Friday, December 26, 2008

Lake Effect

We've had many concerned phone calls (from family in far more pleasant climes) regarding our status in the snow. We had a good dumping starting last Friday and have shoveled ourselves into oblivion. Auntie Pauline over on the Big Island couldn't resist the urge to email us the front page of her local newspaper, showing Kona's forecasted high for the day (83) and a picture of a surfer...juxtaposed with Boston's high (17??) and a picture of a poor fool digging out his car.

Now, tell me this...upon looking at OUR pictures, who doesn't want to live on the good old third coast??? Hawaii? Whatever.

Merry Christmas!

We've gotten boatloads of snow, and now we're getting boatloads of rain. It has been a fabulous Christmas season, repeated shovelings of the driveway notwithstanding! We've tried to be a part of as many of the festivities as possible...the Christmas Open House evening downtown Holland, a couple of Christmas parties, I played my flute in the makeshift "Christmas orchestra" one Sunday at church, listened to gobs of Christmas music, decorated the house, I went up to Manistee to make cookies with Mom, and had my parents here to spend the night on Christmas Eve. After a yummy breakfast with Mom and Dad on Christmas Day, we had a fabulous dinner with our friends Jan-Harm and Mary. Mary is a gifted hostess, and when she says "eat" you ask "how much?" and don't think twice! I was scheduled to work from 3-11p but as it turned out the patient census was low enough to put a few people on call, so I never ended up going in. Matt, Jan and I burned off our calories shoveling Pastor Timothy's driveway after dinner.

It's gone fast but we've really been trying to marinate in the joy and the meaning of the season. Didn't do any gifts this year, just kept it simple..and man, was that ever liberating!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This poor man...

...runs his butt off all day! He serves and serves and serves until it hurts. He does accountability and fellowship twice a week with guys from our church, seeks counsel once a week with one of his accountability partners, helped V-man with his business, runs the soundboard at church when he's needed, teaches the Jr. High boys at Awana, is always available to MY friends when they need a good "guy opinion," AND works full-time. AND helps me at home, runs to the grocery store, does laundry, empties the dishwasher, walks the dog, and does whatever he can to spend time with me.

Yes, the above picture really is him crashed out on the couch, jacket, hat, and all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I cancelled coffee with Michelle

The title to this post does have a point. You'll have to keep reading to find out what that point is!

I have been accepted to Michigan State's MSN program...which is a completely different program from what I applied to do. I think I explained a bit ago that they just announced a change in the MSN in Education program to reflect increasing standards for those who teach at the Bachelor's level...which I think is a good thing. However, upon graduation, I would be a Master's-prepared educator with an advanced practice degree as well - a Clinical Nurse Specialist. However, I would be a clinical expert in an adult arena. My passion and "expertise" lie with people who weigh less than 10 lbs. I can't pursue a degree of that level that isn't what I wholeheartedly desire.

Last week I was mired in my statistics. BASIC statistics. Probably the same material that high schoolers cover in their AP stats classes. I was freaking out over my homework and ended up canceling a coffee date that I was really looking forward to with my friend Michelle. So it was one coffee date...what's the big deal? But let me tell you how I chewed on that all day...I can't tell you how meaningful it is to me to be rooted in a place where we have friends and are part of a community. And now I'm bowing out of that in a large way to pursue something else. And even bigger than that, if I'm feeling badly for bagging out on a friend, how much more will that feeling be compounded when I'm choosing between writing a research paper (for a much more daunting class) and bonding with my child?? (*No, said child is not arriving in the next 9 months - it is still the hypothetical child!*) The more I chewed on these things, the more bitter it tasted.

Matt would support my decision if I said I wanted to jump off the rim of the Grand Canyon. But that same day, as he was driving home, he felt a burden in HIS heart too about these things. So we had some awesome discussion over the weekend about our priorities and where we feel God leading our lives and what we want for our home and our future family. We were planning on just going ahead and having kids in the midst of me being in school. Carolyn and I joked, when people asked us what about when we have babies, that we'd be breastfeeding with one hand and typing our papers with the other. But deep down I know our children need more of me than that, and that's not how I want it to be.

