happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Monday, October 31, 2011

lessons...whether i want them, or not.

this has been a particularly spiritual week, and not because of anything i've sought out or done. maybe that's not true. maybe it is because of things i've done- or maybe even because of some things left undone. i don't know. what i  do know is that god is talking to me. it feels like he is finally rewarding me for those things that i'm practicing, despite not having them come naturally. patience, for instance... and as we examined in an earlier post, balance. i am also really good at picking a goal and pursuing it to the fullest- but less good at waiting to find out god's agenda and pursuing that, instead. the past few weeks, i've been trying to be really good about listening and figuring out which is which. i don't have all the answers, yet (and only god knows how much that drives the control freak in me crazy!) but they are coming to me, slowly but surely.

i remember years ago being frustrated that god never "spoke" to me. i would pray for clarity and guidance ("demand" is probably more accurate than "pray"), and ask him to show me what he wanted me to do, and what direction he wanted me to move. i couldn't understand why, when i was so willing, he wouldn't give me some great epiphany and use me in a big and wondrous way. i couldn't understand why, when all i wanted was to hear his voice, he wouldn't talk to me. one day i was literally having a conversation with him on my way to work (fine- i'll admit it. i was talking AT him). i remember it so well. i was walking from the parking lot into the hospital and i was running a few minutes late. i was in the midst of saying to god that all i needed was to hear him. i needed to know his will for my life. i wanted him to trust me enough to share with me his plan. i was good and buried in the "me me me" topic when i looked down and noticed a pile of trash that somone had dumped out of their car and left by the entrance to the ER. i heard a little voice in my head say that i should stop and pick that up, but as i said, i was running late. someone else would get it. wasn't that housekeeping's job? besides, it looked nasty. i rushed past and didn't look back, as i continued to tell god that i was upset that he never spoke to me, nor gave me direction. that little voice actually cut me off. it interrupted me and said "you need to go back and pick that up." period. and a realization hit me like a bolt of lightening. i was hearing god, and i was ignoring him. who did i think that little voice was? who did i think wanted me to get over myself and start thinking about others? who did i think cared enough to speak up and tell me to do the right thing, even with no one looking? i realized that god talked to me all day, every day, guiding me in what i should say, and how i should act, and more often than not i ignored him. i chalked it up to "the little voice" and not the enormous god. i also realized that he was giving me a real message, and it was this. "if you don't trust me enough to obey me in the little things, why should i trust you with the big ones?" i knew right then and there, without a shadow of a doubt, that i had to prove to god that i would listen to him and obey him, and in time he would learn to trust me enough to give me bigger and bigger tasks until he felt sure he could trust me with something as important as his will in my life. that day, i started obeying the voice- even when i really, really, reaaaaaaaally didn't want to. i picked up trash, i helped people carry things out to their car at the grocery store. i let another car in front of me in traffic, even when i was running late. that was the key- to do it even when it hurt. maybe those were the ones that counted extra! the ones that cost me a little. sure enough, after proving to god that i would listen to the small stuff, he started pointing out bigger things...and even bigger things... until he finally whispered in my ear that i was created for full time mission work.

in my desire to "walk by faith and not by sight", i have been preparing to go even though i have no destination or timeline. the hardest part has been the lack of destination. i want so badly to be able to picture myself there, and pray specifically about where i am going and what i will be doing. maybe because of that, i inserted myself in africa in all my imaginings. i was convinced that god was calling me to africa. i love the continent and the people, and the very second i leave her, i find myself longing to be back. i can't deny that africa has played a huge role in my spiritual formation, and in forming me into a humanitarian and a missionary- but that doesn't mean that africa is where god is calling me to live out my life serving him. don't get me wrong- it might be. i have just come to realize that africa is likely my agenda, but i'm not sure it's gods...and perhaps the reason that there has been a delay in getting there is because god is waiting for me to stop chasing my tail and listen to where "there" really is.

a few weeks ago i made a real effort to try to turn over all my control back to god, and stop trying to make things happen on my own. that's when he started talking to me - loudly, and not in a whisper. he was waiting for me to shut up and stop telling him what i wanted. turns out, he knows what i want more than i do. SO- fun things have been shaping up. i have started an amazing conversation with a missionary from nepal who is the medical director of a hospital in a village in the far west, near the borders of india and tibet.

