Sunday, January 31, 2010


NGU. Never Give Up.
In my time here at Central I’ve heard this phrase repeatedly. Coaches say it to athletes. Friends say it to friends. Certain professors say it to groups of students.

It has been a rough week. There has been no continuation to the Joseph story this week because I have not had the focus to be able to tell it the way I want to and there has been too much else on my mind, begging to be written. Joseph will return, fear not.

Back to the rough week. I’ve been being challenged to stretch and grow in new ways. This is not a bad thing, but it is a difficult thing. I have amazing friends though who are walking with me on this journey. Also this week there has been a lot of hurt on campus. A friend of mine decided that life was no longer worth living and we have been grieving our loss. I’ve had some difficult conversations with friends as I’ve tried to come alongside them in their hurt. Something in my dinner tonight tried to kill me. I’m on lots of drugs right now. There were days this week when it hurt too much to move.

It’s after weeks like this that you just want to curl up and sleep under nice warm blankets. But then these three little words come into mind.
Never Give Up.

Even though the going is tough, we need to keep on going. There will be better days, weeks, months, years.

But we can’t keep going alone. This has been a theme for me the last few weeks. I can’t do life alone. I need my community around me. This does not make me weak. It makes me strong. Asking for help takes guts. Telling your friends that you need a shoulder to cry on takes courage. I’m not all the way there yet. I may never be there, but I’m learning. Be patient with me, G-d’s not done with me yet.

Community alone is not enough either. I cannot and do not expect my friends to be able to carry me. It’s not their job and that is okay. I have Jesus and he will never give up on me. As I sat to write this, before I got interrupted by the fire alarm, one of my favorite songs came on itunes. It’s called “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman. The chorus goes:
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me
For rest the lyrics click here.

No matter what happens. No matter how messy life gets. No matter how broken, weak and tired I am, G-d is never going to give up on me.

NGU friends, NGU.

Post from a friend

So, my friend, Lisa R. (also referred to as mommy Lisa) wrote this really cool note and posted it on Facebook.  It really spoke to me and I wanted to share it with all of you. I agree with what she is saying.  So, from here out, it is Lisa's words, not mine.

To my Christian male friends:

Be MEN of G-d. Furreals. Be leaders. Put yourself out there for a girl. Let her know that she's worth it, cause chances are, if she doesn't know that you want to be with her, you're playin with her mind. If you want something to happen in the form of a relationship, don't just hint at it. Voice your feelings. Put on your man pants. And I know that rejection is a fear. I know this. But if you're going to be the spiritual head of a home someday, start NOW by being a leader. Lead her. Let her know that she's worth pursuing. Love her. Tell her that you adore her. Tell her that she's beautiful. Girls don't think you're weak if you tell her these things. And if you're around a guy who's on the phone with his girlfriend and says, "I love you, beautiful," don't tease him. You're then giving into the social "norm" that all men have to be ruff and tuff, emotionless. G-d made you with emotions too. But at the same time, be strong. When her world crashes down around her, hold her up. Pray for her. Push her closer to G-d.

To my Christian female friends:

Be WOMEN of G-d. Don't take control of relationships if you're in one; don't be the one pursuing if you're not. If you take that responsibility out of a guy's hands, you're taking away the one thing that he was created for [okay, guys, don't take that the wrong way. I know you were made for more than that.]. You crush his spirit with feminist worldviews of "Women can do everything that a man can do...AND we can do it better." Let the guy lead. Let him pursue you. If your heart has been broken before, don't go into another relationship thinking/fearing that he'll do the same. You'll end up expecting the hurt, and then becoming paranoid, and, quite honestly...what's worse than a paranoid girl? [We're fantastic at over-reacting to things.] Allow yourself to be pursued, led, and step back. Let your guy take the reins. Trust him to step up to the plate. Once he knows that you trust him...he won't want to let you down. Don't distrust guys simply because someone left you hanging. Not all men are like that. I promise.