There are so many things I/we want to do it's ridiculous. There are so many amazing ways to minister and influence and drink up this life that God has given us. A couple of summers ago, within one week, God dropped in both of our hearts separately a desire to adopt. We each had three separate instances that week that involved something concerning adoption, and each prayed, "God, is this something you want me to talk with Matt/Jenny about??" That is something we feel without a doubt is part of the Lord's intention for growing our family. No idea how or when or where; it's still in the "talking" stage, but with these new thoughts regarding not pursuing my education at this time, we may move forward with earnestly seeking counsel and beginning paperwork in 2009 so at least it's on file for when the time is right.

We'd love to do short-term missions. Again, how or where or when is beyond me. I have always desired to volunteer at the local mission and keep putting involvement there on the back burner because, well, how on earth would I do that, work, and do school?

School may still be in my future, but God has lovingly helped me place it on a shelf right now. My greatest sphere of influence at the moment is in my home and in my community. When we have children, the time that I have with them can never be regained. We have such a responsibility to be resourceful with what we are given, whether with finances, time, or talent. Times are uncertain right now, and people matter most.

So I canceled coffee with Michelle and it profoundly made me consider what my priorities are and what I want my life to look like for the next few years. I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders that I didn't even realize was there until it was gone. In no way do I feel that taking stats and applying to school was a wasted effort: I conquered a huge fear (um, taking stats), grew exponentially in my friendship with Carolyn, and actually applied to grad school, something I never thought I'd actually follow thru with doing! And it's certainly no coincidence that State up and changed their program at the last possible second - it made me seriously consider what I want and love and where my priorities lie. That alone has renewed my excitement for what God has in store for our lives!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Please don't give up on me...

...until I actually sit down and do an update, I will regale you with a joke, courtesy of a pediatrician with whom I work whom I swear makes a daily habit of memorizing dumb joke that only make us politely guffaw.

So the Flood is over and Noah has passed on the decree to all of the animals to "go forth and multiply." He and his family are cleaning up the ark (which was undoubtedly a rank mess, I declare), and Noah comes across a pair of snakes curled up together in the back of the ark. Exasperated, Noah says, "I thought I told you to go forth and multiply!"

The snakes look at him in desperation and squeak out, "But sir, we can't...we're adders!!"

Ba-da bum. Don't forget to tip your waitress!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I interviewed with Michigan State on Tuesday night!! It was a very informal phone interview, so it was done from the comfort of the guest room in my pajamas while Molly snoozed on the floor. I had received an email on Tuesday morning saying to call and schedule an interview, and the secretary originally asked if I could do it later that afternoon. As it turned out, the profs who would be interviewing me were still teaching at that time, so they asked if they could call in the evening to reschedule. One did call me later in the evening, and launched into the interview right there. It was very fun and conversational and not-intimidating.

The program is changing as of next fall, with the addition of a piece to the MSN in Education called the Clinical Nurse Specialist. A CNS is an advanced practice nurse who works in the acute care setting of the hospital (rather than in the primary care setting of, say, a clinic or doctor's office, like a nurse practitioner would) integrating the processes of patient care practices, nursing-related issues, management concerns, nurse and patient education, etc. It's a very broad role. The requirements for Master's-prepared nursing educators are ever-changing, and it is essential that those who teach have an advanced-practice background. So it will require more classes (but fun ones that the nurse practitioner students take, that I was drooling over), like Advanced Health Assessment, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Advanced Pharmacology, and wraps up with an intensive clinical internship with a CNS. It will be more adult-focused, so a bit out of the comfort zone I've had with little people for a while, but that's all part of the challenge. I'm very excited.

So evidently the decisions will be made tomorrow and acceptance letters will be mailed in the next couple of weeks. So I may wrap up stats AND find out if I am accepted by Christmas! FUN!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Birfday, Mom!

