Sunday, December 31, 2006

How Did Simeon Know?

"And it had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple."

I had always thought of that in a mystic sort of way, that somehow the Holy Spirit gave Simeon a "feeling" or implanted an idea in his head. But a year or so ago, I noticed something in the previous chapter. Everybody knew what had happened with Zachariah and Elizabeth. They all knew that something was up with that baby. They knew that Zachariah had seen an angel while he was ministering at evening prayer. They knew that he was mute until he prophesied at John's circumcision. The rumor mill was not silent; Mary told Luke not only about the events of John's birth, but also that it was the talk of the town, and Luke recorded it under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So I figured that Simeon knew that the Messiah was due "pretty soon."

But then Pastor pointed out that John's birth wasn't the only grist for the rumor mill. The shepherds told gobs of people what had happened when Jesus was born.

So Simeon didn't need some weird feeling from God to make him go to the temple that day. He'd heard the news. He'd heard the reports. If he himself hadn't heard the preaching of the shepherds, he heard the scuttlebutt from those who did. Baby boys were presented on the 40th day. If you wanted to see the Messiah, and you'd heard what happened with Zachariah, and then heard what happened to the shepherds, it'd sure be easy enough to count up the days on the calendar and thus know when you could find Mary and Joseph at the temple.

Simeon was not an Enthusiast!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Unschooling Article

The Chicago Sun-Times recently ran an article on unschooling that is just great! I found it amusing that one of the parents used the term "factoids" like I do. What I thought was weird was the one unschooling dad who said, "We don't know that children are innately curious." Good grief, what children has he been observing? Granted, children's curiosity can be thwarted and squashed, but they are innately curious.

Hail, Highly Favored Lady

Driving to church on Sunday afternoon, I was looking for something on the radio. When I hit the pre-set button for NPR, the first carol that came on was "Gabriel's Message" (LSB 356), not exactly what I expected from NPR, but very welcome! It fit well with Sunday morning's Gospel.

Gabriel called Mary "highly favored one" and said she was blessed among women. When Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, she too called Mary "blessed among women."

What does it mean to be "highly favored"? Some of my friends almost make it sound like there was something special about Mary, something different, that caused God to choose her to be the Mother of Our Lord. Or if not that, maybe God made her into something special, something different, so that she could be His mother.

But what if Mary really was "just like us"? What if she really was just as much a sinner as I am? Like Pastor says, "favored" is grace-language. Isn't is possible that the title "highly favored one" is due not to what she was in her own person (with or without God's help) but rather due to what He declared her to be and because of the copious amounts of grace He was going to be showering upon her over the next 30+ years?

But if "highly favored" isn't about Mary's self, then you have to start wondering where the favor is. Surely it's not something as self-centered as being "famous" and that we all know about her. Instead, there were the realities of life she had to face when her family suspected that she been behaving sleezily, and then when she was on the run as a refugee, and then when she was tagged as the mother of a rabble-rouser -- that's not the kind of "favor" from God that most of us covet.

Gabriel calls her highly favored. Elizabeth calls her blessed. And Simeon says that a sword will pierce her soul. Personally, I suspect I'd tell God that I didn't want that kind of favor or blessing. Who needs pain and suffering? Who wants to be the outcast? Who wants to have her soul pierced?

And yet, maybe that's where the favor is found.

Maybe she is "highly favored" because she was appointed for a very difficult life, a life full of suffering, and that she would have a soul pierced in a way that she'd never choose for herself. When we suffer, we're driven to depend upon Jesus in a way that we never would otherwise. When our soul is pierced, He binds us up.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12)

Maybe the "high favor" and the "blessedness" of Mary is the great measure of grace she received, commensurate with the sufferings she endured in being the mommy of Jesus. As much as we all hate suffering, would we actually choose to trade the comfort of the Absolution for something "easy"? Jesus said of a different Mary, "She loved much, for she was forgiven much." Maybe that's also related to the anfechtung that His mom would endure. Maybe the "high favor" was that the Blessed Virgin just needed to receive more of the Gospel, more of God's love, more of His support, more of His forgiveness, to continue living out the life she was called to as the Mother of Our Lord.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Alpha and the Omega

My husband has spent the last year listening to the Bible read aloud on CD. He mostly listens while he's driving. He's near the end. So last night, on our way to church for the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist, he asked if we could listen to Revelation for his first time through that CD. That made a very interesting juxtaposition of readings. The first reading at church was from Revelation 1. The epistle was 1 John 1, and the Gospel was John 21. Oodles of John last night!

After spending the last year going through Leviticus on Thursday mornings, it surprised me how much of Leviticus (the priestly garments, the tabernacle furnishings and sacrifices) showed up in Revelation that I'd never noticed before.

It's also interesting to think of what it was that John was seeing and then trying to describe with words that just weren't adequate for the task. If one cannot describe the indescribable, just what does the indescribable look like??

Listening to the whole book read in one big swoop, I also noticed how often Jesus refers to Himself as the "Alpha and Omega." I had always thought of that simply as the "first and the last," the "beginning and the end." Maybe it was because of last night's sermon, and the emphasis on the Word, the testimony, the witness, the preaching... but whatever it was, it made me realize that Jesus' being the Alpha and the Omega has to do not just with starts and finishes, but also with the alphabet. If He is "A to Z," that means all words, all sentences, all writing, all speech, all words, proceed from Him. (Of course, that doesn't contradict the reality that we can pervert words and use them against His will. But without Him, there could be no words.)

"This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

Picking Up

Sometimes it gets to the point that the kids just can't pick up when the mother tells them to. They go to the bedroom. They make an attempt. But nothing really gets accomplished. Not quite understanding why this is, the mother then sits on the bed, giving instructions, micro-managing the kid's way through the picking-up chore.

Ah. Then the mother discovers why "picking up" has not resulted in a "picked-up room" for the last month or so.

Why is it that we must keep candy wrappers under the bed or in the sock drawer instead of putting them in the garbage can? If a person were to actually go to the trouble to PICK UP the candy wrapper and "put it away" in a sock drawer, mightn't it just have been easier to drop it in the waste can that's right there?

Why is it that receipts for the last several candy bars are being stowed away in the jewelry box? Now, stowing chocolate itself in the jewelry box... that I can understand: it's valuable stuff. But the receipts?

Why is it that a person can helpfully be making orange juice for the family, and manage to leave the lid of the frozen-concentrate jar on the counter rather than dropping it in the garbage can, when the garbage can is easier to access than was the place the lid got left?

Why is it that doll clothes were "put away" by being moved from the middle of the dresser-top to a corner of the dresser-top, when the doll-clothes bucket was right there handy?

Why is it that when you tell a child to "put away" the ponytail bands, they get shoved into the right drawer, but the child does not take the extra half a second to put them in the right spot in that drawer?

This is not rocket science.
This is not stuff that hasn't already been explained repeatedly.

There must be some magnetic frequency running through our house, pushing Stuff away from its proper storage location.

Well, back to the micro-managing....

Christmas Reflections

It's fun to have a big group of people singing Happy Birthday to a little girl in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas afternoon.

I don't recall any previous Christmas with so much Nerf weaponry and light sabres. PEACE on earth??

We bought altogether too many DVDs with TV series and movies. The comedies should help us laugh our way through the dismal days of February when the sun refuses to shine.

When I went to town today, there wasn't a single Christmas tree out on the curb for garbage pick-up. Either people are keeping their trees up past the 25th, or nobody has real trees anymore. I'm hoping that the lack of curbside trees at least somewhat indicates people may be continuing the celebration on into Christmastide.

Karaoke is harder than it looks. I thought I knew those country pop songs. But when I have to sing lead without the printed music in front of me, I flop. (At least I'm embarrassing myself in the privacy of my own home!) I wonder where I can get TLH or LSB hymns for karaoke? ;-)

I hear tell that some people get stressed out by a house full of company. Boy, I think it's a blast! It may not be quiet, but it's fun! Or maybe it's just that the people who descend upon our house are such joys to be with!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Sermon

You may wish to read Pastor Petersen's Christmas Eve sermon which expresses appreciation for the secularization of the holiday.

My "Eve" Pet Peeve

According to Genesis 1, the day begins at sundown, goes through the night, through the daylight hours, and ends at sunset. That's why the Jewish sabbath begins at Friday sunset. That's why we begin celebrating Easter at the Vigil on Saturday after sundown. That's why Christmas Eve is the evening of the 24th.

But we get all out of kilter because we know October 31st as Halloween. The evening of the 31st is the eve of All Hallows Day (also known as All Saints Day, November 1). And so the misconception has spread. We talk about "Christmas Eve Day" and "New Years Eve Day."

But the one that really struck me as funny was the sign at the Evangelical Free Church in town today. "New Years Eve Service -- 10 a.m." Ten in the morning. What part of evening do they not understand?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Veiled in Flesh

I love having distribution hymns during communion.

This evening, just as the pastor was holding up the host before my eyes, preparing to place it into my mouth, the congregation was singing, "Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see." Think of that: he's holding God in his hand, about to put God into my mouth, and I can see it with my eyeballs. "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see."

And then, as we're singing "Hail the incarnate deity," the deacon is pouring the enfleshed deity from the chalice into my mouth.

How come God so often sees fit to bless me with that kind of timing at the communion rail? It is just so cool!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Welcome to the Family?

Shame on me.... telling funny, embarrassing tales on my nephew.

A bunch of my Illinois family was here yesterday and today, celebrating Christmas and visiting. After supper was all cleaned up, Nathan (my good buddy and now also my son-in-law) and I went to town to do my paper route. While we were gone, one of the boys was given the job of passing out gift-envelopes from Grandpa and Grandma. When we got home, my nephew comes up to me and Nathan and hands us our envelopes.

