Monday, May 28, 2007

Kid Comparisons

My kids played in their annual Piano Guild auditions last week. Being their mother, I think they are brilliant when they just take a breath. Despite that, they both played quite well. Wild Man had a great day and received a "Superior" rating. Ga'Hoole Girl had a more difficult time, but still received an "Excellent" rating. We were so excited when we got their scores since they both got "Excellent" ratings last year.

I find a disturbing tendency within myself, though, to compare my kids to other kids. I rarely compare Wild Man to Ga'Hoole Girl because they are so different. But, I do find that I will subtly compare my kids to other people's kids. For example, when I hear another child play piano, I think deep down about whether or not my kids are better pianists. It can go even further. When kids get to misbehaving, I find myself thinking that their parents are the ones who are actually to blame. And well-behaved kids must have stellar parents.

This is all part of a deeper pathology in which I am responsible for every action, good and bad, that my child does. If my child is "successful", it is because I am a good Mom. If my child is not the best, it is because I am a bad Mom. Do you see where this is going? It isn't good, is it?

Scripture tells us that we are responsible to teach our children right from wrong, but we must remember that children will still make their own choices. The Bible also shows the children of Godly parents who make abysmal choices - David's son Absalom, Solomon's sons (take your pick). Proverbs 22:6 tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go" but also says that "when he is old he will not turn from it". There isn't any implication that great parenting automatically produces perfect children who will never disobey. Proverbs 23:13 and 29:15 also tell us the importance of providing discipline for a child. But, again, our children are not trained animals - they can and will make their own choices, especially as they grow older.

[On a practical note, God places people in the families where he wants them. I have absolutely no right to judge a parent who has a child who is more curious or active than my kids. I have been blessed with generally compliant children, but I know families that have one or more kids that are just "high-maintenance" from the time they come out of the womb. Those parents need extra encouragement from those of us with easier kids, not condemnation. I also don't read that Scripture gives us "one" way to raise kids. It is clear that we are to provide discipline and training, but that can (and probably should) look different in each family. I have great suspicion for those people and books that claim that "if you do X, your children will do Y". There's no support in Scripture or in my experience.]

What does this have to do with me as a parent? Plenty. I cannot base my self-worth on my children. I am responsible to obey God. My children's future is determined by God, not by me. In the final analysis, this comes back to a reminder that I can't compare myself to other people to see if I measure up, either. I can't try to decide if I'm a "good enough" Mom based on how my kids behave or how clean my house is or whether my kids read early enough, etc. My worth is found in Christ alone (see previous post!!). Eph 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 2 Tim 1:9-11 who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. God loved me enough for Jesus to die for me. That is what is important. And, as a Mom, I want to teach my kids to lean on this truth and not on the "stuff" they do. God loves me. That is enough. That will get me through any struggle I have and will get my kids through their lives.

Blue cornbread

You saw that right! I made blue cornbread last night. When I was in the organic section of the grocery store last week, I picked up a package of blue cornmeal - it has more fiber than regular yellow cornbread. I was a little concerned about how it would turn out, but it ended up being very good! It was a little salty compared to other cornbread that I've made, but otherwise fine. We could tell that it is a little more substantive than other cornbread, but it was also nice and moist.

You can probably tell from my blog that I have signed up for YouTube! I'll try to not be too annoying with posting music videos, but I think it will be fun to share music that has been meaningful to me.

I'm making another change to my blog. From now on, my kids will be known as Ga'Hoole Girl (my almost 12 year old daughter) and Wild Man (my 9 year old son). My husband will be Mr. Math Teacher. Using letters was driving me kind of crazy!

