Saturday, April 28, 2007

Birthdays are still fun!

You guessed it, that's me in the picture with my stick pony. Mom took that photo on my 3rd birthday. Look at that ear-to-ear grin! Have you ever seen such a display of exuberance? If you think that's a big smile, you should have seen me at my wedding. Grins galore!

Today is my 27th birthday. Woooooo hoooooooooo!

My day started very pleasantly, and has continued to be an enjoyable one. The house is all in order, (I know I mention that a lot, but I can't believe how peaceful I feel now that that's the reality around here) and the tri tip we're having for dinner is marinating as I type.

Grandma and Grandpa took us out for a nice birthday breakfast. I had a Belgian waffle of course. Not long after coming back home, one of my dearest friends called from New York to wish me a happy birthday. She said "I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to put your card in the mail...I was a little busy...HAVING A BABY!" Yay! Baby Hannah arrived just a little ahead of what we expected, but apparently right on time for God's plan for her life. Isn't that always the case? I'm thrilled for my friends, and delighted that I have an honorary niece who practically shares my birthday.

After a few more phone calls from friends and family, I took myself to Old Navy for a little birthday shopping. Now, let me stress that shopping for anything other than groceries is NOT my forte. In fact, I pretty much disdain shopping altogether. But something about the blue sky and the wonderful spring sunshine stirred something in me. After nearly 6 months of dressing primarily in pajamas and sweat suits (and not necessarily matching ones at that...) it was time to add a splash of color and some flattering designs to my wardrobe.

God has been good to me throughout my life. Birthdays are always a time for me to reflect on his blessings and presence in my life. This year especially, I see how far he has brought me, and the ways that he uses other people to impact me. If you had told me 6 months ago how great today was going to be, I would have scoffed at you in utter disbelief. God has a way of turning our hearts and attitudes around, and showing us just how much he wants to give us when we trust him with all the details.

As I reflect on these things, I invite you to join me in celebrating God's goodness and mercy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunshine and Flowers

Just living is not enough...One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

--Hans Christian Anderson

Usually as my birthday approaches, I get a bit of the "gardening bug." It all started my freshman year of college at UC Riverside, when my friend Sheryl gave me a philodendron for a birthday present. I named it "Phyllis" and it survived long enough to accompany me on 2 moves during my scholastic career.

When I was 21 I was living with roommates in an apartment that had a bit of dirt where I planted some pansies. They met with an untimely end when a friend's little boy systematically stomped them all flat, one by one. Boys will be boys.

Next came "Leilani" the hibiscus. She did great on our patio in Escondido for almost a year. She met her demise in a Santa Ana windstorm. I bought a smaller hibiscus plant to replace her, but it just wasn't the same.

Now we are living in our first home, but we don't have a yard. I prowled around the garden department at Wallyworld (aka Wal-Mart) this afternoon looking for a suitable patio plant, but nothing struck my fancy. Currently the entry-way to our house is guarded by "Charlie," the Lone Gnome. Maybe tomorrow I'll see if I can find a bit of greenery that would look nice on my bistro table.

Then again, maybe I'll just spend my energy washing the windows and enjoying the spring sunshine!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Another Good Weekend

The rhythm of the weekend, with its birth, its planned gaieties, and its announced end, followed the rhythm of life and was a substitute for it.

--F. Scott Fitzgerald

I like the way our household runs now that I'm a little more sane. This is the longest amount of time that I've been out of the hospital, so we've FINALLY had a chance to develop a routine together. Before we'd only do chores around the house as we were able or when things got to the point where we couldn't stand the mess anymore. Frankly, there were just more important things to deal with (IVs, doctor appointments, hospital visits...)

Friday night we watched Mission: Impossible 3 together. Blech. I didn't really care for it. Lousy story. The first Mission: Impossible was great.

On Saturday we lounged around a bit. Then we did our chores. I figured out how to use the Swiffer to clean the baseboards without having to get down on my hands and knees. Okay, so I get excited about silly things. That's just me. Now if only I can find where to buy the refills for the Clorox Bathroom Cleaner, I'd be good to go. I guess the things are pretty new, because I can't even find it on Clorox's Website. They do have good housecleaning tips on there though.

My favorite part of doing our chores together was the way we worked as a team to get the downstairs floor cleaned up. Brad wielded the Swiffer, and I was in charge of spraying the diluted Pine-Sol and following up with a rag to make sure we didn't leave wet spots behind. I've had a hard time deciding what works best to keep our laminate floor residue free after a cleaning. Any suggestions in the comments are appreciated.

