Nature Wheeled: Talus Recovery (Week Three)

It has been three weeks since my initial Talus fracture injury, and one week since surgery.

In an attempt to “stay ahead of the pain” I was faithful about taking my strong pain meds, to the point of setting an alarm to wake up in the middle of the morning (meaning I wasn’t sleeping very well either). After my body adjusted more and I relied on lowed level pain meds and ice therapy to dull pain I began to feel better.

During those first few days I had my sweet mother in law to take care of me. I was also able to be patient with myself, prescribing more tv binge watching: Downtown Abbey. By the time my MIL left we had watched 3 seasons!

My tune changed after a post op check in on the state of my stitches. Huge praise, the incision was healthy and infection free. In not so pleasant news, I’d not been wearing my boot due to discomfort so my foot struggled to lie flat. The brisk nurse forced me to get it flat to get it back in the boot correctly before we left. I bit back tears during this process.

While in town we stopped by the grocery store. The rest of the tears flooded out as my fears came back about painful physical therapy and the need to return to the stronger pain meds and forever feel sick. I blubbered by my MIL stayed sweet and asked if there was anything special she could get me from the store. I asked her for my comfort snack, gummy bears!

Waiting in the parking lot, and continuing to cry, I decided to log into my pokemon go account. Well I was surprised when a special like week only available pikachu with Ash hat was hanging out. I didn’t even need to move before it popped up! I was thankful for the silly blessing to help redirect my thoughts towards God’s companionship and positivity versus the unknown scary future.

Then, my MIL returned with several gummy bear packages (they were on sale) she said she figured it was enough to get me through the next few months!

This past week has been about “nesting” really settling into life on the couch. We purchased this pretty cart from Michaels to help me have more things near me (and to keep them organized).

Before MIL left we were able to arrange an outing. Camp Reset‘s movement challenge for the week included a nature photo scavenger hunt. I was dying to show MIL our favorite walk/park downtown.

Since the park was already downtown, I talked hubby into stopping by my very favorite giant pizza slice location. MIL was in shock at how big the slices are! I was thankful to actually eat sitting up, at a table!

Then we trekked to the river walk. I was thankful that hubby approved this one as more “wheel chair” friendly.

We took the “must have” picture at the love sign.

I tested out my arm muscles determined to wheel myself some, and quickly tired out, how do people wheel chair through entire 5ks?!

During this time period a new perspective has been revealed to me regarding those who need mobility devices like wheel chairs. I hadn’t expected to be able to get on the overlook platform and was elated to discover it actually had a wheel chair ramp. (I’d never noticed it before). I locked the wheel chair, and braced myself on the ledge, standing on one leg. I lost myself in the moment: hearing the music from an event, watching the flow of the river, and feeling the breeze on my skin.

After the appointment with the nurse I’d resigned myself to not have a nature trip outing, due to her insistence on elevating higher, more, in order to finally get the swelling of my foot back down. But, I was thankful that hubby had advocated for this knowing how much I’d emotionally need it.

We couldn’t scout down on the actually island, but we rolled the trail at little longer. I snapped a few more pictures, but didn’t stress myself out over finding everything on the scavenger list. I knew the importance was focusing on being present and that the list was to help us to “focus” on the things around us.

Afterward I was able to talk hubby into stopping at an ice cream place I’ve been oogling for like a year! It was nice to finish off my MIL’s time here with a memorable outing.

This isn’t a journey I would have chosen, but I’m determined to learn everything I can from it!

Had Surgery: Talus Recovery (Week Two)

Prepping for surgery:

I broke my left Talus June 30th, it was determined I needed surgery for it on 7th. Before we even left the specialist’ s office hubby called his parents’ and my Italian MamaBama agrees to come down to help.

Pre surgery involved a few outings like church and icecream:

And heading to the library for stacks and stacks of books:

I was very nervous pre surgery, not so much worried about dying, but worried about the hard climb after. The unknown of pain, level of functioning, extent of recovery time. But I was encouraged by several Bible passages: Psalm 18:33, Isaiah 28:16, and Psalm 46. In reading those verses I realized that no matter what, God would be with me through this journey.

