Monday, February 20, 2012

Gems for Friends

"Life long friends are life's true gems."

When I was about thirteen, I went over to a friend's house to help her clean her room. In the process of cleaning, we found best friend necklaces that had the above quote on them, right beneath a little tiny glass or plastic jewel. I fell in love with it immediately, and took to wearing it a lot. Even when that friend and I weren't as close, I still loved the necklace, for the quote sang true in my heart. "Life long friends are life's true gems."

Even though the gem fell out of the necklace about a year ago, and I don't wear it as much anymore, I still think about it.

Over the eighteen years I have experienced on this earth, I have had a lot of friends. I don't remember many from early childhood, as I have not talked to them since then, but there are even more whom I consider true friends, and still talk to sometimes. Some friends I have lost, some have fallen off the face of the earth for now, and some are closer than sisters (or brothers). Some friends I have known from childhood, and some I have only been friends with for a few months or a year.

When you get into a friendship, you never know where it will take you.

I don't get to talk to a dear, dear friend of mine very much anymore because we're both in college, in different places, and we have some different interests now than when we were children. We had plans to grow up together, and work together, and be friends FOREVER. But the deepest hopes and dreams - the ones we dreamed of when we were seven - those are the ones that have not changed a bit. So still we can talk together, dreamily remember years long ago (ten years is a long time), and imagine the future though we might not live right next door to each other as we dreamed. We met when we were seven, both children of single parents involved in the small group at church.

Still another friend, I lost and found about three months ago. I met her in middle school; we were both outcasts. We became best friends, and then she moved away. I missed her so much. When it seemed like she fell off the face of the earth, I mourned for the loss of our friendship. Three months ago, I finally stumbled upon a way to contact her again. I am still waiting for a response to tell me that I was not a fool for dreaming of finding her again, but that's what I have been doing for the past five years. Waiting. Another five months won't make a difference.

There is, of course, the friendship of my dear sister. We've had rocky moments - much more than I'd care to admit or look back upon. But she is still my sister. I still love to listen to what's going on in her life, and I love to share what's going on in mine. We laugh together, sing together, play piano together and share dreams together. Although we no longer write stories over Duplos or Legos, we do share silly moments of dreams or the randomest thoughts. I met her long before I could really remember her. I can't imagine life without her. She has laughed with joy at my most joyful moments, and any moment I cry, she is ready to storm off and beat the pulp out of whoever dared to hurt her dearest sister (you have been sufficiently warned ;) ). She sometimes finds herself at a stalemate between my desires and our parents' desires, but we ... how can I describe it? God has given us sistership of blood, yes, but also of our hearts. If I could ever say I was one with a dear sister, it would be the sister of my blood. She has a heart of gold, to outshine many a gem. Even a diamond, dear one.

I was meaning for this blog post to go in a different way. Oh well.

I have many other gems in my crown too. My dear roommates (they drive me crazy at times, but most times I just love them, their crazy awesome selves), the wonderful girls I have met here at school through various acquaintances, the women of the dance team... oh there are so many. (To the boys: Yes, I am friends with you, or you probably wouldn't be reading this blog. But there's a difference between my girls and you guys. You are my guy friends. These young women are sisters of my heart, and gems in my crown.)

But today I had another gem of a friend visit me at school. I have only known her a little over a year, but it doesn't seem that way. They say that common grounds bond people more than common roots do. A year after meeting her, we realized how common our grounds truly were. And though the grounds are rather difficult to travel, because we are in the same place, we can support each other. Neither one is on the other side yet, so we hold fast. We shall not cross this river alone. Nay, with the Lord by our side, He has given us a cord of three.

The fact of the matter is that the Lord makes lots of cords of three. We're all woven together into this great braid. And great braids are much, much more strong than the single cords we start out as.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wonders of Coagulation

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." ~Psalm 139:14

Yes, in case you could not tell from the title, I am a nursing student. I'm not going to shy away from it. God has shown me some of the wonders of the human body through Anatomy and Physiology, and all I can say is that He truly is amazing for having created us.

So I am offering a slight warning. I'm going to talk about the amazing-ness of blood clotting. I will not post any pictures (mainly because I hate using pictures from the internet and I don't particularly feel like bleeding for a camera), so those with squeamish stomachs are safe. I will, however, talk in-depth about blood clotting and do my utmost best to point out the beauty in this single body system. And it's not even a single body system. It's a very small portion of the circulatory system, but every part of blood clotting is so intricate and amazing.