i will take a "vision trip" there in the spring of 2012, if all goes well! during one of our talks, he let me know that now there is a plan to launch a community health evangelism program in this village, and that is something that is truly close to my heart. it means becoming a member of the community and focusing on wellness, and not just illness. he believes that there is a place for me on their team, and is excited about moving forward to explore this partnership. now i have something specific to pray about! on the same note, the doors to zimbabwe (which was where i "wanted" to go when i first looked into this organization) and chad that seemed to have been openening have, for the time being, remained shut. maybe this is god's voice, too.

prayers that i can discern between His voice and my own. he makes a much better god than i do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

i am warrior- hear me ROAR!!

i saw an ad on facebook several months ago for the warrior dash and decided that was how i wanted to celebrate my new life, after more than 6 years of debilitating pain and a subsequent neck surgery to fix it. the end of october marked the date that i would officially be off of restriction following my spinal fusion, and i wanted to charge into the NEXT 6 years as a warrior. this pain has kept me down. way down. not only did i have pain, but also muscle wasting and weakness, pain in both shoulders, insomnia, and loss of motor function and sensation in both hands. needless to say, i didn't feel much like a warrior. well, my surgery has changed that! this seemed like the perfect way to prove what i can do with no limitations. besides, it looked really fun, and i'm never one to pass up fun!

i didn't want to do this all by myself, so i started recruiting friends. a couple were on board right away, and a few took a little more coaxing...but the clincher was when i mentioned that you get a fuzzy warrior helmet with horns, a medal, a tshirt, AND a beer for running it! we decided to look into superhero costumes and i'll tell you what- THAT is when the girls really started to get excited. time after time, i saw them walk into that costume shop luke warm about doing the dash, and unsure if they wanted to wear a costume, and then i saw them find the perfect one. after that, you couldn't have stopped them with a bulldozer! julie (wonder woman) wanted to wear hers home. who can blame her? she rocked it!

here's the team pre-battle (fatouma as the green lantern, cate was cat woman, paula was gladiatrix, julie was wonder woman, and yours truly was super girl):

we made a real girl's weekend out of this. we stayed at paula's aunt ronna's house in st. louis. there isn't a more amazing hostess in the entire world, and her house is more luxurious than any hotel we could have afforded. she even had a hot tub! (that came in really handy the night of the competition). she had enough food for an army, and enough bed space that none of us had to sleep on the couch. it was perfect. the next day we all headed out to old monroe, mo, for the moment of truth.

okay, i'll admit that on the website the obstacles look a little bit silly. kind of like a big joke. this is a 3.2 mile run with 12 obstacles thrown in. at the KC dash, you could only see the final 2 obstacles- the fire and the mud pit/barbed wire. no problem. if the other 10 were like those 2, we'd have this thing licked! well, guess what? they weren't. when we got there, on the horizon, we could see something. it looked like a giant net with tiny ants crawling up and over it. i heard myself say, "oh my @$), that is one of the obstacles." i kid you not, the blood drained out of every one of our faces when reality set in. it was a rope cargo net over 20 feet high, stretched over a frame, and the competitors had to climb up and over, and down the other side. no net. no pad. no mat. not even sand below. just 20 feet up and 20 feet down, with hard ground below. i was starting to have my doubts...have i mentioned my paralyzing fear of heights? this was gonna' build some character. 

(see that thing in the distance with ants crawling on it? those are people, and that was obstacle # 10!)

there was one saving grace- we were super heros. i mean literally. we were super heroes like the guy dressed up in a fat suit at the mall is santa. you might know, deep down, that he's just a guy...but in that moment, he's santa. well, that is what it was like for us. people were taking our pictures, and calling out our names. they asked if they could take pictures of their kids with us, and their kids were big-eyed and in awe. by the time we started the race, we had forgotten our fear. we were 10 feet tall and bullet proof. 500 of us lined up in the cattle corral, and the gun (and blow torches) sounded. we were off.

oh yike. i trained to be able to run a 5k. slowly, mind you, but i can still run one. well, that was on a flat surface. THIS was a hunting preserve in the woods of missouri, and there wasn't a flat inch in the whole 3 miles. it was hilly and rocky and uneven, and STEEP. that was underestimation #1.