That night neither hubby or I slept well. I was anxious about not feeling emotionally connected and I made sure he didn’t sleep either. This led to bickering that wasn’t good for either one of us. Unfortunately, it was just one of those times that I forgot we are on the same team.

The surgery

That morning came way too early. It was also a neat showcase of how hubby and I handle things differently. He was stressed wanting to do his plan which led to some more frustrations. I was very thankful for my mother in law’s (mil) peaceful presence.

After dropping dog off at a friend’s we arrived at the center. They sent me ahead in the wheelchair. I brought the stuffed monkey hubby bought me before we were dating. Ironically, I wore it around my neck into the building. The nurse asked me my age, unsure if I could be left alone. Haha. 

After check in I was weighed then got changed into the gown. I answered several medical questions from a nurse who reminded hubby and I of a bubbly curly haired friend of ours. 

She ran through the checklist then said “angelreon” Hubby and I asked her to repeat herself, still didn’t understand. Mil and her say it slower ” any jewelry on?” To which hubby and I laugh and hifive, both being confused. Then we joke about what kind of disease angelreon could even be.

We met with the Dr who answers a few more questions and I’m wheeled away again. I was nervous as I entered the operation room and they introduced me to everyone. They put the mask on me and told me to breathe deeply. I prayed and coughed as I felt the anesthesia in my body.

When I woke up I was in a different recovery area. I felt odd and I was very aware how slowly I was talking. I was aware of feeling weepy relief and being extra chatty processing what was happening around me. There was music playing and I pointed out the irony of the lyrics of American Pie “and this’ll be the day that I die”

Quickly I was reunited with my family and I felt teary again. Hubby said the surgery took the planned 45 minutes, but Dr said it went well. I was disappointed they made me sit up, I was all to ready to sleep.

The nurse focused on having me eat some crackers and drink sprite. I still felt sick so they gave me something else and these cool throw up bags. I felt fine after that. The nurses teased my hubby about how finicky he held the throw up bag. 

All I could do was wait to get home to sleep it all off. Once in bed I couldn’t sleep. It hurt (a low level ache) and I couldn’t get the pillows comfortable. 

The Dr called that night to check on me and said I should be icing my ankle as much as possible and should even make sure to move my ankle/legs often. It meant so much to hear is concern 🙂 Hubby had told me later that day the Dr said I should get all movement back up and down but he wasn’t sure about left to right due to all of the fragments. I don’t know what that will mean about my beginner ballet class.

Post Surgery

The biggest goal has been following a pain medicine routine and trying to sleep. It hasn’t hurt too much, but I’m sure the meds are to thank for that.

Sleep has been difficult to get, waking up every few hours to take pain meds. My sleep has been improving  since I claimed the couch.

Most days I’ve felt pretty nauseated or woozy thanks to the hydrocodone. I’m trying to reduce it so I feel better.

Some hours I’m back to my bubbly self excited about whatever I’m doing. Other moments I’m tired, cranky, frustrated, sick. In those moments I’m very thankful for the companionship of my mother in law who reminds me “slow and steady” and binge watches Downton abbey with me.

Tried To Reconnect and Soar

Once upon a time I began the year, so excited to connect with a live out this idea of soaring in my life. For the first few months it was easy to connect with my word and see growth in my life. I even completed the One Little Word prompts within a few days of the assignment being posted.

But then, I had this life altering event called starting a new job, so I allocated all of my attention and energies towards learning and coping this new job. It has had its ups and downs, but realizing I’ve been there for 4 months, I’m ready to meet with my word again.

