On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kauai 2009: Unplugged

It’s kind of funny to me to realize that this is our fifth visit to Kauai since we’ve been married. First of all, Tom and I both love to travel and we used to talk about how it’s not worth going to the same place over and over again when there are so many places to see in the world. Second, Tom is not a beach person. He’ll be the first to tell you that his last choice of a vacation would be a beach, where he’d sip a fruity drink while basking in the sun, and I’m sure when we tell people that we’re coming to Hawaii that’s probably what they picture us doing. However, on our first visit to Kauai, we both fell in love with the island. It is truly a relaxing, laid back place. Tom always leaves the island feeling completely renewed even with the long plane rides and jet lagged kids – which is pretty amazing! I’ve also found that it’s nice to come somewhere a little bit familiar when you have two little ones tagging along. Tom says that I’ve already memorized every road on the island and that is just one of the benefits of coming here. When we got off the plane on Friday night, we knew the whole drill – where to get luggage and rental car as well as how to get to the local stores for supplies. Life is much happier for everyone because much of the usual stress associated with arriving at a new destination is diminished. Of course, there’s always some stress but I even found that this time, knowing what causes the stress and expecting it helped me to deal with it much better.

Our favorite place on the island is the North. However, it’s over an hour drive from the airport and the best supply shopping. Because of this, our usual plan is always to spend the first part of our trip in the south – however, just one night this time. After a quick visit to the beach, we did some more shopping before heading north. On Kauai, we always stay in condos that have full kitchens. We stock up on food and eat in most of the trip. It’s much easier and cheaper to do things that way, especially when dealing with jet lagged children. We discovered that the hard way. When Caedmon was 5 months old we brought him to Kauai to celebrate our 3rd anniversary (I know, we are truly romantics). That was our first stay on the north shore and we made reservations at a nice restaurant. We booked the earliest time possible but 6 pm was 11 pm for Caedmon and he had no interest in dining. Our romantic dinner for two ended up being a solo dining experience with Tom dealing with Caedmon in the parking lot while I wolfed down my food and savored gulped my wine and then traded off with Tom so he could taste a bit of the gourmet food. That was the end of our dreams of Hawaiian gourmet dining-out with children. Since the kids are now older, we may eat out a bit more this time, but most likely, it will be lunches. But we are hoping to get a night out and really enjoy that restaurant this year. (one of the benefits of bringing grandma along)

All of that to say we traveled north on the second day and settled into our condo for the upcoming week. After unloading the car and stocking the kitchen, Caedmon's enthusiasm took us all out to the beach, i.e. the giant sandbox! Libby keeps calling the ocean a giant "pool." We had to drag Caedmon off the beach for dinner and bedtime...with promises of lots of sand/water play the rest of the week.

Jet lag seems to be wearing off much more quickly this time and both kids slept all night and awoke just in time for the sunrise.
The rest of our week here will be rather mundane but for us the most enjoyable - the nonstop sound of ocean waves 24/7, lots of sand castle building and wave jumping, and long afternoon naps. For the most part we're even unplugged (of course, Tom's fancy Blackberry would work even on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro) - no TV, radio or Internet at the resort. We have to walk to a nearby restaurant to access WiFi. Our camera works just fine though. Shhh! Tom doesn't know it but I even got a picture of our high end maid service that came free with the premium ocean front condo!

Finally, the picture you've all been waiting for...

Our deluxe free maid service - cleans up after every meal!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kauai 2009: Jets and Jet Lag

Well, we survived the plane flight and the first night, so vacation has officially begun! WooHoo!

Thanks to anyone who prayed for our journey. In an unusual break from his strict routine, Tom (AKA the "Packing Nazi") actually allotted for ONE suitcase to be checked in on the airplane... all this despite him bringing for himself one pair of swim trunks and a pair of shorts, along with 2 t-shirts, and a Hawaiian shirt, and with feet in sandals... stating all the while that he would just buy whatever wardrobe he needed when he got there! So, with our Radian-60 and Radian-80 car-seats strapped onto each of our backs, our usual two small knapsacks, Ergo child carrier, (and NO STROLLER this time) we were off for Kauai! We had briefly considered renting the car-seats, but on one of our early trips we quickly learned that the car-seats that you rent for $5-10/day are very cheap and seldom secure well into the rental car... so despite the hassle of lugging our own, we felt that safety and comfort for Caedmon and Libby were well worth it.

