Thursday, December 15, 2011

Disney World: Magic Kingdom

To me, magic kingdom is synonymous with disney world...apparently they aren't the same thing. :) While down for Stace & Andre's wedding, Jennifer and I went to disney.  It was a funfilled day.  I loved comparing it to disney land.  Here is my list of comparissions

  • Disney World's Cinderella's castle is much bigger, and much better 
  • Small world at Disneyland has a better storefront.  When you walk up to it at Disneyland it's a sight, but at World, it looks like any other random ride.
  • Disneyland has all the best rides in one park
  • If I had kids, I'd choose Disneyland over world (because you can walk out of the park, across the street to a hotel, take naps, etc) but Disney World you have to take the monorail, or boat, drive, etc, OR pay lots to stay closeby.
There are many other small differences, both are great experiences and now I can say I've been to both, woohoo.  Here are some fun pictures from the experience!

On our way to the Magic Kingdom!
 Cinderella's castle.
 We thought we were in line for the people mover, oops.
I LOVE the toy story ride! Ps. I beat Jennifer :)

 We met up with Stace & Andre later in the day!
 The castle lit up at night! It changed all sorts of colors!
 Oh I forgot, they STILL do the electrical light parade, it was AWESOME!
 I thought they would be all decorated for halloween, not really.
Had a blast with Jennifer and so excited to experience Disney World for the first time!  I cannot wait to return and try some of the other worlds.  I do have a few years left here, so hopefully I can make it down there again before I'm done with this PhD in Georgia!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stacie & Andre's Wedding

I met Stacie back at Baylor, many many years ago.  And it was a joy to see her walk down the isle and marry Andre.  The weather in Florida was perfect, and the ceremony was wonderful.  I pray they honor each other and bring glory to God through their union.  Many blessings hoped for them!

Here are some pictures from the wedding.  I love watching the groom when the bride walks in, he had tears in his eyes :).
The ceremony was officiated by Stacie's friend Kelly.  "Out of 7billion people in this world, you two chose each other."  Chose, I love the purposefulness of the statement, of love, and of the ceremony.
I LOVE this picture as they walked down the isle as husband and wife.  :)
The first official announcement as they entered the reception.  
Some of you may have known, but just a two weeks before the wedding, Stacie's dad was hospitalized and in lots of pain.  After loads of tests, they didn't think he would be healthy enough to travel from Pennsylvania to the wedding in Florida.  Prayers went up around the country, and the world.  Just a few days before the wedding he was cleared to attend, and although he was in pain, he was determined to walk her down the isle and dance with her.  Even now, my eyes are filling with tears thinking about this.  As I was taking pictures as the wedding I began crying while they were dancing.  Her family are very precious people and I know how much it meant to Stacie to dance with her daddy.
Below is a picture of Christy, me, and Amy; all Baylor folk who were able to make it to the wedding.  Christy, Larry, and I actually drove down to the wedding together and stayed in a wonderful condo while in Florida.  Amy and her husband live on the other side of Atlanta, although I don't see them as often as I wished.  We had wonderful times laughing at the wedding and enjoying each others company.  What a great reason to all get together...only miles and miles away from home. 
 The Tietjen's with Stacie.
 Love my friend Stace!
 And last, but not least, the Correll-Hughes'
Again, the wedding was lovely and I pray their marriage will overflow with love, joy, and laughter! 

While we were down in Florida, I also got a chance to visit with Jennifer.  We went to Disney World, yep that's right.  And by Disney World, I mean Magic Kingdom

More to come.

Grandpa's Memorial

Ten days after surgery, I was on a plane to California for my grandpa's memorial service.  It was a lovely event with family and friends remembering my grandpa's life.  Here are some pictures from the event.
A memory table was created with all sorts of favorite things or found memories of (Wilbur) Paul Rhymes' life on earth.  What a blessing he was to his family and to others.  It was neat to explain all the items to various family and friends.  He was deeply loved.
For those who know my sister, she doesn't cry very often.  Thus, when it happens, I tried to catch it on film. :)  Love her.
Our dear family friends Deana and Jessica came up from Stockton for the memorial service.  Love these people, they really are like family!  My mom and Deana have been friends since they were pregnant with my sister and Jessica.
Look, you can't even tell that I had surgery 10 days ago.  I was exhausted but so grateful for the time with my family.
On my dad's side, my sister is the youngest cousin, on my mom's side, I'm the oldest...although not hard when there are only four on my mom's side ;)
It was neat to see how many of my grandma's family came for the service, they loved Paul as much as any of us.  My grandma is the one in purple.  LOVE her and can't wait to see her at Christmas!

