Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 30 – “A God day”

Got kind of disappointed yesterday.  Cailyn spent the night and really wanted to go to church.  I had to leave early to teach a class, but Chris was planning to bring her and Mom later since Mom appeared to be doing well.  She was up and eating breakfast by the time I had to leave.  But later she just suddenly tanked and said she couldn't hold her head up any more.  Cailyn cried when she found out she couldn't go to church, and then kept asking over and over again.  I know that upset Chris to hear her. 
At least church was pretty exciting.  We had three different families visiting who were new to Galveston.  One lady lived in Sea Isle, a couple lived in Bay Harbor and another lady was from "way" in town.  They all said they loved the worship experience and every one of them said they would definitely be back.  The "in town" lady got directions to our house so she could come to Life group Thursday.  The other lady was asking about the morning Bible study on Tuesday.  I had excited comments about everything from the Visual Verse to the "Kids up front" (that would be the praise team).  One guy mentioned he couldn't believe I used a movie clip from the Matrix to introduce the teaching.  He said he had a spiritual aha moment just this past week while he was watching the same movie.  We got to see a slide show of pictures of the Seaside Christian Academy kids doing all kinds of things – field trip to the county fair, stuffing Easter eggs, and doing art work.  We even had a cake after worship to say thank you to Mike Bell for his 14 years of service as our youth pastor.  The discernment meeting after church was good, too.  Most everybody there seemed excited about the future and the possibilities ahead of the church.  I'll take a few more like that. 
2 Peter 3:8-9 says, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
Father, thank you for good days.  And thanks for the not so good stuff that always seems to force its way in as well.  Guess it helps us appreciate the good even more.  Amen.

April 29 – “Rooting for the Yankees”

Micah had a t-ball game yesterday.  I know because we got a phone call soon after I got up and before Chris was even out of bed.  It was Micah.  He wanted to inform me that I was not allowed to wear anything that had Astros on it to his game.  Not a t-shirt, not a hat, nothing Astros.  And the reason?  "Because we are versing the Astros today."  Gotta love that all new verb usage.  Does make sense, though.  I would say my five-year-old grandson has a pretty good handle on where his DadDad's allegiances lie.  His brother plays for a team called the Rangers.  I'm helping coach that team, so I have a Rangers T-shirt and hat.  That's what I wore to Micah's last game. Unfortunately the team they were playing that day was also called the Rangers.  Apparently Micah was not happy.  So yesterday he simply sought to help me avoid such a fashion gaffe again.  I searched my closet in vain to find a t-shirt or cap that would register support for Micah's team.  I knew there would be nothing there, though.  He plays for a team named after … the dreaded Yankees.  I managed to find a black shirt.  No pinstripes, but it would do. 
The game was fun as always.  The coach of the Astros was a bit of a fanatic for a guy working with t-ballers.  He carried a bat with him wherever he went, and he had a whistle on a string around his neck.  Really?  A whistle at a baseball game?  He positioned his players as close to the batter as was allowed.  Then he instructed them to field any ground ball, then race to tag them or beat them to first base.  No throwing at all was ever mentioned for those guys.  Really teaching them to learn the game?  Not exactly.  Really teaching them to win at all costs?  Maybe.  They do need some work on tagging techniques, though.  One little guy raced over to make a tag.  He beat the runner to first base easily, and reached out with a mild slap on the back.  With his hand.  But the ball was still in his glove on the other hand.  The runner stumbled and fell to the ground and the umpire called him out, but the tag was never applied.  To their credit, our coaches didn't argue right then.  But after the inning Kel quietly informed the umpire of his mistake.  Strangely enough, the same thing happened an inning or two later.  This time we got the call.  At game's end the score was tied.  Not that the boys even knew or particularly cared.  The Astros coach sure knew, though.  He was trying to get the ump to let the "play it out" to "get a clear winner."  The ump refused and declared the game a tie.  Somehow I think I know who the winner was. 
