Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30 – “An honest mechanic”

We took the car in to be inspected yesterday.  That gave us a full day to spare before it expired.  Wouldn't look good for us to have an expired sticker when I have taken up my Dad's cause for reminding our adult children to get their stickers done.  Not that it has ever done much good.  Now that I think about it, it never did much good when dad reminded us, either.  Nevertheless, I shall continue in the fight to convince the young ones to renew their stickers, change their oil, watch the tread on their tires …
It's so good to have a mechanic we trust.  Dennis doesn't try to convince us to do all kinds of extraneous stuff that just add more and more to the cost of a simple oil change.  And he always checks with us before he does anything extra to make sure we want to do it.  This time he changed our air filter.  When he called he said it is supposed to be changed every 15,000 miles.  We are at 35,000.  It needed it. 
I remember one time we took a car in to Dennis and had several things done – oil change, transmission oil change, and some more stuff I can't remember.  The he came upon something that was covered by a recall, so we had to take the car to a dealer.  The dealer called and said there were numerous other things that needed to be done, and wanted to know if we wanted them to take care of them all.  I asked them to write it down for me so I could see how much it would cost.  When I picked up the car I took it straight over to Dennis.  The list included virtually everything he had just done.  We laughed as he loudly exclaimed, "Well, so it needs an oil change.  Let's just check that oil and see.  Oh, look.  It's full of brand new oil.  And a new filter.  How could that be?  One would think that they didn't even check it."  The sarcasm continued until we were laughing so hard we were almost crying.  Needless to say, we didn't have occasion to use that particular dealer for … well, anything.  Find you an honest mechanic.  Makes all the difference in the world.  God knew what he was doing when he called us to a life of integrity.
Proverbs 27:12 says, "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
Father, thank you for Dennis.  Make his efforts successful and his life happy.  Amen.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29 – “On curtain rods”

We stopped by Loew's (or is it Lowe's?  I can never remember) on our way home from Houston the other day.  Chris wanted to see if they had some black hooks to put on the wall in our hall bathroom.  She said our visitors don't really have a place to hang their wet towels after taking a shower. 
My first thought was the shower curtain rod.  That's where I usually hang mine when we are visiting somewhere.  But then I remembered.  When the weight gets heavy enough on our curtain rod, it comes crashing to the ground.  It's one of those that has the rubber tips on the end, and you twist it to make it longer or shorter.  After a certain amount of time it just won't stay up any longer, and you have to start over again. 
Now that's a real pain because of the kind of curtain holder things we have.  I mean the hooks that go through the holes in the top of the curtain.  The ones we have are literally shaped like hooks, open on the end.  It's easy to just drop them over the bar and be done with it, but the bad part comes when you have to be careful every time you open or close the curtain.  The slightest wrong move and the hook pops up and back over the bar.  Then you have to reconnect it.  And when you try to reconnect one hook in the center you invariably cause one of the others to come off.  I think I prefer the cheap plastic kind that fit over the bar and then snap into place on the other side.  At least then when the bar falls all you have to do is retwist the bar. 
Tell me again why we decided to go with the twisty bar when we rebuilt after Hurricane Ike, and not have them build in a place for it like they did in the closets.
Proverbs 27:8 says, "Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home."
Father, thank you for my home.  I've seen the bird thing first hand when our dogs get hold of one.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28 – “One of those rare cases”

