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Monday, June 27, 2011

A Love of Lavender

      The summer I graduated college, I went on a road trip with my grandmother up to Washington. The circumstances were somewhat sad, as we were going for her sister's funeral, but the trip was amazing. If you have never traveled up the Pacific Coast, you may not know that produce is abundant, and every season has its specialty. We were blessed to be travelling in Cherry season- we feasted on red, purple, and yellow cherries from roadside stands all the way through Washington. We went to charming boutiques up and down the Washington and Oregon coastlines, where we saw beautiful hand blown glass ornaments and luxurious satchels of, you guessed it, lavender. I would dip my face in the smell and soak it in. When we reached Pike's Place market in Seattle, we walked through the fresh flowers and I found vendors selling piles and piles of intoxicating fresh lavender. I purchased some dried and some fresh, and took it home with me. I had a satchel for my car and one for my desk, and I would crush it in my hands for months afterward to sniff its beautiful fragrance. I was becoming a lavender addict. Of course, lavender satchets don't last forever and after a while I needed to get a fresh fix. I purchased Lavendin oil to go in my baths, looked for delicious smelling soaps and lotions, and started receiving gifts from family members who had caught on to my somewhat obsessive interest.
              Then I married a man who was not so big a fan of lavender or other overpowering scents, and objected somewhat to painting our entire home purple and green. My displays of love for lavender have been relegated to our bathroom (mostly,except for the subtle packets in drawers and on shelves throughout the house) , which my grandmother, a talented lady, painted sage green for me to match my purple towels and white-framed photographs of lavender fields. If our first child is a girl, her room will become a lavender field. If its a boy, his will be a train yard- overlooking lavender fields!!!

            I am not the only one who has discovered the awesomeness of lavender. It has historically been used to cure insomnia, decrease anxiety, and improve overall health. Recent studies have suggested that properties in lavender act like estrogen for both males and females, with somewhat embarassing results for young boys who began developing breasts due to excessive use of lavender based roducts. The following is a good blog detailing these studies:
 Lavender is, apparently, pure femininity in plant form. Its an excellent fit for an anxious woman like myself, although not for children!!!

I also found out there is a lavender farm in my town: BJ's Lavender. 

but I just missed their open season. Next year, I will be there. 

When we landscape our yard, I am going to try my hardest to landscape with lavender. And today, I found out there is also yellowred, green, blue, and white lavender!!!

I just don't think my yard is big enough. Or my budget for lavender splurges!

And you? Is there an herb or a plant that you simply can't get enough of?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Making a Difference

I almost called in sick today. I didn't feel good and the main reason I didn't was because it would have been more of a hassle to reschedule everything than to just drag myself in. By 1:45, I had decided to quit and pursue some other job, any other job where I didn't have to deal with crippling anxiety everyday because complaining people are coming into my personal space. Besides, when was the last time I remember my work making any difference? People don't seem to even do what I suggest, much less seem helped by it. I would probably be doing the world a favor by moving on.

Then at 3:00pm, I had a client come in in crisis. Right then, it didn't matter if I picked the right intervention...she was on the verge of doing something dangerous and needed help, right then, to keep herself safe. All my years of crisis training kicked in, and I calmly followed the steps I needed to in order to protect her. Today, I stood in the gap for a person in need. What would have happened if I had called in sick? Maybe nothing, or maybe something tragic. Today, I made a difference. That's worth a little pathos.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Failing For Jesus

Right now, right this second, I am not succeeding to accomplish the things I would like to

I am getting fatter every day. I feel more swamped at work and less accessible to my church for ministry. I have very few wise words for anyone, and I haven't been able to directly share the gospel with coworkers in months. My sleeping habits and nutrition are at a low. My house...oh, my house.  I am not moving forward into greater and more glorious things. Things feel like a big old slumpy slump.

Someone is NOT feeling like a Proverbs 31 woman!!!

But you know what is amazing about all this? Somehow I am in God's will right now. Everytime I try to wriggle around and pray and ask Him to use me, He reminds me to be still and know that He is God. He is still accomplishing His purposes through me. I don't always know how or see how...but in the morning, I pray He will use me to do all things that He wants me to do that day, and I believe He is faithful to answer my prayer. Some days, all I seem to do for Him is care about my clients, care about my husband, or listen to one of the youth tell me a story about the funny thing that happened at school. Eternity is happening all around me, and God is letting me be apart of it, but He's not letting me see it right now. There's a strange liberation in that. I don't know what He's going to do with me next-and I don't have to figure it out or create a master plan or be all together. Thankfully,He knows His vessel well enough to know what I am capable of and He will take me little baby steps at a time.

Part of this newfound comfort in not feeling "successful" is that I am learning to lean on my Savior, Jesus. Lately He has been my comforter, and I have started praying in a different way, a way I have never prayed before. I am giving my pain and distress to Him as an offering.

Huh? You say? That's kind of wierd. Let me explain. I believe I often hold onto my worries and my stress and I don't give them to my God, who has told me to cast all my cares upon Him because He cares for me. I am sinning by holding onto my problems. And they are a vanity into themselves, aren't they, really? "Me, me, poor pitiful me, I suck so much" ought not to be the cry of the believer. Instead, I believe God is asking me to bring all I have to him and sacrifice it at the feet of the cross. And you know what I have right now?

Sadness. Confusion. Turmoil. Fear. Worry. I have these things, and these alone to give.
So I will give what I have, believing that Christ has already borne all my pain and suffering, and that of all my counterparts on the cross. I am not adding to his burden- rather, He has already taken mine. I think of him telling us His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Jesus conquered death on the cross, and that included all suffering and pain. It is going to be wiped away on the day He makes all things new. I needn't hold fast to it today. I can leave it at the feet of the cross.

