Lest I forget....

Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I’m under His care.
~ Daniel Whittle, 1893 ~

Compelled beyond the yoke

First, let me state the facts: everything I have belongs to the Source - my throat, my voice, my life, my husband, my children, my possessions, my future, my plans, dreams, ideas, intellect. It would be foolish to hold tightly in my fist what I have no control over and no ownership of. Regular, cheerful giving is something I have tried to incorporate in my life in a variety of ways - and I have been enormously blessed by doing so. What I am struggling to explicate as I study giving and fear is the cause-and-effect line that is sometimes drawn between giving and blessing. Just like my struggle of last year, when I tried to understand how some people came to think that faith equals healing or health and lack of faith equals cancer. My mother told me today that the issue lies in the fact that Jesus, and His Word, are not simple and uncomplicated. One verse points in one direction on this topic: Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10) Then the next verse I look up sends me running away from the rigidity of the tithe: All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." (Galatians 3:10)

I heard an interesting point today on tithing that made me wonder if the principle does, indeed, predate the Law of Moses. A little known story I'd never paid attention to mentions tithing (giving a tenth) prior to Moses: Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizidek, and this story has been used to lay a foundation for the idea that tithing transcends Old Testament Law and New Testament Covenant. In my brief search of the available resources, I read some statements staunchly in favor of this interpretation, and others expressing vitriol opposing it. The most gracious and eloquent explanation came courtesy of D. Matthew Brown at Faith for Faith:

My point in writing this is not to give a Christian an excuse not to give but, quite the contrary, to exhort the Christian to give as the New Covenant prescribes from beyond the yoke of the Law. The picture painted of giving in the early Church is not that of those who neglect the Law and give nothing, but it is that of those who give all that they have to their brothers and sisters in Christ even when they are impoverished. The requirement of the New Covenant is in fact much weightier than that of the Law, for the Law required its adherer to give 10 percent (actually 23.3 percent according to the various tithes of the Law); the New Covenant requires one to give 100 percent—their life.
~ The Yoke of Tithing; see also Why Christians Shouldn't Have Nice Things ~

Wondering, giving

I have read a thousand points of view that support the idea of a prosperity Gospel, based upon verses such as these: Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10) I have heard the arguments that enough faith will cure cancer, enough prayer will eradicate fainting spells, enough wisdom will cure a sick family in short order. But that hasn't been my walk. With a few stumbling years on the journey, I have been a Christian since I was 5 years old. Yet at 14 I started fainting. At 19 I was told there were no medical answers and little hope for treatment for my heart failure. At 20, I was told I was infertile. At 29, four children and a husband later, cancer reared it's head, so early in life. At 30, fainting and heart failure showed up on the scene once again. What I am I to conclude? By most worldly standards, I am indeed wealthy. Yet one of the most advanced medical communities of the Western world cannot promise me life, or health. I wonder whether my children will be motherless in ten years, my hopes of making a home and schooling at home dashed by a disease over which I have no control. Where is the God of prosperity in this situation?

John Piper preaches that I serve a God of suffering, a God made glorious in suffering. Not a God of prosperity, not a God who necessarily grants worldly wealth or health at all. Yet this doesn't answer the question of how to serve, or how to give, or how to live. That is a question I wrestle with as our church prepares to plant a church, and studies freedom in giving...freedom from fear in giving. Recently, I found this interesting post, which both encourages giving greater than 10% and denies that New Testament Christians are bound to the tithe as a mathematical percentage. Should Christians tithe, then? Mark Driscoll offered me both a historical and culturally relevant sound byte on this issue. This blog post also lends insight to the dynamics of Old Testament obligations versus New Testament choices. So what can I give? I am fighting cancer (point of fact: medical bills in excess of 15% of our gross income annually); I have four children, for whom we must provide; I am in graduate school, incurring expenses to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of needy people in the future. How does all of that relate to my giving? I'm not really sure. I found this post, which addresses tithing for Christians who have debts, intriguing. Do you have a mortgage? Other debts? How do you tithe? How does the freedom of Christ relate to gracious giving? How do the Old Testament laws and edicts affect your decision as a "New Covenant" Christian?

