Wednesday, April 27

A glimpse into my childhood (A-M)

(aka...13 things you didn't need to know about me but will learn anyways)

A. My sister Amy was born when I was five. I remember being dropped off at a church family's house while my parents went to the hospital. The wife was from Georgia and always called Amy by her full name...Amy her sweet Georgian southern-belle voice.

B. After Amy was born, I then prayed for a brother devotedly for months. I had to wait 4 years for God to answer that prayer.

C. Across the street, there was this "evil" golden retriever puppy, Captain. Okay, he wasn't evil but in his puppy playfulness, he jumped on me when I was 4 or 5 and scared the daylights out of me.

D. We lived on a dead-end private street...all the way at the end with very few neighbors and playmates. The private road had pros and cons. Pro, we could play in the street; con, lack of children. Pro, quiet; con, remote.

E. I was always good at entertaining myself. My sister would go off to school and I would just play in my room contentedly, making up stories and characters. I'm sure my mom loved it.

F. I disliked first-grade...only because I found it boring. I even fell asleep in class one time.

G. My grandparents came to babysit us girls so that my parents could go to Hawaii for their 10th anniversary. My grandpa swore he'd never visit us in February ever again...too much snow. One day they sent my older sister and I out to catch the bus. We stood in the cold for a long time before our neighbor informed us our school had been cancelled.

H. Our old house only had one bathroom. One Sunday, after church, my stomach was upset but my mom was in the restroom. I stood there waiting anxiously for her to come out and the proceeded to throw up in the hallway. My mom was not pleased. Why didn't you throw up in a garbage can or in the kitchen sink? Honestly, it didn't cross my mind.

I. We had a forest behind our house. One day my older sister and I climbed over the fence and went into the forest on a great adventure. We found a junk back there that made it looked like someone lived there. We were convinced it was an Indian. We quickly ran home a bit scared, clearly not that adventurous.

J. I asked Jesus "into my heart" when I was five. I remember it feeling very natural....of course I want Jesus in my heart, I love him and believe in him already...I learned later on just what it means to have Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

K. A kitten followed my sister and I home day. We convinced our parents to let it stay the night. The next morning I woke up and went into the living room to watch cartoons and heard this strange sound. I followed the noise and found that the kitten had climbed our dining room screen door, tearing this nice hole at the very top. My parents were not pleased as they had just sold the house. We found the owners that morning.

L. I fell once and scratched my knee up pretty bad. It left a scar in the shape of a lima-bean.

M. I'm pretty sure that my hair style, for a few of my childhood years, constitutes as a mullet. I would LOVE for someone to tell me otherwise.

Monday, April 25

Things I Love Monday!

Okay, so I'm completely stealing this from fellow blogger Jolie but I'm sure she won't mind.
1. Family time.  My immediate family is small. Mostly because none of my siblings, including myself, are married or have children. So it's just us six. But we like each other. We're not the closest family in existence, to be sure, but we enjoy spending time together as we did yesterday afternoon. Mom fed us a good dinner although something about the green beans were wierd. We had a fun game time with much laughter. And then a yummy dessert. On May 14th, we are going to have another chunk of family time, which I'm already looking forward to. I'll share more that on that later.

2. Facebook.  One thing specifically is that I love getting on Facebook yesterday and seeing just about everyone with some special Easter status, most of which were reflections on Christ. That blessed my heart.

3. Finishing a book.  Sometimes I'm sad when I finish a book because I'd just as rather the story go on and on and on. However, I just finished a book yesterday, which I technically started...I don't know...six months ago??? And I finally finished it!!! It's one of the books on my 2011 reading list: So You Don't Want to go to Church Anymore? It wasn't bad or boring but it wasn't's a fictional book about a guy who was a pastor but starts this journey that temporarily leads him away from the church altogether. It did make me think about whether or not my relationship with God is too tied to my relationship with my church. Rating it, I'd give it one thumb up.

Okay. So Jolie doesn't do this but here are a couple things I don't love, just for good measure:

1. Appliances breaking two days after I buy them.  Boo! I bought a waffle maker thing last Monday and it was broken by Wednesday. It still works just was some cheap plastic thing on the back that broke off. And of course, I threw away my receipt because it's a cheap-o (obviously!) machine and I figured if it lasted two years, or even one year, then I got my money's worth. Humph! I'll probably still check to see if I can exchange it...

2. Music playing in the background during prayer/reflection time at church.  I know that some people are really moved by hearing soft music playing but I find it oh-so distracting. I really struggle with focusing my thoughts when soft music plays during any prayer or time of reflection. Oy vey! I usually give up at some point and just hope that the Spirit will know my heart and pray on my behalf.

