Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rewards for Obedience

I've been skimming through the book of Leviticus this month.  Curt, on the other hand, is more holy than I am and has read every single word.  He's also read his new commentary on every verse.  Aren't you impressed?  

Today I was catching up on a few (a "few" sounds better than eight) chapters at the end of Leviticus and stumbled upon chapter 26.  The subtitle said Reward for Obedience which sounded interesting so I stopped skimming and started reading.  The chapter is a detailed description of an if/than conversation God had with Moses regarding the people of Israel.

"If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, then I will..."  A list of awesome things follows. Provide work and food.  Grant peace in the land.  Safety and freedom from fear.  Victory over enemies.  Fertile ground and fertile families.  Sounds inviting, right?

The list of consequences for disobedience is proportionately awful.  God is just and fair.  He lays it all out in black and white and tells the Israelites to choose a path.

At the end of the Rewards for Obedience section, God reveals His motive.  His desire is to dwell with His people.  He says, "I will put my dwelling place among you and I will not abhor you.  I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people."   

He then goes on to remind the Israelites of who He is and why He saved them. " I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high."

God wants to walk with us and be our God.  He doesn't desire for us to be slaves.  God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery and into freedom with their heads held high.  Fast forward and God sent Jesus to do the same for me.  Jesus bought me with his blood.  He rescued from slavery and eternal death.  He unlocked the chains of sin that bound me.  His desire is to lead me out of slavery and into freedom with my head held high.  

The question is do I follow Him and walk in that freedom?  Or do I choose to trudge through life, head low and burdened by unnecessary chains?  What about you?  

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Perfect Fit!

The most incredible thing happened this week.  My engagement ring/wedding ring/10-year anniversary ring are all soldered together in one big beautiful clump that I seldom take off.  My ring is one of my most valued possessions - not because of any monetary value - but because it represents my husband's love and commitment to me.  

Curt spent an entire summer researching and shopping before he decided to forgo a pre-made wedding set.  He chose instead, to design an engagement/wedding set for me on his own.  He hand-selected the diamonds and helped draw up the design.  It was perfect and so worth the wait.  I've loved it since his shaking hands first pulled it out of his pocket and he said those beautiful words, "Will you marry me?"

A few years ago we invested quite a bit of money to have my ring repaired and shored up.  The finished product looked beautiful and should have been secure, but poor craftsmanship and a string of random mishaps resulted in two lost stones and one heart-stopping panic moment when the entire center stone broke off from the ring and fell on the floor at the gym.  We switched jewelers, but it didn't stop me from having an occasional nightmare about things going wrong with my ring.

This week as we were closing down the house to go to bed, Curt noticed something sparkling on my dirty kitchen floor.  He casually brushed aside the dirt and cracker crumbs, picked it up and joked,  "Oh look.  A (with finger quotes) a big diamond."  I was already out of the kitchen so I indifferently shouted over my shoulder, "Great.  Just put it upstairs with the girls' dress up stuff."  

A few minutes later I glanced down and my heart stopped.  A gaping hole stared at me where my center stone should have been.  Utterly panicked, I asked Curt what he did with the "dress up diamond."  Thankfully he hadn't thrown it away and knew right where it was.  We picked it up from the ledge on our utility sink and carefully set it right into the empty head.  A perfect fit!

The next morning, I was waiting for the local jeweler to open her doors. I couldn't wait to get that loose diamond and broken ring out of that Ziplock baggie and into her capable hands.  Apparently the head was defective and she couldn't believe the diamond had stayed in place as long as it had.  She got out her Diamond Verifier machine, poked the stone and then confirmed that this was indeed a real diamond and the one that was missing!  I still can't believe that we found what was lost before we even knew it was missing.  What a gift from God!