Tom and I were both wary of the 8 hour flight with the kiddos. As usual, we over-prepared for Caedmon. We shelled out some dough to buy on-flight entertainment for him (a Leapster2 complete with several game cartridges, several DVD movies, even brought our airplane power adapter for our laptop - none of which he has ever needed on our previous trips) and we never had to get it out! He did fantastic! A Color Wonder coloring book, food, a nap, and the in-flight movie showing of Wall-E entertained him. Libby also rose to the occasion. While she was a little more challenging than her big brother, she still far exceeded our expectations. She even took a long nap (maybe close to 3 hours) and she and I took a stroll down the aisles, where she befriended as many fellow passengers as she could with her smile and toddling. She had a few fussy times but they were relatively short. The best part was that we were in one of those sections where there are only about 10 rows at most and half of the passengers in our section were kids under the age of 8. That took away most of the stress when either of the kids did have a loud moment. Everyone was in the same boat so you could feel the empathy emanating in the cabin. The flight attendants were super friendly and expressed their willingness to be patient with the kid cabin, too. Overall, the packing and travel to get here was probably the least stressful we have ever experienced as a family. Praise God! That could only have been a result of lots of prayer!!

The first night was fairly sleepless as we expected. The kids handled the late night better than we could have imagined, though. By the time we landed in Kauai, it was 9:30 pm Texas time. We were pretty certain that Libby was going to be done for the night, but she hung in there through the car rental, initial 1st night grocery/supply shopping, and was still going strong as we settled into our oceanfront condo. The lights went out around 8 pm (1 am Texas time) and both kids were on adrenaline highs. Libby did end up in bed with us for a while and then awoke around 2 am. Caedmon soon joined her. They had "breakfast" of bananas and cheerios and enjoyed the sound of crashing waves from the balcony. Everyone was back to bed by 4 am and slept until 6:30 when we went out for a stroll on the beach. The grown-ups don't feel particularly rested, but we're on vacation and we have hope for future nights.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hours Away Before Vacation Begins

Somewhere along the road I have taken, something has changed within me. It came oh so silently... subtlely... I didn't even recognize I had changed until it became a comfortable part of me. When I was a teenager, there was a youthfulness within... carefree and capricious I was. I felt as if nothing ever got the best of me and the tugs of my heart led my emotions and actions, driving me to pursue life as my passions declared. Ahh, to be young again and so naive. Even during my college years, essentially I was young at heart. However, with the passage of time and the experiences of life, most importantly, the toll of being a physician in an acute setting such as mine where the fine line between life and death is so easily manipulated... I have grown "OLD" and not necessarily in a good way. In this microcosm of our society, what does it take for one to be an anesthesiologist practicing in a trauma center? The ability to make snap decisions that may have repercussions too hard to bear for the patients and their families, the ability to shut down your human feelings and face the futility in trying to save the good lives that can't be saved, yet instead going all-out in order to save the drug dealers and users who shoot and stab one another, keeping alive the criminals who shoot our police officers, dealing with the constant barrage of the very sick day in and day out, taking care of patients who don't care to take care of themselves and thereby wasting resources/time/money by manipulate the healthcare system, providing free care for undocumented aliens who cross the border to have "American" babies, seeing incompetent healthcare professionals harm those they pledge to care for... the list goes on and on. Is it a wonder how physicians can become so jaded? Now, these obviously are the bleaker aspects of the job. There are the bright moments as well... taking care of those I know, enjoying the camaraderie of fellow co-workers who daily join me in the operating theater battlefield, making a difference with excellent care when I take care of the elderly (who are at times so defenseless), and having the rare patient recognize the importance and value of what anesthesiologists do. This is a profession that often goes without thanks. When the job is done right, the patients don't really remember much of me. I don't do it for the recognition. The risks are high, being ever watchful and wary of needle sticks and blood/body fluid exposures from patients with infectious life threatening diseases. But, someone has to do it. This is my "playground" - this is where I play at work, enjoy the case complexity, rise to the challenges presented.