Josh says to Nathan, "I'm not sure why you get one of these."

Nathan was sitting near Matt (the boyfriend of my other daughter) and noticed that Matt had an envelope from my folks too. So Nathan pointed this out to Joshua.

Joshua responded, "Well, HE's Rachel's boyfriend."

Nathan pointed out that he was Katie's husband.

"Yeah. So?"

Apparently, Matt's popularity with the little kids counts for more than wedding rings and a marriage license and God's pronouncement. LOL! My mom says that we're stuck with Matt now, because the cousin's have no intention of letting him go. Matt is as popular with the kids as is my cousin Eric -- and that is no small feat.

Well, I guess I'm about as popular with the kids as Nathan is. Maybe that's why he and I are such good friends. :-)

Friday, December 22, 2006


The rejoicing should be commencing. The days are now getting longer, or so the scientists tell us. This normally brings much relief to the females of this family. (And hence, it brings a secondary form of relief to the males of this family. Let the reader understand.) Yes, it's true, as Dave says, that winter's cold has barely begun. But the sun is headed north again!

If there is still a sun.

It's been raining and dark here for the last 42 hours. I guess we have to take it on faith that there's still a sun up there, behind the clouds, on the other side of the constant rain. (Not that I'm complaining about rain! Oh no! There's been too much drought for too long to be complaining of rain! Is it too much to ask, though, to have rain AND sunshine at the same time? Oh. Yeah. I guess it is.... But I digress.)

Maggie, having been sprung from confinement, hit up the library yesterday. She brought home a video of The Silver Chair. There's the scene where the witch is trying to convince Rillian and the kids that there is no sun, that it's just a figment of their imagination. Kinda funny thing to be watching on the shortest day of the year, especially when the brightest part of the whole day was about as luminescent as 4:30 a.m. in June.

But in spite of the darkness, we have light. We have the light that makes me happy in a shallow sort of way: too many natural light light-bulbs wasting electricity. And we have the Light that brings real and non-shallow joy. For Advent, I've been trying to teach my minions children the Phos Hilaron. "Joyous light of glory of the immortal Father; heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ. We have come to the setting of the sun, and we look to the evening light. We sing to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever. O Son of God, o Giver of Life: the universe proclaims Your glory." The canticle goes so well with lighting Advent candles in the evening. And it just thrills the heart to think of how vividly the Easter Vigil's canticles will hit the ear after having made a habit of singing the Phos Hilaron at sundown.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You Know You're _____ When...

You know you're old when the popular "retro toys" of the Christmas season are things that were brand new (or not even available yet) when you were already grown up.

You know you're a country girl when the kids say "P.U. I smell something that stinks; it must be pigs," and you say, "No! That's cows, not pigs! Cows don't stink. Can't you tell the difference?!?"

You know you're getting grinchy when you wonder if you'll bother to take the time to decorate for Christmas ten years hence.

You know you're giving up too much privacy online when your own children read your blog and thus know which packages under the tree hold underwear.

You know you're forgetful when you had a lot more of these items that you'd planned to write, but you can't remember them by the time you get your hands on the computer.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hospital Update - 14

The x-rays this morning were much better. Last week's x-rays showed two of the three lobes of Maggie's left lung collapsed, and the top lobe starting to go. This week, the top two lobes look good, and only the bottom lobe is still collapsed. This has resulted in much less shoulder pain for Maggie, as well an increase in her appetite. She's still not eating much, but she's eating a whole lot more than the nothing she was nibbling at last week.

The doctor says she's allowed to go to Sunday School and sing in the Christmas program. He said singing would be good for her, and that we should continue the coughing and the balloon-blowing and the percussing on her chest. He assured her that this problem wouldn't cause her to be hospitalized on Christmas. But he stressed that she still has a lot of work to do to inflate that bottom lobe of the lung. And I think her motivation to work hard on her breathing exercises just flew out the window. That means I'm really going to have to be the mean naggy mommy who oversees every moment of the lung exercises.

We go back in two weeks. On Tuesday we see the ENT who did her palate surgery. On Thursday we do more x-rays to check out the progress on her lung.

DVDs at Borders

What a deal!
Usually the best coupon or sale-price you can get on DVDs at Borders is 20% off. Even the employees can't get more than that on their best Employee Appreciation Days. But right now, for Tuesday and Wednesday only, Borders is offering a coupon that permits 40% off DVD boxed sets. One coupon per customer per day. There are some things we've wanted but didn't want to pay for. Now, at 40% off, it puts those items on the wish-list into reach.

Hoover Savvy

I bought a Hoover Savvy vacuum cleaner in April. It has "wind tunnel technology." It is in for repairs under warranty for the FOURTH time right now. Each time has been over a week. This time it will be at least two weeks before I can pick it up. Last time it was in for repairs, I finally gave up and bought a Panasonic. The Panasonic is used when the Hoover is being repaired and will be there in April when the warranty runs out on the Hoover. I can keep using the Hoover (if and when it's operable) for 5 more months. But I am not going to pay for repairs every six weeks once my warranty runs out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Long Lines

No, not at the grocery store or Best Buy. Not long lines turning left out of the mall's parking lot.

A long line for the confessional. This evening, I had to wait more than half an hour for my turn to go to private confession. That's happened before, but usually it's prior to a Lenten service. Such lines are not common in LCMS churches. It is such an incredible blessing to have to wait in line, though, knowing that your brothers and sisters value this Word of Absolution as dearly as you do yourself!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Collapsed Lung

The doctor suggested on Thursday that Maggie blow up balloons. Those little exercise machines are boring to use. Coughing (as a lung exercise) isn't any more fun. But balloons ... ah! The doctor said blowing up balloons always used to be recommended for helping the lungs after surgery. But nowadays balloons are dangerous and evil; they aren't allowed in the hospital because it would be a choking hazard. So we bought 12 dozen balloons on the way home from the hospital on Thursday.

Maggie has to blow up each balloon over and over, until it's too easy to expand, 3-5 times per balloon. I just figured the balloons would get thrown away after that, but nooooooo. Someone decided these balloons needed to be tied up and saved for playing with. When the living room floor had been entirely taken over by balloons, the plan morphed. Balloons were conjoined into tetrahedrons, pyramids, and cubes. Eventually all balloon configurations became cubic, simply because more could be jammed into a smaller space that way. But eventually the living room floor was being obscured by Balloon Cubic-Art. Someone else came up with a new notion: stacking them. The squareness of the configurations allowed the sections to interlock and stack. So we then had towers of red and yellow balloons, like stalagmites growing out of the carpet. Someone posited that we forego the Christmas tree this year, and simply decorate a balloon-tower or two. Youngest child recognized that the ornament hooks might possibly "do in" a balloon tower prior to Epiphany. So we knuckled under to the power of tradition and bought a tree anyhow.

Unfortunately, by this time of the season, there's not a lot of choice left at the cut-your-own farms. Andrew and I chose a tree that had a decent shape and was as short as we wanted. Boy, it was prickly! I'm used to the firs I had been growing on the north side of the property. But my homegrown firs have all been used up for Christmases past, and now I have to pay someone else for a tree. This one was a spruce. It was so pokey and sharp that we used leather work gloves while stringing the lights.

One of the kids asked on Friday night what we were going to do with ALL these balloons. I had said that I never intended for them to be tied, but rather that they just be thrown away flat. So we'd probably just get a pin and bust them when we were sick of having balloons everywhere. After finishing up altar-guild duty at church today, I arrived home to find children thowing balloon configurations at the tree. The needles are so sharp that they instantly pop the balloons. And it's really cool to throw six balloons at the tree, all tied together, and hear the pop-pop-popping as the branches snag those balloons. The kids say it sounds like a machine gun. If we keep throwing balloons at the tree and leaving broken bits of red latex on the tree, maybe we won't have to hang the traditional ornaments....

This stunt could end up in family legend with the delightfully noisy time the kids got to ride bikes over yards and yards of big fat bubble-wrap.

Leviticus 26

We've been going through Leviticus all year for Thursday morning Bible study. Pastor is just tickled with Kleinig's commentary on the book. One of the things Pastor has been harping on repeatedly is how the "law" is not just a moral code, but is mostly about the sacrificial system and the ordering of the worship in the tabernacle. So when Jesus "fulfills the law," it's not just that He was a good boy, but that everything in the Torah is about Him -- the altar, the incense, the priest's garments, the blood, the mercyseat, the veil, the lampstand, the lambs, the doves -- everything points to Him and His atonement for sin.

The moral code is important too. But Pastor has repeatedly made the point that the "law" (as in, the Torah) spends so much more time on how sin is atoned for than it spends on how to "be good."

Pastor took us to Daniel 9 in connection with Lev 26. At Sinai, God was telling His people to be faithful. If they weren't faithful, thus-and-so is what would happen to them. And it was exactly what happened to them -- both their sin and the consequences of it. It sounds almost like you're reading a history of Israel in the past tense. So 1000 years later, Daniel is sitting in Babylon, reading his Bible and meditating upon it, and sees what God spoke through Moses way back when. So Daniel repents and fasts, and he prays in accord with the words of Leviticus.

Daniel prays: "Cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate" which reminds one of the phraseology of Psalm 80. Then he goes on, reminding Yahweh of the promises of Lev 26:40ff. "O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act!" (I just love that triple "O Lord." You'd almost be tempted to think that the OT Christians believed in the Trinity or something....)

And then Pastor took us to 2 Corinthians 12, about how knowing our weakness is good for us, and how His forgiving grace is the only strength we need. In Lev 26, we read about the chastening that God would provide when the people became stiff-necked and rebellious. In Daniel 9, we read about the same thing, after the fact. And in Corinthians, we read that the chastening is something in which to rejoice, because it calls us to repentance and it is there where we (like Daniel) encounter God's mercy.

