They're what much of the Christmas season is made of. Surprise gifts, surprise visits from a loved one, surprising new ways of celebrating what God has given...all pleasant surprises.
This year, I've received one that's not so pleasant. I'll be spending Christmas in the hospital.
Yesterday, during what was expected to be a very routine appointment with my orthopedic surgeon to check my progress and look at xrays, he discovered some not-so-good news. It's complicated and I won't try to explain it here, but it really amounts to quite a mess inside my leg and hip and necessitates pretty much a reconstruction of the whole leg from hip to knee. I naively asked my great doc if he could manage to do it before he leaves here in February (I wouldn't want anyone but him to do it) and he seemed slightly amused and told me that he was going to check his schedule to see "if I can do it in the morning." And he made sure that even though I had walked in to the examining room, that I had a wheelchair on the way out.
Well "tomorrow" (which would have been today) didn't happen, but Christmas Eve did, so I'll be reporting into the hospital at 5:15 in the morning for an early (and probably lengthy) surgery. The best part is that I'll get to have one of their great diabetic dinner trays for Christmas Dinner! And no, I won't be sharing.
Really, I'm trying to keep smiling. We've just finished opening our family gifts, since taking them into the OR was not an option. We celebrated last night with all the grandchildren except the two in Virginia and I thank God that we had at least enough notice to be able to get together for that.
And I have a remarkable surgeon, one who's taken me into the operating room five times before and who looks to the same God I do for strength and guidance. Despite the fact that I don't like the timing, the Father has had His hand on me and will continue to walk his daughter through the next painful part of the journey. It's a road I'd rather not walk, naturally, but I didn't get to choose it. My God chose it for me and equipped me with His presence and with a family, friends, and a church family who are the best I could ask for when going through trials. So I accept it as from His hand and ask for the grace to rejoice in His love and the gift of His Son no matter which bed I'm sleeping in on Christmas Eve.
I will truly appreciate the prayers of those of you who are led to remember me tomorrow morning and to lift me up as I sort of start all over down the road of recovery, physical therapy and re-integrating into all the things I want to be able to do.
And may each of you celebrate Christ's incarnation with joy no matter where you are or what your circumstances! Merry Christmas!
(I'll try to talk CJ into getting on with an update when I'm on the other side of tomorrow's operation. You don't want to see me type on morphine. It's not pretty.)
'Twas the week before Christmas
And throughout Granny's House
Every creature was stirring
Even the wireless mouse....
Okay, I'll spare you more; suffice it to say that our mouses (how come the plural of computer mouse isn't "mice"?) have been busy ordering gifts and making plans...some of us have even braved real stores in addition to the virtual ones...and we're almost ready for next weekend. It has seemed crazy here at times, but then I stop and think that within five years our home is going to be a lot quieter and I will long for the craziness...
In the few quiet spaces, I've been reading, jotting down ideas for New Year goals, praying for friends who have hurts and or/big decisions ahead, and putting my feet up when possible to conserve energy and minimize pain. Happily, there have been enough of those spaces to keep the craziness enjoyable and not insane!
Printer update: We are loving our Canon Pixma printer. I recommend it.
It's looking like we're about to find out how much ObamaCares about all of us. I can't believe that we're on the cusp of being thrust into the pit of socialism, but since we've been creeping that way anyway I guess I shouldn't be surprised. One of the things that stuns me is that anyone enrolled in a government "exchange" plan will be forced to pay an abortion premium (doesn't matter if you've had a hysterectomy or you're a 22-year-old young man or you object to abortion) every month to fund those abortions that can't be "publicly funded". Yeah, right.
I'm thinkin' the east coast had plenty snow that they could have shared with south Texas, but no....Hey, maybe the administration can fix that, too? I mean, level playing field and all that...
Once again, Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark is the best. As are friends who give it :-)
In these days when "peace on earth" seems cliche and certainly doesn't express the current realities, I'm reminded that there will be a new heaven and a new earth before we see it come to be. And so I close with the words of a old carol by William Wadsworth Longfellow:
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
May each of you reading have a blessed, peaceful, and worshipful Christmas!
Nine Months After Stimulus 49 of 50 States Have Lost Jobs
And speaking of books...
I shared this Monday night with my HOPE group but thought I'd mention it here too: If you want to read a book that will be a wonderful preparation for the resolution-making, goal-setting, priority-establishing rituals here at year's end, let me recommend Richard Swenson's Margin. It's a fairly easy read but can help you get a whole new perspective on living life without overloaded time, finances, energy and every other resource you have.
Read it and breathe.
If you read, listened to, or even started and haven't finished, Atlas Shrugged this year, please leave me a note in the comments, along with any thoughts you had about the book in relation to the current socio-political climate in the U.S.