It is a wonder that we exist as who we are. So fallen and so sinful man is. The world we live in is so messed up. From the time of the Garden, when the 1st Adam gave up our unity with God by believing in the lie that we could be like Him... how sad God must have been at the marring of His unique creation. Yet, because we are made in His image, we retain the intrinsic ability to create as well. We too, in the medical profession, try to heal what has been diseased, though only in part, albeit never in the way that God can. Shocking the amazing grace and undeserved gift of the 2nd Adam, in Christ. We are but pawns who Satan has seduced into thinking are gods in this fallen world. The ultimate victory was won long ago in ages past. We just don't remember anymore, though God wrote it down for us to read. Imagine the day when we will be healed, renewed, resurrected.. in bodies indestructable. The question is - will we be there standing with Jesus on that day? or will we be cast out and destroyed forever? There is a cost in following Jesus... you will lose the world. He said simply to "Follow Me"... and gain Heaven. But He also gave heed that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God". As a "Christian", I have found that it is all too easy to quote scripture (expecially when blogging because I can just google the text) and get on a soap-box, but the actual application of it to my life goes too easily forgotten once I am done tapping on the keyboard. I say this, because when I think of the people I work with, so many claim to be on the side of Christ, yet in the daily battleground, I cannot tell friend from foe. At times, it is unclear which side I am on myself. How can we ALL say we belong to Christ when we are the ones murdering, theiving, lusting, adultering, hoarding, sueing, gossiping, deceiving, arguing, slandering and trying to one-up one another... our own Christian brothers and sisters? I see crosses hung around the necks of co-workers. Some even like to say they go to this church and that church. I hear Christian catch words and phrases inrermingled in their conversations. I see supposedly good people claiming the high and mighty Christian road when it is convenient, and when faced with confrontation they respond with hatred, subterfuge, and back-stabbing. I see people throwing one another under the bus in order to cover their own butts (to put it nicely). Is it a wonder Christians have a bad rap? This is who we are Monday through Saturday - this is what I see a "Christian" really is. The reality of who we really are is too hard to accept... so we don't. It is easier to believe that who we are - are those who but for a brief hour on Sunday morning somewhat dress up (or dress down in our contemporary churches), put on our artificial crosses and halos, and shake each others hands - winking at one another at just how good it is to be a part of this so-called Christian club and how good life will be when we all go to Heaven. This is the filthy mud and slime of the life we live.

"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."   Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
Matthew 7:14, 21-23

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. 
James 1:22-26

As the great theologian from the 1800's, JC Ryle would put it... "A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing. A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown."

I want to have the strength of the character of Pilgrim, in Paul Bunyon's timeless allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress... He (Pilgrim) answered, "Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment, and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second." Then said Evangelist, "Why not willing to die, since this life is attended with so many evils?"... Then said Evangelist, "If this be thy condition, why standest thou still?" He answered, "Because I know not whither to go." Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there was written within, "Fly from the wrath to come." The man therefore read it... So I saw in my dream that the man began to run... and ran on crying, “Life! life! eternal life!”

Oh, the road to eternity is so hard when we think so much of ourselves. Vacation is coming and I so look forward to a renewal of spirit and energy with family time, rest, and marveling at how God's creation through the majesty and beauty of nature testifying to who He really is.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Girl!

When we spend some time with Libby around here, the same word keeps popping up - JOY! She is so full of life. She keeps smiles and laughter always present in our house.

