Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I can hardly believe this blessing! God is giving me the desire of my heart since I was a little girl. A very full life. A life full of children, and a love to see them become children of God. If I have anything to do with it, through prayer, service, or anything else, then let God be praised!
June 15th is my due date. I have been carrying this blessing since October.
Have I teased you enough?
Okay, so I'm not expecting a baby. But I AM expecting a great blessing in two weeks. Since October when the Lord called me to go with Sarah to Russia on a short term missions trip, I have felt pregnant with much the same kind of eagerness I felt while carrying my babies. I have many of the same questions: Am I prepared? (As much as can be, minus packing for the "hospital".) Am I nesting? (Sort of, but in reverse. Getting stuff OUT of the nest to make room for a simpler lifestyle and to fund this "delivery." Have I felt sick? (Not till a few days ago, and it's just congestion, probably from something in my newly planted flower beds). How did the kids take the news? Well, as I said, Ben and Stephen are fairly nonchalant. Joel wants to go with us. Paul is going to try to get to the beach with the boys while we're away. His brother has a home about 4 miles from Lewes Beach in Delaware, so lodging will be free! He needs a break in the worst way.
I got my stuff from GAiN on Saturday and wept. I'll post more later. Tears of joy. Can't wait to meet my "babies"!!!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
When Beth let us know about the great deal on this great hand soap, we rushed out and stocked up. We just love our variety. A different one at every sink makes it a pleasure doing business, as it were.
Now the pot is even sweeter. Wait, bad choice of words. Make that "The deal is even better. ":)
B&BW has a Memorial Day sale going on now. Five days only. So don't piddle.
The Antibacterial Collection is now 5 for $10. You can't get great smelling hand soap at Target for THAT price. Or if you've got 50 bucks to spare, shipping is free for online orders of that amount. I'm picking up two of these soaps to take as part of my hostess gifts to Russia. (We've been told we get to have dinner with two different families, and to bring nice gifts.) I'm also going to pick up some for "just because gifts" since I KNOW I'll be too eager to wait till Christmas to hand them out. Two bucks a bottle. What a bargain!!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
is following God and not sulking about singleness. Your love for evangelism spurs me on to love and good works, as the scripture says. You always have encouraging comments and I look forward to staying in touch.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Three international airports serve close together in the Balto-Washington area, and three in the New York area. However, our greatest hope was to be able to fly directly from BWI to JFK. BWI is a great airport we know well, and is easy to get into and out of. Our other options: Dulles (which has a notorious reputation for snarling the insides of even the most patient, seasoned travelers) and Reagan Int'l (at which the airlines I scoped out had only a 50% on-time rating. In New York our other choices were Islip and La Guardia. (The drawbacks there would be having to take a cab or van between airports (tranlate: extra money plus more lugging of heavy baggage).
Either way, fares with and without cab rides for the two of us were ranging between 300 and 400 bucks.
Yesterday after church someone gave us the amount we need for roundtrip airfare between Baltimore and New York. My mouth dropped open. I was speechless (for the first time in my life??) We can fly directly from BWI to JFK with plenty of time to spare!
Friday, May 18, 2007
From the get-go, I felt God say, "You will pay only a tithe [for the trip] and My people will send the rest."
He guided every aspect, from providing me with a love for crafting wreaths to sell, soup to make, a daughter who wrote and mailed out about 70 campaign letters, a care group who worked very hard to help bring in a lot of money, people who donated good stuff for my eBay ventures --and some customers were overtly Chirstian!, a homeschooling community in need of lots of books that I don't anymore, and a springtime birthday/early summer graduation where gifts have come in for Sarah (which she has donated to the fund). I'm probably forgetting another source or two.
Well, folks, remember how much I needed originally? $6,000.
Guess how much God we've raised? $5,400.
I'm no math whiz, but I think I figured it out that the difference is $600. Exactly a tithe (10%) left for us to come up with.
I stand amazed. Glory to God!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
This might not sound romantic, but I was inspired when cleaning the toilet today. Inspired to do what? you ask.
Inspired to tell you blogging friends one way your posts and/or life up close, in some cases, displays the fruit of God's Spirit. I see my Christian sisters (and brothers) collectively as a fountain of spiritual blessings in my daily life.
Abby, though you seldom post here, I read your posts on the CCC blog every time. I think your love is very evident. Love for the Lord, for your hubby and kids, your in-laws, your siblings and parents, your love for the fine and visual arts. Girlfriend, you got love written all over ya.
Ashleigh, your patience is evident to me as I read about your interactions with your children, your waiting to get good deals on home furnishings, your production of a bevy of pillows to pretty-up your place, and your proofreading jobs.
Amy, your generosity tells of your gratitude to God. To see His kingdom come to all parts of the world has been a huge blessing to me.
Bev, I don't know if you read this blog, but if you do, please know I admire your wisdom. You have a timely bit of counsel for many people so often.
Beth K, you have peace that can't be denied. Seems your proverbial feathers are never ruffled. You have a perspective of the eternal that must keep you above "see level" (meaning some people see the obstacles and freak out. You don't.)
Beth Y- your enthusiasm. Whether you're enthused about a great fragrance, a store with the big red bull's-eye logo, or the footprints left by your teeny girl on a clean hardwood floor, you are exuberant. You also make a great cheerleader for the rest of us.
Bethany, You've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in your heart! Your photos and your writing ooze the joy of simple pleasures, like dirt and worms, beach breezes, and girly diaper bags. It's obvious your joy comes from the Lord.
Betty - Your faithfulness. In your 80s and still praising God and thanking him for each new day.
