Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pearls before Swine

Lately one particular biblical passage keeps coming into my mind: “Do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

These words and the spirit of giving that permeates (but is not limited to!) the holiday season have got me thinking about gifts. Gifts tangible, gifts immaterial, gifts acknowledged, and gifts given only in the quiet of our own hearts. And the value of gifts. A gift has value in the eyes of the giver, and in the eyes of the gifted. If these don’t match, is there any absolute, objective value for a gift?

If you’re raised a Christian like I’ve been, you’ve heard the parable of the master who gave talents to his servants in proportion to their desserts, and rejoiced in the servants that cultivated and multiplied his gifts, but was angry with the servant, who for fear of losing the one talent he was given, went and hid it, and had no more to show than the one talent when his master came back. God, I believe, has an absolute value that He places on the gifts He gives us, and that value is not changed by how other people feel about them, or by how we feel about them. If we don’t like them, we might not use them well, and might derive no more blessing from them, but still they have that value in His eyes.

But I’ve been thinking about things on a more human level.

Back to the pearls before swine. I try every day to be myself, completely and unconditionally. And yes, I’m arrogant enough to see this as a gift I give to the world in general. I mean, I feel like who I am and what I have was certainly a gift given to me, so sharing that with others has an incredible value, at least in my eyes. I want to multiply my talents, instead of hiding them. I’m afraid I’ve done too much hiding them in the past, because I had hoped for different gifts. But I’ve come to value the gifts He’s given me much more. More every day. I’m not always as grateful as I should be, but I try to be, and I try to share. So the pearls, such as they are, pretty much end up flying off of me in all directions. It’s a constant barrage of pearls, some admittedly of greater price than others. But it’s me. I feel like I’m constantly shedding bits of myself wherever I go, and stopping to look around for swine is not normally part of the equation.

Maybe it’s a large component of my innocence that I pretty much fail to recognize the existence of swine in my world. I just assume that people are caring, are conscientious, are compassionate. That they give me the benefit of the doubt, that they want to know me, and knowing me, will of course care about me. I really can’t imagine the person that would have absolutely no value for me as a person, and would trample me under their feet, and turn and tear me to pieces.

But, realistically speaking, these people must be out there. Maybe they’re even people I know, but just don’t know well enough to know that I don’t know them. Or something. Right. So, I would like to firmly believe that giving of myself to people who don’t see the value does absolutely nothing to lessen that value. I am worth just as much with them in my life as without them. And in the immortal (if paraphrased) words of my buddy Tim, “If they don’t care about you, f*ck’em.” (Incidentally, Tim, to find this quote, I searched my e-mail and chats for the F word, and the vast majority of the entries are attributable to you. :-P)

But here’s an interesting question. What if I know someone has a lower value than I do for something I want to share? What if, knowing this, I decide to share it with them anyway, because I’d rather do that than completely shut myself off, and because I’m sure they must have some value for it, even if it’s not equal to my own? Does what I give become cheapened by my willingness to share it where it isn’t wanted, or isn’t valued as highly?

I guess giving advice is a good example. Advice is almost always of more value to the person giving it than the person getting it. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be given, necessarily. It’s just a tricky situation that has to be judged on its own individual merits. I guess that’s the only real answer to my questions above: it depends.

But, to mix biblical metaphors, do gifts cheapen when cast before swine? In some ways, I do think they might. Maybe. The pearls get muddy and broken. But the one talent was no less at the end of the tale than at the beginning. Except in that it was no more. And will the swine really turn around and attack me? I can’t really believe it. I probably never will, unless it happens. I pray to God it never does. But these thoughts keep coming to mind, and I continue to chew them over, if only to keep myself from getting complacent and stagnant and even more arrogant. :-P

Anyone else have any insight on this? I’d be happy to hear it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mixed Emotions

Okay, first off...


For the first time since 1961, Rice is going to a bowl game. No idea which one yet, but I WILL be there. No missing this. Amazing game, too. We went ahead 17-0 in the first quarter. The second quarter, not so good. Went down 24-17. Tied it up, then went down 27-24, but twice kept SMU from scoring from about the 3 yard line. Finally made a touchdown with several minutes left, and managed to hold them for as long as it took.

