Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When You Learn Truth...Again

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I think one of the amazing things about being a Christian and following Jesus is how my understanding of Him changes as I grow and read His Word, the Bible, and other books that help illuminate these well-known and read verses.  It deepens, it shallows, it levels off.  It's constant, yet dynamic.  Words that I have read over and over and over, to a point in which they don't have much meaning for me anymore, all of the sudden take on a new life, a new understanding depending on what circumstances I find myself in.  What is amazing is that there isn't a circumstance or situation dealing with life or human nature that isn't addressed in the Bible.  Yes, the context of the times has changed, and translations here and there have eschewed some of the true meanings of the original Aramaic or Greek or Hebrew words.  But yet, somehow, there is still a depth of understanding, a Truth, that cries out from the pages when they are given the time to be heard.

Last week was a really hard week for my family.  One of my aunts was involved in a serious car accident on her way back to work from lunch - a wreck so horrific that it killed her coworker, who was driving the car.  Right now she is in a continued deep sleep, with all of us waiting for her to hopefully wake up soon.  This accident on top of other stresses that had happened throughout the week - it has been a shared load of stress and pain for all of us.

But this morning as I was reading my daily readings, I ran across the above verse.  It reminded me of a song that I used to sing in college, called "Trading My Sorrows":
I'm pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I'm blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy's gonna be my strength
Through all the things that my family has gone through this week, it definitely feels like we have been pressed in on all sides.  But we're not crushed.  We have taken some knocks, but we're not destroyed.  God's promise in this verse - not to be rescued from hardships or difficulties - for that is a fact of life - but the ability to endure them because of His love, brings hope back to my heart.  I will never be crushed, abandoned, or destroyed, come what may.  And that is a Truth I'm thankful to have heard again this morning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eight Things You Learn at the local ER

Today I had an unexpected three and half hour visit at my local ER.  I was having some minor chest pains that I was pretty sure was just heartburn, but given my family's not-so-great heart history I wasn't entirely sure.  So I called my insurance's hotline, spoke to the advice nurse, who spoke to my doctor, who said to go to the ER. Ugh. So off I went.

First - I learned that it doesn't matter the size of the ER that you go to - even if it is an auxiliary wing of the hospital - you will still have to wait a ridiculously long time to be called back to be seen by the nurse and then have to wait forever for them to do everything to you that they need to do.

Second - A hospital gown is a highly functional garment.  It mixes well with all sorts of pieces and even went well with my skinny black pants and heels.

Third - If you burst into tears when the tech tells you he's going to put an IV into you, you might escape having to have an IV put into you.

Fourth - When you wear a claddagh ring and you are single and the tech asks you about it, you have to admit that no, you are not currently in love.

Fifth - When the physician's assistant asks you what your stress level is, you look at him and laugh. "Typical high American stress?" "Uh, yeah, exactly."

Sixth - When the nurse walks in with a cup of a Mylanta/Maalax concoction and asks you, "You know when you take a shot?" as a way to explain how to take it, you have to admit that "Actually, no, I haven't".  Which is true - I'm not one to really take shots.

Seventh - When the techs and nurses leave you in the room by yourself for a long time, your imagination starts to run wild and you imagine yourself in a "ER" or "Grey's Anatomy" episode as one of those dumb patients that comes in with seemingly innocuous symptoms that turns out to be something major and if any of the techs, nurses, and doctors have wildly dramatic lives like the characters on those shows.

Eighth - It's not the prick or the drawing of blood that hurts the most.  It's after they take the needle out that your hand hurts like a mofo.  But then you take off the bandage a couple of hours later expecting to see a huge gaping hole that is still bleeding, and realize that the prick in your epidural layer is so minuscule you would need a microscope to actually see it and feel very foolish.

Everything ended up absolutely fine - they diagnosed me with heartburn/acid reflux, which is what I thought it was.  All is well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

200th Post + Changes

This officially marks my 200th post in my little blogging experiment.  I can't believe that I have two full years plus some months of blogging behind me.  That's crazy.  But I love it and am shocked and awed when people tell me that they've read it - the fact that you would take time out of your day to regale yourself with my incoherent ramblings and musings on all sorts of random things humbles me, truly.

