Thursday, April 23, 2009

Whirlwind Week

Wow. I just caught my breath after such a whirlwind week! As crazy as it was, and despite the fact I am utterly exhausted…part of me is strangely energized by the fact that I had one of the busiest weeks I have had in a really long time. And that’s a really good thing, something I am very grateful for, considering how long I have been without activity. But boy was it insane!

I started things off well, by heading to Pine Cove for the Woodcreek Women’s Retreat. This was such an awesome weekend! I know I have mentioned how much I love my church before, but I was so grateful for the opportunity to spend a restful weekend with such beautiful women of God. The theme of the weekend was “Praising God in Every Season,” so it was such a blessing for me at this time in my life. From car-ride sing-alongs with Lindsey, to playing catch phrase in the cabin, to having a dance party in our pajamas with all of the women of the church, to standing by the lake in awe of His wonder…it was an awesome weekend! I got to spend the weekend praising God, relaxing, enjoying His beautiful creation, and just hanging out with the sweet girls in the 20s group. It was most definitely a “retreat” for me, and the perfect way to start all the new things in my life.

Here is a picture of the 20s group of girls who were at the retreat:

As soon as I got back into town, I dove right into preparing for my licensing exam. I spent pretty much every waking moment preparing. I spent 3 days in a prep course, trying to learn the ins and outs of the insurance business. Let me just say that I had awful flashbacks to my college days lol. It was a massive amount of information in a short period of time. I was definitely nervous to take my exam this morning, to say the least. But God was SO GOOD, and I passed my exam!!! Just barely (I made it by the skin of my nose!), but I passed the first time. I have never been so happy to make a C in my life! So I am now official. I am a licensed General Lines Property & Casualty Insurance Agent in the state of Texas. I do have to say that it was a complete miracle from God, considering my lack of preparation time, and lack of knowledge on the subject. But I was able to walk into my new office with my head held high, because I passed! And I can now sell you personal or commercial lines of insurance- haha. (Well, I actually have to send my test scores and fingerprints to TDI, and then they will issue me a license. Details).

Since I have been in a classroom all week, or holed away studying, I haven’t had a chance to set up my new office. So I will spend the rest of the week doing that. Well, perhaps I should be fair and say that I have a new cube. LOL. It’s actually a nice little cube…a corner cube in fact- hehe. But it’s mine, and I couldn’t be more excited! I am trying to brainstorm on ways to personalize my new space…if you have any suggestions, let me know. I will spend a lot of time in the cube, and my boss wants me to personalize it. I will try to grab a picture when I have time…because you care so much.

And as if things weren’t crazy enough, in the midst of all retreat, my exam, starting a new job…I am in the midst of packing because I move this weekend! My new lease officially started yesterday, and I actually went by to see my new apartment during lunch today. It was a fun feeling to walk in the door and know that I live there now. My parents are coming into town and I have recruited some of my brother's friends to help. It will be a busy weekend, but I am excited to finally move!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Every Season

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

~ By Nichole Nordeman

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Movin on Up...To a Deluxe Apartment in the Sky

Today I signed a lease for my new apartment! I can't tell you how absolutely EXCITED I am about this. I have been "moving" for 4 months- lol. No really, I have. I gave my 60 day notice with a plan to move out at the end of December. But when I lost my job and found myself without another to replace it, I was forced to go month to month on my lease. Each month I would give my apartment a new move-out date...each month thinking that within the next 30 days I would be moving. Sigh. And the commute the past 10 weeks with the temp job has been murder. I never want to live more than 20 minutes away from anything again- lol. This morning my usual 50 minute commute took me 1 1/2 hours because of a bad accident. I am more than ready to move closer to work. I will still face traffic, but I won't have to go as far! It's closer to work, BSF, (and Laura!) and it's not any farther from my church.

And now I get to move for real! I have to say that I absolutely LOVE my new apartment. It is much larger than my current apartment. It's in a great location, close to major shopping and restaurants, yet tucked away next to a golf course. I just have to dote a little on my apartment because I am super has a direct-access garage (which means no neighbor below me), it is on an outside wall (which means one less neighbor beside me), it has a fireplace, and I even got to splurge for a second bedroom! I no longer have to share my room with Sasha...she gets her own room- lol. Her massive kennel will no longer crowd my personal space. I plan to make "Sasha's Room" a multi-function study/scrapbook and craft room/guest bedroom. And since there is a second bathroom, no one has to go into my bedroom to get to one...which is a really nice bonus.

