Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who's in the Driver's Seat?

Mauschen (my dog) and I are exploring bike joring together.  Bike joring is a lot like ski joring, except it’s on a bicycle.  Joring is a sport in which the dog or other animal (horse often) assists the human in their work.  In joring, the animal and human are joined only by a joring lead, a special kind of lead that has bungee built into it do help with starts and stops.  There is no bit or bridle like with driving a horse.   Joring can be done individually or in teams.  In my case, it’s done individually, since I only have one dog.  She does a mighty fine job though.
The other day I sent Littlest Brother out to run her because I wasn’t feeling up to it (truth be told the only thing I was feeling up to was hunkering down in my bed and sleeping it all off).  When he returned I asked him how she did.  His report was not positive.  Mostly, she’d run beside the bike, veering off to sniff a lot and not pulling her weight at all.
I was shocked.  I’d taken her out every day in the last week and she had pulled beautifully; never beside me and seldom stopping to sniff anything.  Why was her behavior so different with him?  I took her out with me again the next morning and once again, she was pulling wonderfully with no problem (road conditions on the other hand were a problem).
I thought back to a time a couple weeks ago when we were in town and my sister had tried walking her.  She pulled on the lead, chased squirrels and generally misbehaved.  When I had Mauschen a few moments later she walked as if she had just graduated from puppy school at the top of her class.
Another time I watched as a family member tried to put the dog into a “sit” while guests were at the house.  Mauschen would have none of it.  Sitting was not in her vocabulary at that time.  I walked over, snapped my fingers and gave the command.  Her butt dropped and she sat, her tail thumping on the floor.
The dog hadn’t changed.  What had changed was who was driving.  The human factor.   Mauschen knows me and I know her.  It’s not that she doesn’t know the rest of my family, they are all very familiar to her, but her and I have a special relationship.  When we are out joring together, she is not just providing me with pulling strength, she is being my eyes and my ears.
When we are out together, I don’t ever where my hearing aids and very seldom where my glasses.  Essentially, I’m riding blind and deaf.   I have to trust her completely to make the right calls when we are riding together and I know she will.  If she refuses to cross a road, I know it’s because she can see or hear something that I cannot.  If she starts pulling to the side (and her nose isn’t to the ground in a sniff!) I know a car is coming behind me and I can’t hear it.
As I have to trust her, she knows that she can trust me.  If I tell her to sit and stay, she knows it’s because I have the situation under control.  We are a team.  I don’t try to overpower her and she doesn't try to overpower me.  We just work together.

This led to some life thoughts.  Who is in the driver’s seat?  Who am I in a partnership with that I trust completely?

The Sunday School answer of course is G-d.  G-d is someone who I can trust completely, someone who will always have my best interests in mind, even when I can’t see it.  Do I always live as if this is the case?  Far from it!  Often I find myself working against G-d, working on my own, without trusting him to lead me completely.  It’s sad that my 4 year old black lab trusts me more than I trust the G-d that created me.  Even sadder is the fact that I trust her to guide me through the everyday things of life more than I do my Lord and Savior.

Someday I hope to trust my husband they way my dog and I trust each other.  Mauschen and I share the load together, we trust each other to have the others best interests in mind.  I would hope to have that with my future spouse.

It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone looked out for everyone else and we all had each others best interests in mind.  That would be delightful. Then a economy of mutual trust would be built.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Neurology Update

To all of you who were praying for today's travels and appointment, thank you very much.  The roads were a little messy, but we made is safely both there and back.
At the hospital there was a lot of waiting, which is normal.
As it turns out, there was nothing really to worry about.  Dr. B just wanted to check in and make sure he was on the same page as my neurosurgeon in Michigan.  He is pleased that my seizure activity has decreased.  However, as with my neurosurgeon/neurologist, he is concerned about the increase in frequency and severity of my headaches.
A recent CT scan in Michigan showed that Spot is behaving so there is no new imaging scheduled at this point, which is a huge relief (I hate when I have to have imaging, and it's not overly healthy to keep exposing my brain to radiation).
The plan at this point is to increase one of my medications, one that is supposed to control seizures as well as headaches and see if we can find a level that is tolerable to my system and helps the headaches.  I'll start increasing tomorrow after I get to the clinic to fill the prescription.  Hopefully it will be tolerated well and will help.  That's our big prayer right now.  That the medication change will go well and that my headache will decrease.
Again, thank you so much for all your prayers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Unexpected Phone Call

Shortly before lunch today the phone rang.  I was back in my "office" (aka the bathroom of the grandparent flat: it's warm, dry, and quiet) struggling with a paper. There were enough other people inside that I didn't worry about answering it.  Shortly I felt footsteps coming towards my office.  I sure wasn't expecting any phone calls.  Mom knocked on the door as I looked up from Calvin.
"Dr. B wants to know if you want to see him."
My brow surely crinkled as I processed this new, unexpected tidbit of information.  Dr. B?  That's my neurologist here in Ontario.  In the City.  Typically it takes forever to get an appointment to see him.  And by forever I mean months and months.  I have plans to leave for Iowa on the 8th or the 9th and nothing is going to get in the way of those plans!  I forbid it to.
"He has an opening tomorrow if you want it"
Tomorrow?  As in the day after today?  yeah, I'll go.  I've been wanting to see him for some time now, just to retouch base and to discuss some important things with him.  Things like medication levels and debilitating headaches, and you know, maybe the odd seizure that pops up every now and then.  Afterall, he is my neurosurgeon.  Perhaps he'll want to peek at Spot, but I doubt it.  They checked on Spot not too long ago and said he was behaving.
So tomorrow morning, earlier than early, Mom and I will leave for the City.  Prayers would be appreciated.  It's a decent drive and some of the roads between here and there in the winter weather leave a lot to be desired.   Prayers would also be appreciated for the visit itself. There's always a lot of anxiety around these kinds of visits, especially when I'm being fit in on short notice.
So praying friends, please pray.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Sparrow

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  Matthew 6:25-27

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matthew 10: 29-30

Two sparrows for a penny.  Two sparrows, so insignificant, unless of course you have a special relationship to sparrows.  Out here they are a dime a dozen (which if you do the math is more valuable than the were when the Gospel of Matthew was written).  No one notices if they fly into the windshield or the cat gets one (as long as the cat doesn't bring it into the house).  Yet G-d notices.   And he feeds them.  All of them.  All the hundreds and thousands of sparrows that fly around, he feeds them all and cares for them and sees them when they fall.  How much more does he care for us?

When Scriven penned the old hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus", he wrote:
"What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer."

(and two more verses that can be found here)

For Scriven, nothing was too small to go to Jesus with, so here is my sparrow.
About 2 weeks ago I was switched to a new medication in hopes of better controlling my seizures and my migraines.  The first week I slept.  And I slept and I slept.
And then I stopped sleeping.  Completely.   I just don't sleep any more.  It's not for lack of trying, it's not for lack of trying to do stuff all day to exhaust me enough to sleep at night.  I just don't sleep.
Every once in awhile I can get an hour or two in, but it's shallow sleep, not deep, restful sleep.  As I got up this morning after another very restless night (I was up every hour at least), I had a strong urge to pray about it and to ask other people to pray.  So I am.
If you are the praying sort, please pray that I sleep.  Pray that I sleep at night and can be awake during the day, pray that my sleep is restful and life giving.
There are many more "important" things I could ask you to pray for.  The brother of a friend who was badly burned from the waist down.  A friend who is coming to term with twins who are both in the breech position.  People who are having the first Christmases without loved ones, friends who have just had very painful operations, my dog who got in a cat fight, my friend's baby who isn't gaining weight, discernment for my future...but that's not what I'm asking for prayer for.  I'm asking for prayer for my sparrow.  I'm asking prayer that the sleepless nights end and that I can enter this Christmas season well rested and ready to go.

