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GFA Field story…Literacy…something every American takes for granted

Over 250 million Women in Asia are illiterate

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Ever have those times when you’ve been waiting and waiting for something to happen…and then it does and you’re super excited, but then something else happens that counteracts what you’d been waiting for? Well, even if you haven’t…that just happened to me…

What exactly? Well, here’s what happened. I’ve been praying and praying about a job and what God would have me do now that I’m home…and yet nothing really has seemed to happen. Then, about a month ago, or so, I had job “offers” from two different sources. I was excited, yet not sure what to do…one was a M-F full-time job at a bank…yet in Dallas, which would mean commuting to work every morning (early and in rush hour traffic…). The other was as a doctor’s assistant – helping him out with patient charts/forms, filling out paperwork, etc. Basically speeding up his time so he could see more patients. Neither of them were certain, but both had come from people who knew my family, rather than me looking for them. I had first heard of the bank one…so had followed up with that, yet didn’t hear back from management at all. The second was mentioned to me by the doctor’s wife, who also happens to be a part of the same homeschool group my family goes to. Since I was actually hearing back from her about it, things progressed quickly, and I was able to meet with the doctor. I did and he explained what I would be doing, and said he would like to work with me. I would need some training with his partner’s medical assistant (going with the doctor on rounds in a nursing home/rehab center)- which would kinda be the trial run, to see if I would be comfortable with it. It sounded great, as he was a believer, and had even met his wife when helping TM with something one summer 15+ years ago…so he knew where I was coming from! Yet there were still a lot of unknowns. It turns out I would most likely end up driving further for that job than the bank one…and details remained ellusive until the last minute. I did train one day with the other MA (that’s what they call medical assistants…) and it seemed like it would be alright. Yet, when I would actually start working…that was another matter. The date kept getting changed…and changed again…

I was finally able to meet up with the doctor to get my check from training (which was very generous), and talked faced to face again. It turns out that the group/network he was with decided to change his schedule on him, so that he wouldn’t be working in the nursing homes nearly as much, only two mornings a week, in fact, which wouldn’t really be what I was looking for, as I would certainly like to work more hours than that…so it didn’t look like it would work out after all.

It didn’t end completely on a bad note, as he gave me the name and number of another lady who worked with (indirectly, however) a clinic much closer to my home that needed a full-time medical assistant/office worker. I was then able to contact her and send her my resume…and have yet to really hear back on this one. The Lord knows what the outcome will be! He will have to move on this one, though, as I don’t really think that I’m qualified enough that they would hire me  if there is any competition….But God is faithful and He knows what He is doing!

Please pray that the Lord would make it clear what He would have me to do…as while all this has been going on over the past month, I’ve also been think and praying a lot about the possibility of pursuing joining the GFA staff team. It wouldn’t be easy, and it’s not a join-and I’ll start working and be paid…as I would need to raise support full-time. For those of you who have been with TM, it’s a bit different than the way support is approached for your intern year, cause I will need committed, faithful, monthly supporters. So, as you can see, I’m somewhat divided right now…and have not felt any more direction/guidance towards either path. So much of me wants to just sit and wait and not do anything until the Lord shows me what to do, yet I know He doesn’t want me to waste my time while I’m waiting. It looks like I’ll be starting the job application process again…which I really don’t relish…Yet, again, the Lord is in control, and He knows what He’s doing – it just isn’t make that much sense MY time frame.

180 Degrees

God has brought me through so much over the past several months…really since the beginning of the year. Most recently I’ve been wrestling with Him about what to do now that I graduated from the Honor Academy and have returned home. It’s been a tough few weeks, I must admit…much harder than I had thought they would be. Yet, I realized, it has been due to my own stuborness that I have had such agonizing times.
Today I had my second job interview, for Bank of America, (the first being at Starbucks). I had hoped that I would get the job, but when told they had someone more qualified than I was for the position I’d applied for, I wasn’t too disappointed. Yes, I was disappointed, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. It was a group interview, for several different positions in the DFW area, with the interview itself taking place in Irving, a good 30-40 minute drive from my house. All in all it went well – it was a bit different, but what do you expect when interviewing with 13 other people? In the conversations that occurred while we were waiting for various aspects of the interview to take place, I had the chance to talk with one of the guys who was also there for the interview. He already has a BA, and is now going for his Masters, and was applying for a teller position, with the mindset of potentially moving up in the company. And that was it.
It wasn’t until I was really reflecting back and thinking about today, my disappointment at not getting the job, and yet the relief, that I had something more worthwhile in which to invest my time and energy, right at my finger-tips! GFA.

