Taking After Grandpa

Taking After Grandpa

Every weekday morning, my Granddaughter descends the steps to the sight of her Grandpa eating his morning cereal and reading the daily paper.  “Good morning Grandpa” is followed by her request for breakfast and strawberry milk, or “Cow Juice with pink stuff” as we call it.  Grandpa quickly leaves for work, and I get ready to serve her breakfast. 

Imagine my surprise one morning when I went into the dining room, waffles and strawberry milk in hand, and found my five-year-old Granddaughter intently reading the funny pages of the paper.  She was so focused that she didn’t see me grab a camera or even react when I took two or three shots, flash included.  (With apologies for my photography) Talk about responding to what has been modeled for you!  Oh, and yes, she could actually read the funnies.  

It wasn’t a fluke.  We sat down at the same time the next day, and I was reading the paper while I ate.  She looked at me somewhat indignantly and said, “Where’s my paper?”  Whether we knew it or not, we had taught her that reading the newspaper was an important part of a morning routine. 

Now, there is nothing wrong with reading the daily news.  But, I couldn’t help but wonder what the result would have been if we read our Bible every morning at breakfast.  I often withdraw to my room and read the Word in privacy so I can concentrate.  I’m going to have to rethink that strategy. 

It also started me thinking.  What else does she see us do on a regular basis?  Like every other kid on the planet, she is watching the adults in her life.  Carefully.  Not only watching, but imitating. 

What are you modeling for the little ones in your life? 

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The Celebrated Jumping Dog

August 27, 2008

**With apologies to Mark Twain**

The Celebrated Jumping Dog

The Celebrated Jumping Dog

Last Saturday morning I stumbled out of bed before the sun was up to get ready for work.  It was one of those mornings that I wished that caffeine was still my friend.  Little did I know that I was going to have an awakening that would rival caffeine. 

My first hint that something was different that morning was that my dogs were not outside my bedroom door.  A lot of times they sleep on the steps or outside our bedroom doors.  Once my pack hears any movement, their tails start thumping on the walls and doors.  Sounds like a persistent knocking on the door.  When I leave the room, I have to herd them down the steps in front of me so I don’t take a tumble.  After all, we are talking about two hundred plus pounds of dogs.  When they get to the bottom of the steps they do this “ansy-dancey” prancing in anticipation of their morning breakfast while I walk down the steps. 

I guess, being only half-awake, I failed to register the differences in the morning dog rituals. I was half-way down the steps before anything registered.  This morning my dogs were already down the steps.  And I was not the center of attention.  My boxer mix, Duchess, was standing with her nose to the front door and her tail was going like crazy.  The other two were watching her cautiously from a distance. 

My first thought was that someone was at the front door.  Then Duchess jumped. 

Straight up.  About two or three feet high. 

Not a small feat for a seventy-pound dog with hip problems. 

I stood stock still and watched.  Duchess moved back a couple of steps.  Then I saw it.  A long, green frog leaping at the front door.  Apparently even frogs know where to find the exit….

Duchess watched the frog make two or three more tries at the front door.  Then she moved back in, hoping for a playmate.  The frog didn’t see the possibility of fun and quickly scuttled behind the legs of a table in the foyer.  The other two dogs just watched Duchess, their look saying “You’re on your own with this.” 

I was now officially awake!  Once I was past the initial shock, it all made sense.  I guess for that to make sense to you, you’d have to know us to understand that the appearance of amphibians or reptiles in the house usually has a logical explanation.  We won’t discuss the cricket invasion….

Logical explanation or not, that didn’t mean that I was going to try and capture the frog.  I don’t do amphibians or reptiles.  For further clarification of this see my previous post,  https://dlkaufman.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/all-gods-creatures/

So, for help, I went to the number one frog source in the house, my oldest son.  Sure enough, it was a friend’s frog.  The questions rolled through my brain.  A friend’s frog? Since when had we started boarding other people’s amphibians?  Why was a friend’s frog loose in our house? 

