Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hospital Stay and Sickness

Being sick is about as bad as the last weeks of winter. All three kiddos have been fighting sickness as winter comes to and end and spring tries to break through. We had one in the hospital and two in the Emergency Room in one weekend.

I can't help but wonder if I should have fed them healthier, or kept them away from public places during flu season, but we'll never know if it would have helped.

Great Aunt Donna admitting Zachary on a Thursday morning. It made Zach very comfortable to have a nurse that looked like grandma Jan!

Zachary is a very happy boy, so measuring his severity of sickness based on attitude wasn't an accurate measure, which I realized in the middle of the night when he was severely lethargic.

While in the hospital, Brian brought in each of the other boys to the ER, a day apart. One for RSV/pneumonia and one for RSV/ear infection. Here we are reading Billy Goats Gruff, a book we found in the ER, and replacing the three goat's names with "Ezra, Elliot and Zachary" to keep them settled while receiving a treatment.

It was a very discouraging week and weekend, exhausted from sleepless nights. This second visit to the ER while in the hospital already with Zachary about drove me crazy. But then it was all immediately put in perspective. I recognized our ER doctor, which brought back memory of the last time Brian and I were in the ER, four and a half years ago with our second miscarriage in a year, while we were visiting Iowa. In all the craziness of coming from the hospital room to the ER, I hadn't realized the irony of this until I recognized the doctor. Four years ago I would have not thought that Brian and I would have three children in less than three years.

Zach, ready to go home on a Sunday morning, in healthier shape then his two older brothers at the time.

Zachary's first words... in the hospital!

Brian, arguably, had a tougher job with two sick bigger boys at home. He took this video while Zach and I were in the hospital, of their "tea party." (not exactly what I would expect them to be playing with dad that weekend).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shelter Me

This week our family is recovering from what felt like Bubonic Plague. I'll post pictures of Zach's hospital stay and the two ER visits soon when there is a little more time.

For now, I'm posting a blues/rock song I ran across today. While in the hospital with Zachary, I watched more news than any healthy person should watch. The Japan earthquake happened the first night of Zach's stay, so the news covered nothing but the earthquakes devastation and unrest exploding all over the middle east. The only word I could think of to describe it all was, "biblical."

The lyrics describe not only the trouble of our little family the past week, but what I felt while watching the news four days in a row. (It is difficult at any point to watch the news and not feel like singing a Psalm of lament in response.)

Shelter Me, with lyrics from Psalm 91:

dark waters rise and thunders pound
the wheels of war are going round
and all the walls are crumbling
shelter me lord underneath your wings

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.a]">[a]
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because heb]">[b] loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Prayer based on Psalm 90:

Teach us, Lord, to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

There was a beautiful mid-winter sunrise earlier this winter over the Iowa landscape. One of the benefits of living in wide open spaces of the country is getting to enjoy the big sky in some of it's greatest moments of glory. Winter sunrises offer some of the most spectacular shows. Sometimes it is in unlikely places that we find beauty, like the middle of Iowa winters, in a cemetery.

Since I was up way to early, I drove to capture some photos of the sunrise before my "sons" woke up.

Several older cemeteries are scattered along roadsides, surrounded by farm land. If you grew up in the country, chances are there is one with in a few miles of your house with large conifer trees shading it.

There was a cemetery across from the church I grew up in that we sometimes would play in before or after soup supers and cadet car races when our parents were visiting and us elementary school girls wanted something to do, like throw rocks at the ducks in the pond and pretend we were making wishes in the wishing well. We had a Sunday School teacher that took us to the cemetery for a walk. We didn't think anything of it. It was just sort of part of the church landscape, an extension of the community. Some of us in the class had grandparents buried there.

Hearing stories from older generations reminds us that the cemetery and the community of people lived a little closer to each other. The church and the cemetery shared the same field, in-home funerals were common, and, more people died.

Today marks the beginning of the forty day journey of Lent: a time of renewal for those who follow Christ, beginning with the imposition of ashes and the scripture, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return (from Genesis 3).

So why start a season of renewal with reminding ourselves of death? It isn't an easy way to invite a friend to church, "Hey, we are reflecting on death this week, why don't you visit?" Hmm...not likely to get a yes.

Sometimes it is some of the most unlikely place we find beauty, like the middle of Iowa winters, in a cemetery.

I was reminded of this when I heard, "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North was inspired after praying in a cemetery.

This is where the healing begins, this is where the healing starts.
When you come to where you're broken within, the light meets the dark.

There is nothing like reflecting on death to help you get your priorities straight.

Search out the brokenness of Good Friday, so that he may heal you with the spirit of Easter.

May God the Father, who does not despise the broken spirit, give you a contrite heart.
May Christ, who bore our sins in his body on the tree, heal you by his wounds.

May the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, speak to you words of pardon and peace.

The sunrise reflection in the windows of church.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pastor's Retreat at 10,000 Feet

Brian and I were able to gather with friends last weekend two hours into the mountains, outside of Denver. All of these friends, who graduated in the same class from seminary are pastors all over North America - Denver, Vancouver, California, South Dakota, and Ontario.

The first day and a half we shared stories about our ministries, while acclimating to the high altitude of our cabin retreat (kindly donated by a parishioner from Denver). We also split into husband and wife breakouts, and spent time in Breckenridge, CO. We decided that the mountain air and scenery were marvelous, in two years may be California would be a nice destination.

our group, minus two spouses who couldn't make it.

enjoying mountain air and conversation.

Our first morning, sharing with Joan and Duane, a retired pastor-church relations consultant from the CRCNA.

After landing in Denver, we got to tour one of our friends' churches. I took photos of ideas that were neat, including the church's craft closet which is organized by a member who loves organization. What a gift to the teachers!

These bags are for children in worship. Several families take a bag and ensure it is ready for the worship service. I thought it was a welcoming idea for children.

A picture of the front of the church.

A house next to the church was transformed into more ministry space. The kitchen and living room is used for coffee break ministry, spectacularly decorated by a gifted church member.

Preparing meals together was fun and easy, thanks to Jill for pre organizing them and buying the groceries!

A morning scenery taken by Brian from the cabin view (pikes peak in the distance).