So when I looked at the very last verse of Lev 26, where it says "These are the statutes and judgments and laws," I wondered "WHAT are the statutes and judgments and laws?" The moral code? The ten commandments? The promise of punishment? Or might the judgment be intimately tied in with verses 44-45: that God will be gracious and merciful to His people for the sake of His promise EVEN THOUGH they/we are scumbags.

Then, to top it all off, the psalm for the next morning was 102, reinforcing all those points from Bible class the day before.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cooking Lessons

A child is called into the kitchen to slice apples with the cool tool that the kids love to use. She has a hard time placing the apples on the tines straight, so that the corer cuts out the core instead of the good part of the apple.

Lesson the child learns? If you can't get the apple on straight, the machine often breaks the apple into big chunks instead of slicing it nicely.

Lesson the mom learns? If you have to cut cores out of already-sliced apples, it would've been easier to do it yourself.

A child is making the topping for Apple Betty. He needs to measure the brown sugar. What's left in the container "looks about right." So he asks the mother. She says it's not enough and that he needs to open the new bag to get more sugar. So he dumps the contents of the container into the melted butter and proceeds to open the new bag of sugar.

Lesson the child learns? Once you've dumped sugar into a liquid, it is very hard to measure the sugar to know how much is there, and how much more you need.

Lesson the mom learns? Sometimes it's easier to do it yourself.

The child who is neglecting to measure the sugar plops the tightly packed brown sugar into a bowl of melted butter.

Lesson the child learns? Throwing a huge clump of brown sugar into melted butter surprisingly causes the melted butter to splash violently out of the bowl. (Who'da thunk it?)

Lesson the mom learns? Sometimes it's easier to do it yourself.

Now, how does the mom unlearn the lesson that her children so thoroughly taught her today? Because if she doesn't unlearn her lesson, the children will never get a chance to make more mistakes and eventually learn to do it right.

Oh, but melted butter splashed all over.....

No Room in the Inn

I had always thought of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem and finding an overcrowded city, so that there was no room available for them. But Pastor has pointed out the last year or two that Bethlehem was the place Joseph's family was from. The reason Mary & Joseph were there was because it was time for Joseph's family to be registered in the census. It wasn't necessarily strangers who were refusing a pregnant Mary a place to stay. It was the extended family. And it's very likely they were disgusted with the behavior of Mary & Joseph, not wanting to countenance the apparent adultery between the two that resulted in Mary's huge tummy.

He came to His own, and His own received Him not.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hospital Update - 13

We took Maggie to cardiology for her follow-up visit today.

The good news is that her "conduit" (the new pulmonary artery) is working perfectly, according to the doctor.

The bad news, though, is that the bottom 2/3 of her left lung is collapsed. This explains the weird pain in her shoulder. I'm wondering if it might also explain the serious lack of appetite.

The x-rays from her next-to-last day in the hospital showed some lung problem. It was a little bit increased the day we took her home. She was given instructions on how to use the spirometer to exercise her lungs. She was told to cough a lot. She was told to take deep breaths. But she didn't. It hurt to do so, so she just didn't. I would remind her to use the spirometer, but she would use it for a brief time and then put it down when I wasn't looking. The x-ray today was far far worse than the x-ray from two weeks ago.

The doctor explained to Maggie that there's nothing he can do to help her. There's nothing her parents can do to help her. SHE has to do this. SHE has to cough and blow up balloons and exercise with the spirometer. He also explained to her that neglect to exercise her lungs will lead to pneumonia and possibly spending Christmas in the hospital. That certainly got her attention. I think she made herself cough about every 2-3 miles on the way home. Good!

Doctor is skeptical of the likelihood that the rash was a penicillin reaction. But he had no other explanation. A late reaction to the meds is pretty rare, but neither is it impossible.

We asked about the hypernasality (the change in her voice after surgery, with her voice coming out her nose again instead of out her mouth). He suggested we go back to ENT who did her palate surgery and get his opinion. Another appointment....

We also noticed at pre-op that her scoliosis is worsening. We should have taken her to the osteopath prior to surgery, but it didn't cross my mind. Now we have to wait another 2-3 months for an adjustment to her spine. Can't very well have a doctor yanking bones around and popping vertebrae into place when the breastbone is still knitting itself back together. So I hope the scoliosis doesn't worsen too much in the next few months.

Maggie asked about going to Sunday School, in hopes of still getting to sing with the rest of the kids for the Christmas program. But because of the likelihood of contracting pneumonia, she is stuck in her confinement for another week. We have to go back to the hospital on Tuesday for more x-rays, looking for improvement or worsening.

Suuuuuure We Communicate Here

We're having company on Friday night. Rachel's boyfriend's family is coming over. Sounds good. At Didache on Monday night, Rachel (my oldest daughter) and Matt (her boyfriend) invited Katie (my second daughter) to join us on Friday night for the festivities. It was naturally assumed by all involved that of course Nathan (Katie's husband) is also invited. So at lunch yesterday, the conversation got convoluted. If anybody ever wanted to see an action plan for How Rumors Start, he ought to observe our family communicate for a while.

Mom to Dad: Rachel and Matt invited Katie to come on Friday night.

Kid #6 to Mom: What about Nathan?

Mom to kid #6: I don't know. What about Nathan?

Kid #6: Why can't Nathan come?

Mom to kid #6: Who said Nathan can't come?

Kid #5 (around the corner in another room): Nathan can't come????

Mom to kid #5: Who said Nathan can't come?

Kid #5: WHY can't Nathan come?

Mom: Nobody said Nathan can't come! They didn't invite Nathan on Monday night because Nathan wasn't there at class to invite. They invited Katie, and she will...

Kid #6 (interrupting Mom): They didn't invite Nathan??

Mom: They didn't talk to Nathan on Monday because Nathan wasn't at class. That doesn't mean he's not allowed to come with Katie.

Kid #4 (relishing the chance to tweak younger people): Nathan wasn't at class. That means he didn't come.

Kid #6: WHY can't Nathan come??

Mom to kid #6: Nathan didn't come on MONDAY night. He can come on Friday night.

Dad (joining in with kid #4's tweaking): Why can't Nathan come?

And so forth and so on. After all this, some of us were laughing hard enough that there were tears in our eyes. We finally managed to get a grip on ourselves, breathe deeply, get everybody straightened out on the Monday night situation as well as the Friday night invitations, and start clearing the table.

So, after church on Wednesday, we're sitting around eating cheesecake ... as well as fighting with cardboard boxes in an attempt to overpower their newfangled technology. Rachel proceeds to tell us that Matt invited his brother Greg for Friday night too. And she invited Katie. End of statement.

Mom: You invited Katie. Matt invited Greg. Uh, Matt IS aware, isn't he?, that Katie is married? We don't need to set her up with his brother.

Rachel: I didn't say that!

Mom: Sure sounded like it to me. You've got two people inviting two other people of the opposite sex. Sounds like attempted matchmaking. But Katie's already taken.

Rachel: What's with the matchmaking?? There's no matchmaking. Nathan is coming on Friday night.

Kid #4 (still tweaking): Who says Nathan is coming on Friday? I thought Nathan wasn't coming.

Kid #5: Wait! Nathan isn't coming? But I thought you said he WAS!

Rachel: Yes, Nathan is coming.

Dad (still tweaking): But did you invite him on Monday night?

Rachel: No, he wasn't there.

Mom (tweaking too): See, he wasn't there. You didn't invite him.

Kid #6: WHY didn't you invite Nathan?

Mom (still tweaking): I think we should invite Nathan so he knows what's going on.

By this point, most of us from the lunch conversation are laughing uproariously, while Rachel is getting more and more confused. We proceeded to explain how the earlier conversation had gone, and how her comments just re-ignited the whole thing, along with geniune confusion on the part of the youngest member of the family.

They say good families communicate.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

OCD Jogging

While Maggie was in the hospital, I skipped jogging eight times in a week and a half. After that, especially with the cold air and the cloudy & foggy days, it is SO hard to make myself go out and jog.

It's like I have failed if I skip exercise just one day. One transgression seems to give me "permission" to skip again, since I've already failed. The same thing happens with washing dishes, or prayers, or dusting, or the kids' math. Something similar happens with horizontal surfaces after the living room is cleaned. The end table and the coffee table and the buffet will stay clean for a while ... until one person puts one item there, and then it's like everybody has permission to leave mugs and socks and books and pencils and drawings on that particular horizontal surface.

It seems like maybe I'm beginning to learn that a person can keep starting over, and that one failure does not mean that we will be forever consigned to ditching family prayers or jogging or vacuuming or whatever. There's also the benefit of harnessing that obsessive-compulsive tendency. If I know that allowing myself to skip jogging today means that I will be giving myself an excuse to skip jogging every day for the rest of the week, that gives me more incentive to discipline the flesh and do what needs to be done NOW.

Harry-and-David Boxes

We received a gift of Harry-and-David fruit in today's mail. As we're sitting around the supper table being silly and eating leftover wedding-cheesecake, one kid tries to open the apple box to pull out an apple. She couldn't. Now, surely you would think an adult woman should be able to open a fruit box. After struggling for a moment, one of the other kids gives her the helpful hint: "Push on the circles on the sides, and then lift the lid." Hey, it worked. Then second-kid announces that these are Technologically Advanced Cardboard Boxes. Next, second-kid announces that they are Child-Proof Fruit Boxes, so as to prevent children from getting into the fruit box and overdosing on vitamins. I can barely work the VCR or the alarm clock, and now they're making cardboard boxes too complicated for me to figure out!

