Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stitches for Eli

It happened so fast! Eli was charging down the hallway into his brother's room, fell down to his knees and then BAM! he bashed his eyebrow into the edge of the toy train table. Ouch! He yelled, Tara came running, and the older three got to work. Levi ran and got a wet cloth for Tara to hold over Eli's gash, Isaac went to go get the phone, and Emma raced to get the paper with the doctor's after-hours phone number.

Tara called me at Anchor, asked me to come home so we could take Eli to the ER together, and then she called Karen to come over and watch the other three. I got home around 8:30pm, I hopped out of the car, hopped into the garage, and then hopped into the van. Eli was sitting in the back (in Levi's seat...) all smiles. His eyebrow looked nasty, but he seemed pleasant enough.

We hurried over to the Lutheran ER - they got us into a room fairly quickly. The ER doctor came in, quickly determined that Eli definitely needed stitches, and then the nurses got to work prepping Eli. They told us that normal procedure in this case was to sedate Eli with a drug normally used by vets on animals. It is supposedly kid friendly, except that it causes nightmares. As if Tara and I weren't already a little nervous. We wondered if the doctor couldn't just glue Eli's head together, like what was done for Levi. The doctor explained that he'd have to shave off the eyebrow in order to glue the wound shut, and there's a chance that the hair wouldn't grow back. He suggested we stick with regular stitches. He made his point.

Eli cried when he got the shot, but seemed to calm down quickly. He seemed to get really relaxed kind of quickly. I was impressed, until I realized that this animal drug was fast acting. Soon Eli is slumped down on the bed, drooling (another side-effect) and looking glassy-eyed. The nurse covers his head, the doctor settles down, and then he starts sewing. The nurse assisting him was kind of chatty, but she was nice and helped calm our nerves. Tara had a hard time watching the doctor sewing, I didn't mind it so much - it was kind of fascinating. But the closer I watched, the warmer the room became, and the more thankful I was for sitting down. The doctor got kind of chatty himself, in his own reserved, quiet way. I'm sure he's had to deal with freakish parents questioning his every move, hovering for a chance to sue him. Not us -we tried to encourage him, no need to make him worry. But then he broke the string, and it took the nurse forever to find a new one. And then Eli started to stir, and the doctor buckled down and finished the job just as Eli was getting ready to wake up.

By 10:30pm we were getting ready to walk out the door. Tara and Eli were in the lobby waiting for me to get van - or so I thought. When I pulled up to the lobby, they were no where to be seen. I waited...and got worried...and then went searching for them. The desk nurse saw me come in and told me that Eli had thrown up. Not good. They eventually had to put Eli back in his room. Because the wound was a head trauma, and it was followed up by nausea, they had to readmit him and make sure that it was nothing serious. They gave Eli a little bit of apple juice to drink - if he could keep it down for 30 minutes, we could leave. No luck. We get him cleaned up again, and they tell us to give him a bit more to drink, see if he can keep that down for thirty minutes. Like clockwork, at 12:30am, Eli gets sick again just as we were getting ready to put his coat on and leave.

So now they have to hook him up to an IV to get some fluids in his system and stop the nausea and make sure there is no dehydration. The new night nurse, Tim, tried to get the IV in Eli, but after two unsuccessful attempts, he thankfully gave up. So now we had to wait for the IV team to come down, and then after they came we could get the CT scan, and then hopefully go home. So we waited. And waited. And waited. We fell asleep in our chairs, our heads pressed against the bed rail. Finally, 2pm rolls around and so does the IV specialist. She gets to work and in no time has Eli hooked up. Naomi was working that night, and so she was able to stop by for a few minutes and check in on Eli. That was very nice of her.

