Monday, January 30, 2012

I Can See!... Kind Of

Ever since 3rd grade, I've been burdened with bad eye sight. But never again will I have to deal with contacts of glasses (well, at least not until I'm old and need bifocals); because last Wednesday I had laser vision correction surgery! I originally thought I would have LASIK like most people, but due to the shape of my eye, my doctor recommended that I have PRK laser correction surgery. I'd never heard of this surgery, but apparently 20% of "LASIK" patients actually get PRK.

The main difference in PRK surgery is a longer healing process. Instead of cutting a flap on the surface of your eye, the surgeon chemically removes the top layer of cells on your cornea and then uses the laser to reshape your eye. So instead of simply replacing the flat over your cornea, your eye has to regrow those cells over several weeks (TMI??) causing blurry, ever-changing vision. The actual surgery took less than 10 mintues and I was awake the whole time. I was given a Valium pill to "help me relax" - which I think only made me crack dumb jokes with the nurse about how it felt like she was waxing my eyebrowns as she taped my eyes open.

You hear stories from lasik patients about how they went under the laser, opened their eyes and could miraculously see perfectly! It was quite disappointing for me to go under the laser, then open my eyes only to see a whole bunch of blur. "Um, excuse me... could you just hand me that laser real quick? I think I just need a few more zaps to clear things up." I knew this was normal and expected, but it was still a bit of a letdown.

They gave me some super cool sunglasses/goggles that strap around my head, a whole bag of eye drops and sent me blindly on my way. My sweet mom, who flew all the way up to Portland to take care of me (more on that later!), drove me home, put me in a dark room with my goggles, and continued to wait on me hand and foot for the next several days. (This may be hard to believe, but manicures and foot massages highly increase the comfort of an eye surgery patient!)

So what do you do when you're practically blind, can't drive yourself anywhere, can't read or watch movies, are sensative to light, and have a mother who won't let you look at a computer? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And for me, that is torture. But I've tried to enjoy some down time and let people take care of me. I can't wait to actually be able to see clearly again and I know that these few days/weeks of blurriness will be worth it in the long run.

So if you see me in the next week of so and I don't wave and say hello, or if I stare directly at you and don't recognize you or realize that I'm making direct eye contact with you, just have a little compassion on the little blind girl... and maybe drop a quarter in my coffee cup.

I was looking through the comic strips in the paper yesterday (with the paper about an inch from my face and my eyes squinted) and this is the first one I read. I laughed out loud, showed it to West and Megan and said, "This is me!!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Understanding God's Will

What do you do when you think you are aligned with "God's will for your life", but then realize that you might in fact be completely off? Maybe you've determined which path you should take based on your own feelings or what the people and culture around you tell you is the right way. And you just assume that that's the right path because it's the norm. It's the path that most people seem to take. It seems to be a reasonable and safe path. It's simply the path you feel you should take. Yes, it's the path that God is trying to lead you down... right?!

"God's will for my life"... I put that phrase in quotes because it's a phrase that is thrown out nonchalantly in the Christian culture, and I just don't think it's that black and white. I don't think that God has a set "will" or "path" for my life that I am supposed to robotically walk down as if it is the Yellow Brick Road leading to Paradise. But I do know that God loves me and cares about me and wants me to make "good" decisions as to how I live my life and what path I walk down.

Recently as I've been praying, I have started questioning my perspective of "God's will for my life." I talk to him about what I want/don't want, how I should feel/how I don't want to feel, what actions I should take/what I should steer clear of. And I ask for his help; for him to show me the right path. And he doesn't. Things remain unclear. I still don't know what path to take. So I just stand there. And I turn cold and irritated and lazy.

And then I realize that my expectations are way out of whack: I talk to God about my predicaments and he waves a wand to heal them. I don't think this is exactly how the whole "personal relationship" with God works. So I've come up with two different perspectives on taking steps towards the "right" path; two possible answers to my question of "God, why aren't you doing anything?!?"...

1) Help yourself. I don't mean abandon God because he's too busy to help or he simply doesn't care. I mean don't underestimate your role in your current predicament. You play a part in the solution, too. Sometimes you have to take the first steps of changing your attitude, or letting go of your selfish desires or maybe inching your way out on a limb.

2) Maybe you're stuck in your current "predicament" because that's where you're supposed to be right now. I sometimes pray for God to take away certain thoughts or feelings in me. And despite me trying to escape, sometimes they linger. Maybe I just need to have a new perspective - instead of focusing on what I want, maybe I need to be more attuned to what God has in store for me.

