Monday, February 27, 2006

Extreme Makeover: Erin Edition

Just a quick mini-update on life right now. The title of this post is really telling, I really and truly do feel like I am going through an "Extreme Makeover." The show with the same name focuses on the physical transformation that the people who participate go through, but I am really feeling like mine is a whole-person thing.

Physically: I hit the 30 lb. weight loss this week at Weight Watchers. The first 20 lbs. really flew off of me, but the last 10 have been a lot slower in coming off. I am not doing anything differently, but I think my body has gotten used to eating this way. While I am still losing, it is happening a lot more slowly these days. I think it took me three months to lose the first 20, and it has taken me three months to lose these last ten. I am now officially 15 pounds from my ultimate goal, and that is fun to see. My eyes are also really hitting their stride after the surgery. The night halos around lights has significantly improved, I hardly need to use eye drops at all, and I can hardly tell in any way that I ever even had surgery. Other than being able to see all the time, of course. I had my one week follow-up with the surgery on Thursday morning, and I am healing just fine. I can even start to wear makeup again on Friday.

Ministry: I went to our "Teen Late Night" on Friday night at a community center here in Tacoma. There are probably close to 100 kids that come to this on Fridays from 8-midnight. These kids are really the outcasts of society. I mean, the forgotten youth. It was really eye-opening for me to see. It is fantastic that they have a place to go on a Friday where there is some structure to get them off of the streets, but they really just need to be loved. I would like to commit to coming twice a month to the program to help out. The choir sang at church on Sunday night as well, and that was fun. Nothing causes me to manifest frustration, perfectionism, etc. like choir does. It stretches me and humbles me. It's great. My small group is having an overnighter this coming Friday into Saturday at my house where we are going to just have a night full of ministry with each other. There will be a movie, some popcorn and some other fun stuff too, but there will also be breakthrough. It will be fantastic. I am just in love with these girls in my group. I try to meet with at least one of them each week for coffee, and talk to one of them on the phone each week as well. This week I am having coffee on Wed. morning with one of them, and then going over to another's house to be the mediator in a roommate squable that night.

Spritually: I am having a lot of revelation related to my last post regarding recognizing how much I need Jesus to take over my life. It has been a humbling and in some ways a breaking experience. The more my eyes are opened to how little I rely on Jesus for my daily life, the more I see how pervasive my pride, control, and fear is in my life. I am recognizing how much I think I can do things on my own, especially in areas that are nemesis issues. Of coures I am still struggling with them.....because I am trying to figure them out and change them on my own instead of letting the One Who Restores come and restore me. I am just praying more and more that I would see the depth of how much I need Him. I don't know that I have prayed this ferverently for something before. I am starting to understand in a deeper way the scriptures regarding "dying to yourself." I must kill the part of me that wants to be in charge, let God be in charge, and then everything else falls into place. Some areas where I can see the Lord already begining to come in and replace old patterns is in the area of friendships. You may remember a few posts ago I was lamenting about my lack of friendships. While there is still work to be done, overall, things are improving. I have had some serious breakthrough in so many of my friendships, and the Lord is starting to open my eyes to how He can provide the fullness of those friendships. As I trust Jesus more, I am also able to trust people more. I feel a lot like a dog who has been kicked into a corner with its tail between its legs who has been taken into a loving home and starting to trust, love and be loyal again like a dog is supposed to. Not that I am a dog, but it's just a good visual picture. There are a few women that have come into my life recently that I can see potential for deeper friendship, and the Lord has also started restoring some friendships that have been broken.

Anyway, just a small update. Hope your week is blessed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Who's on the Throne

I am having a lot of revelation this week over Christ's Lordship in my life. Instead of giving everything to Him, I push Him off the throne of my heart and take over myself. I have a lot of thoughts swirling around, and so I'll try to type this clearly and not confuse anyone.

For those who believe in Christ, we say that we have faith in Him. We believe what we have not actually seen with our own two eyes: that Christ died on a cross and took the punishment I deserve for all the bad things I do upon Himself, so that I might have eternal life. So, faith equals belief at the very minimum. Though, most would say that it takes more than just an knowledge of what Jesus did, that there is something more. Even the demons believe, yet are not saved. I can proclaim to have faith in Jesus, but is it a saving faith? We need a saving faith. What is the difference? One is in our head, the other in our heart.