I had my latest appointment with the rheumatologist yesterday.  I never know quite what to expect from that guy.  He was in teacher mode this time.  Three students at Baylor College of Medicine were assigned to follow him around and see how he does what he does.  At least when he has students he is much more thorough with the exam.  He checks the joints in my toes as well as my hands.  He hits my knees with a hammer.  He pokes on my innards to see if they are all there.  He listens to my breath sounds and heart. 
And he does it all while talking pretty much non-stop.  He is a funny guy anyway.  Always wears a little bow tie.  Chris said it was kind of poofy yesterday.  Not sure what that means, but I don't usually notice any specifics anyway.  He usually asks me about the Astros, but I guess he's embarrassed for anyone to know he still follows them.  His "casual questions" were different.  He asked what I have been doing for fun.  Took me off guard.  Chris reminded me about fishing, so we went there for a minute or two.  Then he asked if we had done any traveling.  I mentioned our trip to Lingleville, and he was mystified.  I finally realized that he must be teaching two of the "recommended questions for setting the patient at ease during the visit." 
When he got to the point of his summary of the case, he described me as "one of those rare cases where sulfasalazine seems to actually be working."  I guess that means I'm doing as well as can be expected.  The pain doesn't seem to be any worse (except when the weather changes).  It's hard to consciously separate the kind of things the neurologist wants to hear from what the rheumatologist wants to hear.  Unless it's clearly nerve pain.  That much I have a handle on.  It's the muscle aches that accompany both that give me a hard time identifying.
But he ordered the usual blood test to make sure my liver still works.  I go back in three months for another blood test and six months for another checkup.  "Unless it gets worse, of course."  Had to add that to show how you remain always available to the patient.
Proverbs 27:7 says, "He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet."
Father, thank you for being the Always Available Great Physician.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27 – “Mini-mission trip”

Seaside took part in something Sunday afternoon that I hope we can do a lot more of.  We took a small group of folks over to LaMarque to Faith Bible Church.  That's just over the causeway on the Mainland in Texas for those of you who don't know our local geography.  They were having a block party on their grounds, and they encouraged residents of the two nearby subdivisions to come.  We arranged to get the block party trailer from the Galveston Baptist Association.  That is quite an asset.  It is stocked with all sorts of things, not the least of which are two of those kids' bouncy houses.  By far they were the stars of the show Sunday, both with the children and the teenagers.  Although, some of the little kids were having a pretty fun time chasing Lora Boyer around and tackling her. 
It was hot.  The event started at 3 p.m., so it went through the hottest time of the day.  I assume that was so they could be done early and get the kids in bed for school.  The trailer helped out there as well.  We set up the canopy tents and provided some shade.  I know there is a lot more stuff in there, but the only other things we used were the popcorn machine and the sno-cone maker.  Both of those were popular sites for all ages, especially the sno-cone area.  They went through something like 200 pounds of ice.  Some of that was cooling down the soft drinks and water.  They also had a guy heating up hot dogs on the grill.
The seaside Praise Team set up outside and did a few sets of worship songs.  They were tremendous as usual.  I was especially excited when they debuted a song that Cory wrote the words to and Jimmy put to music.  It was excellent.  I think they are going to start work on a second before long.  After they work on it for a few more practices, they plan to teach it to us on a Sunday morning.  That will be a landmark.
The church had sent home flyers with the kids in one of the Hitchcock elementary schools, so they had a few kids come as a result of that.  I saw some folks who have had a touch with Seaside in the past and have moved to the Mainland.  Always good to see old friends.  The pastor of the church (who happens to be my son, Kel) seemed pleased with the event.  He thinks they may have three or four pretty good prospects as a result of the day.  The worship leader wants to hook up with us to do some praise and worship nights.  Sounds like that would fit in well with the J.A.M. nights we started last month.  Way to go, God.
Proverbs 27:6 says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
Father, encourage Cory and Jimmy in their song-writing efforts.  Let it always be an expression of praise to you.  Amen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26 – “The Valley of illness”

Final entry today about the funeral.  Actually it's not about the funeral so much as about me during the funeral.  It all began sometime close to 4 a.m. that morning.  I woke up with some really bad stomach cramps, so I grabbed my crossword puzzle book and headed to the bathroom, being as quiet as I could so I wouldn't wake up Chris.  Not much happened other than the pain (and completing a puzzle or two).  I finally took a hot shower to try to relax. 
Around 7 I started to work on my journal, only to be interrupted after about a paragraph.  This time things were, how shall I say, a bit more productive, and the pain finally started easing up.  Good thing.  By then it was time to begin our quest for Lingleville and the funeral service. 