A brief reprieve

We ventured out to our annual church camp after a mind-boggling three weeks of stomach flu. Because I don't want this to become merely a litany of mother-work, I won't enumerate the piles of unfolded laundry, the mountains of extra dishes, and mounds of blankets and pillows in queue for the washer. Suffice it to say that the break from the daily grind of household duties was much appreciated. We traveled up to the north woods, to a secluded lake set apart for the respite of the saints. Spending time sitting together, worshiping in quiet community, pondering deep truths that will no doubt water our church at the roots as we undergo the difficult transition of a new church plant...it was work, for the mind, but rest for the body and soul.

  • Aaron's highlight: watching Rosy climb the wall & Katy hit the target with an air rifle
  • Gen's highlight: listening to my dad play guitar while my mom & I sang harmony, hearkening back to the church camp of my youth
  • Katy's highlight: plenty of time with her "club" (a.k.a "friends") & being allowed to play in the game room with the big kids, unattended
  • Rosy's highlight: singing in the underground tunnel
  • Amy's highlight: cuddling Mama during her afternoon nap
  • Cal's highlight: going skinny dipping in frigid James Lake with his best bud, Ian

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Psalm 133:1

In the dark places

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers... Daniel 2:22-23a

Alas, I have not had time nor energy to update this or visit all my normal blog haunts this week. The Crypto continues to rage in our household. I beg your prayers. Our annual church camp is this weekend and I am slated to play music in our annual family band. Without some dramatic improvements, most of the children and I will be stuck home. It's the third week now, and it feels as though the light may never shine at the end of this long, dark tunnel. I find it wryly humorous that an intestinal parasite visible only by microscope has brought me to my knees in frustration and desperation in many ways that cancer several inches long could not. My faith in God the Healer has always been skeptical at best, and at worst it vacillates to near scoffing. I am grateful for the lantern of sickness shining in the dark spots of my soul, exposing those parts where I am still me and not Him.

In my internet wanderings, searching for a cure for this tenacious bug, I discovered that wormwood (read: absinthe) and black walnut are more effective than any antibiotic available. Obviously, we're taking it in capsule form, not the historically popular alcoholic beverage! Interestingly, the same cure is nearly as effective as anti-malarial medication in regions where that illness is endemic. What's more, you can use this herbal preparation once monthly for dogs and cats, and skip the heartworm and various other dewormers available. It also repels fleas for a short period of time after consumption.

The role of wine for the Christian

I unwittingly opened a Pandora's box in the Christian world with my last post, which included photos of chokeberries drying on our countertop, and a description of my husband's lovely Farmhouse Wines fermenting in our basement currently. I published a representative comment on yesterday's blog. I received six other similar comments, and so would like to take the time to post my position on wine. I believe wholeheartedly that Christians are free to consume alcoholic beverages in moderation. There are also plenty of examples in Scripture where wine in excess is damaging (for a summary of both the positive and negative references to alcohol in Scripture, read an excellent bulleted list here). Because I think we are more familiar with the arguments against the drinking of alcohol for Christians, I will summarize my reasons for supporting the consumption of alcohol (if desired) among Christians here:

I Timothy 5:23,
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

In terms of moderation, God is also clear in His instruction: Phillipians 4:5, Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

How about the beauty and sensuality of this passage? Song of Solomon 8:2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

Wine is also equated with blessing in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 33:28, Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.

It was used as both a drink offering to the one true God (Ex. 29:40 & Numbers 15:4-10) and to idols (Deut. 32:37-38). It was given in abundance (not just sips!) to the Jews when they were obedient (Hosea 2:22, Joel 2:19) and they were deprived of it as punishment (Isaiah 24:7).

It is supposed to make our hearts glad, as in Psalms 104:15, And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

It was given to those who were suffering or in pain (Proverbs 31:6).