2 Peter 1:12-15 says, "So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things."
Father, help me always remember the things that matter.  Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28 – “Mindless, madcap and Mom”

I can't even remember much about yesterday.  It was one of those days where I was supposed to be taking a day off, but they never really happen.  Especially when you are involved in the ministry.  I did some work on the sermon.  I stressed about a meeting coming up.  I worried about Mom.  I wondered about April's latest malady (Her gall bladder has apparently flared up.  Looks like it was also affected in her bout with the mystery disease.  But because it was considered a minor consideration to the life-threatening stuff, it was put on the back burner.  Now it has shifted itself forward.  But she still has a two more weeks left in the semester and she is determined to get through it before admitting to herself just how bad she may feel.  I understand that feeling).  I worked on some bill-paying – always a bit of a stress-inducer.  I tried to read a little bit, but just got through two chapters.  We left Mom watching TV on the couch for about twenty minutes and ran some errands.  That's when we decided to grab a few movies from Redbox.  That has been known to help me relax in the past.  We saw that new Mission Impossible one and he one called Tower Heist with Ben Stiller.  Mindless action-adventure and madcap comedy – great combination.  Sandwiched in between them I had a wedding rehearsal over at the San Luis hotel.  We were actually invited to the rehearsal dinner on that one, but we decided not to leave Mom alone for that long.  So much for Willie G's.
Speaking of Mom, last night was another strange one.  I don't know what all was going on, though.  She kept calling out for Chris from about 11:30 on.  Every two hours or so she cried out or was up in the bathroom.  I finally stayed up around 5:30.  Chris is trying to catch a few more winks.  Mom is still intermittently crying out, but to no one in particular.  The most recent concern has been that her teeth are sticking to her face.  That one happened last night as well, and Chris got her some water.  I went for the water this morning, but she was asleep again before I got it to her.  She has a doctor's appointment on Monday or Tuesday, so we'll just have to hang in there until then, I guess.  Mindless, madcap and Mom.  What a day.  I hope I'm still physically able (and we can afford it) some day to take an actual vacation.  You know, actually do something mindless and madcap rather than live it vicariously on the big screen.  In the meantime, the Astros are on TV at 3:00 …
2 Peter 1:10-11 says, "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Father, thank you for reassuring me about the call you have on my life.  Otherwise days like yesterday would be really overwhelming.  Amen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27 – “Different Perspective”

Tough night last night for Mom.  We heard a thumping-bumping sound coming from her bathroom.  When we got there she was sitting on the toilet OK, but she had slipped in the process and smacked her head against one of the handrails.  Seems that when she went to bed she somehow pushed her house shoes into the closet.  She's used to them being right next to the bed, so when they weren't there she ventured out in just her socks.  Not that great an idea when the floor is tile.  She will for sure be sore today.  We've been debating making a call to the neurologist to see if there is anything else we can be doing.  The problem is the lack of consistency of the symptoms.  We're wondering if it's pretty much all a result of the dementia. 
Jachin was scheduled to have a baseball game last night in LaMarque.  When we arrived, however, the league president said he didn't know anything about a game with us.  There were no umpires and the LaMarque team we were supposed to play wasn't coming.  I think the boys were still young enough that they were OK with just hanging out and playing catch with each other for a while.  Coach Kel was extremely frustrated, though.  He was furiously making phone calls to try to salvage something out of the evening. 
I remember way back when I was playing baseball as a kid.  The only time other than rainouts that we had a game canceled was when one of the kids in the league was drowned.  If I remember right he was the right-handed one of a set of identical twins.  His brother was left-handed.  In Little League they had been greatly feared as power hitters.  They were in a different region than I was, but we had to play them in the all-star game, and they both hit crushing home runs over the lights.  Needless to say they absolutely destroyed us.  That was the game where we finally got a runner to third base only to have their third baseman fake a throw to first on a ground ball and then turn around and tag the guy out.  It was a great play, and the third baseman and I became friends when we played together in Pony League.  About the only positive memory I have of that game was a stop I made in the hole between short and third.  I didn't bother making the throw, but it was a good stop.  Anyway, Jerry died when we were in Pony League and the games were canceled in his memory.  The adults all understood and respected the decision.  The kids, on the other hand all wanted to play in his memory.  Different perspective, I guess. 