One of the major things I had been struggling with towards the end of my second year at the HA and in the following weeks, was my fear of God calling me to be on staff with Gospel for Asia. Why? Because that would mean I would have to raise support and live off of that until the Lord directed me elsewhere. You might think that after being at the HA for two years, that wouldn’t seem like such a bad idea…yet as you also might know, it’s a daunting prospect – not one I looked  forward to at all! In fact, that was the main reason I was afraid to be called on staff – that I would need to raise support permanently!

This evening I realized that I had finally surrendered my fear of support raising for GFA, as well as my fear of not having a job that paid well or the work was enjoyable. Sure, I would still like to earn some money, and I haven’t given up looking, yet, it’s different now. My first and foremost thought and prayer now is that I will go wherever the Lord has for me, willingly and whole-heartedly. I have no idea where that might be, nor what that might look like, yet I know it will be what the Lord has planned for me! And I’m excited to see what that might be! In the meantime, I am going to seek to make the most of each opportunity that I am given – be it to clean up the house, help out at GFA, or come back to campus for ESOAL (which is still a possibility!).

Craziness…? I think yes!

Well, it’s been several months since I’ve blogged last…and due to the time that has past since it occurred…I think I shall postpone the continuation of my story for now, to update you on how I am currently!

We have “dived deep” into Teen Mania summer – with the craziness and hecticness of GE registrations, Extreme Camps…and still have back-to-back weekends of GE registrations followed by the last week of Extreme Camps, and then debriefing and then the August interns and GIs (including myself) will graduated on August 7th! It’s just a bit over a month left…and at times it feels like it couldn’t come sooner, and at others I wish it wouldn’t come. I suspect I will continue to go back and forth between the two sides…as I often do…especially as I continue to decrease the amount of the steroid and Lord willing will be off of it by graduation, or shortly thereafter! I’m doing much better, for the most part – almost back to normal, aside from what my body goes through when adjusting to the steroid medication amount changes…

Here are some recent pictures! Enjoy! (and comment, please! :) )

Melissa, the Graduate!

Friends, after Buffalo Wild Wings and Andy’s Custard

Finance on Cinco de Mayo

Casey, coremate and housemate

The new/old juke box I made for the swing performance I was in in May

Quad 4 (my house) all together for the last time!