I think both Tom and I would agree that we love the excitement of bringing a new baby home but it is just plain hard for the 6 months...or maybe the first year Yes, there are moments of fun and joy but once that baby starts talking and walking, we finally start to reap the benefits of the sleepless nights and demanding days of the past year. With Libby now 14 months old, we are reaping abundantly these days.

As you read in a prior post, Libby is on the move! In the past week, she has gone from taking a few steps when encouraged to choosing to walk to her destination. She's still not a full blown walker, but she's not far from it. Every day, her confidence grows. She's very excited about her new skill, too. Instead of a look of caution, she has a full open mouthed smile like this is the most fun she's had in all her life.

My dad has been visiting this week and he, too, keeps commenting on Libby's happy personality. One of her favorite games to play with Pappy is peek-a-boo. It's not the mild mannered peek-a-boo with which you are probably familiar. Oh no! With Libby, peek-a-boo involves using her whole body and lots of laughs as she squats down behind the ottoman and pops up giggling away! She's also into Pat-a-Cake. She will grab our hands and make us clap and she's not happy with just one time. She wants us to keep playing and playing and playing.

Walking is not the only skill she is developing. Libby's vocabulary grows daily as well. We have been trying to use some sign language with her and she is using it pretty well. She knows what she needs to do to communicate! She was sick with croup this past week and it was such a blessing that she was able to communicate with us a little even if it was just to tell us when she was all done with a middle of the night drink.

Even when she's not directly communicating with us, it's obvious that language intrigues her. One of her favorite things is her toy phone. She walks around with it all the time. She always answers "hello!" and then she will proceed to babble into the phone for minutes on end. I guess I must set a bad example for that one! She also loves to hang out by the book shelf. She will pull books down and flip the pages, pretending to read aloud. I must admit that I haven't done as well at reading to her as I do with Caedmon. However, she does hear us reading all day. She just doesn't get as much board book time as her brother did. She's subjected to more "grown up" picture books. I need to make more of an effort to give her equal time, especially now that she's willing to sit through a book.

Part of her bedtime routine is to read Mem Fox's Time for Bed. She is quite an active part of the reading time. She tells us many of the animal sound and does several signs. After we read the book, I pray for her and she ends the prayer by saying "mmmMEN!" Then, I always get my bedtime hug. She still seems to discriminate and give most hugs to mommy and kisses to daddy.

We can't imagine life with out our Libby! I pray that she will maintain a joyful spirit throughout her life and that she will be a blessing to all who meet her.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

No More Naps?!?

Caedmon has been trying to convince us (and maybe himself) that he is growing out of his need for naps. Several days a week, he spends nap time playing in his room. That would be okay if: 1. he could really do without the sleep and 2. he still let me have my free time.

Some days he seems to do okay without the nap. It's on days we've had a busy, active morning that the nap bans surprise me. Such was the case on Monday. Caedmon had SoccerTots at noon and ran for a whole 50 minutes! He had also gone to bed late the night before and arisen early as usual. Still, he chose nap avoidance. I was quite frustrated by this since I had been up caring for a sick Libby the night before and really needed a restful nap myself.

Alas, once Libby awoke from her nap, I decided to pack the kids in the car to make a grocery run. Mind you, the nearest grocery store is literally 1/4 mile from our house - a 2 minute drive at most. As we pulled into the parking lot of the store, Caedmon's voice chimed from the backseat..."Mama, can I ride in the TV cart?" I told him that would be fine and proceeded to park the car. I decided to carry L-girl in the Ergo backpack carrier since she was sick. Once I had her secure on my back, I went to Caedmon's side to let him out of his seat. He was sound asleep! He would not budge...not even with the promise of a ride in the TV cart. I decided that I would not let him foil my trip, especially since he would probably awaken once we got home. Instead, I put him into a shopping cart (still asleep mind you). I kept thinking that being jostled by the bumpy road would awaken him...or perhaps the noisy store...or the fact that his head kept bobbing every which way. Alas, the boy slept through the entire trip!!!

