Monday, December 5, 2011

Domestic Violence and the Church



It is so important for all Churches and all Christians to be equipped to work with cases of abuse, including domestic violence.  Jenny Rae Armstrong does a great job pulling together resources on this.  Click here to read her post.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

raising awareness


My case isn't this advanced yet.  I don't really have eloquent words to add to this, so just watch the video.

**added note:  there is nothing worse than having this illness and having no one believe you (not even your doctors).  because of its rarity, there are still a number of doctors who have never heard of this and they treat you like a complete idiot when you try and explain this.  when i finally did get diagnosed, the doctor congratulated me on self-diagnosing (which was the exact same thing that the other doctors had scorned).  keep fighting.  find a doctor who will listen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Currently Reading: Girl Meets God


 photo from:  http://oneyearbibleimages.com/girl_meets_god.jpg


Girl Meets God: A Memior
Lauren F. Winner

Do I agree with her on every point?

No.

Do I agree with anyone on every point.

Also no.

I am learning that people who think differently than I do are a treasure.  That they strengthen and fortify me.  That while it seems prickly and awkward at times, I am a better person and a better thinker when I am challenged in my comfortable ways.

This is Dr. Winner's memoir of her religious life.  She converted to Orthodox Judaism in her teen years and then converted again to Christianity in her twenties.  It is interesting to read how Christ wooed her.  How, despite her reluctance at at times, He made Himself known and revealed to her that He is the only way.  As she is a practicing Episcopalian and writes from that perspective, she showed me some of the beauty that I may have overlooked in liturgy.

While reading this book I told Mr. Mays that were I actually friends with Dr. Winner (which I am not) I could see myself pulling her aside one day at church and uncomfortably saying, "Um, so, I just wanted to let you know that Christians don't really talk like that...."  She is the kind of honest that I wish I could be with myself.  She says the things that "good Christians" won't even admit to thinking.  But there is something so incredibly appealing about her honesty.  Instead of judging her for the faults that she openly admits to having, I found it rather endearing to hear someone admit their sins rather than try and make excuses for them.

My copy of "Girl Meets God" has pencil markings throughout as I underlined and annotated my way through the text.  I stopped multiple times to read something aloud to Mr. Mays.

This is the third book I have read by Dr. Winner.  At the suggestion of a friend, I read Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chasity which has since become my one of my favorite books on sexuality from a Christian perspective and one that I have passed along to many friends.  I also read (and loved) Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation To A Life of Spiritual Disciplines which is actually on my Christmas list for this year.  :)

Here's the except I read aloud to my mom (from pages 261-262):

"I have always felt faintly embarrassed about the role Jan Karon's Mitford novels have played in my conversion.  I'm sure God, who could have thrown a little Dostoyevsky Barth in my path, was playing some sort of divine joke, figuring He would both get me to the baptismal font and erode some of my cherished intellectual snobbery in one fell swoop.  Still I often reflect on the books God has used in other people's conversions - Richard Gilman turned to Catholicism after reading Graham Greene and Georges Bernanos, for example, and Augustine famously became a Christian after reading the Book of Romans - and I feel annoyed that in His wisdom, He chose to reel me in with middle-brow Christian fiction.  It could be worse, I suppose.  I could have come to faith while reading Left Behind."

Read it.  You'll like it.  :)

On a side note, a dear friend of mine is studying at Duke Divinity School and Dr. Winner is her academic adviser!  How rad is that?! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Binds Us Together...


"What binds us together is not

common education,
common race,
common income levels,
common politics,
common nationality,
common accents,
common jobs,
or anything else of that sort.

Christians come together
Because they have all been loved
By Jesus Himself."

- D.A. Carson

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

come into my kitchen: oatmeal craisin cookies


These are some of my absolute favorite cookies - oh my word!  I found a recipe, but wasn't completely satisfied so I changed a few things.  Since they contain oatmeal, craisins and pecans you can kind of fool yourself into thinking that they are healthy.  It's dangerous.  Trust me on this one.  ;)
 

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies


Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups craisins
1 cup chopped pecans (approximately)

Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons almond flavoring
Milk (maybe 1 - 2 tablespoons??)

Cream together the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.
Sift the flour, oatmeal, powder, soda, and salt together.  
Add to the butter mixture about 1 cup at a time.
Add craisins and pecans.
Roll into balls.  (At this point, the cookies could be frozen and saved for another day)
Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (mine took a little longer)
Remove from cookie sheet and allow them to cool completely.

While cooling, mix the glaze together.  It should be thick, but you can change the consistency by adding more milk or powdered sugar to make it less think/more think respectively.  Put glaze into a small ziplock bag.
When the cookies are completely cooled, drizzle the glaze using the ziplock bag (cut off one corner of the bottom and drizzle the frosting from there).  
Allow the glaze to set before storing cookies.



**Recipe adapted from All Recipes

Sunday, November 6, 2011

prayer for our marriage

We've recently starting saying this written prayer along with our nightly spoken prayer.  I hope that as the words become embedded in our minds that the Truth would be embedded in our hearts and that our actions would reflect those changes.

O God, who hast so consecrated the state of Matrimony that in it is represented the spiritual marriage and unity betwixt Christ and his Church; Look mercifully upon [us] thy servants, that [we] may love, honour, and cherish each other, and so live together in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that [our] home may be a haven of blessing and of peace; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

**Taken from The Book of Common Prayer: The Form and Solemnization of Matrimony

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Healthy Is the New Skinny"


I am not endorsing everything (or every picture) that this campaign puts out.  As a Christian I believe that ultimately I must find my identity in Christ and look to Him to define me.  But I AM agreeing that this is a serious issue that needs to be addresses in our culture. 

Post this video on your facebook or blog or twitter and share the message with others.  Let's reclaim the definition of beauty.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Update on Pizza (with pictures)


I posted last week about our chevre mushroom pizza and wanted to follow up since we made pizza again today for lunch.  This time I snapped a couple pictures with my phone so I could upload them.  I rarely make a recipe unless I see a picture of it (I know that other people feel similarly).  My goal is to get better about taking pictures of what I bake/cook.  This will probably be easier in a couple weeks when my new phone gets in.  For now, I'm working with a very limiting camera phone and my own very limiting creativity.