Most notably, Christ turned water into wine as His first miracle, probably at a rather indulgent wedding feast! (John 2)

Finally, my thoughts about the moderate consumption of wine blend with my overall view of how Christians today are to live their lives. The hallmark verse on this subject differentiates life under grace with life under the law: Galatians 5:1, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

So this is sick!

For almost two weeks now, the kids have been ravaged by some mysteriously potent infection with Cryptosporidium (a coccidian protozoan parasite, for those of you who - like me! - care). A week ago, I caught it from them. It has been an interesting time in our household - a definite time of focusing inward and experiencing exhaustion together. We've had some sweet moments reading book after book, and watching movie after movie. We had the kids sleeping in our bedroom on an extra mattress for a week so we could handle the frequent bathroom trips without any accidents - that brought back beautiful memories of our days with the "family bed". We've survived on delicious Greek yogurt with an extra sour kick from powdered probiotics, and mixed up batch after batch of homemade electrolyte replacement. Through it all, everyone has fared well, with the exception of Katrina, who has lost 9 pounds in the past two weeks. I am thankful I took the old-fashioned route and never worked to eliminate the natural softness of her figure. Without an extra pound or two, my dear girl would be so much more ill.

Aaron has enjoyed the extra time at home, and has bottled two of his Farmhouse Wines from the 2008 vintage: apple & Hawk Ridge Wild Plum. Another delicious batch of wine was hand-pressed and lovingly placed in the fermenter: Whistle Lane Chokeberry. And - perhaps most exciting - his first ever batch of port is also bubbling away in the basement, casting off a lovely aroma of berries and tang: Cedar Gables Chokeberry Port.

And so it goes, life as we know it. Compelled by the service of these four dear children, we have set aside every date on our calendar for two weeks (with the exception of our first night back at the bowling league on Wednesday). Please pray for a quick recovery from this point. The kids have begun to chow down toast and bagels, so I have hope that they will soon be on the mend after weeks of not eating more than a tablespoon of even the most delectable food. Someday even coccidian protozoa will bow, right?

And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. (Isaiah 33:24)

...unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:23)

Sacrificing to receive

We are reading a book in our small group - Fields of Gold, by Andy Stanley - all about fear and giving. As I read it, I'm not thinking about money. For one thing, giving money has never been my biggest issue - stewardship is. Personally, I think that's one reason God gave me a husband. Aaron is my check & balance. My children need to be provided for, which motivates me to be more careful that I might otherwise be with my resources (time, energy, money, consumables).

Watching the Indian summer dance of evening cooled skin glimmering in the cascade of water from the sprinkler across the dead grass of fall, it hits me deep. I love this place. I love these children. I love this countryside. I love the sights, the sounds, the smells. I love a million little details about the life God gave me. Except for one.

I don't love death. Death to self, death to money, death to things, death to people, and especially not death as in the end of life. Being a person who hates change, I would happily exist in Groundhog Day, living one day over and over until I finally get it right. Suspended in time. Suspended in this joy of sprinkler spray and icy goosebumps and laughter lilting through the thin air of autumn sunset.

There are things in life - not necessarily things, persay - that I am clutching to my chest. Things I can't imagine giving up. I only hope I learn the lessons before they are taken from me, whenever that may be. I want to treasure these moments when everything crystallizes and I know God is calling me to trust and to sacrifice. I want to bottle that aching lament I feel squeezing my chest when I think about leaving this life. I want to be able to just sniff the fragrance of loss long enough that it leaves an indelible memory, whispering, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the sons of God!" (I John 3:1)

From the bounty

Sweet onions and fresh garlic sautéed in olive oil. Cooked pasta tossed in to warm. At the last minute, sea salt, blue cheese crumbles, a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and garden fresh tomatoes sprinkled over all that succulence. The natural way to a healthier digestive tract: penicillin grown in a monastery in England; antiviral activity in fresh garlic and olive oil; antifungal dose in the culture of the Greek yogurt; and antioxidants to support and sustain a weak immune system, transformed from dirt and sunlight into the beautiful rose of a September tomato in Wisconsin.

