Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why Nature has no New Year...

Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year.  Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.  ~Thomas Mann

Why DOESN’T nature celebrate New Year’s?  Babbling brooks don’t reverse and flow the opposite way, the earth’s rotation doesn’t change, and the phases of the moon don’t reset.  December 31st is of no concern to the mountains, oceans, or seas.  So, why do we need to mark the passage of another 365 days?  Why do we, human beings, think we are somehow starting fresh when we wake up on January 1st?

It’s actually quite simple; we long for a “fresh start” because we still search for the missing piece to our lives, and we think that it takes becoming our ideal selves in order to find that piece.  So, we see the greatest opportunity for change to be a brand new calendar year.

First we must acknowledge that there is a big difference between human beings and nature.  Nature was designed by God to reflect his power and majesty.  Nature has, from the beginning, and still to this day, served the purpose of worshiping God and revealing his glory. 

Man, however, was created to be a companion to God; designed in God’s own image with a mind and the ability to choose.  Unfortunately, man chose NOT to glorify God; man chose to glorify and worship himself.  Because of man’s decision to blatantly defy God, his creator, man is left with a missing part.  His heart cannot be completely filled until he can again live as one with God; undefiled and in submission to the one who designed and created him.

So now, our brains and our hearts are in conflict with one another.  Our brains want us to be god of our own lives.  We make choices that we think will make us happy, that we think will bring us peace; choices that God has specifically given us instructions NOT to make.   This leaves an emptiness in our hearts because our truest companion, God himself, is separated from us; leaving a hole in our hearts.

Evie has a hole in her heart.  Here is the basic description of what happens and what will eventually happen over time because of this hole, if we do not fill it.
Blood is normally pumped through the chambers of the heart in the process of circulating throughout the body.  But, because Evie has a hole in heart, one of the chambers gets a little bit of blood that trickles back in rather than getting pumped all the way back through.  Over time, that little bit of blood will become a larger amount of blood as microscopic amounts trickle back into the lower chamber with each pump.  The heart wants to get that blood out of the chamber, so it will work harder and harder to do so, and will start to get bigger and harden; just like the muscles in a body-builder!  As the body-builder works harder and lifts heavier weights, his or her muscles grow tougher and bigger.

People with a hole in their heart need to have that hole filled in order to keep the heart healthy and prevent that hardening process from taking place.  It’s a fairly simple process during which a scope is sent up through the artery in the leg and then a small balloon like device will inflate and fill the heart.  The patient stays over-night and has an ultrasound the next day to ensure that the balloon-like devise is still in place and functioning properly.  The patient will have to return for check-ups with the cardiologist every few weeks, and then every few months…and gradually the patient will not have to check in frequently with the cardiologist anymore as long as everything stays healthy and functions properly.
So, what does this have to do with New Year’s Eve?  I guess I’m trying to figure out how each person can fill the hole in their heart with God so that he or she never has to have another BIG New Year’s Resolution.  

Let’s talk about me, as an example.  I, as a human, have a missing piece of my heart because I have chosen to try to play God in my life.  I make selfish decisions, and am tempted to do things that God has told me specifically not to do.  The hole in my heart allows sin to continue to seep back into my life, little by little, with each beat of my heart. 
Bah-boom…if I get a nice new phone, I’ll feel better.
Bah-boom…I don’t feel pretty enough; I need someone to give me attention, and that will make me feel better.
Bah-boom…I’m feeling stressed out; I should go shopping and buy myself something new, that will make me feel better.

Meanwhile, my heart works harder and harder to rid itself of the sin that is seeping back in through the hole.  It grows tougher and stronger because of all the extra work it’s doing, and that makes me grow tired and stressed.

What I need to do, actually, to fill that hole once and for all is allow God back in to my life…as God, not just as who I think God should be.  

I need to renew my understanding of God’s word; his instructions for my life daily, just like a check-up with my cardiologist to ensure that balloon is still filling the hole and no sin is seeping back into my heart.  

I need to pray daily, and keep my communication with my ‘cardiologist’ open and honest so I can listen to guidance on how to live my life and keep my heart healthy.  

In short, the renewal that happens on New Year’s Eve for many is not enough to heal our heart condition.  We must ensure that we celebrate New Day’s Eve.  God even created nature to give us a day and a night; a distinct time that is punctuated by the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate our bodies and minds.   

Let’s start each day, let’s recognize each sunrise, as what it is:  a chance to begin again.  

Nature understands that…why don’t we?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Evie Can Run~A Reflection on Abilities rather than Disabilities

Have you ever seen a part of your life from an entirely different perspective than you are used to seeing it?  How did it make you feel?  Relieved?  Guilty?  Lucky?

Evie and her therapeutic horseback riding partner; I’ll call her Sarah, have been in the same “lesson” time-slot for about 2 years now.  That means we’ve gotten pretty familiar with Sarah, and she and Evie have a good working relationship together.  Sarah has cerebral palsy; for the most part, in the context in which we spend time with her, we only see the condition affect her walking and gait.  