Ridiculously exciting, and very very happy for the team and my school and my band and my friends. Incredibly amazing, with this being Coach Todd Graham's first season.

Then I got bad news. A friend of mine lost her grandfather Thanksgiving night. I've lost so many of my own family, and it's just a terrible feeling. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, and my heart goes out to her and her family. What a rough, rough way to spend the holidays. On the one hand, there's the feeling thankful for the fact that a special person was a part of your life, and that you could share part of their journey with them. But you've lost something, too. Something that will never come back. And she was already planning to visit an ailing grandmother, and had to cancel that trip. Who knows if she'll get another chance to see *her* in time. Just, no words. Concern, sympathy, care, love, support, helplessness, humility in the face of a power that can't be gainsaid.

So my earlier jubilation is fairly tempered. I'm thankful for the win and the wonderful opportunity, of course. But more than that, I pray for my friend and her family in their loss. What a day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks

Pining to turn in right now. My metabolism has retreated into its cave to gnaw on Thanksgiving supper, so I'm cold, and my eyes definitely want a restraining order against my contacts. But I really need to post this before a good night's sleep turns today into yesterday. And today was Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for so many things.
  • The fact that I will soon curl up in soft PJ's in my nice warm bed in my beautiful and comfortable apartment.
  • The gorgeous weather today that allowed me to enjoy playing at the Uptown Lighting Festival, instead of making it the miserable trial by shivering that it normally is.
  • The adoption referral Jim and Reb got that means they might soon be parents, YAY!
  • Joe and Amy's engagement.
  • Getting paid to do something I really enjoy, and am REALLY good at.
  • Having time in my life for the people I care about and the things I love to do, like reading and music.
  • Feeling the grace of God, and the movement of His Spirit in my life, even when I have no idea where I'm going.
  • The fact that Rice football actually has a shot at post-season play.
  • A wonderful, loving, supportive family, that I really missed spending time with today.
  • A life fully worth living and fully lived, loved, and laughed at, even though it hurts sometimes.
  • Going out to lunch with wonderful friends, and eating a fabulous pork chop, then helping make dinner for other wonderful friends, who all loved my cheesy chicken casserole.
  • ALL of my wonderful friends who have loved me and supported me and put up with me through so much. And that means, of course, that I'm so very thankful for...
  • YOU!
God bless, I love you all, and hope you had a peaceful, restful, and thanks-full Thanksgiving!

Good night!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The good news...

Very brief update, for those keeping score. Lab work came back. I’m roughly as healthy as your average clydesdale. :-P

Cell counts all great, cholesterol low. Oh, and I'm O+ just like my mother.

The bad news? The only thing doc can tell me to do about getting sick is to get more sleep, take vitamin C, and have my flu shot every year. And a pneumonia vaccine every 5 years.

Okay, back to life!

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Game: You tool!

Do you want to play a game?

Thanks to OOKaty (or her friend Josh) for the idea. I don't think this is as cool as the rhetorical question thing, but it has potential. It has a *lot* of potential to go south very fast, too, but think the ride will be fun. So here's the question.

If you were a tool, what would you be, and why?

Laura's answer: An eyeglasses screwdriver, because I'm small, meticulous, not very helpful for the heavy jobs, but good for just about any detailed work.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I got a BIG BOX!!! from FedEx today! I got the FedEx tag on my door, and my eyes grew wide in instant and delighted comprehension. It came it came it came!!! It's here it's here it's here!!!

I scurried down to the leasing office, and as they started glancing over the little shelves where they would have put a little box, I said, "I'm pretty sure it's the BIG one!"

And it was! It's about 4' tall and a little over 2' wide and about 8" deep. Just too big for me to carry comfortably, of course. And being as I scurried right back down after going up to my apartment, I was still in heels and slacks. But I didn't care! IT WAS HERE!

Oh. What was here? Well, just my new strap, stand, gig bag and tuner for my dad's guitar, that's all! :-D

Laura is happy!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Telling myself I'm being irrational isn't helping

Okay. If you don't remember the tests the doctor said he would run, here's the rundown: allergies, infections, thyroid, kidneys, anemia, diabetes...

and leukemia.