It's impossible not to draw the parallel to how God feels about us.  Jesus tells an eerily similar story of a woman who lost a silver coin.  Luke 15:8-10 says, "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.  Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me!  I have found my lost coin.'  In the same way, I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

We are rejoicing that Curt spotted my beautiful diamond amid the dust, grime and dirt of my kitchen floor.  What a miracle!  But an even great miracle is the fact that Jesus did the same thing with me.  He  found me in the dust, grime and cracker crumbs of my life.  He saw beauty worth saving.  He carefully picked me up, saved me from certain death, wiped me off, and set my feet on the Solid Rock.  Just like my diamond fit perfectly into its uniquely crafted setting, Jesus gives my life purpose.  When I follow Him, he leads me to the setting He has uniquely crafted for me within His kingdom.  A perfect fit!  

I hope I never stop marveling at the wonder and awe of being rescued by a Love even greater than the love my husband has for me.  That's cause for rejoicing!  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Heartbreaker Half Marathon 2012

At the start of the race

On Sunday, Carissa and I ran the Heartbreak Half Marathon. We registered as team Not Your Own in the “Friends – Girls” division as a reminder that we run because we are not our own.  We were bought with Jesus’ precious blood and we want to honor Him with our bodies.  We also ran with the intent to set a PR (Personal Record) on our time.  We’re running hard and fast as we train for an April marathon so we figured why not go out hard and fast and see how we ended. 

What I didn’t expect from Sunday’s race was to come away with a profound thankfulness that God has given me a friend like Carissa.  Over the past year and a half our friendship has grown deeper and stronger with each mile we’ve logged together.  We truly have something special and unique. 

Carissa is a competitor. She sets high goals for herself and then pours everything she has into reaching them.  On race day, something supernatural comes over her and she transforms into a machine – running significantly faster and stronger than the pace that we train at. Carissa sees athletic potential in me that I don’t see in myself.  Her confident determination continually challenges me to rethink what I’m capable of.  This has never been more clearly demonstrated than on Sunday.

Carissa is better at sharing the technical side of things so I’ve asked her to co-write our race story with me.  You’ll get a glimpse into the way her mind works by reading her take on our race, but first let me give you my takeaway from Sunday’s race. 
At the finish.
Carissa is a faster and stronger runner than I am.  The field of racers for this event was fast since many runners were training for Boston, making it extra tough to place in the top three in each division. But Carissa was in the zone on Sunday – she only needed to be two minutes faster to take third place and I know she had it in her.  But she chose - before the race started - to run with me from the second the gun went off until we crossed the finish line.

C'mon Jodi!
Carissa set a pace she knew I could achieve in spite of my huge skepticism. She ran just far enough ahead of me to keep me chasing her, digging deeper into my energy well with each mile.  She chose to listen to my labored breathing and shout encouragement over her shoulder when she knew I was at my breaking point.  Carissa chose to stop when she saw the finish line and wait for me to catch up.  She extended her hand to me and yelled, “C’mon Jodi.  Let’s do it together.”  Carissa selflessly chose friendship over her own personal ambitions.  I can’t even think about this race without getting all choked up.

Ironically, we both placed fourth in our age divisions but placed first in the team division, beating out all the other teams including the teams that had dudes on them.  I think it perfectly sums up how we’re trying to live our lives – Jesus first, us second. I am one lucky girl to have a friend like Carissa.

Here’s Carissa’s take on our race, with a few minor interjections from me (all in italics).

