Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Untitled (Written 4/29/09)

This past Sunday was my normal weekend at work, but I was put on-call and allowed to go to church. Which is something that has never happened to me in the four years I've been working there.

I should have known there was a reason God wanted me to hear the message Sunday. I just wish the personal application piece could have been avoided.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, we've been going through a series at church on the theology of suffering focusing on David's life. This past Sunday we looked at some very difficult questions involving suffering. One of the points that really stood out to me during the sermon was how suffering allows us to know God more fully. If we never were without, we would not know God as our provider. If we never needed comfort, we would not know God as our comforter. So on and so forth.

I believe I have the awesome privilege of being used by God in my profession to both help bring life into the world and prolong life from leaving the world. In my experience with death, it often felt to me as if I had no part in helping God, but that I was simply able to witness and be reminded once again that God is in control.

I think now the better description for what I do could be termed "wrestling with God".

Jacob wrestled with God. The deceiving con-artist went up against God and won, taking only the small souvenir of a dislocated hip. And he was rewarded with a new name and being the father of God's chosen people.

Yesterday I wrestled with God and a life hangs in the balance.

In my profession, loss of life in unexpected. I witness again and again life being brought forth, new life being born. When life is suddenly lost, or even expectantly lost, it is a tragedy. But even as suffering allows us to know God more fully, loss of life allows us to appreciate life more. And infinitely more when you are allowed to be a part of the loss.

How can we truly value the preciousness of life if we have not been directly impacted by its loss? How can we expect others to value life as we do, if they themselves have not experienced loss?

Yesterday I was reminded, yet again, of how fragile and precious life is, and how God is always in control. Even when I think I can, like Jacob, win.

Worthy are YOU, O Lord.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Organic" is a grocery term meaning "twice as expensive".

And "Gluten-free" means "three times as expensive".

This new diet is wrecking my grocery budget. I'm feeling very guilty after my adventures in the grocery store today. Darn that Dave Ramsey; he's taken all the pleasure of shopping away from me!

My new goal is to figure out how I can feed Jim and I organically and gluten-free AND stay within my grocery budget. Can it be done? We'll see!

I'm hoping it can be done. Otherwise Jim and I will be getting even skinnier.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

That's what the wood plaque in my friend Jackie's kitchen says. I love that plaque because a) it's red (which is my favorite color) and b) it's been a good reminder for me, often when I need it the most. Kind of like the sermon this past Sunday.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my church is doing a read-through of the Bible chronologically in a year. Currently we are working our way through the life of David. One of the wonderful things about reading the Bible chronologically is that many of the Psalms David wrote are interdispersed through the readings of his life's events. It adds so much more meaning to the Psalms to know what was going on in David's life when he wrote them. Time and time again, we see David suffering, having multiple attempts on his life by the king, being exiled from his country and separated from his wife, family and best friend, being pursued by armies and captured by enemies... Well, you get the picture. Things were not good for David. Yet the Psalms written during these events poured out gratitude, praise and adoration to God. I loved how our pastor put it Sunday morning: what an amazing God David served, to inspire such love and adoration despite such suffering.

I have to admit by the end of the sermon Sunday I was feeling very ashamed. First of all, because instead of being right on target with my Bible reading, I'm still stuck in Numbers (who gets hung up in Numbers? Seriously!) . But mostly I felt ashamed because of my attitude these past few months.

One of the things I like most about this blog and hate most at the same is the vulnerability it causes. Every now and then I spill my guts on this thing and it's there for the whole world to see, whether it be good, bad, or just plain ugly. Lately my blog entries have been falling into the ugly category. Jim and I have both experienced some major changes over the past few months, and I have not been entirely pleased with all of them. OK, maybe that was an understatement. The point is, my "sufferings" are embarrassingly small in comparison with suffering like David faced and look how he reacted. I have spent the past few months grumbling and complaining to anyone who will listen, and David sang out psalm after psalm of gratitude and love to his God.

I am thankful to serve a God who is holy, perfect, and just. I am even more thankful that He loves me, and has chosen to reveal His truth to me. I am incredibly thankful that He loved me enough to sacrifice His perfect son as atonement for my sin. I am so thankful that even though I continue to sin, He sees me as blameless and pure.

I am thankful that God created my husband, and knit us perfectly together in His timing for His glory. I am thankful for a husband who loves God and places Him above all else. I am thankful that Jim gets the awesome privilege of serving God for his career. I am thankful that God has provided for us with two incomes that allow us to live far better than we deserve. I am thankful that God reveled His truth to us in the area of our finances, so we are able to manage those incomes for His glory. I am thankful that He continues to provide for us and bless us through the generosity of our family and friends.

I am thankful that God gave me such clarity as to how He wanted me to serve Him. I am thankful that sometimes He clouds my vision so that I have to keep searching for Him and His will. I am thankful that God has placed me in a profession that allows me to see Him so vividly in all that I do. I am thankful that He allows me to show a glimpse of His love and His tender mercy to my patients.

I am thankful that God has given me a body that is able. I am thankful for the good health I have had thus far. I am thankful for the poor health I have had, because it reminds me I must depend on Him.

I am thankful that my life is in His control, and that my world is in His control. I am thankful that God knows and wills all that has happened and will happen. I am thankful that I have a destiny beyond this world.

I am thankful for beautiful days, because I see God's majesty in His creation. I am thankful for less-than-beautiful days, because it reminds me that all things work together for my good and His glory.

I am thankful that God has given me knowledge, because it allows me to know and experience Him more fully. I am thankful that God has given me ability to love, because it allows me to know and experience Him more intimately. I am thankful that God has given me the ability to dream, because it reminds me that there is so much more than my small reality.

God, I thank You that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

They just keep getting bigger and better...

