Friday, February 28, 2014

Not so dweeby...

This birthday card was not quite so dweeby, eh?

That's my nephew ... looking at the first image ever taken of him!  Going through all my files and papers and things had an extra sweet payoff.  I only wish I had the same for his older brother.

Sunday night, I watched the Daytona 500 and about near killed myself because I became so agitated when it looked like Dale, Jr. was actually going to win. [He did!] There I was, around midnight, excited over what was happening and yet worried because I was actively trying to remain calm since my heart was doing all sorts of flip flops and thundering in my chest and raging in my ears and thrumming down my arms into my wrists and hands. Over a silly NASCAR race!!   

I felt rather dweeby ... until I found this video.  Perhaps, I am not so dweeby after all!!

I sometimes felt dweeby because I like to send people psalms with their names written in them, the way that I pray them for others.  Apparently, writing people's names into the verses you share with them is not so dweeby after all!!

What remains undetermined, at the moment, is whether or not giddiness over a hoped-for-recipe turning out even better than you imagined filling my entire being and crowding out all thoughts and feelings whenever the subject of said recipe crops up is dweeby.

Since Marie was faced with a grumpy Myrtle two days in a row, I suggested that, before we got to cooking lunch, we make Bacon Cheddar Puffs.  I learned to make those before Marie moved back and thought she might want to add them to her larder.  Plus, who wouldn't want to start a day with bacon?

As for "lunch," if you haven't followed any of my culinary law commands yet,  go out and by the ingredients for Chipotle Chicken Chili right now.  Seriously.  Stop reading, get in your car, and get to shopping.  In fact, you might want to buy enough for a double batch.  Because I am certain that, having tasted your first pot, you will want to make a second.

Yes, I used my magical GREEN cast iron enameled dutch oven pot again.

You may, or may not, want to use as much cheese as I did when you serve up your bowl.  

I forgot to take a photo of both the pot and a bowl without the sour cream and cheddar cheese.  But I did take a good one of the Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Feta and Sumac:

My note on this recipe is that I would change it to mixing everything into the flesh and leaving the feta as is.  My reasoning for that change is that the feta did not melt the way it has for me in other warm recipes.  Still, I am very thankful to Becky for bringing me sumac.

What was also interesting about this recipe is that Marie recognized the smell of sumac.  We first Googled what it was and then images of it and then where it grows.  Sure enough, it grew where she lived as a little girl, playing in the Narnia she created with her sister.  How cool is that??

I was so very, very, very excited about finally getting to try the chili recipe that I completely forgot to choose a dessert for us to make.  Fortunately, I still have seven options of desserts in my freezer right now.  Marie made do with having another slab of the Double Chocolate Dr Pepper Cake.

Once Marie headed off to work, I called my friend Mary, to have a second chat this week about something on my mind and took her with me to the post office.  I mailed off six packages, some of which have been ready since January.  Mary is actually getting the last stash of teaching materials I found, but I also had two birthday cards and tiny treats and three packages of things from our family's past for some of my relatives.  For my brother's birthday, I pulled out all the photos I have of him from his youth, save for a few that I wanted to keep.  I purposely chose every single one where he was with our father, because the anniversary of my father's death has been hard for all of us.  I believe my brother will like his dweeby card simply for what comes along with it.  He was an adorable little boy, who grew up into a handsome dude.

I came home and texted Celia about the fact that the pads of two of my toes inexplicably really hurt, even just lightly touching the skin, and they were a bit red even though the rest of my foot is rather white ... before turning blue ... whenever exposed to cold air.  The part of me that thinks about how often they are blue wonders if I have skin damage from the Reynaud's flares.  But, after re-watching some Grey's Anatomy, I have diagnosed the problem to be phantom pain from the missing toes I would have had had I not been born into a fallen world.

After feeding Amos his dinner, I showered, worked on getting my feet really warm, and put on the thickest wool socks I have.  Then I set about giving myself a manicure.  Only I forgot. I forgot that I have a symphony performance tomorrow.  

I am fairly certain wearing GREEN nail polish to the symphony might be a tad scandalous ... or at least a bit garish.  I'm not taking it off, though.  After all, the jury is still out about my dweebiness.

How about this?


I am so thankful to Celia for helping me make a good decision for my well-being.  I have the chief conditions on the back, along with the class of medication that causes cardiac problems, my allergy to latex, and the two medications that are most likely to interact with drugs that might be given me in an emergency.

Finally, is it dweeby that I love that Amos likes to hold on to me even when he is sleeping??

I honestly do not care that his hanging onto my arm makes typing rather difficult.  Yes, I am besotted with my fluffy white puppy dog!

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Both Becky and Marie should be nominated for sainthood.  They are willing to brave Myrtle-in-the-morning.

Today, Becky helped me drag myself out of bed so that I could go help Marie with organizing (and some judicious reducing).  I am not a morning person.  Plus, I feel so awful when I get up, even if I do not faint at the change of position. Basically, I am a very, very, very grumpy person.  And I have absolutely no tolerance (or grace or mercy) for morning chipperness. By chipperness, I mean anything other than grunting.

Of course, I had an extraordinarily tasty lunch for my labors, but it was really, really, really, really, really great to be able to create order from chaos.  It is so very soothing to me.  My house has little left for me to do.  Truth be told, most of what I do could be called make-work.  So, having real work to do was a gift of mercy.  Tomorrow, when Marie comes over to cook, I am going to give her this bit of shelving that I have left over from my basement renovations in Alexandria.  [Yes, I moved it.  Yes, I am 99.99% sure of where it is in the basement here.]  If I am wrong about where it is, I shall fire up the circular saw and cut a piece of the scrap wood I have tucked up in the rafters of my garage.  After all, I do have some left over GREEN paint!

That bit of shelving will essentially double her vertical storage space in a key location.  My giddiness over that bit of organizing victory is somewhat dampened by the fact that I will not get to see it in place right away.  However, I would not be so selfish as to make her wait.  A photo will do for now.

I lost steam whilst I was still at Marie's house, but she didn't mind.  On the way home, I had to stop by Target for my prescriptions, since it is the first day of my new budget cycle.  I was so tired that I couldn't understand why the total was less than my budgeted amount.  I asked the pharmacist to check it twice, because I didn't want to take free medicine/steal medicine.  Finally, she was the one who reminded me that I have two off-cycle prescriptions from medication changes and two prescriptions (two bottles of Erythromycin) that I have to pick up at CVS still this month.  I sat in the parking lot for a while before driving home.

Once there, I wanted to crawl into bed, but Amos is a bit overdue for a bath.  We were both going through withdrawal having been separated all day, but he was a tad reluctant to climb into the tub.  However, he adores being swaddled afterwards.  Other than a brief visit with Michelle, Amos has been zonked out in my lap.  I did, in my fatigue, dump about half the lavender baby shampoo on him.  SIGH.  I guess that sweet smell will be wafting my way for a bit longer this time round.

Oh, how I savor a sweet-smelling, swaddled, snoring puppy dog!

On the morrow, Marie and I are trying this chicken chili I've been hankering to tackle for a while now.  Plus, we are going to cook with a new spice that Becky brought me:  sumac!  But first ... sleep!!

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nervous Nelly...

So, today, I was social.  The best thing you can say is that I vocally vomited bits of the Book of Concord all over my "guest."  SIGH.

Michelle wanted me to meet a friend of hers and I wanted to meet him, but then I didn't.  I really don't.  I want to not meet anyone ever again.  I want someone anyone new in my life to already have met me.  Yes, I haven't figure out how that could happen.  But I don't want to be social.  Ever.

Given that my definition of selfish is somewhat skewed (something I know but cannot really see myself), I felt incredibly selfish about the evening.  I chose everything for myself.  I had said she could pick whatever she wanted from the recipe rememberer blog, but she didn't.  So I did.

I chose Red Lentil Dahl, because it was the one thing I could cook fresh without having to dip into next month's budget.  I had a single onion left and everything else on hand.  Although, I will say it is getting increasingly difficult to use my bottles of stock because I now have just three left.  I asked Michelle to fetch a cauliflower, in part because that would be a proper sort of vegetable to serve with the dahl, but in part because I have been hankering to try and better the Smoky Roasted Cauliflower recipe.  I wrote it up how I thought it should be adjusted, but I actually had not tested it yet.  I must say, it was much, much, much tastier the second time round.  I definitely will be having this regularly.  The key, as I wrote on the recipe (which I updated a bit more), is the higher heat AND being very generous in the seasoning.  I was certain I had too much salt, by individually salting each floret, but it worked beautifully.

Because I really am trying to make it through March with ... ideally ... spending no more than $50 on groceries, I was very, very selfish and only thawed out a single Naan dough ball per person. I chose two of the largest balls and took the smallest for myself.  I felt smitten by my own selfishness when Michelle wanted more naan.  SIGH.  I should definitely have thawed out five, being prepared for my guests to have extra naan, because who wouldn't want extra naan???

