Saturday, January 17, 2015

Announcement....

I am finally updating my blog site!

Hence, my Saturday night post looks like it will appear on about Tuesday night instead.

But to make up for it, there will be a give away with the new blog post!

Stay tuned! 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stupid days, and rich people

"That was stupid!" one of my co-workers said as she sailed into our locker room at work at 6pm, to change back into civilian clothes.

Before she said what was stupid,  I was in full agreement.  I couldn't remember ever feeling worse about two days of work, although my memory was probably shortened by exasperation. 

"This whole day!" she exclaimed, yanking open open her locker door much as I had just done.  "I can't think of any word for it besides stupid!"

Like I said, I completely agreed.

But, I thought back a few days to another moment when I wasn't exactly thanking God either.  On that day, I rushed down the arctic tunnel from the parking garage to the hospital, five minutes late (at least) to my mandatory employee health appointment, which by some twist of misfortune, landed on my day off.  I was not in the mood to be at the hospital, and I was not in the mood to freeze.

But as I dashed down the hall to Elevator C, mind in a frenzy, I smelled the brewing coffee.

I gently pressed the UP elevator button, my mind as quiet as the carpet. 

Yes, the world is crammed full of bad schedules, injustices, unfair reprimands, dishonesty, spite, pain, jealousy, frustration, and misunderstandings....but yet....but yet!.... what a wonderful world we live in, where so many things are still right!

It's zero degrees outside, and bitterly cold, but the building is still warm.
It's zero degrees outside, and bitterly cold, but the kitchen staff made it to work.
There's fresh coffee brewing.

Coffee is not a necessity, despite what most of us think.  Coffee is a social pleasure, a thing that people drink mostly because it makes them happy, or it keeps them from falling asleep. Not a necessity.  If coffee suddenly disappeared off the market, we would treat it like a national catastrophe.  But that doesn't make it a necessity, it just means we're rich.   

Yet, like many other comforts in life, we usually consider it a right, not a gift.  We expect to be able to buy our way through life.  We think we deserve the dollars in our pockets, the mugs in our hands, the ready availability of warm beds and slippers and vehicles with heaters.

Does this mean that people without dollars and warm drinks, slippers and warm beds, are somehow a lesser species than us, and don't deserve those things?  (We humans are so laughable, are we not?  If we all got what we deserved, woe to us all!) 

It's so easy to forget to give thanks on the stupid days.  In your mercy, God, remind us of our countless, undeserved blessings! 




***For those following my weight-loss/build a school fundraiser, here are the results from my first two weeks:

December 27th-January 3rd: 6.2 pounds (I did not cheat, although I will confess to eating a lot the day before my first weigh-in.)
January 4th-January 10th: 1.4 pounds

So far so good!  If you gave a pledge for the fundraiser, relax; I'm pretty sure I won't lose 7.6 pounds every two weeks until Easter.  If you didn't give a pledge yet, but are thinking about it, you are not allowed to let this update affect your donation!  No seriously, I am very grateful for every pledge.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Men like you can never change, a man such as you..."

I love the story of Les Miserables.  

Just a few minutes ago,  I was lying on my friends' couch (my typical Saturday night state--thank God for hospitable friends!).  We discussed change, and how hard it is to have faith that it will come, either in ourselves or in others.  

Now, I'm at my wooden kitchen table, head resting on the chair back (poor posture alert).  I just heard this song playing from the speakers in my bathroom.

Javert, the chief of police, sings those words to Jean Valjean, the ex-convict hero of Les Miserables.  

The policeman goes on: "You know nothing of Javert. I was born inside a jail.  I was born with scum like you. I am from the gutter, too."

It's a heartbreak, because so often, it's true.  People don't change much.  Sometimes people make miraculous life changes, but it's so unusual, we treasure their stories like rare metal.

The Bible also agrees with Javert's "scum" comment.  We are all from the gutter.  We were all born in jail.

But what Javert ignores is that God had given Jean Valjean the key from the jail, when he was forgiven by the kind bishop who could have had him arrested for theft. 

Jean Valjean couldn't change, but God changed him. 

It takes only a moment for God to forever change people.  Once witness to his power to change, we get excited. Like the bishop, we realize that nothing, no one, is beyond God's reach.  "Men like us" can change. 

