Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Fighter

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My friend is a fighter. No, she’s not in some big caged arena or some secret underground gang… she’s fighting against Leukemia. She is a true fighter.

She is 22 years old, lover and player of soccer, passionate young woman. And she’s slowly dying.

I’ve known R for merely three months, and in those three months I have grown to love her and want to fight this deadly battle with her and for her.

She is such a fighter!

Back in March, R became a Christian. She didn’t just say some magical prayer and automatically become a Christian… she believed deep in her heart of hearts that Jesus was the only way, that He came to die for her sins, and that only through Him could she get to Heaven. Her motives weren’t selfish- wanting a “get out of Hell free card,” no, she wanted a Savior. She wanted someone to lean on during her times of loneliness, confusion, and pain. She wanted to know someone had her life in control because she knew she wasn’t perfect and had no control. In that moment when she asked Him into her heart and life, she changed.

Instead of being sad and downcast because of being in the hospital, R became joyful in all circumstances, rejoicing over the small things (like walking around the hall, being able to eat lunch). 

I haven’t had time to visit her lately; usually I have a weekly/biweekly visit with her.

Today I heard that she wasn’t doing well at all… she has a horrible cough, can’t keep any food down, and is in so much pain. As soon as I heard that, I knew I had to visit her, but I was so scared.

You see, I didn’t know if this turn in her health had changed her heart…her mind. I didn’t know how her parents would react to me visiting…if they wanted to be alone with their dying daughter. I didn’t know if I could stay strong and not cry.

At 6:20 when I found myself in the Cancer Ward at Duke, I was shaking, nervous, unsure of how to act or address the current situation of R’s health. I prayed that God would give me the words to speak and that He would comfort R and her family during this time of uncertainty about the future. I prayed I could just somehow love on them and take their mind off the cancer.

When I turned the corner and peeked in her door, R’s face lit up. “Meredith!” she cried, and I almost burst into tears. After gowning up, I entered her room, keeping a smile on my face despite the pain I could see that R was in. We talked. Her mom explained how sick R had been, yet how she had slowly progressed over the day. I told silly stories, stories from Peru, stories from riding the bus to and from work…anything I could think of to keep the mood light and to keep R and her mother laughing. Laughter does good for the body. 

Two hours later when I exited her room, promising to come back sooner rather than later, I felt this immense peace rush over me. I felt comfort. I felt love.

R doesn’t know what her future holds, or if she’ll even have a future outside of the hospital walls, but God knows. She is in His hands and the center of His will for her life. R has touched so many with her life and her courage while fighting Leukemia. She has touched my life in so many ways. Gosh, I can’t even type all this out without tearing up.

I miraculously did not cry the entire visit, even when she was in pain when they pulled stitches out, or when they came to draw blood. I did not even cry while walking out to my car. But now, as I type, I am crying. They aren’t sad tears though, they are happy tears. R is a fighter and I am confident that she will finish fighting this fight against cancer… and regardless of the outcome, I know that her faith and trust is in God… the Great Physician, Great Redeemer, King of King, and Lord of Lords.

Join me in praying for R as she fights for her life.

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A Great Sunday

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Sunday is usually one of my favorite days of the week. It’s filled with church time, family time, grocery shopping time, and relaxing time. But lately, Sunday’s have been more empty… I’ve been skipping out on church, have been more isolated, haven’t grocery shopped, and haven’t relaxed as much as I would have liked. Thank goodness today was a complete 180!

7:30 – woke up, ventured downstairs for some freshly brewed coffee. Stretched my sore muscles. Ate a banana & kiwi.

9:10 – finished getting ready, headed out the door for Sunday school.

10:20 – SS dismissed, I drove across town to make it to another church for their 11:00 service

11:10 – made it to the Summit a little late, but in time for some music! Q&A with Tyler Zeller about his career & relationship with God. (((Favorite quote from Tyler: “Basketball isn’t who I am, it’s what I do. Christ is who I am.” That quote may just have converted this Duke girl into a Zeller fan!))) Then a Q&A about the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and prophesy. The Lord’s Supper. More praise & worship.

12:55 – Church over! Although my first experience at the Summit was a little off-kilter and unusual for a typical Sunday service, it was still fulfilling and made me want to dig deeper into the Word.