With our beloved Casey…before she left for home, in Idaho…

The first transfusion started just after the shift change, and thus I finally began to feel a bit better! Each unit of a blood transfusion takes about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to complete; because I was getting three of them at first, and due to the time needed to flush the IV line between transfusions, it took pretty much all day for all three to be completed. I don’t remember too much of what happened that day, except that my family came to visit that afternoon, during the last transfusion, I think, and that was nice. I still didn’t have too much energy, physically, but I do remember most of what was going on. Melissa and Dad stayed around for a while, and we watched Iron Man, or something like that…and then Alyssa Duncan, the January intern from my core who lives in the DFW area, stopped by also. It was so nice to see her…aside from the circumstances! It was kinda fun to ask her opinion of how the nurses were taking care of me as she is going to school to get her nursing license. :)
After a while Mom, Ellie and Clara came back. I don’t think they stayed very long, except to give Dad dinner, as he was going to stay with me that night. After the rest of the family had left, the nurse shift had changed again, and my blood count was checking after those first three units of blood [it was up to 6.9 then – which was good – though not good enough], they started me on the second round of 3 units of blood. While most of them happened at night – I was so exhausted and was finally getting relief from the terrible headache that I’d had, it was not the most fun thing to experience getting several blood transfusions during the middle of the night. For the first hour of each transfusion, they would check my blood pressure and temperature every 15 minutes to make sure my body was accepting the blood. After the first hour, they change the time increments to be every 30 minutes, and if it is still going on after the second hour, they change it to every hour. So, with this type of a schedule, it’s not too impossible to get some sleep…it just gets somewhat interrupted when each unit would finish and the machine pumping it in would start to beep. Poor Dad wasn’t able to sleep very much that night, as he has sleep apnea – in which he stops breathing very deeply during the night, and so he usually using a breathing machine to keep everything going properly so he can sleep well. Needless to say he didn’t bring that to the hospital…and the frequent coming and going of the nurses didn’t help either. I remember at some point that night that I noticed he had propped himself up to almost a sitting position and looked mostly asleep…in any case, while I felt much better the next morning, he was rather tired.
That finally all finished, and I ate breakfast at some point. [After the last unit of blood, a tech came and checked my blood count again, which we found out it had gotten up to 9.1! Also during the last set of transfusions, they had given me some kind of a steroid to help the process, which also put a lot of gas in my diaphragm – making me quite uncomfortable, as I couldn’t relieve that pressure very easily!] In any case, the day was rather uneventful…though we were waiting to hear from the doctors how long they wanted to keep me there, now that I had gotten the blood. Word finally came that I would be staying another night at least, so they could do a biopsy on the lymph node in my groin – as that had concerned them somewhat. So, another night in the hospital. Not too bad…but not the most fun either. That day (Sunday, 2/6) I was actually able to get the IV out of my left elbow-vein (I’m sure there is a more technical term…but I have no idea what it is…) because it had been put in by the ambulance and any medical stuff not put in by the hospital could only stay in for 48 hours. So…that night I was IV free! The only not-so-fun thing was that I couldn’t eat or drink anything after midnight Sunday night in preparation for the CT scan the next morning.
I slept better that night…though was still woken up a few times with the regular check-up from the nurse. The worst part of that night was not being able to drink anything, as I got rather thirsty. They checked my blood level that morning, and I was down to 8.4, so I was still dropping…not so good. I didn’t think a whole lot about it, though, as I was feeling so much better than I had been, and I had been able to shower the day before! That was lovely… as the only other time I’ve gone so long without a show was during ESOAL, an event I’ve participated in twice while at the Honor Academy. It had never felt so nice! I mostly just waited for the people from the radiology department to come and get me for the CT scan, which was schedule to happen at 11am. However, as often happens in the medical world, they didn’t come as scheduled and didn’t appear until about 1pm. In the meantime, I had another IV put in, this time in a vein on the back of my left hand – right at the wrist. That way I would be able to actually use my left arm, rather than it be completely incapacitated! They finally arrived and wheeled me off. They took me in my bed this time, rather than put me in a wheel chair…although this time I was much more able to get into a wheel chair, as I was no longer attached to anything, off the oxygen, and could move around myself, albeit slowly.
