The Not So Silent Cup

30 June 2009: Seriously consider canceling my upcoming trip to Dallas because of a bad attitude. For some reason, however, I had gotten an unreturnable ticket (I never do that!). Life would not be what it is now if I’d bought a refundable ticket.

08 July 2009: Dear Leslie picked me up from the airport (for those of you who don’t know her, she is my high-kickin’ mad-cookin’ wonderwoman of a friend) in the late afternoon. I was in Dallas for an annual Anglican conference. When she picked me up, we started chatting in the car. She happened to mention, among other things, that Jason Staniger was also staying with them for the conference;
“Jason Staniger, I’m sure you’ve heard about him”
“I don’t think so”
“Oh, well he’s kind of….unique” [laughter]

Obviously, my interest was peaked.

Standing by the wet bar of Chris & Leslie’s house, Chris walked in first and then what seemed like a handful of people all at once. We all started chatting about owls (a frequent topic of discussion with me) and about 5 minutes later the door opens again and in walks this tall, dark, and handsome man who seems to avoid my eye contact at all costs. Maybe he is unique in his bad attitude, I thought to myself.. Me being me, I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. It was the first time I saw his eyes, his countenance, his soul; gentle, this man is gentle. No time to linger, I was back on the owls.

The conference itself seemed inconsequential to me this year, but everything in the periphery was monumental. Leslie was asking a lot of questions. Questions about nursing school, questions about who I was and what I wanted to do. She asked about if I’d ever considered midwifery. Concurrently, because Jason was also staying with Chris & Les, we were talking. A lot. I was surprised, shocked, and at times confused as to why I was being so open with him.

My last evening in Dallas, Jason and I had offered to go get dinner rolls for Leslie. She sent a short list of items and told us where the nearest WalMart Grocery was (~2 miles away). But Jason had other plans, which I truly was ignorant to. We drove all around Dallas looking for Whole Foods because Jason won’t go into WalMart. He finally pulled into a WF and looked at the list we’d been given. There, next to “Cereal” were the clear instructions that we must “do a high kick in the cereal aisle” (you thought I was joking about Leslie being a high-kickin’ woman? Oh no, that’s VERY true). We laughingly did some pretty fantastic high kicks in the middle of the Store and proceeded home. How many hours had we been gone?!? There’s still discussion out on that, but it was somewhere around three hours.

16 July 2009: California. Work. Decisions to make about nursing school. Suffice it to say that the Lord flung doors open and shut them with more visible force than I’d ever seen before in my life. By Thursday, I knew that the decision had been made and confirmed ten times over for me to move to Dallas. My choice was to be faithful to the leading.

The fly-by: for the rest of the summer Jason & I were spending copious hours on the phone, I moved to Dallas in September, our official first date was to a U2 concert on 12 October, and were engaged on 12 January.

For those of you still with me, allow me a little more time to tell you about my fiancé, Jason Patrick Staniger:

He was born to two Croatian parents in Des Moines, though the ancestry seems to have been lost at Ellis Island. He thinks it’s strange and almost funny that that was my first sentence about him, but he shares an appreciation for history so he secretly likes that I introduce him as Croatian.

His countenance is filled with kindness but flushes with mischief when his jocular humor subtly seeps out, which often has that quality of dryness which leaves the listener unsure of the appropriate response.

He has a passion for the high liturgy and coffee (separately, of course). He loves hosting people in his home. He makes the best apple pie I’ve ever had, and makes a killer crust (which rates pretty highly in my book).

Given five adjectives for him, I would pick: Gentle, Sincere, Honest, Funny, and Eager. He makes me laugh, and amazingly, laughs at me. Which ends up equalling a lot of laughter.

He knows that some of the greatest music is on vinyl. He has the most carefully-chosen collection of films I’ve ever seen. He has an eye for cinematography and story that would weave the world into my favorite novel.

He takes his shirts to be professionally pressed because “no human can achieve the right amount of stiffness and shape” that he desires from his clothing. I find this quite amusing.