Here are a few pictures of my new home. As soon as I get my keys and move in, I will make sure to show you inside:

Ok. Enough doting. I am just so grateful for how God has provided for such a fun place to live. Because it is only from His hand that I was even able to sign a lease today. My parents will come up next weekend, and my brother has recruited some of his friends to help make the move across town. I am SO excited and can't wait! Thank you, Lord, for sweet blessings!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dying to Be Thin

I write this blog post with a heavy heart and a desire to make people aware of the difficulties associated with treating an eating disorder. I don't personally suffer from one, but someone very close to me does. She is 14 years old, and when she was recently admitted to the hospital for a second shot at treatment, she weighed 81 pounds. The issue of eating disorders is so prevalent in young girls (as well as men and women) today. The numbers are no where near accurate, as many are very good at hiding their disorder. For this young girl, her battle started when she just wanted to "lose a few pounds" and be like the other dancers in her peer group. A few pounds quickly turned into a full-blown eating disorder. Though it sounds strange outright, I thank God that she began having migraines, because that is what led her parents to take her to the doctor. They had no idea (because she had become very skilled at hiding her drop in weight) she was starving herself. But that is when she was diagnosed and they began the long road of getting her help.

This little girl (because that's what she is at only 14, for heaven's sake- a little girl) cannot look in the mirror without seeing "fat." If you and I were to look in that same mirror, we would see skin and bones; because at this point, she has no more muscle mass. The lies that pour into her mind tell her that she is not thin enough and she needs to be thinner. My heart breaks over this very thought. What has this world come to when a 14 year old girl can't see how absolutely beautiful she is, and will literally risk her life to be just that much thinner?

At this point in her journey, she cannot see the harm she is doing to herself. She acknowledges that people die from eating disorders; she knows the facts- she's a smart girl. And yet, she is willing to risk it because she doesn't think it can happen to her. She admits to her disorder, but is actually proud of it. She's not ready to get the help she so desperately needs. While at the first treatment facility, she learned all the tricks to falsifying her weight so the staff would think she was gaining the required weight. You would think that an eating disorder treatment facility would also know all those tricks and would prevent them....but that's another issue I won't get into right now. Her parents are doing everything in their power to make sure she gets the treatment she needs while they still have the legal right to do so. This young girl is just yearning for the day she is not a minor so she can be left alone to live her life as she pleases....eating disorder included.

Now she is making her second attempt at treating her disorder; or I should say that her parents are. Because of the way the laws are written, her parents fought insurance companies to get her the life-saving help she so desperately needed. Because of the way the laws are written, her parents lost against the insurance companies, as the treatment center pushed their daughter through treatment as quickly as possible because she couldn't receive adequate coverage because it wasn't a "hospital." They were even told that many girls leave the center before they are ready because of insurance. The consequences of bureaucracy were that she didn't get the treatment she needed at the center, and had to be admitted to the hospital a week ago because of the dangerous weight she was hovering at. Despite the fact that it cost twice as much to receive treatment in a hospital than it did at this center, insurance wouldn't pay for it because it wasn't a "hospital." How on earth does that make sense?

So here is where I make my plea: there is a pending legislation that requires insurance companies to cover the treatment of eating disorders. Right now, there are 5 bills pending in the Texas House of Representatives:
  1. Rose—H.B. 1418
  2. Coleman—H.B. 2967
  3. Coleman—H.B. 2969
  4. Coleman—H.B. 2976
  5. Farabee—H.B. 868

To read the text of a bill, go to the Texas Legislature web site at Enter the bill number (ex. HB 1418) in the "Search Legislation" box at the top of the page. You will then see a screen reporting all action on that bill to date. If you click on the "Text" tab at the top, you will be able to obtain a copy of the text of the bill.

Here's what you can do:

1. Contact Representatives Rose, Coleman and Farabee and tell them:"I support changing the law so that "Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified" are added to the list of "Serious Mental Illnesses" in the Texas Insurance Code. Eating disorders are the most lethal of psychiatric illnesses and they should be treated as such."

2. Contact the members of the Insurance Committee, especially John Smithee and tell them that you support the changing the law.

3. Contact any other representative you wish and let them know the same thing.

4. Pass this information to your family and friends and ask them for their support in this effort. Let them know that we need a lot of help bringing this very important issue to the attention of our lawmakers.

5. Please pray for my cousin as she battles this life threatening disorder.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

