Monthly Archives: January 2010

Giving

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Cor. 9:6-8

Who, me?

I think it’s funny, in a sad sort of way, how it is so easy to agree with somethings in principle, but somehow seem to think that they aren’t quite directed at you. Often times it’s a problem of not believing that either part is directed at you. . .the part of giving bountifully even when you don’t feel you have much of a bounty, or the part that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you”. At the root of it all—fear. Like the Israelites of old, we can’t seem to remember God’s works of mercy and power from minute to minute, but rather are constantly fixated on all the things we happen to think “can’t”.

I was reading this passage this morning, and I realize how it challenges me where I am. Because, in principle, I agree wholeheartedly. If I listen to the sneaky whispers of my heart, though, I hear myself saying, “Yeah, but it means people who have something to give. Not me, not now—but later, when I’m rich and famous, then I’ll be able to give and give and I’ll hardly notice the lack, compared to now. . .”

It shames me. This isn’t what I say I believe. But when push comes to shove, I rationalize all the reasons why there is no point nor reason for me to do anything. I don’t act as though I believe that the God who created the entire universe and everything in it is both capable and willing to provide for anything and everything I need, and so I can give away anything at all—cheerfully, and without grudging.

Giving cheerfully, I think, is deeply rooted in trust (lack of fear) and love (alternatively, preferring to suffer one’s self than to stand by and do nothing in the face of someone else’s suffering).

How do you feel about returns?

How do you feel about making returns? I always feel guilty. Even when they broadcast and broadcast their wonderful return policies, I feel guilty returning things. This doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but I don’t like to. I feel like I’m cheating, even though I know I’m not.

Right now, I have a pile of clothes from Land’s End; most of them are going back. I knew they would, but you can’t try on before you buy, so you have to buy a bunch of stuff, and then return what doesn’t fit. A few items I’m waffling on. Having loads of free money would make everything so much easier, as has been said many times throughout the ages.

There is a shirt to return to Kohl’s. It’s a perfectly fine shirt. It’s just, it’s a shirt. And at this point, I realize I need pants more than tops. Returning the shirt will free up money for pants. It makes sense, but it still feels absurd. “Here’s your shirt back. Um, it’s a shirt. I decided I didn’t want a shirt.” But every time I’m there, Kohl’s proclaims its “no questions asked return policy!!” so why on earth should I feel silly bringing it back? But I do.

Then there is my $800 box of textbooks, that is hopefully all going back very soon; I’m waiting for my textbooks I ordered online to arrive. Returns are allowed until after the first week of classes. I’m not doing anything wrong, but somehow I feel guilty, like I’m gaming the system. I bought all of these books, knowing full well I’d probably return most, if not all, of them. Isn’t that wrong? They said I could, though.

I can’t afford to not return them, so it will all of it be returned. But I’ll feel a bit sneaky, sheepish and irresponsible while doing so.

School

I’ve been thinking about school. . . the one word I think most aptly describes it is “stifling”. It’s stifling sitting all the time. It’s stifling only listening to teachers talk, and not being able to interact. It’s stifling have to learn exactly what’s on the test, and nothing else. It’s stifling being told “That’s too complicated for right now; we’ll cover it next semester.” It’s stifling having to go to the exact same classes at the exactly the same time on exactly the same day, week in and week out.

Creativity? Out. Curiosity? Out. Variety? Out. Independent thinking? Out. School is something you’re supposed to “get through”, and it feels that way. Even the good teachers know they have a set amount of material they have to cover in a set amount of time, and they make it happen, regardless. You have to pass the tests and get the grades, even if you rather be chasing rabbit trails far more advanced than your regulated education level.

People say, “All you have to do is pass, nothing else matters.” They don’t say “be interested” or “learn” or “get a grip on the basics” or “prove yourself diligent and hardworking”. After you graduate, they say, no one cares what your grades are. So why bother? Just pass. And the teachers often seem to be hinting at that as well. You’re passing; you’re doing good; no one expects you to get a high grade, why worry about it?

This is extremely frustrating for anyone who wants to learn about a subject they find interesting. It’s supposed to be an institution for learning, but it feels like nothing short of a tedious game, a modern version of The Emperor Has No Clothes. Everyone knows that it’s largely a stupid waste of time, but no one is supposed to say it—and they won’t believe you if you do.