My mom's birthday was yesterday, but I was working all day and didn't have the opportunity to post about it. Anyway, happy birthday, Momia!! My mom rocks. She's fun and has more than once made me wet my pants laughing. My dad's had to separate us in church, we've had to leave grocery stores because we were laughing too hard to get the picture. Thanks mom, for being my friend and wise counsel. And being a wonderful-gut (that's Pennsylvania Dutch for wonderful-good, if you don't have the Amish cred that we have) mother-in-law to Matt. We love you!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I miss you, friend...

Tomorrow marks four years from when a dear friend of mine passed into Heaven. Mya and her twin, Stella, were born on May 26, 2004 at 26 weeks'gestation. Mya had multiple internal anomalies that were not known until she began having severe complications. Her story is long and heartbreaking, and a blog posting will never do her justice. But I will suffice to say that for six months that girl won my heart and I loved her and her amazing family. Mya had a spitfire personality, was demanding and had a temper. :D She knew many lifetimes of suffering in her short life, and had more surgeries, infections, and complications than I can count on all of my fingers and toes. She had her family and her primary nurses on an emotional roller-coaster, which is par for course in the raw and fragile world of the NICU.

Mya's story is sad and humorous and sweet all at once, and there will probably never be another patient of mine who will worm her way into my heart the way that baby did. My heart goes out to all of those families who wear the garment of grief during the holiday season, whether it is because their child is ill, has passed away, or never knew life outside of the womb. To you I say, I am so sorry.

To Mya I say yet again, Miss Jenny loves you and thinks you're beautiful. I can't wait to see you in heaven where you are whole.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks...

Way too many things to be thankful for that we don't deserve...

1. Thankful for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, without whom we are and would have nothing. Our favorite song sums it up:

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank you
The Father's wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank you
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank you!

2. Thankful for our marriage! We are each other's primary means of grace...which is a tough lesson to learn...and even tougher to act out...

3. Thankful for our families, who are loving and supportive (not to mention fun).

4. Thankful for our home, where we've lived for a whole year (Dec. 1!). It's small, but it's ours and it's enough. :D

5. Thankful for our jobs, which not only do we have when so many people are searching for jobs, but we love them too. Usually.

6. Thankful for our church - the dearest place on earth - and our growing circle of friends. Especially thankful for the accountability that Matt has found with a group of men. As iron sharpens iron...

7. Thankful for food on our table and clothing on our might not be gourmet and they might not be super-trendy, but we're cool sometimes!

8. Our health!! My heart still jumps around at weird times, but I probably do too, so it's probably just part of my charm.

9. I could go on and on...there's so much to be thankful for if you sit and think about it. Even if it's been a bad year (and there have been plenty of bad years unfolding around us for a lot of people). God truly is good. All the time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

X-treme Scrabble

About once a week, on one of my days off, I declare a no-makeup, air-dry-my-hair day. It just seems like a good thing to do: give my body a break from all the "stuff." Of course, I run the risk that, oh, I'll get asked to come into work because there were two STAT c-sections at once...or that Matt will call and say, "Hey, some friends want to hang out and grab coffee." Or both.

Such was the story of yesterday. I did go to work for about an hour and a half, bandanna and all. And PT2 (that's Pastor Timothy's street name - PT1 is Pastor Trent, for those who aren't in the know) and his wife Tracy asked if we wanted to join them at JP's (local coffee place). So we brought the Scrabble board, and I daresay we were the loudest table there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


On a hike in Tucson

I've been tagged by Maggie Smith! Here's how it works -

The Rules:
go to Your Pictures file
go to the 5th folder
open up the 5th picture and post it
then tag 5 people when you are done

Many of "my readers" do not have a blog...but those of you who do...I tag Mary W., Em and Sara, and Ellen S.!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You NEED this recipe!!