They took me down to the bottom floor of the hospital, where everything was located, and I saw a somewhat-familiar machine. There were several more people there this time, though, which I thought was rather odd. However, they began to prep me for the procedure, and let me know everything that was going to happen. Just before giving me the anesthetics, they decided to use the ultrasound procedure rather than the CT scan for the biopsy, as the lymph node had gotten so much smaller. That’s all I remember before coming too again, and then they told me that they had decided not to do the biopsy after all, because it had gotten so much smaller. That was good news, though I was not to happy about getting another IV and anesthesia and everything…all for nothing! But it was okay – the Lord knew that would happen.
I finally made it back up to my room, and was very ready for lunch by then. I found out that a friend from GFA, David Carroll, had stopped by just as I had left to have the procedure done…but it had taken about an hour, so I had missed him. That was a bummer, but okay. I was mostly focused on lunch. Since the lymph node biopsy was what we’d waiting for the day before, we were rather anxious to hear if I could go home or not. We finally did hear from the hospital doctor, not my hematologist, that she wanted me to stay another night since my blood count had dropped almost a whole point in one day, as she wanted to make sure I was stable before releasing me. By this time I had started taking the steroid Prednisone, which I am currently still on, to help my immune system regulate and suppress the part of my immune system that had gone into over-drive and was destroying my red blood cells.
So, I was in for another night of waiting. I felt much better, though, and made the best of it. That night the Powell ladies stopped by for a visit, as did Terri Beers. It was very nice to see them! They were very encouraging! Terri even brought a gift-bag, of sorts. In which were two pairs of warm, fun sock, CDs to listen too, and a brownie. She was very thoughtful and had good insight as to what I could use, as she’d been hospitalized once before somewhat recently, and knew what it was like. My whole family came as well, and it was fun to interact with them more than I had before. :)
The evening ended pleasantly, and I went to bed ready to go home. I actually was able to read some of a book that my sisters had brought me – one I had started over Christmas break but was unable to finish, as it was a library book. We were ready to get out of the hospital…would tomorrow be the day? We shall see…
…To be continued…
… continued…
The doctor, not knowing how serious my condition could get, nor knowing my medical history, decided not to do anything then…and just wait and see what my body would do. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled with that option, and knew I needed help sooner than I would get it from her. I was keeping my Mom updated with how I was and what the doctor said, but I also thought I should try and get in touch with my hematologist in Carrollton. I tried several times that afternoon, with no success…all the while my headache was getting worse, and I was less and less able to function. I decided to take the rest of the day off as a sick day, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to do anything worthwhile at work, and made it back to my house with Casey and Mary’s help. I did eat lunch, and that was the most solid food that I had until going to the hospital. I knew I needed more help still, and wasn’t very happy with the medical system in the Tyler area, and in talking with my Mom that afternoon, we decided that it would be best for my parents to come out that night and take me home, since I am only 1 1/2 hours from home, and we already know what doctors and hospitals we like and would go to if need be.
I was much relieved once that was decided and so attempted to sleep…as much as I could with the pounding headache. I tried to eat dinner, but wasn’t very hungry…and just managed to get down some chocolate soy milk and juice. I didn’t have the stomach for solid food at all. My parents finally arrived at about 9pm…though it didn’t seems that long as I was pretty out of it. Casey and my Mom helped me pack clothes and books and anything else I could think of that I might leave while home for an undetermined amount of time.
We left – with just having said good-bye to my house, as this was so sudden and I was unable to do much – except just barely text a few friends to let them know what was going on. We got home at about 11pm, and I crawled into bed…for a few more hours of fitful sleep.
The next morning, Friday, February 5th, I woke up after my sisters had left to our homeschool group. Shortly after they had left, my Mom was finally able to get through to the doctor and talked with them, describing how I felt and that I had had this before. Once hearing how poorly I was doing, one of the doctors there said it would be best if I went in to the Emergency Room. I new that would be coming…although I didn’t exactly want it…I knew it would be what would best help me get better. After preparing a few things, and attempting to eat a bit of breakfast, we were about ready to go. I had been able to get up and go to the bathroom earlier, but when getting ready to leave, I was standing by the doorway of my bedroom, getting my coat on, when things started to spin…and my knees felt weak – not a good sign – especially when I had never fainted before in my life!
…the next thing that I knew, I felt my feet dragging on the ground, but couldn’t see what was going on. When I was aware of what was going on next, I was leaning up against the car door, and my Dad [who had been helping me get my coat on] was breathing very hard, and I figured he must have gotten me from my room to the car [a distance of about 20 ft, and a doorway]. He was pretty worried and told my Mom to call an ambulance, as apparently they didn’t want to try to take me to the ER by themselves…since I’d already fainted.
