Friday, June 19, 2015

Babies and bathwater...

Well,  I went to see the Integrative Medicine specialist and learned a few things.  First and foremost is that she would serve as a big picture person, but not a GP ... so I still need to either find another one or make the replacement doctor work.  Second, I did not know that the 12-month treatment that you get for TB can have serious repercussions on your health.  I also overheard that her new patient appointment book is closed until January 2016 so my cardiologist called in a very big favor for her to see me, on her day off no less.

She took a very, very, very detailed history that was quite difficult for me to be as frank as she wanted about my past.  I did, however, have the power of Becky's weighted lap blanket helping me along.  And, while I still do NOT believe in aroma therapy, it occurred to me that the essential oil that matches the lotion that is unbelievably soothing to me and that I use at night to go to sleep might be something I should use during doctor appointments.

I am, at the moment, using the headache relief combination that came as a free sample when I ordered the lotion and the essential oil.  I am not sure if I noted that, eons ago.  Really, at least a couple of years.  I have been miserly with the rather non-economical stuff that I tracked down to Canada after getting a travel lotion tube from my mother (an airline had rebranded it).  Darn it if that headache essential oils stuff doesn't work, too.  But, still, I do NOT believe in aromatherapy.

Anyway, I have a boatload of blood tests to go take, which have me worried about pricing.  I have a saliva test that is not covered, for sure, and is $99.  I have a follow-up consulting appointment in July, during which she wants to schedule three other appointments with consultants in different fields.

I am truly torn.  I mean, the cardiologist can try to tinker with my heart rate and blood pressure, but he makes a very cogent article about ensuring that there is no further help with my thyroid and adrenals before proceeding.  However, just how much money (that I do not have) do I spend pursuing the matter?  SIGH.

The IM specialist if very, very, very anti-dairy. Uhm, well, I'm from Texas.  Sour cream is in our blood.  Plus, I tried no dairy for a long while.  I found no difference.  Trying real and true gluten free did not make me feel any better, either.  For that matter, giving up my twice (or thrice) daily Dr Pepper did not have any positive health impact for me.  Maybe I should go back to drinking it????

I fetched prescriptions from Meijer and Target on the way home. I also scheduled an appointment with the surgeon on July 7th.  I am considering that it might be time for one of the two surgeries she would do.  If so, maybe I could do it when Becky comes, if she can.  I say that because it could be done under a local, which would be better for me, but would make me so anxious that I just might croak from that.  Were Becky with me, I might be able to handle it.  I have extreme difficult waking up from anesthesia and am rather worried, given what happened several years ago, that I would have even greater problems now.  Anyway, we are going to have a palaver on the 7th.

[Weird vocabulary use due to thinking about being a missionary in Africa.]

The problem I am having with the new theophylline dose is that at the lower dosage, only 12-hour tablets are available.  So, I need to take four times a day, along with my other half dose of a 24-hour version and still keep the theophylline consumption away from BOTH levothyroxine and larin consumption.  Basically, the whole medication scheduling has quadrupled in difficulty and is rather despairing to consider.

I have been in a bit of an effable place since hearing that Elisabeth Elliot died on Sunday.  I heard her speak on several occasions, once in a very intimate setting.  She is the person who taught me (pointed out) the dearth of theology in praise songs and the destructiveness of their egocentric repetitions (massive amounts of personal pronouns ... me, we, me, stuff).  She is the one who formed my approached to missionary work and taught the most salient lessons on dating.  She was a passionate lover of the Living Word and would never, ever have considered me a "Bible freak," as I was called on more than one occasion.

One thought, though, out of the ineffable maelstrom swirling in my being, is that I think I threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely and positively think that the Christian Book of Concord is the true and pure exposition of the Bible.  And the mainline evangelical church's works righteousness, egocentric, experienced-filled, emotion-driven, watered-down theology is not only wrong, but also harmful.  But, really, Elisabeth Elliot was a powerful and positive faithful woman who had ever so much Christ-centered Gospel to share with the world.  For her, it was not about me, but Jesus.

My favorite book of hers is No Graven Image, which is actually a novel.  In sum, this young missionary woman goes into a third world community to do Bible translation work, laboring arduously, only to have all her work stolen at the end.  The question becomes, then, was her missionary work a waste of time?  I was shocked because God didn't come to the miraculous rescue.  And that book has continued to trouble my waters in the best way possible ever since.

