Friday, May 5, 2017

Just plain wrong

I saw this on Facebook the other day. I do not know the author of this meme. Never heard of him. This is another of those “see how much more compassionate and caring I am than any Christian you ever met” memes which people can “Like” or “Love” to show that they too are so much more caring than any Christian or church that ever existed. The only problem with this is it’s wrong. Just plain wrong. Would it be too harsh to say, plumb ignorant?

In my former life I was a pastor. The last church I pastored was the kind of church that would have supported Christian bakers who didn’t want to bake cakes for homosexual weddings. Was that all we did? Y’know, wait for bakers or florists to get into trouble? Not at all, we were a small church but we supported PATH, a group that provided food, clothing, and financial help and Crisis Pregnancy Center which provided counseling and support for pregnant women. We also had a benevolent fund with which I was able to offer help to families (such as food, rent, utilities) in need. We also supported the missionary endeavors of the denomination we were affiliated with (see below). We were clearly “life affirming.”

Let’s lift our eyes above our little church to see a much bigger picture. Here is a sampling of “life affirming” activities of churches and Christians, in no particular order:

† Christian & Missionary Alliance – the denomination we were affiliated with; one of the main emphases of the Alliance is missions: bringing the gospel to those who have never heard it. This is the most “life affirming” thing you can do. Eternal life is the most important thing +and your spiritual health has a tremendous impact on your physical life. But the Alliance not only preaches the gospel, they also have a division called CAMA, which is designed to minister to the physical needs of people (clean water, relief, food, medical, including hospitals). And this isn’t new: when A.B. Simpson started the Alliance in New York City he had rescue missions, homes for wayward women, homes for healing etc

† William Wilberforce – an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the slave trade. He began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming an independent Member of Parliament. In 1785, he became an Evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform.
In 1787, he came into contact with a group of anti-slave-trade activists. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

† St. Basil of Caesarea - founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew rapidly, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick. Furthermore, the modern hospital owes its origins to Judeo-Christian compassion. Evidence of the vast expansion of faith-based hospitals is seen in the legacy of their names: St. Vincent’s, St. Luke’s, Mt. Sinai, Presbyterian, Mercy, and Beth Israel. These were all charitable hospitals, some of which began as foundling hospitals to care for abandoned children. All around us are hospitals started by churches - Baptist, Methodist, Adventist etc.

† The Red Cross - In 1863 Swiss Christian businessman Jean Henri Dunant formed a relief organization for caring for wartime wounded.

† Cancer Treatment Centers of America – “At Cancer Treatment Centers of America®, we support your faith as part of our commitment to provide comprehensive, integrative cancer care.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, we understand how difficult it may be to stay hopeful. But we also recognize that your faith in God may be a critical source of hope and strength, especially in the face of challenges and difficult moments. The Scripture is full of words of encouragement.
Each of our hospitals has a dedicated pastoral care team committed to encouraging you in your faith and helping you find strength and hope in God.”

† Public Education - was often the work of the church in the community

† Rescue Missions

† Orphanages

† Women’s Ministries

† Samaritan’s Purse – “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”

† Rolland & Heidi Baker - In 1980 the Bakers founded Iris Global, a Christian ministry dedicated to charitable service and evangelism, particularly in developing nations. Their  operations include well-drilling, free health clinics, village feeding programs, the operation of primary and secondary schools, cottage industries and the founding more than 5000 churches in Mozambique, with a total of over 10,000 Iris-affiliated churches in more than 20 nations.

† Father Damien – gave his life ministering to the lepers of Molokai

This is just off the top of my head! Clearly, the creator of the meme (as well as all those who liked it) has no idea what he is talking about.  The Church has always been “life affirming.” But not "sin affirming."

I was hungry and you gave Me food
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink
I was a stranger and you took Me in
I was naked and you clothed Me
I was sick and you visited Me
I was in prison and you came to Me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I confess, I’m taking steroids

This is my torn rotator cuff story.

this is me after a day and a half on steroinds

Last summer I began having pain in my left shoulder when I reached out with and sometimes just moved my left arm. One afternoon in October I was in my attic with a repairman, I reached out for support and thought my arm was going to fall off! The man asked me, “You gonna be alright?” “Yeah, in a minute.”

That was excruciating. The next day I went to the Urgent Care. The doctor examined me and had me stretch my arm in various ways. Then she placed her hand on my back, below my left shoulder and told me to raise my arm. “Yep, I know what it is.” She declared I had “shoulder impingement and scapula hitch” which could be treated with physical therapy. She said she would call the hospital and they would then call me to set it up.

