Sunday, November 30, 2008
" 'I the LORD have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.' "
- Ezekiel 24:14
Set in 1914 France during WWI, the story centers around German, French and Scottish troops dug in on either side of a battlefield.
When the troops begin to sing on Christmas Eve, the brotherhood of man begins to triumph over the gears of war.
Based on a true story.
An excellent way to kick off this Christmas season.
Rated PG-13 as it is a war movie, after all . . .
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;
My spirit revives in the morning breeze,
though it died when the sun went down;
The river is high and the stream is strong,
and the grass is green and tall,
And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.
The light of passion in dreamy eyes, and a page of truth well read,
The glorious thrill in a heart grown cold of the spirit I thought was dead,
A song that goes to a comrade's heart, and a tear of pride let fall --
And my soul is strong! and the world to me is a grand world after all!
Let our enemies go by their old dull tracks,
and theirs be the fault or shame
(The man is bitter against the world who has only himself to blame) ;
Let the darkest side of the past be dark, and only the good recall;
For I must believe that the world, my dear, is a kind world after all.
It well may be that I saw too plain, and it may be I was blind;
But I'll keep my face to the dawning light,
though the devil may stand behind!
Though the devil may stand behind my back, I'll not see his shadow fall,
But read the signs in the morning stars of a good world after all.
Rest, for your eyes are weary, girl -- you have driven the worst away --
The ghost of the man that I might have been is gone from my heart to-day;
We'll live for life and the best it brings till our twilight shadows fall;
My heart grows brave, and the world, my girl, is a good world after all.
To get us started, I will nominate:
The Family Stone
While You Were Sleeping
A Charlie Brown Christmas
E-mail your nominations to email@example.com and we will post them here. Re-gigger your netflix cue and get in the holiday spirit!
Friday, November 28, 2008
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
- Ezekiel 11:19-20
"But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
- Ezekiel 18:21-23, 32
I asked the doc how many more castings he thought Annabelle might need and he said he thought 3-4. Which means 4-5 weeks of wearing casts. Which likely means Annie will be playing the part of Tiny Tim for her first Christmas. So it goes.
At some point during the next few weeks, they will do a series of x-rays to examine the bone structure of her feet to assess the next step. They will also most likely to something called a "heel-cord lengthening" which is a small incision on the back of one or both ankles.
Once again, I was very encouraged by the progress made. And once again, I forgot my camera so I used my crummy phone to snap some picts.
Songs of Love is an interesting non-profit organization that creates free, personalized songs for children and teen with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
Founded by John Beltzer, Songs of Love has over 120 songwriters that compose one-of-a-kind songs that are sure to lift the spirits of kids during the time when they need it most.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II makes perhaps the most influential speech of the Middle Ages, giving rise to the Crusades by calling all Christians in Europe to war against Muslims in order to reclaim the Holy Land, with a cry of "Deus volt!" or "God wills it!"
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
- Lamentations 3:19-23
Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Teaser below and Video after that. Be forewarned, the video does not pull any punches in terms of the reality of this little boy's situation or it's outcome.
The day I met Brenden Foster, I met an old soul in an 11 year old's body.
"I should be gone in a week or so," he said calmly.
When I asked him what he thought were the best things in life, Brenden said, "Just having one."
I didn't understand how this child, who was a year younger than my own son, could be so courageous facing death."
It happens. It's natural," Brenden told me.
Three years ago, doctors diagnosed Brenden with leukemia. The boy who once rushed through homework so he could play outside found himself confined to a bed. But there was no confining his spirit.
"I had a great time. And until my time comes, I'm going to keep having a great time," he said.
Brenden's selfless dying wish was to help the homeless."They're probably starving, so give'em a chance," he said, "food and water."
But Brenden was too ill to feed them on his own. So volunteers from Emerald City Lights Bike Ride passed out some 200 sandwiches to the homeless in Seattle.
Then Brenden's last wish took on a life of its own.
A TV station in Los Angeles held a food drive. School kids in Ohio collected cans. People in Pensacola, Florida gathered goods.And here in Western Washington, KOMO viewers from all over took part in the Stuff the Truck food drive in Brenden's honor. Hundreds with generous hearts donated six and a half huge truck loads of groceries and more than $60,000 in cash to benefit Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.
Brenden touched hearts all over the world. His wish came true, and he lived to see it.
Alice in Wonderland manuscript is sent as a Christmas present
On this day in 1862, Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson sends a handwritten manuscript called Alice's Adventures Under Ground to 10-year-old Alice Liddell.
The 30-year-old Dodgson, better known by his nom de plume Lewis Carroll, made up the story one day on a picnic with young Alice and her two sisters, the children of one of Dodgson's colleagues. Dodgson, the son of a country parson, had been brilliant at both mathematics and wordplay since childhood, when he enjoyed making up games. However, he suffered from a severe stammer, except when he spoke with children. He had many young friends who enjoyed his fantastic stories: The Liddell children thought his tale of a girl who falls down a rabbit hole was one of his best efforts, and Alice insisted he write it down.
