Success with Lamictal

It’s been five weeks since we made the trip to the Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth Texas, and I’m happy to report that Dillon’s new medication is working. He has not had a seizure since October 5. Dr Malik put him on a low dose of Lamictal (25 mg twice a day) and Depakote ER (250 mg twice a day.) Dr Malik has seen a lot of success with this low dosage combination and thought Dillon was the perfect candidate for that.

There are potential side effects that need to be watched out for and with the slow ramping up of the medication, we’ve been blessed to avoid those. The only one that came was a temporary and very mild case of pleurisy. That too is now gone.

Since coming home from Fort Worth, life has been busy. Between helping Charlie apply for colleges, fill out scholarship forms, and fall yard work, my boys have both competed in a Tri-State soccer tournament in Joplin (their team placed third overall) as well as a high school retreat. This week Charlie is in Washington DC with several classmates. When he returns, he’ll being finishing his applications, trying out for a play, working on a Youth Retreat, and being the world’s master guitar hero.

Tri-State was scary for mom, and annoying for Dillon. I went along to not only chear on my boys, but to keep an eye on him. Varsity soccer is rough and Dillon got creamed more than once. Creamed or not, he kept going back out there and I’m proud of him for that.
We only had one (or 2) real scares where he collided with the Goalie from Grace, took a cleat to the chest/throat, and hit another players shoulder with his head. All that and not a single seizure. He’s going to be just fine.

That is life in a nutshell right now. Living with epilepsy, means living, not waiting. And that is encouraging.

Her husband can trust her… She brings him good not harm all the days of her life

Prov 31:10-12

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

11 Her husband can trust her,

and she will greatly enrich his life.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life.

Being married to a worship leader can be a lot of fun. I love listening to Jeff play, practice, and write. His heart for God deepens mine and brings me joy, most of the time. Other days, I’m not quite that spiritual.

I do not share his gifts for music, and there are times when I feel a bit jealous for his abilities to lead worship, write and sing with passion like he does. And there are times where I’m not always understanding of the time commitment that sort of dedicated life requires. Lacking understanding does not a motive make. I’m just saying that now.

Housework is not my strong suit. I’m more of an Erma Bombeck than a Martha Stewart. I hate housework and am convinced that my grandmothers white glove approach to cleaning wiped out all domestic genes in my body. There is only so much bleach water a body can stand and besides, I’m not really that good at it in my opinion. But that doesn’t keep me from trying and doing my best.

We have a room in our house dedicated to music. It’s full of guitars, a keyboard, drums, sound board etc.. this is a “musician’s only room please.” kind of room. And even though I do pick up the Gibson from time to time (I’m trying to learn how to play) I pretty much stay out of it.

Until today.

Today, I decided that it would be nice if I cleaned it up for him while he is away at a conference in Michigan. It was a nice thought, I meant well, really. So, I pulled everything off the bookcases, dusted and oiled all the wood. Cleaned the windows and blinds, swept the floor, carefully dusted all of the equipment – using a feather duster so as not to scratch anything and as I was about to leave the room I decided to check the fireplace.

I should have left the room. Instead I looked inside to see left over soot from last winter. How hard can it be to clean that up? So I pulled out my Kenmore vacuum cleaner and cleaned away.

I learned somethings today.

If you are going to vacuum out a fireplace keep an eye on what is going on behind you.
A hepa filter can only work so well.
Kenmore vacuum cleaners don’t like soot.
Freshly dusted musical instruments are soot magnets.

I’m pondering some things now.
1. Why did I dust before I cleaned the fireplace ?
2. Is my life insurance up to date?
3. Does anyone know how to get soot out of a Taylor guitar?

