Ten Reasons You Should Think Before You Share

 Just kidding, I don’t have ten reasons.

As a young adult, I used to watch David Letterman pretty faithfully and enjoyed his funny “Top Ten” lists.  They usually poked fun at a current event or personalities or other such nonsense, and they made me laugh.  Now it seems like anyone can come up with a Top Ten list to be posted online, only these lists aren’t funny.   Much of the time, though, they are nonsense.

As a people, we seem to be losing our ability to think critically about what we read.  Before we believe another “Top Ten Reasons Why” article or share it with our friends, we need to be asking ourselves some questions.  Is it actually true?  Does it matter?  We need to be careful about what we believe to be true because what we believe affects the way we behave and the decisions we make.   And we should value our friends enough that we also want them to be making decisions based on truth. 

Here are a few things we should be asking ourselves as we read an article:

Who Is the Author?

Listen, everyone has an agenda.  We all have our own biases.  In medical training, this is an important concept in evaluating research literature.  Are the authors being funded by a drug company such that they have a personal stake in the outcome of their study?  Are there other factors that might be influencing their point of view?  Is that article on the benefits of organic food being written by an organic farmer?  Is the advice about taking a bunch of supplements penned by someone who is profiting from the sale of the product?  Not that articles written by people who have a personal stake should be discounted… but the bias should be recognized and taken into account as you evaluate what is being said.

Likewise, do we believe something just because it is being advocated by a celebrity?  Do I choose to take vaccine advice from Jenny McCarthy rather than scientists who have really done the studies?  Do I base my cancer treatment on what Chrissy from Three’s Company advocates?   Please, no. 

Finally, not all doctors are created equally or have the same fund of knowledge.  The letters behind the name don’t automatically prove credibility.  My specialty is family medicine, so you would be unwise to take advice from me about specific treatments for cancer.  I am not up to date on the latest cancer drugs and research because that’s not the specialty of medicine that I practice.  You also probably don’t want to get advice about your psychiatric medication from my surgeon husband.  It’s OK to be critical even of the “M.D.” or “D.O.“ or “PhD.” blogger.  It’s hard to admit, but we really don’t know everything about everything.  (Yes, even Dr. Oz)

 

Does Relationship Equal Cause?

This is a big one.  Just because two things prove to be linked in a study does not always mean that one causes another.  Here is a humorous example:  “Sleeping with one’s shoes on is strongly correlated with waking up with a headache.  Therefore, sleeping with one’s shoes on causes headache.”  Because the two are related, the false assumption is made that one causes the other, when in reality both are caused by a third factor—going to bed drunk. 

We have to keep in mind that other variables have to be ruled out in order to really prove that one thing causes another.   When we read that A is linked to B, we have to look deeper.  Does A really cause B?  Or could other factors be involved?

Related to this is the problem of sample size.  I read an article not long ago where the author was proposing that people might not need antibiotics for Strep throat because one time she had Strep, she didn’t take antibiotics, and she hasn’t had Strep throat again since then.  The problem with this?  Her sample size is ONE.  She is taking her own personal experience and making broad generalizations.  Be careful about accepting one person’s individual experience as being true for everyone.

 

Is This Information Just Plain False?

People exaggerate.  People lie.  People write things that are just untrue.  Maybe they do it on purpose, maybe they just don’t know better.  Maybe they want to write something “buzzworthy” so it will get reposted over and over.  But as readers, we have to be willing to question what is being proposed.

Here is an example taken from an article I saw recently about the ‘dangers’ of the flu vaccine:  “Its a known fact that Flu vaccines contain strains of the flu virus along with other ingredients. Now think about the impact such a vaccine can have over someone with a suppressed immune system? If you have a disease that is already lowering your body’s ability to fight a virus, taking the flu shot will put your body in danger of getting the full effects of the flu and make you more susceptible to pneumonia and other contagious diseases.” (http://www.undergroundhealth.com/10-reasons-why-flu-shots-are-more-dangerous-than-the-flu/)

There is just no truth to this claim.  There is no study.  There is no science.  Just an author’s mistaken understanding of how vaccines work.  But if we don’t think critically when we read things like this, will we just blindly believe it? 