Yesterday, for the fourth time Jodi and I lined up at the starting line of a race together.  Every time previous, though we had wanted to race together, we ended up getting separated.  This race seemed like the perfect one to run out to the end together for a couple of reasons.  We’ve been following the same marathon training schedule and our workouts have been pretty evenly paced.  It was also our first tune-up race: a race run as a practice for another longer race.  Though we both cared about our finishing time this race was a training race and running my own best personal race felt less important.  As we got ready to start Jodi asked what our strategy should be.  I suggested that we stay together unless one of us tanked and begged the other to continue on alone.  Jodi agreed and the plan was set.
finally catching up to Carissa
 The race began and we quickly wove through the crowd.  A smaller venue, this race was easy to navigate into an open space and get settled into our own pace.  The first five miles of the course were flat and I suggested that we try to hit a 7:25 pace based on MY training goals for the Eugene marathon.  I admired Jodi for going out at a pace that was chasing after MY dream and MY goal finish time.  It can be hard to hit an exact pace so that translated into the first 3 miles being 10-15 seconds per mile even faster than my ambitious goal.  It didn’t take long for me to hear in Jodi’s breathing that she was working harder than me, but she kept up the pace and only once suggested that I was “sprinting.”  (Call me crazy but I consider a 6:45 pace at mile two of a 13 mile race sprinting.)
Here we come...
 Our next challenge came in the form of hills.  We spent the next five miles climbing from downtown Portland up Terwilliger Boulevard until we hit the Chart House. (Oregonians should not be allowed to write course descriptions.  The official description read, “the next four miles being a mix of flat, slight upgrades and a few more challenging hills.” It should have read, “Be prepared to climb a mountain and potentially call 9-1-1 if you collapse on the course from the effort you will exert to get to the top.”)  Though Jodi is a strong hill runner I have the reputation between us as being a faster climber.  I knew we needed to take them at a pace that worked for Jodi and didn’t induce her new something-is-blooming- in-the-air wheezing.  As Jodi said, if she started wheezing heavily, the race (from a time standpoint) would be all over.   

At this point of the race I downshifted another notch. I wasn’t working very hard on the flat but was happy to reserve some energy for the hills.  As it turned out I wouldn’t need to tap into those reserves because even though Jodi was continuing to work hard, we were taking the hills at a pace that stayed within my comfort zone.  (When I could catch my breath, I yelled, “You could at least pretend like this was difficult.”  Carissa calmly replied, “I was just wondering if you were telling yourself this was hard.” I hollered back, “I’m not telling myself anything.  This IS hard!”) 

The hills were also the point in the race that I pulled ahead a couple of paces. I could hear Jodi’s breathing (think pregnant cow in labor – I couldn’t catch a full breath almost the entire race thanks to my marvelous wheezing) behind me so I knew not to pull ahead further and lose her.  This was the part of the race that I really began to appreciate her fight.  It would drive me crazy to race outside of my comfort zone, striving continuously to catch up with my buddy who remained a few steps ahead.  I prayed for her breathing.  I prayed for her body to be strong and fast.  I prayed for our effort to be evenly matched, but P.S. God let her effort be easier, not mine harder.  My heart swelled with admiration for Jodi’s perseverance and determination. 

 At mile 10 we hit one of the sweetest parts of the race: the three miles of downhill that would carry us into the finish.  Downhill is Jodi’s specialty.  I am a much faster downhill runner thanks to mimicking her style.  I excitedly picked up the pace and we cruised to the finish at a sub 7 minute/mile pace.  At this point the playful banter picked up.  Jodi said she was going to pummel me when the race was over and I responded that she’d have to catch me first.  I again pulled ahead of Jodi knowing that I wouldn’t lose her.  I kept shouting encouragements over my shoulder, enjoying the ease of the downhill. 
I'm the blue dot in the background, trying to catch Carissa.
Just past the 13-mile marker I spotted our one-woman cheering section.  Tanya was posed to snap some shots and cheer us on.  With .1 mile to go and the finish in sight, I slowed and held out my hand.  “Come on Jodi!” I shouted.  We grabbed hands and ran into the finish together.  In the finishers chute we gave each other a bear hug.  Jodi proclaimed, “I hate you...and I love you!”  I laughed.  I would have felt the same way. (To clarify – Carissa knows I don’t hate her – it was my round-about way of saying thanks for kicking my booty the entire 13.1 miles.)
Thank you Jesus for such an awesome race!
We finished with a PR of 1:38:39.  It wasn’t the 1:37 I was hoping for but it was a PR and we did it together.  I do wonder what I could have accomplished if I had put my own fitness to the test, but I also feel really accomplished to have run a comfortable race at that pace. I feel hopeful (I KNOW Carissa will kill the Eugene marathon) that at the end of our training I can run a great marathon at Eugene.  
With Tanya, our running buddy, who cheered for us on race day
 No hearts were broken at the Heartbreaker Half.  Instead it was a sweet display of our friendship.  Jodi said, “I’ll chase after your dreams with you.  I’ll let you set the pace and do what I can to stay with you.”  Carissa said, “I’ll stay with you when it gets hard and I’ll finish this race with you.”  And that my friends, is a true and happy ending.    