More information on the dough:  This week I made the dough on Saturday night and put it into an oiled zip-lock bag which was then put into the refrigerator (this step takes the place of letting it rise the first time).  This morning before we left for Church, I pulled the dough out of the fridge and transferred it from the zip-lock to a mixing bowl.  The bowl was then covered and the dough rose while we were gone.  It worked out well because when we got home from Church, lunch was already halfway prepared.  :)
We're trying to set a pattern of being ready to host guests after Church.  Of course, we just moved here and we're just getting to know people at our Church, but we'd like to have our home/meal prepared so that we could invite people over after Church if the opportunity arises.  It creates an interesting challenge for me to find a meal that could easily be "expanded" if we had guests and need to stretch the food.  But at the same time, we don't want to be wasteful and prepare food that will go uneaten.  This is where the pizza dough came in!

Since it was just Caleb and I only used about 2/3 of the dough that was prepared for our pizza (we really could have used 1/2 of it).  The remaining dough was put back into the zip-lock and I plan on using it to make breadsticks later this week.  That way nothing was wasted and we'll have homemade breadsticks without the hassle of making them right before dinner.  I'll probably pair the breadsticks with homemade soup or salad (depending on the weather).

From the pictures it clear that we did one side white bread and one side with a marinara sauce.  I whipped up the sauce when we got home because we didn't have any pizza sauce on hand. 





 
Before the oven

Ready to eat!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Journal Entry October 25th, 2011

Disclaimer:  You might not understand this post.  I'm not asking you to.  :) 


"Talk to me," he says.

The words don't come.

But the tears do.

My heart and my bathtub are full.  There are words I wish to say.  And yet, I can't.

He takes my hand.  And the tears come again, for a new reason.  This man, this husband of mine is infinitely patient and kind.  In the words of another, "he is more patient with me than I am with myself."

I retreat again into my journal and my books and my Bible.  He stays near, but gives me the space to simply be.  I look over.  He sits at the kitchen table with his Bible open, seemingly unaware that I'm watching him.  My eyes go back to my papers.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see him glance up to check on me.  We sit silently.  Each of us half-engaged in our books; each pretending that we don't realize the other one watching.  It's a delusional game.

The gulf between us seems oh-so-wide.  It's not anger or frustration.  We didn't get into a fight.  We're just learning what it means to co-exist.  And learning that God is working on that other person so we need to step back and let Him work.  That's hard.

I bridge our emotional-Grand-Canyon by taking the few steps from the couch to the kitchen table.  He looks up with bright eyes, hoping that I'll have words to explain.

I don't.

As he wraps his arms around me, the tears come again.

I cry because I hurt.  I cry because I am loved and yet so undeserving of it.  I cry because I'm aware of my shortcomings and how un-Jesus-like I am.  I cry because this-thing-called-'marriage' is smoothing out all my rough edges and I know that I still have so much further to go.  I cry because this world is not my home.  And I am so very ready for the world that is my home.

He loves me.  Of this am sure.

And I'm pretty crazy about him too.  ;)


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

come into my kitchen: chevre mushroom pizza

***Click here to read an update on this post and see pictures!

Alright, so the disclaimer to this recipe is as follows:  my family doesn't really follow recipes very well.  It's a lot more of how it "looks" or "feels" than what is actually written down.  So...ye-ah.  Hopefully yours will turn out well!  :)

This is our basic recipe for pizza dough.  So delicious!  It's a family favorite (and we're Italian, so that gives this recipe bonus points or something).  On our honeymoon, they had this amazing chèvre (goat cheese) and mozzarella pizza on the cruise boat.  I think Caleb and I had it at least four of the seven days!  When we got settled here in Biloxi I decided to try to recreate it (and at the same time make a few changes/additions to the recipe!).  This is a "white bread" pizza so it doesn't have sauce.  Enjoy!  :)

Pizza Dough:

1 tablespoon (1 packet) yeast
3/4 cup of warm water (NOT hot water)
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 cups of flour
olive oil

Dissolve the yeast into 3/4 cup of warm water and let sit covered in a warm place.

Warm the milk, vegetable oil, sugar and salt in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Let cool completely.  If this is too warm, it is kill the yeast and your dough won't rise.

Combine the yeast mixture and the milk mixture in a large bowl.  Add flour.  The amount of flour you need depends on where you live and what the weather is that day, so I always start by adding about 3 cups (it's easy to add flour later if the dough is too sticky).  Turn onto counter and knead for a few minutes.  If dough is too sticky, add flour.  If it is too dry, add a little bit of olive oil.

Place dough in clean bowl (I always put about a tablespoon of oil and rub it around the sides of the bowl).  Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 25-30 minutes or until dough has doubled.

Press into well oiled pan (it makes enough to fill a 13x9, I think) and let it rise again for about 10-20 minutes.

Bake in a hot oven (about 450 degrees) for about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Add toppings and sauce.  Broil on high for a couple minutes (until the cheese is nicely melted)


Pizza Toppings:  (all measurements are approximate - let your tastebuds and personal preferences guide you!)

1-1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms (sauteed with garlic and olive oil)
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 tomato, thinly sliced
1 - 2 cups chèvre (found in the deli section of the grocery store)
1 - 2 cups mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning

I started by brushing a thin coat of olive oil.  Then I sprinkled Italian seasoning across the top along with Parmesan cheese.  I put on the vegetables next, then the chèvre, and ended with the mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

just this :)

Today I am writing a long letter to update my doctors at Mayo.  I really should have done this about 3 months ago, but it's been a little crazy in my life!

Writing this update is interesting.  I am remembering back to the times when I have been the sickest and remembering times when my soul felt completely starved.  There were days that seemed hopeless.  My emotional bathtub was constantly overflowing.  Just getting out of bed was a struggle.  I was not only waging war against my body, but against my mind.  When you're in constant pain for months on end, your mind considers things that otherwise would have seemed ludicrous.

Am I healed?  Well, no.

Have I found grace to keep pressing on?  Yes.

Does that make it all better?

No.

I still have about 50 bajillion questions to ask God someday.  My theology and my mind have been stretched as I've sought answers to the endless parade of questions in my mind.  My eyes still well up with tears when I think about those dark, dark days.

Psalm 23 says that God will be with us when we walk through "the valley of the shadow of death."  Some translators have said that it could also be translated: "when I walk through the valley of deep, deep darkness."  That's how it feels some days.  And it is something that few people can understand (truly, no one can exactly understand your situation as each one is unique)

I have a new sensitivity for theologies of suffering.  When someone else I hurting, I resist giving them the "pat Christians answers" that stings one's soul like lemon juice in a papercut.

Some days I think about the "friendly fire" in Christianity.  When our own people are wounded and aching, why do we inflict more pain?

