Sunday, October 31, 2010


Hope your day is spook-tacular! Just don't get a tummy ache from too much candy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin!

In six months, I leave for vacation! Wahoo! Jeff and I are taking a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Dream. The Dream is the biggest, newest, and nicest ship in the fleet, and is the flagship for the newest class of boats.

We will be sailing out of Port Canaveral on April 30th, and visiting Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan, and Costa Maya. We will be joined on this little adventure by Jeff's mother (Barbara), step-dad (Ray), grandmother (Mamaw), grandfather (Papa), and friends Chris and David and some of their family. I'm hoping some of my family will come too (hint hint!) We have been to Cozumel and Costa Maya before, but never to Belize or Roatan, so that should be interesting.

Everyone splurged a little on their rooms. Most got balcony rooms. Jeff and I didn't feel like splurging quite that much, but we (ok, I) decided we deserved a little bit of a treat and decided that if we were going to have an inside room, it was going to be a spa room! The Dream has one of the new spas, Cloud 9. Part of that includes "spa" accommodations which include some nicer amenities in-room (and I think the rooms are a tiny bit bigger), priority in booking spa treatments, and access to the spa areas that are not normally included for the average guest such as the Thallasotherapy Pool, steam rooms, heated loungers, and other great stuff! Guests who aren't staying in the spa rooms can buy a pass for these things, either for a day or for the whole week. A week-long pass is $250 per couple, so seeing as we're paying about half of that for the upgrade to our room and we're a lot higher on the ship than either of us has ever been, we think it'll be well worth it!

I am keeping myself occupied by researching, listing, comparing, and contrasting the various options for our vacation and the combinations of ways these elements can be enjoyed. Today I'm going to let you in on my major concern, which is how the heck we are going to get from Birmingham to Port Canaveral (Orlando). The first, and most obvious, option is to drive. If that's the way we decide to go, there is parking to deal with, and there is also the question of caravaning or renting a van so we can all ride together. We got spoiled with the big van we took on our last family vacation, so that is the general preference. The only down side to that option is the expense of having to rent a van for over a week, pay for the gas and tolls to get us there and back, and have to pay to park it for a week on top of that. Not exactly an ideal situation!

The other option is to fly. There are at least one (usually more) non-stop flights every day from Birmingham to Orlando (it's 90 minutes each way) and most of them are less than $100. This would be easier on Papa because sitting for an over 12 hour drive would be tough on him (not to mention I get a bit cranky if I'm trapped in the car too long!). Plus, we wouldn't have to be paying fee on top of fee for something we aren't taking full advantage of! The only down side to this option is getting to and from the airport and the cruise terminal. On the Orlando end of things, there are some relatively reasonable options that I am working my way through. That just leaves Birmingham, and Jeff has enough relatives that we could probably ask very nicely and get a ride! From an objective standpoint, flying is more expensive, but somehow I feel as though my sanity is worth it!

Other things I'm considering (and will therefore be processing by typing and sharing with all of you who care to read about it!) are shore excursions, food and drink options, packing, and anything else that comes to mind!

And if you want to come cruise with us, book it and let us know! I can give you the number of the guy at Carnival we called and he can make sure all the dinner arrangements and those other little details are all worked out!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Five - Comfort Media

Today's Friday Five invites us to share about favorite forms of media that bring comfort and peace. This was a more difficult exercise than I expected it to be because I go through phases in my "comfort media." And since this is supposed to be the "Friday Five" rather than the "Friday Fifty" I decided to go with things that currently bring me comfort and peace.

Books by Jan Karon - I believe I started reading these books early in my college career and I absolutely fell in love with the setting, the characters, and her writing style. I was absolutely heartbroken when the first series, The Mitford Years, ended. But I do love my occasional return trips to Mitford. And I am especially thrilled that there is now a new series (and now a brand new book!) Everything she writes seems to become an "old favorite" even after I read it the first time! The picture today is of the newest book that I am going to see about acquiring this weekend!

Music by Chris Rice - I have not kept up with much of his stuff after about 2005, but I adore what I have and would love to get more. My favorites have always been "Smell the Color Nine" and "The Living Room Sessions - Hymns" but hearing his voice is just amazingly soothing to me. If anyone out there is searching for Christmas gift ideas for me, I'd love to have "The Living Room Sessions - Christmas" eventually!

