Thursday, June 30, 2005

On another note...

How am I ever going to get past this whole anemia thing if they keep drawing all of this blood?!?!

I had about 5 vials removed this morning. My thoughts: Well, I guess that means that the last 2 weeks of all that iron (nausea, overall not-feeling-wellness) were pointless...."

Restrain Your Dog! (Part 2)

I'm hoping this is the last time that I have to write about this situation, but who knows.

Last Friday, I came home to a note on my door that said this:

"Dear Amanda, I called Animal Control about the pit bull again for the third time! They said that they had sent out a letter and that if that doesn't work they will take more drastic measures. I also called codes again about the trash (my note here: the trash thing is a whole different story). --N @ 8***"

Since then, I haven't seen nor heard anything out of the pit bull. I had seen the little white "Wal-Mart dog" and the lab mix running around, but I assumed that they had taken care of the pit bull and restrained it properly.

When Rick and I got home from our weekend at the lake, I noticed that in my neighbor's back yard, they had installed a new "fence." In reality, all they did was pin up some chicken wire, but I was at least happy that the dog would not be able to jump over it (knocking it down or wiggling/digging under it easily was another factor that I assume they didn't consider). Again, no site of the pit bull running loose for a few days.

Tuesday evening, I was out back with my dog when the owner of the pit bull came up to me:

"Have you seen my pit or my Chihuahua?"

(That's a chihauha?!?) "No, the only one I've seen running around here lately is the lab."

"I put them in the fence last night and chained them up, but I woke up this morning and they're gone."

"I'm sorry. If I see them, I'll be sure to let you know."

So, I was on the look-out for a loose pit and a chihuahua. I assumed that they had either gotten out of the fence, or that Animal Control had picked them up.

The next morning, I was getting in my car to leave for work, when I saw the two neighbors on either side of me, P and F, head back to P's fence. Next thing I see is the pit bull is laying on the ground. I thought to myself, "That's a little strange. Maybe she saw it running around last night and fenced it in."

When I got home last night, my neighbor N, who had left the note on my door a few days earlier, came up to me and asked me if I had heard about the pit.

"No. I saw P and F messing with it this morning, but I just assumed that it finally came home."

"Oh, no. It was hit by a car. F helped P load it into her car and they rushed it to the vet this morning. The vet told P that we should have never dealt with Animal Control in this situation, that we should have called the police right away. P came home and left a note on the owner's door that they needed to figure out a way to take financial responsibilty for the vet bill."

As if on cue, P pulled into her driveway and came over to talk to us about the entire situation. She informed us that the little white dog had been killed, and that the pit had a leg that was pretty badly broken. She was afraid to mess with a pit bull that had been injured so badly, but she said at that point, she could tell that the pit was in so much pain that it just wanted help. She said the entire time, it never growled or uttered a sound at her when she picked it up or took it to the vet. She said, "I never thought I'd like a pit bull! I still don't trust it, but it really is a sweet dog!"

I absolutely hate it that the white dog died and that the pit bull was hurt. I don't like to see anything suffer and, to my knowledge, the dog has yet to hurt anything or anyone. But I seriously hope that the dog owners learned something here. I hope that they learned that it's never a good thing to let your pets run loose when I-40 runs through you back yard. (Literally, it does....I can watch and hear trucks and cars go by at all hours of the day/night). And it's even worse to let your dog run loose when it's a pit. I would never hurt it, but someone else might just because of it's breed. I just think that it's really sad that this lesson had to be learned at the expense of two innocent animals.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Funny

Because I love Napoleon Dynamite:

Deb
You are Deb and you could drink whole milk if you
wanted.


Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

How Do You Eat It?

I was people-watching today at Panera (I'm still feeling rather ill and the soup was the only thing that sounded good to me today, which is an improvement considering that in the last three days I've had nothing...well, except for a few tortilla chips and a beer yesterday at SATCO*), and I was wondering....what is the proper way to eat your soup bowl? Is there a proper way?

Some people I watched would only eat the soup and the "plug" that they pull out of the center to fill it with soup.

Others would dig out the inside with their spoon.

Some would try to eat the crusty outside, as well, but this is a rather messy option, even though this is the route that I take and I think it tastes better.

I mean, I'm not trying to be a Hilton or anything, but I like to have manners. Is it rude or disgusting to see someone trying to eat the outside of the bowl, too?



