Sunday, October 12, 2014

Unplugged

Hospital stay, Day 5

I was unplugged today.  The telemetry came off, and Mike walked me down the halls of the hospital with my apprehensive posture.  Babying my heart catheter and coddling my right arm iv line, I was somewhere between Red (from Shawshank Redemption) "institutionalized" even when getting out of jail; Nemo, sad about his tiny fin; and Rapunzel, feeling grass for the first time.  There is a de-conditioning that envelopes you when you get admitted to the hospital, so putting on regular clothes was a step towards regaining humanity and starting to live again, and I was very grateful.  Getting the 5 telemetry stickers off and unplugging, walking away in sneakers, sans the yellow hospital slipper-socks, was a sure bonus to my day and week.

The largest lesson I learned today was that my emotions, anxiety, thoughts, company, and food choices all grossly affect the rate at which my heart beats and my blood pressure.  I got out of bed and brushed my teeth, powdered my nose for the day, and it crawled up to the 90's.  My adorable and supportive friend Stephanie made pumpkin pie bars, and with each bite, my heart rate increased 10-15 bpm, then settled back down again to my normal 80 bpm.   As I was tempted to bitterness and anger, it skyrocketed to 150 bpm!  Nurses came running in and checking on me.  It was such a silent contemplation of anger, that it was as if a microscope was on my thought process, and the LED screens on the unit projected my thoughts.  It was bad enough that I was angry, but come on, "Get out of my head, you people!" 

We are called to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  We are taught to forgive 7 x 70 times.  The Word of God says that God "will remove our transgressions from us, as far as the east is from the west," and yet we skip along to beats of anger, discontentment, frustration and anxiety as if it will be a feast for our soul, clinging to them.  We hide them in the pockets of our mind as if they don't effect anything.  It not only feeds our soul garbage, but seems to deplete our physical health!  It grates on us and tears us down.  Who would have known that how we think of others and our circumstances is likely to drive us into a situation where, if we had been on telemetry, the bells would sound. 

Well, today proved to me that these situations can negatively effects our whole body.  If our body really is a temple of the Holy Spirit, our helper left to us by the Living God of the universe, and we are ticking along, habitually harboring offense, slander, no matter how silent, our physical heart is affected and could potentially tell all.  Clearly, something that the Lord already knows! And, it makes me pause.  How selfish am I?  My goodness, where did my goodness go? 

I was thoroughly embarrassed that I had to tell the nurses that I was just upset about something and "being emotional." After coming in 3 times for heightened vital signs, machines dinging and binging, and flashing bright lights to alarm everyone in the Neuroscience ICU that I am contemplating things that are not fruits of the Spirit, this opened the door for them to continually ask if I was "okay," and for me to realize how broken I am. 

The tug between the flesh and the spirit are clearer to me now.  I reflexively listened to the book of Ephesians and Philippians, frantically trying to get these thoughts away from me.  I called and texted my best friends and continued down my little paths of thought.  Thankfully, by resting and praying, Mike counseling me, I was guided to put to rest my anger and upset-ness.  Not only because we are called to do it, but with the added long and short term negative effects on the body.  Our only, one body given to us for this short time on earth to steward, care for, and use to the best of our ability.  This baseline makes it a bit easier to tolerate having a heart catheter rubbing against my collarbone, and multiple day hospital stay.  If it would have taken me a lifetime to learn these lessons without a hospital admission, I would much rather the hospital stay and be discharged having learned. 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17 ESV

~Honey bunch is on his way to me, so I'm pretty sure my heart skipped a beat. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Counters and Tables vs. Walls and Doors

I have been reminded in this season that our horizontal relationships need to be cleaned exceptionally more frequently than our vertical ones.  Unless someone pulls a crayon attack on your walls, I doubt you are scrubbing away, the way you clean your table after a meal or your desk at the end of the work day.  A failure to clean, will allow buildup of clutter and/or dust and crumbs on the horizontal spaces, but it rarely builds on the walls without a conscious deliberate work of defilement. 

We had three strategically placed tiny green x's right by our kitchen door to the garage.  One on the light switch, one on the wall, and one on the molding.  It took someone rather intentional, to have a green crayon in hand, and look around at the clean beige walls, and letting a desire of making their mark become a reality, officially make his or her mark. My response is,  "Grrr.  Who did this!?"