Yeah. That's it. Pretty much.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I've been thinking about rules a lot lately. No real reason why, just because.
There are some rules that everyone (or almost everyone) follows.  Like "don't hit" and "wear your seatbelt" and "don't punch your friends in the face because you are mad at them" and "don't pull fire alarms when there is no fire" and "if the fire alarm goes off, go outside (unless it's just cuz papa burned the toast)".
Then there are rules for certain places (These are all real rules that were/are in effect in various places). Examples:
Central College: don't drink alcohol on campus.  don't smoke on campus.  don't have candles in your room. no co-ed sleepovers in the dorms.
The van to and from highschool:  don't bite the driver.  don't throw things at the driver.  warn the driver before screaming really loudly.  no knee touching. don't throw your hairbrush in the car.
The table: don't throw food that Joy is allergic to.  eat at least half your food.  either all your plates have to be the same color or they all have to be different. make room for everyone who wants to join.  give lots of hugs.  tell people if you are going to miss a meal.
In class: raise your hand before talking.  don't bring pets to exams.  write your exam on the day it's scheduled unless your wife is in labor. hand your homework in on time.  don't check your email during class.  don't talk on the cell phone/text in class. participate.
There are also rules for specific situations:
When you have seizures: don't climb trees.  don't swim alone.  don't drive.
When you want to go for a walk: tell someone where you are going.  take a buddy if it is night time.  don't go if the weather is really bad.  wear your coat if it is cold.
When you have no motivation:  read a chapter of your textbook before watching Bones.  do five problems before eating a snack. stay off facebook until your paper is done.
When you want to paint a picture: wear your painting clothes.  don't paint the walls.  wash your brushes when you are done.
There are also rules for specific people:
Joy has to bring her epipen with her when she goes places.  Joy can't hang out with Kari at 2am (unless there is a fire alarm or some other really good reason).  Oolash has to come to dinner. Isaac has to take his medicine before breakfast.
There are even rules in math like: brackets, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction (BEDMAS), 2+2=4

Rules are made for a reason.  They usually stop something unpleasant from happening.  Wearing a seatbelt when you're in a car keeps you from getting really hurt if there is an accident. Not throwing food that Joy is allergic to keeps Joy from getting sick.  Not bringing pets to exams keeps everyone from getting distracted and staying off facebook until your homework is done keeps you from failing.  Joy and Kari not hanging out at 2am makes sure that they don't get overtired. You get the idea.
Other rules (like math rules) keep things orderly.  I think there are computer rules too that keep things orderly, but that's not something I know a lot about.
They keep us safe and keep society orderly.  Imaging what a final exam would look like if everyone brought their pet (which they had not been keeping in their dorm room because that is against the rules).  Or if 2+2 sometimes made 5.  It would be chaos!
It would be so nice if we could just make a rule about the seizures.  It could be: no more seizures.  or: seizures can only happen once a week and only at night while I'm in bed. 
Those would be nice rules, but probably wouldn't be very effective. 
Here are some good rules that will always be good:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (proverbs 3:5)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cornithians 3:17)
We are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

I could keep going because there are lots of good rules, but if I do, I will break the rule that says my lights have to be out by 10:37 tonight.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A band-aid will never fix it all the way.

So, it's Monday night and I just finished my 5th class of the day.  One class was cancelled due to weather, so technically it was a "light Monday".  In reality, I should be getting ready for bed, taking some tylenol and snuggling up with my heating pad to try and relax some very sore muscles (lots of muscle spasms and seizures the past few days/week).  What I would love to do is put my life jacket on and get in a nice heated therapy pool and so some basic stretching, ROM, and relaxation stuff, but Pella doesn't have a heated thereapy pool, and even if they did, it would not be open at this time of night.  So Arnica, Tylenol and a heating pad will have to do.  But before that, I need to write. 
Every week we have to write a reflection paper for my night class on the speaker and whatever reading has been assigned.  This by no means will represent my final paper, but something was said tonight that I have to process and I wanted to share it with all of you.  As I said, it is late and I'm post-seizure, so coherence might be lacking.  Bear with me.
The speaker tonight was the local hospital chaplain so we were discussing things related to being a hospital chaplain and issues related to that.  (This is the same chaplain who came to see me last fall after my first seizure when things were looking really bad.  I don't know if he remembered me).  Towards the end of the class, I finally asked the question that has been on my mind a lot.  "What do you do with the questions: "Why me?" and "Why does G-d let bad things happen to good people?" and the like?"
I know that I asked those questions when he visited me in the hospital, but I have no memory of what he said.
He paused. And answered with a question of his own.  "What is really behind that question?".  As a group we generated some answers. A sampling includes: "Did I do something to cause this?"  "Is G-d really good?"  "If G-d is good, why is this happening?"
We sat with those questions for awhile and then he spoke again.  He told us that there was no easy answer and that there was a lot of hurt behind those questions.  Then he talked about the dangers of giving an easy answer. He drew an analogy that really hit home with me. 
When you have a deep wound, one that goes deeper than the surface, it is important to make sure it heals from the inside out.  Deep wounds are not simple bandaged, but rather, they are cleaned out and then packed full of stuff (and by stuff I mean mostly sterile dressing material). This keeps the outside from healing over before the inside has healed.  In some cases, if a wound is not packed properly, the outside heals before the inside and the inside fills with fluid and infection and tons of junk.  Then the doctor has to go in and cut it open (lance it) and let the healing start all over again (if it is not lanced it sometimes just bursts on its own after the pressure has built up inside). This is much more painful than giving it time to heal properly the first time.
Life is like that.  Some hurts run really really deep. Sometimes you just want to put a "bandage" on the hurt and when the outside looks good, you figure it is healed.  But it's not.  The real hurt is just festering underneath and someday, it will burst out. And it will hurt.
Healing deep hurt is hard. It takes time.  It takes work. It takes time. It's not a quick fix. And the outside is going to look messy for awhile.  You could go for a bandaid solution and the outside will look neat, for awhile.  Then the hurt will fester and burst out.  And then you have two choices:  Another bandaid or working deep and hard to heal the hurt. The hard work will be scary.  It will mean being vulnerable.  It will hurt. It will take a lot longer than just sticking a band-aid on it.  But it will be worth in in the end. And we don't do the work of healing alone.  We've got Jesus to help us.  Healing is kind of his thing.  He does a lot of it. And he never just settles for a band-aid.

