Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

I had a lovely weekend these past three days.

Chris and I worked very hard at reorganizing our study - including putting a new desk in which I have been wanting for a couple of years now. It looks GREAT. For any of you who have ever been to our house, or even more, stayed in our study (which can act as a second guest room), there is so much more space now - it's lovely and makes me very happy.

I'll take some pictures and put them up soon.

The rest of the time was just nice and relaxing down-time with my husband.

I'm afraid Memorial day itself was not much more than just a nice extra day off for me. I had an interesting experience on Friday. I was getting ready for work and listening to NPR (as I always do in the morning - as biased as they are, they do at least provide okayish news coverage). They had a story on there about this man who's mother had died and he was spending time with his father and found out his father had this tradition (that he knew nothing about prior to that time) of going to the graves of every person who had deeply impacted his life and decorating them with flowers.

It got me thinking on a couple of veins...

1. Is it just me or is Memorial Day in and of itself an almost pointless holiday in this country? Before anybody gets offended by that statement, let me clarify! I don't mean that it should not be observed (in fact I believe the opposite) but that the day itself does not seem to be utlized as it was intended - a day of remembrance and celebration of America's troops who have died in service.

I think it is very sad that it feels so pointless to me, but that is simply what I have observed. I have seen more people utilize it as a general memorial day for those who have died than I have seen the holiday used in memory for troops. And honestly, I really see more people going on picnics and having barbeques without any mention of memorial related ideas (troops or otherwise) than I see people actually using the day as any kind of memorial.

Why is this? It can't have always been that way. What has caused the seeming disconnect between the purpose of the day and what I see occur?

2. The story about the specific man commemorating these individuals who have impacted him by decorating their graves on memorial day was very interesting to me. I think it's a neat story, but I got to thinking about how disconnected I feel with such a story.

I realized upon reflection that this man must have lived in the same town his whole life. He talked about putting flowers on the grave of this person who helped him when he was a teenager and that person who guided him in his first job and another individual who taught him to drive and let him borrow his car for dates......

The whole concept is essentially foreign to me. Not that I haven't experienced the help of so many random people in my life, but that all those people would be in the same town. Buried in the same cemetary. If I were to go put flowers on the graves of those who have impacted my life thus far, I wouldn't even know what country to begin in never mind what cemetary!

I do think the idea of taking the time to honor those individuals is a good one. But how to do so?

Friday, May 23, 2008

My food saga

So, I was glancing over some of my blogs and realized that I really haven't updated any of what is going on with my food problems.

Last I left it all at, I was trying to get fructose out of my diet to see if that helped. Well, a few weeks of that (highly frustrating because fructose is literally in EVERYTHING!) I was seeing some minor improvements but still in a lot of pain and having a lot of issues. After talking it over with my sweet Christopher, I decided to try a totally new route, a naturopathic physician. We had heard of one place with tons of high praise from a couple different sources. I had hit a point of just sheer frustration at feeling sick all the time, nothing helping, doctor's being rather unsympathetic and highly unhelpful, and feeling miserable and run down and just not good.

So, I went to the clinic - Abundant Health and Wellness - and talked to the Christian doctor there (Dr D for ease of writing). First drawing point for me is the fact that he is an MK who grew up in Africa. Has a great accent and of course completely gets the psychological side of me that many other people really don't understand. As we were talking about my background and what's going on, he asked the all-telling question of "Is America home yet or are you still in foreign land?" It's a surprisingly comforting question simply because it tells me that the person I'm talking to instinctively knows some of the issues of my life having experienced them him/herself.

Making a long story shorter (!), we decided to try out the program he recommended for me. I am currently on it - have been for two weeks. It involves cutting out a HUGE amount of certain types of food (think no corn, soy, wheat, sugar, beef, or pork among various other things). I also took a very interesting food stress test which essentially pinpointed many of the foods (surprise, surprise many being high in fructose) that my body is basically not liking right now. Some of these included egg whites, high fructose corn syrup, olives (why I don't know - I don't touch olives! Apparently for good reason), strawberries, and many more. Not that I'm necessarily "allergic" to these foods, but that my body tends to react poorly to them, especially currently.