So please, pray for my sparrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are you an introvert?

Someone asked me the other day if I was an introvert. It remind me of this blog post that I had tucked away in a secret place, waiting for the right time to post.  I decided today was as good a day as any.  So here it is.

According to people who know stuff, only about 25% of the people in the world are introverts. And like many things those 25% of the people fit on a continuum ranging from mildly introverted to extremely introverted. Other people  argue that everyone falls somewhere on the scale between extreme extroversion to extreme introversion. along a normal bell type curve with the majority of people would fall somewhere in the middle (I don't care enough to do the actual research and see who is right. popular opinion is that 25% of the population is introverted). I'm much closer to the extreme introversion end of things that the mildly introverted. People exhaust me. I recently read an excellent article  about introversion and I wanted to reiterate some of the points the author made.

1. Introverts don't like to talk.
This is simply not true. It's not that I don't like to talk. At times I've been accused of talking too much. But every time I've accused of talking to much it's because I'm talking about something that interests me. I despise small talk most the time. I don't care to talk about the weather unless we are about to be blown away by a tornado, there is cool stuff to take pictures of, or the like. Same with sports. Kids, children's programming, cooking, baking, sewing...those are all great things to talk about. Your story, why you do what you do, how you feel about events in your life and why...those are even better things to talk about.
If you want me to talk and to listen to you talk, lets go somewhere where there isn't a ton of background noise. I can focus on what you are saying better and really listen.

2. Introverts are shy.
False. I am not shy. I just need a reason to get out. I don't want to be a bother to anyone or interrupt anyone's thoughts.

3. Introverts are rude.
Not intentionally. I just don't see the world the same way as everyone else. Beating around the bush is a waste of time, unless you are actually try to flush a small critter out of the bush. Just tell me what you are thinking and let me tell you what I'm thinking. Give me time to find my words if I need them, but don't be surprised if I just want to speak my mind or ask super blunt question. Besides, there are less misunderstandings if everyone is clear with what they are saying. I'm not blunt to be rude, just to be understood.

4. Introverts don't like people.
I am almost laughing at this one. I love people. I love people a lot. My friends are super valuable to me and I would do anything for any of them without expecting anything in return. I just don't like to be superficial with lots of people. It goes back to not liking small talk. It also ties in with the next point...

5. Introverts don't like to go out in public and introverts always want to be alone.
I'm comfortable being alone. I don't like having to deal with everything that goes along with being out in public, but I get terribly lonely when I'm alone. I can also get terribly lonely when I'm with people if I'm not connected. I connect best with one or two people at a time. I also connect really well with children. They don't care how my hair looks or if I just want to build with blocks and imagine for awhile. Being in public can be very exhausting. There is so much to take in when you are in public...noises, lights, people. After day of Christmas shopping all I want to do is go to my room and be alone. Even talking to my boyfriend is too much sometimes (and I really like talking to my boyfriend). I go to church and then come home and sleep. If I've preached at that service I come home and sleep for a long time because that's even more exhausting.

6. Introverts are weird.
I can't really dispute that. But I'm okay with that. Yeah, I'm weird. I'm unique. There's no one quite like me and that's probably a good thing.

7. Introverts don't know how to relax and have fun.
False. We just do it differently. Relaxing for me is going on a walk, either alone or with someone, swimming laps, sitting and writing on awesome sites like 750words.com or my blog, sewing, baking or otherwise amusing myself.

The article says more, but that's who I am and how it relates to me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finals Week

Every now and then Finals week and/or midterms come around.  About once a semester each.  And sometimes they don't  quite as planned.  Blog posts like "How to Study for Finals" or "How to write a paper in 45 simple steps" or this one about midterms get written. And then there are those really terribly awful midterm/final times like last spring when I ended up in the hospital for brain stuff.  Every time I have a bad bought of it, I assure myself that it can't get worse.  Except, it can.  And it does.
I write this because I know many of you are praying people and I covet your prayers (not only for me but for everyone in this finals season).
Sometime between (American) Thanksgiving and  the beginning of December I got a migraine.  I didn't think much about it since I get migraines every now and then.  Typically I ignore them and they got away.  If they refuse, a good dose of Tylenol and some extra sleep sends them packing.  This one didn't like those ideas.  I tried everything I knew to do.  It would let up a little every now and then, but then flare right back up.  The pain was keeping me from class and making me cry (something I don't do often in response to physical pain).  On the 8th I finally gave in and went to Urgent Care.  They gave me drugs for the nausea and a shot for the pain.  They told me to go home and sleep it off.  They were wrong.  I took more drugs at home (really strong stuff) and they didn't help either.  I ended up cancelling my babysitting job for the evening (which made me feel even worse).  By early evening I had tears running down my face again.  The drugs weren't working.  A tearful call to my neurologist landed me in the emergency room for some IV drugs, a CT and other tests.  The IV drugs succeeding in knocking me out (the 50mg of IV Benadryl may have had an effect on that).  I slept that night, but woke up in just as much pain as before.  
Monday was another call to the neurologist and Thursday morning found me sitting in his office.  There was no more playing around with normal drugs.  It was time for the big guns.   He hit me with everything he could think of and was successful.  The headache was gone by Wednesday.  But, so was my consciousness and wakefulness.
I slept from Wednesday through Saturday, pretty much nonstop.  A friend was over to help me out with something on Friday or so and while I was eating my dinner I fell asleep more times than we care to count...
Things haven't equalized yet and won't for awhile.  There will be another med change later this week.
Also, one of the meds that I was on to wipe out the migraine also wiped out my immune system and I've got a good case of the crud (which makes it harder to tell if I'm reacting to my new meds or not...just for fun)
It's also Advent; the second busiest season in the church year.
And it's finals week.

Prayers are much coveted.  Prayers for strength and for healing, for coherence and focus, for wakefulness at appropriate times and rest at appropriate times.   Praise for understanding professors and friends who help out with the little things and the big things.  Praise that our G-d is good.  All the time.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Voices

 Lately I've seen a couple youtube videos that seem to follow a certain style. They involve a young person who has a story to tell, often one that is sad. In the background music plays. Sometimes with lyrics, other times without. These young people have white cards. maybe 5X7 or so. On the cards are words, written in plain printing, black ink or markers. One card at a time they share their stories, their faces show some of the time between cards. You can tell when they are getting to tough parts or really good parts. Some of the stories end in tears, others with smiles. You never hear their voices, just read their stories. As someone who tells stories, it made me think. (okay, many things make me think for many reasons). In this case it made me think about our voices.
Where have our voices gone? Where have the voices of these young people gone?
Based on the nature of the stories I've watched, these young people are young people who have lost their voices. Some through years of bullying or other acts of harassment. Some feel regret for not using their voices earlier to tell people that they loved them. Some through mental illness. Their voices have somehow been lost, been taken from them, so they turn to technology to find it back. The homemade note cards in the videos give the videos a homemade, almost old fashioned type of feel. Reminds me of when the pastor at church uses the "poor-man's" powerpoint, a string across the front that he hangs poster board on. It's funny that htey have that feel, since they use modern technology to exist.
When I first saw them I thought it was a pathetic way for these young people to tell their stories, but then I realized that it wasn't. It was these young people digging deep into themselves to find all that they had left to get their voices heard. They no longer trusted their own voices and were trying to find someway to feel heard. More than one of these videos have gone viral (been shared and viewed so many times that news stations pick up the story, that changes actually get made). Their voices got heard. What has gone so wrong in our world that this is the only way young people are getting their voices heard? Why have the voices of humans been so devalued that they aren't heard? It's not just these young people whose voices aren't heard. Because their voices are eventually heard. If not with our ears, then with our eyes. Their messages get across, to more than perhaps their intended initial audience.
There are many more whose voices don't get heard. I think the the child crying to be heard by parents who are too busy with drugs or alcohol or work. I think of the wife trying to get her husband's attention. The orphan begging to be noticed by anyone. The homeless who just want some dignity. The lonely, the abused, the afraid...all who just want a voice.