So, trust I’m not so sure. Ditto good. I am however pretty sure I enrich his life … I’m just not sure how.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Early Morning Raccoons Can Make one Pentecostal

Not to make fun of the Pentecostal church, it is just that I have a baby raccoon on my back porch. Or at least I did before I baptized him – and everything else on my porch. You’ve heard of Baptism by Fire? well this was Baptism by Folgers. I was trying to protect my dogs who were just trying to protect their kibbles and bits. Note to self – Never, ever, open my back door while it is yet dark without turning a light on first. And use the restroom before letting your dogs out, or it can really get ugly.

Being surprised by wildlife at 5 am should in my groggy opinion, warrant the use of well, words preceded by “Holy.” That makes it okay right? I mean it’s kind of like following gossip with the phrase “bless her heart.” Down south, as long as you cap it with that, you are in the clear.

My dogs spotted our intruder feasting on kibble well before I did. They knocked me to the side when they bolted out the door. In my surprise, somewhere amidst the hissing, barking, growling, chasing, climbing screens (smart baby), and running came a string of phrases that would turn the ears of a teamster red I’m sure. I blessed everything from procreation to bodily functions, I questioned not only it’s legitimacy, but it’s mother’s temperment as well. And when I ran out of words, I simply uttered things intangible while I swung my broom at nothing.

This little bugger is not stupid. While they chased him to the doggie door, he jumped up onto the screen and watched them leave. He then jumped down to go back at their food. That’s when I baptized him with my coffee, grabbed a broom and started chanting. Out the door he went and back up the screen. It seems my border collie was laying in wait.

I finally got my dogs to come back in, sat down with a fresh cup of coffee to focus on my morning devotional and my friend came back AGAIN. I didn’t baptize him this time. It was then that I saw he was just a baby. He sat there for a little bit, looking at me with these incredible forlorn eyes. I felt sorry for him for a moment – looked him in the eyes and said “don’t even think about it.” and with that, he left.

My border collie is still sniffing the grounds looking for him. My regular collie – won’t use the doggie door now – she a bit on the prissy side, and it may take her a while to get over the fact that it’s been defiled. I had to let her out the regular screen door. But at least it is quiet again.

Oh yes, this is going to be a glorious day.

The Art of Giving and Receiving

Acts 20:35
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

I’m in a place right now where I’m really looking at giving and receiving. Not in martyred or co-dependant and manipulative ways. But rather, I’m looking at balance between the two. Being a caretaker who insists on pulling myself up via my own bootstraps continually, I’m learning how to bring balance to my daily life.

Giving based on a need to win approval or loyalty – is manipulative control. Or the kind of giving where the above scripture verse is taken completely out of context – it becomes martyred and tired. I say that because those who give without receiving are still controlling people, places, and things. It’s unhealthy. You know what I mean, I’ll do this if you do that, or the “I give and I give and I give (Superglue wrist to forehead for effect) and THIS is the thanks I get?”

Giving – is healthy when done without expectations. It’s also healthy when it’s balanced by receiving.

Receiving, I’m learning can be healthy too. We don’t always like it, do we? Some people might, but I don’t. When I’m receiving, I feel in debt to the giver and I don’t like feeling indebted. I don’t receive well. I have a hard time receiving gifts, compliments, even friendship. I’m much more comfortable on the giver’s platform. I’m much more comfortable when I’m in control. It’s about balance.

We can’t always be the givers and we can’t always be the receivers, especially in relationships. We need to take turns doing both.

I got a taste of what that looked like last summer and I decided I needed to learn how to receive better than I presently do. A friend of mine had their house broken into. All of her jewelry, money, and mementos from her deceased mother were stolen. They even stole her perfume. She felt emotionally violated, and I’ll dare say “raped” at least on some level. Her safe haven (home) was no longer safe. A stranger was in her bedroom. A stranger touched her things. Intimate things, private things, and their ghost stained her spirit for a long time. Emotional rape, to women, can be just as bad as the physical kind. It takes a long time to heal from something like that.

