Friday, October 31, 2008
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 for...um...about 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
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
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
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 Rapids...so 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
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
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).
I remember when I was about four years old and watching this little vignette on Sesame Street: these two little cartoon characters were talking about fear and one little character was asking the other what he was afraid of. He asked about monsters, the dark, scary thunderstorms, etc., and the other guy just kept saying, "Um, no." Then the first guy says, "Well, what ARE you afraid of?" and all of a sudden on the screen came the word FEAR in big cartoon letters, and the second guy shrieks, "FEAR!" and runs away. For Sesame Street, this was kind of an odd philosophical way to point out that most of us, including little kids, are actually not afraid of what we think we're afraid of - it's the act of being afraid itself that is actually scary. And clearly it made an impression on my four-year-old mind, and even then I remember thinking, "Huh...he's afraid of fear itself? Interesting." (or some four-year-old equivalent thereof)
Fear has been an enormous struggle for me. I think it has been all my life, and just festered unchecked in very subtle ways before it really rattled me. Fear, like any other sin (and yes, it's taken a while for me to recognize it for what it is: sin), is very subtle. And hey, doesn't everyone fear something, even just a little bit? And aren't most women prone to worry anyway? Aren't MOST people at least mildly concerned about something having to do with their health, finances, relationships...? Isn't fear really just an inherent characteristic of us all?
Shortly after Matt and I got married my relationship with fear started to rear its ugly head. I had always been able to keep it in check (whether I realized it or not), but at this point I was starting to have panic attacks. If you've never had a panic attack, you can never fully understand that what seems so irrational and ridiculous to you is very real and horrifying to the one who is panicking. They always happened at night, and I would be throttled out of a deep sleep with this consuming feeling that I was absolutely going to die right then and there. My heart was racing, my breathing was shallow, I was sweating, my fingers were tingling, and poor Matt would practically need to peel me off the ceiling. My heart would skip all over the place (I've always been prone to palpitations for some reason), which would only make matters worse. Initially, I wasn't recognizing these as panic attacks; I thought something was seriously wrong with my heart. Then I became obsessed with my heart. Physical concerns are only compounded when you're anywhere near the healthcare field - I know way too much and can rationalize any physical fear that I have.
When we moved back to Michigan I discussed my concerns with my doctor, and she thought it would be wise to at least find out if there IS a physical issue to at least put my mind at ease. I wore a heart monitor for a month - I had three leads stuck to my chest and they were attached to a little pager-like device, and when I felt myself having a palpitation, I would hit a button on the pager and it would record what was going on. Turns out, it wasn't all in my head and I did have some arrhythmias that were potentially concerning. Off I went for a battery of cardiac tests, including an ultrasound and a stress test. My doctor prescribed a beta-blocker for me to take, which I never have. I draw the line there. I knew that my biggest problem was not my physical heart.
My heart still flutters and skips and jumps from time to time, but I just accept it at this point. It might become more of a problem as I age, but what I can I do about it right now? But what really needed to be addressed was my HEART-heart...the one where Christ is supposed to reside. I cannot serve two masters, and unfortunately I am far more willing to submit to fear than to hand it over to the One who abolished it. By submitting to my fear, I am basically saying to God, "You can't handle this and I need to take control of it - I need to ruminate on it, lose sleep over it, think of whatever I can to fix this problem, because clearly You're not." I demonstrate my lack of trust when I fear. My days were written well before I was even made - who on earth am I to think that God didn't know what He was doing when He made me? And how can I grasp the abundant life that He promised if I am so willing to submit to my fleshly desire to worry?
This is still a struggle I deal with daily. It usually centers around my health (which is, um, FINE). I can absolutely convince myself that I have any form of cancer. Or heart disease. Or whatever. And you know what? So what if I do, anyway? Is God any less sovereign? Is He sitting on the edge of His throne waiting with bated breath to find out what tomorrow will bring? Does my frailty bring Him any less glory? And were my days not planned well before I was even formed? Does He not promise to care for me and provide for my needs? Furthermore, He never promised me perfect health - in fact, He promised that in this life I WILL have troubles! This is NOT my best life - my best life awaits me in eternity.
My struggle with fear has actually been a good thing in my life once I was able to see it for what it is: something that will continue to bring me to my knees, searching God's Word for truths about my life, my body, and my heart. Our pastor at Tucson Sovereign Grace pointed out the truth of Romans 8:28 (all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose) - if fear is the one thing that continues to drive me to my knees in prayer and draw me closer to God, then it actually is a good thing. And man, was he right.
Fear sucks. But it doesn't have to control me. I haven't had a panic attack in well over a year now but that's not to say it won't ever happen again, or that I don't still experience things that begin to trigger one. I've been learning to stop listening to myself and start talking to myself and basically preaching God's truths to myself over and over again until the fear subsides. It was always be my biggest struggle. But I'm glad for it, and I've found that the more I talk about it, the more people come out of the woodwork and admit they deal with it too. And that's really what it's all about: us humbling ourselves and admitting our weaknesses and ministering to each other.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Usually, Christian women's conferences are what I find to be mildly annoying. They tend to be shmaltzy and hokey, more of a "Let's have GIRL TIME" theme than "Let's have GOD time." And let's just face it, being in a room that has reached estrogen critical mass CAN be overwhelming!
I'm not saying that said conferences are BAD, but I AM put off when Truth is watered down, God is presented as cutesy and glittery, and the deity of Christ is squealed about rather than revered. Such was my trepidation in signing up for the True Woman '08 conference, but when I saw the lineup of speakers I suspected that shmaltz, glitter, and squealing would be minimal.
