Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 26 – “Departure Day”

 

Well, it's finally time to head for the Hills.  Glorieta, New Mexico.  I'm not sure what form my next week of journal entries will take.  One of my fun approaches to dealing with the week is to write a goofy song that develops over the course of the week.  It eventually has the name of every camper in it, along with some of the silly or serious events that we experience together.  I accompany it on my ukulele, and every morning I bellow out a verse or two to assist our dear charges in their struggle to greet the new day.  What a wonderful, melodious way to say "Good morning," don't you think?  Anyway, it might be that I will only have enough time and creativity to get the song done.  If so, that will explain the craziness to follow.  Another factor we have to face is whether I will be able to send it at all.  They do have wifi capabilities at the camp, and I will have my air card (perhaps for its last journey), but sometimes all that goes to naught in the bowls of the canyon in the mountains. 

 

Proverbs 16:21 says, "The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction."

 

Father, take control of this trip.  Enough said.  Amen.

June 25 – "Tireder and tireder"

 

Here's a quick steroid report from the last two nights.  The first one I slept all the way from midnight to 6:30 and only woke then because Cailyn called out.  That was strange.  I didn't feel particularly rested, though.  And as the day wore on I definitely felt tireder and tireder.  I know "tireder" is not a word.  Spell check told me it should be "more and more tired."  But I'm too tired to care.  That's brings me to last night.  I could really feel the high coming down around 10:30.  I got to sleep by 11:30, but I was up and at 'em at 5:20.  Let's get this packing day on the road.  Or maybe fishing day.  It's still too dark to check the webcams.

 

Had the MRI yesterday.  I was even able to fall asleep while it was going on.  I remember thinking that felt kind of scary, because it meant the steroids were wearing thin and the pain would be back soon. 

 

We left from there to pick up our niece Taylor in Wharton.  She's going to camp with us for the first time.  Exciting stuff.  I tried to do crossword puzzles, but kept falling asleep.  We had a big Whataburger lunch with Taylor and her Mom and sister, and then came home a different route.  Highway 6.  Took way longer than the usual.  Lots of traffic. 

 

Last night was kind of nice.  We stood out on the front porch and watched the Moody Gardens fireworks show.  Someone down the street was having a party.  We couldn't tell if they had a really bad live band or if they were singing karaoke.  Taylor voted for the bad band.  She said you don't get a headliner band to show up for your average backyard party.  Good point.

 

My biggest concern for today – if I don't get to go fishing – is getting one of those pill cases with morning and evening slots so I don't have to take all my pill bottles to camp.  Great getting old and arthritic.

 

Wait.  I see light outside.  I'm off to the Galveston webcam sight to see if by chance the beach is calm enough to go wade fishing. 

 

Proverbs 16:20 says, "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord."

 

Father, I'm listening.  Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24 – “Joy Alexandra”

 

We had a baby dedication at the house last night.  Joy Alexandra Anderson.  Very cute little one.  Her grandparents were in from Cleveland.  No, that other Cleveland.  The one not in Texas.  We leave for camp this Sunday (Two more days), so they wanted to dedicate her at Life Group.  It was nice, too.  We had kind of a smaller group than usual.  Corey brought Brennan and Cailyn was here, so there were some other youngsters in our midst.  In fact Cailyn decided she wanted to be with good old DadDad, so I held her through the ceremony.  She eventually fell asleep.  Brennan played quietly with his Dad.  Joy never woke up until we were done.  It had a real first century house church feel. 

 

Mom had an omelet for the first time the other day - again.  She's still sleeping a lot during the day.  Doesn't say much.  She got a shock this morning, though.  Cailyn and I were the only ones up.  In her early-morning rounds around the house circle, Cailyn saw Mom's purse.  Suddenly she stopped in her tracks.  "That's MoMo's," she declared.  "Where's MoMo?"  I told her MoMo was still in bed.  So she squared her shoulders as if to say, "We can't have any of this sleeping in.  It's daytime.  It's time to get up.  Get out of the bed."  She marched down the hall.  She turned into Mom's room and declared in her best military voice, "Up MoMo.  Out of bed."  I heard Mom respond.  Something positive like, "Well, good morning.  What are you doing in here?"  Not that she actually got up this time.  Cailyn was ready for new challenges, so she didn't push the issue. 

