Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30 – “An Evacuation”


Hurricane Alex was the big topic everywhere today.  It was heading for Mexico, but we were getting band after band of the outer rim storms.  Tides were getting kind of high, so it actually looked like a storm was in the Gulf.  Just the kind of thing that used to excite me as a child growing up in Galveston.  But not so much since Ike.  Mom wasn't so happy about it, either.  She stayed glued to the TV pretty much all day.  At least that's what I was told.


After texting Chris again first thing this morning, I decided that I needed to make a trip to Bay City and see her.  She was OK, but the stress was beginning to overwhelm her some.  And it looked like today would be the day that her brothers would be able to come as well.  So I left around 8:30 so I could stop at the church and do some work there before I left. And since I was going to be in the Far West End anyway, I decided to take the beach road through Freeport to get to Bay City.  Figured it would be fun to see the high water, as long as it wasn't on the road.  Kel gave me one last warning as I drove away, "Don't drive through water on the road.  Turn around."  Seems that the people working on his house called and said they wouldn't be there today because they were afraid they wouldn't be able to get back to where they are staying.  Okay.  Ike scared us all.  But that was a bit much.


The trip was kind of fun.  The tide was up and the waves were angry, but it wasn't crashing over the seawall.  Guess every storm will get measured by Ike now.  I passed several places where the canals were full and creeping into yards.  That used to be cause for some alarm.  At a marina in Freeport the walkways to the yachts were all under water.  My all time favorite, though was just the other side of the San Luis Pass Bridge.  There was an evacuation taking place right there by the side of the road.  The water was definitely high.  It was already under several houses on the beach side of the road.  But as I turned a corner at an especially low point, there were four people evacuating.  From a fireworks stand set up on the side of the road.  They had a U-Haul trailer and a truck that they were loading up with inventory before it could get too wet.  Flooded out fireworks.  I wonder how FEMA would handle that claim?


I saw a sign at a little gas station/convenience store outside of Freeport.  It gave me a fascinating issue to ponder for several miles.  In case you are interested, this store is the only one I have ever seen make this offer.  How could I have ever passed it up?  Must have been the weather.  Or maybe my sense of urgency since I haven't seen Chris for several days.  But that little store actually had, and I quote … "Ice from scratch."  Please help me out here.  What does "ice from scratch" have that "regular ice" doesn't?  I thought it was just really cold water, but what do I know?


Kel called after I got there.  He wanted to know how horribly difficult my trip was.  The workers notified him that they had evacuated their Galveston host site and gone clear up to Dickinson to get away from the fast-rising water.  Hope they made it out.


Chris' Mom was really tired, even before the guests arrived.  She dozed off and on until everyone left and she could head on to bed.  Again, Chris said she didn't see how it could be much longer.  When I was leaving she walked me to the car and said it was the first time she had even been outside since she got back there after Micah's party.  I guess I'm a little concerned about her.  When I go back I'll make her go back outside.  She needs the fresh air.


Joshua 23:11 says, "So be very careful to love the Lord your God."


Father, I want to love you more like I love Chris.  And I want to love Chris more like I love you.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29 – “Micah’s World”


I have about a 30 minute window before everyone gets back.  It is so quiet.  Christina's sisters left awhile ago.  Jachin and Micah are at a friend's house.  Christina is shopping.  April came to get Cailyn, but her internet air card wouldn't work, so she used ours to finish her final and send it in.  Apparently there is a global outage for T Mobile users.  Sorry about that crisis, T Mobile people.  Nathan came by while they were still here.  They just left.  Mom is still here, but I think she is basking in the quiet as well. 


Chris' Mom is sleeping a lot.  Chris' sister arrived from Virginia, and they are trying to set up a day when her brothers can come as well.  That's the day they want me to come, too.  A hospice social worker came by today to ask what their plans were if a hurricane evacuation proved necessary.  Hospice teams in whatever city they go to will pick up the care for as long as they are there.  Chris' Mom said she wasn't going anywhere.