Life with Four Kids - An Unpublished Post I Just Discovered

Picture from the era when this post was originally written

Oh my goodness!  It's been on my To Do List for the last four months to revamp my blog and try to make it more user friendly.  Today I logged on to try to figure out a few things, but got distracted when I stumbled upon this post.  It was drafted but never published, and was written almost three years ago.  I remember this day CLEARLY.  Stuff like this always happens when Curt's traveling and is proof that life is never boring at our house.  Happy reading (and laughing) at our expense.

In the past four hours these things have happened at my house...

another photo from that era - aren't they so cute and little?
1. Alli (our 5 year old), who was straddling our wooden fence, started scooting on it and a chunk of the fence broke off, sliced through her jeans, and lodged into her groin.  She was screaming and when I got her jeans off, I could see a one-inch piece of wood sticking out of her leg with a much larger piece visibly wedged under her skin.  She was flipping out and so was I. Curt usually handles the gory stuff, but he's been out of town for four days and wasn't even reachable by phone. I tried to pull it out, but it was wedged and moving it sent her through the roof in pain. I left her writhing on the floor to get tweezers and then I heard her holler in a shaky voice, "I got it Mom." She took matters into her own hands and pulled that chunk of wood straight out of her leg! She is one tough chick. We measured the piece of wood: an inch and a half from the blood line that was inside her leg and an inch sticking out of her leg. Talk about raising your blood pressure.

2. I had her take a bath to clean the area just in case we needed to revisit the injury site. Katie and Paige hopped in the tub with Alli and they all started playing a "game" that left the bathroom floor, bath mat and their bath towels completely drenched. Needless to say, they cleaned it up.

3. My kitchen floor (all wood) was covered in muddy dog prints, spilled milk, and random other life-with-four-kids pieces of dirt and grime. It needed to be mopped and Alli offered to do it for me because she's trying to earn money to buy an American Girl doll. She wasn't three swipes into the job when she accidentally spilled the ENTIRE bucket of soapy water all over the wood floor. It took Alli, Katie and I thirty minutes to reverse-mop the floor to get the puddles of water off.  Hours later, I can tell my floor is warping.  Great.

4. We did an HOUR of homework times three students. Even Alli (in kindergarten) has nightly homework and it took us straight to bedtime and beyond, by at least 30 minutes.

5. Paige (our three year old) who was pitching a fit because I said no to library books and yes to bed, was given a choice: stop yelling and sleep with Katie and Alli in their room (her new security thing) or keep yelling and lose the opportunity to sleep with them because she was disturbing them. She kept yelling, so I put her in her room. She proceeded to continue to scream and come out of her room for a full hour. By the time she decided to obey, she was so upset she couldn't even talk without sucking in air and her shoulders heaving.

Miraculously, I stayed calm through the whole thing (thank you Lord!), but man am I beat now. Thank goodness Curt comes home tomorrow. I am ready for a break. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

One Shot

Valentines Picture for Daddy
I'm having one of those "can we just stop time" moments.  The big kids burst through the door, rain soaked and starving.  After they inhaled everything in sight, they dispersed across the house.  Within thirty minutes of arriving home, they had already moved on from hugs and how-was-your-day's to other things more important like homework, unwinding, and playing games.  I'm listening to them chatter and realizing just how quickly time passes.