1:30 – Brunch at NOSH with Britt & her brother! We played Scrabble, ate way too much (peanut butter & banana stuffed french toast, fresh fruit, scrambled egg tortilla wrap w/ peppers, mushrooms & onions, soy Chai latte) and had lots of fun. Well, I had fun…I don’t know about them 🙂

3:00 – home sweet home to change out of church clothes and into shorts and a tank top. On the agenda? Help Padre work in his little “rock garden” and plant some plants in our front yard plant bed. We saw many a worm, many a lizard, and lots of roly polys! Ick. We lifted many a heavy rock (10-30lbs) and emptied a few bags of fresh soil. After some hard work and sweat, the front yard looks a little better than it did!

5:30 – finally free time to sit and read! I chose to sit on the back deck with the dogs and the new book I started last night. I saw an owl swoop down in the neighbors’ back yard, and I failed to snap a picture of it before it flew off. I did take lots of random pictures of the sun and the leaves and the trees though, so it somewhat makes up for it.

6:30 – inside to make banana nut bread.

7:00 – Time for  60 Minutes! I shamelessly admit that I loooove this show and look forward to it every Sunday evening. Tonight the first story was about the former head of CIA’s Clandestine Service and using various techniques to gain information from terrorists AKA torture. I had very mixed emotions and thoughts about this segment- I mean, I think doing what we can to gain information that could save American lives is important, but torture? No way. It is so brutal and the different techniques are so inhumane. What do you think about it?  The second segment was about addictions and dopamine and Dr. Nora Volkow and her research on it. So interesting! One thing I love about 60 Minutes is all the various stories they tie into one story- Nora’s great grandfather was Leon Trotsky.

7:00-8:30 – I worked out during the commercial breaks and then after the show went off. My plank time tonight? 1 min 46 secs. Whew.

9:02 – I posted this post about my great Sunday. Seriously y’all, it was great. I hope your Sunday was great as well!!! Now, I’m off to pack a lunch and plan an outfit for a busy week ahead!

American Tobacco Campus

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Friday afternoon, I met Britt downtown for linner (lunch/dinner) at Mellow Mushroom! We joked that we were getting the “4:00 senior discount” hah, we’re getting so old.

I looooove downtown Durham, specifically the American Tobacco Campus. It’s just so classy and full of character and I love it. I don’t get many opportunities to wander around it exploring, so after pizza and a salad, Britt and I did just that- wandered and explored. Oh, and took pictures 😉

I always have so much fun with Britt because we’re both constantly playing around with our cameras taking pictures and comparing them and commenting on one another’s pictures. I guess we’re typical female bloggers 🙂 Regardless, I had a blast (despite my wishy washy headache plaguing me all day) and I must admit that we both took some cute pictures. But, I’ll let you judge that for yourself!

If you ever make it to downtown Durham, visit the American Tobacco Campus! There is so much to see, great places to eat, live music on summer nights, and of course the Durham Bulls!

Shameless plug for my hometown  🙂

Mornings in Lima

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Morning is my favorite part of the day. Everything is so new… so fresh… and usually quiet.

Tuesday morning I slept through all 9 of my alarms (oops!) and got a belated start to the workday. And for some reason my slowness reminded me of mornings in Lima, Peru.

Last summer I spent a month in the beautiful country of Peru, and for the last two weeks I was in Lima. I stayed with new friend and her family in a spare room. Their house was four stories, and they rented out the top two floors. The roof was used to hang everyones laundry, and to provide a view of the neighborhood. My room was on the second floor, next to my friends’.

half of my room

Mi cama...complete with a panda!

my dresser for two weeks

On Monday, Tuesday & Wednesdays I was up at 6:00. Which is normal for me. But after a night of sleeping on a not-so-comfortable mattress, and most nights shivering non-stop, it was so hard to wake up at 6:00!!!  Rosita, my friend, would knock at my door and tell me “wake up Meredith! Come down!” (in Spanish) I would roll over, hesitantly get out from under the blanket, and change into jeans and a t-shirt.

After brushing my teeth with bottled water (on some days… other days I was rebellious with their running water ;), I headed downstairs for breakfast with Rosita. She was the perfect hostess. She was always so bright and cheery and talkative in the mornings, when I was still trying to get my brain to think in Spanish instead of English.

She would pour me a cup of boiling water to which I would add some instant coffee and hot chocolate mix. And I would add a spoonful of sugar for good measure 🙂 Then she would sit down and we would pray. [[Fun Fact: One morning she asked me to bless the food in English and I was taken aback…I was totally prepared for it in Spanish so I had to really think and focus on praying in English!]]

