Saturday, August 30, 2014

7 Ways I Survive Meetings

There's nothing as intolerable as a long meeting. The key to survival, I've learned, is to take notes on everything.  

People watching probably think, what an attentive nurse, taking minutes!



I might be.....

1.)  Taking notes on or sketching the postures of the important people around me...
  • Torso slouched low in chair, legs on the table in front of him.  
  • Head bent forward, wire-rimmed glasses sliding down bridge of nose.  
  • Standing on the sidelines, lithe and lean against a pillar.  
  • Never still, face in hands, then lounging back in his chair with his hands cradling one knee, changing position with every change of subject in the meeting. 

2.)  Matching drink and food choices to personalities.... 
  • A yellow Rockstar energy drink aluminum can, now empty.  It crashes against the table as a prop in the hands of a gesturing doctor who's spouting frustration. 
  • Water in a clear plastic glass, in the hands (of course) of that lean cardiologist by the pillar. 
  • Cinnamon roll muffin, bitten apart by a surgeon.
  • Banana, carefully peeled and eaten by a physician's assistant who exercises at the end of 15 hour days.
  • Slice of red velvet cake, selected by a female doctor whom everyone likes.  This instantly makes eating cake okay.

3.) Making lists of great vocabulary words...  The beauty of doctors is they don't use big words to sound cool.  They just choose the best-fitting word, and it often sounds cool, sliding out seamlessly. 
  • Disingenuous.  
  • Incumbent.  
  • Onerous. 
  • Supratentorial. 

4.)  Noting clothes...  Apart from the rainbow of shorts, blue-green surgery scrubs, dress shirts, and white lab coats, there are the stethoscope people and the non-stethoscope people. The stethoscope people wear their stethoscope like an extra neck muscle.  

5.)  Watching people respond to or conceal electronics...
  • Pagers going off (which is okay) and cell phones going off (which is not okay).
  • Fingers sweeping across glass screens, or picking out quick texts held low against the tables.
6.) Listing interesting remarks....
  • "Too much whining and we need more action."  
  • "It's like walking into the Department of Motor Vehicles: you gotta have your crap there or they'll send you home." 

7.) My advice, the next time you are in a meeting....prevent early death  by boredom! 
Take notes!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

7 Reasons I Love "The Hole"

I bought two pieces of discount furniture the other day.  Together, they cost $800, which is a lot of money for me, but certainly not extravagant when it comes to furniture.  

The delivery guys arrived and brought everything in.  

"I looked at your address," the one said, "and I thought, I don't think anyone in that neighborhood has $800!  Who bought this?" 

He made me laugh. I didn't tell him this area is called, "The Hole", although he probably knew that. But he also made me remember what I love about the Brady Street neighborhood.

1.)  I love the pioneer spirit of my neighbors for whom English is a second language, who are finding their place in this new world.  I love how my street clears out at 5am with nearly everyone leaving for work.  I love how the melting pot of skin tones and languages creates a down-to-earth practical atmosphere, giving our neighborhood Martin's supermarket a distinct stamp of originality that can't be experienced at the Martin's in Nappanee, Goshen, or Granger.  

2.) I love my neighbor whose name I don't know who walks his three dogs with the curled tails who must be some kind of husky.  I've tried to speak to him before, but he seems to like his privacy.  I love how he lives his own life and doesn't worry about keeping up with anyone. 

3.) I love the spontaneity of the clusters of people and cats walking up and down the back alley that runs behind my house. Social norms are irrelevant to both species.  And I too like being able to walk everywhere: to the grocery store, the post office, the Corner Cafe, and to work. 

4.) I love the generosity of my Hispanic neighbors, who press plates of tortillas and steak into my hands.  I love the generosity of my neighbor Mary, who cooks up a storm of cakes and soups and salads whenever she's in danger of having company.  I love the generosity of my neighbor Judy, who lent me her baby stroller for my audacious baby-sitting venture last week. 

5.) I love my neighbor John, who carefully steps around the neighborhood with his cane, the clogged arteries of his heart lately bypassed by my boss, Dr. Halloran.  His daily walks around the neighborhood are an inspiration to many people.  Speaking of our generous Hispanic neighbors, they have also taken him in.  The other day there was a picnic in the back yard, complete with paper party hats balanced on the heads of adults and a discordant rendition of "Happy Birthday".  When I walked out to my car a bit later, the neighbors stopped me to hand a giant piece of cake over the chain link fence: it was John's birthday, and they had thrown him a party, and would I like a piece of cake?  