And there's the powder room.  I realize we are fortunate to have a powder room, but unfortunately, there is a lightly penciled "A," ironically reminiscent of an anarchy symbol gracing the wall, right at eye level while sitting and doing your business.  The walls do not, in of themselves, become dirty.  They take invasion, they are only dirtied by the encroaching spider spooling it's web or the passing sticky finger. 

I would venture to say that I am exceedingly grateful that our vertical surfaces reflect what I believe to be the relationship with God and man, in it's original design.  Peace beyond understanding without spoil or dust, until, an invasion came.  The invasion of the serpent into our lives, and our deceit drew us to spoil our gardens of eden and the original garden itself.  After thousands of generations and atonement made over and over through animal sacrifice and significant priests, to cleanse the relationship with God and man, over and over, there then came a great High Priest.  Through the great High Priest's sacrifice of His life, we are cleansed and seen in right standing with God.   The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that lives in us, as walking temples of the Holy Spirit.  Take heart, the serpent's head has been crushed.  We are in good standing!

If we do not reject this truth, we will always be in right standing with God, because of the price paid on the cross, and the power in the resurrection.  But I can easily walk around with a little crayon in my mind, and start drawing things that would deceive me into thinking that this peace and right-standing is not true.  I can easily begin to draw little pictures of what I would have, could have, and maybe will have control of here or there, if I act or accomplish a certain thing.  I am aware of these lies, and need to speak the truth to myself.  Although many things appear to need cleaning on the horizontal surfaces, knowing that I am in right-standing with my vertical relationship, I can be sure that my roof will not crumble.  When fully distracted by spoil within relationships with any fellow men or women, I can deceive myself into thinking that the vertical walls have crumbled, are filthy, or are not there.  Let's steer away from this deceit and draw our eye up, from floor to ceiling, rather than across.  

Thankfully, when our walls are clear and we are unspoiled before the eyes of God, we have a constant help to heal and restore, bless and be patient with the people around us.  It takes our effort, and you may think it is our effort that put us in right standing.  It is not.  It takes our effort to remind ourselves that we ARE in right standing.  The work of erasing crayon and anarchy symbols has already been done, and no walls were damaged in the process.  

Can you encourage your soul today, speak truth and let go of your green crayon?  I will work at it also. There is an excerpt from lamentations that is helpful, when your counters are "crumbling" and you think it's your walls, 

my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:17-24, ESV)


Can we get away from our soul remembering all of our affliction, the wormwood, the clutter, the hurtful things people have said? I love the "but" 2/3 of the way through the excerpt from Lamentations. Call truth to mind, and in turn, your soul will respond well.  You will be in peace mentally, and reminded that you already are in peace with the most important relationship you have, your very own Creator.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

An Extra Pump of Chai

My days have been filled with an extra pumps of Chai.  Have you experienced a Chai Latte at Starbucks? Usually, the spices bite the back of your mouth, and about where your molars meet your tongue the sensation lingers beyond each sip.  Last week I had a Chai Latte, and it was mild, like a cup of warm milk with a subtle taste of the exotic spices.  Today, while explaining what I was looking for in the Chai Latte to Jack Fritz, the kind and well articulated barista at Starbucks this morning, he recommended an extra pump of Chai.  It was fantastic.  

Have you done this to your days lately? 

As my limits of what can be accomplished in a day or a week are stretched, with all the complexities of spice found in my latte, it also brings an awareness of the necessity for a quiet soul and a content-with-to-do list posture.  

We bought a house!  We are not in it yet, so it seems a bit surreal.  Then again, weekly as we go in to assess and plan the spaces, my excitement builds.  At the same time as we are planning this new abode, they are building a house behind the current house we are renting.  When one moves into a new space, you don't necessarily think of the hole made for the foundation, the layers of gravel beneath the basement floor, the buried wires, the puzzle mold made for the concrete foundation and the thick black waterproofing nestled between the dirt and molded concrete.  We have the opportunity to witness, first hand, the building of a house.  A fantastic reminder for me to look beyond the hard wood floors and finished rooms at where it all really came from, and to learn the roots.  The reality of what is really holding things up.  