Earlier in this past fall season at one of the therapy sessions, I was telling Sarah’s father about an incident, and in my narration I said something to the respect of, “Evie was running…”.  Sarah looked at me and said, “Evie can run?”  In her voice, on her face, I recognized an unmistakable sense of shock that could only mean one thing, “All this time I thought we were the equals, but she can run, and I can’t.”

I responded the best way I knew how by saying, “She can, but that doesn’t mean she should.”

Sarah looked at her father and said, “Dad..?” and ran out of the barn, her voice trailing off with no words left to say.

Sarah envied Evie.

In a world where I have to focus on her deficits; what she CAN’T do, in order to gain access to services and therapies for Evie, I had never imagined another child wishing she could do something that Evie could.  While she can’t see, can’t be understood by strangers 70% of the time when she speaks, can’t tie her shoes, can’t dress herself without some assistance, and can’t complete three unrelated activities after being directed to (these are the types of questions we have to answer in order to determine her eligibility for services)…Evie CAN run.

So, in spite of the fact that I cringe when I see Evie running, and I typically need to reach for the bottle of antacid tablets and say a quick prayer for her safety if she breaks her normal speed of 2.6 mph; Evie can do something that another child can’t.  I may have “known” that in my head, but I hadn’t considered it from another child’s unique perspective; from a child who can’t run.  

Every once in a while, I think we all need to look at our own deficits or burdens through the lens of someone who wishes she could do what we can do.  A mom who can stay home with her kids during the day might wish she could have a reason to get out and talk to other adults at a job; while a mom who gets run ragged during the day at her job, might wish she could stay home and enjoy a day with her kids without worrying about meeting deadlines or managing disgruntled employees and clients.  A person who lives in a small house with tight quarters might wish to have a larger home to spread out in, while the person who lives in the larger home is wishing to have a smaller place with less space to have to clean and maintain. 

Could it be that there is always a different way of looking at our circumstances? 

Would this world be a better place if we each would take a moment and consider what we have that others may only wish they had?

What is one blessing in your life that you know you often take for granted? 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Going on a Bear Hunt~How to Get your Child to Drink a Charcoal Milkshake

I’d like to think it will never happen again, but I've discovered that I’m human and I can make mistakes…BIG mistakes…

It was September of 2007.  I was going to be a returning student seeking a degree in Special Education at Edgewood College.  This day was my FIRST official day of class.  I was quickly getting Evie ready for daycare and Jeff was getting himself ready for work.  

Evie was on two medications for her blood pressure at the time. Because she was still quite young, only three years old, she was getting the liquid versions of those medications.  At that particular point in time, we had just increased a dosage and both of the medications were in the same sized bottles.  Same color bottle, same size bottle, taken at the same time…for those you keeping score at home, you know that this can equal TROUBLE.

I quickly squirted the first syringe full of medicine into her mouth.  I noted the bluish and bubbly consistency of the medicine.  Then I squirted the second syringe full of medicine in and my heart stopped.  I had just given her three times the dosage of one of her medications.  The blue one, the blue one, the blue one; it was only supposed to be half a syringe and I had just given her waaaaayyy too much. 

“Jeff!!!!  I just gave her the wrong one!”  I didn't know what to do.  I didn't know where to go first.  I thought, at first, it was going to have an immediate effect on her, but then I realized that it would take a while to set in. 

I picked up the phone and called 911 while saying in a strained whisper to myself, “What did I just do?  What did I just do?” 

The operator at 911 said she’d call Poison Control; she stayed on the line with me to listen to our dialogue.  The Poison Control operator did some quick calculations using Evie’s weight, age and the dosage she had received.  To my horror I heard her say to the dispatcher, “You’ll want to get an ambulance over there, she’s at risk for….”

The ambulance came, we decided that Jeff would go in the ambulance to the hospital and I’d call my professors to explain why I’d be missing the first day of class.  Then I followed behind to arrive in the ER shortly after they had been admitted. 

Next we had to feed Evie charcoal.  Have you ever had to feed your child charcoal?  It’s pretty surreal.  I’m sure many of us would HATE to find our child with a blacked, soot-filled smile…and yet we had to do this voluntarily!  

The staff mixed the charcoal in with chocolate milk.  They said it was how they normally got kids to drink it…a charcoal milkshake.  However, Evie did not drink from a straw yet, and after two sips of the charcoal milkshake, she determined this was not her beverage of choice.  The nurse informed us that if we couldn't get her to drink it fairly quickly, they would have to pump her stomach.

I looked at the nurse and said, “Do you have any syringes?”  The nurse confirmed she did.  “We can get her to drink anything out of a syringe.”

The nurse quickly brought back a large syringe and we sucked up some of the milkshake into it. 

“Okay, Evie!  We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one…Uh-oh!  Mud!  Brown gooey mud!  Can’t go over it, can’t go under it…we’ll have to EAT IT!!!!”

And down went the first syringe full of charcoal milkshake.

One “bear-hunt” chant at a time, one syringe full of charcoal milkshake at a time, and we had that beverage polished off. 