I know, I know. He's just running every test he can think of. Dave G. patted me on the shoulder Monday and said he was only doing it because the other doctors would laugh at him if it turned out to be that and he hadn't tested for it. But every time I think of getting my test results back, I keep coming back to this, no matter what, and I'm trying not to be stupid. But I'm scared.

I'm scared that the fevers and the respiratory infections and the strange feelings I've been ignoring because I can't explain them might add up to something big, even though they seem small enough in themselves.

I'm scared because for the next two weeks, no one can tell me I do have anything really bad and scary, but nobody can tell me for sure that I don't.

I'm scared because I'm not in control. There's nothing I can do. I am not okay with this. I know I'm supposed to accept God's plan for me with grace and serenity. But I'm terrible at grace and serenity. I'm much better at fighting and fixing. And right now I can't do anything.

I tried to reassure myself by looking up the symptoms on WebMD. If you ever want to try that, don't. It's never reassuring. There are lots of symptoms listed that I don't have, sure. But some of the ones listed sound hauntingly like some of the things I've bee telling myself were nothing, couldn't be anything.

Fevers and night sweats. I've always been so cold natured, but a couple of times over the past year I've woken up and found myself drenched. And I've had the sore throat things, but I've also run fever at times with no other symptoms other than the achy weariness of the fever.

Frequent or unusual infections. See above about sore throats. Depends on how you define frequent. Every month? Every three months? It's been at least that for the past two years.

Weakness and fatigue. I won't go there. I'm always tired. I think it has more to do with my lifestyle at the moment than my blood. Some other iffy ones like loss of appetite, which I've noticed lately, but then, I do still eat just fine, so that's probably just occasional stress. I'm not exactly easy going. And like I said, a lot of symptoms that I don't have.

And okay, so WebMD does say some reassuring things. I don't really fit any of the higher risk categories. I don't smoke, I've never had chemotherapy, and I have no family history.

Okay, so you'd think I'd be able to reason myself out of this. Yes, I realize I'm being incredibly doomsday about this. Yes I realize that I'm a worrier, and a worst case scenario sort of person. I'm melodramatic and hyperemotional and prone to all sorts of terrors once I let my imagination loose. I'm trying to keep things under control.

But I'm scared. I try not to think about it, but I'm scared.

All I can do is wait and pray and enjoy myself the way I always do. There isn't much else for it. I've given over this space of time to my witless little worryings and whinings. I don't intend to let them spill over into my productivity or ebullience over the next 13 days. I'll be better tomorrow, and I'll do my best not to be a wet blanket. Things always look better in the morning, and no sense not having my usual Wednesday fun.

Curse, WebMD, though. It's going to be a long two weeks.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Morning Adventures

Warning, my morning was a tiny bit on the gory side.

So today I went in to the doctor's office so they could take some blood and run some tests. My bout with strep throat exactly a month ago was really the culmination of several months of on and off respiratory woes. The day I moved into my new apartment I ran a fever, and I really haven't felt completely up to speed since then. I'm still coughing from the strep, and the doctor says I can expect a couple more weeks of that. Fun. So today I went in because we want to know why I keep getting sick, and to make sure this isn't just a symptom of some larger problem. Or even just allergies.

My appointment was for 9 AM, and I got there exactly on time. I walked in, and saw something I'd never seen in my entire life. A completely empty waiting room. Seriously, have you ever gone to a general practitioner's office and been the only person there? It was surreal! I walked over to the window to sign in, and asked the receptionist, "Where is everybody?" She replied, "I know! We've all been wondering if our watches were wrong!" So I got checked in immediately, put on the scale (152 lbs and holding, which is good considering the crap I eat :-P), then shown to an examination room. They took my blood pressure. (100 over 73, should I be worried that it's lower every time they take it, and it's not like I do any sort of cardio work out? Then again, I hadn't had my morning caffeine yet.)