I really love the moving process.  I like the streamlining, the purging, the planning, the delegating, the idea that we are preparing a space for our family to live day to day.  We are preparing a space to serve family and people.  Rooms to make available to be filled with music and worship, hopefully a glimmer into what heaven will be like.  

There is the "being busy"mentality to be a bit careful of.  We spoke with some friends recently about being so busy on purpose, by looking to fill our time with some quick thing.  Like searching for cheaper car insurance on our lunch break, or surfing down Facebook to see what everyone else is doing when we have a quiet minute.   Then, in our effort to create our own happiness by "keeping busy," we realize hours have gone by and we are not fulfilled.  More, more, we generally want more.  As Pinkalicious would put it, "Just one more cupcake?! Just one more!"  We would hope that looking back at a successful day would produce an inner pride that we have accomplished, every moment that we could, and we saw all that we had made and done, and it was good.  Does that moment ever really come?  If my soul is loud and in turmoil, I would turn towards the few moments of wasted time, and beat myself up mentally for not accomplishing what I thought I could have.  

The other side of the coin is to manipulate your moments for a real break.  The similar attitude you get when you ask someone at a department store for help, and it turns out they are "on break."  "Sir, where can I find the lightbulbs?" And the response, "Sorry, I'm on break so I can't help you right now."  Sometimes we over cherish our moments of break, not to be recharged and refreshed by any sort of substantial rest, but to deceive ourselves into thinking our afternoon filled with thrill rides or football, or video games or pintrest-ing will give us rest.  Have you been rested after searching online for a pair of slippers only to find yourself looking at what your 2nd cousin across the country is doing on Facebook? Thinking it would bring me rest, these things have fallen short of joy.

So I'll bring it back home.  

I'm preparing the planning for this new home. Binders and emails, phone calls and texts.  Is my heart stilled?  Am I building up the people I am working with in the process? Am I neglecting my own vineyard in the process?  

I have a resource for the loud soul, or the one whose heart is in turmoil over getting things done and being enveloped in business.  Here is a great audio sermon on the subject, it spoke volumes to me last week.
http://www.sgclouisville.org/sovereign-grace-church-louisville-sermons/sermon/2013-08-11/the-quiet-soul---psalm-131---c-j--mahaney

Here are a few books for the complacent soul.  The "sit back and watch it happen and not get too involved" clan.  You want to be careful not to extend yourself too much, and "oh, that retirement is looking mighty f-i-n-e!" 
Rescuing Ambition -Dave Harvey
Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper

And then my ground, of where I am now.  I was sick for a while.  A good chunk of David's infancy, he's now 3 years old now and the myasthenia gravis is well managed.  I let go of many things, some of which are singing, playing violin, playing piano, walking, talking, and teaching.  Where am I now?  Lamenting of that season?  No, although there was a grieving time for that.  Now, realizing, I have these abilities back, a miraculous gift from God through the vehicles of doctors, surgeons, medicine, and medical research.  For me, it used to be a feat to sit up in bed and pull my socks on.  Please don't let a major illness wake you up to knowing you can do and be so much more than your mind is allowing you to be.  As my husband texted me last week while I was lamenting a circumstance and dwelling on it,  I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).  

It is not by the power of my to do list or the amount of hours sleep I got last night, that I am deeming myself a conqueror.  I have the presence and power of an almighty God who created me using the same wisdom and brilliance as he created the land we live in.  The fascinating sun rays that will sneak into our kitchen window each morning, and settle on our dining room in the evenings.  The same hands that hold the storehouses of rain to beat upon our new roof have fashioned our gifts and our abilities to be used for His glory.   I should turn, reach up to the skies with open hands and say, thank you, Lord, use my gifts as you will.  I will not be self conscious in the gifts you have given me.  As violin professor, Arnold Grossi left me with the words, "don't be afraid to show people that you are good." (at piano in that context)  Come on people, show the world what gifts you have and it may just inspire those around you. 

So, call me "busy."  Call me, "crazy, amazing, over-scheduled." If i'm not sure to direct your accolades back to the Giver of gifts, please remind me.