After a couple of weeks the hospital did indeed call and we scheduled therapy twice a week for the month of December. So for the month of December I got double therapy - I would walk down to the hospital (2 miles each way) twice a week and receive an hour of stretching and strengthening.

And there was improvement. But not total. The first week of January the therapist said, “Your shoulder should be better by now. I think you need to see an orthopaedist.” I should add, every week they tested me for a torn rotator cuff but always concluded, “No, I guess not.”

Well, you can’t just call an orthopaedic doctor - you need to be referred. So I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. He checked my movement, then scheduled an x-ray. Which showed nothing, so he scheduled an MRI. Whoops! Insurance denied it. I guess he didn’t have enough clout, so he referred me to an orthopaedist.

When I went to the orthopaedist, I repeated my journey thus far, he examined me, then did an x-ray. Again x-ray showed nothing so guess what? He scheduled an MRI! This time insurance approved. So finally, in March, I had my MRI (read that story here ).

I went back to the doctor for the report. “30% tear of the rotator cuff.” This is borderline. Under 30% calls for one treatment (shot etc), greater than 30% calls for another treatment (surgery). “What do you want to be able to do?” “I want to kayak again.” “Surgery it is. Let me refer you to our surgery expert. He took an extra year of school just for this sort of thing.” So I’m scheduled to see yet another doctor.

I arrive for my appointment with Doctor-who-specializes-in-shoulder-surgery. I rehearse my journey to this point, explain my pain and lack of movement, he examines me, then concludes that yes, surgery is called for. He explains how this works, the pain and recovery involved, and we schedule it for Tuesday, April 4th.

The Friday before, March 31, I walk down to the hospital to make arrangements and meet the anesthesiologist. Everything is set. Well, everything but the exact time. They will call me Monday to tell me that. Monday morning, April 3, the doctor’s office calls me. “Insurance is declining this.” Seems there is a misunderstanding of ‘how’ I hurt the shoulder. I explain. They will call the insurance company back. Then the insurance company calls me, with the same question. I explain again. Later that afternoon, the doctor’s office calls me again. A different person this time. “Insurance has denied this procedure. Can we reschedule this for the 18th?” “No. I will be out of town on the 18th.” (We were going to Edisto and had already paid for the house. Besides, I want to wait until the insurance actually approves this.)

The doctor’s office called me and said there was to be a peer to peer phone call. In other words, my doctor calls the insurance doctor and makes his pitch. He did that last week. Insurance doctor remains steadfast and unconvinced, “No!” So, the doctor’s office calls me back, informs me of this decision, and asks me to come in to “discuss my options.”

That appointment is Monday, April 24. When my doctor comes in he is rather sheepish and very apologetic. “I’m sorry for all this.” I tell him, “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that heart-broken by the decision. After reading up on the surgery, I wasn’t too keen on it.” He laughed.

Before continuing, let me explain something. After the first denial, I met with my pastor for fellowship. As I explained what was happening he asked me, “Have you been anointed and prayed for about this?” Why, no I haven’t. So, right there in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, he anointed me with oil and prayed for healing for my shoulder. I didn’t feel anything, but I would periodically test my arm to see if it was better. I still had pain at certain points, but I did have increased movement. The plan is for surgery, but my shoulder, though still hurting, has greater mobility and less pain. As I laid in bed the night before the peer to peer, I prayed, “Lord, you rule in this.” That’s why I wasn’t heart-broken by the decision.

Back to the doctor’s office. I explained that my shoulder seemed to be improving (“I’m not surprised. We often see this happen”) and that having done some reading on the shot, I just didn’t want that option. “Is there an oral steroid that you can give me?” “Yes.” He then explained how it would work (6 day regimen followed by a month of some other medicine to keep the steroid from hurting my stomach), but he added, “I won’t be surprised to see you in 5 months.”

Tuesday, April 25th I opened the box with the steroids. I’m expecting 6 pills. There are 21! I’m not merely taking steroids, I’m eating them like M&Ms!! And now I’m huge!

(I’m not really. But I am hot all the time and have a little trouble sleeping)

I’m praying that this treatment will work.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Some thoughts on Edisto

the house we stayed in this time
Last week we took some friends down to Edisto. They were there two days and nights while we stayed three days and nights. I hope they had a good time. I did!

When we arrived at the house I announced the ‘Ground Rules’ for their time at the beach:
“You can go with us where we go, when we go, but you don’t have to. You don’t have to wait on us. You can go or stay as you please. This is the beach!”