3. Dusting.  Out of all the chores to do in my apartment, I hate dusting the most. I'll do the dishes. I'm happy to do laundry. I'll cook or even vacuum. And I'll even take out the trash....but dusting? I avoid it at all costs. I find I can tolerate an awful amount of dust before I finally! pull out the rag. So if you have a dust allergy, I suppose you better let me know before coming over to my place, if ever. Here's hoping the man I marry doesn't mind dusting!

Friday, April 22

The Heart Transplant

The class sat in attention. Although most of them would quickly admit that Anatomy was one of their more challenging classes, they sat, as if spellbound. These medical students knew that their professor, Dr. Finley, was brillant and fair. Moreover, he managed to make this required class interesting, even though the workload often required late nights. Today's class was no different. Appreciating the fact that everyone was listening, Dr. Finley began to share a case study.

Meagan Clark was born with a hole in her heart. At the age of 15, she had been in and out of hospitals and operations. The doctors did what they could to fix her and often their methods would work, for a time. For a short while, Meagan could believe that she was finally the normal child or teen that she wanted to be. She'd run, laugh, and live with abandonment. A little too much abandonment, according to her parents. Her parents, Teri and Ryan, were obviously concerned for their daughter's wellbeing and often tried to discourage her from any activity that appeared strenuous or taxing. They knew, from experience, how quickly Meagan's energy could crash, causing her to be bedridden for days.

When Meagan was younger, the surgeries would give her strength for longer stretches of time. However, the older she got, the stretches of full strength got shorter and shorter. Shortly after her 11th birthday, the doctors determined that Meagan needed to be added to the transplant list, for a new heart. The team of doctors that knew Meagan were baffled by the fact that none of the surgeries seemed to help. The surgeries were standard procedures and many of their patients had gone on to have normal lives. The fact that Meagan's heart seemed to continue to weaken over time, was a mystery.

Over the next four years, Meagan got weaker and weaker, as the family waited and prayed and yearned for a matching transplant. One heart did become available when Meagan was 13 but it proved to not be a compatible match for her, causing the doctors to cancel the surgery at the last minute. Two years after that and the family was still waiting. Meagan was now at the point of needing full-time hospital care and the doctors believed that they only had a weeks left to secure a heart for her.

During this time, a man started helping out at the hospital. He volunteered with the chaplain's office, made rounds visiting the patients, offered this translation skills when needed, and would help in any way possible. Naturally, he quickly met Meagan and her parents and could regularly be found taking Ryan out for coffee, chatting and praying for Meagan, or bringing in a small snacks for her parents to eat.

One day, near the end, a doctor confided to this man that unless something happened very soon, Meagan would likely die. Two days later, the man returned, with a stack of papers in his hand, and offered the team of doctors a possible suggestion to save Meagan. The man offered his own heart. He provided all the medical papers he could scrape together to prove that he was in perfect health. He provided all the legal documents to release the hospital of any liability over his own life, while stating that he was of sound mind. His proposal was to give Meagan his heart and he would take hers. The doctors resisted this man's request but for every argument they made, the man seemed to have an answer. So finally, the doctors notified the family that a donor had been found. The next day, the transplant occurred.

With that, Dr. Finley got up and walked over to the podium and asked the class their thoughts on the story. A bit in shock over what they had heard, the students struggled at first to formulate their thoughts but within seconds the class had a great discussion going. Finally, after a few minutes, one student asked the question they were all anxious to know...what happened to Meagan and the man?

Dr. Finley shared that the heart proved to be an exact match for Meagan. After the transplant, she healed quickly...surprisingly quickly...and is now a normal 18 year old, attending high school. The doctors have cleared her for all activities and no longer need to see her, something that doesn't happen often with transplant patients. But Meagan's healing was so complete that without the long scar on her chest and her immense patient folder, the doctors would think that she had been born with that heart.

As for the donor, the man accepted Meagan's heart as smoothly as the operation could go but within hours, the man died. The doctors did what they could to save him but putting an infected, underperforming heart into someone else caused them to have low expectations from the start. In their minds, Meagan had been destined to die and now this man was destined to die. With sadness, and even a sense of having let the man down, one doctor, Dr. Adams, carted his body down the morgue. When he got there, the mortician was busy with another body so Dr. Adams signed in the body and then left.

Three days later, Dr. Adams ran into the mortician, in the cafeteria, and casually remarked on the one man's body that he had dropped off. Confused, the mortician claimed that he had found no such body with that patient's name. Both of them marched down the morgue, verified the check-in page, and then searched the morgue only to come up empty. Well...mostly empty. All they recorded finding, back in the corner, was an empty gurney with a white cloth, neatly folded on top, that didn't look like it had been used.

