Friday, December 02, 2016

Advent and Chronic Pain

Advent. It means "the arrival of a notable thing, person, or event." In the Christian calendar, it is the beginning of the Christian year, the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. 

Advent is waiting. We spend this time knowing that we need a Savior and knowing that God has promised a Messiah, but he hasn't yet come. But, he will.

I grew up in a non-liturgical church, so we didn't observe Advent. Right after Thanksgiving, we were in full Christmas mode. And I still enjoy my Christmas tree and lights and Nativity sets.

But, I also understand the need to be still and wait. To remember how much I need Jesus. To feel the brokenness and pray for healing. 

It's the time of year to remember the promises that God made about his coming Messiah.  

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

I realized today how much Advent is like having chronic pain. I'm waiting. Always waiting. I know that in the end, I'll be pain-free. God will either heal me or take me to heaven, but I have to live this life that I have right now.

So I wait and I pray, like the people of Israel did for those many years. I read the words of the prophets that they heard or that they heard read in the synagogues. "The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." Yes. God will do this. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but He will.

What are you waiting for this Advent? Jesus is right beside you and ready to walk this life with you. He may not choose to physically heal you right now, but he'll walk through whatever is hurting you right now right with you. All he asks is  that you trust him.

Over these next few weeks, read your Bible, particularly the stories of the birth of Jesus and the prophecies that they reference. Anticipate the arrival of the Savior. Pray for Jesus to have a real impact on your life this Christmas.

Thoughts?

CCM 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lagniappe 11/19/2016

I've been home for a week and I'm so content. I'm really such a homebody these days. My month with my parents was good. They are recovering from their surgeries well. It was great to see my brother and his family again, too.

  • I got back into Wisconsin exactly a week ago. I expected Patrick to pick me up from the airport, but actually, he and both kids picked me up!! Yay! I felt very loved!
  • Patrick signed up for Blue Apron while I was gone. He made several of the meals and liked them. He and I made the last one together on Thursday and it was delicious! The only problem is that we didn't make the beet-cranberry agrodolce because the beet was all squishy because we should have made it about four days earlier. Besides, something with both beets and cranberries would have been very "challenging" for my palate. After the first of the year, we'll be trying some more of the Blue Apron meals. And, it turns out that Patrick and I do a really good job cooking together!
  • Chris got into Concert Choir for next semester!! He told me last week that the audition was last Thursday and then he let me know the audition results at the airport!! I'm so happy for him. He has worked really hard on his sight-singing and aural skills this semester.
  • Lydia is now working full-time at her job. She spent the first three months technically working for the temp agency that got her the job. Now that she's officially working for the company, she gets next Thursday and Friday as paid holidays (something that never happened when she worked in hospitality). And, a couple of weeks ago, she got moved to a job that she wanted (doing inventory) in which she is not constantly on her feet and that starts at 8am instead of at 6am. And, it came with a raise! Overall, she's pretty happy with her work status.
  • Lydia was also very excited this week because she got a turkey at work! Of course, she can't even think about cooking it in her tiny oven, but it's 12 pounds, so we'll just use it for our Thanksgiving turkey. One less thing for me to buy!
  • I spent my first couple of days at home not sleeping well and just getting a bit done here and there. Finally, on Wednesday, I decluttered part of the living room and cleaned the kitchen. I had major plans for the rest of the week, but I woke up with a migraine on Thursday that has not let loose since then. Ugh.
  • LSU lost to Florida today. It's not good for me when Florida wins. So many of my high school friends are from UF (I grew up in West Palm Beach) that my FB feed turns blue and orange when Florida beats LSU. Not good.
  • I'm knitting my fingers to the bones. It's getting time for Christmas presents!! And I've chosen some lovely yarn, so it's fun for me to knit!
  • Big news: I got all seven of the Harry Potter novels on audio from Pottermore! Yay!
  • And, I learned something while listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. We learn about the vanishing cabinet in Borgin and Burkes, which I already knew about. But, we also learn about how the vanishing cabinet in Hogwarts gets broken! Harry gets in trouble with Filch and is taken to his office. To distract Filch, Nearly Headless Nick has Peeves cause a distraction, which is to drop the vanishing cabinet in a classroom directly over Filch's office. Filch exclaims that Peeves has now broken a very valuable vanishing cabinet! This becomes important in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when the Weasley twins stuff Montague into the cabinet. And, it's of major importance in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because Draco Malfoy repairs it so that the Death Eaters can enter the school. Wow. Rowling really planned this thing out.
  • Christmas Mint M&Ms are out!! I'm really trying to limit myself. Really.
  • Next week is Thanksgiving, so I'll be cooking and cooking and even more cooking!! 
More later about politics, books I'm reading, and things Jesus is teaching me. What are you up to? Comments are always welcomed!!

