Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Study

I am embarking on a book study with some wonderful ladies-- "God's Girls" so we've come to call ourselves-- at work.  We are studying through the book "Made to Crave: Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food" by Lysa Terkeurst.  My initial thought was that this would be interesting at best, but it has hit home much closer than I anticipated.  How often do I run to food for comfort, as a reward, when I feel joy or experience stress, when I am sad, happy or bored?  Painfully, more often than I'd like.  The issue at hand isn't my pant size, but my heart condition.  And one is growing and the other isn't, if you get my drift.

God never intended we love anything more than we love him.

Interesting!  I particularly related to the story in Matthew 19, where a rich young man comes to see Jesus and explains that he is following all the rules but recognizes something is missing.  "All of these (rules) I have kept", he says to Jesus.  "What do I still lack?"  Jesus responds by telling him to sell all his possessions to the poor.  And the man goes away... sad... because he doesn't want to give up the ONE thing that consumes him. 

In other words-- Jesus wants us to give up the one thing we crave more than Him.

What is it for you?  What do you crave more than God?  Is it food?  Appreciation?  Comfort?  Money?  Pleasing others?   Clothes?  Home decor?  Well behaved kids?  A well taken care of house?  Exercise?  Being well respected at work?  Approval from peers? Appearance?

As I prepare for our book study, does anyone have an idea about how we can "reward" ourselves without food?  This might show you how far gone I am.  I can't imagine rewarding myself with a pedicure or new shirt, because then aren't I trading one craving for another?  Is the answer here that I should pray to be content celebrating with God and not "rewarding" myself on this green Earth?  Can I reward myself with a new iTunes download if it's Christian music?  This is me, calling out for help :)  Would love to hear from you on this one.

The other thing I have been thinking honestly about is all my excuses for not eating more healthy and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.  Things like:
* It's not that bad the way it is.
* I should learn to love myself the way I am
* It's my age
* It's my metabolism
* It's my genetics
* Surely it's not Runza, hamburgers and fries and chips!
* This is a bad time to start a new healthy lifestyle-- I'm pregnant.
* This is a bad time to start a new healthy lifestyle-- I have small kids.
* I have the rest of my life to be healthy
* I should focus more on Dekker/raising kids for this season of life

I am putting together that the most important thing I can do to be the Mom, friend, wife, daughter, employee, that I can be is to love God more.  And to love God more, I need to surrender the things that I crave more than Him.

I hate to write this publicly.  Next time you see me saddled up to the salsa at La Mesa just know I'm a work in progress, okay.

Bless you all.

On the journey,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Beginnings

Can I just say that I count my job as one of the most difficult blessings I have ever endured.  I am a person of great anxiety without God's help.  I listen to people share the story of how my greatest fears have acted out in their life.  I am in a constant battle to trust God more, as I turn over to Him my fears and trust that even IF something like this happens to me-- He will be there.  My patients are some of the most courageous, honest, faithful people I know.

That being said, it has been a difficult two years since making the move from the hospital to private practice.  It was very difficult at first, which I expected to some degree.  Toss in a 5 month old and I was humbled.  Now, toss in a 2 year old and a newborn come this fall, and I am... ready to move on.  I can't say enough how this has nothing to do with the actual work that I do.  I love sitting in session guiding and encouraging the people God has brought to me.  But I don't love checking my work phone and email seven days a week, being "on call" for emergencies 24 hrs a day, returning calls at 11PM-- or over my entire nap time for that matter.  I don't love the hours of paperwork I do and working 10 hour days only to see four clients.  I am my own secretary, office manager, emergency on-call line, files auditor, marketing manager, suicide prevention hot-line, case consultant... you get the picture.  I am a one man show.  I have worked with professionals and friends over the past two years to have better boundaries, to leave work at work, to find some help with tough cases, to take care of myself, to do strategic marketing, to keep up on my paperwork.  It has helped tremendously.  But what I have realized over the last year-- and 6 months particularly-- is that this is not the type of work God has wired me up to do.