Like the old bishop, we become the conduit of God's presence.... to the next person that no one believed would ever change.  






Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Straight, Daddy?"





I was walking and talking with God by the river tonight, watching and listening to the Canadian geese, thinking all over again about how they can lift off out of the St. Joseph's River and fly confidently to a place in the South where they've possibly never been before.

I leaned against the side of the wooden bridge, overcome by God's presence, by his reassurance that he is that, and so much more, to us.  We will know.  We will lift off in faith, unafraid when he calls, whether to heaven (that thing we call death) or just to step back out into the hallway at work, and face something we are sure we cannot face.

As I hurried to get home before it was too much darker, a little boy ran past me.  I had heard him earlier, calling to his family.  He got to the end of our bridge, where the path divides, and stopped, and hollered, "Straight, Daddy?"

I didn't hear his father's answer, but the boy stopped and waited.  God is like that too.  He knows the best way home.  He have only to ask, and wait for his instructions. 

He will always, always answer.

We are safer than the Canadian goose in the sky, safer than the boy in his father's arms.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Oh, Bring Us Some Pig Stomach....

Thank you for your interest in my weight-loss/school building fundraiser.  I had my official weigh-in this morning, following last night's burger and fries at Red Robin with friends, and coffee and warm donuts at Krispy Kreme.  Day One went well (no Red Robin or Krispy Kreme); only 97 more days to go!  In future weeks, I may post my weight loss at the end of my blog to keep you up-to-date.  (Yes, I had a cardiologist ask me point blank, as he evaluated my fundraiser letter, "So, what do you weigh?" No, I didn't answer and don't intend to post that.)

Although talking about food may not be in my best interest, there is someone (besides Red Robin and Krispy Kreme) that I need to blame for my high weight this morning.

On Christmas Eve, my neighbor Mary called me over to her house for some food.  Before I could leave, my neighbor Blanca rang my door bell and handed in a foil-wrapped cheesecake, still warm from baking. I ate too much of it, then re-wrapped it and took it with me to Mary's to share. 

Mary's kitchen was in a flurry, for an "I'm not going to cook this year" situation. In the oven, steaks and a ham were curing for the next day.  Miscellaneous pots and pies crowded the stovetop.

Mary piled my plate with cheese-sprinkled cornbread and greens.  She also ladled on several sections of pig stomach, otherwise known as maw (according to Mary) or tripe (according to Dr. Dickson, when I asked him if he'd ever had any).  

I haven't studied stomach in an anatomy book lately, but I still recognized the folded, fluted stomach formation.  I also took note of the inner and outer lining of the stomach and the fleshy portion in between.   

I sprinkled hot sauce on it, as I was told.  It was mild, with an almost too-soft texture, but truly good, especially with the hot sauce.

"You can get it at Martins or Kroger, or Meijer," Mary insisted.  "It's expensive!  At Thanksgiving they were all sold out, every store."

I forked up pig stomach while Mary gave me the stuffing versus dressing lecture.  

"They are not the same thing," she said.  "You put stuff in stuffing...some people put pecans, raisins, onions." 

Dressing on the other hand, is largely bread based, she explained.  

The next day as we played Monopoly following her meal of ham, steak, butter beans, sweet potatoes, STUFFING, cornbread, greens and homemade cranberry sauce, Mary brought out desserts and coffee, and monitored our conformity to the rules of Monopoly. 

First, pieces of apple pie appeared. Next, wedges of strawberry pie with a strawberry glaze. 

"Carlos, did you want a piece of cake, you say?"

"Yeah, I wanted a piece of cake."  

When we were thoroughly stuffed, Mary said, "Does anyone want some banana pudding?"  

How were we to know the best had been sequestered until the end? We spooned up bites of pudding and crumbs in between Mary's critiquing of our rolling of the dice. 

"Well if it ain't in the rule book now, it was then," Mary sniffed at our modern indifference to a rule she remembered.

I'm glad I missed the chitlins, pig intestines that have been cleaned of poop, and boiled. 

"If you can smell them, DON'T EAT THEM!" Mary told me.  "If you walk into someone's house and smell them, even if it's my house, don't eat them, they're not clean!"

Thankfully, Mary is also a big support when I talk about needing to lose weight. 

And I don't think there are a lot of calories in pig stomach.   Although it seems a bit much to have my stomach digesting the stomach of something else.

