Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Of Puzzles: a Health Update

This will be in two parts. Even though the first part came chronologically second, I'm still debating on if I want share the second part. Sorry!
Credit: National Geographics
After trying to put puzzle pieces together for a long time with nothing coming together, you flip the table over in frustration only to find the pieces fall perfectly in place.

If you're like me, you stand there staring at the puzzle while the occurrence sinks in. "But this is real life. That doesn't happen in real life." My life isn't a movie. My life is real, and movies are not. This is why it's important to have your own experiences.

By the by, we're 80% sure what's wrong with me.

My grandmas (close family friends, but we claim them and they claim us) suggested a doctor to me. After ending it with the last doctor, we've been getting a few suggestions. If you ever find yourself in the land of medical-ness, I wish you the best of luck. We tried getting into these doctors but couldn't get an appointment. (There's either a flaw in phones or receptionists. Let's blame phones.) Which my regular medical doctors, it could be 3 months before there's an opening. We had an appointment with the doctor my grandmas suggested in less than a week. (Props to her phone!) I was super skeptical though.

A chiropractor? Really? The last thing I wanted was someone sitting on my back. What on earth could she do for me? The only comment that came with the suggestion is "She's gentle". Still didn't mean anything to me.
One of my major concerns is that I wanted to treat the cause, not the symptoms. I want to get to the bottom of this! I can't live like this- a life like this is not living.

I went to the appointment SUPER skeptical. I have respect for my grandmas though, so I went to humor them and my mom. The first thing I'm told is to take everything I know about chiropractics and put it in a box. This doctor was only interested in treated the cause. Cool! Me too!

We talk about my novel of a health record, what we've found out so far, and all that jazz. I've never been in an accident or broken a bone. We decide to find a cause starting from birth. I guess it wasn't anything too eventful or exciting since I can't remember it. She asked my mom and got pretty much the same answer. No problems. "Where there forceps?" "Yeah, there would have been forceps." (That's something I didn't know.) "That's the problem!"
She explained all her young patients who come in had a c-section or forceps at birth. This causes strain on the neck as it's pulled and shreds up fragile fibers within the body. From the get-go, your body is already trying to compensate.
She did a simple exam. Turns out there is a whole inch of difference between my legs! Most people at that point are given inserts. My case, of course, would be different. My weight is mostly on my left size.
Credit: Sebastian Eriksson Self Portrait

Next up, x-rays. This revealed how truly contorted my body is. Terribly! It also reveals an extremely important factor. The atlas, the very first vertebra within the skull, is so far off in the wrong spot that it's crushing my brain stem. My neck curves the wrong way. My spine is a mess!
Why is that important? It's cutting of my nerves, one of the major ones being the vegas nerve. The vegas nerve is in charge of the heart, lungs, and stomach. It would be why I respiratory issues, and why my heart freaks out.

I read some papers she sent home with me, one of which is a chart with symptoms and the related section of the spine. So many things are explained, dating back to preschool and elementary school! She wasn't kidding when she said it was something from birth.

It was such a simple thing, yet it took us so long to find it. The treatment is adjustment of the atlas, which means a gentle message behind my ears. I've had 3 session and feel SO much better!

Why now? Why did it not become so severe until Serbia? It's something that builds up until your body says "Dosta mi je!" and gives in on itself. It could have been my extremely heavy and unbalanced bag, the stresses of missionary life, or it was just time.

As exciting as all of this is, it's only the picture of the puzzle. The circumstances surrounding it, the tipping of the table and the falling together, is what makes me sit down and really look and rejoice in it.
But that is part 2.

Part 2 is possibly still in process. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oh Hello Metaphor: Glaciers

We take you from your prescheduled program of Ether 12:4.

I just like to start out by saying that I know God's hand is in all things. From our prayers, right down to the documentaries we watch.

I'm going to break this up into 3 parts. Part 1) Glaciers. Part 2) Metaphor 1. Part 3) Metaphor 2. Then  you may return to your day.

I've found a new love in documentaries. I have been enjoying the NOVA variety. Fractals! Midget submarines! Evolution of dogs! I love it! Every now and then, one comes up that I think will not be so excited, and then I'm proven wrong. I love it! One of these was Glaciers.

The part I want to focus on is this phenomenon of vanishing lakes. Glaciers are spotted with lakes varying in size. In the summertime, these lakes vanish overnight. It was assumed that the water was simply absorbed into the surrounding ice. However, it was discovered the lakes where going down a hole to the bedrock. The water then acted as a lubricant, moving the glacier to the water where it would break apart.