Frugality and Underwear

Oh darn -- how do you talk about underwear without thoroughly embarrassing the owners of said underwear?

Someone gave me a tip several years ago with regard to laundry. With a bunch of boys in the house, she said that I could distinguish whose laundry was whose by utilizing the different name-brands and their unique features. For example, one boy gets gray socks, another gets white socks, and the third gets white socks with gray heels. It makes it easier to get laundry sorted and back to its owner.

It seems like I'm buying underwear all the time. Enough friends have mentioned that the gifts will be an "underwear and socks Christmas" that I think other people get stuck buying underwear "all the time" too. Today while doing laundry, I noticed something. One of the males in my household hasn't needed new underwear since my mom bought some as a gift over three years ago. (See, that's my excuse for buying underwear for Christmas gifts. My mommy taught me to do it!) That fellow's 3-yr-old underwear is still in fantastic shape. So I web-hunted. Towncraft is available at JC Penneys, and it costs three or four times as much as Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. But it lasts SO much longer that it's cheaper in the long run.

And thus ends the embarrassing frugality observation of the day.

My next job is to find out if there's enough variety in Towncraft that I could buy it and still figure out whose laundry is whose when I'm sorting and folding. OR I could start making these guys do their own laundry. But that would probably be more work than it's worth. Besides, they cook for me sometimes and clean my bathrooms and mow my lawn; surely I can wash their laundry.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dead Mushrooms

A while back, someone asked about kombucha mushrooms that had been in the refrigerator for several months. Sadly enough, I think I learned today that it's not a good plan to try. Better to get your hands on a new mushroom.

I left one batch of kombucha brewing while we were at the hospital for that week. I set aside some mushrooms in the fridge, in glass containers, covered. Using those "saved mushrooms," I set a batch of kombucha to brew last Tuesday and another batch on Thursday. Neither one has done anything but sit there. No new mushroom has grown. No carbonation has developed. No tangy taste. No nothing. Bummers. Now I have to go about multiplying my mushrooms from the ONE that I have.

Next time I have to save mushrooms, I will keep them at cool room temperature (50-65), with a breathable lid. That hasn't worked well for me in the past, but at least my mushrooms didn't DIE.

Mom Brag

Paul came home from work a month or so ago, a little worried by managerial complaints about the stockers, one of which is Paul. So he was happy (and I was so proud) with the comments made recently about what a good job he's doing!


My men are spoiling me. My husband made dinner yesterday while I was running errands. One son made pizza and salad for dinner today. Another son is making meatloaf for tomorrow's dinner. All their cooking has enabled me to get some Christmas shopping done, and some decorating, and catch up on bread-baking and laundry and some other chores.

My son makes pizza so much better than I do. So today I asked him for times and temperatures, in hopes that I can do a better job copying his nice pizza crusts.

The recipe makes 3 pizzas that are about 11x14" each.
Stir together
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar or honey
1/2 Tbsp salt
Add 2 cups white flour. Beat well.
Add 2-3 cups flour, mix and knead.
The crust doesn't have to rise.
Pat crusts onto well-greased cookie sheets. (We use thin ones instead of the air-bake ones. With air-bake pans, the crusts must bake for a lot longer.)

Parbake crusts at 500 degrees for 7 minutes. Top with whatever's desired: we use about 10 oz of spaghetti sauce and 10 oz of grated mozarella for each pizza. (Adding 1-2 oz of cheddar and/or parmesan really perks it up.) Bake pizzas for 10 minutes at 500. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.

Anonymous Posts

When Beggars All ceased their blogging, one of the explanations given was the lack of time. Although the men enjoyed blogging, although they enjoyed reading theology and talking about it, they also had their families and their jobs that needed attention. Jon called blogging a "black hole" that sucked time away from what should be our priorities.

I can easily get caught up in debates. But I ought not. It's not that I cannot provide evidence. It's not that I cannot give reasonable arguments for what I believe. It's not that I'm afraid of the name-calling. But I have other things that are more important to me. Besides, carrying out these debates via writing is a process that takes much time; such discussions work better in person, over a cup of coffee or a beer.

This blog was not started as a forum for arguing politics. It's particularly hard to "argue" with someone who resorts to name-calling and who will not actually engage the ideas and discuss the merits of the different viewpoints. I understand that people have different opinions. I doubt, though, that those who hold to a "non-religious" faith recognize that their beliefs are every bit as much BELIEFS as are my beliefs.

I cannot try to convince people of the shortcomings of their belief system. Not that I wouldn't like to try, but I have my priorities about how I spend my time. I'll say on my blog what I want to say. Comments are welcome. But I can and will delete posts from those who are anonymous and antagonistic. (Mom, I'm not talking to you. When you post "anonymously," you're not really anonymous. I know who you are. That's how it is for most "anonymous" posters. Besides, you're not antagonistic.)

Insulting me isn't a big deal. But don't be surprised when I delete posts that dishonor my Savior and His Word.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Found: A Leather Coat

Before I start bubbling about why I'm asking -- who left a coat here? It's a very nice leather coat, either black or dark-brown enough that it's nearly black, and has a silver-gray lining. It's a woman's coat, and it says "large" but it looks to me more like a medium. Long enough to come down to mid-thigh. Name on the label says "Adler Collection." On the hanger with it (around the collar of the coat) is a hand-knit dark-gold scarf that's about 8" wide. The coat has no belt. Below the waistline, there's a slit (or "vent," I think my mom called it) in the middle-back seam.

Next, a man's jacket. Like a suit coat, but tweedy. It's a lightish brown. No size in the label.

Any claimants? For some reason, I'm thinking the leather coat may be Maria's. And SHE won't need it where SHE is because SHE is WARM!

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I'm taking a coat inventory right now. We seem to have a hall closet and a coat rack that are just FULL of coats and jackets. But I think some of them are unclaimed. Y'know, somebody outgrew his coat, found a bigger one in the hand-me-down bins, and didn't take the old one out of the closet. So there are piles of coats and jackets all over the living room, and I'm trying to figure out who owns which coats. Part of the instigation for this process was my bonanza at Goodwill today.

I found two nice wool coats, a leather coat, and a Christmas gift there. Two of those items would normally sell for $100 or more. The other two would be more like $200 each. And I paid $73 for the whole shootin' match! Yee haw!

AND on top of that, we took Zippy [my 93 Corolla] in for repairs. Turns out that almost every problem she was having was connected to a flaw in the exhaust. Repairs were only $400. Okay, $400 is a lot of money, but it is a whole lot less than any of the el-cheapo replacement vehicles I was test-driving. We can put off Zippy's funeral for a little while longer. And the greatest immediate relief in this is that I don't have to go gallavanting around tomorrow (again!) test-driving yet more vehicles!

Wasn't there something in Day By Day recently (or did I read it on somebody's blog?) about God providing for all our temporal needs, much more abundantly than we could ever expect? I know I read something like that recently. And today, I experienced it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Arrival Time of the Magi

When I was growing up, I always assumed the Wise Men showed up at the stable alongside the shepherds. That's what the creches and Christmas cards always showed. And at Sunday School, we always talked about the stories as though they were one.

I heard later that it was possible the Magi came later. For decades, I heard good arguments for both sides of the issue, and never knew which one was right.

In the last couple of weeks, I've seen several reviews of the movie The Nativity Story. Every time, I've heard how it's faithful to the biblical text. But a friend who saw the movie told us that the movie shows the wise men and shepherds arriving together at the stable, and how the movie skipped the Presentation of our Lord. Now, having not seen the movie, I will refrain from commenting on those things. But what has somewhat shocked me is the widespread refrain of how this movie is biblically accurate.

I didn't realize until recent years that the wise men arrived later. But now, I just can't imagine thinking otherwise; it's clear from the biblical text.

Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, according to the law of Moses. That happened when He was 40 days old. The family was still dwelling in Judea for at least six weeks after Jesus' birth.

Matthew tells us how Jesus' Father sent word to Jesus' step-dad to "get outta there because Herod wants to kill the Messiah." Do we really think Joseph dawdled around for a month or more, having gotten word that the hit-men were on their way? No. The magi must have arrived after the Presentation.

That was enough to convince me. But my husband pointed out evidence that is irrefutable. At the Presentation and for the purification of Mary, they gave the offering of two turtledoves. That's what people in poverty were allowed to give, instead of the prescribed gift of a lamb and a turtledove (see Lev 12). If the wise men arrived before the Presentation, then Mary and Joseph had gold and frankincense and myrrh. They were devout and holy; if they had the financial means, they would have offered up the lamb instead of the pigeon. But they didn't have the financial means: the magi hadn't yet given their valuable gifts. The Magi hadn't come yet.

Hospital Update - 12

Rash is all gone.
Swelling at the incision site is nearly gone.
Most of the scabs have fallen off incisions and chest-tube sites, and are looking good.

Only concerns at this point are a lack of appetite and a sore shoulder. Maggie's eating very very little, and often feels nauseous. I think part of the sick-tummy feeling is due to hunger, but not much sounds good to her. When she does eat, she can eat only a tiny fraction of what she was eating prior to surgery, and then gets too full.

She also complains of her left shoulder hurting. I can't figure that one out, other than the fact that it's near where her central line was inserted. We'll ask on Thursday at the cardiology follow-up appt.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gimmees and Playstation 3

I wrote this post a few days before Thanksgiving. It was supposed to be a follow up to another post from that week. But it took me a few days to get around to uploading the first post, and three weeks to get around to uploading the second.

