Common Courtesy

Many of you know already that my new job in St. Louis has had its challenges.  The “culture” of our office has been in flux over the past several months as those of us in leadership have been trying to make it a healthier and more professional work environment.   Some days I think we are making progress, and then other days are disappointing with some staff members treating others rudely.

So what are things we would consider “common courtesy” or “good manners” in our culture at large?  I would like to list the things that come to my mind, but also ask y’all as my readers to add your thoughts/ideas.

In public:

Wait your turn.  Don’t push and shove.  If you do physically bump into somebody, say “excuse me”. Don’t have loud conversations on the phone or with your friends.  Don’t cut people off when walking or driving.  Hold the door for the person behind you.   Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough

At work:

Behave in a professional way, not yelling or being aggressive with co-workers or customers.   Don’t gossip or start rumors.  Do your job to the best of your ability and in a timely fashion.  Help each other out.

In your neighborhood:

Don’t cut the grass before 9 am or play music loudly after 10 pm.  Cut your grass regularly and avoid having trash sitting out for days at a time.

At all times:

Say please and thank you.  Apologize when you need to.  Be on time to meetings and appointments.  Respond to texts, email and snail mail in a timely fashion.  If you can’t attend an event that you’re formally invited to, RSVP that you can’t come instead of just not responding. And don’t RSVP at the last minute for an event that involves real planning by the host.

I think the bottom line is to “treat others as you would have them treat you”.  We should always treat others with respect, dignity, and kindness, no matter who they are and no matter who else is watching you.  Please respond with your comments.  Thank you!

P.S.  Thanks for reading this far and I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last posted 🙂

 

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Sweet or Sour?

When we lived in Amman, Jordan, my kids sometimes played the game “Heloo aw Haamid?” while we were driving around town.  They learned this game, translated “Sweet or Sour”, from friends at school.  Basically, they would wave to people in other cars to see what reaction they would get.  If the people waved back, they were “Heloo” or sweet; if they didn’t wave back, they were “Haamid” or sour.   The majority of the time, people were “heloo”/sweet/friendly in reply.   This was our experience of people in Jordan over all.  For the most part, they were friendly, generous, and hospitable.

We moved to a neighborhood in Florissant, Missouri last November.  In this neighborhood we are the minority.  Each day when we walk our dog, we wave to cars as they drive by.  For the most part, people wave back to us.  Almost everywhere we go in our area, people are warm and friendly to us.

I have traveled throughout the world and, in my experience, the majority of people are friendly and welcoming.  They may look different than I do.  They may talk differently than I do.  They may believe differently than I do.   They may act differently than I do. However they are all made in the image of God just as I am.   Since I am instructed to love my neighbor as myself, I choose to act lovingly toward them.  Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s always the right thing to do.

In December, I invited my neighbors to my house for a Christmas tea.  It was good to meet them and get to know them better.  The next month, I invited these ladies to start coming to a monthly ladies’ prayer meeting at my house.  Not all of them attend, but our core is two white ladies and two black ladies.  It has been so enjoyable to spend time with these ladies and be in prayer with them.

When I took the train to Chicago to visit my brothers, I sat next to a college student who is from Afghanistan.  We talked about her life and her country.  Since then, we have become Facebook friends and I have taken her out to dinner twice.  It’s been a great opportunity to show her love and kindness and I’ve enjoyed learning about her family and her future plans.  I hope she has been blessed to have an older American friend who is eager to spend time with her and care about her.

Every day we have an opportunity to be “sweet” or “sour” to the people around us.  It’s easy to be sweet to those who are like us; it’s harder to be sweet to those who are different than we are.  It’s hard because it can be scary to step out of our comfort zones and enter into a situation where we aren’t sure what the outcome will be.   I can assure you that God will be with you in every situation and that obeying Him is always the right thing to do.  And there’s a good chance that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.  You may even make a new friend in the process.

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What makes a woman?

Ladies, we need to remind each other to not listen to the world and the devil when they tell us lies about who we are.

You are not less of a woman if you never get married

You are not less of a woman if you never get pregnant

You are not less of a woman if you never have a natural birth

You are not less of a woman if you never breastfeed

You are not less of a woman if you have had a mastectomy or a hysterectomy

I believe that what makes us fully women is living out God’s plan and purpose for our lives.   When God made man, He said, “it is not good for man to be alone”.  God’s very purpose in creation was for us as women to help men to rule over creation.  We are designed for equality and interdependence with man.

