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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Day after Today

Midnight will ring in the new year... 2009. It's a new calendar, a new date on checks, and time to start collecting tax forms. Oh, sorry, shouldn't have brought that up.

Does the New Year mean anything to you? Do you stay up to watch the ball drop? Light fireworks? Kiss your honey? 

We used to do all that, and wax philosophical at the same time. However, now we realize that the next day will come whether we are awake at 12:01 or not. And that my computer will automatically change the year on my custom checks. 

So, see ya in 2009, because I'm heading to bed! 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Calling Mister Prasil, Calling Mister Joe Prasil

My first high school experience was in a DoD school (Department of Defense) in Japan. Johnson High School, to be exact. DoD schools are very careful about the teachers they hire - at least they were back when I was in high school.

So when I took English Lit my sophomore year with Mr. J J Prasil, I learned a LOT! We took apart, symbol by symbol, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Colors, names, images, themes, you name it, we came away with layer upon layer of meaning.

That's why I'm looking for Mr. Prasil today. Last night we went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, also by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Wouldn't you know, the main female character's name is the same as the main female character in Great Gatsby.... hmmmm. What does one make of that? Also, the entire premise of life lived backwards has some real ideas to chew on.

So, I either need to hear what Mr. Prasil thought of this movie (and how closely it resembles the short story - because the movie is decidedly NOT short), or I need to find the Cliff notes. Or I'll be chewing on these ideas for a long, long time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Save money??? Live Better


Okay, so what's wrong with this picture? Mark was the one who noticed it and told one of the floor managers, who promptly shook his head and got someone out there to fix it. Makes you wonder about WalMart math, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's in a word?

It is terribly difficult to convey emotion in print. Great writers can create the nuances necessary so that the reader can discern between serious intent and humor. Doesn't sound that hard, actually, but in the real world of emails, blogs, and Facebook postings, it can be very hard indeed to distinguish a person's emotional disposition - unless you use the ever-famous emoticon. :-) That's a dead giveaway, or should be.

So, long live emoticons and LOLs and the like. Because without the telltale smirk, how do you know if I'm joking?

All I Want for Christmas...


I was fine until I wrote that headline. Then it occurred to me what I'd want for Christmas. I'd want Timmy restored to where the majority of 16 month-old boys are... wide eyed with wonder at the tree, reaching for ornaments, hovering around Mama's legs so that Santa doesn't get too close.

But God has given me something else. I get to see how He is drawing Marshall and Lara closer to Himself, and is supplying all their needs for Timmy.

So, here's the Timster, snuggled up with Santa near the Shamu tank, I think. A bit of an odd juxtaposition, but so is a sleeping child in Santa's arms.

Jesus holds him even closer.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry CHRISTMAS, with a capital C!

This is great! They do get in your face, but make a great point. So, bah humbug on the Happy Holidays...call it what it is! Merry Christmas!

Cinnamon Tums?


I admit I've been getting heartburn way too much lately. And when it's really bad, it makes me cough terribly.

So we - the Papa and I - went to Cinnabon and brought home some mini-cinnis, regular and pecan. Tasty little morsels...going down.

Each place you go that features cinnamon seems to use a different international variety. Cinnamon at Starbucks tastes different than cinnamon at say, Cinnabon. Well, and Cinnabon does have all that wonderful cream cheese frosting, but I digress.

Within a half hour of indulging in two mini-cinnis and two pecan minis, the heartburn arrived with a vengeance. Tum-ta-tum-tum to the rescue!

We have a variety of Tums in our pantry. Out of curiosity, I decided to read the labels. The extra strength mint one had sucrose as its first ingredient (yes, sugar, which happens to make heartburn worse for me), and - get this - TALC! Hasn't talc been put on the carcinogenic list? eeek!

So I reached for the smooth dissolving chocolate flavored Tums. These little goodies qualify as dessert all by themselves. But I had to chuckle when I read the "active ingredients" followed by the "inactive ingredients." Calcium bicarbonate. Yep. On which list, you ask? On BOTH! Active and inactive. Huh?

But at least it doesn't have talc. I'm feeling much better, thank you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it Snow!

Usually I wouldn't say that, because I'm no longer a kid who can pull out the toboggan and head for a hill. No, I have to drive in the stuff. But today was a different matter.

Largely due to the fact that Moody Bible Institute employees come from a 100 mile radius to Chicago, and the weather went anywhere from ice storm to 12 inches of powder, we actually had a snow day today! Here in lovely northern Plainfield (makes it sound rather large) we got a layer of ice, followed by a few inches of white, then nicely coated again with glaze.

While the weather was transitioning from snow to rain again, it was warm enough to get some of the chunks off the cars and sidewalks. Good news, because we're expecting teen and single digit temps and chills in the next few days.

But did I take the day off? Only to the extent that I didn't feel guilty taking a nap this afternoon. Otherwise, I finished up several emails, plans for catalog, and general details.

Ah, yes, those are good days...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blog envy

Oh, my, I thought I was so "with it" having a blog. But of course, it is fairly private, never visited, and doesn't given much in the way of talk show fodder, so I can understand why it stays under the heap of blogs.

But when I saw Ray Pritchard's blog, I really felt bad. Man, he's got all the stuff a full blown blog should have, and it's connected to his Facebook, etc. Woe is me... I'm going to have to beef this thing up!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh, what fun it is to ...sit


I know Britany did or will share this on her blog, but it sure is cute! And her commentary on it was funny, too:

Oliver + Santa = BFF

Well I am glad that the picture turned out well because the hour of waiting for Santa was enough to give me a minor heart attack. Ollie was running around, crying, wanting juice that I didn't have. But as soon as Ollie was asked to sit on a bearded tooth missing fat man he was all smiles. Oh geez.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm B-a-a-a-a-a-a-ck!


What a bittersweet week in southern California. I wish I didn't have to leave, but then I do have to get back to work and hubby. If only ...

Please check Lara's post on their blog complete with pictures in their gallery.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guilty as Charged


I was charged with being non-traditional. I was charged with being negative. And I'm guilty on both counts. You see, I already sent out the Christmas letter, but I sent it out as a PDF to those for whom I had email addresses. Hence, the "non-traditional."

Then I was charged with being negative, because, well, 2008 had some pretty negative things happen - more so than previous years. So, yes, it did sound negative.

But let us not grieve like those who have no hope... that's a quote from Scripture. And I believe it, but sometimes my head and my heart aren't exactly lined up. Rats! If only I could be perfect.

So, here is the offending letter: Begins with...

Can you gift wrap 2008, please, and send it somewhere else???

Maybe that’s a bit strong, but I believe that 2008 has been a trying one for much of the world. So much so that we are looking forward to Jesus’s return even more! Joy to the World, let the Lord come again!

Good news and bad news in the Elfstrand household for 2008:

Mark and Rhonda still have their jobs...yea! And for the most part were healthy the whole year! Another yea! Travel for fun and profit included. Pictures can be found at flickr.com/relfstrand. We are hurting (and praying) for our kids - does that ever stop??? Find Rhonda on Facebook.

Marshall and Lara have had a stressful year, but are first to say that God is sustaining them through it all. They moved from Boise back to southern California, but couldn’t sell their home, so are losing money on renting it out. Shortly after the move to southern California, they began to notice developmental problems with Timmy (16 months old at Christmas). Just before Father’s Day, they got the diagnosis of Leigh Syndrome (Leigh’s Disease), a rare and incurable mitochondrial disease. Updates can be found at elfstrand.net.

Adam and Britany have had a stressful year in other ways. They finally were able to move into their own place and were grateful that both of them were fully employed, but then the other shoe(s) dropped. Half of Adam’s office was laid off, including Adam. Just previous, Britany had postponed back surgery for a herniated disc so that their new year insurance could kick in. Not to happen. Oliver (21 months at Christmas) is a cute and active redhead. They keep some pictures and fun blogs going at britanyelfstrand.blogspot.com and adamelfstrand.blogspot.com.

Ingrid and Andy have had their share of stresses, with the housing market going south, and Andy wishing to go fulltime with CEF ministry, but not having the income to go with it. Shortly after moving into a home in Naperville, their basement flooded. Ashley (3 years, 9 months at Christmas) is now attending preschool and loving it. And Amberleigh (16 months at Christmas) is just the most lovable little girl ever. Find Ingrid on Facebook (a lot!) with updates and pictures.