That's my granddaughter.  Now I'm inspired to do the same for my charges at youth camp next week.  Just have to tune up my ukulele and warm up my worst singing voice.

 

I tried to repair another Ike chair. It was one of two from Mom's dining room set that didn't look too bad after the storm.  As I worked on sanding, one of the legs split right down the middle, long-ways, from bottom to top.  It had been glued and the glue just gave way.  I re-glued it and clamped it and even tried adding a nail or two.  Jury is still out on whether it will hold substantial weight.  Maybe Chris can use it to display one of her dolls or something.

 

While out there I cleaned up the rest of the fishing rods and reels that we salvaged – mine and Dad's and the guy's next door.  There were several good ambassador reels.  Quite a few very good rods, too, perfect for slipping on one of those cheap zebcos when we have friends over.  Now the water just needs to calm down a bit so I can go fishing.  Oh, wait.  MRI this morning.  We have to leave by 8:00.  That gives me ten minutes.  Then to Wharton to meet Mark and pick up Taylor for camp.  Camp in two days.  Guess I can't go fishing anyway.  Unless maybe I can sneak in some time on Saturday.  Strictly to offer Taylor the opportunity of course.  It's not like we'll mess up our clothes that will then need to be washed along with every other piece of clothing we own that we'll need for camp.  Or even that we will need to pack sometime in there.  Maybe eat.  Sleep a bit. 

 

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

 

Father, that verse keeps popping up.  I trust you with my steps.  Forgive some of my plans.  Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23 – “Shopping report”

 

Quick steroid report.  I slept some last night.  I think I finally dozed off around three.  I woke up again at 4:30, but this time I was able to get back to sleep off and on.  I finally gave up and got up at six.  WooHoo.  Let's get this day started.  Maybe I should have waited to take this round during camp. 

 

Well, once again, Mom has nothing obviously wrong.  She just doesn't feel good.  We're waiting on the results for a possible urinary tract infection again.  Chris says this time if it's positive she will demand a retest at the end of the course of antibiotics to make sure it is completely gone.

 

Back to camp.  We went to Academy yesterday to get some clothes.  My cache of shorts that were donated to me after Hurricane Ike has been rapidly becoming a collection of yard work and fishing-worthy garments.  Chris was embarrassed for me to be seen outside of our yard.   She had already picked up some stuff for her camp attire, and she wanted a few shirts to complete her wardrobe.  I finally found some that I liked and that seemed to fit OK.  Why Academy, you might ask?  I know.  You weren't even remotely poised to ask such a deeply piercing question, but I thought I would break through your reluctance and cut right to the chase.  I could say that I like the Austin Clothing brand.  That would be true, not to mention that they are pretty cheap.  Their blue jeans especially fit well – very casual feel.  But I also got one pair of shorts by that Hebrew patriarch guy, Levi.  Actually, in my mind we went to Academy because I wanted to pick up some fishing weights, too.  You know, just in case.  Gotta have the right motivation to convince us to buy clothes.

 

We got word that one of our campers dropped out.  Then we got word that another guy who is new to the area and knows no one really wants to go.  That's always a plus to introduce someone new to camp.  And to Jesus.  That connection wasn't even from another church, really.  It was through a military connection of a good friend of mine.  I guess God knew what he was doing … again.  We'll see if those details can be worked out.

 

Proverbs 16:7 says, "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him."

 

Father, if you want this new kid to make the trip with us, please work out the details.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22 – “In the family”

 

We were teased with the promise of rain yesterday, and we even got a little taste of it.  Enough to inspire Chris to go water the flower beds.  Maybe that will release the torrents.  The weatherman gives us a fifty fifty chance today.

 

The steroid pack hit its full stride yesterday.  So far it hasn't been as disconcerting as it was the last time.  I have decided that's for two reasons.  One is I knew what to expect.  The other is I really think it is evening out the effect of the other medication that makes me drowsy.  Yesterday I had periods where I actually felt somewhat normal.  Not necessarily sane, but normal.