It has been more and more of a riot around here with our extra boarders.  The workers are coming along with their house repairs.  They textured today and plan to paint tomorrow.  Then Thursday Kel and Christina and the boys leave for a wedding in San Antonio.  So they won't get to really enjoy it until they return. 


Today Jachin was at baseball camp when it started raining.  The camp started yesterday.  The coach gave them a few rules for the week.  Rule number three was the most interesting.  "No kissing."  For some reason Jachin thought that one might have been a joke.  I told him that was no joke.  He better not be kissing anybody at baseball camp.


This morning I entered into Micah's world for a few moments.  We were in the kitchen  playing catch with the Frisbee he got for his birthday.  We were careful, though.  Any time the Frisbee hit a cabinet one of us would point accusingly at the perpetrator and say, "You are in trouble now."  That would inevitably result in peals of laughter from Micah.  Funny stuff.  My favorite of the day, though, was when he taught me some of the new language he was speaking.  Sounded like totally random nonsense syllables to me, so I asked him to translate some words.  The first was "jochtcha."  He used that one several times, so I stopped the game and asked him just what "jochtcha" meant.  Without batting an eye or hesitating even a second, he answered, "Two o'clock."  Well, of course.  How could I not know that?  I cautiously pressed a bit more after that.  I had to know what "lowenks" meant as well.  "Oh, that," he replied.  "That's when you crash jochtcha."  How foolish of me not to pick that one up, either.  He seemed to be on a translation roll, so I tried one more time.  How about "hokalees"?  Now, I'm not sure of the spelling, you understand.  And this phonetic attempt probably misses some of the subtle nuances of the language.  But again, just as quickly, he shot back with his answer, and I knew immediately we were at the end of our lesson for the day.  See, in Micah's world, "hokalees," loosely translated, means, well, let's just leave that one in Micah's world.  Enough said.


Numbers 6:24-26 says, "The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."


Father, please take a peek and grant that same peace to Chris and her family.  Amen.

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28 – “Windfall”


I sure miss having Chris around.  Don't get me wrong.  It's been a blast – albeit a chaotic one – with Kel and Christina and the boys staying here.  But I miss the little things we share.  Like when the mail got here today.  We got a letter from the IRS.  Always an interesting find.  But this one was an unexpected windfall.  For some reason we overpaid our estimated taxes last year, and that meant we were due a refund.  It said the check would arrive within six weeks.  But I opened the rest of the mail and it was here already.  Also unexpected.  I had to text Chris right away.  The sequence went something like this:

"Good news.  We got a tax refund."

"Why did we get a refund?"  (Ever the vigilant one)

"We overpaid.  So how do you want to spend it?" 

"Isn't it time to pay taxes again?"  (Always thinking ahead, this one)

"Not until September.  So what do you want to do with it?"

"We'll have to think about it.  We may need it to live on even if it's just a penny!"

(I think she's beginning to expect something's up.  Better come clean)

"How about two dollars?  Come on, I have the check in hand.  Let's splurge."

"A cherry limeade from Sonic!" 

Now that's my girl.  I love that woman.


I remembered something that happened the other day when I was mowing the back yard.  I haven't told anyone yet.  It's kind of embarrassing.  The tale begins with me wearing a baseball cap.  I think that may be relevant.  As I rounded a corner with the mower humming along, Kel and Christina's dog Lucy came out.  She began barking at the evil intruder machine immediately.  And then she saw me.  Obviously she didn't recognize me (hence, the hat comment).  She quickly shifted the focus of her defensive tirade from the inanimate object to the clearly out of place human.  She turned on me like a guard dog in a junkyard.  I was stunned for a moment or two, and then everything happened like it was slow motion.  Lucy began to approach, slowly at first, and then faster and faster.    My mouth opened to scream, but no sound came out.  She skidded to a stop just inches from my right knee, barking furiously.  And then, to my utter horror and consternation, she head butted me.  That's right.  She lowered her head and charged right into my leg and head butted me.  And then she was quiet.  Her mission was accomplished.  The interloper was vanquished.  The yard was once again safe for canines and familiar humans.  And Lucy was the heroine of the hour.


Psalms 63:5 says, "My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you."