The Wemmicks books by Max Lucado - I don't care that these are "children's books", it is wonderful to be reminded in such a tangible way that, "You are special!" I currently have two of these sitting on my desk at the hospital and I have found myself reading them about every other day. Good stuff!

Casino - Ok, I know this doesn't seem like a typical "warm fuzzy" movie, but it is for me. Mostly because when I am watching it, I am curled up on the couch with my husband! Now that I've seen it several times, I don't have to use my brain a whole lot when I watch it and it lets me re-charge!

The Golden Girls - Whether it's a re-run on tv or my DVDs (I have the entire series!) I love to get a giggle at Dorothy, Sophia, Rose, and Blanche! I can probably quote most episodes but I love that they still make me laugh! This is also a special something I like to share with Jeff because he had never seen them until we first started dating but it didn't take long before he was hooked, too. Now we usually watch at least one re-run somewhere before we go to bed!

What kinds of things give you comfort and peace? Share away, I'm always looking for more!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.42

These are a few of my favorite things about halloween

Pumpkins - particularly the tiny baby ones and especially when they are painted with cute little faces. I don't like mean or scary halloween stuff, only the things that are cute, fun, and friendly.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - some people have horror movie marathons, Jeff and I watch the Great Pumpkin. I can't help that Charlie Brown has a special place in my heart!

Candy - come on, you had to see this coming a mile away. There aren't really any seasonally-specific candies that I love. Jeff is a huge fan of Candy Corn, but I'm not so much. I've had my required three pieces this year so I'm good! I will however eat whatever is left in our bowl.

Trick or Treaters - I think I have been looking forward to this ever since last year. Our neighborhood is teeming with kids and so there will be lots of sweet little ones coming around seeking goodies. I'm so excited to see their cute little costumes and give them good stuff.

Monday, October 25, 2010


This past weekend we went up to Cullman to spend a little time with my family, and we got to go out to the farm and see the goats. We have babies now! Just look at all the cuteness!

I have no idea who these two are, but they sure do make a sweet little picture together!

This is Melia with her two babies, Jemimah and Bob #1. The little black one is Jemimah. Her ears are always straight out like that. She kind of looks like the flying nun!

Did someone say food? Do you see the great big Billy Goat in the middle? You definitely don't want to get in his way when he's on a mission!

The dark brown and white one is Haley. I think the lighter one is a Bob. They are twins. I call them the chocolate and caramel sundaes!

This is another Bob. He is Sandy's little boy (I got a goat named after me!) He is the only solid black one we've had so far!

See if you can guess why we call all the boys Bob! And stay tuned for more goat cuteness (and perhaps a little donkey love, too!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Feels Like Home

I started writing this on the Thursday night during my first overnight call. Then, my Friday Five from last week was all about connections and it was nice to reflect in those ways, but I was exhausted and not thinking clearly as I tried to process everything so I wanted to elaborate on some things.

UAB is feeling more and more like a second home to me. I'm oddly comfortable here. My mom spent many months as a patient here, so I spent a lot of time here. I can walk the path from the 4th Avenue parking deck to Spain Rehab without even thinking. In fact, if I'm not careful, I will go right past where I'm supposed to be headed if I let my mind wander because it's like autopilot.

I have been surprised by the number of people I know who are employees here now. It's nice to turn a corner and see a familiar face. And as I spend more time here, more faces are becoming familiar. I'm already starting to build relationships with staff members on the different units, especially the units I cover on a regular basis. It's nice. It's comforting. It's homey.

There are still some times when I am self-conscious about where I am and why I am there. When I walk the back hallways, using my badge to unlock doors that are closed to others or that would otherwise require authorization, I still feel as though I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing, even though I know this isn't the case. It's really not such a different experience from when we first moved into our house, and I felt as though I was somewhere I shouldn't be until everything settled in. It's sort of like breaking in a new pair of shoes. It takes a little while for everything to fit just right, but you can definitely tell when it's starting to happen.