 

I figured out a test for the effects.  If I could stay awake all the way through an early afternoon showing of a movie, then there could be some good come of it.  So we went to see Green Lantern.  But the power had gone off earlier in the day (It did at our house, too, very briefly), and they couldn't get the movie to start up.  Just our particular movie.  All the others worked fine.  When they came in to tell us about it, one college guy asked if they had called Green Lantern for help.  It was great.  Just about every person in the theater solemnly nodded in agreement like that was a completely valid request.  Sadly, however, He was apparently already busy fighting crime at the 3D showing next door.  We were offered tickets to any other movie, but the only one starting within the next hour was Kung Fu Panda II.  Now that would have been a test.  A feature length cartoon.  They put me to sleep in the best of times.  But we decided to get our money back and mourn the loss of our afternoon date at home.

 

Well, I stayed home.  Chris went to Dickinson to the quilt shop.  While she was gone I installed a shelf for her.  It took some doing.  On one side I unexpectedly hit a stud and bent the nail.  Had to start over on that side.  Finally got it up, though.  Now it's waiting for the pics she wants on it.  Grandsons in baseball attire is the plan I think.  We'll see.

 

Mom is not feeling well again.  Chris got her an appointment for this morning at nine.  We thought that would be quite a chore, because she doesn't normally get out of bed before ten.  But when me and my steroids got up at 5 this morning, her light was already on.  She was in bed, but I guess that is one step she won't have to take later on.  Chris volunteered to stay home from camp again this year to take care of her.  She missed last year taking care of her Mom, though, so I'd really like for her to go.  She really likes it.  April and Christina have said they would check in on her and even have her spend the night with them.  We have some great kids.  And one of the families at church said they would help if needed as well.  We have a great family there, too.

 

Galatians 6:9-10 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

 

Father, thank you for the family you have gifted us with.  Our kids and our church.  And help us to receive help even when we think we can handle it.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21 – “Neuro results”

 

Well, the results of my trip to the neurologist were shockingly familiar.  After a test that would rival acupuncture (I was hooked up to a little machine and they sent electrical waves through my arm and neck.  Then they stuck needles in at various sites and repeated the impulses.  I think it's to determine nerve damage), he did his usual inspection – tapping my knees and such.  The decision?  The tingling and numbness I have been having in my left arm are the result of a bulging disc in my neck, probably complicated by spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal chord area.  No surprise there.  I have heard it all before.  Three times. 

 

He went through his whole required speech about the course of treatment.  I interrupted him a few times with, "Yep.  That one never works," or "At least you're not mentioning the test Satan invented and plays a personal role in every time it is administered" (That would be a myelogram.  Dye is inserted into the spinal column near the lower back.  The table is then tilted so the dye can flow up toward the neck.  The trick is to level out the table before it gets to the head, because the dye causes severe headaches.  The ones I have had have always reached my head.  And the last one took its time getting there.  The stenosis blocked the easy flow. So the fluid spread out into my lower back causing excruciating pain there.  I don't recommend that one.).  He agreed that it was best Satan not be invited into the process.  But then, he's not the one who orders the myelogram.  That's the neurosurgeon's responsibility.  WooHoo.  More to look forward to.

 

He scheduled me for an MRI again.  I called that one ahead of time, too.  Since I have an eye doctor appointment in Houston Friday afternoon (cataract doc), we got that one for Friday morning.  Unless the water is really pretty for fishing.  In that case maybe I can postpone it all and disappear into the water Friday.

 

I have to do some physical therapy when I get back from camp.  He included some orders about strengthening my lower back as well to help with that pain.  But the worst step of all for this trip is that I have to take another round of steroids.  Last time I didn't sleep for three days.  Maybe the other arthritis meds I'm taking (at least three of which warn about drowsiness) will cancel some of that out this time so I can sleep some.

 

We did have a bit of married people type fun.  We joked about the inevitable patient questionnaire.  The best question award this time went to: "Do you forget things or have trouble with confusion?"  The question confused me.  I pointed it out to Chris, and in her best nurse voice she read it back to me out loud and asked, "Well, do you forget things?"  I told her I couldn't remember.  She chuckled and said something like, "Oh, you're so confused."  Everything the rest of the day was all about me forgetting or being confused.  I stick by my answer, though – "Non-essential information is not required.  All other things remembered are a bonus."

 

Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other."

 

Father, I guess that means that our response to bad times should once again be, I trust you.  I do.  Amen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20 – “Communication Age”

 

Today is once again neurologist day.  I'm going to get checked out concerning the tingling and numbness I have been having in my left arm.  It's a way too familiar feeling.  And it has resulted in surgery every other time I have had it.  Definitely not something I look forward to at all.  Not to mention that I have to be there (in Houston) by 9:00.  That means we have to leave by 7:15 or 7:30 and hope the traffic going into Houston isn't too bad. 

