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The Bible Tells Me

I’m not the Bible scholar I should be. I know some verses; not as many as I ought. Still, I find most of my experiences can be framed or underscored, explained or illuminated, by Scripture. Or maybe a hymn or a worship song, a devotional or a testimony. Frequently, I have those “Oh, yeah” moments when I see God clearly in an event. Or realized that I should have seen Him.

These are the moments of “The Bible tells me.”

These essays reflect that. Do know that I can proof-text as well as anyone. I have a concordance, and I know how to use it. Well, truthfully, I do all of that online now, where I can quickly find a passage, see it in many versions, and choose the one I like best. I try not to be narrow, but instead broad, as I apply Bible words to my experiences. I know that your interpretations and understanding may be different than mine. But I also know that our God is big enough for all of us.

I have a friend who, in her prayer time, likes to tell jokes to God. “I know He knows the punch line,” she says. “But I tell them anyway. He likes it when I laugh.”

He likes it when I laugh. I’m going to hang on to that. It’s Biblical. The Bible tells me.

Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Psalm 126: 2,3 (HCSB)


What a Week . . . End

Peter has come for a visit the past two weekends. This past weekend was the regular Thursday-Monday visit, but the weekend before, Kevin and a friend had planned a campout (not for little guys, and just as well, the temperature was frigid and the wind fierce), so Peter came for Saturday and Sunday. He and David went out to breakfast, as usual, but, alas, they could not visit the Mayborn Museum, as they usually do. Because the Mayborn is part of the Baylor campus, and on the river side of things, just across from the giant football stadium, and as parking is at a premium on game day, the museum is closed when there’s a football game. They came home from breakfast at loose ends. “What’ll we do now?”

The last time Peter was here, on a Sunday, we went to the library near church, because it’s the only one open on Sundays. We found some friends from church who were using the computer in the children’s part of the library. There were some interesting things to do. So, to the glum men of the house, I suggested that we might try going to the library. Oh, yes! Yes! Yes!

This past week, I picked him up on Thursday after school.

He took a long time to fall asleep Thursday night (all the excitement of a trip to Waco)! David said that at 12:15, Peter came wandering to his office and talked about a dream. “He said he was flying in an airplane,” David said the next day.

“And he fell out and the wind blew him to safety?” I asked. “Yeah!” he said.

But Peter easily went back to bed and fell asleep quickly. And slept until … 4:15, when he appeared at my bedside. “I’m hungry,” he said. “Do you want your Nutella kolache?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said.

We went to the kitchen, and he ate about half of it.  “That’s all I want,” he said. “I’ll eat the rest later.” He told me about the airplane dream and then walked back into the living room and got on his air mattress. And went back to sleep. He woke up again at 8:50 Friday morning, which put us a little bit later for zoo arrival than usual. We typically like to get to the zoo parking lot by 8:45 a.m. (it opens at 9:00), so we can get a good parking place under a little bit of shade, so that the car’s not so hot when we leave. But, now, in November, that’s not really problem.

One of his most favorite things to do at the zoo is to play in this dirt, which is in a little artificial wishing well. He pretends we’re making stew, and we gather leaves and small sticks and pebbles, and he stirs (not much, because the dirt in there is pretty tamped down) and stirs. This time, he ran across a quarter and a penny. “No,” I said, anticipating the question. “You cannot take this money. People put it in here and made a wish. We are not allowed to remove it.” He covered it back up before we left.

When we left the zoo, we stopped at the snack bar for something to eat, and he chose a small bag of Chex Mix. Notice how the bag says “Savory?” Traditional Chex Mix is “Savory.” Peter does not, apparently, like “Savory.”

We went to Wal-Mart for stuff for the rest of our meals. We checked the Chex Mix area, and, it was as I feared. There is no such thing as “Regular” Chex Mix. There is Chocolate Chex Mix and Bold Chex Mix and Honey Nut Chex Mix and Muddie Buddies Chex Mix. Even the Cheddar Chex Mix says “Savory” on it. (And the chocolate/muddie buddie/Honey Nut varieties seemed like a no-go for his folks.)

I suggested that we make our own. We visited the cereal aisle to look for possibilities. We settled on Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, peanuts, Pretzel Goldfish (which we had to get at Target), Cheerios, and I gave in to yogurt raisins. I added cashews to the list, after seeing it in another recipe, but he said no. And, we already had some cheese crackers to add. And that’s it. No spices or flavorings or butter. No baking and stirring every five minutes. Just the ingredients, all stirred up together. We had it for dinner Saturday night.