A silence settled over the class. Seconds later, the bell rang signalling the end of the class period. No one seemed ready to move or even aware the bell had sounded. They sat, not sure what to think. Never had they heard such a story. Was it true? Was this man possibly alive? How could that even be possible? In their stunned reflection, nobody seemed to notice that Dr. Finley had gathered his notes, briefcase, and jacket, and had stepped out of the room.

Thursday, April 21

The Easter Journey

It was my fullest intention to observe Lent this year. I bought a Lenten devotional from Jason Vana, thinking that would keep me focused and on-track. I made a plan then realised that smack in the middle of Lent, I was going on vacation for two weeks. Questions of (im)possibilities starting flooding my mind. Not to mention that prior to vacation, during the first couple weeks of Lent, I was trying to wrap up my thesis paper. I was a wee bit busy!

I failed to follow the devotional altogether, unfortunately. However, I did pretty good sticking to my personal Lenten plan, that is, until I went on vacation. From then on, I have derailed.

But to a degree, that the point of Lent and Easter, isn't it?
Where my insufficiencies start is where He is all-sufficient.
Where I stumble or sin, His mercy extends and covers.
Where I am unholy, He is holy.
In my weaknesses, I am more apt to seeing His glory and His perfection and to realise just how much I need Him. I taste how my life would be if it were not for His saving power and His ability to redeem me.

I know several people who seem to minimize Good Friday. Sure, they recognize it's an important day but "Hey! We have been redeemed...we live in Easter now!" While I get their point, there would be no Easter without Good Friday. No glorious day or new life without the darkness and scarring of death.

Don't get me wrong. I love to worship and reflect on the life that God has given me. This year, in fact, I've been mulling over the fact that I am redeemed and contemplating on what that means. I am so thankful for Christ's resurrection and all that it means. But I think it's a good thing to remember the cross. When I do so, it humbles me and exalts Him.
Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
"How Great the Father's Love for Us" by Stuart Townend

Wednesday, April 20

It is finished. Amen.

Since I've included you in this Master-degree journey of mine, I thought I should share that

I'M DONE!!!!

Yes, yes, we all thought this day would never come...(okay, so maybe it was only me who thought that, a rare moment or two).

I had to finish my thesis paper up while I was on vacation in Germany. A more stressful ending to school has yet to be experienced by me. OY VEY! Actually I was fairly calm and resigned that what will be, will be. But I tell was aggravating. Let me just summarize it by saying time-zone differences, silence from my advisor, and then minimally hearing from him when he was in Las Vegas?!?! Whatever. It's done. It's in the past. Moving on.

Anyhow, as of May 7th, I am set to graduate from Crown College, in Minnesota, with a Master's of Arts in Intercultural Leadership. No, I will not be attending the services although I'm sure they will be lovely. Seeing as I live in Washington state and seeing how I used all my vacation time gallivanting off to Germany and Holland, I'm content to just sit here and say "yay me!"

So now, the biggest question is "what are you going to do with this degree?" Ummm...nothing??? Ummm....I don't know??? Ummm....what do you get if you cross an elephant and rhino? Eleph-ino. Sorry. Just chalk the fact that I like this joke as a result of my sinful nature.

I started this degree with the intention of becoming a career missionary, with the Christian & Missionary Alliance, for which having one year of graduate studies is required. As I've progressed along this Master's degree process, the less certain I've become that this is the path for me. So now I have this degree and am praying over a couple possible options for what is next, one of which, includes getting more education. Yes, I know it seems that I'll be in school in forever. We shall see.

Anyhow, let me wrap this up by summarizing my thesis paper for one last time. My thesis paper is on suffering. I've titled it: Understanding Suffering: Ideologies and Perspectives. The driving focus was to discover why God allows suffering and then consequently, how it can affect my relationship with God. I've shared some of the process with you already. In case you haven't read them, but would like to, here are the links:

Suffering (just getting started)
How my thesis paper is changing me
Thesis Paper--Survey
Thesis Paper--Two Interviews
Thesis Paper--Apology and Elaboration
Thesis Paper--An Interview

This has been a good project and studying suffering was a good topic. It's one I'd like to do more research and writing on as it is prevalent (perhaps increasingly so) in every individuals life. However, what I have learned is that there is so much out there. There are always more books that can be read, characters that can be analyzed, stories to be heard. It would be impossible to write an exhaustive study on this topic...not that I want to. But maybe a book of stories, of various forms of suffering, to see underlining themes and how it affected their relationship with God. Hmmm...maybe one day.