 

Ah, the joys of living in the Communication Age.  After we had Father's Day on Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted Sunday as well by each of my boys.  And each one chose a different means of communication.  One sent me a text message.  Another posted on FaceBook, and the third gave me a call and put me on speaker phone.  Any guesses which son did which contact? 

 

I saw an ad on TV the other day for an IPhone at $49.  I casually mentioned it to Chris.  She surprised me by saying she had no problem with me getting a new phone.  But the offer was for the IPhone 3G.  Then I found out that the newer IPhone 4G has an extra camera on it that enables video teleconferencing.  That means you can see who you are talking to.  Now that would be a plus for grandparents with little dudes who live far away.  Chris was definitely intrigued by that option.  But then yesterday I heard that the IPhone 5G would probably be out soon.  So what would it possibly be capable of doing that the 4G couldn't do?  Maybe it will be able to take the words you speak and turn them into print media.  That way you could still text people and not have to look at the screen.  Wait.  That would just be talking on the phone, wouldn't it?  But I could just speak my journal entries and it would type them for me.  Then I would just have to say "Post it," and I would be done.  That would be helpful.  But how would it know to capitalize certain things?  Or how about those certain times in literary creations when you want something to be spelled wrong to make a point?  Or how about … you know what?  I think I'll stick to books.  There's nothing quite like them.

 

Proverbs 15:33 says, "The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor."

 

Father, I want to be wise before honored.  Guess that means loving you and being humble before men.  Help.  Amen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19 – “Happy Father’s Day”

 

So today is Father's Day.  Actually at our house yesterday was.  Both of our local children brought their families over for a fish fry.  We finished off some filets we had left in the freezer from a past deep sea fishing excursion and from a few semi-successful beach front cast sessions.

 

So what makes a Father's Day a good one?  Well, fried fish doesn't hurt, but I have to say those grandkids sure do bring a sense of accomplishment.  I know I didn't have much to do with their everyday development, except maybe for the time we kept Micah while his Mom and Dad both worked and Cailyn when her Dad worked and Mom was in school.  But if it wasn't for us, they wouldn't have had the Dads they do.  I'm not sure whether to apologize to them or beam in pride at that statement, but those boys turned out to be some pretty good kids in their own right.

 

So back to the little ones. 

 

I caught Cailyn swinging on the door knobs the other day.  She was just the right height to grab the doorknob on each side and kick off the wall.  I started to say something, but it looked really fun.  And it wasn't nearly as dangerous as some of the stuff her Daddy used to try.  I also asked her to pick up a few raisins that she dropped.  So she did.  With her feet.  The first one she just handed me – or footed me.  The second one she decided she was still hungry, so she put it in her mouth.  Not an easy task, mind you.  You try it.  Oh, wait.  It might be a little dirty.  Too late.

 

Micah comes up with some of the most random things I have ever heard.  Like that time he called me on the phone and asked if the bait shops in Galveston had worms.  It took me awhile to decipher that he was really asking about worms, and he was saddened to hear that bait shops in Galveston wouldn't have them.  But, ever undeterred, he asked if we had any in our yard.  I said we might and he instructed me to go dig them up.  Right then.  He just wanted some worms to watch.  Strictly an educational request. 

 

Josiah has taken over as the youngest, but he doesn't look like he will be the smallest for very long.  The little guy is big.  Best part about being around him is that he always seems genuinely happy to see me.  His eyes light up and he comes right to me with a big hug and a giggle waiting to happen.  He even says my name – DadDad.  Drives Chris batty.

 

Caleb was the youngest, but no one ever told him he has been supplanted.  His world is always in motion with new and exciting things all around.  He's the one who loves being wrapped up in a blanket.  Not to snuggle up and get warm.  No.  Caleb then wants two of you big people around to grab an end of the blanket and swing him like he's in a hammock.  Like the hammock is outside on a windy day.  Like maybe in a hurricane.  He loves it when the blanket flips completely over.  Ah, what a rush.  Maybe his Mom will take him on a roller coaster soon. 