Danielle--your encouragement. Whether it's an encouragement to read a good book, go for a mountain hike, or spend more time in prayer, you have practical advice that I appreciate. I also get encouragement from reading your steady supply of comments to me and other bloggers.
Briana--You're the examplar of perseverance. You burn the candle at both ends, you must be made of wax. (Is that why you're so pliable, too?) To take the lot God has given you and keep making the appointment, keep giving those nebulizer treatments, keep cleaning up the yuckies day and night, you still find something good from the pit.
Isabelle, you are about the most gentle person I've (never) met face-to-face. I can just feel your sensitivity. You speak gently, you stitch gently, you sing gently.
With an excess of 20 comments per post left to you, your gentleness is "known to all."
Jessi, my newest blogging sister in Christ. Your faith must be huge. To be a pastor's wife of such a small church and have the faith to raise $50,000 for a building of your own, that's quite a testimony of how God has envisioned you.
Jessica, your steadfastness is fruit from God's bounty. To homeschool your growing gaggle of geese (and one chick) is no small feat. (Or I could be corny and say something about raising 10 small feet is no small feat, but I won't.) Keep encouraging the rest of us to keep on at the corner of Home and School.
Laurie, your humility is quite noteworthy. Admitting your utter dependence on God for the big and little and CONSTANT things of being a Christian wife and mother is something I appreciate seeing regularly on your blog. That and your cute cakes!
Leanne, your self-control is evident because I don't think I've ever read a complaint from you. You either control your thoughts well, or take the negative ones to God and leave the positive ones online! Way to go!
Sacha, your creativity is a reflection of the Creator. From the graphics you do to the handbag designs from old jeans, you put your mind and hands together for the furtherance of the gospel.
Sarah, where do I start? You're my closest blogging friend AND I have the privilege of being related to you and benefitting from so much godliness in your life. But I'll pick just one for today: your compassion. You have always suffered with the suffering, whether human or animal. You cry at the pain of others and look for ways to relieve their hurt. So glad you're my missions partner, sweetie!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Last night I got a call inviting me to join other moms of senior girls to a "round table" sort of discussion about wisdom in the transition to college, with an emphasis on training to be homemakers. Laurie, Abby, and Daryl were leading it and I knew it was something important I wanted to attend with Sarah. Time slated? 9:30-11;30 today. I agreed I could probably be there, but needed Paul to give me instructions on when it was okay to leave home. Why?
Because the siding guys were to start tearing off our old siding today. (These are guys who are affiliated with our terrific roofing contractor and known by Brian Y at church to do good work.) Paul asked me to please be here when they showed up, to go over the contract and sign it, and to ask for a certificate of insurance. (He is in the insurance business, and this matter is of top concern to him. That and money!)
The schedule was to be:
Tuesday - Byron remove old siding, put up Tyvek and wrap
Weds- Brian do windows
Thurs- Byron put up new siding
(Keeping "Brian" and "Byron" straight in the same sentence was the easy part.)
Well, Byron and crew show up at 9:10, the exact time I need to walk out the door to be on time to church. The boss doesn't have a contract. He says Jose faxed it over a long time ago. I explain it was a proposal but didn't have color detail or info about small changes we've made since our first talk. I'm stuck. Paul is training a new guy at work and I know he's got limited phone access all day.
Despite trying him on 3 different phones, I couldn't get him. I return to Byron, who is standing on the porch while his crew stands by at the curb. I explain that I'm in a quandary. No contract. No certificate of insurance. I've watched too many Judge Judy shows. IF it's not in writing, it's contractor's word against homeowner's. Then I feel awful for presenting myself as not trusting him, because I surely do, or we wouldn't have hired him to start with. Yet there's no substitute for getting it in writing. I am following my husband's instructions, the man with whom I have a covenant relationship, not a contractual one! Problem is, neither of us anticipated that the boss would show up without a contract. I needed to talk to someone who kenw the business.
My blood pressure rose as I dialed Brian's number. He said if Paul wants the paperwork, then just hold off a day. Besides, the rain is supposed to come tomorrow and it would be bad to have the house exposed.
Thank you, Lord, for direction. Brian was okay moving his window job a day or two.
I told Byron I was sorry, but without being able to know Paul's wishes, he would have to come back. I felt bad, knowing his guys were "on the clock," but I was doing the best I knew to do. They hung around a few minutes longer, then left. Paul then phoned me and said "go ahead and let them start if they can get it weathertight before it rains." But by then the truck was gone. Jose called and said he'd coordinate it, that it's actually not good to start with rain in the forecast. I said it's fine to come Thursday and by then have all documents in hand and cooler temperatures.
I was an hour late for the mom/daughter meeting, and sheepish about disturbing the flow, but appreciated what was said anyhow. Paul is fine with my decision. He said he probably would've let them start, but since I didn't know that, I did the right thing. No biggie to put off for 2 days what we've been planning for 7 years.
Anyone else have a recent story about needing wisdom on the spot and questioning whether you're doing the right thing--and how it resolved?
Monday, May 14, 2007
After my wonderful nap, the kids presented me with this charming basket of goodies.
Inside it were cards, a vase of flowers --including my all-time favorite, Stargazer lilies--something new: Magnolia Blossoms body lotion by Bath & Body Works,and Lindor chocolate truffles (my favorite. The coating just melts in your mouth and then you get a wonderful chocolate lava center to bite into. Mmmmm! Buy them individually at Michael's. They're at every register.) Creatively wrapped around the 'baxit' were
three balloons --two with cheerful daisies and one with garden bugs. (Guess who picked that one out?)
