Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year’s Eve Eve

So I sat down to write a post about our Christmas since I haven’t written anything in a very long time.  But, the stress level in this house is at about 1000 on a scale of 1 to 10, so I don’t think I’m going to do much writing.  Why are we stressed?  Rosie Girl is having her tonsils out at 8am tomorrow.  From a purely medical point of view, this is not a big deal.  I had my own tonsils out when I was four years old, so I don’t actually remember it.  When I was in practice, I had tons of patients who had tonsillectomies so they were kind of run-of-the-mill for me.

But, it ain’t run-of-the-mill when it’s my own kid.  Nope.  For one thing, we have to leave the house at 5:30am.  The middle of the night.  We have to be at the surgery center at 6:30 and the procedure is at 8am.  I know that they won’t have her occupied for the full hour and a half before the procedure, so we have to make sure she has a bag packed with ipod, books, etc. tonight.

Of course, Rosie Girl is nervous.  I’d like to say that I’m not nervous but that’s not actually true.  Because I am.  Not so much about the outcome but because it’s a big deal and because Rosie Girl is going to have a few days of feeling really yucky afterwards.  And because it’s my kid who’s going to have general anesthesia.  I’d be much calmer if it was me.

And we have to make sure to pack plenty of stuff to keep Wild Man from getting too bored.  Video games, books, audiobooks, etc.  And, there is a man from church upstairs at the hospital recovering from a stroke, so Wild Man and Mr. Math Tutor will probably take a few minutes and visit him.

Of course, I had a migraine last night and today.  So I’ll be packing every migraine medication in the cabinet for tomorrow.  It looks like the weather system is supposed to be past us by tomorrow so the headache shouldn’t be too big an issue.

So, I’ll write a post about Christmas sometime in the next few days.  In the meantime, I’m going to go pack up snacks (for those of us who are allowed to eat tomorrow!) and boredom busters for tomorrow.

Pray for us.  All of us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mission Love Our Neighbors – Steps 1 and 2

Our neighbors are difficult to love.  Not the family with kids – they are great people, our kids play together, and we watch each other’s houses when we’re out of town.  Not the couple across the street – they are very sweet and have a cute little great-grandson that they watch during the week.  And not the couple a few houses over – they gave us a van a year ago (yeah – GAVE us a van for free) so we really like them.  No, it’s the neighbors on the other side of our house that we’re having issues with. 

The house is a rental and has been occupied for the last month or so by young people who look like they’re just out of high school.  They play loud music.  They ride a snowmobile in the front yard late at night.  They wait a very long time to shovel their part of the sidewalk (and then don’t keep it well-shoveled).  The police have been there to visit several times.  The owner of the house lives several hours away, so she came by a few weeks ago because a neighbor had called anonymously to complain.  The occupants haven’t done anything illegal or that looks like it would violate the lease, but they are just hard to live near.

So, I complain.  That is the Godly thing to do, right?  No, you’re right, of course.  Complaining is rarely useful or Christlike.  Normally, we take over a loaf of bread or cookies within a week or two of someone moving in nearby, but I never got around to it this time.  And, now, I’m not really all that interested in trying to get to know these kids.

And then the Holy Spirit smacks me across the face (metaphorically, of course).  In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”  I don’t even know these kids enough for them to be my “enemies”.  If I should love my enemies, then I certainly need to be able to love the kids next door.

Step 1 – Pray.  I’ve started that.  I need to do it lots more.  And quit complaining (‘cause that’s a really rotten example for my children – EEK!)

Step 2 – Christmas cookies.  Who doesn’t love Christmas cookies?!  I baked a bunch of cookies the other day, so I’ll take a bag over to the house this afternoon.

Step 3 – I have no idea.  Mostly it will involve doing good and not complaining.  And more praying.  Can’t forget praying.

How do you love people who are hard to love?  What other ideas can you give me?  Any great stories of how God has changed you or the person you loved?  (Yeah, I could use a little motivation!!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review – What Women Don’t Know (and a Bonus!)

First, I have to make a short apology.  The actual Value Gifts Blog Tour was last week, so I’m late posting my reviews.  I was sick with one of my worst migraines last week, though, so I wasn’t up to reading or writing.  But, I’m up and about now, and ready to write!!

For the Value Gifts Blog Tour, I received two books to read and review: What Women Don’t Know (and men don’t tell you) and 99 Ways to Increase Your Income.

what women don't know What Women Don’t Know by Michelle McKinney Hammond and Joel A Brooks Jr. is written to help single women looking for lasting love.  They set the book up into chapters describing 14 “rules” such as “Be patient”, “Know what you want”, and “Know your value”.  Each chapter is built on an important principle and is liberally supported with Scripture.