All this au naturale talk reminds me of several requests for my homemade Scrubbing Bubbles recipe. After admiring the hygienic household of a dear friend, I became interested in the variety of ways one can clean with simple white vinegar and baking soda. I was convinced it was possible, because my friend - who has faithfully used this formula for years - has one of the most spotless homes I've had the pleasure to visit. I finally made the switch myself about a month ago - no more cleaning products to buy! It is surprisingly economical, but, perhaps even more surprising!, it is one of the most effective cleansers I've ever used. So, without further ado, here it is.

Scrubbing Bubbles
1/4 baking soda (available in large bags at Sam's & other bulk stores)
1 c white vinegar

To clean your toilet, add first baking soda and then vinegar to water. Use your brush as usual, once foaming has subsided. To clean vanities, tubs, tile, and showers, as well as marble and granite, mix together in a bucket or large bowl. Use 1/2 c instead of 1/4 c baking soda, or enough to make a paste. Once foaming has subsided, stir together to make paste and scrub as usual. For particularly heavy staining or soiling, 2 Tb of pure orange oil may be used, although this may cause discoloration on some surfaces.

This solution was the first and only cleaner I've found that will take hard water stains off of white tile grout. It does not, however, remove black mold stains from old caulk in tubs or showers. I am going to try adding some tea tree oil to it next time I scrub - I'll let you know the results on my moldy caulking!

Paths to exhaustion

Stress is one way to lose energy: I've been bleeding resources to that quite a bit of late. Daily life, fraught with small needs and simple consumption of time and motivation, exhausts resources in a different way. Children with the flu, laundry that is consequently out of control once again, and a Mama with no immunity left to fight the flu off. The latest cancer scare is over for the time being, and I've reached a stalemate in the battle to diagnose and treat my fainting episodes. For now, I am clenching my jaw and putting shoulder to harness in an everyday, work-at-home world. And praising God for every minute of work I have left in this body of mine.

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

A dash of color

Nothing cheers a group of sick little kids up like colorful hair! We needed a little extra color today, and it sure was a lot of fun.

What fun to add a little vibrance and spontaneity for just a few dollars. Maybe we should dress up as the Doodlebops for Halloween...

Answers soon?

I am still waiting for news from my latest round of testing at Mayo. No letters, phone calls, or other communication from the doctors for 3 weeks. It is very frustrating...hard to be patient. Hard to be a patient, I guess. I feel forgotten and left to my own devices...and wish they would at least call to tell me the results. I guess I'll keep waiting!

All that comes under our Imagination
Is either God, or Nature, or Creation.
God is the Free Eternal Light, or Love,
Before, beyond all Nature, and above;
The One Unchangeable, Unceasing Will
To ev'ry Good, and to no Sort of Ill.

Nature without Him is th' abyssal Dark,
Void of the Light's beatifying Spark;
Th' Attraction of Desire, by Want repell'd,
Whence circling Rage proceeds, and Wrath unquell'd:
But by the Light's All-joyous Pow'r th' Abyss
Becomes the Groundwork of a Threefold Bliss.
~ Spirit of Love, John Byrom, 1692-1763~

Dancing in the rain

As I watched them walk out the door ahead of me, waiting for the perfect shaft of light to illuminate girlhood and infancy lilting through the sunset and out of the cavernous old barn, a million old emotions flooded back. That moment...watching someone I love dearly walk off with my son, facing forward toward the beauty and possibility that is life outside the cavern...I remember the moments I spent watching my kids dance in a lamp lit living room in November. Isolated, shivering, standing in the dark, surrounded by the eerie loneliness of the sounds of city nightlife. Feeling my life slip like so many grains of sand through an open palm. The glass shut me out, just like the length of that barn floor did. Being an outsider is never pleasant, especially when your heart is heavy with worry.