Before long – it hardly seemed to have taken any time at all – the ambulance was there, and ER personal were everywhere. After assessing the situation, and getting me on a stretcher, [and getting the information I could give them] they loaded me up and started getting an IV into me. They kept asking me the same questions over and over…I’m not quite sure why. I remember answering them, but I think I probably was not very loud. They finally got the IV in, put me on oxygen to help the headache as much as anything could at the time, and then we were off. Mom was riding in the front, while Dad followed behind in the car.
It was a bit of a ride to the hospital, as we wanted to go to the Presbyterian Hospital in Plano [under the Texas Healthcare system], and after several bumps [which I thought was very unusual for an ambulance to deliver such a rough ride…] we were there. I don’t really remember the process in getting from the ambulance into the ER…except that it sure went a lot faster than it had the first time, when I had to wait before they would admit me! [That’s about the only good thing I can think of to arriving at the hospital in an ambulance!]
Once in the room, I was asked another set of questions and had to sign several times to be admitted. A nurse asked me several questions and helped me get into a hospital gown. After that, the ER doctor came and saw me, and they determined after looking at me and checking my blood levels that I was very low indeed, and would need blood transfusions to get my blood level back up to where it should be. Thus the process began for matching my blood type [which is O+ with a lot of antibodies – what your body creates in response to fighting off any thing that shouldn’t be in your body – making it very difficult to find perfect blood matches for me!] which I knew would be a long process, as it had taken quite a while 3 years before.
Now that the most urgent things had been taken care of, we were just waiting for a room to be ready for me, so I could move out of the ER. Dad was still with us then, though once we knew that we would be waiting for a while for a room, he did go into work for a little while. After another 2 hours or so…I kinda lost track of the exact timing of everything…I was finally told that a room was ready, and a tech came to move me up there. That was interesting…they moved the entire bed into the elevator…I didn’t know they could do that! Once there we went from the ER [ground level] up to the 8th floor, to room 886. It was a much nicer room than I had remembered from the first hospital stay – rather large – with a couch-bed, and a few chairs. God knew we would need a rather large room so my whole family could come and visit! Once situated there, the nurses on that floor came and introduced themselves and made sure I had everything. They also let me know that I would need to have a CT scan that afternoon, so I would need to drink some contrast. I had that in apple juice, as I had to drink a while liter of it, within an hour, before they could do the scan. I drank it down pretty quickly…and it actually didn’t taste so bad! [I’d had the same thing done before…but had picked cranberry juice that time…and it had tasted much worse…I picked better this time. :)] Though I finished it easily and quickly, thankfully, I had to wait a bit before they were ready for me to go have the scan done.
Another tech, a woman this time, came up with a wheelchair to take me down. I was still on oxygen at that time, so they brought that also…as it was helping the headache. Down we went, with Mom staying in the room with our things, back to the ER level, but in a different area where procedures requiring large machines took place. I had it done…during which they put another contrast thing into my IV which made me feel quite warm and rather itchy all over, while they scanned different areas of my body. [they were doing it probably to determine that I didn’t have any internal bleeding anywhere causing me to be so anemic, as well as to check other things…they never fully explained why I needed that scan. I didn’t ask, as I’d had one done the first time as well…so I guess it’s just part of the procedure…]
I finally was able to come back up to my room. It had taken about an hour…or so…though it hadn’t seemed that long. I got back into my bed and rested…or attempted to. All that we could do now was wait for me to get the blood units – and keep praying that it would come all the sooner! So the rest of the day went, waiting, waiting and waiting…which the occasional question from me asking where the blood was. I was still aware of all the was going on, just very weak and unable to respond to much. Nurses and techs were in and out about every four hours or so, checking my vital signs and all that. I did get an IV again [they’d taken me off of the one from the ambulance in the ER, and not put me back on one], as I was so weak that I asked to have it again. The doctor on that floor said it would dilute the blood that I did have, so the next time I had the blood count checked it would be a bit lower than if I were not on the IV. I knew I needed some kind of fluids going into me, so we went ahead with it. We kept waiting and waiting all that day and yet no blood. My sisters came to visit after ECC, our homeschool group, as did Dad. A good friend of ours, Diane, came as well, and stayed for a while that evening, which also happened to be the February all-night prayer meeting at Gospel for Asia [the ministry my parents are on staff with in Carrollton, TX]. My Dad and sisters headed off to that prayer meeting, and Diane stayed until about 11pm or so, mostly just talking with Mom. I was trying to sleep…though I really couldn’t much because of everything going on and the headache was so bad.