Some mornings Rosita would fry an egg for each of us, and others we would just eat bread. It’s no secret that I love Peruvian bread, but I’ll have to dedicate a whole post to their bread!  She would offer me cheese or jelly, but I would simply add a little bit of butter to the bread. Peruvian butter complemented the Peruvian bread perfectly. Occasionally we would have a banana with breakfast, but most times it was short and sweet. On mornings when we were both extra talkative, when we realized what time it was, we would both finish eating quickly and hurry up and finish getting ready.

view from the roof of the casa

If I had hung my clothes out on the roof to dry or freshen them up, I would run up the stairs with my camera and take a picture of the view before grabbing my clothes. Talk about a busy and crowded view!

At 6:55 sharp, Rosita would knock on my door yet again telling me, “we need to go…come on! Don’t forget to lock up.” and we would be out the door. (I locked my door, the door to our hallway on the second floor, and the front door to the house… talk about keeping up with a lot of keys!)

The school where Rosita worked (and I volunteered) was a half mile away from our humble abode, and we would walk there together. We had to cross multiple lanes of traffic a few times on our commute, and each time we crossed, Rosita was so protective. She really was like my older sister. Although there was somewhat of a language barrier when one of us couldn’t explain something well enough for the other to understand, we bonded in a way that I can’t really explain. It was a God thing, because God knows I needed a big sister/friend while I was in Lima!

We passed the bakery (my FAVORITE place!), policemen and women on corners helping schoolkids cross the roads, small internet stores, and nice houses. By the time we were in sight of of the school, students would come running up to us wishing us “buenos días señoritas” and they would hug us and smile shyly.

There was one morning in particular when it was misting/raining lightly on us as we rushed to school. And in Lima, rain is a rare occurance. It NEVER rains. But one morning it did, and I remember everyone passing us on the sidewalks, totally in shock at the wet weather. Even once we got to school, the kids were excited and jittery. Something so small had such a big impact on that morning.

Basically, mornings in Lima, Peru were special and unique. Mornings I will never forget. Conversations over breakfast in broken Spanish & English about families, education, travel. Mornings when traffic was so bad and we had to wait to cross the streets, or had to run across despite the police yelling at us. Mornings that were chilly and humid. Mornings that I will cherish all my life.

Rosita and me at school

Do you love mornings as much as I do??? Any fond morning-memories???

Workin’ Out

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Simple title and something simple to do, right???

Hah, for most of us living a busy non-stop lifestyle, working out is easier said than done. I definitely fit into this category. I wake up at 5:30, work from 7:30-4:00, volunteer 5:30-7:30 (Tues.&Thurs.) and most nights I am home around 8:00 if I’m lucky. Monday nights are usually an exception because that’s my “try new recipe for one” night. And Wednesday’s my schedule is whacked out because I either go to church or run errands or have dinner with friends. Friday is my day off but that never means my to-do list isn’t full! Weekends vary week to week, and sometimes I’m lucky to have some down time.

Anyways, I gave you that long winded paragraph to say simply that I am busy. And by the time I get home from my various activities I hardly ever feel like working out and burning some calories. Because of this, I try to do simple things throughout the day to make me feel like I’m burning calories and making smarter choices.

Step #1: Stairs –> my office is on the 5th floor, our other offices are on the 4th. I’m constantly up and down the stairs multiple times a day. Although it’s a little inconvenient because of the office locations, it’s faster. Anytime I have a choice between stairs or elevator, I choose stairs.  Unless it’s 5 or more flights ;p

Step #2: Filing –> by “filing” I really mean “putting patient papers in their correct charts.” Sounds easy enough, but our chart room consists of three walls with four levels of shelves on each wall- starting a foot off the floor and reaching almost to the ceiling. And the patient charts? Oh, they’re just 3″ binders filled filled filled with papers that weigh anywhere from 3-7lbs. I kid you not. These charts are legit. So when I do the filing every day, I kinda throw a little weight lifting moves in there. A few bicep curls, hammer curls… ya know, typical moves to do in the chart room.