One nurse put me in a chair, propped my arm on the extendable part of the examination table while the other collected the necessary supplies. When she tossed about five or six empty vials down on the table, my eyes got a little wide, and the other nurse said, "Wow, he's running everything on you!" I guess I'm a wimp, but some of the vials looked huge to me. Only one was the size I was used to seeing. The first lady said, "You got good veins, honey?" I laughed nervously and said, "Not at all." I don't. I have terrible veins. Me having blood taken is rarely anything less than a miserable experience.

She looked over and prodded my right arm. Then pulled up the sleeve on my left and looked and prodded some more. She pulled out the elastic band and tied of my left arm and had me make a tight fist (this is when I realized I really should have cut my finger nails), and looked and prodded. The other nurse came over and looked. They went back to my right arm, banded it, I made a fist, more looking and prodding, hemming and hawing. You can see the veins. But you can't feel them, and one suspects you cannot find them with the needle. So the nurse said she was not going to stick me, and we'd wait for Victor to get in. Victor the vampire. Heeehee! Brilliant.

I thanked her profusely for looking first, before sticking me. Can't tell you how many times they've gone prospecting for veins by just jabbing the needle in a likely spot, only to come up dry. The best was the time they went from right to left to right to left, and ended up bruising both my arms. So I was perfectly okay with waiting for Victor the vampire. Besides, it gave me time to clip my finger nails. :-)

So I asked where the bathroom was, so I could clip my nails over the sink, and the nurse said while I was in there, I may as well pee in a cup. Hey, it never hurts. And it would suck to use the restroom and then find out they needed a sample. I've done that. And I've also sat in a doctor's office for over an hour because I couldn't manage a large enough sample for my employment screening drug test. But that's another story...

So by the time I got back to my room, Victor had arrived. He took my right arm, banded it, and ran his finger over the crook of my elbow. He raised my hand and massaged the blood back towards my elbow, and ran his finger over the veins again. He found a fairly promising one pretty far back on my arm, so I had to keep my arm twisted pretty severely. I finally ended up with my arm on the extendable part of the table, and my head and shoulder resting on the other part, so that this didn't hurt. (He did ask first off if I had any joint pain. I don't, but this is the arm I slept on funny Saturday night, and it's been a little sore since then. Oh well!)

So he bands off my arm even tighter, I make a fist, and he slides the needle in and pops the vial into the holder. Eureka! He found it! Thank God. First try and everything. It didn't even hurt! Victor is my new favorite person.

With my head resting on the table, all I can really see is what he's doing to my arm, so it's a good think I'm not too scared of needles, and I'm not bothered too much by blood. But watching the vials fill up one after the other was kind of disturbing. For one thing, blood doesn't flow. It... well... it spurts. So the level in the vial rises rhythmically following my heartbeats. This was kinda nasty, but also kind of fascinating to watch.

I've never had them take that much blood from me. I mean, we're not talking pints, but still. It seemed to take forever, but really it was probably record time. Still, I'm feeling kind of tired, even now, just a little dizzy, and I really want a steak. Can you get those delivered? :-P

Anyways, the doctor came in and talked with me a little about my cough and what sort of tests they'd be running. They'll check for diabetes, leukemia, thyroid problems, anemia, all sorts of stuff, including allergies. They'll go ahead and check my cholesterol (been meaning to have that done) and at my request (and insurance might not cover it) they'll check my blood type. It's something I feel like I should know, and don't. The doctor agrees it's good information to have. My money's on O+ like my mother, though O-, A+, and A- are also possibilities. If a B shows up, we have problems. ;-)

At any rate, I now have another 9 AM appointment for Monday, November 20, to see if my cough is any better, and to get my test results. I kind of suspect I'm a little anemic. My coworker says she was anemic in high school, and she was always cold, and didn't heal very fast, and those both go for me as well. And I do have other allergies. Maybe I have some that I don't know about that make me predisposed to all this respiratory junk. But when he started saying things like leukemia and diabetes, I got a little scared. I mean, I don't have any family history, which is reassuring, but still... Well, I guess I'll find out in a few weeks.

In the mean time, seriously, does anyone know of a steak place that delivers?