 

AND, he wanted to make Rice Krispie treats, and we should get some marshmallows. Fortunately, I had already gotten some at Central Market in Fort Worth, before I picked him up. I cannot get the kind I need (vegetarian) at HEB. I haven’t looked at a health food store, but I might could get them there. (And, if you’re confounded by the problem, Peter and April are vegetarians, and regular marshmallows are not vegetarian. Read the label for the solution to that conundrum.) So he went home with a plastic Glad box of snack mix and one with Rice Krispie treats.

Sunday morning–time change, and he was up reasonably early, which made getting to church easy.

Monday morning, he showed up at my bedside at 5:50, which is just about the time that David gets up. He was surprised at how early Peter was awake, but, really, it’s about the time that he would usually get up (at the REAL 6:50!). (I AM NOT ANY KIND OF FAN, AT ALL, OF TIME CHANGE!) David got up, Peter went to play, and I got up and started Peter’s laundry.

I wanted to visit a nursery I like in Arlington before delivering Peter back home. I pulled off 35 a little before I thought I needed to, to put the address into the phone so I could get good directions. We stopped at a gas station for me to do that. Peter needed a restroom, so we went in. Then we walked up and down the aisles, looking for a snack for him that I was willing to purchase. We finally whittled it down to pumpkin seeds.

At the counter, as I was opening my purse for money for the seeds, the clerk looked down at Peter and said, “I like your hair.” He looked up and said, “Thank you.” She looked at me and said, “Can I give him a cookie?” Now really. What was I going to do?!? Say no!? Which was like being rude to a kind person who wanted to give a gift to a child. So I said, “Yes.”

 

 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

Proverbs 31:17 (New International Version)

I may not be quite as vigorous or strong as I used to be, but I can still pick him up. When I really need to. But it’s hard for me to carry him around. However, at the nursery, there were these little carts for people to pull around to put their plants on. With a long handle on the front. And, in my case, a boy sitting among the plants. And, for the most part, uphill. Which might explain why, yesterday before I started walking on the treadmill, I took one of the pain pills I take when I’m feeling extra sore. But we’re talking about my arms here. Right!?!

Autumn Update

The first time I handed out apples for Halloween, was, I think, the year before Jeremy was born. David was taking Kevin around to family and friends, and I was home with the porch light on and apples in a bowl. Most kids seemed happy about the apples, but not one. He knocked on the door and I opened it and held out my bowl of apples. He looked down at it and said, a little angrily, “Apples! I don’t want an apple!”

“Well, that’s all I’ve got,” I said. And he turned around and stalked back down the sidewalk to his dad, who was waiting at the curb.

What did you say to her?!?!” Dad yelped. And I shut the door with a bit of a smile. Halloween is a nice time to learn manners and appropriate behavior.  And I’ve persevered.

This year, I bought four bags of apples for Trick-or-Treaters. I emptied three of the bags into a basket to take to the door. I didn’t count the apples, but it seems like I maybe gave out about one-and-a-half bags worth.

The weather forecast was dreary, but the rain had fallen late in the afternoon, and by time kids came, things were just damp. I think our house might have been the only one on our block with the porch light on.

A group of three or four came early, and then there was quite a lull. But, later, there were several doorbell rings and small groups of children, all ages, and all dressed up.

I’m still a little amazed that most kids think that apples are a cool thing to get for Halloween (and I’m determined to be the lone voice of reason in a sea of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups–which I would eat six of every day, if I was allowed that sort of thing–the Reese’s, not apples).

One little fellow, the smallest of his group, the ‘way smallest of any group, stood solidly by the door as his companions reached, one by one, into the basket for their apples. For every apple they put in their bag, he put another apple in his little plastic pumpkin, saying, rather zombie-like, “Apple! Apple! Apple! ” with every one. I finally stopped him, because I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get safely down the steps without falling over sideways from the significant weight of his apple-filled pumpkin.

Lots of apples remain, which is not as much fun as an apple basket full of Butterfingers, but better to have around. We may need to make applesauce in Sunday School.

Meanwhile, the fall plant report.

As long as the earth remains,
there will be planting
    and harvest,
    cold and heat;
winter and summer,
    day and night.

Genesis 8:22 (Contemporary English Version)

 

 

And, I suppose, squirrels.

 

We the Jury . . .

I got this jury notice. I don’t even remember when it came, but I was supposed to report last Monday.

The card always says to call their recording after 5:30 on the Friday before report time, to see if we actually have to report. I called. We had to.

My jury duty history has been rather spotty. When Kevin was a toddler, I got a summons, and there’s an exemption if you have a child at home with no one else to care for him. So I circled that one and sent it back. Then we moved to Lubbock for a year. Then we lived in a rental house for a couple of years. Then we moved into the house we bought. So, I’d forgotten about juries. I guess they lost track of me, as my address kept changing, and, I guess, those cards kept getting returned.

