Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A well-timed blessing

Our littlest member of the Jones family is four months old already. I'm overwhelmed at what a blessing he's been in our lives in such a short time. The Lord knew back in August 2008 when he placed little D inside me that I would need some joy in my life come May of 2009. His timing was perfect.

My Dad died suddenly and unexpectedly just 9 days before D's due date, two weeks before he was born. I was very close to my Dad and was crushed by his loss. It hasn't been easy adjusting to him being gone, but having little D in our lives has certainly helped.

Sweet little D has been such a balm to my sore soul, and to my Mom's. As the Lord was knitting him together in my womb, He wove in extra measures of grace and happiness. He knew we'd need that in our lives right now. I've never seen a baby who smiles as much or as easily as D does. It's impossible not to smile back at him, however I'm feeling.

I'm sorry that my Dad never got to meet this grandson. I know he would have really enjoyed him. Papa loved all of his grandchildren dearly, and enjoyed them all immensely. But I think he and D could have had a special bond. The two of them are a lot a like. D is so much more mellow and even-tempered than his older siblings, much like his Papa. I'm hard pressed to think of a time in my Dad's life when he ever lost his cool. Certainly there were times when he was provoked, but he always kept himself under control. Little D's like that - he just rolls with the punches. (Sometimes fairly literally!)

I see other bits of my Dad in D's little personality already. Nothing pleased my Dad more than doing things for others - D seems to be the same way. I always feel a sense of pride when someone comes up to talk to him. I know that without fail, he's going to give them the brightest smile they've ever seen, and they'll go away with a smile on their face as well.

There's definitely a sadness in my heart over my loss. But there's a sweetness at the same time. Babies are often referred to as a "bundle of joy." Few live up to that label as well as this little guy. We love you, D!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why doesn't she just leave him?

You frequently hear that question asked about women who are victims of domestic abuse. If it were really that simple, she would.

Today there was a tragically vivid example of how it's not that easy. Patricia Williams was shot to death by her husband in the parking lot of the Canton Public Library in Michigan. You can read about it here.

The woman was a Detroit police officer for 15 years. She was without a doubt far better equipped to defend herself against violence than the average woman is. And yet, she was murdered by her husband in broad daylight in a public place. It's not that easy to get away from an abusive spouse.

Why didn't she go to the police for help? Well, she had. Repeatedly. As recently as last weekend, she had reported her husband's abuse to police, yet he remained in her home and he remained armed. Why didn't her calls for help result in any protection for her?

Not only had she gone to the police, she was en route to the police when this happened. According to reports, she had left home and was on her way to the Canton police department to report another assault. Somehow he intercepted her before she made it there and murdered her.

It's not that easy to leave. Statistics show that a third of women who are murdered in the U.S. are killed by their partners. In Michigan another woman is murdered by her husband or boyfriend every 5 days.

Unfortunately, too many women who in violent situations seem to have limited choices: stay and endure the abuse, try to leave and risk having the abuse escalate, or defend herself and be labeled a criminal. There are, unfortunately, many women in our prisons for defending themselves against husbands or boyfriends who were trying to kill them. They didn't end up like Patricia Williams, but they're not much better off. This needs to stop! Our society should start treating domestic violence like the crime that it is, support the women and children who are victimized by it, and give them a viable way of escaping the violence. Then, maybe, tragedies like today's will be less common.

Baucus Proposal

In case you're interested, here is the response to the latest Senate health care reform proposal from the American College of Surgeons along with approximately 20 other surgical organizations.

Letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus

There are several concerns raised in the letter, including:

In 2011, without further legislation to correct the problem, physician payments from Medicare would be cut by 25%. If that were to happen we would see immediate, massive non-participation by physicians in Medicare. Few if any practices could afford to keep the doors of their practices open long with a 25% reduction in income. That in turn would result in severely restricted access to care for Medicare patients.

The creation of a Medicare commission would remove oversight of the program from Congress and give it to unelected, unaccountable individuals who could conduct business with uncertain transparency.

The PQRI is essentially an unfunded mandate on physicians. It's one thing to provide quality care routinely. It's another thing to have to document that care for each patient and submit separate reports to the government in order to receive payment for that care. It requires a great deal of time and paperwork, which is why few doctors have participated in the program to date. It's not that they aren't doing the things the program requires. It's that it is not worth the time and expense required to earn the small "bonuses" that are currently paid out. With this bill, the program becomes mandatory and rather than paying extra for those who meet the standards, it penalizes those who do not. The entire cost of participation will therefore be borne by physicians.

This bill does nothing to address tort reform, which is a major factor in controlling the escalating cost of medical care in this country.

It concludes with ideas for real reform which will address the issues of availability, cost containment, and continued improvement in quality.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You've got mail!

So, Chris Tomlin never responded to my open letter, but Steve Green responded to my daughter's email rather promptly. H and I wrote to him on Saturday. He wrote back today. No, really, Steve Green himself wrote an email to my 3 year old daughter.


You see, H really, really wanted to send Mr. Green a message this weekend. (Mr. Green, not Steve Green - because when you're 3 you shouldn't be on a first name basis with grown ups. Even famous ones. I'm old fashioned like that.) Actually, what she really wants is for him to come over and play with her. And to read books. And to stay all day until she has to go to bed.

Let me back up. . .