A bandaid will never fix it all the way.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 1 Update

I’ve been back on campus for a week now and what a week it has been. To start with, it is great to be back. Travel back was good and uneventful, which is a huge blessing considering some of the trips we’ve made across Michigan at this time of year. Mommy and Angela brought me as far as New Lenox (Chicago area), where I met up with Jess and she took me rest the way. Being back on campus is great. There have been many many opportunities for hugs and fellowship, including some crazy 3am worship and prayer.

This is my last semester at Central, Lord willing, which is bittersweet. I will be sad to leave everyone here when I graduate, but I will have accomplished something amazing, and that not by myself, but with the help and prayers of all of you. I got to worship with my family at First Baptist Church this morning and it was good.

As far as the seizures go, this week as been rough. Really rough. I have had more seizures in the past week than I did the entire month that I was home. There are no easy answers as to why I have had such an increase in seizure activity. Someone jokingly told me that there must be something in the air here. So I ask for your prayers. Pray that G-d will release me from the seizures so that I don’t spend so much of my time exhausted and hurting.

I’ve also been having a little more trouble with my vision this week, so prayers for that would also be appreciated.

Be blessed!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Story Time: Jospeh, Part 2 - Crazy Dreams

Time for part two of my retelling of the Joseph story. When we left Joseph last time we had learned about his siblings (all 11 of them) and the conflicts that existed between Jacob’s wives. We also learned that Joseph and his brother Benjamin were Jacob’s favorite sons.

Part 2
Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. We know that Jacob played favorites with his wives, so it’s no surprise that he also played favorites with his sons. He was very obvious about his favoritism and really didn’t try to hide it. One day he gave Joseph a beautiful coat. The Bible says that it was richly ornamented. Traditionally we called it a coat of many colors. The exact specifications of this coat are unimportant. What is important is that it was a very clear indication that Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. To make matters worse, Joseph was a bit of a tattletale. There is nothing like tattling to make your siblings hate you. Trust me on this one…I’ve only got half as many siblings as Joseph, but I know a thing or two about tattling and sibling rivalry. So, after Joseph tattled on his brothers shepherding skills, they were all hanging out around the “base camp”. Joseph started having dreams. Today there are a variety of views on the importance of dreams. Some people think we can actually learn stuff from the dreams others believe they are just the by-products of our imaginations. However, in Joseph’s time, dreams were mucho-important.
Joseph has this dream and decides to tell his brothers about it. Imagine this: They are all sitting out in the sheepfold, maybe around a small fire for warmth (it gets cold in the desert at night). The conversation lulls a bit as they all drift off to that land that is half way between sleeping and being awake. The time that is perfect for deep, intellectual conversation. The flames of the fire play across their faces. Joseph speaks. “Hey guys. I had this dream the other night. Wanna hear about it?” His brothers grunt noncommittally as boys are apt to do. Joseph takes the noncommittal grunts as an affirmative and begins to tell about his dream. “So, we were all out harvesting the grain one day. All 12 of us were there. We were binding the grain into sheaves (a sheath of grain is basically just a bundle of grain tied around the middle with a piece of fiber. In groups of three or more they can be made to stand upright like little tiny haystacks. Sheaves are then stacked into bigger piles to store for the off season). All of a sudden my sheath left my hands, moved away from me and stood upright. All by itself. Then, the sheaves that each of you were working on also left you and came over by mine. Instead of standing up though, they bowed down to my sheath. It was weird.”
His brothers are more awake now. Their indignation rang out. “What!??!” “You think we are going to bow down to you?” “If we bowed to anybody it would be Reuben. He’s the oldest” “You’re such a dreamer.” “Go to sleep you little twit and don’t get any grandiose ideas about yourself.” Slowly, after making snide comments to each other, silence settles back over the group and one by one they drift off to sleep.
The next night the same thing happened. They were sitting around the fire, drifting off to sleep when Joseph decided to tell them about his other dream. This time, instead of being out in the field binding grain they were up in the heavens. Joseph himself was some sort of celestial body, his brothers were stars and his parents were the sun and moon. Once again everything bowed down to Joseph. Once again his brothers ridiculed him and called him names.
The next morning he decided to tell Jacob about the dream. His father loved him very much. Surely he would not ridicule him for his dream. Wrong. Jacob flipped out. His blood pressure rose. “What are you talking about Joseph? This dream of yours? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you? You are talking crazy. Stop this foolishness.”
His brothers who had overheard this exchange shot self-satisfied looks to each other. Their father agreed. This was foolish talk. His father however tucked this away into the recesses of his mind. He’d seen some pretty crazy stuff. Heck, he’d even wrestled with YHWH himself back in the day. Anything was possible.
Some time passed and Jacob sent his sons, except for Benjamin and Joseph, out to a place called Shechem to find better pasture for the sheep. This added to the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers. They had to go work and Joseph got to stay home. Such a pet.
Some time later Jacob decided to send Joseph to Shechem to check up on his brothers and the flocks. He gave him some provisions for the journey and supplies to bring to his brothers and Joseph went on his way.