His aura is a mix of blueish-silver turning yellow-red. He thinks its ridiculous and kind of funny that I just mentioned his aura. He will also google those aura colors to figure out what I meant by them. With some amount of luck he might find a legitimate guide to read them by.

We are both pretty characteristic Geminis, so having done my research, here’s what our relationship looks like from astrology:

This relationship will never be boring and both partners will share an intellectual approach to life. Both will not only allow but also appreciate the freedom and variety of expression which is characteristic of Gemini. Both enjoy each other’s conversation and love to cultivate the art of discussion. Wit and curiosity make them a stunning and stimulating couple, entertaining each other and the people they socialize with. If they learn to cooperate, rather than compete, they will enjoy a happy relationship.

Whew! What a relief.

And that’s the beginning of who Jason is.

I am grateful to the faithful God for so ordering the lives of His people so that we might better serve Him. Every ounce of me looks forward to serving the Kingdom with Jason. I desire to follow him as He follows our Lord. I look forward to creating a home with him that is a haven for those in need.

I am thankful. I am in love.

(For his side of the story: The Cup of Silence)

Gravity (and a Southern rainstorm)

The clouds roll in like Poseidon on his chariot of waves, across the expanse above. The voice of thunderclaps shatter the silence as what was dark becomes light as day for a brief moment. The moon washes out, or perhaps hides her face while none can see her, as lightning illumines the earth – well, at least the part I can see. No drops of water serve as messengers, no precursors given.

Then all torrents break loose.

Someone turned on the cosmic showerhead to drown and drench me. Why does it smell so fresh when I know it is bringing with each little drop the “impurities” of the air – smog, dust, pollen, and all of China’s pollution? But I don’t smell chow mein – not even as the drops get bigger. I smell freshness, and it is lovely.

Over my face and down my neck the streams descend – apparently gravity can even bully these storms around. Pulling, always pulling everything to that place called “ground”. Ground may not be the prettiest thing ever, dull, brown and rocky, but it has gravity on its side. Perhaps gravity knows something I don’t. I know that it keeps me here on the ground, and right now pulls all the elements down to it. I have become merely a bridge from sky to ground, with water walking (sometimes running) over me.

I seek power, not for myself, but in anything which man cannot contain. This rain has power, this gravity has power, this wind (oh, this wind!) has power – and NOTHING man can do could contain it or stop it, govern, harness, or rule it. So I love it. And so does my hair. It likes to break out of its bun and be free and wild, surrendered to the forces. Powerless, alone, free; if it stormed like this everyday I might just start a revolution. I don’t know against who or what, but I know gravity would be on my side.

The Ear

This amazingly intricate structure contains the smallest bone in the body, the stapes – I remember that section of the ear because I say the parts in the same rhythm we are taught to say “The Niña, Pinta and the Santa Maria” – try it: “The Malleus, Incus, and littlest Stapes”. Well, it worked for me at least. The Tympanic parts make sense as well, because timpanis make lots of sound (notice I don’t say they make lots of music, it’s a much different thing altogether). The various forms of “Cochlea” also ring memory bells because it is Latin for “snail shell” and came from the Greek “kokhlos” (land snail) – and were I a snail, I would want a window in my shell, so am very excited to find that the snail of the inner ear has just that – the “Round Window” (NOT to be compared to a square window, which are much more commonplace and less hobbitish, and therefore less appealing to me). I usually think it slightly pompous when people name discoveries after themselves, as is the case with the “Eustachian tube”, so I can also keep track of that guy hiding in there.

You see, I understand these things about the ear, as a unit it makes perfect sense to me, even the anatomical bits, all the way out the External Auditory Canal into the wide world of sound waves. What makes absolutely NO sense to me at all is the Auricula. I know it has the anthelix, scapha, tragus, crus, cymba, fossa, helix, lobule, incisura, concha, and sulcus, those things I had to study in college A&P. But somehow the professor skipped the intriguing part, the part where the whole class


And wondered…


Because ears are just plain strange lookin’!

