High Friends in High Places

Woo Hoo! I’m IN!!

One hour in the pediatrician’s office proved to me that my YEARS of working as a pediatric nurse for this particular practice may have paid off in more ways than one.

Background: For fifteen years I worked in a large and growing Pediatric practice. This group specialized in well child care as well as sick child care. We had a little ER and were open each night until all the kids were taken care of. Night after night we’d work until 11:00 or later if we had to, making sure all the sickness and illness….stitches, breathing problems and poop issues were resolved.  This group of physicians also specializes in ADD/ADHD and other behavioral issues (above and beyond the norm for MDs).

My life as a nurse there was wonderful. Nights spent torturing kids with immunizations and breathing treatments. Inserting catheters, IVs, stitches, throat cultures and ear currettes. Giving out stickers, hugs, kisses and cookies. I spent weekends with a beeper on my belt answering calls from parents worried about their sick babies or out of control teenagers. I saw my own patients for Asthma/allergy teaching. Now…I’m being paid back.

One year, I left that office and went to work for a local non-profit outpatient facility called Philhaven. I worked for a wonderful physician treating kids in intensive group therapies if they weren’t able to mainstream into school. I dispensed meds and advice to children with ODD, ADD, ADHD, PDD-NOS, Autism, Asperger’s, aggression and anger. Then I went back to the relative calm of the crazy pediatric clinic/office/home.

Today I took my son to the pediatrician at the above mentioned “office.” I haven’t been on staff there for nearly four years. The doc. I saw was one I worked with many nights. We like each other and respect each other’s clinical skills. This was the man who diagnosed Colin with SID nearly 6 months ago. Since then, his recommendation to a neuropsych resulted in an Asperger’s diagnosis.

For an hour I sat talking with him. Colin was there and happily played with his Hotwheels cars making tracks and trails over doc’s pants, shoes, folders and computer. Doc complied, occupied and laughed with him. (love this man.)  He concurs with the AS diagnosis.

A few weeks ago, he asked me to call a specialist, who also happens to be the psychiatrist I worked with at Philhaven. Apprently this man has recently opened a Center for Autism and Behavioral Disabilities about five minutes from home. I called them (managed to drop that I’d worked for head physician in the past but that didn’t work) and was put on a waiting list. Next POSSIBLE appointment? August, 2010.

I want to go there. Colin NEEDS to go there. I need to go there to find out how best to parent this guy, but August??????  Really?!

So today, pedi doc says…”No meds unless the psych at Philhaven says so.  I don’t think we’ve got ADHD, but maybe, maybe some anti-anxiety meds will help with school.”

I say: “But I’ve got to wait until August, cause Psychiatrist (name omitted) has this waiting list. I was hoping that because he knew me and I worked with him, that someone would be impressed and I’d have an ‘in.’ ”

Him: “You have an IN with me, girl. This boy needs help now and so do you. I’ll call Mike today and you’ll have an appointment so fast!”

Yeah!!!

High friends in High Places.

RePost on Mary, Mother of Christ

The following post was originally written in April. I am reposting it here again as a result of our Sunday School class discussion regarding the birth of Christ and how people were told he was coming. This morning we talked about Simeon with Mary and Joseph at the temple during Mary’s purification sacrifice.

When I originally posted these thoughts I got a few comments. I’d like to hear more of what people have to say. I think Mary is an understudied and underappreciated woman in the scriptures in my own church experience. Traditionally, our children are taught very little about her. It’s fun to delve a little further into what must have been an amazing life.

 Mary, Mother of Christ Resurrected.

 I am amazingly drawn to the life of Mary, mother of Christ. Popular culture paints her as a young woman to whom nothing extraordinary happened. She was young, naive and simple…until the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Until then, we imagine, she had lived a quiet life in Nazareth, doing the things all other girls did. No mention of her immediate family, parents or siblings. But, when this angel showed up, she doesn’t seem afraid of him. Luke describes her as “troubled” and although Gabriel asked her not to “be afraid”, Luke seems to imply that she simply wondered what was up with this?! Luke 1:29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

According to the Nativity Gospel of Mary, extraordinary circumstances surrounded this young woman’s life long before this angelic visit and long before she herself was conceived.  Her father, Joachim, was greatly troubled at his barrenness. The high priest at that time belittled him saying he was unworthy of presenting his gifts before God because God had not seen fit to bless him with offspring. Joachim wandered into the pastures of the shepherds to hide himself in his sorrow. While he was there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him that he would indeed have a child. God had seen fit to “open the womb” of his wife, not to just give them children, but to bring glory to Himself. Sound familiar? This angel then appeared to Anna, his wife, and told her that she would bear a child, name her Mary and that this child would find favor with God. She would be a special child in the temple of the Lord.