That's all I have for today.  Nothing profound or new; just some reflections on living a hurting life.



p.s.  As I was digging through all my papers from Mayo I found some wedding planning stuff.  :)  It's fun to remember that even at that "low point" my mom and I were planning for the future.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

required saturday morning listening (Kick Drum Heart: The Avett Brothers)





Mr. Mays and I ran errands this morning and shopped for living room furniture.  This is my wake up and go music for Saturday mornings.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

currently reading: My Lobotomy

Title:  My Lobotomy - A Memoir
Author:  Howard Dully (with Charles Fleming)
Genre:  Biographical Non-Fiction
Pages: 304

As a psychology major, I've been interested in this book for awhile.  Each time I saw it on the shelf of Barnes and Noble or another bookstore, I made a mental note to look for it at the library, but never followed through on that idea.  A few weeks ago, Borders was having a huge going-out-of-business sale.  And guess what was one of the few books still left on the almost-bare shelves?  This one!

I started reading this on the flight to Tampa for our honeymoon.  And I finished it a few days later on the cruise.  It was a fairly quick read, although it took a little bit for me to adjust to the style of writing.  It is written as if Dully is narrating it, which made it a bit hard to follow at times.

Dully describes the events leading up to and the events following his lobotomy.  At the age of 12, Dully was  admitted to a hospital where Dr. Walter Freeman performed an "ice-pick lobotomy."  This essentially means that Freeman took a "knitting needle" type object and poked it through Dully's eye socket and rotated it around in his brain for a few minutes.  Dully did not "qualify" for a lobotomy (a procedure which  is no longer valid in the medical world - it does more damage than good).  Freeman was eager to have a patient to work on and Dully's step-mother was eager to have her step-son "altered" or forced to move away.  Dully began a journey to find out about his lobotomy (and why is was ordered) which was documented by NPR.

This book is chilling.  The account is so personal and you cannot help but sympathize with Dully.  I could not help but wonder how Dully slipped through the cracks of doctors, teachers, social workers and government workers.  Dully wrote multiple times that no one ever taught him responsibility and that he had never learned a skill.  Didn't any of the people around him see that?  This made the book personal to me.  I was forced to ask myself, "Are there people standing right in front of me who are just as in need of help as Dully was?"

I really appreciated the ending where Dully wrote about being a victim.  He wrote that while horrible things happened to him, he saw that we were all victims at some levels or another.  I thought that this was an appropriate ending to the book as it was a challenge to all readers and as it issued freedom for Dully - he no longer needed to live in the shadow of his past.

Friday, September 23, 2011

on the eve of my wedding

Tomorrow my dress may get wrinkled.  My makeup might get smeared.  My hair may get messed up.  It may rain and we might all get wet.  The food or the decorations or the music might not be to the liking of all of the guests.  Because of my illness, my legs may fail and I might just not be able to stand the whole time.  After all my careful planning, some details may simply fall apart at the last minutes.

But guess what?

I don't care!!!!

Tomorrow I am marrying my best friend.

And that is enough for me.


May God be honored through the wedding and even more so through the marriage.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last Day with Safe Families

This post is dedicated to Safe Families of Children of Central Indiana and to the amazing women I've been privileged enough to work with and to learn from:  Krista Davis, Diane Palma, Lisa Lance and Tracey Mitchell-Strong.  Read a previous post I wrote about SF here

Tonight I went to my last Safe Families event before I move away to a new city and (hopefully) find a new job.  It was the annual fundraiser, but it was as much a celebration as it was a fundraiser.  We talked and laughed and ate.  We made introductions and made small talk.  We recounted stories.

When I went in tonight, I thought I knew what Safe Families was all about.

After all, I was on staff!!

But as Dr. Anderson (the founder) and Krista spoke about Safe Families and the impact it is having around the nation (and spreading to other countries), I was humbled.  I realized anew that God's hand was all over this movement.  I viewed this ministry through human eyes.  I thought about the logistics and problem solving.  I thought about the statistics.  I got caught up in what I could do to help.  What I forgot is that Jesus is above and beyond all that.  And that Jesus is the very best that I have to offer anyone. 

Safe Families began a mere seven years ago.  Yet it already has branches in over 60 cities and even has a branch opening in the U.K.  Safe Families of Central Indiana (where I worked) began just over three years ago, but it is already growing by leaps and bounds.  As more people and more organizations hear about us, we get more referrals and more host families. 

The idea of Christians opening up their homes, caring for the child of a stranger and being "inconvenienced" with no monetary gain seemed preposterous in the beginning.  After all, who gives without expecting anything in return??  The answer to that should be:  The Church!  That is what we are called to do!  Dr. Anderson even spoke about how he presented this idea in Chicago (the first city to have Safe Families) and was told that it was "the best idea [that individual] had ever heard in his career".  But he was also told that it would never work because Christians wouldn't actually do this.  That individual was proved wrong when Safe Families flourished in Chicago and spread to other cities.  It seemed silly in the beginning, but it's working.  As people begin to catch this vision, it is spreading to more and more churches.    

One of the things I love about Safe Families is that it is a lifestyle.  It is not you driving to a homeless shelter and putting in your three hours of volunteer work and then driving back to your suburban life.  You are opening your home and your family to these children.  They are living life alongside you.  Isn't this the way it was supposed to be?? 




Safe Families is so much bigger than me or anyone else on staff.  It is God who is opening doors and growing this ministry exponentially, but us.  I am so thankful for the incredible people I worked with (those on staff, the volunteers and the Safe Families themselves) who reminded me of that fact so often.

I could write so much more, but it is late here.  Time for bed!


**Please pray about how YOU could be involved with Safe Families.  I am happy to answer any questions, but I'd love it if you would check out the links below to find out more about Safe Families.  :)


Safe Families Website (look for the video clips of Katie Couric reporting on SF)
Safe Families Locations
Safe Families for Children of Central Indiana blog
Safe Families for Children of Central Indiana twitter

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ode to my favorite dress.


This is my absolute favorite thing to wear (with the exception of sweat pants, of course).  I bought it years ago from Shade Clothing and have practically worn it thin since then!  Usually I pair it with a denim jacket, brown boots and a scarf.  But sometimes I'll wear a cardigan with it or just throw it on and go.  It is super comfortable, it can be thrown in the washing machine with my normal laundry, it had pockets (!!!).  Pretty much, this is an incredible dress.

Unfortunately, Shade no longer sells this dress.

Otherwise I would own about five of them.  (kidding.)  (sort of.)

Shade just came out with a similar dress.  So I ordered it in the plum stripe (I also really, really like it with the gray stripes!!).  The mailman delivered it yesterday.  It's pretty cute.  (Score!) But it doesn't have pockets.  (Bummer.)  I wish that they offered this new dress with pockets and in solid colors (other than black) because I would buy one of every color!