For dessert, I chose the Peanut Peanut Butter Cookies, since I had two containers of dough left over from my measuring debacle at Sandra's birthday dinner.  Instead of offering them any of the current eight dessert options that are in my freezer, I was trying to have the whole dinner fresh made ... or at least fresh cooked with regard to the bread and dessert.  Besides, Michelle had never tasted the properly cooked peanut peanut butter cookies.  Last time I overcooked them and they were too hard. If cooked properly, they are crispy on the outside as you bite into them and then melt away in your mouth.  Simply sublime.

The other reason I chose the meal I did is that you can get everything to cooking and then very easily clean up the few dishes you made.  That way, after dinner, there are just a few things to hand wash, while the cups and plates and such can go into the dishwasher.  I literally spent less than five minutes cleaning up tonight.

So, I spent the day bemoaning how much I did not want to be social.  I planned a meal that would be easiest for me and cheapest to prepare. And I very slowly, resting in between tasks, readied the house, myself, the table, and then the meal.  Is that not selfishness??

I dusted and vacuumed the first floor. I had wanted to mop the kitchen floor, but I had to perform emergency surgery on my new Dyson.  Having successfully done so, I am even more in love with my new Dyson, because I was able to access every bit of the hose (including all the places it bends and turns) and completely take apart the offending piece (the hard part of the hose attachment).  After shining a light into one end, I was able to determine there was, indeed, a blockage in that part of the vacuum.  So, I took apart my Swiffer so that I could use the thin metal of the handle as a rod to insert into the hose attachment and knock loose what turned out to be a piece of plaster I must have sucked up when I was getting the basement ready for Michelle to come all those weeks ago.  About three inches of dust was compacted behind it.

I will note that I took out both filters and washed them before I figured out that I needed to preform the emergency surgery.  Even though my Southern genes were horrified at my decision, I left the two filters on the kitchen grate instead of tucking them away out of sight.  I needed them to dry before I forgot about them and used the vacuum again without putting them back.  Yes, I had a guest in my kitchen with vacuum filters drying on the grate in the floor.  GASP.

After the surgery was complete, I cleaned the half bathroom (which did not get used), fed Amos, watered the plants in the solarium (so I wouldn't worry about forgetting them later in my post social activity anxiety phase), baked the cookies, and got myself ready (i.e., put on clothes other than men's lounge pants and a hoodie, brushed my hair, powdered my face, and put on tinted lip gloss—my attempt at taking pride in my appearance instead of just wallowing in my constant exhaustion).

Next was to set the table, which involved opening the new candles I bought for the candlesticks since I had to co-opt candlesticks from another room for my Thanksgiving), and then un-setting the table once I realized that it was past time to do a round of Murphy's Oil Soap on the table top.  After it was set for a second time, I prepped dinner and get it started.  Michelle was gracious enough to not get offended over my decline of her help.  I wanted to be the only one cooking so I had no time for a single thought ... or pre-dinner social activity.

While I actually served dinner 15 minutes past time I had planned, for the very first time in my entire existence, I got everything to be ready at the right time!  Yes, I actually did!!  I timed the cauliflower just right and had the naan ready to go.  I was a bit late because I forget just how long it takes to get the griddle pan hot enough for the first piece of naan.  The rest cooked in just a couple minutes each.

The problem started after the blessing was said.  I started talking and never really stopped.  I was soooooooooooo nervous!  I even brought over both my laptop (to show the Book of Concord Snippets Blog) and my own copy of the Book of Concord.  SIGH.  Yes, I am still embarrassed.

Seriously, I never want to meet another person again.
I can offer a good meal, but am horrible at being a gracious host at the dinner table.

I will say that I awoke to a text from Electrician Man offering a barter for lunch since he was working in the neighborhood.  I really like bartering.  He brought me a junior bacon cheeseburger (no tomatoes with extra mustard) and I traded him Dr Pepper and dessert.  He caught me up on his family. I rehearsed what I learned in my catechesis lesson.  And Amos got to have a bit of non-Myrtle company.  He's far more social than I am ... if he considers you to be a safe person.

I will not discuss the look on Electrician Man's face when I told him I was having a guest for dinner.  Just because you are aware of how much I exactly fail at being social doesn't mean you need to remind me!  Especially if you are shoving Double Chocolate Dr Pepper Cake into your mouth at the time.  Despite his behavior, I sent Ben home with tasty treats for his lovely bride and cherubs.  Personally, I think his bride needs lots of treats for putting up with his proclivity toward rapscallion behavior.  I chose the Peanut Butter Honey Truffles since I believe they are great treats to offer kids, and what mom wouldn't want a healthy alternative for her kids???

I shudder at the thought of all that Book of Concord talk and another recap of almost all that I learned in catechesis.  I'm fairly certain Michelle's friend might need his hearing checked now.  I think the only good thing I did socially was that I managed to look her friend in the eyes at time.  Celia's husband was gracious about it, but back when they visited, I spent the whole time with my eyes downcast in shame/embarrassment/anxiety/awkwardness.  On that visit, I had diapers to change.  Diaper changing is oh, so socially soothing.  You can be a great host and have no social interaction at the same time!!

In case you were wondering, Michelle has a very kind, gracious, and merciful friend.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Those loving feelings...

In writing about the catechesis instruction, it struck me last night that a part of my fear about lacking faith or not really having faith has to do with it seeming to me that I do not have the same spiritual feelings as other Lutherans do. 

It is not just the adoration of the Small Catechism or the celebration of the Apocrypha or even the bowing, it is so much more. 
  • the ardent love for Lutheran hymnody 
  • the preference for written Lutheran prayers (which I appreciate and find helpful, but prefer the Psalter other than using the Offices of Prayer to pray with others)
  • the elevation/adoration/focus on the church fathers and their writings over and above the works in the Confessions and the Bible itself (especially when it comes time to reading and writing and discussing actual doctrine ... discussing doctrine via secondary sources rather than primary ones!!!)
  • the desire to have devotions materials instead of using the Bible and/or the Confessions
  • the adoration and use of icons and statues
  • the advocation for home altars
  • the focus on and excitement about the Saints (and all those holidays and festivals I don’t understand)

In short, none of my passions seem to match those of Lutherans, as do few of my feelings. I mean, there are churches in the LCMS (most of the ones in the DC area, for example) where the Lord’s Supper is monthly or quarterly … just not so important. It boggles my mind when the focus of faith is not receiving the Living Word and the Sacraments, but on activities and life styles and how to be a good Lutheran. 

So I am puzzled and … well … it seems to me that I am as dissociated as a Lutheran as much as I am a person.  I ask myself, how can I have faith if I don’t share or even understand all their faith feelings??

My active and daily study of the Book of Concord is weird.  My love and fervent desire to hear the Word of God is weird.  My wanting to pray with others outside of Divine Service is weird.


And none of those Lutheran loving feelings.  SIGH.

Other than thinking about feelings and faith, I dragged my very tired self over to Walmart, with the help of Becky, who stayed on the phone with me whilst I got dressed and drove there.  I had an appointment with the eye doctor.  He is changing my prescription.  Hopefully, the third time will be the charm.

When we were going through the examination, I thought a lot about what the cardiologist and his nurse said about working on being a better communicator and trust that I actually will be heard.  His nurse also said to try and use as many descriptive words as I could.  So, this time, during the exam I worked on vocalizing my thoughts/reasons for the answers I was giving him.  For example, when he asked me which was better, between two options, I told him that one had more contrast for me, between the light of the background and the black of the letters, but was not that much clearer.  Once I said that, he started working in another direction and gave me more options, such as showing me two lines of letters and having me talk about the difference between them.  

By communicating better, he was able to determine that I did need a higher strength in my left eye to better balance the change in my right eye.  He asked that I try to remember how I talked with him during this exam for when I showed up next year. I wanted to laugh out loud about the remembering, but I also silently gave thanks for the admonishment I received from the cardiologist and his nurse.  

Trying to use more descriptive words, trying to explain my thoughts and feelings not only has helped my cardiac care, but it has led to finally getting the catechesis instruction that I have longed for and and to getting to the heart of the problem with my new glasses ... a problem that has been dragging on for nearly two months.

While I have not yet got to any letter writing, I did start working on two loads of laundry.  I am nearly out of my cooking cloths (re-purposed older cloth napkin), all of my dish cloths were dirty, my bedding needed changing, and I am wearing my last pair of wool socks.

About the latter ... watching Fringe for the umpteenth time just helped me figure out why I keep seeing sparks all over the place.  In an early episode.  Walter shocks Peter to prove a point, and when he does, he comments, "Wool socks!"

Why Fringe  again?  Well, Sci-fi is bloody awesome.  But, honestly, I am drawn to shows where brokenness is still useful, even beautiful.  Where brokenness finds balance, even healing.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Charts are good...