*It was not my choice to have the beer yesterday. We had a paper accepted into a big journal a couple of days ago (YAY!) and we went out to celebrate that and to toast to the main author. Before I new it, a beer was opened and passed down to me, so I felt like I had to drink it. I really didn't want it. Sore throat/upset stomach/exhaustion don't mix too well with alcohol. Not that I think I did anything wrong, I don't have any problems with Christians drinking alcohol in moderation, but I'm sure that a couple of you out there reading this are saying to yourselves, "Beer? I thought you were sick...."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

blah

I feel like crap.

Maybe I'll blog again in a few days.....

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Reality of Sin

In general, I think that Christians, especially Christians in the Bible Belt, live in a bubble. Sure, we may work with non-Christians or know a few people who do not have a relationship with Christ, but for the most part, we don't. We go to church with people like us, we do business with people like us, and we are friends with people like us. Mostly middle-to-upper class Christians.

"I'm Catholic, but sometimes I think there's nothing else. This is it."
We know people who struggle. We struggle. We all know in our heads that we commit sins on a daily basis, but we are immune to noticing when we do because we have become so numb to the fact that even "little" sins are sin.

"I waste office supplies because I hate my boss."
We read things in the newspaper or see on the news people who have hurt others. Moms and Dads who abuse or kill their children, random murders, muggings, movie/music stars who break the law on a regular basis. It numbs us. We become like the Pharisees when we think, "Thank God I don't have anyone in my family/friendship circle who does things like that."

"I wished on a dandelion for my husband to die."
Recently, it really hit me. There are people out there who hurt. Those people that I hear about on the news and on TV are real. They are real people with real problems.

"I tell people I don't believe in God, when really I just refuse to worship a God that would let my grandfather hurt me like he did."
But we don't do anything about it. Sure, sometimes we may go on a mission trip to help out some people who have less than us, but what about sin? How can we ever confront people in their sin, lonliness, and shame, if we feel numb about our own?

"I stole Christian music"
There is a blog called PostSecret. It is actually where I found all of these quotes. The guy who created it has people send him anonymous post cards with their "secrets" written on them. He scans them in and posts them on this blog. It is where I realized that there are people out there who hurt worse than I ever have or ever will. They will not talk about their pain and sin. Maybe it's because they don't have anyone to talk to. Maybe it's because they feel they will be condemned. I don't know. But I do know that these people are not much different than me. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That includes me. In the words of erinleonard, "I'm an ass, you're an ass....We're ALL a bunch of asses."

I wonder if any of those secrets that were sent in are from someone I know. Maybe not. But maybe, just maybe, I see someone every day who has a similar secret. Do I care enough about that person to become their friend? Do I really know the reality of my sin enough to go to that person in their pain? Christ knew. He knew it better than anyone. He took it all on himself and died for us. None of us deserved His sacrifice, but we do have to confront the reality of it. It can move you to action, or you can remain numb. What are you going to do about it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Restrain Your Dog!

Gotta admit, this is me venting today.

Our neighborhood is a very dog-friendly neighborhood. We have a dog. A little maltese that weighs about 7 pounds. I would venture to bet money that if you surveyed our street, 95% of the houses would have at minimum one dog. Some have many more.

We recently got new neighbors. They are a family of three (I think). I talked to the little girl once when I was outside working in my flower garden with my dog appropriately tied to the tree in my front yard.

These neighbors also have dogs. Three to be exact. A little mixed breed something (the little girl called it a "Wal-Mart dog" because I guess they bought it at Wal-Mart somewhere where they still sell pets), a lab/something mix (a very small lab), and *duhn duhn duuuuuuuhn* a pit bull.

Disclaimer: I am not opposed to people owning pit bulls. That's your perogative. I know that owning a pit bull comes with many problems, including not being able to secure house insurance or having extremely high home owner's insurance premiums. Some places in TN are moving closer and closer to outlawing the breed. But, still, if you want to take on all the problems that come along with owning a pit bull, then by all means, have at it. JUST DON'T SUBJECT ME TO IT!

Here's my problem: since this family moved in, this dog is loose every morning and every afternoon. Not in their backyard, but in mine. It chases other dogs when my neighbors are trying to walk them. I don't know if it runs loose during the day because I'm not at home. Rick and I have talked at length about whether the family lets it run loose, or if it gets out. The fence in their backyard is a little over knee-high for me, and wooden. Nothing my little maltese couldn't jump over. A pit bull could easily clear it.