Pretend for a moment with me that you have never seen a face before. A semi-conical symmetry of eyes, nose, mouth, cheekbones, and chin making a perfect frame for that illusive thing called the “countenance”……then, as you muse upon the well-laid plan of the face – POP! – what in the sand-hill blazes are those thing?!? Just stickin’ out, always uneven with one another on the horizontal plane of the face, bazaar curves and dents and dimples. Some people have tried to reconcile their oddity by piercing them here and there . Now, being a pragmatist to the core, I can find uses for them: they can improve or tie together an outfit, and are wonderful for tucking hair behind (they are amazing at doing this, and if you have short hair or no hair at all due to hereditary balding, I am very sorry that you have not experienced this). And, for some, it may serve as a welcome distraction from the main part of the face.

Am I just being weird? Usually. But really, ears are quirky, wacky, and just plain crazy. Spend a day looking at ears, and I think you will concur.

(I just can’t get over how they’re just stuck there, on the side of the face, pretending they belong with such confidence that we believe them!!)

Demons: An Introduction & Historical Overview

Contrary to the thought of many in churches and societies today, demons are not only real but they are actively involved in the world and people around us. The pervading ignorance regarding the fallen angels has been detrimental to the church, and thereby, the world. When the active power of demons comes up, people get fidgety and say that it’s not for them, or proclaim that they are Protestants and it’s only the Romans who need exorcists. While the audacious kind say, “we don’t deal with that kind of thing in America.” Others say that in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, Satan was bound and will be until the Day of Judgement. These, however, are not the ideas of the Scriptures, the historical Church, or the Reformers.

In City of God, St. Augustine was heavily devoted to describing the real presence of the Devil and the interaction of he and his demons with humankind. The Devil fell from grace and is the Great Deceiver with a plan to draw men away from the worship of God. Yet not only Satan fell, but a host of angels with him, who also are devoted to deceiving men, turning God’s realities into lies. He does not present just a general involvement of the demons, but a specific one. Augustine is very clear that the Devil, the adversary to Christians, is now working in the world, seeking to deceive whom he may. I Peter 5:8 bespeaks this saying, “Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him.” Many other places in Scripture also describe him as the Enemy of God and His people (cf. Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7; I John 3:8).

Satan, however, is only one angel, though he is the most powerful, and so he has employed the other fallen angels in his service since his fall. The demons, though of lesser power than Satan himself, are more powerful than humans are because they are angels. Just as the good angels can protect and guard men, so can the evil angels deceive and harm men. Augustine believed that “their powers of influence were enormous: they could so interfere with the physical basis of the mind as to produce illusions, etc….” Some went so far as to assert that Augustine believed that “the human race is ‘the Devil’s fruit-tree, his own property, from which he may pick his fruit;, it is merely a ‘plaything of demons.’ It is they who are seen as active, and man as merely passive.”

Luther, who is known to have interesting interactions with demons, says that one of the reasons he “should not wish to have free choice given to [him is that he] should be unable to stand firm amid so many assaults of demons, seeing that even one demon is mightier than all men.” He too calls the world “the Kingdom of Satan” and says that Satan “holds captive to his will all who are not snatched from him by the Spirit of Christ.”

Calvin also follows in the footsteps of Augustine saying, “All that Scripture teaches concerning devils aims at arousing us to take precaution against their stratagems and contrivances, and also to make us equip ourselves…and ought to fire us to an unceasing struggle against him.” To our brethren that think the demons have no active power around us and even with us, Calvin says, “lest any persons, entangled in that error, while thinking themselves without an enemy, become more slack and heedless about resisting the Prince of this World (John 12:31).”