Then, once, when neighbors were out of town and we were getting their mail for them, our mail got mixed up with theirs, I completely overlooked a jury notice. When I found it, I was panic-stricken (thinking they might arrest me or something). I called frantically. Turns out, it was one of those days when the prospective jurors actually didn’t have to report.

Then, 1991, I had to go. And I actually got picked to be on the jury. And I actually served, start to finish, for the only time ever. It was a Workman’s Comp case, and, we the jury, did not think the guy was owed any more money.

I did get picked another time. It took so long that they sent us off for lunch before the trial began. When we got back, and were sitting in the jury room, someone, I guess one of the prosecutors, came in and said that, while we were at lunch, the case had been settled. He assured us that our presence had not been for naught. Our being there and having the jury chosen and the case ready to be presented, made whomever was on trial decide that maybe that deal that had been offered wasn’t so bad after all. He said that our willingness to be part of the judicial process helped the case get resolved. And thanks. And our checks would be in the mail. ($7.50, I think.)

Once, I got a summons and showed up for a case that involved a drunk driver. Oh boy, I thought. I am going to fry this guy. But then the lawyers began to talk about being unbiased and listening carefully to all the testimony and making a good and honest decision, and I felt bad and resolved to be a good juror. And then they asked if anyone was a non-drinker, and I raised my hand and that was that.

Then, more recently, I had a summons. They come a few weeks before jurors have to report. I forgot about it. I felt really bad about it. And really anxious about it.

A few months ago, one Monday morning, so few potential jurors showed up that there barely were enough people to handle the week’s court cases. Needless to say, the judge was FURIOUS!! This was after I’d neglected to show up, but, I’m being more careful and attentive now.

So, I showed up. But I wasn’t quite as anxious as I’d been when I first got the thing. For those of you who haven’t kept up with local legal events here, the first Twin Peaks shooting case has begun. The ladies who were sitting on either side of me in the potential juror room, and I, were all grateful that that’s not the case we’d be hearing. (It started a couple of weeks ago. The shooting happened two-and-a-half years ago.)

So, quite a few people who felt they had legitimate exemptions went up and talked to the judge. Most of them got to leave. Then, they called the names of 60 folks, and told them to leave but to return on Tuesday morning. Then, they called the name of 62 more people (including me), and also said to come back on Tuesday.

I went back on Tuesday. And this time, not to the juror room in the Annex building, but right up to the third floor of the courthouse. At 9:00. I didn’t want to be at all late, and I wanted to be sure I could find parking (which isn’t all that hard, after all), so I arrived at about 8:15. But, I brought some work to do. At around 9:15, I got up and walked around a bit. Actually, around and around and around the big open space that looks down on the rotunda. I stopped and talked to a friend I haven’t seen in many years. And talked. And talked. Finally, at 10:15 or so, they opened the doors and called us, by name, to enter the courtroom. They lined us up on the benches, six per row, all going in in the order in which they had called us. That took a few minutes.

Then, the judge said, “We’re sorry we had to keep you out there so long. And we’re sorry that we couldn’t tell you anything. But if we started talking to you about what was going on in here, then it would have undermined the whole process.” There were several cases on the docket, and all of them got resolved with pleas and deals. And we were done.

And again, the judge was sober and serious about the fact that our showing up and our being ready to be part of a jury had made the process work. Cases were resolved.

I looked at my watch and thought, “Hmmm. I can actually get over to West Avenue Elementary School in time for the Reading Club time that I thought I was going to miss.”

Everything you were taught can be put into a few words:

Respect and obey God!
This is what life
    is all about.
God will judge
    everything we do,
even what is done in secret,
    whether good or bad.

Ecclesiastes 12: 13, 14 (Contemporary English Version)

I guess if God’s doing the judging, a jury of my peers might not be all that reliable. They might have a bias.

 

 

 

Hey!! Who’s Quarrelsome and Fretful!?!

We’ve been having a little trouble with the garage door opener. Actually, that’s not accurate. We’ve been having a LOT of trouble with the garage door opener. For weeks.

It’s been erratic, unreliable, and the cause of some shrieking.

I changed the batteries in the remote. Not helpful.

I traded the remote I had with the one that Kevin and April had, thinking that, being used less frequently, it might work more efficiently. Nope.

When Peter was here recently, we returned home from a trip to the zoo; the garage door would not go up. I finally phoned David and asked him to please come home and see if he could let us in the house. (His car has a built-in remote button, which, for some reason, works better. Not always perfectly well. But better.)

He opened the door for us. We went in and I unlocked the back door’s storm door and checked the door’s locks to be sure my keys worked well in them, since we never go in and out that door. One lock worked but the other one didn’t.

Peter and I went out again, and the garage door went up and down as it should. So, things were back to their erratic normal.