Mom and Dad Sawyer have had some health issues this year, but are currently doing well and appreciate the friends and relatives that live near them. Grandma Nelson celebrated #99 on November 1!

So, there you have it. Guilty!!! Lord, help my unbelief.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Random Thanksgiving

And here are just two of the reasons why I'm thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

According to the quiz, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday as of the 1930s (?) or was it 40s? Oh, well.

The appetizers are about ready to roll over to Ingrid's house. And we'll be rolling out of their house later today if we're not careful. The chocolate chip pecan pie is out of the oven. The spinach dip is ripening in the refrigerator and hawaiian bread torn for its merriment. The Macy's parade is playing in the background. Sausage has browned with peppers and onions for the wonton bites. Veggies and fruits cut. Meats and cheeses and crackers in their respective platters.

Will there be room for turkey and smashed potatoes and sweet potato pone and green bean casserole, etc? You bet!

Oh, and I forgot those cute little Pilgrim Hat cookies I found on familyfun.com made with shortbread cookies, marshmallows, melted chocolate, and I substituted a square of Life cereal for the buckle rather than frosting.

But I could get lost in all this, and very nearly did. I'm really thankful. I can see the keyboard. I can smell the food. I can pay the bills. I feel the warmth of a house. I will see my two grandgirls, and know my two grandsons will be together today. No one in our family is in the hospital (today!). And as far as the Lord has revealed, our family will all be celebrating the Lord for eternity. Now THAT is something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Did you ever want a twin?


As I was perusing catalogs and online offerings for Christmas glut, I came across the My Twinn doll (there is probably supposed to be a registered trademark next to that name).

I always thought this would really be cute: a doll that looks (almost) exactly like its little owner. Hair color, hair style, eye color, skin color, and matching outfits. You can even pay to have freckles put on, or a particular birthmark.

But then I got to thinking, what if the child is creeped out by this? Do you think they would be? Or would it be fun to have a mini-me?

Friday, November 21, 2008

And the winner is!

Looks like I could get just about any kind of pizza and someone would like it. So much for that poll. Perhaps we should vote on the best "chicken crossed the road" joke. I was just sent a whole chicken-yard full of them, and I was laughing out loud, which isn't kosher in a cubicle. If you'd like to see some of them, let me know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's Your Favorite Pizza?

I'm trying out a poll on this blog. Let me know what your favorite kind of pizza is... stuffed, thin, certain pizza house, what toppings? This could get huge, because we are all loyal to certain pizza, I think. Okay, so you can either comment or you can take the little poll on the sidebar or bottom of page (assuming it's working.).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Pain

I'd prefer to run from pain. I'm a wimp. I've always been a wimp. When emotional pain gets too hard, I prefer to get far away from it.

So I was thinking on my way home...I'd like to go to heaven. Now. But then another thought hit me like a ton of bricks (well, so to speak).

If you aren't praising God now, what makes you think you'll want to praise Him for eternity?

Ouch. The Pain.

The Big versus the Little Picture

Complicated...that's what personal and national economics are...complicated!

Since I don't allow anonymous comments on this blog, I got a personal email regarding something I said about voting. I wanted whoever may read this blog to see the comment and my response. Again, this would be a very looooooong blog if we were to discuss all the historical ramifications of bail outs, personal responsibility, self-government, etc. So this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Comment:

I was just reading your blog...and since it won't let me comment (no anonymous or "name" option), I just thought I would write you an email...
I noticed on the day before voting day, you were saying all the things to vote for.
One of them you mentioned was to vote for independent, not state run, healthcare.
That kinda stung, especially since you know that my family and [others]have both been on (and are currently on) public aid. You voting to not have health insurance for us is just painful to think about. Not to mention all the other people that can't get jobs or healthcare.
What we SHOULD be voting for is for the insurance companies to lower their ridiculously high rates for independent purchasers. Because right now, my family can not afford 500 dollars a month for insurance that doesn't even cover everything!

just food for thought....

My response:

In general, a person’s individual autonomy is to be respected above the government having control over your life. I, too, was on state aid when [our firstborn] was born. I appreciated it was there, which is a two-edged sword. And yes, the economy needs to cause insurance companies to be more reasonable with their premiums and payments. Doctors are having a hard time (ask Sue Claydon) paying their own bills. So it is a really hard thing to think about.

There are also Christian insurance companies that are more like co-ops, where people pay in what they can, and then draw out when they need it.

We really should be taking care of each other, rather than depending on the government. In the meantime, and in the day to day, you do what you have to do to take care of your family, and that is what you’re doing. But in the big picture, the more we depend on the government, the more the government will control our lives from the cradle to the grave. Not a good picture.

More food for thought…

What Happens in Vegas...

You'll never guess what my husband asked me the other day. Well, maybe by virtue of the title of this post, you will guess.

He said he'd been thinking about what we should do for our 32nd anniversary (wow, that doesn't seem possible)and suggests that we get a package to Las Vegas and see Donny and Marie Osmond! Is this crazy?

Vegas does have some good deals, and incredible architecture. We really aren't tempted by gambling. So maybe it would be a good thing to do in Mid-January.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Just when you thought there was nothing to worry about...

Wait to introduce peanuts... don't wait to introduce peanuts...

Man, I guess we might as well jump in at any point and just not worry about it, huh? Now they are saying that your child is more likely to get a peanut allergy if you WAIT to introduce peanuts.

Just where did all these allergies come from anyway? I don't remember them when I was growing up. So perhaps today is a good day for the grandkids to get a peanut butter sandwich.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm over it...

It hasn't been quite 48 hours, and I've gone from disbelief, to anger, to depression, to ... acquiescence.

I've been getting all kinds of emails from other believers and, no, they have not been hateful or hurtful, they have been a call to prayer. I have to agree.

God has a purpose and a plan. May He be merciful to us as a nation, and bless us as we turn to Him.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Please help me, we're falling...

And will we get up? Will the polls be right? Or will God be merciful to us, a sinful nation?

Yes, God is sovereign. But I've read the Old Testament, folks. I know what happens to people who don't listen to God. I've read the sin/slavery/repent cycle. We are in the sin cycle. The very selfish sin cycle.

"Change"? We need change, all right. But it is a grass roots change we need. A heart change. How long will it take for this nation to wake up?

Answer: when Jesus returns.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vote!

Vote for LIFE
Vote for Liberty
Vote for the founding fathers
Vote for individual responsibility
Vote for less government
Vote for freedom around the world
Vote for freedom to worship God anywhere and everywhere
Vote for the constitution - you do have freedom of speech (ideas), freedom of the press, freedom to bear arms, freedom to assemble
Vote for localized, not nationalized, government
Vote for independent, not state run, health care
Vote for the platform of the party that represents these American ideals
Vote McCain and Palin

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Aye, chihuahua!

You know you're losing it when a dog story makes you cry. I guess I've always been a sucker for a story where the "underdog" makes good. Where someone is acknowledged, and surprised by the acknowledgment.

So if you haven't seen this cute movie, I don't want to spoil it for you. Just watch for a German Shepherd named Delgado.

Mi corazon es su corazon...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Once a mom, always a mom

You never do quit being a mom, the days just look slightly different.

I can't stop being concerned about whether my children are fulfilled, safe, living in God's will for their marriages and families, and about their health and welfare in general.

Lord, in your power, your might, your love, and your omniscience, please provide exactly what each needs to be more like you today.

And then, Lord, would You remind me that You are the only One who can provide, so that I can remove it from my list of things to do???

Friday, October 24, 2008

scrolling by

Have you ever watched the "new posts" scroll by on E-blogger? This morning, when I logged on, most of them were in Chinese! Wow!

But speaking of scrolling by, I feel like that's all I'm doing at home these days. I come home long enough to unpack and repack and say "hi". Sometimes not even enough time to do laundry.

I usually put "travel" on my list of things I enjoy. But now, that enjoyment is slipping slightly in the ratings. I guess what I should say is that I enjoy variety. And too much of the same thing, whether it is being home or being on the road, starts to wear on me.