Oh my goodness, it was SUCH a good conference. It was encouraging and inspiring as one would expect, but it was also in-your-face and deal-with-your-sin-NOW. Over the past couple of years, God has been showing me and Matt that in order for us to function how He created us, sin has to be dealt with. On a regular basis. It's what is continually attempting to separate us from Him, and how can the created approach the Creator with this huge wedge in the middle? And how can the Creator form His creation if said creation refuses to budge the wedge? It is humbling to realize the depth of sin that exists inside myself, namely pride, fear, selfishness...those are only the highlights. But I digress.
John Piper was the keynote speaker on the opening night, and I loved how he summed up and presented the purpose of True Woman: Wimpy theology makes wimpy women!! If we accept a watered-down gospel, how can we truly realize God's purpose in creating woman and the role she plays in displaying His glory? Masculinity and feminity belong at the center of God's purpose, namely, Christ's dying on the cross to abolish sin and be united with his bride, the church, revealing the profound mystery of "two becoming one flesh," as symbolized by marriage. (BTW - I took copious notes - these are Piper's eloquently stated words, not mine!) Essentially, true womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of the His Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood. Women have a specific role and purpose in the Body of Christ and in marriage that is so much more than physical or biological.
The rest of the conference - which gave so much to chew on I'll have it tumbling around in my head for months - addressed dealing with fear, suffering, and living an intentionally countercultural lifestyle (essentially, culture says it's all about me, God says it's all about Him!). Each speaker was humorous, humble, transparent, open about her struggles, and displayed every walk of life - married, single, kids and no kids. There was no shmaltz, glitter, or squealing - just women who are thirsty to receive Truth and display it in their homes, families, churches, workplaces - wherever they have influence. Good stuff, man. Good stuff.
The group with whom I went was a ton of fun. We stayed in a pretty sweet hotel, ate at PF Chang's, and laughed a LOT. Unfortunately, I returned with my cold being worse than when I left, so here I am at home today on the couch rather than at work. If I were a new mom with a newborn baby, I sure wouldn't want a nurse waltzing in the room who is hacking and coughing all over the place.
Hope you all had a great weekend! Apparently my readership has increased from three to about five, maybe six. That's pretty exciting that people will actually sit and read my endless thoughts. Later!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I'm heading to Chicago for a couple of days with a large group of ladies from church - we're going to the True Woman conference in Shaumburg. I'm so excited to hear some great speakers - John Piper, Barbara Rainey, Carolyn McCulley, and Joni Erikson Tada to name a few. I'm so looking forward to getting to know more of the women from church too - I kind of live in Matt's shadow sometimes because, well, he's so MATT. I have my friends too of course, but I'm trying to dig in a little more at church and not just be "Matt's wife." hahahahaha! The little kids know me ("Mrs. G!!"), so it's a good start.
I have a bit of a cold so please pray that I'll figure out the right cocktail of medications that will prevent me from clearing my throat every two seconds at night, thereby keeping my roommates not-so-blissfully awake. Matt is looking forward to having the whole bed to himself, sleeping on his back, and snoring with reckless abandonment.
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
And then there are the ones who just pull through it all somehow, and actually end up, well....WELL. They learn how to eat and they go home on minimal to no oxygen and you pack those parents up and bid them farewell, and as soon as they leave we all look at each other and say, "Who'd have thought??"
It never occurs to me that I might encounter a 20-something weeker a few years later, doing little kid things that we all take for granted in other little kids. Four and a half years ago a set of sextuplets (yes, six) was born at the facility in Grand Rapids. Those babies were born around 25 weeks and dealt with the issues that all 25 weekers deal with. The family goes to our church here in Holland, and a handful of the sextuplets are in the preschool crowd with whom I'm helping out at AWANA (thank you, Sara Sibble, for clueing me in on what it stands for: Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed!). Can I just TELL you how humbled my heart was, when, last week, I was at a table coloring with a few of these little people, and I started asking them if they knew how to spell their names. One of the sextuplets blurted out without missing a beat: "K-E-N-N-E-D-Y! Kennedy!" Ventilators, heart surgeries, medications, huge infections, treatments we would never endure as adults, and then they MAKE it. And then they become kids who actually color and learn how to spell their names and go to Wednesday night Bible club. I never allow myself to consider the long-range picture with these babies because I just don't know if many of them HAVE a long-range picture.
Yet, in spite of our feeble human attempts, they do so much more than we expect. Praise God!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
My mother-in-law, Sarah (who is a FABULOUS mother-in-law, by the way), absolutely loved downtown Holland when everyone was here for our wedding weekend in September 2006. Downtown Holland really puts on a good display for the fall, with decorated store fronts and apple baskets in front of each store. So Sarah, here are some of the apple baskets we saw a couple of weeks ago! And Sarah, can you tell me what these little orange flowers are that I found in our back yard? They look like little Chinese lanterns and are so cool!
Finally, I downloaded my pictures from our trip to the Wisconsin Dells. We had a FABULOUS time!! One of the reasons we're so glad to have the timeshare that we do is that it's based on a points system, so we can either use all of our points at someplace more luxurious, or we can break them up and use them at other smaller resorts that are closer by, and we like the fact that we're traveling to places we wouldn't have thought to go otherwise.
The Dells is a somewhat cheesy, Mackinaw City type of place, but if you do some exploring, there is some amazing geography with lakes and hiking trails. We went to a cave, kayaked on a beautiful lake, hiked around another lake, and even spent some time at an indoor water park. We started out at a resort that was off the beaten path, in a very beautiful setting surrounded by trees, but then we switched over to the newer resort where we had a ridiculously large and plush condo. It's fun to feel pampered every once in a while, but I was pretty happy to get back to our simple, small house again!