When do they get their voice? When will we give them their voice back? How do we give them their voice back? How do those of us who have voices use them to help those who do not have voices?

How will you use your voice for the voiceless?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Daddy, is that blood?

"Daddy, is that blood?"
"No it just represents Jesus' blood.  It reminds of Jesus' blood"
I smiled as I listened to them talk about the meaning of communion.  Then the pastor began talking again.
"The blood of Christ shed for you" (no wonder kids get confused!)
With that, we all tipped back our swallow of grape juice.  The pastor offered a prayer and thus ended communion.  My notebook was out and on my lap as I scribbled furiously through the offering processing everything.

Why do we drink only a small swallow of grape juice (or wine if that is your tradition)? Jesus didn't shed just a little blood for us.  He didn't just prick his finger or scrape his knee.  He gave all his blood.  Every last drop was given for me, and for you, and for every one who calls on his name.  All of it.  He poured it all out.
When I'm at a communion service I just want to drink gallons of the grape juice, I want to wash in it, I want to relish in it (okay, that would be really sticky, but I'm speaking figuratively!) His blood has washed me clean.  Cleaner than any soap could ever get me.  His blood covers it all.

I think about blood a lot.  Not in a creepy way, but in general.  I've known some people involved in the occult, the darker side of things.  There it's all about the blood too.  The difference is in who's blood it is.  In my very limited knowledge of the occult, the blood required is always the blood of a mortal.  Either the blood of the person practicing or the blood of an animal or the blood of another.  I don't fully understand what the blood does or why it's important (as I said, my knowledge is very limited), I just know it plays an important role.  I also know that it's never enough...there always has to be more blood.
But in Christianity, the blood only had to be shed once.  Once and for all.  That's all.  No more blood was needed.  It just blows my mind and makes me so grateful, so thankful.

My blood will never need shed, the blood of another will never need on my behalf.  It's over.

"Daddy, is this blood?"
no...it's not blood because we don't need actual blood anymore.  That's already been taken care of

Friday, November 25, 2011

And so it begins...

Thanksgiving has officially passed in the USA, which means the Christmas season is upon us.  It's no secret that Christmas is not my favorite holiday.  That honor goes to Easter, which is 134 days away. I couldn't tell you how many days it is until Christmas, just that I have to endure Christmas before we can get to Easter.  Christmas is important.  Without Christmas, we couldn't have Easter.  I get it and I appreciate it.  But I struggle with Christmas.  To my knowledge it is a holiday fraught with more controversy and consumerism than any other holiday.
In North America, consumerism is a problem in general, but come Christmas Season things get even more out of hand.  The very thought of "Black Friday" gives me shivers.  I purposely stay away from all places of retail on the Friday following Thanksgiving.  I don't want to brave the crowds for a possible deal.  It's not worth it.  Nearly every year I read about people being injured or even killed in the melee.  Is it really worth it?
And then there is "Christmas Controversy" or perhaps it is better named the "Seasonal Controversy" even though that doesn't sound as nice (no alliteration).
What is the appropriate way to greet someone during this season between Thanksgiving and December 25?  It seems that no matter what you choose to say you run the risk of offending someone, even if that is not what you intended. I'm a Christian and I tend to say "Merry Christmas", because for me, this season is Christmas.  I have friends who are Jewish.  For them it is Hanukkah season.  I have friends who have no religious affiliation.  For them, it's simply the holiday season.  There are many other groups that have specific holidays this time of year, I just don't know them.  It's not that I don't care to know them, I just don't know them yet.  I'm forever learning and I'm okay with that.
If someone where to say "Happy Holidays" to me, I'd smile and reply either in kind or with "Merry Christmas".  I would take no offense and would hope that they would take no offense, for no offense would be intended.
What bothers me and even offends me at times is people who insist on only their view being accepted and refuse to accept others.  I speak both of people/groups who are in the "Merry Christmas" camp and of those who are in other various camps such as "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Hanukkah" and everything else.  Both sides can be insistent and insistence on either side bothers me.  Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and their own way of celebrating the season as long as it does no harm to others (I'd hazard a guess that entitlement ends if it involves damage to another or to property of another).
It bothers me that people can live peaceable with one another throughout the year only to come to irreconcilable differences from the end of November until the end of December.
This post was spurred by a video sent to me by a well meaning family member.  I love him dearly and don't intent to speak poorly of him, but I could not agree with the message in the video. It was called "Say Merry Christmas".  The video is here  and it has lyrics on the video.  The basic message of the video is to avoid merchants who don't post "Merry Christmas" in their stores and who don't greet people with "Merry Christmas".  From their website (http://saymerrychristmas.net/)  they say "patronize only the stores that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas." The creators of the song complain about how the "Every Christmas, the media and PC police tell us, the Christian majority, what we can do and say to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. If you've had "enough" of this biased propaganda and believe in the true meaning of Christmas…now's your chance to fight back and bring Christ back into Christmas."
If that's how they feel, then fine, they may feel that way.  What bothered me most was their hypocrisy  They complain about being told how they can celebrate this season, and in their song they sing "Please don't tell me what to say or what music I can play", yet the entire song is telling people how they think this season should be celebrated. If the song was in first-person all the way through, it wouldn't bug me, but it's not. It's in a form whose name I can't remember right now that is more instructional or command like.
Sometimes I wish people like this would take their own advice. Live and let live.
Maybe I'm too passive, maybe I'm too pluralistic, but it's who I am. There are bigger battles to fight and better ways to go about them.
Just my opinion, which of course is naturally biased by me being me rather than a completely impartial third party.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leave it Home!

A Toronto district school recently sent home a letter (and follow-up ) banning playground bars on the basis of a couple injuries and near injuries. Children were asked to leave their balls at home.  It made me think (one of my pastimes).  Playground balls are required to be left home because of injury they might cause or have caused.  But what else are children bringing to school that can cause injury.
Maybe these are things that ought to be banned:
Bullying - It hurts upfront and in the long term it can be very damaging.  Almost weekly we read reports of students who have been driven to suicide because of prolonged bullying.  As someone who has survived a fair bit of bullying, I can personally attest to this.
Homophobia - really, homophobia gets no one anywhere.  You don't have to agree with everyone and not everyone has to agree with you.  That's just the way things are. But you do have to be kind.
Peanut Butter and Nut Products - Mostly because these things are not allowed in most Ontario schools and because I understand life with nut allergies and how hard it can be to be in a lunch room surrounded by PB&J sandwiches and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
Racism - Racism is old fashioned, but it still run rampart in many places.  Leave it home and look beyond skin color.  You might be amazed at what you find.
Hate - do I really need to elaborate?
Pets - Although pets can be fun, the can also be really distracting at school.
Mean names - As many of these things are, mean names are a subdivision of bullying.  They have no place at school.
Bad attitudes - the bad attitude of one student can have a large impact on the whole learning environment.  Bad attitudes are contagious, just as good attitudes are.  Yeah, sometimes school sucks.  Sometimes we don't want to be there.  But for every student that doesn't want to be there, there are many more who do want to be there and can't be.


That's only a partial list, but it's what I have for now.  What do you think students should leave at home?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't Point!