Remembering that different perspective has shaped the way I approach a lot of things.  When there are differing opinions in a church discussion, for example, I try to listen to both perspectives without making a judgment one way or the other.  Then I look for ways to draw the two perspectives closer to a center ground so no one has to feel like they lost.  Sometimes that's very difficult to do.  I have even been accused of trying to avoid issues, because I often am feverishly writing down notes and ideas.  I'm just not good enough to do it all in my head any more.   It is a time-consuming effort, but very much worth it when it is successful.
2 Peter 1:5-9 says, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."
Father, help me be a perspective-seer and consensus-builder.  Amen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26 – “Work day”

I suppose every now and then a person has to put in a day of extended study.  By study in my case I mean sitting at the computer doing one task after another after another to the point that Chris has to come in and remind me to get up and walk around.  I appreciate the love and concern behind her commands, but it does cause me to glitch in my focus on whatever I am doing at the time, which is just the point according to her vast array of medical and wives-tale knowledge.  Be that as it may, I did get quite a bit done.
I spent a long time mapping out the outline for the sermon on Sunday.  That I work on throughout the week anyway, so I try to get the rough draft down as early in the week as possible.   It helps that we are working through a specific book of the Bible.  Esther just seems to lend itself to storytelling and easy applications. 
I also got a lesson together to use for the youth Bible study on Wednesday.  Our youth pastor resigned, so I wanted to have something ready to go if needed.  As it turned out he had something ready for last night.  He did a look at the future with the group of juniors and seniors in high school that was there.  Did a good job with it, too.  I found out that next week is covered with a service project, so I'll use the lesson I prepared the week after that.  Should be fun.
Youth camp is an area that volunteers will be covering this summer, so I spent some time downloading the camp information and getting familiar with some of the new stuff they are requiring this year.  The newest thing is a form we have to fill out indicating that our counselors have all had a background check run on them and none of them are listed in the national sex offenders data base.  Interesting advancement. 
The thing that took the most time was preparing for a meeting with the team at church that will be coordinating administrative stuff.  Their purpose is to encourage communication and do what they can to help the other teams be more effective.  As we talked it looked more and more like they would be serving almost like a group of elders.  Sounded kind of biblical.  They encouraged me to go forward with adjusting our bylaws to reflect the difference between the church as the Body of Christ and as an organization in America.  Chris says I'm the only one on the face of the earth that sees the difference.  Hey, I embrace my uniqueness.  Nobody ever accused me of being particularly ordinary.
2 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."
Father, thank you for being the "Everything-we-need" Provider.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25 – “Technology and Tune-writing”

One of the things Cailyn loves to do when she is over here involves my phone.  It goes without saying, I guess, that she likes to play Angry Birds.  I think that's a staple among kids of her generation.  OK, so I wanted to be the first to say that time-honored phrase in reference to her antics.  I know it won't be long before her Mommy and Daddy discover just how appropriate the expression can be.  Of course, most kids are already working on their high scores and blowing through level after level.  Not so much Cailyn.  It's not that she isn't good at the game.  Between her and Micah they have pretty much defeated every level there is on my phone.  I know I sure haven't.  It's just that she thinks it's funny to pull the little slingshot thing backwards and watch the bird fly off into the nothingness on the opposite side of the screen.  It might have something to do with the concern she obviously feel for the pigs when they get squished and pop like zits.  She has such a tender heart, you know. 
Her other favorite activity on my phone comes when she moves over to my music stash.  She knows just how to get there, and just how to manipulate the screen so that it reveals her absolute favorite album, Action Bible Songs for Kids.  It's what she calls "The Jesus Songs."  She's getting pretty good at learning them, too.  Oh, she already down songs like "Jesus Loves Me."  She informed us that "Daddy sings that one."  She also likes the ABC Song and the one Chris made up to help her learn to spell her name.  It goes to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club.  "C-A-I-L-Y-N, Cailyn is her name."  She gets the C and the L-Y-N.  Won't be long. 