Christ be praised!  The second "lost" check for the prescription premium with my insurance company, mailed January 29th has been cashed!!  This has been such a weight on my mind, and, thus, I am very, very, very thankful to have this closure.  I will not know until the second week of March if the automatic withdrawal is actually, really, and truly set-up, but I have asked them to confirm the withdrawal twice.  I am very much looking forward to no longer having to think about or worry about the premium payment.

Amos woke me up when the mailman was outside.  Normally, this doesn't happen.  I was a tad irritated, got dressed, and went downstairs.  I wanted to check the mail, though, because I used the great surge of energy stemming from Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s Daytona 500 victory to catch up on some overdue correspondence late last night.  After searching a third time, I FINALLY found the photos for one package that I had put aside until I got herbs from Becky so that I could mail both together, I made three birthday cards (dweeby ones), wrote three thank you notes, wrote five notecards, and readied two more packages for my trip to the post office once my budget cycles again on the 27th.  I still have a few more letters to write, but I wanted to make sure the mailman took all the cards I set out the night before.

When I checked the mail, I saw a certified mail notice for my renter.  Thinking of just how far away the microscopic package/mail pick-up place is and how long it took me to find it myself, I raced to my car and went searching the neighborhood for the mailman.  You see, this is a real issue of mine.  I try to solve problems that are not mine. I worry about things that are not mine to worry about.  And often this leads me to being abused by those who take advantage of my striving to please ... not that my renter had any notion of my panic since she is out of town.

Anyway, I found the mailman ... wearing my pajamas, without appropriate female undergarments, with my Breath Right strip still on, and with my sleeping mask perched atop my head.  Also ... without my driver's license.  I raced back to get my driver's license to prove my address and sign for what turned out to be a letter.  Yes, I was not able to get back to sleep after all that discombobulation and shame over my appearance and not trusting that it would have been perfectly okay with Michelle had I left her to fetch her own piece of mail.  Absolutely, okay.

This is a great flaw of mine, not that I am trying to be helpful, but that I think if I do not solve problems then I will not be liked or not be found to be a good person.  For example, a while ago Marie needed more mason jars.  It is far, far easier for her to fetch some, but I volunteered to pick them up, even though I was tired.

This stems from the words I have heard for years from my family about how I am ... selfish, need to be different so folk will like me ... seriously, nothing positive.  I've been friends with Becky for nearly two decades and I still marvel that she actually likes me.  I wonder at the gift of her friendship, of getting glimpses of how she sees me, for she doesn't see a selfish, unloveable person.

Yet I still try to solve her problems and do things for her ... just to be sure that she will continue to like me.  SIGH.  It's hard, now, that I cannot do much.  And yet she still does so for me.

For example, when Becky was here in August 2012, she bought these glass containers at Bed Bath & Beyond.   I had some glass ones that did not close well and hers had these nifty snap closures on all four sides.  So, I went back there and bought my own set of containers.  As I have written, I use glass now because plastic is porous and food stays fresher in glass.  With my fragile digestive system, fresher leftovers are much, much, much better for me.

Well, anyway, later on, I went back and bought a second set of glass containers.  The same box.  The same place.  The same price.  Only the two sets are slightly different.  The lids for one do not match the lids for the other.  I was constantly trying to find the right lid.  Flash forward to February 2014 and Becky is visiting again.  After mentioning the Great Trial of the Stupid Lids to my best friend, she takes out the containers and the lids and studies them until she is able to show me that the containers with an imprint on the bottom of them are the ones that match the lids that say "glass lock" on them.  Eureka!  MERCY!!

I tell Becky all the time that I have a far, far, far better best friend than she does.
Everyone should have a Becky in her life.
And a Mary.
And a Celia.
And a Marie.

People who like you just as you are and who shower blessings of mercy upon you.

I think that my Southern breeding and genetic tendency to desire to be a good host and the deeply ingrained picture of what a horrible person I am combine to push me toward sinful people-pleasing behavior instead of merciful serving your neighbor behavior.  I long for the freedom of the latter rather the bondage of the former.

Well ... back to charts.

Today was what I can truthfully say was my first official real catechesis lesson.  Yes, this has all been backwards ... my becoming a Lutheran.  Yes, I have been in anguish over the things in my mind for years.  Yes, I wish I had found a way to better communicate my fears, but, as my pastor bluntly said today, the fact that I study and love and know the Book of Concord so much gives an impression that I know what I should know and, thus, shouldn't need instruction.  It was only when I felt like I was standing naked in my email to both of them, that they finally understood.

For one, conversations about life are not catechesis.  For another, it is rather dangerous to make assumptions about anyone, much less about the teaching a Christian might have had in his/her life prior to joining a church, even in transferring from another Lutheran Church.  Plus, frankly, the words might be the same between the mainline evangelical church and the Lutheran church, but the meanings often are not.

Today, we started an examination of the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper.
And there was a chart.
Charts are good.
Very, very, very good.

Study, for me, is invigorating.  I am a study junkie.  However, proper catechesis, for me, is also  hopeful ... literally full of hope.  Hope is also invigorating.

Did I really understand yet what we covered today?  No, but I copied down the chart and I am confident that my pastor understands what frightens me and what I would like to learn.

There really are no adequate words to describe the first time I read in the Book of Concord that all Christians should be baptized and that baptism saves.  For I knew that I was not baptized.  I had a made a public confession of faith by a river, announced that I prayed the Jesus prayer.  That is not baptism.  From that moment on, the terror of knowing I was not baptized nearly consumed me, destroyed me.

What I have known, for a long while, is that I was not properly catechized. I was the smart ex-evangelcial to knew her bible and who read (and still constantly reads ... and adores) the Book of Concord.  But what I have learned is that you really cannot teach yourself.  And there are some very, very, very important differences in the meaning of words across denominations, such as salvation and sin and baptism.

Today, in the midst of studying something else, I was confronted with what it means to have the Word of God.  What it is to deny the Word of God.  And if you are denying it ... then do you actually have the Word of God?  I have much to think on this.  Because whilst I am struggling with the idea, it makes sense.  By this I mean, even the demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God, but they did not believe the Word of God, they did not have it.

I am terrified of Saul.
I am terrified of being Saul ... becoming him.
How could he lose faith?
How could he go from being a man of God to being the man the Holy Spirit left?
How could the Word of God not be with him?

For me, the anguish and the fear is not about believing enough but about what is belief.  And what is my confession?  To be frank, my whole life I have had men tell me what to think and what to do and how to be.  I listened to them and obeyed them even when it hurt me and even when it felt or seemed wrong.  Especially men in positions of authority.  Ones who abused that authority.  So, I don't want a pastor to tell me to trust him, I want to be taught without assumptions about what I do and do not know, what I do and do not believe.  I want to have a chance to discover what my confession is, what the Bible says and the Confessions say, rather that what someone tells me that they say.  I want to be clear about the doctrinal differences and the varying meanings behind the words used.  I think that what I believe is important, especially when it comes to membership and admission to the altar.

Specifically, in the case of the Lord's Supper, I struggle to understand how belief plays a role in the Sacrament.  I mean, if I am a doubting, struggling, anxious, feeble-faithed person, how does that affect the Sacrament?  What does it mean to take it worthily?  What is the judgement of the Sacrament?  How can Christians, if there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1), fall beneath the judgement of the Lord's Supper, take it to their harm?  Why do Lutherans not re-baptize folk because the Sacrament is the work of God but treat the Lord's Supper differently?  I understand the idea of altar fellowship, the idea of not publicly worshiping with those who are errant in their doctrine or do not believe the Word of God.  But I do not understand how the confession of a church determines whether or not the Lord's Supper celebrated is the body and blood of Christ.  This knowing that I do not really know or understand an important piece of Lutheran doctrine concerns me.

You know, one of my dirty little secrets is that, unlike pretty much every Lutheran I know, I do not love the Small Catechism.  I do not even like the Small Catechism.  Yes, I have admitted that before.  However, the truth is that I fear the Small Catechism. I am terrified of it.

  • To me, the Small Catechism is a collection of Law that I constantly fail, condemning me to unbelief and eternal death.
  • To me, the Large Catechism is a wooing of the sweet, sweet Gospel for me, bringing forgiveness, healing, and sustenance.

Take the final question of the Small Catechism with regard to the Lord's Supper:

Who then receives such Sacrament worthily?

Answer:  Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training.  But a person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, "Given ... and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."

But anyone who does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit. For the words "for you" require hearts that truly believe.  

[Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, 1st Edition, © 2005 Concordia Publishing House]

The words "require hearts that truly believe" terrify me.  I don't truly believe anything.  I have all sorts of doubts and anxiousness about anything that revolves around for me.  

As I have written before here and here, I prefer the Large Catechism...