So last weekend I sat down and completed several prompts. It was a good opportunity to recognize the disconnect with my word over the past few months, but it was also a time to realize that I can always restart…it isn’t over. I’m thankful for a chance to begin again 🙂

Also, I came up with this Ah-mazing acronym for my one word “Soar” (I promise you that my best friends will approve oh so much!) Stop Over Analyzing Relationships

Here are pictures of my prompts:

May:

wpid-20150822_231614.jpg

 

June:

wpid-20150822_231608.jpg

wpid-20150822_231601.jpg

 

 

July:

image

image

August:

image

Learned Life Lessons as an Adult Ballerina

So, when you start running, even just barely a mile you can call yourself a runner. I’m guessing the same is true for ballet?

2015-02-05 18.37.48

 

Due to layers and layers of snow that have fallen in Virginia the past two weeks, dance class was cancelled -again- (but it is rescheduled for tomorrow!). Figured I’d share how dance class is affecting my life and teaching me “outside the barre” lessons:

2015-02-05 18.36.29

 

 

#1 Just Shut Up and Do It!

I blame my personality but I am a big dreamer. I think I enjoy the process of thinking about things more than I do about doing them. Seriously, I’m a great idea generator and I absolutely suck at the follow through. This tendency often leaves me watching the do-ers and being jealous of what they accomplish. 

A couple of weeks ago due to another teacher being sick my beginner class was combined with the Ballet V class. PHAHHAHA! The cool thing was that we got to use the fake barres, when normally we just balance with chairs. (I totally took advantage of this and posed afterwards for pictures…but only had my camera phone on me). Participating in this class was super intimidating! The moves were easy for them. I became easily overwhelmed because there were so many of us, and often and opposite directions, so I did always have any one I could focus on to model the moves on. I felt VERY discouraged after that class.

Then, I realized how many times I want what others have. I want the flatter stomach, I want their dance skills, I want their -whatever- forgetting all of the work that THEY were willing to do to get said -whatever-. It became apparent that I could either wish for better dance skills, or I could make it happen. Thus I began to practice short ballet routines daily. (And determined to do more, and wish/whine/complain less).

 

 

#2 When You Fall Off, Get Back on the Horse

I was feeling pretty confident walking into the following week’s class, I had been practicing on a regular basis, and I could feel myself getting stronger. (seriously, I was now coordinated enough to balance better when putting pants on/off one leg, it is epic!).

This class featured more complicated routines, that I simply couldn’t keep up with. I wanted to get frustrated, but I plugged through. Then we did some center work, doing a series of degages switching from left to right side. I was flabbergasted, I couldn’t move my body to do this at all. I stood there, slowly trying, not sure how to keep myself balanced but still move. Still I grin and bore it, mentally telling myself how good it was that I was discovering what I was bad at, so I could attack them an improve!

This attitude continued to some new leaps we were introduced to. I did okay on the right side, but the left, my brain just died and derped. I ended up landing on my foot wrong, heard a giant pop, and fought intense pain as I attempted to hobble to a chair. By can do plucky attitude had just about enough at this point. I tried not to cry as everyone asked how I was, not just due to the pain, but because I felt frustrated with my body.I sat for a bit, then finished off a couple more leaps gingerly. Surprising myself by holding back my tears. No way was I about to bawl in front of everyone!

Doesn’t mean I didn’t cry on the drive home, and in front of hubby. This was the most discouraged I’d ever felt about ballet. I wondered if I should try anymore, worried about my weak ankles, worried about hurting myself again. Honestly, there was a bit of a pity party. I wanted someone to be reasonable with me, look me square in the face, and bluntly say, “Honey, ballet is not for you, why don’t you try something else” Or to find a class to take with slower moving grandmothers.

Eventually, I worked through it. And resolved again. It was a testament to how much stronger my legs have already become after 5 classes that my ankle was no longer sore after 3 days. When I last hurt it rolling it while running, it had an ache that lasted for months after. Try, try, try again!

 

 

#3 Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Okay, okay, I know this one, at least in theory. I’m often consumed with wanting things to happen now. I especially want to know more about how the rest of my life works out. I think I like to do things “now” if possible, knowing that my energy levels are often fleeting so that if I don’t attempt -thing- now I will likely never do it at all.