I've also bitten the bullet and changed my beloved blog template to this new design.  I've also tried to shake things up on the sidebar level, mainly by moving my blog archives and blogroll up a couple of notches and all the other content down a few.  I've also cleaned up some of the blogroll - from time to time I update it with new blogs and delete others that haven't posted in a while in order to not have it become so unwieldy that it looks cluttered - because I read a lot of blogs :).

So leave me a comment and let me know what you think of this new design and this little blogging experiment itself!  And thanks again for taking time to read!

Yeah, It's Pretty Intense Stuff...

The Bachelor/ette series have provided me with a host of favorite reality TV moments. From Ryan bequeathing a stuffed dolphin to Trista, to Jason Mesnick almost throwing himself off a balcony, to the guy ripping his shirt off and howling at the moon because he was (and always would be) a "lone wolf", and many "Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Ever"s, I have enjoyed quite a lot of laughter from this beloved franchise.  But last night's moment topped them all.  Hands down the funniest, most awkward thing I have ever watched.  THIS is the stuff that reality TV is made of.  Enjoy, and you're welcome for the next 5 minutes of laughter you will have.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On Aliens, Israel, and Immigration

*Warning - This may be a long rambling post with much incoherency.  But if it's any comfort you're not the crazy one, it's me. It all makes sense in my head!*

I have been ruminating and germinating this post for a long time in my head - and by long time, I mean at least a week.  Every so often the thoughts start pouring in, but I haven't gotten a chance to put them all together until today.

In the past few weeks several significant international and domestic events have occurred that have caught my attention.  I also had the opportunity to view the movie District 9.  And in only a way that my brain would do, all three things have connected themselves in my brain.

First comes Israel and all of this state's happenings in recent days.  I could not contain my absolute abhorrence when I learned about the raid on the peaceful, pro-Palestinian flotilla that was seeking to bring aid to the Gaza strip - an area that has been walled off and ostracized from the rest of the world for the past three years.  Nothing goes in or out of there and meanwhile, the innocent Palestinian civilians are left to starve and claw their way to survival.  And how did the state of Israel react to this gesture of humanitarian aid?  By shooting live bullets into the ships, killing at least 9 people and wounding dozens of others.  Worldwide condemnation followed this act, but it stopped there.  Even as a second flotilla tried to deliver aid and they were captured and turned back, nothing other than a promise for Israel to conduct it's own "inquiry" resulted from all this worldwide condemnation.  No, protected by the powerful Israeli lobby in the United States, nothing of any significance that would result in the alleviation of the terrible plight of these Gaza Palestinians, has happened.  In fact, the United States refused (REFUSED) to condemn Israel's actions.  And the United Nations - the farcical organization that it is - stayed up all night in negotiations over the "wording" of a resolution that expressed condemnation over the raid.

This is WRONG!  The injustice of treating people in this way because of their political or religious affiliation is wrong.  Of any people in the entire world, Americans should be the ones most up in arms over this injustice!  And yet our words remain handicapped because anything that is said against Israel or calls out its military injustices and policies against the Palestinian people is seen as traitorous or anti-Semitic.  Helen Thomas, the 89-year old White House correspondent who has been a fixture of the White House Press Corps for over 5 decades, had her career end in flames last week after making remarks against Israel and its right to exist as a state.  But if you examine the context of where Thomas's remarks come from - a woman who covered the White House and sitting presidents before an Israel existed and who extensively understands how it came into being, mainly through it's own use of terrorism, the guilt of the West over the Holocaust, and the ambivalence of the British to maintain any kind of continued presence in the Middle East - you understand that there may be an element of truth in her remarks.  But I'm not here to debate whether or not Israel should exist as a state, for the reality is that it does and it is not going away. 