I was particularly touched by the message Sarah wrote inside her card. It is about looking forward to going to Russia together, beginning our journey together as friends, not just mom and
Such a happy collection. (Click the group photo to enlarge.) I took the basket out on the front porch this morning to photograph and then admire while reading my Bible on the swing. Beautiful morning for sittin' a spell with the Lord and so many of His creations. (BTW, how do you rotate a photograph once you've uploaded it in Blogger?)
About that Indian restaurant, though. It must've changed hands since that chef at my yard sale was there .It's still Indian (but when Joel walked in he looked around and then said to me, "I don't SEE any Indians." I told him they were not like cowboys and Indians, but people from India. He still doesn't get it.) Anyway, the family humored me, let's say, by enduring the meal. Service was nearly laughable. Ultra slow. I enjoyed the presentation of the tandoori chicken more than the taste, actually (it was a bit dry).
We got the appetizer to try something new. Good thing, or we'd have been growling by the time our main dishes showed up. Seriously, I could've been to Wendy's and back before we got our food.
We agreed each person would order something different, but we all chose chicken prepared differently! Stephen's was the best (Chicken Mesala), Sarah's the hottest (ch. vindaloo), Paul's the most average, and Ben's was....well, in a word, disgusting. Not the taste, but the look. It was not what he was expecting at all. Green oatmeal with a couple chunks of light cheese and maybe two chicken chunks of some sort.
We shared all the entrees "for a cultural experience" I said. My dear husband kept trying to find something to compliment. I kept trying to make conversation by drawing the kids out with questions . That was my hard work for the day, getting teens to talk.
I posed a question to Sarah who really procrastinates when it comes to having her picture taken.
I asked, "So, Sarah, what do you want to wear for your senior picture?"
"Nothing," she said.
"Nothing?" we all asked in unison. She almost choked on her water ."I mean I don't want to have my picture taken at all." She was all shades of red by that point. Meanwhile, I'm feigning
shock. "Oh, Paul, we've raised a porn star!"
Dessert was wonderful, though . Rose petal ice cream. It's edible rose petals (a treat in India)
with strawberry sauce and whipped cream served in a fancy frosted dish. It was "on the house" --one dessert for all six of us to share.
I thought the food was good enough to try again, but I'd go with someone who appreciates the cuisine. I will also hold off till the wait staff is more experienced. It's definitely a new business.
BUT I WARN YOU. Do NOT, I repeat, when you're leaving ,DO NOT EAT THE THINGS ON THE HOSTESS DESK THAT LOOK LIKE CHOCOLATE SPRINKLES. You will think they're little minty chips, but they are not. I don't know what they are, but they smell like perfume and taste like chewing tobacco.
We had to go to Broom's Bloom for ice cream to get the taste out of our mouths.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The one he made last night is so clever. What wit for a 5-year-old. Sarah told me that he made the card, she read it, but there was no signature. "Joel, how will Mom know who it's from if you don't sign it?"
So, he added to it. Here goes:
The front of the card says, "WOW" (which, no, is not "MOM" upsidedown; it really does say "WOW," according to Joel.
The top part of the inside says, "DEAR MOM HAPPY MOTHERS DAY'
The bottom part says "LOVE DAD IM KIDDING LOVE JOEL"
Well, the little guy just about fell over laughing at himself as I read it and chuckled.
As I was loading up yesterday's pitiful yard sale leftovers into Paul's car with Joel, I spotted part of my gift had fallen halfway out of a Michael's bag in the trunk. It was a basket lined with pink cloth, and a box of my favorite candy. Joel says, "Oh! That's your Happy Mother's Day gift. We got you a really cute baxit. You can't open the baxit today .But you CAN have THESE!" And he grabbed the Good 'n Plenty. No doubt knew I'd share with him. :)
I handed him two pink candies and a white one. "I don't like the pink ones. They taste girly," he announced.
"They're all the same," I assured him. "The pink and white ones taste exactly the same."
"Oh, they do? Okay." And he popped all 3 in his cute little mouth. It's kinda fun and kinda scary what kids'll believe just because an adult tells them.
Our pastors gave every mother a Panera gift card as we left church today. I love the generosity in our church, and the expressions of gratitude. My two top love languages are words of affirmation and gifts. So to get a card of appreciation and a card for food I can look forward to enjoying without making, well, that's a 2-in-1 for me .
We won't have dinner with my mom tonight. She is too weak, but had a better day yesterday (slept all day without pain meds). I took dinner to them last night, with pink roses. My family is going to take me an Indian restaurant tonight per my request.
My yard sale made a grand total of $12.65. Yup, twelve dollars and some-odd change. Biblically, twelve is a number of completion, but I was hoping it wasn't the complete sum of half a day's work. Yard sales are not popular on our street, which is off the beaten path. Our community and the adjacent one were having yard sales, but you have to live on the main drag to get the most traffic. Lots of people bought scrapbook stuff from me (mainly stickers. Whoop-dee-do.)
One lady bought silk flowers for her mom's grave. She also wanted a copy of a book called Silent Spring. Never heard of it. She told me it's about what would happen if pesticides were abused en masse. "You wouldn't hear birds, bugs, frogs. It was written in the 60s, when DDT was all the talk." I told her my dad was an environmental engineer for Edgewood Arsenal in the 70s. I remembered how proud I was of him when he told me (in words I could understand about his job) "I'm trying to keep more fish from dying." It made me think anew about kind my parents have always been to animals. "People who are kind to animals are kind people," one blind elderly Amish man told me once., upon hearing my Sarah interact with his piglets.
One man at the yard sale--a chef, was looking for cookbooks. He collects them. "I have over 900 of them," he told me.
"I have a microwave cookbook here," I said, "but I guess that doesn't count, huh? ''
"No, that doesn't count." I asked him what cuisine is his favorite and he said Indian. Then he highly recommended the local Indian restaurant here in town that I haven't heard much about.
