Brief Status Update

Dissertation Proposal: Complete draft submitted to chair. Awaiting revisions [read: severe emotional breakdown following the return of my draft, which my chair will no doubt make bleed with her many comments...all in the interest of honing my proposal to a sharp point, of course.] Data collection underway via Hope clinical trial. Presentation proposal pending for CAPS National conference in April (Orlando, FL!) thanks to dissertation chair.

Internship Applications: Mail merge completed, pending confirmation of certain information from a small handful of sites. APPIC general application completed. To do: Finish essays, write cover letters, obtain graduate transcripts (and a few undergrad ones....who even cares about undergrad anymore?), finalize APPIC application, add final updates to Curriculum Vita, obtain advisor signature on Eligibility & Readiness form, solicit reference letter from Director of Clinical Training, create an application packet for each of 17 sites. Check and re-check application packets twelve times. Send first batch by October 20.

Classes: Consultation proposal due Thursday; almost complete, will meet with co-consultant tomorrow to finalize proposal and contract. Supervision of second-year student underway. Will write papers for each class someday when application task list has been completed.

Stress: 95% and holding steady
Caffeine: 2 cups o'coffee today
Hope: There's a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep swimming. I think I can, I think I can. [insert inspirational cliche here]

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

Baby Bug 2

Those who have been with me since the inception of the blog will remember the original Baby Bug post. I believe the incubation period (no pun intended) of this illness has passed and it is now in its fullness, making my life a rather unbalanced place at times.

Today I was moping around the house WILLING my body to find energy somewhere, anywhere, for the work that needed to be accomplished. As the walls closed in around me and my brain refused to engage in any dissertation or internship-related activity, I opted for some erranding. Surely it would be good to get out, breathe some fresh (95% humidity) air, accomplish a few necessities. Oh, I need to purchase a gift for a friend's baby shower tomorrow...

So I set out for Babies 'R Us down in Greenbrier. In my condition.

Emotional suicide, or what?

By the time I had finished my shopping (for two items), I could completely envision the nursery in our home in the event of either a boy or a girl, and imagined my beautiful infants (yes, plural) wiggling around in their Sleep Sacks atop Carter's deluxe waterproof crib pads, perhaps with the First Years Air Flow Sleep Positioner to help them stay in place.

I was a big emotional puddle. Not pretty.

I was in such a state leaving Babies 'R Us that I immediately called my husband at work, demanding to understand why he knowingly allowed me to walk into Babies 'R Us when I was ALREADY having a bad day. The conversation culminated in me wailing that I will be the last mommy EVER on the WHOLE PLANET, because everyone else will have a baby by the time we FINALLY start a family.

Joel, you are a strong, patient man to put up with me.

When my husband had sufficiently assured me that we would, in fact, have children one day, and that before I turn 40, I took a deep breath and wished him a lovely last hour of work. I am nothing if not sanguine and resilient.

Although I confess that I debated purchasing a pregnancy test on my way home because, hello, who gets that emotional over a trip to Babies 'R Us without some serious hormonal interference?

And then I remembered that the book we are reading for my ladies' Bible study is called "Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment." Rare jewel indeed.

Oh Lord, quiet my spirit and GIVE ME A BABY. In Your perfect timing, of course. Amen.

**this is hilarious and tragic (and true):
Joel: I just got an email about a possible Christmas present for you.
Me: really really??? is it a baby?
Joel: yeah, it was an email from the stork king

Of Mice and Men

"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." ~Proverbs 16:9

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28

There was a time, about a month and a half ago, when I was really uncertain about my resignation as music director for our church. I prayed about it, I sought much wise counsel, and I turned my reasons over and over in my heart. In the end, I felt that the Lord was affirming my decision to step down, and so I did. But there was always this nagging feeling of letting the church down, of failing to use my gifts to God's glory, and a variety of other guilt responses. Basically, I felt like I was being dishonest because, technically, there were still enough hours in my day for me to fulfill the responsibilities of music director.

The stress level was another story.

But I was so torn because if I possess the ability and have the time, then what should stop me from working in ministry? I love the Lord, and my great passion for the church flows from my passion for her Master. How could I let them both down by bailing out on the music ministry?

God began to speak to me about calling, about gifts, and about spreading myself too thin. Didn't He call me to a doctoral program in clinical psychology? Didn't He bless me with the exact combination of gifts, strengths and weaknesses that I possess? Why am I questioning the wisdom of others who know me and believe I would be right to lessen my workload?