The first night there I discovered that some light bulbs were missing or not working, so the next day I went by the rental office to ask for some new bulbs. They gave me a pack and said, “Enjoy your stay.” I replied, “That’ll be easy – it’s Edisto!”

The morning our friends left I was sitting on the back porch enjoying the morning and the view. I thought to myself, “OK, probably better go down to the beach or do something. Don’t want to waste our last day.” But then I realized, “Sitting here on the back porch enjoying the morning and the view is just as much ‘the beach’ as running around seeing everything.” So I sat there a good while longer.

Then I decided to go down to the backyard and discovered what I called “critter paths” out to the marsh. Mary was on the third floor porch delighting in the hammock and I was having a blast at the marsh!

Mary and I were sitting on the beach, reveling in the day, but we had no tent or umbrella. I wanted to be out there but I also didn’t want to get anymore sun. Mary agreed, so we pulled our chairs away from the waves and left, planning to come back later in the afternoon. We drove to the convenience store to get some ice cream and they had umbrellas! We drove to the other two convenience stores to compare prices (it just happened that the third store we visited had a Wild Cherry Pepsi!). The first store had the best prices so we bought an umbrella and just sat out on the beach, in the shade of our new umbrella, for a good bit longer.

a 'bird que' at the third store!
The things I think sitting on the beach while watching the tide coming in:
“At some point in time the retreat of low tide reverses and the march of high tide begins. At first, it doesn't succeed: the waves throw themselves on shore only to roll back. Who can tell high tide has begun? Nevertheless, the waves relentlessly, tirelessly, silently, attack the shoreline, and inch by inch the tide rises.”

The last morning we were there I packed everything into the car and we went to the realty office to turn in the key. It was a nice day, a quiet morning. I thought, “I don’t want to go - I’m not ready to leave.”

the view from the sound. our house is the one in the middle

Monday, March 13, 2017

What a powerful song!

I've been listening to my collection of Carter Family songs recently and I heard this last night. What a powerful song! Oh how we need this to happen today!! You can hear them sing it here

When first I heard of a people who claimed
This old time religion was real
I says, “I'll go down take a look at the crowd
It's just the weak minded I feel”

But something got a hold of me
Yes something got a hold of me
I went there to fight but on that night
There’s something got a hold of me

I walked right down peeked in at the door
And the devil says, “Don't you go in”
I says, “I’ll go in for that will not hurt
And sit as far back as I can”

But something got a hold of me
Yes something got a hold of me
I went there to fight but on that night
There’s something got a hold of me

About that time he got up to preach
And he looked right down upon me
He told everybody how mean I had been
Don’t think he thought much of me

But something got a hold of me
Yes something got a hold of me
I went there to fight but on that night
There’s something got a hold of me

They sing and shout and they all clapped their hands
And they all got down on their knees
When the fire fell from heaven it fell upon me
And then I fell to the floor

But something got a hold of me
Yes something got a hold of me
I went there to fight but on that night
There’s something got a hold of me

So now I've learnt and no need to doubt
That the old time religion is real
I have a spirit I'll never forget
That something got a hold of me

Yes something got a hold of me
Yes something got a hold of me
I have a spirit I'll never forget
That something got a hold of me

Something Got A Hold Of Me, written by A. P. Carter

Friday, March 10, 2017

My MRI experience

this is our destination. downtown Charlotte
1. I was ferried up there and back by Dennis Davis. Thank you, Dennis!

2. I had indicated that I just might be slightly claustrophobic so they gave me Adavan (to relieve anxiety). This was why they said I needed a driver. Adavan begins working quickly and I started to feel good. I also began having a hard time walking straight and following orders – Dennis several times grabbed my arm and said, “It is this way.” And let me tell you, Do Not lean forward while on Adavan because the tendency is to keep on falling forward!

the machine. you lay down on the flat bed-like thing and they insert you into the giant ball. it is always on
and the room is magnetized constantly, I had to stand at the door to take this photo

3. They led me to the machine itself and said, “Lay down here.” He then asked if I needed a blanket? (“It is kinda chilly, so he got a sheet. Perfect); How about a washcloth on my face? (I am felling good, Sure). Do you want ear plugs (it is loud) or ear phones to listen to Pandora? Can I pick the music? Sure, what would you like? George Kahumoku (classic Hawaiian hula music). That’s what I got! Although the machine is so loud that it is difficult to hear.