And things were reasonably fine, until last Sunday.

I got home from church; the door would not open. Not. Not. Not. There was lunch after church and David was staying to lock up, so I knew he wouldn’t be home for a while. So, I went around to the back door, where the storm door was still unlocked. I opened the storm door and tried both locks. NEITHER ONE OF THEM WOULD OPEN!

I really needed a bathroom, so I went to the grocery store. And then I did a little shopping.

When I got home, I said to David, “Tomorrow, after work, I need you to go to Home Depot and purchase three new sets of locks that are keyed to each other, and I need you to replace all the locks. (One of the locks on the front door also didn’t work.) And, tomorrow, I’m calling the garage door opener people and having them come out to replace this one (which was installed in the early ’80s.)”

And he said, “If we replace the garage door opener, won’t that solve the problem of the locks not working?”

And I said, “THINGS NEED TO WORK!”

And all those things came to pass. Well, sort of. It seems that locks are only sold in matching pairs these days. So, the keyed-together locks are going on the front and back doors. Actually, the one on the back door is done, and, as I write this, the ones on the front are going in, too.

Monday, first thing, I called the garage door people. Then, as long I was in the mood, I called the plumber, because the shower head in the bathroom I use just fell into my hands a couple of days earlier. And, while, yes, I can shower in the other bathroom, THINGS NEED TO WORK!

And, one of the sprinkler heads had broken completely off, and I thought we might could make it until cooler, wetter weather, but why not to ahead and call those guys, because THINGS NEED TO WORK!

 

 

It is better to live in a desert land, than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

Proverbs 21:19 (English Standard Version)

 

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won’t you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it?

Luke 14:28 (Contemporary English Version)

 

This is the garage door going up. I should have been taking my blood pressure during all of this. I suspect it’s right at normal now.

So, we solved that quarrelsome and fretful woman problem by sitting down and figuring out how much it would cost to repair and replace some things that badly needed repairing and replacing. And nobody has to go live in a desert land.

First, Chik-fil-a, then the Mayborn, then the Zoo, then cookies, and so on and so on and so on

As soon as Peter’s parents seemed interested in Peter’s new Pre-K school, I went online to look at the school calendar and discovered when the Monday holidays were, put them on my own calendar, and, as soon as seemed appropriate (a day or so after school had begun), I mentioned it to Kevin and suggested that we begin to think along the lines of “when can Peter come to visit again?”

And so, Columbus Day it was! I picked him up, as has been the norm, at school’s end on Thursday (because, really, even though there is school on Fridays, it’s Pre-K and there isn’t going to be a visit from college reps or big “we-hope-you’ll-get-into-the-university-of-your-choice” testing). And isn’t a trip to the zoo just as educational? I think SO!

And, truly, he seems taller and stronger and, well, all the ‘ers there could be.

Thursday–meeting Granddad at the Mayborn for Late Night, which includes Waffle Fries before visiting the rooms. And, a quietish early evening for Mimi, who spent quite a bit of the day in the car.

Friday–ZOO! Freshwater Aquarium, playground, tortoises, grilled cheese at the cafe.

I took this photo and sent it David to see what it was. I got this in response: “In general, assassin bugs hunt on various types of vegetation, including trees, weeds and bushes. Assassin bugs are able to fly but they are poor fliers in general with some notable exceptions.
Although most assassin bugs are slow-moving and non-aggressive, they will use their rostrum in self-defense if handled carelessly. Such bites may be rather painful to humans because the bugs inject the same salivary secretion used to dissolve the tissues of their prey. This results in the death of a small area of cells at the site of the bite. The symptoms are an intense burning sensation, often followed by a small, itchy lump that may persist for several days. However, no true toxin is involved so it is rare for the reaction to last long or to extend beyond the site of the bite. Some bites occur when the bugs are purposely handled out of curiosity, but most happen through accidental contact while gardening or working in the open. The sharp pain associated with assassin bug bites is usually enhanced by the surprise accompanying the experience.
The beneficial qualities of assassin bugs far outweigh their negative potential, and learning to get along with these indispensable predators is in our own best interest.” BAD BITES!! You’d think I’d have learned my bug lesson by now!

Well, it didn’t bite me, and we were at home and ready to make some cookies for a friend who loves Halloween.

Also on Friday, Peter was talking to me about Columbus Day, and how it was a holiday on Monday and we should have a cake that said “Columbus Day” on it, and have it for breakfast on Monday, with hot chocolate. He is always full of ideas that are really rather stream of consciousness things, and I said, “Sure.”

On Saturday, he said, “What about our plan, Mimi?” “What plan?” Sign of exasperation. “Our plan of a Columbus Day cake and hot chocolate for breakfast!” “Oh, that plan.”