I’ve been watching some youtube clips of ballerinas for inspiration, the way their bodies movie, is beyond beautiful. I feel like I am daily getting stronger, but there is STILL such a long road ahead of me. With things like ballet, and others in life, I think we slowly accrue the skills over time. Its like an artist slowly chiseling away the stone. He slowly chips away at the outside, until the beautiful statue appears beneath.

I can’t get frustrated and impatient at the slower results, or else I’ll give up and never get to see the statue liberated. Likewise, growing as a Christian involves a LIFETIME of moment my moment disciplines lived out. It really is okay that I’m not perfect yet…God cares much more about me leaning on Him while He chisels away, rather than the underlying statue.

Honestly, I’m falling more in love with dance than I ever expected to do. I began this thing because some girly part of me just wanted to dance around gracefully in a tutu. As an adult, I relish how much stronger I’m becoming through each workout. Regardless of continuing classes, I hope that ballet is something that I’m at least able to keep as a workout routine for the rest of my life.

Everyone knows that Erin is a clutz. I fall downstairs, I trip over “thick air.” I fall over so much sometimes hubby doesn’t even notice, its that normal. For the first time in my life I’m doing something, moving my body artistically, in a way that can be considering beautiful and graceful. When I’m painting with my feet in my humble living room, it makes me feel like maybe I could be capable of so much more than I expected before.

Shared How I Struggle to “Let It Go”

disney-frozen_elsa-wide

 

This post is in response to this article, questioning the interpretation of Frozen’s popular “Let it Go.” Firstly, let me agree that Christians should be analyzing EVERYTHING we see, hear, watch, etc in our environment as insidious messages can quickly infect our minds. However, his conclusion is that the lyrics (below), “If there ever was a song that summed up the Disney doctrine of “being true to yourself” and “following your feelings” no matter the consequences, it’s ‘Let it Go.'”

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how some distance,
makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
I’m free!

 

I think like anything we interpret, you have to analyze it within the context. For those of you who haven’t seen this movie this song fits into a major revelation for the eldest daughter, Elsa.

She’s born with a special gift to create snow/winter weather/ice. She has an accident when she is young, and her parents teach her that she must hide, stuff her feelings. This daughter takes this message to heart and literally hides herself from the rest of the world, too afraid of what might happen. This character grows up, and appears to have a clinical diagnosis of a SEVERE anxiety disorder (her life and relationships were clearly negatively affected — unable to even comfort her sister after the death of their parents). Actually, I think that you could argue that this character’s fear/anxiety/insecurities caused a deeper level of selfishness. She was all her baby sister had, and instead of clinging together, she was afraid of her powers so she hid. She thought about herself instead of focusing on others.

Due to this anxiety, Elsa learns to hold on to her reality by controlling everything. She covers her hands with gloves at all times,  and avoids people or anything that would emotionally trigger her. This character believes that the answer to her problems is to be in control.

As someone who has her own share of anxieties/insecurities I really identified with this Disney princess…who for the first time ever…wasn’t presented to the world as PERFECT. The world…especially the Christian communities…still struggle with telling our members that we need to wear a mask…”conceal don’t feel.”

When Elsa has another mistake (while stuffing, not while embracing herself) she ends up running away. She has a moment of transformation where she realizes the previous way she’s been living wasn’t healthy…in her moment of freedom she dips towards the other extreme…but she also learns balances herself.

As a Christian, we need to understand the importance of letting go. Letting go of our insecurities/fears, the messages of this world, and letting go at the silly thought that we can control anything. We need to be surrendered, the way that Elsa surrendered and accepted her gift.

There are so many AMAZING messages in this movie, I would hate to throw it away due to over-analyzing a single portion.

-The romantic cliche of love is challenged.

-The song “Fixer Upper” has amazing truths about real love” You can’t change anyone,  we’re all in need of fixing, yet we can help inspire each other to change.

-Young women should be cautious about giving their hearts away, not everyone has kind or good intentions.

-Familial love is the most important of all.

-True love can help melt a frozen heart.

