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Monday, December 22, 2008

There is a Huge Difference

between

"I am willing to go"

and

"I am going."

Friday, December 19, 2008

May It Be So!

"For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." -Ephesians 1:15-23


Praying for a spirit of wisdom and revelation - that my heart may be enlightened to the hope to which I have been called and the value of my inheritance in Christ so that by the power of the Holy Spirit (the same power that raised Christ from the dead!) my weak faith may be transformed into that of a strong believer who is willing to sacrifice everything for the God who loves me and who believes he will care for me in the process. May it be so!


"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be gory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and eve,r. Amen." -Ephesians 3:14-21


Oh, how badly I needed that "Bible break!" Now back to working on the paperwork for my house.....

I Wonder if Someone Will Get Fired

Matthew Broderick was just on Conan. He was promoting his new animated film Tale of Despereaux.

They showed a clip of the film, which M. Broderick set up by saying, "I'm the mouse with the really big ears." So the little tv popped up, the clip started and....THE MOUSE NEVER TALKED.

Not one. single. word.

There weren't really any other characters talking, either. The poor little mouse was standing in a gladiator-type ring and the crowd was cheering while this big cat came out to fight. The mouse stood there looking scared, there was a big production of the cat coming out of its barrel, and the clip was over.

The clip was followed by this awkward moment where MB kind of raised his hand up toward the monitor with a confused look on his face and said, "Wow. Didn't you love my vocal performance?" To which Conan gave an awkward chuckle and covered by saying, "Why yes, you were making great facial expressions the entire time."

I mean, really. Who picks those clips? And can they get fired for making a mistake like that?

It was awkward.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On Fathers and Husbands

"He's going to have to be willing to do....stuff...."

This is the conclusion I came to last week as certain events, combined with some thoughts from my sister, caused me to reflect on the necessary characteristics of my future bf/husband.

Let me walk you through my day.

The date was Wednesday, December 10th. I began the morning by taking my car in for an oil change. I was particularly excited for this oil change because it was the first one since I acquired Coby and I was looking forward to having the guys at the shop take his window guards off. I can't stand them. The guys at the shop told me that I could do it myself at home, and I believed them, so Coby left the shop with his window guards still attached.

On my way home, I stopped by Home Depot to buy light bulbs for the fourth time this month. The light over my landing had three bulbs burn out in early November and they were still in need of being replaced. I bought the wrong bulbs three times (don't ask) and, consequently, I spent over four weeks with naked, burnt-out bulbs hanging gloomily over a landing that was obnoxiously cluttered with the step-stool that I refused to put away because it was protecting the outside of the light fixture which was lying on the floor underneath it's belly.

So, in review, my tasks for the day were:
1) Get the oil changed (check).
2) Get the window guards off of Coby.
3) Change the light bulbs/reassemble the light fixture/put away the step-stool.

When I got home, I decided to tackle the window guards project first. About 20 minutes later, as I stood in my garage with one plastic guard (out of four) broken into over a dozen pieces and two cuts on my hand, looking at patches of black sticky goo that refused to come off of my dear, sweet Coby, I decided to quit. My fingers were sore and hot from trying to scrape the junk off with my fingernail while simultaneously blasting it with a blow dryer on high (the process that had been recommended to me) and it simply wasn't worth it. So I gave up. I decided Coby could deal with the trashy look of one missing window guard and my dad could clean up after me when I go home for Christmas.

On to the light bulbs.

I actually bought the right bulbs this time, so that was nice, considering I had already spent over $12 on bulbs that I have no use for.. Before long, I was standing on my step-stool trying to hold the heavy glass part of the fixture with one hand while screwing on the base with the other. I became increasingly frustrated as the entire hanging lamp simply turned along with the base instead of threading the ball onto the fixture. It became apparent that I needed: a) another set of hands or, b) somebody smarter than me. Unfortunately, I live alone so I had neither. I just kept turning and turning while my other post-workout arm began shaking from the weight of the fixture being held over my head. Eventually, the ball threaded onto the pole and, after only four short weeks, I had a light in my stairwell again.

Exhausted, frustrated and annoyed, I threw the old light bulbs away in my overflowing kitchen garbage and headed upstairs where I logged on to my computer and read this post by my sister, relating her experience of not wanting to put her license plates on her car because it was a man's job.

I gave up on the window guards because I knew that my dad would gladly take them off for me when I went home. And as I stood on my step-stool watching my light fixture spin 'round and 'round, I couldn't help but think that if my dad lived here, the day those lights blew he would have gone to the store, bought the right bulbs (the first time), fixed the light in a manner of minutes and been done with it. And the kitchen garbage! You would never find a garbage that full in my dad's house. He sees the problem of the nearly-full garbage can and he takes action because...that's what men do.

So, needless to say, Wednesday found me desperately missing my dad and/or wishing I had a man of my own around.

Not to cure loneliness because I am not lonely.
Not to battle discontentment because I am content.
Not to pacify a sense of being incomplete, because I feel whole.

I just wanted someone around to do a few things for me. Things that I am perfectly capable of doing for myself but, at the end of the day, they are men's jobs and I simply don't want to do them.

So, my future bf/husband is going to have to be willing to do...stuff. My father set the bar pretty high. His love language is definitely acts of service and he seems to find some of his greatest joy in serving his four women. He loves with his time, energy, knowledge and skill. I called him to ask if he would remove my window guards over the Christmas weekend and he actually sounded excited about it. And I can guarantee when he is done he will walk in the house with a proud smile on his face and tell me every detail about how he did it. In return, all he will ask for is a kiss on the cheek which I will gladly give him while feeling sad that this dear man lives so far away from me and being slightly disappointed that I haven't yet found one of my own.


So, in summary, I don't feel like I need a significant other. I just miss the sense of love that comes from being taken care of.

Also, I think my dad is pretty great.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chrsitmas Memories, #2

I remember the first Christmas in our new house. I hated the Christmas tree because: 1) it was artificial and, 2) we weren't allowed to hang any of our old ornaments on it. I was upset that we had been moved out of our childhood home and the new tree was just one more change that I decided to be mad about.

And I remember walking up the stairs on Thanksgiving day this year and seeing the tree for the first time this season; I remember admiring the beautiful work of art that is our family's Christmas tree. And I remember feeling relieved that something in Long Prairie still felt like home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Memories, #1

Every year, my extended family on my mom's side does a progressive dinner. We go to all of the houses of the aunts and uncles that live in Long Prairie, eat whatever course that house has been assigned and then open the gifts from the host family before moving to the next house. So, obviously, each child is most excited to open presents at their house since they typically have the most gifts from their parents (vs. the aunts and uncles).

There is one particular year where the range of my Christmas emotions stands out distinctly in my memory. I was in high school at the time, but I had not lost the great anticipatory excitement generated by the prolonged celebration that we call "progressive dinner." Our house is always the main meal (after appetizers, soup, and church), so my sisters and I basically waited the whole day to open our gifts.

So there we were, with the extended family gathered around the Christmas tree, and I could barely stand to wait any longer. All of the little kids were bustling about handing out gifts as quickly as their little feet could take them knowing that the sooner the gifts were passed the sooner the gift-opening frenzy could begin.

The gifts were disappearing from under the tree as separate piles began forming around the room. Each child beamed as they walked past their growing tower of gifts. The adults each held their 1-2 gifts on their lap, smiling contentedly as they watched the flurry of activity. My sisters, who had started with presents on their laps, were now stacking their gifts in neat piles around their feet in order to keep their view unobstructed. Before I knew it, the space under the tree which once held scores of gifts was now completely empty.

Unfortunately, so was my lap.

That's right. Not one. single. gift.

My eyes frantically searched my mother's face for any sign of an explanation. Is it possible that she could have forgotten to buy me one single gift? Me? Her sweet baby girl? Her very own flesh? Offspring of her womb? Could she possibly have removed me from all thought while on her Christmas-present-buying extravaganza?

As the children settled in beside their respective red and green towers and the busy bustling began to die down, it became more apparent that there was one extremely present-less individual in the room.