In the midst of cultivating your gifts and sharing them, you can find true peace in one place, the words of Jesus.  "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

My chai latte may have an extra pump of chai, but the foundation is mainly milk. I ordered it, skinny, skim milk, to be exact.  How are your days lining up?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Checking Pockets

While sorting through fresh pile laundry, I noticed a little midnight blue splotch here and there.  As I pull up more and more clothes to fold, there is not just a little splotch here and there, but streaks, huge splotches, whole white toddler collars turned to a tie-died blue-fest.  My C Wonder shirt that I wear weekly no longer has crisp thin navy lines over white, but blue and white meddled together as if to portray an overcast day's sky.  Now, rather than pulling for clothes to fold, I'm digging for the culprit while I intermittently spew out questions.  "Was there anything in your pocket from school this week? Did you happen to stick a crayon in your pocket?  Or one of those gel writers? Do you remember putting anything in your pocket? What could this be?"  The response is a stream of "no. no. no." Then, as if clarity hit, "Mommy, maybe a long, long time ago someone had something in their pocket and you forgot to check the pocket and then you washed it and it got all over the clothes."  

I found the skinny green jeans inside out, with the clear location of the culprit.  Maybe it was the indigo colored pocket fabric that gave it away, stiff and almost glued together.  No wrappers or plastic tubes though.  Must have been an unwrapped crayon.  Although this seems bad, this is nothing like the teal play-doh in the dryer last month.  

I should now know to check pockets.  Check pants pockets before the wash, check coat pockets before leaving a store, nooks, crannies and behind couches for chewed snuck gum. Check. Check. Check.

My moment of pride was shattered as I thought back to this morning when I diligently put the wash in at 6:30am according to schedule (which to do this daily is a new habit I'm working on).  What a wonderful housewife am I?  All shot down with the questions, "what good is washing clothes in a sea of soap only to be blotched up by some hidden midnight-blue intruder? Or could it have been the heat of the dryer that really mucked up the load?  Maybe the crayon or gel stick would have been in tact if not put into the spinning heat."  

So it seems with so much of my sin.  A hint of discontentment here and a bit of anger there, and when put in the hot circular circumstances of the day, oh, to the surface they rise infecting the whole household, everyone in earshot at the grocery store, and the other drivers on the road.  Look out, I'm on the offense, and I don't even know why.  I need to check my own pockets. The pockets of my mind where meditation sits and puts up its feet.  

Am I meditating on:
"I am the best and I am amazing.  I've got this one, as long as those other people stay out of my way and play by my rules.  It would just make things a lot easier." 

OR 

"You know, San Juan is nice this time of year.  Sunny, warm beaches, zero stress, and a significant break from these ordinary times." 

OR

"We have clothes to fold, crayons to play with, a 2nd floor laundry room, and if all else fails and we have to get a few extra shirts, not a big deal.  So grateful.  We have more than enough." 

OR in deep pockets

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
(Colossians 3:12-15 ESV)

OR in even deeper pockets

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)

I feel like I can be living this outwardly wonderful life, charming and flattering, and all the while having a blue crayon tucked deep in my mind.  Some would call me a "slow burn," some would call it a way of being.  Many would say, that's just how they are.  But rest assured, the Lord will be able to help me and you find our blue crayons, whatever we may call them.  Not only can He reveal what they are and where they are, but He can draw you to freedom and blot out all the old stains.  The old will be made new, the stains will be gone, and the same God who laid the foundations of the earth will set you on new foundations and remove all hints of transgressions.  “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires" (Isaiah 54:11ESV) and "as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12 ESV)

Be encouraged.  Reading through this, I am encouraged to focus on the hope, the promises made of old, which are same promises yesterday, today, and always.  There are many, many more, and we can only benefit from stuffing our pockets with them.  

Maybe now God will give me insight into the vaseline body painting expedition.  Too much for one day.  :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vision

video

This is my kind of vision.  There is nothing like a two year old wanting to jump on the moon.  Vision for it, that it will happen and what he will do once he gets there. "Go on roller coaster then fall down on the grass.  Then fall down on the grass.  I go be right back.  I'll be right back."

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16 ESV
I am habitually turning off our outside lights each morning.  Their insignificant glow looks like a waste as soon as the sun rises.

Can you envision this?

The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. Revelation 21:18-26 ESV

What is your vision today?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Inside Out

Have you been reading your clothing care labels carefully?  Many that I have come across recently have said, "Wash garment inside out. Gentle, cold water, with like colors.  Low heat in the dryer." I can understand this for the printed tees and the beaded tops, but the basic shirts and pajamas for the kids, I'm kind of tired of turning them inside out, then right-side out, only to be turned inside out again.  Who knows the reasons for this, but since I am still learning about doing laundry properly, I read all these things and follow along.