So Sunday, before going to the library to get another video, because the Bob video we got on Friday only had ONE Bob, and some other characters in other videos, and the library doesn’t open until 1:00, we went to Wal-Mart for cake ingredients, etc. And then when we got back to the library, there were some friends from church, finding some interesting activities on the computers, and we didn’t get home until 3:00, and then I had to be back at church by 4:00 for a training event, and when I got home a little before 6:00, we went straight to Kiddieland to ride the train and a couple of other things, and then we rushed home for a quick bath and some dinner, and enough time for a book before bedtime at 8:00, so I was up until midnight or so, baking and decorating that little cake.

At then at breakfast, David said, “I thought there was supposed to be hot chocolate,” and I said, “EEK!” and warmed up some milk and put chocolate syrup in it.

 

 

How can we possibly thank God enough for all the happiness you have brought us?

1 Thessalonians 3:9 (Contemporary English Version)

 

There’s another Monday holiday the first week of November. I have my hopes up.

Bag Lady

I wonder if that what’s the employees at the grocery store and Wal-Mart and Target say (or just think) about me. Because I am a bag lady.

Whenever I go to those places, I almost always have a bag full of bags slung over my shoulder. And I’m a little surprised that more shoppers don’t.

My parents, and generations before them, used up, reused, and recycled (before it was a thing). They save used envelopes for list-making and note-taking. They kept wrapping paper from gifts, ironed out the creases, and re-wrapped and re-wrapped gifts. They kept all their leftovers and ate them all up in subsequent meals.

And then things became disposable, not-worth-the-effort-to-keep, and groceries went home in those flimsy plastic bags instead of the nice brown paper, stands-up-by-itself bags. If those brown paper bags got blown away in the wind, they just ended up stuck behind some garage or in some ditch, where they got sunshined on and rained on, after which they deteriorated and became mulch and enriched the earth. And when those flimsy plastic bags got blown away by the wind, they got stuck high up in tree branches where they are to this day.

So. I try to do my part. We recycle the cans and the bottles and the plastic and the paper, and sometimes our blue recycle bin is filled to the brim on recycle pick-up day.

And I take my bags to the stores.

Target has a variety of sizes and weights of reusable bags. They are pretty and red and useful. I’ve purchased several. One of my favorites was a bag that folded up and there was a zipper that held the whole thing closed. It disappeared. I think that maybe it was on the edge of the car’s seat and may have fallen out, unnoticed, when I opened the door. But then, they made another kind, similar, but it had a Velcro fastener that kept it all together.

 

I love this Target bag. It’s canvas and big and heavy-duty; holds a lot. Typically, I’d put all my other, smaller Target bags in it and go off shopping to Target. See this bag? This bag from the inside? It’s empty. It’s empty because it’s a brand-new bag, and it’s the only Target bag I have now. I think what must have happened, because I have searched and searched the house, the car, the house and car again. And again. No bags. I must have gone to Target, with the bags, down in my cart, didn’t find what I was looking for, and, without thinking, put my cart back at the front of the store, and left. After several days, of looking and wondering, befuddled, and finally thinking that maybe I knew what happened, I went to Target to check the lost and found. No luck. No luck at all. And, after shopping that day, I was checking out and saw, behind my checker, the nice canvas bags. “I’ll take one of those,” I said. I’m starting over.

 

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice

Psalm 96:11-12 (King James Version)

Let’s hear it from Sky,
With Earth joining in,
And a huge round of applause from Sea.

Let Wilderness turn cartwheels,
Animals, come dance,
Put every tree of the forest in the choir—

Psalm 96:11-12 (The Messge)

Once, when I was checking out at Wal-Mart, but using my HEB grocery store bags, the Wal-Mart checker sort of took me to task. “You’re bringing those HEB bags here to Wal-Mart,” she asked, sort of skeptically. “Really,” I said. “Here I am, with my HEB bags, but I’m shopping at Wal-Mart, instead. You’d think that the Wal-Mart people would be overjoyed.” Nobody at Wal-Mart has ever again said anything to me about it. And me, I’m just trying to do my part to keep the sky, the earth, the sea, and the trees all singing their happy songs!

 

 

“Come! Come! I Want to Show You the Pictures!”

That’s one of my new favorite sentences. (Along with “Your GFR is 43!“) My retina guy said it to me. (Yes, I have a retina guy. Well, he’s a Retina Specialist, to be completely accurate.)