He even made it home and slept for another hour on my bed. So much for not needing a nap!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Weekend Visitor (written by Caedmon)

Aunt Mary came to visit this weekend. We played swords. I swam with Aunt Mary. She taught me how to do a yo-yo. I played the animal matching game with Aunt Mary and I matched the animals and there were all kinds. And then, a big bolt of fire came down and then some water poured down. Oh wait...that happened in the Kung Fu Panda movie that Aunt Mary and I watched together. We took Aunt Mary to eat dumplings. They were yummy! And, we got to see the train before we went into the dumpling house. Aunt Mary and I made a sandman (an August snowman) in my sandbox. I miss Aunt Mary. I hope she comes back to visit soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

Some of Caedmon's latest sayings:

-When I grow up I am going to be a daddy just like my daddy because he is a good daddy.

-While reading the book Daddy Kisses with Libby, we were saying all of the animal sounds as we read about each animal daddy. When we got to the "My Daddy" page, I asked Caedmon what a Daddy says and his response was, "Daddy says... I LOVE YOU CAEDMON! I LOVE YOU LIBBY!"

-At Caedmon's favorite restaurant earlier this week, the meal was served. He took his first bite and exclaimed, "Mom, this macaroni is FANTASTIC!"

-Driving down the nearest main road, which has been under construction for all of Caedmon's life, he saw an excavator sitting on top of a large pile of dirt. "Mama, do you see that digger. It's ENORMOUS!"

...and best of all, at random points throughout the day, Caedmon will look at me and say, "Mama, I love you!" or yell from afar, "Mama, I need to tell you something" and when I respond, he says, "I LOVE YOU!"

I'm recording that one on my heart to replay during his teenage years...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Look Who's Walking!

Libby was a slow bloomer in the vertical skills. She didn't stand for the first time until she was almost 11 months old. But once she figured out how much more of the world could be accessed on two feet there was no stopping her. She went from standing to cruising pretty quickly and she has no trouble figuring out how to get from here to there. I wasn't in too much of a hurry for her to walk but then again, with a beach vacation in a few weeks, Tom and I were thinking that a walking Libby would involve a little less sand in the mouth. Still, I had my doubts that she would develop any kind of proficiency in 2 weeks.

You see, Caedmon, for all of his monkey antics these days, was quite a cautious toddler in the early days. From standing to walking was at least a 4 month process and the first 3 weeks of "walking" involved taking 2 steps per day. His balance, on the other hand, was superb. From 11 months, he could stand without holding on and by his first birthday, he was able to stand for 10 minutes in the middle of a room playing with toys, squatting to pick up something that dropped and standing once again. By the time he actually walked at 13 months, there was no looking back. He was sturdy and fast. We didn't experience many of the bumps and bruises that most parents of new walkers fear.

I now see that Miss Libby may provide quite a different story. Because yesterday she took her first two steps...followed by 6 more steps and then another 4 and...well, you get the picture. She is not ready to give up on the crawling but she has no fear of going ahead full force with her new skill. A few times, this involved two steps followed by throwing her body to the person nearest her. And, at least once, I was very thankful for the ugly primary colored tumbling mats covering our concrete family room floors. I thought I'd be able to trade those in soon, but it appears that she'll be needing a soft landing for a bit longer.

We're excited for Libby as we see her master these new skills. It's so amazing to watch her grow and develop. She's communicating a lot more, too, but I'll save that for another post. For now, I'll leave you with a demonstration...

Animal Adventures

Like most kiddos in their first years of life, my children LOVE animals. It's no wonder since most of our children's book library has books with animals as their main character. Anyway, over the past few weeks we've done lots of animal activites so here's a recap.

During the last week of July, Caedmon attended "Zoo Camp." He got to spend 3 hours every morning at the Fort Worth Zoo learning about animals. He thought it was about the best activity he did all summer...maybe in all his short little life. The zookeeper brought animals to their classroom almost every day (an owl, a snake, etc) and each day they also took a field trip into the zoo. Beyond this and the fact that they got to ride the zoo train, sit "criss cross applesauce" and had to raise their hands before asking the zookeeper questions, I'm not sure what else occurred in those 3 hours but I do know that Caedmon was sad for the week to end and is praying that we let him go back next year.