6.) I love the parents who spend time with their kids at the park...a dad holding a baby, a mom catching a child on the slide.  People on Brady Street take time with their families.  Perhaps the work ethic standard is not high....but there's a great privilege in being able to sit on your porch and chat, and wave at the neighbors going by.  

7.) I won't lie:  my neighborhood is also home to empty beer bottles and staggering drinkers.... kids in the playground yelling, "I don't ever see my dad either, and do you see me crying? NO! I f****** hate my dad!"....adults who seem to compete to see how many times that previous word can be used in a sentence....shocking obscenities shouted across the street.... neighbors calling the police because of the crack dealer next door....all the things the furniture delivery guy meant.  

But what I love in this is that the peace in my heart is more precious to me when I see these things....the conviction that God is good becomes more real....the privilege I had to grow up in shelter and safety means desire to be a transparent conduit of God's love grows stronger. 

God's light is stronger than the deepest darkness!  And that is where it shines most brightly. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

7 Observations of an Out-of-Practice Babysitter

"Sure, I'll babysit for 8 hours!"  I told my neighbor confidently.  Any human can figure out how to take care of a baby!

A friend text me her support:  And they left you with these babies??? Are they nuts? 

I assured her it was only one baby, and any human is smart enough to figure it out.  But I ended the sentence with a question mark.  Surely any human is smart enough to figure it out? 

Are we? 

1. Algebra:  Taking groceries into the house becomes algebraic when you have a baby along. A.) Do I take the groceries into the house and leave the baby in the car? B.) Do I take the groceries in last and leave the baby in the house?  C.) Is it within the realm of possibility to carry the baby continuously while taking in groceries?

2. Geometry:  Putting a baby horizontally on their stomach does not have the same effect burp-wise as holding the baby vertically.  When you put them vertical again, they will resume vomiting profusely.  

3. Nutritional Science:  How do you know when a baby needs another bottle? I'm pretty sure in eight hours that my baby had as many carbohydrates as a grown man needs in a day, just because I couldn't think of what else to do.  Is it possible to overfeed a baby? 

4. Solutes and Solvents:  Speaking of bottles, they are complicated.  It's best to put the water in the bottle first, then the powdered formula.  Just take my word for it.  

5.  Gymnastics: Another bottle complication: usually the bottle is being made because the baby is crying or unhappy.  Picking the baby up makes the baby happy, but giving it a bottle might make it happier. So is it reasonable to temporarily cause unhappiness by setting the baby down so you can make the bottle?  Or are super baby people able to make a bottle of formula while safely holding the baby? 

6.  Time Management Strategies: Keeping a baby for the afternoon doesn't sound like a lot of work at all, and there should be plenty of time to do other productive things while the baby is happily playing with his toes.  Why didn't I get anything productive done?

7.  Spirituality:  That baby, arching his back defiantly because he doesn't think he wants to be rocked, is just like me.  My arms, firmly around him, are just like the God I thought I knew.  We fight God, because we are sure we know better, but in his mercy, he holds us tight until we quit struggling and finally surrender to the best life we could ever live.  We understand God's plan no better than the baby understands ours!  (Although in this case, I can't blame the baby if he was skeptical!)

"Was he good?" Mom asked when she came to pick him up.  

I wasn't sure how to answer that.  The question of goodness was more about me.  Was I good at it?  

Thankfully, she didn't ask that! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

7 wonders of the porch...

Screened in porches.  Cluttered porches.  Painted porches, wooden porches. Porches filled with people. 

Odd trend noticed when on foot: the nicer the house, the less chance there is actually someone sitting on the porch.  Is having a nice porch worth it if you never have time to sit on it?

Two men sit drinking coffee in the morning sunlight on their porch smile at me and we exchange waves. There's a rich culture behind sitting on the porch, one that ambitious, busy people can learn from.

This afternoon, a young neighbor lady of mine invited me to come over. 
"What are you doing?" I asked. 
"Just sitting on the porch," she said.  
I went.  

So many favorite life moments occur on porches.  Take for example:

1. Music and Coffee
 2. Stretching

 3. Flowers
4. Ice Cream

5. Light

 6. The moon

7. Sleeping 

Good night!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

7 Best Texts of the Week July 27-August 2

In reviewing my phone, favorite texts from favorite people: 
1.) Sunday: "I call those moments hugs from God!"

2.)  Monday:  "So how many points is 3 ears of corn with probably 1 1/2 T of butter plus salt? :(" 

3.)  Tuesday:  "Were vs we're. Their vs there vs they're.  Never trust spell check."

4.)  Wednesday: "2:15 [am] tomorrow" (Question: "When do you get up?") 