We found the place easily enough.  Pretty much a straight shot from Stephenville.  We had been invited to the pre-service meal provided by the church for the family.  I hesitantly ate a small amount of some of the blander options on the spread.  I did splurge on a piece of homemade chocolate pie, though.  That turned out to be a big mistake.  I don't know if it was the pie or the fact that I had put food in general in my stomach, but just before the funeral started I had to leave as solemnly as I could and get to the bathroom, which by the way was in another building.   I came back, then had to leave again.  I was finally able to get back for most of my friend's sermon.  But by then I had determined to give up eating, at least for the day.
We didn't go to the burial site, though I really wanted to.  They have a family cemetery, and part of their family tradition is that during the graveside service they actually dig the grave themselves.  Apparently everyone brings a shovel and pitches in.  Fascinating ritual.  And I think it would be very good for closure as well.
I made it all the way home without any more trouble.  I had a Dairy Queen chocolate milkshake for supper.  Collapsed into bed, hoping for a good night's sleep to let my body recharge.  I guess that was happening until about 3:30 a.m.   Another trip to bathroom.  And again at 5.  Not as bad.  I got started on my journal again and again had to stop.  I was worried that this could go on all day.  But it was Sunday and we had church.  And our mini-mission trip to LaMarque.  Great. 
As has happened more times than I can remember, however, God came through with enough healing power and energy to get me through the day.  This morning I feel tired and sore all over, but I ate a sandwich or two yesterday with no ill effects.  Things are certainly looking up.
Proverbs 27:2 says, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips."
Father, thank you for walking with me once again through the valley of illness.  Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25 – “Thermostats and hotel dollies”

So Hampton Inn and Suites is no longer on our list of possible hotels to stay in unless it's the only one around.  We decided to try it since it was closer to the funeral home than the LaQuinta.  We had heard some good things about them in the past, so we thought it was a safe choice.  Not so much.
It was pricey.  But I was willing to treat this like a special occasion.  We don't stay in hotels very often.  But after I checked us in I asked if they had one of those roller things that you put your luggage on.  It's not like I was asking for a person to help us.  Just the dolly.  The answer?  "We do have them, but I guess customers have them all in their rooms or something."  OK.  We didn't have that much stuff.  We would just have to make do on our own. 
So we loaded up our luggage, hanging clothes, computer, briefcase, and ice chest headed inside for our room on the second floor.  The card key actually worked.  We have had problems with that one before.  But when we entered the room I noticed a towel on the floor in the bathroom.  Maybe it just slipped off the rack.  But no.  As we walked into the room itself, the bed had not been made and the room in general was a mess.  Not staying here.
We hauled our stuff back down to the desk and informed them of the problem.  She apologized profusely and issued us a new room.  Still on the second floor.  This time she said, "If there is any problem with this room, just call me.  I'll come up and help you so you don't have to carry your luggage back down again."  Oh, you noticed that, did you? 
Back up to the second floor again.  The room this time had definitely been cleaned.  Looked very nice.  In fact they had been maintaining a sterile environment in there by keeping the thermostat set on 52 degrees.  Now, I like a cold room, but that was just a little too much even for me.  Chris pushed it up to 70 and we waited for it to shut off for a while.  Didn't happen.  Instead of shutting off it switched to heater mode.  And this was apparently the first time for heater mode, because almost immediately we could smell the telltale odor of lint burning away.  I checked the blower and the thermostat for a way to turn off the heat.  No other options available.  We really debated about checking out right then, but it was already time to be at the viewing, so we left hoping the lint would be the only thing burning off.
Those were the only problems we had with the hotel.  Breakfast was pretty good.  But as long as they had one of those waffle makers I would have been satisfied.  We won't stay there again, though.  Maybe we'll get one of those customer satisfaction surveys to fill out.
Proverbs 27:1 says, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."
Father, thank you for being in control so little things like thermostats and hotel dollies don't really matter.  Amen.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24 – “Most disconcerting”