That’s all for now.  :) More later.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Story Time: Joseph, part 1

Over the last few days I’ve been reading the stories of Joseph. Those of you at Central who have been doing Bible in a Year have been reading the same stuff. Joseph is another one of my favorite stories to tell and I had so much fun doing the telling of Exodus 17:8-15 that I decided to do Joseph as well. Joseph’s story starts in Genesis 29 and goes through chapter 50, with lots of sides stories thrown in for good measure, so, in an effort not to overwhelm you or myself, I’ll tell this story in parts.

Part 1
Joseph’s story starts with his father Jacob (also known as Israel). His story actually starts before then with the story of Jacob’s father, Isaac, whose story starts with the story of his father, Abraham, whose story starts…you get the picture.
Now, for reasons we aren’t going to discuss here (it has to do with deception and trickery and a death threat), Jacob was living away from his immediate family. He was living with a relative named Laban. (Laban was Jacob’s mother’s brother…so his uncle). Jacob had been living with Laban and working for him for some time when he fell in love with his cousin, Rachel who was very beautiful. Laban offered to pay Jacob for the work he had been doing so Jacob and Laban made a deal in which Jacob would work for Laban in exchange for Rachel. This sounds rather crazy today to our Western minds – working in exchange for a wife, and that wife being your cousin – but that is the way things were done there and there was nothing wrong with it. Laban agreed to the deal and seven years later there was a wedding. Laban however was not the most honest person. Either that or his desire for honor overcame his honesty. For whatever reason he did not hold up his end of the deal. When Jacob woke up in the morning after his first night as a married man, his wife took off her veil (he hadn’t seen her yet due to Jewish custom) and instead of beautiful Rachel being there, it was her older sister Leah, who was not as beautiful in Jacob’s eyes. (In Laban’s family it went against custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one was married) Jacob was pretty upset with having been tricked, although it kind of served him right since he had tricked his twin brother out of both his birthright and his father’s blessing, but that’s another story. So Laban and Jacob struck another deal – another seven years of work and then Jacob would get Rachel, the beautiful sister he loved. This time there was no trick and he married Rachel. So after 14 years of work Jacob has married his cousins, the sisters Leah and Rachel. Being married to more than one person was not frowned upon then as much as it is now.
Leah had a servant named Zilpah and Rachel’s servant was named Bihlah. They’ll become more important in a little bit.
Now even though adults tell us they don’t play favorites, they do. Even Jacob did. It was very obvious to everyone that he loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. Now YHWH knew that Jacob didn’t love Leah, so to make up for it, he decided to bless Leah with children, while not allowing Rachel to have children. One after another Leah had four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.
This frustrated Rachel who had not had any children yet. I can imagine that there was a little bit of sibling rivalry going on between Rachel and Leah. So, since she wasn’t able to have children she gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob so that he could make babies with her. This is another ancient Jewish tradition. Since Bilhah belonged to Rachel, any babies that she had would belong to Rachel. So Bilhah had a son and Rachel named him Dan. Then Bilhah had another son, whom Rachel named Naphtali.
So at this point Leah has four sons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah) and Rachel has two sons through Bilhah (Dan and Naphtali).
Leah wants to get in on the action so she gives her servant, Zilpah to Jacob. Just like with Bilhah, any children that Zilpah has will belong to Leah. Zilpah’s first son was named Gad and her second was named Asher.
Now things are really rolling. There’s a battle going on between Rachel and Leah to see who can bear Jacob the most children. At one point they even make a deal with each other along the lines of “if you do this for me you can sleep with Jacob”. I wonder how Jacob felt to be in the middle of all this, but I’m not a man, so I have no idea.
Leah had two more sons and a daughter – Isachar, Zebulun, and Dinah.
Then Rachel got a turn again and gave birth to Joseph, the main character in our story.
A bunch of stuff happened, including Jacob leaving Laban and being reunited with his brother Esau, Rachel stealing Laban’s gods, Dinah being violated and whole bunch of people being circumcised and then killed and some pretty cool meetings with YHWH.  If this was a story about Jacob, I'd tell these parts, but it's about Joseph, so these parts aren't as important for this story.
After all this Rachel finally had another son, Benjamin. Unfortunately, Rachel died while giving birth to Benjamin.
So in total Jacob had 12 sons (in order): Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Isachar, Zeubulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. He also had one daughter, Dinah.
Since Rachel herself had born Joseph and Benjamin, they were Jacob’s favorites, which made them the least favorite of all the others. Which, as you can imagine, caused some problems.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more later!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Story time: Exodus 17:8-15