Post Op

I realize it's been awhile since I posted...too long.  Yes I've recovered from surgery, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. The worst parts were the first week, truly.  Between the gas they pumped into my body, and not really being able to sleep well...those were the worst.  However, full recovery did take quite some time. 

I could give you the nitty gritty of the surgery, what they found, etc.  But instead, I'll say that it wasn't cancer (praise the Lord) and that my community really came around me in amazing ways!  Here's the rundown of the ways that God blessed me! 

My friend Mallory took me to the hospital the morning of, and stayed with me all day and all night.  Two of my cohort members, Christa and Tiffany visited in the hospital that night.  Then Christy Correll-Hughes met me that morning, walked the halls with me trying to get the gas from surgery out from my shoulder blades (yeah, it's painful and odd), when I was released drove me home VERY carefully (you feel every bump and thump), and made sure I was set until Sarah came over.  Sarah Mudd, friend from Baylor who now lives in South Carolina drove down and spent the weekend with me!  Friends then brought me food every evening.  My cohort and advisor signed up for meals (sometimes twice a day).  The love and care I was shown was humbling.  I am blessed and so grateful! 

My sister joked that I was an office supply store after surgery.  At first I was stapled, then after they were removed it was replaced with glue and tape.  Here's a picture below of my staples.

Updates Coming!

Okay friends and family, for those of you who read my blog, I realize it's been WAY overdue for an update.  So I'm working on it today.  Be ready.  Lots of little updates... coming.your.way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pre-Op Regimen

At noon today I began the pre-op regimen...I'm not sure what stinks more, the thought of surgery & recovery or all the pre-op stuff they're making me do (blood work, flushing my system, etc).

Kidding, I realize surgery will be worse, but still today's regimen is not pleasant either.

Interviews for Publishable Paper

I have now completed the six interviews needed for my publishable paper requirement.  I believe I have reached saturation (I'm hearing the same things over & over again).  Once they've been transcribed I can begin coding them and finding themes...from there I will write up my paper, defend it, and then begin working on the other little project (the dissertation).


Friday, September 9, 2011

Research Progress!

Today was beautiful!  The temperature was 80 degrees and a light breeze.  Just wonderful.

On top of that, I have been working on my research (faculty-student interaction) since I started this PhD process.  However, since the end of January, I began trying to make significant progress.  I was using one woman to try and solicit participants...and after months of trying...I decided to change my targeted population.  After working with one of the student workers in my office, she gave me names of students who would fit my new criteria. 

Since my research project is qualitative, I only need six to eight students to interview.  Well...after today, I have four of the six completed...and another scheduled for Monday afternoon.  I am really hoping that I can find and squeeze another in before surgery (it would be ideal).

So today, after months and moths of standstill, I made a gigantic leap forward!

Coupled with the beautiful weather and getting to walk a dog (pets are great therapy), today was a good day!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Major Life Change #3.2

On Tuesday I had a pre-op appointment for my upcoming surgery.  Yes folks, it's official.  September 14th at 10:30am (EST) I will be having surgery to remove my left ovary.  The pre-op appointment lasted four hours (yes, I typed that right).  During that FOUR hour appointment I had my finger pricked for iron, peed in a cup (twice), had three viles of blood drawn, a chest x-ray, and an EKG.  They also had a nice woman (Maggie) come in and present me with a goodie bag.  The goodie bag is filled with four different types of things to 'flush' my system the day :/  The highlight of the appointment was the anesthesiologist...he was cute.  But not cute enough to discount all the other discomfort I went through ;)  But gotta look on the bright side, right?! 

So I will go into the hospital at 9am on Wednesday morning...oh and I can't get sick between now and then (and everyone seems to be getting sick).  From there they'll prep me for surgery.  The anesthesiologist said I may be under general anesthesia or maybe a spinal (like an epidural), but that will be decided on Wednesday between me and the dr.'s.  I will stay overnight in the hospital at least one night, maybe two.