 

Let Us Think

Friends, let’s be responsible.  This isn’t just having fun on the internet.  Believing and spreading false information can actually be dangerous.  People are becoming sick and sometimes dying from vaccine preventable diseases.  Parents are sensing that they’re being unjustly judged because they let their kids play on an iPad.  People are worried that if they don’t eat a 100% organic diet, they’re going to get cancer.  If they feed their kid sugar, they’re going to have ADHD.  Stop the madness.  Seek real truth.  Cut through the hype.  Look for the evidence.  Think. 

Immanuel

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Oh holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

I have spent more time this Christmas season identifying with the “weary world” than I ever remember before.  Tired.  Desperate for His presence.  About to burst while waiting in hope for the promised redemption.

That God himself would take on human form, bringing light and hope to a dark world, heavy-laden with sin… the beautiful idea of it all has repeatedly brought me to tears.  I can’t stop thinking about it; I lose my breath.  He gives life and light to all who ask.  He Is With Us.

As I’ve contemplated it all, the verses below have taken shape in my head; I finally had time to put them in writing today.

Immanuel

Into the still night you came.
Dark earth had been groaning, fumbling, aching…
Now quietly stirring, slowly awaking
Warmed as your light gently shone.

You left your glorious home,
Adopting new boundaries of time and of space.
The Invisible dons an infant’s round face
And flesh that will bleed for us all.

Too holy that eyes should behold,
Now humbly drawing the young to your side,
Your blessed feet washed in a sweet perfumed tide
Of tears from a woman like me.

What can I say to this mystery?
That Almighty God would become lowly man
Take thorns on his head and nails in his hands
Because of his heart that beats love.

I ask that you come bring your peace.
Break through all my groaning, my fumbling and aching…
Shine light in blackness, forgive the forsaking
Of my first love—the one who breathes life.

Replace my stone heart with one vibrant.
Help me remember what you did for me,
Walking this planet so our eyes could see
The Glory of God is among us.

LB 12/28/13

Our Christmas Card

I love Christmas cards.  It makes me so happy when, after Thanksgiving, my stack of mail becomes filled with hand-addressed, brightly colored envelopes with those special issue Christmas stamps affixed to their corners.  I recognize the handwriting on the envelopes–Stephanie’s graceful script, Dana’s happy rounded letters, the characteristic hand of my aunt.  I smile and feel warm as I break the seals, finding some to contain beautiful family photographs, some silly snapshots, and some with detailed letters chronicling the events of the year.  All of them are precious.  I save them in a Christmas basket and peruse them over and over.  We pray for the families represented on the cards.  We are grateful for little tangible reminders of the lives of our family and friends who mean so much to us.

I also love sending Christmas cards.  I enjoy taking a good picture of my kids or having a professional photo taken.  I let my creative side come out as I choose the particular words I’d like to have on our card & how I’d like the layout to look.  I happily address the envelopes, placing them into neat stacks, and delivering them to the post office where I purchase my fancy stamps and send my cards off to their varied destinations.  The whole process is fun to me.

This year, the Christmas season has felt hurried.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because Thanksgiving was kind of ‘late’ in November; maybe because everything just feels a little more rushed since we’ve moved to New York; maybe because it’s dark by 4:45 and going anywhere in the evening feels like wandering around in the middle of the night; maybe because the last month has just been plain hard and my heart feels heavy with this nagging pain that I can’t quite soothe.

Many of my plans for the season have just not come to fruition.  I hung an advent countdown garland, bought little candies, and printed Bible verses to tuck inside each day’s little stocking.  How fun!  We’d read a verse each day, talk about Jesus, do a kind deed, and enjoy a sweet treat. Well, the printed verses are still sitting in a stack on my table, and the candy is unopened up in the cabinet.

Instead of brightly colored packages under my tree, most of our gifts will be arriving just in time for Christmas, in lovely cardboard boxes with “Amazon.com” packing tape.