My dog is afraid of this dog. It is the only dog that mine has ever been afraid of. Yesterday morning, I'm outside with my dog in my yard letting my little guy run around and lose some of the energy he stores up. Next thing I know, the pit bull comes around the corner with the two smaller dogs in tow. What does my dog do? Attempts to play with the two smaller dogs, who are having fun with him. I'm trying to coerce my dog inside. I guess the pit bull gets jealous and starts growling at my little guy. I quickly scoop him up and toss him inside.

There are so many issues I have with this. I feel, first of all, that the owners are completly irresponsible for having the dog to begin with especially when they have a small child! Not only this, but there are a lot of small children in my neighborhood. If you aren't going to be responsible with your own child, there is no way these people are going to take responsiblity for someone else's children. Not to mention all of the other dogs in our neighborhood. Then, they don't even come close to properly restraining him. They are inside watching tv or doing whatever they do, and their dog is loose terrorizing our neighborhood. Give me a break! I'm a prisoner inside my own house. I can't go outside without being on the lookout for this dog. My poor dog won't even go outside if he sees the pit in our yard, which means that he is miserable because he can't go to the bathroom.

*sigh* I've given them several weeks to get moved in and fix their fence so their dogs wouldn't get out (if that is, in fact how they're getting out). I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, they have made no moves toward properly restraining this dog. This morning was the last straw. I called Animal Control. Fortunately, they also give people the benefit of the doubt. Their protocol is to send out a letter to the family first. Then, if nothing is done, they will take more extreme measures. I really hope the letter from animal control fixes the problem. I'll give them a couple of weeks and see what happens. I'm so torn! I hate to take a little girl's pet away, but what are my other options? I know the drill. If I talk to them, I'll get a "ooh, but she's so sweet! She'd never hurt a fly!" Yeah. That's exactly what this grandmother* said.

*Note: A quote in that article states that pit bulls are no more aggressive than other breeds of dog. That's not neccessarily true, especially if you don't do research on the breeders of your pit. Check out this article: The Pit Pendulum, especially the section titled, "The Problem with Pits."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Writer's Block

I've been wanting to post something but I'm at a loss for words (yeah, take note, it doesn't happen very often). :oP I've been really busy at work and thinking about my graduate school project on top of everything else, so I'm a little distracted right now.

I haven't forgotten my blog, nor am I neglecting it.

I'll write again when I have something to say, hopefully by the end of this week.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Things You Don't Know About Me

I'm gonna lighten the mood a little since yesterday's post made me pretty emotional. So, here is a list of things that you probably didn't know about me (unless you know me really, really well).

1. I loathed biology in high school (funny how I turned into a biologist)
2. I'll try anything once (well, almost)
3. I've done a tandum (sp?) skydive at 13,000 ft.
4. I want to learn to solo sky dive
5. I have a half-brother who is more than 10 years older than me
6. I have two nieces and one nephew
7. I love flowers.....flower garden flowers. I want to have one of those spectacular flower gardens like you find in Home and Garden magazine.
8. I'm terrible at growing flowers.
9. When I graduated from college my plans were to become a pediatrician
10. I was a geek in middle school. Really, I was.
11. I got in trouble in 7th grade by my history teacher for reading Danielle Steele novels....and that wasn't during class time.
12. I am not a cat person...not by the farthest stretch of the imagination would I ever own a cat.
13. I'm afraid of slugs.
14. I have a scar on my neck from where I was a little girl and ran into an electrical barbed-wire fence. The barb caught me and the electricity wouldn't let me go. One cousin couldn't pull me off. The other, older cousin pulled me off, but not before the electricity really knocked him a good one, too.
15. My biggest pet peeve is restaurants that are not set up advantagously to non-smokers. A non-smoker should never have to walk through the smoking section to get to the bathroom or to get to the non-smoking section. It defeats the purpose of having a non-smoking section to begin with.
16. I eat peanut butter on a lot of stuff. I love PB on pancakes and waffles with hot syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar.
17. I can't watch the anti-fungal foot commercial with the little green cartoon-fungi that burrows under the cartoon toe nail. It makes me sick to my stomach.
18. I lived in the same house my entire childhood. My parents still live there.

I guess that's enough for now. Maybe I'll do this again later on.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Survivor's Guilt

When it comes to my entire transplant experience, this is probably the most difficult issue that I have had to face. It's more debilitating than any of the physical problems that I have encountered thus far, and I'm not sure that it is something that will ever completely go away.