This is the best breakfast recipe ever! It's from my Betty Crocker cookbook and we like to call it "Yummy Egg Dish." It's a breakfast casserole and is perfect for the holiday mornings coming up. I made it on blizzardy Saturday mornings when we lived in Denver, and it just became a weekend tradition. It goes great with Scrabble! :D I usually make a half recipe and it's plenty for 2-4 people. Just have a good dose of Lipitor on hand.

Yummy Egg Dish

2 pkgs (12 oz each) bulk pork sausage
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 c frozen hash brown potatoes
2 c shredded cheese (I use the Mexican blend)
1 c baking mix (Bisquick, Trader Joe's, whatever)
2 c milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 eggs

1. Heat oven to 400. Spray 13x9-in glass baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In 10" skillet, cook sausage, bell pepper, and onion over medium heat until sausage no longer pink; drain. Mix sausage mixture, potatoes, and 1 1/2 cups cheese in the baking dish.

3. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick, milk, pepper, and eggs with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into baking dish.

4. Bake uncovered 40-45 min. or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c cheese. Bake 1-2 min longer or just until cheese is melted. Cool 5 min.

If you try it and love it, let me know!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lake Effect

Well, the warm-weather honeymoon sure is over!!

This was on Monday. The first picture was in the morning, and it did that for the better part of the day until it cleared up a bit in the afternoon. Way beautiful, though!

Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving? We're sticking around Holland because I have to work Thanksgiving and the day after. We're dog-sitting for Husker (AKA "Huthker"), Molly's Goldendoodle boyfriend. This weekend we're dog sitting Tara, Molly's other partner in crime. I'm starting to think that we have created only one Gouveia family holiday tradition so far: dog-sitting for other people so they can go celebrate their holiday traditions!! hahahaha! Tara's "mom and dad" are bringing us back a load of Trader Joe's groceries in exchange, so it's definitely well worth it.

Other Gouveia news...let's see...

*Molly's gimping on her left rear leg. Amazing vet Dr. Wilson says it may be a torn ACL or meniscus, and the only way to tell is if she goes on COMPLETE REST (Ha. Ha. Ha.) for TWO OR THREE WEEKS. If she's still limping after that amount of time, it probably is in fact a torn ligament or something like that. If that were the case, I have no idea what we'd do. Sedate a dog and get an MRI?????? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! And then PAY for it? AHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Fortunately, after a few days of imposed rest, Molly hates us but the limping has decreased significantly.

*I'm still passing stats. Over halfway through! I can calculate a mean standard deviation ("mean" being descriptive, like "phat." But I can calculate a mean MEAN as well) and z-score. And use fabulous terms like, "statistical analysis" and "Central Limits Theorem."

*We're reading this great book (I read it out loud while Matt shaves in the evening - way more fun than watching Deal or No Deal) that Matt's mom gave us called "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." It's hilarious!! It's a fictitious series of letters written by the characters to each other, and it takes place shortly after WWII and the end of the German Occupation on Guernsey Island, near England. The wit is fabulous, and if you've ever read a Jane Austen novel and then wished SO BADLY that you could speak so eloquently all the time (and say intriguing things like, "the import of which"), you'd enjoy this book. It's a fun way to learn a little bit of history too. Like I told Matt's mom, I'm a Gen-X punk who knows and appreciates little about the War, so it's good for me to learn, too.

*We STILL sound like a Tb sanitarium. If you can avoid the creeping crud/pertussis/walking pneumonia/whatever it is this season, please do so. Wash your hands. And get a flu shot. I was never a fan of the flu shot, but I changed my tune after reading the research. I'll spare you the soapbox and implore you to get it instead.

*Clearly there is no significant news to report this week and as I write this I'm increasingly aware of the not-so-riveting nature of our lives. But I'm surprisingly okay with that right now! Someday we'll have kids and I'll post on them at an obnoxious rate, and you'll wish for the days when I reported boring things again. HA!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back to Hope I go...

Sue Dunn (remember her?) emailed me last week and said she had an "opportunity" to discuss. If you didn't read the post (back in, oh, probably August), she was one of my professors in nursing school, and is now the director of the nursing program at Hope. She has been about why I haven't gotten my kiester to grad school yet. Finally this past summer, during a day filled with what I like to think of as divine appointments, she helped me get the ball rolling. Hence, why I applied to grad school and am currently pulling my hair out over probability statistics.