We also spent a Saturday morning at the Dallas Children's Museum with some friends. While it wasn't all animals, one of the highlights was the farm area where Caedmon got to milk a cow! It wasn't a live cow, but still, he got to sit on a stool and pull the udders and water came out (that just sounds strange, huh?). He thought it was pretty cool!

And, in fact, he got to milk another cow at Heritage Farmstead Museum a few weeks later. On a tip from another blog, we found out that the farm has a special story time/tour on summer Thursdays so we rounded up some friends and went for a visit last Thursday. On the Farmer Duck tour, we got to feed the chickens, milk the cow - "not a real cow, but it had a face" says Caedmon - and do other farm chores from days of yore. (that's a bit of Caedmon's green shirt peeking out from under the cow)

Our most recent animal activity was a Sunday morning trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center or as Caedmon calls it, "The Safari Zoo." Sunday mornings are generally church time but Libby had a rash that would have kept her out of the nursery and we all had a bit of cabin fever so why not enjoy God's amazing creation! We love Fossil Rim so much that we hold yearly membership and wish we could visit more than we do. The big highlight for this trip was when the giraffes ate out of our hands! Yes, they stuck their big ole heads into the window and licked the feed right out of our hands. Caedmon and I were thrilled to befriend these giant creatures. Libby was a little less certain. Caedmon also claims brushing the goats at the petting zoo as one of his highlights. In his words, "I love the giraffes....I love goats."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why? Why? Why?

Caedmon has hit that stage that every parent dreads. The "Why?" stage. Lately, every car ride with my son involves at least 5,346 questions that begin with the word "Why?" and I don't know the answer to about 5,345 of those questions. It's quite fun. So in the spirit of Caedmon, I am coming to you with my very own "Why?" question...

Why are ducks always portrayed as yellow?

Libby has been learning lots of new words and recently she seems to have picked up "duckie." As she practices this word, I realized that every toy duck and most ducks in picture books are yellow. However, I cannot recall ever seeing a yellow duck in real life. There is a duck pond at the park near our house and most of the ducks there are multi-colored - brown, green, white - or on occasion we'll spot a white duck with a yellow bill. Tom and I tried looking up our answer online but the best we got was some bulletin boards where people had comments such as, "ducks aren't yellow, retard." So very helpful!

Do any of you bloggy friends have a better answer for this puzzled mama?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Doctor's Great Fear

As of this past June, I have finished 11 years of work as an anesthesiologist. For a physician, one the worst things that can happen to potentially destroy a career is the dreaded lawsuit. Up until last Friday, there had been just one hiccup that seriously made me question my desire to continue in this career.