Standing now on the other end of my first month as a church nobody (I kid), I realize that it has been a most gracious gift from the Lord - a time of spiritual rest and refreshment on the Lord's Day rather than a time of stress and work. There is certainly a place for ministry work, and there is no doubt that I will one day exercise my musical gifts in a church again, but for is good to just be in the presence of the Lord and to breathe deeply of His goodness.

Of course I miss playing, and I hope that Miss Kelsey will let me sit at the piano one of these days. And of course the transition has had its ups and downs. Some weeks I am so distracted, and others it's as though God nails me right between the eyes with His grace and His Word. But overall, I am learning to be content and to be thankful that the Lord knows what He's doing. He has affirmed my need for this break from ministry, such that I can't imagine myself continuing to try to manage the church's music right now. The Lord knows that we need rest, and regardless of what my heart's motivation was when I resigned, He knew that I needed to step down at that time. Thank God that He knows all my anxious thoughts and works for my (ultimate) good in spite of them! This time the good really felt like good...that's not always the case, but may I always rejoice in my portion from the Lord.

Caffeine Headache, Part 1

So titled because I'm fairly certain there will be more episodes to this saga.

My love affair with hazelnut coffee? It's backfiring. Because I refuse to act like I am caffeine-dependent or something. But apparently taking a morning off from a bright-and-early cuppa joe is bad news for my neurotransmitters - ouch!

You'll be happy to know that I am NOT giving in. It is much better to ravage my body with a roller-coaster of caffeine than to actually be ADDICTED or something. Although withdrawal effects = diagnostic criterion for substance dependence, soooo...too late?

At least you don't see me on the street corners, hawking ten-page papers to graduate students for a quick fix.

All in all, I am in a very good place, just to update all three of you who rely on the blog to inform you of my well-being. Slightly crazed and unable to stop working, perhaps, but overall this is a good thing. As many of our professors have assured us, there is no such thing as a successful doctoral student who is not just a tad OCD. The correlation between OCD symptoms and graduate school success is probably inverted-u-shaped, though, because at some point it must become debilitating. Although I certainly haven't found that point...yet. No diminishing returns here.

And now, you must excuse me whilst I carry on with my self-abuse.

Dissertation Fatigue

This should be an actual psychological diagnosis. I have been cranking out dissertation for two days straight, breaking only to sleep and eat (a record for diligence and productivity). 32 pages and counting!

It's been great for my stress level to ratchet up the velocity on my dissertation proposal, but my brain. is. tired.

And my sentences keep getting shorter and shorter.

I'm seriously tempted to end my dissertation with, "In conclusion, I write good. The end. Love, Elizabeth."

Scholarly stuff.

Back to the grind...see you in November!

Also - let me know if you have a hankering for some light reading. Perhaps you'd like to proofred a little blurb I like to call "Efficacy Expectations as a Mediating Variable in Marital Conflict Resolution".

Happy Monday!

You'll be thrilled to learn that my nose feels much better this morning. Joel's head is a bit swollen and painful this morning, unfortunately. That just goes to show you that if you are about to get stung, you should quickly thrust a cartilaginous body part forward (such as a nose or upper ear) in lieu of something more fleshy or meaty (like, you know, your head).

You'll also be inspired to cartwheels to learn that I am, in fact, DISSERTATING this morning! And by dissertating I mean that I am about to start working on it, having already exhausted what time I feel is excusable on Facebook, evite, and blogspot. Oh wait, I haven't read my husband's blog!

I am well on my way to a stress-free week with all this proactivity!


*author's note: I just discovered, to my great chagrin, that we are out of Half and Half! Lest this tragedy come between me and my precious Hazelnut, I hereby decree that none shall cross the threshold of my home except that they bear upon their person a pint of this precious nectar.

Gigantic Nose-ache

You read that right. Have you ever had a nose-ache before? Here's the story:

So Joel and I were over at our friends' house playing Cornhole. This is an addictive variation of beanbag toss, and Ryan made his own boards and beanbags, so we enjoyed several hours playing with him and his wife, Jess. A lovely time was had by all, until...

Joel was sitting in a chair, awaiting his turn and generally minding his own business, when all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever (which is generally what is meant by "all of a sudden"), he was reacting to some apparent pain. Astonished, we all asked him what had happened. He claimed that something bit him in the back of the head, just behind his left ear. We looked and could just make out a tiny pinprick, and soon the area was red. It was as though he had been dive-bombed by a hit-and-run stinger! Weird.