Yesterday we listened to the Action Songs over and over for about 30 or 45 minutes.  Classics like Father Abraham.  That's the one we used to get Mom to do some arm exercises at the dinner table.  Surprisingly enough, it worked.  "Right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, chin up."  She was exhausted by the time the song ended.  Have to remember that one.  Later one, when we were outside, I heard Cailyn humming, so I sidled over as casual as I could and listened.  She was singing one of the songs from the cd.  It goes, "Behold, Behold, I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock."  The Cailyn version had a few slight adaptations.  She quite creatively incorporated the words and tune from another all time favorite.  Her result went something like, "E-old, e-old, Stand at a door.  Knock, knock, knock," (and here she flowed naturally into the other tune) "here, and knock, knock there, here a knock, there a knock …"  Well, you get the idea, I'm sure.  Very cute.  Wildly creative.  That's my girl.
1 Peter 5:10-11 says, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."
Father, thank you for implanting into Cailyn a love of music.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24 – “Long night”

I had a serious case of the aching arms yesterday.  Sounds more like a country western song than an arthritis ailment, doesn't it?  I even took a pain pill during the day to take some of the edge off.  I didn't have too much trouble handling it OK when it was just my left elbow giving me fits, but when both of them started it was highly distracting.  It was very hard to concentrate, but I did at least get started on the sermon.  And I took my weekly trip through two sets of financial books to keep them reconciled.  I got the ceremony written for the wedding I have this weekend.  And I began getting together a youth camp file to help out the volunteers in planning for the summer.  Sounds like a lot, and I guess it was, but it sure felt like all I could think about was the ache in my elbows.  Man, I felt old. 
We were very encouraged about Mom, though.  She actually got up around 9:00 and even made it to Libbie's Place, not without some complaints.  Chris explained to the director about how she was responding better to firm directive comments rather than options.  Chris picked her up early because she had a routine appointment with the ophthalmologist.  The Libbie's Place staff said she did very well and participated in just about everything they did.  As they walked out the door, however, one of them called out, "Have a good visit at the eye doctor."  Uh-oh.  There was that "D" word. 
Sure enough, when Chris got her all strapped in and they were heading away in the car, Mom said, "Where are we going?" 
Chris told her, and suddenly she was stricken with "the worst pain ever" in her mouth.  Chris explained that they were not going to the dentist. 
That brought a brief look of confusion, then a shift in focus.  "Oh, it's the worst pain ever," she continued. 
Chris asked where the pain was now.  "Where?" she replied, "You know where." 
"No, I don't," was Chris' rebuttal.
And Mom's answer?  "It's my nose."
OK.  I know that's not funny, but I confess I did chuckle when Chris told me about it.  That one came out of nowhere.  They did make it to the "EYE" doctor appointment with no further ado.  Once here, however, the struggle began anew.  Mom made it up the ramp and into the building and plopped down hard into a chair.  And then the groaning began.  Chris said quite a few eyes were upon them by the time they were called back.  The exam proved a bit of a chore convincing Mom that she had to keep her eyes open, but she finally made it through, and they headed for the lobby.  Before they got to the door, though, Mom slumped into a near-squat, like she does off and on here at home to show us she is tired or doesn't want to do something.  She ran into a problem, though.  She somehow got one leg twisted behind the other and couldn't get them righted again, so she ended up sitting on the floor.  Of course that brought staffers and doctors alike running to offer assistance.  Chris assured them that we had been to the doctor just recently and they had given her a clean bill of physical health.  She explained that their bottom line assessment was that Mom was periodically having some kind of cognitive disconnect that was causing her to forget how to do the simplest of actions.  In most cases after waiting a period of time she does fine.  It is incredibly frustrating for us, so I'm sure it is beyond annoying for her.
They made it home and all seemed to level out for the evening.  She watched the Astros game with me and even commented on how poorly they were doing.  She does know some baseball.  Around ten thirty she bade us good night and we all went to bed.  And then around 1 a.m. we heard her cry out.  She was calling for Chris, but the sound was coming from her bathroom.  We jumped up to check on her, and sure enough, she was sitting on the floor.  Apparently she had lost her balance.  We helped her up and back into bed, but she was on a roll then.  She was very confused about what was happening to her and what she should do about it.  We both talked to her until she calmed down, assuring her that the thing she needed to do next was get some sleep.  We finally headed back to bed, but Chris had to return at least once to reassure her.  Can you say, "Long night"?