Today is the beginning of the last week of dance rehearsals. Today and Wednesday are stage rehearsals. Friday night, Ga'Hoole Girl has one dress rehearsal. The other dress rehearsals are on Saturday afternoon. I'm excited about the Saturday dress rehearsals. Every other year, the dress rehearsals start in the morning, but the show isn't until evening. This is a problem because we live 40 minutes away from the theater. So, we don't get to come home between dress rehearsal and performance. Granted, this was much more of a problem when the kids were younger, but I'm still glad that we only have to stay in the city for the afternoon. It's going to be a busy week, but it is fun. We will do a full school day tomorrow, but then just do math and reading the rest of the week.

Ga'Hoole girl is really getting into origami these days. It's amazing what she can do with paper. Both kids are excited that their grandparents (my parents) are coming tomorrow. The kids love having grandparents around for things like recitals. The kids also have a list of what they want to do with the grandparents while they're here. And, Mr. Math Teacher and I have a short anniversary trip planned - time for the kids to play with the grandparents and time for my husband and I to be together alone!

I have been having some thoughts about kids, performance, and comparing our kids to other peoples' kids, but they will have to wait for a while. I need to get the kids something to eat so we can leave for dance. Mr. Math Teacher will be happy because my headache has calmed down enough for me to be able to take the kids today - I didn't have a great morning. Anyway, I'm off to feed a couple of kids.

In Christ Alone by Newsboys

Cool video to go with such a powerful song!

How Great is our God by Chris Tomlin

What an amazing song! What an amazing God!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My splint

I now have a splint in my mouth to try to help with my headaches. My dentist thinks that this might help - in fact, he offered to make me the splint and I pay for it only if it works. I'll be thrilled to pay if it works!! So, today is the second full day of wearing it. It is really annoying, and it's too early to tell if it is helping. But, I'm praying.

I have been painting our living room "dusky rose". L doesn't like it - she says that she just doesn't like pink. It is really more of a mauve color, but she's not convinced. I chose the color based on the fabric that is on my dining and kitchen window treatments. I took some of the extra fabric and I'm making table cloths for the end tables in the living room. Unfortunately, I can't quite get the bobbin threaded in the sewing machine, so I have to wait for L to get home. She doesn't sew a lot, but she can thread the sewing machine!!

As you can probably tell from the changes on my blog site, I have discovered some fun resources. My blog is now part of the CWO (Christian Women Online) blog ring. I have had a great time reading some of the other blogs that are part of the ring. They also have the daily Scripture, etc. that I have added to the site. I hope they are encouraging for you.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

Lyrics copyright 2001 Kingsway/Thankyou Music

We sang this song this morning in church. It was especially moving today. I was particularly struck by the line that "sin's curse has lost it's grip on me". It's hard to feel that, but the truth is there. Jesus' death paid for all of my sin - and I no longer live in bondage to it.

Another interesting event in church today: I spoke to one of the nurses who cared for me when I was in the hospital back in 2005. First, a little background: My migraines really got terrible in August 2005. I had 2 hospitalizations in August to try to break migraines. During those stays, we tried DHE and some other unpleasant meds. In September, the family and I went to a medical conference for a few days. We left early because of my migraines. When we got back in to town, I called my partner on call (it was Saturday) and he suggested that we try hospitalization with an iv narcotic drip. I thought this sounded great because I needed to get back to work Monday (crazy, huh?).

During the night that I was on the narcotic, I stopped breathing and the nurse who found me called a Code Blue. I recall waking up to hearing the voice of the ER doctor saying, "Prepare for cardioversion". What!? I felt this terrible heaviness in my chest and shortness of breath. I opened my eyes and saw a heart monitor that showed supraventricular tachycardia with a rate of about 170. I realized that I was the one on the monitor! Surprisingly, I vividly recall that I had a very coherent thought: "Cough. Cough to convert back into sinus rhythm and they won't have to cardiovert." I have no idea how I could think something that made so much sense. Anyway, I started coughing, and then the doctor and nurses encouraged me to continue. Within a minute or two, I had converted to sinus tachycardia at about 140. They quit talking about electricity - thank you, Lord! Anyway, the next few minutes were taken up with getting ABGs drawn and a CXR done. I kept telling them to call my husband, but they wouldn't call him until things were pretty settled down - i.e. when I was on my way to the ICU.

