Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google Me

FACT: The number one way people find my blog is by entering the words "lazy" and "Christian" into Google.

So weird that it's a verb now.
This is according to my Blogger stats, of course. The same stats that tell me that, after the U.S., my main source of readership is Russia. Canada is third. Interesting! My husband says I should get a shirt that says, "I'm big in Russia." I'm in if I can find it in Russian!

But I digress.

I always wonder what these people are looking for. I mean, it's entirely possible a few of them were actually looking for me. They heard my name somewhere. But to have that many hits? I don't think they were looking for me, specifically. I think they were looking for one of two things:

1. How to BE a lazy Christian and get by with it. In which case, this isn't exactly going to give them the answers they want.

2. How NOT to be a lazy Christian. That's the part I try to help with, despite all my shortcomings and flaws and silliness.

Or there could be some other reason they're searching for those words together. I don't know. I did have one person e-mail me saying he searched for "lazy" and "Christian" because his daughter felt like one and was having a crisis of faith because of it. That's tough.

My family (addition coming soon).
It makes me think about what I want to enter into a search engine. Is Godgle a thing? (I realize that's a horrible, clunky name. Apologies.) I feel like, right this moment, my search is for peace. Peace with my past and my future, specifically. Laying things to rest that are behind me and not allowing them to affect my life so drastically anymore. And then peace with my future in an uncertain world, especially when it comes to my family. I worry so much about what will happen to the three (almost four!) of us in the coming years. I just want us to all be together, something death prevented in my family when I was growing up. I'm afraid it'll happen again in my little family.

So this starts me thinking about you fine folks who are reading this blog. What are you looking for? Truly? Do you feel like you have a big, daily search going on in your life? Some overarching theme in your life to which you're constantly trying to find answers?

If life had a search engine, what would you be typing in every day?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Pain of Grey's Anatomy

WARNING: This is a long one. But I've never shared this story before, so I hope you think it's interesting.

I'm on this new kick of watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix. I don't know why I started; I'd never watched the show before. But so many people rave about it that I thought I'd give it a shot.

If you've never watched the show, it's all about these surgical interns at a hospital in Seattle. They all kind of compete for the most surgeries—or at least the most interesting surgeries. One of the doctors—dubbed "McDreamy"—is a neurosurgeon. He does lots of brain and back surgeries.

And watching this kind of freaks me out, since I actually had back surgery in 2008. On my anniversary. While I was pregnant.

Write an episode about THAT, Grey's Anatomy!

No, McDreamy didn't perform my surgery.
I had ruptured my L4/L5 disc somehow, and the pain was too much. My neurosurgeon (actually, the head of neurosurgery at the big hospital) said he hadn't seen a rupture that awful in all his 30 years of medicine, and he couldn't believe I was only 28 years old.

Aww, shucks. You really know how to flatter a girl, Doc!

The night before the surgery, I was freaking out. I'm not even sure I slept. I prayed almost all night and had to be at the hospital by 6am for prep. But I got there, and I was actually pretty calm the morning of the surgery. A few of my friends from church came to pre-op to pray with me, and that was awesome. The funniest conversation during prep:

Nurse:  If you'll come into the next room, we need to get a urine sample to make sure you're not pregnant.
Me: Well, I am pregnant.
Nurse: (gives me the hairy eyeball) What?
Me: No, it's OK. The doctors know. They have a special setup and everything.
Nurse: (still eyeing me) I'm just going to go check on that...

Hilarious! I was cracking jokes with the doctor. The resident who was assisting on the surgery came in and asked how I was feeling. I said fine and asked how he was. He said, "I'm OK. I'm a little nervous that you're pregnant, honestly." My reply? "Oh, it's OK! Don't be nervous!"

And, yet, it didn't freak me out to be reassuring the medical staff. I knew it was a new surgery for most of them—actually, for all of them. This hospital had never done a discectomy on a pregnant woman before. They couldn't have me lay on my stomach, and they couldn't use an x-ray machine during the procedure. I would have to lie on my side, and they'd have to rely on their eyesight alone to remove the pieces of disc that were pressing against my spinal cord. No Mr. Magoo's on call today, please!

