Monday, February 28, 2011

Question: What is your only comfort in Life and in Death?

Answer:  That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, unto my faithful savior Jesus Christ.  He has fully payed for my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.  He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my father in heaven...

It goes on, giving more comfort and hope, but that first section, the assurance that I am not my own, that I belong to some one greater than myself, that G-d is watching over me and that I am under his care, is my comfort, a lifeline of sorts.   It gives me the strength, on days like today, days after I have experienced great disappointment, days when I am hurting, it gives me the strength to keep going.  To remember that I am not my own, that this is not about me.  It gives me strength to get up in the morning, to go to class, to go to chapel, to keep worshiping G-d, even when I don't understand why things happen the way they do.  It's not about me.

As a side note, seizures and mono are a bad mix.  My spleen is not happy with this arrangement.  It's actually quite upset.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To The Moon

The other night I was sitting on the edge of my bed folding my laundry (random laundry note:  I enjoy laundry much more when I get to hang it on the clothesline) and listening to music - a wonderful mix of JJ Heller, Tenth Avenue North, and Sara Groves (and a few other of my favorite songs).  I was half listening to the music, half musing to myself about the sermon I'm going to be writing soon (I'm preaching in lab on Tuesday and then in church on March 13), half thinking about the fact that I should maybe get some bleach for my hankies (bloody noses to wonderful things to white hankies), and half thinking about how wonderful my bed was going to feel with fresh sheets on it (there is always something special about the first night on clean sheets), when a Sara song caught my ear. I had recently gotten some new Sara music from a friend, so I'm not completely familiar with all of it yet.  By the time my brain realized it was supposed to be paying attention to this song because it was new (my brain was tired, attention shifting was slower than usual) the song was at then end of the second verse and the first words I consciously remember were "Here at our church on the moon".  This caused me to pause and listen...Church on the moon?  As far as I know, we do not have any churches on the moon yet.  What was going on?  I "rewound" the song to the beginning and listened again.  It was indeed, from what I could hear, about a church on the moon.  I was having some trouble making out the some of the words so I abandoned my laundry folding and went to my computer and googled the lyrics.  This is what I found:

"It was there in the bulletin 
We're leaving soon
After the bake sale to raise funds for fuel
The rocket is ready and we're going to
Take our church to the moon

There'll be no one there to tell us we're odd
No one to change our opinions of God
Just lots of rocks and this dusty sod
Here at our church on the moon

We know our liberties we know our rights
We know how to fight a very good fight
Just get that last bag there and turn out the light
We're taking our church to the moon
We're taking our church to the moon
We'll be leaving soon"

(Sara Groves, "To the Moon", link to the audio, not captioned)

After listening to it a few more times and reading the lyrics I started to reflect on what it was saying about the church and it almost made me angry. The anger came because I realized how accurately the lyrics reflected the state of many churches today. Being the church can be hard.  Sometimes we are in hard situations, sometimes people call us odd.   Things get tough.  Maybe the neighborhood that our church is in under-goes some major changes, maybe people stop coming, maybe the congregation ages...the list of possibilities are endless.  
When faced with these tough times, the church, just like anyone faced with a hard time, has two choices.  They can stick it out or they can take off.   I see the church too often taking the latter option.  Maybe part of the congregation is having a disagreement.  Often, this will lead to a split, and a new church, born out of the fracture. Sometimes even a new denomination is born and the hostility continues for generations. Sometimes a church will just pick up and move to a new location to escape a changing neighborhood. 

Sara's lyrics are a little extreme, but they speak truth, and that saddens me.  As far as I know, a church has yet to go to the moon, but a church that moves out of a changing neighborhood is just as inaccessible to the hurting people who need it as a church on the moon would be.
Instead of moving out, instead of ensuring that our churches stay sterile and the way we like them, instead of fighting to keep our beliefs from being challenged, instead of hiding away so no one will call us strange, what would happen if we stayed put?  And not just stayed put, but started reaching out to those in our communities, putting ourselves in a position to be challenged and be called odd?  Maybe then, we would see growth in the church.  
It's time to come back from the moon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Diagnosis: Mono

