Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nah Sweat

Toothbrush in mouth...

The heavens declare the glory of God, so says the Psalmist. Ah, if only he had a microscope and a Board Review Series for physiology! In my opinion: The glomerulus declares the glory of God, its portal circulation system proclaims the work of His hands!

One of my favorite prayers is to thank God for the opportunity I've been given to learn the things I do. Medical students make up an incredibly small fraction of the population, and I must say we are a fortunate few. Sometimes I get such a kick out of the stuff we learn. As an undergraduate, I learned about ion channels which let charged particles flow in and out of cell membranes. As a medical student I learned the mechanics of those ion channels. It turns out that the channels are operated by tiny magnetic gates, in the presence of an electrical charge, the magnet is attracted to it's opposite charge and it opens the membrane. As the charge accumulates on the opposite side, the magnet slides in the opposite direction and closes it. Fascinating! The more I learn about biology, the more I learn how simply mechanical everything is. Don't get me started on the molecular machinery of proteins...

The study of science is unique in that every other field of study looks in to man-made things. Economics, business, language, history, art, etc are all man-made things. Science is essentially the indirect study of God.

Another unique aspect of medical school is human dissection. We are literally taking a look at every single part of the human body. The volume of information is both daunting and exciting. Have you any idea how many blood vessels are in the abdomen? Not to mention the nerves, and don't forgot what spinal cord segments they originate from!

There are really only 2 kinds of people that get to pick apart the human body like we do: medical students and serial killers. Kind of a trip.

I am finding it hard to reconcile the idea that the body is beautiful and a work of art, while at the same time hacking away at a cadaver. I am also struggling to appreciate the body as this vastly intricate structure while maintaining the notion that it is simply a vehicle. God sure put a lot of work into something that is essentially disposable. I am becoming one with the human body. Nothing disgusts me, nothing embarrasses me. Every part of the body is both sacred and mundane. Where in this world/body view can I find room to simply be attracted to the female form?

Gross anatomy is altogether fascinating, disenchanting, illuminating, thrilling, brutal, and so very frank.

Friday, January 15, 2010

We are the lions in this kingdom

I am unaware of the mechanism, but have recently come to (re)appreciate the ability of music to alter one's mood. Recently, I had been challenged in a new way emotionally. I didn't like it. Swallowing my pride took care of most of the pain, but to take the rest of the edge off, music really helped. It is absolutely remarkable how even an upbeat tune can have such a profound effect on mood. I believe it may have something to do with a feedback loop, but that's a horse of a different color...

Here's to learning experiences!



Call to Prayer:

No Compromise!:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One Woman For Me

I feel like writing. Maybe I just feel like thinking.

For some reason, this 311 song came on Pandora, and it brought back this memory when I was in French Polynesia. I was laying on my bed in this hotel in Moorea, and I was thinking about all the beds I've slept in. I thought to myself "I must have slept in more beds than anyone". As the fan kept spinning, an no doubt my iPod slowly massaged my reticular activating system into sleep, I reflected on how plastic my life had been in the past 2 years. I think it was as I was brushing my teeth and I looked into the mirror I took a moment to register how familiar this bathroom has become to me. Although it was unfamiliar to me just a few months ago, now this is home.

Whenever I stick a toothbrush in my mouth it makes me want to do everything but brush my teeth. IE. I sit here typing while the brush just sits in my mouth. I always get such great ideas while brushing my teeth, for instance, a tribute to beds.