All that day, and the majority of the time I was in this room, I was using a bed-side commode, as I was hooked up to stuff still, and was even then barely able to make it the two steps to that…one of the last times before the blood came, I couldn’t even do that…and a nurse had to come in and help. There is nothing like feeling helpless and unable to take care of even your most basic necessities yourself! Anyhow, after that time, my body decided it couldn’t digest the juice w/contrast that I had had earlier and I threw it all up. I knew I was pretty bad when that happened, as I never throw up either. I think I had attempted to eat dinner too, and that had been thrown up earlier…so this was actually second time…and I couldn’t stop until it was all out…needless to say I was very weak after that…and all the more ready for the blood!
Nothing came that night…and it wasn’t until about 5 or 6am on Saturday, the 6th, that we found out it was coming soon. It had to still get approved before I could have it, but it was there!
…To be continued…
So much has gone one since you last heard from me….I know I say this every time, but I think it is more true today than it ever has been before. It’s nearing three months since I last wrote…and they have been three of the most eventful, challenging, stretching, yet God-filled and God-centered months of my life!  As the Christmas season drew to a close, I wasn’t quite sure what the year 2010 would bring. This new year was ushering in a new decade…something that I haven’t remembered happening – nor been a part of – very often in my life…as I’m just 20! Yet there was something of significance with this new year. I wasn’t sure what it was…but it was here none the less.  January brought a whole new realm of things to Teen Mania as the new January 2010 intern class arrived. With the arrival of this intern class returned for a visit one of my brothers from my intern year – Brandon. He was visiting campus and his many friends as he accompanies his best friend Micah who was just starting at the Honor Academy. What a time it was visiting with Brandon, and Alyssa, who was in my core and now lives in the Dallas area, and the rest of my family core that was on campus at the time – Margaret, Curran and Arielle are on the Ministry Team and hadn’t left on tour yet – as well as Chase, who works locally. Kameron, though not “officially” part of our family core, was adopted into it right at the beginning so he counts too, joined us as well. Casey, my housemate and former core-mate was the only one missing, as she stayed after Christmas vacation to have her wisdom teeth removed. It was such a wonderful time of reunion and memories! Definitely one of those times in which you get a taste of heaven that just makes you long for it in reality! All too soon it had to end, as Brandon hat to fly on home…he and Alyssa are lucky we love them so much to let them leave…as Curran, Margaret and I kept hugging them and would hardly let go! But we did…and we moved on to the rest of the very busy month of January.
It flew by…as I was doing the job of two people, or at least attempting too, as I waited until my department, Finance, got a few of the new January interns to replace those who had just graduated in December, and began the process of inducting them into our financial realm of numbers, account codes and processes. It seemed like it would take forever just to figure out who we were getting…when in reality it only too about a week…yet a week when you never seem to have enough time to do everything can seem to crawl by! We finally received our two new Januaries, Tracie and Sarah! Though we didn’t exactly know where they were going to be placed – job wise – we had a pretty good idea…so they didn’t receive the typical week of introduction to the entire department before beginning to work on their own job-specific tasks. Sarah is “my intern” as she works with me in accounting. She has become, as it were, my apprentice, as I am in the process of teaching her everything I know about accounting…and then some…so that she is fully equip to do everything I do, as she will need to be capable of doing so in August, as she will likely be helping train her new supervisor (who will become a GI like myself but is currently an August intern and doesn’t yet know they will work in Finance this next year), as well as potentially a new August accounting intern. It’s funny how things often seem to happen backwards at Teen Mania…most supervisors/managers are trained by someone underneath their position for that manager/supervisor position…rather than a manager/supervisor train everyone underneath them…but when has Teen Mania ever done something in a typical manner? Almost never… Anyhow, once Sarah finally had gotten all of the permissions she needed to work,  I had just started showing her some basic tasks that she picked up pretty quickly. She is very similar to myself and will do well, has done very well, in this position. I had one major advantage over her when I moved over to accounting that has made the largest difference in how quickly we learn things – I had already worked within Finance for about a year, so I was already familiar with how Finance worked, which helped out a lot for my job in general. That aside, she was doing great – she just needed to become more familiar with what she would do regularly before I would say she has mastered it.