Why, if it is the history of the Church to teach Christians about demons, have so many (dare I say most?) left this out? The Romans at least still have trained exorcists that are available and used frequently around the world. And oddly enough, the charismatic and Pentecostal clans have a more historical view of demons. Perhaps I have just been the lucky recipient of a father who has done numerous exorcisms and trained his children what it means to “be on the guard” but I don’t think so. When the Scriptures warn Christians about something, it ought to be paid attention to – particularly when it is about such a character as Satan and his minions.

Those who deny that much of “that stuff” goes on in America I have no answer because they are much like a child that walks through a snake-infested desert oblivious and completely defenseless, save the father that walks by his side sparing him from the venomous teeth. In this illustration though, the child will grow up and learn about the danger of the snakes, which is more than can be said for most who choose to deny the real and active workings of demons.

The last opponent says that Satan was bound at Gethsemane. This comes from Revelation 20:2, John’s futuristic revelation says, “[God] laid hold of that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound for a thousand years.” The key here is that this binding is going to happen in the Day of Judgement. Now, Satan was trampled by the seed of a virgin mother, but the freedom that he had in Job and has in the New Testament appears the same. And one day that same seed of woman will bind him for eternity.

St. Paul said, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We as Christians should assume that Paul meant that there really, really was a war going on that we needed to be prepared for. And all this is not to say that we are to fear the roamer of this earth or his angels, for the Holy Spirit which lives within us is infinitely stronger than the demons. I am also not saying that we should be binding and loosing all over the place just for good conscience’ sake, but it should also not be a shock or uncommon happening when someone casts out a demon or talks to one. The historical Church Catholic has had this mindset of demons, and we should follow her wisdom praying for defense “against sin, the flesh, and the devil.”

Ephesians 6:10 “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”

Nostalgic Starry Moment

I would never disrespect the moon in all her beauty – but in her absence such glories fill the heavens! Like small woodland animals who only appear in my absence, or when they think I do not see – so do these stars and planets come forth while Luna’s back is turned. Three skies I will always remember, they are imprinted on the dome of my mind: the first because it was the first time I wondered at the expanse, the second because of with whom it was shared, the third because I was alone and my thoughts were free to roam without any inhibition from star to galaxy to constellations I have no name for, nor need for one.

Curious to me that these lights appear best when the Ruler of the night is away from home. I wonder if they feel the short-lived liberation of a people right after the victory of a revolution: all in revelry until in sobriety they stop their dances as the fear of unbridled liberty creeps over them – in the darkness anything can happen.

Tonight they truly do dance, the scholars call this a “meteor shower, but I know that the little starts have gotten tired of wearing shoes and staying put, and want to jump into a river yet unbeknownst to them – a planetary pool of delight. The larger ones, they leave a longer tail behind as they are pushed out of their nesting places by the older ones. “Time to fly” their parents say. My very favorite, though, are the ones which linger a moment to make sure I am watching – these are the wise sages of the bunch, and as they move slowly across the years of timelessness, they impart wisdom to all they pass. It is the echoes of these voices which pierce the imaginary divide between them and me, and I am wiser for their words unspoken yet comprehended.

I sadden knowing the starry host will soon be hid from me, not by light of moon, but by light of man as I move to a “city”. I can only hope some of those which I have come to know so well will peek out from time to time to tell me the stories I am missing, the tales told while I’m away. And perhaps they’ll fall in my direction. I can always hope.

My Semi-Scandalous Post of the Month

Menstrual-Cramp Tutorial for Men.

Just because I think y’all need to know why we feel what we feel:
What we refer to simply as “cramps” is actually called “Dysmenorrhea” in the medical field. There are a few ways to medically describe what’s happening in there to cause such pain. The first thing you need to know is that every month of the female’s life her body is preparing for fertilization. Part of this process includes the thickening of the cellular layer of the uterus. So, in preparation the innermost lining, called the endometrium, thickens and readies itself for implantation. If this doesn’t occur, then that layer of cells begins sloughing off, tearing itself away from the other layers of the uterus (imaging the skin on your arm start separating and then falling off in pieces – change that, how about just being ripped off in pieces). During this process of sloughing, the prostaglandin starts producing this hormone which causes the uterus to contract, temporarily shutting down blood flow to the uterus, depriving the muscles therein of oxygen and other necessary nutrients. This, supposedly, decreases the pain we would feel if all the nerves were working properly.