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The wealth of this country is astounding. I wonder sometimes whether it's real or fabricated by government intervention into the economy. It is true that our tools and machines have increased our productivity and efficiency. But it's hard to know how much these things are responsible for our abundance, and how much of it is just "paper" wealth, like the riches of the late 1920s and the businesses of the 1990s. Rush says that the economy is not a zero-sum game. But I think it would be (at least, mostly) if we were still on the gold standard.

We're part of the working poor in this country. We've chosen that. When we read chapter 10 of Whatever Happened to Justice?, we recognized the concept of economic calculation: that people spend money only on things they want more than money. We would rather have time to read with the kids than money for a trip to Disneyworld. We would rather have a mom who cooks nutritious food from scratch than eat out often. We would rather have old cars and hand-me-down clothes than have a fancy tv. It's not that we don't want those other things: we just don't want them as much as we want the TIME to be with family.

That's why I am amazed by the society's captivation with new toys. There are new models of cars each year. We come up with VCRs, and then they're outdated by DVD players, which are no longer state-of-the-art because of TIVO and HDTV and who-knows-what-all-else. I can't find a pay-phone any more when I need one; they're no longer needed because of cell phones. Nice normal middle-class folks go to the casino and set a limit of $100/day to spend in the slots, when I'm feeling frivolous for spending $10/week to buy a roast annnd another whole $10/week for a turkey breast. I never understood the fights and the long lines for the Beanie Babies or the Cabbage Patch Dolls or the Tickle-Me Elmos.

But even those dolls, selling for $5-30 each, were nothing compared to the Playstation 3s. I can't even begin to fathom the desire to wait in line for 44 hours, in the cold, to be first in line at Best Buy when the new toy goes on sale. Do people really need these THINGS so badly that they can't wait until April to buy one when the bugs are worked out of it and the price isn't quite so outlandish? Neither can I fathom the wealth of a person who would pay $5000 (or even $25,000!) for a toy that will rot his brain.

I'm not saying that these toys shouldn't be allowed, or should be controled by govt, or anything of that sort. I also know that some very nice people really enjoy shopping (and getting some fantastic deals) on Black Friday every bit as much as I detest getting anywhere near town on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But no matter how you look at it, these things are evidences that we are a society that enjoys its indulgences and immediate gratification.

And this extends to so many other areas. We want our new toys NOW, for Christmas, and not next spring. We want the latest electronic gadgets. We want a pill or a drug that alleviates pain or germies within a few hours, rather than stopping our frenzied pace and sleeping off an illness. We're willing to let kids play it safe in front of the television and Game Boy (where they "won't get hurt") rather than letting them risk a broken arm climbing a tree or riding a bike without hands. That's because we can SEE the broken arm, but we can't see the damage done by the screen-time. We approve school referenda that ensure the kids have the latest lab equipment, the best theater and band opportunities, and the highest-quality sports fields and pools. We're willing to require pasteurization (which causes all sorts of allergies and obesity and other health problems) and irradiation and genetically-engineered food -- because we can't see immediate results of tinkering with our food, whereas we CAN see the few tragic results of infected spinach or milk.

Instant gratification, whether it's a Big Mac or a Playstation or one of a gazillion other examples -- it's NOT in the best long-term interest of either society or individuals. Nevertheless, instant gratification is one of the primary engines of our economy. How long will it be until our engine causes us to crash?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Flying Ice Cream

I had over half a gallon of cream yesterday. I suppose I could've been responsible and made butter, but I can't even seem to get the bills paid and the rug vacuumed right now. So instead, I made ice cream. Oh, the loverly deliciousness of homemade ice cream with the raw eggs and the home-made vanilla, and no milk but all cream!

So I'm scooping out a serving for dessert after dinner, and it just went flying. One scoop of ice cream, lobbing in a nice high arc through the air, and plunking down in the butter dish. (Hey, that's better than plunking down in the fried chicken!) We laughed!

And then Gary brought in the mail. There was a present for Maggie -- a video montage of photos, including out-takes and director's commentary and credits. We laughed uproariously. Not only that, but the pictures were full of laughing people!

Whatever will become of us when our humor-partners grow up and move away from home, and we become old fuddy-duddies instead of giggly goofs?

PS: For those of you who don't own ice-cream makers, I've found a way to make ice cream without. You just mix up the ingredients, pour them into a 9x5 bread pan, or into a 13x9, and set it in the freezer for a few hours. When it's starting to get good and frozen, but not solid yet, take the pans out of the freezer. Scoop the nearly frozen ice cream into a mixer bowl, beat it silly (better with the whisk than the regular beater), and pour it into a container with a lid (or cover it with foil). Then let it freeze hard. And there you have home-made ice-cream without having to find a place to store an ice-cream maker.

PPS: It is completely stupid to scarf down ice-cream when you're already shivering from cold. But it tastes so good. Chalk me up as a stupid one!

Hospital Update - 11

On Thursday morning, I got LOTS of questions at Bible class about how Maggie's doing. Y'know, physically she's recuperating great! But boy oh boy, she is getting so spoiled! Cards and presents and too much TV are the nice parts. But the "get me some milk" and "help me pick up the thermometer" (which is lying 18 inches away from her) and "I'm hot; take the blanket off me" is getting to be a little much. We made her start helping with lunch dishes -- one of her regular chores -- a couple of days ago. She can't sweep or vacuum or any other work that takes chest or abdominal muscles.

Today Maggie told me that Mrs May gave her instructions to "have those brothers wait on you for a while." And she's playing it out for all its worth. She's just trying to obey Mrs May, you see. [The mother rolls her eyes....]

The rash is nearly gone, but now she's feeling itchy. Hopefully it's just dry skin.

One of Maggie's stunts in the hospital was figuring out the monitors. She liked watching the heart beat on the monitor, with the number for her pulse. There was also an electrical lead for her blood pressure. There was one for her temperature that she kept a close eye on. The really funny one was the respiration. It fluctuated wildly, except when she was asleep. When we asked the nurses, one told us that it has to be very sensitive, so as to register for babies who are belly breathers and big kids who are chest breathers. Because of the sensitivity, it also registers movement (including talking) as breathing. So when Maggie got chattering, the monitor might show her respiration to be sky-rocketing. She liked to look over her shoulder, up to the monitor. But that movement in itself caused the numbers and the graphline to bounce all over the place. In describing the machine to her, we showed her that she could take three quick breaths, and that would affect the graphline one way. If she took slow breaths, or deep breaths, or shallow breaths, these would all affect the graphline. So one time, when I wasn't there, she decided to hold her breath. I hear tell that a nurse came hurrying in to find out what the problem was. And Little Miss Cry-Wolf just grinned and announced that she had been holding her breath. That there is one good indication that the ornery child was feeling too good to be housed in ICU any longer.

Another conversation was on Friday, before going home. One doctor and a resident and a nurse were making a very big point about her health and her incision and the snow. She should not go tobogganning. Snow angels would probably not be a good idea. No tobogganing. Okay to sit out in the snow, all bundled up, and throw snowballs at a tree or other target. No snowball fights, though, because the snowballs shouldn't be coming in her direction. And she couldn't go toboganning. No making snowmen either -- too much weight to move. And no toboganning.

Finally Maggie interrupted on the 57th prohibition against toboganning. "I can't go tobogganning. We don't have a toboggan." Oh. Okay. Then there's nothing to worry about. With a twinkle in her eye, she said, "We have a sled though." Good grief!!! After laughing, they told her "no sledding!"

In case anybody's interested in heavier reading, I posted on the Mouthhouse Moms blog about some Gerhardt hymns. Pastor Borghardt had requested that all HT bloggers consider putting up something on December 7 for Advent. I couldn't think of anything else to write. After I posted, it crossed my mind that I could've told Maggie's birth story. I suppose that could always wait for another day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Trumpet Job

Skimming the Shopper paper tonight, looking for cut-your-own Christmas-tree farms, I noticed a help-wanted ad. There's a factory in our county seat that makes brass instruments. Right now, they're looking for a trumpet player and a trombone player. The trumpet tester is a full-time job with benefits. The trombone tester could be part-time or full-time. Now, how many musicians consider a job like that? Usually musicians want to play in an orchestra, or teach music, or have their own band. But here's a job testing new instruments, playing music all day, just to make sure the instrument works after it's manufactured. It sounds fun!

If Laughter Is Healthy for Your Body...

then you gotta read this and then this.

NO. WAIT. Hold up! Don't read it yet!
First, go to the bathroom, so you won't wet your pants while you're reading it. And second, get a kleenex for the tears.

Now, you can read what Pastor Petersen says about how babies are born.

Frustrations of Car Shopping

I bought my Camry two and a half years ago. Today I was looking at cars. Some of them were the same make, model, and year as my 97 Camry. But the sticker-price was more than double what I paid for mine back then. I think I'm going to have to see if I can limit to telling me "private" ads and no dealerships.

The sales tricks and manipulation drive me nuts. I can see right through them, and the "tricks" offend me. The one that ticked me off the most was when I came back from a test-drive. The salesman with me noticed another salesman on the lot. He called to the other guy and said, "Here are the keys for that customer you have who's interested in test-driving this Honda." For a half a second, my heart panicked. But I like this car! Then I realized that that's precisely what the salesman intended. He wanted to rush me. There was no one waiting to look at that car. No one had been there before me. No one could've become interested in it while it was gone because I was out driving it. No customers were around. It was just a LIE. And as my children can testify, there isn't anything I hate more than lies! I'm quite sure we're not going to go back there and purchase the Honda, but if we were to do so, I would insist on a different salesman. I sure ain't gonna "reward" a guy for trying to scam me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Unisex Looks

When Maggie was a few years younger, and could not stand to have her curly hair brushed, we finally had to cut it short. It was cute, and I thought it looked "little girly." But occasionally, she was referred to as "little boy." She did not like that!

