Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who's in the Driver's Seat?

Mauschen (my dog) and I are exploring bike joring together.  Bike joring is a lot like ski joring, except it’s on a bicycle.  Joring is a sport in which the dog or other animal (horse often) assists the human in their work.  In joring, the animal and human are joined only by a joring lead, a special kind of lead that has bungee built into it do help with starts and stops.  There is no bit or bridle like with driving a horse.   Joring can be done individually or in teams.  In my case, it’s done individually, since I only have one dog.  She does a mighty fine job though.
The other day I sent Littlest Brother out to run her because I wasn’t feeling up to it (truth be told the only thing I was feeling up to was hunkering down in my bed and sleeping it all off).  When he returned I asked him how she did.  His report was not positive.  Mostly, she’d run beside the bike, veering off to sniff a lot and not pulling her weight at all.
I was shocked.  I’d taken her out every day in the last week and she had pulled beautifully; never beside me and seldom stopping to sniff anything.  Why was her behavior so different with him?  I took her out with me again the next morning and once again, she was pulling wonderfully with no problem (road conditions on the other hand were a problem).
I thought back to a time a couple weeks ago when we were in town and my sister had tried walking her.  She pulled on the lead, chased squirrels and generally misbehaved.  When I had Mauschen a few moments later she walked as if she had just graduated from puppy school at the top of her class.
Another time I watched as a family member tried to put the dog into a “sit” while guests were at the house.  Mauschen would have none of it.  Sitting was not in her vocabulary at that time.  I walked over, snapped my fingers and gave the command.  Her butt dropped and she sat, her tail thumping on the floor.
The dog hadn’t changed.  What had changed was who was driving.  The human factor.   Mauschen knows me and I know her.  It’s not that she doesn’t know the rest of my family, they are all very familiar to her, but her and I have a special relationship.  When we are out joring together, she is not just providing me with pulling strength, she is being my eyes and my ears.
When we are out together, I don’t ever where my hearing aids and very seldom where my glasses.  Essentially, I’m riding blind and deaf.   I have to trust her completely to make the right calls when we are riding together and I know she will.  If she refuses to cross a road, I know it’s because she can see or hear something that I cannot.  If she starts pulling to the side (and her nose isn’t to the ground in a sniff!) I know a car is coming behind me and I can’t hear it.
As I have to trust her, she knows that she can trust me.  If I tell her to sit and stay, she knows it’s because I have the situation under control.  We are a team.  I don’t try to overpower her and she doesn't try to overpower me.  We just work together.

This led to some life thoughts.  Who is in the driver’s seat?  Who am I in a partnership with that I trust completely?

The Sunday School answer of course is G-d.  G-d is someone who I can trust completely, someone who will always have my best interests in mind, even when I can’t see it.  Do I always live as if this is the case?  Far from it!  Often I find myself working against G-d, working on my own, without trusting him to lead me completely.  It’s sad that my 4 year old black lab trusts me more than I trust the G-d that created me.  Even sadder is the fact that I trust her to guide me through the everyday things of life more than I do my Lord and Savior.

Someday I hope to trust my husband they way my dog and I trust each other.  Mauschen and I share the load together, we trust each other to have the others best interests in mind.  I would hope to have that with my future spouse.

It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone looked out for everyone else and we all had each others best interests in mind.  That would be delightful. Then a economy of mutual trust would be built.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Neurology Update

To all of you who were praying for today's travels and appointment, thank you very much.  The roads were a little messy, but we made is safely both there and back.
At the hospital there was a lot of waiting, which is normal.
As it turns out, there was nothing really to worry about.  Dr. B just wanted to check in and make sure he was on the same page as my neurosurgeon in Michigan.  He is pleased that my seizure activity has decreased.  However, as with my neurosurgeon/neurologist, he is concerned about the increase in frequency and severity of my headaches.
A recent CT scan in Michigan showed that Spot is behaving so there is no new imaging scheduled at this point, which is a huge relief (I hate when I have to have imaging, and it's not overly healthy to keep exposing my brain to radiation).
The plan at this point is to increase one of my medications, one that is supposed to control seizures as well as headaches and see if we can find a level that is tolerable to my system and helps the headaches.  I'll start increasing tomorrow after I get to the clinic to fill the prescription.  Hopefully it will be tolerated well and will help.  That's our big prayer right now.  That the medication change will go well and that my headache will decrease.
Again, thank you so much for all your prayers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Unexpected Phone Call