So we made sure he was alright and moved on with our game, assuming it had been just a weird, freakish anomaly.

A short time later, we had finished the game and let their frisky puppies out to run in the backyard. I was perched on a chair next to Joel, who was sitting in the same chair where the dive-bombing had happened earlier.

I can't even tell you how it happened.

Those watching said everything was normal and then all of a sudden, they heard a noise like a yap or yelp, and I was holding my nose.

All I know is that there was lots of black flapping chaos in front of my face and a sharp PAIN.

It reminded me a lot of a nightmare I had as a child of a huge butterfly landing on my nose and biting it. Only this time I didn't wake up screaming.

But just as soon as it (whatever it was) had stung me, it was gone! Another hit-and-run stinging.

I spent the rest of the evening with an ice pack on my nose, and I think it helped because you can't really see anything. But I have an enormous nose-ache that is radiating through the rest of my head, as though that rabid insect's venom is seeping through my brain.

And that is the story of two Pearce dive-bombings in one day. If I weren't so psychologically well-adjusted I would start to wonder if some queen bee somewhere has it in for us.

Only two months later...

...and I've just gotten my official comprehensive exam results!

The Lord is so gracious. My letter began with "We are pleased to inform you". 'Nuff said.

But in case you have never received an official decision letter, that means HEY GIRL, YOU PASSED! You can stop thinking about comps FOREVER and move on to more important things, like proposing your dissertation so that you can change your email signature to "Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology."

It's the little things.

Thanks for your prayers :-).

On My Welsh Heritage

For much of my life, I've had this sort of undercurrent of curiosity about my cultural roots. I think we all have a desire to locate ourselves within a broader context, a longing to really understand our identity as part of a larger whole. At least, this has been the case for me. I've wondered about who I am and how I've become myself, as it were.

Recently, several of these pieces have fallen into place. And by recently, I mean tonight as I researched Welsh culture on Wikipedia. What prompted me to do this? I'm so glad you asked...

My grandmother, Betty Maclay, is no less than a remarkable woman. She is strong and faithful, one I am proud to call matriarch of my family. The Maclays are not, by nature, people who boast or even speak too freely of themselves, and so it is only in my recent adult years that I've learned enough of my Mama, as we call her, to understand the humble greatness that she carries with her.

So this post might be more about my Maclay and Boucher heritage, but Mama takes great pride in her Welsh roots so I consider it to be one and the same.

Let me try to piece this together for you the way it's come together for me. Perhaps the easiest way to start is to describe some salient traits of myself, and then talk about how these have emerged as significant trends in the noble ladies of my family. Of course, there have been great men as well, particularly my Papa who has gone to be with the Lord. But the strongest pull on my heart is what connects me with the Maclay women.

It's been obvious from an early age that I'm a strong-willed one. Just ask my mother. Also wild at heart, feisty if you will, and yet tender, romantic. I've always had a special fondness for Celtic lands and culture and wished that I could identify with them...I could just see myself standing on a moor in Britain, hair flying in the wind, intensely alive and fiercely strong. A bit dramatic, perhaps, but you see what I mean about the wildness and romanticism.

Somehow, I never put it together that Wales = Celtic. As I read a bit on Wikipedia, I learned about the early Briton/Saxon history of Wales, and the strong Celtic roots that are evident in Welsh culture. It all fits! My love for Celtic Woman makes sense! You laugh (Becca!), but this is joyful news for me. It's like finding the place where your edges fit perfectly, when all along you thought perhaps you were just awkwardly shaped.

But Wikipedia has nothing on my Mama's memoirs. She has recently been occupied with the task of recording significant memories, and I was fortunate to be forwarded a copy by my mother, who was typing them up for her. Never have I identified more strongly with a woman who came before me! These memoirs served as impetus for a fabulous conversation between my mother and me on the ways in which many traits seemed to pass down identically from Mama to her, and now to me. Allow me to explain...

The Maclay women are, above all, strong. When I say strong, I mean that strength that is dark and bright at the same time, fierceness and tenderness together. We take care of business, but I believe we pour our souls into it. We aren't an emotional bunch, per se, but our loyalties and love are evident in our service to those around us. Mama cared for the physical needs of everyone in her family, and watched each of her parents and four sisters pass into the Lord's presence. I believe that her Creator blessed her with a special strength for this, and that this quality is a mighty river that flows through her offspring. Both my mother and I commented to one another that we have always thought of ourselves as "the strong one"...and I think this was the first time we had shared this with each other. This is no coincidence to me.