Now, as the mother of four children, I’ve learned never to ask questions unless I really want to know the answer.  Considering the number of amphibians and reptiles (NO SNAKES) in my son’s room, I really didn’t want to know. 

I like to sleep at night. 

We did recapture the frog.  Or rather, my son did.  Duchess was out a new playmate, and the frog was safe once again.  It was better than caffeine. 

Sometimes life throws you something unexpected.  Like frogs at the front door.  Or jumping dogs. 

Me, I just knew there was a logical explanation.  I wish that was always my first reaction when life hands me more than frogs and jumping dogs.  Unfortunately, I don’t always know the big picture in life.   

And sometimes things more unexpected than a frog trying to make an exit occur.  

That’s when I have to go to the source of ALL things: escaping frogs, jumping dogs, unpredictable people, life’s challenges. ALL things.  I like it that God always has the big picture.  Jumping dogs are never a surprise to him.  Neither are the bigger things in life. 

Psalm 139:1-6

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.                                                         
 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
         You understand my thought afar off.
 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
         And are acquainted with all my ways.
 4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
         But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
 5 You have hedged me behind and before,
         And laid Your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
         It is high, I cannot attain it.
         

The Trees are Dancing

August 23, 2008

School starting brought about a new morning routine at my house.  I am out the door by a specific time every morning with my fourteen-year-old daughter and my five-year-old granddaughter.  I head for two different schools to drop them off.  Like everyone else, I play beat the clock.  Not just so we won’t be late, but so I miss the majority of the carpool mom traffic.  Every morning the routine is the same.  Make sure everyone has eaten, check to see that the five-year-old has shoes on, brush hair, check for bookbags, hustle everyone out the door and then drive the same route.  The thing about routines is that they are, well, routine.  I get in the car and just try to get it all done in a timely manner.  Little thought is required.  I’m in the zone. 

So, this morning, after we backed out of the garage and headed out the driveway, Kenzie, the five-year-old, began chattering.  All part of the routine.  One comment stuck in my head, but I didn’t process it until a few moments later. 

“The trees are dancing!” 

I really wasn’t listening much because my thoughts were on accomplishing the routine.  And, Kenzie is a chatterer.  She enjoys her own conversation.  Sometimes a reply isn’t necessary.  Often, she is off on an imaginative tale.  But, this morning, she gleefully said, “The trees are dancing.”  And, before I got out of the subdivision, I finally noticed how windy it was. 

Oh!  The trees were dancing.  I was so busy with my “getting things done mentality” that I wasn’t really paying attention to the world around me.  She was.

OOPS!  Definately not a “Stop and smell the roses” kind of morning for me.  But, the little one behind me in the car was noticing and enjoying what was happening in the world.  She didn’t care about the routine.  She was just experiencing life. 

I guess the lesson here is obvious.  Don’t just get through the day.  Enjoy the day.  I started paying attention to the movement of the leaves and the beauty of the trees dancing.  It really was fun to watch. 

It is so easy to lose the sense of wonder for God’s creation that we had as a child.  It’s also easy to lose the sense of wonder that we had for God himself.  That sense of wonder that we had when salvation was new and we were experiencing the all the wonders of a new relationship with God.   The older our relationship with God is, the more likely we lose some of the wonder, the awe, the newness.  Just like we need to stop and watch the trees dancing or the beauty of a sunset, we need to stop and enjoy the wonder of our relationship with God. 

So, take some time to enjoy what God has created.  The wind, a sunset, a glorious cloud formation.  But, don’t forget to renew the sense of wonder in your relationship with God.  Like a child.  Then it won’t be only the trees dancing!