67 Years Ago Today
FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving holiday
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
The tradition of celebrating the holiday on Thursday dates back to the early history of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, when post-harvest holidays were celebrated on the weekday regularly set aside as "Lecture Day," a midweek church meeting where topical sermons were presented. A famous Thanksgiving observance occurred in the autumn of 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited local Indians to join the Pilgrims in a three-day festival held in gratitude for the bounty of the season.
When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
And goes down burning into the gulf below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened. Birds, at least must know
It is the change to darkness in the sky.
Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
One bird begins to close a faded eye;
Or overtaken too far from his nest,
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be.'
"In those days, at that time,"
declares the LORD,
"the people of Israel and the people of Judah together
will go in tears to seek the LORD their God.
They will ask the way to Zion
and turn their faces toward it.
They will come and bind themselves to the LORD
in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten.
"My people have been lost sheep;
their shepherds have led them astray
and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
and forgot their own resting place.
- Jeremiah 50:6
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I pumped the wee one full of moo-juice and we bundled off to the Pediatrician for our 3:15 appointment yesterday.
The waiting room was full and we had to wait about an hour to be seen by the doc. As we were waiting, I noticed that the area around the base of Annabelle's shut was swollen. My heart began to race.
"Calm down", I had to tell myself. "You are sitting in the waiting room of your pediatrician, across the street from Children's hospital. Everything will be fine." Five minutes later and we were still waiting in the lobby.
My magical black binder was in the car so I didn't have the phone number to our neurologist. I asked the receptionist if she could look up the number for me and 5 minutes later, when we were ushered to our exam room, the receptionist still hadn't located the number.
One of the doctor's assistants came in first to check out the basics. I gave him the run down and pointed out the swelling. "So is this spot usually flat?" he asked.
"No. She has a shunt. There is always a bump behind her left ear - but this is the first time it has gotten swollen."
I was rapidly losing confidence and patience.
I began leaving messages for friends that might be able to pick up the wife from work and shuttle her up to the hospital . . .
The receptionist brought in the correct number and I immediately dialed it even though the assistant was still running through the standard 25 or so questions . . .
The receptionist at the neurologist's office put me on hold while she tried to contact the doctor. She came back on the line and stated flatly, "If you have a concern about the shunt, you should take her to the emergency room . ." Which is medical-speak for "I have no idea where the doctor is - he is not returning his pages and I am just a receptionist and I am going to cover my hindparts and lay the responsibility on you, dad."
The Pediatrician's assistant finished up and said he thought every thing looked fine but he wanted the "boss" to take a look at her. Again, doctor-speak for, "I have no idea what is wrong so I am going to smile, nod, and get someone who knows what they are talking about . . ."
With that, Annabelle and I were left to wait in the exam room. Annie was asleep on the exam table so there was nothing for me to do but sit. And wait.
There was one of those big clocks on the wall - the kind that "ticks" with each second. I swear it was just like the movies. The silence was deafening with the exception of the ticking of that damn clock. Every tick sounding like a gong or Tiphany drum.
BANG. BANG. BANG. BANG.
"Calm down," I kept telling myself. "This is probably something that is critical in a space of hours . . not minutes . . . not seconds . . . I hope."
It was now 4:45 and we had been there an hour and a half. Emergency rooms are not always known for their speediness and who knows how long it would take for someone to see us once I got us checked in??
I resolved to wait 5 more minutes.
At 4:50, I scooped up the little one, grabbed the diaper bag and headed for the door. As I was getting Annie in her stroller, I told the receptionist that I never did see the doctor, that I wasn't waiting any longer and that I was headed to the emergency room.
Mouth agape, she reached for her phone and punched in an extension . . .I was out the door before she reached anyone.
So in the car - drive around the block - into the parking structure- back into the stroller - across the street and into the ER . .
"Have you folks ever been to this hospital before?" the receptionist asked . . . .
I reached the wife and gave her the run-down and our dear friend Wendy dropped what she was doing to shuttle her up to Childrens.
After the standard poking and prodding, the doctor on shift agreed that there was some swelling at the base of Annabelle's shunt and ordered a series of Xrays.
The wife arrived and we all got to review the images together.
The doctor pronounced the shunt in good working order but still wanted an okay from the neurologist on call before they allowed us to leave.
It was now 7pm and Annabelle (who typically eats every three hours) had not eaten since 2pm. The doctors would not let her eat or drink anything until they knew exactly what the situation was.
Little Annabelle was exhausted from not sleeping and hungry from not eating. The wife and I took turns holding and rocking her all the while waiting for an infant meltdown of Biblical proportions that never came.
Annie was amazing. Nary a peep or complaint so long as we were holding and rocking her.
We put out the prayer alert to as many people as we could and the swelling actually went down as we waited to hear from the neurologist.
