Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wild Swans

Wild Swans.  By Jung Chang. 
Biographies of three women (grandma, mom, and daughter) in 20th-century China.

Foot-binding?  Never realized how torturous and painful it would have been.  I just thought it was about keeping women's feet "small" -- not deformed-small, as in smaller-than-a-1-yr-old's.

Communism wasn't the real problem.  The big problem was Mao's hunger for power and his vengeful spirit.

Some people think anarchy is okay because it's a way to get rid of the entrenched power/authority that is being misused.  But anarchy is destructive to a vast degree.  Furthermore, powerseekers will fill the void.  Reading this book showed me that even bad government is better than no government.

Introversion was a bad bad thing in China.  If you wanted a little solitude, most people interpreted that as cutting yourself off from the masses and thinking you were better than others.  It must be unbearable to know that your need for a little peace and quiet means people see you as arrogant and aloof.

I knew almost nothing about China or Chinese history.  Until a few weeks ago, I'd never heard of the Cultural Revolution:  wreck buildings, ruin libraries, overthrow religion, destroy stuff.  And now, this week's news tells us of a similar destruction in Mosul.

Friday, February 27, 2015

"Because You're Feeble"

I took something to work today, something that is a little heavy and a little clumsy-to-carry.  One of my co-workers said, "Don't you carry that upstairs!"  I asked why not.  "Because you're ... well ... feeble."  I laughed.  I carried it upstairs.  But the comment touched my heart.

I guess I put on a good front as far as healing.  Friends see me go to church.  They know I go to work.  Apparently I look "good as new."  But I'm not.  I'm limited.  I must rest.  It's easy for me to overdo and then end up with repercussions.  Sometimes I am frustrated by offers of "help" to accomplish something, when the Real Help would be a simple acceptance of my "No, I cannot do that."  I have to beat myself up quite enough to say no to commitments (work or fun!); when people question my "no" it's so much harder to stick to my guns about what's necessary for my health.

So it's all warm-&-fuzzy when people at work make allowances, when they occasionally offer to let me do some sit-down work while they stand and wait on customers, when they try to intercept me before I do something that they think might be too much for me.  Mushy though it be, these simple acts make my heart swell with joy and thankfulness!

Doctors and therapists said to give myself at
least a year before I could even begin to expect
be back-to-normal.  And it hasn't been a year yet.
Besides, as I learned in September, it's  important
to allow for "margin."  If I hover Just This Side of
"too much," one mishap shoves me over the edge.
  And that results in pain and illness that I really
don't want to deal with.

Reading Challenge 2015

How to Respond to Eastern Religions -- finished Jan 7
Crunchy Cons, by Dreher -- finished Jan 13

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,  by Aron
Let's Roll, by Beamer
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Light in the Dark Belt: The Story of Rosa Young
Wild Swans, by Chang  -- finished Feb 25
On Being a Theologian of the Cross, by Forde
Holy Housewifery -- finished Jan 17
Pioneer Girl (biography of Laura)

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, by Karon 
Beyond the Mists, by Benchley
Cutting for Stone, by Verghese

Harry Potter
Hammer of God

With Maggie:
Anne of Ingleside -- finished Jan 16
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

Penderwicks -- finished Feb 24
Carry On, Mr Bowditch
On to Oregon
Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules Every Christian Ought to Break

Swallows and Amazon series
or Little House series (again)
or Little Britches series
or Five Little Peppers

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jesus' Works in Psalm 115

Those idols in Psalm 115?  They have eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, mouths that do not speak, noses that do not smell, hands that do not handle, and feet that do not walk.  "Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them." 

I find it fascinating that the Gospels mention Jesus' healing-miracles for every single one of those body-parts.*  He healed cripples and made them to walk.  He gave hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind.  He loosed tongues.  He got into trouble with the Pharisees for fixing the fellow's withered hand that Sabbath day in the synagogue. 

It's almost as if the Man of Faith, who never had an idol in all His life, can even undo the idolatry that is part of our sinful nature.

* Footnote -- Except for noses.  That's
 not explicitly mentioned in the Gospels.
But Jesus did heal lepers, and it's likely
 that such healing fixed rotted noses

Friday, February 20, 2015

Avoiding the Caffeine and Sugar

Doctor told me that I could cut down on a repeat-infection by staying away from coffee, tea, and sugar.  Boo.  Hiss.