The doctor seems to think I will be just fine to travel 10 days later for my grandpa's memorial service.  I am hoping and praying he's right.  The doctor said that part of recovery is mental and that I need to prepare myself for the pain.  To be honest, I don't know that I have much mental capacity right now.  Thus, this is a great opportunity for God to show up in a big way :)  Here is my list of prayer requests:

Wisdom for the doctors during the surgery
That my other ovary is perfectly healthy (no cysts, no nothing)
Pleading with God for strength (mental & physical) to make it through this
That I will feel peace leading up to the surgery

I am sure there are others too, and I covet your prayers during this time.  I know I serve a God who is bigger than all of this (death, grief, surgery).

Psalm 18:2
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 22:24
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from her but has listened to her cry for help.

Matthew 6:25-34
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Major Life Change #2.2

So after almost six months of grieving the loss of my relationship with Shelton, with lots of prayer, love, and support, I felt like I was in a decent place...and then I got a call from a dear friend.  She started asking unusual questions about where I was, who I was with, how long I'd be know the kind; the kind that mean something has happened and your friend wants to know that you're in a place to hear it.

Well, I finally made her spit it out.  My gut blurted out, "does it have something to do with Shelton, is he dating someone?"  She paused and then replied, "well, he's engaged." 

My heart sank.  What?  Really?  There weren't many other details she knew other than he had been dating her 'on and off' for seven years.  Questions filled my mind and my heart hurt.  I was confused, a bit angry, but really more hurt than anything else.  Hurt because the timeline seemed so quick, hurt because he didn't have the decency to tell me, and really hurt because in the back of my heart, I had secretly hoped after some time, he would realized what a great thing he had lost in me.

Ironically enough, the morning before I got the news I was in the shower crying and pleading God to take away my desire for him.  Not that I believe God orchestrated this (fill in the expletive) situation, but I do believe (and cling to) that he works all things together for good (hopefully my good included).  Additionally, I just heard a MercyMe song, that is now on repeat.  The lyrics are my prayer.  Please continue to pray for me as I wrestle with so many emotions (hurt, doubt, fear, frustration) and also as I seek to find closure and healing.

Move by MercyMe
I'm not about to give up
Because I heard you say
There's gonna be brighter days
There's gonna be brighter days
I wont stop, Ill keep my head up
No, I'm not here to stay
There's gonna be brighter days
There's gonna be brighter days

I just might bend but wont break
As long as I can see your face

When life wont play along
And right keeps going wrong
And I cant seem to find my way
I know where I am found
So I wont let it drag me down
Oh, I'll keep dancing anyway

I'm gonna move (move)
I'm gonna move (move)
I'm gonna move

Ive got to hold 'er steady
Keep my head in the cage
Everything is about to change
Everything is about to change

This hurt is getting heavy
But I'm not about to cave
Everything's about to change
There's gonna be brighter days

I just might bend but wont break
As long as I can see your face


No matter what may come
Gotta move to a different drum
No matter what life brings
Gotta move gotta move to a different beat [x2]

I just might bend but wont break
As long as I can see your face

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Major Life Changes #1-3

Lord, help me to believe in beginnings.

The last 416 days have been a struggle.  Although there have been some high moments, they have often been accompanied by sadness, grief, loss, and pain.  I know this PhD journey is a long and treacherous path, but if the next two years are anything like this last one...with all the major life changes (MLC), I think I may throw in the towel. 

And yet, most of this pain, sadness, grief, and loss have nothing to do with the PhD program.  When I first moved here, I went through the normal transitional issues (loosing professional identity, making new friends, becoming a student) not to mention the struggle to simply get out here (remember this?).  From there, my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer in early August.  (MLC #1) This was hard for me to reconcile.  I was angry and frustrated with doctors who didn't find the cancer earlier.  The Lord, however, was gracious and gave many opportunities to visit with my grandpa before he went to be with Jesus in July.