We finally got the okay to go home around 9:30pm or so with a return trip planned for today so that they can do a CT Scan to take a closer look.
So that is where we are this morning.
Annabelle is doing fine. Acting, eating and sleeping normally. Some of the swelling has returned this morning so we are concerned about that.
We will be calling the neurologist first thing this morning to find out when we should come in for the Scan today.
Updates to follow . . . .
Just got back from the neurologist. They said this type of swelling is not uncommon.
When they inserted the shunt, they had to drill a hole in Annabelle's skull to insert the tubing. While excess fluid should drain out through the shunt itself, the hole and the tubing it passes through do not form a super tight seal. Sometimes fluid will actually leak out through the hole around the tubing which causes some minor swelling.
The important thing to watch for is changes in behaviour:
- Inconsolable irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the head / soft spot
- Excess swelling around the shunt (insert subjective and arbitrary definition of "excess" here . . .)
You know, most of the basic symptoms that would indicate your common flu . . . Don't get me started . . .
They opted against the CT scan as they can't really justify it without one of the above symptoms. The docs said they would continue to work with our insurance company to get approval for a scan in the near future though.
So the upshot is that everyone is just fine if not sick of hospitals, co-pays and paying three $$ for parking twice a day . . .
I had the presence of mind to ask to see an actual shunt system and the nurse went and grabbed one for me to inspect. Amazingly simple, really. Here is an image I found on google. The shunt in the lower left is the kind I looked at today.
While looking for that image, I stumbled across this cool diagram as well.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
I am the Child.
All the world waits for my coming.
All the earth watched with interest to see
what I shall become.
Civilization hands in the balance.
For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.
I am the Child,
I have come into your world, about which I
Why I came I know not;
How I came, I know not.
I am curious, I am interested.
I am the Child.
You hold in your hand my destiny.
You determine, largely, whether I shall
succeed or fail.
Give me, I pray you, those things that make
Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing
to the world.
Why have you rejected us forever, O God?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the people you purchased of old,
the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.
Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
they set up their standards as signs.
They behaved like men wielding axes
to cut through a thicket of trees.
They smashed all the carved paneling
with their axes and hatchets.
They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, "We will crush them completely!"
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.
We are given no miraculous signs;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, O God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?
- Psalm 74:1-9
How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
- Habakkuk 1:2-4
Monday, November 24, 2008
This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD.
- Jeremiah 9:23-24
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
- Jeremiah 29:11-13
–noun 1. a container of metal or refractory material employed for heating substances to high temperatures.
2. Metallurgy. a hollow area at the bottom of a furnace in which the metal collects.
3. a severe, searching test or trial.
When we left the hospital with Annie, she still had stitches from her neck to her tailbone. Since a car seat was out of the question, the nurses at the NICU gave us a car bed for Annie to use. They said that a former patient's family had donated three such beds and that we did not have to return it.
Now that Annabelle's back is healed and she is riding in a normal car seat, what were we to do with this car bed? If we took it to the Salvation Army, I doubt anyone would even know what it was. I decided that I would take it back to the NICU even though they said I could keep it. I was out and about running a dozen errands anyway on Saturday so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I pulled into the patient loading zone at the hospital for the first time since we had left there. Even though we have been back to the hospital dozens of times since then, it has always been a different part of the campus.
I walked into the massive lobby and immediately remembered that, although it may look like security is lax, it most definitely is not. I walked straight up to the desk, signed in and explained what I was doing there. The security guard smiled and gave me the familiar NICU visitor sticker and waved me through.
I headed left through the lobby just as I had so many times before. Down the familiar hallway. Past the door to the Parent Living Unit where the wife and I spent our very first night "alone" with Annabelle. I was surprised to feel the flood of memories return.
I reached the NICU waiting room and there sat a lone father. The familiar black bag containing a breast pump in the seat next to him. It was only 8:30am but he looked completely exhausted.
I picked up the phone, explained why I was there, and an orderly came out and took the car bed from me. And that was that.
I hadn't had breakfast yet so I decided I would swing by the cafeteria and grab some food to go. I headed out the side door that I knew was a shortcut and walked the pathway to the adjacent building. In the automatic doors and down the same hall that they had wheeled Annabelle to and from her surgeries that first and second day after she was born.
Up the familiar stairs and into another familiar hallway.
I decided to use the men's room and didn't need to look for the signs. I knew exactly where it was.
Then I remembered that the hospital cafeteria did not take debit cards so I decided to pull out some cash. Once again, no need to look for signs. I knew exactly where the ATM was.
As I stood there pulling out cash, I shook my head and muttered, "No one should be this familiar with a hospital . . .". I felt a squeeze in my chest . . .
I entered the cafeteria and picked out the same breakfast I had eaten there many times before - Biscuits and gravy, four sausage links and hash browns. I was surprised to feel a lump in my throat . . .
