Sunday, March 27, 2005

Passing over lightly


Its been a few weeks since anything has appeared from me on the blog. This has been a very difficult month indeed. Tom went from being worrisome on a day here and there to WHY won't_my_stubborn_spouse_let_me_get_him_to_a_hospital_already??!!! Ironically, the extreme bad turn he took actually prevented them from getting him in to be treated for what set this up in the first place.

I broke down by day five and went from general hints to only a few good friends to seriously asking as many real Christians as I could reach for prayer support..and thats what has turned the corner. Within 4 hrs of the email going out, the worst pains ceased. Within 24 hrs Tom could actually eat a little. He has improved steadily since. Today he will actually be able to eat the nice roast lamb now in the oven. Hallelujah!!

All of you who prayed for us..thank you again

and please remember us when you can. Its not over yet.

I am concerned about what the surgeon has in mind, though I comprehend why the doctor wants to try it. Its now been established that open surgery for Tom's unusual condition would be very involved, lengthy, and possibly have lasting side-effects. Another new wonderful invention of recent years has now been proposed involving surgical glue, lasers and such. Guess we'll see how good it is soon.

Its been an unusal Easter season. It feels way too early for one thing & because they were talking about rushing Tom into surgery before, I went ahead and ordered predone baskets. First time I've used 'boughten' baskets but it came out well enough. Had to replace Rebecca's at the last moment but she was the winner for it as we found a much nicer one locally than she had chosen in the catalogue. I was planning the Incredibles for tonight's film, but we didnt wait that long. Happy to see Tom enjoyed it as much as I thought he would. My favorite bit is "Boundin' " ~ the Pixar short. I rarely see anything that resonates so well with me. I just love that river-dancing sheepy. :D

So, I've been very busy here at the house, which doesn't mean I wasn't writing, thinking, or being otherwise creative. All nighters give you plenty of time to ponder. I thought & prayed constantly, and wrote down little thoughts here and there. I even have the outline for a new book. It will be my first mystery novel, which I've never had inspiration for before. I'm highly tempted to backdate the happy tidbits I wrote while I was too busy to post but I'll save it for the days ahead. No sense copying the behavior of she_who_should_not_be_named. LOL

I've also read several more books, got to a new stuck place in Feeble Files, tried several more rounds with Myst IV's spider chair o' doom. Now I'm just to the timed bit. ick. Lady K likes it but I don't think its a very well constructed puzzle. Not referring to the difficulty, though it certainly is hard to work out what you are supposed to do. No, the biggest problem is the interface on the timed part. Their "close-up" points are too close to the sliders. Finally remembered to share myMyst IV journal entries thus far ~ as I promised James & Becky I would. I hadn't planned to write one initially, but now I'm glad I did. That sort of thing is easy & fun for me. Don't know if I will continue up through Serenia though. I've now heard enough from others to make me wonder how repugnant the pagan elements became.

Big thought on my mind today is that I did *not* pass lightly over this holiday, not for myself or any other. I've been dealing with active slander for a long while now & its become a continuing scripture study. It looks like it wants to be a Bible study pamphlet or maybe another book. Recently I realized that Christ was killed on the basis of slander, as no real charge stuck. It also occurred to me that the whole church will go through the same thing...and soon as we are definitely in the last days. "Ye shall be hated of (in) all the nations for My name's sake." Matt 24:9b KJV Okay, some of those who pretend to be believers don't exactly help the reputation of the Church. But Christ actually says the REAL believers would be hated like he was & because of His name. Christ's grace still abounds even as His name continues to be slandered ~ and we share His disgrace.

How could we deserve this? As Paul says, those who follow Christ will seek the virtues 'against which there is no law.' What could the instrument be for this then but slander?

MT 10:24 "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!" NIV

And what are we to do about it? Love our enemies. Bless them that curse us. Do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who despitefully use us. (Matt 5: 44) Forgive. Turn the other cheek and forgive again.

Just as Christ forgave us when we were still His enemies.