Raising kids can be a lot of thankless work.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia and lose sight of the big picture.  When you’re in the thick of changing diapers, chauffeuring kids, sleepless nights, and being the homework police, motherhood can feel like a life-sucking vacuum instead of a calling!

But God keeps bringing me back to the big picture.  I get ONE SHOT at raising my kids. Time does not stand still and I won't get a do-over.  My precious kiddos will be gone before I know it.  I have one shot to change diapers, pass out patterned Band-Aids like they’re stickers, and sing lullabies in the middle of the night. One shot to wrestle and tickle and wipe away tears.  One shot to teach my kids responsibility, how to be kind, and hopefully at some point - table manners.  One shot to make our home a haven and be there when my kids burst through the door after a long day at school.  One shot to teach them coming-of-age stuff like how to apply deodorant and wash their face.  One shot to pray with them, counsel them, and point them to Jesus.  I want to raise my kids to be functioning members of society who passionately follow Jesus and love His people.  I don’t want to sit across the table from my kids’ future spouses, hang my head and say, “I’m so sorry.”

I love the passage at the end of I Corinthians 9 when Paul says in relation to following Jesus,  “I don’t run like a man running aimlessly.”  I would never go on a training run without knowing how far I was going, how long it would take me, and without the proper tools.  God has been teaching me, "Jodi, don't parent aimlessly.  Embrace this one shot and parent your kids with intentionality and purpose.  Train them with the same discipline and determination you use to approach training for a race."  

Not running aimlessly as a Mom for me means embracing the big picture that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.  Often times I’m unrealistic in my expectations of how long it should take for me or the kids to master a new character trait (self control, honesty, responsibility) or learn a new skill (potty training, tying shoes, making lunches).  I've been working on "slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to angry" (James 1:19) since the day Grant was born.  I've gained considerable ground, but am still a major work in progress.  The same is true of my kids.  God has been reminding me, "It's a marathon, not a sprint.  Be realistic, extend grace, and embrace the phase you're in now cause you won't be able to go back."  
Grant getting busted for being goofy when I
said, "Please smile nicely this time."
Not running aimlessly also means not beating myself up when the kids or I have a bad training day.  We will disappoint each other and let each other down.  There will be bad training days.  We may even have some injuries along the way that sideline our forward progress for a short time.  But this too shall pass.  We will get back on our feet and keep running.  When we have a bad training day, it's imperative that we forgive freely, love fiercely, and move on with fresh determination to stay the course.

Not running aimlessly also means that when the kids are home from school and on the weekends, I need to be purposeful to ENGAGE them.  When I ask them a question about their day, I need to actually stop what I’m doing and actively listen instead of planning dinner or finishing my blog post in my head while they chatter in my ear.  I’m learning to set my agenda aside to do the stuff that’s important to them.

Of course God has given me multiple opportunities in the past two weeks to practice all this "one shot" parenting.  We've had one bad training day after another.  The kids have failed miserably.  I've failed miserably.  There's been way too much, "I'm so sorry.  It was wrong of me to do BLAH.  Will you please forgive me?" and quite a bit of hitting the reset button.  

It's been exhausting and mentally depleting.  In all honesty, I've wanted to just give up.  Quit trying.  Sit down on the side of the road and pout.  Throw a tantrum.  Cry my eyes out.  I've sensed the same frustration and despair in the kids.  

But in our weakness, our Savior is strong.  He gently wipes away my tears and points me back to truth.  As I've been encouraged, I've been able to pass on these truths and encouragement to the kids.  Our struggles are drawing us closer together and we are celebrating the victories that we are having.

Don't look back - just move forward!
The truth is that God chose ME to be Grant, Katie, Alli and Paige's mom.  He has equipped me for the work He has prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).  He promises to not give me more than I can handle.  (I Corinthians 10:13).  It's my job to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  (Ephesians 6:4)  It's time to stop wallowing in self pity and start running again.