We made it to the Dr. Pepper museum in Dublin, Texas yesterday with just minutes to spare.  The final tour began at 4:15, and we walked in at 4:05.  That's cutting it close.  At least it would be if the tour had been anything particularly spectacular.  Don't get me wrong.  It was interesting.  And they did give us a free Dr. Pepper.  There just wasn't much to it.  The "bottling plant" was a two-room warehouse kind of thing with one huge machine apparatus in it.  It wasn't operating, though.  If I understood him correctly, they only turn it on once a week or so.  On Wednesdays.  It takes eight people to operate it most efficiently, but they can do it with five.  The museum was in three tiny rooms with Dr. Pepper paraphernalia cluttering the walls and shelves.  That was way more interesting than the bottling plant.  The history lesson was fascinating as well.  Even down to the part where one of the spectators asked about the big lawsuit Dr. Pepper has filed against them to stop them from using the name Dublin Dr. Pepper.  The gift shop had just about every kind of DP engraved stuff you could want.  They were even selling old empty quart bottles with Roger Staubach's picture on it.  Ten bucks.  I passed.
Last night we went to the family "pay-your-respects" time at the funeral home.  It's sometimes called a viewing, but they had the casket closed for this one.  My friend's mother was a believer and had lived a long and full life, so the family was doing very well.  It was one of those fun, family, get reacquainted times.  There was some talk, though, about how they had just established a family cemetery a year ago, and they have had to use it already three times.  That has to be a little disconcerting to them.
Speaking of disconcerting.  At one of the lulls when Chris and I were by ourselves in the hallway and our friends were off greeting other family members, one of the mourners from another viewing came out of their room and motioned for the funeral home attendant.  As it happened, they met just a few feet from where we were standing.  The mourner very quietly expressed a concern she was having about the body of her loved one.  She said it appeared as if he had a runny nose.  Apparently some of the embalming fluid was leaking.  The funeral home rep reassured her that all was well, and said she would be in shortly to deal with the situation.  Now, with my terrible hearing, I didn't hear the conversation.  And perhaps that is just as well.  When Chris told me what had been said, I was filled with – how shall I say this – mixed emotions.  I wanted to be mindful of the graveness of the situation and respond with concern and assurance as had the funeral home attendant.  On the other hand, the images that filled my mind made it very difficult not to explode with laughter.  I confess that I did consider walking casually into that room to see it for myself, but when Chris realized my intentions she absolutely would not allow it.  Disconcerting.  Most disconcerting.
Proverbs 26:21 says, "As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife."
Father, walk with the Wilson family through this third funeral in less than a year.  Thank you for the faith of his mother that gives them all encouragement.  Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23 – “Dr. Pepper float”

I just had to throw away two perfectly good coupons.  Actually they weren't perfectly good anymore, because I waited too long to use them.  They expired three and four days ago.  I picked them up last month at International House of Pancakes when for some insane reason I went there two days in a row.  That hasn't happened in, well, ever, as evidenced in the fact that I never made it back.  It was one of those deals where you had to go online and complete a survey about the visit.  Then they give you a code number to write on the check and it becomes good for a free short stack of pancakes.  That's what made them so appealing to me.  I always order a short stack of pancakes at IHOP.  I used to be able to handle one of their omelets (which, by the way, comes with pancakes), but I just can't hold all that anymore.  Oh well, I still have the coupon I got at McAlister's Deli for doing their survey.  It's good for three dollars off whatever we order.  And I have until October third to use it.  Plenty of time. 
We are heading to Stephenville, Texas, this morning for the funeral of a good friend's mother.  Actually, the funeral is going to be in Lingleville, a few miles outside of Stephenville.  I don't remember ever going through Stephenville, and I sure don't remember a metropolis like Lingleville.  I asked around about what there might be to do in the area.  A Facebook friend said the downtown part of Stephenville has been fixed up and a lot of shops and things are there.  Just what we need.  Let's go to the Stephenville Strand.  Honestly, Chris will probably love it.  I saw online that there is even an antique mall there.  I know she'll like that.  My sights are on something else, though.  I found out that the little town of Dublin is also nearby.  And Dublin is the home of … Dr. Pepper.  They have a Dr. Pepper museum.  But I also heard that Dr. Pepper is suing them for using the name Dublin Dr. Pepper or something.  Hope they are still open when we get there.  A Dr. Pepper float sounds really good.
Proverbs 26:20 says, "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down."
Fatehr, ride with us to wherever this place is we are going today.  Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22 – “The unexpected”