I know exactly how she felt. My house had been robbed as a child. It’s frightening. It’s violating. While I couldn’t replace what was stolen, or her piece of mind, I could do something nice. So I did. I bought her a bottle of her favorite perfume and gave it to her before church.

My gift to her was the perfume. I was the giver. And she was the receiver. Upon receiving the perfume, we immediately switched roles. She gave me her excitement, happiness and joy. And I received it. Right up until her husband took it away. Not the perfume, but her joy. Seeing her excitement, he publicly chastised her, telling her that “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” And she shut down. He robbed her, and me of the flow of life. We were giving and receiving from each other in a healthy and positive way.

His criticism of her joy, stopped the flow and ruined the moment. I wanted to give him something right then and there too. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind. But I didn’t. I’m a coward when it comes to conflict. I give praise, and stuff criticism down my own throat rather than someone else’s. And I received the wrong message – I received his message that well, receiving is wrong. I also sent him the wrong message, or the right one, depending on how you see it. I sent a truthful message anyway. By shutting down, I communicated distrust. By withholding my disagreement, I missed out on sharing my true heart. We both had a chance to give and receive and build a relationship of honesty and we blew it.

What I’ve decided this year is that HE is wrong. It is blessed to do both. To consciously choose to be one or the other only is unhealthy. It contaminates the well. There’s no flow of fresh air in this kind of one-sided living.
God is a giver of great gifts. He gives unmerited and undeserved favor on a daily basis. If all I focus on is giving whether it’s to him or others I deny others the joy of my receiving.

I’m a lot like my friend. I don’t receive well. This is a season where I get to learn and consciously recognize when I’m giving and when I’m receiving. That might sound odd to people who don’t struggle with this issue, but I do struggle and because of that, I need to learn how to be still and do both.

In my garden, for example, I give time, water, nutrients and care to my plants. If I don’t take time to receive the beauty that comes as a result of that, I’ll miss out on joy. In receiving beauty I receive my own kind of nourishment. I need to be still and open in order for that gift (which is really from God if you think about it.) to fill my soul. It’s about letting go of control and like the story below, it keeps the water living and my life renewable.
Barton wrote this short piece, “There are Two Seas” for McCall’s in 1928. John D. Rockefeller used it as a parable in his speech for a United Fund campaign. It was also reprinted in the Reader’s Digest in 1946.

There Are Two Seas by Bruce Barton

There are two seas in Palestine.
One is fresh, and fish are in it.
Splashes of green adorn its banks.
Trees spread their branches over it
and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.
Along its shores the children play as children played when He was there.
He loved it. He could look across its silver surface when He spoke His parables.
And on a rolling plain not far away He fed five thousand people.
The river Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills.
So it laughs in the sunshine.
And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests;
and every kind of life is happier because it is there.
The river Jordan flows on south into another sea.
Here no splash of fish, no fluttering of leaf,
no song of birds, no children’s laughter.
Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business.
The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.
What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas?
Not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both.
Not the soil in which they lie; not the country round about.
This is the difference.
The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan.
For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out.
The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.
The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously.
It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.
The Sea of Galilee gives and lives.
The other sea gives nothing. It is named The Dead.

There are two kinds of people in the world.
There are two seas in Palestine.


Giving and Receiving are choices that are made not day by day, but moment by moment.

My Friend Doesn’t Believe in Hell… is She Still a Christian?

Just so you know, I’m no theologian. I am in fact a very simple minded woman. With a simple faith. I am a Christian because Christ died for me. No more, no less. I forget that sometimes and get hung up on fruits of faith.

Here’s a question that has come up not once, but three times in the past two weeks. What is a Christian exactly?

First via a friend who’s being attacked for her political views and being accused of being Anti-Christian. Half my friends support Obama – I’m on the fence sifting through the media garbage looking for facts instead of sound bites. But I’m still a Christian, and so is she.