As I approached the cashier, I remembered to keep the lid open so she could see what I had picked up. The cashier was the same lady who had helped me so many times before that at one point she had asked if I worked at the hospital, "No, it just feels like it" was my reply at the time.
She didn't recognize me this time and it brought home how much had changed in 3 months. I stood there handing her my cash as my eyes started to well up . . .
I pulled it together, headed back to the car and sat there crying over biscuits and gravy.
Hospitals are where it happens. Where life comes down to essentials. In one room you have a mother and father celebrating their new baby while in the next room over, another set of parents are left wondering where it all went wrong and how to plan a funeral for a child that never got a chance.
In the next hallway over a victim of a car wreck is struggling to survive while a teenage girl is coming in to the clinic have the cast "finally" taken off her leg.
And through it all, the hospital staff continues to move, to help, to comfort, as best as they are able after years of working in the crucible of life.
Life, death, celebration, mourning, loss, unanswered and unanswerable questions. And prayer. So many prayers. People who never pray - lifting up desperate entreaties. I imagine that on the basis of prayer alone, your local hospital is the biggest church in the area.
They may not look like it. They may not feel like it. But these hospitals are cathedrals in a way. Most of us start there. Most of us end there. And life is what happens between visits.
If you get the chance, the next time you are in a hospital stop and listen. Not with your ears, with your heart. Consider the drama that is unfolding around you on all sides. Offer a friendly word to the person in the waiting room next to you. Offer some encouragement to the staff. Say a prayer. And then another. And then another. Not just for your needs but for the needs around you.
You are in a holy place.
You are in the crucible.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger.
- 2 Kings 23:25-26
I have always taken my car to the Sears Auto shop in UTC (University Town Center) here in San Diego for two reasons:
1) For some inexplicable reason I feel that it is my patriotic duty to buy something at Sears every once in a while.
Which reminds me . . .
One of my most vivid memories is of going to the Glendale Sears Department Store as a child. This was in the days before malls (yes, I am that old) so a trip to a big department store was an adventure.
Sears occupied it's own building and had it's own parking structure in the back. We would park on the top level, walk across the foot bridge and right into the garden tools department. The first thing I remember was the smell of lawnmower oil.
We would walk past rows and rows of lawn mowers and clippers and shears. Sometimes my mom would let me occupy myself by just wandering around aimlessly staring at the big machines.
Downstairs was the clothing department. Smack-dab in the middle of the store was a circular soda fountain with a marble counter stocked with every candy imaginable. To this day, when I think of Sears I think of the smell of fresh-popped popcorn in a red and white-striped paper bag . . .
Anyway . . .
The second reason I go to Sears is because they are located in the parking lot of a good-sized mall which gives me something to do while I am waiting for my car to be fixed.
Actually, I should say I went to Sears. I don't go there anymore. For all the virtues of the department store, the last couple times I had my car at their auto shop I left with the distinct impression that I was being hosed.
So the last time I had reason to take my car in, I took it to the GoodYear tire place on the other side of the same mall. My brakes had been squealing and I wanted to get them checked out.
When I picked up my car, the guy at the counter told me that I had a bad caliper which had to be repaired . . . blah . . . blah . . . hundreds of dollars . . . blah. I was disappointed and he could tell.
"You want me to show you the part?" the mechanic asked. I had never had a mechanic offer such a thing.
"Sure", I replied.
He took me behind the counter and into the shop where my old caliper was sitting in a tub of dirty motor oil. The mechanic picked up the part and turned it over and over in his hands pointing out exactly what it did and why and how the thing went caput etc. It was great service and I left feeling that I had received a fair shake.
ALL THAT TO SAY . . .
When I saw that we had a leak in the tire this past weekend, I decided to go back to GoodYear instead of Sears. I dropped the car off and Annie and I grabbed some lunch. About an hour later, I got the call that my car was ready.
When I arrived, they handed me the keys and said they had fixed the tire. "What's the charge?" I asked.
The shop manager handed me his card and said, how about you have a nice holiday and the next time you need something, you come see us.
I shook my head and said, "You guys are the greatest".
So if you are ever in the San Diego area and are in need of tire / wheel-related repairs, GoodYear tires in the UTC is the place to go. Here is their info:
Certified Tire and Service Center
4335 La Jolla Village
San Diego, CA 92122
The mall is pretty nice too - they even have an indoor ice rink in the food court!
- E. T. Sullivan
Just in time for the winter season comes a recipe that is sure to bring bacon lovers some warm holiday cheer. Turbaconducken. That’s right — a chicken stuffed in duck stuffed in a turkey, all wrapped in bacon. Otherwise known as a bacon-wrapped turducken. Just how did we create this meaty madness? Read on.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations-
a people who continually provoke me
to my very face
- Isaiah 65:1-3a
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
I have always loved this hymn but never knew it's origins. I found this Wikipedia entry interesting.