Shortly before lunch today the phone rang.  I was back in my "office" (aka the bathroom of the grandparent flat: it's warm, dry, and quiet) struggling with a paper. There were enough other people inside that I didn't worry about answering it.  Shortly I felt footsteps coming towards my office.  I sure wasn't expecting any phone calls.  Mom knocked on the door as I looked up from Calvin.
"Dr. B wants to know if you want to see him."
My brow surely crinkled as I processed this new, unexpected tidbit of information.  Dr. B?  That's my neurologist here in Ontario.  In the City.  Typically it takes forever to get an appointment to see him.  And by forever I mean months and months.  I have plans to leave for Iowa on the 8th or the 9th and nothing is going to get in the way of those plans!  I forbid it to.
"He has an opening tomorrow if you want it"
Tomorrow?  As in the day after today?  yeah, I'll go.  I've been wanting to see him for some time now, just to retouch base and to discuss some important things with him.  Things like medication levels and debilitating headaches, and you know, maybe the odd seizure that pops up every now and then.  Afterall, he is my neurosurgeon.  Perhaps he'll want to peek at Spot, but I doubt it.  They checked on Spot not too long ago and said he was behaving.
So tomorrow morning, earlier than early, Mom and I will leave for the City.  Prayers would be appreciated.  It's a decent drive and some of the roads between here and there in the winter weather leave a lot to be desired.   Prayers would also be appreciated for the visit itself. There's always a lot of anxiety around these kinds of visits, especially when I'm being fit in on short notice.
So praying friends, please pray.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Sparrow

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  Matthew 6:25-27

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matthew 10: 29-30

Two sparrows for a penny.  Two sparrows, so insignificant, unless of course you have a special relationship to sparrows.  Out here they are a dime a dozen (which if you do the math is more valuable than the were when the Gospel of Matthew was written).  No one notices if they fly into the windshield or the cat gets one (as long as the cat doesn't bring it into the house).  Yet G-d notices.   And he feeds them.  All of them.  All the hundreds and thousands of sparrows that fly around, he feeds them all and cares for them and sees them when they fall.  How much more does he care for us?

When Scriven penned the old hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus", he wrote:
"What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer."

(and two more verses that can be found here)

For Scriven, nothing was too small to go to Jesus with, so here is my sparrow.
About 2 weeks ago I was switched to a new medication in hopes of better controlling my seizures and my migraines.  The first week I slept.  And I slept and I slept.
And then I stopped sleeping.  Completely.   I just don't sleep any more.  It's not for lack of trying, it's not for lack of trying to do stuff all day to exhaust me enough to sleep at night.  I just don't sleep.
Every once in awhile I can get an hour or two in, but it's shallow sleep, not deep, restful sleep.  As I got up this morning after another very restless night (I was up every hour at least), I had a strong urge to pray about it and to ask other people to pray.  So I am.
If you are the praying sort, please pray that I sleep.  Pray that I sleep at night and can be awake during the day, pray that my sleep is restful and life giving.
There are many more "important" things I could ask you to pray for.  The brother of a friend who was badly burned from the waist down.  A friend who is coming to term with twins who are both in the breech position.  People who are having the first Christmases without loved ones, friends who have just had very painful operations, my dog who got in a cat fight, my friend's baby who isn't gaining weight, discernment for my future...but that's not what I'm asking for prayer for.  I'm asking for prayer for my sparrow.  I'm asking prayer that the sleepless nights end and that I can enter this Christmas season well rested and ready to go.

So please, pray for my sparrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are you an introvert?

Someone asked me the other day if I was an introvert. It remind me of this blog post that I had tucked away in a secret place, waiting for the right time to post.  I decided today was as good a day as any.  So here it is.

According to people who know stuff, only about 25% of the people in the world are introverts. And like many things those 25% of the people fit on a continuum ranging from mildly introverted to extremely introverted. Other people  argue that everyone falls somewhere on the scale between extreme extroversion to extreme introversion. along a normal bell type curve with the majority of people would fall somewhere in the middle (I don't care enough to do the actual research and see who is right. popular opinion is that 25% of the population is introverted). I'm much closer to the extreme introversion end of things that the mildly introverted. People exhaust me. I recently read an excellent article  about introversion and I wanted to reiterate some of the points the author made.