There is a post coming, sometime in the near future, that will have my thoughts and reflection on something of substance...there are a couple already in the works, but for now, an update.
A week ago I posted about being sick and the doctor thinking I had influenza or mono.  At that point they had taken blood and were waiting for results.  I got a call from the doctor today, asking me to call back and get my test results. In Canada, that's usually a bad sign...Firstly, they rarely call for "normal" test results. Secondly, if they are calling for "normal" results, they just leave a message on the answer machine.   So you can imagine what was going through my head as I dialed the number to return the call, especially since the doctor had said at the time that my thyroid appeared to be a little swollen (it was her first time ever seeing my thyroid though).  I made the call and after being transferred to another line and being on hold for awhile, talked to a real person (I think she was a nurse). My thyroid was just as functional as it usually is, so there was no troubles there.  The mono test however, was positive.  I definitely have mono.
The good news is, I am doing better than I was. Yesterday was my first day in a long time that I did not need an afternoon nap, and today I even made it to the pool to get a short, but much needed swim in.
The not as good news is, I may have pushed a little too hard today and might have to pay for it tomorrow.
Here's what I think actually happened in the saga of being sick:  I got a sinus infection first, around the end of January.  Then I got influenza somewhere around the 10th of February.  Then, as I was recovering from influenza, I got mono.  So for awhile, I had both the aftermath of influenza and mono at the same time.  (Note:  this is not recommended.  Ever.).  I'm pretty much over the post-influenza junk (the reason why I've been feeling better-ish), but I still have mono. Which, in comparison to having both mono and influenza, is actually not that bad.   The hardest part now is being patient and not pushing myself too hard too fast and letting my body heal (and remembering to drink lots of water, because according to my roommate, that will drown the mono).
Please continue to pray for healing and for patience, especially since I am going into midterms this week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baby Jude

Baby Jude came through surgery wonderfully and is headed home.  Thank you all for prayers.  Please continue to pray for him as he recovers, that he is not in too much pain and recovers quickly.  Here is another picture of him (Just because he is cute)
Praise G-d for his wonderful work of healing!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prayer for a Friend (a really cute friend, I might add)

So one of my friends is having surgery on Thursday morning.  It would be really swell if you all could pray for him.  His name is Jude and he is super sweet.  I love him a lot.  See how cute he is:
Mr. Jude is showing off that he has learned how to stand
It's a relatively minor procedure, but he will still have to go under anesthesia, which is never fun.  He was born without the bones in his thumb being properly formed, so on Thursday, if he is healthy enough, the doctor is going to remove his thumb.
Please pray that the surgery goes well and that he is not in too much pain.  Pray for his mom and dad and siblings too.  It's a big deal for your little son or little brother to have surgery. Please pray also for good weather for travelling. The hospital is about 2 hours away from where he lives and it is winter in Canada....
Here's a picture of me with Jude and his sister and brothers:
Such a sweet, squirrelly bunch.  I love them lots and lots.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Come, For All Things Are Now Ready

Last Sunday I was at a new church.  Well, it wasn't really new, just new to me.   Anyhow, since it was my first time at this particular church, and you can only attend a church for the first time once, I was really paying attention to how the church appeared to visitors (accessibility, warmth, etc).  There will probably be another post about all that soon.  This one though is about a specific part of the service - communion.
This particular church was celebrating communion on this particular Sunday.  Since I was new to this church I was paying very close attention to what was happening during this part of the service.  I wanted to know who was invited to the table and how the elements were served.  Additionally, I was curious as to how they were framing communion, since it was being done at the beginning of the service, instead of after the sermon like I was accustomed to. (I had some other issues with how the service was ordered and what was/wasn't included, but that's not important now).
So I listened close.  The pastor went through the standard liturgy (okay, standard to me...not necessarily standard for all church backgrounds).  He welcomed all to the table who had made profession of faith in a Christian church.  This answered my question as to whether I was welcome (I was).  It also answered my curiosity as to whether or not baptized children were welcome (they were not).  However, I still didn't know how communion would be served.
I could see the (to me) familiar trays on the table, so I assumed the bread was pre-cut and the wine/juice pre-poured, but I wasn't sure if it was going to be brought to us in the pews and passed, or if we were to come forward to receive.  I listened intently. Finally he came to the end of the liturgy and said "Come for all things are now ready".
I stood up.  He had said "come".  At WTS, when the worship leader says "come for all things are now ready" it means it's time to to come forward and receive the elements.  This Sunday however, I quickly realized that "come" didn't actually mean "come".  It actually meant "sit and wait for the table to come to you".  It cause me to spend some time thinking about it (hence why you are getting a blog post).
How many times have I sat in church during a communion service and heard the words "Come for all things are now ready" and let them simply wash over me?
What message does it send when the Preacher says "come" and we all sit?  If the Preacher is speaking for G-d, then it could be said that G-d himself is saying "come" and our response is to sit and wait for it to come to us...
What does it say to visitors or people unfamiliar with our church tradition?  If they, like me, were listening to the words of the Preacher to try and figure out what to expect, how does this dissonance sound to them? It seems to me that we might be sending a message, that we as Christians, don't actually mean what we say. If we don't mean what we say when we talk about simple actions such as coming to the table, how can we be trusted to mean what we say when we talk about more complex and, in some ways abstract, things such as salvation?