I'm excited about what the coming months will bring. I'm sad that it's now only a little over 11 months until my residency ends. I am already starting to really care about the people with whom I work (and on some level, live) and knowing that this is a temporary thing is not going to make it any easier when I have to leave! A year seems like a long time when you start out, but it really goes very quickly!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Five - Perfect Blendship

Today's Friday Five asks all about friendship. I've been very blessed to have some fantastic friends throughout my life. Although I was never one for quantity, I am pleased to say that the friends I had were the best! This picture is of me and my two bestest buds "across the pond", Sam and Kathryn!

  • Who was the first friend you remember from childhood? Tyler Richard (Who is now Tyler Gaston). Our parents lived across the street from one another when we were born and we did everything together until we were in about the 5th or 6th grade. We always spent the night with each other on the weekends, and on Saturday nights at her house we went to Mass with her family and then if we were at my house in Sunday morning we'd go to Sunday School and church with my family.
  • Have you ever received an unexpected gift from a friend? I have gotten lots of great, unexpected gifts from friends that are both tangible and intangible. I think some of the most meaningful came around the time of my mom's death - Cookies from Betsy, Lauren and Justin coming to visitation, Ms. Tammy making me enchiladas, Morgan coming to the funeral, Deanna taking me out for chicken fingers after I was back in Nashville. These little things meant the world to me!
  • Is there an old friend you wish you could find again? Or have you found one via social media or the internet? I would love to find my friend Audrey from when I was in first grade. We lived in Jacksonville at the time and she lived right up the street from me. I don't remember her last name and it's very possible she's married now so there's really no telling if I could ever find her on facebook or anything!
  • Do you like to get your good friends together in a group, or do you prefer your friends one on one? I love getting groups of friends together, but my friends often come from such diverse groups and parts of my life that it can sometimes be hard to get all of those together on some common ground. I do enjoy one-on-one time as well. I just love any time with my friends!
  • Does the idea of Jesus as a friend resonate with you? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I seem to resonate more with the idea of Jesus as a big brother than as a buddy, but I can definitely get on board with both, depending in what kind of mood I'm in!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


My CPE group has been getting along very well. Things are starting to pick up in terms of busy-ness and intensity and emotions, just as they should. We are starting to become more familiar with one another and our likes and dislikes, and it's been great. In celebration of our group and in an attempt to get me back in the swing of cooking, I decided to make my Chicken Curry for everyone at lunch time. It was a wonderful afternoon of food and fellowship around the table where we will be spending so very many hours over the course of this next year.

After lunch, one of my classmates made a comment about how much she appreciated my sharing this with everyone. I simply responded that I was happy to have people to cook for, because for me half of the joy of cooking is getting to share the fruits of my labor. And she then mentioned that she had recently had a visit in which they had discussed how frustrating it must be to have a gift and have no one with whom to share it. At first it sort of boggled my mind that she would make that connection. Because I'm thinking spiritual gifts or talents, and I can't see a crock pot of chicken falling into those categories!

And as that idea kept marinating in my mind, I had to really ask myself "What does it mean to have a gift?" Because I admire lots of gifts in lots of people. The ability to take beautiful photos. A fabulous sense of humor. An exceptionally compassionate heart. The ability to make kick butt baked goods. The ability to be handy and fix things. A spirit of adventure and an ability to try new things. The creativity for amazing artistic expressions. These are all things I aspire towards. And I know that deep down, I have gifts to share. But I have a really hard time naming those.

Maybe it isn't such a stretch to think that food may be one of my gifts. Not in the way that a gourmet chef is gifted, but perhaps as an extension (or manifestation of) the desire to connect people, to facilitate the building of relationships and my compulsion to take care of people. It has indeed been frustrating to not be able to create something and share that something with someone! In fact, without having someone to share it with, there really is no motivation to create.

Of course, in pondering this, I also began to think about what it means to share. As grown-ups, we use the word "sharing" to generally mean the same thing as giving of oneself. But when we attempt to teach the concept as children or try to think about the definition, we equate it to "taking turns", which involves both giving and receiving. I think we lose something in forgetting what it is to also receive as a part of the act of sharing. Maybe it doesn't happen right away or you don't receive the same thing in return, but you are still sharing. It's something I will continue to think on.