It was a woman (Rahab) who kept the spies safe in Jericho

It was a woman (Deborah) who brought the Israelites victory over Sisera because she was braver and wiser than any man at that time

It was women (Moses’ mother, Moses’ sister, Pharaoh’s daughter) who kept Moses safe as a child

It was a woman (Ruth) who, in spite of being a foreigner and a widow, behaved so honorably that she was blessed to be the great grandmother of King David and in the genealogy of Jesus

It was a woman (Mary) who believed the angel about carrying the Messiah

It was women who followed Jesus and took care of His needs and out of their own means helped to support His disciples (Matthew 27:55, Mark 15:41, Luke 8:3)

It was a woman (at the well) who brought the gospel to the Samaritans

It was women who were brave enough to go to Jesus’ tomb to prepare His body for burial, and were privileged to be first to see the resurrected Christ

My Jordanian friend N is a single mom who is putting one of her daughters through medical school and the other through college in another country – she is godly, brave and smart

My Palestinian friend S came to Hope Clinic faithfully every Thursday to share with our patients and pray with them when no one else from the church was willing to do so.  She is faithful, dependable, and compassionate

My Syrian friend N was one of the financially poorest people I know yet one of the spiritually richest people I’ve ever met – her childlike faith and thankful attitude was contagious

My doctor friend L serves as a single lady in my beloved adopted country.   She may not ever marry or have children of her own but she has “adopted” a bunch of little Arab girls and loves them fiercely.

My African American friend B works a full time job, is raising 5 children, and has done foster care over the years.  She shows up to the office ready to love on our little patients and help them to know they are special and cared for.

My California friend W has worked over the years to bring the domestic and sexual abuse issues in her host country to light and has trained local women how to counsel and help those suffering from abuse.  She is courageous, passionate, and kind.

I know many more women who are living out God’s plan and purpose for their lives.  They inspire and encourage me to do the same.  We were never meant to be “cookie cutter” women who all follow one blueprint for womanhood in their lives:  get married, get pregnant, have natural deliveries, breastfeed, and have perfect bodies.  Let’s remind each other of that and cheer on our sisters when we see them living out their unique lives for Him.

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An Especially Great Message

This is not like my usual posts – instead, I decided to send a link to the sermon Rick preached on Sunday about spiritual warfare.  I thought it was especially good and wanted to have more people get to hear it.  Here it is:

http://www.salemefree.org/sermons/spiritual-warfare/

Salem Evangelical Free Church

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Taking Control

Do you ever feel like the world has spun dangerously out of control?  If you listen to or read the news on any given day, you know exactly what I mean.  Bad stuff happens all too often – people are hurt or killed by other people, natural disasters occur with seemingly increasing frequency, tragic accidents happen, illnesses take lives, wars rage on.  In our own families, communities, and workplaces there is frustration, disappointment, uncertainty and pain.

A common response is to become completely overwhelmed by everything, swept away by waves of anxiety – like Chicken Little, declaring “the sky is falling!”.  Personally, I am a first-born and in a healing profession which means I tend to be overly responsible and compassionate, wanting to help however I can.  I feel deeply with those who are suffering.   If I am not aware of how I handle my concerns, I will be consumed by anxiety and be constantly trying to think of ways to fix them.

Stephen Covey in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, defined two kinds of people in the world: proactive and reactive. To help define these terms, he created the concepts of the circle of influence and the circle of concern. The circle of concern encompasses all of one’s worries and daily anxieties about self, family, health, and work, and even extends to larger-scale worries like war, weather, and world problems.

The circle of influence is the area within the circle of concern that contains the worries one can actually have some effect on. Covey defines proactive people as actively focusing on their circle of influence. Instead of dwelling on all problems they cannot change, they shift all of their concentration and energy to areas in which they can make an impact.  On the other hand, reactive people overlook their circles of influence and dwell on all the things in their circle of concern, tending to focus on bigger issues that they cannot change.

Covey encouraged people to become aware of the places they expend their energy, asking “are you focusing on all the things in your circle of concern or on what is in your circle of influence?”