underestimation #2 was the entire rest of the course! the good news is that some of the ones in the middle made the one we could see from the finish line easy to handle. the other good news is that we finished it- all of us!  we didn't finish it fast (except cate, who rocked it!!), but we finished it. paula took a big tumble off of one of the walls, but kept going like the gladiatrix she is. fatouma slid down that same wall hard- but kept going as well...and the 3 of us finished holding hands, and jumping that fire while yelling our warrior yell at the top of our lungs. we all hit the mud pit to chants of "wonder woman!" and "green lantern!", and "super girllllllllll!", etc... and crawled under the barbed wire and over the finish line as champions.

we could barely walk the next day, and by monday i couldn't get out of my office chair in less than 6 tries...and we had bruises on nearly every surface of our bodies...but each and every one of us committed then and there to warrior dash KC 2012.

i'll let pictures tell the rest of the story: 

capes and barbed wire...epic fail!

fatouma and paula tackle "the hangman"

dead man's drop- this one is harder than it looks....

...obviously! nothing injured but my pride, here

8 feet off the ground on 2x4s

who said cats don't like to swim??

i'm not scared of a little 40 degree mud!


...AND the after-party, complete with costume contest and dancing...

bring on warrior dash KC -       May 5th, 2010!             


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

dating...just got WORSE!?!

OH WOW! that's all i have to say. well, of course that's not all i have to say- but it's a start. tonight i was going to post about our awesome superhero team that emerged victorious from the st. louis "warrior dash" this weekend, but that's going to have to wait. don't worry. i will get to it soon...complete with photos. tonight, however, i want to revisit the dating scene.

i promised in an earlier blog post that i was over it. dating, that is. specifically online dating. truth is that i was almost over it. i have to admit that i continued to dabble just a little bit, convinced that there had to be some redeeming quality that i had missed. i started a conversation a few weeks ago with a guy that seemed pretty decent. he had a lot to learn about communication, namely listening , but he made up for it by being intelligent and interesting while he was droning on about himself and his life. he also had a super sexy voice, which didn't hurt (haha). i wasn't convinced that we would make a great match, but he was...and he started to convince me that maybe he was onto something. he is a major in the army, and currently stationed in alaska, but is scheduled to come back to kansas in a few weeks. during our nightly phone conversations, he would ask that i give him a chance. he told me how much he enjoyed my company and how excited he was to meet me face to face. he even offered to fly me to alaska so that i could make the drive back with him when he made the move. every time i would voice a concern about some of our differences, or our values, he would assure me that we were much more the same than different and that we would complement each other beautifully. he became more attentive, and started to ask questions and to listen. he started to work his way under my skin a little bit. i started to believe that he found me beautiful, funny, sexy, intelligent, interesting, sweet, good-hearted, etc... i even let myself begin to hope that maybe, just maybe, i'd finally get to a second date. i should have probably waited until i had the first one under my belt before i got that optimistic. anyway...

this weekend, as i said earlier, i was in st. louis competing in the warrior dash. he sent me a few texts, encouraging me and letting me know he was thinking about me. that was sweet, actually. after the "dash" i cleaned up and decided to pull out my phone and text him an update, letting him know i survived. before i did, i caught sight of an email with a subject line reading "the real heath h." any guesses who it was from?

his fiancee.

the best part was that it was addressed to me and 18 other women, all of whom were having some kind of relationship with him. according to his fiancee, the list wasn't comprehensive- she just stopped reading after the first 19 because she was afraid she'd vomit if she read more. that morning (while i was "dashing"), he was laying in bed with her planning their wedding. he left her house (where he LIVES) and left his email up on her computer. because of a prior online indescretion he'd had with another woman, she didn't fully trust him and she gave in to the urge to snoop his in/outbox. i don't condone that for one second, but thank god she did! she found that he had been emailing naked photos to women, and they had been reciprocating. he had been flying women to alaska to have sex with him when she was out of town for work. he told most of them (i guess i should use "us" since i am not excluded from the list of women dumb enough to get sucked in) that he loved them and couldn't wait to start a life with them. some, like one woman whom he had been involved with for 4 years, already thought they were sharing a life together. these are smart, accomplished, successful women, too. we are a nurse, a microbiologist, a cardiology fellow, and more... and we are all reduced to some guy's sick fantasy. it is truly humbling to realize that no matter how smart and independent you are, you can still be suckered- especially in matters of the heart.