October 2007:
Top bunk of a bunk bed in a homestay in Phnom Penh.
Single hotel bed in Siem Reap

Novemeber 2007:
Shared a hotel double bed in Bangkok with my Dad.
Shady hotel bed in Surat Thani.
Sleeper bed in a train from Surat Thani back to Bangkok.
Single bed in a Chiang Mai homestay where a katoey recently killed a foreigner.
My tiny apartment bed in Hangdong, Chiang Mai with 101 dalmations blanket
Single bed next to Paula in Vientiane, Laos - 2nd worst illness of all time
Temple floor in Laos
Single bed in a room with a rat staring at me in Udon Thani
Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

December 2007:
Flat wooden board in Bhagola, India
Guesthouse in Chiang Mai

February 2008:
Bamboo floor of a hilltribe house
Shared double bed with Chaney and Paula in a hut on a lake at the top of a mountain, somewhere outside of Chiang Mai

April 2008:
Tiny little bed in Tacloban, Philippines
Hotel bed in the mountains of Chiang Rai

June 2008:
Single bed next to Paula on Koh Tao
Shared bed on the beach of Koh Phangan with Paula
Single bed in a different guesthouse in Koh Tao

July 2008:
Tiny little bed next to Chaney on Khao San Road, Bangkok
Even tinnier bed with mosquito net in Kosgoda, Sri Lanka

August 2008:
Suan Bua hotel double bed!

September 2008:
Parents' giant bed in Redondo Beach, CA
Jenny Andreason's awesome couch in Washington DC
2nd cousin's giant bed in his family's house in Cleveland, OH
Tori's couch Columbus, OH!
Jules' couch Cincinnati, OH!
Sheevaun's folding bed Winston-Salem, NC
Anh's couch with delicious food in New Orleans, LA

October 2008:
Brother's couch in Manhattan, NY
Alaina's awesome blow up mattress Boston, MA
Plush hotel bed in San Antonio, TX

November 2008:
David's spare bed in Omaha, NE

January 2009:
Single bed next to my Dad on Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Single bed across from my Dad on Moorea, French Polynesia

February 2009:
Tiny bed with the huge valley in it in my host family's house in Cusco, Peru

March 2009:
My old Suan Bua room in Hangdong, Chiang Mai!

April 2009:
Maekok River Valley Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand

June 2009:
Overpriced little bed in an ultra hot hotel room in Casablanca, Morocco
Dusty floor of our 3rd story loft in Rissani, Morocco
Floor of a tent in the Sahara, Morocco
Hotel in the rocky wasteland mountains of Rissani, Morocco
Beautiful hotel bed next to Christina in Madrid, Spain

August 2009:
Futon in Newport Beach

Sprinkle in a about 10 different full nights on the floors and chairs of various airports (atleast 3 in Suvarnabhumi - so cold in there)

Nothing like a good mental exercise. So completes my ode to the bed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The etymology of etymology

I really like this song they sing at Rockharbor with the refrain:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for your kingdom's cause
As I go from nothing to


That fourth line is so powerful. I recognize it from a book I read called "The Hole In Our Gospel" by the president of World Vision, an incredibly inspiring book. In the book, a story is told of the former president of WV who initially started his ministry with the prayer: Lord break my heart from what breaks Yours. After reading that testimony in the oppressive heat of my dusty upstairs loft in Morocco, I prayed that same prayer that night. It's a dangerous, dangerous prayer. Even though I consider myself a strictly logical person, I do recognize that the only things we act on are the things we feel something about. There is no strict process of logic that tells me to help the man lying in the street, unless I feel something - compassion, pity - I won't do anything. When God gives you that heart, it comes with responsibility for action.

Luke records Jesus cruising into the temple one time, and He gets handed some scroll to read in front of everyone. Jesus scrolls (literally) to Isaiah and reads this:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord."

As He goes to sit down, Luke says everyone was looking at Him. Then Jesus says:

"Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

When I first read that passage in Luke I looked up and said "oh snap!". If anyone ever thinks Jesus never claimed to be the messiah, have a look there. What I really take from this passage though is that Jesus basically just defined his mission statement. Why is He on Earth? To help the poor, captives, blind, and oppressed. Jesus was a man of action and nothing less. May I be as well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Greatest Metaphor I've Heard All Week

Haven't written in a dang good while.

Today I begin my collection of Sahid stories. About 3 weeks ago, I cruised down to the BBQ to cook up a bunch of food. Now because there are only 2 BBQ's in the complex, they are often occupied, and people aren't always willing to offer up a little open space on the grill. So I walk up to this old looking Arabic looking guy and ask if he has any spare room on the grill for me. The man turns around with a big sweeping gesture and says "my friend, everything I have is yours!". I knew I was in for a good experience.