I stood singing in church one morning, my hands moving as much as my mouth.  The church-provided FM system hung over my right ear, the wire snaking down to the box clipped to my pocket.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw the little blonde haired blue-eyed girl in the row behind me pointing at me.  I turned to smile at her and watched her ask her mommy why I had the funny thing on my ear. I watched her mommy pull her hand down from pointing and saw the words "don't point" as they came out of her mother's mouth.  The rest of the reply was lost as the mother and the child turned away and we moved into a time of prayer.
My heart wanted to yell at her or at least offer gentle advice, since I'm not exactly the yelling and screaming type of person.  I wanted to tell to let her daughter point, to let her daughter ask questions, to let her daughter ask *me* questions.
Some of you mind think that this sort of response encourages rudeness or impertinence and perhaps it does, but that's not how I see it.
The genuine, inquisitive, questions of a child who doesn't yet understand the world around her are not offensive.  Neither are the genuine inquisitive questions of an adult who does not understand the world around them.
What *is* offensive though is people who assume they know the answers without asking.  The people who don't asking can't really know.
If we hadn't been sitting in church and I had the opportunity to interact with the child, I would have taken my FM system off and handed it to her and let her listen.  I would have shown her my hearing aids and explained that my ears were broken and that hearing aids were like glasses for my ears.  I would have told her that I use my eyes to "hear". I would have asked her what her name was and then shown her How I would fingerspell it.  I would have answered her questions. And I would have answered the questions that her mom was too afraid to ask.
And I would have told her them that pointing was okay, as long as they weren't laughing as me when they pointed.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I have a dream...

I have a dream.  The problem is, I'm not quite sure what it is or what it's going to look like.  That might not sound like much of a dream to you, but it is just as real and solid as any other dream.
Fredrick Buechner, a kind of important guy, once said "The place G-d calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."  That's my dream.  To discover that place, the place of deep gladness and the world's deep hunger.

It seems easy, but it's not.   That place is hard to find.
I want to find the place, I want to know where it is.  That place, the place where my deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet, that place is the place where I will find peace.  If I could find that place on my own, I would do it in a heart beat.  I would talk to people who need talked to (school, family, the Man that I really am quite smitten with) and head to that place, the place where my call is.
But I can't.

A week or so ago a dear friend of mine shared a quote from a devotional with me.  It's about waiting and trusting G-d.  The whole devotional that she sent me was wonderful, but especially these last two paragraphs:


"Well, when you say that you're "waiting", that means you are accepting God's timing and the wisdom of it. You're confessing this: "I'm not fussing. I'm not fuming. I'm not fixing." You're not thinking in the back of your mind, "Oh, I could do a few things to get me out of this situation. I've got some insights. I could say some things. I could get some balls rolling. I could take hold of this if I had to.

Waiting means you're no longer relying on what you can figure out or even understand. It is deliberately relying on God through prayer and flat-out trust. "This is way beyond me, Lord. I'm leaving it in Your hands. I know I don't have to understand in order to trust You. I'm waiting on You for my salvation; You have to get me out of this narrow place." --James McDonald

That's where I am right now.  I'm in that place were there is nothing more I can do.  Except wait and trust, even though I don't understand.  Am I good at it?  No way!  I'm awful at waiting, I'm awful at trusting, but right now, I don't have a choice.  There is nothing more that I can do, and perhaps, that is right where G-d wants me right now.  I don't understand it, I don't even like it most days, but for now, I will trust.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A time to fight, a time to acquiesce?

***Keep in mind that I'm writing this post while on Benadryl and Prednisone in large amounts. Anything I write should be taken with a grain of salt and any glaring errors should be overlooked.***

There was a time when someone telling me that I couldn't do something served to raise my hackles and make me try even harder.  I remember one time when we were at the feed store picking up some rabbit feed.  We ordered our feed in the building and then took the car around to the loading dock.  I must have been about 12 or so. It was Mom, Ben and I there.  We pulled up along side the loading dock and Ben and I got out of the car to start loading the feed.  I reached for a bag of feed so that I could put it in the car.  As I did so, one of the mill workers told me that I couldn't do that because I was a girl.  I don't remember saying anything, Mom says fire burned in my eyes. I remember picking up that bag of feed and putting it in the back of the van.  I was so determined to do it.  The mill hand told me to come back when I was older and get a job.
It wasn't a big deal.  Loading a bag of feed isn't hard work or important work.  My intense desire to do so was largely caused by being told I couldn't because I was a girl.  Now, I don't mind letting the guys do the work, but they all know that I can.  And my brothers know that if they ever tell me I can't do something because I'm a girl, they'd better watch out.
But things are changing.  Maybe it's just because I'm tired of it all, maybe it's because I'm learning to accept my limits,  maybe it's something else, but now, someone telling me I can't simply hurts and makes me angry.  It no longer stirs me to try and prove a point.
I experienced this recently.  Someone outright telling me that I couldn't do something for a not great reason.  My initial response wasn't my normal, "oh yes I can!  just you wait and see", but just anger and pain.  And then maybe even a little bit of acceptance.  Not full acceptance, but some.

I could fight it.  I could do what it is that they said I couldn't because I know I can if I'm given the chance.  But I'd be doing it just to prove a point and it might not be worth it.  I wonder how many of the battles I have fought have been to prove a point, either to myself or to someone else. I wonder how things would change if I stopped fighting to prove a point, stopped trying to measure up and simply accepted that I don't have to prove my worth to anyone, myself included.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Bread, Their Bread

Every Friday I celebrate communion with 4-year old M.  M is well aware of the importance of communion and can even say most of the words of institution.  Every Friday during chapel at seminary she sits on my lap.  During the singing and the meditation she wiggles a little bit and plays with my medic alert necklace and the ring I wear around my neck, but when the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving starts, she is all eyes and ears.  She starts to quiver with excitement as she mouths the words of institution along with the pastor who is presiding that week.  As we wait our turn to go forward to receive the elements, I review with her why we take communion and what the bread and the juice represent.  She knows the answers. And then comes the most awkward question of all: my bread, or the other bread?
Here at WTS we have two offerings for communion bread - there are two beautiful loaves of challah bread and then a little plate of gluten free communion wafers.  When the pastor is doing the words of institution, it is the challah that he or she picks up and breaks.  It is the challah that is held up for everyone to see.   In fact, the little plate of gluten free wafers is not picked up or touched at all.  In all honesty, I'm glad that the gluten free wafers aren't handled, especially after the egg-coated challah is handled.  That would quickly become an allergy nightmare and instead of celebrating with M I 'd be being rushed to the hospital (egg causes swelling in me upon contact.  We haven't challenged it with ingestion, but it would not be good).  But the two bread communion leads to a little bit of theological unrest and no small amount of confusion for the littlest of our brothers and sisters.
Today, when I asked M if she wanted my bread or the other bread, she very seriously told me that "the other bread' (my bread) wasn't really bread, just crackers.  She put into words, the words I hated to think.  That somehow, my bread, the GF wafers were separate.  I know cognitively they are not.   They are just as much the body of Christ as the challah is.  However, there is a degree of separateness when we have two communion breads.
I wish we could all be united in communion.  So far, it's happened once.  I cried that day, the day when we all took gluten free communion together.  I wish it could happen more.  Because that would be wonderful and then I wouldn't have to ask M which bread she wanted.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Filling in the Blanks

When you hear like I do,  you are constantly filling in the blanks.  And when you’ve been hearing like I hear for as long as I have, you get pretty good at filling in the blanks.  Let me explain…
There are many word pairs that sound very similar to me/my brain.  For example:
loom – wound
lettuce – let us
send forth – send forks
scrolls – squirrels
Irenaeus (theologian) – urine on us
affect – effect
she – he
pants – dance
hooks – books
redress – regress
let – led
gun – done