Photo Credit:  Retrieved from Blissfully Domestic blog on September 14th, 2011.  Originally from Shade Clothing

Thursday, September 1, 2011

currently reading/update

Currently reading...
1.  text messages (that's honesty, folks!)
2.  case notes for my job
3.  Psalms (especially 101 and 139)
4.  harry potter #5
5.  "The Help" (I've gotten through about 10 pages...I'll give it a proper review when I can do it a little more justice).
6.  "Creation & Blessing" (finishing up one last class of my undergrad)
7.  emails from Mr. Mays


24 days until the wedding.

My life is going through a huge transition right now.  I'm going to enjoy everything settling down and being able to get into a routine with my (soon to be) husband!  :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I couldn't resist.


Photo Credit: Gary Lawson from http://www.churchm.ag/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/best-bumper-sticker-our-son-is-god.jpeg

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

bathtub of emotions


This has been one of the most helpful communication tools in my life so I thought I would share.  I think it's especially good on those days when I am in deep pain and working with people who don't understand what that's like.  I've explained this over and over again when I was an RA and working with girls.  Mr. Mays uses this a lot to understand what I'm thinking and why I'm responding a certain way.

Imagine that you have a bathtub for your emotions and for stress.  Each time something is stressful or upsetting, it adds to the tub.  When the bathtub is full, the reaction comes.  That's your personal limit and you response in anger, frustration, tears, or shutting down.

Each situation of life adds a different amount (and each person can handle different amount of stress).  For instance, if you lost your keys and were late to an appointment, that might have only filled up your bathtub 1/10 of the way.  Another day, your car may have been stolen and that is especially stressful to you, so your tub is half filled by that situation.

Here's the key:  Life piles up.  Stress piles up.


When you lose your keys and you suddenly melt into a puddle of tears, it might be hard for you (and others!!) to understand why that small situation was so upsetting.  After all, it only filled up your bathtub 10% of the way!   But what you've forgotten is that it's not just the lost keys....  Before that happened your emotional bathtub was already filled to 95% with other issues so that last 10% pushed you over the edge and your bathtub was overflowing.


Caleb knows when I'm upset about something to ask how full my bathtub is.  It sounds silly, but it really has helped us!  When my pain levels are up, my bathtub is already filled to about 80%!!!!!  So when something that is seemingly small happens, I can get upset quickly.  It has helped our relationship a lot for him to understand how many "little" issues are filling up that bathtub.



It's a very simple word picture.  But it's proven to be really helpful for me.  Hope that this can help others (especially those dealing with pain).  Chronic pain is debilitating.  When others can't understand, it is isolating.  And it's even worse when you can't even understand yourself.






Photo Credit:  http://mymodernroom.com/tag/bathtub/

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

wedding bell blues

<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/3ZlnSGn_OrI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

39 days until the wedding (I think....  Sometimes I lose track).

This seemed appropriate for the day.  Let's be done with the wedding and move on to the marriage!!

Now if only Mr. Mays would change his first name to "Bill"....  ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

the worst.

the worst part about being chronically ill is not the pain.  it's not the endless prodding doctors.  it's not the questions or the stares from others.

the worst part is when you begin to hope.

a week goes by, perhaps even two.  the pain is lessening.  hope begins to build.  your mind starts playing tricks on you.  maybe i made all this up.  maybe it is going away for good this time.

and then it happens.  the hope that you have so slowly and carefully fostered is suddenly smashed to smitherings.

three days in bed.  cringing from the touch of another who meant to be gentle.  crying as you wait to be picked up on the side of the road because your legs just couldn't make it home.  tossing and turning through the night, unable to get the sleep your body craves.  thinking that the pain could be better mastered if you were inflicting it upon yourself.  isolation seems the best option as no one understands.  thoughts are clouded with the fog of pain. 

it feels like you fell smack on your face.  and maybe you literally did.

so what can you do about it? 

nothing.  just pick yourself up and keep plodding along.

and dream of that redeemed body that's promised when this world is over. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the ideal care package

Today I was dreaming about getting a care package.  I don't really know why.  Maybe it's because I'm in bed sick today.  I graduated from college and am getting married in six weeks.  Do people send care packages to newlyweds??  I doubt it.  But it's still fun to dream about getting a care package stuffed with favorite things and lots of love.

My ideal care package would include...
   - peachie o's (yum!!)
   - a long, handwritten letter
   - a new book (probably the fourth Harry Potter)
   - some sort of chocolate thing (maybe chocolate covered peanuts)
   - Chipotle gift card 
   - a season of Gilmore Girls
   - cutesy note cards

that just sounds soooo nice!  I'm fairly confident that in the coming years I'll be sending many more care packages than I'll be receiving!  oh well!  :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

grace glasses

Waking up, I rub my eyes and squint at the world around me.  My vision seems normal because, well, I'm used to this view.  But what I don't realize is that my eyes are unfocused.  That I'm missing that all-important lens through which I view the world.

Someone left the milk out of the counter.  Now it's warm.  Gross.  I roll my eyes and mutter something about people who are too irresponsible to complete a simple task. 

Driving down the expressway, someone cuts me off.  "Really?!?  What a jerk!  Couldn't you see me here??"  I speed away to get out of the path of the negligent driver.

The day winds on. 

And I still haven't noticed.

The phone rings.  I spent ten minutes trying to calm down the person on the other end.  The person who has been yelling at me and accusing me of being harsh.  "Are you serious?!  I've been trying to HELP you this whole time and you respond by blaming ME for your problems??"

It isn't until later, much later, that I realize it.  All of a sudden it hits me.

My vision's been blurry all day. 

I forgot my grace glasses. 

See, it might sound kinda crazy, but it's true.  When I first wake up in the morning, I need to remind myself to slip on those "grace glasses".  I must view others through eyes of grace.  It is so very easy for me to be critical and harsh and fight against the world.

The cashier calls for a price check and apologizes for the wait.  I sigh.  Oops.  My grace glasses slipped.... Adjusting the focus of my heart, I smile and say, "I don't mind!  It's not your fault!  How much longer until you're done for the day?".

See, the truth is that these grace glasses are actually for my heart as well as my eyes.  When I wake up with a bitter, cynical view on the world, I see everything as an attack.  When I remember those grace glasses, I easily forgive and bless others.  I remember that in the course of all eternity, these little trivial things don't really matter.

These grace glasses aren't just about making me a nicer, softer person though.  Because I remember that each and every day the ultimate Judge views me through eyes of grace.  Can I not afford others the same grace?