I have a few bad habits, and those who know me well already know some of them, hopefully not too many!  One really bad habit is when we come in from somewhere, a vacation, day trip, outing, I have this bag from the day and I dread unpacking it.  The most embarrassing thing is when I totally forget about it, and find it when I need the bag again.
"Where's the sunscreen?"  Oh, it's in the brown bag that we took to the park last week.
"Where's the bug spray?" Oh, it's in the green bag from when we went to fire works on the 4th of July.

This is a terrible habit. There is still a huge tote bag packed that we forgot to bring on vacation and now we have been back for a week or so, and it is still full.  I remember to do it when I'm about to crash into bed or run out the door.  It's just sitting there staring at me in my distant memory, after I walk by it.  Then I think about it as I'm on my way back to the house or up the stairs, and something inevitably happens, or at worst, I don't feel like doing it the moment I am thinking of it and with it at the same time.  As I'm typing this, Mike and I are sitting on our back porch, and a couple walking past us kindly mentions, "You forgot your popper on the sidewalk."  You know, the fisher price plastic popper that kids push around.  Yes, on our sidewalk of our house, right by the fourth pillar, a forgotten popper. She is right, I forgot.  Of course, I immediately spring up and rescue the forgotten thing.

Another area where I have had to do some unpacking has to do with food labels.  David has quite a few food allergies, so I am on the look out to avoid milk, casein (a milk protein), peanuts, egg whites, and anything that is made in a facility that processes peanuts.  Well, during my "ingredient stare," I have noticed that so many foods I would normally buy (such as Doritos, dumplings, broths, canned soup, salad dressings, bouillon cubes, and seasoning packets) contain MSG (monosodium glutamate), and children's vitamins that contain aspartame.  It just doesn't seem right to give my family these hidden ingredients.  In my new-found quest to avoid these, I have found a few supplements that I never would have sought out, such as Better than Bouillon, Brianna's Salad Dressings, and Gummy Vites.  I also started making homemade breads and soups, my own seasonings, and I'm still trying out new things.

In the depths of our hearts, we have these unpacked bags--sin, emotion, thought, etc.  We have a little stash here and a little stash there, cluttering us up and making it difficult to have peace.  It may not be the specific "item in the bag" that robs us of peace, but just the anxiety of being aware there is a "bag" in the first place.  In the case of my physical tote bag, I would be much better off if, when done using it, I just dumped it out.  The pile of random stuff may be much harder to look at than some neatly packed bag, but the items in there need to be addressed and put away.  Attempting to avoid this task eventually leads to more anxiety when I'm left with a set of bags lined up against the wall with random stuff shoved in each one.

Likewise, our thoughts are often like containers of processed food.  If we don't look at them too closely, we won't see the sin found inside; we think in foolish pride that maybe if we don't look it just doesn't exist.  Maybe we won't really be "giving our kids aspartame or MSG" if we don't read the label of what's inside.  Even though we become aware of these ingredients in real food,  many times in the name of convenience, we still sometimes neglect to read labels.  How many times do we continue to eat the "MSG" of hidden sin--even knowing better--simply out of lack of vigilance?  

We are going through an excellent devotional book with the children each morning, and this week we looked at king David handing over the reign to his son Solomon.  David gave Solomon a blessing, here is an excerpt:

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. 1 Chronicles 28:9 ESV
Every plan and thought?  Searches all hearts?  Even my unpacked bags in the very depths? Even my plans that when you get to the bottom line aren't very God honoring?  Could this even be true when there is something seemingly healthy, like a vitamin, but it contains an unhealthy, potentially dangerous ingredient? Do I have plans such as these? Yes. Now that I am aware of many crumbs and grains of sand in the bottom of my unpacked bags, and that the Lord also knows them, and then some.  Eeek.  That should give me a kick in the butt to start unpacking, turning clothes inside out and to read labels.

But He also understands.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:8-13 ESV

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 
I think I'll start unpacking a bit today.

