April 11, 2016

Psalm 139

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Verses 13-16 are very touching to me right now, as I am following the story of two parents I attended college with. They have adopted twins, one of whom (Sam) is a normal, healthy baby, and one of whom (Ava) was basically born with out a brain (she has a condition called hydranencephaly). God knew this little girl. He knew what she would go through. He has used her short life (she will die soon and be buried by her parents and 6 siblings) to remind people that He has known us from before we were born. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, even if we are broken. God knows our inmost being, and He knows our days.

I have been so encouraged by the Lewises' story, simply because it has reminded me that no matter how broken I am, He has formed every one of my days. He has known me from before even my mother knew me. While I weep for the Lewis family, I am encouraged for me, and everyone else who forgets this on a regular basis. Probably all of us.

Here is a link to their story (including a video): Ava Lewis

April 10, 2016

A short prayer

Lord, open my heart to let you in.
Open my hands, that I may release all things into Your care.
Open my eyes, that I may see things as You see them.
Open my arms, that I may give love to those in need.

Lord, strengthen my heart, that I may use all of it.
Strengthen my hands, that I may do Your work.
Strengthen my eyes, that I may see others where they are.
Strengthen my arms, that I may help to bear others' burdens.

Lord, strengthen me from the inside out, yet keep me open.


February 17, 2016

Small, small world

Nope. I'm not talking about the Disney ride or the most annoying song in the whole wide world. At least once a month, my world gets smaller. Let me tell you how. I currently live in a Houston suburb.

  • One of my patients grew up in my hometown. She's my parents' age, but still.
  • A classmate that I graduated pharmacy school with landed in Houston. With the same company as me. With the same boss as me.
  • When I got here, I found out that the woman who was my boss's assistant worked with me as a technician when I lived in Birmingham, right after I got out of school.
  • A pharmacist in my district is from a "small town" outside of Macon (Warner Robins) and came to Texas because her husband is from here. That's me (not WR but Carrollton), and my mom happens to live in Macon. And that's why I'm in Houston.
  • A girl came in to the pharmacy (in Houston) who had an initial system address about 15 minutes from my hometown (you know I have to ask!). My dad delivered one of her babies.
  • A girl I went to high school with has in-laws in another Houston suburb.
  • A guy I went to college with has parents who know the couple who comes to see us every few months for the husband's cancer check-ups at MD Anderson.
  • A girl I went to college with moved back home to Houston and lives here with her husband and kiddos.
  • A girl I went to college with moved here at some point with her husband and kiddos and I didn't even know until she friended me on Facebook recently. We went to a Christmas concert at her church in December and I didn't even know. Had I known, I would have told her.
  • I went to college the same place as my brother-in-law. We didn't know each other until I was going to Brasil on a mission trip and we needed someone to teach us worship songs in Portuguese.
  • I wasn't supposed to go to Brasil on my first mission trip. We were going to Venezuela and the military overthrew Hugo Chavez. We had to go to Brasil instead and I met hubs on that first trip. (The rest of that story is long, but the small-worldness is acknowledged by many friends!)
 We've been here 7 years (together -- he's been here 20), and I continually marvel at the way God makes connections. One of my good friends is from a small town in GA and lives in Houston by way of California. Who would think, right?

I am convinced that God puts those things together, so that the small things are that in which we find commonality. Hubby and I? We met because of a "fluke" in world events. Are all of these things flukes? I have to think no. I am thankful for all the "chance" meetings I have had and the friendships that have been cultivated as a result.

February 10, 2016

Ashes to Ashes

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; from dust you are and to dust you will return."  Genesis 3:19

I never went to an Ash Wednesday service growing up (mom informed me we didn't have services), so after 37 & 1/2 years on this earth, I went to one tonight. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season in the Christian Church, and it comes the day after Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Mardi Gras (or Carnival) is, of course, the church's acceptance of the timing of a pagan ritual to dovetail it into a Christian tradition. As a Christian, that doesn't make Ash Wednesday any less special to me, because Ash Wednesday means that Easter Sunday is 40 days (without Sundays) away.

While Carnival is a time for feasting and celebration (sometimes excessively so), Ash Wednesday is a time for facing our own mortality. As a Christian, that is NOT the end of the story. I am mortal. I am sinful. But Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph, came to blot out my sinfulness and mortality. Blotting out my sinfulness means that I can stand before Him in the final days. Blotting out my mortality means that I will live forever.