As everyone sat there enjoying the awkward tension of a forlorn, gift-less child, my sister calmly rose, walked over to the front closet, opened the door and exclaimed, "Oh look, Eva, there is a gift for you in here!"

In the front closet???

With my curiosity piqued, I joined my sister in front of the closet and, with a great deal of confusion, removed the wrapped gift from the top shelf.

"To: Eva
From: Mom & Dad"

While I was busy reading the label, Hannah was making her way to the music room where she called out, "Oh look, here's another one behind the piano."

Are you confused?

So was I.

Turns out my dear, sweet, loving "brother" Mark had been to our house the night before and had taken it upon himself to sort through the mass of presents under our tree, pick out all of my gifts and hide them around the house.

My sister returned to her seat and thus began the Great Christmas Present Hunt which will forever be remembered as one of my family's favorite Christmas memories.

By far the best joke that has ever been played on me.

Ever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reflections on the First Ski of the Season

1) I. Love. My. Sister.
2) Favorite thing I said today: "Do you have a stocking cap I can borrow? I used mine to make a human pinata costume."
3) Favorite thing Hannah said today:
H: "Do you know the guy's name from the Matrix?"
E: "Neo."
H: (with slumped shoulders and a look of disappointment) "Oh. I thought it was Larry Matrix."

Spiritual Chemotherapy

"Practicing a vice means being ruled by the power of self. A vice-ruled life is prone to chaotic outbursts of anger, selfishness, and destruction - the opposite of the orderly and disciplined life that God calls us to. Vice enthrones the self - 'I'll act however I want to act, making myself in my own image.' This life, as we'll see, is a self-defeating life. While the virtues bring spiritual health, the vices are a spiritual cancer, destroying us from within." - Gary Thomas, The Glorious Pursuit

An interesting thought after having watched my dad go through cancer treatment these last six months.

I am becoming more and more convinced that one of the biggest barriers I face in the process of spiritual formation is my own laziness. How easy it is to waste away the hours preoccupied by lesser things!

It is easy to not pursue the virtues of Christ.

Chemotherapy is not easy. As a matter of fact, it pretty much always sucks. Not only is the treatment designed to break down all of your body's defenses putting you in a state of complete vulnerability (there are all kinds of analgoies here!), but the side effects are miserable, too. There is not one single sane person in this world who would look forward to a chemo treatment.

It's. not. easy.

Yet I see patient after patient continuing to commit their time, money and attention to pursuing the self-inflicted torture with the hope that the temporary suffering will lead to a renewed level of health. An individual with a good prognosis who refuses the recommended treatment based solely on the fact that it might not feel good or that they don't have time will suffer a premature death and, in the end, may discover that their road was not exactly "easier" afterall.

Very few patients, after their initial diagnosis, choose to forego the treatment recommended by their doctors. (I realize there are some exceptions to this....all analogies break down at some point). Yes, chemo sucks, but their life depends on it.

Why, then, do I fight so hard against the disciplines recommended to treat my vices? Yes, it's not always easy, but my spiritual life depends on it.

What type of "spiritual chemotherapy" are you willing to endure to avoid succumbing to your vices?

Monday, December 8, 2008

30 days

I am officially done with fall quarter and I have 30 days until school starts again. I am looking forward to the time off, yet have a fairly overwhelming list of things to do during that time. Here are a few of the high points:

1) Buy skis.
2) Read the 17 books in my "to read" pile. Or at least make a dent.
3) Sleep for 8 hours straight at least once a week.
4) Clean the house/set a price/do the paperwork/de-clutter and move some stuff to storage in LP/get ready to sell.
5) Turn in the paperwork from my car accident in KY.
6) Continue to work 36 hours a week.
7) Start making good use of my ski pass. Ski once a week?
8) Celebrate Christmas.
9) Post Cote d'Ivoire and KY pictures on facebook.
10) Play Rockband.
11) See Triple Espresso.
12) Do all of my Christmas shopping.
13) Figure out training schedule for the GB 5K. Hit up the Healthy Dan 4-5x/wk.
14) Take the towels out of my dryer that have been in there for 15 days.
15) Do some (all?) of the prep work for my internship.
16) Make progress on the 21 page questionnaire for the Nurture Program.
17) Make cinnamon tortilla chips. At least once a week.

Although I have a lot of "tasks" to accomplish, I DO plan on playing hard.

But I think I will start tomorrow morning by sleeping in.....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Big Mistake

I love green olives.

I love them so much that I pile them onto my sandwiches in large quantities.

But those weren't green olives.

They were jalapenos.

.....feel the burn........

Friday, November 28, 2008

Year in Review

It has officially been one year since I (re)started blogging. I gave myself 23 days and apparently I liked it.

T13 favorite posts from the first year:

  1. A Prayer
  2. Most Days
  3. A Conversation
  4. I'm Not Getting Anything Done...
  5. A New Man in My Life
  6. Star Wars Haikus
  7. 3 am
  8. A Poem
  9. I Am Going to Seminary
  10. T7 Things I Love About Camp
  11. African Sun
  12. On Gaithers and Grandparents
  13. Of Mice and Men

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Proof of Life

A heaping pile of dirty laundry.
A counter hidden beneath soiled dishes.
A bathroom mirror clouded by water spots.
A doormat weighted down by dirt and sand.
A tube of toothpaste rolled tighter than a sleeping bag.
A trashcan filled to overflowing.
A spot on the carpet screaming to be cleaned.
A screen door waiting to be exchanged for glass.
A heating bill begging to be paid.

Burdensome housework?

Or proof of life?

I 'spose it depends on how thankful we are for each breath.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Broken

My computer screen.
My garage door (still).
The Church's system of denominational segregation.
The leaves under my feet.
Our part of the covenant, never His.
Friendships with two individuals whom I would still like to consider friends.
People who I insist on idolizing anyway.
Not a single one of his bones.
The "7" button on my phone.
The yoke of slavery.
My leg, wrist, and pinky finger at one time or another.
The tablets of stone.
So many bodies. And even more spirits.
His body, for me.
3 mirrors in 1 year.
Me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One of Those Weekends

I had a great weekend.

I got to spend time with some old friends. I especially enjoyed my time with one particular person who is "that friend" to me. She is that friend who I have more history with than any other person (with the exception of my sisters). That friend who saved the emails I sent her when we were sophomores in high school. That friend who can make me laugh so hard at inappropriate times (like, say, during a wedding) that I consider leaving the room. That friend who stays up late into the night sharing some of the deepest parts of herself with me. That friend who "gets me" and with whom there are no pretensions. That friend with whom I can clarify potentially hurtful misunderstandings while standing in a buffet line. That friend who understands my quirky humor and genuinely thinks it is funny. That friend who can read the non-verbals in my electronic communication. That friend who I know will be dear to me for as long as I live.

I love old friendships.

I also got to spend time with a friend who seems to become dearer and dearer to me on a daily basis. One of those friends who I suddenly realize that somewhere, somehow, over the last two years has become so precious to me that it pains me to think of a day when I might have to "do life" without her daily presence. One of those friends with whom the well of "things to talk about" never runs dry. One who gives me a knowing look when someone tells me I am having a good hair day and I suddenly realize that she knows me. One with whom I can lay in bed and giggle like a third grader over something as simple as a slanted mattress. One who humors me by spending time with people she barely knows or has never met simply because she is a part of my life and they are, too.

I love blossoming friendships.

I also had the blessed opportunity to lay some further foundations with new individuals that I am excited to get to know. Fun, interesting people like a French-speaking opera singer who learned how to ski in the Colorado mountains, learned how to surf in the Pacific Ocean and who lived and studied in Vienna (which is NOT the city with the water-streets, just FYI). She loves Jesus, loves kids, gets excited about Africa and gives good hugs.

I love new friendships.


This last year has been filled with moments of intense loneliness and overwhelmingly satisfying blessing.
I learn deep truths about God's goodness and faithfulness to me through both.
He gives and takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bridge

Every time I drive over it, I think about what it would feel like to fall and it makes me sick to my stomach.

Cornfused

I think my professor just said that we are chunks of hardened lava waiting to be "gobbled up" by God.