Eli had been in a deep sleep when the IV specialist came in. Considering what he'd already been through, getting woke up in order to get a needle shoved in your arm was a good cause to get really cranky. Now that he's got a throbbing eyebrow, needleholes in both arms, an empty stomach, and very sleepy eyes, it's time to have him lay very, very, very still in the CT scanner. Real smart. Eli's screaming, I'm trying to soothe him, the nurse is trying to put the lead jacket on me, the other nurse is trying to keep the IV cords from getting ripped out, and Tara's trying to help get Eli calmed down. The magic formula for calming Eli down? The promise of strawberry flavored carbonated water, and a strobe-light toy that the CT nurse had on hand.

The scan revealed nothing bad, the doctor said we could go, and the nurse got Eli unhooked. By now it's 3am, and we're wondering why we had to wait almost two hours for Eli to get thirty minutes worth of IV fluid. Couldn't we have just done the CT scan while he was in a deep sleep? Why'd it take so long to get a twenty-two month old in the ER an IV? I'm not sure I want to see the bill for all of this.

3:31am. That's what time we pulled into the driveway. It had been a very long night. By 4am we were all in bed, hoping that the other kiddos would sleep in. Ha! I don't remember much about the morning - at some point Tara got up and took Emma to school. When I woke up at 9:30am Eli was in bed with me...we were both a bit groggy. What a night!


After the shift change, a nurse named Tim came and introduced himself to Eli. Which made him cry. So Nurse Tim brought back this cute little bear for Eli to hold. He didn't want it. At least not right away.

As Tara and I tried to pass the hours with Eli, I went and got some National Geographic magazines to look at; we spent alot of time looking at monkeys. Thank goodness Eli likes monkeys!

In the morning, Levi and Isaac wanted to see the stitches in Eli's brow. For Christmas they had received doctor coats that Naomi had made for them - so they put them on, grabbed their medical kits, and started giving Eli a check up. Too cute!

The morning-after look:

I think his eye looked worse the second morning, but he didn't seemed to be bothered by it too much!

Friday, January 23, 2009

To Understand Each Other


That's a word/action that is pretty important to me right now.

Paul Tournier's book: To Understand Each Other is one of the best on the subject of listening and understanding. Listening is only the first step, the next step is to seek to understand what you hear. Wisdom is the step after that - knowing what to do with what you understand. Tournier's book is full of wisdom concerning the tasks of listening and understanding.

I've bought a bunch of used copies of the book for my friends at Anchor - I hope they get snatched up quickly.

Here's a list of the short/concise chapters - which also, by the way, give you a clear overview of the book and the theme of understanding.

To Achieve Understanding,
We Need to Want it

To Achieve Understanding,
We Need to Express Ourselves

To Achieve Understanding,
We Need Courage

To Achieve Understanding,
We Need to Love

To Achieve Understanding,
We Need to Accept Our Natural Differences

To Achieve Understanding,
We Must Admit How Greatly the Sexes Differ

To Achieve Understanding,
We Must Admit Our Differences in Love Itself

We Need to Understand
in Order to Help Each Other

In Order to Understand,
We Need to Grasp the Importance of the Past

Complete Understanding
Calls for Personal Submission to Jesus Christ

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Christmas Day Fun 2008

Emma and Levi lingering over their special Christmas grape juice.

Smiling, kind of still waking up, but very ready to open presents!

Emma and Tara cuddling in their matching Christmas jammies!

After finishing opening presents, Grandma Karen came over to visit for awhile and play with the kids. One of Tara's awesome Christmas ideas was to make playing cards with family pictures on them. Karen and Levi had fun playing with Emma and Tara using the new Christmas cards.

Levi got a very cool toy - I had as much fun as he did putting it together. All the kids had great fun running the marbles through the toy, sitting on the counter, and occasionally fighting over the marbles. Imagine that....

Another cool gift the boys got were some Monster Trucks! They make lots of noise, the boys run them over stuff, and they are big! What could be better? Actually, what could have been better were a few less screws used to secure the toy to the box. I probably spent twenty minutes freeing the trucks from their cage of plastic and screws.

Out of all the gifts Eli received, he chooses an empty, ripped box as his toy of choice. Silly kid.