Post title are difficult to come up with when you’re only chit-chatting.

I just finished working for, like, 9 1/2 hours, and I’m tired. Actually, I may be tired because for some reason I woke up at twenty till five AM, and couldn’t fall back to sleep, which is just plain mean.

I made about a bizillion (ok, about a gross, e.g. apox. a dozen dozen’s) of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies yesterday. We ate at least 9 each; then I took 3 dozen in to work today, and they were pretty much gone by noon. They went over well with all involved. Probably I can remember the recipe. . .

2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 sticks of softened butter
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups peanut butter
6 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar; mix in vanilla, beat in eggs, continue to mix and add in peanut butter. Mix dry ingredients together; stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Use a small cookie scoop; bake on a cookie sheet for approx. 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

It was originally from our Fannie Farmer cookbook, but she used shortening instead of butter and no chocolate. Also, she hand rolled each cookie and then flattened it twice with a fork. If you use butter instead of shortening, the cookies don’t need to be mooshed flat; they’ll melt flat. Flat enough, anyway.

I once again discovered that if you shop for your books online instead of at the campus store, you can save something like 45%. Last semester I took it from $979 to $5** (don’t remember exactly). This time it down from $800 to about $450.

I’m going to try to do better this semester with staying inside the word limit. Then again, that might be the fear stemming from an entire boxful of books speaking.

Sunday Song: Quoting Deuteronomy to the Devil

John the Baptizer
By the Jordan brook
Up comes this brood of vipers
Just to take a look
John says, “There’s a comin’ of glory
There’s a comin’ of wrath,
Some mighty things are comin’
Comin’ to pass

Peter was a-preachin’
At the Pentecost
Says you must turn around
And you must be washed
‘Cause there’s a comin’ of glory,
There’s a comin’ of wrath,
There’s some mighty
things a-comin’ to pass
Comin’ to pass

Lord God Almighty
Came as a preacher man
Fastin’ down in the wilderness
Quotin’ Deuteronomy to the Devil
And then He set His face like a flint
Toward Jerusalem

Well they tried to silence Stephen
With the sticks and stones
But his voice is still ringin’
You can hear it in a gospel song
Singin’ there’s a comin’ of glory,
And there’s a comin’ of wrath,
There’s some mighty things comin’
Lord they’re comin’ to pass
There’s a comin of glory,
There’s a comin’ of wrath,
There’s some mighty things comin’
Comin’ to pass

Rich Mullins and Beaker

My sister asked me how I come up with a song every week. Truth be told, a song often pops in my head during our family discussion on Saturdays. Those who were there may understand why reading the second and third chapters of Ezekiel made this song pop into my head, but I doubt anyone else would see the connect. Here’s your hint:

. . .And then He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem. . .

Saturday Evening Blog Post

Elizabeth Esther has this tradition of doing a “web roundup” of sorts every month. Basically, everyone who wants to participate leaves a link to one of their posts from the last month, and then writes their own post directing you back to the Saturday Evening Blog Post.

On a whim, I decided to join in, and I left a link to this post. I felt like it was one of my best posts from last year, but when I re-read it, I wonder if it would mean as much to anyone else, or at least to people who don’t know the whole back story. About Grandpa slowly dying from Alzheimer’s, about watching his struggles and his fears, about him living out his last few years at home even though he required constant care, about watching my brother scratch my grandfather’s back because he couldn’t do it himself any more, about visiting every week and still getting to see him to smile and joke, about being with him the week he really did die. . .

I don’t think that I would have participated in the Saturday Evening Blog Post, except that the last post that had been shared, the one right before mine, was someone writing about their experience with hospice and a loved one dying. It was far and away a different experience of death than what I just witnessed, but it reminded me of my post on people dying.

Allow me to explain myself. . .

Yesterday I didn’t really feel like writing, so I was rather sparse in my words; when I said she was now living in a “nice little house”, I meant that it seems to me to be about as perfect a house as one could get.

When you first enter, you are in the mudroom/playroom. Kids come inside, unceremoniously ditch their winter clothes, and start playing. This is what kids do all the time anyway, but that’s what they’re supposed to do here. There is a full bank of windows looking out, so it’s a very sunny, brightly lit sort of room.