My bags are packed....I'm ready to go ... I'm standing here ... or typing or whatever...and heading to Cleveland. In the rain, no less. Do I sound tired? Do I sound ungrateful? oops

Keep on scrolling by then.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Love... for granted

The things we do for love... (a song from decades ago and the actions of involved parents)
The things we take for granted... (like being able to eliminate waste from the body)

Marshall and Lara are on their way to the hospital with Timmy, yet again. The "mama diagnosis" is dehydration and resultant dry/clean diapers. Dry and clean sound good until you realize that a baby's diapers are not supposed to be either for very long. It means that food is not getting where it needs to go.

Prayer is always appreciated.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

True Woman and beyond

It's very hard to keep a conference "high" going. I just returned from the True Woman '08 conference, exactly 40 years after the NOW convention that kicked off "women's lib." True Womanhood, however, is not based on "self actualization" but on glorification of God through the biblical role He has given us. Not an easy task, this swimming upstream.

I signed the True Woman manifesto, and meant every assent. But I know that the only way I'll put into practice all that was taught is to stay in the Word of God continually.

Prayer is what will keep me in the Word. Help me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

you snooze, you lose

Wrong! I haven't been snoozing and that is why I'm feeling a bit pekid. Going from one conference to another. How do consultants do it? How do conference speakers do it? Okay, this time I have to remember to take my ear plugs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Answers to prayer


Do you want to see prayer in action? Look at the picture of Timmy on his hands and knees! Didn't get there by himself, but he's practicing with physical therapy, and God is so good to strengthen his little body. I imagine that after a session, he's about worn out, but it sure is good to see him up and about.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Feed a cold?

The cold that is making its rounds at our office and family knocked me down starting Friday. It takes its own sweet time going through its cycle - sore throat, runny nose, headache, dry cough, croupy cough. I'm in the cough stage, with a bit of the nose and headache hanging on.

If you talk to a type 1 diabetic, they'll tell you that a high blood sugar can signify an infection. And of course, when a person's blood sugar is up, they don't need to eat. I know that a cold is a virus, but viruses will also elevate the blood sugar. So that tells me that, no, you don't feed a cold or a fever - just wait until the stomach growls. That will give you a clear indication of when to eat.

And there is the simplified medical training for the day. Without a license, and no charge.

I think I feel a headache coming on. Time for a nap.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where is Waldo (President Waldo, that is)?

After hearing much of the debate last night, I can understand why McCain didn't want to participate. But lest you think I'm an Obama fan, I can't for the life of me figure out why he wanted to show up.

I am very sad for this country. I didn't see or hear a presidential leader last night. For some people, the economy is the biggest issue. If you have a job and money in the bank, you should be grateful. I am grateful. But there is an undercurrent going on that is so much bigger than just the economic symptom.

If last night's debate swayed a voter one way or the other, shame on them! That means they really haven't taken the time to know what they themselves believe, and what the parties stand for.

In a nutshell: Republicans hold to less government intervention in an individual's life - that the federal government should be in charge of interstate commerce, national defense, and that government should be BY the people as locally as possible. In essence, your city and state are your primary governing entities, not the federal government. By contrast, Democrats believe that the government is the solution for an individual's ills - higher taxes, higher involvement in the daily lives of a citizen. The irony is that the only "choice" in the Democrat's platform is whether or not to kill a baby. Otherwise, they will manage your life from the cradle to the grave.

Sarah Palin is the closest we have to an energized presidential candidate, and she is only on the ticket for veep. The irony, of course, of my endorsement of Palin is that, although she stands for much of what I believe, her very immersion in public life demands that she spend less time with the family she is raising. As the old commercial used to say, "What's a mother to do?"

So, let the voter beware. Know what your party stands for and where it is ultimately leading... to personal responsibility or to socialism. Then read a real history book and see where that leads you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarcastic Scripture

Have you ever wondered if there is sarcasm in Scripture? Wonder no more... this was my morning reading and I think that Amos (speaking God's words) had just about had enough of the women in his area!

AMOS 4:1-13 (NIV)

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, "Bring us some drinks!"

The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness: "The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.

You will each go straight out through breaks in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon," declares the LORD.

"Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years.

Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings--boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do," declares the Sovereign LORD.

***********************
I think I got it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

split personality!

See that picture of me on the sidebar? That's me having more than one role. At least that's how I see it. But what happens when we really have the wrong idea of who we are and where we are headed? Check out this statistic!

~ Paradox A new Harris Poll finds that 18% of Americans believe things in the U.S. are going in the right direction, while 76% think things are pretty seriously off-track. Yet 76% say things in their personal lives are going in the right direction, while only 20% say their personal situation is seriously off-track. (Harris Poll Weekly 8/26/08)~

Somebody's got their head(s) on backwards!

Unproductive in the US

These are some very disturbing statistics for the family life of America. There are other more disturbing facts, such as the changing face of Christianity in the US, but for now, munch on these:

Childless The percentage of childless women in the U.S. who have reached the end of their child-bearing years has doubled from 10% to 20% in the last 30 years, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey reports, “Women 40-44 will end their childbearing years with an average of 1.9 children each, a number below replacement-level fertility.” This compares to 3.1 in ’76. 36% of the women who gave birth in ’06 were separated, widowed, divorced or never married. 5% were living with a partner. Most women who go on to post-secondary education wait until age 30 to 34 to have children. 27% of women with undergraduate degrees and upwards are childless. Only the U.S. Hispanic and Black populations are replacing themselves with an average of 2.3 and 2.0 children born per woman, making them the only stabilizing force in the population. At this rate, experts say, whites will be the U.S. minority by 2042. (LifeSite News 8/19/08)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday morning

Heading to church. Got the Bible. Going to see the grandchildren after church. Community Day following. Blue skies. Latte finished. Is there something else?

Perhaps I've neglected the Creator...Savior... no perhaps about it. Thank you, Lord, for a beautiful day full of treats from You.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In the Midst

A while back, Lara asked for songs that were particularly meaningful. This morning, as I was preparing for work, I heard the Casting Crowns song "Praise You in the Storm." This is for Marshall and Lara as they live each day loving each other, and loving and caring for Timmy. It is for Britany, as she lives with pain and the potential for surgery.

It's the old adage that God may not always calm the storm, but He will see you through it. Here are the lyrics...

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as You mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will life my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lies I Believe

On Wednesday nights, our women's Bible study is reading and working through Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I am wondering just how deep the lies go in my life. Unfortunately, I'm aware of most of them, and choose to operate as if I weren't. Bad news.

Good news is I'm not alone, and I mean spiritually.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Crowded brain cells?

I think my brain needs to breathe a bit. Part of what causes "crowding of the brain" is the anxiety surrounding me. I can't stand ripping of relationship fabric. Even the potential makes my brain crawl. Threats. Perceived or real.

Breathe.

Here are the things that cover anxiety - humor, food, anger, withdrawal, more food...

Time for another course.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Antsy ... Angsty

Could be food
Could be mood
All I know
It isn't good

Far behind
Can't unwind
All I know
I'm in a bind

Sabbatical
Fanatical
Mechanical
Botanical

Take your pick

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Thank you, Hallmark

Where would we be without the card industry? Would we have 50% of our calendar "holidays?" Take today, for example. Grandparents Day. When did that happen? Not being a grandparent, I mean the holiday. Another day to feel guilty that you didn't get a card or call or send a gift. Please, no more guilt!

I wish my grandma had a computer ...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Good Intentions

When are you helping the poor, and when are you actually hurting? Right now, on Moody Radio, Mark is talking about nine hot buttons of social issues. Is WalMart the bad guy? Is it the government's job to take care of people? Important questions, especially when determining what political party represents you (and a biblical worldview).

Monday, September 01, 2008

You heard it here, almost first

If Sarah Palin can run, why not I? Please vote for me in the November election. Click HERE for the news story.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Golden

You know how birthdays are called "golden" when you have the same numeral on the calendar as your age? Well, how about when the year I was born is the same as the age I am? Is that platinum?

ADDENDUM: I just went (Sunday morning) for coffee at the local Starbucks where the barista gave me a piece of banana chocolate coffee cake in honor of my birthday. But that's not the point...

