Saturday, September 13, 2008

Where's the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering Kaboom!

So, the "storm of the century" (which is what you would have thought hurricane Ike was going to be if you paid any attention to the local or regional media) turned out to be pretty mild here in DFW.  Things aren't great on the coast, and I don't mean to diminish any of the troubles that folks down there are having (or will have, once they can get home), but all we got was some wind and rain.  We've had worse of both in the not terribly distant past and we definitely didn't get the two days of torrential downpours and gale force winds that were being predicted earlier this week.  And, on the "dealing with it" front, that's good.  But, on the "weather nerd" front, it's kinda a let down.  Ah well.  For those readers outside of the metroplex (Hi Mom!), we're fine.  No flooding, no downed trees, no roofs blown off, no evil sounding neighbor ladies being swept up into the twister while still riding their bikes.  I don't think the cats even lost any sleep over it.

I also realized that I'm still not certain what the Texas response to imminent weather disaster is supposed to be.  I mean, growing up back in Michigan, everyone knew that when a massive snow storm was predicted, you went to the grocery store and bought bread and milk.  Even if you didn't need bread and milk, that's just what you bought.  It was expected, maybe even required.  But down here in Texas, there hasn't seemed to be a run on bread and milk.  In fact, in the stores this afternoon, there was plenty of both.  Maybe I was supposed to buy beer and, I don't know, whatever goes good with beer.  Being a non-drinker I'm uncertain.  But, just in case things change, I've got plenty of milk on hand.  (Mostly due to a sale/coupon from Albertsons.)

Other news, my trip to the physical therapist earlier this week was a little discouraging.  The PT did all the things that PTs do (poked, prodded, moved around, had me walk about, hooked a little electrode thing up to some muscles and had me use them while measuring the strength...turns out my right (not hurting) leg is not quite as strong as the left (one that hurts).  I find that odd.  PT didn't seem to.  I mentioned it.  He didn't answer.  Maybe I should have asked again.).  And he determined that he doesn't know why my knee hurts any more than anyone else does.  His current thought is that I'm built a little odd (no surprise there) and I walk a little funny (again, not surprising) and that due to activities and accumulated stress my knee hurts.  He said that my legs kinda go out a little rather than straight down, but that's not uncommon in women (cause we've got wider hips than guys).  He said that I have a tendency towards pronation when I walk (walking more on the insides of my feet) but that's not uncommon in people who have low arches/flat feet (which I do).  And he said he doesn't have a good explanation for why my knee is hurting now and not before now.  At least he's honest in that part.  He gave me some exercises to do, told me to do them two to three times a day and come back and see him in two weeks.  He also recommended new athletic shoes (easy to do, I swapped to a pair that I had in my closet that better meets his recommendations), not walking around without shoes on (which is killing me when I'm at home.  I rarely have shoes on at home.) and not to sit cross legged (hard when I'm in a meeting or otherwise sitting not at a table or desk but I'm surviving).  Basically, he wants me to do everything to minimize stress on my knee.  Although I'm still okay to do "anything that doesn't hurt" at the gym, so that's a plus.

So, the good is that I don't have to go in multiple times a week.  That's helps with the budget (I so did not put enough in my healthcare spending account this year) as well as the time.  But it's frustrating that I still don't have a good answer for why my knee hurts nor a good course of treatment that's sure to fix things.  I showed my exercises to two of my trainer friends at the gym (who know what's been going on).  Neither were terribly impressed.  Part of the reason is due to me already doing more challenging, similar activities/movements on a regular basis.  But, as Robin (one of the trainers) reminded me, not everyone works out to the same level that I do and most medical professionals believe that patients aren't entirely truthful about their exercise habits.  Most people can't stand on one foot (especially their non-dominant foot) for minutes at a time (3 minutes is easy for me.  More than that and I get bored.  I can even do it with my eyes closed as long as I don't get distracted.)  And one of my exercises is to stand on one foot for 20 seconds.  So I've ended up creating a sorta hybrid (Frankeinstein?) exercise regimen based on what my PT gave me to do, input from the trainers at the gym and what makes sense to me.  The result is that things in my knee seem to be getting slightly better.  I still can't jump on my left leg without pain.  I haven't tried running, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't go well.  There are still specific points on my knee where I press and they hurt.  But, going up and down stairs is less irritating/painful.  I was squatting to look at bottom shelves at Half Price Books earlier today and noticed that that was easier than before.  So, while I'm not all there yet and I'm not certain these exercises are going to take me all the way there, at least I'm making positive progress.  We'll see how things go in the next week or so and see what the PT says on my next visit.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Iowa Trip Mercy Moment

A number of people have commented on or asked me about/for the text of the Mercy Moment/report from the Iowa trip that I gave in church last week. I figured I would post it here.

"This is not the way it's supposed to be"
Those words were spoken from this pulpit by Dustin Salter in his sermon titled "A New Heaven and a New Earth" on March 3, 2002. Those were the words that I heard two weeks ago as I listened to that sermon on my iPod while driving one of the vans towards Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And those were the words that continued to echo through my head all week long as we worked and talked with the people of the area. "This is not the way it's supposed to be". People aren't supposed to have water and sewage up to the ceiling of the first story of their homes. People aren't supposed to have to watch as strangers carry their waterlogged, smelly, ruined personal belongings out of their home of 35 years and deposit them unceremoniously on the rapidly growing trash pile on their front lawn. Two weeks ago in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we saw numerous reminders of how this world isn't supposed to be. But that's not all we saw because that's not all there is and that's not all there is ever going to be.

One day, some day, God will create the New Heavens and the New Earth and as described in Revelation 21, "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." One day, some day, rivers won't overflow their banks, causing millions of dollars worth of damage and upending thousands of lives. One day, some day things will be the way that they are supposed to be.

But that day is not here yet and Dustin addressed that in his sermon as well. He said that until that glorious day comes, the job of Christians is to work, in whatever small ways we're able, to restore the world to the way it is supposed to be. And that's why we went to Iowa. The homes that we cleaned out, the floors that we ripped up, the siding that we tore off the houses was all in preparation for the houses or at least the land to be restored or repurposed into somewhere that could, once again, be lived in or used by the people of the community. The work that we did helped to prepare those areas to be back to closer to the way that they are supposed to be. And, just as importantly, the time that we spent talking, praying and sharing meals with the people of the area gave some measure of comfort and hope and offered the reminder that this isn't the way that it's supposed to be and it's not the way that it's going to be. We shared God's gospel in word and in deed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa two weeks ago. In a small way, the team that went, those who helped out with the preparations and all who prayed for this trip helped to restore that area to closer to the way that it is supposed to be.

In other news, I have my physical therapy assessment/first session for my knee tomorrow afternoon. I'm looking forward to at least the results of the therapy. I've had quite enough of my knee hurting, not being able to run and such. I know it's still going to take some time to get back up to full strength and movement, but hopefully this is another step in that direction.

Also, this evening at church, we had our small group kick-off family supper, hymn sing and old fashioned barn raising (okay, not that last part but that's the running joke with the youth). It was a great night. Really, great. One of those evenings where there was no where else I would have wanted to be. It just felt like home, like family. It's kinda hard to describe. I've been gone a reasonable amount this summer, but I didn't really think I had felt like I was disconnected or anything, but tonight, it just felt like there was this thing missing from part of my life and this was it. It wasn't a really big thing. A potluck dinner and a time of singing. But as I seem to tell the high school kids every time I teach, it's often not the big things that make the difference. A lot of the time, it's the little things that make the biggest impact, mean the most to people. And that was tonight. I've been so blessed to be a part of this amazing church family.