So the next time that my vision is unfocused and critical, I need to remember how I am viewed by God.  That each and every day He looks at me through grace of which I am so, so undeserving.  When I'm truly amazed at the grace I've received, it becomes much easier to pass on that grace to others.



Saturday, July 30, 2011

a recipe - grilled cheese and "ta-MAH-toe" sandwich

If I was super cool...I'd have neat pictures to go along with all this.

But I'm a college student who doesn't own a camera.

And I make this in my cafeteria (which involves jumping into at least five different lines to collect the necessary ingredients). The bolded directions are the quick version. The other notes are tips for people who go to Cedarville.

Step One: Get two pieces of homemade bread. Sometimes the bread is kinda smashed, but if you're careful you can stretch it a little bit. (bread line)

Step Two: Get lots and lots of cheese (mixing different kinds is always good) and slices of fresh tomato. Break up the cheese into smaller pieces so you make sure that the entire piece of bread is covered. (Sandwich line)

Step Three: Put a little bit of Caesar dressing on the inside of each piece of bread (and some in between the cheese, if you like that) (Salad Line - NOT the main one)

Step Four: Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on there (Pizza line)

Step Five: Sprinkle some basil and a little garlic salt on it as well (stir-fry line OR vegetarian line)

Step Six: Put it in the sandwich smasher until the outside is crispy and the cheese seems to be melty (yes. that is a word. sorta.)

thanks to Megan who every much helped me figure out this sandwich. We make it (or a variation of it) almost every time we eat together (and many other days as well!)

it would also be great with a slice of prosciutto (a major shout out to my italian heritage). but again, i'm making this in a college cafeteria. i've never seen prosciutto there.  ;)


oh so good.  wish i could have one of these right now!

class recommendations for cedarville university

For those of you still attending Cedarville, I thought I would take this moment to pass on a little advice. Here is a list of my absolute FAVORITE classes while at CU. I'm not taking the time right now to type out the explanations for each, but if you would like to know why, just ask. :)

1) Wisdom Literature with Dr. Estes (this man has impacted my life in such profound ways...and I actually took this class spring 2010 and then sat through it again spring 2011 because it was so good :)

2) Human Sexuality with Dr. Dolph

3) Scriptural Interpretation of Gender Issues (SIGI) with Dr. Fagan

4) Psalms with the esteemed Dr. Estes

5) Social psychology or Intimate Relationships with Dr. Dolph (it's a tie...I couldn't pick)

6) Old Testament Literature with Dr. Miller

7) Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Becknell


These are some of the classes that I WISH that I had time to take...

1) Hermeneutics with Dr. Couser
2) New Testament with Dr. Couser
3) Church History with Dr. Smith
4) Pentateuch with Dr. Ham
5) Logic (and/or Ethics) with Dr. Graves

Ok.  That's all for now.  :)



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Currently Reading: A Family's Guide to the Military for Dummies

A Family's Guide to the Military for Dummies
by Sheryl Garrett and Sue Hoppin

In 59 days, I'm getting married (!!!) and soon thereafter, Mr. Mays (who will technically be Lieutenant Mays by that point) and I will be moving to Mississippi with the Air Force.  Since I like to know as much as I possibly can before I go into a new situation, I started scouring the internet and the libraries for information on being a military family.  This book has helped a lot!  Here are just a few of the topics covered:
  - shopping at the commissary
  - Tricare options
  - understanding military compensation 
  - pros and cons of living in on base housing
  - all those silly little acronyms (CONUS, for instance)
  - military benefits
  - childcare/school options
  - family support centers

This book really does cover a lot of topics and I learned a great deal.  I did have to weed through a few things because certain parts didn't apply to us.  There was a lot of information about raising children while you're in the military and we just aren't at that point in life yet.

If you happen to read this post and you and/or your spouse as ever been in the military, comment and let me know your favorite part about being in the military.  And also perhaps tell me something that you struggled with.  :)  I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

bike lane woes

 

i have a serious problem with bikers who REFUSE to  use a nice, wonderful bike lane/path when it it provided and instead insist in riding in the narrow lanes for cars.  this video, however, is forcing me to be a little more gracious to the bikers.  enjoy!

Also, this picture just made my day.

Currently Reading: Heaven to Betsy and Betsy In Spite of Herself

Heaven to Betsy and Betsy In Spite of Herself
Maud Hart Lovelace


Ah, the beloved Betsy-Tacy series.  These are the stories of my childhood.  As we moved around the country, I felt like these were the friends that moved with me.  We started with reading the four books that were about their childhood, growing up in Deep Valley, Minnesota around the turn of the century.  Then I followed Betsy, Tacy and Tib through their high school years (with all the various ups and downs of high school, crushes, dances and more).  I toured Europe with Betsy.  I read as she FINALLY married Joe Willard and followed her as a newlywed.  Some years later, I found a few more Deep Valley books.  The two books mentioned above are her freshman and sophomore years of high school respectively.  I am reading through the series again this summer before I pack up all my books to move to Mississippi.  Mr. Mays agreed that if I have to be moved all over the country and perhaps all over the world and be moved away from friends and family, I could at least bring my fictional friends along.

These are such wonderful, classic books.  I've read each book at least a dozen times and I still love
 re-reading them again.  They are mentioned in my favorite movie, as well.  :)  Hope that you'll get a chance to pick up one of these books soon.  They really are enchanting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

song for today



thanks to my AWESOME sister and brother-in-law, this is one of mr. mays and my favorite songs.  :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

mark driscoll responses

If you're even semi-involved in Evangelical circles, you've probably heard about Mark Driscoll's recent facebook post asking his followers, “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?”

Clearly (and for good reason) this has raised a lot of controversy.  Although I have been challenged by Driscoll in the past, I'm glad that people have spoken out against this.  It would be pointless for me to attempt writing a Christian response to this - others have written much more poignantly on the subject.  Here are a few links to articles I have appreciated on this subject.

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/07/much_ado_about_mark_driscoll.html

http://rachelheldevans.com/mark-driscoll-bully

http://tylerlclark.tumblr.com/post/7438158715

In fairness to Driscoll, I must add that he apologized for his flippant comment.  I do admire his willingness to admit that he was wrong and his obedience to the elders who are over him. 

Currently Reading: Evidence Not Seen

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II
Darlene Deibler Rose

Mr. May's grandmother saw me reading while I stayed with them in Michigan and passed along this book.  I've always liked biographies (especially missionary biographies) so I was excited to own it.  (I'm pretty much happy to own any book though).