I’ve been seeing a retina specialist for several years, in addition to my ophthalmologist (the spelling of which I always have to look up). Diabetes causes problems with, well, most parts of one’s body, but the blood vessels of the retina are particularly vulnerable. So, for quite a while, I’ve been going to the retina place, and a few years ago, the doctor said, “I’d like to try an injection to help with this problem.” Now, you might be thinking that he meant a regular ol’ injection, like a flu shot, or something like that. Well, yes, in that a needle is involved. But, really, we’re talking about my retina, so the injection involved is, yes, indeedy, in my eye. (Try to take a deep breath. Don’t freak out. And, really, try not to get diabetes.)

He explained, oh, so carefully, that they numb my eyeball. And then they put in, umm, some round thing, that keeps me from blinking. I guess it’s the same thing that they put in when one has cataract surgery, to keep that eyelid open and that eyeball exposed. Then, he says, “Look way over at the wall,” which exposes the maximum part of eyeball white, while keeping my eye from seeing that big needle approaching. And there’s a little bit of pressure, but really, it’s not painful. The worst part is that sometimes the injection creates temporary, dark floaties in my eye, which, at present, keeps looking like I have a strand of hair in front of my eye. But, it’s actually a little dark thing, floating around inside. It’ll go away. They always do. (Once, one type of injection caused a swarm of tiny gnat-like things that floated around for ages! They didn’t impair my vision, they were just a little annoying. And not painful.)

Anyway, back to the pictures. Each time I go to the retina place (which is monthly, these days) the first thing I do is go and sit down, put my chin in a cup sort of shelf (to hold my head steady) and look at the blue dot shining in front of me in a machine that takes pictures of my retinas. Actually, now that I think about it, the first thing I do is get my eyes dilated, so they can take those pictures. Those pictures, generated on a computer, then get sent down the hall to be looked at and evaluated by the doctor and staff, I presume for them to decide exactly which kind of injection I’ll need. I’ve seen copies of the pictures before. I don’t understand them. I believe what I’m told about them, and I believe that the retina staff does understand them.

Last Monday, I was sitting in the chair, in the examining room, when Dr. Castillo came in. He held out his hands to me and said, “Come. Come. I want to show you the pictures.” He led me out to the hallway, where a couple of other staff were standing, looking at the pictures on the screen. “Look! Look!” he said.

I looked. “I don’t really know what I’m looking for,” I said.

He pointed to the line of pictures on the left. “See. See these big, black spots. That’s what we are trying to shrink. Now, look here.” He pointed to the line of pictures on the right.

I did see. There were black spots, but they were flatter and smaller. Much smaller.

TA-DAH!!

And then I had to go sit back in the chair and get another injection. But, seriously, the bleeding, seeping spots are getting smaller. That’s preserving my eyesight. It’s a win/win.

As I got up to go, I thanked him for working so hard to help my eyes. And he said, “Thank you. Thank you for letting me treat you!”

“Do some patients not let you treat them?” I asked. He sighed and shook his head. “Yes, many.”

I just don’t understand. Okay, injections to your EYE!! It sounds horrible. What’s more horrible? Not being able to read. Not being able to drive. Not being able to understand what’s happening on the television/computer/movie theater screen.

I don’t understand my podiatrist’s patients who won’t wear their orthopedic devices, or do wear shoes that cause blisters which cause abscesses which leads to amputations.

I don’t understand my nephrologist’s patients who won’t stop eating foods that are hard for kidneys to process. Yes, bananas and tomatoes and potatoes and fresh oranges and pears and peaches are yummy (and, nutritious). And salty, crisp potato chips and corn chips are so very delicious. Sausage! Hot Dogs! I could go on and on and on. Not eat those things! HORRIBLE. You know what’s more horrible. Having to go to the dialysis clinic three times a week. Every week. For the rest of your life.

Vision loss and amputation and dialysis may very well be in my future. But I’m going to push that particular future as far away as I can.

and I praise you
    because of
the wonderful way
    you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
    Of this I have no doubt.

Psalm 139:14 (Contemporary English Version)

 

Meanwhile, on the fingernail front:

I also went by the dermatologist’s on Monday, to have the stitches removed.

…By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

Possibly there are folks out there who don’t recognize this partial quote. (The title of this post) It’s Shakespeare, from the play Romeo and Juliet. The longer quote is:
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”

The speaker is Juliet, and she’s unhappy that the young man with whom she’s recently fallen in love is from a family on the outs with her family. Her point being that his last name doesn’t matter; she loves him anyhow, in the way that the scent of a rose is going to smell just as nice, even if we called it, for example, “stench-plant.”

The name “Romeo” has come to mean a lover, a ladies’ man, etc. (you can look it up). I don’t know what Shakespeare meant by it; maybe it was just a common name in those days.

But … moving on. A while back, I kept reading in the newspaper’s television page about the program TURN, the story of George Washington’s spy ring during the Revolutionary War. Like: “Tonight on TURN, the spy ring finds a new ally.” That sort of thing. Finally, during season 4 (the final season), I got interested and discovered that the library had DVDs of the first three seasons. (Yes, I know. We’re archaic. My kids think we’re ridiculous because we don’t have Hulu.) I watched all those videos and then watched the fourth season on the AMC website.