I've been trying to live these words 'for real' for a very long time, and it feels longer as I still wait for my Savior to vindicate me. I know I've been called an idiot, a liar, a hypocrite and worse. Its irritating to be slandered by someone who so perfectly fits the coat they've been trying to hang on you, but thats not unusual. Heck, its often their coat! They may even claim the virtues you strive for. And as badly as you may want to tell them off, Jesus says you are still supposed to pray for their well-being and salvation..and leave any vengence to Him.

Its hard. very hard. Without Jesus its impossible.

You really have to believe God. He says He can cause even hearts like rock to break and seek true repentence. Your prayers aren't wasted. If you are persistent some WILL repent. God says all things work together to good for those who love Him. So dedicating even the pain and ashes of such things will only do you good as you trust Him. God promises to provide for His own flock. Thus you can afford to be generous even when it looks like you've been ripped off.
He also says vengence is His and he will repay. So those who do not repent from evil ways will find additional coals of fire on their head. God promised that we have Abraham's blessing upon us. He will bless those who bless us and curse those who curse us. So no matter what, if you stick with God, you win.

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. " Matt 5:11-12 KJV

Anyway, all that study led to my doing something yesterday that was very bold, even for me. I felt led to. I told some of those folks (and a few real friends) that Jesus was a friend to those who maligned him. He had forgiven those who hated Him and paid a terrible price to be able to do it. He loved every one of them. (and thanks to His grace on me, so do I.) What you want to bet some of them are offended today?

But that is what Easter is really about.

Bye. Gotta go check the lamb.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Weed Tree: A parable from Tom

Tom wanted me to share this some time ago but I never found a place or a time for it until now.

He thinks of it as a living parable or an allegory for, well, other situations. It really happened though. I can take you to right now to the spot where the weed tree grew.


Some years ago we found we had a problem at one of the corners of our yard that head back into the wetland forest. A nasty brush kept springing up and spreading into our yard from the direction of particularly nettlesome scraggly tree. From a distance the rapid growth looked encouraging, even quite cheerful, but up close all its fruit was unpleasant, not a solid nut, a blackberry, or even a honeysuckle vine to be found. Worse, it invariably turned out that snakes, foxes, and other bad-tempered creatures were settling in and and making life a bit dangerous for us & our kids. You could hear soft growls if you even walked too closely to it near dark.

Such growth wasn't unusual but it was odd that it should be so invariably venomous. Forests here always encroach on the meadows they encircle. Brush grows up quickly everywhere. The neighbor's old shed in front of us is full of brush & the shy, friendly wildlife that usually inhabit it:: rabbits, squirrels and the occasional cat or skunk. We've left an old vine to grow in the meadow for the use of the birds and small creatures here. We've seen raccons & possums, moles & foxes in that part too, but these are usually good neighbors. In other places, even the forest brambles have been known to produce blackberries, flowers, and other pleasant things. Not so in that corner. The deer began to avoid it.

Tom cut back the brush year after year to what appeared to be a circle of bramble hedge, nettles, & saplings just around the tree, but in a few months you couldnt tell he'd done a thing. The saplings must have laid down when he'd try to cut them, for they would be back in weeks. The brambles had their own huge root system and grew back their outlying branches very quickly.

Tom says he left dealing with it way too long, not wanting to endure the painful process he knew would accompany taking down the stand, and so it got worse and worse. The vegetation seemed ever more dense & unmanageable... but then one day while cutting grass, he heard long, rumbling growls from something hiding under its cover, and knew he was being directly threatened in his own yard. He decided right then that corner was going to go! now!

It took solid days of labor, and he was fought every step of the way. The saplings & brambles would whip away from his machete, ax, & weedwhacker and swing back to grab his legs. Occasionally a branch he thought he had fully severed would spring up in front of his feet and nearly trip him. He came in each day covered with cuts, insect bites, & scratches ~ even under his jeans. I seriously wondered why he felt the need to take it on at all. He'd cut back the worst encroachments to the yard already. Surely the hostile creatures had also fled.

