy Calligraphy Psalm 139:14

I am strong. And I am confident in my unique qualities. Who me? Yep. Oh, and guess what else? I’m thankful for July 20, 2017, because without that day of panic, I would not be writing this right now.

Your charge:

Pray for God to reveal Himself to you. Pray to see yourself through His eyes. The same God who created the universe, who made the most beautiful mountains, billions of galaxies, the oceans, the most intricate, detail-oriented God. He made YOU in the image of Him and it’s time for you to see that.

I also think you should make a positive affirmation list of your own. If you need encouragement, ask me to tell you 3 things I think are great about you and I’ll do it in a heartbeat. I won’t think it’s weird. If I know you well, if we haven’t talked in years, or if I don’t know you at all— if you need 3 things to get started on your list, ask me and we will get that list going right away. God didn’t have me proclaim to the world that I deal with intense insecurities for nothing!

Tomorrow, I plan on wrapping this up and I’m SO excited to share!! Thanks for reading!

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*Just realized that 14 seems to be a reoccurring number here. It’s been 14 months since I went to the ER and began living with a panic disorder, I’ve dealt with self-esteem issues for 14 years, and I had 14 coworkers listen to my confession. Anyone with some knowledge on numbers and their correlation to the Bible have anything to add? Because I don’t. Lol let me know.

Overcoming: Part 2.

OvercomingConnar Turner1 Comment

Hiiii back again for round 2 of the Overcoming Series.

Connar Joy Calligraphy John 16:33

I remember a year ago, I called my best friend, Madi, in tears, saying just how alone I felt. Guys, that isn’t my personality to do stuff like that. I keep things shoved down deep until I either 1) can’t take it anymore and God is like hey let me show you what it’s like to think you can do everything on your own and bottle everything up and BOOM here comes the extreme panic attacks on the daily. or 2) I just get really passive aggressive because I am about as confrontational as a… snail? Don’t think that made sense. For example, in high school, a guy was driving out of control and cut me off with his truck, totaling my car, but I ended up apologizing to him even though the wreck was 1000% his fault. Confronting others about the way I am feeling about myself or my situation is no different. I will just not do it or I will complain about something in a super jokey and sarcastic way, so no one really knows that I’m actually upset. I internalize everything.

I was two months in to the multiple panic attacks a day lifestyle and things weren’t getting any easier. My doctor had just placed a diagnoses on me and I was going through hell every single day. I kept my head up as best as possible and tried to be as funny and joyful as I could through the brokenness and pain, but it was hard work. The enemy made me believe that if I talked about it, I was being a burden. He would tell me, “Connar, you are supposed to bring joy and never ever burden anyone with how you are feeling. Nobody cares. Nobody wants to know. Dry it up and pretend it’s okay. Your friends have their own lives and they do. not. care. Your family and coworkers are sick of hearing about these panic attacks.”

Well, Satan got me right then and there. I believed that lie with my whole heart. A lot had been going on and my panic attacks would not relent, no matter how many steps I was taking in the right direction. That’s when I called Madi, who lives in Denver, and broke down. I told her I didn’t feel like I was enough and I didn’t feel loved by my very best friends anymore. She prayed for me over the phone and then she rallied the troops and I got one of the most thoughtful things I have ever received in my life in the mail just a couple days later.

Hardmont+1 Journal
Hardmont+1 Journal

I remember opening the package and breaking down. Full on dramatic movie-style fall to the ground and cry out of both humility and thankfulness kind of break down. Inside the note, read “For when the days are hard. We love you Connar! Love, Hardmont+1” — It was a journal with a prayer or a note of encouragement from each member of the Hardmont+1 (that’s what we call our group of nine college best friends because half lived on Harwell, the other half lived on Piedmont, and the plus one lived on 20th.) I could not grasp how loved I felt in that moment by Blair, Kassi, Logan, Emily, Madi, Madelyn, Bethany & Peytan. The Lord reminded me so sweetly, through their words, that I was not going through this alone and that my friends still deeply cared and always would. Reminder: He brings people into our lives and uses people to draw us back to Him! The Lord used those eight friends as vessels to reveal His love for me. To remind me that He was right there with me. He was right there with me in the darkness, ready and prepared to bring me into the Light.

A couple things that helped me in the middle:

  1. Identifying my anxiety “triggers” — I’m only going to share one with you right now.

    1. My business: Connar Joy Calligraphy was just about killing me at this point. I was over-extending myself, getting super stressed out about the logistics of it all and putting too much time and effort into comparing my work to others.