Along the same time I read it, I was really battling with the whole having a good enough relationship with Jesus so that I would not struggle with sin anymore.  False teaching, I know, but I didn't know it then.  There was this one day, where, in agony, I threw my Ryrie study bible (that ginormous thing) against the wall.  The spine broke and for the many years afterwards, when still using that Bible, I had this reminder that always drew me back to her book.  What is "good" in God's eyes?  How does God measure success?  Can you still accomplish God's will even though the product of your labor for Him is lost?

For years and years, I received her newsletter.  I am not sure why it stopped.  Did I move one to many times?  Did I forget about it (as I do the fact that I love and adore deviled eggs or have Rolos in my cupboard)?  Did she stop its circulation?

This, here, has been the tribute to her I have savored the most.  I would encourage you to read it, no matter what you think about John Piper.

Something I have been trying to do, for months now, is speak, where legitimately possible, positive lessons I have learned from those who have hurt and betrayed me, especially as a child.  Some had no good in what they did.  Others did.  I believe it is important to speak of the good, of the lessons I garnered, even in the midst of true horror.

I was so very young when I was a missionary.  Too young.  But also too old.  I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and believed only good things happened to missionaries.  I learned otherwise.  Living in a war zone, alone, taught me otherwise.  Even though I have the truth, now, I sometimes still wonder why one isn't safe, at least, on the mission field.  And, too, I question what I did to "deserve" such wretchedness whilst a missionary.

In a way, that brings me back to babies and bathwater.

Being an evangelical, I learned of Elizabeth Elliot and Hudson Taylor and Lottie Moon and Amy Carmichael.  And I had my ears filled (as my eyes are now) with Michael Card's passionate love for the Living Word.  I learned about not counting the cost and, I believe, the good of being an evangelical was that, when felled by chronic illness, I did not/have not lashed out at God or blamed Him for the misery of my days.  God did not do this to me; life in a fallen world did.  Sin did.

I have so little specific memory of all the books and lectures and conferences I attended where Elizabeth Elliot taught.  But the impression that remains is not talk about faith lived out as a wife or a mother but about God and His work.  Knowing God.  Knowing God through the Living Word.

To me, she spoke about God's "call for your life," something very big back then, the way I think Lutherans might speak of vocation.  I remember her talking about students who would seek her out to discover their calling:

Student:  I want to know how to learn what my calling is.
Elisabeth:  Are you a college student?
Student:  Yes.
Elisabeth:  Then that is your calling.
Student:  But I want to know what my real calling is so I can know how I can serve God.
Elisabeth:  Being a student, what you are doing right now at this moment, is your real calling, is how you serve God.  

[Why is it that we always want to do more, be more?  SIGH.]

I met her.
I got to talk with her.
I learned from her.
She was my hero.

Life as an evangelical, back then, was a lot about God being sovereign.  I do not/did not hear that kind of emphasis as a Lutheran.  I am too cheese-hole-brained to remember how someone explained the errancy of Calvin's sovereign stance, but, as I read recently in a comment section where I had no business being, words can hold different meaning and the richness of words needs to be preserved, not abandoned.  Two more babies:  sovereignty and a large vocabulary.

I was reading a comment about how "chaste" is one thing and "celibacy" is another, but the definite used of celibacy was so narrow as to skew the word.  Plus, well, the context of the Confession quote was on the forced celibacy of priests, which does not, in my untutored opinion, extrapolate to all people, nor elevate marriage over singleness.  But who am I to speak of such things?

The short of it all is that I miss the Myrtle who reveled in the writings of Elisabeth Elliot and danced (figuratively, of course) to the music of Michael Card.  I miss the Myrtle who memorized a gazillion Bible verses and traded them with her friends.  As I have said before, I miss the Myrtle who had friends to pray with ... lots.  I miss the Myrtle who spent copious amounts of time serving others alongside fellow church folk.  I miss the Myrtle who knew she was saved even though she constantly failed at "deepening her relationship with Jesus."  That was good even in the midst of a church full of bad theology.

And I miss the world where Elisabeth Elliot, who taught me of hymns and missions, of being still before God, of seeking solace in the Living Word, was a hero.

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