This is just a quick list - things that have tripped me up in the last week or so.  At first glance, the words on that list look different enough from each other in meaning that it would be difficult to confuse them. But take a sentence like this, which I actually heard this week.  It was said by my mom, in reference to my 13 year old brother, who is rather accident prone (he doesn’t always think things all the way through) and who also weaves on a table top loom.
“I need to go help him redress/regress his loom/wound because it’s become un***n” (***  represent that I missed part of a word and had to fill in).  
I may have missed more than that, but don’t remember because the words were easy to fill in.  For example, I don’t think I heard all of the “him” or the “his” but they were easy to fill in because I knew she was talking about Isaac.  Based on what I heard/didn’t hear, I could have filled in the blanks in multiple ways, more than one of which made sense:
…redress his loom because it’s become undone
…redress his wound because it’s become undone
…redress his loom because it’s become uneven
...redress his wound because it’s become uneven
…regress his loom because it’s become undone
…regress his wound because it’s become undone
…regress his loom because it’s become uneven
...regress his wound because it’s become uneven
All of the options containing “regress” could be dropped quickly.  The word “regress” just didn’t make sense with the other words my brain tried to put in the sentence.  That still left me with four sentence options that made wonderful amounts of sense, but warranted two very different responses!
…redress his loom because it’s become undone
…redress his wound because it’s become undone
…redress his loom because it’s become uneven
...redress his wound because it’s become uneven
…regress his loom because it’s become undone
…regress his wound because it’s become undone
…regress his loom because it’s become uneven
...regress his wound because it’s become uneven
Had Isaac hurt himself or was his weaving project in jeopardy?
Acknowledging that I couldn’t fill in the blanks on my own and asking more questions led to the conclusion that Isaac was fine, his weaving on the loom had become uneven and she had to help him make it even again.
8 options for 1 sentence.  After my own work, 4 options for the 1 sentence.   For me, this is not unusual.  This is a part of my everyday life.  Every time I take in information using my ears, with or without the benefit of speech reading, I have to fill in blanks.
As frustrating and as confusing as this often is it is also a blessing.  I have a friend with a very similar hearing loss to me (different cause, similar results) and see agrees with both the frustrations and the blessings.
We are used to filling in the blanks.  This is great when you are learning a new language.  Because we are used to not hearing every word, when we try to learn a new language we don’t get upset about missing a word or two.  Of course, this has its downfalls too because we don’t always pay attention to the details such as gender and case (we miss most of them in our first language, why should we worry about small details such as gender and case?!?!). Naturally, once you get passed the beginning stages of a language, this becomes a problem.
Honestly there was no huge point to this post.  Just thought maybe someone would be interested in what it’s like to hear like me, so maybe you can understand why I sometimes ask questions that make no sense or respond inappropriately.  Cuz sometimes, I fill in the blanks wrong.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weathering the Storms of Life

Those who know me best, know that I've been in a bit of a stormy time lately. Nothing overly bad per se has happened directly to me (the world around me is constantly full of tragedy), just a lot of unrest.  I'm sure my parents would testify to that...they probably got more phone calls from me in the last week or so than they get in two to three weeks when things are going well.
I've moved to more a place of peace now.  Not everything is solved and there is still a lot of unknowns (nothing has really changed as far as what I know or don't know about what comes), but I'm more at peace about what I don't know.  I'm going to plant some tulips on Saturday (I have to buy tulip bulbs at market before I can plant them).
As I was going through some old files other night, looking for something, I stumbled across this prayer that I had marked as coming from Thomas a Kempis.  In my original note, I'd notes that I had no idea who he was or what he'd done except that he was an important dead guy (he had to be important, he was in a textbook).  For those of you who care, he was a monk who lived a long time ago (died in the 1400's).
Anywho, I wanted to share this prayer with all of you.  Right now, it's giving me a lot of comfort.

"Lord, I know that you sometimes permit
trouble and temptation to come to me.
I cannot escape them
but, driven by my need,
I must come to you for help
that you may work this out for my good.
O G-d, I feel uneasy and depressed
because of this present trouble.
I feel trapped on every side,
yet I know I have come to this hour,
so that I may learn that you alone
can free me from this predicament.
Lord, deliver me,
for what can I do without you,
helpless as I am?
Lord give me patience in all my troubles.
Help me, and I will not be afraid,
no matter how discouraged I may be.
Let me bear this trouble patiently
until the storm has passed
and my heart is calm again.
Your power, Lord, can take this trouble from me,
as you have done many times before.
No matter how hard it is for me,
it is easy for you, O Lord."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why plant tulips?

Why plant tulips?
they take all winter.
i might not see them bloom
they are everywhere.
Why plant tulips?

Why plant tulips?
buried in the ground
doomed to die
threatened by the squirrels.
Why plant tulips?

Why plant tulips?
6 months, a year
2 at the most
then I move on.
Why plant tulips?

Why plant tulips?
pressing through the last glimmer of snow
waking up the world from its sleep
giving hope where there was none.
Why plant tulips?

Why plant tulips?
put down roots
not for you, but for the next
seek the peace and prosperity of where you are.
Why plant tulips?

Why not?

jep 25.10.11

inspired by Jeremiah 29
Tulip with dew, spring 2010, Pella, IA

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Response to 180: An Interesting Can of Worms

I posted a video on my facebook profile the other day.  It was a share from a friend.  I encourage you to watch it.  Here is the link.  It is closed captioned for those of you who prefer captioned videos. Just don't watch it with small children in the room.  There are some graphic images in it from WWII.
Since I know most of you won't actually watch the video (it's a whole 33 minutes...that's a long time to commit to any task!), I'll summarize what the main thrust of the video was supposed to be.  Basically it was comparing the Holocaust during WWII to abortion in North America and the number of babies that are legally killed.  It talks about morality and heaven and hell and salvation as well, but those weren't the intended main thrusts.  The abortion issue was and how many people were oblivious to the Holocaust as it was happening, and how it happened because Hitler started with little steps and led the entire people astray.  It ended with a political push not to vote for leaders who are in favor of legalizing abortion.
When I reposted to my profile, I added the comment: "A friend posted it and I watched it (it's captioned). I agree with much of what was said, but I struggled a bit with the political push it had. I am pro-life. There's no doubt about that, but I'm not sure I approve of single issue voting. There's always so much more to a politician's platform than whether they are pro-life or pro-choice. When voting, we need to look at the whole, not just a part."

Not surprisingly I received some push-back from friends, mostly centered on my resistance to single issue voting. If you're super interested in the whole conversation and how it developed, let me know and I'll get it to you (minus names) or check it out on my FB page.
The final back and forth on it went like this:
 ME: ...A law cannot dictate behavior. Sexual abuse is illegal. It has been dictated as illegal for years, yet recent statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexual abused before the age of 18...in this case there is a law dictating that something is bad and illegal, yet it doesn't stop it from happening.
Will a law end abortion? or will it take more education from the bottom up?
FRIEND: Does it matter if the law ended abortion or not? Are you saying you'd vote for someone who would legalize sexual abuse, child abuse, and rape? I mean, as long as they stood for something else that was "more" important? Is it fine since it would happen anyway? Why not make abortion illegal and then on top of that work with those who illegally still choose abortion. Wouldn't it be easier to let people know it's a problem if the nation even thinks so? How would you convince someone who is sexually abusing someone else that what they are doing is wrong if it's LEGAL? Isn't it hard enough already? Do you see what I"m saying? Or, when you pray to end abortion do you say ..."Dear Lord, please let abortion stop even as I am about to vote for someone who is for it." ?
ME: ... I also feel like we are possibly talking past each other, not actually hearing what the other is saying. I never actually said that I would vote for someone who wanted to legalize abortion. I also never said I wouldn't. I said that I'm not a fan of single issue voting and that it would take a lot of prayer and discernment. That applies to any type of voting, whether abortion is on the docket or not.
Abortion is not the only issue facing our nation today. There are lots of them. Who am I to judge what sin is worse than another? Murder is a sin, according to the ten commandments. Should it be illegal? I think so. Lying is also a sin. Are we going to legislate it as illegal to? What about coveting? Failing to honor the Sabbath? Dishonoring our parents? Is murder a worse sin than the others?
I stand a sinner condemned. Am I guilty of murder? According to the words of Heidelberg Catechism, which is based on scripture, yes. (Q&A 105, 106, 107) I am I proud of this? no. Am I cleansed by the blood of Christ and do I stand anew in His presence? yes.
Abortion is wrong. I never said it was right or okay. I never said I supported it. I simply said that I'm not a fan of single issue voting and that any voting I do will be the product of lots of prayer and discernment for all the issues involved, not just a single issue.