It directly connects to the kitchen, and the kitchen is also very wonderful. The roof to the kitchen and play room is sloped, but the original crosswise beams are exposed. The kitchen, besides looking aesthetically very pleasing, is very accommodating to real life. There are built in shelves, bar stools for people who want to visit with the cook, and it’s easy to glance right into the play room to keep half an eye on things.

Turning out of the kitchen, there is a brief hall, with the dining room on the right—still with it’s old, characteristic wood floors. Then you enter the living room. . .to the left is the stairway to go upstairs. To the right, double doors open up into the study, which has a door that opens into the dining room. This creates the legendary “run around in a circle” circuit that kids love, all the while staying out of (but near) the kitchen.

Built in corner cabinets abound, which I’ve decided is brilliant, because usually what happens in corners is that people—humanity as a whole—tend to stack “stuff” in them. When cabinets and cupboards take up the corners, everything is nicer.

Upstairs, there is a huge landing/room. Both bedrooms are cozy and comfortable without being oppressively small. The master bedroom has a large walk-in closet (complete with a small window). The other bedroom has a built-in window seat, which is how life should be.

To her credit, my friend has taken a good thing and made it even better. Somehow, she has managed to fill the house with, to a large degree, old or antique furniture. An antique writing desk, several old, large chests—in general, furniture that fits.

It also tickled my fancy to see how she’d decorated, which is to say, you don’t really notice it until you look, but when you do, it’s full of details. For instance, in the kitchen, she has her daughters aprons hanging by their sink. Upon closer inspection, the “hooks” are actually old silver spoons (the sort you’d find banging around a rummage sale), bent into a hook and nailed to the wall. Nothing is gaudy or draws attention to itself, but everything fills the house with character, charm, and warmth.

It was very nice.

At one point, she decided to step into the kitchen and clean up after the hot chocolate and donuts mess left behind by her children and my siblings. We talked as she swept the crumbs, and suddenly she turned around and said, “Oh! I didn’t realize you were washing dishes!” and I had to laugh. Yes, I was half-way through the dishes. What else would one do? Hands like to be busy.

Break is wrapping up, pretty much

Well, I can get my books this weekend; the bookstore opens on Saturday. I don’t know if I’ll make a special trip out on Saturday, or go on Sunday after work.

I can’t say that I’m particularly disappointed. I’ve felt more disappointed when weekends came to a close than I feel about this break coming to a close. It’s not that it hasn’t been nice—it has. It’s just that I want to hurry up and get school over with. I can’t help but feel like it’s one big bother. It’s not really difficult, not really exciting, just rather tedious and time-consuming. People tell me it only gets worse once you get out of school, and then they hear how many credits I’m taking and their eyes bug out and they think it’s borderline criminal to have to take so many. I’ve done enough dreading this semester; I’m ready to just do it and get it over with.

Today I visited a friend, and dropped off a much-late gift. She’s in a nice little house she feels like is a mansion, and she’s 6 weeks away from having another baby. . .It was a little sad realizing I probably wouldn’t be seeing her again for another 5 or 6 months (excluding a probable baby stop, if I can make it), even though we’re only 20 minutes apart. School and work will likely keep me too busy until after I finish my first clinical.

I still haven’t heard back from my psychology teacher. I tried sending her a second email so that my first one wouldn’t be so buried. . .it bounced as undeliverable, probably because her in-box is too full from not checking. I was recommended by my adviser to call and leave a message with the secretaries.

Life remains an oddity.

Today we went to the ER

Today, instead of taking one of our patients to the ER, the ER asked us to come evaluate one of their patients.

This was unfortunate for a few reasons. One, they paged the inpatient PT, by name, 20 minutes after she was supposed to be gone. She was just finishing up paperwork, but she’d been at the hospital since 7:00 am, and she wanted to go home. Two, it really wasn’t an appropriate situation to need a PT for.