Father, thank you for blessing me with a cherry limeade slush kind of wife.  Amen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27 – “Another flood”


Chris' Mom seems to be getting weaker as the days go by.  She now allows them to push her around the house in a wheel chair.  Chris' sister is due to arrive tomorrow or the next day.  Other family members are calling regularly to check on her.  I don't think Chris will be coming home anytime soon.  She's probably there for the duration.  I'll have to figure out a time to go down there for a visit.


Today we got to do another baptism.  That's always a fun time.  We leave the church and walk down to the beach.  Today we had a pretty big crowd accompany us, along with a good crowd already out in the sun.  Beautiful hot day.  Very warm water.  Lots of seaweed.  The girl just graduated from high school and is headed for college.  She is an incredible example of someone doing her best to live for Christ even in the little things.  She is fun to be around, too.  Except when she has a nearly full glass of iced tea in front of her.


I went out to eat at the notorious Healthy Chinese Buffet with her and her family and another girl who considers herself family and a guy who really wishes he could be family.  Again, I don't mind going there on a Sunday because they serve fried shrimp.  All you can eat.  And a boatload of ketchup.  So I was fine.  Well-fed.  Relaxing in our chairs after lunch and talking.  And then it happened.


Kelly's hand (That's right.  Her name is Kelly.  Spelled wrong.  She is the one who was baptized.) shot out from nowhere in the direction of her nearly full glass of tea.  Instead of the gentle grasp one might expect from a bright young teenager out for lunch after church with her mother, boyfriend, and the pastor … instead of a simple fingers separating from thumb and slowly closing around glass with sufficient force to generate enough support to lift the glass from the table … instead of virtually any scenario that you might expect, her hand smashed violently into the glass, causing it to wobble, to lean precariously, then to crash to the table, sending torrents of liquid libation flowing across the table directly toward the poor, unsuspecting, very holy, totally innocent pastor seated across from her. 


Instincts leapt into motion, however, as he almost involuntarily jerked backwards in his chair.  Instead of pushing back away from the table as one might expect under ordinary conditions, though, the chair refused to budge, standing its ground on the restaurant carpet with as much grit and determination as the strongest regiment of defenders in a battle to protect their hometown.  And since the legs wouldn't move, the rest of the chair had to find somewhere else to go.  First two legs rose from the ground, then a third, as the pastor's arms flailed about him in a scene reminiscent of the bullet-dodging Neo in The Matrix. 


He managed with great effort to avoid the bulk of the spill, but, alas, the residue was much too strong to contain.  It continued its relentless drive across the table and over the side, aiming for the preacher's leg and exposed left side.  After an agonizingly long moment or two of teetering on the one remaining chair leg with arms waving and legs kicking, he finally gave in and rolled away from the torrent toward the floor. 


Amazingly, his incredible physical dexterity allowed him to avoid landing on the floor in a heap.  Instead he quickly righted himself and casually complemented the Johnny-on-the-spot waiter for his quick response.  Actually, he just happened to be walking by when the catastrophe began, and quick-as-a-flash threw his towel in the direction of the flood, creating a fabric dam and somewhat containing the small portion of fluid still arching toward the table's edge. 


Several towels, a few tiny napkins, and numerous rounds of uproarious laughter later, we returned to our quiet, theological discussion of baptism.  I did tell Kelly that if she was mad at me for getting her wet earlier, there were other ways to deal with it. 


Luke 3:16 says, "John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."


Father, that's the kind of baptism I want to see for Seaside … Holy Spirit fire.  Amen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26 – “The Growl”

