Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why Do I Even Bother?

About a month ago I decided that my "low-carb lifestyle" is not going to help me lose anymore weight (or that 1 pound every 4-6 weeks isn't good enough), so I began walking 3 miles every day to see if I can shed another 10-15 pounds from this aging body.

As expected, my bum-hip flared up badly, so I started popping some serious meds to get through the walk (6 Advil + 2 XStrength Excedrine). That worked. I was starting to feel pretty strong after just a couple weeks, so I began to run a mile or so of my route (Maggie will be so proud, I thought!). My hip hurt less when I ran, but pounding the pavement caused some serious problems in my upper spine...been there before too. I'll just stretch more and get through it. Or not. I kept running all this last week in Gulf Shores and my neck/back continued to get worse. Aaargh.

So...we returned from vacation today and I decided I better stick with walking until I can figure out this back thing. I took off on my walk...the same route I've been walking from the beginning...just minding my own business...lost in thought...and I bit it. Oh, yeah. I totally tripped on the uneven sidewalk, which I had managed to successfully negotiate 25 times previously. I broke the fall with both hands and both knees, but my momentum...or maybe my clumsiness...carried me forward onto my forehead as well. I sat up quickly hoping like crazy that all the cars driving by would just keep on going. They did. Scumbags.

C'mon, though. How lucky am I? How good would it be if none of my battlescars showed? I'm all about the attention (or so I've been told). I can't wait to answer the question, "Ooohh...what happened to your forehead?" " see...I was uh...walking. Yeah...I was walking. And I...uh...fell on my head." Oi-vay.

Maybe...just maybe I should give up and be content? Nah.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Latest on Jeffrey

Since my last report on Jeffrey, he has had mostly good days. The doctors gave him an appetite-inducing drug which is working! He has been eating pretty well and has even gained a couple of pounds. He feels strong, his voice sounds stronger and his eyes have been brighter. One warm day last week when I called to talk with him, he was outside playing with his boys! As he told me how well he's been feeling, for the first time since his diagnosis, I began to feel hopeful...maybe...just maybe! He had even expressed that he felt maybe he had "turned a corner."

Later that night, Jeffrey received a report that the drug which replaced the chemo, and is supposed to intercept the growth of new cancer cells is not working. The tumors in his lungs are still growing and he is to discontinue use of the treatment. That news was especially difficult because it contradicted his experience (no new palpable growths since he began taking it), and it doesn't fit with his general sense of improved health. Needless to say, it's an emotional rollercoaster for all of us.

As I write this, Jeffrey and Dawnn are out west. He was feeling well enough to take a trip he's always wanted to take to the Grand Canyon. They flew out Monday and will return Saturday. So far, so good! They saw the Hoover Dam yesterday and hope to do a fly-over of the Canyon, plus venture out onto the glass-bottomed vista overlooking it. He is absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity, which up until 2 weeks ago, looked impossible. They plan to return on Saturday.

Give thanks for his current strength and pray that this trip will prove to be a joyful, fulfilling and faith-building time for him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

For Want of Wit: 2

I spent the last 6 years teaching Latin at a classical Christian school here in St. Louis. A teacher must always be prepared for the unexpected, including unannounced visitors. These visitors might be the headmaster who is coming to evaluate your content, technique, classroom management, etc. Maybe they are members of the school's development team looking for promotional ideas or photo-ops. They are occasionally current or, more often, prospective parents.

Over time, I got used to the idea of being observed by analytical adults and I gained a measure of confidence in my ability to teach, so I didn't worry too much about their presence in my classroom or what kind of impression I was making. I pretended they weren't there and just "did my thing."

In fact, one morning, when several adults had been sent into my classroom, I was so unaffected by their presence - lollying along in my usual dramatic teaching style - that I didn't even realize, UNTIL HALFWAY THROUGH MY LESSON, that I was carrying around and drinking my coffee from THIS cup:


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Help Me, Rhonda

My friend, Rhonda, like so many of my other friends, is more comfortable around me when I'm being my usual smart-alek self. It's the occasional "nice" me that unnerves her. So, I'm warning you, Rhonda, you may just wanna leave now...'cause not only am I gonna be NICE...I'm gonna be nice ABOUT YOU. No...there's nothing wrong with me...really.

First, let me tell those of you who don't know her, a little about Rhonda. Picture this: she's the consumate Librarian/Artist. WHAT??!! Imagine the stiff and serious demeanor of your typical librarian, combine it with the egotisitical weirdness of your typical artist and....that's so NOT Rhonda. She IS wonderfully creative (she designed and created the most elaborate and gorgeous decorations for me for VBS a few years back), and she is a children's librarian who appreciates children's books, largely, because she has a delightful sense of humor!

So, she's creative, funny and a bit of a smart-alek herself. That's why I like her. Well, that...and she didn't abandon me altogether a few years back when I suggested how she might deal with her ill dog. When I put my imaginary "finger-gun" to my head and pulled the trigger, my motivation was a compassionate heart that didn't want to see him suffer anymore.

Yeah...O-K...she didn't buy that either.

Why am I telling you about Rhonda? Though she tries to hide behind a veneer of shallow ignorance, she is indeed a harbinger of profundity. (I know they don't use words like that in children's books, Rhonda. Look it up, one of your library dictionaries.) How did I learn that behind this veneer lurks a storehouse of wisdom? She accidentally let it slip out last night while giving a "devotional" at a bridal shower! In spite of her reluctance to do this thing, Rhonda couldn't hide her creativity, her sense of humor...OR her wisdom. And she revealed all this using the medium with which she is most comfortable...a children's book!

The author uses the very common occurence of making and eating cookies to illuminate the principles of living well together. Rhonda specifically applied each of these principles to marriage, ultimately communicating the primary rule of Christian living: My Life For Yours. How many people could discover that in a children's book about making cookies? Only the wise my friend, Rhonda.

Thanks, Friend, for the conviction and the encouragement...and for saying "Yes!" (And don't hate me for being won't happen again anytime soon. I promise.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

From the Merchant of Venice

This play is one of my absolute favorites! It presents a powerful contrast between the demands of law and grace. When Shylock declares, "I crave the law!" the wise judge instructs him thus:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
On the place beneath. It is twice blest.
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
T'is mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings. It is
An attribute to God himself. And earthly power
Doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, O man,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy.
And that same prayer doth teach us all
To render the deeds of mercy.

Beautiful, isn't it? That Shakespeare guy really knew what he was doing. This is my memorization for this week. Join me, anyone?