Her birthday is tomorrow - she was born the same year as I was and therefore is the same age. We agreed that this should be our platinum year! Bad news for my kids, who were born in '77, '80, and '82. Yep, you've got a ways to go...

Waxing


Philosophical, that is.

I suppose on birthdays you are allowed to get all sappy and wax philosophical. I dont' feel like it.

Birthdays are a good thing because it means you've lived another year. But frankly, I don't really care if I have cake or a celebration. I'd rather just have people smile and remember. Yes, memories and photos are what I like. Could you tell?

A good conversation starter is "tell me about the first birthday you remember." I'm not sure I remember my own birthdays. I remember friends' birthdays. It could be due to the fact that in Montana school started the last week of August, and on more than one occasion, that start date was my birthday. So I associate my birthday with school starting. Could that be why I like school?

That's about as philosophical as I'm going to get. Ciao for now, as I sip my green tea and wait for Amberleigh to awaken.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You mean it's legal?

Jokes did abound when I was in high school about "hemp." I mean, it's the source of all evil, right? Well, in the last six months or so I have discovered Hemp Milk at my local coffee shop. They make a great latte, I must say. Nutty flavor, no milk product (ironic, huh?), and 46% of your daily calcium requirement.

May be a bit pricey, but if you are milk intolerant, like a lot of us, and you don't drink the stuff by the gallon, it might be worth a look and taste. Check out this article I found on it.

I wonder if it would work as a baby formula? Hmmmmm...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Alerts

At the risk of sounding really elementary and/or pedantic... did you know that you can set an alert to come to your email on any word or topic you choose? I've done our name (Elfstrand) as well as our company (Moody Publishers), and now I've added "mitochondrial." Don't know why I didn't think of that before, but I really want to stay up with current research, so now anything that hits the news or websites will come to my inbox. Cool, huh? It's Google that does this, and you have to drill down a bit to find the alerts section, but worth it.

Off to read the latest...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Deflective

Instead of blogging the trip, I wrote captions under the 324 pictures I took! Just click on the Flickr badge in the right hand column on this page, and then click on the California Trip set when you get to Flickr. Happy perusing!
The Timmy smile

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tick, click, whirrr, boing

(watch for the Flickr account when we get back. Until I get a phone that can text better than triple tapping, I can't post pictures to the blog like Lara does!)

The sounds of the hospital are becoming more familiar, but nothing can compare to what Lara has gotten used to every night sleeping there!

It is so great to be here...complete with tears and smiles and meeting the friends and medical staff who have been taking care of the family (especially Timmy) for so long.

I was one of many who set up for Timmy's birthday in a large "media room" in the Children's Hospital. The Children's Hospital is attached to the main hospital where Timmy happens to have his room. He's on a floor with other kids having non-contagious medical problems. It is so sad to see them, and know that some have been there almost as long as Timmy.

Anyway, Elmo did a major invasion and like Lara posted, when we all sang Happy Birthday, Timmy was all smiles. The Pastor spoke on Psalm 139, which was even more poignant for us with Timmy - God knows him inside and out and has a plan for his life, however brief that might be. Monday was his real birthday, but we combined the dedication and birthday celebration into one.

Tears have come and gone a lot, especially when I'm reading to Timmy and come across something that means a lot, or that I can foresee meaning a lot. I couldn't even get through reading him the 23rd Psalm.

Sunday night, when we still thought Timmy would go into surgery on Monday, Lara went home for a good night's rest and I took the pull out chair/bed. "Bed" is a loose term here! Timmy was having a hard time falling asleep, most likely due to all the stress and strain of the day of celebration. He was very stiff and the nurse thinks he had a mini seizure while in my arms rocking. May be, and I was not near the nurse call button, so in a most unprofessional manner I yelled "HELP!" Timmy was gagging and foamy froth was coming from his mouth and nose. I was concerned, to say the least.

The nurse got him suctioned out and after another hour of trying to calm him (by the way, he never really cries, he just moans and stiffens and thrashes), he got his meds and went to sleep. But did Nana? No way! I was "on guard" and so every time another child cried (there are two other babies in the room just separated by curtains)or a nurse came in, I turned to see that Timmy was still sleeping okay.

Hence the tick and click and whirrr and boing. At 2 AM when the nurse came to switch him over from formula to IV fluids only (in expectation of the surgery), the new machine made louder sounds that eventually lulled me into one of the two hours of sleep I got. Lara, you're a saint!

So we are excited that the surgery for the G-J tube is actually on the docket for the day. We are heading over now to get coffee and bring Lara breakfast. Then after the surgery, we'll give Lara some time to get a nap and a shower.

Side note: while we were having a mini-birthday celebration on the hospital plaza last night, Ingrid came down with an excruciating pain that sent us to the emergency room. Luckily, it was in walking distance! There were 60 people ahead of her, and since she didn't come by ambulance, well, she was put on the "list." Needless to say, after an hour, the pain subsided and we decided that home - wherever that might be - would be better than sitting there.

More later - but I cannot post as often as Lara can, and the pictures will be uploaded on Sunday, Lord willing.

Friday, August 08, 2008

recognition

Last night, Ashley and Amberleigh came over while their mommy and daddy went on a date to see Wall-E. Mommy and Daddy came in separate vehicles: Daddy on his motorcycle and Mommy bringing the girls.

(Amberleigh will be one year old on August 21. She is motoring around via her hands and knees quite a bit now, so we have to watch her like a hawk.)

When her Daddy walked into the kitchen after parking his cycle, Amberleigh's eyes lit up, she kicked her feet (she was sitting in her high chair at the time), and she started playing peek a boo and babbling. She was recognizing her Daddy and so excited to see him!

A few days ago an email was traveling around with 52 questions on it, getting to know family and friends by some seemingly innocuous queries. I love getting those things, although it takes some time to actually fill them out.

When I got Lara's responses, some made me smile and some made me sad. Sadness because I recognize their pain, and also some very Nana-focused sadness. To "Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?" this was Lara's response...
- Timmy is smiling and giggling with people that he knows.

Viewed from southern California, that is indeed an exciting turn of events. Viewed from Chicago, however, that becomes very sad. I am not one of those people he knows. It makes me want to weep. Marshall and Lara have an incredible set of support people around them who love them and care for their daily needs. Consequently, those people are more like family than we are. And that makes me very sad. Timmy may very likely perk up when he sees a church member but not when he sees his Nana and Papa.

I can't take this personally, but it is really hard. And I'm going to have to save my pennies so that I can fly out there more often and be one of those people that he recognizes as loving him and praying for him and singing to him.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Do Babies Go to Heaven?

Here's a preview (or a review if you don't catch it on air)of a conversation to take place on WMBI-FM, Chicago, this morning between 7:40 AM and 8 AM. Thanks to Bryan Litfin, professor at Moody Bible Institute. These are just notes, but please do comment, or send him or WMBI your comments.

Do Babies Go to Heaven?

Importance of the question

Many people have suffered tragic loss through miscarriage, abortion, stillborn children, or early infant death. It’s an issue of great importance. Who among us doesn’t know someone who has suffered such loss?

Sentimental answer vs. Biblical answer

Let’s let the Word of God speak to us, not human emotions. Babies are not little angels sitting on the lap of Jesus. God doesn’t take them to heaven just because they are cute. Jesus did welcome children to come to him, but he wasn’t teaching us about their salvation in those passages.

If we are honest, we must say the Bible gives us guidance on the issue, but it doesn’t lay it all out in one place in a systematic way. We have to piece it together. But when we do, I believe the Bible clearly teaches that young children who die go to heaven.

What does the Scripture say? Here are two facts about God:

1. God is abundantly merciful – “abounding in lovingkindness.” His character is to be gracious and kind. We should assume this about him. He never penalizes anyone to hell unfairly. The baseline assumption is that he is treating us with grace. Exodus 34:6.

2. God has a sovereign plan for every person.

In Psalm 139, it says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God sees us in the womb and knits us together and numbers all our days.

In Luke 1, the unborn John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb.

In Galatians 1, Paul says God separated him for a holy task from his mother’s womb.