I woke up early today. About 5:30. I wanted to get on the road to Bay City so I could get Chris back home for Micah's birthday party. I got there around 7:40 , so I stopped at the store and got them some fruit for breakfast. Her Mom mentioned in the hospital that she could eat fruit when other things didn't sound good. I drove up to about a block away from their house and texted Chris "Good Morning." She didn't answer, so I called. She didn't answer that either, but she called back pretty quickly. I said, "Good Morning. I love you. Are you ready to come home?" She said, "Yes!" So I said, "Well, then open the door and come on," as I drove into the driveway. It was kind of fun. We waited for the hospice nurse to come and drain the lung tube before we left. Another 200 cc's. Same as yesterday. She was still unsteady on her feet, and Chris walked with her everywhere she went, which was basically from the table to the couch to the bathroom or to the bed. She is on oxygen made there in the house by a machine that she can wheel around to wherever she "lights." Chris didn't seem quite as tired as she has been, but then she just woke up. That, and she was excited about seeing the grandkids this afternoon. She told me on the way home that she really felt like she needed to go back after the party. After being there myself, I told her she needed to stay as long as she felt she had to. That's where she needs to be right now. Her sister is supposed to be coming in from Virginia Sunday or Monday. I think she'll want to stick around anyway, though. Just to be there.

The party for almost four-year-old Micah went well. It was at our house since theirs is still in disarray. I sounded like there must have been fifteen or thirty little kids all talking at once, accompanied by their Moms, also in conversation. The few Dad's there alternated between the USA World Cup Soccer match and the Astros game – with the sound turned all the way down, of course. Christina had given Kel orders that he was not to watch the game. Instead he was to lead the little kids' games. He did a pretty good job. The only time he let on that he was sneaking peaks was when the US scored their first goal. Kel threw his arms up in the air and started flying like an airplane. A quiet airplane. In spite of his attempts at silence, there was a steady drone of noise for at least two hours. I turned down my hearing aids to restaurant mode. Helped some. The most recognizable noise of the day, however, came from one of the toys he got. It was a dinosaur – tyrannosaurus rex, I think. When you pushed the button it let out a noise. Not exactly a growl. No, not at all a growl. It sounded like one of the babies was crying in the back bedroom. Strange. I think the kids all had fun.

Began tracking Tropical Storm Alex on our hurricane chart on the wall in the kitchen. It's been two years. Not long enough.

Lamentations 3:25-26 says, "The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

Father, give Chris and her Dad patience as her Mom waits quietly for you. Amen.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25 – “Vendor”


I am supposed to do a wedding this weekend.  The rehearsal is supposed to be tonight.  I have yet to hear back from the bride or groom to tell me a time for the rehearsal.  I called the hotel where it is to be held, and they told me the wedding is still on.  They were also supposed to call the bride and have her call me.  That hasn't happened yet either.  I guess I'll call the hotel one more time and see what they know.  Ah, the trials and tribulations of a vendor at a destination wedding venue.  (Doesn't that make me sound important?  Nah.  I didn't think so either.)


I was also going to go fishing this morning.  I even checked out my equipment.  I looked at the web cam on, and the surf is not too rough.  I just can't seem to get motivated to actually go.  That would mean standing up for several hours.  And using my hands and wrists a lot.  Maybe I could just go over to my uncle's bay house and toss a few casts in his canal.  Of course if I do that I would need to invite my two grandsons, since they are staying here for a few more days.  That would mean stopping at WalMart and picking up a few cheap Zebco reels that they would be able to cast.  And some bait.  Or maybe I could just read a book.  And take a nap. 


Update.  Just heard from the wedding coordinator.  The couple decided to use a justice of the peace.  Didn't want anyone to invite God to the wedding, I guess. 


Chris began her texting reports on her Mom.  Hospice came out today and drew out 300 more cc's of fluid from her lung.  She is very unsteady on her feet and has some stomach issues, so she's not eating very much.  She got on the scale for the first time in a long time and has lost some more weight.  Sounds like her Dad is very tired.  Adjusting to this whole scenario is trying on all concerned, Chris included.  The plan is for me to pick her up in the morning so she can be here for Micah's birthday party (it's at our house).  Her Mom told the nurse that Chris was leaving tomorrow, but would be back right after the party.  That wouldn't be much of a break for Chris, but I know she wants to be there, too.  We'll see.


