Sunday, January 10, 2016

Religious Freedom

Is religious freedom a civil right?

We had a discussion at church tonight.  From one perspective, religious freedom is not a civil right.  It is a God-given right.  We are free.  We are in Christ.  We are live in that freedom of the Gospel, that freedom of the forgiveness of sins, that freedom to speak the truth. 

Of course, that may mean we are also free to suffer on account of the Gospel.  "Blessed are you when men persecute you and revile you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." 

The Constitution's first amendment guarantees suggests that the government not infringe on religious freedom.  That part is a CIVIL right.  A couple of centuries ago, our government wanted to ensure that people would not be persecuted for believing, speaking, and acting upon their religious beliefs.  And ... what the government gives, it can take away. 

So yes, we are free with regard to religion.
But no, we are not free to expect that there will be no suffering and no persecution.

We have been talking frequently about Daniel.  The book of Daniel shows us how believers lived and confessed during times of religious persecution.  The ones who believed in the Lord worked [gasp] for the good [gasp] of the government which was persecuting them.  They did not hide their trust and their prayers; neither did they flaunt it and be "Bible-thumpers."  They did their jobs, went about their business, helped the pagans who had kidnapped them, and then received death sentences for refusing to bow down to idols.  They enjoyed "freedom of religion" in the true sense of the word.  No one could make them deny the Faith.  These folks did not, however, have a civil right to religious liberty.

Can we fix the government so that our civil rights are once again guarantees and not mere wishes?  Maybe.  Probably not.  The problem is not new.  It started a century (or more) ago; the changes have been picking up speed.  Forty or fifty years ago all the problems we see today were already in existence; they had not yet come to fruition; but they had already started.  (This too is not unlike what Daniel experienced.)  I find it very interesting that we see nowhere that Daniel was counting on Cyrus or the work of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Daniel was not agitating for the government to change its policy.  Daniel's hope was in the promises of the Lord, not in fixing things here on earth. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pork Tenderloin

For my kids: This is the recipe for the pork we had on Sunday.  I don't know who/where I got it from -- probably a melding of several online recipes.  It takes about 40 minutes.

The pork tenderloins at the Pig come with two in a 2.5# package.  Each tenderloin is a little over 1#.  The whole package would be 4-6 servings.  The recipe below is for cooking both the pieces at the same time.

Use a paring knife to trim any silver skin from the tenderloin, as this silver skin will get tough.
Pat tenderloin dry with paper towel.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, till oil shimmers.

Coat the meat pieces with
1 Tbsp olive oil
and season with 
1/2 Tbsp salt 

Sear meat in skillet.  Cook each side for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned, for a total of 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice or chop
2 onions
2 apples

Begin preheating oven to 450.
When meat is seared, remove to a platter.

Add another Tbsp of oil to the skillet (if necessary) and saute onions and apples for about 5 minutes.
While the apples are frying, rub into meat:
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

Add 1/4 tsp thyme to onions.  Top onions/apples with meat.   Slide skillet into hot oven.
Roast 10-15 minutes, until meat thermometer reads 145-150.  Don't overcook.
Put meat on clean platter; cover with foil; let rest 10 minutes.
Put skillet back on a medium burner.  Add
1 cup chicken broth to skillet.
Stir and scrape browned bits from bottom of skillet.
Bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook until sauce reduces by half.
Slice meat. 
Apples and onions go on the bottom of the platter, topped by meat slices, topped by the sauce.

I substituted the 10 minutes of roasting with the crockpot.  After frying the apples and onions, I added the chicken broth to the skillet, stirred to remove brown roasty bits, and then poured it in the bottom of the crockpot.  I put the meat on top.  Crockpot on low for 3 hours was a bit too long, and I did a double recipe.  So probably two hours on low [for a modern crockpot] would be good.  I don't know how much longer for a good, old-fashioned, lower-heat crockpot.  If you use the crockpot, pour the apples, onions, and sauce into a saucepan or skillet to reduce the sauce on the stovetop. 

Do you have a meat thermometer?  It's really handy for a recipe like this because you don't want to overcook it and have tough meat, and you don't want to undercook it and get trichinosis.  And on that cheery note, we should all go buy tenderloins while they're still on sale.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Gary tuned the radio to the ball game last night.  As I was falling asleep, a commercial grabbed my attention.  "Gary, did you hear that?  There's a Brain Aneurysm Foundation!  I never knew that."  Well, he did.  He said he used the website a lot in my ICU days.

I grabbed his iPad and started reading.  I was up far too late.  But reading the stories -- it was so compelling.  I told myself that I was just reading to see if any of the stories mentioned arachnoiditis.  But had I not given myself that excuse, I still probably would've kept reading far into the night.  Or morning....

The statistics page tells me that I'm in a small group of those who have only a small impairment.