1 Peter 5:8-9 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
Father, sorry for the broken record prayers, but Mom sure needs your comfort.  I guess Chris and I do, too.  Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23 – “Good Day / Bad Day”

Yesterday was one of those good news / bad news kind of days. 
It was a bad day.  Satan is still doing his best to wrangle his way into people's lives.
It was a good day.  The Holy Spirit is alive and well and more powerful than ever.
It was a bad day.  Our reigning youth pastor Mike resigned to do more adult-centered ministry at the church. 
It was a good day.  We had a good-great time of prayer for him and the youth ministry.  He plans to start a new life group in his home on Monday nights in Jamaica Beach – a real answer to a long-time prayer for Seaside.
It was a bad day.  I had to stay after church for some meetings.  Chris didn't even attempt to get Mom to come.  Mom's still recuperating from that dental surgery, and every day feels like a bad one to her right now.
It was a good day.  One of the meetings was with the volunteers who will be taking up the slack on youth camp this year.  We are looking at going to a different site a bit closer to home to save some money.
It was a bad day.  I had to stop at McAlister's on my way home to pick up lunch.  Not that I don't like McAlister's.  I do.  It was just one more thing that had to be done.
It was a good day.  At McAlister's I saw a guy there who grew up the neighborhood with me.
It was a bad day.  I didn't get home until after one o'clock.
It was a good day.  I got to go fishing.
It was a bad day.  I had to miss much of the Astros game.
It was a good day.  I saw the grand slam home run, and they ended up winning 12-0.
It was a good day.  Did I mention I got to go fishing?
It was a bad day.  Both of my elbows hurt so bad by the time I got home that I could barely lift them.  Thank you, RA.
It was a good day.  I got to go fishing.
It was a bad day.  I slipped on the rocks on my way out of the water and banged up my knee.
It was a good day.  I got to go fishing.  And had a pretty good catch – five or six big whiting, a few specs, a nice black drum.  I released the sheephead.  Too much trouble to clean for not enough meat.
It was a bad day.   I ended up having to replace a hook eight different times.  Gotta get some better quality hooks.
It was a good day.  Good wins.  Again.
1 Peter 5:6-8 – "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
Father, thank you for the life you gave me.  Good and bad.  Good wins.  Amen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22 – “The trip”

So what does a "typical day" look like at your house?  Is it boring? Never a dull moment?  Unexpected treasures?  Nothing to talk about?  None of the above?
As I ponder the depths of that question I realize that at the Vaughan house the only possible answer is "All of the above."  Some days we are entertained by the presence of Cailyn.  She can take us on trips without ever leaving the comfort of "her" bedroom.  In fact the bed is the car.  The most recent journey was to the grocery store to pick up a few items on a list she made herself.  And which only she could read, I might add.  "Milk and chicken and chicken fingers" was the last one.  And the cost of the milk was three dollars, which she just happened to have exact change for in her purse.  When we arrived at the store I asked if we needed a shopping basket.  And I was overjoyed when she agreed.  See I wanted to ride in the basket, so I pretended to crawl in, sprawled on my back and with the best flourish I could muster, said, "Whee.  Let's go shopping."  She wasn't amused.  Well, actually she was amused, but in the same way a parent might be amused at the silly antics of a precocious child when the antics are simply not acceptable for the time or place.  She clucked her tongue, shook her finger at me, and said, "No, no, DadDad.  You're just too big for the basket.  You have to walk by the side and keep you hand on the basket, OK?"  Sadly, I agreed, and climbed out.  It was a bit more difficult to climb out of an imaginary basket than it was to get into one, however.  She had to help me when my foot got stuck.  The crisis was but a brief one, though, and the shopping continued.  She certainly seemed to know her way around WalMart.  Of course that's where we were.  No typical day in Galveston can pass without some excuse for a trip to WalMart.  Of course she had big plans for stopping by Target as well.  And Kroger's.  Can't spend all our money in one place, you know.  Fortunately the front door creaked open before we had to complete our rounds.  That's like the final bell in a boxing match.  Everything stops and we run to the front door to see who it is.  And the real presence of Mommy usually trumps the pretend WalMart greeter any day.  I think there's a sermon illustration in there somewhere. 