Friday, November 21, 2008
- William Jennings Bryan
Legend holds that on this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln composes a letter to Lydia Bixby, a widow and mother of five men who had been killed in the Civil War. A copy of the letter was then published in the Boston Evening Transcript on November 25 and signed "Abraham Lincoln." The original letter has never been found.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
- Psalm 46:1-3
'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
- Isaiah 58:3-9a
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Written 700 years before Jesus, Isaiah 53 is one of the most well-known and often sited prophecies concerning the coming of Christ.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus quotes from Isaiah, chapter 61 as a means of announcing his public ministry.
She took a 10 second look at Annie's back and pronounced everything just fine. She wants to see us back in three months.
The last time we were in, she prescribed an ointment called "Aquafor" to keep Annabelle's scar moisturized.
We opted for one of the many tubes of neosporin we have on hand instead. After all, what's better than neosporin?
Aquafor actually . . .
Turns out that the antibiotic qualities of neosporin can actually inhibit healthy skin development once a wound is healed. Good to know!
So it is off to the drug store for for the prescription. Incidentally, the PS said that Aquafor is very similar to Vaseline. I don't think we will be substituting this time though.
At this point, Annie's back looks great but there is some red discoloration along and around her scar. The PS says the redness should all disappear within a year to 18 months which the wife and I were both relieved to hear.
This morning it is back to the hospital for this week's recasting. I am taking the camera this time!
Updates to follow . . .
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It occurred to me, "Who's filming this? And why didn't they stop these twits?"
I can picture the conversation . . .
"I don't think you guys should do that man . . . ."
"Naw, it's fine, Willard and I have the strength of ten men between us . ."
"Weeell, okay. But let me get my camera first . . . . I am pretty sure this will end up on YouTube . . .maybe even The Dawg Run . . . ."
"The Dawg what? Whoa! Aww crep . . . ."
(had to throw that last bit in there . . . )
If you sit in a chair and roll your foot so that the outside edge (pinky side) is flat against the ground, that is sort of what Annie's feet are like. Only her feet are rolled to the point that her instep is actually touching the inside of her ankle / calf.
Your foot is like your hand - it is a bony structure completely separate from your leg bones. It is held onto the bottom of your legs by muscle, tendons, ligaments and skin.
When we go to the doctor to have Annie's legs cast, the doctor gently pulls Annie's foot in the direction it should go - stretching those tendons and muscles. The casts hold the foot in the stretched position. The idea is that each week, her feet are stretched further and further to the correct position.
The casts actually go all the way up her thighs - but as we learned last week, this is only to keep them from slipping off.
If you roll your ankle like I previously described and then slowly extend it to a toe-point, like a ballerina, that is what it looks like Annie's feet might do.
Obviously, you cannot walk with your toes pointed all the time. Even if you aren't going to walk, having your toes permanently pointed presents all sorts or problems and frustrations. So the doctors are saying they may need to do a heel-cord-lengthening. Which means they snip a tendon at the back of her ankle which will allow her toes to come up to the correct position.
My first thought was, "Uh . . . don't you need those tendons back there?" But for now, I will assume the docs (who have done this thousands of times) know better than I do.
Once Annie's feet are rolled out and toes pointed in the correct position, then we need to take a look at the bony structure of her feet.
Your bones develop their shape in part due to the stresses and strains placed upon them. If your feet are strained in a direction that was not intended, you may have all the correct bones in all the correct places but the bones might be the wrong shape.
This means surgeries, pins, etc. Oi.
Part of what determines how aggressive the treatments become is the patient's future ability to walk etc. There is no point putting someone through painful surgeries to make their feet perfect if they aren't going to walk on them.
The doctors are telling us that by all appearances, Annabelle will need surgery before her feet can be weight-bearing.
So that is the news.
Please pray for the following:
- That Annie's feet and ankles respond quickly to the casting process
- That the cord lengthening process is unnecessary
- That Annabelle will not need surgery on her feet and ankles
- And of, course, that Annabelle is able to walk
I know it is an aggressive list of miracles, but God and Annabelle have surprised everyone every step of the way so far. She's a miracle just as she is - but what parents wouldn't ask for more?
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
Monday, November 17, 2008
We were at a gathering this weekend and the topic of the blog came up. The general consensus (read: outcry) was that if I insist on posting these artery-clogging recipes, the least I could do is not post the photos. Apparently, some people feel the photos aren't appetizing. I have no idea what they are talking about - the picture above looks just fine to me!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
As many of you know, my wife and I were blessed with our first daughter, Annabelle Lucille Linden this past August 7th.
Upon my wife’s return to work on Monday, November 17th, I will be taking advantage of California’s 6-week paternity leave provision to stay home and play “Mr. Mom”.
I will be in and out of the office from time to time as needed and as my schedule allows.
I will be returning to work full time on Monday, January 5th.