As we gathered to worship on Sunday night Pastor Joe read a story to us from Exodus 17. I knew the story and as he read it my mind began to craft the words into a story like what I used to tell on the bridge at Manitoqua. I don’t have a bridge with children here to tell the story to, so I’ll do my best to write it out and share it with all of you. Enjoy!

A long long time ago in a land called Rephidim there were two nations, Israel and the Amalekites. Israel was led by Moses and his trusty sidekick Joshua and the Amalekites were let by Amalek. Something happened and the two nations had a disagreement. We don’t know exactly what they were disagreeing over, but we do know that water was scarce there, so let’s pretend they were fighting over water. G-d had just done a miracle through Moses in which Moses struck a rock with his staff and water came out of it, but that is a story for another day.

So, the Amalekites and the Israelites drew up lines for battle. The battle was going to be fought in a valley between two hills. In the division of labor of the Israelite nation, Joshua fought with the troops and Moses was the big head commander person. Moses gave Joshua his instructions. He was to go down into the valley with the Israelites on the following day and fight the Amalekites. Moses himself was going to stand on top the hill and hold his staff above his head. This must have sounded rather strange to Joshua and I imagine it even sounded strange to Moses. After all, he was taking his instructions from YHWH and YHWH didn’t always give the clearest instructions, at least not instructions that make sense (like hitting a rock with a stick to get water).

Early the next morning Joshua took the Israelite army down into the battle to fight the Amalekites. Moses went up on the hill and took his two friends, Aaron and Hur with him. They got to the top of the mountain and as the battle started, Moses raised his staff above his head, just as YHWH had instructed him to. Things were looking good down in the valley. The Israelites were winning. G-d was definitely on their side. After a while Moses’ arms began to hurt. You try and hold a stick over your head and see what happens! They began to burn and started to shake. He wanted nothing more than to lower them down and rest, but YHWH had told him that he had to keep them up. He bit his lip and tears ran down his face. How long did YHWH want him to hold this staff up? And what was the purpose? The time continued to pass and even though he tried hard his arms began to droop. He couldn’t do it any longer. As the staff started to fall something changed in the battle in the valley. The lower the staff got the worse the Israelites did. When the staff wasn’t in the air, the Amalekites were winning! Moses knew that if the Israelites were going to win he had to keep the staff in the air. He raised his arms again and the battle turned around again. The Israelites were winning! Moses’ arms grew so tired though. Thankfully his friends Aaron and Hur figured out what was happening and were very resourceful. They knew that Moses couldn’t keep his arms above his head all day, at least not by himself. Quickly they found a large rock and had Moses sit down on it. Then, Aaron went to one side of him and Hur to the other. Each of them took and arm and held it up. For the rest of the day they stayed with Moses and held his arms up. It wasn’t exciting, it wasn’t glamorous. It was long and boring, but very necessary. At the end of the day, the Israelites had won the battle as sure as the sky is blue.