(Awkward side note: A girl I later became friends with is that resident's wife. We didn't know it at first until I mentioned my surgery, and, as it was a one-of-a-kind surgery, she knew he'd been in on it. When someone's seen inside your spine, socializing can be a bit weird.)

I was fine right up until it was time for me to go back to the operating room. Having to say goodbye to my husband was difficult, of course. The nurse who came to retrieve me looked like it was her first day out of nursing school—she was very young. I think her name was Anne. She asked if I wanted to be wheeled back on the bed or if I wanted to walk back. I said I may as well walk back, since it may be a while before I walked comfortably again.

Or at all, I thought. There's always a risk of paralysis when they're working on your spine. The other risk I wasn't thinking about much that morning was the risk to the baby. They had taken so many precautions when it came to the operation itself and the anesthesia that I guess I didn't feel the need to worry about the baby as much? I don't know.

So Anne and I started walking. She asked if I wanted her to hold my hand. I laughed and said no. Then we got to the doors of the operating room and I peeked in the windows. It looked just like the operating rooms on TV: bright lights, an operating table, lots of machines, carts with assorted surgical instruments.

I promptly began freaking out.

I started to sob, and that little nurse hugged me and said, "It's OK. You'll be fine. We do this every day. People have back surgery every day. It's OK, Rachel." I'm actually tearing up a little recalling it. Anne took my hand and led me into the operating room, she helped me up onto the table, and she didn't let go of my hand until I was out cold. The anesthesiologist said, "This mask is just some oxygen, since you're a little upset. It will help calm you down." Liar! It was totally the happy gas! I was out cold in ten seconds flat.

When I woke up, I was in the recovery room. If you've never had surgery, it's the weirdest feeling. I had no idea how long I was out, but it was apparently somewhere around four and a half hours. The surgery itself had taken about three and a half hours, and then it took me almost an hour to come out of the anesthesia. A nurse came over with an ultrasound machine to check on the baby, and I remember saying, "Can I hear the heartbeat? Does it have a heartbeat? Can I hear it?" Even in my medicinal fog, I thought to myself, Well, of course the baby would still be there even if it didn't make it. A heartbeat will be the important thing. The nurse told me that the machine didn't have speakers, but that the baby did, in fact, have a heartbeat.

I was relieved. And then I threw up. I hate anesthesia.

They took me up to a room in maternity for the night, and my husband met me there. They made me get up and walk to the bathroom and to another hospital room in a different wing (there was apparently a birthing boom that night), which made me grumpy. It hurt! My husband and I ate trays of hospital food while we watched the season finale of America's Next Top Model (this was our third wedding anniversary, remember). Whitney won, so I was pleased. And what pleased me even more is that the nerve pain I'd been dealing with for months was gone. I was finally fixed!

Everyone says that giving birth is really the epitome of pain. Either that or breaking a femur. But the next morning as my husband was helping me out of the hospital room shower, I bumped my hip on the sink. Barely brushed it, and suddenly I was in excruciating pain. I started to cry, but that apparently uses back muscles (and mine had recently been cut apart), so that made it hurt even worse. It was a ten on the pain scale, if I've ever felt it. It was awful. And I think that watching Grey's Anatomy and the back surgeries on there reminds me most of that—the pain. That moment where I really thought I was going to pass out, it hurt so badly. Ugh.

Recovery was difficult. I was terrified my husband would hit me in the back (or touch me even slightly) in our sleep, so he slept in our guest room. Still, I was pregnant and needed to use the bathroom in the night, so he kept his cell phone by the bed. I'd call him, he'd come in and help me out of bed and to the bathroom, he'd help me back into bed, and he'd go back to the guest room. These are things the under-30 crowd doesn't really anticipate until we're the over-80 crowd, but my husband was so good to me while I was recovering. Talk about true love!

He turned out just fine!
And people have said, "Wow. Pregnant and having back surgery, all at the same time? Tough break, kid!" But you know what? It worked out perfectly. I was able to carry my son to term (which I would have had a hard time with if I had to deal with all the nerve pain), and he was (and is) perfectly happy and healthy. And because the back surgery had met our max out-of-pocket deductible for our insurance, my son's delivery ended up being free! Well, relatively speaking, of course.