Along with cutting out high acidic/reactive foods, I'm also taking some different vitamin/mineral/herb mixtures. The basic idea being to be nice to my stomach for a few months and essentially, in the long run, reline the lining of my stomach which is being worn away. He asked me about what has been going on in my life the last few months or so that might be causing extra stress (i.e. why has all this really started bothering me now). I just kind of laughed at that question! But, it seems the next step from just the stomach pain/issues is developing ulcers. And I really don't want to go there.

One of the mixtures I'm taking has aloe vera extract in it and licorice extract. And it tastes probably worse than sounds! The other isn't so bad just kind of gritty when I drink it.

So, what are the results? Well, it's taken about a week, but I've noticed most of my stomach pain has decreased dramatically, and I can tell when I eat certain foods because I start noticing pain and weirdness again very quickly.

On a downside, I have developed quite a bit of acne (I normally have extremely clear skin with only the occasional - think every few months - pimple here and there which becomes a temporary boulder on my face). It's not noticeable, but if I touch my face and even on my arms, I can feel the bumps everywhere. My allergies have also increased quite a bit. On a good note though, in talking to Dr D today, he said this is actually exactly the reaction I should be having because it means I'm dumping toxins and cells and whatnot and replacing the garbage in my system. Unfortunately, that garbage has to work it's way out somehow, and so it's choosing my face!

The other thing I've noticed is that I'm still tired a lot - although a lot less fuzzy-headed - and my body has been a bit more sore lately...all of which he said is normal. And it makes sense. If you're forcing your body to start correcting itself, it's probably going to hurt a bit.

Getting rid of the fructose was actually a really good start because it got my body adjusting to being without certain foods and got me mentally prepping for some of this. It's been an interesting few weeks, but on a two week review, I think it's helping. It may take a few months, but I think in the long run, it will be worth it.

I do really miss my dark chocolate though!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Airports

I drove my baby sister to the airport this morning. It's funny how you're brain wanders at 6am as it's still trying to wake up.

The first place it wandered to was from her comment about how peaceful out it was at this time of morning. I couldn't help but think that for three years I was driving to work at that time of morning every morning.

My first year of non-teaching is almost up, and it feels kind of weird. I've decided I miss teaching. However, I don't miss what I was doing. I don't miss the public school system and the sometimes frustrating and useless feeling that I would get from doing a job that it sometimes seemed that many people involved could care less about whether I did well just so long as I kept the right statistics high enough. I don't miss grading thousands of papers and spending every free moment of my life somehow involved in planning or grading.

So where does that leave me? I don't know. I think sometimes that I would like to go back to the classroom, but it would have to be something different. I don't want to teach literature any more. Straight writing, possibly, although then I'm still looking at thousands of papers to grade! I still think TESOL would be fun, but I really don't relish the idea of being back in the public school system at all. I guess that's a door that I'm going to have to see if God opens for me, and until then I will carry on with what I feel He has called me to do currently. And I do feel that I have been led here to where I am.

When I consider everything we've been through the last year and the idea that I might not have only been teaching last year but I would have been department head - I breathe a sigh of relief that He gave me the conviction that I needed to not be teaching this year. I know that the amount of stress and frustration we've been under the last year would have made teaching this year horrific. And, the position I have wound up in is something that I'm watching slowly growing and expanding in what it means, and I really do believe that I'm where I am supposed to be - at least for now.

The second place to which my brain was wandering was the fact that my sweet baby sister is not only nearly 19 years old, but she's officially a sophomore in college now. And she's been here for a whole year now. Well, not here in this town specificallly but here in America. It's hard for me to believe that much time has passed. I know it's hard for her to believe it as well! It seems like only yesterday we were shopping for sheets and dishes for her dorm room.

It's been an interesting year watching her grow up into a college student. She's had some bad times and done some dumb things, but I know she's also had some glorious moments and I've been so impressed by her spirit and the beautiful woman she is becoming. I'm glad she decided to come here. One of the problems with being an MK is that family relationships can be a bit weird at times. For example, the fact that my brother, sister, and I are all living in the same town together at the same time for the first time in 15(?) years since he was in high school, I was in middle school, and she wasn't even in school.

Because she's so much younger than I am, I've missed out on some of the "getting to know you" time, I guess. It's been nice to make up for that time.