But I'm pretty sure that God has to be molten.
(Or was he just saying something about Moltmann?)

The Trinity makes my head hurt and I need to sleep.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eventful Day

The "productive" part of my day is drawing to a close as I am about to leave my house to go spend the afternoon/evening with two of my favorite Rochestarians.

I was feeling momentarily frustrated because my one goal for today was to scan through all of my sources and figure out what the thesis of my contextual theology paper was going to be. After 5 hours at Panera, I still have no direction (although I do have 10 untouched sources, so there is still hope that something will pique my interest....). I was hoping to have more "paper momentum" by the end of the day than I am currently experiencing, so that is frustrating.

However, upon further review, I must admit that I did not have a fruitless day.

Top 3 Events of the Day:

1) I got my garage door fixed. This may not sound like that great of an accomplishment seeing how it only required me to make a phone call and be home at a certain time, but a broken garage door is the kind of thing that I can leave unaddressed for LONG periods of time (along with cracked computer screens, flip phones that are broken in half and held together with a hair binder, backpacks with holes in the bottom big enough for books to fall out of, etc.) so the fact that I got it fixed six days after it happened is fairly impressive (if I don't say so myself).

2) My dad's PET scan results came back with NO sign of cancer in his lymph system. This required absolutely no effort on my part whatsoever, so I can't call it an "accomplishment," but it was a significant enough event that I could have accomlished nothing else the entire day and it still would have been a good day. Bone marrow biopsy is next week. Praying for good results there, too!

3) I contacted the person I needed to contact to get direction on how to go about selling my house. I am meeting with her in the morning to pick up the first set of paperwork that I need to fill out!

A functional garage door...a cancer free dad...movement forward in the house dilemma...and it's not even 4:00.

I'd call that an eventful day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Canyon of Hope

I enjoyed being out of school and having time to post.

And I enjoyed being in the early part of the quarter when I had the illusion of having time to post because nothing is due.

I enjoyed it a lot.

Now the conundrum I face is that the further I get into the quarter, the more thoughts I have to write and the less time I have to write them. So I have approximately 9 posts floating around in my head (and by "approximately" I mean "exactly"), only two of which will probably ever get written and none of which will get written today.

But here are a few quick thoughts from my day yesterday, in order of increasing significance to me (i.e. if this post is too long for you, just read #6 because that is the one main idea that prompted me to write it in the first place):

1) Craziest book title I have seen in a long time: "How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You're Left Behind."

2) On Saturday, Lindsay and I drove by a gas station and I commented, "Do you think we'll see gas get down in the "ones" again?" I saw it last night. $1.99 at the Phillips station on 35W and E2. Crazy.

3) I asked one of my classmates last night what movie he had done for our "Theology and Film" paper. He did The Matrix. This is one of the two films I repeatedly mentioned as obvious examples of movies I would never want to do for this assignment because of their predictability. He went on to explain that the reason he chose it was because he had heard at least seven sermons on it and he knew he could whip out the paper without even watching the movie again. He then said, and I quote, "I just want the degree that says I'm a spiritual leader, I don't actually want to learn anything."

About 90 seconds later I discovered that he is an open theist and, in his words, "I quote Boyd more than I quote the Bible."

After this brief conversation, I came to the conclusion that on the issues of "Why I am in seminary" and "What I believe about God's sovereignty and foreknowledge" we are polar opposites. Unfortunately, I was unable to discover one single area where we did agree.

4) The Trinity messes with my head. Seriously. Typically, I don't mind when something messes with my head. Sometimes I even enjoy it. But as I dig deeper into this and realize how core the Trinitarian doctrine is to everything I believe and how thoroughly the Trinity affects every. single. part. of the Christian life down to our very identity as human beings, all of the sudden my head doesn't like feeling messed with any more.

5) On Saturday night, as I sat in Lindsay's car in my driveway after we returned home from a powerful night at the "Step into Africa: Experience AIDS" exhibit in Edina, I told her that I thought it might do me some good to sleep on my floor for a while. Right beside my bed. I think the thought may have been sparked by the rice and beans dinner that they served us at the banquet. One simple comment was made about how we were going to be eating similar fare to what a majority of the world eats and then the show moved on. No comments about the "sacrifice" we were making. No apologies. No refund. Just rice and beans.

Very cool.

(Have I told you lately that I have a deep respect for World Vision? Because I do.)

Although I have been making a bigger deal about the bed than it actually is, I keep bringing it up in conversation because, for me, it symbolizes all of the silly things I am clinging to so tightly right now. Things that are making it difficult to make big decisions despite the fact that they are absolutely meaningless and bear no weight in my decisions whatsoever. So I had the thought that it would do me good to not sleep in my bed for a while.

15 minutes later I was curled up under my covers falling asleep.

The next morning, I went to church and heard a sermon that got me thinking about all of the things I love about my dad (there IS a connection here....keep reading....). I actually had tears running down my cheeks during the benediciton because I tuned out of the prayer, started thinking about everything I love about my father, and it moved me to tears. So I decided to write him an email that afternoon and share those thoughts with him.

Except I never wrote it.

So here is what these two stories taught me as I thought about my weekend: It is NOT the thought that counts. If I do not hold my thoughts with enough conviction/motivation/belief to act on them, my life will not be changed and others will not be blessed through me.

6) I got a free Brian Bates CD this weekend (he sang at the thing Linds and I went to Sat night) and I discovered a song that speaks more clearly to where I feel I am at right now than anything I have heard recently. Here are the lyrics:

****************
How do you choose a spark over a flame?
When the flame has kept you warm
And the spark may not be safe
But how do you stop a heart from wanting to change?
To follow when the wind calls you by name
The lull of the familiar has held me here too long
So I'm gathering my strength and moving on

Chorus:
The canyon between
Here and where you're calling me
Seems so wide, looks so deep
But I know that I can't stay
To become all that I can be
The canyon's wide, but hope runs deep tonight

How do you measure hope filling a heart?
When it overwhelms the fear
And illuminates the dark
Into the light of day, now I believe
A better way is waiting there for me
Memories familiar are slowly growing dim
And I don't need to turn around again

*****************

Here's what Brian said about the song:
"When writing for this CD, God was calling me out of my comfort zone to a new place. I was willing, but not quite ready for the big leap yet. So if you are contemplating a similar move, this one's for you. Think of "Canyon" as your 'packing-your-bags' song."



So, those are my thoughts from yesterday.

It was a good day.


In addition, I have one (and only one) political stance to share with you today:
I voted and you should, too.


Now if you'll excuse me, I am working tonight, so I need to go claim a spot on the floor for my nap.....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Everybody Needs a Goal.

Mine is to not turn my heat on until Nov 1st.

9 days and counting (on curled up, shivering fingers)!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

T5 Signs that "Life" has Officially Caught Up With Me....

....or that it caught up a long time ago and has left me reeling in its dust.

5) I have been living out of my suitcase (and travel toiletry bag) for the last 8 days despite the fact that I have not traveled anywhere in the last 8 days.
4) My "list of things to do when you get home" which I made on the plane on my way home from Cote d'Ivoire is still double digits long.
3) The mail at the bottom of my "unopened mail" pile is postmarked October 8th.
2) I had pancakes for breakfast. The milk that I used to make the batter expired on Oct 4th. It was not curdled, but it also no longer smelled like milk.
1) There is officially no toilet paper in my house.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Professional Restrictions

I was in a patient's room this evening and he was watching some sort of report on Palin.

He started shaking his head and said, "There simply isn't any reason to bring a handicapped child into this world. She knew that baby had Down's. With the technology we have today, there is no way to justify ignoring the information you are given about your child's condition."

For the sake of keeping my job, I turned and walked out of the room without saying a word and I don't plan on going back in there (don't worry I'm turning over his care at 2300...not because I am so angry....my assignment got switched because of staffing needs).

It was probably rude to just abruptly leave the room, but at the moment it seemed a lot less rude than anything I would have said if I had stayed.

I've always considered myself a fairly professional nurse.