Those are some of the best messages I’ve observed in ANY Disney movie, and I plan to embrace them. Let alone this movie is filled with GORGEOUS designs, and music that is INCREDIBLE.

Frozen reminds me to “Let it Go” of the rubbish in my life that hinders me as a Christian.

Celebrated My 10th Spiritual Birthday

I can’t believe that today I can say that I’ve been a Christ follower for ten years…that is a DECADE! I’d like to be able to brag about how much I know or have grown as a Christian, but I still feel like I’ve just barely scraped the surface of what it truly means to grow in trusting God daily.

Miss Photographer

Something that I thought would be fun is to reflect on those first few moments and my journey into becoming a Christian.

My entrance into the church was through serving projects. Our area in the tidewater had been struck by a powerful hurricane in 2003. Schools were out for a few days, so I was bored. The guy that I was dating shared that his youth group was highly involved in the community. That youth group and youth director had organized projects going into the most severely affected homes and helping those people to clean and remove the storm debris.

Because of that I started to join the youth group in various activities. This led to deciding to go on the fall youth retreat.

IMG_7902 IMG_8317

One of the distinctive memories of Eastover is in riding the ferry over to that area. My youth group always thought it was fun to hold crackers or pieces of bread and wait until the seagulls would swoop seeing if they would be brave enough to maintain holding the food until the bird snatched it. Lots of screaming and laughter filled those moments.

IMG_8198

We would ride the ferry to an amazing retreat facility called Eastover. This is a beautiful dorm style facility set in a rural area. It is gorgeous with the crunchy leaves on the ground. Our days were crammed with Bible studies taught by various leaders, and many active relay races (I learned in youth ministry that this was to tire the youth out so they could focus on the lessons…sneaky…sneaky).

IMG_8119

Between all of the sessions I realized that I was opening my heart to believe about the things that were being taught about this man named Jesus. That night at the culmination Bible message (being taught by my future leader to Brazil) they offered an altar call for those who wanted to dedicate their lives to Christ. I remember standing there knowing that I wouldn’t go to heaven if for some reason I died…honestly, I was thinking that if Christ came back my boyfriend at the time would go to heaven and I wouldn’t. I remember wishing “just let someone else go first, just let someone else go first” Then, the Pastor said, “okay is there anyone else who wants to come forward” and I beelined to the front to pray with my youth director and accept Christ into my life!

IMG_8257

Afterwards, I remember praying at the front of the room with my boyfriend at the time. It was funny because I really had no idea how long I was supposed to stay there on my knees. We stayed there for awhile as everyone began to clean up the room, and head out to the bonfire under the stars. Finally, I decided to stand up, and I remember that my legs felt numb from resting on them so long, so that it felt like I was a newborn lamb walking on my legs for the first time.  It was a neat thought and metaphor for my new life.

IMG_8261

Walking out to join the youth group, I was quiet an somber, struck with the giantness of the heavens above me, of the beautiful starry skies above, and how I was going to live up there one day.

That night I shared with one of the girls near my bunk bed, my decision. She informed the rest of the room, and they did one of the coolest things that I’ve ever experienced…they began to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.

217720_1034441750344_1655_n

Therefore, Eastover still holds a special place in my heart. I attended each retreat even through my college years, returned to lead and teach sessions to the youth! The final year that I went, my husband and I were invited to attend together! It was one of the coolest things we’ve done as a couple. Surprisingly, I know I took my camera (there are pictures of it around my neck) but I can’t seem to find the pictures anywhere! Instead, I’ll fill this post with pictures from my 2008 visit.

It is cool to share this milestone with you. I’ve done so much growing from that moment, from mission trips, from personal failures, from witnessing God’s victories, from quiet seasons, from times where God’s providence has been so obvious in my life. I can truly say that no matter what the season is, that God has proven that He will always be there for me. Here’s to the next few decades of living my life for Christ…I cling to the promise that He will finish what He has begun in me. Philippians 1:6.