Counseling is for me.  I have spent a lot of time in thought and prayer trying to answer the questions "Is it what I'm doing" or "Where I'm doing it?"  The answer I have decided is... both... for now.

"Where I'm doing it?"  I can't imagine a day when I go back into private practice.  I would love to do individual counseling in a clinic, or in a hospital again-- but I doubt it will be on my own.  I am wired up to work with a team of people.  Period.

"What I'm doing?"  I also can't imagine going the rest of my life without going back to traditional counseling someday.  But I can't foresee being the mom and wife I want to be juggling a caseload like what I have right now.  This is the ... for now... that I referenced above.  I'm ready for a break, and any counselor-educator will tell you that a burnt out counselor is no counselor at all.

"So what's next?"  Well, I have been praying about this regularly.  In November I had a painful discussion with the owner of the practice where I sit.  Since then, I have been praying and praying that God would help me live out my "Strongest Life."  On New Years Eve I cried to my dad on my Grandma's couch in Colorado.  I remember saying "something has to change!"  He is wise, and he told me to be strategic but to not stay in a job that is getting me down "just because."  In January, I made a 6 month commitment to myself that I would quit looking at other practices and develop a thankful and willing attitude at work.  Which I think I have done a great job at.   I committed to praying about my work future and seeking wise counsel.  I wanted to be strategic, and cause the least amount of transition to the wonderful families and people I work with.

Last fall I taught ONE CREDIT at Grace University in the Graduate Counseling Department. It was a great experience.  I kept praying about this-- thinking that it felt good in my soul-- strong, if you will.  I started applying for adjunct positions this spring (for the fall), then stopped when I found out I was pregnant.  Who wants to hire a pregnant adjunct?  Then a great opportunity came up this spring when Nebraska Christian College approached me to teach half-time in the Family Life and Counseling department.  My mentor and friend is leaving, and his open office left an open space for me.  I have been interviewing and negotiating.  I signed the papers last Friday.  It will be two days a week, 2 classes a semester.  My hours are 9:00-4:30.  No nights.  No on-call.  They are willing to work around my "family schedule".  I start in August, and I am THRILLED.

I met up with said mentor for a two hour meeting Thursday.  He was super honest about the challenges of teaching and the BIG job I have ahead of me regarding curriculum and balancing this new job with the challenges of balancing a newborn.  Well said, good friend.

To say I am relieved is an understatement.  The past two years have been full of depression and self-doubt and struggle-- and mono, weight gain, and a horrible blow to my self-esteem.  I am praying that working within the way God has wired me up (a weaver and teacher via the Strong Life Test) will relieve some of this. At the same time, going through this season of life has kept me humbled and on my knees-- to say the least.  I hope my work is never so "good" that I'm not forced to my knees.

Finally, big thanks to Marcus Buckingham for showing me that I don't have to fight against my strengths and can instead find ways to work within them.  He hits the nail on the head that most women spend so much energy trying to prove to ourselves and others that we can overcome our weaknesses (i.e. like working alone in a private practice) instead of working within our strengths.  If that sounds like something you need to learn more about you should check out his book "Find your Strongest Life," but be warned-- it's not a light read.

Here's to new beginnings.

On the journey,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Allergy Testing

I am sure that my faithful three readers are thrilled to see a new post-- and about the very exciting world of allergy testing to boot :)  God Love you.  We did have an experience this week that I thought was worth writing about.

First, you should know that I have terrible allergies.  My neighbor in McCook used to call me "the kid with all the allergies."  As a young child, I would repeatedly get sick-- just over and over again.  In fact, at this time in my life I once heard my (very calm but at the time frustrated) mom use the term "dumb doctor"-- probably on the phone explaining to a girlfriend that they couldn't stop the infections from re-occurring.  So they did several types of tests and my mom explains that it was somewhat scary not knowing the problem.  I can only imagine myself in her shoes-- heaven help my anxiety and please Lord stop my fingers from typing childhood cancer into Google one more time.  Anyway, she took me to another doctor at some point, where I repeated the phrase "that dumb doctor better not say its just an infection" on the table, in front of the doctor.