So it starts with an injury. I bashed my knee when I slipped on Saturday at work. I broke a couple small blood vessels (the bruise on my knee is evidence enough) near my patella (knee). Immediately, to prevent major blood loss into the tissue around my knee, the blood vessels constricted. Little fragments of cells called platelets noticed that there was a gap in the blood vessel when they could see the collagen that is right outside the vessel walls, and they started sticking to the collagen and to each other. They quickly formed a platelet plug. While they are sticking, they do something called degranulate - which basically means they release their contents, including factors that call white blood cells and platelets (to keep up the sticking cycle) to the site, as well as triggering coagulation and more constriction of the blood vessel.

Thus begins coagulation. There is an extrinsic mechanism and an intrinsic mechanism that MUST happen in order for a clot to form. Both include a cascade. One factor activates another factor which activates another factor, which activates two more factors, which one activates another factor, and the other goes back in the cycle and keeps activating other factors. I think I just confused myself with that sentence. But you get the picture. If ONE of these factors does not work properly, the entire cascade is thrown off. That's how intricate this system is. Isn't it cool? Scientists call it "irreducible complexity" which is fancy language for saying that this system is so complex that it cannot have steps taken out without disrupting the whole system. Bleeding disorders like hemophilia or von Willebrand disease occur when one of the factors isn't working properly or there isn't enough to trigger the rest of the reaction.

I guess you could look at it as a chain reaction where one of the chains explodes in a different direction. Or with dominoes, if you set them up in a line where one will tip down one and then another, and so on and so forth, and one of the dominoes is set a little farther than the others, either the tipping will stop sooner than you wanted, or it will stop altogether. This is where I wish I had a set of dominoes and a camera...

It's so cool! The human body is made in a beautiful way so that each system works. The heart itself has backup mechanisms that will kick in if something doesn't work right. We don't bleed to death. What's more, our body automatically fixes stuff. When I stub my toe (or bruise my thigh...) I don't have to tell my platelets and clotting factors, "Hey, guys I could use a little help here..." I don't have to tell my heart to beat at the intensity it does. I don't have to tell my body to do a lot of the things it does. It's really quite amazing. Anyone who cannot see the wonder and beauty in the body is a fool, indeed.

Our God certainly is creative. *love*

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SAD Bruises

Today is that special pink and red day known as Valentine's Day. Or to those who do not have dates to share the day with, it is SAD - or Singles Awareness Day. But just because it's Valentine's Day, does not mean it has to be sad (or SAD). Today was my eighteenth Valentine's Day, and it was the eighteenth one in a row I have not spent the day with a "special someone." Lest you think my day was miserable, think again.

Just to make that clear: I am single, and I had a fantastic Valentine's Day. Why? Hehe, I'll tell you.

First of all, I think it is ridiculous to only have one day of all 365 days (366 this year) of the year to love someone. Right? It is just plain silly. I love to love people ALL THE TIME! Love is a beautiful thing, why should we only restrain love to one day?

Secondly, romantic love is not the only type of love out there. That kind of love is, unfortunately, what people think of when they think of love. But love should not be limited to romance. I love my parents. I love my sister and brothers. I love my friends.

And it is exactly for these reasons that I had a great day. Some of my friends left valentines (complete with candy) by my dorm door, and I ate dinner with a group of lovely ladies. We chatted for a good hour, while enjoying the delectable offerings of the dining hall's rare feasts. We grabbed plates of the various yummy-looking desserts and passed them around the table, everyone sampling the delicious cakes and cheesecakes. But most of all, we were together.

So I had a great Valentine's Day. And the part of the title about bruises... hehe. I have a collection accumulating. I have about four (one on my hand, thigh, lower leg, and opposite knee) due to kayaking on Sunday. We went to a pool and practiced rolling, and I think the one on my hand was due to flipping people over when they couldn't roll back, and the one on my thigh was because one of the kayaks I got into was too small and pressed too hard on my leg. Aaand I have a fifth bruise on my knee from slipping at work. Hehe. So they are my sad little bruises, although SAD and bruises don't have much to do with each other. I suppose if I went kayaking on Valentine's Day...

That's all, for now I am very sleepy and have a quiz in Anatomy and Physiology tomorrow. Praying my CCC professor does not collect our journals either.

I shall write again at a later date! Farewell!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Creation and Choreography

Here at Messiah, Spring semester of their first year, students are required to take a class called "Created and Called for Community," also known as CCC (or triple C or C-cubed... whatever floats your boat). The class is split up into three sections, of which I only remember the first - Creation. Mainly because everyone in CCC has to do a Creation Project. What is the Creation Project? You ask. I'll tell you.

Maybe someday.

Not in this paragraph either.

Nor in this one.

I think I've tortured you enough.