Monday, August 6, 2012

We're Here

You know the time of day when your bare feet and fingers are free from restriction and adornment, and subdued time reigns? You can breath a little deeper, you are used to the noises, and which seats have the best lighting and the best views of what's going on.

We are here.

It has taken over a month physically and mentally, emotionally and logistically to get here and call it "settled in."  We were welcomed with open arms to our potentially new church, and I have already met with about 5 moms for play dates and park expeditions at the local "Castle Park," as Naomi aptly named it.  We even had people over for dinners and desserts, which is never perfect with lots of little ones, but always entertaining.  I think the record so far was 7 kids and 5 adults over for David's 2nd birthday.  After a birthday morning of me feeling heart-wrenched that no one was here to celebrate with us, we had a house full by evening.  God supplies with more than we need, even when in a seemingly foreign land.

Mike has officially moved away from a physician-in-training to a real physician.  With more prestige comes more responsibility, more patients with more complex problems, and a new form of training in its own way.  It seems that they really needed him here, along with the other physician they hired.  Apparently his first week of office patients was scheduled in 10 minutes.  He has sent several patients to the hospital because they came to his office so ill, and has completed procedures he never tried in training.  He is gifted at his work and is seeing the excellent training come to play, day to day.  I have not witnessed his heart of gratitude for his skills, and seen them used so thoroughly until this transition.  It has only been a month, so I'm sure he will only grow more into a better and better doctor.

For me, I am enjoying the the florescent amber sun when it sets through my new kitchen windows every evening, and seeing the moon in the mornings tuck itself back behind the trees.  Cooking on a gas stove and having central air are real treats.  Mike likes coming into the kitchen and seeing the flame hug the bottom of my pans, he says it looks like a chef show. We should probably call it the trial-by-fire show, as I am still getting used to the home-maker housewife gig with little ones in tow.  The first week Mike went back to work was terrible.  The second better, and the third even better.  It is a lot more fun now that the kids are walking and talking, and we can have conversations over meals.  

We were fit enough as a household to take a nice family tour this weekend, visiting our favorite part of the country, our families in New Jersey.  We get a lot of smack about being from NJ, something about having to pay to leave the state, but we don't care.  It's still our favorite.  It was a wonderful time and we got to be with just about everyone.  (We missed you, Oma!)  The children are privileged to have 4 great grandparents, and we were fortunate to get to see the three on Mike's side of the family.

It was refreshing to be around people and places so familiar.  I kept thinking and saying, "It's so familiar, everything is so familiar."  When David saw his only 1st cousin, he and she looked smitten;  as if they were saying, "where have you been all my life? finally, we meet! let's play!"  It brought tears my eyes to see how adorably they played together; I think to Noni's eyes, too.

Today is the first day Mike is on call, so we'll see how that goes.  Will it be phone calls throughout the night or a night in the hospital?  We don't know, but will find out soon.  They were gracious to give him the morning off on the days he is on call, so we were able to have a family breakfast and lunch together.  As it struck noon though, his phone started ringing already!  I hope that's not a sign of a strenuous night.  If it is, though, you know his work is well needed even more so.  That's why we're here, and it will give the kids and I more reasons to pray, specifically for him and his patients.

If we left you or moved farther away, we send lots of love and greetings! As soon as I find our address book, we'll get the moving cards in the mail.  As I said, I'm still learning this gig.  But that's a good thing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Graduation Dinner

After missing the road to turn right on while chatting with cousin Jamie, I made it up St. David's Road to the correct golf course.  The triangular entrance greeted me abruptly, and I slowed down which seemed to be the only way to fit in on the windy road to the main building, beyond the impressive line of trees.  The small grass landing before the building had about seven well-outfitted children each being taught privately, swinging at golf balls along straight lines, being instructed, or calmly observing.  As I saw the parking lot far off to the left, I followed the valet signs around to the main door, exchanged the ticket for my car and walked confidently up the stone steps.

Once I found the room with the Cardiology group, I ran into Mike's program director and he introduced me to a well respected doctor who will be joining the company Mike is graduating from.  The program director was pleased to see me and very complimentary, since he knows all about my Myasthenia Gravis condition, especially since his father had the same disease.  His father lived into his 90's, and took mestinon right up until he passed away.  He seemed relieved to see me there and looking well.  That was wonderful.