Step #3: Walking –> nothing at UNC is close to our office… the children’s hospital, our clinic, the pharmacy, our Chief’s office… everything is a good ways away. Which is why I’m constantly back and forth and up and down the road multiple times a day. I logged a little bit of my walk yesterday morning from the office to the pharmacy to the clinic to the pharmacy to Starbucks to the clinic to the office. It was ridiculous. And I logged 2.1 miles. Within a mere hour and a half.

Step #4: Carrying –> when my job was at Duke, I was in charge of getting doses and shots for patients. This consisted of pushing a cart down hallways and in and out of elevators to get to the pharmacy. Now that we’re at UNC and everything is much more spread out and I have to cross the street multiple times, I can either push a little cart (that holds only half of what I used to be able to cart) or I can carry bag-fulls of doses. I choose the latter. Although I look like an idiot with a packed backpack and two canvas bags weighing me down, it’s much more efficient than making two trips with the little cart. Today, between my backpack and the two bags, I was carrying at least 50lbs. No joke. Therefore I was concentrating on my posture, my core, my shoulders and back muscles the whole time… and when I finally removed those bags I felt so much lighter. And stronger in a weird way. Carrying trumps carting.

Step #5: Drinking –> I drink and drink and drink water all day long. I go through at least 7 or 8 16.9oz bottles just while I’m at work. When I get home, it’s more water, some juice, or soy milk. But basically, while I’m at work, I only drink water. (Welllll and I drink a coffee every morning at work but that doesn’t count 😉 And I can tell a difference in my body on days when I splurge and buy a soda with lunch, or days when I drink only a bottle or two of water… I have headaches and I just feel weird. Water helps me get through the day and helps my body in so many ways!

Those are little things I do everyday to make me feel somewhat good about my lack of legitimate working out. On the nights when I am not exhausted and have some form of stamina, I do an upper body workout that consists of a thousand pushups, shoulder presses, triceps kickbacks, and sometimes a few pull-ups. I also do a plank a day for as long as I can hold it… major core worker right there. Try not to be intimidated 🙂

In all seriousness though, I need more cardio in my life. And more lower-body workouts. Do you have any favorites? I sadly haven’t been running in over a week despite how much I want to be a runner. It just takes more time and energy than I have at night. Hopefully soon I can nail down a weekly routine/schedule for running! And because I don’t go to a gym that kind of knocks out any opportunities for a treadmill, or any good lower-body equipment. What are some simple things at home I could do?

I love summer because Padre and I will go throw frisbee on our street, or go to a park!
This picture was summer 2010!

Thanks for tuning in for my weekly work out update! 🙂 Next week, I’ll be back doing some yoga talk. Don’t knock it ’til you try it. That’s all I’m going to say 😉

Eggplant Focaccia

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I finally have a new recipe to share with you! This seriously excites me because I’ve been wanting to experiment in the kitchen for a while… and last night I finally got the chance to.

Last week I bought eggplants on sale and had big hopes of making eggplant parmesan (since I’ve heard such great things!) but I never got around to it. Yesterday (Monday) was one of those cold, miserable days, and I really wanted something warm and comforting for dinner. I knew I needed to use up the eggplants so I immediately consulted google for a recipe. Martha Stewart didn’t disappoint- her site was teeming with various recipes to choose from! Honestly, I had never had focaccia before, and was curious to try it. Luckily, I had everything (except the fresh oregano) handy, so after a trip to the grocery store, I had my apron on and was ready to make dinner!

Without further adieu, here is the tried & tested recipe for EGGPLANT FOCACCIA

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • salt
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling (I used whole-wheat and it worked fine)
  • 1 ball (1 pound) homemade or store-bought pizza dough
  • cornmeal (enough to dust the bottom of a cookie sheet)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ~1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Directions:

  1. In a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I definitely just eye-balled it, who needs measurements?!). Let sit for 30 minutes. Press slices between a double layer of paper towels to dry and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; place a rimless baking sheet or inverted rimmed baking sheet in oven. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle cornmeal on another baking sheet or inverted rimmed baking sheet or lightweight wooden board; top with dough (you will transfer it onto the preheated sheet to cook).
  3. Brush dough with 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Layer on eggplant; top with 3 tablespoons oil, oregano, and 1/2 cup cheese. Let stand 30 minutes. Give sheet a gentle shake to ensure dough isnt sticking.
  4. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven and slide focaccia onto sheet. Return to oven and bake until bottom of focaccia is crispy and edges are golden, 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I was a little nervous about the finished product (because I had dough issues- very moist and un-rollable) but it turned out great! I loved it. I unashamedly ate half of it, and plan on re-heating the other half for leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I am a crust lover so the thickness of the crust satisfied my craving… the eggplant was delicious (even though I think I mightttt be allergic- tongue started itching. But anyways…)  … and the fresh oregano hit the spot! It’s amazing the difference some herbs make with something as simple as cheese & eggplant! 🙂
Do you have a favorite recipe for eggplant???

