Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Bits and PIeces February 2, 2016

I finally don't have a migraine and have a few minutes to blog. But, all the things that churn around in my head when I have a migraine are still all twirled and twisted like noodles in my brain. I'll untangle them a bit later. Tonight, a fun post about life here in Chez Martin!

Yes, I've been having migraines. What more is there to say about that?

School was canceled today for a huge snowstorm, but it appears that most of the snow went north of here. Nonetheless, the four or so inches that we did get made a mess of the roads today, so I'm glad nobody was out unnecessarily. We just sat around and played on our electronics all day.

Well, except me. I folded clothes that were washed about a week and a half ago. Because I'm on top of things that way. Truly, though, laundry is my nemesis. PWM tries to help out, so he did a load of colored clothes and started a load of white clothes that I promise (pinky swear!) to fold and put away tomorrow. Unless I have a migraine, in which case all pinky swears are null and void.

Food is becoming an item of interest in our house. Ashley and I went to an Asian grocery store in Appleton last week. We bought some taro root and bok choy, items I've never eaten or seen in a regular grocery store. Ashley made homemade noodles, fried potatoes, taro dipped in sugar, and stir-fried bok choy with garlic. It was all yummy, although the taro and bok choy have been the least favorite Asian foods that I've tried so far. The taro doesn't have much taste, so dipping it in sugar is a good thing. The bok choy tastes fine, but the texture isn't my favorite.

I tried some pork curry tonight. It had three ingredients: pork, coconut milk, and green curry paste (also from the Asian grocery story). I served it over white rice. It was delicious!! So, I might be becoming a bit more of an adventurous eater! At age 48! Who'd have thunk it?

For Rosie Girl's high school graduation three years ago (has it really been that long?), I made her a scrapbook that I was going to have printed and give to her. Sadly, I never finished it and forgot about it. I remembered it because I am making a scrapbook of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party and another for Wild Man's graduation, and another (small) one for Ashley. I got the newest edition of the software and proceeded to look for Rosie Girl's album - and couldn't find it.

We have a back-up drive for our computers that we haven't hooked up to our current computers but that was functioning when I made Rosie Girl's album. I couldn't figure out how to get onto the drive. One evening last week, PWM tried a few things and was about to give up when suddenly, the folder popped up!! I hadn't lost the album!! He gave me a thumb drive with the files on it! Talk about a hero!! I'm working feverishly on finishing Rosie Girl's album so I can work on the rest of them.

I updated my Goodreads account - go check it out! While I was there, it asked if I wanted to set a reading goal for this year. I declined. I read 54 books in 2015. I think I'm just fine in the reading department. I'll probably read fewer books this year because I discovered podcasting. Yes, I realize that podcasting has been around for quite a while. I used to listen to some podcasts about 8 or 10 years ago, but I just listened on the computer. This time, I found Stitcher, an app that will manage my podcast subscriptions without having to deal with itunes, which is nice since I use an Android phone. My guilty pleasure is true crime books and, now, podcasts. But, I also like history, and I found a couple of podcasts about history and historical oddities.

Something else fun that I can write about now!! PWM and I had our DNA tested at Ancestry.com last fall. It was completely and utterly unsurprising. Mine came out all British, Scandinavian, and Western European, just like all the old family stories say. Well, actually, there has been a story that there was Native American blood on my grandmother's side, but it was never proven. I also found out last year that some ancestor's on my mom's side were actually slave owners (which was shocking because my mom's side as far as I knew were economically disadvantaged whites) which meant that there was a possibility of African blood, but the DNA says not.

PWM's DNA said that he's about half Mediterranean which is his mother's Italian side. His other half is Western Europe which would correlate very well with his father's Cajun (French) roots. So, like I said, not many surprises. But, it was fun to have it done. And, I couldn't tell anyone because having it done was a Christmas gift for PWM's mom who loves genealogy.

I'm still reading the book of Mark - very slowly because I read with the Barclay commentary. I'm also reading Beginnings by Steve Wiens, which I'll write more about later because I really enjoy it.

That's all that's going on around here. More later when I get the tangle in my brain a little sorted out. What's up in your neck of the woods?


Monday, January 25, 2016

Walking with Jesus

Living life as a Christian is often described as a journey or as our "Christian walk". I like to think of it as "walking with Jesus". 