After a few minutes, they wheeled me to the ICU (it's a 40 bed hospital - the trip to ICU is very short, and there are only 4 ICU beds). When we got there, I started to pray and asked if anyone could please pray with me. My nurse was trying to get stuff hooked up, but she finally said, "OK. How about if we say the 'Our Father'?" That was fine with me. I was scared, P wasn't there with me, and all I wanted was someone else to pray with me. So, we did the "Our Father" together. P arrived soon after, and he spent much time in prayer!! The official cause of my apnea was narcotic overdose, but the dose of medication wasn't very high. Now that I know about my sleep apnea, I suspect that I became apneic at a lower than expected dose because of the obstructive sleep apnea. When I was coded, they gave me lots of Narcan, and I think that caused the SVT. In any case, I spent the next day in the ICU getting intermittent doses of Narcan. My headache came back, so they let me have some oral meds. It turns out that I had aspirated during the event, so I had a couple week recovery from that. I took a three month leave from work for headaches, etc. I only went back to work for three months before I had to quit for good.

What does that have to do with church today?? The nurse that prayed with me in the ICU goes to our church, although she goes early so I rarely see her. She told me today that my time in the ICU was the first time that she had ever prayed with a patient - she had always been taught to separate faith from work. Now, she often asks patients if she can pray with them, especially when she is working med flights. She also said she thought I was very brave - I wasn't really, but I'm glad she thought so. Anyway, I do not want to relive that event, but I was excited to hear that it had a positive impact on someone else's life - and through her, other people's lives. Isn't God totally cool?

"Here in the power of Christ I stand" is my prayer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I have been doing a good bit of reading and watching some videos, so here are my reviews. (Disclaimer: This may be a little bit clouded by my headache.)

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
This is a great book about an amazing woman from Somalia. It chronicles her life story and journey from Somalia and Kenya to The Netherlands and the US. What is more fascinating is her intellectual journey from radical Islam to atheism. Ms. Ali is best known as the woman who collaborated with Theo Van Gogh on the film "Submission". Van Gogh was murdered on the street in The Netherlands. Ms. Ali has been in Parliament in The Netherlands, and is currently a fellow in the American Enterprise Institute in the US. You can watch "Submission" on YouTube - I didn't link to it because it is somewhat explicit.
What I liked most about this book, and the reason that I recommend it, is that it portrays Islam as currently practiced in the Arabic world from the perspective of a woman - a woman who held to Islamic beliefs until 9/11/2001. I have read other books about the beliefs of Islam, but this was the first that demonstrated so clearly how Islam plays out in people's life. Ms. Ali, unfortunately, went from Islam to atheism. She says that Islam went against everything that her conscience told her. It appears that she has had contact and dialogue with Christians, but has not (yet) chosen that path.
There are some things with which I disagree. She talks about Islamics changing their beliefs to be more consistent with Western beliefs. What doesn't make sense, though, is that Islam is based on the belief in the Koran as the word of Allah. It doesn't admit room for change. In the same way, Christianity may look a little different in different societies, but the essential beliefs are unchanged since Jesus. So, I don't think asking Islamics to change what they believe is at all realistic. As a Christian, I pray that Muslims will see the truth of Christianity and meet Jesus.
Ms. Ali also tried to change the Dutch law that allowed private and homeschools because of the teaching that occurs in the "madrassahs" - the Muslim schools. Unfortunately, requiring that all children have a secular education isn't any better. In a free society, families must have the freedom to educate our children as we see fit. Our response to radical Islam must be to love them and to help them choose to integrate into society.
I could write for hours about this, but I hope I have given you enough to get you to read the book. Again, I don't agree with all her conclusions, but I have great respect for her courage and intellect.