The other day, my oldest daughter posted about a customer mistaking her for a guy. Seems odd enough to me, even if she is at that in-between stage of growing her hair out.

I think part of the problem is that there are SO many people now who prefer the unisex look. Many girls want to look masculine. Some guys want to look feminine. I remember at a funeral, when a "boy" went into the ladies' room at church, and several of us were taken aback. Then we finally decided that it probably was a girl, after all. When my mom and dad were in the hospital (many months apart) each one had the same nurse for a while. None of us could figure out definitively if this was a guy or a girl. Finally, I got a peek at the name tag: Kristen. Okay, that's a girl. Good thing the name wasn't "Chris" or "Pat."

So I was pleased to be recognized as a girl yesterday. I had been pumping gas and had gone into the station to pay. Some good natured joshing about the weather got a conversation going among the customers and owner. When we were headed out the door, Howie (the 70+ yr old stranger who was one of the flirters) said, "Hey, I'm hanging out with her" and indicated me. He knew I was a girl. It was cold. My hair was up under a hat. No make-up. No jewelry. No purse. I don't have much of a figure anyway, but any feminine curves were completely hidden by my big ol' ugly man's work-coat that's warm and heavy. There were no tell-tale signs of femininity anywhere. But he knew I was a girl. And that made me feel so good! :-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Random Thoughts

I hate car shopping.

When the doctor said Maggie had a hematoma, I was thinking that word meant "bruise." But there was no black-n-blue. Ah, a little patience, and the swelling goes down; now the black-n-blue is happy to make its appearance.

I really hate car shopping.

Maggie's fingernails and toenails were quite blue for a while today. I called the clinic and asked if we were allowed to bring her in to use the pulse-ox without having an appt, without needing to see the doctor, without paying. Four hours later we heard from the doctor, "Yes, that's okay. Just let us know so we'll be ready with a room available." But by then her fingernails were pink again.

I detest car shopping.
Actually, I don't like any shopping.
But car shopping is reeeally bad.

It is immensely helpful to have nearby loved ones cook a meal for you when you're fresh home from the hospital (especially when you have to spend chunks of the day car shopping too!).

After being gone for over 6 hours (grrrr... car shopping) I decided to treat myself with a McDonald's coupon that allowed me to buy two Big-N-Tasties for the price of one. While I was waiting for the guys to make my burgers, I was looking at their literature rack: nutrition, exercise, Ronald McDonald House Charities, etc. I picked up the brochure on RMH, and there I was, standing in a McDonalds, waiting for my burgers, and my eyes started tearing up. One tiny little week ago, to the minute, Gary and I were cleaning up the kitchen in the RMH, having plundered the freezer in our RMH kitchen of mixed veggies and hamburger. While Matt and Rachel and Nathan and Katie stayed in ICU with Mags, Gary and I took a break to grab some food and cook dinner. And there it was, for the taking: the pots, the dishes, the spatulas, the FOOD, the sink, the milk, the buns, the ketchup, the butter. What a blessing to have not only the beds and shower, but also the kitchen (a stocked kitchen), provided for family during the time of the hospital stay.

Maggie's rash is improved. Still there. The doctor thought it would be gone by this morning. Well, hey, at least we're headed in the right direction. Another day or two and it might actually be gone.

And tomorrow I ought to do more car shopping. I wonder how long Gary can stay here and play nurse for Maggie? Or... I wonder how long poor little ancient worn-out Zippy can keep running for the boys if we don't replace her NOW? I do hate car shopping.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hospital Update - 10

We saw our family doctor this afternoon.

Lungs -- The bad part of Maggie's left lung is still not too good. She was given strict instructions to continue using the spirometer for breathing exercise -- either at every commercial break on tv, or every hour if she's reading or watching taped videos.

Swelling -- She has a hemotoma at the site of the incision for the bypass machine. Doctor says that, for adult catheterizations, they will usually put a sandbag on the incision site for three hours following the procedure, to keep the swelling down. There's nothing to be done for this. Time will resolve it. Maggie could use cool compresses, but the doctor says that the chill on that part of the body may be less welcome than is the swelling.

Rash -- Doctor says it's benign. She showed me that, if you press down on the skin or if you gently stretch and pull at the skin, the spots go away. They come right back when you quit pressing. But she said that a rash that goes away like that is benign. So it's not pox.

Doctor tested for strep. The rash fit, but nothing else did. The strep test was negative. We reviewed possibilities for allergic reactions to something external, and that just doesn't pan out. So we're left with the conclusion that it must be an allergic reaction to the prophylactic antibiotics given before and after surgery. I think she got ampicillin and oxycillin. We have a call in to cardiology to confirm which meds she got, and to put them on a No-No List for Maggie henceforth. After discussing this, I recalled that Maggie didn't get any -cillins with her last open-heart. She'd had some tummy reactions to penicillin previously, and developed a nasty nasty diaper rash. So last time we told them not to use -cillins. We figured it would be too hard to treat the diaper rash alongside the recovery from surgery. She did have -cillin with her palate surgery, but it was one dose instead of a couple days of IV's. But now, we're just going to have to keep her away from it for good and forever. For now, we will just be treating the rash with Benadryl until it goes away. No biggie. Doctor said it shouldn't take long, since we're not continuing to put the offending drug into Maggie's system.

Sternum incision and chest-tube sites are healing fabulously.

Matthew 25:33

Okay, so this is not properly seasonal. I was jogging this morning, listening to a tape of Mass from Trinity 26 at my father-confessor's church. And the Gospel reading brought this thought to mind, regardless of its lack of Adventishness.

Point 1. A few days after "Passion" came out, we were discussing the movie at a play-day at the Kochs. Aaron pointed out one thing that bothered him: the two malefactors were placed on the wrong side of Jesus. The believer should've been on His right, and the unbeliever on His left.

Point 2. There's one camp-song that I always loved, and which I still love. "I am covered over by the precious blood of Jesus that He gives to me. I am covered over by the precious blood of Jesus, and He lives in me. Oh, what a joy it is to know my heavenly Father loves me so He gives to me my Jesus! When He looks at me He sees not what I used to be but He sees Jesus."

Point 3. Jesus "sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty."

Point 4. Jesus divides the sheep from the goats. The sheep are on His right, and the goats are on His left.

Coalescing it all like a mathematician who mentally sketches out diagrams of word-problems: Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. We are at the right hand of Jesus. So when the Father looks toward us, Jesus is "in the way," blocking His view, so to speak. If I am not at Jesus' right hand, when the Father looks toward me, He sees me "on my own," standing on my own merits or my own righteousness. But as the Bible has the diagram lined up, Jesus intervenes in the sight-line, so when the Father looks at me, He see not what I used to be, but He sees Jesus.

Hospital Update - 9

Edema is better; rash is worse.

There is still swelling around the incision for the bypass machine, but I would no longer call it "bad" (or "shockingly horrific" which was Saturday night's tag). It's not good, but it's headed in the right direction.

But that rash.... When I called the doctor to see if we could get in today instead of tomorrow, the nurse finagled a way for us to get in. That's unusual for this doctor's office.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hospital Update - 8

The edema is better; the rash is worse.

Maggie's temperature has been easily controled. She needs one or two doses of tylenol or advil per day to whack down fevers that pop up about every 10-12 hours.

I was ready to take her in because of the swelling and puffiness around the incision for the bypass machine. But it just doesn't look infected. It's not hot, not red, not painful. Just very very puffy. We tried taping garlic on her from 5:00-10:00 yesterday evening. I don't know if it had any effect, but the swelling is significantly less than yesterday.

When I was painting on the betadine stripes today [by the way, the chest-tube incisions look much better than yesterday when we removed the bandages] I noticed spots. Lots of spots. Kinda like chicken-pox spots. By noon, they were gobs worse. They're spreading across her body in a chicken-poxy pattern. But she doesn't have the other signs of chicken pox, like high fever or runny nose or any of those things. I wondered if the rash might be something to do with tape and bandages or something else she was in contact with, but it doesn't seem to work out "geographically" on her body. We know of no contact with anyone with chicken-pox. They don't itch, either, but it sounds like they're not supposed to itch until they erupt. Well, if it IS chicken-pox, it is a darn good thing we got her out of the hospital when we did, just on the cusp of her becoming contagious.

Her tummy wasn't doing so well today. That problem started about 48 hours after the last dose of Zofran. Since she didn't feel so hot, she didn't eat in the morning. But by noon, she was throwing up bile. I think it's hunger, and we don't want to start a cycle of being nauseous because of hunger and then exacerbating the problem by not eating. So I opened up Erin's jar of homemade applesauce and made Maggie eat a bite, even though she objected because of nausea. She had tiny little bites every few minutes for the next hour, and is now feeling much much better. Now she's about a 1/3 of the way done with the quart. Her tummy is all spiffy again!

We have an appt with the family doctor on Tuesday morning.
Gary and I are exhausted. Just totally wiped out and in need of naps. We haven't been short of sleep, but boy, do we need naps. My brain is on vacation too. Can't figure out how to do more than one thing at a time. And sometimes it's hard to keep up with ONE thing. (We may be eating carry-out food a lot this week.) Maggie's not the only one needing to veg in front of the boob tube. Now, if only I could get a chance to pick the video instead of her choosing...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hospital Update - 7

So far, the fever has been easily manageable. One dose of tylenol or motrin seems to prevent fever for a good 12 hours or more.

We gave Maggie her first shower since pre-surgery. There's been so much sticky stuff on her (surgical tape, the stick-ums for the electrical leads, etc) and, when it comes off, lint and blood and betadine and stuff stick to it. We got her scrubbed up as best we can. We removed the bandages from where the chest-tubes were inserted (she says woozily).