With the market being what it is and with us heading into a seasonally slow season, hopefully this timing will minimize any disruption in service.
In my absence my manager, Jennifer, will be covering my files. Her contact information is below.
All new orders that you direct to me will continue to be opened in my name and credited to me but will be serviced by Jennifer until I return.
I appreciate your business and your support as I take this opportunity to spend some invaluable time with the new addition to my family!
If you need to reach me during this time, you may do so at my personal e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thank you for your continued business and support (Open Order Sheet attached).
Happy holidays and blessings upon you!
Contact Info for Jennifer:
Phone: (619) -------------
Direct Fax: (619) ---------
For all the Latest in Real Estate Market News, Go To: www.REHotwire.Blogspot.com
Mission Valley Branch
----------------, Suite #100
San Diego, CA 92108
- Laura B. Richards
On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby-Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: "Call me Ishmael." Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Anyway, it's a good thing since about five minutes ago I heard my wife gasp in the nursery.
I went in to discover this:
With little Annabelle looking up at me as if to say, "You mean I could have taken these off all along . . . .?"
Updates to follow . . . .
I wouldn't expect anyone else to notice a difference but the wife and I sure did.
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second...if there is one."
- Winston Churchill, in response
HT: Reluctant Nomad
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
- A Wrinkle in Time
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Our two big immediate concerns for little Annabelle are her shunt and her feet.
The VP Shunt:
As a refresher, children with SB often have trouble with fluid building up on their brain. To combat this, the the doctors inserted a tube into Annabelle's head just behind her left ear. The tube runs under the skin and into her abdomen where any excess fluid is absorbed by the body.
The critical window for shunts is the first 6 months. Usually, if someone is going to have trouble with their shunt, this is the window in which the trouble starts.
So far, we do not have any reason to believe that Annie's shunt is causing any problems what-so-ever. The Neurosurgeon is scheduling us for a CT scan and Shunt Series of X-rays just to check on everything and we hope to have that done in the next 4 weeks or so.
It will be a big relief to hear that everything is working just as it should be.
As you probably know, we started the casting process this past week. Every Thursday the Doc will cut off last week's casts, bend little Annie's feet a little more and then recast them. The process is expected to take 6-9 weeks depending on her progress. We are, of course, hoping that we get through this as quickly as possible.
When the wife met with the Doctor last Thursday, he remarked that Annabelle's case was severe and that (if the casting does not do the trick) surgery might be needed on both her ankles.
If I never hear the the phrase "so severe" again it will be too soon . . .
So, of course, we are hoping to avoid surgery.
Those are the two immediate biggies.
Of course, we are also constantly praying that Annabelle develops bladder and bowel control and the ability to walk.
On the up side, she is just the sweetest, happiest, non-fussy child anyone could hope for. A true joy!
Thank you for all your continued prayers and support!
I once lived with a runner who would bounce into the apartment all covered in sweat just as I was pouring the water into the coffeemaker. Good run! he'd cheer. Now that I'm doing it myself, I've confirmed my long-held suspicion that the idea of a "good run" is as improbable as the idea of a "good beating." I can't imagine this will ever feel good. It feels good after you've stopped, I've been told. You reach the point where it feels good later in the day. But once you've been hit in the face, you can easily relish how good it feels not to be hit in the face. With my jaw swaying open and my arms flopping at my sides, I'm convinced the "good run" is a conspiracy and all runners are liars.
Louisa May Alcott publishes her first story
On this day, the Saturday Evening Gazette publishes "The Rival Painters: A Story of Rome," by Louisa May Alcott, who will later write the beloved children's book Little Women (1868).
97 Years Ago Today
World War I ends
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.
94 Years Ago Today
Dedication of the Tomb of the Unknowns
Exactly three years after the end of World War I, the Tomb of the Unknowns is dedicated at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia during an Armistice Day ceremony presided over by President Warren G. Harding.
Dust always blowing about the town,
Except when sea-fog laid it down,
And I was one of the children told
Some of the blowing dust was gold.
All the dust the wind blew high
Appeared like god in the sunset sky,
But I was one of the children told
Some of the dust was really gold.
Such was life in the Golden Gate:
Gold dusted all we drank and ate,
And I was one of the children told,
'We all must eat our peck of gold.'
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
First of all: First -Time Parenting
Its a joy. It an adjustment. Its a joyful adjustment. We love being parents and having one child just makes us want more. There is sort of a continual ebb and flow in terms of who needs a break and who can take over at any given time. We are also reminding ourselves that just because mom and dad do things differently at times, its okay - that's why you need both.
Secondly: Being SB Parents
We have received so much support an encouragement from moms with children that have Spina Bifida and we often refer to them as the "SB Moms". I suppose, by our own definition, we are SB parents ourselves.