So now that I've had my turn to give my thoughts, it's your turn! (See how this works?) What do you think about in terms of sharing? What gifts do you have to share? How do you like to share them?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.41

In honor of my trip to see the University of Alabama play this past Saturday, I decided to share a few of my favorite things about football in general. (And yes, I am talking about American football!)

The music - Yes, I was, am, and forever will be a band geek. I love the sound of marching bands and all the brass and excitement and the drums. There are lots of good memories in those sounds. I have to fight the urge to get up and dance to "Land of 1000 Dances".

The food - everything seems to taste better when it comes from a stadium! We'll leave the expense of concession stand food and the way it makes you feel afterward out of the equation for now.

The energy - It's hard to sit in a stadium and NOT get swept up in all the excitement of those around you! Even if you will be truly happy no matter who wins, you can't help but get excited when those around you are getting excited, too! I do draw the line at doing the wave, though!

The mascots - They're cute and they're funny. How do you not love them?

The crowd - I love to people watch, and it seems that sporting events bring out special people with special personalities, all of which are endlessly entertaining! Some can be obnoxious (especially if alcohol is involved) but for the most part it's good old-fashioned fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Field Trip to the Other Side

I ventured into "enemy" territory on Saturday. I've never had a burning desire to attend an Alabama football game, but I'm not going to turn down free tickets, especially for a VIP section! I vowed to myself I would play nice, and even bought a new Alabama shirt for the blessed event. We went early and met up with one of Barbara's co-workers and some of her friends. We tailgated out there and then headed toward the stadium. People were lining up to see the team come in, but we managed to muscle our way through and get upstairs to where our seats were. We got out on the balcony and were able to watch the team, including Jesus (oops, I mean Nick Saban!)

As far as the whole experience, I have to say I am now very spoiled! Our tickets were in a section called "The Zone". Not only did we have the nice plastic chairs with cup holders (not bleachers), we had private bathrooms, lockers, and all the free food and non-alcoholic beverage we wanted! The lockers were for the purpose of storing alcohol if you wanted to bring any, but since you can't bring anything in on game day, you have to come the day before to fill your locker and we didn't do that. We were quite happy with the sodas and tea! The food was great! They had a tamale bar, jambalaya, catfish fingers, hush puppies, salad, fruit, nachos, chips, popcorn, trail mix, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages (and any kind of toppings you could dream of for all of these!) bread pudding, cookies, brownies, and ice cream bars. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, too! WOW! The best part for me was always having plenty to drink and never having to wait in line for the bathroom!

A few of the fans around us were a little on the obnoxious side, but for the most part everyone was very nice. Some of the whole "football heritage" stuff was a little bit over the top. I know I have jokingly had the "theological discussion" about football as the religion of the south, but I was shocked at how very true this was. And Bear Bryant really is regarded, not only as "a god", but as God! It was more than a little bit ridiculous.

But even more than some of that, I was most disappointed with folks who were tailgating and hanging out before the game, although I can't really say I'm surprised. Everyone was less worried about supporting a team they cared about and more worried about being ANTI-Auburn. If I had to guess, I'd say it had a lot more to do with the loss the previous week than pure meanness. But come on folks, it's a GAME! And really, shouldn't you want your opponents to do well? Because if you beat them, it doesn't prove much if everyone else in the world has also beaten them! Because of this, I was probably a little more smug about Auburn's victory than I would have been otherwise!

Some of the homecoming festivities were fun. I thought it was cute the way some of the Alumni cheerleaders, band members, and front line all got to come back and get back out on the field to perform a little. To me, that's kind of what homecoming is supposed to be about, so it was a nice thing to see! It's too bad I don't care enough about my own school to want to go back for homecoming!

All in all it was a good day. I'm happy that Alabama won. I was exhausted when we got home at 2:30 am, but I would definitely do it over again. For now, my "A" shirt will hang out in the back of my drawer to wait for next year, and I will go hunt for an awesome new Auburn shirt to wear for the Iron Bowl!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken Curry

This is a super-simple crock-pot curry recipe I got from my step-mom. It was absolutely delicious and perfect for this time of year when things are just starting to get a little cooler. It's not too hot but has a wonderful flavor. I'm guessing you could very easily use the same basic formula to make it with veggies if that's your thing.