So if I am overwhelmed by emotion, I have prayed, "Jesus, I give you my sorrow. Please use it as you will." Just a few minutes ago, it was, "Jesus, I give you my fatigue. Please use it as you will."

So, I am working on allowing myself to be a failure for Jesus. If I must be a wretch, I will be his wretch, and I will be content with the abilities He has given me. I understand more and more the words of Paul, when he said, his strengths are made perfect in my weaknesses. I have been poured out as a drink offering and I will rejoice in whatever role God would have me play, whether I can see its effect or not.

So, I sacrifice the need to personify MY idea of success, with my mental checklists and "supposedto's." My Lord's idea of success is total and utter obedience to Him. So obedient, even to the point of disgraceful death (as was my Lord) is what I will strive for. My goal? To be like the perfect Lamb, who received no earthly accolades and allowed himself to be humbled. I will meet Him with the disgraced outside the camp, which is the only place He will be met this side of eternity. And, Lord willing, and through His grace, in this I will

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stuff I Want to Tell My Clients, But Can't.

Sometimes, dear reader, the hardest part of being a therapist for a person like me, who is not a natural, non-judgmental listener (I’m an ENFJ, for those of you who know what that means), is not saying my opinions about my client’s life choices. You will be proud of me, because I zip my lip very well in session. I say things like: “How is that plan going for you?” and “Do you think that behavior will help you reach your goal?” or
“What do you think would be the best decision to make?” I do not break that curtain, because unconditional positive regard and self-empowerment are the foundations of my job.

But when I go home, I have STUFF TO SAY. My poor husband gets to hear my opinions a lot because I can’t tell them to the people who need to hear them. So there are a lot of things I would like to tell my clients, especially the girls, but I can’t because it’s not my job to just come right out and say it. Here are a few of them:

  1. DRUGS ARE BAD!!!!! Drugs are very, very, very bad! STOP DOING DRUGS.
  2. DON’T SLEEP WITH THAT BOY. He is bad news! He just wants to use you, get you pregnant and move on to the next thoughtless girl. HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU. Would you like me to kill him? I will kill him for you.
  3. GANGS ARE NOT COOL. Have you ever met a successful female gang member? NO. Female gang members get raped. They get knocked up. They get drugged up and prostituted out. Being a girl in a gang is like putting a sign on your back that says: “Mess up my life!” STOP DATING BOYS IN GANGS. SEE POINT # 2 AGAIN.
  4. GO TO CHURCH. People at church love you. They care about you. They will help you and hug you when you are sad. They will even give you a ride or a meal if you need it and you don’t have to do them any illegal or immoral favors to get it. STOP BEING IN A GANG AND GO TO CHURCH INSTEAD.
  5. Being a teen mom is NOT COOL. The top way to get out of poverty is to NOT get pregnant. He says he will stick around? He is lying! And even if he’s not, he doesn’t have a dime to help you out with. SEE POINT #2 AGAIN.

That’s just a few of them. Some of the things I DO get to say are good, things like this:

  1. I know its hard right now, but one day, I promise you, things will get better if you keep doing what you know is right.
  2. You are SO SMART, beautiful, creative, and talented. You can have a better life if you keep doing what you know is right.
  3. Stay on track. There is a great future for you out there… if you keep doing what you know is right.
  4. You don’t have to stay in the bad side of town. You can graduate high school, have a strong family (at the right time!), and have a good job and stay off of welfare…if you keep doing what you know is right.
  5. I believe in you. I know you can do it.

I care about them so much sometimes it hurts… I want them to have more and have better lives. I wish sometimes they were my kids so I could take them away from all the gunk they live with and endure. I want them to know there is more out there than trips to Chucky Cheese. I want to go all Quantum Leap style and take over and make their choices for them for a few years until they are out of danger! But I can’t. So I settle for hoping I can let them know there is a big, wonderful world out there that is better than the ghetto, and they can get there…if they keep doing what they know is right.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Name Game

I have a pet peeve. Sometimes parents, in an attempt to give a child a name that is different and unique, give them a name no one knows how to pronounce. Now I'm okay with that, people are free to name their children wierd things if they wish, but some people take it a step further. They get OFFENDED if you mispronounce their name or their children's name, even if its spelled in a way that would confuse anyone. So they come into my office and the test begins. Can the therapist accurately pronounce little Ma'likwa's name? If not, we have a reason to be automatically offended. So my first interaction with some parents goes something like this:

Me: "Mall-ik-wa?"
Angry-looking parent: "It's May'-leek-qua.That's the way its spelled. That's why there's a hyphen."
Me: Sorry, I'm no good with names! Come on back, My-lik-wa."
Angry-looking parent: "It's May'-Leek-Qua, I just told you."
Me: "So sorry!" (instantly forgetting appropriate pronunciation) Come on back...kid."

And it tends to go downhill from there.

Now, my name is Carolyn. I am often called Carol, Caroline, Carolina...sometimes even Carrie, Karen- lots of derivations. This doesn't really bother me. Its what happens when one has a common name. Carolyn comes from the root male name Charles, so I'm just happy I don't get called Charlie, Charlemagne, Carlos, or Carl.

To top it all off, I have a twin sister! So I'm just as likely to get called her name as I am my own. If I got offended every time someone called me Sandy, I'd probably be in prison right now for disorderly conduct. I can't tell other twins apart either, so I don't judge.

So if you gave your kid a funky, individualized name, don't be mad when no one else gets it right away. Its like penalizing people for not knowing your inside jokes! If anyone, let it be a conversation piece, because once its brought up, there's a good chance no one will forget his or her name, even if they aren't sure how to pronounce it.