My Story: Part I

by Lavender Elizabeth, February 28, 2016
I was born at the beginning of February in 1992 in Orangeville, a town outside of Toronto, Ontario.

My parents, Mark and Cheryl, are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this August. I am incredibly blessed to have such great role models for what a marriage should look like, as well as a close relationship with them. I look forward to visiting them and truly enjoy their company. They've been my support system, continually encouraging me and helping me achieve my goals.

My sister, Bethany, who is two years my junior, is amazing. She is my best friend, roommate, and most important person in my life. She is someone who I grow in my faith with, constantly laugh with, and occasionally steal clothes from.

I also have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Kinchie and Whinnie who make my world a happier place. They have such distinct personalities, but are glued to each others' hips. They're sweet, funny, and love their family so much!

At a young age, I began my moving journey. When I was four, we experienced our first move to Caledon, a small town about 30 minutes away from our home in Orangeville. My first couple of years of school were wonderful. I absolutely loved to learn and was continually pushed by my teachers to work hard and succeed.

In 2000, my dad found out he was being relocated to Yorba Linda, a city in Orange County, California, for his job. I don't remember much of this move, as I was only eight, but I know it was a really tough move for my parents. My entire extended family lived in Ontario (and still do to this day), and we were the first family members to move away.

Yorba Linda was a great place for me. There, I met three of the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. Caitlin, Keiko, and Shannon are girls that I met when I was eight years old, and sixteen years later, we're still talking about how we'll be bridesmaids in each others' weddings. They were my first glimpse into what friendship really was. At such a young age, we were able to build friendships that mattered and through that foundation, I've built so many other friendships, while still holding on to theirs.

I also discovered my love of dance in Yorba Linda. I started tapping and my instructor, Ryan, saw something in my abilities. After a year of tapping for him, he asked me to join a small competitive group of just five girls. Dance was everything. I ended up competing in jazz the following year and loved every second of it. In grade eight, I added lyrical and ballet to my competitive line-up. Tap, though, will always be my first true passion in life.

In 2003, my dad made the decision to switch companies. With this new job, we were told we were once again moving, this time back to Ontario, four hours away from our first home. This move was devastating for me. I couldn't imagine leaving these three girls that meant so much to me. As a going away trip, the girls and our families went on a trip to Bass Lake, a trip that would become an annual getaway.

Moving to LaSalle was hard. I was slow to make friends because I was missing my originals so much. Part way through grade six, a girl named Ronya befriended me. We quickly became best friends and I started to join her friend group. Not too long after, I had a group of eight girls who I loved. In grade 7, I met a girl named Jenn who would become my everything. She was someone I competed with for grades, travelled with, and shared my first teenage year with. Throughout the remainder of junior high, I had a large group of friends and people I truly cared about.

Looking back on my junior high experience, the memories are good, but my feelings about my own behavior are not. I was a part of the "popular" crowd and therefore, I wasn't the nicest person, particularly to my sister. It's a time that I look back on, and although I don't love my actions, I know that God used it to change my heart. By being able to reflect on the past, I'm now able to treat people with respect and kindness because I know what it's like to do the opposite.

At the start of 2006, my entire extended family caught the stomach flu. I caught it last, but never got better. I am someone who loved school more than anything, both because of my friends and my joy of learning, and I missed two weeks straight. Over the course of the next couple of days post-flu, I started having even more symptoms. The biggest one was my nausea - if you've ever been carsick, I felt like that 24/7. Others included a rapid heartbeat (sometimes up to 200 beats/minute), the feeling as if a 2000-pound person was sitting on my chest, uncontrollable shaking, the inability to control my own temperature, hair loss, and an erratic sleep schedule. All of these symptoms seemed very "textbook thyroid" to each doctor I saw, and yet, my bloodwork wasn't showing anything wrong. Finally, after five months, my bloodwork peaked, to the point where when I was on my grade eight trip, I had to warn my friends about thyroid storm. It's an incredibly scary thing to tell your fourteen year old friends that if I start having certain symptoms, I need to be rushed to the hospital so that I don't have a heart attack and die. Because my thyroid levels were so sporadic and rarely showed in bloodwork, the doctors couldn't put me on medication. They continued to look for other answers, but couldn't find any.

Then in August, we found out we were moving again, this time to San Jose, California.

To continue the story and learn about my move, health, high school years, and salvation, click here: My Story: Part II.
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