But the day came when it became clear his concern had been completely warranted. He'd realized he was working at a slant fairly early in the proceedings, but one day he discovered we had an actual pit around that tree, a mini-ravine which was way bigger than it looked from the outside. Its depression was filled with nettles, spiny saplings, and brambles. & Whats more something quite large (we're talking bear or coyote pack-sized) had an enormous den right smack in the middle of it all!

and there was that perverse tree, which still loomed large in the dusk through its twisted, spine-encrusted branches. It was still surrounded by a low fence of supporting nettles and thorny brambles which seemed to protect its green, leafy trunk, and seemed ready to move right in again. "You can't get rid of me without hurting yourself,' it seemed to say, "and I will soon own this corner again. My growths will spread, my creatures will return and you will fear me and them."

Tom wanted to start a fire on the whole mess, but he knew it would endanger the larger forest. He settled for waving an ax in its general direction and waiting for the next weekend. "We'll see about that," he muttered to the gloom.

It was actually 3 weeks before he found a few days to devote to the issue. As expected, new brambles & saplings grew out at ridiculous speed in the interim. But the final round wasn't like the others. I was with him and I'd swear the tree actually shuddered when he finally took an axe to the root of the oldest brambles and carted away the garbage to his trailer with gloved hands. Then the weed tree finally stood bare before the world. The transformation was amazing. I don't think I've ever seen an uglier, scrawnier tree. Turned out even its spines were borrowed from other plants, the stems actually protected by the bark of the tree. By now, I felt a little sorry for it, but even if we wished to spare it, the tree was too heavily compromised by the spiny growths that infested it trunk to crown. There is no reason to suppose the same situation would not recur if it were left entrenched.

So now it was time for the tree itself. The twisted, nettlesome arboral came down with a crash not long after the chain saw bit into it. Guess what? It wasn't even good for firewood! Its heart was completely rotten.

The last thing we did was to pray over it as a family, to break whatever curse might be on it.


Amazingly (to me), his work has proved sufficient. The corner has grown back, but with the pine & hardwood saplings the forest usually produces. I know I saw deer peering at us through the low growth. There were even a few blackberries there last summer.

May his story bless you.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Gray Day...with chance of frogs

The weather has warmed since the last spate of rain. We completely missed the last 'winter' storms. (Here they were early spring-ish rainstorms, just like what threatens now.) The few frogs awake here are loving the warmer wet conditions and are singing away cheerily. Seems like there's always a bright spot in the gray.

As for us, well, I'm happy to say that William seems to have turned some kind of a corner with the currrent math problems & can once again finish a math page in a reasonable amount of time. Yay! (William & I were amused to find out recently that Yeesha is also doing long division in M4. "She can't be that old then, Mom." quoth William. Couldnt quite bring myself to break it to him that there is still a tougher level & even more variations than what he's mastered. He'll find out soon enough.)

I've set aside my GBA Mario & Luigi rpg (so that there will still be fresh areas when I play it in the hospital) & picked up Paper Mario:TYD in its stead. My kids are way ahead of me on that one and very much enjoyed giving me hints. Tom chimed in occasionally too but last night my better half was mostly into (re) playing Katamari Damacy. He's beaten the whole game several times and is now seeing how many worlds can he win so thoroughly that he gets the 'eternal' setting ~ this allows the rest of us to play it without a time limit. I tried one of these he'd unlocked last night & agreed that it was much more relaxing that way.

Tom saw his Urologist yesterday. Turned out that Monday's ordeal was worth it. The good news: they finally found the other problem! The bad news: they finally found another problem...and its so unusual, the doctor has asked leave to contact the teaching colleges about it & wants to be present when it is treated. This may result in better conditions for the next go round of surgery, which is now a definite. Tom's stomach may even make the medical history books. whee! I always told him he'd be famous for something. (This got a pillow tossed in my direction with precise aim. Gee. what did I say? ;) Better news is that, for the interim, tests are over & Tom is on medication that should help him feel bit better again.

I hope this procedure does it for Tom & he is finally better afterward. Hopefully he will be. I definitely will be looking into asking people to pray for him, especially closer to the event. I am a little cheered to hear the little frogs singing today & to know solid plans are at last being made. It won't turn today, but much better weather may be on the way soon.

Meantime, here's a really cute picture of a frog


Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Great Observer (quantummy thoughts before lunch)

Found myself thinking about Rich Watson's latest discussion of the quantum theory used in the Myst series. I used to read and discuss quantum theory with a few people, but I questioned it. This pretty much ended the discussions as the others I tried to discuss it with tended to simply repeat the books they'd read & urge me to read or reread them as I 'obviously didn't get it.' I won't claim I have a solid grasp of quantum theory, but 'read the books until you agree with them' strikes me as a stultifying frame of mind in any case.