Anyway, the story is incredible.  Within the first year of marriage, Darlene moves from a small town in Iowa to New Guinea.  When World War II begins, she and her husband are taken hostage and separated to different POW camps.  She spends four years in the camp (that's the part I'm in right now).

This woman is pretty incredible.  She tells the story of what happened, but she never dwells on the facts too long.  In fact, she almost seems to downplay the situations...she's as cool as a cucumber in situations where I would have been terrified.  Perhaps what I like most is that Darlene always credits God with working things out...she was completely reliant on Him and simply acted with faith knowing that He would take care of her.


I was a bit nervous starting this book...since I was a little girl I've always had nightmares whenever I read/watch anything related to World War II.  So generally I just avoid reading "extra" books from this time period (clearly, I've had history for all my school years so I've read a lot on this era due to that).  Is it normal to see have nightmares when you're an adult??

Update from the last currently reading post I finished the book and really, really liked it.  I would highly recommend it and I liked Stafford's approach.  Since finishing it last week I had continued to think about it, especially as my job means I work with a lot of children!  It's also come up in several conversations I've had.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

cinnamon-sugar-pull-apart-bread

"Chocolate cream pie! You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That's such a comfort."

Today was just one of those days where pain and discouragement are much more prevalent than peace and contentment.  So I came home, exercised and decided to bake.  Baking is cathartic.  There is something so serene about kneading dough by hand, washing dishes in hot sudsy water, checking on dough rising, smelling sweet aromas from the oven.  If I had another life, I would probably open a bakery.  I found this recipe today so that's what I decided to bake.  Doesn't it look delicious??  I'm waiting for the dough to rise, so I can't report on it quite yet.  But if you're looking for a diabetic-suicide, this looks like the recipe to do the deed!  I'm leaving out part of the sugar, because it just seems a bit over the top.  :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

my job

a post about my job?  sounds simple.  but here's the truth: it's a little bit hard to pin down exactly what i do.  but i'll do my best.  :)


I work for Safe Families for Children of Central Indiana.  Check out their website, blog, facebook and twitter for more information!  :)

Short Version:  We take children in crisis situations and place them in loving, Christian homes.  We are an alternative to foster care or DCS where the children are taken from their parents.  Rather we work with the biological parents and allow them to retain parental custody.  Sometimes we only have the children for a couple of days (if, for instance, we were providing respite for a tired single mother).  Other times the children stay with us for several months at a time.  In the meantime, the child is being loved on and cared for by a volunteer family (we call them Safe Families).  These family integrate them as one of their own while reminding the child that they will return to their parents.  The families pray for the parents of the children and set up visits between the parents and children.  We visit the children in the homes, arrange visits, act as a liaison between biological families and Safe Families, provide support, etc.

Long Version:  I work with people.  That means that each day is a beautiful mess.

Some days it seems that all I see is the mess.  Broken people.  Hopeless situations.  Impossible barriers.  We spend several hours getting a plan in place only to have someone call it off.  But this is not the whole story  There is more.

There is beauty in the mess.

There is beauty in seeing a mom care of another's child as her own.  There is beauty is watching volunteers spend hours working on projects.  There is beauty in seeing one family envelope another in love.  There is beauty woven in and around this mess.

The question is, will I enter the mess in order to find the beauty?

The answer:  I must.  I must because Someone else entered the horrific, decrepit mess of my life.  And He makes beauty out of my life. 

He is a God who erases statistics - I love that about Him!  Those hopeless situations I wrote of?  He brings hope...He makes the impossible possible!  He knows about pain and suffering...the Bible says he was a "man of sorrows, acquainted with grief."  He can be near and dear to these families in need.  He knows what it is like to have a child ripped away and to watch them suffer. 

This Man brings beauty out of my oh-so-messy-life.  These families that I work with?  This Man wants to bring beauty out of their oh-so-messy-life.  And He wants to do the same to yours.

So my job is indeed a beautiful mess.

But I'm really just following His example.  :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Currently Reading: Too Small To Ignore

I'm starting a new "series" where I share what book I am currently reading and my thoughts on it.  I love to read all sorts of books.  But in this world of electronics, movies, TV and more, I have found that it becomes far too easy for me to put aside reading for another day or simply never finish a book.  This will be a simply accountability to both read and reflect.  And hopefully it will also encourage others to read. :)  Mr. Mays and I plan on reading books together when we're married, so hopefully that will give me even more to write about.

Too Small to Ignore:  Why The Least of These Matters Most

Dr. Wess Stafford, President and CEO, Compassion International

This book shares Stafford's personal life (including growing up in a remote African village) and his professional life.  He writes compellingly for Christians to "change the world one child at a time."  If you know me at all, I would hope that you know that I love teaching and working with children.  I spent two years doing children's ministry with Life Action Ministries, I have spent countless hours babysitting children, I have taught children's classes in at least four different churches.  Just last night I was sharing with Mr. Mays the excitement I feel when I see little ones understand the story and see their little hearts being turned towards God.  I still have a lot of the book left to finish, but already I am challenged and encouraged by Stafford's words.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Journal Entry [Sunday, March 28th, 2010]

Apex last night and Grace this morning.  

Last night Pastor Rob shared a story of the celebration of the 100 anniversary of Christian missionaries coming to a certain country (Paupa New Guinea?).  At this event, one of the natives of the land got up and made an announcement.  He was only of the oldest men still living and he said that he had important information and if he didn't reveal it, it would die with him.  He said that when the missionaries first came, the people didn't want them there, so they poisoned them.  Missionary children started dying.  Yet as the number of graves rose, the missionaries did not give up or get discouraged.  This elderly man ended by saying, "It was watching them die that made us want to join them."

Lord, so often we hear people say that people will come to Jesus as they watch how we live.  Yet here it is death that brought the change.

I want to live and die as such.  Oh Lord, I am reminded of my desire to be martyred for you and my desire to live everyday as a martyr.  May I both live and die for Your Glory.  In watching me die, may others want to join the cause of Christ.  Oh, I know that it is not easy.  Perhaps it means a lifetime of sickness.  May I be found faithful as I pass through the fire.

Use my life, Lord.  Use my sickness.  May my life truly be a beautiful, broken offering to you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

i. hate. my. mac.

Subtitle: Computer Woes

Ok.  That's not true.  I really love my mac.  We're just going through a little bit of a "phase" right now.  (Sounds like parents talking about their teenagers!)

Last winter, my hard drive crashed.  I lost everything.

So...I got a new hard drive.  And an external hard drive.  And I backed it up religiously.

Last week, my hard drive crashed again.

I took it into the Mac store and the guy said, "Well, you'll need a new hard drive.  Is it backed up?"