As I mentioned earlier, there were also joys throughout this last year.  I moved to Athens in a committed relationship to someone I worked with and had been seeing during my last semester at Baylor.  During that time of transition he was extremely gracious and supporting.  Although we knew distance would be a struggle, we were both committed to the relationship.  However, in November, I felt like our communication began to suffer.  It was difficult to connect, but when we did, it was good!  The holidays brought more challenges as he was in Texas and I was in California and Oregon.  Shortly into the spring semester, we had some good conversations about the direction of our relationship.  Although I was feeling the stress of distance and other factors, he was quick to affirm me and the priority that both I and our relationship held....then February came and things crumbled very quickly.  I wanted so desperately to believe his intentions, but his actions and words didn't align.  It was one of the hardest things I had to do, but I broke up with him while he was out in Atlanta for a conference (MLC#2).  The months after were somewhat disastrous.  It was hard to focus, hard to concentrate, and hard to grieve the loss of a long-term relationship that had marriage potential. 

Then a few weeks ago, after my tests to determine my tailbone pain, they discovered a dermoid cyst.  The cyst (most likely) has nothing to do with my tailbone, but is serious enough to put the tailbone pain on the back burner.  The cyst is about the size of an egg and resides in my ovary.  The most recently doctor I saw wants to remove my entire ovary (MCL #3).  At word of this, I began to cry.  I asked him about chances for getting pregnant in the future.  The conversation went like this:

Me:What does this mean for having kids?
Dr: Are you trying to get pregnant?
Me: No
Dr: Are you married?
Me: No
Dr: Are you just thinking long term?
Me: I just wanna keep my options open

Although this conversation makes the Dr. out to sound insensitive, I think he was actually trying to be understanding.  From here, he said that my other ovary should kick in and I should still have no problem getting pregnant (minus other factors; thyroid, age, etc).  We talked about lots of other medical type things and scheduled the surgery for September 14th (as of now).  This may change as I am suppose to be on a plane 10 days later for my grandpa's memorial service...I should know more after my Tuesday appointment.

All this to say, this year has been rough and filled with many major life changing moments.  And through it all, there are many songs and verses that have been reminders of God's faithfulness to me throughout this extremely trying year.  I know and believe God will work all things together for his good, and yet...I am SO ready for this year to be behind me and to welcome in a new one. 

Lord, help me to believe in beginnings.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick Update & Prayer Request

On Tuesday, I went to the doctor to have the MRI read.  To my surprise, the MRI revealed a cyst.  It's pretty amazing they found the cyst before it began causing me any pain (it's about 2.3 inches around) and a little shocking.  From there the doctors worked with me to scheduled ultrasounds and other appoitments to determine additional information.  After meeting with the obgyn, and after having the radiologist read the ultrasounds, they recommended I see a surgeon to have the cyst removed. 

Again, a bit of a shock.

But since Tuesday, I've had lots of people praying and I've had peace.  The doctors are pretty confident it's benign, although it is an unusual type of cyst.  I have an appointment scheduled for the 30th with a surgeon.  Depending on the type of surgery it's a 2-4 week recovery.  It's very inconvinient, but what a blessing that it was found before it caused pain or worse...burst. 

Please pray for my appointment on the 30th, that the less invasive procedure is an option or surgery, that it can be done quickly (as the semester will get more complicated), and that God will use this to bring him glory in some way. 

There are so many ways I've seen God go ahead of me in this situation already.  This is no surprise to Him even if it was to me!

Magnificent Massage

After a long academic year, I knew I needed a break, and I had been talking about getting a massage for awhile.  I looked into many places.  The health center would do an hour massage for $50...great price, but not the experience.  For my first massage, I wanted the experience!  So then I began looking for day spas.  These massages began to run $90-100.  The price made me more convinced that I wanted my money's worth.  I found the Chateau Elan.  It's a local winery with a hotel and separate spa. I was sold when I found out that when you get a service there, you can use any of the facility for free.  

The options included:
a workout facility 
fitness classes
hot tub
robes & sandals
pool with jets for swimming
afternoon tea and snacks
showers with all the necessities
and all the little extras that made it special

The massage itself was wonderful...although with the way my back was hurting she could have spent the entire time on my back and I would have been a happy camper.  The room was softly lit, quiet instrumental music, the bed heated from beneath me, and after the massage I sat in a quiet reflection room with dim lighting, flickering candles, wonderful lounge chairs and warm blankets.
I made a day of the experience and it was lovely.  AND just what I needed, a day of quiet relaxation and pampering.  I wanted to go around and take pictures of the place but thought it would be odd, so I took a few when I could. ;)
The grounds were beautiful and overlooking a small lake.  It was a much needed day.  Although I will probably supplement my experience with some trips to the health center, I will return and treat myself to another day of pampering!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Back in October, my mom came to visit.  On a three hour car ride, I noticed my bum began hurting.  Figuring it was probably just from spending too much time in the car I paid little attention.  As the month went on, and the pain continued, I scheduled an appointment with the doctor.  The woman said there wasn't much they could do and sent me home with some drugs.