But if you say, "How can I come if I feel that I am not prepared?" Answer, "That is also my cause for hesitation, especially because of the old way under the pope." At that time we tortured ourselves to be so perfectly pure that God could not find the least blemish in us. For this reason we became so timid that we were all instantly thrown into fear and said to ourselves, "Alas! we are unworthy!" Then nature and reason begin to add up our unworthiness in comparison with the great and precious good. Then our good looks like a dark lantern in contrast with the bright sun, or like filth in comparison with precious stones. Because nature and reason see this, they refuse to approach and wait until they are prepared. They wait so long that one week trails into another, and half the year into the other. If you consider how good and pure you are and labor to have no hesitations, you would never approach.

Therefore, we must make a distinction here between people. Those who are lewd and morally loose must be told to stay away. They are not prepared to receive forgiveness of sin, since they do not desire it and do not wish to be godly. But the others, who are not such callous and wicked people, and who desire to be godly, must not absent themselves. This is true even though otherwise they are feeble and full of infirmities. For St. Hilary also has said, “If anyone has not committed sin for which he can rightly be put out of the congregation and be considered no Christian, he ought not to stay away from the Sacrament, let he deprive himself of life.” No one will live so well that he will not have many daily weaknesses in flesh and blood.

Such people must learn that it is the highest art to know that our Sacrament does not depend on our worthiness. We are not baptized because we are worthy and holy. Nor do we go to Confession because we are pure and without sin. On the contrary, we go because we are poor, miserable people. We go exactly because we are unworthy. This is true unless we are talking about someone who desires no grace and Absolution nor intends to change.

But whoever would gladly receive grace and comfort should drive himself and allow no one to frighten him away. Say, "I, indeed, would like to be worthy. But I come, not upon any worthiness, but upon Your Word, because You have commanded it. I come as one who would gladly be Your disciple, no matter what becomes of my worthiness." This is difficult. We always have this obstacle and hindrance to encounter: we look more upon ourselves than upon Christ's Word and lips. For human nature desires to action in such a way that it can stand and rest firmly on itself. Otherwise, it refuses to approach. ~BOC, LC, V, 55-63 [emphasis mine]

I'll even take the Formula of Concord over the Small Catechism:

It must be carefully explained who the unworthy guests of this Supper are. They are those who go to this Sacrament without true repentance and sorrow for their sins, without true faith and the good intention of amending their lives. By their unworthy oral eating of Christ's body, they load themselves with damnation (i.e., with temporal and eternal punishments) and become guilty of profaning Christ's body and blood.

Some Christians have a weak faith and are shy, troubled, and heartily terrified because of the great number of their sins. They think that in their great impurity they are not worthy of this precious treasure and Christ's benefits. They feel their weakness of faith and lament it, and from their hearts desire that they may serve God with stronger, more joyful faith and pure obedience. These are the true worthy guests for whom this highly venerable Sacrament has been especially instituted and appointed. For Christ says:

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Matthew 9:12)

[God's] power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him; ... for God has welcomed him. (Romans 14:1-3)

Whoever believes in [the Son of God, be it with a strong or with a weak faith] may have eternal life. (John 3:15)

Worthiness does not depend on the greatness or smallness, the weakness or strength of faith. Instead it depends on Christ's merit, which the distressed father of little faith enjoyed as well as Abraham, Paul, and others who have a joyful and strong faith.
~BOC, FSD, VII, 68-71

How in the world do those two passages above match "require hearts that truly believe"?  SIGH.

Needless to say, in the catechesis lessons, we are not using the Small Catechism, but rather focusing on the things that I do not know (or the wrong assumptions).  With regard to the Sacraments, my pastor began my catechesis by using a chart to discuss the essence of the Sacraments and the benefits of them, as we compared Baptism and the Lord's Supper.  That helped me begin to better understand how the confession of a church comes into play with regard to the Real Presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the celebration of the Lord's Supper across denominations.

So, basically, I have much to think about until the next time.  I still want to read together more of the Formula Solid Declaration, Article VII, and I want to talk more about what it means to have the Word of God.  My homework is to read my parallel Gospel about the institution of the Lord's Supper.

In looking back over what we covered, I realized that I need to take better notes, because I am no longer the student I once was.  There are two things the pastor said that I am missing, but long to remember.  One had to do with the structure of the epistles.  He said that they first start with Jesus and then they follow with  ________, something along the lines of the life we have in Jesus, rather than the instructions of how to live life like Jesus.  Or maybe something else.  I cannot remember.

The second part had to do with passages such as "be anxious in nothing..."  The first bit was that it is important to put such verses in their context.  And, by context, he meant the entire epistle, instead of just the surrounding verses.  So, look at the whole of Philippians when thinking about 4:6.  But the second bit was that it is possible to read _______________ (a description for such verses) without hearing them as commands (since they are not meant as commands).

The one thing that I did write down and was so very thankful for today (other than the chart) is my pastor's help with Exodus 34:7 (here with verse 6 also), The LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindess for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."

My family has generations of sins and deep wounds, alcoholism, divorce, drugs, abuse.  I often think about that verse and wonder what that means.  What surprised me was that my pastor pointed out that God gave the Gospel answer, per se, in the Old Testament, in Ezekiel chapter 18, rather waiting for the New Testament.  We read through that chapter and talked about it.

The question arose because my pastor started out by saying telling me it was okay to ask about anything that came up ... and we were just reading a psalm as a way of beginning and ending the lesson with the Noon Prayer service (LSB 296).  Sin was in the second verse of the psalm we read (I forget which one [GASP] and sin has been greatly on my mind in myriad ways.  So, I asked about Exodus, learned about Ezekiel, and felt a bit of peace before we even began.

So, to stand naked here, to remember part of what I learned today, is to admit that part of the Real Presence that has bothered me is that I have no inclination to bow before the altar.  This worries me.  Do I believe in the Real Presence?  I do not know how to answer that.  And it scares me because I have answered "yes" as a part of being brought the Lord's Supper in my home.  My pastor suggested I put it another way:  Do I believe that it is Christ's body and blood?  Yes, I do, because He said it was/is.  But why then does the bowing sometimes bother me and why then do I not feel so moved to bow?  Why do the ... rather strong ... thoughts expressed about the horror of crumbs falling or wine splashing bother me?  

I have been thinking about those things, less wracked with guilt since my pastor said that is is okay that bowing makes me uncomfortable.  Instead of thinking myself a failure at reverence, I wonder if part of the bowing at the altar, especially before the words of institution, makes me feel as if that is the only place Jesus is instead of here with me, here with the Word.  I also believe that a God who sees me through His son is not a God who will rain judgment/discipline/punishment (and I know none of those words are the same) down on someone who spills Christ's body and blood somehow.  I know I am fumbling this, but there are many things about some Lutherans I have met that bother me. I know that it is the me part that is bothering, but I still struggle with it.  I struggle with the adoration of icons and fawning over statues of Mary.  I struggle with the online charge/admonishment to create a home altar.  I struggle with so very much bowing, as opposed to some bowing.  I struggle with not having the same feelings as other Lutherans do.

And yet there is not one iota of doubt or a smidgeon of incertitude regarding the benefits of receiving Christ's Body and Blood.  I know that I am given forgiveness, healing, peace, and sustenance.  I believe in the power and efficacy of the Word joined to the element.  I just am not moved to bow.  And that worries me.  It worries me that I am not reverent and am lacking in faith because when you ask me what I believe, I am not sure and wish only for you to ask me what Jesus said and, therefore, what I know to be true.

Does that make sense?
It's okay if it doesn't.

It's okay because both of my pastors understand and support me in not taking the Lord's Supper until I am ready, not matter how deeply I long for it, because both of my pastors understand and support my longing for proper instruction on things that really and truly do matter.

Charts are good.
Think about the essence and the benefits.
Reflect on what is being proclaimed or denied in the Words/words of the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

And you know what else?  My pastor only smiled when I blurted out (whilst ticking off the benefits of the Lord's Supper for him as he wrote them out the chart) that I am torn between which is the best part of the Divine Service:  A) hearing the Word of Absolution for me or B) seeing the elevation of Christ's Body and Blood and hearing the declaration of Christ's peace for me.  He didn't laugh at me.  He merely smiled and said that he like those parts, too.  Agreed that those are the good parts.

He said it was a good lesson, that I asked good questions, and that this is a good thing we are doing.  And I awarded myself brownie points (i.e., a Dr Pepper) for working hard to keep my questions on point—despite being given carte blanche permission on asking questions—and for greeting with alacrity his proposal to table two questions for later so that we might be orderly in the instruction.

March 10th, Lord willing, is the next lesson.

Do I think that my anxieties and doubts and worries are all going to disappear by the time we are done?  Nope.  I have a  neurological disease that makes such impossible, and, even if that were not the case, I am also a sinner.  Do I believe, for the first time, that hope—real, honest-to-goodness-hope in Christ—is possible for me?  I do now.

I do now.