Merry Christmas friends! 

"Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 
til he appeared and the soul felt its worth..."
Placide Cappeau

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Losing Weight to Build a School....Oh Great.

"I wonder if there's anyone else who ever did something this idiotic?" I asked my aunt, from my position on her carpet, as I stuffed letters into envelopes. 

It all started with the calls and letters from Wisconsin, my family and friends somewhat urgently trying to raise $330,000 for a new school building.

This is the school where I started my teaching career with a six year stint, and where before that, I attended as a student.

I don't really have a lot of spare money.  So what can I do to help, I mused to myself.  What do I have that I don't need?

Ha!  Pounds!  Easy answer.  Hence, the letter as follows.



“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short;
but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” --Michelangelo

At the risk of great personal peril and painful transparency, I am inviting you to help me as I lose weight in an effort to build a school.

 In my first life as a teacher, I taught at a small Mennonite school in Stratford, Wisconsin.  My younger brother, a champion of solid, creative education from first grade to high school, is now the principal of the school.  The students come from large, hard-working families, many with parents who only went to eighth grade.  In the last few years, the enrollment has mushroomed, requiring a larger school, soon.  Raising the $330,000 by the fall of 2016 is a monumental task for only 20 families.   They are hoping to have a lot of it raised by May of 2015.

In my second life as a nurse, I find myself surrounded by surgeons and cardiologists who frequently bemoan America's obesity.  I have been at least somewhat overweight most of my life, so I have sympathy for our overweight patients.  However I also deeply admire the Dr. Hallorans and Dr. Mehtas of the world, even as I suspect that they have no idea how hard it is to lose weight.   


The collision of these two situations leads me to challenge myself to help build the new school by inviting people to contribute per pound of weight I lose from Christmas to Easter.  If I don’t lose much, your donation will be small; if I lose a lot your donation will be larger!  If you can take this risk, please complete the form below and give it to me. I will return it to you after Easter, with your total donation calculated.    (For your own records:  I am pledging $_____ per pound.)

Thank you!


 Katrina Hoover
 ***************************************************************

        $0.50 per pound  (paint brush?)                      
        $1 per pound        (gallon of paint?)                
        $2 per pound        (chair?)                                             
        $10 per pound      (window?)                                           
        $25 per pound      (bathroom fixtures?)                               
        $40 per pound      (carpet for a room?)             
                   _____ per pound


Would you like a receipt for tax purposes?  Yes____ No____
Make checks payable at that time to Bethany Christian School.

                 _______ (your donation per pound) x ______ (total pounds I lose)=
__________ (total donation to BCS)
 



Back to me on my aunt's carpet.

"Well, it's interesting," she replied to my question.  She insists it's a good idea.

I can't argue with the fact that it's interesting.  And certainly, the next few months will be as well.

"What if I just lose my mind?" I asked.

"Just hope it weighs a lot," my cousin replied.

Thanks, Jordan.  You're a great support.  

Note: If you would like to contribute to the fundraiser, and crank up the pressure on my weight loss, please comment, or email me at khoover500@gmail.com. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Stomach: Need or Want?

The next time I say, "I need central air" or "I need a new computer", I hope I remember the shuttle driver.  

I was bouncing along in the mechanic shop shuttle, which was giving me a free ride to a place of business while the mechanics nosed out a manufacturer's error in my Fiesta.  Rain splattered the windshield of the  courtesy shuttle, and the shuttle driver with the red fleece vest activated the windshield wipers as we turned north on Ironwood.  

"I suppose you'd rather have the conventional stomach, but it's not too bad," he said.

Other than a foggy memory from nursing school, I had kind of forgotten that stomachs are disposable.  

Turns out, they are.  You can't live without your heart or brain, but you can dispense with your stomach.  You need at least one lung and at least one kidney, but if push comes to shove, you don't need a stomach.  

The guy in the driver's seat of my shuttle had lost his in the process of a battle with stomach cancer. 

Being grateful when our blessings evaporate is a challenge.  Being positive about pain is hard.  Being okay with the loss of what we thought we needed....so difficult!  But we never know whose life we might touch. 

I'm pretty sure if someone told the shuttle driver, "I think you blessed that Mennonite girl the other day," he would say, "Don't be ridiculous, I'm sure not."

But he would be wrong.