In Psalm 22:9 David says the same thing.

The point is, God has a plan for each child from conception. We should assume his tender mercy toward every human being. Yet of course, he judges and sends people to hell...why?

All human beings are sinful from conception. They have inherited a sin nature from Adam.

In Psalm 51, David says, “In sin my mother conceived me.”

Romans 5 teaches that the sin of Adam has been passed to all men.

So, some theologians say some babies go to hell because of their inherited sin from Adam.

The problem is: the Bible nowhere teaches this! When hell or eternal punishment is described, it is for those who consciously do the deeds of evil – especially the evil of unbelief. People go to heaven or hell based on whether they accept the one true God by faith, or don’t.

Romans 1 teaches that people know enough to believe in the Creator God, yet they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Thus, they incur a fair penalty of eternal death. Everybody has to have a chance to hear, and adults with understanding have that chance by observing nature.

In contrast, babies, though they are sinful because of their inherited sin, are not old enough to have willfully sinned. They have not discerned God in Creation and rejected him. They have not spurned the Gospel message after understanding right and wrong. That is why Jeremiah 19:4 describes children offered as sacrifices to pagan gods as being “innocent.” They are not old enough to have committed sin deserving of final punishment.

NOTE that babies are saved by the blood of Christ and by grace! I’m not saying they are innocent and go to heaven because of their own innate merit. Far from it! In God’s grace, he applies the work of Christ to them. He does this because they have not committed the lawless and rebellious deeds that Scripture says send you to hell. Hell is never linked to infants or original sin; it is always linked to evildoers who knowingly reject God!

A few other points:

Job 3 says that stillborn infants are peacefully at rest in their death, and their situation is better than to be alive on earth.

The Bible doesn’t teach an age of accountability.

My comments probably also apply to the mentally handicapped, who, like children, cannot in full understanding reject the Gospel.

Why would God accept all babies into heaven? One reason might be this. As we view the world around us, we see that most people are hellbound. It seems like the number of Christians is small. Does that mean heaven will be lightly populated, while hell will be full? No–not if you count all the souls of people who are conceived and then die before birth! Something like 1 in 4 pregnancies spontaneously abort, and many more children die at childbirth, throughout history, and in poor countries today. Heaven will be full of these people! Though this is not directly stated in Scripture, it helps solve the theological problem that “the way is narrow that leads to life,” yet we don’t believe heaven will be far less full than hell.

Rhonda's note: This isn't the end of the conversation, obviously. Another uplifting verse for all of us is Jeremiah 29:11. But this side of heaven has dim vision.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Nana and the Robot

Yes, folks, I really was working. But this cute robot decided to dedicate a dance to Ashley, Amberleigh (but he calls her Amber), Oliver, and Timmy. So, have fun!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Circular tears

I thought I'd share Lara's blog with you today, followed by my comment. I thought the tears had stopped for a while ...

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil."
- Psalm 5:4a

"Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? Turn, O Lord, and deliver me. Save me because of your unfailing love."
- Psalm 6:2-4

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
- Philippians 3:20-21

It's hard to feel out of control. I watch as my little boy gets weaker and even the best doctors cannot really help him. They can treat the symptoms but there is no human cure for this horrible disease. I watched as he lost the strength to suck sufficiently to nurse. So we tried bottles but there were food allergies and even then he was eating all day long in order to barely get enough. Even now with the food going directly into his stomach, the inside muscles seem to be having a hard time processing the food and keeping it down. His outside muscles have lost the ability to stand or sit or hold up his head. It appears that my smiley, giggly child has lost the ability to smile or giggle or even cry.

I cry to God to please save my son from the horrible things that are happening to him. I treasure each time that I get to hold his hand or stroke his little cheek. Each time that my loving touch can bring him a bit of comfort. Each time that I get to hold up his head or change his diaper. Each time that his beautiful blue eyes recognize his mama. Do I dare to still hope for a miracle? To hope that I might see the day when my precious little one might walk and talk and smile? Nothing is impossible with God. I know that God is good and that he can save my son, but I am afraid that for some reason that's not his will. I'm afraid to believe and be disappointed. Mostly I am afraid of watching him suffer.

I believe. Help me, Lord, in my unbelief. Thank you for each precious moment. And thank you especially for the hope of heaven.

Posted by Lara at 12:10 PM

July 29, 2008 1:00 PM
Mom/Nana said...
Lara, from one Mama's heart to another, I feel so deeply for you and for our grandson! I, too, want to see him smile and hold his head up. We wish for such simple things, when all around us people are complaining that their child can't do this or that fantastic accomplishment. It's a good thing I hadn't read this when I was talking with you, because now I am weeping. One thing, besides your own spiritual life, is to safeguard your marriage during this time. Both of you holding tightly together in prayer over your little Timmy.

Every once in a while I think that the emotional roller coaster has ended, but to see two generations hurting is very difficult for this Nana. So I'll let the tears flow when they come. God can handle our tears, and our questions, and our pleas to find a cure (or miraculously provide one) for this disease.

This is going to be a circular blog today... Love and prayer continuously -

Monday, July 28, 2008

Who (or what) is king?

For many years, we've been hearing that "content is king." I'm attending a conference for tradeshow and event planners, and this afternoon's workshop was on knowing your customers' communities.

The presenter then said that content is no longer king... Community is king. Hmmmm. Would you agree?

How many community groups online do you belong to or regularly read? And do you go there primarily for the content or for the community? Is it a toss up? Is the community the conduit for the content?

Okay, the brain is now officially fried for the day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane

But I think I'll know when I'll be back, Lord willing. Work has taken me flying a lot lately, and then a week after I return from this one, we'll head out to California to be with Timmy for his first birthday. That's the trip I'm looking forward to. I wish it could have been sooner, or that we lived closer to all the kids and grandkids. But if we can just stand the flying, that makes it less than a day's trip.

I'm glad that so much of the family and friends take advantage of jetting around the country to help out. Pray for safety on all ends of the trips.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Frankly, I could hardly wait to get home and write this blog.

If you don't want to read much, let me sum up this movie in one word: embarrassment.

Silly me, I should have read some reviews. Any reviews. But because I really do like Abba music, I thought this might be fun. And in some parts it was. But other words come to mind: crude, socially irresponsible, immoral (please don't call me prudish, it really is).

You know how I've titled my blog as "a hotflash in the making?" Well, this movie was a hormone wanna-be. Tasteless is another word that comes to mind.

So save yourself the money and just buy a CD if you like the music.

32 years ago

I've missed the anniversary by a few days. On July 15, 1976, Richard Toshio Sawyer went to be with Jesus after a two year battle with cancer. He was 9 years old. In our minds he will always be 9. It seems incredible that he would be 41 years old now had he lived.

About a year later, my mom wrote a little booklet called "Take Care of My Child for a While." It was based on a poem that I think I've quoted in this blog previously. I typed it up for her on ... gasp ... a typewriter and we copied it and saddle stitched it ourselves to be distributed at a local Cancer Aid thrift store. It was my first foray into publishing. The book was a memoir of Ricky's adoption and our foibles in fitting him into our Anglo family, and subsequent cancer treatment and succumbing to the disease.

When Marshall was born in July of 1977, Mom handed me a copy of the book, signed thus: Perhaps now you will know what it means to love someone so much it hurts.

I do. And Marshall and Lara do, too. And so do the other parents in one way or another.

God, as our Father because of what Jesus has done, loved us so much He sacrificially gave up His own Son. I won't go into all the theological ramifications, but the pain runs deep on so many levels there.

I hurt for the ongoing challenge that Leigh's Disease will bring to our next generation. I want to believe that God will bring something good from this, or that perhaps He will glorify Himself by miraculously healing Timmy. But maybe the miracle will be that He will take them (and us) through the challenge.

God chooses each life He has created for a purpose. So we will continue to pray and praise God that He has given Timmy to all of us...the unexpected miracle baby.

And I will remember the life of little Ricky, too. Sometime, read his favorite story about the giant in the garden. Since I'm being a bit maudlin - he always asked me to read him that story and it always made me cry...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Your tax dollars at work

On my way in this morning, men were working on a new turn lane where I get on the highway. Couldn't help myself ... I just thought this was a cool picture.