I've been reading in the book of Mark. So far, the main thing that has occurred has been Jesus calling his disciples. In Mark 3, he calls his twelve disciples "that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach."

According to Barclay commentaries (along with other reading I've done, but, hey, this is a blog and not a term paper, so I don't have to cite my sources), when someone followed a rabbi, or Jewish teacher in that time, they would walk with the teacher. The teacher would walk from town to town and teach in the synagogues, so his followers would walk with him. The teacher would teach them as they walked, and the followers would handle food and shelter when they got to the towns.

When Jesus was on earth, he was confined to just his earthly body, so he took only twelve disciples for his "entourage" during his time on earth. There were times when he sent them out to preach, but otherwise, the disciples were with him to learn his teachings.

It's 2016, and Jesus isn't on earth in bodily form anymore. But, we have the Holy Spirit, who's one with Jesus in the mystery we call the Trinity. If we have "united our lives with Christ", that is, have believed in Jesus, then we have the opportunity to walk with Jesus.

How do we do it? Some people teach that after belief in Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit and walking with him is a separate act. Well, it was for this first Christians. Check out the book of Acts. But, since then, once we believe, we've got the package deal. Which means that we get to walk with God (Jesus, Holy Spirit) right from the beginning.

The disciples walked with Jesus by, well, walking with Jesus. They walked, Jesus talked, they listened. It's not that much different for us. We have the Bible. And, in 2016, with high literacy levels in this country, we don't have much excuse for not knowing the teachings of Jesus. Just read the Gospels. There is the caveat that some stuff is a bit specific to the 1st century and there is a little sarcasm that we might not catch, so a good commentary is a good idea. 

(Note: There were lots of years where most people didn't have access to the Bible. Most people in Christendom learned from the priests what Jesus taught. I imagine it varied widely what people actually learned about the Bible.)

That's not to say that you shouldn't read the rest of the Bible!! Just start with the Gospels. Then move on to the rest of the New Testament and the Old Testament. And make sure you have good commentaries for both of those - there are things that can be pretty confusing if you don't have some background info.

The disciples got to have Jesus in the flesh right there with them. That must have been awesome! But, we have the same access to him through the Bible and through prayer. We can walk with Jesus just like the disciples, but without the calluses! Although walking is a great time for praying . . . 

This is my encouragement to let Jesus be your teacher. Walk with Jesus. Hang out with him. Tell him your worries and fears. Share your life with him. You won't regret it.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

What's up? January 23

So, what's up in our house these days?? The main thing going on with me has been serious fatigue!! That's part and parcel of chronic migraine, and I know that, but it has been worse than usual this week. 

I think it has to do with wrenching my back two weeks ago. I was putting Christmas decorations away and I checked to see if a box was too heavy for me to life. Guess what? it was too heavy for me! And I seriously pulled something/everthing in my low back.

The NP gave me some tramadol for a week, but it wasn't doing much. I went back and saw my doctor who decided we'd better get aggressive with steroids, a lidocaine patch, and some stronger pain meds. That was definitely a good combination. My back isn't back to normal, but it's much better. And I slept for 12 hours last night and I'm not quiet as exhausted today.

(On a professional note, I've never used lidocaine patches for low back pain, but I'm really convinced of their usefulness! And, it keeps me from using systemic meds which have all kinds of negative repercussions for me.)

OK, on to something besides my medical conditions. We're still loving having Ashley, our exchange student, around. She likes to cook and was perfecting her chicken wing recipe for a contest at school, so we got lots of yummy chicken wings last week and week before. Delish! She's something of an artist and has been working on some watercolor art. And, she and Rosie Girl are taking a HipHop class together on Monday nights. Lots of fun. Well, except that it was about 0 degrees last Monday night. The joys of living in the Great White North.

Finals at the high school were this week. Wild Man pulled his first all-nighter. Apparently, it paid off. He got all his assignments finished with the grades he was hoping for. Yesterday the kids had off school for teacher workday, so I was at home with four teenagers. I always wanted to have the house where the kids came over to congregate!!