That is cancer. I know it, as well as I know the sounds of blood pressure echoing through the earpieces on my stethoscope, or the thud and whoosh of blood flowing through the chambers of a heart, or the tidal roar of air sucking into empty lungs to swell and then overflow the iron cage of ribs surrounding this wave of life that is drawn in without thought. I know cancer is a creeping, murky shadow of reality that seeps into joys and pleasures, and devours hope and faith almost without sign. I knew someday a radiology tech would put his instrument on my neck and pause for just a few minutes too long. It happened once before, I knew it would happen again.

But I still wasn't ready. I wasn't ready when I sensed the tension in the room. I knew before I looked up at the screen that I would see a round black hole where hope and resolution should have been found. Instead, in the crackle and pop of electronic noise, I heard the slow sobbing of a requiem for a dream. As I wordlessly walked out to the waiting room, fears swelled up where tears should have. Cancer: of the thyroid this time, or the parotid gland? What did it mean when a radiologist came in, suit coat flapping as he hurried to the equipment, and scanned my neck himself? What does "wait and see" really mean to a cancer patient? I suspended disbelief. I suspended belief. I hung, suspended, for two days. Suspended in reality, suspended in nightmare, suspended in prayer, suspended in the solace that was sleep.

The next appointment. A cardiologist. He informs me my heart failure is worsening, that my pulse is continuing to slow. That a pacemaker is indicated. Sends me to see a "heart failure" doctor. More fear, more tears locked in dry eyes, more words closed in a stinging throat. More suspension. I waited for Wednesday...five days. Eternity? Waited for suspension to drop me with a thud back into the dirt floor of cancer's reality.

The tide began to turn on Saturday. I found an organ. I've been praying for an organ for a year and a half. A blues organ. Preferably a Hammond B-3. To play at church with the band. Just something fun - it's not like I was praying to be cured of cancer. I have a hard time whispering those words in tense, desolate quiet with God: but an organ is something I can beseech of Him. So I did. And I found it. Free, on the curbside. Passed it the first time...our car was too small, I was sure it didn't work anyway. Excuses, of course. Excuses that might have undermined a Savior's gift for me. But instead, another nudge: my aunt asked if we wanted to go take a look at "that free organ down the street". I agreed, hesitantly. Out of boredom, to tell the truth. The organ worked: it's a Hammond A-100, a rare and beautiful stepbrother to the mighty B-3, with the same sound, the same technology. A gift worth thousands of dollars, just sitting by the curb on a Saturday afternoon in rural Minnesota. Okay God, I thought, that was pretty cool!

I went home. Checked my e-mail on Sunday. In my daily digest from Freecycle: "free organ". Okay God, I thought, that would be pretty amazing! I sent a message to the giver. The organ doesn't work, he said. Aaron said, Let's give it a chance anyway. See what God can do. Drove an hour to pick it up. Plugged it in the back of the truck. Figured we may as well see if it works before we lug this baby inside! It's a Hammond M102, the "Baby B". The same technology, only slightly smaller cabinet and half as many bass pedals. I heard the swell and cry of the pipes from inside: all Aaron had to do was read the manual. The second organ works perfectly, too. Pray for a year and a half, and sometime a miracle comes out of nowhere: a piano for home, a piano for church. No sweat for a big Jesus, apparently!

Preparing for my appointment yesterday, that deep soul work that nothing can hasten, I sat at the keys and got used to playing with my feet. Pure joy. I felt God shouting this time (usually He whispers - or am I just deaf??): See, child, I know every detail of your heart. I know why it beats slow sometimes and fast others. I know why you faint. I know every hair on your head. I know your going out and coming in, your lying down and standing up. I know the hour and day of your death, and I am waiting here to welcome you home. Cancer, schmancer. This is God speaking, the God who throws two free organs at you in two days! This is the God that created sun, stars, heavens and earth. Babies, blessings, husbands, farmhouses, gourmet food, summer songs of crickets and frogs, winter refrain of birds and snowflakes. How could you doubt me? Trust me, because I am always here. Listening. Loving. Lavishing.

