Sunday Morning Coffee: Teaching

One of the highlights of my  present life is that I get to teach a group of high school kids every other week.  These are homeschoolers, outstanding kids who are respectful and actually interested in what we are studying.  Because I taught in a small Christian school years ago,  where there isn’t much money and you have to be versatile, I got to teach a variety of things.  English, of course, and  history, as well as earth science, elementary music, and Bible.

This year, my students asked for a course that would be something about current events, present-day politics.  Oh boy!  I was more than glad to oblige.  This year we’re studying the Constitution and Current Events.  It’s been so much fun, and not stuffy, dull, boring the way I’m sure some of them thought it would be.Image result for The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution is an amazing document.  I’ve been deeply impressed every time I’ve gone through it, and this time is no exception. I am impressed with the wisdom and foresight of the writers, who created a document than can grow and change, but not too easily.  It is elastic enough to accommodate idealogical changes, but not to lose it’s original intent and power.

Aside from the content, though, I just take great delight in my students. They contribute. They ask questions. They correct me if they think I’ve made an error, but they are never disrespectful. They  look forward to the class, and because they do, so do I.  We have a great time.

It is wonderful to have this opportunity at the ripe old age of 71.   My age is not an issue, but an advantage.  It amazes my students  that I was born only two years after WWII was over, and that I remember the assassinations of the Kennedys, Viet Nam,  and so on. This stuff is ancient history to them, but for me it’s just as real now as it was when it was all taking place. Sometimes I’ll say something that gets me nothing but blank stares, and I realize that they’ve never heard the expression before, or don’t know the story behind the story.

Best of all, I can weave God into the history of our nation and no one is offended by it; no one reports such a heinous act to the authorities or tries to get me fired.  These kids have had  a Christian education.  Their teachers, usually their moms, have done a fabulous job.

I am thankful.

Sunday Morning Coffee on Saturday Night

I do not have any pain in my back.  I have no pain in my legs, none in my hip.  It’s gone, like magic. I’m going to church tomorrow for the first time in over two months!

My pain specialist, Dr. Loew (pronounced Love)  administered  the injections I needed on Thursday morning.  I was a bit nervous this time, because the pain is coming from the sacrum.  That’s the little triangular set of five small bones that ends in the tailbone.  If you’ve ever fallen on your tailbone, you know that the pain radiates out and lingers for a long, long time.

As he swabbed my back and began to administer the numbing medication (for which I am extremely thankful) he was also checking out the scars from the sacroiliac fusions I had done in 2017.  The doctor who performed those surgeries has an office across the waiting area.  He’s a neurosurgeon, and had a lot to do with developing the SI Joint procedure.  I told Dr. Loew that I had told my surgeon that he was my favorite guy, after my husband and sons.  There was a moment of silence, and then Dr. L said, “Well, where do I come in that line-up?”

“I don’t know,” I replied.  “I haven’t seen you in almost two years.  I guess you’re going to have to earn you place back.”

“Well, we’ll see about that.  I have a feeling I’m going to get my spot back.”

And then he said, “Okay, a pinch, some pressure, and then you’re going to feel it down the back of your leg.  Hang on, this is a big load of medicine.  Ready?”

What could I say?

It’s hard to describe the feeling.  Again, I’m very thankful for the numbing medication.  I have a feeling I’d have been screaming without it.  The pinch isn’t bad, and the pressure wasn’t either, but then he said, “Okay, here we go.  You all right?”

“Uhuh.” And that has to be the absolutely weirdest thing I have ever felt. It was one of the only times in my memory that I’ve been glad to have such short legs.  It felt very warm, traveled down whatever nerve goes there, and had me curling my toes and holding on to the table for dear life.

The removal of that needle was such a relief!

“Can I see it?  The needle?  I didn’t want to look before you put it in.”

Yeah, it was pretty big–long, and the part that held the medicine was quite roomy.

But you know, I was already feeling it taking effect.  I was able to get off the table without any help, got my flip flops on, walked out to the recovery room with no assistance. They keep you for a little bit to make sure you’re not going to faint.  Cranberry juice helped  with that. They take your BP again, and then you get the instructions for after-care and sign a bunch of papers, and off you go.

The relief I’m feeling is amazing.  No pain, after several weeks of waiting, having the appointment postponed for three weeks, not sleeping well, not being able to work or go to church—and in about 15 minutes, it’s all gone.

I don’t know how long it will last.  The other shots I’ve had usually kept me comfortable for about 8-10 months.

There isn’t a cure for what’s going on in my back.  Degenerative joint disease is an arthritic condition. Stenosis is crumbling bone that squeezes nerves, and the nerves aren’t shy about hollering and pitching a fit.  I am well aware that there will be more treatments, and that at some point I will have to depend on my walker and my cane all the time. My two herniations haven’t changed much, so that’s a good thing.  I do have a new place about mid-thorax that is showing some degeneration, but so far there’s no real pain.  Just some numbness now and then, like your foot feels when it’s gone to sleep.