Why?  I do now because, when I blurted out my terror and despair over three counselors telling me that, because of my past, I am most likely never to be capable of trusting (and even loving), my pastor replied that they were talking about psychological trust and that spiritual trust is not the same.  He didn't explain.  It was okay that he didn't explain.  He will teach me, show me in the Bible, when it is time for that.

Charts are good.
And I have hope.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The real world...

I have tried to be genteel here, in my online rememberer, for the twelve and a half years I have been writing.  However, there really are no genteel words for some of the parts of my life now.  Definitely none for yesterday.

I pooped in my pants.

Incontinence is something that I have been facing on a very small scale for a while now.  Control is something that I know I would have to eventually face.  And, for the most part, I have been able to take this particular change in my life with a grain of salt.  Of course, living by myself, there is no one here to see me running to the bathroom ... running or waddling whilst trying to keep my legs pressed together.  But yesterday was different.

I pooped in my pants.

That alone was enough to leave me in tears the day long.  But to rub salt in my wound, after spending a large amount of time and effort trying to clean myself up, I somehow managed, in my fatigue, to put back on my poopy underwear, rather than the clean pair I had brought to the bathroom.

Truly, there are no word for how I felt at the moment I realized what I had done.

I cried and cried and cried.  And I texted the two people I felt I could tell.  Each answered with mercy.  And that, really, is why I am writing.  I hope to remember their replies.

Becky has learned well how much I need to hear that how I feel is okay.  She has become rather skilled at saying "it's okay" in many and varied ways.  Yesterday, she acknowledged the heart of the burden of what happened.  Or at least one part of that burden:  how hard it is for me to face change.

My body is changing.
My life is changing.
I feel as if I am changing.

Celia's mercy addressed the latter more specifically:  Your personhood is not dictated by your abilities.  It is not fun, not fair, but the PERSON you are is still beautiful even as your body fails you.  WE live in a fallen world and it treats us accordingly.  But you are forgiven.  From a secular perspective, you are still my amazing friend Myrtle no matter which underwear you wear.  Even if they are blue with orange polka dots that totally clash or a bad shade of GREEN.

Yes, I am the daughter of an interior designer.  My underwear matches my clothing choices.  Even men's hoodies and lounge pants.  Celia made me laugh and both of my friends helped me to get through the awfulness of yesterday.

I shudder at the thought of the day coming where I will no longer be able to wear underwear.  The thought of wearing adult diapers horrifies me.  So indignant.  So shameful.  Critical thoughts from attitudes that are not filled with mercy and grace.

I am not there yet.  I know that and take comfort in it.  But I do have to be more careful than I already am.  And I know that yesterday was not the last time I am going to poop in my pants.

I wrote my friends that I do not want to be the person I'm becoming.  I do not know how to see myself apart from the condition of my body and my mind.  It is there that I need the greatest mercy and grace.

The anxiety and the rather unexpected squeamishness are most particularly difficult to bear.  I cannot bear to see dead animals. I cannot read or watch real world cruelty.  Mess and chaos distresses me.  And bit of food in the sink causes me to first think of vomit and then battle to keep my own vomit from spewing into the sink.  There are a gazillion instances of how small things set off the anxiety and the oddest things set off the squeamishness.

Yes, that means I cannot bear the thought of putting my underwear into the washing machine until it has been cleaned.  Yet I cannot figure out how I could actually clean it myself.  How, odd, that, really, since I grew up in a world where babysitting meant that you dealt with lots and lots and lots of poopy cloth diapers.  I used to be rather efficient in dealing with them.  Now, I mostly want to throw out my underwear.  But that isn't really a solution for me.

Today has been rough, with that balled up mess tucked in the corner of the bathroom.  It has been rough because my heart rate and blood pressure have been particularly low, as if I have not had a dose of theophylline in weeks. It has been rough because any change in posture, thus, has sent my heart racing and my blood pressure skyrocketing.  It has been rough because my puppy dog is fighting his own battle with poop.

I realized just a short while ago that the reason he is refusing to walk on the bare ground along side the garage is because the snow is no longer covering the pile of poop right there where the sidewalk meets the day lily bed.  His pathway to where he has been tending his major business is blocked.

The contracted snowbank has crusted over a bit, between the rainfall and still freezing temperatures at night.  Amos has learned that if he walks very, very, very carefully, with his paws splayed wide, he can venture out on to the snowbank to tend his business.

His puppy momma needs to gird her loins and clean up the ground at the corner of the garage.  She also needs to clean up the corner of her bathroom.  The truth is ... there's no one else.  She has to take care of that which she would rather avoid because there's no one else to do so.

I am thankful for a puppy dog who wipes the tears from my eyes.
And friends who speak mercy.
Even when I poop in my pants.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Having my cake...

Yesterday, Marie let me have my cake and eat it, too.

I didn't want to think. I didn't want to plan. I wanted to visit with her and even cook, but did not have the energy to plan for us.  Since I knew she was low on her freezer meals, I proposed that she haul all her groceries over here and cook.  I sweetened the deal by telling Marie that she could choose anything from my freezer to thaw and eat for our lunch.

Yes, I gulped when speaking those words.  You see, I was certain she would choose the beef stew.  Much to my surprise, Marie chose the Vienamese curry.

Since she chose curry, Thursday night I thought I would whip up another double batch of naan dough.  Only, well, I forgot. I forgot that naan is a three-hour rise time.  I started the naan at 11:38 PM and did not remember the rise time until after I started mixing all of the ingredients.  SIGH.

The worst part was that I had to do some crazy quick math, too.  You see, being a bit tired, I did not actually start by reading the recipe.  Instead, I filled a measuring cup with two cups warm water, two teaspoons yeast, and two teaspoons sugar.  It was only after I dumped the activated yeast mixture into my bowl of sifted, flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar that I read the recipe called for 3/4 cup water, not a full cup. I was a half cup too much on my liquid.  I guestimated what I would need to make up with the rest of the ingredients, finished mixing together the dough, covered it, and set it aside.

I confess that, at the two-hour mark, I peeked beneath the damp towel to see if was even rising was taking place.  It was!  WHEW!

Marie was able to make and freeze sixteen servings from three dishes and whip up a batch of cranberry cornbread muffins during her visit.  I had the blessing of her company.  And we both had tasty food ... with naan that was surprisingly light and fluffy despite my measuring mistake.  [Man, that curry is my new favorite chicken dish!!]

Before she left, Marie sang Vespers with me.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My take...

My take on the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) it that it has not helped me in a single way. In fact, it has only hurt.  Today, I read an article that disheartened me more than any other regarding that wretched piece of legislation.  Seriously??  Seriously, you want to make cuts to a successful program that gives better access to healthcare and makes that healthcare more affordable for those on Medicare???

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Seriously, what a way to crush the chronically ill, the disabled, the poor.

What most people do not seem to know is that those extra coverage plans that you can buy to fill in the gaps of Medicare coverage, Part C plans oft known as Medigap coverage are only available to seniors.  I cannot get any more coverage until I am 65.  Do you want to know what is one of the most ludicrous restrictions I have come across in Medicare?  I am only allowed a cholesterol and lipids blood work panel once every five years.  The leading cause of death for women—more than all cancers combined—is heart disease.  A simple, non-invasive diagnostic tool is only available under coverage every 5 years.  SIGH.

I save thousands of dollars on co-pays and prescriptions by having a Medicare Advantage plan.  Yes, with the increased costs of medical coverage brought about by the AHA, I now have a monthly premium for the prescription coverage, increased prescription co-pays, and a more restrictive formulary.  But I have prescription coverage.

When I stopped by my GP's office the other day, her nurse was commenting on the flood of prior-authorizations they are having to do for all plans, not just Medicare.  I have heard absolutely nothing positive about the AHA from any of the medical personnel and their support staff whom I see.  From my end, it has only made access to medical care more restrictive and more expensive.  Clearly, the disabled on Medicare have no need of affordable health care.

I will say that the one part of the AHA that absolutely boggles my mind was somehow raising the threshold of out-of-pocket medical expenses one must pay before there are any tax deductions is helping make healthcare more affordable.  And, if my math is right, the AHA raised that threshold by 33.33%, from 7.5 percent to 10 percent.  If you want to make healthcare more affordable, LOWER the out-of-pocket spending threshold.  SIGH.

To me, a law with an objective of making healthcare more affordable should not have the end result of making it less affordable for those with healthcare.  Truly, this article about my limited healthcare being next in the crosshairs of the president of our country has left me deeply discouraged and profoundly worried.

As my friend Mary would be saying to me right now:  Come, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly!

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Exhausted is the new Myrtle...

A part of me is wondering if how exhausted I am is some sort of new normal.  Of course, I could blame the exhaustion partly on the pharmacist (innards writhing is still my nightly battle) and partly on Magellan.  Yes. I tried.  The directions were flawed.  In short—to spare you the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth—it is not possible to update Maggie on a new MAC. I need an old one.  And, thus, I did not need to buy that micro SD card.  SIGH.