So in I walked to two appointments today. The first was very hard: no answers are clear, and when that happens...well, doctors start to think maybe the reason for your problems isn't physical. It isn't, I want to shout! It is spiritual. God allowed me to feel this, to be created this way. He hedges me in, and He goes before me. Who are you to say it is impossible for me to faint as much as I do? Who are you to question what is so abundantly clear in your data? Question he does anyway, this doctor. Infuses the whole care team with questions without answers. Next appointment: the lump in my neck is okay, for now. Stable, hasn't grown since last September. The question remains, why is it there? Why didn't the iodine kill it? It is a nodule, and it looks like cancer, but it doesn't suck up iodine and it doesn't show on whole body scans. So there are lots of questions about how best to monitor it, or if it should be biopsied or removed. I'll learn more on Friday when I visit my oncologist here in Eau Claire.

The neurologist is close to concluding, to handing me a diagnosis. In her opinion, I may have orthostatic intolerance, a condition on the dysautonomic spectrum of illness. Hard to treat. But at least a diagnosis. I might be best off cloistered in my farmhouse, taking some herbs now and then, continuing with my country doctors here in Eau Claire. Tonight I go to sleep, monitors humming away for the next 24 hours. Still beseeching God, this time for an answer instead of a Hammond organ (or two!).

And remembering that sweet, sweet sound of bluesy perfection joining the crickets and frogs in an Indian summer lament/praise for a God who is holy, tender, and extravagant and a world that is harsh and si bon mais si lassant.

It's all in the phrasing

Homeschool Log Day #3: 1.5 hours; constructed habitat for amphibious native life; studied geological structure and climate; biology discussion of breathing apparatus of various life forms; sensory exploration of natural environment.

Mothering Log Day #2,211: 1.5 hours; time to fold laundry and sweep floor. Children happily playing with toads in a bucket. We had fun talking about how God created them to breathe, how unique their skin is, and what type of house they like to live in. I had quite a time preventing the children from bringing certain aspects (i.e. mud and slime) of toad habitat into our habitat when they finally tired of their rainy morning escapades outdoors!

a post from the archives, linked to Ann's series on Time

The silver lining

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light
~ Precious Lord, Thomas A. Dorsey, 1932

When He sustained me

In the midst of another season of hurts, I am reminded continually that there are many hurts greater than those I bear today. I thank God for offering perspective on my life (vibrant, full, joyful, entertaining, beautiful) and my suffering (bruising, buffeting, confusing, exhausting).

Aaron and I continued a pregnancy nearly 3 1/2 years ago after receiving a poor prenatal prognosis after ultrasound. Our unborn daughter was diagnosed with spina bifida, myelomeningocele, and Arnold-Chiari malformation at an 18 week ultrasound. My alpha fetoprotein levels were also abnormally high. We were urged to go through with an abortion that very day, as we were just 1 1/2 weeks from the cutoff date for an "easy" abortion. We adamantly refused. At 24 weeks, our daughter was found to be perfectly healthy via a level 2 ultrasound at Mayo Clinic. This couple walked a different, harder, road. But made the same courageous choice. And oh, what we both would have missed if we had chosen otherwise! They would have missed 5 days of glory with their beautiful son, I would have missed 3 years with the precocious, flamboyant, sticks-like-glue love of Amelia Irene.

Happy anniversary

The difference is just a breath apart
on one side loneliness, on the other warmth
Seven years I've waited for something to break my heart
but you just keep holding on

I sometimes waver between trust and fear
wonder whether someday God's gonna take me
My choice is to remember every morning I'm still here
just keep holding on to love

Seven years or seventy and seven
dreams unfinished or dreams forgotten in the dust
Just keep walking hand in hand, just keep livin'
Till death I'll just keep holding on

You're still the reason I hold on this tight, the reason I live this hard, the reason I am this warm, the reason I believe in oh, so many things I never believed in before. It's been the best season of my life. I can't wait to see what you eclipse it with in the next seven.

Magical moment

Rarity brings pleasure; what is fleeting may be intensely enjoyed. The short life - one sun-drenched August - of these teepees made of beans in Grandma's garden has not lessened their magic.

