What you learned about the Bible in the 1st grade

One of my new pregnancy symptoms turns out to be insomnia.  The past several nights, I’ll wake up to go to the bathroom and then suddenly I’m wide awake!  3 am, really?!  And I usually spend the next 2-3 hrs just awake – no reason at all.  So during these dark hours when NOTHING is going on anywhere, I’ve had some interesting things rolling around in my head.  Some of those things I have found interesting enough that I wanted to share them with you…one at a time, of course.

I remember the complaint a lot of us had regarding what we were taught in school.  “How is that going to help me in the real world?!”  One of the things that I know we all learned during school that is SOOOOO important to our lives in the “real world”, and that I am discovering it is especially in our relationship with God.  READING COMPREHENSION!!

You learn to read as you start school, and learning to read is not just about able to recognize the words on the page that form the sentences.  It’s about understanding what you read, recognizing how the sentence/paragraph/chapter you just read relates to the one you’re presently reading.  Yet somehow, there’s this disconnect when kids/teens/adults read the Bible.  Reading the Bible becomes about memorizing the “catch phrases” (“by his stripes we were healed”, “trust in the Lord with all your heart”, “For God so loved the world…”).  And then actually understanding the Bible requires “revelation from God.”  And guess what?  You will not insult God or remove the “holiness” of the Word if you break down chapters and verses (aka paragraphs and sentences) the same way you did Lord of the Flies in the 11th grade!

So, in case you need a jump start, here’s a few steps that will get you started.

1) Identify your pronouns

– If you start reading a passage and everyone is a “he” and everything is an “it”, then maybe you need to back up a bit to figure out who “he” is and what “it” is.

2) Identify the historical/cultural setting

– Somehow it becomes easy to forget that “bible times” wasn’t a separate time period from other time periods in history.  The people written about in the Bible had to learn to co-exist with the Babylonians and the Egyptians and the Romans – all of which are studied and documented cultures in history.  They weren’t some special breed of Egyptians from another dimension that just interacted with the Israelites, they were the same Egyptian culture that you watch documentaries about on the History Channel.  So, use that knowledge and information to enhance your understanding of scripture.  And the Bible isn’t the only documentation of Mosaic law-based cultures or even early Christian cultures, so learn some history!

3) Identify word origins

– The English language has proved to be a very limited language when it comes to accurate expression of thoughts and concepts.  We are all aware of the example of the word “love” – you’ve got a 1 in 4 chance to get the meaning right when you translate it to Greek.  Look up words, learn their roots.  You might be surprised to find that what teachers and preachers told you a verse meant really isn’t what was intended by the writer.

4) Re-write the passage in your own words using what you learned from completing steps 1-3

– This was probably my least favorite assignment from any Literature class I took.  But is probably the most useful when it comes to testing if you really understood what was being said by the author and what was happening in the story.  So, when it comes to doing this step with the Bible, it does a couple of things for you.  A) It gets all the thee’s and thou’s and heretofore’s out of the way to make it feel more natural B) It increase the remember-ability of the subject at hand for you to be able to summarize and share

I’ve learned that taking this seemingly academic approach to the Bible leads me to one of three places: 1) I learn something about God – his characteristics and his way of thinking.  2) I learn something about my role as a child of God – the characteristics I should have and the way I should be/think.  3) I learn something about my role as a disciple of Christ – the way I should speak and act.  Therefore, this process isn’t about getting brownie points because I read my Bible.  It’s about me taking what I’ve read and learned and evaluating my view of God or my ways of being and thinking or my ways of speaking and acting to see if they line up with what the Word says.

So, if you just want brownie points, keep it up, you’ve probably got more than you can count.  But if you want to know God, understand the Bible and how it applies to you and where you fit in with all of this, then dig in!  You don’t have to sit around and wait on a “zap” from Heaven.

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The Burn Out – my trigger

In medicine and in life, symptoms are not the problem – they are hints to help identify the problem. The symptoms I listed in my last post led me to the conclusion of burn out in my school work, but what started the ball rolling down the burn out track?