I don't say this just in criticism of the church that I attended, but in questioning of many church traditions.  I realize that it might not be practical in all church settings for congregants to actually come forward to receive the elements.  I just wonder if in those situations we would be wise to change our worship words to better reflect the reality of what is actually happening in our churches.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Prayer for a Sister

So my sister is going on a mission trip to Mexico with her school.  I love my sister a lot (even though we sometimes fight and get on each other's nerves).  It would be really great if you all could be lifting her and the team she is going with up in your prayers. If you want to follow along with their adventures, here is a link to their team blog.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Maybe Mono

So I went to the doctor yesterday...I'd been sick for awhile and just wasn't really getting better. I also needed a prescription refill, which is why I'd made the appointment in the first place (and in general, I just needed a doctor other than urgent care, so this appointment was taking care of lots of things).  I talked to the doctor about the prescription I needed refilled and then talked to her about being sick.
Her answer:  I either have mono or I am dealing with the aftermath of influenza.  We're waiting on blood work to confirm or deny that it is mono.
In either case, I'm supposed to be resting as much as possible.  Which is absolutely not wonderful.  Seminary and resting don't exactly go hand in hand.
If you are a praying person, please pray for me. Pray that I am healed quickly.  Pray that I have the patience to deal with having mono.  Pray that I find ways to rest.  Pray that I figure out how to keep up with school while being sick.
Thank you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Facebook, M.D.?

A short time ago I was involved in a disagreement between two parties on Facebook (FB).  I did not get caught unawares in this disagreement, but rather inserted myself into it, in defense of one party, against the other.  Here's the situation:  A friend of mine, a mother of two children, had recently found out that one of her children has Celiac Disease, lactose intolerance and a few other food allergies.  She has been feeling a little bit overwhelmed by this (which is natural and completely expected) and has been asking her FB friends and for advice and support.  In this particular instance, her child had accidentally ingested some lactose and was dealing with the unpleasant consequences. She was seeking advice from her friends, many of who were living with lactose intolerance and/or Celiac Disease, on how to help alleviate her son's symptoms.  She got a plethora of advices, mostly on how to help with the stomach upset...everything from mint and ginger to Benadryl and activated charcoal. Then, after a time, another friend jumped in and chastised her for seeking medical advice on FB.
This is where I chose to insert myself into the discussion, no holds barred, in full support of my friend. And that is what prompted all the thinking that has fed this post.

When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease just over 6 years ago, my doctor didn't have a whole lot to tell me, other than to not eat gluten.  I found out how to cook without gluten, how to deal with "mistakes", where gluten likes to hide, and a myriad of other things from a support group, located in a town an hour way.  Since I couldn't drive yet, I only visited the support group once, but it would have been immensely helpful in those first few months to be able to visit it more.
When my parents found out that their children (at that time there were two of us) had food allergies, doctors were less than helpful in giving them advice on how to deal with them.  One doctor even told them that I couldn't live on wind and water, so just to let me eat whatever I wanted.  This by the way, was horrible advice, and had it been followed, I probably wouldn't be here to write this today.

In days and years gone by, support groups, whether formal or informal, have been the the "go-to's" when trying to deal with changes in life.  It is, I think, an instinctive behavior. When faced with a change, with something new or unfamiliar, we seek out others who have gone before us, others who know the path.  Before embarking on a wilderness adventure we want to talk to someone who has been there before, someone who knows the terrain - the dangers and joys of that location.  Before going on vacation, you talk to friends who have vacationed in your chosen location before you - seeking out the best restaurants and which sections of town you are best to avoid.  When a mother is expecting her first baby, she talks to her mother and her other friends who are already mothers - finding out what to expect, what worked for them and what didn't work them.  Same with potty training, separation anxiety, making pickles, beginning to drive, shopping for a car, making a quilt....we seek out others who have gone before us and ask their advice.

In days and years gone by, our support groups were very physical things, our neighbors down the street, the people we sat with at church, our families.  Today, with the Internet and the use of social networking sites, such as Facebook, our support groups have changed slightly.  Now, if I have a question about a new food, or how to deal with a reaction or need a new recipe, I have the experience of over 12,000 people to draw from.  That's a crazy huge support group.