Little Matt's surgery went well.  Since I wasn't sure about the time, I got there at 6 a.m.  And I had the opportunity to meet a very nice nurse who informed me that he wasn't scheduled to be there until 11:30.  Ah. 
I had to get up anyway.  Chris woke me up a little before 5 and said I needed to roll over on my side.  One would think I snored or something.  Actually the fall is a great time of year – cooler weather and all.  But it's my worst time for allergies.  And they have kicked in.  I'm usually ok until I try to lay flat at night.  Bad combination (flat and night).  Then I can't breathe even with my daily medication.  I usually take a Benadryl when it hits, but that takes a while to become effective.  So I have almost completed my crossword puzzle book.  Glad I have two more waiting.  Last night I tried folding over one of the two pillows I sleep on to get myself propped up enough to breathe.  It worked pretty well.  I only fell off one time, but I actually slept until a little after 6. 
Back to Matt.  His surgery was to remove tonsils and adenoids and anything else that might be a hindrance to his health.  He has been having lots of trouble with gunky nose and infection after infection.  Antibiotics would clear up the infection for a while, but it would keep coming back.  This was the next step. 
It took quite some time for him to even be taken back to the surgery suite.  I got back to the hospital near 11:30, and they were doing the entry interview.  After that we were escorted to the playroom to wait the call.  I think it was almost 2:00 when they finally arrived.  Long time for anybody to wait, especially if you're just a kid.  Oh.  Matt did really well.  I meant me.  And his Mom. 
She finally rejoined us in the waiting room around 3. Matt's grandparents were there, so I left them to handle the final stretch.  Mom promised to let me know the results when the surgery was over.  And she did.  Posted it on Facebook, in fact.  When the doc got into the surgery he discovered something unexpected.  Seems Matt had a little rock lodged … in his nose.  Explains the recurring infections, I guess.  And why did he have a rock in his nose?  Hey.  He's a little boy.  It's what we … er … I mean "they" do.
Proverbs 26:18-19 says, "Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'" 
Father, keep healing Matt, and remind him to keep anything smaller than his elbow out of his nose.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21 – “Eyepapple”

Early morning this morning.  Even for me.  One of the little guys at Seaside is having his tonsils and adenoids and whatever else they usually go after taken out in a surgery.  He is supposed to be the first one on tap, so I'm assuming it will be around seven or shortly after.  I also assume it'll be in the outpatient surgery area of the hospital.  I'll have to get on his Mom for not giving me a call with the specific time and place.  Of course they may not have told her even yet, and it's 5:20 in the morning.  I appreciated her telling me Sunday that it was happening, though.  Some folks don't ever think about letting me know so I can get up there and have a prayer with them before it begins.  I'll just head up there in a few minutes and see what I can find.
Oh, before I go, we isolated another of Cailyn's great ways of communicating difficult words.  She went to the refrigerator yesterday and said she wanted some "eyepapple."  It took Chris a minute or two to get that she meant pineapple.  Now I know I'll probably never look at those things without thinking of that word.  Or more likely I'll remember that she had a word for it, if I could only recall what it was …
Proverbs 26:17 says, "Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own."
Father, be with little Matt during his surgery today.  And guide the hands of the surgery team.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20 – “Not what I anticipated”