Live Music

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Something I’ve come to realize lately (Saturday night) is how much I love live music.

Saturday night after the opening act (Jessie Baylin) for The Fray, I tweeted the following:

My favorite type of music is live… where it’s so loud and you’re so close you can feel it in your bones.

I had neither heard of Jessie Baylin before, nor did I know any lyrics to her songs, but there was just something about the atmosphere… the guitarists, percussionist, the singer …that warranted my full attention. There was no way I couldn’t listen and feel the music. And the chemistry between Jessie and her band members was perfect- they were all so into the music that it felt so real and I felt so close.

She sang seven or eight songs and by the end, I almost didn’t want the music to stop. There was just something about it… great artists and musicians sharing the stage and playing/singing their hearts out. I loved every second of it. (and I have already downloaded her most current CD on itunes)

Jessie Baylin & band

When it was time for The Fray to come out, I was super excited but I was unsure of if they would live up to my expectations, or even top their opening act.

Well of course they lived up to my expectations and of course they rocked the house harder than Jessie. But that’s beside the point.

Their music. Their stage presence. Their faces. Their arms and hands and mouths that were such a part of every lyric, song… the entire performance. I was so into it. I can’t really explain it, and I’m sorry if I sound like a total idiotic music nerd, but it was amazing. Everything about it.

My heart was pounding, my hands clapping, my facial expression never leaving that of a huge cheesy little girl smile, my body moving with the music and feeling it. It was an experience. An intimate experience. There I go getting all nerdy again, sorry. But I don’t think words can fully describe such an experience; you simply have to experience it for yourself.

By the end of the concert, I tweeted this:

Ears ringing, back sore from standing for hours, throat dry from singing. Great show @TheFray !!!

And that’s how I felt. I was exhausted but energized at the same time. I went to bed on Cloud Nine, especially after the following happened-

Isaac, me, Joe

Last night, I fell in love with live music all over again. And I am already searching the area for performances, even if it’s just some small local group. Because the reality of it all is that  my favorite type of music is live… where it’s so loud and you’re so close you can feel it in your bones.

Do you love live music? Who are your favorites to see live?

If you know of any groups or musicians coming to the Raleigh/Durham area soon, let me know!!!

(((I’ll post pictures from the actual concert later this week- they all turned out great!)))

The Lucky One

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There’s just something about a good love story that gets me. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic.

I’ve always loved love stories… from classics like Gone with the Wind & Casablanca, to more modern ones like A Walk to Remember & You’ve Got Mail. Simply put, I love love. And the idea of being in love. My hopelessness is becoming more obvious isn’t it? Oops…

Anyways, tonight I joined the crowds of women (and men with their women) and went to an evening showing of Nicholas Sparks’ latest book-turned-movie: The Lucky One.

This was one of his books I actually read before seeing the movie, so I already knew what was going to happen. And although the experience was somewhat spoiled in that sense, I loved every second of the movie. I was so nervous during the war scenes. I laughed. I smiled when Logan (played by Zac Efron) kissed Beth (Taylor Schilling). I was on the edge of my seat at the end (if you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know why!) And I was in love with their love.

Mr. Sparks knows something about love stories. He knows how to draw you in and keep you there, and despite what tragedies take place in his stories, at the end you always put the book down, or shut off the DVD player feeling satisfied. And in love. I guess you could say it’s a type of cloud nine feeling. And he has perfected it.

I am an unashamed hopeless romantic, and sometimes watching a good love story unfold on the pages of a book or on a movie screen is just what I need. So thank you, Mr. Sparks & Mr. Efron for The Lucky One and its love story.

“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Love; it will not betray you dismay or enslave you, it will set you free.” -Mumford & Sons

“One half of me is yours, the other half yours, mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, And so all yours.” -The Merchant of Venice; Shakespeare

“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.” – Thomas Carlyle

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” -Plato

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

“Come live in my heart, and pay no rent.” -Samuel Lover