Another test

I don’t often hear from my brothers. It’s not because we are at odds, but we’re not the call-you-up-just-to-chat types, I guess. So when I saw his name and number on my phone today, I couldn’t help it: I thought the worst, and the worst has something to do with either my mom or my dad. It was dad. Mike said he was at the hospital with Dad and they suspected he’d had a stroke. When my parents were getting ready to leave their house earlier that morning, my Dad started acting strangely. He came back in the house and called my mom out to see what someone had done to their garage. He couldn’t figure out who would have painted it and messed all his stuff up. In truth, they had just finished repainting it themselves a week or two earlier, and he had just finished reorganizing his garage treasures. Understandably, my mom was concerned and asked him a few more questions that he couldn’t answer. He wasn’t disoriented; he just couldn’t remember what he’d eaten for dinner the night before (or breakfast, for that matter) and other questions Mom asked him. She called his doctor and they went over to see him. The doc checked him out and sent him to the hospital. Physically, aside from having a little trouble getting into the car, he seemed OK.

The rest of the day consisted of a CAT scan and many other tests, all which came back negative for a stroke. Still, he couldn’t remember anything from earlier in the day and kept asking Mom and my brothers why he was in the hospital. After I talked with Tom (the ‘resident’ doc in the family, har har) he said they thought Dad was suffering from TIA, or Transient Ischemic Attack. From what I read online, a “TIA is a ‘warning stroke’ or ‘mini-stroke’ that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke.

Most strokes aren’t preceded by TIAs. However, of the people who’ve had one or more TIAs, more than a third will later have a stroke. In fact, a person who’s had one or more TIAs is more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn’t.

TIAs are important in predicting if a stroke will occur rather than when one will happen. They can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke. In about half the cases, the stroke occurs within one year of the TIA.

TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn’t get the blood it needs. The symptoms occur rapidly and last a relatively short time. Most TIAs last less than five minutes. The average is about a minute. Unlike stroke, when a TIA is over, there’s no injury to the brain.” (I took this from

For now, he’s going to stay in the hospital so they can run some more tests, including a neurological exam and a carotid doppler test (which probably has a more technical name). No one really knew what the course of treatment, if any, would be. Hopefully, he can sleep tonight and so can my mom. I pray for her peace, as they do everything together and even spending the night apart will probably be hard for her–and him.

My dad called me this evening and I talked to him for about ten minutes. It sounded like him, and he was talking just like himself. He even said, “Well, I knew the CAT scan would be negative because there’s nothing up there anyway!” which is just like him. But he couldn’t remember anything that had happened that day at all, including his trip to the docs or how he’d gotten to the hospital. It was just gone. (When he was asked questions earlier upon arrival at the hospital, he couldn’t name all his grandkids at first, though their names did come back to him, and he couldn’t name the president, although he did know he was a tall black man.) He said he felt fine, but was boggled by his memory loss. I was so thankful to have the chance to talk to him, partly because I put off calling him yesterday and then never got around to it, even though I know better. Today I got to say “I love you, Dad,” even if he won’t remember that we talked. I hate being 370 miles away from just going to the hospital to see him and talk to him or sitting with my mom and staying with her so she doesn’t have to be alone, but for now, I feel like I should stay put. Hopefully we’ll have a few more answers after his tests, but for now, I’m just praying that he’s OK.


Friends I love

Special thanks to Sue Talbert, blogger extraordinaire, for helping me with my most recent post and the slideshow therein. You are a wonderful person to take the time to make someone else’s blog look great! I appreciate you and bow to your blogging skills! 🙂 If you want to check out a blog that makes me look like I was born yesterday, look into You will be blessed!

Thanks, my friend.

Paul! The Musical comes to town!

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Since 2006, summer has been filled with the amazing opportunity to be involved in a children’s muscial production at our church, thanks to the talent and hard work of people like Jeremy, Brooke, Karen, Kendra, Kara, and so many others. The musicals just keep getting bigger and better! This year there were so many participants that Jeremy had to split them into two groups. For the audience, that just means two nights of truly being entertained.