We are hanging tough and counting our blessings. Annabelle has surprised everyone at every turn and the wife and I are in continual amazement at her progress. It has been 3 months of non-stop medical concerns and that is exhausting. I sort of get the feeling that this casting process that we are in right now is the last of the current medical marathon. Three months or so from now, when the feet are straight and the casts, braces etc are off, we will be "done" in terms of the constant barrage of procedures.
It will be nice to just focus on growing up at that point.
The wife will eventually be going back to work and her employer is eager to have her back. The optical field in which the wife works is somewhat resilient when it comes to recession concerns so there is a nice bit of stability there.
The Real Estate field in which I work has continued to crater but it feels like we are sort of bumping along the bottom of the market. This is the slowest real estate market on record and we are heading into the slowest season of the year.
On the up side, the company I work for is dynamic and growing and everyday beings a new face and new opportunities so I am hopeful that 2009 will be a better year than 2008.
I should also say that both the company I am working for and my wife's employer have been absolutely WONDERFUL in terms of their support and encouragement over the past 3 months and it is nice to work with such decent and caring people.
I honestly do not know how we have made it this far. As I have mentioned before, in the past 18 months my income has dropped 75% and it's not like I was making millions to begin with. We had to let one of the cars go but somehow God continues to provide. Every payday I balance the checkbook and balance the budget and lo-and-behold, we have just enough to get by. It really has been a journey of blind faith for us.
With the wife headed back to work and (hopefully) the real estate market heading in a positive direction in the not-to-distant future, things should start to even out. Our constant goal is going to have one of us home as much as the budget will allow so that we can avoid the whole child-care thing for Annabelle.
One of my bosses stopped by my office yesterday and wanted an update on how Annabelle and the wife were doing. We chatted for a while and he asked, "So how about you, dad? How ya doin'?"
"I'm trashed", was my response. He laughed and said, "Well God promises not to give us more than we can handle - and it looks like you are juuust abooouuut there."
So I guess that's about it. New parents - SB Parents - Jobs - Finances. Yeah, were trashed. Fried. Stressed to just this side of the breaking point. But happy.
To hold your daughter in your arms and to see her gurgle and coo in an effort to tell you all that is on her mind . . . is there anyplace I would rather be?
Not on your life.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
On this day in 1938, in an event that would foreshadow the Holocaust, German Nazis launch a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses in Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through November 10 and was later dubbed "Kristallnacht," or "Night of Broken Glass," after the countless smashed windows of Jewish-owned establishments, left approximately 100 Jews dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools and graveyards vandalized. An estimated 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months; they were released when they promised to leave Germany. Kristallnacht represented a dramatic escalation of the campaign started by Adolf Hitler in 1933 when he became chancellor to purge Germany of its Jewish population.
All the girls in the Paris night
All the girls in the pale moonlight
All the girls with the shopping bags
All the girls with the washing rags
All the girls on the telephone
All the girls standing all alone
All the girls sitting on the wire
One by one fly into the fire
Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me
All the girls standing by your beds
All the girls standing on their heads
All the girls with the broken arms
All the girls with the deadly charms
All the girls in the restaurant
Pretending to be nonchalant
Funny girls on the TV shows
Close your eyes and they turn to snow
Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me
All the girls working overtime
Telling you everything is fine
All the girls in the beauty shops
Girls' tongues catching the raindrops
All the girls that you'll never see
Forever a mystery
All the girls with their secret ways
All the girls who have gone astray
Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me
Be careful how you bend me
Be careful with me
Its a beautiful slow-swaying song and I had the 'puter play it twice. It made me think about the boys Annabelle would meet in her life and how her heart will undoubtably be broken more than once and it made me want to sit those future boys down and say "Be Careful" with my Annabelle.
And then it hit me.
The first boyfriend, the first love of any girl's life is her father. He is the first male figure she loves, the first one in whose arms she feel safe, the first "boy" that drives her to frustration time and time again.
Us dads need to remember to "Be Careful" with our girls . . .
- Dean Koontz in The Darkest Night of the Year
Saturday, November 8, 2008
- Dean Koontz in The Darkest Night of the Year
Friday, November 7, 2008
- Dean Koontz in The Darkest Evening of the Year
Thursday, November 6, 2008
We had our first trip to the clinic this past Tuesday.
I don't know about you, but "Clinic" is not a word I have good feelings about. When I hear "clinic", I think of those hospital TV dramas where the doctors volunteer their time in a clinic that services the poor, underprivileged and uninsured. Nothing is "quite right" at a clinic. They are always a little more disorganized, a little dirtier and much much louder. Of course, that is not the reality at all.
Because children with spinal defects often have to see multiple doctors in multiple disciplines (Annabelle is seeing separate doctors for: Pediatrics, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Infant Therapy, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Regular Orthopedics, Urology, Neurology, and tomorrow we will be adding one more for Club Foot Orthopedics) many families find the numerous appointments straining (no kidding).
At the clinic, they take you to an exam room AND ALL THE DOCTORS COME TO YOU.