Most people who seek help for aneurysms do so because of terrible headaches.  If people have "the most horrible headache of their life" that may be reason to seek help in ER.  On the other hand, many people have no warning signs of aneurysm.  While in the hospital, I thought (based on questions from doctors) that I had had no warning signs.  I hadn't suffered from freaky-bad headaches.  I didn't smoke.  My blood pressure was beautiful.  I didn't have the normal signs of stroke: weakness in a limb, uneven smile, blurred vision, slurred speech.  But it turns out that pain above or behind the eye is a sign of aneurysm.  That had been going on for more than half a year, and I hadn't recognized it as anything serious.  I was concerned about glaucoma and went for an eye exam.  Of course it turned out my eyeball was fine.  So I ignored the occasional pain.

Reading people's stories -- oh, how those resonated with me!

People talked about fear whenever a headache started.  "Is this going to be another humongous thing?  Will my brain explode again?"

People talked about how life is divided into the "before aneurysm" and "after aneurysm" times.

Robin wrote, "No matter how normal we may seem, believe us when we say we don't feel normal."

It's helped to read about how others mourned and grieved over the loss of "the old me." 

People mentioned how they run their finger over the scar.  It seems weird to me to touch the incision site, to feel the dent in my skull.  But I do it nearly every day.

Nobody mentioned arachnoiditis.  One man did mention a spinal tap to relieve the problem of blood pooling and contaminating the cerebral spinal fluid.  

One survivor wrote about "flat affect."  She said the doctor told her that she was likely to feel uncaring, to feel emotionally unresponsive.  I've experienced that.  Gary was so glad when my eyes teared for joy when Paul and Mandy announced they were expecting a baby.  Emotions are beginning to return.

People talked about having unrealistic expectations of themselves.  They would try to do what they used to be able to do, thinking they could (or should) be able to accomplish what used to be easy.  But they couldn't.

Survivors talked about memory lapses.  They said they'd stop in the middle of sentences to search for a lost word.  (And yes, I know that's part of aging and we all deal with it.  This is more, though.)  People talked about slower processing, and how reading or listening must be slower for me to be able to understand.  (I noticed that online training at work took me a lot longer this year than it did pre-stroke.)

Patients reflected on whether they wanted other people to know about the brain trauma.  On the one hand, sometimes people know about it and treat you differently.  Some patients don't want that stigma hanging over them: Brain-Injured Person.  On the other hand, when people around you don't know about the brain trauma, the patient so often feels compelled to explain ... to apologize for being "the post-stroke me" who is not as efficient or strong or smart or witty as I was previously.

Gabriele wrote about this apologizing, realizing that sometimes she was ashamed of the "after-me."  She wrote about needing to take more notes, make more lists, slow down, and ask for help.  It was interesting to read this after yesterday's Bible class, where Pastor talked about our tendency to long for olden days, "better days."  But the Christian life is in receiving and giving -- in that order.   We always want to be the ones giving/doing.  But sometimes we need to be in the position of having others help us, others give to us, as they serve Christ by caring for us.  Gabriele wrote about a Lent-2 sermon (Gen 12) which referred to Abram's being "banished to the promise."  We usually think that banishment is from.  But she talked about being banished to God's mercy.  That fits with what Pastor talked about, how we are not to repristinate bygone days, but live where we are, today, receiving God's mercy and His gifts, and living in love toward the neighbor that we have today. 

Summer Rice Salad

This was part of Christmas dinner.  Nobody in our family is allergic to anything in it, and that's no small feat.  The recipe makes 5-6 quarts of salad, but don't make a bunch and expect to eat it all week.  After a day and a half in the fridge, the dab of leftovers was a little soggy.  All you kids who said you wanted the recipe, here ya go ...

Toss together:
3 cups cooked & cooled brown basmati (that's 1 cup rice + 2 cups water)
2 large or 3 medium cucumbers, chopped
3 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
1 carrot, grated
4 green onions, sliced
16 oz pea pods, cut into pieces about 3/4 to 1" long
2 avocados, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped

Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cleaning for Company

I feel like such a hypocrite.

After I read Don Aslett, I told myself, "No more cleaning for company!"  I clean for us.  I clean because I don't want my space to be nasty or germy or uncomfortable. 

So it's the day before Christmas.  Company is coming.  And I am cleaning.

Self-justification commences:
I've been doing Christmas prep instead of the cleaning that I want to do for me.
I've been busy at church instead of cleaning for me.
It's been too long since I cleaned, and I've been trying to get to it.
The cats are shedding, and the hair drives me bonkers.
If I don't clean today, I can't do it until Monday, because I intend to enjoy being with family.

So the vacuum is out.
And the cat hair is being dusted up.

And I still feel like a hypocrite.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Lord's Prayer with an Antiphon

This last week before Christmas, I have been appreciating intermingling the day's O antiphon with the Lord's Prayer.