CCM

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post Election Thoughts

I'm still trying to work out how I feel about Tuesday's election. I'm obviously unhappy that Trump won. And I have friends who are truly scared because they are part of a marginalized group.

Other Christians are posting things like "God is still on his throne" and "Trump may be president, but Jesus is King". While that is true, it doesn't mean that there won't be consequences from the results of the election. God was still in control during the Holocaust, right?

In fact, we're already seeing racism and xenophobia already rearing their ugly heads. These are attitudes that were there before the election, but people are feeling more comfortable expressing these ideas. Check out this twitter feed.

I'm not the first to question how God can allow personal and corporate catastrophes to happen. Job (in the Bible) was one of the first and certainly not the last. But, the fact is that God does let this kind of thing happen. (I'm not a Calvinist - I think God lets them happen, not that he makes them happen.) I truly believe that Trump becoming president is a bad thing. Maybe he'll prove me wrong.

The first thing we can do is lament. Lament is a biblical response to any kind of tragedy. There are laments in the Psalms and the prophets. My go-to scripture is the Book of Lamentations traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah and written as a response to the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem. The author cries out to God asking why God could allow such a disaster to occur.

And right now, it's OK to just lament. If you are one of the marginalized groups of people that Trump has spoken against, you may need more time to adjust to the new reality. And that's just fine. Pray, meditate, be with people who love you and lift you up.

When our time of lament is over, the time of work begins. That starts with prayer. Our foundation is always prayer. Micah 6:8 tells us, 
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God."

Justice, mercy, and humility start with God. After that, we each have our lives to live and our own work to do. What I do as a 49 year old woman with chronic migraine is going to be completely different from my daughter as a 22 year old dance teacher. 

And this, of course, brings us back to love. We must love each other. We must love the marginalized people who are understandably scared right now - immigrants, Muslims, disabled, LGBTQ friends, and even women. But, we also must love those who are acting hatefully - the KKK groups that are harassing the marginalized and putting out nasty fliers, the Confederate flag fliers who are scaring our African-American population, and all those who are speaking ill of anyone.

So, love hard. It may not be easy. But, it's the only choice we have if we're going to put this country back together. 

Anything you would add?

CCM

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

. . . And Moving On . . . .

Election day is over. For the vast majority of us, that means we go on living our lives as usual. Barring any great catastrophe, the checks and balances placed on the branches of government by our founding fathers mean that there won't be any dramatic changes in our lives based on the election results anytime soon. I am so blessed to be in a family that believes in love, tolerance, and patience. But, one of my "adopted" daughters has received some hateful messages on Tumblr because of her sexual orientation. Please remember that there are some out there who are vulnerable to other peoples' rudeness, hate, and persecution; and pray for them when you can.

My mom and dad are recovering well from their surgeries. Dad has his catheter out and had a very good visit with the urology clinic today. Mom has been able to drive since Monday, which is good since I've had an intermittent migraine for about five days. Mom still has some pain from healing, but she's managing. She likes to pick up things that are too heavy and doesn't do well with resting, but she never has . . . 

Mom bought a new microwave today at Home Depot. It was the last one of the floor model, so it came without a box. She had someone load it into the car at Home Depot. When she came home, though, I brought it upstairs, which wasn't very hard because it's not all that heavy. But, then, I moved the old microwave from the shelf to the floor of the living room. It was heavy. Then, I put the new microwave in it's spot and life was good! And my nephew gets to move the old microwave downstairs. Because I'm old. 

I've been working on some knitting projects that I'm not at liberty to discuss because Christmas!!!

Speaking of Christmas, I made a Christmas music playlist on my phone!! I'll rotate between that and Hamilton when I want to listen to music. 