The first occurred in 2002 in an attempt at a frivoulous lawsuit concerning a patient who was mad at the surgeon and hospital for the overall care he received for elective surgery. I was also named as part of the suit when the opposing lawyer noticed that a paramedic student was in the OR with me and had been given a chance to place the patient's breathing tube for surgery and had cut the patient's lip slightly with the metal laryngoscope. Lip lacerations don't happen too often, but it is not a big deal. Just like when your lips are chapped in the winter and they can split - that is usually what a lip laceration is like and it heals in a few days without any permanent damage or scar. The patient claimed he had no knowledge that the paramedic student was going to be in the operating room as part of the anesthesia team and thus, the lawyer accuseded me of negligence, malpractice, intent to harm, etc. Fortunately, the main hospital I work at is a teaching institution and every patient signs papers and consent forms when they are admitted that clearly inform them that as a teaching institution, there are students, residents, and so forth, will be part of the patient's care. Prior to surgery, they again sign consent forms for surgery and anesthesia that again inform them of the same. By signing these papers, they give their permission that this is normal practice for our hospital and that this is ok with them. After giving depositions and over a year's worth of worry and time wasted, the suit was dismissed just before it went to court. What a feeling as a huge weight of pain and torture was removed from my being. The lawsuit was gone... forever. It was great news, truly... but the experience of personally receiving a certified letter via courrier, and then seeing a law firm's name on the envelope, and having to open the envelope knowing full well what is inside, then having to read your name on legal documents declaring that you are being sued is one that you never want to experience. The immediate feeling is a immediate deflating of spirit, a pain and fear within, an intellectual "why me?", anger at our legal climate and the lawyers that encourage patients to sue out of the lawyer's greed at seeing the potential windfall if they win, and a deep sadness and questioning and double-guessing of professional ability, competence, and judgement. Thinking back to those years, I recall the loss of joy in going in for work, the constant fear in the back of my mind that if I didn't practice defensive medicine another lawsuit could just as easily be upon me, seeing every patient encounter as a potential lawsuit rather than as an opportunity to care for them and do what God has called me to do... I recall the loss of my passion and heart for my career as a physician. Frivoulous though the lawsuit was, it clearly was a defining moment. Like the loss of innocence we as children feel when despite our parent's best efforts to protect us, eventually our exposures in the real world show us how evil the world really can be... so too, the first lawsuit a physician receives alters him/her forever. I think even now, I can even rationalize it if I really did do something wrong and made an error. However, when frivoulous lawsuits are encouraged, for no obvious reason but to extort windfall jury awards against physicians and their insurance companies... gone are lofty ideals of why physicians ever enter the field of medicine. The ideals and mantra of "wanting to help people" becomes secondary to "how can I keep from being sued by this patient?". It is amazing that a part of our society and legal profession thrives on this.

So that brings me to two weeks ago, when again another envelope arrived by courier for me. I cannot talk about the case obviously for legal reasons. But yet again, it amazes me how a niche in the legal profession preys on physicians because they feel we theoretically have "deep pockets", being well insured. The merits of the suit in regards to myself are even more unfounded, in my opinion. So, it is with a heavy heart that I must endure yet again the legal process and the entire nauseating ride of emotions I will once again experience until the truth yet again prevails. I have grown in my maturity as a physician and this time around I understand "the system" a bit better. No matter the outcome, I know there is no guilt within me. Tragic though the case, the blame lies elsewhere and I am at peace with that knowledge. I know I have questioned my job in the past, but I do believe that I am where I am and doing what I am doing in order to accomplish God's greater plan. Even if I stray, I know in my core that Romans 8:28 holds total truth... "that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose".

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Wife Married a Heathen

I am disenchanted with the whole modern business of church.

We tithe, the church builds. Some sanctuaries now have stadium seating. Audio-Visual departments have gone professional. We long to sing hymns of praise, yet the worship experience is more akin to being at a rock concert. Can one really pay attention to the sermon, when there are film cameras / spotlights / microphone boom arms to distract? How many screens does it take to show a close-up of the pastor and worship team? How many satellite churches (watching live feeds of the service) does your church need to have before it has made the big time? When I get home, do I really want to log-in to my I-Tunes account and pay to download today's music program of the worship? Church grounds have become campuses. How many buildings are enough? Does yours have bounce houses, a pond with paddle boats, contemplation gardens too? What about parking lot traffic directors?

God's message is timeless, but modern thinking is that Christianity needs a new voice to survive, and only by catering to the young do churches keep their pews filled. Does your paster down-dress in order to be "cool"? Come as you are, wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals with lattes in hand... no problem. You no longer have to go across the street for a cup of coffee - the latest building renovation has included a coffeshop and a bookstore where you can buy books/art/music from the latest in-vogue mega-church pasters and Christian authors near and far. Every need can be met when you step through the modern church doors - there is an overwhelming sense explosion, emotionally and intellectually, of what the modern church experience can provide. The economy may be bad, but the coffers can be kept full with the right message to God's family. Actually, you don't even have to think about tithing - you can sign up for automatic weekly deductions from your bank account - no thinking involved... it's automatic!

Contempory is in, and Traditional is ... Traditional, what's that?