10-12 pieces of chicken (or 2-3 lbs vegetables)
2 onions and 1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 c. chicken stock (or vegetable if you're going that direction)
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp Madras curry powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp thyme
1 can diced tomatoes
5 Tbsp tomato paste
1 jar mango chutney

The directions to this one originally said to saute the peppers and onion, but I'm lazy and I was cooking this a lot longer than what was originally instructed, so I figured no harm would be done. I was right. Everything was great just as it was!

Basically, like most of my crock pot recipes, there are no steps or techniques here. Just throw it all in and let it do its thing.

The originally recommended time was about 8 hours on low. I did about 9, BUT I also took it to work with me. I put it on "warm" for about 4 hours because I knew it was already cooked. Then, in the last 45 minutes (while the rice was cooking) I cranked it up on high to let the sauce thicken a little. I'm guessing the last little bit wasn't entirely necessary, but this is one of those things that the longer it cooks, the better it gets!

Don't be surprised if, after having dished up a few servings or stirring it a bit, you come up with a naked bone. Oh yeah, it's that tender! Trust me, you need this in your life!

(And I'm sorry I forgot a picture. By the time I realized I needed one, the only thing left were a few bones, some empty plates, and some happy classmates!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Organ Donation

I know that some people have serious issues surrounding organ and tissue donation, but I can't resist the urge to share a little of what I have learned about the subject.

Organ and tissue donation are NOT the same thing! Less than 1% of people who die qualify to be organ donors. However, LOTS of people qualify to be bone or tissue donors. You can be one or both. In Alabama, you can agree when you get your driver's license renewed and/or sign up online!

The major organs that can be transplanted are heart, lung, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestines.

Tissues that can be donated include corneas, muscle, skin, and bone. There are lots of different parts of these, but since I am not yet a fluent speaker of medical, just trust me on this one!

NO major world religion objects to organ donation. Many will not come out and say "yes, you should donate" in some sort of official statement (although there are some that do!), but all acknowledge it as a generous and self-less act of compassion towards others.

Legally, in many states, your next of kin does NOT have to consent to donation if you have signed the equivalent of an advance directive (a donor card, driver's license, or online register). However, in Alabama as well as some other states, if your family objects the doctors will not go against the wishes of your family so it is STILL important to have those conversations with your family if you wish to be a donor. This isn't the case in all states and some states will go against the wishes of your family if you have agreed but they object.

Your will not receive sub-standard care if you are a donor so that someone can take your organs. If you or your family do make the decision to donate, there is no cost to your or your family. Donation should not delay any preparations for a funeral.

For more information, please check out the Alabama Organ Center, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the Alabama Eye Bank,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Five - Connecting

Today's Friday Five seems especially important since I have been reflecting on the importance of relationships (the good, healthy, life-giving kind!), especially from a professional perspective. And if I'm not making a ton of sense or have lots of typos, I'm coming off call and this will be followed by a nap!

Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about ten years old? I honestly have no idea. I was ten in 1995 and really didn't start to understand the concept of hero/heroine until I was much older.

Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you? I am probably most like my mother. I really don't know if anyone is like me. I guess the dog!

Friends: How do you stay in touch? Facebook is the easiest way, especially now that I have friends all over the world! E-mail is also helpful. I don't do a very good job of actually writing letters, but I should work on that!

Neighborhood, Community: What are ways you like to be involved? I'm still trying to figure out where I fit into life in Alabaster since neither of us work here and we don't have kids or go to church here. We do try to get together with a couple of sets of neighbors periodically, and that has been really nice but there isn't much consistency with that.

Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing connections? The need for care of patients, family, and staff has been a great opportunity to build relationships. I think the need for continuity and presence also has opened some doors. I'm looking forward to the things that are to come!