Well, we met today regarding this opportunity to teach a clinical rotation of senior nursing students next semester. In the final semester of your senior year, you do a leadership rotation/internship, where you are honing your skills of balancing a patient load, delegating, etc. Demonstrating your leadership as a nurse, so-to-speak. The clinical instructor in this role acts as a guide and mentor to the students, is in relationship with their preceptors (the nurse who is working with them on the unit), audits their charting, grades their journal assignments, etc. It is considered a part-time faculty position. I'm feeling like a wide-eyed deer stuck in headlights, but how can I turn that opportunity down? So I said yes! Sue said it's the best case scenario as far as the time it'll involve (far less than taking on a full rotation of 10 students - I'll have four or five), I'll be able to be mentored by the other part-time instructor, and it'll be great for getting my feet wet teaching-wise.

So back to Hope I go. Go Dutch!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Majestic Molly Moo

Happy Birthday, Molly Moo!! Two years ago today, we picked up a skinny, spunky, stinky little yellow dog at the Denver Dumb Friends League. She was shipped there from a shelter in Kansas, deemed to be "about" two years old, and came home with us. (Our receipt says, "1 dog.........$100.") So we call November 11th her birthday and celebrate as such (with a can of wet food, if I make it to the store to buy it).

I know, a post dedicated to a dog is a bit much. But if you've ever loved a pet of any kind, they're never "just" anything. Molly patiently scrunched into whatever space was left in my car for cross-country drives during our moving phases. She was a comfort to me during my season of panic attacks. She lends a sweet and peaceful and fun presence to our home. She's been the first to make friends wherever we've lived. She snores louder than my husband, runs like a maniac, and eats like a slob. She prefers hugs to doggy treats and sleeps with a pink fleece blanket. But she's never attempted to get on the furniture, and while she's obliterated toys that were supposedly "indestructible," she's never laid a tooth on anything of ours.

So Molly Moo, hats off to you. You're our best yellow friend and I guess we'll keep you after all. :D

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A fun Saturday

Post #3 today!! It's not that I think we have an almighty fabulous life. The biggest factor in multiple posts is that I can't for the life of me figure out how to get more than four pictures on a post at a time. Therefore, I create themes. :D

Busy week at the Gouveia's. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary, but between both of us working full-time, Matt helping V-man one morning a week and meeting with his accountability guys two mornings a week, AWANA on Wednesday nights, and me being in class, the days fly. The second week of statistics went well, so far so good. I kind of enjoy being self-directed in learning. Carolyn and I have been helping each other a ton, too, which helps. We work on our homework at work every chance we can, and then meet at a coffee shop at the end of the week to wrap up our assignments and check our work. This week we're going to learn about probability, which totally freaks me out (ever since the third-grade problems of "you have ten marbles in a bag. What's the probability you'll draw a black marble out of the bag?" HUUUHHHH??????). So Carolyn's going to teach me about probability by teaching me how to play Yahtzee.

The weather turned cold this weekend and the white stuff is starting to fly on and off. Matt and I had a fun Saturday morning together playing Scrabble, and then my mom came and she and I checked out a couple of craft bizarres. We had coffee and yummies at the Alpen Rose (mmmmm...), and checked out the Christmas decorations downtown.

In the evening Matt and I went to my "Apples of Gold" banquet. For the past six weeks I've been in a women's Bible study called "Apples of Gold" (based on the Proverb - "A word aptly spoken is like golden apples in a silver bowl), where the "older" women in the church mentor and minister to the younger. It takes place in someone's home, with a Bible study, quick cooking lesson (the first time I've ever touched filo dough - if that's how you even spell it), and then a very luxurious dinner. Anyway, it wrapped up this week and the older ladies hosted a beautiful dinner for us graduated "apples" and spouses. We had good fellowship, food, and singing. Dear Esther Harrington was there (see the Chinese buffet post); it's always a treat to be in her presence.

