Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Independent Study Portfolio

Valuable websites and links:

Brain cross-section diagram


Neurotransmitters: functions and treatments

Advances in Biology and the Treatment of Depression

Role of serotonin in ADHD/Treatment

Motivation and Learning

Memory: Stress and Trauma

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where the fight came from

Today I met a little girl in pink on the street corner, waiting shyly for the bus. I knew before I asked that she was in middle school because I liked her, and because she smiled at me even before I said hi. I asked about the construction across the street. What I really wanted was a way to just check in with her, make sure she was okay all by her little pink self with all those construction workers nearby. She said she went to Eisenhower Middle School and practically told me her address, to which I responded by practically telling her mine, just so we could both feel that the world was safe. I told her something like what I felt God wanted me to say to her in our tiny moment, that He loved her and thought she was wonderful. My words were kind of boomerangy, coming back to me without seeming to take root. She thanked me nicely and called back as I left that it was nice to meet me. So maybe something stuck.

This afternoon as I lay in my cozy bed, my body trying to convince my mind to nap, I prayed that God would "get her". I learned that little prayer from my mother. Now it is mine. These seem like such aggressive words from my shy but sturdy mum, I first thought, but then I remembered one incident that showed her spitfire. The neighbor boys in the house next door were perpetually nasty to my brothers and I growing up. They might've been mean to Holly too, but most people can't find it in them to mock a toodling three year old. Anyway, on more than one occasion the neighbors found ways to send John, Mark or I sprinting indoors, teary, shouting tiny threats, but really just wanting the comfort of our mother. One day mom had enough. She marched over to those neighbor boys' mother, fists clenched at her side, and she told her exactly what was going on and what she thought. And the neighbor mother yelled back, but my mom held her ground, just like that. If we had listened to metal back then, I would've been chanting Twisted Sister after her: "We're not going to take it! No, we ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it anymore!" But I didn't have to. Mom did the hard work, the standing up for the little sad, scared ones.

She usually does that, in her quiet way, but sometimes, when necessary, in a loud way. I'm proud of her, because she is way bigger than she thinks she is, and is making a bigger splash in eternity than she knows. I always want her to write a book and tell her story, to stand on a stage and let the universe, or a woman's book club, know how much of a hero she is and how much she has overcome. They would ooh and aah at her grit and tenacity, and go home and start a revolution. But she quotes Henri Nouwen almost every time I bring up this idea. "Sometimes God calls us to smallness." She means it. As long as I can remember, she's been a silent conqueror, one with a sign outside an abortion clinic, inviting woman entering to choose motherhood instead. Or quietly but fiercely forgiving the massive wounds inflicted on her before she was big enough to defend herself. Or for me, an ear instead of a mouth when I had a problem. She's a real soldier - that must be where my brother in Iraq got his cajones, and where I got my Joan of Arc ferocity at the smell of injustice. From my mother, I've learned to fight and pray and listen. And I think those all fall under the category of love, when we do them at the right time. And Love is the greatest command. It always wins in the end.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trust that doesn't disappoint

I can tell my little world is spinning toward a change, but my brain is moving slower than the rest of me and hasn't quite caught up. For the past month, I've slept in, went to late lunches, shopped, visited family and friends in Kansas City, and floated about as I pleased. I've enjoyed my condensed - and last ever - little summer. I think it's been good for Josh and I as well because we've had so much free time together.

I can't help but wonder a little if I've forgotten how to work. Or what is life like when I have somewhere to be? I still don't have my internship for next year, but I do have someone who wants to work with me and is trying to squeeze me in somewhere in his practice. I am learning to trust God again because I really can't control how this turns out. It's interesting to see him do what it seems he loves to do - wait until the last minute. Now I know that God is not a procrastinator like I usually am. But it is interesting how he waits until the deadline to bring something I need, like money or a job or whatever. It's like the whole time he's asking, "Do you trust me?" And I'm saying, "Yes, but can you please hurry." Is that really trust?

This time I am not so stressed. I have seen God bring the needed thing at the seemingly last possible second enough times to know it will come. I know it will come. Not because I am doing anything right, but because he loves me. My job is simply to get better at trusting - it makes it easier on both of us. I'll be offering an update on this as soon as God comes through again. It will be a good story too, I'm sure, as it always is.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ambitions and shameless self-promotion

I'm starting some freelance writing, trying to share my "word prowess" with the neighborhood and make a little money. Check out my writer's profile:

View Siders Works

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Taking from Lakeland: Living while remembering

After leaving an environment where anything is possible, it's hard to come back to Manhattan. Anything is possible in Manhattan too because it's still the same God, but it doesn't feel that way. In some ways, it was like Lakeland was this mini ecosystem where the rules of sickness and death did not apply. Outside the tent, the world was dark and scary and pain was free to wreak its havoc. But inside the tent it was different. As I write, I realize that I am simply describing, in another way, the kingdom of heaven. Where the kingdom of heaven reigns, the world's rules don't apply anymore. The kingdom of heaven rules in that tent. The question is: why? What brings the kingdom of heaven to rule in a place?

Several people have asked me what I am taking home with me after Lakeland. I don't feel different to be honest. I saw things I've never seen before, but in some ways, it was so surreal, it was hard to comprehend. I know for a fact people were being healed before my eyes, but I have no paradigm for this sort of lifestyle. I want to believe this is possible here, in my world - Lord, help my unbelief - but the challenge is that everything and everyone in Manhattan looks the same as when I left. On Saturday night, Todd Bentley challenged the crowd with Psalm 78. The Psalm reminded the Israelites what happened when they forgot the great works of the Lord. They forgot how God led them victoriously out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River, conquered their enemies, brought food literally out of the sky, and kept their clothes in tact for 40 years while they wandered the desert. I've had miracles of all sorts in my own life, and I praised God for them and loved living in that kind of faith. But after a while, when paychecks are regular and life speeds up, I forgot. Just like the Israelites, I forgot.

I'm not sure how to do it yet, but the cure seems to be regularly practicing remembrance. I should probably have a list of things God does for me, big ones, small ones, things I see him do for other people. I'm not sure how to incorporate this into my every day life with God, but maybe it would just be taking a minute or two to run through a Thank You list. I'm not going to announce what I will do or how it will go, but I want to be a grateful version of myself, a girl who remembers how big and how great her Father is. That's my goal. And I plan to get there by thanking God for just some of what he does every day. I can start now, I suppose.

God, thank you for healing that boy of his deafness. Thank you for healing the girl of the tremors she was born with. Thank you for reversing the MS and the paralysis in that woman on Saturday. Thank you for healing me and my dad of our migraines on Saturday. Thank you for healing Leland of his carpal tunnel syndrome last week. Thank you for healing Dawn of Cystic Fibrosis in June. Thank you for healing that guy I prayed for of his back pain on Thursday night. Thank you for letting me hear your voice and share the encouragement with Daniel on Friday night. Thank you for bringing an even deeper level of emotional freedom for me over the whole weekend. Thank you for providing employment and finances for Josh and I. We never go without. Dad, you are a merciful Father and a generous God. Let your people remember and never forget your goodness and graciousness to us. And may your kingdom come to Manhattan, KS.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Taking in Lakeland Part One

God likes to do things out in “nowhere”. Since he is God, this is his exclusive privilege. And it seems it brings him a sort of ticklish joy to do it. With this in mind, I should have expected Lakeland. If I had ever heard of it, that is. The Lakeland Outpouring is housed (technically) in about three massive pavilions next to the Florida Air Museum. A grassy field with treacherous potholes and sand for earth is our parking lot. A sign on the chain link fence prohibits food or drink beyond the entrance, but once you’re at that point, you can easily see the vendors hocking their hot dogs and sodas twenty feet away. Seems capitalism is inescapable. The hum of voices, music and anticipation leak from under the body of a white plastic skin hung over a steel skeleton. The impromptu church stretches out over about two and a half football fields worth of earth.

Walking into the tent, the atmosphere changes, something mixed with Spirit and expectation. The mixed murmurs of music and voices turn to a dull roar. Now we have to lean into each other’s ears to be heard. Looking up into the belly of the pavilion, the white tent reminds me of two airplane hangers, side by side. It’s the US, so the tent is air-conditioned. Fans exhale loudly into our left ears while we strain and hope to hear the practicing band over the din.

Large portions of the globe are represented here on any given night. Last night Sweden was the loudest. The Swedish youth took turns wearing their nation’s flag. Turning it vertically, they draped it across the shoulders like a cape, allowing the blue and yellow design to form a cross down their backs. They had strangely blonde hair and fierce abandon. I thought to myself that this sort of love of Jesus often comes from being one of few in a Jesus-less society. I wondered how alone they were as Christians in their Socialist country. I pictured them huddled together in some corner of Sweden, meeting in each other’s homes, the only ones who understood each other. The preacher called them onto the stage at one point during the evening. Their desperation and intensity was evident. They cried out under our prayers and fell prostrate under the Spirit, almost each of them parallel to the stage at one moment or another.

In the tent, I am more aware of people with injuries – limps, crutches, wheelchairs – and I find myself thinking they should not be that way. The power of God to heal seems more accessible here. But why? Perhaps because someone else came here before me and believed first. I’m not sure. I can tell that possibilities surround us. Anyone I could approach in this place would need prayer: the people behind me, in front of me, next to me. I am aware of my belief and my unbelief. I want to pray for the ones I see because I know God can heal. But will he? Marlene and I prayed for a woman’s toe and her pain left, most or all the way. Thank you God! I had pain in my back and I could tell it was for someone around me. I finally found the man who had the back pain I was feeling. I prayed for him once and nothing. We talked through some of the blocks, another seat neighbor prayed for him, my sympathetic back pain returned, I prayed for him again, and by the time we left that night, the back pain he had since he was five years old was getting better. Praise God! Josh and I prayed for a woman at Wal-Mart with pain in her both her knees. When we were done, her pain was still there. The steel body of Wal-Mart apparently did not house the same power or pulsing expectation. But why not? God is the same everywhere though, right? It’s so hard to know why some are healed and some aren’t. Is it lack of faith, unforgiveness, God’s will? There is so much I still don't understand. But I want to be bold. I've seen God heal. I've experienced his healing for myself. I'm going to tell the stories, remind myself of how great he is, and expect him to move in power again and again.

More to come...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Something in the water

It's funny how influenced I find myself to be when "everyone else" is doing something. I'm almost afraid to write this, but my fear of becoming a mother - earlier than planned - is dwindling rather quickly. And I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm finding myself more and more around pregnant people - mostly woman, that is. They show off their bellies proudly. We poke and prod the invisible human inside. The invisible person kicks back. We look up names on the internet. We marvel at the sheer mystery of how a woman walks around, doing life, with an entirely separate - yet dependent - life inside of her. It's like thinking about how long forever is. You start to think about it and your brain begins to smoke.

I suppose it should not surprise me, if I am so easily influenced; I'm feeling this strangely familiar, but totally new, craving creeping up in me. It's like I was made to feel this way, like it was just a matter of time. And for most women, it is. I have this comfortable desire to watch my belly swell, to feel motion inside of it that is not just last night's pizza, but life, hope, a beautiful spirit with creativity and imagination and joy and pain all mixed together. And I helped give life to this spirit. She will have my eyes and his hair. She will be a great audience like me and make up her mind for good like him. She will speak three languages easily and not quit ballet. She might do all of these or non of these, but it's all a lovely mystery to even dream of.

Not four months ago, I was a tearful mess that I would get pregnant in the first year and my life would be over. Now, it wouldn't be so bad if it happened. Who have I become? More myself, I suppose. Just a new season, perhaps. I don't really know what influenced me. There isn't a date I can look back to know when the change came. It just did.

Don't get me wrong. I still want to wait. I want to be the best version of myself that I can offer the little brood of Siders that come along, whether I give birth to them, adopt them, foster them or mother them in any way. I know that once I am a mother, I will be forever changed. Tonight I am the girl with quiet nights with Josh and lots of time to play the piano. I am the girl who eats most of the ice cream in the freezer and stops for fast food more than I want to admit. Once I am mother, she will be gone. On that day, it will be okay. But for now, I will enjoy my freedom. My body ticks with the biological clock, but there is plenty of time for children-joy. I don't want to miss the newlywed bliss in these next moments with Josh. There is still plenty to be soaked up. And then some.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The rules do not apply

Lately, God has been taking the lesson of "living in the kingdom" to a deeper level for me. I've become aware of a faulty mentality I've been living with. I've noticed lately that it is hard to tell what makes me different from anyone else I meet, people who do not know God. I might not gossip or swear and I attend plenty of church activities. But my life was not defined by any sort of real power or greatness that would leave any outsider wanting in. This is because my primary worldview, I realized, looked exactly like everyone else around me. The world-mind is afraid of a declining economy, the war in Iraq, death and pestilence, unemployment rates and bad grades. The world-mind runs around looking for problems in a perfectly good moment and secretly believes that Murphy's law is not just a theory. The world-mind worries that the cancer and high blood pressure from parents and grandparents will inevitably be passed down; it is only a matter of time. The world-mind stocks its basement and its bank account for "a rainy day" and nuclear war. The world-mind knows that if we do not take care of ourselves, no one else will. In the world, we are orphans and we are the only ones who will take up our cause. There is no one to defend us.

These are the fears of the world-mind and for those who live under its government, these are genuine concerns. Sin rules in this world and contamination, sickness and death are realities for a mind who is under the jurisdiction of the ruler of the air. I don't want to live in a world like this. And I don't have to.

When my spirit was re-born, these rules ceased to apply to me. I now live in a different kingdom. I am being transformed as my mind is renewed. This must be what is meant by living in the world but not of it. You may have an address in the world, but you do not have to live under its laws, fear what it fears, or move as it moves, in opposition with the laws of the one who made it. No wonder the earth "groans" for the sons and daughters of God to be revealed. The earth itself, the very soil, is longing for those who understand the laws of the one who made it and can govern it with those rules so it can give birth and flourish as it was intended. In this kingdom, we learn to move in rhythm, not in conflict, with the frequencies and motions of the Creator. He is teaching me His dance.

Let me tell you about his world. In his world, there is no sickness. He hates sickness so it has been outlawed. Only beauty and holiness here. So if we are sick or dead when he come into his world, we will be brought to life. In this kingdom kindness and mercy are valued more highly than judgment. The King even says he "delights to show mercy". So if we are wrong when we come into his world, we can become right. If we are guilty, we become forgiven. If we are shameful, we will stand confident. If we are crooked, we are re-aligned. If we are wounded, then we are healed: mind, spirit, body and emotions. If we give, then we receive even more. If we die (to a life that was dead anyway), then we get an abundant trade-in of authentic life. If a crop of goodness has ever been stolen from us, we will reap twice what we lost. Beauty and imagination galore enchant the audience of the King as he never ceases to create, to speak, to sing. Music and color flow from the King's throne and bring him delight as we, his creations, grab a hold of a wave or two, fashion it into a worship, and send it back to the throne from which it came.

I cannot forget my favorite part. In this world, the King IS love. He does not feel it from time to time, if the conditions are right. He is love itself. Love rules this world and is valued above obedience, cleanliness and good behavior. Why? Because love in our lives wins over sin. It results in obedience, cleanliness and good behavior. When we are in love, we simply cannot help but be lovely and gracious and self-sacrificing. It is no on wonder that Love is the greatest law in this world, the ultimate Ace of Spades. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. Love should swallow up our entire beings. And isn't this what we long for, to be swallowed whole by a good thing, instead of constantly feeling hunted and haunted by what we know is dead and sad and wrong?

If I live in the kingdom of God, then his government is over me and his rules now apply to me. I don't have to worry about getting sick, running out, or falling short. Death has no sting, famine is not bigger than his power to provide and failure is not the end of the story. I want to bring this kingdom with me wherever I go. When I arrive somewhere, I want its rules to apply in that place when I leave. This is my inheritance as God's child.

Lord, teach me your ways. I want to walk in the truth and beauty of your laws and bring them with me wherever I go. Let it be. Amen.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Today I was told by a couple women in one of my classes that I am "sophisticated". As soon as someone makes a comment like this to me, I am quick to refute it. I scoffed at the compliment at first, mostly because I was sure they were joking. They weren't.

I was reminded of the (sometimes massive) disparity between how I see myself and how others see me. Am I really seen as sophisticated to some? I'm under the impression that many of those who know me well see me as creative (and flighty), whimsical but articulate, and usually authentic. I think to myself, the better you know me, the more my elite qualities, like sophistication, dissolve. My first response to this is that these people surely do not know me. But is there a chance that there is something in me that I just don't see?

I'm not sure how to answer that. Maybe these women and I have different definitions of sophistication. I find myself being a little more self-conscious as I observe myself interacting with the world. What do they see that I don't? I want to see it too.

I think this is a common response when someone tells us we possess a quality in ourselves we only hope to have. I always admire sophistication in people, but to have it myself....?

I'm curious as to the experience of others in regards to discrepancies between your view of yourself and how other people see you. It seems that people are more likely to view us with more respect and admiration than we would ever suspect.

PS: This is not a cry for compliments. I feel good about myself today. :) Just let me know your own experience with this.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back to the writing board

I haven't blogged in about a year and a half so it'll take me a few minutes (possibly even days) to get back into it. With that in mind, I'm not going to try to be clever. I'm going to just leave this open with the hope that a few of the gazillion thoughts that pass through my head in a given day will eventually make their way here.

Good night.