Matthew 18:3

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Blind as a Bat

August 22, 2008

Today my Dear One took my for my thrice yearly eye doctor appointment.  Three times a year isn’t exactly normal for most people, but it is what my eyes now require after over twenty-five years of diabetes.  Every four months I go to the retina specialist to have my eyes checked for bleeds from diabetically weakened blook vessels (retinopathy) or a build up of fluid that could cause my retinas to detach.   

My report was a good one.  No new bleeding and pressures of fluid just slightly over normal.  So far, I’ve only had one bleed that was easily repaired through laser surgery.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such a lack of complications in this area. Blindness does not appeal to me.

That being said, I have just one complaint.  I leave the eye doctor half-blind.  Of course, why wouldn’t I be.  First they super-dialate me, then they shine a really bright light to illuminate the back of my eyeballs, and finally, they either take pictures of the backs of my eyeballs (more bright light) or have me watch bright patterns to test pressures.  I usually need not only my sunglasses, but their fashionable shades over them as well. 

It is many hours before I can see anything other than what is very close to me.  Ironic, isn’t it?  To save my eyesight, they temporarily blind me. 

A lot of things in life don’t make apparent sense to us that way.  It’s like vaccines or flu shots for example.  Inject a modified form of a disease to protect us from the real thing.  Basically, things don’t always work in ways that we would think they should. 

God is like that too.  Personally, I think he has a strong sense of irony.  Oh, and a sense of humor too!  Why else would he have made someone like Peter into not only his disciple, but a great evangelist.  Or the greatest persecutor of Christians in his time into the man who wrote the majority of the New Testament. 

I try to remember that when things don’t go the way I think they should.  God’s plan doesn’t always make sense in the ways that we expect.  But, it does always do the job. 

Any thing in your life not going the way you expect?  Then you should be wondering just what it is that God is up to for your good.

ACTS 9:11-16

And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,  And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting [his] hand on him, that he might receive his sight.  Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Spiritual Aerobics

August 18, 2008

For the last week, my Dear One and I have been working out together at a local health club.  Although I had been walking with friends, I knew that I needed more if I was ever going to really be back in shape.  My Dear One was also feeling motivated to build up his core strength since his life activity levels have changed.  So, off to the club we go for three workouts a week. 

The first part of day one wasn’t so bad.  We were learning how to use the machines and didn’t take on anything too challenging.  For the aerobic portion, the club had all the usual machines: ellipticals, bikes, stair climbers, etc.  They also offered a Zumba class, a Latin dance/aerobic class.   I suggested that we try it, and my Dear One, good sport that he is, agreed to join me.  I should mention that while standing outside the door waiting for class to start, he was making comments. Actually, it was the same comment repeatedly.  “This is going to be a disaster.”  You see, he has no background in dance.  None.  Nada.  And physical coordination, like for sports, has never been his strong suit.  Never. 

Surprisingly to him, he did well.  We both had a blast and plan to continue.  However, neither of us made it through the entire first workout.  We bailed a little over half way through with sheets of sweat pouring off of us.  Of course, what we are finding is that there are a lot of muscles that we haven’t used for a while.  After a week of working out, there are still some minor sore spots, but we see a slow change in our ability to get through a workout.  Muscles are like that.  They let you know that they haven’t been used.  And, amazingly, they repond to use and begin to do their job again. 

Spiritual muscles are the same way.  I’ve been asked to lead a Bible Study on the book of John by a group of about 6 young women.  After we found the study we wanted, I pulled out an older study Bible that I hadn’t used for a while.  I looked back over the extensive note-taking I had done in several places in this book and realized that my current, paltry reading schedule doesn’t compare to what I used to do.  Frankly, as far as actual study of the Word goes, I’m out of shape.  I don’t doubt that preparing for this study will be the equivalent of my first day back in something aerobic.  A lot of work, spiritual sweating, but easier after I get back into it.  Oh, and addictive too!