Then…came a very unexpected set of circumstances…that have had a major impact on my life since they happened… Since Christmas, I had noticed that some strange things were going on in my body. Nothing very serious in and of itself, but now looking back, put together it almost seems like my body was trying to tell me that all was not well for a long time, but I didn’t get the message until it was almost too late…This was the coldest winter Texas has seen in about five years or so…causing a good amount of discomfort when required to exercise outside! My body seemed more sensitive to the cold than I have remembered it being before, though this was the first time I had ever really been so active outside while it was so cold. With that, running was more difficult than it had been before Christmas…but I just figured that was because I’d gotten out of shape and it was so cold. With that, I pulled/strained the tendon (hip-flexer) on the inside of my right thigh, somehow…I’m not really sure how. I’d pulled/strained it badly last May, and ever since it has been more tight than the other leg and more easily strained. Next came something very strange…on the left side of my groin (right on the underwear line) I started to notice a large bump/knot of some kind. I thought it was some sort of muscle knot as this was just after my hip-flexer had started to hurt…so I thought it was a knot that I’d triggered…though how I had no clue. It attempted to rub it out…but that was very unsuccessful, and just caused me more pain. About a week or so after I first noticed it, I noticed that there was another, smaller lump just below the first one. Now I was really beginning to get worried. I had been thinking about it most of January…but I decided I should probably do something about it. I had hoped to get a physical done over Christmas break, but that didn’t happen due to when I had to be back on campus. I had wanted to go to the doctor at home as they have all my records, and it is easier to go to the doctor at home than find time to go out here, especially as I don’t have a car. But, all things considered, especially how I had been feeling and the strange things going on with my body, I made an appointment for February 4th.  I decided to go to the doctor the last week in January, and between deciding to go and actually going, even more strange things kept happening. The weekend just previous I had gone home to surprise my family and have a bake sale with one of my housemates to raise money to keep us here. That was a fun surprise but it was very cold that day – not a good choice in which to be outside attempting to sell cookies. After being outside in 30-degree weather with a wind-chill of probably about 10 or so…we finally were able to come inside their foyer area, where we were out of the wind, and were getting some of the store heat. That helped tremendously…but I was already so cold by that time that I was still warming up/trying to keep warm when we left about three hours later. I was exhausted after that…as I had driven to Dallas that Saturday morning…and all I wanted to do was sleep. But my feet were so cold that I couldn’t fall asleep! I tried for about an hour…after eating just a bit of food…with no success. I decided I should take a bath to get warmed up since I was still quite cold and no amount of blankets was helping. [this was another, more serious sign that I had forgotten to mention…I’ll return to doctor part in a moment] The bath finally warmed me up, and helped me feel somewhat better…but I was still very tired. Food helped…but I wasn’t hungry for it…my hands and feet had also started to look funny that afternoon – rather mottled rather than just one color. I just thought it was because I had gotten so cold that day. Perhaps it was…but it didn’t go away…it stayed that way and kept getting worse – only seeming to disappear when in the shower and toasty warm – yet it would come back almost immediately after getting out.  So, back to right before going to the doctor. Not only was everything I’ve already mentioned going on, I didn’t have much of an appetite and therefore my energy level was severely lacking when I didn’t eat. Yet it is very difficult to make yourself eat when not hungry! My doctor’s appointment was on Thursday…and all that week I was feeling worse and worse. [Also, I’d been very tired for months, and no amount of rest seemed to make a dent…that, along with all these signs, was why I felt I needed to go so badly, as prolonged tiredness was a sign my blood count was lower than normal, as I’d learned three years ago.] Thursday morning was the last straw. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning as I knew it was usually best to do so when getting blood work done, as I knew I needed. However, for only not eating breakfast, I was very weak and about to pass out. My urine was also darker than normal that morning – also strange, as I don’t ever remember seeing it that dark before. I barely made it in to work before I would borrow a staff-member’s car to go to the doctor’s office…but I did…though I don’t really know how.  I go in and wait, hoping it won’t take too long. I’m finally seen and Mary Jo, the nurse practitioner, starts asking a lot of questions and then examining me. She pointed out a few things that I hadn’t yet noticed – such as my skin color was beginning to look rather yellow, and that the whites of my eyes were yellow as well. I knew what that meant – my blood count was much lower than I had thought…and this would probably mean a lot more medical attention than I had realized…she ordered the labs, along with the normal CBC for the blood count. She wouldn’t get the labs back until probably the next week, though she could see the CBC results within a few minutes of drawing the blood. She didn’t like what she saw the first time and drew more, with that draw resulting in a 7.7 blood count [it was 6.9 the first time]. Neither level is good, as normal is between 12.5-18.00. I know my normal level is about 12.5 at the highest…so I needed serious help fast, as I knew my body would not be able to go much longer without it. So. That was just the beginning of my second drastic medical adventure of my life….