We also taped garlic to the area around the incision for the bypass, hoping that will help. Maggie doesn't like the smell and she says it stings, but it's done wonders for us in the past.

Hospital Update - 6

Maggie's fever has been down since midnight; we haven't even given her meds for it since early evening yesterday. I got up three times during the night to check on her. Once, though, was courtesy of the cat. She wanted to go out, and she jumped up on the bed and stuck her cold nose right onto my nose. She does that sometimes, and it's no big deal. (She absolutely hates to meow or make noise.) But last night when she did it, I about jumped out of my skin: I couldn't figure out why there were furry creatures in ICU and why one was right smack in my face! "Oh, wait. We're not in ICU anymore. Oh, it's just the cat. We're home now."

Cardiology said we had to check in with our family doctor this week. When I called this morning to make the appt, the receptionist told me that Dr C was only in the office Monday and Tuesday, and that she was booked solid both those days. She told Gary two weeks ago that she definitely wanted to see Maggie post-surgery. So the receptionist is seeing what she can do to squeeze us in. We usually make "urgent" appts a week or more in advance, and then cancel if we've improved. But I didn't know when we'd be getting out of the hospital, to know when to schedule a follow-up.

They gave us Lasix tablets. Maggie is supposed to take a half pill each day. They said I'd have to cut them. No problem, I thought. Then I saw how tiny they are. Hmmm. I sharpened my sharpest knife, and proceeded to split itsy-bitsy pills into itsier-bitsier pieces this morning. I'll give her the "big halves" sooner and the "smaller halves" later. And I think we'll have to go heavy on the bananas and oj and chocolate while we're on the "bigger halves." The biggest danger with Lasix is potassium depletion.

One boy got re-addicted to the computer while we were gone. I'll give it another day or so (for my chance to catch up on laundry and bills and cleaning) before I cruelly and heartlessly rip the brain-numbing computer games away from him again.

Take the Lead

One night shortly before surgery, we watched Take the Lead, a movie about Pierre Dulaine who teaches ballroom dance in the New York City public schools. It was a really good movie, much in the same vein as Finding Forrester or Renaissance Man.

(Warning to those offended by oodles of foul language: the movie is about at-risk kids in a violent neighborhood, and how this man's involvement in teaching them influenced their lives. So the movie may be offensive to some. It's not for little kids.)

Watching movies like this always leaves me pondering the place of culture and the arts in the schools. On the one hand, I think music and the other arts are critical to humanity, and how we think of ourselves, and how we treat each other. These beautiful things should be taught. And yet, when school attendance is mandated by the government and funded by the taxpayers instead of being entirely the responsibility of the parents, there needs to be a realization that we can't do "whatever is best" for "the sake of the children" because then there will be no limits whatsoever on extravagances. Furthermore, there is such diversity of opinion within our society on what constitutes "art" that it doesn't seem good for those battles to be fought out in the schools, influencing the minds of the children. And yet, the benefit that comes from beautiful words and beautiful music and beautiful dance and beautiful paintings is so immense that it would be tragic if children are not exposed to those things.

In spite of being "po' white folk," our family has also been labeled "artsy-fartsy." And thus I never quite know which "side" I'm on when I watch movies like this.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hospital Update - 5

Should I keep calling these "hospital updates" if we're home now???

The roads coming home weren't very nice. In most places, one lane of the interstate was clear. But when you've got a long row of cars traveling at 45 mph, and then along comes an impatient dude doing 70 in a 4-wheeler, it gets a little nerve-wracking. Oftentimes, the other lane of the interstate was such a mess that it would've necessitated driving about 20-30 mph, and it sure ain't good to slow down that quickly on that kind of road to get out of the other guy's way. But we got home nevertheless. Well, almost home. Not quite.

Gary had called the fellow who does the plowing for church, to let him know our need to be able to get into the driveway. Oftentimes, church is left as the last thing on his list, and it gets to be quite a hardship when people here have to come and go from work. You just can't shovel 200' of a very wide driveway that's deeply drifted, when all you have are shovels and no plow. Even a snowblower would take a really long time. Well, when we got home, nothing was plowed. We couldn't turn into the drive at all. Everything the county plows had thrown off to the side of the road, was still sitting there in our entry-way. There was nothing to do but plunge the car into the pile of snow, just so as to get it off the road. Then we made a lot of trips, unloading the contents of the car and backseat and hauling it all up to the house through the drifts. Maggie had to be carried in -- and not piggy-back because that would be bad for the stitches. Not a happy or easy homecoming.

She began running her fever again, a little more than an hour after arriving home. We have to keep it under 101.5 or we may have to go back to the hospital. So far, we're staying under 101 with the help of tylenol and ibuprofen. (This is hard for me, because I tend to think fever is the body's way of fighting infection. However, fever also speeds up the pulse, and she seriously does not need increased pulse rate right now.)

She also has some serious puffiness where she was hooked up to the heart-lung machine. I hope continued rest and her prescription diuretic will help get that under control.

We'll just keep watching and resting. Hopefully we (that would mostly be me) can let other things slide around here while we make nursing the patient top-priority. Lots of tv this week. I got videos from the library that are educational, but I'll bet we end up watching more Hogan's Heroes than Shakespeare and Dickens. Oh well... the main thing is the fever and the puffiness. That's more important than history and literature right now.

Hospital Update - 4

We decided that it would be wise to go check out of Ronald McDonald House. Maggie's doing well. We've given about a dozen doctors the pitch on why we should go home today. None has had any real objection. So I figured I'd start packing up and do the housecleaning at RMH. If we ended up staying another night or two, the hospital has the cafeteria, and the parent showers, and there's always the possibility of imposing upon the Mays and the Kochs and Matt.

On my way past the nurses' station, we got the okay to leave any time after 3:00. Woo hooo! We're going to be going home only 70 hours after this kid left the operating room. Unbelievable! If I had dared to wish for the very best recuperation I could've imagined, it would've been worse than what God has actually blessed us with this week.

And now, to go load up the car and drive over to fetch a girl.

Hospital Update - 3

Oh, darn it. Now Maggie's got a fever. I figured they'd let her go, even with the one part of the left lung not being A-OK, because there's really nothing here they can do for it that can't be done better at home. But a fever ... that could indicate infection inside. So we may be here for a while after all. Still waiting to hear...

Hospital Update - 2

Sooooo, the last one wasn't the last one after. Dr Samyn came in after the echo. Given Maggie's mobility (she wheeled her own wheelchair back from the downstairs Family Resource Room, and walked herself to the staff kitchen on fourth floor to nab a pop), they're thinking that she could probably go home. However, there's a little problem with the lower part of the left lung; they want to get a good look at the chest xray before making a final determination. And if they do decide to send her home today, it won't be until later in the afternoon, when the snowplows have had a chance to do their duty on the roads.

Hospital Update - 1

We had a good and restful night. Maggie and I are on our way back from cardiology to the room. We're out tooling around the hospital with the wheelchair because it's a hefty walk all the way down to cardiology. The echocardiogram didn't show the homograft and how the valve is working. The technicians and doctors would get glimpses, but no good looks at it. They said it's not uncommon for that to happen post-surgery, due to scarring and fluid build-up. But they got a good look at the valve on Tuesday after surgery, and it sounds great through the stethoscope -- no leakage.

Maggie's eating, drinking, and doing all the things she needs to do. Pretty mobile too. Feeling good. Seems like we should be going home posthaste. We'll see what the doctor on the floor says when we get back up there. Can't get our hands on a DVD-player or VCR, so I think Maggie would rather be home with her own tv and Hogan's Heroes. Only problem is the snow. I'm not sure that it would be wise to leave to go home now. Maybe in a few hours the roads will be more clear. Right now, this hospital is dead and quiet -- SO many people have not come in to work, and a bunch of people have canceled appts because of the weather.

Maggie's getting impatient with waiting, so I'll close and get her back upstairs. Hopefully, this will be the last one of these. :-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hospital Update - 16

Besides just being more comfortable, Maggie is also breathing much better with the chest tubes removed.

Yesterday and today she seems hypernasal again, that is, the sound of her voice is like it was before her palate surgery. I ought to remember to ask about that during rounds tomorrow. Maybe it's nothing, or maybe they'd have her ENT stop by.

Gary asked during this morning's rounds what needs to be accomplished before Maggie is allowed to go home. They said they need to take an echo and x-rays and EKG twenty-four or more hours after the chest tubes are removed. So we're scheduled for an echo tomorrow morning at 10. But in light of the dire predictions of the weather forecasters, if she were to get sprung, we might not be able to drive home anyhow because of deep deep snow. (I need to remember to get my tennies out of the trunk so I'm not walking back over to RMH on Friday in my sandals ... through 10" of snow. LOL.)

I really don't think we'll be going home tomorrow, though. Maggie's tummy has not been doing well. She hasn't thrown up since she began drinking and eating yesterday. But things just haven't been settling well. She eats a little, and then starts feeling nauseous. That lasts 1-2 hours, and then she's fine again. She's hungry and wants to eat, but when she does, it makes her feel cruddy. So she's been avoiding food. The nurse and doctor decided to put her on Zofran which will settle her tummy and allow her to start getting some more calories into herself, and enough liquid to not dehydrate. At this point, she simply couldn't go home because, without the IV, she couldn't keep herself hydrated due to the nausea. So hopefully the meds will have an effect by middle of the day tomorrow. The doctor on rounds tonight said she expected we'd be going home "this weekend."

Hospital Update - 15

Couldn't find a computer available at the hosptial, church, or RMH prior to Bible class. So here's the late-morning scoop.