What I am most upset about is the rampant racism and apartheid that the Israeli state formally practices against the Gaza strip, especially since Hamas came into power.  But the worldwide uproar over the raid on the peaceful flotilla should give Israel pause and if they are smart, they will begin to change their policies of hatred.  After all, shouldn't Israel, of all nation-states, extend understanding and humanitarian aid to their neighbors?  As a people who suffered through the hatred and unthinkable atrocities of the Holocaust genocide, shouldn't they recognize and work towards policies that seek to build up another nation, instead of oppressing it to the point that they continuously create militants (and I'll call them militants here, not terrorists) who want the destruction of their state?

I've been in such a turmoil over this - so much so, that I stayed up to watch Charlie Rose's interview with Mahmoud Abbas, the current leader of the Fatah faction in Palestine who had visited the White House to talk about the current situation in Israel and Palestine.  It was a fascinating interview, creating the opportunity to hear from the "other" side, so to speak, on what they want for peace to exist.  Too bad that this interview was shown on the local WETA PBS station at 1:00am in the morning.  So much for spreading dialogue.  On the other hand, thank God for a station like WETA that would put such programming on the air.  Otherwise we would only have programming like the "No-Spin Zone" likes of Bill O'Reilly or the liberal crap of Keith Olbermann.  Can you tell that I have no respect for the media and the way that they report international events?

But you know what else? This practice of systematic hatred isn't just regulated to the land and policies of Israel.  It is propagated in our own country.  Don't believe me?  How else do you characterize the passage of the new Arizona immigration laws and the other laws that they seek to pass?  And how they want to jail illegal immigrants in "tent cities"?

Seriously America?  Are Americans truly going to let a new-age apartheid system spring up on our own shores?  The shores that we have fought for in blood - the blood of immigrants nonetheless - so that freedom can be experienced by all people?  Why should we limit the rights of a person to become a naturalized citizen of our country that was born on the shoulders of immigrants from all walks of life?  All great innovations, all privileges that we take for granted today came to us because our grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents traveled from some place overseas to start a new life - to have a chance to earn a living and experience a quality of life that no one else in the world gets to experience - true and utter freedom to do whatever the heck we want, whether it be waste our life or make it into something.  Why are we now going to deny others the capability to earn a living?  To have a chance to NOT live in third-world poverty - to earn a living?  And if we do indeed deny others this chance, what are we going to do to help these individuals?  Are we going to try to propagate some kind of backwards isolationism thinking and do nothing to help others of the world - like other "first world" nations, Austria and Australia (my own sister, a college graduate cannot obtain a job as a library aid because of the racism rampant in Australia)?  Doesn't that completely fly in the face of our global and interconnected economy? Isn't that what partially led to 9-11 in the first place?  And hasn't any isolationist policy we as a nation have ever practiced backfired on us?  Or are we just going to become a nation of a bunch of Gangs of New York?

And while we deal with how to treat legal and illegal aliens in our country, perhaps we can use a movie about aliens, apartheid, and xenophobia, District 9, to illuminate our way.  I don't want to spoil too much of the movie for those who haven't seen it, but it is a phenomenal film in the way that it dissects these issues in the context of the fantasy-realm of an alien population stranded on Earth.  Tent cities are erected and aliens are forced to live in a shanty town in the middle of Johannesburg, based upon Soweto and its history within South Africa.  And in spine-chilling way, the film examines what life looks like when the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak.  It may seem kind of random to mention such a film in the same post as my rants on Israel and immigration policy, but the way it speaks to the issues of xenophobia, apartheid, and basic humanitarianism and how they are extremely relevant in the context of those two issues, prompt me to recommend it unequivocally.

What I hope for most of all is that common human decency and justice will prevail in the end.  I hope that someday Israelis and Palestinians will be able to experience the peace that South Africa found through its Truth and Reconciliation Committee.  I hope that everyday Americans will take a step back from their anger over funding health care and education for illegal immigrants and see that these are human beings like ourselves, like our ancestors, who just want the opportunity to experience a life like we have.  And that those same Americans who want to send these illegal immigrants back to their own countries, will step up and take the jobs that we gladly let them procure.  And that the opportunity and freedom that we have fought so long and hard for will be experienced by all people, regardless of their race or religion.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Having a Down Day?