What more could a mother want?

I suppose the lesson I learned from all of this (and thank you for reading all of it, by the way), is that sometimes things that seem to be coming together to form the perfect storm are really just—perfect. God can use all of our situations for good, if we're willing to see it. While it doesn't sound ideal to have to undergo back surgery while pregnant, God can use even that situation to show he's got your best interests at heart.

Which he does. Always.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Over the Rainbow

Not too long ago, my friends and I were talking about our mindsets when it comes to accomplishments in life. Many of my friends are goal-oriented people. They feel valuable when they're getting stuff done and putting out important work. They have big goals in mind and are working toward them.

Then it was my turn to talk. I'm not really "goal-oriented" that way. Sometimes it feels like I just kind of dance through life, and whatever opportunities bump into me, those are the ones I take next. I'm not really aiming for anything in particular—I just take life as it comes.

Me. I'm the yellow one.
My friends' summation: "So you float on clouds and slide down rainbows."

Yep! That sounds about right! I'm apparently a Care Bear.

I don't really know how I came to be this way. There are some things in my life over which I feel the need to exert excessive control: the kinds of tennis shoes I buy, for example. I need to have the exact. same. ones. every time. I about had a coronary when they discontinued my Nike running shoes. And I've explained before that I don't really like surprises, so it doesn't appear to make any sense that I would be OK with life handing me surprise after surprise.

My Christian nature wants to say, "Yeah, this is totally me trusting God! I'm so awesome at trusting him!" But it doesn't feel like that, either. Sometimes I feel lazy that I'm not chasing goals like my friends. (Because, you know, I need to look for more ways I'm lazy.) Shouldn't I have gotten more done by now? I have friends who are awesome journalists and well-known writers and leaders in their communities. Some of them have had super cool careers with the Colts and other famous organizations. And here I am, just waiting for stuff to bump into me. Yes, I know—I shouldn't be comparing myself to other people, I have a different journey, yada yada yada. But I'm just so—stationary.

Here's an example: A few weeks ago, I realized that my walk with God was getting a bit—awkward. I was walking next to him but not with him. Not really talking to him. And the silence became a little uncomfortable. So I got out my prayer journal and I said, "Sorry, God. I've been overwhelmed with this pregnancy and feeling lousy and all that. And is it cool with you that I haven't been blogging much? I feel OK about dropping it for a while. How about you?" The very next day, I got an e-mail from Drew Marshall asking if he could interview me on his show. Of course I can't ditch my blog when I might get a new wave of readers. God knows that. So he sent me this opportunity. I took it, I restarted blogging (albeit not quite as vigorously as in previous months), and here I am. 

Now, could I be seeking out opportunities for interviews and whatnot? Sure. I probably should look for ways to expand my reach. I'm not sitting back in my La-Z-Boy all the time, though. When I went to She Speaks, I made sure my book proposal was top-notch, I designed some swanky business cards, and I perfected my pitch for my publisher meetings. Some people assumed God was going to lay a book deal in their laps whether or not they jumped through all the publishing hoops. He very well may have, but for that particular opportunity, he wanted me to do the work. So I did.

Maybe that's what all of this comes down to: listening to God. God said prepare, so I did. This radio interview popped up like an answer to prayer, so I did it. No matter what else I'm doing (or not doing, as the case most often seems to be), I always try to listen to what God's asking me to do. Listening for the Holy Spirit's prompting and then following up. I may not be good at a lot of things, but I seem to be a pretty willing subject as far as that's concerned.

I'm not sure which way is right, if there even is a right way. God can use us however we're wired, as long as we're willing. So whether or not you set goals and are out to achieve them, or if you're floating through life like me, it comes down to answering the calls God sets on your heart.

So what's your style? Are you a go-getter or a...a Care Bear? 

I really need to come up with a better term for that.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Fun Friday!

So Brandy over at Momwich was kind enough to tag me in a fun questions meme. And since I love revealing useless information about myself (truly, I do—that wasn't sarcasm), I thought I'd participate. Just this once!