Let me explain.

When I went in for my operation, I really didn't have much time to think about the deeper issues of what was going on in the world around me. I had prayed for my donor family, but I was on such an adrenaline rush that my mind was not allowing me to think very deeply about anything. I had fleeting thoughts about not making it through the surgery, my family and friends, and the months of healing that were to come, but I never concentrated on anything. In the next few weeks, I began to have a few deeper thoughts, but because there was so much commotion going on around me (visitors, doctors appointments, pain, sickness, and attempts at sleep) that, again, I didn't have much time to really think about anything. It wasn't until I started driving 4 weeks post-transplant that I really gained enough independance to have enough time to myself to really think about what had happened. Not just the events that happened to me, but the events that led up to what happened to me....mainly this: someone had to die.

And that was not the manifestation of my thoughts, either. It encompassed a much larger view than that of one person's death, as if that wasn't enough. I will never forget the day that it all hit home with me.

I have a friend whom I met online. Turns out his sister attends Otter Creek. I have gotten to know them, at least the brother, pretty well. I consider him a great spiritual mentor, even if it is mostly through the web. I do see him occasionally "in real life." I had come to work and was checking my e-mail and the Christian message board where my friend and I met. That's where I saw it. The prayer request. His brother had died that morning, waiting on a liver transplant. I had known for quite a while that he was waiting on a transplant and was very sick. He was actually on the transplant list for much longer than I was, and he was much, much more in need of a liver than me. It knocked me down. I left work 10 minutes after I got there, complaining to my boss that I just wasn't feeling well. I cried all the way home. I climbed into bed and cried myself to sleep.

I don't know that I can effectively explain the emotions and thoughts that were so strong in my mind at that point. I kept thinking over and over again, "If I could have turned this liver down and given it to someone else, I would have." I know that the liver that I accepted would not have worked for my friends' brother, but it his death was more symbolic than anything. It reminded me that there are people out there who could have used this liver more than me that will die because they didn't get it. I wouldn't have died if I didn't get a transplant that day. I probably would still be just fine today if I hadn't gotten a transplant one year ago, but I know that eventually, I could have been that very, very sick person waiting on a liver.

Welcome to survivors guilt. Not only did one person have to die for me, there are no telling how many more did just because they didn't get this exact liver.

Now, the rational person does come out in me and tell me things. Things like:

This was God's plan, you can't explain that.
You don't know that anyone died waiting on a liver with those specific qualifications.
God knows what He's doing.
He has plans for you.

And sometimes I hear those things. Today, I probably hear those things more than I hear the negatives, but those negatives still ring loud and clear. My rational mind also screams out at me that something like 8,000 people die a day waiting on an organ transplant. I often wonder about how many of those people that the liver that I received could have gone to. Odds are it would have fit at least one of them.

I still really struggle with the guilt. Not as much as I did 6 months ago, but it still festers inside of me at times, and I know it bubbles out into my relationships with friends and especially with my husband. I get cranky, irritable, angry, and just plain ol' sad. I just want to sleep it off, but I know that isn't the answer. Sometimes I wish I could just stare God in the face and scream at Him until I get some answers, but the answers are very slow to come. I still have faith that eventually I will get some of the answers while I'm still on earth. The rest of them will have to wait until I'm home, when I can have a sit-down with the Big Guy and have Him lay it all out for me. Until then, I press on. I do my best to take care of myself and the gift that He has given me. I guess that's really all I can do.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bummer

I'm bummed.

I just got a call from Dr. Raiford's nurse about my blood work results. The good news is that they are going to lower my Prograf dose to 7 mgs twice a day instead of 8 mgs twice a day.

The bad news is that they've decided that I'm still anemic and I have to go back on the iron. I would rather take a million pills of anything else than one pill of iron. Iron makes me so sick. When I was taking it at the beginning of my transplant, I ate nothing. I would eat a cracker and throw it up. It made me miserable.

I'm getting blood work done in two weeks. Talk about set-backs. Just when I was getting used to being poked at 6-week intervals, I'm back to 2.

I guess the only other good news in this is that the anemia explains my lack of energy. She said they've known for quite a while that I'm still anemic, but are just now deciding to do something about it. I don't get it. Seems to me like they would have tried to fix this little problem a long time ago...it would have saved me a lot of tiring days and fatigue.