Doubt and Questions
A day or two later, I was thinking about these lakes for no real reason and it suddenly occurred to me! This is why it's so important to address questions and doubts!

The brethren have always been clear in their encouragement to ask questions. If you have doubts, don't let them get under your skin and dislodge your testimony. (See what I did there?) These water parts can be used to strengthen and grow like the mass of a glacier or lead us to a watery demise. Don't ignore!

Now we will liken the glacier to an icy disposition. Often, our kind acts or encouraging words, even words of testimony, will seem to have no effect. Even to the glacier, they will just come and pass. But theses things gather and work upon the icy surface until it is moved. They work from the inside out.

And this is when I was knocked off my feet in realization of how the Lord's hand is really in everything. It's wonderful.

You may be asking, how can one metaphor represent both good and bad? Simply this: opposition in all things. Another way to put this is that there are types and shadows in all things. Or as Sir Newton put "Each action has an opposite and equal reaction." Take your pick!

This is what I came up with. What parallels come to your mind? I want to know what metaphors you have come across recently. I really do! I'm kind of a nerd about these things.

I want to end with my testimony that I know God is reaching out for us always. He speaks in ways we understand. Are you listening?

I re-found this talk a week after posting this. Elder Larry S Kacher, "Trifle Not With Sacred Things"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ether 12:4 - Anchor to the Souls

 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
This may be my favorite part of this verse. Yes, there have been many talks and what-not, but this is what the phrase means to me.

Hope is often viewed as a characteristic of the "flighty". These dreamers and believers are often referred as having their "head in the clouds."

But they don't! Hope makes an anchor. Those who hope are grounded and "down to earth". They have a solid grasp.

Think of the function of an anchor. The ship at sea with it's anchor weighed. The waves come and it sways and it moves, but it remains rooted. The other ships may laugh at this proportionally small chain and object. But this ship doesn't get lost. It may move, but never is lost.

This movement, although anchored, is fantastic. It means we can still move around and explore without getting lost or off course.

How does hope make an anchor? It's a hard concept to get your hands around, and, to be honest, it requires experimentation and application to truly understand. It's an experience. It's felt but not seen. Like an anchor in the water!

Let's take the boat and replace it with a person. This person hopes for an ideal. Maybe it's a career, a relationship, or a state of being. They're trucking along towards their goal, but lo! What's this? A metaphorical wave! It's a setback! It's lack of progress! It's neigh-sayers and doubts! Will this person be whisked out to the Dark Sea of So Called Realists?
To be continued...

Just kidding. It depends on whether or not the person has hope. Do you remember sometime when you felt down and out and a memory or person gives you just a bit of hope? Remember how that hope sparked and sputtered but gave off light anyways? Maybe they reminded you of your dream. Maybe they shared their anchor with you, which I have experienced many times. *coughcough* Mom *coughcough* (Also looking at you, friends, family, and teachers.) If this person has hope, then they can exercise faith by continuing to sail through without top-sizing, not matter how much they may waver. If there is no hope, they drift off and become lost in the storm we call life. They might burnout or just not try for any improvement.
This can result in a lost hope becoming a cringing pain instead of a beacon. "That'll never happen to me."

Hope is an anchor to the soul.
The deepest part of you. If your soul doesn't drift, you won't drift. Your mind may reel and your heart may doubt, but in your soul, your heart of hearts, you are anchored.

Remember our friend John Adams? You know, they driving bullheaded force behind independence? What would have happened if he had no hope? What if he was cynic who tossed between the waves of life? Life would be very different nowadays. He used his anchor to help others remain anchored.

Have you felt that anchor in your life? Is it time for you to weigh the anchor? Have you even used the anchor of another or used your anchor to help someone else?

One last thought on this line: There are many other boats there. If we drift off course, we may become caught between them. Have you ever watched objects floating in waves? They tend to congregate. If you get stuck amongst other boats, you may become subject to their direction. You just kind of float where they float. If you become anchored to them, you can become very lost. If you anchor in the ground (as anchors are suppose to), the other boats may float around and away, but you are still secured.

My advise is this, secure yourself in a firm foundation. Hope in Christ. Firm, unmoving, and equally (if not more) invested in you. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ether 12:4 - Hope Cometh of Faith

 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

One of the most common comments I hear from others after reading this verse is "Oh, I always thought of it the other way round."