Pride

In January of 2008, I was on a certain rotation where I was given verbal evaluations that were positive, but the written evaluations turned in to my school told a different story.  The part that bothered me the most was the fact that I was reported to be rude and unmannerly.  With her report to the school versus my word about what happened, the school decided to keep a close eye on me with an extra rotation assigned with a faculty member.

Looking back, I can see now where what I was calling “confidence in my knowledge and profession” was really pride, thinking that my charm and friendliness and presumed willingness wouldn’t allow them to fail me twice.  But I was wrong.

In May 2008, I was full blown into many of the symptoms I listed yesterday.  Those added to the normal pressures and stress of pharmacy school led to me failing the second time and a serious string of anxiety attacks.

In my case, a lot of people around me wanted to blame all of this on an attack from the devil.  When in reality, my sphere of influence was about to be expanded to a place that a part of my character wouldn’t have lasted.  And I’m not saying the enemy wasn’t involved – I know I have a big dream and a calling on my life that fits that dream, but the pride I had would have ruined it without the devil’s help.  The one thing I can blame on the enemy is the string of people immediately after these experiences that looked at me and said “maybe you’re not cut out for this profession.”

But like Nehemiah, with God on my side, no matter what the voices said, I stayed on my wall, and completed my task in victory!

Next: Forgiveness and Recovery

The Burn Out – my symptoms

Some of you know, but some of you might not know – a very trying and painful season of my life has finally come to an end. So much has happened and so much has changed that it’s hard to decide where to start. But over the next several posts, I would like to share openly what has happened to me and within me over the past year.

I have almost completed an awesome book by an awesome woman – Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson. Basically, it’s a book about identifying and taking steps to recovering from burn out in the ministry.  But a funny thing happened on my way through this book…

I realized that the downward spiral I started on could be defined as burn out – not in the church or ministry, but Pharmacy school burn out.

In the book, Anne lists 40+ symptoms of burn out.  Here’s the one I tested positive for…

– Avoiding truth

– Avoiding accountable relationships

– Lying

– Being tired all the time

– Headaches

– Weight loss

– GI issues

– Insomnia

– Teeth grinding

– Cynical

– Grumpy

– Paranoia

– Suspicion

– Helplessness

– Anxiety/worry

– Panic attacks

– Feeling on the verge of a breakdown

– Withdrawal from family and friends

– Fear of being alone

– Dread of talking about school/pharmacy

Some of you may be surprised by this, some of you may not (and for the record, this is not an opportunity for anyone to call me up and ask me to list specific times that I might have done any of these things to you, because I probably couldn’t tell you, all I can say is I’m sorry).

Next time, I’ll share with you what started me on this path.

What’s your Melisande?

“Her skin was like alabaster, her hair a black so true it gleamed blue where the light touched it and her eyes a sapphire that gemstones might envy…her raven hair fell in ripples, gleaming like black water in moonlight …[her laugh] the sound liquid in the moonlight…her look went through me like a spear, my knees turned to water…collects hearts as the royal gardener collects seedlings…she shone, no less for her beauty than her barbed wit ”

In the story, Melisande enraptures everyone she encounters with her beauty and grace, including Phedre, the heroine. In spite of the adoration, Melisande is so concerned with only herself and then her son that she would use, hurt, sell, marry, or kill who she has to in order to get what she wants – including Phedre. Phedre experiences the murder of her adopted family, being sold into slavery to a barbarian, imprisonment, and attempts on her own life due to this Melisande. On her many adventures, Phedre hoped that she could outrun the hold Melisande has on her or be cured of the love she has for her. Each time she returned home, she cannot deny it.

Melisande holds responsibility for every negative experience in her life – and she hates her.
Melisande is wealthy, beautiful, intelligent, and graceful – and she loves her.

Do you have a Melisande in your life? Something or someone that inevitably draws you but then stings you? The one thing you despise most but it marks almost everything you do and you need it to bring your dreams to pass?