This year’s extravaganza is Paul, which chronicles the life of a man who thought he was serving God, but after a personal encounter with Jesus Himself, learned exactly what he had been missing. Through his stories, others also learn how God can be an integral part of their lives as well. Told with witty dialogue and wonderfully crafty songs, Paul has been the hallmark of our summer. All four boys took part in the younger musical, while Hannah was in the second part. Patrick was blessed to get the part of Old Paul, the narrator. Brendan played the part of Stephen and had a solo, while Andrew was a biker and Ben played a townsperson. Hannah also got the chance to sing a solo and play the part of a hippie. (Did you know there were bikers and hippies in Paul’s time?) Below are some random shots taken of the kids while they either rehearsed or performed. Todd also played a big part as set designer and builder and, along with Dave, created a massive set which included an incredible 35′ long boat.

We are so thankful that Jeremy not only has the vision to take on projects like these, but also the work ethic and help to actually walk them out. I’m confident that my kids will NEVER forget the summers they had when they did musicals and will look back on them fondly after they’ve grown.

Looking in anticipation

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

I’m not having a very good week. I can relate to Paul speaking in Romans 7 when he says: “21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I have the desire to have more patience with the six pack, speak more kindly to them and understand that they, like me, are works in progress. But then I lose my temper and do exactly the opposite of what I want. I wake up going over my to-do list and purposing to get so many things done through the day and be uber productive, but then somehow the day is gone and the list remains undone. I struggle with organization, self control, you name it. With starting a new school year this week (on top of battling some kind of sickness that has at least 4 of us in its throes), I feel even more ill-prepared than ever. My desk is a mess, but really just reflects what my head feels like, and I have less and less time before everything begins in earnest and time is at even more of a premium. I can feel my blood pressure and anxiety levels rising just thinking about it.

And yet….this morning I can’t get a hymn out of my head. It keeps coming to mind, and in spite of myself and my situation, I’m singing along. “It is well…..with my soul….It is well, it is well, with my soul!” At first, in all honesty, the song irritated me and I was thinking, “Um, NO, it is most certainly not well with my soul, thank you very much!” But it keeps coming back. And then, little by little, my heart began to soften. (I am so dense sometimes and it really takes a lot to get me to hear, but I’m thankful that God reveals true patience with the way He deals with me.) It can be well with my soul. The things I’m struggling with today or any day aren’t new struggles, nor are they unique to me. Can any of us say we are always patient, always self-controlled, always showing off our fruit? I can’t do anything apart from Him, and I’m guessing that maybe that’s the first part of the lesson I’m supposed to learn. I can’t possibly teach my children to rely on Him if I’m trying to do everything myself (although I can see how the negative example can be a powerful teacher in some instances! “Holy cow!” you might hear my kids say. “Mom needs Jesus!”) My heavenly Father is everything I’m not in a parent: willing to teach me the things I need repeatedly, even though I’ve heard it a gazillion times before.

So as I sit here with the house still a mess, the laundry in need of washing, the classroom in the midst of only our third day of the school year, I received my own lesson this morning. Though the sorrows may be rolling like the sea, I can live like it is well with my soul, maybe even before I feel like it is well with my soul. I’m not alone, and I’m not meant to go it alone, either. Whether he calms the storm or holds me close while it passes, I don’t have to do it by myself. Thank you, Father, for being patient with me and helping me in my ‘helpless estate.’ Help me extend that same grace to anyone I encounter today–especially the ones who have to live with me.

Did you hear that pop?

That was the sound of my head exploding. On August 2, with just a couple of weeks left before school starts, I have finally come to the realization that this is going to be the fullest year yet. Of course, it’s doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure that out: with 5 in school this year, including a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartener in the lineup, life is going to be busy. As I sit here and try to survey the materials of our new program and integrate the older method, this realization sweeps over me like a wave, and I am simultaneously excited and scared stiff at the thought of the 2010-2011 academic year.

This is our second year with a group called Classical Conversations. Last summer when we signed up (without having gone to any informational meetings or seen it in action thanks to the strong but loving pressure from my good friend and fellow homeschooler, to whom I’m now eternally grateful), I wrote the tuition check before even knowing what we were getting ourselves into. Because I had committed also to be a tutor for the group, Todd and I went to the CC practicum to learn more about this new-to-us philosophy. Throughout those three days, we knew that not only was this the direction we would like our homeschool to go, but that only God could have directed our steps and ability to find it. When I first started our homeschooling journey, the classical model appealed to me most, but like other things, after the almost continual addition of children, workbooks and worksheets slowly became the choice or necessity, depending on how you look at it. This was the chance to change gears and possibly reclaim some of the “lost tools of learning.” The trivium not only makes sense to me, but works as a model of education with proven results. Until CC, however, I just didn’t have the tools to implement it in our home with any degree of success. I have seen progress throughout the year in slowly shifting that paradigm, and I’m so thankful for it.