I was going to recruit my nephews and work on getting Mom and Dad's Christmas tree and a few decorations up, but I woke up with such a bad migraine yesterday that I couldn't do it. We might try again Friday after school. The stuff is up on a high shelf and I think I need my 15 year old and very tall nephew to help!

I've also been reading. My brother loaned me Disinformation by Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak. It's a book about how the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc misled the West during the cold war, but particularly about how they tarnished the image of Pope Pius XII. It's a pretty good book, but I wasn't getting much reading done. I came across Church of Spies by Mark Riebling in Overdrive, which is an audiobook also about the Catholic Church's true role in WWII. I decided to listen to this one instead since I'm doing more listening than reading right now.

My other two books are The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight which is excellent and Seriously Dangerous Religion by Iain Provain about reading the Old Testament which is also excellent. I also have The Big Short by Michael Lewis from Overdrive, but I haven't started listening.

Tomorrow, it's back to normal life. Hopefully, I wake up without a headache. Help Mom clean house. Do some knitting. Maybe check out a yarn shop. Love the people I come in contact with. Wonderfully boring. And I'm glad.

How are things with you? Anything interesting? Do share.

CCM


. . . And Moving On . . . .

Election day is over. For the vast majority of us, that means we go on living our lives as usual. Barring any great catastrophe, the checks and balances placed on the branches of government by our founding fathers mean that there won't be any dramatic changes in our lives based on the election results anytime soon. I am so blessed to be in a family that believes in love, tolerance, and patience. But, one of my "adopted" daughters has received some hateful messages on Tumblr because of her sexual orientation. Please remember that there are some out there who are vulnerable to other peoples' rudeness, hate, and persecution; and pray for them when you can.

My mom and dad are recovering well from their surgeries. Dad has his catheter out and had a very good visit with the urology clinic today. Mom has been able to drive since Monday, which is good since I've had an intermittent migraine for about five days. Mom still has some pain from healing, but she's managing. She likes to pick up things that are too heavy and doesn't do well with resting, but she never has . . . 

I've been working on some knitting projects that I'm not at liberty to discuss because Christmas!!!

Speaking of Christmas, I made a Christmas music playlist on my phone!! I'll rotate between that and Hamilton when I want to listen to music. 

I was going to recruit my nephews and work on getting Mom and Dad's Christmas tree and a few decorations up, but I woke up with such a bad migraine yesterday that I couldn't do it. We might try again Friday after school. The stuff is up on a high shelf and I think I need my 15 year old and very tall nephew to help!

I've also been reading. My brother loaned me Disinformation by Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak. It's a book about how the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc misled the West during the cold war, but particularly about how they tarnished the image of Pope Pius XII. It's a pretty good book, but I wasn't getting much reading done. I came across Church of Spies by Mark Riebling in Overdrive, which is an audiobook also about the Catholic Church's true role in WWII. I decided to listen to this one instead since I'm doing more listening than reading right now.

My other two books are The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight which is excellent and Seriously Dangerous Religion by Iain Provain about reading the Old Testament which is also excellent. I also have The Big Short by Michael Lewis from Overdrive, but I haven't started listening.

Tomorrow, it's back to normal life. Hopefully, I wake up without a headache. Help Mom clean house. Do some knitting. Maybe check out a yarn shop. Love the people I come in contact with. Wonderfully boring. And I'm glad.

How are things with you? Anything interesting? Do share.

CCM


Congratulations, America!!

Congratulations, America!!! You are 240 years old and have managed to elect the most incompetent, unqualified, and least temperamentally appropriate person to be our President for the next four years.

I'll spare you the pages and pages of how he is unqualified. Just a few instances will suffice. The New York Times listed all the people that he insulted on a two page spread. Numerous other newspapers chose to support Hillary Clinton. The KKK loves him and David Duke wants to be his buddy. But, no, America, you thought that putting the most misogynistic, homophobic, and bigoted candidate into the highest position of leadership in our country was a good idea.

By the time you're hung over and reading this, you might have figured out that you made a major screw-up.

But, it's only four years. If you can keep him away from the nuclear codes and Twitter and keep him from insulting any foreign dictators, you can probably make it through. After all, most government stuff is run by bureaucracy anyway, right? 

Okay. I'm done being snarky. It was the migraine talking.