You say, but wait!, what about the great missions work of the church? We long to fulfill the great commandment. It seems to me that if every other church I hear about has overseas missions trips to the same far off places, these people groups must be doing quite well and Christianity must be spreading at a feverish pace. I wonder if they will someday see our country as in need of evangelizing! Missionaries are sent all over the world, yet many times we forget about the unchurched, the poor and homeless, the orphans and widows in our own communities.

The modern church machine keeps on churning... Congregations are so big now you just can't "just go to church". Just going to church is but a pittance, a gesture. But since you are there, please make the effort to feign interest and comfortableness in shaking every hand around you after the first round of pop christian songs are performed and the announcements are made. You're "doing church" wrong if you don't also belong to a small group within the church. The mantra is that "you need to get connected". Don't you really want to be a part of the church family? Belonging to one small group is good, but to two or more makes you an even better member. Oh, and don't forget about finding a community group to fit in with either.

Do you think Satan smiles when he hears of one of God's children talking like this?
My cynicism breeds dissatisfaction. Does anyone else see something awry?

So, am I better off for it? Am I a better Christian?

The alarm chimes, Another day of work.
O God, I should be thankful in uncertain financial times like these.
However, the thought doesn't cross my mind.

Gotta get up, gotta get going. Breakfast is not an option.
I am fast out the door before I awaken the little ones.

A quick kiss from my beloved wife and the promise of driving safely is forgotten as I speed down the highway.

What is my purpose? Where is my direction?
I didn't really see when and how I got in it, but have I become so accustommed to the rat-race that I now can't get off?

I leave God at home and go to work in order to bring home a paycheck. I plot and scheme, listen to and pass on gossip, look-out only for #1 on the corporate ladder, talk to co-workers and patients as if I were a heathen at times... More money is better and indirectly I find myself agreeing with the world that the more the merrier. I can still look down on the under-priviledged and down-trodden and feel as if I am better off and more secure. My paycheck affords me the lifestyle I am accustommed to.

I have a mortgage to pay down, a house to maintain, 2 cars to upkeep and save for another when the time comes, retirement plans to fund, organic food to buy, children's activities to pay for, clothes and toys for the growing children to buy, education to save for, a dream family vacation in paradise yet to be paid for...

What a comfortable life I have... I have almost everything I want.
Yet where is God in my life?

He is everywhere.

The problem is I just miss seeing His unbounding grace.

Through no work of my own, I am who I am. He made me. This I do not appreciate.

He has answered my prayers for a wife and for children. I am loved.
He has given my family and I health. He provides for our basic needs and boundlessly more beyond. He has placed a hedge of protection around us thus far.

He has given me the means to have luxury and comfort.
He blesses me and I immediatley forget that it was Him who gives.

He has been carrying me on his shoulders without me knowing it while I have been blindly flailing about, and like the timeless poem, leaving only one set of footprints in the sand along this part of the journey of my life.

I should be humbled, yet I am not. There is more for me to learn.

The war for my soul is not over. My heart needs renewal, to feel a new beating to the roar of Aslan as he calls his people to the front lines. The Earthly battle has begun and I am not aware that of late I have been sitting on the sidelines and that it is always Jesus doing the fighting for me.

The great adventure of Heaven is not yet begun, but if I choose the wrong side I will never experience it.

Jesus is our great king, but how do I acknowlege that daily?

My spirit has been troddened down by the world. It needs revival. My eyes need to see with a new clarity - looking through the lens of eternity, rather than the cloudy, murky, distorting, hypnotic, and beguiling lens of this world. Daily recognition of the enemy Satan and his minions as real and dangerous is paramount. When and where I err, I have the potential to lead my family astray. God's word says that the responsibility of being the spiritual leader in my family is mine. Oh that I not forget that calling!

I would pray, but I don't have the words. But Jesus has already given me the words...

Our Father, Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Give ME this day, MY daily bread
And forgive ME MY sins, as I forgive those who sin against ME
And lead ME not into temptation, But deliver ME from evil
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
Amen !
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