I finally got the kids in their PJs the other night to take a photo for our Christmas card.  Here’s how most of them went:Image

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With me pleading, “Be still.  Just stop moving!  Smile.  No, really smile.  Stop touching your face.  Keep your hands down!  Why does this have to be torture?!”

Finally, I got a fairly decent picture, but by then everyone was irritable and not particularly ‘in the Christmas spirit’.  I got the kids to bed and sat down to create a card online.  I was excited to do it!  Then I sadly realized that I was too late.  There was no way to get the cards printed and shipped to our house with time left for me to address them and mail them before for Christmas.  That is, UNLESS I wanted to pay about $50 for rush shipping.  And, you know, the little mouse pointer hovered over that rush shipping button and almost ‘clicked’, but then I came to my senses.

It’s just not happening this year.

The advent calendar, the satisfaction of wrapping pretty gifts, the Christmas cards.  Just not happening.

I was feeling badly about it all the next morning.  Why can’t I just get it together?  I’m ruining Christmas!  How will my kids know about Jesus without the advent calendar?  How will my friends know I’m thinking of them without a Christmas card?  Will our families mind having their unwrapped gifts arrive directly from the online vendor?

And then, quietly, I felt it in my soul, welling up.  As many years as I’ve known Him, as much as I know better, I was still missing the whole point.  Caught up in the hype.  Succumbing to the rush.

Didn’t He come to give me rest?  Didn’t He come to save me from this striving to always have to get things accomplished?  Can’t I honor Him at Christmas by accepting His peace?  By letting Him take my burden?  By remembering that it’s not about ME and what I need to DO?

It’s about HIM and what He HAS ALREADY DONE.

So, friends, we’re spending the upcoming evenings leading up to Christmas… resting.  Sitting by the fire.  Listening to Christmas songs and singing along.  Talking about Jesus and why He came. Drinking hot chocolate and apple cider.  Thanking Him for lifting our burden of performance.

I hope you won’t mind that you won’t see my handwriting in your mailbox this year.

If you did open a card from us, this is what it would have said:

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

This Christmas, may the light of Christ invade your whole world–brightening everything, reaching even into the darkest places–to bring you peace, warmth, love, and hope.

Merry Christmas from the Braswells

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A Tribute to My Grandfather

“There aren’t many men like my Pipi was,”

I think to myself as I walk toward the plane

Being jostled and hurried by men holding coffee,

Embracing grand plans for their personal gain.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

I close my eyes and the image floats in

Of how he delighted in telling his best joke

His eyes with their sparkle, mouth stretched in a grin.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

He proudly took us along to his store–

A magical place with castles of cardboard,

White price tag stickers, and candy galore.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

He laughed as we stretched the receipt tapes mile-long

Or plunged our small hands in the Brach’s Pick-a-Mix bins

Or hid in the freezer while he whistled his song.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

He taught me to ski on both water and snow,

Let me sit in his lap as he managed the pedals

And I steered the truck’s wheels on country roads slow.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

He shuffled the bones after family meals grand

Teasing and joking along with his brothers

Sliding the dominoes smooth in his hands.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

He rose Sunday mornings and put on his tie.

He opened his Bible and taught about Jesus

Then joined in a chorus of ‘Sweet By and By’.

 

There aren’t many men like my Pipi was.

Men who have finished their race so well run,

But I smile through my tears ’cause I know God is saying,

“Your reward is with Me now.  Sweet Pipi, well done.”

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When God Knocks Your Socks Off

My prayer went something like this:

Dear God, I know You know what I need, and I will be thankful for whatever I receive from your hand.  You tell me to come boldly before your throne, so here I am, and I’m just going to ask for exactly what I believe would be best as I am looking for a job here in New York.

