Archive | August 2013

EEK! It’s an EEG!

We had some very stressful days around here this week.  Robbie had to have a forty-eight hour ambulatory EEG from Monday to Wednesday and it turned out to be quite the ordeal.  We have sworn “Never again!”

In the first place, it wasn’t really all that necessary.  Robbie started a new anti-seizure medicine about four months ago that, from the very start, has worked a miracle, not only in helping to control his seizures, but also in his quality of life.  As we discussed this with his neurologist a few weeks ago, the doctor suggested we do an EEG to compare his brain waves now as opposed to them a few years ago.  We were curious, too, but knowing Robbie, doubtful that he would cooperate.  He would have to wear the electrodes and the “turban” covering them for forty-eight hours at home.

“What do you want to bet he has them off before we even get home?” I warned the doctor.

“Well, let’s just give it a try,” he said with that laid-back smile of his.  If we’d know then what we know now…

The day finally came after three postponements.  Robbie tolerated having the thirty or so electrodes pasted to his head and face fairly well, and did alright as the technician wrapped gauze around and around to keep them and the small electrical box perched on top of his head in place.  He looked like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab when she was done.  We left the office, got him into the car and headed for home.

Surprise!  He actually got all the way home without lifting a finger to undo anything.  I went inside ahead of them to prepare Robbie’s food and medicine while Bob got him out of the car and into his wheelchair, took him up on the wheelchair lift and into the house.  He lifted Robbie out of the wheelchair and put him in the recliner.  Suddenly from the kitchen I heard Bob bellow, “ROBBIE!!”  The moment he’d turned his back to put the wheelchair away, Robbie had pulled the turban off.  We’d made it home, but hadn’t been in the house sixty seconds when the conflict began.

We wrapped another turban around.  That lasted less than an hour.  There were no more materials for a third turban so we got out a ski cap and put that on Robbie.  It was the only thing keeping the little black box perched on his head and, so far, all the leads attached.  And every hour or two, off it would come.  The moment we took our eyes off of him, Robbie would snatch that cap off and wait for us to notice with a guilty look on his face.  “ROBBIE!!” Bob would thunder, or I would shriek.  Then we would scold—and scold.  We knew he understood, but he just did not want that cap on his head.

We felt terrible.  We were stressing over it, and Robbie was stressed, too, and becoming more and more depressed.  We knew it had to itch; that his head was too hot with that cap; that some of the leads had to be pokey.  We were sympathetic to what he was going through, but trying to be responsible in getting that EEG.  We finally told ourselves that if we could get twenty-four hours in, we would call it good and just relax and if stuff fell off, so what?  By that time, though, we were in freak-out mode and couldn’t help ourselves when he reached for his head.  “ROBBIE!!”

We tried to distract Robbie with his toys and music.  That most likely hurt more than it helped.  I caught him banging his tambourine on his head over and over.  Probably not a good thing for the EEG.  He turned into a head-banger as he listened to his music, too, bobbing his head violently with “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “Jesus Loves Me.”  No heavy-metal or punk rock for him!  He shrieked with joy as Daddy played with him.  Also not good for the EEG.  I am sure whoever reads that EEG is going to wonder what on earth was going on!

When the forty-eight hours were up we went back to the doctor’s office and the technician took it all off.  There were ugly red welts on Robbie’s face and head that lasted for days afterwards.  It looked like he had had an allergic reaction to the paste they used.  Poor boy!  He must have been miserable, and there Mommy and Daddy were scolding him.  I’d say, under the circumstances, Robbie did remarkably well.  When we took him out to the car, he let out a shriek of sheer exhilaration!  Free at last!

So that is why we say never again.  If he has to have another EEG sometime in the future it will be when he is in the hospital and really needs it.  Modern medicine is wonderful and it is amazing what they can do and see within the human body these days.  We’ve come a long way, by God’s grace, and yet what we don’t know about the body and mind and how to treat them so far outweighs what we know that it is ridiculous.

Our Creator knows, though.  It was He who made every molecule and organ and system and put it all together in a fascinating miracle of creation.  It was and is He who breathes the breath of life into every living soul.  Psalm 139:13-16 says:

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Modern medicine does not hold a candle to what God knows about each one of our individual bodies—billions of individual bodies!  Not only did He create them, but he also sustains them and holds them together. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17)  Hebrews 1:3 says He “…upholds all things by the word of his power…”

God knows Robbie’s brain (and yours and mine) better than any machine could ever determine.  He knows not only the brain waves and what causes the seizures, but also every thought and dream and emotion.  He knows every brain wave in Robbie’s head, and every hair on it.  “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.  (Luke 12:7)  He knows us inside and out.