em • ployed, adj.-

em • ployed, adj.- working; having your services engaged for; utilized; put to use; having a job especially one that pays wages or a salary
After long months of prayer and waiting, God has finally spoken through the stillness: I got a job offer today!!! I cannot put into words the relief and joy that flooded my day! It was as though the floodgates burst open and all of the long-awaited blessings came gushing out. The days of uncertainty for this trial are over. I am super excited about this new opportunity, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store.
I will be making a career jump...from event coordination to insurance. Which is so completely random, and yet so completely God. I have to admit: it was hard to let go of my dreams. It was difficult to walk away from all that I had worked and hoped for. I would be lying if I said I let it go without a fight. And yet while I wrestled with God, He slowly opened my grip and gently nudged me to take that last step of faith in a long series of steps of faith. I really had to question Him on this one: Insurance, Lord? Really? It was something that was so far out of the realm of my thinking that I just couldn't believe He could possibly use me there. And yet, here I find myself...and overjoyed, no less!
One by one, God closed the doors on event coordination. It was a painful process, but one I had to endure. I don't think God has closed them for good; but I do think He has other things to do with me before He lets me go back to those dreams. And after deep prayer, and ultimately complete surrender, I am ok with that. And so now in faith, I am walking through the door that God has swung open for me...God has good plans for me. And I can't wait to see what He will do in the coming months...
So, ummm....I HAVE A JOB! I just like saying it- haha. I have a job. I am employed. I can join the ranks of employment again. What a blessing from God, especially in this troubled economy and failing job market. I really like the company I will be working for. Over the past 10 weeks in my temporary work with them, I have grown to enjoy the people I work with. I am unsure of what exactly is ahead for me, as I am diving into something that is outside my comfort zone, or really my realm of knowledge. But I do know that this is the place God has for me, and I know that He will be with me every step of the way. His timing is perfect, His gifts are good, His blessings are abundant. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Great Weekend!

I had a really great long weekend! Thursday night, I went to another Singles Night Out: this time we went to Adventure Landing for a night of go-karts, putt-putt golf, and good old fashioned video games. It was really fun to hang out and get to know more people in the group. My church recently instituted these Singles Nights Out, in an effort to meet the needs of the young singles in our 20s group. We started out by racing go-karts, and in the words of Nathan, "go-karts just never get old." Then we broke off into groups to play a little putt-putt; I had 3 holes-in one! Definitely my lucky night- haha. Before we headed over to Sonic for dessert, Nathan and Lindsey teamed up to play a game of Ocean Hunter. It was a really fun night!

I did work on Friday, but they let everyone go at 2:30, which allowed me to head home to San Antonio a day early! I was able to surprise my mom and grandparents by arriving at family good friday; she wasn't expecting me until the following morning. Saturday we had some good family time, as Michael was in town too. We went to church that night, then out to eat at Mamacita's. It's always a requirement to have Mexican food when I go home. It's just not the same anywhere else. Easter Sunday we spent at my other grandparents' house, so it was good to see family. I hadn't seen anyone since Christmas (which they all made sure to remind me of- haha).

I took Monday off because I had another doctor's appointment in San Antonio. Things went well with the doctor...good news is that I am healthy and there are no long-term effects of the medication I am on. So I am pretty sure the migraines are stress-related. Anyway, it was nice to be home this weekend. It had been too long, and I enjoyed being home with my family.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

"As the echo
of the crunching of the fruit
was still sounding in the garden,
Jesus was leaving
for Calvary..."
~ Max Lucado, Everyday Blessings

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Do This in Memory of Me

This evening, I was able to participate in a Passover Seder. The 20s group at my church invited Chris Kaltuka from Friends of Israel to walk us through a traditional Jewish Seder. I was so excited to attend! It was so great to hear the history behind the Jewish celebration, and even more exciting to connect what I have learned in BSF this past year about the origination of the Passover. To see the pages of Exodus come alive was so cool! Chris walked us from beginning to end, explaining what each Jewish family would do to prepare for the Passover and how they teach their children to "remember what the Lord has done." We ate the bitter herbs and unleavened bread. It was such a great way to start this week as we look ahead to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In celebrating the Passover the way a Jewish person would, my heart broke for the Jewish people. In their very own ceremony, they use a greek word "afikoman." Translated in Greek, it means "He came." They place a full piece of unleavened bread in the top pocket of an afikoman bag, a broken piece in the middle, and another whole piece in the bottom. It represents God, the broken body of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But they miss the important piece: He came! That broken piece represents Christ, whose body was broken for the forgiveness of sins. The Messiah has already come, was crucified, and was resurrected! And yet, they don't believe that. They are still waiting in anticipation for the promised Messiah. They still hold a seat open for Elijah, not connecting that "Elijah" (John the Baptist) has already come! God's chosen people walked with Him in the Old Testament, learned of His promises, and were present at the time of His miraculous signs and His covenants. Learning that they still live under the old covenant made my heart break for their salvation in Christ.

On a related note, can I just say how much I LOVE my church?!?! God has blessed me so abundantly through Woodcreek, and I cannot thank Him enough for the sweet Christian fellowship that I have found here. I searched for a year for a church, so I am definitely grateful for this faithful body of believers. To be encouraged in genuine Christian fellowship is such a blessing! And I absolutely love the 20s group. I have never met more genuine people; they honestly love and care for each other in a way I have never experienced before. I am excited as I continue to get more connected. In addition to church and the Gathering (our 20s group on Sunday mornings), I have been attending Singles Night Out events (which have been SO fun), and I am attending the women's retreat at Pine Cove in a couple of weeks. I praise God for providing such an amazing group of believers, both in the congregation and in the 20-somethings!