Ask and you shall receive...

I was just saying to Matt yesterday that I would like to keep my eyes peeled at antique stores or second-hand shops for a small desk or table where I can do my homework. We don't have many "surfaces" in our house for working, other than our kitchen table and the coffee table. Much of the time either of these tables can be covered with old mail, books, magazines, whatever. And I don't like to monopolize either of them anyway. We have a perfect little nook in the back of our living room that doesn't get much use, so if I could find a little something to put there where I can have my books and computer, that would be grand.

My mom came down yesterday so we could go to a couple of Christmas craft shows. One of them was okay, but the other one we went to at a church was your quintessential church craft bazaar. And there was a lady there who refurbishes old furniture and antiques in her basement - and her work was FABULOUS!!! I found this sweet little robin-egg blue desk and chair for $65!!! At my favorite shabby-chic store downtown something like this would fetch at least $200. It's complete with little glass knobs on the drawer. I had to snatch it up because people were literally lining up to ask for it.

So now I have a place to do my homework, AND the little nook in the living room serves a bit of a function. I put a different chair with it that's a little more accommodating for my (still bruised) rearius endius.

Another post for Sarah...

Sorry it's been a while since I updated!! It's been a very full week, but a good one. I'll probably post a few times today with a couple different fun snippets. But I've been wanting to put these on for California Mommy, who I'm sure would love to see the great colors we had this fall. I took a few shots on our street in October and at the farmer's market.

Sarah - I can't WAIT to show you what I found at a craft show yesterday. More to come this afternoon!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Is it REALLY the last day of October??

I can't believe how this entire year has flown! We've already lived in our house for almost a year (on December 1st!), been here in Michigan for a year and a half (the longest I've lived in one spot four and a half years?

I'm going to try to post updates on both of us on a regular basis - not because we fancy that our lives are so fascinating and we're certain you're all sitting on the edge of your seat, breathless with anticipation...more for the friends and family we don't talk to on a regular basis who are spread hither and yon. And I know that Matt's mom loves updates and is a regular on the blog!! :D

It's been a busy week and Matt called on his way home last night and said he wanted to be "in bed and snoring by 9:30." Honestly, a few years ago when I was on the night shift, I was lucky to be able to even think about falling asleep before 3am. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd crawl into bed at 8:58pm and actually sleep! We're still both trying to shake this awful cough that has been with us for the past month. Our house sounds like a Tb sanitarium! We really do feel better than we sound, though.

Matt took his junior high guys from Awana to Coldstone on Wednesday night, church bus and all (V-man drove the bus, NOT Matt!). They really seem to like him and there are some high schoolers with him whom he works as well who have really taken to him. One of them keeps pestering his mom apparently to have us over for dinner. His parents (whom I really don't know) have nine kids. Like she has time to whip up dinner for us!

The bus did pull up at work and every pregnant woman slid right off and into our unit. We went from listening to crickets last week to near-crisis mode this week. Plus, we have one rotation of nursing students after the other coming thru at this time of year, so you're almost guaranteed to have at least one or two following you. I loooove students but having one with me (especially if it's their first rotation ever) means that my work takes about two or three times longer than normal because I'm explaining every move I make, looking up meds with them in the drug guide, coaching them thru procedures, etc.

Stats is so far so good. It's weird taking a class online but I think I'll get used to it. Pretty much all of the other people in my class (besides Carolyn) has five kids, works two jobs, and is busting their tail just to get by because their husband is laid off. I was like, whoa, I have it soooo easy here. And I know that things can change so quickly.