After all, I only get one shot at raising the next generation of Jesus Followers.  With Jesus' help and an army of friends and family who love and support Curt and I (and love our kids), we will make it to the finish victoriously.  Thank you Jesus!   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

13 Practical Tips for Sexual Love in Marriage

My friend Faith asked me to tag team with her on a two-part series for her blog.  I'm honored to be a guest writer on her blog and only slightly embarrassed about the topic cause let's face it.  If we're married, we're having sex.  Head over to her blog to read 13 Practical Tips for Sexual Love in Marriage.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Being a Good Friend - We Need Each Other!

After Carissa's Boston-qualifying marathon.
My running buddy Carissa and I are training for a marathon.  The schedule we're following requires running a half marathon race next week.  After a little research we found a race in the area, The Heartbreaker Half, that fits well in our training plan.  Our race times will be scored individually, but we were also able to register as a team in the "Friends - Girl" category which makes it more fun.  Team Not Your Own (inspired from I Corinthians 6:19-20) is ready to tackle the course.

Originally I viewed this event as another training run and a chance to make more fun memories with Carissa.  But Carissa wanted to race.  An accountant by trade, she loves crunching numbers, doing research and setting ridiculous goals.  She recently got me on the phone and presented her well-thought out plan.  "We're running fast right now.  I bet we could shave 20 seconds per mile off our training pace with race day adrenaline."  She then went on to propose a projected race pace faster than either of us has ever maintained for more than a handful of miles.

I think she's crazy and told her so.  But she pushed back, challenging me with a whole hosts of stats she'd accumulated from our training runs.  Carissa believes we can achieve anything we set our minds to and her enthusiasm is contagious.  She also knows that we both rise to a challenge and if she dangles the carrot in front of our noses, we'll chase it.  Her confident determination challenges me to rethink my goals and abilities on a regular basis.

Carissa mixes one big goal with just enough realism, adds a little enthusiasm with a swift kick in the pants and the next thing I know I find myself thinking, "Maybe...  just maybe we can do it."  I know we'll be stoked if we come anywhere close to her goal, but it's not just about what the clock says when we cross the finish line.  There is great value in chasing down a big dream with a good friend.  Encouraging each other when the other is weak, spurring each other on to push a little harder and reach a little farther, and celebrating the victories along the way.  The satisfaction for me is in the pursuit of the goal, reveling in the discipline learned along the journey, and embracing the camaraderie that friendship offers.  I can't imagine training for this race without Carissa.

As I was contemplating the beauty of friendship and our need to be in community, I read Exodus 17 and 18.  In two consecutive stories, God drives home the importance of relying on others for encouragement and support.  In the first story, Moses (the leader of the Israelites) sat on a hill overlooking a battle field.  "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses' hands grew tired ... Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that his hands remained steady till sunset."

In the second story, Moses' father-in-law Jethro comes to visit.  He observes Moses working his tail off to serve the Israelites and getting burned out rapidly in the process.  Jethro proceeds to sit Moses down and give him a lecture.  "What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."  Moses, following the advice of Jethro, proceeds to divvy out the work load and find both relief from his burden and camaraderie in working with others toward a common goal.

What about you?  Do you have a friend who challenges you to dream big and holds you accountable to chase that dream down?  A friend who holds up your arms when you're too exhausted to do it yourself? Are you that kind of a friend to the people God has placed in your life?  Are you overburdened?  Do you need to ask for help and redistribute the weight?  Who in your life needs your help to carry their burdens?   I know I'll be mulling this things over as I run this week.  After all, I'm the other half of Team Not Your Own and I don't want to drop the ball!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Forsaking All Others - Guest Post by Faith Walter

not a great picture, but it's of Faith and I when
they were home on furlough and visited us in Newberg.
Today's post is written by my long-time friend Faith Walter.  Well spoken, articulate, and a talented musician, Faith has always inspired me with her intelligence and sense of humor.  She has the ability to take a big, vague vision and put together a nuts-and-bolts plan to make it work.  She is living that out right now in Spain where she, her husband Nate, and their four kids live as missionaries to pilgrims walking the Camino.  Their dream is to open a hostel to share Jesus' love with the pilgrims who are on a spiritual journey.  A deep thinker and loyal friend, Faith loves Jesus and daily lives out her faith.  It is a privilege to count her as a close friend.