The Mess! Definitely a fun Christmas!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations to President Barack Obama

It wasn't till this evening that I was able to watch the Inauguration Address by President Obama. It was a speech I was glad to listen to, a moment in history I'm thankful to be part of. If you haven't seen the speech yet, here it is on YouTube.

Some impressions having watched the speech now:
* I'm looking forward to Obama's new style of leadership; the confidence, boldness, and eagerness to effect change is refreshing and inspiring.

* I resonate with his oft repeated phrase: we have chosen hope over fear. I voted for him out of hope of what he might be able to accomplish; I felt like a vote for McCain would have been done in a spirit of fear.

* I have big expectations for Obama, and yet I presume that he will disappoint in some ways, have a scandal or two emerge, and have many situations where he will be exposed as not living up to his promises and lofty prose.

* The beginning of the Bush presidency was also filled with some level of hope, but also mired in controversy about legitimacy due to Al Gore's challenge; Bush promised change, accountability, smaller government, effectiveness, a better America - and he didn't deliver. He has seemed to botch his responses to the major crises of our day; it's possible that Obama will botch it too - albeit for very different reasons. But Obama is not riding the coat-tails of his family's political dynasty, is not coming in on big family wealth, is not seeking to outdo his father as president; Obama's agenda is very different, and seemingly more promising.

* I respect his approach to the Muslim world - firm, engaging, hope-filled, informed.

* I identify with his rejection of false-choices, of either/or responses. It's not free-market or socialism, security or liberty, social conservatism or liberal idealism. The world is more complex than we imagine it to be, the solutions require more nuance than we realize, and our perspective is so limited in comparison to the actual events which transpire.

* I like the pragmatic approach Obama is taking to leading the country, based on wisdom about what will work best - we'll see how well it works out for him.

* I value the historical connections Obama links to his vision of America: invoking Lincoln, referencing George Washington, appealing to Martin Luther King, Jr., and using Scripture.

* McCain would have been more of the same; with Obama we are definitely getting someone different in the White House. We'll see if he's different enough to resist the deadly status quo of DC politics.

Here's the text for the speech.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kierkegaard on Prayer

Prayer does not change God,
it changes the one who offers it.

The important thing is to be honest towards God,
until he himself gives the explanation;
which, whether it is the one you want or not,
is always the best.

To pray is a task for the whole soul.

God possesses all good gifts, and his bounty is greater than human understanding can grasp. This is our comfort, because God answers every prayer; for either he gives what he pray for, or something far better.

The earthly minded person thinks and imagines that whenever he prays, the important thing, the thing he must concentrate upon, is that God should hear what he is praying for. And yet in the true, eternal sense it is just the reverse: the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God is asking for.

~ Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, pgs 345-348

Sunday Sermon Notes - 01.18.09


That's the word for me. And for a lot of other people I know.

Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.

[Isaiah 28v23 - TNIV]

This verse is to me and for me. As a husband. As a father. As a son, a brother, a friend, a neighbor, and as a pastor.

The consequences of not listening are painful. Yet it is so easy to not listen well; it is hard work to listen well. And it's easy to lose sight of the benefits of listening well - the benefit of understanding, of being understood, of strengthening oneness, of furthering healing and restoration.

For me, for Anchor, for a lot of people, choosing to listen well is the next step we need to take in loving God and loving the other in our life. Listening is primarily an act of love, and for too many of us, we are failing to love others precisely at the point that we fail to listen well. We let all sorts of obstacles stay in the way to listening well. And we chafe at the consequences of our choice to not listen well.

If you were going to rate yourself...
How well do you listen to:

Yourself? Not Well---Well---Really Well

Others? Not Well---Well---Really Well

God? Not Well---Well---Really Well

And - how well would God and Someone Else rate you?

______ Not Well---Well---Really Well

______ Not Well---Well---Really Well

James the brother of Jesus learned this the hard way, and he passes his wisdom off to us:
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Don't merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself - Do what it says!