If I have a saving faith, there should be evidence of that in my life. There are verses about what we do being the evidence of our faith. And really, it makes sense. If I believe something, the evidence is what I do about it. I can say "I believe it will be very cold tonight." Where is the evidence of that belief? The proof is that I go out and wrap my exposed faucet and seal up the windows from the drafty air. The statement has now moved from just knowledge, into my heart and I have done something about it.

I have always thought that the verses about faith without works being dead meant that if I have faith, I should be doing something as proof of it. And, that is partially right. However, I have thought that the ONLY proof would be in my outward service, or my outward behaviors. I have believed serving, or doing works and deeds, is proof of my faith. What I have realized, is that my view on what that verse means has been limited. What I do can be evidence of my belief, but it is not the ONLY evidence of my belief.

When I make a statement that I believe in what Jesus did for me, there should be some tangible proof that that belief is there. Not just that I KNOW what Jesus did, but that I believe it too. Here's where it goes deeper with me: I have always thought that the evidence of that belief in my life was that I went to church, that I served, that I did things for other people, that I was a good person etc. But, all that is evidence of is a head belief at best. It can be easy for those of us raised in Christian homes to learn how to behave. Plus I am sure we all know people who do good things for others but it doesn't mean that they have a belief in Jesus. Many people are "good" and it is not proof of any belief except that they should do good things to others.

There must be more! The deal is that if Jesus REALLY did what the Bible says He did, then I don't just need an understanding/knowledge/belief of that in my mind, I also need faith of that in my heart. It is not enough that I believe with my head in what Christ did, but it MUST also translate into my heart. The evidence? It won't always be service to others, there are inward proofs of that as well: Jesus must actually run my heart! The proof of that might not be outwardly evident to everyone around me, but it must be evident between Jesus and myself. My faith must go beyond rote obedience, and become as much about what transpires inside of me as it does outside of me. I must let Jesus rule my inward life as much as my outward life.

For many of us there is a block between knowing what we should be doing in our heads and believing what needs to be happening in our hearts. The block is that I have a hard time understanding just how much I NEED Jesus to do what He did for me. I must have an understading of just how badly I will mess up my life if I am left to do it on my own. I have never really felt like I was that bad of a person. I have never felt like I needed to be saved or rescued. I have had moments of desperationg but I think people who become radically converted for Christ have a deep understanding that they are totally lost without Jesus, that they really CAN'T make it without Him. Knowledge must go from my head to my heart and I must start to believe I need Jesus to rule in my my heart, not just in my deeds. The proof that I believe that is that I let Him do it!!

That is where I get stuck. I am a very capable, privileged, smart, responsible, and "good" person. I have a hard time seeing where I really, truly am in need of Jesus. It is easy to keep Him strictly in my head. Yes, I need Him to have done what He did so I won't go to Hell, but that's just a head belief. A heart belief also cries out to Jesus to come and take over my life fully

The proof that I don't have that kind of faith in my heart, that kind of belief in my need for Him is that I am the one in charge of my own life. Really. If I think about it, most of the time I live with no one but myself sitting on the throne in my heart. I don't think I can fully use enough words to convey just how much I run my own life. I think about how little evidence there is that I have heart faith in Jesus in my day to day life. It scares me at how easy it is for me to take over. Oh, I have moments where I run to Him, but overall, I would have to say that Jesus never knows me. I have done all of these deeds in His name, yet I am missing the biggest deed of all: submission. Can he really know me if I never let Him? That is where the good works of life really mean nothing. There has to be a greater submission. Jesus has to be Lord of EVERYTHING in me, or He is really Lord over nothing in me.

Another proof of Jesus being Lord, the evidence of that, is that I begin to become a new person, I begin to be transformed, I begin to think and feel more like Jesus. When I start to see that I am not OK and I let Jesus reign and I let Him take over, I begin to be more like Him. Not only in what I DO for Him, but also in what He does FOR ME! If I really believe, if I really have faith, if I really trust, then I allow Jesus territory in my whole life....not just part of it.