My Melisande has been my school. It told me I’m qualified and I’m going to be great at what I do. Then it told me I don’t belong and tries to send me away. They promised me one more chance as long as I do everything EXACTLY as they say. I hate it! And yet every hoodie I wear in the winter has their name and logo on it – it’s so comfy and the logo is so cool. Every pen I write with pricks a painful memory that I have to be dependent on them – they’re the best writing pens I’ve seen. Every memory I have from the past four years has the mark of them lurking in the shadows or hovering over me. My life and my dream could not have gone on without them – and they liked it that way.

So what is your Melisande? What is the one thing that the very sight or smell or even a touch on the skin sparks a mixure of devoted love and strong hate?

Hi-jacking my wife’s blog.

So without my wife’s permission I am hijacking her blog.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you just how awesome she is (which many of you already know).  We’ve not had the easiest time in our first 2 years of marriage… school was aggrevating as heck.  But I’m happy to say that our marriage is stronger than ever.  I truly am blessed to have married the most wonderful woman in the world and this weekend I get the joy of watching her graduate!  I can’t wait and can’t tell you how proud I am of her.  I gotta run cause she’s coming back in the room… but I couldn’t miss this chance to tell you how proud I was of her!

Ken

Gimme a break

The past several weeks have been crazy with finishing school and moving back into my house and graduating and job interviews. And in that craziness I’ve had some terrific ideas for blogs, but just no time to post them. So, I’m announcing officially that I will not be blogging again until Monday, June 22.
This will allow me to enjoy graduation with my family (and Father’s Day) and finish getting my life lined back up for the long haul. It will also allow my ideas to soak so that I make sure the timing is right for some of the things I want to share.
So, don’t despair because I’m not posting (you know I’m just that important), but when I do get back, you get to call me Doctor!

Why I chose pharmacy

So, I’m sitting in the faculty break room, looking at a group of high school students.  They are a part of the Junior Acheivement program that allows them to choose fields of occupation that they think they might enjoy and give them some “hands on” experiences to see if they really like it.  We taught them to make Captopril suspensions and experience all the joys of compounding.  Hearing them say “I never knew these opportunities were even available”, makes me realize how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned since high school.  It also makes me appreciate the opportunities I had as a high school student to discover that I wanted to be a pharmacist.  And I’m sure that’s a question many of you have asked me or have wanted to ask me.  So I will answer it for you now…

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to play “school” with my mom b/c she was a teacher and she had all the cool teacher stuff (grade book, red pens, etc).  It was more fun to teach my cabbage patch dolls out of a Geometry book than Little Red Riding Hood.  So, as I grew up, I wanted to be a teacher like my mom.  Took the SAT in the 10th grade and put Education as my major.

In the 11th grade, I took chemistry.  My chemistry teacher was a short, Yankee, Jewish man who had one leg longer than the other.  His name was Mr. Engle.  He kept me after school one day to talk to me about my grades.  He looked me in the eye and said “you are way too good at this to spend your life being a teacher!  Have you ever thought about majoring in something that has to do with medicine?”  I said no.  The only thing I knew about the medicine was you take it when you’re sick and medical professionals were doctors and nurses and dentists.  None of that sounded fun.  He explained to me that the medical field also consists of vets, surgeons, technicians (all those weird machines they use at the hospital require a special degree or certification to use) and , pharmacists.  So I said I’d think about it.

My friend, Shelley, told me her mom worked for a professor at UGA’s Pharmacy School.  So, my dad and I headed to Athens to visit Shelley’s mom and meet the professor.  His name was Dr. Tackett and he specialized in cardiology (what does being a heart expert have to do with medicine?)  He gave us a tour, treated us as special guests, and answered all our questions.  I fell in love with the idea!  I had never noticed the people behind the counter at Rite Aid before… never knew they were such experts!  I wanted to be like that!

My senior year, as I filled out college applications, I wrote that my major was “Pre-pharmacy”.  I went to North Ga. College & State U. in Dahlonega and took all the appropriate classes (as a Chem/Pre-Pharm major).

And here I am – 5 months, 3 rotations, 2 ceremonies, and 1 BIG test away from becoming the expert that I dreamed of being when I was 17 years old.  That dream has expanded greatly since then and I can see a clear picture of what I want to do and be in my community (but that’s another blog).

So – that’s my story (and I’m stickin’ to it)!