The second came via my son who is part of the planning committee for Journey in January – a high school retreat at Camp. The camp leader asked them “What is a Christian” and these kids listed a bunch of characteristics that describe a Christian (Evidence of Faith really) but apparently did not answer his question. He looked over their list and said “If that’s a Christian, than I’m not a Christian.” This totally confused my son because he insists every attribute on that board fit that man. What was he looking for? My son has until Sunday to figure that out.

And three – I have a Lutheran friend who does not believe in hell. And you know, that kinda freaked me out. I understand now that the no such thing as hell thinking isn’t new, and that a lot of Christians really do believe that even if their church or denomination doesn’t. I momentarily climbed up on my deer stand and wanted to take aim, because I think if you don’t believe in hell (which was created for Satan originally) than why do you believe Jesus died, from what did he save us… and spiral just goes down from there. But then I remembered some things.

Mainly, I remember sitting in my car with a speaker I was hostessing last year as she offered a spontaneous prayer “Dear Lord, forgive us when we gag on a gnat and call it a camel.” We were talking about how I love the fact that LCMS Lutherans believe that the Bible is the complete and inerrant word of God as opposed to a piece of literature subjective to the days and times it was written. I went on to add that I believe it to be alive and active, a present active participle kind of word, true yesterday, today and tomorrow. It was then she said that prayer.

I didn’t ask why she prayed that or what gnat was being gagged on and by whom. I was afraid to. I wanted her to like me and if she didn‘t, well I just did not want to know. It could have been me, the fact that I am LCMS Lutheran (there are people who believe we are not Christian btw..) or the fact that I smoke, or it was simply a reaction to my sharing about the splits in the Lutheran Church Who knows. As for liking me? I was worried for nothing. She has such a mothering spirit that I wanted to crawl into her lap by time the weekend was over. I wish she lived nearby. But God knows me. I tend to make idols of out mentors and to keep me from doing that, he only offers them seasonally – keeping me ever needy and focused on Him alone. That is for my benefit – believe me.

Some people gags on gnats, I climb up on deer stands. Different thing, but yet the same. Both lack love and yet love keeps finding us.

Truth remains no matter what. And truth can be shocking. A Christian is saved by Grace through faith, Justified by the Blood of Christ and Sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Salvation, Justification and Sanctification. Those are the things that make a Christian.

There are things about me that choke other people … things that are strong holds for others when they look at me and may have been for Mama T, I don’t know.

I’m hyper and tend to be passionate about weird things. And yet, passion is a gift from God.

I smoke. I’m trying to quit, but I still do it nonetheless. Smoking will not keep me out of heaven – it will however quell the Holy Spirit, hurt my testimony and get me to heaven more quickly than I might be ready for.

I was born in a home for unwed mothers, given up for adoption and retrieved from my foster home by my grandparents. – Truth – I may have started out illegitimate, unloved, and abandoned, but in Christ? – I am adopted, cherished and redeemed. His blood gave me my papers so to speak.

I have deer stand issues as well – things I look at and gag over.. Things I won’t bore you with because frankly they are just judgmental issues that show you how shallow and unloving I can be.

The truth is, you can be a Christian and not believe the Bible is inerrant, you can be a Christian and have differing political views, you can be a Christian and not believe in hell. A Christian is a sinner whose been forgiven by God, through the blood of Christ. There are no tic marks on God’s wall, because his blood covers them all, past, present, and future.

His blood covers the gnats, camels, and deer stands as well. His blood covers you and it covers me. That’s a good thing, because even though I’m a Christian, I mess up a lot. I blow my witness. My actions sometimes deny Christ, I run on my own steam until I drop, I forget to pray, I throw pity parties complete with balloons and streamers and invite the world along, and in the end, I come running to Him, on my knees, yet face up, so that his blood hits my heart. And he speaks to my heart, and loves me still. How cool is that?

post thought – please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not speaking of inclusion theology. Jesus made it perfectly clear, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one shall come to the father except through me.” This is most certainly true.