Random fact…I haven’t looked at these pictures in years, and they are prime example of my need to sort and edit my photos! But, it is neat to see that these pictures from 2008 are definitely in the same style of the pictures I still take today five years later. Its neat to thing that I have similar things that I tend to capture photographically.

Pursued Joy

wpid-IMG_20130921_204655.jpgTonight whilst in a coffee shop (not Starbucks, don’t worry ;)) with the husband, I realized a truth about myself, and it wasn’t pretty. I found myself sighing while drinking my coffee realizing that my day to day goal in life is chasing empty temporary means of happiness, which often leave me disappointed. I was sad about the specific disappointments of the day, but had the deeper sadness of realizing that I, myself, was the true source of my sadness or disappointment.

Let me tell you how my day started…(feel free to skim these, just trying to get you inside my head and show you the extent of my search of happiness today).

*We ended up waking up/getting up after noon which always makes me feel like the day is already half over, and makes me feel like we aren’t really going to be able to do anything or accomplish anything.

*I was excited because we’d been talking about traveling 45 minutes away to go to a Greek Festival. I was looking forward to experiencing culture since I’ve missed traveling this summer. However, we decided not to try it based on reviews from a friend.

*We talked about going to a different local, beer and wine festival. We drove down to check it out before committing the $40.00 for tickets for us. Due to the increased rain and expense of the tickets we decided not to go.

*I finally decided to visit a local camera store I’ve been wanting to browse since we bought the DSLR…and we walk up to the store front only to read the sign “Sept 21, 2013 will be our last day of business” and the doors were locked.

*We were gonna have a photography adventure, knowing that overcast light drizzles produce some of the best images. Then, the rain began to stream harder, effectively killing that idea.

*We visited a recently reopened restaurant that we’d dubbed “our place” back in college, for lunch. I decided to be brave and order the “Bangers and Mash” because it was British. When I order food, I tend to place a lot of significance in the experience of having that food fulfill my food cravings. This food was tasty, but the taste wasn’t quite right for “my mood,” so I didn’t find that satisfaction that I was looking for.

*We drove around for awhile wondering what to do. We eventually decided to have a snack “in date night” while watching tv shows. I’d hoped the snack foods and tv shows would help me find the happiness that I was seeking, instead I just kept audibly sighing in boredom. I wasn’t fulfilled.

*Around 7pm after snoozing a little after our snacks, husband decided that he wanted to go to a coffee shop and chat. So, we drove on out. I found this drink called “Stardust” which was described as a bronzed white chocolate mocha….I love anything white chocolate, plus with a name like “Stardust” how could I not be inspired. I didn’t admit it to myself…but really there was this idea in my head that if this taste could be perfect…than the rainy boring day of disappointment could be redeemed. At the first taste…it was slightly more cinnamon based than I was hoping for. Add the fact that the only seating husband and I could find were two larger solo chairs that were far apart, and there was loud live music that I wasn’t going to be able to talk over and I was disappointed again.

Reading all of that back I’m so ashamed of how whiney that sounds! So I sank more into a funk while husband was eagerly willing to chat. (We are such opposites, lol!). It was hard for me to talk to him, while wrestling with this terrible truth about myself…that I was searching for happiness in all of these meaningless temporal things when I should be steadfast in joy. It was difficult realizing that I was setting myself up for failure.

On one hand part of the reason that I look for those little excitements in life, is because I want to enjoy life. I was to live each day for the fullest, but sometimes I get stuck in the idea that that means that I have to be happy…which isn’t anything that Jesus has ever promised me.

Part of the reason that I started this blog a long time ago was because I was stuck. I was going through major stages of transition, having graduated, gotten married, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life. Therefore, I decided to celebrate the “little things” in life to be excited about whatever God puts in my life.

I don’t want to stop doing that, some of the ways I think God uses me is through that joyfulness of my experiences…but I need to stop relying on them for my happiness and finding more meaningful things to base my happiness on. I don’t want to let those externals guide my emotions anymore…I want to be secure in Christ.