Fountain of sparks on Weber

Remember for today

Ingrid sent this to me, and it's really not fun to have tears hit your keyboard. Don't know the author, but this reminds us of family priorities.

*Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

*Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.

*Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

*Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck and I will buy you one if he comes by.

*Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.

*Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.

*Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.

*Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.

*Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.

*Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.

*Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.

*Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.

*I will think about the mothers And fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore.

*And when I kiss you good night I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer.. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask Him for nothing, except one more day...............

Playing "dump truck"

bubbles with Timmy's Aunt Beth

Oliver and the trees

Preaching to myself

And praying Psalm 20 for Marshall and Lara and Timmy... (thanks to BibleGateway for the online Bible.)

Psalm 20
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
[RJE: Lord, You have been faithful to put the right people in place for Timmy and his family. You have protected him when his life has been in danger]
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
[RJE:We trust You, Lord, for the support You have and will give to Marshall, Lara, and especially Timmy. You have assigned people to be Your hands and Your feet during this time, tangibly surrounding them with love and gifts]
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
Selah
[Selah, indeed...rest]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
[RJE: O Father, we ask for rest at home for Timmy and Lara. I ask for health on a daily basis. I ask you that Timmy's feeding needs be met and that a network be formed for meeting all his needs today and in the days to come. We trust YOU alone to provide these things. Use us to love them and provide for them, also.]
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
[RJE: You have granted life and love and doctors and food and friends and family. YOU are victorious, even when we can't see what the victory is!]
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
[RJE: Anointed=chosen. You have indeed saved us for eternity, and we are constantly being saved this side of heaven, as well. Save Timmy, Lord, in every way we can and can't think of.]
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
[RJE: When I am tempted to lean only on the physical, please help me to see that You are working in Your power without my sight.]
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
[Amen! Thank You, Lord!]
9 O LORD, save the king!
Answer us when we call!

[AMEN!!!]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who you are praying for





No, I didn't mean "who are you praying for." I want to show you who you are praying for... our grandchildren. Starting with Timmy, who has seen more of the inside of a hospital than I ever have, and he's only 11 months old.

And then there is Oliver, who is now 16 months old and VERY redhead!!! That will earn him a lot of stranger attention throughout his life, I'm sure...

And, of course, the two we get to see the most of, so that we can watch the changes in mobility, speech, character... not to mention frequent kisses and hugs.

We love and pray for you all!

How much is that in blog years?

When a person goes a whole day without blogging, they really aren't a serious blogger. So what about those of us who just make up drivel so that we don't go a whole month without blogging?

July for this household has been woefully lacking in time for serious thought! Babysitting, travel, tradeshows, conferences, and throw in two days of vacation and what do you have? Blog fodder, of course.

Thanks to a passer by

We were treated royally for two days (well not quite a whole two days, but close enough) to a friend's home in a gated community, complete with BMW convertible with "beach tags" on it so we could take this picture. It was a lovely ending to a hectic 8 days.

But when I got back to work on Monday my blogging coworkers complained that I was posing. What self-respecting thoughtful individual has nothing to say for a whole week?

And may I add that this blog really didn't count. I'm sure it's been seven years in blog years...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lightning Fast

The next time you see a picture of lightning, I hope you'll go "ooooooh" and "aaaaaahhhhh" and "how did you do that?" Because I'm sitting in the midst of an electrical storm in Orlando with my trusty camera set to "burst" and have taken approximately 120 shots. ALL of them missed any single lightning strike!

Any ideas?

You are here...

And if you're here, would you please go HERE instead? And pray for Timmy, especially, and Lara and Marshall. Peace. Discernment. Guided hands. Many thanks to those who have been meeting the physical and emotional needs of the family during this stressful time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And lived to tell about it

I just flew in to Orlando, and boy are my arms tired!

Old joke, but so true.

This morning I was picked up by the Mercury Limo service and was treated to stories by an acquaintance of a coworker. Does that sound convoluted? Well, this driver's fiction concepts were well done and it made the traffic at 6:30 AM go by a bit faster.

No problem so far. I got through the "expert traveler" line at Midway. Again, no problem. Upgraded (on my own dime, I might add) to business class, which is well worth the $49 on AirTran. When I went to weigh my one piece of checked luggage, it was 5 pounds overweight (my luggage struggles just like I do!). I immediately knew what it was...the convention binder. When I took it out of my luggage, the suitcase weighed a full NINE pounds less! So now that 9 pounds is walking with me as carry on luggage.

No glitches in the flight from Chicago to Atlanta, although I really wish I could have gotten a through flight, because anyone who has ever lived with me or flown with me knows that flying is not my favorite pasttime.

When we got to Atlanta, again no problem. Fairly sunny skies once we landed, although it was cloudy coming in. But by the time we were to take off, the darkness was overtaking the sky. Still, AirTran was optimistic and we boarded right on time.

As we were waiting for all to be seated, the lightning started, followed by torrential rain, more lightning and thunder. The pilot came on and said we'd be waiting a while, since they'd closed the runway we needed to use on account of the weather. Probably 15 to 20 minutes. No problem, right?

BOOM! Lightning struck the plane as we were sitting there. All the lights and air went out. Nice to know the emergency lights really did come on.

For a couple of minutes we sat in the dark. Then the lights sputtered back on. But the ground crew came in and said we needed to deplane.

To make a 2 1/2 hour waiting story shorter, we finally took off - in another plane, from another gate, and with the flight and desk attendants in kind and patient form. Thank you very much!

The sky cleared, and we got to Orlando amidst partly cloudy skies.

Ingrid says I now qualify for prophet status, having been struck by lightning and lived to tell about it. And my hair is no more frizzy than it started!

But, boy, are my arms tired!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Good morning, good afternoon, good night!

What's the shortest hour of the day? The one right before the alarm goes off.
What's the longest hour of the day? The hour before nap time!

We've really been enjoying Ashley and Amberleigh. Once you get into a routine, it's really not so bad. Hahahahaha. Like I said, I know why young women have kids!

Seriously, it has been fun to kiss, hug, snuggle, paint, ride, walk, match, etc with eager little minds and fingers. I only wish we could do the same with Timmy and Oliver. I'm really afraid that they won't ever really know their Nana and Papa Elfstrand. And we will only know them from afar.

Life in the day to day is so important for memory making. But we can't have it all, I guess.

In a few short hours, Gramma W will be picking up the girls for her turn. And I'll be packing for a trip that starts at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Whew! Good night! I hope... :-)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Will the one with the brain please step forward?

Okay, I don't ever remember knowing someone with a peanut allergy when I was growing up. Never even heard of it, and thought the parent was joking, when our kids were in middle school and I was told a child had a peanut allergy.

Ever since, they are cropping up all over the place. Has it always been around? Is it more prevalent for some reason?

But this takes it ... we now have peanut-free zones everywhere, and churches won't even have snacks for kids because of allergies. If I was a parent of a child with an allergy, I'd be very grateful.

That's not the best. Or the worst. Check this out:
Get a brain!

Good warning, right? I mean, a parent might actually pick up this product and inadvertently feed it to their youngster, right?

Get a brain, folks! It's on a jar of PEANUT BUTTER!!!

The picture

It wasn't until I got the funeral notice that I decided to look at the picture. I'm wallowing in guilt.

For the last several months, we've had prayer requests in our church bulletin for a young woman whose name was vaguely familiar. She was undergoing chemotherapy and it sounded like the usual bouts with chemo sickness. But this past week she passed away. During church prayer, there was an audible gasp when the pastor asked for comfort for her husband.

I'm grateful she knew the Lord as her savior, but horribly guilty that I never bothered to follow up on visiting or sending a note or calling ... anything! When I got the funeral notice, I opened up the pictorial directory and gasped myself. This was a couple who was in our membership class at church. I should have known them much better. I should have called her. Known why her name sounded familiar. Cared!!!