I’d like to work less than 30 hours per week.  I want to be the one to wake my children up each morning, feed them breakfast, and send them off to school.  I want to be home in the evenings to eat dinner together, supervise homework, and say bedtime prayers.  I want to be free on Saturdays to rest, attend fun events, explore New York, and spend time with new friends.  I want to be free on Sundays to attend church together, rest, and prepare for the week ahead.  I want to be home on Christmas morning to open presents and talk about Jesus; I want to make the Thanksgiving turkey and bake pies and casseroles.  I don’t want to make hospital rounds.  I’d like to have some time to myself during the week, while my kids are at school & I’m not working.  All of those things, plus I’d like my job to be a ministry.  I want it to count.  I want to show Your love in ways that are big and unexpected.  I want to “let my light shine”.

Yesterday I had my second interview for a particular position, and today I was offered the job.

It’s 20 hours per week, Monday through Wednesday.

20 hours spread over 3 days is less than 7 hours per day.  They’ll be flexible with me, so I can arrive later than the traditional 9 am start time.  This means I can take Charlie to preschool myself before I make the trip to the Bronx where the clinic is located.  I should be finished before 5 pm so I can be home in the evenings.  My Thursday and Friday mornings will be my own time as all of my children will be at school at least until 12:15.  (Thursday morning Bible study?  Yes, please.)

No nights, no weekends, no major holidays.

And here’s the best part:  this clinic is part of a network that serves patients with developmental disabilties such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorders.  I knew most assuredly that this was the place for me as I sat in the clinic waiting room yesterday, waiting to be called back for my interview.  I struck up a conversation with several patients who were arguing about sports statistics and their favorite teams.  They welcomed me into their heated discussion, even though I am too green in my New Yorker-ness to be able to argue Mets vs. Yankees or Jets vs. Giants.  Still, I did my best to keep up, and I threw in a little Johnny Manziel talk for good measure.  I had the biggest grin on my face as I walked into my interview.  Could there be a better population to serve and love?   Could anyone have orchestrated this perfection besides God?

Y’all.

I.  Can’t.  Wait!!

God is so good.  So, so good.

Rotten

I am spoiled.

Many mornings I’ve sat on a big comfy couch, drank hot coffee with just the right amount of Southern Butter Pecan creamer, read a chapter or two from my choice of numerous Bible translations, and said, “Yes, Lord.  I’ll do whatever you want me to do.  I’d go anywhere for You.”

It’s easy to say from the comfort of your big comfy couch.  “Yes, I’ll be a missionary for You.  Yes, I can be content in any circumstance.”

It’s easy to think I’m so spiritual… and then go have lunch at Panera.

The past couple of weeks have revealed to me that I am absorbed with my own comfort.  And it’s ugly.

We moved to a town that looks different than what I’m used to, and I felt sad about it.  SPOILED.   I’m still in the USA, still able to drive anywhere I want to go, still able to get Dr. Pepper at the drive-thru, still able to worship in freedom, still able to communicate easily with everyone I meet.  What about my friends who are foreign missionaries?  Who have had to learn a new tongue in order to be understood?  Who don’t have easy access to the groceries they like?  Who are time zones away from their friends and families?   Who face real persecution for their faith?

I noticed ants in our kitchen and got upset because they were into a big box of our food.  I got pretty frustrated about it and felt like I was suffering.  SPOILED.  What about my friend in Kenya who has had to chase a pooping monkey out of her house?  That’s gotta be a lot worse than ants.

As the movers were bringing in boxes yesterday & our house was quickly filling up, I got overwhelmed with this ridiculous thought:  “I have too much stuff to fit into my house.”  SPOILED.  “What am I going to do?  The bedroom ceilings are too short for my four poster bed.”  Heaven help me.  I am rotten.

Deliver me, O God

I am obsessed with my own comfort.

“Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.”  Psalm 119:36-37

 

 

Welcome Home

About a week ago, our house in Columbus was empty except for the things that we would need with us for our journey to New York.  Just as we were getting ready to pile everything into my car, our wonderful Pastor and his wife knocked on the door.  They came in and prayed for us, which meant so much to me.  They always have perfect timing

A little while later, I loaded the kids into the car and went back inside the house one more time.  I walked into each room, checking for things left behind, and remembering all of the joy that those walls had seen.  I quietly cried for a minute or two then wiped my eyes, closed the door behind me, and drove away.