Here are 11 random facts about me:

My beautiful arch-nemesis: grass.
1. I have lots of allergies. Tons. Ten kinds of trees, mold, dust, several grain pollens. The worst one is grass. My tongue swells up and everything. Summer is a harbinger of doom. I hate it when people mow their lawns. The smell of freshly cut grass kind of smells like death.

2. I don't like loud music. I never have. I was the eight-year-old who covered my ears and yelled, "Turn it down!" when my sister cranked up the radio in the car. And I'm still like that. Good thing I married an electric guitarist.
    3. I've seen every episode of That's So Raven. You know you love it.
      4. I love boating. There's something about being out on the water that I just adore. I only get to go maybe once a year, though. My husband took me sailing for our anniversary last year! So cool!

      I totally made these cupcakes!
      5. I'm a great baker. I'd never done it until I got married and received a Kitchen-Aid mixer as a wedding gift. Now I can make everything! Cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, fresh artisan bread, galettes. It's wonderful!
        6. I don't really like wine. I've tried. I end up with the super sweet stuff every time. I'll never be a wine aficionado. *sigh*
          7. My favorite punctuation mark is the semicolon. Yes, I have a favorite punctuation mark. Don't you?

          My husband and me in Heaven. I mean, Virginia.
          8. I'd like to live in Virginia. I'm pretty sure it's the doorstep to Heaven.  

          9. I serve in the drama ministry at my church. I act, I write, I direct. We have lots of very talented actors, so the next time one of those Christian movies is looking for someone who can actually act, perhaps they should call us up!

          10. I can't watch people brush their teeth. Not in real life, not in movies or on TV. It's like—I don't know—nails on a chalkboard to me. I don't know why. It's torture trying to help my son brush his teeth. My husband has to do it.

          11. My favorite smoothie flavor is peach raspberry. Twist: I don't really like raspberries all that much. I really like the texture of the seeds in the smoothie, though.

            And now to answer the questions that Momwich created for me:

            1. What word do you find you often spell incorrectly? Occasion. I really rely on spell check for that one. 

            Getting married at 25 wasn't so bad!
            2. Is it better to get married when you’re younger or wait until you’re older? Hmm. I got married when I was 25, and I look at other 25-year-olds and think, "Wow, was I really ready for marriage at that age? They seem so young!" I wouldn't have gotten married any younger than that, for sure. I had to figure out who I was before I was ready to marry someone else, and I wouldn't have been ready before then. 

            3. Earrings, Bracelets/Watch or Necklace – which one is always on, no matter what? Umm—none of the above? I'm not good at remembering to wear jewelry. I remember earrings most of the time, I guess. And my wedding rings. Most days. 

            4. The job you never want to have? Teaching has kind of scarred me. Not sure I'll do that again.

            5. Your Favorite Charity? The Human Fund. No, no. I'm not sure I have a single charity that's my favorite. I really enjoy supporting our friends who are missionaries, and I love the little girl we sponsor through Compassion International. ByTavi is another one I really like!  

            6. One website you visit every day? Facebook. I wish I didn't. 

            7. The hardest period in your life? The time between college and getting married. I had so much financial trouble, and I struggled a lot personally. And I felt very alone. It was rough.

            8. Dog or Cat? Why? Neither, at this point. I've always preferred dogs, but right now they seem kind of high maintenance. We have a fish. Named Toto.

            My kiddo!
            9. Tennis Shoes or High Heels – and what are the favorite pair? I have a pair of black boots that don't have a high heel—they're really wedges. Easy on my back, but give the lifted appearance of heels. 

            10. The closest thing to you that is red? A puzzle book on my nightstand. I love logic puzzles!

            11. One Fool Proof Way to Cheer You Up? Going to the movies. Even by myself. Or sometimes I do a little retail therapy, but no clothes shopping. Hugs and smooches from my kiddo are also welcome!

            Now, I'm not much of a tagger. But this was certainly a fun meme! If you'd like to participate, here's your list of questions (in addition to your eleven random facts about yourself). Just link back to me and Tweet me @LazyChristian so I know you answered them! And include pictures!