I love the verses surrounding Psalm 139:13-16 for they tell me of God’s knowledge of all of me, not just my body and how He made it, but also my actions, my speech, my thoughts, my whereabouts.  They speak of His presence and His protection.

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

We cannot understand how God can know all that about every single one of us.  It boggles the mind.  As the Psalmist said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it!”  Even more mind-boggling is His love for each one of us despite His knowledge of how far we fall short of His holiness.  Two of my favorite verses follow Psalm 139:13-16. Verses 17 and 18 remind me that I am precious to Him and that He never stops thinking of me.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

We are grateful to the doctors and surgeons who help us in our time of need, but it is God who, through grace, gives them the knowledge, the technology and skill to do so.  He deserves our worship, praise and thanksgiving.  Let us be ever grateful to Him.

Enough is Enough!

“Enough!”  Bob ordered.  “I’m tired of seeing you wearing baggy clothes!  Go buy yourself some new clothes!”

Music to a woman’s ears, right?  Well, yes—usually.  In this case I was torn.  I already had lots of pretty clothes that I really liked.  He was right, though.  They were getting pretty big on me as I lost weight.  I have lost 55-60 lbs over the last year and a half.  I had bought a few tops this spring one size smaller, but even they were a little too big.  Anyone who has lost weight—and then regained it—plus—knows the mindset.  You’re afraid to get rid of the “fat” clothes because what if you gain that weight back again???  Even when you buy new clothes, you’re afraid to go too much smaller because what if you gain that weight back again???  When you’ve been a yo-yo dieter all your life you can’t quite trust yourself.

So my husband had to give me a gentle nudge—well ok, a great big shove—into going out there and getting some clothes that fit.  I bought a couple tops the last week or two and was shocked to see I had gone down another size!  Yeah!!!  (Duh—of course losing more than 50 lbs would take you down at least a couple sizes!)  “You see?” Bob encouraged me.  “You really look nice when the clothes fit you better!  Now go get some more!”

“Hold on!” I stalled.  “Let me go downstairs and try on the smaller clothes I have down there and see if there is anything that fits, and that is worth keeping.”  Oxymoron here—with the emphasis on the moron.  The same woman who was afraid to let go of her “fat” clothes in case she gained the weight back, years ago was afraid to let go of her “skinny” clothes in case she could ever lose the weight and get back into them.  Go figure.  I’ll bet, though, most of you women who have ever struggled with your weight can relate, right?

I was disappointed in the tops I found down there.  None of them were as pretty as the ones I was giving up and most of them were good for wearing around the house but not much else.  I was thrilled, though, to find quite a few pairs of slacks, jeans and capris that fit and were in good shape.  Whoo-hoo!  I hate shopping for pants!

Next came the hard part.  Another shove from my husband forced me into getting rid of all my nice “fat” clothes.  As I began to pull things out of the closet and pile them on the bed I was shocked.  The pile grew larger and larger.  My shock turned to dismay.  It was an outrageous number of clothes.  I went from being dismayed to being sickened.  How had I ever accumulated so many clothes?  Many of them still looked like new.

To understand how I could have forgotten I had all those things you have to know the layout of my closet.  This house was built 85 years ago.  They didn’t make closets the way they do now.  My closet has a skinny little door and goes way, way back to the left.  The only way to get to the clothes in the middle to back of the very full closet is to take out everything in the front.  As I put new clothes in, the other stuff got pushed back further and further.  Over a period of six or seven years, summer and winter seasons, I just didn’t realize how much I had accrued—and how much I didn’t need. 

I had to stop right there and ask God’s forgiveness.  What terrible stewardship!  What a waste!  The money I had spent on all those clothes could have been put to much better use.  True, I had not spent a great deal per item—I’m a clearance sale shopper, very rarely paying full price for anything, and a WalMart kind of girl—but still, it added up.  And none of it was “treasure laid up in heaven.”

I felt that I had sinned against my husband, as well.  I called Bob into the room.  As I showed him the mountain of clothes on the bed I asked his forgiveness.  I felt so guilty and just plain mad at myself.  I think, by the look on his face, that he was just as shocked as I was, but he was quick to forgive.  “Stop kicking yourself,” he said.  “If I’ve forgiven you, and God’s forgiven you, you need to forgive yourself.  Bag them up and I’ll take them to Diane and Stacie (his sister and sister-in-law.)  Whatever they don’t want we’ll take to a missions’ resale shop.”