“Learn to rest, not quit.”
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Above are two quotes I had to learn to make my mantra in regards to CJC. I do not believe the Lord gave me a talent and love for something, just so I can let it to go to waste. I believe that He gave me this specific set of skills to create beautiful things that inspire others to look to Him, our Creator. BUT, it was making me sick. It was giving me panic attacks and making me doubt myself. It was making me jealous, judgmental and had me constantly questioning my worth. I would be up all night scrolling through other calligraphers’ Insta feeds and comparing myself to them. “I don’t have enough workspace to do that. I don’t have the funds to do that. I don’t have the network of people to make that happen. I’m not good enough. I’m way better at this than than her.” If I didn’t get enough likes on a post, I would take that personally. The list goes on, but this business and that business instagram (binsta as I like to call it) was giving me the most massive pit in my stomach.

Here’s my advice: If something is giving you a pit in your stomach, STOP doing it! Take a break. Learn to rest. We only get ONE life, don’t waste it. Stop looking to screens for affirmation. Stop scrolling through everyone else’s lives comparing yourself to others. Stop it. Stop. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He’s the the starter and He’s the finisher, so ultimately the only thing that matters is your relationship with Him and how you are going to lead people to Him. Stop thinking about how many likes or followers you have, and Follow JESUS. He will give you rest and healing, and best of all, He WILL restore your Joy! Then, once you have figured that out, go share it with others.

2. Cut caffeine and get enough sleep

Caffeine and not getting enough sleep cause anxiety. And y’all, I’ve been running on coffee, Diet Coke and no sleep for yeeeeaaaaars. Cutting caffeine was hard. I actually have brought it back into my life regularly again and it’s done nothing but bring me down, so I’m about to kick it to the curb. Sleeping is also a challenge because I am a night owl and always have been. I could sleep all day. Like, lean me against a wall and I will fall asleep in .5 seconds. The second the clock strikes 9pm? HEY I’m awake! Doesn't matter if I only slept 3 hours the night before, my brain turns on at night. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep is so important.

3. Medication

Never in my life would I have thought I would have to take two different medicines for anxiety every morning, but here we are. And guess what? There is no shame in that! I can tell a huge difference with and without medication. So, if you are struggling with panic attacks and this is deeper than stress or light anxiety, I encourage you to go see a doctor about it.

4. Wise counsel

Also, there is no shame in talking to a professional about what is going on in your life. I was nervous as all get out to call a counselor, and even though I only did it for a handful of sessions, I am so glad I did. It opened a door to a whole part of healing in my life that I’m gonna talk about in “Overcoming: Part 3.” Also, I work in the most encouraging environment where I was constantly being checked on by friends there, as well as my bosses who are both LPCs. Thank you Lord for having me there in that season. One more thing— I highly recommend the book Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado to anyone struggling with anxiety or a panic disorder.

5. Trusting that God will take care of me and leaning into Him in the struggle, instead of running away from Him by turning towards anger or wordly things

That was a lesson I had to learn quickly. In the past, I would have prayed about my trials and if they weren’t fixed, I felt like God wasn’t listening to me or that He had forgotten me. So, I would numb it and become very apathetic towards my relationship with the Lord. My mentality went like this: “Yes, I believe Jesus is my Savior, but no, I don’t believe He is actively at work in my life and has a plan better than my own, because if He did, this whole thing wouldn’t be happening.” Goodness, am I thankful that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that He gives an abundance of grace. I had to quickly learn that God was my only refuge in this season of debilitating panic. I will praise Him for this pivotal turning point in my life. I will praise Him because He already knew that not one, not two, not even 16 panic attacks would have me fully relying on Him. It was when the panic disorder would. not. relent. I had to lay the burden down at His feet. I had to surrender. I’m probably in the hundred count on panic attacks by now, and as much as they suck and make me feel like I am literally dying, I am so thankful for them.

Here’s what I have to say: The SAME spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in you and lives in me, so we can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who gives us strength. I refuse to be bound by fear. I refuse to be bound by anxiety. I REFUSE to be bound by anything the enemy throws my way. I will endure whatever mess is thrown my way because Christ endured and bled and died for me. I will endure because the Lord is mighty to save. The Lord is GOOD and strong and faithful to bring the work He started in you and the work He started in me to COMPLETION. (Phil. 1:6) He can and He will. All we have to do is surrender at His feet. What a relief it is to let the God of the universe carry your burdens and give you rest. What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer. No matter what trials we are facing, we can find rest in the truth that GOD has the final say. We might be in battle with the enemy every day, but God has already won the war!

God takes responsibility for the hearts and minds of those who believe in Him. As we celebrate Him and pray to Him, He constructs a fortress around our hearts and minds, protecting us from the attacks of the devil.