I know some of y'all like your coffee black, the way grown-ups drink it.  But I sure do like mine with sugar.  I'm wussy.  Oh, and the tea: Mississippi sweet-tea is too much like Kool-aid for my tastes.  But I sho'nuf do like me some sugar in my tea.  BUT my mommy told me once-upon-a-time that three weeks straight with NO SUGAR in your coffee will teach you to like it black.  She and Dad toughed it out.  And they never wanted to go back to sweetened coffee.  (Or so they said.  Maybe they fibbed?)

Well, I made it for more than three weeks with no sweetener in my beverages.  Not even stevia or honey.  So I can do it.  I don't want to do it.  I want sugar.  Still.  Months later. 

What I discovered, however, is that hot water works for me on par with unsweetened tea and coffee.  Plus, if I want to ratchet-up the flavor of plain old hot water, a little lemon juice or cranberry juice or orange or lime is wunderbar.  Better than unsweetened tea or coffee.

still not as good as tea and coffee with sugar.

Where Was Jesus Baptized?

The Israelites entered the Promised Land when they crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3).  This is not only a historical, geographical fact, it's also a picture/foreshadowing of Christians crossing into heaven after a pilgrimage through the wilderness of life. 

Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.  I always thought that was because [duh] the Jordan River just happened to be the one that was available for John the Baptist.  A simple fact of geography and nothing more.

But it IS more.  We are joined to Him in His death and resurrection (Romans 6).  In His baptism, He takes our sin upon Himself and gives us His righteousness.  This is our entry into the promised land.  Baptism is when the Father says also to us, "This one is My beloved son."

Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.
A simple fact of geography.
And a big, sweet, beautiful theological truth
of what has been
and of what is yet to come.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hooray for Antibiotics!

Avoiding doctors and hospitals is high on my priority list.  If I can cure something with sleep and herbs and garlic instead of with a bottle-of-something-from-Walgreens, I'm gonna try. 

That said, doctors and modern medicine can do aMAZing things!! If it weren't for her surgeons, Maggie wouldn't be alive. If it weren't for my surgeons last spring, I wouldn't be walking, talking, driving, and going to work any more. And just this past week, a granddaughter ended up in the hospital. From a splinter. A lousy little splinter that appeared to been removed easily and cleaned up just fine at the time. A century ago, kiddo may have died from that splinter and ensuing infection and how it was trying to spread. But in 2015, it's [cough] "no big deal." A bit o' minor surgery to clean the wound. Antibiotics pumped straight into her blood. Just one night as an in-patient. And thus Jesus cures her!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

This morning after chapel, last year's palms (from Palm Sunday) were burned to ashes (for the imposition of ashes later today).  There is a rite that goes with this; it's not in the hymnal so I can't find the exact words.  But there's something in there about how ashes show the frailty of our bodies.  "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness like the flowers of the field.  The grass withers; the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it.  The people are grass.  The grass withers...." (Isaiah 40)

Boy, that hits you different after you spent last Eastertide in ICU.  Frail bodies, indeed!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Talking Math

I recently bumped into the oh-so-cool blog "Talking Math with Your Children."

~ Fun stories that let you watch children learn when you don't have little ones to provide such amusement in your own home.

~ Ideas to encourage math-thinking in kids.

~ The importance of using numbers casually in everyday conversation, and how this habit will affect children's math-thinking.

I could waste a lot of time perusing this blog just for funsies!

For now, two quick comments:
First, the author put together an awesome book of shapes where you're supposed to figure out how "one of these things is not like the others; one of these things is not quite the same."  It will work for 3-yr-olds or 50-yr-olds. 

Second, a quote from the blogger:
Many things that you hope to remember, you can remember by encountering them frequently. Tabitha has never sat down with flash cards to memorize her single-digit addition facts. Yet she is in second grade and is starting to feel confident with them.
This is where I get skittish about "classical ed" for math [accepted by some as "Just memorize the factoids already and don't expect the kids to understand what's going on].  Granted, I realize that some kids do fine with "just memorize it and practice enough that you can rattle off the drill, and then later you'll learn to understand."  But some kids don't handle that well!  How this Tabitha learned is the same way most of my children learned their math facts: if you figure it out repeatedly, soon you've accomplished two things.  One: you've learned it, that is, memorized it.  Two: you understand the concept already ... even to the point that, if you should "forget it" some day, you'll easily be able to figure it out quickly.