"Try the Tandoori chicken," he said. "Delicious." If you can't trust a chef, who can you trust?
He also smiled, telling me about a recent yard sale acquisition--200 dollars' worth of knives for 5 bucks."
"The guy said when they get dull he just buys new ones. I said when they get dull, I sharpen 'em. I'll be happy to take those off your hands." I asked him his knife of choice and he said Hoffritz. (I made him spell it. Never heard of it.) So, dare I look up the cost of a real chef's knife that he bought in Manhattan? Or shall I just sharpen my dull ones?
Friday, May 11, 2007
One year ago today, my dear friend Sandy Barranco received the devastating news that her oldest son, Tim, was dead. He had taken his own life one evening during exam week at seminary. He was to graduate that month.
But the demons visited him in a depressed state of bipolar disorder, pummeling his mind with lies, deception, and despair. They convinced him that life as he knew it was not worth living. Perhaps they twisted the promise of "no more sorrow, no more tears" to be something he could--and should--bring to himself? No one but God knows the thoughts and feelings Tim was battling in those last, dark hours of the soul. He had reached the end of the fight.
I am left, like everyone else, wondering "why?" Why would a young man who had been at the top of his class, a brilliant scholar, a popular camp counselor, a beloved son and brother, a sensitive friend, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, commit suicide in the spring of his life? My conclusion: mental illness.
It's a topic that, for too long, has remained a stigma in society and in the church.
By and large, Christians have been told their anguish is their fault and all their fault. A sin problem. A lack of faith. Prayerlessless. Unbelief. Unforgiveness. Whatever. Modern psychology says "it's a brain chemical malfunction" treatable by medicine.
My response? It's both. Having experienced a piece of hell on earth for four years (from 2001-2005) I can attest to what helps and what doesn't in terms of helping someone in this fight.
1. The greatest help you can give a mentally afflicted person is prayer.
2. The second is a simple verbal reminder, "God loves you and so do I." Call them, email them, flood their snail mailbox with cards. But don't remain silent. I have always interpreted silence as lack of care on the part of others, whether I'm right about that or not. Perception is reality, as the saying goes .
3. If you have not been a good example of love to that person, don't say "I love you." Instead, confess to them that you have failed to show genuine love. Then start being genuine.
4. If you've never experienced depression, tell them you don't understand what they're going through, but you do care.
5. If you indeed have experienced it, admit it. But DON'T say, "I know how you feel"--EVER--because only Jesus knows how anyone else feels. (This advice goes across the board, not just mental health issues. Even if you've lost a child by suicide, your feelings are not identical to someone who has.)
6. Speak SHORT bits of truth to them at any given time. Don't preach the entire New Testament to them unless the Holy Spirit directly tells you to! The mind can only absorb so much.
7. Encourage them to talk to a doctor. You can't force someone to do that, but the best thing my friend Barb did when I called her one night ready to end it all, was say, "Get yourself a doctor now." She called me the next night to see if I had. She bugged me till I did. Thank you, Barb! You are a Godsend! Thankfully a wise pastor also advised such a move along with a promise from me that I'd deal with the sin that was factoring into my situation.
I had been to my husband, to a couple of pastors, to the internet, to family members, but I was ashamed to tell my primary doctor. Why? Because I had made it clear to her (in visits of unrelated heath matters) that I am a Christian, believe in the power of prayer, have great faith for healing, and so on. I thought that Jesus might be smaller to her if I told her my problems. After all, we are to magnify Christ, not minimize Him, right? Well, that was part of the deception from hell-- that by somehow admitting my uncontrollable sadness, my sweat-producing, heart-pounding anxiety in public (most notably at church while listening to exhortations on confessing sin), my tendency to rage when criticized, and my increasing guilt over not being able to stop the suffering within and without, I would not be a "good witness" to my own doctor. The truth was, I did not see God as MY Defender, but me as His. And what terrible defender I was (I reasoned) if I couldn't just pray my way to a normal life. Warped! God doesn't need ME to show His power. I cannot minimize His power by keeping silent about it. He is perfectly self-sufficient, thank you very much. I can proclaim His power, but if I don't, He is still Who HE says he is.
8. Remember that the brain is an organ, too. If you use acne cream for the skin (the body's largest organ), antibiotics for infections (to keep organs from breaking down), or cholesterol medicine to keep arteries open to the life-pumping organ--the heart, why dismiss antidepressants for the brain? The brain, after all, is the message sender and receiver of the whole body. You can no more tell your brain to just "stop the madness" than you can tell your high blood pressure to just "come down." In both cases you can, and should, cry out to Jesus, for mercy. He is capable of restoring health to both. The problem is that Christians, for some reason, if they are uninformed, tend to categorize thought life as merely spiritual and not physical. That's ignorant. Truly ignorant of biology and chemistry. Not that I'm an expert in either science, but even a 5th grader is smart enough to figure out that if the message sender and receiver of the body is out of whack, it should be treated. You can't counsel your skin into clarity, and you can't always counsel your brain into clarity, either.
9. That said, my best recommendation is to talk to a doctor and if she prescribes a medical intervention, strongly consider it . If you're married, take your hubby along. If you're single, take a single friend along (or a parent) for moral support.
Then don't be afraid to try the medicine for 3 months. See if you don't find a "new normal" that you actually like! As my sister says, "It doesn't mean your boat never rocks, it just means you can sit down and not stand up while it's rocking."