We arrived at Children's Hospital at noon and were ushered in to our exam room around 1pm. The first person to come in was the nurse in charge of the clinic. She had our chart in her hand and it had a row of colored sticky tabs along the top. She explained that we would be coming to the clinic about once every three months and that before we arrived, the head nurse would review our chart and attach all the appropriate sticky tabs to it. Each tab stands for a different discipline: Red for Neurology, Green for Orthopedics, Yellow for . . . you guessed it, Urology . . . and so on.
Once we are situated in our exam room, our chart is placed on the counter at the nurses station and the various doctors come by looking for charts with their colored tab on it. Once the Urologist has seen you, he will remove his yellow sticky tab from the file and place it back out on the counter for the next doctor. When you are all out of sticky tabs - you get to go home! Being a sort of organizational nut-job, I was very impressed.
After the nurse finished with us, she removed her blue tab and put our chart out on the counter.
The first Dr we saw was the neuro-surgeon who handled Annabelle's surgeries. He gave her the once over, exclaimed that he was very pleased with her progress and said he wanted to schedule us for a CT Scan and series of Xrays to make sure her VP shunt is working properly. He removed his red tab, and put our chart back out on the counter.
Moments later, the social worker came in. She wanted to make sure we were getting all the help we needed and wanted to know how we were coping with the stress. She offered to hunt down answers to some Medical and SSI questions we had.
Next was the hospital's PT/OT therapists. They gave Annie-Lu the once over and peppered us with questions about her activity level etc. They ohh'ed and aww'ed over Bellie who entertained them both with her version of a delightful conversation. They pronounced Annabelle as right on track developmentally and they gave us their seal of approval as "good parents". Nice.
Next was Urology. The SD Clinic Urologist is actually the director of the clinic and he was very pleasant. He checked Annie-Lu out, asked us some questions and gave us a brief run-down of what to expect from a urology perspective over the next 5 years. It basically amounted to, "Things seem to be going just fine for now and we will deal with any issues as they arise . . .". Which is a complete 180 from the Dr. Mengele who wanted us to catheterize Annie every 3 hours for the next 4 years as "practice". The Urologist wants to do an ultrasound to check on Bella's kidneys, bladder etc. He gave us his card and encouraged us to contact him if we had any concerns regarding the clinic.
Last was Orthopedics. They asked about Annie's progress with her back and when we said she was all healed, they scheduled us to have Annabelle casted (we are actually going in today for the first series).
The way the casting works, the Doc bends Annabelle's feet slightly and then wraps a cast around the ankle and leg to hold the foot in that position. Then we go back once a week, have the casts removed, the feet bent a bit more and then a new cast is put on. It apparently is a weekly ritual that will last about 9 weeks or so depending on the progress. The goal is to stretch the tendons and ligaments in the ankle to get it straightened out into the correct position.
The Ortho doc also mentioned that Annabelle's hips are most likely dislocated but that there was no reason to correct that right now. Which seems pretty strange if you ask me.
By the time we saw the Ortho doc we had received so much info that I didn't really have it in me to press the doc further on the hip issue. She seemed to be very confident and she is very well regarded so I am sure she is right. It's just that I want to know why she is right. So I will be boneing up (pun intended) on that one in the coming weeks.
Afterwards, the nurse came back in to check on us and pronounced us "out of stickers" and we were free to go. All in all, we were there for 4 hours.
So that is the latest.
Neurology - everything is going well - we are scheduled to have a CT scan and xrays
Social Work - we seem to be in the process of accessing every possible program and benefit available
PT/OT - we are developmentally right on track
Urology - Everything is fine so far
Orthopedics - we start the casting process this morning
Plastic Surgery - (who does not participate in the SD clinic) - we have one follow-up appointment later this month and then I think we are all done
The clinic makes for a long day but you just have to come armed with a diaper bag packed with supplies and something to read. All in all, it was a very good experience and we saw all the doctors we have been seeing up to this point in one shot instead of driving up to the hospital twice a week.
In non-clinic-related news, Annabelle has developed a Umbilical Hernia. Sounds serious, doesn't it? It's not.
There is a ring of muscle just behind your belly-button that encircles the umbilical cord. At birth, that ring of muscle contracts, closing off the hole. In some babies (especially pre-mies - Annabelle was 3 weeks early) that ring of muscle does not fully contract - allowing fluid to build up in the belly-button. So now it looks like Annabelle has a marble-sized, fluid-filled balloon for a belly-button.
I did some reading on it and the pediatrician took a look at it last week and said not to worry. The only way to correct it is through surgery but they don't do that type of proceedure until 5 years of age and by that time, it almost always corrects itself. The Doc said he thought Annabelle's would self-correct in the next three months or so.
So that's the latest medical update.
We have some prayer requests and an update on how mom, dad and baby are handling it all but I think this post is long enough for now (ala the long clinic appointment).
Thank you once again for all your prayers and support. I don't know how we would be making it without you all!