Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Greater Joy

My favorite sympathy card arrived today.  I had the biggest, silliest grin on my face as I read it.  There was nothing silly about the card, but the joy I found in that card was so overwhelming that I couldn't help but laugh with delight.  And pretty soon, as I continued to think on it while washing dishes, my eyes began to tear up. 

In his third epistle John says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth."

My goddaughter quoted a hymn for me.  Only four stanzas because that's all that fit on the back of the card.  "All Christians Who Have Been Baptized ...."  Oh my goodness!  What better hymn when a person faces death -- her own or the death of a loved one? And there were so many awesome bits of her note.

But the best part of all?  The line on the card said, "May friends comfort you, faith uphold you, and loving memories heal your heart."  She crossed out "loving memories" and wrote in "Jesus."

[Oh, shoot.  Now I'm starting to get misty-eyed again.]

She said she didn't like the part about loving memories bringing healing.  So she adjusted the wording. 

John's right.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.

So What Does "Forgiveness" Mean

"Forgive the shooter."  Those were the final words of the man who was shot in a murder spree a couple of weeks ago. 

Charlie Sykes (one of our favorite talk-radio guys in our area) didn't understand.  "How could he say that?  I couldn't do it.  Does that make me a bad Christian?  What does it mean to 'forgive'?!"

"Peter from Sussex" called in with a very good answer.  He got to say a lot.  (The set-up and the conversation with Pastor went from about the 5-min mark to about 13-minutes.)  Then Charlie continued the topic with other callers, as he struggled to understand forgiveness.  Now Charlie should come to Didache.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Passing of a Homeschooling Era

This morning I purchased postage stamps.  The artwork is exemplary.  Half the sheet is full of quotes and history-tidbits. 

And nobody will say, "MOM, let ME see!!"  "No, me first!"  "Wow!"  And my favorite: "You aren't going to put those on letters and send them AWAY, are you?  Do you HAVE to?"

This morning was a huge reminder of a life that's been left behind.

Monday, May 18, 2015

If Your Heart Condemns You

I never noticed how those two verses work in tandem.

John tells us (1 John 3)
If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

A condemning heart? No problem.  God is right and our heart is wrong.
A confident heart?  Again -- no problem. 

John isn't giving us a message of "Buck up and stop letting your heart condemn you, you pitiful weakling of a doubter."  Quite the contrary.  John says, "No matter how you feel, no matter what kind of accusations the devil hurls at you, Jesus' forgiveness takes care of it all and we are safe in Him."

It sure is great to have somebody who can point these things out to me ... even though it seems so obvious now that I wonder how I never saw it before.

Friday, May 15, 2015


A 2014 movie set in the 1700s in British society.  Rated PG.  A biracial girl is being raised by her dad's uncle and aunt.  Who is prejudiced, and who pretends not to be?  Beautiful costumes and scenery.  Awesome acting.  Based on a true story.  Plot covers the biographical aspect of Dido and her family, as well as the legal aspect of slavery in Britain.

Rachel told me she knew I'd want to see this.  Boy, she was right!  After she loaned me her Netflix DVD and I returned it, I left the movie on my Netflix queue so I can see it again.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blessed Are the Dead Who Die in the Lord

My mom died last weekend.  It so happened to be exactly 25 years after the death of my goddaughter.  Funeral and burial were this week.

Random thoughts:

Mom's family is awesome.  I have the funnest cousins in the world, and some mighty nifty uncles and aunts.

When my daughter-in-law saw a picture of Mom (in a swimsuit) in her late teens (one of the photos that Dad took with him when he went off to his military stint), Mandy said, "Paul, your grandma was a fox!"  For some reason, Paul did not appreciate this perspective.

The nurses in the oncology dept are superb.  Is it because they're more used to people dying?  Or maybe it's just the individual nurses we happened to encounter.  In my opinion, they outshone the nurses on other floors.

I'm impressed by the funeral home.  They're not "slick."  They have been genuine and helpful and kind.