This could be answered simply by saying "Well the gospel is just funny like that." But lets be honest. That doesn't answer anything. As was touched up (okay... borderline ranted. I don't want to beat the figurative dead horse) faith is pretty much trust.
There are SO many scriptures that explain faith and hope. My suggestion would be to start with Preach My Gospel, Chapter 6, sections Faith and Hope. I could tell you all that I have learned through my study, but what I learned most is that it was all stuff that I might have heard or read before, it's something that I needed to be taught, in my own language (learning language, that is), in order to really understand. It has opened up not only new doors, but a new world to me. I urge you to take the time to study these two topics.

It's hard to imagine hope without faith, and faith without hope.

I believe hope without faith is called "wishing". I've seen this phenomenon in other people as well as myself. In Alma 32, Alma is teaching a group of really poor people. He is explaining faith to them, and how it differs from knowledge. (It really is an incredible chapter! I learn new things every time I read it, and I have read it MANY times.) He explains that if you have a complete knowledge of a thing, you no longer need to believe it so your faith is then dormant.
Sometimes, we let our faith go dormant a little too soon. We say "Oh yeah, I hope the world becomes better." "I hope little Jimbo figures out his life." but we may not have faith in those things.

What about faith without hope? Moroni says you can't have such a thing. If there was, what would it look like? Hard to think of, eh? How about when we have faith in God, but not ourselves? When a missionary has faith in the power of the spirit, but no hope in their own proficiency? The have faith faith that so-and-so will come to church, but that the result may vary?

"Hope cometh of faith." In modern language, "Hope comes from faith." This is true. In my first example (two paragraphs up), I referred to it as "wishing". It's something that happens in word, but not in the mind or heart. That hope is merely figurative.

When we have faith in Christ and his Atonement, we cannot help but hope for a better world and a better life. When we faith in God's love, we have hope in ourselves and those around us.

It's a simple phrase, a small part of the verse, but it means a lot. Hope can carry us through the darkest of times and roughest of roads. What good is walking through the desert if the desert never ends? Hope is the oasis's that lead to Disneyand, or Hawaii, or whatever you see as a never ending paradise.

It comes from trusting that voice inside. The one that says God knows what He's doing. That there is good in everyone, including you. That there is help ahead. That there is happiness, and it is obtainable to you in this life. When trails come, it says "You can do it!" and you will survive for the better.

If you have nothing else to hope for, you can always hope in Christ, in a loving Heavenly Father, and in eternal peace with them. If you need help, pray for it. I promise you God will answer. He always does, and He always will.

To share a personal experience with this, I may need you to humor me. I use to have a rather grim look on relationships, at least the ones available to me. Wether it be friends, teachers, or whatever. I never thought I could obtain one of those really good ones. I even did the ultimate sin of buying into stereotypes and my own presumptions. I know! How un-21st century of me. I did think the relations might exist, just not for me. Not in the brooding shadow in the corner kind of way, it just never occurred to me. I'm awkward, goofy, loud, and have spent a really good portion of my life alone. My school friends rarely last longer than a semester, and the few friends I had in grade school were not very good to me (although I didn't mind at the time). That isn't to say there haven't been good loving people in my life. There have been! I am indeed blessed with the love of family and good neighbors. I can even name them off!
Artist Credit: David B
So I'm sitting in an empty classroom with my companion. My world is already being rocked in the best of ways. I love everyone around me, and they love me! I feel so comfortable in my own skin and I belong. I have an unbelievably perfect partner-in-MTC (no crimes on the mission) who is also studying in the same room. In order to be the best companion in return and be a better missionary, I decide to study Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, Christlike Attributes.
So the room is quiet. The spirit is there. I'm writing notes down and studying like mad. Then I noticed a common theme. "Faith is hope in things which are not seen which are true."
It hit me all at once like a pillow in the face. Things which are not seen which are true. Like other the kindness and love in others. This became a prevailing motto for me. Whenever I start getting down on myself or doubtful or wishful, I would remember to hope in that unseen thing.
You would think I would be prepared for miracles, right? I'm hoping and expecting what are miracles to me. Nope. I was still surprised daily by the love shown to me by others. Someone brought me strawberries, because they remembered I once said I like them. Someone else wrote me a kind note with a friendship rope-bracelet thing. A teacher said something nice. Someone tackled me with a hug while I was in bed. This may seem like really small things to you, and they didn't think twice about it, but it meant the world to me. There are a few that I still never got to know or talk to, but it's okay. It did not hold matter to me. I now knew what life could hold and became excited by the future. I was so excited to love everyone I came in contact with.

On this same note, I think it was Elder Scott who said, "The children of Father in Heaven can do amazing things when they feel trusted." You you believe in the unseen potential in others, you are opening your life to surprises.

Faith and hope. Study the word. Share the word. Spread the word. Be the word.