            1. How'd you come up with the name of your blog?
            2. What would your perfect day consist of?
            3. What's something you're really good at that few people know about?
            4. What's one book you didn't read/like when you were young that you love now?
            5. Who is your go-to person when you've had a lousy day?
            6. Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?
            7. What's the most comfortable piece of clothing you own?
            8. Do you like to see movies in the theater? Why?
            9. How do you feel about being in large crowds?
            10. What's the most unusual food you've eaten?
            11. What's one piece of furniture in your house you wish you could get rid of and never see again?


            Thursday, February 9, 2012

            Guest Post: How We Met

            So young. So innocent. So not prepared for his crazy wife.
            Some of you know the story of how I met my darling husband, Brandon. As part of her special February series, my pal Leigh Kramer asked me to share my story with her readers! So head on over to HopefulLeigh and read up on the funny, heartbreaking, and ultimately happy story of how I met my guy!

            You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll kind of want to beat him over the head...

            Wednesday, February 8, 2012

            The Foxhole Prayer

            So last week was my blood glucose screening for gestational diabetes. The long one. I'd already flunked the one-hour test, so I was forced to fast and take the three-hour test.

            The Lazy Bumpy Christian
            Blecch. Glucola is the worst.

            This pregnancy has had so much drama. Extended morning sickness! Daily migraines! Pain! Fear! More pain!

            I blame Eve. Stupid curse.

            But the one thing I love about being pregnant is not feeling like I have to count calories—eating like no one is watching what I eat. Not like I pig out or anything. I crave a lot of fruit, and I don't want exorbitant amounts of sweets. I only just made up the weight I lost in my first trimester, so I think I'm maybe eight pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight at this point. Eating is one of the things I enjoy most about pregnancy. I don't want to lose that.

            So I said this (silly, immature) prayer: "God, if you let me not have gestational diabetes, I will stop complaining about this pregnancy. I will pretend the whole thing has been peachy keen. Just please let me not have to skip the Pączki!"

            We call this a "foxhole prayer." You know, like a soldier in the middle of war (in a foxhole) who says, "Lord, if you just get me through this, I'll never smoke/drink/swear ever again! I'll go to church every week! Just get me out of here alive!"

            It's a tricky prayer.

            On the one hand, you're showing God your desperation. I won't say he likes to see us desperate or anything, but he likes us to be willing to be vulnerable to him. Sometimes we're so, "I can do it all myself!" that he doesn't get the chance to comfort us or help us. So that's the good thing about a foxhole prayer—we're showing God that, no, we can't do it ourselves. We need him.

            On the other hand, you'll then be expected to follow through on whatever it is you promised to God in your hour of need. Some people do, some people don't. Since God's someone who keeps his promises, we look super lame in front of him if we don't. But I don't think he stands in front of us with his hand out saying, "OK, I got you out of that, just like you asked—time to pay up, kiddo!"

            Heavens. He's not the mafia.

            So what should you do when you've painted yourself into a corner with one of these foxhole prayers and God comes through? (For the record, my test came out negative, so I'm holding myself to these.)

            • Be thankful. Don't forget to tell The Man thanks. You could probably tell him he's awesome, too. That's always appropriate. You send a thank-you note when Aunt Erma sends you socks, don't you? God deserves at least as much.
            • Attempt to follow through. It's not always so much about making the change and being perfect as much as it is about making the effort. In my heart of hearts, am I super sick and tired of this pregnancy at this point? Yes. But then I try to remember all the good things about it: feeling my baby girl kick and tumble around, the excitement of knowing she'll be here soon, the sleep I'm not losing right now with a newborn. It helps me correct my attitude. God doesn't expect perfection from us. If he did, Jesus wouldn't have been enough. Sometimes he's willing to give us an A for effort, though. And he's quite likely to help us in our endeavors if we truly want to make a change—don't forget that.
            • Don't forget that He didn't forget. The next time you find yourself in a moment of desperation, remember the last time God helped you. Lean on that for strength and hope. Think to yourself, "God didn't forget me then. No matter the outcome, I know he thinks about me." You may be less inclined to offer up such a desperate, immature prayer and rely on God's timing instead.

            Have you ever uttered a foxhole prayer? What was the outcome? 

            Monday, February 6, 2012

            Pride and Prejudice and the Patriots

            I've learned a lot about myself during this Super Bowl week. None of it good.