 

We went to watch Jachin's swimming lessons the other day.  We heard his swim teacher, a young man in his early 20's, say, "How many times do I have to tell you?"  Yep.  He really said that.  Wonder how many times his mom had to tell him?  Chris heard that one and bristled.  She leaned over to me and said, "Did you hear that?  That's my grandson.  I can say that to him but he can't."  I thought, well, the joke's on him.  Jachin wears earplugs to protect his damaged ears.  So he can't even hear the admonition.  But then I realized that the joke was on me.  Apparently Jachin forgot to put his earplugs in.  But his dad took care of that one.  Strangely enough, after the ear plug installation, the teacher was much nicer.  Jachin called the other day to ask if we happened to have any more books in the "Door Within" series that he could read.  He had just finished the second one and was ready for the next one.  Very adult sounding request.  I assured him we had the next one in the series and he could pick it up at his earliest convenience.  Very adult sound response.  Ah, the joys of being the oldest. 

 

I got a Father's Day card in the mail from Zak and Caleb.  They each drew a picture for me, and their Mom added captions to explain them.  Caleb's simply said, "It's me."  Looked just like him.  Zak's story was a bit more involved, however.  The illustrations matched the story line perfectly, though.  Here's his words: "DadDad likes silly things, right.  So I'm gonna draw him a silly picture.  It's a Daddy coming down from his attic and sees his child has thrown up below him and now he can't get down and he's not very happy about that situation."  Now there's a Pulitzer prize candidate if I ever heard one.

 

Proverbs 15:20 says, "A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother."

 

Father, thank you for my grandkids.  My sons have sure brought me joy through them.  Amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18 – “Allie Update”

 

Allie update … we went to Houston yesterday to check on Allie after her scoliosis surgery.  She had two rods inserted into her back and screwed to her spine.  Ouch.  All I could think about was the intense nerve pain I felt after my last neck surgery.  And hers went up and down her whole back.  Again I say, ouch.

 

Allie is doing well.  She did have quite a time getting the pain under control right after the surgery, though.  First she would toss and turn and writhe in pain when it was pretty much imperative that she lie still.  So they increased and changed combinations of pain medications.  But then she would calm down to the extent that she would actually stop breathing and have to be "reminded" with a shake.  It certainly made for some tense Mommy and Daddy moments, as you can imagine.  The transition now is to oral pain medication. 

 

She has been a real trooper as far as rehab is concerned.  The athlete in her definitely kicked in the first time she took a walk.  She made it all the way around the unit – quite a distance.  She was exhausted when she finished, but she did it.  Her Mom said that her cell phone has been a lifeline.  Even when the pain was intense, Allie never forgot to answer texts.  While we were there she kept it right next to heart while she dozed so she could feel the vibration.  Can't miss a one that way.  Ah, the resourcefulness of the communication generation.  If all continues to go well over the next few hours, the doctor will release her to go home this weekend.  Allie's parting words to us were, "I'll see you at church next Wednesday before y'all leave for camp." 

 

We had a few errands to run on the way home.  Since we were going to be in Texas we had made out our list before we left home.  Chris picked up some quilting stuff that was on sale at Hobby Lobby.  I didn't mind that since Hobby Lobby is right next to Spring Creek Barbecue.  Great place for lunch.  I especially like their free little loaves bread that they bake right there and give away as fast as they can pull it out of the oven.  Hot, steaming homemade bread.  Mouth watering. 

 

The final Texas stop was Sam's.  We had to pick up some supplies for the church since Sunday in Third Sunday Dinner on the Grounds.  You know, forks, garbage bags, soap and the like.  We also got some water and juice to take on the vans for the youth camp trip next week.  And then it was back onto the Island.  Oh, and we managed to make a WalMart trip as well.  How can a week go by without a few of those? 

 

Proverbs 15:30 says, "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones."

 

Father, thank you for Allie's good news.  Keep healing her and drawing her close to you.  Amen.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17 – “Traitor to my species”

 

I felt like a traitor to my species.  It's not like I intended for it to ever happen.  I held out for so long.  Three male children.  Five male grandchildren.  Who would have thought it could happen?  How did it happen? 

 

Yesterday I was assigned the enviable task of caring for young Cailyn while Chris took Mom to a dentist appointment.  Not a problem, right?  A joy, in fact.  And the mission began harmlessly enough.  We watched the last inning of the Astros game.  The game was nothing to get excited about, of course (wait 'til next year!), but the fact that she was patient enough to last through a whole inning was amazing to me.  This little girl has potential.  But baseball doesn't last forever, so soon we were on to other things. 