Well, this has become lengthy, and I need to stop.  I do want to mention, though, that I’ve been watching the situation in Turkey with  Pastor Brunson, who is home here in the States now and reunited with his family.  Not much has been said, but I’m fairly certain he was mistreated, perhaps beaten and tortured.  We’ve been praying for him, and we are rejoicing  that he has been freed.  Why do I bring this up?  Well, because it’s so easy to think your own situation is the worst in the world and that your pain is unusually difficult.

I certainly wasn’t having fun for the last couple of months or more, but I was well-fed, had a comfortable bed, had people caring for my needs and just stopping in to say hello. My life was never in danger, and I was not separated from my husband and family.

I’m not ashamed to admit that depression was trying to coil around my mind and my heart, but I recognized it pretty quickly and it didn’t get a grip.  I can’t imagine being in the situation Pastor Brunson was in, not knowing at any given time what was going to happen next.  I have prayed that depression would not lodge in his mind and heart, because it’s very easy for that to happen when your life seems out of your control completely.

The answer, of course, is to turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Simple Obedience

Proverbs 7: 1-5,

 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

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Proverbs 7 is the “Strange Woman” chapter. Verses 5-27 detail what this strange woman is like. It describes her behavior as being loud and stubborn, and spending her time not keeping her home, but walking the streets and tempting foolish young men.  The last verse says that her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

None of that has to happen, though. Verses one through five are clear instructions for how to avoid the strange woman.  In a short statement:  Obey God’s law.  That’s it. No twelve-step programs, no lengthy counseling sessions.  Simply obey God’s Word.

Of course, if you’re going to obey God’s Word, you have to know  God’s Word.  It needs to be a part of your daily walk. We are to keep it as the “apple” of our eyes.

That’s an interesting phrase, “apple of the eye.”  It means something that is cherished with the greatest regard. It originally referred to the pupil of the eye, which was supposed to have been a globular solid body, much like an apple. As precious as this part of the eye is to seeing, and as all objects are beheld through this aperture, the expression means something very precious.

Is God’s Word precious to you?  To all of us who call ourselves Christians?  How much of our thinking is influenced by His Word?  Are our lives truly founded in Him, and in His Words?
Psalm 119: 11. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”

Psalm 119: 105.  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Let it be so.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Rage

Proverbs 29:11

 “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”

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I have learned (am learning), to my deep regret, that saying exactly what you think is not always such a good idea.

Granted, there are times when you need to do so.  Rare, but they do exist.   But if what you are expressing is nothing more than anger vented all over everyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the direct path of your eruption, then, God says you are a fool.

A stupid person.

A silly person who has no sense and cannot control himself.

And you don’t even know that everyone wishes you would just stop.  Just sit down and be quiet.  You embarrass yourself; you embarrass the people who care about you.

“But I’m RIGHT!” you may say.  And maybe you are. But in your anger and venting all over the place, you have won no one to your cause.  You have alienated people who might have been swayed by a calm conversation instead of a furious, red-faced, vein-bulging rant.

I do a lot of marital counseling.  There is usually one partner, sometimes both, who constantly vents rage; who constantly insists he/she is right; who cannot accept  being contradicted, and who must, MUST have the last word.

Love dies under those conditions.  It may take a long time, but eventually there’s just nothing left but the ashes of what was once a fire of new love and passion.

There is a reason that people who have been married 40 years or more split up.  One or the other of them just can’t tolerated another day of being locked in conflict with a rage-aholic. Couples who have been married that long rarely divorce over adultery.  It’s far more likely that one or the other of them just can’t take it any more.

I am learning that if I choose to contain my words for at least 24 hours, they probably won’t need to be spoken at all.  And I haven’t poured scorching fire all over anyone’s head.

Even when I really must speak up, I’m learning to do it with tact and a calm approach.

It just works better.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Instruction and Knowledge

Proverbs 23:12. “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.”

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Do you remember, when you were little, thinking that once you were an adult you would understand everything, and have all the answers to the questions of life?  You would be sure of yourself, confident, always know what the right decision is.  There would never again be a problem you couldn’t solve.

Alas, what I’ve learned is that the only time all that will be true is  when God takes me home to heaven.  Why? Well, because I’m human, and therefore prone to error, as are all of us.  Even my dad,  which was very hard for me to accept the first time I was with him and he got lost.  I’ve told that story here, written six years ago for Father’s Day.

Sometimes my human fallibility is problematic.  I’m a professional counselor, or more grandly, a psychotherapist.  My clients come to me expecting me to have the answers that will magically make their lives better.  That almost never happens, because change is a process, not an event. And, of course, because I don’t have all the answers all the time. Also because when I do know the answers, my clients don’t always like them.  It’s not unusual for my clients to want me to fix everyone else, not believing that change needs to come from them as well as from the other people in their lives.

The one time I’m sure beyond a shadow of a doubt is when the clear answers come from the wisdom in God’s Word.  That is the most important source of knowledge and wisdom I use in my counseling office. Instruction and knowledge come from God.