"Yep.  I backed it up earlier this week."

"Awesome!  Then you'll just need a new hard drive and then reinstall your OS."

That's easy enough.

One new hard drive and new OS later...I plug in my external hard drive to discover that although all the dates are there when I backed up my computer, there aren't any files!  Thanks a lot, Time Machine! I should have just backed it up myself.  :(  And...everything just "feels" wrong...it doesn't feel like my computer at all.  I've had problems with even the most basic program installations.

Enough of my computer woes!  It's just technology...and in the course of all eternity, it doesn't matter that much.  Hopefully when Mr. Mays flies in next week (!!), he'll be able to help me a little bit more.  He's much more tech-y than I am.  We're usually on opposite sides of this mac v ps war.  But I'm afraid that with all my mac problems, I'm losing ground in this battle....

On the off chance (the very off chance) that a macintosh executive ever reads this:  you would very much restore my faith in your company if you fixed this problem!  :(

Monday, June 20, 2011

prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.  Amen.

-John Wesley

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

stop motion inspiration

If you haven't seen Stop Motion before, make sure to watch these videos.  It's a series of photos that line up to tell a story.

There is simply one word for this:  incredible!








Thursday, June 2, 2011

one thousand

It was about 15 months ago that I took up the challenge.  The challenge to have fresh eyes for the world, eyes for beauty.  The challenge for thankfulness.

Could I really find gratitude for 1000 things in my life?

Life was hard.  I had been sick for months and unable to find an answer.  My doctors were in one state, my university in another.  I was barely making it through college, unable to get out of bed some days.  My prayers seemed unanswered.  God seemed far away.  Beauty seemed evasive.  Constant pain meant that my eyes were always focused on myself, on my circumstances.

In this time I read her words.  I read her own search for gratitude, for seeing the everyday common graces that really aren't so common after all.

I started counting.

1.  soft and soothing cello music quieting my soul
2.  getting lost in a bookstore and losing track of the real world for an hour
3.  prayer that comes from so deep within that there are no words - simply the aching and yearnings of a heart 

One by one, I added to the journal the graces I was experiencing.

32.  tear-stained bible pages
33.  rustling leaves in the wind 

The list grew.

118.  laundry flapping in the breeze
119.  repairing rather than starting anew
120.  a majestic tree spreading its limsb
121.  engagement stories
122.  reading books aloud to the borrowed child

I began to see God in the everyday.  I began to see echoes of Eden and glimpses of heaven.  Truer still, I learned to give thanks in the midst of hard circumstances and see beauty in the midst of pain.

408.  skirts with pockets
409.  a song for the day
410.  doctors who listen

Was I learning?  Yes.  Had I arrived?  Absolutely not.  Sometimes a week would go by where I would neglect my little gratitude journal, and worse yet, neglect my search for gratitude.  But I pressed on.

797.  being reminded that "there is no condemnation in Christ"
798.  bestowing on others the grace I relish
799.  growing in wisdom together

998.  reminders taht the best I have to offer is Jesus
999.  a clean kitchen
1000. learning familiar words in an unfamiliar language 

1,000 graces later, I still have not arrived.

Life certainly has changed since I began that list; I wish I could say that the tune of my heart is always a thankful one.  Instead, I can only say that I am still practicing gratitude each day.  But it has made a difference.  Weren't we commanded over and over again to give thanks?


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God"
Philippians 4:6

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it
with thanksgiving."
Colossians 4:2

"...give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
I Thessalonians 5:18

"For everything created by God is good,
and nothing is to be rejected if it is received
with thanksgiving."
I Timothy 4:4

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the perfect dress

There it was.

The.  Perfect.  Dress.

Three sizes too small.

The dress was discontinued, so there was no chance of ordering it in a different size.  The only option of buying that dress was buying it off the rack.  We held our breath as the sales clerk called the other stores in the state.  Perhaps, just perhaps, one of those stores held a matching dress in a different size.

No such luck.

There wasn't time to waste pining over "the dress that wasn't meant to be".  I tried on other dresses and went to other stores.  Eventually another dress was found.  It was more than I had hoped to pay and I wasn't completely confident in it, but it seemed like the best option.

Before settling on that dress, we decided to drive to the neighboring state, visiting several bridal stores in one afternoon.  The first stop was discouraging.  Was this trip even going to be worth it?  We prayed that we would find a dress and find it at a good price.


We walked into the second store hesitantly and explained that we didn't have an appointment.  The clerk was so gracious and kindly offered to help us anyway.  "Start looking, and pull out the dresses that you want to try on," she said, "I'll get a dressing room ready for you."

 We headed for the rows of white.  That's when she found it. 


 The.  Perfect.  Dress.

It was the same dress that we had liked at the other store.  Mom ecstatically called me over, but I was hesitant to get too excited.  It was still the wrong size.  "Just try it on!"  She encouraged, "You never know."  We continued browsing, calling each other over to look at dresses.  Soon I had four or five dresses and was being lead to the dressing room.

It was the first dress I tried on.  And surprisingly, it fit!  I walked out of the dressing room to survey the effect in the mirrors.  I turned my head from side to side, trying to see at all angles.

I loved it.

And...I soon discovered that it had pockets (one of the things I was hoping for in my wedding dress).

Wanting to be sure, I tried on the other dresses.  They were all pretty, but it was wasn't the same.  I looked at Mom.  "I think this is it."  Although she LOVED the dress, she was hesitant to say anything for fear of influencing me to pick something that I didn't like.  But that wasn't necessary.  I liked the dress on my own.  I didn't want to take it off to change into normal clothes.  It was one of the ridiculous moments that everyone talks about when you just know instinctively that this was the dress.  Honestly, I thought that was a silly, fictional moment that overly-emotional girls made up because they were trying to romanticize every detail of their wedding planning.  I guess I was wrong!

Standing in front of the mirror, I turned to ask the sales clerk the price.

"Well, its actually on a great sale."  She replied.

"How much?"

"$99"

"We'll take it!!!!"

Friday, May 27, 2011

the lies of old; the truth that is older still

God isn't truly good.

His plan isn't best.

I could do better on my own.

He demands too much.
I hear them again.  Those old lies keep popping up.  Those lies that are as old as this Earth.

In the beginning, it was good.

Yet in the beginning came the lies.  The sins came too.  Sins of ungratefulness.  pride.  self-sufficiency.  lack of trust.

Those same lies have been catching us all since the dawn of age.  One would think that the lies would change.  But why change when the old is working so well?

My own life bears witness.  