 

A regular part of our experience together has always been hunting for bugs under the garden stones in the front yard.  She squeals with delight rather than fear at the sight of even the tiniest fire ant.  But alas, the drought had driven the most interesting insect creatures farther underground.  And the oppressive heat made it impossible to remain outside for long.  At least not in the front yard. 

 

She decided that perhaps it would be cooler in the back.  With bubbles.  Sure.  Bubbles always make the weather seem nicer.  So we grabbed the bottle of orange scented bubbles and headed outside.  Orange scented bubbles?  You have to be kidding me.  Why, the bubbles we had when I was a kid … OK.  That shows my age.  Moving on here. 

 

Bubbles didn't last long either.  Even the relatively shady confines of the back yard didn't mask the heat.  So back in we went.  Now Cailyn is a girl, so I don't fault her for the occasional foray into dolls and such.  But it has always been difficult at best for me to get excited at the prospects of tea parties and Barbie doll dressups.  I do give it my best shot, and use the opportunity to try to direct her play toward more creative times of fun.  Like teaching her dolls to do triple back flips or hang by their feet from the ceiling fan. 

 

Alas and alack.  Yesterday Cailyn had a creativity of her own in mind.  She discovered a robot in our bedroom.  A big robot.  It came up to about her waist.  She was fascinated with it at first, just wanting to look at it from afar.  And then she touched it.  And then she picked it up and cuddled with it.  And then … and then … I can hardly bring myself to say it, for I allowed it to happen with not even an attempt to salvage the out of control situation.  She wrapped the robot in a baby blanket and put it in a doll crib.  I felt terrible for the poor creature.  I had heard horror stories about situations like this.  Toys designed for battle, created to train boys to be rough and tough, mercilessly tossed into … a baby bed.  How shameful.  How totally degrading.  How … Wait, she's looking at me with those big brown eyes.  She turning her head to side and smiling at me.  She's speaking, "Look, DadDad"

… How … How … cute.  Hey, even a rough and tough robot needs to take a nap sometime, right?

 

Proverbs 15:3 says, "The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good."

 

Father, never take your eyes from the precious children.  They so get the "unconditional" of your love.  Amen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16 – “Pharmaceutical madness”

 

Well, now.  Here's a topic of some interest for Americans.  We went to the pharmacy yesterday to pick up a refill of one of the medications my rheumatologist prescribed for me.  I have been taking it pretty much ever since I was diagnosed.  As I understand it, this one helps keep my stomach from rebelling at the other more aggressive medications.  The pharmacy tech pulled it out from the storage bin and started to ring it up, but then paused.  He frowned.  He mumbled one of those concerned, "Hmmm's."  One eyebrow lifted ever so slightly.  Finally he managed to arrange his thoughts enough to let us in on his dilemma. 

 

"I don't understand why they are charging you so much for this.  Let me check," he began, as he punched his query into the computer.  It didn't take long. 

 

"Ah.  I see.  They have decided that this is not the right medication that you should be taking.  There is no generic equivalent for it (read here cheap – my comment, not his).  It seems they want you to take one of the over-the-counter brands instead."  He then showed us what the charge would be for the medication that my doctor had prescribed – apparently mistakenly, according to the insurance company, which obviously has more medical knowledge and experience in medical and pharmaceutical matters than my doctor who has been in practice for years and is now a teacher in the Houston medical center.  I actually thought I could trust him, but then, what do I know?  I'm just an ignorant patient, after all. 

 

After a brief chat with Chris – actually it was more one of those "looks" married people give each other where they know the answer without having to say anything – I told him we would talk to the doctor about an alternative.  He fully concurred with our decision, saying, "That's good.  Because I sure didn't want to ring you up at that amount." 

 

So I called the doctor's office when we got home to get our name on the proverbial call-back list.  "Call backs will be made after clinic hours between 4:30 and the close of the office day."  Let's see.  It's about 7:30 the next morning and we still haven't received a call back.  That's some long office hours.

 

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

 

Father, I have learned that getting angry rarely solves problems, even when the problem is within my control.  Help me to be a gentle answer one.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15 – “The discount card”

 

We made a trip into Texas yesterday.  One of the girls from church had scoliosis surgery at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.  Traffic wasn't bad at all, but finding a parking place at the Medical Center is not easy.  We ended up choosing a building and doing valet parking.  We figured we could walk to wherever we needed to go. 