Bonus: Until last night, I don't think I had realized exactly how important it is to have connections outside the "norm". I've been thinking a lot about making connections, not just with individuals but also within groups. You have to have both. I am so grateful for all the people I have gotten to know at the hospital. A few I have known for a lot of my life (some I didn't even realize worked here!) and some are new but just as dear. I am so grateful for having these persons that I can support and who can also support me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.40

Life has been a bit crazy lately. Cooking has obviously taken a back seat to other things. And I really do have all kinds of intentions of getting back to it sooner than later. But the schedule thing is still working itself out. Crafting isn't happening at all right now. Really and truly, life outside of work and being at the house isn't happening. So in order to keep myself motivated and accountable (and to prove I do in fact have some more stuff in the works) I decided to dedicate my favorite things today to my coming attractions!

Crock Pot Chicken Curry - I'm actually making this one today for everyone in the Pastoral Care office. We'll see how it goes!

Crock Pot Philly Steak - This could be humongous flop, or one of my best ideas ever. We'll find out soon enough!

My first University of Alabama football game - No, I'm not switching allegiances, but seeing as how ours is a mixed marriage the least I can do is make good use of a free ticket to the VIP section! I'm a good wife like that!

My next vacation - Yup, I already have something planned. I'll reveal the details when I start the six month countdown! I'm honestly starting to believe that the planning and preparation for a vacation is more exciting to me than the trip itself!

A CPE update - I'm going to have to be careful with what I say about CPE so as not to violate the privacy of patients, family members, or my classmates but I'm going to try to share some of my reflections about my own "stuff".

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So, um...

I was all set to post a lovely entry tonight on the Southern Women's Show. I had a wonderful time last year and have been looking forward to it. I was actually pretty stoked when my hospital schedule worked out for me to be off Friday and I figured that would be the perfect chance. My mother-in-law wanted to go with me so we were all set to have some girl time, but sadly other things got in the way. Plus, I felt pretty awful Friday and really didn't get off the couch much.

Saturday I was on-call at the hospital. It was a really great, affirming experience that I absolutely needed at this point. I cam home after my 12 hour shift very tired, but the good kind of tired. Not the "oh I was miserable and now I'm exhausted" kind, but the "I worked hard and was very productive and now I need to rest and re-charge" kind. I like being that kind of tired.

Today I figured we'd re-schedule girl time after church. It would be a good way to keep me in town because tonight I had *dum dum dum* CHARGE CONFERENCE! Well, by the time we finished with choir practice (because I had to run the sound board) and were starving, Jeff wanted to grab lunch. We did, and at that point it was almost 2pm so I really didn't feel like fighting my way around the civic center and paying for a ticket to the show since I wasn't after anything in particular, didn't really have money to burn for myself, and knew all the good freebies would be gone anyway!

I decided to waste my afternoon at Books-A-Million instead. It's been a long time since I wandered into a bookstore and made myself at home on the floor in one of the aisles, but it felt really nice! I probably spent a lot more time than I should have with the children's books, but I didn't give a rip. I relived a lot of great memories. I've got to get a new copy of the Pokey Little Puppy! I also decided to be productive and get a few more Christmas gifts. I'm almost done!

Charge Conference went well. Still, I'm glad it's only once a year!

So that's been my weekend! Hope yours was a bit more exciting!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Five - Fall

Today's Friday Five is all about fall and word association, so here are a few of the things I think of when I think about fall.

Sweaters - I love good, warm, fluffy sweaters. And unfortunately I don't live in an area where I can wear them all the time. So wearing my sweaters is a treat! My favorite sweater right now is a dark purple that is kind of a looser knit and has a hood and a kangaroo pocket on the front. It's perfect. I will probably break it out next week!

Changing Leaves - I love watching the leaves change colors. Whether it was the Japanese maple in our yard or the huge tree that turned yellow. I love watching the changes and the colors. I can't really pinpoint what it is about it except for the promise of changes to come.

County Fair - The county fair was always HUGE in my hometown. We had a parade. We got a day off from school. There were quilts and canned goods and pies and animals and produce. I always said I would enter a photo but haven't ever done it. Maybe one day...

Pumpkins - I loved going to the pumpkin patch when I was young (like pre-school or kindergarten) but for most of my elementary years and beyond, we grew our own. There are several old photos of my brother and me posing by these pumpkins that we probably could have hidden inside if we hollowed it out! I also have a special place in my heart for the tiny pumpkins that are too tiny to do anything but look cute or maybe be painted!