Now, as much good as there is in these support groups, there is also, I think, some danger in these crazy huge support groups. They are great for support, but I think if one is not careful, they can be dangerous.  Support groups are not for diagnosing things.  That is the job of your doctor.  Support groups are not for treating life-threatening situations while they are happening.  That is the job of the emergency room.  Support groups don't always have good, correct, or complete answers.  That's the job of G-d.
Support groups do not replace your doctor, but when used with a good dose of common sense, they can be very useful.  They can help us learn to manage conditions.  They can help us generate questions to ask our doctors.  They can help us determine, in some cases, if we need to seek further medical attention.
I am in support of online support groups, when used with common sense.  I enjoy giving advice out of my lived experiences and asking for advice from others who have gone before.  The Internet, especially social networking sites, like Facebook, have erased borders and time zones, for better and for worse.

Are online support groups replacing something in our society?  I think so. Everything new replaces something old.  I think we just need to be careful what they are replacing and to ask ourselves if we really want replace that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Keeper of Secrets

This is what happens when I'm beyond exhausted but can't sleep...I write.  And you get to read it.
Keeper of Secrets
They come to me
Whispers on the wind
Quick glances so that no one sees
A note with words, short and broken
They come to me

They come to me
Broken, hurting, afraid
Excited, joyous, hopeful
Anxious, pleading, begging
They come to me

They come to me
Hurts that are big
Joys that are shaky
Fears that are all too real
They come to me

They come to me
I don’t always look for them
I don’t always seek them out
I don’t always expect them
They come to me

They come to me
I hold them in my heart
I lift them in my prayers
I cherish this act of trust
They come to me

They come to me
These whispers on the wind
These secrets from the dark places
These precious burdens of faith
They come to me

They come to me
And for a time, I carry them
But they are more than I can carry
They are more than my heart can hold
But still, they come to me

They come to me
And I hold them for a time.
Then I give them to the One who is able
The One who holds what I cannot
I give them to Him

I give them to Him
The whispers on the wind
The broken, hurting and afraid
The worries, joys, and hopes
I give them to Him

I give them to Him
He holds them closer than I ever could
He lifts them higher than I ever could
He cherishes them more than I ever coul
I give them to Him

I give them to Him
He gives me peace
He gives me rest
He gives me comfort
I give them to Him, my Keeper of Secrets
jep 15.02.11

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I have the best lover in the world.  Just saying.  And no, no matter what you say, none of you have lovers that even come close.  Sorry. Just take a peek at what He gave me for Valentine's Day.  Then you will know.
He had this delivered right to my back door. Can your Lover top that?

And He gave me this: 8 wonderful days without a seizure.

And He is giving me my voice back.  I can make noises with my mouth!!!

He also wrote me a love letter that is hundreds of pages long.  Here's just a piece of it:
My Child ~

You may not know me, but I know everything about you ~ Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up ~ Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways ~ Psalm 139:3 
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered ~ Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image ~ Genesis 1:27 
In me you live and move and have your being ~ Acts 17:28 
For you are my offspring ~ Acts 17:28 
I knew you even before you were conceived ~ Jeremiah 1:4-5 
I chose you when I planned creation ~ Ephesians 1:11-12 
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book ~ Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live ~ Acts 17:26 
You are fearfully and wonderfully made ~ Psalm 139:14 
I knit you together in your mother's womb ~ Psalm 139:13 
And brought you forth on the day you were born ~ Psalm 71:6 
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me ~ John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love ~ 1 John 4:16 
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you ~ 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your father ~ 1 John 3:1 
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could ~ Matthew 7:11 
For I am the perfect father ~ Matthew 5:48 
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand ~ James 1:17 
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs ~ Matthew 6:31-33 
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love ~ Jeremiah 31:3 
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore ~ Psalm 139:17-18 
And I rejoice over you with singing ~ Zephaniah 3:17 
I will never stop doing good to you ~ Jeremiah 32:40 
For you are my treasured possession ~ Exodus 19:5 
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul ~ Jeremiah 32:41 
And I want to show you great and marvelous things ~ Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me ~ Deuteronomy 4:29 
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart ~ Psalm 37:4 
For it is I who gave you those desires ~ Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine ~ Ephesians 3:20 
For I am your greatest encourager ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you ~ Psalm 34:18 
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart ~ Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes ~ Revelation 21:3-4 
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth ~ Revelation 21:3-4 
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus ~ John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed ~ John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being ~ Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you ~ Romans 8:31 
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you ~ 1 John 4:10 
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love ~ Romans 8:31-32 
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me ~ 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again ~ Romans 8:38-39 
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen ~ Luke 15:7 
I have always been Father, and will always be Father ~ Ephesians 3:14-15 
My question is ~ Will you be my child? ~ John 1:12-13 
I am waiting for you ~ Luke 15:11-32
                                                                                                   Love, Your Dad, Almighty G-d

Can your lover top any of that?  