1 Peter 5:1-4 says, "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away."
Father, thank you for the unusual usual days you give us here.  Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21 – “Hail”

We made a quick trip to Bay City yesterday.  Had to do some running around related to Chris becoming executor of her mother's estate.  It has never been settled even a year and a half after she died.  I for one am so ready for all this to be over with. 
Our drive home was the exciting part of the journey.  We were trying to get to Galveston before the line of thunderstorms that was rapidly approaching.  Didn't quite make it.  Somewhere on 2004 between Lake Jackson and Hitchcock the bottom dropped out of the sky.  Didn't take long before the rain was making just a little bit more noise than it should.  We started paying closer attention and pretty soon we could see the hail pellets bouncing off the hood.  Most of them were pea-sized, so it wasn't too bad.  But some of what was hitting the roof sure sounded larger than that.  When Chris was finally able to speed up wee managed to get just ahead of it.  In fact by "just ahead" I mean "only just."  We got stopped by a red light in Hitchcock at Highway 6 and within seconds the hail was back.  That's a long light, too, especially when you're watching the hail accumulate all around you.  By the time the light turned green we were right in the middle of the fray.  It stayed with us all the way to Interstate 45. 
Once we got on the freeway we thought maybe we could outrun it again.  Traffic was much slower than usual, but it was still moving pretty well.  And the hail was still coming down.  At one point it got a little more intense and suddenly we were facing a string of red lights ahead of us.  People were pulling over to stop under the overpass we were approaching.  Fine.  That would give us an opportunity to get around them.  But no.  By the time we got to the overpass the parking lane was full.  Three cars were stopped in the inside lane directly in front of us.  We pulled up behind the last car in line, thinking that they would move on.  But they didn't.  They couldn't because the cars in front of them wouldn't.  And then the cars in the middle lane began to stop.  And then the outside lane.  And then the stopping lane on the outside.  Traffic was at a standstill with everyone trying to huddle together under the overpass.  I'm all for getting to know your neighbor, you know, being close friends and all.  But that was a little ridiculous.  We were wondering just how long it would take for someone behind us to blink or glance at the hail for just long enough to crash into the last car, which would start a chain reaction wreck that would keep everyone out in the rain for hours.  It didn't take long for the cars that had to stop in the hail to start honking, though.  And finally even the cars in front of us started to see the folly of stopping in a lane of traffic on a major freeway, even if there was a hailstorm going on.  Slowly the cars began to twist their way back onto the freeway and into the storm, until finally we were able to make a break for it as well.  We figured that all we had to do was make it over the causeway and the hail would probably stop.  We did.  And it did.  So good to be back on the island.
1 Peter 4:12-13 says, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
Father, please somehow communicate to Mom that the end result of her suffering now will allow her to appreciate your glory so much more.  I know it's not the same as it was for the folks Peter was talking to, but she could sure use one of your special encouragement hugs.  Amen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20 – “It’s in the tooth”

Mom was feeling kind of low yesterday.  She was complaining of some kind of pain that she couldn't pinpoint and generally feeling lousy.  She ate some breakfast, but when I went in to check on her she was kind of sprawled out on the table.  We talked for a few minutes, and then she said, "I'm ready to go on and be with God." 
I paused for a second or two to see if she would follow up on that one at all.  When I met with just silence I responded, "Well, that's a good thing.  It's good that you're ready to be with him.  It's just obviously not quite time yet."
She sighed a bit and readjusted her position in the chair, swirling the remnants of her Special K in her bowl of milk.  She thought about that for a while, then commented, "But I'm old.  Why isn't it time yet?"
I considered the array of possible answers to that one.  Finally I settled on, "What does that have to do with it?  God obviously has something else for you to do around here."
Again she pondered, stirring, stirring.  And her reply, "What?  What could he possibly have for me to do?"