The one problem I had with reviewing this book is that I’ve been out of the dating arena for close to 20 years!  (Can it really be that long?)  Nonetheless, I found the author’s advice to be practical and on-target.  They encourage women to develop their lives as individuals while waiting for their lifelong love.  The writing was clear and the authors used scripture to support their positions.  The only real negative I found was that this book is pretty much the same as the books I read when I was single.  I think that this book is the Christian dating handbook for the current generation and I can definitely recommend it.

99 ways 99 Ways to Increase Your Income by Frank Martin was a pleasant little surprise for me.  From the title, I expected a book about actually bringing more money into the household, but the author is really talking about anything that brings money in or keeps money from going out.  He starts with some brief words on managing money then moves on to tips on saving money, ways to improve your job situation, and ends with some information on saving and investing.  This short book is obviously not a comprehensive book on money management, but it has some helpful information and goes along nicely with the principles taught by Dave Ramsey.  It would make a nice stocking stuffer, particularly for a young adult who is just starting to develop their financial habits.

Both books are available online:  99 Ways to Increase Your Income and What Women Don’t Know.  I received a free copy of each book for this blog review.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fear Not!!

My kids (OK, and the grown-ups, too) love to listen to Jungle Jam. One of our favorite bits is from the Christmas episode.

Angel: (In very deep voice) Fear not!!

Shepherds: Aaaaaaaaaaargh!!

Angel: Fear not!!!

Shepherds: Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!

Angel: What part of “Fear not” do you not understand?!

I can understand why the shepherds might have been a bit nervous. I mean, they’re out in the fields minding their own business when other-worldly beings appear in the sky and start speaking to them. Yeah, pretty fear-inducing in my world!

So, what did the angels mean by “Fear not!” On a surface level, it’s pretty clear that they were trying to say, “Hey, we’re the good guys so you don’t need to run off and leave the sheep and lose your jobs!” We’ve already established that other-worldly beings appearing in the sky is not a normal event and one might think that it’s not necessarily a good thing. The first thing the angels need to get across to the shepherds is that the angels are on the good side and have good news for them.

But then, they give them the news that a baby has been born. OK, tell me how this is fear-inducing!! It’s not like they said that the neighboring village had just been firebombed or something. They said a baby was born in a barn. I picture these shepherds saying to each other, “Ya know, the peace on earth thing is great, but I’m not really seeing how the baby thing fits in.” But, when an angel tells you to go worship, I’m guessing that you go worship. (I’m not speaking from experience here.)

I think, though, that the angels were saying something deeper when they said, “Fear not!” I have no idea if the shepherds ever really got the whole picture or not. But, God was saying, “Don’t be afraid that everything is about to change. Don’t be afraid that all you’ve known about religion is about to come to fruition in the next 33 years.” If the shepherds could have seen what was going to happen over the next 33+ years, I’m betting there would have been some serious fear going on!! The change is good, though.

Because of what happened on that night in Bethlehem (which was likely in the spring, by the way), we don’t have to be afraid! God’s plan was played out exactly the way it was supposed to. Jesus went from baby to child to adult to crucified to resurrected. Now, we need never fear. Remember that perfect love casts out all fear. All because of that first Bethlehem morning when the angels told the shepherds to “Fear Not!”

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Week From H*ll

So, this week has truly been one of the worst weeks that I can remember. And I really hate that it is during the Christmas season. I love Christmas! So, when a week like this happens during the Christmas season, it’s even worse.

What happened to make it so awful? Mostly, the migraine. I did have a little intestinal virus on Monday that made me feel kind of icky, but things weren’t too terrible. Tuesday was when everything went downhill so badly. The blizzard that came through gave me one of the worst migraines that I’ve ever had. Normally, Mr. Math Tutor would have just taken me to the Emergency Department for an IV and some heavy duty meds, but we were in the middle of a blizzard and it wasn’t safe to drive. So, I took my meds by mouth until I was throwing up too much. Then, I took the one med that I have in suppository form. Mostly, I lay on the sofa with an ice pack on my head until I needed to run to the bathroom to throw up. I thought my head was going to explode and my insides were going to turn inside out. It was an awful night. (But, I do have to say that it was pretty cool to watch the snow come down and swirl around – we got over a foot of snow and the winds were pretty wicked!)

I finally fell asleep around 8am Wednesday morning. The time that I was awake on Wednesday I still felt rotten just because I was so sore from vomiting. I had another migraine Thursday morning, but it only lasted about an hour, partly because I threw every medication in the cabinet at it!! I had pretty vivid memories from Tuesday night.

Today was better since I didn’t have a migraine, but I have had a dull headache all day. And, of course, I’m still sore all over. I was finally able to get on the treadmill for about ten minutes this evening. I’ve gotten some reading and knitting done in the last couple of days, but absolutely no housework.