God makes it clear to Jesus' followers that what he said through Isaiah still mattered; at the Transfiguration Peter kept chattering away, until the Voice from the cloud declared: This is my son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!

And so it is for us today with our marriages, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, family, friends, neighbors, etc: be quick to listen to Jesus! Do what he says! When it comes time to listen to somebody - anybody (especially those close to you...) - "pretend" that you are not just working hard to listen to that person, but that you are also working hard to listen to the LORD. The act of listening to God and others is intertwined, so we might as well step it up a notch in our listening to God and others.

When it comes to listening to others, usually what you hear prompts a prayer: LORD - what do I do with what I just heard? And when it comes to listening to God, it's usually going to result in direction for how to join him in his work of restoration in you, in others, in the world around you - which will at some point require some difficult listening.

Ways to Listen to the LORD:
Read The Scriptures (like Luke...or Proverbs...)
Reflectively Pray through the LORD's Prayer (like the one in Luke...) and listen for what the Spirit says to you
Ruminate on the LORD's Great Commandment (also found in Luke...) and renew your commitment to listening well.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes - 01.11.09

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
~ Luke 3v3

The good news of the gospel of God is that your life can change - it must change.

For so many of us, we see our lives getting into ruts and routines, we repeat the same bad behaviors, and the habits get harder and harder to halt. And yet, into our very messed up lives, God comes with a message of hope: REPENT! Receive Forgiveness of your Sins! Get freedom from your old ways and get direction for the new way!

Sin is a word we don't use that much anymore, but it may be useful to bring it back into our everyday life. Sin, as you read about it in all the stories of the Bible, is that action which results in division and cracks in relationships. Sin corrupts, it wrecks, it ruins, it perverts, it twists, it stains, it sours, it pulls apart, it rends, it comes between and embitters.

Sin is pervasive, if you take time to listen to the stories of the people you know. Most people have plenty of relationships that are infected with sin. So what is the remedy? What is the course of healing? How do we break free from the grip of sin and start out on a new way?

Sin must first be named, and then it must be rejected. Sin seems right at first, but it leads to death of what is good and right. You've got to see the tentacles of sin in your life and be ready to get rid of them. Once you confess the truth about your sin-full-ness, and repent of your guiltiness, then you are ready to receive the forgiveness God has already extended to you.

And once you are forgiven, you stand ready to start doing what is right under the direction of the Spirit. The only way to live a life which brings good out of sin is to walk with the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God will give you promptings throughout the day of right and good things to do that help further your freedom from sin, help others break free from sin, and add healing to the world.

It's interesting to note that when the crowds asked John what to do now that they had confessed and repented of their sins, they were instructed to notice people who were hungry and cold and remedy the situation. When they were in a position to cheat and lie, instead they were to be honest and truth-full. When they came across a situation where they could exploit someone else and advance themselves at the expense of someone else - well, they were to choose peace instead of envy.

Everyday acts of goodness: noticing the needs of others and doing something about it, choosing honesty and rejecting greed would go along ways in our culture - as it did back then - to free people from sin, and bring more healing to more people along the way.


Receive Forgiveness of Sins!

Produce Fruit in Keeping with Repentance.

Be the Good News of God.

Sunday Sermon Notes - 01.04.09

And as Jesus grew up, he increased in wisdom and in favor with God and people.
~ Luke 2v52 (TNIV).

As we look to make some new changes this new year, and as we look to Jesus for direction for this new year, we'd do well to ponder Luke's summary statement of Jesus' young life. It's worth noting that what we want for our life is what was true of Jesus'. When you take into account all of the changes we'd like to see in our life, most of the worthy changes could be summed up in the categories of wisdom and favor. We want more wisdom, we want more favor. I suppose, as we think to the year ahead, if want more wisdom and favor like Jesus had, we'd do well to follow his Way.

