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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).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Change of Plan

I know I told a couple of my blog readers that I was going to post my Cote d'Ivoire updates on here, but I have decided to post them on my other blog. If you are interested, you can check them out there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I can be optimistic when I want to be

The best part about breaking a $6 pair of sunglasses is that even if you only wore them for 6 weeks, you still feel like you got your money's worth.

Just trying to take a look at the brighter side (in more ways than one).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Prayer

"Not my will, but Thine," she prays,
"Unless it is something I really want," her heart chimes in,
"Then I still want my way."

"I submit to You," she continues,
"As long as submission means I don't have to change my desires
or let go of the things I cling to."

"I trust Your sovereign hand," she states,
"And will make my best effort to help You out
in the situations where Your sovereignty isn't enough."

"Reveal Yourself to me!" she pleads,
"Just don't do it through trials.
They aren't any fun."

"Teach me to love people," she begs,
"Just make sure I don't get hurt
and please make it convenient."

"Break me, Lord!" she cries,
"And please make it easy and painless.
The quicker the better. I need to get on with life."

Her prayer is complete. Her heart has been heard.
She stands and walks off into her day
and, returning unchanged, will pray the same thing tomorrow.