Several years ago, we got the Hide 'Em In Your Heart DVDs from Steve Green Ministries. They're various Scripture verses put to music. The accompanying videos show Steve singing the songs with groups of children. Hannah loves these videos. Really loves them. She begs to watch "Bible Songs," as she calls them. And, well, if my child is going to be glued to a video, I'd just as soon it be these.

When she was about 18 months old, she started getting her Bible and crawling into our bed to read. Sometimes it was actually a Bible, more often it was hymnbook (which when you're pre-literate, looks quite similar to a Bible, and was always sitting on the piano where she could reach it easily). It took us a while to figure out where this came from. We finally realized she was imitating one of the little girls in the video "When I am afraid I will trust in You." There was a storm at night and she reads her Bible for comfort. For her second birthday, Uncle Eddie and Aunt Suzi got H a real Bible. A great big one, just like in the video. She likes to sleep with it now.

H would very much like to be in the next children's DVD that Mr. Green makes. She's not looking for fame or anything. She just likes to sing, and sees those other kids having a good time, and thinks that Mr. Green is a really nice man. She would totally be good at it - if he ever does make another one, he should invite her.

Over time, her tastes have broadened slightly. She's become fond of some of Mr. Green's grown-up songs. I have one of his old CDs on my ipod. She loves to hear "Household of Faith" (aka, "Mr. Green and Mrs. Green's duet"), "Embrace the Cross" (aka, "Mr. Green's duet" because through the miracle of mixing, he actually sings a duet with himself in that song), and "Find us Faithful" (aka "That Faithful Song"). We could take a 30 minute trip and she'd just want me to play That Faithful Song over and over the whole way.

Since she enjoys his music so much, it's only natural that he come over and play with her sometime. That's been her latest hang-up. She makes me feel like a bad mom for not letting him come. I try to explain that he lives a long way away and is a very busy man. She's certain that he would come over if I would just let him. So this weekend when she was begging to send him a message, we did. We went to his website and found the "contact us" page. I asked her what she wanted to say and she said, "Thank you." I added a little bit more, telling him how much she enjoyed his music.

I forgot about it after that until today. This morning I had a message in my inbox from "SGM." I thought it was spam and almost deleted it. Instead it was a very nice response from an assistant at Steve Green Ministries. She wrote several paragraphs and told H that she would forward her email to Steve, but couldn't promise that he would have time to respond personally since he gets so many emails. Well, just a few hours later, he did! It was only a couple of sentences, but it was awfully nice. He explained that it would be fun to come visit, but since he lives so far away he can't right now.

How sweet is that?! A very busy, award-winning, internationally known singer takes the time to answer email from a preschooler. When he sings, "Let the Little Children Come," he takes it to heart. I think that shows a lot of class!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Practical Theology

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

"Seek God's face. Understand His character. Pursue knowledge of Him, for apart from the 'fear of the Lord' and 'the knowledge of the Holy One' we have no hope for being a wise mother, sister, wife, or friend."

--Wendy Horger Alsup, Practical Theology for Women, How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Random thoughts about our day

Today was my first really light day since I've been back to work. I was able to be home by 10:00! We gave Grandma the day off - a much deserved day to herself.

I had hoped to be really productive around home, but felt paralyzed by the sheer volume of things that need to be done around here. I never seem to catch up. I did manage to accomplish a few things. I now have one seriously clean bathroom. And, well, another bathroom that I'd rather not talk about today. I got two loads of laundry nearly done (prompted by one explosive diaper and two muddy kids). Maybe I'll get around to putting them away tomorrow.

I let the kids watch an episode of Tom and Jerry this morning while I did some work in J's room. My work in his room always involves a big trash bag. I can't get away with that while he's around. I find it very gratifying to fill up the trash with clutter from our house, but the kids find it traumatic. I like to spare them the agony by doing it when they're not looking. They rarely ever miss anything I've pitched, and it makes it easier for them to find the things they actually use.

D wore a darling little teddy bear outfit today. He looked adorable in it. It also turns out that brown is a very practical color for him to wear, if you know what I mean. I wish I'd gotten a picture of him in it.

The kids and I went on an adventure in the woods behind our house. We have a great yard for kids: trees and water and mud and a playhouse. I remember having a little grove of trees in the backyard where we lived until just before my 5th birthday. It probably didn't look like much to the adults around, but my brother and I thought it was a great "jungle" to play in. I think my children will have happy memories of our back yard too.

We encountered a little wild life while we were out and about. J called out of the playhouse, "Hey, Mom, there's a mouse in here."

"A live one?" I inquired.

"Yes, come up here and see him."

"Uh, no thanks." I felt like quoting John 14:9 "Don't you know me? Even after I've been among you for such a long time?" Do I strike him as the sort of person who would intentionally go into a small enclosed space with a rodent? I don't think so. Thirty years ago, maybe, but not anymore.

Later we found a praying mantis in the flower bed. He was eating some sort of beetle. It was pretty educational and entertaining for all of us. Particularly since we recently watched, "Milo, the Mantis who Wouldn't Pray." Now H knows that they don't actually live in snack shacks and serve ice cream to other insects.

I finished the day up with a trip back to the hospital to see someone with a sick gallbladder. It was well-timed just after the kids were all tucked in for the night.

I'm going to go tuck myself in now and pray that D and my pager let me get some sleep. Good night!