Blah Blah, finally they did some allergy testing and low and behold, I was allergic to everything non-food.  Almost every environmental allergy, all indoor allergies, cats, other farm animals, dust, dirt-- seriously I'd have to live in a bubble to avoid them.  So, in the 2nd grade, I had my first allergy surgery where they went in through my gums (like my mouth) and put a "window" in my sinus to help drain things.  Years later we discovered this surgery was highly unsuccessful.  I did allergy shots into adulthood, nose sprays, another procedure, and eventually learned to be as proactive as possible-- and to live with it.  That's why last summer's bout with mono was so weird-- my doctor and I kept thinking it was allergies.  Though I am not the expert, nor do I order the testing-- thank you very much.  #youmissedthediagnoises

So Dekker has a history of MSPI, dry skin patches, and re-occurring ear infections-- all signs of allergies.  We're not sure if he had mono last summer too, or not-- but he has been sick a lot.  This April at his 2 year appointment our family doctor was concerned that he was "only mouth breathing" and stated that he does have almost constant upper respiratory distress.  He sounds like a cat when he breaths.  So she started him on Zyrtec and suggested allergy testing.  I put it off, and several weeks of Zyrtec later he wasn't any better.  I called and asked if there was anything else they could do for him.  The doctor added a nose spray and a curt reminder that I had not followed her order yet to get testing.  So I made an appointment with the allergist.

I was skeptical.  To say the least.  My sweet friend Suzanne, a PA, explained to me the benefits with a general "Why not?" attitude, coupled with "You're going to meet your massive deductible anyway..." and I decided to be compliant with my doctor.  This also started my rants involving statements like, "I already know he has allergies.  To know grass vs dust does not help me?"  And, "Seriously, who does NOT have allergies?" 

Monday Dave and I took him in.  Do I have the best husband or what?  They did a thorough history.  This is the best Dekker has been in a long while, and since we started the nose spray he had been miraculously better.  They wrote numbers up his back, pricked over the number with environmental allergies, indoor allergies, and some food allergies.  We were instructed to walk the halls for 15 minutes and distract him.  This was no problem and in 15 minutes that kid was as happy as a shirtless toddler at the water-fountain.

He had no allergies.

Nope, not one.  What the Heck?  Why all the illness?  The sweet doctor explained that he has reflux.  "REFLUX?"  No spit up here, lady doctor.  I mean he spit up a lot as a baby, but not now.  She went on to educate me about toddler reflux and how the main concern is inflammation.  This creates an environment for common colds to get out of hand and become infections.  Apparently, ear infections are also very common with reflux, and it is almost always worse at night.  And guess what the best treatment for the reflux is?  The nose spray.  It is an anti-inflammatory.  No wonder he has been doing so well.  This is not a rare diagnosis, but it's not overly common, either.  In the end, his bump-less back was "good news."

All in all, I want a happy healthy kid.  So I am SO glad we did the testing.  No more Zyrtec.  No need to keep giving him medicine he won't need.  And hopefully the nose spray will help keep his colds manageable, which means less antibiotics, which I am thrilled about.  To see his totally clear back was somewhat humbling, but I have decided there is nothing embarrassing about trying to be a good mom, even if I did misdiagnose him in the form of my rants all month.  After all, I am not a doctor.  And my doctor missed the boat on this one, too.  #youmissedthediagnosisagain.  Though to her credit, she sent me for the testing because this isn't her specialty, either.

So there you have it.  We had stopped the nose spray 36 hrs before the appt and I was giving it to him in the parking lot!!  We had a great experience at Midwest Asthma and Allergy, and we hope to never go back there :)  And even though I personally can not even fathom a life without allergies, I'm so glad my son will get to!

On the journey,