We set out for the first stop on our trip: Asheville, NC.  It was an interesting day emotionally as we all seemed to take turns being the one feeling sad, then being the one to cheer the other ones up.  It was one of those “total waste of mascara” days for sure, but in between the tears were moments of laughter and silliness.  We stopped at Chick Fil A for lunch, knowing it might be the last time we’d enjoy CFA for a while.  There is no CFA on Long Island, which is really going to pose a challenge for our eating habits. We usually eat there at least once a week!  I’m already in Polynesian Sauce withdrawals.

We made it to Asheville, and, as is typical for us when we travel, Sam vomited that night.  I’m not kidding.  It’s like hotel rooms stir up some kind of mysterious emesis reaction in my kids.  Thankfully, I have learned this from experience and had Zofran close by.  Sam felt better after the medicine and some Sprite, and he slept fine the rest of the night.  The next morning, I put a magic Zofran on the tongue of all 3 kids.  Just in case.  We weren’t going to let a possible GI bug ruin our fun.  I took one too, for good measure.

We toured the Biltmore Estate that day, and it was just as impressive as I’d imagined.  The older 2 kids were very interested in the details from the mansion’s audio tour, and Charlie contained his boredom very well.  We had lunch in an old horse stable, stomped grapes at the winery, and went to the petting zoo.  So much fun!Image

Our next stop was Roanoke, VA, which was a good mid-way point between Asheville and Washington, DC.  In Roanoke we mostly just enjoyed the hotel pool, and that evening we went to see the Mill Mountain Star, which shines out each night over the city of Roanoke.

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The next day we drove to Washington, DC.  Our first stop was Georgetown Cupcake, where they film the TV show called “DC Cupcakes”.  The line to get into the bakery was out the door and up the block, but it moved quickly.  We chose a variety of cupcakes to try, and they were every bit as good as we’d hoped.  The perfect amount of frosting.  Totally yummy.

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We walked around Georgetown for a little while then settled into our hotel for the night.  The next morning we started our tour of DC.  I knew we only had one day to sightsee and that the kids would have limited interest in all of the history of DC, so we didn’t try to do too much.  We took a trolley tour of most of the monuments and major buildings of interest, then we actually stopped at the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  The kids’ favorite was the museum, where we looked at animal skeletons, held grasshoppers and caterpillars, marveled at the Hope Diamond, and asked the Easter Island statue if he wanted some gum-gum.

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The next morning we left DC fairly early, as Daddy had given us strict instructions to make it to New York before traffic got bad.  I was glad that I’d stopped at the ATM before we got on the road, because apparently these “Northern” folks are very proud of their toll roads, tunnels and bridges.  For real, I think I spent nearly $50 in tolls just getting from DC to Long Island.  The NYC skyline was muted by fog, but impressive still.  We went through the Bronx and over a bridge onto Long Island.

As we drove into our new town of Manhasset, it suddenly really sunk in.  Up until then, it had kind of just felt like we were on a fun little trip, and we were enjoying the sights.  But as I drove down the main street packed with little shops, delis, and pizzerias, it hit me that this was now “home”.  And, honestly, I felt a little sick.  It all looked so different.  Foreign.

We drove up to our new house to find Anthony waiting for us.  It was so good to see him!  Image

We went to a pizzeria for some New York style pizza, and I couldn’t seem to get the lump out of my throat.  My eyes kept getting wet.  It was real.  We live in New York now, and it felt very weird.  Anthony sensed my discomfort and sweetly suggested that we take a drive after lunch.  My genius husband knew just what I needed.  Not far from our town lies Westbury, and in Westbury lies: Super Target, Costco, Gap, Old Navy, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks… and big, wide open parking lots.  I could breathe.  There were “normal” things here.  Comfortable things.  Familiar things.

We picked up a few items at Target, where after less than 8 hours in New York, I had my first “You’re not from here, are you?” when I was pleasantly chatting with the cashier.  Is it that obvious?  I never thought I had much of a Southern or Texas accent.  Guess I was wrong.  :)

We all slept on air mattresses last night.  It’s still going to be a while before we have our furniture, but for now, I’m feeling OK.