So instead of praying with tunnel vision, I will try to pray with a new perspective. And instead of tip-toeing down my own narrow path, I will look for the path that allows me to run with a freedom that I didn't even know existed.

Kyle Lake
These thoughts were prompted by a book I'm currently reading titled Understanding God's Will by Kyle Lake. Kyle was an amazing man who started and pastored University Baptist Church in Waco. He was a friend of my family and an amazing influence on many young people in the Waco community. Kyle passed away at the way-too-young age of 33 years old. Kyle was a deep thinker and took life seriously, yet fully "lived it up" and challenged those around him to do the same. I love the benediction he gave every Sunday and I think of it often: "Love God, embrace beauty, and live life to the fullest."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Come Thou Fount

For some reason, each new year seems to bring with it anxiety. At midnight we throw confetti, blow horns, give kisses/hugs/high fives, and toast champagne. And then the next morning, I roll out of bed feeling pretty drowsy and am slapped in the face with a new year.

For a moment, I feel like I've been punched in the stomach. The wind has been knocked out of me and I need to quickly pull it together. I hyperventilate for a few minutes as I try to figure out a plan for the coming year of my life: my living situation, my career, my priorities, and how to improve in all aspects of my life.

I finally give myself a pinch and realize that although it is a new year, January 1st is just another day. So I push all of the chaotic planning aside and thank God for this one day. I thank him that I'm alive and breathing (even if my breaths are fast and labored), I thank him for my job (even if it is hard starting back to work after vacation), I thank him for amazing family and friends (even if many of them are far away), and I thank him that I don't have to be in complete control (because everything doesn't revolve around me - thank goodness!). And just thinking about all of this last night led me to be extra thankful for a God who is always there as my most trustworthy and dependable friend, and puts up with all of my self-pity and complaining (New Year's Resolution: less self-pity and complaining?).

So this year I resolve to let go of my urge to constantly plan my life and simply give thanks for each day. (See this quote from Cry, The Beloved Country.)

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
This hymn is a favorite of mine that proclaims that God is the giver of all good things and implores us to willfully give our heart to him.

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for they courts above."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas in Texas

This year I was able to be in Texas for a full 8 days for Christmas break. I haven't visited Texas since last May, over 7 months ago - the longest I've ever been away! I flew into Dallas after midnight on the 20th (or the 21st, rather), got a short night's sleep at Emily's house, and woke up early to me nieces playing downstairs. I loved just hanging out with the girls: playing ConnectFour and Jenga, reading books, painting our nails, swinging outside. We met up with all of the Coleman Clan (minus Robert, but including Ollie and Uncle Bob) for lunch, then Mom, Dad and I headed south on I-35 to good ol' Waco.

My aunt and uncle from Uganda have been in America from nearly 2 months and are staying at my parent's house (as well as cousin Stephen who is in med school in Lubbock). I loved spending lots of time with them at the house: playing Scrabble, watching movies, cooking yummy food. I also loved having dinner with Andrew and Stephen and plotting our 20-year time capsule excavation (although we didn't actually carry it out this year... mainly because metal detectors are hard to get your hands on). I was also able to see David, Mary Kay and their girls from Alabama who I haven't seen since last Christmas.

Other highlights of my Texas holiday: finally meeting 3 month old baby Henry!!! and getting to rock him to sleep one night, spending time at the Olson's house, running in Cameron Park with Hannah, building a gingerbread train with Carter, the 7th and James Christmas Eve service full of incredible music, the DaySpring Christmas morning church service, spending time with the whole Carter family the day after Christmas, Ninfaritas, dinner with friends at Sam's, running in Castle Heights.

Amazingly, I was able to get together with both my high school and college group of friends! Anne, Sydney, Patty and I met for coffee and Barnes & Noble, our old hangout (yes, we were a little dorky). We make this a priority ever Christmas when we are all back in Waco. And Hannah, Kate, Whitney, Merrill and I all met up in Austin one night for dinner and a slumber party - just like the good ol' days at Baylor. I was so grateful for that time together with them since we all currently live in Portland, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Waco and Austin. We truly picked up right where we left off which made me realize how blessed I was and am to have such amazing friends.

When I left Texas last week, I wasn't able to give an answer to the question, "When will you be back to visit again?" All the weddings are behind us, there are no births or big family gatherings coming up anytime soon... I honestly don't know when I will be able to travel back to Texas. But I hope it's not another 7 months away!

lunch in Dallas with the Colemans
playing with sweet little Henry
loved catching up with cousin Laura
the sisters and kids

the whole fam (minus Brett and Taylor)

Being Home
"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
- Maya Angelou

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you."
- Christian Morgenstern