-Max Lucado, Anxious For Nothing

My panic attacks are becoming more few and far between and I praise the Lord for that! I still struggle with an attack about once a week which is nothing compared to the multiple I was having per day, then per week. I appreciate prayers and I am absolutely here and ready to be a listening ear and a source of encouragement, if possible, to you if you need me. I would love to talk to you about it. Just leave a comment, DM me on insta or email me.

See you tomorrow for “Overcoming: Part 3” — it’s a tough one!

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Overcoming: Part 1.

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This is a three part series with a finale fourth that isn’t titled Overcoming. Also, feeling weird that I'm doing a blog series. Or a blog about something serious. Series-ous. ;)

This has a whole lot to do with why I have taken a long time-out from Connar Joy Calligraphy.

July 20, 2017: a day that sparked a major sea-change in my life.
This is an entry post, just to tell you what's been going on in my life over the past 12 months. No words of wisdom, or encouraging revelations here. Just the facts.

After work on July 20, 2017, I was heading to Austin with four friends from work for a fun weekend of Silos, segways, and so much food. It was my first time going on a trip with these friends, and I was excited to get to know them better. I had been doing the whole work all day at my job, then work all night on this business thing for a while, but it was getting a little too intense. I had been feeling tightness in my neck and shoulders, constant dizzy spells, rapid heart rate, and had been running on a solid 3-5 hours of sleep every single night for months. Of course, the weeks and days leading up to the trip, I had been feeling extremely dizzy, but chalked it up to lack of sleep. On July 20th, I was at work and feeling unusually dizzy and disoriented- but it would only last for about a minute at a time. Warning? Obviously. Did I listen to that warning? Obvs not. I legitimately just thought I needed to get a good night's sleep and all would be good.

We got in the car after work and headed to Austin. About an hour into the drive, I couldn't take the feeling of being car sick. I felt like I was on the Superman ride at Six Flags. It felt like I was "dropping." Up and down. Up and down. I held it in for a while, but finally admitted to the rest of the car that I felt sick. We pulled over to a gas station where I almost passed out, but luckily, I didn't. I continued to get more and more dizzy, and my chest was so tight that I thought I was having a heart attack. Next thing I know, we have decided to book it to Sweetwater (about 2 hours from Lubbock), to get me to the emergency room. I texted my dad to meet me there and that's pretty much the last thing I could do. I couldn't get a breath. I began to hyperventilate. I remember the last word I whispered before my body completely spasmed: "hurry." My eyes, mouth and hands were twitching uncontrollably. I tried for as long as I could to keep my eyes open, because I thought the minute I closed them, I was likely to die. I couldn't keep them open any longer. My eyelids locked shut. My mouth clenched shut. No matter how hard I tried to open them, I couldn't. My fingers, hands and wrists were contorting in the most painful spasm- I couldn't get them unclenched. It kept spasming tighter and tighter, I thought my bones were breaking. I could do nothing. I could say nothing. I remember pleading in my head for the Lord to spare my life. Over and over again. It wasn't peaceful. I could hear my friends trying to find the entrance to the Sweetwater, TX emergency room. (SIDENOTE: DO NOT EVER GO THERE IF YOU CAN HELP IT. THE LIVING WORST.) There was panic all around, yet their voices were so comforting and calming to me. In my mind, I was going to die. I didn't know what was going on. I had never experienced anything like this in my life. My final thought before I was being wheeled into the ER was "how are they going to tell my nieces that Kiki is dead?" Yiiiiikes haha. So, about 54 unsuccessful IV attempts later, I was being pumped with all the things to get my muscles to relax. 30 minutes later, I was able to start to open my eyes. I saw my amazing, sweet, strong and caring friends standing around me. I saw the 14* year old doctor. I saw the 18* year old murse walk in and say my Potassium is at an extremely low 2.3 (should be a 3.5-5 at all times). My parents got there about 30 minutes after that. Things weren't great.

So, like, obviously, I didn't end up going to Austin.

Next up, came the "episodes" -- these were panic attacks 6-8 times a day that would last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. We didn't know they were panic attacks at the time. My doctor did not think what happened to me that day or any of the days after could possibly be related to anxiety, so I had every test under the sun done. All levels were coming back fine. I wore a heart monitor for 10 days and it was fine. Did a stress test, two EKGs, an MRI on my brain, pulmonary function tests, all the labs. Everything was fine.

First diagnoses: Vertigo and Hyperventilation Syndrome. First, what in the world? I get the vertigo thing because I was v dizzy all the time. But I only hyperventilated the one time on July 20th when I LITERALLY thought I was about to close my eyes and DIE. Obviously you don't breathe well when you're high-key dying. Long story short, I hyperventilate all the time, even when I don't realize it. Finding that out was really cool. The hyperventilating is what caused my full body spasm and Potassium and Magnesium to get so low.