The Maclay women are sentimental in our own way. Another theme in my conversation with my mother is that we believe ourselves to be unemotional. However, I don't think this is the case. Our emotions are often converted (sublimated, to use psychobabble) into acts of service...I've noticed this in both my mother and me, and it would not surprise me to learn that Mama is the same. I show my love in my provision, my labor for others, my desire to care for details, my presence, my offering of myself as a rock on which to lean. I can buckle down and care for practical matters when all around me are broken...the strong one. Yet my emotions for those closest to me are fiercely strong, and the first chords of certain songs can set me to tears because they tug at the ties that bind me to my family. "How Great Thou Art" is one, "I Hope You Dance" is another. Don't mess with my loyalty, don't cross my love.

The Maclay women are smart. We are an educated bunch, and we don't hesitate to seek answers and solve problems. I think this goes with the strength aspect of our traits - our minds are sharp and deftly wielded.

The Maclay women are faithful. A stronger legacy of faith I doubt you could has been said of the Welsh that the first thing they would build upon arrival in America was a church (the French, a tradingpost; the German, a beer hall; the Welsh, a church). I am amazed at the conviction that has been passed through my mother's family. My name means "consecrated one", or "devoted to the Lord", and I believe this situates me firmly in this covenant heritage. In the midst of my Papa's illness and passing to glory, I witnessed such faith as I never thought possible. This is truly the source of their great strength. I felt so much admiration for these Maclays and such honor to be one of them - and immense gratitude to the Lord for this family.

Papa's death was very painful for me, but it also served as a hallmark in my identity formation as I came together for the first time as an adult with all the Maclays. My journey to Pennsylvania with Beth, hours spent alongside my mother and her sisters, my first true insights into the woman who is Betty Maclay, all came together in a powerful way to show me who I am. I had always thought of myself as a "Northern European mutt" with a mixed bag of cultural identities, but then I saw myself for the first time as part of a distinct line, particularly of women.

I am so proud to be a Maclay, even if that was two names and a generation ago for me. I consider myself to be a bearer of the name even though it was never on my official papers. I am also proud to be Welsh; even if the bloodline has been diluted through the generations, it is no less who I am.

I could write volumes more about this family, especially expanding to include the men like my Papa and his sons. I could fill books with my Steele legacy as well. But for now I am content to relish the continuity that connects mother with daughter throughout the generations. Like so many ladies of the moor holding strong against the squalling gale. For a moment I am not a wanderer; I am home.

On the Welsh
The Boucher Crest
Welsh National Anthem

And My Kidneys Are Sure Getting a Workout

Don't tell my husband, but there is a new love in my life.

It's called Dunkin' Donuts Hazelnut Coffee.

We are having an affair, and we are very happy together. Particularly when there is Half-n-Half in the refrigerator.

It's really not my fault. Joel invited this little devil into our home, and now it will never, ever be allowed to go away. At least not until well after this semester is over.

I have had two cups today alone, and that's saying something for a woman who couldn't stand the taste of coffee until graduate school, and even then had to dilute it to something you could pour over your pancakes. I am trying to wean off the cream and sugar, with limited success.

Hey, I like my coffee like I like my men: blond and sweet. (read: Joel, if I flatter you will you please forgive me for taking up with a delicious beverage when I should be devoted to the husband of my youth?)

This is making me thirsty...I think I'll brew another cup...just as soon as I make another bathroom run. My kidneys have never been so....efficient.

Keepin' It Real

So I have a whole list of bloggable topics just waiting for me to weave together all my dazzlingly brilliant insights for your viewing pleasure.

But I've gotta be honest...I'm plumb tired.

There is so much that's gotta happen between now and Nov 1-ish that it's exhausting just thinking about it. It's enough to give a girl panic attacks.

This doctoral program is my Goliath, like, fo' realz.

Fortunately, my God is so much bigger than my circumstance that I have no choice but to triumph through His strength and for His glory. Regardless of what happens - whether I accomplish everything with weeks to spare or whether things come down to the wire - God will see Himself magnified in my life, and I will submit to His will.

Thank God for His goodness. It is comforting!