Circle of Concern with a small but focused Circle of Influence

Inside the above two circles, there’s another, smaller circle – the circle of control.  This circle contains things that are directly within your control:  your thoughts, your reactions, and your actions (you’re not alwayentirely in control of those, but most of the time you are).  This circle does not contain things you can’t control – other’s actions, other’s thoughts, and the environment around you. You can influence many of those, but you never control them.   As you further focus on what is in your circle of control, you are able to impact the things in your circle of influence as well and maybe even expand that circle wider.

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Let me give you a real life example of how this understanding can be helpful.  A co-worker of mine came to work a couple of weeks ago saying how she hadn’t slept well and was feeling very anxious about her upcoming knee replacement surgery.  She was stressing about things like what if the surgery didn’t go as planned; what if she didn’t have a good physical therapist; what if she got a post-operative infection; what if she wasn’t ready to come back when her time off was finished, etc.   I shared the circles concept with her and told her those things weren’t really in her control.  What was in her control was how much effort she put into doing her PT exercises and how closely she followed her doctor’s advice.  The rest of it she needed to let go of and offer it up to God in prayer.  I texted her the day of surgery to see how she was feeling and this was her response “I’m a little nervous but the ‘circles of control’ you showed me really do help.”

Some other ideas:

Instead of worrying about how much or how little your college student is studying, pray that they would have good study habits and trust that you trained them well while they were under your roof

Instead of worrying about your friends’ or relatives’ health habits and/or exercise levels, strive yourself to do well in those departments and be a non-vocal role model to them

Instead of fretting about all the babies killed by abortion each year, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center

Instead of worrying about climate change, look for ways in your home or workplace to be “greener” like recycling; using less electricity or water; composting instead of throwing certain things in the trash

Instead of worrying about nation-wide homelessness and poverty, volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter; go through all your clothes and household goods and donate them to a local thrift store or clothing closet;  give or sponsor nutrition, gardening and/or cooking workshops to those in need in your community

I am thankful that God’s circle of control encompasses everything in the universe and spiritual realm and that I am able to cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me (see 1 Peter 5:7).  I am thankful that as much as He cares about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, He cares so much more for me and I don’t need to worry (see Matthew 6:25-34).  I can work on the things in my circle of control and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and everything else will come together.

 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].  Philippians 4:6-7, Amplified

Please share with me your insights and experiences with this.

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Communicating with Adult Children

We will always be parents to our children no matter how old they are.  The what-where-when- and how of communication with our children, however, is ever-changing.  We as parents have an opportunity to model and teach how a healthy relationship works.  We need to analyze our communication regularly and ask ourselves: Is my relationship with my child as good as it can be (given any major differences we may have) and if not, what can I do to make it better?  We cannot change our children but we can make adjustments ourselves to better the relationship.

Here are some thoughts on where to start with your young adult children:

  1.  Be respectful of their boundaries.  It is normal and healthy for them to have a separate identity, make their own decisions, and navigate the adult world on their own. Be available when needed but also communicate that you believe that they are able to manage things on their own.
  2. Discuss with them how much contact you’ll have, and if you have different expectations, work on a compromise that is acceptable to both of you.  Ask them what their preferred mode of communication is, and then use that mode most of the time.  You may prefer emailing or leaving voicemails, but if they don’t, then you are not likely going to hear back from them.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you or are being rude or disrespectful; it is because they are bombarded with hundreds of “messages” daily from Facebook statuses, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, texting, e-mail and face-to-face interactions.  There is only so much a brain can take before it is overloaded.   Remember that each child is different – what works for one may not work for the other – treat them as unique individuals and don’t compare them.
  3. Be selective in how and what you communicate.  If you send a lot of texts or e-mails, especially with advice, no matter how well-intentioned you are, they will start to tune you out or even push you away.  They will be much more likely to heed your advice if they ask you for it first.  If you encourage them to come to you for everything, you are actually discouraging them from figuring things out for themselves.  They need to learn to problem-solve on their own instead of continuing to be dependent on you.
  4. Remind them often that you love them dearly and are their biggest fan.  If you haven’t heard from them in over a week, it’s ok to reach out and say something like, “hey, I was just thinking about you and praying for you.  Let me know when you might be free to call and catch up”.  When they do call, do more listening than talking.  Ask them a few questions about their lives, committing details to memory to ask them about the next time you talk, but don’t ask too many questions and don’t probe too deeply (unless you are concerned for their safety – probing can be necessary in some unique cases).
  5. Praise them for their accomplishments and good choices.  Reserve negative and critical comments for only when they are doing things that might harm themselves or others.  Don’t take on their failures as your own.  Expect that they will probably not make decisions just like you would have, and that’s OK.
  6. Be very careful about how you interact with them in regard to finances.   Your adult children need to figure out their finances on their own once they are financially independent of you (hopefully you worked on financial planning together when they were still under your roof).  If you hear them complaining about not being able join their friends on a trip and then give them the cash to join them, they won’t learn how to budget and save for a goal. It’s the same thing if they amass a huge credit card debt that you rush in to pay off.  If your child is truly facing a monetary crisis, first let him/her come to you for assistance.  Then, if you’d like to help them out, come up with a financial plan together.  Once they do show themselves to be financially stable, it is ok to occasionally pay for things – perhaps a plane ticket for them to visit you, a meal out together, or a gift card to their favorite store.