My heart's cry this week has been that I would see my need in a way I have not seen it before. I have never been without, and I have always been relatively "good" and so it will take the Holy Spirit to show me that I am in need of Jesus' death just as much as the murderer. In fact, I need a deeper understanding that my heart really is no different from that person's heart.....they just followed through with the wickedness and hatred. And, I struggle with that truth. I don't want to believe I am that bad, I don't want to believe that I can't make it, I don't want to believe that my "goodness" is not enough, I don't want to believe that I am needy, I don't want to in my heart-of-hearts make Jesus truly Lord and Savior of my WHOLE life. Murderers and theives will see Jesus before me if they truly make Jesus lord. Unbelief separates me from God.

Oh Lord, show me my need!

Monday, February 20, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now, the Glasses are Gone...

I can see all obstacles in my waaaayyy....

Ok, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, things are great from my surgery! I had it on Friday afternoon, and here we are about 72 hours later, and things are going just fine.

Here's the run down: I went in on Friday afternoon to have my surgery. They took me from the front lobby to a back waiting area where they read me all my rights made me sign a million forms saying I wouldn't sue if it didn't turn out, here are the risks, blah, blah, blah. Then, I waited and could hear all that was going on in the surgery room. Click click click. I was actually not too nervous until the Dr. called me back to double check that my prescription was written down right and double check everything else. I must have appeared nervous because he gave me a valium to calm me down.

Then I went back to the waiting room while he did another patient's procedure. After about ten minutes it was my turn. That is when I started getting nervous. The valium apparently had not kicked in yet! They gave me this stuffed whale, to hold on to, which I promptly squeezed the life out of. They put in some numbing drops and hoisted me around to the machine. While they were getting all the stuff set up in the machine, the drops kicked in. I couldn't feel myself blink. Whew! Next, they taped one eye closed and the first eye they taped my lashes back. More drops of some sort. Then some sort of device was placed on my eye to prevent me from blinking. Then another machine which had some pressure to it. I felt like my eye was bulging out, not painful at all, just strange. Then, they turn on the maching that cuts a flap in the cornea. I could hear the blad whirring and could see it pass across my eye. After the flap is created (again, didn't feel a thing), the Dr. pulls the flap away from my eye and it is even blurrier. I then stare at a light for 30 seconds or so. This was a bit strange because what they are doing is burning away some of the cornea with the lazer, and so you can start to smell the burning. Then, back goes the flap, and they paint it with something, which was funny becauase you can see the brush going back and forth across your eyes, but can't feel a thing. Then, repeat with other eye. The second eye was probably harder than the first because I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen, so I was a little more nervous with the second eye. Plus, my second eye was a little worse than the first, and so I had to stare at the lazer for about ten seconds longer than the first.

Then, they take you to a thing where the Dr. looks into your eye to make sure everything is in place, and they send you home.

About halfway home the numbing drops started to wear off, and I was tearing up like no one's business. It also was starting to burn a little. Not horrible burning like someone help me now, just irritating kind of burning. Luckily, the valium finally kicked in and all I wanted to do was sleep, so I took an hour and a half nap. I woke up and knew immediately that the surgery was a success. It was blurry, but not the kind of blurry it had been, it was more blurry like something was clouding my eye. And, even that came and went. I went to bed that night and woke up the next morning even better. Blurriness still coming and going, but overall, VERY clear. I could see the TV, I could drive, I could do all sorts of stuff with no help!! Woo hoo! My eyes were still irritated, like something was in them, but overall, great! I had a one-day follow up with the Dr. and my vision after just one day is 20-20. I might even get better as I heal more and more.

I will say this. After just a couple of days I am still obviously in the healing stages. When driving at night, there are halos around the lights. I am told this is normal, and goes away within a few months after the surgery. It is not something that would prevent me from driving, it is just annoying to have the traffic lights look fuzzy, or people's brake lights fuzzy. It also throws my depth perception off a bit. And so, driving at night for a while will take a little more concentration from me. Again, this is pretty normal and for almost all patients goes away within a few months. I would also say that my eyes are a little more dry than normal. I am putting lubricating drops in every hour or so. Again, this is normal and goes away within a month or so. The last thing I would say is that reading or working on the computer (like now) is a bit blurry. The Dr. says that your eye muscles have not been used to having to work like they are now. It is like walking with crutches your whole life and then having them taken away in a day. My eye muscles will have to learn to work without the aid of anything else. I can see up close, it is just not quite as clear as it was before the surgery.