As the troops returned from the battle they did the typical Israelite thing and made an altar and praised YHWH for giving them the victory. With the help of his friends, Moses had been able to follow YHWH’s instructions.

Those of you who know me well know that I like to do things myself. Some of you even call me stubborn. There is nothing wrong with being independent except for the fact that we weren’t created to be islands unto ourselves. Each of us is fighting a battle of our own and it may look different for everyone, but the one thing that is the same about it is that we can’t fight the battle by ourselves. In the 48 hours since coming back to campus I’ve been reminded of this again and again. I can’t do life on my own. Yes , I have G-d and he is always with me, but I also need you—my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. And you all need your friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Together we can fight the battles of life. We can hold each other’s arms up like Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms.  And I am willing to hazard a guess that it won’t look quite the same as it did in Exodus 17 and that it won’t even look the same for each situation. Somedays it might look like praying with a friend or for a friend, lifting them up to the Lord. Somedays it might look like having a meal with a friend and listening to them talk about what is going on in their life. Somedays it might look like going on a walk, or driving someone to Walmart, or sending an encouraging e-mail, or attending corporate worship, or giving a hug, or giving someone space to be vulnerable, or or or…the possibilities are endless.

Who’s arms are you going to hold up?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Safely home!

I am currently sitting in my room, at Central College.  After two days of uneventful travel I arrived here at about 4:30 local time. Thankfully, the stomach bug that I had been battlilng all week finally ran its course early Saturday morning and I wasn't overly miserable while we travelled (ample amounts of ginger ale helped too).    Mommy drove us across the border then Angela took over on the driving.  We went as far as Portage, IN on Saturday and then had a relaxing morning at the hotel this morning.  At noon I met up with a friend/classmate/sister in Christ and she brought me rest the way to Central.  The drive with her was wonderful and we had some good talks.  She is a real blessing in my life.
The closer we got to Central the more my excitement increased. The best word I can find to describe how I was feeling as we got closer and closer is "kribbly" but I have learned that that word doesn't mean much to most people.  It's kind of like butterflies, but not nervous butterflies, but happy butterflies doing a celebration dance.  That's not the best description, but it's as close as I can get without you being in my belly. :)
Being back on campus is wonderful.  My family is here.  I love my family in Canada too, but I live in community with these people for about 8 months out of the year.  This is home.  Dinner tonight was wonderful, full of hugs and hellos and laughter.  Now, it is time to head over to the chapel for Sunday night worship, the Calm.  The kribbly feeling in my stomach has been building and I am so excited to have Jesus time with my Central family. 
Yeah Dutch!  Yeah Jesus!  Yeah Dutch Jesus!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Lord bless you...

I was visiting before dinner this evening with my good friend and mentor, Aunt Nancy. I've been blessed to be able to spend some time with her over this break and have some good talks with her.  She often has wonderful insight into life and I enjoy spending time with her.
Today she came to see me to see to send me off to school for my last semester.  We sat at the table and talked about all manner of things- the two hour bus delay this morning, ideas that doctors had about the seizures, what courses I'm taking this semester, what I'm looking forward to class-wise (Cognitive psychology and ASL), what I'm not looking forward to quite as much (Intro to philosophy), our current knitting, crocheting and quilting projects and other things.  After a time she had to leave and I had to finish getting things ready for supper.  We stood and hugged.  I like hugs a lot.  As I was in her arms she blessed me using the words from Numbers 6: "The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace".  Then she prayed with me.
I've heard those words lots of times. "The Lord bless you and keep you..." and everytime they strike a chord deep in my heart.   When someone says those words, they are acknowledging that they can't keep you.  No matter how much they want to, they can't keep you safe, they can't protect you, they can't give you peace.  It's natural for people to want to keep others safe, but we have to realize that we can't always do it.  I have younger siblings that I would love to be able to protect and keep safe.  I would do anything to keep them from getting hurt.  But I can't.  I have friends that I would love to protect.  I have friends who are troubled.  I would love to give them peace.  But I can't.  Only G-d can do that.
On occasion I've been asked how my parents could let me go all the places they've let me go (Africa, Germany, etc) and how they can let me go to school so far from home given my medical challenges. Everytime they are challenged, my father replies that he learned a long time ago to give me to G-d and let G-d handle it.  They know where their influence runs out and when they have to let G-d step in and I love them all the more for it.
G-d's got this next semester in His hands and it's all going to be okay. If you are reading this, I speak this words over you:  "The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace."
Be blessed and live in HIS blessings.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Consider it pure joy...