It’s easy to let all of our muscles slide into disuse, spiritual or physical.  What we need to remember is that it is possible to get back into shape.  Already, I see the benefits from the physical effort.  I have more energy, I don’t need that afternoon nap, and I get more done overall.  With that as an example, I can’t wait to see what the spiritual aerobics do for me!  Are you in your best spiritual  shape?  If not, start where you are, build up those muscles, and get that heart rate up!  And, report in.  Where are you reading/studying right now?

Acts 20:32

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Saving the TA-TA’s

August 12, 2008

A few months ago, a friend and coworker lost her battle after her third recurrence of breast cancer.  She was a wife, mother, foster parent, and committed Christian.  I don’t know the history of her disease since she rarely talked about it in any detail at all.  I do know that some types of cancer are more aggressive than others.  And, like most of you, I know that the earlier you catch any kind of cancer, the better chance you have.  What I didn’t know was that 1 out of every 8 of us ladies will get some form of breast cancer in our lifetime.  Really, I didn’t know that the numbers were so high until I read a brochure in the mammogram office today.   

I scheduled an overdue mammogram at a new center after seeing the ramifications of the disease in my friend’s life.  I have been way too casual about going well past the yearly requirement.  This is my story of taking more responsibility for myself.  it should be read with a sense of humor!

First of all, the staff didn’t seem to know that this was any big deal.  I arrived at 8:23 for an 8:30 appointment.  After all, don’t you normally go a little early for paperwork?  Apparently not.  The lights were on, but the door was locked.  I knocked several times.  At 8:31, a young woman came to the door (I could see her through the sidelights) in answer, I thought, to my knock.  She inserted a key, unlocked the door and scrurried back quickly to get behind the reception glass!  I guess I thought that she would actually open the door after leaving me knocking for seven minutes.  Silly me.  Okay, so I got over it.  At least, I thought, she’s just the receptionist.  It could be worse, she could be doing my mammogram. 

Guess what? No, I’m not kidding.   

Okay, so I hear the spiel about undressing from the waist up, putting on the gown so it opens in the front, and wiping off any deodorant.  I’m not excited.  After all, who wants to go have their boobs squashed flat?  Of course it was really fun when she helped me position myself by handling the girls like they were an uncooked meatloaf that she could shape to her desire. (Note to my dear one, the techniques are not to be emulated….) Then, before each of the four films to be made, she would say “Hold your breath.”   I’m pretty sure I set some sort of breath-holding record since I started as soon as she lowered the top plate using the “squash it like a pancake” setting.  The pain caused me to do it automatically.  What can I say.  Unfortunately, I’m not an “A” cup!  But, apparently can hold my breath for quite awhile.  I wonder if that’s an Olympic event???

I had to wait a couple of minutes while she made sure the films were adequate.  That was when I got the entertainment part of the visit.  Someone in the office was thoughtful enough to make fun of a patient’s phone conversation with them at the top of their lungs.  That allowed me, down the hall and behind a closed door, to hear it without straining.  The woman imitated a very country dialect and mocked the woman’s ignorance.  I now know how long it was since HER last mammogram.  So much for HIPPA.  And yes, I did say something to my receptionist/mammographer when she returned.  “OH, my….” was her reply.   I’m thinking about going to a different office next year….

In the long run, I was in and out in about 15 minutes.  Wow!  Fifteen minutes once a year, and only five of those minutes are actually uncomfortable.  Fifteen minutes and a procedure that could save my life.  Ladies, if you are over forty OR have a family history of breast cancer, have you had your annual mammogram? 

 Proverbs 18:9 Amplified Version  ….he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is brother to him who commits suicide.

A House Divided

August 11, 2008

I live in a divided house right now.  Of course in one way, we’ve been a divided house since my first-born went to college.  She went to UGA and my dear one took some classes at GaTech.  Every fall, they have a standing appointment to watch the annual game together.  And, every year, my dear one suffers the razzing of his daughter when his team goes down in flames.  At times like that the comparison of team IQ’s doesn’t help. 