Just got down to another chore on my list.  Chris noticed the other day that some of the nails in our deck are beginning to pull up.  My job was to hammer them back in.  Easy task.  I thought I'd make it into an adventure by inviting Jachin and Micah to help.  I got them each a hammer and asked if they wanted to help me smash nails.  Micah looked at me like I was just a bit crazier than usual and returned to his Lego creation.  Jachin glanced in my direction and said, "How about  we play some baseball instead?"  I told him I was doing my chores.  So he grunted approvingly and returned to his Legos.  I got the job done and saw right away that those are two smart kids.  It was hot outside.


And then the craziness began.  Nathan and April came over.  They were on their way to the Aquarium at Moody Gardens, but there were so many tourists that they couldn't find a parking space.  And then they realized Cailyn was asleep.  Of course she woke up not long after they got here.  And she wanted to hang out with DadDad, so they stuck around, too.  They used the opportunity to call their electricity provider and complain mightily about their outrageous bill.  Their charge was almost exactly twice what ours was for our house.  And they are in a two bedroom apartment.  April can be plenty feisty when she needs to be.  She managed to get some concessions out of them, and they did lower their rate.  But they still have to figure out why it was so high in the first place. 


Heb 12:28-29 says, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"


Father, if you are a consuming fire, I should be totally absorbed in you.  Help me be better kindling.  Amen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24 – “Vaughan Hotel”


The Vaughan Hotel opened for business again last night.  Kel and Christina and their boys came over to spend the night while their house is in disarray from a construction project.  I think they are going to be here through at least part of the weekend.  And Chris will be gone at least until Saturday morning.  That means grandkid overload.  WooHoo. 


Speaking of Chris, her Mom actually left the hospital for home this afternoon.  The hospice care nurse is supposed to meet them when they arrive in Bay City to deliver the oxygen making machine and help them get set up inside.  It's going to take awhile, because Chris' Dad always turns off the electricity to everything in the house except the refrigerator and freezer.  It's gonna be hot in Bay City tonight.  The surgery went off well, and the pump mechanism they installed worked fine this morning.  It drew out another 300 cc's or so of fluid.  We thought Chris and her Dad were going to have to learn how to operate the machinery, but now it sounds like hospice will send someone over every day to take care of it.  Several relatives are also lining up to take turns staying at the house to help out. 


I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to go ahead with home group tonight.  We might just sing some songs and pray together, or we might actually get into the next section of our Bible Study.  I'll decide when I have time to figure out how I feel and who comes.  Right now I need a shower and a nap and probably some food, but it's already 5:00.  I don't think the nap is going to happen.


I started reading the new book about Hurricane Ike by the reporters from the Galveston newspaper.  So far it has been pretty good.  It is following the plight of several Galveston personalities through the storm and in the days following.  One of the families hunkered down in their attic here in our neighborhood, so it has been really easy to picture exactly what they were talking about.  I read some of the parts about firefighters to Chris on the way to Houston this morning.  It helped us to picture what Nathan was going through.  Maybe a little too well.  I do recommend the book, though.  But it's not as good as reading through my blog from back then.  <Shameless plug>


1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."


Father, thank you for showing us what faithful means.  You will do it.  Enough said.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23 – “Random thought day”


I can think of multitudes of topics to write about while I am working in the yard or doing anything that is nowhere near a computer or paper or pencil.  Why is that?


We had our birthday dinner for Christina at Gringo's last night.  Cailyn kind of melted down, but Nathan took her for a quick car ride and she crashed.  They came back in plenty of time for the waiters to sing to Christina.  And Cailyn slept through the whole thing.  Restaurants are really loud unless I turn my hearing aid down. 


Christina and the boys came over this morning.  They are hanging sheetrock in their house, and the dust really bothers Christina's allergies.  They may even spend the night tonight.  Sleepover.  WooHoo.


Chris' folks decided after we left last night that they had some more questions for the palliative care nurse or social worker or whoever that lady was.  Sounded for awhile like they may be balking about hospice.  But the folks from hospice came and apparently answered all their questions.  They signed up this afternoon.  That was a real load off of our minds and hearts.


I needed a haircut.  Since I got my new hearing aids, any time my hair gets long enough to hit my ears, it also hits the microphone and I hear a lot of uncalled for static.  Best time to go: right after lunch.  I never have to wait more than a few minutes.  And I got a discount for being old (over 55).