For example: I do not believe the ever luckless cat of Herr Schrodinger is 'either alive or dead.' It IS alive or dead & I don't know which way it is until I can look. It seems to me the theory is claiming that the probability for either state remains until *I* find out. I don't think so. God already knows.

Many things in this life manage to be what they are without my knowledge, or indeed, anyone's knowledge but God & His angels. After thinking about it a bit, I came to the conclusion that God would, must be, the Great Observer who collapses 'probability waves' in some direction or other every moment. It may be that the Creator's title of Omniscience is a greater matter than we had realized, as we usual regard knowledge as a passive posession (until applied) instead of an active power. Perhaps omniscience means not just that He knows what is now & has been, but what probability waves will collapse in what direction in the future. & that He has ultimate charge over this as all other things. He may even give Himself the freedom to interfere occasionally with the usual flow ~ arranging such 'collapses' in such a way as to include spontaneous healings & strange conversions of ~ say ~ water into wine ..or... rocks into food. Its an extremely UNLIKELY event that a boulder would suddenly be a big loaf of pumpernickel, but perhaps possible in some rare universe matter might randomly turn into bread & in an even rarer time/space event, one of these out-sized loaves could suddenly exchange places with the boulder in our continuum. [No, I'm NOT saying God necessarily does His miracles this way. I'm just playing around with improbable ideas. That other 'universe' (area) probably just has angel that loves to bake. 8-) ]

When reading Gibbon's book, I was struck by the secularist presumptions that laid the groundwork for the 'shocking' conclusions about time & matter they came to believe~ The corporate reactivity of atoms, for example, is unsurprising if you believe that the entire universe lives & loves and has its being in God. Once again, worldview shapes acceptable theory both for believers and non-believers. Theirs deliberately excluded a God and so they have to put up a fantastic framework to explain effects otherwise easily explained by His Presence. An advanced theologic argument I read years ago stated (based purely on scriptural refs) that it seemed that God only has to withdraw his presence/support from anything in order to destroy it. It seems to me that the experiments I read about support this view. An undercurrent, a fabric, shapes reality. We are all a part of it, a dependent subset of that function or that being, depending on your point of view. It occurs to me that pantheists wouldnt be surprised by those results either, though they might wonder if it was the Earth's or the Universe's 'essence' that was being picked up on.

From a Christian perspective, it makes good sense to me that, being His creations, surviving within a framework upheld by His power, we are dependent on our Creator for our every moment of existence. If this is the case, it also explains why turning our backs on God and trying to live 'our own' lives consitutes deadly sin (which is what some scriptures plainly say), even before the rebellious works that generally follow this choice. Every moment we draw breath by God's grace. Every moment our atoms find order within His designs. We literally cannot live without Him, and it is horribly ungrateful of us to try. He doesn't have to go out of His way to punish us for it either (in this theoretical construct). It would be inherent in the choice. We would become less in the process of turning away from what sustains us, eventually even less 'real.' I think this is the sort of thing C.S. Lewis had in mind when he described the dwindling grayness that was hell in The Great Divorce. What a shock it was at the end to find out how small & ghostly the whole dreary complex was compared with heaven!

well, time's up. Best go cook a little something ;)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...
In the radiology wing
Wondering if this will be the answer
or another gray pearl in a string
of listless hanging days.
Wondering when these will end.
Wondering if my beloved.
will ever be well again.
I used to fear I'd lose him
when his pangs began and when
he'd hardly sleep of a night
wondering when they'd come again.
But he lived through the last trials.
And this gives hope on days like these
when the waiting..waiting..waiting..
seems like it will never cease.

Susan McGaw

Cat scan took all day long Monday. Some kind of blockage developed and the barium refused to go down. They tried every few hours until 9pm, when they finally went with what they coudl get then. Tom has an appointment to see the doctor on Friday. We are staying offline in case they feel like saying something before then. I'll have to wait to put this up even. *sigh*