 

After we dropped off the car we actually asked directions.  Well, Chris asked directions.  Come to find out, "our" building was connected to Texas Children's by a walkover, so we got on the elevator and headed up.  Sure enough, we exited the elevator and the ramp was right there.  In fact, after Chris asked for directions again, we discovered that the place we were looking for was right down the hall.  We met up with Allie's Dad and his family and hung out with them until Allie and her Mom arrived.  Her Mom's family didn't get there for quite awhile so we were glad we were there.  The surgery was scheduled to last at least six hours.  They finally took her into surgery around 3:30, and we left the hospital at 5.  The Facebook post that all was over came through around 10:30.  Allie woke up in pain, but it went well.  Time for the pain meds to do their job so she could get some sleep.  Today she will have to get up and move around and get started on her rehab. 

 

We stopped by Lifeway book store on the way home.  I had to pick up some communion cups for church, and I needed a book to read for the trip to youth camp.  We also picked up a Bible for our niece who is going for the first time.  We leave on the 26th for New Mexico.  When I paid for the books I showed my pastor's discount card as well as one of those frequent flier cards they give out and punch with every visit.  The clerk advised me to used the pastor card and save the other for when I spend over a hundred dollars at a time.  Hmm.  So that's in my future?  She was very sweet, though, and she gave me yet another special rewards card that offered $10 off any purchase.  But it had to be used between March 3 and April 14.  I read it out loud to her.  She smiled sweetly and said, "I'm sorry, that's out of date.  Would you like me to throw it away for you?"  Like I had tried to use it.  Did I mention that she gave it to me?  I managed to stifle my chuckle and simply replied, just as sweetly, "Why thank you."

 

Proverbs 14:29 says, "A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly." 

 

Father, Thank you for fun little interchanges like the one with the discount card.  Helps keep life light.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14 – “Lists”

 

Do you make lists?  I make lists all the time.  Lists of groceries to buy.  Lists of what to do each week.  Lists of things I still need to get done before youth camp.  Lists of things I need to take to youth camp.  Lists of people I have met at Seaside.  Lists of things we want to accomplish in restoring the house after Hurricane Ike.  Lists of things we would like to have someday.  Lists.

 

I am reading a book right now called The New Birth Order Book.  I read the original Birth Order Book back when it first came out years ago, and I was fascinated by it.  It's all based on the work of some psychologist guy named Alfred Adler.  He taught that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, influences on how you act and the decisions you make in life is the order in which you were born in your family.  This book pretty much simplifies all the psycho-babble and makes it easier to understand – a work of pop art. 

 

Anyway, this new book says if you make a lot of lists you are probably a first born or maybe an only child.  I think he needs to revise that just a bit.  It should say if you make a lot of lists and do everything you can to accomplish everything on those lists, to the point of being obsessive about it.  That fits better.  I'm a middle child.  I do not by any means obsess over the lists I make.  I just think it's fun when you get to scratch out something.  And if I don't finish the list, so much the better.  That means there's just more to look forward to for next week. 

 

I do have to confess that the other reason I am so big on making lists has nothing to do with birth order or obsessiveness or even scratching out done stuff.  Much of the time I make lists it's because if I don't I'll totally forget what it was I was supposed to be doing.  There have been many times I have gone to WalMart for something in particular.  Once there I get so wrapped up in people watching or browsing the movie section that I totally forget my object.  It's frustrating to get back home and realize that I have to turn around and go right back again.  Of course that means I get to do some more people watching, so it's not all bad.  Making a list does force me to stay focused, though.  And that's not always a simple task. 

 

We are heading into Texas this morning to pray with a family at Texas Children's Hospital before a surgery.  Before we go I have to get gas, stop by the bank, pick up a prescription …

 

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."

 

Father, give Allie and her family peace as they go through this surgery.  Amen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13 – “The old man”

 

Yesterday was a pretty draining day for this old man.  I guess I may have still been recuperating from our flying trip to San Antonio, but by early afternoon I was beat.  Sundays are always tough.  Delivering a teaching with eternal ramifications is exhausting in and of itself.  Combine that with the effects of the medications I'm taking, and as I have said before, afternoons are especially hard to get through.  We had a brief respite when we went to lunch at McAlister's Deli with Nathan and April and Cailyn and Katie Cox.  She is a young woman who actually lived with us for a time when she was in high school.  She has since been in the Navy, serving in Japan and Iraq.  She is now in college in Washington, D.C., preparing for a career in some aspect of sign language. 