When we drove into Delaware yesterday, I was reminded of the lyrics to a Watermark song called “Welcome to Delaware”:

“So I’ve settled here, and that is that
For You to show me who I am
You had to take me to a place I’d never been
And all the things I dreaded most
About the things unseen…
Have now become the sweetest part of me!
And though I headed to where it seemed like no where
I knew You would come,
I knew You would meet me here…

You were here to say,
“Welcome to Delaware,
I know you’ve traveled far,
And it’s a lot colder here than what you’re used to,
And I know, that in the winter time,
things aren’t what they used to be
So all you really have here now, is Me…” ”

So this morning I am focusing on the fact that even though I don’t know a soul in this town, God is here with me, and that’s all I need for now.

My Jerusalem

In 2007, Anthony graduated from his general surgery residency in San Antonio.  The Army assigned him to Fort Benning, and soon we found ourselves in Columbus, Georgia.  I noticed immediately that we weren’t in San Antonio anymore.  (Tacos for breakfast?!  Who ever heard of such a thing?)  But we quickly adjusted to the slower pace, the Southern way of life.  I slapped a monogram on anything that would sit still, developed a taste for pork (not beef?) BBQ, readily accepted that mac ‘n’ cheese counts as a vegetable, and made myself at home.  Before long, we had decided that Columbus must be the most ideal place on the planet.  We called it our Utopia.  We joined a church where the Word was preached and where we were welcomed warmly.  We were adopted as family by great friends who had grown up in Columbus.  We had fun boating at the nearby lakes.  We liked our jobs.  We even had another baby :)

It was while in Columbus that a precious friend, Sheryl, invited me to a Bible study that would change me.  While I had grown up in church and had done a lot of Bible reading, somehow I had never really learned how to study the Bible for myself.  Sheryl introduced me to Precept Upon Precept Bible studies, where I learned to dig deep into the scriptures.  I loved the revelations that came, and I treasured the chance to meet weekly with other women who had great insights into God’s Word.  I also developed deep friendships with women who have been on their knees for me and have taught me what it means to be a woman of faith, a prayerful mother, a reliable friend.

Ainsley and Sam invited Jesus into their hearts while students at Calvary Christian School, and Charlie learned about God’s love each week at our church.  Anthony taught Sunday School and also had a solid group of men who prayed for one another and held each other accountable.

We were happy and growing and comfortable in Columbus.  We decided we never wanted to leave.

But we are leaving.  To New York, no less.

I have been reading some dangerous books lately, like Not A Fan and Anything.  Even before we found out we’d be moving, I’d been feeling a tug on my soul that things had gotten a bit too comfortable.  What is my Christian walk costing me these days? (Truthfully, not much.) What am I willing to give up in order to be obedient to Christ?  (The only correct answer is EVERYTHING, but do I mean it?).  What does God want me to be doing that I’m NOT DOING because I’m so comfortable and happy and content?  (Teaching.  Reaching the lost.  Serving the poor.)  Where is He calling me to go that I don’t really want to go?  (Sigh.  New York?)

We have been studying the book of Acts at church, and a couple of verses have taken on particular meaning for me.  In the opening part of Acts, after His resurrection, Jesus tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes.  He tells them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)  Sure enough, the Holy Spirit did come, and the believers enjoyed increase and favor.  “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”  (Acts 2:46)  Soon, Jerusalem was “filled” with the teaching of the disciples. (Acts 5:28)  But then something difficult happened.  One of their own, Stephen, was stoned by an angry mob, and “on that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” (Acts 8:1)

Jesus had already told them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.  But up until something difficult happened, they had stayed right there in comfortable Jerusalem.