Boy oh boy, I heard over and over and over from visitors how nice Mom was, how sweet, how they'd never met anyone so kind.  (Yup.  Pretty good assessment, that's for sure.)

I guess I'd never realized (until talking with Pastor while making funeral arrangements) that Mom didn't really have any hobbies.  She was at church for everything.  She invested a lot of time in her family.  She had her job.  And other than that, she helped people.  She didn't have time for hobbies and interests: she was too busy providing assistance others.

We didn't eat ham-buns at the funeral dinner.  (The funeral was obviously not in Wisconsin.)  County Market makes phenomenal chicken.  Delicious call on my sister's part to go with the chicken instead of the sandwiches.  Mmm mmm mmm.

Isn't it amazing that God gives pastors who will minister to those who are sick and dying?  Men who will come even when it's past their bedtime.  Men who keep coming back, even if there be no visible response from the member.  But still they come with the gospel of forgiveness of sins.  Thanks be to God.

My brother pointed out that, when the funeral home came to pick up Mom, she did not moan or grimace or cry out in pain.  Every time somebody had moved her for the previous 3+ weeks, it had been excruciating for her.  No more.  "And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes....  There shall be no more pain."

Death cannot destroy forever.  
From our fears, cares, and tears 
it will us deliver....  

Lord, my Shepherd, take me to Thee.  
Thou are mine.  I was Thine 
even e'er I knew Thee.  
I am Thine for Thou hast bought me.  
Lost I stood, but Thy blood 
free salvation brought me.  TLH 523

ADD footnote:
For certain of you who object to the word "funnest," I'll have you know that the computer did NOT flag that word as a misspelling or grammar-oops.  So HA.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Advent Wreath

A friend of mine does gorgeous wood-working.  He's been turning his hobby into a small business.  Look at some of the things he's made.

The Advent wreath is in the shape of a cross.  It can hold tapers or the little votive candles.  (I can find votives in purple and pink much easier than I can find tapers.  So I prefer the little glass globes for the stumpy candles.)

The Christmas-tree ornaments are delicately worked and make a full nativity set.  When I saw them on the Christmas tree at church, I coveted them.  When a set went up for sale at our school's annual fund-raising auction, we were lucky enough to get a set for ourselves.  Woo hoo!

Matt's website isn't fully set up yet.  But for those of you who know us, the website will give you enough information that you would know how to contact him if you want to purchase something to be crafted over summer for gift-giving next fall/winter.  For those who will be attending symposium, there may be some of these beauties for sale there; there were last year, at least.  For those of you who don't know us, there's information on the website about a craft booth in Spring Green.  (He doesn't know that I've bragged about him here in public, and I'm not finding information online.  So there's nothing for me to point you to, for easy-breezy ordering information.  If there's something you'd be interested in, you'd just have to write or call and start asking questions.)

Friday, May 08, 2015


Things continued to go downhill for my mom.  Two weeks after her fall, there was a precipitous decline, but somehow she managed to live through it.  We enrolled her in in-hospital hospice.  Her gazillion meds were discontinued.  Not long after that, she was awake and aware and discussing with my brother that she agrees it's time to stop all these life-extending measures. 

She's been 10 days without dialysis now.  She's not eating.  Mom is dying slowly.  At one point, someone reminded her about going to be with Jesus, and she asked plaintively, "What's taking Him so long?" 

The hospital lost her hearing aid.  That's sad.  When you wish for her to be able to hear many times "I love you" and "Jesus loves you and forgives you and cherishes you," she struggles to hear.  Last time I was there, she kept reaching for the volume-control on her hearing aid, trying to turn up the sound, and she couldn't find it.  Nevertheless, God will be faithful to His promises to her.

Every wound that pains or grieves me
by Thy stripes, Lord, is made whole.
When I'm faint Thy cross revives me,
granting new life to my soul.
Yea, Thy comfort renders sweet
every bitter cup I meet,
for Thine all-atoning passion
has procured my soul's salvation.   (TLH 144:3)


The doctor has been telling me all along, "You're still healing.  You have to give yourself a full year."