Anyhow, thanks for sharing on this journey with me thus far. Yay you!

Monday, April 18

Cleaning up my act

I had coffee with a friend yesterday. The time with my friend was nice. The coffee was sub-par.

We both mentioned the need and desire to "spring clean"...going through EV-ERY-THING and weeding down our possessions, getting rid of excess stuff that is hiding away in our closets, and throwing junk away! We decided to make it our summer challenge...and to keep each other accountable.

Clearly our discussion lit a fire in my pants because after lunch with the family, I went home and cleaned for over three hours. I took one big trunk and cleaned it out completely so that it can be used to store the "give-away" items. I cleaned out my hope chest moving a box of items into the "give away" trunk, that I've been carting around for at least 8 years...and filled the hope chest up with the items that I really truly want to hang onto.

I then grabbed all those photo know, back in the days of film photography...those countless bulky envelopes with the negatives. I went threw Every.Single.Photo(!) and threw out the ones I could care less about or were awful to begin with and kept about a third for memento-sake, adding them into my hope chest.

Next, I have this brown dresser, that needs some tender-loving-care (but from the next owner), that I use for bills and other such documents that one should hang onto. I took out the drawers, went into the living room, and filed all my bills by company. I DID NOT file them by date...that, my friends, is another project for another day (maybe). I figured I could easily grab the entire company stack, and sort through them, if I ever have a need for referencing an old bill.

I ended up throwing out a large stack of papers, throwing away a small heap of trash, and my trunk is half filled with "give-aways." Hooray! I feel so good about this. Somehow, having things neat and tidy makes me feel more "grown-up." Aah...maybe I'm maturing a bit! :)

Friday, April 15

An idea.

One of my faults, I'd say, is that I tend to obsess over things. I'm a bit of a dreamer and have little clue of where or how God wants to use me so I tend to think of a good idea and then chew on it until I'm just about convinced that it's God's will for my life. Then the whole time, I'm wondering if this is really my idea that I'm asking God to bless or rather a God-inspired idea. Round and round it goes in my head until I'm nearly sick of the idea myself. Then somehow, I get distracted (probably onto the next idea).

I have this thought currently floating in my head, which feels right but makes no sense (logistically and financially). I'm worried again that this is me asking God to bless my plans rather than being from God. I'm not going to share it just yet, in case this ends up being a passing whim. But the fact that it "feels right" makes me want to move forward believing this is from God...which is a bit exciting. You know those Bible stories where God told people to do crazy things which made no sense...I feel that this idea falls into this category. People won't understand and may even try to dissuade me.

I know this is like telling someone they have a secret but then not sharing.
Sorry. Maybe one day!

Wednesday, April 13

Morning thoughts

I just got home from my two week vacation to Germany and Holland. Seeing as those countries are nine hours ahead of me, I'm jet-lagging just a bit. I started to feel tired yesterday around 3pm and crazy tired around 6:30pm (I managed to keep going until 8pm by catching up with a missed episode of Amazing Race). Then this morning I woke up at 3:30am. I could not think of any good reason to get moving that early in the morning, so I stayed in bed and dozed until 5am, which is when I finally got up.

I decided to come to work early today, arriving at 6am, with a Maple Latte in hand (if you haven't tried it, I highly recommend doing so, if possible). This being my second day back at work, I still have 240 unread emails to go through plus a few projects to jump into, once I know what I'm facing.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd get on to say Hello and Good Morning to you all.
Here's a verse to start your day:
But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  Psalm 59:16
May you know His strength and love in your life. Enjoy your day!

Thursday, April 7

Things I've learned on my vacation

Visa is not accepted everywhere, despite what you might hear.

When you heat glass, it will explode. Into hundreds of pieces.

Gas stations are still not opened on Sunday's or Mondays before 8am, in Germany.

Just because you have a German's driver's license doesn't make you a good German driver.

'Joe vs. the Volcano' is not as amusing as I remember.

Don't wear heels when riding a bike.

The faith of parents can be passed on to their children and grandchildren.

It can be easy and nice to step back into a role.

While time changes people, love is able to create re-connections.

Asking people for life suggestions makes my brain full.

Working on school overseas would be difficult long-term.

It is possible to make new friends just about anywhere.

Three lattes/cappuccinos in one day is indeed too much.

Falling when riding a bike evokes sympathy.

Falling when riding a bike evokes lies that this is "her" first bike ride.

A little humility is not a bad thing.

A store full of cheese is a bit stinky.

Cinnamon gelato is still my favorite.


Some places will always feel like home no matter how long you're gone.