In reality though, we have a President who has marginalized many minority groups. We have to deal with this. People of color, LGBTQ friends, and immigrants have all been made to feel unwelcome during this campaign. They are scared. How do I know? Because some of them are my friends. It's now time for us to fix the damage that this campaign has done.

We have to love hard. Love when it hurts. Love people you don't want to love (yes, even the homophobic bigot or the immigrant of questionable legality). Love like Jesus loved.

Give. Give till it hurts. Give your time. Give your love. Give whatever someone else needs.

We aren't going to make it through the next four years if we let this administration keep dividing us. That means that people like me who see this election as a huge dumpster fire are going to have to put it behind me because many of the people I love in my family and circle of friends are happy with the outcome of the election. 

We're all going to have to love hard.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

CCM

As always, please let me know any thoughts or ideas you have in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Lagniappe 11/5/2016

My poor blog. I really should take better care of it. I'm not a writer, though. I'm more of an intermittent journaller. I post things when I have a need to write, not really to build a following. And, it's nice to have other people to read along and comment and discuss things. (I keep my more private thoughts in a "real" paper and pen journal.)

So, what's been going on?


  • Rhapsody is the kitten that I got this summer. She is a cute little thing who loves to sleep on my lap but isn't terribly cuddly otherwise. Rory, Wild Man's cat, is the affectionate one.
  • I'm currently in the Atlanta suburbs and have been for three weeks because my parents both had surgery.
  • My Dad had a carotid endarterectomy (had plaque removed from the carotid artery) almost three weeks ago. He had to have a catheter in his bladder for 2 weeks after surgery, but has otherwise recovered well.
  • My mom had some pelvic surgery (it was all benign stuff) two weeks ago. Miraculously, she has had no complications! Her recovery has been a bit slow, but that's not all that surprising given the extent of the surgery.
  • I've been driving Mom and Dad around and I'm learning the area. I even took them to vote, despite the fact that they're not voting the same way that I did. I voted before I left Wisconsin.
  • I also took care of cooking and other household things while Mom was down from her surgery.
  • Mom and Dad just moved into this house in Georgia in early August. Not only do I not know where everything is, but they're still not sure where everything is! And, some things are in boxes until some painting gets done. Life gets a little confusing.
  • I am getting to spend some time with my brother and his family. I got my nephew to play Pokemon Go with my phone to hatch an egg for me! (I've got some plantar fasciitis so I'm not walking much.)
  • On my first day here, I took the car and Google maps to find a Walgreens. Google said it was about 18 minutes away. It took me an hour to get there and then 30 minutes to get home. Suffice it to say that Google maps and I had a few disagreements on the way there. On the way back, I just  made a couple of wrong turns!
  • Wild Man's first choir concert at UWSP was the night before I left to come down here. The concert was wonderful! Wild Man was in the Choral Union and the Chamber Singers.
  • I have many thoughts that I will probably write about in the next week or two. I will probably have many more after the election.
  • The headache situation since I left home hasn't been too bad. Last night and today I had a really rotten migraine. Last week I had another really unpleasant one. Otherwise, I've been able to manage around them and I only had to call my brother once to take Dad to a doctor's appointment for me. Not bad.
So, that's life. It's a pretty good one. What's up with you?!



Monday, August 15, 2016

What I'm Up To

School is about to start which means that Chris (Wild Man) is about to go off to college (although I expect he'll be home a lot of weekends) and Patrick (PWM) will be back to teaching. And, I'll be home with the cats during the day. What's someone with chronic migraine to do?

What will I do with myself? I thought about taking a seminary class on Genesis or New Testament Survey. The problem is that my headaches tend to show up at inconvenient times - like when papers are due or when online discussion groups are scheduled. I might try it another time, but I've got a few other things to keep me busy until then.

It turns out that I have a bunch of books that I've purchased or that have been given to me that I haven't read (or started and haven't finished) yet. This fall seems like the perfect opportunity.

  • The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight (almost done)
  • Hearing God by Dallas Willard
  • A Fine-Tuned Universe by Alister McGrath
  • C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath
  • Confessions by St. Augustine (Lydia and I are reading this together and getting together for discussions every month or so.)
  • The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight
  • Serious Dangerous Religion by Iain Provan
  • Darwinism and the Divine by Alister McGrath
  • Ancient-Future Time by Robert E. Webber
  • black and white bible: black and blue wife by Ruth Tucker
  • The Heaven Promise by Scot McKnight
  • The Epistles of St. John by F.F. Bruce
Now that I look at the list, it seems a little daunting. It might take more than the fall, especially since I plan to continue to reading some fiction from the library on the side. As always, friend me on Goodreads (Catherine Martin) to see what I'm reading and what I've thought of my recent reads.