According to this writing, Joseph was also called divinely to be the “root of Jesse” through which our Lord Jesus Christ would be born.  It seems that both Mary and Joseph were somewhat accustomed to divine intervention.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he filled her “chamber” with “great light.”  [Chap 9, vs. 3] “And the virgin, who was already well acquainted with angelic faces, and was not unused to the light from heaven, was neither terrified by the vision of the angel, nor astonished at the greatness of the light, but only perplexed by his words; and she began to consider of what nature a salutation so unusual could be, or what it could portend, or what end it could have. “

It seems to me that God would be mighty picky about the vessel in which his son would be nurtured. If God was to take the form of man and be born of a woman, a virgin, He would likely have groomed her from the moment she was conceived. I imagine Mary must have become quite used to angels checking in on her now and then, and, dare I say…she may have conversed on a more intimate level with YHWH who would ultimately become her son? It seems so fantastic and supernatural…yet she accepts it with such grace as though she always knew it would happen this way.

Christ loved his mother like no other person on earth…as I hope my children love me. As he hung crucified, he beseeched John to love her and asked her to take John as her son. Watching out for both of them as he left them behind. Unbearable heartache enjoined with unending love as the skies opened and God himself took on the pain and sin of the world in complete and utter surrender to love…while this woman who loved Him in all imaginable ways looked on. Her heart must have been bursting and breaking and flying high to be entwined with the unimaginable healing power of grace.

The Nativity Gospel of Mary as a historical account of events was likely handed down orally from generation to generation…much like our own family histories today. It does nothing to diminish the deity of Christ, rather delves into the history of his mother and I read it as a love note on her behalf.  Frederica Matthewes-Green has this wonderful essay on Mary that discusses writings pertaining to the Virgin Mary.  Many of us are afraid of her…we don’t want to fall too deeply into what some fear would be a worship of Mary on par with a worship of Christ…but I think it’s worth looking at this woman as a integral part of the life of Jesus Christ on a deeper level than just that of the birth mother.  Did she live her life waiting for her son to give of his? How much did she know or understand? I wonder, too, how much time Jesus spent with his mother after his resurrection…how could he stay away; how could she?

An amazing woman, to be sure…and one that I am desperately anxious to meet some day.

Easter/Christmas…What On Earth??

I am reposting this since I feel it’s important.  I had surgery right before Christmas 2006, thus the lazy mommy references.

It might be a little late, but Easter’s coming. It’s a blog post from last Christmas (2006). I think that Christmas ought to be a year round kinda thing, so here ya go.  The decorations are down (or they oughta be) and now we’re wondering what the hell the commotion is all about. The swags are pretty and the tree is laden, but why?

And…by the way…I sold my copy of “Jotham’s Journey” on eBay in December for over $65.  Doesn’t that illustrate how much we love “feel good” stuff???

Christmas is only about three days away now. My kids are really antsy, anticipating the fun of Christmas morning and opening presents. They were well prepared ahead of time that this year we would be doing things a little differently now that Mommy will be lying on the couch, recliner or in bed most of the time. But, they still are so excited that it’s almost making them irritable.