There's just something about having a clean house that contributes to peace of mind and serenity. I wonder if that's why some people think that cleanliness is next to godliness. *shrug* I suppose sometimes I'm a Mary, and sometimes I'm a Martha. I think it's just as important that I spend time going to church and learning from God's Word in order to be a suitable partner for my husband. But more about that in my soon to be released book "Dear Future Husband." You can read the little blurb about it on Shulamite Publishing's website.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wonderful Changes are Coming Soon!

Normally I work out a general summary of what I mean to do, then start writing, and the details can be different from my anticipation. So there is considerable flow, but always within channels.

--Piers Anthony

I have been thinking a lot about how I can make this blog more useful and informative to the CF community. I have a number of faithful readers who like keeping tabs on the day to day aspects of my life, but that only holds people's interest for so long. Not everyone who deals with CF wants to hear about another person's life with it; after all, their own life has enough challenges; why should they read about mine?

Rest assured that the "journaling" aspect of this blog will not fall by the wayside. I plan to branch out a bit and use this blog as my own little journalistic publication. Thanks to some great tips I picked up from Laura Christianson's blogging workshop at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, I'm confident that I will be able to draw a wider readership, and ultimately, further educate people about cystic fibrosis.

When is this all going to take place? The plan is to kick off a new format of sorts on May 1st.

I welcome your input and ideas about what you'd like to see around here. Please use the comments to leave me a note, or send me an email with the subject line "blogging about CF."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Adjusting and Accomplishing

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.

Isaac Asimov

I haven't blogged in a few days, but that's mostly because I've been too busy enjoying a calm mind and a clean house. The Seroquel is really helping me sleep regularly (with only a few minor setbacks) and as a result, I don't feel so agitated in my head. There were times when I wondered if my brain was out of whack because I was not sleeping well, or if I was not sleeping well because my brain was out of whack. I suppose it all goes together. It was nice to throw a stick into the spokes of the wheels, so to speak, and bring things to a pause long enough to get a good plan in place.

I'm thrilled that I've gotten so much energy and enthusiasm back. I'm gradually getting back in the habit of preparing dinner. It's great to sit together at the dinner table with the TV turned off, and just enjoy one another. It reminds me of when we would have our "domestic dates" while we were engaged. I'd prepare a full meal, and we'd really connect with one another as we conversed and ate.

Spiritually speaking, things are going well too. I had a particularly significant day on Monday (more about that later maybe) and it ushered in a new season of peace and freedom--something I was needing.

So many months have passed since I went on short term disability, and I'm glad that it has been worthwhile. I'm at the point now where I'm looking forward to returning to work. I'm a little apprehensive about it, but not overly so. I've got the jitters about it much like when I was about to start a new quarter of school.

Healthwise, I'm in a good place. Like I said before, since the Seroquel doesn't dry me out like benadryl would, I'm having a much easier time with my morning airway clearance. I've been so successful with that in fact, that I don't have to cough nearly as much throughout the day.

Not everything is perfect though. I've gotten a handle on the coughing, but now that I'm eating more, I'm having to adjust my enzymes. That's something I need to bring up at my next clinic appointment. I think it may be time to switch from Creon to something else, but I'm not convinced that's the case. Things just seem to be off-track with my tummy. I'm gaining weight, but it's obvious from my bathroom habits that I'm still not absorbing the fats. (Those of you who have CF can probably guess what I'm talking about).

That's about it for now. I'll post more updates, especially if I hit upon a good solution with the enzymes.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Lunar Lifeboat

Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.

--James A. Lovell (Apollo 13 Astronaut)

Perhaps it's because I have studied the intricacies of the environmental processes of 'terra firma' that I also have an interest in space exploration. I'm not a NASA buff by any means, but I do read up on things that are space related. I think that by and large, our fascination with the cosmos and the desire to explore thing beyond our world, is an attempt to connect with our Creator. Something in us longs to touch the eternal. What better way than to explore the vastness of infinite space?

On this day in history, the 3 astronauts of Apollo 13, (Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, John Swigert) found themselves in a crippled space craft. During a routine maintenance check, an explosion triggered the loss of oxygen and electrical power in their command module. Returning to earth safely became their new mission.

In some ways, I feel like my body is the command module of Apollo 13. I have limited oxygen and power. However, I'm not left without a lifeboat. God gives me what I need to survive and complete my "mission" as his faithful servant.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Minimal Effort, High Calorie Recipes

I had these recipes that say do this, do that. Who MAKES these rules?

--Emeril Lagasse

A lot of CFers (myself included) are short on time and energy when it comes to preparing dinner. I'm a little embarrassed about how often I've opted to "graze" for dinner instead of putting something decent together. Now that I'm getting back on track with my sleep schedule and so forth, I'm feeling more enthusiasm about returning to the kitchen.