Turns out there are some things that override my professionalism.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A New Man in My Life

I got a new car on Wednesday which means I had to say goodbye to my old one. As excited as I am about this new chapter in my life, I was genuinely saddened to have to say goodbye to Luie. So I decided he deserved a bit of a tribute here on my blog. Am I a ridiculously over-sentimental person who is too nostalgic for my own good? No doubt. Always have been. I'm just not going to apologize for it anymore. So this is for you, Luie....

Brought into this world in '96.


Brought into my life May 2004.


Laid to rest October 15, 2008.
192,917 miles, 2 rust spots, 1 significant dent and thousands of memories later.


Luie,

You will always be my "faithful first car" - not very flashy, but loyal to the core, just how I like 'em.

I was embarrassed for your sake when Julie christened you, but you grabbed hold of the name and developed it into a personality that suited you perfectly.

We have run into a cop or two (or four) during the course of our many years together, but we have never received more than a stern verbal reprimand. I think it's because you're so cute.

You were a safe haven of solitude when I felt crowded by the close confines of college.

Your tea-stained carpets and coffee-crusted seats were a constant reminder that I am not nearly as "put together" as I appear to be sometimes.

You lent a voice to some of the best and worst music mixes I have ever made.

You provided a quiet, comfortable environment on the way home from Pennsylvania, allowing me the joy of listening for hours as Dad answered all of my questions about his childhood, the fire, his college years, dating Mom, his view of God, finances, and the things he loves about each of us girls. Hands down one of the Top 5 most significant/meaningful conversation I have ever had (or ever will have) in my life.

You have been witness to some of my deepest laughs and harshest tears.

For no apparent reason, you occasionally refused to play burnt CDs. It's the one quirk that I never quite figured out and I found it irritating enough that it brought curses to my lips on a couple of occasions.

Your front passenger seat accepted an entire box of used Kleenexes as I screamed out my confusion and anger on a cold February afternoon in '06.

You gave people a couple of "lovetaps" here and there (and by "here" I mean "35W N by CR E" and by "there" I mean "downtown St. Paul") but nothing significant enough to cause damage and for that I thank you.

Your stability and quick response to my direction kept us safe when I insisted on making long roadtrips during every major storm in the winter of '07-'08.

I rarely allowed others to drive you, knowing how gently your heart needed to be handled (and by "heart," I mean "engine"). You had too many quirks to be a community car. But Rach was in need and I was in Honduras, so she spent a week with you. I still can't figure out what you were doing when you began to roll down the hill backwards, heading toward another car. You gave Rach and Chinwe quite the scare. You little punk.

It is within the quiet confines of your cab that some of my most passionate prayers have been prayed (and whispered, and cried, and laughed, and screamed).

You provided a quick getaway from the "ham convention" in Ohio and then tolerated the endless string of jokes that Slater, Chryss and I made for the 10 hours that followed.

You have taken me all over the state (and country) to see the people I love and you have carried me home in patient silence as my bittersweet tears wondered why loving people so deeply has to hurt so much sometimes.

For over a year now, your "service engine soon" light has cast a gentle orange glow into the cab, a daily reminder of the grace I experienced each time your engine started (also served as a good reminder that I needed a new car).

The fading light and ensuing darkness that has been creeping across your instrument panel has foreshadowed your slow, quiet, uncomplaining death. It has also made it increasingly dangerous to drive at night as I can't see how fast I am going.

Rest well, my sweet Luie. Know that you will be missed. You were so good to me for so many years. I will always remember you fondly.

**************
Welcome to the family, Coby Vergilius Balto!!


I haven't known you long enough to develop much trust,
but I sure do think you're cute.


As long as you don't mind that I talk to myself constantly and sing at the top of my lungs, we should get along just fine.


I look forward to many good years together!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Immersion Therapy - Not a Fan

I was orienting to the resource RN role on Wednesday night which means I didn't actually have a patient assignment. I appreciated the timing of this because I was still a little shook up after my code Wednesday morning, especially after I returned to work and discovered that he did not survive.

I always felt like if one of my patients was going to code, I would at least have some clue that it was coming. SOME clue. Any. But this guy left me feeling like I had gotten hit by a semi. He was supposed to go home in the morning and I had already taped report saying that the nurse referral was done and everything was set up for him to leave at 9:30. I went in and saw him shortly before 6, gave him his heparin shot, asked him if he had peed (I was concerned that he was retaining urine and he had been a stinker about not saving his urine to be measured) and he hadn't, so I told him I was going to call the cath team to have them come scan his bladder. He told me that was fine.

I went out and paged the cath team, got meds out of Pyxis for another patient and was headed into her room when his call light went on. I was ever so slightly annoyed because I had just been in there less than 10 minutes ago. The other nurse I was working with popped her head in to see what he needed and came right back out telling me I needed to get in there right away. He was vomiting copius amounts of blood and by the time I got over to his room he was already unresponsive although blood continued to spout out of his mouth and nose in reflexive waves. From that point on, everything was a bit of a whirlwind, but the skinny of it is that the code team came, got a rhythm back and took him up to the ICU where, apparently, they withdrew support a couple of hours later. I never did hear if they know what happened. My best guess is esophageal or gastric varices (essentially, blood vessels in the GI tract that burst and cause bleeding that results in a medical emergency). But I don't really know.

Needless to say, I was glad to not be on the floor Wednesday night. I was back last night and had an awesome assignment on a general surgery floor. All of my patients were 7-8 days post-op (3 of them had had Whipples, so they stay for quite a while) and none of whom were having any complications. That was nice. I needed stable patients.

I came in tonight for my fourth in a row. I have not yet been scheduled for four in a row and I am not sure why it happened like this for this week. It is a slight consolation that I have the next 5 days off, but still, I prefer a little more of a subtle ebb and flow to my work schedule, not long stretches of being consumed by work followed by periods of time where I forget that I have a job.

Anyway, back to tonight. I came in for my fourth in a row feeling a little weary but energized by the thought of going to LaCrosse to see my family tomorrow. I also woke up an hour before my alarm this afternoon and used the extra time to have an extended time in the Word and in prayer which was an absolutely wonderful way to start my day.

Then I came to work and started looking up my assignment.

Bleeders.

All 3 of my patients are bleeders.

One has an intractable nosebleed (we're not talking about the "pinch it for 10 minutes until the dripping stops" kind of nosebleed - we're talking about the "put a device up your nose that has two 15cc balloons filled with saline to provide constant pressure, check your hemoglobin every 6 hours and have ENT come by 4 times a day to help suck the clots out of your throat" kind of nosebleed). Another has bright red blood in her stool which they think is from a bout of ischemic colitis and the third has rectal bleeding from an unidentified source (after the 8 tests and procedures that have all come back unremarkable) although the top differential at the moment is rectal varices.

And so begins my night of hypervigilance. It is probably good immersion therapy for me - a reminder that more often than not, we, as a medical team, are aware of the conditions people are facing and are able to provide appropriate and effective treatment.

I will be able to say that with a much more relaxed confidence when the night is over and everyone is still alive.

For now, I am still having a visceral reaction every time I walk into my patients' rooms, praying that I will not find the horrific scene that awaited me on Wednesday morning.

It has been over 15 minutes since I last rounded. Gotta go....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

That. Sucked.

I just had my first patient code.

Now I am just sitting here bawling.

I guess I thought I had more to say than that. But I don't.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One More Thing

Oh, I forgot one thing. The term "pompous ass" was used twice in my class last night. Once by a classmate and once by the professor. They were both referring to what a lot of people become after going through serminary. I am glad I go to a seminary where things like that can be said in the classroom.

Weekend Update

I had a wonderful weekend.

Hannah introduced me to the joys of electric blankets. I'm a fan.

I saw a lot of very dear friends who fill my heart with gladness when I am with them and tear it to shreds when it comes time to part ways. Self-inflicted torture? Potentially. But totally worth it for every beautiful moment in their presence.

Most of my friend-encounters were planned. Running into Stacey at church and then going to the same meeting afterward was not planned. By FAR the best surprise of the weekend. LOVE that girl.

Oh, one of the other unplanned encounters was running into my very first camp counselor. Totally random. Totally fun.