10. Encourage the person to deal biblically with any areas of unforgiveness, bitterness, unbelief, grief, or whatever, within a short time of getting medical treatment. There is probably a combination of things going on, that of course aren't rectified by medication alone. However, without medication, I found that the bombardment of lies from the Enemy (sometimes coming from well-meaning Christians saying that I JUST needed to forgive, JUST needed to have more faith and all would be fine) was too great in my weakness. In case you can't tell, I am not fond of the word "just" in such contexts. Just pray, just believe, just this or that. For the person who can "just" barely get out of bed in the morning, you don't know how "just pray" sounds. It's WAY too big for the despairing heart that says, "But I've tried that, and it doesn't work. I'm still miserable." Nor say, "I'm just going to pray for you," because that sounds like "hey, it's not much, but--" . Truth is, hearing someone pray for me on the spot (in person or over the phone) has done GREAT wonders for my timid heart. (See #1 again if you have any doubt.)
Our God did not fail Tim. God was present and sovereign all along the way. Sandy has assured me that God prepared her to believe those truths long before it happened. He has comforted their family in bountiful and beautiful ways. Sure, there have been some deep valleys from the shadow of Tim's death, but God has sustained the Barrancos. Sandy, if you are reading this, please know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Thank you for being such a good mother to Tim. I will not wish you a happy Mother's Day because it sounds rather shallow, but I will say that I am praying for you as you walk through this anniversary of the loss of your precious son. We miss him very much. We ache with you and your family. And I count you among God's greatest gifts to me, as a transparent friend who has always cared about me even in the midst of your grief. May you feel God's loving embrace this Mother's Day.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Good news is his office is less than a mile from their home. He is writing a letter to the airlines that states the medical necessity for my parents to get their tickets to Birobidzhan refunded.
Please pray :
-For quick and efficient treatment and diagnosis.
-For peace (again, ongoing need. This is not a one-shot "got peace" deal!)
For Mama's pain to be as minimal as possible for the doctor to still discern the severity. (Pain is a good thing; great indicator of what's wrong, but how we hate to endure it or see it.)
-For the airlines to be agreeable to this refund (the trip would have been next Tuesday).
-For stamina as Daddy takes care of her, and for me and my sister (I have one local, 2 out of state) to do what they need when they need and still serve our families' needs.
-For grace for their tiny congregation (about 8 regulars) to pull together at this time. Of course there are no assistant pastors in a church so small. No one to fill the pulpit on a moment's notice.
-For a non-cancer diagnosis. I dread the "c" word.
"OH, dear Jesus, help me... Praise you, Father... Oh, my goodness...."She had been triaged, but there were no rooms available in the ER. So there she sat. I put my head on her shoulder, and when I took it away, she said, "Oh, I liked it there." Back it went. I had my Bible with me and asked what psalm she wanted to hear and she said 145. It seemed to alleviate pain to hear scripture read aloud. I apologized with a laugh that the enchiladas I made them last night had probably brought on the nausea. "If I had known my meal would do this to ya, Mama, I would've just brought you some Taco Bell." She then barfed and joked, "Well, I'll be, Zo, it WAS your food!" (Sorry to those of you with weak stomachs.)
Finally got to a room around 2 a.m after petitioning a nurse (very nicely) to remember that my mom's diabetic and had just been in the ER Monday night for stroke-like symptoms. They got a room in a little while. By then my younger sister had shown up.
All symptoms and clinical exam pointed to appendicitis, but it took 45 minutes for a very good and attentive nurse named Ray to find a cooperative vein to draw blood from. At last a teeny needle in her thumb produced something. We told him how good he was at his job and he smiled, "This is my calling." I love those words! Especially when I'm sitting at the bedside of a painstricken mother.
She was pretty dehydrated, but unallowed to drink water because she might need surgery.
Meanwhile I was patting her very hot face with cold damp paper towels. "Not exactly Egyptian cotton here, Mama, but at least it's cool." I remember all the times she patted my feverish cheeks when I was little, and was grateful to return the comfort.
She finally asked the nurse for a pain med injection, which eased the nausea even before the nausea meds were administered. Then she was finally able to drift off to a light sleep. At 5:00 Daddy told me to feel free to go home and get sleep myself, which I did, assured that he was no longer under duress listening to her moan. The whole time she was very mentally sharp, speaking the lingo of nurses. (The guy across the hall with a bad cough spoke the language of a sailor, so I closed the door. Catch 22. Open the door, catch a cool breeze on her hot face, or close the door on the cusser and burn up.) I found myself praying for the angry man to get relief from his pain. It was his coping skill of choice to tell nurses and doctors they didn't deserve to be in the medical field. So I was thankful to be in the room with someone catching flies with honey instead of vinegar.
Latest update from Daddy: it is nearly noon and they have discovered it is NOT appendicitis. It is a build-up of blood around the kidney and in the ureter. She is being dismissed to go see a urologist near her home at 2 p.m. We all wish the doctor would go to her instead, but this is the way it is.
Please pray for us all. My mom and dad especially. We need the Lord's wisdom and protection. As I write this, I realize I need steady comfort. When my mind is "stayed on Him," I have peace. "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it." starts with a wandering mind to the "what ifs" and I am wrong to do that. So pray my mind is stayed on Jesus.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
She came home last evening after the doctor went over six pages of inconclusive findings. While she did have stroke-like symptoms, the CT scan was negative. They didn't do an MRI. My mom finally told the doctor she thinks it's her medications which had recently been changed. He dismissed her notion with a wave of the hand. But she is an avid documenter of her own meds (once a nurse, always a nurse) and she can pretty well surmise that it's probably a build-up of meds that her body isn't ultimately adjusting to very well. She has felt unsteady on her feet since her "a-fib" in December. But they are still planning to travel to Birobidjhan next Tuesday. I am taking them dinner toight--bean enchiladas and Caribbean Salad (they're vegetarians).