Jesus' life was one of integrity: before he showed us how to increase in wisdom and favor, he did it first. Consider the changes you want to see in other people's life. You could probably sum up most of those changes under the categories of wisdom and favor. In being like Jesus, we must first increase in wisdom and favor if we want others to increase in wisdom and favor.

To sum it up in a phrase: Be the change you wish to see in the world (a paraphrase of Ghandi).

Or - another way to put it: Be the Jesus you wish to see in the world. As you increase in wisdom and favor, it will overflow into the lives of others around you. But you can't pour out what is not being poured in. As you follow the way of Jesus, you will be going the way of wisdom and favor, you will have it poured into you so that as you live wisely and favorably, it can be poured out.

As you look to make changes this year, consider the task of reconciliation. If you are going to go the way of Jesus, this is his major task - one which requires much wisdom and favor. Maybe, as you grow in wisdom and favor this year, you'll be convicted to right your wrongs; to make up for your mistakes, to fix what you broke. Or, maybe you'll commit to working through the consequences of your sins.

Make this new year count: be the Jesus you wish to see in your home, your church, your neighborhood, your school, your workplace, your world.

Daddy, I want to type something!






The Ears of God

Bonhoeffer writes with great depth and insight; so when it comes to listening, I'm all ears. Except I'm not; right now my grade for listening would be: Needs Improvement! And lots of it.

That said, read and listen to this entry:
For Christians, pastoral care differs essentially from preaching in that here the task of listening is joined to the task of speaking the Word. There is also a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes to already know what the other person has to say.

This impatient, inattentive listening really despises the other Christian and finally is only waiting to get a chance to speak and thus to get rid of the other. This sort of listening is not fulfillment of our task. And it is certain that here, too, in our attitude toward other Christians we simply see reflected our own relationship with God.

It should be no surprise that we are no longer able to perform the greatest service of listening that God has entrusted to us - hearing the confession of another Christian - if we refuse to lend our ear to another person on lesser subjects.

The pagan world today knows something about persons who often can be helped only by having someone who will seriously listen to them. On this insight it has built its own secular form of pastoral care, which has become popular with many people, including Christians.

But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been entrusted to them by the one who is indeed the great listener and in whos work they are to participate. We should listen with the ears of God, so that we can speak the Word of God.
- from Life Together 99

~~A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Mediations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Seth Godin writes good stuff. Check it out.

What he wrote about goals/goal-making is convicting. Very descriptive...of me. I want to make a difference for good in the world, which would require me to make some goals. But I want to enjoy life and live in the "now"...while I'm making a difference.... But now I'm rethinking that strategy.

Here's Godin's take on goals:
The thing about goals

Having goals is a pain in the neck.

If you don't have a goal (a corporate goal, a market share goal, a personal career goal, an athletic goal...) then you can just do your best. You can take what comes. You can reprioritize on a regular basis. If you don't have a goal, you never have to worry about missing it. If you don't have a goal you don't need nearly as many excuses, either.

Not having a goal lets you make a ruckus, or have more fun, or spend time doing what matters right now, which is, after all, the moment in which you are living.

The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run.

It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact... those people have goals.

Monday, January 12, 2009


This posted selection from Bonhoeffer is very convicting; it's also prompting a new sermon series for me - one that I think will dovetail well with our readings in Luke for the year.

Just as our love for God begins with listening to God's Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God's love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God's Word, but also lends us God's ear.

We do God's work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.

So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to "offer" something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.

The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it.

Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.

~ from Life Together 98

-- A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Meditations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Family Health Updates

It's been an interesting start to the year 2009.

Today Faye was released from Parkview Hospital due to heart issues due to pneumonia.

Also today, Shirley had surgery to repair her broken ankle.

And tomorrow Mum goes to the doctor to find out how to alleviate the debilitating pain in her side.

Eli has a double ear infection that is fading fast, and Levi has an ear infection that is hopefully going away. Oh, and Eli still has to do breathing treatments twice a day.

So, if you could say a prayer for my Mum and Shirley and Faye, it'd be appreciated.