Mr. Math Tutor has gone above and beyond the call of duty in taking care of me during the migraine and taking care of the house. He’s usually very good about keeping the house going when I have migraines anyway, but he didn’t get much sleep Tuesday night, either. And, he had to deal with the foot of snow in our driveway on Wednesday – when he had had very little sleep. He deserves a medal!

So, why blog about this? For one thing, it’s therapeutic for me to see this in written form. It also reminds me that it’s temporal. Even though I couldn’t go to the Emergency Department Tuesday night like I wanted to, I kept telling myself that the migraine wouldn’t last forever. I held on to the fact that the headache would only last a few hours. The migraines are miserable and they seriously disrupt my life, but I just need to hang on because the individual migraine will end eventually.

I also write so that other migraineurs can see that they aren’t alone with this awful illness. Not only are there lots of other people out there with migraines, but, more importantly, God is with us even in the worst of our pain. The Bible tells us to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). God may not choose to take away my pain. His plan may include my being in pain. But, it doesn’t include leaving me or deserting me. “Surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

7 Quick Takes Friday – The Christmas Traditions Edition



For today’s 7 Quick Takes Friday, I decided I’d share some of our family’s Christmas traditions.

1. We have two cloth Advent calendars – one with a Nativity scene and the other a Christmas tree with candy.  Each day, the kids take a stuffed item (with Velcro on the back) from the numbered pockets and put it onto the scene.

2. Last year, the kids and I made two gingerbread houses and we have decided to make it a tradition because we had so much fun!!  This year, we are planning to do three houses – one for each of us!

3. Santa Claus gives each child one gift as well as filling everyone’s stockings with candy.  The kids won’t take pictures with the big red guy anymore, though!

4. We wrap our presents well before Christmas, but we don’t put them under the tree until Christmas Eve.

5. We eat lots (dare I say too many?) of mint M&Ms this time of year!!  It’s the only time of year that they are sold and I love them!!

6. We open one gift on Christmas Eve right after we read the Christmas story from Matthew or Luke.

7. The kids make a paper chain to put across the stairs Christmas Eve.  No one can go down the stairs until we all go together!

So, what fun Christmas traditions does your family have?  Check out other 7 Quick Takes Friday posts!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – December 4, 2009



1. It’s time for the Christmas wars, and the “Christians” are taking the offensive this year.  At Stand for Christmas, you can see if your favorite retailers are using religiously correct language and appropriate symbols for this time of year as they entice you to engage in more gross consumerism.  After all, this is the time of year when we show God’s love by racking up large amounts of debt while giving each other gifts of stuff we don’t need.  And the job of the retailer is to make us feel as holy as possible while we do this.  Because that’s what Christmas is all about, right?  (Jason Boyett has a nice little rant against Stand for Christmas that I like.)

2. Here’s a great post you should read about fear.  As perfect love casts out fear, so imperfect love casts in fear.  So much of the culture war is just fear.  We are afraid that God will be taken out of the public square, that liberals will run the country, and that the cashier won’t say Merry Christmas.  But, God’s perfect love will take away our fear – even the fear of the cultural changes.

3. Apparently, it snowed in Houston today.  I know this because I have several Facebook friends who live in the Houston area (not surprising since I went to college at LSU).  It also snowed some here today.  The people in Houston were ecstatic and thrilled.  The people here were mildly interested and talking about getting the snowblowers/snowmobiles/skis ready for the season.  It’s like two different worlds!

4. Mr. Math Tutor and Wild Man were reading in Luke about the resurrection of Jesus. Mr. Math Tutor had Wild Man tell me that the fact that the burial linen was in the tomb and folded was part of the evidence that Jesus' body wasn't stolen. I told them it was evidence that God wants us to fold our clothes.  They weren’t really amused.

5. So, while I’m trying to simplify Christmas and doing the whole Advent Conspiracy thing, my daughter is getting crazy busy because she’s in the school choir and the church choir.  I was incredibly proud that she made it into the Madrigal’s singing group, but that means that she has three or four Madrigals performances in addition to her Treble Choir performance and church choir performance (where she’ll also be playing accompaniment for one piece).  I’ve tried to make sure she doesn’t have any other external commitments, though, because I want our family to be able to enjoy our time together.

6. I’ve noticed something rather disturbing since my parents left last week.  My kitchen appears to no longer be self-cleaning and our food supply appears to be dwindling.  While my parents were here, the food and kitchen stuff kind of took care of itself as if by magic.  I’m going to have to cook and clean again, I’m afraid.

7. I had my thyroid scan done this week, and all is normal!!  And, I am now back on thyroid hormone and must be having a great placebo effect because I feel great even though I know that there can only be a small amount of hormone in my system yet.  Nonetheless, I’m a happy woman.  I’m also trying desiccated thyroid instead of levothyroxine to see if that helps my migraines any.  It’s a long-shot, but we’ll see what happens!

Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Friday entries!!