The third thought that kept randomly bumping into the other two (and please understand, while I can write all this comprehensively, it certainly wasn't coming out that way in my brain!) was how much I wished I could be going too.

Truthfully, as much as I would like to be with my parents, it's not even necessarily going back to Thailand and going home but just going somewhere. Moving, preferably. Away. Far away. Maybe to Thailand. Maybe to Europe. I'd even be happy with Africa or even Australia. Probably not South America - no particular reason why - just never felt really drawn there! But, if it meant being away.....I would take South America!

It's not that I hate American; I really don't. I've made my peace with this country, and in many ways it is home. But I've had a lot of restlessness lately. I look at various friends of mine -- one has moved to New Zealand, another is on his way to Indonesia, a third is going to Turkey, and of course I have friends who have gone to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, China........and I want to go as well.

Any ways, those are my random early morning airport-run thoughts.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Housekeeping

So over the last few years (with the help of Hillery and some other stuff), I've been researching and putting to use some home-made cleaning supplies. I'm really not a "green" person per say, but I do care about what it is I'm putting into my house and my own body in terms of lots of unnecessary chemicals and what-not. Also, it's so much cheaper to make your own cleaning supplies, and I've found research says that they do just as well (if not better) than chemically enhanced, company made products.

I've had several individuals ask me for the recipes I use, so I'm finally putting them on my blog. I would give you the web addresses for all of these except I can't find my original site for most of them! When I figure it out I will add it to the list. But for now, here are copies of my recipes under Finance and Frugality.

If you know of some better ideas for any of these, please let me know!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A moment in time

As I was driving to work today, I noticed that there were a lot of very aggressive people on the road today. Obviously ones who were running late for work (or thought they were running late), and were determined to do whatever it was they had to to get ahead of any car that might possibly be going the speed-limit and thus cramping their style.

So I continued my journey to work, avoiding those who were determined to ram into my car in their hurry to get through the intersection as well as avoiding rather stupid children skipping down the middle of the street (seriously...can of Pepsi in one hand, backpack on his back, skipping down the middle of a relatively busy street [and intersection] on his way to school. Obviously not the brightest cookie in the bunch).

All of the sudden I had to hit my brakes (thank goodness at that particular moment the driver who had been tailing me most of the way down the road decided to pull off on another road - apparently my driving the speed-limit was upsetting to him). And watch. As a string of six geese wandered their way across a cross-walk. Well, a few of them were technically J-walking, but the rest of them were distinctly crossing via the cross-walk. Behind me, five other cars came to complete stops, and opposite me I watched as three more cars were stopped on their hurried progressions so that these geese could meander their way across the road very calmly.

They had no clocks to get to in order to punch in on time. They were not revved up on caffeine and/or too little sleep. They just wandered across, taking their time, occasionally stopping to chat with another goose or look around at the parade of two-legged, humans all staring at them in their little parade.

And I had to laugh at the power of these birds. And then I enjoyed the rest of my drive to work.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Forgiveness and Stuff

So, Chris and I are currently reading a book together lent us by a friend of ours. The name of the book is The Bait of Satan by John Bevere. Basically it's about dealing with offense and bitterness when others have wronged you.

We're not super far into it, and we obviously need to finish reading it to see what else it has. The first few chapters were kind of iffy, not that they were bad but a lot of it is very basic stuff (at least it feels that way - maybe a bi-product of an MK and a PK reading?). However, chapter four had some interesting thoughts in it. Anyhoo...no more about the book for now because I don't like dealing with a book prior to finishing it. However, it has brought to the forefront of my ever-running brain some questions I have been mulling over for, well in some cases, a few years.

Basic establishment of my personal belief here: Forgiveness of others is important, in fact vital. I believe that we can hinder the work of God in our lives if we hold on to bitterness/anger/offense whatever you want to call it. Matthew 6:14-16 say it all: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Pretty blunt there. Not a whole lot I question about that.

Belief in something and action on something are very different things! And although I have been trying to practice this belief in avenues of my life, and I don't question the concept of forgiveness, it's some of the particulars that I have questions about. Namely, I think it's three (well kind of four) questions.

1. What does forgiveness look like? I know the basic concept of what forgiveness is, but do you actually have to go to someone and say, “I forgive you” or what? Is simply forgiving them in your heart enough? And if it does need to be “verbalized” how do you say that to someone who doesn’t think they need forgiving and probably will pick a fight with you if you dare imply that they’re at fault and need forgiveness?!