Here are some of our favorite "no-fuss" meals. It's got all the basic food groups, and is LOADED with calories. It's easy to hide some "Scandical" in these too, or load them up with extra cheese.

"Chili Cups"

1 tube of pillsbury homestyle biscuit dough
1 can of Stagg Turkey Chili ranchero
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven according to directions on the biscuits.
2. Grease a muffin tin
3. Using the can of chili as a rolling pin, flatten each of the biscuits so that they will be flat enough and big enough to line the muffin tin
4. Spoon the chili into the dough
5. Bake for 13 minutes (or until the biscuits are golden)
6. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on the tops of the chili cups

"Lazy Chicken Casserole"

one bag frozen veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup and veggies. Stir to coat.
3. Place chicken breasts in an 8x8 glass baking dish
4. Pour the veggie/soup mixture on top of the chicken
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes

*optional, shredded cheddar cheese can be added on top for extra calories!

If you'd like to check out some other favorites from CFers, don't forget to visit out the recipes page over at

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

--Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut, famed novelist and essayist died this evening at the age of 84. Vonnegut succumbed to head injuries he sustained as the result of a recent fall.

I wasn't a huge fan of his writing, but I did read some of his more notable works including Slaughterhouse-Five, Galapagos, and Cat's Cradle. I'm always intrigued by writers who initially pursue other career paths. Vonnegut majored in chemistry, and his older brother was a well-known atmospheric scientist.

Vonnegut's world view differed wildly from my own, which is probably why his works were such good food for thought. Galapagos in particular, stands out as being an utterly strange, yet provocative piece of writing. I may have to re-read it again soon.

My personal opinion is that reading anything by Kurt Vonnegut is like watching a David Lynch movie.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Singing the Praises of Pretzels

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"

--C.S. Lewis

Some other CFers and I have been discussing our fondness for pretzels. Pretzels are, quite possibly, my all time favorite snack.

Why I like pretzels:

1. Salty
2. Crunchy
3. Fat-free
4. Not messy
5. Inexpensive

Their saltiness is appealing to most CFers. I think it's the body's natural way of dealing with the messed up chloride ion transport channels. Desiring something crunchy is possibly another way our bodies try to cope. Studies have shown that people who exhibit a desire to chew on ice cubes are iron deficient.

Part of the reason I like them is because it's one snack food that is relatively easy on my digestive system. There are few things in the snack world that are good for complex carbs, but low on fats. I need lots of calories, but it's essential that my body can retain them. If a food is high in calories but too fatty, it does me no good.

My dad-in-law works for Frito-Lay, so I'm always a willing recipient of the bags of pretzels that are out of code. (i.e. unopened and still fine, but can't be sold b/c they're past their freshness date). I've got a HUGE stash of pretzels in the pantry that I've been working on since Christmas, thanks to my own personal "happy go-lucky Frito Man."

Aside from the occasional salt granules that fall to the floor, pretzels are relatively mess-free. They're not greasy, so I don't have to worry about inadvertently wiping my hands on my pants as I eat them. This is also why they were a permissible snack while I was clad in my wedding dress. Today's picture was taken at my wedding. We did photos before the ceremony so that I wouldn't get too worn out. We also stopped for a snack break in between. I'm quite accident prone so the only snacks we had were things that could not spill or stain. We even used water instead of wine for communion, just in case I spilled (which I did.)

I figured if Jesus can turn water to wine, then forgoing the wine wasn't going to make the occasion any less sacred!

Monday, April 09, 2007

I guess I'm normal afterall!

Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die,
life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.

--Langston Hughes

Interestingly enough, today I found an article on msnbc about the 5 most common dreams. The teeth dream was one of them! The other common dream that I have is that I'm just 4 units short of graduating from college. My dad has that dream too. It's always very reassuring to look back on my transcript and see that yes, I did graduate, and I managed to get an A in physics.

Anyone else have similar stuff in their dreams? According to msnbc, the 5 most common are:

1. Falling
2. Being chased
3. teeth falling out
4. back at school
5. spouse cheating

Now, I would have certainly thought that the flying dream would be on the list rather than the cheating spouses one. I guess people must watch too much Desperate Housewives or something before going to bed.

Speaking of which, I should toddle off to bed. I didn't sleep well last night. It's not the Seroquel's fault, it's mine. I didn't take the dosage on time and it really goofed me up. I won't try that little experiment again any time soon.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Recurring Dream

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
for in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;

--Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3, line 72-77 (Shakespeare)

I have a few recurring dreams. In one of them, my teeth fall out. I'm told that this is not an uncommon recurring dream. Nonetheless, it always seems so real and icky!