The creation project seeks to make students dig deep within to find the creativity that God gave them to do SOMETHING related to creation. That means one can write a poem or short story or short essay, or paint or draw a picture, design a computer graphic, put together a video, a song, a dance... yes, the options are limitless. It just has to do with creation.

But in this, I am stuck.

I knew right off the bat that I wanted to choreograph a dance. I LOVE dance, so it would make sense for me to use that art form.

The trouble came in choosing a song. Should I choose a worship song? Can I find a song on creation and dance to that? Ooh, I could find a Hebrew song about creation! Oh, most of them are about love...

See my dilemma? So right now I'm torn between using choreography I came up with to a song by Gad Elbaz, an Israeli artist, or choreography for a worship song. Or even ditching the choreography I already have been working on for both of those songs for another time, and choosing a new song altogether. Aaaarrrghhhh.

And so, my dear readers (all two or three of you), what should I do? This is the description for the project:

Students will interact with the assigned texts by producing a project that demonstrates their understanding of one of the themes within the creation unit, such as the creation of the earth, the role of arts and culture, humanity as created being, or the significance of creativity. The project’s form should reflect your interests and skills...

These are the songs I have considered or already have choreography in progress for. I'll include the other part-choreography ones just to see what you think.
  • Mashmauyot by Gad Elbaz
  • Here in Your Presence by New Life Worship
  • Beloved by Tenth Avenue North
  • We Delight by Caedmon's Call (Those who know I already completed the choreography for this years ago, I am in the process of revamping it.)
  • Find your Wings by Mark Harris

And songs I've already choreographed that I could record a performance of:
  • Blessed Be Your Name by Tree63
  • Born Again by Newsboys
  • Sing Your Praise to the Lord by Amy Grant
So, what do you guys think?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Mezuzah on the Wall

Yes, it is true. I am now the proud owner of a mezuzah. The idea of a mezuzah was taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which talks about the need for the Israelites to always keep God's law on their hearts and their minds. The passage also talks about writing the law on the doorposts to one's house. Thus the idea of a mezuzah was conceived, out of the need to put the law on the doorposts, to be always thinking about it.

Although this is primarily a Jewish tradition, I LOVE tradition, and especially traditions based towards thinking of God. So even though I'm not officially Jewish, I rather like the idea of doing things in the Jewish way. A dear friend of mine, knowing this, gave me one for my birthday.

My birthday was on the 31st of January, which means that sometimes there are packages that arrive for that special occasion. I received a letter from my friend two days ago saying that this package was the second part. So, today after lunch I checked my mailbox to find a precious yellow paper sitting amongst my mail. Excitedly I took it to the counter, where I had to show my ID and sign for a package before I could cradle it safely in my arms. When it was finally snuggled next to my coat, I wanted to squeal with delight at the label. See? The stamp is in Hebrew!

This was the content of the box... and packing peanuts... But I didn't want to take a picture of the packing peanuts. 'Cause who likes packing peanuts? (Well, actually I do, especially because it's been a looooonnng time since I last received a package, or even saw a package, with packing peanuts. I used to play with them in the sink...heh heh. Oh, come on, don't tell me you never did that! At least in the bathtub. Right?)

And the instructions for the blessing before affixing the mezuzah to the wall... complete in Hebrew, transliterated Hebrew, English, and Russian.
Yes, I know. The picture is blurry. You have my cell phone to thank for that. >_> But without the blurriness, the Hebrew side is on the left, and the Russian version is on the right. The transliterated version and the English one are on the back, but I didn't feel like taking a picture of them.

Now, these are the scrolls that are supposed to go inside. I actually could only fit the smaller one in, but I'm glad in a way because now I can look at the other one as often as I want. They both contain the passage from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, but the smaller one is the Hebrew script, and the larger one, the one I plan to hold on to, has the English version, and the transliterated version. The transliteration means that the pronunciations of the Hebrew letters have been printed out in English letters, so they can be read aloud. Very handy for those of us who can't read Hebrew yet. :P

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the door-posts of your house, and upon your gates.

Well, there you have it! Traditionally, the mezuzah is affixed to the door frame at a slight angle, but since I'm in a college dorm and don't plan to stay in this particular room past May, I'll hold on to it until I have a home of my own. These pictures, taken on my cell phone, do not really completely grasp the loveliness of my little mezuzah (or not so little... it's as long as the space between my wrist and the tip of my middle finger. But then again, I do have smaller hands). It's a beautiful mezuzah, one that I plan to treasure. Someday, I will teach my children to keep God's word and his commands always on their minds, but until then, I will set to be an example for them someday.