They expect me to be on the iron for at least 2 months. So, if crankiness and my bad moods come through my posts in the next two months, you have my advanced apology. If it gets too bad, I'll probably just refrain from posting for a while.

Please keep me and my husband in your prayers. I know this isn't going to be easy on him, either.

GoodSoil Ministries

I just wanted to plug a new blog by my friends over at GoodSoil Ministries. They are a mission to the Appalachian region of Tennessee, particularly the Jellico area. I've travelled up there a few times, and they are doing amazing work.

Please visit their blog and try to plug into this ministry, even if it's only by offering up your prayers for the missionaries and the people they are ministering to. It's so worth it!

www.gsmi.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

One Year Anniversary!

Ok, almost....but I did have my one year post-transplant check-up yesterday. It was a pretty exciting day. He ok'd me to move into the "4 month plan" which means that now I will see him every 4 months instead of every 3.

They did have to run some extra tests this time to check on kidney function and other things. Prograf (immunosuppressant-the only drug I'm on right now) will cause kidney failure, and I am on extremely high doses for someone that's a year out. I'm still taking 8 mgs twice a day. I've met people that are only a couple weeks post-transplant and are already down to 4 mgs twice a day. I don't think I'm having any problems in the kidney area, but better safe than sorry.

He wants to start lowering my intake of Prograf, which I'm all for, but he is afraid of rejection, which means that even though I won't have to see him but every 4 months, I will have to get blood work done probably at the frequency that I am now (every 6 weeks) or even once a month.

It's been an eventful year. I'm ready to move on with my life. I want to put this year behind me and charge forward......but I know that's unrealistic. This last year and a half has really re-shaped my life and changed me. I will be able to move on with my currently quasi-normal life, but I will never be able to go back to what I was before this experience. I have grown, I have matured, and I have aged. I just have to learn how to put everything into perspective (which I still struggle with) and do the best I can to live each day to the fullest.

I look back and see the struggles that have shaped my path, and I look forward into a fog that is my future, but I have peace knowing that God is in the midst of it all.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Dirty Feet

In the Bible, the servants get all the credit. (Except for Martha...but that's another blog). Jesus was a servant. He even went as far as to wash the feet of his disciples. So we're all called to be foot-washers. Cool. I like that.

But I struggle because I have dirty feet. I don't like to admit it, and I don't want people to see, so I hide them. I mask it by washing someone else's feet. Someone needs a meal cooked? I'm there. Somone needs a night away from baby? I'll babysit. Homeless guy on the street is hungry? Here's some coupons for McDonalds. I've got the servant thing down. And I think it's because to be a servant, I don't have to humble myself.

Some people may have the opposite problem that I do. Some people may find it easy to be served, and more difficult to serve. We all have different struggles. Someone may not understand how I see making myself a servant puts me in a position of power. It separates the "haves" from the "have nots." I have time and a little extra money. The one I'm serving doesn't. It means that the person I'm serving has some kind of weakness, and I have the power to help them out of that situation.

I don't like exposing my dirty feet. It means that I have to give over my "power." My "I-can-do-it-all-without-any-help" attitude.

I know I had a liver transplant yesterday, but I don't need your help! I can make it to the bathroom by myself, thankyouverymuch!

Right. The truth is, I couldn't make it to the bathroom. I couldn't cook a meal. I couldn't do my own laundry. I couldn't do the normal day-to-day stuff that everyone takes for granted. People saw my dirty feet, and it forced me to become more humble. It forced me to rely on people that I never thought I would have to rely on for very simple things.

Thanks, Rick, for taking up the slack and being my support system over the last year.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for staying with me and sticking it out with us.
Thanks, Grandma, for stroking my hair and cleaning me up after getting so sick from the iron.
Thanks, family and friends, for simply being there for us.
Thanks, Otter Creek, for the food, the visits, the cards, and the massive amounts of love and support you offered us.

You all saw my dirty feet, and you did an amazing job of washing them.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

????

I'm exhausted. I expected the American Society of Microbiology meeting (ASM) to be lots of fun, and it was. But after pushing my body and mind to it's limits for the last 5 days, I can't go any more. I realize now that when my boss comes back from these meetings, the bags under his eyes aren't from too much drinking, they're from too much science.

I learned a lot. Perhaps the most important thing that I learned is that I'm not as stupid as I've thought I was for the last two years. Being the lowest person on the education totem poll can really do a number on your self-confidence.