I decided to ditch the structured black interview dress, and pull out the new maxi dress that Amanda got me for my birthday.  It was floor length, teal with some abstract wide stripes and a beaded waistband, and I wore a pair of Guess wedges.  The wedges were surprisingly comfortable for how high they were!  My necklace was a tear shaped gold pendant with an emerald gem in the middle (a birthday present from Mike a while back), and dangly earrings I got from Dad for Christmas. I had my makeup on by 5:30 just as the babysitter came to the door.  A highlight of putting my makeup on was how the children wanted some on their faces, and were intrigued by every twisty bottle and stick.  A dab of mascara on their noses was too cute to pass up and fulfilled their "I want some" and "what's that?" comments and questions.

These types of dinners are generally a nice cocktail hour with floating waitstaff and open bar and then a formal dinner.  There is a lot of smiling and talking, and greeting and maneuvering drink and appetizer from one hand to another, always ready for a handshake or friendly hug. My friends Musowa and Lori said they would pray for me that I would be able to speak and eat well during the night.  My function during the evening was spot on.  I didn't have any trouble talking with anyone or smiling for pictures, or seeing through the camera lens or anything!  I can't remember the last time I was at a party, dinner, or function with a lot of talking that I didn't have a problem swallowing or talking over dinner.  Thanks for the prayers, Musowa and Lori!

After our strawberry and mixed green salad, dotted with blue cheese crumbles and berry vinaigrette dressing, the charger and salad plates were removed.  Our conversation swayed from child raising to practicing medicine and from how long trainees have left to where the graduates are all going to work.  Our conversations were eventually accompanied by a plate of filet mignon with a thin gravy paired with a honey glazed salmon, the plate finished off with some mixed vegetables and roasted potatoes.  The highlight of each dish was the purple and white orchid, which kind of smiled back at you as you waited for everyone to receive their main course.

Like clockwork, the dinner plates were removed as we reclined from our plates and the coffee parade came out.  Decaf or regular, and a wedge of tart with chocolate drizzle and fresh berries.  The crust was the best.  I forgot how much I like fruit tarts.  As in past years, as the dessert and coffee is being served, the program begins.  The head of the cardiology education department gives an inspirational glimpse into doctoring, and pursuing excellence in practice and academia.  He then introduces the general cardiology program director, whom Mike graduated with last year.  Then, the specialist program directors, Interventional and Electrophysiology.  Mike was the Electrophysiology graduate this year, and his program director finally took the podium and spoke.  He didn't talk much of where Mike was going, but about his smarts and intellectual curiosity, which in turn made he himself a better doctor.  After a very complimentary discourse, Mike took the stage and received his final diploma. Handshakes, smiles and pictures.

There you have it, the final graduation.  After all the pomp and questions about where we're going and if we are excited about it, we both realized it hasn't settled in that we are moving. On Wednesday the movers come and will pack us up, and on Thursday move us away and unpack us.  We have been surrounded and in fellowship with friends and family for the last few weeks, which has helped tremendously combat the lonely nature of moving.  June was kicked off with a BBQ hosted by our community groups from our church.  There must have been over 80 people there.  We were thoroughly blessed and encouraged.  Friends of ours took turns speaking into our lives, sharing memories, encouraging us, or reading Scripture.  We had a time of prayer at the end where several people prayed for us.

Within one of the prayers, there was a prophetic word that someone gave, and this also happened later in the month at a different meeting, the same word by a different people at two different times.  Kayte and Rachel both had a picture in their mind of us meeting a young family with children just Naomi and David's age.  Rachel specifically said, ages 2 and 5.  A few days after Rachel said these things, I received an email from a young mom who lives out where we are moving, from the church we will be going to.  She is coming over next Friday with her three children, bringing a snack, and willing to help in any way and visit.  Her children are 6 1/2 (a girl),  and two boys, 5 and 2.  How kind of God to give his Holy Spirit as a helper to us, and the gift of prophecy to build up the body of Christ.  We were definitely built up by this word.

As we recline tonight, and will awake to a slightly emptied dining and living room, we are more aware of the gifts God has entrusted us with during our lives thus far.  Everyone speaks about how fast time goes, and how quickly children mature into adults.  It becomes more vivid the quickness of life when you start saying goodbye to people whom you may not see again, and packing up and letting go in a hopefully balanced fashion.  I can wrap my mind around a few more days here near Philadelphia, but how amazing that the Lord can wrap His mind around all of our days.  Ordering our steps, blessing us with victories, graduations, and loved ones.  Much more than we deserve.