If that is you, or if you are having a blah day, or if you are having a good day, take a moment and read these three blog posts from nueva sonrise, 1000 Awesome Things, and Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.  One will inspire, one will make you laugh, and the other will make you tear up with joy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Book Review: Rumor Has It

Rumor Has It: Some people just can't keep a secret... Rumor Has It: Some people just can't keep a secret... by Jill Mansell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked this book up as a lark in the bookstore yesterday and started reading it when I got home. Five hours later, I was reaching the end of one of the most enjoyable, light-hearted, fun, entertaining reads I have read in a while. While this book might be in that oft-derided genre of "chick-lit", it transcends it with its intelligence, irony, snark, sarcasm, and a cast of lovable characters in a small English town named Roxborough. In a Cranford meets Jane Austen meets Helen Fielding kind of way, the girl and the guy do get together in the end, but the journey there is so enjoyable you don't care about any of the cliches that might be within the story.

The narration of the actual book is interesting in the fact that it jumps from character to character from time to time. Most of the book is told by Tilly Cole, but every so often the next chapter comes along and you get a different point of view. While this may sound pretty jarring, the way that Mansell weaves everything together makes for a fluid story when all is said and done.

This is a very British novel. Loads of irony, snark, and sarcasm and it is delightfully funny even in the most hard, painful moments. Life and death are all treated with the same aplomb. One of the playful ironic touches comes in the naming of some of the main characters. There is character named Jack, who's love in life was named Rose. Jack and Rose. Titanic anyone? It's a playful liberty taken by the author and I fully appreciated it.

This is my first foray into a Mansell novel and I'm looking forward to the next one. I can only hope it's half as good and fun as "Rumor Has It" has been. Honestly, the worst thing I can say about the book is that it's title shares the same title of a terrible movie with Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, and Shirley MaClaine. Hopefully if this book is ever made into a movie, it will be more along the lines of "Bridget Jones" rather than a second-rate romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston!

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Yeah, We're Badass"

Warning - Don't view if you don't like humor.

Have you seen the new, overly dramatic commercials for the new season of Whale Wars on Animal Planet?  Every time (EVERY time) I see one of these, I can't help but burst out laughing, and it's all because of this.

And then this...(caution, some PG-13 language ahead)

I mean, where else would you find a send up of Lady Gaga, Rockband, the Japanese, Godzilla, and reality sea shows? I mean, they even make fun of Deadliest Catch, one of my favorites! It's just too funny! "Yeah, We're Badass"

Happiness Is...

...having dinner with your parents and laughing for a solid straight half hour with them about their visit with the exterminator this afternoon.

...embracing your inner nerd and playing your favorite Star Wars music compilation CD because when you randomly started humming at your office in the morning, the tune that came out of your head was this.

...learning business lessons from your boss, like how to not worry about paying your bills until the lawyers start calling.

...cooking dinner for a bunch of high school girls you've been getting to know all year and having time to sit and talk with them for an evening.

...realizing as you're making your bed in the morning, you're thinking about the high school kids' history project that they were talking about the night before and putting together their 30 slide presentation in your head.

...being excited to go to Young Life camp for once instead of dreading it because of the above high school girls getting to experience it for the first time.

...learning that forgiveness - of yourself, of others - is an ongoing painful process - but a process that continually opens your heart to God. Open Hands, not Clenched Fists.

...the joy of the Lord radiated from the faces of loved children..

...a new season of The Bachelorette, fit with characters like Steven Webber from Wings, Patrick Dempsey, a brown belt weatherman, a caliente baseball player who salsa dances, a stalker who makes scrapbooks, a ukulele, the requisite recent divorcee who also plays the guitar, a Jason Mesinick look-a-like, a Jake Pavelka on helium, and Ali with terrible outfits and terrible extensions - it's priceless entertainment.

...the return of the ever-hot Michael Weston and Burn Notice. Hallelujah.

...a week of good, fun outfits.

...the smell of the earth on your drive home after a rainstorm.

...a four-day work week!

Enjoy the weekend!  And can you believe it's already June?????!!