1. Introverts don't like to talk.
This is simply not true. It's not that I don't like to talk. At times I've been accused of talking too much. But every time I've accused of talking to much it's because I'm talking about something that interests me. I despise small talk most the time. I don't care to talk about the weather unless we are about to be blown away by a tornado, there is cool stuff to take pictures of, or the like. Same with sports. Kids, children's programming, cooking, baking, sewing...those are all great things to talk about. Your story, why you do what you do, how you feel about events in your life and why...those are even better things to talk about.
If you want me to talk and to listen to you talk, lets go somewhere where there isn't a ton of background noise. I can focus on what you are saying better and really listen.

2. Introverts are shy.
False. I am not shy. I just need a reason to get out. I don't want to be a bother to anyone or interrupt anyone's thoughts.

3. Introverts are rude.
Not intentionally. I just don't see the world the same way as everyone else. Beating around the bush is a waste of time, unless you are actually try to flush a small critter out of the bush. Just tell me what you are thinking and let me tell you what I'm thinking. Give me time to find my words if I need them, but don't be surprised if I just want to speak my mind or ask super blunt question. Besides, there are less misunderstandings if everyone is clear with what they are saying. I'm not blunt to be rude, just to be understood.

4. Introverts don't like people.
I am almost laughing at this one. I love people. I love people a lot. My friends are super valuable to me and I would do anything for any of them without expecting anything in return. I just don't like to be superficial with lots of people. It goes back to not liking small talk. It also ties in with the next point...

5. Introverts don't like to go out in public and introverts always want to be alone.
I'm comfortable being alone. I don't like having to deal with everything that goes along with being out in public, but I get terribly lonely when I'm alone. I can also get terribly lonely when I'm with people if I'm not connected. I connect best with one or two people at a time. I also connect really well with children. They don't care how my hair looks or if I just want to build with blocks and imagine for awhile. Being in public can be very exhausting. There is so much to take in when you are in public...noises, lights, people. After day of Christmas shopping all I want to do is go to my room and be alone. Even talking to my boyfriend is too much sometimes (and I really like talking to my boyfriend). I go to church and then come home and sleep. If I've preached at that service I come home and sleep for a long time because that's even more exhausting.

6. Introverts are weird.
I can't really dispute that. But I'm okay with that. Yeah, I'm weird. I'm unique. There's no one quite like me and that's probably a good thing.

7. Introverts don't know how to relax and have fun.
False. We just do it differently. Relaxing for me is going on a walk, either alone or with someone, swimming laps, sitting and writing on awesome sites like or my blog, sewing, baking or otherwise amusing myself.

The article says more, but that's who I am and how it relates to me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finals Week

Every now and then Finals week and/or midterms come around.  About once a semester each.  And sometimes they don't  quite as planned.  Blog posts like "How to Study for Finals" or "How to write a paper in 45 simple steps" or this one about midterms get written. And then there are those really terribly awful midterm/final times like last spring when I ended up in the hospital for brain stuff.  Every time I have a bad bought of it, I assure myself that it can't get worse.  Except, it can.  And it does.
I write this because I know many of you are praying people and I covet your prayers (not only for me but for everyone in this finals season).
Sometime between (American) Thanksgiving and  the beginning of December I got a migraine.  I didn't think much about it since I get migraines every now and then.  Typically I ignore them and they got away.  If they refuse, a good dose of Tylenol and some extra sleep sends them packing.  This one didn't like those ideas.  I tried everything I knew to do.  It would let up a little every now and then, but then flare right back up.  The pain was keeping me from class and making me cry (something I don't do often in response to physical pain).  On the 8th I finally gave in and went to Urgent Care.  They gave me drugs for the nausea and a shot for the pain.  They told me to go home and sleep it off.  They were wrong.  I took more drugs at home (really strong stuff) and they didn't help either.  I ended up cancelling my babysitting job for the evening (which made me feel even worse).  By early evening I had tears running down my face again.  The drugs weren't working.  A tearful call to my neurologist landed me in the emergency room for some IV drugs, a CT and other tests.  The IV drugs succeeding in knocking me out (the 50mg of IV Benadryl may have had an effect on that).  I slept that night, but woke up in just as much pain as before.  
Monday was another call to the neurologist and Thursday morning found me sitting in his office.  There was no more playing around with normal drugs.  It was time for the big guns.   He hit me with everything he could think of and was successful.  The headache was gone by Wednesday.  But, so was my consciousness and wakefulness.
I slept from Wednesday through Saturday, pretty much nonstop.  A friend was over to help me out with something on Friday or so and while I was eating my dinner I fell asleep more times than we care to count...
Things haven't equalized yet and won't for awhile.  There will be another med change later this week.
Also, one of the meds that I was on to wipe out the migraine also wiped out my immune system and I've got a good case of the crud (which makes it harder to tell if I'm reacting to my new meds or not...just for fun)
It's also Advent; the second busiest season in the church year.
And it's finals week.

