Wednesday, February 29, 2012

thanks for today

Some days I feel like I have lived my life in a perpetually bad mood. Arms crossed. Eyes gazed towards nothing on the ceiling. Bangs blown upward by the audible exhale of my sigh. All of these things are going on in my head as I go through my day, whether or not they physically manifest themselves is another thing. Like all human beings, I feel beat down by the world, realizing my cynicism makes me all the more cynical - all internal of course. I can get caught up in the little things.

But then something happens. Something bad, really bad happens. Not "someone stole my pen" bad... but something like 
"my dad had major surgery" bad or 
"my grandfather passed away" bad or 
"i cant make ends meet" bad or 
"i lost my baby" bad or
"i lost my faith and myself with it" bad
Bad, bad. 

These things spiral my thoughts into reality. I am able to watch my community band around those hurting, those in need and those who are lost. I have watched as people pray, they reach out and they believe that everything will be okay because we are loved by God and because He sent us each other. 

I realize I exaggerate everything and I'm not always in a bad mood. But I have realized that I do tend to focus on the smaller mishaps of life until something spins my head - something like prayer tonight.  Tonight I listened as people prayed after arts and crafts, there were 6 leaders, 3 elementary school kids and 1 high schooler. We sat in a circle and praised the Lord for his blessings, prayed for his provision in the ministry and asked for grace and guidance for future weeks. But then the young woman in high school said:
Dear God,
Thanks for giving us today.

so simple. so easy to miss. today, tomorrow and the day after are not promised. thank god for today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a mindless post for a heavy week....

I am burdened. This is an understatement. So instead of ranting before properly processing how I am feeling this week, I am going to post my favorite cooking secret that I have ever learned and that came in oh-so-handy last week while making a peanut butter mousse pie...

My roommate Emily is from Michigan...Holland Michigan to be exact. She really likes to bake and she is dutch - just like everyone in Holland Michigan...even adopted children from other countries are considered Dutch (i.e. Nicole - Asian, but Dutch).

Before moving out of Delaware I knew about zero people from the great state of Michigan....or maybe I had encountered one or two and I skipped over them not thinking much of it. When I moved to Colorado, I met 3 Michiganders and thought that was crazy. Then I moved to Philly and it seems like just about everyone I meet is from Michigan. As amazing as that hand-shaped state is, you all seem to be moving pretty far from it by moving here though.. (just a thought).

Anyway, my Michigander roommate taught me the best baking trick ever. Have you ever tried baking with peanut butter? The recipe may call for 1 cup peanut butter, but by the time you have scraped all the PB into the 1 cup and then scraped all the PB out of said measuring cup into the mixing bowl you are likely to be missing at least 1/4 due to PB sticking on the side of cups and on spatulas and in my hair....Well Michigan has brought us all the answer by way of Emily. If you need 1/2 peanut butter, fill a measuring cup up to 1/2 with water and then add the peanut butter until the water reaches 1 cup, drain water and MAGIC! You are left with 1/2 cup peanut butter and no PB stuck to the side. To demonstrate I took pictures of my baking experience last week.....please see below and be amazed. 

measuring out 1 cup peanut butter (1 cup water, 1 cup PB)

drained water, pb in mixing bowl and measuring cup almost all clean! I didn't even use a spatula
finished product, it was wonderful.

Friday, February 10, 2012

thoughts on crying, strangers and ethiopia

Before 2008 when I moved to Philadelphia, I never cried. Never. I mean it. I could count the number of times I cried in high school on one hand.  Okay let me rephrase that, I could count the number of times another human being saw me cry on one hand.  But I moved to Denver, and I grew up in many ways, both big and small. Then I moved back East, thinking I left the West behind. But unbeknownst to me, the west must have gotten into my soul in a way that unleashed the waterworks of my eyeballs. I started to cry in 2008 and I just don't think I ever stopped.

I have a tendency to cry at the most inopportune moments - like on the bus  where it is quiet and full of strangers, in front of boys who become paralyzed with fear and anxiety when they see the welling up of a girls eyes, while wearing make-up, and at work.  

There is something exposing about crying, because at least when I cry I know it is not pretty and I tend to say things I don't mean. Picture mouth turns downward and the cheeks wrinkle towards my ears, tears stream and the make up runs with it, my voice starts to get really high-pitched and then all my words start to run together to form one-giant-run-on-sentence. I see the look on people faces, the look of utter concern and utter shock that my face could distort in that way. In order to break the tension and awkwardness of the situation, I begin to talk and say exactly whats on my mind, throwing "appropriate conversation etiquette" right out the window.

Over the years, I have realized that I tend to exaggerate things...including the way I describe my levels of crying. This past summer, I was talking to a friend and I while I was recounting a story I used the phrase "I started to sob" (using hand motions and all). He stopped, looked at me and said "Sob? Like really sob? Or were you just welling? Were there even tears? I think you need to work on your vocabulary". Ever since this conversation I have categorized my tears into: welling, tearing, crying, and sobbing.  This has really improved my story-telling skills, of which I need little improvement but I guess we can all work on life skills. 

On thursday this week, I was at work and having a pretty rough day. There were several moments that I checked my phone waiting for my Mom to call and give me an update on my father's doctors appointment and status of his surgery. My heart would race every time my phone blinked, beeped or someone called. All day - I welled. 

I went into exam room 5 at one point in the afternoon and was so deep in thought that I didn't notice who the 2 people in the room were. I set up the computer and was in the middle of wiping down the slit lamp, when the husband looks at me, smiles, and says "hello" in a tone of recognition and familiarity that caught me off guard. I looked at him and was equally caught off guard by who it was, a patient who was from Ethiopia.  He and his wife came here to have a surgery done. We met about 3-4 months ago and I talked to them at length about their work - missionaries in their home country. 

The husband looked at me and spoke in a manner that I couldn't help but think of Rafiki from the Lion King. He smiled and asked if I had given any more thought to the mission field and I simply replied I have, I'm in it. 

We spoke even more briefly about my father and the wife felt urgency to pray, and so, because I am obliging to patients, we prayed. She shut the door, I closed my eyes and she began. As she spoke, welling happened, and then tears and then sobs. The beauty of prayer from someone who feels the spirit and knows Him intimately is one that leaves an impression on the heart. They spoke with the peace, knowledge and wisdom of knowing that a great and powerful God is in control. I listened and surrendered to the fact that I am not. 

Sometimes when I am at work, my patients give me hugs before I leave. On Thursday, a day I was upset and discouraged, and on edge I received far more hugs than normal  and prayer from a fellow life missionary.  God is present, but sometimes I like to think all of my life happenings are coincidental or that I had some say in the way my day panned out.  Sometimes I think I have to give name to what is really happening - God is happening all over the place.