I feel like scum. I really have no excuse for leaving her and her husband high and dry in a time of crisis. Will there be a next time? Get the picture?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

There's a really good reason

Why young women have children.
Why Nanas don't sleep well.
Why babies are cute.
Why three year olds are a never ending source of entertainment.
Nana, Amberleigh, Ashley at the carousel at Fox Valley Mall

Why mommies and daddies need vacation.
Why grandparents will work until they die for enough money to support the grandchildren habit!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sun (son) Dial

I remember reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and his line about our discomfort with time. It is, says Lewis, an indication that we were not ultimately built for time, but for eternity. We are constantly looking at our watch or the clock. Everything is "too early" or "too late." Rarely do we agree in spirit (although we mouth the words) that God is always on time.

So it is with great mixed emotions that I mark the time of the birth of our firstborn! Happy Birthday, Marshall! To some degree it seems like only yesterday, and I can recount all the birth story leading up to 8:39 AM on Saturday morning, July 2, 1977. But in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago. It IS a lifetime ago! My first son has a son of his own. And with all due respect to my second and third born, there is something unique about the first birth experience and first born child. Go ahead, admit it, you guys, now that you all have first borns of your own.

And for reasons I won't go into, God's timing was perfect, as we look back on it 31 years later. Perfect for His intention of making us more like His Son, rather than the road we were on selfishly. If you let them, children will take you out of yourself and into the selfless zone. Not entirely, of course, but I can more readily see why animals will kill for their young - assuming they haven't killed their young!

So, a very Happy Birthday to you, Marshall. You've changed our lives and continue to do so. I'll stop now, because my screen is getting blurry, if you know what I mean...
Does anyone else see the jaws back there?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

We take it for granted


We take every breath for granted.
Every bite of food.
Every step we take.

We almost have to, or we'd be stymied most of the day. But once in a while, just sit back and thank God that you can do those things. And that the ones you love can do those things. Because not everyone can, you know?

You can read Marshall and Lara's blog (mostly Lara, of course!) about what is going on in their lives. Believe me, they don't take those things for granted.

Last night, at midnight, a nurse friend of theirs came over to alleviate some of the anxiety over Timmy's nourishment by placing an NG tube in. Right now, Timmy can eat strained solids fairly well, but he isn't taking fluids (nursing) very well. He needs to conserve his strength so that what he does take in will help him develop and grow.

Here he is grasping Daddy's finger while drifting off with a full tummy. Praise God for Marshall and Lara. Praise God for their medical friends. And read the blog for even more praises.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Well done, WALL-E!

It's a cute movie, complete with sacrificial love and dominion over the earth - albeit after it was ruined. Which makes for a good allegory based on Noah's Ark.

The structure of the animation, and the thought behind all the "back story" of BnL, is really amazing. As we were first leaving the theater, though, I was just trying to figure out what I'd seen. I wasn't emotionally attached to the characters, but it certainly did make me think.

About what ... ?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Megaphone

Do you believe God speaks through people?

Eloise is a wonderful woman who works in our food services. Mainly she runs the cash register. So she strikes up conversations with the regulars.

One day I was going through the line and she was talking to a patron in front of me ... saying "wake him up! wake him up!" Hmmm, I wondered. What is she talking about??? She went on to explain that when the disciples were panicking and needed life-giving help, what did they have to do? They had to go to the back of the boat and wake Jesus up so He would do something about the storm. So her advice to this person was "wake Him up!"

Well, this morning I decided that a couple of eggs might be tasty, and as I was going through the register line, Eloise said to me: "When I saw you across the room a song just popped into my head and I had to tell you about it. It was the song that goes, God is God on the mountain, and He's still God in the valley! And I just wanted you to know that's what I thought when I saw you today. Remember that - God is still God in the valley."

Wow! That's all I've got to say about that...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Praying Pit Bulls

I really got a chuckle out of this one. I shared the challenge of Timmy with Leigh's Disease, and an author friend of mine, Virelle Kidder, said she would call all her friends and have them pray like pit bulls!

In response I told her I'd never seen a pit bull praying, but hey, I'll take it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let's Potty! I mean...

Did anyone who doesn't have a preschooler know that Chuck E Cheese actually hands out rewards calendars for potty training? And that you can get tokens to fill in the calendar?

Well tonight we had a potty - party - to celebrate no more diapers for Ashley! Yea, Ashley!

Oh, look!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Daily encouragement

When I was talking (online) with Marshall last evening, I found it very encouraging to know that both he and Lara are taking one day at a time, and enjoying the fact that Timmy is a happy baby right now. That is good news!

In the see-saw of emotions and life situations, we'll need to look back at the encouragements along the way. One such came from a coworker whose daughter has had two bouts with a brain tumor. He has learned to lean on God's grace every step of the way, and that perhaps that very exercise of leaning is what he is to learn in the process. So here is his encouragement for the day. Don't get tripped up by the "old English." You may just have to read it slowly and interpret it as you go...

A quote from The Imitation of Christ that has encouraged us and has helped us to keep a perspective as we pray – “Neither is it any such great thing if a man be devout and fervent when he feeleth no affliction; but if in times of adversity he bear himself patiently, then there is hope of great progress in grace”.

May all of you experience His grace in daily doses.


Thanks, Dave!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Covered

I am really feeling covered in prayer today. Yesterday I could barely hold it together, but after sharing the need and the pain, and being prayed for by many, God has blessed me with some semblance of peace today.

I will probably use this as an actual journal in the coming days, complete with readings and thoughts. Today's comes from Mister Dad/AKA Papa.

"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain." ~CS Lewis

If you need more information about Leigh's Disease, you can Google it or check the mitochondrial disease page on Facebook.

Timmy and his mommy and daddy are really covered!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Crumbling just a little

Why does the world have to fall apart all at once? Couldn't it just be a little at a time, so maybe I could get used to it? Gain some strength and come back to face the rest of it?

Perhaps it's a lesson in faith, which I scored lowest on in my spiritual gifts test, thank you very much. I have to sink back into the sovereignty of God. Emphasis on the "sink" right now.

Psychologically speaking, misery loves company. Spiritually speaking, misery surrounds us and I need to cling to the only One Who can do anything about it!

I cried when I read about Nicol Sponberg. We were with her while she was pregnant and were rejoicing with her. Oh, Lord, bind up the sorrowful and turn the mourning into dancing in its due season.

Marshall and Lara, we love you so much! Timmy, you are the joy of your Mommy and Daddy. And we wish we could hold you! Soon...Ah, yes, I'm the king of the family room!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Blinded by the light

Bathed in light

This place was really cool! Literally! Bet Guvrin is better known to English speakers as the Bell Caves. They were limestone quarries for millennia, and the holes used to access from the upper levels cause light shafts to fall on the floor below.

If you get the chance to go to Israel, take it.

What do you know?

Here we are!

I know that I'm not "lagging" as badly as I thought I would upon return from a 12 day trip to Israel!
Here are a few things I learned on the trip...

Drink water, drink water, drink water!
Never pass up a bathroom!
Drink more water
400 years of American history is puny compared to the 6000 years of history under our feet and in front of our eyes every day there in Israel
The city of Jerusalem is like an ice cream cone wedged between hamburger buns ... just ask Walt McCord
I'm sad about the Temple Mount
I sobbed at the children's memorial of Yad Vashem
One and a half hours is only a FRACTION of the time it would take to get through that memorial!
The Dead Sea could kill you if you drink it, but we buy everything we can get our hands on if it is made from Dead Sea mud
I love the Sea of Galilee
100 degrees in the shade is okay, since it is a "dry heat" - wink wink
Don't try to take Tira Misu into a kosher dining room
Tuna is pretty good for breakfast, even with bits of lemon and pickles in it
A tel is a layer cake of civilization
Jesus said everything that was worth saying, in a period of history that pretty much summed up life
Sea Bands really work
You can sleep just about anywhere (like cramped in an airline seat in between two people) if you are exhausted
The Dome of the Rock does not house an area where Abraham was to sacrifice Ishmael (read your Bible)
Information coming at you all day has to be processed somewhere away from people
It takes reflection time to comprehend that God, Who became man, walked this area
Drink more water
Never pass up a bathroom (and make sure you have some tissue with you!)
There are waterfalls in Israel!
Walking is good for you ... they tell me ... but it was really starting to hurt
A good pair of shoes is worth it!
Everything that is brass is not gold
The majority of the people are friendly
It is safer in Israel than in Chicago
You can make some very good friends on a tour bus, as a captive audience of 45 for 12 days
Don't sit on the model of Bet She'an, even if it does seem to have a sitting ledge around it
I wish I'd been an archeologist - Israel is incredible!