Do You Think My Dog is Fat?

Yesterday I took Sasha for a run; it was a beautiful day and we both needed to release some energy. When I got back into my apartment complex, I was stopped by one of our new maintenance guys. He saw me with Sasha and stopped to ask me if my dog was going to have puppies soon. I was so caught off guard by this question, but managed to politely tell him "no, she's actually just a puppy herself." I am sure he was just trying to make conversation. But when other people have done that, they have always asked me if I was going to breed her. People find my dog attractive (she gets a lot of compliments for being a "beautiful dog"), and wonder if I will let her have puppies. Of course, these people don't realize that I got my dog spayed as soon as the vet would let me, so that's out of the question. One Sasha is enough for me. Another thing people don't realize is that she isn't a full-bred lab. Her daddy was a boxer. But she looks like a lab. To the untrained eye, I could see how people can make this mistake.

But this question was just so out of the ordinary. And the more I have thought about it, the more I have been put off by it. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am wholly offended by the question. The protective mama instinct in me immediately wonders if my dog was insulted and called fat. LOL. Now, you have to understand that I realize my Sasha is not the smallest dog. At a whopping 80 pounds, she is a far cry from a lap dog. And I also realize that my dog has added a few pounds to her physique in recent months. It is completely my fault, as it became difficult to run her every day like she is used to. In recent weeks, though, we have gotten back into our exercise routine, but even so, my dog was never fat. I even put her on a strict workout regimen and portioned controlled diet. I realize that is extreme, but the vet had told me that I had to monitor her weight while she was young so she wouldn't have hip problems when she got older. I will do anything to extend my dog's life and avoid extra vet bills.

So when this man asked me if my dog was pregnant...I couldn't help but think of when a woman is asked if she is pregnant (and she is not). Of course, Sasha knew no difference; she thought he was a new friend to meet. She had no idea he had just insulted her. But I knew. LOL. I have been trying to look at her from all angles to see if she could be mistaken for pregnant. And while I am biased, I just don't see it. She does have a more pronounced chest than normal labs; but that's part of her boxer traits. And that's the wrong end of her body for someone to think she is pregnant. And why would I be running my pregnant dog? So what do you think? Do you think my dog is fat?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Mysterious Migraine

I had an appointment with my neuro-opthamologist yesterday, and in the words of my mother, "it's only migraines." Haha. As crazy as that is a praise that it really is just that and nothing more serious. Although, as I type this, I realize that it's crazy that I have my own neuro-opthamologist. Who else can say that? I have never been one to have normal sicknesses or diagnoses...nope. Always the weird stuff. What can I say? God made me "special." LOL

The doctor said that the spots in my vision, particularly the blinding light in my right eye, was a classic symptom of a migraine. Apparently, you can have a migraine that consists of headache, nausea, vision problems, or any combination of those symptoms. Luckily I have only experienced bad, though tolerable, headaches. Oh, and the vision issue only once. Migraines are genetic, and I have 2 aunts that suffer from migraines. I just might be the lucky one who got picked in the gene pool to get them. Of course. He also said they could be stress-induced. Which makes sense, considering the last year of my life. He also said it could be related to the medication I am taking. I already have doctor's appointments scheduled to address those concerns, in case that medication is the direct cause, or if it increased my risk of getting them.

So for the next four weeks, I am supposed to keep a headache diary to chart when I get migraines, what might have triggered them, etc. He gave me some sample medications (for those who speak migraine-lingo, he gave me an abortive and a rescue drug; after the 4 weeks, he will determine if I need a preventive...please pray that I don't!) The bad thing about all the medications is that they are supposed to make you drowsy. Translation: can't be taken during the day if I want to function like a normal human being. And I really don't want to be on any medications. So basically, I am on a mission to (a) find out what caused them in the first place, (b) find out what the triggers are for me so I can avoid those things, and (c) monitor to see if this is situational or something that will stick around for awhile. Good news is that he said it's unrelated to the swelling on my optic nerves; there just happened to be something else wrong with me- lol.

I am trying to do my research, because I don't want these suckers to stick around and/or get worse. I have friends who suffer from what I have always thought of as a migraine (severe headache, nausea, extreme light sensitivity). The doctor said there is the possibility mine could escalate to that...which makes me all that more determined to figure this thing out so it doesn't reach that point (at least if it's in my power to change). I realized yesterday that I have had more doctor's appointments this year than I have had most of my life. So sad. But thank you, Lord for early diagnosis, good doctors, and good insurance.