Brunswick Stew - This was always my mom's "famous" recipe that people asked for all the time. We typically only made it in the fall because it's warm and hearty and a lovely food for watching football games! There's nothing special about it why it can't be made all the time, it's just sort of what we did! I'm going to make some in the near future, so stay tuned for the recipe!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.39

I have been hunting for inspiration for some new favorite things, and since that seems to be the only thing on my mind lately, I decided that I would give my favorite things that inspire me!

Nature - More specifically, nature in motion. Flowing water, leaves fluttering in the breeze, a hard working ant, flowers as they bloom and grow. It all seems to prompt me in new and unique ways of thinking and experience that can then inform what I think about whatever else is going on in my life.

Conversation - It's pretty obvious to the people that know me that I enjoy talking. But I also really enjoy listening and observing. I love to have conversations, but I also love to simply be a fly on the wall for the conversations of others! Sometimes it is the particular subject matter that inspires me, but often it is simply the interaction as a whole that gets my wheels turning!

Passion - Seeing someone do something that they feel strongly about is inspiring to me. Perhaps because I need a little bit of that fire before I am able to really create, or maybe simply because the world seems to lack so much of that these days. Whether it's a child trying so stinking hard to sell something, or a person standing up against injustice, it's hard not to be inspired in the face of that kind of energy!

Memories - especially photographic ones. And not all of them are pleasant. But sometimes it is the memories of those experiences that we require to be able to work towards something better or to learn from that experience. As much as I love to think of inspiration as something warm and fuzzy, the simple fact of the matter is that some of the greatest inspiration in life came from something that needed to be changed!

Where do you find your inspiration? Perhaps one of your inspirations will also become one of mine!

Monday, October 4, 2010


I have determined, after only one week, that the schedule of a chaplain agrees with me. Particularly the whole "changing it up" aspect. I have always thought of myself as a creature of habit, but I have recently come to realize that I enjoy a certain amount of flexibility. Actually, it keeps me focused and it helps me to thrive.

I have gotten spoiled by the schedule of a student and then that of a part-time pastor because I have freedom during the day to get things done. I can grocery shop while everyone else is at work. I can run by the post office without a second thought. But this whole working 8-5 Monday - Friday thing gets old fast. And that's why the chaplain schedule is beautiful!

I generally work most days. But I have at least one day a week where I change it up a little. I may not come in until the afternoon one day. I may have a Friday or a Monday off because I had to work a weekend shift. And it absolutely rocks! Yes, it makes planning a weekend getaway a little more of a challenge. It requires a little more coordination, but it's totally worth it! I like breaking it up. And I even like only having one day off at a time!

We'll see what I think about 16 hour shifts and getting off at 8 am!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reflections on Week 1

This week has been a bit on the crazy side. But it's been a generally good kind of crazy. You remember the craziness of going back to school? The excitement of new friends and new stuff and reuniting with the friends you've missed like crazy over the summer? The anxiety around being in a new place and having new teachers and new classmates and not really knowing what to expect? Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!

I got a cool new "bookbag" for CPE from my step-mom that has my new monogram on it, so my church and CPE things don't have to share a bag now! I know, only I would be that big a goober as to want different bags for my different things, but it helps! Because I'm a little nuts and felt the need to revisit my elementary school days of getting a lunch box to match my book bag, I also got a cute lunch bag. I also got a badge reel that is green and white polka dot fabric with a pink "S" on it. So with my perfectly perky and coordinated accessories, I was ready to tackle my new adventure!

Day one was general hospital orientation. I understand the necessity of it, but I could probably have given some of the speeches, I've heard them so many times! I had also forgotten how exhausting it can be to sit in a classroom all day! I did enjoy getting to meet the other residents and our supervisor. I think we're going to be a great group. I am really looking forward to getting to know all of my classmates!