Of course, I'm going to knit. I've got a few projects planned for the next year or two.
  • Christmas presents - No, I won't tell you what they are. Some of the recipients read this blog.
  • A Fair Isle sweater from a kit from Knit Picks. I actually made this sweater several years ago in XL. Unfortunately, when I was washing and blocking it, I thought I could get away with spinning it in the dryer for a couple of minutes to get a bit of the water out of it. No. It felted. I ordered a couple more balls of yarn and I'm working on another sweater. I've got the sleeves almost done. I'm much more confident on this sweater now that I know how to knit and cut steeks.
  • I love modular knitting. I found a cool pattern in a book that I have and I actually have enough yarn to make it!! It's a short sleeved sweater, so I'll probably try to make it for spring.
  • I'm working on a double-knit scarf. I wanted to enter it in the County Fair this year, but I've only got six inches done so far and the Fair is next week. I'm on row 70 out of 500. Yeah. I'll enter it in the Fair next year. But, I'll work on it this year.
  • For when my head aches and I don't want to think, I'm making a blanket that's mostly garter stitch.
  • When I get another itch to organize something I'll organize all my works-in-progress (WIPs).
Other things I want to do between headaches
  • Coloring! I've got my coloring books and pencils that are great for a rainy day.
  • Pokemon Go! I am having a great time with this game. I've changed my walking routine so that I can stop by a couple of PokeStops for PokeBalls a couple of times.
  • Internet Monk (www.internetmonk.com) is doing a study on the book of James that I'm following along with.
  • Clean out the basement. We have stuff that needs to be given away and stuff to be thrown away.
  • Clean the upstairs closet. This will take all of 30 minutes once I set my mind to it. I hope.
  • Re-organize my room. When we made Lydia's room into a room for our exchange student, we emptied her desk's contents into a box and left the box in our room. I need to deal with that box along with other stuff in our room.
Right now, though, the Olympics are on, so I am going to watch the Olympics and knit.

What are your plans for the Fall? Anything interesting?

CCM

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stray Thoughts About the Olympics

Once every four years, I, like much of America, become interested in sports that I otherwise care little about. Like diving and swimming. For two weeks, I'm glued to the TV. Eight years ago, both kids were being homeschooled, so we did a fun unit study on Beijing and sports. This year, it's just me. (PWM is at a conference for educational stuff and Wild Man is working a lot.)

Here are some random observations from the first week.


  • Rugby is like football with fewer rules. But, if you already know about rugby, then you already know that. Or there are rules, but I don't know them.
  • The Fiji rugby team is very religious. A quick look at Wikipedia shows that 99% of people in Fiji are Christian, most of those Methodist, due to 19th century missionary work. The commentators said that the rugby players not only pray before and after matches, but before and after workouts. Individual players can be seen praying when they are on the sidelines during matches. As a Christian, I think this is cool.
  • And, how about Katie Ledecki?! She is killing it this week!!!
  • Michael Phelps is cool, too!
  • I'm very glad that the commentators are finally talking more about Katinka Hosszu and her swimming than her husband. Yes, it's interesting that her husband is her coach and that she's improved since he became her coach and that he is a maniac at cheering her on, but SHE'S the one doing the swimming! Let's focus on the swimmer - like with all the other swimmers!
  • What the heck is with the diving pools turning green? There are some interesting theories!
  • It was actually cool enough the other night that the beach volleyball players wore clothes! More than bikinis!
  • And, yes, the most amazing gymnast in the world was homeschooled! 
  • Field hockey is an actual sport! I thought it was just something to keep us busy in middle school PE class.
  • Olympic table tennis is serious, people! I watched some of it yesterday and those athletes were working. No more jokes about ping pong!
  • Those "cupping" bruises look painful, but they're supposed to help.
  • The kinesio-tape industry must be making a fortune off the Olympics!
That's all for the moment. There's more than a week left for more observations. What have you noticed?

CCM