Then I found, also at the library (how old-fashioned am I!), an audiobook edition of the book Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. I’m listening to it. All 13 hours and 19 minutes of it. I’m a little more than halfway through it, but sometimes I have to go back and start a chapter anew. When I’m listening to an audiobook, I’m almost always doing something else, like working in the yard or doing housework, and, at some point, I realize that I’ve been thinking about herbs and not paying attention to patriots, and I have to skip backwards a little bit. And, for this one, a book of Revolutionary War maps would have helped. And a complete list of all the characters. And which side they were on.

Which brings me to Benedict Arnold. The only thing I knew, and pretty much still know, about Benedict Arnold is that he was a traitor during the American Revolution. I think that may be all that most of us know. And some of us probably don’t know that much. But the name means “traitor.” As in: “That which we call Benedict Arnold, by any other name would still be a traitor.” Even knowing more about him and the positive things he did during the Revolutionary War (before he changed his mind about us), he’s still famous/infamous for trying to sell us down the river, almost literally, and would have, if the plot hadn’t been discovered. And the British guy he was working most closely with, John Andre, got captured and hanged. Arnold slipped away and got himself to a British ship and fought with those guys until the end of the war. And then, afterward, in England, tried to stir up things anew! Give it up, Ben!

It’s interesting, at least to me, maybe you, too, that there are names out there, that, when bestowed at birth may just have been names that parents liked, but they’ve come to mean something that no one might have imagined. Like Benedict Arnold. Like Adolph Hitler. Like Benito Mussolini. Like Josef Stalin. Like Caligula.

And there were other names, that have come to mean something that the name-givers (or name-takers) might not have expected. Or, maybe they thought, all the time, that those named would become so significant. Like Mother Teresa. Mohandas Gandhi. Martin Luther. Marie Curie. Johann Sebastian Bach. Alexander Graham Bell. Anne Frank. Francis I.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (New International Version)

A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold. (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 22:1

 

I guess “a good reputation” is what scripture means by “a good name.” Our actions, our behavior, and our attitudes, are what make our “names” good.

 

 

It’s Probably a Wart

Goofy looking nail spot. Do not be alarmed by the big lump on the side; that’s just my old lady arthritic joint.

A few weeks ago I noticed a spot on my left index fingernail. I thought I  probably bumped it on something when I was working out in the yard, or doing housework, or playing with Peter, but it didn’t go away. And as the nail grew out, the little spot stayed in place, but the bottom of the nail was looking really strange. So couple of weeks ago I called my doctor to see if I could get in to get it checked out, and they said the doctor’s schedule was full, but I could see her physician’s assistant. Two weeks ago, I went in to make that visit, and the young physician’s assistant looked at my nail and said, “I’ve never seen a skin cancer on a nail before. Well, I’ve seen them in photographs in my textbooks, but I never seen one in real life, so I’m not sure about this. I’d like a doctor to look at it.” When she went to see if she could catch the doctor between patients, she returned looking a little bit alarmed and said, “The doctor is dealing with something way more urgent than what’s going on in here, and I am just sure that she’s going to want you to see a dermatologist, so I’m going to go ahead and make that referral for you. Our office will call you when I get that set up.” And sure enough the very next day, I had a voicemail that said they’d set up an appointment with the dermatologist, and it would be on the 13th at 8:50, but I should be there at 8:15 to do paperwork. So I went on Wednesday to see the dermatologist.

She got out a big, big magnifier and looked intently at my finger for several minutes and said, “The good news is I can tell you this is not a melanoma which is the very worst kind of cancer. It might be a different kind, called Squamous cell carcinoma, or it might be a wart. It looks more like a wart, but I can’t remove it right now because I’ve got patients all day. And we have to numb you up, which takes a while. When can you come in?” “As soon as possible,” I said. “Can you come back this afternoon?” “I certainly can come back this afternoon.” They checked her patient schedule, and said could I come at 3:15 and I said, “Sure.”

The doctor suggested that I take some Tylenol right before I came. That would help, not because the procedure was going to be painful, but afterwards things could be painful as numbing agent wore off. Plus, she would give me a prescription for an additional kind of pain reliever. So I ran some errands, picked up some dinner, and showed back up at 3:15. Despite the fact then I’m in doctor’s offices and stores all the time, I still neglected to bring a jacket or sweater with me. They put me on a couch sort of table, which was very comfortable, with a pillow under my head and my feet elevated. I asked, “Are there blankets here?” and there were. I was quite cozy when the doctor came in and did the first round of numbing with some sharply pointed needles poking here and there around my finger. “Now then,” she said, “we’re going to give you some time to get numb, and I’ll be back,” and she left. I had a very nice little nap.