Day two started with a benefits presentation which was a waste of my time and then went to our department. We met and talked about some basic stuff, got our pagers and keys, talked about the possible unit assignments, met some of the staff chaplains, and took a tour of the hospital. During the tour we got to not only see the helipad, but go out and walk around and hang out on it! I was tempted to go play on the giant "H" but I figured it would be my luck I'd lay down in something gross and then I'd look up and see a helicopter and be traumatized! We also went to decedent affairs (you get a treat if you figure out what that means) and talked about our role there. We had to leave our beepers to get a few things changed, and also put in our requests for our unit assignments.

Day three we started with a pastoral care staff meeting. It's going to take a little time for me to get used to being with my whole class all day, every day. This is definitely new for me because before I only saw my class twice a week! I'm sure that will probably change at least a little once we start working different shifts and visiting our units and whatnot. I like my classmates, but I also miss my Nashville friends. We got our pagers back, got a brief intro to what the code team does (and how we fit in as a part of that) and were supposed to get to watch some code training, but it didn't happen so we'll just have to wait for the real thing! We also got some information on security, the use of the chapel, worship services, baptisms, bereavement care in the WIC, and our vacation time. Also, I get UAB business cards, just like a real employee. Isn't that nifty? I have to turn in my form at the end of the week for those, once I get my hospital e-mail set up!

Day four we started out with a tour of the pre-surgery and PACU, then had presentations from Risk Management (ie, avoiding lawsuits) and the Eye Bank. We had a longer lunch break during which I went to the benefits office to sign up for health insurance (which is a long story). We also got to go down to the ER and see part of a trauma and learn more about that department. We had some nice "bonding" time in the afternoon where we could explore or read or whatever, but my classmates and I mostly sat around and talked. We're a pretty diverse group, but I think we're going to have a great year!

Day five we learned a little about charting, which I have a feeling will become a pain in the rear sooner than later. We couldn't get any of our computer stuff set up, so we will have to do that next week. We learned about the Alabama Organ Center (stay tuned for more on that!) and after lunch went on a scavenger hunt of the hospital. We didn't get the whole thing done (it'll take a while!) but we did get to meet a lot of people and see a lot of different places which was the point!

I still have one more week of "orientation" in the pastoral care department and I'm really excited about that. I like being able to ease into everything and not be thrown into the deep end! We will start shadowing the chaplains both on the units and on-call next week. We also start our first solo calls next week, but we have phone backup of staff chaplains so even "solo" we aren't totally alone!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Five - Just a Job

Today's Friday Five is all about looking at the fact that, although ministry is a calling, it shares many characteristics with any other occupation. Particularly the fact that there are aspects of the job that are fantastic and there are things about it that are less than fantastic. This week has been a good exercise in both for me as I live into my new, dual role as both pastor and chaplain! (I'll leave the student piece out for now!)

What are a few of the tasks that you find tedious/energy sucking in your ministry position? CHARGE CONFERENCE REPORTS! I love to believe that, in a larger church with more staff and committees to handle these that it's a lot less of a pain, but part of me knows that isn't necessarily true. I haven't found anything exceptionally tedious or energy sucking in CPE, but I'm guessing that charting will probably be up on that list!

Is there anything you could do to make one of them better? Unfortunately, not that I know of. Charge Conference is all me for now. I don't know that charting will be that bad, but I'm guessing that keeping good notes and doing what I can on the floor will help (but again, I really don't know for sure!)

What are a few of the tasks you find energizing in ministry? Talking and listening are often the most energizing. Learning new things (especially as part of a group) and seeing others get excited about learning are very rewarding. And I am learning to value self-care as an important task of ministry!

If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you want to spend it? Going up to camp to spend the night and get away, to read and journal and perhaps go to some sort of workshop. If I couldn't do that, I would want to simply attend a worship service at another church where I can worship without the duties of leadership.

If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you actually spend it? Probably still working, or as an extension of a family vacation. Because I don't work from a regular office (at least as far as church work goes) it's hard for me to draw those lines between personal and professional

Bonus: What would your Dream Ministry job include? A flexible schedule where I have a day somewhere in the middle of the week to either come in later in the afternoon or do some work from home; definitely have some colleagues who can take care of responsibilities for me when I'm not at work. I would love to have at least one Sunday a month where I don't have to work so that I can attend worship services that I don't have to lead. I would love to be able to work in more one-on-one situations, preferably with young people.