Last night, Maggie was having some pain (visible in the face, although she didn't want to admit it), and we offered her a second dose of tylenol for the day. She didn't want it. She doesn't like the "taste" of the pill. She preferred to deal with the pain, rather than take tylenol. Oy! So we asked the nurse if there was anything that could be put into her IV line. Maggie got a half dose of morphine, and in 10 minutes was feeling much more comfortable, and her face was much more relaxed.

Nurse was pleased that Maggie slep so well during the night. Even with being woken at 4 for blood-draws, 5 for x-ray, again at 6 for another blood-draw (oops on the first try at 4:00), she was still getting good solid rest for several hours at a time.

Chest tubes have been pulled. Mag couldn't eat this morning because pulling the tubes required some sedation. She wasn't even feeling like eating jello last night at bedtime, so the lack of food probably hasn't been too bad for her.

Moved out of ICU to room 463.

Gary heard on the news yesterday that there was a schoolbus/semi accident on Tuesday morning, and that all the kids were taken to Children's and treated there. That may just possibly explain the delay in surgery -- a lot of medical personnel probably had to be diverted to ER to deal with 60 kids who needed attention. And the timetable would fit with when we were phoned to postpone surgery.

All This Dust

For some reason, when we were hanging out at the hospital Monday for pre-op, I couldn't help but ponder why this whole world exists. All these people here with kids who are hurting. All the kids with cancer. All the kids on dialysis. All the kids here for surgeries because of birth defects. Or because of illness. Or because of violence. And ALL the people who take care of them -- their parents and nurses and doctors and cleaning folks and secretaries.

And you lie in bed at night and hear the sirens on the ambulances, bringing in more damaged bodies. We hardly ever hear sirens at home -- one of the sheltered benefits of living in the boonies. And you talk to some of the other parents whose kids were medi-flighted here.

"And God created man out of the dust of the ground, and man became a living being." All this dust. All this dust arranged into arms and legs and mouths and livers and kidneys. And I just kept thinking -- why? It's all so transitory. Why would God set it up like this? When you start thinking of it objectively, like as if you could be an outside observer from another planet or even another reality, you start to think that this whole world is kinda weird. People just living, eating, talking to each other, growing up, having more babies to do the same thing all over again; houses being built, technology being developed, entertainment consuming our attention, other people just struggling to survive starvation. And for some dumb bizarre philosophical reason, these thoughts would resurface now and then in the busyness of answering questions for doctors and fluffing pillows, or in the waiting-times as I noticed all the parents just sitting in the surgery waiting-room, waiting for the latest report from the surgeons' assistants.

And then last night, as Pastor read Sunday's OT (end of Isaiah 65) at Mass, I think I got part of the answer. I knew before that Pastor's answer is that "God created for love's sake." But with last night's OT, it made me think about God's creating us to have joy. That it's connected with "love's sake" (as Pastor always says), and that we are made in the image of the triune God. Not that God made us to have joy just because of frivolity and happy-happiness. No, the joy of being in Him. The joy of giving and receiving love, not only receiving God's love forever, but also giving and receiving love amongst ourselves eternally. If God was complete before He created, if God needed nothing, then even before He made the world, everything was full of joy and love and the communion within the Trinity. And that love moved out to make us, so that we could be brought into it too. God will rejoice over His people. And they will rejoice in Him. And that's why all this dust is walking around the hospital, why the generations continue, why the dust is walking around a gazillion grocery stores and schools and factories today -- because that dust is favored of God, given the breath of life by Him, so that we may receive all that He has to give.

And this is all obvious stuff. And I'm being weird (having been woken and kicked out of the room for early-morning x-rays again). But sometimes a person gets a chance to wonder at the marvels of it all --
"For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth;
and the former things shall not be remembered
nor come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
and her people a joy."

And now, I suppose I will go back to a girl who's been woken, and we'll watch some more Hogan's Heroes or something.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hospital Update - 14

We're still in ICU. When our cardiologist came by at 2:30, he asked the nurses if there were something about Maggie keeping us there, or if it's an issue with space. That's it: there's just not a room for her to move into. One of the nurses mentioned to me about 5ish that somebody was going to be clearing out of a room, so it would be open for Maggie "later." I guess it was just getting too late in the day to move her. So I anticipate a move tomorrow.

She's been for two walks, tooling around ICU. She's gone potty several times. The blood draining from her chest tubes is significantly decreased and much lighter colored; she is quite anxious to be rid of those.

Maggie has been deciphering the monitor. She watches her heart rate and her oxygen saturation. They're quite stable and boring. The thing that really gets her attention is when another bed in the unit alarms; then the stats show up on all the monitors to make sure the nurses know who needs attention and how desperately. So she sees when someone's pulse goes over 150, or goes down too low. She asks biology and anatomy questions about how this all works. She hasn't been working her lungs and taking deep breaths like she should: it hurts too much. But now that she's figured out that the squiggly yellow line measures her breath, we tried playing with the line -- take a deep breath or hold your breath or take three fast breaths. She wasn't too willing to do it because of the pain. But a few interesting quirks on the line did a tad bit to draw her interest. I'm hoping that it may provide encouragement to continue bigger breaths. But it is true that it hurts. And her chest tubes may have to be in for a while longer than she'd prefer; there was enough bleeding at the end of surgery that they just had to leave her splayed open there for a while before sewing her up.

Which reminds me, what Pr Petersen said about the violence. It is an overwhelming amount of violence that happens in that OR. And yet, how necessary for her continued health. It hurts to think of it, and yet there is no option. Kinda makes ya think of Hannah's song and Luther's comment on it: to bring to life, first God puts to death.

Rachel, Andrew, and Paul came to stay with Maggie for the evening. Gary had to teach confirmation class. I was hoping to go to Mass, but she had missed me very much when she was left alone for half an hour while I ran over to RMH and got the laundry out of the dryer. So I told her I'd stay with her for the evening, and she took me up on the offer. But when Rachel and the boys arrived, and then Matt arrived, she thought it would be just fine if I left for a while. LOL -- I know where I rate.... (No, actually, sitting on the bed with my arm around her does do a lot to make her feel better.) A present was sent up from the gift shop earlier, and a friend stopped by with a present this evening. Ooooh, this child is getting treated like royalty. :-)

On my way to Mass, I was pondering how well this hospital stay is going. It's really quite mind-boggling. How can it possibly be this easy??? And I just kept thinking of what Pastor says: "How shall He not then, along with Him, freely give us all things?" He's quoted that to me so many times, and so many times I've fussed and crabbed at him about not understanding it. And yet, tonight, driving to church, that was the one verse that I couldn't stop meditating upon. Yes, we have Jesus. Yes, we have the forgiveness of sins. Yes, we have life and salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit and so much more. But looking at this hospital stay, we have this overflowing overwhelming abundant nearly-unbelievable temporal blessing too. As if forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation weren't enough for Him to pour out, He gives even more! And why? Just because He loves to give freely. Just because of His compassion and love and mercy. Because of the cross and the forgiveness won there. Because He is good to those who don't deserve any goodness whatsoever. Just because He wants to lavish these things upon us.

Oh, Thou spring of boundless blessing!
How could e'er my feeble mind
of the depths the bottom find,
though my efforts were unceasing!
All things else have but their day --
God's great love abides for aye!

Is It Selfish to Fight for Homeschooling Freedoms? (Part 5)

Flipping through my "Day by Day We Magnify Thee" Monday night, I found a scribbled-out quote from a novel I read on vacation a few years back (the only time I ever get to read grown-up for-fun books). This is from Gillian Bradshaw's Render Unto Caesar (p. 432) which is set shortly before the fall of Rome. Discussing the evils of their society, and the troubles, and how to respond, and what to support when both sides of the political structure are corrupt, one character responds to the other:

"The empire isn't going to fall, so our only option is to support those parts of it that make it something we can endure."

Now, the "empire isn't going to fall" was not really inaccurate; the discussion was about whether it would fall imminently. I have often thought that this quote fits quite well for a Christian's place in American society. Especially one of my political persuasion.

What do we do in society and in the political arena now? We know our meager efforts are not going to dismantle the entrenched politics. We may make differences. We try to do our best. But so much is unchangeable. So we support those parts of the system that make the society endurable in the midst of too much raw evil as well as too much power-grabbing.

To me, homeschool freedoms support the things that make this society work. It supports families. It supports the honor of parents to be the authority over their children. Homeschooling freedoms is one wee demonstration that governmental authority flows from the authority of the father, and not vice versa. Homeschooling freedoms allow for options and alternatives, instead of insisting on all power and decision-making being caught up under one mindset.

Some may say that homeschooling freedoms might allow for people to be free FROM education instead of free to choose WHICH education. Although I really don't see it (and I know a whole lot of homeschoolers and unschoolers), I suppose it IS possible. But I believe that it is a small risk. I also believe that the State's regulation and monitoring of homeschoolers brings much greater risk to society as we "support those parts of it that make it something we can endure" than does the acknowledgement that parents can and should make those decisions for their children.

I'm sure I could go on and on, but the washer is nearly done, and I want to get back to the hospital and see how my gal is doing.

Hospital Update - 13

Bad planning on my part. I should've thrown the load of clothes into the wash FIRST, and then hit the blog. But noooo, I am a blog-addict and did that first. Now I have 20 minutes to kill before I can change the load over to the dryer. Pastor called and said he'd be coming to visit between 1 and 1:30, so I kinda want to be done with the housewifey stuff at RMH and be back to Maggie's room to receive.

Man, these super-fancy washers at the RMH take a lot longer to run through a load than does my Kenmore at home.

If we're out of ICU soon, the phone number I posted last night will no longer be valid for us. But if you have the cell-phone number, that should work. I assume cell phones are allowed out on the floor, since they're allowed in the hallways and the waiting rooms, just not in ICU.