I will try to post more information as I recover more from the surgery. It is, I would say, something at 72 hours in (which is still VERY early in the recovery process) something I would do in a heartbeat, even if the fuzzy lights and dry eyes never go away! It is so worth it. I can see, I can see, I can see! I did a little "Halelujah" dance while throwing away my contacts on Sunday, and gave away my glasses cleaner to a friend. It seriously, is something that has been such a good decision even so early on. I LOVE it!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Family Disaster Plan

This picture shows why we are required to have a family disaster plan at my work. It is a bit of an optical illusion, but doesn't it look like Mt. Rainier is exploding? Pretty cool eh? Speaking of all things optical....I am having my LASIK surgery on Friday!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Wedding Dress, a Cat, Mt. Rainier, Oh My!

I think I post pictures of my cat becase a) she's so stinkin' cute and b) since I don't have kids, she's the next best thing. At any rate, here are some pics of me wedding dress shopping with Chantel and my cat just being her silly self and Mt. Rainier in all its glory.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bad Ref, No Biscuit

See, even the people rooting for the opposing team agree: the officiating in this game stunk:

Health Update

Oh, I forgot to include something. I had a physical last week to make sure there was nothing wrong with me causing me to be sick so much and I had some good news. First, I seem to be in great health. Second, since my last physical, two and a half years ago, my cholesterol has gone down 35 points! I went from having a total cholesterol of 210 (which is considered borderline high) to one of 175. All of this just because of a 30 pound weight loss. Pretty neat!


The Five Stages of Grief

According to noted psychologist Elsbeth Kubler-Ross there are five stages of grief. I think I am somewhere between the depression and bargaining stage of my grief over the loss of the Superbowl by my beloved Seahawks (or, as I was frequently referring to them yesterday, the SeaGULLS). Stage 1 is 'denial:' "We totally were a better team and should have won that game! Look at the stats, we were a better team." Stage 2 is 'anger:' "Stupid refs, reversing a touchdown on a penalty that really didn't happen and giving one to them when they didn't really get it. It's all those stupid, darn, ref's fault!" Stage 3 is 'bargaining:' "Please admit you made two major errors on those calls! At least admit you (the refs) were wrong!" Stage 4 is 'depression:' "I can't believe we lost. Seriously, I just feel crappy. Anyone want to cry on my shoulder with me?" Stage 5 is 'acceptance:' "Oh well, it's just a game. There's always upcoming years. When does Spring Training start anyway?"

You get the point. I am bummed, bummed, bummed about yesterday, but I'll get over it. I should be used to it now with disappointing years by the Mariners year after year.

Other than the loss yesterday, I think yesterday might have been my idea of heaven. It was so sunny and beautiful out yesterday, it felt like spring. So, I slept in, had some coffee and read the paper. Then, I went out and putzed around in my yard for an hour and a half. I did some transplanting of some plants that needed new homes in my yeard, did a bit of weeding, and got my pond pump up and running so that when spring really does hit, it doesn't smell to high heaven. I even have some plants that are either in full bloom (crocuses, witch hazel, and viburnum) or about ready to bloom (forsythia, rhododendron). Then, my friend Jessica and I went on a long walk in the beautiful sun. After that, I headed over to a gal's house from church and watched the game there. Other than the loss, it was a fun time. After the game, we had a shortened church service where we worshipped for about an hour and headed home. It was my perfect day!

I didn't mention it last week, but I have another friend who got engaged. My friend Chantel and her boyfriend Garrett got engaged a little over a week ago. I am also a bridesmaid in her wedding. It looks like the summer is going to be a busy one. At least if we have another formal Christmas party next year I won't have to buy a new dress...I'll just wear one from this summer.

I bought my plane ticket to London for my trip in mid-March last week. I arrive in London at noon on the 15th of March and get back on the afternoon of March 25th. I am hoping while I am there, in addition to going to a wedding for a couple I met while there last time, to see Stonehenge. We'll see!

That's it for today. Have a great week!