She went. She grabbed a gait belt and me, and I grabbed a walker. We get to the ER, and it is just packed. She manages to find the chart for the patient in question, but we can’t seem to find the patient’s nurse. While trying to stand out of the way and (at the same time) find the proper nurse, we overhear one harried person telling someone else on the phone that their waiting room is full and they just had 9 ambulances in the last 10 minutes, and can we please find an open bed to admit this person into? The doctors are trying to admit or send home patients as fast as possible to make room for new patients. In general, it’s pretty much a mad house.

We finally get the right nurse, who has nothing to tell us that wasn’t on the chart. We find the patient. We question the patient. The patient is not the most stellar at getting the idea of what we’re trying to figure out, or we might not have been surprised when he needed max assist to even sit up in bed. It made his heart-rate spike some 30 or 40 beats just to do that. Standing was out of the question. Walking was out of the question. No, this person was not functionally able to return home, or to do anything else.

We find the doctor in question, and inform him of our findings. He thanks us, and apologizes for making us go through all that, but. . .something about following the rules or something.

So the bare facts boil down to, as far as I can tell, this:

ER gets totally, suddenly and urgently swamped.

Doctors cannot be in enough places at once to clear out beds for incoming patients.

Doctor reads symptoms off of chart, and realizes that if PT says the patient shouldn’t go home, he can admit the patient. This will use less of his precious time, but it is, indeed, inappropriate. This did not require the training of a PT.

Already-should-have-been-at-home PT does come down to evaluate the patient, and everyone is very polite and nice and thankful.

One more spot in the ER is opened up for ambulance deliveries, and Dr. has more time to try to get other patients taken care of.

Now, for the PT who already should have been home, we thoroughly understand her frustration at being kept even later for something that did not require her skills. But why does the entire rest of the PT department have to get so disgusted by such an “inappropriate” request from ER?

No one denies that the cause was probably being absurdly swamped at the ER. It remains “inappropriate” and “they could have done that (checked out the patient themselves)”, and “they know better (than to call PT for something like that)”.

Yes, but. . .I know it’s inappropriate. I get that. But how about understandable? How about human?

Even the PT that had to go down was pleased with how nicely she’d been treated and impressed by how crazy-full-busy it was. And no one in the PT department hesitated to offer if there was something they could do to help the already-should-have-been-home PT leave. So why is so mean-awful-nasty that they just lent a (technically uncalled for) hand for an exceedingly swamped Emergency Room? They were nice; they were over-loaded. It seems like they pretty much knew they were asking for a favor.

My brother would say this is the kind of mindset that lets females get over-worked in the workplace. I would like to think that there is a difference between occasionally lending a hand during extenuating circumstances and allowing oneself to get walked all over.

I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to work in an ER. That’s because I’m pretty sure I’d die of the stress in about a week and half. Nothing akin to this from the ER has happened before in the year or so that I’ve been there. I just don’t quite understand the tightfistedness of the PT department in not allowing this one favor, graciously.

Discrimination! Discrimination! DISCRIMINATION!

So I go into Wal-Mart to pick up some jeans for my brother, right? It’s all very straight forward. There are these little cubby-hole layouts, and on top of that there is a big sign. “JEANS. $8.”

Just for interesting research, I next go over to the female type clothes. After looking around, I do manage to find cubby-holes for jeans. On top of them is a sign that says, “JEANS. $17.”

CALL THE PRESS!! WOMEN ARE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, AGAIN!!! AS USUAL!!! WE GET PAID LESS AT WORK, AND WE HAVE TO PAY MORE AT THE STORE!! IT’S A PLOT, I TELL YOU!! THEY’RE DETERMINED TO KEEP US GROUND UNDER THEIR HEELS!!! ! !

My brother’s commentary on the situation was a bit different. He was all like, “Ha, they probably know they can’t charge guys that much, because a guy would walk in and say, ‘What?! No way I’m going to pay that much! I’ll walk around naked first!’ and walk out of the store.”

Now I’m stuck in the quandary of (a) which scenario is more likely to be true, and (b) which scenario I’d rather be true.

What the boys always say I should do is buy the boys jeans. “Yeah,” I say, “the only problem is, they don’t fit right.”

Then they look at me blankly and say, “Fit?”

Which is plausible credence for the second scenario, and, unfortunately, shows what nonsense I was spewing, because, guess what? The girl jeans don’t fit me either. So why not?