In addition to those things, Jesus came to earth, died, and rose again to give the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is who enables me to make choices that are glorifying and pleasing to God. The Kingdom of Heaven came near when Jesus became a baby, and the Holy Spirit came when He died. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to make choices that keep the Kingdom of Heaven here until such time as we are reunited with God. In this life, He gives us breath and new life.

We are born, and then we die. Yet Christ allows us a way to be born again, so that we may never die. While the weight of my own sin is upon me, the reality of Christ's death and resurrection are a balm to my soul.

February 08, 2016

A New-ER Life

Last summer when we got home from a weekend with my family (my baby brother got married and we stayed with my brother and sister-in-law), hubby said, "It's time." That meant time to move closer to family. We are here in Houston, over 800 miles from both sets of family (not counting the part that lives in Utah), and it's tough. Since I moved to Houston in 2009, I've been "ready" to move back to Birmingham.

In 2009, I moved to Houston knowing ONE person. I'm an introvert, but I do need more contact than just my new husband (love you babe!). Through the years I have met and made good friends here, some through work, some from hubby's college days, some from just living in my neighborhood (they're awesome), and some from hubby's years in Brasil (If you forgot, his parents were missionaries there for almost 30 years and he grew up there). I actually became content in Houston, something I never thought I'd do. I still MISS my family (Nashville and Atlanta) and friends (Birmingham) in the "real" south.

I told my boss, and while he was disappointed, he said that in my position, he'd do exactly what I'm doing. Although that was affirming, he's kind of got his head in the sand and also said that if I don't move till 2050, he'll be okay with that. Hmm. That kind of stresses me out, but I have to remind myself that it's NOT. MY. PROBLEM.

Another move is on the horizon. We are headed to look at houses soon, and we'll be putting ours up for sale not long after. I definitely have mixed emotions. Our house is our first house that we've owned, though we've lived in 3 since we got married. Our neighborhood is awesome. My employees are fantastic. I had to turn down the awesome job opportunity of opening a brand new store to do what we want to do as a family. We are making sacrifices to be near family, and I don't mind at all. I feel the sadness of the sacrifices and the excitement of what the future holds.

I will be close enough to see my nieces and nephews grow up. I will be close enough (like I was in college) to jump in the car and head over for the weekend without having to go to the airport, park, go through security, get on the flight, get my baggage, and then drive to wherever I need to go. We will be far enough away that family won't be on top of us.

Here's to new adventures!

February 01, 2016

After the craziness of the beginning of the week, we had a death in the (extended missionary) family. Over seven years ago, we headed to Fort Worth to undergo premarital counseling from a couple who had been married almost 60 years, and had been in Brasil as missionaries for 37. Jerry and Johnnie Key were more than gracious to let us into their home and their married life, so that we might learn from them and have a chance of being married as long as they were. Johnnie passed away on Tuesday night, and we were able to make it to the service on Saturday. We were blessed to be invited to the family events, both before and after the funeral.

January 27, 2016

Yeah, I don't feel like such a klutz. I talked to my mom tonight and last week, she fell on the tennis court and hit her head on the court. She had to have 10 staples in her head. TEN STAPLES. The woman is almost Medicare-worthy (in age only), in great shape, and has never had stitches. But she's had staples in the back of her head twice. The first time was from leaning back too far in the porch swing and hitting her head on the brick porch.

I can now live with the fact that I waited till my 30s to have weird shit happen to me.
I am sitting in the middle of the unknown. I have a broken thumb that may need surgery to heal properly, I have a job that is totally overwhelming, especially in the midst of a State Board inspection that may result in a fine for me. I have a husband who is taking a licensing exam in another state so that we can move closer to family.

The unknown is weighing heavy on my heart and threatening to drag me down. My body and mind are threatening panic attacks. I'm currently able to keep them from becoming full-blown. I hope that increasing my exercise level and breathing exercises will help. The trick is actually doing those things.

The stress waxes and wanes -- from day to day, it's not the same. Today was a better day, as I had 9 hours of sleep last night and got some things done today before I went to work. Work was even okay. One of the major deficiencies with the Board has been corrected, at least to a point that they'd find it acceptable. I'm trying to convince my employees they're not bothering me when they tell me I have a consult. 90% of them are on board. My partner? He's worried about the amount of time it takes to be a manager. I remind him that if I didn't live 5 minutes away (he lives across the street), I wouldn't be in the store on my day off. EVER.