When she returned, the nurse added a wide arm to the bed to support my own arm, and the doctor said, “Let’s see how numb you are. Can you feel that?” I could feel various pricks as she was putting in more numbing agent. “What about this?” “Yes, I feel that. Yes. Yes. Just a little bit. No. No. No.” Soon, I appeared to be all completely deadened. Knowing that, she went to work. She said, “I’m going to take your nail off, and we’re going to take this wart off.”  She said “I’m digging and digging and digging under here, and I don’t see any evidence of anything else growing under there. I think I’ve got everything.”  Then, “We are going to send that to be biopsied, just so I will know for sure.” She kept on working and explaining, “I’m only lifting up one side of your nail. The other side is attached, and I put your nail back down. I’m going to use a suture to attach your nail back onto your finger. It will look a little strange, but that is going to keep your nail down, in case it gets caught on something. We don’t want it to get torn completely off!” When she was done, she wrapped everything up in lots of gauze and sent me on my way.

All wrapped up and ready to go!

It didn’t take very long, and of course it was painless, as I was wildly numbed up. I had to make another stop at Target for an antibiotic I’m supposed to take. Then back home. I felt fine and did some work and a crossword puzzle or two and found that I could type pretty easily with the bandaged finger. When the numbing seemed to be wearing off, I took one of the pain pills and went to bed. In a couple of hours, I woke up to to the real world. My finger was really, seriously painful. I got up and took another pain pill. I slept on and off until 7:00. I got up and took another pain pill and went back to bed and slept until 11 and got up and had breakfast. It’s still a little uncomfortable. I’m supposed to go back in 10 days for them to take the stitches out. All in all, it hasn’t been that bad. I’d rather know what it is (or isn’t) and deal with it, than ignore it and hope it’s nothing.

 

One of the unexpected bonuses is that I learned how to dictate on the computer, so that my words, pretty much the way I have said them, pop up on the computer. I didn’t know it would do punctuation (but you have to say the punctuation), so I’ve had to go back and do that, and there were some run-on words and things I have to edit. But when you think about all of the typing that would’ve been required to do this with the storage (yes, the computer thought I said “storage” instead of “bandaged”) finger, it’s a wonderful new discovery and skill.

 

Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”

Mark 2: 15-17 (The Message)

 

I’m grateful to have in my life the people who help me in all the ways I ail.

Aay Bee Cee Dee

Even now, when I’m putting things in alphabetical order, or looking through a dictionary for a word, I find myself quietly singing in my head: “H, I, J, K …” or whatever alphabet string I’m needing at the time. It’s ubiquitous. At least for me.

Most little kids receive alphabet books when they’re preschoolers, and alphabet books are a standard in preschools and at library story hours. We want little kids to become familiar with the letters of the words that make up our language, both upper case and lower case letters. And not just the names of the letters, but also the sounds those letters make. We sing them, we say them, we use them, we explain them (as in: “Yes, honey, I know it looks like it should say ‘takee,’ but it says ‘tayk.'”)

So we read those alphabet books, and all the other books, and try our best to plow that language into little kids’ brains so they’ll be competent readers and learners even before they start school and “formal” education.

When Peter was last here, he’d gone out to ride his tricycle in the driveway, the morning I was taking him back to Fort Worth. After a couple of days of hurricane-generated rainfall, the sky was still cloudy, but the streets and sidewalks were dry. “Look, Mimi!” he called.  “Come take a picture.”

On Amazon, there are pages and pages of alphabet books, with about 20 books listed per page. And that’s just on Amazon. We really want kids to learn the building blocks of our system of reading.

I was particularly interested in The Icky Bug Alphabet Book. I looked at the pages that were available to preview, and took issue with the idea that dragonflies and fireflies are “icky.” Earwigs? Oh, yes. But they do include a disclaimer that only two of the “bugs” they describe are actually “true bugs.” A couple of spiders are included–arachnids. And the rest are different kinds of insects, which, even though we call them “bugs,” are not actually true “bugs.” So, alphabet and science!

Anyway, The Dead Worm Alphabet Book may never make it to publication. Or, April and Peter may need to resort to collecting some live worms and try to arrange them into a few pages of living worms alphabet illustrations. I’m hoping to get some photography credit for my contributions.

Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.

Psalm 119:105 (The Living Bible)

 

Being a fluent reader means being able to read, for ourselves, all the important books and articles that can help us learn and become the people God planned for us to be. We can read, for ourselves, the Scripture, the commentaries, the sermons, and all the resources that are available for us. And for a lot of us, it all started with an alphabet book.