Also, if you've read it in years past, I'd like to know that too.
Kristen: Upset about what?
Carrie: Because sometimes the thinks that I have go away when I start thinking about something else and I still want those thinks!
I hear ya, Carrie. And you're only five.
The Christmas carols at church today were exquisite, voices assisted by strings, flute and two pianos. For some reason the third Sunday of Advent is always my favorite--we're well into the season but not yet swirling in those last few days before Christmas. I wish I could say that my heart is as quiet on the fourth Sunday as it is on the third, but I'm just being honest here...
Is it just me or have you noticed that parking is not as bad this Christmas season and the stores aren't quite as crazy? I think that internet shopping, which I've been doing for years now, is finally starting to affect the total volume of shoppers out on any given day. Not that I actually GO in stores, you understand. Just observing from outside :-)
Could we just go ahead and extend Eggnog Lattes for two months?
I will pick up the very last gift tomorrow. Then starts the wrapping marathon. I bought myself a pair of memory foam slippers just for this purpose. It's the most standing I'll have done in a long time...although sometimes I do sit in a chair and lower my ironing board to just the right height so I can SIT and wrap!
Winter was canceled.
While on my Hawaii trip I finished (thanks to Kindle!) The Courage to be Protestant. I think I mentioned before that the writing was pretty bad. It did get better, almost as though Wells switched editors halfway through. Regardless, it's a valuable book and I'm glad I bought it.
I'm still not holding my breath, but I'm beginning to smell a meltdown in the Democrats' Health Care Destruction bill. Doesn't mean they won't still pass something horrendous, and whatever it is they'll claim victory, but perhaps we can avoid some of the worst parts: public option, Medicare buy-in for people my age (which is worse than a public option and I'll tell you why if you email me), and what amounts to a repeal of the Hyde amendment. We'll see.
This month, Shelley, our senior who's also taking Dual Credit college courses, finished up French 3 with a solid A. She's really found a love here, second only to her music. Yesterday she went as part of the French Club to participate in a story time with kids at Barnes and Noble. She read, in French (and beautifully to my ears), Dr. Suess's Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon. Oh, you haven't heard of that one? Well of course you like Green Eggs and Ham!
Have a wonderful week-before Christmas!
“The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources.
Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.
But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us.”—Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books, 2009)
via First Importance
On the count of three, everyone will permanently refrain from exhaling:
Carbon Dioxide Rule
Officials gather in Copenhagen this week for an international climate summit, but business leaders are focusing even more on Washington, where the Obama administration is expected as early as Monday to formally declare carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant.
An "endangerment" finding by the Environmental Protection Agency could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions -- even if Congress doesn't pass pending climate-change legislation. EPA action to regulate emissions could affect the U.S. economy more directly, and more quickly, than any global deal inked in the Danish capital, where no binding agreement is expected.
Many business groups are opposed to EPA efforts to curb a gas as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide.
(2009-12-02) — A day after a televised address about his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in order to bring them home again soon, President Barack Obama announced he would apply his Afghanistan war strategy to domestic health care reform.
“It’s important that we seize the initiative,” the president said, “and put the resources in place so that we can withdraw them in 18 months, leaving the uninsured with the capacity to take care of themselves, to buy their own health insurance on the open market.”
The president said he’ll commit 30,000 new bureaucrats to this effort, who will begin deploying in early 2010, to train the uninsured in how to buy health insurance, and to equip the unemployed to find work, or to start businesses, so that they, too, can buy health insurance.
The president said the entire objective of his health care reform plan is to “hand over responsibility to the people, and then get our government forces out of their lives as quickly as possible.”“This effort must be based on performance,” said Mr. Obama. “The days of providing a blank check are over. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance."
Obama Brings Afghan Strategy to Health Care Reform
“In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us – seeing what it cost him to save us from sin – we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”
via Of First Importance
While never overly influenced by what foreigners say about the U.S., its priorities and its leadership, I am always nevertheless interested and sometimes fascinated by the voices from overseas as they observe us. This morning, from German newspaper Der Spiegel:
Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America's new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric -- and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.
One can hardly blame the West Point leadership. The academy commanders did their best to ensure that would be well-received.
Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond "enthusiastically" to the speech. But it didn't help: The soldiers' reception was cool.
One didn't have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearingIt was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. He demanded sacrifice, but he was unable to say what it was for exactly.
An additional 30,000 US soldiers are to march into Afghanistan -- and then they will march right back out again. America is going to war -- and from there it will continue ahead to peace. It was the speech of a Nobel War Prize laureate.
I don't usually watch a whole Obama speech, as I've never agreed that he's even capable of the "soaring rhetoric" for which he's famous. But I did watch the speech last night, and this morning I'm thinkin' the Germans are very insightful. You can finish reading the observations here: