Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mardi Gras 2016

Fifty one years ago today, my parents had their first date. It's easy to remember because their first date was to Mardi Gras day parades!

Growing up in South Florida, I didn't know much about Mardi Gras. We didn't have parades or throw beads or get off of school. Being Southern Baptist, we didn't observe Lent, either.

My first year at LSU was something of an eye-opener. For one thing, we got Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras off, so we had a four day weekend. As I recall, I stayed on campus for the weekend and just went to some Baton Rouge parades. I also noticed that the next day, Ash Wednesday, that a lot of people had black smudges on their foreheads. It turns out that they had gone to Mass in the middle of the day and gotten ashes smeared on their foreheads as part of the service. I've since learned what that actually means.

For the years that I lived in New Orleans, I actually went to the Mardi Gras parades. I lived downtown during my first two years, so I saw Endymion, Perseus, Rex, Zulu, and all the other traditional downtown parades. And I had the beads to prove it!

After PWM and I got married, we went to the Metairie parades. (Metairie is a New Orleans suburb.) For our first Mardi Gras together, we planned a party for the Monday before Mardi Gras. We were going to have dinner and then go the block from our apartment to watch the Caesar parade (I'm pretty sure). Unfortunately, we weren't able to have our party because I got appendicitis on Saturday night. Being in New Orleans which has two medical schools, I got seen by medical students and residents before the surgeon finally got called from watching a parade to see me. In any case, I had surgery Sunday morning and we canceled the party.

Now that we're in the Great White North, we follow the Mardi Gras season vicariously through our friends on Facebook. One year, we were down south during the Mardi Gras season (although not on Mardi Gras weekend). While PWM and I had dinner with a friend, Grandma took the kids to a Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parade. 

This year, we have Ashley with us who has never experienced anything like Mardi Gras. I found a recipe for a really quick king cake using crescent roll dough. I changed out the cream cheese filling for Nutella and decorated it like a king cake. Everyone loved it!!


I made jambalaya using a Zatarain's boxed mix. I had no idea if I would have a migraine today, so a mix ensured that we'd have dinner no matter what! The craziest thing is that I found frozen, boiled crawfish at our grocery store! I bought a bag, which was two servings. I didn't even pay attention to how much it cost, but I'm sure it wasn't cheap. I heated them up in the bag in a pot of boiling water. PWM and I were shocked! They were legit boiled crawfish! They tasted just like they would if we were at a crawfish boil in Baton Rouge! Ashley wasn't crazy about them. She said they were too salty. They do eat crawfish in China, but with different spices.


So, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Being non-liturgical protestants, we won't go to church or observe the day in a religious way, although I do pay some attention to the church calendar. I may write more about that in a day or two.

Have you had any fun (or not so fun) Mardi Gras experiences?


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Walking

I am not a big fan of physical exertion. My hobbies are, for the most part, sedentary. I like to read books and knit. Cooking requires movement, though. In any case, except for marching band in high school, I've preferred quiet and minimally physical things.

Which brings me to migraine and fibromyalgia. Both of these conditions are helped to some degree by exercise. And, of course, exercise is needed in to deal with obesity. So, I need exercise, whether I like it or not. Which, I don't.

So, I walk. Given my headaches, I don't walk every day, or even very far. When I was in college, I used to walk four miles several times a week. When I was working, I suspect that I walked several miles in the course of my job, plus walked around the neighborhood with the kids. But, now that I have chronic migraine, it's harder to find time to walk. Exercise tends to make my headaches worse. On a low pain day, I can walk some based on my pain level. On a high pain day, forget it!

For about half the year, I walk outside. I like the outdoors and I rarely listen to a book or music. I just enjoy the outside. I also tend to walk farther outside. I think it's because I get optimistic, so I walk a good long way and then I have to get back home!! When the weather is cold or otherwise not good for walking, I use the treadmill, which we just got a few months ago (our other one died). I tend to walk a shorter distance and slower on the treadmill for some reason. Yes, it's boring, but it's easy to listen to an audiobook or podcast or to watch TV. 

If I wanted to try to ridiculously spiritualize things, I could point out that Jesus walked everywhere with his disciples, so I'm just doing like Jesus. If you've read my blog any, you know that I like to say that the Christian life is walking with Jesus. (I know some people like to use their walking time for prayer, but I pray and meditate at a separate time every day.)

What do you do for exercise? How do you like it?

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Bits and PIeces February 2, 2016

I finally don't have a migraine and have a few minutes to blog. But, all the things that churn around in my head when I have a migraine are still all twirled and twisted like noodles in my brain. I'll untangle them a bit later. Tonight, a fun post about life here in Chez Martin!

Yes, I've been having migraines. What more is there to say about that?

School was canceled today for a huge snowstorm, but it appears that most of the snow went north of here. Nonetheless, the four or so inches that we did get made a mess of the roads today, so I'm glad nobody was out unnecessarily. We just sat around and played on our electronics all day.

Well, except me. I folded clothes that were washed about a week and a half ago. Because I'm on top of things that way. Truly, though, laundry is my nemesis. PWM tries to help out, so he did a load of colored clothes and started a load of white clothes that I promise (pinky swear!) to fold and put away tomorrow. Unless I have a migraine, in which case all pinky swears are null and void.

Food is becoming an item of interest in our house. Ashley and I went to an Asian grocery store in Appleton last week. We bought some taro root and bok choy, items I've never eaten or seen in a regular grocery store. Ashley made homemade noodles, fried potatoes, taro dipped in sugar, and stir-fried bok choy with garlic. It was all yummy, although the taro and bok choy have been the least favorite Asian foods that I've tried so far. The taro doesn't have much taste, so dipping it in sugar is a good thing. The bok choy tastes fine, but the texture isn't my favorite.

I tried some pork curry tonight. It had three ingredients: pork, coconut milk, and green curry paste (also from the Asian grocery story). I served it over white rice. It was delicious!! So, I might be becoming a bit more of an adventurous eater! At age 48! Who'd have thunk it?

For Rosie Girl's high school graduation three years ago (has it really been that long?), I made her a scrapbook that I was going to have printed and give to her. Sadly, I never finished it and forgot about it. I remembered it because I am making a scrapbook of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party and another for Wild Man's graduation, and another (small) one for Ashley. I got the newest edition of the software and proceeded to look for Rosie Girl's album - and couldn't find it.

We have a back-up drive for our computers that we haven't hooked up to our current computers but that was functioning when I made Rosie Girl's album. I couldn't figure out how to get onto the drive. One evening last week, PWM tried a few things and was about to give up when suddenly, the folder popped up!! I hadn't lost the album!! He gave me a thumb drive with the files on it! Talk about a hero!! I'm working feverishly on finishing Rosie Girl's album so I can work on the rest of them.

I updated my Goodreads account - go check it out! While I was there, it asked if I wanted to set a reading goal for this year. I declined. I read 54 books in 2015. I think I'm just fine in the reading department. I'll probably read fewer books this year because I discovered podcasting. Yes, I realize that podcasting has been around for quite a while. I used to listen to some podcasts about 8 or 10 years ago, but I just listened on the computer. This time, I found Stitcher, an app that will manage my podcast subscriptions without having to deal with itunes, which is nice since I use an Android phone. My guilty pleasure is true crime books and, now, podcasts. But, I also like history, and I found a couple of podcasts about history and historical oddities.

Something else fun that I can write about now!! PWM and I had our DNA tested at Ancestry.com last fall. It was completely and utterly unsurprising. Mine came out all British, Scandinavian, and Western European, just like all the old family stories say. Well, actually, there has been a story that there was Native American blood on my grandmother's side, but it was never proven. I also found out last year that some ancestor's on my mom's side were actually slave owners (which was shocking because my mom's side as far as I knew were economically disadvantaged whites) which meant that there was a possibility of African blood, but the DNA says not.

PWM's DNA said that he's about half Mediterranean which is his mother's Italian side. His other half is Western Europe which would correlate very well with his father's Cajun (French) roots. So, like I said, not many surprises. But, it was fun to have it done. And, I couldn't tell anyone because having it done was a Christmas gift for PWM's mom who loves genealogy.

I'm still reading the book of Mark - very slowly because I read with the Barclay commentary. I'm also reading Beginnings by Steve Wiens, which I'll write more about later because I really enjoy it.

That's all that's going on around here. More later when I get the tangle in my brain a little sorted out. What's up in your neck of the woods?


Monday, January 25, 2016

Walking with Jesus

Living life as a Christian is often described as a journey or as our "Christian walk". I like to think of it as "walking with Jesus". 

I've been reading in the book of Mark. So far, the main thing that has occurred has been Jesus calling his disciples. In Mark 3, he calls his twelve disciples "that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach."

According to Barclay commentaries (along with other reading I've done, but, hey, this is a blog and not a term paper, so I don't have to cite my sources), when someone followed a rabbi, or Jewish teacher in that time, they would walk with the teacher. The teacher would walk from town to town and teach in the synagogues, so his followers would walk with him. The teacher would teach them as they walked, and the followers would handle food and shelter when they got to the towns.

When Jesus was on earth, he was confined to just his earthly body, so he took only twelve disciples for his "entourage" during his time on earth. There were times when he sent them out to preach, but otherwise, the disciples were with him to learn his teachings.

It's 2016, and Jesus isn't on earth in bodily form anymore. But, we have the Holy Spirit, who's one with Jesus in the mystery we call the Trinity. If we have "united our lives with Christ", that is, have believed in Jesus, then we have the opportunity to walk with Jesus.

How do we do it? Some people teach that after belief in Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit and walking with him is a separate act. Well, it was for this first Christians. Check out the book of Acts. But, since then, once we believe, we've got the package deal. Which means that we get to walk with God (Jesus, Holy Spirit) right from the beginning.

The disciples walked with Jesus by, well, walking with Jesus. They walked, Jesus talked, they listened. It's not that much different for us. We have the Bible. And, in 2016, with high literacy levels in this country, we don't have much excuse for not knowing the teachings of Jesus. Just read the Gospels. There is the caveat that some stuff is a bit specific to the 1st century and there is a little sarcasm that we might not catch, so a good commentary is a good idea. 

(Note: There were lots of years where most people didn't have access to the Bible. Most people in Christendom learned from the priests what Jesus taught. I imagine it varied widely what people actually learned about the Bible.)

That's not to say that you shouldn't read the rest of the Bible!! Just start with the Gospels. Then move on to the rest of the New Testament and the Old Testament. And make sure you have good commentaries for both of those - there are things that can be pretty confusing if you don't have some background info.

The disciples got to have Jesus in the flesh right there with them. That must have been awesome! But, we have the same access to him through the Bible and through prayer. We can walk with Jesus just like the disciples, but without the calluses! Although walking is a great time for praying . . . 

This is my encouragement to let Jesus be your teacher. Walk with Jesus. Hang out with him. Tell him your worries and fears. Share your life with him. You won't regret it.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

What's up? January 23

So, what's up in our house these days?? The main thing going on with me has been serious fatigue!! That's part and parcel of chronic migraine, and I know that, but it has been worse than usual this week. 

I think it has to do with wrenching my back two weeks ago. I was putting Christmas decorations away and I checked to see if a box was too heavy for me to life. Guess what? it was too heavy for me! And I seriously pulled something/everthing in my low back.

The NP gave me some tramadol for a week, but it wasn't doing much. I went back and saw my doctor who decided we'd better get aggressive with steroids, a lidocaine patch, and some stronger pain meds. That was definitely a good combination. My back isn't back to normal, but it's much better. And I slept for 12 hours last night and I'm not quiet as exhausted today.

(On a professional note, I've never used lidocaine patches for low back pain, but I'm really convinced of their usefulness! And, it keeps me from using systemic meds which have all kinds of negative repercussions for me.)

OK, on to something besides my medical conditions. We're still loving having Ashley, our exchange student, around. She likes to cook and was perfecting her chicken wing recipe for a contest at school, so we got lots of yummy chicken wings last week and week before. Delish! She's something of an artist and has been working on some watercolor art. And, she and Rosie Girl are taking a HipHop class together on Monday nights. Lots of fun. Well, except that it was about 0 degrees last Monday night. The joys of living in the Great White North.

Finals at the high school were this week. Wild Man pulled his first all-nighter. Apparently, it paid off. He got all his assignments finished with the grades he was hoping for. Yesterday the kids had off school for teacher workday, so I was at home with four teenagers. I always wanted to have the house where the kids came over to congregate!!

PWM and I are organizing using Getting Things Done, a well-known organizational book, and Chaos Control, a computer app that uses the GTD techniques. So, guess what??? I have a label maker!!!! We've both gotten our in-box and out-box situations taken care of as well as how information flows. Now, I get to organize the files. When my back quits hurting, I also get to clean the basement and throw away paper that's too old. I'm so excited!! It's really just the label-maker that's got me going!!

I'm reading a couple of good books right now - check me out on goodreads.com (catherine martin). One that I want to tell you about here, though, is beginnings by Steve Weins. The author goes through the days of creation and tells stories and does a meditation. I bought it because I love the guy's writing. But, the books is just amazing. On the first day, he talks about light and the spiritual discipline he encourages is the examen, or daily review. How powerful that is in just the week that I've tried it. And I've missed it so much when I haven't used it. I've just finished Day 3. There's so much to absorb. I haven't come across a book like this in a really long time. I'll write a real review when I'm finished, but I just wanted to gush a little tonight.

I think the only other real excitement is that I made jicama pancakes to have with our tacos for dinner tonight. They were better than I expected. So, if you've got a jicama that you don't know what to do with, check out Food Network for the jicama pancake recipe.

I'm too tired to talk politics and how our country is going to hell in a handbasket. Here's praying that you're having a lovely evening.


And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Faith

First, you need to  go read this blog at Storied Theology by Daniel Kirk. It's called "Giving up on Faith", but it's really just about faith.

Back now? OK. I have mentioned before that my dad considers a good working definition of faith to be "uniting life", so that when we become Christians, we are uniting our lives with Christ. And that really works as a definition.

I linked Kirk's article, because he brings out some of the same themes. Faith is more than just mental assent to some theological assertions. And that won't do. Believing that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected isn't enough for salvation. And, if you believed that, why wouldn't your life change?

In actuality, Jesus makes the first move toward us by faithfully obeying God through his death, burial, and resurrection. Our job is to be faithful, or to unite our lives with Christ. But, Christ has already done the heavy lifting. Romans 1:5 says that "through him we receive the obedience that comes through faith."

Salvation and the abundant life here on earth are gifts to us by God's grace. We don't earn them. But, uniting our lives with Christ produces faithfulness and righteousness in our lives. They fit together. Grace and faith go together.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Still Grieving . . .

It's been almost ten years since I've worked as a family doctor. Ten years of chronic migraine. 

I was reading a book today about what are the seeds God put in me to sprout. What is it that God has given me that I will never retire from? What is that thing that God put me on Earth to do?

I thought that was medicine. Not every day working was a great day, but, overall, I loved my career. I delivered babies. I did pediatrics. I saw adults and took care of acute medical problems as well as managing chronic medical issues. And I had nursing home patients.

But, then came the acute migraines. Which morphed into chronic migraine. And added chronic daily headache on top of that.

Between my pain and my medications, I can't practice medicine. And I really miss it. Really miss it.

According to my counselor, the grief won't ever really go away; it just changes. Hopefully, I'm into the acceptance stage of it now. But, it still hurts.

Grieving the loss of my career doesn't mean that I can't appreciate what I do have. I have an amazingly supportive family that has made adjustments as needed over these last ten years. I'm fortunate to have had a good employer so that I have good long-term disability insurance. I have a good neurologist, so my pain is under better control. And a family doctor and counselor who manage my depression.

And, when all is said and done, I know that God loves me and his grace is supporting me. John 6:33 "In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart, I have overcome the world."

So, I take heart.