Would you pray for God to make me sharply aware of His presence in the coming months, and for Him to discipline my spirit and to tutor me in His grace. Also that He would quiet my heart and prevent my stress from taking its toll physically, as it is wont to do.


Also - it is very difficult to be socially appropriate and a normal member of a Bible study when one is a clinical psychologist in training. Hopefully that becomes significantly easier to regulate. I realized tonight that I'm used to being around other psychologists and we tend to say a lot of things that only we would appreciate or understand. Other people might think that we're...idiosyncratic? Ok, weird. Nerdy. But psychology is so applicable, to like, everything.

Sigh again.

The Renewed Mind

The renewed mind is the key to the power that we need. The world is gonna see that it's Christ in me!

But don't take my word for it. Add a keyboard and a few snazzy moves and you get this shiny gem of truth:

*video no longer available due to copyright issues, apparently. New Way International wanted to protect this impressive work of art. Joel and I might be able to re-create this for you ourselves, if bribed with the right combination of persuasive techniques.

Don't give up before the 1:50 mark, when dude takes the moves up a notch. You don't want to miss it!

Lest I seem ungrateful, many thanks to Adam Tisdale for bringing us this tasty morsel today!


This week's quotable was actually printed in our bulletin this morning. Our pastors have been preaching through the Ten Commandments and teaching about the heart issues that underlie them. It amazes me how closely the commandments are all interwoven, mainly reflecting issues of idolatry but also incorporating themes of thievery and adultery. Paul Tripp says it beautifully in this quote from Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands:

"At its core, sin is moral thievery. It steals the worship that rightly belongs to God and gives it to someone or something else. It robs the Trinity to purchase the creation. Every sinner is in some way a worship thief.

At its center, sin is also spiritual adultery. It takes the love that belongs to God alone and gives it to someone or something else. It is a life shaped by the satisfaction of cravings, rather than by heartfelt commitment and faithfulness. Every sinner is in some way a spiritual adulterer.

The deepest issues of life are issues of worship. Worship is more fundamental to our essential nature than the pain, pressures, or pleasures of our experiences. What we worship determines our responses to all our experiences. Sin is much more than doing the wrong thing. It begins with loving, worshiping, and serving the wrong thing."

I pray that, by God's grace, He alone will occupy the throne of my heart all the days of my life. May I never give the worship due Him to something less or else than my God.

Now In Fall Colors!

Like any relevant must-read, Musings is hip, trendy, and up-to-the-minute with the latest in fall fashion. Check out our new harvest hues, complete with rich mahogany, deep sienna, and burnt orange.

Brew some hot tea and curl up with a cozy blanket as you peruse old posts and stay current on fresh issues. Snuggle up to autumn in your favorite corner of the interweb!

*if you don't see the makeover magic, hit your brower's refresh button!

Unhelpful Classifications

It's like my mama always said, Christian music is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get.

Ok, so she never said that, but the fact is that the "Christian" genre of music is about the least helpful classification I've ever heard of. I was thinking about this on my way home from school today. You know, right after class, when my head ought to be full of important thoughts about how to apply lofty theoretical knowledge to challenging clinical situations.

But instead I was listening to "Wow 1996" and reflecting a bit on Christian music: its roots, its quality, how far it has come since 1996 (amen?).

Seriously? Do we think it's helpful to label something as Christian music? Since when do we label a genre of music based on its content rather than on qualities of beat, melody, and style? Do you ever sit down and think to yourself "boy, I could go for some Christian music"....I sure don't. I think to myself, hmm, how about something bluesy, or funky, or poppy (is that a word?). If I want something that's bluesy and Christian, well, let me know if you've got a good search engine for that.

On a more thoughtful note (no pun intended), it's interesting to reflect on why we label Christian music as such. Obviously we want to denote music that has a certain content to its lyrics, music that adheres to certain moral and (at times) theological standards. This music reflects a distinctively Christian worldview, right? So in an attempt to help Christians find music appropriate for their homeschoolers and to warn non-Christians away from music that might accidentally convert them, we label it all as 'Christian' or, more laughably, 'Gospel'. I love when Chris Rice is labeled as 'Gospel', (hello white boy) which is actually a real genre of music but whose label is often given to any music that mentions Jesus. But I digress...

This Christian label is a problem, and one that has at least two logically following questions: what would happen if we labeled all music according to its content and the worldview expressed therein, and what would happen if we scrutinized 'Christian' music for explicit statements of a gospel-centered worldview?