It always starts the same way. I'm running my tongue along the inside of my row of bottom teeth, and I can feel that I have braces on them. I also notice that there is one little hook in the back that has come loose. As I wiggle it around with my tongue, I dislodge part of it. Now it's not only uncomfortable, but the wire is hanging there very conspicuously. So I reach in with my fingers and unhook it all. As I pull on the wire, slides off quite easily, sort of like pulling a thread out of a sweater. And, just like a thread from a sweater, the entire orthodontic appliance unravels in my mouth.

Without the braces on my teeth, my teeth feel wiggly and unsupported. They also feel fragile in my mouth, and even if I try to hold my jaw completely stationary, I damage them. One by one I feel them dislodge. I spit them into my hand--broken shards of teeth, tiny and dirty.

At first I want to keep quiet about it, and see if they don't firm up on their own, but it becomes immediately apparent that unless I act quickly, I'm going to lose all of my teeth. At this point in the dream, no matter where I was when I first noticed the loose teeth, I'm immediately transported to the bathroom at my parents' house. I open the door and call to my mom to help me with my broken teeth.

I spend the rest of the dream trying to track down my dentist and orthodontist. They're never available. I wake up, worried that the dream was real and that my teeth are gone.

Weird, eh?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Seroquel: Day 2

Appetite, craving for food, is a constant and powerful stimulator of the gastric glands.

--Ivan Pavlov

I'm 2 for 2 with sleep! It's probably too soon to be experiencing the full benefit of Seroquel, but so far I like how it has been going. One thing I noticed is that when I wake up in the morning, I don't have that dried out feeling like I get when I took Tylenol Simply Sleep or something similar. The difference is that the component of Seroquel that promotes sleep is not an antihistamine. It's wonderful to wake up and not feel like I've been inhaling sawdust all night.

I've also noticed an increase in appetite, which is a known side effect of the medication. I'm sure most people aren't thrilled about that, but in my case, I don't mind. I'm thrilled at the prospect of putting on a few pounds. I'm still about 10 pounds shy of my ideal weight. There's really not much more I can do than keep eating eating eating. I wish I didn't have to work so hard just to be healthy. I'm so thankful for the support and encouragement I have in my husband and extended family. I may not always be in the best of shape, but I know I'm always loved.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Seroquel: Day 1

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.

William Blake

Now that I've been home from "camp" for a few days, I'm working on settling into a decent routine. Being in the great outdoors and getting so much exercise while at Mount Hermon was just the sort of jumpstart I think I needed. I've been sitting at home so much since November, that I had nearly forgotten what it's like to be out and about. Also, having a set routine for mealtimes and so forth while I was there was good for reprogramming my internal clock.

Last night I started on a new medication (Seroquel) to help me with sleep and the symptoms of OCD that keep me from relaxing enough to be able to sleep. For the first time in quite awhile I was in bed before midnight, and slept ALL night. The best part was, not only did I sleep, but I slept soundly. I'm very encouraged by this and hope that this is the right medication for me.

In the past I've been reluctant to try medications that would affect my brain. I was worried that I would be robbed of my "spark" or that little something that makes me such a creative individual.

I'm praying that Seroquel is in fact the key that we've been looking for to unlock the door to a calmer, more stable Lauren. It's far to early to tell for sure, but I'm optimistic.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

This year was my first opportunity to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, up near San Jose, CA. As a newbie, I made a point to ask people what I could expect from the event. I was told repeatedly that it was going to be like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hose. I just assumed that statement was hyperbole.

I went to the conference with an attitude to learn. Certainly, I was excited about the opportunity to meet editors and other freelancers whom I admire (Austin Boyd, Randy Ingermanson, Sally Stuart, just to name a few), but I refrained from pressuring myself into taking every class. I'm happy to report that I didn't feel overwhelmed, and the only thing that really wore me out was the thin mountain air.

Judith Ann Hillard is the first friend I made at the conference. We learned that we're both fans of the TV show "House" and that we both struggle with an invisible illness. Judith has MS; not the fun MS with the bike rides and 10Ks and balloons, but the scary kind. She is a joyfully exuberant recipient of God's grace, and has quite a powerful testimony. She has self-published her story with Xulon Press. "The Other Woman at the Well" is a truthful accounting of addiction overcome.

Austin Boyd
and I first crossed paths about a year ago thanks to Randy Ingermanson. As Austin puts it, he and I began "swapping lies" via email, and learned that in addition to working for the same company, we also have connections to CF. His neighbor is the founder of sourceCF. Small world, isn't it?

I'm counting down until July 4, when NavPress will release the long awaited conclusion to Austin's techno-thriller trilogy. A newly autographed copy of "The Evidence" and "The Proof" (the first two books in the Mars Hill series) are already part of my ever-expanding library.

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