I have to brag: I'm going to Hawaii for my 23rd birthday!

Jim just booked the tickets today for 9 days in Oahu at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. We are so excited! Although, secretly I think Jim is just feeling guilty over all the sad posts that have been cropping up on my blog lately...

This will be the fifth birthday Jim and I have spent together. Here's a quick recap of how I've celebrated:

19th - Jim took me out for a romantic dinner at Cedars complete with flowers, eloquent card, and watching the sunset on the river. He was still trying to win me over at this point.

20th - I can't remember how we celebrated this birthday. Jim proposed four days before this birthday, so I'm sure we were still celebrating both occasions!

21st - Jim and I (and my parents) toured the Columbia Basin stopping at various places to taste aged grape juice.

22nd - Jim forgot to plan anything special for my birthday but made it up to me by taking me out to lunch and surprising me with a delicious fruit torte from my favorite bakery.

23rd - Going to Hawaii! 9 uninterrupted days with my husband!

I honestly don't know how next year's birthday could get any better.

Small disclaimer - The only part of this trip that is Dave Ramsey-approved is the fact that we are paying for it in cash. If it was Dave Ramsey-approved, we would have paid off our debt and completed our Emergency Fund first before budgeting to save for this trip. Shh, don't tell Dave!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not a Good Week...

I have to admit, this past week has not been a good one.

Circumstantially-speaking (is that a real word?), nothing has happened to make it "bad", it's just been a blah week.

Do you ever have those? I sure do.

To quickly recap, one week ago I went to a doctor who put me on a gluten- and dairy-free diet and loaded me up with pills, tonics and powder. One day after starting this new regime, I began to experience some yucky side effects. To put it nicely, my digestive tract is still trying to adjust to this new routine!

Speaking of gluten-free, I never realized the control wheat-infested carbohydrates had over my life until I couldn't eat them anymore. It's embarrassing how out of control my cravings for carbs are and what effect they had on my attitude. I never thought I had self-control issues with food, but apparently I do. My coworkers practically begged me to give in and eat carbs so I would not be so grumpy!

I spent Easter Sunday working and was sad to not be able to celebrate His resurrection with my family, church and biological alike. To make matters worse, I took care of a patient with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea on Sunday. Monday morning, guess what I had? I just love working in health care!

Beyond that, Jim has been super busy the past few weeks since baseball season started. He is so excited to coach and loves being able to work with the players and get back out on the baseball field, but his already busy schedule has taken on another 20+ hour/week commitment between practices and games. It's Tuesday night and I haven't seen my husband since Sunday. I miss him terribly.

So here I sit, wrapping of Day 2 of being home sick, alone, realizing that bread made of rice flour just isn't the same as real bread, and I have to admit this week hasn't been a good one for me. But these are just circumstances adding to an already existing problem.

One of the blogs I follow recently put it this way: "I know I'm where I belong". I have to admit I was quite a bit jealous of the writer to being able to say that. For the past few months I've felt unsettled and I haven't been sure why. I've spent four years working towards the goal of where I am today: wife to Jim, registered nurse working in labor and delivery, involved in a church I love, good family and friends to share life with... I have strongly felt God calling me to each of these areas, so you can imagine my confusion to arrive at this point and still feel so... unfulfilled. Unsettled. As if something was missing.

I'm just rambling at this point.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More Tales of Health (or lack thereof)...

As many of you know, I've had this bizarre rash on my face that cropped up January of this year and has yet to go away, despite trying every treatment under the sun (OK, maybe just every treatment over the counter!). In February, the rash had gotten much worse and so I began to reluctantly call around to get an appointment with a doctor. Apparently one can not get in to see any doctor, whether general practice or specialty, without waiting at least three months. I made an appointment with a dermatologist that was able to book me in May. Seriously?

Eventually the rash became so itchy and painful that I went to an urgent care clinic. The rash was diagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis, which is basically cradle cap for adults. I was given a prescription cream to treat the rash.

Two months later, it's April and I realize I am still using this cream twice a day and the rash is no better. In fact, I stopped using the cream for a week and the rash became so inflamed that it began to burn. Unfortunately, I am still a month away from my appointment with the dermatologist.

Being the loving husband he is, Jim suggested I try the clinic he goes to. I will admit I have been very skeptical their unconventional treatments, but I was desperate enough to give anything a try. And they were able to get me in two days!

I had a good experience for my first visit. Dr. Kenzie was very personable and intelligent, and spent a whole hour with me. She checked out every system and looked at all my health problems together, instead of just focusing on my rash. The clinic uses neuro-emotional muscle testing to diagnose problems. I am not a good muscle-tester, so she had Jim surrogate-test me, which was bizarre to me. But I was amazed at how it worked! She was able to correctly diagnose my health issues and allergies accurately.

I left the clinic with some new medications and new dietary guidelines. I found that I am very allergic to both dairy and wheat products (surprise surprise), so I have been instructed to stay away from dairy and gluten as well as given a probiotic to restore the flora in my digestive tract. My hormones are completely out of whack (Jim nodded his head in agreement with that) so I have a natural remedy to help rebalance my hormone levels. And last, but not least, I have a tonic to restore my skin.

Beyond that, I have a follow-up appointment in two weeks and the whole experience (one hour with a doctor and three medications) cost us less than Jim's appointment to consult with Dr. Trotta before his surgery. And I still will not have seen the dermatologist before I follow-up with the clinic!

I am excited to try out the regime Dr. Kenzie has prescribed me and curious to see how it works for me. Beyond the skin rash, I have been unusually tired for the past few months and my allergies and hormones are a continual problem. I am hoping the clinic will be able to get me back on track so I can be healthier and perform better in every area of my life.

If all else fails, these gluten-free almonds I am currently snacking on are good!