Thus far that is where the conversation ended.  I'm not sure if that is good or bad, since I really didn't want to get into an all out argument with my friends, but I can't agree to single issue voting.
Later another friend posted these two quotes in her status:
"We should not look to the state to compel women to complete, nor allow them to terminate, a pregnancy. Rather, God calls us to be our own people and our community - to witness to the world's scandal, to love and bind up those harmed by its values. If the energy now being poured into attempts to affect Supreme Court decisions were dedicated to establishing viable alternatives to abortion and substantive support and long-range care for victimized women, "unwanted" children, and families struggling with poverty, mental illness, and domestic violence, perhaps we would begin to see Christian community being born in our midst-a light to the nations and a sure refuge for these needy ones." - William Durland
and
 "We need to stop telling our non-believing neighbors how wrong their way of life is, and we need to start showing the power of the gospel in the way we live....Let me ask you: Which as greater power? Ten thousand people who fills the streets in front of abortion clinics and shame those seeking abortions, or ten thousand people in California who take to the state capital a petition they have signed stating they will take any unwanted child of any age, any color, any physical condition so that they can love that child in the name of Jesus Christ?" - Bill Tibert

Both of them succinctly sum up what I was trying to say. And since both these quotes were in a book, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they have a little more authority than I do.

It's an interesting can of worms.  What are your thoughts? (all opinions will be respected, not all will be agreed with.  Any disrespectful comment will be deleted.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Listening Prayer (Prayer Request)

When I was still at Central, about every two weeks or so we had an "event" where we would meet to engage in listening prayer for each other. It probably happened more often in less formal settings, but I was only there on Saturdays.  On the off weeks we'd meet and receive a teaching.
In listening prayer, we'd circle up around someone, often laying hands on them, and ask G-d for a word for them. One of the neatest things about praying in this way is that we didn't know subjectively what the person needed, sometimes we didn't even know who the person was.  We didn't ask for prayer requests, just that G-d would show us what the person in the center needed.  People would get words or pictures or song lyrics, anything really.  To the person getting it directly from G-d, it often felt random and out of place, but when shared with the person in the center, it usually was exactly what they needed to hear - not always, sometimes it was just "bad pizza", so there was always a process of discernment involved for the person that the "message" was for (the person in the center).
I liked it not only because I received a lot of powerful words from G-d, and got to be part of speaking truth into other people's lives, but because when we prayed in this way, we could be reasonably sure that what others were hearing from G-d on our behalf was not a creation of our own mind.

I'm human.  I know what I want to hear from G-d. It's just how it is.  Even when I try to listen well to G-d, I always am stuck in the place trying to sort out if what I heard from G-d was actually from G-d or if it was a creation of my very powerful imagination trying to keep me happy.  Maybe you know what this is like too, since I'm guessing that you are indeed human and know what you want too.

Right now I'm in a place where I could really use some people to engage in listening prayer on my behalf.  I know what I want to hear from G-d.  I know what I think I've heard from G-d, but I don't know if what I think I've heard is really from G-d, or if it's my subconscious trying to keep me happy.  Can you listen to G-d on my behalf?  Listen hard and intentionally and share with me what he tells you, even if it seems completely random to you?
I'm purposely not saying what I'm trying to figure out/what area of my life I really need to hear from G-d in right now, because if I do, then the temptation is there for you to try and figure out what I want to hear or what you think is best for me to hear, even if you don't mean to.  I want to avoid that.  So please, pray for me and let me know what G-d tells you.  It would seriously mean a ton to me. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to discern if what I'm hearing is from G-d, "bad pizza" or my own imagination. 


If you don't want to post what you hear in the comments, let me know and I'll tell you other ways to reach me.  Or just use one of the other ways that you already know. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The "What-If" Game

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been playing the “what if” game.  I played it as a child and I play now as a grown-up of sorts.
There are different kinds of what-ifs, some healthier than others.
Firstly, there are the ones that simply cause more anxiety:
What if the neighborhood cougar eats me when I take the compost out?  (although the neighborhood cougar was very real, it never attacked a human.  He preferred sheep and chickens)
What if it snows so much that we can’t get home from school? (at least once we were sent home early to avoid this)
What if Mommy gets in a car accident because the weather is so horrible and she doesn’t come home from work? (she worked homecare in a rural setting.  The weather was often very horrible at night)
The anxiety causing ones are typically things that are well beyond our control and we can do little to nothing to prepare for them.

Then there are the what-ifs that lead to being prepared:
What if instead of being sunny on our campout it rains? (hint: pack rain gear)
What if there is a fire in the building I’m in? (hint: know your exits)
What if I get stuck in traffic with 13 little girls in the back of the van? (true  story.  Hint: sing songs and make up games)
What if my Kingdom Kids finish their craft in 5 minutes instead of 15?  (hint: always overplan)
What if our trip takes a day longer than planned? (hint: bring extra underwear and extra medication)
What if we come upon a car accident while we are driving? (hint: keep your first aid training up to date and carry a first aid kit in the car)
What if I'm hungry before I get home? (hint: always bring a snack!)

There are some what-ifs that are more likely than others:
“What if I get kidnapped?” is a much less likely scenario than “What if I get hit by a car on my way to school?” (some mornings my eyes are barely open as I cross the street to school)
“What if I forget that it’s my Sunday to do liturgy?” is much more likely to happen than “What if I forget the way to church?” (It’s been a year, it involves no more than 3 turns and one of them is a forced turn)
“What if I forget to comb my hair?” is much more likely than “what if I forget to get dressed before going to class?”

Then there are the really fun what-ifs, the ones that let you play with the future and explore different ideas:
What if I decide not to go on my J-term trip?
What if I don’t turn in my credo paper on time?
What if I decide to stop going to school for a while and instead get a real job?
What if he actually loves me instead of just likes me?
What if I dye my hair purple?
What if I move to a different state?
What if I switch to distance learning?
What if I decide to get my nose pierced?
What if I find out I can’t have children?
What if I could find all the people who ever made me angry and beat them with a wet noodle?
What if the seizures never go away?
What if I could stop worrying about what people think about me?
What if this is my last day on earth?

The last list is by no means complete and not all of them are necessarily happy or serious.  They just are.  In one of my classes this semester, Play in Life and Ministry, we’ve been reading about creativity and how playing the “what-if” game can actually be healthy.  It helps you see outside of the normal bounds of society.  It gives you the freedom to look beyond what is immediate and play with the concepts of time and the future.  Of course, some what-ifs are just plain worrisome and should not be played with (see the first list).
So how do you play with the future and time? How do you relieve your stress by playing with your imagination?  What are some of your what-ifs?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How to convince your stomach to produce too much acid