I woke up Saturday morning with the worst neck pain I have EVER had. Ever. And it has been bad before. I cried three times before I even got to Caribou for my morning coffee date. I am not a wimp. As a matter of fact, I have a fairly high pain tolerance. But it was BAD. This has been happening on and off since February and it seems to be getting more frequent and more intense. I just want it to go away. I don't want to go to the doctor and have muscle-relaxants thrown at me. I don't want to pay for regular massages. I don't want to learn to empathize with people who suffer from chronic pain. I don't want to listen to my body telling me to slow down and take care of it. I just want it to go away.

Bethlehem Baptist on Saturday night, Sovereign Grace on Sunday morning, Corner Church on Sunday night. I love going to church in general and I love going to these three churches in particular. Needless to say, it was a good church weekend.

Best exchange of the weekend: The conclusion to my story: "So there I was, stuck in an elevator with this creepy boy who was professing his love for me and I had no idea what to do." My friend's response: "Was he mentally retarded?" The implication there is fairly clear. In her defense, she DID make a disclaimer before she asked the question, it DID make sense in the context of how I told the story and it wasn't insulting to me in the least (although I did feign my heart's torturous death by falling back in my chair and stabbing my chest repeatedly with an invisible knife. I did this mostly to hide how hard I was laughing). It was hilarious.

Question posed in class: "But what would it LOOK like if someone was not attending to the full scope of the revelation of God? How do you know what you don't know?" Classmate's response: "I can give an example. It would be like a Calvinist that only reads the parts of Scripture that they want to read and becomes a five-point TULIP Calvinist. They pick and choose what they read instead of attending to the whole of Scripture." This is the third time in two class periods that this individual has said something unabashedly negative about Calvinism when that particular topic was not even CLOSE to what we were actually talking about. It seems to be his "thing." That's all I am going to say about that for now.

I got to listen to some of the Vikings game on the radio while I drove back from school last night. It was a VERY exciting game and I LOVE football, so that was fun. Except for the part where I lost my reception for the last 40 seconds when the Vikes were making a drive with a tie game, a pass interference penalty put them in field goal range and Longwell kicked the game-winning field goal. I missed that part. Brutal.

Lots of big decisions to make. Lots of exciting decisions to make. Lots of big, exciting decisions to make. Lots of praying to do.

All-time best part of the weekend: Receiving the grace that allows me to persevere in the faith and being continually reminded of the imputed righteousness that I have received through Christ's atoning work on the cross. Doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Conversation

At the Desiring God conference this past weekend, I ran into an acquaintance of mine and had this very brief conversation (if you can even call it a 'conversation'):

Me: Good morning! How are you doing?
Vaughn: Better than I deserve.

And with that brief statement, my brother in Christ spoke the Gospel to me in a way that struck me as so profound, I am still thinking about it days later.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Highlight/Lowlight

My sister sometimes plays a "game" where, before you go to bed, you say your highlight and lowlight from the day. Here are mine, in the form of Top 5 lists because...that's what I do.

T5 Lowlights:
5) Went to the dentist. Always a lowlight.
4) Found out I have another cavity. Turns out my underbite causes my teeth to wear in places that teeth don't normally wear and it is causing problems. Also, he thinks I grind my teeth which is causing other problems. So I go back next week for a filling and a fitting for a bite guard. Oh joy.
3) Planned on getting a lot of homework done this afternoon but ended up talking to Linds and Rach for two hours, leaving several things on my to-do list untouched.
2) Took another malaria pill which probably means several more nights of restless sleep and crazy, crazy, CRAZY dreams/nightmares.
1) My car broke down. Again. My goal was to have a new one by the end of October, with October 15th being a possible date-of-purchase, so I was really, really hoping I could make it until then. No such luck.

T5 Highlights:
5) Talked to Rach and Linds for 2 hours. I feel like I have hardly seen them since mid-August, so it was good to spend some time with them.
4) Lindsay is going to be in Nashville for the next 6 days and is graciously allowing me to borrow her car while she is gone. Very convenient timing if you ask me. Also, the guy who fixed my car in June is going to try to take a look at it in the morning. I have high hopes that it is the exact same problem and that it will be a quick fix. Please, please, please let it be a quick fix.
3) Went geo-caching for the first time. It was fun.
2) Talked to Jules tonight. Man, I love that girl.
1) Listened to the song "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" from Sovereign Grace appx 14 times and sat in absolute awe of God's saving grace and the work that Christ did on the cross to save me. Really, it doesn't get much better than that.

Zing!

As I drove home from school tonight, I felt myself driven into silence. I get this feeling occasionally, where it is not enough to just turn the music down, it must be off. Even the faintest whisper of noise is irritating to my ears. It typically happens when I am feeling particularly contemplative and my head is so full of thoughts that I simply can not handle one more decibel of input.

So I turned the music off and I thought.

One of tonight's thought topics was relationships, and as I thought through specific relationships, I began to think this (literally, word for word):

"I thought I would have heard from you by now. Maybe we have different definitions of what it means to be in relationship. I feel like I have expressed what my expectations are, but it often seems like you could care less and sometimes it makes me wonder if you are worth the effort."

I was not feeling devastated, but it hurt just enough that I felt the potential for bitterness to take root.

So I prayed.

I told Jesus all about it. Then I asked him what he thought about what I had told him. And you know what he said? He said,

"I thought I would have heard from you by now. Maybe we have different definitions of what it means to be in relationship. I feel like I have expressed what my expectations are, but it often seems like you could care less and sometimes it makes me wonder if you are worth the effort. And I have decided that you are."

Oh, sweet Savior, thank you for not holding me to my own standards. I will rest in your mercy once again tonight and wake to new mercies in the morning. I am humbled by your goodness to me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

African Sun

Oh, African sun! You shine with splendor
as your brilliant beams
beckon souls who span oceans
to behold your beauty.

Oh, African sun! You glisten in beads of sweat
gliding down the backs of half-naked children
grinning and giggling
in the light of your gentle glow.

Oh, African sun! You hide your face
as rain bounces off metal overhangs
mingling with tears on the broken face
of a mother who holds her lifeless child.

Oh, African sun! Hope is born anew
as your light reappears, drying the earth
that has stained my feet red
as I trod the welcoming paths of your villages.

Oh, African sun! Your rays rest gently
on a fading horizon that holds my heart captive.
My eyes close tight against your absence
praying for the morning when you wake me again.

Oh, African sun! You have ruined me for life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Worship. More Tears.

Sometimes, when I am participating in corporate worship, I cry because the truth of what I am singing resonates so deeply with how I feel that I become overwhelmed with the beauty of that truth and it triggers my tear reflex.

Sometimes, when I am participating in corporate worship, I cry because the truth of what I am singing stands in such opposition to how I feel that I become overwhelmed with the beauty of realizing that what I am singing is still truth regardless of how I feel which also triggers my tear reflex.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Last Lecture

I read "The Last Lecture" at the Brussels airport and finished it on the plane between Brussels and Chicago.

Background: Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the deadliest form of cancer, in the fall of 2006. After an extensive surgery and some tough chemotherapy, the disease was kept at bay for nearly a year. In August 2007, a scan showed that the cancer had metastasized to his liver and they began palliative chemo which basically means they were trying to "buy time." In September, he delivered a lecture titled "The Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon, where he had been a professor for many years. The contents of that lecture were than turned into a book. Randy passed away this summer.

I heard about the book through my sister and I checked it out of the library and took it to Cote d'Ivoire as reading material. I read it on the way home and I cried about every 5th page or so. Maybe a little more frequently than that.

Now, I must admit, I did have a few things working against me:

  1. I was physically exhausted. At that point, I had already missed a night of sleep and was still 14 hours away from home,
  2. My heart was tender and my emotions were slightly raw after my experiences in Cote d'Ivoire,
  3. I am a fairly emotional person with a strong "tear reflex" in the first place,
  4. I am a sucker for powerful stories like his, and
  5. My dad has cancer.

I liked a lot of his thoughts. Let me share a few (or many....)