I worked out some of my upsettedness and distracted myself from my innards last night by spending eons painstakingly entering in the most common destinations in my life into the One-Touch buttons on my GPS.  Maggie was not feeling any love for me, but she mostly cooperated.

And then, today, having nothing more than nap and try to make a decision on a medical ID bracelet I decided that even though I did not actually need to make any more muffins yet, I would.

These strawberry muffins are just marvelous!

In my opinion, the recipe is slightly off for 12 muffins.  Look at how humongous these are!  And ... well ... there was still enough batter left in the bowl for someone (who shall remain nameless) to lick enough batter that would have filled another cup.

I happen to think that they also look a bit uncooked, but they are not. I did use the full 30 minutes, since they are so big.  But when I stuck a toothpick in the center of six of them (I was not really trusting the toothpick because of their appearance) it came out clean each and every time.  I used the ultra grain (hybrid flour) with these.  And, when I sampled the culinary endeavor, the muffin was fully cooked inside.

Oh, the taste of fresh strawberries in a muffin!!

My dilemma at the moment is: 1) eat the rest of the fresh strawberries or 2) make another batch of muffins.  I think I might just assume that there are not quite enough strawberries left to fill a measuring cup and eat them fresh on the morrow for breakfast.  Sounds like a good idea, eh?

This is the first time that I have ever cooked with almond extract.  Part of me was wondering why almonds do not taste as good as the extract smelled.  Another part of me wondered what would happen if I simply switched out the almond extract for Amaretto....

So, really, other than napping, you are looking at my sole accomplishment of the day.  Really, it is actually a rather large accomplishment, if you think about it.  You see, I only ate one of them.  Ten others are in the freezer and the twelfth is waiting for Michelle to come back from choir practice.  It is her birthday today.

[Sharing tastiness that you would rather keep all for yourself is much, much, much easier when it is someone's birthday.]

In case you were wondering, the Great Melt of 2014 did not materialize.  We had a bit of intense rain this morning, but then it was primarily dry all day.  Only one channel in the basement had a bit of water.  Amos is still hindered in his major business by mounds and mounds and mounds of snow in the back yard.  And we have but two more days of above-freezing temperatures before heading back down toward single digits at night.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Holy Cow...

Holy cow!  I have access to Luther's Works again!

After bemoaning the lack of access on my blog a while ago, a reader suggested I try Logos.  Everything I read, though, seemed to say that I would need to buy the base program.  Buy.  As in spend money.  Given that I am still not over the shock of having spent $200 on Luther's Works back when I was still working, the thought of spending any money on technology for ... oh ... maybe two years is a bit despairing to me.  So, I set aside hope.  Then, I was bemoaning again about Luther's Works to a friend who reminded me that the MAC world operates on apps as well as software.  Last night, I found the free MAC Logos app and downloaded it to my computer.  Today, I girded my loins and installed it to see what would happen.

Then I tried to create a Logos account.

After weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, I girded my loins once more and actually called the 1-800 Logos number.  It turns out that the reason I could not create an account was that my Libronix account was co-opted (okay ... acquired) by Logos without my knowing it.  A simple password reset was the obstacle to getting the app installed.

Then ... magic happened.
Real magic.
True magic.

Yes, folks, all I had to do was sign in and every single one of my Libronix licenses was verified, registered to the new app, and then downloaded to my computer!!!!!  Holy Cow!!

I have Luther's Works.
I have The Lutheran Study Bible.
I have CPH's Book of Concord.
I have Tappert's Book of Concord.
I even have the King James Bible with the Apocrypha.

Being an ex-evangelical, the latter creeps me out so much that I wish I did not have it in my program.  Right now, just typing that gives me the heebie-jeebies.  You see, evangelicals see the apocrypha as something akin to the number 666.  Or thereabouts.  SHUDDER.

Do you know what gave me the impetus to do all that girding of loins?  [Yes, you guessed it.]  Organizing, reducing, and donating!

You see, the insurance company called to say that the new hormones are now authorized and I will not have to pay cash for them any more (I need 18 packs a year to stay on them daily).  I also got emails back from both the cardiologist nurse and the female surgeon nurse (I discovered she was on the same system) thanking me for setting up the account and checking in with them.  I am on Day Three of the "danger zone" and there has been no weeping or insensibility or Niagara Falls of emotion.  The Zofran helped mute the nausea quite a bit.  And I have an instruction lesson set for Monday with my pastor.

All that good news and hopefulness is disconcerting to me, so I had a hankering to do some organizing, reducing, and donating.

I just knew there was more work that could be done in the utility closet!  I found some more things to discard, three items to donate, and an un-used 25 foot water line for an ice maker that Electrician Man said that he could use.  I worked on the ancient cabinet on the left, too.

After over three years, I also got around to hanging up my fire extinguisher!

If you look carefully at the photo, you will see that it is mostly charged.  Mostly ... because I tested it out to see if it was still working.  A properly hung fire extinguisher is both cockle warming and distress soothing.

In hanging the fire extinguisher, I discovered an added fillip to the installation of the outlet for the freezer.  I was able to plug in the charger for the drill and recharge the battery without leaving it resting on the counter or the dryer in the laundry area or at the GREEN table by the bookshelves (where available outlets are).  I really, really, really like having an outlet in the utility closet and can think of many uses for it, besides charging up my drill.

Whilst working, I did realize that I forgot to ask Becky and her mother if they needed any stacking wire mesh shelving.  As you can see, I still have lots and lots of it, even after filling up the second closet in my bedroom to accommodate my hoodies and men's lounge pants with a bunch of shelves!

Part of my work was to ensure that all the channels are clear since the morrow will be bring both significantly higher temperatures and several inches of rain.  I sent an email to Michelle to check the channel in her closet.  I know that much of Fort Wayne is concerned about flooding.  Since Firewood Man did not get a chance to extend the downspout drainage pipes to sidewalks before the ground froze, I am expecting full channels for at least tomorrow, if not Friday, but I am not worried about flooding.  Instead, I give thanks, again, for whomever thought to design the basement floor the way it is.

Since all my firewood is now gone (SNIFF, SNIFF), I also completely cleaned out the fireplace.  Sometimes with really strong storms, I get some drippage in there.  Firewood Man is going to eventually put a cap on the chimney for me, but he does have this fear of heights.  So, basically, that task has been moved to the very end of all the little things I would like for him to help me with around the house.  I told him that if he would just load me his hammer drill, I would climb out the attic window and walk up to the chimney myself.  He doesn't seem to think that is a good idea.

Anyhow, the lingering tasks before me, since I procrastinated girding my loins on the Logos stuff by cleaning the powder bath, particularly scouring the sink, are to file an appeal of my denial for a tier exception for the Celebrex (to see if it can be less of a co-pay) and to attempt to download the Magellan software to the MAC and then update the maps on Maggie (my GPS).  I would give anything ... even some of my beef stew with beer ... if someone would do this for me. The instructions seem so very complicated.  SIGH.

I also took out the trash and the recycling, only slipping on the ice twice.  To me, it seems like I am doing that task far more frequently than usual.  But I suppose with two people in the house that would be the case.  And, for a while, there were four folk here with things to throw away and recycle.  Anyway, Friday is the bi-weekly recycle collection, so I wanted to ensure the kitchen trash can and the porch bin was emptied.

Is it weird that I am get giddy over the fact that I finally discovered the problem with the calendar and so now get these wonderful reminders every other week about recycling and, thus, no longer have to study the very confusing chart on the city website??

My phone alarms and phone/computer synced calendar beep at me every day, several times a day, telling me to do this and that.  Others might think they are nagging me, but I am so very thankful for the memory helps.  I even have a bi-weekly reminder, now, about watering the plants in the solarium. All the succulents are so very, very happy in there, with all that sunshine despite the cold temperature.  All of them have grown significantly, especially my string of pearls!!!

Sadly, the airing porch door somehow blew open and zapped my giant spotted begonia.  She was sorely afflicted and had to have significant surgery.  I did start rooting the three main stalks I trimmed back to even out her appearance.  Poor thing.  The solarium is supposed to be a safe spot for her.

[Should I mentioned that I figured out how to use my free NASCAR app to put reminders on my calendar of all the upcoming races??  I just got a reminder about the Budweiser Duels that are on tomorrow night!!]

Oh, yes, in between my two naps today, I also thawed out a package of my marinating-in-the-freezer steak for beef jerky.  Maybe I shouldn't try to tackle both cooking the jerky and the Magellan software at the same time??  That would be too much stress, right?  Right??

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If I could change one thing...

If I could change one thing at the moment, it would be to somehow remember the Zofran.

I have been battling nausea for two days, huge violent waves of it.  I only just took a pill.  I mean, I don't have the namby-pamby 4 mg dose.  I have the full-guns-firing 8mg dose.  I showered, which sometimes helps me feel a bit better with innards misery, and then took the Zofran and poured a Ginger Ale to sip.  I have been suffering for two days without remembering that I have the Zofran.  SIGH.