1. Go to graduate school or seminary.
2. Get a urinary tract infection (UTI).
3. Instead of going to the doctor for your UTI, try and take care of it yourself with cranberry.
4. Consume about half a gallon of cranberry juice every day.
5. Skip school because you are in too much pain to go to class.
6. Finally go to the doctor when the pain become unbearable (after about a month of self treatment).
7. Take 10 days of the strongest antibiotics the doctor feels like giving you.
8. While taking the antibiotics, travel to a funeral in another state and back (9 hours of driving each way).
9. Miss three days of school right before midterms because you are going to the funeral.
10. Continue to drink cranberry juice at incredible rates while on the antibiotics.
11. Survive midterms by staying up late, eating lots of greasy food, and generally not caring well for yourself.
12. Finish the antibiotics.
13. Realize that you are still in pain and convince yourself that you still have a UTI, because it seems like the most pleasant option.
14. Drink more cranberry juice.
15. Add apple cider vinegar to your plan for kicking this UTI in the behind.
16. Drink more cranberry juice.
17. A week after the antibiotics are gone, realize you are still in pain and it's not getting better.
18. Go to the doctor again.
19. Let the doctor poke you where it hurts.
20. Discover that your stomach has decide that producing massive amounts of acid is the best way to get your attention.
And this my friends is how you convince your stomach to produce too much acid.
So now I'm on a low acid, non greasy, non spicy diet as well as acid reducers for the next two weeks to see if that fixes the problem. If not, it will be back to the drawing board again. 
 Unfortunately, most of my favorite foods fall into the categories of acidic, greasy, or spicy (or some combination of the above!). I suppose the bacon I ate the day before going to the doctor was a bad idea, as was the apple cider I had been drinking like it was going out of style and the cranberry juice and the cinnamon and, and, and....
It's definitely been a learning curve. I learned to broil fish today instead of pan frying it like I usually do. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my Sunday chicken to eliminate the grease. The best option seems to be to boil it, let it cool, scrape the grease off and then do something with the meat. Not quite sure what yet. Maybe chicken salad or some non-spicy type of chicken tortilla, though that doesn't sound too awesome. 
I'm open to suggestions, so if you have suggestions on how to eat "bland" (as the doctor so appealingly put it), please, please, let me know. Otherwise it's going to be a long 2 weeks!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is one enough?

Is one language ever really enough?
Almost everyday I find myself searching for words and more times than not, I come up with them in a language other than the one I'm supposed to be speaking. I was in class the other day and we were talking about how Jesus could have come in and demolished the Romans (but he didn't, because that wasn't the way he had planned), but I couldn't think of the word "demolished" or similar words in English. However, I knew the sign I needed and half way through my sentence I switched to sign language and threw the word out that I needed. It got my point across, and the sign I used was just a really fun sign (it's one of my favorites...I'm not sure what it says about me when many of my favorite signs are on the "violent" side of things. The sign for "bombs" is super fun too.) 
Another time, in a context where the primary languages were supposed to be sign and English, I caught myself thinking in German (and maybe even a little Greek!) and accidentally vocalizing a few times in German instead of English. Many times I'll know a German (or other language word) that describes how I'm feeling or what I want to say much better than the English words I know. Once I know the word I want in German I try and think of the English word and there just isn't one! How do you translate the word "kribble" (Ich habe einen Kribble in meinen Bauch) into English? The best I've ever come up with is to Anglicize it (My stomach is all kribbly) and then when people ask, try and use lots and lots of words to explain it. In this instance, "kribbly" can be describe as happy little butterflies dancing around inside, kind of like the feeling you get when you talk with that special someone...or are filled with excitement. They aren't the kind of butterflies you get when you are nervous about giving a speech or something. Those are mean butterflies. There are all kinds of other words I do that with, just because I don't know the English or English simply doesn't have the word I need. 
The other day I threw the Hebrew "Nephesh" into conversation (I may or may not have been feeling slightly kribbly at the time) because I didn't have an English word to explain what I was saying. (My conversation partner actually had to look the word up. Hebrew phrases weren't in their vocabulary.) 

So what is my point? That's a really good question. I'm still working on that minor detail. What bugs me is that so many of us in North America know one language. Just one. And mostly it is English, which although a beautiful and diverse language, is lacking in so many ways. 
Is there a way to fix this problem? I wish I knew. I wish I could tell everyone to go out and learn multiple languages so that we could have fuller communication. I wish there was a practical way to come up with a language that would be understood by everyone, everywhere, and encompass the fullness and richness of individual languages, but that's just not practical. Firstly, our world is too big for everyone to learn the same language. It just wouldn't happen. Secondly, we all have different language needs. Someone living near the equator would not need as many words for winter precipitation as we need in Canada.
I don't know the answer.  Do you?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Precious moments

This morning in church I sat right in front of 4 year old Abel and his dad.  I often sit in front of Abel and his family or across the aisle from them.  Today when it was time for the morning offering to be received, Abel decided that he was going to help his dad collect the offering (Abel's dad is a deacon).  Without missing more than a beat or two, Abel's dad handed him an offering plate and the two of them collected the offering together.  Abel was so proud as he passed the plate down the rows of people, and the look on his face as he walked down the center aisle with his dad and the other deacon to present the offering filled my heart with joy.  I got a high five from him as he went back to his seat.

Last week Friday I celebrated communion with 4 year old Miriam snuggled on my lap.  As the communion liturgy was read/recited she nearly quivered with excitement.  As I took the wafer and dipped it in the grape juice, she took a wafer and dipped it in the grape juice.  She knew that Jesus had died for her sins too.  Because she had been raised in a church (they had no Sunday School), she knew what communion was and she knew that this was part of her faith life.  When we were finished, she twisted around on my lap and smiled up at me. We shared that sacred moment together.

Children are not the future of our church. They are the church. They are the church now.  They will not become the church.  They are the church.

When will we realize this and stop sending them off to Sunday is the basement while we have church?  Why do we pretend to ourselves that once they are older they will want a part in the very church sent them off to their own space, their own classroom the entire time they were growing up?

Children can participate in "big church".  Abel collected offering this morning.  Children can greet people and hand out bulletins.  They can pass out cookies after church.  They can sing the songs and learn the readings and liturgy that we use week after week.

Children are the church now. Today.  In this time.

These are precious moments that we can't afford to miss.  If we miss these moments, then the church WILL die.  There is no doubt about that.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Angry Blog Post

I'm not usually a very angry person, but tonight, I am angry. So if you'd rather not read an angry blog post, stop reading now. I just need to be angry for a little bit.
Dear person who came onto our farm today and purposely opened a gate and left it open,
I don't know who you are, and you'll probably never actually read this.  This is probably a good thing because if I did know who you are, you would have to experience my anger in person. And right now, I'm not happy with you.
I don't know who you are or why you did what you did, but I don't understand why you recklessly endangered the animals like that.  Not only are alpacas very valuable and lovable animals, the gate you left open was to the moms and babies.  I spent a large portion of my summer delivering and caring for these precious babies.  These animals have done nothing to harm you.  Not ever.
If you have an issue with someone in my family, that is no reason to take it out on the innocent animals. If you have a problem with someone, grow a pair and talk to them.  Don't engage is such cowardly acts as opening gates or cutting fences.
If you have a hatred for alpacas, fine. You don't have to live with them or love them, but we do love them.  So leave us and them be.

End angry blog post.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Gluten Free communion bread

Today was Worldwide Communion Sunday.  For those of you who didn't grow up in the church or just have no idea what that means or why it's important, it's basically a Sunday where many churches around the world have decided to celebrate communion or the Eucharist.  It's really neat to realize that on this particular Sunday churches all over the world are doing the same thin, albeit often in very different ways.
The church I worshiped with this morning served communion with naan-bread and grape juice.  Other churches served wafers and wine.  Others served white wonder bread. Some bread had leaven, other bread was unleavened. Tonight a friend served me homemade gluten free bread with cranberry juice. Regardless of what was served and the exact theology each congregation holds to, it was all a celebration of the same thing, the marvelous sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
As I sat there, not taking communion in full (we were served by intinction (dipping the bread in the cup) this morning , but I got a cup from the elder that was serving those who couldn't get to the front), I thought about bread.  If you've read what I've written about communion before, you know that the bread is a big stumbling block for me. The gluten found in most bread can make me super sick. And that's not fun.  So, as I sat there I thought about gluten free options for communion (for the bread only...if you want to read more about doing gluten free communion properly/safely, read one of these posts: Post 1, Post 2 or talk to me (I've done some work on this topic) or someone in your congregation who has experience with gluten free eating.).