 

After lunch I was anticipating an afternoon of rest or maybe even a quick trip to the beach for an hour or two of fishing.  But instead I had another of those occupational hazards of being in the ministry arise.  Chris and I ended up spending the entire afternoon in an impromptu counseling situation.  I don't think it would have been quite as difficult if I had had some warning.  But for the first time that I can remember I almost fell asleep listening to the person talk.  I was so glad Chris was there, too.  I ended up getting up several times and walking around to reboot.  By the time I was finally able to unwind, I was in pain from the most recent disc problem that has arisen in my neck.  That meant I couldn't find a comfortable spot on the couch even with my feet up on the coffee table (my usual position for watching key sporting events on television). 

 

We watched the last quarter of the Mavericks vs. Heat pro "basketball" finals.  It was the most of that particular sport I have seen all year.  Not really basketball in the purist sense of the word, though.  I was pleased at the outcome.  It's always fun to see the greatly hyped, supposedly unbeatable, three-eyed Goliaths brought down to size by the simple teamwork of the not-so-greats.  It also didn't hurt that the Mavs were from Texas.  And that's close to Galveston.

 

Proverbs 14:26 says, "He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge."

 

Father, thank you for being my fortress in the middle of my frustrations with pain.  Welcome all of my kids into that security - that fortress - and be for them all the refuge they need.  Amen.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 12 – “Super heroes on the rise”

 

Zakary's birthday party was a mass of super hero-dom unlike any seen anywhere since the creation of the Justice League of America or maybe, for those of you mired in the throes of that make-believe alternate Marvel-ous universe,  the first time the guy in the wheel chair mysteriously mind-merged with the first class of X-men.  Superman was there in several forms.  One was a tiny baby with a little bitty cape and the requisite "S" on his chest.  One was Caleb with a powerful looking super t-shirt.  One was – and I reveal this on the condition that it be kept under wraps to keep secret identities secret and to protect the loved ones of all concerned from being threatened and potentially harmed by the hordes of super villains out there – me.  I know it is hard to believe I would engage in such a seemingly trivial pursuit, but part of my commitment to the world of not-so-super humans is to make them as happy as I can.  I'm sure Josh was feeling the same altruism when he revealed his own super identity … Super Grover.

 

There were more than a few Spidermen.  One adult walked up with his family in regular clothes and a Spiderman mask.  Josh greeted them by name.  The Spider-dad became somewhat agitated.  He ripped off his mask and shouted, "How did you know it was us?"  Josh handled the situation with grace, as always.  "I saw your wife and made some rash assumptions.  My apologies."  GI Joe was there, dressed in his camouflage fatigues.  A few of the heroes wore capes with their own initials intricately carved on the back.  Zak and Caleb each had one of those.  Their powers were definitely the hardest to pinpoint, for to know their power, you had to know the person.  What was it that turned mild-mannered Zak Vaughan, brand new five year old, into the daredevil Super Z?  And I did notice that public events like this were harder for Caleb.  As the younger one, he hadn't yet learned to properly hide his secret identity.  As a result he was engaging in leaps and dashes and forays into unknown realms with little regard to the presence or absence of his Super C cape. 

 

And I have to mention the girls.  There was one who appeared to be an aspiring Bat Girl, with cape and a mask with stylish wingtips.  But two of the girls were dressed as gorgeous princesses.  They were concerned about their personal lack of super powers, but Christi assured them that princesses were more than welcome.  After all, without the beautiful girls, who would the superheroes have to rescue?

 

Since the party was held at a playground, Christi didn't have to plan any special games.  There was the Spiderman piƱata, of course.  And the Batman themed birthday cake.  The kids did have a chance to create their own mask.  She had found some black Zorro-looking masks.  When you scraped at the black, though, it came off and revealed all kinds of colors underneath.  Truly a way to inspire the creation of a whole new generation of super heroes.  Keep your eyes on the sky, folks.  One day you just might need some help, and one of those little ones will come to your rescue.

 

Psalms 25:20-21 says, "Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.  May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you."

 

Father, thank you for being all the super hero I will ever need.  Amen.