I wish our division related to football.  Instead, it involves a major family decision.  You know, the ones you don’t make unless you are in agreement?  The funny thing is that I thought we were on the same page.  So did he!  Until it became obvious that we weren’t. 

Families are such an amazing thing.  We’re all different, but we all function best the same way: in unity.  It became apparent in our discussion that we really weren’t that far apart, but even the smallest gap meant that we weren’t in agreement. 

No agreement. No action. 

Now, you should understand that none of this means that the two of us are fighting or in strife.  We just aren’t in the same place.  We have a different thought process, different emotional needs, and different perspectives.   

We are in agreement not to let this divide us.  I know that sounds like a contradiction, but I guess it’s like agreeing to disagree. 

It’s hard not to argue when you don’t agree.  But, what I’ve decided to do is trust that God knows what He is doing and to stay open to hearing from His Spirit.  If either one of us is in error,God will reveal that.  Or if one of us is out of God’s timing, He’ll reveal that too.  I have no doubt of my dear one’s ability to hear from God or his willingness.  In the meantime, we keep the rest of our relationship in harmony.  It’s not important that one of us gets our way.  What is important is the power of unity in a relationship.  Unity keeps us out of trouble, confirms God’s will in our life, and provides a powerful blessing.  Stay in unity, even when it’s hard.  Oh, and “GO TECH, GO DAWGS, or ROLL TIDE, ” whichever is important to you!

Psalm 133: 1-3

Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!  [It is] like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, [even] Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, [and as the dew] that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, [even] life for evermore.

Dreams Revived

August 10, 2008

For the last day-and-a-half, I have been at the “Extraordinary Women’s Conference” in my town.  I went very reluctantly.  It was promoted in my church for at least a month beforehand.  But, I would pick up the brochures and just have no interest whatsoever.

My Dear One said “You should go.”  So, I would pick up the brochure again, look it over, and register no interest whatsoever.

The friend who was promoting it at church would ask me again saying that she still had the inexpensive version of the tickets.  So, I would pick up the brochure again, look it over, and register no interest whatsoever.

It got closer to time.  My Dear One said, “You should go.”  So, I would pick up the brochure again, look it over, and register no interest whatsoever.

I know, you get the drift.  I really couldn’t have been less interested.  Finally, my Dear One mentioned that a friend of ours was coming in from several states away and was going to the conference.  I perked up.  I still didn’t care about the conference, but I did care about getting to spend some time with her.  And, if I had to go to the conference to do so, I decided it was worth it.  So, I finally bought a ticket.

A couple of days before the conference, our friend turned back in her travels and headed back to her home to deal with her dear one’s medical needs. 

Crap! Now I’d spent the money and felt obligated to go.  A group of us had made dinner and car pool plans.  Guess who was supposed to be the driver….

I couldn’t think of a way to back out gracefully.  Therefore, I went.  I really wasn’t expecting much.  But God is always full of surprises. 

I can’t describe the stories the speakers told.   It would take way too long.  Suffice it to say, GO to one if it comes to your town.  Here are two things I got out of it.  I’ll share more another time.  

 1. God isn’t finished with me.  I need to keep dreaming and expecting God to move in my life.  One of my dreams has always centered around orphans and relief work.  While I was at the conference my husband and I agreed to sponsor a 16 yr. old boy from Uganda.  I even talked to the World Help people with thoughts of being involved more than just sponsoring.  I believe that God isn’t through with my dreams to help orphans.  Psalm 138:8  The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

2. My tragedies and upsets are no surprise to God.  They don’t even derail HIS plan.  But it may mean that what I pray and believe for comes a different way than what I expected.  As a minor part of a bigger upset, I recently felt it necessary to stop singing on the praise team at my church.  I really felt like I had no other right choice to make because of some personal circumstances.  Singing on that team and being a part of the impact of praise on the body really meant a lot to me.  Way more than I know how to convey.  I had wanted to do it for years.  When I finally asked, it was okayed, but it was almost another year before I could because I had lost my singing voice to four months of pertussis.  When I finally got up there, I knew it was God.  All nervousness and fear were gone and in their place was a confidence and joy that is indescribable.  And now, because of circumstances, I saw that dream derailed.  I have grieved that tremendously.  Now, I can believe that this is just a bump on the road.  God will give me other opportunities in other places to exercise the gift He has given me.  I’m looking and expecting God’s plan to come through on that one. 