            Surprise, surprise.

            In front of Lucas Oil Stadium!
            The Super Bowl was right here in Indianapolis, which was exciting! My family and I went down to the Super Bowl Village on Thursday afternoon, and we had a fun time. It's like the city was one big party all week long! We saw Sixpence None the Richer and Red Wanting Blue perform! We saw people go down the giant zipline! We saw Lucas Oil Stadium all lit up and decorated for the big game!

            And we saw Patriots fans. And Patriots gear in the Colts Pro Shop. And a picture of Tom Brady on the outside of Lucas Oil Stadium. Our Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium.

            I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

            On Super Bowl Sunday, I went to Target for a few minutes. I saw a woman in a Patriots jersey. And I scowled inwardly. I thought, "Maybe she's from out of town. But she's not shopping like an out-of-towner. How can someone from here dare to wear a Patriots jersey? Grrr."

            I'm so mean! Why was I thinking these things? 

            Because I was raised to think these things. And I don't even follow sports that closely.

            You see, I'm from Cleveland. And Cleveland fans know that there are some football and baseball teams who are inherently good, such as:

            • The Cleveland Browns
            • The Cleveland Indians
            • The Indianapolis Colts
            • The Boston Red Sox
            • The Chicago Cubs
            • The Washington Redskins

            These teams are either ours or have no negative feelings in Cleveland. I added the Redskins because they were my grandpa's favorite team, and my grandpa clearly wouldn't like anyone awful. He was originally from Cleveland, after all, so he had good taste in sports. And there are some football and baseball teams who are the opposite of good, such as:

            • The Pittsburgh Steelers
            • The Baltimore Ravens
            • The New York Yankees
            • The Chicago White Sox
            • The New England Patriots

            Even the font they use for the Ravens' jerseys looks mean. Ever notice that? Anyway—based on these teams, I also have preconceived notions of all the players and the cities to which the teams belong. I really never gave much thought to the New England Patriots until I moved here to Indianapolis. But they're a big Colts rival, so it didn't take long for me to align with the rest of the city in my dislike for the Patriots. And Tom Brady in particular.

            Now, is that really fair? I mean, maybe Tom Brady is a wonderful individual. Maybe he does lots of volunteer work and is kind to children and animals. Even if he does have ridiculous hair...

            Oops. I didn't mean that. My bad.

            But the truth is, I don't really stop and think about the cities or the players that I claim to dislike. Honestly, Pittsburgh has become quite a nice city in the last ten years or so. And I only dislike Baltimore because our Browns were relocated there and became the Ravens. Try living in Cleveland when someone's taken away your football team. It was awful. A very dark time in Cleveland. Sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm totally not. Dark.

            The same can be said for faith a lot of the time. Some people believe in God merely because they were raised to—and some people don't believe in God for the same reason. There's not a lot of thought or questioning. Not a lot of seeking. Just sitting in old beliefs out of—habit? Maybe some pride? Or family expectations? I mean, if I suddenly became a Pittsburgh fan, my family would take me to get my head examined. And the stakes are much higher when a person goes against his or her family to change ideas about faith.

            Saying you believe in God merely because you were raised to is pretty much the worst reason you could give for believing in God. God doesn't want a half-hearted faith borne out of habit. He wants you to know who he is and know why he's worth living for. He knows he'll stand up to scrutiny. He's not afraid of your questions or your searching. Truly. He encourages you to seek him, not settle for him.

            So I guess the question here is: What were you raised to believe? Are there any hard-and-fast beliefs that you cling to just because you were raised that way?

            And is God one of them?

            P.S. - I'm trying really hard to be nicer about other teams. I don't want to be a hater. Some of my best friends are Pittsburgh fans! 

            Friday, February 3, 2012

            The Drew Marshall Show

            In case you missed it last weekend (which you probably did if you're not one of my Canadian readers), here's the link to the radio interview I did on The Drew Marshall Show last weekend.

            Spoiler Alert: I say the word "like" a lot. It's awful. I dare you to keep count.

            Anyway—it was a fun experience, and I didn't seem to make a fool of myself. Go have a listen!