I have to toot Matt's horn because he's such an awesome support to me. He'll do the grocery shopping on his way home from work, pitch in with housework, do whatever he can to help me have more time to work on my stuff. Now THAT is a fabulous husband. My friends and I who are taking this class had a freak-out moment two days before it started when we realized that the books that we ordered on Amazon didn't come with the software that we need for the class. We thought we had to order totally new books and pay to have them shipped quickly..which all told would be $200. Matt offered to drop by the university on his way home from work to pick up the books for us so we'd at least save on the overnight shipping fees. When he got there he found out this software is available for free at the library. He downloaded the software and then distributed it to my friends to save them time and money. Like HE'S got a lot of extra time!! He's so thoughtful that way.

That's about all here. Have fun this weekend and WOO-HOOOOOOO we get an extra hour! Don't forget to reset your clocks!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uncharted territory...and a Chinese buffet

My Intro to Statistics class starts this week!! Aughh!! I know it's a very basic class, actually probably more like a high-school level class, but still, I've never taken it before and it's a bit unnerving. Especially since it's online. I know people take online courses all the time but I've never done it and it's weird. You have to post and discuss and...can't I just sit in a lecture hall????

Class officially starts on Wednesday. I work 12 hours on Wednesday so I'll probably be sitting at the kitchen table starting my homework at 4:30am before I get ready for work. But you know, after working 5am-5pm in Denver and having to get up at 3:30am on a regular basis, anything later than that just doesn't sound so bad anymore!

On a lighter note, there is this wonderful woman at church named Esther Harrington. Esther is in her 80's and while she is a woman of many sorrows (her husband left her long ago after 30-some-odd years of marriage, and she has battled with many forms of cancer), she is the most glowing personality I've ever encountered. Esther is always immaculately dressed with perfectly coiffed hair. And a gentle spirit and faith that is so unshakable. I hope someday I'm half as beautiful as Esther.

Well, evidently Esther loves Chinese food. AND, one of her favorite haunts is...Wok In Wok Out!!!! Our FAVORITE Chinese buffet on the PLANET!! Matt made this serendipitous discovery yesterday while chatting with Esther at church, and guess who WE'RE meeting at 5 today to belly up to the buffet?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, California Mommy!!

Today is my awesome mother-in-law's birthday! Last year when she turned 70 she pulled together a fabulous birthday party and we flew out to California for it. It was SUCH a fun week, and I can't believe it's already been a year since!

Sarah is a retired nurse who raised four children and two stepchildren, has a quiver full of grandchildren, and is always on the go. She is smart and kind and generous, appreciates all of my funny, heartwrenching, and frustrating nursing stories, and raised a fabulous son (well, a few fabulous sons, but I'm partial to one of them).

We love you Sarah, and hate how far away we live from you. We hope you have a fabulous birthday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What about Matt?

Matt was pointing out that his presence is not so felt on the blog..and it is, after all, mattandjennygo, not just jennygo. So he was hoping that I could provide an update on what he's doing too. Well, he's not slipping down stairs or traveling to conferences. But he IS a very busy man.

Work has been going well for him in Grand Rapids. My mind just does not wrap easily around the responsibilities that he has, but I know that his bosses absolutely love him and are pleased with his work. For those of you who don't know, Matt is the senior network engineer for the City of Grand in essence, he's quite the I.T. guy (but not the snotty one you see on Saturday Night Live, thankfully). I hear the words "firewall," "switches," and "troubleshooting" a lot, along with a whole alphabet soup of acronyms, like "VLAN," "IP," and "CISCO." So I've concluded he must be a genius.

And then he's Mr. Calvary Baptist to boot. As always, his servant's heart has landed him in many roles at church and he gives with such a cheerful heart. He's been helping with the soundboard during some of the Sunday services, helped with the 11-year-old boys during Vacation Bible Time, and teaches the junior high boys at Awana on Wednesday nights. Furthermore, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings he gets together with a handful of guys for fellowship, accountability, and bagels before they all head to work. This Saturday he's helping with a youth group event too (it just happens that one of his accountability partners is the youth pastor).