Prayers are much coveted.  Prayers for strength and for healing, for coherence and focus, for wakefulness at appropriate times and rest at appropriate times.   Praise for understanding professors and friends who help out with the little things and the big things.  Praise that our G-d is good.  All the time.

Friday, December 09, 2011


 Lately I've seen a couple youtube videos that seem to follow a certain style. They involve a young person who has a story to tell, often one that is sad. In the background music plays. Sometimes with lyrics, other times without. These young people have white cards. maybe 5X7 or so. On the cards are words, written in plain printing, black ink or markers. One card at a time they share their stories, their faces show some of the time between cards. You can tell when they are getting to tough parts or really good parts. Some of the stories end in tears, others with smiles. You never hear their voices, just read their stories. As someone who tells stories, it made me think. (okay, many things make me think for many reasons). In this case it made me think about our voices.
Where have our voices gone? Where have the voices of these young people gone?
Based on the nature of the stories I've watched, these young people are young people who have lost their voices. Some through years of bullying or other acts of harassment. Some feel regret for not using their voices earlier to tell people that they loved them. Some through mental illness. Their voices have somehow been lost, been taken from them, so they turn to technology to find it back. The homemade note cards in the videos give the videos a homemade, almost old fashioned type of feel. Reminds me of when the pastor at church uses the "poor-man's" powerpoint, a string across the front that he hangs poster board on. It's funny that htey have that feel, since they use modern technology to exist.
When I first saw them I thought it was a pathetic way for these young people to tell their stories, but then I realized that it wasn't. It was these young people digging deep into themselves to find all that they had left to get their voices heard. They no longer trusted their own voices and were trying to find someway to feel heard. More than one of these videos have gone viral (been shared and viewed so many times that news stations pick up the story, that changes actually get made). Their voices got heard. What has gone so wrong in our world that this is the only way young people are getting their voices heard? Why have the voices of humans been so devalued that they aren't heard? It's not just these young people whose voices aren't heard. Because their voices are eventually heard. If not with our ears, then with our eyes. Their messages get across, to more than perhaps their intended initial audience.
There are many more whose voices don't get heard. I think the the child crying to be heard by parents who are too busy with drugs or alcohol or work. I think of the wife trying to get her husband's attention. The orphan begging to be noticed by anyone. The homeless who just want some dignity. The lonely, the abused, the afraid...all who just want a voice.

When do they get their voice? When will we give them their voice back? How do we give them their voice back? How do those of us who have voices use them to help those who do not have voices?

How will you use your voice for the voiceless?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Daddy, is that blood?

"Daddy, is that blood?"
"No it just represents Jesus' blood.  It reminds of Jesus' blood"
I smiled as I listened to them talk about the meaning of communion.  Then the pastor began talking again.
"The blood of Christ shed for you" (no wonder kids get confused!)
With that, we all tipped back our swallow of grape juice.  The pastor offered a prayer and thus ended communion.  My notebook was out and on my lap as I scribbled furiously through the offering processing everything.

Why do we drink only a small swallow of grape juice (or wine if that is your tradition)? Jesus didn't shed just a little blood for us.  He didn't just prick his finger or scrape his knee.  He gave all his blood.  Every last drop was given for me, and for you, and for every one who calls on his name.  All of it.  He poured it all out.
When I'm at a communion service I just want to drink gallons of the grape juice, I want to wash in it, I want to relish in it (okay, that would be really sticky, but I'm speaking figuratively!) His blood has washed me clean.  Cleaner than any soap could ever get me.  His blood covers it all.

I think about blood a lot.  Not in a creepy way, but in general.  I've known some people involved in the occult, the darker side of things.  There it's all about the blood too.  The difference is in who's blood it is.  In my very limited knowledge of the occult, the blood required is always the blood of a mortal.  Either the blood of the person practicing or the blood of an animal or the blood of another.  I don't fully understand what the blood does or why it's important (as I said, my knowledge is very limited), I just know it plays an important role.  I also know that it's never enough...there always has to be more blood.
But in Christianity, the blood only had to be shed once.  Once and for all.  That's all.  No more blood was needed.  It just blows my mind and makes me so grateful, so thankful.

My blood will never need shed, the blood of another will never need on my behalf.  It's over.

"Daddy, is this blood?"'s not blood because we don't need actual blood anymore.  That's already been taken care of