Wouldn't that be a trip? To generalize the Christian music idea, music should really be labeled based on the worldview of the artist/composer, right? You could walk down the 'Christian' aisle until you got to the 'Muslim' section, and then hang a right at 'Post-modern'. All carefully labeled for the thoughtful consumer. No longer would Jesus music be the only genre hailed as promoting a religion. Finally the truth would be known, that values and worldviews are inherent in all music, indeed in all that man creates as art (and science, but that's another soapbox altogether). Nothing is really secular, if by secular one means free of of beneficial values, maybe, or of true ones, but there is no such thing as neutral. (And to emphasize my earlier point, we would still have no idea what the music actually sounds like!)

But what about the second question - what if we were to examine 'Christian' music to see if it really holds up to the litmus test of Christianity? I can't tell you how many songs I've heard on K-Love or even in passing on "secular" radio stations, songs released by Christian artists, songs which never mention Jesus and some which don't even allude to God. Case in point: Point of Grace's newish song called "How You Live". This song could not be further. from. the. gospel.

This gem exhorts the listener to use the good dishes, wear the red dress, turn up the music and suck the very marrow out of life (Dead Poet's Society, anyone?). It's a carpe diem kind of message. My favorite line: Don't run from the truth 'cause you can't get away, no/ Face it and you'll be okay".

I'm sorry, which truth is that?

This is the gospel of Joel Osteen and others like him. But it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is tragic to me that the Christian genre of music (and books, churches, teachers...) has become so diluted that it is sometimes impossible to distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian. And when that happens, I would suggest that there is no distinction because it is all, in fact, non-Christian.

I don't know what my point is in all this, at least with regard to the music. But I do challenge you to be discerning and not swallow something simply because it says "Christian" on the bottle. The "Christian Living" section of Barnes & Noble, even Christian bookstores sell A LOT of garbage these days. If it is not full of the truth of your sin and God's grace, then it is not Christian. That's a wide-sweeping statement, I know. There are lots of things written for many different purposes. But don't believe anything that tries to convince you that you'll be ok with anything short of Christ's atoning work on the cross.

There is so much I could say on the subject, but this is long enough already and I'm grateful you've read even this far. Just consider this: is your Christianity the real deal, or is it Christianity Lite - half the real truth, half the real joy (and none of the salvation)? More importantly, when you face the truth, will you be ok?

On Brokenness and Healing

I think I am finally recovered enough to write about my ride-along on an overnight Medical Transport shift Sunday night.

Recovered from staying up all night, that is. It wasn't really very traumatic or emergency-ish. The worst that happened was watching Trish start an IV on a lady who was in bad shape and needed transport from her nursing home to an ER. Mostly the partners on my truck were moving people from dialysis to home, or from an ER to a bed or ER in another hospital. No emergencies for me to witness, which is actually ok with me. And here's a picture of where the magic happened:

During my 13 hours with Mitch and Trish, however, I had plenty of time for introspection regarding the medical/emergency field and the vastly differing perspectives one can have, from hospital staff to medical transport to patient to family member. Being in and out of hospitals, ERs, and dialysis centers allowed me to catch a glimpse of each of these kinds of people, and since I am not a "seasoned" medical professional my heart and mind remained open enough to consider each perspective and observe them in relation to one another.

From the perspective of medical personnel, each patient who comes through is viewed very objectively - and necessarily so. Of course there is the (hopefully) compassionate bedside manner to be managed, but the doctor, nurse, or EMT views the patient as a case and quickly analyzes the series of goals to be met and the steps required to move the patient along through each of these. Wes, a friend's husband who arranged the ride-along for his wife and me, explained that this is a vital part of their training (he is trained as an EMT and works for the medical transport company we rode along with). Too much emotion would be debilitating for the medical worker who must remain objective enough to function quickly and effectively and be able to cope with both success and failure. To one trained as a psychologist, these medical personnel sometimes came across as brusque or detached, but Wes emphasized that the role of medical staff is not to provide counseling. While they aim to provide compassionate care, their primary objective is to provide physical, not emotional, help.

More intriguing than the medical professionals themselves was the interaction between them and the patients. Perhaps the most memorable was a girl being wheeled into an ER on a stretcher, head and neck immobilized by a neck brace and strap across her forehead. Her male counterpart (husband? boyfriend?) was trotting beside the stretcher, holding her and and attempting to reassure her. They both seemed relatively calm considering the apparent situation, but I thought about the very different reactions between these lay people and the staff who assisted them. To the ER personnel, this was just another case....not in a cold or harsh way, but there was no panic or anxiety or realization that life might be drastically different from now on.