Somedays it is easier than others to take to heart the words written in the letters to the early church.  Repeatedly both James and Paul urge believes to "consider it pure joy" when they face trials (James) and to "rejoice in our sufferings" (Paul, in the letter to the Romans) and to "do everything without complaining" (Paul, in the letter to the Phillipians).  It goes on and on.  Somedays, these are easy words to live by.  Those are usually the days when things are going well and there relatively few rough spots. 
Then there are days like today.  Ben and I both brought home a bug from the hospital.  He was mostly over it by the time I got home, but we are assuming its a hospital bug since we are the only two who are sick and we are the only two who were in the hospital.  It's days like today, when you feel about as energetic as a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe, that it's hard.  It becomes easy to feel sorry for yourself and complain.
Then I read verses like these and it's like a slap in the face.  These early Christians knew what it was like to suffer.  They were actively persecuted for their faith.  If anyone knew suffering, it was these people.  If any one had reason to complain, it was these people.  Not only did they have all the cares of regular life (getting sick, kids who don't listen, losing their jobs, finding a way to put food on the table, etc) they were in danger of being killed for their faith.  Paul even wrote many of his letters from jail.  He had reason to complain.  But he didn't.  He rejoiced in the good and urged others to do the same.
It puts me to shame. I start complaining because I've been feeling lousy or because my teeth hurt from dental work or because my room is cold or because I didn't get what I wanted for Christmas or a thousand other petty things. 
I need to work on this.  It is definetely a spot where I have lots of room to grow.  My friends call me Joy, so I should live up to my name.  If Paul could rejoice from behind prison bars, surely there is a way for me to rejoice.
Consider it pure joy....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Through the Roof

I returned home from the hospital yesterday with some news that is both good and disappointing at the same time.  The good news is that they did not find anything on my EEG or ECG while I was in the hospital.  The disappointing news is that they did not find anything on my EEG or ECG while I was in the hospital.    Having a clean EEG and ECG is a good thing because it means there is nothing wrong with my brain or heart.  It's disappointing because it means the doctors have no idea what is wrong with me.  We have no more answers than we did when I went in to hospital a week ago.  The diagnosis that has been applied to me is "psychogenic non-epilipetic seizures" or PNES. 
Dr. B (my neurologist) and Dr. D (the psychiatrist) told me that in about 50% of people with PNES the seizures are a manifestation of depression or anxiety, however, neither Dr. B nor Dr. D see any signs of depression or anxiety in me. A conclusion with which I agree. This means that I’m in the other 50%. This 50% is the category of people for which medical professionals have no answers at all. Many cases of PNES will disappear on their own. The others persist. There is no known reason why some cases disappear and others linger. There is also no projected time frame.

All this basically means we are at a dead end as far as the seizures go.  There is no next step at this point.  Being completely honest, it is hard not to be discouraged at this.  It's hard to focus on the positive.   While I was in the shower this morning, trying yet again to get the EEG glue out of my hair (nasty stuff) I was reflecting on this "dead end" and praying about it.  G-d brought a story to my mind.  It's from Luke 5: 17-26.  The part that really stood out to me was verses 17-19.   For those of you unfamiliar with the story it is about this man who was paralyzed since birth.  He had never been able to walk.  He had some awesome friends who heard that Jesus was in the neighborhood.  They decided to take him to see Jesus so that Jesus could heal him.  They wanted their answers.  They wanted the problem fixed.  They carried him to Jesus, however when they got to the house where Jesus was teaching they couldn't get to Him.  There were too many people between them and Jesus, their hope.  I can't know exactly what was going through their heads when their way was blocked, but I imagine that they weren't overly impressed.  This was not how things were supposed to go.   Mark 2 tells us that there were at least 4 men carrying the paralyzed men.  I imagine that at least one of them was ready to give up.  There were just too many obstacles.  Then one of them got an idea.  What if they went up on the roof, took it apart and lowered their friend in, through the roof?   It's a crazy idea.  This is probably a stranger's house and they are going to go up, on the roof and take it apart.  I wonder how long it took him to convince the others that this was a good idea, their only chance.  He must of been convincing because we know that they did go on the roof, take it apart and lower their friend in.  Luke tells us that Jesus was "saw their faith" and as a result, healed the paralyzed man. 
These men were looking at tough situation, one that wasn't going the way they wanted it to go or the way they thought it should.  They most likely did not leave home that morning with the intention of taking apart a roof and lowering their friend through it.  It wasn't conventional.  It was a crazy idea that took a lot of faith.  It was a crazy idea that was a perfect part of G-d's plan (Jesus used this situation to express His authority. see verses 20-24). 