AND THEN (no, I'm not done!), he's been helping a friend with a side business. It's kind of an interesting business and merits some explaining. Remember V-man (referring to an earlier post)? V-man is an engineer by day and runs an adult diaper distributing business by early morning/night. Here's how/why: V-man has a good friend from college who has spina bifida (spinal birth defect) and has to wear adult diapers. Several years ago, V-man and his friend were on a trip in Europe and the friend ran out of his diapers and had to buy more. The ones that he bought, evidently, were of way better quality than what he has back at home. Unfortunately, these diapers were not available in the United States. So he set out to change that, got in cahoots with the company, and set up a distribution warehouse out in California where he lives. V-man also set up a distribution warehouse here in Holland, and he ships these adult diapers for the east side of the country. It appears that there is more of a demand for these undergarments than one would realize, and the business is actually quite busy. So Matt's been helping him fill the orders and package them for shipping, like one morning a week. Well, V-man went on vacation a couple of weeks ago to California to see this friend, and then as soon as he came back he had to head to Korea for a week on business. So Matt's been doing all the packaging and distributing for the past couple of weeks and it's been a pretty sizable job. He's been getting up at 4am to do the packaging, then meet with his accountability group, then head to work for a full day. It does make for a long day, but of course Matt's giving spirit doesn't complain.

We've both been battling colds for the past few weeks and have been given to violent fits of coughing (I'm really not exaggerating there), so I think Matt'll be ready to not get up at 0400 next week; he'll get to "sleep in" till 0445, when I get up!

So that's a peek into the life of G-man. I'm so grateful to God for a husband who is so giving and kind, and willing to step into others' lives and give until it hurts and then some. Matt, thank you for being such a hard worker and demonstrating an uncomplaining spirit, and setting such a good example for the other men around you. And thank you for humbling yourself to God and other men for the sake of our marriage. You truly are a gift!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Keepin' it humble

If you've ever been in our house, you know that the stairs going up to our bedroom are at a pitch that is somewhat akin to scaling the Hilary Step on Mount Everest (hey - I've read "Into Thin Air," so I've got cred). This morning I was throttled out of a warm and happy sleep by a coughing fit. I could hardly catch my breath so I got up to go downstairs and get a drink. I took one step on the stairs and proceeded to slip, banana-peel style, and bounced down the steps like a skipping stone. Matt heard the THUMP! - thump-thump-thump-thump and found me sitting there half-crying and half-pouting. I was mostly mad because, I mean, bummer start to the morning. I'm coughing violently, can't catch my breath, and now I just bounced down the stairs. It hurt, dude. Like it hurts to sit and it even smarts when I walk. So this afternoon I climbed on the side of the tub so I could see my lower half in the mirror, and an inspection of the damage reveals a nasty bruise on my rearius endius.

I'm just gonna say, it's just another way I'm reminded that I don't have much to brag about.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Have you read "The Shack?"

There is a wildly popular book out there called "The Shack" by William P. Young that's become somewhat of a Christian fad (think WWJD bracelets, The Prayer of Jabez, etc). I started reading it upon the recommendation of a friend (and it's on the shelf of every store, everyone at work is reading it, etc), but a few chapters in something in my spirit was like, "Ummmm...something here isn't right..." and I put it down. I'm not Bible scholar, but there seemed to be some huge doctrinal holes.

I would encourage anyone who has read this book or who is reading it right now to ask God for a spirit of discernment. Just because a book is sold in a Christian bookstore or is endorsed by Christian friends or a church does not mean it is sound and in line with God's Word. We are called to be as gentle as doves and wise as serpents in all things, and there are plenty of things in this world that are packaged as truth that don't line up with the Truth.

Dr. Michael Youssef - a well-known pastor and author - read the book himself after hearing about how many people in his congregation were eating it up. He went on to outline thirteen distinct ways that "The Shack" contradicts the Bible in its claims about the deity of Christ, the role of the Trinity, sin, and justice - to name a few.

Following is Dr. Youssef's list of the book's claims that are blatantly contradictory to God's Word. As for me, I'd rather read some good Amish fiction, thank you.

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.
Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.
The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.
Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.
Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins.
The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.
The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices.
Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love.
The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.
Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.
Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.
Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.
The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).