It is our hope

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 glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:17-21 ESV) 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The White Coat

Mike started medical school with a white coat ceremony.  I wasn't able to attend, but his parents were there to see him receive a waist length white coat, defining a medical student, not quite a doc yet.  As med school came to a close, graduation, then moving to PA, it was an honor to begin residency with a long white coat.

Now try ironing the thing, because as the training continued, for the next seven years, the laundry service did not cater to trainees and their stiff 100% cotton long white coats.

Well, the other day, I needed to iron Mike's white coat for a photo shoot for his new job.  The photographer even stated in an e-mail that Mike should come to the photo shoot with the "coat ironed."  This was not easy.  I'm not very skilled at this sort of thing anyway, but knowing that this particular white coat could be in a picture that is blown up to billboard size, I better start taking this ironing seriously.   So, a pinky length wrinkle could be like 10 feet long.  Lovely.  Pressure's on.

We are doing a study in the Gospel of John in our church, and I am attempting to be excited about it, but it is hard for me.  I really like it when the sermons have to do with life application, how I can be better, how I can handle my role in the family better, and how I can see situations better.  Basically, life applications for the betterment of myself and my family, and as a member of the kingdom of God.

The Gospel of John is a clear picture of who Jesus was and is; His relationships, His declarations, prophecy fulfillment, painted imagery of all He represents and has come to be; the great "I am."  How could I not be excited about such an in depth study?

The same way that I am not excited about this coat that I ironed being blown up on a huge billboard.   I know I am limited, and not perfect, and will leave a few pinky length wrinkles that the photographer will have to photo-shop out.  I know that I need to improve and be refined like silver and gold, and precious gems, until I am called to heaven as His spotless bride, without wrinkle or blemish.  But, to imagine something sturdy and white, without wrinkle made of purity, actually living, seems impossible.

But let's just get real for a minute.  I like fixing my eyes on my wrinkles, because altering some mannerism can smooth a few out. Who am I kidding? I will never be able to steam out my wrinkles enough to be perfect!  I will never be able to take something meant to be pure and make it so.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14 ESV
He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. Revelation 19:13-14 ESV

I need to fix my eyes on Jesus, the de-wrinkler of my life and perfecter of my faith, and the book of John is making me do that. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Moving a Tree

My friend Christine has had an apt word for me many times, always at prime times in my life.  I am so fortunate to be around many edifying friends and family, who have good counsel at perfect times.  I have been thinking about Christine's text from a few months back.  It was just as we were settling into the idea that we will almost definitely be moving.  So here's her text and how I'm applying it.

Jo, I believe God would want you to watch a video about how a tree is moved from one place to another.

Ok.

This is planting a tree from a pot:


This is moving a tree from one spot to another.



Could it really be, that God has gone ahead of us to our new location, and prepared a place for us to grow into?

Could it really be, that it hurts the tree a bit in the short term to run a blade through the outer lining of it's root ball, cutting the roots (some spiraling)?

Is it true, that the roots of the tree only branch out as far as the leaves and branches?

When the tree is in its new home, is it not fully saturated with water?

In the example of a potted tree, a dike or moat is put in place, barricading the water, ensuring it doesn't go anywhere else except to quench the tree.  Is this really possible that God would do all of these things for our little family as we establish our roots in a new location, keeping us from thirsting and drying out?

Yes.

I hold a deep confidence and peace that these things will all happen, or have already happened.  I can feel the pull and cuts of a few of the roots already, one being my good friend who will be away this week throughout the summer.  We live across the street form each other, and the past 3 years, whenever we are both outside with the kids, it is an instant play-date and conversation.  What a great friend. We had many shared family meals, birthday parties, and games together.  Maria popped in last night to say, "goodbye."  

Ouch.

I am not looking forward to the next few months of tugging and clipping, but, oh, that refreshing water to look forward to. To be saturated with water until our new growth of roots branch out into new native soil.  I can't wait.


“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, 
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit."
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

On a life-long note, this alludes to the only Living Water.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  (John 7:37-38 ESV)
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16-17 ESV)