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Saturday, August 30, 2008


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...


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


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


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


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!