We each year want so badly for Christmas celebrations to focus on the joyous birth of Christ and the coming of salvation through Him. We find we must remind ourselves that the holiday is about the virigin birth and not about gifts and eating cookies. As Christians we act almost pious when we say that we are “focusing more on the true meaning of Christmas” instead of the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But there is absolutely no way, short of going to live in a yurt in Mongolia for a month, that we can separate the secular traditions of winter holidays around the world with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Do you think that God REALLY cares? Do you think that when Christ was born quietly and humbly in a stable with only a few very smart men and lucky shepherds at his side…do you think God was hoping that someday someone would decide we should have this big party and ceremony to celebrate this quiet birth? Do you think he intended for it to be a big deal? I don’t. I don’t think He intended for ceremony to get in the way of what it’s all about. And now, there is no great distinction between the Santa Claus version of Christmas (which is also based on some facts) and the Bible version of Christmas (which is also based in facts.)
However, I sometimes think that God is exceedingly happy that we use Christ’s birth as an excuse for getting together with friends and family. As an excuse for exchanging gifts, putting aside differences, for eating a great big fat meal together. As an excuse to decorate our homes for winter and bring cheer to the bleak winter landscape with our holly and ivy! I don’t think he cares too much that we go overboard on spending for our children (if we can) and spoil each other a little. I don’t think he’s keeping track. After all….Jesus Christ was born to bring LOVE back into the world. If he can do that by giving two “non believers” a reason to go to a party and exchange gifts with each other, then GREAT! If he brought LOVE back by reconciling a daughter with her family over turkey dinner, then, that’s what he wanted to do, right? If a kiss under the mistletoe is what makes my heart full of love for once, then Jesus came for that, didn’t he? I personally think St. Nicholas was a really awesome guy! He had the right idea. He loved people.

I want my children to celebrate the birth of Christ right along with me. But, I don’t want to exhaust myself trying to explain what advent is or make myself feel guilt over having a really fun time with the holiday either. I love shopping, baking cookies and wrapping presents. I love bringing greens inside and decorating a tree with silly little sentimental trinkets. I love mistletoe and egg nog and sleigh rides and jingle bells. And I am pretty sure that Christ doesn’t care that I like all that stuff. I think he’s having fun trying to keep up with my swirling thoughts. I think we should have this great winter holiday and call it just that. A “winter holiday” and keep it as wild and crazy and flamboyant as possible.

Then, I think we should solemnly and quietly celebrate the birth of Christ. We should have candlelight services with carols and scripture and prophesy read. We should shout “hallelujah” just as I am sure the angels did. Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth. Then, bring ourselves as gifts to the altar before the Christ. We should talk about nothing else but the birth of Christ around our dinner tables and read the scripture stories over and over to our children for a week. The one from the Bible, not Jotham’s Journey or the story as viewed by the mouse under the hay. Teaching them, and teaching eachother, how great LOVE entered the world that day. How from that humble cry, that nursing baby, came light and hope and love everlasting. That without that baby boy, we would have no reason to live. Pour out our hearts to our kids about the love we know and how we have come to know it. No fluff, no fuss, no gifts, no trees, just celebration in it’s rawest form. Then we should be done and begin to look towards Easter with anticipation.

And I think we should do that in March or some other equally quiet month when no other holidays clutter the calendar! Then, and only then, might it really mean what it should.

Mary, Mother of Christ Resurrected

I am amazingly drawn to the life of Mary, mother of Christ. Popular culture paints her as a young woman to whom nothing extraordinary happened. She was young, naive and simple…until the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Until then, we imagine, she had lived a quiet life in Nazareth, doing the things all other girls did. No mention of her immediate family, parents or siblings. But, when this angel showed up, she doesn’t seem afraid of him. Luke describes her as “troubled” and although Gabriel asked her not to “be afraid”, Luke seems to imply that she simply wondered what was up with this?! Luke 1:29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

According to the Nativity Gospel of Mary, extraordinary circumstances surrounded this young woman’s life long before this angelic visit and long before she herself was conceived.  Her father, Joachim, was greatly troubled at his barrenness. The high priest at that time belittled him saying he was unworthy of presenting his gifts before God because God had not seen fit to bless him with offspring. Joachim wandered into the pastures of the shepherds to hide himself in his sorrow. While he was there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him that he would indeed have a child. God had seen fit to “open the womb” of his wife, not to just give them children, but to bring glory to Himself. Sound familiar? This angel then appeared to Anna, his wife, and told her that she would bear a child, name her Mary and that this child would find favor with God. She would be a special child in the temple of the Lord.