Father's Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In case of accidental overdose...

So right now I feel a little like a walking pharmacy.  Just for fun I decided to take a picture of my "collection".  Before anyone panics, I'm not using them all at once, but I have used them all this weekend.  More than once even. And yes, I checked to make sure they all played nice together.
I may be a little less than coherent, but I have absolutely no voice and it frustrates me not to be able to talk to my friends, so I'm going to write, whether it is coherent or not.
Since I am on all these drugs, I've been reading lots of drug labels.  And I noticed something curious.  On most of them, they say something along the lines of "In case of accidental overdose..." It's usually followed by instructions to call poison control, 911, or go to the nearest emergency care facility.  None of them every say "give a glass of milk" or "induce vomiting" anymore. Too much liability I guess.  I understand that parents are going to want to know if their child grabs the Buckley's bottle and starts chugging, other than question the sanity of the the child for wanting to drink it.  Likewise with the icky banana-flavored nystatin.  But why do they feel compelled to put the word "accidental" on there?  Do the instructions change if it is an intentional overdose?  An overdose is still an overdose, regardless of intention...Sometimes I don't understand drug companies.
Speaking of Buckley's, does anybody know of anything that works better?  I'm maxed out on Buckley's and still coughing enough to worry my roommates and make tears run down my face and my stomach hurt.  Anybody got any suggestions?

Friday, February 11, 2011


Communication is something I take for granted.  Even with my hearing impairment, I am oral.  In other words, I speak and usually understand spoken language (often through lip reading). I have trouble in large groups, places with lots of background noise, and telephones or any place really where I can't see the lips of the speaker.
I'm used to being able to get my point across using my voice.  I'm used to being able to tell doctors what is wrong and how I feel.
Today, I got to experience what it was like to not be able to communicate.  I woke up with a wicked sore throat (I'd been working on it for a day or two already) and completely unable to communicate with my voice.   This was slightly problematic because I needed to go to the doctor.  I feared strep or bronchitis or both (there have been some real nasties going around campus the last few weeks).  Thanks to texting and facebook I was able to find a ride to the doctor.  This was more of a challenge than usual, because I needed someone who could speak "Joy" - a very special language that involves some ASL and some random hand gestures and lots of eye movements.  It was a language developed at Central when I was having so many seizures and wasn't verbal immediately afterwards. Only a small handful of people here at WTS know how to speak "Joy".  Since I was completely non-verbal today I had to find one of those small handful of people to come with me.  I did. :)
A wonderful friend accompanied me to Urgent care and "interpreted" for me.  It was so useful to have her along.  I'm not quite sure what I would have done if I had no one who knew "Joy" who could come with me.  Probably try and write everything out, which would also have been an adventure, since my handwriting leaves a lot to be desired.
After I got home with my medication, which was another adventure altogether (apparently I have a newborn who is sick...if my child gets sicker I have to bring her back to urgent care...that's what my discharge papers say), I took my baby's medication (because I knew it was really for me, not my baby, because I don't have a baby.   It had never crossed my mind that liquid medication, especially medication designed for small children, would be flavored.  I drew the syringe out.  It looked suspiciously yellow. I signed to my roommate that I wondered if it contained banana.  Only one way to find out...I squirted it in my mouth.  It tasted vaguely of banana.  My first instinct was to panic.  The last time I had come in contact with banana, it had been on someone's hands who had touched me.  I had needed 75mg of Benadryl to pull out of it.  I couldn't determine if the hint of banana was artificial or real.  My tongue was starting to feel funny, almost like a pre-reaction. I wasn't sure it was a reaction or the "funny feeling" the doctor had warned me about. There was only one thing to do call.  Call the pharmacy.  Except I had no voice.  Thankfully I have an awesome roommate who was willing to make the call for me.  The pharmacist assured her that all flavoring was artificial.  I hoped and prayed he was right, because if he was wrong, we were wasting precious seconds.  Now, a number of hours later, I'm fairly certain he was right.  Otherwise, I'd be hanging out in the emergency room on a million and five monitors.
It was weird to have to depend on someone else to get my message across.  I had to trust my friends to communicate on my behalf. It reminded me of a Bible verse from Romans 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
When we don't know how to pray, G-d listens to the Spirit who communicates on our behalf.  When I couldn't communicate for myself, the doctors and nurses and pharmacists, listened to my friends who communicated on my behalf.  Just like I had to trust my friends to get my message across, I have to trust the Spirit to communicate with G-d on my behalf.  My friends are trustworthy.  The Spirit is a bajillion times more trustworthy.  That is a great comfort.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