…To be continued soon…

Christmas Happenings

The Management Associates have an annual tradition of having a Thanksmas dinner between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Everyone contributed different things, and I made a mixed berry pie – it turned out great!

Katie and I when we went to a Jazz concert for college class – it was great fun!

Me and my housemates – [L-R] Katie, Nicki, Casey,, Kristine [my new roommate] and Kristen. Crystal, our house director, is behind us.  Casey and Nicki are often quite funny – they keep us laughing most of the time. We have had a blast together the past four months!

Me and Alyssa, my old roommate and January who graduated last year, and I had a fun time putting together a fun letter for a good friend of ours. :)

One of my favorite kinds of cookies to make – candy canes – they are pink and white, most of the time, and slightly minty – lots of fun and they melt in your mouth!

They are almost done! They were tasty…as was the dough… :)

We drove out to Albuquerque for Christmas with relatives, and it snowed on December 23rd! :) We had lots of fun!

Of course we had a snowball fight! ;)

Cousin Joanna entertains while our second cousin Asher [her nephew] wants to play along

We visited some good friends today, the Gettys. We all had a good time, but I especially enjoyed playing with Rowan, who is three. :)

We sat outside in the Getty’s teepee and roasted marshmallows…it was a blast!

Well, that’s all for now, folks, hopefully you’ll hear from me soon!

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas season!

Christmas time already?

Yes, that time of year really has come again…that just goes to show how fast time will fly when you aren’t looking! I’ve been quite busy with work and college, not to mention a few Life Transforming Events that have taken place here at the Honor Academy…helping out with the Chicago Acquire the Fire event November 13-14th, a few visits home…and much much more…to name a few! I am home on Christmas break now, so I hope to update a few things, such a my blog, the few who read it, my supporters, and the list could go on and on…
I apologize…I’m really horrible at keeping this blog updated, as well as writing newsletters and such…if you’re wondering what is going on in my life, send me an email and hopefully I’ll get back to you! :)

An update? Really? Yes!

God has been so good these past several weeks! I have been very busy in continuing to do several jobs within my ministry placement, while adjusting to taking a 9-12 credit hours of college classes. The new August Intern class arrived on August 14th, to begin an incredible year of their lives! It was very interesting to be on the other side of things as the interns arrived, as I helped work registration. It is always interesting to do that as you get to see the interns as they first arrive and then see how much they change later on. It was very exciting for the interns to arrive, as we desperately need their help to run the ministry! However, even though they had arrived, we would still wait another week until they would find out their job placements and would begin to work in their new positions. Transition was a lot of hard work but it was also a lot of fun. We were able to get to know a lot of people who have stayed a second year but that I did not have a lot of interaction with during my undergraduate year.
August 21st was the commitment banquet for both the new August Interns as well as the incoming Graduate Interns (that would be me and anyone who stayed a second year). It was a special time to finalize the importance of committing for a second year, giving one the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year to come.
Since then I have continued to be busy: training the new August banker to take my position, learning my new position, beginning four college classes, (realizing I couldn’t keep up with all the homework, so dropping a class), and preparing for ESOAL – Emotionally Stretching Opportunity of A Lifetime. It’s a rather crazy Life Transforming Event that Teen Mania puts on for the Honor Academy Interns. It’s going to be an interesting, but good, next 4-5 days. I am participating for the second time, for a number of different reasons. It’s going to be extremely challenging, but so good. I am looking forward to growing a lot. My manager, Austie Woodall, is the Captain of my Company, Massachusetts. Captains, companies, and all that? What is going on, you might be thinking…yes, ESOAL does have a pretty prevalent military theme. You will hear more about it in the coming weeks, but for now you can check out trailerclub.blogspot.com and xanga.com/gvpuma for ESOAL updates. Please pray for safety for all involved, and that the Lord will stretch and grow each and every one of us!