This year, we’ll continue our journey and take steps in uncharted territory. While five of the kids were in the earliest part of the program last year (known as the grammar stage or the time to amass knowledge), this year Hannah is entering 7th grade and will begin the Challenge program. For her, it will mean meeting with a class and a tutor one day a week and then doing her assignments at home the rest of the week. It is aptly named and will be a “challenge” for both of us, but of any of us, I believe it’s a challenge she is up to. I know the week will fly by and there will be Saturdays and Sundays where we wish we’d worked harder so that we didn’t have ‘crunch time,’ but I’ve heard repeatedly from other parents how far their children come in the span of a year and how much they’ve learned. That makes me want to put aside the fear and walk through it, remembering that we won’t be alone and that most of the time, the things that are the most difficult are also the most rewarding.

Patrick will be starting a new program too within CC that will fall under the same category: a lot of worthwhile work. I am so excited that there is a way to teach the essentials of the English language to children in a way that they enjoy it and retain it. As a self-proclaimed grammar nut, I lacked the tools to share my love of the subject with them and this is without a doubt the best program I’ve seen to teach them how our wonderful language works. What a skill they will have after going through it. I’m well aware that different people have many varied views of what education is at base, but I’m convinced at the deepest levels that there are certain “permanent things” that don’t ever change or lose value. I pray that my kids have some of that passed on to them.

Back in the foundations classes, Patrick, Brendan, Ben, and Andrew will be exposed to different subjects that we will learn about. This year I’m going to be the tutor for Andrew’s class, which will be 8 boys around the age of five. God certainly has a sense of humor and will most definitely teach me many things this year! I’m brushing up on my skills to keep boys moving as they work and will rely on my classroom moms for help at all times. I also expect to be blessed by our unique class and form special relationships that may continue for years to come.

So as I look over my notebook of this and my binder with that and try to put my materials in page protectors while hunting down my three hole punch that has gone missing and trying to come up with ways to keep a class of all boys (FIVE YEAR OLD BOYS!) entertained for 2 1/2 hours a week for 24 weeks, somehow, somehow it will not only be OK, but it will be glorious. I keep the end goal in mind as I sweat the small stuff and feel totally overwhelmed with the job before me. “Our children are souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured.”

And even though that may have been my head exploding in a thunderous pop, the pieces are all around here somewhere, so I’m going to try to gather them up and put them back together. I’m going to need them all!

Bruschetta fit for the gods

I thought it would be fitting, on this her birthday, to post a recipe that my friend Rachel shared with me and made during one of her visits here a few years back. During this trip, she brought her three amazing kids and Deanna, another dear friend from Hillsdale. It was a memorable few days, and not just because of the good eats, but this treat stands out in my mind as a definite highlight. As usual, I don’t have exact amounts for the ingredients, but I think you’ll be fine to eyeball and guage how much you need to create these delectable yummies for yourself! With all due respect to Rachel, this is how I remember her making it and how I make it now. If I’ve made any changes, I can’t remember them!


roma tomatoes, finely diced
vidalia onion, finely chopped
fresh basil, finely chopped
balsamic vinegar (a few splashes depending on how many tomatoes you chop)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded italian cheese blend
multigrain french bread (I used Kroger’s and it was good)
olive oil

Combine chopped tomatoes, onions, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Allow flavors to incorporate while preparing the bread. Stir occasionally. Don’t resist taste testing!

Slice bread into 1/2″ slices; lay out on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush one side lightly with olive oil. Place under the broiler for just enough time for the bread to toast. Remove and flip bread over; brush other side with olive oil and toast again. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Top each piece of bread with small amount of tomato mixture and sprinkle cheese over the top. Broil just until cheese starts to melt. Allow to cool just for a minute (if you can wait that long).

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