Panic Disorder | Connar Joy Calligraphy

Next diagnoses: Panic Disorder. How fun is that to admit out loud?! I thought I had a little bit of anxiety before, but I'm telling you right now, it was NOTHING compared to the inner turmoil that has been weighing me down the past year. I am constantly feeling nauseous, my chest is always tight, I black out and see floaters in my eyes daily, my breathing is shallow, I have a permanent pit in my stomach, and I get dizzy often. That's anxiety. Panic attacks are different. They hit hard and fast. And they are no joke. With each one, I have gotten better with coping, but that doesn't mean I don't feel like I'm about to fall over and die at any given moment.

Feeling super vulnerable here, sharing my panic disorder with the world. But, maybe more people are in the same boat as me. I take medication. Hopefully it’s not forever, but I’ll take it as long as it helps me. I went to a few counseling sessions in the Fall of 2017 to try to help. I douse myself in Young Living’s Stress Away essential oil. And I cut caffeine as much as possible, which if we’re being honest, was the worst part because I love Diet Coke more than I think you know. Also, I try to get more than 6 hours of sleep.. workin’ on that one still because I’m a night owl all the way.

Hey, thanks for reading all that. Now you know just the facts of what is up with me haha. It’s a REALLY fun time let me tell ya. But my next blog posts are about coping and overcoming and faith and strength. I really hope you keep up!

Xoxo Connar

Happy Birthday, Clarke!

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Clarke 7th Birthday.JPG

Seven years old. I'm sorry, what? I wrote about 75% of this blog post about Clarke over two years ago, and recently came across it in my drafts. Decided to post it today for her birthday. Keep reading to learn a little bit about the first of my seven nieces and nephews! P.S. Get ready for one of these blogs for each of my seven nieces and nephews on their seventh birthdays. :)

Clarkie has been my best friend since the second I found out about her. I remember being in the freshmen dorms when my sister, Calli, called to tell me the great news. She was pregnant! I screamed and cried and couldn't believe that i was going to be an aunt! I immediately told everyone on my hall and then everyone on campus. Then, immediately was told by my sister that I had to keep it a secret. Oops.

My life changed after Clarke was born. While Calli was pregnant, I was so excited for what was to come, but I don't think I fully could comprehend just how involved i would be in Clarke's life. She instantly became a part of us. I could not be more obsessed. She was born at the beginning of June and I spent every single day with her until I had to go back to school in August. My friends can attest that I was (and still am) the proudest aunt. It was my favorite thing about myself. I had a niece!

Fast facts about Clarke.

Nickname: Clarkie.

Favorite Things: The Lord, princesses, dress-ups, fairies, make-believe, drawing, performing (The Greatest Showman and High School Musical, mostly), pink, Barbie and Disney Princess movies, and her family.

About: She is a little girl made of magic. She is beautiful, kind, smart, encouraging, and so very loving. She has a heart of gold. She has a zeal for life that we often wish we could bottle up. She gets excited about the most mundane things. She makes everyone around her feel important, happy, and well-loved. She's funny, too. She tries to act like a teenager, and the words and phrases she uses are so "big girl" that it has us laughing daily. I love to be sarcastic and (playfully) sassy with her. Ugghhh she's the best, y'all.

Clarke and I have our very own song. She made it up a couple weeks before I moved to Dallas in 2014 (she had just turned three) and we sing it to each other every time we're together.

"Kiki and Clarkie are best friends forever - even though we may not always be together - we're together in the spirit and we're really, really, really, really cool."

Goodness, I could go on forever about how great of a child Clarke is. I'll leave you with the most important thing about her- her love for the Lord. Clarke has been memorizing scripture since the day she could talk, and it's so impressive. She knows every single book of the Bible, in order, and did not use a song to learn them. She wakes up before the rest of her family and writes out the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm at the kitchen table. Her Biblical memorization puts me to shame. Her prayers bring us to tears. Her insight on faith and how the Lord works in our lives is unbelievable. She is truly is a girl after God's own heart. She is a leader, not only because she is the oldest of the nieces and nephews, but because she lets her Light shine so bright, people are drawn to her. Her love for the Lord and for others is infectious. And she is just SEVEN.

As much as it pains me to watch her grow and change from a baby, to a toddler, to a little girl, to a big girl- I am so excited to see what God has in store for this extraordinary child.

I love you, Clarke Elise. More than you could ever know! Besties forever!!

Xoxo, Kiki