Not me. Today I ate another elephant. One "bite" at a time, I knocked out spring cleaning of about 1/9 of my kitchen. I vacuumed the crown moulding, Sarah wiped them down plus the fronts of the upper cabinets (which she can reach without a chair) and I tackled the fronts of the base cabinets AND my lazy Susan. I took pics but will save them for a bigger "ta-da" post when I boast about how all good I am in the cleaning department. What was so sweet of the Lord was how near His presence was during this and how it felt like he was my groom and I his new bride doing the whole homemaking thing out of pure joy. That doesn't happen often, especially when I'm wiping down 21 different somewhat gunky canisters of spices. What I discovered was a preponderance of coriander. I have whole coriander in a chrome carousel. I have crushed coriander in a plastic bottle. I have coriander enough to feed a small army . But tell me, what small army would want it? So I ditched half of it. I also have a jug of oregano to spice up a year's worth of spaghetti sauce for a Roman army. But most other quantities of spices on hand are reasonable. So I kept wiping down their exteriors and rearranging them. I was reminded of Mary of Magdalene who came to her Lord's tomb to anoint her Lord's body with spices.
While I relocated my Christmas cookie cutters to their new home in my new-to-me (but free!) buffet table, I thought about my Operation Gummi Worm club who made cookies for Trip at Christmas and Valentines. Darling girls--and Joel.
When I was reorganizing my tea stash, I thought of (and prayed for) Isabelle. How I'd love to have a cup of tea in your flat in Paris someday, ma chere! When I saw my new coffee tin from Sarah, I thanked God for my thoughtful daughter . Every now and then she picks up some bargain for me that she knows I'll like. One week it's a clock, the next week a coffee tin. Thanks, Sarah!
During this time, Paul was outside pressure washing/de-staining the deck. The sky was grey and overcast, not burning his skin. But he was soaking wet. No sooner had I finished fussing over my "new Sue," the sun came out and shone brightly through my new clean window (accidentally clean from the pressure washer's overspray). The sun brightened up the countertops. The stainless steel was all shiny.
"A sun-kissed kitchen!" I thought. Then it was almost like Jesus whispered, "Thanks, honey. It looks so nice." (No, it wasn't Paul's voice. He came in a little later for lunch and said,"So, is somebody gonna do the top of the fridge, too?" (ERGH!:))
So those are my two happy reports for the day. Time to start those enchiladas and read a quick chapter for ladies' fellowship tonight. (If it weren't for the last minute, I'd get nothing done.)
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
She called her cardiologist who sent her immediately to the nearest hospital, which unfortunately is Upper Chesapeake. She did not want to go there. I can't blame her. They have a terrible reputation for ER service, but it is the closest to her (and to us and many of our friends). She was seen quickly but then not seen again for quite awhile.
There was apparently no lasting damage from this type of stroke. But it makes her more likely to have another, worse one. She is in the process of getting her meds straightened out.
All of this is compounded (or maybe brought on by?) the stress of their upcoming trip to Birobijhan (Eastern Russia) to minister to Jews and Messianics. They are supposed to leave May 15th.
I spoke with Daddy this afternoon. He said the doctors want to run one more test before releasing her this afternoon. I wonder if this is "real time" afternoon or "Upper Chesapeake" time? She didn't want visitors, just quietness.
Please pray for us all. I am a bit jittery, as you might understand. My dad is like a duck: appears to be gliding on the surface, but underneath he is paddling really hard emotionally. (He makes a better patient than nurse and vice versa, but God is sovereign.) Part of the "gliding" meant not telling us directly. I found out from my sister who found out from one of my mom's Hebrew students whom my dad had called this morning to say they needed to cancel class today. So I am having to calm myself down from the lapse in communication as well as the actual news. I don't handle it well lwhen people withhold facts from me. In my lifetime, more bad than good has resulted from it.
So this is certainly a multi-level prayer request, isn't it?
Monday, May 07, 2007
It's a double size, dark wood, and the style is (I think) from the 1940s. The headboard is solid; the footboard has an "X" shape cut out of each side. (Sarah, will you please post before and after pics of your room? That way people can see this bed AND your room makeover!)
There are side rails also, made of wood. Since the bed is old, we reinforced the mattresses underneath for extra security. The bed works great as a child's bed, a guest bed, or --if you really wanna be creative--a flower bed!
My hope is to have all the money we need by May 14th ( a week from today). For timing purposes ($4598 due to GAin back on April 23rd) we put it on the credit card. That was in addition to the $1600 due back on April 6th.) The cc bill comes due the 16th; hence my desire to bank the funds on the 14th. Besides, our church is heading in the direction of getting a new parking lot (YaY! Finally! Sarah sprained her ankles over the winter stepping off the curb onto loose rocks!) So our congregants are encouraged to generously put their money where their car (and heels!) go every Sunday , and maybe Monday-Friday, or sometimes Saturday). I wholeheartedly believe in tithing and giving generously to the local church first. Therefore I want to close my mouth in the next week about what "me and mine" still need.
Second, but related to the first:
1) If you are so inclined --or know of someone inclined--to give to us and as yet have not, we are gladly accepting donations in any amount. None too small or too great. (Okay, over $1300 would be too great, unless you want to toss in money for little toys and gifts, bottled water, and souvenirs!)