So, I’ve blogged about this to act as a type of confession, and a dedication to live for true joy instead of the roller coaster ride of happiness and inevitable disappointments.

Solved the Gun Massacre Problem

This post originates from a random tweet that I came across a few mornings ago from a twitter account about Italy (followed because I miss Italy and like to stay updated about it!)

Because I have become so educated about these types of arguments, and they’ve become common place in my life…I actually decided to respond. This was probably not the wisest decision of my life, as arguments on the internet rarely amount to good. I, at least, always tend to get involved in them with people who don’t really care about listening to your side of the debate and throw it in your face. :-/

This back and forth on twitter quickly degenerated to:

At that point I was beyond frustrated, but realized that pointlessness of that specific conversation. It was difficult that this person decided to push this terrible tragic problem back in my face when I was already proposing a solution, reminding me that precious young lives were taken unfairly.

So, that person wanted me to provide solutions? Well, here they are, here are my individual personal solutions for America’s Gun Massacre problem. This problem is so widespread that it often feels like a single person cannot make a dent in such tragedies. However, this is my attempt.

1. Pray. I will pray for those families, for that community. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of pain that they are suffering through right now. Likely, those parents were probably having a busy morning, just trying to rush to get their children to school or to the bus stop, and had no idea those rushed moments may have been their last with their kindergartner. It breaks my heart. I pray for all of the parents who have to explain to their children that such evil exists in the world, and to try to learn how to make them feel safe and secure again.

2. Understand that evil will always exist in the world. Unfortunately evil is in the world because humans sinned. Our world is broken, and the human heart has a propensity towards awful things. I will pray that God can bring more people to Himself, and change those hearts. I will live my life as a witness to Him, sharing His hope and salvation everywhere that I go, in as many of my actions as possible. Unless we deal with the root issues about the desire of violence and destruction anyone can use any tool to hurt anyone else.

3. Learn about mental health. I am specifically gaining an education to be able to help those who are stressed, distressed, or mentally ill in this world. However, we can all do our part. We can reach out to those around us, to create fewer alone people. Also, we can make mental health check ups and counseling seen as a normal process. If it were less stigmatized I think that more people would go to counseling and get help. I would also weep with those who weep. Those people affected by this tragedy don’t need to hear your words, or how “you know” how it feels, because you don’t. Unless in that specific situation we’ll never completely feel or understand their pain. When those around us are in a crisis we need to shut up and simply be with them, let them know that they’re not alone, and allow them the freedom to grieve at their own pace.

4. Point out logical fallacies. Unfortunately  we tend to not care about issues as much until they are personal or tangible to us. Therefore, the prime time to discuss this and make decisions about how to prevent such tragedies in the future is when such tragedies have just occurred. It is important that this be attempted as sensitively as possible, but is necessary for us to process this tragedy in our action oriented minds to progress towards prevention in the future. This includes: awakening people to the evils of the millions of abortions in this world, as well as the fact that our government uses drones overseas and destroys school houses filled with innocent children. To be logically consistent we need to believe that all life is precious and sanctified and work to protect it.

5. Protect one’s self from evil. Personally, my husband and I (and several of our friends) means that we’ve decided to carry a firearm daily in order to protect our lives, our future children, or others around us from such terrible acts of violence. I pray to God to never have to be in a situation to use my firearm, but have that tool in order to protect against the inevitable evil in the world. Much like Christian author and missionary Charl Van Wyk who was sitting in a church service in South Africa, and was able to defend his congregation against a terrorist attack, minimizing the effects of the terrible shooting. His accounts are recorded in an excellent book entitled Shooting Back: The Right and Duty to Self Defense. I would highly recommend it, and book review is located on my book blog!

6. Train yourself to be able to defend yourself in such horrific situations. Its not enough simply to own a gun or defensive tool (like martial arts, a baseball bat, a knife, or pepper spray) you need to know and feel comfortable enough to use it if necessary. One way that I train is to participate in local gun club competitions that simulate real life situations. International Defensive Pistol Association is a great example and you can read more about my experiences with that.