I returned a phone call that Mom took yesterday.  Seems some guy said he was getting mail for us and wanted to know if we wanted it.  After talking to him for a bit I figured out that the mail was addressed to Kel.  This guy lived in the same house number one block over from Kel.  They are going to take care of it.


Mike, our youth pastor announced Sunday that we still needed around $500 for our camp expenses, and a few of the kids still needed some help paying for their costs.  Got a letter in the mail yesterday with a check to youth camp for $600.


Psalms 59:16 says, "But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble."


Father, you are amazing.  Thank you for being there amid the randomness.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22 – “In the car”


OK.  Today is another first.  I'm trying to type this while in the car on the way home from the hospital.  Never been done before by me.  The screen is really dusty.  Does that happen all the time?  Bouncing around.  Starting and stopping.  Houston traffic.  4:00.  But I still have 80% left on my battery.  Here goes.


Chris and I both came up today, because we fully expected the surgery on her Mom to install drain tubes in her lungs.  She has passed all the other hurdles like infection control.  We both came so Chris could drive them home in their car to Bay City.  But the doctor has not been in yet.  They said he would be in surgery all day today and possibly into tonight.  So the surgery won't be until tomorrow.  We hope.  She had a visit today from a nurse who explained the benefits of hospice care at home.  It was very well received by Chris' Mom and Dad.  The actual hospice people will come by tomorrow as well.  She is determined that once she gets home she will not return to the hospital.  They all agreed that in that case, hospice would be the way to go.  I guess that means another Houston trip tomorrow. 


It's also Christina's birthday today.  We are trying to set up a birthday dinner tonight at Gringos.  Waiting on a phone call from Kel. 


For it to be 4:19 on a weekday afternoon, there is very little traffic.  But we are just at Beltway 8 now.  I don't know if I like this whole having the computer up and running while we are driving.  I'm just an old-timer, I guess.  I'd much rather be working a crossword puzzle.  In fact, I think I will.


Psalms 13:5-6 says, "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  6 I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me."


Father, may this be Chris' Mom's prayer.  Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21 – “Distraction”


I had to mow the grass today.  It was getting out of hand.  I thought if you neglected something it would do what you didn't want it to do.  I wanted it to grow, so I figured it wouldn't.  Not so with grass.  It kept growing and growing and growing.  One of the times I came back inside, there were all four of my Galveston grandkids.  Cailyn's Mom had class and her Dad was at work.  Christina brought the boys over because they were having some work done on their house.  She found out last night that the group would be there today.  So she packed up the boys and the dog and went for an outing.  I noticed something when I would come inside to get rehydrated.  The boys and Cailyn played very well together.  Until I showed up.  Then they started an arguing match over who was going to play what with DadDad.  I was more of a distraction than an effective playmate.  I managed to spend some playing, though.  How could I not?


It sure is different to have the trees chopped down next door.  And they even came by sometime yesterday and picked them up from the front yard.  Boy, does that house ever look different now.  Another of the trees in the back yard fell last night.  We didn't hear it, but it was down nevertheless.  There was a cluster of small diameter trees back there.  The city cut down the worst of the four, but the other three were dead, too.  They couldn't be cut because they were "too small."  So one down when we woke up this morning.  I hopped the fence and tugged gently on another one.  And it toppled easily to the ground, smacking the side of that house on its way.  I was feeling rather Samson-ish, so I went to the last one and with all the force I could muster, I pushed.  And  I tugged.  And bounced.  It wasn't that the tree was miraculously alive again.  It was the roots.  The system was so big that it wouldn't let go of that last tree.  The whole root ball wanted to make landfall, or nothing would go down.  This was a job for chain saw man.  But he was at work, and I was really hot and tired  by then.  So the last tree remains standing.  Right next to an overly aggressive weed that has grown so tall it actually looks like a living tree.  Maybe we can nurture it a bit and name it Phoenix as it rises out of the ashes.  Or not.