And that's what it comes down to, isn't it? For the ER staff, this is business as usual. To the girl lying on a stretcher, this is a huge, life-altering experience. Her life will never be the same, either because of lasting medical issues or due simply (simply?) to the emotional and potentially traumatizing effects of an emergency hospital visit. I couldn't imagine being in her shoes...or neck brace, as it were. To be lying flat on my back, unable to move, alone with my thoughts but for the attempted comforts of my husband. Would his words soothe my heart or calm my mind? Or would my insides be racing, crashing all over each other at the panic of possible paralysis?

A hospital is a place of great healing, but also often a place of great tragedy. The ER is the beginning of a very different life for some people. My heart broke for those I saw waiting in hospital beds for doctors to deliver a prognosis - for some, full of hope; for others, carrying the weight of an altered way of life. I hope I never harden to the great drama that happens in people's lives every single day...I am grateful for the opportunity to witness firsthand what goes on behind the scenes, even the small taste that it was. It was so helpful to watch and listen, to observe people's demeanors and reactions, to imagine the psychological effects of such an experience and to reflect on how I might be able to help these people approach emotional healing when I see them in my office one day.

We live in a fallen world, and life doesn't always give you good news. I thank the Lord for calling me to a profession in which I am privileged to come alongside people who are often experiencing the very brokenness of human existence. I pray that I will be strong enough to share the burden of pain, and wise enough to guide toward hope. I am only one person, but by God's grace I will call upon Him to help me help His children.

Our Burgeoning Family

Attention, one and all! I'd like to direct your attention to the latest addition to my blogroll: Our Burgeoning Family, the blog dedicated to chronicling the growth of Baby Harold. Congratulations to Scott and Becca on their marvelous news - it is amazing that something the size of a lentil bean (or is it a grape by now? a lemon?) can have such a huge impact on the lives of everyone who awaits it. Their burgeoning family is my burgeoning family!

Praise God for the miracle of life. We lift prayers every day for the life and health of this tiny one and the mother who carries it, and for the physical, emotional, and spiritual preparations that are even now being undertaken by Scott and Becca (and so many others) in anticipation of its arrival! As for the Joel Pearces, we cannot wait to meet our first nephew/niece and to assist the Ron Pearces (etc.) in its immediate and continuous spoilage. Er, nurture and admonition of the Lord, I mean. Right-oh. Straight and narrow, I always say.

Also, it's weird to keep calling it "it", but "him/her" seems unwieldy to keep typing. Such issues we bloggers face!

Anyhoodle, stop by the Burgeoning Blog and pass along your well-wishes to the happy, gestating family!


In the tradition of my blogger husband, I would like to share something quotable with you on this particular Lord's Day. My citation takes the form not of a quote, per se, but of a link to a great blog post from our church's blog. Ladies and gentleman, Ken Shomo's "Marriage Top Ten".

This insightful post inspires me to think about ways in which the Ten Commandments apply to other areas of life, not just marriage. Following this line of thought brings into sharp focus my tendency to exalt things, tasks, and people to the highest priority rather than viewing them, and myself, in rightful submission to God. He alone occupies the throne as King of kings and Lord of my life. From a right view of His sovereign position flow the rest of His commandments as they relate to all aspects of life - to bear God's name fully and appropriately, to love and honor others, to be content with the portion He has given, to be a vessel of life and healing, to find sabbath rest in Him.

God's commandments reveal His character and His intent for the ordering of our lives. Far from being one-dimensional decrees prohibiting things like fornication and deception, these edicts emanate from the heart of God as beautiful streams of water. They do not limit my life; rather, they cast light upon the way to life abundant! The fullest life is not focused inwardly on my feelings and inclinations, but outwardly on the straight edge of the Lord's holiness.

What a great challenge, to consider God's "Top Ten" in relation to my marriage, occupation, relationships, someone once said of the gospel (the name escapes me at the, anyone?), so too is the Law so simple that even a child can understand it, yet so profound that even the most learned scholars will never exhaust its depths.

As we who live on this side of the Cross consider the high standard of the law, we are faced with our insurmountable need for grace. God's law points us forward to the justice and grace of the Cross even as grace illuminates the beauty of the original law. The two are revealed to be inseparably joined in the holiness of God - His perfect standard, and His means of raising us to it. There is no way in which the circle of law and grace is incomplete. Simple, profound, beautiful.