PWM and I are organizing using Getting Things Done, a well-known organizational book, and Chaos Control, a computer app that uses the GTD techniques. So, guess what??? I have a label maker!!!! We've both gotten our in-box and out-box situations taken care of as well as how information flows. Now, I get to organize the files. When my back quits hurting, I also get to clean the basement and throw away paper that's too old. I'm so excited!! It's really just the label-maker that's got me going!!

I'm reading a couple of good books right now - check me out on goodreads.com (catherine martin). One that I want to tell you about here, though, is beginnings by Steve Weins. The author goes through the days of creation and tells stories and does a meditation. I bought it because I love the guy's writing. But, the books is just amazing. On the first day, he talks about light and the spiritual discipline he encourages is the examen, or daily review. How powerful that is in just the week that I've tried it. And I've missed it so much when I haven't used it. I've just finished Day 3. There's so much to absorb. I haven't come across a book like this in a really long time. I'll write a real review when I'm finished, but I just wanted to gush a little tonight.

I think the only other real excitement is that I made jicama pancakes to have with our tacos for dinner tonight. They were better than I expected. So, if you've got a jicama that you don't know what to do with, check out Food Network for the jicama pancake recipe.

I'm too tired to talk politics and how our country is going to hell in a handbasket. Here's praying that you're having a lovely evening.


And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Faith

First, you need to  go read this blog at Storied Theology by Daniel Kirk. It's called "Giving up on Faith", but it's really just about faith.

Back now? OK. I have mentioned before that my dad considers a good working definition of faith to be "uniting life", so that when we become Christians, we are uniting our lives with Christ. And that really works as a definition.

I linked Kirk's article, because he brings out some of the same themes. Faith is more than just mental assent to some theological assertions. And that won't do. Believing that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected isn't enough for salvation. And, if you believed that, why wouldn't your life change?

In actuality, Jesus makes the first move toward us by faithfully obeying God through his death, burial, and resurrection. Our job is to be faithful, or to unite our lives with Christ. But, Christ has already done the heavy lifting. Romans 1:5 says that "through him we receive the obedience that comes through faith."

Salvation and the abundant life here on earth are gifts to us by God's grace. We don't earn them. But, uniting our lives with Christ produces faithfulness and righteousness in our lives. They fit together. Grace and faith go together.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Still Grieving . . .

It's been almost ten years since I've worked as a family doctor. Ten years of chronic migraine. 

I was reading a book today about what are the seeds God put in me to sprout. What is it that God has given me that I will never retire from? What is that thing that God put me on Earth to do?

I thought that was medicine. Not every day working was a great day, but, overall, I loved my career. I delivered babies. I did pediatrics. I saw adults and took care of acute medical problems as well as managing chronic medical issues. And I had nursing home patients.

But, then came the acute migraines. Which morphed into chronic migraine. And added chronic daily headache on top of that.

Between my pain and my medications, I can't practice medicine. And I really miss it. Really miss it.

According to my counselor, the grief won't ever really go away; it just changes. Hopefully, I'm into the acceptance stage of it now. But, it still hurts.

Grieving the loss of my career doesn't mean that I can't appreciate what I do have. I have an amazingly supportive family that has made adjustments as needed over these last ten years. I'm fortunate to have had a good employer so that I have good long-term disability insurance. I have a good neurologist, so my pain is under better control. And a family doctor and counselor who manage my depression.

And, when all is said and done, I know that God loves me and his grace is supporting me. John 6:33 "In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart, I have overcome the world."

So, I take heart.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Mark 1-2 Pray

So, I'm still in the first and second chapters of Mark. And it's made me think about prayer.

 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I've heard people use this verse (Mark 1:35) as a scriptural admonition for us to get up early in the morning to pray. If you are a morning person, like Jesus apparently was, I would agree. What I take away from it is that it is important to pray regularly. There are lots of other examples in the Gospels of Jesus going away to a quiet place to pray. In fact, there are lots of positive examples of people praying throughout the Bible. It's a spiritual discipline that is encouraged throughout scripture.

Mark 2 starts out with a story that is familiar to those of us who grew up in church. Jesus is teaching and healing in a house that is so crowded that no one else can get in. A group of friends has brought a guy on a stretcher to be healed, but they can't get in the door. Instead, they get on the roof and remove the roof tiles or thatch or whatever and lower him down into the room.