The old lies are still working.  Still making me doubt His goodness, still hindering my gratitude, still convincing me that I could do better on my own.

It seems hopeless.  If the lies have been working since the beginning, how can I find truth?

The old lies run deep.  But the Truth is deeper and older still.

I repeat it to myself, murmuring prayers for the day when "the Curse shall be no more" (Rev 22).  This long-awaited day will mark the final freedom from all of those lies.  It will signify the already-won victory.

That day seems far away.  For now, the lies seem louder and surer than the truth.

As I wait for that day I cling the ancient Truth.

As I wait for that day I accept my overflowing portion of grace.

I breathe.

And I allow the Truth to marinate into my soul, leaving it grace-stained.

Grace and Truth.
Together these will conquer the lies.

Grace and Truth.

Together these HAVE conquered the lies.


"And the Word became flesh,

and dwelt among us,

and we saw His glory,

glory as of the only begotten from the Father,

full of grace and truth."

John 1:14





Thursday, May 19, 2011

the greatest threat...

I am so quick to spot it in others.  Yet I fail to see it in my own life.

When it does become visible, I make excuses.

It's a fundamental attribute error.

What I am learning is that my selfishness is destructive.

It is destructive in many areas, but one in particular.

As I prepare for marriage I spend time reading, writing, thinking, praying.

I want to protect us from all that threatens so menacingly.

But there is something that I cannot shut out.

It cannot be wished away or ignored.
What I am learning is that I am the greatest threat to my marriage.

It is only when I stop shifting blame and accept responsibility for my actions that this becomes visible.

If I allow it, my selfishness has the potential to choke and suffocate my marriage.

I need Jesus today and always.

He chose selflessness and through Him, I too can have that choice.
It will not be easy.  In fact, it will be completely contrary to my human nature.

But if each and every day I accept His grace, I can (slowly, painfully, haltingly) learn to die to self.

After all, the Christian life is simply a chance to die.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mayo Clinic Trip - Summary

Here is a summary post of my time at Mayo Clinic.  I didn't end up posting about my appointments on Thursday and Friday, so I'll simply include those in here.  (Honestly, I'm kind of sick about posting about doctors and illness so this might be short - of course feel free to ask questions if I didn't answer something).

Friday provided a lot of answers and we were so happy!  We found out that I had correctly self diagnosed myself with an extremely, extremely rare illness.  It's not really a happy diagnosis, but there is something wonderful about finally having a name.  There is peace in having a name.

Overall we were very pleased with this trip to Mayo (our second trip).  It was an exhausting six days and we are still recovering, but it was worth it.  We received a lot of quality information for managing my primary illness as well as got medicine to help with my migraines.  And finally, we got an official diagnosis from an expert in a very, very rare illness.

We worked to maintain eyes for beauty and to express gratitude each day.  At times, Mayo seems so hopeless as there are suffering people all over the place.  It is easy to get fixated on getting well and on finding relief.  Yet I am reminded that more than needing a Healer for my body, I need a Healer for my heart.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mayo Clinic Trip - Day Four

8 appointments down, three to go!!

Today was lots of riding back and forth between buildings.  We started in Mayo, went to St. Marys, went back to Mayo and then ended at St. Marys.  Since I had 5 appointments today, we never even found time for lunch!

Yesterday was mostly focused on lifestyle changes.  Today was mostly focused on medication.  We met with one of my main doctors today and were SO happy with the appointment!  When we saw him in November, he hadn't left a very good impression.  I've been dreading this meeting with him.  But it was really helpful.  He was so kind and he showed that he had spent a lot of time thinking about my specific case.  That was a blessing.

I might post more later, but as for now, I'm wiped out.  :(

Daily Log:

Hours At Clinic:  8

Shuttle Rides: 5

Appointments: 5

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mayo Clinic Trip - The Little Things No One Tells You

1.  Your schedule can change daily (or hourly)
One doctor decides on Monday that you need to see two other doctors, so they just add those in on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The first day of this trip we had at least 4 different versions of our schedule (each time they change something, the nurse will print out an updated schedule).


2.  Shuttles can be awesome and also really annoying!
There are shuttles EVERYWHERE!  Shuttles from hotels to hospitals.  Shuttles from hospitals to other hospitals.  Shuttles from hospitals to Walmart.  ye-ah.  No kidding.  Shuttles are GREAT because they save you from parking and driving and walking.  They literally pick you up at the door of one building and drop you off at the door of the next building.  However, you need to remember to have a tip for the driver.  And you also need to be prepared to wait.  Some of the shuttles only come once an hour, so if you miss it, you'll be waiting for a while.

3.  You sit around and wait and wait and wait.  And then get up and ruuuuuuun to your next appointment.
Bring a book.  Or make up stories in your head about other patients.  Or read the bazillion magazines sitting around.  But whatever you do, savor those moments because before you know it you'll be off jumping on a shuttle or riding an elevator or something. 

4.  The elevators are SUPER fast.
It's true.  They give me headaches.  I have to mentally prepare for it.

5.  It's fascinating.

If you just have time to kill, there are lovely displays of artwork all over the Clinic and the hospital.  And it's practically a museum as they have displays about the founders of Mayo and St. Marys and more.

Mayo Clinic Trip - Day Three

It was day two of appointments!  Today was long - it was one appointment that lasted about 8 hours.  Thankfully they gave us lots of breaks, which was helpful.  It was an educational appointment and we got lots of helpful information and a great packet of information to take with us.  We shared the appointment with three other patients and their guests.  It was a bit discouraging at times to hear people talk about having this for 20+ years....  I tried to not think about that.  But we're glad that I'm getting this awesome information after only a couple years of pain, rather than after a couple decades.  (Side note:  they were all shocked to find out that I graduated college...they thought I was still in high school!!!).

We had an INCREDIBLE lunch in the St. Mary's cafeteria.  Whoever said that hospital food is gross clearly hasn't eaten here!!  We had Chevre Stuffed Portabella (a portabella mushroom stuffed with a yummy goat cheese/rice mixture and topped with a delicious pesto sauce).  On the side we had steamed spinach (my favorite) and a freshly baked roll.  :)

We finished about 4:30pm and spent a little time exploring Rochester and doing a little shopping.  It is nice to see something other than a hospital (even though these are the loveliest hospitals I've ever seen).  I'm ready to head to bed because I am TIRED.  Tomorrow is another long day where we will be jumping shuttles to race back and forth between buildings all day long.  Thank you for the encouragement you send...it means so much and I appreciate it.

Daily Log:

Hours At Clinic: 9.5 hours

Shuttle Rides: 2

Appointments: 1
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