Thank you, Lord, for your law, and for the completeness it finds in your grace. Through your Word and by the Holy Spirit, convict us of sin and convince us of grace.

The Peace That Passes Understanding

Things have been quiet on the blogging front lately, and the reason is that much of what has been on my mind is not fit for public consumption. But there are many things on which I've been pondering, and I will endeavor to share that portion which is share-able.

The Lord is teaching me so much about trust, and about how He has my ultimate good in mind. I recently started back to school for the fall semester, and it is impossible to exaggerate how very overwhelming this has been. My classes (all two of them) are somewhat demanding and although they are both pass/fail as opposed to requiring a standard letter grade, they both involve extensive outside work. In one course, I am required to do field experiences in the area of trauma and crisis work (there will be a post following my ambulance ride-along tomorrow night, I am sure) and lead class discussions and what-not. In the other I will complete a consultation project with an outside business as well as clinical supervision of other students (in my case, second and third-years who are clinicians for the Hope research team).

And that's just the coursework. Add to that the stress of, in the next two months, completing cover letters and applications and essays and my curriculum vitae and sending the right combination of paperwork in the right format to each of 15-20 internship sites who will discard my application the very millisecond one "t" is not flawlessly crossed. Not to mention working feverishly on my dissertation proposal, a draft of which is to be submitted to my chair within the next week or two.

Oh, and then there's Life Outside of Grad School. Housework, finances, marriage, all of which require, at minimum, the normal maintenance and, ideally, the best of my time and energy.

It's enough to induce a panic attack in the most sanguine of personalities.

But the Lord whispers to my soul that He is my Shepherd, and I shall not want for anything I need. He makes me lie down to rest even when my spirit does not immediately yield to quietness. He leads me in the right paths for the sake of His own glory, and walks before and behind me through the darkly shadowed valley of all that looms before me. His rod and staff guide my steps and chasten my heart; they are gentle, yet firm; steady, yet invisible. They direct me where He wills, and I trust His ways. I rejoice in the table He has prepared for me, and the enemy who hovers nearby has no place here. The bounty of His blessings is before me, and my cup runs over with His grace, His peace, His love, and His mercy. He has anointed me as His, one whom He chose before the foundations of the world to submit to His grace and to walk the way He prepared for me. Surely I will dwell in the shelter of the Most High for all eternity! [from Psalm 23]

What are the obstacles I face compared to the greatness of my God? How small are my trials and stresses in the face of His might and power? When I step back and behold my life as God sees it, as something tiny yet perfectly crafted in His hand, my fear necessarily falls away. When I am reminded by the Holy Spirit of His truths, and of the fact that His Word is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable as He is, it becomes evident that my will must conform to His or be utterly thwarted. How much better to trust His plan for me than to strike out on my own!

This is true peace: knowing that the God of all creation holds me securely regardless of what my life may bring [Psalm 139]. He is the rock to which I cling in the darkest of nights, though I cannot see my hand in front of my face, nor even the rock itself. This total surrender of control, this letting go of my own destiny is not of my own doing but the work of His grace. May I become ever less that He may become greater, and that my life would be a sacrifice of praise for His sake.

Lord, You are my strength and my portion [Psalm 73:26]. I will do the things set before me by Your grace and in faith that You will receive all the glory.

Amazing how God's truth is a far better rudder than my own emotions. When I am guided by that which does not change, my mercurial feelings are brought subject to His Word as a fussy baby is soothed by the strong embrace of its father.

" not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." [Philippians 4:7]

And Room for a Carseat, Too

Guess what!!

It's finally happened.

The Beast has been laid to rest, lovingly, and she has been replaced by a beautiful creature with the sweetest purr.

Behold, the New Car:

That is clearly not me in the driver's seat, nor is it a boyfriend of whose existence Joel is ignorant. But it is a stock photo of the '02 Nissan Maxima, and I think it's even the same color that I have. So lovely! She drives like a luxury car and has lots of nice features, including tan cloth interior that does not stick to the back of you in 99 degree weather. Also the CD player works. And there is no record of wheels ever having fallen off mid-drive. Did I mention ice-cold AC? If you're lucky maybe I'll take you for a spin!

Actual photos of the long-awaited New Car coming soon!

God is so good :-)