4. I’m ready so they slide me into the tube and I’m there for 20 minutes. It is very loud! And I would like to say I felt every ray they shot into my shoulder and body, but that may have been the Adavan!
At one point the noise subsided and I could hear a woman’s voice, “How are you doing? We’re getting a little movement, can you stop breathing?” Again, that may have been the Adavan. I was slid back in for more of the same. Then she came on and “Almost done. Six more minutes.”

5. Then it was over! Twenty minutes is not that long. They pulled me out of the tube, removed the sheet and washcloth, and told me I could now stand up. I asked them to help me get up; they did. “OK, you can sit there for a while and get you bearings before you try to get up. And just to let you know, we have wheelchairs if you feel you need them.” I was standing up by this time and I declared, “Whatever else happens, I am walking out of here.” And I did.

It is really too bad that the MRI only diagnosis problems and doesn’t cure them! I probably could have done this without the Adavan, but the Adavan felt good. Everybody told me I had to have a driver because of the Adavan. But I can tell you, I could have done it. I have driven, let me just say, you would be shocked and scared for me if you knew some of the conditions I have (safely) driven under!!

It’s over and now I await my Tuesday visit to the Doctor to explain the results of this test, which are probably going to be surgery to repair the rotator cuff. Wednesday we leave for New Mexico for a ten day trip out west, hanging out with Erica & Dan so surgery will most likely be the last week of March of first week in April. Everything seems to be moving quickly now.

One final note. The doctor’s office said I would be in “la-la land” all day and told me today not to drive all day. I was a little disappointed. I was introduced to la-la land, but we really didn't hang out . . .

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The night I spent in a New York police station

The other day I was asked if I could pick my grandson up from school on Friday. Half-jokingly I replied, “Unless I'm in jail or the hospital I think so.” It’s funny how your mind (OK, my mind) works - that reminded me of the night I spent in a police station in New York.

My brother Sean and I were living with our sister on her farm in Copenhagen, NY. I went up there to work on the farm. I was 18 and lazy, and it turns out farm work is hard. So after only a few days I said, “I’m outta here.” I talked Sean into leaving with me and we left to return to Nashville, TN. We set off, hitch-hiking our way to the Canadian Border. Yes, you’re right, that was the wrong direction! But our plan was to enter Canada, hitch-hike across to north of Detroit, then head back south. We stopped at Thousand Island Park for a swim and then made our way to the border.

We got turned away.

From the Canadian Border.

I must be one of three or four people ever denied entry into Canada!

So, we headed south again and hitch-hiked our way to North Syracuse. About 95 miles. It was hard to catch a ride that day, maybe it was my shoulder length hair. By now it was night and we couldn’t go any further, so we found a grocery store that had closed for the day. We unrolled our sleeping bags on the dark side of the store and went to sleep.

In the middle of the night we were rousted by the police: “Get up! You can’t sleep here!”

We entreated him to let us stay at the police station because we had nowhere else to go. And that’s where he took us! We spent the night in our sleeping bags on the floor of the North Syracuse Police Station. Six o’clock the next morning the officer behind the desk said, “Wake up! Get outta here!”

And that’s what we did. We decided that hitch-hiking wasn’t working (and the officer may have warned us about it, as in, “And don’t let me catch you hitch-hiking”) so we bought bus tickets to Bellefontaine, OH, where another sister lived. We arrived with no money. She wasn’t expecting us and wasn’t particularly pleased to see us. But that and what followed are for another day.

So, yeah, I spent the night in the police station in North Syracuse, New York. And the funny ending to this tale is I will not be able to pick up my grandson from school because I will sorta be in the hospital that day – I will be having an MRI. They suggested I take Adavan to help me handle the close quarters of the MRI and, in the words of the lady helping me make the appointment, I “will be in la-la land all day.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

I made a fire and sang!

I made a fire tonight and while I was enjoying it these songs just rose within me and I began to sing. Join me!

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul
And all that is within me
Bless His holy name (2x)

He has done great things
He has done great things
He has done great things
Bless His holy name

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul
And all that is within me
Bless His holy name

<>< <>< <><

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
I'm redeemed, I'm redeemed
Praise the Lord!

<>< <>< <><

I was lost in sin when Jesus found me,
But He rescued me, all glory to His name!
And the cords of worldly pleasure bound me,
Till He saved me from sin and shame.

’Twas a glad day when Jesus found me,
When His strong arms were thrown around me;
When my sins He buried in the deepest sea,
And my soul He filled with joy and victory.
’Twas a glad day, O hallelujah!
’Twas a glad day He claimed His own.
I will shout a glad hosanna in glory
When I see Him upon His throne.

<>< <>< <><

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!