And He does know all the answers, all the time.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Happenings

It’s been an unusual week for us.  First, we got a new (to us) car.  Terry has been searching for  several weeks, finally found the right car at the right price.  And it’s a honey 🙂  Drives like a dream.  I’ve been driving an ’01 Volvo, which is also a very good car, but  it’s more than showing its age and Terry has been concerned that it will be an ongoing  repair problem.  The new(er) car is an ’09, and could very well be the last car we buy.

Second, I’ve really been struggling with my back.  The pain is no laughing matter, and I’m  unable to work. Again.  But the strangest thing is happening.  We’re not getting my usual income, and we just bought this car.  But just like the story of the woman who kept filling jars with oil and never running out (II Kings 4), our checkbook balance stays just about the same.  That, my friends, is the miraculous grace of God , Who has promised that He will supply all our need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).

Isn’t it a little bit crass to talk about money?  No, not when it is a source of blessing and a part of God’s abundant grace.  Now, I can think of instances in which someone gets up in prayer meeting and gives a “testimony” stating exactly how much money he needs by next week to pay off his semester school bill, and then the next week the same person stands up and tearfully says it’s just a miracle, he doesn’t know how it happened, but he got a check for THE EXACT amount he needed!  Really? Yes, someone was kindhearted and was used of God to supply that need, but I’d be more impressed if the guy had just prayed privately that his need would be supplied, and there it was!  You see what I mean?  For me, the joy is in seeing God meet our needs when we haven’t told anyone at all.  And I don’t think it’s a bad thing to talk about how God meets our needs.  I think it’s exciting!

I finally got the go-ahead to schedule the steroid shots that have worked well for me before.  The first one will be this coming Friday, and the second is in early October.  I’m so thankful to know relief is on its way.

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Finally, I’m writing this from a Bed&Breakfast not too far from where we live.  I’ve been here since Friday evening, and will go home tomorrow.  This stay has been a birthday gift from my son and daughter-in-law in Germany.  It’s been designated as my “writer’s weekend” because it’s hard for me to get uninterrupted time at home just for writing.  I can do it in small doses, like this blog post, but I find it difficult to keep my train of thought going in the right direction when the phone is ringing, or Terry needs me, or the next load needs to go into the washer.  It’s just distracting.  Last night and today, I churned out 30 pages!

One more thing.  I’m out in the country, where one expects various insects to find a way into the house.  I must have killed a dozen or more flies in the last 24+ hours, but it does seem that for every single one I kill, two pop up to takes its place.  Seriously, I hate flies.  And there’s another one that’s about to lose it’s life.

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Someone has said that Noah was a very brave man to  spend so  much time in a wooden boat and a rapidly expanding  family of termites. I wonder if they had a fly problem, too.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Bits and Pieces

I’m doing some free thought-association on this one.  There’s been a lot going on, some good, some not so good.  Let’s get the not-so-good out of the way first.

It’s been four Sundays since I was able to make it to church.  I’m afraid tomorrow is going to make it five.  The pain has ramped up this week, and Terry took me to the ER this morning, looking for some way to ease it.  My pain doctor is supposed to call me so we can make an appointment for a round of cortisone shots, but he hasn’t done so yet.  I’m going to call on Monday morning and do a little pleading, I think. The ER doctor didn’t want to increase my oral meds, since I’m supposedly going to see the pain specialist very soon.  He suggested a Lidocain patch, or the one called Salon Pas.  They put one on the affected areas, and it did give me some relief.  So the saga of Old Woman’s Back continues.

Better news:  We’ve been looking for a car to replace our 2001 Volvo.  It’s looking its age, and Terry knows that keeping it would just be endless repairs at this point.  It’s been a good car, though.  Well, today he finally made a decision after hours and hours of searching online.  He drove to another town to look at the car, and he actually bought it!  This is wonderful news for a guy who manages to talk himself out of almost everything 🙂 I haven’t seen it yet.  He left it with the dealer to be inspected, and we’ll pick it up on Monday.   So that’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing the car and learning a whole bunch of new stuff. This one has a lot more electronic doodads than our Volvo.  The owner’s manual is very thick.

Another good thing:  Friday was the first day of the homeschool co-op our church hosts.  This year, I get to teach a class called The Constitution and Current Events.   I was in quite a bit of pain, but I just couldn’t let these kids down.  They asked for this class last year, and most are very enthusiastic about it. The only down side is that I’ve been in bed most of the time since I got home from that really fun class.  Hoping to be pain-free in two weeks when we meet again.

Best yet:  The road work that started in early July is finished!  Yay!  They put in storm sewers and curbing, and repaved the road. They put down topsoil everywhere someone’s yard was dug up, and planted grass seed, put down hay–and the Lord even decided to send us a nice, gentle rain last night, perfect to get the grass established. The whole project has  been a bit inconvenient, but the crew worked with all of us to let us get in and out for whatever we needed to do.  They were friendly, efficient, and considerate, even through some of the hottest weather of the summer.

Finally,  a passage  from Proverbs that I love: Proverbs 9: 7-10.

He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

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