According to this writing, Joseph was also called divinely to be the “root of Jesse” through which our Lord Jesus Christ would be born.  It seems that both Mary and Joseph were somewhat accustomed to divine intervention.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he filled her “chamber” with “great light.”  [Chap 9, vs. 3] “And the virgin, who was already well acquainted with angelic faces, and was not unused to the light from heaven, was neither terrified by the vision of the angel, nor astonished at the greatness of the light, but only perplexed by his words; and she began to consider of what nature a salutation so unusual could be, or what it could portend, or what end it could have. ”

It seems to me that God would be mighty picky about the vessel in which his son would be nurtured. If God was to take the form of man and be born of a woman, a virgin, He would likely have groomed her from the moment she was conceived. I imagine Mary must have become quite used to angels checking in on her now and then, and, dare I say…she may have conversed on a more intimate level with YHWH who would ultimately become her son? It seems so fantastic and supernatural…yet she accepts it with such grace as though she always knew it would happen this way.

Christ loved his mother like no other person on earth…as I hope my children love me. As he hung crucified, he beseeched John to love her and asked her to take John as her son. Watching out for both of them as he left them behind. Unbearable heartache enjoined with unending love as the skies opened and God himself took on the pain and sin of the world in complete and utter surrender to love…while this woman who loved Him in all imaginable ways looked on. Her heart must have been bursting and breaking and flying high to be entwined with the unimaginable healing power of grace.

The Nativity Gospel of Mary as a historical account of events was likely handed down orally from generation to generation…much like our own family histories today. It does nothing to diminish the deity of Christ, rather delves into the history of his mother and I read it as a love note on her behalf.  Frederica Matthewes-Green has this wonderful essay on Mary that discusses writings pertaining to the Virgin Mary.  Many of us are afraid of her…we don’t want to fall too deeply into what some fear would be a worship of Mary on par with a worship of Christ…but I think it’s worth looking at this woman as a integral part of the life of Jesus Christ on a deeper level than just that of the birth mother.  Did she live her life waiting for her son to give of his? How much did she know or understand? I wonder, too, how much time Jesus spent with his mother after his resurrection…how could he stay away; how could she?

An amazing woman, to be sure…and one that I am desperately anxious to meet some day.

The Love of the Father

In early October, 2006, a man walked into an Amish school armed with rifles, pistols and deep pain. No one will ever understand why he chose to execute a group of young Amish girls; we don’t need to. It is the aftermath of that day that will live forever in the lives of so many people all over the world and the consequences of his deeds are far reaching in ways that no one expected.

Three nights ago, Andy and I witnessed God’s healing and grace in action. We were invited to visit with a little 8 year old girl who bears the scars of that day in October. I will call her Miss S. Andy was one of the people who treated her that day. I remember the evening after the shooting, he was telling me how feisty she was. With the extent of her injuries, he tried to intubate her to help her to breathe and she kept pushing him away. He desperately hoped that meant she would make it through. She did. And when we walked into her kitchen she ran up to him and laughingly said, “I look better than I did the last time you saw me!”

As we sat in their living room, we heard her father’s stories of how brave she was, how miraculous her healing and what an impact she had on the staff at the hospital who worked with her. He told of daily visits to the hospital, relying on others to drive them. Only on Sundays were they unable to be with her. Aunts, grandfather and parents; someone was always with her. As he spoke, tears threatened to fall, but he had a never ending smile on his face as he watched his daughter. Their family also lost a daughter to a bullet, but they do not dwell on her pain or death. They focus on the miracle walking around their house.

While we were there, two other families stopped by to visit. They didn’t know we would be there, it was just their normal visiting night. God planned it though, I am sure. One couple lost their daughter that day. Another man was a first responder and a member of their church and knew the girls. He had been the first to aid the little one Andy took care of.

The living room was crowded with chairs for the 8 adults and we counted nearly 12 children from age 12 to 4 weeks running in and out of the room. Listening to the Amish men speak of their experiences that day and reliving their roles was so healing for us. They asked questions of each other. “Where were you?”  “What happened next?” and “When did you find out who passed away?”.  They discussed helicopters, the speed of the police cars responding and the dynamics of the whole event in very factual terms. I felt as though I was sitting in a group therapy session. Nearly six months later, and these parents still pour out their memories and questions to eachother in order to unload their grief.