L.M. Montgomery has a short story (the title of which I currently cannot remember but I will try to look it up later) about this woman who holds this grudge against another woman for like twenty plus years. And this woman finally decides she needs to extend forgiveness to this other woman. Well, she goes to talk to this other woman and that woman basically (unintentionally) turns the whole situation back on the first woman and forgives her! This makes the first woman furious (because she's trying to be all magnanimous with forgiving the other woman) and she winds up just as mad as she was when she first got offended.

The story makes me laugh, however, in reading it, the first woman comes across (at least initially) as truly trying to settle this problem she has had for so many years and that is why she goes to talk to the other woman. However, in bringing up all of the past, she actually wound up making the entire situation worse. Should she have simply been praying for forgiveness in her heart or did she truly have a responsibility to go to the other person to extend forgiveness to them (especially as the other person didn't even remember the situation had ever occured)?

Different scenario...let's say someone is physically abused by someone else (abuse, rape, whatever you want to put with it). God deals in the victim's heart and that person chooses to forgive the perpetrator. Does that mean the victim has to go talk to the perpetrator to extend that forgiveness - especially if the perpetrator has never asked for forgiveness? Or is it enough that the victim truly has forgiven that person in their heart?

2. How do you ask for someone else's forgiveness if you're afraid of they're using that humility or viewing it as a weakness they can use against you to continue to control/hurt your life?

3. In either scenario, if forgiveness has occured, what kind of relationship is then be expected?

In the case of Chris and I and his parents, they are not really people who are always good in our lives. They cause friction, pain, hurt, they have damaged us/him emotionally, spiritually, to some degree mentally (stress-wise) and in the past even physically. And, please understand, while much of this has occured in the last ten months, it is not in any way, shape, or form limited to only ten months. This negativity, damage, whatever adjective you want to put with it, has been around for a long time.

On a flip side, while we have tried to do our best in dealing with this situation, I have no doubt that there are things we could and perhaps (and if the Holy Spirit really starts dealing with us about it - then we will) should ask for forgiveness about. If we were led to a spot to ask for their forgiveness for whatever (and truthfully, I say that there are things we probably should ask for forgiveness for, but at this point, I don't have any conviction about anything that we have said or done, and so this is all kind of hypothetical. However, I do know that sometimes God works healing in situations by asking one of the individuals to be humble enough to admit their own weaknesses or faults in a given situation, first)...

Anyways, if we were led to a place of asking for forgiveness, does that automatically mean that we're supposed to be reestablishing an actual real relationship with them? But I know Chris (or myself, for that matter) is not in a place where becoming close or even spending time with them is going to be much of an option at this point – particularly if his parents refuse to recognize the damage they’ve done from their side because if they don’t see it, then it will continue to happen. And I don’t want to be influenced by that any more; it’s not healthy for us, spiritually or emotionally.

And, frankly, right now, any kind of relationship with them scares me.

Particuarly if it was just the later scenario and they were in no ways repentent about any of their side of all this.

My instinct is to say that not reestablishing a relationship is not necessarily wrong because, going to my example with question one, a victim of abuse is almost foolish to assume that just because a person has said certain words ("I'm sorry" "Forgive me") that change has actually occured. However, that could just be my more intrepidacious side running from having to try a relationship with them.

However, in a different personal example from my life, just because I have forgiven an individual who hurt me greatly a long time ago, that does not mean that in any way, shape, or form, am I ever planning on going near him again. Doesn't mean I hold a grudge, doesn't mean I am bitter against him in my heart, but I have no intention of making myself vulnerable to him again. Is that wrong? I don't think so.

The book used the example of David and Saul and how David didn't act out of vengence against Saul. However, what the book didn't mention was that even after Saul said to David that he (Saul) was wrong for how he was treating David, David didn't go back to the court of Saul. He forgave Saul...but he didn't put himself back into a place of being vulnerable to Saul. And sure enough, Saul reverted back to trying to kill David pretty soon.

*sigh*

Sometimes this whole, "trying to grow into what God really wants me to be" lifestyle, really is not fun!

Thoughts anybody?