Skip forward to June when my bum was still hurting.  Yeah, pain in the butt...literally.

So my new doctor at the University Health Center (Joy Ford...who is awesome!) recommended I see a specialist.  Of course, nothing is just that easy...right?!  Unfortunately, Joy recommended I see a specific doctor and the administrative woman made the appointment...with the WRONG doctor.  But I didn't realize that, until I was back in Joy's office for a torn ligament in my toe.  Yes friends, I tore a ligament in my toe by tripping on my pajama bottoms.  But that's another story.  Back to the bum.  After seeing the wrong doctor (a physical therapist), Joy set up an appointment for me with Dr. Doerr, a back, spine, and neck specialist.  

I saw him a couple weeks ago.  He is...quirky, but thorough.  After looking at the xrays, he decided we needed more information.  The exam revealed my tailbone is sensitive, and the xrays show my lowest disk may be smaller than should be.  Either may be causing my pain, thus he scheduled me for a pelvic MRI.  Its kind of like a buy one MRI get one free...we'll get more detailed pictures of both my lowest disk and my tailbone.

So the MRI.

I have had lots of friends who've had MRI's before and everything they told me was...not like my experience.  They took me to a private dressing area and handed me a set of scrubs (much nicer than the hospital gown).  Additionally, I was allowed to keep on any clothing that didn't have metal.  Honestly, getting my cartilage piercing out may have been the worst part of the whole thing.  :)  That or just trying to remain still through the loud clicking and beeping.  But really, they did everything to make the experience comfortable.  They allowed me to keep all my things in the room (locked with my own key), gave me ear plugs, offered me a blanket, gave me a pillow for under my head and knees...during one of the tests, the sound was kind of white noise like...and I could have probably gone to sleep if that test hadn't been one of the shortest.

The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes and I'll go back to Dr. Doerr next week to have the MRI read and discuss options.

Until the next update.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

September Plane Ticket

I just purchased my plane ticket for my grandpa's memorial service at the end of September.  :)  It will be a time of celebration and remembrance.  I am glad I'll be out in California with family for a special time to celebrate a wonderful man's life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Writing Retreat

I spent the last week up in the Georgia mountains on a writing retreat.  It was lovely!  We spent all day, every day, for a week, in cabins writing.  In the evenings everyone would get together and talk about our progress for the day...successes, challenges, etc.  Then various people would share snippets of their work and ask for a press, express, address, or bless.  Here are some highlights...

Revised my publishable paper prospectus (my population and methodology changed)
Fun memories with my cabinmates
Walks around the lake
Hike up to the waterfall
Wrote up a book review (hopefully for publication)
Lots of laughter about bugs and 'camping'
Learned more about qualitative research
Meaningful conversations around higher education & life
Wrote my way into my dissertation (I think I have a topic, pending advisor approval ;)

It was a wonderful retreat...although I am extremely happy to be sleeping in my own bed again! Here are a few pictures from the writing retreat (mostly our trip up Anna Ruby falls).

Devotional for the first day of the writing retreat.  I thought it was fitting.
 From my morning walks around the lake
 We each kind of staked out spaces.  Some of the rooms had desks, mine didn't, thus I took one half of the kitchen table.  We also rearranged furniture that first night to make more conducive writing spaces
 On the deck watching the sunset
 We had all sorts of bug friends that decided to visit
 We were given stickers to wear for our hike
 LaQuesha and my cabinmate Carla
 It was a beautiful day.  I love the mountains, cool(er) days and less humidity!

 Danny & LaQuesha are in my program & made the trek (.4 mile hike, ha)
 The group of us that treated ourselves to a break and a hike.
Carla, Katy, Jung-chi, Danny, LaQuesha, Josh, and me
 My cabinmates, Carla, Katy, and Carolina