The ride back was worth the whole trip. I've known my boss for 5 years. The first three of those 5 years I was the nanny for his children. On the 4 hour ride home yesterday I learned that we're still friends, that he still really trusts me, and that he really has a lot of faith in me. It's kind of scary.

But, today will give no rest to the weary. I'm motivated again and too tired to do much about it, yet I must push on. There is work to do. Science. And lots of it. The ride home yesterday gave me lots of renewed confidence in myself, my relationship with my boss (not that it was ever bad) and a lot more responsibility on my plate.

It's time for me to step up. So, here it goes.....

Friday, June 03, 2005

Going Again

I wanted to post something profound and spiritual today, but I didn't get around to it. It'll have to wait until the end of next week.

I'm heading off to Atlanta for work on Sunday. I'll be back sometime at the end of next week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Vacation?

We were supposed to fly out of Nashville at 7:30am and get into Miami around 10:30am. This would correspond to the times that Rick's parents and brother, sis-in-law, and their children would be arriving. Then we would head over to the rental car place, hop in our cars, and be on the beach by noon. HA! So much for planning....

When we boarded the plane, they announced that while en route to Nashville, the plane hit a bird. I didn't think that was a big deal. I'm sure planes hit birds all the time. Well, I was wrong. This bird must have been pterodactyl-sized, because it dented the plane. Our flight was delayed. We then tried to get another flight into Miami. No luck. We were stuck. At 10:30am, they announced that our flight had been cancelled. Hummm....we're supposed to be IN Miami by now... We followed the mass of 140 people to the ticket counter, where we would all attempt to find other flights. Most people were able to catch a flight to Dallas, and then a connecting flight to Miami, which landed most of them in Miami at 7:30 that night. It's not 10:30am, but we would have taken it. We didn't make that flight. It filled up before our turn at the counter.

We ended up flying to Washington DC, where we would catch a connecting flight and be in Miami at around 9:30pm. The airline lady was nice enough to even give us a food voucher for dinner once we got into Dulles airport. We would have a couple hours to eat before we boarded the plane at 7:30pm. HA! Each time I walked by the board for departing flights, our departure time changed: 8pm. 8:30pm. 9pm. 9:40pm. 11pm. We (finally) departed for Miami at a little after midnight. We were in the hotel at 4am. We only lost 17 hours of our vacation.

Our hotel was on Miami Beach, which was nice. The beach wasn't very crowded at all and the weather was perfect. That is where we spent all day Friday. On Saturday, we decided to take a trip to famous South Beach. I had heard all kinds of stories about it, but nothing could prepare me for what we saw.

I knew there would be a lot of homosexuals in SoBe. I can deal with that. I don't approve of the life style, but I've had friends who are homosexual. Once we found our spot on the beach, I sat in my lounger listening in to those around me (it was very, very crowded). I was amazed at the number of homosexuals on the beach. Not in a "ohmygosh, I can't stand this" kind of way, just amazed in the sense that I had never been a minority as a heterosexual. I was talking with the rest of my family and making comments like, "I bet 99% of the people on this beach are homosexual." Someone made the comment about some of the topless girls hitting on Rick and I said, "I'd be more worried about the guys..." My mom-in-law was beginning to get offended by the men offering each other pecks on the cheek and rubbing lotion on each other. I just sat back and observed the culture of it all. I feel asleep in my lounger a while later, and was awakened by my bro-in-law, "Amanda! You know all of those little comments you've been making today about our, um, situation? Do you THINK it could be because we're in between two rainbow flags!?!" hahahahaha. We had no idea where we had parked ourselves.

Rick and I then decided to walk on down the beach and see what else was going on. For those of you thinking of going to Miami, let me offer you a tidbit of advice: NEVER go on Memorial Day weekend (that is, unless you are a member of the "hip hop" crowd and like lots of rap music, drinking, and drugs....then, go, have fun). I am not prejudiced, but neither could I ever pass for someone who's into hip hop and rap and that whole culture. As we walked on down the beach away from the "gay-friendly" area, the color changed. I looked up a couple of minutes later and we were the only white people on the beach. Again, I find myself a minority. We saw a very large crowd of people, including professional camera crews cheering and laughing about something that was going on in the water. Rick and I broke through the crowd enough to see and what did we find but a game of "strip football" going on in the water. It took me a couple of minutes to realize what was going on. Guys vs. Girls. If the girls caught the ball, the guys took their swim trunks off. If the guys caught the ball, the girls had to take either their tops or their bottoms off, depending on which the guys wanted. I tried to keep my chin off of the sand and my eyes in my head. I couldn't believe it. We decided to keep walking and came upon a couple of 18 or 19 year old girls building a sand castle. Awwww.... I thought, now that looks like fun... When we got close enough to see what they were building, we realized that it wasn't a sand castle at all, but, um, certain body parts. We decided at that point to turn around and walk back to our "gay friendly" zone. I think my mom-in-law should be happy that that's where we ended up.....