The most incredible moment for me was a conversation between the first responder and a mother whose daughter had died. He said he had been struggling with the fact that he could have identified each of the girls and let their parents know which hospital their child was sent to or what their physical condition was. But he didn’t, and it wasn’t until much later that night that parents knew the fate of their children.  The mother of the slain girl looked at him and said, “If I had known what had happend to (her), that she had passed away, I would have left the school and gone home. Instead, I stayed with my friends and waited. I am glad you didn’t tell me or I would have been alone all day.”

In our Sunday School class we are studying what Mennonites believe. Woven into all that discussion is the idea of community as a place to study scripture, learn and work together. These Amish families that night embodied that perfectly. They relied on each other to hold them up each day and listening to them talk together for hours about thier experiences was healing for them and for Andy and I.

Miss S never stopped smiling or kissing me after she opened the gift we brought her. Her father noted that the hospital wasn’t able to take the “silly” out of her when they removed part of her brain! His obvious love for her was palpable.

Both of her parents repeatedly stated that without God carrying them through they would have cracked up. They have received hundreds of letters and cards from around the world from people who want to live their lives differently and with less anger now that they have witnessed forgiveness and grace from the Amish parents. To them, that makes it all worthwhile. They even received word of a country closed to the Bible that was allowed to view footage of the event and send their condolences through their government controlled mail system. The idea that the murder of little Amish girls in rural Lancaster county touched the lives of people behind a communist curtain was amazing to their parents and made God so much more evident in the aftermath.

Miss S’s father asked me if I thought the effect of this would continue or if it was just a short lived “one day” ripple of grace. I told him that I think that his children and the children in his community will be testament to Christ for the rest of their lives. I believe that.

The love of a father for his children so close to the love of The Father for us. Amazing grace and peace where there could be so much anger and fear.

The new school building is nearly ready and the kids are excited to use it. That building itself is a testament to faith and trust.

We healed that night a little, I know Andy did. So did the parents we met with and the children playing around us. Miss S has a brand new baby sister to love and 6 brothers to take care of her. She is a little bit of a celebrity and a very happy little girl. Her scars are hidden with a new head of hair and her vision is returning to normal. She bears little outward scars of the fearful events of that day in October and inwardly, I think she’s just fine.

Mother and Child

I climbed in bed with my son last night. I had to navigate the nylon mesh rail that keeps him from falling out. He’s in a “big boy bed” now. I’m not sure why we took him out of his crib already; he’d certainly still fit. Maybe we were in a hurry for him to grow or maybe we were sick of bending over to pick him up. Whatever the reason, he’s now officially out of babyhood. So, I climbed from the bottom of the bed up to the top. He’s sleeping on his big brother’s Spiderman pillowcase. It was a little damp, but that’s okay. Since surgery a few weeks ago I haven’t been able to pick him up and hold him and I just wanted to put my arms around him for a little bit. I am terrified that by the time I’m allowed to lift him again, he’ll be ready for college and won’t be able to wrap his little skinny legs around my waist anymore.

He is absolutely the most spectacular person I have met in a long time. Perfect little eyelashes and this huge forehead housing magnificently large thoughts for a two-and-a-half-year-old. He’s not even quiet when he sleeps; he whooshes a little. I just laid there and watched him. Touching him might have woken him and God knows we wouldn’t want to do that! But, to watch him sleep made me feel so small. So finite. So human.

I am constantly amazed that my Father God thought me worthy enough to be in charge of these little people living in my house. I look at them and wonder how I ever grew old enough to have children, let alone intelligent ones with attitudes, opinions and language! It’s a little overwhelming, scary and humbling to think that for the rest of my life (and theirs) we’ll be together one way or another. I prayfully ask that I not screw this up.

I watch you from the corner of my eye

I see all that you do

Yet your secrets lie deep inside you

You are your own person

Not mine

Only on loan to me for a

Lifetime.

I’m sorry now for what will come

You asked not

You chose not

You begged to be left alone

To be yourself

Yet I interfered and mothered you.

I will one day need you

To care for me

To still love me

To consider me your elder

Your friend

Your

Life.

Please.