For today:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Hallowed be Thy name.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

Thy kingdom come.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Thy will be done.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

And forgive us our trespasses.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

And lead us not into temptation.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.
and in the shadow of death.

But deliver us from the evil one.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Second of the O Antiphons

We address Adonai.
Lord of might.
Appearing to Moses in the burning bush.
Appearing to the Israelites in the cloud and thunder and fire at Sinai.

And what is the petition connected to this God who seems so big and scary and fierce?
"Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us."

Redeem us.

That's not scary.
That's rescue.

All of God's bigness and fierceness is directed toward saving us and defending us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Baby's a Blessing

An unwed girl gets pregnant.  She chooses not to kill her baby.  Baby is born. 

Christians sometimes have mixed feelings.  The ladies at church wonder, "Should we throw a baby shower for her?" On the one hand, they know that the baby needs diapers and onesies and a car seat.  On the other hand, they don't want to send a message that appears to "reward" a sinful behavior.  The local woman who runs a home for moms has the best way to put this.

A baby is always a blessing.
Even if a baby is conceived in a less-than-honorable situation, even if the baby is conceived in violence, the baby is nevertheless a human being made in the image of God.  The baby is a blessing.  God's word says that children are a gift from God, a blessing from the Lord.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conception, the birth of a baby is always a cause for rejoicing. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

"Don't You Trust Me?"

Doctor visit to a specialist I've never seen before.

Doctor recommends a long-term course of a medicine that is rife with bad side effects and links to cancer and heart attacks. 

I ask, "But doesn't that drug have a lot of side effects?"

Response?  "I am your doctor.  I know you.  I've looked at your chart.  Don't you trust me?  I would never give you anything that would hurt you." 

I think it's true
that she would never
give me something
that she believed would hurt me.

But is there any chance that she could have been swayed by the pharmaceutical company to believe something inaccurate about the drug?
Is there a chance that I failed to inform her of something that I didn't know was pertinent?
Is there a chance she doesn't care about nutrition and wellness, but always turns to chemical solutions?
There's even a chance that she's spot-on right.

I was shocked that a doctor in this day and age would refuse to discuss side effects of a potent drug, and just say "Trust me." 

And if she thinks I'm going to trust her after that, I guess maybe she doesn't know me after all.

Over the next two days I spent about ten hours reading up on various perspectives by the drug manufacturer, alternative medicines, nutritionists, herbalists, and other aspects of my situation.  Man oh man -- buggy-eyed and brain-tired.  At least the doctor was good for one thing: she easily ruled out a lot of possible problems that I hadn't even considered (and which were probably the reason my GP sent me to the specialist in the first place). 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bearing Fruits Worthy of Repentance

The tax collectors and soldiers came to John, listening to his preaching, believing his message, and asking, "What shall we do?"  The answer for all of them was pretty much, "Do your job honestly, without hurting other people."

Now if you were a taxpayer in Judea at that time, whether you believed in the Lord or not, you would derive some benefit from all these people trusting in the Messiah.  These Christians beginning to bear fruits of repentance.  Some of the taxpayers would be collecting only the amount they were supposed to collect. Some of the soldiers would be fair and good.  Certainly not all of them.  And not even these new Christians were sinless.  But some of them were indeed transformed (in part) by the Gospel they believed.

So even before Jesus died,
even before He was miraculously healing people,
even before He was preaching,

already there were some temporal blessings breaking in, like the tiniest little foretaste of what was yet to come.

Wonky Comments Too

So not only has my blog been wonky, but now I see the comments have been wonky too.

No, the comments themselves haven't been.  (My apologies Suzanne, Melanie, Cheryl, Jane in SB, and Karen in MI.  You're not being weirdos at all.  Well, not any more than the likable weirdness that is the norm.)  Something IS up, however, with the comment feature.  Today I noticed that a request for comment moderation was dumped into my spam folder.  That's when I discovered that a whole bunch of other comments were awaiting moderation -- comments from months ago.  Comments that never arrived, not even diverted to the spam folder.  They were simply sucked into a tiny corner of the blogger program.

Well, they have been found and posted.

Settings have been adjusted.  I was moderating comments only because my mom couldn't manage the "Prove you're not a robot" verification.  But Mom's not reading my blog now, so I no longer need to take that into account.

The trick now is to see if I can remember to keep peeking into that little forsaken corner in case of older comments.  And in the meantime, I have to watch for new comments that would hawk lower mortgages, exercise equipment, new roofs, and sexy girlfriends.  (I suspect you want those things just about as much as I do.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lizzy Is Growing

I haven't posted any pictures of Lizzy since she was brand new.  This is from about 3 weeks ago.  Like her momma, she wants to STAND at a ridiculously young age.  Rachel had to put a book under the baby's feet so that she could use her walker.  But now she's grown big enough to reach the floor!