5.) Thursday: 

6.)  Friday:  " You want a 4th?  We have a critter that I'm sure is part tiger and part dog but was born to a cat..."

7.) Saturday: "You into bumming around with [us] tonight?" 

P.S....Saying yes to the last turned out to be a disaster... but that's a story I won't be able to tell publicly for years to come!

Have a great new week! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We Think You Are Rich

"Miss Katrina, we think you are rich," the little girl said, following me into my tiled kitchen.  "Are you?"

"No," I said instinctively. 

But confusion fogged my mind as I walked back out to the art room with her, where she and her sisters were painting and coloring on the floor.
The carpet was spread with pages of my old Wall Street Journals to catch stray globs. 
They asked me how I had a whole house to myself.
I made a reply about my church owning it first, which sort of meant nothing.

How easy it is to forget that rich is a subjective term! 

When I'm at the hospital, and I tell people I live on Brady Street, I don't feel rich.
When I'm on Brady Street, and tell people I work at the hospital, I do feel rich. 

Rich is a conundrum, like safe or cold or big.  
You can only make sense of these adjectives if there is an accepted standard of normal.
So who decides what is normal?
Brady Street?
Beverly Hills?
In my world, the accepted standard of normal changes with a 1/2 mile drive to work, or a 1/2 hour drive to church.
Then I come home, and I'm rich again. 

Which world is right? 
Who wrote these rules?  

And then I remember the words I read this morning. 

"Whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

That's what it means to be rich: to understand this impossible truth. 
You are rich if you tell God you will trust him when your life makes no sense.
You are rich if you do something you know is right, when you long to do something easier.
You are rich if you can sit on your porch in a torn chair and look up at the moon and be at peace.
You are rich if your heart spills over with joy that doesn't evaporate.
You are rich if you know you are right where God wants you to be.
You are rich if you have the strength to keep praying when you know God hasn't answered you yet.
You are rich when you realize that every possession, talent, or hour in your life is owned by God and could be reclaimed at any moment. 
You are rich if God gives you chances to share those hours, possessions, and talents.

This is the only rule that matters.
Those who can learn it can live it, I think, in any world.

"Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" Romans 11:33

God, flood us!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ever Just the Same...Ever a Surprise!

"Ever just the same!
Ever a surprise!
Ever as before!
Ever just as sure as the sun will rise!

Tale as old as Time.....
Tune as old as song....
Bittersweet and strange!
Finding you can change!
Learning you were wrong!

It's just an old love song, from Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  Why are love songs so popular?  I don't think they would be popular in a world where people actually experienced love constantly and completely.  Generally, I think people enjoy love songs because that is what they long for, rather than because that is what they experience.

As I fell in love with this song, I began to realize that there is only one relationship that meets the expectations of these lyrics: our relationship with God. 

Ever just the same!
Did you see notice that the sun rose again this morning?

Ever a surprise!  
Did you really look at the sunrise? I promise you the morning sun I saw on the St. Joseph's River has never been before, and never will be again!

Ever as before! Ever just as sure as the sun will rise!
In this wildly unstable world of economies and insurance and disappearing jets, we crave something...Someone....who will not change!

Tale as old as time...Tune as old as song!
He is not just as old as but older than both time and song!

Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong! 
And as we reach out and just touch the hem of his garment....just take one step toward him and toward a relationship with him...we find we can change....we learn we were wrong...we learn it was Satan that told us we were hopeless, and God--who is ever just the same--who tells us we can change.

To have a relationship with Someone who is always the same, yet always a surprise! Always consistent and stable, but always interesting and creative!

As we walk with him...we become like him!
More and more our lives become orderly and consistent (ever just the same!).
We become more interesting (ever a surprise!).
We laugh more, we love more!  We inspire the people around us (finding we can change!) learn
that when Satan told them that they could never change, He was wrong (learning we were wrong!).

All because we know the one who is....ever just the same....ever a surprise!

The human race has such a gift for doing things backwards. We think, Oh, our relationship with God should be like a good marriage, rather than thinking, Wouldn't it be awesome to have a human relationship that is similar to the relationship I have with God!

Is there any reason why this should not be possible?  Is there any rule that says that our relationship with God can't be the most motivating force in our lives, stronger than any other affection, interest, or love? Who made the rule that faith in a Person you cannot see is not enough to sustain us?

Just because it is the exception to the rule does not mean it is impossible... Just because people live for things and relationships that are less than God does not mean that it is out of the questions for God to be the most exciting reality in your life.  This kind of living is not well represented in our world today.

But I refuse to believe it is impossible.