Every kid is different so none of these suggestions are hard and fast rules; it all depends on the individual child’s personality and on the previous dynamic of the relationship.  Also keep in mind that your child is also learning to navigate your changing relationship; honest, open communication about the ways you both are learning to navigate the relationship will go a long way.  It will take some hard work and will be painful at times, but a good relationship with your kids is so worth the effort.

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#Adulting

The American Dialect Society nominated the word adulting as 2015’s most creative construction.   Adulting has been defined as acting in a responsible, grown-up fashion and is often used in social media posts when talking about doing adult tasks.

This jokey way of describing one’s engagement in adult behaviors – whether that is doing your own taxes, buying your first lawn mower, staying in on a Friday, being someone’s boss or getting super pumped about home appliances—can help millennials acknowledge and/or make fun of and/or come to grips with that transition (or how late they are to it). Katie Steinmetz, Time Magazine

Aging – physical maturity – is inevitable.  It is a natural process that happens to all of us.  There are things that we can do to speed up or slow down the process, but ultimately we all continue maturing physically with no effort or thought.  Emotional maturity is another matter altogether.  It does not just happen naturally.  It requires deliberateness, practice and intentionality.

We all recognize the signs of physical maturity like gray hair, wrinkles, and age spots.  Signs of emotional maturity are less obvious.  Yet these are often signs people look for when hiring employees or when choosing friends or spouses .  Some examples include:

Finishing tasks and following through on commitments.

Having a humble attitude, not having to draw attention to oneself.

Making decisions based on character and values instead of feelings.

Being grateful, generous, and content (the opposite of “first world problem” complaints).

Thinking of other people’s needs and desires along with one’s own.

Having the attitude of a learner, one who seeks wisdom and does not always have to be right.

Regulating emotions well and remaining calm instead of “getting their knickers in a twist”.

Setting healthy boundaries in relationships.

Not getting stuck living in the past either with regrets or nostalgia.

Avoiding obsessing about the future or being worried about all the “what ifs” that might happen – planning for the future but enjoying today.

Apologizing when needed without defensiveness and forgiving others when needed.

Being flexible when things don’t go one’s way and plans need to be adjusted.

Not having to control everything.

Accepting responsibility when something goes wrong as a result of one’s action or decision instead of blaming others and/or making excuses.

Maturity is born of responsibility. You cannot be mentally or emotionally healthy if you are irresponsible. People with maturity understand a great truth; they understand that life is difficult. In being able to accept this fact about life, mature people learn to handle life in all of its difficulties, not expecting it to be different. They have learned to accept that not everything in life is going to be their way, show up in the way they thought it would and nor will the world change on its axis to make them happier. Mature people know for any change to happen it has to come from within themselves…when the choice is made to fully develop and live the attitudes and principles of a matured person…maturity is a choice for everyone. The more you value who you are and what you have to offer, the more responsible you will be in taking care of yourself, your finances, your time, and your personal life. You can choose to live as a mature person. You can choose to live consciously with established principles and attitudes.   Sherrie Campbell, psychologist

By the way, I am still working on a lot of these myself – I imagine you all can find at least a couple that you could do better with.  One way to know which ones those are is to read the list again and see which ones make you uncomfortable.  I suggest focusing on those, being mindful of and intentional about practicing those until they become habit.