So, at the end of the day what you need to know is that our uterus’ are oxygen-deprived and having a layer of skin ripped off – which hurts. A lot. In fact, sometimes it feels like a bonfire has been started in our abdomen and little savages are hopping around digging their axes into the sides of our uterus.

Not fun. Have some compassion.

The Heart

“Nowadays the word heart always sounds a little naive or commonplace. When I was young it could still be spoken without embarrassment, but now it’s a term no one uses anymore. On the rare occasions when it gets mentioned, the reference isn’t to the heart in the fullest sense of the word, but only to some malfunction, anemic tissue caused by a blocked artery, say, or problems with an auricle; there’s no longer so much as a hint about the heart as the center, the essence of human nature. I’ve often wondered why it’s been ostracized like this.
“He who puts his trust in his own heart is a fool” – Augusto often used to say that, quoting the Bible. But why on earth should such a person be a fool? Is it because the heart is like a combustion chamber? Because there’s darkness inside there, darkness and fire? The mind is as modern as the heart is ancient. These days people who follow their hearts are considered to be close to the animal world, to uninhibited nature, while those who follow reason are close to the upper spheres of reflection. But suppose things aren’t like that, suppose they’re just the opposite? Suppose it’s this excess of reason that’s starving our lives?”
-susanna tamaro

18 August 2009

When I awoke this morning, all was going to be well.

Then I had lunch with some lovely people, and enjoyed the wife’s dessert immensely. Five minutes later, when my mouth felt like fire ants were fighting a war in there, I calmly asked if there had been walnuts in the dessert. “Why yes,” the kind woman responded, “finely ground for the best flavor.” Benadryl. Home. Bed. 2 Hours of induced sleep. Check.

Feeling I had timed it all spectacularly, I went to work feeling quite well, though my mouth was perhaps a little itchy still. Minor offense indeed. I should here suffice it to say that my Lymphatic System is working spectacularly these days. The walnut bit went off alright, so why not add a little something to the pot and see if the ol’ body held up?

How about…..oh yes, a scorpion sting……..make that a triple shot.

The little bugger had crawled up inside my pantleg while I was working, because, really, I need more excitement in my life.

Anecdotal Sketch of Modern Medicine

The emotion bank of your body is monitored by a chemical called Serotonin, which can be manipulated and altered by nearly every component of your life, from the food you eat to the colors you wear. Recent studies have focused on these small clues to explore the idea that emotions are completely, one hundred percent dominated by exterior, mundane components. This means that, since emotions are not abstractly volitional or as some like to think, spiritual, then they can also be ruled by medicine. This has been tested on such conditions as ADD and has proven that changing emotions is as simple as putting a Band-Aid on a cut.

Given these facts, we can examine how this plays into the rest of the body. According to modern psychological and psychiatric studies, the human emotions or moods directly effect the health of the entire human body. And these moods are effected and often caused by vitamin deficiencies, making them unavoidable. For example, “violent inclinations or feelings are caused by a lack of Vitamins D and C, as well as Magnesium and Iron.”1

This means, consequently, that if people study the main factors in their mood swings and take the corresponding natural remedies, the world will gradually progress into a utopian society lacking negative emotions. Psychologist William Glasser believes that if we learn to take advantage of what “Mother Nature has given to us, life might be unbelievably joyful.” Psychiatrist David Burns even more optimistically observes that, “using medicine will free you from fears, phobias, panic attacks, nervousness, anger, self-defeat, and improve your health all around.” The key is to understand that the emotions are not a result of people’s volitional responses, but a consequent of nerves, environment, and diet, all of which can be controlled with modern medicine. As soon as people believe this simple truth, then we will have found the antidote for hate, crime, and violence, and the key to a peaceful life and society.