One option that is relatively easy and safe is to take gluten free communion wafers.  These are certified gluten free and keep really well.  Of course, if your church has been using bread since the foundations of time, it might be a bit of a huge switch and something you have to work through as a congregation.  The most common (perhaps only) gluten free communion wafer is from Ener-G foods.  It is free from just about everything including leaven, nuts, egg, dairy, shellfish, corn and more.

Another option is store bought gluten free bread.  If that's what you want to do, and if that's what is going to work best for your congregation, you want to pick one that doesn't have a huge list of ingredients.  The more ingredients the bread has, the more likely someone is to be allergic to something in it.  You also want to make sure you get one that isn't crumbly, which is hard.    If your congregation is nut free, Kinnikinnick foods are all nut free, but many of them have eggs and dairy in them, so if you are going with a store bought bread, check with your congregation.  I think they all have corn so I can't have any of them and I don't know how the crumble factor works.  Other companies such as Udi's or Glutino also make gluten free bread, which I think is nut free, but does contain eggs and dairy.  Again, check with your congregation to see if this works.  In Ontario check out El Peto.  They have lots of different breads and some are free of most allergens, such as their potato bread (one of my favorites when I'm on the farm).


Yet another option is to have someone in your congregation bake gluten free bread.  All the cautions that apply to using store bought bread apply to this option too, along with making sure the person is who doing the baking understands allergy friendly baking and the risk of cross contamination. 


The most important thing is to talk to your congregation.  Don't assume you know that they need. Because you don't.  Talk to you congregation and really listen to them. 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Gummy Worms!

Today, instead of doing my homework, I decided try out a recipe that my cousin had sent me.  It was for gummy worms.  I have not been able to have gummy worms for a long time because gummy worms tend to be made with lots and lots of corn syrup and my body really doesn't do well with corn syrup.  Which is problematic because I really like gummy candies.  (I like jelly beans too, but aside from one accidentally "jelly bean cake" I have not mastered the hard on the outside-chewy on the inside jelly bean).
I was a bit skeptical as I started.  All my previous attempts at candy (aside from chocolate) had been miserable failures, but this looked pretty failure proof.  I didn't even need a candy thermometer! And there were absolutely no substitutions that I had to make.  For a recipe, that is always a good start.
some of my gummy worms (there were and still are lots more!)
Gummy flutterby
Ladybug!
Flutterby on a string!
Gummy Frog!
Flowers!
And then, just for fun I made scones.  I'd never had a scone before.  But they are yummy.  Olga and I sampled one fresh from the oven.  These are completely allergy friendly (top 8 free) and have chocolate chips in them.  As long as I don't eat them all before Monday, my peer group is in for a treat!  (if they keep well...the recipe said serve warm, so I'm hoping they hold until Monday)

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Dash

In the past week I've spent a fair bit of time in cemeteries. More than I usually do for sure.  In one cemetery we were looking for a particular headstone, so we spent a lot of time looking at headstones trying to find the right one.  It was a very large cemetery and I may have gotten a little bit lost, and we didn't find the stone we were looking for that day (we went back the next day when the office was open and found it), but I read a lot of headstones. The headstones were all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  They had lots of different things written on them, but there was one thing that they all had.  They all had a dash.
The dash spanned from between when the deceased was born and when they had died.Sometimes their birth and death were listed just as years, other times with months and days in addition to the year.  Sometimes there was an epitaph, other times it was simply a name and date.  Sometimes there were pictures.  But on every headstone there was a dash.  That dash summed up more than anything else.  That dash summed up anywhere from mere hours to decades.

We all will end up with a dash.  It's just the way life is.  The mighty dash, the space between when we take our first breath and when we take our last.   The dashes all looked the same, but they all meant something different.  For my uncle, who we buried this week, his dash summed up a very full, very broad life.  2 military tours, involvement in the space project (he helped put man on the moon!), lots of work with Midwest Old Treshers (50000 volunteer hours after he retired!), Lots of volunteer work with boy scouts, many awards including awards from the president, close friendships with many politicians (including the governor of Iowa), and so much more.  To sum his life up in a dash seemed inadequate, but that's how we all end.  Our life summed up in dash.
It made me wonder and think.  What will my dash sum up? When people who know me look at my dash, what will they remember?   None of us know how long or short our dash is going to be.  We can hope for a long dash, but there are no guarantees.  Each and every day that we are alive is a chance to influence our dash.
How am I going to influence my dash today?  How are you going to influence your dash?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So I've been rather silent lately.  My apologies to all of you who keep coming here hoping to find something new to read and then not finding anything at all.  The biggest reason was that I pretty much slept from Thursday through Sunday.  I've gotten some sort of bug that just has me down and out.  Even if I wasn't sleeping, I was just laying there, existing.   Somehow, by the grace of G-d, I was up and able to preach on Sunday evening.  I'm quite sure that if it hadn't been for his good grace, that would not have happened.  It was a very very small group Sunday, the smallest I've every preached to.  Including the elder, the pianist, and myself there were 7 people.  I was sad at first, but then remembered the promise of our Lord "wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them" (Mark 18:20).  I was blessed knowing that the Lord was there with us, even though we were few in number.  And I was blessed when people told me afterwards that they were blessed by the Word.

Tomorrow morning I head to Iowa for my Uncle Paul's funeral.  In all technicality, he is my mom's uncle, but on that side of the family, everyone is Aunt or Uncle (gender dependent) whether they are mom's cousins or uncles or aunts or whatever.  I got to see him in Summer 2010 at a family reunion.  We took a picture of the 3 (!) generations of twins in the family.  I'm so glad that we got those precious photos.
From Top to Bottom, Left to Right:  Aunt Polly and Uncle Paul, Moria and Taryn (almost 19), Arianna and Kalvin (4)

Monday, September 19, 2011

>Mine

So I should be working on translating Greek (we are working through Mark 3 for tomorrow) or prepping for my sermon next Sunday, or doing readings for class or something else productive.  But I don't want to. I mean, I do want to, those are all great things to do, and sometimes like doing all of them, but right now, I don't want to.
I preached yesterday.  It was an interesting experience.  It was at a long term care/rehabilitation facility, so mostly really old people.  The last time I preached to really old people it was at an independent living facility - completely different atmosphere! It was also one of the most laid back preaching experiences I had.  We started the service and then realized that the set-up we thought was going to work wasn't going to work.  So we moved the podium, moved the sound system, moved everyone's wheelchair...and started over.  I got compliments afterwards, so I guess that's a good thing.
I'm not going to post my manuscript like I often do, because my manuscript is becoming more of a tool and less of a crutch for me. It no longer accurately reflects what I say during a service.  Sure it gives a general idea, but that's about it.   If you really want to see my manuscript, let me know and I'll send you a copy.  Otherwise, not.
My sermon theme was from Exodus 16 and about how G-d's plan is always greater than ours and how we have to trust him when we have no idea where to turn or what the deuce is going on.
As I prepared and delivered this message I realized that it spoke to me just as much as it spoke to any of my congregants if not more.  That's a cool thing about being pastor.  Frustrating at times, but also cool.  You get to preach to yourself, but it's not really you, but the Holy Spirit through you...it's a beautiful thing indeed.  Right now I'm really focusing on the phrase ">Mine".  For those of you who struggled in math, that means "Greater than mine." Think of the ">" as a hungry alligator mouth.  It doesn't want to eat mine, it wants to eat what is greater than mine, because it is a very hungry alligator.  If you're the praying sort, I could really use prayers for clarity and guidance.  I'm feeling a call to refine my call and maybe possibly change courses a little.  Of course, that's scary.  I need to make sure it's not my plan.  Because then the alligator will still be hungry.  No one likes hungry alligators.
In other news, I feel like I'm turning into a fish.
I'm super distractable today.  I think it's because I skimped on Sabbath this weekend.  Don't skimp on Sabbath.  It's a bad plan!  Bad Joy!
Now, time for supper and back to work