Now, go play some math!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Can't Stay Clean

Maggie mopped the kitchen floor while I was gone yesterday.

I came home.  Kitty jumped into my lap.  I [shhh!  shhhh!] requested someone to sneak a pair of scissors over to me.  I trimmed knots and lumps out of kitty's fur.  I was careful with gathering the clumps, but still ... it's a hair-trim.  Little bits of fur scattered and drifted.

We don't have toddlers living here.  This must be our version of the rule that milk MUST be spilled on a freshly mopped floor within 17 minutes of the mop drying.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Twelve Minutes

Grandkids were dropped off here on Monday morning.  Katie told me what she'd brought for food and gave me a list of phone numbers. 

No sooner had Mommy and Daddy left than Alia (6 yrs old) tells me that she NeeEEEeeeds a peanut-butter-&-Nutella sandwich.  "It's been TWELVE minutes since I ate breakfast, Nanna.  I am SOooooo hungry!" 

"Twelve minutes?!  Oh my.  Really?!"

"Yes, Nanna.  Twellllve minutes.  I neeeEEEeeed a sandwich!!"   This is, of course, accompanied by elaborate gestures and vocalizations of one nigh onto dying of starvation.

After a bit of this [ahem] bantering, I leave for a minute or so to help Zoe with something.  I come back to the kitchen, and Alia dives in again.  "It's been TWELVE minutes since I ate.  I neeEEEeeed food, Nanna!  I neeEEEEeeed a Nutella sandwich!" 

Please understand that it takes about 7 minutes to drive from their home to ours.  They'd been here for a few minutes already.  Doing a fairly good job of hiding my desire to laugh, I told Alia, "You know, sweetie, twelve minutes ago, I think your parents were already locking the door of your apartment and you were headed down the stairs and out to the car.  I'm not so sure of your timetable on all this." 

A moment of regrouping.

"Nanna, it's been THIRrrrrTEEeeN minutes since I ate.  I'm starving!!  I neeEEEeeed a peanut-butter-&-Nutella sandwich."


Not blogging.  Missing it.

A couple of big snows.  I think we finally (!) have all the snow removed. 

Taxes finished.  Woo hoo!

Maggie's pneumonia is gone.  Colds and general illness in the house aren't plaguing us at the moment.

Babysitting kids more than normal. 

Trying to catch up on schoolwork that was neglected during Dec/Jan illnesses.

Big news: another grandchild on the way.  Yee haw!

New glasses weren't adjusted right and my eyes were all googly-weird until I drove back to the optometrist (wearing the old glasses) a few days later.  Nice to be able to see again.

Book I'm reading is harder than anything I've read since pre-stroke.  But I'm enjoying it.  Biographies of Chinese women in the 1900s.

Starting this week, my work schedule is increasing two hours a week.  May not sound like much to you, but it seems like a humongous step to me.  Also, I have a follow-up with the neurologist soon.

Looked at a house in town this past weekend, thinking a move would give Maggie access to places (church, library, grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, gym, park, possible jobs, etc) without being chauffeured.  Some extra freedom for her.  But the house, a duplex, wasn't okay.  And we have some serious reserves about moving into the village anyway.  At least, the condition of the house made for a no-brainer decision!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Holy Housewifery

It looks like an old-fashioned manual on how to be holier-than-thou.

It's not.

The book is a delightful combination.
If you can look past the occasional references to praying to the saints, you find humor and pretty decent theology.

Imagine a combination of Martin Luther, Matt Harrison, John Kleinig, and Peter Bender -- on topics of vocation and joy and marriage and contentment and suffering and serving-the-neighbor (albeit a bit short on the Gospel).  Stir in a hefty amount of humor similar to Erma Bombeck's (yes!!).  Sprinkle lightly with some Roman Catholic perspective.  

It's a very quick read. 
By Ethel Marbach. 
Published in 1964.