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.   Romans 12

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The Mundane and the Mountain Top

If you watch any of the medical shows on TV like Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs, you might think every moment of a intern or resident’s life is full of drama and excitement.  It would seem that rare cases and major traumas are the norm.  I personally lived through four years of internship and residency so I have the insider’s scoop as to what it’s really like.  Watching these shows can be very annoying for me since I know that in reality much of 60-80+ hour week is spent on ordinary and routine cases.

I remember in detail some of the rare and traumatic cases I saw during my residency: the man who came in by ambulance in the middle of the night (of course!) with the claw of a hammer sticking out of his skull after being attacked – I was called to run the code until the neurosurgeons decided they couldn’t fix him (too much brain matter hanging out); the teenager shot in the abdomen – a nurse found bags of cocaine hidden in his socks – drug deal gone wrong; the ER nurse who had an accident while slaughtering rabbits and came in with the top half of his knuckles cut clean off, his tendons, ligaments and bones exposed;  the 600 lb woman admitted for complications of obesity who had hidden a box of chocolates under her breast so she’d have access her favorite treats; the infant admitted with a rare condition (Werdnig-Hoffman disease) who we had to allow to die in front of us because there was no hope for him recovering; the infant who was not strapped into her car seat who miraculously survived a significant skull fracture after being thrown 100 feet and landing in a ditch.

I don’t recall the details of the numerous mundane cases that I had to handle routinely.  Pneumonia, dehydration, DVT, chest pain, kidney stones, complications of diabetes and hypertension, and similar cases were our “bread and better”.  We had to take care of these patients even if they weren’t “exciting cases”.  Learning to take care of these patients day in and day out and doing it thoroughly and responsibly allowed us to occasionally have the “mountain top experience” of a rare and interesting patient.

I have seen a parallel to this pattern in my spiritual journey.  In order for me to experience occasional “mountain top experiences” where I feel so close to God and am filled with joy and hope, I must persevere in the “mundane”.   Spending time every morning praying and reading God’s Word is a discipline that I choose to do; it’s like reading a letter and then calling the Lover of my soul to tell Him my concerns and to receive His comfort and direction.  I don’t always get “the feels” from doing this, but I do occasionally.  Going to a worship service each week and being part of a small group can feel “mundane” but sometimes there will be occasions of deep connection where I feel very loved and secure.  Finding ways to minister to “my neighbor” whoever that neighbor may be is not always fun or enjoyable but occasionally the encounter leaves me more encouraged and helped than the one I am helping.

We are all called to live out our faith in the ordinary, everyday, mundane. Few of us will encounter God in a burning bush, but we can all encounter him in the kindness of a friend. Not many of us will be invited to walk across a lake, but we can all cross the road to speak to someone. Few of us will have our packed lunch shared by a crowd, but all of us can be grateful to God for the food we have and share what we have with others. Few of us will see Jesus transfigured on top of a mountain, but all of us can see him in the faces of the people next to us on the bus. It seems to me that so-called “reality TV” is based on ordinary people trying to be extraordinary. They may do extravagant or outrageous things to get the attention of the cameras. They may do things they would not normally do in order to be broadcast.

But we are called to be faithful followers of Jesus in the ordinary. We are not called to be outrageous or extravagant except with God’s love, grace and forgiveness. And I think the same is true for churches. From time to time (and don’t ask me why), God does something extraordinary in a church. And Christians flock to that place so that they might get some of that for themselves, so that their churches might be supercharged and spectacular. But I have a nagging feeling that this response causes God to do a divine face-plant: “Don’t they realize that I work through the ordinary, faithful, loving, mundane as much as (or perhaps more than) through the spectacular?” Live out your life as a follower of Jesus in your normal life and find him in the ordinary, the everyday, the mundane, the boring. He’s there just as much as in the amazing. You are God’s child where you are, and he loves you.  Nick Lear  (pastor of Colchester Baptist Church in Essex, UK)

Whether it’s in your workplace, your home (with a spouse or with children), your friendships, or your spiritual life, you must put in time doing ordinary/mundane/unexciting things in order to have spectacular/mountain-top experiences.   So I encourage you to press on in the mundane – the mountain top experiences will occur along the way and it will be worth the perseverance and the effort.