Beyond Survival by Diana Waring
This is a wonderful book for homeschooling families. We use a curriculum, so I didn't need a lot of the stuff about how to teach different subjects, etc. But, I did find that it was a greatly encouraging book. She talked about how her kids are so different, but that they are learning and thriving in their home environment. I strongly recommend this book for anyone homeschooling or considering homeschooling.

What in the World is Going on Here? tape series by Diana Waring
I really liked Diana Waring's book about homeschooling in general, but I really disliked this tape series. This series is an attempt to look at world history through the lens of Christianity. I can handle that she is a young-earth creationist and takes the first several chapters of Genesis extremely literally. I had problems with a number of other items, though. In one place, she talked about the concepts of Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age being incorrect because she believes that God gave humans everything we needed to develop civilization from the time we were created. She uses a verse in Genesis 4 to support this - the verse states that a certain person was skilled in the working of bronze and iron. First of all, the dating of the first 11 chapters or so of Genesis is rather problematic. Second of all, one person being skilled in bronze and iron doesn't mean that the societies as a whole had learned to use them. I also have a problem with just brushing off such established ideas as the developing of society through certain "ages" - we clearly are in an information age that took several millenia to get to. Our society would not be here without having already gone through the industrial age, etc. There is more to which I object, but I'll leave it here. Obviously, I'm not going to use this resource with my kids.

"The Midwife's Tale" - DVD from PBS
This movie is based on a book, which is a historical evaluation of the diary of Martha Ballard, who lived during the time of the American Revolution. I didn't find the movie terribly exciting, but the story was pretty interesting. Mrs. Ballard practiced midwifery in addition to raising her own family. She delivered over 1000 babies and never lost a mom due to childbirth. What was rather sad, though, was that her own children treated her so poorly when she reached old age. Martha and her husband were finally able to build their own home when they were about 60. Soon after, Mr. Ballard was taken to debtor's prison for about a year. During that time, her son and his family just moved in with Martha, relegating her to a single bedroom. According to her diary, she felt that she was treated very poorly. After such a long and productive life, I can't imagine being treated so badly by one's kids. The diary itself is rather sparse, though. It's never clear whether or not the family was happy at home. Martha tended to just keep a record of what she did, when she delivered babies, other medical care she provided. It was only near the end of the diary that her own feelings were allowed to show. I would recommend this for adults. C watched it with me and was bored, but it wasn't inappropriate.

"Xanadu" - movie with Olivia Newton-John with music by ELO
This was a walk down memory lane for me. I had seen the movie as a teen and even owned the soundtrack. I chose it for the family to watch because we are studying Greek myths, and the premise of the movie is that a muse is sent to help a struggling artist. We all really enjoyed it. Some of the dancing was suggestive and some of the costumes were questionable, but it wasn't too bad for our kids. P also used the movie to talk about how we are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and not by a muse or other being. I highly recommend this movie for kids above about age 8.

"Civilization and the Jews" - DVD
This is another PBS movie. There are three parts to it, each with three episodes. So far, we have only watched the first two episodes. They fit very nicely with our discussion of ancient history. The point of the movie is to show the history of the Jewish people and their impact on civilizations. I recommend it to supplement world history curricula for older elementary kids and up.

That's all I have to write at the moment. I'll update my knitting situation later.

I got it - Hey Fightin' Tigerrs!!

Guess what?! I just got the coolest ringtone for my cell phone!! When I was visiting a friend in Houston, he had "Hey Fightin' Tigers" (LSU football song) as his ringtone. I have been trying to get hold of that ringtone since then, but haven't had luck. Today, though, P was helping L get a ringtone for her phone (we are completely wireless so everyone has a phone now) and was using a service that I hadn't tried. So, I checked this service and they have it! So, now my ringtone is "Hey, Fightin' Tigers", L's ringtone is "Pirates of the Caribbean", P's ringtone is "God of Wonders", and C's ringtone is "Get Your Head in the Game" from "High School Musical". Are we connected, or what?