I was afraid she would ask that.  I thought through another long list of possibilities.  Getting back into crocheting afghans for people was a possibility, but she has had so much trouble with her fingers hurting that I was afraid she might just scoff at that one.  I considered mentioning her recent drive to start reading the bible again.  But then a different idea came to mind.  "Wait a minute," I said, "I have it.  I know the answer."
She sat up and looked my direction with a quizzical look on her face.
"No, really.  Maybe, just maybe, it's so you can teach Cailyn how to wear all those classy earrings you have in there."
"Maybe so," she chuckled, with just the trace of a twinkle in her eye, "Maybe so."  Haven't seen that from her in a long time. 
She was still in a lot of pain, though, so we canceled my trip to the hearing doc in Houston so we could get her into the dentist to check the filling he just did last week.  We figured that was as good a place as any to start trying to narrow down what might be going on.  After an array of deadening strikes to her bottom jaw, he began the exam under the assumption that a root canal would probably be in order to the tune of $650 or so.  But to his surprise, the assessment showed nothing.  Instead he found two teeth in the upper jaw that were actually broken right at the gum line.  That was unexpected.  And it meant a trip across the street to the oral surgeon, where, for the new low price of just $512, he would pull the two offending teeth.  Hours later, after beginning the new regimen of antibiotics and pain meds, she finally settled into bed for the night. 
So what might today bring?  More pain?  Problem solved?  One step down, untold others to go?  Hey, it's a new day.  It's morning.  And joy comes in the morning.
1 Peter 4:9-11 says, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
Father, please bring some relief to Mom today.  Amen.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19 – “Fashion expertise”

Mom had another bad day yesterday.  At least until it was time to go to bed.  She started the day saying she just couldn't do anything.  Chris asked her to sit up in bed and she said she couldn't remember how.  She couldn't remember how to use her arms or how to walk either.  Then thirty minutes later she gets up by herself and goes to the bathroom.  Chris called the doctor first thing to see how her blood work results went last week.  When they finally called back, they said the blood work was all completely normal.  It's like something is somehow misfiring in her brain.  That left the only dementia as an explanation.  Chris is not completely convinced yet.  About 9:30 last night we got simultaneous phone calls going on with Josh to tell us about their buying a house in San Antonio and with Cailyn to tell us about getting her ears pierced.  Then Mom really perked up.  She moved around on her own and even talked to us.  But it was time to go to bed.  She didn't fight that or anything.  She seemed ready as well.  But it was like she had just started her day.  I guess her own personal "start to the day time" has progressed from three in the afternoon to 9:30 at night, with bedtime remaining at around ten.  That doesn't leave much time to experience the day. 
Cailyn was great with her the other day when Chris went to Bay City.  They had breakfast together.  Special K and Fruit Loops.  Great combination.  I think Mom wanted to complain about how bad she felt, but Cailyn didn't let her.  She kept urging her on, "Only a few more bites, OK MeeMaw?"  After breakfast Cailyn decided she wanted to help MeeMaw get dressed.  I went into the bedroom to pick out some clothes.  Thought I did a pretty good job, too.  Purple pants.  A shirt with purple in it (I hoped).  But when Cailyn arrived on scene I was informed that I had chosen the wrong shirt.  "No, DadDad.  Not that one.  She needs the sparkly one."  Sparkly.  That's not how I would have described any of the shirts I had seen in the pile.  But I stepped back and let her have a look.  Sure enough, she came out with a shirt that appeared to be purple (best as I could tell).  And it had some little sequin-looking, sparkly things on it.  There you go.  That's why I leave the fashion decisions to the experts.  I can't imagine what it's going to be like now that Cailyn has pierced ears.  Guess next they'll be sharing jewelry.  Wonder if those frog earrings will fit Cailyn?
1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
Father, thank you for giving me the chance to watch the bond between Cailyn and Mom.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18 – “At the Ball”

Yesterday was my day with Cailyn.  Well, and with Mom.  Chris went back to Bay City and Nathan was working and April was in clinicals, so I got to be the designated baby sitter for the day.  And it was quite an experience, I might add.  Wild and random games and comments, and all before 9:30 in the morning.  A time or two I wondered if I would be able to make it until Chris got home.  Check out some of the highlights.