Isaiah 43:19  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert.

Have you had a dream derailed?  Or worse, have you stopped dreaming?  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  God is speaking of how even Babylonian captivity won’t derail his plans for his people.  The scripture goes on to say in verses 12-14, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me.  When you seek me with all your heart.”  

Honestly, I really had no interest whatsoever in going.  I couldn’t have dreamed what God had in store for me!

Don’t stop dreaming.  Phillipians 1:6 reassures us …that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.  Maybe your dream has just taken another, better path. 

What are you dreaming?

Wedding Photo

August 8, 2008

My older daughter sent me this great shot of the wedding.  It actually has all our clan except for her son who refused to be in the photo.  It was such a nice reminder of a lovely day that I thought I would share it.   I’ve included my favotite one of my grandson too, just for fun. 

I

I had really hoped that we’d all get through the first week of school without any major incidents.  We weren’t so lucky. 

My beautiful granddaughter, age five, is a bright child who reads Harry Potter, plays the violin, knows number places that include the ones, tens, and hundreds, and can tell you about the Mars Rover in detail.  She was born with a physical disability known as a cloacal anomaly, a problem that occurs in 1 in every 20,000 or more live births.  Of all the variations of this, hers is one of the worst.  It is considered one of the most difficult pediatric surgical challenges to correct.  Her surgical history is too much to explain here in a short post.  But, as a result of these procedures, she does not yet have urinary or bowel continence.  As a temporary measure, her parents use large Pull-Ups to deal with this situation.  As you can imagine, they worried about how well she would be accepted in public schools. 

On the one hand, they didn’t have to worry.  Her teacher, principal, school nurse, and the staff are wonderful.  They love her already and she is thrilled to be there.  I can’t say enough about how supportive her teacher has been so far. 

On the other hand, the after-school program, a separately run program that is on-site at her school didn’t do so well.  I picked her up after her first day.  I am amazed that her clothes weren’t soaked since that was one of the wettest Pull-Ups I have ever held.  They didn’t change her.  They admitted that they didn’t check.  They admitted that they were told how to do it by her teacher when she brought her to after-school.  I changed her in front of them to reassure them that, while her anatomy may not look normal, there is hardly any difference in the process of changing her.  They assured me that there would be no problem and responded in detail as to how they would and could handle this need.  They seemed positive and enthusiastic. 

Day two.  Her mother received a call while on her way to pick her up.  She was told that her child could no longer attend after-school since she had a medical problem.  They were okay with Pull-Ups, just not with the “medical problem.”  When she arrived, she discovered that her child was waddling from the pain of being kept in a feces-laden diaper for the two hours she had been there.   She had told her caretakers that she needed to be changed.  When her mother arrived, the two caretakers were sitting at a table talking with only her daughter and one other child present.  She was immediately informed that her child would need to be changed….

She was livid.  My granddaughter had dried feces on her bottom and a severely swollen and bleeding rectum from being unchanged.  It will take a few days for her to return to normal.  We can expect her to cry with every bowel movement until it does. 

So far, we only get lame excuses.  They weren’t comfortable!  THEY had my personal number and the assurance that if there was any problem I would come.  THEY chose to let her sit in feces instead.  Their superiors aren’t any more helpful. 

So, what do you think.  Is this neglect or abuse?  We could turn the other cheek, but, in my granddaughter’s case, both “cheeks” are already involved.