  • Randy made his kids ask full sentence questions. No one-word questions like "Why?" They could ask why, they just had to ask in a complete sentence. I think I will encourage that in my house.
  • Randy said he won the parent lottery. I feel like that quite often.
  • Advice from his dad: "Just because you're in the driver's seat doesn't mean you have to run people over."
  • His mom sounds funny. A story: "When I was studying for my PhD, I took something called 'the theory qualifier,' which I can now definitely say was the second worst thing in my life after chemotherapy. When I complained to my mother about how hard and awful the test was, she leaned over, patted me on the arm and said, 'We know just how you feel, honey. And remember, when your father was your age, he was fighting the Germans.' After I got my PhD, my mother took great relish in introducing me by saying, 'This is my son. He's a doctor, but not the kind who helps people.'"
  • On feedback: "When you're screwing up and no one says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you." Sometimes I really struggle with taking feedback personally. A perspective change would help. If someone is giving you honest feedback, chances are they think you are capable of responding to that feedback. They still have hope for you.
  • "I found the best way to bag stuffed animals [at the fair] is without the pressure of a family audience. I also didn't want anyone to know just how long it took me to be successful. Tenacity is a virtue, but it's not always crucial for everyone to observe how hard you work at something."
  • Randy has made a habit out of winning stuffed animals at amusement parks. He brought his collection out on stage and told people that anyone who wanted one could come and get it at the end of his lecture, first come, first serve. A girl with cancer took the giant elephant. "I love the symbolism of that," he says. "She got the elephant in the room."
  • This made me laugh: "Two decades later, when I got my PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon, I thought that made me infinitely qualified to do anything, so I dashed off my letters of application to Walt Disney Imagineering. And the sent me some of the nicest go-to-hell letters I'd ever received."
  • On the day before his terminal diagnosis, he took his wife to a water park. He says, "Leaving the doctor's office, I thought about what I'd said to Jai in the water park in the afterglow of the speed slide. 'Even if the scan results are bad tomorrow,' I had told her, 'I just want you to know that it feels great to be alive, and to be here today, alive with you. Whatever news we get about the scans, I'm not going to die when we hear it. I won't die the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, well this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I'm enjoying it.' I thought about that, and about Jai's smile. I knew then. That's the way the rest of my life would need to be lived." I love the directness and honesty of his words. I am going to a conference this weekend about the power of words and the wonder of God and I am VERY excited. We misuse words so often and we also fail to take advantage of the good we can do with them. I love what he did with them here.
  • "My parents raised me to recognize that automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status. And so I told Jai we didn't need to do cosmetic repairs. We'd just live with the dents and gashes...if your trashcan or wheelbarrow has a dent in it, you don't buy a new one. Maybe that's because we don't use trashcans and wheelbarrows to communicate our social status or identity to others. For Jai and me, our dented cars became a statement in our marriage. Not everything needs to be fixed." Amen, brother!
  • To an employee: "I know you're smart. But everyone here is smart. Smart isn't enough. The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone else feel happy to be here." Sometimes I feel like I spent so much of my life trying to be smart enough that I missed out on some crucial personality formation. I think I have made up a lot of ground over the last few years, but it was still a good reminder to try to spend less time learning about things and more time learning about people.
  • Advice he received from Jon Snoddy: "If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you. When you're frustrated with people, when they've made you angry, it just may be because you haven't given them enough time. Sometimes this takes great patience - even years. But in the end, people will show you their good side. Almost everybody has a good side. Just keep waiting. It will come out." This encouraged me to have patience and grace in my friendships. So often when people aren't exactly who I want them to be at the time that I want them to be that, I am so tempted to just call it quits, not put forth the effort for the friendship. Between some of his comments about feedback and this quip about patience, I realized I need to develop more of an eye for the potential within people and nurture open, honest communication within those friendships that would enable me to help empower them to develop that potential. In return, I would hope that my friends would have grace and patience with my abundant flaws, would feel safe giving me feedback and, by doing so, would play a part in forming me into a better person than I am now.
  • "When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, it's really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do." Ouch.
  • A cliche (which I have never heard!): "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" A reminder to not focus on the little issues and, by doing so, lose sight of the big ones.
  • "If you can find your footing between two cultures, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds." Interesting thought as I came home from Africa...part of my fear in going is not fitting into that culture but no longer fitting into my own, either. Maybe there is a way to have the best of both worlds.
  • "When we're connected to others, we become better people." I think this is true. Now if only I could get over my fear of being connected to others...
  • Some of the best care-giving advice comes from flight attendants: "Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." I'm a caregiver by nature AND profession. This is good advice which I rarely heed.

That's all. Those aren't necessarily all parts that made me cry. I would mostly tear up because he has such a powerful way of communicating and his love for his wife and children was so clear and so raw.

In case you are wondering, I recommend the book. You can also watch the lecture online, although the book seems to expand a lot more on some of his ideas.

The Only Airplane Magazine Article I Have Ever Read

I don't typically read the magazines that they stash in the seat pockets on airplanes. But as I sat on the jetway in Brussels waiting for "go time," I was reading Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" (more to come on that soon) and I began to cry so hard that I was looking for something...anything...to distract my mind long enough to compose myself. I couldn't unbuckle my seatbelt to grab a different book from my bag, so I grabbed the Americanway magazine instead.

I found an article about facebook. It was a wonderfully satirical article which had me chuckling out loud at points as I continued to wipe the tears and snot off of my face. The poor lady sitting next to me was probably wondering how on earth she was going to make it through the 9 hour flight with this mess of a girl sitting next to her.

Unfortunately, the section that I am going to share with you is really the only part of the whole article that wasn't funny. But it is the part that I found the most intriguing.

"Whereas previous ages were marked by the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel, the milestone for the current age is our constant availability and instant intimacy. The past, present and future fuse into one ever-expanding universe of friends.
Six degrees of separation? Forget it. Now, there are zero degrees of separation. It is as if we are all living in our own, and each other's, personal memoir - except this memoir unfolds in real time and is not edited to keep out the boring parts.
And there are boring parts.
Lisa Banalitino [not her real name] is clipping her toenails.
Sidney Nothingtodo [not his real name] is about to mow the lawn.
Pat Sleepinstein [not his real name] is changing the sheets."


The magazine-reading-endeavor proved futile as this was the only worthwhile article and, after I finished it, I returned to "The Last Lecture," making it through approximately 3.5 pages with dry eyes.

More on that tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To the Little Girl Who Sat on My Lap in Church

You march up the center aisle with a purpose
and round the front corner of the congregation.
You capture my attention with your beautiful brown eyes
as you swim over to me in your lavender dress.

I move my purse from beside me
and before I have time to wonder if you'll understand
your sticky hand is in my lap,
your warm body pressed up against mine.

As the balafons begin to play
your body begins to pulse in perfect rhythm.
You grab my hand, eager to teach your new friend
How to hear the heartbeat of Africa.

As the congregation sits in stillness, you dance without inhibitions.
Grasping my fingers tightly, you guide my arm as it conducts your dance.
No mother nearby tries to suppress the joy of your childhood.
No father tries to rob The Visitor of this precious memory.

The choir quiets and the music releases its grip on you.
You body is now sprawled over my lap in a curious sort of backbend.
Your arms stretch along my leg and my side
Bringing our bodies into as much contact as possible.

Your tiny hands hold my wrist high above your face.
You discover the mystery of indiglo
and quickly become enamored by my watch.
I look on in amusement as both of your faces light up simultaneously.

Finally you are sitting on my lap
taking care to point out every mole and freckle on my body.
Perhaps you are counting the ways that we are alike.
Please don't forget my smile and my heart.

My eyes stretch to linger on your smile as we drive away.
Your scent drifts up from my clothes, filling my lungs,
a delicate mixture of sweat and love.
For the first time since I arrived, I smell like Africa.




Monday, September 22, 2008

Humorous Inconsistencies and the Pervasion of the Trinity

School is starting again and I am quite thoroughly excited.

I read a book today called "Evangelism Outside the Box: New Ways to Help People Experience the Good News" by Rick Richardson. The basic premise of the book is that evangelistic methods that appealed to modern mindsets no longer work in our postmodern world. I had quite a few thoughts in response to that particular issue and I could (and might) write a blogpost about the fine line between translating the Gospel to the culture around us and accommodating the Gospel to the culture.

But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about two sentences tucked away in the middle of the book in a section discussing how to meet "felt needs." The sentences read as follows:

"Postmoderns have one felt need that rises above all the other needs. Postmoderns need belonging and relationship and community."

No lie.

That's exactly what it says.

One felt need. Belonging. Oh, and relationship. Um...and....community, too.

I realize the obvious rebuttal is to say that the author is using the rhetoric of repetition to make his point and that those really only comprise one need, but I disagree. Those three things are different. Related, but different. You can belong to something without having relationships. Your life can be full of relationships but void of community. My life right now is a perfect example. My need for relationships is being met. My need for community is not.


Maybe this dear brother of mine was simply trying to incorporate a mysterious trinitarian concept into his new methods of evangelism. Maybe he was trying to express how deeply the idea of "three-in-one" affects all aspects of the Christian faith. Maybe there is a truth to be found about how we belong to God's family through our relationship with Christ which is cultivated in a Spirit-led community.

Or maybe the second statement is simply inconsistent with the first.



Did I find the inconsistency funny? Yes.

Is this whole post one big sarcastic jab? Most definitely.

Am I just being overly censorious? I hope not.


I mean, if there's one thing I don't want to be, it's critical and judgmental and captious.

Two Things I Wish I Could Change Right This Instant

1) My body has left Africa behind.

2) My stomach has not.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm not getting anything done....

...because I can't stop staring at her.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Trip to Torogo

I've got the best seat in the house.
An unobstructed view of the scenes unfolding before me
As long as I choose to keep my eyes open.

Lanes are marked by rows of children
Risking the dangers of rush hour traffic
In the hopes that you might want to buy a map of the country on your way into work today.

Women's heads are piled high
A fierce competition with the trucks
To see who can be the most gracefully top-heavy.

I listen attentively
As you tell me about your life
And your experiences on the field.

You found out about your dad's death
Ten days after it happened
Seven days after the funeral.

But you were there with your mom, holding her in your arms.
The story moves me to tears
But I compose myself as you pause to point out the bush rat.

"We try to protect our own rights," (POTHOLE!)
"But it is God's time and God's strength." (HONK!)
Breaths of diesel fuel exchanged for words of wisdom.

We exchange stories that only nurses could appreciate
"By the way, we're in rebel territory now."
Oh. I hadn't noticed.

The military stop points make me a little nervous
But there never seems to be a problem
As the soldiers lazily roll away the spiked barrier.

"Oui-hallo?" You answer your phone in mid-sentence
And once again I am lost in my own little world
Yet I am not in my own world at all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Simple Statements from a Tired Mind

I am home.

I am exhausted.

I am doing very, very well.

I opened my mail.

I read my 327 personal emails (probably about 50% junk, so it didn't take as long as you might think).

I'll do my 177 work emails tomorrow.

I don't think I can do 528 blog postings.

I work Fri, Sat, Sun.

School starts Monday.

These things will not seem nearly so daunting after I sleep.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Most Days

"has a really beautiful soul but hasn't found a way to express it yet." -Storypeople

This is how I feel.

Most days.



"has a totally depraved soul and expresses it in every way imaginable." -Eva Brandes

This is how I feel most days, too.

Identity

I have been doing a different format for my quiet times as I prepare to go to Cote d'Ivoire next week. WorldVenture sent me a 33 day guide of Scripture reading and as I go through it, I am using the text to answer the questions:

Who is God?
Who am I?
and
How do I want to respond based on this text?


Earlier today I was looking over what I have written the last few weeks and I came to the realization that everything I learn about who God is indirectly tells me something about who I am.

Here is a small sampling:

He is the thirst-quencher. (I am thirsty.)
He is the one who qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints. (I have been qualified.)
He feeds the birds. (I am fed.)
He clothes the lilies. (I am clothed.)
He is Lord of all. (I am under his lordship.)
He is the redeemer. (I am redeemed.)
He justifies. (I am justified.)
He is the Author of life. (I am alive.)
He is the adopter. (I am adopted.)
He is the source of grace. (I am a recipient of grace.)
He is the supplier of strength. (I am a recipient of strength.)
He is our deliverer. (I have been delivered.)
He is the Alpha and Omega. (I am not.)

Okay, so the last one doesn't quite fit the mold I made, but it is true and is one of the most significant truths for me to remember (that I am not the Alpha and Omega), so I included it.

I love that our identity as Christians is so fully wrapped up in God that learning about Him teaches us things about ourselves.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vacation

T11 Favorite Moments of the Week:

11) My family's church had one of three "Missions Sundays" on Sunday. This week's focus was on short-term missions. SO fitting and very encouraging thoughts as I prepare for Cote d'Ivoire.

10) The feeling of falling while jumping off the rocks at "Ledgeville."

9) BBQ chicken. Kettle chips. Hamburgers on the grill. Chocolate chip pancakes. Corn on the cob. Steak. Mashed potatoes. Puppy chow. Steamed asparagus. Ziti. Chicken salad croissants. Pasta salad. Fresh green beans. Shrimp alfredo. Warm chocolate chip cookies.

8) My aunt found out I have been having trouble with my neck and shoulders and she got me a massage. It was absolutely wonderful.

7) Purchasing my airline ticket to Cote d'Ivoire at a price so low (comparatively) that the travel agent was convinced it was a pricing mistake. Praise the Lord!!!

6) I had an awesome conversation with my aunt while she drove me to the airport. I walked into the airport and instantly burst into tears because I love that family so deeply and it pains me so much to leave them.

5) Extended time in the Word and prayer while laying on the floating dock each morning.

4) Riding on the back of the Seadoo driven by a thrill-seeking 17-year-old boy. Best. Ride. Ever.

3) 2.5 straight hours of Rook. I LOVE that game and never get to play.

2) Spending an hour playing hymns on my aunt's beautiful grand piano while my dad sang along.

1) RITAS!!!!!



T5 Least Favorite Moments of the Week:

5) Getting delayed for several hours on the way out and then waiting around an extra hour for my luggage. Lame.

4) Watching my mom's toenail rip off as it got kicked by the toe of my aunt's sandal and then sending her off to the ER knowing they would most likely remove the root (which they did). BUH-MER!

3) I still cried every single day. That shouldn't necessarily go under the blanket statement of "least favorite moments" because some of the tears were good tears. But some of them sucked.

2) The pain of sore muscles after ridiculous amounts of Seadoo-riding.

1) Leaving.



T5 Favorite Pictures From the Week:
5)
4)3)2)
1)

Monday, August 18, 2008

I am on the Vent Unit

I landed on the vent unit tonight. It is BY FAR my least favorite place to float, but I try to have a positive attitude about it.


T5 Things I HATE About the Vent Unit:

5) I don't know how to run or read the vents. I get frustrated when they start beeping at me and I don't know what to do. I like knowing what to do.

4) Patients who are in the hospital because they can't breathe make me a little uncomfortable. It is a fairly important part of a functioning body.

3) Patients with trachs can't talk. I am not a good lip-reader. This makes communication difficult and occasionally frustrating.

2) For whatever reason, it seems like 96% of patients on the vent unit are in strict isolation. This is not necessarily true or accurate, it is simply an estimate from my limited observations. I get tired of gowning up.

1) Thick oral secretions are my third least favorite bodily fluid. Most trach patients have thick oral secretions.



T5 Things I Try to Remind Myself to Like About the Vent Unit:

5) Nurses are only assigned two patients a piece (5-7 is the normal for nights on other floors).

4) At least when I have to suction secretions, the isolation gown protects me from getting any on me.

3) I only have two patients.

2) Um....let's see here.....think, Eva, think....

1) 2 patients.....2 patients......2 patients......

Sunday, August 17, 2008

T5 Reasons I Make T5 Lists

5) It is an effective way to organize my thoughts.



4) It stops me from rambling. Kind of.



3) I think in lists. I might as well write in lists.



2) It seems more creative and therefore more interesting than just...saying...stuff.