We started the day outside.  Not that unusual.  Cailyn loves running barefoot through the grass, smelling the flowers, and searching for bugs.  Hey, two out of three girly things is not bad when you're just three years old.  Suddenly she plopped down onto the grass and patted the spot next to her, saying, "Sit here, DadDad."  Of course I complied.  Pensively she looked up at me and said, "DadDad, you know what?  There was no phone and there was no computer and there was no TV when my Daddy was a little boy." 
"Oh, really?" I replied. 
"Yes," she assured me, "and now he's a big boy." 
Hmm.  I was there and I certainly don't remember any such abuse, although I do remember not having a computer when I was a boy.  I remember when the telephone was wired to the wall, too, and when the TV had no colors except black and white and shades of gray. 
I think she was getting hungry when she picked one of the thousands of periwinkle flowers and again invited me to sit down with her, this time in the driveway.  Apparently she was going to prepare a salad.  She pulled out the old set of keys we have for her to play with, and they became instead a set of Ginsu knives.  She used them to carefully slice the flower into tiny, bite-sized pieces, saying, "Look DadDad.  These are our vegetables."  Dollar grass became the greens, and the flowering part of dollar grass that looks like broccoli became, well, broccoli.  Voila … Periwinkle salad. 
I got a little worried when she shifted her attention to snails.  I didn't want any of them in my salad.  But as it turned out she was just concerned about their well-being.  We have thousands of snails in the various flower beds around the house.  Occasionally we send them on secret missions or even vacations into the middle of the street.  Other times we pretend we are on a cruise ship and offer them buffets of all they can eat snail bait.  Yesterday, though, she was in that thoughtful mood.  "DadDad," she noted, "see that snail right there?  Right there.  That one, see it?  See it?"  Obviously I wasn't moving fast enough.  The snail was racing from my field of vision before I could focus.  I did finally locate the exact one she meant, off by itself near the oleander bush.  "Yes, DadDad.  That's the one.  He needs a brother.  Can you give him a brother?"  I plucked another one from nearby and placed it next to the lonely critter.  Her "Thank you, DadDad" was accompanied by a clearly audible sigh.  Mine, not hers.  Why is it that in her world pretty much every bug is a guy, save for the occasional Mommy doodle bug?  Is that some inherent female thing, to see insects as guys … and perhaps the other way around?  Surely not.
For me the highlight of the day was our trip to the Ball.  That started out when we headed upstairs on the deck.  Fritz and Heidi dutifully followed.  Faced with that large empty space – a veritable blank canvas for our little artist – Cailyn almost immediately began spinning around and around in circles.  "I doing my ballerina dance at the Ball, DadDad."  I was content to watch her and bask in the delight on her face.  But that didn't last long.  A new idea struck her, and she stopped dead in her tracks.  "Dance with me, DadDad," was her pleas, with arms outstretched, head tilted, and a coy grin on her face.  Now how could a grandfather refuse an offer like that?  I took her hands and she began to spin again, this time leaning back as far as she could, trusting me to hold her up, shaking her head from side to side, tossing her hair in the wind.  Where did she learn this stuff, anyway?  My guess was a Disney princess movie, but I was never awake for the ballroom scenes so I can't be sure.  We got tickled when we noticed Fritz trying to get Heidi to dance with him.  He crouched low before her and barked his intentions.  She crouched back – as much as a dachshund can crouch – and the two of then frolicked around the deck as well.  It truly was a ballroom.  And who needed music anyway?  We all had something going on in our heads.  The reverie continued until Fritz decided he wanted to cut in on us and dance with Cailyn.  He jumped up onto her every time she spun in his direction.  And she laughed.  And the unrestrained laughter of a three year old girl playing out her ballroom fantasies as a princess simply cannot be surpassed. 
1 Peter 4:1-2 says, "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."
Father, I sure missed Chris yesterday.  Thank you for taking the sting out by giving Cailyn and Mom and I such a peaceful day.  Amen.