If you're gonna have a bad day...  might as well have an awful day.  Because at least then, you can laugh about how ridiculously awful it was.
I woke up before my alarm this morning, which is a good thing, considering I managed to sleep through it earlier this week, but a negative thing since I woke up because my congestion was so bad I was having trouble breathing.  I started my morning with a shot of Buckley's (linked for all you non-Canadians) and a quick breakfast, because it was Thursday, which meant I couldn't eat breakfast in my 8 am class like I do rest of the week.  I e-mailed mom to tell her my precious Buckley's bottle was almost empty and I needed her to send more with someone coming this way tomorrow.
I got my fancy Thursday clothes on (T-shirts aren't allowed in my Thursday class) and made it to class, armed with a cup of respiratory tea.  I settled in for a lecture on the Gospels.  At least, I think that's what it was about.  I was having a hard time focusing (I may have taken some Mucinex and Sudafed along with my Buckley's), but I made it through 3 hours of class, including chapel break.  During break I tried to make some repairs to a Silent Praise practice video so I could set it to re-export (the most time consuming part of the repair process).  I discovered that the source files had been corrupted. I don't even know what that means, other than I had to start all over.
By the time class (and chapel) was over I came home, ready for another dose of Buckley's and lunch.  I accomplished both those things, then noticing a bit of a sore throat developing, decided to take my temperature.  There really ought not to be three digits before the decimal point when you take your temperature.
Regardless of the rising mercury, I had an off campus meeting with someone so I grabbed my bicycle gear and headed out.  As I was unlocking my bike, I dropped the padlock in the snow.  I searched for it, but couldn't find it.  I still had my little lock, and didn't want to be late for my meeting, so I left, resolving to look more thoroughly for it when I got back.
I made it to my meeting in time and checked my text messages quickly.  Olga was reminding me that we had a Greek assignment due tomorrow.  We set a time to work on it together.  I met with my friend.  Now my friend has an indoor palm tree in her sitting room.  I've been there before, so I was aware of this fact.  However, this indoor palm tree has decided that it is spring time.  It is budding and blooming.  Read: producing pollen.  Chalk up my second pollen induced allergic reaction for February.  (The first was Tuesday when a prof brought a hyacinth plant to class).  It is February. I live in Michigan. I should not be having pollen induced reactions.
I made it through my meeting and decided to head over to the aquatic center to work off some stress (and maybe loosen some of the mucus in my lungs).  I unlocked my bike and headed in that direction.  The sun was shining beautifully. I got to the aquatic center and went to lock my bike to the tiny part of the bike rack sticking out of the snow.  I reached for my keys and found what was left of my key chain.  I looked on the ground around me.  They weren't there.  I climbed back on my bike and retraced my route.  Still nothing.  I went back to the aquatic center.  No go.  Went back to where I had come from.  Still no keys.  I gave up and went home.  I couldn't go for a swim without my keys...I couldn't lock my bike and there was no way I was leaving in unlocked at the aquatic center.  This made me sad because I haven't had pool time for two weeks between ear/sinus infections and blizzards and my body really really wants pool time.
As I headed home I realized that I had lost all my key, house, key, mail box key...I hoped that one of my roommates would be home when I got home.  Otherwise, I was gonna be locked out.
I got home and tried the door.  Locked.  No one home. I turned back towards the seminary, unsure what I was going to do. I was freezing from being outside so long looking for my keys. I saw my roommate coming and sighed in relief.  She unlocked the house and I brought my bike down to the basement, since I can't lock it outside with no key.  Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it is desperate need of a service job and it's rather cold outside to do an outdoor service right now.
Then I told my roommate about my misadventures.  She laughed (in a good way....I was already laughing and crying).  My throat was hurting worse so I went to take a look at it with my throat-looking light.  It was not a pretty sight.  I'm not sure if it is streppy, angry from my allergic reaction(s) this week, or just raw from coughing so much.  I've decided, in my expert medical opinion,  (Please note how much sarcasm is dripping off that clause) that it simply cannot be strep.  I finished a round of antibiotics less than a week ago.  If I had strep, it would have already been in my system by then, and the antibiotics would have killed it.  (unless of course it was antibiotic-resistant strep).  So for now, no doctor.
I made some special tea, messaged Olga and asked if she wanted to do Greek then instead of the later time we had set.  That was fine, so she came over and we plowed through Greek.
Now it is 6:30 and my bed sounds very, very tempting along with a dose of nyquil like medication.
And this my friends, is how you have a truly bad day.  (I may have missed things.  my brain hurts)
Redeeming point of the day:  Sara Groves music courtesy of an amazing friend.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Earlier this week I asked Mom to send me one of my favorite recipes - Brains for the crockpot. Since Mom is amazing, she sent it to me, so the other day, I made Brains for the crockpot.  Now, Brains had a different name originally, but originally it also had lots of dairy products in it, so I'm comfortable simply calling it Brains.
It got its name while I was in high school, when someone, I can't remember whether it was a friend or foe, asked, either jokingly or jeeringly, if I was eating brains.  It went kinda like this: "What are you eating? Brains?!?"  For some reason I felt compelled to answer affirmatively.  The name Brains stuck.  Personally, I think it's a better name than the original name that had the word "surprise" stuck in it somewhere.
This is the recipe, as Mom sent it to me:

 Ingredient amounts per serving
1- 2 medium potatoes
2 oz firm tofu
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup goat milk, broth or boullion
1/2 Tbsp. Butter
one medium red onion, diced
1/2 Tbsp. Thickener, (flour, potato starch, etc)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp dried thyme or fresh thyme leaves
1 slice cooked, crumbled bacon

Butter the inside of the crock. 
Peel and cube potatoes, 1- 2 medium potatoes per serving needed, and place in buttered crock. 
Cream together in a blender 2 oz firm tofu, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/4 cup goat milk or boullion, per serving. Set aside. 
In a saucepan, melt about 1/2 Tbsp. Butter per serving. 
Saute in the butter, one medium onion, diced per serving.  Red onion is preferred but white will do. 
When onions are soft but not browned, sprinkle with a thickener (flour or potato starch), equivalent to the butter used, to make a thick paste. 
Add to hot thick bubbly paste the mixture of creamed tofu, salt, pepper and boullion or goat milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until it has formed a thick sauce. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Stir in until well blended, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1/8 cup mayonnaise per serving.  Sauce will be thick and creamy. 
Mix in to potatoes and put in crock.  Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp dried thyme or fresh thyme leaves and 1 slice cooked, crumbled bacon per serving. 
Cook in crock on low for 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve and enjoy.

So after lunch, before  I had to head back to class, I decided to make a batch and stick it in the crockpot.  I was in a bit of hurry (and slightly lazy), so I didn't bother to peel the potatoes, just washed them gently and cut them into big chunks.  I did use butter on the crock, but that was the only butter I used.  
Instead of chicken broth like we usually use at home, I used goat milk, just because I could.  Since I was a little concerned about the strong flavor of goat milk, I threw a chicken bouillon cube in as well when I was whir-whirring the tofu and milk.  
I fried the bacon in my cast iron and then used the bacon fat for frying the onion.  Tapioca starch was my thickener of choice and I replaced the mayonnaise with veganaise (egg free, GF, dairy free mayonnaise substitute). 
I mixed it all up and chucked it in the crockpot and then went back across for the street for class.  Because my roommates are awesome, they even turned the crockpot off for me at dinner time because I was still sleeping off a large dose of Benadryl.  So when I finally woke I, I had a wonderful pot of Brains ready to eat. 
Between the drugs still in my system and the fact that I was eating something called Brains, I did feel a little like a zombie.  But I'm not a zombie.  For reals. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Psalm 13

This is a blog post that I really don't know how to write.
Less than a week ago I put up a post rejoicing in 50 seizure free days.  I'd begun to hope that my battle with seizures was over.  I'd imagined what it would be like to drive, how it would feel to apply for a job without having to disclose that I had seizures, what it would be like to go to the pool without having to warn the lifeguards that I had a seizure disorder, what my med-alert bracelet would say without the word "seizures" on it.  I was living in a state of guarded freedom, enjoying going to class without having seizures that disrupt everyone.
Until last night.
I was having dinner with my roommate when the pre-seizure hit.  We moved to the living room where it was safer, if it came.  We were crying and praying, begging G-d not to let it come.  It came anyways.  We cried more after. It had been 55 days.  55 wonderful days of seizure free-ness.
I don't understand why I had a seizure last night.  I don't understand why this isn't over like I thought it was.  I don't even understand how I feel right now.  I do know though that I am grateful for everyone who has been and is continuing to pray for me (I apparently sent a text message out while I was regaining consciousness). I am also grateful that I serve a G-d who is big enough to take my anger and hurt and that I belong to a faith tradition that has room for anger at G-d.  We even have models of how to do it well in the Psalms and the book of Job.  A friend, who understands just how much it sucks to have seizures, sent me this song today.  It's called "How Long O Lord" and is a musical version of Psalm 13.  It echoes pretty close how I'm feeling today.  I'm not quite as good as David at getting to the trusting in unfailing love and rejoicing part, but it will come.  I haven't come this far for it not to come.  Here's the song:
"How Long O Lord"
The captioning isn't great, so here is a link to the lyrics:  Lyrics to "How Long O Lord" (or look in your Bible. It's Psalm 13.)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sometimes I Paint...