Okay.  It's been a year now.

Changes to learn to live with:
~ sciatica
~ need for an extra two hours of sleep per night
~ headaches when I overdo
~ a perpetual infection that needs to be kept to a minimum
~ introversion has been greatly magnified
~ walking slower 
~ easier to get rashes and sunburn
~ fuzzy-brainedness (that irritates Gary when I complain of it because he says I still have a better memory and thinking ability than most people ... which doesn't make it any easier for me to adjust to)

BUT ...
I'm talking, driving, going to work, and able to do pretty much whatever I did before (except that I must do So Much Less of it.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mom's Escapades

When a frail woman's walker meets a snag on the parking lot, at the same time a gust of wind pushes at her, the results are not happy. 

My mom fell last week.  She was unresponsive.  The trauma team's first concern was the bleeding in her head.  Second concern was getting her on dialysis.  They finally got around to a feeding tube, both for nutrition and some critical daily medicine that's available orally but not for IV's.  For the first few days there were some brief periods of mumbled speech and quasi-awareness.  But after three days she finally began to wake up.  That's also how long it took us to convince the doctors to take x-rays to check for a broken hip. "Our first concern is the head trauma."  Right, guys.  And that's been stabilized, so quit poo-pooing her excruciating pain and check for broken bones.

After two days of her "being here" again, delirium set in.  My brother finally convinced the doctors to treat the infection she had begun prior to the fall, the infection which was the reason for taking Mom out to the doctor last week, which was when she fell. 

Mom is lucid again and has improved enough to leave ICU.

At one point last week, when she was first beginning to wake up and there was great pain from being repositioned, Mom said, "Jesus died for me.  That's all that matters.  He died for me.  That's the big thing."  Yes.

And when I was remarking on her doozy of a black eye, I suggested that she looked like she'd been in a fight.  "A fight with the sidewalk," she mumbled.  Yes.  I agreed.  Mom quipped, "The sidewalk won."  Ah, a sense of humor peeking out from behind all those injuries!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Report

Strawberry bed is under control.  It did not receive necessary attention last summer, so it was thinned-with-a-vengeance in the last couple of weeks.  Soil somewhat loosened, without threatening the roots of remaining plants.  A couple inches of compost applied.  I have Good Intentions (TM) of treating the bed properly after the plants bear this year.

Last year's dead vines have been burned to a small pile of ash.  That was no simple feat, but it has been accomplished.

Gary cleaned out the dead asparagus leftover from last year.  I really should get out there and till a bit, before the new growth begins to pop up.  It's weedy.

A bunch of last year's leaves have been piled deep on one of the raised beds, with potatoes planted [today] in those nice loose leaves.  I've been seeing good results in both growth and harvesting when the potatoes aren't buried in dirt.  I topped the humongous pile of leaves with some of that lovely old compost, partly to encourage the leaves to compost down, but mostly to keep the leaves from blowing away. 

I took some of that spare compost and filled in the big hole by my clothesline.  After septic-line repairs last fall, the soil has settled badly.  I planted a bit of grass seed there.  And I laughed at the oddball spots the tulips are popping up after last fall's visit from the backhoe and the whole dirt-rearrangement scheme.

Lots of pruning to do -- fruit trees, berries, grapes.
Still need to get a bed ready for lettuces.
Lots more outdoor work awaits, but I'm trying to prioritize tasks and to limit how much I allow myself to do.  Can't overtire because of the repercussions to health.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jam-Packed Parking Lots

Menards, on the first lovely, warm, springy weekend-day after a long Wisconsin winter

rivals the parking lot of

a Walmart on the Saturday before Christmas.

People checking out with rakes,
building materials,
landscaping paraphenalia,
bushes or seeds to plant,
and anything else to do with OUTDOORS.