2) I have the following for sale, if you would like to buy them:
a. Century stroller, denim with hood, single stroller, w/ big basket underneath. Five years old, good shape.
b. A lot of fabric Mostly cotton. If interested, I have a few pictures of it cuz it was on eBAy.
c. Sewing machine in cabinet.
d. Set of dishes with an apple theme. It's 43 pieces total. By Casuals.
e. Signed print of a ballerina wistfully holding a pair of toe shoes
f. Creative Memories scrapbook supplies--LOTS of stickers, paper, idea books, page protectors, templates, and more.
g. Homeschool books. If you need a certain title, ask. I may have it after 14 years of collecting, particularly if it's Tapestry.
h. Banana Republic capris, off white, size 12.
i. Toddler boy clothes, mostly 4T and 6.
j. Brio train set. 30+ pcs. compatible w/ Thomas the Tank Engine
k. Antique tin toys
l. Jones New York ladies XL top, hot pink, stretchy, wide scoop neck
I"M ALSO WILLING TO MAKE A WREATH ( personality, memory, summer, etc) if you can front the money and I'll send it to you in July .
I'm willing to mail everything if you pay for shipping (you long distance gals). Everything except the stroller and dishes, that is. OH, and the sewing machine. Yeh, me and it ain't goin' nowhere together.
Most importantly, please pray again for this final week of our fundraising. I've seen amazing things lately! People we don't even know giving big bucks!
We will then be heading down the homestretch, but I still have to help Sarah and Stephen make last-minutes travel plans for their class missions trip to Boston (June 3-10) plan a graduation ceremony and dinner, have relatives in from Texas and Nevada, try to plant some flowers including a cutting garden this year ,and find some happy curriculum for my soon-to-be KINDERGARTENER while helping my older kids find college scholarships!
Whew, boy .Lots goin' on.
Let me know if you're interested in donating, buying, and/or praying!
Saturday, May 05, 2007
It wasn't until I was halfway home that I realized my mistake. I quickly took Joel and the food into the house, told Paul what happened, and headed back out to McDonald's. Of course praying all the way that someone had either turned it into management or returned it to the Redbox right there.
I entered. the McDonald's with hope. Not much, but a little. Coming out was a teenage girl who held a DVD at her side, looking sheepish. She kind of scooted past me and walked out. Nah, I would think the best. I would think she had used her own card to check out her own movie. I would think a good Samaritan had turned in a wayward DVD. So I inquired. No one had turned in a movie at the counter. No movie, as we checked, had fallen under the drink machines or the Redbox itself.
"I'll just go home and check the transactions online, " I said. "Maybe someone put it back in the machine."
"Or else they kept it," the manager said. (The same manager who doesn't check that the fries are hot and the salad is cold.) "Worst case scenario, you're out 25 bucks. That's what Redbox charges when you're 25 days late."
So I checked out a second copy of the same movie. Talk about Deja Vu!
Then I came home and checked the transactions online. Nope. It shows the two copies I rented, but not that the first DVD had be returned by some good Samaritan (or anyone else).
This may sound silly, but at the tune of 25 bucks, I ask your prayers that this movie will get back safely and timely to Redbox. I really don't mind footing the bill for even a few people to watch it on my dime (or a dollar a day), but such a seemingly small error on my part could mean parting with 25 dollars that I KNOW would be a true waste and true embarrassment to me. AFter 20 years with me, Paul is pretty forgiving. "At least it's not a hundred bucks, " was all he said.
I was thinking about getting corny and asking you to pray movie titles. "Lord, may someone Do the Right Thing so that next time Zo checks online it'll say "YOu've Got Mail" and she'll see that her movie was turned in with "Speed". Got any other kernels o' corn to add?
Friday, May 04, 2007
"Yeah," he said,
I, of course, had to agree with the assessment, being the observant mother that I am. Joel draws Spiderman probably 25 times a week, standing, climbing, crouching, defending justice in every position. As an artist, he notices every detail, down to the number of abs his superhero has in comparison to his oldest brother.
But never has Ben appeared as strong and as tall as he did yesterday. He had to address his freshman speech class at Harford Community in the evening, and I wondered if he needed a practice audience.
"Nah, but if you could proofread this--" and before he handed me the speech I was asking what the assignmment was.
"A commemorative speech," he said. "You have to pick someone praiseworthy."
"Who'd you pick?" I asked.
"Jesus," he said.
I read over his speech and nearly wept. If you knew how I have prayed for this boy over the years and wondered if he'd stand as tall and strong spiritually as he does physically, you would understand the depth of my emotion. To join the moms who can say with assurance, "I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth" --THAT was far better than the day I joined motherhood 19 years ago!
So many times through the years I have wondered if he'd be a leader or a follower. If he'd be content just to live his life as a quiet testimony to the Lord without ever boldly opening his mouth and profess to a dying world his love for Jesus. I wondered especially if he'd "hide his light" during college like I had. He was one who had come out of a safe Christian home, a nurturing church where God-talk is the norm, and a Christian school where discipleship is its middle name, but none of that guarantees passion.
I watched him wrestle with his faith last semester, and for a while did believe that he would choose the path of least resistance. I saw a young man more eager to find his academic wings and keep up a high GPA and a strong upper body than to speak up for his Lord. I saw him read his Bible at home. I knew his attendance at church and care group was regular, but wondered, if out from under the shelter of those places and people, would he speak up before godless peers on a secular campus?
He brought home a CD after speech class last night. Then he disappeared to the basement to unwind. I stuck the CD in. It was of him giving his commemorative speech.
"As soon as I saw that we were to pick someone praiseworthy," he began to the class, "I knew who it would be. Jesus. My Jesus. NO one is more worthy of praise than Jesus."
He went on to speak of what Christ has done in his life. "He gives my life purpose and meaning and joy." He spoke of Jesus' power to heal, his humility in the face of crucifixion, his desire for all to have eternal life. Ben ended by inviting questions afterward to anyone who'd like to know more about 'Jesus, my Jesus.'
Normally after a speech in that class, there's moving around, rustling of papers, chit-chat among students as the next speaker walks up. But I noticed a somber mood. Quiet. A holy hush in the room. My heart skipped a beat.