The conventional and ordinary plan was for me to go to the hospital and for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me and fix it.   However, this wasn't G-d's plan.  Somewhere there is a roof that I need to go through.   G-d's got a plan for this that is bigger than the conventional, easy plan and He's going to be glorified through it.  After Jesus healed the paralyzed man "Everyone was amazed and gave praise to G-d. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."" (Luke 5:26). 
I don't know where or what my roof is, but I do know that I have amazing friends who will journey with me and I know that I have an amazing G-d who has a plan for all of this.   Who's coming through the roof with me?

As a side note, at a prayer meeting before semester break, someone spoke this story over me as a word from G-d intended for me. I didn't understand at the time, but I do now.  G-d has had this planned way long ago.   "All the days ordained for me were written in [G-d's] book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hospital Time

As I write this I'm hanging out in the hospital in London, Ontario. I arrived in hospital yesterday afternoon and will be in until further notice. Basically until I have enough seizures to satisfy them. The sooner I have seizures, the sooner I get out.

It is an 8 bed, co-ed ward on teh 10th floor. Right now there are 5 guys and 3 gals in. We are all sporting classy blue surgical caps and long tails of wires. If I get a chance, I'll get a picture of me in my cap. It kind of makes me feel like a surgeon. Our monitors are fairly portable so for short periods of time we can get up and move around.

The neatest thing about being in here is getting to talk with other people who have seizures and hearing their stories. For the first time I've been able to talk with people who actually understand what it's like to have a seizure and how seizures interfere with life. Last night a patient from a different floor, K., came to visit a current patient in the unit, D. . K. had been in earlier this year and before Christmas had surgery to correct her seizures. (She's in due to some issues with her incision). While K. was here, her friend J. who is also and ex-epilipesy unit/brain surgery patient came to visit her as well. J. is about the same age as me and is in her 4th year of university. It was so encouraging to talk to these two ladies who are on the other side already and hear their stories of hope. J. and I also talked about how good and faithful G-d is and that was super encouraging.

If you are in the greater London (Ontario) area and would like to visit me, I'm up on the 10th floor of University Hospital. There are no set visiting hours, so whatever works for you. Just check with me or mom to make sure I'm still here (I'll prolly post something here if I'm getting out).

Have a blessed day everyone and thank you so much for your prayers!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Under watchful eyes

I could spend hours typing about all that we saw at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) yesterday.  I could talk about the pretty things, about the old things, about the Dead Sea Scrolls (which is why we went in the first place).  But I'd rather tell a different story.
When we arrived at the ROM we headed to the had been a two hour drive and this was a neccessary first stop.  I finished before mom and the twins and the following conversation ensued:
J: Mom, I'm going out.
M: Okay.  Try and find a map.
J: K, but I'm  not going to wander far.  I don't want to lose you.
M: Oh, alright.
Random stranger: (with a smile) Grown-ups, they can be so unreasonable...
J: Naja, there are 8 of us and we don't want to get separated.
RS: You need matching t-shirts or something....
J: well maybe.  I'm a Girl Guide (Canadian version of Girl Scouts) leader and a number of years ago I took my girls to the science center (another attraction in Toronto)
RS: and you all had bright orange hair?
J: (unsure of what just happened) yes...we had it braided in so we wouldn't lose each other on the subway...
RS: (talking excitedly) I was the person on the subway that helped you with the bus.  I thought you looked familiar.
J:That was you?!?!
RS: yes and your girls were so well behaved.  I was amazed at how good they were and it was such a long trip...
J: Papa, papa, come here.  Remember when I took my Brownies to OSC and a subway angel helped me with the bus?  This is her!
and so on and so forth...

The trip that this lady was remember was at least 4 years ago.  I had taken my Brownies to the Science Centre by means of mass transit because I wasn't allowed to drive them.  The GO bus and the subway were easy, but I didn't have a clue when it came to the city busses.  G-d had provided me with this Subway Angel right when I needed her most. She got off the subway with us and guided us right to the OSC even though it was out of her way.  To be honest, I'd forgotten about her.   I believe that G-d orchestrated me re-meeting her to remind me that He will always provide for me, no matter what.  No matter how big or small, signficant or insignificant my need seems, G-d is looking out for me.
Later in the day, I had a seizures.  The closest security guard happened to have a wife who had epilipsy and was very comfortable around seizures.  I don't think it was a coincidence.  I think it was G-d, once again reminding me that He is looking out for me, no matter what.
Thank you G-d!

In other news:  In the past week I have baked 3 cheesecakes, 4 pies, and 190 tarts.  yeah food!