We weren't able to do anything that "normal" tourists would get to do when they visit Miami because of the hip hop crowd. Turns out their in Miami every Mem. Day weekend. Walking up and down the streets were people drinking, liter all over the place, and even people smoking pot. The really cool restaurants in SoBe were either closed, or not at all like what they would normally be had the hip hop crowd not been there. We actually ended up spending nearly all of our time in Miami Beach and even Ft. Lauderdale. Rick and I might have braved it one night and tried to go out to SoBe, but there is no way that with my 60 yr old in-laws, and my bro- and sis-in-law's 3 and 5 year olds that we even could have faked being hip hop fans.

Anyway, I guess it was an ok-time. I did really enjoy Friday when we stayed on Miami Beach all day. I love all of my in-laws, but being around them for so long without a break kind of stressed me out, but I guess that's just because I'm not used to being around them so much since they live in Minnesota and we're in Nashville. I don't think I would call our trip a "vacation," though. More like a "we're going to the beach but we're not really going to get to relax and do what we want to do" kind of trip. Ahhh, yes. But we weren't able to leave until we all decided that this is a "vacation" that we need to make as a family every year. Yikes. I guess I've got a year to prepare. :oP

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Applause, Applause!

I know I said I was going to talk about my trip to Miami today, but something else has caught my attention that is of greater importance.

I personally believe that there are a few "taboo" sins that the church has serious problems with today. These are the sins that either we brush over because we don't think they are so "bad," or because we don't want to talk about them because they're too difficult to talk about. One of these sins is gluttony, the other: sex and/or pornography.

Even the word is dirty: pornography. Porn. Porno. It gives me bad mental images just typing out the words. I do think that churches today are doing a lot more to attack this sin than they were even when I was in Jr. High/High School just a few years ago, but it still isn't enough. I attended a Christian university. Two of the major problems on that particular campus were anorexia/bulemia for girls, and porn addiction for guys. And, of course, I think the two are inter-related.

As I watched the local news last night (I don't remember the channel, I tried to look it up but couldn't find the story so that I could link you guys to it), I saw a break through occur. I actually witnessed it with my own two eyes. This is no ordinary break-through. This is something that will rock our churches and universities to the core if we choose to get involved. The People's Church in Franklin, TN (www.thepeopleschurch.org) is partnering with XXX Church (www.xxxchurch.com) to have Porn Sunday this coming Sunday, June 5, at 6pm. This is a prelude to National Porn Sunday which will be held in churches nation-wide on October 9th, 2005. Yeah, seems like those two words are words that you would never hear associated with one another, but I say, it's about time. There are too many men (and a growing number of women) who are addicted to porn. It ruins them. It ruins their marriages.

XXX Church was started by two young men, Mike Foster and Craig Gross. These guys are incredible. They go as far as to set up booths on pornography and it's effects at porn conventions. They are Jesus. They are willing to take the step and confront this sin when it has people at their worst. But, if you want to learn more about them and their ministry, I'll let you check out their web site that I listed above.

There is also more information about Porn Sunday on The People's Church website. This will consist of a documentary called "Missionary Positions" about the effects of porn on men, women, and marriages. The founders of XXX Church will be in Franklin on Sunday morning to talk about the damages that porn can do, and that night, will present the film and host a Q&A session afterward. And, don't worry, they're being very careful about who gets to view this film. You will have to have an ID proving that you are over 17, and if you are 16 or under, you must have a permission slip from your parents to view the film.

I give a standing ovation to Mike Foster and Craig Gross. They are breaking ground across the country. I also applaud The People's Church for supporting their ministry and helping to get the word out about pornography.

I am hoping that everyone who reads this will visit the XXX Church web site and find out how to get involved in National Porn Sunday. You have plenty of time to prepare for it, but don't put it off. Get involved. Pray about it, and watch God work.



"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible." Ephesians 5:8-14