Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I daresay this may have been one of the most productive days I have had in quite some time.

First, I attempted and conquered a large grocery run all alone, which I usually avoid because of the haul required from the parking garage: down the parking deck stairs, across the street, through the plaza, up the elevator, and finally to our 18th floor apartment. By the time I gather food from my many different "fields," I have quite a "basket" full that requires more than one pair of hands to carry. Let's just say that today some of the items had to remain in my car trunk until Neal could help me take up a load after work. Nonetheless, it was 2 1/2 hours of productivity much appreciated by Neal who has been doing his fair share of grocery shopping during my health trials of the last months. And the doughnut I got before leaving the last store was much appreciated by me, having been recently gluten-deprived for six weeks. I never knew gluten was my favorite food.

Second, I set out on a baking project which involved yeast and kneading dough. Exclamation point! Now I know I'm really into something. Some of the instructions on the recipe felt like a reckless jump off a cliff, but it was exhilarating at best, a floury mess at worst. I'd like to say that my cinnamon rolls turned out looking just like Mom and Tiff's beautiful creations, but I think I tested my first batch on the perfect recipients- Neal's RA boys. They took no notice of some of the misshapes and various sizes, and instead gave me an enthusiastic round of applause. I even got a hug from one homemade-treat-satisfied guy! I can't wait to try these cinnamon rolls again and perfect my trial-and-error mistakes.

By the time those crazy rolls were finished, including clean dishes and fresh frosting, it was 8:30pm, no kidding. Insert here the fact that at this point I just wanted to go to bed. After greeting the RA small group at 9:00, I retreated to the other room to prep a pre-marital counseling session for tomorrow. Love the opportunity to work with students in this way, and I promise I will blog more about the pre-marital counseling topic sometime.

All this to say, now at 11:30pm I am not thinking I was any more productive than most people today, but I was overwhelmingly more productive than the me of the past six months. This is an ipsative comparison (comparing yourself to your own patterns) rather than a normative comparison, which is comparing one person's score to the score of others evaluated by the same measure. I know this rather obnoxious piece of information because somewhere between dough-risings today, I studied research methods and statistics for my upcoming licensing exam, hehe!

So now it's midnight. Time to end this day, and thank God with me that He is renewing my health and strength. I've been waiting. (Is. 41)

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Afternoon with Maria

Today I was gifted with an afternoon with Maria. On the Monday back from Spring Break, I didn't even feel its typical aches and pains, because after swirling in last night at a late hour from visiting home for the weekend, I awoke to a sunny day holding the promise of meeting my dear friend at noon.

A couple weeks ago, I got one of the quirky, make-my-heart-smile messages from Maria that make her one of my favorite friends ever. Her message told of how she had been on the highway that day and got the urge to come see me from our shared hometown three hours from the city. Turning onto the Chicago-bound I-55, she wasn't far into the trip when she remembered that her headlights didn't work, and she couldn't possibly get to Chicago and back before dark. Instead of then turning around and heading back home, she drove a little while longer towards Chicago. This she did, as she says, "just to be near" me. "Crazy, yes. Odd, yes. A sign of my love and adoration of you and our friendship, yes. Next time I make the trip I will go all the way. I love you, friend."

What comes to mind is the musical tune of "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" but instead with words about what a gem of a friend she is! This time, she made it all the way, and we had the most lovely afternoon. She spoiled me by treating me to lunch at Chipotle (talk about knowing a girl's love language!) and we talked and talked and talked. And talked. And then we shopped. What sweet little sentences.

After I returned some awkwardly sized rain boots from JCrew, Maria found a great black dress at Ann Taylor Loft, which I proceeded to give her a motivational speech about in the dressing room concerning the dress' versatility and promise to serve her faithfully in many circumstances and plights. She bought the dress, and, after a near knock-down-drag-out fight, a shirt for me for my birthday. The girl just cannot keep spoiling me like that. But it was so fun.

What I loved most about my afternoon with Maria was how comfortable we are together- we can talk about anything, everything, do errands, and take five years in the dressing room at one store and never feel ill-at-ease. Being together means just enjoying one of the greatest gifts of true friendship. Tomorrow I have to venture out for a load of groceries, and Maria, I only wish you were here to go with me! But it's a good thing you went home when you did, since those headlights still don't work. I love you and our friendship so much!

Friday, March 5, 2010


At Moody Bible Institute, today is not just Friday. Today is Friday topped with the most lovely, red cherry you've ever seen, that is, if you like cherries. If not cherries, then your favorite sweet treat! Today is the Friday that begins the much-needed, long-anticipated 2-week Spring Break. The sky is a complimentary blue today with sunshine and a touch of warmer temperature in the air. But what's most perceptible about the air today is that it seems lighter, freer, sweeter.

I remember this day last year when Neal and I were grad students at Wheaton. We had the car windows down on the way to the airport, I had a green-floral spring scarf thrown around my neck, and My Antonia by Willa Cather stashed in my suitcase for reading at the beach that would have nothing to do with analyzing my psyche or anyone else's.

We had the vacation of our life that week, Neal and I did. Full sun and mid-80s everyday, coaxing us to live at the beach from 11am-6pm daily. And live we did. And refresh, and restore, and slather on SPF 50. And thank God profusely for blessing us with such a place to truly and deeply "break" and experience "spring."

A few weeks into January this year, Neal started looking up plane tickets and dates, hoping to secure another week in Naples for us, even as we spent our days visiting GI specialists to neurosurgeons, filling useless prescriptions, drawing blood, and paying for that hospital parking deck one too many times. Finally we realized that while the calendar was going to offer us a spring break, my health was not offering the same.

The saying, "Life's a bowl of cherries; it's up to you to decide what to do with the pits," might describe our spring break this year. While we're saying no to this:

we're saying yes to this:

We realized that while my health does not allow us to get away, staying home in Chicago could give us the opportunity to explore all those little nooks in the city and her neighborhoods that we've been talking about visiting. While we continue to persevere through the trials we're experiencing this year, we're really excited to get to know our city better, and I will share our discoveries with you in photos and stories, or maybe in person if you come to visit!

As a closing note, Neal got an email the other day from his Grandpa Anderson in Florida saying that our Naples getaway spot is currently experiencing all-time low, chilly temperatures. Smile.