We also just got Xanadu from Netflix and are about to watch it. We have been reading Greek Myths, and I thought that Xanadu was perfect to reinforce it!! Yes, it's silly, but my children must be exposed to campy, 1980s musicals and a tenuous connection is a great reason. We also have Cats, but we're not watching that till tomorrow and it doesn't fit our "curriculum" although L is dying to watch it.

I still have the headaches, but my emotions are coming under some control. We've had a pretty stressful week. Yesterday, we went to the big city VA hospital (2+ hour drive) because one of our pastor's (and Patrick's dear friend) was sent there with angina. They put in a stent yesterday afternoon and he was feeling pretty decent when we saw him yesterday. I started the day yesterday with a wicked migraine, but it was gone by the time we left for the hospital (I slept most of the morning). I had insomnia last night, but I was able to finish painting our sunroom today. Unfortunately, we have a weather front coming through, so I'm pretty headache-y right now. Yuck.

Well, off to watch Xanadu!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Angry at God

Yes, I am angry at God. I realize that this is a little dangerous, with Him being armed with lightening bolts and all, but there it is.

I have had a terrible two weeks - that's the reason for no blogging -it isn't really that we have had such a boring life! Two weeks ago I stopped my last migraine prevention medication. It was an antidepressant. EEK! The first week was particularly bad. I had forgotten what all those emotions feel like. By the third day, I was having regular crying spells, including getting really mad at God. It didn't help that the headaches seemed to have gotten worse for this two weeks. So, on the fourth day, I went in to see my counselor. I told her about my crying spells and how I had gotten so angry with God the day before. Being a counselor, she said, "Really? I've been wondering if we need to talk about anger." EEK! EEK!

So, I know that I am allowed to have angry feelings and to question God. But, that doesn't mean that I have to like it. I thought that I was OK with my new life as a stay at home mom, etc. Apparently, though, I failed to mention it to my emotions. There is a part of me that really didn't want to give up practicing medicine. OK, a big part of me. And, I still have the headaches, so I have been feeling very guilty about not getting as much homeschooling done as I would like.

The emotional ups and downs are getting better over the last couple of weeks. I still feel like "it's just not fair" sometimes. The logical part of me says that God doesn't have to be fair, and, besides, I have migraines, not cancer or lupus. This could be a lot worse.

I also have a certain picture of homeschooling that I am just not able to live up to. I would like to spend lots of good time with my kids, discussing events and ideas, doing projects, involving them in things around the house. What has happened is that L has just gotten further behind on her writing and math (I'm not worried about her science and social studies since she learns so much from just reading). When I haven't felt well, very little got done. Yes, she reads a lot, but there is a certain amount of stuff that she should be learning at this age. P and I have had lots of discussions the last couple of weeks about how to handle the schooling. P is concerned that I left the full-time practice of medicine for the full-time job of homeschooling mom. We have discussed everything from sending L to school, to online school, to changing our homeschool routines. What we have settled with right now is that L has a certain amount of work to do each day. If she gets this done in less than four hours (or if I'm not available to help with the stuff she can't do on her own like spelling), then she spends the rest of her four hours of "school" doing more math, Spanish, typing, etc. So far, so good. Although, the threat of school was pretty big for her. She likes her one art class per day and has no interest in going to school all day!

I really don't like all the things that I've had to give up. I'm trying to paint some of the house, but I can't just paint one room in a couple of days. I get so sore and headache-y that it has taken me 4 days to do half of one wall. I am eating much better these days, but it hasn't helped the headaches or fatigue yet. I even gave up my Diet Pepsi (although I do indulge a couple of times a week if I'm really stressed!). I'm frustrated that I can't always have a clean house. Of course, I would probably drive the rest of the family nuts with my perfectionistic tendencies - maybe it's better this way. Mostly, I'm tired of my head hurting. I hope that it will at least calm down to baseline over the next week or two. The one advantage to stopping all these medications is that I'm not near as hungry!!