1) I still miss evernorth.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

PN

I am leaving for Pennsylvania in T-minus 32 hours. My family affectionately refers to the state as "PN" since that is what I wrote as the state initials on all of my "forwarding address" forms the first summer that I lived there. So....I am not the person to go to for state initials. So what? It made sense to me. Think about it....MiNNNNNNesota. PeNNNNNNsylvania. It's logic, folks.

Anyway, my family and I will be spending the week with my aunt, uncle and cousins (the family that I lived with both summers that I was out there) at their "cabin" (aka beautiful home on a lake) on Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos. We pretty much spend the days laying around in the sun reading books and the evenings are host to a variety of activities including games, movies, Olympics, more reading, and other general fun.

So......I am pretty excited.

Let me give you some specific reasons why....


T5 Reasons I am Looking Forward to Pennsylvania

5) I get to spend the week with my sisters whom I love DEARLY. This means lots and lots of laughter.

4) Copious amounts of reading time.

3) Time with my dad which will include getting used to his new bald look.

2) Time to read/think/pray/write about Africa with some concentrated time on spiritual preparation.

1) RITA'S!!!!


As excited as I am, there are some parts that are not so very thrilling for me....


T5 Reasons I am NOT Looking Forward to Pennsylvania

5) 5 days will never be long enough. I can already tell you I will not be ready to leave on Sunday.

4) Inconvenient internet access during a time when I need to be communicating with the field workers in Africa regarding my fast-approaching trip.

3) Eric is not coming up to the cabin which severely limits the amount of time that I will be able to see him.

2) When I arrive, I will have been awake for 36 hours straight. Not my favorite feeling in the world.

1) I selfishly find it easier to deal with my dad's cancer when the reality of it is not staring me in the face on a daily basis.




The exciting reasons definately win.




Can't wait for Monday!!!!!!

T5 Things I Love About My Mom (this week's edition)

5) When I call her crying, I can muster up my strongest, most steady voice to say "Hi" and, without fail, she instantly responds with, "Honey, what's wrong?" Mother's instinct, I guess.

4) When it is late in the evening and I say "All I want to do right now is drive to Green Bay" she replies, "Maybe you should get a good night's sleep and leave in the morning." My interpretation: You are not being completely irrational. Just a little impractical.

3) She knows me well enough to trust that no matter how much I am falling apart at the moment, if I get a good night's sleep I will wake with a fresh perspective in the morning.

2) Even though I have called her approximately 27 times in the last two years to ask her for the exact same recipe ratios, she continues to tell me each time as if I have never asked before.

1) Every time I talk to her, she asks if there is something she can do to help me prepare for my trip. Not in an overbearing way, more in a "I know I am the next-most-interested person in what you are doing, so I will help you think through this so that you don't feel like you are doing it alone" kind of way. Then she sits on the phone with me for an hour reading off addresses from the church directory and never once makes it seem like the task is inconvenient.

Honorable mention: She sends me text messages and then calls to see if I got them. I know I already mentioned this, but I just can't get over how funny I think that is.

T5 Laughs

It was a tear-filled week. I cried at least once every day, most days more than once. Considerably more. The tears were provoked by a wide range of situations ranging from valid (tears of repentance during a time of prayer) to not-so-valid (having the secretary at work tell me she couldn't notarize my form), signficant (processing "the cancer journey") to innocous (feel-good stories about olympic medal winners), beautiful (celebration over a friend's good report about her sister's successful cancer treatment) to disgusting (self-pity over dissatisfying life situations) and everything in between.

So what ought one to do after such a lachrymose week?

I count laughs.

Here are the top 5 things that made me laugh this week:

5) After Rach got done praying for dinner on Thurs, Lindsay said "And thank you for grills." I heard "Thank you for girls" which made no sense to me whatsoever. I had also just taken a drink of water which makes everything 7 times funnier than when there is nothing in your mouth. In an effort to not spit my water all over the beautifully grilled food, I proceeded to aspirate a majority of the water into my lungs which created a gurgle on its way down that sounded eerily similar to a death rattle.

4) I watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics at Chinwe's on Wed (yay for TiVo!) and during the part with the boxes, Jacie asked how we thought they got the boxes to move in such perfect rhythm. I replied that it must all be electronic and that someone smarter than us probably spent a considerable amount of time setting up the program and then got the glory of hitting "play" when the time was right. In my head, I was sarcastically thinking "or maybe they got people to sit under the boxes and move them up and down at exactly the right moment." Several minutes later, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE BOXES CAME OUT. Totally. Unreal. We laughed. Hard.

3) A long time ago, Lindsay recommended a book to me called Three Cups of Tea. As I was perusing the shelves at B&N, I saw the book and decided that I would like to take it to PA (as if I don't have enough books to take already). I sent Linds a text that said "Can I borrow 3 cups of tea for pa?" She called me a little while later to ask what kind of tea I wanted.

2) I made it through the bass part of several Guitar Hero songs on the hard level playing with my FEET.

1) My mom sent me a text message and then called a few minutes later to see if I had gotten it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Hear Ya, Pete

It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Decisions on Doctrinal Differences**

This morning I saw more clearly than ever how greatly my doctrinal beliefs differ from what is preached at my church. Once again, it got me thinking about what we "look for" in a church and what challenges (and benefits!) we encounter if/when we routinely disagree with the doctrine presented in the part of the body with whom we choose to worship and serve.

After lunch I went for a bike ride and listened to one of Piper's sermons from a few weeks back. Interestingly enough, he was talking about baptism, church membership, and differing doctrinal beliefs within the local body. He was stating how members do not need to be on board with all of Bethlehem's doctrines in order to be granted membership. You can be an egalitarian who denies unconditional election and doesn't believe in the perseverance of the saints and still be a member. His ultimate point was that if a church doesn't get hung up on other doctrinal issues, baptism should not be a deal breaker.

Now, one difference between the thoughts I was processing and the message Piper was conveying is that Piper was speaking from the church's perspective. Part of his argument for why these doctrines should not be cause for exclusion from the local body is because baby Christians should not be required to have all of their doctrinal ducks in a row in order to participate in the family which they have officially joined by entering into a relationship with Christ. Once joined to a local body, there is time and opportunity for teaching, training, and doctrinal correction.

The difference is that I am not a baby Christian. The doctrinal differences that I experience are not evidence of me needing more teaching from my church. As a matter of fact, as humbly as I can say it, the differences I noticed this morning make me apprehensive about putting myself under my church's teaching. They seem quite significant to me. I understand the difference between dogma, doctrine, and adiaphora, but if you are picturing the concentric circles in your head like I am, I would place the doctrines that I am thinking about closer to the dogma side of the "doctrine circle" than the adiaphora side, and it gave me some cause for alarm.

So, that is what I spent my entire Sunday afternoon mulling over as I deep-cleaned my house (I did take one mental break to compose an email in my head, but I didn't type it out when I finished and I am afraid I have lost most of it by now. Dangit.). As of right now, I still have no plans to ditch my church anytime soon, but as I sat in the pew this morning, I did find my heart aching for church as I once knew it.




Side tangent: Piper DID clarify that although an individual does not need to sign off on church doctrine in order to be a member of Bethlehem, they DO need to sign off on it to be an elder. He said something about the elders "heartily embracing" every line of the 12-page doctrinal statement and then went on to state that "they would die for that doctrine."

Although I agree with most of what Piper says, I try not to be a passive listener. I did go through a period of time when I took his words as gold, but I came to my senses, realized the fault and dangers in that, and once again became a critical listener. I still say "amen" to a high percentage of what he says (and writes) but that was one statement that really gave me a start.

I would die for Jesus.

I would die in defense of the honor and glory of His name.

I would not die for my doctrine.

The doctrinal beliefs that I hold, I hold firmly. But I would not die for them. I am not convinced that I ever SHOULD be willing to die for them.




Time to go to the concert in the park. I am looking forward to the distraction.




**If seminary teaches me nothing else, I hope it teaches me how to grab people's attention by using powerful alliterations and acronyms. It would be difficult to participate in church leadership without such skills. (insert sarcasm here).