I struggled with sharing this on the blog today.  What should have been a joyous thing in losing all that weight, has become a shameful thing in acknowledging a wasteful, materialistic side to me I didn’t even realize I had until confronted with the overwhelming stack of evidence.  It is difficult to confess that to the world.  I learned several life lessons from this experience this week, however, as well.  I would like to share them, too.  In the words of retailers everywhere:

Take Inventory.  That mountain of clothes could have been avoided if I had only taken the time twice a year to see what I already had and what I truly needed.  We ought to take inventory on a regular basis, as well, of our spiritual life. The Bible says in several places, “But let a man examine himself…”  (I Corinthians 11:28)  The apostle Paul told the Corinthians to first of all make sure they were actually saved.  “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (II Corinthians 13:5)  Then he encouraged the believers to take stock of their works.  “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Galatians 6:4a)  Finally, we may be surprised at the sin we have hidden away in our hearts.  Introspection is difficult. It is not in our nature to examine ourselves and ask hard questions.  Nevertheless, we ought on a daily basis examine our hearts for sin and confess it to the Lord.  “But let a man examine himself…”

Everything Must Go!  It was difficult to let go of the clothes I liked so much.  I don’t know why, for normally I am a generous person and love to give to those who are needy, but I was a grouch as I bagged the clothes even though I knew they were going to women who would appreciate them and could use them.  I had to ask forgiveness for that, too.  (“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”– II Corinthians 9:7) We cannot let material possessions stand between us and doing what is right.  Acts 20:35b tells us, “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”   We are told in Hebrews 13:1, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  Proverbs 31 tells us that the Virtuous Woman “…extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” (v.20)  Anything can become an idol when we clutch it too closely and cannot let go.

Layaway.  Jesus Himself said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)  What disturbed me the most about all those clothes was that they had no eternal value at all.  They were treasures on earth and a waste of the resources God had given us.  Perhaps there is a little redeeming value in that we gave them all away, but my resolve now is to be much more careful of the earthly treasures I bring into this house and use the money we save on things of eternal value.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us so much more than we deserve; even more than what we need.  Help us to be wise what You give us and willing to use it to bless others and You.

Judging a Book by Its Cover

I am excited!  I have begun a new venture this year, and this week brought me another step closer in accomplishing it!  I will soon begin e-publishing nineteen of the forty-three books I have written over the past twelve or thirteen years.  I plan to begin with my Noble Heart series, seven books aimed at 8-13 year olds.  I will be offering them on Kindle through Amazon.com, but before I can do that, I need cover art for each one.

My niece Sarah Lowe is a wonderful professional artist.  She is talented in many mediums and many types of art.  She is also a sweet, caring woman and the mother of two little ones.  I knew her time is limited so I hesitated to ask if she could do the cover art I needed, but it turned out that she was willing to do some freelance work at this time and she graciously agreed to help me out.  I was thrilled with the first cover she sent!  FlightoftheFalcon_Cover

Sarah nailed it!  The cover for my first e-book Flight of the Falcon is both mysterious and beautiful; whimsical and dramatic; simple and yet detailed.  It definitely conveys the feeling that the characters in the forefront are lost and being pursued (by whom? why?)  The castle in the background alludes to its setting in the Middle Ages.  I think this cover would attract young readers and their parents and appeal to them as an exciting possibility to read.

There is an old saying that says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  That is true, and yet sometimes untrue.  In this case, I hope the potential reader will look at this cover and think, “Oh, I wonder what that is all about?  It looks exciting!” and then begins to read and finds out, in fact, that it is!

We are often quick to judge a person by his or her appearance.  Much was made over the George Zimmerman case and the connotation, whether right or wrong, that Trayvon Martin’s hoodie gave, which lead to the incident in the first place.  We know that how we dress, the way we wear our hair, even the expression on our faces give a certain impression.  When we judge someone, or a place or a situation by the way it appears on the surface we may be right—but then again we often discover just how wrong we are.

I have two thoughts on this.  The first is that we need to be careful of the impression we give to others.  As a follower of Christ we represent Him.  The apostle Paul calls us epistles of Christ, read by all men.  II Corinthians 3:2-3 tells us, You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” Our appearance, our actions, our words are the “cover” of our epistle or book and we are judged by them—and so is Christ.

Secondly, the only true judge of our lives is God.  He alone can look beneath the cover and see the heart.  I Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  All our best efforts to present a beautiful “cover” are to no avail if the book inside is rotten, because God knows.  So—sometimes we can judge a book by its cover, and sometimes we can’t, but the Lord never fails to judge correctly.

I have seen Sarah’s sketch for the next cover, Quest for the Kingdom, and can hardly wait for the finished product.  It promises an exciting read, as well.  I hope my young readers will not be disappointed!