I don’t want to stretch the scriptures in ways they aren’t meant to be, but I have just felt these verses speak to me.  Columbus has been my Jerusalem–My place of peace, where I have known tremendous love, growth and favor.  The move to New York is sudden, and unexpected, and, frankly, difficult.  But the truth is, I’m all filled up, and God is saying, “It’s time for you to be my witness somewhere else now.  Let’s go.  Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth await…”

I don’t know what the future holds, but I want to be one who will say, “OK, God.  Let’s go.  For you, I’ll do anything.  Even if it means cold, snowy winters and a fast-paced culture that makes my heart race.  Even if it’s not so easy to find like-minded friends and where strangers may not smile at me or make eye contact.  Even though I don’t have a job there yet and my house here hasn’t sold.  I trust you.  I’m ready.  Let’s go.”

(But maybe, one day, can we please come back to Jerusalem?)

A New Chapter

Unbelievably, it has been nearly a year since I last posted here.  Life has definitely been busy, and there have been a few twists and turns that caused me to pull back a bit with how much I felt comfortable sharing publicly.  But we are now beginning a new chapter in our lives that I want to be sure to document.  We are moving to New York!

For years, Anthony’s dream has been to specialize in plastic/reconstructive surgery.  The Army selected him as their sole candidate this year to pursue a plastics fellowship, which we thought would start in 2014.  Through a series of interesting events, it now turns out that he will be starting fellowship THIS summer (2013), in Long Island, NY.

We have had about one month to adjust to this big news and to get ready to move.  Anthony drove away today and will be in New York soon.  He will live in an extended stay hotel briefly while he looks for a house that we can rent for the next 3 years.  Our home in Columbus is on the market, and I am still working, so the kids and I will stay in Columbus until early August, then join Anthony on Long Island.

Sam woke up sad today. He knew his Daddy was leaving.  He said he had a tummy ache & wasn’t sure if he could go to Huck Finn camp that he has been attending with his buddies this week.  Of all our kids, Sam seems the most upset by the idea of moving.  He really loves his friends here.  They ARE a great group of kids.  Just look…

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Ainsley was pretty sad at first about moving as well, but I think she has come around now and is excited about living near the City.  Today was her “special day”, and we had a great time playing at Aqua Island at Callaway Gardens, just the 2 of us.

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When we got home, everyone was still a little sad about Daddy being gone, so we loaded up and went to see Man of Steel (the new Superman movie).  Charlie enjoyed it so much that he fell asleep halfway through.  That boy is so much fun.  He keeps us on our toes!

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Now we’re home, all the kids are sleeping, and Anthony has also stopped for the night in what is no doubt an old, cheap motel.  He compares all travel to deployments, so his standards are pretty low, especially when it comes to accommodations.   :)  Sleep tight.  More to come…

 

Hands

“I’m sorry my fingers are so cold,” I said, rubbing my hands together in a futile attempt to warm them up a bit.  I knelt on the floor and gently pressed my thumb against his swollen shin, leaving behind a deep indentation that wouldn’t quickly fade away.  He studied my hands, what they’d done to his legs, then exchanged a look with his wife who was sitting next to him in the exam room.  She looked tired and sad but forced a smile as she said what they both were thinking.

“You’re the first doctor who has actually touched him since he left the hospital.”

I wasn’t sure how many doctors he’d seen before me, but I knew it was plenty.  And before I could feel any sense of pride in being the one who’d finally laid hands on him, I was indicted by the words his wife spoke.  I thought of all the times I’ve sat at the computer after a patient encounter, ready to document the physical portion of the visit, and the only things I could honestly check off on the electronic menu of exam elements were “vital signs reviewed”, “general appearance” and maybe “mood and affect”.  I’ve reviewed the labs, looked at the xrays, listened to the symptoms, and prescribed the medications.  But I haven’t done the thing that’s probably the most important.  I haven’t touched.

And I know better.  I know that examining the patient helps me gather vital information.  I know it builds trust.  I know it creates ease.  Research tells me that patients perceive I’ve spent more time with them if I will just place a hand against skin, a stethoscope against chest.

Yes, maybe the CT report makes the diagnosis for me.  Maybe sometimes disease can be known without being palpated.  But when my hands remain on the keyboard and not on the patient, the art of medicine slowly dies, because there is healing in the hands.

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