The doctor came in to see Chris' Mom late this morning and said they were still waiting for the culture to see if the infection was completely gone.  If it was, then they would schedule the tube insertion, get it done, and send her home.   Of course that would all depend on the surgeon's schedule.  She also said that the next time Chris comes up, she should bring some food that her Mom would eat.  She is refusing to eat the hospital food they bring her.  She took them a bag of snacks yesterday, but sounds like they are already almost gone.  Chris plans to go up in the morning to get her Dad to a doctor's appointment.  Luckily, the office can be reached by crossing one of the sky bridges.  It's kind of a long walk, but he should be fine.


Psalms 121:8 says, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."


Father, thank you for reminding me that you are watching.  Sometimes that is disconcerting.  Always it is good.  Amen.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20 – “Not that the view mattered”


Ah, them Astros.  I had a really good time at the game last night.  Great day-before-Father's Day treat.  And that was in spite of them taking out the pitcher in the sixth inning while he was pitching a one-hitter.  Of course the one hit was a two-run home run.  And the Astros only hit up to that point was an infield single that could just as easily have been called an error.  They were also playing the Rangers, one of the best teams in baseball right now.  May be they'll get 'em tomorrow.  Besides, the best part of the whole experience was wrestling with my grandsons in an incredibly confined space.  Our seats were in the highest level of the park, but we were right behind home plate.  Perfect view.  Not that the view mattered that much to Jachin and Micah.  We had tickling matches and hugging fits and giggling explosions that certainly rivaled the crying and whining of the other kids around us, and absolutely bested the cheers of the Astros faithful.  Our only problem was keeping little feet out of the hair (literally) of the people in front of us.


Chris called her Mom while I was at the game.  She said it sounded like her lungs were already filling up with fluid again.  Most definitely not a good sign.  They have already done it twice in one week, and they aren't even attempting the right lung any more.  So this afternoon right after church we headed up to Houston to check on her.  Chris went packed and ready to stay if necessary.  When we arrived, her Mom was sitting up in a chair.  She was still on oxygen, but she greeted us and said the doctor told her she needed to get up and start doing some walking.  OK, I'm not a medical genius.  But this roller coaster is driving me nuttier than I already am.  So it must be tearing Chris up.  They started her Mom on lasix after she started wheezing this time.  That's a drug designed to remove fluid through "normal channels."  It was effective enough to make it easier to breathe, hopefully until they have a chance to get rid of the infection and set up the surgery to insert the chest tubes.  They have to be careful, though, because too much or too long on the lasix will cause her to dehydrate, which brings up all sorts of other problems.  Chris described it as a symphony.  Every individual part has to work together or the whole thing sounds like a bunch of noise.


Psalms 59:9 says, "O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress"


Father, we need you to be our fortress over the next few days.  Or weeks.  Or however long Chris' Mom is with us.  Amen.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19 – “So that’s what the smell is?”

Quiet day planned at the Vaughan household today.  Chris slept until sometime past 8:00.  She was exhausted.  She finally did her walk-through of the yard.  The back flower bed being cleared was a real plus for her.  She noticed it right away and said thanks.  Then we walked to the front.  That flower bed being cleared kind of pushed her over the top. All her weariness and emotions snuck up on her and welled up in a few tears.  She said, "I didn't realize just how tired I was." 


We cut coupons and prepared for our outing to WalMart to get groceries.  That's kind of our reboot scenario.  Ever since we first got married we have enjoyed shopping for groceries together.  When we had kids at home, they came along, too, and had to follow the inevitable admonition, "Keep your hand on the basket."  Now I just like to look for one of the longest lines and try to start up a conversation with my fellow waiters.  Today's wait partner was a lady down here from Little Rock.  She said she was piggy-backing on her daughter's vacation spot.  When she found out we were locals, she wanted to know what all that stuff was growing on the beach.  I haven't had a chance to explain seaweed in a long time.  I told her it wasn't growing, but had washed up on the shore.  And it was a good thing because it helped build up the dunes.  The only problem is that it stinks.  A look of understanding exploded onto her face, and she exclaimed, "So that's what the smell is?"  Oh, yes.  That's what the smell is.