So, remove grief and anger from your heart
and put away pain from your body,
because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.
Ecclesiastes 11:10


As many of you know, I am spending this week, and probably next, undergoing extensive outpatient testing to determine the cause of my fainting episodes. I am down at Mayo-St. Mary's Hospital, with the consequent pleasure of spending my evenings and nights at Hawk Ridge Stables in Pepin (a.k.a. oldest and dearest friends home on a ridge in the Pepin bluffs, surrounded by horses and God's greenery). Thereby somewhat cut off from the internet, I went ahead and posted photos ahead of time so there is something new to see on these pages for those who faithfully read. I will make every attempt to post the status of my testing as things occur this week and next.

Purple people eater

If I have descended into some alternate universe without realizing it, will someone please pinch me? My doctor's appointment today was encouraging, on the one hand, and a bit intimidating at the same time! I received my "itinerary" at 2:30 this afternoon: yes, at Mayo, medical testing has been streamlined to the point that you feel as though you are checking in to board a flight. First up: a sweat test. According to Mayo's website, this will involve wearing "a disposable bathing suit and an orange powder is applied to the skin. The patient is then placed in a hot room to induce sweating, or until the core temperature reaches 100.8 degrees. The orange powder will turn purple where the patient sweats. In this way, physicians can determine if the patient has abnormal sweating patterns. A small battery operated current may be used to stimulate the sweat glands directly during the resting sweat output test."

Okay, I'm a Vikings fan, I can handle sweating purple for a few hours. I'm a little disgruntled that they scheduled this test first, leaving me purple for the rest of my day of testing! Apparently the purple color stays with you for about a day, and stains your clothes, too. For some reason, they warned me not to wear pantyhose to the test. Upon hearing this, I gave the nurse a sardonic look and asked her if she really felt it necessary to give me - the blue jeans and black t-shirt clad woman before her - this bit of information. She laughed and said, "Honey, you never can tell...even with the males!" Hilarious!

After the joys of the sweat test, I will have some routine tests: EKG, echocardiogram, and an MRI to investigate an old cyst I have in my brain. Should be interesting, but not too disturbing. Disturbing comes on Day #3: autonomic testing. This involves having sweat collection cells suctioned onto my arms and legs. I really want to know who is paid to remove and collect my sweat! I'm a nurse, and I've done some nasty things, but that is about the nastiest job I can think of! Then a small electric current is sent through my arms and legs to simulate peripheral nerve stress. If I don't faint after that, they will have me do a series of exercises and regular breathing routines, measuring my bloodwork, cardiac function, and sweat levels to check for undue nervous system response. If all else fails, they'll tilt me on that lovely tilt table again - to nearly standing, while receiving the current, collecting the sweat, doing bloodwork, measuring my vital signs and doing a carotid doppler to check blood flow to my brain. I am getting overstimulated just thinking about it!

Prayer requests for tomorrow & Friday:
  1. A sense of humor to help me cope with all this rather invasive and insulting round of testing
  2. Answers for the docs
  3. Fainting during the autonomic test so they can tell what's going on
  4. Cancer: my voice is changing again, which has me on edge. Please pray that I might be able to get in for a throat ultrasound to rule out new cancer growth while I am down here.
I will try to post some photos of the very purple me tomorrow - if not there are some prettier pictures waiting to post automatically! Thank you for the prayers.


It's nice to feel understood. As I read over those verses yesterday, the verses on my own personal list of motherhood rules, I was struck that God totally gets it that I'm selfish. Instead of just constantly reminding me to change, to give up my selfishness and be a better person, He instead uses it to motivate me. The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. (Provers 29:15) He doesn't say, "Correct your kid because it's good for him", or "correct your kid so he will behave", or even, "correct your kid so he won't go to jail or murder someone or something". Instead, He motivates me with the specter of my own disgrace! Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

The only appropriate photo to accompany these thoughts is one of my mischievous son, who daily reminds me that I have entered a new realm as mother now that I have a boy-child to rear! Here he is checking out his sisters new microscope, which was hidden on a high counter. Alas, the child has learned to climb!