Zing, zing, zing... Zebulun!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Iris

A new trip seems to indicate a new camera around here. I couldn't see myself heading to Israel with just a 3x optical zoom jobber. So with a reimbursement we got, we paid for a new Panasonic 10x optical zoom, and all kinds of bells and whistles in a compact digital.

With the new Leica iris...captured the iris.

Iris with the new camera

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mini Me

It's odd to watch the DNA travel down time. Looks, syndromes, behavior patterns even, seem to jump out at me from the tapestry being woven up ahead.

For example, I totally get Ashley. The teeter totter between confidence and approval, the silliness and the serious side.

Here is the before picture, and I didn't bother to take an "after" with the swollen red eyes. She really did need and want someone to explore unknown territory with her. I understand. The first time, it helps to have a sherpa. The second time, I'm the sherpa!

Ha - I'm lovin' it!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's Mothers' Day!



I can never figure out where the apostrophe is supposed to go in today's holiday. Is it one mother? Every mother? Does the day belong to the mothers?

Oh, well, it started out very rainy and blustery. But coffee and church and a few lovely gifts brightened the day. See one of them? I just love pictures, and this gift from Marshall and Lara was perfect. It made me teary-eyed. Which brings me to the song of the day. I posted it on our church's blog, and not too many will remember this one.

M is for the many things she gave me...
O is only that she's growing old...
T is for the tears she shed to save me...
H is for the hands I used to hold.
E is everything she did to help me ...
R is right and right she'll always be!
Put them all together, they spell MOTHER...
The woman that means all the world to me!

My mom is actually on a Mediterranean cruise this Mother's Day (or Mothers'...). Nice work if you can get it. So I thought I'd just call and leave a message singing the above mentioned song. She'd remember it for sure!

Friday, May 02, 2008

You are getting sleepy

Wow, has it really been that long since I blogged? Well, no, because I started a blog for our church women's group, and also one for our weight loss group (don't ask). But I just thought for sure I had more on my own blog.

What a wimp I am. But guess what? My job has changed a bit and I'm feeling very good about it. Our marketing department is rounding out nicely, and I can be creative, stay ultra busy, and be where God wants me (I think this is an assumption).

But for now, I'm heading off to read fiction by Debbie Fuller Thomas. It makes me long for northern CA, though, as it takes place in Sacramento and the foothills. The title is Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. If you try to order it right now, you'll get a notice that it is on backorder. I'm reading an advance reading copy. The many perks of working for a publisher. The premise of the story is that two babies are switched at birth and through the death of one of them it is discovered that the mother had buried someone else's child. Intriguing? Yes. But it is more a study in interpersonal, family relationships.

Next time the post will be about the wonderful grandchildren.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Get ready for fireworks!

Here's something you can discuss at your next small group meeting. Especially if you are of childbearing years. But, I warn you, get ready for some hefty dissent. The audio file is 24 minutes long.

Jump in!

Yesterday was quite pleasant. It was Easter, but as my family knows, I prefer to refer to it as Resurrection Sunday. Go ahead and call me weird. (You're weird)

The picture reminds me that we found it difficult to explain to Ashley what the day was about. If you go to the Flickr account you'll see pictures of jelly beans, Easter bunny cake, grass nests with candy, etc. Those are all fun, and I've succumbed to all of them (see picture below of the Easter Bunny!!!).

Ashley wanted to know whose birthday it was because of the cake. Was it the Easter Bunny's birthday? This made me quasi-sad, because we really have supplanted the most important day we can remember - the day that Jesus gave us eternal life - with the pagan remnants of days gone by. So, what are we to do?

I think if we lived in a time of tribulation (and there are certainly parts of the world who are living through it right now), we might be more prone to take the real impact of the day seriously, and throw the bunny out on his ear (pun intended).

Please don't confuse this with legalism. Legalism states that one has to adhere to a certain form or set of rules for salvation. That is not it at all. We HAVE been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus. So why did we allow the Easter bunny and eggs take over? Sure, you can say like the generations before you, that they symbolize new life. After all, that is why the Christians allowed the pagan holiday to creep in in the first place. I mean, did you ever wonder why we eat ham on a day that is supposed to remember the kosher Messiah? Sure, go ahead and say that it is due to our freedom in Christ, which we have. But again, the origins of that practice are from the very pagan holiday of fertility.

I don't want to have to head into a time of testing for us to strip away the stuff that doesn't matter. I love fun! But I want it to be fun based on truth.

Jump in, Ashley!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Of all the things I have lost...

I miss my mind the most. Well, it's just that while I was in Nashville, I thought of some wonderful blog posts I was going to write, and then just totally lost my train of thought and never did them. And when I got back, volunteer work at WMBI's "Share" was waiting for me, followed by live-in grandchildren for three days. So, you see, I really can't remember what was so important that I just had to blog about it.
Was it the president's visit? No, I had to sit in the booth while all the attendees waited in line for 40 minutes, then sat for three hours. But I hear it was worth it.
Was it my ever-present fatigue? No, that's not it, because I really did have a good time. And just because I didn't have my coworker to help me, it still got done - and in fine fashion.
Perhaps it was my disenchantment with folks attending a Christian convention, and stealing the product off the displays! Yes, I think that might have been it!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the Bunny!

What a difference a year makes, folks! She not only wanted to see the Bunny at the mall, but she actually engaged in conversation, danced with "him", sat on his lap, gave him a high five, a fist pound, and smiled all the way through the photo shoot. Yes, this savvy three year old is really coming up in the world.
Cute, huh? I wish the grandsons were close - we'd get some comparisons for coming years.

The Easter Bunny 08!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sweet and Sour ... almost

Today was a sweet and sour day...

The sweet of it was the wedding shower that Janis and I had for Lori in the office. I made a strawberry pretzel salad and brought a decorated cake. We all got together, had devotions, a bit of fun, and gave her all sorts of containers with ingredients in them, along with a recipe for that ingredient. Sweet!

The sour of it - that ended up sweet - happened this morning at 0-dark-thirty, and I heard of it through a coworker. Not a good way to hear that your husband has been in an accident... but I'll let him tell you about it from the email I got later this morning:

I was in the center lane and came up on a snow plow. People had passed him on the left so I went into that lane. As I approached the plow, I noticed he was in the MIDDLE of the left and center lanes and I couldn’t get by. So I slowed down and pulled back in the center lane and then moved to the right lane. However, I did not see the semi in the right lane who banged into me, causing me to spin and come right back into his path. He hit me again and as I spun and stopped in the left lane before hitting the wall. I was able to move off to the side of the road. We exchanged information and I came to work. Less damage to the SUV than I thought there would be. No one else stopped. No injuries. No police. But I could have easily been seriously hurt. And if a policeman HAD come by, I would have been late to work.

So, there was a sweet to that sour. It could have been awful! And another blessing? He was driving the WMBI SUV, which is practically a tank. But then, it's probably because he was driving it that the accident occurred (see the part about not seeing through the windows...).

GOD IS GOOD!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm telling

See the picture I use on my blog these days? It is a mirror image found on the Mac camera effects.

But something just struck me... does that make me duplicitous? Do I say one thing and do another? Am I one person at work and another at home? One at church and another anywhere else?

Truth be told, that's probably true.

I've always believed that example is a better teacher than words, but don't always live like I believe that. And since I "believe" that example is more important, I act one way around those whom I really feel need my good example, and then totally trash my spiritual integrity with those who know me best. How duplicitous is that?

You know what scares me? "Because you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth." Does that include those of us who swing from one side of the spectrum to another on a daily basis?

I mean, I point to the Scripture that says "let no unwholesome thing come from your mouth" and then damn the driver who cuts me off (and hey, I'm not even a NASCAR afficionado). Oops, sorry I used profanity, but really it was just to prove a point, right?

So, I'm telling you here and now that there is only one way that my words and my actions will ever line up. That's when I allow the Holy Spirit to control me, rather than thinking I can control me. Same goes for my food consumption, but that's for another day.