I'm excited to share this post with you.  Faith and her husband Nate take a risk in their willingness to be vulnerable so we can learn from what God is teaching them.  I hope you are challenged and encouraged as you mull over HER STORY.  (Click the link to read Faith's post.)  Happy reading.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Slice of Life

My kids had the day off school yesterday so their teachers could work on grading.  I wanted to find something exciting to do together to make the day off seem worthwhile.  A seven-mile run was on the docket for my training schedule so I arranged to run earlier than usual with my friend Julie.  She brought her jammie-clad kiddos over to play with mine and we took off for our run.  A beautiful morning awaited us and the miles flew by.

When we got back, we lingered over coffee while the kids played.  When they left, my kids realized they wanted breakfast.  I set my new phone on the counter, took out bagels, and prepared to slice them with my very sharp (also new) serrated bread knife.  Just as I started slicing, my phone dinged alerting me that it was my turn in Words with Friends.  Being the Queen of Multi-Tasking, I opened the app, glanced at the game board, and prepared to slice the next bagel.  Silly me - decided to look at the game board one more time and sliced into my finger instead of the bagel.  Not exactly the kind of excitement I was hoping for on a day off from school.  Why does stuff like this always happen when Curt is out of town?  Two more days and I could've cut off all ten digits and Curt would have been there to fix it.

While cold water poured over my bleeding finger I ran down the list of options.  Drag all four kids to the Immediate Care and hope they did stitches there.  But when I called and got a "we could PROBABLY take care of it in the office," I ruled that one out.  "Probably" was the operative word that nixed that idea.  I called my Doctor Cousin in Colorado and asked her to walk me through Weekend Warrior First Aid.  While we talked, I dumped a bunch of hydrogen peroxide in the wound and then attempted to use Super Glue to close the wound.  It didn't work.  The blood kept pushing the glue away from where it needed to go and sending it instead all over my fingers that then started sticking together.  I tried a tight band aid but when it was still bleeding steadily three hours later, I finally threw in the towel, swallowed my pride and headed to the local ER.

Sheepishly I followed the triage nurse back to an exam room.  When she put up the guard rail on the hospital bed and patted it for me to lay down, I protested.  "Do I really have to sit on the bed?  Why can't I sit on the chair?"  But she made me.  Then she told me, "Josh the PA will be taking care of you today."  I filled her ear with the general medical chit chat of "oh my husband is a PA but he's in Haiti right now on medical mission or I'd have him stitch this up blah blah blah..." as if she cared.

She left to get Josh the PA.  A few minutes later he timidly entered the room and asked, "Are you by any chance related to Curt?"  When I confirmed my identity as Curt's wife, he nodded and said, "I thought so.  He was my professor.  I wondered when I took this job if I'd ever have to treat him and it made me kind of nervous.  But I've gotta say taking care of his wife has me even more terrified."  Well good.  At least we're both embarrassed and awkward.

He poked around on my finger, confirmed that it needed stitches and then added, "Your husband taught me how to suture."  I assured Josh the PA that I'd have Curt check his work when he gets home from Haiti, and he went about the business of fixing my owie.

Three needle sticks, two stitches, six emergency room employees, and one ginormous $250 co-pay later, I was out the door.  Me and my Words with Friends blunder.  On a positive note, I've apparently whipped myself into good enough shape that I have an alarm-inducing resting pulse.  It's happened twice now where nurses get all frantic, start whispering, then send the doctor to ask, "Are you by any chance a runner or endurance athlete?"  Me - with chest puffed out - "Why yes, yes I am.  And while you're at it, can you call me an endurance athlete one more time?"  I'd hate to see what happens if I said I wasn't a runner.  And that my friends, is just a slice a life at the Stilp house.