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].  1 Corinthians 15:58 Amplified 

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1994 (I’m sure I was as tired as I look) 

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Is There a Doctor in the House?

It has been 2 months since I worked as a doctor seeing patients.  I have a job offer but am waiting for the credentialing to come through before I can start working.  I have been keeping busy with the holidays, hosting family members, learning my way around my new city, and getting to know people at our new church and neighborhood, but I am anxious to get back to taking care of patients.  It is not only a job for me, it is also a calling and a ministry; I have found that living in limbo in between jobs is a struggle for me.

angie littleI wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember.   My parents bought me a model of the human skeleton when I was five and I took it to kindergarten for show and tell time.  I learned the names of a couple dozen of the bones and recited them from time to time so that I’d have a head start in anatomy class.  I learned how to dissect a frog at the age of 8; occasionally I would catch toads in our back yard, anesthetize them, and cut them open to watch their hearts beat.

 

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In high school I chose zoology class over choir and advanced science classes over study halls, hoping to make my transcript more impressive.

 

 

 

In college, I endured organic chemistry, physics and the MCAT as part of a pre-med curriculum.  I went on a medical missions trip to Mexico for 2 weeks one summer and volunteered to assist in surgery.   I worried I couldn’t make it through medical school angie 88when I almost passed out in an orthopedic surgery watching a hammer and chisel being used on a patient’s hip. I was grateful to learn most surgery is not so “violent”.  I observed 20 lb ovarian tumors being removed, and completely prolapsed uteri taken out from women with a dozen or more children.

 

I remember “meeting” my cadaver for the first time in my anatomy lab during my first year of medical school.  She was thin which made dissection much easier; she was elderly so her body showed a lot of wear and tear from life. The smell of formaldehyde clung to my skin, clothes and hair, making anatomy class a 24/7 experience.  I was thankful for her sacrifice that allowed me to learn more about the human body but relieved when that class was behind me.  Rick (who at that time was my fiancee) helped me remember muscles and their insertion sites by making up silly songs to help me remember their complicated names.

My human sexuality class was a joke; it was the only class I occasionally walked out on.  Somehow the professor thought that showing us pornographic films from the 1960s would help us understand sexuality better.  His opinion that intercourse was purely a physical act left us with many unaddressed thoughts of the mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of it.

Rick and I got married after my first year of medical school.  You can imagine how challenging planning a wedding was during that year.  Thankfully my mom did much of the work and it turned out beautifully.   I had two months of summer vacation which was wonderful timing with being newlyweds, and then my second year of medical school started.  The curriculum was very challenging, requiring a ton of reading and studying.  I also had a research assistant-ship which paid for my tuition and gave me a $300 a month stipend, but took an additional ten hours of week.  Rick started his first of 3 years of seminary and worked part time doing accounting work.  Our first apartment’s rent was $300 a month and my grocery budget was $25 a week – somehow we made it work.

In spite of our efforts to avoid it, I got pregnant in the middle of my third year.  I thought the timing would be better if I had a baby in between medical school and residency but God had other ideas.  I still have vivid memories of my internal medicine preceptor Dr. Welford pointing out the closest restroom when we were on hospital rounds and my morning sickness got the best of me. Thankfully when I started my surgery rotation, I was past morning sickness but not yet big enough to have my pregnant belly affect my ability to hold retractors during surgeries.

We had already planned on doing a 2 month externship in a remote part of Taiwan that summer, me at a mission hospital and Rick with a church planter.  We determined that my pregnancy wasn’t going to stop us from going, so Bethany was partially “made in Taiwan”.  My most memorable patients there were a premature newborn with severe jaundice and respiratory distress who died while I was on call (in America this baby would likely have lived) ; and a post-surgical patient with a wound infection that the surgeon applied honey to so that ants would come and lick the wound clean (it actually worked!).  It was brutally hot and humid and the hospital didn’t have air conditioning.  Flying cockroaches landing on our bed regularly woke us up – I couldn’t wait to get home.  I had to provide a letter from a doctor on the return plane trip saying it was ok for me to travel since I was pretty far along in my pregnancy.