This afternoon I am scheduled to go to the Astros game with Kel, Jachin and Micah.  It starts at 6:00, but Kel wants to leave at 3.  I don't know which inspiration he is following.  On the one hand, he says he wants to give the boys time to play at the different fun spots at the stadium.  On the other hand, the first 10,000 people to enter the stadium get Nolan Ryan bobbleheads in honor of the Astros playing the Texas Rangers.  Kel's favorite baseball player of all time has always been Nolan Ryan.  Quite a strong draw for the little boy in him. 


Chris checked on her Mom around 11.  Sounded like things were going as smoothly as could be expected.  The doctors had no plans for any particular tests today.  They wanted her to just relax as much as she could and give the antibiotics time to attack the infection.  Her sisters are planning to come for a visit this afternoon, so Chris plans to return tomorrow after church.  Of course that depends on what happens in the meantime, so we are still on pins and needles – ready to hop back in the car and get to Houston as soon as we can.


In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."


Father, in all my search for your word on peace, how did it take me so long to remember this one?  I come to you.  Help me to receive the rest you offer. And grant it to Chris and her Mom as well.  Amen.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18 – “Flower Bed Universe”



They drained 1300 cc's of fluid from Chris' Mom this morning.  They could not do the chest tube option because she still has an infection that they are dealing with.  And they will not let her go home without the chest tube.  It is "too dangerous."  So that means we are in it for the long haul this time.  Chris' Dad went home to get some more clothes and to collect another round of his medicines.  Chris wants to come home this evening whenever he gets back.  Wish I could have dinner ready for her when she gets back.  Maybe she'll agree to go out to eat.  Or maybe we can order a pizza.  I bet she won't want to leave once we get here, except maybe to go see Jachin and Micah or Cailyn.


I had already decided this morning to do something to surprise her when she came home.  I had my assigned task – to water the back yard.  But I also ventured into the realm of weeding the flower bed.  I have attempted a few forays in that direction over the years, but never a task so daunting as this appeared.  I didn't think it could be all that bad.  Just pull out anything that doesn't look like those plants with the blue or white flowers on top.  That was my plan. 


I never really realized what a microcosm of the universe existed under all that brush, er, ground cover.  Spiders everywhere of all different sizes and colors.  No tarantulas that I noticed, though.  And none of them bothered me.  I only saw one of those worms that turn into june bugs.  Took care of that one.  There were all kinds of beetles and crawly things under there.  And all of them pretty much ran away when they detected the presence of the massive evil intruder.  I was worried the first time I dug into an ant bed.  Those little dudes can me mean.  They swarmed all over the dirt and weeds, doing their job, I suppose – "Protect the queen!"  I had gloves on, so I was a bit more adventurous than normal.  I talked to them nicely as I pulled all around them.  More than a few crawled onto my gloves, but I never felt a bite.  I tried to explain that if they would just wait a few minutes a lot of their digging jobs would be so much easier.  They didn't listen too well.  Guess I'd have to be an ant to communicate with them.  Hmm.  Why does that sound familiar? 


The weeds were a nightmare.  There were a bunch of different kinds.  Some came right up by the roots when I pulled.  Others – most of them – were not so cooperative.  It seemed that whenever I pulled, there were roots that led to somewhere else.  Always something deeper, under the surface, holding on, not wanting to let go.  Hmm. 


There was this one particular kind of weed that every time I reached for it, I realized it was growing right between two of the good plants.  And it held on tight, forcing me to use my aching fingers more than I really wanted to. 


The biggest surprise, though, was the number of little tiny good plants hidden underneath and mixed in with the offending weed population.  That made the job a lot harder.  Now I had to watch out for good guys being attacked by weeds from every direction.  I realized that the flowers I saw at first glance – the one son top of the weed mass - were from the strongest of the crowd.  Hidden from the vital sunlight were hundreds of tiny weaker ones, struggling to last one more day.  There was nothing they could do about their predicament.  There was no way they could get enough sun and water and nourishment from the soil to survive without outside help.  Enter me.  Hmm.


Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. "


Father, wow.  Thanks for showing me that truth in the garden.  Amen.