Mark 2:5 says, 'When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”' The story goes on with the religious leaders of the time chastising Jesus for saying he can forgive sins because only God can forgive sins. Jesus says that, to show that the Son of Man has the authority to heal and forgive sins, he will heal the man, and he does. The paralyzed man gets up and walks.

So, why do I love this story? After all, their are plenty of stories in the Gospels about Jesus healing people. Here's my encounter with this little bit of the Gospel of Mark.

When I was in my Family Practice residency, I worked pretty hard, as you might imagine. Well, I was having one of "those weeks". I was doing an OB/GYN rotation. I had been up all night delivering a baby. I had delivered another baby earlier in the week, at night, of course. I had several difficult patient encounters, including several teenagers with sexually transmitted infections and one young woman who got her positive pregnancy test, stood up, and said that she was off to the abortion clinic the next day. By Friday afternoon, I was completely brain-dead.

Then, my husband called to tell me that a friend/acquaintance of mine called to see if we wanted to go to a revival service with her that night because we were "religious and liked that kind of stuff". He was going to tell her "no" because he knew I was tired, but I said we should go to support her.

So, we went to this little Baptist church in a little tiny town in rural Kentucky for their revival service. My hopes weren't high. But, the music was good for me and let me relax and start to worship.

Then the preacher (from the big city of Bowling Green) preached his sermon. Yes, he preached on the story of the paralytic who was healed. But, the preacher focused on something besides the healing that night. He reminded us of the friends who brought the paralyzed man to the house and lowered him down to Jesus. Jesus told the man that his sins were forgiven because of the faith of his friends! The paralyzed man was healed because his friends brought him to Jesus.

They brought him to the feet of Jesus. That's our job. We aren't supposed to "fix" people or situations. We are to bring them to the feet of Jesus. Sometimes that means to be involved in their lives. All of the time, it includes prayer. Bring them to the feet of Jesus. Pray. Let God do the heavy lifting.

That night, I had the most emotional spiritual experience I have ever had. It's the time that I've heard God speak to me most clearly. "Bring them to the feet of Jesus." My life was starting to change at this revival service in a little church in rural Kentucky. And the friend that brought me - yeah, she rededicated her life to Jesus that night, too.

So, we see Jesus giving us the example of prayer. He's God, but he needs to communicate with the other members of the Trinity, so he prays. It's also a good example for us of the spiritual discipline of prayer. And then, in chapter 2, we see the working out of "bringing someone to the feet of Jesus." In that case, it's physical.

In many cases, bringing someone to the feet of Jesus is best done through prayer. I've learned so much about prayer in the last few years that I'd like to share with you over the next few weeks. But, the reality is that prayer is part of being united with Christ and having faith. Communicating with God is part of working out our faith, so it's personal and a little different for each person. But, starting with the example of Jesus of just doing it every day is good.

How does prayer work for you?
What do you think of the "bring them to the feet of Jesus analogy?" 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Grace

Grace. It's God's greatest gift to us. We sing about it. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me." It's the foundation of Christianity. That God sent Jesus to undeserving people like us.

I like to talk about grace. Talking and writing about grace helps me feel like I might be getting my head around this concept. Because most of the time, I don't feel like I "get" it.

Grace is undeserved favor. Grace is God doing something for us that we can't do for ourselves. In the most basic form, God sent Jesus to die for us so that we can go to Heaven. John 3:16 (say it with me, now) "For God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

But, that's just the skeleton. Grace is God's wondrous love that surrounds us and holds us up every day. 

Grace is the beauty of the lightly falling snow today.

Grace is Ashley cooking delicious Chinese food.

Grace is PWM's love for his students.

Grace is a doctor who cares that I have pain and wants to alleviate it.

Grace is all these things and so much more.

But what trips me up all the time is that God's grace is, by definition, free. Ephesians 2:8 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." God gives us the faith to believe, but I have trouble with accepting something free.

Maybe it's the perfectionist in me, but I feel like I owe God something. Yes, God wants our obedience, but we don't owe it to him. 1 John tells us that our actions display love because God is love. Our righteousness is a natural outflow of our relationship with God.

With the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, God wiped out all of our sin. And we had to do nothing.

That's grace. And that's amazing.

And I still don't have my head wrapped around it.

It's one of the glorious mysteries of faith.

It's OK, though. It's one of those mysteries I'm willing to accept.

Amazing Grace.