“Can I call you guys the next time we need to feed this to a toddler?”  The nurse asked. 

You betcha…

Evie, circa 3 Years Old
Evie was admitted to the hospital for observation for the day.  They wanted to ensure there wasn't a reaction before the “half life” of the medication had come and gone.  There were no effects of note, and for that we were extremely thankful. 

The next morning, I went in to wake up Evie for another day.  She was still in diapers at that time, and I’ll never forget the vision of seeing how charcoal comes OUT of the body.  There was blacked soot in her diaper, up the back of her pj's, and on the sheet of her crib.  I had those little pj's as a future reminder to go slow, pay attention, and clearly mark all of our medications.

  • Have you ever had to pull any miracles out of your bag-of-tricks as a parent?
  • Have you ever felt like a failure, having done something that put your child in immediate danger?
  • How do you manage the volume of medications you have to give to a loved one with special medical conditions?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Legend of the Owl~This may be Long, but it's Extremely Entertaining....

Not everyone knows that I have tattoos; furthermore, not everyone knows that one of tattoos, on my ankle, is an owl.  Since I like to be "unique" and "original", it was a crushing blow to me that owls became trendy and mainstream to the public a couple of years ago.  I believe that the root of MY love for owls is probably one of the best stories ever.  (Shocker, right?  Otherwise, would I be blogging about it?)  Sit back, relax, enjoy a cup of Christmas Tea, and I'll tell you about my legendary visit from an owl.

As I was growing up, my sister, and two cousins spent many, many wonderful summers at my Grandma Ev and Grandpa Ed's house on Owl Lake in Wisconsin.  Our summers were filled with days in the lake; swimming, fishing, and boating.  We took long "tick-filled" walks around the area; when we were little, Grandma would be the caboose of our walking train, and as we got older we would terrorize the older community in the area by blasting our radio with AC/DC, Cinderella and Guns and Roses.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

For Those Who May Be Turning 40 Today

  • If you were a toddler who loved Tony Nano (Tony Orlando), you may be turning 40 today. 
  • If you were too scared to sleep in your own room on Sycamore Street because of a Pink Panther book, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you know where your seat is…you always know where your seat is, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If your nickname is Punkin, or Tessie, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you had to run to your grandparent’s house because your little sister was stuck in a snow bank, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you had posters of John Taylor, and Andre Agassi in your childhood bedroom, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you ever starred in any audio recordings of silly stories created by you, your sister and cousins, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you suffer from coulrophobia, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you lost your beloved cat Tigger this year, and along with him, lost a little piece of your heart, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you suffer from onomatophobia, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you’ve astounded everyone you know with your weight-loss and commitment to running, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you are a master of the viola, and teach others how to play it, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If over half of your Facebook friends are the youth (now adults) who you helped inspire through your faith in God, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you married your first boyfriend, and he’s still your best friend, and you waited as long as God asked you to before bringing him into your life, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you’re one of your nieces favorite people in the whole wide world, you may be turning 40 today. 
  • If your family adores you and cherishes you as a rare gem, you may be turning 40 today.
  • If you’re my one and only sister, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, you ARE turning 40 today, and I can’t wait to see you and celebrate with you.
Happy Birthday, Jess!!! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve: The Scariest Day of the Year

Oh no...it's Christmas Eve...that is one of the scariest days of the year...
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
Marianne Williamson

Faith in God does not make life easy.  Faith in God does not ensure happiness. Faith in God does not free us from pain nor strife.

But faith in God makes us powerful beyond measure...

Our faith in God enlists us in the greatest war that has ever taken place on the face of the earth:  The Battle for our Souls.  Our faith means that we might be called upon to assemble an Ark, petition a Pharaoh, fight a Philistine, or christen a King.  Mere mortals that we are, in all our weakness, asked to do extraordinary things.
Our faith in God makes us powerful beyond measure...
Our faith makes us one of Satan's favorite targets at which to take aim.  He takes measure from all angles and determines the most brutal attack on each of us:

  • I'll make them sick, and heap upon them death
  • I'll make them lonely, and heap upon them disgrace
  • I'll make them doubt, and heap upon them deception
  • I'll make them distracted, and heap upon them false idols
  • I'll make them disillusioned, and heap upon them pain

Yet, we have a power within us beyond measure...

We have power because God came down from Heaven to live among us on earth.  We have power because he left his throne to sleep in hay, his majestic glory to become the filth of our sins, and his eternity to die in Hell for us.  We have power because God wants us to love him, but he won't MAKE us love him.  We have all this power because the God who created the universe is waiting for us to turn to him, and while he waits, he shows the world HIS glory through our lives, our circumstances, and our weaknesses.

So, for all these reasons, Christmas Eve is one of the scariest days of the year.  It's the day that tells us God expects extraordinary things from his ordinary people.  It's the day that reminds us that we are not in control.  And, with each gift we open, we should remember that the greatest gift we've ever received wasn't wrapped in paper and topped with a bow, but was wrapped in thirty-nine searing lashes, and topped with a crown of thorns.


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