7. Get involved in local politics to defend your right to defend yourself. Sadly, after these debates instead of focusing on the the tragedy, it is used to highlight agendas citing that handguns equal violence and we should remove them all. However, logical fallacy again…those who were ruthlessly murdered were in a “safe” gun free zone. I really hope this is the last brutal massacre that we need to convince us that our current laws and restrictions aren’t working about guns. When citizens do not have access to guns, criminals, and mentally ill people know that they will not be unhindered in their cruelty. Some of the ways that I work to protect my legal defense rights are to participate with Virginia Citizen Defense League. It is a wonderful organization that works to show the state legislature how the gun owning community feels and represents us well. One of their main events is to head to Richmond for Lobby Day. Here we meet with our representatives while openly carrying our legally held firearms and discuss the policy that is being proposed for the next session.  Previous to that experience I’ve always hated politics believe it to be an inefficient process. However, meeting with my state representatives gave me a way to be actively involved in the process.

Specifically, what I would love to see happen is a law passed that enabled teachers and administration to be able to legally carry concealed weapons within a school. This would not prevent tragedy, but at least would offer some level of defense against such an event. One day I’ll be a parent, and right now I would have a hard time wanting to sent my child to a school outside of my own home, simply for their safety. Interestingly enough, these massacres are not only a US problem, but killing sprees are happening all over the world. I just discovered this article from 2009 about a recent mass shooting in a school in Germany following other such massacres in 2002, and 2006. This article shared the fact that teachers in Israel have been carrying weapons since the 1970’s and that in 2004 Thailand adopted a policy that allowed teachers to be issued firearm licenses if they desired. The article quotes:

The report stated that though Thailand’s government was extremely hostile to gun ownership in general, it recognized that teachers ought to be in a position to safeguard themselves and their students.

Even more recently the Virginia Governor and a former NYPD police detective are advocating teachers and administration be allowed to carry read further here, and here respectively.

8. Remind yourself that there is good in the world and appreciate life. Reports of this nature are devastating even for those not affected by the tragedy. Twitter and Facebook are filled with comments from parents of young children who were unable to sleep well. I think to work through this besides what I’ve listed above, it is important to enjoy life and to realize anew how much each moment is a gift. We are not guaranteed one more second on this earth. Therefore, hug your children close to you, spend time with friends and loved ones, reach out to those around you. Be kind to those in need, and “Pay it forward”. Live out your faith, and share His perfect love.

Eaten at a Cook-Out

A Cook out is a restaurant chain popular in North Carolina, one opened up about a week ago and I was excited to try it. Basically, one of the only things to do around here is eat food, because this city is all filled with baptists. ;0).

I went today and the parking lot was crowded and cars were circled twice around the building (it is also a double drive thru, but still both lines were completely filled) as well as there were lines to get to parking. However, I was immediately impressed with the forethought that this was handled with. They had several staffers outside to help direct people to the correct line, hand them copies of the menus to decide while waiting, as well as help them navigate through the parking lot to leave. This level of attention to detail immediately made me think of Chikfila, as they also handle lines very well.

Inside there were a line of customers circled within the interior of the building. I went with another couple, so the man friends waited in line, as we held down the booth, and texted them our orders. I got the BBQ sandwich tray (having be recommended by several staffers throughout the day). This included two choices of sides, which I picked coleslaw and hushpuppies. This came with a drink but I substituted a strawberry cheesecake milkshake. The wait wasn’t too long, the staff had everything perfected pretty smoothly, despite that this was their first week or so of business.

The food was excellent! I think I also would have loved getting the onion rings and fries as a side (I don’t think this restaurant will help my plan at all to get healthier). The milkshakes are very think, the most difficult part is sitting there want to drink more because it taste so good, but struggling with the straw! One of our friends looked down at the cups and realized that there were bible references on the cups. I found this awesome! And, I am glad that I was so impressed with this place before I knew that they are Christian. Because, honestly it should be able to stand out first, before you find out its a Christian company. If it is Christian it ought to be better!