We had rain again yesterday.  In fact it woke me up at 4 a.m.  Well, the thunder woke me up.  It wasn't hard to get back to sleep to the wonderful sound of the rain hitting the window.  It was still going at 6 when I got up for the day.
We made a quick trip to Houston to take Mom to get her hearing aids fixed and her ears cleaned out.  It took us awhile to get started, though.  As we were walking out the door Chris on a whim asked Mom if she had her hearing aids in her ears.  Mom checked and said, "No."  That led to a frantic search throughout the house to locate them.  Chris knew where one of them was, because it had stopped working earlier and she had put it away.  The whereabouts of other one, however, was a mystery. 
We split up and started looking.  We checked her purse.  We looked on her dresser.  We opened every drawer in her room.  We crawled around on the floor, peering under her bed and under the couch where she usually sits to watch TV.  We went through her bathroom.  And then we switched places and looked in the same places again.  Mom was ready to just buy a new one.  Chris insisted that it would show up eventually.  I was daydreaming about the many times we had to do something similar when Dad would hide things during his bout with Alzheimer's.  I finally found it, tucked away inside a pocket of one of the jackets Mom wears all the time.
We barely made our window of departure to get there on time.  Traffic was light, so we pulled into the parking garage with ten minutes to spare.  And as we left the car and headed toward the elevator, Chris and I both noticed a movement to our right.  There stood an older man next to his car's open rear door, facing away from us.  I'm really glad he was facing away from us.  I'm also really glad Mom never seemed to notice him.  Because all of a sudden he dropped his drawers, revealing his tighty whities.  Not what I anticipated seeing in the clinic's parking garage.  To his credit, he quickly reached into the back seat and pulled on some very nice slacks.  And it worked out fine.  Chris controlled herself admirably.  Oh, and Mom got all taken care of.  Her hearing aids should be ready next week.
Proverbs 26:14 says, "As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed."
Father, please let the hearing aids give Mom some relief from the frustrations of not hearing.  I know how tough it is for me, and her hearing loss is much worse than mine.  Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19 – “Missionary Day”

We had two missionaries speak at our worship time yesterday at Seaside.  Well, actually we were assigned the wives of the missionaries. One has served in China and the other in Wyoming.  The association of Baptist churches we cooperate with around Galveston County arranged for a group of missionaries to be flown in to speak in churches.  The whole service had been crafted around the missions theme, so I was kind of excited about it.  I started it out by reading a poem I found about standing at the door to God's kingdom and helping people find their way in rather than just heading inside and enjoying the benefits.    Then they were supposed to talk about ten minutes each. 
The lady from Wyoming went first.  She seemed quite tentative with her presentation.  She used a lot of churchy words and assumed the people would know a lot of what she referred to.  Not really a good idea at Seaside.  Too many diverse backgrounds.  She had a power point presentation that went pretty well except when she just read the slides to us.  The pictures of sites in Wyoming and especially wildlife were particularly well-received.  The problem was she went about 35 minutes. 
The lady from China was next.  No slides from her.  She did have a table of artifacts from China that were very interesting.  One was a pair of shoes that used to be worn by a woman with bound feet.  They couldn't have been more than four inches long.  Ouch.  Her presentation was quite engaging.  She was much more animated than the first lady.  She had obviously done this sort of thing many times.  She used some of the churchy words, too, but not as much.  Her effectiveness was in the way she engaged the audience and the way she came across as excited about her topic.  And she went for another 30 minutes or so. 
In spite of the length, it was a good day.  We had dinner on the grounds after church, so no one had to go home and cook or wait for an order at a restaurant.  And probably the best part of the day?  It rained.  Hard.  Didn't last long enough to solve our drought problems, but it was a start. 
Proverbs 26:11 says, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
Father, thanks for the missionaries who adjust their entire lifestyle to serving you in unique ways.  They get what it means to be a pastor.  Amen.