All that to say, I just wanted love last night. Yes, I realize that is quite the non sequitur. That's how my brain works. I asked hubs to pray over me. Before I could ask for exactly what I wanted, he started. As a result, I prayed for what I didn't get to articulate to hubs. In the first place, it was scary to ask for prayer. It was scary to admit that I was not even okay. Although I certainly prefer introspection, I HAVE to put my nonstop brain out there so I can have support. (Or not -- that's always a risk!)

Instead of putting myself out there, I want to RUN. I almost called hubs today to ask him what he thought about me getting the hell out of Dodge first and living with friends while he stays here to sell the house. I seriously considered that for about 2 hours, then I realized that it would be running before it's time to go. I'm growing, y'all! I will stay as long as the Lord has me here, even though I know that our time here is short. He is faithful to remind me that He is in control, that He has my back, that He knows what I'm going through, and that He knows what He's doing. He WILL put me in situations that make me grow, either closer to Him or away from Him (the preferred result is CLOSER). As stressful as life can be, I am thankful that God allows me free will and choice. Even when I am despondent, I can CHOOSE to trust. Even when I am angry, I can CHOOSE to believe that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. Even when I doubt, I can CHOOSE to ask questions and listen for answers instead of walking away. I can CHOOSE to walk through the things that are uncomfortable and icky and squirmy instead of running or shutting down.

And so, I CHOOSE to do the hard thing. I have had plenty of experience with that, but it's still hard. I will stay put until He tells me it's time. Tells us it's time.

January 20, 2016

I've got a career in a straight-laced (strait-laced?) profession in healthcare. The day-to-day seriousness gets to all of us sometimes, and humor is absolutely necessary. It doesn't mean that we don't care -- it means that we have to have some comic relief from the reality of the fact that we could kill you if we make a mistake. I follow a Facebook page called "Excuse me! This is a PHARMACY not a fast food restaurant!" Today, there was a photo posted of a prescription sent to a pharmacy by a doctor's office that said:

"DRUNotes: if generic is used, then remind patient it is because the pharmacist is as cheap and ignorant as the insurance morons."

There are SO many things I can say about this post, but my comment was that the doctor could have written for the patient to get brand name only and the patient would have gotten brand. Generic available? We substitute unless the doctor or patient tell us otherwise. My exact comment? "Or they could write "dispense as written." It's a thing, you know. smile emoticon" Of course, the smile emoticon actually looked like a smiley face.

As of 3 & 1/2 hours after posting the snarky comment, I have 222 likes (and counting!). I'm not a social media hound, by any means, but I like to keep people laughing about real life. As Emily Sailers (of Indigo Girls fame) said in an interview once (about the song Least Complicated, which is basically a song about putting your real self out there, I think), "You have to laugh at yourself, because you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't." As I look back, that one quote has defined the dynamic I keep in my workplace. We have FUN and laugh a lot. Not because our work isn't serious and important, but precisely because it IS. We need humor to get us through the day, what with the constant barrage of phone calls and e-scripts and weird questions (today's question: what kind of ephedrine is in the Bronk-Aid and Primatene tablets) and needy patients. We need levity to balance the gravity.

As for a career in a strait-laced profession, maybe there's a future for me in comedy.

December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Well, Christmas was anti-climactic, as we reached a high of 84 today and I had to work. We're 21 degrees above normal average for the high, and 29 above for the normal low. It doesn't "feel" like Christmas. I didn't "feel" like Christmas at work today. What did I do? Took my laptop and my stack of Christmas movies to work and played them all day.

Point of conviction today: I really didn't want to work. The Lord was sweet to whisper to my soul, "You were put on this earth to SERVE those who don't celebrate My birth. Show them who I AM with your attitude." WOW. I couldn't really argue with that one.

December 24, 2015

We just returned from the Christmas Eve service at our church. We are a satellite campus without a building, and we usually meet in a school. As has been tradition since our campus started, our Christmas Eve service was held at Tin Hall, Texas's oldest reception hall. Upon walking into the building for the first time, I realized that it's really an old honky-tonk. (Jesus would have TOTALLY been in the honky-tonk with the folks who didn't think they were better than everyone else.) We were blessed to be a small part of the long (126-year) history of Tin Hall. It will be closing its doors for the last time on December 31.

The service, as all Christmas Eve services, included tradition -- Christmas Hymns, a childrens' presentation of the nativity, and the final carol, "Silent Night" with candles lit and lifted. As we sang, the emotion of the story got to me with the final verse of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

Jesus was born so that I would not be a slave to death. He was born to give me birth of the Spirit (second birth). He came so that I might have a tiny part in the history of the world. For that, I am grateful, to know that I matter to someone because He made it so.