I had to take newborn Bethany on my residency interviews during my fourth year.  Not many people can say their first plane trip was when they were 2 weeks old (she’s been an amazing traveler ever since)!  When she was 5 weeks old, I had to get back to my regularly scheduled rotations.  Rick managed to have his classes scheduled only on Mondays and Wednesdays, so we only needed help with childcare 2 days a week.  My mom came on Sunday nights from an hour away to watch Bethany on Mondays – she still remembers those times with her first grandchild very fondly.  A substitute teacher we knew from our Sunday School class, who was pregnant with her first child, came to watch Bethany every Wednesday – it helped her learn how to take care of an infant, and we had free childcare, a win-win situation.

My favorite thing during my third and fourth years of medical school was to go to the outpatient community health center where I got to see my own patients.  I got to follow 2 ladies through their whole pregnancies, help deliver their babies, and then see their babies for their first few months of well baby check-ups.  These experiences confirmed that I was called to do primary care, which is what I have been doing since I graduated in 1992.  I am itching to get back to it, though I will be limiting my practice to pediatrics now.

angie bethanty 92

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Starting the New Year with a Finish-Line Focus

My brother Tony recently started a new job – I am very excited about what he is doing and wanted to share something he wrote with y’all:

Beginning with the End in Mind:  Starting the New Year with a Finish-Line Focus

The New Year is a time for new beginnings and a chance to assess our goals and daily habits.  In that vein, habit #2 of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is “Begin with the End in Mind”. Nearly two millennia earlier, the Apostle Paul conveyed “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (1 Cor. 9:24)”.  No matter who says it, or how it’s phrased, the point is clear:  In personal or professional life, without a clear vision of what your finish line is, you’ll never get there.

 My name is Tony Halaby, and I was blessed to support my sister Angie Schupp and her family’s 15 years of ministry in Jordan. I prayed and gave financially to their work, not only because they were family, but because they were pursuing a clear and crucial endgame:  sharing God’s love in a region desperately needing to experience it. This example influenced my recent decision to join another great ministry whose mission is central to the very foundation of Christian ministry.  The Seed Company, founded in 1993 by Wycliffe Bible Translators, is committed to eradicating “Bible Poverty.” But what is Bible poverty, and why is it such a big deal?

In America, we take for granted having God’s Word in multiple versions in our own language, and most of us have multiple copies, hard and soft.  Not so for many nations. Of the world’s roughly 7,000 languages, 1,600+ don’t have a single Bible verse.  This means there are more people in the world without Scripture in their native language than people without food or water.  Just think of the verses that have brought you the most hope in times of need.  Now imagine life without that hope.  Jesus set a clear endgame when he called us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19a).” And though the Apostle Paul assures us “Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved, (Rom 10:13)”, he also challenges us: “How can they call on the one in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard (Rom 10:14)?”  What are we who follow Christ doing to help all nations discover His gift of salvation and life-changing power by ensuring access to God’s Word?

Our endgame at The Seed Company is to work with local partners to identify Scripture needs, and complete Bible translation for all nations. For the first time in history, we have the technology and tools to get there in our lifetime. I’m humbled at how God used my past experiences in languages and overseas ministry to prepare me for this great opportunity.  And though there are other great causes providing food, water and cures people need today, let’s not forget the eternal well of living water that will never fade, for as Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35).”  For a short preview of our amazing work, please click on the following link: https://tsco.wistia.com/medias/jxoivhvtb5

So the finish-line is in sight.  If you’ve experienced God’s love and the transforming power of His Word, join me this new year in helping Bible-less people become Bible-blessed people. Please contact me via my mobile or email below to discuss how you can make a difference in the transformation of the nations for this life, and life eternal as they receive God’s Word in their own language for the first time.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb- Revelation 7:9a

Tony Halaby

tony_halaby@tsco.org

773-885-5088

ParananNew Testament dedication

Paranan_2013_q3_Little girls holding New Testaments-1 Paranan New Testament dedication Scripture use.

Tony Halaby

tony_halaby@tsco.org

773-885-5088

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