"Thank you, Lord Jesus," I whispered as I watched it. Thank you for hearing my prayers for Ben. For being real to him, for solidifying his faith in You. For giving him courage to speak Your name in front of a potentially mocking or hostile crowd."
I am floating today.
Here are some old pictures of my Ben thru the years--years I played with him, prayed for him, watched him play, listened to him pray .
In no particular order....here's a few shapshots of his life.
Senior year with Molly (top of page)--his beloved Golden Retriever he always wanted . In 2002 I made all three kids write persuasive essays on why to get another dog. We were trying to decide whether to take on the responsibility again our after our old border collie, Lady, died. (When your students don't want to write, you have to give them all the more incentive to write with purpose and a goal for their effort. I capitalized on this opportunity!) Ben took the topic a step further; his essay was on "Why to Get a Big Dog"--which, as you can see, succeeded.
Turning 3. We played Pin the Tail on the Dalmatian (Paul's drawing of our the only dog around at that time--our neighbors'.)
My sister Andrea's horse, Boom, decided to
Youngest fisherman but he caught the biggest
Maryland rockfish on Craig's boat that day.
Strategist Ben with strategist Pappaw.
Above: my favorite picture of the children when they were little. Ben age 3, Sarah age 2, and newborn Stephen.
I am one blessed mama!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
(Blogger isn't letting me post links for some reason. Please click on the blog in the sidebar called "Homeward Bound." Thanks in advance.)
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I love the smell. It's intoxicating and takes me back to third grade when I lived in Kansas. I used to ride my bike through the alley of sand from my house to Barb's, stopping on the way to inhale Mrs. Fair's wonderful lilacs.
The last thing I want to do is even hint that the neighbor's overhanging lilacs bother me. Quite the opposite.
I know the answer to my question: When they get home, ask to take a few lilacs. They'll probably say, "Take all you want!" I just don't want to wait till 7:00 for them to get home!!! I want those lilacs in my house now!
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
2. What color are your socks right now? Which socks? I have lots of them, but no two that like to spend time together.
3.What are you listening to right now? Joel strumming his dad's electric guitar and saying, "Ya like that sound, Mom?"
4. What was the last thing that you ate? chicken and dumplins.
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Oh, yeah. Nothing like it.
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? fire engine red
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Sandy Barranco. Around noon.
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Of course!
9. How old are you today? 41.75
10. Favorite drink? Dunkins Original Blend with CoffeeMate Hazelnut creamer anytime; when I'm hot, ice cold water or my daughter's Southern swate tay
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? lacrosse
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Twice. Not fond of the result either time.
13. Any pets? One Golden Retriever named Molly.
14. Favorite food? Just one? Let me make it a combo: an appetizer of nachos with all the toppings, Beef Burguday over garlic mashed potatoes, a side salad of Romaine hearts wtih bacon, mushroom and honey dijon dressing homemade, Sandy Browne's Apple Crumble with Breyer's or Edy's real vanilla ice cream or ROY's chocolate lava souffle.
15. What was the last movie you watched? Amazing Grace. I'm so not a movie buff.
16. Favorite day of the year? Easter Sunday
17. What do you do to vent anger? Same as Bri, who said, "Oh, not anything productive or God-glorifying most of the time: throw things, hit things, slam dishes, doors, yell. Occasionally, I'll clean like a crazy woman". But I will add to that my other ways of venting: I have been known to drive to Arbutus at midnight with less than 1/8 of a tank of gas. I have called Barb to ask her to meet me at the airport in 4 hours. But often I cry when I can't stands no mo'. Sometimes I cuss.
18. Favorite childhood toy? Barbies (and Ken). We always had lik 12 Barbies and one Ken. What was up with that? He had a tan,decent muscles, and thick hair but absolutely no skills or money. Not exactly who I'd pick to woo me in my 40s.
19. Cherries or Blueberries? bing cherries picked right off a Kansas tree; blueberries in muffins or pie or on top of Grape Nuts with yogurt
20. Do you want your friends to post this? Pretty please?
21. Who is most likely to respond? Most people I know have already done this.
22. Who is least likely to respond? Laurie
23. Living arrangements? house on a slope in the burbs with hubby and 4 wonderful kids and a big old lovey dovey dog
24. When was the last time you cried? last week remembering an old wound
25. What is on the floor of your closet? less than the last time I answered this question, but still more than there oughta be
26. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Barb in KS is the friend I've had longest. Barb, if you're reading this, figure out how to register on Blogger and do this!!! You have every talent know to man or woman. If you can gut a deer when you're 7 months pregnant, you can figure out Blogger.
27. What did you do last night? Fell asleep on the sofa at 7 pm after getting home from a day of service at the GAiN warehouse with the CDS.
28. Favorite smells: gasoline, rubber, horse sweat, baby's nursey milky breath, apple pie with cinnamon, Downy fresh laundry, my husband, most men's cologne, mown grass, sawdust, vanilla candles, a crackling bonfire, a swimming pool, and much more...
29. What do you regret the most in life? the years between 14 and 20.
30. What are you most afraid of? Alzheimer's, if it made me forget God and all His benefits.
31. What are your favorite types of hamburgers? charbroiled on the 4th of July
32. Favorite breed of dog? Goldens
33. Number of keys on your key ring? 1
34. How many years at your current job? 21.5
35. Favorite day of the week? Sunday
36. Which states have you lived in? Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri
37. Favorite Holiday? Thanksgiving. Lots of people, lots of food, lots of good memories, lots of thanks, no obligatory gift giving
38. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? Does a vacuum cleaner count as heavy machinery?