today i went on the dating website where we met to see if he had removed his profile. it is still there, but the pictures are gone. now instead of being 6'3", he says he is 5'2". instead of blonde hair, suddenly it is black. no longer from kansas, his profile says he's from colorado springs. he removed "military" from the profession box, but that may be true once  his fiancee gets done with him. it seems he's still on the hunt. beware ladies! i will protect his privacy (though he certainly didn't protect any of ours) and will only use first names- but check with me before dating anyone named heath, and stay away from Sabot1 on plentyoffish.com. 

it's good that i love a great story, or this kind of thing could get me down...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

more to come!

part of this life journey is about testing my limits. this weekend i am driving to st. louis with a group of friends, and competing in the "warrior dash". if you haven't heard of it, check out http://www.warriordash.com/. it is like a cross between a 5K race, survivor, and fear factor. oh- did i mention we'll be dressed like super heros? wish this "super girl" luck- more to come!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

dating. i am so over it.


well, it's no secret that i had a bout of loneliness recently (check out "time to be authentic" in my blog archives). i have been so focused on preparing for mission work that i neglected my very basic need for male companionship. i decided to take matters into my own hands and get back into the dating scene. lawrence is a pretty small place- at least once you've lived here for 35ish years- so chances are if you're between the ages of 30 and 50, are male, and are single, i've already dated you... or there is a reason i haven't. haha. okay, okay- it's not that bad, but it is true that most of my friends have already tried to fix me up with the men they think would be a good match (and even some they didn't). that pool ran dry awhile back . with the "set up" possibility being slim to none, i turned to the old standby- online dating.

if you have done the online dating scene, you will understand my pain. if not, words will not do it justice. i have profiles on at least two dating sites, but they have been hidden for over a year. now i remember why. a couple of weeks ago, i went back to one of the sites and browsed my "matches". they use that term loosely. it seems that no matter how many criteria i enter, the matches are no better than my friends who only use the criteria "single" to set me up. as usual, that was true- but there was one that had a really nice profile. well thought-out, well written, witty, interesting. there were a couple of things that potentially ruled us out as each others' dream mate, but i thought i would at least honor his effort with a quick email letting him know that i liked his profile and that it didn't go unappreciated. his reply? "no blondes, please."


on to mr. perfect #2. i didn't even have to email that one to realize he was a jerk. he said so in his profile. well, what he actually said was "no short hair. no woman looks good in it. if you are more than 5'0" and 100 pounds and have short hair, you look like a middle aged man." i, of course, replied with a slightly sarcastic but oh-so-helpful dissertation on why that was ridiculous and shallow and how i can grow my hair, but he will always be a jackass. guess what? suddenly (after looking at the pictures automatically attached to my email) he decided that perhaps i was the exception, and that he liked my sass and my fire. i got the satisfaction of telling him that i wasn't kidding about the jackass thing. next!

third time is a charm. i emailed a guy who seemed attractive and interesting, with similar interests. he evidently thought the same about me, and we traded a half a dozen emails before deciding to meet for a cup of coffee. keep in mind that my profile mentions my faith and my mission work, and my dedication to trying to live out god's will in my life. his mentions what good character he has and how he prides himself on leading a good life, and how he is looking for a quality woman to share it with. the morning we were supposed to meet for coffee, i awoke to a definitely suggestive, completely inappropriate text message with a request for pictures showing more skin than even my doctor has seen. sigh....

being an optimist, i gave it one more try. this guy and i emailed once and moved on to phone conversations after that. i thought maybe i would have better luck getting a feel for who he really was if we talked instead of just emailed. problem is, WE never talked. he talked. we had 3 phone calls that lasted about an hour each. the first one, i talked for maybe 5 minutes, and most of that was talking over him since he never stopped. the second one, i didn't even get in a full 5 minutes. the third, i decided to force a little air-time, but all i got was an hour of him arguing with everything i said. here's the kicker- after that 3rd conversation he had decided that i was a fascinating woman (which may be true, but how could he tell??!?) and that he was in love with me. yes, you heard me. love. oh, and that he needed me. we didn't even meet. double yike.

maybe i'll get another dog...  ;0)