He introduced himself as Professor Sahid, and is an Egyptian man somewhere in his 60's I'd venture to guess. Professor Sahid is a professor of IT, takes great pride in his work, is full of wild stories, and serves up abundant advice and wisdom along with well cooked chicken in a most delicious marinade. Previously, I have received advice on how to select a good wingman while in times of war, how to be a successful physician (read books - point well taken), how to balance my life and studies, and why not to convert to Islam to marry a Muslim woman.

This evening I met Sahid again down at the BBQ. Like clockwork, he moved his food over, offered me the leftovers of his marinade for my steaks, and took charge over them on the grill. The most memorable story of tonight was the time when, in the Egyptian Army, a man approached him about a shark problem that was interfering with his fishing. Without thinking twice, Sahid stuck a bomb inside a fish, put the fish on a hook, and threw that fish into the water on a line. When the shark grabbed it, he hit the detonator, and poof, no more shark!

As much as I may suspect Sahid's stories are slightly embellished or that his advice is self indulgent, I have great respect for all elders, and understand that wisdom comes from experience. I also understand and respect Arabic hospitality, and know that when he says he has a place for me in Egypt any time I want, I know he means it and I hope to one day take him up on the offer.

Cheers to you, Sahid.

PS. Today marks me being back from Thailand for one year now. I was going to say back in the US, but I've only spent 3 full months in the country this year. How blessed I am.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I thought I might like to write a little bit since I haven't in awhile.

About 19 months ago I moved to Thailand, a decision that absolutely changed my life...overwhelmingly for the better.

I have grown a lot in the past two years. In the first few weeks of Cambodia and the early days of Thailand, God led me back to Himself, and to me, this has been the most profound shift in my life.

A series of strictly logical problems with theology and Christianity had grown from doubts in to roadblocks as my years progressed at LMU, ultimately leading me to something between a philosophical roadblock and some sort of pragmatic stalemate. To be clear, issues of Justice (capital letters here), Love, and Divine Sovereignty weighed too heavily on my mind to accept God as God. I took God out of the equation, and tried to work things out by myself. In hindsight, this was the wrong approach. Thankfully, a strong upbringing kept me from making drastic changes to my lifestyle, and thankfully again, my stubbornness to change my way of life in light of changes in my worldview exposed a very serious flaw in my own logic.

Thank God for the conscience.

I know the difference between right and wrong, and as much as I wanted to dismiss God because I didn't approve of his creation, I was convicted of my own sin. I know I do wrong no matter how hard I try to do right. I know that wrongs must be punished and therefore I deserve punishment. If you smash my window, I can well enough decide not to make you pay for it (mercy) and I can even forgive you (grace), but the window is still broken. Granting mercy and grace, the only just solution at this point is for me to pay for the window myself. You're already off the hook, and I can't just make someone else pay.

I've known this analogy for years and it's always rang true. I don't follow Jesus because I like "Christianity" the religion, because I like to sing songs and go to church. I follow Jesus because He was actually here, spoke truth, showed Himself as God and offered a solution to the problem of sin.

What an enormous gift, and with it, I feel so driven. I've spent a good portion of the last 2 years of my life hunting down opportunities to serve God. Next week I'll be leaving on my 9th international volunteer project.

In August I will begin my training to do real work, and I've never felt so motivated.

James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

That deserves meditating on.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Tim Dar Gretchen Jen Soban Alila Peter Somjit Bee Nee Jib Om Nui1 Nui2 Mae Gett Luknam Nine Boss N'John Tunk More Moss Eve Noll Deepu Babaji Mamaji Deepesh Hareesh Abdul Rohit Radha Sacha Jay May Lorena Richard Elin Brendan Karina Laurence Tori Nee Maey Susy Magda Philippe Leena Stee Patrick Lizita Chaska Klidy

Loneliness is the price I pay for my impermanence.