I have still not recovered from missing those doses of Erythromycin.  Last night, again, I was writhing most of the night.  It is very, very, very hard to have charitable thoughts about the pharmacist.  This is especially so since I actually watched a bottle being mixed.  First you shake it to get the power all lose.  Then you put in half the water and shake it.  Then you put in the second half and shake it.  I simply cannot fathom how a pharmacist could hand over a bottle with all the powder adhered to the bottom third of the bottle.  And, because I am me, I am finding difficult to have charitable thoughts about not noticing the lack of proper mixing before I took a dose.

Today, however, Target called about the new dosage of Erythromycin arriving, despite the snow, so I dragged myself out of my pajamas and fetched it.  Since I was out, I also had the blood work done and stopped by my GP's office to speak with the nurse about some Medicare paperwork.  I thought a message would be too complicated.  When I came home, I set up the email account that the cardiologist wants and sent my first message.  All my homework was accomplished.

Marie called me whilst she was washing dishes and cleaning up.  Oh, what a blessed distraction.  For over two hours, I could concentrate on her cookies endeavors and food and tutoring and the delight of she and her husband being here through the end of next Spring since Paul is getting a graduate degree.  All sorts of things having nothing to do with the waves of nausea tossing me about in this mortal existence.

So, here I am, hoping Zofran and Gingerale and further doses of Erythromycin will right my innards world.  Soon.  Soon and very soon.

I am Yours, Lord. Save me!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Remind me of this day...

I am still very, very, very  poor at identifying emotions, but I actually think I might be feeling hope ... deep hope.

While I had to drive home in near whiteout conditions, nearly scaring me to death, I made it to the cardiologist appointment.  Honestly, I was admonished and happily so.  What I didn't really understand is that he has other dysautonomia patients and he understands the wonkiness.  I truly failed to communicate the problems I was having with the now officially diagnosis theophylline toxicity.  For had I done so, he would have worked me in immediately.  However, he also apologized to me for failing to keep in contact and for letting so long a time go by without reaching out to make sure I was doing okay.

The three things that are most important to me are what comprise the targets of his action plan.  The first is to find a level of theophylline that will keep the nighttime asthma attacks cropping up here and there and help with the fainting, but also to not have the symptoms I cannot tolerate.  The second is to see if there is a blood pressure medication I can take at low doses to help bring down some of the really high numbers and narrow the too-wide pulse pressure.  The third is to address the fluid retention in my legs and the weight gain.

What really sold me is that he said we needed to develop a treatment protocol for an asthma attack when I am well so that in an emergency, the medications that I can no longer tolerate will not be given.  I have been genuinely worried about what would happen if I had to go to an emergency room and I was given albuterol.  Since any sort of stress now sends my heart rate and blood pressure rising up, I shudder at the thought of adding drugs that do the same at the same time.

I was also given the instructions for setting up an account and will be checking in via email once a week or so.  Truly, when the LC speaks of the goodness of God being an overflowing fountain, I thought of being in the room.

Especially, this came to mind because I asked to see the nurse first, so I could rehearse what I wanted to say with her.  And since I was a work-in appointment, late after the office had actually closed, the cardiologist came straight in.  I had to talk directly with him.  Afterwards, the nurse said she was glad it worked out that way so that I could learn to trust that he will listen to me.

Maybe, really, the bestest part was that the cardiologist said that symptoms are really more important than a physical exam when it comes to dysautonomia patients.  He did feel my legs and ankles, but primarily he concentrated on the symptoms.  He said that I will still have good days and bad days, but maybe we could make the bad days more bearable.


I was able to get the CVS pharmacy manager to replace the improperly mixed erythromycin.
I am going to get some instruction about the spiritual things that have been distressing me.
Day One of my cycle held no hormone surges or Niagara Falls of emotion for me.

Heaps of mercy.

My friend Celia very kindly mentioned to me that I ought to get a medical alert bracelet.  As I typed that, it strikes me that she might possibly mentioned that to me before and, tonight, kindly did not point out my forgetting the need.

Did you know that you can get a medical alert bracelet with bling???  I like the idea, but wonder if the bling would keep medical personnel from noticing it. Here is all GREEN bling that can be added to an engraved plate.  I found a plain Jane one that was GREEN, though.  What I like is that I could get a cross charm to go on it.  I no longer wear my cross 24/7 because of this weird feeling-like-I-am-choking-thing that happens when I have things near my neck.  I have missed it.  I would like to have a cross on me all the time again.  However, I think a bangle one would be the least noticeable on my wrist if I wore it 24/7, but it has very little room for medical notes.  You're supposed to have a medical alert wallet card, too, I think.

Anyway, her interaction with me about styles and such was a gentle reminder about taking this life of mine seriously.

That was the admonishment I received at the cardiologist, in a way.  The cardiologist told me that it was good I stopped taking the theophylline when I did and made do with a half dose when I realized I wasn't safe without it.  But he also asked me if I were not able to help myself, would I actually ask for help.  It was a kind and gentle question to point out I should have asked for help.  His nurse also pointed out that it seemed to her I need to work more on it being okay with me that I am how I am, instead of trying to be what I will never get back to being.  It took me a long while to understand what she was saying, but recently I admitted to someone that I came to the conclusion that it was okay that I am not over my fear of large dogs and terror of pit bulls.  Some things about me will get better, but some, given the anxiety brought on by Dystauonomia, will not.  In other words, the PTSD is better, is somewhat managed.  But I will always be an anxious person now.  Period.  That will not change, baring some great medical miraculous breakthrough in a field where very, very, very research is being conducted.

It was a wild day.
A merciful day.
A day in which I was also reminded that I am not the only one who misses Texas.  And Texas food.

And, yes, Firewood Man is coming on the morrow to dig me out again.  Shoveling the rather large amount of snow that unexpectedly fell today is not something I should be doing.  And it is okay if I choose to wait on the blood work until the roads are clear.  It is okay to say that one spate of driving on the snow is enough for me to have to face.

It's okay.
It's okay to be afraid.
It's okay to be ill.
It's okay to want to hear that I am forgiven.
It's okay.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

An ill wind...

'Tis an ill wind that blows no good.  I think I understand that a bit better after the past few days.  Mostly, because Monday marks four weeks from the last cycle meltdown and I am still feeling fairly clear, twelve days on the new medication.  I am afraid to hope that it was actually the new formulation that I was forced to switched to at the end of last summer when Loestrin was taken off the market rather than a conflict with the Erythromycin.  I know that Erythromycin can render the birth control part of the drug ineffective, but what I need is the hormone balancing effect.  Of course, if that is the case, then I really do think changing a formula of such a tiny pill to make it chewable is downright stupid.  That's what the manufacturer did.  Loestrin's patent ran out, so it was pulled and reformulated to chewable and renamed Minestrin.  SIGH.

The reason I am daring to think the Larin (my new hormones medication) might be working because I have had to face two really difficult situations in the past few days and I did not weep once.  Shocking, I know.

First, I did my taxes and got punched in the stomach, so to speak, with a $5,600 tax bill.  The probono financial advisor was right to withdraw the retirement to pay off the mortgage I cannot afford.  However, even after careful study, I failed to grasp two important tax implications:  1) since retirement is considered income, I not only had to pay taxes on the retirement, but I also had to pay taxes on the previously un-taxed disability and 2) the percentage of medical expenses (which our president inexplicably RAISED the deductible threshold from 7.5% to 10%) is actually applied toward the retirement as well as the disability.  So, whereas last year I was able to deduct all of my medical expenses since they were more than 50% of my "income," this year I was only able to deduct a tiny fraction of what I spent.   Hence, the rather large tax bill despite the fact that when I made the withdrawal, I had $4,250 in taxes taken out.

I freaked out. I gnashed my teeth.  I spend HOURS trying to do math. And then I withdrew enough from my retirement to cover the shortfall this year and next, since I will be in nearly the same boat next year.  Next year, in fact, I won't have any mortgage interest to deduct, so I should owe approximately $6,000.  In my frenetic problem solving, I first set up the withdrawal to send all of what I will own April 15, 2015 now.  But then I thought about that and decided to simply withdraw all of the tax money and stick it in my savings account.  The math was to figure out how much addition I would need to take out beyond the $11,600 I would need since that $11,600 would be taxable.  My math came up with $14,000.  So, that amount is now sitting in a brand new savings account ( I LOVE ING Direct ... even if the name changed).  I will have two months to earn interest on the $5,600 due this year and 14 months to earn interest on the $8.400 next year.  My math is worst at interest calculations, but it should be somewhere around $75.  Smart, eh?

Every. Single. Penny. Counts.  Oh, how my life has changed!

What terrifies me is that I am down to 25% of what I had in my retirement account just three years ago.  SIGH.