Sometimes I paint because I'm happy.
Sometimes I paint because I want to paint pictures to go with a Bible story.
Sometimes I paint because I'm sad.
Sometimes I paint because a church service has really touched me and I see an image in my head.
Sometimes I paint because I really want to finger paint.
Sometimes I paint because I want to make a picture of a song.
Sometimes I paint because I'm hurting.
Sometimes I paint because I don't want to do my homework.
Sometimes I paint because I'm angry.
Sometimes I paint because a picture expresses more than my words can.
Sometimes I paint because it's fun to do with friends.
Sometimes I paint because I'm trying to memorize a Bible verse.
Sometimes I paint because I'm scared.
and sometimes, I paint just because I need to paint:

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Snow Day!

Yesterday we had a snow day.  Not just the public high schools and elementary schools, but everyone.  The reason for this: a blizzard.  It was the first time I had a snow day since high school.  I was ecstatic when we got word on Tuesday night that the seminary would be closed all day Wednesday.
I started Wednesday off by staying up late Tuesday night talking with a good friend and brother and sleeping in Wednesday morning.  Then I spent some time in the kitchen doing some baking.  None of it is actually completely finished yet, so no pictures yet.  I made chocolate chip cupcakes, but they still need the chocolate "buttercream" frosting.  I also made homemade chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreo type), but they still need the filling.  So, be patient and there will be pictures later.
Then, the best part of my day.  Snow toffee.  As a child, a fresh snow fall, especially one that meant we were home all day with the babysitter, meant snow toffee.   I made it a couple times in undergrad, usually in the evening, but I hadn't had opportunity to make it here yet.  A snow day, with lots of fresh snow on the ground, seemed like a good time to introduce all the neighborhood children to snow toffee.  I'd checked with one mother Tuesday night already, just to make sure that she would allow her children to eat it, so I knew I had at least two children to share with.
I don't really have a recipe for snow toffee, so I will attempt to explain the best I know how, how one makes snow toffee, complete with pictures, courtesy of Olga.
First, I put some water and brown sugar and molasses and white sugar in a pan on the stove.  I stirred it up and tasted it.   Then added more sugar until I liked how it tasted.  Sometimes growing up we'd put maple syrup in it.  Basically, you want yummy sweetness.
Then, I turned the stove on and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred. During undergrad this was always a great time to have long conversations with my RA.  As a child, the babysitter usually sent us outside to keep us out from underfoot during this stage.
Yesterday I did almost all the stirring with my snow pants and hat on. That way I'd be ready when it would be ready.
Olga made a really cool picture of the stirring action.  It bubbles a lot.  If you don't keep stirring, it will over-boil and make a big mess.  It will also burn.
You have to stir a long time. You know it is ready when you use your stirring spoon to dribble some into a cup of cold water (see my measuring cup sitting beside the pan?).  All of a sudden, when you dribble it in, it will become solid before it reaches the bottom.  It looks really cool when that happens.  Before it is ready it just kinda diffuses throughout the water, a little like food coloring in water.  You can't miss it when this finally happens.  I call this "the cool stage".
Once you reach the cool stage, it's go time.  As a child this meant that we had to have jelly roll pans packed with clean snow and up on the back porch (the babysitter didn't want to come out into the yard with us, and if we'd done it in the yard, the dog would eat it).  Now it means, grab the pan and run outside with it.  
Once you are outside, you find some clean snow and dump the toffee out in long, swirly lines. It will sink down into the snow, so you want the snow to be deep, or well packed.  Our snow yesterday was rather light and fluffy.
Then, using your fingers you pull part of a strand out of the snow and feed it to your roommates.
Then, you go collect neighborhood children and entice them to come eat "snow candy".  Of course, you make them ask their moms first.  You wouldn't want to be perceived as a creepy person or anything. Realize that you will have to explain to every mom (or dad) what snow candy is.
Then you feed it to the children.  They have mittens on, you being the nice grown-up, you take your mitten off, pick the toffee up and feed it to them.  
Then, you finish taking the toffee out of the snow, put it in the pan and convince your small children to go with you to deliver snow candy to all your other "friends" (our word for neighbors). After the small children are all hyped up on sugar and very sticky, you send them back home to their parents and you go back inside where it is warm and you rest.
Again, all photos in this post were taken by Olga. If you want to see more of her photos, including some that indicate just how much snow we got, check out her blog