I'm reading the book of Matthew again - planning to go through all the Gospels. Jesus was never stressed and never got behind. I am convicted about how much Jesus prayed - and he was God!! If God the Son had to spend so much time with God the Father, I'm sure I need to spend even more time. Some days, though, I feel like all I do is tell God how bad things are. How do I reconcile these crazy emotions with what I know to be true? God loves me - so much that Jesus died for me. God is in control of everything. God works everything out for his glory. All I can do anymore is pray.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dandelions on the Trampoline

L: Mom, C put dandelions on the trampoline and won't take them off.
(I had seen the dandelions on the trampoline, but I just figured they would take them off when L came out to jump. She is allergic to them.)
Mom: L, go tell your brother that "Mom said" to take the dandelions off the trampoline.
2-3 minutes later:
C: Mom, why do we have to take the dandelions off the trampoline?
M: Because I said so. Your sister is allergic to them.
C: But, we were having fun jumping with them on there.
M: But, they can't be on the trampoline when L is out there jumping.
C: But, we were having so much fun!
M: Take the dandelions off the trampoline! Now!
C: (pouting) OK. . . . What is allergic?

I would never have thought that this is the type of conversation we would be having about the trampoline. Well, C took the dandelions off the trampoline. Five minutes later, the entire incident was forgotten.

On Sunday, both of our pastors who preach were out of town at a conference, so they had asked a member of our church to speak. This gentleman, prior to retiring, was a full professor of cell biology at the state university. He was widely published and was part aauthor of a major textbook. The current series is on Tough Questions. The speaker had the topic of Creation and Evolution. Since this is a topic of interest to me, I can't say that he said anything particularly new to me. But, I loved how he put it together. He did an introduction, then he stepped to the right of the stage and put on a hat with a C for Creationist and went into character to present the Creationist position. He then moved to the left of the stage and put on a hat with an E and did the same thing for the Evolutionist position. Then, he moved toward the center and put on a hat with an ID and discussed the intelligent design position.

He did not have enough time to discuss in depth the differences between Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) and Old Earth Creationists (OECs) or the position of the Theistic Evolutionists. But, he did comment that these differences are there. He had a list of resources for those of us with further interest in the topic.

What I really liked about his presentation was his conclusions. He rejected atheistic naturalism or naturalistic materialism because of their rejection of God. But, from there he did not make a definite conclusion from the pulpit - I know he has one. He reminded us the importance of being ready to provide an answer for our faith and to do this with gentleness (1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.).

Another conclusion was that children should not be shielded from the concepts of evolution. They are going to come across them in high school or college (or with friends and neighbors) so they need to understand the philosophical underpinnings, at a minimum. He did agree, though, that this is something that kids aren't ready to wrestle with until junior high or high school.

The last conclusion was that, as Christians we bring faith in the Lord and trust in the Bible to our discussions. What can be better than that? So, wherever on the spectrum we land about origins, we must remember that the most important thing is that we are to always be working to bring people to meet Jesus.

TV review: "The Mormons" on PBS.
I only watched the last hour of the first part of this Frontline series on PBS. It is a four hour series that traces the history and explores the beliefs and social setting of the Mormons. I really enjoyed what I watched last night. About 40 minutes of what we watched was about polygamy (or "plural marriage" as some call it). They discussed the history of it - how it was "revealed" to Joseph Smith to be the will of God and how the head of the church around 1900 had another "revelation" that it was not the will of God. Interesting. They also had interviews with families who currently practice polygamy. One of them was, externally, pretty normal. There was a husband, three wives, and eleven children. Of course, during the TV show, everyone seemed to be getting along just fine. Polygamy, though, has caused lots of family problems in many other families throughout the history of the practice. Currently, few families practice it and it is illegal. They tend to only prosecute those who do things like take young girls for wives. Apparently, the whole show will be available on the PBS website as of noon today. I'm really interested to see the rest of it. This is an interesting topic, anyway, but it is taking a more central role because of Mitt Romney's entrance into the Republican fray for the presidential nomination.