The second difficultly was last night.  I picked up the Erythromycin, took a dose, and thought it tasted strange.  Since it was not yet refrigerated, I figured I was just imagining things.  Six hours later, I took my next dose, and though it also off.  By this time, my stomach was started to cramp and bloat.  I had been 12 hours since my last real dose.  You see, I finally realized that the pharmacist did not mix up the Erythromycin.  I turned the bottle upside down and there was a gap between all the now petrified power at the top (bottom of the bottle) and the water at the bottom.  Of course the pharmacy was closed.

Becky's mother used to work at a pharmacy, so after trying to not become overwhelmed at the thought of the innards misery heading my way, I called her.  Bonnie suggested that I try a 24-hour CVS in the area, since it was a CVS prescription.  Brilliant idea!

I did.  The pharmacist had only a one-week bottle, but offered to give it to me, since mine could not be reconstituted properly since I had taken two extremely watery doses.  He gave me directions, but the street I was to take was closed.  So, I drove around for about a half hour, trying to find a street I knew.  I got the medication and took it immediately.  However, I still spent the night writhing on the bathroom floor.  SIGH.

When I called the pharmacist who failed to mix up the prescription today, to let him know that I needed another week's supply, he insisted he mixed it up.  I was still too ill and exhausted to even argue with him.  I simply announced I would be there tomorrow to get a new bottle, after my cardiologist appointment.

My cardiologist appointment that I've missed thrice and am determined to get to no matter what.  My cardiologist appointment that is on a day whose forecast has shifted from warm temperature and rain to more SNOW.  I cannot fathom how I am going to drive to the other side of Fort Wayne in a snow storm, but I am not going to miss this appointment.  Then, I shall show up at CVS for my prescription re-do.

Right now, I am having my last fire.  SADNESS.

Firewood Man did not have a chance to try and dig out some wood from the snowbank.  Given that after my cardiologist appointment, on Thursday the Great Melt of 2014 is scheduled to begin.  Warm temperatures, rain, sunshine, rain, more sunshine ... and on and on.  Whatever wood there is in the snowpack is going to be unusable for eons.

So, if I am not weeping over such an overwhelming tax bill, innards misery caused by a pharmacist's error, and the end of fires until next fall, could it be that the Larin is working as well as the Loestrin??  Could it be that the winds that buffet one about, bring trial and travail, can also still bring good?

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Made it twice...

Cookin' with Marie was so darned tasty that I actually made the dish again tonight, so that I could have a batch in the freezer.  Oh, my!  Tastiness sublime!

Marie emboldens me, gives me the courage to consider recipes I would have thought out of reach.  Today, we cooked Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes.  SIGH.  As I said, I liked it so much that I made a second batch ... and I had it for dinner, too!

The recipe has several changes to accommodate both an allergy and preference, but the end result made Marie's eyes widen with her first bite.  That's a sure sign the recipe is a winner.

I spent quite a bit of time Googling a non-seafood substitution for fish sauce.  After much reading and comparison, the product that rose to the top is Golden Mountain® Seasoning Sauce.  This bottle came from

For many of the recipes on my want-to-make list have odd ingredients, primarily because they are cultural foods.  For this recipe, I failed to track down chili paste.  However, another recipe called for garlic chili sauce, and the bottle I got is Vietnamese, so that was my substitute.

On the topic of odd cupboard items, it took me over two months to track down Thai yellow curry paste.  I finally did, but now need to track down the recipe I planned to try that required the Thai yellow curry paste.  SIGH.

I thought that since this is such a wonderful dish, I would post a few progress photos, just in case anyone wanted to try it.  I will note, however, that the original recipe did not have a photo, so I have no idea if what Marie and I made ended up close to what it should be like.

Again, I "made" chicken thighs from breasts.  I find it really interesting that you essentially dredge the chicken in curry powder and salt.  I have learned that brand really does matter when it comes to spices.  Spending a bit more on your spices will result in tastier dishes.  For a middle of the line spice, I have enjoyed the quality of Target's Archer Farms brand.

Once again, my GREEN cast iron enameled dutch oven turned out a spectacular dish.  Have you bought yourself a magic pot yet??  This is the olive oil, curry powder, shallots, and ginger.  This was my first cooking experience with shallots.  I should get brownie points for not puréeing them!

Thinking about what I learned in the Beef Stew with Beer and Israeli Chicken Sofrito, I braised the chicken in three batches.  In part, I did so because I did not understand that you cooked the chicken and then started adding the rest of the ingredients on top of it.  I ended up setting aside the chicken for later.

Rest assured, I was careful to scrape all the juices and tasty bits back into the pot when it was time.

The sight of my pot in this condition no longer worries me, because I know it will be nearly clean by the time the dish is done.

This is where I diverged from the recipe, not understanding the chicken was to remain.  However, I think the way I did it prevented the chicken from overcooking.  This is the stock, ginger, lemon grass, Golden Mountain® Seasoning Sauce, sugar, and carrots cooking up first.

When Marie and I made it, I chose the largest sweet potato I had.  This photo is not from tonight, but from our lunch.  When I made the second batch, I flat out put in two sweet potatoes. I wanted the dish to be a tad more hearty.  And I just loved how they came out in the first batch.

What I decided to do with the chicken was to first put in the sweet potatoes and coconut milk, stirring until the latter was blended in, and then laid the chicken pieces on top.  I thought that way they would ensure all the sweet potato bits cooked.  I covered the pot and cooked it for 15 minutes before uncovering it to reduce the liquid a bit.  You know me and reducing!

So, this evening, I ended up with seven servings.  Want to come over for a meal??

I have been working very, very, very hard at not wasting food.  In this area, I have made significant strides.  A part of that effort has been to use the pint jars for my meals, because a quart jar is really three servings for me, two for most adults.  I am trying to thaw out only what I need to eat.  Clearly, having chosen all pint jars, I am not actually planning on sharing this batch of curry.  However, when Becky and her mother were here, I simply got out three pint jars of stew for dinner one evening.  So....

In the past month, the only waste I have had is some iceberg lettuce that I did not finish in time and a cucumber that went bad on me before I could use it.  I think I need cucumber-choosing-lessons.

Anyway, at lunch, Marie had the bright idea of cooking up some naan to sop up all that tasty curry sauce.  We might possibly have cooked two pieces each.  I think I am a horribly gluttonous influence on her.

Our dessert today was Nutella Rice Krispy Treats.  Marie labored long and hard preparing it for us.  I am not posting a photo because these are incredibly wicked, horribly addictive, totally unredeeemable things.  I do not want to tempt you.  Nor will I discuss just how many of my half of the pan are actually still in the freezer.

Speaking of dessert, I got the bright idea of bartering some of the Double Chocolate Dr Pepper Cake with Marie, since she is not a great fan of making desserts, but is a huge fan of eating them.  I made an offer.  She countered.  I accepted.  Then she brought over a loaf of homemade bread to see if we could barter further.  Our bartering means that I really might be able to make it to the end of the month without spending any more money save for two prescriptions and the cardiologist co-pay.

And, despite having fed extra mouths this month, I believe that I will only need to spend half my grocery budget next month, with all the extra food production I have done.  Primarily, I shall be buying dairy, fruits, and vegetables.  And flour, of course.  I will need more roasted cumin in the near future.

Long after Marie left, I was still high on the realization that we had conquered a Vietnamese dish.  So, I channeled that energy into tackling a few outstanding items:

  • I fetched my glasses.  I can see a tad better, but the left eye is still blurry. I am trying to gird my loins to insist that the doctor see me again instead of all this three-way conversations.  However, I agreed to wear them over the weekend to see how I "adjusted" to them.
  • I did two returns whilst at Walmart.  [I ended up sitting on the floor because the line was so long and all the wheelchair shopping carts were taken.]
  • I stopped by Best Buy and made the smallest of purchases so that my credit account—not used since I bought my television many years ago—would not be canceled, as was warned in a mailing I received last month.
  • I found the receipt to return the unopened spices that match the ones Becky brought me from her new store and put the spice jars and receipt in the front seat of my car.  [My total returns will almost cover one of the final two prescriptions this month.] 
  • I finally got TD Ameritrade to close this long "closed" account.  They are sending me a check for $0.67 to do so.
  • I called the Medicare company and finally confirmed that they found the second check and will soon be applying it to my account.
  • I called the insurance company to request the form faxed to the surgeon to have my new medication authorized so it will be covered.
  • I mailed the consent form for the Medicare medical supply company to (hopefully) move the process along in getting the blood sugar testing supplies sent to the house.
  • I checked in with the surgeon's nurse since Monday marks the likely beginning of the next rough spate of time if the new medication is not working.
  • I ran and then emptied the dishwasher.

This evening, I enjoyed a fire and then gave in and made another batch of the curry.  Now that I am finished, I have typed up the recipes on my recipe rememberer blog and am enjoying a pot of tea as the fire dies down.  On the morrow, I have to fetch the erythromycin, but then I plan on going back to an agenda that consists solely of copious amounts of resting.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!